Created By: KJMackley on April 24, 2012

Character Resource Pool

When you need something done right, turn to the local specialist

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Usually the main characters are remarkable individuals who have a great deal of experience and prestige in their field, the Omnidisciplinary Scientist tends to be exactly that in every field.

But realistically not everyone can be experts in everything and when the circumstances are outside their expertise, resources or area of influence they call in someone who can help them out.

It provides a good set-up for a Recurring Character, someone who is used when the plot really needs them.

  • Burn Notice starts with Michael making friends with the local money launderer Barry, and as the series progressed he has taken on clients with special skills that he puts to good use, such as a drug dealer named Sugar (who he shot in the leg in the pilot episode), a gun runner named Seymour for special ammo and has even called upon the two FBI agents assigned to watch him to get some support.
    • Sam has a large collection of friends in various government departments that he can call upon for information.
  • Mythbusters have a stable of experts to turn to with very specific myth requirements such as retired FBI explosives expert Frank Doyle.
  • In Pawn Stars Rich will call in various friends in the area to come and examine certain items that he is a little uncertain about. It ranges from antique firearms to toy collectors.
  • The first two games in the Mass Effect series was largely about establishing the universe and the people within it. You even have options on whether or not you want to kill certain people. In Mass Effect 3 everyone comes full circle as you need to recruit everyone you can for their help and resources in dealing with a large galactic threat (or eliminate potential problematic individuals).
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • April 24, 2012
    I don't really understand the trope, and the title is misleading.

    To me, Character Resource Pool sounds like a place where writers get ideas when creating new characters.

    As for the trope itself, is it supposed to be about recurring characters who specialize in a particular field that is often useful to the protagonist, or is this just meant to be a subversion of The Main Characters Do Everything.

    If it's the latter, I don't think it's tropable. "Characters can't do everything themselves and have to ask for help or ask for information" sounds like People Sit In Chairs.
  • April 24, 2012
    If this helper is taken out by the threat they're knowledgeable about, they're The Worlds Expert On Getting Killed.

    • Constantine. The title character asks his friends for help several times during the movie. He asks Hennessy to use his psychic abilities to find out why a demon possessed the girl. He obtains new equipment from Beeman and later calls him up for information about the Hell Bible.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Conspiracy X. A major part of the rules involves "string pulling" - i.e. having your PC contact their friends in other organizations in order to obtain help of some sort: information, physical assistance, access to a location or other person, and so on.
    • "Build your own character" games like Champions, GURPS and Shadowrun allow you to buy contacts, favors and companions during character creation that can help you in various ways during play.
  • April 24, 2012
    ^^ This concept goes right on to the general "Reporter finding information from their source," they need something and goes to a person they know who can help them. But it isn't meant to be a one-time thing, these characters will show up later on providing more assistance in a similar manner. Hence why they are part of a "pool" of resources.

    Burn Notice is the key demonstration. In one episode Michael, in the persona of cool-as-ice "Johnny," becomes acquaintences with a mob boss who knew about every car theft in the area. In a later episode he needed to find a particularly hot car that was stolen with drugs inside, so he went to that same guy as "Johnny" again looking for information.

    Another example would be in Home Improvement when Tim would bring in a good plumber friend, Felix, for work on projects with complicated plumbing. A group of constructions workers also showed up frequently to give some tips on safety and how to make on-the-job meals (they also became popular for their band where their instruments were repurposed tools).
  • April 26, 2012
    ^^ 1st Edition DMG? There was even a dedicated sourcebook, Sages & Specialists. That's where NPC classes appeared.
  • April 27, 2012
    Comic Books
    • British 1980's science fiction comic Starblazer. Mikal R. Kayn had a number of acquaintances who sometimes helped him out, including Skipper Mindy (who owned a dilapidated space freighter), Cinnabar (an alien woman from the planet Babalon with exceptional fighting skills) and Pop Perz, a genius inventor.

    Live Action TV
    • The X Files. The Lone Gunmen sometimes helped out Scully and Mulder with their expertise in computer hacking and knowledge of the paranormal.
  • April 29, 2012
    So... this is about the main characters calling in a specialist when they can't do things themselves?

    if this is about recurring characters, I think whatever the character is supposed to be would do, since they're part of the recurring cast.


    • In Highschool DXD, Rias and co calls in a Familiar Hunter to help them get familiars for Issei and Asia.

    Western Animation
  • May 3, 2012
    • In Steven Brust's Dragaera series, Vlad Taltos often calls on the assistance of his friends to achieve his goals. For example, in Jhereg he got the help of the master thief Kiera to replace two ordinary knives with Morganti daggers.
  • May 6, 2012
    bump for better name and examples.
  • May 6, 2012
    • On The Simpsons Dr. Hibbert is everyone's doctor (and Dr. Nick is everyone's quack doctor).
    • On ''Police Squad!, Frank would go Once An Episode to Ted Olson in the crime lab and Johnny the shoeshine boy for the word on the street.
  • May 7, 2012
    Knowledge Brokers and The Informant are often this.