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World-Weary Waitress

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"Bless you for coming out in public."

The World-Weary Waitress, an Always Female Trope, focuses on a woman working as a waitress or maître d' in a restaurant setting. She will usually be older, surly, and a bit temperamental. She has Seen It All and isn't afraid to call 'em like she sees 'em. She's working a dead-end job and she knows it.

However, she can often be a Stealth Mentor to younger characters, particularly youthful female protagonists, urging them to pursue their Love Interests.

She'll usually be a Deadpan Snarker, but she's also very likely to have a Hidden Heart of Gold. She may have a gruff exterior, but inside she's a bit of a softy, and possibly still a hopeless romantic, at least where other characters are concerned.

She's also not above talking back to customers, particularly those who are abusive and demeaning to the younger members of the staff. She'll also likely have long-time customers who are always happy to see her, and with whom witty repartee is exchanged, as well as many an Insult of Endearment that they're all too ready to exchange.

She may be Vitriolic Best Buds with the manager and/or owner. But she's just as likely to be their arch-nemesis, particularly to a Pointy-Haired Boss. In some settings, she'll be fluent in Hash House Lingo.

About the only person in the restaurant/diner/bar that she might view as an equal is the cook, who may be a Supreme Chef, Angry Chef, or both rolled into one, but who typically has the same level of seniority as herself.

That isn't to say that she doesn't like or care for the Naïve Newcomer. Indeed, she might see a bubbly young waitress just getting started as a reminder of herself when she was young, and give sage advice and offer protection from really nasty customers and the worst members of management.

Compare and contrast Burger Fool. For other tropes about professions with negative attitudes, see Angry Chef, Cranky Landlord, and Stern Teacher. A Subtrope of Service Sector Stereotypes.

The Trope Namer is from the Evil Overlord List, which specifically advises Genre Savvy villains to staff the bars and restaurants in their realm with these sorts of waitresses, instead of "busty, naive tavern wenches."


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    Anime & Manga 
  • After the Rain (2014): Kubo is a diminutive waitress with huge lips and a penchant for snarking at their manager, Kondo, such as pointing out on one occasion when he forgot to zip his fly, or lambasting him for always apologizing to customers.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove: The Mudka's Meat Hut has a World Weary Waitress that seems permanently bored, sighs as she repeats the welcoming routine to newcomers, and doesn't bat an eye to the strange "woman" (Kuzco in disguise) that is with Pacha. When he unnecessarily tells her that they are on honeymoon, she just says "Bless you for coming out in public".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The cafe owner Suzanne in Amélie. After thirty years behind a bar, she has seen it all, is an expert on love at first sight, and can even give you the recipe: take two regulars, tell each of them the other fancies them, leave them to stew: it works every time.
  • In a well-known scene from Five Easy Pieces, Bobby Dupea runs afoul of a World-Weary Waitress while attempting to order an omelette with a side of toast. The waitress, who clearly has no patience for him, plays Obstructive Bureaucrat by insisting on sticking to the menu's rule of "No Substitutions" exactly and won't give him the toast, so Bobby tries to exploit Loophole Abuse by ordering a chicken salad sandwich without the chicken. Eventually the waitress gets sick of his games and kicks him out of the diner.
  • Hell or High Water: The waitress's interaction with the two Texas Rangers investigating local robberies who stop at her diner makes it clear she's seen it all and is in no mood for any bullshit.
    Waitress: What don't you want?
    Marcus: Pardon?
    Waitress: I've been working here forty-four years. Ain't nobody ever ordered nothing but T-bone steak and a baked potato. Except this one asshole from New York tried to order trout back in 1987. We don't serve no goddamn trout. So either you don't want corn-on-the-cob, or you don't want green beans. So what don't you want?
    Marcus: [after the waitress has taken their order] Well, tell you one thing. No one's gonna rob this son-of-a-bitch.
  • Tommy Boy: Tommy and Richard run into a sarcastic, surly waitress; Tommy's ability to break through her gruff exterior and find her Hidden Heart of Gold serves as evidence of his latent sales skills.

  • Stuck On Earth: Tom's mother Ruth is a surly and cynical woman who has worked hard to support her husband and two children for years on a meager salary.
    Ruth: Tom, listen to me. If I've learned anything from slaving away for fifteen years in a greasy diner and raising two kids on next to nothing, it's that you can't run away and hide. You can't pretend some wonderful bolt from the blue is suddenly going to strike that will turn everything around. That's a fool's escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alice (1976), as well as the Spin-Off, Flo feature Florence "Flo" Castleberry, who was forever snarking with owner and cook Mel of Mel's Diner, to the point where her Character Catchphrase, "Kiss my grits!" became a Memetic Mutation in the 1970s.
  • Cheers: Carla could almost be considered the Trope Codifier. Rude, surly, snarky, but still beloved by all the staff and regular patrons at the titular bar. The fact that she's a single mother who starts the show with four kids and ends with eight, and that her husband frequently cheated on her before running out on her probably didn't help her personality much.
    Carla: When I'm in charge of the bar, I know what God feels like.
    Norm: How's that?
    Carla: It's like I'm in complete control of people's destinies. Yeah, I can make their drinks too strong, so they get sick. Or I can water them down, so they're payin' for nothin'. Or if I don't like their attitude, I can spit in it.
  • Last Man Standing: Kristen is a younger version of the World-Weary Waitress. Being a single mother (initially) with a dead-end job, having sacrificed her chance at a higher education, she's already burnt out and frequently snarks at customers and staff alike. It becomes even more apparent when her younger sister Mandy gets a job at the diner and starts immediately pulling in more tips due to her attractive looks, bubbly personality, and positive demeanor, despite frequently getting orders wrong.
  • Roseanne: The titular character, who's already a surly, sarcastic, and world-weary mother of three, becomes one twice over the course of the series. She first takes a job at Rodbell's, a diner located inside the local shopping mall, where she is frequently flippant and rude, even (and perhaps especially) to her boss. Later, Roseanne and her extended family go into business by opening a diner of their own; her owning a portion of the business encourages her to be even ruder because she can't be fired.
  • Stargate SG-1: Oma Desala is one of these in Threads. Sort of. Ascended planes are complicated.
  • In the Will & Grace episode "Someone Old, Someplace New," Jack and Rosario set out to film a documentary about Karen as a birthday present. They find a lead about a woman named Lois Whitley living in Yonkers and drive out to find her, stopping at a pub with a World-Weary Waitress who has absolutely no patience for anyone or anything. It's not a surprise when she turns out to be Lois, but it is a shock when she reveals that she's actually Karen's mother.
    Lois: Listen, Maria. I've been on this shift since—what time is it now...oh, 1947. My back aches, my feet hurt, and the only thing holding up my boobs is hope.

  • The music video for "Meet Virginia" by Train is set in a diner, with the titular character applying for a job as a server. She does so by bringing the "Help Wanted" sign to a World-Weary Waitress, who doesn't even need to speak to convey her mood (her glare and sigh do that for her).

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • The Evil Overlord List recommends exclusively hiring surly, cynical world-weary waitresses instead of "naive, busty tavern wenches" to reduce the chance of the hero getting any help from them.

    Western Animation 
  • Daria: "Road Trip" sees a One-Scene Wonder of a World-Weary Waitress who takes one look at the members of the Fashion Club as they enter the diner and then calls out their order for them before they've even said a word to her. She also suggested Daria would have a promising career as a waitress after listening to some of her snark.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter's family encounter Midge, a snarky, raspy-voiced waitress at the truck stop in "Ham Hocks and Armlocks". She bluntly informs them they only have three items on the dinner menu: hamburgers, ham sandwiches, and ham hocks. She then informs Dad that they're out of hamburgers, and they do not want to try the ham sandwiches before ordering the family ham hocks.
  • Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright: Shaggy and Scooby go to a pizzeria in Chicago, where they encounter a World-Weary Waitress. They state they want to take part in an eating challenge. The waitress tells them she'll have to move them to another table. When they ask why, she delivers the reply with a flat, uninterested tone, saying, "Because your pizza is bigger than this table." She does actually show a moment of incredulity when Shaggy and Scooby actually finish off the massive pizza.
  • The Simpsons: In "Fland Canyon", Marge thinks she's a bad mother because Bart doesn't thank a waitress for bringing him a sensible meal when Marge wouldn't let him buy what he actually wanted at the restaurant. The weary waitress chimes in.
    Bart: You want me to lie and say I'm thankful for chicken and veg when I wanted whiskey-battered bourbon bangers?
    Marge: Just say thank you.
    Waitress: My boy never said thank you. Now he's on death row.
    (The lights flicker overhead)
    Waitress: Was on death row.