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[[quoteright:340:[[WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/2315819_2158.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:340:The leader, the complainer, and the dingbat.\\
Try to guess which one's which.]]

If a comedy show has three main characters, they will almost always fill stock roles in the plot. To get how it works, imagine this scenario:

Three people are in a car. TheLeader of the group considers himself the the smartest, and appoints himself navigator. He tries to get the three of them to their destination; but he's seriously out of touch with reality, or has no idea what he's doing but refuses to admit it, and shouts bizarre directions that will inevitably lead to the car going off a cliff.

In the driver's seat is TheFool, a total moron who [[TheBlindLeadingTheBlind blindly does whatever he's told]]. So, with the navigator screaming directions at him, the car approaches the cliff. In theory, the driver could stop at any time, but due to either ignorance or stupidity he's confident that heading towards a cliff is all part of the plan, so he soldiers on.

Meanwhile, trapped in the back seat, is the OnlySaneMan. He doesn't have to be smart, but he is the only guy who is fully aware they're about to fly off a cliff, and he's completely unable to stop it. He tries to alert the navigator, but he can't outshout that bullying idiot. He tries to reason with the driver, but the driver happily ignores him, maybe cheerfully explaining: "Thanks, but I already have a navigator!" He then looks to the wheel to grab it from the driver, but he doesn't have the guts to try, and risk crashing the car himself. He often resigns himself to his powerless position, offering a [[DeadpanSnarker witty comment]], [[BreakingTheFourthWall shrugging at the audience]] or just remaining strangely calm as the car goes sailing off the cliff and falls to its doom.

That's the ComicTrio. One character powers the plot with their bizarre obsessions, one keeps it going by blindly following orders, and a StraightMan ''fails'' to prevent the disaster.

The most common set-up is for the navigator to be a PointyHairedBoss and incompetent {{Schemer}} whose schemes always backfire, but there are other ways to do it.

In clowning, these positions are referred to as Whiteface, Auguste, and Tramp.

This is a type of PowerTrio. Contrast with FreudianTrio, a much less dysfunctional variation. Also compare with TerribleTrio. Add another complainer and you have a FourManBand.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Trope Maker]]
* Film/TheThreeStooges may have been the original ComicTrio - certainly they're the guys we're most likely to think of. Moe comes up with dumb schemes, Curly carries them out (while making them even dumber), and Larry is just too spineless to avoid being dragged along. (Sometimes, but only sometimes, Larry's aware of the stupidity of a plan; he's got a less crippling case of CloudCuckoolander than Curly does.)
* The MarxBrothers (Groucho, Chico and Harpo) became this as well a bit later in the 1930s when Zeppo left the group.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* The Team Rocket trio in the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime: Jessie and Meowth alternate roles as scheming navigator and driver, though Jessie is often more loudmouthed, while James more often than not suffers in some way, frequently at the expense of his bottle cap collection. James also can act as the driver when Jessie is the navigator, with Meowth too nervous about getting yelled at by Jessie to do anything (often the scenario in earlier episodes). Whenever any one of them decides to enter a competition (other than Jessie's Pokémon Contests) and try to win fair and square for once, they can always count on the other two mess everything up by obliviously playing the villain right as the "good" third actually seems to have a chance at winning.
** It's also been well established that Brock can't follow a map to save his life and Ash (at least before Misty left) is more enthusiastic than smart. He actually even marched right off a cliff once, though, too his credit, he was in a dense fog.
* [[ShinChan Shin-chan]] thinks Ryuko, Ogin and Mary (the Crimson Scorpions of Saitama) are this. HilarityEnsues!
* The Yorozuya from ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' qualifies. Kagura is the schemer, Gintoki is the follower (despite being the leader of the group), and Shinpachi is the voice of reason, but they change the roles every now and then.
* Also Ino-Shika-Cho in ''Anime/{{Naruto}}'' during the Chunin Exams specifically. Their first team battle when saving Sakura is amusing to say the least (the anime even gives it some quirky, fun background music) and in the Viz translation of the manga, Naruto even refers to them as 'The Three Stooges'.
** They even seem to fit the roles of the Comic Trio too: back then, Ino was definitely the hot-headed, driving force of the team, often shooting down the lazy but intelligent Shikamaru's ideas, while bossing Choji around
* The main trio in ''Manga/DailyLivesOfHighSchoolBoys'' have shades of this. Hidenori is [[LargeHam the loudest]] and usually comes up with zany schemes, making him TheLeader; Yoshitake is somewhat dense and goes along with whatever Hidenori suggests, making him TheFool; and Tadakuni is the OnlySaneMan who get's dragged into everything whether he likes it or not.
* The Axis in {{Hetalia}} are this more often than they would like. With Germany as the leader, Italy as the one who blindly follows orders (or surrenders and having the leader bail him out) and Japan as the one who cannot understand Western Culture.
* The four senior ''Manga/KOn'' girls come very close to this. Yui and Ritsu are dual leaders, bouncing their energy off each other and running wild. Mio is the ever-suffering sane man, and Mugi will happily go along with pretty much anything. Alternately, Yui is TheFool.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Comic subversion: Jeff Smith's ''{{Bone}}''. While it may seem that the Bone cousins each fill the workings of the ComicTrio early on (Phoney is a schemer, Smiley is stupid, Fone is powerless), it becomes more obvious as the series progresses that this is not the case: Fone can exert some power and ''definitely'' has a backbone, Phoney might only be greedy because [[spoiler:all three of them were orphaned at an early age and, being the oldest of the three, he had the reponsibility of looking after the cousins himself.]] He also becomes slightly more sympathetic as the comic goes on. Smiley is more obvious, as he is ''not'' stupid, just very optimistic, and even later agrees with Fone that Phoney might not always be right.
* Played with in {{Planetary}}: Elijah Snow is eager to discover the secret history of the world [[spoiler: and fight The Four.]], Jakita Wagner generally follows him because it stops her from getting bored, and The Drummer usually recognizes that it's dangerous but he's too crazy to make his case clearly (and they wouldn't listen if he did).
* The pirate crew in ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'' - Redbeard is the leader, the crow's nest pirate is the follower, and Pegleg is the OnlySaneMan. Lampshaded in ''Obelix All At Sea'', when a centurion describes them as "those stupid [Redbeard], impudent [crow's-nest] and pretentious [Pegleg] pirates".
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* This is a common interpretation of The Hitchhiking Ghosts from ''TheHauntedMansion'' at DisneyThemeParks. Ezra as the schemer, Gus as the follower, and Phineas as the powerless one. Seeing as how much of the Haunted Mansion's fanon becomes [[AscendedFanon ascended]], this might become official someday.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' gives us Yao, Chien-Po and Ling. They served largely as the comic relief, often involving slapstick humor that made them reminiscent of the Three Stooges. Yao is the self-appointed leader of the trio. Ling and Yao occasionally have disagreements, but Ling grows to accept Yao as their leader. Chien-Po is either naive compared to the two of them, or he's serene enough to accept whatever they do without fuss (it's established that he's very physically strong, so whatever mischief they get into, he could probably rely on his force to get them out of it).
* The Hyenas from ''Disney/TheLionKing''. Shenzi has the power as Navigator, Banzai does what she tells him, and while far from sane, Ed is the guy in the back seat, along for the ride.
* ''WesternAnimation/AGoofyMovie'', particularly in the scene where Max gets onstage to impress Roxanne, has one in the form of Max (the schemer), PJ (the powerless), and Bobby (the follower). Strangely, though the trio gets more screentime in the sequel, they don't play this as much, though they still do have the personalities to match. This is evident when Bradley is impressed by Max's charisma, and unimpressed by Bobby's [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} weirdness]] and PJ's [[ShrinkingViolet timidity]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* As mentioned in the Trope Maker folder, ''Film/TheThreeStooges'' must have been the original inspiration for this trope: Moe was the leader, Curly was the idiot blindly doing whatever he's told (as was Shemp, who continued the trend), and Larry was the OnlySaneMan.
* ''PlanetOfTheApes'' has a whole society based on this. The orangutans run things, the gorillas carry their plans out, and the chimpanzees have all the brains and none of the power.
** The 2001 movie exchanges the orangutans and chimpanzees' roles, possibly as a response to ScienceMarchesOn.
* The three main characters of ''Film/TheHangover'': Phil leads the charge in finding Doug, Stu complains ineffectually throughout the film and Alan goes along with it all.
** In the third, Stu leads the charge, Phil complains, and Alan goes along (and at times, makes things worse).
* ''TheThreeCaballeros'': Donald, Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles.
* ''MysteryTeam'': Jason, Duncan and Charlie.
* Vitsin, Nikulin, and Morgunov. A.K.A. The Coward, the Fool and the Experienced. Morgunov is the leader, Nikulin is the dingbat and Vitsin is the complainer.
* The ''Film/ThreeAmigos'': Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Nederlander.
* ''HorribleBosses'': Kurt, Dale, and Nick.
* The pre-Winston ''{{Ghostbusters}}'': Peter (the navigator); Ray (the driver); and Egon (the OnlySaneMan). Uniquely, they balance the ComicTrio qualities with those of a more traditional PowerTrio: Ray combines massive amounts of paranormal knowledge with very practical real-world skills (he rebuilds that old ambulance into the team's CoolCar); Egon comes up with the calculations and science that allow for Ghostbusting; and Peter, the schmoozer, facilitates the actual business side of the Ghostbusters operation. Most importantly, their CrazyScheme ''succeeds''.
* ''Film/OBrotherWhereArtThou'': Everett (George Clooney) is TheLeader, Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) is TheFool, and Pete (John Turturro) is the OnlySaneMan (compared to the other two, at least).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* The ''Literature/{{Bunnicula}}'' series: Chester is the leader, Howie follows him around, and Harold is the skeptic who can't stop Chester's wild imagination.
* The Golden Trio ended up being this in the early ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books, with Harry being the Leader, Ron being the Idiot and Hermione being the Complainer.
* In Creator/JulesVerne's ''JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth'', Axel Lidenbrock sees himself as the sane guy, his uncle as the leader, and their guide Hans as the blind follower. It later turns out they're a more effective PowerTrio than they look...
* [[TheTrickster Marunde]], [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} Abdel]], and [[{{Sleepyhead}} Lazy]] in ''Literature/SomeoneElsesWar''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/TheGoodies'', the three characters alternated these roles regularly.
** Most commonly, it seemed to be Graeme being the leader, Bill carrying through his schemes, and Tim disagreeing, but requiring the money for the job enough to go along. Then again, as Graeme was at times too [[AbsentMindedProfessor distracted]] to carry through all the way, Tim was at times [[MyCountryRightOrWrong dedicated enough to serving England]] to take over leadership, and [[GeniusDitz Bill had his moments of inspiration too]], the roles did switch around a ''lot''. Occasionally it would even avoid seperating the roles - in one episode, Graeme is a power mad pirate radio station owner, and ''both'' Bill and Tim are the powerless snarkers.
* In the classic ''LastOfTheSummerWine'' trio Foggy comes up with the schemes, Compo is the one who knows it'll lead to disaster, but can't do anything to stop it, and Clegg is not so much clueless as content to offer wry observations from the sidelines, since he's never the one it's happening to.
* The Trio from ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': Warren is the schemer, Jonathan is powerless even though his conscience might otherwise lead him to speak up against Warren; and Andrew may not be stupider than the others, but he's by far the most out of touch with reality.
** Andrew's also the one most likely to do whatever Warren tells him to, no matter how stupid or evil, due to his idol crush on him (or just plain crush, depending on how you interpret Andrew's character).
* Later seasons of ''Series/{{MASH}}'' have one in the form of Hawkeye (bizarre one), B.J. (the one who goes along), and Winchester (the smart one). Earlier seasons had the first two roles covered, but no one else at the 4077th was smart/sane enough to see what was coming (except for Radar on occasion).
* ''TopGear'' has a lot of shuffling with this, although Jeremy's usually the schemer, with Richard and James trading off on the stupid/going along with it and the helpless.
* In a few episodes of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' such as "Tall Tales" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me," Sam, Dean, and Bobby transition from a PowerTrio to a ComicTrio. Sam comes up with an idea, Dean helps him carry it out, and then Bobby shows up when it goes wrong and tells them that they're idiots.
* The guys and the girls of ''{{Coupling}}'' tend to split off into separate comic trios. Specifically, Susan and Steve tend to be the sensible ones, whilst Patrick and Sally are the ditzy navigators, and Jeff and Jane are basically nuts.
* The Tanner sisters from ''FullHouse''. Michelle is definitely the naďvely used one, but while DJ takes charge, she's pretty much the OnlySaneMan. Stephanie is quite intelligent, but is more of a DitzyGenius who makes things crazier by going along with DJ (often to her annoyance). In the end, both often share the blame for what happens. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] once where they were called "the Three Stooges in pantyhose".
* ''{{Heartbeat}}'': A few seasons in, one formed between Claude, David and Bernie. Claude schemes, David gullibly does the dirty work, and Bernie is smart and powerless. After Claude left, Bernie's brother Vernon [[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute filled the role]] before David's Aunt Peggy replaced him.
* In ''Pigs in Space'' on ''TheMuppetShow'' plays with the roles a bit. Link Hogthrob is the leader, Miss Piggy is loudmouthed and Dr. Strangepork is insane, so they all have characteristics of the navigator. Link is usually too dumb, though. Strangepork is the smartest, but Piggy is the sane one.
* ''Series/PowerRangersNinjaStorm'': Shane is the leader, Dustin is more laid back than dumb, and Tori is "the responsible one".
* In ''Series/{{The Office|US}}'', Michael, Dwight and Jim often act as this with Michael being the leader, Dwight being the blindly obedient one and Jim being the only one with sense, particularly evident when they team up in the 'Branch Wars' episode. Ironically, in another episode of that season Dwight acts as the smart man while Michael blindly obeys (and misinterprets) the directions of his GPS, driving directly into a clearly visible lake.
** Also the trio who start the Michael Scott Paper Company in Season Five. Michael is once again the leader. Ryan is usually the guy who follows him -- or at least doesn't question him much -- but arguably in the episode "Broke" he is analogous to a navigator as he formulates their unworkable company strategy. Pam is the closest thing this company has to an OnlySaneMan although she is NotSoAboveItAll by virtue of having joined in the first place. She even compares the company to a crashed car.
* ''[[Series/ThirtyRock 30 Rock]]'' loves this. See:
** The Tracy Jordan Entourage. Tracy is the unstable leader, Dot Com is the smart and powerless guy, Grizz is the enabler (although Grizz is almost as smart and just as sane as Dot Com, he's less troubled by letting Tracy do what he wants).
** The actors on the show. In this case, Tracy is the follower, while Jenna is the crazy leader and Danny is the smart one. Lampshaded by Jenna.
-->'''Liz''':I don't know who's worse, you or Tracy.
-->'''Jenna''': Oh, definitely me. I'm more aware of what I'm doing.
** In the writers room, we have Frank as the leader, Lutz as the follower, and Toofer as the smart guy.
** One could also make a case with Jack as the leader, Jonathan as the follower, and Liz as the smart one, but Jack also tends to be right.
* The Gang in ''ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' shuffle roles around many episodes, but Mac, Dennis and Charlie are the most common trio. Dee, Artemis and The Waitress are the DistaffCounterpart.
* The Series/{{Stella|US}}s fit this trope to a T. Michael Black is the leader, Michael Showalter the smart one, and poor [[ButtMonkey David]] is the third guy.
* ''Series/{{Blackadder}}'' has the titular character, Baldrick, and Percy in the first two series, with George replacing Percy in series three and four.
* A truly bizarre example is the three Daleks in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial "The Chase" - there's a permanently frustrated PointyHairedBoss Dalek, a [[TheDitz stupid Dalek who gets confused easily, stumbles over his words and falls over]] and a Dalek who is better at exterminating but is powerless to resist orders from his superiors. "The Chase" is a [[OutOfGenreExperience pretty weird Dalek story]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Newspaper Comics]]
* In ''PearlsBeforeSwine'', Rat is the {{Schemer}}, Pig is the dumb follower, and Goat is the OnlySaneMan.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'': The Soldier, Scout and Heavy seem to form this in several 'Meet the Team' videos.
** A more literal example appeared during [[http://www.teamfortress.com/macupdate/comic/ Mac Update.]]
* The Chaotix of ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog''. Vector is the schemer, Charmy is the follower, and Espio is usually powerless, but pretty badass.
** In ''VideoGame/SonicColors'', Eggman is the schemer, Cubot is the follower, and Orbot is powerless.
** Team Rose in ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'': Amy is the schemer, Big is the follower, and Cream is powerless.
* [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi]], under [[DependingOnTheWriter certain interpretations]]. Mario is the schemer, Yoshi the follower, and Luigi is powerless.
* {{VideoGame/Bully}} introduces Jimmy, Gary, and Pete. In chapter one, Gary is clearly the leader, Jimmy is at times the idiot, and Pete is obviously the victim and the only sane man, being the one who clearly never wants to take part in Gary's schemes.
* Being one of the more light-hearted and comical iterations of the franchise, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'' has Yuna, who is meant to be the leader but typically ends up the follower to her cousin (or anyone else for that matter), while Paine is [[OnlySaneMan powerless]].
* In ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'', the [[FanNickname Academy Trio]] - Noel, Tsubaki and Makoto - fit. [[TheDitz Makoto]] is the assertive one who comes up with all the zany and often stupid plans, [[TheChick Noel]] [[ExtremeDoormat just goes along with what Makoto says]], and [[OnlySaneMan poor]] [[TheSmartGuy Tsubaki]] sits there [[DeadpanSnarker snarking]], knowing full well that she can't stop them. This is most apparent in the ''Teach Me, Miss Litchi'' segments.
* The Materials have this dynamic in ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable: The Gears of Destiny'' and all related {{Spin Off}}s, with Lord Dearche as [[RoyalBrat the leader]], Levi the Slasher as [[DumbMuscle the dumb and obedient one]], and Stern the Destructor as the [[TheSmartGuy smart yet usually passive one]]. They provide the majority of the game's comic relief, until the situation proves serious enough for Stern to take charge of the planning so that they could have a chance to defeat the ArcVillain.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/{{Achewood}}'' with the three cats who started out as a real Comic Trio, but after some character development: Ray is the navigator (a subversion since his plans, no matter how insane, ALWAYS work out), Beef follows Ray's lead (he's a manic depressive with passivity to a fault -- but still the only person capable of talking Ray out of anything), and Pat is the "smart one" (but so "smart" that he's unbearably obnoxious, and so unwilling to listen to other points of view that he ends up making the wrong calls in the end).
* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'' plays Sam as the Schemer, Helix as the Follower, and Florence as the Sane (Wo)Man. Alternatively, Florence or Sawtooth play sane men to Qwerty and Dvorak.
* ''Webcomic/TwoGuysAndGuy'' typically has Guy as the leader/navigator, Frank the idiot/driver (though he enables the situation through his apathy rather than his ignorance), and Wayne the complainer/backseat, though the roles can shift depending on the joke.
* ''Webcomic/RomanticallyApocalyptic'' has The Captain as TheLeader, The Pilot...[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin as the pilot]], and Mr. Snippy as the OnlySaneMan.
* The Light Warriors of ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' are a rare attempt of translating this into a quartet -- although many times one is left out to make sure it fits. Red Mage is the Schemer, Fighter is the Follower, Thief is the Sane Man (with Schemer moments too), and Black Mage is the [[OmnicidalManiac Some]][[StupidEvil what]] Sane Man.
* From ''Webcomic/YetAnotherFantasyGamerComic'', Chimera manages the exploit of being this [[MultipleHeadCase all by himself]]. The lion head is the leader, the dragon head is the idiot, and the goat head is the complainer.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* On ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'', in some cartoons Strong Bad is the schemer, Strong Mad is stupid, and The Cheat is the smart one who's powerless. Just as often, though, Homestar will be the stupid one, and Strong Bad will be smart and powerless.
* The side characters "The Unstoppable Three!" at SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy in the WhateleyUniverse. Captain Bravo (flying brick with energy beams from his eyes) is the schemer (well, the leader), Hyper (speedster) is the follower, and Long John (stretchy 'Mister Fantastic' type) is powerless. Even the people they attack mock them.
--> Phase: "Long John? You named yourself after ''underwear''? What, 'Fruit of the Loom' was taken?"
* Sort of subverted in ''ParkBench'', since there's no real straight man, but the three take turns powering the plot (although it's barely ever Tully, and sometimes isn't anyone).
* The Balloon Shop are a three piece comedy troupe, formed by Olan Rogers (The loud and jovial one), Thomas Gore(The closest any of them can get to being a straight man), and Joshua Pursley(The butt of nearly every joke). The three made videos after meeting each other in High School. There are no solid roles for any of the characters, because the roles change depending on each video. Their videos range from fairly realistic (BBQ Fiesta) to insanely unrealistic and kooky (Birds, and The Sargentos)
-->'''Josh''': Chris, couldja calm down? We TOLDJA what we do wit double crossers.\\
'''Thomas''': You people, just shot me, in the chest!\\
'''Josh''': Wait a second Chris, what seems to be the problem here?\\
(It should be noted that before this scene, Olan gets offended and shoots "Chris", however, he seems to be perfectly fine.)
* The Red Team in ''RedVsBlue'' are often examples of this, with Sarge being the navigator, Simmons going along with it through thoughts of promotion and glory, and Grif being too lazy to stop them.
* During the ''LetsPlay/{{Yogscast}}'''s ''LetsPlay/JaffaFactory'' videos, Honeydew Inc. was run this way, with LetsPlay/LewisBrindley coming up with the plans, LetsPlay/DuncanJones being smart enough to make them work but never questioning orders, and LetsPlay/SimonLane doing all the heavy lifting and just sort of fooling around in the meantime. Or, as one commenter put it:
-->DUNCAN: The smart one.
-->LEWIS: Has a plan!
-->SIMON: DIGGY DIGGY HOLE!
** ''Machinima/TheBlackrockChronicle'' team has a similar dynamic: LetsPlay/{{Rythian}} comes up with the plans, Teep is blindly obedient, and LetsPlay/ZoeyProasheck is too busy goofing around to help.
* Most story-driven [[YouTubePoop YTP's]] featuring Zelda CD-i will have this with King Harkinian (crazy), Link (doofus), and Zelda (serious).
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce'': Shake is insane, Meatwad is stupid, Frylock is powerless.
** This is a possible DoubleSubversion, insofar as, ''as a superhero'', Frylock is easily the most powerful of the three, with a great deal of inherent destructive potential ''plus'' gadgeteering. He's just completely ineffectual when it comes to stopping Shake's antics.
** To be fair, Frylock, as said, is far from powerless, he just has a lot of self-restraint.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has the mildly ditzy Sweetie Belle, the gung-ho Scootaloo, and the practical, sane Apple Bloom. Generally, Scootaloo will suggest something crazy, Apple Bloom (who isn't stupid by any means; she's just game for anything) will go along with it and Sweetie Belle (who despite being a bit ditzy actually has the most common sense of the three) won't complain loud enough to avoid getting dragged along.
** In the episode "Green Isn't Your Color" Rarity forces Fluttershy to live out her dream, Fluttershy is too nice to say no, and Twilight is powerless to solve the problem due to her Pinkie promises.
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'': [[TheDragon Inferno]], [[TheBrute Quickstrike]] and [[TheChewToy Waspinator]] are frequently paired together to carry out minor schemes of Megatron's. Inferno is in charge and gives the orders, but is absolutely insane. Quickstrike's a complete idiot who will blindly follow anyone who gives him a chance to slag somebody. Waspinator is aware of how ridiculous the two are but is too powerless to do anything but complain to himself, and usually suffers for it.
** [[spoiler:In the finale Waspinator finally stands up for himself, tells off Inferno and Quickstrike, and quits the Predacons. Almost immediately thereafter, Inferno and Quickstrike are killed and Waspinator's life is saved by virtue of not being with them.]]
** ''{{Transformers}}'' has two more trios like this. In ''TransformersArmada,'' Rad is the ringleader, Carlos right behind him, Alexis trying to keep them out of trouble. In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime,'' TooDumbToLive Miko puts herself InHarmsWay ''explicitly'' because it's fun to her, Jack follows to save her butt (thrusting him into 'driver' role despite his ''not'' really thinking "let's go into the middle of a warzone because it's KEWL LOLZ!" is a great plan) while Raf takes the Alexis role.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': Mom's sons, Walt, Larry and Igner. It's subverted in that the leader, Walt, is actually the most intelligent of the three. However, he still comes up with some pretty awful plans, usually revolving around ridiculous disguises, while Igner is retarded and Larry even more spineless than most comic trios to compensate. The main reason they succeed at all is because Fry is the frequent target of their plans.
--> '''Mom:''' "Be careful. You'll need all your stoogely cunning..."
--> ''(GilliganCut to scene where the trio screeches to a halt outside Planet Express in a van labeled 'Smother Brothers'. This time Walt's latest ridiculous scheme involves owl exterminators)''
** The main three characters often display this dynamic with Bender and Fry switching off between the driver and navigator, with Leela as the straight man.
* ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'': Eddy is the schemer, Ed is stupid, Edd is powerless. Currently provide the Trope Image.
* ''{{Catscratch}}'': Mr. Blik is the schemer, Waffle is stupid, Gordon is powerless.
* Variant: ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants''. SpongeBob is demented, Patrick is stupid, Squidward is powerless. The difference is that Squidward is the bossy, unsympathetic one. So the audience roots for SpongeBob instead, even as he leads the trio off the cliff.
** Alternately, the Krusty Krab trio can be considered this, with Mr. Krabs as the scheming leader, Spongebob as the idiot that goes along with everything, and Squidward as the straight man who's largely ignored by the other two.
* ''WesternAnimation/AlvinAndTheChipmunks'': Alvin is the schemer, Theodore is more timid than dumb, and Simon is the smart one who's powerless.
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' shorts would sometimes combine Bugs, Daffy and Elmer this way. Daffy is the pushy and loud one, Elmer is the stupid one who'll do anything, and Bugs is the smart one. In a bit of subversion, since he's the "hero" of the story, he doesn't end up going off the cliff as much as Daffy does in his place.
** Perhaps an even better example would be Creator/ChuckJones' Three Bears series, with Pa as the bossy one, Junyer as the idiot, and Ma as the sane one who's ignored.
* Even with more than three main characters, this trope can pop up. In ''WesternAnimation/KappaMikey'', for example, these tend to crystalize around Mikey as the crazy one, with Gonard generally the stupid one, and Guano. Lily, or Mitsuki as the powerless one, as the plot demands. The roles can switch around, though... One episode actually has Ozu as the crazy one, Mikey as the stupid one, and Yes Man as the powerless one.
* [[ClassicDisneyShorts Mickey, Donald and Goofy]] arguably fit, but their roles don't play out the same. DonaldDuck could be the loudmouthed jerk and {{Goofy}} could be the submissive idiot (MickeyMouse is more or less the sensible but ineffectual straight man, anyway), but a lot of the time Donald is actually right; Goofy is the one to cause the trouble while Donald [[ChewToy ends up suffering for it]].
* [[WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory The Justice Friends]]: Major Glory is the schemer, Krunk is stupid, and Valhallen is powerless.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' - Timmy tries to navigate them to the destination (he wishes for stuff), Cosmo is the driver (he grants the wishes without thinking about the results because he's TheDitz) and Wanda's the powerless smart person. She tries to stop Timmy from making the dumb wishes but he never listens.
* Hank, Dale, and Bill from ''KingOfTheHill'' fit this trope. Dale is a paranoid schemer, Bill is a dolt who goes along with it, and Hank is the voice of reason that they almost always ignore.
* ''TheSmoggies'': Emma is a vain, greedy schemer, Polluto is a stupid strongman, and Captain Clarence is a spineless geek.
* Sonic, Sally, and Antoine in ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM''. Sally leads, Sonic cheerfully follows (but busts her chops a lot) and Antoine is powerless to go against their ideas.
** Sometimes reversed due to Sonic's arrogance, making him the leader, Sally the ignored OnlySaneMan and Antoine the idiot (albeit not that willing). Arguably played more straight in this variant since, while Sally [[InsufferableGenius had the ego of the leader]] in the former setup, [[WomenAreWiser she was usually more genuinely competent as such than Sonic was]].
** Sometimes in [[ComicBook/ArchieSonicTheHedgehog the comics]], Sally would be absent making Sonic the leader and Tails would fill in as the Yes-man with Antoine still being powerless.
* Clifford, Cleo, and T-Bone in ''CliffordTheBigRedDog'' are an example. Cleo's the impulsive one. Clifford's the dog who goes along. T-Bone's the voice of reason who usually gets ignored.
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog'' has Scratch, who originates most schemes independent of Robotnik, Grounder, who tries to carry them out, and Robotnik himself, who's left fuming at the mess they get into. When Robotnik dispatches all three of his robots to capture Sonic, Coconuts, the smartest of the three, is usually powerless.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutron'' is a strange example as Jimmy is the schemer, Sheen goes along but the role of the voice of reason depends on the episode. If it's just Carl with them, then he's the powerless sense of reason. If Cindy and Libby come along though then those two (especially Cindy) are the voice of reason while Carl becomes just another follower.
* ''MegasXLR'': Coop is the schemer. If he wants to do something, he will, and in his way. Jamie usually complies with a fist bump and horns of rocks. Kiva lets Coop know that what he's planning won't work, but to no avail.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'' is a good example. [[EnfanteTerrible Mandy]] is a scheming evil genius, Billy is stupid [[TheDitz (very stupid)]], and Grim is the OnlySaneMan who is powerless because [[ItMakesSenseinContext he lost a game of limbo.]]
* Music/{{Gorillaz}} had this during the Plastic Beach/ Phase 3 story arc. [[CrazyAwesome Murdoc]] is an amoral, insane mastermind, Cyborg Noodle follows (in all fairness she's a robot and most likely has no sense or what's right and wrong), and [[ExtremeDoormat 2D]] -who's become surprisingly more intelligent since being kidnapped- constantly snarks at and criticizes Murdoc but can't really do anything without getting [[CurbStompBattle the crap beaten out of him]]. The example at the top of the page is used almost exactly during the video for Stylo (only the leader is driving instead of the follower), in which Murdoc actually ''does'' drive like a madman whilst 2D slumps back in his seat, [[FacePalm running his hands over his face]].
* BobsBurgers: The Belcher kids. Louise, despite being the youngest, is the schemer and the only one confident enough to be TheLeader. Gene is TheDitz (and even when he realizes there's a problem, he's too much of a CloudCuckooLander to care). While Tina, [[OlderSidekick despite being the oldest]], is too insecure to refuse to play along, let alone try to stop her younger siblings.
* WesternAnimation/{{Pearlie}} and her three friends are this. Pearlie is the leader who gets herself in a bad situation, Jasper is the tag-a-long and Opel is the brains who is also the [[OnlySaneMan only sane member]] of the trio (as well as the only sane character in the show).
* ChalkZone: Rudy the leader, Penny the brains and Snap the tag-a-long.
* ''WesternAnimation/PoundPuppies2010'': The Super Secret Pup Club happen to be one with Patches as TheLeader, Rebound as TheFool, and Cupcake as the OnlySaneMan.
* ShurikenSchool has Ezian the leader, Okuni of sane one and Jimmy B. the tag-along.
* The Greaser Dogs from CatDog are an inversion to this trope. They get along while beating up [[IdiotHero Cat]], but they also have some trait to this trope.
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* The Music/DougAnthonyAllStars. Tim as the ignorant narcissist, Paul as the angry jerk and Richard as the ButtMonkey.
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