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Bob is a bit off. He might be a helpful member of the True Companions, but his habit of breaking into song and dance for no reason, or his obsession with rulers, or insisting that he carry a carrot of no less than 6.12 millimeters (and no longer) in length at all times, or saluting whenever the air temperature drops below... well, you get the idea. Put quite simply, he's hard for anyone to understand, talk to, or otherwise work with. Everyone except his (long suffering, but inexplicably loyal) childhood friend Alice, that is.
In a nutshell, this trope is about someone who has the task (be it as a friend or their actual job) of keeping an eye on the resident Cloudcuckoolander, Fish Out of Water or other strange person. They might be a close friend, relative, hired bodyguard or nanny or even just a plain old servant. As long as they accompany someone who's a bit crazy and try to prevent things getting out of hand, they're this trope.
Services this tour guide can provide include:
- Generally keeping them out of trouble (calming down angry locals, posting bail, finding directions to the nearest stationery store or farmer's market, etc).
- Doing the legwork they're too crazy to do themselves.
- Acting as a "tour guide" to explain things to them (this can also be a good reason to make them Mr. Exposition).
- Translating what they're saying from whatever their preferred form of communication may be.
Of course, since there needs to be a plot (or at least some gags), Failure Is the Only Option. If the person in question is completely dependent, then this is The Caretaker. Expect their roles to be reversed at least once.
Related tropes include Straight Man, Beleaguered Assistant, Nerd Nanny, Battle Butler, Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl, Old Retainer, Only Sane Man, Only Sane Employee, The Caretaker (who looks after someone who wouldn't look after themselves), Living Emotional Crutch, Translator Buddy (a friend who translates for him), The Reliable One, and The Friend Nobody Likes (if watching over that person is a chore).
Anime and Manga
- In Bleach Ise Nanao is in charge of a) getting the stupidly powerful Captain Kyouraku off his ass, because otherwise he'd be completely drunk all instead of just most of the time, and b) keeping her division from falling into (more) chaos. It's more of Obfuscating Stupidity as Kyouraku is among the most observant and keen minded characters in the series. He's still quite lazy, though, so he really does need Nanao around.
- In Azumanga Daioh Chiyo-chan is one of these to Osaka. Particularly amusing since the former is much younger than the latter.
- Aoi to Hayana in Twinkle Saber Nova.
- In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class Mizubuchi is this to the art club president; Awara. She even lampshaded it once, noting that she has a friend who she always needs to take care of.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler Sharna Alamgir was, according to the mangaka, created to play the Straight Man to Fumi Hibino's goofball character and basically exists to provide snappy comebacks. It must be a bit hard for her, since she is a foreign exchange student herself.
- Even if Haruhi Suzumiya hadn't been a Reality Warper Kyon's life would have been a lot easier if he hadn't met the titular character to begin with. But instead he allowed himself to be forced into her self created club to search for aliens, time travelers, ESPers etc. and keep her entertained.
- Cecile Croomy, the Beleaguered Assistant to Lloyd Asplund in Code Geass, also serves as his minder in all things professional and social, since he has no interest in doing so himself, preferring his Humongous Mecha.
- At least part of Kenren's job in Saiyuki Gaiden is to make sure Tenpou can function in the real world and not get buried under mess, though it is a voluntary aspect of it.
- Tooru to Run in A Channel. Nagi and Yuuko also cover for when Tooru can't be there, such as during class.
- In Hetalia, Lithuania and Ukraine have been this to Poland at different moments.
- Poor Mai is often stuck as this in Igano Kabamaru, since the titular character a mix of Country Mouse and Ditzy Genius who seriously lacks common sense..
- In Transmetropolitan the Filthy Assistants - Channon Yarrow, an ex-stripper-nun turned bodyguard, and Yelena Rossini, a chain smoking would-be writer - are this to gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem. Yes, they really are the sane ones.
- In The Sandman Barnabas the Dog is assigned by Destruction to accompany and watch over his sister, Delirium (her name says it all).
- Elf Quest: Jink, Kullyn Kenn gets assigned to alien envoy Firstborn Newbreed, who (initially) sees nothing wrong with telling humans to their faces how ugly they are, for example.
- Rob and Satchel take turns acting as this to Bucky in Get Fuzzy, although Satchel is a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander himself.
- Bob, Deadpool's CIA handler in Deadpool MAX. In addition to doing the parts of the job Deadpool is too insane to do and keeping Deadpool focused on the mission, Bob is essentially the only reason Deadpool is willing to do the job in the first place. In this continuity, Hydra is a figment of Deadpool's psychosis. Part of Bob's job is to exploit this by maintaining the facade that he's a former Hydra agent and the targets selected for Deadpool to assassinate are all high-ranking Hydra operatives.
- Peanuts has Marcie for Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown for Snoopy ("Why can't I have a normal dog like everybody else?")
- Ben Stiller's Steve Arlo is explicitly stated to perform this role for Bill Pullman's Daryl Zero in Zero Effect.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean, there's the case of Cotton. He got his tounge cut off, so he taught the parrot to speak for him...Subverted because the parrot only speaks nosense, but double suberted because the rest of the crew understand the bird pretty well...or think they do.
- Dr. Watson acts as one of these to the eccentric and blunt Sherlock Holmes.
- Rincewind is assigned this role (as a literal tour guide) for Twoflower in the Discworld series.
- Beetee appears to serve as this to Wiress in Catching Fire.
- From the same series, Finnick Odair could count as this to Annie.
- Tamora Pierce seems fond of this trope. Daine needs to watch Numair, (despite his being the most powerful mage in Tortall), Nawat needs Aly to explain the inexplicable to him, and Qiom, who needs Fadala to do the same, what with his being a former tree. It's even worse with Qiom, as some of the instinctive things an animal would do don't come naturally to him. His Minder needs to make sure he doesn't burn himself eating food too soon, or getting hauled up at the local temple for something equally (but obviously more disastrously) stupid.
- The whole premise of Of Mice and Men revolves around Lennie and George as (mentally handicapped) Cloudcuckoolander and minder, respectively. While Lennie's quirks land them both in hot water and drive long-suffering George up the wall, George cares deeply about Lennie and ends up shooting him dead rather than let him die at the hands of a lynch mob.
- Jeeves to Bertie in Jeeves and Wooster. His mission in life is to make sure that the young master stays unmarried and out of trouble and doesn't leave the house wearing anything too ridiculous. For all his oddities, however, Bertie is fond of "the quiet life", and if anyone's the king of Zany Schemes, it's Jeeves. Bertie also sometimes plays this role for his crazier friends, Bingo Little in particular.
- In Harry Potter, Ginny sometimes ends up as this for Luna - notably during Luna's first appearance, where Ginny convinces everyone that Luna's okay, just rather odd.
Live Action Television
- In Fringe Peter, Olivia, and Astrid are this to Walter.
- As befits their status as expies to Watson and Holmes, Dr. Wilson generally serves as this to Dr. House. Dr. Cuddy also served as one of these until leaving the show for the final season.
- Sometimes, on Doctor Who, the companions are dragged into taking care of the Doctor! Generally restricted to Four and Eleven though.
- In the Made for TV Movie in which Eight appeared, his companion actually tried to dispense with all this rubbish and have him put in the psych ward (mostly because he tried to tell her about the imminent The End of the World as We Know It, although acting like a lunatic probably didn't help his credibility any). She also explained away his odd behavior to strangers as a result of his being British.
- The Big Bang Theory Penny and Leonard often are this to Sheldon Cooper.
- The title character of the TV show Monk, who suffers from OCD, employs a helpful companion (Sharona in early seasons, then Natalie). She hands out sanitizing wipes, does all manner of dirty work, explains his odd mannerisms to others, and generally runs interference between him and the world.
- In Firefly, Simon serves as River's minder, as well as her emotional crutch and protector.
- In Glee, Santana sometimes functions as this for Brittany early on, but it's increasingly revealed that Brittany's actually mostly capable of taking care of herself, and their relationship becomes more equal over time.
- On Father Ted, Ted had to try and keep a handle on Dougal, who had a sort of unique interpretation of reality.
Ted: (holding plastic toy cows) These are small. But the ones out there are far away.
- On Leverage, Sophie often serves as a minder for Parker, usually by giving her advice on how to survive in social situations and act like a normal person while trying to pull off a con.
- Although all the team members become Cloudcuckoolander midners for Parker at one point or another.
- Turk occasionally serves as this to JD on Scrubs.
- The whole gang is this to Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, especially Ted.
- John to Sherlock on Sherlock, even more so than the original Watson. He spends a lot of time apologizing for Sherlock or translating his behavior.
- Every main character in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has taken this role towards another main character and vice versa, with resident full-time Cloudcuckoolander Charlie being the most common recipient.
- Community plays with this a lot, generally surrounding Abed. The group often has to help him, notable examples being Jeff promising to help him understand people, Annie explaining empathy, and Troy helping him function day to day, as explored in "Contemporary Impressionists." But seeing as Abed is Dangerously Genre Savvy and they are in a tv show, often the group needs him to explain or fix things for them.
- Warhammer 40000 has Ork Weirdboyz, the psychically receptive members of the Orkoid species whose barely-understood innate psychic powers make them, as the name suggests, a bit weird. By Orkish standards anyway, since they usually prefer to run away from the heavy fighting that makes their brain hurt rather than towards it as a sane ork would. As such they are usually accompanied at all times by two or more "minderz", unimaginative, no-nonsense ork thugs whose job it is to keep the weirdboy from doing anything too outrageous or running away when his mind blasts are needed in battle. This was the case on the tabletop up until the 3rd edition of the game, where the minders were represented with models and effectively fired the weirdboy like a living weapon. In the current rules the weirdboy has been safely escorted to the battlefield already, and the build-up of psychic energy has sent him crazy enough that he has given his minderz the slip and started to bounce around unpredictably on his own.
- There is also the Necron commander Nemessor Zandrekh, and his long-suffering aide-de-camp and enforcer Vargard Obyron. Zandrekh is a consummate tactical genius who was instrumental in promoting his dynasty's fortunes during the ancient Necron civil wars. Unfortunately his cognitive processing circuits were damaged during his long hibernation into modern times, and while his genius is undimmed he can't tell the difference between the present and the past anymore, believing he's still fighting the civil wars against rival dynasties whatever new enemy he comes up against. Obyron, on the other hand, is perfectly aware of the situation, but as an indentured subordinate he was programmed for absolute loyalty to Zandrekh and so has to make the best of things and sort out any anomalies caused by Zandrekh's delusions. Usually this involves making sure that "honoured prisoners" kept alive by Zandrekh according to ancient rules of engagement are conveniently disposed of via "little accidents" or "while they were trying to escape".
- The main characters in the Ace Attorney series tend to be this to their sidekicks (at the very least they occasionally manage to prevent them from doing something stupid).
- A more serious version appears in The Suffering where there's an Escort Mission (optional, but you'll need to complete it to get the best ending) that involves guiding around a drugged up, traumatised teenager who's so out of it he thinks you're his father.
- In Fallout 3 you essentially serve as this to Moira Brown when you're doing her (exceptionally long) quest chain to gather data for writing a survival guide. You can even talk her out of pursuing said dream (but only if you're feeling cruel).
- At least some of the cast of Blaz Blue try to keep Taokaka out of trouble when they can (particularly her progenitor Jubei, his student Ragna and Tao's more level headed Cool Big Sis and mentor Torakaka, and occasionally, her 'very good friend' Litchi).
- Herren from Dragon Age: Origins is one to his boyfriend Wade.
- In Dragon Age 2, Varric serves this role for his older brother Bartrand, who lacks social skills. Later on, he also serves this role for Merrill as she tries to adapt to life in the city.
- In the beginning of Tales of Symphonia, Genis serves as this for Lloyd. Raine also takes this roll with regard to Collette, to a degree.
- In Portal 2, this is Caroline's relation to Cave Johnson.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Emi is the one who understands her best friend Rin's odd trains of thought better.
- Louise of Miscellaneous Error spends most of her time trying to keep her brother, Jack, from killing himself or anybody else.
- Lucas and Lilah in Ctrl Alt Del both fill this role for Ethan.
- In Grey Is White is very much this to Black, especially in the flashbacks to 2 years ago where we see a depressed anorexic Black who is only really happy when White is there to distract him. Even in the present time it is up to White to help keep Black from freaking out when he loses focus and can't remember things or when his boss starts nagging him.
- Copernicus winds up being this to Fletcher on occasion in Antics. Sometimes.
- Apollo believes he is this to Thalia in Thalias Musings. Thalia disagrees.
- Megatokyo: Piro is this to Largo, translating his l33t sp34k when necessary and trying to rein him in from trouble. Lately, however, Erika has been taking over the job--when she's not just running with the madness.
- Church could be seen as this to Caboose in Red vs. Blue. He's entered Caboose's mind a few times, and also seems to be the only one who knows how to get results from Caboose, either through manipulation or genuinely getting through to him.
- Being the only person who gives him any change, The Nostalgia Critic has basically put himself in charge in Chester. Seeing as how Critic isn't all there either, this can cause problems.
- Leela is this to Fry (being his boss) for the first few episodes of Futurama. After that, he adapts and stops being a Fish Out of Temporal Water, though she still takes on this role from time to time.
Leela: As I've said before, objects in the future are still just objects, not living things that seem like objects.
Fry: So my attempts to establish diplomatic relations with the Cactus People were doomed from the start.
- The Planet Express crew frequently plays this role in regards to Professor Farnsworth. Left to his own devices, he probably would have destroyed the Earth, or worse.
- Nani is this to Lilo in Lilo and Stitch. When Social Services threatens to separate them, she explains that she's the only one who can understand Lilo's actions.
- The Looney Tunes Show: Bugs is this to Daffy, and potentially to Lola too.
- Regular Show: Especially earlier on, Benson acts as this for Pops, translating his flowery language and reminding him that you pay for things with money, not lollipops.
- Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: Edd is this to both Ed and Eddy. Well, at least he tries.
- Sharon Marsh is pretty straightforward when it comes to her husband Randy's Cloud Cuckoolandings in South Park, with Stan often sharing this role.
- James Hutton, the geologist responsible for putting forward an important aspect of plate tectonics, was known for having very strange speech patterns. When he died, a friend of his (who knew what he was on about) rephrased things for him.