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New Meat

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"They're all like you – all piss 'n' vinegar! 'Where are the Krauts at? Let me at'em! When do I get to jump into Berlin?' Two days later, there they are, with their blood and guts hanging out, screaming for a medic, begging for their mother. Dumb fucks don't even know they're dead yet."
Frank Perconte, Band of Brothers

Also known as "Fresh Meat". Still wet behind the ears and fresh out of boot camp, the New Meat may look like a soldier, but he lacks the combat experience to actually perform up to the fighting standard of The Squad. Generally young; some men may characterize him as a child.

He's a bit loathed by the rest of the men because he constantly asks questions or makes mistakes that hinder their progress. Prone not to appreciate A Father to His Men's stern but necessary discipline. Some of the more seasoned members may even consider his rookie status a risk and petition the commander(s) to get rid of him.

Usually, this is reconciled only by New Meat doing something notably competent or heroic in battle, after which he's accepted as "one of the guys". Then the next New Meat comes along.

Otherwise, New Meat serves little function other than to get killed so that others can brood over his corpse about what a waste his death was — "the kid never had a chance". The New Meat is also a writer's shortcut to introduce the characters of an already established team. Since they have been working together for so long, it is difficult to justify why they would talk about their past. The New Meat character is introduced so that they can tell him the backstory.

Often portrayed as skinny or physically smaller than the rest of The Squad members to show he hasn't yet grown into the role of battle-hardened combat vet.

Used as a variant of the Red Shirt and killed off when the writers need to provide extra motivation for The Squad to disobey orders, kill innocents or act in other ways out of the ordinary. Ironically, the New Meat may be on the short list of survivors when the writer decides that Anyone Can Die, so their Older and Wiser self can welcome their own New Meat as a Bookend to their story.

See Ensign Newbie if the guy in question has a commission and is in charge. May be Cannon Fodder if the higher-ups are sadistic or desperate.

Also common in Police Procedural or other "action team" shows, where he/she will be a newcomer, fresh out of The Academy/recruitment.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cells at Work!: The Naive T Cell is a nervous and cowardly rookie who has yet to encounter a pathogen and is bullied for his cowardice by the other, more veteran T Cells. He ends up running away in shame from an infestation of influenza viruses, until a pep-talk from the Dendritic Cell causes him to "activate" and turn into a virus-killing powerhouse.
  • Cells At Work! White Brigade: Band Cell is an immature Neutrophil fresh out of training, and is understandably anxious and uncomfortable on his first day on the job. While he does get in over his head at times, and his coworkers give him a bit of a hard time, he manages to avoid becoming The Load.
  • Kakizaki from Super Dimension Fortress Macross (Ben Dixon in Robotech).
  • Sara in Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry is treated this way by the other Gambee pilots before she gets Ram-Dass, even though she's actually a better fighter and strategist than they are — they just won't admit it.
    • Nearly the entire crew counts as new meat since they were just Cadets on a training cruise when they were attacked; Sara just appears to be the newest of the new meat as her true background and qualifications were kept secret from the others.
  • Subaru, Teana, Erio, and Caro in the first third of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Nanoha's job as a Combat Instructor is to make sure that they become soldiers who are capable of completing missions without unnecessarily risking and killing themselves in the process.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
  • The entire crew of the White Base is this at the start of Mobile Suit Gundam what with everyone above the then Ensign Newbie Bright Noa getting killed during Char's attack on Side 7, leaving him in charge of a ship with equally new soldiers and conscripted civilian refugees.
  • Bernie Wiseman, the protagonist of Gundam 0080, is a relatively fresh ensign who's only been in one battle (where his Zaku was shot down) before he's assigned to the Cyclops Team. Garcia and Misha are pretty open in their dislike of Bernie, especially since they lost a man a few days before and see the new kid as a Replacement Scrappy.
  • Towards the end of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED veteran pilot Yzak Joule gets assigned an entire squadron of these. The speech he gives them on their odds of getting out alive is depressing.
  • The members of the 104th Trainee Corps from Attack on Titan are as new as it comes, facing their first real battle after the eve of their graduation from boot camp. It's later pointed out by the leader of the Survey Corps that they have the dubious honor of becoming Shell Shocked Veterans before even getting to select their branch of service. Survival rates for a soldier's first battle are placed at 50%, with those that survive being considered actual Scouts after that. Eren might be the protagonist, but he becomes this to The Squad when he's assigned to Levi's Special Operations Squad.
  • Freshly graduated genin in Naruto don't get important missions. For a few months, they do little more than basic training and chores without leaving the village. An indignant Naruto is berated for thinking that he should be an exception to this.
    • Zabuza displays this more, being absolutely amused by how green Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke are.
  • When James Bond joins Moriarty's crew in Moriarty the Patriot, he is entirely confused as to how they work and tries to follow orders that aren't given and follow a hierarchy that doesn't exist. He picks it up pretty quickly once someone bothers to explain, but until he does, Colonel Moran refuses to accept him as a man (and since Bond is trans, that stings).
  • Rebuild World has Togami. As a series mostly about Private Military Contractors called hunters, there is a certain company called Drakam that is politically divided between the younger members who get preferential treatment, making them into Spoiled Brat mercenaries, and the hardened veterans. Togami is one of the younger soldiers who hates the leader of the young faction, and is promoted as the public figurehead of the opposing faction by putting him into missions he's not ready for, alongside the protagonist Akira. At first he's a Boisterous Weakling, due to having been better only compared to those preferentially treated younger members, and undergoes a Break the Haughty experience clinging for dear life to Akira's car for most of the battle. After that, he becomes more humble in trying to learn, despite still being picked on by the veteran Shirakabe.
  • Transformers Victory: The Multiforce are young by Cybertronian standards (though not as young as Holi and the Rescue Team, who sound and act like kids), and it leads to a lot of friction with the more experienced Brainmasters. It also means they tend to get left out of the major fights, due to lack of experience.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in the G.I. Joe comic books when a new character, codename Scoop, was introduced. He's well qualified for most military positions but he's new meat for the types of insanity the Joes get up to. In his first mission, everything goes to hell, the mission is a bust and it's a race back to the copter just to live. Scoop gains the respect of the veterans by helping a dazed and confused fellow soldier get to safety.
  • A very common story hook for Sgt. Rock, in just about every variation. However, since life's never easy in Easy Company, they don't have what you'd call a stellar track record for survival.
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: The main character of "Rescue Angel" is on her first deployment and gets a little ribbing by the guys for her awe at the beauty of the Middle East.
  • Star Wars: Kanan: Due to the fate of Billaba's previous unit most of her battalion after taking on Caleb Dume as her padawan are new to the field; however, CT-1157 gets the most characterization and frequently lampshades the fact that the older officers are treating him as an untested newbie. He is among those Grey thinks shouldn't be out in the field yet, and he didn't even have a name (he later earns the name "Stance") when he joined the unit.
  • Bill Mauldin's WWII series Willie and Joe occasionally had fresh troops join the dogfaces up front, who're squeaky clean and freshly shaved compared to veterans who've been living in foxholes. Typical behavior included complaining about not being shot at after being in the Army for two days and still remembering how to march in parade formation.

    Fan Works 
  • Regardless of how much experience they have, any Turians who haven't fought humanity in Mythos Effect are considered new meat. Notably when a lieutenant meets with his commanding officer, he can tell the veterans from the newbies by their appearance. The new officers are all standing at parade rest in immaculate uniforms while the vets all look like they woke up in a body bag and crawled to the meeting.
  • Soren from the original version of The Night Unfurls is the most recent addition to the five Hunters, and he doesn't get to participate in important combat missions until much later in the story as a result of his status as a beginner. Contrary to usual depictions, the more seasoned members actively help him in his transition to become a part of the squad, instead of looking down or bullying him. Rather than being deadweight or unceremoniously killed off, Soren throws himself into every opportunity to improve, just like the others. However, he is still not as hardened as his peers. Although his mentor Kyril finally dubs him a full-fledged Hunter 17 chapters after his debut, Soren has to be given a pep talk about how one must have the courage to make hard choices in war.
  • Shell Shock features the platoon's new meat getting a chilling introduction to warfare.
  • The intro blurbs for the characters in We Are the Night describe Helena as "new to high school and new to the night shift." While having trained her whole life to join the Batfamily's ranks means she is quite capable, she approaches beating the tar out of bad guys with more enthusiasm and playfulness than any other member has any right to.
  • In Winter War, Orihime's older brother Sora ends up filling this role in the Hueco Mundo plotline. He's at the level of a gifted Academy student in their final year- when the rest of the group are experienced soldiers, most at high levels of power to boot. Naturally, he's useless in combat against powerful Arrancar. The team doesn't hold it against him, though, since he's not really there to fight. Rather, he's there because the team is hoping to get Orihime working with them- and since she's been held captive for months, they want to have someone there who knows her well enough to tell if she's able to help or about to crack, and serve as her Living Emotional Crutch if need be.
  • The Wrong Reflection: Eleya shuts up Dal Kanril by doing her best Drill Sergeant Nasty-style Death Glare, the description of which references boot camp students as "brainless boot"-s "the look that says, I don’t give a flying phekk if you’re Shakaar Edon himself; as far as I’m concerned you’re just another brainless boot who can’t tell which end of a combat knife goes into the other guy." Dal Kanril automatically snaps to attention despite herself and later mentions she felt like she was back in basic training.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Private Jones from the latter half of 28 Days Later. He's young, gawky, and a bit of a coward, but hell, he's one of the last ten sane men in England. They have to keep him around. He basically exists to spur on the plot point of "Manchester needs women!" and to briefly wear a frilly pink apron before dying horribly.
  • Apocalypse Now: Willard comments that the members of the boat transporting him are this:
    Willard: The crew were mostly just kids. Rock 'n' rollers with one foot in their graves.
  • Battle of Moscow: The cadets of the Podolsk military academy, boys in their late teens, taken directly from school and sent straight to the front lines, as the Soviets desperately struggle to contain a Nazi breakout on the road to Moscow. The teenagers acquit themselves well but are eventually annihilated when they recklessly attack what turns out to be a much larger German force.
  • PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) in Casualties of War is the newbie in this film, but in something like three weeks, he treats another newbie like new meat.
  • The Dawn Patrol is about British Royal Flying Corps pilots engaging in deadly combat against the Germans in World War I. Ace Pilot Scott is horrified when his little brother Donny shows up fresh out of flight school and is immediately sent into action. Sure enough, Donny is killed on his first flight.
  • Private Charlie Shakespeare in Deathwatch lied about his age to enlist, so he's very new meat indeed.
  • 'The Kid' from the Doom movie. Proves to be a heroic Redshirt, when he refuses the crazed Sarge's order to slaughter innocent people and receives a bullet for it.
  • The Eagle and the Hawk: Taken to the extreme in this movie, about a World War I fighter squadron. Five painfully young, wide-eyed replacements join the unit. Jerry, meeting them at the officer's club, gives a half-hearted pep talk. Then a bomb falls on the club. All five of the replacements are killed before they ever get to fly.
  • One such guy almost gets assigned the callsign "New Guy" by his squadronmates in Flight of the Intruder. They instead decide to call him Razor, because he looked too young to be shaving yet. note 
  • Private Norman Ellison of the film Fury (2014). He's a clerk typist with no battle experience, but he has to replace a beloved member of The Team who has been together for years. He is incompetent at first, but gets better and winds up being the only survivor of the tank crew at the end of the film.
  • Into the Storm (2014) is about giant killer tornadoes, rather than a war flick, but it still features Jacob, a slab of this on the team of twister-trackers. He gets roasted in a fire-cyclone.
  • The Lost Patrol has Pearson the new enlistee, a fresh-faced and hopelessly naïve boy who joined up because he wanted adventure out of Kipling. Not surprisingly, he's the first of the enlisted men to be killed.
  • Mosul (2020) has Kawa, who is so new to the police force that he hasn't even been issued an ID card before being deployed to ISIS's side of the titular city.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Linus Caldwell starts the movie as a small-time pickpocket who's added to the Benedict heist when Danny Ocean and Rusty decide they need "one more" on the team. The rest of the crew have a lot of fun needling him over his inexperience and obvious nerves. It doesn't help that Linus is insecure about being in the shadow of his parents who are both highly respected criminals.
  • Bill fills this role in The Odd Angry Shot, although he is not a complete example. he is on his first posting, but he is a professional soldier (having enlisted) rather than a conscript. He gets some ribbing from his squadmates, but this gradually dies away as they spend more time 'in-country'.
  • Only Old Men Are Going to Battle is about a Soviet fighter plane squadron engaging in regular combat against the Germans during World War II. The film opens with the captain greeting flight school newbies "Darkie" Shchedronov, "Romeo" Sagdullayev, and "Grasshopper" Aleksandrov, and holding them out of a battle due to their inexperience. Towards the end of the film, with Darkie having already been killed in combat, Romeo and Grasshopper, now grizzled veterans, greet a new group of flight school graduates.
  • Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) of Platoon, which is essentially a film about this trope.
    • Gardner even more so, as he is the new meat joining the platoon with Chris, only to be killed almost immediately.
  • Corporal Upham, the translator brought along in Saving Private Ryan. Not because he's new to the Army, but because his primary duties keep him away from the front lines and he's never fired his weapon since basic training. Which totally justifies his Heroic BSoD. Ends up avenging Cpt. Miller's death, as well as being one of only two members from the original team to survive the mission.
  • Starship Troopers: A common phrase used to refer to new recruits is "fresh meat for the grinder". Quite funny, in a horrible sort of way. In the end, Rico's decimated unit receives reinforcements, all of which are teens fresh out of boot camp (eerily reminiscent of World War II footage of the Nazis throwing in Child Soldiers by the end of the war). Rico quips that he and his second-in-command Ace (20-year old soldiers) are the "old men" now before proceeding to give the arrivals the exact same speech that the unit commander whom Rico replaced gave when he, Ace, and Dizzy joined the unit.
  • In Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, a soldier says "Grow up big and strong, we need fresh meat for the grinder" to a newly-born child in the arms of its mother.
  • Manning's squad in When Trumpets Fade is composed entirely of this.
  • In Whip It, Elliot Page plays Bliss "Babe Ruthless" Cavendar, a new Roller Derby skater ("Fresh meat" in the terminology of the sport)
    Eva Destruction: I love the taste of fresh meat.
  • In the World War 2 film The Big Red One a group of green US soldiers survive their first battle in North Africa thanks to their Sargent, a grizzled World War I veteran. Afterwards the soldiers are kept in the same squad and survive all the battles they fight in until the end of the war. However, the squad has a horrible record with any new members who join it. The rookies get killed so quickly that the veterans stop trying to learn their names. In the end, the soldiers realize that they have more in common with the veteran German soldier they captured than with their own army's New Meat.
  • Seven Ways from Sundown: Seven Jones is a still wet behind the ears rookie who arrives in Buckley to take up his first posting as a Texas Ranger. He is inexperienced and smaller than all of the other Rangers, and has never handled a six-shooter. Then he and the unit's Sergeant Rock are sent out to bring the territory's most infamous outlaw, by themselves...
  • The "Uwe Boll" Vietnam war film Tunnel Rats has Miller, a talkative farm kid who is ignored by all but one of his unit upon arrival, with them being convinced that he'll quickly die and not wanting to get attached. He doesn't, while all but one or two of them do.
  • The fresh-faced Jamie Groves in Hangman's Knot who has never killed a man.

  • The Alice Network: When Eve arrives in Lille, it's her first time in the field. Lili and Violette drill her harshly on procedure and yell at her when she answers incorrectly; not out of malice, but because they want to impress upon her the severity of life in Lille and help her survive there.
  • Somewhat common in Warhammer 40,000 literature...
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Straight Silver, many of the Ghosts are struck by how young their allies are. Kolea talks for a bit about "the kids" and how young they are; Criid, thinking for a moment that he meant her children, realizes that he meant the New Meat and that his memory was not healing.
    • In His Last Command, Ludd must get the Dev Hetra, a unit of New Meat, into battle. Through a combination of encouragement, threats, and Talk to the Fist, he succeeds; the commander asks him to stay with them, to lead him the benefit of his experience, which lets him stay so cool under fire because he must remember his first battle. Ludd, who is, in fact, in his first battle, says that, yes, you do remember it.
    • Subverted in Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Xenos. Eisenhorn rescues some green soldiers from a "tetrascape", where Alien Geometries reign. Later, he chooses them over experienced soldiers to go into one. Wise of him: the green soldiers had actually seen a tetrascape before, and the experienced ones hadn't. As a result, the "greens" manage to shoot and kill dozens of enemies, but the elite Deathwatch Space Marine attached to Eisenhower's squad can't hit anything thanks to the effect the twisted geometries have on ballistics.
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel For The Emperor, the PDF unit that tries to stop them from escorting the tau to their compound consists of young soldiers. They have to be massacred to the last man to prevent the word from getting out, and Cain, and his soldiers, find it Dirty Business.
      • In Cain's Last Stand, Cain's review of the new PDV forces inspires more cynical thoughts.
      • Duty Calls notes that Valhallans have a term for new meat: "FNG", or "fung" - short for "frakking new guy". One Valhallan unit known for its Leeroy Jenkins tendencies even has higher morale than would be associated with their usual losses, since these losses are mostly fungs. This is Truth in Television: FNG or "fung" is real slang in some English-speaking militaries, though substitute "frakking" for the other F-bomb.
    • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Grey Hunter, Ragnor presses into battle with young Marines. The sight of them makes him wonder whether he had ever looked as green to his superiors — and conclude that he had. (Though a long time ago.)
    • Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon is about an Imperial Guard recruit whose troopship ends up landing on the wrong planet. They were supposed to be going to put down a rebellion, but they literally fall right into the middle of an ongoing war between the Guard and an Ork Waaagh(!). Annoyingly, the main character gets referred to as 'new fish' at least once every other page. By the way, the title of the work refers to the projected survival time for a fresh Guardsman in a warzone. He beats the odds but not by very much...
  • Poor, poor Havemercy's Balfour, who has been subject to the other Airmen's harsh treatment, especially Rook's, even after he became an integral part of their ranks.
  • In All Quiet on the Western Front, the new recruits are almost useless, because they have no knowledge about trench warfare. The narrator says: "A man would like to spank them, they are so stupid, and to take them by the arm and lead them away from here where they have no business to be."
  • In the nonfiction book Dispatches about covering the Vietnam War, reporter Michael Herr is greeted this way by a platoon commander. "Go and find another unit to get killed with, Fresh Meat."
  • Any novice Guardian is regarded as this. Jake's role as the New Meat is one of the subplots of Demon Night.
    • Bit character Pinter is referred as the FNG: the Fucking New Guy.
  • Codex Alera refers to new legionnaires as fish, since all they do is "flop around." The legion in question has enough that they're able to make an entire company out of them, unofficially dubbed the Knights Pisces. Then they take a level in badass at about the same time Tavi pulls out the sharks. They take the name with pride, and use a shark silhouette as their emblem.
  • In Homage to Catalonia, many of the people in Orwell's company, including himself, have no prior war experience though that is likely because many of them are still teenagers. They don't even get any decent training before going to the frontlines.
  • In Victoria, the units of all-female Azania's Amazon Brigade that Rumford's Confederate squadron fight seem to be this, being easily frightened and poorly trained. Most of the Confederation officers attribute their poor performance to their natural female inferiority, but the story establishes earlier on that the Azanians were busily expanding their forces in anticipation of the Confederate invasion, and were suffering a critical shortage in trained personnel in the meantime.
  • In The Winter War by Antti Tuuri, a new boy arriving at the front says he'd like to try firing a rifle because he's never fired an army rifle before. All we learn about him after that is that he did not last long.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Showed up on Adam-12 from time to time. Reed himself was this toward the beginning, but later, a few eps had other rookies as one-off characters (though they usually didn't die.)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Skye spends most of the first season as a civilian consultant, but Coulson makes no attempt to hide the fact that he's planning on inducting her into S.H.I.E.L.D. officially, even assigning veteran agent Grant Ward as her SO. Her naivete causes numerous personality conflicts, not to mention the time that Fitzsimmons decide that since they've never had an underling before, they should start pranking her. She officially becomes an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in episode 16... one episode before S.H.I.E.L.D. is officially (but temporarily) disbanded, meaning that for the rest of the season, she's literally the newest and lowest ranking agent in the entire organization.
  • In the ultra-realistic WWII drama Band of Brothers, some replacements survive and become integrated into the unit... others don't. The veterans either take them under their wings and try to teach them as much as possible to prep them for battle(Guarnere and Bull) or are bitterly hostile towards them (Cobb and Perconte [see page quote]); because depending on green recruits tends to get you killed. There's also the fear of getting to know them that comes out as hate.
    • There's a bit of a subversion with Babe Heffron. He arrives as a replacement after the company returns from Normandy. However, it turns out that he and Bill Guarnere grew up mere blocks from each other in South Philadelphia, so Guarnere immediately strikes up a friendship with him. The result is that Babe essentially becomes an honorary "Toccoa Man" before he and the other replacements see combat.
    • The opening episodes show the entire company as New Meat since none of them have combat experience when they are sent into battle on D-Day. The viewpoint characters quickly learn how easy it is for a soldier to die when you are learning on the job.
    • A later episode had Webster, a member of the company since boot camp in the US, return to the unit after spending a fair bit of time in the hospital recovering from a wound. He missed the harrowing experience of the Battle of the Bulge and his shell-shocked comrades cannot relate to him anymore. They start treating him like New Meat which makes him quite angry since he was a veteran of D-Day and Operation Market Garden.
    • Another episode set near the end of the war has a New Meat soldier named O'Keefe assigned guard duty alongside Perconte who chews him out for his over-eagerness for battle. To Perconte, an "easy" post with warm meals and a bed to sleep in every night is the best thing to ever happen to him throughout the whole war. Later, he does show comfort to O'Keefe when they find the concentration camps and the sights inside.
  • The "nuggets", especially Hot Dog, Kat, and a gaggle of others from the new Battlestar Galactica. Hot Dog and Kat don't remain New Meat long, though; Battlestar Galactica wasn't a show where Status Quo Is God. While the rest of the newbie pilots are killed soon after, Kat becomes an experienced pilot that rivals Starbuck in terms of skill and attitude by the time of her death. Likewise, of the initial recruits, Hot Dog is the only one to survive the ending of the series. By that time, he is one of Galactica's most experienced and respected pilots. He even leads the Viper wing during the assault on the Colony.
  • Holly Gribbs in the CSI Pilot: fresh out of the academy, visits each cast member in turn to introduce them to the audience, is given a pep-talk (by Catherine, who would later regret it) about the job, and is killed in her very first case when the suspect returns to the scene of the crime. This causes Grissom to be promoted to shift supervisor (and Brass is demoted back to Homicide), whereupon he summons Sara Sidle to fill the vacant role.
    • CSI had a little of this with Langston during season 11. He was a middle-aged guy but still new to the CSI team.
  • Pretty much every newcomer on Flashpoint is this to some extent, even those who are generally experienced, lending credence to the idea that there is no experience that can fully prepare one for SRU.
    • Sam Braddock: Fresh from the military, starts off wanting to go tactical every time negotiations don't work immediately. He improves significantly over the course of the first season; in Season 4, he is stated to have been the Team Leader pro tem while Ed was recovering from being shot. (He gets the permanent promotion in the series finale.)
    • Donna Sabine seems at first like she's going to avert this trope, but she is badly shaken by her first lethal shot and badly botches a subsequent call as a result, requiring Ed to confront her about her problem. She does get better, though she mostly fades into the background when she transfers to Team Three upon Jules' return.
    • Leah Kerns handles her first episode fairly well (personal faux pas notwithstanding), but runs into trouble in her second episode when she contradicts Ed's tactical plan and subsequently misses the first hint he tries to give that she's out of line. Sam has to signal to her to back down.
    • Raf Rousseau begins his first day by showing up late (though this can be forgiven since apparently they neglected to inform him that there was a team workout before the start of shift), then fumbles and gets in Jules' way while trying to talk down a man contemplating suicide, and caps it off by entering an active situation without clearance . Unlike the others, it's only his first episode where this causes problems; while his inexperience is mentioned in later episodes, it never becomes the source of an issue, suggesting he at least learned what his limitations were and how to stay within them.
  • The miniseries Hornblower, belonging to Wooden Ships and Iron Men genre, had a couple of examples from the Navy. Sometimes the seasoned and experienced sailors were patient enough with them, sometimes... not so much.
    • The series starts with Hornblower coming aboard Justinian. Luckily for him, it's not a war yet, and he has some time to adapt. However, he's a midshipman who is older than he should be (he's 17, and 12 was considered the ideal age to become a middie). He vomits while the ship is harboured, to the amusement of his colleagues, and he's afraid of heights (great when he has to climb to adjust the sails). Plus, he has to deal with a sadistic bully. When the war starts, he and some of his fellow middies get transferred to a frigate, where he shows his Sink or Swim Mentor that not only he has it together, but that he's The Hero with a promising future. His division who originally had little respect for him start to worship him and he inspires nothing but absolute loyalty in them.
    • Mr Wellard is a New Meat of a Midshipman in the second installment. He demonstrates his being green by vomiting when he sees a sailor get splattered on deck, and by being incapable to make lower-deck seamen shut up and break their fight. (However, the sailor's disrespect gets Lts Hornblower and Kennedy absolutely furious on his behalf, and they defend him.) Their mad Captain chooses Wellard as a whipping boy because he can't flog his lieutenants. The ship's doctor treats his severe wounds with laudanum, and he spends much of "Mutiny" being high. In "Retribution", he gets a chance to prove himself competent and brave. However, he dies during a battle when their ship is taken over by their Spanish prisoners.
    • Jack Hammond is eager and enthusiastic to serve in the Navy, however, he's not suited for it. He can't learn naval signals, he's squeamish and panicky. He freaks out when he witnesses a flogging and then when he gets sputtered with a little boy's blood. Even seaman Matthews who's kind and fatherly and who originally tried to help him loses his patience with him. When his Captain tries to convince him that he should choose a different and less violent career, he insists that it's his dream and that his family expects him to serve in the Navy. He doesn't make it, but gets redeemed before he dies. His last deeds were brave.
  • Timothy McGee in NCIS. For the first couple of seasons, he is extremely inexperienced and prefers to hide behind his computer than to do fieldwork. His teammates, particularly Tony, enjoy taunting him, often calling him "Probie" or other variations thereof. Within the course of a few seasons, however, he has matured greatly - after being promoted to Senior Field Agent when Gibbs unexpectedly retires to Mexico, he relishes in his new responsibility and earns the respect of his coworkers.
  • NUMB3RS has Colby Granger in Season 2 and Nikki Bentencourt in Season 5. Colby figures it out pretty quickly (his issue is implied to be more that he's still shaking off the military mindset), but Nikki is in hot water with Don on and off for most of her first season on the show. She does eventually come around, largely because of her guilt over Don's stabbing, and the worst thing she does in Season 6 is throwing herself back into full duty too quickly after a serious car accident.
  • NYC 22 follows six rookie officers from their first day at work.
  • As with the Band of Brothers example above, comes up in its Spiritual Successor The Pacific with Eugene Sledge and Bill Leyden. They learn really fast on Peleliu. Later during the Battle of Okinawa, Sledge and Leyden themselves are no less disparaging of two replacements in their unit. Their bullying eventually leads one to have a nervous break that gets the other killed. Unfortunately, the replacement who died was actually beginning to fit in.
  • The Shield:
    • Tina Hanlon.
    • Julian is the New Meat in the early seasons, but gains the respect of the other cops by beating the hell out of a prisoner who tried to give his partner HIV. He is the one who trains Tina in the later seasons, so the same character gets to experience the trope from both sides.
  • Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko serves this role in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He's less fortunate than the average New Meat; the crew of a Klingon vessel accepts him, but only as the ship's resident Chew Toy. He seems to be a bit of an unlucky klutz, so they figure he's drawing any misfortune the ship and crew might suffer onto himself. Most of the time, said misfortune is more humiliating than harmful.
  • Ensign Harry Kim of Star Trek: Voyager is presented as the naïve fresh-out-of-Starfleet Academy rookie to contrast with more experienced characters. His introductory scene shows him being conned by Quark on Deep Space Nine until he's rescued by the more worldly-wise Tom Paris, and bad things tend to happen to him more than anyone else. Unfortunately lazy scriptwriting meant he was stuck in this character type for seven years, despite the occasional acknowledgement that he had actually gained a good deal of experience and should have been a veteran.
  • S.W.A.T. (2017): Zoe Powell graduates from SWAT Academy in Season 5 and gets formally assigned to 20-Squad by the start of Season 6.
  • The X-Files, "Alone": This season 8 episode featured a young and eager Agent Harrison who worked in administration and was a fan of Agents Mulder and Scully and their work. She trained to become a field Agent and begged to be put on investigating cases in the X-Files division with Agent Doggett when Scully takes her maternity leave. Doggett tries to be patient with her and tries to treat her like a lady, but she's getting on his nerves. That poor woman even doesn't know what to do with her gun... The episode ends with Agent Harrison in the hospital, realizing that the X-Files division is too big for her.

  • In extreme sports, newcomers are routinely called "fresh meat".
    • Likewise, in competitive sailing, rookie crews are called "fresh meat crews".
  • In roller derby, the new skaters are "fresh meat."


    Video Games 
  • Chitose fills this role in Galaxy Angel Moonlit Lovers.
  • Elena of the Turks in Final Fantasy VII, also a Naïve Newcomer of the third person kind. She's dedicated to the job but tries too hard, and is often mocked by the lazier members of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad.
  • He's not quite the new kid, but no one's going to single out a Silencer for hazing, so the Resistance fighter Private "Taxman" Andrews (he used to be from the equivalent of the IRS—strike two) of Crusader pretty much fulfills the requirements of the Red Shirt.
  • The Rookie in Halo 3: ODST. He's not exactly green, seeing as how he's a Marine veteran who's already a member of the ODSTs. But he's new to the squad.
  • Every squad has a brave soldier who has to open the UFO doors and take a ton of reaction fire when you're raiding crashed alien ships in X-COM: UFO Defense. This is that soldier. The rest are likely of a rank no lower than Sergeant.
    • In all the X-COM games, every soldier starts off as New Meat, and usually not very good New Meat. The few soldiers that manage to survive the first few missions (in which they are completely unarmoured and wielding peashooters) generally ascend to godhood in terms of ability by the end of the game. Except that, due to variable overflow, any stat growing over 255 will be lowered to (X-255). That means your god-like unit having 2 movement points or fainting from low stamina.
    • The same applies to Xenonauts, X-COM's Spiritual Successor, although the stat maxima are considerably lower.
  • The Ace Combat series likes this trope:
    • The player character of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, Mobius One, is this at first, as the first mission in the campaign is his first mission. By the end, though...
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War actually has a special term for this trope (in the air force context): "nuggets". Your entire squadron (except the late-game addition of The Sixth Ranger) is composed of nuggets of various degrees of inexperience. Nagase has most flying experience behind her, Blaze (the player character) and Chopper are roughly equal at first, and Grimm is introduced during an air raid on the player's air base with one of your wingmen incredulously reminding him he hasn't finished combat training yet, but he takes off anyway. Inverted in that while his later appearance in cutscenes shows us he is obviously at least five years younger and built smaller than the rest of The Squad, he's good enough to contribute to the base defense, and is soon considered an ace by his peers once inexperience is no longer an issue. Later some rookie pilots show up who help very slightly for a few minutes before dying because they apparently couldn't point their nose at the sky for two or three seconds.
    • Averted by the player character Cipher and his wingman Pixy in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, who are both seasoned mercenary fighter pilots as the game starts, but played straight by the allied Crow Squadron, one of whom, PJ, becomes your wingman after Pixy deserts.
    • In the first SP Mission for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, if Trigger shoots down one of the SU-57s defending the Alicorn, one of the other Erusean pilots will call out: "Damn you! That was our youngest pilot!".
  • Benjamin Carmine in Gears of War 2, who actually ends up surviving a lot longer than his (presumably more experienced) brother Anthony did in the first game.
  • Pretty much the new recruits in the Final Fantasy Tactics series. They join the party with no items equipped, no abilities mastered, and may be under-leveled depending on the party's average level. By Final Fantasy Tactics A2, new recruits come with basic armor and a basic weapon that teaches them their first ability for their job.
  • Initiate Reddins in Fallout 3, who made the tragic mistake of not realizing that when several heavy, explosion-like sounds go off right next to you, you should probably move. Periphery text within the game notes that her funeral got canceled. Harsh.
    • She does get a Posthumous double promotion though.
      • Some fans think that she didn't deserve it, that Lyons only gave her that promotion out of pity.
  • Ten of Spades in Fallout: New Vegas. He hopes to some day earn the call-sign Ace of Spades, but the Lieutenant in charge of his unit insists he's too green and needs to score more kills before he can call himself that, hence his current call-sign.
  • Parodied (along with every other war trope) in Cannon Fodder, with the New Meat forming an orderly queue in front of Boot Hill as it (rapidly) becomes covered in gravestones.
  • Call of Duty 4 gives us this loading screen conversation; the level in question is actually called 'F.N.G':
    Gaz: Good news first: the world's in great shape. We've got a civil war in Russia, government loyalists against Ultranationalist Rebels, and fifteen thousand nukes at stake.
    Captain Price: Just another day at the office. [...] And the bad news?
    Gaz: We got a new guy joining us today, fresh out of Selection. His name's Soap.
    • Interestingly, in real life, Selection is a brutally difficult training and weeding-out process, and soldiers that get through it are considered by the rest of the world military incredibly badass. Of course everyone else in the unit passed it too, so to Price and Gaz, Soap's nothing special. The status of this trope is relative. Perhaps best exemplified by this conversation:
      Gaz: It's the FNG, sir. Go easy on him sir, it's his first engagement.
      Price: Riiiight. What the hell kinda name is Soap, eh? How'd a muppet like you pass selection?
    • In Call of Duty: World at War, Corporal Roebuck narrates at the beginning of "Little Resistance", which takes place two years after the 1942 raid on Makin Atoll, that he, Sergeant Sullivan, and Private Miller (the protagonist) have been joined by fresh recruits, and are now referred to as the "old breed" despite still being in their twenties. One of the new guys is Private Polonsky, but he graduates from this status quickly and becomes an essential part of the trio after Sullivan is killed and Roebuck is promoted to sergeant. He may even outlive Roebuck himself if you save him at the end of "Breaking Point".
    • One of these also serves as a boat gunner during the mission "Crash Site" in Call of Duty: Black Ops, much to Woods' dismay. He dies engaging a Soviet PT, and you probably won't even notice he's gone until it's already been destroyed. Mason recalls that Woods was crying afterwards, but that he never showed any tears.
  • Yorito Nagai starts out as this in Siren 2. He gets better.
  • Reinforcing troops in Company of Heroes often gets this sort of response, especially from Wehrmacht Grenadiers.
    Grenadier: Hey new guy, hope you got your shit together.
    Grenadier: Hey new guy, try not to fuck it up!
  • The "Recruit" background for Mike in Alpha Protocol will have him with barely three months of experience, as opposed to being a talented soldier, experienced black ops guy, or a skilled tech user. Gameplay-wise, you start out with no points to invest in your skills, making Mike seem like something of an Action Survivor.
  • Corporal Richard L. Jenkins in Mass Effect, who's killed two minutes into your first mission on Eden Prime.
  • In World of Warcraft,
    • While there are many badass Pandaren warriors of various classes and specialties, most of the new recruits are this. In Shado-Pan Monastery, an event before the second boss involves you (non-lethally) taking down 20 Shado-Pan Initiates, who fixate on random party members, but are generally not a threat even for healers or cloth wearers given how quickly they are defeated. In one Golden Lotus daily quest, you have to fight against 20 trainees, each of whom has about a tenth of the health of the common enemies throughout the zones. The quest giver for the latter laments that the trainees are too weak to be relied on in any sense.
    • In an Alliance quest in the Jade Forest, you are given the task of training several Jinyu of various classes by having them kill wildlife alongside you. They start out weak, but by the time you take a squad of them against the Hozen nearby, they're quite able to competently assist you.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, joining any of the larger organizations will have you treated like this initially, regardless of your skills, current level, or prior accomplishments. The Companions will treat you as a wet-eared rookie, Nazir of the Dark Brotherhood doubts you'll survive more than a week, and so on. The only real exception is General Tullius of the Imperial Legion, who recognizes that you're made of hardier stock than most recruits... and sends you to prove yourself by clearing out a whole bandit fort by yourself. (The Stormcloaks send you to a distant frozen island to slay an ice wraith as a similar test, but it's pretty much standard fare for all of them. They're just that hardy.)
  • In The Darkside Detective, this is spoofed in the season finale, where one of the police officers at the briefing that begins the episode is a rookie named Fresche Fish, who is on her first day on the same day as the city is caught in the grip of a Zombie Apocalypse. Two more experienced officers make a side bet about whether she'll live to the end of the day. She then disappears from the story entirely until somebody mentions in passing in the final scene that she survived.
  • After the opening segment of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty ends, the player finds that he is no longer playing as Solid Snake, but instead has taken control of Raiden, who tries to reassure his skeptical remote support team that his extensive training in virtual reality simulations makes him as good a soldier as anyone even though he lacks any actual combat experience. He proceeds to go through quite the Humiliation Conga throughout the game, as he (and by extension, the player) adapts to dealing with an actual battlefield. He's lying about his lack of real-world combat experience; he was a child soldier who was traumatized by his experiences, and he pretended to react to things such as killing someone "for the first time" the way he thought a rookie would in order to keep his past a secret.
  • BattleTech (2018) has a common mission type called "The B Team" where you are tasked to send out a skilled warrior to babysit three rookies with unflattering nicknames such as Guano, Stubble, Pontoon, and Burger Time. Fortunately, despite the mixture of enthusiasm and incompetence they display over the radio, you are actually able to command the rookies so they don't do anything especially stupid on their own. Unfortutnately, they're almost always assigned some manner of walking junkheap ranging from a half-broken Commando to a secondhand Urbanmech. If you're especially lucky, one of them will be assigned a mostly intact Panther. Most versions missions ask you to keep these three knuckleheads alive, but some don't, and in the instances where having the rookies come home alive isn't mandatory, a lot of players tend to use them as a form of ablative armor for their much more valuable, more important personal Battlemech.

    Web Animation 
  • Donut for the Red team and Caboose for the Blue team in Red vs. Blue. Donut manages to earn some basic respect from his comrades after capturing the Blue flag. Caboose team kills his own leader.
    • In a bit of an aversion, in season 9, the Freelancers initially think Texas is probably just New Meat and that the three (three!) Freelancers fighting her in the training room will easily defeat her. They very quickly change their minds.

  • Reena in Danger Zone One is a wide-eyed rookie at the Pallad City Police Department, not to mention new in town. It doesn't make her situation any easier when she's paired up with a loose cannon partner, 'Maniac' Madison.
  • For all intents and purposes, Emil from Stand Still, Stay Silent is this. He's been in the army for less than two years at the start of the story and his crewmates are either more than a decade older or Child Soldiers all grown up. His pre-story job was in a Demolitions Expert unit, which means he never fought a troll up close before Chapter 3. While the team quickly picks up a Little Stowaway who has even less real-world experience than Emil in many aspects, he also tends to stick with the non-combatants, making Emil the one who is gradually discovering the harsh truths on the combat side of things over the course of the story.

    Western Animation 
  • Protesting out loud against the sacrificing of New Meat as a mere diversion is what led to Prince Zuko receiving his scar in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Alice Noretti in Exo Squad is a bit of a subversion. Her death actually has an impact on the main character that shows up well into the second season, even more so when the bad guys clone her...
  • Mulan from the Disney film Mulan is New Meat with a later Samus Is a Girl reveal. She routinely messes up during her training, frustrating her military comrades. She's even asked to leave. She proves her worth by climbing the pole no one else could and helping defeat a wave of Huns, after which she is accepted as a valuable soldier.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In the pilot movie, Rex is quick to point out to Ahsoka that even if she does technically outrank him, she — as opposed to him — doesn't have any experience, which is far more important in battle.
  • Transformers: Prime: Smokescreen is this to Team Prime on Earth, having come from a (relatively) cushy post with the Elite Guard at Iacon. The only combat he ever saw before then was during a Decepticon raid; his over-enthusiastic approach to dealing with the Cons' welcoming party on Earth nearly gets Team Prime fried in an energon explosion. He's only accepted into the team after explaining to Optimus that he worked for Alpha Trion, Orion Pax's former mentor.

    Real Life 
  • The acronym "NIG" is used in the British Army: it means New In Green.
  • The Royal Air Force still uses the word "sprog" in similar circumstances, i.e. "sprog aircraftsman" or the WW2-era "erk".
  • The US Army is less-polite, it's "FNG" for "Fucking New Guy". The Marines refer to them as "Boots" because their boots are brand new.
  • The colloquial term for recruits in the South Korean military is "Chicks" (Byeongari) both to describe their naivete and a play on the word "Byeong", which refers to a lower tier and makes up part of the rank terms of enlisted soldiers.
  • The Finnish Army has many not-so-neat terms for newcomers, such as "mopo" ("moped"), "mokkeri" (literally "mockery") or "veripää" (blood-head). The Navy name for younger seaman is "kuli" (literally "coolie").
  • Some navies use the term "Red Ass", due to new sailors on a ship spending a lot of time sitting down when feeling seasick.
  • Any kid that just joined a cadet corps/squadron is usually seen (and feels) like this.