->''"You're the only man alive that can handle this mission, Kremmen."''
-->-- The introduction to every '''Captain Kremmen''' radio episode.

There's a crisis, and [[RagTagBunchOfMisfits our beloved protagonists]] are the only people who can handle the problem.

Unfortunately, this is because all the other people who could take care of it are woefully incompetent.

If the series is about a local police force, the FBI are ivory-tower {{glory hound}}s. If the series is about an FBI agent, the local police are all [[PoliceAreUseless useless]] CorruptHick types. If the series is about the military, government higher-ups will only be [[SleazyPolitician interested in pleasing the voters]]. If the series is about the government or an anti-military type, then the military will be TheEvilArmy commanded by a GeneralRipper type who is just itching to NukeEm back to the stone age, never mind the asking questions part. If the series is about a rogue hero, all levels of government and law enforcement, plus the military, are either [[BadCopIncompetentCop corrupt or clueless]], with the possible exception of a ReasonableAuthorityFigure who will still be be unable to help because of mountains of red tape. And everyone else will just think that it [[BystanderSyndrome isn't for them to deal with]] (at least, at first). In those cases where the people who are supposed to be handling the situation are not also bad guys, you can end up with a RedShirtArmy.

Sometimes this is actually warranted by the show's premise, notably ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', ''DarkAngel'', ''Series/StargateSG1''... okay, any show featuring TheChosenOne.

A variation that often occurs, particularly in shows or movies where there is a RaceAgainstTheClock situation, is that those who are responsible for taking care of a particular situation (such as the bomb squad) will, for some reason, not be able to make it in time to resolve the problem that the protagonists are facing. In this scenario, the experts may be fully competent and on the side of the angels, but are prevented for some reason from taking care of the problem themselves, meaning that the untrained protagonists are forced to be [[ClosestThingWeGot the only ones who can take care of the problem]]. This often works to increasing tension; will the non-expert [[WireDilemma cut the right wire]]?

Compare the subtropes OneRiotOneRanger, where it is justified by a specific decision on the part of the authorities, and ItsUpToYou. Compare IWorkAlone, where the hero chooses this voluntarily. Also compare TheMainCharactersDoEverything, where extras aren't shown to be competent nor incompetent, they just never get to do anything. Also also compare TheOneGuyWithABrain, where only one guy seems to be competent despite being surrounded by much more qualified experts on the subject. Contrast HeroOfAnotherStory. See also EvilOnlyHasToWinOnce, because inevitably the stakes are cataclysmic.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Kirby in his own [[Anime/KirbyOfTheStars self-titled anime]] is a Star Warrior destined to fight off the BigBad of the universe.
* The [[Anime/ValkyriaChronicles anime adaptation]] of ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles''. The main characters amount to a single squad of civilian draftee militia. Much like [[ItsUpToYou in the game]], the country's actual professional army is presented as a bunch of tactically incompetent blowhards who want to hog all the glory and use the UriahGambit on the protagonists. They never amount to anything useful and get blown to bits by the enemy.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/GreenLantern'':
** At one point things got so bad for the Green Lantern Corps that the last Guardian teleported to Earth and threw a ring at a random person. Eventually they got better.
** This happens to the Corps every so often. When Hal Jordan was still a rookie, the villain Legion had defeated the entire corps with its gigantic yellow suit of armor, but Hal figures out that if he covers Legion in mud, his ring will work on him. When cracking the armor open turns out not to have been the best idea, Hal flies into the central power battery and supercharges his ring, giving him the strength to defeat the villain on his own.
** After the ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths, the GLC is reduced to the three Lanterns of Earth and a small handful of others spread around the universe. When the sole remaining Guardian is driven mad by solitude, it's pretty much up to Hal to save the day again.
** Nova Corps: After a devastating interstellar war, the superpowers of a million-man-strong force were co-opted into one super suit, leading to several HeroicRROD situations.
** In ''[[WesternAnimation/GreenLanternFirstFlight First Flight]]'' Sinestro has destroyed Green Lantern battery, all of the remaining Green Lanterns are left powerless. Only Hal was able to get green element's power working again and fight Sinestro one on one.
* ''ComicBook/RogueTrooper'' is the last living Genetic Infantryman, if you don't count his biochip buddies.
* This is the very heart and core of the SuperHero concept - that only The Big Damn Hero can Save The Day. In fact, once Lois Lane asked her husband "Why does it have to be you?"; he replied, "Because no one else can."
** Admittedly, the sheer number of superheroes existing in comics can counteract this at times.
** This is why the writers sometimes have to come up with excuses for other heroes from the same continuity (especially ones who are [[SupermanStaysOutOfGotham much more powerful than the story's main hero]]) to be absent when the villain shows up. See also ThisIsSomethingHesGotToDoHimself.
* The premise of the second ''ComicBook/{{Runaways}}'' series is that the titular team is the closest thing Los Angeles has to a superhero team after their evil parents drove every other superhero out of the area, and thus have to deal with all the supervillains who decide to move out west in hopes of escaping from the superheroes on the East Coast. This premise falls apart after ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', when ComicBook/TheOrder is deployed to California to become its government-sanctioned superhero team.
** The Order, incidentally, runs on a very similar premise - that they're the only superhero team available to deal with fallout from the Civil War (in part because the Civil War forced the Runaways into hiding - [[NiceJobBreakingItHero nice job breaking it, Tony...]])


[[folder:Fan Works]]
* DoubleSubverted in ''Fanfic/BaitAndSwitchSTO'', where the USS ''Bajor'' is explicitly ''not'' the only ship available to respond to the distress signal from Dreon VII. Instead, Eleya's ship is just fifteen minutes closer than the ''Jadzia Dax'' and ''Amaterasu'', and Eleya and Co. end up dealing with the problem before the other ships even get there.
* Played with in ''Fanfic/TheHeadhunt''. The ''Bajor'' is actually the ''second'' starship on the scene of a jailbreak at [[TheAlcatraz Facility 4028]], but the other ship is a century-plus-old ''Miranda''-class. The ''Galaxy''-class ''Bajor'' has capabilities the USS ''Brisbane'' doesn't, so her crew takes the lead.
* In "Fanfic/RemembranceOfTheFallen" part of the reason Eleya is given the assignment of tutoring Tia and Sobaru is because Sobaru is Bajoran, and Eleya is the only other Bajoran on the Starfleet Academy campus at the moment who has taken Principles of Electronic Countermeasures (officer recruitment on Bajor has apparently been somewhat thin in the past couple of years).

* ''Franchise/DieHard'':
** In the first ''Film/DieHard'' movie, the FBI agents blindly follow their standard anti-terrorist procedure, which allows the criminals to break into the vault. They also decide to launch an attack on the terrorists on top of the building, even though they expect 20-25% of the hostages to be killed. The Los Angeles deputy police chief is totally incompetent, and the SWAT team leader (a) has his team foolishly charge in and get slaughtered and (b) sends in an armored car which the criminals blow up with a missile.
** In ''Film/DieHard2'', the terrorists are renegade U.S. troops, the military troops sent to take out the terrorists are in cahoots with them, and for most of the movie the airport security guards actively oppose [=McClane=]'s heroic efforts.
** From ''Film/LiveFreeOrDieHard'':
--> '''Farrell:''' Then why are you doing this?
--> '''[=McClane:=]''' Because there's nobody else to do it right now, that's why. Believe me, if there were somebody else to do it, I'd let them do it. But there's not, so we're doing it.
--> '''Farrell:''' Ah. That's what makes you that guy.
* In ''Film/BlueThunder'', the villains are part of a GovernmentConspiracy that has the local police department on its side. [[TheHero Frank Murphy]] is forced to hijack the titular BlackHelicopter and fight an aerial battle against police and military forces in order to provide cover for the evidence he's collected to make it to a reporter. Averted at the end when the U.S. Justice Department does in fact start an investigation.
* Subverted in ''Film/LethalWeapon3'', in which Riggs persuades Murtagh that they are the only ones present who can defuse a bomb because, of course, "the bomb squad never arrives on time!" Unfortunately, Riggs fails the WireDilemma, the bomb goes off, and the building collapses, causing millions of dollars worth of damage... and at that point, the bomb squad arrive, having made it in plenty of time to defuse the device had Riggs and Murtagh not interfered.
* As the ''Film/{{Batman}}'' franchise went on, the role of the police became diminished to the point of utter uselessness, meaning the city was defenceless without Franchise/{{Batman}}. This is somewhat averted in Film/TheDarkKnightSaga, where Lieutenant/Commissioner Gordon plays a major role in saving the city too.
** Also averted in the fact that though he is indeed the only one with the resources and [[{{Determinator}} resolve]] to see his one man war on crime through, any honest portrayal of Bruce Wayne character never has him desiring to REMAIN the only one. Parallels thus observable, with ''V for Vendetta''.
* This is so prevalent in the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' films that you'd think Starfleet wants Earth to be destroyed. That or the NegativeSpaceWedgie epidemic in the galaxy is so bad that all of their ships are busy dealing with them.
** ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'': It's not that any other vessel or crew is incompetent, but whoever is responsible for the disposition of Starfleet's resources needs a stern talking-to. The only starship available to intercept V'Ger is the ''Enterprise'', which is not only at the tail end of a major refit but currently orbiting Earth.
** In ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'', the ''Enterprise'' against the Khan-controlled ''Reliant''. Kirk actually refers to themselves as the only ship in the ''quadrant''. It should be noted that in pre-TNG, the terms "sector" and "quadrant" were used pretty loosely. It's likely that quadrant also refers to a sub-unit of a sector.
** ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier'' has Kirk's crew charged with saving the diplomat hostages in their malfunctioning ''Enterprise-A''. Kirk actually calls out the Admiral assigning him on this. The movie tries to justify it by saying that Kirk is their best captain. ([[BlackHoleSue Yeah, William Shatner was director and had a story credit.)]] Website/SFDebris points out how the movie itself makes it much worse: The ''Enterprise'' is seen to take about 6 hours to reach the center of the galaxy from the Neutral Zone, at which speed ''any'' ship would've been close enough to assist on the Paradise Planet earlier -- meaning that if the Enterprise was the Only One, then Starfleet apparently has ''only one ship''.
** ''Film/StarTrekGenerations'' pulls ''The Motion Picture'' blunder again. The ''Enterprise''-B is just being taken for a test stroll around Earth and doesn't even have most of its weapons or medical crew, and yet it's miraculously the only ship within range of the NegativeSpaceWedgie, even though it's still very close to Earth, which presumably has a lot of ships nearby.
** Justified in the 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' movie. Most of the local Starfleet ships are busy in the Laurentian system, so the ships available to respond to Vulcan consist of whatever happened to be in drydock in Earth orbit at the time, and Starfleet's forced to call up the corps of cadets from the Academy in order to crew them. Then the ''Narada'' blows away all of them save the ''Enterprise'' (because the ''Enterprise'' was late to the party because Sulu goofed).
** Taken to the logical conclusion in ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness'' when the ''Enterprise'' is on the receiving end of a CurbStompBattle from the ''Vengeance'' in orbit of the Moon and not one other starship comes by to investigate.
* Spoofed in ''Film/TheHidden'' (1987) when the Chief says that when the cop protagonist is reassigned:
-->"My department will then crumble, crime will run rampart, the city will fall into ruin, rampaging hordes will control the streets and life as we know it will end!"
* In ''Film/TheFifthElement'', Korben Dallas is the only man for the job who has the certifications for a (ridiculously) long list of weapons and spacecraft, ''and'' is still alive.
* Justified in ''Film/ExecutiveDecision'' after Sergeant Matheny, the squad's explosives expert, is critically injured and paralyzed, aviation engineer Dennis Cahill (who has been left behind to "keep an eye" on Matheny) is forced to try his hand at defusing the bomb. He does just that, in a manner that Matheny admits he never would have thought of.
** Similarly Dr. Grant joins in the final assault on the terrorists because there are not enough commandos left to take out all the terrorists at once.
* Jason asserts this about him and his friends in ''Film/MysteryTeam'', claiming that they're the only ones capable of doing what the police can't.
* Pick any SuperHero movie and chances are, that one hero will be the only character in that universe with the powers/gadgets to take down the many supervillains that pop up.
** In the ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy'', five super-powered villains show up throughout the series but Spidey is apparently the one and only superhero.
** Film/{{Superman}} is obviously the one and only superhero in his films to the point where the Earth seems screwed when a single super-powered menace shows up or natural disaster happens, requiring him to act. In fact, that universe can't even stop a single, non-powered [[ComicBook/LexLuthor mad scientist]] from nearly nuking the planet.
** The first two films in the ''Film/BladeTrilogy'' shows the lone, titular hero going up against an entire world of vampires with only one aging ally for support. [[Film/BladeTrinity The third film]] gave him two more allies but they were simply [[BadAssNormal really tough and didn't have any powers]].
** The original ''Film/{{Batman}}'' movie series had Batman as the only hero of that universe for two and a half movies with Robin joining him about midway through ''Film/BatmanForever'' and Batgirl later joining at the tail-end of the infamous ''Film/BatmanAndRobin'' movie. Even then, that's only three superheroes and about eight supervillains throughout that series.
** This trope is averted in ''Film/IronMan'' where Tony Stark believes he is the only superhero in that universe and seems annoyed when he gains allies. Obviously, these films are a part of the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse which has set out to avert this trope in superhero movies.
* ''Film/HotFuzz'' lets us know that Sgt. Angel is far and away the most effective officer in London. Subverted in that this only makes his coworkers annoyed and gets him reassigned to a village out in the boondocks, at which point crime back in his original precinct immediately spikes upward.
* ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'' has the title character as the only guy in the universe tough (and [[SociopathicHero ruthless]]) enough to take down the BigBad (Riddick's home planet [[WorldOfBadass was filled with such badasses]], so of course [[DoomedHometown it was destroyed in a suprise preemptive strike]]).
* Subverted in ''Franchise/StarWars''; when Obi-Wan says that Luke is their last hope, Yoda responds by reminding him that ThereIsAnother.
* The ''Film/MysteryMen'' accidentally kill the only one qualified to be the One, so the city has to settle for their attempt to salvage the day.
* ''Franchise/{{Rambo}}'' in all but the original film.
** ''Film/RamboFirstBloodPartII'': Rambo knows the local terrain of a supposed POW camp, making him perfect for a one-man reconnaissance mission .
** ''Film/RamboIII'': Col. Trautman has been captured by the Soviets during the height of the cold-war. The US military can't be seen to intervene leaving Rambo, who is not only highly skilled but not with the military, the only man they can send in with any hope for success.
** Twice in ''Film/RamboIV''; he knows the local area and has a large enough boat, so the missionaries choose him to sneak them into Burma. Later when the missionaries get captured only he knows where he dropped them off so is required to escort a crew of mercenaries to the correct location.


* By the last book of ''Literature/TheInheritanceCycle'' Eragon is the last sane, free Dragon Rider left after [[spoiler:Brom is killed by Durza, Murtagh is enslaved by [[BigBad Galbatorix]], who {{mind control}}s him into killing Oromis and Glaedr]].
* ''Literature/OnlyYouCanSaveMankind'' gleefully subverts this. [[spoiler: You respawn, while the aliens are KilledOffForReal. Also, you're not the only one who can save mankind. Not that it needs saving, anyway.]]
* Douglas Hill's ''Literature/LastLegionary.'' The last survivor of a planet of [[BadassArmy highly-skilled and galaxy-renowned mercenaries]] versus a shadowy Warlord and his powerful organisation. Fortunately, Keill Randor is a OneManArmy with [[MadeOfIron unbreakable bones]].
* Subverted in the ''Literature/EaCycle'' where many prophecies talk about [[TheChosenOne the Maitreya]] but it turns out that [[ProphecyTwist they were translated from a language without the definite article.]]
* Not the hero, and certainly others were fairly competent, but during his [[Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy final campaign]], we see that not even Captain Pellaeon, the ''second-in-command'', knew what most of Grand Admiral Thrawn's plans were. This meant that when [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity Joruus C'baoth]] used the Force to [[MassHypnosis take control of the entire Imperial fleet]], he couldn't piece together the plan from the hundreds or thousands who had some hint about those, but it also meant that when Thrawn [[BodyguardBetrayal was killed]] and Pellaeon [[YouAreInCommandNow stepped up]], he had to [[KnowWhenToFoldEm call a retreat]]. A sketched-out five-year plan was found later, but, well, it was written with the assumption that the Empire would win that particular battle.
* In the wretched tie-in novel for ''VideoGame/{{Planetfall}}'' an alien diplomat will be unable to stop himself from [[BlackComedyRape raping and murdering]] Earth's diplomat unless the sound of a soprano saxophone is played when they meet, and the protagonist is the only Space Patrol officer who can play one. [[VoodooShark This just raises further questions]].
* ''Literature/StarTrekExMachina'':
** {{Lampshaded}} at one point.
--->"Scotty, there are lives at stake on Daran IV and there aren't any other starships out there."\\
Scott sighed. "Of course not. There never are, are there? Sir."
** The novel also provides an explanation for the ludicrous situation of having only a single starship in Earth's solar system to protect the Federation capital. Apparently, losses in recent years have stretched Starfleet thin (ContinuityNod cluster ahoy), and there was great concern in some quarters precisely because of the limited defense. The V'Ger incident proved these critics right. Why the same situation crops up in later films still needs explaining, sadly, but that's not this novel's concern.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'':
** Len from ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight'' not only starts ''out'' like this, he wants to ''keep it that way'' at first because he doesn't believe anyone from Earth can be trusted with the Kamen Rider Advent Decks, particularly Kit, who is the mirror twin of the Rider who betrayed the team. The fact that most of the Earth Riders actually tend to be bad guys (though a few are innocently duped or framed) doesn't help matters any. He gets better about it as the series goes on, and then it's revealed that he ''wasn't'' the last of the Ventaran Riders to escape being vented anyway.
** In ''Series/KamenRiderBlade,'' [[HeroesRUs BOARD]] gets ransacked in the first episode. We start the series with two members (one being our hero) and a mysterious, unaligned Rider who considers ''everyone'' his enemy as the only good guys who are alive and free, and a ''lot'' of questions as to what is really going on that they have to solve on their own. At least they got to salvage some of the lab equipment (most notably their monster detector.)
* Nicely averted on ''Series/CriminalMinds''. While are heroes are always the best, the local cops are almost always helpful and competent. JurisdictionFriction is played down--in fact, the characters make a point of respecting and aiding the locals.
* In ''Series/TheXFiles'', federal agents Mulder and Scully were often the only ones who could defeat the MonsterOfTheWeek - partly because of the astonishing amount of CorruptHick law enforcers they encountered, and partly because they were usually the only ones who believed or accepted that the threat actually existed in the first place.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Doctor is often the Only One who can save the day, because he's a SufficientlyAdvancedAlien who's way above everyone else and the other Time Lords are either [[NeglectfulPrecursors apathetic]] (in Classic Who) or gone completely (in the 2005 revival). It's long been suggested in the Fandom and the Expanded Universe that the TARDIS is deliberately putting the Doctor into these situations. The Eleventh Doctor episode [[Recap/DoctorWhoS32E4TheDoctorsWife ''The Doctor's Wife'']] expressed it more or less thus:
--> '''The Doctor:''' You never went where I wanted to go!\\
'''The TARDIS:''' But I always took you where you needed to be.
** Clara was the only one who could [[spoiler: save the Doctor's existance by jumping into the his timestream. Mosty BecauseDestinySaysSo and [[YouAlreadyChangedThePast She Already Changed The Past]] ]]
* The local police force vs. FBI variant is the central plot of an ''Series/InTheHeatOfTheNight'' episode, in which the Sparta DA's daughter is kidnapped and Gillespie's force--using their small-town savvy--competes (almost literally) with by-the-book FBI agents to locate her.
* The starship ''[[Franchise/StarTrek Enterprise]]'' seems to be the only ship in the sector when a crisis goes down a ''lot'' of the time. Most egregiously in ''Film/StarTrekGenerations,'' in which the crisis takes place near Earth, the capital of the Federation, and the Enterprise, whose best AppliedPhlebotinum won't be in until Tuesday, is ''still'' the only ship close enough. Apparently, if the Romulans ever decide to bring the fight to our heroes, they'll only have to get past one ship...
** But fully justified in the prequel series ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', as the NX-01 Enterprise is the only Warp 5 spacecraft available until the NX-02 Columbia is completed mid-way through the fourth season.
*** The lack of sufficient defenses is made painfully obvious when a Xindi probe carves a large swath through the Western hemisphere with its prototype planet-destroying beam. The probe ''is'' intercepted and destroyed, but too late for the millions of casualties. When the ''Enterprise'' arrives back to the Solar System, pursued by Duras, Archer is surprised to see system defense ships quickly react to the invader. They might not be equipped with Warp 5 drives, but you can do with Warp 3 when you don't have to leave the system.
** Likewise justified in the series ''[[Series/StarTrekVoyager Voyager]]''. Since the entire premise is that Voyager is stranded halfway across the galaxy from home, there will obviously be no other Starfleet authorities or reinforcements around for them to fall back on.
*** Also finally averted in the GrandFinale as the [[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Dominion War]] has apparently made Starfleet GenreSavvy enough to keep a sizable fleet near Earth, allowing 18 ships to immediately converge on a Borg transwarp aperture which Voyager opens less than a light-year away.
** Downplayed in [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries TOS]], as while the Enterprise ''was'' the only ship in the sector more than once, mostly it was in relatively remote sectors (several other times they ''weren't'' the only ship in the sector, just the only ''surviving'' ship). Then promptly taken to the cliched extreme in The Motion Picture, when the Enterprise is the only available ship at Earth.
* If ''Series/CriminalMinds'' ''averts'' this trope, ''Series/CSIMiami'' plays it completely straight. The Crime Scene investigators are the only law enforcement personnel who care about getting the criminals. The [=DA=]'s only care about getting convictions, even if it is a wrongful one. Judges are at best unhelpful or helpless, at worst are corrupt and seek to hinder the CSI in any way possible. Other cops just don't care. Parole Boards are more focused on bureaucracy than on doing their job of making sure bad people stay in jail.
** Similarly, cops are unable to do anything without Horatio - a CSI. Down to the point where SWAT teams, in full gear, will wait ''patiently'' for Horatio to show up - with a suit and a handgun - before entering a location. Of course [[TheMainCharactersDoEverything Horatio enters first]]. Most evident in an episode where gunfire was heard in a house,-- the cops surround the house, then wait for Horatio before going in to check what happens. (One has to wonder what happens if there are two crimes in Miami at the same time.) Another episode has Horatio personally escorting a truck filled with confiscated drugs that are to be incinerated.
* The trope is also present to a large extent in ''Series/CSINewYork'', with Mac, Flack and Danny (the more cop-like [=CSIs=]) often going in first ahead of the SWAT teams.
* Used to the extreme in ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' where more or less every character has once been declared "''the only one who can stop''" the bad guys (Sylar, usually.)
* In ''Series/TwentyFour'', Jack Bauer is the only one allowed to save the day. He is one of usually five people in CTU that isn't a mole, as well.
** It's not just Jack. Often someone(usually Chloe) will be fired from CTU, only to be brought back later in the day because (presumably) no one else there knows how to use a computer. In fact, operatives have broken the law and still been brought back because they're the only ones who can do whatever it is they do.
** Especially Tony. After he [[spoiler: did a 2-3 episode stint as TheMole]] because of an IHaveYourWife situation, he was told [[spoiler: that he could be charged with treason and given ''death,'' but if he was very cooperative and very lucky, he'd "merely" do 20 years in a federal prison.]] Not only is he allowed to stick around for the duration of the current crisis, he came back the next season because CTU needed him just that much.
* Justified in ''Series/StargateSG1'' as the public (and, therefore, any help outside of the SGC) don't know about the Stargate program. Unjustified in instances when this isn't the case.
** Similarly, the number of times it's SG-1 offworld when a crisis erupts, or that they can't contact the base, or that the endangered aliens specifically ask for that particular team makes you wonder what all the other teams are doing wrong... or right.
*** Ask yourself, knowing people often number things according to quality (and SG-1 are said to be the point team because they are the best - aiding the assumption), would you want SG-24 helping you or SG-12?
*** They're the point team because they have ''lot'' of experience and specialized knowledge which makes them perfect for first-contact or other unsettled situations where assessing what's going on in a timely manner is critical. Most teams aren't going to have an anthropologist/linguistic expert or an expert on Gate physics/Goa'uld technology. Who can defend themselves and are willing to deal with what SG-1 does on a daily basis...
*** It was also said that some teams are specialists of their own. SG-9 was the lawyers and diplomat team specializing in dealing with legal issues, like when SG-1 was put on a prison planet in S2-E3 Prisoners. SG-3 came back to the SGC and Hammond told them they did the right thing in coming back. Meanwhile several teams (SG-3, -5, -18, and -25) are mainly combat support.
** The show was also named Stargate: SG-1. Presumably if they had a Stargate: SG-3 we would get to see SG-3 [[HeroOfAnotherStory running around and taking care of business]]; we just don't because they're not who the show focuses on.
** Somewhat less justified with the various one-shot or recurring scientists. In "The Crystal Skull", the (presumably) second-best archaeology expert can't make heads or tails of the crystal skull and help Daniel. In later episodes, Dr. Lee is often called upon for scientific expertise; he usually just makes things worse. The impression given is that the SGC does try to hire experts other than the members of SG-1, but no one else is as good as they are.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' is the Chosen One, the only one who can defeat the vampires, demons, etc. etc.
--> "In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone can stop the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer."
** Later ''inverted'' by the appearances of Kendra, Faith, and [[spoiler:eventually, the entire Slayer Army.]]
--> '''Xander''': I ''knew'' all that "I'm the only one" business was just an attention-getter!
* The FBI agent characters in ''Series/{{Numb3rs}}'', especially Don, are not exactly incompetent, but it often tends to look like they need Charlie before they can solve cases. Granted, he's one of the main characters, so cases where they didn't need him wouldn't take up whole episodes, but still, there's got to be someone in that office who can catch a criminal without calling in a mathematician.
* Taken to extremes in ''Series/LasVegas''. The hotel security team is a veritable crime fighter unit that hunts down (and sometimes judges and punishes) suspects all on its own. LVPD is mostly content with picking up the criminals at the end of the show. Moreover, said hotel security team only consists of Ed, Danny, and Mike. Literally every bad guy is personally captured by Danny, never mind there being dozens of other guards in the hotel.
* From ''[[{{Sharpe}} Sharpe's Challenge]]'':
-->'''Harper''': You and me, we're going to stop a rebellion? Just the two of us?
-->'''Sharpe''': I don't see no bugger else.
* From ''Series/{{Community}}'' episode "[[Recap/CommunityS1E07IntroductionToStatistics Introduction to Statistics]]".
-->'''Pierce:''' "Is Jeff out there? He is the only one that can help!"
* The titular Series/{{Merlin}} is the last Dragonlord. It is revealed when [[spoiler: Merlin's dad dies]] that there can be only one and the power passes from one individual to another [[spoiler: father-to-son]] upon death.
* This is usually averted on ''Series/{{Grimm}}''. As a Grimm, Nick has special abilities that make allow him to deal really well with Wesen related crimes. However, the other main characters are no slouches themselves and are often quite capable of resolving the situation on their own. Renard tends to neutralize threats that Nick is not even aware of. Monroe protected Aunt Helen from an attack and later saves Hank when Nick is injured.
** Averted in a slightly different way in that the Grimm powers can pop up in anyone sharing the bloodline, and the bloodline has been around since the 1400s at minimum. So not only is Nick not the only person around with the anti-Wesen power set, others can and occasionally do show up that aren't necessarily part of his 'family' beyond some unspecified common ancestor centuries ago. They even have their own bestiaries with sometimes-complimentary, sometimes-contradictory information.
* According to the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Succession_Act#Presidential_Succession_Act_of_1947 Presidential Succession Act]] it would be extremely rare for the Secretary of State to be sworn in as President, but in the ''Series/MadamSecretary'' episode "The Show Must Go On", Liz [=McCord=] ends up being Acting President for a few hours due to a series of coincidences: ''Air Force One'' has gone off the air over the Pacific [[spoiler:due to a cyberattack that knocked out communications]], the vice president had to have emergency gallbladder surgery, the Speaker of the House is also on ''Air Force One'', and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate is ''non compos mentis'' because of a stroke his staff has been keeping secret until the end of his term.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The ''Living City'' campaign featured the most incompetent 15th level fighters imaginable as its local police, called the "City Watch". It was claimed that the police weren't incompetent, just portrayed that way so that the players could be the main heroes and not just call the cops to handle problems. Of course, many players believe that [[LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards by that point]], even if they weren't incompetent, they wouldn't be able to do much against high-level threats anyway.
** Justified in the D&D setting of {{Eberron}}. ''Elite'' City guards are level 2 or 3 ''warriors''. Warriors is an {{NPC}} class weaker than a fighter. This means that effectively the {{PC}}s are the city's only hope against anything, as all but the lowest level of players severely overpower guards (and mid level players can wipe the floor of an entire precinct).
*** The setting has a few higher-level characters, but they often come into play only at a time where the [=PCs=] already out-level them.
*** Also, this justifies the inclusion of the Warforged, hideously expensive sentient golems used in the latter stages of the Last War (which happened to last about 100 years). They were worth their price because of the unorthodox strategies they allowed. (try besieging someone who has no need of food or water; also, consider the [[EasyLogistics ease of logistics when operating somewhere where delivering supplies would be difficult]]) and because they came out of their Creation Forges classed as fighter 2. PC classes represent an enormous potential in this setting, so for many jobs they were indeed The Only Ones capable of doing them. After the war, they also were The Only Ones capable of handling jobs like salvaging sunken ships or working in other hazardous conditions.
* Somewhat averted in the ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' RPG where the police (Lone Star) are a dangerous paramilitary unit that all player characters should try to avoid. Although, in some campaigns (fortunately, not in any of the official campaigns) they still become bunglers when the player characters are around.
** Of course, Lone Star is also portrayed as something of a compromise between competence and budget. Knight Errant, which isn't the official police but does significant security business, is the big player. I think the whole point of the game averts this, though, as the basic outline of a run is your shadowrunning team facing security/police. Yes, the point is to win, but the point is also to have it not be a cakewalk.

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* E.T. in ''Ride/ETAdventure'' is the only one that can save the Green Planet from dying, due to his healing touch.
* Lampshaded in ''Ride/JimmyNeutronsNicktoonBlast'' when Jimmy mentions to Carl and the guests that they're the only ones that save the Nicktoons as well as the entire planet, since only they know of the Yolkians' evil scheme to enslave the earth.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', the current player is always the only one who can solve whatever problem a questgiver has, whether it be retrieving a [=MacGuffin=] from twenty feet away or slaughtering a horde of invading {{Mooks}}. This despite the presence of armed guards nearby who (for PlayerVersusPlayer balance reasons) could often singlehandedly defeat every creature in the zone, and faction leaders stronger than anything else in the game except raid bosses.
** From the lore perspective, there's only one being in the entire setting who can hope to defeat both [[EldritchAbomination the Old Gods]] and the [[FallenHero fallen Titan]] [[{{Satan}} Sargeras]] once and for all, and that's [[spoiler:[[GeniusLoci the slumbering, still-developing world-soul of Azeroth]] herself [[PhysicalGod once she finally awakens as a fully-grown Titan]]]].
* In ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'', [=NetBattling=] is a skill so well known that there are classes about it in elementary school and there are people who do it professionally as a living. Despite that, the only people who appear to be competent at it are Lan and his rival Chaud, who are ten years old. The SpiritualSequel ''VideoGame/MegaManStarForce'' had a somewhat plausible explanation for why the ten year-old hero was the only person capable of saving the day -- there were probably less than a hundred people around the world who could Wave Change, including the villains, none of whom had more than a year or so of experience. Given that, there's no real reason why a kid couldn't be more talented than everyone else in the field.
** In the ''Battle Network'' games, it is {{HandWave}}d by Rockman.EXE/[=MegaMan=].EXE and Blues.EXE/[=ProtoMan=].EXE being specially made, and thus being inherently more powerful than most other Navis. (Forte.EXE/Bass.EXE, designed as a [=NetNavi=] that could operate independently of an Operator, is a similar case.) And they would be more powerful from the start after the first game (in which they only save people because they happen to be in the best position to do it out of people who can try) if not for the BagOfSpilling taking effect. That said, there really isn't anything that stops people responsible for the aforementioned Navis' creation from making more Navis capable of dealing with the danger, so the point stands.
* In most of ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' games, Link is the only one who can liberate Hyrule and or save Zelda. If any other characters attempt to save Hyrule, they will usually either end up being killed or captured.
** Perhaps the most egregious example is ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' where Link actually lives in a Knight Academy, yet none of the other knights (with the exception of Groose) ever help him in his quest. Somewhat justified by Link still being TheChosenOne and Zelda's father keeping everything except that Zelda is missing from the rest of the (small) population.
* Particularly frustrating in ''VideoGame/StarLancer'', where you're part of a large squadron, and the briefings will usually break up a mission into several parts each to be handled by a different part of your squad. But your squadmates are [[ArtificialStupidity so incompetent]] that you can expect to have to do every part of it yourself, even if that means constantly afterburning through the whole mission to try to be in two places at once. Even worse, even if you handle your part of the operation flawlessly, if you didn't also cover the parts other pilots were supposed to do, you will get raked over the coals by your superiors for "your" failure. This is so bad that there are actually missions where you get reprimanded for failing to accomplish things (like torpedoing an enemy ship) that you cannot possibly do since your ship doesn't carry torpedoes. In one mission, if you try, your copilot will take over and force you to go home, and ''you get reprimanded for it''.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'' seems to have this as a driving force of the plot. The world is in crisis after a particularly gigantic tear in the Veil opens, releasing demons and untold horrors upon Thedas. Due to what is implied to be the manipulation of a HiddenVillain, every major faction is [[WeAREStrugglingTogether at each other's throat instead of focusing on the demons]]. The two people most capable of reuniting them, [[VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins the Warden]] and [[VideoGame/DragonAgeII Hawke]], have mysteriously disappeared. This leaves you, [[PlayerCharacter the Inquisitor]], to reinstate the eponymous Inquisition and bring the factions to heel to combat the tear in the Veil.
* In ''Franchise/ProfessorLayton's London Life'', a pixellated RPG packaged with most versions of ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheLastSpecter'', Layton explains that the PlayerCharacter is TheOnlyOne who can prevent TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. Why? Because they are a kind soul who gains their greatest happiness from doing good deeds for others, and only a truly happy person can save the day.

* There is a villainous example in ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure''. The EvilEmpire wants to have an anthem created for it and Umbria/Zaedalkaah is the ''only'' bard in the entire empire. Even though as a bard she's not all that great, she completes the song anyway. Her orchestra is a better fit for the trope though as they have no experience whatsoever with music.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' discovers that this week's MacGuffin was stolen a week ago, and sounds peeved that the world thought it could get along without her:
-->'''Kim:''' Why am I just finding out about this now?
-->'''Wade:''' Um, local, federal and international law enforcement are on the case. They thought they didn't need you.
-->'''Kim:''' Well, I ''guess'' [[PoliceAreUseless they thought wrong]].
* Happens in ''WesternAnimation/TheManCalledFlintstone'' when Fred and Barney find themselves the... well, the only ones who could stop the [[BigBad Villain's]] plot; The Chief and the Film/JamesBond {{expy}} (that Fred had been [[EmergencyImpersonation impersonating]] because they [[IdenticalStranger looked alike]]) had both been incapacitated, while their double agent [[spoiler:was actually the BigBad]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' do it all the time, whenever a problem or commotion happens in Springfield (which may or not have been caused by the Simpsons), one or two of Simpsons take the initiative to solve it or get other people in Springfield to help in doing something about it.
** Lampshaded in ''[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS7E18TheDayTheViolenceDied The Day the Violence Died]]'' where the problem of the week is solved, not by Bart and Lisa, but familiar looking Lester and Eliza.
-->'''Bart:''' ''Well, I wasn't the one who solved the problem, and neither was Lisa. There's something unsettling about that.''
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': Dear God, the Mane Six. And the Princesses. Especially when the Canterlot Royal Guard are involved.