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First Day from Hell

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"Somehow, I managed to get myself involved with the incident in Raccoon City... on my first day in the force."
Leon Kennedy, Resident Evil 4

Bob is entering his first day on the job at Trope Co. Industries. He expects to spend the first few days getting his feet wet, learning what his responsibilities are, getting to know his co-workers.

And before he can really get settled in, all hell breaks loose. Criminals break in and take hostages. Massive equipment failures. Aliens invade. War breaks out. Demons from Hell. They run out of coffee and can't get more until tomorrow. Bob then either takes up responsibility for dealing with the crisis or the responsibility is already part of their job. No guarantees they're up to the challenge.

In many cases, the first day takes up the entire story, resulting in a work with an Extremely Short Timespan.

Distinct from It Never Gets Any Easier, in that this is clearly not part of the routine. Compare with Workplace Horror and New Job Episode. Contrast Retirony ("last day from hell").


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  • Played for laughs in this Berlitz commercial where a German coast guard trainee gets left alone on his post when a Distress Call comes in.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Akiba Maid War: Poor Nagomi. After a rough first day at Oinky Doink Cafe (during which she discovers being a maid isn't nearly as fun and glamorous and she imagined), she (along with fellow "rookie" maid Ranko) is sent to deliver a message to a rival cafe. A "delivery" that quickly devolves into Nagomi watching Ranko bloodily gun down the entire roster of the rival cafe. It gets worse for Nagomi from there.
  • Cells At Work! White Brigade: Band Cell's very first day hunting pathogens includes getting separated from the other WBCs and nearly getting killed by a large bacteria. While this is fairly standard for his line of work, he'd barely been able to get acquainted with his coworkers before bedlam broke out.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Patsy Walker's first day as Hellcat, which only comes about because she butts in on an Avengers case, involves her being zapped to another universe, having to fight a Justice League knock-off and then nearly getting killed by her psychotic ex-husband several times.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: As Springer warns new recruits going in, sometimes your first day in the Wreckers is also your last. For the four new recruits, their first day involves having to break into a prison taken over by a sociopathic supersoldier. Two of them die, one getting their brains blow out and the other torn limb-from-limb, while the third suffers a bad case of Break the Cutie. The fourth gets torn in half, but he was already not right in the head, having only joined the team for a chance to kill Kup.


    Films — Live-Action 
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976): The film's central siege occurs during Ethan Bishop's first day as a Lieutenant in the California Highway Patrol, with the assignment of supervising Precinct 13's final night of operations.
  • Forklift Driver Klaus: This fake instructional video follows Klaus on his first day on the job at a warehouse. Unfortunately, No OSHA Compliance triggers a barrage of horrifying accidents, culminating with Klaus being beheaded and his cadaver Riding Off Into The Sunset on the forklift.
  • In Men in Black, Jay becomes involved in a plot to save the galaxy within his first day or so. While Kay *tells* him that It Never Gets Any Easier, that's hard to believe, and what we see of daily life for MiB does make it seem constantly crazy, but not always as high-stakes as when the bug was pursuing the galaxy.
    • Made even worse by the fact that Jay learns the organization works off 37 hour days, so his first day on the job is much longer than expected.
    Zed: Give it a few months, you'll get used to it. Or you'll have a psychotic episode.
  • United 93 - see Real Life.
  • Training Day: Jake Hoyt's evaluation to become a narcotics detective is done by renowned detective Alonzo Harris... who is a Dirty Cop, The Corrupter and eventually looking to get Jake killed because He Knows Too Much. Broken Pedestal doesn't really covers it.
  • The subway conductor in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.
  • Will Colson in Unstoppable: His first day as the trainyard's lead engineer involves having to stop a runaway train hauling toxic chemicals before it jumps the rails (an inevitability at the speeds it was running at) and causes a near-nuclear level toxic explosion.
  • Last Shift - Protagonist Jessica's first night as a cop involves a shit detail babysitting a decommissioned police station overnight. A police station that holds a group of murderous ghostly Manson Family expies.
  • Red Hill: Constable Shane Cooper arrives for his first day of work at his new posting in Red Hill. He is hoping for peace and quiet. Instead his first day coincides with a killer breaking jail and returning to Red Hill on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • The Secret of Roan Inish: Fiona's ancestor Sean Michael had one that's about as bad as it gets. The very first time he went out to sea on a fishing boat, they were caught in a terrible storm that destroyed the family's boats and killed everyone except Sean Michael.
  • Head Office: Jack Issel's first day as a PR employee at a big corporation begins with the executive he was supposed to job shadow having been fired for getting caught insider trading (and later jumping to his death out of the window in front of Jack), the man who he was being reassigned to job shadow dying of a heart attack right before they reach his office and a third potential supervise abruptly being sidelined after everyone finds out he's Secretly Dying. Then, once Jack finally gets settled in an office, before the morning is over a group of protestors throw hair removal cream n him, and a second group of protestors dump a sperm whales liver on his desk and then harpoon it, splattering Jack with blood. When a third protestor (who he ends up falling in love with) arrives, he instinctively dives for cover when she yanks something out, although it turned out she was just taking out a petition.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gwen Cooper's first day at Torchwood starts with a meteor hitting Cardiff, moves on to Gwen accidentally releasing an alien being, and progresses to serial murder and alien possession. Because it's Torchwood, the job never really gets easier.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Delenn's first day as a full member of the Minbari Grey Council was the day the Minbari encountered the Earth ship Prometheus. An encounter that resulted in the botched first contact-turned-battle that killed Delenn's mentor, Dukhat, and sparked the Earth/Minbari War.
    • Lyta Alexander is the station's first certified Commercial Telepath. Her first day on the job involves an assassination attempt on the Vorlon ambassador, her having to scan the alien ambassador's mind to find who the killer was, and ending up falsely accusing the station's commander as a result of what she was mislead to see in the scan. She gets transferred off the station soon after the incident.
    • Captain Sheridan arrives on the station and has what is, by the standards of B5, a relatively sedate example, as a rogue Minbari warship attempts to goad him into firing the first shots of a new war between Earth and Minbar (Sheridan was a hero of the previous war, which ended under very odd and unexplained circumstances).
    • Captain Lochley's first day as station commander involves a plot to assassinate newly-inaugurated President Sheridan (making this a two-fer, given that it's Sheridan's first day in that job as well, though he's hardly new to the insanity that is life on Babylon 5).
  • In 24, Lynn McGill's first day as head of CTU Los Angeles involves getting mugged by his junkie sister and her boyfriend, leading directly to a nerve gas attack on CTU headquarters. He ends up dying while saving everyone from the gas, a Redemption Equals Death moment for his earlier mistakes.
  • In The Sentinel, Blair's first day with the police includes the entire police station being taken over by terrorists who take him hostage.
  • Anthony Nowakowski's first day in Oz as a correctional officer fell on the same day a riot took place in Emerald City. He was killed by friendly fire after Devlin sent the SORT team in.
  • School example instead of career example, but in The Secret World of Alex Mack, the eponymous heroine's first day at junior high winds up being one of these (bullies, embarrassment in front of a handsome boy, the usual culprits), culminating in the GC-161 accident that both grants Alex her powers and sets the CEO of Paradise Valley Chemical, Danielle Atron, on her trail for the entire series.
  • Flashpoint "A Day In The Life": Apparently, someone thought it was a good idea to have the SRU rookie start on what is known to be the single craziest day of the year for SRU officers.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Harry Kim had the colossally bad luck of getting stationed on the starship Voyager on his very first assignment out of Starfleet Academy. That first day got him and the ship stranded in hostile space on the far side of the galaxy (and stuck as an ensign) for 7 years.
  • B.J. Hunnicutt's first day at the 4077th MASH is pretty rough. He's an accessory to a general's jeep being stolen, gets attacked by guerrillas while changing a flat tire, gets caught in a mortar attack, and has to watch a girl be wounded by a landmine and taken to a crude field hospital. This is just between the airport and the 4077th. It's notable that the last stop they make before finally getting to the camp is a bar.

  • Janice of Come from Away has a really rough go of it her first day as a reporter for Gander's local news station. She's new to town, so she doesn't know anybody... and her first day of work is 9/11. And Gander ends up receiving 7,000 passengers from grounded flights who wind up taking refuge in the town. Janice is obviously overwhelmed the entire time, but she does an admirable job documenting everything and getting interviews, and her footage ends up being highly coveted, as she's the only reporter present at this massive historical event. She ends up getting a job offer from a huge station after they see her work, but she decides to stay in Gander.

    Video Games 
  • Integral to the first two games in the Danganronpa series. Fifteen (first game) or sixteen (second) high school students show up at the prestigious Hope's Peak high school, a place meant to hone "talented" individuals into the next generation of leaders in their fields. Then the world goes screwy and next thing they know they wake up locked in the school with no idea how (first game) or are transported to an island by a talking Magical Girl rabbit plushie (second) and soon after forced into a killing game by a black and white talking bear plushie named Monokuma. Subverted, however as they actually have had their memories wiped of their time as students and The End of the World as We Know It and it's actually a few years after their first day.
  • Double Homework gives an example with school instead of work. The summer school class finds that Ms. Walsh, who normally teaches special ed, expects them all to study by themselves instead of teaching them, leaving the whole class wondering how they're supposed to pass. Johanna finally takes pity on her, and writes a lesson plan for her to use.
  • In GrimGrimoire, Lillet Blan gets one of these on her first day at magic school, which ends with everybody dead... and then gets to repeat it through a sort of "Groundhog Day" Loop four times in a row. The game is really about Five First Days From Hell.
  • Downplayed in Melody with the start of the protagonist's job as Melody's tutor. The protagonist needs to contend with Melody's attitude and her general reluctance to be studying during the summer as well as actually conveying what he knows. Still, Melody grits her teeth and sits through her first lesson to humor Amy, who is paying for the lessons.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 2: Leon Kennedy's first day with the Raccoon City PD is the day of another T-Virus outbreak.
    • In Resident Evil 4, Leon's first day as a Secret Service agent isn't much better, though he's at least better prepared for it.
    • And in Resident Evil 6, one of the minor characters in Tall Oaks is a young cop on his first day of the job. He's less lucky than Leon was.
    • Happens to Rebecca Chambers in Resident Evil 0. Her first mission involves fighting the very first T-Virus outbreak. As The Medic she's distinctly more overwhelmed than rookie cop Leon but fortunately she gets to share the ordeal with Billy Coen, former marine. After she lies to her superior, Enrico, about not finding Billy, she bitterly remarks on the state of affairs.
      "My first mission and I've already disobeyed orders. So much for my great law enforcement career."
    • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 continues the tradition with Moira Burton getting kidnapped from her first-day welcome party for her new job at TerraSave.
  • This is par for the course in Five Nights at Freddy's and its sequel. You sign up to be a night guard at an old family pizzeria, thinking it'll be essentially them paying you to sleep. Then the animatronics stuff you into a suit intended for the titular Freddy. Or attempt to, at least.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Mia Fey's very first case has her getting within a hair's breadth of actually managing to get her client acquitted... then he commits suicide on the witness stand.
    • Miles Edgeworth's first case doesn't fare any better. He's about to take up the prosecution after the prosecutor he is replacing is accused of wrongdoing, then both the defendant and the previous prosecutor get murdered before the trial even resumes, and Franziska shows up and whips him a lot. Since the trial never resumes, his actual first case is the same as Mia's, above.
    • While not necessarily his first day on the job, in Phoenix's second case, his own mentor gets murdered, he gets nearly destroyed in the courtroom by his childhood friend, and right as he was about to get a lead on the actual culprit, he gets accused of the murder.
    • In Apollo Justice's first trial, he gets trolled a lot by his client, Phoenix Wright, and ends up accusing his own mentor, Kristoph Gavin, and proving with forged evidence that he committed the murder Wright was accused of, leaving poor Apollo out of a job. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies goes on to elaborate that he took this fairly hard, but his Childhood Friend encouraged him not to give up.
  • The first flight of the SSV Normandy in Mass Effect ends with an attack on a human colony, the death of a special forces operative, and the discovery of a massive threat to all life in the galaxy.
  • In Deus Ex, on the night JC Denton joins UNATCO, the NSF attacks a shipment of plague vaccines, and the first few missions of the game consist of pursuing the vaccine and ultimately confronting the NSF leader, apparently all on the same night. Before long, JC Denton ends up going rogue and leaving to fight the conspiracy behind UNATCO. On his way out, Jaime Reyes offers him an augmentation upgrade that was supposed to be a welcome aboard gift, but ends up being a going-away present.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires: One of the guards in /c/, which got massacred. As said by another guard:
    ...Hey... Do me... a favor, will you? Tell my buddy...over there....that he did a great job...
    It was....his first day....on the job....He was so scared....But he
    [Interact with other guard]
    Unfortunately, it seems like this guard is already dead. He died without ever being praised for his bravery...
  • In Persona 5, your first day at school involves you getting lost and wandering into the physical manifestation of a serial rapist's distorted view of the school he works at, nearly getting killed by the physical manifestation of said rapist's dark side and his minions several times over, and finally escaping only to discover that your (wrongful) criminal record has been exposed to the rest of the student body and you're going to be a social pariah for the rest of the school year.
  • Doom³:
    • Downplayed. You've just arrived on Mars, where you're soon after tasked with retrieving a lost scientist by your CO, and just when you find said scientist, all hell breaks loose—literally. Ghostly skulls fly out of a portal and began zombifying people, including the guy you were supposed to retrieve, who you're forced to kill. From then on, you fight through dozens of zombies and demons, and later discover that the invasion was caused by a Mad Scientist who works at the base you're assigned to. It's a pretty long first day.
    • Happens again in the expansion pack Resurrection Of Evil, where you're part of a team investigating a faint signal on Mars. You touch an ancient artifact, and your teammates are vaporized as hell once again breaks loose. Of note is that you started the invasion this time.

  • Danger Zone One: Reena's first day as an officer in Pallad City involves her trying to bring down a rampaging power suit. Given that the comic's first seven chapters take place within the same week, in story, it's more like "First Seven Days From Hell."
  • The Suburban Jungle's sequel comic, Rough Housing: Charity's first day as manager of The Rough House has her find out the place is a ramshackle dump, most of the employees work for room and board in lieu of pay and the only thing keeping the place afloat is a weekly free-for-all (highly illegal) barfight... Which happens to be that night.context 

    Web Original 
  • Resident Evil Abridged
    • Played for laughs at Richard's expense, whose first assignment with S.T.A.R.S. involves surviving a helicopter crash, then being pursued by a ravenous pack of zombified Dobermans, and finally ending up trapped in the Spencer Mansion. Except it's teeming with monsters that are even worse than the ones outside. It only gets worse for him from there.
    • It's downplayed in Rebecca's case, since she already suffered most of her hardships during the train incident, which was hours before she arrived at the mansion. Though she still ends up being cornered by a Hunter and would've been killed had Chris not arrived in time to save her.
  • Not Always Right: This teen's first day on the job has them find a pair of customers having sex in one of the fitting rooms and having to report them to the manager and see them escorted out. Fortunately another customers saw how traumatized the kid was and convinced their manager to give them a gift card for their troubles.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Ben Sliney's first day as the FAA's National Operation Manager (basically the Air Traffic Controller-in-chief) was September 11, 2001. It was his call to ground every civilian aircraft in America for four days (over 4,200). He played himself in the film, United 93.
  • A frequent occurrence in the service sector: First day behind the register? In comes an armed robber. For example...
  • Famously, Terry Pratchett:
    I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later, I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat... colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up.
  • Any Armed Forces boot camp. Ever.
  • In the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, one of the firefighters was on his first shift when the explosion occurred. Needless to say, this was very a difficult trial for him.
  • Imagine you're an association football player. Scoring an own goal on your debut? Unfortunate. Getting sent off on your debut for a second bookable offence? You should have known better. Doing both of these in your debut? Very unlucky. Now imagine doing that on your debut for Real Madrid, one of the biggest teams in the world. Welcome to Jonathan Woodgate's world.
  • In what has to be the worst first day on the job in history, Maria Baumgartner began working for the Gruber family in what is now Waidhofen, Bavaria, Germany, on March 31, 1922. Later that evening, she and the five members of the family would be murdered in one of the worst unsolved crimes in German history.
  • This police officer who was shot and killed on her first day.
  • Attorney Sam Amirante's first client in private practice was John Wayne Gacy.
    Amirante:(After Gacy drunkenly confesses everything): I aged many many years during that night, both as a lawyer and as a person. It was one of the scariest nights of my life.
  • April 27, 1953, Union Pacific section worker Ralph Vicenty, a Puerto Rican native who had only been on the job for less than 90 minutes, threw a switch to a siding in Red Desert, Wyoming to protect a herd of sheep waiting to cross the track. Seconds later, UP Big Boy #4005 hurtled into the siding at 50 miles per hour, flipping and derailing the engine, tender, and the first 18 cars, and killing the fireman and engineer (driver) on impact. The front brakeman survived long enough to give testimony, but succumbed to his burn injuries two days after the accident.