Generic character (fiction)

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Generic characters are interchangeable characters, appearing mostly in animated shows or comic strips. They often reappear at different times with different jobs, or are seen in the background. Animation or comic strip artists, when in need of a character who furthers the story without becoming part of it, often use an existing character from their repertoire instead of inventing a new one. Generics can be considered to be similar to gag characters, but might stay longer.

Examples[edit]

Animated shows[edit]

The Simpsons[edit]

  • A man with a bald forehead, bushy mustache, and accent similar to Charles Bronson. He appears in many episodes with different jobs (e.g. toy salesman, promoter at Noiseland Video Arcade)
  • 'Yes' man. A person with a big chin who always emits an obnoxious and long 'Yeeesss'. He first appeared in Mayored to the Mob. Reported sightings include one in Brazil, but he spoke with a Portuguese yes, 'Acieeen'. These are all references to the trademark character played by Frank Nelson in the TV and Radio versions of The Jack Benny Show
  • Big Rich Texan. This person carries many traits of Texas stereotypes and is known to blast his gun at inappropriate times.
  • Lindsay Neagle. A woman with many jobs and beliefs. Included on this list because she keeps resurfacing with different hairstyles.
  • Barflies at Moe's Tavern. One is bald, one has glasses, and in early episodes, one is a woman. The men's names are Larry and Sam, respectively.
  • Squeaky-voiced teen. Seen doing a number of different McJobs in the food service industry. Usually asking for supervisory assistance.
  • A surly man with a pointed face who frequently gets only two or so lines, usually spoken snappily ("Just stamp the [validation] ticket." and "Don't touch me).
  • Irish Policeman. A red-haired Irishman who appears in more recent episodes. He usually leaves with a strange laugh (Toi, toi, toi), and specializes in twirling his baton.

Other animated shows[edit]

  • Anthony on King of the Hill. He appeared twice, first in the pilot episode, & when Strickland Propane hired a heroin addict.
  • Man in Garfield episodes. He had many jobs, and as Garfield pointed out once, "Are you the guy who keeps having different jobs every episode?"
  • The Red Guy, a character with a demon appearance and a gigantic posterior that is in Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel. He has many occupations as well as different names (Red Butt, Red Heiny, Heiny Man, etc.)
  • Rancid Rabbit, an antagonist to CatDog, who has a different job in each episode, such as a sponge salesman, restaurant owner or President of the United States.
  • Several different characters in Osamu Tezuka's manga and anime, such as Rock, Shinsaku Ban, Ham Egg, Acetylene Lamp, Duke Red or Osamu Tezuka himself.
  • Quint on Timon and Pumbaa
  • Two teenagers on Rugrats, who are evidently friends and always take the same summer job-style job as each other. One is tall, thin, and blonde, while his counterpart is shorter, rounder, and dark-haired. They have to frequently clean up after the babies destroy/spill things. Their names, Larry and Steve, are shouted over the intercom of a supermarket in one episode, Incident in Aisle Seven.
  • Bruce and Jeffery on Family Guy.
  • Meeker and Snerd on Bobby's World

Comic strips[edit]

  • Ted in Dilbert. Lack of talent was how Scott Adams explains making generic copies of him.[citation needed]
  • Woman in Cathy. She has a tendency to keep appearing in many department stores.
  • Kids in the classroom in Peanuts. No explanation, just added to the background.


Radio Shows[edit]

  • The Jack Benny Show: 'Yes' man. A person with a big chin who always emits an obnoxious and long 'Yeeesss'. This trademark character was played by Frank Nelson in various television and radio shows, and copied numerous times in animated cartoons.

TV sitcoms[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]