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Beleaguered Assistant

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"Damn it Kif, where's the little umbrella? [...] Make me a new one."
Archer: Woodhouse, what're you doing?
Woodhouse: Uh, sitting down sir.
Archer: What, at the table? Like people?!
Malory: Sterling!
Archer: What? He thinks he's people!

For every bumbling investigator, overly idealistic hero, delusional superior or short-sighted "mastermind," there's an assistant, that one guy who has to do all (or most) of the work, deal with the consequences of his boss' antics, and generally play clean up. As a result of having to deal with his boss' foolishness, this character is continually exasperated, and would probably rather be anywhere else. On the bright side they singlehandedly keep their side relevant.

Expect this kind of character to be a Servile Snarker and/or a master of the Face Palm. Related to the Sassy Secretary. Not the same as a Hypercompetent Sidekick, who, despite the fact that they work their butt off for little pay and no credit, is generally fine with the way things are. The Beleaguered Assistant is not, and would probably have called it quits a long time ago, but stays around either out of a sense of duty, having been assigned to his post by the military or another authority, or because they owe their boss, or someone else, a fairly big favor, or simply out of fear for the repercussions (being labeled a deserter or being jobless). If he's ever granted free time, expect him to be pulled from his day off.

Some Beleaguered Assistants treat their boss with contempt and rudeness, yet the boss simply ignores them because they are either too stupid to notice or don't care. Alternately, they act as if they are delighted to help, and hate themselves for it.

Note that the more incompetent or clueless the boss is, the more likely this type of character will show up, though less incompetent (and more hyperactive) characters can have these as well.

Often the Only Sane Man, the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder, and The Reliable One. Only Sane Employee is when this character has far more to deal with than just his incompetent boss, while Beleaguered Boss is in charge of a bunch of idiots/lunatics/mavericks. A good character to use when determining whether other characters are Nice to the Waiter. See also Conservation of Competence. Contrast Professional Butt-Kisser. If they are male and their employer is female they may be half of Mistress and Servant Boy relationship.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair, Sakaki is this to his hopelessly idiotic, useless master Raji.
  • In Code Geass, Cecile Croomy is this to Lloyd Asplund. Often turned up to memetic levels in the Fanon.
  • Reever Wenham in D.Gray-Man is this to his Mad Scientist boss Komui Lee. When Komui is left to his own devices, he tends to lose important paperwork and wander off to build Schizo Tech robots.
  • In the anime adaptation of Lucky Star, Minoru Shiraishi is Akira Kogami's assistant on Lucky Channel. Much of the dynamic between them involves Akira, an Idol Singer who's extremely jaded about show business, dropping her cute facade and berating Shiraishi whenever he accidentally says something that annoys her. He puts up with her abuse for 19 straight epsiodes, until he eventually snaps and Trashes the Set in episode 21 when he's finally had enough.
  • Rumiya to his sister Ramia in Magical Project S.
  • Elise of Nodame Cantabile has to rein in her Lovable Sex Maniac boss Stresemann, even flying around the world to drag him back to Germany for work.
  • Ijyuuin from Team Medical Dragon is this minus the snark.
  • Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss is this to the energetic, prone to act without thinking heroine, Nanami.
  • Tono to Issho could be called Beleaguered Assistants: The Anime, since 95% of all the retainers count. In particular, Kagetsuna and Shigezane have become so used to Masamune's bizarre behaviour they rarely even try to prevent it any more.
  • Artemis and Luna from Sailor Moon have elements of this. They are the ones that tell their protegees, Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus, how to do their work, are very snarky towards them and have to deal with their major obliviousness and clumsiness. Somewhat subverted since Moon and Venus are still good at their job and acknowledge their cats' efforts and accomplishments, Also, while Luna and Artemis (usually the former) can be very rude and tell them explicitly what they think of them, they are still are very fond of each other.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun's Nozaki is a pretty competent mangaka, however he nonetheless acquires a cast of assistants who put up with his eccentricities. Of course, they each have their own share of eccentricities.
    • Hori takes the cake in being the most beleaguered of his assistants. Where the others are merely in charge of things such as inking and adding tone or effects, Hori is landed with the task of drawing all of Nozaki's backgrounds because Nozaki doesn't know how to draw them himself. And on top of that Nozaki doesn't even give adequate instructions on what needs to be drawn most of the time.
    • In chapter 59, we get to see that Mayu is even too lazy to reply to cell phone text, and entrusts his schoolmate Kobayashi to text on his behalf.
  • Ibushi Arima in Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, who spends most of his time managing his highly-strung fellow World Dominators, Kinshiro and Akoya.
  • In act-age, Hiiragi Yuki, Sumiji's diminutive assistant, does respect him as a film director but clearly needs a break when it comes to his way of managing things − which includes refusing jobs as long as he hasn't found the acting prodigy he needs or outright abducting said prodigy if he can. She tries to be his voice of reason, but often in vain. It doesn't help that protagonist Kei, a wannabe actress, can be just as nuts − only in a different way.
  • In Bloom Into You, Tomoyuki Ichigaya, an alumnus of the main characters' high school, reveals he was this to his Student Council President, Touko's older sister when they served on the student council together. He claims that the president had him and the others do most of the work while she did speeches and the other "fun" parts, and even had them do her summer homework for her. Despite knowing that it was often a pain, he looks back on that time fondly.
  • Corporal Giroro to Sgt. Keroro in Sgt. Frog, especially in the dub. When you have a leader who would rather play with Gundam than focus on his major goal in life, you're pretty much like the corporal as well.
  • It’s revealed in the manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap that the Big Bad Vaati was this to Ezlo, and eventually got so fed up with him that he stole his magic hat and set off to steal the Light Force next.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, the long term employees at the Money Bin are this to Scrooge. They don't really hate working for him (in fact they show nearly absolute loyalty to him), it's just that they work directly under a workaholic that just doesn't know how to slow down and have to work at his rhythm, and in spite of the extreme level of skills they had to obtain their jobs they don't always manage to keep up.
  • Iron Man: Pepper Potts for Tony Stark at times. It's apparently bad enough that Pepper's fiance hated Tony for "ruining" Pepper's life, and this hatred made him a worthy candidate for a Mandarin ring.
  • Storm: The Dutch comic has Visfil, who is violently blamed for absolutely everything bad that happens to his master.
  • X-Men: Major Domo from the various x-books, beleaguered by his psycho-megalomaniac boss Mojo and his junior, Minor Domo.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: Dilbert is this to the Pointy-Haired Boss, at least in early strips. Dilbert's learned to game the system to a degree by using his manager's own stupidity and arrogance against him, so Asok took over that role for a while until he became Wally's apprentice. Alice, who stubbornly refuses to put her sanity before her work ethic is the one who fits this best currently.
  • Peanuts: Woodstock is occasionally one of these to Snoopy.
  • Nodwick: Henchmen have this as their stock in life: They're stuck hauling implausibly large amounts of loot and being used as monster bait for various adventurers, but are contractually obliged to stick to their employers to the degree that they're not allowed to pass on to the afterlife as long as there's any chance of them being brought back to life.
    • Nodwick himself skirts between this trope and Hypercompetent Sidekick because he does care for his employers — at least somewhat.
  • Retail: When Marla was assistant manager to Stuart, she was always doing all his work and getting none of the credit for it. The few times she was on vacation, Stuart tried to push the job onto Val, despite Val's protests. Now that Marla's the manager, she tries not to do this, unless her assistant manager of the moment annoys her too much.

    Fan Works 
  • One strange d20 crossover game included the Goa'uld Hermes, whose First Prime Autolycus was a Beleaguered Assistant charged with ensuring that his boss' insane antics didn't get either of them killed.
  • Cheshire (Miraculous Ladybug): During the Darkblade fight, Marinette as the Temporary Turtle Hero Bixi have to deal with Misterbug's lack of a plan and Darkblade's knights, that included the corrupted King Monkey and Queen Bee and protect the civilians in the City Hall.
  • My Hero Academia: Mechanical green: While he's more their Intern than an actual assistant, Shuichi Iguchi is pretty much stuck as this to the Wild Wild Pussycats, largely due to half of them being single adult women who relentlessly flirt with him while having a bet over who will get to him first. When Izumi properly meets him for the first time, he's practically begging Izumi to help him before Ryuko drags him off, and Shino telepathically communicates her desire to marry him when telling Kantō how she isn't married yet. It gets worse once the group is hired to teach at UA, as he now has to deal with Nemuri, and ends up learning about Clair Voyance being a Covert Pervert.
    Shuichi’s face hit the table. Why does this keep happening to him? Why does he keep ending up working for horny women? First, it was two-fourths of the Wild, Wild Pussycats, then it was UA with Midnight, and now it was Clair Voyance with this Dreadnought case.
  • The Story of Twilight Glow: Twilight, who in this story is born an Earth Pony, becomes this to Nightmare Moon. She spends much of the story trying to rein in Nightmare's ruthlessness and megalomania.
  • In Scarlet Lady, Tikki, Chat Noir, and Sabrina all find themselves in this position to Chloe:
    • Tikki is the source of all of Chloe's powers as the Nominal Heroine, forced to work with her in order to protect Paris (not because nobody better was available, but because Chloe stole the Earrings from Marinette without realizing what they were). Though she tries to guide Chloe into becoming a better person, all her efforts are in vain, and she has more luck passive-aggressively lashing out and snarking at her holder.
    • Chat Noir finds himself forced to handle the bulk of the work fighting akumas while Scarlet Lady hogs the credit for saving the day. The two of them are trapped in Teeth-Clenched Teamwork — like it or not, she's the only one who can use Miraculous Ladybug, and if he left it all to her, Paris would be doomed. So all he can do is snark and insult Scar's incompetence.
    • Sabrina, meanwhile, is stuck trying to compensate for Chloe's mysterious disappearances and increasingly erratic behavior. Though not as openly snarky as Tikki or Chat, she has developed a bit of a First-Person Smartass side, making comments and observations to herself about the questionable nature of her 'friend's' choices.
  • She's Not So Famous: Before she became famous, Blaineley (then known as Mildred or Millie) was an intern at a local news station who ran errands for the crew, who would frequently berate her over small mistakes. Due to this and her belief that she deserves to be in front of the cameras, she skips the morning coffee run to follow a young pop star in hopes of getting candids and showing her superiors up. At the end of the fic, while the lead anchor chews her out for skipping her duties, Millie does seem to impress her producers by blackmailing Chris's mother with unflattering photos she took on set.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sir Hiss in Disney's Robin Hood (1973). He's Prince John's advisor and the frequent target of his abuse.
  • Igor (2008) is about an Igor who hopes to rise above his station as Beleaguered Assistant and become a Mad Scientist himself. Has his own beleaguered assistants in the form of dim-witted Brain and Deadpan Snarker Scamper.
  • Lawrence to Prince Naveen in The Princess and the Frog, so much so that he ends up scheming with Dr. Facilier to get rid of him.
  • Gromit in the Wallace & Gromit series is a Silent Snarker dog who has to save his boss Wallace from dangerous situations that he usually brings upon himself.
  • Zootopia: Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether describes herself as "a glorified secretary" who "never gets to do anything that's important", and Mayor Lionheart treats her disdainfully. This helps turn her into The Resenter and fuels her Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Assistant: The film follows Jane, the new assistant of a Bad Boss in a film production studio. She works herself to the bone, endures her boss's abusive behavior, and must remain silent about his Casting Couch tactics if she hopes to have a career.
  • Number 2 from Austin Powers. To wit, in the intervening years between when Dr. Evil was frozen and thawed, Number 2 had managed to turn his company into a legitimate business easily worth many times more than what Dr. Evil could manage.
  • To a lesser extent, Semmi in Coming to America. He likes Prince Akeem and their relationship is more of a friendship than a boss-assistant one, but he still wishes he wasn't his servant as it means he must follow all of Akeem's decisions no matter how much he disagrees.
  • Andy Sachs to Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.
  • Il Tuttofare (The Factotum) is a 2018 italian movie centered on young Beleaguered Assistant Antono Bonocore, who is faced with a moral quandary when his Bad Boss wants him to marry the boss's argentinian girlfriend, who the boss is cheating on his wife with, in order to get her italian citizenship.
  • Hercule Lajoy is one of these to Clouseau in the second Pink Panther film, A Shot in the Dark.
  • The Secretary Bird in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
  • Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show exemplified this trope and takes it a step further in the end.
  • Planchet, as portrayed by Roy Kinnear, in The Three Musketeers and its two sequels. Became a bit Harsher in Hindsight when he died after being thrown from a horse during the filming of the third one.
  • Pepper Potts from Iron Man. While she does end up running Stark Industries as the CEO by the end of Iron Man 2, there was no indication it was ever going to happen; Tony just dumped the job on her. The only reason she stuck around for all those years is because she was in love with Tony.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, Marcia Jeffries is, in Mel Miller's words, "the little wheel of efficiency without which the great streamline express called Lonesome Rhodes plunges off the track and leaps to destruction." She tries to prevent him from firing people on a whim, and helps ensure that he doesn't embarrass himself by venting his most egotistical opinions on the air... until she has had enough and allows him to do just that.
  • In Maps to the Stars, Agatha begins as the perky, attentive assistant to a needy actress; by film's end, she is playing the trope straight, and finally hits a Rage Breaking Point.
  • Set It Up: Both Harper and Charlie are this to their bosses Kirsten and Rick. They're forced to work around the clock catering to their every need and doing several demeaning tasks. The plot kicks off when the two meet and decide to get Kirsten and Rick to date so they can finally have some free time. The film even opens with a montage of other assistants who are in the same boat as them, answering to their bosses' every demand no matter how ridiculous.
  • M3GAN: Kurt to toy company executive David, who constantly demeans him and throws his things around. It drives Kurt to steal company secrets and allows M3GAN to frame Kurt for David’s murder.
  • Somebody I Used to Know: Ally's assistant Kayla is on the receiving end of the high-strung Ally's demands and has to handle the streaming service pitch on her own because Ally is distracted by the wedding. Kayla is rewarded by getting the reins of Dessert Island's fourth season. In addition, Ally is notably kinder to her assistants on her next show.

    Game Shows 
  • Taskmaster has the titular Taskmaster's assistant, Alex Horne. He's constantly belittled by Greg Davies, talked down to and taunted as "little Alex Horne," is apparently still decades away from his first raise (and it's implied he may not even be paid at all), is physically abused, verbally abused, psychologically abused, yelled at for little (if any) reason, occasionally kept on a tether, often forced to do demeaning tasks like fan the Taskmaster (and then get yelled at for doing it), and is often made to do completely pointless tasks (like wink and grin after every word) purely for the Taskmaster's amusement. Not to mention he is the one who does all the work during the tasks and is often forced into awkward, humiliating, and demeaning positions by the contestants, while the Taskmaster sits on his laurels, and the Taskmaster's habit of being biased in favor of, to the point of rewarding bonus points, to contestants who sufficiently abuse Alex during their tasks.

  • Sancho Panza to Don Quixote.
  • Discworld:
    • Ponder Stibbons among the faculty of Unseen University. Described as "the one person in the organisation who knows what's going on and why it's happening and who's doing it, although he often wishes he didn't"
    • This gets to the point where he's accumulated enough of the jobs no one feels like doing that he has a majority vote.
    • Before Stibbons, there was the Bursar, Dr. A. A. Dinwiddie, but the strain of working under Archchancellor Ridcully proved too much for him and he'd completely snapped by Reaper Man.
  • Abner Dowling, General Custer's adjutant in the first few novels of Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series. He frequently has to explain to an oblivious Custer that sending wave after wave of your own men charging across an open field at machine gun nests is probably not a good idea. Also, Custer's career survives by being politically savvy, plus one enormously lucky victory that finally breaks the stalemate and wins the Great War.
  • In Pugs of the Frozen North, the villain Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling has his butler, Sideplate, help him cheat, even though Sideplate would rather they race and win honestly.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Ivan often finds himself cast in this role to Miles, though Miles is by no means incompetent:
      Gregor: As you know, an Imperial Auditor may request anything he pleases. The first thing he requested was an assistant. Congratulations.
      Ivan: He wanted a donkey to carry his luggage, and the first ass he thought of was me.
    • Even worse, after Gregor gets engaged, Ivan gets seconded to act as his mother's assistant in the wedding planning.
  • Fisk to Michael, in the first book of the Knight and Rogue Series, where they put more emphasis on their 'knight and squire' relation. Fisk eventually develops into more of a perpetually exasperated friend.
  • Aliette de Bodard's Obsidian & Blood trilogy has Ichtaca, the priest responsible for everything the High Priest of the Dead cannot be bothered to do. He basically, and grudgingly, runs the temple while Acatl, said High Priest, is off investigating things, and uses every opportunity to remind Acatl that he really should stop running away from his social duties as High Priest.
  • One Nation, Under Jupiter: Servius, forced to work as Diagoras' slave during his quest to debunk the gods despite still believing in them himself.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Lift insists that Wyndle, her Bond Creature, is a Voidbringer she trapped, and now he has to do what she says. He's not.
    Wyndle: I wanted to pick a distinguished Iriali matron. A grandmother, an accomplished gardener. But no, the Ring said we should choose you. "She has visited the Old Magic," they said. "Our mother has blessed her," they said. "She will be young, and we can mold her," they said. Well, they don't have to put up with—
    Lift: Shut it, Voidbringer.
  • Nero Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin views himself as this to Wolfe — not entirely without reason. While Wolfe is no fool or incompetent, he is very eccentric, lazy and demanding, expects Archie to do all the grunt investigation busywork that he can't be bothered to do (often without fully appreciating just how difficult this might be for Archie), sends Archie running around the city at all hours of the day or night in search of clues, evidence, or whatever Wolfe wants at that given moment, keeps vital information back from Archie until it suits him, and drops him into situations that get tricky very quickly and require Archie to think on his feet to try and get out of them. Needless to say, Archie usually responds to all of this with generous helpings of sarcasm.
  • The Supervillainy Saga: Specifically, Tales of Supervillainy: Cindy's Seven, has this. In a humorous bit of role-reversal, former henchwench Cindy dragoons a fellow supervillain, Dana Vandergast AKA Damselfly, into being her sidekick. Dana is an Antivillain who just wants to get out of supervillainy but bullied into being part of a massive heist.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Kyon often serves as this to Haruhi whenever she has an idea for an activity and needs someone to do the grunt work. One of the few cases where the Beleaguered Assistant is the main character.
    • Itsuki may count as well, despite his apparent eagerness and his asskissing (as Kyon sees it) on the inside he finds her actions to be quite exhausting.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Beverly Hillbillies: Originally, Mr. Drysdale is a responsible, intelligent banker. However, in later years he turns into an odious, deceitful, moneygrubbing maniac. Cue Miss Hathaway's transformation from his trusted and respectful confidante to a beleaguered assistant.
  • Rules of Engagement: Timmy to Russell. While Russell is more Brilliant, but Lazy than grossly incompetent, he makes Timmy miserable by constantly having him complete degrading tasks under the guise of "mentoring" him.
  • Selfie inverts this, Henry Higgs is a talented worker, and his assistant Charlie, a little goofy, lanky, and not exactly on the ball. He says his parents are in town to get out of work (Henry, newly on Facebook, finds out through a posted video), and when he's very willing to participate in a flashmob for a co-worker:
    Henry: The flashmob is off. Find Larry!
    Charlie:But then I'll never get to do this. [shoots confetti out of his sleeves]
    Henry: Clean all of this up. [leaves. Beat. Comes back] Find Larry first, and then clean all this up.
  • Ryan sometimes played this role to Michael in the early seasons of The Office, demonstrating more knowledge of the business world than Michael. He would eventually become Michael's boss.
  • From Blackadder:
    • Baldrick would be this toward Blackadder if he weren't too stupid to realize he was beleaguered.
    • In Blackadder the Third, Mr. Blackadder is the put-upon assistant to The Ditz Prince George, being forced to help the oblivious prince survive from day to day while getting his own back in petty ways.
    • Captain Darling to General Melchett in Blackadder Goes Forth, needing to deal with the impetuousness and childish inconsistencies of his superior while desperately trying to preserve the shreds of his dignity.
  • The title character in Merlin embodies this trope. He runs around doing Arthur's chores, including extremely demeaning ones, while Arthur insults him and throws things at him. When Arthur wants to shirk his royal duties, it's Merlin's job to cover for him — which has more than once landed him in the stocks. And of course he spends most of the series repeatedly saving Arthur's life. Using his very illegal magic that he could be killed for having. Possibly on the orders of Arthur himself. And he gets no credit for any of this. It Makes Sense in Context why Merlin puts up with all this. Mostly.
  • Leo from Fairly Legal. Not that Kate is incompetent, she just does not stick to schedules very well (she is always late, or haring off to do some other task), leaving him to juggle the various conflicts till some resolution can be reached.
  • Galileo: Kuribayashi for Yukawa. Unlike most cases, though, Yukawa is clearly the more competent of the two, and Kuribayashi's frustrations come from trying to keep him focused on his coursework instead of helping out the police.
  • Ted from Scrubs, officially he's the hospital's in-house counsel, but Dr Kelso largely treats him as a lackey, including making him run errands and help unload delivery trucks. Partially justified since Ted is so incompetent at his actual job that Kelso prefers to make him just do menial tasks.
  • The Taiwanese Series Fated to Love You. Xi Yi never says no, so ends up handling all the menial tasks in her office, plus fetching coffee and lunch, and working into the late night hours doing the work of her other coworkers.
  • Lee Yeon Jae from the Korean Series Scent of a Woman pretty much is dumped on by the entire staff of the travel agency she works at, as well as being sexually harassed by her boss.
  • Teo, the assistant of Johnny Tolengo. It's hard being the assistant of such a greedy rich man
    Tolengo: Teo, the cofee you served is cold.
    Teo: Wait a moment sir, I will warm it right away!
    Tolengo: No, forget it, I will drink it as it is.
    Teo: But sir, it is not a problem for me to warm it.
    Tolengo: It is not a problem for you, but I don't get the gas for free.
  • I'm Alan Partridge has Lynn, Alan's mousy and much put-upon personal assistant, who puts up with all his antics and is responsible for everything from negotiating jobs to delivering fungal foot powder.
  • Nada from The Librarians (2007), who actually gets the library in something approximating order in those times when Frances isn't around.
  • Kluen Cheewit: Jeerawat's coordi P'Suki has to put up with pushy producers, timelines, murder attempts, pushy relatives, and still has to keep Jeerawat on time and beautiful for her acting roles.
  • "Daddy's Assistant" in The Latest Buzz, who is constantly getting bizarre requests foisted on him by Amanda, and—to a lesser extent—her father. When he finally appears on screen in the series finale, he is haggard and old before his time.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Happy Families", the Victim of the Week's executive assistant complains that he was treated like dirt and never appreciated by his boss, even though he was the one who was really keeping the company running. Of course, as he was Stealing from the Till and about to be exposed, how much of this was true and how much justification is unclear.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • Beaker to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew on The Muppet Show.
    • From The Muppets (2015) onward, Uncle Deadly is Miss Piggy's main assistant. He usually manages to deal with her, but sometimes even he can only do so much.
      Taye Diggs: She scares me.
      Deadly: You have no idea...

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Dancer", Miss Brooks discusses with Mrs. Davis the fact that Mr. Conklin can never hold onto a secretary. Fed up with being yelled at by the hotheaded principal, they inevitably quit. The newest secretary quit before she started, she heard Mr. Conklin yelling at her predecessor. The result? Miss Brooks is forced to play the role of Mr. Conklin's beleaguered assistant when he finds himself without a secretary . . . Hilarity Ensues.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Obyron is the chief bodyguard of the Necron general Zahndrek, a strategic genius whose old age has unfortunately addled his circuits to the point where he believes he's back in the era of Necron dynasties fighting each other and hallucinating that enemy leaders are Necron nobles to be ransomed as prisoners of war. Obyron has no such delusions, and repeatedly either has them killed or quietly released before reporting to his boss that the prisoners have regrettably been killed while attempting to escape.

    Video Games 
  • Several Touhou Project Ninja Maid or Battle Butler characters are like this.
    • Perhaps worst of all is Sakuya Izayoi, who has to constantly use her superpower to keep the mansion in its Bigger on the Inside status, plus use time stopping to clean it because their army of fairy maids are all completely useless, plus cater to her selfish boss Remilia's every whim, plus keep Enfant Terrible Flandre from using her One-Hit Kill superpower to destroy everything, plus defend the mansion from various intruders, plus assist her mistress' friend Patchouli (who seems to believe that Sakuya is their cat) as needed, plus it's heavily implied that she's the one that prepares the human-based food for her vampiric mistress and her sister. Technically, she's also in charge of protecting the mansion's library from the Kleptomaniac Hero Marisa but as Patchouli laments, her cat doesn't seem to do it's job chasing "rats"...and actually seems to just give Marisa tea and cookies while hiding her from Patchouli's wrath. Good thing she can stop time.
    • When Youmu Konpaku isn't busy trying to keep her Big Eater boss Yuyuko Saigyouji fed, she has to put up with Yuyuko's relentless teasing (which mainly stems from Youmu being very straightforward and Yuyuko trying to encourage her to "think outside the box").
    • Reisen Udongein Inaba is an odd example. Her mentor Eirin is downright abusive at times, inflicting Reisen with "punishment time" that leaves her unconscious for several days at a time. Their mutual mistress Princess Kaguya tends to make completely unreasonable demands (in the vein of "get me a glass of water in three seconds"), and Tewi plays all manner of mean-spirited pranks on her. Even when she does things right, she gets punished, as seen in Forbidden Scrollery where she invents a safe, humane form of pest repellent but still gets "gently scolded" because she did it without consulting Eirin first. What makes this odd is Reisen only really qualifies for this trope in stories where she's the main character; when she's just a supporting character, she's an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and the abuse she gets is karmic punishment for her arrogant attitude.
    • There is also an inversion of this trope, somewhat: In Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism, Satori is troubled by her underlings' hijinks. Well, when you have a nuclear-powered hell raven that's obsessed with destroying the world as a pet...
  • Kamek serves this role to the impulsive, immature Baby Bowser in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.
  • Tachibana Muneshige to Otomo Sorin in Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, having to constantly suffer through his lord's jerkass tendencies and fascination with Xavism.
  • Nele Baeker of Infinite Space is the long-suffering aide to Bunny-Ears Lawyer Lord Roth, who needs constant prodding to wake up, show up at briefings, and conduct business instead of hanging out with his hordes of adoring fangirls.
  • A downplayed example in Ratchet & Clank. While Doctor Nefarious is pretty competent in his chosen fields, it's pretty clear it's his butler Lawrence who is the one keeping things running smoothly, from handling all the domestics, to giving his master regular Percussive Maintenance, to even bringing him Back from the Dead, when need be. For his part, Lawrence seems to very much enjoy not enjoying his position.
  • Alpha Protocol has Wen, Steven Heck's assistant, who's introduced being given the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique by his boss because Heck misplaced his keys. If you get on Steven's good side, he'll go so far as to frame Wen for the assassination of a popular politician instead of you.
  • In Disco Elysium, choosing to play as a more eccentric Player Character, means that the Detective's partner, Kim, is forced into this role. While he tries to maintain his composure and be accommodating of the player’s current physical and mental state, he's quickly and visibly exasperated with your strange and volatile behaviors, especially when they directly inhibit the investigation.
    The Detective: Something weird just happened to me.
    Kim: Don't take this the wrong way, but — during our short stint working together — something weird is almost always happening to you.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Grisy Spicecrackle, one of The Rokk's assistants. The Rokk is Shattrath's Cooking Master, and he keeps doting on Grisy to hurry up; this is one case where the master is not incompetent, he's just bossy.
    • In Vashj'ir is Felice to "The Great" Sambino. While he's a bit of a Kingslayer Orkus, Sam is competent, but he's so busy with his research that he leaves Felice to deal with the Giant Enemy Crabs.

    Visual Novels 
  • Jaehee Kang in Mystic Messenger works as Jumin's assistant... and works, and works, as he fails to appreciate the fact that she needs a break once in a while. He also frequently forces her to babysit his cat when he's at work, much to her annoyance. During her route, some of the other RFA members recount an instance when she was so overworked that she passed out. In some routes, she also gets the player in touch with the representative of a group dedicated to protecting the rights of Beleaguered Assistants, who is a potential party guest. In the good ending of her route, she quits her job with gusto by enlisting Seven to fill an important business presentation with nothing but cat pictures and starts a café with MC, which makes her much, much happier.

    Web Animation 
  • The series Blockhead has the Conscience serving this role, who takes form as a snarky fat guy on a couch whose duty as a voice within his head is to constantly shout at at the titular main character to stop whatever maniacal wackiness he's doing to no effect.
  • Wayne the Goblin in One Ring to Rule Them All.
  • Johnson Johnson in Dark Maze Studio's Press Start Adventures.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Spoon tries to get his boss Dave to listen to reason about how a store should be managed and how to treat customers, but Dave is too much of a short-tempered brute to listen.
  • RWBY: Neo allies with Cinder but is far from happy about it. She often ends up rolling her eyes at the Fall Maiden, who is too egotistical to treat Neo as a partner rather than a minion, questions her skills despite Neo being a Hyper-Competent Sidekick, and gives her no credit for her successes, while Cinder herself tends to fail to achieve her own objectives in spite of her enormous power.

  • Left-Hand Man Gary to Cloudcuckoolander King Steve in 8-Bit Theater. He has to keep tabs on King Steve while he drills for mana, orders assassins to Kill the Messenger, wages war on a whim in the name of pacifism, builds robot duplicates of himself that explode at random, and loses the kingdom in a poker game. To a length of string. Also, Gary is the "left-hand man" because the king's right-hand man is Rodney. Rodney is a coffee stain.
  • Dr. Wily of Captain SNES: The Game Masta was originally the Hyper-Competent Sidekick of potential president Hagar, but between Hagar's incompetence and Blues blackmailing him, he quickly degenerated into this.
  • Moloch of Girl Genius is the sane and reluctant minion to an excitable Mad Scientist. He plans to flee at the first opportunity, which she is fully understanding and supportive of, but he starts out this relationship with a bomb strapped to his neck and once Agatha has gotten rid of that he's stuck in her besieged town running around trying to repair its defenses so he can survive. As she gains more gleeful minions he finds himself being termed her chief minion and starts shifting closer to Only Sane Employee, though he's still planning on getting as far away as possible as soon as the opportunity arises.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Dan's uryuom minion, Minion is this for Dan.
  • Lucy Hardt of Lackadaisy is the secretary to Sedge "Wick" Sable, a childish alcoholic who spends all of his time working while having hallucinations about ducks he killed when he was a child, who also happens to be attracted to a widow running a failing criminal enterprise. Said woman threatens her with dismemberment the very first conversation they have.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Redcloak is somewhere between Beleaguered Assistant and Hyper-Competent Sidekick. On one hand, he constantly expresses frustration with the haphazard way Xykon runs the show (or doesn't, as the case may be). On the other hand, he continues to work with him out of choice, seeing Xykon as a powerful ally for furthering his own agenda.
    • O-chul is this to Lord Shojo. He has to put up with his (seemingly) crazy boss doing silly things like talking his cat into using the litter box, and Shojo apparently uses the threat of uncomfortable tasks to get him to be okay with infractions of the law that conflict with O-chul's Lawful Goodinvoked nature.
    O-chul: My dignity may be at -9hp and bleeding, but I have to draw the line somewhere.
  • In Sidekick Girl many of the Sidekicks are far more competent than their assigned superhero; this is because intelligence, skill or even useful powers aren't qualifications to be a hero. You know what is? Looking hot in spandex or having a kickass backstory. Sidekick Girl, in particular, has great skills in martial arts and is highly intelligent, but is saddled with an idiot super who is best known in the business for getting all of her previous sidekicks killed or maimed.
  • In MYth, there's Delphin, Poseidon's assistant who's always worried about how Poseidon puts the paperwork aside. Hermes is one too for Zeus but in a lesser degree.
  • In The Boy Who Fell Lord Devil is competent and a great planner, but his servant Ramia has to deal with his slightly off-the-wall decisions and him not being where he's supposed to be because he wants to talk to Ren.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe example: Greasy, the sidekick and inventor to Peeper. If Peeper isn't getting both of them beaten up for perving on girls, he's hitting Greasy because Peeper busted Greasy's latest invention before it got the desired result (perving on girls).

    Web Videos 
  • Phelous was this to The Nostalgia Critic all throughout Kickassia, what with getting constantly smacked and having the Critic say all his ideas were stupid, only to claim they were his own ideas. Phelous turned the latter on the Critic during his overthrowing by getting him to suggest that everyone kick his ass. This went a long way to rescuing Phelous from the scrappy heap in the eyes of Channel Awesome fans.
  • BFF Nella tends to The Nostalgia Chick, often falling victim of whatever madcap schemes the Chick thrusts her into. This lead to a number of fans thinking that Lindsay really did treat Nella like this, which in turn caused the pair to parody the idea with a skit that basically said the Chick was paying Nella to fill the role, because the Chick was Hollywood Homely and would look more attractive if next to someone even less desirable.
  • Noob: La Croisée des Destins: The apprentice to a Non-Player Character blacksmith. When they need to do something away from the shop to help a player, the blacksmith makes him carry his tools including the anvil, a few swords because they may encounter monsters on the way and a few extra things because "he doesn't like him".

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series had the the incredibly incompetent "bandit king" Abis Mal paired with his constantly annoyed advisor Haroud, who constantly made sure plans went the way they were supposed to and who, unfortunately for the heroes, happened to be very smart. So smart in fact, that he is able to trick Abis Mal into doing the things he just ordered Haroud to do.
    • In the Fisher King episode "Bad Mood Rising," the king is a moody brat and the Wazir is a Beleaguered Assistant. He doesn't seem to be any less beleaguered once the king cheers up, because the king has awful proposals for improving the kingdom, like "We'll make EVERYONE a Wazir!"
  • Big Hero 6: The Series has Judy, Alistair Krei's secretary. At one point she has to recruit Hiro's help to convince him to give her time off during christmas.
  • Kif Kroker in Futurama, who has it so bad that an exasperated sigh is pretty much his catchphrase. His boss, Zapp Brannigan, is apparently aware of his frustration, at one point telling Kif not to groan and another time punishing (then-soldier) Fry by making him Kif's assistant. Kif proceeded to unload years of frustration on his new inferior.
  • Sasha is this to Justin Hammer in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. She's an interesting example in that she's as much of a psycho as he is, but far more reasonable. She can yell at him about his stupidity as much as she wants, but can't actually do anything about it.
  • Arthur to The Tick. Honestly, he fits this like a guy in a moth suit wearing a glove.
  • Brain in Inspector Gadget, who is constantly facing personal injury in order to keep Gadget safe, and to a much lesser extent Chief Quimby, who is actually Gadget's boss. His niece Penny, who is possibly in the biggest position to be an example, seems not to mind solving the cases as much. Occasionally subverted when Gadget saves Brain from falling to his death, usually because he thinks Brain is a MAD agent who's trying to escape. Also subverted when Brain wants Gadget to think he's a MAD agent and give chase. All of this did, however take a toll on Brain as revealed in the spinoff series, Gadget and the Gadgetinis, where he's had to leave the family and simply uttering the word "Gadget" strikes fear into him.
  • Woodhouse, the butler in Archer, who suffers constant belittlement, humiliation and occasional psychical torment at the hands of the titular character. Woodhouse takes a bit of revenge every now and then by knocking Archer unconscious and afterwards claiming that his blackout was caused by another drinking-binge.
  • Charles Foster Ofdensen of Metalocalypse serves as the CFO, manager and all-around brains behind Dethklok. When not running the business side of things his duties involves half-heartedly trying to get the band (who are all inept manchildren that take him for granted) to listen to him or clean up after their mistakes. Despite this, he's a man of nigh-infinite patience who states that despite the job being largely thankless there's nothing he wouldn't do for them and that nothing short of death will keep him away from them.
  • Cornfed to Duckman.
  • Shego to Dr. Drakken in Kim Possible.
  • Luxor the cat to Tutenstein.
  • Steve to Dr. Weird in Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
    • It's also sort of implied that Emory is this to Oglethorpe. Emory is usually the one who comes up with plausible ideas or points out Oglethorpe's lack of logic, but is often overruled.
  • In Duck Dodgers, Eager Young Space Cadet always has to tag along with whatever dangerous missions his narcissistic, selfish and considerably less competent higher-up, Duck Dodgers, gets himself into.
  • Porky served as one of these to Daffy in several of the classic Looney Tunes shorts, as well.
  • While Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons is a competent businessman, he also lacks the skills for dealing with people, is out of touch with any cultural development that has taken place since the end of World War II, and is extremely physically weak. Naturally it falls to Smithers to make up for these defects and make sure Burns remains as successful as he is. Subverted when it's made clear that Smithers actually enjoys this, and has an almost psychological need to serve Burns.
  • Schnitzel in Chowder, who gets more and more comically unappreciated as the series goes on.
  • Sheep in the Big City has Private Public trying to keep up with General Specific's less-than-sound schemes.
  • Samy Garvin on Jimmy Two-Shoes would rather be following his dreams of stardom than serving Lucius Heinous VII, who is not only incompetent but likes to abuse Samy for fun.
  • Slinkman in Camp Lazlo. He's intelligent and level-headed, and is stuck as the assistant for the idiotic and selfish Scoutmaster Lumpus.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The pageant in the episode "Hearth's Warming Eve" features three such characters: Clover the Clever (played by Twilight Sparkle) is the Beleaguered Assistant to the unicorn ruler Princess Platinum (played by Rarity), Smart Cookie (played by Applejack) is the Beleaguered Assistant to the earth pony ruler Chancellor Puddinghead (played by Pinkie Pie), and Private Pansy (played by Fluttershy) is the Beleaguered Assistant to the pegasus ruler Commander Hurricane (played by Rainbow Dash).
    • More generally, Angel Bunny sometimes feels like this when taking care of Fluttershy.
    • Spike often fills the Beleaguered Assistant role to Twilight Sparkle, keeping things together when Twilight's head is in the clouds or she's running off the rails.
  • Robotnik's assistant Snively in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). Robotnik isn't exactly incompetent, but he is prone to great outbursts of rage with Snively as the only target. Snively hates his job and despises Robotnik.
  • Jared to the Warden in Superjail!
  • PJ from Goof Troop is, depending on the episode, either this or a Hypercompetent Sidekick to Max. While Max isn't really incompetent, he's shortsighted, self-centered, and danger-prone. On some occasions, PJ is the only reason Max is alive. Despite his hard work and consistent helpfulness, even in the face of unreasonable hostility, PJ gets almost no credit. PJ is usually cynical about Max's plans and is treated as The Drag-Along.
  • Mina to Trina in Grojband. Trina constantly forces Mina to do all sorts of unpleasant things for her various schemes against Grojband, with Mina usually encountering some kind of misfortune as a result and Trina ignoring any objections Mina presents to her.
  • Zhu Li in The Legend of Korra works for Varrick as a lab assistant, cleaner, bodyguard and pretty much anything else he asks for, despite his often dismissive treatment of her. She eventually calls him out for his behavior in Book 4 and apparently betrays him, only to join him back close to the finale and revealing she only did so as part of a plan, but still rightfully demanding a better treatment on his part. It takes several episodes before Varrick swallows his pride and admits he was treating her poorly. This also comes with him realizing he actually has reciprocated feelings for her, and they get married shortly after.
  • Commander Peepers from Wander over Yonder tries (and often fails) to keep his boss Lord Hater on track and not let him be distracted by Wander's antics. Likewise, Sylvia sometimes serves this role to Wander when his curiosity and/or desire to help gets them in hot water.
  • Zorro: The Chronicles: Corporal Gonzales to Sergeant Garcia, which is why he tries to curry favor with Monasterio in order to get Garcia's job for himself.
  • Mr. Magoo: Charlie is often this trope when involved in his employer's escapades.
  • Skylanders Academy: Glumshanks is the loyal butler to Kaossandra and her son Kaos. He has a very good relation to the former due to having been her servant for so long, but he spends more time in service with the latter, and let's just say, Kaos is a lot less nicer to him. He not only drags Glumshanks into the evil plots he comes up with, but also uses him for a punching bag, and as expected, Glumshanks is not fond of it, to the point where he takes anxiety medication. When they end up going seperate paths in the first half of the second season, Glumshanks takes the chance to pursue his interests and he is shown to be much happier doing it than being Kaos' servant.

    Real Life 
  • This trope is often Truth in Television for college grads whose first entry level to get their dream career is being some kind of assistant. In addition to the day-to-day grunt work to "pay their dues" they are often responsible for their bosses's schedule which range from the reasonable like scheduling meetings, managing correspondence, and making travel arrangements to less reasonable duties making sure your boss's car always has a full tank of gas, to doing their online traffic classes because their boss got a ticket.
  • Similar to the grunt work of an entry-level position, various world militaries have had (under various names) the position of "batman," a soldier assigned to assist an officer (who sometimes continued into civilian life). How beleaguered they actually were (and are) varies, though ostensibly much less now in many countries thanks to rules against officers abusing their aides for personal benefit. That these rules had to be spelled out probably says it all, though.


Video Example(s):


Assistant Montage

The film opens with a montage of exhausted New York City assistants whose abusive bosses have no respect for boundaries.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BeleagueredAssistant

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