Knight, Knave and Squire
In settings where combat is common and an integral part of the story, a common way to contrast characters is to contrast their attitudes towards combat. This trope is a Power Trio of characters that are distinguished by their attitudes and experiences regarding combat and war.
- The Knight is the trained officer or soldier with a more optimistic outlook towards battle. He'll relish the opportunity to defend his lord, country or values in honorable combat. The Knight is frequently an Officer and a Gentleman. The main defining point behind The Knight is that he fights for something else, whether it's his country or his values. Depending on where the story falls on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, the Knight can get called out on his idealistic view of combat.
- The Knave is the more pragmatic and cynical warrior. If he has military training, his relationship with The Knight will frequently be Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough. More frequently, he will have self-taught combat abilities as a mercenary, smuggler, bounty hunter or other warrior. He's pretty much always an Anti-Hero. If he is The Hero, the pragmatism will likely be toned down to make him more likeable. The main defining point behind the Knave is that he fights for himself, at least initially. A badly done Knave can be prone to The Complainer Is Always Wrong.
- The Squire is either a noncombatant or someone with little actual experience in fighting. If he's in the military, he will be New Meat, possibly an Ensign Newbie. The Squire is often the Hero in The Hero's Journey, with The Knight and The Knave serving as alternating paths for him to follow. The Squire's inexperience, naïveté and optimism are his defining traits, and he will often look to the Knight and, less often, the Knave as a role model.
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Anime and Manga
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, the Axis Powers are this - Japan as the Knight, Germany as the Knave, and Italy as the Squire.
- Eyeshield 21 has a football example in the beginning. Kurita is gentle and understanding teacher while Hiruma is a sadistic Drill Sergeant Nasty, Sena is their pupil (to an extent).
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha Takamachi fits all three types. You could say that Nanoha is the Squire, Yuuno Scrya is the Knight, and Chrono is the Knave.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, Nanoha is the Knave Knight, Fate Testarossa-Harlaown is the Knight, and Hayate Yagami is the Squire.
- In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, Thoma Avenir is the Squire Knight, Lily-Strosek is the Squire, and Isis Egret is the Knave.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has one of these in the timelines Homura went though before determining to stop Madoka from becoming a magical girl: Madoka as the Knight, Mami as the Knave, and Homura as the Squire. Especially true once Mami learns the awful truth about Magical Girls and decides the best option is to kill the others and then herself so they won't turn into witches, which results in Madoka having to kill Mami to save Homura's life.
- The three protagonists of Samurai Champloo fit the bill. Jin is The Knight, a Ronin Samurai who was taught swordsmanship in a dojo, he is chivalrous and only battles worthy opponents considering everyone else beneath his notice. Mugen is The Knave, and is completely self taught, with a battle style that is all over the place, he's a Combat Pragmatist and has a bad attitude, he'll pretty much fight with anyone. Fuu is The Squire, she has pretty much no fighting abilities and often ends up being a Damsel in Distress.
- Les Légendaires gives us the Faboulous, a team of heroes consisting in this. The Knight position is assumed by Michi-Gan, a swordman with a serious, responsible attitude and clearly concerned with the sake of his home planet, Alysia. Shaki, a brooding warrior from an extincted tribe and primarly motivated by revenge, can be considered as the Knave. Finally, Toopie, a kid Genius Girl who possesses no fighting skills and relies on her inventions to fight, serves as the Squire.
- The Warriors Three in The Mighty Thor and the accompanying film franchise. Fandral is the Knight, Hogun is the Knave and Volstagg is the squire.
- In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Jack is the Knave, Will is the Knight and Elizabeth is the Squire. A defining moment of both Jack and Will's characters is during the sword fight between the two. By the second movie, the dynamic is more or less dropped and they all become Knaves, especially in the third.
- Star Wars has The Hero Luke Skywalker as the Squire, with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo as the Knight and Knave, respectively. A key point in Luke's character development in the original movie is when he rejects Han's pragmatism, leading to Han second-guessing his own beliefs.
- Similarly, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Ahsoka Tano as the Squire, with Obi-Wan Kenobi taking on the role of Knight once more and Anakin Skywalker as the Knave. Ahsoka's character development seems to be headed toward the Knave side of things, however...
- Jaws is surprisingly straight in this regard. The knight, Chief of police Brody, is bent on ridding amity island from a killer shark that ate the son of one of the town goers that blames him for killing him and letting the beaches open for more attacks. He is an experienced police officer. The Knave, Quint, was a former Sailor in the navy who witnessed the deaths of his comrades at the hands of sharks during WWII. He is very much a loner and cynic. Finally Hooper is a book worm oceanographer called in for his expertise on the animal but also proves to have hidden depths of his own.
- For a farcical absurdist comedy, The Big Lebowski also plays this trope surprisingly straight. Of the three main characters, Walter Sobchak is the Knight, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski is the Knave, and Donny Kerabatsos is the Squire. Walter is a fiercely-patriotic gun-toting Vietnam veteran who always tackles every problem head-on; The Dude is a laid-back aging hippie who is more inclined to talk his way out of every tough situation; Donny is just an average guy who gets dragged along for the ride, and spends most of the movie completely out of his depth. note
- In The Dragonlance Chronicles, Sturm is the Knight, Tanis is the Knave (and The Hero), and Caramon, although an experienced warrior from the beginning, is still young, naïve and impulsive.
- In Lockwood & Co. Lucy (although already an experienced ghost hunter) is a newcomer to both London and the agency so she acts as Squire, Lockwood is its idealistic and cocky leader (Knight), while George is more careful and research-oriented (Knave).
- In Merlin, it is Arthur (The Knight), Gwaine (The Knave) and Merlin (The Squire); (also known as Courage (Arthur), Strength (Gwaine) and Magic (Merlin)).
- In George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire third book, A Storm of Swords, Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth and Cleos Frey journey to king's landing. During this period, Brienne, the idealistic amazon is the knight; the pragmatic Anti-Hero Jaime is the Knave and Cleos Frey is the squire. Since the work is rather pessimistic, you'll probably guess who is often right...
- Happens again when Brienne hooks up with squire Podrick Payne and amoral knight Ser Hyle Hunt.
- The Baratheon brothers: Robert, the Boisterous Bruiser who sees war as glorious and loves a fight is the Knight; Stannis, the jaded and pragmatic strategist who focuses on tactics and logistics is the Knave; and Renly, the youngest brother whose ideal of battle is tournaments and games is the Squire.
- In the show - especially the Blackwater episode - you have the classically trained Sandor Clegane (Knight), an experienced warrior who fights for his King. Then you have Bronn (Knave), a more cynical sellsword who isn't afraid of fighting a little bit dirty and just wants to save himself from being slaughtered. Finally there's Tyrion (Squire), who was thrust into the role of General when Joffrey ran away, and hasn't been in many battles.
- The characters of The White Company fit this neatly, with Sir Nigel Loring as the Knight, Samkin Aylward as the Knave, and Alleyne Edricsson as the Squire.
- In Smallville, Clark is the Knight, Oliver is the Knave, and Bart is the Squire (he is rather on the pragmatic side, although he does seem to lack experience).
- Star Trek: Voyager has this type of relationship among Janeway, Paris and Kim, with Kim as the wet-behind-the-ears Ensign Newbie, Paris as the pragmatist who's trying to influence Kim and Janeway as the moral beacon for Kim and the rest of the crew.
- In a non-military sense, Yes, Minister, with Jim Hacker as the Knight (at least, he likes to think so), Sir Humphrey as the Knave, and Bernard as the Squire.
- That does depend a bit on which side is considered "righteous" because both Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey are pragmatic about their own agendas and both believe that their agenda is the one which is "best for Britain". Humphrey is more Machiavellian, but that's more because he's better at getting what he wants than because what Jim wants is more genuinely altruistic.
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Brenner is the Knight, Lin is the Knave, Will is the Squire.
- In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Laharl is the Knight, by Underworld standards at least, Etna the Knave and Flonne is the Squire.
- Final Fantasy IX has Steiner, Zidane, and Vivi.
- Cid (Knight), Adelle (Knave), and Luso (Squire) in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. Cid's a paragon of might and fortitude, Adelle is a duplicitous thief, and Luso is unskilled and new to Ivalice.
- The three lords in Fire Emblem 7. Lyn is the Knight, just, honorable, and skilled. Hector is the Knave, brusque and quick to resort to violence. Eliwood is the Squire, young and not very powerful.
- At the beginning of the first Golden Sun, Isaac is the Knight (based on his characterization in the subsequent games), Garret is the Knave (not underhanded, but he's quite impulsive and aggressive) and Ivan is the Squire (being younger than the other two and not as worldly). This dynamic lasts until Mia turns up.
- In Kingdom Hearts Goofy is the Knight, Donald is the Knave and Sora is the Squire.
- The Legend of Dragoon has Lavitz, Dart and Shana as a toned down version with Lavitz as the Knight, being a commander of a Basil Knighthood, Dart being the Knave, having wandered the Earth on a quest for revenge, and Shana as the Squire, having done nothing besides learn how to use a bow. The relationship gets kicked in the pants when Rose joins as she takes over the Knave position and Dart switches roles to the Squire, having the least experience of the three. This dynamic is especially noticeable when Shana is poisoned, leaving the others without her.
- One of the most popular squad configurations in the Mass Effect series (and the only one possible across all three games) is Shepard, Garrus, and Tali, which, with a Paragon Shepard, makes them the Knight, Knave, and Squire, respectively.
- X, Zero and Axl (respectively) from Mega Man X series.
- Radiant Historia has Rosch as Knight, Stocke as Knave (though he's more idealistic than most), and Kiel as Squire.
- Touhou: Starting from Undefined Fantastic Object, Reimu is Knight, Marisa is Knave, and the newcomer Sanae is Squire. Sanae is a good girl.
- The main characters of Guilty Gear fall into this dynamic. Ky Kiske, the refined, gentlemanly and idealistic Warrior Prince, is a good fit for the Knight. Sol Badguy, the older, more gruff and cynical Bounty Hunter, is the Knave. The young, kind-hearted and mostly non-aggressive Dizzy would be the Squire.
- BlazBlue gives us this archetype in the Stooges of Torifune and its core protagonists.
- Knight: Jin and Tsubaki. Jin's self-nihilism keeps him from being a pure Knight, but he and Tsubaki are most dedicated to upholding the spirit of law within the world order; Jin in upholding the natural balance (when he's not going crazy-creepy over Ragna), and Tsubaki in the court of man.
- Knave: Ragna and Makoto. Both have compassion towards their fellows, but they both rely on overwhelming brute force (Ragna moreso until he was forced to adapt without his Azure Grimoire). Ragna also overwhelmed NOL branches by staging his assaults at night, while Makoto integrates mind games into her combat strategy; if her statement in Central Fiction is any indication, she is not above fighting dirty, either.
- Squire: Noel. By far the youngest and least experienced of the trios (and the sole individual common to both groups); she mostly let Bolverk do the fighting until combat with Terumi caused their limiter to malfunction, and she's had to adjust to combat in a natural state since.