He's a minor character, sometimes not even receiving a name. But he always shows up in the thick of things. Whether a bank robbery or a terrorist attack, expect this poor guy to be caught in the middle. He may be the Hero of Another Story
or eventually become an Ascended Extra
, but for right now, he's just that guy that seems to have horrible luck. Other characters may note his repeated appearance at the wrong place at the wrong time. A Running Gag
may be associated with him.
Subtrope of Recurring Extra
. Compare to Butt Monkey
, for someone who is a more regular part of the cast. A non-recurring version of this character is the Innocent Bystander
. Heroes should be careful to be nice to this guy. Someday, the dog may bite back
- Speed's "black guy with a sports car" whose car gets Flashed Badge Hijacked and wrecked by Jack shows up again in Speed 2: Cruise Control, where his boat gets hijacked, this time by Alex.
- National Lampoon's European Vacation had a random English tourist (played by Eric Idle), who was always on the receiving end of any kind of accident inflicted upon him by the Griswolds. In fact, he even appears again in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure, during the airport scene.
- The fat guy in Lilo & Stitch. Every time he runs into Lilo, he loses his ice cream. Once it was even knocked out of his hands by a spaceship.
- A guy who watches James Bond drive his car/submarine Lotus Esprit out of the ocean in The Spy Who Loved Me returns in Moonraker (watching Bond drive a gondola across the Piazza San Marco in Venice) and For Your Eyes Only (watching a skiing Bond being chased by motorcycles). All three times, he looks at what he's been drinking.
- In Cheaper by the Dozen 2, the poor old man in the wheelchair. Every time he is on screen, he somehow gets pushed into the water. You think he would put on his parking brake, or have someone park him in a less precarious spot.
Live Action TV
- In the Agent Pendergast series, Larry Enderby, a small character who works as a technician at the museum, ends up in the middle of things in several books. In Book of the Dead, Captain Hayward recognizes him from the previous book and notes that Larry seems to have really bad luck.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Agrajag is an unfortunate soul that happens to reincarnate into incidental creatures that Arthur Dent accidentally kills (a pot of flowers, a fly, etc...). Agrajag eventually becomes aware of his past lives and becomes more and more spiteful toward Arthur until his dislike actually materializes into the "Cathedral of Hate", to which he eventually abducts Arthur; Arthur Dent proceeds to accidentally kill him while escaping. Thanks to the vagaries of time travel, Arthur manages to accidentally cause his death again two books later.
- In Law & Order: SVU, a lab tech seems to catch all the bad cases, especially those that involve havoc in the labs. This culminates in his murder by another tech.
- This was Danny Strong's role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for three years. At first his character didn't even have a name. The writers just kept bringing him back to be victim of the week.
- In 8-Bit Theater there's the "Onion Kid", who is shown early in the series and then gets later cameos, all of which show him witnessing something horrific or undergoing some terrible misfortune that is the direct resort of the so-called heroes' bumbling. For instance he was orphaned and witnessed the brutal murder. Twice. Later subverted when we find out the onion kid is actually Sarda as a child, and the entire plot was his way of screwing with the light warriors for ruining his life.
- Archer has Brett, the unfortunate Isis employee that has been shot eight times over the course of the series, mostly by ricocheting friendly fire. He's also been beaten half to death three or four times. This is frequently lampshaded and all of the characters (except for Brett, who is an extra) either don't care or find it hilarious.
- The Dating Guy had the man in the green jacket who is always the victim of gruesome violence.
- Gargoyles has a few characters like this throughout its run. The blond woman, Margot, and her husband are often rescued from bad guys by the gargoyles. Another man, who got named Vinnie, ran afoul of various attacks from the gargoyles. He got his revenge in the end, though. With a cream pie bazooka.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the 'Cabbage Merchant" who shows up a few times in the series and has a cameo in the sequel. Basically all of his appearances involve him minding his own business before seeing his produce destroyed and yelling, "Not my cabbages!" (or just "My cabbages!") in anguish.
- Hans Moleman of The Simpsons.
- The Australian man on Futurama who always gets stuck doing backbreaking menial labor.
- Jitters in Bonkers. While he was a secondary character in the Raw Toonage shorts, he was Demoted to Extra on the series proper, appearing only to be caught in the crossfire between Bonkers and the Villain of the Week.
- A balding man with glasses is often a victim of gangsters and criminals and thus saved by the heroes in Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited''.