They aren't incompetent
, they're very active
, and they may even be a Reasonable Authority Figure
who helps whenever they can... but something about them just seems a little off. Maybe they're a bit too zealous when it comes to dealing with the bad guys, risking civilians or needlessly killing. Perhaps rather than destroy the Death Ray
, they choose to keep it for "study". Maybe they just like to boss the hero around in a way that is both grating and goes against their moral compass.
This character(s) is (very probably) not evil, or even a villain in disguise, but signs point to them having an agenda that doesn't completely line up with the public good, basic human decency, or has a high chance of catastrophic backfire. This character often exists to create tension between the heroes and their immediate superior (in contrast to the readily trusting hero-The Mentor
dynamic), or the "relevant authority" in case they don't report to the UAF. You can expect the UAF to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist
who thinks they know best, and is likely harboring some secret plan that is dangerous.
Unlike the Big Good
, heroes can't really readily trust the UAF, but often have to deal with them because they run the prison / police / The Cavalry
. Of course, the "untrustworthy" part comes in because the prison is made of cardboard
and they lead a Red Shirt Army
- Nick Fury in Marvel Comics often gets this treatment, though it comes with the territory for a head of a spy agency.
- Jordan Collier in The4400 formed the largest group dedicated to helping the 4400. Sure, he meant well, but his agenda was always a little too radical... and in later seasons, included potential genocide.
- In Power Rangers Time Force, Mr. Collins, who the Silver Guardians worked for. Though solidly on the good side, he and they had an antagonistic view of the rangers. Doesn't help most of them are a Red Shirt Army.