Master of None

"A Jack of All Trades, who is incompetent in all of them."
Black Mage, on Red Mage, 8-Bit Theater

One of the classic and most common character types in gaming is the generalist, a jack-of-all-trades with capabilities in all fields and no particular weaknesses. But specialization has advantages, so it takes a deft touch to ensure that the generalist has reasons for being used.

Sometimes it simply doesn't work. They aren't completely useless at anything they try, but they're not good at it either. They have no particular weakness or vulnerability that can be easily exploited, but that's offset by the fact that they're kinda vulnerable to everything. That character is a Master of None.

Master of None is the dark side of the Jack-of-All-Stats, where their weakness is the fact that they have no strengths that they can capitalize on. The Magic Knight is easy to make into this, if the developers want to encourage specialisation in magic or physical combat. If the Master of None is part of a band or Multiform Balance, it often has some useful ability (for example, Super Not-Drowning Skills) that prevent them from become Joke Character, it's just that the ability isn't very versatile. Sometimes however, there's usually one advantage a Master of None has over a Jack Of All Stats, they're the easiest to mold and grow because in some RPGs, they can grow themselves with less effort than the other classes or origins because they might have started in Level 1, so they're usually useful for experienced players who know how to spend their skill points more wisely.

The difference between why a Jack of All Stats is useful in one game, but becomes a Master of None in another is often tied to how large the party or units are in the game. In a game with only one character, the character needs the capacity to handle every situation themselves, and in static parties with no ability to switch characters out, the ability to just be very good in one situation means being The Load in other situations. In a strategic RPG with dozens of characters you can swap out any time you need a specialist, however, there's no reason to swap in anything but the specialist best at this particular specialization. If you can only send 4 characters in, any character 5th place or worse in your roster in that situation is a sub-optimal choice. Even a character that can do nothing but use poison spells that deal more damage than normal, that's a specialization that makes them stand out from the faceless crowds sometimes. If they're not in the top spots in any situation... why ever use them at all?

Compare with Crippling Overspecialization at the other extreme, for the character who's great at one thing, but horrible at everything else. Contrast with the Master of All, who is very good at everything. Occasionally a Master of None is made intentionally as part of Multiform Balance, as a stepping stone to stronger forms including a true Jack of All Stats.

For the novel, see here. For the Netflix series, see here.

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Gaming Examples:

    Eastern RPG 
  • Faize of Star Ocean: The Last Hope. He starts off well enough, being your first offensive symbologist and having some melee skills, but he's soon overshadowed by Lymle and Myuria in attack symbology while Edge and Meracle outclass him physically. The Bradygames strategy guide actually recommends leaving him out of the party for your first playthrough due to how hard it is for him to pull his weight since he later leaves about 5/8ths of the way through the game. Even if you keep him for a second playthrough when he has the opportunity to learn much more useful and unique symbols, he's still shortchanged in the weapons department, with his best being a coliseum prize until you get to the second bonus dungeon.
  • Kratos/Zelos in Tales of Symphonia remain somewhat competent melee combatants throughout the game thanks to having the stats for it and ability to pull off a full combo, but they quickly lose in spell casting because they stop at level 2 spells (opposed to the exponentially more powerful level 3 spells Genis has) and casting does not synergize well with melee due to the rather lengthy start up times. They have decent supplemental healing though, thanks to it being based on percentage instead of fixed numbers.
    • Kratos, being a Crutch Character, never really gets to become a Master of None in the first place. Up until the end of the Journey of Regeneration he keeps track with both Genis' offense spells, Raine's healing, Colette's tanking and Lloyd's melee ability. He is a better example during the second Aselia ranch mission and his ending, but in his defence he hasn't had much opportunity to develop since he's been gone from the party.
    • They both have a special ability that lets them insta-cast Level 1 spells while they're doing an aerial combo though. And then there's spell canceling.
  • Two of the classes in Etrian Odyssey II suffer from this. War Magi can use healing and support magic as well as sword-based attack skills, but their healing doesn't stack up next to that of a dedicated Medic, their buffs are less useful than a Troubadour's, and their attack skills are woefully situational (stunning an enemy afflicted with Sleep?). Add to that their overall unimpressive stats and there's no real reason to use a War Magus over one of the specialists. Likewise, Beasts have a variety of defensive abilities and strong offense, but due to a number of flaws with their skills as well as a lack of decent armor they usually end up being more of a liability than anything else. Thankfully, the game's remake makes major improvements to both classes' abilities to make them viable choices for your party.
    • Medics in Etrian Odyssey IV fall under this once subclassing becomes available. A lot of their healing skills become sufficiently powerful at half their max level, meaning that anything a Medic main can do, a Runemaster or Arcanist with a Medic subclass can similarly accomplish. Their offense skills (Heavy Strike or Stardrop) are at their best when going first, but the Medic's own Strength and Agility stats are average and do not synergize well without assistance. To rub salt in the wound, Dancers have better stats than the Medic and can both heal and buff.
  • Shining Force: Arthur starts out as a Master of None, at least until his Magikarp Power kicks in. He's a fighter with some spells, but for the first several levels after getting him, he dies in two hits, barely does more than Scratch Damage, and has only level 1 spells.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Red Mages after the first game tend to lose effectiveness very quickly once the party outgrows their tiny pool of low-level spells.
    • Averted in Final Fantasy XI. Red Mages received two specializations, being strong (though not necessarily the best) enhancing and enfeebling spell casters.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • Gogo can use almost any ability worth using in the game, but all of his base stats are low and, unlike the other characters, he can't raise them because he can't equip Espers. No matter what you have him do, he'll be bad at it.
      • Setzer - not as strong as Sabin and Edgar, not as magically proficient as Relm and Strago, and worse all around than the fellow Jack-of-All-Stats characters Terra and Celes. He shares his ability to attack with full damage from the back row with a lot of Locke's best weapons, but without Locke's speed and Stealing ability. His Slot ability has a wide range of useful (and non-useful) effects, but being luck-based and with poor odds reduces its utility.
    • Kimahri Ronso of Final Fantasy X suffers from this. His section of the sphere grid is rather small, forcing him to go through someone else's to remain useful. This was meant to allow the player to use him as a flexible character, but since the rest of the characters already fill out all specializations (with Kimahri perpetually lagging behind), it serves no benefit.
  • Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword (released in the West as simply "Fire Emblem") sees Eliwood's mediocre, "balanced" stat growths pale in comparison to Lyn and Hector's respective Fragile Speedster and Lightning Bruiser statuses, and have earned him the derogatory Fan Nickname "Eliwuss."
  • Smeargle from Pokémon can learn any move in the game, but their poor stats mean that there's no point in teaching them 96 percent of them unless you're using them for breeding purposes. Granted, there are a few combinations of moves they can get that no other Pokémon can, but outside of those combinations, you're better off just using a more specialized Pokémon.
    • There are several Pokémon that aren't useful as their stats are often too rounded, but Glalie is a good one. Apart from awful typing, all of its stats are an average 80. Other Pokémon with equal, below-average numbers in all stats are Ditto (48 each), Spinda (60), Castform (70), and Phione (80).
    • Mixed-attackers tend to be this. Consisting of Pokémon trained in both physical and special moves, they're valued for their ability to hit both defenses, countering purpose-built walls like Blissey and Skarmory. However, their attacking stats are often far lower than a specialist Pokémon's single stat, their movepools have less space and tend to have less coverage, and given the need to EV train two stats, they're often slower and more fragile. Most "mixed attackers" are actually physical or special attackers who keep an unexpected move as a last resort.
  • Shin Megami Tensei offers some demons, characters, and Personas that have perfectly balanced builds. These are much poorer choices of party members than characters who specialize in Strength or Magic, as such balanced characters can't dish out enough damage per turn or carry enough MP to be a worthy asset.
  • Dragon Quest franchise:
    • Yangus in Dragon Quest VIII looks like he should be a Mighty Glacier, with a build that suggests Stout Strength and An Axe to Grind. He's certainly slow enough, but his damage output is average at best, and pales next to Jessica's spells and whips, Angelo's bows and arrows, and the Hero's swords or spears. He can get a few healing spells if you put points into Humanity, but his healing potential is limited by a small MP pool, and unlike the Hero and Angelo he never gets any way to regain magic points or mitigate casting costs. He's can wear some of the best armor in the game and has a massive HP pool, which qualifies him as a Stone Wall, but since there's no way for him to Draw Aggro he can't really tank for squishier party members. His Axe skills will eventually give him an attack which is a guaranteed critical if it hits, and since criticals in this game ignore defense, it's particularly useful against late-game bosses, but it misses more often than it hits, so it's too unreliable to use in most cases. Early in the game he's useful in boss fights as a debuffer, although Jessica can do that as well or better. In the late game, he's mostly useful to hold on to a Sage's Stone, Rune Staff, Timbrel of Tension and Resurrection Staff and act as a secondary buffer and healer, not so much because he's particularly good at it, but because he's the only party member with nothing better to do.
    • And long before that, Dragon Quest II gave us the Prince of Cannock, a Magic Knight eclipsed in magic by the Princess of Moonbrooke with a scant few unique cleric spells, and even more so physically and equip-wise by the Prince of Lorasia.
    • The concept is referenced in typical punny fashion in Dragon Quest IX: one of the breezes in the game's Hurricane of Puns is Abbot Jack of Alltrades Abbey, who consumes a Fygg and becomes the "Master of Nu'un".
  • The player's ultimate goal in Rakenzarn Tales is to turn Kyuu, the main character, into a Master of All. His unique class, the Arxus Rogue, is capable of learning plenty of types of physical and magical moves and wield a huge variety of weapons. However, due to the fact that he's not a real fighter and suffers from Empty Levels and Non Standard Skill Learning, a poorly handled training will turn him into this trope instead.
  • Hugh of Phantasy Star II is unfortunately a master in an area which nearly every other party member is at least competent in, as his biologic-affecting techniques aren't that much more useful than regular techniques or even regular attacks, and the regular techniques he learns never reach their final level of power.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Competitive Team Fortress 2 circles assign this to the Pyro class—Pyros are among the least seen classes because their abilities, while considerable, are simply overshadowed by the other choices available to a 6-man team. Pyros can move quicker than most of the common competitive classes and excels at short range, but the Scout is both faster and more agile, and deals damage in bigger chunks. It's a good defensive class in close quarters, but the Heavy has better range, more health, and deals more damage. Spy checking, Ubercharge denial, and sentry defense, its remaining important uses, simply don't account for much competitive playtime due to the lack of need or lack of acceptance of the role. Even its last remaining ability, damage over time (something only a select few other classes, using specific weapons, can inflict), isn't all that helpful anymore as every other update over the first four or five years introduced another easy-to-use weapon or ability to extinguish someone that a Pyro has set on fire. Ironically, this puts the Pyro (considered one of the classes requiring the least thinking to play) together with the Spy (considered the class requiring the most thinking to play) in the bottom of the competitive class tier—neither class' abilities play into a match strongly enough to justify their regular inclusion in a 6 vs. 6 skirmish.
    • They are strong in competitive 9v9 Highlander, however. You will want to deprive the enemy Ubercharge or kill the enemy Pyro before pushing in with your own Ubercharge first, as a defensive Pyro can utterly shut down an Uber push, especially if he receives an Ubercharge himself.
  • The Balance-class ships in space battles in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (i.e., X-Wing, TIE Fighter, ARC-170 and Droid Starfighter/Vulture Droid). Anyone who knows what they're doing will immediately get in a Bomber-class ship (Y-Wing, TIE Bomber, V-Wing and CIS Strike Bomber) and go for the high-scoring capital ship vital systems. This may also be combined with a quick stop within the enemy capital ship to wreak havoc inside, in which case the heavily-armored Bombers, especially with a co-pilot to assist, are ideal (even over Transports, who can insert an entire team into the enemy capital ship, but are even slower and more ungainly than Bombers - it's essentially at least two to five free kills for whoever manages to spot them along the way). If all of the vital systems are destroyed and the match still isn't over, the only real option is to get in a Fighter-class ship (A-Wing, TIE Interceptor, Republic Starfighter and Droid Tri-fighter) and kill enemies ship-to-ship. The Balance-class ships don't have the raw payload of Bombers to be even slightly effective against capital ships and are far less effective at ship-to-ship combat than Fighters. The only possible, concrete advantage Balance ships have against Fighters is that they can attack enemies within the range of the opposing capital ship's automated defenses - mildly annoying for a Balance ship and beneath notice for a Bomber, but a lightly-armored Fighter will get pasted within five seconds of entering their range.
  • Combat Rifles in Blacklight Retribution were presumably meant to fill the gap between Assault Rifles and Bolt-Action Rifles: More powerful and longer-ranged than the former, less recoil and faster-firing than the latter. In practice the downsides are more obvious: Weaker and shorter-ranged than Bolt-Actions, more recoil and slower-firing than Assaults.
  • In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, this role falls to the Sixshooter. Intended to be the middle ground between the killing power of the Ranger and the rapid-fire Quickshooter, in practice using it means getting neither the Ranger's near-guaranteed One Hit Kills nor the Quickshooter's combo-extending speed-reloads.
    • The Cartel likewise has this role fall upon Eddie, who specializes in the one-handed submachine guns. Presumably meant as the short-range specialist against Ben's mid-range machine guns and Kim's long-range sniper rifles, he's ultimately got no specific strengths that the other characters can't compete with, as Ben also specializes in the shotguns, which do just as well in close-quarters, and the pistols, which make up 70% of the game's arsenal, can be mixed-and-matched to increase the rate of fire and overall capacity, and as typical are a bit better at longer ranges than Eddie's one-handed SMGs. Kim likewise isn't hurting for close-range fighting either, getting a secondary bonus with the assault rifles and two-handed SMGs, which can cover nearly all ranges just fine. Not to mention as well that his special ability, using the one-handed SMGs two at a time, is ultimately redundant as, if you really want something full-auto while using two guns at once, there's a very easy to activate glitch that lets Ben and Kim use an SMG alongside a pistol as well.
  • For the starting handguns in Call of Duty: Black Ops, this befalls the humble M1911. All three of the starting handguns deal the same damage at the same ranges, so it's ultimately their secondary characteristics that determine which is the better sidearm, and in that area the M1911 at best can only match one attribute of another handgun that is usually worse at it than the third. It beats the ASP in attachment options, but so does the Makarov, which also beats them both in mag capacity. It beats the Makarov in capacity with Extended Mags, but that also extends its reloading time, which the ASP already beats both of them in. It gets a rate of fire increase with Dual Wield that the Makarov doesn't get, but that only makes it equal the rate of fire the ASP has at all times, alongside the inability to aim down the sights to make the faster rate of fire worth anything beyond point-blank range (at that point, if you want to go Akimbo you're better off doing it with a fully-automatic, higher-capacity SMG). The later CZ-75 beats them all in capacity, especially with extended mags, and the Python, while losing out in reload speed (which can be rectified) and capacity, makes up for it with greater damage and potential at range. All of the other available secondary weapons are one-shot weapons meant for specific roles, primarily destroying enemy killstreaks, but when used on other players are all a One-Hit Kill anyway.
  • Another weapon example: assault rifles in Borderlands 2. They're touted as being more powerful and longer-reaching than SMGs, which they indeed do for a tradeoff in fire rate, reload speed and elemental proc chance. Problem is, they get trumped in their middle-range field by any half-decent Vladof machine pistol (especially if it has the shoulder stock accessory), all of which reload faster as well. Those that can hit at long range have anemic damage, at which point you're better off just using a sniper rifle. And if you're going the Jakobs route of semi-autos, they have the worst recoil of all - better just snipe with your wheelgun.
  • BioShock 2 has the poor Rivet Gun. While it acts as a decent backup weapon it's still outclassed by more specialized weapons such as the Spear Gun for headshots, Machine Gun for groups of splicers, and Grenade Launcher for beefier foes. It's even outclassed by plasmids as the super heated rivets need 3 shots in quick succession or a single headshot to ignite splicers while doing as much damage as a level 1 Incinerate! plasmid. Overall, it helps get Delta through early levels and allows the player to decide on their play style whatever it may be.

  • City of Heroes: Tri-Form Kheldians can easily fall into this trap if the player spreads their enhancement slots too thin rather than choosing to make certain powers better at the price of others.
  • Back in the day, this was a huge problem for hybrids in World of Warcraft, especially in Player Versus Environment gameplay. Druids made for completely awful tanks, physical DPS, magic DPS and were also slightly subpar in healing. Shaman could heal okay, but again, didn't deal much damage. Paladins also had an unimpressive damage output, and weren't good at soaking up damage, but they had the best buffs in the game, didn't need to use totems, and were arguably the best healers. The Burning Crusade expansion took care of most of the deficiencies until basically they became specialized and differentiated from the basic healer, the priest. Now, the 'pure' classes like the Mage, Warlock and Rogue are frustrated that they do not add much versatility, and they do not excel over the supposed 'jack of all trades, Master Of None' classes.

    In addition, this was a potential pitfall of the talent system, especially before the Cataclysm expansion overhaul. To make a long story short, it was not a good sign to see a player with less than 51 points in their primary talent tree because this usually means that their character will lack a powerful top-tier talent for their primary task. Even with 51 points in a character's primary "spec" it was still possible for a player to overlook crucial talents considered mandatory for Crippling Overspecialization in either PVE or PVP. This issue also created complaints about being "restricted to cookie cutter specs" to perform optimally. For some builds, rudimentary talents in the secondary trees were too good to ignore.

    Blizzard finally prevented this with Mists of Pandaria by ripping out the talent system completely. You now pick your role which specializes you immediately. The few talents left to choose from are "situational" abilities that players may or may not need. This of course prompted cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks. Supporters of this new post-talent system say you can choose 6 (out of a total of 18) very useful skills, as opposed to 12-14 (out of 50+) kinda-sorta useful skills. As an added bonus, the skills in each tier of the Mists of Pandaria talent tree often change a core skill in different ways. For example, the first tier of Hunter talents, unlocked at level 15, all change the Disengage skill (you leap backwards to get out of your enemy's range). There's Posthaste (temporarily increase running speed after you Disengage), Narrow Escape (trap nearby enemies when you Disengage) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimaera (reduces the cooldown on Disengage, allowing you to use it more often).
    • In Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard changed the secondary stats on items, and added "Versatility", a stat which basically means a % boost to damage, healing and defense. To keep versatility from becoming One Stat to Rule Them All, its effect is weaker than other stats, but this made versatility the least desirable stat for raiders. As each of the roles (DPS, healer, tank) only cares about one of the three benefits that versatility grants, it was better to focus on other stats that granted a specific bonus.
  • According to the Let's Play, Charlatans in Drakensang due to the game's system of buying new abilities with EXP, forcing their abilities to be spread thin, or to abandon some facets.
  • Jedi Sentinels in the first Knights of the Old Republic have the combat abilities of a consular (pure caster), and only slightly better Force powers than a Guardian, in exchange for skill points and immunities to various Force powers (that many items can also negate, and which only bosses use anyways). Fixed entirely in the second game, where skill points determine - among other things - your ability to craft upgrades, allowing a Sentinel to build super-equipment and make up for any of their own deficiencies, and further averted with its corresponding Prestige Classes, the Jedi Watchman/Sith Assassin, which are built around sneak attack damage.
  • The Assassin Class in Ragnarok Online. He sucks at PvP, isn't that useful in WoE, can hardly beat any boss monster and pretty much his only specialty is grinding alone in PvE. Only that other classes such as the Hunter are much better at that, too. At least it used to be that way. With newer updates, the Assassin gained effectiveness. His rebirth class, the Assassin Cross, is the complete opposite and has been accused of being overpowered quite often.
    • While this is true, a more glaring example is the Super Novice class of RO, who is a literal Jack. They can pick any skills from the first-tier classes freely, making them a neat side-character. Unfortunately, they are limited to novice-only weapons (meaning they can take Archer skills but can't use a bow), and more cripplingly, retain Novice-level health and mana pools. They're the weakest character in the game, but they're an "Expanded Class", which Gravity has made clear are not intended to be balanced.
      • At top levels magic-oriented Super Novices can become immune to ranged or melee physical attacks and have near-instant spellcasting at the same time, which makes them able to do some burst damage in PvP if they get the jump on the enemy. Still, their health pools usually prevent them from surviving the return damage.
  • The balance (sorcerer) class in Wizard 101 is this, having buffs and traps for every other school and some multipurpose ones, as well as having a few spells that mimic those of other school's such as their unique healing spell.
  • The much-hated M3 Lee in World of Tanks suffers from this status. This tier 4 medium tank has only the hull-mounted gun gun as the usable weapon (very much like a tank destroyer) while the its turret is unusable. Subsequently this tank cannot fulfill the roles of either a tank destroyer or a medium tank. The positioning of its gun means that the tank must turn its entire body, making it too cumbersome for aggressive flanking attacks that mediums are adept at. Furthermore, it still retains the unusable turret that can be shot at and is highly visible, preventing it from successfully ambushing foes like a tank destroyer. Coupled with the fact that it has mediocre penetration and armor, the M3's inability is considered to be the worst tank in the game.

    Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 
  • Rubick from Dota2 is officially classified as Disabler/Nuker, but his skills are not as powerful as other heroes'. His Disable deals no damage and has a long cooldown for a non-ultimate, his Nuke may have no chaining limit but its damage efficiency is pretty bad, and his supportive aura may not be very impactful in the short-term. Add to the fact that he has downright atrocious stat growth; despite being titled Grand Magus, his Int growth is tied with Ogre Magi. But it's also Reconstructed, as his skills and Rubick himself is extremely versatile, and his ultimate is Spell Steal which can and should be used to supplement his own deficiencies. Need to be a Disabler? Steal one and revel in your two areal stuns. Need to be a Nuker? Steal another Chain Lightning type spell and go deal heavy team damage. All things considered, he's considered top tier hero for his sheer flexibility in any situation.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Starcraft and its sequel:
    • Any unit that can attack both ground and air units, and which uses a Normal attack instead of Explosive or Concussive/Plasma, qualifies here. Examples include the Terran marine, Zerg mutalisk, and Protoss carrier. Other units might see limited use, but not due to a lack of specialization.
  • You want to achieve a balanced research in Star Ruler. While Crippling Overspecialization invites counters, spreading your research too widely will result in more focused opponents rolling over your forces with tougher ships, ships that can regenerate faster than you can hurt them or ships that can blow yours up easily.
  • In Homeworld 2, frigates, especially Vaygr frigates, are rather hard to find a tactical niche for. The core problem is that they are scissors in a game with rocks but no paper: Heavier capital ships aren't useful against strikecraft and corvettes, but extremely useful against frigates and capital ships, while the lighter strikecraft and corvettes are moderately usefull against everything. As such, no type of frigate can handle anything bigger, even in a Zerg Rush, while they can't catch (and can, at a cost, be zerg-rushed by) lighter ships. They could be used to protect bigger ships against smaller ships, but other small ships can do that too without getting slaughtered by enemy capital ships.

  • X-Wing:
    • The B-Wing expansion forces this upon the humble Y-Wing. The Y-Wing was slower and less maneuverable than the X-Wing or especially the A-Wing, but had its niche with heavier armor and shielding and a larger payload of missiles, alongside being the only one of the three to have ion cannons for disabling enemy craft. Then came the B-Wing, which did everything the Y-Wing does better - faster and more maneuverable (not quite on the level of the other two, but still a noticeable improvement), an even larger missile payload, and three of each cannon type compared to the Y-Wing's two.
    • In the sequel TIE Fighter, the TIE Avenger is one of the fighters obtained by the midgame. It's the ship that Vader's personal craft was the prototype for, a TIE fighter that was designed to traditional fighter standards rather than an engine with guns strapped to it. In its own levels, it's not really an example, as it performs quite well until you obtain the TIE Defender and stacks up well against an X-Wing. However, in-universe, it's considered an example of this: the Imperial combat doctrine is We Have Reserves, where the standard TIE and TIE Interceptor excel but the Avenger is too expensive to do, while missions that did require a smaller number of more powerful fighters would use the Defender instead, since the Defender is one of the greatest space-superiority vessels ever made while the Avenger is only decent. It says something that there were fewer Avengers made than Defenders, even though the Defender is the more expensive one.
    • In-universe, this also befalls the T-Wing, which was introduced in TIE Fighter. Designed as a replacement for the A-Wing interceptor, it ended up combining a similar lack of armor or shielding with maneuverability and speed closer to the X-Wing; the only upside was that it also had similar missile counts to the heavier-armed X-Wing. It nevertheless became popular and useful among third-parties when the Alliance started selling them off to make a profit.
  • Boron fighter ships in the X-Universe series of Wide Open Sandbox space combat/trading games. They have the shielding and speed of Split ships, but aren't anywhere near as fast. They have the firepower of Argon ships, but lack the energy reserves to fire their weapons. The ships can mount only energy weapons, and the energy weapons that they mount are all horrible energy hogs like the Ion Disruptor, making their tiny energy reserves even more painful (with one exception, the Skate is the only fighter in the Boron arsenal to mount the Energy Bolt Chaingun, and even then its cargo bay is not big enough to store its corresponding ammunition to last in a dogfight). Their only redeeming features are their looks and their relatively large cargo hold to spam missiles from, though their cargo capacity is still nowhere near as big as Teladi ships. However, their capital ships do not suffer from this, carrying overwhelming anti-capital ship firepower and fairly good shielding and speed, though at the cost of pathetic anti-fighter defenses; good thing you can simply smash the capital ship into the fighters or enabled 10x time acceleration and watch the fighters plow into your hull.

  • Billy Jean Blackwood in Backyard Sports has equal stats in everything in almost every game. She's a Master of None and not a Mario because she doesn't help your team in any way. This was probably the reason she was discontinued from the series (that and being a Southern Belle).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pandemic has one role literally called The Generalist, which has five actions instead of the usual four, and no special powers.
  • Dungeons & Dragons edition 3.5 has several:
    • Mystic Theurges, Red Mages who cast both arcane and divine spells. They suffer from stunted casting in a game where casters grow exponentially, loss of the benefits of each casting type (divine magic can be cast in armor, but arcane magic has a decent chance of spell failure, so a MT shouldn't wear armor like a pure divine caster), and unless the build is Wizard/Archivist/Mystic Theurge or Sorcerer/Shugenja/Mystic Theurge, they need to buff two attributes to be able to cast high level spells. Like bards, though, they're still very powerful classes pretty much by virtue of being casters, and their flexible entry requirements makes it easy to qualify as, say, an Ur-Priest (who gets casting at such a fast rate that the Mystic Theurge can't slow it down).
    • M.A.D. (Multiple Attribute Dependence) kills many attempts at jacks.
    • An even less powerful Master Of None is the 3E monk, mainly because it gets a mishmash of abilities that don't synergize - notably, high speed combined with attacks that only work while standing still. Among others, it gets many attacks with a moderate chance to hit and low damage, decent defenses but no ability to wear armor, good damage while grappling, but poor ability to actually grapple, and a good list of skills but lack of points to actually improve them with. They also has a severe case of M.A.D. - they need Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom to work properly.
    • The Psionics Handbook Soulknife got particularly badly hit with this. It's a melee class that is forced to use a single weapon (the soulknife), which deals pitiful damage and needs pre-emptive action (and feats) to be shaped into a useful form. The class also has medium BAB, and nerfed versions of the bonus damage ability of the rogue (without its skill selection) or the monk's mobility (without stunning fist or all its flavour abilities), while being limited to medium armour. At 13th level it gets the Knife to the Soul ability, which would make it useful for hunting spellcasters or killing fighters by ability damage... Provided the targets survive long enough to be permanently inconvenienced by repeated applications instead of dying by HP loss, and provided they don't just kill the soulknife first, both scenarios being more likely.
    • Medium armor. All the speed penalties of heavy armor while offering, at best, one extra point of AC bonus compared to light armor. At worst, they offer protection equal to light armors while being heavier, with lower maximum dexterity bonuses and higher skill penalties. The only decent medium armor is a heavy armor made of Mithral, which makes it count as a medium armor.
    • In D&D, each race of genies has a powerful connection to one of the four elements (djinn for air, efreet for fire, marid for water, dao for earth) — except for the jann, who are connected to all four elements but are the weakest of the genies.
    • The Hexblade, of Complete Warrior, was an early attempt at a Magic Knight base class. It failed miserably, since the designers badly overestimated how strong the Hexblade's various abilities were. On the physical side, it couldn't wear any armor lighter than a chain shirt, it didn't get any feats or abilities to boost its combat capabilities, and its sole unique power was the rather poor once-per-day debuff Curse ability. On the magic side, it was limited to fourth-level spells (the same as Paladins and Rangers, who no one would call caster classes), and the need to buff its combat stats often left its Charisma lagging. Even the class's creator apologized for it, giving the class a much-needed unofficial fix that became widely-used. The revised Hexblade has since found a niche as a melee-focused debuffer and wielder of the game's strongest familiars.
    • Bards are often considered this, but most experienced players agree that they avert it; while they have a medium base attack bonus and lower than full spell casting progression, they're actually specialized at using skills and are still decent casters in a game that greatly favors spellcasters, with a variety of unassuming but powerful effects like illusions and the power to make Blatant Lies seem believable. And they have the Diplomacy skill, which when used properly becomes a highly effective version of Mind Control, and unlike Charm and Dominate spells is nonmagical and has no saving throw. Bards also get great support in supplements, allowing them to choose alternative specializations.
    • Certain official NPCs tend to become this. Most of the time, when trying to mix two classes, players prefer to either use a prestige class like Eldritch Knight to advance both, or use one class to mimic the other (for instance, a Cloistered Cleric with the Trickery domain can fill in for a Rogue pretty well). The designers took longer to figure this out. A quick look through the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting reveals a multitude of characters with builds like Jezz the Lame - as a drow Rogue 6/Sorcerer 6, he's considered CR 14, despite possessing no spells above third-level, a Sneak Attack that deals 3d6 damage, and only thirty-six hit points. Storm Silverhand, though, is the absolute reigning queen of this. The formidable Bard of Shadowdale is a Chosen of Mystra Rogue 1/Fighter 4/Bard 8/Sorcerer 12/Harper Scout 3 - in layman's terms, a character with a CR equal to many an Eldritch Abomination, who would probably get eaten by a bog-standard beholder.
    • Multiclassing when poorly done usually results in this, if the two classes don't synergize well. For instance, a fighter 4/sorcerer 4 may be as strong as an 8th-level character on paper, but in practice, he's just mixing abilities that would have been handy four levels ago, and the fact that he has a lot of them doesn't matter, because he can't use both at the same time - he has the option of doing one thing that does nothing, or one thing that also does nothing.
    • Humans, in the editions that run more in a Puny Earthlings direction, fall into this. The 1st and 2nd Edition humans had no bonuses or penalties whatsoever, and no unique skills. Their only talents were the facts that they could ignore the Absurdly Low Level Cap and they could take levels in any class, but A: this didn't actually make humans better in those classes or during the levels prior to the cap, and B: most DMs considered racial level caps and class limitations to be stupid rules anyway, and houseruled them out. 5th Edition seems to offer the choice between the Master of None human (+1 to every stat) and the later Master of All human (+1 to two stats, one free proficiency, one free feat).
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a couple of units that fall under this, although it's fully possible for an entire army to become this if point allocation is stretched too thin. The rule of thumb is that if you absolutely need to fulfil a specific role like taking out an enemy's vehicles, it's better to dedicate a specialist squad or unit to that task; trying to load all of your squads with some level of anti-vehicular firepower is expensive, generally not as effective, and will leave you outmatched and outnumbered in the face of combined arms tactics. That being said, there's nothing wrong with attaching some versatility wherever possible, although this is heavily dependent on how each unit is to be deployed.
    • The 5th edition Space Marines codex fell under this for a number of years. Although Space Marines are more of a Stone Wall and Jack-of-All-Stats faction, the vanilla codex was overshadowed by the codices written for specific chapters like the Blood Angels, which had all of the usual Space Marine stuff in addition to having better vehicles and some of the most powerful close-combat units and characters in the game. 6th edition countered this by providing specializations for each chapter, although the Ultramarines still try to fulfill this (in practice, their rules lend themselves best to devastating alpha strikes supported by powerful special characters).
    • To their name, the humble Tactical Squad is the epitome of this trope; each trooper is armed with a Bolter (good against hordes of infantry), a Bolt Pistol (allowing them to fire their weapon and charge in the same turn), Frag Grenades (negating any cover bonuses when they charge an enemy) and Krak Grenades (allowing them to engage even heavy vehicles). They also all have Power Armor and usually one trooper will be armed with a close-range special weapon (such as a flamer) and a heavy anti-tank weapon (usually a Missile Launcher or Lascannon). They are also a troop choice, meaning they also fulfill your basic minimum requirements no matter what your army is built to be. The problem is none of those weapons excel at what they do; the average space marine can't put out enough attacks in close combat to make it worth charging anyone, krak grenades only give them the ability to engage tanks (you still need 5's and 6's on a D6 to actually inflict damage against most things), and the special and heavy weapons they have do not put out enough shots to deal respectable damage to their intended targets. And prior to the Combat Squad rule, the heavy and special weapon couldn't even be fired at the same target! (the Special Weapon usually need to be extremely close to the target while the heavy weapon can't shoot after moving; you had to be within spitting distance of the enemy to actually fire both at the same target, and usually by then they would have already charged you).
    • Eldar Guardian Defenders, the generalist unit in an army of specialists, can theoretically be kitted out to provide support firepower. The problem is that they're Fragile Speedsters armed with anti-infantry guns that shoot about as far as shotguns, which mean that they get outranged in firefights or get charged once in range. They're a bit better with a heavy weapons platform (which they have to take), but that in turn means that about 90% of the squad will generally be sitting around doing nothing, either because of the aforesaid range issues or because the heavy weapon is targeting a vehicle. They are also Over Shadowed By Awesome, since Dire Avengers fulfill the same general infantry tactical niche, but do everything better than the Guardian Defenders do, from better weapon range to better armor to hitting their targets more often. The trade-off being that Dire Avengers cost more, are fielded in smaller numbers, and cannot not take heavy weapon platforms.
    • The Imperium's Mars-class battlecruisers have a decent gun loadout, including a Nova Cannon, and carry a good number of attack craft, but excel in neither the direct fire nor carrier field. They are widely considered undergunned and production has stopped for them.
    • Chaos Space Marines have taken this slot - intended to be a dark version of the Space Marines, their aging codex and power creep in the game in general have left them worse at mobility, shooting and assault than their Jack of all Trades Loyalist brethren. Like the 6th Edition Space Marines, the Chaos Space Marines received a slew of updates late in 7th Edition in the form of new psychic powers, formations, and Legion-specific wargear and rules to make them more fluffy and (in the case of some Legions such as the Death Guard and Emperor's Children) semi-competitive.
  • The Eclipse Caste of the Solar Exalted (and their Infernal and Abyssal variants, the Fiends and Moonshadows) are both this and the Minmaxer's Delight, for entirely different reasons. On the one hand, several of their Caste abilities are woefully underdeveloped mechanically, making their core role as diplomats incredibly difficult to fulfill. On the other hand, their anima power allows them to learn the Charms of other beings, creating unintentional and game-breaking synergies that no one else has access to.
  • In the Digimon Collectible Card Game, Vaccine Digimon are strong against Virus Digimon, Virus Digimon are strong against Data Digimon, and Data Digimon are strong against nothing in particular. To compensate, Data Digimon have higher stats overall.
  • Halfling teams in Blood Bowl consist of the Mighty Glacier treemen, and the not-so-mighty halflings. Halflings have the movement speed of dwarfs comboed with the strength and durability of goblins, while lacking the former's team-wide invulnerability (due to ridiculously high armor and high number of blitzers with Block) and the latter's penchant for bringing illegal weaponry (bombs, chainsaws, pogo sticks... the works) onto the field as equalizers. Halflings only get general skills on doubles, meaning they'll be eating dirt a lot, and their treemen launchers have a tendency to take root and become immobile. They're widely considered to be one of the Joke Teams, the other being the Ogres, and only played as a Self-Imposed Challenge. That said, their discount on master chefs is worth it when you end up stealing all your opponent's rerolls... Even if they do crush half your roster into a fine red paste as payback.
  • Most of BattleTech's various Humongous Mecha and other combat are specialized to a degree, such as Fragile Speedster scout 'Mechs and hovercraft, or Mighty Glacier assault units and main battle tanks. Even main-line combat units are designed to favor power or speed for a specific reason. Some designs, however, are so average that they ultimately can't accomplish much.
    • The SHD-2H Shadow Hawk is a 55-ton 'Mech that has average speed, average armor, and average firepower for its size. However, this means that while it can fill a hole in a unit, it can't actually do anything effectively. It is too slow to act as a scout and lacks the agility to flank, but does not have the firepower to do more than plug gaps in a line of battle. It suffers from terrible range overlap, where half of its weapons will work well at one range but not the other, and ultimately means it does mediocre damage at every range.
    • The STN-3K Sentinel weighs 40 tons and moves at an average speed for that size. It carries modest armor and a small selection of weapons, but suffers from the same problems as the aforementioned Shadow Hawk by having its largest and most powerful weapon suffer inaccuracy at short range, which is the only range that its small missile launcher and laser can reach. It is generally not guilty of any major battlefield sins aside from not being able to fill a useful role, which is in some ways the ultimate failure.
    • The SR1-O Strider is another 40-ton machine that, in spite of its good armor and acceptable speed, is considered something of a joke by the fanbase, due to its nature as a highly expensive and experimental Inner Sphere Omnimech with the ability to be reconfigured for multiple roles...and not actually being much good in any of them. It can choose to be a slow and defenseless scout, a wimpy close-fighter, or an underpowered missile boat.
    • The Clan-built Thresher is explicitly noted to be one of these in-universe. It is sarcastically considered the natural result of democracy, committees, and compromise, and is a Clan heavy 'Mech that doesn't kick ass and take names the way Clan heavies generally do. While it isn't a complete failure, its generalized nature makes it so mediocre (it's too expensive to even be a basic trooper design) that it has ended up doing very little other than sit around far away from the front lines and look lumpy.
  • The Iron Chain cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! are intended to combine a strategy of attacking, Burn damage, and milling the opponent's Deck to be flexible and overwhelm the opponent. Unfortunately for them, they're pretty bad at all three. Iron Chain Repairman is their only non-Synchro attacker, with an average-at-best 1600 ATK, while ace Iron Chain Dragon has a good-but-not-great 2500, plus an ATK bonus that might get 1000 points for one turn if you've got a lot of Chains in the Graveyard. You can try to weaken your opponent's cards with Iron Chain Snake, but even then, doing so is incredibly slow and cumbersome. Burn cards are pretty sparse; Iron Chain Blaster does 800 damage a turn at the cost of a Monster, which is pretty lame since some cards can do 500 a turn with no other requirements, while Iron Chain Repairman and Paralyzing Chain do 300 damage per activation, which is barely even chip damage. And milling the Deck? Well, there's destroying a Monster with Iron Chain Snake, which has all the problems above, there's Poison Chain, which knocks off only a few cards a turn and stops you from attacking, and Dragon, which knocks off just three cards per attack. All this, combined with how tiny the archetype is, means that the Iron Chains will do just enough attacking to stop them from using stall cards, just enough burn damage to make their attacking force insufficient, and just enough milling to give your opponent Graveyard resources.
  • In the early game, this was a problem with many high-level monsters. They has both a good ATK and DEF stat, but that doesn't matter because only one will get used at a time. It was better to be a Glass Cannon like Summoned Skull than to have both stats on par with ones level 4 monsters at the time had like Guakateno Megami.
  • Unlike the other, specialized Mega Corps in Hc Svnt Dracones MarsCo does a bit of everything. This is represented in their educational system, characters with a scholarship from MarsCo can train in any proficiencies, but only up to two dots at character creation rather than the usual three. In addition, their ships have Omnislots where the other corps put weapons arrays, flak barriers, or drone bays on their ships. While that allows MarsCo ships more versatility and a greater ability to specialize from mission to mission it does make them more expensive.
  • Creating master-of-none characters is a common beginner's error in point build tabletop RPGs such as Champions or GURPS, especially perhaps among those with previous experience in class-and-level systems. Discovering that they can create characters who are strong and fast and skilled and other things, such players may get over-excited and take one of everything, and end up with characters who are mediocre at everything, while specialists have more fun.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In the first and second Advance Wars, Andy was the Jack-of-All-Stats and was a viable character because all his units were always evenly-powered, but with the massive introduction of lots of new characters and the revamping of one or two older ones, there were many many characters with advantages and no drawbacks, and these weren't even the Game Breaker characters. These drawbackless powers include extra vision in Fog of War and superior counterattacks, extra defence against ranged attacks, and several with bonuses on specific terrain, like plains, cities or roads. That said, Andy's still usable, thanks to his decent CO power.
    • In Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, the ability to play without a CO character was added. This makes you even more of a Master of None than the characters that lack useful skills; you have nothing but your own ingenuity to fall back on.
    • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin also had The Beast, the Warm-Up Boss designed for you to sink your teeth into in the first few missions. He has no CO power, can't load a CO into a unit, and has absolute base-level stats.
  • Magic Knights in Disgaea have only a leveling speed of B in swords and a B in staffs (most classes have an S in their main type or at least an A for the initial ones) and needs to level them both up. The same goes for the angel class (a slightly better jack that has an A in staffs and swords). They end up becoming the strongest mages and one of the deadliest units overall in the second game, however.
    • Majins used to be Lightning Bruisers that excelled in everything, but eventually got nerfed to the point of Master of None status. In the first game, Majins are the best class in the game at practically everything, possessing massive stat growth, aptitude, and weapon affinities right off the bat, with their only "drawback" being that they take an awful lot of Level Grinding to unlock. The second game toned them down by giving them low Movement range (which can be overcome), and a paltry throw range of ONE SQUARE (which cannot be enhanced). By the third game, their aptitudes affinities were made far below average, to the point where it was not worth the time fixing those issues to make them viable. The subsequent games have done little to improve Majins ever since.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's Montblanc is a character who, like any unit in the game, can go into any job that his race is capable of. However, his stats are so abysmal that there's really no point in using him at all, as even later units that join your clan have better stats. What's really crippling is the fact that the game will not even let you remove him from your party (short of killing him in a Jagd) so you'll have to endure his subparness for the whole game. He's likable enough that most people put up with him.
  • The Lightning from the original X-COM: UFO Defense. It can intercept and carry troops, but is a worse fighter than the Firestorm and a worse troop bus than the Skyranger. Its successor, the Avenger, fits the trope by being Awesome, but Impractical: it carries more troops than the Skyranger and is a stronger fighter than the Firestorm, but loses by being horribly expensive to build and fuel, so a lot of players refuse to build it until it's time for the endgame mission (which requires one to carry the team) because Skyrangers and Firestorms are simply more efficient.
  • SPARK in XCOM 2 have skills that can replicate those of other classes', but less effectively. They can remotely hack like Specialists, but their Hack stat is terrible. They can melee attack like Rangers, but can't deal status effects or have the advanced skills that keep lategame melee-focused Rangers relevant. Bombard allows them to blow things up at range like the Grenadier's Grenade Launcher, but without the specialised grenades or perks Grenadiers get to use.
  • A real danger in Shadowrun Returns. Since it becomes ever harder to put points into skills the higher level you go, it can be tempting to grab the low-hanging fruit instead. This spreading out of skills, however, can make things difficult in the lategame. This is further compounded by the fact that spellbook and item slots are shared among all the possible archetypes' needs. It's almost always better to specialise, and the ingame hints themselves suggest as much.
  • Civilization 4:
    • Spearmen and Pikemen. Their innate combat bonus against mounted units clashes with their offensively-oriented promotion tree.
    • Grenadiers. Their innate bonus against riflemen clashes with their defensively-oriented promotion tree.
    • Marines. Their amphibious ability and bonus against machine guns clashes with their defensively-oriented promotion tree.

    Visual Novels 
  • Coμ -Black Dragon In A Gentle Kingdom- has the Bishop class, which has stats of seven across the board, where other classes have two threes, a six, and a ten in the four stats. Except each team has five people — most of which are of the normal classes — that usually has four members that end up with four different tens.

     Western RPG 
  • In the Ultima series from part four onwards, the Shepherd class is the Embodiment of Virtue of Humility and therefore has low stats across the board (compare/contrast the Ranger class, which has medium stats in everything). As a consequence, Katrina, the series' Shepherd Non-Player Companion, usually plays The Load to the Player Party in games that require recruiting her.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind The Medium Armor skill. It is severely lacking in high end complete sets compared to Light and Heavy armors, and only has one piece of "artifact" equipment in its class (the Ebony Mail) compared to the multiple pieces for Light and Heavy. Additionally, wearing one of the best Medium armor sets (Indoril) will make Ordinators (to whom that armor is sacred) try to kill on sight for the rest of the game. An attempt is made in Tribunal to avert this with Adamantium armor, but the ore is so rare and armor so expensive to have made that few players bother.
  • Diablo II: The Druid is sometimes accused of being a Master Of None. He uses elemental magic, nature summons, and has shapeshifting for melee. However, his magic is weaker than the sorceress', often with huge timers placed on them. His summons are limited to 1, 3, or 5 damaging minions, while the Necromancer can have somewhere around 40 skeletons total. His melee skills are up to the task, but since his were-forms have limited durations, he has to worry about turning back into a human mid-battle.
  • While every magic-user in Might and Magic VI could upgrade those magical skills they could learn to the highest rank, and so were only kept from mastery of magic or combat through what skills they could learn and how many hit points and spell points were received per level, VII to IX added the ability to restrict what rank the skill could be upgraded to. This made hybrids less powerful, as upgrading magic schools allowed the learning of new spells and enhanced old spells... though it also allowed some of them to become Masters of Something: yes, the archer might not be all that good a spellcaster, but being able to directly add to the damage done when attacking with a bow has its uses, the druid might only be second best in elemental or clerical magic, but can have more spell points than anyone, etc.
  • Mass Effect's Kaidan Alenko avoids being The Load only by lieu of his Romance Sidequest and interesting backstory. He has biotics, but Liara has better ones (including Singularity, one of the most overpowered moves in the game). He has tech abilities, but so do Garrus and Tali. His weapon skills are the worst in the game (Tali, who in some ways is squishier than him, compensates for her similar weaknesses by having the highest shield ceiling in the game as well as being able to upgrade from basic pistols to shotguns), and he can only wear light armor (Garrus, in addition to being more durable, is able to upgrade to Medium Armor). Manually tweaking his stats can turn him into a versatile and powerful backup character, but most people only use him early on and dump him on the Normandy for the rest of the game.
    • That's because Kaidan is a Sentinel, undoubtedly the weakest class in the first game. It was meant to be a tech/biotic mix, but overall squishiness combined with lack of damage output meant it was just a worse Adept. It had tech powers that could lock down enemies, but they replaced biotic abilities that could do the same thing better. It had biotic powers that once again could lock down enemies, but they didn't get the really powerful ones. They could use pistols, but their version of the talent for pistols (in that they gained the usual benefits through their passive skill) was weaker than any other class's version, and they didn't get any other weapons to make up for this. Tech/Biotics also don't complement each other as well as Combat does with either, since both are primarily set on making enemies vulnerable while Combat kills them. In the Sentinel's case, making them helpless didn't matter if you could barley hurt them. Sentinels usually relied heavily on teammates to do the killing. By Mass Effect 3, however, the Sentinel has become a true Jack-of-All-Stats, when tech and biotic powers in general gained much larger damage output and the Sentinel's weapon skills became far more practical. It helped that they also got Tech Armor, making them the most durable class.
    • While Kaidan was only this in 1, Jacob is definitely this. He only has two basic offensive powers (Pull and Incendiary Ammo) that aren't incredibly useful later on, especially when two other squadmates (Jack and Grunt respectively) have the same powers and are better in combat. He gets Lift Grenades in Citadel, but again doesn't bring anything else special, as another teammate (Wrex this time) has the same power and also happens to be better in combat than Jacob.
  • In Dragon Age II, it's best to focus all of a character's ability points in their specialization tree and one ability tree, with maybe a few extra points in another tree when the first two are maxed out. Trying to spread the points equally across three or more trees can easily lead to Master Of None syndrome since you won't have enough points in any one tree to unlock the secondary bonuses, which can be a real problem at the endgame or on higher difficulties. Many of the available moves are decidedly mediocre without those bonuses.
    • That goes for weapon and magic skill trees. On the other hand, Rogues get a lot more value mixing-and-matching skills across trees than from most of the top ranked skills in each tree. They can still be effective as a Master Of None.
  • Kamil from The 7th Saga. Presumably, he was worth using in the original version, but in the version we all know, his stat growths are so hampered that he ends up below average in almost every way.
  • This is a potential pitfall in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. With the game eschewing classes in favor of an open-ended leveling system, players going the Magic Knight route are easily tempted into spreading their points too thin and not being as effective as a pure fighter or caster. Due to Level Scaling, enemies constantly get stronger, but a Magic Knight will level their magic slower than a pure caster, and spells do not level-scale, so by the point you got the latest level of useful spells, enemies are likely going to have outlevelled them already, plus there is the issue of balancing Mana/Stamina/Health, which likely either means your character will have too few mana to make spellcasting useful for more than a weak initial shot, too few stamina to handle themselves decently in melee, or not enough health, which opens them up to the One-Hit Kill attacks of dragons.
  • You want to avoid this in Alpha Protocol. Without the boost from Veteran it's impossible to fully level everything and most paths don't give you the really good stuff until far in, so too generalised a spread will leave you with a deficient Mikey that can't do much usefully. The game isn't completely unbeatable this way, but it'll be difficult. On the flipside, completely neglecting the other aspect will end poorly; stealth/technical builds need some investment in combat skills for the unskippable bosses and combat builds need some investment in technical to pass some puzzles.
  • The Brig Of War in Sid Meier's Pirates!. There are two schools of play in the game, "Board 'em quick" and "Pound them until they yield", which means that players will, depending on style, get a ship that is either extremely quick and maneuverable or has a huge broadside. This leaves the Brig Of War, which is slightly above average in speed, manouvering and weight of broadside, tragically unloved.
    • The tragedy is compounded by several of the rare Brig of War's basic stats, such as cargo space, cannon count, and crew size being matched by the extremely common Frigate, with only a few small differences in speed and agility to differentiate the two. Similarly, this is why traders rarely take Barques out into the water; they're a little faster and a little more agile than some of their peers, but their weight of cannon is so average and their cargo capacity is so light by contrast that merchant players usually pick up something either ultralight for smuggling runs (such as the Pinnace) or something massive and decently armed for bulk shipments (such as the Merchantman). And no one likes Fluyts.
  • Franklin Payne in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, due to how the game's Item Crafting system works. There are eight technological disciplines in the game, and five followers who have item-crafting skills. Franklin has novice level mastery of all eight disciplines, meaning he can craft a wide variety of basic items, but the other 4 followers (who specialise in two disciplines each and can attain technician level mastery of those two) are far better to call upon for assistance if you can recruit them.

Non-game examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • Jagi from Fist of the North Star is the weakest of the four Hokuto Shinken brothers. He tried to compensate for his lack of skill by fighting dirty, but it didn't work out for him in the long run. Jagi also knows Nanto Seiken, but Kenshiro deemed it too slow and an "insult to Shin" before sending him to Hell.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has the GAT-X102 Duel Gundam, which, being a system prototype for the Earth Alliance's other, more specialised mobile suits (Buster for ranged artillery, Blitz for stealth, Aegis for commanders and Strike for either close-combat, heavy assault or high mobility) has nearly no customisation or specialisation, despite being a "Close Quarters" mobile suit. ZAFT ends up giving it the Assault Shroud, a set of strengthened armor with a built-in railgun and missile pod, just to bring it up to the standard of the others.
    • The basic Strike, without its Striker Packs to specialise its battlefield role, is less capable of doing anything than Duel, having next to no in-built or equipped weaponry (the others get a rifle, at the very least).
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam gives us the RMS-106 Hizack. In theory, it's easily to see it as a major successor to the Zeon Zaku, despite it being used by the Earth Federation and the Titans. However, its power supply is lacking, meaning it can use a beam rifle or a beam saber, but not both at the same time (its back-up weapons include a standard machine gun and a heat hawk). Its early replacement, the RMS-108 Marasai, easily fixes this problem and quickly becomes the mainstay Titans unit.
  • This is a problem from some Burst Linkers in Accel World. Not many details are given but there is a point-buy system attached to the levelling up mechanic, allowing you to upgrade a Duel Avatar's existing abilities or unlock new ones as you level up. In the early game spreading points around to unlock new abilities can help cover obvious weaknesses but at turns you into this trope at the higher levels. This is noted to be a problem for Cyan Pile.
  • The Garland from Mega Zone 23. Unlike the other mechs in the show it can transform on its own rather than having to combine with extra parts, but as a result its bike mode is extremely large and unwieldy. When Shogo first gets it and tries to weave through traffic with it the way he does with his old bike he causes a multi-vehicle accident.
  • Silver Spoon: Hachiken feels like this after his mid-term exams. While he got the best overall grades by a pretty wide margin (scoring in the nineties in all subjects) he didn't get a full hundred or the highest grade in anything.
  • Sailor Moon: In the anime, Mamoru notes that he's studied a lot of different subjects, but hasn't found anything in particular to focus on. Makoto, impressed with his extensive knowledge, states he's a jack of all trades yet a master of none. Mamoru has to point out to her that what she said was not a compliment.
  • The infamous Leo from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is this. Built mainly as the mecha equivalent of a tank, its high modularity allows it to equip a jetpack to act as a flying mobile suit (in fact this is the first Leo variant to appear), high-powered Shoulder Cannons to perform artillery support missions, or mount a different jetpack to fight in space (possibly with the shoulder cannons for increased firepower), and can fight in any Earth environment except underwater in spite of its growing obsolescence, but, aside for a few high-powered custom models, it's outperformed by specialist designs in every single job (the Aries may have less firepower and armor but is a better flier (and the flying Leo appears only in the first episode, its Ace Pilot switching to the Aries until he gets his hands on the Tallgeese), the Tragos is a more stable and mobile artillery platform with more powerful and longer-ranged cannons, the Taurus is a better space-based mobile suit, and the Maganac is a superior fighter in the desert). This is actually aknowledged in-universe, as the specialist designs were developed precisely to take over those roles (the development and first deployment of the Taurus actually happens during the series, and provides the plot of an early episode).
    • It was also the only mobile suit period for about 20 years (Not counting the Tallgeese which was a one off prototype nobody could use effectively) The reason it can do so many things yet be inferior to the specialized versions that came out later is that for the majority of two decades it was simply the only option.

    Fan Works 

  • In the Pony POV Series:
    • The Changelings can fly like pegasi and use magic like Unicorns, but are much weaker in both areas and are no match for Earth Ponies in terms of strength. Their forte is stealth, so they need to be able to MIMIC the other tribes, but they can't beat the other tribes in any of their own fortes. The one exception is General Hercules Beetle, who's their races World's Strongest Man and physically incredibly strong.

  • The Y-Wing in Star Wars was designed to be a Jack-of-All-Stats, but by the time of the films it had been equaled or surpassed in all areas by the X-Wing. Notably, only one Y-Wing survived the Battle of Yavin (though that's a survival rate about equal to the X-Wing's, as twice as many of those came along yet only two of them survived), and overall did much worse in the battle (the Y-Wings were all shot down shortly after entering the trench, while X-Wings managed to make the entire run down it to the exhaust port twice).
    • This is justified in that the Y-Wing is also an artifact from the Clone Wars, and it was much more effective back then as a strike bomber. As the films indicate, time has not been kind to it.

     Live-Action TV 
  • The TaToBa Combo from Kamen Rider OOO is set up as one of these. While the form grants Eiji telescopic vision, Wolverine Claws and great jumping strength, these abilities almost never prove as good in a fight as the features granted by other Medals such as Cheetah's Super Speed or the better weapons granted by virtually all of the other arm parts. It even has a Running Gag that its finishing move almost never successfully kills anything that it's used against. It does, however, possess one advantage: TaToBa's ability set is designed specifically to allow him to rip Medals straight out of the Greeed so that he can then use those Medals to assume a more useful form.
  • Tiga Blast in the Ultraman Tiga movie The Final Oddyssey. It's much like Multi Type form, but much weaker.
  • In Silicon Valley, Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti has been trained in the various disciplines necessary to work in the technology field, but he's not particularly skilled in any of them. He's even called a "master of none" at one point. This is highlighted further when he is Kicked Upstairs in Hooli and Gavin Belson realizes that he's actually not that bright.

  • Notes in the Honor Harrington novel The Short Victorious War state that battleships, considered a Jack-of-All-Stats a hundred years ago, have come to be seen as this instead by the time of the book. Sitting in the gap between battlecruisers and dreadnoughts, they lack the firepower and survivability of full ships of the wall as well as the mobility of battlecruisers or anything below; hence, nobody makes them anymore. The Havenites do redeem theirs by clever deep-raiding tactics, but even that's only something they bothered to do because they had a huge stock of the things still sitting around from their heyday; even Haven does not and will not build any new battleships.
  • In Star Wars Wraith Squadron Falynn Sandskimmer sees herself as this, but in reality she really is more of a Jack-of-All-Trades. The fact that there is always someone in the squadron that is better than her at something, not realizing that it is several different people, causes her to take extreme risks to be the first at anything. In the end she succeeds and dies at the same time.
  • In A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned, the unaligned mages of the royal house have access to all four of the elemental magics. However, every time an unaligned mage uses one of the elements, they grow slightly stronger in that element and slightly weaker in its opposite. For that reason, unaligned tend to become dabblers in each of the four domains, never really growing strong in any one.

  • As indicated by the page quote, this is parodied in 8-Bit Theater with Red Mage, a Munchkin who firmly believes that the world works on tabletop RPG rules. Considering the amount of times he has be able to abuse this conviction in his favor, he might actually be right. However, regardless of whether he is right or not, one fact still stands: He is totally and completely inept at pretty much everything he does.
  • Señor Vorpal Kickasso in Goblins, who tries to master 11 Dungeons & Dragons classes at once and ends up with 1/11th of a level in each of them. This allows him to do things like hide 1/11th of his body in shadow (hey, it could be useful... if the enemy was only looking for his ankle), or cast 1/11th of a sleep spell (it makes you feel kind of lethargic... maybe).
  • Nale in The Order of the Stick has levels of fighter, rogue and sorceror, giving him roughly the same ability set as his Quirky Bard twin brother, Elan, but in a needlessly complicated way. Furthermore, while he is an effective strategist and schemer, Elan's Medium Awareness cuts right through almost all of Nale's schemes. He tries to match Roy in terms of leadership, but unlike Roy only two of his minions have any form of loyalty to him, while the others are only drawn to him to fulfill their revenge against the protagonists.
    • Similarly, there's Jenny, a rogue/bard/sorcerer. A bard is already sort of a combo of a rogue and a sorcerer, so she's basically got a whole bunch of very small, mostly redundant bonuses (not to mention an abysmal Base Attack).

    Web Original 
  • Gorgons in The Salvation War. "Every gorgon quickly became used to being told they were not as effective at persuading humans as succubi, much weaker fliers than harpies, less powerful witches than naga, poorer fighters than a common lesser demon."
  • This was Game Sack's opinion on the Hyperkin Retron 5, a console that could play games from various retro consoles: they found it noticeably inferior to the original consoles in many ways, and encountered various compatibility issues (including games that couldn't even be played). While they still enjoyed playing on it, they concluded it wasn't right for their needs, and would rather just play the games on their original consoles.

    Western Animation 
  • Kevin in Ben 10 suffers from this initially; an accident with the omnitrix leaves him with the superpowers of 10 different alien species, but those powers are 'diluted' and weaker than they should be. During an episode when circumstance force him into an Enemy Mine partnership with Ben, Ben suggests Kevin combines his powers to compensate for their relative weakness, such as using Super Speed and Super Strength to augment his melee skills, allowing him to become more of a Lightning Bruiser.
  • This is Played for Drama with Applejack in "The Last Roundup". Applejack competes in a rodeo competition, winning second to fourth place in every one of the events. Besides a blow to her pride, Applejack promised she'd come home with a lot of blue ribbons and prize money to fix Ponyville's town hall, so she stays behind in the rodeo town to try and earn some money before coming home.
    • The changelings are this as a species, by essentially being watered-down alicorns. They can't fly nearly as fast as a pegasus, they can't use magic nearly as well as a unicorn, and they're not nearly as tough physically as an earth pony, but they do have limited access to all three traits. They compensate for this by attacking in swarms and disguising themselves as ponies to get their food source: the love of others.

    Real Life 
  • Will Cuppy on Louis XIV:
    "In later life he knew a good deal about a wide range of subjects but nothing definite about any one subject."
  • The Bradley Fighting Vehicle, according to the book and TV movie The Pentagon Wars. Both the book and movie heavily exaggerated the flaws of the Bradley, which has since proven to be an effective combat platform. With that said, the Bradley did incorporate too many features for its own good. In particular, the Bradley's amphibious capability and firing ports never really panned out: substantial preparation was required to prepare the vehicle for operation on water, while the firing ports could not be used with regular weapons and also compromised the vehicle's protection as well. Both of these features have since been largely dropped in favour of improved armour.
  • Most medium tanks of World War II fell into this category once some time had passed — designed to be simple and cheap to build, with a reasonable blend of mobility, firepower, and protection. Tanks that managed to do pretty well by the standards of when they where introduced became outclassed within a year or two.
  • The US Army's Universal Camouflage Pattern. It was designed to provide equal concealment in jungle, urban and desert terrain. It succeeded in being equally sucky in all terrains. The Army tried to own up by claiming that their testing trials were biased toward conditions in Iraq... only, the best performer in both desert and urban terrain was the trials' actual winner, Desert All-Over Brush.
    • A lot of people seem to believe Multicam is a universal camouflage pattern. There's just one problem: it is essentially an arid/urban camouflage pattern that is thoroughly outclassed by more specialized patterns outside of its intended zone.
    • The recent US Navy Working Uniform has received a lot of criticism for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it has a blue and gray camouflage pattern, in a profession where falling into the ocean is an occupational hazard. The uniform, designed for durability and presentability, can become too hot to wear for crew members working in the engine room or serving in tropical climates. It also has a tendency to cling to the body, which is something you do not want when you're exposed to fire or immersed in water.
  • Possibly the ultimate example of this in warfare is the British implementation of the battlecruiser. Ideally, it was supposed to be faster than the more powerful ships, and more powerful than the faster ships, but the problem was that they often had way too much firepower and were way too big and expensive to justify only using against light/unarmored ships, all the while lacking sufficient armour to be employed in pitched battle against other capital ships. Even more so, the constant advancement of technology during the war meant that battleships, armor and all, rapidly caught up in speed.
  • The Kiev and Kuznetsov class aircraft carriers have been discontinued largely because of their inability to function as either aircraft carriers or missile cruisers. Created during the Cold War, they carry both long-ranged anti-ship missiles and aircraft. In theory, this arrangement would make them more economical and survivable, as conventional carriers lack the ability to defend themselves besides launching planes. However, this arrangement actually made the ships more vulnerable and less cost-effective. The anti-ship missiles used up space that could've been used for storing munitions, fuel, and aircraft, limiting the versatility and effectiveness of the ship's air wing; conversely, the size requirements of carrying aircraft make them a far larger target than comparably-armed warships, in addition to imposing higher manpower requirements. As a result, the ships have neither the versatility and offensive capability of a true carrier, nor the survivability and efficiency of a missile cruiser. Subsequently, all Kiev ships have been scrapped while the remaining Kuznetsov ships have been retooled into dedicated carriers.
  • Cargo liners suffered during the first half of the twentieth century due to trying to be too many different types of ships at once. In those days it was common for ocean liners to use extra space in their cargo hold note  to haul cargo and cargo ships often carried a small amount passengers. Making a ship that could carry large amounts of both passengers and cargo looked like a fantastic idea on paper. The biggest appeal of the concept was that the passengers only had to ride in the most comfortable and stable part of the ships, the middle and stern. In practice though these vessles couldn't challenge other passenger vessels. They couldn't compete with the first class grandeur of large ocean liners and, due to the addition of cargo facilities, had vastly reduced 2nd and especially 3rd class facilities. To take this trope to even greater extremes, Cargo liners tried to especially market to pleasure cruise enthusiasts but were even less suited for the purpose than ocean liners because they were forced to keep to strict cargo schedules.
  • Some martial artists accuse Mixed Martial Arts schools of making their students this by teaching a curriculum that covers all ranges of combat, but at a shallow level. The tension between Jack-of-All-Stats fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St. Pierre and specialists in one or two areas like Anderson Silva and Junior Dos Santos is an ongoing spectacle in MMA.
    • Between two specialists — such as the classic striker vs. grappler match up — there's a clear aspect where each fighter is (nominally) superior, but a Master of None risks having no such advantage.
  • A badly-made spork can seem like this. Can't hold as much food nor hold it as well as a spoon can, nor can it poke and hold as much solid food as a fork can. The knork is even worse.
  • From an economic standpoint, anything or anyone that is a Jack-of-All-Stats is punted into this category by default. The concept of "specialization" is far more endorsed, since producing a great many products at medium efficiency with decent cost loses out in the face of being able to produce a single product very efficiently, and at less cost.
    • An example: The two basic strategies a company can follow are those of cost leader and differentiator. Being a cost leader is all about efficiency and minimising costs; you're essentially doing the same as the competition, but you're doing it cheaper so you can undercut their prices. Differentiators focus on "doing things differently" or offering something the competition doesn't, which lets you get away with having higher prices. Companies that pursue neither strategy end up "between the chairs" - their products are neither particularly good nor particularly cheap, so why would you buy them? Same principle applies to going after broad vs. niche markets.note 
    • For this reason, polymaths, aka Renaissance Men, are being viewed as increasingly pointless in academia - a polymath cannot effectively contribute to any single area of study nearly as well as a specialist in that area. At best, the polymath will go unnoticed. At worst, they may be kicked out or be posed as detrimental due to their insufficient knowledge in any given field.
  • The best cricket 'all-rounders' are greats who could get into the team as both bowler and batsmen. All too often one day teams are packed full of people who can guess which end of a bat to hold more than half the time and jog in to bowl without tripping over their shoe laces too often.
  • Encyclopedias can offer info on a wide variety of topics but even online user-contributed ones like The Other Wiki only have enough depth to be a good intro for any one area. There's still no generalist substitute for textbooks and training.
    • Except that getting a rough outline with guidelines for further study is tremendously useful. Reading wikipedia won't turn you into a doctor, but it might stop you asking for antibiotics for the flunote  and let you know whether or not you might like to learn more.
  • Microsoft Publisher is this in the eyes of most people - it's supposedly a combination of the assets of Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint, but when it comes to resumes, it just doesn't stack up next to Word, and for the PP-esque pages pane, that too is also lackluster compared to the original slides pane mechanic of PowerPoint.
    • In terms of editing pictures, which is one of Publisher's central tasks, it's considered the worst among them; Word is much simpler and more efficient, and PowerPoint ironically has more often-used commands in picture editing than Publisher, such as removing backgrounds.
    • They are probably missing the point of Publisher. Publisher is more useful for poster design than for picture editing or resume typing.
  • The F-35 is widely considered this: in trying to be a Jack-of-All-Stats while still trying to be a stealth super-plane, it quickly became apparent that it was an overly costly and ultimately redundant design. It should be noted that this aircraft is forced to be three different aircraft in one - the Air Force wants a conventional multi-role fighter, the Navy wants a carrier-based fighter with longer range, and the Marines want a VTOL aircraft to replace the AV-8B Harrier - which is especially damning given that A) every other successful multirole warplane was not deliberately designed as such (every design that tried ended up being single-role), and B) every successful stealth warplane was single-role (and almost none of them were fighters). The project's goal of "commonality" between all three services has essentially meant that every service was forced to accept compromises: a feature designed to satisfy one service requirement would have been completely unnecessary for the other two services. As such, the USAF and Marines ended up with a far heavier fighter than they required, and the Navy had to accept a plane without redundant engines. Furthermore, the desire to fulfill so many roles with one aircraft has meant that many systems have yet to be mature, despite a protracted development period. Compounding this situation is that the F-35 is simply outshone to a large degree by almost every specialist aircraft in service. It lacks the loitering capability of a close air support platform like the A-10, it is too lightly armed in some configurations to function as an air-superiority fighter or fighter bomber like the F-16 and F/A-18, and it is too expensive to use as a dedicated interceptor.
  • This is one proposed reason as to why there are no bears in Africa, specifically south of the Sahara. It isn't because of climate (there are bears in India, for instance) - rather, the native carnivores (lions, hyenas, leopards, etc.) are better at hunting and the native herbivores (elephants, giraffes, wildebeasts, etc.) are better at eating plants. Bears are omnivorous, but they are crowded out by competition in either category. The only known species of bear that ever lived in Africa was the Atlas bear that lived in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria (notably, it is on the other side of the Sahara from all those super-carnivores and super-herbivores) - the last known member was hunted to extinction in the 1870's.
  • In sports, the term for this is "tweener", especially when talking about up-and-coming prospects. Some players aren't quite big enough to be The Big Guy and not quite fast enough to be the Fragile Speedster, which makes them less effective at positions where one is valued over the other. Such players tend to become backups since they are beaten out for the starting job by specialists (more likely if there are roster cap considerations for the manager to take into account).
  • Association Football: Some footballers became known for being "Utility Players"; versatile enough to play multiple positions, but not skilled enough at a particular position to become a regular starter. The msot famous example happens to be Manchester United fan-favorite John O'Shea: while he was merely a decent squad player in Sir Alex Ferguson's legendary United teams, his versatility and diverse skill set allowed him to play center back, right back, left back, defensive midfielder, and GOALKEEPER! (No, we are not kidding). Nowadays, the most well-known utility players include Man United's Daley Blind and Liverpool's James Milner.
  • During the 1960's, multi-purpose stadiums that could accommodate both baseball and American football teams became all the rage for civic infrastructure projects. The idea seemed sound enough - why build two separate stadiums and rack up twice as much infrastructure and construction cost, especially as with the concurrent rise of American suburbia cars became the dominant form of transportation and parking lots would be needed? As it turned out, the differing infrastructure requirements for each sport (field dimensions, equipment, possibility of both teams' seasons overlapping in August-October, among others) meant the stadiums ended up doing a bad job of satisfying their requirements for both sports' teams and their fans. Starting in the late 1980's sport-specific stadiums came back into vogue; the first of the "retro-classic" ballparks for the major leagues was built in 1992 (Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore) to rave reviews. As of 2015, only one stadium from this era remains that a baseball and football team still both call home ( Coliseum in Oakland, home of baseball's Athletics and football's Raiders). That's not to say that nowadays stadiums couldn't be converted to host sporting events other than what they're designed for (e.g., the college football Pinstripe Bowl is held yearly in Yankee Stadium), but they're saved for special occasions for the most part.
    • A similar thing has happened with track and field tracks in soccer stadiums. Originally track and field (and in some cases bike racing) was enjoying similar popularity as soccer and adding a patch of dirt ash or grass in the middle of a track and field track was seen as efficient use of space and resources. However, with the rise of soccer as the all dominant sport bar none, tracks were increasingly seen as The Scrappy and no new stadium has been built with them since about the 1980s. Part of the reason is that they increase the distance between field and spectators and in big stadiums the upper rungs are already pretty far away from the field. The only way to fix that would be a steeper incline in the rungs, which in temperate latitudes means the grass won't get enough sunlight most of the year. Some stadiums opted to make the grass movable for that reason, and they park the field outside the stadium whenever possible.
  • The spadroon was a type of cut-and-thrust sword popular in the late 18th century. Designed to be light enough to match a smallsword in an exchange of thrusts, but heavy enough to do some cutting, it ended up too light to cut well, but too flexible to be useful on the thrust, and the design quietly fell out of fashion. Modern re-enactors often state (not entirely jokingly) that the only combat use for a spadroon is to point out which way your subordinates should be heading.
  • Combination weapons, particularly those combining a knife and a gun, can often fall into this - having limited space to cram both functions into the same item, especially when trying to conceal the gun, usually means the gun is low-powered, inaccurate, hard to load and downright unsafe to have loaded when attempting to use the likewise small and usually brittle knife.