President Business: Diabolical...
The Ridiculously Average Guy is pretty much middle-of-the-road in all things. He's not ugly, but he's not particularly handsome (or pretty or cute) either. He's not a moron, but he's not one of the best in his class either. (He will probably tend towards the low end or in the middle on grades, possibly even failing his entrance exams, but he's not portrayed as aggressively or particularly stupid, either.) He has no special powers, even if the rest of the cast does pretty much as a rule.note He's not a complete weakling, but neither does he excel at any physical activities. He most likely has a ridiculously common hair color, like brown, dark brown, or black. It's virtually always a "he" because in fiction, being female is a special characteristic in and of itself.
So why the hell is he the main character?
Well, obviously, it's because the writers intend the audience to find him easy to relate to. Of course, considering that he winds up completely and totally overshadowed in almost all things by everyone around him, this fairly easily winds up turning into This Loser Is You. Pretty much everyone around him will constantly be telling him just what a loser he is, and the Ridiculously Average Guy usually has very little, if anything, to say in his defense.
To offset these obvious drawbacks and make his inclusion into The Team look less ridiculous, he may be The Heart or the Only Sane Man of the group to bring something on the table that doesn't require superhuman powers. If the story features supernatural powers, especially those that reduce regular Muggles to mere pawns, a popular choice is to give him a nullification power: either he can temporarily cancel the powers of others, or those powers don't work on him. Not only does this underline his aggressive and all-consuming mundanity, effectively forcing it onto others, but makes it a Disability Superpower that brings opponents down to his level, allowing him to more-or-less-believably overcome them with primitive means and "simple life wisdom", implying they are so used to their powers they become Fish out of Water when they don't work or at least don't work as expected.
Of course, he will also inevitably be central to some world-saving plot, come out on top at the end of every chapter, and have exceptionally beautiful and sexy, cute and fun, or just plain goofy girls hanging all over him and begging to be allowed to fulfill his every fantasy, usually along with one who acts like she hates him but will probably wind up with him in the end anyway.
This trope is most noticeable (and confusing) for how he winds up with these girls, this fate, or those victories. The girls especially... sure, he's a decent guy and all, but often the only explanation seems to be that girls, when offered chances to be with the most handsome, richest, most famous, and in all other ways exceptional guys, actually prefer the dude who's going to give them a life with the absolute fewest surprises and least excitement possible. Can be (and probably has been) an example of Wish Fulfillment on the part of the writer. Or alternatively done so for the male audience.
Sometimes, the guy isn't a main character... he's just some plain, normal guy that nevertheless tempts a strong female character with her own life of excitement and adventure with the prospect of settling down to a nine-to-five in a city apartment to possibly have 2.5 children. He's also the surprise a lot of writers have waiting in the wings to make sure that the Romantic Two-Girl Friendship actually turns into Bait-and-Switch Lesbians.
Of course, to a degree, this is Truth in Television, since some women do want stable guys they always know what to expect from but, just like the idea that All Girls Want Bad Boys, it's a generalization.
Most of the time he's the hero of the story. Conversely, this can serve as an extremely good Secret Identity.
Compare Unlikely Hero, Unlucky Every Dude, The Everyman, Featureless Protagonist, White Male Lead, Stock Light-Novel Everyman, The Generic Guy, Standardized Leader, They Look Just Like Everyone Else! (for when it's the villain) and The Nondescript (who looks ridiculously average). Contrast Implausible Hair Color.
- Tsukune from Rosario + Vampire is probably king of this trope. A dead-average guy sent to a school full of monsters, he has every single woman he meets either wanting to be his one true friend, his girlfriend, his wife, or his... uh, devourer, but still. The only thing that isn't average about him is how ridiculously average he is.
- He does get Ghoul powers later on in the manga, and once he controls it, he swiftly kicks ass with them. Of course, since it's a highly dangerous (to him) Superpowered Evil Side, he stops using it voluntarily and goes back to Rosario removing.
- Even apart from that, it does help that his reputation is much better than truly warranted before too long.
- As the series goes on, this becomes less and less true as he goes from a painfully average student to an absurdly powerful Shinso vampire. The gradual adaptation to his Shinso blood caused by his Holy Lock also causes him to become increasingly attractive over the course of the series, to the point where he's considered far above average in looks, even pulling the attention of human girls while advertising for a small hotel. Also worth noting is that his body at this point is both muscular and covered in large scars from the countless life-threatening injuries he sustained during the course of the series. Needless to say, he becomes anything but average.
- The anime, on the other hand, more or less keeps his ridiculously average guy persona throughout both seasons.
- Most of the guys in My-HiME are just sort of background noise, unless (or until) they're plot-relevant. And yet they have some of the prettiest and most popular (and superpowered) girls in school longing for them, and in the manga, one of them became the main character and had Mai and Natsuki actively fighting over him. (At least there they came up with the excuse that he could unleash their full powers.)
- In Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Linna's mother sets her up on an omiai date with a nice, normal, unexceptional guy. Linna is actually tempted into giving up her life of independence and excitement in the city (and moonlighting as a Knight Saber) to settle down and marry the guy.
- Keitaro from Love Hina. Struggling to squeak by on his grades, average as far as looks go, and for most of the series, his only exceptional physical trait is his ability to survive the horrendous amounts of abuse Naru, Motoko, and Kaolla heap on him. But practically every girl in Hinatasou (and a few without) wind up falling head-over-heels for him, and in the end, he gets to marry his chosen one, while several of the others are left quietly pining over him.
- Rock from Black Lagoon was a well-educated but otherwise dead-average working stiff until he crossed paths with the Lagoon Company. Of course, once he meets up with them he shows that he can pull some amazing stunts out of his ass, but still most of his character centers around the idea of tossing your average Japanese Salaryman into over-the-top situations, and often having some of the most interesting (and most psychotic) people on the planet find him utterly fascinating. Maybe because he can be so batshit insane compared to the more level-headed (and yet violent) characters that it amazes them. Dutch certainly never would've thought of using a wrecked ship as a boat ramp to launch a torpedo into the cockpit of an attack chopper, and Balalaika ends up indulging Rock by wiping out a whole Yakuza group at his request, even though she was ostensibly there to ally with them.
- Hanatarō Yamada from Bleach is basically the most average Soul Reaper to ever enter the Gotei 13 ranks. Even his name is a nod to this ("Tarō Yamada" is the rough Japanese equivalent to "John Doe" or "John Smith", with an extra kanji tacked on for good measure in Hanatarō's case). Upon his introduction, Ichigo actually complains that his name is so ordinary it's actually hard to remember.
- Kongoh Bancho: Hikyou Banchou looks like this when not in his banchou getup, which he often uses to get close to his enemies and sabotage them.
- Keita of Gakuen Heaven is an ordinary boy who sticks out like a sore thumb in a school full of handsome, talented males. Said males find his lack of extraordinariness the very attribute that makes him so interesting to them.
- Kyon of Haruhi Suzumiya, though he's probably lying about not being very smart. Still, he is the normal hole in the SOS Brigade's donut of secret weirdness. And still manages to be awesome instead of drastically overshadowed. Itsuki even says that his Agency has run checks on him and found him to be "completely normal". But then again, he's not totally straightforward with the truth either.
- Kyon is essentially the exception that proves the rule on this trope being an annoyance. He's a very average guy... but he's a realistic average guy, instead of the bland doormat other uses of this trope usually are. He actually hits that range of being easy to relate to because he completely avoids the pitfall of This Loser Is You.
- My Hero Academia has Ojiro Mashirao. He has probably the most mundane Quirk in his class: a sturdy and durable tail. For reference, the classmate who sits behind him can aimlessly discharge electricity, the person who sits on the right of him from his perspective can shoot shiny lasers from his belly button, and the classmate who sits on the left of him can duplicate his limbs on his arms. Hes even been nicknamed in-universe the Hero Departments King of Normal. It sort of became an insecurity for him.
- Tenchi Muyo!: Tenchi Masaki was this before he started getting power upgrades. While he did have a laser sword and was actually pretty good with it, most of the female characters dwarfed him in power. Special abilities aside, he still fits the type to a T... he's average in looks, sort of bland in personality, and doesn't seem to be of particularly remarkable intelligence. And one of the most recurring plots of the franchise is still "some ridiculously powerful female falls in love with him and tries to take him for herself".
- The manga (possibly unintentionally) lampshades just how fully this trope is in effect. Ryoko has memories of a Tenchi-like boy she met and embraced tightly long before coming to Earth and begins to fear that what she feels for Tenchi is actually just a shadow of what she felt for him, her true love. When they finally meet this character, he pretty much has all of Tenchi's good qualities, but even moreso; he's handsome, extremely brave, kind to a fault, heroic without being pushed into it, and outspoken in his love for Ryoko. Eventually, Ryoko finds out that because of a Timey-Wimey Ball, what she felt when she embraced this guy all those years ago was actually an echo of her affection for Tenchi instead, and she happily bids him goodbye forever to go back to squabbling with the others for the chance to marry Tenchi and settle down to farm carrots.
- Kyohei was basically invented to be this and tacked on to Burst Angel simply because it's such a prevalent anime trope. He doesn't appear in the original manga, he's in absolutely zero of the promotional materials, and his contribution to the story is usually literally to show up, make some food, and then go home for the day while the actual plot happens somewhere far away from him. And yet the series is still billed as if it were about him, and his involvement with the others.
- Page three of Mission School states this trope straight out in regards to its male protagonist, essentially defining the whole phenomenon:
This is the protagonist of our story. His grades are lower middle. Athletic ability is nonexistent. No special skills. No motivation.
- Shiraishi from Zero In is a completely and totally average high school boy, who is constantly beaten up by bullies and lets them push him around endlessly. This continues even after he joins the supposedly elite private police force Minkei (whose other agents are capable of near-superhuman feats)... he still lets bullies beat him up, and he usually stumbles through missions like an unlucky civilian who just happened to be dragged along.
- Tadakuni in Daily Lives of High School Boys is intended to be this to play a tsukkomi role to his slightly more oddball friends. This, however, made him Out of Focus as the series goes on.
- Takashi Kosuda from B Gata H Kei is the sex target of the protagonist Yamada because he is that plainly normal and obviously a virgin like her. She immediately forgot his face after he ran away from her question if he's a virgin. And other characters forget his name sometimes, calling him "Kobayashi" or "Kosoda" etc. His photo album reveals that he has been plain since birth.
- Nemo from Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. What makes him different than any other kid? In the movie, he mostly just says "Yippee!"
- In The Garden of Sinners of the Nasuverse, we have Mikiya Kokutou. The concept of reincarnation is explored in the form of the Origin, a universal law that serves as an individual soul's root for what type of creature or person it will become. While villains have Origins such as Stillness or Hunger, and his love interest is the Origin itself, Mikiya's is Normalcy.
- Played for laughs in the Yo-Kai Watch anime, which has the running gag that people comment on the fact Nate is completely average and does things in a completely average way. Nate doesn't like being called average and often attempts to do things to make himself not seem average, but his attempts just come across as average in themselves. Of course, the other joke is that the fact that Nate's actual life is so far from normal that his actions being labeled as average is kinda ironic.
- In the early chapters/episodes of Minami-ke, Chiaki gives everyone in her class a nickname. Shuuichi was given the nickname "Plain Yogurt" because of obvious reasons. This bugs him so much, he never lives it down for the rest of the series.
- Chapter 180 of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. introduced Hiroshi Satou, a second-year high school student who is ridiculously average in every aspect, ranging from his namenote , to his gradesnote and even his social circle. This impresses the main character Kusuo Saiki so much that he declared Satou to be a "genius of normalcy" and tries to emulate him. And of course, Satou, being the average guy he is, completely fails to notice Saiki and his not-so-normal school life.
- Haru Shinkai of Digimon Universe: Applimonsters considers himself to be one at first. Not only is he shy, but he also doesn't see himself as main character material.
- Classroom of the Elite: By his own admission, Kiyotaka Ayanokōji has no distinctive characteristics, hobbies, or interests and makes no effort to stand out. His grades are also 50s across the board. The second episode, however, indicates that he's hiding something. By the halfway mark, we learn that he's been invoking this due to his past as one of a few lab rats with exceptional ability, pushing him into The Nondescript territory.
- Kira Yoshikage from Jojos Bizarre Adventure actively tries to cultivate this image, regularly getting middle of the road grades in school and athletics in high school before going on to hold a boring salaryman job, all so that he won't draw any unnecessary attention to himself, leaving him free to indulge in his Serial Killer tendencies in secret. Although it's implied that he while knows murder isn't good, he treats it like a simple addiction like cigarettes or alcohol, making him no better or worse than anyone else in his own eyes.
- Kazundo Gouda from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig was originally like this (as commented on by Batou when he gets a look at an old photo of him.) When an accident left his face hideously disfigured, he decided not to fix the disfigurement because it made him look more memorable.
- Played for Laughs with Tadano Hitohito in Komi Can't Communicate. His very name is a pun on "just another guy" (tada no hito), his test scores are exactly the class average, and his teachers skip his fitness measurements because all his stats are exactly the national average anyway. His most outstanding feature is his ability to read the mood. Which he is so good at that he is basically psychic. It's revealed early on that he is purposefully doing this, due to a particularly embarrassing incident back in middle school caused by him being a Chuunibyou at the time. He's also something of a Jack-of-All-Trades, as he has average skills in a fair number of things you wouldn't expect, like ice skating or obstacle courses.
- normalman himself is so unremarkable that his name is never capitalized. In fact, you may know that in comics, every letter in every word is usually capitalized, but none of the letters in norm's name ever are. Damn. Of course, that's mainly because he's the only guy without powers on the planet Levram, where being completely mundane makes him incredibly important to several key figures, from the Ultra-Conservative, who wants to give him powers so he won't disrupt the status quo to Sophisticated Lady, who finds his scrawny figure and utter helplessness maddeningly attractive.
- Recurring side character Joe Smith, better known as "Just a Guy Named Joe". Somewhat ironically, he's had an incredibly eventful life from certain perspectives: boxer, wrestler, movie star, TV star, supervillain, superhero... it's too bad he's a born loser and failed at each of those professions.
- Joe's spiritual counterpart Guy Jones, "Just a Joe Named Guy", as well.
- For Better or for Worse—Anthony friggin' Caine. Absolutely average, yet everyone in the cast is convinced he's the best man on earth, and of course the lovely Elizabeth gives up her exciting life teaching in a native village to move back to her home town to settle down and live a nice, respectable life with him.
- There is a Donald Duck short comic spoofing the story "Null-P" mentioned below: Donald is selected by a computer to be completely average, which makes him an instant celebrity. However, he does not get to enjoy it much, and in the end, is saved by a literal computer bug.
- A non-romantic example is Tyler Marlocke from PS238. He's a completely average kid who has been sent to a grade school for superheroes because his parents refuse to believe he isn't one. Except that he's the future Nightwing.
- It's noted that The Spirit is this, due to his generally blandly nice personality and lack of any distinguishing features. When someone asks him why he only ever wears a Domino Mask to protect his identity, he asks her to describe what he looks like without the mask off, and she comes up short.
- In The LEGO Movie Fan Fic A Piece of Rebellion, President Business decides to exploit the fact that Emmet's so incredibly average by turning him into a spokesman for Octan. After all, he's so generic that everyone'll be able to identify with him, right?
- In the Ultra Series fanfic Ultraman Moedari, Jake is this. He was picked out of random from a crowd to be Moedari's host, which explains it.
- The LEGO Movie gives us Emmet, who looks like an ordinary minifig, right down to having the classic smiley face. Emmet is so average, has so few defining qualities and blends into his environment so well that absolutely no one notices or remembers him, not even his closest co-workers. Exaggerated Trope, as he's so average that his face matches every other face in the database, thus providing the page quote.
- Invoked in Lilo & Stitch. When Nani describes her younger sister Lilo's appearance to Jumbaa and Pleakley in order to find her, she describes Lilo as having black hair and brown eyes. Medium-to-dark brown-eyed and black and brown-black hair are by far the most common eye and hair colors in human beings, so that can be less than helpful, but since she was talking to two aliens sent to capture Stitch (whom Lilo had spent most of the last three days hanging around with), it worked out in the end.
- Danny from Cats Don't Dance is incredibly nondescript, average, and normal, being nothing more than a young cat from a small backwater town, constrasting the ludicrous and over-the-top animals and humans he meets in Hollywood.
- Joe from Idiocracy was selected for the suspended animation experiment because he's so totally average. At least in 2005, he is. Several generations of declining intelligence later, he's the smartest man on Earth. Or at least, the only one with any common sense.
- Something that's really creepy about Ulrich Thompson as The Consultant in The International was how average he seemed to be.
- "The Eye" from Eye Of The Beholder. It's a plot point that he's so average-looking that no one can remember anything distinct about him when asked to describe him. This is how he's able to effectively tail the woman he's after for such a long time without being noticed.
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has the title character, at least until he starts to go on a real adventure.
- Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn series features this in the form of Caspian Knoll. He is actually quite smart when it comes to math, but is rather plain everywhere else. This includes his job and financial situation, much to the protagonist's chagrin.
- Kyle Griffin from The Impairment is described in the book's synopsis as "just another ordinary freshman college student with an ordinary life and problems". He sure is glad that all changes the night he returns from a party heavy intoxicated and next thing he knows, he's framed for the murder of his roommate by an extra-terrestrial and it's all on him to attempt to clear his name against near possible odds.
- Moist von Lipwig, conman in the Discworld, relies on being this to pull some truly outrageous scams. He exaggerates the effect by wearing Iconic Outfits, allowing him to blend in with a crowd by a quick change of clothes.
- Martin from The Dresden Files invokes this trope to stay undercover and avoid notice. He manages to even do things that should be dramatic in efficient but unimpressive ways. Of course, there is the fact that he's a half-vampire that's running a Thanatos Gambit against the Red Court in order to Harry to destroy them with their own ritual. Harry notes that this blandness is also a lifesaving tool, as it makes enemies subconsciously ignore him in favour of other targets who seem like more of a threat.
- In the short story "Null-P" by William Tenn, it is discovered that a man named George Abnego happens to be statistically average in every way. This makes him a celebrity of sorts, and he ends up becoming President.
- Part of the Backstory for The Freedom Trap by Desmond Bagley is that Alison Mackintosh's father raised her to be a superspy — licensed pilot, expert shot with pistol and rifle, karate, things like that. And then she fell in love with and married an accountant named John Smith.
- The hero of Zarkorr The Invader was apparently The Chosen One because, of all the people on Earth, he's dead average on every axis. He's a schlubby white middle-class American.
- Dreams of Yoghurt by Neil T Stacey features Average Man, whose characteristics at any given time reflect the average of the planet's makeup. At most times, he is an Asian woman named Mohammed Smith. He gets kidnapped by the CIA, who intends to interrogate him instead of collecting census data.
- In the Xanth novels, Grey Murphy's driver's license lists his eye color as "Neutral" and his hair as "hair-colored". He's the son of the Magician Murphy and the Sorceress Vadne, and a Magician in his own right. His magical talent is to temporarily nullify magic, so being average is a Personality Power for him.
- John Doe from jPod, who grew up in a lesbian commune in British Columbia. To compensate for is insane upbringing, he has dedicated his life to making himself as statistically average as possible up to and including his favorite snack foods.
- The Idiot discusses this at length:
- Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsyn, her husband Ivan Petrovich Ptitsyn, and her brother Gavrila Ardalionovich Ivolgin are all described as completely ordinary people. Ivan Ptitsyn is stated to be blissfully unaware of how ordinary he is, and Varvara knows she's ordinary and has more or less made peace with that fact, while Gavrila knows that he's ordinary and is constantly striving to distinguish himself but lacks the ability to do so.
- In addition, the author launches into an aside describing how the vast majority of people in Real Life are "ordinary", and wondering how an author, interested in realism, is supposed to accurately portray these ordinary people.
- In the National Lampoon College Admissions guide, this is subverted. Several people who got into Ivy League schools are described as having done so despite being average in every way, but then have some sort of incredible accomplishment to their name.
- Agatha Christie uses this a couple of times; "Mr. Brown" in the first Tommy and Tuppence book, or the murderer in CURTAIN.
- Mike, protagonist of P. G. Wodehouse's Boarding School novel of the same name, who was eventually eclipsed by his supporting character Psmith.
- Sewing Circle has Abby, who, of the group she's in, seems to be the only living an average life.
- Twilight: Bella Swan, to a ridiculous degree. Entirely average looks, and is nothing special at all — Word of God is that she was intentionally left as an ordinary girl so readers could step into her shoes. Strangely, the way she's written it's like Stephenie Meyer wants to have her cake and eat it too — this "completely ordinary protagonist" considers herself above her peers because she reads Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, and other classical authors for fun, she's supposedly very mature, and she's immune to all vampire abilities, which would seemingly contradict her status as an average girl.
- The Hobbit: Bilbo Baggins is this, or at least he and most other people think he's this. It turns out to be more of An Aesop about how everyone has the potential to be extraordinary.
- Aragorn invokes this trope in The Lord of the Rings, or at least attempts to. With him, it's used to show that he's not power-hungry and thus worthy of ruling basically the entire world and marrying Arwen the elf princess. Did we mention Arwen is 1/4 angel (Maiar)? Yeah, that's a thing... However, the bad guys aren't fooled which means he's constantly harassed by their minions. This clues in some of the more observant good guys that he's not who he says he is. He does successfully invoke the trope for a while when he goes to Rohan, which is part of why Eowyn falls in love with him (the other reason is that he's not sexist like most of the guys she knows). Faramir actually is this trope, which is why Eowyn ends up with him in the end instead. The only thing remotely interesting about him is that he happens to be Denethor's son (but he'd just as soon NOT be since Denethor is not a great Dad). Samwise also appears to be this trope at first but actually isn't: due to just being way too much of a badass. Merry and Pippin, however, definitely fit.
- Domina: Most changelings have bizarre skin, hair, and eye colors, the result of random experimentation by the fey. However, there are also "meddy" changelings, with medium height, medium build, and medium features. "Pam," actually Eccretia of the Never-Known Thieves, is one. After the reveal of her identity, it's pointed out that in a city where cosmetic surgery costs a few bucks, the fact that she still has acne should have been a pretty big red flag.
- Ted Moseby from How I Met Your Mother. His worst faults are that he corrects people and he is In Love with Love. Plus he doesn't go all the way with his crazy friends. Oh wow, he's so daring. His desire to have a family and his single status as a thirty-something-year-old male living in New York City sticks him with this trope.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Tapestry", Captain Picard is given an opportunity to avert a near-fatal barfight in his past and thus avert dying in the present thanks to the artificial heart his injuries necessitated. He finds, however, that by undoing this formative incident and erasing the lessons it taught him, he sets himself on a path to become a nobody - a man with no ambition, drive, or passion.
Q: That Picard never had a brush with death, never came face to face with his own mortality, never realized how fragile life is, or how important each moment must be. So his life never came into focus. He drifted through much of his career, with no plan or agenda... going from one assignment to the next, never seizing the opportunities that presented themselves. He never led the away-team on Milika III to save the ambassador or take charge of the Stargazer's bridge when its captain was killed. And no one ever offered him a command. He learned to play it safe... and he never, ever got noticed by anyone.
- In one episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway is sincerely tempted to give up her life as a Starfleet captain and her promise of getting her crew home to settle down with a decent but fairly bland guy she met on a planet and become a minor power plant supervisor.
- Todd Dempsey on Outsourced. One of the main reasons the show received claims of being racist was because there was so much focus on him when the Indian characters had better personalities.
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: Out of all the Gokaigers, Don "Doc" Dogoier, aka Gokai Green, is the only one without a Backstory or known past. Initially, he was planned to have a back-story as the son of a scientist who was murdered at the hands of the Zangyack forces. However, Naruhisa Arakawa, the show's head writer, discovered that he preferred to leave Don without a back-story. All that is shown is that the crew came across him once, looking for someone to fix the Gokai Galleon's navigational computer. He did that, tidied up their mess and made them dinner, all of which got him into the crew. The show actually tried to give him a backstory by showing that he was an amnesiac dragon slayer before joining the Pirate Squadron. Turns out that was spoofed: Doc made that all up so the others would give him some respect.
- On The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, there was a Running Gag that Mitt Romney is an extremely bland guy, with generic looks and a middle-of-the-road conservative doctrine. During his campaign for presidency, the right-wing Colbert character would constantly forget his name. He also described him as "a particularly spicy Wheat-Thin."
- Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer embodies this trope, even if he's not technically the main character.
- This is why Jack McGee has so much trouble tracking down his "John Doe" on The Incredible Hulk (1977). David Banner is pretty non-descript, so Jack keeps getting descriptions like "average height, brown hair." It's even funnier when Jack has to give that description to someone when he's trying to track down David. Every time he does, Jack actually looks embarrassed, because he knows the description he's giving is no help at all.
Dock Supervisor: This guy you're trying to find, what's he look like?
Jack: Medium height, medium build, brown hair, brown eyes.
Dock Supervisor: You just described half the guys on this dock.
- The short Days of our Years on Mystery Science Theater 3000 describes future bride Helen's fiancee Joe as being "about as average a young fellow as you'd be likely to meet". Cue a string of riffs going on about how amazingly, wonderfully, fantastically average he is.
- Mike Nelson is often portrayed in this manner, in contrast to Joel Robinson's more Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies. This is even lampshaded in one episode where he takes being called average as a compliment.
- In M*A*S*H, Hawkeye laments every time his father sends an article about a "friend" of his, incredibly average Dr. Vernon Parsons, who keeps getting grant money for research since he is just about the only surgeon back home who is available.
- Justin Price in Columbo Likes the Nightlife is an Anti-Villain example, bearing a striking resemblence to the example image on this page. In actuality, he doesn't just own a new nightclub, but that club is being financed by money from a mafia. When the son of The Don, Tony Galper dies by accident in a post-divorce arguement with his ex-wife Vanessa over her dating Justin, a Paparazzo Linwood Cobin photographs Justin unwittingly arriving to see Tony's body and blackmails him. This drives Justin to murder him to keep things secret.
- The gaming magazine Shadis had a recurring comic strip about the adventures of "Joe Genero, the Average Man" which consisted of amazing or absurd things that characters with "average" stats in various games could accomplish.
- The "James Bond 007" Role-Playing Game character generation system assigned a higher generation point cost for average appearance than for either very good or very bad looks, reflecting the fact that nondescript appearance is a useful trait for a spy and also nudging characters toward the conventions of the genre (in which major characters tend to be either remarkably attractive or hideously ugly).
- Aran Ryan was this in Super Punch-Out!!, a series known for wild characters, but thankfully, Next-Level Games gave him a Hot-Blooded Scotireland/border-line Ax-Crazy personality in the Wii version of the game. Now, he's probably the most memorable character in the entire cast!
- Ryan's original gimmick was that of a granite-faced Irishman who can't be dazed by blows to the face. A closer example would be Mr. Dream, the plain vanilla champion who replaces Tyson in the NES re-release.
- Also, based on seeing his name in the game's code, Kid Quick from the original arcade Punch-Out!! was supposed to make a comeback in the Wii version, and it's assumed he was "cut" because his only trait in his original appearance was his speed. However, it seems Next-Level Games tried so hard to give Kid character, he became an entirely new character: Disco Kid.
- Played for Drama in Rainbow Six. The Dragon, Renegade Russian Dmitriy Popov's features are so unremarkable that no one really knows how to look out for him until learning the extent of the Big Bad's plan prompts an Even Evil Has Standards reaction and something of a HeelFace Turn, causing him to voluntarily approach John Clark.
- Russel Bagman is the most normal guy in Super Robot Wars. Literally. As a result of this, he stands out even more. Ironically subverted by Fanon though, considering he gives his Hot-Blooded commander a Bright Slap once, leading many to apply Memetic Mutation and refer to him as the Original Generation Bright Noah.
- The protagonist of MDickie's The You Testament is just some generic schmuck (so that you can use a photo of your own face to make him you) who fulfills the role of every incidental person in The Bible who encounters Jesus without becoming a dedicated disciple. This occasionally necessitates that a story be mangled out of shape so that "some generic schmuck" can learn the lesson instead of "the very specific person who Jesus actually talked to in the Bible whose very identity was instrumental in giving the lesson meaning".
- Bartz, the protagonist of Final Fantasy V, is not only this in-game (he's the only character who isn't royalty, for one), he's also this across the entire Final Fantasy series. He's fairly generic-looking compared to the more Bishōnen male protagonists like Cecil or Cloud, is a wanderer for the sheer hell of it (and goes back to doing that at the end of the game), and is a Master of None (which is a base for the game's Job System, but even in Dissidia Final Fantasy, he's not much of a specialist). Top that with the fact that he is incredibly easygoing, and there you have it.
- Jason Brody in Far Cry 3 is this and is Played for Drama. He starts as just a random dude who everyone complains about for his lack of ambition and is initially horrified by killing to survive, compared to his military-trained older brother. One holiday turned pirate kidnapping later, to his surprise, he gets over it pretty quickly though, finds a talent for hunting and survival on an island where suburbanite western values are very far away, and starts enjoying the fear and respect the locals are starting to pay him...
- Stahl from Fire Emblem Awakening is very much this trope. It's even commented on and sort of invoked in his support conversations with Miriel, who notes that no matter how much he and the rest of the army improves combat-wise, Stahl is always in the exact middle of her test results. It's further explained that everyone else knows how average Stahl is, so when they see him getting better, they train even harder.
- The psychological video game, The Stanley Parable, is all about an average guy named Stanley, who spent his whole life working as employee 427 at a corporate office. He does nothing but push buttons on a monitor, until one day he noticed no orders were appearing on his monitor, and all of his fellow employees suddenly disappeared. The game questions the concept of being an average person of society and the possible power, or lack of power, when making a choice.
- Played for laughs in Earthbound: it has a monster called "Unassuming Local Guy".
- In Mother 3, one of the main party members is an "average-looking man with slightly bad breath an a limp," named Duster. This trope is subverted, as he is an unusual character, who uses Staples to climb walls, and joins a band called DCMC.
- The original Street Fighter had a few characters that never appeared in anything else, and therefore never got any character development, and are much more bland as a result. The standout examples, however, are Joe and Mike, who can't really be described as anything more than "white guy with no shirt and red jeans" and "black guy with red shirt and bluejeans" respectively. They look like nothing more than generic enemies you might face in Final Fight.
- In the pre-made neighbourhood of Strangetown in The Sims 2, your neighbours are mad scientists; actual, Little Green Men aliens (and their abductees); serial killers and the ghosts of their victims; power-mad militia; the son of the Grim Reaper; and, in some spin-offs, insane werewolves, friendly neighbourhood vampires, sentient robots struggling to be freed from their creators, ancient gods worshipped by secret cults, and mind-controlling supervillains. Then there's Ajay. His backstory? Um, he moved here for work...
- Stellaris occasionally has an event where a recently scanned planet triggers the anomaly sensor which checks for distinguishing features. Why? Because it has no distinguishing features. No volcanoes, no mountains, no marshes, no deserts, no glaciers, no asteroid belt, no rich or poor minerals, no nothing. As such, it trips the sensor because the fact that it has no distinguishing features whatsoever is a distinguishable feature in itself. In gameplay terms, this translates to a completely generic planet with no modifiers nor terrain penalties... and, more importantly, no expensive tile blockers to clear.
- Last Scenario has a party full of characters of varying degrees of importance in the game's world. And then there's the protagonist, Hilbert, who is completely unimportant in any way and is just some random schmuck that the Rosehart Kingdom picked out to perpetuate a long con of him being The Chosen One and a descendant of the ancient hero Alexander, all so that they could use him as a puppet figure to fulfill their own secret agenda. Even his character design manages to stand out with its sheer averageness, looking like a random NPC tagging along with more main character-looking party members, and even averts Heroes Prefer Swords in favor of a bow. However, he still manages to carve out a name for himself anyway becoming The Unchosen One who saves the world and even gets the still-alive Alexander to personally acknowledge his strength.
- Tomoya from Ensemble Stars! is a very average guy who doesn't have any especially strange interests or quirks, tends to react to things the way a normal person would, and is pretty unremarkable in appearance as well (having mousy brown hair and eyes). However, this very normalness marks him as different in a school for training up budding idols and definitely sets him up as a Straight Man in comparison to his senior in the theatre club, the ginormously Large Ham Wataru. To an extent, Midori also fits a similar niche, being the one student there who never intended on joining an idol school (he simply applied to the school nearest to his house without realising he was applying for the idol course), but Midori's extreme apathetic nature and constant Dismotivation also sets him apart, especially when compared the eternally chipper sentai fan Chiaki, his bandmate.
- Makoto Naegi in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc sees himself as this. His favourite songs always just so happen to be at the top of the popularity charts, he doesn't have any remarkable interests or hobbies, and repeatedly says that the only positive thing about him is his optimism. At the beginning of the game, he finds the fact that Sayaka Maizono, who he went to middle school with and is now one of Japan's most famous popstars, remembers and has fond memories of him, him to be utterly bewildering.
- Hajime Hinata from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair sees himself as this too, but unlike Naegi, who's completely fine with who he is, Hinata had immensely low self-esteem over not being especially talented in anything, and was only able to fulfill his dream of attending Hope's Peak Academy because his family paid through the nose to get him in. He was later picked out of the Reserve Course of untalented students to undergo the Kamakura project, a series of completely systemic and very severe brain surgeries and lobotomies to give him every single talent of every single student to attend the school. But as a result, he was consumed with complete apathy towards everyone and everything, and was swayed into following Junko because she told him that she could cure his boredom with despair.
- Parodied in VA-11 HALL-A with Gil, who is noted by multiple people to have a "John face". Not even a few hours in you'll learn that he's actually an aversion, however.
- Matt from Matt 'n' Dusty is this to a T, and considering the situations he gets into, he's hilariously average.
- Dave from the Satina Wants a Glass Of Water series works in an office building that is literally labeled "Generic Technology", is about as plain-looking as an actual slice of white bread, has one of the most generic "boy" names in existence, lives in an apartment that isn't even worth talking about...and allegedly has had full-blown "husband and wife" sex with the Queen of North American Hell. Overall, he's pretty un-interesting.
- Yahtzee in the Zero Punctuation series frequently uses the face of an extremely plain-looking man, most of them altered for hilarity value, for the one of many of a Visual Gag.
- Chadwick Strongpants from Puffin Forest has this as his schtick. Ben made him as a punishment for a player he was supposed to make a character for, but who never bothered to tell him what kind of character they'd like to play. The result was Chadwick Strongpants, a guy with absolutely no bonuses, powers, or skills.
- Downplayed and deconstructed with Jaune in RWBY. In his debut, Jaune has a mundane appearance with minimal fighting ability in contrast to everyone else who have fantastical looks and advanced combat skills, yet he was able to get into an elite school for training Huntsmen. It turns out he faked his transcripts and really is just a normal person with no qualifications whatsoever, which poses a danger to him for very obvious reasons. He gets stronger overtime, though.
- JoCat parodies this in "Crap Guide to D&D" with the Fighter class, depicted as an incredibly simple, yet very practical, and thus extremely common character archetype. The representative character is named "John Fighterman", a white human male with a sword and no personality to speak of, with just about the only thing descript about him being an offhand mention that he's dating Hutrax the Wizard.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is about Bob Smithson, officially the World's Most Average Man. As time goes on though, it becomes clear that he does have one significant thing going for him: a higher than average wisdom score.
- Steve from Questionable Content. All the other characters have an unusual appearance and/or personality and/or hobbies, but Steve is about as bland and ordinary as a guy can be. He tends to be Out of Focus for this reason, though the government apparently hired him for a secret agent mission because of his total unremarkability.
- In The Dragon Doctors, Greg makes a speech about being this type in the storyline where he is introduced, including the line, "You could forget I'm there if you so much as blink while talking to me." Of course, it turns out there's a couple of Hidden Depths to him.
- Rachel is one of the most important characters of Tower of God. Yet she is more on the homely side, is not really heroic, almost entirely powerless, and is really the textbook definition of normal apart from killing her best friend in cold blood to see some real stars. Absolutely normal.
- Elliot, in El Goonish Shive sees himself that way, at least until it's pointed out that he isn't.
- The aptly named Average Joe in the The Wall Will Fall ARG is described by everyone from himself to Mister Administrator as being ridiculously average: smart enough to notice things were going on, but needing the help of the Players to actually get to the point. He may have underestimated him more than a little.
- Jon Lajoie parodies this along with Boastful Rap in his "Everyday Normal Guy" videos:
I'm just a regular everyday normal guy... Nothin' special bout me motherfucker.
I'm just a regular everyday normal guy... When I go to the club I wait in line motherfucker.
I'm just a regular everyday normal guy... I got $600 in the bank motherfucker
I'm just a regular everyday normal guy... And my sexual performance is average.
- In one Hardly Working video, super-nerd Jeff uses a machine to change his personality to be super cool and suave. When he decides that the only thing cooler than being cool is being yourself and attempts to reverse the process, something goes wrong resulting in him becoming exactly average.
Average Geoff: Does anyone wanna play some XBOX? I only have one controller though.
David: What a totally... average thing to say.
- In Darkwing Duck, the planet Mertz is populated entirely by superheroes, and one "Ordinary Guy" without any powers whose entire job is to constantly be "rescued" by the superheroes from everything (all superheroes need to have ordinary people to save, you see). Eventually, he got so fed up with the total lack of privacy that he became a gadget-using supervillain.
- Adlai Atkins from the Futurama episode "The Cyber House Rules". He's probably above average when it comes to qualities that attract women (Leela: "A tall doctor you say?"), but in everything else, he strives to be average. This includes having his Hawaiian shirts "toned down" (by taking out the colors and replacing them with greys), wearing ties with square bottoms, and generally wearing grey and beige tones around the clock. He gives Leela surgery to make her look like a normal human and then starts dating her. His desire to be average cause him to give Leela some humorous "compliments":
Adlai: Leela, you're 999,999 in a million.
- In the Quirky Town of Gravity Falls, everyone is a tad strange — except for Tad Strange, a nondescript white man in standard businessman's attire. The funny thing is, there's so much emphasis on him being "normal" that it crosses a line and somehow comes off as incredibly weird.
Tad Strange: Hi, guys. Tad's the name and being normal's my game.
- Carson Daly. On Saturday Night Live, a skit about TRL had this line — "Hi I'm Carson Daly, and I'm average in every way."
- One study found that the most typical face on Earth was that of a 28-year-old Chinese male.
- Dev Patel was chosen for the part of Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire because the director wanted a completely ordinary-looking guy to play the role rather than any of the muscle-bound guys which had auditioned for the role before. For exactly the same reason Cillian Murphy got his part in Boyle's 28 Days Later.
- Tim Burton chose Michael Keaton rather than an action star for the role in Batman because Bruce Wayne was an "average" (albeit rich) guy who became a vigilante.
- Believe it or not, this is the kind of person espionage agencies look to recruit to become spies. Someone ridiculously good-looking, extra tall, extremely muscular, or with other abnormal features is going to be easy to spot and pick out of a crowd. But a guy who's 5'9" with medium length brown or black hair, brown eyes, and an average build? There's tons of them.
- The wild-type coloration or colorations in a given species or subspecies of animal is usually an example of this trope as wild-type colorations are usually the most common colorations in a given species or subspecies as well.
- Subverted with many domestic animals, however. The wild-type colorations of domestic dogs (called wolf grey) and horses are rather uncommon.
- Played straight for the domestic forms of rock doves (Columba liva), house mice (Mus musculus), brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), European or coney rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and Near Eastern wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica), whose wild-type colorations are the most common colorations like they are for their wild forms.