->''"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. 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 protagonist a power upgrade via ancient prophecy/[[TheChosenOne the one-ness]], etc. Most films forgo this for BadassNormal. 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.
* 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 story'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 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:


[[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, 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. Not to mention, this opponent was apparently immortal.
* The [[spoiler:surviving]] members of the Japanese taskforce and the SPK in ''Manga/DeathNote.''
* Female versions: Suzu and Shoukei from ''Anime/TheTwelveKingdoms''. The first is a ShrinkingViolet who spends 100 years as the favorite [[TheChewToy Chew Toy]] of a RichBitch, then gains her freedom, but later simply doesn't know what to ''actually'' do with it and thus switches allegiances several times until she acknowledges that she has to take a side and stick to it. The second goes from a RoyalBrat with zero knowledge of the outside world, and then a PrincessInRags without any real will to change her attitude, to a PluckyGirl who helps LaResistance as much as she can and realises that she should have wised up a long time ago.
* 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: 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.
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho''
** Keiko Yukimura 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.
* ''Manga/{{Judge}}'' has [[spoiler: Okamoto Rina and her mother]] be the only surviving, innocent members of the titular game. The mastermind also survives [[KarmaHoudini with no repercussions]].
%%* 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 ''Franchise/DragonBall''. 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.
** There’s also [[TheChick Bulma]]. She is nowhere near capable of fighting alongside her empowered friends and family, but she's still usually going right alongside them for adventures and is generally able to survive everything with minimal or no injuries.
* Yukiteru Amano in ''[[Manga/FutureDiary Mirai Nikki]]'' 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.
* While on Earth, humans are still one of the dominant life forms in ''Manga/{{Digimon V Tamer 01}}'' and Digimon are nothing but data. In the Digimon World, everything is data and humans are, at best, strategists who are useful enough at something to gain protection from monsters.
* Wataru Takagi from ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' is a mix of your {{adorkable}} NiceGuy next door and archetypical HotBlooded cop, and as such he's managed to survive several times to life-threatening situation. In example, [[spoiler: when Takagi is in an ''horrible'' DeathTrap, he manages to keep his wits with him and does his best to keep himself alive until his co-workers and friends can rescue him]].
* Kyrie from ''Anime/SandsOfDestruction'' spends most of his time running from fights and trying not to end up a DistressedDude - which he often fails at. In the final episode, [[spoiler:his powers as the Destruct Code finally activate and he's able to deliver a CurbStompBattle to Aquilla Rex and his minions before Morte [[CooldownHug stops him from destroying the world, too]]]].
* Rickert from ''Manga/{{Berserk}}''. One of the younger and more naive members of the Band of the Hawk he survived 3 Apostles by sheer dumb luck and was rescued by the Skull Knight. While a decent swordsman in his own right he can't hold a candle to Guts and is woefully under-prepared to face the Apostles. When faced with the nightmarish monsters that have started appearing after reality gets bent he relies on his ingenuity and inventions to create weapons that can be used by the Everyman like him, including a [[GatlingGood rapid firing crossbow]] and fixing up a hose [[spoiler: that he later jury rigs into a [[KillItWithFire flame-thrower]]]].
* Almost all of {{Creator/Junji Ito}}'s protagonists are action survivors, since they're just normal people thrust into abnormal circumstances by random chance. Of course, how long they survive can vary greatly from one story to another.
* ''LightNovel/DateALive'': [[TheHero Shido Itsuka]] is just a normal guy living in extraordinary times and only becomes badass because circumstances force him to.
* ''LightNovel/InfiniteStratos'': Ichika Orimura has subpar training and his PoweredArmor is a FlawedPrototype, so you can expect him to lose in nearly all his fights. In the rare case he wins, it will be either through sheer luck, outside help or by the skin of his teeth. Even after [[TookALevelInBadass Taking A Level In Badass]], he still needs help from more experienced fighters.
* ''Anime/ReCreators'': Sota Mizushino has no superpowers like the fictional characters that have come to the real world and he is not even a skilled artist like his fellow Creators, which means all he can do is run away from fights and hope his friends can solve the crisis at hand.
* ''Anime/GrimmsFairyTaleClassics'':
** The Princess from "The Iron Stove" mixes this with some sprinkles of ActionGirlfriend, going through lots of risk to save her Prince from the Witch despite ''not'' being an ActionGirl.
** Lisbeth from "The Old Woman in the Woods" is the SoleSurvivor of the royal caravan she was traveling with and must fend off the attacks of the WickedWitch to save her own skin, with help of a talking owl...
* In ''Manga/MyHeroAcademia'', main protagonist Izuku Midoriya starts off as this, being one of the unlucky 20% of people who don't have superpowers. When All Might notices the boy's bravery and heroic spirit, he takes the boy under his wing and passes his Quirk upon him, with Izuku slowly but surely learning and training hard to control it.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The Jaime Reyes [[LegacyCharacter incarnation]] of the ''ComicBook/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.
* Given that the protagonists of ''Comicbook/{{Bone}}'' are mostly normal people thrust into a HerosJourney, there are a few of these.
** Fone Bone is by far the most notable example of this. He's very, very far from a being fighter (the most he ever does in combat is bean a couple of Rat Creatures on the head with rocks), but he can handle himself in dangerous situations, managed to survive in the wilderness throughout a ''really'' bad winter, and [[spoiler: is pretty much solely responsible for defeating the BigBad once and for all]].
** Thorn is a farm girl who's never seen a legitimate battle in her life, but has good reflexes and can use a sword with decent skill. However, after CharacterDevelopment, time, and a dab of {{Xenafication}}, she becomes more competant.
** Smiley Bone is an [[DumbIsGood innocent goofball]] most of the time who clearly should not be in the middle of the war the protagonists find themselves in, but still manages to scrape by the series' more dangerous encounters through a combination of [[TheFool dumb luck]] and [[LetsGetDangerous surprisingly good survival instincts]].
* Julie Martin from ''Comicbook/{{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 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.
* ''ComicBook/HaloUprising'': While Master Chief plows through hordes of aliens, the civilian Ruwan can only run from them. At least he's got [[ActionGirlfried his girlfriend]] to help him out.
* ''ComicBook/ScoobyApocalypse'': All of the main cast qualifies as they try to survive in a world full of violent mutants.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* 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, 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.
%%* Danielle Lee in ''FanFic/SalveSalvageAndSalvation''.
* In ''Fanfic/TheUltimateEvil'', an AlternateUniverseFic about the first two seasons of ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'', [[OriginalCharacter Valerie Payne]] is an ordinary university student who's involved in the Chan Clan's adventures when she's hired as a shop assistant at Uncle's Rare Finds. She's a bookworm who's not action type as much as the Chans, but she turns out to be surprisingly resourceful and is so able to assist her extended family much, [[TookALevelInBadass getting better in action over time]].
* ''FanFic/{{Swordsmen}}'': Atsuko, a photojournalist by profession, has learned enough necessary skills to be able to take care of herself. In fact, during her very first assignment as a war correspondent, she'd been taken captive by enemy forces, necessitating Kenshin to save her; however, she wound up saving him despite having taken a bayonet to the leg, by grabbing a soldier's shotgun and killing three combatants.
* ''FanFic/WhatLiesBeyondTheWalls'': Tegast is just a normal teenage rat who lost his entire family and wanders around Mossflower with little protection. The only reason why he hasn't died is because of ''pure luck'', and because he was smart enough to run when he knew he was outnumbered. By Book II, however, he finds other animals to aid him, and [[TookALevelInBadass he's slowly evolving into a more competent fighter]].
* Cross, the [[SelfInsertFic self-insert]] protagonist of ''FanFic/ThisBites'' is this, fullstop. In comparison to his crewmates, he isn't really a fighter. All of the battles he gets that aren't against Mooks into generally devolve to running from his enemy until he finds a way to either lose them or knock them out safely. Even then, he gets pretty injured, as attested by his many scars. The true reason as to why he qualifies for this is the fact that he ''doesn't'' really need to put himself in danger - as attested by Smoker - but he does so anyway for the sake of his friends and beliefs.
* ''FanFic/TheRWBYLoops'' turns Kali Belladonna into this during the Tale of Two Sisters. All the other featured non-loopers at least have some huntsmen and huntress training, making them BadassNormal by looper standards. Kali, however, is explicitly stated to be a civilian, only joining in the fight because she couldn't stand not knowing what happened to the rest of her family. By the end of the whole thing she's destroyed a factory, helped kill a vampire, befriended a bandit queen, and become an icon for her people--all within what's implied to be a few hours.
-->'''Kali:''' "I have no idea what I'm doing."
-->'''Zwei:''' "And nobody has noticed. That means you're doing excellently."
* ''Fanfic/ForumOfThrones'':
** Jenna Harking is nothing but a simple servicemaid in the castle of Raylansfair. She herself suffers from a terrible lack of self-esteem and starts the story with no actual skill in anything related to action. She goes on to become one of the story's most prominent survivors, after managing to hold her own against [[SerialKiller Wolfius]] for a while and slowly becoming a more capable and active person. She ultimately plays a key role in taking down [[SinisterMinister Septon Corbin]] and also provides a problem for [[ManipulativeBitch Sherryl]].
** Ellena Terys, the youngest of the Point-of-View characters, is barely a teenager and accordingly not equipped to take care of herself. She goes through great hardships, being resourceful, cunning and sometimes plain lucky. All the while, her main goal is to actually find a peaceful place to stay and live at.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Tip from ''WesternAnimation/{{Home}}'' manages to survive an alien invasion and other harrowing predicaments on her own (unless you count her cat, Pig), until she meets Oh, who isn't much help anyway. And she's a young teen, too.
* Roxanne Ritchi in ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}'', an intrepid reporter who, through repeated kidnappings and familiarity with Evil Lairs, has become resourceful.
* Sunny from ''WesternAnimation/StrangeMagic'' is an normal elf [[note]] Elves are about 3/5 the size of fairies who make up the rest of the cast in this universe.[[/note]] who is forced to break into [[EvilOverlord the Bog King's]] palace twice in the name of love. With some outside help and a good dose of ThePowerOfLove, he pulls it off both times.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''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 ''Film/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 Nazgûl 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/SpiderMan3'' 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 of a ZombieApocalypse in ''Film/TwentyEightDaysLater''.
* [[Film/TheThirdMan Holly Martins]] is just a writer, and manages to survive several attempted murders due to the fact that he looked too much into the death of a close friend. In the end, he even manages to [[spoiler:work with [[CopsAndDetectives the police]] and chase a [[WouldHurtAChild child-killing]], [[TheSociopath sociopathic]] drug lord [[DownTheDrain into the sewers]] and kill him.]]
%%* Most of the Jurassic Park cast, especially Alan Grant who is a paleontologist.
* President Moore in ''Film/BigGame'' can't fight anyhow, seems to be on verge of panick for bigger part of the movie and somehow blunders his way through the Finnish wilderness and the bad guys into safety.
%%* Jeanine Matthews from ‘’Film/{{Divergent}}’’ is this to an extent.
%%* 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 in ''Film/NightOfTheLivingDead1968'' is driven by the zombie outbreak to the farmhouse and has to prepare the place and himself to survive. Barbara [[Film/NightOfTheLivingDead1990 in the film's 1990 remake]] is given a similar treatment.
* Several Creator/JackieChan movies, with ''Who Am I?'' being the most notable.
* Early in ''Film/AHistoryOfViolence'', when Indiana restaurant owner Tom Stall manages to kill a pair of murderous robbers who were intent on robbing his restaurant and killing his staff and clientele, it appears that he's this. However, shorty afterward Philadelphia mobster Carl Foggerty comes to town and claims that Tom is actually Joey Cusack, a [[RetiredMonster former enforcer for the Irish mob]] who has been hiding from the mob for years under an assumed identity. The film then questions whether anyone could be as effectively and lethally violent as Tom was in foiling the robbers without having spent a lot of time learning and practicing how to do so.
* Michael in the 2004 version of ''Film/DawnOfTheDead2004''.
* And in the original ''Film/DawnOfTheDead1978'', 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.
* ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}''
** Sarah Connor is especially this in the [[Film/TheTerminator first film]], but TookALevelInBadass and has changed completely to badass ActionHero by the [[Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay 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 LivingMacGuffin]].
* 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
** ''Film/{{Firewall}}''
** ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' - Indy is an Action Survivor ActionHero AdventurerArchaeologist.
** Frantic - Doctor trying to find his wife in Paris.
* Evy's brother Johnathan in ''Film/TheMummy1999''. When we first meet Jonathan in 1925, he does things like hop into a sarcophagus and muse out loud that he'd rather like to join the dead. When Rick is faced with an awful situation, he says "I've had worse odds", and Jonathan replies "So have I." His age, improbable aiming skills, and ability to think quickly on his feet even though he gets scared of firefights are all part of the reason he is able to survive. He's also the exact age to have fought in World War I, though this is never addressed in story.
* Columbus of ''Film/{{Zombieland}}'', a ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''-playing HollywoodNerd who manages to survive a ZombieApocalypse mostly through being TaughtByExperience. 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 smart enough 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.
* 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 Thornhill in ''Film/NorthByNorthwest'', a New York advertising exec. One poorly-timed summon at a restaurant and he's thrust into a life-threatening conspiracy involving UsefulNotes/ColdWar espionage.
* ''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 DamselInDistress.
%%* Sam Chamberlain from ''Film/TheWorldsEnd''.
* In ''Film/{{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.
* Lisa from ''Film/RedEye'' is a mild-mannered hotel manager that managed to kick some terrorist ass when she found out innocent children (and [[DaddysGirl her father]]) were in danger.
* ''Film/TheDescentPart2'': When Sarah sees Dan and Rios being stalked unawares by a Crawler, she doesn't attack the Crawler or try to shout out a warning. Rather, she [[spoiler:tackles Rios and keeps her from making a sound while the Crawler attacks and kills Dan, then stealthily grabs Greg's supplies off of his body while the Crawler drags his corpse away]].
* In ''Film/JupiterAscending'', Jupiter spends most of the film needing to have things explained to her and be rescued. She starts learning cunning when [[spoiler:Titus kidnaps her]], but it's not a honed skill until [[spoiler: Balem tries to force her to abdicate]].
* ''Film/TheHungerGames'': Unlike most of his fellow tributes, Peeta lacks training and experience and has absolutely no experience in the wilderness.
* In ''Film/{{Nerve}}'', our hero is Vee, a shy, perfectly average high school senior who manages to survive increasingly dangerous dares and [[spoiler:fake her own death as part of a scheme to shut the titular game down for good]], all through her determination, resourcefulness, and brains alone.
* In the Australian horror film ''Film/NextOfKin1982'', Linda is just an average young woman forced to endure a terrible ordeal after inheriting an old retirement home from her late mother.

* In ''Literature/CanYouSurviveTheZombieApocalypse'', you are an average person working a corporate job when the ZombieApocalypse hits.
* ''Literature/BoneStreetRumba'' has Sasha P, who had to learn to cope in the world after a bad guy changed her from alive to dead, to a bit of each.
* ''Film/TheGalaxyInvader'': The green man fights back against his foes a couple of times.

* In ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', Jerin is thrown into an adventure he had no intention of being part of, and survives, using skills that up to then had just been hobbies, to outwit the villains. [[spoiler: More precisely, he is kidnapped, and has to escape, for which his lock-picking skills (yes, his family does that as hobby, and to honour family tradition) come in handy.]]
* Holtz in ''Literature/ReturnOfTheReaper''. Almost killed while fleeing his DoomedHomeTown, he gets rescued and trained by one of the deadliest creatures in the world. This lasts until he [[spoiler:drinks Beast's blood, after which it's a case of TookALevelInBadass]]
* Katniss in ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', to an extent. Most of the plot comes together because of her spontaneous decisions, as well as outside characters forcing her 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 badassery.
-->"If you can survive for the next day or two," he confided, "you might even make it through a whole month."
* In ''Literature/PresidentsVampire'', Zach Barrows is an aspiring White House bureaucrat with political ambitions who's assigned to be a liaison officer to a vampire. Usually, [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire Cade]] is skilled enough to keep both of them alive, but when he's incapacitated or not present, Zach proves to be good at surviving various supernatural and man-eating menaces.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** Rincewind the "Wizzard". 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.
** In ''Discworld/TheLastHero'', Rincewind announces that he does not wish to volunteer for a particular mission. When the Patrician points out no-one has asked him to, he says that he's volunteering even though he doesn't ''wish'' to because he's smart enough to know he's going to wind up on the mission regardless, so he figures he might as well get out in front of it. 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".
*** Most members of the Night Watch (barring Carrot Detritus and Angua) have this sort of approach to most situations, choosing to get away from trouble until the odds are heavily in their favour. Sam Vimes in particular manages to beat a clan of werewolves by running like hell until he can figure out a way to get the conflict onto his terms (though as a bloody minded cooper he does tend to seek out trouble an awful lot)
* Bilbo Baggins, the title 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 ''Literature/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 [[TheMentor 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, and the two [[BreakTheCutie teenaged protagonists]].
* Professor Jerry Lukacs of ''Literature/PyramidScheme'' 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/ManKzinWars'' 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.
* Decumus Scotti, the protagonist of ''[[Literature/TheElderScrollsInUniverseBooks A Dance in Fire]]'' and ''[[Literature/TheElderScrollsInUniverseBooks The Argonian Account]]''. He's just a clerk from the Imperial City who finds himself stuck in Valenwood during a war. Over the course of several weeks, he's nearly eaten by a giant tick, narrowly avoids being burned alive by Khajiit several times, is almost eaten by The Wild Hunt and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking is pestered by a poet]]. He comes out of the whole ordeal in surprisingly good shape.
* 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 ''Literature/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]].
* ''LightNovel/TheLongingOfShiinaRyo'': Poor Shin-tsu. 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. Like many, ''many'' tropes in the series, this gets {{Deconstructed|Trope}}, as he's disfigured in one battle, and nobody ever believes his heroics because they do not believe that someone with his handicap can actually put up a fight.
* 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]].
* ''Literature/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.
* ''Literature/TheWildOnes'' has Kit, who knows he's in no condition to fight, and instead relies on his trickery and words to get him out of danger. Even after he goes through loads of CharacterDevelopment, he still wasn't strong enough to [[spoiler:beat Sixclaw in a fight, and would've died had it not been for [[ChekhovsGunman Gayle]]]].
* 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/TheMortalInstruments'' 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 ''Literature/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]].
* ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'': Ivan Vorpatril, Miles Vorkosigan's cousin, becomes this in ''A Civil Campaign'' and ''Captain Vorpatril's Alliance''. He's an ordinary mid-level officer very happy with his desk job at HQ, thank you very much, and he did not intend to get into any firefights ever. But when dropped into the middle of them, whether [[spoiler: an attempted aggravated assault in a parking garage]] or [[spoiler: a holdup at a... sort of archaeological dig]], he thinks on his feet, holds his own, and could even be said to save the day--maintaining a thorough focus on getting everyone safely home, very much including himself.
* The core protagonists of the ''Literature/{{Everworld}}'' series are fitting. They're four average teenagers from a suburb outside of late 1990s/early 2000s Chicago that get caught up in a web of events surrounding a witch. After being unceremoniously dumped into another universe -- one where the heroes, gods, and monsters of mythology (not to mention aliens) exist -- they get by through a combination of 20th century knowledge, luck, improvisation, and a bit of help from the locals.
* ''Literature/KillDecision'': Linda may be a professor, not a hardened soldier, but she didn't survive years of field work in the African bush by being a wimp, and it shows.
* ''Literature/SuperheroesAnonymous'': Gail Godwin has been forced into this position as of the beginning of the first book. Nicknamed "Hostage Girl" by the press, she's the first target for any supervillain looking to get into the news and has had to nurture a number of skills to minimize collateral damage and to stay alive while being kidnapped by supervillains. Her ex-boyfriend Jeremy gets put in a similar spot by the heroes when they decide that his resemblance to the superhero Blaze makes him the perfect stalking horse.
* Mark Watney of ''Literature/TheMartian'', to some extent. Sure, getting through NASA's Astronaut Candidate Programme makes him far from ordinary, but he's got no particularly exceptional survival skills by the standards of the agency he works for and is the junior member of the Ares 3 team by some margin. And yet he manages to survive alone on Mars for over a year with nothing but [[ChekhovsSkill his Agricultural Science doctorate]], lots of [[MacGyvering ingenious jury-rigging]] and his apparently limitless reserves of [[{{Determinator}} sheer bloody-minded willpower]] and [[DeadpanSnarker snark.]]
* The title character in ''Literature/EdenGreen'' has no survival training, other than her self-taught, limited shotgun knowledge, and a painful needle symbiote she barely understands. When facing down alien needle monsters, she has to rely on ingenuity and luck. Lucas in the sequel ''Literature/NewNight'' is a former cop with martial arts training, but other characters are forced to ad lib in dangerous situations.
* Dagger, from ''{{Literature/Wander}}''. At the start of the novel he's narrowly managed to escape a group of [[OurZombiesAreDifferent smilers]], and been separated from the rest of his group, when escape is seen as impossible for most people. By the end of the book he's a full-fledged BadassGay with numerous kills under his belt, [[spoiler:and one of only two people known to have escaped after being held prisoner by the smilers twice]].
* Starr, the main character of ''Literature/TheHateUGive'', is an example that's played for tragedy. She's a very ordinary sixteen year old who's ''forced'' to be strong because of her unusual circumstances -- namely, being the sole witness to a cop murdering her friend, and then being caught in the middle of the media coverage, protest, and political uproar that follows. A lot of the narrative focuses on how the experience has left Starr with awful PTSD, and how she'll never be quite the same because of this.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Mitchell and George in ''Series/BeingHumanUK''. 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. 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, though it should be noted that most are a cut above the ordinary anyway, otherwise they wouldn't have been invited.
** It causes most companions who stick around for long enough to [[TookALevelInBadass take a level 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, Amy became the head of Area 52 in another timeline, Rory became a MemeticBadass, Zoe Heriot matured into an ActionGirl and Sarah Jane led her own team. And Ace, well...she basically ''invented'' the CrowningMomentOfAwesome by hitting a Dalek with a baseball bat.[[note]] This is NotHyperbole, by the way.[[/note]]
** 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 shellshocked 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, as he was more pacifistic than many of his other incarnations.
** A Jacobite first encountered after the Battle of Culloden, Second Doctor companion Jamie [=McCrimmon=] was already 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.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Gilly's penchant for surviving calamity despite her non-action status is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d by Dolorous Edd to comfort Sam after the attack on Mole's Town.
** Though Arya received a few months of sword training and is good with a bow, she is still a child who is petite and not particularly strong. She becomes more of a fighter in Seasons 3 and Season 4. She's also notable for being one of the only non-Lannister people to get away with defying Joffrey without getting herself killed or seriously injured for it. (Unfortunately, Mycah takes Arya's place). Even Tyrion suffers for slapping Joffrey around in the long run.
** Tyrion is not really trained for combat but nonetheless participated in a number of battles.
* 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 badassery 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 he can more than hold his own during a shootout.
* [[HandicappedBadass 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 [[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/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles''. 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 badassery.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' gave their version of ComicBook/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. Even Oliver himself counts in the flashbacks, as he starts out as a whiny, spoiled rich boy who progressively turns into a hardened bow-toting killer from his experiences over his five-year absence.
* 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. However this is no longer the case as of [[spoiler:her becoming a hexenbiest]].
* Phil and Sam from ''Series/TheWrongMans''. Neither have much of a fighting background, but get thrust into a world of murder, espionage and conspiracy. They get by on sheer luck at first, before [[TookALevelInBadass getting more experienced and starting to kick more arse]].
* Almost everyone on ''Series/{{The 100}}''. Of the characters initially sent down to Earth, Bellamy's the only one with any combat or weapons training, and ''none'' of them have any first hand experience with surviving in the wild. Anyone who survives past the first season only did so by adapting to dangerous situations ''very'' quickly.
* Oliver and Kaz from ''Series/MightyMed''. They start the series as a pair of nobody comic book nerds, who accidentally discover Superheroes are real when they stumble upon a superhero hospital. Their it turns out due to years of reading, they both have memorised the best ways to treat the heroes of a variety of wounds, and hired to work there. As the series goes on, they manage to navigate the dangerous superhero world through wits, likewise as they do they both get noticeable [[TookALevelInBadass more competent and braver]] managing to stay alive and even fight back against genuine supervillains. The climaxes in the series finale when they both [[spoiler: receive their own super powers]].
* ''Series/TheDailyShowWithTrevorNoah'' deconstructed the trope in reference to [[UsefulNotes/AmericanGunPolitics the spate of mass shooting and debate over concealed weapons laws]]. [[http://www.cc.com/video-clips/xqleli/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-jordan-klepper--good-guy-with-a-gun-pt--1 Jordan Klepper]] [[http://www.cc.com/video-clips/w2bq3a/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-jordan-klepper--good-guy-with-a-gun-pt--2 gets an open carry permit]] in order to test the NRA's assertion that "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." He finds that he has to spend only 8 hours training to qualify for the permit, and in a training scenario, Jordan accidentally "shoots" a teenaged bystander, [[EpicFail before being "shot" by both the active shooters]] ''[[EpicFail and]]'' [[EpicFail the policemen arriving at the scene]]. He decides that [[MundaneSolution it's just simpler to stop the "bad guy" from getting guns in the first place, instead of hoping that a "good guy" intervenes]].

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Young Wrestling/JimCornette, whose skill was running away from the wrestlers he mouthed off too in the event Wrestling/TheMidnightExpress wasn't around to protect him. He could throw {{fireballs}} but even that wasn't enough when he was put in a steel cage with Ronnie Garvin. Of course it'd be hard to call Cornette an "innocent" bystander but the Express did turn face a few times.
* [[Wrestling/PaulHeyman Paul E. Dangerously]], the other manager of The Midnight Express didn't even boast Cornette's speed of foot ([[MotorMouth much less lip]]), his strategy for survival basically being [[IFightForTheStrongestSide latch on to the biggest wrestler available.]] Like Cornette, he also wasn't much of an "innocent" but became a sort of face by default in [[Wrestling/{{ECW}} mutant territory]].
* Despite ([[TheDevilIsALoser or perhaps because]]) of being presented as Satan himself, [[Wrestling/JamesMitchell Sinister Minister]] wasn't much in a fight. He [[SelfDeprecation made fun of his own lack of combat prowess]] in an effort to diffuse a confrontation with his "son" Abyss.
* Even though he's never tried to present himself as a tough man in his entire pro wrestling career, Wrestling/JimRoss has been put in the ring [[SevenYearRule several times]]. Sometimes he even "won".

* 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:Video Games]]
* Gordon Freeman from ''VideoGame/HalfLife''. Over the course of the games, however, he has turned into an ActionHero, by the time of ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' 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''. He's just an average security guard but in spite of this he still manages to survive the Resonance Cascade, the ensuing chaos as aliens and [=HECU=] Marines kill anyone still alive, the destruction of Black Mesa, and the eventual fall of Earth in the Seven Hour War. He manages to live long enough to prove himself as a competent double agent and leader of the Resistance against the Combine in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2''.
* Jez, of ''Videogame/CampSunshine'' is trapped in a sleepaway camp, with no weapons at his disposal, and no combat experience. He's just an "ordinary teenager" as the [[http://store.steampowered.com/app/457570/ trailer says]], yet he must survive against a bloodthirsty serial killer dressed as the camp's mascot "Sunshine Bear" by running, hiding, and solving the mystery behind everything going on.
* 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]].
* Jason Brody from ''VideoGame/FarCry3'' fits the trope to a T, being an exceptional student, very sociable, taking a liking to extreme sports and - no combat experience of any kind. As the game progresses, he transforms into an ActionHero, but to his friends, looks more like a BloodKnight.
* 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 is 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 ''VideoGame/UnchartedGoldenAbyss,'' 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 running from his enemies than standing and fighting. That said, he manages to pull through thanks to his wits 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. Discussed in ''Anime/ResidentEvilDegeneration'', where Leon comments that she is a rescuer rather than a fighter.
* 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 {{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.
** Most of the {{Player Character}}s are this with two vault dwellers in the [[VideoGame/{{Fallout|1}} first]] and [[VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}} third]] games, a tribal kid in the [[VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}} second]], and a law graduate with zero combat experience who nevertheless handles herself just as well as her war veteran husband in the [[VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}} fourth]]. ''VideoGame/{{Fallout New Vegas}'' is the only one where a PlayerCharacter has any semblance of Wasteland survival and that is what has kept them alive for all the time up to the game.
* The ''VideoGame/SecretFiles'' series has this in both of its protagonists. Neither [[WrenchWench Nina]] or [[AdventurerArchaeologist 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? Special mention goes to Clementine for managing to actually kick a fair amount of ass despite only being ''nine years old''.
* ''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.
* ''VideoGame/{{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 [[{{Determinator}} 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 ''VideoGame/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 absorbing 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 ''VideoGame/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.
* ''VideoGame/TalesFromTheBorderlands''.
** Possibly Fiona and definitely Rhys. The game takes place on Pandora, a [[CrapsackWorld Crapsack]] DeathWorld. Fiona is a ConArtist who at least was born and raised there. She HadToBeSharp and can certainly handle herself in a fight, but compared to the Vault Hunters she's no OneManArmy. [[spoiler:By the end of the game she becomes a proper Vault Hunter, even getting her own action skill.]] Rhys is an OfficeDrone who drops in on Pandora to do a deal to screw over his BadBoss, but ends up stuck there longer than planned when it goes seriously sour. Despite his cybernetic enhancements, he is woefully unprepared for the sheer insanity the planet throws on him. [[TooDumbToLive He also never thinks of using his superstrong robot arm to fight and only throws ineffective punches with his real arm]]. [[spoiler:He's the one who wipes out the last remaining traces of Handsome Jack, painfully ripping out his own cybernetics to do so.]]
** Rhys's accomplice and best buddy Vaughn is an accountant who is even ''less'' suited than Rhys to face the horrors of Pandora, but ends up having the time of his life doing so. [[spoiler:He eventually becomes a ''tribal leader'' with a BadassBeard.]]
* ''VideoGame/ZombieArmyTrilogy'' features a variety of grizzled badasses, including the series' main protagonist [[ColdSniper Karl Fairburne]], a stoic and no-nonsense Russian soldier, a tough Wehrmacht captain, a resourceful and sneaky French resistance fighter, and... Beth Coleman, an American painter who got caught up in the ongoing ZombieApocalypse and turned out to be rather decent at braining the undead with a sniper rifle due to transferable skill.
* ''VideoGame/BevelsPainting'' has the titular character Bevel, who survives the dangers of her painted world by running and hiding. She can also kill dangerous characters if she has the necessary item.
* The player characters of the ''{{VideoGame/Outlast}}'' series, Miles Upshur, Waylon Park, and Blake Langermann, are all very relatable everymen thrown into awful situations.
* All ''Franchise/FiveNightsAtFreddys'' protagonists, Mike Schmidt, Jeremy Fitzgerald, Fritz Smith, the nameless Night Guard of the third game, and the Child are all completely normal people, hunted down by HostileAnimatronics.
* David and Simon from Team Psykskallar's ''VideoGame/AfraidOfMonsters'' and ''VideoGame/CryOfFear'' is just a depressed teenager and a troubled junkie, respectively, thrown into nightmarish, zombie-littered hellscapes resembling their hometowns.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect'', players can customize Commander Shepard's military background. While the other two backgrounds make Shepard famous for something badass, SoleSurvivor Shepard qualifies as one of these. She/he is famous for being the [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin sole survvior]] when a group of [[SandWorm Thresher Maws]] attacked his/her squad. She/he didn't even kill the creatures in response, she/he merely survived. As the game shows, surviving one of these is no joke.
* Most professions in ''VideoGame/{{Cataclysm}}'' are regular jobs like fast food cook, home mechanic, pizza delivery boy, or elementary school student, who are thrown into a simultaneous ZombieApocalypse, giant bug infestation, mushroom alien invasion, with a few {{Eldritch Abomination}}s and riot-control robots gone haywire thrown in for good measure. You can also spend trait points to start as a better-suited job such as military recruit, various kinds of {{cyborg}}s, or black belt.
* ''VideoGame/{{XCOM 2}}'': The [=VIPs=] in VIP Rescue missions may not be armed, but they're just as capable of climbing pipes and dropping off buildings as your troops, so you don't have to go out of your way and take a ground-only route to accommodate them.

* ''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]].

* 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."
* In ''Webcomic/{{PS238}}'', this is how Tyler Marlocke starts off. Because he's a MuggleBornOfMages at a SuperheroSchool, he doesn't have anything beyond his own wits to protect him from the various things that happen on-campus, and when you include the fact that his parents [[StageMom are all intent on making sure he becomes a prominent superhero whether he wants it or not]], things ''do'' happen in his vicinity regularly. He eventually gets so used to helping out despite his lack of powers that he starts heading towards danger, graduating into being a BadassNormal in training.

[[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.
* None of the protagonists from ''Literature/SmirvlaksStone'' are fighters, and they spend most of their time relying on guerilla tactics or simply running away from danger as opposed to facing it. Even Stilyk, who is the most physically fit and the only one with a weapon, confesses that the only reason why he's not dead yet is because he's a CombatPragmatist.
* 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.
* The entire cast of ''Literature/TheCityOfNever'' consists of regular, average human beings living in a small town and trying to survive as they're tormented by horrible, unorthodox abominations.
* 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
* ''{{Literature/Worm}}'' has [[SilkHidingSteel Sierra]], [[FriendToAllChildren Charlotte]], and [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Forrest]], a trio of normal civilians who, through various circumstances, end up becoming lieutenants to [[TheProtagonist Skitter]] after she takes charge of the boardwalk district in [[TheCity Brockton Bay]]. As a group, their net sum of superpowers, fighting skills, and any formal training at all is exactly zero, but they still manage to keep the crime-ridden boardwalk going even after Skitter leaves, and even manage to survive [[spoiler: TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt]].
* ''WebVideo/LeftPOORDead'': Reginald and Tippy have certain elements of this

[[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 ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Droids}} 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: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.
* One story on ''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]] details 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.