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Crusty Caretaker
“Willie hears ya, Willie don't care!”

I aM ToRgo. I tAkE CAre of ThE plAce whiLe the MasTeR is aWay.

He - and it is always he - is a caretaker, janitor, groundskeeper, or better yet, gravekeeper, who is crusty, uncouth, or otherwise lacking in people skills.

Popular in horror, because there's a lot of overlap with The Igor, Sycophantic Servant, and The Renfield.

Then, may also be the Old Retainer, in which case he is often the Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Expect the children of the house to love him despite his rough exterior.

His female counterpart is the Creepy Housekeeper.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Commercials  

  • A TV spot for Verizon Wireless has a creepy motel night clerk inform a guest that there's only one room left, and one he probably won't want anyway: "It's a dead zone. Can't get your calls, your precious e-mails. It's like you don't even exist." When the customer points out that he has the Verizon network, the nonplussed manager ripostes, "Towels are kinda scratchy!" (Cue Scare Chord.)
  • 'He stands behind every home he builds.'

     Comic Books  

  • Mr. Smitty from Archie Comics
  • Cain from DC's The House of Mystery. His brother, Abel, who is caretaker of The House of Secrets, may also qualify, though perhaps he's more "chubby" than crusty.
  • The Caretaker, who shows up in Ghost Rider comics (and the movie) and related stories from Marvel Comics. In the books, he fills this trope to a tee. He guards the graveyard that much canon-scariness spills forth from. He's able to defend himself quite ably, often giving the main characters a literal smackdown when they are being stupid and or annoying. Enjoys scaring the naive by taking them through detours past some of the ickier bits of graveyard existence.
  • The cemetery caretaker Becca meets when she sneaks in Darkmoor Academy on a dare in All-Ghouls School (who might have been the headmaster in disguise).

     Film  

  • Torgo
  • Scary Movie 2 has one with a deformed hand.
  • Riff Raff, Frank N. Furter's "faithful handyman" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, lacks in people skills.
  • Francesco Dellamorte the Gravekeeper (Cemetery Man), while elegantly handsome, is gloomy, socially awkward and misanthropic ("Go away. I have no time for the living"). The only people he tolerates are his mute assistant, an administrative secretary he sometimes telephones and the beautiful woman he relentlessly pursues. Sometimes no-one is lucky.
  • The recent Nancy Drew movie has a creepy one.
  • In a spot of Self-Referential Humor, the film Scream (1996) features a cameo by director Wes Craven as a crusty janitor called Fred, who wears a battered fedora and red/green striped sweater.
  • The Silent Hill film features Colin the Janitor, who is transformed into a contorted monster after being pulled into the Otherworld. Is is later strongly implied that he sexually assaulted Alessa prior to her burning.
  • The 2002 version of Dark Water has Kamiya, who doesn't seem to care for Yoshimi's concerns about the damp, leaky patches on her ceiling. The rest of the building seems to be falling into disrepair as well, and the water tank hasn't been cleaned for years (this becomes a relevant plot point). The 2005 remake also features a Crusty Caretaker, who is much more of a Jerkass.
  • The strange janitor in Famine is constantly fingering the vagina-shaped scar on his face.
  • The murderous Cropsy in The Burning was one in a summer camp who hated kids, and after one burned him badly in a prank gone wrong, hates them even more.
  • The graveyard where the wrestling tournament in Monster Brawl takes place is overseen by its odd caretaker Cyril, whose warnings about a curse (of the living dead) falls on deaf ears.

     Literature  

  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts has two: Hagrid the groundskeeper (good crusty) and Filch the caretaker (bad crusty). Interestingly, for two entirely different reasons, they're the only members of staff not to be practising wizards.
    • Frank Bryce, in the first chapter of the fourth book, is this (good crusty) for the old crumbling house of the Riddle family, even though they're all dead.
    • Kreacher, the Black family's house-elf, is another example of the bad type. Until he makes a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Watson, the Overlook Hotel's maintenance man in Stephen King's The Shining.
  • Cold Comfort Farm has the dour and cryptic Adam Lambsbreath — although to be fair, his employers, the Starkadders, are mostly pretty dour and cryptic themselves.
  • The Discworld has Albert, Death's manservant. Keeps up a haughty demeanor in general, but especially towards young folks.
    Albert: It's no good thinking you can appeal to my better nature under this here crusty exterior, 'cos my interior's pretty damn crusty as well.
  • The Secret Garden has Ben Weatherstaff, the gardener.
  • Joseph in Wuthering Heights.
  • The Gardener in Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno.
  • Beetle in An Evening at The Larches by Harry Hearson and J. C. Trewin is the epitome of Crusty Caretaker. Jusitified, since the entire book is one long parody of thrillers.
  • In Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Mr. Dudley is one of these, while his wife is a Creepy Housekeeper.
  • Head gardener Angus McAllister from P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series.
    Honesty Angus McAllister's face had in full measure, and also intelligence; but it was a bit short on sweetness and light.
  • Catchpole in Aunt Dimity: Snowbound. Also an Old Retainer for the previous owner who can fill in some of the details of Lucasta DeClerke's life.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, he discusses how affection turns on familiarity: the children can love the crusty old gardener and fear the stranger who wants to win their regard.
  • Pylum, the Master of Cerements in Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead. He's the one person who still loudly believes that the old sacraments must be maintained to prevent the dead from rising... but actually he lost his faith and is helping a Mad Scientist create zombies.

     Live Action TV  

  • Boothby, the groundskeeper of Star Fleet Academy from Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Ned Quint, the groundskeeper in the episode "Sub Rosa" (definitely a tribute to this trope, complete with a Scottish accent that's a wee bit thick).
  • In CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, it turned out that the miniature killer had been working as the lab's janitor for 6 months.
  • One episode of This Is Wonderland had an Afghan refugee-turned-janitor, who had post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • The janitor from Scrubs fits this trope.

     Video Games  

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation  

  • The Simpsons has Springfield Elementary's Groundskeeper Willie. He has a crustier, creepier, crazier cousin, Gravedigger Billy, who only showed up in one episode and looked exactly like Willie except with white hair.
  • Scruffy ("the janitor") in Futurama.
  • Crops up quite often in Scooby-Doo.
    • A good way to pick out the villain half the time, come to think of it.
    • Gravedigger Evallo von Meanskrieg a.k.a the Graveyard Ghoul in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "The Gathering Gloom".
  • In The Beatles debut episode "A Hard Day's Night," the boys encounter a figure emerging from a grave at a haunted castle.
    Caretaker: Being a caretaker here is a lonely lot.
    John: (relieved) Caretaker?
    George: Then you're not...
    Caretaker: One of "them"? Shucks, no. That's just where I keep my office. It's real cool.
    Ringo: Cool? It's altogether daft.


Creepy HousekeeperServant TropesDivine Delegation
Crusading WidowerAlways MaleCultured Badass
Crouching Moron, Hidden BadassStock CharactersCute Bruiser
Crossover CosmologyAdded Alliterative AppealCry Cute
Cruel and Unusual DeathHorror TropesCuriosity Killed the Cast

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