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The Intern

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Variant form of Naïve Newcomer. The young guy (often the Plucky Comic Relief) who is still new to the whole place. He's often brilliant, almost always irreverent, and almost always "not ready for prime time" (i.e. throwing up the first time he sees a serious accident, etc). Commonly treated as a Butt-Monkey, especially if they're an unpaid intern, in which case whatever happens to them will be dismissed as "being paid in experience".

Often, it's clear that The Intern was a former Teen Genius, but is now learning that life is much tougher in the field.

Darker works will often have the employers treat the intern as a disposable Red Shirt; this is a subtrope, Disposable Intern.

See also New Meat, which is much the same trope but referring strictly to the military.

For the Robert De Niro movie, go here.


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    Fan Works 
  • In Cyberpunk: Another Daybreak, David gets his start with Hiden Intelligence when Isu offers him an internship with its cybersecurity division to help him get back on his feet following his mother's near-fatal car accident during a shootout on the highway. Rebecca, Kiwi, and Lucy initially use him as an errand boy to get cigarettes from the vending machine, but that ends after he's suddenly promoted to executive Corpo by becoming a Kamen Rider.

  • Dr. Kildare might be the trope codifier. James Kildare, idealistic and brilliant young doctor at Blair General Hospital, was the protagonist of a film series that ran for 15 installments, though he was written out after the ninth film due to actor Lew Ayres declaring himself a conscientious objector. His mentor, Dr. Gillespie, became the protagonist for the remaining films.

  • The Psychology Of Time Travel: Though she is technically not an intern, Odette is acutely aware of her junior position in the Conclave, the international time travel organization. She has not been conditioned to Conclave life and is upset by things that more senior time travellers take in stride. Despite some teasing for her sensitivity and normative morals, she proves to be clever and resourceful.
  • Uli Divini in the Medstar Duology, as a teen surgeon. When he reappears in Death Star he's twenty years older, more experienced, and much more cynical, having been hit by a stop-loss order and forced to serve continuously.

    Live Action TV 
  • Ryan Howard of The Office is this when he is introduced. He later becomes a Smug Snake.
  • John Carter (Noah Wyle) on ER. It led to a really cool Character Development of John Carter from The Intern to The Veteran Instructor, followed by him handing off his title to the next in line, much as Dr. Green had done to him, when he left the show. Of course, it took ten years...
  • Greg the Lab Rat on CSI.
  • Dr. Bashir in the first few seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • The entire premise, especially in the first season, of Scrubs which comes full circle as JD, Turk, and Elliot, who were the first batch of interns in season 1, become residents and then attendings, acquire their own interns, and eventually wind up as senior staff by season 8 and are now in the role of mentors.
  • In the first season of The Muppet Show, Scooter is cast as an inexperienced newbie whom Kermit was forced to hire as a gofer because his uncle owned the theater. Several early episodes feature Scooter coming to Kermit with ridiculous "fresh new ideas" for the show that Kermit puts into action against his will for fear of losing his lease. As the show went on, Scooter's antagonistic side was dropped and his uncle was barely ever mentioned.
  • Calum Buchanan in All Creatures Great And Small.
  • McGee was like this during his first season on NCIS, and Tony still taunts him for being this trope.
  • Meredith, Christina, Alex, Izzy and George were all Interns for the first three seasons of Grey's Anatomy.
  • Kenneth in 30 Rock. Unusual in that he's implied to actually be the oldest person there, and yet he still does menial tasks.
  • The main cast of the Russian sitcom The Interns.
  • Yuki in CASUAL+Y, and to a lesser extent, Lenny. A few seasons earlier, Toby fit the role pretty well.
  • Zach on Bones, at first. When his internship ends, the team keeps him on. After he leaves the show, he's replaced by a rotating roster of interns.
  • Bud Roberts (Patrick Labyorteaux) on JAG served as an assistant to Harm & Mac during seasons 2-4, before he graduated from law school and became a judge advocate (military lawyer) in his own right.
  • Emily Owens, M.D.: Emily, Will (Emily's friend from med school), Cassandra (Emily's high school Alpha Bitch nemesis) and Tyra (Emily's confidante). They are supervised by brilliant but strict Dr. Bindari (heart surgeon) and friendly young doctor Micah, and they also compete for a position of Bindari's assistant.
  • Dr. Robidaux on Monday Mornings. She's actually a resident, but she's the youngest and least experienced on the team. Obviously, she's a very capable and competent doctor.
  • House: Late in the series, there was an intern on House's team, Martha Masters. She must have been a genius of epic proportions to make it to the all stars team of all medical dramas at so young an age.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman:
    • Donnie, the Intern Who Likes To Suck Up (played by Andy Dick pre Newsradio)
    • Johnny Dark as CBS's oldest intern - he's in his mid-50s and just doesn't give a crap anymore.
    • Todd the Intern, who is still in the intern program, having started in 2009.
  • The "disposable redshirt" version is used in The Librarians "And the Horns of a Dilemma," in which the main cast investigate the mysterious disappearances of eight people who turn out to have been interns for the same company, Golden Ax Foods. Golden Ax has recreated the Minoan Labyrinth via magic, sacrificing interns to the Minotaur to ensure the prosperity of their company.
  • Parks and Recreation: April started off as a very snarky and aloof version of this, until she's hired as a full time and paid employee for the department, specifically as Ron's assistant.
  • Mike Morton was officially an intern for the first season or so of Emergency!, then became a resident. Interns appeared in one or two other episodes, including an especially cocky one who thinks he knows it all and looks down on the paramedics. Dr. Brackett assigns him to ride with Roy and Johnny for a day, and he's appropriately chastised by the end.

  • Sandy in Absolute Power (BBC), who has a better grasp of the real world than her employers, and wishes they'd do a better job in completing the work experience paperwork for her NVQ certificate. She later becomes a paid employee, but leaves the company in Season 3 and is replaced by Clive, who's just an idiot.

    Video Games 
  • Chika and the player character in the interactive romance novel Moonrise are in their first year medical internship. Her lowly status doesn't prevent Chika from talking back and shutting down her teachers or fellow interns if they're rude to her.
  • Tia from Potion Maker was sent to work in Pio's store by the kingdom's potion academy in the palace. Probably to teach her humility, though she suggests it's because she's too skilled to be a mere student.

    Web Original 
  • DEATH BATTLE! has one in Jocelyn, the team's underpaid intern and the host of The Desk of Death Battle, which was apparently given to her by Wiz and Boomstick as an alternative to actually paying her.
  • Welcome to Night Vale has several interns during the course of the show. All of them—with the exception of Dana and Maureen—are either killed or otherwise never heard from again, usually within a single episode.
    • When Maureen stops blinking in-and-out of reality she calls Cecil out on his treatment of the interns, and the corresponding mortality rate, then goes back to working for him. Though she quits after surviving a couple more near death experiences.
  • Acquisitions Incorporated starred three interns to the eponymous company: The Paladin Aoefel in seasons two through six, the Loveable Rogue Viari from season seven onward, and the Forest Ranger Morgane in season eight. Their job is usually to serve as the Straight Man for the utterly insane full-time employee trio.
  • Honey and - as of episode 5 - Smore are a non-abused version of this in Object Terror, usually helping out in assisting Printer and Computer during the challenges. However, the latter decided to do this for the sake of his antagonistic plot in the series.
  • Ty is this to Schlatt & Co. in SMPLive, being their young intern who gets paid "in exposure".

    Western Animation 
  • Major Monogram's assistant Carl, from Phineas and Ferb.
  • "Billy" from Total Drama, among several others, most of whom fall victim to the challenges in Seasons 1 and 3.
  • Thomas from Regular Show. It's later revealed that he's actually a Russian spy sent to learn the secrets of American parks, and applied for an internship due to the fact that nobody cares about the interns.