"Be it arm strength, running, stamina, or anything else, you are perfectly average. . . . It's something of a scientific miracle that you can be so completely unoutstanding."
The Ridiculously Average Guy is pretty much middle-of-the-road in all things. He's not ugly, but he's not particularly handsome (or pretty) either. He's not a moron, but he's not one of the best in his class either. (He will probably tend towards the low end on grades, possibly even failing his entrance exams, but he's not portrayed as aggressively stupid, either.) He has no special powers, even if the rest of the cast does pretty much as a rule. He's not a complete weakling, but nor does he excel in any physical ways.
So why the hell is he the main character?
Well, obviously, it's because the writers intend the audience to find him easy to relate to. Of course, considering that he winds up completely and totally overshadowed in almost all things by everyone around him, this fairly easily winds up turning into This Loser Is You
. Pretty much everyone around him will constantly be telling him just what a loser he is, and the Ridiculously Average Guy usually has very little, if anything, to say in his defense- unless he is
the Only Sane Man
of the group, and even then...
Of course, despite his aggressive and all-consuming mundanity, he will also likely be central to some world-saving plot, come out on top at the end of every chapter
, and have exceptionally beautiful and sexy
, cute and fun
, or just plain goofy
girls hanging all over him and begging to be allowed to fulfill his every fantasy, usually along with one who acts like she hates him but will probably wind up with him in the end anyway
This trope is most noticeable (and confusing) for how he winds up with these girls, this fate, or those victories. The girls especially... sure, he's a decent guy and all, but often the only explanation seems to be that girls, when offered chances to be with the most handsome, richest, most famous, and in all other ways exceptional guys, actually prefer the dude who's going to give them a life with the absolute fewest surprises and least excitement possible. Can be (and probably has been) an example of Wish Fulfillment
on the part of the writer. Or alternatively done so for the male audience
Sometimes, the guy isn't a main character... he's just some plain, normal guy that nevertheless tempts a strong female character with her own life of excitement and adventure with the prospect of settling down to a nine-to-five in a city apartment to possibly have 2.5 children. He's also the surprise a lot of writers have waiting in the wings to make sure that the Romantic Two-Girl Friendship
actually turns into Bait-and-Switch Lesbians
Of course, to a degree, this is Truth in Television
, since some women do want stable guys
they always know what to expect from but, just like the idea that All Girls Want Bad Boys
, it's a generalization.
Most of the time he's the the hero of the story.
Compare Unlikely Hero
, Unlucky Every Dude
, The Everyman
, Featureless Protagonist
, White Male Lead
, The Generic Guy
, Standardized Leader
, and The Nondescript
(who only seems
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Anime and Manga
- normalman himself is so unremarkable that his name is never capitalized. In fact, you may know that in comics, every letter in every word is usually capitalized, but none of the letters in norm's name ever are. Damn. Of course, that's mainly because he's the only guy without powers on the planet Levram, where being completely mundane makes him incredibly important to several key figures, from the Ultra-Conservative, who wants to give him powers so he won't disrupt the status quo to Sophisticated Lady, who finds his scrawny figure and utter helplessness maddeningly attractive.
- Recurring Spider-Man side character Joe Smith, better known as "Just A Guy Named Joe". Somewhat ironically, he's had an incredibly eventful life from certain perspectives; Boxer, wrestler, movie star, tv star, supervillain, superhero... it's too bad he's a born loser and failed at each of those professions.
- Joe's spiritual counterpart Guy Jones, "Just A Joe Named Guy", as well.
- For Better or for Worse- Anthony friggin Caine. Absolutely average, yet everyone in the cast is convinced he's the best man on earth, and of course the lovely Elizabeth gives up her exciting life teaching in a native village to move back to her home town to settle down and live a nice, respectable life with him.
- There is a Donald Duck short comic spoofing the story "Null-P" mentioned below: Donald is selected by a computer to be completely average, which makes him an instant celebrity. However, he does not get to enjoy it much, and in the end is saved by a literal computer bug.
- In The LEGO Movie Fan Fic A Piece Of Rebellion, President Business decides to exploit the fact that Emmet's so incredibly average by turning him into a spokesman for Octan. After all, he's so generic that everyone'll be able to identify with him, right?
- In the Ultra Series fanfic Ultraman Moedari, Jake is this. He was picked out of random from a crowd to be Moedari's host, which explains it.
Films — Animated
- The LEGO Movie gives us Emmet, who looks like an ordinary minifig, right down to having the classic smiley face. Similar to the example above, Emmet is so average, has so few defining qualities and blends into his environment so well that absolutely no-one notices or remembers him, not even his closest co-workers. Exaggerated Trope, as he's so average that his face matches every other face in the database.
Films — Live-Action
- Joe from Idiocracy was selected for the suspended animation experiment because he's so totally average. At least in 2005, he is. Several generations of declining intelligence later, he's the smartest man on Earth. Or at least, the only one with any common sense.
- Something that's really creepy about Ulrich Thompson as The Consultant in The International was how average he seemed to be.
- "The Eye" from Eye of the Beholder. It's a plot point that he's so average-looking that no one can remember anything distinct about him when asked to describe him. This is how he's able to effectively tail the woman he's after for such a long time without being noticed.
- The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty has the title character, at least until he starts to go on a real adventure.
- Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn series features this in the form of Caspian Knoll. He is actually quite smart when it comes to math, but is rather plain everywhere else. This includes his job and financial situation, much to the protagonist's chagrin.
- Kyle Griffin from The Impairment is described in the book's synopsis as "just another ordinary freshman college student with an ordinary life and problems". He sure is glad that all changes the night he returns from a party heavy intoxicated and next thing he knows, he's framed for the murder of his roommate by an extra-terrestrial and it's all on him to attempt to clear his name against near possible odds.
- Martin from The Dresden Files is described as incredibly bland. He manages to even do things that should be dramatic in efficient but unimpressive ways. Or at least Harry sees him this way. Of course there is the fact that he's a half vampire that's running a Thanatos Gambit against the Red Court in order to Harry to destroy them with their own ritual. The fact that he manages to seem completely average (except for the half vampire thing) right up until the end of Changes shows the power of this trope.
- Although Martin is deliberately invoking this trope as he is an undercover(REALLY undercover) agent and needs to stand out as little as possible. At the end of Changes during the battle against the Red Court Harry notes that this blandness is also a lifesaving tool, as it makes enemies subconsciously ignore him in favour of other targets who seem like more of a threat.
- In the short story "Null-P" by William Tenn, it is discovered that a man named George Abnego happens to be statistically average in every way. This makes him a celebrity of sorts, and he ends up becoming President.
- Part of the backstory for The Freedom Trap by Desmond Bagley is that Alison Mackintosh's father raised her to be a superspy — licensed pilot, expert shot with pistol and rifle, karate, things like that. And then she fell in love with and married an accountant named John Smith.
- The hero of Zarkorr The Invader was apparently The Chosen One because, of all the people on Earth, he's dead average on every axis. He's a schlubby white middle-class American.
- Dreams of Yoghurt by Neil T Stacey features Average Man, whose characteristics at any given time reflect the average of the planet's makeup. At most times, he is an Asian woman named Mohammed Smith. He gets kidnapped by the CIA, who intend to interrogate him instead of collecting census data.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society: Reynie Muldoon. "He was of average size, of an average pale complexion, his brown hair of average length, and he wore average clothes."
- In the Xanth novels, Grey Murphy's driver's license lists his eye color as "Neutral" and his hair as "hair-colored". He's the son of the Magician Murphy and the Sorceress Vadne, and a Magician in his own right. His magical talent is to temporarily nullify magic, so being average is a Personality Power for him.
- John Doe from jPod, who grew up in a lesbian commune in British Columbia. To compensate for is insane upbringing, he has dedicated his life to making himself as statistically average as possible up to and including his favorite snack foods.
- The Idiot discusses this at length:
- Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsyn, her husband Ivan Petrovich Ptitsyn, and her brother Gavrila Ardalionovich Ivolgin are all described as completely ordinary people. Ivan Ptitsyn is stated to be blissfully unaware of how ordinary he is, and Varvara knows she's ordinary and has more or less made peace with that fact, while Gavrila knows that he's ordinary and is constantly striving to distinguish himself but lacks the ability to do so.
- In addition, the author launches into an aside describing how the vast majority of people in Real Life are "ordinary", and wondering how an author, interested in realism, is supposed to accurately portray these ordinary people.
- In the National Lampoon College Admissions guide, this is subverted. Several people who got into Ivy League schools are described as having done so despite being average in every way, but then have some sort of incredible accomplishment to their name.
- Agatha Christie uses this a couple of times; "Mr. Brown" in the first Tommy and Tuppence book, or the murderer in CURTAIN.
- Mike, protagonist of P. G. Wodehouse's Boarding School novel of the same name, who was eventually eclipsed by his supporting character Psmith.
- Sewing Circle has Abby, who, of the group she's in, seems to be the only living an average life.
- Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld. He is easily the least interesting character in the whole show despite being the main character. The main reason for this is to show a contrast between him and the crazy people he hangs out with. He has a different girlfriend almost every time he's seen with one, and breaks up with them for the pettiest reasons, yet has such a relaxed attitude about the whole thing that we rarely see him upset. He does get annoyed when Kramer comes into his room and 'borrows' his possessions/food, though; or where Newman is concerned.
- Ted Moseby from How I Met Your Mother. His worst faults are that he corrects people and he is In Love with Love. Plus he doesn't go all the way with his crazy friends. Oh wow, he's so daring.
- He's a borderline example, due to Flanderization making him more distinct as time goes on. He's more of The Ego to Barney's Id and Marshall's Superego. His desire to have a family and his single status as a thirty-something-year-old male living in New York City still sticks him with this trope, however.
- In one episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway is sincerely tempted to give up her life as a Starfleet captain and her promise of getting her crew home to settle down with a decent but fairly bland guy she met on a planet and become a minor power plant supervisor.
- Todd Dempsey on Outsourced. One of the main reasons the show received claims of being racist was because there was so much focus on him when the Indian characters had better personalities.
- Finn from Glee could be considered this. Blaine was too until he was promoted to Main Cast and got a more in depth personality.
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: Out of all the Gokaigers, Don "Doc" Dogoier, aka Gokai Green, is the only one without a backstory or known past. Initially, he was planned to have a back-story as the son of a scientist who was murdered at the hands of the Zangyack forces. However, Naruhisa Arakawa, the show's head writer, discovered that he preferred to leave Don without a back-story. All that is shown is that the crew came across him once, looking for someone to fix the Gokai Galleon's navigational computer. He did that, tidied up their mess and made them dinner, all of which got him into the crew
- The show actually tried to give him a backstory by showing that he was an amnesiac dragon slayer before joining the Pirate Squadron. Turns out that was spoofed: Doc made that all up so the others would give him some respect.
- On The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, there is a Running Gag that Mitt Romney is an extremely bland guy. For example, a joke on The Colbert Report was that he got indigestion from a "particularly spicy Wheat Thin".
- Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer embodies this trope, even if he's not technically the MAIN character.
- The gaming magazine Shadis had a recurring comic strip about the adventures of "Joe Genero, the Average Man" which consisted of amazing or absurd things that characters with "average" stats in various games could accomplish.
- Aran Ryan was this in Super Punch-Out!!, a series known for wild characters, but thankfully, Next-Level Games gave him a Hot-Blooded Scotireland/border-line Ax-Crazy personality in the Wii version of the game. Now, he's probably the most memorable character in the entire cast!
- Ryan's original gimmick was that of a granite-faced Irishman who can't be dazed by blows to the face. A closer example would be Mr. Dream, the plain vanilla champion who replaces Tyson in the NES re-release.
- Also, based on seeing his name in the game's code, Kid Quick from the original arcade Punch-Out!! was supposed to make a comeback in the Wii version, and its assumed he was "cut" because his only trait in his original appearance was his speed. However, it seems Next-Level Games tried so hard to give Kid character, he became an entirely new character: Disco Kid.
- Played for Drama in Rainbow Six. The Dragon, Renegade Russian Dmitriy Popov's features are so unremarkable that no one really knows how to look out for him until learning the extent of the Big Bad's plan prompts an Even Evil Has Standards reaction and something of a Heel-Face Turn, causing him to voluntarily approach John Clark.
- Russel Bagman is the most normal guy in Super Robot Wars. Literally. As a result of this, he stands out even more. Ironically subverted by Fanon though, considering he gives his Hot-Blooded commander a Bright Slap once, leading many to apply Memetic Mutation and refer to him as the Original Generation Bright Noah.
- The protagonist of MDickie's The You Testament is just some generic schmuck (so that you can use a photo of your own face to make him you) who fulfils the role of every incidental person in The Bible who encounters Jesus without becoming a dedicated disciple. This occasionally necessitates that a story be mangled out of shape so that "some generic schmuck" can learn the lesson instead of "the very specific person who Jesus actually talked to in the Bible whose very identity was instrumental in giving the lesson meaning".
- Bartz, the protagonist of Final Fantasy V, is not only this in-game (he's the only character who isn't royalty, for one), he's also this across the entire Final Fantasy series. He's fairly generic-looking compared to the more Bishōnen male protagonists like Cecil or Cloud, is a wanderer for the sheer hell of it (and goes back to doing that at the end of the game), and is a Master of None (which is a base for the game's Job System, but even in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, he's not much of a specialist). Top that with the fact that he is incredibly easygoing, and there you have it.
- Jason Brody in Far Cry 3 is this, and is Played for Drama. He starts as just a random dude who everyone complains about for his lack of ambition and is initially horrified by killing to survive, compared to his military-trained older brother. One holiday turned pirate kidnapping later, to his surprise, he gets over it pretty quickly though, finds a talent for hunting and survival on an island where suburbanite western values are very far away, and starts enjoying the fear and respect the locals are starting to pay him...
- Stahl from Fire Emblem Awakening is very much this trope. It's even commented on and sort of invoked in his support conversations with Miriel, who notes that no matter how much he and the rest of the army improves combat-wise, Stahl is always in the exact middle of her test results. It's further explained that everyone else knows how average Stahl is, so when they see him getting better, they train even harder.
- The psychological video game, The Stanley Parable, is all about an average guy named Stanley, who spent his whole life working as employee 427 at a corporate office. He does nothing but push buttons on a monitor, until one day he noticed no orders were appearing on his monitor, and all of his fellow employees suddenly disappeared. The game questions the concept of being an average person of society and the possible power, or lack of power, when making a choice.
- Naegi in Dangan Ronpa sees himself as this. His favourite songs always just so happen at the top of popularity charts, he doesn't have any remarkable interests or hobbies, and repeatedly says that the only positive thing about him is his optimism. It gets to the point where he finds the fact that the girl he likes (who, by the way, is one of Japan's most famous popstars) actually remembers him to be utterly bewildering.
- Matt from Matt N Dusty is this to a T, and considering the situations he gets into, he's hilariously average.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is about Bob Smithson, officially the World's Most Average Man. As time goes on though, it becomes clear that he does have one significant thing going for him: a higher than average wisdom score.
- A non-romantic example is Tyler Marlocke from PS 238. He's a completely average kid who has been sent to a grade school for superheroes, because his parents refuse to believe he isn't one.
- Except that he's the future Nightwing.
- Steve from Questionable Content. All the other characters have an unusual appearance and/or personality and/or hobbies, but Steve is about as bland and ordinary as a guy can be. He tends to be Out of Focus for this reason, though the government apparently hired him for a secret agent mission because of his total unremarkability.
- In The Dragon Doctors, Greg makes a speech about being this type in the storyline where he is introduced, including the line, "You could forget I'm there if you so much as blink while talking to me." Of course, it turns out there's a couple of Hidden Depths to him.
- Rachel is one of the most important characters of Tower of God. Yet she is more on the homely side, is not really heroic, almost entirely powerless and is really the textbook definition of normal apart from killing her best friend in cold blood to see some real stars. Absolutely normal.
- Yahtzee in the Zero Punctuation series frequently uses the face of an extremely plain looking man, most of them altered for hilarity value, for the one of many of a Visual Gag.
- Jon Lajoie parodies this along with Boastful Rap in his "Everyday Normal Guy" videos:
I’m just a regular everyday normal guy…Nothin’ special bout me motherfucker.
I’m just a regular everyday normal guy…When I go to the club I wait in line motherfucker.
I’m just a regular everyday normal guy…I got $600 in the bank motherfucker
I’m just a regular everyday normal guy…And my sexual performance is average.
- In one Hardly Working video, super-nerd Jeff uses a machine to change his personality to be super cool and suave. When he decides that the only thing cooler than being cool is being yourself and attempts to reverse the process, something goes wrong resulting in him becoming exactly average.
Average Geoff: Does anyone wanna play some XBOX? I only have one controller though.
David: What a totally... average thing to say.
- The aptly named Average Joe in the The Wall Will Fall ARG is described by everyone from himself to Mister Administrator as being ridiculously average: smart enough to notice things were going on, but needing the help of the Players to actually get to the point. He may have underestimated him more than a little.
- Carson Daly. On Saturday Night Live, a skit about TRL had this line- "Hi I'm Carson Daly, and I'm average in every way."
- One study found that the most typical face on Earth was that of a 28 year old Chinese male.
- Dev Patel was chosen for the part of Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire because the director wanted a completely ordinary looking guy to play the role rather than any of the muscle bound guys which had auditioned for the role before. For exactly the same reason Cillian Murphy got his part in Boyle's 28 Days Later.
- Similarly, Tim Burton chose Michael Keaton rather than an action star for the role in 1989's Batman because Bruce Wayne was an "average" (albeit rich) guy who became a vigilante.