Created By: TravisTeeJune 12, 2012 Last Edited By: TravisTeeJuly 3, 2012

Competently Disadvantaged

A character who, despite his/her profession or location, lacks the crucial skill required.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"Sheís in a place called WATERWORLD, AND SHE CANíT SWIM?! Isnít that kind of like being in the Antarctic and not knowing how to put on a coat?!"
-- The Nostalgia Critic, Waterworld Review

The librarian can't read. The pool guard can't swim. Basically, this character lives in an area, or has a profession, where a skill is useful, or even required. And yet, the character in question lacks that certain skill. Reasons might include, but aren't limited to a lack of interest, a dislike for the subject (in the case of a work-related skill) or the character being too stupid to understand why that skill might be required.

The opposite of Bunny Ears Lawyer

Film
  • Anji from Star Trek Insurrection never learned to swim, despite having lived for about 300 years. Appearantly, she never got around to it.

  • In Waterworld, the polar ice caps have melted and almost the entire planet is covered with water. Has Enola's mother ever thought about teaching her daughter how to swim? Take a guess.....

Video Games
  • Strangely reversed in Fallout 3. You'd think the Lone Wanderer, who has spent his/her entire life inside an underground vault might need some swimming lessons before trying to cross a large body of water with no nearby bridge....

  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City: A city with water on all sides, and yet not one person in Vice City, including paramedics, police and special forces, can swim.
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • June 12, 2012
    Arivne
    "Sounds like a line of dialog" titles are forbidden as per Naming A Trope.
  • June 12, 2012
    Damr1990
    if we can expand the concept beyond Super Drowning skills on the Beach/Ocean/Ship Level, what about something like Illiterate On A Library , it indicates that the character lacks a skill on a place where said skill is crutial to do anything (but may a little big to vague or Pot Hole-ish, i have to admit)
  • June 12, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Truth In Television: Traditionally, an inuit wouldn't learn how to swim despite being a coastal people. A lot of European sailors didn't know how to swim, either.

    Maybe expand this to what Damr was suggesting. I'd suggest "Illiterate Librarian" for a name.

    And fix/remove that Assassin's Creed 2 example, it looks like it's Super Drowning Skills.
  • June 12, 2012
    TheHandle
    Could expand it to Conspicuous Lack Of A Specific Skill in general... this name sucks. Played straight in the case of sailors: they don't learn to swim so that, were they to sink, they'd die a quick death.
  • June 12, 2012
    lazarus73
    Film

    • Sheriff Brody in Jaws, who hates the water but took a job on an island.
  • June 12, 2012
    Astaroth
    When two of the naval guards in Port Royale confess to not being able to swim in Pirates Of The Caribbean, Jack sarcastically describes them as the pride of the King's Navy.
  • June 12, 2012
    Sligh
    The title is perfect as it is and does not really sounds like dialog.

    Real Life Example: Most real life pirates and sailors from the so called "Discovery Age".
  • June 12, 2012
    Koveras
    • A staple in One Piece: it's a story about naval piracy, but pretty much all powerful characters (including the protagonist) cannot swim or even float due to having traded that ability for superpowers.
  • June 12, 2012
    qe2eqe
    Extremely Conspicuous in the film, Mr. Nobody
  • June 12, 2012
    TravisTee
    The previous title was "I need my floaties", but i was told it sounded like a line of dialog, so i changed it. Just a small clarification.
  • June 12, 2012
    JoeG
    • The Pirates Of Penzance: The Major General's song is all about how he possesses all sorts of esoteric knowledge about everything except warfare.
  • June 12, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    This is lampshaded in The Alchemyst with the two twins. They're not exactly illiterate, but they don't care much about books. Nick Flamel hires them for this very reason, so they won't get distracted and start reading the product.
  • June 12, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Is this about lacking the skill, or hating the job? I see examples of both above.

    Anyway, for the latter, there's:

    In Monty Pythons Flying Circus: "I didn't wanna be a barber anyway..."

    And the whale biologist in Futurama's 300 Big Boys, who hates whales. (Thinks they're snotty.)

    For the former:

    Zoidberg in Futurama is a doctor specializing in human biology, who doesn't know a thing about it, generally assuming they have sea-creature parts.
  • June 13, 2012
    Frank75
    Lacking the skills. Though hating the job is just as big a demotivator.

    In case of the Inuit: Justified because it's too damn cold up there!
  • June 13, 2012
    chimel23
    Giles was temporarily this in Buffy The Vampire Slayer 'Nightmares'...he often had nightmares about being unable to read,and the phlebotinum in the ep that was making everyone's dreams come true rendered him illiterate. Not sure if it counts.
  • June 17, 2012
    Damr1990
    would Modern Major General be related?
  • June 18, 2012
    reub2000
    • On Scrubs Ted is the hospital's lawyer. He is however very incompetent, mixing up mitigation and litigation and not knowing what a tort is. At one point he is even taking legal advice from the Janitor.
  • June 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: Dr. Nick Riviera, the cut-rate surgeon. When Homer goes to him for an operation, then he starts to learn how to do it.
  • June 18, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^That's probably the least of his inadequacies, but yeah.
  • June 18, 2012
    TonyG
    • The polar bears Muk and Luk in Balto are shunned by the other bears because they don't know how to swim. Eventually, they learn.
    • Futurama: "Please, Fry. I don't know how to teach, I'm a professor!"
    • Sponge Bob Square Pants once pretended to be a lifeguard for the perks, until he learns that it's part of the job to save lives. Turns out he doesn't know how to swim. (And yes, we're aware that he lives underwater, but remember that the show takes place in a world where Water Is Air, and Rule Of Funny is in full effect.)
  • June 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    the name seems overly specific. This is likely to get underuse (because people think it only applies to librarians) and misuse (because people think it has something to do with libraries). I think something more generic would be better, like Incompetent Professional or Bad At His Job or Zero Qualifications.
  • June 20, 2012
    Aquila89
    As far as I understand, this isn't just about somebody bad at his/her job, but literally incapable of doing it, because of the lack of a skill; like a cabbie who can't drive. So, Ted from Scrubs or Dr. Nick arent't examples; they're just incompetent.
  • June 20, 2012
    reub2000
    In the first half of the series, Ted is incapable of doing his job. How are you supposed to defend against litigation when you don't know what litigation is?
  • June 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    Hmm, the new title is an improvement, but it makes me think of tropes like Handicapped Badass or Genius Cripple, which is sort of the opposite of what's desired, I think.
  • June 23, 2012
    Aquila89
    Just not knowing enough about a subject isn't the same as lacking a skill.
  • June 23, 2012
    Psi001
    • In the Pokemon anime, Team Rocket's Meowth has spent so much time learning to walk and talk like a human, he has lost out on learning his species' key abilities such as Pay Day and is fairly weak in skills. This naturally gives him a huge disadvantage the odd time he is made to battle.
  • June 23, 2012
    CobraPrime
    Most of the current examples seem like Super Drowning Skills
  • June 23, 2012
    StevotheHuman
    Please point out that this is an inversion of Bunny Ears Lawyer.
  • June 26, 2012
    Aquila89
    In Unforgiven there's The Schofield Kid, who's a wannabe gunslinger, despite seeing eyesight so bad that he can't see farther than 50 yards.
  • June 27, 2012
    GeminiSparkSP
    Nick, being a pianist, doesn't exactly know how to play a piano.
  • July 3, 2012
    abk0100

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable