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Cloudcuckoolander's Minder
"No", the most valuable word in the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder's vocabulary.

I won't pretend I don't remember how unusual we were.
The little mystic, and his handler. All some children do is work.
Dessa, Children's Work

Bob is a bit off. He might be a helpful member of The Team, but his habit of breaking into song and dance, or his obsession with rulers, or insisting that he carry a carrot of no less than 6.12 millimeters (and no longer) in length at all times, or saluting whenever the air temperature drops below... you get the idea. Put simply, he's hard to understand, talk to, or otherwise work with for everyone except his (long suffering, but inexplicably loyal) friend Alice.

This trope is about someone who has the task (be it as a friend or their actual job) of keeping an eye on the resident Cloudcuckoolander, Fish out of Water or other strange person. They might be a close friend, relative, hired bodyguard or nanny or even just a plain old servant. As long as they accompany someone who's a bit crazy and try to prevent things getting out of hand, they're this trope.

Services this tour guide can provide include:

Of course, since there needs to be a plot (or at least some gags), Failure Is the Only Option. If the person in question is dependent, then this is The Caretaker. Expect their roles to be reversed at least once.

Related tropes include Straight Man, Beleaguered Assistant, Nerd Nanny, Battle Butler, Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl, Old Retainer, Only Sane Man, Only Sane Employee, The Caretaker (who looks after someone who wouldn't look after themselves), Living Emotional Crutch, Translator Buddy (a friend who translates for him), The Reliable One, and The Friend Nobody Likes (if watching over that person is a chore).

Examples

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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Bleach Ise Nanao is in charge of a) getting Captain Kyouraku off his ass, because otherwise he'd be completely drunk all instead of just most of the time, and b) keeping her division from falling into (more) chaos.
    • It's implied that Lisa, his lieutenant before Ise, had a similar task keeping him in line, although she seemed to do it in a slightly different manner.
  • In Azumanga Daioh Chiyo-chan is one of these to Osaka. Particularly amusing since the former is much younger than the latter.
    • Yomi could be considered one to Tomo, though Tomo isn't quite as loopy as Osaka and Yomi is just as likely to let Tomo get herself into trouble as she is to hold her back.
  • Aoi to Hayana in Twinkle Saber Nova.
  • In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class Mizubuchi is this to the art club president Awara. She even lampshaded it once, noting that she has a friend who she always needs to take care of.
  • A much more serious version shows up in Berserk with main female lead Casca. The horrific events of the Eclipse left her mute, amnesiac, and with the mentality of a small child, and she has to be watched at all times to prevent her from wandering off and/or getting into trouble. Farnese is currently her primary caretaker.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler Sharna Alamgir was, according to the mangaka, created to play the Straight Man to Fumi Hibino's goofball character and basically exists to provide snappy comebacks. It must be a bit hard for her, since she is a foreign exchange student herself.
  • Even if Haruhi Suzumiya hadn't been a Reality Warper Kyon's life would have been a lot easier if he hadn't met the titular character to begin with. But instead he allowed himself to be forced into her self created club to search for aliens, time travelers, ESPers etc. and keep her entertained.
  • Cecile Croomy, the Beleaguered Assistant to Lloyd Asplund in Code Geass, also serves as his minder in all things professional and social, since he has no interest in doing so himself, preferring his Humongous Mecha.
  • At least part of Kenren's job in Saiyuki Gaiden is to make sure Tenpou can function in the real world and not get buried under mess, though it is a voluntary aspect of it.
  • Tooru to Run in A Channel. Nagi and Yuuko also cover for when Tooru can't be there, such as during class.
  • Sorata to Mashiro in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, the latter being an Idiot Savant. When she lived in Britain, it was Rita who acted this role towards Mashiro. In-universe, they refer to it as "Mashiro Duty"
  • In Kill Me Baby Sonya is this to her classmate Yasuna Oribe, who's always coming up with new (and stupid) ideas. The problem being that Sonya also happens to be a short tempered, violent assassin...
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, it's often left to poor Germany to look after the other members of the titular Axis powers. His hands are usually full with whatever idiocy Italy has gotten into, but he also does his best to get Japan into shape to face off against the Allies. China tries to be this for his many siblings, but he ends up treating them as children so they don't take it kindly (except for South Korea which is just...weird).
  • In One Piece, the main job of the Straw Hats (particularly Sanji, Nami, and Usopp) seems to be acting as this for the rest of the crew (mainly their captain Monkey D. Luffy).
  • To some extent, Tsubaki to BlackStar and Liz to Death the Kid in Soul Eater.
  • In A Cruel God Reigns, Pascal often ends up being this for Marjorie, as he is the one that she lives with mixed with the fact that he is her older cousin. Nadia sometimes also fills this role.
  • In the Tenchi Muyo! series where she exists, Kiyone Makibi is this for Mihoshi Kuramitsu.
  • Free!: Though Haruka is much more quiet and solitary than most cloud cuckoo landers, his lack of common sense when it comes to water and the way Makoto tries to take care of him definitely puts them into this sort of relationship.

    Comics 
  • In Transmetropolitan the Filthy Assistants - Channon Yarrow, an ex-stripper-nun turned bodyguard, and Yelena Rossini, a chain smoking would-be writer - are this to gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem. Yes, they really are the sane ones.
  • In The Sandman Barnabas the Dog is assigned by Destruction to accompany and watch over his sister, Delirium (her name says it all).
  • In ElfQuest: Jink, Kullyn Kenn gets assigned to alien envoy Firstborn Newbreed, who (initially) sees nothing wrong with telling humans to their faces how ugly they are, for example.
  • Rob and Satchel take turns acting as this to Bucky in Get Fuzzy, although Satchel is a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander himself.
  • Bob, Deadpool's CIA handler in Deadpool MAX. In addition to doing the parts of the job Deadpool is too insane to do and keeping Deadpool focused on the mission, Bob is essentially the only reason Deadpool is willing to do the job in the first place. In this continuity, Hydra is a figment of Deadpool's psychosis. Part of Bob's job is to exploit this by maintaining the facade that he's a former Hydra agent and the targets selected for Deadpool to assassinate are all high-ranking Hydra operatives.
    • Then there is Cable, who often serves as Deadpool's minder in the regular continuity.
  • Peanuts has Marcie for Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown for Snoopy ("Why can't I have a normal dog like everybody else?")
  • Brainy Smurf from The Smurfs is this to practically all of the other smurfs, who usually ignore him at best or get frustrated with him at worst. Unfortunately some of them could have saved themselves a lot of trouble, if they had actually listened to him...

    Film 
  • Ben Stiller's Steve Arlo is explicitly stated to perform this role for Bill Pullman's Daryl Zero in Zero Effect.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, there's the case of Cotton. He got his tongue cut off, so he taught the parrot to speak for him...Subverted because the parrot only speaks nonsense, but double subverted because the rest of the crew understand the bird pretty well...or think they do.
    • The rest of the cast take turns minding Jack Sparrow to various degrees of success.
  • Captain Thompson in The Cockleshell Heroes.

    Literature 
  • Dr. Watson acts as one of these to the eccentric and blunt Sherlock Holmes.
  • Rincewind is assigned this role (as a literal tour guide) for Twoflower in the Discworld series.
    • In his first appearance, the Unseen University Bursar was this to Boisterous Bruiser Archchancellor Ridcully. Later on, he went quite mad himself, and now Ponder Stibbons plays this role.
  • Beetee appears to serve as this to Wiress in Catching Fire.
    • From the same series, Finnick Odair could count as this to Annie.
  • Tortall Universe
    • The Immortals Daine needs to watch Numair, (despite his being the most powerful mage in Tortall).
    • Daughter of the Lioness: Nawat needs Aly to explain the inexplicable to him (like why breeding with her isn't a quick way to more warriors).
    • In the short stories, Qiom needs Fadal (well, Fadala) to do the same, what with his being a former tree. It's even worse with Qiom, as some of the instinctive things an animal would do don't come naturally to him. His Minder needs to make sure he doesn't burn himself eating food too soon, or getting hauled up at the local temple for something equally (but obviously more disastrously) stupid.
  • The whole premise of Of Mice and Men revolves around Lennie and George as (mentally handicapped) Cloudcuckoolander and minder, respectively. While Lennie's quirks land them both in hot water and drive long-suffering George up the wall, George cares deeply about Lennie and ends up shooting him dead rather than let him die at the hands of a lynch mob.
  • Jeeves to Bertie in Jeeves and Wooster. His mission in life is to make sure that the young master stays unmarried and out of trouble and doesn't leave the house wearing anything too ridiculous. For all his oddities, however, Bertie is fond of "the quiet life", and if anyone's the king of Zany Schemes, it's Jeeves. Bertie also sometimes plays this role for his crazier friends, Bingo Little in particular.
  • In Harry Potter, Ginny sometimes ends up as this for Luna - notably during Luna's first appearance, where Ginny convinces everyone that Luna's okay, just rather odd. Fits in, as Ginny was Luna's pretty much Only Friend.

     Live Action Television 
  • In Fringe Peter, Olivia, and Astrid are this to Walter.
  • As befits their status as expies to Watson and Holmes, Dr. Wilson generally serves as this to Dr. House. Dr. Cuddy also served as one of these until leaving the show for the final season.
  • Sometimes, on Doctor Who, the companions are dragged into taking care of the Doctor! Generally restricted to Four and Eleven though.
    • In the Made-for-TV Movie in which Eight appeared, his companion actually tried to dispense with all this rubbish and have him put in the psych ward (mostly because he tried to tell her about the imminent The End of the World as We Know It, although acting like a lunatic probably didn't help his credibility any). She also explained away his odd behavior to strangers as a result of his being British.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Penny and Leonard often are this to Sheldon Cooper.
  • The title character of the TV show Monk, who suffers from OCD, employs a helpful companion (Sharona in early seasons, then Natalie). She hands out sanitizing wipes, does all manner of dirty work, explains his odd mannerisms to others, and generally runs interference between him and the world.
  • In Firefly, Simon serves as River's minder, as well as her emotional crutch and protector.
  • In Glee, Santana sometimes functions as this for Brittany early on, but it's increasingly revealed that Brittany's actually mostly capable of taking care of herself, and their relationship becomes more equal over time.
  • On Father Ted, Ted had to try and keep a handle on Dougal, who had a sort of unique interpretation of reality.
    Ted: (holding plastic toy cows) These are small. But the ones out there are far away.
  • On Leverage, Sophie often serves as a minder for Parker, usually by giving her advice on how to survive in social situations and act like a normal person while trying to pull off a con.
    • Although all the team members become Cloudcuckoolander minders for Parker at one point or another.
  • Turk occasionally serves as this to JD on Scrubs.
  • The whole gang is this to Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, especially Ted.
  • John to Sherlock on Sherlock, even more so than the original Watson. He spends a lot of time apologizing for Sherlock or translating his behavior.
    Sherlock: (Accepting present from client, without unwrapping it) Diamond cuff-links. All my cuffs have buttons.
    John: (To client) He means: "thank you."
    • An even better example was when Sherlock launches himself into investigating the kidnapping of two children with his classic enthusiasm for harrowing mysteries:
    John: Having fun?
    Sherlock: (Grinning) Starting to.
    John: Maybe not do the smiling thing: kidnapped children?
    Sherlock: (Composing his face into an appropriately serious expression) Hm.
  • Every main character in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has taken this role towards another main character and vice versa, with resident full-time Cloudcuckoolander Charlie being the most common recipient.
  • Community plays with this a lot, generally surrounding Abed. The group often has to help him, notable examples being Jeff promising to help him understand people, Annie explaining empathy, and Troy helping him function day to day. But seeing as Abed is Dangerously Genre Savvy and they are in a tv show, often the group needs him to explain or fix things for them.
  • In Supernatural, Meg becomes this to Castiel after he absorbs Sam's psychosis towards the end of season 7.
  • Bones herself is a brilliant scientist, but finds social situations difficult and confusing (although it should be noted that her social skills do get somewhat better over time), so Booth often ends up in the role of her guide to the world outside the lab. Especially in the early seasons, he often interrupted her to prevent her from saying something too scientific or brutally honest to a witness or a victim's loved one.
    • This role could also go to Angela or Cam, who were both generally closer to earth than the other Jeffersonian staff.
  • Steve is this for Jeff on Coupling.
  • Friends: Chandler is this to the child-like Joey.
  • Following in the great Watson tradition, Joan Watson on Elementary. It is, literally, her job as a sober companion to rein in Sherlock's self-destructive tendencies. Even when she quits her job to become Sherlock's assistant/apprentice, she still keeps the role.
  • On The X-Files, Scully acts as this to Mulder after being assigned to debunk his work. It's a twist on the arrangement, however, since Mulder is not a Cloudcuckoolander in the traditional sense. While he does believe in what he's telling superiors or local law enforcement, his reaction to their negativity is to act like he's nuts. He knows darn well nobody will believe him and that there are more tactful ways to get his ideas across, he just doesn't care. There are times where Scully calls him on it, but she still continues to work damage control so he (and by extension, she) doesn't get fired.
  • Dani Reese is this for her parter Charlie Crews in Life.
  • In Storage Wars, Brandi seems to be this to Jarrod.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Ork Weirdboyz, the psychically receptive members of the Orkoid species whose barely-understood innate psychic powers make them, as the name suggests, a bit weird. By Orkish standards anyway, since they usually prefer to run away from the heavy fighting that makes their brain hurt rather than towards it as a sane ork would. As such they are usually accompanied at all times by two or more "minderz", unimaginative, no-nonsense ork thugs whose job it is to keep the weirdboy from doing anything too outrageous or running away when his mind blasts are needed in battle. This was the case for the tabletop game up until the 3rd edition, where the minders were represented with models and effectively fired the weirdboy like a living weapon. In the current rules the weirdboy has been safely escorted to the battlefield already, and the build-up of psychic energy has sent him crazy enough that he has given his minderz the slip and started to bounce around unpredictably on his own.
    • There is also the Necron commander Nemessor Zandrekh, and his long-suffering aide-de-camp and enforcer Vargard Obyron. Zandrekh is a consummate tactical genius who was instrumental in promoting his dynasty's fortunes during the ancient Necron civil wars. Unfortunately his cognitive processing circuits were damaged during his long hibernation into modern times, and while his genius is undimmed he can't tell the difference between the present and the past anymore, believing he's still fighting the civil wars against rival dynasties whatever new enemy he comes up against. Obyron, on the other hand, is perfectly aware of the situation, but as an indentured subordinate he was programmed for absolute loyalty to Zandrekh and so has to make the best of things and sort out any anomalies caused by Zandrekh's delusions. Usually this involves making sure that "honoured prisoners" kept alive by Zandrekh according to ancient rules of engagement are conveniently disposed of via "little accidents" or "while they were trying to escape".

     Video Games 
  • A more serious version appears in The Suffering where there's an Escort Mission (optional, but you'll need to complete it to get the best ending) that involves guiding around a drugged up, traumatised teenager who's so out of it he thinks you're his father.
  • In Fallout 3 you essentially serve as this to Moira Brown when you're doing her (exceptionally long) quest chain to gather data for writing a survival guide. You can even talk her out of pursuing said dream (but only if you're feeling cruel).
  • At least some of the cast of BlazBlue try to keep Taokaka out of trouble when they can (particularly her progenitor Jubei, his student Ragna and Tao's more level headed Cool Big Sis and mentor Torakaka, and occasionally, her 'very good friend' Litchi).
  • Herren from Dragon Age: Origins is one to his boyfriend Wade.
  • In Dragon Age II, Varric serves this role for his older brother Bartrand, who lacks social skills. Later on, he also serves this role for Merrill as she tries to adapt to life in the city.
    • Both examples get played more seriously after Bartrand goes insane from the Lyrium Idol. If spared, Varric is forced to commit his brother to an asylum for the rest of life. To a lesser degree, if Hawke does not romance her, Merrill becomes increasingly obsessed with restoring the Eluvian, to the point where Varric has food delivered to her house since she's stopped going out and forgets to eat.
  • In the beginning of Tales of Symphonia, Genis serves as this for Lloyd. Raine also takes this roll with regard to Collette, to a degree.
  • In Portal 2, this is Caroline's relation to Cave Johnson.
  • Youmu Konpaku from Touhou often acts as this to her mistress Yuyuko Saigyouji. However, it's unknown if Yuyuko is really a Cloudcuckoolander or she just loves messing around. Whenever she's involved in something, Yuyuko is often shown to have figured out everything from the start, while Youmu acts as The Watson.
  • After her Heel-Face Turn Viola tries to be this to the Boss in Saints Row The Third.
  • The Engineer and Pyro, of Team Fortress 2, seem to be fairly close companions in the various comics. Though the Engineer isn't entirely normal himself, the Pyro is... well, the Pyro. Given that the two classes have a complementary playstyle ingame, this is likely intentional.

    Visual Novels 
  • The main characters in the Ace Attorney series tend to be this to their sidekicks (at the very least they occasionally manage to prevent them from doing something stupid).
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Emi Ibarazaki is the one who understands Rin Tezuka's odd trains of thought better. Also, if you make Hisao pick Rin as his girl, he'll fit in here as well. Actually, Hisao is a deconstruction of the trope. In Rin's path, as poor Rin falls into depression and insecurity since her art is becoming popular but she can barely handle the huge attention and pressure on her, Hisao's own emotional stability will be put through the grinder as he attempts to help Rin but he can barely do so. If you pick the wrong options, this will lead to them breaking off their relationship and to the Bad Endings: either Hisao gets fed up with Rin's erratic trains of thought/behavior and breaks up with her after a fight in her atelier, or Rin breaks up with him before she leaves and enrolls in an art school in Tokyo.

    Web Comics 
  • Credenza of Archipelago to Blitz. Apart from having his undying loyalty and friendship, she essentially acts as his caretaker, often telling him to "put down that shiny" and the like. When things get Darker and Edgier, she comforts him when he begins to be tormented with nightmares of his past and forgotten life. He also pines for her when she's not there, goes into a panic attack when she's in danger and essentially devotes himself to her.note 
  • Raizel of Noblesse whenever Frankenstein looses his s**t & summons the Dark Spear.
  • Louise of Miscellaneous Error spends most of her time trying to keep her brother, Jack, from killing himself or anybody else.
  • Lucas and Lilah in Ctrl+Alt+Del both fill this role for Ethan.
  • In Grey is..., White is very much this to Black, especially in the flashbacks to 2 years ago where we see a depressed anorexic Black who is only really happy when White is there to distract him. Even in the present time it is up to White to help keep Black from freaking out when he loses focus and can't remember things or when his boss starts nagging him.
  • Copernicus winds up being this to Fletcher on occasion in Antics. Sometimes.
  • In Scandinavia and the World, Denmark is childish, tactless, accident-prone, and usually drunk, and prone to freak out when left alone or in the presence of nature. It's usually up to Norway to extinguish his hair, placate the person he's offended, or just give him a hug.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Haley Starshine is the one to take this role most often with Elan, both before and after they're in a relationship. She knows him well enough to include an "Elan tax" in the shopping budget.
    • It turns out the apple didn't fall so far from the tree, as Elan's evil father's teammates occasionally act as this for him, especially Malack. Tarquin is dangerously competent when he's on his game, but is also a story-obsessed narcissist who'll go to absurd lengths to control "his" narrative. According to the author, it's no coincidence Tarquin gets more and more unhinged following Malack's demise.
  • In Blood Stain, Serge acts as this for Absent-Minded Professor Dr. Vladimir Stein.
  • Megatokyo: Piro is this to Largo, translating his l33t sp34k when necessary and trying to rein him in from trouble. Lately, however, Erika has been taking over the job—when she's not just running with the madness.

    Web Original 
  • Apollo believes he is this to Thalia in Thalia's Musings. Thalia disagrees.
    • Apollo's been appointed official caretaker of the Muses, so technically he's this to all of them. It's just that Thalia causes the most trouble.
  • Church could be seen as this to Caboose in Red vs. Blue. He's entered Caboose's mind a few times, and also seems to be the only one who knows how to get results from Caboose, either through manipulation or genuinely getting through to him.
  • Being the only person who gives him any change, The Nostalgia Critic has basically put himself in charge in Chester. Seeing as how Critic isn't all there either, this can cause problems.
  • Agents Of Cracked has Dan hired to be this to Michael, an Idiot Savant who is completely insane and is implied to have caused the deaths of his last eight partners, but keeps his job because his articles (even if he writes them five minutes before publishing while asleep) are popular. Subverted in that Dan has no ability to keep Michael under control, as he just does what he wants anyway, and Dan undergoes considerable Sanity Slippage himself as a result.
  • In RWBY, Lie Ren minds Nora Valkyrie, curbing her hyper tendencies and reminding her to focus on work. It's implied that he's been doing this since they were children.
  • Achievement Hunter's Michael and Geoff mind Gavin. This happens more so during videos than in real life, although it has been known to happen in their day-to-day lives, as well.

     Western Animation 
  • Leela is this to Fry (being his boss) for the first few episodes of Futurama. After that, he adapts and stops being a Fish Out of Temporal Water, though she still takes on this role from time to time.
    Leela: As I've said before, objects in the future are still just objects, not living things that seem like objects.
    Fry: So my attempts to establish diplomatic relations with the Cactus People were doomed from the start.
    • The Planet Express crew frequently plays this role in regards to Professor Farnsworth. Left to his own devices, he probably would have destroyed the Earth, or worse.
  • Nani is this to Lilo in Lilo & Stitch. When Social Services threatens to separate them, she explains that she's the only one who can understand Lilo's actions.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Bugs is this to Daffy, and potentially to Lola too.
  • Regular Show: Especially earlier on, Benson acts as this for Pops, translating his flowery language and reminding him that you pay for things with money, not lollipops.
  • Ed Eddn Eddy: Edd is this to both Ed and Eddy. Well, at least he tries.
  • Sharon Marsh is pretty straightforward when it comes to her husband Randy's Cloud Cuckoolandings in South Park, with Stan often sharing this role.
  • While most of the main characters from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic play this role for Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle is her more prominent foil. Applejack is the next, by way of being Team Mom.
  • On Young Justice, Klarion has Teekl. Teekl is a cat.
    Klarion: This isn't T. O. Morrow!
    Sportsmaster: Klarion, this is Professor Ivo.
    Klarion: I didn't order this! Send it back!
    Teekl: (purrs)
    Klarion: Morrow's in a coma? Did I already know that?
  • On Archer Lana is this to resident cuckoolander (and possible undiagnosed autistic) Sterling Archer, which she realizes to her horror in Coyote Lovely:
    Malory: ...But now I'm stuck with cat-puke green [carpeting] because you couldn't control Sterling!
    Lana: Since when is babysitting Archer my j—Oh, my God that's exactly my job.
  • This is Mulch's job on Dragons: Riders of Berk - keeping an eye on his brain-damaged friend Bucket.
  • Tommy Anybody serves as this to Mr. Bogus.
  • On Gravity Falls, Dipper is a mild example for his twin sister, Mabel. He usually has to keep her from getting too distracted, but she's mostly capable of functioning without him, and she spends just as much time pointing out his own flaws.
  • As seen in Total Drama Island and Total Drama World Tour, this is Noah for Owen and Izzy, the campers most likely to get themselves into trouble due to their skewed mindset (though more Izzy than Owen) and, ironically, the ones he is closest to and always supporting.
  • Sylvia of Wander Over Yonder is this for Wander.
  • Disney's Winnie the Pooh cartoons usually have Rabbit in this role.

     Real Life 
  • James Hutton, the geologist responsible for putting forward an important aspect of plate tectonics, was known for having very strange speech patterns. When he died, a friend of his (who knew what he was on about) rephrased things for him.
  • Truth in Television for many a historical Insufferable Genius. Usually a role taken up by a significant other.
  • It is not uncommon for exceptionally driven but socially lacking students in scientific fields to pair up with a mediocre but socially-apt student for part or all of their studies in order to make group assignments bearable.
  • The late Wesley Willis had quite a few of these over the years, but Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins are the most well-known.


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