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Caper Crew
Like the good guys when it comes the Command Roster, when your Villain Protagonists are involved in a Caper, characters tend to fall into a number of roles. Unlike the Command Roster, however, some of the roles really depend on what kind of heist is going on, so the actual number of members and which jobs are included in the Badass Crew, are somewhat more variable than in the military example. Characters are also more likely to have more than one specialization, or some of the more specialized roles are farmed out to Satellite Characters who aren't really part of the main crew. Sometimes the crew will fall into a Five-Man Band, if it has the right amount of members.

Roles in the Caper Crew:

The Bosses:

  • The Mastermind: The leader, who gathered the crew, found the target, calls the shots and thought up the plan. Usually the most experienced in the business as well, and very respected by their crew otherwise they wouldn't be able to keep all these amoral people in line. Compare The Leader, The Chessmaster, The Captain, the Big Bad.
  • The Partner In Crime: The leader's second-in-command, who assists The Mastermind in plan-making and usually almost equally as experienced. Depending on the nature of the crew, he might be the only one besides The Mastermind who actually knows what's going on. May overlap with other roles. Compare The Lancer, The Dragon, the Number Two.
  • The Backer: The Client who is paying for everything. Sometimes he has a deadline or is fussy in some other way that influences the crews actions. Usually only The Mastermind and his Partner interact much with him. There isn't always a backer though, sometimes the crew front the money themselves and fence it hoping to make back enough for a profit.

Tech Skill Roles:

  • The Hacker: The guy who hacks into computers and whatnot, very often a young kid who is a Playful Hacker or The Cracker. Sometimes he isn't a part of the team, but just someone who another character has ties with.
  • The Gadget Guy: The Gadgeteer Genius who builds all the special stuff you need to break into the vault security or whatever it may be. In a smaller crew he will often overlap with The Hacker, or the crew may simply outsource the job to someone else they know offscreen.
  • The Coordinator: Basically Mission Control, and usually isn't a role so much as some other character will have this role on top of another, usually The Hacker or The Mastermind.

Thieving-Skill Roles:

  • The Conman: The guy who usually does most of the conning, acting and people manipulating using confidence tricks. Sometimes they are referred to as a Grifter. May also act as The Mole if it's necessary.
  • The Distraction: This role has a lot of versatility in how it is achieved, but it just comes down to distracting the dupes while their pals run off with their money (or whatever it is). May be a Femme Fatale seductress, or a really loud obnoxious guy, or even a bomb specialist.
  • The Burglar: May be a Classy Cat-Burglar or some other form of savvy-thief, they are the person who infiltrates and helps themselves to the goods. May also be a safe-cracker but that is becoming less common as technology develops and most locks are electronic, requiring the more tech-oriented roles instead.
  • The Pickpocket: The guy who has the steadiest hands, performing any job that requires slight-of-hand stealing of security cards and the like. May be merged with one of the other Thieving roles, but if not then they may be a former Street Urchin.

Labor-Oriented roles:

  • The Driver: He drives the getaway vehicle. Compare the Ace Pilot.
  • The Muscle: The Brute or The Big Guy, he's around to help with carrying heavy things, beating people up, acting as a bodyguard or being threatening and menacing.
  • The Acquisitioner: Also known as The Scrounger, this guy comes up with whatever random thing the crew needs. He always knows a guy who knows a guy who has a cousin, and shows up with the right tool for the job, no matter how obscure or however vaguely established it is how he managed it.

Other Roles:

  • The New Kid: Basically an apprentice and New Meat. He's new and is learning from everyone. He probably has his own specialized skills, pulled some small jobs with another crew, but either way he isn't taken quite as seriously or respected as much as the other members of the crew.
  • The Legendary Thief: Basically the Old Master of the mastermind, he's the go-to-guy when they get stuck. He's been around forever, knows everyone and is the absolute best at the game. Usually retired and sipping cocktails on the beach whenever he is approached.
  • The Inside Man: If The Conman isn't acting as The Mole, then the team may have one of these. A guy who works for the people being robbed, assisting the robbers with codes or secrets or whatever it is they need to get in. May be an actual member of the crew from the start, recruited later, or be no longer working for them anymore.
  • The Fall Guy: On occasion, the team may have one of these, who sometimes falls under the Na´ve Newcomer or Fresh Meat category. This person is someone that the team finds useful but also expendable, and willingly give up to the police in exchange for either their own immunity, or to buy them some more time if the plan goes awry.

Compare Command Roster, The Caper. A subtrope of Badass Crew.


Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • Lupin III and his gang practically embody this trope.
    • Lupin: The Mastermind + Coordinator of the group's activities, he's also their Gadget Guy, a master Con Artist, and an accomplished Pickpocket. See also: Master of Disguise.
    • Jigen: Lupin's right hand man and lifelong Partner In Crime. Also serves as the Driver and the Muscle.
    • Goemon: The group's other Muscle, though he's an impossibly skilled swordsman rather than a thug.
    • Fujiko: Lupin's on-again/off-again gal pal. Occasional Partner in Crime and a highly skilled Cat Burglar, but has been known to serve as the Distraction or their Inside Woman when the job requires it.

Film

  • Inception: Dom is the Mastermind, Saito is the Backer, Arthur is the Partner in Crime, Ariadne is the New Kid, Yusuf is the Gadget Guy, Eames is the Con Man. Yusuf and Arthur mostly share Distraction duties, though that's more a function of how the movie's particular heist is set up than a general role thing.
  • Sneakers: Bishop is the Mastermind, Crease is the Partner in Crime, Carl is the Burglar/Safe Cracker, the Hacker, and was presumably the New Kid a few years ago, Whistler is the Gadget Guy, and Mother is the Coordinator and the Driver.
  • Ocean's Eleven (2001):
    • Danny Ocean: The Mastermind / The Distraction
    • Rusty Ryan: The Partner in Crime / The Coordinator
    • Reuben Tishkoff: The Backer
    • Livingston Dell: The Hacker
    • Basher Tarr: The Gadget Guy
    • Saul Bloom: The Conman (The Distraction in Thirteen)
    • The Amazing Yen: The Burglar, due to his acrobatic skill
    • Linus Caldwell: The Pickpocket / The New Kid
    • Virgil and Turk Malloy, "The Twins": The Driver / The Muscle
    • Frank Catton: The Inside Man
  • In the sequels, we have:
    • Tess Ocean: The Distraction (Twelve)
    • Gaspar LeMarque: The Legendary Thief (Twelve)
    • Terry Benedict: The backer (Thirteen)
    • Twelve and Thirteen also has Ma and Pa (respectively) Caldwell appear as Distractions/Inside Persons, posing as authorities (in the latter case, that's his day job), much to Linus's chagrin.
    • Thirteen also has the Twins briefly taking on Livingston's role as The Hacker, after he is taken into custody.
    • Twelve and Thirteen also have Roman Nagel as The Acquisitioner and part-time Gadget Guy. In Twelve, he supplies them with a custom-built holo-projector, while in Thirteen, he not only installs the rigged card-shuffling machines after Livingston is arrested, but, in a deleted scene, actually shows Livingston how to rig them.
  • The Thieves:
    • Popie: The Mastermind
    • Macau Park: The Mastermind/The Backer
    • Zampano: The Gadget Guy
    • Yenicall: The Burglar (Classy Cat-Burglar)
    • Pepsee and Julie: The Burglar (safecrakers)
    • Chewing Gum: The Con Man
    • Chen: The Distraction
    • Andrew and Jonny: The Muscle
  • The Asphalt Jungle:
    • Doc: The Mastermind
    • Emmerich: The Backer
    • Louis: The Burglar
    • Dix: The Brute
    • Gus: The Driver

Literature

  • In Donald E Westlake's Dortmunder novels Dortmunder is the Mastermind, Kelp is the Partner In Crime, Murch is the Driver, and Tiny Bulcher is the Muscle.
  • Mistborn has a fairly odd crew. Kelsier is the Mastermind, Yeden is the Backer, Dockson is the Coordinator and Partner in Crime, Breeze is a master Conman, Ham is the Muscle, and Renoux, Marsh, and Vin are all the Inside Men, and Vin doubles as the New Kid. Clubs is sort of a Concealer (he uses his copper Allomancy to hide the others' Allomantic signatures), Spook uses his Super Senses to be a Lookout, and Sazed functions as a Driver from time to time, although he's really the team Badass Bookworm. Also, Kelsier doubles as the Distraction, a second Muscle, and the Burglar, as does Vin.
  • Heist Society and it's sequel Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter does this. The roles are generally the same - we have Katarina as the Mastermind, Hale as The Partner in Crime, Simon fills all the Tech Roles, Gabrielle is the combination of The Distraction (very much so) and The Burglar/Pickpocket, we have the Bagshaw brothers as The Muscle, Nick is the New Kid/Pickpocket and The Mole in Heist Society and dear old Uncle Eddie as The Legendary Thief.

Live-Action TV

  • Leverage has a Grifter (Conman+ Distraction), Hitter (Muscle and Driver), a Thief (Pickpocket and Burglar), a Hacker (Hacker and Gadget Guy) and The Mastermind who doubles as The Backer. Nate doesn't seem to really have any more money than anyone else — he does the "paying for everything" thing, but it almost seems like the client-of-the-week is Leverage's Backer (as they're the ones who set the overall mission constraints). Also, Nate and Hardison generally share the Coordinator role, and Hardison is probably more likely to be the Distraction than anyone but Sophie.
    • An episode has them face off against a nearly-identical crew, minus a Grifter. Naturally, each role ends up facing off against their counterpart.
    • In another episode, their enemy knows everything about them (it was the guy who originally put the crew together), so they double-down on almost all roles: two Hitters (including a former enemy), two Grifters (one of them being Nate's ex-wife), two Thieves (Parker's Gentleman Thief mentor), two Hackers (including a former enemy), but only one Mastermind.
    • They also switch Grifters for a few episodes, while the actress who plays the original Grifter is pregnant.
  • Human Target: Ames (acting as The New Kid and The Burglar) gets roped into one of these; her job is to snake her way through the airducts & disable the security system. Chance goes in too, taking the place of "Mr. Chicago" - who he later discovers is the "cleaner." It's his job to kill everybody involved with the heist so the Mastermind doesn't have to pay them anything.
  • Hustle
    • Original crew: Mickey is the Mastermind, Stacey is the Distraction, Ash is the Hacker, the Gadget Guy, and the Safe Cracker, and the Driver. Danny is the New Kid. Albert and Stacey take turns acting as the Partner in Crime; everyone except Ash takes turns as the Conman.
    • Second crew: With Mickey gone, Danny takes over as Mastermind. Billy becomes the new New Kid. The roles of other characters are unchanged.
    • Third crew: Mickey is back as the Mastermind, Emma is the new Distraction and is also the Pickpocket. She and Sean are both New Kids, although Emma quickly rises to take Stacey's role as Partner in Crime. Ash and Albert's roles remain unchanged.
  • Mission: Impossible's cast always fit into one or more of these roles.
  • In "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", the senior leadership of Deep Space Nine decides to steal $1 million from the hotel count room.
    • The Mastermind - the whole crew contributes in theory. Truthfully, when the Retired Thief joins, it becomes his plan.
    • The Partner In Crime - since the whole crew is involved, they all fit. Miles O'Brien and Dr. Bashir stand out, since they were there when the mob arrived.
    • The Backer - Vic, whose risking both his own "life" (his memories of the crew, since this is a hologram with safeties on, they won't lose anything), and supplying the High Roller distraction with his nest egg.
    • The Coordinator - the lack of this role is noticeable when the plan goes badly.
    • The pickpocket - Rather inverted with Bashir; he slips Ipecac into a martini.
    • The Distraction - most of the crew do this job, in different ways.
      • Vic is hanging out with the High Roller, they're distracting the casino customers.
      • Kira is hanging out with Mickey-eyes, the new boss.
      • Cassidy is "drunk" and telling the guard that...
      • Miles has stolen her chips, but he says he's innocent.
    • The Burglar - Nog is a safecracker, using his Ferengi hearing to listen to the tumblers.
    • The muscle - Odo is the one who will carry out a suitcase full of $1 million, and make it look easy.
    • The Retired Thief - they need one more person to do the role of High Roller, but noone seems interested. An earlier conversation convinces Sisko to join them, and he takes over from there.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Time Heist", the Doctor and Clara are part of a Caper Crew breaking into the biggest bank in the universe. The Mastermind who recruited them is a mysterious figure called the Architect ( who's actually the Doctor, operating through pre-prepared messages, but they wiped their minds to get past the bank's telepathic security, so he doesn't know that) who is also the Coordinator and probably the Gadget Guy; the Doctor is the Partner in Crime (claiming that being in charge is his special ability); Psi, a Cyborg with a computerised brain, is the Hacker and also serves as the Distraction at one point; Saibra, a Humanshifter, is the Con Woman; and Clara is the New Kid. The Backer is the future self of the bank's owner, trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, and is therefore also the Inside Woman.

Video Games
  • Covert Action requires the Player Character to uncover criminal plans — that is, who participates and what exactly they are supposed to do — and upon collecting full incriminating information either arrest them or blackmail into cooperation. Roles other than Mastermind vary depending on which of 13 basic plots is used — there are Inside Contact, Middleman, Courier, Driver, Mercenary, Kidnapper, Researcher, Alarm Specialist, Thief, Assassin and so on.
  • The City of Heroes Summer event mission "Casino Heist", being based on The Caper, lets the players take on the roles of the Caper Crew: the hacker (Hacker), thief (Burglar), grifter (Conman/Distraction), and hitter (Muscle/Distraction).
  • Sly Cooper series has most of the primary skills handled by the three main members of the Cooper Gang. Sly handles the thieving-related skills. Bentley is the resident tech specialist while Murray is the driver and the muscle. The third game expands the team with members who possess more specific skillsets while the fourth game brings it back to just the main three with Carmelita along with the ride and era-specific ancestors of Sly.
  • The Cast of Monaco: What's Yours is Mine are a stereotypical Caper Crew, to the point that they are addressed almost exclusively by their job titles.
  • Payday 2 has four classes that can be filled by any of the four characters. The Mastermind's role is to support his teammates and control hostages and cops. The Enforcer serves as the party tank and cutting locks. The Technician focuses on using gadgets and explosives while The Ghost focuses on infiltration and stealth. Bain serves as the group's handler.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, you can hire various individuals to fulfill roles when planning a heist, usually a hacker, getaway driver or a gunman.

Western Animation
  • The regulars become a Caper Crew (with limited success) in the Chowder episode "The Heist". The roles are:
    • Mung - The Mastermind
    • Schnitzel - The Muscle
    • Gazpacho - The Driver
    • Truffles - The Burglar (operates the jackhammer they use to break in)
    • Chowder - The New Kid (acts as lookout)

Cain and Abel and SethEnsemblesCaptain Smooth and Sergeant Rough
Brother-Sister TeamThe Index TeamCharacter Magnetic Team
Canon ImmigrantCharacters as DeviceCaptain Oblivious
Double CaperSteal This IndexCaper Rationalization
Cannibal ClanAdded Alliterative AppealCaptain Colorbeard

alternative title(s): Heist Team
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