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Mr. Farquhar: Afternoon, Miss Dobbs. Lovely day for it.
Miss Dobbs: That's what they all say, Mr. Farquhar, but it won't get you anywhere.

Cracking gum and cracking wise. Often with a very nasal voice, usually with a New York City accent.

Dates back to the 1930s at least, with Sam Spade's secretary and Joan Blondell in any number of movies, making this Older Than Television.

May also be a Sexy Secretary or a Plucky Office Girl. May be contrasted with a High-Powered Career Woman. Due to the interpersonal nature of the role, they may be The Face of their group. See also and related to Sarcastic Devotee.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Aggretsuko has Washimi, the CEO's secretary, who is so fearless and elegant that he (and everyone else in the company) is intimidated by her.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist Riza Hawkeye is technically a Sassy Adjutant, as Roy Mustang's administrative assistant Riza is a Servile Snarker on top of her bodyguarding role. Without her around, the paperwork tends to pile up in the office.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Lila Brown has only so much patience for her boss Steve Trevor, and even less for his boss' secretary Diana Prince who seems to care far more about formalities than Lila ever has. In return she gives them both as much sass as possible, though this eventually backfires when she ignores Diana telling her not to pick up a pen that ends up being the disguised explosive device which kills her.

    Comic Strips 
  • Carol, the Pointy-Haired Boss's secretary from Dilbert, takes "sass" straight into misanthropy and narcissism. For a while she also had a crossbow.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The aforementioned Joan Blondell, especially in Footlight Parade.
  • Moneypenny from the James Bond films (the Lois Maxwell, Samantha Bond and Naomie Harris incarnations mostly, Caroline Bliss didn't have enough screentime to develop much sass). She only fits the "cracking wise" personality though.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank might be considered a subversion, as while John Cusack's character has such a secretary (played by his sister, Joan), he is an amoral assassin. Moreover she herself is an effective operative, rattling off info from dossiers, dressing down people over the phone, and nonchalantly dousing the office in gasoline when it's time to move on.
  • Janine Melnitz of Ghostbusters (1984). Trope Codifier and snark queen extraordinaire. She can throw it back at Venkman as hard as he can dish it out, saying she'd quit better jobs. Then again, being the babysitter to three Mad Scientist types would test anyone's patience.
  • Janet, Russ' long-suffering secretary in Disney's The Kid. She deals with Russ's frequently unreasonable demands with healthy doses of snark and sarcasm.
  • Pamela Finkelstein from UHF certainly qualifies. Her short fuse and annoyance are Justified because she really signed onto the station to be a news reporter and got shunted into clerical work instead. George being George decided "why not" when letting her cover news. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The receptionist from the Irish short Na Fíorghael goes way beyond "sassy" into "wildly unprofessional." She's seen insulting the clients (in Irish) in her phone conversations, and despite not understanding her, she doesn't make much a secret with the furtive glances and the laughter. The clients take it upon themselves to learn enough Irish to rat her out and kick her out onto the street. Justified, though, because the kicker of the short is that it's all an act: she's not really a secretary.
  • One Touch of Venus is set in a department store, and the president of the company Whitfield Savory has a wisecracking secretary/assistant called Molly. As she's played by quintessential Deadpan Snarker Eve Arden, most of the resulting plot involving the apparent theft of a statue of Venus (which actually came to life) has her snarking at the incompetent policemen.
  • In Lady on a Train, Miss Fletcher is Wayne Morgan's secretary. She does not think very much of his writing and is not afraid to tell him so in a Deadpan Snarker fashion. When he tells her to take the latest chapters and type them up, she replies "Did you say 'tear them up'?"

    Literature 
  • Connie in the Stephanie Plum series of novels. She has Mob connections, an impressive collection of weapons in her desk (on at least one occasion, she threatens to use one on lecherous boss Vinnie), and a "take no crap" attitude that serves her very well dealing with her colleagues.
  • Sir John's clerk Mrs. Pound from Darkness Visible is sassy enough to deliberately wind up Lewis when she has information he needs to prevent the end of the world. Of course, she's going to give it to him, but not until he realises how damned hard it was to get...
  • Secret Santa (2004): Executive Assistant Marcy isn't afraid to call Erik out when he's acting outrageously. She's also the Secret Santa making his life miserable.

    Live-Action TV  
  • Cordelia appointed herself as secretary for Angel Enterprises in Angel. She wasn't qualified to do the monster hunting (at first anyway) but was more than able to sit behind the desk and dish out wisecracks.
  • Cold Case: In "The Last Drive-In," Nancy describes her job as covering for slacker loan officers and making empty promises on their behalf. She pointedly says she and her friend Felicity were executive assistants rather than secretaries, before saying it's a nicer way of saying the same thing. When an angry customer harassing a frightened Felicity wants Nancy to put her on the phone, Nancy replies that she wants a better car and a boyfriend who looks like Robert Redford.
  • Vicki Lewis ("Beth") on NewsRadio reportedly feuded with Kathy Griffin because of her similar redheaded character on Suddenly Susan. It is worth noting that Griffin's character, while a complete ripoff of Lewis's from the standpoint of personality, is not actually a secretary.
    Beth: Mention that there's a spunky redhead in this office.
    Joe: I don't know how to tell you this, but there's a spunky redhead in every office.
    Beth: Tell me about it.
  • Whenever Picard adopts the persona of Dixon Hill in the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he gets his own Sassy Secretary to complete the genre trope.
  • A rare male example: Dennis Finch (David Spade) on Just Shoot Me! (though he denies being a secretary, at least at first).
    Finch: (answering phone) Blush magazine, underpaid phone monkey speaking.
  • Oddly enough, Russell Dunbar (also Spade) has his own rare male example, Timmy, on Rules of Engagement.
  • Mrs. Landingham and Debbie Fiderer on The West Wing. Most of the other secretaries get in on the snarking action occasionally, but the President's secretaries are the most consistent.
  • Elaine on Doc Martin, to the point that Martin actually fires her in annoyance during the first episode (the rest of the town forces him to hire her back). Mostly averted with Pauline, though she really wants to be one.
  • Veronica in dads. She takes a fair amount of abuse from her bosses but gives back just as much.
  • Legal secretary Carrie Heffernan in The King of Queens who is frustrated as hell at her lowly position in the firm, strives for advancement, studies by night, but is always overlooked.
  • Donna to Harvey in Suits. She's the best secretary in the firm and knows Harvey more than anyone (it's revealed in a later flashback that they slept together once before either of them joined the firm). She's not afraid to call Harvey out on his bullshit and frequently listens in to the conversations in his office.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun has Dick and Mary's secretary, Nina. Very prone to sassy remarks towards Dick, often with good reasons, but even though she has a better relationship with Mary, it's not like anyone is really safe from her cutting remarks.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Given that she already has a thick Jersey accent and snarky personality, Yolanda the Rat naturally assumes this role in The Muppets (2015).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Lolth has one. No, seriously, the dreaded Demon Queen of Spiders of Dungeons & Dragons has a Sassy Secretary, and Player Characters have to deal with her in the epic adventure Vault of the Drow (from way back in 1980). Seriously. When the players reach the room with the sole access to Lolth's throne room, they find a Type V demon (called a marilith in later editions, a very powerful six-armed female fiend with a snaky lower body) at a messy desk who insists they sign in before they confront Lolth, and then wait while she finds the ledger. (Craziest part? If the PCs comply, she lets them in with no argument! If they don't wait, they'll have a much harder time getting in, not just from fighting her, but triggering an alarm and increasing the probability of random encounters. Doing what the secretary says lets them conserve their power for Lolth herself, who is no pushover.) No explanation is given for this and if the players ask, the demon just says "Lolth told me to". (Maybe this demon is just being punished for some slight by being given a job that chaotic fiends would likely hate, but that's just conjecture.)
    • The demon secretary appears in a Nodwick strip much later that parodies the adventure, resembling a more traditional type, a coffee addict using a laptop. She's sassier and ruder than the one in the source, and not all-too-good at her job, more occupied with playing solitaire on the computer than dealing with the heroes, who eventually sneak past by leaving dummies in the waiting room.

    Video Games 
  • The Viscount of Kirkwall in Dragon Age II (and the Trespasser DLC of Dragon Age: Inquisition) has Seneschal Bran, who is a male version of this trope. He functions as a secretary and personal assistant, and although he more or less reins in the sass when dealing with his boss, he delivers it in spades to everyone else, including the player characters.
  • Mallory from Grand Theft Auto IV is a good example; often taking the wind out of Roman's sails when he tries to boast or scheme.
  • Eva from Grim Fandango.
    Manny Calavera: It's my boss's secretary, Eva.
    Eva: It's my boss's whipping boy, Manny.

    Manuel Calavera: Any messages for me?
    Eva: No, calls stopped coming for you the day you left. They're STILL sending you that lingerie catalog, though.

    Manuel Calavera: Busy as ever, I see.
    Eva: I'd have more work to do if you had more clients.
  • Hi-Fi RUSH has the LU-C1LLE model robots, which were produced before current CEO Kale Vandelay came in charge and tend to be quite grumpy. A conversation that Chai can have at one while infiltrating the Research & Development division has her state that a brief acknowledgement of his existence is the closest he's going to get to a proper greeting from her, and she replies to Chai's sarcastic "thanks for nothing" with an equally-sarcastic "you're welcome".
  • Miss Jakowski in Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock is a phone switchboard operator rather than a secretary, but otherwise fits the trope: snarky to her clients, well-informed about everyone, and an unashamed eavesdropper.
  • Neon White has Gabby, the angelic secretary at Heaven Central Authority. She has a thick Minnesotan accent, and is sharp-tongued, sarcastic, and fond of playing pranks.
  • In the first dream world of Obsidian, the first Vidbot you meet is this, exaggerated to the point that she's as much of an Obstructive Bureaucrat as every other employee. When you start breaking the Bureau's rules at the end of the level, you get to literally walk over her in the process.
  • Ripper has Viv, the MetaCog hospital's receptionist. The first thing she even says to you is, "Can I help you off or something?"
  • Barbara Stiles in Scratches is your secretary, who plays around with you a bit when you first call her. She also has a knack for studying languages.
  • In The Space Bar, the main character has a PDA with a "female" AI called Zelda that emulates one of these. She snarks at him whenever he does something stupid (like trying to operate his fingerprinter without opening it), and sometimes makes sarcastic quips to him about the information he reads or the people he's interrogating.
  • She's a travel agent rather than a secretary, but Shirley Eugest from the deluxe edition of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego fills the same role as she can often be seen gossiping with a friend on the phone and cracking jokes as she books your next flight.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Laura from Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist qualifies, but she's extremely rude and useless as a secretary. She doesn't take messages and refuses to bring Dr. Katz coffee.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearth's Warming Eve", Chancellor Puddinghead's secretary Smart Cookie is portrayed as quite the snarker.
  • In The Real Ghostbusters, Janine started out just as sassy as her movie incarnation and even sported a bright red punk-style hairdo, but her incarnation in Extreme Ghostbusters wasn't nearly as much so.
  • The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas: Patti Bear is a secretary at the Organic Honey Works, the workplace of protagonist Ted E. Bear. In addition to snidely remarking on Ted's astrological sign, she berates him a number of times about his belief in Christmas and how he should forget about it.

 
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Loona's human disguise

Loona is able to assume a human disguise, when in the real world. An ability that's apparently common amongst demons and the rest of IMP don't have.

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Main / Masquerade

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