->''"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."''
-->-- '''Creator/WilliamShakespeare''', ''Theatre/TwelfthNight''

The Action Survivor is an InnocentBystander in dangerous circumstances. He won't so much get TheCall as be pinned by a telephone pole, thus trapping him in an adventure that a more qualified ActionHero would have [[BringMyRedJacket trouble sorting out]].

The Action Survivor is the opposite of the Action Hero; he's pretty normal in just about every way. If the Action Hero is ostensibly a fantasy idealized-self, the Action Survivor is more of a [[AudienceSurrogate self insertion]] for the viewer, giving us someone easily related to because [[ThisLoserIsYou we're wimps]]. However, WishFulfillment figures into this character's development. While outrunning shadowy evildoers and keeping the MacGuffin out of reach, he'll discover he's far more cunning, resourceful and resilient than he gave himself credit for...He'll likely [[TookALevelInBadass learn more along the way]].

Some movies will even give the slender protagonist a power upgrade via ancient prophecy/[[TheChosenOne the one-ness]], etc. Most films forgo this for BadassNormal... or suck a little less. If the character gains super powers this way, expect them to have to go from SuperLoser to competent.

'''Traits include:'''
* Average to toned body
* PermaStubble at low setting
* Light of foot rather than big and tough (think DeadlyDodging vs. MadeOfIron)
* Generally, he'll suck at fighting and need rescuing, choose flight, or win just by sheer luck and the skin of his teeth.
* [[BerserkButton Gets very angry]] when [[TrueCompanions someone he cares about]] is threatened.
* "What the fuck is this!" reaction to action, which doesn't stop them from...
* Being amazingly good at [[IndyPloy improvising]] and just plain '''surviving''' the movie's action, hence the trope name.

Note that he's not just good at "merely" surviving the adventure like a mangled heap of bones, but is quite capable of surviving [[CouldHaveBeenMessy mostly unharmed]] while somehow managing to delay or disrupt the EvilPlan enough to foil the bad guy. In fact, said villain will likely be [[DidntSeeThatComing blindsided]] by their involvement, because they planned for everything ''except'' this SpannerInTheWorks.

One overlooked trait of these types is that they're [[NiceGuy uncommonly decent]]. They'll often get [[RedPillBluePill at least one chance to walk away]] (often given "in good faith" by the villain), but choose to keep fighting rather than run away because of altruism, love, {{upbringing|MakesTheHero}}, a sense of duty or they're bored with their small lives and choose to keep adventuring for the fun of it.

The Action Survivor is common not only in action movies, but also horror movies and videogames, where an unprofessional protagonist adds to the desperate horror feel.

By the adventure's end you can expect him to be [[HomeSweetHome incredibly happy]] to have things go [[IJustWantToBeNormal back to normal]], although his [[CharacterDevelopment growth]] throughout the adventure means he'll be standing up to his PointyHairedBoss, dump his harpy girlfriend for his OneTrueLove, or [[UnfazedEveryman not go back to his normal life]].

Related to the FinalGirl -- a specifically female, horror movie version. The RightManInTheWrongPlace is often this type of hero. On the SuperWeight scale, he's primarily Muggle Weight, sometimes making the jump to Iron Weight upon [[TookALevelInBadass taking a level in badass]]. See also ActionDuo. Also compare UnfazedEveryman.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Shamo}}'' has its protagonist Ryo Narushima in this category for give or take the first 3 volumes of the manga. After that well...Lets just say he adapts to his surroundings a tad too well.
* Rokuro "Rock" Okajima from ''Manga/BlackLagoon''. Goes from everyday {{Salaryman}}hood to surviving multiple gunfights, kidnappings, car chases, [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome boat chases]], and the list just goes on.
* Usopp from ''Manga/OnePiece'' is something of this. Usually, he has only his amazing ingenuity, and spends half the battle running away.
** Vivi would count too, although she's usually more willing to fight than Usopp is.
* ''Manga/{{Kaiji}}'' - The title character is an ordinary loser whose genius and bravery only awaken when thrust into life-threatening situations. The [[NiceGuy "uncommonly decent"]] aspect also applies very much.
* Simon starts as this in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann''. He eventually gets upgraded to ActionHero [[spoiler: after he gets over Kamina's death.]]
* Subverted in ''Anime/CodeGeass''. Ordinary guy Lelouch gets mixed up in an insurgent attack and reactionary annihilation of the area when suddenly he is randomly handed his "geass". Then he [[TheReveal reveals]] that he is NOT an ordinary guy and proceeds to not just ''survive'' the conflict but fight, commanding the insurgents like his own personal army (like they later become). We also later find out that his gaining his "geass" was anything but random.
* Plenty in ''[[VideoGame/ZoneOfTheEnders Zone of the Enders: Dolores]]'', as its premise is an ordinary family thrust into world shaking events. James may or may not count as he is actually pretty big and has had military training, though he starts off pretty damn rusty and with none of the 'elite pilot/man of destiny' badges given to the other ZOE protagonists. His son Leon on the other hand is a [[ButtMonkey meek and pussywipped computer programmer with an obvious Oedipus complex]], yet manages to surprise even himself by facing up to vicious beatings, pushes his programming and mathematical skills to their absolute limit (he is the primary designer of a module for atmospheric entry at one point, despite having no training and only scrap to work with), and showing remarkably quick thinking in a crisis.\\
\\
He contrasts nicely with his sister Noel, who takes after her father by being tough, bluntly spoken and powerfully built. She however often comes across as a FauxActionGirl, possibly because she's far too levelheaded to perform the moments of terrified bravery her brother manages. Perhaps he realises she's far more masculine and infinitely less whiny (though that's like being less hot than the ''sun''...) than he will ever be and feels the need to compensate.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' has Shikamaru. Unlike the "born great" Sasuke or Kakashi , he has no motivation and is an average ninja (compared to the ridiculously overpowered main characters and bad guys). However, he has a genius level intellect, and when duty calls, he can use that intellect to defeat much stronger opponents. Significantly, he was one of the first characters in the series to defeat an Akatsuki member, and the first to defeat one in a one-on-one fight. With a hole in the ground and some string.
* The [[spoiler:surviving]] members of the Japanese taskforce in ''Manga/DeathNote.''
* Female versions: Suzu and [[spoiler: Princess]] Shoukei from ''Anime/TheTwelveKingdoms''.
* The main group of ''Manga/BioMeatNectar'', especially in part 1. Just some kids running away from TheSwarm armed with ingenuity, guts, lighters, and hairspray. Slightly subverted in parts 2 and 3 when they come closer to being {{Action Hero}}es.
* The ''main cast'' of ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys''. None of them, except [[BadAssLongcoat Otcho]], are particularly strong, fast, or badass, and they're all up against a BigBad trying to take over the world with the help of a brainwashed cult. Admittedly, they do [[TookALevelInBadAss level up]] over the course of the story (especially [[spoiler: [[CrazyAwesome Kenji]]]]).
* Kaname from ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic''. Normal high school student that just happens to get involved in an elite military unit. Subverted ({{Double Subver|sion}}ted?) In that she ''isn't'' an ordinary person, but her particular abilities aren't likely to help her in a situation requiring near-superhuman strength and agility, though she is fairly athletic for a girl her age.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' - Being chased down by [[spoiler: the NighInvulnerable WalkingWasteland Aizen]] has required [[spoiler: Keigo, Tatsuki, Chizuru, Mizuiro and Don Kanonji]] to become this. Special mention to the last two.
* Keiko Yukimura from ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' has [[{{Muggles}} no supernatural powers]] to defend herself from demonic and powerful forces. She gets by by being {{plucky|Girl}} and resourceful, shown especially when she and Botan are up against zombies controlled by insects.
** Similarly, Yaminade no Itsuki. He ''does'' have [[VillainTeleportation supernatural]] [[MultiArmedAndDangerous powers]], but [[NonActionGuy they're not very useful in battle]]. However, he gets by by being a ''ginormous'' ManipulativeBastard...
* Nijima of ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple'' has no martial arts training but manages to be the only one who escape Berserker. Also he has excellent information gathering skills.
* Saji Crossroad in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00''
* Tsukune Aono of ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'' had a dangerous habit of TakingTheBullet for his (technically stronger) friends. He was [[MadeOfIron surprisingly resilient]] even before he TookALevelInBadass via EmergencyTransformation, though, and he's a decent strategist and the OnlySaneMan, which makes him invaluable to the team.
* Saiga of ''Anime/SpeedGrapher'' had become a credentialed Action Survivor by the beginning of the series, as a veteran war photographer. After he becomes an EmpoweredBadassNormal he still exhibits every other feature of the trope.
* [[spoiler: Myung Fan Lone]] from ''Anime/MacrossPlus''. Here we have a person whose life has been almost 100% CRAP for years, completely helpless as [[spoiler: [[MailerDaemon Sharon Apple]] has staged everything to give Isamu the thrill of death]]... and suddenly something snaps inside of [[spoiler: her]]. The next scenes have [[spoiler: her]] escaping from [[spoiler: her]] prison and using [[spoiler: her]] smarts and quick thinking to stop [[spoiler: Sharon]].
* Hercule/Mr. Satan of ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' and ''[[Anime/DragonBallGT GT]]''. He and his dog are the only survivors of an otherwise 100% genocide on normal humans in the Buu Saga and complete mind control of humanity in GT. All because he had the sense and decency to befriend Buu.
* Yukiteru Amano in ''MiraiNikki'' is this trope mixed with a healthy dose of CowardlyLion. Before the [[ThereCanOnlyBeOne Battle Royale for Godhood]] started, he was just a loner who stood on the sidelines, and in most situations, he prefers running away or leaving most of the killing to [[ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend Yuno]], but despite this, [[spoiler: he's actually killed just as many diary owners as she before he TookALevelInBadass]].
* Mako Mankanshoku from ''Anime/KillLaKill'' is essentially the CloudCuckoolander from a slice of life high school comedy, who somehow found herself in a high-stakes shonen action show. She survives handily, in no small part by operating on ToonPhysics instead of whatever set of rules everybody else is following.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The Jaime Reyes [[LegacyCharacter incarnation]] of the ''BlueBeetle'' did not so much answer TheCall as accidentally pick up [[MagneticPlotDevice what caused it]], take it home, and put it on his dresser. He didn't want to be a hero in the beginning; instead he got told "Hey kid, we need you to help save the world." (And wound up throwing up in the Batcave.) He gradually eased into being a hero after realizing his own resourcefulness, and while he does have an alien bugsuit, he's not a fighter by nature (and actually got told by Robin that he kinda sucked at fighting) and tends to get by on cleverness and his brilliant brain, simply using the suit as a tool and flying by the skin of his teeth. All the more so when he's been thrown into a do-or-the-world-dies situation ''without'' his super powered bug suit. A rare case of a superhero NOT actually being an ActionHero, perhaps even less so than his predecessor, Ted Kord.
* Smiley Bone of ''Comicbook/{{Bone}}'' always seems to know exactly where incoming arrows will be and to have a shield ready appropriately and facing the right way.
* Julie Martin from ''{{Echo}}'' is just an amateur photographer who had the misfortunate of witnessing, and getting caught up in, the murder of Dr. Allison Porter of the Phi Project. Now she is stuck in the Beta Suit and trying to figure out what is going on, who is doing it, and how she can get out of the entire situation. Fortunately, she has [[ActionGirl Ivy Raven]] to help her out.
* Yorick in ''Comicbook/YTheLastMan'' fits this to a Y. Sometimes he is a bit of a jerk.
* Pendragon from ''ComicBook/{{Vampirella}}'' is just a stage magician with no fighting ability, but he keeps managing to get by.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* Tobias Talltree of ''Fanfic/CloudedSky'' is just an ordinary kid who happens to have the great misfortune of having received a Murkrow as his starter Pokémon, the consequences being that not only is he mistrusted and held in contempt by everyone, but is also constantly being forced into one life-threatening situation after the other through no fault of his own, and continuing to come out of them all unscathed through sheer dumb luck.
* ''FanFic/{{Hands}}'': Andrew is a normal guy dumped into [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Equestria]], but can be surprisingly dangerous if pushed, especially if he has his weapons on him. [[spoiler: As the demon found out...]]
* Shining Armor from the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries''. While he is a trained guard and has training sufficient training, he ends up facing off with an insane Hooviet SuperSoldier who devotes a small army to trying to kill him. He manages to survive the battle and handle himself pretty well. This is fortunate for him, considering he's also a WeirdnessMagnet who attracts situations where one ''needs'' to be this.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''{{Cellular}}'' has this type of protagonist. He was aided during the shootouts by William Macy as an [[{{Retirony}} about-to-retire cop]] [[spoiler:[[SubvertedTrope who survives]]!]]
* The title character of ''PaulBlartMallCop''.
* ''Film/TheMatrix''. As Thomas Anderson, the protagonist basically stumbles through the events of the film, relying on luck and the help of others to get him out of situations. As [[TheChosenOne Neo]], however...
** In the [[Film/TheMatrixReloaded sequels]], a number of the residents of Zion are this. Of particular note is the character Michael Karl Popper aka the Kid. He's not a combatant or even technically gifted like the Operators, but his bravery and determination help at key moments[[note]]Beyond his role in the Last Battle of Zion, his most significant accomplishment is waking himself up from the Matrix without using a red pill[[/note]].
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings''. Frodo and Sam repeatedly rely on their wits and relentlessly good luck to get them to Mordor intact, such as in Balin's Tomb and escaping Osgiliath, and Frodo repeatedly states how he wishes he had never gotten the Ring in the first place.
** In the behind-the-scenes features of ''The Fellowship of the Ring'', Sean Astin talks about how much effort he put into learning swordsmanship for the films' fight scenes. In the first of these filmed - the Nazgűl attack on Weathertop - he was specifically asked after a few takes to tone it down, so as not to make Sam appear to be too competent.
* Mary Jane during the final battle of ''[[{{Film/SpiderManTrilogy}} Spider-Man 3]]'' actually manages to hold on for a long time on her own before absolutely needing to be rescued.
* ''Film/{{Wanted}}'': Wesley starts as this, but then [[TookALevelInBadass grinds to level 99]].
* The civilian survivors in ''Film/TwentyEightDaysLater''.
* Arguably, Sam Witwicky in ''Film/{{Transformers}}'', and to a lesser degree [[HelloNurse Mikaela]].
* Stanley Goodspeed in ''Film/TheRock.''
* ''Film/{{Collateral}}'' has Jaime Foxx as this sort of protagonist.
* ''Bait'' features Jamie Foxx as a petty thief fresh out of jail who finds himself a pawn in a game played between federal agents and a thief they try to catch. In this case, Foxx's character has a fair bit of CombatPragmatist in him.
* Jack Burton from ''Film/BigTroubleInLittleChina''. Though he's the main protagonist, he's essentially a bumbling sidekick to the real heroes: both he and the viewers are left to puzzle over the details of the long-running conflict the rest of the heroes had already been fighting with the villain.
* Jason Tripitikas in ''Film/TheForbiddenKingdom'' (although he does [[TookALevelInBadass take a level in badass]] before it's over).
* Ben (1968) or Barbara (1990) in ''Film/NightOfTheLivingDead''.
* Arguably most Creator/JackieChan movies, with ''Who Am I?'' being the most notable.
* Subverted in ''Film/AHistoryOfViolence''. At the start of the movie, Viggo Mortensen's character seems to be an ordinary man in the right place at the right time, but is he?
* Michael in the 2004 version of ''Film/DawnOfTheDead2004''.
** And in the original ''Film/DawnOfTheDead'', Steve (a TV station's helicopter pilot) and Fran (a floor director). Peter and Roger, being SWAT cops, don't really count.
* John [=McClane=], from ''Franchise/DieHard'', was initially an Action Survivor ''ActionHero''. In fact, the movie became an instant classic largely because of the contrast between [=McClane=] and the ubermensch ActionHero characters of Creator/SylvesterStallone, Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger, and a million B-movie "stars". Not to say that [=McClane=] isn't a certifiable {{badass}}, but in the first movie, he's pretty much an ordinary cop thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and he spends much of the film bleeding and swearing at his ill fortune in having been caught up in the plot.\\
\\
His sidekicks in each movie, none of whom wanted to get involved, are more traditional Action Survivors. Officer Al Powell was picking up Twinkies, Zeus Carver was just looking after his electronics shop, and the Justin Long guy was a dweeby hacker.
** On the other hand, Zeus Carver is kind of a [[Creator/SamuelLJackson badass motherfucker]].
* Ellen Ripley in the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' series. But as her character is increasingly subjected to this in the series, she becomes more of an orthodox ActionHero trope. Throughout, she manages to retain most of her sensitivity and humanity, but learns how to be {{badass}} when necessary along the way.
* Roxanne Ritchi in ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}'', an intrepid reporter who, through repeated kidnappings and familiarity with Evil Lairs, has become both resourceful and DangerouslyGenreSavvy.
* ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}''
** Sarah Connor is especially this in the first film, but TookALevelInBadass and has changed completely to {{Badass}} ActionHero by the second movie.
** In ''Film/Terminator3RiseOfTheMachines'', Kate Brewster -- aside from a moment where she shoots down an Hunter-Killer, prompting John to say she reminds him of his mom.
* ''Film/{{Innerspace}}'' - Mild-mannered hypochondriac Jack Putter (Martin Short) finds himself mixed up in a war between the evil corporation and the US government. Mind you, the original reason he took matters into his own hands was the prospect of having a tiny little corpse rotting inside of his body. At the end of the movie, though, when he realizes that a life of adventure is more fun than what he originally had, he grabs onto it with both hands.
* Theo in ''Film/ChildrenOfMen'' is a depressed white-collar worker who spends most of the movie getting shot at and never picks up a gun or any kind of weapon at all [[spoiler:except a [[ImprovisedWeapon discarded car battery]], which he drops immediately after smashing someone across the face and flees]]. He manages to get Kee all the way to the Human Project while constantly running from people who are trying to kill him. Of course, he [[spoiler:doesn't actually ''survive'' the film]].
* The Roy O'Bannon character in ''Film/ShanghaiNoon''. According to [[WordOfGod Owen Wilson]], the character was originally intended as a more straightforward ActionHero, but he and the producers re-tooled the character into a cross between Action Survivor and {{Honest John|sDealership}}.
%%* The protagonists of ''Film/EagleEye''.
* Literature/JackRyan in ''Film/TheHuntForRedOctober''. Though he was once a Marine his main job before saving the world was as a DeskJockey for the CIA. "Next time, Jack, write a goddamn memo."
* Wikus from ''Film/{{District 9}}'', who starts out as an office worker before [[spoiler:his ViralTransformation into an alien makes him a {{MacGuffin G|irl}}uy.]]
* Quite a few Creator/HarrisonFord roles are of this type of protagonist:
** Jack Ryan in two of the [[TheFilmOfTheBook movie adaptations]] of Creator/TomClancy "[[Literature/JackRyan Ryanverse]]" books.
** ''Film/TheFugitive'' - Doctor Richard Kimble
** ''Firewall''
** ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' - Indy is an Action Survivor ActionHero AdventurerArchaeologist.
* Columbus of ''Film/{{Zombieland}}'', a ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''-playing HollywoodNerd who manages to survive a ZombieApocalypse mostly through being GenreSavvy. His previously-debilitating anxiety and phobias actually becoming [[ProperlyParanoid more rational and practical]] once said ZombieApocalypse happens.
** Also Wichita, and especially Little Rock, who is only twelve. Tallahassee is exempt, because he was a {{Badass}} to begin with.
* The titular character of ''Film/ShaunOfTheDead''. He works at an electronics store, enjoys getting drunk, listening to records loudly, and playing video games. His whole plan consisted of picking up his mother and girlfriend, and going to his favourite bar to enjoy a cold beer. In fact, [[spoiler:the only reason he survives is the timely arrival of the military.]]
* ''Franchise/EvilDead'' - Ash. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the films is him gradually becoming DangerouslyGenreSavvy to the point where he ''does'' the stuff you normally yell at people on the screen for not doing:
-->'''Ash:''' It's a trick. Get an Axe.
* Terri Doolittle (Creator/WhoopiGoldberg) from ''Film/JumpinJackFlash.'' She's a bank worker who finds herself on the run from international spies after she accidentally intercepts a message from a British secret agent using the eponymous alias.
* Creator/AnthonyHopkins plays a millionaire magazine publisher in ''Film/TheEdge'' who finds him self in a survival situation involving a crashed plane, mother nature's wrath, a [[BearsAreBadNews hungry bear]] and a murder plot. He comes out of it all pretty well.
* [[BadassNormal Wedge Antilles]] from ''Franchise/StarWars''; despite lacking the Force, PlotArmor, or even a military background, this lone pilot saves Luke's life in the [[Film/ANewHope original film]], survives the battle of Hoth and was the only pilot to successfully take out an AT-AT in ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', and became the only man to survive both Death Star attacks, earning him EnsembleDarkHorse status in fandom.
* Sam Flynn in ''Film/TronLegacy''. He's not [[LightningBruiser wicked agile]] like [[TheDragon Rinzler]]. He's not [[NighInvulnerability nearly invincible]] like [[BigBad Clu]]. He's not a [[PhysicalGod demiurge]] like his father.
-->'''Sam Flynn''': I'm a User... [[IndyPloy I'll improvise.]]
** His dad ''started'' as this in [[Film/{{Tron}} the first film]]. He just happened to be ''very'' good at video games and [[TheDragon Sark]] was under direct orders to keep Kevin in the games until he died playing (much for the same reason Tron himself wasn't killed; Master Control wanted the User-Believers broken. Killing the User-Believer champion and an actual User would demoralize any who opposed). From there, it was one crazy IndyPloy to the next because he ''didn't know'' what he was doing with his User abilities.
* Joan Wilder in ''Film/RomancingTheStone'' is a classic case. Starting out as a romance novelist who barely leaves her dowdy apartment, she ventures off to aid her sister and becomes . . . a romance novelist who lives her plot lines.
* The eponymous ''Film/MysteryTeam''.
* A number of Hitchcock's heroes fall into this, but especially Roger O Thornhill, in ''Film/NorthByNorthwest''.
* ''Film/ElMariachi'' has a rare action hero example. The Mariachi is on the run throughout the film and survives through cunning and dumb luck. This aspect of his character fades away in the sequels as he [[TookALevelInBadass takes a level in badass.]]
** ''Film/{{Apocalypto}}'' has a similar feel to it. The main character is running scared through much of the movie, although by the end, he makes a stand.
* Cliff Secord aka ''Film/TheRocketeer''.
* Babe in ''Film/MarathonMan'' is the definition of this trope. He spends the majority of the film just barely escaping the bad guys through sheer luck. His only special ability is running away. However, by the the time the movie is over he has [[TookALevelInBadass Taken a Level in Badass]].
* In ''Film/WarOfTheWorlds'', the protagonist is (like in the novel, listed below) a dockworker trying to survive the alien invasion with his two children.
* Jack from ''Film/JackTheGiantSlayer''.
* Ed Okin (played by Jeff Goldblum) in ''Film/IntoTheNight''. He's an insomniac office drudge whose wife is cheating on him who gets pulled into a criminal conspiracy involving three different flavors of organized crime, the Iranian secret police, CIA and FBI agents, and even Elvis impersonators. At first its all he can do to merely keep his head above water. But by the end, he can face down an Iranian gunman with no hesitation at all.
-->'''Ed Okin:''' This is ridiculous. You... You're a big shot, huh? You got a gun. Now what, shithead? You. Huh? Maniac... ''[pauses and takes a deep breath]'' Let me ask you something. Maybe you can help me. What's wrong with my life? Why is my wife sleeping with someone else? Why can't I sleep?
* Lois in ''Film/ManOfSteel'', who with an unfamiliar weapon and the help of Jor-El's VirtualGhost, manages to fight her way off Zod's ship. She clearly has no fighting experience and visibly fumbles with the Kryptonian gun, but she is definitely no DistressedDamsel.
* Sam Chamberlain from ''Film/TheWorldsEnd''.
* In ''{{Taken}} 2'', Kim goes from being the DamselInDistress from the original to this. She helps her father break out of confinement, and later [[BackseatDriver drives both to the embassy following instructions from]] PapaWolf.
* ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}'':
** Joe Brody survives the first incident in the nuclear plant. [[spoiler:But he's KilledOffForReal when the male Muto awakens.]]
** Ford Brody. With the Mutos and Godzilla, the best you can do is stay out of the way and hope for the best.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Gamebooks]]
* In ''Literature/CanYouSurviveTheZombieApocalypse'', you are an average person working a corporate job when the ZombieApocalypse hits.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Katniss in ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', to an extent. Most of the plot comes together because of her spontaneous decisions, as well as outside characters forcing into situations; she even mentions at the end of the first book that she'd rather just live a normal life.
* Richard Mayhew in ''Literature/{{Neverwhere}}''. Survivor really is the word here, as the sole fact that he lived to see the ending is an ample feat of {{badass}}ery.
-->"If you can survive for the next day or two," he confided, "you might even make it through a whole month."
* Rincewind the 'Wizzard' from ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''. The man is a champion runner, great at improvising and never willingly goes along with insane plans. [[CosmicPlaything Not that that stops it from happening]]. Of course, since he is ''literally'' The Lady's [[CosmicPlaything plaything]], the extraordinary coincidences are no accident. At this point, due to some of his companions and their publications, so many people know about him and his penchant for surviving ''anything'' the universe can throw at him that they genuinely believe he is amazingly good at what he does.
--->'''Ridcully:''' I think you're all missing the key point here. Chap survives. Talented.
** His personal philosophy is "It doesn't matter where you're running, it only matters where you're running from." Seems like a good mantra for any Action Survivor.
** Nobby might qualify as well. After all, he's "survived countless massacres by not being there".
* Bilbo Baggins, the titular protagonist of ''Literature/TheHobbit'', is pushed out of his front door on an adventure he doesn't want to go on, playing a role he has no idea how to play (he's recruited as a "burglar"). He is rather inept at first, but finding The One Ring helps him a great deal and in Mirkwood especially he comes up with some clever rescues for the Dwarves. He also notably spends the entire climactic battle unconscious, invisible because of the Ring and hit in the head by a stray rock. Other hobbits in related works have similar roles.
* OlderThanRadio: The protagonist of Creator/HGWells's ''Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' pretty much does nothing to actually advance the plot; he's little more than an observer of the unfolding Martian invasion. Better still, he's just trying to stay alive long enough to reunite with his wife, whom he had left with relatives when the Martians first touched down.
* Creator/HGWells uses this trope in several of his stories -- ''Literature/TheFirstMenInTheMoon'', ''Literature/TheSleeperAwakes'', and ''Literature/TheIslandOfDoctorMoreau'' all have an everyman protagonist recounting events almost entirely out of their control (although by the end of Sleeper the protagonist takes more of an active part).
* Creator/JulesVerne had a similar style to H. G. Wells, with ''Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea'' and ''JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth'' both featuring an Action Survivor narrator who does little other than recount the story while others engage in the actual action.
* Creator/JohnWyndham also uses this in ''Literature/TheDayOfTheTriffids'' and ''Literature/TheKrakenWakes''.
* Arthur Dent from ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''.
* David Wong from ''Literature/JohnDiesAtTheEnd''. David is completely unremarkable in almost every way, which makes him an unlikely hero when monster comes knocking at the door of the universe. The eponymous John fits too, as despite the fact that he's a little more competent than Dave, he's [[CloudCuckooLander totally nuts]]. In fact, if anyone in the story can fit the archetype of the ActionHero, it's Molly... the Golden Retriever.
* ''Everyone'' in ''Literature/{{Nation}}'', including [[TheObiWan a wizened priest]], [[WitchDoctor a toothless old woman]], a pregnant woman, a woman [[HeroicBSOD so broken in the brain-pan]] she is incapable of caring for her own child (yet still gets a CrowningMomentOfAwesome), and the two [[BreakTheCutie teenaged protagonists]].
* Professor Jerry Lukacs of ''Pyramid Scheme'' isn't the only person to have gotten sucked into his particular adventure (stranded in a primitive world where ''all'' of Earth's myths are real) but other than that he's a pretty classic example of this trope.
* In Dean Ing's ''[[Literature/KnownSpace Man-Kzin]]'' stories "Cathouse" and "Briar Patch", Carroll Locklear is a skinny civilian ethologist captured by the Kzinti when they attack the ship he was traveling on; he toughens up fast. (Notably, by the end of the first story the only one of his original captors still living is the one who's come over to his side.)
* Ron Weasley in ''Literature/HarryPotter'', a self-deprecating [[TheEveryman everydude]] who ends up in battle usually out of loyalty to Harry. Initially [[RememberedICouldFly common sense]] and [[YouShallNotPass loyalty]] are his biggest assets, but by the end of the series he's hardened enough to hold his own in serious battle.
* Raul Endymion, of the later half of the ''Literature/{{Hyperion|Cantos}}'' books, is a not-wholly-remarkable human who ends up having to run away from some absurdly powerful super-beings, usually thanks to some very lucky flukes... [[spoiler:until he ends up killing one of them one-on-one, anyway.]]
* Five of the seven Beta clones in ''Literature/SeventhSon'' are civilians with no combat or self-defence training who have to learn how to fight and shoot on the fly. They have the "running away" part down to a fine art, though.
* [[spoiler: Bubo the rat]] from ''Literature/ANightInTheLonesomeOctober'' isn't actually a part of the Game, yet he manages to not only discover what's going on, but to play a subtle yet pivotal role in its outcome. Not bad for a mundane [[spoiler:rodent]].
* [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Wedge]] [[Comicbook/XWingSeries Antilles]], at least in his early-set appearances. Experience makes him more of an ActionHero eventually, and a ReasonableAuthorityFigure, but he's the designated survivor in his 'verse, the anti-RedShirt who is the only one not blessed with the Force, unusual skills, or obvious PlotArmor to live through everything.
** Zak Arranda in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear''. His sister Tash is Force-Sensitive and usually benefits from it when things get too harrowing, but he doesn't have that extra guidance. He's also twelve.
* ''Literature/NightWatcher'' - Despite already being a CowboyCop, Captain Kotov during his first encounter with a vampire, being taken completely unaware at first, then freaking out and going into a survive-above-all mode. He came out of it okay physically [[SociopathicHero but not mentally]].
* ''Literature/DeceptionPoint'' - Rachel Sexton, Michael Tolland and Corky Marlinson, a data analyst and two civilian scientists find themselves on the run from military black ops assassins.
* Creator/TomHolt's frequently uses this for his protagonists:
** Paul Carpenter from the ''Literature/JWWellsAndCo'' trilogy - [[spoiler: halfway through book two, he turns out to be TheChosenOne,]] but it doesn't really help at all.
** David Perkins from ''Literature/FallingSideways'' is a hapless nebbish who was not prepared to deal with super-intelligent alien frogs.
* ''Literature/ThePostman'' - Gordon Krantz, the titular postman in Creator/DavidBrin's novel.
* Robin Goodfellow from the ''CalLeandros'' series. Though loyal to Cal and Niko, he would rather not go into battle if not required. And centuries of running from the angry fathers of his girlfriends... and boyfriends... has made him very fleet of foot.
* [[Literature/ThePendragonAdventure Bobby Pendragon]] fits this trope to a T until he [[TookaLevelinBadass takes a level in Badass]].
* Poor [[TheLongingOfShiinaRyo Shinsou.]] All he really want is a normal life, but the Universe isn't quite done yet with its CosmicPlaything.
* In ''Literature/SherlockHolmes'', Watson tries to give this trope a go when Holmes is presumed dead. He doesn't get very far, though.
* Tyrion Lannister of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' is a dwarf, but is more than capable of surviving the occasional scuffle by his own wit and guile, and by holding some passable fighting skills in his own right.
* Skeeter Jackson, in ''Literature/TimeScout'', as a child finds himself accidentally [[spoiler:in medieval Mongolia]], where he has to struggle desperately to survive, with no more training than a neglected child of a wealthy, modern family might have[[note]]i.e. none[[/note]].
* [[WellWorld Nathan Brazil and Mavra Chang]] go through some horrifying things, like the Holocaust or being temporarily deformed into bastardized farm animals, but they always return to normal in the end. It helps that surviving is their super power, and everything BUT dying can happen to them.
* Kitty of Literature/TheBartimaeusTrilogy counts as this, once saying that her only real skill is surviving. Bartimaeus says something to the effect of surviving being one of the better skills out there.
* Simon in the ''Literature/MortalInstruments'' series starts out as this, since he's the only {{mu|ggles}}ndane main character and is only sticking around because of [[LoveInterests Clary]].
* J. Eugene Raxford in Donald E. Westlake's ''The Spy in the Ointment'' was a minor social activist before the FBI drafted him into infiltrating an umbrella organization which had mistaken his group for a similarly-initialed group of minor terrorists.
* Eliza and her husband George in ''Literature/UncleTomsCabin''. One scene is based on the real-life story of Eliza Harris (see Real Life below).
* Richard from ''Literature/ThePowerOfFive''. Small-town journalist drawn into saving the world because Matt once called out telepathically for help. But he has followed Matt all over the world and done his best to protect him, without the benefit of training or powers, and is still alive as of the BittersweetEnding of ''Oblivion''.
* Pi Patel from ''LifeOfPi'' is a scrawny, bookish ordinary teenager with no special knowledge beyond having been [[ChekhovsSkill raised by a zookeeper]]...who manages to not only survive a shipwreck and 277 days alone in the Pacific with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a ''tiger'', but also [[spoiler: a crazy cannibal and an island that eats people]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Mitchell and George in ''Series/BeingHuman''. They are underestimated so much that it's a shock when at the end of Series 1 [[spoiler:George kills Herrick and gets Nina to become a werewolf too]].
* Xander on ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' walks the line between this trope and BadassNormal throughout the course of the series.
** As of Season 8 he's Badass Normal. Losing an eye will do that to you.
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' - Chuck himself.
** [[TookALevelInBadass Until]] [[EmpoweredBadassNormal later]]...
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' - A fair number of The Doctor's many companions can be characterised as Action Survivors, normal folk catapulted into the Doctor's dangerous life.
** It caused Rose, Jackie, Martha, Mickey and Captain Jack (who was a combo of CowardlyLion and LoverNotAFighter when he met the Doctor), to take ''serious'' levels in {{Badass}}. Captain Jack is an Immortal ActionHero, like a James Bond for the 51st century, Martha and Mickey are freelance Alien hunters and Rose and Jackie were last seen wielding a {{BFG}} each.
** Both Rory and Amy have taken this even further. The Last Centurion and the head of Area 52.
** This also goes for most members of Series/{{Torchwood}}, particularly Gwen and Tosh (Owen mainly TookALevelInJerkass, but when you know his back story, he goes to extreme JerkassWoobie territory, and he is pretty badass). Both are at first shell shocked at the sight of gunfire. Then they...learn to cope with it.
** Compared to the other Doctors, the Fifth Doctor can be seen as this
* ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' - Zone and Mag in the AfterTheEnd FlashForward and DistantFinale are eventually revealed to have formerly been a landscape architect and a sociology grad student, respectively.
* Stiles of ''Series/TeenWolf'', who's an untrained human among werewolves and hunters.
* Sean and Leila of ''Series/TheEvent''.
* Crichton on ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', especially for the first two seasons. Most of his more badass moments are due to dumb luck and bluffing.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': Simon Tam. He does have some {{badass}}ery but that is largely because he is such a {{determinator}} PapaWolf about River. He prefers to be just a reasonably nice NonActionGuy.
* Most everyone involved in action scenes in ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' tend to fall in the {{Badass}} category, but every now and then we have action survivors like Henry Higgins and Sam Weiss. William Bell somewhat falls in this category, but leans more so towards BadassGrandpa territory given that he can more than hold his own during a shootout.
* Dave of ''Series/HellsKitchen'', season 6. [[spoiler:In one episode, he performs extraordinarily well despite his situation]].
* ''Series/TheInvisibleMan'': Darien Fawkes.
* Most of the stranded characters of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' were ordinary people who ended up doing extraordinary things in the name of self-preservation. A few became cold-blooded murderers while the rest shot, stabbed and blew up whoever or whatever threatened their lives.
* While the growth of Bulk and Skull of ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' is mostly in terms of character, we do get occasional scenes of them fighting monsters when they absolutely have to, in a couple of occasions actually saving the Power Rangers, and in their [[Awesome/PowerRangersInSpace Crowning Moment of Awesome]], [[spoiler: standing up against Astronema to buy the Rangers more time, and leading the charge against the armies of evil]].
* Sam Oliver (and Sock, Ben and Andi) from ''Series/{{Reaper}}''.
* ''Series/RedDwarf'' - The crew of the Red Dwarf is this. At least, Dave, Rimmer and The Cat. They all start out at pretty much the bottom rung of human (or hyper-evolved cat) existence. After [[EverybodysDeadDave everyone dies]] and they are left to fend for themselves in a hostile universe they slowly become more and more competent. While hardly Gordon Freeman or Ellen Ripley, they do manage to fight off a fair amount of hostile [=GELFs=] and other nasties. Dave and Rimmer end up noticeably less pathetic, and The Cat... well... at least he's aware that there are people other than himself.
* John Connor lives and breathes this trope throughout ''Series/TheSarahConnorChronicles''. As the future savior of humankind, John is too important to be sent out on missions or otherwise put in the line of fire. Instead, Terminators actively seek him out, with his allies constantly fighting to keep him safe. The few times he has had to go up against a Terminator alone, he demonstrates remarkable cunning, ingenuity, insight and downright sheer {{badass}}ery.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' gave their version of SelfDemonstrating/LexLuthor this as an actual "superpower" caused by his exposure to kryptonite when he was younger.
* Elena in ''Series/{{The Vampire Diaries}}'' is pretty competent while trying to defend herself. For example, when a strange vampire is trying to kill her, she stabs him with pencils - repeatedly - and then breaks a mop over her knee to try to stake him, and when a werewolf attacks her, she instantly sticks a knife into his gut. She's also adept at using her surroundings while trying to run away if pursued by a supernatural. This is magnified in Season 4 after she transitions. She goes so far as to kill Connor to protect her brother.
** Matt. He is one of the few characters who is human (after Elena becomes a vampire) and has no superhuman abilities.
* The titular character of ''Series/VeronicaMars'' is this in the few times she ''has'' to fight back. One shining example is her clawing one of the villains across the face with her fingernails, followed by stabbing him in the leg.
* Harrison Blackwood and Suzanne [=McCullough=] in the ''Series/WarOfTheWorlds'' television series. Blackwood is a kooky scientist who refuses to wield a gun through most of the series and carries a tuning fork to keep himself calm and collected. Many of the plots are motivated by him either getting trapped somewhere or staying one step ahead of the Morthren aliens (via the use of strange technology). Suzanne (as a fellow researcher and mother) also proves to be a capable fighter in several episodes, and goes along with the rest of the team in several dangerous missions.
* In ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' three of the female characters qualify: Laurel whose drive for justice and involvement with the Vigilante sometimes mean she has to fight off an attack using self-defense lessons (as opposed to actual martial arts/or battle training); Thea clocks a thug with a bottle in 1x23 to protect Roy; and Moira shoots the Vigilante when he comes to question her.
* Juliette Silverton, D.V.M., in ''Series/Grimm''. Mild mannered veterinarian who threw a pot of boiling water in the face of an ogre, punched out a weredragoness, and beat the stuffing out of a friend's abusive husband using ordinary household objects.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Roleplay]]
* While much of Roleplay/{{Dino Attack RPG}}'s cast consists of soldiers and other {{Action Hero}}es, many characters are just civilians who were suddenly thrust into the action. Examples include characters such as David "Hotwire" O'Neal or Minerva Fabello.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Gordon Freeman from ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life}}''. Over the course of the games, however, he has turned into an ActionHero, by the time of ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life 2}}'' he has become a leader of the Resistance. Breen even berates his troops for being unable to slow down, let alone stop, a theoretical physicist with a crowbar.
** This trope is played up at various points in ''Machinima/FreemansMind'' with regards to Gordon's inner thoughts.
** Barney Calhoun in ''Blue Shift''.
* Chell of ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'' has only a set of long-fall boots and a portal gun to help her against the city-sized industrial complex run by [=GLaDOS=], and yet by the end of the second game [[spoiler:said [=AI=] has come to the decision it's better to just let her go than try to kill her]].
* Isaac Clarke from ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'', who is just a simple engineer tasked with what he thinks is little more than a repair job. Most of his weapons, in fact, are mining tools. [[spoiler:Isaac could actually be argued as a {{deconstruction}} of one, as its heavily implied throughout the game, then said flat-out by Kendra near the end, that he's gone completely insane due to the incident.]]
** He isn't much tougher by ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2'', though justified in that he was mostly in stasis for the three years in between. The game mostly takes the concept further and details the kind of SanitySlippage that would understandably occur to people in Isaac's situation.
** Isaac also might not qualify in that he is specifically an Engineer trained to work in hostile, potentially fatal situations alone. He's had training on how to survive most things, and judging from the clearance to access some military weapons as well, probably general firearm training as well.
** From the prequel game, ''Extraction'', there's Doctor Karen Howell. Just a botanist, but she be hardcore.
* Frank West from ''VideoGame/DeadRising'' - an overzealous photojournalist after a big story. His character model from earlier versions of the game depicted him as being overweight.
* The various protagonists of ''Franchise/SilentHill'' games, except Alex from ''Homecoming'', who is a special forces soldier. [[spoiler:...or is he?]]
* Another survival-horror example... The protagonists from ''VideoGame/FatalFrame'' are regular, everyday women who get caught up in [[HauntedHouse haunted mansions]] and {{abandoned hospital}}s. Their only weapon? A ''camera.''
* The protagonists of ''VideoGame/Left4Dead''. Bill (a retired soldier) and Francis (a well built biker) aren't as "normal" as Zoey (college student) and Louis (office worker), however.
* The four characters of ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2''. Coach (an overweight high school football coach), Ellis (a mechanic), Rochelle (a young journalist), and Nick (a con man). Well, Nick isn't that normal, but he's no ActionHero.
* Ethan Mars from ''VideoGame/HeavyRain'', without a doubt. He started out with the American Dream, [[spoiler: only to have it all stripped away when his first son dies, he goes into a coma for months, his wife leaves him, and his second son is kidnapped]] Despite his lack of experience (He even states he has no idea how to use a gun), he can still [[spoiler:save the life of his son from a serial killer.]]
* Nathan Drake from the ''VideoGame/{{Uncharted}}'' series. Although he is a treasure hunter who is quite athletic and skilled with firearms, he looks and acts very much like an average Joe, panicking more than a few times throughout his adventure. His catchphrase is practically "OhCrap!". He's even more so in the sequel: when things get way too big for him, he's initially happy to walk away, but when it comes down to the wire, he jumps into the action with both feet. Of course, even when he does so, he knows he's in well over his head, and he barely makes it out alive. Lucky doesn't even begin to describe it; Sully even bows out of the adventure early because he "doesn't have [Nate's] luck."
** In ''Uncharted: The Golden Abyss,'' Nate points out they're up against professional killers. Sully says, "Well, we're professional ''survivors!'' They got nothing on us."
* The main character of ''VideoGame/ShadowOfTheColossus'', who, despite not being particularly athletic or skilled with his equipment, [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu takes on sixteen beasts that are hundreds if not thousands of times larger than he is]] (even if he is MadeOfIron).
* April, in ''VideoGame/TheLongestJourney'' and Zoe in ''[[VideoGame/DreamfallTheLongestJourney Dreamfall]]''.
* The most extreme example of this trope would be from the SNES game ''VideoGame/LesterTheUnlikely'', which stars a HollywoodNerd who ScreamsLikeALittleGirl and can barely defend himself. He has to SaveThePrincess... if he can stop running away screaming from ''tortoises''. [[spoiler:Thankfully, he gets much more confident before the end of the game.]]
* All of the main characters of ''VideoGame/IncredibleCrisis'' are all just family members (consisting of the {{Salaryman}} father, the housewife, the pudgy son and the teenage daughter) trying to get home for Grandmother's birthday, only for each to be caught up in their own series of bizarre situations.
* The Hacker in the original ''VideoGame/SystemShock'', where the only thing didn't make him quite normal was the Military-Grade Neural Interface.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' - Cloud Strife used to be this, ''VideoGame/CrisisCore'' and ''VideoGame/BeforeCrisis'' shows him as a plain old infantryman, only distinguishable by his motion sickness and his ability to make it through missions when all the other Mooks get killed off. When his [[DoomedHometown hometown]] gets it however, he cracks down and becomes a BadassNormal, doing what none of the Turks and [=SOLDIERs=] that safeguarded him until now were able to do: kill Sephiroth. After which [[MadScientist Hojo]] jumped at the opportunity to make him an EmpoweredBadassNormal.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'': Tidus prior to coming to Spira never wielded a sword in his life, [[InstantExpert but he picks up on it very quickly]] and is able to cultivate a highly effective fighting style based on the [[LightningBruiser high speed]] he has from his career of as a professional Blitzball player.
** It's inferred that he might have received training from his father beforehand since it was a 'gift from Jecht.'
* One of the backgrounds in ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' is "Recruit" - meaning Mike has essentially been recruited for the titular organization straight out of CIA training. As a result, he is entirely unprepared for the challenges that he ends up facing (up to and including [[spoiler: being betrayed and forced to go on the run]].) It actually makes the most sense as a background, [[spoiler: he was used due to the fact that he was expendable.]]
* VideoGame/AlanWake is a horror writer who spends most of the game dressed in a tweed jacket, possesses relatively unimpressive athletic abilities, and is better suited to run from his enemies than to stand and fight. That said, he manages to pull through thanks to his wits, his GenreSavvy nature (thanks to being a writer), and his superior survival instincts.
* The City Elf Warden in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' has limited weapons training, very little combat experience (fighting through Arl Howe's palace was probably their first actual battle) and has never seen a darkspawn before. S/he picks it up rather quickly.
* Hawke in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' was either a regular grunt in the Ferelden army or a barely-trained apostate mage. Once s/he gets to [[CityOfAdventure Kirkwall]], s/he starts to take levels in badass very quickly.
* Shas'la Kais in ''VideoGame/FireWarrior'' was a raw recruit thrown into a particularly hellish warzone, and pitted against [[RedshirtArmy Imperial Guardsmen]], {{Space Marine}}s, and not one but ''two'' Daemon Princes. He comes out of the fight victorious, but missing several limbs and in a coma.
* Fiona in ''VideoGame/HauntingGround'', an 18-year old art student who wakes up in a castle after a car accident that claimed both her parents. Despite having [[CanineCompanion Hewie]] and [[MysteriousInformant Lorenzo]] to aid her in her escape and numerous weapons scattered throughout, there are times when she has to use her wits to get out of sticky situations (pushing a bookshelf atop of [[AndCallHimGeorge Debilitas]] and [[spoiler: crushing him with a chandelier]], and tossing a jar of sulfuric acid at either [[CreepyHousekeeper Daniella]] or [[StalkerWithACrush Riccardo]].
* ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' occasionally dips into this trope. The most obvious examples come from the ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvilOutbreak Outbreak]]'' subseries, which star perfectly average citizens of Raccoon City. Claire Redfield during the events of ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvil2 2]]'' counts, since she's merely a college student with some general self-defense training from her brother Chris at that point. Leon from the same game counts to a lesser extent, being a rookie cop with zero experience on the job, though his formal police training presumably makes him more qualified than Claire.
* Like the Flynns above, Jethro "Jet" Bradley from ''VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh'' was just a game designer and got "drafted" by Ma3a to combat a nasty virus from inside {{Cyberspace}}. By the end-game, he's fighting off hordes of digitized ''mercenaries'' sent by the rival company. It's given a brutal {{deconstruction}} in the spin-off comic, though, as the fellow winds up [[ShellShockedVeteran in bad shape mentally]].
* The Player is this in ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'' compared to other characters from action games. You'll grow more powerful over time, but combat revolves around being defensive, and blocking and dodging rather than just annihilating opponents.
* Practically any civilian in the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series, just by virtue of being alive in a [[CrapsackWorld post-apocalyptic wasteland]] with EverythingTryingToKillYou.
* The ''VideoGame/SecretFiles'' series has this in both of its protagonists. Neither [[WrenchWench Nina]] or [[AdventureArchaeologist Max]] are action heroes, and spend most of the game putting random tools together and [[BatmanGambit trying to outwit the bad guys.]] The only real subversion is that Max is pretty much MadeOfIron, but he gets [[DistressedDude put in situations where it usually doesn't do him a damn bit of good.]]
* Rare female example and highly unusual for a fighting game, but Pyrrha from ''[[VideoGame/SoulSeries Soul Calibur 5]]''. Pyrrha's awkward stance, clumsy throws, strong aversion to killing and even wounding, and timid disposition indicate that she has little in the way of skill or experience. She clearly gets through her battles through fighting with [[CombatPragmatist the desperation of a cornered rat]] than any skill, strength, or courage. Although anyone who has seen [[ActionMom Sophitia]]'s [[GroinAttack main throw]] knows that this [[LamarckWasRight runs in the family]].
* Pretty much everyone from ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead''. It's a ZombieApocalypse setting, the natural habitat of the Action Survivor. What do you expect?
* ''VideoGame/ClockTower: The First Fear'', wherein 14-year-old Jennifer Simpson is brought to the Barrows Mansion with her friends Ann, Lotte and Laura on the pretense of a new family. When her friends and Ms Mary disappear, all she's got are her wits and (occasionally) [[ImprobableWeaponUser a wooden plank]] to survive the ensuing horror. Her friends (particularly Lotte) get the action part at times, but not the survivor.
* ''{{Ib}}'': The main characters could all be called this; all they have throughout the game are their [[SoulJar roses]], minds and (in Mary's case) a palette knife to counter the malevolent monsters in the Gallery World.
** [[spoiler:Mary is actually an aversion, as she's later revealed to be the antagonist, but even she earns this title during the Together Forever ending. Just her methods are slightly... [[KarmaHoudini underhanded]].]]
* In the 2013 ''[[VideoGame/TombRaider2013 Tomb Raider]]'' reboot, Lara Croft begins as a terrified twenty-something archaeology grad just trying to survive after being shipwrecked. She already has some wilderness survival training in her background, but is so green she ''apologizes'' to a deer she has to kill for food and has absolutely no combat experience or training. Her first human kill is a horribly traumatizing experience that leaves her in tears, and it's only because the world she finds herself in is kill-or-die that she's able to [[ItGetsEasier do it again]]. By the end of the game, she's [[BeautyIsNeverTarnished battered]], bloody, [[ClothingDamage torn up]] and probably suffering [[ShellShockedVeteran PTSD]], but she [[TheDeterminator just keeps on going]].
* Ellie in ''VideoGame/TheLastOfUs'' fits the trope. She's just 14, and has never known the world before the cordyceps infection. She starts off green, but gradually learns to survive by watching Joel, to the point that she takes care of him after he's badly injured. Joel fits in some ways, and definitely was an action survivor at one point, but 20 years of living in the ruins of society have changed him. Despite his age he's tough and strong, and is willing to kill and torture to survive and protect Ellie.
* Eight of the twelve protagonists of ''EternalDarkness'' are, in the words of one reviewer, "one blonde college student, a peasant dancer, a puppy-dog messenger ... a [doctor] wearing a powdered wig, a monk with no weapons ... a fat architect, a nearsighted old guy, and an anemic photographer". All of them are very much capable of standing up to the brunt of the forces and powers the {{Eldritch Abomination}}s bent on invading our realm[[spoiler:, with the "anemic photographer" taking down a fearsome guardian second in power only to its Ancient and living a long life afterwards]]. Often, it takes effort from [[TheDragon Pious]] himself to dispose of them[[spoiler:, and even then, the mighty liche who could bind Mantorok fails to kill both Lindsey and Alex.]]
* The Dragonborn in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' starts as this, barely escaping the chopping block and the subsequent destruction of Helgen, before making their way to Whiterun and helping to defend the city against another Dragon attack. It's only after [[YourSoulIsMine asborbing the soul]] of the latter slain Dragon and demonstrating [[MakeMeWannaShout the Thu'um]] that that they [[AngelUnaware discover]] that they were a walking DivineIntervention all along.
* Leandra from ''VideoGame/JoeDeversLoneWolf'' is a female example of this, having spent several days in her village, overrun with Giaks.
* Red of ''VideoGame/{{Transistor}}'' is another female example of this, starting the game as nothing more than a popular and well known singer in Cloudbank and ending the game as the uncontested master of the Transistor.
* The tourist class in ''{{Nethack}}'' plays like this. In the beginning, a tourist starts with some gold, a lot of food, an expensive camera, a Hawaiian shirt, some scrolls of magic mapping...and not much else that would help him or her survive a dungeon full of angry monsters and deadly traps. What is more, his or her physical and mental stats tend to be mediocre at best, and to add insult to injury, shopkeepers will see the tourist as an easy mark and raise their prices. All that being said, if the tourist does manage to make it into the second half of the game, the combination of a jack-of-all-trades status and a powerful artifact will make the class one of the strongest for facing the final battles. Of course, that's a big if.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'' has The Baker and Cinderella, neither of whom are particularly adept at fighting off all the craziness that comes their way in the musical. Nonetheless, they both prove to be extremely resourceful, determined, and surprisingly courageous. And along with two other characters, they successfully manage to overcome and defeat the BigBad in the end, after [[spoiler: everyone else dies]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Moloch von Zinzer from ''Webcomic/GirlGenius''. A former soldier who became a mechanic because "[[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20031128 it makes you more valuable]]". Got away alive and with equipment to sell once Klaus crushed his boss. Survived when their "[[WalkingTank gunboat]]" was blown up by Bang. "Inherited" a brain-freezing device that killed his brother only to accidentally break it. Eventually was PutOnABusToHell... and when the protagonist walked into the biggest DeathTrap of Europe, she found him there alive and well, and only slightly crankier than before.
-->'''Moloch:''' [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20080917 Nobody "sent me."]] I don't ''have'' any "secret knowledge." I just don't want to ''die.''\\
'''[[McNinja Violetta]]:''' I don't believe you! That's ''cheating!''
* John Egbert of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' is very much this, although less so for his friends who either start out pretty BadAss to begin with or have a BewareTheNiceOnes streak. Some of the trolls (Tavros and Gamzee in particular) also spring to mind.
** The rarely-seen "fedorafreak" is the comic's biggest example, being a completely ordinary if hat-obsessed man who might also be the last surviving human on Earth, drawing sustenance from his own urine. [[spoiler:Then he died on what was implied to be a quest bed--which means he'll come back to life as god-tier.]]
* The [[TheStoryteller teller]] Koark in ''Webcomic/OrderOfTales'' is a textbook example: initially a pampered son of a scholarly sect, he finds himself forced to take up the role of a legendary hero by the end of the story.
* Teri in ''Webcomic/RipAndTeri'' is an English teacher in a spy thriller.
* Sam of ''Webcomic/SamAndFuzzy''. A cabbie who got tangled up with the affairs of the ninja mafia, he is decidedly non-actiony.
* Zoe has to play this role a lot in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' since she's the UnfazedEveryman of the team. Since becoming one of the strip's {{Weirdness Magnet}}s, she's had to defend herself from vampires, demons, {{Eldritch Abomination}}s, zombies, {{brainwashed}} assassins, and even [[KillerRabbit rabbits]]. All with no special skills beyond occasionally [[InvoluntaryShapeshifting turning into a camel]]. She mainly gets by on luck, cleverness, and the fact that almost everyone else in the ''Sluggy'' universe is an idiot.\\
Torg, to lesser extent. While he's usually a little more enthusiastic than Zoe about the weirdness that surrounds them, and has [[TookALevelInBadass Taken A Level In Badass]], he is for the most part just a normal guy thrust into bizarre situations that, statistically, should have killed him at least a dozen times by now.
* Most of the eponymous [[DisasterScavengers salvage workers]] in ''Webcomic/TheZombieHunters'', particularly Jenny, as it comes with the territory of living through a ZombieApocalypse.
* This is a very good description of the title character of ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob.''
* ''Webcomic/WhatItTakes'' stars an Action Survivor, Colbey.
* Ship Leesoo from ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod''. Having the lowest fighting stats of all, he must rely purely on his smarts and running away abilities (though he can fight, it's just not that amazing when everyone else is terribly powerful). He mainly survived at first because he got teamed up with [[MasterSwordsman Hatsu]] and [[LittleMissBadass Anak]], but then proved to be smarter than, well, TheSmartGuy, Koon. He also does an [[TeamDad embarrassingly good job of taking care of his companions.]]
** Unlike other Action Survivors, he was however intentionally climbing the Tower.
* Former minion Maximilian Macallister of ''{{Webcomic/Metacarpolis}}'' received Mook training but is neither large nor aggressive by nature and has "the sprint of a man who has faced many perils...and has run from every one."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The titular character of ''WebVideo/{{Chapel}}'' is one of the rare female versions of this trope. She's a drug dealer who rarely wins, but usually, of course, survives. So far.
* The Pelvanida scientists from the first ''Roleplay/DarwinsSoldiers'' RP proved themselves to be this trope just by surviving. After that, they turned more into {{action hero}}es.
* The main cast from ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' with the possible exception of Sarge. Sure, they're technically soldiers, but half of them shouldn't be anywhere near a battle with their lousy excuse for combat skills, and they're regularly up against individuals who eat squads of real soldiers twice their size for breakfast. Yet, they keep surviving. Mostly.
* The protagonists of Blog/SevenshotKid fit this thanks to surviving multiple encounters with the supernatural.
* Due to most of the characters being {{Ordinary High School Student}}s, many, many characters in ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'' qualify, that it's practically impossible to name them all. Being stuck on a DesertedIsland and forced to kill your classmates does that to you.
* Ruby and Tom of ''Roleplay/RubyQuest''. Although Tom has his strength and they handle their {{Improvised Weapon}}s pretty well, they're mostly just trying to get by.
* The lead character in ''Quick Draw'' is a Harvard-educated sheriff in the Wild West who can shoot well but is usually overmatched and doesn't fight well. He willingly chose to be a sheriff but he probably didn't understand some of the finer points of the job. Much of the comedy stems from how he's not entirely a conventional action hero
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Tucker of ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''. He occasionally helps with his [[EverythingIsOnline knowledge of technology]], but he isn't as physically fit as Sam nor has superpowers like Danny, making him the most normal of the PowerTrio. Having the latter as his best friend, it's natural he gets to go on grand adventures against dangerous ghosts. It's a bloody miracle he survived all those battles.
* Noah from ''WesternAnimation/GeneratorRex'' is this.
* [[WesternAnimation/MightyMax Max, AKA "The Mighty One,"]] chosen by destiny to destroy the evil Skullmaster, fits the trope to a T. Constantly thrust into the most unusual circumstances he repeatedly saves the world with only his wits and a magic cap.
* C-3PO in ''Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO'' blatantly dislikes danger, but he often resorts to duplicity to get things done and always emerges the better for it, contrasting somewhat with the more passive and bumbling character in the films. R2-D2, however, is much more of a dynamic Inspector Gadget-type.
* Fry is occasionally one of these in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', usually due to his lack of a delta brainwave [[spoiler:[[GrandfatherParadox as a result of becoming his own grandfather]]]].
* Eileen from ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'' proves she's one in "Camping can be Cool".
* ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog''. Throughout the series he has faced horrors that would make most people quake with fear. But he always gathers his wits and saves the day while screaming all the way.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* George VI. While it seems odd making this role for a King, he didn't like being King and very much felt TheChainsOfCommanding but he did his duty and so helped inspire numerous British who did not want to have a "Finest hour" but somehow did so. He also fits the Trope by virtue of being a SpareToTheThrone, and thus lacking the training a king normally would receive before taking on the job.
* ANYONE who has lived through war, natural disasters, or any life threatening situation counts.
* To an extent, the human species itself. We're designed to live in tropical environments, (hence the lack of hair--it's thought to be an adaptation that favors sweating, allowing us to [[FragileSpeedster outrun a lot of things in Africa]]). Yet we have become capable of living in pretty much ''any'' climate despite lacking claws, fangs, fur, or other built-in survival gear. For example, if you drop a human off into the woods with nothing but the clothes on their back, they can make a fire, fashion a makeshift knife from stones, and build a small shelter. It probably won't be very comfortable, but if a person knows what to do and how to do it, they'll live. If you take a penguin and drop it off in the woods, even if it had the intelligence and knowledge it would take to survive in the forest, it would not necessarily be able to do so due to a lack of hands.
* The town of Misrata in Libya. When Gaddafi's forces encircled the town during the 2011 civil war, its defenders were basically angry civilians with guns. By the time the siege was lifted months later, they were one of the better militias on the rebel side.
* One of ''Website/{{Cracked}}'''s [[http://www.cracked.com/article_20504_the-5-most-badass-ways-people-escaped-from-slavery_p2.html The 5 Most Badass Ways People Escaped from Slavery]] is how Eliza Harris carried several children across a river while jumping from one [[FloatingPlatforms moving ice platform]] to another as if it were a ''[[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario]]'' game. This is the true story ''Literature/UncleTomsCabin'' was based on.
[[/folder]]

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