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The Chosen Zero

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"We Ninjas thought that this child would be the great White Ninja of the legend. We were wrong. We were very wrong!"
Sensei, Beverly Hills Ninja

Whoopee! The Chosen One has finally arrived to the stock dying town in need of a savior. The townspeople are rejoicing and hugging in the town square. This is the prophecy that been foretold for centuries. The Chosen One is The Only One who can free the town from the menace and darkness they have long faced and usher in a glorious era of prosperity and...

…Oh, no! The Chosen One is a greedy Jerkass. Or a coward. Or complete moron. Or The Klutz. Or they hate their role as Chosen One, and they're making a minimal effort.

The phrase "Is this really the Chosen One?" or "Who chose them?" usually comes up once or twice. Also common: "We're doomed." As a result the inept/jerkish person has to be trained and hardened into a suitable warrior. By the time that's done, the trainer is convinced and, later, so is everyone else.

Often played for comedic effect. Sometimes the chosen one beats the enemy purely because he is an idiot. Compare with The Unchosen One when someone wants do the job but not chosen in anyway.

Compare Giving the Sword to a Noob and The Poorly Chosen One. Likely to go From Zero to Hero. This is what The Chosen Many may come looking as if they are a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Eren in Attack on Titan is this upon inspection. Although not unskilled, considering his placement in the top ten of his group, he loses a leg in the first few minutes of combat against the Titans, and is quickly eaten after losing his arm. It's complete luck that he turned out to be a Titan Shifter and recovered. Even after that, he can't control his new powers, which costs hundreds of lives in the battle to retake Trost. Then he gets beaten by the Female Titan and is captured, requiring Levi and Mikasa to rescue him, and Levi is injured in the battle. His second battle with the Female Titan causes chaos and many deaths in the Inner Wall, and Mikasa is the one who prevents the Titan from escaping. And then, he's captured by the Armored and Colossal Titans, requiring the Survey Corps and Military Police to go after them and rescue him, costing more lives. He's certainly an asset regardless, his many failures have cost hundreds of lives, and it's less than impressive coming from someone who vowed to kill all the Titans.
  • Hime/Cure Princess of HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!. Her attacks are weak and inefficient and, if she isn't being bailed out by Cure Fortune, she's losing ground to the bad guys of the series. She takes Tsubomi's old title of "Weakest Pretty Cure in History" and takes it to historic new heights: she doesn't get an official win until she ends up recruiting Megumi/Cure Lovely.
  • Jewelpet: The main Jewelpet Ruby is a huge Loser Protagonist and a ditz with faulty magic skills, but in the franchise's various anime seasons she's often given some great destiny to accomplish. In Jewelpet Sunshine she is one of seven chosen people destined to save the world in its Darkest Hour, in Jewelpet Kira☆Deco! she's the Deco Stone Master who will rebuild the Mirror Ball and bring god back to the world, and in Jewelpet Happiness she's the only one with the ability to communicate with the Red Moon.
  • In RDG: Red Data Girl, Miyuki Sagara goes on an angry tirade about Izumiko Suzuhara being a goddess' chosen vessel, noting that she's so dull, shy, and weak. To add insult to injury, at this time, Izumiko was completely ignorant of the existence of the supernatural and of her destined role, so she has no idea what he's talking about and why he's so angry with her. When she asks what he's talking about, he snorts and cites her ignorance as further proof that she's a failure. Eventually, she manages to prove her worth.
  • The entire premise of Rune Soldier Louie: In the first episode, priestess Melissa gets a revelation by the god of war concerning her valiant champion, a great and noble hero whom she is to assist in fulfilling his destiny. It turns out to be the last person she could have imagined or wanted. Her Character Catchphrase for the rest of the show is "...even though this is totally against my will."
    • In the end, Louie does become a great hero who saves the kingdom and selflessly tries to help all people in need without second thought. Getting there, however, is a path of numerous hard trials. For Melissa, that is. Basically, it's never Louie's heart that was questioned, it was his brains and basic competency.
  • In Sailor Moon, Luna selects Usagi Tsukino to be Sailor Moon, the first of Sailor Guardians, largely because of Usagi's kindness to her in saving her from some little kids that were tormenting her. She then goes on to repeatedly lament her choice after getting to know Usagi and learning that she is bad at her studies, prone to goofing off, incredibly clumsy, quite ditzy, a chronic oversleeper, kind of cowardly, and a massive crybaby. The rest of the Sailor Guardians are equally critical of Usagi's faults. Then they discover she's actually the reincarnation of Moon Princess Serenity, and the critique doubles, as now they can lament about how she fails to live up to the grace, poise and majesty of her past incarnation. The trope then zigzags in that she does legitimately mature over the course of the story, and she will canonically grow out of these faults to become a much-beloved god-queen.
    • The 1990s Animated Adaptation seems to take a particular delight in rubbing Usagi's nose in how much of a disappointment she is compared to what even the Dark Kingdom expects of Sailor Moon and Princess Serenity's reincarnation. Kunzite's ploy to use a "Princess Seminar" to find Sailor Moon hinges on his observation that, outside of her tiara-throwing skills, Sailor Moon is a clumsy, graceless bungler (with Usagi's friends Rei and Minako both admitting it was a clever plan). Shortly afterwards, a monster mistakes Rei for Sailor Moon because she refuses to believe Sailor Moon could be as bad at skiing as Usagi is. And then after that, Usagi expects to be an Instant Expert at ice-skating after hearing her past incarnation was a master of the sport, only to discover that she's absolutely terrible at it. And, for icing on the cake, her friend Makoto, who is also trying ice-skating for the first time, turns out to be a prodigy (a trait shared with her past incarnation) who simultaneously impresses an Olympic gold medal-winning skater and is mistaken for Sailor Moon, because once again the monster couldn't believe Sailor Moon would be as graceless as Usagi.

    Comic Books 
  • The New 52 version of Captain Marvel/Shazam is also this. The wizard Shazam was desperately looking for a new champion to fight the returning Black Adam, and pulling random people of the street to test for worthiness, rejecting all of them when they prove not to be pure good. When Bily Batson, the latest candidate points out that purely good people don't exist, the wizard decides that, since he's basically out of time, Billy will have to do and gives him the powers.
  • In Górsky & Butch, the characters know they live inside a comic and want to break free. Thus, Jerry is made the chosen one specifically to make the whole story jump the shark and get cancelled.
  • The chninkel J'on in The Great Power of Chninkel. Chosen by the Creator because It was too busy to look for anyone else and he'll "do just fine", J'on constantly tries to shirk his responsibility to save the world in five days.
  • This is how Green Lantern Kyle Rayner got started. The last Guardian, Ganthet, found him at random in an alley behind a bar and said "you'll do". Kyle did not possess the normal qualities of a Green Lantern (such as being fearless) and had no training with the Corps. Eventually he figures it out on his own and becomes a worthy successor, even playing a key role in bringing back the Guardians and the Corps and joining the Justice League.
    • In Green Lantern: Earth One, the entire Corps is made up of these. The Manhunters slaughtered almost every Lantern in the galaxy centuries ago, and the last remaining power rings are in the hands of the distant descendants of real Green Lanterns, or schmucks who randomly stumbled across one. They eventually manage to prove themselves as heroes, but none of them were granted their place by merit. In a similar situation to the one above, Hal Jordan hands a dead Lantern's Ring to a nearby civilian and tells them to figure out how to use it.
  • The Lapins Cretins: Luminys Quest has an entire party of chosen zeroes, since 5 of the eponymous blitheringly moronic, mischief-causing Rabbids are the prophesized guardians who must save the fantasy world of Luminys. If that's not bad enough, the archmage who summoned them got konked into thinking he's a bird, so they only obey to Téo, a thief who happened to be nearby. Tellingly, the starting narration tries to warn about the prophecy having overlooked the guardians' actual nature before it gets cut off.
  • In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, Oliver Haddo's long-running project to create the Anti-Christ instead produces an angry little shit (who is heavily implied to be Harry Potter) who bungles Haddo's plans by destroying his school before he's been fully trained and then spending the next decade just hiding out and sulking. By the time the Anti-Christ finally gets around to doing something, Orlando and Mina have figured out who he is and where he's hiding, which puts him at a disadvantage.
  • In Preacher, a 2000-year-old conspiracy has been concealing the fact that Jesus Christ faked his death and kept his descendants hidden from the world. Unfortunately, due to two millennia of Brother–Sister Incest to "keep the bloodline pure", the final descendant and supposed saviour of the world is so chronically inbred it's a wonder he doesn't have antennae. This is what leads Starr to try and find a more suitable Messiah for their cause — namely Jesse Custer.
  • Subverted in The Transformers: Optimus Prime. Starscream had been the center of a prophecy indicating that he was the Chosen One, this was one of the main reasons he'd managed to get elected as leader of Cybertron. Then Shockwave revealed that the entire prophecy was something he'd cooked up after being stranded tens of millions of years in the past as part of his master plan because unlike Optimus Prime, Arcee, or Windblade, Starscream was too self-absorbed and foolish to see what was going on and would leave Cybertron unprepared to stop him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Po in Kung Fu Panda was chosen by Oogway to be the successor of the Dragon Scroll, seemingly because he happened to be in the right place at the right time. Since he's a slow, fat panda with barely any physical abilities, let alone martial arts skills, the choice is immediately questioned by everyone, even Po himself. However, it becomes apparent that he is more capable of being a hero as the film goes on. His chubbiness also happens to protect him from Tai Lung's nerve strikes. Then the third film reveals why he chose Po: to bridge the past and future of kung-fu.
  • The LEGO Movie: Emmet finds the mystical Piece of Resistance, which is taken as proof that he is "the Special" who will save the world, according to prophecy. It becomes increasingly clear how much of an idiot Emmet is, though, and how much more qualified and creative all his companions are. Even when he starts fitting better into his role, the discovery is made that the prophecy was made up. Emmet isn't the Special, but a regular generic guy all along. The prophet made up the prophecy in hopes of inspiring many heroes to seek to be the Special and so save the world together.
  • Megamind: Unlike Metro Man or even Megamind himself, Hal/Tighten has no special origin or prophesied greatness. He's just some loser whose entire superhero origin is manufactured and manipulated by Megamind so he can have someone to fight again.
  • The "I happen to be Humanity's last best hope!" "I weep for the species..." scene from Titan A.E. exemplifies this. Not really a straight example in itself, however; Cale is cocky, hot-headed and reckless but he's not completely useless in a fight, and Preed is the resident Deadpan Snarker and kind of a jerk.
  • Twice Upon a Time: Ralph and Mumford are only picked to save the land of Din from Synonamess Botch's evil scheme because they enabled it in the first place. FGM even tries to "take them off the case" near the end of the movie, telling them they don't have what it takes to be heroes, but that just encourages Ralph to keep trying.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In the 2010 Alice in Wonderland (2010), the denizens of Underland aren't sure that Alice is the prophesied champion, and the Dormouse is especially prone to proclaiming, "She's the wrong Alice!"
  • The character of Ash in Army of Darkness is welcomed as "The Promised One" who must quest for the Necronomicon and save the townsfolk. Unfortunately, he proves to be pretty inept and cowardly (saying the wrong magic words, summoning the Army of the Dead) and loses the faith of the people. Of course, he earns that faith back in the final showdown with the Deadites.
  • Beverly Hills Ninja: Chris Farley's character Haru was prophecied to be the Great White Ninja when the Sensei found him washed up on the shore as a baby. Of course, he turns out to be the most incompetent of the lot but still has high hopes. When he goes to Beverly Hills to help out a woman whose boyfriend is a killer, Sensei sends his top student Gobei (Robin Shou of Mortal Kombat: The Movie fame) to watch over Haru. However, at the end, when the Big Bad and his Mooks prove even too much for Gobei, Haru proves himself to be the ninja of legend and unlocks his potential. He somehow manages to hide his wide girth behind a thin beam and then casually blocks bullets from a submachinegun with swords.
    Haru: I may not be one with the Universe, but NO ONE MESSES WITH MY BROTHER!
  • Blazing Saddles has this when the townsfolk realize their new sheriff is black. This takes place in the Old West.
  • Played With in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Evelyn Wang is incredulous that she could be the Chosen One because she considers her life such a failure. The Chooser of the One confirms that she is indeed the least succesful verion of herself in the entire multiverse. Which is her strength: She missed or failed at so many opportunities to have a more successful life that there are many alternate universes with only slight differences where she became successful at something. And that makes it easy for her to borrow the skills of all those different versions of herself.
  • The Narrator of George of the Jungle movie tries his best to build up our hero George to the audience. George kills the build up in typical George fashion, that even the Narrator himself pretty much does a Face Palm offscreen.
    Narrator: Twenty-five years later the bouncing baby boy has grown into a swinging Jungle King! He is swift, he is strong, he is sure, he is smart—
    George: (George crashes into tree) Ough! (George falls down tree) Aaaaah! (faceplants in dirt)
  • Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) in The Golden Child is so erratic that he's considered one of these by the people who recruited him.
    Kala: (hidden behind a screen) Do you have any other questions?
    Jarrell: As a matter of fact I do. What are you doing this weekend, because your silhouette is kicking!
    Kala: This is the Chosen One?
    Doctor Hong: (looks embarrassed) Yes.
    • In all fairness, Jarrell is really good at his job (finding missing children) and kicks some serious biker ass at one point all by himself. It's just that he finds himself way over his head, what with supernatural shenanigans going on around him.
      • He's also smart enough to agree to having stolen the magical dagger from the Big Bad, who accuses him, knowing that the dagger will be taken into evidence until the trial, meaning the Big Bad, who's on a tight schedule, would be unable to get his hands on it. Naturally, the Big Bad immediately refutes his claim.
  • Peter Banning in Hook. He's the Peter Pan, but he's grown old and cynical and is rather out of practice at the whole heroism thing.
  • Inverted in The Matrix; everyone else is absolutely confident and sure that Neo is The One, but Neo considers himself incompetent.
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful, Oz is just a stage magician and is running a con.
    • But considering that no one in Oz really understands technology and mistakes his magic tricks for real magic, this may be exactly what is needed to defeat the Big Bad.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): For centuries, the wizard Shazam has been searching for a champion to inherit his power. But after the previous champion turned evil, he instituted a test — he would only give his power to the pure of heart. Except no one is perfectly pure of heart, so he keeps grabbing children, testing them, and unceremoniously dropping them back where they were after they have been found wanting. He ends up giving the power to Billy Batson because he has run out of time.
    Billy: I-I'm nobody. I don't deserve any power.
    Wizard Shazam: You are all I have.
  • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over does this with "The Guy" as the term. It's the main character, asked the same questions, then later one guy shows up thinking he's the chosen one and takes five steps and dies.
  • In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, this is the Jedi Council's reaction to Anakin Skywalker, since recklessness and a bleeding heart isn't conducive to being a Jedi.
    • In the original trilogy, for Yoda, Luke is this.

  • Played very seriously in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
  • Cradle Series: Wei Shi Lindon was nothing but an honorless Unsouled, a cripple spat upon and ignored by his clan. But when an ascendant being returned to the world and started killing people, Lindon tried to fight him (despite knowing he'd be killed) in the hopes of distracting him long enough for someone else to take advantage. His attack did absolutely nothing, but when Suriel arrived to clean up the crime, she was impressed with his bravery. When she reversed time so that the crime never happened, she allowed Lindon to retain his memories, and even gave him a vision of a future tragedy that he might be able to prevent. This event drives him to grow stronger at an impossible pace, and in Suriel's side of the plot several times her compatriots name Lindon as her "favored mortal."
  • Also played seriously in Enchantment — the medieval Christian kingdom under threat from Baba Yaga was not happy about their princess being rescued by a "weak and foolish" unbeliever, leading to some of them plotting to kill him off and put a more "appropriate" hero in his place.
  • In Tom Holt's Expecting Someone Taller (a very loose comic sequel to Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung), Malcolm Fisher is about as far as it's possible to be from what anyone expected the One Chosen by the Fates to bear the Ring and rule the world to be like. He's not strong, brave, handsome, skilled, or even particularly intelligent, and he has absolutely no desire to be in this position. About the only thing he has going for him is that he's a nice guy. The first ring-bearer with that quality, in fact.
  • In Feet of Clay, Nobby Nobbs is revealed to be the Earl of Ankh, due to being descended from the last Earl's bastard son Slope, and thus he's the lawful successor to the throne of Ankh-Morpork. The rich and powerful citizens who want to dispose of Lord Vetinari see Nobby's claim to the throne as a stroke of luck (he is a useful idiot and will make a good puppet ruler). However one anonymous plotter couldn't accept Nobby Nobbs as king because "the man is a tit." And of course, when Nobby realises that they want to make him king, he wants nothing to do with it, because his boss Vimes would "go spare!" Even being told that he could hire an assassin to deal with Vimes doesn't ease his fears at all. (For the record, it shouldn't have — the Assassin's Guild eventually stopped accepting contracts on Vimes, partly because their repeated failures were getting embarrassing.) The novel ends with the whole idea of Nobby's Earlhood being dismissed as a fake story cooked up by the vampire who masterminded the ploy... but also ends with Nobby revealing that in addition to the Earl's ring, he also has "three gold lockets, a coronet, and a tiara". Now, this could just be a throwback to Vimes' declaring that Nobby's family has probably pinched so many noble heirlooms he could use them to claim to be the Duke of Pseudopolis, the Seriph of Klatch and the Dowager Duchess of Quirm. But on the other hand, it could mean that Nobby really is the Earl of Ankh.
  • In the book, From a Certain Point of View, we find out that Yoda considered Luke to be this and was more excited to train Leia instead. He's not happy when Obi-Wan tells him it has to be Luke.
  • Isaac Asimov's Franchise: Norman Muller, a milquetoast department store clerk in Indiana, is chosen by the massive computer Multivac to represent the opinions and views of the entire American people in this year's election. If he was exceptional in any way, he wouldn't have been chosen, although his wife plans to make him exceptional now that he's cast the deciding vote for this year's presidential election.
  • The title character of Harry Potter is a brave, compassionate, and clever youth who is thrust into celebrity as "The Boy Who Lived" with the wizarding world believing he is a prophesized magician so powerful that he was able to defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort as a baby. It transpires over the course of the series that Harry isn't that special at all, what few unique abilities he has are entirely situational (and are eventually stripped from him), and the great deed of his infancy that he's famous for was more the result of his mother's love and the evil wizard arbitrarily deciding to kill him rather than a different child potentially fated to vanquish him, Neville Longbottom who like Harry, while having his own virtues, is not that special either.
  • The Dark Tower: A rare example of this falling on the side of the villains. Mordred is a child spoken of in prophecy and legend to one day help tear down the titular tower and bring an end to existence. Prophecy didn't expect Mordred to come out as a constantly starving kid who couldn't give a damn about the Red King's plan, and who dies ignominiously without ever accomplishing anything of note.
  • In The Hobbit, the dwarves react to Bilbo this way. Ironically, he doesn't even know he's been hired as an adventurer. Gandalf has to justify Bilbo's arrival by pointing out without him, the dwarves are an unlucky number.
  • The Wheel of Time Rand Al'Thor frequently doubts himself, especially early in the series, while at the same time the people trying to manipulate or "guide" him have doubts about him for these reasons. He's a shepherd from a backwater area, lives by Honor Before Reason sometimes, etc. It reads like Genre Blindness, as those traits are all very common in heroic fantasy and Messianic Archetypes even if they are objectively bad for a leadership figure.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This was Giles' reaction to Buffy at the end of the first episode: "The Earth is doomed."
    • Repeated as part of a Call-Back in the final episode of the series: "The Earth is definitely doomed." Subverted since, in this case, he's clearly expressing good-natured frustration, rather than actual skepticism.
  • The basic premise of Future Man: Josh has no particular skills beyond getting obsessively good at one computer game.
  • The basic premise of The Greatest American Hero is that aliens picked Ralph Hinckley to be a superhero because he has a good heart, but he loses the suit's manual (the two times the aliens hand him one) and he spends the whole series trying to figure out the suit's powers through trial and error and he never quite gets a hang of things (especially landing).
  • One Kaamelott episode has the kingdom run into a problem that only Merlin can solve. So when Arthur says "Wait a minute, are you telling me our last hope is Merlin?". Cue concerned looks between all characters and Bohort saying "We're all gonna die!"
    • It is also clearly hinted that Perceval has a great destiny ahead and may be the one to finally find the Graal. Arthur is very disturbed by this.
  • In Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, the Deadpan Snarker wizard of La Résistance invokes this trope when he reluctantly admits that only the title character and his companions can light the resistance's beacon. Of course he was planning to kill them to further his own plan to stop the Big Bad.
  • In Merlin, Merlin's immediate reaction to being told that Arthur is the destined King who will save the land is "There must be another Arthur, because this one's an idiot!"
  • In Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Cam initially has doubts that the three chosen to become Rangers... well, can become Rangers. To be fair, those three were considered the three worst students, not to mention that the only reason they were chosen was that all the other candidates got kidnapped. Same goes to the original counterpart, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger. Not so much with the Gouraigers/Thunder Rangers and Shurikenger/Cam, who are powerful and prodigal students. (Well, Cam is where PR and sentai differ. Specifically, the prodigal bit.)
  • It's inverted and played with in Stargate SG-1. In the Season 4 premiere episode, "Small Victories", the Asgard ask SG-1 for help defeating the Replicators, because despite all of their intelligence they have yet to figure a way to fight them.
    Thor: I have come here to seek your help.
    O'Neill: How can we help you?
    Thor: Your projectile weapons proved effective in fatally damaging the Replicators.
    O'Neill: Er... some...
    Thor: Your technology and strategy for destroying the Beliskner was successful.
    O'Neill: Yea, but.. you guys...
    Thor: The Asgard have tried to stop them. You have demonstrated their weakness may be found through a less... sophisticated approach. We are no longer capable of such thinking.
    Dr. Jackson: Wait a minute, you're actually saying that you need someone... dumber than you are?
    O'Neill: You may have come to the right place.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, the Amazons have this reaction when they try to use magic to summon a savior... and get a wimpy Valley Girl from modern times. The girl does end up helping them rise to greatness in the end.
    • Her greatest accomplishment with the Amazons may have been teaching them to ride horses rather than eat them.
    • She also taught them not to attack men on sight, just the perverts and chauvinists. This tolerance allowed the Amazons to trade for supplies.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, this is arguably Judas's implied reaction to Jesus justifying the use of costly ointment to anoint him instead of selling it and giving it to the poor, because "You'll always have the poor with you, but you won't always have me." (Although it's worth noting that Judas had charge of the money bag, and was known to have light fingers.) Immediately following this incident, Judas betrays Jesus to the authorities.
    • The Bible tends to emphasize the flaws and weaknesses of each chosen individual and even entire nations while somewhat glossing over their strengths in order to remind readers that God is in charge. The inverse is confined to books and passages that are partly propaganda (e.g. the Chronicles).
  • Simon Peter (St. Peter, the first Pope) also gets treated like this in the Gospels. For instance, in the synoptics, he's seen as brash, impulsive and cowardly.note  Christ knew that Peter had these tendencies but also knew the good qualities he possessed, and still chose him as his successor, forgiving him his faults.

  • Parsifal, in his eponymous Richard Wagner opera, is specifically referred to as both "chosen" and "fool": Durch Mitleid wissend, der reine Thor [sic!]— Harre sein, den ich erkor'.

    Video Games 
  • In the beginning of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, you are met by a priest who explains to you that you are the reincarnation of a powerful elven demigod. If you happen to be, say, a dumb ogre, he will make an awkward "the gods move in mysterious ways" excuse while trying (and failing) not to be offensive.
  • In the Video Game Remake of The Bard's Tale, not only is the Bard an unlikely hero (and has this pointed out to him), there are many other "Chosen Ones" (people who think the are, anyway) who end up dead or worse. And after they die, some little Oompa-Loompa expies come out and sing about it!
  • Chaos;Head has the protagonist, Takumi Nishijou, a borderline schizophrenic, perverted Jerkass Hikikomori extraordinaire who spends most of his time completely detached from reality either playing video games or submerged in illusions he has created in his mind, is so weak that he is easily pushed around by girls smaller than him and so socially awkward that he can barely form coherent sentences around other people and is scared to sit in a classroom full of people. But it also turns out that he is actually an extremely powerful Reality Warper as well as the only person capable of stopping the Big Bad and saving humanity from an Orwellian nightmare.
  • Dark Souls zigzags with this, though it is understandable why. There is an ancient legend that one can learn the truth and purpose of the undead by ringing the Twin Bells of Awakening in Lordran. You get this quest by talking to a dying knight who was trying to achieve just that. Given how many undead run through Lordran hoping to become the chosen dead, it's no wonder why a lot of NPCs treat you like you're no big deal.
  • If you piss off Leliana enough to get her to leave in Dragon Age: Origins, she will state quite bluntly that she weeps for Ferelden, if all it has standing between it and the Blight is your character. This is more for outright evil actions than for stupidity; the action most likely to get her to storm off is also one of the blatantly Evil (TM) moves in the game.
    • Party member Alistair gets built up as Ferelden's only political hope as the future king, despite showing absolutely no inclination or aptitude for the job. (The player has the possibility to help him fit his role a bit better, however).
  • All mainline The Elder Scrolls title except for one begins with the hero in prison. (And the one exception instead starts the hero out as a shipwreck survivor.) They either have to make a break for it or be graciously let out to pursue their destiny.
  • There are examples in Fallout and 2, when you have a character with low intelligence. Pay a visit to your Vault or your native village and the locals will all express various levels of horror that your drooling moron of a character is the only thing standing between them and total destruction.
  • Sora is The Hero of Kingdom Hearts, being one of many chosen by a Keyblade to wield one against the forces of darkness... but he's also a goofball, a daydreamer, and generally just an ordinary kid no one would think to ask to defend the worlds. In fact, the first game reveals that Sora's Keyblade was actually meant for his Friendly Rival, the more conventional Anti-Hero Riku,note  but because he vanished the moment he was meant to obtain it, the Keyblade was saddled with Sora instead. However, thanks to Riku succumbing to darkness and Sora proving his own merit through The Power of Friendship, the Keyblade fully cements itself as Sora's own, allowing him to save the worlds many times over.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time starts with Navi waking Link up, not succeeding for a while, then wondering out loud if Hyrule is really supposed to be saved by such a lazy boy. You then spend the rest of the game subverting the hell out of this trope.
    • Somewhat subverted in The Wind Waker, where Link really isn't any kind of destined hero and only gets involved in the plot because a giant bird kidnaps his sister. The stuff involving destiny and heroism all comes in later, and even then, Link has to earn this title.
      • Even if The Wind Waker's Link actually is not part of the Chosen One/Reincarnation Circle (the soul of the Legendary Hero did not reincarnate in this timeline), he certainly really plays this trope straight. He may be unusually skilled in battle for a child his age, but he also has phenomenally bad luck, a tendency to dive into danger headfirst and is taking a lot more abuse and ridiculing than any of his other incarnations, including from the titular princess. Ouch.
  • In Mass Effect: Andromeda, everyone on the Nexus space station expects the newly appointed Pathfinder Scott/Sara Ryder to be this, seeing as how Ryder was a complete nobody who only got the job because their legendary father Alec Ryder died and transferred the position to them. Nexus leadership therefore show you no respect and are dismissive. The entire game is about you proving them wrong.
  • Secret of Mana plays with this. The one who pulls the Mana Sword from its stone is not believed to be one worthy of wielding the Sword, and it's taken as a sign that Mana is weakening. While Mana actually IS weakening, it's later revealed that the one who pulled the Mana Sword was actually the son of the previous rightful wielder, and therefore is the current rightful wielder.
  • Roger Wilco of the Space Quest series is a janitor whose various misadventures just happen to save the universe more than once.
  • Your commander in Star Control 2 will chew you out if you sell your crew into slavery to the Druuge. He only refrains from having you court-martialed because, like it or not, you are the only chance humanity has against the Ur-Quan.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, there are two significant Chosen: the clumsy pollyanna Colette and the seemingly dopey Handsome Lech Zelos. In this case, the real question everyone should be asking is "who chose them, and why?", the answer to which turns out to drive the vast majority of the plot.
  • Although Three the Hard Way doesn't actually involve The Chosen One, we are told that The Omniscient Council of Vagueness have placed a special interest on the protagonist, Vance, that they sent one of their younger members, Lucama, to help him in his quest. Lucama is absolutely baffled with this instruction, as Vance is a rude, greedy jerk who cares more about earning fame and fortune than doing any kind of "good deeds", and frequently complains about having to support him at all.
  • Zettai Hero Project takes this as the concept for the main character. The true Unlosing Ranger gets hit by a car on the way to the final battle, leaving you, the weakest main character in video game history to fight Darkdeath Evilman.

  • Played with in 8-Bit Theater. The main characters aren't the real chosen ones, but they do (sort of) save the world (albeit by being directly responsible for nearly destroying it), and the real chosen ones don't do anything important to the plot.
  • Mega Man in Bob and George has two directives: To defeat Dr Wily and his Robot Masters. And to be an idiot. Fortunately in that order.
  • Alex from Captain SNES: The Game Masta is a foul-mouthed misanthrope who himself admits that he isn't a real hero. This comes back to haunt him later, when he gets imprisoned by someone thinking that they could do a better job of it.
  • Parson from Erfworld, summoned to be the perfect warlord, and people still remark on how little he knows about basic physics.
    • By book two, the major players who know about him are terrified of his skill. Once he does understand something, he generally comes up with a Game-Breaker that changes the Meta Game of the setting's politics.
    • Parson is rapidly evolving into The Chosen One, expressing such sentiments as leading from the front and Above the Influence. Not to mention that he legitimately is a strategic genius, able to find the loopholes in Erfworld and twist them to his will.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
    • Allison Ruth might be the Successor chosen to bear the Key of Kings and reconquer the entire multiverse, but early on, she does not impress many people, especially not Cio: Allison has no knowledge of The Multiverse, no combat training, and didn't even particularly choose to begin her adventure. Most of the Big Bad Duumvirate can't even comprehend her being The Chosen One, thinking instead she's at best a gofer for the actual prophesied hero.
      • So far, her Character Development still leaves her with a net zero of confidence; she makes a Deal with the Devil to help boost her willpower, but that just makes her sociopathic and arrogant. Then a year later she goes through a rigorous training regimen and develops actual combat skills, but she still over-relies on her artifact-granted powers and has developed a hot-headed outlook that's even more arrogant. She ends up moderating slightly during King of Swords, only for Solomon David and Jagganoth to make it clear just how outclassed she is by the Demiurges. Following the events of the Discordance, Allison is rendered a broken mess, convinced that Zaid probably was the correct Chosen One after all.
    • Zaid, the one everyone thinks is the actual prophesied hero, is even worse. Not only does he have the same lack of knowledge, combat training, and choice as Allison, but he spends a significant amount of time sealed in stasis, and after that he's under house arrest by one of the demiurges. The only advantage he has over Allison is that he is male—and in the extremely sexist multiverse, that is enough for everyone to automatically assume he is the real hero.
  • Wizard School: Intentionally invoked by the Big Bad. After killing the actual Chosen One in the Action Prologue, Wyrmspawn seeks out "the most vile, selfish, reprehensible shit [he] could find", gives him a fake Mark of the Chosen One and then waits for the good guys to find him. Ultimately backfires, as Graham's inherent awfulness is instrumental in ultimately defeating the villains.

    Web Original 
  • In Noob, the trope is justified as Tenshirock is discretely giving overpowered items to noobs on purpose and the recipients are usually stupid enough to think they just got lucky on their loot or not even pay attention. Season 2 follows mostly the story around the staff Tenshirock gave to Sparadrap, but The Stinger of the episode introducing Couette (who started out as Sparadrap's Distaff Counterpart) shows she got a hacked item also.
  • In the flash series Larry, Larry became the chosen one because the Evil Chancellor wanted a pathetic weakling who wouldn't interfere with his evil scheme. Seeing that Larry was about four feet tall, he guided the king to choose him as the hero of the kingdom.

    Western Animation 
  • "Their lives were simple, relaxed and fun
    til Perry became The Chosen One
    Chosen One, he's the brother named Perry
    Oh he freaks, he blows the monastery!
    The story of The Brothers Grunt!"
  • Fry in Futurama, who turns out to be the only one able to defeat the Brain Spawn because of his "special" mind. In other words, his lack of a delta brain wave (which makes him really stupid) also protects him from the Brain Spawn's psychic attacks.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, a group of Warrior Monks discover that Tohru is the reincarnation that they have been waiting for, and have this reaction when he fails to meet any of their expectations. By the end of the episode, it turns out that Tohru isn't actually the reincarnation at all. Jade is. Given how Jade is, she'd probably elicit that reaction too.
  • Coop from Megas XLR fits well. He may be an ace mecha pilot thanks to all those hours playin' vidya games, but he himself admits he's just a guy from New Jersey. When he's motivated to fight the Monster of the Week, his pre-asskicking monologue usually consists of a series of personal, often minor, slights rather than addressing the true damage or evil intentions of the villain. Plus, every time he fights in Jersey, the city ends up in ruins.
  • Onyx Equinox: Quetzalcoatl directly invokes the trope when making his wager with Tezcatlipoca, declaring that he will use "the lowest of the low" to close the five gates to the underworld and save humanity. His choice is Izel, an orphaned servant boy with nothing to his name. Tezcatlipoca's servant Yaotl, for his part, is not impressed.
    Yaotl: This is humanity's champion? Ugh, you're all fucked.
  • The Simpsons: When Homer becomes a member of the secret society The Stonecutters, he is found to have a special birthmark that signifies he is The Chosen One. He actually proves to be a great leader — but NOT the kind they were looking for. At least one or two characters have their doubts that he's really the one prophesied by the Sacred Parchment.
    • Its worth pointing out he actually was exactly the leader the Stonecutters wanted: one that abused his power for his own pleasure and let them do the same. Then he got bored and started listening to Lisa, and had them do acts of charity which they found unacceptable, making this an Inversion.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Neptune's Spatula", Spongebob pulls a golden spatula out of ancient grease, making him worthy of being Neptune's personal fry cook. But King Neptune doesn't believe someone as physically weak as Spongebob could be the chosen one. Neptune challenges Spongebob to a fry cook contest to prove himself. Spongebob loses the contest by making only one patty, while King Neptune made hundreds. But it turns out that King Neptune's patties are awful, while Spongebob's patty is superior, so King Neptune offers him the job. Subverted since Spongebob turns down the job since it means giving up his friends and the Krusty Krab. Inverted when he offers to teach King Neptune how to cook.
  • The Venture Brothers: Dean Venture's bizarre mental breakdown during the Season 2 finale has him imagine himself as the chosen one of a fantasy world. The ruler of the fantasy land is not impressed and assumes that it's some kind of a joke.