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Plucky Office Girl

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Every successful person at the office wears crisp expensive suits and projects an air of unwavering confidence. The plucky office girl doesn't. She is very talented and clever, has great ideas, and wonderful potential but nobody notices. She is often the butt of jokes, and the rest of the time is just invisible. So, she occupies a low ranking level at the company and seems to have no hope of a promotion despite her great potential. She is very sad and depressed, and often pretty complex but nobody is close enough to her to realize. Usually tasked with gopher (Go-For) jobs such as fetching coffee and notes, and so forth.

More cynical versions have the higher-ups profiting off her talent but never crediting it.

This will go one of two ways. First, she will get noticed by someone higher up on the food chain, get a makeover and learn to show confidence which gets her noticed. Or, second, she'll forever remain the Plucky Comic Relief, with only the occasional Day in the Limelight episode concentrating on her and her problems, wants, and dreams.

They're almost always Hollywood Homely, too.

Overlaps with The Woobie if she is the lead character. In black comedies, this often overlaps with the Chew Toy. Always Female, because the same behavior and treatment in a man comes across differently. In anime, the Office Lady tends to be this. Related to Badass Bureaucrat and Girl Friday. Contrast High-Powered Career Woman who is far more successful at pursuing her endless ambitions.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The main character in 9 to 5. In which Dolly Parton and others strove to break out of entry-level invisibility and to make something more for themselves.
  • Selina Kyle in Batman Returns is a Deconstruction of this trope. She's Hollywood Homely, has got a lot of ideas, and never gets noticed by her boss, due to her Shrinking Violet tendencies. When she finally does get noticed snooping around the office, he tries to kill her, and her sanity takes a sharp jump off a cliff.
  • Ruth's trusted secretary in On the Basis of Sex, who types up everything for Ruth and then critiques the use of the word "sex" given how Ruth has to convince a bunch of men about gender discrimination, even though it means she will have to re-type up everything to replace it with "gender".
  • Sam has Margaret: mixed with a dose of Hypercompetent Sidekick. She does a lot of work both Sam and his boss take credit for all the while nursing a hopeless crush on Sam. After Sam becomes a woman, "Samantha" strikes up a genuine friendship with Margaret and feels a lot of guilt for taking advantage of her for so long. Later after a successful report Samantha and Margaret both work on Samantha persuades her boss to give the promotion to Margaret.
  • In Why Be Good?, Pert is the best salesgirl in her department, and is fairly popular with her coworkers.
  • Tess McGill, Melanie Griffith's character in Working Girl, is an ambitious secretary from Staten Island who takes over her new boss's role while the boss is laid up with a broken leg. The secretary, who has been going to business night school, pitches a profitable idea, only to have the boss attempt to take credit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kitty from Arrested Development is sort of an insane one of these who has enough knowledge to manipulate everyone, but is crazy and all she really wants is George Sr. (and to have a baby with him).
  • Kristy in the Cupid episode, "Botched Makeover".
  • Donna Noble in Doctor Who. She's been a temp for years and is broadly ignored in every office she works in but has picked up a lot of stuff, including a 100wpm typing speed. She uses her knowledge of office-based activity to solve mysteries more than once, such as realising all the staff in a factory are alien clones because the HR records show that none of them have ever taken a sick day. As with all things Doctor Who, It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The ironically-named Joy Merryweather in Drop the Dead Donkey resents being the low-level gopher for the Globelink News office. Reasonable, as she has more brains than Gus, Dave and the rest put together. Everyone's wary of her though, given her taste for revenge and ferocious headbutts.
  • When Lucy Coe first appeared on General Hospital, she was a plucky librarian girl. After a run-in with bad boy Kevin O'Connor, she ditched the mousy trappings and became one of the more celebrated bad girls in the show's history.
  • Greek: In stark contrast to her appearance in the previous chapter (where she was a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant to the CRU ZBZ house), Lizzi fulfills this trope to the rest of ZBZ Nationals at the convention.
  • The Happy Apple is about Nancy Gray; a young secretary at an advertising agency. Nancy's gift is that she is 'more average than average'. This grants her an uncanny ability to predict which campaigns will resonate with the public and which will flop: which makes her invaluable to her bosses.
  • Carrie Heffernan, a legal secretary for sporadically indifferent employers, in The King of Queens, swerves between resentful frustration and a desire to enhance her working status.
  • Peggy in Mad Men, justified by it being the early Sixties. It's gradually subverted as she pushes her way up the ladder.
  • Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show basically starts out as one of these. She's got spunk, though.
    • While Mary is given the seemingly-prestigious title of associate producer of the Six O'Clock News in the very first episode, it's initially established that the job itself is no great shakes, and actually pays less than the secretarial position she'd planned to apply for. In fact, when she eagerly accepts the alternate job offer, Lou even offers to make her a full producer in exchange for an additional pay cut; she declines, sheepishly admitting that she can barely afford to be an associate. She does come to take on more responsibility as the show progresses.
  • Judy Greer went to this trope quite frequently in the short-lived series Miss Guided.
  • Pam on The Office (US). She begins the series as the epitome of this trope, a tired woman who has long ago given up her dream to be an artist and engaged to her high school boyfriend who doesn't appreciate her. She basically has to be a receptionist, take care of her boss Michael and put up with the craziest co-workers ever. However, season 3 gave her major Character Development and a confidence boost. In season 5 she asserts herself and ends up going to art school and later gets promoted to a salesman. In season 7, when it becomes obvious that sales just aren't for her, she successfully uses a Batman Gambit to get herself promoted to Office Administrator, a job she (so far) seems to love. Oh, and she ends up Happily Married and Babies Ever After to the much more compatible Jim.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • If Leslie Knope didn't come along after The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she might very well be the epitome or trope namer.
    • April Ludgate could be a parody of this character. She begins the series as The Snark Knight intern who takes on a full-time position as Ron's assistant, and he likes her specifically for the fact that she's good at stonewalling people who want to meet with him and is a Professional Slacker. However, as the series progresses and she becomes closer to her co-workers, she becomes more involved with her work and more driven to better herself.
  • Spaced: Daisy predicts she will end up something like this, but it doesn't happen.
  • Ezri Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine who is quite emotive and openly insecure as the station's new counselor in the final season. Entering into an already established friend circle in the middle of a war with the legacy of Jadzia to hold up, she has a lot to prove.
  • Torchwood's Toshiko, to a certain extent, who often seems to be having a lot less fun than the rest of the team. Rather than going out into the field and doing thrilling things, she's the Voice with an Internet Connection. Rather than having lots of sex, she has a Cartwright Curse. And when she gets some Applied Phlebotinum that allows her to read minds, she's shocked and hurt to discover that she's everybody's Butt-Monkey. Still, she's extremely clever. Sadly, she dies. Ianto is a bit of a Gender Flipped variant. He's secretly a dangerous volcano of angst, at least at first, but nobody cares enough to notice as long as he keeps bringing them coffee, and before he gets to know him, Jack appreciates him more for his dress sense than his talents and personality. Sadly, he dies too.
  • Karen Billings, Pam Dawber's character in The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "But Can She Type".
  • Pretty much the whole point of Ugly Betty. The main character, Betty Suarez, is a recent college graduate desperate to work in the magazine industry. She's hired by Bradford Meade, the president of Meade Publications, to be the assistant to Daniel Meade, the editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Mode, because she's so frumpy and unglamorous (unlike virtually everyone else who works there). Daniel is Bradford's son, and Bradford is tired of Daniel sleeping with his assistants and then breaking their hearts. Betty, however, proves to be much more than Bradford or Daniel expected.
  • Donatella Moss from The West Wing started off like this, but as her raw competence and devotion to her boss grew as the series went on, she went from being just another Plucky Office Girl to being a B-level heroine in her own right.
  • Bailey Quarters from WKRP in Cincinnati is a Meganekko version.

  • The theme song to the film 9 to 5 (above), performed by Dolly Parton, explained the theme of the film with dry sardonic humour and was a worldwide hit.
    Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'
    Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'
    They just use your mind and they never give you credit
    It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it

    Video Games 
  • Gaia Online's Meredith is one. She mentions during Ian's trial that she graduated from college at the age of fifteen, proving that she has the intelligence and motivation to do greater things, but after all these years she's still just a half-forgotten bank teller. Much to the dismay of her multitude of fans.
    • When the bank had a store setup and Meredith was effectively a shopkeeper, she had a line indicating that carrying large amounts of gold around had given her Super-Strength. This received a Call-Back when...
    • A Chance Item (random item generator) gives Meredith a Day in the Limelight in which she's revealed to moonlight as super-heroine Alpha Girl.
  • Sachiko in the "Koi no Dance Site" level of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. Whether she has the first or second kind of ending is whether you win or lose the level.
  • Team Fortress 2: Despite being the boss's secretary and ground control for the Mercs, Miss Pauling receives little respect from the Administrator and the Team; her efforts to avoid bad situations have either been ignored or backfired spectacularly. Subverted later in the plot, as the Administrator eventually recognizes Miss Pauling's growing competence by trusting her with increasingly important assignments, culminating in reassembling the Red Team. Which, given her character, is worth more than a thousand words.

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman has two deconstructed examples:
    • Mia McKibben works as an assistant in Hollywood Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let's Find Out! and has every trait of an Aaron Sorkin female protagonist: competent, assertive, professional and willing to put a façade of good team worker. Except, because of her need to stay on top in a man's world and dislike for unprofessionalism, she's also an A-grade Jerkass Competition Freak with no qualms about her insufferable ego.
    • Stefani Stilton, CEO of GirlCroosh and Diane's boss, has competence, a bubbly attitude and almost diabetes-inducing tone, all of which has little to do with her real attitude which she often uses to her advantage to go for the hottest scoop. Not a cartoonish villain by any chance, just a cheerful individual whose job efficiency is made possible by a humble, pragmatic knowledge of her cynical soul.
  • The dog Honey in HouseBroken who wants to rise above her imposed social status and find purpose among her gaggle of pet friends by being a therapist.