Rex: Looks like we got ourselves a batch of shinies, Commander.
Echo: "Shinies", sir?
Rex: That's right. Your armor. It's shiny and new...
(Rex puts his hand on the chest area of Echo's armor)
Still wet behind the ears and fresh out of boot camp, the New Meat may look like a soldier, but he lacks the combat experience to actually perform up to the fighting standard of The Squad
. Generally young; some men may characterize him as a child
He's a bit loathed by the rest of the men because he constantly asks questions
or makes mistakes that hinder their progress
. Prone not to appreciate A Father to His Men
's stern but necessary discipline. Some of the more seasoned members may even consider his rookie status a risk
and petition the commander
(s) to get rid of him
Usually, this is reconciled only by New Meat doing something notably competent or heroic in battle, after which he's accepted as "one of the guys"
. Then the next New Meat comes along.
Otherwise, New Meat serves little function other than to get killed
so that others can brood over his corpse about what a waste his death was
— "the kid never had a chance". The New Meat is also a writer's shortcut to introduce the characters of an already established team. Since they have been working together for so long, it is difficult to justify why they would talk about their past. The New Meat character is introduced so that they can tell him the backstory
Often portrayed as skinny or physically smaller than the rest of The Squad
members to show he hasn't yet grown into the role of battle-hardened combat vet
Used as a variant of the Red Shirt
and killed off when the writers need to provide extra motivation for The Squad
to disobey orders, kill innocents
or act in other ways out of the ordinary. Ironically, the New Meat may be on the short list of survivors when the writer decides to Kill 'em All
, so their Older and Wiser
self can welcome their own New Meat as a Bookend
to their story.
See Ensign Newbie
if the guy in question has a commission. May be Cannon Fodder
if the higher-ups are sadistic
Also common in Police Procedural
or other "action team" shows, where he/she will be a newcomer, fresh out of The Academy/recruitment.
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Anime & Manga
- Kakizaki from Super Dimension Fortress Macross (Ben Dixon in Robotech).
- Sara in Soukou No Strain is treated this way by the other Gambee pilots before she gets Ram-Dass, even though she's actually a better fighter and strategist than they are — they just won't admit it.
- Subaru, Teana, Erio, and Caro in the first third of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Nanoha's job as a Combat Instructor is to make sure that they become soldiers who are capable of completing missions without unnecessarily risking and killing themselves in the process.
- Ghost in the Shell. Togusa is constantly referred to as "the rookie" by fellow Section 9 member Batou, though by Solid State Society he's shaken off the label and become the field commander of Section 9. However, it's his tendency to do things by the book and high aversion against excessive violence that makes him valuable to the team of former special forces cyborgs.
- Bernie Wiseman, the protagonist of Gundam 0080, is a relatively fresh ensign who's only been in one battle (where his Zaku was shot down) before he's assigned to the Cyclops Team. Garcia and Misha are pretty open in their dislike of Bernie, especially since they lost a man a few days before and see the new kid as a Replacement Scrappy.
- Towards the end of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED veteran pilot Yzak Joule gets assigned an entire squadron of these. The speech he gives them on their odds of getting out alive is depressing.
- The members of the 104th Trainee Corps from Attack on Titan are as new as it comes, facing their first real battle after the eve of their graduation from boot camp. It's later pointed out by the leader of the Survey Corps that they have the dubious honor of becoming Shell Shocked Veterans before even getting to select their branch of service. Survival rates for a soldier's first battle are placed at 50%, with those that survive being considered actual Scouts after that. Eren might be the protagonist, but he becomes this to The Squad when he's assigned to Levi's Special Operations Squad.
- Subverted in the G.I. Joe comic books when a new character, codename Scoop, was introduced. He's well qualified for most millitary positions but he's new meat for the types of insanity the Joes get up to. In his first mission, everything goes to hell, the mission is a bust and it's a race back to the copter just to live. Scoop gains the respect of the veterans by helping a dazed and confused fellow soldier get to safety.
- A very common story hook for Sgt. Rock, in just about every variation. However, since life's never easy in Easy Company, they don't have what you'd call a stellar track record for survival.
- Shell Shock features the platoon's new meat getting a chilling introduction to warfare.
- In Winter War, Orihime's older brother Sora ends up filling this role in the Hueco Mundo plotline. He's at the level of a gifted Academy student in their final year- when the rest of the group are experienced soldiers, most at high levels of power to boot. Naturally, he's useless in combat against powerful Arrancar. The team doesn't hold it against him, though, since he's not really there to fight. Rather, he's there because the team is hoping to get Orihime working with them- and since she's been held captive for months, they want to have someone there who knows her well enough to tell if she's able to help or about to crack, and serve as her Living Emotional Crutch if need be.
- Somewhat common in Warhammer 40,000 literature...
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Straight Silver, many of the Ghosts are struck with how young their allies are. Kolea talks for a bit about "the kids" and how young they are; Criid, thinking for a moment that he meant her children, realizes that he meant the New Meat and that his memory was not healing.
- In His Last Command, Ludd must get the Dev Hetra, a unit of New Meat, into battle. Through a combination of encouragement, threats, and Talk to the Fist, he succeeds; the commander asks him to stay with them, to lead him the benefit of his experience, which lets him stay so cool under fire, because he must remember his first battle. Ludd, who is, in fact, in his first battle, says that, yes, you do remember it.
- Subverted in Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Xenos. Eisenhorn rescues some green soldiers from a "tetrascape", where Alien Geometries reign. Later, he chooses them over experienced soldiers to go into one. Wise of him: the green soldiers had actually seen a tetrascape before, and the experienced ones hadn't. As a result, the "greens" manage to shoot and kill dozens of enemies, but the elite Deathwatch Space Marine attached to Eisenhower's squad can't hit anything thanks to the effect the twisted geometries have on ballistics.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel For The Emperor, the PDF unit that tries to stop them from escorting the tau to their compound consists of young soldiers. They have to be massacred to the last man to prevent the word getting out, and Cain, and his soldiers, find it Dirty Business.
- In Cain's Last Stand, Cain's review of the new PDV forces inspires more cynical thoughts.
- Duty Calls notes that Valhallans have a term for new meat: "FNG", or "fung" - short for "frakking new guy". One Valhallan unit known for its Leeroy Jenkins tendencies even has higher morale than would be associated with their usual losses, since these losses are mostly fungs.
- The term "FNG" is used in real militaries, in either a weird kind of Truth in Television or as a shout out by the author; of course, here in the real world it stands for "fucking new guy".
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Grey Hunter, Ragnor presses into battle with young Marines. The sight of them makes him wonder whether he had ever looked as green to his superiors — and conclude that he had. (Though a long time ago.)
- Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon is about an Imperial Guard recruit whose troopship ends up landing on the wrong planet. They were supposed to be going to put down a rebellion, but they literally fall right into the middle of an ongoing war between the Guard and an Ork Waaagh(!). Annoyingly, the main character gets referred to as 'new fish' at least once every other page. By the way, the title of the work refers to the projected survival time for a fresh Guardsman in a warzone. He beats the odds but not by very much...
- Poor, poor Havemercy's Balfour, who has been subject to the other Airmen's harsh treatment, especially Rook's, even after he became an integral part of their ranks.
- In All Quiet on the Western Front, the new recruits are almost useless, because they have no knowledge about trench warfare. The narrator says: "A man would like to spank them, they are so stupid, and to take them by the arm and lead them away from here where they have no business to be."
- Any novice Guardian is regarded as this. Jake's role as the New Meat is one of the subplots of Demon Night.
- Bit character Pinter is referred as the FNG: the Fucking New Guy.
- Codex Alera refers to new legionnaires as fish, since all they do is "flop around." The legion in question has enough that they're able to make an entire company out of them, unofficially dubbed the Knights Pisces. Then they take a level in badass at about the same time Tavi pulls out the sharks. They take the name with pride, and use a shark silhouette as their emblem.
Live Action TV
- Chitose fills this role in Galaxy Angel Moonlit Lovers.
- Elena of the Turks in Final Fantasy VII, also a Naïve Newcomer of the third person kind. She's dedicated to the job, but tries too hard, and is often mocked by the lazier members of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad.
- He's not quite the new kid, but no one's going to single out a Silencer for hazing, so the Resistance fighter Private "Taxman" Andrews (he used to be from the equivalent of the IRS—strike two) of Crusader pretty much fulfills the requirements of the Red Shirt.
- The Rookie in Halo 3: ODST. He's not exactly green, seeing as how he's a Marine veteran who's already a member of the ODSTs. But he's new to the squad.
- Every squad has a brave soldier who has to open the UFO doors and take a ton of reaction fire when you're raiding crashed alien ships in X-COM: UFO Defense. This is that soldier. The rest are likely of a rank no lower than Sergeant.
- In all the X-Com games, every soldier starts off as New Meat, and usually not very good New Meat. The few soldiers that manage to survive the first few missions (in which they are completely unarmoured and wielding peashooters) generally ascend to godhood in terms of ability by the end of the game. Except that, due to variable overflow, any stat growing over 255 will be lowered to (X-255). That means your god-like unit having 2 movement points, or fainting from low stamina.
- The same applies to Xenonauts, X-Com's Spiritual Successor, although the stat maxima are considerably lower.
- The Ace Combat series likes this trope:
- The player character of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, Mobius One, is this at first, as the first mission in the campaign is his first mission. By the end, though...
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War actually has a special term for this trope (in the air force context): "nuggets". Your entire squadron (except the late-game addition of The Sixth Ranger) is composed of nuggets of various degree of inexperience. Nagase has most flying experience behind her, Blaze (the player character) and Chopper are roughly equal at first, and Grimm is introduced during an air raid on the player's air base with one of your wingmen incredulously reminding him he hasn't finished combat training yet, but he takes off anyway. Inverted in that while his later appearance in cutscenes shows us he is obviously at least five years younger and built smaller than the rest of The Squad, he's good enough to contribute to the base defense, and is soon considered an ace by his peers once inexperience is no longer an issue. Later some rookie pilots show up who help very slightly for a few minutes before dying because they apparently couldn't point their nose at the sky for two or three seconds.
- Averted by the player character Cipher and his wingman Pixy in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, who are both seasoned mercenary fighter pilots as the game starts, but played straight by the allied Crow Squadron, one of whom, PJ, becomes your wingman after Pixy deserts.
- Benjamin Carmine in Gears of War 2, who actually ends up surviving a lot longer than his (presumably more experienced) brother Anthony did in the first game.
- Pretty much the new recruits in the Final Fantasy Tactics series. They join the party with no items equipped, no abilities mastered, and may be underleveled depending on the party's average level. By Final Fantasy Tactics A2, new recruits come with basic armor and a basic weapon that teaches them their first ability for their job.
- Initiate Reddins in Fallout 3, who made the tragic mistake of not realizing that when several heavy, explosion-like sounds go off right next to you, you should probably move. Periphary text within the game notes that her funeral got canceled. Harsh.
- She does get a Posthumous double promotion though.
- Some fans think that she didn't deserve it, that Lyons only gave her that promotion out of pity.
- Ten of Spades in Fallout: New Vegas. He hopes to some day earn the call-sign Ace of Spades, but the Lieutenant in charge of his unit insists he's too green and needs to score more kills before he can call himself that, hence his current call-sign.
- Parodied (along with every other war trope) in Cannon Fodder, with the New Meat forming an orderly queue in front of Boot Hill as it (rapidly) becomes covered in gravestones.
- Call of Duty 4 gives us this loading screen conversation; the level in question is actually called 'F.N.G':
Gaz: Good news sir, the world's in great shape. We've got a civil war in Russia, government loyalists against Ultranationalist Rebels, and fifteen thousand nukes at stake.
Captain Price: Just another day at the office. And the bad news?
Gaz: We got a new guy, fresh out of Selection. His name's Soap.
- Interestingly, in real life, Selection is a brutally difficult training and weeding-out process, and soldiers that get through it are considered by the rest of the world military incredibly Bad Ass. Of course everyone else in the unit passed it too, so to Price and Gaz Soap's nothing special. New Meat status is relative.
- Yorito Nagai starts out as this in Siren 2. He gets better.
- Reinforcing troops in Company of Heroes often gets this sort of response, especially from Wehrmacht Grenadiers.
Grenadier: Hey new guy, hope you got your shit together.
Grenadier: Hey new guy, try not to fuck it up!
- This tends to happen with anyone who just started playing an FPS in online mode. Adjusting AI-tested strategies, twitch reflexes, weapon choices, the mechanics of the game, any differences in play between single-player and online, and even compensating for lag tend to throw everyone just starting out online off their rhythm for a week or two.
- The "Recruit" background for Mike in Alpha Protocol will have him with barely three months of experience, as opposed to being a talented soldier, experienced black ops guy, or a skilled tech user. Gameplay wise, you start out with no points to invest in your skills, making Mike seem like something of an Action Survivor.
- Corporal Richard L. Jenkins in Mass Effect 1, who's killed two minutes into your first mission on Eden Prime.
- In World of Warcraft,
- While there are many Badass Pandaren warriors of various classes and specialties, most of the new recruits are this. In Shado-Pan Monastery, an event before the second boss involves you (non-lethally) taking down 20 Shado-Pan Initiates, who fixate on random party members, but are generally not a threat even for healers or cloth wearers given how quickly they are defeated. In one Golden Lotus daily quest, you have to fight against 20 trainees, each of whom have about a tenth of the health of the common enemies throughout the zones. The questgiver for the latter laments that the trainees are too weak to be relied on in any sense.
- In an Alliance quest in the Jade Forest, you are given the task of training several Jinyu of various classes by having them kill wildlife alongside you. They start out weak, but by the time you take a squad of them against the Hozen nearby, they're quite able to competently assist you.
- Donut for the Red team and Caboose for the Blue team in Red vs. Blue. Donut manages to earn some basic respect from his comrades after capturing the Blue flag. Caboose team kills his own leader.
- In a bit of an aversion, in season 9, the Freelancers initially think Texas is probably just New Meat and that the three (three!) Freelancers fighting her in the training room will easily defeat her. They very quickly change their minds.
- Alice Noretti in Exo Squad is a bit of a subversion. Her death actually has an impact on the main character that shows up well into the second season, even more so when the bad guys clone her...
- Protesting out loud against the sacrificing of New Meat as a mere diversion is what lead to Prince Zuko receiving his scar in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- The episode "Rookies" of Star Wars: The Clone Wars provides the current page quote.
- In The Movie, Rex was quick to point it out to Ahsoka, that even if she does technically outranks him, she -as opposed to him- doesn't have any experience, which is far more important in battle.
- Transformers Prime: Smokescreen is this to Team Prime on Earth, having come from a (relatively) cushy post with the Elite Guard at Iacon. The only combat he ever saw before then was during a Decepticon raid; his over-enthusiastic approach to dealing with the Cons' welcoming party on Earth nearly gets Team Prime fried in an energon explosion. He's only accepted into the team after explaining to Optimus that he worked for Alpha Trion, Orion Pax's former mentor.
- The acronym "NIG" is used in the British Army: it means New In Green.
- The Royal Air Force still uses the word "sprog" in similar circumstances, ie "sprog aircraftsman" or the WW2-era "erk".
- The typical American version is decidedly less-polite, it's "FNG" for "Fucking New Guy".
- The Finnish Army has many not-so-neat terms for newcomers, such as "mopo" ("moped"), "mokkeri" (literally "mockery") or "veripää" (blood-head). The Navy name for younger seaman is "kuli" (literally "coolie").