TV characters who are incompetent at their jobs

I think he may have done it very few times. Considering he kept the occult books in general circulation it’s probably better that way.

Much better Watcher than librarian.

Dr. Thaddeus Venture.

But of course, many of the characters in The Venture Bros are incompetent.

Herb Tarlek
Les Nessman
Arthur Carlson

Can you tell who has been watching WGN tonight?

SSG Schwartz

Chief Wiggum is pretty incompetent as far as police chiefs go. And Mayor Quimby is pretty corrupt as far as politicians go.

Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane from Dukes of Hazard. Although, an argument can be made that he was more corrupt than incompetent.

Wile E. Coyote, and the guys behind ACME, as well.

Gilligan was a fairly incompetent First Mate and a generally incompetent human being.
Kermit the Frog was a great emcee, but was only marginal as a stage manager. Fozzie Bear was an incompetent stand-up comedian.
Steve Urkel was a largely incompetent boy genius.
Professor Frink and Professor Farnsworth are both incompetent mad scientists.

In The Wire, several of the homicide detectives are assumed to be incompetent, e.g. Santangelo. Herc never gets it together either, for the most part, and of course Ziggy’s raison d’être is to be a fuck up at everything he does. There are also a ton of characters whose corruption gets in the way of their duties, but I don’t think that’s the same thing.

I assume you mean Home Improvement, and not the show-within-a-show that was “Tool Time.” Anyway, I don’t think Tim Taylor belongs. Remember, he wasn’t a repairman, he was a TV host and a corporate shill. Apparently he did those jobs pretty well.

In Giles’ defense, it’s a part of the show’s mythology that almost all of the students at Sunnydale High don’t even know where the library is located and never visit. That’s why he and the gang are able to research vampires and other undesirables openly during the day without the risk of being disturbed.

Jan on The Office.

Joey Tribbiani was not that good an actor.

Frank Burns varied from episode to episode, depending on who was writing or directing.

I prefer to think of him as an adequate surgeon. Not as good as Hawkeye, but adequate. Now, when you are performing emergency surgery on battle wounds for 20 hours at a time, even the best surgeons make mistakes. But whereas Hawkeye eat himself up over mistakes that he made, Frank always tried to blame other people. That’s the real difference between them. He was, however, utterly awful as a military officer.

Henry Blake was a great surgeon, but a poor military officer.

I disagree with Norm’s inclusion on the list. His problem wasn’t that he was incompetent. In fact, there are several episodes that demonstrate Norm has quite a good head for numbers and even for investment. He’s also quite good at…massaging tax laws. No, Norm Peterson’s problem was simply alcoholism. Raging, insatiable alcoholism.

Cliff Clavin.


Not entirely his fault, I’ll readily grant. But I think he had his shortcomings in other areas to boot.

Even though Norm drank alot was he an alcoholic? He just seemed extremely lazy to me. He was also an excellent painter and decorator as well. I think there’s a difference between incompetence and not giving a damn or not trying.

Det. Bayliss from Homicide, Life on the Street. Fucked up his first case so badly it was too tainted for anyone else to work. While he apparently had fans from the Baltimore Police Dept’s website, he was always more apt to blow a case than solve it.

Alex Eames from L&O: Criminal Intent. Has any case ever been solved by her heavy lifting? She’s technically the primary on all of Goren’s cases, which must really burn his ass, and you KNOW she’s the one who put that dead rat in his desk drawer!

Fox Mulder (X-Files). His closure rate is well below 50%.

Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks). Have we EVER seen him solve a case?

Dr. Greg House (House MD) makes 4 or 5 incorrect diagnoses for every good one. I’ve lost count of the ribcages needlessly cracked open on his watch. And Cuddy for enabling him…!

Lou Grant, for never firing Ted Baxter. Ted is exempt by the OP definition, but Lou has no such excuse!

Clark Kent, reporter. The big story in Metropolis–the ONLY big story in Metropolis–is Superman, but has Kent ever interviewed him, even once? Something fishy going on there! At least he types fast.

I like to pick random reasons to hate poeple. It’s the Rhymer way.

I don’t know about currently, but in the Byrne revamp it was explicit that Kent’s first big story was the firfst Superman interview. That’s one of my pet peeves, anyway; Supes should be too ethical to do that.

I’ve heard on the grapevine he’s a bit of a coward. First sign of danger and he always vanishes.

Breaking news about Superman is how he got the job Pre-Crisis as well – both in the Silver Age and the Golden Age, right back through to ACTION #1 – and how he got hired in the first black-and-white episode of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, at that. (And in the '70s, Clark would actually interview Superman on television in issue after issue.)