Ditzy Secretary

Some would say you can't run an office without a good secretary. But in this case, you can't do it with this one.

They'll misplace papers, forget calls, get lost on the way to the office, and/or otherwise just fail to be useful. How they got or keep the job makes no logical sense, although it may have something to do with the fact that it's hilarious to watch their mistakes frustrate their office-mates time and time again. Or alternately, they could hold their position by providing eye-candy, either in-universe or for the audience. More often than not, it's a combination of both.

This is a subtrope of The Ditz. It can overlap with both Sexy Secretary, and by extension, Brainless Beauty. Contrast Sassy Secretary, who has a tendency to be more intelligent than her bosses, and Girl Friday, who is much more competent, period.


Examples:

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    Film 
  • Ghostbusters (2016): Kevin is a rare male example. He wears glasses but took the glass out so he didn't have to clean them, thinks covering his eyes blocks out sound, cannot figure out how to work a phone, cannot figure out that he's supposed to figure out how to work the phone, only announces appointments when the person has been waiting for at least ten minutes, and wanders off during the final battle to go get a sandwich. Eren wanted to hire him because he is just so damn pretty, while the other girls went along with it because he was the only applicant.
  • Ulla, the receptionist hired by Max in The Producers. She can't type, knows little English, and spends most of her time dancing on her desk. Max clearly hired her exclusively for her looks (and is also implied to be sleeping with her). In the stage version, she becomes lead actress in the Show Within a Show.

    Literature 
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen: Abigail Tinsley, better known as the supervillain She Who Wots, begins working as a secretary for the supervillain crime boss Spider. Abigail's step-mother suggested it in order to help with Abigail's "militant schizophrenia." Unfortunately, since Abigail is regularly possessed by an extradimensional spirit and can see into multiple planes of existence, getting her to focus on anything as minor as paperwork is very difficult. When Penny receives a letter from Spider, it's filled with random digressions by Abigail, mentioning how much fun dictation is and how Spider is glaring at her while she types.
  • Tricky Business: The secretary was hired solely on the basis of having cleavage a small dog could get lost in. Her idea of keeping the press away consists of being at the door, turning her head to talk to the boss, then turning back to announce "he says he's not here".

    Live Action TV 
  • A recurring sketch in The Carol Burnett Show features Deadpan Snarker Mr. Tudball and his Sarcasm-Blind secretary Mrs. Wiggins. One sketch opens with her just staring vacantly into space and, when Mr. Tudball uses the intercom to ask what she's doing, she keeps saying "Hello" as he's trying to speak.
  • One episode of Frasier has Niles hire a mobster's girlfriend as a receptionist because she's incompetent at every other job she's had. She tries to put Frasier on hold and hangs up on him instead. The only reason he hired her was because the mobster asked Frasier to recommend that she marry him, but he refused after she told him of several of the mobster's negative traits, including refusing to allow her to get a job due to her incompetence.
  • On Friends, Rachel once hired an incompetent assistant purely because he was pretty.
  • In the sitcom Hey Dad..!, Martin's secretary Betty. The running gag about her being an architect's secretary despite not even being able to pronounce "architect" is only the start of it. In one episode, she has a long conversation with an answering machine message despite knowing perfectly well it's an answering machine. She keeps her job because she's a family friend and Martin doesn't have the heart to fire her.
  • Monk: This becomes a plot point in the episode "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall." Eileen Hill, a councilwoman who Monk hopes will help him save the parking garage where Trudy's car exploded hires a secretary who is not incredibly capable or bright, either as a secretary or as her proxy in the vote. Monk eventually figures out that the councilwoman hoped to get her boyfriend to leave his wife by faking a pregnancy and therefore advertised for a secretary in Lamaze classes so she could get pregnant urine under the guise of a blood test. Unfortunately, Monk insults the secretary while giving the summation, and it costs him the vote.
  • A running gag throughout Murphy Brown was her inability to keep a secretary for more than a single episode. Examples include a man who can't type more than one letter at a time, a woman who insists she's quitting cigarettes even as she keeps taking a drag, a woman who ran a phone sex line from her desk, and, in one case, a crash test dummy.
    Murphy: I have certain needs. Someone who files alphabetically. Someone who makes cup of coffee without setting off the smoke alarm. Someone who can find his way back from the men's room without having to stop at the lobby directory!
  • Simon & Simon: In an episode where the brothers were trying to incorporate their agency, including an office and secretary, they passed over a rather dumpy middle-aged looking woman who had an impressive resume for a young and beautiful, but very Dumb Blonde who didn't even have the sense to answer the phone when it rang.
  • Caméra Café (italian version) has many examples:
    • Patti who is the flat-out ugliest one in the company and she has a notable "airhead" personality. Much to the annoyance of her boss Ilaria, since Patti is always messing up.
    • Anna in the first two seasons. She's the unlucky director's secretary and not a very competent one.
    • Gloria (introduced in season 5), a total Brainless Beauty and one of dumbest character in the show.

    Radio 

    Video Games 
  • Isabelle from Animal Crossing is clumsy and forgetful but is the player (The Mayor)'s secretary.
  • BlazBlue: Noel Vermillion is this for Major Jin Kisaragi. Played with in that while she has low self-esteem and is quite clumsy and not very bright, during fight she can be cold and effective. This is because her weapon, the twin guns Bolverk is a magical weapon that keeps her state of mind in check. There are reasons she was installed in this post... lots and lots of them.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DitzySecretary