Shawn: Nondescript? I've never heard that term used to describe a woman unless she was a robbery suspect.
The member of an Ensemble Cast with no distinctive physical or personality traits. They may be smart, but not as smart as The Smart Guy. They may be strong, but not as strong as The Big Guy. In short, there is pretty much nothing remarkable or distinctive about them. They would be The Everyman or Standardized Leader ... if they were the main character.
However, they are not the main character. Someone else is The Hero and The Generic Guy is stuck in a secondary role. Thus, the generic guy will typically get very little to do or eventually be written out of the series.
As one can see below, there is a tendency for these characters to be Token Minorities, for several reasons. First, they cannot be the star because they are a token. Second, since they have no traits at all, they don't have negative traits; thus, the writers can claim that they are positive role models. Another reason is related to The Smurfette Principle: the creators think the character's tokenness is itself a defining trait, so no further fleshing-out is needed. If such a generic guy is the only minority character in the opening credits, the writers will look bigoted if they try to cut the generic guy, meaning that they're much less likely than non-token generic guys to suffer from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome a few seasons in.
If the character is stuck in this role despite their best efforts, then it is a case of I Just Want to Be Special. If they take the lack of recognizable traits to a level where it becomes an advantage on its own right, then they are The Nondescript. If the character seems to be almost superhumanly normal, it might be a Ridiculously Average Guy. A Featureless Protagonist is a protagonist that has had this done to the extreme in a Video Game. In a video game with many playable characters, this character will be the Jack-of-All-Stats, unless they're so unlucky that they're a Master of None generic guy instead. A Spear Carrier is basically just a living prop used to fill a room. Compare New Job as the Plot Demands, Vanilla Protagonist, and Unfazed Everyman. Also compare The Artifact, a character or trait that no longer adds anything to the story but is kept around because it's expected to be there. If there is more than one in a work, they can easily become Those Two Guys.
- Alice19th has Meilin and Billy, two of the Lotis Master that arrive to fight Dalva. They're helpful, wise, and ready to fight to the death against Dalva, but other than that, nothing is revealed about their background (they were apparently introduced too late in the story for the creator to give them any meaningful development).
- Attack on Titan plays with this, in the case of Bertolt Hoover. A self-described Extreme Doormat, there really isn't much distinct about him other than being extremely tall and prone to nervous sweating. He's easily forgotten among the more colorful personalities in the cast, quietly lingering in the background of scenes and not really contributing anything to the plot. Then, he finally gets some attention..... right before being revealed to be the human form of the Colossal Titan. Him seeming so generic concealed considerable Foreshadowing that only makes sense upon a second reading, and after the reveal, his personality is shown to be a lot more complex than it initially seemed.
- Estonia of Axis Powers Hetalia is much less quirky than most other members of the cast. Compared to them, he seems downright normal: He's well-adjusted, mild-mannered and preppy, and while he does have a few features of Hollywood Nerd (his glasses and penchant for computers), there isn't much about him that stands out, especially among the more colorful and eccentric personalities around him. Estonia himself lampshades this at one point:
Estonia: Hello, I'm the one who usually doesn't stand out, Estonia! Do you remember me?
- Played with in the Bokurano manga with Yoko Machi. Every tankobon begins with a list of Zearth's pilots and short descriptions. Throughout the series, Machi remains "That girl with the freckles." It eventually turns out that, as a girl from one of the series' many parallel worlds (as well as Koyemshi's sister,) she's far from generic.
- Castle Town Dandelion:
- Rivalz Cardemonde from Code Geass. Lampshaded near the end of the series, where Rivalz is disappointed at the fact that most of his close friends have been involved in something interesting while he's still just a student at school. Kaname Ohgi on the other hand, had the benefit of being a high-up member of the Black Knights... who was essentially a glorified secretary for the main character. Until he betrays him. At which point, his greatest accomplishment was still sleeping with the token enemy chick.
- Daily Lives of High School Boys:
- Tadakuni, the viewpoint character, is this. His self-description is completely accurate:
Tadakuni: My name is Tadakuni. I live a normal life, attending a normal school, in a normal town.
- Subverted by his Distaff Counterpart Habara who on the first look is as generic as he is... but just check her past and how that still affects her.
- Tadakuni, the viewpoint character, is this. His self-description is completely accurate:
- Jou (Joe) from Digimon Adventure thought he was this character later on in the series, once he realised that he wasn't particularly smart, brave, strong or willful. This may be just a lack of confidence on Joe's part in-universe; as a character he tends toward the role of comic relief. There's also that fact that he possesses the Crest of Reliability and also got his share of limelight episodes.
- Ishimaru from Eyeshield 21, this is lampshaded when he manages to score a touchdown due to the other team not noticing his existence.
- Paz and Borma from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex — they're not a Badass Normal like Togusa nor can they maneuver vehicles the way he can, they're not as good at info gathering info as Ishikawa, they can't snipe like Saito or fight like Batou, and they aren't awesome at everything like The Major. Both characters barely get any dialogue, appearances, or mentions in the manga itself. They'd be classified as scene extras if it hadn't been emphasized that they are indeed members of Section 9. The anime decided to give them at least SOME sort of defining background. Paz eventually gets A Day in the Limelight which allows him to evolve past the generic role, though. We learn that he's the team's resident cold-hearted assassin, as well as an equally cold-hearted ladies man. Oh, and he may or may not be his own robot clone. No one seems to care either way, least of all Paz himself. Borma does not get A Day in the Limelight episode like Paz does, but 2nd Gig has a few instances of terrorist and suicide bombers. Borma's role in Section 9 is revealed as the explosives expert, and he's later brought in to disarm a nuclear device.
- Shinpachi is mostly around to serve as the Only Sane Man, not having many notable qualities outside of that, and also looking generic to the point where his glasses are considered the only notable feature of his appearance. Naturally, this is made fun of on numerous occasions, such as it being a Running Gag for Gintoki and others act as though the glasses are Shinpachi, and Gintoki using his face as the basic outline for drawing the faces of other characters in one of Ginpachi-sensei segments.
- Yamazaki of the Shinsengumi is even more generic than Shinpachi (Something that he proudly lampshades when they battle against each other in the Bentendo Owee arc). His love of badminton was initially his only real character trait (that, and being Hijikata's punching bag), up until he was given A Day in the Limelight and developed some issues as a result of being forced to subsist on nothing but anpan for days on end during a stakeout.
- Kunikida from the Haruhi Suzumiya series. As the normal half of Those Two Guys with the loud and lecherous Taniguchi, he doesn't have much of a personailty, and soon ends up Out of Focus.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Nishizawa does have significant characterization in the manga, but she's stuck here for the anime skipping her character growth entirely, and then spending an episode speaking to it.
- Specifically invoked by Yoshikage Kira, the eventual primary antagonist of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. The whole idea is that they wish to appear as plain and uninteresting as physically possible, both because it suits their ideal of 'a quiet life' but also because the social camouflage provided by this unremarkability permits them to commit strings of serial murders. Notably, at one point we see inside their house and find a trophy shelf lined with third-place trophies and modest recognitions of merit, showing how they hid behind simple competence rather than drawing attention via excellence.
- Saji Crossroad from Mobile Suit Gundam 00, he and his love interest Louise Halevy reflect how war affects regular citizens.
- This was Kashiwagi's boyfriend's primary characteristic early on in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. He had average grades, average looks, little to no personality to speak of, and wasn't even referred to by name until 103 chapters after his introduction (the student council literally just referred to him as "Kashiwagi's Boyfriend"). Although he did start getting better grades thanks to his girfriend's tutoring, and he started dying his hair after summer break.
- Natsumi Murakami of Mahou Sensei Negima! laments that she doesn't really stand out much in her class. Granted, her class contains all kinds of interesting girls, so it's somewhat justified. She gains an artifact through a Pactio that reflects the owner's personality. Naturally, it makes her undetectable to anyone not in direct contact with her because she really cannot stand out.
- Mashirao Ojiro in My Hero Academia has this a Running Gag. His quirk (a Prehensile Tail) is Boring, but Practical, his room has no distinguishing style, and even the way he captures Pony in an exercise is called 'ordinary'.
- The pro hero 'Manual' has this as a philosophy. He tries very hard to be a good example of what a normal hero should be, and chose his hero name because he wants to be a manual to every up-and-coming hero, no matter their specialty.
- Tenten of Naruto is given very little character development over the years, she's rarely useful in combat, she doesn't have any distinct quirks, and no unique abilities. In fact, there is so little information about her that various appearances in Fighting Games based on Naruto have had wildly varying moves and approaches. Shino is always about laying bugs on the field, Deidara is always about launching clay bombs, Shikamaru is always about controlling shadows, but every development team has had its own interpretation of Tenten.
- Kurumi Momose from Pani Poni Dash!. Her being a forgettable girl with no defining traits (save for having a cute appearance- recognized by the fans, not in the series itself) is used as a Running Gag from the very start. She has absolutely no Moe factor, despite working at a Moe cafe! Kurumi starts veering into into Deconstruction territory when Becky continually calls her plain due to said lack of a defining characteristic in her Wacky Homeroom and she ends up moping in a Corner of Woe. She's actually pretty popular with the fanbase, though.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- Madoka's dad, whose only notable trait is being a genderflipped housewife. He never really does anything besides cooking, playing with his son Tatsuya, and talking about his wife, who does all of the non-generic parenty scenes and associated portrayals of Adult Fear.
- Madoka herself unfortunately comes off as this to some fans. Let's see, she's cute, kind-hearted, a lover of stuffed animals, feels kind of useless... and that's about it.
- Ranma's school chums Hiroshi and Daisuke from Ranma ½. Little is known about them other than their perverted nature and desire for girlfriends.
- Motoki Furuhata (Andrew) from Sailor Moon. The original anime is known for giving the civilian cast larger roles and more character development, but the writers didn't seem to have a clue what to do with Motoki besides the girls having crushes on him. They didn't even let him be a Victim of the Week. Aside from being a Nice Guy, there isn't much to say about his personality. Maybe this is why he was turned into the Plucky Comic Relief for the live-action.
- Nami in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. Her normalness is her gimmick in a show where everyone has extreme gimmicks.
Nami: Don't call me normal!
- Shimoneta: Tanukichi's role is secondary to Ayame's, in terms of characterization and plot relevance. Made less so, given he's absent from most advertising material for the series.
- Chihiro Kosaka from The World God Only Knows. As lampshaded by Keima himself during her capture arc:
Keima: She's exactly a middling real girl among real girls!
- Maya Matsumoto from WORKING!!. She is seen many times throughout the series and is even in the opening. She isn't even shown talking or interacting with anyone besides customers. In the final episode of the first season, we find out this is exactly how she wants it.
- Averting this is a plot point for the main characters of Pika Ichi, as they are so generic people tend to forget they exist. Even their names are generic; Suzuki Hanako and Suzuki Tarou are the equivalent of John and Jane Doe. Then they find out about rampant corruption and bullying in their school and choose to make themselves over in the image of their favourite movie genre, yakuza movies, in order to stand out and stand up for their schoolmates and their beliefs.
- Yuru-Yuri: This is Akari's main character trait (much to her dismay). Her ability to be forgotten/fade into the background is so pronounced that it's been known to spread to other characters (much to their dismay).
- In The Golden Age of Comic Books, Jack Kirby did several series about various "kid gangs", including the Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos. All of them had their own generic guy, usually as Standardized Leader — including the Forever People, his team of "space hippies" from The '70s. The Forever People: Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer, Vykin the Black, Serifan and ... Mark Moonrider.
- In some Metal Men comics, Copper is considered extremely bland and forgettable by the other Metal Men, to the point that all of them act as though they've never met her before every time they see her.
- In New X-Men, poor Tag became the Hellion team generic guy. He didn't have Hellion's ego (or power), Wither's angst, Mercury's one sided love (and emo), Dust's nationalism, or Santo's lovable big guy status. Of course this was a bad time to be Generic Guy. The kids are expendable. By the end of the series when the students had only one team, Prodigy became the generic guy (he was the only average human). And while he did know every fighting style of every X-Men to ever teach him... he got almost entirely cut out of the final storyarc. Hellion, Dust, Mercury, and Santo stayed the same as above, Elixir took over Wither's angst spot, Surge was the leader dealing with The Chains of Commanding, Pixie became The Chick, Anole became the Badass Normal (and Straight Gay), X-23 was well, like her brother-father, and poor Prodigy fell through the cracks in the plot. Being The Smart Guy does not pay off apparently.
- Young Neil from Scott Pilgrim doesn't really do anything. He just hangs out with the main characters and looks a lot like Scott.
- The Dalton Cousins from Lucky Luke included two such characters: there was hot-headed leader Joe, tall and ditzy Averell, and then there were William and Jack, who were rather bland and basically interchangeable.
- Balder from The Mighty Thor. He's also a son of Odin, like Thor, and therefore able to rule Asgard when Thor isn't for any plot-contrived-reason. Of course, his half brothers are: A) THOR who's The Hero, a Large Ham, and a Boisterous Bruiser, b) God-of-War Tyr who plays the Handicapped Badass with only one hand and now serves the queen of the dead, and C) their stepbrother Loki, who gets Evil Is Sexy, Draco in Leather Pants, is a Magnificent Bastard and is the most developed character outside of Thor himself. Poor guy didn't have a chance.
- Due to the comic's usage of Loads and Loads of Characters from practically every interpretation of the franchise, some of the Freedom Fighters lean into this Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. Rotor in particular, originally The Smart Guy and something of a dork, couldn't match up to the increasing number of tech experts in the team and, while still getting the odd spotlight, is one of the most normal and non distinct of the main cast personality wise. Also an example of the "generic Token Minority", though this wasn't revealed until well into the comic's run.
- This was the reason why the pirate Erix was quickly removed from the recurring Asterix pirate crew and Put on a Bus to Hell. The other three main pirate characters are really quirky and endearing with good Comic Trio chemistry, but he had no real traits and nothing to do, leading to him soon being sold into slavery.
- Poor, poor Donna Troy. Back when the Teen Titans was just a club for JLA sidekicks, she got to be The Chick - perhaps not an impressive slot, but at least it was a slot. Once the Wolfman-Perez relaunch rolled around, though, pretty much everyone on the roster left her in the dust - newcomers Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven were all outcasts with appropriately angsty backstories, fellow old-guarders Robin (soon to be known as Nightwing) and Kid Flash struggled with the trials of growing up (as both superheroes and civilians), and even Beast Boy had some Sad Clown Lonely Rich Kid issues going on. In contrast, Donna had no real neuroses, her mentor hailed from a society of immortal warrior-women, and she didn't even have a Secret Identity to worry about. To add insult to injury, even Donna's Flying Brick powerset was rendered redundant by Starfire, who could do all that and dish out Hand Blasts to boot.
This, to some extent, might explain why the character has become such an infamous Continuity Snarl - without many flaws or even general character traits to latch onto, writers looking to give Donna A Day in the Limelight usually turn to exploring her existence rather than her character, hence her bazillion-and-one different origins.
- The strip features a dark haired, personality-free character that Scott Adams refers to in books as "Ted the Generic Guy". If someone is going to be fired, it's usually him. Ditto if someone's going to be killed. It may not even be the same Ted every time. Adams has admitted that he came into being just because he can't draw many types of characters, so he just draws Ted whenever he needs someone generic. As you can see, the above screenshot from the TV series is a profile of Ted which lampshades all this.
- Early on in the comic, before he became an actual character, Wally (or at least someone who looked exactly like him) filled this role. It was later established that "guys who look exactly like Wally" are so common they have a social club.
- Jenn Erica of Ink Pen is a walking lampshade of this trope.
- Franklin didn't have any of the sort of usual quirks that define a Peanuts character. His role in the comic, besides being a Token Minority, consisted mostly of being the Only Sane Man who commented on the other kids' eccentric natures.
- Obviously, Shermy as well. He was dropped from the strip in 1969; Charles Schulz remarked that he had only been using Shermy when he "needed a character with very little personality," a role Franklin seems to have filled since.
- Gal from the Israeli comic Zbeng! moved from the Everyman to this when the comic went from Five-Man Band to Ensemble Cast.
- Lyman from Garfield. Besides being Odie's original owner and Jon's college roommate, we knew very little about him, especially what he did for a living or why he came to live with Jon, and he was nearly identical to Jon in every way except for his appearance. He seems to have been basically introduced as someone Jon could interact with. He was slowly phased out and completely disappeared after 1983.
- Emmet Brickowski from The LEGO Movie, who is lampooned for his genericness and the fact that he is a mundane looking LEGO minifig with normal hair and a hard hat. Ultimately subverted when the whole movie is played to develop him into a legitimate hero, and there are movie tie-in LEGO products featuring him.
- Jonathan from Hotel Transylvania. He may act as the Blithe Spirit, but besides that and his love of monsters, there's really nothing "unique" about him as a whole.
- Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) in National Treasure, until she's kissed by Nicolas Cage, when she promptly transforms into the Satellite Love Interest. True, she is very smart, but that's not notable in a movie where pretty much everyone but the Mooks is The Smart Guy in some way. However, she is the only one (out of the main characters, at least) to have access to the Declaration of Independence, which makes her pretty darn important. She is also the one to save Ben from the FBI, willing to make a Deal with the Devil and thought she had the upper hand, not knowing Ian went the extra mile to nab Patrick.
- Zeppo Marx was usually the sane man who worked as a foil to the other three's zany schemes (though some people see him as a parody of the Only Sane Man archetype). Unfortunately, all of the other characters in Marx Brothers films are straight men/women, so Zeppo's role was mostly superfluous. Although by all accounts, Zeppo was at least as funny as his brothers when performing their own routines, he recognized that his generic character was unnecessary and moved his contributions behind the camera for the latter part of their careers. He stopped appearing in the films after Duck Soup.
- In Idiocracy Joe (and apparently Rita as well) were selected by the military in 2005 for how remarkably average they were across several categories. 500 years in the future, Joe and Rita are the smartest people in the world, in spite of many scenes reminding us that they really aren't bright by modern standards.
- The Bowery Boys consisted of the smart leader (Leo Gorcey), the dumb follower (Huntz Hall) and a bunch of generic guys like David Gorcey who were just there to flesh out the gang. This trope was recycled when the Bowery Boys were recycled for animated cartoons as the Anthill Mob (in Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop). "Boss" was Leo Gorcey, "Dingaling" was Huntz Hall, and the rest of the Anthill Mob were just the generic guys.
- In the James Bond films, James Bond's CIA counterpart Felix Leiter only has one consistent character trait: he's not as good as Bond.
- Toll Road from The Expendables, played by Randy Couture. He has no distinctive qualities whatsoever, or any memorable dialogue at all. His only noted trait is his cauliflower ear, which Couture has in real life.
- The jurors in 12 Angry Men don't all get the same amount of focus, but most of them get at least one moment or trait to really set them apart from the others. Juror #1 doesn't really get this so much. He's one of the jurors with the fewest lines and mostly just serves as the one who will officially read out the verdict once it's reached but plays very little role in actually reaching it. Juror #6 also gets very little characterization; the only thing that's ever really revealed about him is the fact that he works as a painter.
- Kevin Myers in the American Pie films is pretty average when compared to his friends, and usually ends up playing the Only Sane Man to the antics of Jim, Finch, and Stifler. In fact, it led to him being Demoted to Extra in the third film, but that was mainly because of Stifler. At least he actually made it into the film, unlike Oz.
- Larry Fine was one of The Three Stooges, but he never dished out as many slaps and eye-pokes as Moe (the Know-Nothing Know-It-All), or received as many as Curly, Shemp, or even Joe (the wisecrackers). He was mostly there because the trio's dynamic would simply never have worked otherwise. Behind the scenes, Fine had a distinctively quirky sense of humor, but his ideas were usually ignored, and on the rare occasions he took the spotlight, such as their 1952 short Cuckoo on a Choo Choo, the results went over like a lead balloon with most audiences.
- Jonathan Harker from the original Dracula novel doesn't have an interest in science like Van Helsing or Seward, tragedy like Lucy and Arthur, madness like Renfield, or a Heroic Sacrifice like Quincey Morris. He's just a generic handsome guy who serves as the Count's Chew Toy in the first part of the book and as a Satellite Love Interest to Mina after the Count becomes obsessed with her. Many adaptations have either condensed his part or removed him completely and lost little.
- In the Xanth book Man from Mundania, Grey.
"The problem was that not only was Grey strictly average in mind, he was completely forgettable in body. His driver's license listed his hair as 'hair-colored' and his eyes as 'neutral.'"
- Parodied in the Paul Stewert and Chris Riddell novel Muddle Earth, which features the "last and certainly least" wizard known as Colin the Nondescript.
- "Alekseyev" from the Russian classical novel Oblomov. "Hardly anyone, apart from his mother, noticed his birth, very few people notice him throughout his life, and, surely, no one will notice his departure from this Earth". So unmemorable that no one, not even the narrator, remembers his name - some call him Ivanov, others Vasilyev, yet others Andreyev, while the narrator settles on Alekseyev (all of these are rather common family names in Russia).
- Don from Dark Lord of Derkholm. While all the other Derk-spawn have a defining personality trait (Shona's the level-headed young woman, Kit's the sullen teenager, Blade's the magical cute boy, Calette's a Wrench Wench, Lydda's the stubborn chef, and Elda's the Deliberately Cute Child), Don is for the most part a well-adjusted teenager who just sort of gets dragged into his sibling's antics.
- Hamlet: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have no characterization other than that they are Hamlet's old friends. In their several conversations with him, they do nothing but react to him. The play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead deconstructs their generic non-characterization by focusing on them.
- Deconstructed in Agatha Christie's novel Curtain. Norton is a completely average guy, lacking enough characterization to be important to the plot, let alone the killer. Turns out he is aware of this, and uses this "ability" to manipulate people into committing murders, without being noticed or remembered by anyone.
- The Rainbow Magic series has the protagonists Rachel and Kirsty. They're nice, imaginative girls and that's about it. The fairies they help are no better, with some of them heading into Flat Character territory.
- Agent Antoine Triplett on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Initially brought on to replace Ward on Coulson's team after he was revealed to be a HYDRA agent, he basically was Ward except more personable and without the Dark and Troubled Past. However, as season two introduced other characters such as Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse (not to mention Skye Taking a Level in Badass) he became largely redundant in this role. The writers struggled to find a new niche for him to fill, at times having him fill in for May (a pilot) or Simmons (a medic) just to give him something to do. Not helping matters was the fact that the actor had other commitments that limited Trip's screentime and made it difficult to involve him in any complex story arcs or relationships, and his two most notable qualities -being the grandson of a Howling Commando and a potential Romantic False Lead for Simmons- were never explored. Eventually the character was killed off in the mid-season 2 finale, and his death wasn't even really about him, but just there to add weight to Skye's transformation into an Inhuman.
- Bones: Booth's Romantic False Lead, Hannah, in Season 6 really does not have any discernable or well defined character traits. She just sort of smiles and looks pretty. It pretty much Character Shilling at its most annoying.
- Jack Hunter on Boy Meets World. Came to the show late, when the cast dynamics were pretty much already set up, and other than the fact that his character was richer than everyone else, they didn't establish much personality for him. He was there basically to react to the humorous things Eric would do.
- Before Jack's introduction, the main character Cory Matthews actually had a complex about this, being the middle child of a middle class family. His best friend has a Dark and Troubled Past and his love interest is a beautiful teen genius. Episodes would see him regularly taking part of schemes to come across as more interesting to his classmates.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Jonathan Levinson is this for the longest time. He tries to break free of it and by season six he does when he joins Warren and Andrew in the Trio, where even though he's not the leader of it he become a major player in the plot.
- Riley has been accused of this. Compared to Buffy's other bad-boy love interests (Angel, Spike, and Parker), at the core Riley's just a normal, squeaky-clean, church-going guy from the midwestern US. This is one of the factors in the fandom's dislike of him; he's just not as interesting as the other characters.
- Adrian in Carrusel. He gets a name, but no defining characteristics or plotlines. He is just there in the classroom and has the occasional line.
- ER had Lots And Lots Of Characters and generally did well at filling out personalities for most of them, but nurse Connie Oligario was a regular for ten years without ever being afforded the fuller characterization given to colleagues like Haleh, Lydia and Chuny.
- Astrid in Fringe. She does tend to stand out for not being crazy.
- Beth from Harper's Island was probably the worst offender in the cast. She appeared in the first 10 (out of 13) episodes, and she was lucky to get two lines an episode. A large chunk of viewers probably didn't know her name, as it was only mentioned once before she went missing and was found dead.
- Simon of The Inbetweeners - he's the Straight Man to Jay, Neil and Will, but as the latter is the narrator and central character, Simon can look a little zero-dimensional. His main trait is that he's obsessed with Carly, a relationship which never seems to progress to actual dating but never seems to exclude the possibility of it either.
- Kirk and Leslie from Newhart. Kirk was the owner of the Minuteman Café next door to the Stratford. He was a chronic liar. After a while (one episode) this got old, and Kirk just stood around. Even worse was Leslie, the hotel's maid, whose backstory was that she was a fabulously wealthy world-class skier who took the job at the Stratford to see what a normal life would be like. So one could only assume she'd be a Rich Bitch, or at least spoiled enough that she wouldn't be able to perform well as a maid, right? Wrong. She's wholesome, nice, down-to-earth, and painfully bland. Leslie stayed until the end of Season 1, after which she was replaced by her cousin, a Spoiled Brat who actually seems out of place working in a hotel. Kirk stayed until the end of Season 2. For this season, the show relied completely on Bob Newhart and Tom Poston's characters. It's a wonder the show even got renewed for a second season.
- Mark from Parks and Recreation is one of the most often cited examples of this trope done badly. He was meant to be the Straight Man and Only Sane Man of the main cast but the result was a character with little to no personality. It didn't help that the show's humor style relies heavily on the wacky interactions and personalities of the cast nor that Ann could serve the role as the only sane character while still having a fleshed out personality (as well as good comedic chemistry with the rest of the cast), making him fairly redundant. Fans found him boring and the writers clearly didn't know what else to do with him. Eventually, Mark ended up being Put on a Bus by the end of season 2 and never returned.
- Power Rangers Mystic Force: Nick is The Drifter, Xander is (or tries to be) The Charmer, Chip is Genre Savvy, Vida is tomboyish to the point that she's Ambiguously Butch Lesbian, and Madison is, uh, wait, who's Madison?)
- Pete from Smallville is the only main character not not have a space of his own. Everyone else has a place that says something about the person, somewhere to work or relax and be themselves, but him. He even complains about always being in Clark's shadow. He finds out that Clark is an alien but that's not enough to make him interesting so after a while the writers put him on a bus.
- Alan Carter became this in Space: 1999, especially in season 2 when Tony Vederchi was introduced as the young, hot, action ready, ladies man character. This left Alan with nothing to do than fly the Eagle and act as a third wheel when with Commander Koenig and Dr. Russell.
- Lieutenant Ford in Stargate Atlantis, for the entirety of the first season. In the second, he was given token development... just in time to be replaced by a more "interesting" character.
- Brendan Lambert in Step by Step. So generic, that he does not show up in the final season- and the plot is not affected at all!!!
- John from the first season of Taxi, who was so generic that he was written out after the first season (and replaced with Cloudcuckoolander Jim).
- Matt Donovan from The Vampire Diaries.
- Andy Travis of WKRP in Cincinnati. He was originally the point-of-view character, being the new guy to the station, but ended up as the guy no one remembers. Bailey Quarters probably falls into this category too for anyone who doesn't think she's hot.
- The Wire: Leander Sydnor has no character attributes beyond being "good police." Furthermore, he has no side plots and we learn virtually nothing about him.
- Carla Healy from The Wonder Years didn't have much personality (besides maybe being socially awkward). She was basically just Paul's on-again/off-again girlfriend.
- Mitt Romney's entire campaign strategy in the 2012 election cycle (both primary and general) was to present himself as the Generic Guy and try as much as possible to keep the focus on his main opponent and avoid haemorrhaging support. This served him very well in the GOP primary - there was a different perceived frontrunner almost every month for a while and with the exception of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich they were all new to the national stage while his 2008 run meant the press treated him as a known commodity. In the general election, Barack Obama being an incumbent and therefore even more of a known commodity with plenty of cash on hand, Romney finally started to receive the highest level of attacks and scrutiny that he'd never had. He is listed as an example of where playing it safe doesn't result in a safe victory. It ensures that you don't articulate a clear vision and makes it easier for the opposition to define you.
- During John Kerry's 2004 campaign, the focus of which was almost entirely on how he wasn't George W. Bush (which was admittedly a strong selling point with some demographics at the time), while doing little to explain why the electorate should vote for him instead.
- Subverted by current President of China Xi Jingping. He carefully cultivated an image as a Communist Party loyalist and competent administrator, but also someone who was unambitious, cautious and thoroughly bland, racking up seniority and influence until he was strong enough to make a play for the top. Apparently he was so good at being utterly uncontroversial and forgettable that, to this day, people he worked with for years can barely remember him. When the Communist Party voted to put him in charge, probably assuming he would just sit quietly at his desk filling out paperwork, he immediately cast off the guise and starting purging his rivals, including the chief of China's security services. They never saw it coming.
- This was Dick Hutton's role in the National Wrestling Alliance until Lou Thesz handpicked him to be the next World Heavyweight Champion. Hutton was a great wrestler, but had no distinguishable physical characteristics, gear, moves or memorable promos to distinguish him as anything else but a wrestler. The NWA promoters tolerated his promotion for about 400 days before sticking him back in this role.
- Average White Guy in the Mountain Wrestling Association, IWA Mid-South and Wild Cat Championship Wrestling, none of which had a particular shortage of white guys. He actually did manage to win a few bouts, in spite of being generic.
- Ironically averted with the highly memorable El Generico (Sami Zayn in WWE). His personality and appearance(discounting the pale skin and red goatee) scream "standardized luchador" but his matches do not(luchadors are not generally associated with BRAINBUSTAS!).
- With no main roster direction, Alex Riley became such in WWE to the point his silhouette is used for advertising a "mystery opponent".
- Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. At the start, you've got perplexed everyman Arthur Dent, and his wacky friend Ford... but then Zaphod, who's far wackier than Ford, gets introduced, as well as a whole galaxy of incredibly weird creatures and sights; this leaves Ford neither particularly normal nor particularly wacky. At least Ford continues somewhat in his role of "Galaxy Smart Guy", guiding and educating Arthur on the ways of the Galaxy. Though in the third book and beyond he becomes somewhat of a Shell-Shocked Veteran as well as The Hedonist.
- Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
- Jenna Sanderson was deliberately created with a generic personality and a boring backstory; she's friendly and a little shy, and then average everywhere else. This changed with the advent of her superpower, which turned her into a walking hoarde of insects. Naturally, she's developed a lot of neuroses related to her new form.
- Daigo's gang of misfits used to have an extra NPC member called Eddie. He was eventually faded out of the roleplay due to having no notable personality or quirks, and fulfilling no role in the gang that the other members weren't already serving (Destiny as the dependable one, Kev as The Heart, Marko as the nice guy, etc.)
- Survival of the Fittest:
- In version 3, this is pretty much the defining trait of Alice Jones from the beginning. There was literally very little to have her stand out from the rest of the student body base. She wasn't particularly notable in personality, interests, or skills, which was pretty much the point of the character.
- Interestingly, Reika Ishida was initially denied for v4 for being "too normal" as to be unbelievable, encouraging the handler to add her OCD.
- Grimm plays humans from the Grimm Lands as just barely this instead of a full-on Empty Shell. They're two-dimensional and less-than-real, being defined by their job and having little more to them, showing only rather limited and basic personalities. Their reaction to children from the real world — who are (barring a bad player) Rounded Characters by definition — varies, but tends to be strong.
- Amos Hart in Chicago, who bitterly complained about his nonentity status in "Mr. Cellophane:"
Shoulda been my name
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there...
- From BIONICLE:
- During the Toa's clash with their artificial shadow duplicates at the end of the 2001 story, Pohatu is accused of being his team's most generic member by his evil duplicate, in a tactic to make him feel worthless. Pohatu responds that he agrees and enjoys being "normal" because it means he can be a realiable friend to all of his teammates despite their massive personality differences. This only holds for his in-story persona — Pohatu's toy itself was anything but generic due to its Non-Standard Character Design.
- Matoro during the 2006 arc admits to be one when he and his team enter a chamber that requires the sacrifice of one person to pass through. He argues the others have important duties, two being military leaders, one a sport celebrity, one an inventor and one an adventuring Chronicler, while he was a mere animal tracker and translator who was burdened with secret knowledge of the past he couldn't share with his people, which had made him distant from everyone but his village elder. He argues the world could live without him. He dies, but is immediately resurrected because the chamber's goal was a Secret Test of Character. He then realizes there's more ways to be special, which sets him on a path to becoming The Chosen One.
- Kurando in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. An above-average physical fighter whose only gimmick is that he can turn into a demon... but you have Yuri, who is stronger, can transform into more demon forms, is a much greater badass, and is the main character. Kurando is a quiet, Bishōnen samurai in a party with a Large Ham pro wrestler, an old man with a puppet that can cast devastating magical spells, a wolf, and Princess Anastasia Romanova.
- Zack in Megaman Star Force 2 notes that he doesn't get grades as good as Luna's (despite being The Smart Guy in personality and group role), he isn't as strong like Bud, and he isn't brave like Geo. Also, unlike the other four (Geo/Omega-Xis, Luna/Ophiuca, Sonia/Lyra and Bud/Taurus), he didn't encounter an alien being or get to Wave Change.
- Mother 3 practically goes out of its way to describe playable character Duster as having no defining or interesting personality traits. However, the description is misleading. Duster is an interesting and deep character, just like almost everybody else in the game.
- Jacob Taylor of Mass Effect 2. While he was intended to be a well-adjusted individual in a dysfunctional group, since he very rarely interacts with any of the characters (and Shepard tends to play the role of the foil) he instead just comes off as a boring character in a cast of different and extremely complex personalities. While he does have a romance, it instead comes off as unintentionally hilarious at best and is completely invalidated by the third game, where he cheats on Shepard for another woman. His status as the boring character also isn't helped by having lackluster powers (Pull, Inferno Ammo, and Biotic Barrier as his loyalty power) and the weakest weapon combo in the game (pistols and shotguns), which left him far less useful than any of the other party members by the midway point and also the fact that there was another character who was similarly lacking in personal issues while managing to be quite a bit more interesting to interact with: Legion.
- Rochelle from Left 4 Dead 2 was perceived as this for a while due to her seemingly bland personality. However, she's seemed to have mostly averted this post-Sacrifice.
- Mario is specifically a somewhat bland and generic "hero" in order for him to be versatile. In most games even the RPGs he never speaks, and mostly just reacts to other characters. Luigi, as his Palette Swap brother, was originally this as well, but in recent years has been given a more overt personality as an awkward scaredy-cat.
- Kooper from Paper Mario is the most normal of Mario's partners. He's really the only one that doesn't have a personality quirk.
- Goombario doesn't have much of an actual personality either. However, his Tattle ability lets him tell you his opinions on almost every enemy, area, and NPC in the game, which do give off a semblance of personality.
- Nida from Final Fantasy VIII, so much so that when Headmaster Cid speaks to him during the SeeD graduation ceremony he tells him to "do your best even if you don't stand out" and he's not even given so much as a name until much later when he's taught how to operate the now mobile Balamb Garden becoming its chief navigational officer.
- While Corpse Party's other main characters are having their Establishing Character Moments in the classroom, Sakutaro Morishige is just sort of there to establish his existence and the fact that he's Mayu's friend. His comes later. And hoo boy, does it come.
- Desmond Miles of Assassin's Creed. Despite being the central protagonist of the original trilogy, Desmond tends to get very little development since the games tend to focus on his ancestors and as such he's essentially a Living MacGuffin. He does become slightly more sarcastic by Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Revelations does go into detail about his backstory.
- Kellam in Fire Emblem Awakening is the biggest, toughest, and heaviest member of the cast, but has virtually no personality beyond being a Nice Guy. The other characters barely know he exists, even though he wears a huge suit of white and orange armor everywhere he goes. He's not The Nondescript because he has a number of outstanding features, he's just so quiet and reserved that he kind of blends into the scenery wherever he goes.
- Stahl from the same game. Like Kellam, he doesn't have much personality beyond being a Nice Guy. His supports reveal that all of his performance tests were the exact median among all the soldiers, to the point that whenever he does get stronger, EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ARMY GETS PROPORTIONALLY stronger so that he is always the statistical median in every physical attribute. Miriel explains this as everyone else using Stahl as a baseline when figuring out how much they need to improve. That said, his actual stats lean a little toward being a Mighty Glacier.
- Russel Bagman in Super Robot Wars Original Generation, who serves as Katina Tarask's devoted subordinate and quite possibly the most "normal" person in all of Original Generation, without being a Flat Character. Additionally, Russel is the only original character (sub-pilots excluded) who doesn't have a personal Leitmotif. Ironically, this makes him stand out to many fans.
- Franklin from Grand Theft Auto V. Although he's the Audience Surrogate and which ending you get depends on a crucial decision he makes during the game's climax, he has overall the least involvement in the main storyline of the three protagonists. While Michael and Trevor have an elaborate history together and a personal conflict that is the crux of the game's story, as well as fleshed-out personalities that contrast each other, Franklin only meets them during the events of the game, has a fairly standard up-and-coming new guy personality and only occasionally gets involved in their fighting to play the Only Sane Man. The fact that he's also the Token Minority doesn't help.
- Makoto Naegi from the Danganronpa franchise is stated to be one, having no real outstanding traits compared to his much more talented and more recognized classmates. And indeed, the only reason why he was able to get into such a prestigious school like Hope's Peak Academy was because he was randomly selected out of everyone in Japan as the "Ultimate Lucky Student". Gradually subverted over the course of the series, as it turns out that his greatest asset is his unrelenting optimism, which helped the surviving students of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc corner the Mastermind and led to the creation of the Future Foundation.
- Until Dawn has Beth Washington, who gets almost no character development compared to her siblings and dies before the prologue even ends.
- Fallout 4 has Preston Garvey, the companion of the Minutemen faction. Aside from being known for sending you on constant sidequests to liberate settlements, he has a largely straight-laced do-gooder personality and nothing especially interesting going for him personally.
- Central Officer Bradford from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, your Mission Control and Mr. Exposition, who has the least interesting job and the smallest impact on the actual plot out of all the named characters. Looking almost exactly like the page image for Ridiculously Average Guy doesn't help. He got a surprisingly badass moment in the Enemy Within expansion, albeit only in a cutscene, and his characterisation was significantly expanded upon for XCOM 2.
- 100% Orange Juice! has The Protagonist Kai, who is just an Ordinary High-School Student with no special traits, save for his Plot Armor, an even Mei refers to him as a nondescript guy. In the final episode of his campaign, it is revealed that Tomomo made him that way so she would stand out in comparison.
- The first Final Boss in the Monster Hunter franchise is the Fatalis. What does the Fatalis look like? Well, it's a classic dragon. It hates humans and it breathes fire. That's about it. Its sheer unnatural size, growth rate, and Healing Factor, along with its habit of killing any living thing in its territory, turn it from a generic fantasy monster to the stuff of nightmares.
- Sam from The Strangerhood is an excellent example of this trope, especially considering how wacky the rest of the cast is.
- Real Life Comics's Alan Extra, who appears almost as frequently as the main four characters, and occasionally John Generic.
- Sluggy Freelance uses Sasha to play with this trope. In many other series she would be The Generic Girl, but Sluggy Freelance is a World of Weirdness series populated mostly by Cloud Cuckoo Landers, Sociopathic Heroes, and Tsunderes. The fact that Sasha can live in the Sluggyverse and remain so calm and unaffected by everything going on makes her one of the weirder character in the series. And the fans seem to love her for it.
Torg: Weird girl, Sasha.
- Shortpacked!'s cast page lampshades the fact that Ken's defining traits are pretty much "Dogged Nice Guy" and "happens to be Asian."
Hes, um, got a great personality? Ha, no. Hes pretty forgettable.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! as a whole can be seen as an extended Deconstruction / Reconstruction of this trope.
- In RAIN, Rand M. Guy (AKA Randy) is the least characterized of the ensemble cast, and as of yet the only recurring character who has had no dialogue. He appeared in chapters 1 (where he gets stared down by Maria) and 6 (where Rain and Gavin both spit their drinks on him). His normalness is lampshaded not only by his name, but from Word of God and Bonus Material. (No one cares that he is bisexual).
- Horrifying Planet from The Onion describes deer in this way.
Deer are fine... From an evolutionary perspective, there is nothing wrong with deer... Lots of other animals do this so, not exactly breaking the mold here, but it's fine...
- Arthur the aardvark appears to follow this trope as he has no outstanding personality (his normal nature was occasionally lampshaded and made fun of), but he does seem to be a generic character in a cast otherwise consisting of non-generic characters.
- Played for laughs with the in-universe video game: Virtual Goose V5.0 where Arthur and his friends end up playing as goose characters loosely based on their personalities. Arthur ends up with a character called "Plain Goose" who dresses up in a similar outfit as Arthur's.
- Mack from Daria. While his girlfriend Jodie got development in Season 2, Mack didn't do much of anything beyond the incredibly annoyed Straight Man to Kevin.
- Of course, being able to stick with the same voice actor for more than a few episodes might've helped.
- Ted The Generic Guy from Dilbert, as mentioned above, is the Trope Namer.
- Doug Funnie has a few quirks and a bit of a Mr. Imagination thing going, but is still one of the blandest characters in the show, right down to having a Caucasian skin tone while living in an Amazing Technicolour Population. Lampshaded multiple times: apparently his achievement is "average" in all fields, and in the episode where they first got the Internet, he chose the "nondescript fan" option for a forum based around his favourite band and it looked like an eight-bit version of himself.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: Nazz in the first two seasons was nothing more than a pretty Girl Next Door. This is probably why she was flanderized into being a Dumb Blonde by the third season. She's notably the only character who almost never gets her own A Day in the Limelight episode, possibly as a result of this trope. Even her only A Day in the Limelight episode ("Boys Will Be Eds") is more about the boys trying to get Nazz's attention rather than Nazz herself.
- Ashlynn Ella from Ever After High doesn't really have many noticable character traits besides loving shoes and having a Dating Catwoman relationship with Hunter, a Rebel student. Unlike most examples on this page the writers seem to have taken notice and appear to be slowly writing her out.
- Bill from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids has no real defining character traits compared to the rest of the gang. Ironic, since he's the Author Avatar.
- When describing his old crew, Professor Farnsworth mentions Captain Lando Tucker as a man with no characteristics.
- In the early seasons, Hermes Conrad and Amy Wong tended to be this due to being Out of Focus. They were part of the main cast as employees of Farnsworth working as a bureaucrat and grad student assistant, but those traits rarely came into play and outside the trio of Fry, Leela and Bender they didn't have the universal hatred of Zoidberg to make them interesting. Later episodes made more of an effort for Character Development, with A Day in the Limelight or otherwise giving them more of a presence in the stories.
- Everyone in Gravity Falls is a tad strange, except for, ironically, Tad Strange, who is perfectly normal.
- Tim of The Magic School Bus, who had no distinctive personality traits at all, despite being surrounded by a classroom full of loud, quirky characters. He may have been intended as the Only Sane Man, but because he was so uninteresting, he basically became a Living Prop, and the other characters took turns as the Only Sane Man instead. Tim was the only black male in the cast, but he was far from the only minority, and all of the others had just as many foibles as the white kids. He was also the last character to be the protagonist of an episode, long after all the others had been the focus of several episodes apiece, very late in the show's run. The writers (and his long-suffering voice actor) tried their best to give Tim an actual personality, but to no avail.
- Frankie Stein in most animation based on Monster High. She's clumsy and kind...and that's pretty much it. Made all the more noticeable by the fact that she's the main character. She also had a Naïve Newcomer schtick but that got dropped early in the franchise's run.
- Zuma, the PAW Patrol's water rescue pup, is pretty much this. He has little to no distinct personality traits of his own, and despite being the resident water rescue pup, in a city called Adventure Bay no less, it's usually the other pups (even the aquaphobic Rocky) who get the job done. As a result, Zuma is pretty much only used if an extra set of paws are needed.
- Django Brown of Phineas and Ferb didn't have any real extreme qualities like the rest of the gang, and quickly faded into being just a background character.
- Dil from Rugrats is a cute baby that likes chewing on things...and that's about it. Being younger than the others, he apparently hasn't developed a real personality yet. However, the Sequel Series, All Grown Up!, makes him into a Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
- Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo was intended to be the leader, despite Scooby being the headliner and Shaggy and Scooby being the ultimate Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Unfortunately for Freddy, his leadership was a quiet Informed Ability. The result was a man so bland this trope was once called "The Freddy".
- Some incarnations of Freddy make him out to be a neurotic blusterer (live-action movies) or a Small Name, Big Ego who's always wrong about any evidence (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo). Probably because his sense of "leadership" was "taking" Daphne (and sometimes Velma too) somewhere until Scooby and Shaggy accidentally stumble onto something important or until Velma makes a plan that the gang can use to catch the villain. This is lampshaded in many, many places. On the other hand, it worked, so maybe he was just very Genre Savvy.
- Recent media actually seems to have made him goofier and more naive. Frank Welker has even evolved his take on him accordingly.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated probably develops him the most. While he's flanderized into becoming obsessed with traps, he's got a dorky side, and gets more fleshed out when trying to discover his family's history his real parents and surprisingly enough, become the biggest Woobie in the show.
- The Simpsons has been running so long that almost every character has a bit of a personality and backstory at this point, with a few exceptions.
- The bully Dolph is probably the least developed character in Springfield Elementary, despite getting a fair bit of screen time. In recent years they've been gradually introducing some superficially interesting details about him, like the fact that he is Jewish and has same-sex parents.
- Barflies Sam and Larry in The Simpsons never seem to do anything but take up space in the bar. It's very easy to forget who they are. Homer's "third" co-worker Charlie is a tad more developed, in that he at least talks once in a while.
- Mr. Normal from the video in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Not Normal". The plot follows SpongeBob attempting to be everything like this man, which leaves everyone he knows unsettled as he loses his unique characteristics. After Normal-fied SpongeBob points out what makes Squidward not normal, the octopus becomes his own version of Mr. Normal by the end of the episode.
- South Park: Stan is essentially the everyman of the show, without any strong characterization in any direction. He plays the Only Sane Man role the most of any character.
- Leonardo in the 80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, made especially noticable by the fact that nearly everybody else in the show has a wacky over-the-top personality. Some episodes tried to give him funny quirks of his own but sadly none of them stuck. Putting this in perspective is the line describing him in the theme song. A line he shares with Donatello, no less. "Leonardo leads." That's it.
- Total Drama: The original pitch positioned Trent as being the show's protagonist, with the gimmick that he was the only "normal" guy in a group of over-the-top characters who hated him. The final product retooled him into a Nice Guy Chick Magnet, but his personality is still flat enough that he comes off as a Satellite Love Interest for Gwen. The second season gave him Super OCD, but that came off as a Compressed Vice and just served as an excuse to vote him off and demote him to extra.
- The kids in Transformers generally lack personality, ironically making them less human than the robots.
- Regular Show has Thomas, an intern whose main role seemed to be to play the relative straight-man to the other characters and ended up mostly blending into the background. Eventually it's revealed that he was actually a Russian spy who was deliberately trying to be Beneath Notice, thus justifying his behavior.
- Parodied (like everything else) in The Amazing World of Gumball with Molly. She was mostly a background character in the first season and had little if any relevance to the plot or personality. In "The Void" it's revealed she was so generic the Universe deemed her a mistake and sent her to the void where mistakes go. The same fate befalls Rob who later becomes a villain having no other purpose.