Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who Has the Worst Job in Fiction?

For some reason I got to thinking this morning about how innkeepers in fantasy novels really have it made. Everyone always seems to have a good time, it's warm and cozy inside, there's a fire going, the ale is flowing, and the place is usually packed. At least, until the hero shows up, gets attacked, and everyone starts breaking stuff.

So. Who has the worst job in fiction?

Is it the non-hero who accompanies two main characters on a dangerous mission in science fiction?

An orc soldier (smelly AND dangerous)?

James Bond's mechanic?






142 comments:

robalay said...

What about dungeon design engineers? Their best efforts are constantly being thwarted. It would be tough to build a resume like that.

Kaitlyne said...

The red shirts!

Brooke said...

The no-named guy that dies first in a story... either in the tavern brawl, the bandit ambush, or any other sort of fight. I always feel that guy deserves a name for his efforts.

TaraNator said...

What about the sidekick who gets all the crap but never gets the girl? Or the minor character who always gets killed in some horrific manner (a la Kenny hah).

Daisy Harris said...

Romance novel heroine's girlfriend.

Hero's best bud is usually a charming ladies man, and is almost certain to hook up in a sequel.

Heroine's phone-friend is either slutty, with a horrible guy, or trapped in boring marriage. She *may* be redeemed later- a la Bridget Jones, but more often is always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

(Except in Kresley Cole novels- those chicks hook up in sequels. One of reasons I love KC.)

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Ahahahaha Kaitlyne, I was going to say the red shirts, too XD

Any big, brutish, ugly person/creature whose sole purpose is to be big and threatening. They're always deployed to crush the hero, and they always end up with their heads chopped off or a wand up the nose or something.

Amanda said...

Definitely the wench: always serving, never served. She doesn't get the chance to glisten; her sweat drops on sawdust floors and mingles with all the other potions in the always-medieval-for-some-reason, never-filled-with-freshly-groomed-men pit of despair where there is always a wench known for little other than her wenchfulness.

T.N. Tobias said...

Think about who has to clean-up after the 30,000 strong orc war party comes strolling through town. Fantasy settings seem to leave out the sanitation engineers that must exist. In fact, the only story I can even think of that deals with someone having to clean up poo is Hercules and the Augean Stables.

Jamie said...

The villian...he/she always works tirelessly to get what they want and always fail in the end.

Katzie said...

The hero's assistant who loyally fulfills his or her duties but then gets killed by the villain as a way getting at the hero.

TaraNator said...

The annoying gossip whose sole purpose is to start trouble. No one ever likes her & tries to stay away from her. Perhaps we should look at her past & try to understand what makes her a meddling old hag. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The parent in kids-fic. They either have to put up with a spotty angsty teenager, or they're dead.

- NM

C Scott Morris said...

I agree, it's the Evil Overlord who has the worst job. Has to spend his days trampling freedoms underfoot, exploiting the masses, killing those who fail him, etc.
And what does he get for his troubles? The hero shows up and kills him. Worst retirement package ever.

CobraMisfit said...

The cops. They always seem to show up thirty seconds after the main character needed them the most (same goes for TV shows). And no matter how much training they go through, they always walk into the ambush that the main character warned them about.

Brooks said...

The whipping boy. I mean, the job title speaks for itself.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Yeah, it's definitely Lt. Fodder in space sci-fi. You can't get much worse than a certain and ignominious death.

Anonymous said...

Why is nobody considering the main villain? Sure, he usually makes his minions do all the dirty work, but sometimes they're lucky enough to sneak off without getting killed (or maybe the heroes have mercy on them and let them go). Whereas the villains always get killed eventually. . .

Ping!

M.A.Leslie said...

Argus Filch...Hands down worst job in all of the fiction world. He works in a magical castle with magical students and can not use magic. I have alway felt sorry for him and always wished he could have a new job.

Down the well said...

"The wench: always serving, never served."

Love it.

bobhussey said...

Of course it's the hero's mother. She's always worried about him.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I guess some people did mention the main villain--they weren't up yet when I posted . . .

Ping!

Mary Hoffman's Newsletter said...

The question was "in faction" no? Not just fantasy. So I nominate:

Jo, the crossings-sweeper in Bleak House

Mark Terry said...

Anyone wearing a red shirt in a Star Trek tie-in novel.

CobraMisfit said...

Or what about the hero himself? He (or she) rarely asks to thwart a crisis and everyone around them die in messy, yet cleverly designed ways. Maybe all he wants is to sip Merlot with his sidekick and flirt with the wench. . . .

Shennandoah Diaz said...

I hear H.S. Principal is becoming the messiest and most dangerous job. Often times the school is invested with vampires, demons, werewolves, and cheerleaders. They put up with it only to be eaten by a dragon that appears during an eclipse (oh yes, Whedon, I rejoiced when Buffy's principal was finally eaten). The state of the education system these days. No wonder our kids can't concentrate on their studies!

Jenn Marie said...

The beat cop or security guard in suspense novels. Just doing their job, thisclose to a commendation or promotion for noticing a clue that nobody else did, when WHAM. Serially killed.

Anonymous said...

In my story it's the knight who has to, against his better judgment, provide, protect and care for 3 whiney, self-absorbed teenagers while fighting a war brought on by an arrogant dragon and a narcissistic sorcerer.

pookha said...

Mystic stones. They're always being dug up and used to try to take over the world.

Marie said...

Oh, easily the Best Friend of the YA Hero or Heroine Who Has Always Loved Hero/Heroine But Will Never Get Lucky Because Hero/Heroine Meets Some Other Mysterious Yet Beautiful Person. :)

heather said...

Incarceron has the worst job, far and away.

Nate Wilson said...

It's gotta be tough being the chief inspector or head detective in a mystery. Not only do they arrest the wrong guy every single time, but they're constantly shown up by someone with no formal training whatsoever.

Those poor, arrogant fools.

Melody said...

I've always felt sorry for the best-friend-of-hero, usually slightly nerdy, never gets the girl... I mean, really?

Also, little brothers and sisters in MG/YA novels. They're (almost) always annoying pests who get in the way. Makes me sad. (That's one reason I like Louis Sachar's THE CARDTURNER, Jennifer Brown's HATE LIST, and even Suzanne Collin's GREGOR THE OVERLANDER et al.)

Spicer said...

The chief of police. He is either having to deal with a loose cannon hero, or being killed by some unknown monster, or being corrupt thus being killed by the hero, or having to stop the party of young kids wanting to have fun, or being the doubter of an obviously supernatural situation.

Essentially, he either has a lot of unnecessary PR work to do caused by the 'hero', or comes off really bland and stupid, or is destined to be dead (actually, no matter what this seems to be the conclusion). Not really the ideal job for most people I know.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Random stableboys. They always seem to get caught up in the attack and either dismembered or killed, at least in the books I've read.

Marilyn Peake said...

Main characters in literary fiction - oh, the tragic lives they lead!

Marilyn Peake said...

Oh, and I agree with Kaitlyne and Mark Terry - Star Trek redshirts definitely have one of the worst jobs in fiction.

J. T. Shea said...

Black sidekicks! And if the black guy is also anonymous and wears a red shirt he won't last a reel, or chapter.

Some wenches are wretched. I call the wrenches. They're not the sharpest tools in the box...

Bethany Mattingly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lora96 said...

The hero's girl in fantasy novels. She's forever being kidnapped and used as a pawn. Any spunk she displays results in automatic disaster and the necessity of further rescue which, I'm sorry to say, the hapless girl never appreciates properly. She is both inept and somewhat uppity.

Emily White said...

It's the antagonist! He works just as hard, if not harder, than the protag and he ALWAYS loses. That's gotta really suck.

ilana said...

Redshirts on Star Trek! I guess technically that isn't fiction, although Star Trek has lived on in paperback novelizations.

Mira said...

The murder victim in any murder mystery.

They're doomed. Little comfort if Hercule Periot finds your killer if you're already dead.

Fun topic, fun comments.

Illyria Books at Twitter said...

Pity Dr Alfred Prunesquallor and the loathesome obligation of looking after the Countess Gertrude and Abiatha Swelter.

Ermo said...

Robert Langdon's students. He's never there to teach them a gosh darn thing.

Anonymous said...

The worst job is the hero.

Hands down.

Writer has to torment the hell of them. Yeah, they may win in the end, but they have to pass through sooooo much to get there.

Lorenda said...

I'm with Daisy - it's the romance novel heroine's best friend. In addition to what she said, I'd like to add that they have to listen to the heroine whine about the hero. . . and then watch as the heroine completely ignores her advice and does something stupid.

Eli Ashpence said...

The hero's horse. He rarely gets appreciation, he's always pressured to be smarter than other horses, and he has to be physically fit enough to cover an impossible distance in a single day.

Livia said...

The mentor figure in Western coming of age stories. They always end up dying so the protagonist can come into his own.

Dumbledore, Sirius, Allanon, Yoda, Obiwan Kenobi, Gandalf (although he comes back)

Stephanie McGee said...

Whoever draws the short straw and gets to wear the red shirt.

Anita Saxena said...

The poor parents in fantasy YA who have no clue about the paranormal shenanigans their kids are up to. They probably blame themselves for their children's behavior.

Jessica Lei said...

LOL Worse job = The parents

Half the time they're not even there.

Munk said...

Nicholas Cage.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the others above - the red shirt! (Or, in fantasy, I guess the red cape?)

Alternatively, how about the bad guy's right hand minion?

vnrieker said...

haha... i don't know who has the worst job, but this post made me laugh. good stuff.

Jeanie said...

The dead guy or gal in thrillers, mysteries, etc. Crappy job, lying there bloating, waiting for somebody, (usually the hero or heroine) to stumble across your discarded body. Hard to be sexy when you're beginning to smell and you have little or no job security . . .unless there's an opening in zombie romance.

Kel said...

I think it's the shy, hardworking taxi driver who's tired at the end of the long day and picks up his last passenger-- who, of course, is being pursued by gunmen who destroy the cabbie's car and morale.

jbeemills said...

Easiest? The third person omniscient narrator. He/she knows all the dirt and gets to dish it without getting dirty.

Deb said...

The worst job goes to scriveners, especially those named Bartleby. "Ah, the humanity!"

Janiel Miller said...

Worst job in fiction? Oh the copy editor. Absolutely.


"(It's) hard to be sexy when you're beginning to smell and have little or no job security . . ."

Jeanie, sounds like you've got the opening line of a zombie romance novel. :)

salima said...

villain's sidekick---always sniveling, cowardly, traitorous, possessing none of the ingenuity, bravado or narcissism of the villain....

salima said...

or, no!!!! i have it! the mentors in the "hunger games," who mentor doomed children year after year till they're driven to drinking or outright insanity!

mwahhhahhhaaa! i beat everybody!

Eleven Eleven said...

The villain's minion. Definitely. He signs up for a cause, but he's usually not smart enough to know it's the wrong one. He endures abuse so his boss can show off trademark cruelty for the reader. At the end, he's tossed aside or dragged along into the villain's dismal fate. Poor misguided victim of abuse, he's confused in his loyalty, just following orders.

Sasha said...

The hero's sidekick. The hero gets the fame, the girl and the witty lines. The sidekick gets beaten up all the time, no girl and has to act like an idiot whenever there is a need for comic relief.

Roy Hayward said...

I guess it depends...

1. If worst is "shortest life, or most assured death" then we are probably talking about the dudes guarding the the bad guy. They have a crummy job, standing in the cold, or heat, etc. and they get killed without much of a fight as a prelude to the real battle between good and evil.

2. But if worst is "survive to clean up" then we are talking about those villagers or farmers that scrape their living out on the edge of the kingdom. they are the first to get over run, and then when the good guys win, they have to go back and bury the bodies and rebuild their burnt out homes.

I guess its like Obi Wan says, “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view” and the worst job in fiction is a matter of perspective.

Mesmerix said...

The grunts, lowbies, tavern wenches. The guys who have to clean up the mess after the hero's done beating the literal snot out of the baddie. Who wants to mop up all that snot?

Worst. Job. Evar. And absolutely no credit bestowed upon them, most times not even a name.

Zee Lemke said...

Whoever said the hero's horse totally nailed it. Those poor animals! Unless the writer actually has a horseback riding hobby, a hero will often kill off several horses per book. Also more likely to be eaten than sidekicks.

If you're in a work of fiction, DON'T GET ORDAINED. Either you will turn out to be a twisted evil priest who breaks their vow of celibacy (or worshiped a dark god to start with), or you will get artistically tortured and murdered to make plot for the hero. If you're very, very lucky, you might end up in erotica and only have the emotional torture of being seduced out of your vows. But every moment of heartbreak will be lingered over lovingly.

You have more hope if you don't have a name, unlike most characters. If you do nothing but give confession and be as boringly doctrinal as possible, you might get away with only giving advice (good or bad).

Becky Wallace said...

The innkeeper in my book gets blown up. I'm pretty sure that had to suck.

Other than that, I have to go with the dungeon-slop-bucket-pusher-person. They go unidentified, but someone has to carry all that crap (maybe literal) to the prisoners and cart it away. Another thankless job.

Delia said...

The prostitute in any historical novel. Heart-of-Gold or no, her life is never, ever pleasant.

Rick Daley said...

The soldier who got blown up in Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN.

WORD VERIFICATION: tintsit. How the guy at the auto shop makes my car window darker.

I'm going to start tweeting my word verifications. Follow me @rjdaley101071

Cookie said...

What about the villain's minions? They are overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, neglected, abused and on top of it all, they can never seem to defeat that blasted hero.
I mean he walks in a bedraggled mess and kills them all and walks away with a mere flesh wound!
There's just no glory in being an evil minion.

Oh, and the red shirts too.

Stephanie Perkins said...

I don't have a clever answer to your question, but I did want to say: YESSSS!! Fantasy Novel Innkeeper has always been my Number One A++ Top Choice for a not-real, dream career.

The fire, the ale, the laughter! It's all so jolly.

ilyakogan said...

Parents of the hero - they are usually dead, locked away, or downright evil...

B.Bell said...

the victim, he is always dying and stuff

evelonies said...

in the book i'm writing, it's the people who are helpless to defend themselves from physical danger while trying to figure out if this is REALLY happening or if they're just losing their minds.

Beth said...

I think Evil Overlords have it rough. They're just trying to make a name for themselves, to create some kind of lasting dynasty or new world order or world peace. Those heroes never understand what it is the overlord is trying to DO, goshdarnit! The Evil Overlord is misunderstood, locked into a stereotype. And if that isn't enough, the Evil Overlord almost always has some kind of trouble with his kids, whether the son is even more evil than the father, or the daughter has a crush on the hero. Their minions are incompetent, and their wives always leave them.

The Lemonade Stand said...

I'd have to say that the beasts of burden that so many fantasy and sci-fi stories rely on get the worst job. They are taken into battles as faithful comrades and warriors. They do what their beloved masters call of them, but inevitably meet very sticky ends. (for example: Horses of Rohan, oliphaunts, tauntauns, etc.)

clp3333 said...

The legal aide who is on the case basically free to either "learn from the best" or work on the "crime of the century." Like Ellen Roark in A TIME TO KILL.

John B said...

The poor slob inventor of a 'we won't need oil anymore' energy device. He gets offed in the second chapter so the no-brain hero saves the world and gets the cute girl to boot!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Anybody who had the misfortune of knowing the hero / villain / love interest in school, then moved away.

They always seem to bite it early and then get used to announce the evilness to come.

2nd place is the unsung hero. Tonto should've let the Lone Ranger die. He still had to do all the work and never got the credit.

William Jones said...

The wise old wizard/hermit that acts as the young hero's mentor. They almost always get killed in some gruesome way, starting the hero's quest for revenge.

Also, assassins. With an assassination, the only way you get to take credit for your work is if you screw up. Complete your job perfectly, and you're the unsung hero for the bad guys. It's got to be depressing.

Joel Q said...

Any of the no-name shipcrew that accompanies Capt. Kirk to the plant surface.

The Invisible Writer said...

An Ayn Rand "hero."

You work dedicatedly and tirelessly and boring at a job only to have everything you hold dear taken away by government lackies and lobbyists who will gladly kill you if you find a way to be successful in a way that they can't steal from you again.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Cormac McCarthy's copyeditor.

Sierra McConnell said...

THE WRITER. They have to put up with every single random barmaiden and innkeeper, as well as the hero or heroine. They are just as intracately woven into the fabric of the world as the characters that drive the story.

jjdebenedictis said...

Terry Pratchett dedicated his book "Guards! Guards!" to those poor sods in movies who, when confronting the lone hero with their superior numbers, always attack him one-by-one, and thus get slaughtered.

Yup. In fiction, dumb grunt is a bad job.

Anonymous said...

I too must vote for any Star Trek character on the Away Team who's wearing a red shirt. Although, to be honest, I think that Kirk's love can also be the kiss of death.

Shawn Kamesch said...

How about Arthur Weasly? He constantly works overtime in a large, government institution; gets no respect from the higher ups; and doesn't get paid enough.

Does it get much worse? Without orcs getting involved, that is...

attackfish said...

The cabbage merchant from Avatar: the Last Airbender. Wherever he goes, there the heroes are, destroying his stuff. Really hurts the morale.

Gerri said...

Second spearchucker on the right. Guarenteed to die in the first or second charge, and no one will ever know his or her name, probably not even the writer.

Maya said...

How about the humdrum 1st chapter spouse? Always doomed to get dumped when the main character finds their TRUE love, the one who "gets" them. And the boring, naggy spouse is always completely baffled when the MC leaves them. Poor things!

Anonymous said...

The poor soul that has to clean up the tavern after the fight, of course. Funny how they never mention him,huh? Chapter one, the tavern is in complete shambles. Chapter two, it is nice and clean and everything is put back just the way it was. Who did that? Not the innkeeper, of that you can be sure.

Jenna said...

The innocent bystander. They're only there to die. And what's worse is that if they're wearing red, they know it's coming and they can't escape. That's got to suck.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

After seeing Galaxy Quest some years ago, I'd have to say the crewmember who lacks a full name has the worst job. Movies, books, TV, doesn't matter - he's toast!

StableGranny said...

It has to be the side-kick of the evil, hard hearted villain. The one that doesn’t have brains enough to realize that at any time they could become their master’s next victim. Oh it could be the pooper-scooper at the end of the parade.

Nicole L Rivera said...

Professor Umbridge. I've never had a character make me angry -- this woman makes my skin crawl with disgust. Even my husband -- the non-reader -- can't stand this woman (he's seen the movies a few billion times thanks to his other half's obsession). He won't watch the fifth movie because of the "mean lady in pink with all the cats." What character wants to be that hated?

Gehayi said...

1) The second person to die in a murder mystery. The first person is always important and everyone really cares about WHY this person died. The second one dies to establish that the murderer is a) a real bastard and b) going to keep on killing until the hero or heroine stops him or her. No one cares about the victim at all.

2) Orc soldiers. Motivations? History? Culture? Any glimmer of a reason WHY orcs so often end up working for the bad guys? Of course not! They're not people; they're designated evil for the heroes to fight.

3) The ordinary mortal cops in urban fantasy series. Not only do they have to deal with crime, they have to cope with supernatural criminals who are stronger, faster and more deadly than humans and immune to most human weapons. Such cops have to stop crime, catch the supernatural criminals, find a jail that can contain them, manage to stay alive throughout the entire process--AND do this without getting fired by their superiors for being superstitious or insane and while being spoken of in a patronizing tone by the hero. Because such cops are NEVER the designated heroes. They're just ordinary Joes doing their jobs.

4) The peasants in a George R.R. Martin novel. If they don't get killed by one army, five more armies are in the offing to kill, rape, maim and brutalize them, burn their homes, and steal their crops and what little they own, thus leaving them to starve. Their liege lords treat them as if they are lower than dirt and are only useful pawns, while the king's guards will cheerfully kill them to prevent a riot before one even happens. They can be killed just for having been the serfs of the wrong lord (like that was a choice of theirs). If they join the outlaws who seem to have some food, they can be tortured and hanged. And that's leaving out things like famine, pestilence and a years-long winter.

I realize that most of this is based on medieval history--but damn, it's bleak.

5) The relatives of the Angsty Teen Hero in a fantasy series. If they're his parents, they're destined to be murdered horribly to give him a motivation for battling the evil wizard/usurping queen/whatever later on. If they're his adopted family, they're destined to be unfeeling, unloving, and completely incapable of appreciating the sheer wonderfulness that is the hero, and the hero will dump them at the first opportunity. Either way, they lose.

hannah said...

Totally agree that, at least in YA, it's the parents.

Christina said...

In romance novels, the ladies in waiting. They're always getting obnoxious rich girls dressed up to go out to fun places, but they get jack squat for themselves. And they're usually young women who wanna go out too, but nobody ever thinks to asks them. So unfair!

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Mentors who have to deal with insufferable, self-absorbed teenaged protagonists. No wonder they never tell the protag anything, s/he wouldn't listen anyway.

Lynda Young said...

Apart from the guy wearing a red shirt... It's the villain who likes to have a chat before dispatching the hero.

swampfox said...

The family members of the protagonist. They get killed or murdered, kidnapped, raped, held hostage, forced into prostitution, you name it.

Mira said...

Any character in any novel written by Camus or Satre.

- Shudder -

Or any Russian novelist.

Or Dickens. or John Steinbeck.

- Double Shudder -

Other Lisa said...

I used to watch BONANZA repeats in the AMs before going to work (that and BIG VALLEY, which is one of the better late 60s/early 70s camp-fests out there), and my conclusion is: any woman who touches a Cartwright. Touch a Cartwright, you die.

Karen Peterson said...

The guy that guards the gate at the city/castle/mansion. He ALWAYS gets killed.

abc said...

Anybody that has to empty chamber pots. Maybe the servants in Jane Austen novels? Though I've never actually read a Jane Austen novel. Gasp! I know!

Brittany said...

The secondary main character. Definitely. He has to get beaten up, be believed to be dead, crawl through the mud/river/underworld to find the MC and then proceed to realize what the Bad Guy is going to do, then sacrifice himself for the MC and then die dramatically only to come back to life at the end of the story. And then he's stuck with the scars and the physical therapy that the author refuses pay for.

Even though all of yours were funny...

Jeannie said...

Miss Kitty, in Gunsmoke. Matt, I still say you hold the world's record for dense idiot!

missmystra said...

I'm going to side with jjdebenedictis on this one--as Terry Pratchett shows us, you practically need the words "incompetent" on your resume in order to get the job because your life is sure to be short and thankless.

Henya said...

The scoundrel is the one who has a difficult go at it. By the sweat of his brow and hard earned evil-doing, the poor guy has to jump through hoops to rob someone. Imagine him sweating perfusiely as he charges into a bodega with gun in hand...only to get clubbered with a cane by little old lady, who has more chutzpah than a rich beggar.

Sarah said...

jjdebenedictis ,

I thought of that Pratchett dedication, too! Always made me think of the cops in the big Matrix shootout.

And on a completely different note, I'm loving the comments. In some ways, we're all listing cliched characters. It's really helpful.

Brendan J Paredes said...

It's the street snitch. In fantasy it's usually some blind beggar covered in all manner of filth, smelling of old urine to seem more pathetic, with some well cultivated sores to play on sympathies. In variably the local city watch treats them worse than thieves, the heroes have contempt for them and they get slapped around a lot. If they are working the street near the Big Bad, they usually come to a particularly gruesome and lingering bad end.

Sure, they know what's going on, but no one really listens to them save the really sharp hero type who probably grew up on the street and has no problem slapping them around and intimidating them to make them cough up, sometimes literally, the goods so to speak. Always a fun character to write, but the things that happen to them make the fates of the red shirted scecurity guards on Star Trek look humane by comparison.

Clare WB said...

The often referred to, but seldom--if ever--seen person(s) whose misguided child rearing fostered the incredible actions of the protagonist and antagonist. (And without whose influence the story would be one big bore.)

Terin Tashi Miller said...

Traffic cops, hospital orderlies, street sweepers, garbage collectors, janitors, police divers, SWAT snipers, and, no matter what time period or location, whoever has to clean the mess left by either the protagonist or antagonist...

Ty Johnston said...

The character in the prologue/first chapter of many a horror novel who is the first one killed by the monster/serial murderer. Usually out jogging or walking late at night through a part of town they know they're not supposed to be walking through.

Cindy Marie Jenkins said...

The gate guard who rarely gets seen before being trampled upon by the Nazgul entering Bree (was that too specific?). I always appreciate seeing that guy getting the trample, as opposed to just assuming that's what happened.

Marjorie said...

The worst job in fiction is the maid. They always have to keep all the secrets and decide when to turn on the protagonists and spill the beans.

Elie said...

Snape - working for Dumbledore, pretending to work for Voldemort, misjudged, hated ..

Hillsy said...

Dwarf Dietitian

"Well, the main causes of your obesity appear to stem from some common dietary deficiencies. I advise you to lay off the red meat for a few months, then reintriduce it slowly back into your diet, but no more than twice a week. Also you need plenty of Sunlight and fresh air.
"Oh and finally, lay of the beer."
"GAHHHH!!!!"
"What are you doing with that axe??"

Hillsy said...

Or Job.

hehehehehe

Keely Hutton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keely Hutton said...

The mother in any book Disney decides to make into a movie. They are killed off within the first few chapters.

AngelB35 said...

The villain's sidekick... Igor

thereforego said...

the main character in Too Loud a Solitude by Hrabal. his job is to burn books all day--shoving them into furnaces--book after book after book [shivers]

Sheila Cull said...

The ladies room attendant, in the novel, that stands with towels on a forearm. Two refined women dry their hands in front of her and whisper, "I'm dead serious. I'll murder that bitch."

Jenny said...

The Mentor of the Hero: they always have to deal with the Hero in the whiniest moments and generally die before seeing all their hard work and good advice come to fruition in said Hero.

Laurie Boris said...

Definitely the guys in the red shirts. That also includes the night watchman. He usually buys it first.

John Hines Jr said...

I'd submit that the worst job in fiction is "writer." Not the author, mind you, but the hero in those self-analyzing stories where some poor schmuck of a writer is dragged into playing the protagonist. Especially when it's a horror novel, and the woefully under equipped, under trained, and under prepared writer must fend off some nameless, faceless evil. Here's a guy who probably has an MFA, and whose only experience with evil is dealing with critics and editors (and agents :-) ) who is suddenly thrown into a dangerous and poorly understood situation where skills with weapons (both normal and mystical), fighting, and strategy are all requirements for survival. Poor bastards are always stumbling into towns overrun with vampires, or alien spaceships, or ancient gods with ego problems.

M Clement Hall said...

Sancho Panza, trying to keep his crazed boss out of trouble,

Ulysses said...

I vote for the taxpayers in any metropolis infected by superheroes.

I mean, the property damage!

The superhero and their arch-nemesis never face off in secluded, unpopulated places. It's always right in the middle of the city. Buildings get knocked down, cars flattened, infrastructure destroyed. Sure, it's all insured, but you can bet the premiums are astronomical, and who's going to pay for that?

The same is true in any piece of fiction where aliens attack, asteroids/earthquakes/fires hit.

J. T. Shea said...

Right on, The Invisible Writer! I’m an Ayn Rand hero. I try to build a 10,000 foot skyscraper in my back yard and what do I get? Objections!

Overshadowing? Overlooking? Privacy? Sewers? Parking? Safety? Did the Babylonians have to worry about such trivia? Okay, bad example. But THEY pissed off God.

I wonder how many supporters or opponents of Ayn Rand can pronounce her first name right…

J. T. Shea said...

Ulysses, insurance policies have a standard clause excluding damage or loss caused by battles between superheroes and their arch-nemeses.

AngelIB35, Igor definitely! Pronounced 'EYEGORE' of course. Hump? What hump?

Harry Connolly said...

Any King with a Vizier.

Anonymous said...

Harry Potter's post-DEATHLY HALLOWS therapist.

Michael Bracken said...

The guy you've never seen before who joins the landing party in every episode of Star Trek. You know he's going to die.

lhowell said...

It's that poor forensic lab technician working smack in the middle of solving the mass serial killings. Having to cleanup those grosteque bodies, wiggly worms, and the stench.

Steppe said...

If you ever wake up in fiction land and they put that gold star surrounded by two upward prongs with six small stars above invoke the name of Neptune, Jesus or your most loyal Mermaid because if you are a Submarine Commander you are not allowed to die until the ultimate levels of torture are complete insuring your ghost haunts the sub for the rest of the story.

B.E.T. said...

That's a pretty big specification. And all these comments have such good jobs...

After thinking quite awhile on this, I'd have to say in the genres I like, any 'other guy' in a love triangle. Strung along for so long by the main chick, only to be replaced by one guy with nothing to show for it but misery and contempt for his author.

Either that or any family member of the hero. I believe it was stated many times here, something bad always happens to those poor bastards. My own character backstories: I've got a brother, a wife, a mom, another mom, a dad, yet another mom and the list goes on. All of 'em die.

Anonymous said...

This one's easy. Anyone who lands in a Stephen King novel is pretty well screwed. If they die it's going to be in a miserable way, and if they survive, at a minimum they'll be having nightmares for the rest of their life.

The Dark Word said...

I saw Red Shirt posted... but it'd be worse if you were a *black guy* in a red shirt.

Nicole said...

Worst job in fiction? Whatever gets you killed the quickest.

SF: Wearing a red shirt. ("Didn't you guys watch the show?")

Fantasy: Being a dragon usually doesn't earn you any points.

Mystery: The first dead body. Honestly, the first time that character shows up on page, he/she's already dead.

Horror: Pretty much everyone but the protag. Let's face it; they're all there to die or get horrifically screwed up. (Course, the protag isn't necessarily excempt either...)

Romance: The main characters' pets. They have to watch all that crap go down before the two finally hook up at the end, and like us, are unable to communicate with the characters.

Jan Markley said...

I think it's the cop who works the night shift and has to eat fast food b/c he's so busy from the murder committed that evening.

Arianne said...

What about the unfortunate generic (Ffordian terminology for residents in Book World who inhabit minor roles or who are in training for larger ones) who gets bundled, along with the main protagonists, into the den of some fearsome creature so that we can watch him be ripped to bloodied shreds in cruel and unusual ways so that we feel all the more grateful that our heroes defeat the beast and escape their fate? Poor sod!

Related Posts with Thumbnails