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Eager Rookie

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When you have a young and/or inexperienced (and often idealistic) character who is eager to join a group of warriors or adventurers on a big battle or other dangerous undertaking, but they are refused by their older, more experienced (and sometimes more cynical) peers for a variety of reasons, usually out of concern for their safety, because they don't want the younger character descending down the same dangerous life that the older character leads, or, if the character is a female who wants to be an Action Girl, plain old sexism.

One common plot element: after being denied, the rookie sneaks out and gets involved in the fighting anyway, leading to:

  • Having to be rescued by the protagonists.
  • Getting killed by the enemy.
  • Succeeding, thus showing that he did have what it takes.

See also Ensign Newbie, Jumped at the Call, Least Is First, New Meat, Rookie Red Ranger, and Tagalong Kid.


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    Fan Works 
  • DOOM: Repercussions of Evil: This is the motivation for why protagonist John Stalvern wanted to join the marines, despite his father dissuading him by saying he would be killed by demons.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ciao Alberto: Since working and living with Massimo, Alberto shows a willing attitude to help him with the business, only for him to make mistake after mistake by trying too hard to show Massimo that he's a good "employee".
  • Zootopia: Officer Judy Hopps is eager to help solve the big case but is relegated to writing parking tickets. She protests by pointing out that she graduated at the top of her class, but Chief Bogo is unmoved as he values experience over academic training. Judy does not help her case as her impulsive idealism causes her to engage in activities that makes life difficult for Bogo.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Peter Parker is a teen who sneaks inside the Q-Ship in order to help Tony Stark after the latter has sent him away out of fear for his safety. In his defense, he notes that one can't be a low-key neighborhood hero if said neighborhood ends up being destroyed, and Tony can't object to that.
  • Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong: Jimmy wants to help on the expedition to save Ann Darrow, but his father figure Hayes doesn't let him.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Merry and Eowyn both want to join the battle of Minas Tirith but have to sneak in with the rest of the Rohirrim, since them joining the fight is met with disapproval from the others due to being a hobbit and a woman, respectively.
  • The Matrix Revolutions. The Kid is only 16 years old but joins the Corps to fight the Machines. Captain Mifune tells him he can't serve because the minimum age is 18, but relents when the Kid points out that the Machines won't care how old he is, they'll kill him whether he fights them or not.

  • Elenium: Played with. Sparhawk told a young knight to guard Sephrenia, but agreed to let him take part in the battle (his first) when Sephrenia said she didn't need a guard. The knight was then killed by Adus.
  • In The Fire's Stone, Chandra starts out like this. She is several years younger than both Aaron and Darvish, and comparably sheltered. While she wants to join their assigned adventure to retrieve the stone and test out her magic, they are less convinced and would rather leave her behind—and they do try.
  • A Master of Djinn: Haida, Fatma's new partner. Fatma initially tries to keep her away from dangerous assignments, but quickly finds that she's very capable.
  • Reflections of Eterna: Lampshaded, deconstructed, and reconstructed again in a short succession in book one. A young officer under First Marshall Roque Alva's command is eager to take on the enemy and eventually defies his orders to give battle. The attack goes bad, so Alva brings his troops to flank and rout the enemy, saving the young officer, only to have him court-marshaled for insubordination later. When other officers point out that Alva used him as a bait intentionally, he just shrugs and tells him that had the rookie obeyed his orders, he would still be alive—but if he disobeyed them and WON, he'd be made a Marshall someday.
  • Warrior Cats: All new apprentices are eager to go into battle but their mentors won't allow them till they've had proper battle training.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam-12: One of television's trope codifiers. During the first season and a half, this describes Officer James Reed, one of the top recruits from the Los Angeles Police Academy. He had an outstanding tour of duty during his academy days riding along with various officers and learning the ropes, but now it's for real and he's got a lot to learn. He'd sometimes act before he thought. More than once he wanted to become involved in a murder investigation but had to be reigned in. Sometimes, he'd speak up when his opinion wasn't necessarily wanted. By the time January 1970 – midway through Season 2 – rolled around, Reed had largely put that raw eagerness behind him and he was becoming a seasoned officer, and late in the run, as a training officer he'd have to deal with several young cadets of his own.
  • Andor: Of a darker turn. One of the corpo grunts shoots an unarmed civilian who might, if you squint, have been acting in a threatening manner. Despite the blatant corruption and lack of respect the corpos have for the locals, the sergeant immediately confiscates his weapon and orders him to retrieve the shuttle, which will get him out of the area quickly. His tone makes it clear that they are going to have a talk about this later.
  • Arrow:
    • When Roy Harper is first introduced he wants to be a vigilante just like The Hood. Despite not having superpowers or any formal fight training, he kept putting himself in dangerous situations in attempt to stop the bad guys. Eventually, Oliver has to actually shoot him in the thigh with an arrow just to keep him from confronting the bad guys on his own. Eventually, once Oliver feels comfortable revealing his alter ego, he takes Roy under his wing and trains him as a sidekick.
    • When Laurel takes up the mantle of Black Canary, she routinely gets beat up by the bad guys she's pursuing and has to be rescued. She accuses Oliver of treating her differently because she's a girl, but he reminds her that he fought as equals with the original Black Canary, Sarah, and he only babies Laurel because she literally has no fight training or the necessary skills to protect herself. Once she starts training with Ted Grant, Oliver is more accepting of her in the field.
    • The new recruits (Wild Dog, Mister Terrific, and Artemis) show up thinking they're ready to vigilante. Oliver issues a challenge: If they can fight their way past him and ring the bell he has hanging from a dowel just behind him and he'll consider them sufficiently trained to survive and they have his blessing to go out. The group accepts readily. Three on one? Should be easy, right? Wrong. He summarily puts everyone of them on their asses and isn't even breathing hard afterwards. Chagrined, they decide maybe they're not actually ready to be in the field.
  • Dexter: Dexter takes on a mentee, Miguel, and teaches him the tricks and trade of being a vigilante serial killer. Miguel really enjoys it and is eager to kill, but is not very good at vetting his targets. Miguel and Dexter eventually have a falling out when Miguel murders a victim who is not a criminal and has a personal, easily traced connection to Miguel.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", Yasmin Khan is a second-year probationary police constable who wants to do something more challenging than resolving parking disputes. Her superiors mostly dismiss her out of hand when she asks to handle bigger things.
  • The Flash (2014): When Wally got his powers, he immediately wanted to go out with Barry and fight crime. Part of his impatience stemmed from his girlfriend Jesse getting her powers first even though they were hit by the particle blast at the same time. He was jealous of her powers and afraid he would never gain any. Despite his enthusiasm, he was benched by Barry, Iris, and Joe who were afraid that he'd get hurt like Barry often did when he had to learn on the job. They also had trouble accepting the fact that he was no longer just the baby of the family, but would eventually be in the field fighting along side the rest of Team Flash.
  • Marco Polo this is the opening hook. The very first scene is Marco's Dad finally arriving home after many many years away. Almost the very next thing is Marco's Dad deciding to go on another trip to China, and telling teenage Marco he can't come. Marco stows away on the ship. Dad once again tries to get Marco back home when the priests get cold feet and want to leave, but he switches clothes with one of the guides and stays. the irony is that when he's in China, he finds out that his Dad is an asshole and ends up basically causing his death.
  • Supernatural: The season 2 episode "No Exit" centers around Jo Harvelle who wants to be a hunter like her deceased father, Bill. Her mother, Ellen, doesn't want her to be in the field. Jo finds a case and her mother gives it to Sam and Dean instead. Jo sneaks out to work the case anyway. Jo is irritated when Sam and Dean insist on helping her work the case, but on more than one occasion Dean has to point something out that Jo doesn't know. Eventually, Jo accuses Dean of being sexist and treating her like less than a hunter because she's a woman. Dean insists women can be hunters and that he's treating her like a rookie with no experience. Sure enough, Jo is kidnapped by the Monster of the Week and has to be rescued although she does ultimately assist in defeating the baddie.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "A Quality of Mercy" begins with a lieutenant that has just graduated from the military academy, and is eager to make a name for himself during the last days of W.W.2 in the Philipines. He orders his men that they will assault a cave and kill every last Japanese defender, but his senior-most N.C.O., a battle hardened sergeant, informs him that the Japanese soldiers have so far resisted being flushed out by an artillery barrage, and have repelled previous attacks, but the lieutenant orders the assault anyway.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has Eager Cadet, with the flavor text "Training? Seeing my crops burnt to cinders was all the ‘training' I needed." Said creature is 1/1, as weak as it's possible to be while still being capable of doing damage, so perhaps some more training is needed...
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Subverted with most Space Marine chapters: although their recruits are taken among the most violent, sociopathic teenagers they can find, their "rookies" require years of indoctrination and surgery to become Space Marine Scouts, and a few more decades as Scouts to become Space Marines. In Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Leandros is considered young and inexperienced at the age of 75.
    • Invoked by the Space Wolves, whose assault troops (bikers and jetpack troops) actually are their youngest members, fresh from being selected from the wounded in Fenris' many tribal battles, still believing they're going to fight every day and wake up to fight again the next day. They're used in berserk charges against the enemy until they've got it out of their system (some never do, and remain in positions of leadership among the Bloodclaws and Skyclaws), then can be promoted to positions requiring more mature mindsets. The Space Wolves' actual scouts are among the oldest and most revered Marines in the Chapter.

    Video Games 
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: Brynn is very eager to prove his worth to the rebel cause but his more experienced commanders Chawan and April keep him on a short leash, much to his frustration.
  • Final Fantasy X: The NPC Gatta is a young Crusader who is very eager to get into battle, particularly because he believes 100% that the current Crusader operation is sure to destroy Sin, the Eldritch Abomination that has ravaged the world for the last thousand years. As such, Gatta sees the upcoming battle as essentially the last chance at glory before bringing peace to the world. Gatta's superior officer and mentor, Luzzu, has a much more realistic assessment and knows the battle could easily go wrong, so he puts Gatta on guard duty safely away from the front lines. You can influence Gatta into leaving his post and going to fight... which will result in him being killed.
  • Gears of War: The first two Carmine brothers, though their big brother Clayton is a bit more experienced and lives a lot longer.
  • Mass Effect 2: You can stop the very young, very obviously inexperienced boy from signing up as a mercenary to fight Archangel. If you do, he'll eventually send you an email and thank you for saving his life.
  • Resident Evil
    • Rebecca Chambers from Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0 while she has some medical training and tactical training, Rebecca's talents pale in comparison to some of her fellow S.T.A.R.S members (Chris, Jill and Barry). Being the youngest she is frequently way in over her head, though she’s presented as more capable and confident in RE0 she still has to rescued by Billy Cohen the convict she was tasked with apprehending. In RE1 her rookie status is more apparent, being a blatant Damsel in Distress.
    • Many forget Leon S. Kennedy was this in Resident Evil 2 being a rookie cop who overslept and was late to the zombie apocalypse Leon is very out of his depth and naive. He also whines like a kid when both his female partners decide they have to separate from him, but kudos to Leon that he avoids the pitfalls Rebecca falls in as he becomes Instant Expert in monster killing overnight. Leon’s natural talent was so great The Government scooped him up in the aftermath of Racoon City, turning him into scene-stealing badass we know today.
    • In the remake Leon is much more realised, the “Eager” part of the “Eager Rookie” is lessened and Leon is presented as scared, inexperienced and shaky. He has to be saved by Marvin when he first enters the police station, pleads for advice and apologies for not coming into the city sooner. Though the reason he wasn’t there, is because they explicitly told him to stay away for his own sake. There's also the fact Leon's only 21 in his debut.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Ciri, Geralt's unexpected child, is being trained at Kahr Mohren to be a Witcher. She's very anxious to get out on The Path and irritated that neither Geralt nor Vessimir consider her ready. However, it's because she's a) still a kid b) doesn't have the mutations that make a Witcher very hard to kill, so she needs to be as prepared as they can humanly make her.

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary: The Toughs run into this problem and promptly extract the solution out of it:
    Tagon: You said most of the new recruits went charging down the hall, right? That's great! Enthusiastic cannon fodder like that just needs cautious leadership.
    Shodan: And where do I find that?
    Tagon: Promote everyone who hung back to corporal.

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers: Prime: Smokescreen, who was most excited to fight the 'cons when they attacked his station at Iacon.