Created By: StevenT on May 3, 2012 Last Edited By: rcmerod52 on April 24, 2013

Charlie Brown at the Bat

Someone well known as a colossal failure is continually put in charge of tasks by people who should know better.

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Trope
Who is more foolish? The Fool, or the fool who follows him?
-- Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope

When a character is inexplicably put in charge of sensitive tasks contintually by people who know full well they're The Klutz or Too Dumb to Live. Of course, this begs the question, "Who is the real idiot here?"

No Real Life Examples, Please!, for obvious reasons.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • One Bash Street Kids story had someone walk into class and trip over 'Erbert (who's joke is having terrible eyesight). They ask who assigned him as lookout, creating a second example when it turns out to be Smithy.

Newspaper Comics

Western Animation
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: The duo's Hippie Teacher Mr. Van Driesen is way too trusting.
  • 6teen: Jude is often entrusted with important tasks by the rest of the gang. Just one example is when Jonesy asked him to refridgerate some meat for him and just as Jude was about to plug-in the refridgerator he got sidetracked by his girlfriend Starr showing up.
  • In Sonic SatAM, Antoine is sent into missions more than any Freedom Fighter outside Sonic and Sally, despite the fact he is a brainless Dirty Coward that often only screws up plans.
  • How many times has Homer Simpson been put in charge of something, despite his track record?
    • Another Simpsons example: Homer makes a dummy with a bucket for a head, brooms for arms and a tape recorder playing his own voice to distract Mr. Burns from the fact that he's skiving off work. It gets promoted.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • May 3, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Uncle Billy in Its A Wonderful Life. Anyone who would trust him with any amount of money deserves to be put in the padded cell next to him.

  • We don't like trope namers anymore. Also, I feel like we might have this. Maybe Just Eat Gilligan?
  • May 4, 2012
    DracMonster
    This does sound a lot like Just Eat Gilligan.
  • May 4, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    No, Just Eat Gilligan is "the show would be over if just one obvious thing were done", Gilligan getting eaten rather than constantly foiling attempts to get off the island as the trope's example. This is "an incompetent guy is left in charge even though people know better." Might be a sub-trope.
  • May 4, 2012
    fulltimeD
    It's tropeworthy, and I think we should relax about the trope namer problem for this one... It's not an example of a particularly bad trope namer, rather it's a decent one that communicates the essentials.
  • May 4, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Zapp Branagan in Futurama is given command of a starship even tho his is a blithering idiot.
  • May 4, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Worst Boss Choice? Idiots Choose Idiots? Err...

    There's an episode of Father Ted where Mrs Doyle sends Dougal to conduct a funeral service because Ted is out. His Exact Words "YOU LET DOUGAL DO A FUNERAL?" could make a good page quote, although it might not make sense out of context. I mean, you can't really tell tone when you read stuff on the internet...
  • May 4, 2012
    Psi001
    • In Sonic Sat Am, Antoine is sent into missions more than any Freedom Fighter outside Sonic and Sally, despite the fact he is brainless Dirty Coward that often only screws up plans.
  • May 4, 2012
    Dacilriel
    Sounds like Pointy Haired Boss
  • @fulltime: I disagree. Even if we do allow the trope namer, the name still conveys no information to me about the trope, and will especially be confusing for those unfamiliar with the trope namer, which may seem unlikely, but it's possible.

    Looking at that title alone, I would never be able to guess the trope. I may guess that it has something to do with baseball, or characters terrible at sports, or something along that line, but I would never get "character is constantly trusted with something they always fail at."

    For one thing, that specific Charlie Brown example does not fit the trope. For one thing, in baseball, everyone gets a turn to bat. It's not some idiotic move somebody made allowing him to bat. It's in the rules that he has to, and every one just has to suffer through it. For another thing, Charlie Brown's the team manager. He's the one in charge and is certainly not going to deny himself the chance to bat even if he could. Third of all, he's much more known for his terrible pitching than his terrible batting. Not that I'm suggesting that we change it to Charlie Brown Goes To Pitch.

    Ultimately, I think it's better to avoid the trope namer altogether. The character can be known for several things, so using their name may cause some unnecessary confusion. How about Depending On The Undependable, Undeserved Trust, or Idiotic Reliance?
  • May 5, 2012
    NightNymph
    Pointy Haired Boss appears to be for those in authority positions with most examples being actual bosses. The examples here so far are not bosses at all, but people bosses (or others) gave responsibility to even though they should have known better: Tuckerscreator's example above of Uncle Billy from Its A Wonderful Life being a great illustration of this, even though he would not fit at all in Pointy Haired Boss.
  • May 5, 2012
    DracMonster
    Depending On The Undependable, I like that one. Conveys it clearly in a nutshell.

    Charlie Brown At Bat is rather non-obvious until you read the description.
  • May 5, 2012
    Duncan
    Especially since Charlie Brown is best known for his bad pitching skills.
  • May 5, 2012
    SAMAS
    "Who is more foolish? The Fool, or the fool who follows him?"
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, -- A New Hope

    In Peanuts' case, I wonder if Charlie Brown pitches simply because nobody else on the team wants to. In many baseball-themed strips, he's often the only one who shows any enthusiasm for the game.
  • May 5, 2012
    DracMonster
    Well, Lucy at least appears to attend simply to watch him suffer. Wouldn't be surprised if that was the motivation of some of the others.
  • May 5, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    As a non-American, I don't know what the phrase "at the bat" means, or much about Charlie Brown other than he's bad at sports or something? It might be better to focus on the CHOOSING of an incompetent rather than the incompetent person?

    SAMAS' quote suggestion is perfection though.
  • May 5, 2012
    SharleeD
    Worst-Choice Appointee, maybe?
  • May 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    • One Bash Street Kids story had someone walk into class and trip over 'Erbert (who's joke is having terrible eyesight). They ask who assigned him as lookout, creating a second example when it turns out to be Smithy.
  • May 7, 2012
    fulltimeD
  • May 7, 2012
    kenning
    Sister Trope to The Dilbert Principle? The Peter Principle for Mooks? Sounds like one we should get if we don't already have it, though.
  • May 7, 2012
    ScanVisor
    George W Bush, Haha! (No seriously, don't use that.)
  • May 7, 2012
    RedneckRocker
    How many times has Homer Simpson been put in charge of something, despite his track record?
  • May 7, 2012
    nitrokitty
  • May 8, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Redneck Rocker: Homer Simpson being Safety Officer at the Nuclear Plant to begin with?

    There's an episode of The Simpsons where Homer makes a dummy with a bucket for a head, brooms for arms and a tape recorder playing his own voice to distract Mr Burns from the fact that he's skiving off work. It gets promoted.
  • May 8, 2012
    Frank75
    Theoretically, every Pointy Haired Boss has been put in his position by someone, because I can't imagine them to be self-made men.
  • June 22, 2012
    Noah1
  • June 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    This does seem similar to another current YTTKW, Illiterate Librarian.
  • June 22, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Red Dwarf began when Arnold Rimmer, who had failed to progress beyond a minor supervisor's role in fifteen years service, was trusted with overseeing a critical engine repair. The result was the death of everyone on the ship (other than Dave Lister who was in stasis).

  • July 21, 2012
    AgProv
    aaaargh... very tempted to add real world examples from British politics... (Prime Minister preferring a known failure because they happen to be mates)... must resist.... will add

    LITERATURE - the Peter Principle, which states that everyone is promoted to the level at which they become visibly incompetent. A phenomena borne out by big company heirarchies...
  • July 21, 2012
    MyTimingIsOff
  • July 22, 2012
    MorganWick
    Should we decide whether or not to make this No Real Life Examples Please? At the very least, several people have already been tempted to add Complaining About People You Dont Like.
  • July 22, 2012
    Arivne
    Definitely No Real Life Examples Please or it will be abused.
  • July 22, 2012
    Astaroth
    Another Simpsons example: When Homer takes over as coach of Springfield's Youth Football team, he destroys the team's credibility by insisting that Bart plays as Quarterback instead of Nelson. Nelson's a much better player, but Homer wants to play favorites with Bart because he thinks it's good parenting.
  • July 22, 2012
    LancelotG
    People should really stop putting Bertie Wooster in charge of fragile aspects of their lives. They never learn not to, though, because Jeeves always saves the day behind the scenes.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    title suggestion- Let The Butt Monkey Do It?
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
  • April 19, 2013
    Noah1
  • April 19, 2013
    MonaNaito
    I think we need to establish whether or not nepotism counts as this trope, as in the Simpsons example above. If the people who keep choosing the incompetent guy are doing so because they're his relatives, that isn't "inexplicable".
  • April 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    Why Do We Keep Hiring You ?

    Marco of Animorphs has repeatedly demonstrated his unbelievable incompentence at driving motorized vehicles ("Do you hate trash cans? Is that it? DO YOU JUST HATE TRASH CANS?"), and yet as soon as they need to drive, he's in the seat. Lampshaded when Jake justifies it the second time as "he has... experience" (particularly amusing as Jake was the one yelling at him to get off the sidewalk and stop hitting trashcans). However, it is partly justified as he was a gorila during both occasions, and we later find out his mom drives the same way.
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