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Dilbert

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dilbert17.jpg
An Unlucky Everydude who would be the Only Sane Employee if he hadn't stopped caring about his work years ago. Failure Is the Only Option when it comes to his attempts at dating.

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  • Back from the Dead: During a very early story arc, he was killed by Mother Nature and wild deer before being cloned back to life by Dogbert.
  • Baleful Polymorph: He once got turned into a sheep.
  • Bungling Inventor: Especially in earlier strips, but this attribute occasionally shows up later on as well.
  • Casanova Wannabe: This is taken Up to Eleven in a strip when a girl calls just to tell him she'll never go out with him, even though they never met!
  • Cloning Gambit: Shortly after he gets Killed Off for Real by a deer ordered by Mother Nature, Dogbert inherits Dilbert's cloning machine. With the garbage man's help, Dilbert is cloned back to life from his own garbage.
  • Disappeared Dad: Subverted. He and Dilmom know where he is - he just hasn't had enough to eat at the "All You Can Eat" restaurant. Which he's been living in since December of 1992.
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  • The Eeyore: His main characteristic is to point out how bad everything is and how every effort is doomed to failure. In fairness, he's usually right.
  • Hollywood Dateless: He actually does get out on a date now and then, even post-Liz. But he's still portrayed as useless with women.
  • Insufferable Genius: Convinced that he's always right about everything and not shy about letting everyone else know it.
    Pointy-Haired Boss: I'm getting reports that you're being arrogant in meetings.
    Dilbert: That's because I have a deep understanding of technology and a moral obligation to keep simpletons from ruining the world.
    Pointy-Haired Boss: Maybe you could tone it down.
    Dilbert: There's no kill switch on awesome.
  • Jerkass: What his character has become. He's learned what his coworkers are like and will openly call out their failings to let them know he's factored them into his plans.
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  • Literal-Minded: At times, especially while dating.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Dilbert has killed about half a dozen people, and crushed a microscopic inhabited planet, all by accident.
  • No Mouth: Though the cartoon establishes that his mouth appears only when he's using it (and it has made an appearance in the occasional strip as well).
  • Only One Name: His last name (if he has one is never revealed). Word of God says that the lack of a last name is part of a psychological trick to help readers feel as if Dilbert works at your company.
  • Only Sane Employee: Downplayed. While he's aware of the madness around him and not afraid to respond with biting sarcasm, he doesn't care enough to actually try to make things work, and he wouldn't be able to control the situation if he tried.
  • Only Sane Man: He's the everyman who knows exactly how crazy everything is, both on and off the job.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: We never see his eyes.

Dogbert

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/saint_dogbert.jpg
Dilbert's anthropomorphic dog and foil. An Evil Genius, Heroic Comedic Sociopath and The Barnum who constantly exploits everyone with consummate ease. He is bent on Taking Over The World and succeeded a few times, but relinquished his power because Victory Is Boring.

  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Word of God: "Ultimately, Dogbert will always rescue Dilbert."
  • The Barnum: As far as he's concerned, people are there for his amusement and idiots are there for his profit.
  • Been There, Shaped History: According to a book publisher in the cartoon, he was Deep Throat.
  • The Caligula: Whenever he takes over the world or becomes CEO of Dilbert's company, his guiding leadership principle is For the Evulz.
  • Characterization Marches On: He was originally explicitly Dilbert's pet, complete with walks, attempts at getting him to fetch things, and games of Frisbee. Today, he is officially referred to as Dilbert's "roommate" and Adams remarks that he can't imagine trying to write Dogbert as a pet now.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Even named as such by Scott Adams, himself.
  • Insult Backfire: If you call him "cynical", "superficial", etc.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He regularly acts apathetic towards Dilbert, and often trolls and insults him out of boredom, though Word of God punctuates Dogbert will always bail Dilbert out when things are at their very worst. In the cartoon especially, many of Dilbert's problems are started and then resolved by Dogbert.
  • Karma Houdini: He is prone to ruthless power plays at worst and moments of petty Comedic Sociopathy at best, almost none of which are met with any retaliation. In some cases he seems to voluntarily relent just from how boring it becomes.
  • No Mouth: Much like Dilbert, his mouth is usually invisible, outside talking in the cartoon.
  • Odd Job Gods: Thor showed up to give him the position of God of Velcro in an early strip, although he hasn't actually done anything with the title since.
  • Older Than They Look: In the cartoon- if he was Deep Throat, it makes you wonder how old he actually is...
  • Only Sane Man: Just as cynical as Dilbert, but with any lack of morality, is usually the only one to ever get things done.
  • Opaque Lenses: Like Dilbert, we never see his eyes.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: He has gotten off lightly for various crimes, including murder, due to his wealth.
  • The Tell: Whenever Dogbert is successfully cheating someone, his tail wags.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: To Dilbert, his identical glasses and No Mouth giving him the same vacant look.

Ratbert

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ratbert25.png
A rat adopted by Dilbert who just wants to be loved. Demoted to Extra after the strip started focusing on Dilbert's workplace.

  • Ascended Extra: A rare case of a character being both Ascended Extra and Demoted to Extra. Ratbert was originally intended for only one storyline, involving a laboratory experiment. The character grew on creator Scott Adams, to the point where Dilbert welcomed him to the family. When the strip later became almost entirely about Dilbert's workplace, Ratbert faded into the background.
  • The Caligula: When he was briefly CEO of Dilbert's company. He was fired for dipping employees in varnish and using them as furniture.

Bob the Dinosaur

The Artifact from before the strip began devoting itself to office humor. Used to have a mate named Dawn and a son named Rex, but they fell prey to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
  • The Artifact: There's little place for him in the office environment. He briefly worked at Dilbert's company, in procurement, but this hasn't been mentioned in a while.

Dilmom

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/eeeeeeee.PNG
Dilbert's mother.

Dilbert's company

Pointy-Haired Boss

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/phb.png
His own namesake trope sums it up. Dilbert's nameless boss is dumb, sometimes descending to ditz levels, and utterly sociopathic.

  • Characterization Marches On: For the first two or three years he was a typical Mean Boss, mean and uncaring but not exactly stupid. It took him awhile for his familiar personality to emerge.
    • Reviewers note that as Scott himself grows older and more conservative, PHB is shown in a more positive light, and Dilbert is friendlier towards him.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Sometimes, his stupid questions on potential problems actually turn out to be the right thing to ask. For example, he correctly guesses that their new software will hunt down their payroll data cross the internet and delete it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One episode of the animated series shows him losing a game of chess...to a pineapple.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Started out relatively intelligent, but now he's pretty much a complete idiot.
  • Turing Test: He has failed at least three of them.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Thanks to the Dilbert principle: companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management (generally middle management), in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing. Explained by Dogbert in a 1995 strip, and then fully explored in Scott Adam's book of the same name.

Wally

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wally_dilbert.jpg
The poster child for Dismotivation, Wally is The Slacker and happily exploits his Ultimate Job Security to the fullest extent.

  • Ascended Extra: Wally - or at least, his physical appearance - originally started out as a model for generic employees (akin to Ted, or perhaps Barney Calhoun), and several of Dilbert's co-workers in the early years of the strip bore his appearance. Slowly, however, the individual character emerged, eventually giving form to Wally.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: His schemes to get out of doing work are sometimes convoluted enough to qualify him for Magnificent Bastard consideration... he's obviously a very intelligent guy, just not very motivated.
    • Reality Subtext: Adams stated that he once worked with an extremely intelligent man at Pac Bell, who discovered he'd earn more money from severance than actually working there thanks to a generous employee buy-out program—for the company's worst employees. He stated he was absolutely fascinated by "one of the more brilliant people I've met" working hard at being incompetent, rude, and generally poor at his job to qualify for the buy-out program.
  • Charlie Brown Baldness: He only has a few strands of hair.
  • Cynical Mentor: To Asok.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Was once forced to cut back to 40 cups of coffee a day.
    Not Double Digits!
  • Opaque Lenses: His glasses don't show his eyes.
  • Professional Slacker: When someone questions him on the fact that he puts actual research into his excuses, he replies, "I'm not lazy, I'm useless. There's a big difference."
  • The Slacker: Self-described as such. Since the benefits package is so good, he doesn't even care if he gets fired, yet he never does. The result is Wally is completely useless at his job. Not that he minds.
  • The Sociopath: Has described himself as one on one occasion, and certainly has no qualms about causing other people problems for his own laziness or entertainment.
  • Turing Test: Once wrote a bot program that would respond to his emails for him while he was allegedly telecommuting. It took four months for management to figure out that they were talking to a machine because the responses the program gave were just as useless as the ones Wally himself produced.
  • Ultimate Job Security: And he knows it. Because Wally knows he can't get fired, he puts in only the bare modicum of effort to his job, if that. And yet, for all his slacking, the Pointy-Haired Boss never even threatens to fire him, let alone actually do it.
    • In the series he's been at the company for almost thirty years and is the only one who knows how their legacy mainframe works, along with being the only COBOL programmer.

Alice

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/alice22.jpg
Workaholic who responds to the hopelessly clueless of the workplace with her "Fist of Death".

  • Reality Warper: On occasion, she's managed to break reality through sheer rage, once snapping a man's suspenders so hard he was thrown into the next Tuesday. She also once slapped a man so hard he traveled back in time.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: She regards a rare compliment as making everything worthwhile. Then the PHB said he was going to put her work in the back-up material...

Asok

An intern from India, Asok is The Pollyanna and a Bollywood Nerd. He has genius-level IQ (and psychic powers), but is naïve when it comes to the company's bureaucracy and incompetence.

  • Psychic Powers: In the Noughties a Running Gag developed that his time at "the" Indian Institute of Technologynote  had left him with telekinesis and the ability to make people's heads explode by thinking about it.
  • Suddenly Sexuality:
    Dogbert: "The supreme court of India recently voted to uphold a law making it a crime to be born gay. To commemorate that hopelessly ignorant decision, Asok the Intern is now officially gay. Okay, we're done here."
    Asok: "Good, because I have a lot of gay stuff to do."
  • Token Minority: Adams has said Asok was an attempt at an aversion - he worried that adding any ethnic minority character would provoke backlash because all his characters have amusing flaws and people might regard those flaws as being a stereotype - so Asok's flaw was 'inexperience', which was obviously temporary. Naturally, due to Fan Dumb, he was still blasted as a negative stereotype to start with.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Asok seems to think he works at a normal company.

Catbert

The evil Director of Human Resources.

Carol

Not so much a Sassy Secretary as a Bitter Secretary Who Hates The World, Everyone In It And The PHB In Particular. Constantly messes with the PHB, sometimes plotting to kill him, while doing her job in the most haphazard way possible.

  • Ultimate Job Security: Justified. She's the only one who knows how to fill out termination paperwork, so the PHB can't fire her without her help. She can't get promoted, either; in one strip she gets her MBA, but the boss informs her that the stigma of having worked as a secretary means the company won't employ her as anything else.

Loud Howard

A minor character appearing in a few strips he became an Ascended Extra in the TV Show. His main distinguishing feature was that he was extremely loud.

Tina the Tech Writer

Introduced as a Straw Feminist (her introductory strips literally dared readers to become as offended as possible), she is now mostly played as simply The Chick, in contrast to Alice.

  • Dumbass Has a Point: Tina is portrayed as unreasonable when she's interacting with Dilbert, Wally, or Alice. When she interacts with the PHB, however, Tina is played as the sane one.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Her main schtick, especially in earlier strips.
  • Insistent Terminology: Tina will tell anyone who regards her as an Office Lady (that's everyone, by the way) that she's an "experienced technical writer".
  • Never My Fault: Anything and everything wrong with her life can be blamed on misogyny. She has to actively ignore that Alice makes more money than her.
  • Only Sane Man: When assigned to do the employee newsletter, she points out her co-workers are Asok and Ratbert, and there's no way the assignment will succeed. It doesn't.
  • Straw Feminist: Although not the stereotypical man-hater type. Instead, Tina is an illogical hypocrite who uses sexism as a scapegoat. Although this was her original defining character trait, it has since mostly fallen by the wayside. In the commentary for these strips Adams claims he wasn't even aware this was a stereotype at the time; the joke was supposed to be that she had a brittle personality in general.
    • Adams then made "Antina" (anti-Tina) as a response to people who thought Tina was a swipe at feminism. Antina was everything Tina was not - which immediately drew complaints that Antina was a swipe at Butch Lesbians. It's interesting to note that Antina was one of the very, very few times Dilbert's tie drooped downward.

Ted The Generic Guy

A personality-less employee used in situations which would otherwise require a one-off character. Has thus been fired and killed a number of times, but it never sticks. Scott Adams has joked that there must be more than one Ted in the company.

The CEO

A guy with a tall bald head who makes the PHB seem like a kind person in comparison. There have been several different CEOs in the series with the same appearance and personality, making him an upper-management version of Ted.

  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: While he isn't much smarter than his underling, PHB, he misuses his power and is much more ambivalent to the state of affairs in the office.
  • The Faceless: For most of the strip.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Stupidity: The Pointy Haired Boss claimed that a good manager will always hire people smarter than them and Dilbert pointed out that that must mean the CEO is the dumbest person in the company.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • He once misunderstood Dogbert's advice to take a poison pill and consumed a literal poison pill, killing himself. He showed up again good as new with no explanation a long time later.
    • With Dogbert's sinister encouragement, he has also bungee jumped into a volcano, presumably burning to death, with Dogbert finding his replacement. He reappears later with no explanation.
    • Dogbert is hired to assassinate him. He later comes back, once again with no explanation, but it is Lampshaded that he came back from the afterlife, and implied that he's a demon.
  • You Have Failed Me: Once tells the PHB these exact words over a blog that was proving an embarrassment to the company.

Robot

The office robot, who first appears to take over Wally's functions.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: It has on occasion gone rogue due to mistreatment or misuse.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: It first appears as a potential replacement for Wally and frequently tells its colleagues that the day they get replaced by robots is near.
  • Kent Brockman News: It is the host of "Robots Read News", a comic Scott Adams occasionally posts to his blog, and often plays this role.
  • The Singularity: Dilbert teaches him how to program. Alice points out that this could easily result in this danger.

Topper

One of Dilbert's coworkers, with the annoying habit of trying to outdo everyone at everything.

  • The Ace: Or so he claims. Whatever anyone else has accomplished, he's supposedly done something orders of magnitude more impressive.
  • Catchphrase: "That's nothing!"
  • Flat Character: Whatever someone says, he has to say something more extreme. That appears to be his entire personality.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is Topper, and he has to top everything.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Always wears an annoying, smarmy smirk.

Other

Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light

An Odd Job God who rules Heck and punishes minor sins. Also the PHB's brother.

  • The Artifact: He generally had more to do before office humor took over.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Has done this to people many times. One of his crueller punishments to people at Dilbert's company is to do nothing whatsoever.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "I Darn you to Heck." This is, indeed, distinct from hell in more than just name; while hell is, well, hellish, heck is mildly unpleasant, such as being forced to sit in a mostly empty room with no magazine and a temperature slightly above comfortable. He even wields a spoon instead of a pitchfork.
  • Odd Job Gods: He's in carge of a realm called Heck and part of his duties involve punishing people for minor misdeeds.
  • Sadistic Choice: Once tried to force this on Dilbert, making him choose between being poorly paid but appreciated or well-paid but having all his work destroyed at the end of the day. It backfired - Dilbert claimed that both choices were better than his current job.

The World's Smartest Garbageman

An extremely intelligent man who seems to be something of a mentor to Dilbert.

  • Almighty Janitor: He's apparently the smartest man in the world, or close to it; when asked why he's a garbageman, his answer is basically "you wouldn't understand, because you're not the smartest man in the world"
  • Crazy-Prepared: He keeps a sample of Dilbert's DNA around, just in case Dilbert ever gets turned into something.
  • Mentor: He appears every time that Dilbert needs some kind of help.

Liz

Dilbert's first and only steady girlfriend, a materials engineer who meets Dilbert at a co-ed soccer game. She appeared in the comic from 1994 to 1996.

  • Flat Character: The major reason Liz's existence was so short-lived; Adams couldn't figure out quite what to do with her.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Liz is a materials engineer who frequently speaks to Dilbert in science jargon.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend: Dilbert once claims that their relationship violates the laws of the Universe.
  • Will They or Won't They?: In August '94 Adams started a reader poll asking whether Dilbert should go all the way with Liz or not. Female fans were practically unanimous in their voting that Dilbert should do the deed, but male fans were split. Half said he should, while half reported they used Dilbert's luck in relationships as a measurement for their own nerdiness, and they thought "Dilbert shouldn't get lucky before I do." Surprised by the polarized reaction, Adams decided on an ambiguous answer. This strip resulted. The 'down' tie was meant to be a code that Dilbert and Liz had sex, but the way it's presented is that any fan can draw the conclusion they prefer.


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