Owyn from Betrayal at Krondor starts out as this, as the nineteen-year-old kid who's not quite as experienced in dealing with life-or-death situations as his companions, which include a dark elf, a former-thief-turned-royal-special-agent, and a knight and soldier of the realm. He only joins the party because he's a security risk otherwise, and his limited magic skills don't do much to offset the trouble of needing to protect him from getting killed all the time. As soon as he starts picking up some new spells, however, this changes dramatically, and you'll be glad to have him. The "blind" spell that he knows from the beginning is quite useful, though. By blinding some enemies in an attacking group you can momentarily keep them out of the fight and let your fighter characters deal with the remainders one at a time.
Similarly to Carrie, an unlicensed NES and Sega Genesis game titled Bible Adventures (which was 3 games in 1) had a game called "Baby Moses" in which you played as Jochebed (Moses' mom) and had to carry the baby to the end of each stage. Needless to say, Moses doesn't help Jochebed at all.
Snipers dueling each other or sniping enemies strictly to rack up kills is a common problem in a lot of team-based multiplayer games, including Call of Duty and Battlefield, to the point where some players are of the opinion that snipers are completely useless. Of course, there's also a practical point to sniper duels: you have to keep killing the other guy, or at least making yourself a target for him, so that he doesn't start shooting at the rest of your team.
However, whatever the game's objective may be, it's difficult for the other team to accomplish it when they're dead.
Jin in Dead Island is worse than The Load, she's a complete and utter liability that gets several people killed and places you at risk. After reaching Morseby she steals the truck and threatens you until you agree to gather supplies for everyone, resulting in a number of survivors being killed when you do so. Then she gets kidnapped by the gangs when she tries to help them and you have to go rescue her, resulting in the person who went with her from the church dying. Then she releases Ryder White's obviously infected wife and yells at him out of anger, clearly seeing that he was about to be attacked and not warning him, leading to him being attacked and shooting and killing her, before taking the cure which instead transforms him into a monster, and you have to kill him. She can be used to carry items but that's it.
In Dragon Nest, if you complete a dungeon without attacking you get the "Carried through a dungeon. Tsk, tsk." achievement and the Pacifist title.
In Drakengard, both Verdelet and Seere serve this role in their own way. Verdelet is not only the Non-Action Guy despite being considered a party member, he spends the game raving about the impending doom befalling the world and little else (and when he actually tries something, it only leads to the villain going One-Winged Angel in response). Seere serves mostly as a Damsel Scrappy who gets kidnapped and sidetracks the protagonists.
Any thief character in Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon. There are a few locked doors he can open at the very beginning, but after that, there's no real opportunity to use any of the thief special abilities, and you cannot even backstab in combat. As a result, the thief just becomes a very weak, under-armed and especially under-armored fighter. And since you can only have four characters in your party, you are really much better off taking almost anyone else besides a thief. This is a milder example than some of the others, in that a thief isn't totally useless, he's just not as useful as any other option you could take.
Most Fire Emblem games allow you to make anyone light enough (low enough constitution) become The Load to someone with an adequate rescue value by use of the rescue mechanic, which, while useful for moving slow units and well, rescuing units in peril, also halves the rescuer's speed and skill stats (as well as Strenght, Defense and sometimes Movement in Thracia 776). At least it's not as annoying since it's by choice, but irresponsible use can lead to failure.
A straighter example of this occurs in Radiant Dawn near the end of part 1. The main character, Micaiah, becomes this during 1-9 when the bad guys ambush her at night, resulting in Fog of War. The good news is that the Black Knight literally warps in out of nowhere to save your ass, but Micaiah can still be attacked if you're not careful. This is bad considering all of the enemies are fairly powerful physical users, and Micaiah's weak points are speed and defense, as well as a low HP cap. The worst part is that she refuses to be rescued by the Black Knight for... principles, I guess? Despite the fact that you'll pretty much be using him for the entire fight anyway, while Michaiah runs and hides, despite the fact that enemies are never blinded by Fog of War. Still if she could be rescued, the fight would becomes something else entirely.
Played With somewhat, as the whole point of the level is to cap Micaiah before her forced promotion. The good side of this is that if you've prepared well enough and play strategically, she can hit level 20 and max out a few of her stats. If Micaiah is too low a level, it's almost impossible for her to not get killed.
Leanne from Path of Radiance becomes this in one mission, where Ike is forced to carry her the whole time, resulting in the usual rescue penalties.
In GoldenEye 64, Natalya could feel this way at times (like refusing to help you if you kill Boris, who is a BAD guy, thereby guaranteeing the enemies win), but she generally had good health, scripted importance and in some levels was even given a magnum and super aiming skills. The scientists you weren't allowed to kill (unless you wanted to fail the mission) were a much more a straight example, however, since many seemed to almost prefer death to life.
Any character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas who is supposed to shoot at the bad guys while you drive. They all have worse aiming than seems humanly possible. To the point where the "let's go do a drive-by" mission is easier (and quicker) if you just run over the targets. At least Woozie is literally blind. What's everyone else's excuse? Not to mention he arguably has the best aim out of everyone else.
Roman is a pretty obvious candidate for this in Grand Theft Auto IV, what with being the Plucky Comic Relief and his gambling and bumbling causing a lot of problems that Niko must solve. However, it turns out Niko is just as much of a burden on Roman; his impulsive acts of vengeance inadvertently ruin the life his cousin has built for himself in America. They only survive Niko's initial killing of Vlad because the latter is enough of an ass that even Mikhail Faustin didn't like him.
Just count how many times Lamar in Grand Theft Auto V requires Franklin to rescue him, or leads himself and Franklin into an obvious trap or some other harebrained scheme. It's okay, we'll wait.
In Hakuōki, teenaged girl Yukimura Chizuru is taken in by the Shinsengumi and spends a good four to five years tagging along with them. She has almost no combat ability herself, and despite her best efforts to make herself useful by acting as a messenger or medic when the need arises, she's well aware that she's a liability to them — especially when they're forced to leave Kyoto and go to war against the Imperial Army.
In ICO there's Yorda. The shadows are constantly after her and you can't let her die because A) You need her to open doors and B) You instantly die if she's captured. It's very intentional, as the game is a close examination of the trope, gently asking the player to start caring about the girl because she's helpless. In the original game concept, she was blind.
During most of the time in inFAMOUS, Zeke who borderlines being a Millstone just sleeps at his roof top, spouts non-sense conspiracy theories, uses his friendship with Cole to score dates, and even joined Kesseler during the game's twilight hours. He does come back to your side at the end however. Granted, all he does is offer an ineffectual pistol shot against a guy practically immune to bullets. By the end of inFAMOUS 1, Zeke can be a real load for some players. He gets much better presentation in inFamous 2, especially if you finish that game on the Evil side.
King's Quest V gives King Graham a talking owl companion named Cedric to help him in rescuing his kidnapped family. Unfortunately, not only is Cedric completely useless (for the first chunk of the game, he won't even enter any dangerous areas or buildings,) but later on he's constantly getting into trouble and needing to be rescued. The only time he actually does anything useful is when he Takes the Bullet for Graham at the end of the game, and even then he does it unintentionally.
The Carrie bonus missions in Kirby's Epic Yarn. She is a useless ball of yarn that you have to carry throughout the level, and as such, you have to drop her every time you need to defeat an enemy or climb a ladder. It isn't helped by the fact that these missions have a time limit, which is the only way to fail in Kirby's Epic Yarn because you can't die.
Sam in The Last of Us. His older brother Henry's over protectiveness has left him a regular kid who is unable to fend for himself in a world filled with Crazy Survivalists and zombies. He does nothing useful during his time in the party! tagging along and being protected by everyone else, and his inability to defend himself ends up biting him somewhat literally. Ellie starts as this as well, but unlike Sam, she definitely grows out of it.
Play the game in versus mode for a while and eventually you'll come across at least one player who is a complete and total Load who doesn't know how to play the game well, doesn't know how to adapt and learn, doesn't understand that he should be constantly running with the rest of the team instead of idling behind, is always needing to be rescued by his teammates, etc. Players like this are rarely tolerated for long and are often booted from the game by their teammates. You won't be playing for long if you remain so unskilled despite hours of gameplay experience that you're always the source of frustration in your team.
This also applies to co-op as well. Doing newbie mistakes such as using healing items when your health is already in the green (unless you're using them to take an extra item you found), throwing pipe bombs after someone clearly tossed a bile bomb (both bombs attract zombies to an area), constantly throwing molotovs badly that result in setting everyone else on fire, lagging behind or running too far ahead of the team, or not shooting special infected that has another player pinned down are just some of the many examples that will get people to kick you out of the game for being such a burden. Sadly, these kinds of bad tactics is a major attraction for a Griefer.
The bots themselves can be this as well thanks to their Artificial Stupidity. They will keep trying to heal you at the worst time possible (healing you near a Witch, healing you as soon as a Charger is gunning for you, etc.) and you can't move when being healed. Bots will also shove their Pills into your hands in a middle of a heated gunfight which causes you to switch to that item. As for combat, bots have excellent accuracy, but they seem to just freeze up when it comes to certain special infected or forget how to shove zombies away when they get surrounded.
In Legend of Mana, Pearl can't fight at all, and in events that require her, she takes up a slot that could be filled with a more useful character, or even a main character from another game file. Not quite an Escort Mission — you can bring her along on random missions, and the game doesn't care if she gets hit with Non-Lethal K.O. if another character remains standing — but she sure does not pull her weight. Lady Blackpearl, on the other hand...
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ruto literally acts as a load, forcing Link to carry her around and getting caught by enemies. And ironically, is only useful by being a load. Specifically, she is an indestructible and portable weight that can be used to keep switches pressed down. As well as all that, she also damages enemies if you happen to chuck her at them, leading to the ridiculous amounts of awesome that is defeating most of the enemies with the "Ruto Cannon".
Skye from the first Lost in Blue installment is rendered blind after you accidentally step on her glasses. Now you are tasked with not only escaping from a deserted island, but you must feed and care for two people while doing so. Should you ever have to bring her with you on your journey, be prepared to lose all your stamina hauling her butt up the island. Your best bet is to just leave her in the cave, where she'll prepare meals with the food you bring back.
Mass Effect 2: Thane Krios is a very technical example. He's an effective squad mate, especially against the Collectors, but he's also the only member of the team along with Mordin who can't uniquely contribute in any way to everyone's survival of the suicide missionnote Jacob, Miranda, and Garrus are all good candidates to lead the fire teams; Kasumi, Tali, and Legion are good candidates to send through the ventilation shaft so they can open and close the doors for the fire teams in time; Jack and Samara/Morinth are good candidates to hold up the biotic barrier against the seeker swarms; and Garrus, Grunt and Zaeed provide the highest defense bonuses for holding the line, and without Mordin the team wouldn't have survived the seeker swarms on Horizon.
Since Order of the Griffon utilizes something very similar to the classic Gold Box engine, this same trope could be said to apply, to a lesser extent, to most if not all the Gold Box games. Depending on the game, there may be the occasional trap to disarm, and locked doors are relatively common. In the latter case, however, you are likely to have at least one character strong enough to force any locked door. Additionally, backstabbing in combat is hard, although not impossible. Also, the fact that you can have six party members as opposed to just four means it's less of a burden to use one slot on a thief. All in all, though, you will frequently be better off with another frontline combatant or spellcaster.
Bizarrely, you. This is partly due to Atlus' unbelievably sadistic move of 'If the Protagonist falls, it's game over'. As a result, it becomes an absolute imperative to keep the Protagonist alive, at the expense of all others in the party. This often results in the situation where the boss is about to die, but is doing enough damage that you spend all your effort keeping your hero alive rather than doing damage and getting the fight over with. However, you invariably have the most flexible skillset and access to the best skills in the game, which lightens the burden somewhat. The downside comes when you also have to bear in mind your highly variable weaknesses, too.
Naoto Shirogane. Naoto has a brutal movepool of high-power Physical skills, unblockable Almighty magic and instant-kill attacks, making for a perfect Glass Cannon. However, her health isn't great and her defence stat is also very low, so she has a habit of dying a lot. Also, instant-kills don't work on bosses and are luck-based, Almighty spells are very expensive, and her Strength isn't very good so her physical attacks don't actually do too much damage. The Updated Re-release gave her more elemental magic, however, making her far more balanced.
Junpei. With pathetic elemental magic and only mediocre Physical skills for much of Persona 3, he is basically useless. Although he does eventually get limited regeneration, Aigis still outclasses him in every way. FES made him slightly better by making the unique two-handed swords almost perfect fits for him; but there is still essentially no reason to use him.
Professor Harold MacDougal from Red Dead Redemption fits this trope to a T. He's not only a whiny, wimpy and drug-addled racist, he also requires constant protection and creates new problems for players, such as provoking a grizzly bear or being held at gunpoint and used as a human shield. He contributes absolutely nothing during missions, and on top of it all, is ridiculously full of himself, making his departure back to Yale a welcome moment in the game. And when you read the last Newspaper, it is revealed he is kicked out of Yale after going on a drug-fueled rampage. And then he returns to Blackwater just in time for Undead Nightmare where he is going down that empty street to get his bag.
Ashley Graham, from Resident Evil 4. In the game, you return her safely to the White House, which turns out to be as easy as it sounds, for the chirpy First Daughter's heavily prone to danger. Whether she's cowering in fear in the line of fire, being kidnapped by spinning walls, eating up your health items, or shrieking HAAALP! and LEON! when snatched up, it barely justifies the bonus of her company in what can be a very long game.
This is pretty much the reason that, in New Game+, you can choose to put her in a suit of armor that both protects her from ANY damage and is too heavy for the mooks to carry her away. Not only is she just some girl that follows you around now, but you can actually use her as bait now. The only drawback it the noise she makes when she walks, but it's a miniscule price to pay for The Load becoming invincible. Fortunately, the game eventually starts giving the player dumpsters that they can make Ashley hide in so she can keep out of the way.
Maria, Eileen, and Elle in Silent Hill 2, 4, and Homecoming respectively. Eileen's, which takes up the entire second half of the game, can be particularly frustrating; on one hand, she herself is invincible (up until the Final Boss, anyway) and is capable of fighting back. On the other, she can't keep up with Henry because of her injuries, which makes running away from dangerous situations that much more difficult, and she likes to attack everything, including theGhost Victims. It probably doesn't help that all three have a bad case of Artificial Stupidity.
Murray is actually like this in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus — he is a clumsy, cowardly goofball absolutely useless for anything not involving driving, to the point that his job description actually includes the phrase "full-time burden." The later games make him into a boisterousbig guy.
Slippy Toad of Star Fox. He was even nicknamed "Slippy 'The Load' Toad!" It helps that he's pretty popular in Japan. "Slippy just got hit!" Slippy is ALWAYS getting hit. Actually gets lampshaded at the end of the Aquas level in Star Fox 64 where Peppy comments on Slippy's nice work with the Blue Marine (submarine used by Fox in the level) and says "Maybe Slippy's not such a screw up after all!". Naturally this gets Slippy all hot and bothered.
Sword of the Stars II: Non-combat ships like Repair and Salvage or Supply. In the first game, you could stuff a fleet with as many spacecraft as you wanted and only deploy the combat ones. In this installment, though, changes to the system mean that you can only load a fleet with as many craft as your Arbitrary Headcount Limit allows and can't hold non-combatants in reserve. This means that long-range expeditions that require multiple Supply-types will have much less firepower to call on. Unsurprisingly, this has been bemoaned as a Scrappy Mechanic.
Snipers will often start dueling each other to the exclusion of any other matters, such as taking out strategic targets, or helping their team win.
Soldiers have been known to do this on occasion too, though it's far less common.
Particularly bad spies as well, while any other class no matter how bad can at least either absorb bullets or aim in the general direction of the enemy and do at least a little damage, bad spies get caught while trying to sneak around and die without accomplishing anything at all.
Ben from Telltale Games' take on The Walking Dead seems more like an exposition character when he's first introduced in Episode 2, dropping vital information on the characters and mostly staying off the screen. However, by the end of Episode 4, he's somehow managed to fail to protect Clementine at least once AND be the indirect cause of Katjaa's suicide, Duck's death and - depending on who you saved in Episode one - either Carley or Doug's death. His apparent uselessness gets lampshaded in Episode 4.
Clementine: You want me to stay with BEN? Lee: I'm not leaving you with Ben. I'm leaving Ben with you.
However, in a rare instance, Ben also views himself as The Load, since he explicitly states in Ep. 4 that "For once, I want to do something right." Too bad he doesn't live up to that, but at least the sentiment's there.
Eventually in the game you will probably end up doing instances or raids. There is a 99% chance that you will eventually be in a group with The Load who will constantly ignore the group's pleas to stop screwing up or grabbing aggro and will often need to be saved. Others will lag well behind the rest of the party in DPS (including the tanks), compromising a raid's ability to win through a more subtle vector, and will not (or, more charitably, cannot) make improvements. Needless to say, they are often kicked.
The addition of flexible raids made this even more pronounced. Traditional raids were designed for a certain number of people, so only the most incompetent load could manage to be worse than leaving their slot empty. Flexible raids dispense with the Arbitrary Headcount Limit by scaling the bosses' health and abilities to match the number of players in the raid. If a DPS player is not doing enough damage over the course of the fight to compensate for the health increase then the other players are forced to work harder to make up for their presence. And because there is no Arbitrary Headcount Limit it is harder to argue that that they should be kicked since they are not taking up someone else's slot...
Every player who purchases PvP equipment to trick the dungeon finder into believing their item level is high enough for heroic or zandalari random dungeons will inevitably be one of those through inadequate gear. They might also have a lack of skill or bad attitude as bonus. Though this has become averted in Mists of Pandaria thanks to Blizzard finally playing smart with the latest round of PvP gear. Seeing as how actual PvPers didn't want to be completely useless when switching to PvE content when they didn't have any PvE gear (PvP gear in the past replaced a stat with "Reselliance", the reason why PvEers wearing PvP gear was dumb), they instead renamed the PvP stat into "PvP Power" and "PvP Defense" and just had them as additional stats to the two that were already given. This actually proved useful for PvEers that had bad luck in drops to get something to up their item level and to get into LFRs.
Except Caiden Dunwald from World of Warcraft. He wants you to accompany him through what he knows damn well is a twilight ambush. He is so powerful however that he is escorting you.
Harrison Jones from the same game in one quest in Northrend is so Badass that even though you start a quest by getting him out of the cage he's locked in, he ends up escorting you out of the dungeon.
In a similar vein to Dunwald are the quests in Dungeon Fighter Online where you fight alongside the Slayer trainer, GSD. He's incredibly powerful, able to spam the highest-level Asura techniques with no cooldowns and oneshotting everything in his path. It was actually possible to use him as an effective level grinding tool by letting him destroy everything in sight and quitting before the boss room. Aversion indeed.
Cold Fear very nicely averts this with Anna Kamsky thanks to Gameplay and Story Segregation. In story she's wounded and not a good combatant, but during gameplay she can't be killed and has unlimited ammo.
Escort missions in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, unfortunately, are a straight example; your escortee is always level 1 (at least in Rescue Team), they will always attack enemy Pokémon (even when said enemy Pokémon has a type advantage or can otherwise one-shot them), you can't edit their moveset or IQ to help them not make stupid decisions that could get them killed, and you can't give/take away/exchange items with them. Your best bet is to bring along lots of Reviver Seeds and pray that nothing too terrible happens. Also, Pokemon that you've just recruited can turn into this if you forget to turn off any unhelpful moves.
The escort missions in Morrowind are infamous for this. They're ungodly slow and are easly killed.
In any party-based RPG in which you're playing as a mage, during the early levels you are The Load to your party. They have to act as targets and damage-soakers for your enemies because you go down when the wind blows too hard. They have to bash the baddies' heads in when you run out of the few pathetically low-damaging spells you can cast. They have to carry your stuff because your spine would break under the strain. And all the while, somehow everyone important insist on talking to you.
In general, playing co-op/multiplayer games with other players who aren't contributing enough if at all, especially when said game requires the effort of every player in order to succeed. It may be excusable if a player is new to the game or the multiplayer portion of it, but some players may actively try to sabotage their teammates. Thankfully most games allow you to kick such players. This is especially so if the number of players in a team are low, but the skill levels of the players affect their roles (or negatives) by a lot. This translates to having a few player bringing important and far-reaching contributions, but there is this one person who might as well not exist (he might not be bad persay, he's just Can't Catch Up to his teammates). MOBA games such as League of Legends and RTS such as Starcraft, even certain breeds of FPS and action games such as Battlefield and Team Fortress tend to become Teeth-Clenched Teamwork because of this trope.
While CIMA The Enemy is one big Escort Mission, almost every escorted character at least has something they can contribute out on the field, like healing, protecting themselves and other characters, or causing enemies to Fail A Spot Check when it comes to other characters around them. Unfortunately, there are still a few (like Telmia and Phillis) who can't do anything and only exist to be protected, and they tend to have the lowest defense.
In Fallout 2, an optional sexual encounter with a farmer's daughter or son (either is available regardless of the protagonist's gender) will result in a Shotgun Wedding and a new party member. On the upside, they join even if you've reached the Arbitrary Party Limit, so you get another pack mule. On the downside, they have no useful skills, can't fight worth anything, never levels, has low hitpoints, refuses practically all combat instructions, and acts generally creepy and clingy. Fortunately you can lose them by arranging a divorce (fittingly enough, in New Reno), selling them into slavery, or simply having them killed one way or another.
Choice of Zombies is a text based choose your own adventure game where you fight to survive in a Zombie Apocalypse. Along the way you can save a kid (Kayden) and a teenager (Jennifer / Justin, no difference besides gender) from being eaten. Kayden is understandably worthless when killing zombies but can be used to climb through tiny spaces no one else can. Justin however is literally useless and spends most of his time whining and bitching. You are even given the option to throw him to an approaching zombie hoard with the text, "Hmm. Maybe Justin isn't so useless after all." His only purpose is to unlock the Golden Ending in which he accidentally discovers a hidden passageway containing research notes to a zombie cure when blundering around in the basement but even then he is unneeded because Kayden is also able to do so.