Created By: Whitewings on August 6, 2012 Last Edited By: Antigone3 on August 11, 2014
Troped

The Alleged Expert

Someone hired for a job can\'t do it, or can\'t do it properly.

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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.

Examples

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.

Film
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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!"

Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • August 6, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Real Life examples abound

    • The RinkWorks Computer Stupidities page has a section for "Stupid Salemen" and "Stupid Tech Support" for a reason.
    • In a Calgary school, someone was giving a clinic on instrument maintenance and was brought a tuba with a stuck mouthpiece. The clinician took a pair of pliers and tried to twist the mouthpiece out, resulting in the leadpipe being torn apart, which required a fairly expensive repair.
      • Don't include this in the above example I know this because I fixed that tuba. I wish I had pictures.
  • August 6, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • 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!
    • A popular Youtube video has an undercover cop showing a Glock pistol to a class of students. Just as he says "I'm the only one in this room professional enough to carry this" he shoots himself in the foot - literally and figuratively. Then he continues with his presentation.
  • August 7, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • In King Of The Hill: Hank's house tests positive for mold right before a big homes tour, but it turns out the mold inspector is just dragging his feet to squeeze more money out of the insurance company.
  • August 7, 2012
    CrankyStorming
    I'm going to suggest No Real Life Examples Please since it would be open to abuse.
  • August 8, 2012
    Whitewings
    Agreed.
  • August 8, 2012
    surgoshan
    • My Cousin Vinny: He's a lawyer who graduated from law school (Brooklyn Academy of Law) and spent six years failing the bar, and has never tried a case. Now he's working a murder trial!
  • August 12, 2012
    Whitewings
    bump
  • August 15, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Sometimes the alleged professional is actually a scam artist.
  • August 15, 2012
    StrikingViking
    Call this "Who Needs Alices List?"
    • The My Cousin Vinny example is an aversion to this, since 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. In fact there should be a trope for newbs who just pop in and outshine experienced professionals.
  • August 22, 2012
    Whitewings
    • 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.
  • October 11, 2012
    Whitewings
    bump
  • October 11, 2012
    NimmerStill
    The My Cousin Vinny case is a Subversion, not an Aversion, since he sure looks incompetent for a while and still is in some ways.

    The Kenneth Brannagh character in Harry Potter 2 is an example. I forget the names right now.
  • October 11, 2012
    lilliterra
    That's Gilderoy Lockharte. He was hired as the defense against the Dark Arts teacher, and yet he can hardly deal with Cornish Pixies. He even vanishes all the bones in Harry's arm on accident.
  • October 12, 2012
    Ridderres
    And the main character of Shopaholic. A shopaholic who has to give financial advise. Not the best person for that job. Same goes for another work of Sophie Kinsella, The Undomestic Goddess. A big-time lawyer who doesn't know a thing about housework gets hired as maid.
  • October 12, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Often can overlap with Spot The Impostor, as it did in the film Ronin, where Spence was exposed as a fraud.
  • July 11, 2014
    MrInitialMan
    Bump
  • July 11, 2014
    Astaroth
    • 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.
  • July 11, 2014
    bitemytail

  • July 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Contrast Con Artist
  • July 11, 2014
    Koveras
    • Played For Laughs in the online sketch "The Expert": faced with a roomful of Pointy Haired Bosses, the only actual expert must choose between being an actual professional and coming across as this trope to the client or pretending to be the kind of "professional" (i.e. a submissive yes-man) they want to see.
  • July 12, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Bringing In The Expert ykttw.
  • July 12, 2014
    foxley
    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.
  • July 12, 2014
    Nazetrime
  • July 12, 2014
    Antigone3
    I disagree on Canadas Worst Handyman being an example — I haven't seen much of the show, but the episodes I've seen none of the contestants were professional handymen.

    Is this still live?
  • July 12, 2014
    Astaroth
    ^ It's been bumped from two years ago, I think that makes it Up For Grabs
  • July 12, 2014
    Chabal2
    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.
  • July 12, 2014
    TonyG
    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).
  • July 12, 2014
    mew4ever23
    Not certain if this really fits the trope, but Holmes On Homes is all about fixing the aftermath of this trope.

    Also, the performances of some contestants on Hells Kitchen kinda make you wonder how their culinary career going.
  • July 17, 2014
    MrInitialMan
    Holmes On Homes would fit, yes.
  • July 17, 2014
    DAN004
    May be justified if they're Con Men.

    Compare The Worlds Expert On Getting Killed
  • July 17, 2014
    nielas
    • 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.
  • July 17, 2014
    Antigone3
    I'll finish pulling examples over tomorrow.
  • July 17, 2014
    DRCEQ
    • The core of the plot of Mouse Hunt 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 finishedm, 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.
  • July 17, 2014
    SpiderRider3
    How about changing the title to The Alleged Expert? Professional merely indicates someone earns their income from doing something and says nothing about how good at it they are. If someone was terrible at something but still managed to get paid doing it, they would technically still be a professional, not just alleged.
  • July 18, 2014
    ropertroper

    Western Animation:
    • In the Rocky And Bullwinkle'' storyline "Rue Britania", 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!"
  • July 18, 2014
    Antigone3
    Good point, Spider Rider — title changed.

    Is the Harry Potter example from the books, or created for the movie? (With the character identified by the actor's name, I wasn't sure.)
  • July 18, 2014
    Elementis
    Video Games
  • July 18, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    I think the Harry Potter reference is supposed to be about Gilderoy Lockhart: a Con Man who goes around stealing the credit of people who have defeated dangerous magical beasts, but is terrible at every spell other than the Memory Charm.
  • August 6, 2014
    Antigone3
    Bump
  • August 6, 2014
    DAN004
  • August 7, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Would this also be related to Captain Crash?
  • August 7, 2014
    Psychopompos007
    About the Fallout New Vegas example, I think it's worth mentioning that, if you manage to redirect the station's full power to New Vegas' Strip, Fantastic will manage to gain full credit for you doing the job for which he has been hired.
  • August 7, 2014
    Antigone3
    ^ I'm guessing fixing the station is a quest in that game?
  • August 7, 2014
    Psychopompos007
    It is (an optional one): http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/That_Lucky_Old_Sun

    Also, depending on how you ended this quest, if you side with NCR you'll see that Fantastic has been promoted as a high-ranking engineer in Hoover Dam.

    When you meet him in Helios One, if you tell him that he obviously doesn't know what he's doing, he answers this: "No, man. I know exactly what I'm doing. I just don't know what effect it's going to have. Over there controls power in this building. That station has readouts on the computer network. That big knob there makes a crazy noise. Sparks come out of that slot if you put stuff in it. And I'm learning more every day."

    (NCR = New California Republic, one of the major factions in the game)
  • August 7, 2014
    KevinKlawitter
    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.
  • August 10, 2014
    Antigone3
    Launching in a day or so.

    I'm thinking Index Failure, can anyone think of another index this should be on?
  • August 10, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Live Action TV
    • One episode of Reno 911 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.
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