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Combat and Support
In a lot of video games, as well as most other media forms, there are usually two types of characters: Those who handle the main objectives (i.e. the main protagonist), and those who support whoever is handling said main objectives (i.e. the main protagonist's various companions). Sometimes, it's in the form of the soldiers who fight on the battlefield, and the operators who guide their troops from the mission-control room. Other times, it's The Mentor providing teachings to The Hero, who would make good use of said teachings to complete the rest of the mission.

Regardless, you can't have too many people handling a single job. Have everyone handle the combat role, and they'll die too quickly and easily. Have everyone handle the support role, on the other hand, and they'll be unable to complete their main objectives. Split the whole team into two halves, one focusing on combat, and the other focusing on support, and you've created a well-balanced team that can handle anything.

This concept is very much Truth in Television. Everyone can only do so much in modern militaries (and likely long, long past that...at least Older Than Print, since European knights had squires to take care of their equipment).

See tropes such as An Adventurer Is You for more information.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Video Game Examples 

  • In the Assassin's Creed franchise, Support includes:
  • The BioWare Star Wars games
    • Knights of the Old Republic's character-classes
      • Combat: Soldier and Jedi-Guardian
      • Balance: Scout and Jedi-Sentinel
      • Support: Scoundrel and Jedi-Consular
    • Knights of the Old Republic's sides of the force
      • Combat: The dark-side and its emphasis on force damage and debuffs
      • Support: The light-side and its emphasis on force healing and buffs
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic's character-classes
      • Combat: Jedi-Knight and Trooper (Galactic Republic); Sith-Warrior and Bounty-Hunter (Sith Empire); resourceful for main-damage and tanking
      • Support: Jedi-Consular and Smuggler (Galactic Republic); Sith-Inquisitor and Imperial-Agent (Sith Empire); resourceful for support-damage and healing
      • Note that any class can pick from two advanced classes, and each advanced class has three specialization trees. Meaning a Sith Inquisitor, for example, can pick Sorceror (Damage/Healing) or Assassin (Damage/Tanking). There's a lot of options.
  • Borderlands' playable-characters
    • Combat: Brick (close-quarters combat) and Lilith (elemental-damage)
    • Support: Mordecai (long-ranged sniping) and Roland (healing and supplying)
  • The Call of Duty franchise and a variety of other shooters like it
    • The Weapons
      • Balance: Mid-range weapons, namely the Assault-Rifle
      • Combat: CQB-Weapons, including the Submachine-Gun, Shotgun, and Handgun; resourceful for reaching objectives
      • Support: Long-Ranged Weapons, including the Light Machine-Gun, Sniper-Rifle, and Launcher; resourceful for defending objectives
    • The Vehicles, if there are any
      • Combat: Fast/weak vehicles, including recon-vehicles and aircraft, for capturing objectives
      • Support: Slow/strong vehicles, including tanks and naval-craft, for defending objectives
  • Capcom vs. Whatever, i.e. Marvel vs. Capcom 3
    • Combat: Active-combatants, who do most of the fighting unless tagged-out
    • Support: Reserve-combatants, who can use assist-moves and team-combos, as well as tag-in to take their teammates' places
  • Chrono Trigger
    • Balance: Chrono, Frog, and Magus
    • Combat: Robo and Ayla
    • Support: Lucca and Marle
  • Competitive Balance
  • The Diablo franchise
    • Diablo 1's classes
      • Combat: Warrior
      • Balance: Rogue
      • Support: Sorcerer
    • Diablo 2's classes
      • Combat: Barbarian and Assassin
      • Balance: Amazon, Paladin, and Druid
      • Support: Necromancer and Sorceress
    • Diablo 3's classes
      • Combat: Barbarian and Monk
      • Balance: Demon Hunter and Crusader
      • Support: Witch Doctor and Wizard
  • The Donkey Kong Country franchise
    • Combat: Donkey Kong, Kiddy Kong, and Chunky Kong; resourceful for combat due to their heavy weight
    • Support: Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, Tiny Kong, and Lanky Kong; resourceful for navigation due to their light weight
  • Doom, especially in co-op and team-multiplayer
    • Combat: Close-quarters weapons, including fists, the chainsaw, the shotgun, and the plasma-gun
    • Support: Long-ranged weapons, including the pistol, the chaingun, the rocket-launcher, and the BFG9000
  • The Dragon Age franchise
    • Classes
      • Combat: Two-Handed Warrior; Archer Rogue; Dual Weapon Rogue; Primal Mage
      • Support: Creation Mage; Weapon and Shield Warrior
    • The Dragon Age: Origins party:
      • Combat: Leliana, Morrigan, Oghren, Shale, Sten, Zevran
      • Support: Alistair, Loghain, Wynne
    • The Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening party:
      • Combat: Justice, Nathaniel Oghren, Sigrun, Velanna
      • Support: Anders, Justice
    • The Dragon Age II party:
      • Combat: Aveline, Carver, Fenris
      • Balance: Isabela, Sebastian, Varric
      • Support: Anders, Bethany, Merrill
  • Driving Games such as Gran Turismo, Mario Kart, Need for Speed, and Ridge Racer
    • Combat: Lightweight cars, which can go fast but can't handle well; resourceful for straightforward race-tracks
    • Support: Heavyweight cars, which can handle well but goes slow; resourceful for race-tracks with tighter turns.
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • The Final Fantasy franchise
    • Final Fantasy I's character-classes
      • Combat: Warrior/Knight, Thief/Ninja, and Monk/Master
      • Support: Red-Mage/Red-Wizard, Black-Mage/Black-Wizard, and White-Mage/White-Wizard
    • Final Fantasy II, in-terms of starting-stats
      • Balance: Firion (hybrid)
      • Combat: Guy (physical-combat)
      • Support: Maria (magic)
    • The Final Fantasy II re-releases' Soul of Rebirth storyline
      • Combat: The physical-fighters, Josef the monk and Ricard the dragoon
      • Support: The spell-casters, Minwu the white-wizard and Prince Scott of Kashuan (the latter-character acts somewhat as the group's black-mage)
    • Final Fantasy III's character-classes
      • Combat: Freelancer/Onion-Knight, Warrior, Thief, Monk, Ranger/Hunter, Knight, Viking, Dragoon, Black-Belt, Dark-Knight, and Ninja
      • Support: White-Mage, Black-Mage, Red-Mage, Scholar, Geomancer, Evoker/Conjurer, Bard, Magus/Warlock, Devout/Shaman, Summoner, and Sage
    • Final Fantasy IV,
      • Combat: Cecil, Kain, Yang, Edge, and Cid
      • Support: Rosa, Rydia, Tellah, Edward, Porom, Palom, and FuSoYa
    • Final Fantasy VI,
      • Combat: Locke, Edgar, Sabin, Shadow, Cyan, Gau, Setzer, Umaro, and Gogo
      • Support: Terra, Celes, Relm, Strago, and Mog
    • Final Fantasy VIII, in terms of limit-breaks,
      • Combat: Squall, Zell, and Irvine
      • Support: Rinoa, Selphie, and Quistis
    • Final Fantasy IX
      • Combat: Zidane, Steiner, Freya, and Amarant
      • Support: Garnet/Dagger, Vivi, Eiko, and Quina
    • Final Fantasy X
      • Combat: Tidus, Wakka, Auron, and Rikku
      • Support: Yuna and Lulu
      • Balance: Kimahri
    • Final Fantasy XIII's paradigm-roles
      • Combat: Commando, Ravager, and Saboteur
      • Support: Sentinel, Medic, and Synergist
  • The Golden Sun franchise
    • The first Golden Sun
      • Combat: Garret
      • Balance: Isaac
      • Support: Ivan and Mia
    • Golden Sun: The Lost Age
      • Balance: Felix and Piers
      • Support: Jenna and Sheba
    • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
      • Combat: Tyrell and Sveta
      • Balance: Matthew, Amiti, and Eoleo
      • Support: Karis, Rief, Amiti, and Himi
  • The Halo franchise
    • Combat: Master Chief; his job is to defend Cortana by killing any and all enemies in their way
    • Support: Cortana; her job is to provide combat-intel and computer-hacking for the Chief
  • The Kingdom Hearts franchise
    • The main-party of Kingdom Hearts 1, Chain of Memories, and 2
      • Balance: Sora, balanced between Goofy's combat-skills and Donald's magic-skills
      • Combat: Goofy, as he's resourceful as a damage-dealer and tank for Sora
      • Support: Donald, as he's resourceful as a spell-caster and healer for Sora
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days' Organization XIII members
      • Balance: Roxas and Xion
      • Combat: Xaldin, Lexaeus, Saix, Axel, Marluxia, and Larxene
      • Support: Xemnas, Xigbar, Vexen, Zexion, Demyx, and Luxord
    • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep
      • Balance: Ventus, since his keyblades are more balanced
      • Combat: Terra, since his keyblades are more strength-oriented
      • Support: Aqua, since her keyblades are more magic-oriented
    • Kingdom Hearts II:
  • The Left 4 Dead franchise
    • The Infected
      • Combat: The Hunter, Tank, Charger, and the non-playable Witch
      • Support: The Boomer, Smoker, Spitter, and Jockey
  • The Legend of Zelda franchise
    • The franchise's two main-protagonists
      • Combat: Link and his weapons and equipment
      • Support: Zelda and her magical-capabilities
    • Any game where Link has a Fairy Companion:
      • Combat: Link himself—he does all the action
      • Support: The Fairy Companion—provides Link with alerts and useful information (or sometimes is just plain annoying)
  • The Mass Effect franchise
    • The six selectable main classes:
      • Combat: Soldier, Vanguard, and Infiltrator
      • Support: Adept, Engineer, and Sentinel
    • The Mass Effect 1 squad:
      • Combat: Ashley, Wrex, and Garrus
      • Support: Kaidan, Tali, and Liara
    • The Mass Effect 2 squad:
      • Combat: Jacob, Garrus, Grunt, Thane, Legion, and Zaeed
      • Support: Miranda, Mordin, Jack, Tali, Samara, Morinth, and Kasumi
    • The Mass Effect 3 squad:
      • Combat: Ashley, Garrus, James, and Javik
      • Support: EDI, Kaidan, Liara, and Tali
  • Mega Man
    • Combat: Mega Man, his brother Proto Man, and Bass
    • Support: Dr. Light, Roll, Rush, Beat, Eddie, and Auto
  • Mega Man Legends
    • Combat: Mega Man Volnutt
    • Support: Roll Caskett, her grandfather Barrell, and Data the monkey
  • Mega Man Zero
  • Mega Man Battle Network
    • Combat: Net-Navis such as MegaMan.EXE
    • Support: Net-Ops such as Lan/Netto Hikari
  • Mega Man Star Force
    • Combat: Geo Stelar, especially when he fuses with Omega-Xis to become Mega Man
    • Support: Omega-Xis, as he provides Geo with his powers to become Mega Man
  • The Metal Gear franchise
    • The main storylines of each installment
    • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker's Mother Base
      • Combat: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, resourceful for the Outer-Ops missions
      • Support: Troops who stay behind at Mother Base to either heal troops (medbay), restore morale (mess-hall), build new equipment (R&D-labs), or provide intel/supplies during missions (intel)
  • The Metroid franchise's suits
    • Combat: Samus' power-suit and its many variations, i.e. the varia-suit, gravity-suit, and fusion-suit
    • Support: Samus' Justin Bailey-suit/zero-suit, which increases her agility at the expense of fire-power
  • Monday Night Combat
    • Combat: Tank, Assault, Gunner. Played with, since pretty much anyone with Juice is a good leader for an attack on the enemy moneyball and turrets (the Sniper and Assasin tend to be very good at getting it constantly).
    • Support: Sniper, Assasin, Support and Pit Girl as an NPC who is responsible for getting the turrets up and warning their team about their moneyball being under attack.
  • In general, the PC / NPC relationship
    • Combat: The player-character; his job is to complete quests for each non-player character
    • Support: The non-player character; his job is to provide quests, items, information, companionship, and other services
  • Pokémon
    • Combat: The trainer's Pokémon
    • Support: The Pokémon Trainer
    • Pokémon X and Y brings us a Mon whose gender determines this:
      • Combat: Female Meowstic, who primarily learn offensive moves via level-up.
      • Support: Male Meowstic, who primarily learn support moves via level-up.
  • Real-Time Strategy-Games
    • Combat: Units, for defending and/or capturing objectives
    • Support: Structures, for producing and/or upgrading units
  • The Resident Evil franchise
    • Resident Evil 0
      • Combat: Billy Coen
      • Support: Rebecca Chambers
    • Resident Evil
      • Combat: Jill Valentine and Rebecca Chambers
      • Support: Chris Redfield and Barry Burton
    • Resident Evil 2
      • Combat: Leon Scott Kennedy and Ada Wong
      • Support: Clair Redfield and Sherry Birkin
    • Resident Evil: Code: Veronica
      • Combat: Chris Redfield
      • Support: Claire Redfield and Steve Burnside
    • Resident Evil 4
      • Combat: Leon Scott Kennedy (and Ada Wong in the Separate Ways storyline)
      • Support: Ashley Graham
    • Resident Evil 5
      • Combat: Chris Redfield
      • Support: Sheva Alomar
  • Role-Playing Game character-classes
    • Fantasy Role Playing Games
      • Combat: Physical-classes, i.e. the Warrior and Rogue
      • Support: Magical-classes, i.e. the Mage and Cleric
    • Modern/Sci-Fi Role Playing Games
      • Combat: Military-classes, i.e. the Soldier and Sniper
      • Support: Science-classes, i.e. the Engineer and Medic
  • Secret of Mana
    • Combat: Male-Hero (physical-combat)
    • Support: Female-Hero (healing/defensive-magic) and Sprite (offensive-magic)
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise
    • Sonic Heroes
      • Combat: Knuckles, Big, Omega, and Vector; resourceful for combating enemies with their strength
      • Balance: Sonic, Amy, Shadow, and Espio; resourceful for bits of combat and platforming with their speed
      • Support: Tails, Cream, Rouge, and Charmy; resourceful for navigating platforms with their flight
    • Sonic Advance 3
      • Combat: The player-controlled leader, who does most of the work
      • Support: The AI-controlled partner, who provides extra abilities
  • Tales of Phantasia
    • Combat: Cress, Chester, Suzu
    • Support: Mint, Arche, Clause
  • Tales of Destiny
    • Combat: Stahn, Gaar, Leon, Bruiser, Chelsea, Mary
    • Balance: Rutee
    • Support: Philia, Karyl
  • Tales of Eternia
    • Combat: Reid, Chat, Max
    • Balance: Farah
    • Support: Keele, Meredy
  • Tales of Destiny 2
    • Combat: Kyle, Loni
    • Balance: Judas, Nanaly
    • Support: Reala, Harold
  • Tales of Symphonia
    • Combat: Lloyd, Presea, and Regal
    • Balance: Colette, Kratos, Sheena, Zelos
    • Support: Genis, Raine
  • Tales of the Abyss
    • Combat: Luke, Guy
    • Balance: Anise, Natalia
    • Support: Tear, Jade
  • Tales of Vesperia
    • Combat: Yuri, Repede, and Judith
    • Balance: Karol, Raven
    • Support: Estelle, Rita
      • However, you could argue that everyone except for Judith and Rita count as balanced.
  • Tales of Graces:
    • Combat: Asbel
    • Balance: Hubert, Sophie, Richard
    • Support: Cheria, Malik
  • Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2
    • Combat: Milla, Alvin, Gaius (TOX 2 only), Ludger (TOX 2 only)
    • Balance: Jude, Leia, Muzet (TOX 2 only)
    • Support: Elize, Rowen
  • Team Fortress 2
    • Combat: Scout, Pyro, Heavy, Demoman, Soldier.
      • Technically the Demoman counts as support, but his presence on the frontlines makes him a combat class. He's the closest thing in the game to artillery.
    • Support: Engineer and Medic for direct backup, Sniper and Spy for precision elimination.
  • The Team Ico Series
    • ICO
      • Combat: Ico, the physically strongest of the pair
      • Support: Yorda, who can magically open any locked door
    • Shadow of the Colossus
      • Combat: Wander; his job is to kill the various colossi through finding and sword-attacking their weak-spots
      • Support: Agro; like any other horse, his job is to quickly transport Wander to each hidden colossus
  • The World Ends with You
    • Combat: Neku Sakuraba, the main-protagonist
    • Support: Shiki, Joshua, Beat, and Rhyme
  • World of Warcraft's classes
    • Combat: Warrior, Rogue, Paladin, Hunter, Death-Knight
    • Support: Mage, Priest, Warlock, Shaman, Druid
  • Xenosaga
    • Combat: KOS-MOS, Zigguraut 8, Jr./ Rubedo, and Jin Uzuki
    • Support: Shion Uzuki, Chaos, and MOMO
  • The various roles fulfilled by champions in the MOBA game League of Legends.
    • Combat: Carries and Assassins whose job it is to deal the damage.
    • Balance: Tanky DPS who have the hardiness to take hits for their allies while still dealing enough damage to be threatening.
    • Support: Tanks and Supports whose job it is to protect and assist their allies via damage absorbtion, healing, and crowd control abilities.

     Fan-Fiction 

  • Metroid Lambda Squad 1 and 2
    • Combat: Richard, the team-leader; Jenny, the sniper; Joseph, the heavy-specialist; Mariana, the recon-specialist
    • Support: Billy, the demo-specialist; Alexis, the medic; Eric, the computer-hacker; Katrina, the psychokinetic
  • Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
    • Kamen Rider Girls (in terms of abilities)
      • Combat: Yuki, Miu
      • Support: Erin, Tomoko
    • Cosmic Hunting Dogs (in terms of abilities)
      • Combat: Abe, Taira, Rumi, Teruhiko
      • Support: Mari, Jun, Ibuki, Miura

    Non-Video Game Examples 

  • Six Student Clique
    • Combat: The Head (male), The Muscle (also male), and The Wild One (female)
    • Support: The Pretty One (female), The Quirk (male), and The Smart One (also female)
  • The Big Five Personality Traits
    • Balance: Neuroticism
    • Combat: Openness and Conscientiousness
    • Support: Extraversion and Agreeableness
  • The Five-Man Band
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble
    • Combat: Choleric (and sometimes Sanguine)
    • Support: Melancholic and Phlegmatic
    • Balance: Leukine and Sanguine (and sometimes Melancholic)
  • Four Philosophy Ensemble
    • Combat: The Cynic and The Optimist
    • Support: The Realist and The Apathetic
  • Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, of the Star Trek fame
  • Duos, including Brains and Brawn, Red Oni, Blue Oni, Sensitive Guy and Manly Man, and Tomboy and Girly Girl
    • Combat: Brawn, Red Oni, Manly Man, Tomboy
    • Support: Brains, Blue Oni, Sensitive Guy, Girly Girl
  • 3rd-Edition Dungeons & Dragons Character Alignments
    • Balance: Neutral Good/Neutral/Evil
    • Combat: Chaotic Good/Neutral/Evil
    • Support: Lawful Good/Neutral/Evil
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
    • Combat: The more physically-powerful Power Rangers, including Jason (Red Ranger), Zack (Black Ranger), and Tommy (Green Ranger)
    • Support: The more intelligent Power Rangers, including Billy (Blue Ranger), Kimberly (Pink Ranger), and Trini (Yellow Ranger)
      • Power Rangers on the whole tends to have a split with the Rangers as Combat and their Mentor, Mission Control, and similar allies as Support.
  • Fantastic Four
    • Combat: The Thing and Human-Torch, due to their aggressiveness, arrogance, and impatience
    • Support: Mr. Fantastic and Invisible-Woman, due to their much calmer and more considerate demeanors
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Combat: Buffy, Willow, Faith, Angel, Spike, Riley-strength and speed and slayer powers. Magic in Willow's case.
    • Support: Giles most often, Anya, Cordelia, sometimes Willow in the early seasons, pre-magic. Xander. However, this wasn't set in stone, especially with Giles.
  • Angel
    • Combat: Angel, Gunn, Wesley, Cordelia
    • Support: Fred and Lorne-Fred was physically smaller and Lorne a pacifist. However, like on Buffy, the roles were flexible and Fred sometimes fought as well. Cordelia could also be support in the early seasons, but tended toward combat as the series progressed. Doyle was mostly support due to his preference to avoid fights when possible, but he did become combat a few times.
  • Animorphs
    • Combat: All of the Anis were combat most of the time
    • Support: Tobias, in the early books before he regained his morphing ability and to a lesser extent later on. Erek King and the other Chee.

  • Lyrical Nanoha: The Riot Force 6
    • Combat: Nanoha, Fate, Signum, Vita, Subaru, Erio
    • Balance: Hayate, Teana, Zafila, Reinforce Zwei
    • Support: Shamal, Caro, Vice, Griffith, Shario, Alto, Lucino

  • Lyrical Nanoha: Jail Scaglietti, his Numbers + Zest's group
    • Combat: Tre, Cinque, Sette, Nove, Wendy, Deed, Zest, Garyuu
    • Balance: Otto, Dieci, Agito
    • Support: Scaglietti, Uno, Due, Quattro, Sein, Lutecia

  • A Mage's Power: Dragon's Lair teams are split in this manner. Fighters are up front and fighting the enemy, but their purpose is to protect the mages. The mages (one healer and one battle mage) support the fighter with buffs and cover fire, but the battle mage is also the heaviest hitter.

    Sports Examples 

  • NASCAR
    • Combat: The driver
    • Support: The pit-crew
  • Cricket
    • Combat: When fielding: The bowler (and sometimes some of the fielders depending on positions) whose job is to dismiss the opposing batsmen. When batting: The top order batsmen to do the all important scoring
    • Support: When fielding: The fielders to stop the batsmen from making more runs and taking advantage of opportunities to dismiss them created by the bowler. When batting: The lower order batsmen to fill out the numbers and make a few extra runs in the time remaining (or when paired with a top order batsmen to just stay in so the other guy can keep making runs as long as possible).
  • Golf
    • Combat: Players
    • Support: Caddies


The ClanEnsemblesCommedia dell'Arte
Combat MedicVideo Game CharactersCompetitive Balance
The Chosen ManyThe Index TeamCounterpart Combat Coordination
Cel ShadingVideo Game TropesConsole Cameo

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