The Load: Anime and Manga

  • Axis Powers Hetalia has Italy. The only thing he contributes is good food and white flags to surrender with. Otherwise, he eats, sleeps and on occasion makes strange noises, all to Germany's dismay.
  • In the episodes of Azumanga Daioh involving the annual sports competitions, Chiyo frets and cries over being The Load. She assumes that since she's a ten-year-old competing against and alongside high schoolers, her lack of physical development must hold their team back to the point that her even participating is a handicap. She's right, but she's also adorable, and therefore easily forgiven. Especially since she means a guaranteed win in one event: cheerleading. The class does already have a cheerleader (Yomi), but this is one event where nobody judges against the cute ten-year-old.
  • Dr. Dreks in part 2 of Bio-Meat: Nectar. Evolves into The Millstone with The Reveal that he's carrying USBM spores, as the heroes are getting away on the escape helicopter.
  • Black Cat
  • Bleach has no genuine examples of this trope in the manga. However, the anime likes playing with it in filler.
    • The first filler arc occurs while the canon Uryuu has lost his powers, so contrives a way for him to regain his powers for the arc and then lose them again in time for the canon storyline to pick back up. The filler does this by making the plotline hinge on Uryuu becoming a Distressed Dude then going out-of-character and picking up the Idiot Ball.
    • Orihime is used by the anime solely for healing injuries and ensuring she gets put into danger so people have something to rescue. She's even been made to heal the Big Bad of one arc who inevitably turned on her, requiring her to be rescued by her companions. The anime teams rarely use her for anything else.
    • In one filler arc, Nozomi is the Damsel in Distress and Love Interest of Kon. Her every action involves getting characters into trouble or danger because she gets offended at the slightest thing and inevitably storms off to be alone.... straight into danger she needs rescuing from. Even her brief stint as a fighter lasts only long enough to get everyone badly injured before she's inevitably captured again.
  • Played straight and averted with Kai and Riku in Blood+. At the beginning of the series, neither have much fighting skill and mostly hindered Red Shield. On many occasions, though, they gave Saya much required emotional support in order to fulfill her tasks. After the destruction of Red Shield, Kai trains and becomes an important part of the team, being able to fight as well as counsel those in distress.
  • Played straight and averted with Kodaka in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. Played straight during the gaming sessions in episodes 2 and 5. To be fair, he's still relatively new to the game (as opposed to Sena and Yozora, who both are familiar with it), and in the case of episode 5, he was playing a game where his character didn't even have any abilities, compared to the girls, who all had some kind of role or abilties for the group. Averted in real life situations, where he actually does do things and is essentially the linchpin to keeping the group together during said sessions.
  • Strongly averted in Cage of Eden. Despite being trapped on an island with dangerous animals, no-one in Akira's group is willing to complain and slow everyone down, and they all want to contribute something. Though, as Tooru points out, because no-one is willing to complain, this nearly gets everyone killed when they attempt to climb a mountain and come down with altitude sickness. Of course, this also means that they reach the peak faster than they would if they'd stopped.
  • Azmaria in the anime version of Chrono Crusade starts out as The Chick, but devolves into The Load. She was never a real combatant to begin with, but her Apostle wings and healing powers stop working near the end of the story, and she does absolutely nothing in the final battle against Aion.
  • Some readers regard Raki from Claymore as a heartwarming Morality Pet, others deride him as a loathsome irritant; however Everyone agrees that the best thing he can do when he and Clare stumble across a Yoma or psychotic high-end Claymore is run away QUICKLY. Clare's companions for her first Awakened One hunt actually mock her for keeping him around (complete with hints of him being her "plaything").
    • Post-Time Skip Raki, however, averts this trope hard.
  • Code Geass has an in-universe example, where the Black Knights feel that C.C. is The Load because she just hangs around the base eating pizza and snarking at people without doing any real work, and on top of this they believe (incorrectly) that she's only with the group because she's Zero's mistress. In truth, she's actually Lelouch's biggest benefactor, as the person who gave him his Magical Eye, meaning she's indirectly responsible for Zero existing in the first place. The attitude improves in the second season, where C.C. temporarily leads the Black Knights when Zero is missing, and after his return she's much more active, even piloting her own Ace Custom mecha.
  • Matsuda sees himself as this in Death Note and endangers himself when he tries to be more of a contributor to the investigation team. Technically, it works. He was able to lead the team to the Yotsuba group. He also turns it around when Light is relying on Matsuda to be the Load who won't mess anything up for him in the endgame, and winds up being the one who saves Near's life by shooting Light.
  • Kyoko from Dennou Coil manages to raise her already very annoying presence by getting herself into danger throughout the series, usually by following her older sister Yasako around and/or refusing to stay put when told to do so.
  • D.Gray-Man: Lenalee Lee is this trope for 32 episodes (out of 103 total at this time) in the second half of the series, barely able to walk under her own power due to over-exerting her Empathic Weapon, and is unable to help in battle for a further 5 episodes after that. Thankfully it's temporary.
  • Dragon Ball
    • Oolong in the first story arc. He contributes only the bare minimum to the group with his already-limited transformation power and spends most of the time either complaining or trying to run away. He finally shows his worth when he stops the Big Bad from taking over the world, though.
    • Goku flat out tells Bulma that she's useless and gets in the way when she wants to tag along with him on his adventure to find the Four-Star Ball in the Red Ribbon Saga, though she insists that Goku needs her help.
    • In Dragon Ball Z, Kuririn/Krillin became a horrendous Load, since he, while apocalyptically powerful in his own right, couldn't possibly hope to keep up with the villains and the Saiyans, who kept leveling up to comical extremes every time a new Big Bad showed up. Eventually, it got to the point where Krillin's only purpose was to carry the Senzu beans. To be fair, Krillin did contribute early on — he defeated most of the saibamen, came VERY close to killing Nappa and Vegeta, and played a vital role in slowing the bad guys down on Namek (even managing to slice off a part of Frieza's tail with his destructo disc, saving Gohan's life in the process). Also, EVERYONE who wasn't Goku or Vegeta eventually became this.
    • Yamcha is even worse. He never got to really do much of anything, aside from getting blown away by a Saibaman.
    Narrator: And just when he made a stand...oh, look, there's a Saibaman.
    Vegeta: KABOOM!
    • Vegeta zig-zags this. While he does do some useful things and is a highly competent fighter, his arrogance and insecurity causes a LOT more problems than he fixes. He's actually responsible for every major story arc in the series. He was the Big Bad of the Saiyan saga, tipped Freeza off about the dragon balls, let Cell absorb Android #18 so he could fight his perfect form, and agreed to Babidi's mind control to fight evenly with Goku, resulting in Buu being released. He usually makes up for it afterward by helping out against the Big Bad but often times it's his mistakes that made the confrontation necessary in the first place.
  • Haruto Sakuraba of Eyeshield 21 starts off as a totally useless member of the Ojo White Knights, and his friend Shin Seijuro, the team's ace responsible for pretty much all of the team's victories, admits that Sakuraba really doesn't contribute anything. Painfully aware that the team could do without him, Sakuraba gets an Important Haircut and Takes a Level in Badass after one summer of training, shedding his status as The Load.
  • Mr. James from From Eroica with Love manages to jeopardize almost any mission he participates in at least once. The first thing anyone (even his own teammates) does upon gaining custody of him is try to foist him off on some other poor sucker.
  • One of the reasons why many fans have a problem with the first anime of Fullmetal Alchemist is due to the fact Al was somewhat this to his brother. Completely avoided in Brotherhood when Al is able to hold his own with the strongest homunculus, Pride, and Kimblee who had a Philosopher Stone with him. One of the main reasons Al was something of The Load in the first anime was that he was the only prominent alchemist in the series who didn't have portable alchemy circles, and could not transmute by clapping. This is avoided midway through the manga when he regains his memories of the night at the Gate and gains the power to transmute by clapping.
  • Initial D has Iketani and Itsuki as The Load in the sense they will never beat almost anyone in a race. Ever. Takumi came around to help them out for a bit but after he left, they were back to being a weak team.
  • Shippo from InuYasha is the most useless member of Inu-Yasha and Kagome's group as he has virtually no fighting skills, often has to be rescued, and whines a lot. Occasionally he will try to fight, but the best he has ever done in a battle is using his illusion powers to momentarily distract an enemy...and in one early battle transforming himself into a bow for Kagome to use when her own weapon gets destroyed. As the series goes on, Shippo's abilities become more and more useful. Even against other Kitsune his own age, he stands out and in his first test, he obtains a high rank.
  • Kiddy Grade: Mrs. Padushka. The first time she appears, Éclair and Mrs. Padushka are supposed to escort some classified materials. Mrs. Padushka is both clumsy and anxious, and has little or no bluffing ability.
  • Christmas from Kurau Phantom Memory forms quite a burden for Kurau, despite being her long-awaited pair — that is, until she finally appears to be able to use Rynax-powers herself.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • When a small handful of non-magically trained, ordinary students enter the Magic World without main lead and teacher Negi knowing, he spends most of the Trapped in Another World arc distressed about their safety. Thankfully, they all end up making pactios with Negi by the end of the arc, meaning that while they still can't fight on the front lines, they can at least play a decent support role.
    • In the early Library Island arc, when some of Negi's students dragged him to Library Island to find a magic book to help them pass their finals, the usually powerful Negi becomes The Load because he sealed his magic to avoid the temptation to fix their grades.
  • You may argue this, but in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the disturbing Desil Galette eventually became deadweight for the Vagans when he grew up. Although he was still scary, the way he was developed made him more of a liability than an asset. True to the trope, his Kronos had to be carried away from a battle by his brother, Zeheart. This culiminated to a head when another battle proved to be futile for the Vagan forces and Desil tried to save his ass by using his X-Rounder skills to get other soldiers killed by using them as Vagan shields. Zeheart decided there that his brother had no reason to live anymore and had his entire team leave Desil at the mercy of Asemu Asuno.
  • Pedro and Sancho, Those Two Guys from The Mysterious Cities of Gold. Mendoza's supposed "assistants", they're really just a pair of greedy, incompetent klutzes whose only talents are sniffing out treasure (the only thing they really care about), setting off dangerous traps before anyone can be killed by them, and giving the villains someone to shoot at other than the Kid Hero Power Trio.
  • Naruto
    • Sakura Haruno is a Sasuke-only version. In the very beginning she worried she was becoming this but Took a Level in Badass in Part 2. However, her only major fight in the beginning against Sasori; she hasn't had a major fight since then. But Sakura has done some crucial things. In the war, for example, she's the one who figured out how that the Zetsu have been infiltrating the alliance by disguising themselves. And several prominent side characters such as Hinata, Kankuro, Kakashi, etc. would've been dead if not for her (even Naruto would've been worse for wear had she not healed him after his four tailed transformation and after he used the Rasenshuriken for the first time), not to mention all the help she did when Pain was attacking. Really, it's only when Sasuke is involved that she fits this trope (and even then she tries...just has a hard time succeeding because of her feelings). Even if she isn't the best in all areas of her skill, she still does a lot of good onscreen with them and has received nothing but praise. And in chapter 573, despite what she said before about believing only Naruto can save Sasuke, she promises not to let him fight alone.
    • Karin was a subversion at first. Despite having little combat skill she was treated as Sasuke's most valuable member (mainly thanks to her sensing and healing ability as well as logical skills). This changed in the fight with Danzo where, after being captured, Sasuke sees her squarely as this and tries to off her. (Emphasis on "Sasuke sees her as this". The general conscious within the fandom is: offing your only medic? Yeah, really stupid idea...)
  • One Piece
    • A major theme as the story progress is that the more human characters of the crew (mostly Usopp) gets concerned about becoming The Load, in a Lampshade Hanging of Can't Catch Up.
    • Luffy recently became the load during the Paramount War Saga with everyone constantly having to save him from the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Vice Admirals, and Admirals who were way out of his league.
    • Princess Shirahoshi is a load who, strangely, carries Luffy. Averted when her abilities prove instrumental to saving Fishman island. She couldn't help being a large target for the Big Bad Duumvirate, but her power to control sea kings saved a lot of lives once the Straw Hats took care of the bad guys.
  • Takashi of Ouran High School Host Club is apparently viewed as The Load, by the other members of the Host Club, due to not really doing anything. He himself is unaware of this, until episode 22.
  • Pokémon
    • Misty's Psyduck. While he does occasionally have sudden bursts of competence, in almost all of his appearances he is completely useless and often actually does more harm than good. The fact that he has a bad tendency to eagerly leap from his Pokéball when Misty requires another of her Pokémon, effectively ruining whatever strategy she had, does not help.
    • Max gets a lot of flak for this, too, as he's not a trainer yet and has no Pokémon. At least he gets a couple moments to earn his place, and by the end of Battle Frontier we can assume he'll start training in a couple more years.
  • The Prince of Tennis: Hikaru Zaizen accuses Taka-san of being "Seigaku's dead weight" in the episode titled "Seigaku's Dead Weight".
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica's title character is a rare triple subversion. Despite being the only one of the girls not to make a contract to become a Magical Girl (though she came close in episodes 3 and 8, for different reasons). Episode 10 revealed that she did make contracts in previous timelines. However, because of all the horrors that come with being a Magical Girl, Madoka asked Homura to use her time travel powers to prevent her from making a contract, thus retconning all transformations. In the final timeline, however, she succeeds in making a contract... And her wish to erase all witches (past, present, and future) turns her into a being akin to a god. She is also useful in her own way even without being a Magical Girl. At one point she saves a large group of people afflicted with H.N. Elly's Witch Kiss from committing ritual suicide (though shortly thereafter she requires saving from H.N. Elly herself).
  • Raideen: Akira Hibiki is always surrounded by children who can be counted upon to put themselves in mortal danger every episode.
  • Rose from the anime Red Garden is usually seen cowering in a corner during a fight, screeching her head off. Occasionally she'll try to join in the group's efforts, but only when the opponent is busy grappling with one of the others. Even the slightly precious fashionista, Rachel, gets better results, and she has no qualms about telling Rose how useless she is in a later episode.
  • Mia Koji and Yulie from Ronin Warriors are probably the definitive examples of this trope. Yes, they were both incredibly useful (and became even more so once they acquired an artifact that protected them against bad guys and had taken some levels in Badass). But just their being mundane humans trying to actively participate in a battle where all of the other participants are wearing superpowered armor was enough to make them this trope (especially with the amount of effort the heroes had to take in order to keep them alive. If Mia and Yulie had been useless, the heroes could have just sent them away to safety and could have let loose on the villains as they saw fit.)
  • Fuu from Samurai Champloo. Some may argue that she's the one keeping the group together, but it's undeniable that she can't hold her own against serious opponents. Although this is arguably the point; if Fuu could hold her own, she'd have no need for bodyguards and there would be no show.
  • Pacifica of Scrapped Princess is frequently afraid of being the load, constantly having to be protected by her adoptive sibling bodyguards, Shannon and Raquel. Fortunately, she does turn out to have useful special powers.
  • Yaya Yuiki of Shugo Chara! is often this. It could even be argued that it's somewhat intentional on Yaya's part, since her "would-be self" is a baby, who isn't expected to be able to do anything.
  • Ruby Crescent in 666 Satan apparently was one of these, until that was revealed that she was a Recipe, too.
  • Rui from Telepathy Shoujo Ran arguably qualifies. Sure, he is supposed to have the ability to reduce and amplify psychic powers, but that hardly ever comes into play. Most of the time he acts as a male Damsel in Distress and has to get saved by Ran and Midori numerous times. Worse, he even gets in the way of the Romantic Two-Girl Friendship dynamic between the two female leads — and his personality is pretty bland to boot. He redeems himself somewhat in later episodes, but not by much.
  • Kyousuke Kawachi spends much of his time in Yakitate Japan, playing the role of The Load, since he has less baking talent than the other characters. By the end of the series, Kawachi has realized his incompetence has largely excused himself from the final tournament arc. This realization is a bit depressing because he actually had an epiphany about being a load in the last arc. He went on to win a pivotal battle with sheer willpower and hard work. This apparently was not enough.
    • Even worse, at one point he'd undergone a grueling Training from Hell session to allegedly put him on par with the main character, and challenges him to a baking duel. Sadly, the series decided to end the battle with a gag that meant that Kawaichi didn't even get a chance to have his bread judged. Kawaichi just can't catch a break.
  • Yoriko from Youre Under Arrest.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Mokuba. Kaiba. All he's good for is getting kidnapped. In one memorable instance he actually managed to break himself out and alert Kaiba and Yugi to the whereabouts of the other kidnapped characters.
    • Lampshaded to hell and gone in The Abridged Series, where he even gets a montage of all the times he's been kidnapped.
    Kaiba: (thinking) Hmm. Perhaps I should consider keeping him on a leash.
  • Kotori in Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL tags along in dangerous situations at all times, despite lacking skills of any kind. Her job, for the overwhelming majority of the series, is to stand in the background going "Yuma!" She has a Deck, which she uses all of one time while Brainwashed and Crazy. Theories abound that her voice actress was contractually obligated to appear in every episode.