The Alleged Expert YKTTW Discussion

The Alleged Expert
Someone hired for a job can't do it, or can't do it properly.
Needs Examples Already have? Description Needs Help Up For Grabs
(permanent link) added: 2012-08-06 16:54:27 sponsor: Whitewings edited by: Antigone3 (last reply: 2014-08-11 09:24:58)

Add Tag:
Normally, it's seen as a good idea to get someone skilled to perform a job. If your car or house needs repair and you don't have those skills, Step One is a phone call to a repairman.

But sometimes the person you hire isn't as skilled as you'd expect a professional to be. The carpenter putting in your deck doesn't bother to make it level. The mechanic working on your car decides he doesn't need the correct part, he can make something in his shop "fit". No matter what the specific job, the one thing characters who fall under this trope have in common is that they can't do the job they were hired for. This character might be a Con Man, or he might have a higher regard for his "skills" than anyone else does.

Distinct from Doom It Yourself and D.I.Y. Disaster in that those tropes involve amateurs attempting tasks in which they are untrained, and this trope applies to people who are (supposedly) trained and (purportedly) do for a living. Can sometimes be caught via Spot the Imposter.

Shares the same general competence level as The World's Expert on Getting Killed. The main difference is that the Alleged Expert usually gets fired or sued, not killed. If the job involves operating a vehicle, this can overlap with Captain Crash.

No Real Life Examples, Please!. These people (and companies) do exist, and it's a good idea to check references before hiring someone — let's leave it at that.


Comic Books
  • Les Tuniques Bleues has a former Southerner who moved to Canada to mine gold bequeath his fortune to the South, with our heroes sent to stop him. They also hire a coureur des bois to guide them, and every time Chesterfield cites a Memetic Badass-level fact about them, the guy proves him wrong (falling flat on his face every few feet, giving them fleas, leaving clothes on anthills to get rid of parasites and getting them back full of ants). When they finally reach the prospector's cabin, they find the Southern delegation... who it turned out hired the guide's equally-inept brother. The prospector dies of laughter after explaining the guides had only just gotten out of the forest from that cabin after several months (a few days' trip), and it turned out he'd only ever mined a few ounces of gold.

  • A brief gag in the live-action Casper film has the baddies hire Ray Stanz from Ghostbusters to remove the ghosts, but he is unable to do it.
    Stanz: Who you gonna call? Someone else!
  • Spence in Ronin is supposedly an ex-SAS trooper turned mercenary brought in to provide firepower for the team. In the first firefight, he is quickly exposed as a fraud and dismissed from the team.
  • Subverted in My Cousin Vinny. The Public Defender assigned to the case turns out to be the "bumbling professional," and should have caused the judge to call for a more experienced lawyer; meanwhile Vinny wins the case despite never having worked as a lawyer.
  • A staple of The Three Stooges shorts.
  • The contractors from The Money Pit are a subversion. Despite their slapdash approach and colourful personalities, they do manage to do a good job of more or less rebuilding the eponymous Pit.
  • Killer Elite has a downplayed example. Hunter is still a dangerous Badass Grandpa but due to his age and lack of resources he is no longer capable of pulling off the assassinations he was hired to do.
  • The core of the plot of MouseHunt focuses around 2 brothers who inherit an old house, but try everything they can think of to get rid of a little pesky mouse. Eventually they have to hire Caesar, a professional exterminator who NEVER gives up until the job is finished, even if his methods are more than a tad crazy. After using everything in his arsenal and every trick in the book, even he's not able to get rid of the mouse.
  • Played for Drama in Munich. One of the team members is supposed to be a bomb maker, but every device he builds is faulty in some way. Eventually, he reveals that he was actually trained as a bomb defuser, and only agreed to try his hand at building them when asked to by Mossad following the Munich attacks.

Live-Action TV
  • Holmes On Homes is all about fixing the aftermath of this.
  • The Monroe brothers on Green Acres are supposedly the best contractors in Hooterville, yet they make an absolute mess of remodeling the Douglases' home. Justified in that before then they were only building chicken coops (which is exactly what they build the very first day on the job).
  • One episode of Series/Reno911 had the Reno sheriff's department bring in an FBI profiler to help them with a case. The profiler, however, turned out to be even more incompetent than the deputies usually are.

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Gilderoy Lockhart was hired as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor due to his track record of defeating magical monsters. It turns out that his only real skill is stealing the credit for those defeated monsters from the wizards who actually did the work.

Video Games
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Fantastic, a technician hired by the NCR to fix the power grid at Helios One, who has absolutely no idea what he's doing.
    • An optional side quest is to fix the grid yourself. If you do, Fantastic will end up with full credit for the work and may (depending on how you did in the quest) be promoted.

Web Comics
  • Belkar was invited to join The Order of the Stick on the grounds that he's a ranger, and Roy assumed that he had some skills as a tracker. Belkar later reveals that he hasn't invested a single point in his track skill, and only took the class because it lets him dual wield knives.

Western Animation
  • In King of the Hill, Hank's house tests positive for mold right before a big homes tour. It turns out the mold inspector is just dragging his feet to squeeze more money out of the insurance company.
  • In the Rocky and Bullwinkle storyline "Rue Brittania", Boris has a job as an exterminator, and is hired by the nephews of the deceased Earl of Krancase (who get Bullwinkle's inheritance if he dies) to exterminate Bullwinkle. After a number of failed attempts, Boris offers to pay them to kill Bullwinkle. When one says that he thought Boris was an expert, Boris says that he is an expert "at not killing moose!"

Replies: 47