Every successful person at the office wears crisp expensive suits and projects an air of unwavering confidence. The plucky office girl doesn't. She is very talented and clever, has great ideas, and wonderful potential but nobody notices. She is often the butt of jokes
, and the rest of the time is just invisible. So, she occupies a low ranking level at the company and seems to have no hope of a promotion despite her great potential. She is very sad and depressed, and often pretty complex but nobody is close enough to her to realize. Usually tasked with gopher (Go-For) jobs such as fetching coffee
and notes, and so forth.
More cynical versions have the higher-ups profiting off her talent but never crediting it.
This will go one of two ways. First, she will get noticed by someone higher up on the food chain, get a makeover and learn to show confidence which gets her noticed (and thus become a Romance Genre Heroine
). Or, second (and much more common these days), she'll forever remain the Plucky Comic Relief
, with only the occasional Day in the Limelight
episode concentrating on her and her problems, wants, and dreams.
They're almost always Hollywood Homely
Overlaps with The Woobie
if the Plucky Office Girl
is the lead character. In black comedies
, this often overlaps with the Chew Toy
. Always Female
, because the same behavior and treatment in a man comes across differently
. In Anime, the Office Lady
tends to be a Plucky Office Girl
. Related to Badass Bureaucrat
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Anime & Manga
- Erin the File Girl in What Women Want.
- The main character in 9 to 5. In which Dolly Parton and others strove to break out of entry-level invisibility and to make something more for themselves.
- Jean in American Psycho.
- Andy in The Devil Wears Prada.
- Tess McGill, Melanie Griffith's character in Working Girl.
- Selina Kyle in Batman Returns is a Deconstruction of this trope. She's Hollywood Homely, has got a lot of ideas, and never gets noticed by her boss, due to her Shrinking Violet tendencies. When she finally does get noticed snooping around the office, he tries to kill her, and her sanity takes a sharp jump off a cliff.
- Pepper Potts of Iron Man is a partial example. She is Tony Stark's personal assistant and is introduced as doing all of his menial tasks (including providing fresh clothes and a transportation for his latest one-night stand), and said one-night stand treats her condescendingly. Tony also puts quite a bit of stress on her through his various antics and piles on the work. However as the movie goes on, it's shown that Tony trusts Pepper very much and has her handle everything in his life, including business plans, tinkering with his arc reactor, and going into Obediah Stan's computer to look for various hidden files. There are also a few moments where Tony expresses appreciation for her talents, and fully pulls her from this trope in the sequel, when he considers herself the most qualified person to take over as CEO of Stark Industries, when he's getting his affairs in order.
Live Action TV
- Mary Richards basically starts out as one of these. She's got spunk, though.
- While Mary is given the seemingly-prestigious title of associate producer of the Six O'Clock News in the very first episode, it's initially established that the job itself is no great shakes, and actually pays less than the secretarial position she'd planned to apply for. In fact, when she eagerly accepts the alternate job offer, Lou even offers to make her a full producer in exchange for an additional pay cut; she declines, sheepishly admitting that she can barely afford being an associate. She does come to take on more responsibility as the show progresses.
- Kristy in the Cupid episode, "Botched Makeover".
- Peggy in Mad Men, justified by it being the early Sixties.
- Although being gradually subverted as she pushes her way up the ladder.
- Ugly Betty
- Spaced: Daisy predicts she will end up something like this, but it doesn't happen.
- Kitty from Arrested Development is sort of an insane one of these who has enough knowledge to manipulate everyone, but is crazy and all she really wants is George Sr. (and to have a baby with him).
- Liz Lemon from 30 Rock qualifies in all aspects except for the part about the low-ranking position, being head writer and Only Sane Employee.
- Karen Billings, Pam Dawber's character in the New Twilight Zone episode "But Can She Type".
- Baily Quarters from WKRP in Cincinnati would count, but Jennifer Marlowe wouldn't.
- Greek: In stark contrast to her appearance in the previous chapter (where she was a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant to the CRU ZBZ house), Lizzi fulfills this trope to the rest of ZBZ Nationals at the convention.
- Pam on The Office. She begins the series as the epitome of this trope, a tired woman who has long ago given up her dream to be an artist and engaged to her high school boyfriend who doesn't appreciate her. She basically has to be a receptionist, take care of her boss Michael and put up with the craziest co-workers ever. However season 3 gave her major Character Development and a confidence boost. In season 5 she asserts herself and ends up going to art school and later gets promoted to a salesman. In season 7, when it becomes obvious that sales just aren't for her, she successfully uses a Batman Gambit to get herself promoted to Office Administrator, a job she (so far) seems to love. Oh, and she ends up Happily Married and Babies Ever After.
- When Lucy Coe first appeared on General Hospital, she was a plucky librarian girl. After a run-in with bad boy Kevin O'Connor, she ditched the mousy trappings and became one of the more celebrated bad girls in the show's history.
- Torchwood's Toshiko, to a certain extent, who often seems to be having a lot less fun than the rest of the team. Rather than going out into the field and doing thrilling things, she's the Voice with an Internet Connection. Rather than having lots of sex, she has a Cartwright Curse. And when she gets some Applied Phlebotinum that allows her to read minds, she's shocked and hurt to discover that she's everybody's Butt Monkey. Still, she's extremely clever. Sadly, she dies. Ianto is a bit of a Gender Flipped variant. He's secretly a dangerous volcano of angst, at least at first, but nobody cares enough to notice as long as he keeps bringing them coffee, and before he gets to know him, Jack appreciates him more for his dress sense than his talents and personality. Sadly, he dies too.
- Claude in Less Than Perfect.
- Donatella Moss from The West Wing started off as this, but as her raw competence and devotion to her boss grew as the series went on, she went from being just another Plucky Office Girl to being a B-level heroine in her own right.
- The ironically-named Joy Merryweather in Drop the Dead Donkey resents being the low-level gopher for the Globelink News office. Reasonable, as she has more brains than Gus, Dave and the rest put together.
- Carrie Heffernan, a legal secretary for sporadically indifferent employers, in King of Queens, swerves between resentful frustration and a desire to enhance her working status.
- The theme song to the film 9 to 5(above), performed by Dolly Parton, explained the theme of the film with dry sardonic numour and was a worldwide hit.
Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'
Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it
- Sachiko in the "Koi no Dance Site" level of the first Ouendan Game. Whether she has the first or second kind of ending is whether you win or lose the level.
- Gaia Online's Meredith is one. She mentions during Ian's trial that she graduated from college at the age of fifteen, proving that she has the intelligence and motivation to do greater things, but after all these years she's still just a half-forgotten bank teller. Much to the dismay of her multitude of fans.
- Team Fortress 2: Despite being the boss's secretary and ground control for the Mercs, Miss Pauling receives little respect from the Administrator and the Team; her efforts to avoid bad situations have either been ignored or backfired spectacularly.