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See this hand? It should have a coffee in it. You have five seconds.
—The Funky Fisherman, Power Rangers Dino Thunder
This is it. Da Chief is having a Eureka Moment and sending out operatives on the Evidence Scavenger Hunt, where everyone has to pull their weight to reach The Summation. At the end of the line the starry-eyed kid waits for their instruction. This is their big chance!
"You, go get me some coffee. Cream, two sugars, and make sure the lid is tight."
And the dreams of the coffee-fetcher are quickly smashed. Understandably often done at the expense of the Butt Monkey. Is not necessarily limited to caffeinated beverages, as it has been known to happen with lunch, office equipment, and various other demeaning and unimportant tasks. May overlap with Snipe Hunt if the task is A.) imaginary B.) impossible or C.) intended purely to get the person out of the way.
See also Stay in the Kitchen, where an entire gender is asked to get coffee.
Anime and Manga
- Ouran High School Host Club does this to Honey in the first episode after Tamaki dispatches the other members to gather supplies for Haruhi's "makeover", instructing him to "go have some cake". We then see a shot of him from behind looking dejected as he eats the cake.
- Played straight in Death Note when L asks Matsuda to get him coffee. This is done to indicate that because they were waiting, there is nothing else to do.
L: "You really wanna be useful?"
- Made even more sad/funny since the reason Matsuda asked how he could be useful was that everyone else in the team had just made something useful for the investigation. Also, it served as a foreshadowing for the next episode.
- In episode 6 of Keroro Gunsou, when the other characters are making dinner, Keroro and Tamama are told to go play video games, then to make sandcastles.
- Done in Dragonaut: The Resonance, with two of the Bridge Bunnies being assigned important duties and Megumi being told to get coffee. She doesn't seem too happy about it.
- In the Read or Die OVAs, Joker issues a series of commands to various departments, ending with sending Wendy to get some tea. In the next episode, all the various departments report that they are ready for their respective duties in the operation, but Joker does not declare them to be ready to begin operations until after Wendy has served the tea.
- One of the regular tasks that Mai has to perform after she starts working for Naru in Ghost Hunt is to make tea.
- First thing Iron Man told Hill to do after he took over SHIELD.
- Spider-Man - In Ultimate Spiderman Team-up, Peter Parker career-shadows Reed Richards for a day... only to be mistaken for an intern and sent out to buy coffee. By the end of the Story, Spidey has helped stop a Skrull invasion, and the FF chew him out for not getting them their coffee (despite Spidey's efforts to convince them he's not the kid from before).
- Transmetropolitan - Spider Jerusalem treats both his assistants this way. Admittedly he hates to have an assistant and is probably trying to scare them off.
- Batman doesn't drink alcohol, but darn it does he drink gallons of coffee. Here is a fancomic of the real purpose for ten years of Robins.
- Subverted in this Undocumented Features story, as "get me a danish" turns out to be slang for "hack into this computer for me".
- In the closing credits of Ultimate Utopia XXIII, a parody of the Final Fantasy series, there is a take on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Emperor Paplatine tells Vader that now that he has completed Order 66 to execute Order 67: "Get me a latte. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy."
- Occurs in Monty Pythons Meaning of Life, during The Crimson Permanent Assurance short: "You haul anchor, you prepare the mainsail, you... put the kettle on." Then again, for Britons, there is no more important task than putting the kettle on. The captain even pronounces the last order as if it's a matter of great importance.
- Wrongfully Accused actually has a waitress on site to parody the frequency of this happening in Crime And Punishment shows.
- Sent up in Airplane!!:
McCrosky: Hold all takeoffs, I don't want another plane in the air. When the 508 reports, bring it straight in. Put out a general bulletin to suspend meal service on flights out of Los Angeles. Tell all dispatchers to remain at their posts, it's gonna be a long night. How 'bout some coffee, Johnny?
- In Airplane 2: The Sequel, McCrosky arrives on the scene and barks out an order for a quart of Geritol and a ham on rye (no cheese!).
- Mocked in Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock's character is called up on her radio, told that it's "the usual", and uses her police siren and FBI badge to move through a line under the pretext of "Important business". However, all she's doing is going to Starbucks to get coffee for the office.
- Agent Smecker of The Boondock Saints does this to Detective Greenly whenever he says or does something stupid. Greenly, of course, can't catch a break, as Smecker does this to him even when he correctly guesses that the Saints were not fighting several armed men, but one man carrying six guns, an idea that Smecker immediately dismisses as ridiculous.
- Done in The Movie version of The Fugitive. In one early scene, Gerard sends each of the members of his team off on an errand or evidence gathering, and ends by sending the new kid (appropriately named Newman) off to get him a cup of coffee and a donut with sprinkles. The instructions to Newman take about three times longer than the instructions to the rest of the team combined. Gerard really likes his coffee.
- A version appears at the end of Gremlins 2 The New Batch. The hero has come up with a last-ditch plan to keep the Gremlins from escaping the building, and starts issuing orders along the lines of "Protect Gizmo! Aim the firehose into the lobby! Transfer the electro-Gremlin down here!" He gets to the last, useless, character and says "Marla... smoke." Marla says "right" and takes a jerky puff on her cigarette.
- In the movie version of Annie starring Aileen Quinn, Mr. Warbucks gives out a long list of orders to a bunch of his staff when he begins the search for Annie's parents. His last order is, "And Sanders -- get me a drink!"
- Ace Ventura Pet Detective: After Dan Marino is kidnapped, Einhorn walks into the office and orders things like an autopsy report, for no one to talk to the press... "And somebody get me some coffee!"
Ace: "Tonight on Miami Vice, Crockett gets the boss some coffee."
- Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire is an assistant at a call center, and is called a "chai wallah" (it means tea maker, although Jamal is not a tea maker in the traditional sense, people who were chai wallahs were often of a low social status and it is used as a jab at Jamal.)
- In the Discworld novels, the third witch with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (eg, Magrat or Agnes) seems to get this quite a bit. Usually it's "make the tea," but sometimes it's "run a simple errand even you couldn't possibly mess up." Of course, half the time this is because Granny is plotting something ...
- In the first Dresden Files book, Storm Front, Harry Dresden wants to talk to Lt. Murphy in her office, without a cynical coworker listening. Murphy sends the other cop downstairs to get her some coffee. The other cop, who is smarter than he looks, knows exactly what Murphy is pulling and protests that talking to Harry is a total waste of time. But at her insistence, he goes anyway.
- The novel The Paris Enigma is about The Twelve Detectives, an elite professional organization of twelve brilliant detectives in various countries, each of whom has an "acolyte" (the official term). The acolytes serve the brilliant detectives, do legwork, and speak when they are spoken to. (Think of them as grad students.) None of them are expected ever to become detectives themselves.
- The Devil Wears Prada: You Get Me Coffee from hell.
Live Action TV
- Sebastian Stark of Shark is especially fond of doing this to his underlings in the Prosecutor's office, usually keeping the same tone of voice for both the important and non-important instructions.
- Greg of CSI used to be subjected to this type of thing a lot before he was promoted to the field. Since then, the other Lab Rats who mainly work in the office get this duty instead.
- Scrubs had an episode plot centering around Elliot screwing up with Doctor Cox's patient and being punished by becoming his official coffee-getter. Her attempts to redeem herself were often misinterpreted as many a Freudian Slip. "Doctor Cox, I want you to know that I'll do anything with you."
Cox again, from "My Own Personal Hell":
Dr Cox: Keith, you're a fairly strong diagnostician, right?
- Cox must love this trope. On another occasion Eliot is trying to look competent in front of a patient, and Cox tells her to get him a donut. She asks if he means a piece of equipment that is often called a donut for its shape, and he clarifies that he means "a glazed donut. And I like sprinkles on half of it, so if you can't find a half-sprinkled donut, just get a sprinkled one and take half the sprinkles off". After she leaves, JD calls him out for being such a jerk, and Cox agrees and asks him to apologize to her for him - while he fetches coffee.
- Cox does enjoy it or at least uses to get rid of interns. In the episode "His Story", resident Butt Monkey Doug Murphy is assigned to him and he sends on him wild goose chases to collect a patient charts and his soda, all of which he is revealed to have in his hand.
- In Quark, the titular hero is always hoping for some important mission, but the leader, The Head, typically has one mission for him since he's an outer space sanitation worker, "Pick up the garbage."
- Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer often gets this job, most notably in "The Zeppo", where the other Scoobies are out finding protection against the impending apocalypse and he is sent for donuts. Of course, by the end of the night he's gotten laid, defused a bomb, and killed some zombies.
- When Angel tries to atone for his abandoning his friends by offering to work for them at Angel Investigations, he finds himself exiled to a tiny desk and ordered to make everyone coffee.
Angel: "Atonement's a bitch."
- Angel tells Wolfram & Hart CEO Lilah Morgan to get everyone coffee -- she responds by breaking all the mugs.
- In Lois and Clark, Perry did this to Jimmy Olsen all the time.
- In Blackadder II:
- Inspector Monkfish in The Fast Show would (in whatever job he was currently performing) order several people to do important things and end with "Put your knickers on and get me a cup of tea!"
- House- House informs his potential hirees of a patient and hands out tasks to about 2/3 of them. Amber asks "What about the rest of us?" Cut to them washing House's car. In regards to people actually getting him coffee, Chase and Cameron each did that a bit. Also he sent Foreman's girlfriend to get him coffee in 'Sports Medicine.'
- Life On Mars - Happened at least once to Chris and Annie. And even more often to Shaz in Ashes to Ashes.
- Heroes sees Sylar use this on the cop who seems to be in charge of a hostage situation while impersonating an FBI agent in the third season.
- Doctor Who:
- The Third Doctor pulls this stunt on feminist reporter Sarah Jane Smith the first time they meet, much to her annoyance.
- He also pulls it on The Brigadier in The Three Doctors. Lethbridge-Stewart asks if there's anything he can do to help with an investigation, and the Doctor requests a silicon rod. The Brig hands him one, and the Doctor merely uses it to stir his tea.
- The Seventh Doctor destroys a robot with an impossibly complex coffee order.
- The Fourth Doctor wasn't keen on having the inexperienced Romana on board the TARDIS to start with. In her first story he asks her to stay out of his way and make the tea, before declaring that she probably doesn't even know how to make tea anyway.
- The Third Doctor pulls this stunt on feminist reporter Sarah Jane Smith the first time they meet, much to her annoyance.
- In the 1988 TV miniseries Jack the Ripper, the Detective Sergeant played by Lewis Collins turns up at the East End police station. The uniformed officers sneer when he introduces himself and say, "Around here sergeants fetch the tea!" Then Chief Inspector Abberline (Michael Caine) enters and says to the station sergeant: "Good, fetch us some tea then."
- Drop the Dead Donkey:
- Gus Hedges unwisely pulls this stunt on psychotic officegirl Joy Merryweather. We next see Joy emptying all kinds of unpleasant gunk into the coffee urn.
- Sally also tries it once and gets coffee with extra Tipp-Ex.
- Gus should stay away from coffee altogether, seeing as how the cleaning lady regularly urinates in his executive coffee machine.
- The X-Files - Krycek is sent for coffee during a hostage situation.
- Janus - A good use of this trope is in the Australian legal mini-series. One of the regular characters is dumbfounded when he's working with an eccentric barrister who sends him to buy a packet of Rollos in the middle of a trial. Stunts like this make us think he doesn't take his job seriously, but the barrister turns out to be quite skilled and wins the trial by picking up a detail that everyone else missed.
- Mad Men - Most of the women working for Sterling-Cooper have this role, and the show plays the trope straight for two seasons. In Season Three's finale "Shut the Door. Have a Seat", Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper, and Lane Pryce have left Sterling-Cooper and formed their own ad agency, Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce. Everyone is running around, doing important, time-sensitive tasks. After working for hours around a sea of paperwork, Roger asks Peggy (formerly a secretary, by now a seasoned copywriter) to get him coffee. Without looking up, she delivers a flat "No."
- One game in Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, involving the afterlife, has Jeff Davis taking on the role of God; when his "angels" await his first request, he says:
"This hand has no coffee in it..."
- The above-quoted Funky Fisherman from Power Rangers Dino Thunder gives his interns five seconds to prepare his cup of coffee, and then gives them another five seconds to add the cream (but not too much cream).
- From a later season of Mad About You:
Uppity Minion: Jamie, you just have to come to terms with the fact that, in the candidate's eyes, we're equals now.
- City Homicide - Detective Senior Sergeant Sparkes does this to Jen in the first episode, revealing just how much he respects her abilities as a homicide detective. It's quite satisfying when he collapses from a heart attack by the end of the episode and she is reassigned to Stanley's team.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - After pegging himself as "the brains" and Dee as "the useless chick" of their group, Mac starts giving everyone jobs to do as part of their latest Zany Scheme. His instructions to Dee: "continue being useless."
- In Flashpoint's second episode, new guy Sam is asking questions with really obvious answers, annoying the team, leading to the following exchange:
Ed: Okay, here's what I want you to do. Do a reverse infiltration here, where we came in, then backtrack down these stairs, across the street and do a tactical infiltration of the Timmy's here, get me a large double-double. Jules?
- In Death Valley Captain Dashell keeps giving rookie officer Kirsten Landry the scutwork of the office, including checking all the registered werewolves to make sure they are properly locked up during the full moon and following his niece to a party to make sure she is not getting into trouble. Kirsten is upset not only because this is the most boring work in the department, but because a lot of it (Like following the Captains niece) is not even part of the department at all. Kirsten joined the UTF (Undead Task Force) to deal with the supernatural problems plaguing the city, there are plenty of cops out there already dealing with kids throwing parties.
- One exchange in Jak 3 goes as follows:
- Used by Sarge in Red vs. Blue, but for every member of his squad, ordering Simmons to kiss his ass, Donut to run around and scream like a girl, and for Grif to step in front of any bullets coming towards any commanding officer (Sarge being the only officer). Though Grif is the only one displeased with his order.
- It doesn't really make a difference, either. Grif wasn't trained for that anyway. You'd think more people would think of that one.
- Homestar Runner
- Parodied on in an episode of Cheat Commandos. When Gunhaver is giving out orders to infiltrate the grocery store, he says to the last guy, "Firebert, you stay here and think of a better commando name."
- It's a running gag in the Cheat Commandos that Firebert (The Cheat in the show's main 'verse) is a terrible commando name. The page picture is an example too; Strong Bad, responding to an email from a guy who doesn't realize that Strong Bad isn't a superhero, agrees to change his name to "Strong Badman" if the other guy agrees to call himself "Little Stiny" and wear a little mask and cape and do demeaning tasks for Strong Bad...a job which is normally done by The Cheat, who doesn't appreciate being replaced.
- Subverted in Sluggy Freelance. When Zoe applies for an intership at a radio station, she actually expects to just be a glorified coffee fetcher. This makes being rejected due to lack of experience extra humiliating.
- Used in Jay Pinkerton's Spiderman parodies here (NSFW).
King Kai: All right! Now that you've arrived on my planet, we will begin your training! Tienshinhan, Chiaotzu... 10 laps around the planet! Piccolo...
- At the climax of Hoodwinked!, the villain gives out orders to his henchmen and ends up telling the one named Keith to think of a more scary name.
- Used in The Simpsons, when Lisa's dreams of playing in a professional jazz band are dashed when Bart upstages her. "We were wondering if you... Lisa Simpson... would do us the honor ... of sitting in... that chair in the audience. We wanna jam with your brother!"
- This also happened to Bart in "Bart Gets Famous", when he ended up working for Krusty the Clown.
Krusty: This is a dream factory, the birthplace of magic -- an enchantment! Now I need you to go clean out my toilet.
- When they were imprisoned in Florida and put in charge of a party, Marge devised a plan to escape and delegated chores to the other Simpsons. Lisa's chore was about the drinks.
- Stewie from Family Guy reverses the trope at one point.
"You, bring me the Wall Street Journal. You two... fight to the death!"
- When the Trouble Alert blared its klaxon on the Superfriends, the adult heroes charged out to save the world, while Zan and Jayna got told to stay in the Hall of Justice and call 'em if there were any new Trouble Alerts. Of course, the action would inevitably come to them soon after....
- Hurricanes: When Stavros Garkos's niece helped him with a plan hoping she'd become the first woman to become Vice-President of Garkos Enterprises in exchange for her help, the plan failed and he blamed her, stating he'd not hire her even if it was to bring him coffee.
- Happened in Real Life to David Prowse, aka the physical actor for Darth Vader in Star Wars. Prowse is noted for his amazingly muscular and imposing physique, hence his role as the muscle-bound personal assistant to the old widower in A Clockwork Orange, but considerably more modest acting talents. He had auditioned for the lead role in the film Superman, and reportedly got a phone call from the producer excitedly informing him that they'd made their choice for the starring role, and they wanted him... to be that guy's personal trainer, because Christopher Reeve wouldn't look right for the role at all unless he bulked up to look more like David Prowse. Prowse reports that he had to choke back an overjoyed "Thanks!" right in the middle of the producer's sentence.
- A book by John Douglas, founder of the FBI's profiling unit, describes how the Japanese policemen who attended his profiling course always arrived in pairs: one a higher-status officer, the other a low-ranker who would shine his superior's shoes, fetch his coffee, etc. Douglas insisted that all his students were equal and put an end to this practice.
- The slang term in medicine for non-medical tasks (coffee, etc.) interns and others are made to do by more senior medical staff is "scutwork." It doesn't take most interns long to figure out that their job is perhaps the most important one in the hospital; if that doctor/vet doesn't get his/her caffeine, everything goes to hell, because "If the Doc ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
- Part of the rites of passage for newly-recruited grunts on dealing desks in large banks involves running chores of this nature. Justified, sort of, by the fact that the senior dealers are generally expected to remain at their desks for the entire eight or nine hours of the trading day and can't spend twenty minutes waiting to be served in Starbucks/ the deli.
- There's a fairly common satirical joke that this is Nick Clegg's role towards David Cameron in the UK's current Coalition Government.
- Anyone who has ever done a job intersip - regardless whether it's a bank, a newspaper, the local TV station - will find themselves doing more of these menial tasks than anything else (one can be lucky if they ever get REAL work to do). Quite frustrating.
- The short-term work experience that high schoolers and university students do more often than not is a glorified coffee making (or some other menial work). Nothing wrong with that, except the way the work experience is often hyped up you'd think it'd be more than that.