->''"This is a load of bullshit. You don't know the first thing about Call of Cthulhu and you sure as Hell have no idea how to run a role-playing game if you think our idea of a good time is being your pet character's FUCKING ENTOURAGE!"''
-->-- '''Al Bruno III''', "Achy Breaky Mythos," from the ''Literature/BinderOfShame''.

Sometimes, a GameMaster doesn't have enough players to run a decent game. Or else, he just wants to have his cake and eat it too. Or perhaps the campaign needs a MrExposition and the rest of the party doesn't fit the bill. Either way, he starts out an important {{NPC}} to travel with the party and fill any [[AnAdventurerIsYou missing roles]] no one else wants to play. It's almost like the GM has a PlayerCharacter of his own, thus this concept has come to be known as the GMPC.

Admittedly, this kind of character [[TropesAreNotBad can be done well]] -- adding flavor to the campaign and immersing the players in the world the GameMaster has set out to create. This kind of GMPC often serves as a NonActionGuy in order to avoid stealing the spotlight from the players, or at least some form of WhiteMage (passive [=GMPCs=] often end up in the 'healing' role).

However, it's all too easy to screw up the GMPC, especially since the Game Master also controls the game world and plot. Thus, the GMPC has a tendency to turn into a plot device to [[{{Railroading}} keep the players on track]], stopping them from going OffTheRails. Even worse, the GM can take too much of a liking to his PC, and the character slowly but surely turns into a MarySue: defeating all the enemies singlehandedly, doing all the cool stuff, and gradually reducing the players to [[SpotlightStealingSquad supporting roles]]. He might also set up the adventure [[ThisLooksLikeAJobForAquaman to suit his character]], without considering the others.

This kind of GMPC quickly earns the [[CreatorsPet ire of the players]], since what's the point of even playing the game if all the DM's going to do is [[AccidentalInnuendo play with himself?]] They came to the gaming table to [[TheRoleplayer play as fantastic characters]], [[TheRealMan crack some heads]], and [[TheLoonie have fun]]; not sit and watch some MartyStu kick werewolves through buses (and in the case of the {{Munchkin}}, ''he'' wants to be the one kicking the werewolves through buses). This may lead them to try to [[OffTheRails kill the offending character]], which inevitably fails because of countermeasures including [[GameplayAllyImmortality unstealable Rings of Invincibility]] and hostile allies [[RocksFallEveryoneDies getting struck by]] [[BoltOfDivineRetribution 10d100 lightning bolts]]. The GameMaster may quickly find himself without a game if he doesn't get a clue.

An equally problematic variant is the GMPC who is [[JerkAss obnoxious]], [[TheLoad absolutely useless]] or [[TheMillstone worse]]. These characters exist mainly to cause trouble for the players through their [[TooDumbToLive sheer incompetence]], yet they are too pivotal to the plot and/or the fate of the world for the [=PCs=] to leave them to their justly deserved fate. This has all the problems of an EscortMission in a video game, compounded by the fact that the Dungeon Master is doing it intentionally, rather than because of the inferior AI of a game.

It should be noted that any campaign setting that contains significant canon [=NPCs=] (such as the ForgottenRealms) may fall victim to this if the GM insists on having them travel with the party. Just as bad is the habit of using them as a DeusExMachina to bail out the party when they screw up, especially if you set up the [=PCs=] to [[HopelessBossFight fail on purpose]].

Some games, on the other hand, require the GameMaster to have a GMPC, usually a NonActionGuy with some kind of authority over the PlayerCharacters.

There ''is'' a middle ground, a GMPC who behaves pretty much the same as most player characters, but you don't seem to hear much about them. Presumably because they don't make as exciting stories. A GMPC may be employed temporarily to stop new players from killing themselves before they've learned. It can also occur legitimately in a campaign where the role of GM rotates among the players.

(It should be noted though, in general, a GMPC in any game isn't going to solve any issues, come up with ideas, or take charge of any plot important situation the GM has set up for the player to do (unless he's not a very good GM prone to RailRoading). Normally, this is fine when they're just an equal to you mook; this can get comical and bizarre if the GMPC is supposed to be your superior and/or a wizened, experienced character and the GM needs them to be incompetent, silent, or magically not available during crucial moments meant to be handled by the PC.)

Not to be confused with [[UsefulNotes/{{UNIX}} Gnome]] Music Player Client.
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!!Examples of TabletopGames requiring [=GMPCs=]:
* ''TabletopGame/BlissStage'''s Authority Figure is one of these. Notable as one of the possible results of getting to OneHundredAndEight points of Bliss is for a Pilot to mutiny and take over LaResistance: If this happens, that pilot's player ''must'' become the new GM!
* ''TabletopGame/MyLifeWithMaster'' in a nutshell: The PC's in this game are the Igors to the Game Master's Dr. Frankenstein GMPC.
* ''TabletopGame/MaidTheRPG'' is a sendup of the entire {{Meido}} trope in which the [=GMPC=] "Master" can have a powerful artifact known as the [[Manga/DeathNote Desu]] [[MemeticMutation Note]]. ...Do I really need to say it? The players' effectiveness depends on seeking out (or contending for) the Master's approval. On the other hand, the way the rules are set up, Masters tend to be pretty helpless in everyday situations (for the game's definition of "everyday"), and players usually have an explicit power to randomly derail plots they don't like, so it balances out: even the author's self-insert GMPC gets accidentally killed by his maids. Twice.
* The Wild Card in ''TabletopGame/MeddlingKids'', a table-top game for kids based very loosely on mystery shows of the ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' kind.
* ''TabletopGame/NinjaBurger'' has the dispatcher, a NonActionGuy. His job is to watch the [=PCs=] on closed circuit camera and basically provide them with hints and assistance as needed.
* Not a requirement, but ''TabletopGame/DontRestYourHead'' has an optional rule where there is no assigned GM, and whoever gets the best roll in a scene gets to control the story, essentially making them the owner of a GMPC for a short time. You would expect this to cause problems, but considering the crowd that game draws in, it actually makes things quite interesting.
* The ''TabletopGame/{{Ringworld}}'' RPG requires players whose characters mutate into [[CursedWithAwesome protectors]] to give up control of the character to the GM. Protectors have superhuman strength and intelligence, but no free will, as they are ruthlessly devoted to ensuring the survival of their bloodline or species.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' often saddles the players with an 'escort' that is this trope PlayedForLaughs. The opportunity to kill an obnoxiously perfect and completely unwanted [=NPC=] is one of the few things that will cause Paranoia characters to ''cooperate.''

!!Non-Tabletop Game Examples:
[[AC:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'':
** A major plot twist is that [[spoiler:Kayaba Akihiko, the BigBad who trapped everyone in TheMostDangerousVideoGame, was actually Heathcliff, leader of the Knights of the Blood guild. Kirito, having wondered where Kayaba had been for the last two years of the game, partially deduced his identity when he realized Heathcliff was in too good a condition after what should have been an exhausting battle for even a high-level player. The other key realization was, as Kirito put it, "Something any kid knows. There's nothing as boring as watching someone else play an RPG." It also turns out that he [[BroughtDownToBadass didn't even need those privileges in the first place]], since he was the one who ''made'' the combat system in the first place and thus had the skill to match and beat [[MasterSwordsman Kirito]] in a straight-up duel without admin status]].
** In the second arc, ''Fairy Dance'', [[DirtyCoward Sugou]] [[BigBad Nobuyuki]] creates an in-game avatar called [[AGodAmI Oberon, the Fairy King]], just to further cement his arrogance and self-importance over everyone [[spoiler:and in the AlternateContinuity ''Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment'' creates a super-powerful avatar named Alberich to help him keep the players from completing the death game so he can use them for his MindControl experiments]]. He [[KillerGameMaster proceeds to abuse his admin privileges for all their worth to torture Kirito]] [[spoiler:and all of Asuna's friends as well in the latter]] solely to KickTheDog. Of course, ''unlike'' [[spoiler:Kayaba]], he's [[HarmlessVillain pathetically weak combat-wise and once the heroes remove his Game Master privileges]] [[spoiler:thanks to Kayaba's virtual ghost in the novels/anime and Strea in the games]], they proceed to show him [[CurbStompBattle just how pathetic and outclassed he really is]].
* Dark Bakura from the ''[[Manga/YuGiOh Yu-Gi-Oh! manga]]'' is a literal KillerGameMaster that frequently uses his own Player Characters to go against the players in his TabletopRPG campaigns. In the first RPG, Dark Bakura is in control of a [[BigBad Big Bad Evil Guy]] and Ryou Bakura (the good one) manages to save Yugi and his friends from it using his own GMPC. [[spoiler:In the second RPG, Dark Bakura is in control of ''two'', Thief King Bakura and Priest Akhenaden. When Thief King Bakura dies, Akhenaden manages to summon Zorc Necrophades, and the demon replaces the thief as one of Dark Bakura's avatars.]]

[[AC:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'' [=BAs=] are generally assistants (Gilead, Knobby Foot) and put-upon {{Butt Monkey}}s whose sole purpose is to be kicked around by the [=PCs=]. The few times he had to resort to using an overpowered [=GMPC=] were done to hastily [[{{Railroading}} put the plot back on the rails]].

[[AC:Fanfiction]]
* Cait Sith, in ''FanFic/OffTheLine'', is not only an NPC, but the game's admin, head designer and avatar of the game's creator. He also adds and changes things as long as he helping the player or if it amuses him.
* In ''Fanfic/PoniesAndDragons'', Doctor Whooves had one (a Time Lord, too) when he ran the game. After Vinyl Scratch stabbed the character to death, shoved the body into a magic bag, and dumped it down a well, he took the hint and abdicated the GM seat. Vinyl still occasionally gives him grief for it, though.

[[AC:Film]]
* Sir Osric in ''Film/TheGamers: Dorkness Rising'' is a [[ThePaladin Paladin]] and therefore honour-bound to curb the [=PCs=]' amoral-to-homicidal impulses, which causes tension in the game and resentment among the players. Ultimately a {{Reconstruction}} as the GM learns to have more faith in his players, while the players become more invested in the story and ''slightly'' less prone to hijinks. [[spoiler:Ultimately, one player character uses her divinely-granted wish to bring Osric back from the dead -- a major milestone in roleplaying for the group.]]

[[AC:Literature]]
* Several in the ''Literature/BinderOfShame''. For example, in "Achy Breaky Mythos," the GM had the players all play academics who had a "mutual friend," the adventurer Dick Marvil. The page quote came after Dick Marvil casually snapped the necks of nightgaunts who the [=PCs=] couldn't even scratch.
* In ''Roleplay/RedDragon'' (the Replay on which ''Anime/ChaosDragon'' was loosely based), [[Franchise/NasuVerse Kinoko Nasu]]'s airheaded {{paladin}} Swallow was accompanied at all times by [[OldRetainer his snarky maid Meryll]], to whom he owed a great personal debt. Nasu created Meryll mostly to give the GM an easy way to stop him from going OffTheRails and stealing spotlight from the less experienced players, but due to [[RandomNumberGod a series of odd die rolls]] this soon lead to a RunningGag of the players [[MemeticBadass treating her as the strongest member of the party]] while [[MemeticLoser ignoring all of Swallow's accomplishments]].

[[AC:Video Games]]
* In the D&D-themed ''Videogame/{{Borderlands 2}}'' DLC ''Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep'', White Knight Roland serves this role, often appearing in the story just because Tina says so. The other players aren't very happy about this, partly because he's more or less a plot device and because [[spoiler:he's a clear sign that Tina is in denial of the real Roland's death. However, the ending shows that his character is meant to be a tribute to Roland, ultimately having a better fate than his ignoble death at the hands of Handsome Jack.]]

[[AC:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/DMOfTheRings'' is a ''[[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Lord of the Rings]]''-based CampaignComic where a put-upon, {{railroading}} DM uses Gandalf the Grey as a DMPC. Antics include stealing the spotlight from the [=PCs=] with long-winded speeches and contrived heroics, trying with intermittent success to prevent said [=PCs=] from going OffTheRails, and [[CameBackStrong rising from death with game-breaking new superpowers]] after the [=PCs=] abandoned him to a boss fight they didn't want to bother with.
* ''Webcomic/TheNoob'' has the MMORPG version, in which the {{Jerkass}} head developer plays a character. And cheats to try and win contests.
* Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids is a ''Franchise/StarWars'' CampaignComic that uses this trope when the the regular GM can't make it to the session: Pete takes over as GM while still playing his PC R2-D2. During the battle, he decides R2-D2 has rocket thrusters, which in the movie, pretty much allows Artoo to save the day.
* In ''Webcomic/OnePieceGrandLine3Point5'', it's revealed near the end of the Syrup Village arc that the GM designed one back when the group consisted of just Luke and Cory. Their old GM [[KillerGameMaster DM]] is surprised when she learns this, as she knows Cory [[BerserkButton especially hates]] [=GMPCs=]. He later end up having Sanji as a GMPC, but subvert it as of now, since Luke have been the one controlling Sanji in battle.

[[AC:Web Original]]
%%* Eluamous Nailo in ''WebAnimation/UnforgottenRealms''.
* The ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'' played with this. While there were loads of [=GMPCs=], they were always characters being run in another [=GMs=] campaign.
* While not quite a fit in this section, the ''Roleplay/MSFHighForum'' has a few of these. Mitchell, current head GM, is known for trying to make sure his stay out of the fight, especially at climaxes. For instance, Michelle was busy fighting her evil twin in an ultimately irrelevant battle (And lost), and includes one in his planned Mahou Galaxy adventure, and Legion-based online game.
* ''WebOriginal/FalloutIsDragons'' has a number of [=GMPCs=], two of which are actually party members. They are actually about equal to the player characters and somewhat adored by the players themselves, although only Aurelia has actual stats.
* Mostly averted in ''WebVideo/CriticalRole'', but DM Creator/MatthewMercer will occasionally control an allied NPC (or an absent player character) in certain battles if the story works out that way. Matt also has an infamous story about why he became a Dungeon Master, and it mostly boils down to his previous DM abusing his GMPC's privileges.