WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
They were hardly going to give me the job when everything was going really well, were they?
Admiral Doenitz, delivering the news of his promotion to 'fuhrer' to his wife, That Mitchell and Webb Look

A character has just been promoted to a position within his workplace that he is very clearly unqualified for, as part of some scheme by the higher ups or because no one else is stupid enough to take the job. They may even get promoted on their very first day of a new job without having any experience. This may be because the job has a High Turnover Rate, or because it's extremely dangerous, or the character could be being used for something more malicious. The person who receives the promotion will usually never suspect that there is anything fishy going on, despite their lack of credentials.

Note that this trope is only for when there seems to be some kind of ulterior motive for the promotion. A person who is too highly positioned for their level of competence is a Pointy-Haired Boss. A person who receives a promotion simply to get them out of the way is Kicked Upstairs. Placing a relative in an important position is Nepotism.

Also contrast The Uriah Gambit, which is putting someone on the front lines during combat in the hopes that they will end up dead, Reassigned to Antarctica, when a person receives a job as a punishment, and You Are in Command Now, when a person in a military position is forced to take control because everyone else is unavailable. This trope is a common tactic in Springtime for Hitler scenarios.



  • In The Hudsucker Proxy, the protagonist gets promoted to president of a company on his first day working there after the president commits suicide, as part of a stock scheme set up by a member of the board of directors. Unfortunately for him, it backfires, as he ends up being really successful.
  • The plot of The Flintstones live action movie is Fred Flinstone being promoted to an executive position, chosen solely for his high level of stupidity. It turns out that he is being used by a Corrupt Corporate Executive to embezzle money out of the company and leaving Fred to take all the blame.
  • This is how Blazing Saddles gets started. They're looking for a new Sheriff for a town, and the protagonist, who is a black man about to be executed, gets appointed sheriff, chosen in an effort to ruin the town. Hedly Lamarr was trying to buy up all the land the railroad was going to use.
  • The Jim Carrey movie Fun with Dick and Jane has Carrey's character Dick Harper promoted to Vice President of the company just in time to see the company go into a nose dive.
    • Specifically, he's shoved in front of a camera for a live news interview about 3 minutes after getting the job; 30 seconds into his interview, the truth of the company's financials breaks and he ends up as the face of the corporate cover-up (making it impossible to get a new job) because he's literally the one on TV telling everybody the company is doing fine as the stock tanks and the shit hits the fan.

Live Action Television

  • Admiral Doenitz from the That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch The New Fuhrer is thrilled to have been promoted as Fuhrer, oblivious to the massive bombing of Berlin going off in the background. It lasts until his second in command gives him the items he needs to take his first decision: a tactical review of the dismal position of their armies (summed up 'in one rude word'), Eisenhower's phone number and a written translation of 'We surrender' in English, thus making it clear that he won't get a chance to implement his ideas about pensions or the housing shortage. He does get a "Heil Doenitz" for his troubles, though.
    • Obvious parody elements aside, this is more-or-less how the real situation went down; the real Doenitz became "Fuhrer" upon Hitler's death less through merit and more because everyone else who might have been in the running was either dead, had fled the situation or had died fleeing the situation, leaving it to him more or less by default.
  • On the US version of The Office, Dwight is promoted to a VP position as a reward for overseeing the Sabre Store project. Unbeknownst to him, Robert California is planning to shut down the project and fire him because a store for Sabre proucts would be an awful idea. Jim manages to keep him from the meeting where it's supposed to go down long enough for Todd Packer to take both the promotion and the fall.

Tabletop RPG

  • In Nomine supplement You Are Here. When Jeanne Delarue was made director of the Board of Trustees of Progressive Banking, she was being set up to fail. The trustees intended to declare bankruptcy, blame her for it, split up the remaining money and leave her to face the music.
  • In the setting of Exalted, the incompetent Regent of the continent-spanning Scarlet Empire was appointed because nobody knew what had happened to their vanished ruler, the Scarlet Empress, and nobody else was stupid enough to risk being found in charge if she ever turned up.

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy VI, Geshtal effectively uses Kefka for this. He puts him in a position of power just so he can blame the Empire's crimes on him and have him arrested as a sop for the Returners. This does not go well.

Web Comics

  • At the end of the Sluggy Freelance arc "Dangerous Days", Heretti research scientist Chen gets promoted just as the corporation comes under federal investigation

  Daedelus: You're going places, Chen. All the way to the top.

Western Animation

  • In the Family Guy episode, "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington", Peter is made the president of the El Dorado Cigarette Company just to distract him from his complaints about the company. Also, as an idiot, he's equipped to deal with politicians.
  • In Squidbillies, Early was promoted to CEO to fill a minority quota and to act as a scapegoat for the company's many misdeeds.
  • In Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tom took a position of "CEO" with a mining company, only to discover later that the position was actually "Chief minEr On duty."
  • The Simpsons episode "C.E.D'oh" is a good example but also a subversion. Homer learns that the nuclear power plant's legal owner is a canary with a name extremely similar to Mr. Burns, so he takes the fall if things go wrong. Homer then releases the canary and convinces Mr. Burns to make him the new which point Homer fires Burns and takes full control. Burns takes it surprisingly well.
  • An episode of Phineas and Ferb sees Doofenshmirtz put in charge of Danville for the day by his brother in order to take the blame for a supervillain presently on the loose.
  • On Futurama, Zapp's incompetence causes the space cruise ship Titanic to get sucked into a black hole, and while everyone is evacuating, declares that a captain should go down with his ship. He then promotes Kif to captain and flees.


  • In the Belleville books by French author Daniel Pennac, Benjamin Malaussène gets a job in a publishing house as an actual scapegoat. That is to say, whenever someone gets into the building to complain, he appears, says it's all his own fault and looks so miserable that the complainer feels sorry for him and goes away.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.