He's a minor character, sometimes not even receiving a name. But he always shows up in the thick of things. Whether a bank robbery or a terrorist attack, expect this poor guy to be caught in the middle. He may be the Hero of Another Story or eventually become an Ascended Extra, but for right now, he's just that guy that seems to have horrible luck. Other characters may note his repeated appearance at the wrong place at the wrong time. A Running Gag may be associated with him.
Subtrope of Recurring Extra. Compare to Butt-Monkey, for someone who is a more regular part of the cast. A non-recurring version of this character is the Innocent Bystander. Heroes should be careful to be nice to this guy. Someday, the dog may bite back.
- Digimon Universe Appmonsters: "Caught-Up Old Man" is a middle-aged guy sporting a Funny Afro who shows up every episode for just a few seconds. His designation (provided by the credits) is appropriate, given his only purpose is to get badly caught up in the trouble caused by the Monster of the Week, to which he always reacts with a Big "NO!".
- Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Prior to becoming an Ascended Extra, most of Maki's appearances were her looking miserable in the background whenever Kashiwagi and her boyfriend were having an intimate moment.
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise has a woman named Kelly (Junko). She appears Once an Episode only to either suffer a misfortune or be relentlessly pursued by Side Burn while she's driving her red car.
- Superboy (1994): The Cadmus guard Lodge really likes leather jackets. Unfortunately for him so do a number of escaping Cadmus clones and he's had his jacket stolen out of his locker several times.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney) features a man in Stock Punishment who gets free only to land in a metal cage. When he gets free of that...he trips and falls into Mon Sewer.
- Lilo & Stitch: The fat guy. Every time he runs into Lilo, he loses his ice cream. Once it was even knocked out of his hands by a spaceship.
- Cheaper by the Dozen 2: The poor old man in the wheelchair. Every time he is on screen, he somehow gets pushed into the water. You think he would put on his parking brake, or have someone park him in a less precarious spot.
- A guy who watches James Bond drive his car/submarine Lotus Esprit out of the ocean in The Spy Who Loved Me returns in Moonraker (watching Bond drive a gondola across the Piazza San Marco in Venice) and For Your Eyes Only (watching a skiing Bond being chased by motorcycles). All three times, he looks at what he's been drinking.
- National Lampoon's European Vacation had a random English tourist (played by Eric Idle), who was always on the receiving end of any kind of accident inflicted upon him by the Griswolds. In fact, he even appears again in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure, during the airport scene.
- Speed: "Black guy with a sports car", whose car gets Flashed Badge Hijacked and wrecked by Jack shows up again in Speed 2: Cruise Control, where his boat gets hijacked, this time by Alex.
- Agent Pendergast: Larry Enderby, a small character who works as a technician at the museum, ends up in the middle of things in several books. In Book of the Dead, Captain Hayward recognizes him from the previous book and notes that Larry seems to have really bad luck.
- Harry Potter: Auror Dawlish, who is praised as being a great Auror and yet always seems to be knocked out whenever he appears.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Agrajag is an unfortunate soul that happens to reincarnate into incidental creatures that Arthur Dent accidentally kills (a pot of flowers, a fly, etc.). Agrajag eventually becomes aware of his past lives and becomes more and more spiteful toward Arthur until his dislike actually materializes into the "Cathedral of Hate", to which he eventually abducts Arthur with the intention of killing him. After Agrajag rants about all the different ways Arthur Dent has inadvertently killed him, however, Arthur Dent points out that one of the events Agrajag mentioned hadn't happened yet (indeed, it wouldn't happen to him for another two books), making him realize he's attempted his revenge too soon and killing Arthur Dent would cause a time paradox. This doesn't stop him from trying, of course - nor from accidentally getting killed yet again.
- In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a lab tech seems to catch all the bad cases, especially those that involve havoc in the labs. This culminates in his murder by another tech.
- This was Danny Strong's role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for three years. At first his character didn't even have a name. The writers just kept bringing him back to be victim of the week.
- On Night Court, Bob and June Wheeler just have misfortune following them everywhere.
Dan: Got a surprise for you, sir. Some old friends making a return visit.Harry: Do I get a hint?Mac: Well, let's see. The squad car that brought them in was struck by a bolt of lightning...?Harry: You mean...Bob Wheeler: Hello. It's us.
- Stargate SG-1: Sgt. Syler occasionally shows up in later seasons to be comically injured or in need of rescue. In a bit of a Casting Gag, the character is played by Richard Dean Anderson's stunt double, which is why he gets injured so often.
- In 8-Bit Theater there's the "Onion Kid", who is shown early in the series and then gets later cameos, all of which show him witnessing something horrific or undergoing some terrible misfortune that is the direct resort of the so-called heroes' bumbling. For instance he was orphaned and witnessed the brutal murder. Twice. Later subverted when we find out the Onion Kid is actually Sarda as a child, and the entire plot was his way of screwing with the Light Warriors for ruining his life.
- Archer: Brett, the unfortunate Isis employee that has been shot eight times over the course of the series, mostly by ricocheting friendly fire. He's also been beaten half to death three or four times. This is frequently lampshaded and all of the characters (except for Brett, who is an extra) either don't care or find it hilarious. The gag finally ends when poor Brett catches one to the head in the season 5 premiere:
Archer: "He died doing what he loved: Getting shot."
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The 'Cabbage Merchant" who shows up several times in the series. Basically all of his appearances involve him minding his own business before seeing his produce destroyed and yelling, "Not my cabbages!" (or just "My cabbages!") in anguish. In The Legend of Korra his descendant gets in on the action when evidence is planted at one of his factories, causing him to scream "Not my Cabbage Corp!"
- Ben 10: Omniverse has Pakmar, an alien who owns a series of businesses that Ben keeps on accidentally destroying.
- Bonkers: Jitters. While he was a secondary character in the Raw Toonage shorts, he was Demoted to Extra on the series proper, appearing only to be caught in the crossfire between Bonkers and the Villain of the Week.
- The Dating Guy: The man in the green jacket who is always the victim of gruesome violence.
- Futurama: The Australian man who always gets stuck doing backbreaking menial labor.
- Gargoyles has a few characters like this throughout its run. The blond woman, Margot, and her husband are often rescued from bad guys by the gargoyles. Another man, who got named Vinnie, ran afoul of various attacks from the gargoyles. He got his revenge in the end, though. With a cream pie bazooka.
- The Simpsons: Hans Moleman is an elderly man whose main purpose is to suffer many horrific accidents and other forms of bad luck.
- Spongebob Squarepants: Nearly every time there is a disaster of some sort, the same fishnote can be heard shouting "My leg!"
- A balding man with glasses is often a victim of gangsters and criminals and thus saved by the heroes in Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited.
- What If?: A man in a pineapple shirt is witness/present at catastrophes across multiple universes. His bad luck spans the multiverse.