Created By: Bisected8 on August 26, 2013 Last Edited By: Bisected8 on August 27, 2013

Notable Amongst Notables

A character who's the best or worst at X in a group known for being the best at X

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Note: I'm not sure if this really works as a single trope or it it should be split into two separate tropes (e.g. "Best of the Best" and "Worst of the Best"), but I can't think of a specific reason not to lump them together.

Needs a Better Name?

This trope covers characters who are part of a group known for something and are either the best or worst in said group at it. The group in question can be anything from a Gang of Hats or Weird Trade Union all the way up to an entire Planet of Hats. The "something" is generally whatever the focus of the plot is.

Members of the group who are the best at it will be described as the best of the best. Incompetent members will have an air of "I may be a bad X, but I'm still an X!", and prove it by still outdoing anyone outside the group.

Oddly enough, heroes have a fairly even chance of being either one of those (especially if the rest of the group are the antagonists). Heroes who are less talented will often make up for it in other ways. Often because other members of the group suffer from Crippling Overspecialisation of have a bad case of When All You Have Is a Hammer...). Heroes who are paragons will often face overwhelming odds to maintain drama (e.g. they might be the only member of the Dance Battler Corps who're groovy enough to take on the might of the Disco Demons) and serve to emphasise the threat that their antagonist poses.

Villains have less even odds. Competent villains are far more common (natch) and tend to be the Big Bad (if the group's evil) and/or a case of The Paragon Always Rebels (if the group's good or neutral). Relatively less competent villains are rarer and tend to be used to build up the overall group as a threat (e.g. "You may have out-danced me! But I am but the weakest of the Disco Demons! [Evil Laugh]").

Compare Muggle Born of Mages for when a member of a group lacks any talent for what they're known for at all (not generally this trope, since it requires some competence although there's some overlap) and Klingon Scientists Get No Respect for when members of a group pursue something they aren't know for. Supertrope to Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond (which covers cases of "less competent" characters who have ended up in worlds with much lower standards).
  • Rincewind the "Wizzard" from the Discworld novels. He might be an incompetent wizard, but he's still a wizard (and occasionally even manages to use magic) as far as the Theory of Narrative Causality is concerned.
  • In Eternal Darkness, Chattur'gha is the "strength" based ancient. While he's Dumb Muscle compared to the rest, he still has a far greater understanding of the universe than any mere mortal could.
  • In Legend of Dragoon, Meru is a Wingly. While her magic is so weak compared to other Winglies she was essentially banished, she still has far more magical power than most humans (and a higher magic stat than anyone in the party).
  • Towards the end of Watchmen Dr. Manhatten uses an inversion of this as a Badass Boast.
    "But you, Adrian...are just a man. And the world's smartest man poses no greater threat to me than does its smartest termite."
Community Feedback Replies: 2
  • August 26, 2013
    Is this In Universe Examples only?
  • August 26, 2013
    I can't really think of any situation where this would be an audience reaction; either a character's portrayed as the best or worst in a group, or they aren't.