History Main / ConservationOfCompetence

28th Oct '16 1:24:00 PM nombretomado
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** Thoroughly averted when Colonel Potter comes on board as he is both a competent surgeon and a decent adminstartor.
* ''[[GilligansIsland Gilligan's Island]]''. Only one person in any given episode could be competent. Not always the same person, either. Of course if [[JustEatGilligan they were competent]] they'd be off the island. [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption So, yeah]].

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** Thoroughly averted when Colonel Potter comes on board as he is both a competent surgeon and a decent adminstartor.
adminstrator.
* ''[[GilligansIsland Gilligan's Island]]''.''Series/GilligansIsland''. Only one person in any given episode could be competent. Not always the same person, either. Of course if [[JustEatGilligan they were competent]] they'd be off the island. [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption So, yeah]].
22nd Oct '16 12:14:35 PM Xtifr
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* In ''The Minimum Man'' by Creator/RobertSheckley a man who is clumsy, accident-prone and generally incompetent is sent to open up a planet for colonization. He is assisted by a robot which does all of the heavy work excellently. During the story, the man (who is away from the public disapproval of the rest of society for the very first time) slowly becomes less clumsy, less accident-prone, and more competent. But he noticed that as he got better, the robot got more clumsy and accident-prone. When he asked about this, his boss cheerfully admitted that this was deliberate on their part, because they could not count on the standard colonist to get better, and they literally and specifically wanted to preserve a level of incompetence across the entire team.

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* In ''The the short story "The Minimum Man'' Man" by Creator/RobertSheckley Creator/RobertSheckley, a man who is clumsy, accident-prone and generally incompetent is sent to open up a planet for colonization. He is assisted by a robot which does all of the heavy work excellently. During the story, the man (who is away from the public disapproval of the rest of society for the very first time) slowly becomes less clumsy, less accident-prone, and more competent. But he noticed that as he got better, the robot got more clumsy and accident-prone. When he asked about this, his boss cheerfully admitted that this was deliberate on their part, because they could not count on the standard colonist to get better, and they literally and specifically wanted to preserve a level of incompetence across the entire team.
7th Oct '16 1:00:28 PM flodoris
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* Competent supporters: BeleagueredAssistant, HypercompetentSidekick, OnlySaneEmployee, ReliableTraitor, SidekickExMachina, DragonInChief.

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* Competent supporters: BeleagueredAssistant, HypercompetentSidekick, OnlySaneEmployee, ReliableTraitor, SidekickExMachina, DragonInChief.
26th Jul '16 4:55:55 PM Ferot_Dreadnaught
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* Competent leaders: ReasonableAuthorityFigure, DangerouslyGenreSavvy.

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* Competent leaders: ReasonableAuthorityFigure, DangerouslyGenreSavvy.ReasonableAuthorityFigure.
16th Jul '16 3:59:39 PM nombretomado
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* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'', Scratch and Grounder (and sometimes Coconuts, as well) are Dr. Robotnik's incompetent lackeys, who he only keeps around because he's too cheap to build anything more reliable. Of course, [[FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome Grounder once proved that, were he more intelligent, he could be a far greater threat than his creator.]] Robotnik himself toyed with this (while usually rather bumbling himself, he often appeared as a NotSoHarmlessVillain whenever his minions put up an exceptionally poor fight against Sonic).

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* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'', ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'', Scratch and Grounder (and sometimes Coconuts, as well) are Dr. Robotnik's incompetent lackeys, who he only keeps around because he's too cheap to build anything more reliable. Of course, [[FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome Grounder once proved that, were he more intelligent, he could be a far greater threat than his creator.]] Robotnik himself toyed with this (while usually rather bumbling himself, he often appeared as a NotSoHarmlessVillain whenever his minions put up an exceptionally poor fight against Sonic).
14th Jun '16 3:54:12 PM nighttrainfm
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* This trope goes both ways in various ''Franchise/StarTrek'' shows. The seven or so senior officers of the ship are competent. Above them are {{Insane Admiral}}s and {{Obstructive Bureaucrat}}s. Below them are {{Red Shirt}}s. So there are incompetent leaders ''and'' incompetent supporters, with the competent main characters squarely in the middle of the command structure.

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* This trope goes both ways in various ''Franchise/StarTrek'' shows. The seven or so senior officers of the ship are competent. Above them are {{Insane Admiral}}s and {{Obstructive Bureaucrat}}s. Below them are {{Red Shirt}}s. So there are incompetent leaders ''and'' incompetent supporters, with [[TheMainCharactersDoEverything the competent main characters characters]] squarely in the middle of the command structure.
5th Jan '16 1:00:59 PM StFan
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[[AC: {{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* The ''{{Anime/Pokemon}}'' anime gives us the presumably competent Giovanni, whose subordinates are the one and only Team Rocket TerribleTrio. A prime example was their second ever onscreen interaction: Jessie and James are trapped on an island (and separated from Meowth and their other Pokémon) with only a payphone as communication. Seeing as they have no money, they decide to collect call their boss. After being greeted by a grumpy Giovanni warning them that whoever is calling better have a good reason for making him spend money on the call, Jessie and James are [[TooDumbToLive stupid enough]] to start reciting their motto. Cue Giovanni hanging up wondering who the hell those idiots were. This operates on two levels because Meowth is the competent sidekick to the bumbling Jesse and James.

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[[AC: {{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'':
**
The ''{{Anime/Pokemon}}'' anime gives us the presumably competent Giovanni, whose subordinates are the one and only Team Rocket TerribleTrio. A prime example was their second ever onscreen interaction: Jessie and James are trapped on an island (and separated from Meowth and their other Pokémon) with only a payphone as communication. Seeing as they have no money, they decide to collect call their boss. After being greeted by a grumpy Giovanni warning them that whoever is calling better have a good reason for making him spend money on the call, Jessie and James are [[TooDumbToLive stupid enough]] to start reciting their motto. Cue Giovanni hanging up wondering who the hell those idiots were. This operates on two levels because Meowth is the competent sidekick to the bumbling Jesse and James.



* Played with in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. Father is smart, but his minions the homunculi have varying degrees of intelligence - for instance, Lust is smart, Gluttony is an idiot, and Envy and Wrath are mostly smart but [[WhatAnIdiot sometimes make bad decisions]].

[[AC: Fan Works]]

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* Played with in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. Father is smart, but his minions the homunculi have varying degrees of intelligence - -- for instance, Lust is smart, Gluttony is an idiot, and Envy and Wrath are mostly smart but [[WhatAnIdiot sometimes make bad decisions]].

[[AC: Fan
decisions]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* Compare the PointyHairedBoss of ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' fame to the engineers working for him. Not every engineer *cough*Wally*cough* is completely competent, but there are hints that even Wally ''could'' be competent if he cared. Which he doesn't. Wally is explicitly based on a guy Scott Adams knew who apparently discovered that the company they worked for had a very generous severance package for worthless employees, so he applied more creative effort to qualifying for it than most people do to jobs they've always dreamed of doing.
** The PHB's bosses (when we see them) are even '''dumber'''.
** The PointyHairedBoss has been wearing the stupid hat for so long that it's now occasionally funny to write a strip where he is the ReasonableAuthorityFigure plagued by the lazy Wally, the naysaying Dilbert, and the belligerent Alice. They're so used to having to defend themselves this way that they won't listen on the rare occasions when PHB's management perspective makes him right.
* The low-level, minimum wage workers in ''ComicStrip/{{Retail}}'' love pointing out the stupid and/or inane policies made by their bosses.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan
Works]]




[[AC: Literature]]

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[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp'': Aunt Sarah is dumb, the siamese cats are smart.
* ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'': Maleficent is smart, her ogre minions are dumb.
* ''Disney/RobinHood'': Prince John is dumb, the Sheriff of Nottingham and even more so Sir Hiss are smart.
* ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'': [[MeaningfulName Abis Mal]], who, whether leading a gang of bandits who are smarter than him or being the semi-willing pawn of an evil genie who's smarter than he is, is pretty much guaranteed to be more of a liability than an asset.
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'': Scar is smart, the hyenas are dumb.
* ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'': Hades is smart, Pain and Panic are dumb.
* ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'': Yzma is smart, Kronk is dumb.
* Startlingly averted in ''Disney/{{Mulan}},'' where both Shan Yu ''and'' his lieutenants are smart and scary.
* Both versions regularly appear in ''[[WesternAnimation/KimPossible Kim Possible]]''. Dr. Drakken is generally clueless about everything other than [[MadScientist mad science]], relying on [[TheDragon Shego]] to fight and steal things for him. Señor Senior Senior is a [[ContractualGenreBlindness perfectly capable villain]] (allowing for the fact that his goal is to [[EccentricMillionaire entertain himself]] rather than to succeed in his schemes) who is constantly frustrated by his son Señor Senior Junior's [[MinionWithAnFInEvil lack of proper villainous spirit]].
* Played with in ''Disney/TheGreatMouseDetective''. [[MagnificentBastard Professor Ratigan]] is a genius and his henchmen are surprisingly good at what they do (Even ''Fidget'', who manages to ambush the main characters twice). The trouble is Basil of Baker Street is just so ''good at what he does'' that he evokes this trope in the villains purely by comparison.

[[AC: Literature]][[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]




[[AC: LiveActionTV]]

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\n[[AC: LiveActionTV]][[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]




[[AC: NewspaperComics]]
* Compare the PointyHairedBoss of ''{{ComicStrip/Dilbert}}'' fame to the engineers working for him. Not every engineer *cough*Wally*cough* is completely competent, but there are hints that even Wally ''could'' be competent if he cared. Which he doesn't. Wally is explicitly based on a guy Scott Adams knew who apparently discovered that the company they worked for had a very generous severance package for worthless employees, so he applied more creative effort to qualifying for it than most people do to jobs they've always dreamed of doing.
** The PHB's bosses (when we see them) are even '''dumber'''.
** The PointyHairedBoss has been wearing the stupid hat for so long that it's now occasionally funny to write a strip where he is the ReasonableAuthorityFigure plagued by the lazy Wally, the naysaying Dilbert, and the belligerent Alice. They're so used to having to defend themselves this way that they won't listen on the rare occasions when PHB's management perspective makes him right.
* The low-level, minimum wage workers in ''{{Retail}}'' love pointing out the stupid and/or inane policies made by their bosses.

[[AC: Video Games]]

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\n[[AC: NewspaperComics]]\n* Compare the PointyHairedBoss of ''{{ComicStrip/Dilbert}}'' fame to the engineers working for him. Not every engineer *cough*Wally*cough* is completely competent, but there are hints that even Wally ''could'' be competent if he cared. Which he doesn't. Wally is explicitly based on a guy Scott Adams knew who apparently discovered that the company they worked for had a very generous severance package for worthless employees, so he applied more creative effort to qualifying for it than most people do to jobs they've always dreamed of doing. \n** The PHB's bosses (when we see them) are even '''dumber'''.\n** The PointyHairedBoss has been wearing the stupid hat for so long that it's now occasionally funny to write a strip where he is the ReasonableAuthorityFigure plagued by the lazy Wally, the naysaying Dilbert, and the belligerent Alice. They're so used to having to defend themselves this way that they won't listen on the rare occasions when PHB's management perspective makes him right.\n* The low-level, minimum wage workers in ''{{Retail}}'' love pointing out the stupid and/or inane policies made by their bosses.\n\n[[AC: Video [[/folder]]

[[folder:Video
Games]]




[[AC:Web Animation]]

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\n[[AC:Web [[/folder]]

[[folder:Web
Animation]]




[[AC: WesternAnimation]]

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\n[[AC: WesternAnimation]][[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]



* Duke Igthorne and his ogres in Disney's ''GummiBears''. His right-hand ogre, Toadstool, is the smartest of the bunch, and is still barely more intelligent than the furniture.

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* Duke Igthorne and his ogres in Disney's ''GummiBears''.''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGummiBears''. His right-hand ogre, Toadstool, is the smartest of the bunch, and is still barely more intelligent than the furniture.



* In ''TheAdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'', Scratch and Grounder (and sometimes Coconuts, as well) are Dr. Robotnik's incompetent lackeys, who he only keeps around because he's too cheap to build anything more reliable. Of course, [[FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome Grounder once proved that, were he more intelligent, he could be a far greater threat than his creator.]] Robotnik himself toyed with this (while usually rather bumbling himself, he often appeared as a NotSoHarmlessVillain whenever his minions put up an exceptionally poor fight against Sonic).
* Most missions in ''SonicSatAm'' were fronted by Sonic, Sally and Antoine. Sally was physically vulnerable, but usually much more strategically competent than [[DumbMuscle the powerful but childish and reckless]] [[LeeroyJenkins Sonic]], while Antoine was [[TheLoad a useless imbecile]] that usually hindered stealth operations with his clumsiness or cowardice.
* In ''TheDreamstone'' some of Zordrak and Urpgor's plans may actually work if not for assigning them to Sgt Blob and his men. When Blob's team actually gets something right however, it is usually Urpgor (or in rare cases even Zordrak) that pull the IdiotBall. Rufus and Amberley started off as more competent heroes to contrast the Urpneys, but eventually evolved into [[TheFool Fools]] not much more apt than them, making it more a game of fate than skill. Their own master the Dreammaker and the Wuts aren't immune to this, but still considerably more competent and powerful than them.
** Used erratically in later episodes, where Rufus and Amberley revert to being more competent, [[DependingOnTheWriter but only when]] [[TheWorfEffect their peers aren't around]] [[OvershadowedByAwesome to outshine them]].

[[AC: Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon]]

Disney ''loves'' this trope for its villains.
* ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp'': Aunt Sarah is dumb, the siamese cats are smart.
* ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'': Maleficent is smart, her ogre minions are dumb.
* ''Disney/RobinHood'': Prince John is dumb, the Sheriff of Nottingham and even more so Sir Hiss are smart.
* ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'': [[MeaningfulName Abis Mal]], who, whether leading a gang of bandits who are smarter than him or being the semi-willing pawn of an evil genie who's smarter than he is, is pretty much guaranteed to be more of a liability than an asset.
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'': Scar is smart, the hyenas are dumb.
* ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'': Hades is smart, Pain and Panic are dumb.
* ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'': Yzma is smart, Kronk is dumb.
* Startlingly averted in ''Disney/{{Mulan}},'' where both Shan Yu ''and'' his lieutenants are smart and scary.
* Both versions regularly appear in ''[[WesternAnimation/KimPossible Kim Possible]]''. Dr. Drakken is generally clueless about everything other than [[MadScientist mad science]], relying on [[TheDragon Shego]] to fight and steal things for him. Señor Senior Senior is a [[ContractualGenreBlindness perfectly capable villain]] (allowing for the fact that his goal is to [[EccentricMillionaire entertain himself]] rather than to succeed in his schemes) who is constantly frustrated by his son Señor Senior Junior's [[MinionWithAnFInEvil lack of proper villainous spirit]].
* Played with in ''WesternAnimation/TheGreatMouseDetective''. [[MagnificentBastard Professor Ratigan]] is a genius and his henchmen are surprisingly good at what they do (Even ''Fidget'', who manages to ambush the main characters twice). The trouble is Basil of Baker Street is just so ''good at what he does'' that he evokes this trope in the villains purely by comparison.

[[AC: RealLife]]
* Oddly enforced in some real military organizations. Everyone in a certain group--usually of a certain rank or graduating class--is rated based on performance, and put in order from best to worst. Now, normally it would seem fairest to award assignments based on merit: the #1 performer gets the job she wants, and the worst performer gets put where no-one else wants to go. This leads to a problem: The place no-one wants to go gets all the bad performers, and then that organization does worse work, leading even fewer people to want to go there, leading to even worse work. To prevent this, the organization distributes its incompetence: the group is split into 3rds: top, bottom, and middle. These are then ranked. The top of each category gets the job they asked for; the bottom of each gets put where they're needed. While it may not be entirely fair to the "middling" performers, this ensures that every organization gets a mix of good and bad people and prevents any one place from having a large group of abysmal performers.

to:

* In ''TheAdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'', ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'', Scratch and Grounder (and sometimes Coconuts, as well) are Dr. Robotnik's incompetent lackeys, who he only keeps around because he's too cheap to build anything more reliable. Of course, [[FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome Grounder once proved that, were he more intelligent, he could be a far greater threat than his creator.]] Robotnik himself toyed with this (while usually rather bumbling himself, he often appeared as a NotSoHarmlessVillain whenever his minions put up an exceptionally poor fight against Sonic).
* Most missions in ''SonicSatAm'' ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAm'' were fronted by Sonic, Sally and Antoine. Sally was physically vulnerable, but usually much more strategically competent than [[DumbMuscle the powerful but childish and reckless]] [[LeeroyJenkins Sonic]], while Antoine was [[TheLoad a useless imbecile]] that usually hindered stealth operations with his clumsiness or cowardice.
* In ''TheDreamstone'' ''WesternAnimation/TheDreamstone'' some of Zordrak and Urpgor's plans may actually work if not for assigning them to Sgt Blob and his men. When Blob's team actually gets something right however, it is usually Urpgor (or in rare cases even Zordrak) that pull the IdiotBall. Rufus and Amberley started off as more competent heroes to contrast the Urpneys, but eventually evolved into [[TheFool Fools]] not much more apt than them, making it more a game of fate than skill. Their own master the Dreammaker and the Wuts aren't immune to this, but still considerably more competent and powerful than them.
**
them. Used erratically in later episodes, where Rufus and Amberley revert to being more competent, [[DependingOnTheWriter but only when]] [[TheWorfEffect their peers aren't around]] [[OvershadowedByAwesome to outshine them]].

[[AC: Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon]]

Disney ''loves'' this trope for its villains.
* ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp'': Aunt Sarah is dumb, the siamese cats are smart.
* ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'': Maleficent is smart, her ogre minions are dumb.
* ''Disney/RobinHood'': Prince John is dumb, the Sheriff of Nottingham and even more so Sir Hiss are smart.
* ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'': [[MeaningfulName Abis Mal]], who, whether leading a gang of bandits who are smarter than him or being the semi-willing pawn of an evil genie who's smarter than he is, is pretty much guaranteed to be more of a liability than an asset.
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'': Scar is smart, the hyenas are dumb.
* ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'': Hades is smart, Pain and Panic are dumb.
* ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'': Yzma is smart, Kronk is dumb.
* Startlingly averted in ''Disney/{{Mulan}},'' where both Shan Yu ''and'' his lieutenants are smart and scary.
* Both versions regularly appear in ''[[WesternAnimation/KimPossible Kim Possible]]''. Dr. Drakken is generally clueless about everything other than [[MadScientist mad science]], relying on [[TheDragon Shego]] to fight and steal things for him. Señor Senior Senior is a [[ContractualGenreBlindness perfectly capable villain]] (allowing for the fact that his goal is to [[EccentricMillionaire entertain himself]] rather than to succeed in his schemes) who is constantly frustrated by his son Señor Senior Junior's [[MinionWithAnFInEvil lack of proper villainous spirit]].
* Played with in ''WesternAnimation/TheGreatMouseDetective''. [[MagnificentBastard Professor Ratigan]] is a genius and his henchmen are surprisingly good at what they do (Even ''Fidget'', who manages to ambush the main characters twice). The trouble is Basil of Baker Street is just so ''good at what he does'' that he evokes this trope in the villains purely by comparison.

[[AC: RealLife]]
them]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Oddly enforced in some real military organizations. Everyone in a certain group--usually group -- usually of a certain rank or graduating class--is class -- is rated based on performance, and put in order from best to worst. Now, normally it would seem fairest to award assignments based on merit: the #1 performer gets the job she wants, and the worst performer gets put where no-one else wants to go. This leads to a problem: The place no-one wants to go gets all the bad performers, and then that organization does worse work, leading even fewer people to want to go there, leading to even worse work. To prevent this, the organization distributes its incompetence: the group is split into 3rds: top, bottom, and middle. These are then ranked. The top of each category gets the job they asked for; the bottom of each gets put where they're needed. While it may not be entirely fair to the "middling" performers, this ensures that every organization gets a mix of good and bad people and prevents any one place from having a large group of abysmal performers.




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[[/folder]]
25th Nov '15 10:27:35 AM PDL
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Added DiffLines:

** Other subordinates of Team Rocket are generally portrayed as more competent then the Team Rocket trio the audience is most familiar with, although this is very much [[DependingOnTheWriter dependent on who is writing the episode]].
25th Nov '15 10:13:18 AM KamenRiderOokalf
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* In ''The Minimum Man'' by RobertSheckley a man who is clumsy, accident-prone and generally incompetent is sent to open up a planet for colonization. He is assisted by a robot which does all of the heavy work excellently. During the story, the man (who is away from the public disapproval of the rest of society for the very first time) slowly becomes less clumsy, less accident-prone, and more competent. But he noticed that as he got better, the robot got more clumsy and accident-prone. When he asked about this, his boss cheerfully admitted that this was deliberate on their part, because they could not count on the standard colonist to get better, and they literally and specifically wanted to preserve a level of incompetence across the entire team.

to:

* In ''The Minimum Man'' by RobertSheckley Creator/RobertSheckley a man who is clumsy, accident-prone and generally incompetent is sent to open up a planet for colonization. He is assisted by a robot which does all of the heavy work excellently. During the story, the man (who is away from the public disapproval of the rest of society for the very first time) slowly becomes less clumsy, less accident-prone, and more competent. But he noticed that as he got better, the robot got more clumsy and accident-prone. When he asked about this, his boss cheerfully admitted that this was deliberate on their part, because they could not count on the standard colonist to get better, and they literally and specifically wanted to preserve a level of incompetence across the entire team.
23rd Aug '15 9:46:15 AM nombretomado
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*** If you think about it though, this trope applies when looking at every game in itself. In the aforemented example with with members of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, you have [[{{Baka}} Cirno]], [[FanNickname Daiyousei]] and [[TheDitz Rumia]] to offset the competence of the others.

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*** If you think about it though, this trope applies when looking at every game in itself. In the aforemented aforementioned example with with members of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, you have [[{{Baka}} [[UsefulNotes/{{Baka}} Cirno]], [[FanNickname Daiyousei]] and [[TheDitz Rumia]] to offset the competence of the others.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.ConservationOfCompetence