open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Linna Yamazaki in Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040.
- The superheroine in Re: Cutey Honey is this in her Secret Identity.
- Hataraki Man focuses on the slice-of-life adventures of a Plucky Office Girl who works as a magazine editor.
- Riho from Night Walker is part-time help for an Occult Detective who is, unbeknownst to her, a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire. He only employs her out of pity because she was orphaned by monsters, but her desire to be useful to her boss makes it tough to keep her in the dark.
- 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 Obadiah Stane'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.
- Why Be Good? 's Pert Kelly.
Live Action TV
- Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show 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. It's gradually subverted as she pushes her way up the ladder.
- 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 Twilight Zone episode "But Can She Type".
- Bailey 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 (US). 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 to the much more compatible Jim.
- 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.
- Arguably, Donna Noble in Doctor Who. She's been a temp for years and is broadly ignored in every office she works in, but has picked up a lot of stuff, including a 100wpm typing speed. She uses her knowledge of office-based activity to solve mysteries more than once, such as realising all the staff in a factory are alien clones because the HR records show that none of them have ever taken a sick day. As with all things Doctor Who, It Makes Sense in Context.
- 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 The King of Queens, swerves between resentful frustration and a desire to enhance her working status.
- April Ludgate of Parks and Recreation could be a parody of this character. She begins the series as The Snark Knight intern who takes on a full-time position as Ron's assistant, and he likes her specifically for the fact that she's good at stonewalling people who want to meet with him and is a Professional Slacker. However, as the series progresses and she becomes closer to her co-workers, she becomes more involved with her work and more driven to better herself.
- 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 creditIt'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.
- When the bank had a store setup and Meredith was effectively a Shopkeeper, she had a line indicating that carrying large amounts of gold around had given her Super Strength. This received a Call-Back when...
- A Chance Item (pay-for-play random item generator) gives Meredith a Day in the Limelight in which she's revealed to moonlight as super-heroine Alpha Girl.
- 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. Subverted later in the plot, as the Administrator eventually recognizes Miss Pauling's growing competence by trusting her with increasingly important assignments, culminating in reassembling the Red Team. Which, given her character, is worth more than a thousand words.