The Load

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Very straight example.
"I tend to see Elan more as an obstacle that this team overcomes on a regular basis. Traveling with Elan is kind of like, say, adventuring with syphilis. It can be done, for a while, but it's not easy and it's not pretty."
Roy Greenhilt, The Order of the Stick

Probably one of the most hated characters in a movie or series fandom, The Load is a liability to the heroes. They are not always the proximate cause of the heroes' failures, but they're weak, they're often Too Dumb to Live, and for some reason they've just got to hang around with the cool heroes and be a part of the action all the time. It doesn't occur to The Load that, being an unathletic Muggle, it really might not be such a good idea for them to rush headlong onto the battlefield along with the heavily armored and super-powered heroes. Said heroes will usually have to spend at least half the battle keeping The Load alive. It's not hard to see why the fans hate them so much.

The Load can sometimes become The Scrappy if they're obnoxious enough—although sometimes they will not be actively annoying, just some weaker character whom the heroes must bring along and protect for some reason.

The Load is the TV/movie equivalent of a powerless NPC in a video game Escort Mission—only, unlike a video game, you don't have the power to press the "B" button and throw The Load to the zombies if you start getting irritated by them.

What makes this trope especially grating is that The Load often actually does have powers or an ability that will come in handy for the heroes, which is, of course, why they must keep dragging The Load around with them. The one instance where The Load uses this power to save the heroes, however, does little to make up for the 99 percent of the time that they have spent being a screeching boat anchor.

Closely related to the Damsel Scrappy, Non-Action Guy, The Team Normal (if this character is the load because of a lack of powers). Can lead to a Live Action Escort Mission, Badly-Battered Babysitter, or similar. Might result from a Story-Breaker Team-Up where one of the members is out of their league. The character may be a Living MacGuffin or The President's Daughter.

If a Time Skip occurs in the series, expect The Load to have Taken a Level in Badass. Compare The Millstone, who is much more proactive in making failure the only option, and Helpless Good Side, for when a character with a Split Personality is the load half the time.

Examples of The Load include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Played straight in the Anime Black Cat. The load in question is Eve, a Tyke Bomb the heroes rescue in one of the first arcs and who travels around with them for the rest of the series. While she had her moments every now and then, anime Eve's main purpose was to be a Damsel in Distress for Sven and Train to rescue every second or third episode and almost never did anything really useful.
    • In the manga version, Eve started out the same way, but after the first time she froze up in combat she became determined not to be this trope and started frantically Level Grinding In Badass in an attempt to make herself useful. It worked. It worked very well, and the trope was happily averted.
  • Haruto Sakuraba of Eyeshield 21 starts off as a totally useless member of the Ojo White Knights, and his friend Shin Seijuro, the team's ace responsible for pretty much all of the team's victories, admits that Sakuraba really doesn't contribute anything. Painfully aware that the team could do without him, Sakuraba gets an Important Haircut and Takes a Level In Badass after one summer of training, shedding his status as The Load.
  • "Axis Powers Hetalia" has Italy. The only thing he contributes is good food and white flags to surrender with. Otherwise, he eats, sleeps and on occasion makes strange noises, all to Germany's dismay.
  • Mia Koji and Yulie from Ronin Warriors are probably the definitive examples of this trope. Yes, they were both incredibly useful (And became even more so once they acquired an artifact that protected them against bad guys and had taken some levels in Badass.) But just their being mundane humans trying to actively participate in a battle where all of the other participants are wearing superpowered armor was enough to make them this trope (especially with the amount of effort the heroes had to take in order to keep them alive. If Mia and Yulie had been useless, the heroes could have just sent them away to safety and could have let loose on the villains as they saw fit.)
  • A major theme in One Piece lately has been the more human characters of the crew (mostly Usopp) concerned about becoming The Load, in a Lampshade Hanging of Can't Catch Up.
    • Luffy recently became the load during the Paramount War Saga with everyone constantly having to save him from the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Vice Admirals, and Admirals who were way out of his league.
    • Princess Shirahoshi is a load who, strangely, carries Luffy.
      • Averted when her abilities prove instrumental to saving Fishman island. She couldn't help being a large target for the Big Bad Duumvirate, but her power to control sea kings saved a lot of lives once the Straw Hats took care of the bad guys.
  • Sakura Haruno from Naruto often worries that she might be becoming The Load as Naruto and Sasuke both outdistance her (and as she becomes an increasing liability in battle against more powerful enemies). To rectify this, Sakura becomes Tsunade's apprentice, learning an entirely different field of ninja magic which better suits her skills. During the Time Skip, she even Took a Level in Badass and became a full-fledged Action Girl.
    • Then there's Karin, whose only addition to Team Hawk was being The Load and a walking health pack.
      • And a hell of a good tracker.
    • Almost all female characters in this manga seem to be this. They are often The Chick, and tend to be much weaker than their male teammates.
    • Tazuna from the Land of the Waves arc was an escort example.
  • Kyousuke Kawachi spends much of his time in Yakitate!! Japan, playing the role of The Load, since he has less baking talent than the other characters. By the end of the series, Kawachi has realized his incompetence has largely excused himself from the final tournament arc. This realization is a bit depressing because he actually had an epiphany about being a load in the last arc. He went on to win a pivotal battle with sheer willpower and hard work. This apparently was not enough.
  • Christmas from Kurau Phantom Memory forms quite a burden for Kurau, despite being her long-awaited pair—that is, until she finally appears to be able to use Rynax-powers herself.
  • Some readers regard Raki from Claymore as a heartwarming Morality Pet, others deride him as a loathsome irritant; however Everyone agrees that the best thing he can do when he and Clare stumble across a Yoma or psychotic high-end Claymore is run away QUICKLY. Clare's companions for her first Awakened One hunt actually mock her for keeping him around (complete with hints of him being her "plaything").
  • Rose from the anime Red Garden is usually seen cowering in a corner during a fight, screeching her head off. Occasionally she'll try to join in the group's efforts, but only when the opponent is busy grappling with one of the others. Even the slightly precious fashionista, Rachel, gets better results, and she has no qualms about telling Rose how useless she is in a later episode.
  • Azmaria in the anime version of Chrono Crusade starts out as The Chick, but devolves into The Load. She was never a real combatant to begin with, but her Apostle wings and healing powers stop working near the end of the story, and she does absolutely nothing in the final battle against Aion.
  • Shippo from Inuyasha is the most useless member of Inu-Yasha and Kagome's group as he has virtually no fighting skills, often has to be rescued, and whines a lot. Occasionally he will try to fight, but the best he has ever done in a battle is using his illusion powers to momentarily distract an enemy.
  • Initial D has Iketani and Itsuki as "The Load" in the sense they will never beat almost anyone in a race. Ever. Takumi came around to help them out for a bit but after he left, they were back to being a weak team.
  • Rui from Telepathy Shoujo Ran arguably qualifies. Sure, he is supposed to have the ability to reduce and amplify psychic powers, but that hardly ever comes into play. Most of the time he acts as a male Damsel in Distress and has to get saved by Ran and Midori numerous times. Worse, he even gets in the way of the Romantic Two-Girl Friendship dynamic between the two female leads—and his personality is pretty bland to boot. He redeems himself somewhat in later episodes, but not by much.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, when a small handful of non-magically trained, ordinary students enter the Magic World without main lead and teacher Negi knowing, he spends most of the Trapped in Another World arc distressed about their safety.
    • In the early Library Island arc, when some of Negi's students dragged him to Library Island to find a magic book to help them pass their finals, the usually powerful Negi becomes The Load because he sealed his magic to avoid the temptation to fix their grades.
  • In Dragonball Z, Kuririn/Krillin became a horrendous Load, since he, while apocalyptically powerful in his own right, couldn't possibly hope to keep up with the villains and the Saiyans, who kept leveling up to comical extremes every time a new Big Bad showed up. Eventually, it got to the point where Krillin's only purpose was to carry the Senzu beans. To be fair, Krillin did contribute early on—he defeated most of the saibamen, came VERY close to killing Nappa and Vegeta, and played a vital role in slowng the bad guys down on Namek (even managing to slice off a part of Frieza's tail with his destructo disc, saving Gohan's life in the process). Also, EVERYONE who wasn't Goku or Vegeta eventually became this.
    • Yamcha is even worse. He never got to really do much of anything, aside from getting blown away by a Saibaman.
    • Oolong in the first Dragon Ball story arc. He contributes only the bare minimum to the group with his already-limited transformation power and spends most of the time either complaining or trying to run away. He finally shows his worth when he stops the Big Bad from taking over the world, though.
  • Ruby Crescent in 666 Satan apparently was one of these, until that was revealed that she was a Recipe, too.
  • Kiddy Grade: Mrs. Padushka. The first time she appears, Éclair and Mrs. Padushka are supposed to escort some classified materials. Mrs. Padushka is both clumsy and anxious, and has little or no bluffing ability.
  • Yaya Yuiki of Shugo Chara is often this. It could even be argued that it's somewhat intentional on Yaya's part, since her "would-be self" is a baby, who isn't expected to be able to do anything.
  • Kyoko from Dennou Coil manages to raise her already very annoying presence by getting herself into danger throughout the series, usually by following her older sister Yasako around.
  • Lenalee Lee is this trope for 32 episodes (out of 103 total at this time) in the second half of the series, barely able to walk under her own power due to over-exerting her Empathic Weapon, and is unable to help in battle for a further 5 episodes after that. Thankfully it's temporary.
  • Pacifica of Scrapped Princess is frequently afraid of being the load, constantly having to be protected by her adoptive sibling bodyguards, Shannon and Raquel. Fortunately, she does turn out to have useful special powers.
  • Akira Hibiki is always surrounded by children who can be counted upon to put themselves in mortal danger every episode.
  • The Prince of Tennis: Hikaru Zaizen accuses Taka-san of being "Seigaku's dead weight" in the episode titled "Seigaku's Dead Weight".
  • Matsuda sees himself as this in Death Note and endangers himself when he tries to be more of a contributor to the investigation team. Technically, it works. He was able to lead the team to the Yotsuba group.
    • He also turns it around when Light is relying on Matsuda to be the Load who won't mess anything up for him in the endgame, and winds up being the one who saves Near's life by shooting Light.
  • Misty's Psyduck of Pokémon fame. While he does occasionally have sudden bursts of competence, in almost all of his appearances he is completely useless and often actually does more harm then good. The fact that he has a bad tendency to eagerly leap from his Poké Ball when Misty requires another of her Pokémon, effectively ruining whatever strategy she had, does not help.
    • Misty herself spent most of the series doing little other than standing on the sidelines complaining or snarking (or at her worst, getting kidnapped by Team Rocket). At least Brock cooked and had limited medical skills. Their replacement Expies were of varying improvement, though their Pokemon proved pivotal at times at least (lacking a Psyduck Expy probably helps).
      • Max gets a lot of flak for this, too, as he's not a trainer yet and has no Pokémon. At least he gets a couple moments to earn his place, and by the end of Battle Frontier we can assume he'll start training in a couple more years.
  • In the episodes of Azumanga Daioh involving the annual sports competitions, Chiyo frets and cries over being The Load. She assumes that since she's a ten-year-old competing against and alongside high schoolers, her lack of physical development must hold their team back to the point that her even participating is a handicap. She's right, but she's also adorable, and therefore easily forgiven.
    • Especially since she means a guaranteed win in one event: cheerleading. The class does already have a cheerleader (Yomi), but this is one event where nobody judges against the cute ten-year-old.
  • Mokuba. Kaiba. All he's good for is getting kidnapped. In one memorable instance he actually managed to break himself out and alert Kaiba and Yugi to the whereabouts of the other kidnapped characters.
    • Lampshaded to hell and gone in The Abridged Series, where he even gets a montage of all the times he's been kidnapped.

Kaiba [thinking]: Hmm. Perhaps I should consider keeping him on a leash.

  • Dr. Dreks in part 2 of Bio-Meat: Nectar. Evolves into The Millstone with The Reveal that he's carrying USBM spores, as the heroes are getting away on the escape helicopter.
  • Fuu from Samurai Champloo. Some may argue that she's the one keeping the group together, but it's undeniable that she can't hold her own against serious opponents.
    • Although this is arguably the point; if Fuu could hold her own, she'd have no need for bodyguards and there would be no show.
  • Code Geass has an in-universe example, where the Black Knights feel that C.C. is The Load because she just hangs around the base eating pizza and snarking at people without doing any real work, and on top of this they believe (incorrectly) that she's only with the group because she's Zero's mistress. In truth, she's actually Lelouch's biggest benefactor, as the person who gave him his Evil Eye, meaning she's indirectly responsible for Zero existing in the first place. The attitude improves in the second season, where C.C. temporarily leads the Black Knights when Zero is missing, and after his return she's much more active, even piloting her own Ace Custom mecha.
  • Bleach has no genuine examples of this trope in the manga. However, the anime likes playing with it in filler.
    • In the anime, the consequences of a filler arc ensure that Ishida actually ends up losing and regaining his powers twice. It's not that bad really (his friends are supporting him, he gets his powers back and so on).
    • Orihime is this in every filler arc. Usually all she does is heal the characters after they first get destroyed by the filler villains. She'll occasionally do something else, but it's rarely anything significant. It probably says something that her most notable feat in a filler arc is healing the Big Bad of the Zanpakuto Arc even after he tells her he's the villain.
    • Nel's "brothers" Peshe and Dondochakka bounce in and out of this. They're not exactly the useless, bumbling idiots they appear to be, and Pesche's seemingly useless superpower saves Ishida's bacon on two occassions...but they're also not able to really do much in a fight besides getting punted around by the much stronger bad guys after inconveniencing them.
  • One of the reasons why many fans have a problem with the first anime of Fullmetal Alchemist is due to the fact Al was somewhat this to his brother. Completely avoided in Brotherhood when Al is able to hold his own with the strongest homunculus, Pride, and Kimblee who had a Philosopher Stone with him. One of the main reasons Al was something of the load in the first anime was that he was the only prominent alchemist in the series who didn't have portable alchemy circles, and could not transmute by clapping. This is avoided midway through the manga when he regains his memories of the night at the Gate and gains the power to transmute by clapping.
  • Yoriko from You're Under Arrest.
  • Mr. James from From Eroica with Love manages to jeopardize almost any mission he participates in at least once. The first thing anyone (even his own teammates) does upon gaining custody of him is try to foist him off on some other poor sucker.
  • Played straight and averted with Kai and Riku in Blood Plus. At the beginning of the series, neither have much fighting skill and mostly hindered Red Shield. On many occasions, though, they gave Saya much required emotional support in order to fulfill her tasks. After the destruction of Red Shield, Kai trains and becomes an important part of the team, being able to fight as well as counsel those in distress.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica's titular character is a rare triple subversion. Despite being the only one of the girls not to make a contract to become a Magical Girl (though she came close in episodes 3 and 8, for different reasons). Episode 10 revealed that she did make contracts in previous timelines. However, because of all the horrors that come with being a Magical Girl, Madoka asked Homura to use her time travel powers to prevent her from making a contract, thus retconning all transformations. In the final timeline, however, she succeeds in making a contract... And her wish to erase all witches (past, present, and future) turns her into a being akin to a god.
    • She is also useful in her own way even without being a Magical Girl. At one point she saves a large group of people afflicted with H.N. Elly's Witch Kiss from committing ritual suicide (though shortly thereafter she requires saving from H.N. Elly herself).
  • Strongly averted in Cage of Eden. Despite being trapped on an island with dangerous animals, no one in Akira's group is willing to complain and slow everyone down, and they all want to contribute something. Though, as Tooru points out, because no one is willing to complain, this nearly gets everyone killed when they attempt to climb a mountain and come down with altitude sickness. Of course, this also means that they reach the peak faster than they would if they'd stopped.
  • Takashi of Ouran High School Host Club is apparently viewed as The Load, by the other members of the Host Club, due to not really doing anything. He himself is unaware of this, until episode 22.


Fan Fic[edit | hide]

  • Socrates from Calvin and Hobbes The Series tends to fit this category. Hobbes seems to be the only one who likes him, but over time, even he starts to find him annoying. Of course, Socrates does pull through for the group from time to time, often saving their lives.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • A number of sidekicks from the comics of The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books are The Load, such as Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen, the JLA's Snapper Carr, and the JSA's Johnny Thunder. Modern comics have managed to avert this to an extent, such as by making Jimmy a closer friend of Clark Kent's than Superman's, or by making Johnny a hero in his own right.
  • Aunt May is such a load in sixties Spiderman comics, it's frankly bizarre.
    • This isn't helped by her tendency of referring to "that awful Spider-Man," and her belief that Otto Octavius is a polite and charming man - while he's holding her hostage and Peter is trying to rescue her.
    • Aunt May is a bit difference from the usual instances. She isn't insisting on following Spider-Man around, for ex, or trying to hang out with him. She's a Load, but she's Peter's Load, not Spider-Man's - and with the number of times Peter's had move back in with her, he's probably Aunt May's Load too. The weird thing with Doc Octopus probably qualifies for some other trope, though.
    • She's such a Load that everyone worries about her well-being when her nephew is a superhero...but not because she's so ridiculously old. And then...then there was One More Day. Aunt May became such a Load that Peter Parker lost his marriage in a literal Deal with the Devil just to keep her from dying (thanks to circumstances Peter brought upon her himself). In a subsequent storyline, she unknowingly dates a supervillain, but nothing could have ever come out of it because we had already seen reality itself get altered for the sake of her not dying.
  • Rick Jones from The Incredible Hulk. What could be more useful to some of the most skilled and powerful super heroes in the Marvel Universe than some kid with a motorcycle following them around? Not to mention that he's apparently responsible for Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk. The only reason he's around is because he's one of the only people capable of calming the Hulk down as his friend.
  • Mary West, the mother of Wally West, became a particularly notable Load during his early years as the Flash. What are her Load bonafides? Start with the fact that she treats her twenty-something son (with years of superheroing experience) like a fourteen-year-old. This leads her to beg Wally not to help people, and basically act unwilling to let Wally out the door at all. She also behaves like a shrill banshee regarding Wally's girlfriends, calling them gold-diggers - even when Wally is dirt poor! She manages to get herself into various dangers due to her own wanderlusts, and she also blindly sets up several dangerous situations by telephoning the villains and giving up important information because "they seemed nice". Readers undoubtedly cheered when she married a European secret agent; you can have her, buddy.
  • Tin of the Metal Men is a very fragile guy (what with the metal he was made out of and all), yet he does his damndest to prove he does not fall under this trope, with little success.
  • Sally Avril, prominently featured in Untold Tales of Spider Man. Heady with the idea of being a super-hero, she created a blue-and-white costume, called herself BlueBird, and tried to help Spider-Man with an arsenal of egg-themed gadgets. Unfortunately, her inexperience and malfunctioning eggs caused her to be such a burden that Spider-Man even allowed one villain to hurt her quite badly in an attempt to dissuade her.


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]


Films -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • In the satirical The Princess Bride, Buttercup ends up being a load. This is perhaps most exemplified by Wesley's battle with the ROUS, during which she does absolutely nothing to help up to and including helping our hero get his sword. It could, in fact, be argued that Princess Buttercup is the most prominent reason the heroes get into so much trouble in the story.
  • In the movie Conan: The Destroyer, the heroes have to spend most of their time babysitting a spoiled virgin princess who's the one key to finding a powerful artifact. She's pretty much useless in battle, gets kidnapped a lot, and the whole job winds up being a lot more trouble than it's worth. (At the end, once she was queen, she did take all those annoying sidekicks off of Conan's hands, so at least she was good for something...)
  • Prince Tarn from the film adaptation of Red Sonja, who follows the heroes around, getting into trouble and then screaming for help.
  • Kazan in Cube starts out this way. He's an autistic who is somehow able to survive in the Cube long enough to meet the other characters, especially given his knack for springing traps. Near the end it's discovered that he has a very useful skill.
  • Honey Rider in Dr. No. Oddly enough, she isn't widely hated among James Bond fans, partly because she was the first main Bond Girl, but she really is the single most superfluous Bond girl in the entire film series. The film makers were usually pretty good in making the Bond girls in the series of at least some nominal importance to the plot of each film (even if, in the case of Mary Goodnight, their only importance is as The Millstone), but Honey is of no importance whatsoever. She shows up late in the film, tags along, and does nothing of any consequence. The film takes the time to give her the same backstory from the novel (Dr. No killed her father, she received all her education by reading the whole encyclopedia, she murdered her rapist, etc.) but again, none of that has any impact on the rest of the film. Of course, the fact she's The Load is also an accurate adaptation of the novel, another reason she isn't widely hated. She exists solely to be the Damsel in Distress (and even that comes across as an afterthought) and for Fan Service. The latter, Ursula Andress does very, very well, which is the third reason she isn't widely hated.
    • Bibi Dahl from For Your Eyes Only also qualifies. She's the only Bond Girl who offers herself to Bond, and he refuses it (since sometimes even 007 thinks "that's just wrong").
    • So does Christmas Jones from The World Is Not Enough. It's painfully obvious she's there just for Bond to have another Bond girl. Though she tries to help in the action scenes, and as a nuclear scientist, gives 007 some info.
  • The annoying kids in the Gamera. Yeah, he's the friend to all children, but even Gamera should be sick of saving these dim-witted kids constantly.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Willie had almost no purpose except to be distressed, to yell at Indy a lot, and to be sexy. Technically speaking, she was probably meant to be Plucky Comic Relief, with Fan Service as a bonus.
  • Stephen from the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead. He appears all the more useless in contrast to Peter and Roger, the two Badass SWAT operatives who constantly pull his ass out of the fire. Stephen does get a little better by the end of the film.
  • How would you translate "The Load" in French? French movie Le Boulet (pictured above) gives you a hint.
  • In Fargo, the killers are a team of two guys working together. One guy is a cold-blooded psychopath who really knows his stuff, and the other guy is a talkative, sex-obsessed person with a really nasty temper. Pretty much every single lead the cops get comes from the second guy, and he really doesn't contribute anything useful to their plan.
    • Then again, the first guy tends to do stupid, plan-wrecking things like killing a police officer right out in the open (though the second guy kind of made it necessary [1]) and shooting their hostage and meal ticket because she was making too much noise. In an abandoned cabin miles from anyone who could possibly hear her. [2] In Fargo, everyone (except for the savvy pregnant police chief) is either The Load or The Millstone.
  • Both children, Lex and Tim, in the film adaptation of Jurassic Park fit into this trope. Throughout the movie The Hero Alan Grant continuously has to save them from danger. Lex agitates a T-Rex by flashing a flashlight in its eye, and then proceeds to choke Grant when he tries to save her from the dinosaur. Tim has to be guided out of a tree he fell in and later gets electrocuted on an electric fence after failing to climb it in time. Each of them have a shining moment though, with Tim locking a velociraptor in a freezer and Lex using her 'hacking skills' to bring power back to the park.
    • In the book, Tim's both a dinosaur buff and a computer buff, and Lex is twice the Load.
    • The most noticeable moment of this in the film is when Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are trying to keep a velociraptor out of the control room by pushing against the door and the gun is out of reach of them. Ellie tries to reach it with her leg while Lex attempts to get the door locks back on using the computer. And Tim? He's jumping up and down behind Lex, punching the back of the chair and telling her 'hurry, hurry hurry!'.
  • More Spielberg kid-stupidity is evident in Rachel and Robbie Ferrier in War of the Worlds. The two kids make a grand total of zero good decisions during the course of the film.
    • Rachel wants to run about a quarter mile away from her dad for some privacy for a pee-pee in a hostile alien environment. She then runs out of a relatively sheltered house to escape the alien ship's probe—and runs out into the open - making it even easier for the ship to snatch her.
      • Rachel also has an inexplicable need to be carried around for the rest of the movie. She is ten years old. There is no reason for carrying a ten year old across the street, let alone from New York to Boston.
    • Robbie slowly and calmly drives the car into a car stealing mob ... which you shouldn't do a mere one scene after being warned not to do that. Robbie wants to stay with the army and fight the ships, even though he's unarmed, and the alien ships are melting army tanks.
  • This is parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where Rowan Atkinson plays a hostage who can't walk - because his shoelaces are tied together. He insists that he be carried by Charlie Sheen (the hero), and berates him for jiggling too much - while being shot at!
    • Atkinson goes firmly in The Scrappy territory, though, as he taunts the attackers (including shouting "You missed!" when they hit Topper, not him, in the arm), and insisting on getting a drink from a nearby drinking fountain.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Sam himself acts very much as The Load to the rest of the Transformers. His only purpose is to have a head (and later, a sock) full of the MacGuffin and to get it where it needs to go, and since that job requires him to run across a battlefield full of giant robots...
  • In the movie of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Zaphod spends the latter half of the movie somewhere between this, The Millstone, and vaguely useful, because he's missing one of his heads. Ford actually has to drag him around in one or two scenes. Also, when they're getting shot at, he apparently thinks it's a dance party.
  • Although Merry Brandybuck and Peregrin 'Pippin' Took redeem themselves in the second and third The Lord of the Rings movies, they spend almost all of the first movie acting as a double load. Bill the Pony was of much more use.
    • Although they already know of the dangers of the Ringwraiths, they think nothing of building a visible-for-miles-n-miles-cooking fire on an elevated watchtower on Weathertop. It ends badly.
      • Oddly enough this is oposite in the book, where Aragorn tells them to build a fire because the wraiths fear it.
    • Pippin later knocks a skeleton of armor down a well in Moria, alerting every enemy to their presence. Even the normally unflappable Gandalf laments his being in the Fellowship at this. This of course is the same Gandalf who said that even Gollum might have some purpose to serve.

Gandalf: Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!

      • Pippin is by far the worst offender, and even Merry comments on this. The final straw is what shocks Pippin enough to stop being The Load. Unfortunately it takes the great flaming eye of Sauron himself, piercing right into Pippin's soul to terrify him out of his willful idiocy and into a burning need to become useful in some way at all.
        • Although it does not excuse him from being the load; it is realistic in Pippin's case. In the book series he is still the Hobbit equivilant of a teenager when he volunteers for the quest. While Elrond didn't really want Merry OR Pippin going on the journey, he especially named Pippin as being a bad idea.
    • Frodo himself is basically a load, moreso later in the series as the ring starts to take hold in his mind. Though its proof that this trope can be used well on occasion and is obviously justified by his decision to bear the Cursed Artifact. Peter Jackson even has him solve the riddle of Dwarrowdelf instead of Gandalf just to give him something to contribute in the film.
    • Though Merry and Pippin actually get more to do in the Two Towers film than in the book, where they actually comment that they feel like luggage being carried around by the important people.
  • Jar Jar Binks is The Load, the Alien Scrappy, the Most Annoying Sound, and probably a half-dozen other tropes all rolled into one incredibly stupid-looking package.
  • The Kid. Oh how we hate the kid. All of Buddy's injuries are either a direct or indirect result of the kid being stupid in some way or another.
  • In Tremors, Earl describes all of Valentine's previous girlfriends in this fashion. "Dead weight!"
    • Also applies to the obnoxious Melvin, who spends the first half of the movie crying wolf, the other half panicking and not following directions. Gloriously, the other characters half-seriously consider just throwing him to the worms.
  • In The Mole People, a group of archaeologists accidentally discover an underground civilization; one of the team is an elderly Frenchman who spends most of his screen time being scared, nervous, or out of breath and often has to be dragged to safety by his two teammates. Then he gets killed, and even in death he gets the others in trouble as his corpse destroys their God Guise ruse. The film was screened on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the guys constantly refer to him as The Load in a variety of creative ways.
  • Interestingly, both Sarah and John Connor assume this role in the The Terminator and its sequel, the former initially being a relatively airheaded fast food waitress and the latter being a delinquent kid with two seconds of usefulness cracking a safe that the Terminator could have easily ripped open with one hand. Of course they both Took a Level in Badass in time for their next film appearances, mostly because of the ordeals they went through.
  • In Pulp Fiction, two of the acts' conflicts are started due to Vincent's idiocy and carelessness and just about everything he accomplishes is either superfluous (it's pretty clear Jules didn't need his help) or him trying to solve a problem he's at least partially responsible for (cleaning up Marvin's face and stopping Mia from dying from snorting the heroin in his jacket). A good chunk of the film's conflicts could have probably been avoided had Vincent just stayed in Amsterdam.
    • In fairness, he can't really take the full blame for Mia almost overdosing. After all, if she's dumb enough to snort a strange white powder found in the pocket of a borrowed coat without asking any questions, he can hardly be held responsible for that.
  • In Casino, made man Nicky Santoro is sent to Las Vegas to make sure no one interferes with the money-'skimming' operation the mob are running in the Tangiers casino-hotel. His own psychotically volatile nature and arrogance ends up screwing things up for everyone. The bosses eventually get tired of him throwing his weight around and make an example of him.
    • Before Santoro's live burial, the Mafia bosses notice that the profits from the Skim are actually being skimmed, so they send in Artie Piscano to try and get the situation under control. Unfortunately, he's even more disastrous than Nicky: not only is he an incompetent, but he ends up giving the police evidence by keeping detailed financial records of just about everything relating to the Skim.
      • These are clear examples of two characters being The Millstone, not The Load. Ginger is bar far a bigger load, being the crazy drug addicted ex-hustler who runs out on Sam twice to give his money to her ex pimp boyfriend Lester Diamond. She doesn't actually become the Millstone by giving Ace up to the FBI but she does put his stress through the roof throughout the latter half of the film with her histrionics.
  • Thadeous in Your Highness. Despite being the main character, he never really does anything of any importance (expect find the sword needed to kill the villain and manages to get in more trouble than stopping it.
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife: Bennett is a movie producer, and is too arrogant to understand that this means jack in a Zombie Apocalypse, so before he joins the Big Bad, he spends all his time bossing the others around instead of helping. Kim tries to help clear the roof so the plane can land, but he is too weak to move anything. Later, during the battle against the zombies on the roof, everyone grabs guns out of Alice's bag and fires, except for Kim, who cowers.
  • Worm, the stupidly smart-mouthed gambling addict in Rounders. His dedication to screwing up every plan, including those meant to keep him from getting killed by The Mafiya, really is impressive.
  • Limitless: The movie begins with Eddie is a divorced writer who suffers chronic writer’s block and is dumped by his girlfriend Lindy. Then Eddie takes NZT-48 pills a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential… as The Millstone.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Steam: Journey to the West has The Load in the person of Xuanzang. He's a holy Buddhist monk, who is protected by four warriors. Not only he is technically unable to defend himself... he is a holy man, and therefore eating his flesh grants immortality. And assuming Sun Wukong isn't the protagonist, Xuanzang is.
  • Ernie from the Grey Griffins book series. He's also kind of The Scrappy as well, with his nerdiness and whininess. But his dumbest move by far was when he just happened to randomly sneeze and blow out the match the heroes were using to light a dark room. Natalia was sufficiently pissed at him for it. Later on, he becomes more of a liability when he happens to end up in a coma caused by an enemy attack. Later, he is revived from the coma with magic powers, making him surprisingly powerful and no longer The Load.
  • Glew in book 5 of The Chronicles of Prydain, when he isn't The Millstone. The other characters are very aware of it, but keep him around because they feel sorry for him, have no way of sending him elsewhere, or want to keep an eye on him. To cap off his annoyance factor, he's constantly complaining that he's treated badly and the companions are being selfish in not thinking of his loss.
    • He's so bad that this is actually his only saving grace in that book, when his greed leads to him inadvertently collapsing the mine tunnels that the group was traveling through, forcing them to take another route and leading them to accidentally find the missing sword and win the battle. Of course, he does redeem himself somewhat, in that he's able to confess to his mistakes at the end.
  • The Ciaphas Cain novel Caves of Ice gave us a marvelous acknowledged example in the form of the tech-priest Logash, whose sole contribution is to tell them a little bit about ambulls before just hanging around. Some 70% of Cain's narration about him amounts to "What an annoying man he was" and/or "The mission would have gone smoother if I had thrown him to the orks/ambulls/necrons".
    • Of course this is something of a subversion given that he managed to wander off and survive alone far better then any of the soldiers. In fact without him they wouldn't have escaped near the end, or been able to blow up the facility stopping the Necrons and saving millions of lives.
  • Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader until the point mid-story when he has his very own Anvilicious adventure in character development. He starts the voyage as a complaining selfish prig. The "Eustace's journal" portion of the book is a scarily effective portrait of self-delusion and self-righteousness.
  • Lex in the novel of Jurassic Park. Mostly justified as she is quite young and no matter how annoying she is and how many times she accidentally alerts their position to the T-Rex, there is no way they are going to give up a little girl to vicious dinosaurs.
  • Amusingly subverted in John Maddox Roberts' Hannibal's Children and The Seven Hills, an Alternate History in which the Romans circa 100 BC are even more Badass than in reality. Aulus Flaccus is lazy, hedonistic, and a poor fighter by Roman standards, definitely The Load—to them. By anyone else's standards, he's a terrifying killing machine. Attacked by assassins, he kills all four with six quick sword strokes ... which his friend Scipio calls two too many.
  • Ce'Nedra from The Belgariad. She becomes a liability to the heroes in Queen of Sorcery because after she runs away, everyone is looking for her because one, she's an Imperial Princess, and two, in the current political crisis, she's a very valuable potential hostage. She kicks up a stink about everything, treats Garion like a slave, makes it very clear to him that she thinks of him as a total inferior, and then gets pissed off that he won't totally devote himself to her. They have to leave her behind in Prolgu because she's the only one who can't defend herself at all, she treats everything as a personal insult, and despite her Crowning Moment of Awesome in bringing in the Tolnedrans and the Arends to join the army, it's balanced when she almost gets Adara killed by her own stupidity.
    • In the sequel series this eventually becomes stated (by the Prophecies) as her official status: she's been messed with emotionally to the point where she can't be stashed anywhere out of the party's sight, and is there almost entirely to slow them down and prevent conclusion of the main plot until a variety of side tasks have been attended to.
  • Rita Blakemoor in The Stand. A middle-aged socialite who has never known a real day of hardship in her life, she becomes The Load to Larry Underwood, up until the point where she ODs on 'luudes and dies in her sleep.
  • Teela Brown is an innocent 20-year-old girl, part of the team that investigates the Ringworld chosen because she was Born Lucky, literally and figuratively. The other members are a 200-year-old man who has done and seen everything, a Proud Warrior Race Guy and a Starfish Alien that's part of a system-spanning confederate. She's a liability from her sheer ignorance. Even more so once her luck starts kicking in, because it's her luck. It doesn't always translate into 'lucky for the team'.
  • Bella, from Twilight. She doesn't do anything remotely useful until Breaking Dawn and it's pretty much because of her bloodthirsty monsters keep showing up and attacking people in the surrounding areas.
    • It's entirely because of her. In the first book, James is attracted to her scent. In the second, so is Laurent. In the third, Victoria wants revenge for James. In the fourth, it's her hellspawn that causes the Volturi to come. Every major monster clash in all the books is a result of Bella.
  • Harry Flashman spends more time as The Load than anything else. He routinely deserts his men in the face of impossible odds, collapses into an uncooperative cowardly funk when his companions are plotting impossibly dangerous escapes, fakes or exagerates injuries before impossibly dangerous battles, and can be relied on to spill the beans and betray absolutely everyone the moment he gets captured. Being the quintessential Fake Ultimate Hero though, he always manages to make sure nobody ever hears about his less than heroic behavior.
    • Flashman is 110% aware and unapologetic about this. Starting with his very first campaign he makes a habit, when events start turning south for the British Army, of collecting a force of tough fighters who can spirit his Loadishness to safety when disaster strikes. This keeps him alive and able to plan for silencing/hoodwinking/disposing of his saviors to preserve his reputation when the crisis is passed.
  • Peeta Mellark of The Hunger Games, full-force. He is excellent at speeches, but in the arena, he spends 90% of the time being protected by his Love Interest and the other 10% being completely vulnerable to anyone who might happen to walk by. Though, he protects Katniss as much as she protects him, such as when he takes care of her after the "feast" when she collapses with a gash in her head, and wraps her in his jacket, even though it's freezing in the cave. Instead of trying to save his own life, he's totally focused on keeping her alive. He's only weak and vulnerable after he gets horribly injured while fighting off Cato so that Katniss can escape.
  • Special Circumstances: Barbara's husband, who does almost nothing but complain, particularly about having to actually take care of things for himself and the rest of the family when she's away on one of her missions.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Survivor, some players are weak in challenges, lazy at camp, and have no real sense of strategy. These are usually the first tribe members to be voted out -- if the tribe is playing intelligently. But, since anything can happen in Survivor, sometimes these players make it all the way to the end of the game. And sometimes they even win.
  • Doctor Goodfellow, the resident "scientist" aboard Searcher in the second season of Buck Rogers, whose occasional contributions as Mr. Exposition were vastly outweighed by his bumbling mannerisms, inability to control his curiosity, and an utter lack of basic self-preservation instincts. Searcher and its complement could have avoided at least half of their problems if he had been Thrown Out the Airlock and Buck, Wilma, or Hawk had asked for a scientist with a brain, instead of trying to protect someone so self-evidently Too Dumb to Live.
    • Oh yes he was so annoying! The whole second season went wrong on many levels, from what I've heard Gil Gerard (who played Buck) wanted to make the show a bit more serious in tone, but it all went horribly wrong and they ended up turning a light-hearted and quirkily fun show into a bad ripoff of Star Trek. Wilma Deering got dumber, there was bad writing, and Dr. Goodfellow topped it off with his irritation factor.
  • Plenty of Doctor Who companions qualify for this trope, especially the female ones, with the most well known examples being Tegan, Susan and Peri. The new series has thankfully avoided this, making the companions useful while still being outshone by the Doctor.
    • With the possible exception of Adam Mitchell, who borders on The Millstone, especially in The Long Game. Note, however, that for once the Doctor dumps him as soon as his status becomes clear.
      • Also take note that Adam was only invited because of Rose's poor judgement of his character (plus it was strongly hinted that she invited him because he was in the Doctor's words, a "bit pretty"). The Doctor wasn't so sure, and the Doctor always chooses companions whom he knows without a doubt will rise to the occasion.
    • In the post 2005 series, The Doctor makes a point of refusing to allow anyone who are too small-minded or unimaginative or fearful of the unkown to join him on his adventures because he knows they would end up being The Load or The Millstone. In fact, he nearly left Rose in the wrong timeline because she came dangerously close to being The Millstone when she tried to alter the timeline by saving her doomed father in the episode "Father's Day".
      • The Doctor even pre-judged certain characters as The Load like Mickey and Amy's fiance, Rory. Until Mickey spent the second half of season 2 in a parallel earth as a resistance fighter, and Rory spent two thousand years as an immortal auton guarding Amy in stasis inside the Pandorica. The Doctor is surprised and proud of them both for having proved him wrong.
      • Just being around the Doctor seems to have a de-Loadifying effect. Jackie Tyler was pretty much The Load in her early appearances, not so much in the later ones.
      • Just don't let her try to help pilot the Tardis.
  • River Tam's "wanted" status on Firefly generates conflict between the crewmembers by forcing them to avoid lucrative jobs that would involve too much oversight and poses a risk of arrest whenever they come into contact with government agents. That is, until she Took a Level in Badass for the movie. Of course, her brother and protector, Simon, acts as The Counterwieght by being a very useful doctor and occasional heist planner for the crew, of a talent the crew would not otherwise have access to, if not for the fact that he and River are on the run.
    • Justified in that even without Simon, the crew (with the exception of Jayne) would never have the heart to dump a cripplingly insane girl with the Alliance, especially since they made her that way. It should also be noted that River's telepathy has saved the crew's ass more than once, both in the series and the movie.
  • Luke, Sylar's Kid Sidekick on Heroes. "You almost got us both killed!" "That was so awesome!!"
  • Krod Mandoon and The Flaming Sword of Fire has an intentional example in Zezelryk. He's a Squishy Wizard, with the caveat that he is so inept that we never have seen him actually performing Functional Magic, despite repeatedly trying. Because of this, he is far from one of the annoying examples of the trope, especially since he actually does come in useful once in a blue moon.
    • Loquasto and Bruce are pretty useless too, though Loquasto has some usefulness as the Dumb Muscle. But all three make up for it by having at least one of them be the Only Sane Man when the rest of the group touches the Idiot Ball.
    • Loquasto's sense of smell and Zezelryk's potion making also occasionally come in handy Plus Zezelryk now has a nifty magic item. Also in the season finale Bruce shows that he's a pretty competent fighter.
  • Charlie on Lost was The Load for for first two seasons, but came through in a big way at the end of season 3. A few characters have occasionally treated Hurley like The Load, but he's likable enough (and also comes through at the end of season 3) that the characterization doesn't stick. Daniel spent some time as The Load when he was first introduced in season 4 before he gained confidence and moved more towards a leadership role amoung the Frieghties, until midway through season 5 where he suffered a Heroic BSOD after Charlotte died.
    • And let's not forget Boone, who spent the entire first season being completely useless, then getting a plane dropped on him... while inside it. If you need proof of just how completely worthless he was, his first appearance on the show had Jack sending him off to find a pen to perform a tracheotomy on a woman who did not need a tracheotomy.
      • Boone? What about Shannon?
  • The page quote above comes from the end of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Prince of Space. Most of the movie's action involves a group of hapless, middle-aged scientists having to be constantly rescued from Evil Alien Chicken people by the title character.
    • Furthermore, the movie demonstrated a particular peculiarity Japanese children seem to constantly exhibit in movies like this; namely, the need to be within close proximity of the hero at all times, even or especially when he's busy fighting the Monster of the Week, and even or especially when this would put both them and the hero in incredible danger. Maybe it's the Japanese's way of trying to weed out the weak and stupid and keep the population down.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 803, The Mole People, the heroes have to drag a middle-aged French scientist with them everywhere they go. He's such a liability, that Mike and the bots quickly nickname him "The Load". He mercifully keels over early in the film, but still manages to cause problems for the heroes later on when his body is discovered by the titular Mole People. (Up to that point, they believed the visiting heroes were immortal gods.)
    • "He died as he lived: A total load."
  • Much, the Tagalong Kid from the series Robin of Sherwood, never accomplishes anything, fails as a lookout, and occasionally lets prisoners go. Any fight scene he's in always involves someone rescuing him, even when he gets a Magic Sword. He's quite a liability for a tiny group of constantly hunted outlaws. Of course, he's also the hero's brother...
    • He's only the hero's brother at first. After Robert Huntingdon comes in, they don't even have that excuse.
    • He eventually gets (somewhat) better. At the beginning of the episode Adam Bell an entire troop of fully armed and armoured soldiers has hard time capturing Much, who has only a staff and none of his friends to help. They eventually get him, but he gives them a good run for their money.
      • It says a lot about his Load status that "not getting captured right away" is a point in his favour.
  • The new BBC series of Robin Hood also has one. For mysterious reasons, the outlaws let village girl Kate join the gang instead of shipping her off to Kirkless Abbey like they do to all the other people they rescue. They pay dearly for their foolishness, considering they spend the greater part of the rest of the series rescuing her when she gets kidnapped, caring for her when she gets injured, and having to put up with her endless moaning, nagging, whining, and criticism (all done in a delightful high-pitched screech). Throughout the course of the series she never achieves anything important or interesting. She's useless as a fighter, has no helpful skills, lacks the most basic degree of common sense, and isn't even a very nice person.
    • Honestly, if a team member is so useless that she needs to be spoon-fed, then you need to seriously reconsider your recruiting standards.
  • The scientists of Stargate Atlantis can't fire a gun to save their lives (literally). While certainly not worthless, McKay pretty much just hides out and shoots blindly around corners in a firefight.
    • He redeems himself (sometimes) when something technical has to be done.
      • Sometimes? 90% of time he is the one who saves the day while everybody else just provide covering fire, distraction or just do what they are told.
      • And will be the first to point that out.
    • Special mention to Dr. Keller. On two separate occasions, Keller ends up in a dangerous situation where she's on the run from the bad guys with one of Sheppard's team (with Teyla in "Missing" and Ronon in "The Lost Tribe".) Both times she is a serious liability, being unable to fire a weapon or fight (and complaining when she has to pick up a gun to defend herself.)
  • Camile Wray and Chloe Armstrong from Stargate Universe, their field of study are in politics which makes them useless on an alien space ship. On top of that Camile is a Manipulative Bitch and Chloe has a bad case of Too Dumb to Live.
  • A new Crime Scene Unit guy Stucky on the 08-09 season of Law and Order SVU was a load to the detectives, shouting inappropriate things at crime scenes and generally annoying the hell out of the other lab tech and Stabler. All this changed in the season finale when he was revealed to be a complete psychopath who planted evidence and killed a man to "help" the detectives catch a serial killer and when that failed to impress his colleagues he killed his lab partner and almost killed Stabler. Fortunately Olivia was there to put down the deranged Scrappy.
  • From Chuck, there's Chuck. At the start much of the show's humor came from demonstrating someone in so far over his head he's in danger of being crushed by the pressure. He also demonstrates erratic competence, often managing to both save the day and act as The Load in the same episode.
  • Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy has to protect her from those that know she is the key, but Dawn gets kindapped, paralyzed, and attacked all the time, not to mention the trouble she causes by herself by inviting vampires into their house, making wishes to vengeance demons, resurrecting dead people and parking with vampires.
  • Tasha Yar in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her character's complete lack of usefulness is what led Denise Crosby to leave the show near the end of the first season.
    • In many ways, Deanna Troi filled this role too. She was always being possessed by aliens, abused by aliens in crashed shuttles, abducted by aliens for political gambits, being nearly forced to marry an alien, having her psychic powers robbed by aliens, suffering nightmares at the hands of aliens, forced to listen to a virtual music box in her head for days by an alien, the list goes on. Her only real use on the show was to counsel the random crew member of the week and to tell Picard when she sensed weird things happening while on the bridge. Maybe this makes her closer to Butt Monkey.
    • Troi did manage to Take a Level In Badass during a two-episode arc where she was sent to spy on the Romulans...but left that level somewhere for the rest of the series, never to be seen again. Those episodes are the reason A Day in the Limelight used to be named Good Troi Episode.
  • There's at least one racer per season on The Amazing Race that's completely useless on tasks, dragging down their teammate.
  • Arthur from The King of Queens contributes nothing to the household and in fact has cost the Heffernans significant amounts of money( Started fires, sold their furniture when the are away...etc) and stress (goes through personal belongings, keeps them awake at night when moved across the hall, constantly yelling and trying to force his rules on them...etc). Whenever he comes across some money like bingo winnings, he doesn't even think to offer Doug and Carrie any of it for something such as new appliances they all use and has to be more or less told to give it to them. Doug wants him out of the house for these reasons but Carrie defends Arthur, claiming he isn't that bad(which is odd, as it has been firmly established that Arthur was a terrible father).
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun - Harry Solomon. Although all the aliens are often Too Dumb to Live, Harry is the worst. At first he seems to have no official role in the unit, until it's revealed that he has a massive transmission device in his head, and to make space for it they gave him only half a brain. An unusual case because although he's generally useless, he's one of the most beloved and endearing characters in the show.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In general, playing co-op/multiplayer games with other players who aren't contributing enough if at all, especially when said game requires the effort of every player in order to succeed. It may be excusable if a player is new to the game or the multiplayer portion of it, but some players may actively try to sabotage their teammates. Thankfully most games allow you to kick such players.
    • This is especially so if the number of players in a team are low, but the skill levels of the players affect their roles (or negatives) by a lot. This translates to having a few player bringing important and far-reaching contributions, but there is this one person who might as well not exist (he might not be bad persay, he's just Can't Catch Up to his teammates). MOBA games such as League of Legends and RTS such as StarCraft, even certain breeds of FPS and action games such as Battlefield and Team Fortress tend to become Teeth-Clenched Teamwork because of this trope.
  • A textbook example of this would be Simon in the this Let's Play of Magicka by Total Biscuit and Yogscast. Rule of Funny is pretty much the only reason for his continued inclusion. His regular contributions include...
  • Every Escort Mission ever.
    • Except Caiden Dunwald from World of Warcraft. He wants you to accompany him through what he knows damn well is a twilight ambush. He is so powerful however that he is escorting you.
      • Harrison Jones from the same game in one quest in Northrend is so Badass that even though you start a quest by getting him out of the cage he's locked in, he ends up escorting you out of the dungeon.
    • Escort missions in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, unfortunately, are a straight example; your escortee is always level 1, they will always attack enemy Pokemon (even when said enemy Pokemon has a type advantage or can otherwise one-shot them), you can't edit their moveset or IQ to help them not make stupid decisions that could get them killed, and you can't give/take away/exchange items with them. Your best bet is to bring along lots of Reviver Seeds and pray that nothing too terrible happens. Also, Pokemon that you've just recruited can turn into this if you forget to turn off any unhelpful moves.
  • Every Joke Character who is a Required Party Member during some parts of their game.
  • Stross of Dead Space 2. He starts off fairly coherent and helpful, but as his sanity degrades, so does his usefulness. He spends most of the second act sitting in a corner and whispering to himself, and eventually goes so crazy that he pulls a Face Heel Turn, pokes out Ellie's eye with a screwdriver, and tries to do the same to Isaac, who offs him by stabbing him with said screwdriver.
  • Slippy Toad of Star FOX. He was even nicknamed "Slippy 'The Load' Toad!"
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ruto literally acts as a load, forcing Link to carry her around and getting caught by enemies.
    • And ironically, is only useful by being a load. Specifically, she is an indestructible and portable weight that can be used to keep switches pressed down.
    • As well as all that, she also damages enemies if you happen to chuck her at them, leading to the ridiculous amounts of awesome that is defeating most of the enemies with the 'Ruto Cannon'.
  • In Perfect Dark there's Doctor Carroll who you must escort; he gets stuck on walls and odd places when following you, and can die easily.
    • In GoldenEye 64, Natalya could feel this way at times (like refusing to help you if you kill Boris, who is a BAD guy, thereby guaranteeing the enemies win), but she generally had good health, scripted importance and in some levels was even given a magnum and super aiming skills. The scientists you weren't allowed to kill (unless you wanted to fail the mission) were a much more a straight example, however, since many seemed to almost prefer death to life.
  • In Ico there's Yorda. The shadows are constantly after her and you can't let her die because A) You need her to open doors and B) You instantly die if she's captured. It's very intentional, as the game is a close examination of the trope, gently asking the player to start caring about the girl because she's helpless.
    • In the original game concept, she was blind.
  • Owyn from Betrayal at Krondor starts out as this, as the nineteen-year-old kid who's not quite as experienced in dealing with life-or-death situations as his companions, which include a dark elf, a former-thief-turned-royal-special-agent, and a knight and soldier of the realm. He only joins the party because he's a security risk otherwise, and his limited magic skills don't do much to offset the trouble of needing to protect him from getting killed all the time. As soon as he starts picking up some new spells, however, this changes dramatically, and you'll be glad to have him.
  • Any character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas who is supposed to shoot at the bad guys while you drive. They all have worse aiming than seems humanly possible. To the point where the "let's go do a drive-by" mission is easier (and quicker) if you just run over the targets. At least Woozie is literally blind. What's everyone else's excuse?
    • Not to mention he arguably has the best aim out of everyone else.
  • Professor Harold MacDougal from Red Dead Redemption fits this trope to a T. He's not only a whiny, wimpy and drug-addled racist, he also requires constant protection and creates new problems for players, such as provoking a grizzly bear or being held at gunpoint and used as a human shield. He contributes absolutely nothing during missions, and on top of it all, is ridiculously full of himself, making his departure back to Yale a welcome moment in the game.
  • Shandra Jerro from Neverwinter Nights 2 is a bit of a load before her levels in fighter show up.
  • Most Fire Emblem games allow you to make anyone light enough (low enough constitution) become The Load to someone with an adequate rescue value by use of the rescue mechanic, which, while useful for moving slow units and well, rescuing units in peril, also halves the rescuer's speed and skill stats (as well as Strenght, Defense and sometimes Movement in Thracia 776). At least it's not as annoying since it's by choice, but irresponsible use can lead to failure.
    • A straighter example of this occurs in Radiant Dawn near the end of part 1. The main character, Micaiah, becomes this during 1-9 when the bad guys ambush her at night, resulting in Fog of War. The good news is that the Black Knight literally warps in out of nowhere to save your ass, but Micaiah can still be attacked if you're not careful. This is bad considering all of the enemies are fairly powerful physical users, and Micaiah's weak points are speed and defense, as well as a low HP cap. The worst part is that she refuses to be rescued by the Black Knight for... principles, I guess? Despite the fact that you'll pretty much be using him for the entire fight anyway, while Michaiah runs and hides, despite the fact that enemies are never blinded by Fog of War. Still if she could be rescued, the fight would becomes something else entirely.
      • Played With somewhat, as the whole point of the level is to cap Micaiah before her forced promotion. The good side of this is that if you've prepared well enough and play strategically, she can hit level 20 and max out a few of her stats. If Micaiah is too low a level, it's almost impossible for her to not get killed.
  • Ashley Graham, from Resident Evil 4. In the game, you return her safely to the White House, which turns out to be as easy as it sounds, for the chirpy First Daughter's heavily prone to danger. Whether she's cowering in fear in the line of fire, being kidnapped by spinning walls, eating up your health items, or shrieking HAAALP! and LEON! when snatched up, it barely justifies the bonus of her company in what can be a very long game.
    • This is pretty much the reason that, in New Game+, you can choose to put her in a suit of armor that both protects her from ANY damage and is too heavy for the mooks to carry her away. Not only is she just some girl that follows you around now, but you can actually use her as bait now. The only drawback it the noise she makes when she walks, but it's a miniscule price to pay for The Load becoming invincible.
  • During most of the time in In Famous, Zeke who borderlines being a Millstone just sleeps at his roof top, spouts non-sense conspiracy theories, uses his friendship with Cole to score dates, and even joined Kesseler during the game's twilight hours. He does come back to your side at the end however.
    • Granted, all he does is offer an ineffectual pistol shot against a guy practically immune to bullets. By the end of In Famous 1, Zeke can be a real load for some players. He gets much better presentation in In Famous 2, especially if you finish that game on the Evil side.
  • Play Left 4 Dead in versus mode for a while and eventually you'll come across at least one player who is a complete and total load who doesn't know how to play the game well, doesn't know how to adapt and learn, doesn't understand that he should be constantly running with the rest of the team instead of idling behind, is always needing to be rescued by his teammates, etc. Players like this are rarely tolerated for long and are often booted from the game by their teammates. You won't be playing for long if you remain so unskilled despite hours of gameplay experience that you're always the source of frustration in your team.
    • This also applies to co-op as well. Doing newbie mistakes such as using healing items when your health is already in the green (unless you're using them to take an extra item you found), throwing pipe bombs after someone clearly tossed a bile bomb (both bombs attract zombies to an area), constantly throwing molotovs badly that result in setting everyone else on fire, lagging behind or running too far ahead of the team, or not shooting special infected that has another player pinned down are just some of the many examples that will get people to kick you out of the game for being such a burden. Sadly, these kinds of bad tactics is a major attraction for a Griefer.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: EVERYONE knows Flavio is this. Or is he The Millstone...?
  • World of Warcraft, eventually in the game you will probably end up doing instances or raids. There is a 99% chance that you will eventually be in a group with The Load who will constantly ignore the group's pleas to stop screwing up or grabbing aggro and will often need to be saved. Needless to say, they are often kicked.
    • Every player who purchases PvP equipment to trick the dungeon finder into believing their item level is high enough for heroic or zandalari random dungeons will inevitably be one of those through inadequate gear. They might also have a lack of skill or bad attitude as bonus.
  • Murray was actually like this in the first Sly Cooper—he was a clumsy, cowardly goofball absolutely useless for anything not involving driving, to the point that his job description actually includes the phrase "full-time burden." The later games make him into The Big Guy.
  • In Team Fortress 2, snipers will often start dueling each other to the exclusion of any other matters, such as taking out strategic targets, or helping their team win.
    • Soldiers have been known to do this on occasion too, though it's far less common.
    • Snipers dueling each other or sniping enemies strictly to rack up kills is a common problem in a lot of team-based multiplayer games, including Call of Duty and Battlefield to the point where some players are of the opinion that snipers are completely useless.
  • Any thief character in Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon. There are a few locked doors he can open at the very beginning, but after that, there's no real opportunity to use any of the thief special abilities, and you cannot even backstab in combat. As a result, the thief just becomes a very weak, under-armed and especially under-armored fighter. And since you can only have four characters in your party, you are really much better off taking almost anyone else besides a thief. This is a milder example than some of the others, in that a thief isn't totally useless, he's just not as useful as any other option you could take.
    • Since Order of the Griffon utilizes something very similar to the classic Gold Box engine, this same trope could be said to apply, to a lesser extent, to most if not all the Gold Box games. Depending on the game, there may be the occasional trap to disarm, and locked doors are relatively common. In the latter case, however, you are likely to have at least one character strong enough to force any locked door. Additionally, backstabbing in combat is hard, although not impossible. Also, the fact that you can have six party members as opposed to just four means it's less of a burden to use one slot on a thief. All in all, though, you will frequently be better off with another frontline combatant or spellcaster.
  • In Drakengard, both Verdelet and Seere serve this role in their own way. Verdelet is not only the Non-Action Guy despite being considered a party member, he spends the game raving about the impending doom befalling the world and little else (and when he actually tries something, it only leads to the villain going One-Winged Angel in response). Seere serves mostly as a Damsel Scrappy who gets kidnapped and sidetracks the protagonists.
  • In Legend of Mana, Pearl can't fight at all, and in events that require her, she takes up a slot that could be filled with a more useful character, or even a main character from another game file. Not quite an Escort Mission - you can bring her along on random missions, and the game doesn't care if she gets hit with Non-Lethal KO if another character remains standing - but she sure does not pull her weight. Lady Blackpearl, on the other hand...
  • Maria, Eileen, and Elle in Silent Hill 2, 4, and Homecoming respectively. Eileen's, which takes up the entire second half of the game, can be particularly frustrating; on one hand, she herself is invincible (up until the Final Boss, anyway) and is capable of fighting back. On the other, she can't keep up with Henry because of her injuries, which makes running away from dangerous situations that much more difficult, and she likes to attack everything, including the Ghost Victims.
  • Emma Emmerich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. She dies at the end of the mission.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Justin of El Goonish Shive feels like The Load during the Sister Arc because everyone assumes he's not strong enough to help rescue Elliot. (All of the other candidates for the team had magic and/or super powers.) In fact, his dream that night casts him as a helpless hobbit who's forced to stay behind while the guys girls who saved Elliot are cast as the Fellowship.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Kiki is by far the most useless character in a fight, and her tendency to play with anything shiny has often put the characters in danger from explosions, dimensional portals, and radiation poisoning. However, because she is The Ditz, the Genki Girl, and the Team Pet, most readers love her anyway.
    • Be fair, it's not Kiki's fault that only Bun-Bun has figured out how to utilize (read: weaponize, using a pixie stick and a cardboard tube) her.
  • Elan the bard from Order of the Stick, as noted in the page quote above. Somewhat predictably, once he's separated from the party (and stuck in a prison cell, no less), he takes a level in Dashing Swordsman.
    • In social encounters (or actually any encounters that require something other than wanton violence and destruction), Belkar typically takes over the role of The Load from Elan, being much inclined to provoke (or just plain start) fights in mid-negotiation.
      • Which makes sense, because Elan has a Charisma stat of 18 (explicitly mentioned), while Belkar's is around -12 (rough estimate).
  • Iki of Off White is a Big Eater that is bad at hunting, is clumsy, and slow. If he was not part of a pack, he would of died by now.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In Survival of the Fittest, Cara Scholte becomes this for Maxie Dasai. The latter has to literally pull Cara around for a good half a day and was prevented from fleeing from a dangerous encounter with Adam Reeves in concern for her companion's well-being. Sure, Cara was catatonic at the time, but given the outcome of the fight...
  • The main character in the blog novel Flyover City! is a slacker / fanboy in a world where superheroes are real. His mundane call center job for the “big evil empire” eventually leads him to the sidelines of several super-powered battles.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Ma-Ti from Captain Planet and the Planeteers often feels this way. After all, What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?? And being just 12 years old when the other Planeteers are over the age of 15 doesn't help, either.
    • This may be subverted, as his powers has saved them countless times from being eaten by flesh-eating predators. Not to mention the fact they still need him to summon Captain Planet.
  • Cheetor in Beast Wars, but on an intermittent basis. Cheetor's relatively small size/firepower, impetuousness, immaturity, and lack of specialized skills can even verge on The Millstone. On the other hand, his speed and enthusiasm commonly enable him to fill a solid supporting role.
    • Equally, he starts out as the load (and the resident trouble magnet), but throughout the series get powered up and matures into the Cheetor we see in Beast Machines. He's still fast, he's still impetuous but hell, he's scary good at what he does.
    • Almost the exact same thing could be said of Animated Bumblebee. While he is okay at fighting human supervillains he is utterly useless when fighting Decepticons on his own, as his one weapon (nodes that shoot out beams of electricity) are too weak to even make any of them flinch. Well, until he gets the limiters on them taken off and they become the most powerful weapon on the entire team.
    • In Beast Machines, Rattrap takes over this position at the beginning because he has trouble transforming and, even when he does, doesn't have any actual weapons in robot form. The other characters, who previously viewed Rattrap as mildly annoying but a good guy to have on your side, start treating him increasingly as The Load. When Optimus is temporarily put out of commission and can't head off the other characters, they get downright hostile. Then they're surprised when Rattrap takes drastic measures to get some firepower.
    • Certain Transformers series attempt to avert this with their Human Buddies—the location of the Allspark is imprinted on Sam Witwicky's glasses, Coby, Bud and Lori fix things and Sari is somewhat of a liaison between humans and the Autobots as well as having a key empowered by the Allspark. (Kicker has premonition, but that didn't stop him from becoming The Scrappy.)
    • In Transformers Prime, Miko has this bad, possessing all the survival instincts of a lemming with nothing left to live for. Not even months of experience is enough to teach her that, no, she can't be of much help on the battlefield, and no, it is not safe for a squishy human to be around giant robot fights. Surprisingly, the other two Team Pet human kids are actually helpful, one in an information-providing capacity, and the other having actually slowed down or temporarily defeated Decepticons once or twice. Though she's getting better in recent episodes.
  • Ben 10 Alien Force: Alien X is a reality-bending Super Mode alien, the most powerful being in the universe. The problem is that Ben has to get a majority agreement on the tasks at hand with two other personalities within the alien. But seeing as they can't agree on anything, and are only slighly more likely to agree with Ben, the form is literally dead weight.
  • Korporal Kretinus/Fugg in Insektors. How he manages to keep his job when he happens to be fairly thick is anyone's guess.
  • Nearly everyone in Dragon Booster, thanks in part to how overpowered Artha and Moordryd happen to be.
  • Mostly averted with the sidekick Ron Stoppable in Kim Possible. Despite the fact that he sometimes does screw up the missions or needs to be saved, history has shown that he does save the mission more times than he screws them up, has Rufus in his pocket who saves the team every time the writers are too lazy to figure out a more clever way, and the first movie showed that Kim was practically a loser without Ron as her sidekick.
    • Aside from the few times late in the series when Ron's intermittent monkey-theme superpowers kick in, his contributions are less than obvious, because they're almost entirely passive, but are actually quite important. Most notably, he does two things: transport Rufus (who's nearly as useful as Kim) to where he's needed, and keeps Kim inspired by his presence, and motivated by his being usually in some danger. The latter is usually only very weakly implied, but the aforementioned movie, and similar scenes in a couple serial episodes, made it very explicitly clear: in Ron's significant absence, Kim's effectiveness drops by a wide margin. The villain of the first movie arranged for them to be separated for precisely this reason.
    • Another aspect of it is that his apparent incompetence makes him completely unpredictable, so no matter how good the villain's plan is, Ron can ruin it just because it could never have foreseen him.
  • Aelita from Code Lyoko might count in the first two seasons, where her only form of defense, "Creativity", costs half of her life points, and she will die if she runs out of Life Points. She's only useful to stop XANA from attacking by deactivating towers he is using. In the 3rd season, she no longer dies when she loses all her Life Points, and she has an attack that is actually more powerful than those of the rest of the group.
    • In the real world, Sissi can either become The Load if she gets involved in the action, or surprisingly helpful. She's unpredictable like that.
  • Played with a lot in Futurama. Examples: The second episode, where they get stuck in a crater's quicksand on the Moon. Fry says "It's no use! Every man for himself!" Jumps out of the cart, gets stuck, then cries "Help me, Leela!"
    • Or when Fry's head gets grafted onto Amy's shoulder.
  • King of the Hill: Almost all of Hank Hill's friends and family are Loads on one level or another (and sometimes he himself is a Load to them!), but his wife Peggy really takes the cake with her raging ego and uselessness.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has Pepper Potts. She gets captured and rescued by Tony with surprising regularity, except for those occasions where Gene rescues her. She has an incredible knack for making bad situations worse and does very little to help Tony out, though to her credit she does try. Her efforts usually result in Tony yelling at her.
    • However she is fully aware that she is The Load, which is why she wants an Power Armor of her own so she can be a more proactive member of the team.
  • Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender feels this way, at least sometimes, because he's bascially the only one in the team who can't bend any element. Also, Toph remarks it when they are being chased by Azula and her tank.
    • Not necessarily; while in some situations, Sokka's lack of bending makes him less threatening, he's often had great success with his boomerang, and it's basically his intellect that drives the other characters from Point A to B for pretty much the entire series' run. And he only gets better after he gets his sword (see Took a Level in Badass).
  • Mysterio temporarily becomes a villainous example in the Villain Team-Up in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He has no powers to contribute to anything, only crates of stuff their quarry can knock down to block the villains' way when they are chasing a de-powered Spider-Man.
  • Total Drama Island has Owen, and in early episodes Courtney (though this changed once she got more competitive). Owen's natue as The Load is made worse in Action by the fact that his team always forgives him for losing challenges or slowing them down.
    • Total Drama Revenge of the Island has Cameron take his place in "The Enchanted Franken-Forest", complete with lampshade hanging from Zoey, who is forced to save him from mutant plants and pitfalls at every turn.

Zoey: (confessional) Is it just me, or am I doing everything while Cameron acts as mutant bait?

  • Milhouse was this to Bart & Lisa when the Springfield elementary kids were stranded on an island. He forces them to carry him on a log over a chasm then he throws away the log before Bart & Lisa can cross because the kids chasing them are getting too close.
  • Antoine from Sonic SatAM . He is incredibly cowardly and almost never contributes anything of value, yet for some reason they frequently bring him along on action missions.
    • Funny enough, this was indirectly spoofed in the Archie comic. Antoine becomes far more useful over the course of the series, and at one point Bunnie tells him that they wouldn't have brought him on so many missions if they didn't have faith in him.
  • All the Channel 6 News Crew have become the Load at some point in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, but Vernon Fenwick is usually the biggest Load. He seems to exist just to make April O'Neil look like the more capable reporter, judging by the number of times he's fainted, run away, whined about getting a hard reporting assignment, or gotten captured by the Monster of the Week. It's no surprise that the turtles can't stand him.
  • While the main cast of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic are well-rounded and capable characters, on occasion one pony's weakness will drag the whole team down. One such example is Fluttershy in "Dragonshy". They're assigned a task to wake a sleeping dragon and make him move to a different location. Fluttershy's fear of dragons makes her a burden on everyone else through most of the episode. But in the end it's subverted, as her Badass Adorable nature finally takes over, and she's ultimately the one who convinces the dragon to move.
    • An interesting meta example in The Return Of Harmony, Discord attempts to drive her to cruelty by pointing out to her that she is The Load to her team. To his great surprise she proceeds to agree with every one of his insults in her usual kind, calm way much to the hilarity of the fans who know how badass she actually is, which forces Discord to straight up Mind Control her instead. Basically, by agreeing she is The Load, Fluttershy almost makes a hole in Discord's evil plans and proves that she's not The Load at all.
    • Spike plays the role more straight, being a baby dragon, he has yet to gain much physical prowess and so is often useless or requires protection once a physical threat appears. In the role of Twilight's assistant however, he is thoroughly competent, so proves himself rather useful in emotional or intellectual manners at least.
  • In Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes, it is actually Iron Man who is somewhat the load of the team. This is highlighted when Captain America confronts Tony about his combat tactics which usually involve blasting a target or simply tackling it, making Tony very predictable and ineffective despite all the power his armor should be capable of. Steve even offers to train Tony in hand to hand combat which if Tony had agreed to, would've probably made him the most effective team member.
  • In Adventure Time, Lumpy Space Princess usually hangs out in episodes or scenes that call for a larger cast. She rarely contributes much when she does. However this is likely done on purpose, given her whole routine is to be like a spoiled teenager.
  • Inspector Gadget toys with this. The overwelming majority of the time, the brainless detective is clueless to Claw's plan, spending most of his time bumbling or accusing the wrong guy while Penny and Brian do all the work for him. A fair few occasions however, his well timed clumsiness actually helps them along the way.
  • Rufus and Amberley of The Dreamstone. While often relied upon to protect the stone from the Urpneys, the two Noops actually usually left it vulnerable for the baddies to steal, getting captured or outfoxxed in their attempts to get it back, leaving more competent allies like the Wutts or the Urpneys' own bumbling to fix things for them. In the first season they are slightly more competent, but still outshined by their more powerful peers.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • This is recognized in the world of business by "The Peter Principle" where skilled employees are promoted through the ranks eventually to management where they are no longer doing what they are qualified to do and thus no longer competent in their jobs, making them The Load.
  • And expanded upon using "The Dilbert Principle" by the cartoonist Scott Adams in his book of the same name. The principle states that incompetent employees are promoted to middle management where they will safely become The Load instead of remaining in their former positions where they could do actual damage to the company as The Millstone.
  • Multiple American Vice-Presidential candidates have been accused of being such poor choices they were nothing but a drag on their ticket, accusations which can continue if they do become vice president. The 2008 election in particular saw both the Democrat and Republican Vice-Presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, accused of this.
  1. Peter Stormare (aka "the psychopath") only had to shoot the police officer because of Steve Buscemi's (aka "the first guy") stupidity - forgetting to attach temporary tags/offering a bribe to a cop.
  2. The shooting of the hostage wasn't due to his fear of someone hearing her, it was because he was simply fed up with her noise, just as he became fed up with Buscemi's constant talking/whining as soon as they had the money.