Action Duo

Believe it or not, the Badass and Action Survivor aren't so different that they can't share the spotlight in the same story together.

When both are paired they create an Action Duo similar to Sensitive Guy and Manly Man and Red Oni, Blue Oni; only these two will be practically opposites in just about every possible trait, most notably combat skill. The Badass is of course Made of Iron, skilled at brawling and shooting, and brave enough to wade through any firefight. However, he will often be saddled by the plot with baby-sitting the Action Survivor, who can (at best) run and dodge extremely well, through endless firefights that may be targeted at him.

If the Non-Action Guy at least manages to compensate by being The Smart Guy, you have Brains and Brawn. On the other hand, if the Badass sacrificed a basic skill for their awesome training, the Action Survivor will help round them out. Expect these disparities and constant action to make them Vitriolic Best Buds. However, if they're compatible enough with each other in that they each manage to kick equal amounts of ass, they're probably Bash Brothers.

The plot usually requires the Badass either protect the Action Survivor as they try to escape a Closed Circle, or with an Escort Mission with the Survivor as a Living MacGuffin. Occasionally, the Survivor takes up the role of Side Kick and "sells" his skills as useful to the Badass on his mission. They usually form a working partnership, even becoming friends.

A common portrayal is playing the two as Short-Range Guy, Long-Range Guy pair- normally with the badass being a short range fighter and the action survivor supporting from cover. The roles can occasionally be reversed, however: A Cold Sniper handing his Bumbling Sidekick an ax and using him as Zombie Bait is not unheard of.


  • This was the dynamic between the Esurance special Agent and the former customer turned employee in the commercials, before they ran their course and dropped the special agent angle.

Comic Books
  • Yorick Brown and his bodyguard Agent 355 in Y: The Last Man. She kicks ass; he opens handcuffs and locked doors and quotes pop culture.

  • In several of the Vorkosigan Saga novels, Miles Vorkosigan and his cousin Ivan Vorpatril make up this team: Miles does the strategic thinking while Ivan is dragooned into helping him and doing the physical stuff which the brittle-boned Miles can't.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin and Cira become this. While she's good at fighting, Jerin is very talented at sleight of hand and lockpicking. While he was just kidnapped, and needs to escape, she got herself into the action intentionally.
  • In Fire and Hemlock, Polly and Tom are this, which Polly insisting that she's a hero in training and he's her mentor, while he is a rather reluctant hero. She wants him to kill dragons, while he thinks that a bit much, and would prefer to tame them, anyway. They eventually compromise on a giant who is not killed, but chased away in the end.
  • In Books And Braun, Mr Books is actually the archivist, which doesn't stop secret agent Eliza from dragging him with her when new adventures call - the reason she met him is because he unwittingly got into trouble and she was sent to rescue him. She learnt to value his intellect on this occasion.

Live-Action TV
  • From the first, there is a lot of tension and distrust between Firefly's Mal and Simon. Despite the distrust, when Simon is about to let himself be killed for his sister in "Safe" Mal comes in leading the team in a rescue party, demanding they let the two go. When Mal is in danger in "War Stories" Simon's aim is too poor to be of any help but he still manages to survive.

Professional Wrestling
  • "The Ugandan Giant" Kamala had this dynamic with Classie Freddie Blassie, Friday and Kim Chee. Blassie was a former wrestler who could reasonably handle himself but the other two totally relied on Kamala for protection.
  • Cyndi Lauper played the action survivor role with Captain Lou Albano, who later became a wrestler himself, and more famously with Wendi Richter. She occasionally tied to help in matches but her main role was to sing their entrance music and act as a cheerleader.
  • Paul Bearer wasn't much of a wrestler later in his career, so he switched to managing others, most famously his sons The Undertaker and Kane, in which case he rounded them out by being willing to speak.
  • Jimmy Hart, who had spent years evading pro wrestlers who wanted to beat the piss out of him and Hulk Hogan, who had spent years leg dropping pro wrestlers who wanted to beat the piss out of him, in WCW.
  • The King Jerry Lawler has wrestled well into his 60s but since the turn of the millennium his most high profile role has been a commentator in WWF television where he wasn't on the active roster but proved very protective of his non wrestler partners such as Jim Ross and Joey Styles should they be attacked. Physically attacked anyway, he had no problem with them being insulted. Al Snow and Johnathan Coachman were the evil counterparts to Jerry and JR specifically, Snow being more an Anti-Villain who had to do Coach's fighting but nonetheless coveted JR and King's jobs.
  • Konnan and Homicide liked to project the image of themselves being such a pair after injuries prevented the former from wrestling actively anymore. Konnan also set up one between himself and Puma on Lucha Underground, though everyone suspected him of planning to back stab both of them.
  • Ricardo Rodriguez was a professional wrestler but in WWE his wrestling role was downplayed in favor of being a Very Punchable Man who followed around Alberto Del Rio. Then this was attempted again with Rob Van Dam. After Del Rio snapped and kicked Rodriguez's ass.

Western Animation
  • Kim Possible and her eventual boyfriend Ron Stoppable. Possible is pragmatically a superhero who uses acrobatics and gadgets to save the world, Stoppable usually just tries to keep up.