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A specific pair that is especially common to adventure games. The Hero
tends to be fairly serious, at least for what world they're in. They usually retain a sarcastic sense of humor
and are quite literal-minded. The Lancer
, on the other hand, is weird. They might be neurotic, borderline psychotic (or they are psychotic), naive, cowardly
, lecherous, treacherous, whatever. They might occasionally act serious when the plot demands, but besides that, they're an oddball.
In regards to video games, the reason for this is so that when The Hero
points something out, The Lancer
will make a comment about it which is funny, helping the player to remember the clue.
Like Salt and Pepper
, but without the racial element. Occasionally fights crime
. Often confused with Battle Couple
, which is entirely different. Usually. In cases where this trope is inverted, the sidekick might be one that is hypercompetent
Anime and Manga
- Cable and Deadpool, who provide the page image.
- Havok and Polaris, from the first volume of X-Factor. Havok wrings his hands so much over the responsibility of leadership that Polaris has to gently remind him to not be so much like his brother Cyclops. Polaris has deep-seated insecurities that crop up occasionally, so they have been known to swap roles.
- Red features Frank Moses and Marvin Boggs, a pair of ex-CIA operatives who take down a lot of fresh-faced assassins together - Frank with experience and all-rounded combat skills, Marvin with very large guns and the kind of mad survival instincts that eleven straight years of LSD dosing can instill in a man.
- Mal and Zoe of Firefly somewhat invert this, where Zoe is the cool, levelheaded and serious one, while Mal is the somewhat weird one despite being the lead character.
- The same thing is done in Farscape, where Aeryn is so in control that she's only ever out of control for one or two scenes in the entire series, and John starts out spooked by all the alien life and gets progressively crazier as it progresses. Also a Battle Couple.
- Sam and Dean Winchester. Played straight in Sam-centric episodes where the more serious Sam is The Hero and Dean is The Lancer. Inverted in Dean-centric where the goofier (but very broken) Dean is The Hero and Sam is The Lancer.
- House and Wilson.
- Arthur and Merlin, at least some of the time. Merlin is serious at times as well, though.
- Keen Eddie has Eddie and Monty.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has Phoenix Wright (sarcastic, literal hero) and Maya Fey (happy-go-lucky oddball). Eventually he encounters Pearl who is less odd, but only because she's a little girl - her personality is equally upbeat, but more bolshy than Maya. And Maya's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Ema, is even more happy-go-lucky and even more naive.
- And when Franziska von Karma, the very serious, whip-happy prosecutor, tags along with you in the third game, her general misunderstanding of American/Japanese culture and many things outside her area of expertise lead to much the same effect as if she was Maya.
- And it's taken pretty much to the extreme with ultra-sarcastic, refined Edgeworth and his sidekick Gumshoe, who's like Doctor Zoidberg without the lobster.
- Edgeworth gets multiple sidekicks throughout his own game. Gumshoe and Franziska are the only returning characters to fill this role while the most prominent of the new characters is Kay Faraday, a self proclaimed Great Thief. 2 different stewardess take the role as well during the second case as you are on a plane mid-flight. There's also 13 year old Franziska and new cop Gumshoe who are paired with Edgeworth during a flashback case while he still strived for perfection leading to a slightly diffrent feeling then their present day selves. Also Franziska is the butt of many short jokes during this time
- Although this relationship is inverted in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, where Ema is now substituting for Gumshoe, and shows open disdain for new prosecuting attorney Klavier, who she describes repeatedly as a "glimmerous fop". As for Apollo, he regularly works with Trucy Wright in this game and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies .
- Neverwinter Nights 2 has the (hopefully) more levelheaded player character and Khelgar, the psychotic dwarf.
- Though the game has many possibilities, especially adding in Mask of the Betrayer. You can play the silly one with Elanee, Casavir, Safiya, Kaelyn, or Okku as the serious sidekick; or you can play the serious member of the pair with Bishop, Khelgar, Neeshka, or Gann as the sillier sidekick.
- Depending upon how you play it, the player character can be the silly one with Bastila as the serious counterpart in Knights of the Old Republic.
- A similar situation can occur with the player and the Handmaiden in the sequel.
- Jade Empire has the potential for the player to be quite silly, with Silk Fox constantly reminding him/her of the seriousness of the situation.
- Dragon Age: Origins is set up so that the Warden is usually going to be the Only Sane Man while everyone else in your party, including Alistair and Morrigan who both come closest to playing The Lancer, are at least slightly mad.
- The best example in Dragon Age II is inverted, with Silly!Hawke as the lead and Aveline as The Lancer.
- Aveline is the best at playing the Straight Man without even knowing it. Varric can do it too, but he knows it. For the rest you're going to have to step up for sanity sooner or later.
- One of the better straight versions is Aggressive!Hawke paired with Isabella, who cheats, backstabs, snarks, and flirts her way through every quest and only gets serious at a few key plot points.
- Grim Fandango stars Manny Calavera, a driven, lovestruck Grim Reaper, and his sidekick Glottis, an eight-foot-tall gearhead demon with a gambling problem and a weakness for nitroglycerin martinis.
- Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has Revya, a Wide-Eyed Idealist Heroic Mime who wants to save the world, and Gig, the Heroic Comedic Sociopath Omnicidal Maniac who lives inside the former's head and wants to wantonly destroy, corrupt and befoul everything and generally make the world a worse place because he thinks it's funny, but has to come along on the world-saving anyhow and generally snarks about all the plot points and characters.
- This dynamic is a bit different in the Demon Path, in which both Revya and Gig are Omnicidal Maniacs and get on like a house on fire... Or a pair of insane maniacs who like setting fire to houses. And trees. And people. And everything else.
- In Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time the protagonist, Crevaniel, travels with a quirky, fairy-like familiar.
- The Sam & Max: Freelance Police games has Sam the sarcastic, literal hero, and Max, who's... er, Max.
- Deconstructed in Sam and Max Season 3 Episode 4: Beyond The Alley Of The Dolls, when the Sam clones were made because Sam is 'the perfect straight man', meaning they could be easily controlled by a Funny Guy.
- Baldur's Gate has Jaheira the wise fighter-druid, and Khalid her neurotic husband. Or Khalid the gentle and cautious fighter and Jaheira his overly wilful wife. Make of that what you will. They're both just slightly weird.
- Depending on how you play the game, the Player Character can have this relationship with several of the party members. Including his/her love interest.
- Neku and Beat in The World Ends with You, Neku and Shiki to a lesser extent. Neku is always serious and sarcastic, while Beat is goofy, impulsive, and stubborn. Shiki tries to pretend to be always cheery, but it turns out that she's not exactly what she appears.
- Inverted in Snatcher. Gillian, the hero, is a Handsome Lech with an odd way of looking at the world, and Metal is a literal strait-laced snarky robot. However, most of the environmental observations are governed by Metal, and Gillian takes the helm in conversations where his oddness can really shine.
- Mario (hero) and Luigi (sidekick) in the Super Mario Bros. series when Luigi isn't simply a Palette Swap of his big brother or a "Player 2" option (for example: the Mario & Luigi games).
- Banjo (hero) and Kazooie (sidekick) in the Banjo-Kazooie series.
- Rayman (hero) and Globox from (sidekick) The Rayman series and Rayman Origins.
- Jak (hero) and Daxter (sidekick) in the Jak and Daxter series.
- In the freeware adventure game Ben There Dan That Ben is the more straightforward hero, while Dan is a Cloudcuckoolander but is crazy good at video games.
- The Legend of Spyro trilogy pairs the eponymous character up with Sparx the dragonfly, who compensates for being The Load in combat by having wisecracks for every situation.
- This behavior pattern makes it a Crowning Moment of Awesome when Sparx actually K.O.'s one of the more annoying bad guys with a single punch (granted said antagonist wasn't much bigger than Sparx himself, but it was still a cathartic moment).
- From Pokémon Diamond and Pearl on, it appears that the player character of the opposite gender from the PC you choose is your "rival". He/She is more of just a friend than a rival, though.
- Inverted in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers with Wigglytuff (Cloudcuckoolander, hero) and Chatot (Jerk with a Heart of Gold, lancer)
- Serious Snake and oddball Otacon from Metal Gear Solid.
- Ratchet & Clank inverts this trope, with main character Ratchet being fun-loving and whimsy, and sidekick Clank being serious and out to save the galaxy.
- Played with in Secret of Evermore, where it overlaps with A Boy And His Dog.
- The Courier of Fallout: New Vegas and any of their possible companions. There is no 'ordinary' when it comes to who you travel with in the Mojave, and the Courier is the sarcastic Straight Man to your companions, with not a single 'normal' one among them. Most of the Courier's reactions to their Companion is playing off their personality quirks. You also usually only travel with one intelligible individual at a time (you may find some companions who don't speak per se and will join you to make a trio), so there you go.
- The Order of the Stick provides us with Roy and Elan (at times, V, Durkon and occasionally Haley play the serious role, while Belkar also plays the goofy role). Also provides us with the villainous subversion: Xykon is the main villain, and just likes to goof around, while Redcloak is the serious one who makes all the plans and preparations. Strangely, the "goofy" one is the more powerful one.
- Xykon is mostly just bored, unable to sleep, and can only spend so many hours working on artifacts, posing him with the problem of how to spend those remaining hours. Up until Xykon gets ticked off when Redcloak loses Xykon's Soul Jar when V attacked. Xykon then proceeds to become more serious.
- The title characters from Triangle and Robert.
- 8-Bit Theater provides us with Fighter who is a Cloudcuckoolander with a very literal take on things (metaphors don't exist for him), and Black Mage who is... all of The Lancer traits listed at the top of this page.
- In The Gamers Alliance, there is a villainous variant with Kaizoku who is the snarking and mostly serious fairy pirate and Shuu who is his oddball kitsune companion in a human shape.
- Scrooge and Vegeta take on this dynamic in Ducktalez 7.
- Truth in Television. Josiah and Elanor Creasy Happily Married captain and navigator of the clipper Flying Cloud.
- Samuel Baker and his wife Lady Florence when exploring Africa. She was a Hungarian former slave whose freedom Baker had purchased, then they fell in love and married.