Created By: Paycheckgurl on July 18, 2014 Last Edited By: Paycheckgurl on July 28, 2014
Troped

Disposable Intern

An intern is used as a disposable cannon fodder.

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Indexes: I Need an Index by Monday, Friendly Fire Index, This Index Is Expendable, Characters as Device, Death Tropes

"Do you even know the mortality rate of you internship program?! "
- Intern Maureen, Welcome to Night Vale

The Intern is the lowest of the low in the company's command. In fiction land they're often not utilized for much besides getting the boss coffee and are often abused because of their lowly status. Sometimes that abuse is Up to Eleven. And thus they become A Disposable Intern.

When the company needs to test the latest in unstable Rope Bridge technology and there's a choice between sending out a main character or the intern we just met, more often than not the intern is going to bite it. There's No OSHA Compliance after all, and if a nameless intern dies who cares, at least the danger is now known and a main character didn't have to die to show it. Interns are replaceable; main characters, who are more specialist and higher in the ranks, aren't. Don't worry, this horrible negligence will more often than not be Played for Laughs as a different Disposable Intern will sometimes be seen and killed regularly, often to the point of a Running Gag.

Compare Cannon Fodder, New Meat, Red Shirt Reporter, Bad Boss, and C-List Fodder. A Subtrope of Red Shirt.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Fanfic 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In a classic Dilbert strip, the Pointy-Haired Boss is seen carrying a corpse to a skip. He turns to camera (Fourth Wall?) and says "I love hiring these temporary workers! No benefits, no union, no contract, and you can just toss 'em in the dumpster when you're done!"

    Live Action 
  • Played straight and parodied on X-Play. During numerous skits/reviews, the hosts and staff would abuse, torment, and subject the "interns" to various punishments and horrors for the sake of comedy. Some of these "interns" weren't actually interns at all, though, and were actually other staff and producers of the show portraying a character.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman: In one episode a man who had invented a new super-powered pogo stick is demonstrating it outside the theater. Dave has the man pogo stick over a row of interns, since even if he does accidentally hurt one it won't matter. note 

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • In Welcome to Night Vale it's a Running Gag that the interns are sent out to investigate things that are unnatural even by Night Vale's standards and won't live past an episode. The only exceptions are Intern Dana (or her double) who spends her time reporting back from in Night Vale's worst Eldritch Abomination invested locations or flicking in and out of existence with no escape in sight until being elected mayor, Intern Maureen who spent a good deal of time blinking in and out of existence like Dana and main character Cecil himself when he was a teen. Who even then, was implied to have died and been brought back somehow. It's worth noting the official Welcome To Night Vale intern shirts are red.
  • Occasionally crops up in Acquisitions Incorporated, such as when Omin the CEO tries to magically convert their current intern into gold on accounts that they can always hire more.
  • Dinosaur Office has Terry eat the Intern, a young parasaurolophus, every time he appears.

    Western Animation 
  • On Total Drama Island the interns are sent to test the poor quality challenges for safety. They are usually severely injured or die horribly in the process, but the challenge will get a seal of safety anyway. Interestingly, most of the intern designs are based on the prototype designs of the main cast or they're designs based on contest winners.
  • On Archer ISIS interns in Krieger's lab are typically used as test subjects and die horribly as a result.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • July 18, 2014
    Elementis
    This seems rather similar to Red Shirt itself rather than A Sub Trope of Red Shirt
  • July 18, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ The main difference is that typically Red Shirts don't know what being a Red Shirt means. The intern is sent out specifically because they're low on the command scale and because interns in fiction exist to be abused.
  • July 18, 2014
    Elementis
    So it's that the Red Shirt knows that they are a Red Shirt?
  • July 18, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ it's literally when the red shirt is an intern sent in because interns are disposable
  • July 18, 2014
    Elementis
    Oh, okay. This works well for Sub Trope Then.
  • July 18, 2014
    Koveras
    • Occasionally crops up in Acquisitions Incorporated, such as when Omin the CEO tries to magically convert their current intern into gold on accounts that they can always hire more.
  • July 18, 2014
    KingZeal
    • Played straight and parodied on X Play. During numerous skits/reviews, the hosts and staff would abuse, torment, and subject the "interns" to various punishments and horrors for the sake of comedy. Some of these "interns" weren't actually interns at all, though, and were actually other staff and producers of the show portraying a character.
  • July 18, 2014
    henke37
  • July 19, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    So someone discarded this without reason and despite it being a) a day old b) having 6 examples so far and c) the only discussion reaching the conclusion it's a subtrope? Thoughts? Concerns? Input?
  • July 19, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Maybe somebody just did it by accident?
  • July 19, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ it's possible. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some glaring problem I missed.
  • July 19, 2014
    DRCEQ
    This is an interesting trope concept. One the one hand, I do see where this is coming from. A specific subtrope where Interns are Red Shirts and they possibly know it.

    On the other hand, this falls in a pretty solid grey area between Red Shirt and Mauve Shirt (Maybe they'll die, maybe they won't).
  • July 19, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Maroon Shirt then?
  • July 19, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^^, ^ a broader trope that's for any case falls between red and mauve shirt is an interesting idea that someone can try to start another YKTTW for, but I wanted this to specifically be about the tendency for interns specifically to be treated as ridiculously disposable. The only intern tropes we have are The Intern which is about interns being happy Naive Newcomers and You Get Me Coffee which is a Stock Phrase. Would help make the intent clearer if it got a rename to something like Interns Are Disposable? As it stands right now the name is similar to Red Shirt Reporter, which has examples where the reporter is simply abused by on coming traffic signs lifted up by a hurricane, but not necessarily killed (albeit with "not necessarily killed" cases being mostly in the Real Life section).
  • July 20, 2014
    randomsurfer
    The Late Show with David Letterman: In one episode a man who had invented a new super-powered pogo stick is demonstrating it outside the theater. Dave has the man pogo stick over a row of interns, since even if he does accidentally hurt one it won't matter. (However, on close inspection one can see that while the jumper is jumping in a straight line the line of interns is on an angle so the final one(s) won't be hurt even if he doesn't make it.)
  • July 22, 2014
    muddycurve424
    I removed "or" in the description in the line "more or often than not". I hope that's ok
  • July 22, 2014
    TrustyGun
    ^^, Maybe Disposable Intern?
  • July 28, 2014
    AgProv
    Newspaper cartoons; In a classic Dilbert strip, the Pointy-Haired Boss is seen carrying a corpse to a skip. He turns to camera (Fourth Wall?) and says

    I love hiring these temporary workers! No benefits, no union, no contract, and you can just toss 'em in the dumpster when you're done!
  • July 28, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    Launching tonight
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=r0y75m8bpueo17jmb924eowy&trope=DisposableIntern