Follow TV Tropes


The Load / Live-Action Films

Go To

  • Jennifer Parker in the Back to the Future film series. Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale never had a character development in mind for her, stating that had they planned to make a sequel to the original film, they would not have put "the girl" in the car at the end. Sure enough, less than five minutes into Part II, she's sedated and pretty much spends the rest of the series that way. Her actresses (Claudia Wells in the first movie and Elizabeth Shue in the others) aren't even given top billing in the film credits, even though those who play even smaller roles are.
  • Advertisement:
  • Everything Connie does in Blastfighter is a hindrance to Sharp. After she is shot in the leg while running from the hicks, Sharp is reduced to literally carrying her.
  • Casino: Ginger, being the crazy drug addicted ex-hustler who runs out on Sam twice to give his money to her ex-pimp boyfriend Lester Diamond. She doesn't actually become the Millstone by giving Ace up to the FBI but she does put his stress through the roof throughout the latter half of the film with her histrionics.
  • In the movie Conan the Destroyer, the heroes have to spend most of their time babysitting a spoiled virgin princess who's the one key to finding a powerful artifact. She's pretty much useless in battle, gets kidnapped a lot, and the whole job winds up being a lot more trouble than it's worth. (At the end, once she was queen, she did take all those annoying sidekicks off of Conan's hands, so at least she was good for something...)
  • The Cube film series:
    • Kazan in Cube starts out this way. He's an autistic who is somehow able to survive in the Cube long enough to meet the other characters, especially given his knack for springing traps. Near the end it's discovered that he has a very useful skill, as he can perform the arithmatic required for navigating the cube extremely fast.
    • Played straight with Mrs. Paley from Cube 2: Hypercube, a senile old woman. She does provide one clue when it turns out that she used to work for the mysterious organization behind the hypercube, but otherwise she's just a burden who is completely oblivious and can't help anyone.
  • Stephen from the original Dawn of the Dead (1978). He appears all the more useless in contrast to Peter and Roger, the two badass SWAT operatives who constantly pull his ass out of the fire. Stephen does get a little better by the end of the film.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Fargo, the killers are a team of two guys working together. One guy is a cold-blooded psychopath who really knows his stuff, and the other guy is a talkative, sex-obsessed person with a really nasty temper. Pretty much every single lead the cops get comes from the second guy, and he really doesn't contribute anything useful to their plan. Then again, the first guy tends to do stupid, plan-wrecking things like killing a police officer right out in the open (though the second guy kind of made it necessary) and shooting their hostage and meal ticket because she was making too much noise. In an abandoned cabin miles from anyone who could possibly hear her. note  In Fargo, everyone (except for the savvy pregnant police chief) is either The Load or The Millstone.
  • Chris Tucker's character in The Fifth Element, Ruby Rhod, is basically designed from the ground up to be The Load. He's not universally incompetent (he's a galaxy-wide media star and can seduce women with pure muttered nonsense), he's completely useless to a movie plot full of alien terrorists. It's all played for laughs to counterpoint the highly capable Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), whom he spends most of the movie calling out for and freaking out.
  • In the movie of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Zaphod spends the latter half of the movie somewhere between this, The Millstone, and vaguely useful, because he's missing one of his heads. Ford actually has to drag him around in one or two scenes. Also, when they're getting shot at, he apparently thinks it's a dance party. Fortunately, Vogon soldiers make even the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy look good by comparison.
  • This was what Thorin initially thought of Bilbo in The Hobbit, even saying it to Bilbo's face. By the end of the movie, after Bilbo saves him from Azog's mook, Thorin then declares "I've never been so wrong in all my life!"
  • This is parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where Rowan Atkinson plays a hostage who can't walk — because his shoelaces are tied together. He insists that he be carried by Charlie Sheen (the hero), and berates him for jiggling too much — while being shot at! Atkinson's character goes firmly in The Scrappy territory, though, as he taunts the attackers (including shouting "You missed!" when they hit Topper, not him, in the arm), and insisting on getting a drink from a nearby drinking fountain.
  • Idiocracy: Dax Shepard's character, Frito, doesn't really have much use as a lawyer or anything in the plot but he's along for the adventure nonetheless. He ends up becoming a high-ranking government official but that's because he's no less stupid than anyone else and he's the closest thing that Joe has to a friend in the future.
  • Indiana Jones
    Willie: INDEEEEEEE!!
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has Indy's dad and Marcus. The former, who despite his knowledge of the Holy Grail and the way he manages to get one enemy plane to crash, almost always winds up getting into some life-threatening trouble that requires his son to devote all his energies into saving him, and if he and his son are in a dangerous situation, he somehow always finds a way to make it worse; while Indy is fighting Vogel atop the tank, Henry destroys a troop transport and the recoil propels Indy onto the side of the tank where the driver attempts to crush him. The latter goes from competent professor to bumbling goofball whose sole purpose in the film is to get captured and later rescued and really doesn't do anything else in the entire movie (possibly justifiable in that Marcus is "an academic, a bookworm... not a field man" much like Indy's dad struggling as a fish out of water).
  • James Bond
    • Honey Rider in Dr. No. Oddly enough, she isn't widely hated among James Bond fans, partly because she was the first main Bond Girl, but she really is the single most superfluous Bond girl in the entire film series—yet is consistently ranked as the best, a position clearly earned solely because she's the first and still very attractive. The film makers were usually pretty good in making the Bond girls in the series of at least some nominal importance to the plot of each film (even if, in the case of Mary Goodnight, their only importance is as The Millstone), but Honey is of no importance whatsoever. She shows up late in the film, tags along, and does nothing of any consequence. The film takes the time to give her the same backstory from the novel (Dr. No killed her father, she received all her education by reading the whole encyclopedia, she murdered her rapist, etc.) but again, none of that has any impact on the rest of the film. She exists solely to be the Distressed Damsel (and even that comes across as an afterthought) and for Fanservice. The latter, Ursula Andress does very, very well, which is the third reason she isn't widely hated.
      • Interestingly, the novel has Honey as much less of a Load-she escapes from Dr. No's planned Death Trap without Bond's help, gives Bond helpful tips so he doesn't kill himself by accident on Crab Key (for example, drinking the island water could give you fever) and acts as a truly fantastic spotter as Bond drives the Dragon tank to safety.
    • Bibi Dahl from For Your Eyes Only also qualifies. She's the only Bond Girl who offers herself to Bond, and he refuses it (since sometimes even 007 thinks "that's just wrong").
    • So does Christmas Jones from The World Is Not Enough. Aside from the fact that in her first scenes, she nearly gets Bond killed and ends up inadvertently helping the villain (to be fair, she had no idea Bond was the good guy and was following protocol by reporting him), it's painfully obvious she's there just for Bond to have another Bond girl. Though she does tries to help in the later action scenes, and as a nuclear scientist, gives 007 some info.
      • Bond Girls, especially in the earlier films, were prone to falling into this trap, but some are worse than others.
    • Stacey Sutton from A View to a Kill, and how! She is constantly getting into danger due to her own stupidity (at one point failing to notice Christopher Walken on a GIANT ZEPPELIN coming up behind her), and Bond always ends up rescuing her. She did intentionally distract Zorin on the Zeppelin, though, and takes Scarpine right out of nowhere.
  • Fergie's influence on the story of Judge Dredd reads like some kind of liability bingo card. He constantly gets in Dredd's way, holds him up in almost every chase sequence, trips in the middle of an access shaft of doom about to burst into flame, blows Dredd's cover when in disguise, and generally can't shut up to save his life. His one useful act in the entire movie was to disable a giant robot, which may not have even been necessary if Dredd's shotgun had anything to say about it.
  • Both children, Lex and Tim, in the film adaptation of Jurassic Park fit into this trope. Throughout the movie The Hero Alan Grant continuously has to save them from danger. Lex agitates a T-Rex by flashing a flashlight in its eye, and then proceeds to accidentally choke Grant when he's carrying on his back while trying to save her from the dinosaur. Tim has to be guided out of a tree he landed in, and later gets electrocuted on an electric fence after failing to climb it down in time, after having nearly a minute to do so. The most noticeable moment is when Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are trying to keep a velociraptor out of the control room by pushing against the door and the gun is out of the reach of both of them. Ellie tries to reach it with her leg while Lex attempts to get the door locks back on using the computer. And Tim? He's jumping up and down behind Lex, punching the back of the chair and telling her "hurry, hurry hurry!" Each of them does get to have a shining moment of competency though, with Tim locking a velociraptor in a freezer and Lex using her 'hacking skills' to bring power back to the park.
  • King Kong:
    • There's one sailor (named Tim in the script) who keeps lagging behind the search party. Although he does make himself useful when he saves one of his shipmates from drowning, he promptly goes right back to being The Load again when the group is fleeing from a dinosaur, constantly tripping and falling further and further behind the running group.
    • After Tim dies, Jimmy, the guy he saved in the water, takes his place as The Load; he keeps falling down and the others have to keep helping him up. It's frankly a miracle he lasts long enough to be the final sailor killed.
  • How would you translate "The Load" in French? French movie Le Boulet (pictured on the main page) gives you a hint. (It more specifically translates to "the ball-and-chain", that is the one inmates were dragging on their feet; you get the idea.)
  • Although Merry Brandybuck and Peregrin "Pippin" Took redeem themselves in the second and third The Lord of the Rings movies, they spend almost all of the first movie acting as a double load. Bill the Pony was of much more use.
    • Although they already know of the dangers of the Ringwraiths, they think nothing of building a visible-for-miles-n-miles-cooking fire on an elevated watchtower on Weathertop. It ends badly. Oddly enough this is opposite in the book, where Aragorn tells them to build a fire because the wraiths fear it.
    • Pippin later knocks a skeleton of armor down a well in Moria, alerting every enemy to their presence. Even the normally unflappable Gandalf laments his being in the Fellowship at this. This of course is the same Gandalf who said that even Gollum might have some purpose to serve. Perhaps to redeem the character somewhat, in the movie it's an accident, while in the book he purposely drops a rock down a well because he wants to hear how long it will be before there's a splash.
      Gandalf: Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!
    • Pippin is by far the worst offender, and even Merry comments on this. The final straw is what shocks Pippin enough to stop being The Load. Unfortunately it takes the great flaming eye of Sauron himself, piercing right into Pippin's soul to terrify him out of his willful idiocy and into a burning need to become useful in some way at all. Although it does not excuse him from being The Load, it is realistic in Pippin's case. In the book series he is still the Hobbit equivalent of a teenager when he volunteers for the quest. While Elrond didn't really want Merry OR Pippin going on the journey, he especially named Pippin as being a bad idea.
    • Frodo himself is basically a load, moreso later in the series as the ring starts to take hold in his mind. Though it is proof that this trope can be used well on occasion and is obviously justified by his decision to bear the Artifact of Doom. In the end Sam literally has to carry him up the mountain. Peter Jackson even has him solve the riddle of Dwarrowdelf instead of Gandalf just to give him something to contribute in the film.
    • Though Merry and Pippin actually get more to do in The Two Towers film than in the book, where they actually comment that they feel like luggage being carried around by the important people.
  • In The Mole People, a group of archaeologists accidentally discover an underground civilization; one of the team is an elderly Frenchman who spends most of his screen time being scared, nervous, or out of breath and often has to be dragged to safety by his two teammates. Then he gets killed, and even in death he gets the others in trouble as his corpse destroys their God Guise ruse. The film was screened on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the guys constantly refer to him as The Load in a variety of creative ways.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Filemón is treated as such in the first movie. He gets called this way twice, one by the Súper and another one by Mortadelo.
  • In the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Everett is a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who nevertheless is able to scheme his way out of sticky situations, while Pete is much less educated and eloquent but possesses a lot of common sense. Delmar, however, while optimistic and good-natured, is a complete idiot. Unfortunately Delmar is chained between, Everett and Pete (at least for the first part of the film) so they have to drag him wherever they go.
  • Predators: amongst the group of soldiers and criminals that make up the protagonists is Edwin, a seemingly normal dude who works as a doctor and has obviously never seen combat, forcing the others to protect him. Royce speculates that Edwin was deliberately thrown in as a Load, to serve as a destabilizing element. The real reason is because he’s Obfuscating Stupidity. He’s actually a Serial Killer, but doesn’t want the others figuring it out yet. He later unwillingly becomes a more literal Load when he inadvertently steps in a bear trap. He thinks he’s lucky when it misses his femoral artery, but a horrified Royce realizes the truth; the trap was meant to maim, the intention being that the others would try to save Edwin and promptly slow themselves down due to his injury.
  • In the satirical The Princess Bride, Buttercup ends up being a load. This is perhaps most exemplified by Wesley's battle with the ROUS, during which she does absolutely nothing to help up to and including helping our hero get his sword. It could, in fact, be argued that Princess Buttercup is the most prominent reason the heroes get into so much trouble in the story.
  • In Pulp Fiction, two of the acts' conflicts are started due to Vincent's idiocy and carelessness and just about everything he accomplishes is either superfluous (it's pretty clear Jules didn't need his help) or him trying to solve a problem he's at least partially responsible for (cleaning up Marvin's face and stopping Mia from dying from snorting the heroin in his jacket). A good chunk of the film's conflicts could have probably been avoided had Vincent just stayed in Amsterdam.
  • Tony Fields, the titular Puma Man, is this. He spends most of the movie whining and complaining, leaving his Hypercompetent Sidekick Vadinho to do all of the heavy lifting. Granted, Tony DID do some good stuff in the end, but, as Crow pointed out when the episode was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the sidekick was the hero here.
  • Prince Tarn from the film adaptation of Red Sonja, who follows the heroes around, getting into trouble and then screaming for help. He could usually hold his own in a fight, though. (This is Ernie Reyes, Jr. we're talking about.) He's more of a Reckless Sidekick and an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy than a load. You could also lump Prince Tarn into the Royal Brat and Live-Action Escort Mission tropes, with poor Falkon as his long-suffering, largely powerless guardian.
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife: Bennett is a movie producer, and is too arrogant to understand that this means jack in a Zombie Apocalypse, so before he joins the Big Bad, he spends all his time bossing the others around instead of helping. Kim tries to help clear the roof so the plane can land, but he is too weak to move anything. Later, during the battle against the zombies on the roof, everyone grabs guns out of Alice's bag and fires, except for Kim, who cowers.
  • Worm, the stupidly smart-mouthed gambling addict in Rounders. His dedication to screwing up every plan, including those meant to keep him from getting killed by The Mafiya, really is impressive.
  • David in Shaun of the Dead, who spends the entire film complaining about the idiocy of Shaun's plan (and while he has a point, he doesn't do anything to make it better), getting on everyone's nerves, bringing the tension between all the group members to a boiling point, and making stupid decisions such as smashing the window to the Winchester even though Shaun had made clear that there was an alternate entrance and deciding to try to shoot Barbara the moment he finds out that she is a Zombie Infectee but not dead yet, which leads to Shaun grabbing a broken bottle and threatening to kill him in a Mexican Standoff because it's his mother David is trying to shoot — and when Shaun has to shoot Barbara himself when she finally turns, David just says "good thing that was done, then", prompting Shaun to punch him.He doesn't even contribute to fighting the zombies in any meaningful way, when even Diane at least puts her acting skills to work and throws people weapons and Ed actually does kill a few himself (and Barbara is an old woman not much for fighting). Just as it looks like he might make a turnaround, however, he is grabbed and ripped to shreds by the zombies.
  • The kid from Six String Samurai. Oh how we hate the kid. All of Buddy's injuries are either a direct or indirect result of the kid being stupid in some way or another.
  • Interestingly, both Sarah and John Connor assume this role in the The Terminator and its sequel, the former initially being a relatively airheaded fast food waitress and the latter being a delinquent kid with two seconds of usefulness cracking a safe that the Terminator could have easily ripped open with one hand. Of course they both Took a Level in Badass in time for their next film appearances, mostly because of the ordeals they went through.
    • It doesn't help that whenever the James Cameron writes himself into a corner by having the protagonists successfully escape the Terminator, the go-to move is to have Sarah make a phone call that tells the Terminator where she is. The first call to her roommate where she leaves a voicemail is somewhat believable, but the second one where she randomly calls her mother comes off as a bit of an Ass Pull. The Terminator didn't even know anything about Sarah except for her name, how was it going to track down and impersonate her mother in one day?
  • Transformers Film Series
    • Attempted aversion with Sam Witwicky in Transformers with the location of the Allspark is imprinted his glasses.
    • Played straight in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, where he acts very much as The Load to the rest of the Transformers. His only purpose is to have a head (and later, a sock) full of the Macguffin and to get it where it needs to go, and since that job requires him to run across a battlefield full of giant robots....
    • Sam still fairs better than Leo, who has nearly zero relevance to the plot after his introduction and is virtually just a dead weight along for the ride for the rest of the film.
  • Tremors:
    • Earl describes all of Valentine's previous girlfriends in this fashion. "Dead weight!"
    • Also applies to the obnoxious Melvin, who spends the first half of the movie crying wolf, the other half panicking and not following directions. Gloriously, the other characters half-seriously consider just throwing him to the worms. He graduates to The Millstone in the TV series.
  • Jordan in Under Siege. She's helpless, clingy, and averse to weapons. On a ship hijacked by terrorists. She does manage to harvest a clue or two along the way... and save Ryback's life by gunning down one of the lead henchmen.
  • Kelly Roarke in Volcano. At the absolute best she is utterly useless, and far more often an active hindrance to everyone else (at one point, getting two fire-fighters killed due to her inability to do anything other than just stand there). Several times she puts not only herself but several others in danger in her attempts to rescue an equally stupid (but perhaps more understandably so, considering his age) kid from the danger, but in the greatest of film ironies, the little kid half her age that she's supposedly babysitting is actually less in need of a babysitter than she is!
  • More Spielberg kid-stupidity is evident in Rachel and Robbie Ferrier in War of the Worlds. The two kids make a grand total of zero good decisions during the course of the film.
    • Rachel wants to run about a quarter mile away from her dad for some privacy for a pee-pee in a hostile alien environment, though this actually doesn't put her in danger. She also runs out of a relatively sheltered house to escape the alien ship's probe — and runs out into the open — making it even easier for the ship to snatch her. She also is a more literal example of this in that she has an inexplicable need to be carried around a lot.
    • Robbie slowly and calmly drives the car into a car-stealing mob... which you shouldn't do a mere one scene after being warned not to do that. Robbie wants to stay with the army and fight the ships, even though he's unarmed, has no combat experience or training, and the alien ships are melting army tanks. Basically, both he and Rachel are Too Dumb to Live.
  • The Wild Geese: President Julius Limbani. This movie is about a bunch of mercenaries who are hired to rescue an imprisoned politician from a fictitious African country. He's elderly and not in great shape and one of the characters has to literally carry him on his back. Limbani is nothing but dead weight and is only useful to them if they can get him back alive. In a deliberate bit of irony, the man who is carrying him is a white South African who is (initially at least) pro-Apartheid and he actually says that white people have been carrying black people on their backs for years.
  • Wild Wild West: Rita Escobar. She forces herself on the search, is pretty much nothing more than a distraction to them on purpose, she activates a sleeping gas billiard ball when West clearly announces himself and still believes its a trap, gets herself, West and Gordon captured by Loveless.
  • Thadeous in Your Highness. Despite being the main character, he never really does anything of any importance (except find the sword needed to kill the villain) and manages to get in more trouble than stopping it.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: