To specialize or generalize? That is the question. When your generalist can't stack up to the specialists, you've got a Master of None
. When the weaknesses of your specialist render it worthless, you've got Crippling Overspecialization
. Sometimes a generalist can retain its usefulness through sheer versatility, in which case you've got a Jack of All Stats
... but still not a master.
But what if you didn't have to choose?
What if you could be, not merely average, but world-class... at EVERYTHING?
The strength of the Mighty Glacier
, without the slowness. The speed of a Fragile Speedster
, without the fragility. The mojo of a Squishy Wizard
without the squish. The stopping power of a Glass Cannon
but Made of Iron
Master of None
, Jack of All Stats
, and Master of All
are related tropes. Each describes a generalist character type, bad/good/great at everything. While the Jack might be good enough at any skill, the Master of All is rarely outclassed, usually only by someone with a Crippling Overspecialization
Importantly, a character, weapon, or unit does NOT have to be overpowered,
a Game Breaker
, or unstoppable
to count as this. Nor does it have to be THE best in every area to qualify, just top-tier. To qualify, it must:
Be top-tier (not necessarily the absolute best, but in the ballpark) in every relevant skill or specialization in the setting.[[labelnote:Note]]"The setting" is defined as the scope of the work, so for a work set in a hospital the Master of All
would need to be a master surgeon, diagnostician, lab tech, pharmacist, nurse, chemotherapist, administrator, and have a good bedside manner. In a series set in a software company, the Master of All
has to be able to build servers, lead projects, write code in every computer language, have access to all of the files, hack, block hackers, and turn viruses against themselves. And so on.[[/labelnote]], roughly equaling or outperforming even dedicated specialists.
2.) Lack any major weaknesses or drawbacks that would make using a specialist preferable.
Likely to overlap with All Your Powers Combined
. Sometimes a result of rampant Power Copying
. Where game balance is a concern, nearly always a Game Breaker
, unless it's a Guest Star Party Member
, A Taste of Power
, or otherwise Awesome but Temporary
. If the computer is this but the player cannot be, it's because The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard
. Often a Secret Character
or other Unlockable Content
. May only be available in a New Game+
. Most Infinity Plus One Swords
are this in settings where weapons have stats besides "Attack." Likely to be a Lightning Bruiser
, Genius Bruiser
, and/or One-Man Army
. Needless to say, always some flavor of Badass
Compare Game Breaker
and The Ace
, which are similarly powerful but may be specialized, and The Omnipotent
, which are often (but not always) this by default. Compare and contrast Jack of All Stats
, a generalist that is not top-tier in any given area. Overlaps with Lightning Bruiser
, which combines three specific specializations but not necessarily all available in the setting. Arguably a Super Trope
to God-Mode Sue
, which is a particularly overpowered Master of All
in a setting where everyone else is a Master of None
and The Load
by comparison. Contrast Master of None
- Minion, the Secret Character in the Twisted Metal games, is usually this, with top-class speed, handling, and armor plus a badass superweapon. His only (slight) drawback is his size, which makes him a larger-than-average target.
- The Golden Kart in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! has the best combined stats of all vehicles. Some are better in one stat but lower in the others (Bowser's has highest top speed, but takes a while to get there).
- Super Sonic in Sonic R has perfect stats across the board.
- In the PAL version of Crash Team Racing, the cheat-only character Penta Penguin has perfect scores in all stats. When it comes to the race itself, though, he's often tiered lower than the high-speed-low-handling characters, due to how power-sliding works.
- Ash, the protagonist of Vandal Hearts, starts out as a very competent and useful Jack of All Stats and Magic Knight, and becomes this trope in spades if you manage to unlock his gamebreaking, Purposefully Overpowered Vandalier class, which is a Lightning Bruiser that can cast every spell in the game.
- The Majin class from the first Disgaea game. Very high stats all across the board, positive Aptitudes for all stats, very proficient with all weapons, and high mobility. There is no reason to use anything else when you have unlocked this class (though it requires a bit of a Guide Dang It). The subsequent games nerf this class severely, though. The second game reduces its mobility to the minimum, making it somewhat of a Mighty Glacier instead. The third and fourth games take it even further, giving it low aptitude above the low mobility, and no weapon proficiency, making the class require a lot of work to even be remotely playable.
- A sufficient amount of Level Grinding can yield this in most JRPGs with a Job System, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Dragon Quest IX, and Blue Dragon.
- Dragon Quest VI has a particularly spectacular example in that changing class affects only your stats, while spells are determined by the class's rank, itself depending on the number of battles you've fought. However, spells stay with the character once learned even after subsequent class changes, which can lead to situations like the Mighty Glacier throwing healing spells or the Squishy Wizard launching physical attacks, and doing quite well at both.
- In the Pokemon games, the Mew-clones are this with 100 as a base stat across the board and typically able to learn an incredibly wide variety of moves. Mew in particular can learn every teachable move in the game.
- Arceus takes this even further, having 120 base stats across the board, capable of learning every teachable move (except moves that explicitly require hands due to being a Marvelous Deer) and has an ability that allows it to change into any of the 17 Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors Types.
- In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, by the end of New Game+ the player should be able to max out all three skill trees and become a master of all three combat disciplines. This creates some weird synergies that allow you to do things like performing six or more consecutive headshots on distant enemies in the span of a few seconds while using a sawed-off shotgun that only has two shells in it. It really helps to emphasize the Unreliable Narrator nature of the story.
- The RCP-90 in Goldeneye 1997 was incredibly powerful (its power was only matched by cheat weapons and explosives), had one of (if not the) highest firing rate in the game, and had the largest ammo capacity to boot. To top it off, it used the single most common ammo in the game.
- With no hard cap on creature Power and Toughness stats and far too many powers and abilities for one card or deck to encompass everything, it's tough to apply this to Magic: The Gathering. The closest to the spirit of the trope is probably Progenitus, which at 10/10 is among the largest naturally-occuring creatures and has Protection from Everything. (Protection effects are usually limited to a single color or creature type.) Fittingly, it costs two of every mana type to play, requiring the player to be something of a Master of All just to get it on the field.
- Tactics Ogre: Before the remake said class was the AI-only Templar Knight.
- The player in the Fable games is almost certain to be this. While you CAN choose to specialize, the way the cost of upgrades scales means there's no reason to: the cost of going outside your specialty quickly becomes negligible meaning that there's no down side to ultimately becoming equally proficient in Strength, Skill, and Will.
- It's possible to turn the player character into this in most Bethesda games, such as Fallout3 and The Elder Scrolls, but it takes an insane amount of Level Grinding.
Anime & Manga
- Every fighter in Dragon Ball Z either is this or aspires to this. The one attempt to specialize (by Trunks, during the Cell Saga) results in Crippling Overspecialization. Other than that, speed, strength, invulnerability, and ki control all seem to increase proportionally with power level. Some less-powerful characters are said to be greater strategists, but this is inconsistent and tends to be a bit of an Informed Ability in any case.
- The Martian Manhunter. All the powers of Superman without his weakness, plus Telepathy, Intangibility, and Voluntary Shapeshifting. He does have a Weaksauce Weakness, but he has been known to overcome it. There's a reason why the writers don't tend to use him much.
- Within works centered around him, especially those without superpowers (such as the movies), Batman tends to be this. He's the World's Greatest Detective, skilled in every scientific field, a Master of Disguise, a capable leader, one of the top martial artists in the world, has a ton of high-tech gadgets thanks to being high in the Fiction 500, has trained his body to Charles Atlas Superpower level, and often displays random skills such as being a capable actor just in case he might have need of that skill. In works where he teams up with superpowered or magical characters, not so much.
- Lethal Joke Character / Memetic Badass example: Marvel comics gives their characters "stats" much like a Video Game. Squirrel Girl's official ratings have every stat maxed out. It's a Running Gag that she keeps defeating Marvel's most powerful villains including (effectively) gods off-camera. With squirrels.
- A One-shot character in Tom Poes has a mark on his hand, the 'mark of the master', een meesterhand. Anyone who shaked his hand immediately assumes the bearer of this mark is the absolute expert. Bommel briefly takes over this mark and notices straight away it doesn't work out well. The original bearer however is then revealed to be this, because of his old age he has been able to learn everything and actually be this, so he can sort of live a normal life.
- The titular character in The Tales of Alvin Maker is this. He can duplicate the specialized "knack" abilities of almost every other character of European descent in the series, and the generalist greensong powers of the Native Americans as well. A character Lampshades this when a phrenological examination of his head reveals that all of his traits and talents are perfectly balanced.
- Rand in The Wheel of Time definitely counts, combining world-class swordsmanship, ta'veren status, dreamwalking, and THE most powerful magical ability in the world.