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Rex: Looks like we got ourselves a batch of Shinies here.

Echo: Shinies, sir?

Rex: That's right. Your armor. It's shiny and new. Just like you.

Still wet behind the ears and fresh out of boot camp, New Meat is exactly that. He may look like a soldier, but he lacks the combat experience to actually perform up to the fighting standard of The Squad. Generally young; some men may characterize him as a child.

He's a bit loathed by the rest of the men because he constantly asks questions or makes mistakes that hinder their progress. Prone not to appreciate A Father to His Men's stern but necessary discipline. Some of the more seasoned members may even consider his rookie status a risk and petition the commander(s) to get rid of him.

Usually, this is reconciled only by New Meat doing something notably competent or heroic in battle, after which he's accepted as "one of the guys". Then the next New Meat comes along.

Otherwise, New Meat serves little function other than to get killed so that others can brood over his corpse about what a waste his death was -- "the kid never had a chance". The New Meat is also a writer's shortcut to introduce the characters of an already established team. Since they have been working together for so long, it is difficult to justify why they would talk about their past. The New Meat character is introduced so that they can tell him the backstory.

Often portrayed as skinny or physically smaller than the rest of The Squad members to show he hasn't yet grown into the role of battle-hardened combat vet.

Used as a variant of the Red Shirt and killed off when the writers need to provide extra motivation for The Squad to disobey orders, kill innocents or act in other ways out of the ordinary. Ironically, the New Meat may be on the short list of survivors when the writer decides to Kill'Em All, so their Older and Wiser self can welcome their own New Meat as a Book End to their story.

See Ensign Newbie if the guy in question has a commission. May be Cannon Fodder if the higher-ups are sadistic or desperate.

Also common in Police Procedural or other "action team" shows, where he/she will be a newcomer, fresh out of The Academy/recruitment.

Examples of New Meat include:


Anime & Manga

  • Kakizaki from Super Dimension Fortress Macross(Ben Dixon in Robotech).
  • Sara in Soukou no Strain is treated this way by the other Gambee pilots before she gets Ram-Dass, even though she's actually a better fighter and strategist than they are -- they just won't admit it.
  • Subaru, Teana, Erio, and Caro in the first third of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S. Nanoha's job as a Combat Instructor is to make sure that they become soldiers who are capable of completing missions without unnecessarily risking and killing themselves in the process.
  • Ghost in the Shell. Togusa is constantly referred to as "the rookie" by fellow Section 9 member Bateau, though by Solid State Society he's shaken off the label and become the field commander of Section 9. Ironically Bateau is referred to as "the rookie" in a flashback episode showing him serving under Kusanagi for the first time during a war in South America.
  • Bernie Wiseman, the protagonist of Gundam 0080, is a relatively fresh ensign who's only been in one battle (where his Zaku was shot down) before he's assigned to the Cyclops Team. Garcia and Misha are pretty open in their dislike of Bernie, especially since they lost a man a few days before and see the new kid as a Replacement Scrappy.

Comic books

  • Subverted in the G.I. Joe comic books when a new character, codename Scoop, was introduced. He's well qualified for most millitary positions but he's new meat for the types of insanity the Joes get up to. In his first mission, everything goes to hell, the mission is a bust and it's a race back to the copter just to live. Scoop gains the respect of the veterans by helping a dazed and confused fellow soldier get to safety.
  • A very common story hook for Sgt. Rock, in just about every variation. However, since life's never easy in Easy Company, they don't have what you'd call a stellar track record for survival.

Film

  • Private Jones from the latter half of 28 Days Later. He's young, gawky and a bit of a coward, but hell, he's one of the last ten sane men in England. They have to keep him around. He basically exists to spur on the plot point of "Manchester needs women!" and to briefly wear a frilly pink apron before dying horribly.
  • Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) of Platoon, which is essentially a film about this trope.
  • 'The Kid' from the uh, slightly predictable Doom movie. Proves to be a heroic Redshirt, when he refuses the crazed Sarge's order to slaughter innocent people and receives a bullet for it.
  • Manning's squad in When Trumpets Fade is composed entirely of this.
  • Corporal Upham, the translator brought along in Saving Private Ryan. Not because he's new to the Army, but because his primary duties keep him away from the front lines and he's never fired his weapon since basic training. Which totally justifies his Heroic BSOD.
    • Ends up avenging Cpt. Miller's death, as well as being one of only two members from the original team to survive the mission.
  • Used quite a bit in Starship Troopers. A common phrase used to refer to new recruits is "fresh meat for the grinder". Quite funny, in a horrible sort of way. In the sequel a soldier says "Grow up big and strong, we need fresh meat for the grinder" to a newly-born child in the arms of its mother. Upon receiving new arrivals at the end of the first one (earily reminiscent of World War II footage of the Nazis throwing in Child Soldiers by the end of the war), Rico asks "Who are all these kids?", the reply being "we just got 'reinforced'". Upon this he quips that they (20-year old soldiers) are the "old men" now before proceeding to give them the exact same speech the unit commander he replaced did when he, Ace, and Dizzy joined the unit.
  • PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) in Casualties of War is the newbie in this film, but in something like three weeks, he treats another newbie like new meat.
  • Private Charlie Shakespeare in Deathwatch lied about his age to enlist, so he's very new meat indeed.
  • One such guy almost gets assigned the callsign "New Guy" by his squadronmates in Flight Of The Intruder. They instead decide to call him Razor, because he looked too young to be shaving yet. [1]
  • Deputy Monroe in Eraser. He winds up proving himself capable to his fellow marshals, only to be killed by DeGuirin to frame John Kruger.
  • Apocalypse Now: Willard comments that the members of the boat transporting him are this :

 Willard : The crew were mostly just kids. Rock 'n' rollers with one foot in their graves

Literature

  • Somewhat common in Warhammer 40000 literature...
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Straight Silver, many of the Ghosts are struck with how young their allies are. Kolea talks for a bit about "the kids" and how young they are; Criid, thinking for a moment that he meant her children, realizes that he meant the New Meat and that his memory was not healing.
      • In His Last Command, Ludd must get the Dev Hetra, a unit of New Meat, into battle. Through a combination of encouragement, threats, and Talk to the Fist, he succeeds; the commander asks him to stay with them, to lead him the benefit of his experience, which lets him stay so cool under fire, because he must remember his first battle. Ludd, who is, in fact, in his first battle, says that, yes, you do remember it.
    • Subverted in Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Xenos. Eisenhorn rescues some green soldiers from a "tetrascape", where Alien Geometries reign. Later, he chooses them over experienced soldiers to go into one. Wise of him: the green soldiers had actually seen a tetrascape before, and the experienced ones hadn't. As a result, the "greens" manage to shoot and kill dozens of enemies, but the elite Deathwatch Space Marine attached to Eisenhower's squad can't hit anything thanks to the effect the twisted geometries have on ballistics.
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel For The Emperor, the PDF unit that tries to stop them from escorting the tau to their compound consists of young soldiers. They have to be massacred to the last man to prevent the word getting out, and Cain, and his soldiers, find it Dirty Business.
      • In Cain's Last Stand, Cain's review of the new PDV forces inspires more cynical thoughts.
      • Duty Calls notes that Valhallans have a term for new meat: "FNG", or "fung" - short for "frakking new guy". One Valhallan unit known for its Leeroy Jenkins tendencies even has higher morale than would be associated with their usual losses, since these losses are mostly fungs.
      • The term "FNG" is used in real militaries, in either a wierd kind of Truth in Television or as a shout out by the author; of course, here in the real world it stands for "fucking new guy"
    • In William King's Warhammer 40000 Space Wolf novel Grey Hunter, Ragnor presses into battle with young Marines. The sight of them makes him wonder whether he had ever looked as green to his superiors -- and conclude that he had. (Though a long time ago.)
    • Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon is about an Imperial Guard recruit whose troopship ends up landing on the wrong planet. They were supposed to be going to put down a rebellion, but they literally fall right into the middle of an ongoing war between the Guard and an Ork Waaagh(!). Annoyingly, the main character gets referred to as 'new fish' at least once every other page. By the way, the title of the work refers to the projected survival time for a fresh Guardsman in a warzone. He beats the odds but not by very much...
  • Poor, poor Havemercy's Balfour, who has been subject to the other Airmen's harsh treatment, especially Rook's, even after he became an integral part of their ranks.
  • In All Quiet on the Western Front, the new recruits are almost useless, because they have no knowledge about trench warfare. The narrator says: "A man would like to spank them, they are so stupid, and to take them by the arm and lead them away from here where they have no business to be."
  • Any novice Guardian is regarded as this. Jake's role as the New Meat is one of the subplots of Demon Night.
    • Bit character Pinter is referred as the FNG: the Fucking New Guy.
  • Codex Alera refers to new legionnaires as fish, since all they do is "flop around." The legion is question has enough that they're able to make an entire company out of them, unofficially dubbed the Knights Pisces. Then they take a level in badass at about the same time Tavi pulls out the sharks. They take the name with pride, and use a shark silhouette as their emblem.

Live Action TV

  • Tina Hanlon from The Shield
    • Julian is the New Meat in the early seasons, but gains the respect of the other cops by beating the hell out of a prisoner who tried to give his partner HIV. He is the one who trains Tina in the later seasons, so the same character gets to experience the trope from both sides.
  • The "nuggets", especially Hot Dog, Kat, and a gaggle of others from the new Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Hot Dog and Kat don't remain New Meat long, though; Battlestar Galactica wasn't a show where Status Quo Is God. While the rest of the newbie pilots are killed soon after, Kat becomes an experienced pilot that rivals Starbuck in terms of skill and attitude by the time of her death. Likewise, of the initial recruits, Hot Dog is the only one to survives the ending of the series. By that time, he is one of Galactica's most experienced and respected pilots. He even leads the Viper wing during the assault on the Colony.
  • Gwen Cooper in Torchwood.
  • Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko serves this role in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He's less fortunate than the average New Meat; the crew of a Klingon vessel accepts him, but only as the ship's resident Chew Toy. He seems to be a bit of an unlucky klutz, so they figure he's drawing any misfortune the ship and crew might suffer onto himself. Most of the time, said misfortune is more humiliating than harmful.
  • Holly Gribbs in the CSI Pilot fits the trope to a T: fresh out of the academy, visits each cast member in turn to introduce them to the audience, is given a pep-talk (by Catherine, who would later regret it) about the job, and is killed in her very first case when the suspect returns to the scene of the crime. This causes Grissom to be promoted to shift supervisor (and Brass is demoted back to Homicide,) whereupon he summons Sara Sidle to fill the vacant role.
  • In the ultra-realistic WWII drama Band of Brothers, some replacements survive and become integrated into the unit... others don't. Veterans are bitterly hostile towards them; people depending on green recruits get killed. There is a fear of getting to know them that comes out as hate: "Two days later, there they are with their blood and guts hanging out and they're screaming for a medic, begging for their goddamn mother. You dumb fucks don't even know you're dead yet."
    • The opening episodes show the entire company as New Meat since none of them have combat experience when they are sent into battle on D-Day. The viewpoint characters quickly learn how easy it is for a soldier to die when you are learning on the job.
    • A later episode had a veteran return to the unit after spending a fair bit of time in the hospital recovering from a wound. He missed the harrowing experience of the Battle of the Bulge and his shell shocked comrades cannot relate to him anymore. They start treating him like New Meat which makes him quite angry since he was a veteran of D-Day and Operation Market Garden.
    • Another episode set near the end of the war has a New Meat soldier assigned guard duty alongside a veteran who chews him out for his over-eagerness for battle. To the veteran, an "easy" post with warm meals and a bed to sleep in every night is the best thing to ever happen to him throughout the whole war. Later, the same veteran does show comfort to the New Meat when they find the concentration camps and the sights inside.
  • NYC 22 follows six rookie officers from their first day at work.

Theater

 LIGNIERE: Have a care! It is he who will kill you.


Video Games

  • Chitose fills this role in Galaxy Angel Moonlit Lovers.
  • Elena of the Turks in Final Fantasy VII, also a Naive Newcomer of the third person kind. She's dedicated to the job, but tries too hard, and is often mocked by the lazier members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad.
  • He's not quite the new kid, but no one's going to single out a Silencer for hazing, so the Resistance fighter Private "Taxman" Andrews (he used to be from the equivalent of the IRS--strike two) of Crusader pretty much fulfills the requirements of the Red Shirt.
  • The Rookie in Halo ODST. He's not exactly green, seeing as how he's a veteran in the Regular Marines, but in the eyes of the veteran Hell Jumpers he's an unproven FNG.
    • Actually, he isn't new to being an ODST--just to the Squad. Same concept, though.
  • Every squad has a brave soldier who has to open the UFO doors and take a ton of reaction fire when you're raiding crashed alien ships in X-COM: UFO Defense. This is that soldier. The rest are likely of a rank no lower than Sergeant.
    • In all the X-com games, every soldier starts off as New Meat, and usually not very good New Meat. The few soldiers that manage to survive the first few missions (in which they are completely unarmoured and wielding peashooters) generally ascend to godhood in terms of ability by the end of the game.
      • Except that, due to variable overflow, any stat growing over 255 will be lowered to (X-255). That means your god-like unit having 2 movement points, or fainting from low stamina.
  • Ace Combat 04's player character Mobius One is this at first, as the first mission in the campaign is his first mission. By the end, though...
    • Airman First Class Hans "Archer" Grimm from Ace Combat 5 is introduced during an air raid on the player's air base with one of your wingmen incredulously reminding him he hasn't finished combat training yet, but he takes off anyway. Inverted in that while his later appearance in cutscenes shows us he is obviously at least five years younger and built smaller than the rest of The Squad (who were all New Meat themselves only a few missions ago), he's good enough to contribute to the base defense, and is soon considered an ace by his peers once inexperience is no longer an issue. Later some rookie pilots show up who help very slightly for a few minutes before dying because they apparently couldn't point their nose at the sky for two or three seconds.
  • Benjamin Carmine in Gears of War 2, who actually ends up surviving a lot longer than his (presumably more experienced) brother Anthony did in the first game.
  • Pretty much the new recruits in the Final Fantasy Tactics series. They join the party with no items equipped, no abilities mastered, and may be underleveled depending on the party's average level. By Final Fantasy Tactics a 2, new recruits come with basic armor and a basic weapon that teaches them their first ability for their job.
  • Initiate Reddins in Fallout 3, who made the tragic mistake of not realizing that when several heavy, explosion-like sounds go off right next to you, you should probably move. Periphary text within the game notes that her funeral got canceled. Harsh.
    • She does get a Posthumous double promotion though.
      • Some fans think that she didn't deserve it, that Lyons only gave her that promotion out of pity.
  • Parodied (along with every other war trope) in Cannon Fodder, with the New Meat forming an orderly queue in front of Boot Hill as it (rapidly) becomes covered in gravestones.
  • Call of Duty 4 gives us this loading screen conversation; the level in question is actually called 'F.N.G':

 Gaz: Good news sir, the world's in great shape. We've got a civil war in Russia, government loyalists against Ultranationalist Rebels, and fifteen thousand nukes at stake.

Captain Price: Just another day at the office. And the bad news?

Gaz: We got a new guy, fresh out of Selection. His name's Soap.

    • Interestingly, in real life, Selection is a brutally difficult training and weeding-out process, and soldiers that get through it are considered by the rest of the world military incredibly Badass. That Price and Gaz think so low of Soap, despite the fact that he passed said Nintendo Hard Training From Hell, shows exactly how good they are.
  • Yorito Nagai starts out as this in Siren 2. He gets better.
  • Reinforcing troops in Company of Heroes often gets this sort of response, especially from Wehrmacht Grenadiers.

 Grenadier: Hey new guy, hope you got your shit together.

Grenadier: Hey new guy, try not to fuck it up!

  • This tends to happen with anyone who just started playing an FPS in online mode. Adjusting AI-tested strategies, twitch reflexes, weapon choices, the mechanics of the game, any differences in play between single-player and online, and even compensating for lag tend to throw everyone just starting out online off their rhythm for a week or two.
  • The "Recruit" background for Mike in Alpha Protocol will have him with barely three months of experience, as opposed to being a talented soldier, experienced black ops guy, or a skilled tech user. Gameplay wise, you start out with no points to invest in your skills, making Mike seem like something of an Action Survivor.

Web Animation

  • Donut for the Red team and Caboose for the Blue team in Red vs. Blue. Donut manages to earn some basic respect from his comrades after capturing the Blue flag. Caboose team kills his own leader.
    • In a bit of an aversion, in season 9, the Freelancers initially think Texas is probably just New Meat and that the three (three!) Freelancers fighting her in the training room will easily defeat her. They very quickly change their minds.

Western Animation

  • Alice Noretti in Exo Squad is a bit of a subversion. Her death actually has an impact on the main character that shows up well into the second season, even more so when the bad guys clone her...
  • Protesting out loud against the sacrificing of New Meat as a mere diversion is what lead to Prince Zuko receiving his scar in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Notes

  1. Later on, when he proves to be very bloodthirsty when protecting downed aviators, he is renamed "Straight Razor".
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