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Playing With / The Millstone

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Basic Trope: A character that not only doesn't contribute anything useful to the team, but is also an active liability.

  • Straight: Alice is ostensibly part of the Five-Man Band, but always ends up getting the main characters in trouble by bungling things with the Monster of the Week or Big Bad.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Alice always ends up unwittingly leading the team into direct conflict with the villain(s).
    • Alice's extreme incompetence does more damage than the actual villains.
  • Downplayed:
    • Alice is a Damsel Errant or Manic Pixie Dream Girl
    • Alice doesn't actively screw up her teammates' plans, but since she's too weak to defend herself against most enemies, she's been kidnapped a few times. Although she makes some useful contributions, it's never anything that couldn't have been done better by someone else.
  • Justified:
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  • Inverted: Alice is the smartest and strongest character on the team, and always ends up taking care of and rescuing all the others.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • But then, she brings the enemies to the team anyway.
    • Except she doesn't have the talent to escape, can't resist the torture, and sells the team out.
  • Parodied: Alice wears a sign that says "DESIGNATED FAILURE" on it.
  • Zig Zagged: Sometimes Alice hinders the team, sometimes she helps, sometimes she doesn't do anything.
  • Averted:
    • Alice is not part of the team.
    • Alice never needs rescuing.
    • Alice is part of the team, helping with things that don't cause problems.
  • Enforced:
  • Lampshaded: "The mission isn't just hard because we have Alice to worry about, everything Alice does seems to make things worse."
  • Invoked:
    • Alice lets her Naïve Everygirl tendencies or some other weakness get the better of her.
    • Da Chief assigns Alice to The Squad, knowing that she'll screw things up...which is exactly what he wants.
  • Exploited:
    • The Big Bad uses Alice's weakness against her.
    • Emperor Evulz gets the chance to kill Alice every week. He always refuses, because she hurts the heroes far more than he ever does.
  • Defied:
    • Alice goes through Training from Hell, or at least Took a Level in Badass, and takes cues from the other characters (verbal and nonverbal) instead of just Leeroy Jenkinsing.
    • Alice realizes she's detrimental to the Five-Man Band, and leaves of her own accord.
    • Alice is killed pretty soon in the plot, before she can either be a hindrance or it can be seen if she would be a hindrance.
    • The other members of the Five-Man Band kick out Alice.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: A frustrated viewer asks why they still bring Alice along when all she ever does is making things worse.
  • Deconstructed: Obviously, teamwork breaks down if the Five-Man Band (or the Elite Four, for that matter) always has to pull one of its members out of the mess they've just swan-dived headfirst into.
  • Reconstructed:
  • Played For Laughs: In the series' Clip Show, after a montage of Epic Fail moments triggered by Alice's incompetence, the other members of the team ask Da Chief "mind explaining to us again why we have her around, anyway?"
  • Played For Drama: The mission goes pear-shaped and everybody in the team is nearly killed because Alice is worthless as a member. In the aftermath we get a good view of how much they are fed up when the team spends a hefty amount of time debating whether or not to kill Alice as punishment for her uselessness, without a single iota of sarcasm.
  • Played For Horror: Alice's uselessness leads to many members of the team to die horrible, preventable deaths, and the survivors to express the hatred this has created by lynching her.

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