->'''Franklin Pierce Holland:''' We're done for. I asked for a whole company and they've sent me one Ranger.\\
'''Captain Bill [=MacDonald=]:''' Well, there's only one riot, isn't there?

A huge threat has raised its evil head. This threat is a danger to the entire nation/planet/galactic empire, and has already done a lot of damage. However, the government doesn't do the obvious thing to fight this oncoming hazard (rally the troops, send out the Marines, and use its full resources to destroy the threat once and for all). Instead they send in one man.

Now, the man might be a highly trained operative but he is [[JustOneMan still only one man]][[note]](the ability to create clones or duplicates and summon monsters doesn't count)[[/note]]. No one questions the government's choice in sending out one special guy, either. This is not a desperation move, as in ''{{Halo}}'', where [[RedshirtArmy one guy is all the government has left]]... no, in cases like this, the choice is usually "send the entire fleet" or "send Joe".

A common handwave/justification for this trope is that a full military assault would draw unwanted attention to the operation. As in, if we send an army to [[StormingTheCastle attack the secret base]], the villain will use his superweapon, and game over. If we send Joe then villain won't react so intensely, and we can get past his guard. More realistically, the entire army may be needed to hold the villain's army at bay, or slow them down long enough to give Joe time to stop the villain. In other words, this trope is when the government is GenreSavvy about a OneManArmy.

If Joe makes a habit of succeeding at these missions he'll get a reputation for [[WeDoTheImpossible Doing the Impossible]].

This trope is most often seen in FirstPersonShooter video games, though it's sometimes often seen in movies and television shows.

Related to ItsUpToYou and TheOnlyOne. It can involve ConservationOfNinjutsu. Contrast SurprisinglyEliteCannonFodder, which is where a scrappy RagtagBunchOfMisfits is sent out on an ImpossibleTask rather than an obvious {{Badass}}.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Happened once in ''MahouSenseiNegima''. What reinforcement should the Mahora mages send against a force that easily defeated the Kyoto Magic Association and is about to release a [[CosmicHorror Demon God]]? Their [[RedshirtArmy entire mage reserve]], that would be too slow and too weak to make a difference, as well as leaving Mahora unguarded? [[GenreSavvy No way]]. Send [[PersonOfMassDestruction Evangeline]] [[SealedBadassInACan instead]].
* Similarly invoked at times in ''{{Hellsing}}''; {{Alucard}} is the most obvious example, but certainly not the only one. That series runneth over with {{Badass}}es.
** Points to Alucard for actually being a OneManArmy. [[spoiler: At full release of his RestrainingBolt system, Alucard can spawn an entire army consisting of EVERYONE HE'S EVER EATEN. Suffice to say, that's a lot of minions. And he could already fight hundreds of enemies, other freakishly powerful vampires, and reform from grotesque dismemberment and decapitation.]]
** Additionally, following a certain incident at the manor, [[spoiler: the Hellsing Organization loses most of its rank and file soldiers and resort to hiring mercenaries. The mercenaries are also wiped out to the last man by the end of the manga. Basically, if a character in this series isn't a complete BadAss, he's a RedShirt.]]
* In ''OnePiece'', a major part of [[KnightTemplar Rob Lucci's]] backstory involves an instance where pirates invaded a kingdom, taking their several-hundred man army as hostages, and demanded control. [[TheGovernment The World Government]] sent only Rob Lucci, who was only [[{{Tykebomb}} thirteen years old at the time]], to deal with the situation. [[AtopAMountainOfCorpses Turns out that was kinda overkill.]]
* Kakuri in ''Bokko''. When the small border city of Ryo is threatened by a large invading army, they send a request for help to the clan of Bokk. They send a single man to save the city.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': In the Ishval war Amestrian soldiers had the upper hand on the Ishval troops but the Ishval priests could take down 10 men. The state alchemists, due to their status [[PersonOfMassDestruction of living nukes]], could wipe out whole areas. The response to trouble with Ishval insurgents was to send in Kimblee.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* During the police-strike riots in ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', the "One Ranger" was [[PersonOfMassDestruction Dr. Manhattan]]. Yup, that'll definitely do it. But averted with the other heroes, who tried to calm the riots by themselves and failed utterly.
** [[SociopathicHero Rorschach]] managed to quell the riots in his neighbourhood just by appearing.
** The Comedian....did his own thing. By that, see how InvaderZim handles fires.
** It depends what you mean by "calm". They didn't "control" the riots - Rorschach caused everyone to flee in terror and beat up a few people horribly, and the Comedian suppressed his riot by using prodigious quanitites of tear gas. They ''stopped'' the riots, just not very...well.
*** Except for, as previously mentioned, [[PhysicalGod Dr. Manhattan]], who simply teleported the rioters back to their homes.
* Deconstructed in ''{{ComicBook/Echo}}''. Ivy Raven, [[ActionGirl NSB field agent]], contacts her superiors and begins to get guidance from her Washington organization on locating and stopping the Phi Project, the military/corporate experiment that might end life on Earth as we know it. However, Julie Martin [[GenreSavvy wonders why they have not received any support or personnel to help deal with the potentially Apocalyptic scenario]]. This causes Ivy to begin to think about it and she starts to agree with Julie that this might have some unpleasant implications as to the trustworthiness of her superiors
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd''
** In one comic after the "Judge Cal" arc, the Judges are trying to figure out how to clean up a district that had become totally lawless. The council wants to send in a small army of Judges. Dredd decides that they need to send a different message and convinces them to just send one. Dredd went into the district with nothing but his gun and a dump truck. He left, totally unharmed, with a dump truck full of criminals.
** In fact, the very first Dredd strip portrayed Dredd going against a gang of criminals on his own for the same reasons.
* Each of the Universe's designated sectors comprises multiple populated star systems, and in some cases whole galaxies. The guardians assign each sector one [[{{Comicbook/GreenLantern}} Lantern]].
** Earth is a [[EarthIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse special case]]. Given the number of attempted invasions, supervillains and cosmic crises it incurs, this one planet in sector 2814 needs up to 4 dedicated lanterns.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Occurs in ''Film/{{Lockout}}'' when the president and his advisors send Snow to rescue the president's daughter in lieu of sending in the marines to try and save all of the hostages. One of the advisors even comments "or, we could send in one man. One man with one very specific order."
* Film/JamesBond. He's regularly sent into situations the British government might more easily clean up by sending in a crack squad of SAS commandos. Somehow, despite the man-power shortage, [[DoubleEntendre he always ends up on top.]]
** Man-power shortage? This is James Bond! He's too-much man for the bad guys to handle!
** But Bond first has to investigate the situation, which is a task better suited to a spy. On several occasions he's backed up by an attack force for the StormingTheCastle scene -- never the SAS, but then again an army of modern ninjas looks more 'James Bondish'.
* In ''Film/EscapeFromNewYork,'' the government sends in Snake as a last resort, but in ''Film/EscapeFromLA,'' the president consciously utilizes the trope.
* In the ''Franchise/StarWars'' films, Jedi Knights are sent out alone (or, occasionally, with their apprentice) to handle whatever problem happens to be occurring at the time. Of course, if the Jedi in question aren't the main characters, [[RedShirt this is usually ineffective]].
* The ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' movie ''[[Anime/ResidentEvilDegeneration Degeneration]]'' shows the government's wised up since the events of [=RE4=]. When the [[TheVirus T-Virus]] breaks out in an airport, who do they send in to rescue survivors trapped inside? A "Specialist" by the name of [[OneManArmy Leon Kennedy]].
* In ''Film/TheFifthElement'', ActionGirl [[OverlyLongName Leeloo Minai Lekarariba-Laminai-Tchai Ekbat De Sebat]] is all that stands between the Earth and its Doom. Of course, as far as the government of Earth is concerned, [[BadAss Korben Dallas]] is all that stands between Earth and its Doom, so this movie uses this trope ''twice''. Would that make it One Riot Two Rangers?
** Nope! [[TheFederation The Federated Territories]] sends Korben Dallas, the [[StarfishAliens Mondoshawan]] sends Leeloo. They just turned out to be a BattleCouple [[LoveAtFirstSight At First Sight]].
* John Rambo in probably the entire film series.
** In the fourth film, right near the beginning, there is an a choice between hiring an entire team of mercenary veterans festooned with guns or hiring Rambo with just a bow and arrows, and a knife. The employer chooses Rambo, and only hires the mercenary team when it looks like Rambo might not be coming.
* At the beginning of ''Film/JudgeDredd'', two young Judges get caught in a shootout and call for backup. They get Dredd. Just Dredd. It's enough.
-->'''Judge Dredd''': [''standing tall amidst random fire''] What are you doing down there, Judge Hershey?
-->'''Judge Hershey''': [''crouched''] Waiting for back-up.
-->'''Judge Dredd''': ''It's here''.
* And then there's ''Film/{{Dredd}}'', in which Dredd is locked inside an entire apartment complex full of criminals. The trope is somewhat subverted, as he's accompanied by a single trainee on assessment. And he does request reinforcements at one point. Then it ultimately turns out that what Dredd ''really'' needed wasn't more Judges, just more ammo for his Lawgiver, as he ended up running out of bullets before Ma-Ma ran out of Mooks.
* Stated in the Creator/DavidMamet film ''Spartan'' by Bobby Scott, who is sent in to recover the President's kidnapped daughter. The title of the film is a reference to a historical example: King Leonidas I (of Thermopylae fame) sent a single Spartan soldier to a neighboring city-state that requested aid.
** The actual situation is actually more of a TheOnlyOne since the hero has gone rogue and is using his own resources for the mission. The people in charge are doing a cover-up and do not want her rescued. He tells her the story to give her hope and gain her trust.
* Referenced in ''Film/RunningScared1986''. When the two CowboyCop protagonists start feeling apprehensive about being [[{{Retirony}} one month from retirement]] they ask for one car to help them bust a drug den. Events escalate and they end up taking apart the den before help arrives. As the dust settles, a dozen police cars arrive. The lead officer explains that as they had never requested ''any'' help before the department assumed it was a riot.
* A variant in ''Film/PulpFiction'', when Jules and Vince need a ''lot'' of help for a mess they've gotten into:
-->'''[[ProfessionalKiller Jules]]:''' ''(angrily)'' I don't wanna hear about no motherfuckin' ifs. All I wanna hear from your ass is, You ain't got no problem, Jules. I'm on the motherfucker. Go back in there, chill them niggers out and wait for the cavalry which should be coming directly. \\
'''[[TheDon Marcellus]]:''' ''(calmly)'' You ain't got no problem, Jules. I'm on the motherfucker. Go back in there, chill them niggers out and wait for [[CleanupCrew the Wolf]] who should be coming directly. \\
'''Jules:''' ''(suddenly happy)'' You're sending the ''Wolf?'' ...shit, negro, that's all you had to say.
* In ''Film/{{Taken}}'', Liam Neeson's character Bryan Mills [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] the fact that the film involves this sort of story when he tells the criminals who have kidnapped his daughter that he has "a very specific set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you." The villain, being a villain, refuses to accept that he's a walking dead man at this point.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Remo Williams, the hero of the ''{{Destroyer}}'' series of action novels, is a tongue-in-cheek [[SatireParodyPastiche satire]] of the OneManArmy genre of adventure fiction, but he's also a perfect example of this trope. The authors even [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] it in the several of the novels of the long-running series by having everyone note how ridiculous it is to only send one man out to stop the latest menace.
** Although this may also be the result of Remo being so top-secret that only the President gets to know that he exists, or at least originally being so.
** It's actually explained in the first book of the series. The secret organization CURE is allowed to lie, cheat, and steal, but not to kill. This is because the President is worried about creating an agency that could be a threat to the country. CURE finally persuades the President to agree to one man. When one CURE member laments that one man is not enough, the head of CURE replies that's all they are going to get, so he better be a BadAss. Luckily for CURE, he is.
* Creator/DanAbnett's ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' novel ''Literature/BrothersOfTheSnake'' starts this way -- with a single SpaceMarine sent to clear an ''entire province'' of evil sadist space elves. This has been going on since the Imperium's beginnings in the Great Crusade, where at one point a single squad of Iron Warriors Astartes was left on a world with several million inhabitants.
** Also used in one of the Last Chancers novels, where the titular team is sent in to destroy a hive city to contain a Genestealer outbreak. The "mass assault vs. single infiltration" justification is used explicitly.
** "Sir, why send only one Arbitrator?" "Troper, there is only one riot."
* In Steven Erikson's ''Malazan Books of the Fallen'' series, the small island nation of the Seguleh rebuffs missionaries from the Pannion Domin, a massive theocracy practicing cannibalism and rape of dying enemies. After the Pannion Domin declares war on the tiny nation, the Seguleh respond by sending a punitive army... consisting of three brothers. The most dangerous of whom is only considered the ''third'' most dangerous Seguleh.
* The ''RangersApprentice'' novel series actually uses this phrase to describe the kingdom's group of elite archers, spies, and tacticians. It's not exactly wrong, considering this happens several times during the series.
** In fact, there's a bit of backstory where the page quote is adapted to the (Araluen) Rangers, and the phrase is brought up several times.
* At the end of the fourth book in Creator/LeoFrankowski's Conrad Stargard series, ''The Flying Warlord'', Conrad suggests this trope. The actual reason he was there alone was [[TrappedInThePast slightly different]].
* Gets frequently lampshaded in the Discworld books, especially the City Watch books. Detritus (the troll) shows up to escalating situations with a crossbow/ballista that fires a bundle of arrows that, due to the power, shatter and turn into shrapnel. It doesn't take out doors, it takes out ''walls.'' Needless to say, Vimes calls on Detritus quite often, ''usually'' as just a threat to drive his message home. Usually.
** The wizards at the Unseen University tap Rincewind several times in the same way, but mostly because they don't want to bother with it themselves.
* DavidDrake's ''Northworld'' trilogy. The Consensus sent a fleet to investigate the '''disappearance''' of the newly colonized planet Northworld. The fleet vanished too, so they sent another one, and then a third when the second was lost -- and of course, number three disappeared as well. And then they got serious and sent Nils Hansen, a police special operations officer. Subverted, because as of the end of the trilogy, '''he''' hasn't returned to the Consensus either. However, he '''has''' become a [[PhysicalGod god]].
* Referenced in ''Literature/{{Friday}}'' after a riot started by a previously unknown pseudo-religious sect attacking Scientologists and Hari Krishnas in an airport. Friday herself mentions it took almost as many Mounties as there were rioters to stop it, as opposed to the usual ratio of One riot: One Mountie.
* ''Literature/SpaceCadet''. Girard Burke is annoyed when the Space Patrol doesn't send a warship to put down the 'native uprising', only one rocketship which crashes injuring its commanding officer and [[YouAreInCommandNow leaving the space cadets to handle the situation]]. It turns out there is no native uprising, just a crisis caused by Girard needlessly antagonising the Venusians which is solved through diplomacy by the cadets, not gunfire.
* ''InFuryBorn'' has the principle that one company of the Imperial Cadre is enough to handle most situations. The number of exceptions to this rule can be counted on both hands with fingers left over. Near the end of the book, one character has a brief OhCrap moment on the villain's behalf when he learns that the Cadre is planning to send a full ''battalion'' of drop commandos in after them.
* Downplayed somewhat but still played straight in ''Literature/TheEagleOfTheNinth'', as the protagonist is travelling in disguise and under a cover identity.
* Going back a bit, ''Literature/TheAdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn'' uses the trope: a lone man shames a lynch mob into disbanding.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The Doctor is called an army by River in the 'Time of Angels' Serial.
-->'''Father Octavian''': You promised me an army.\\
'''River Song''': I promised you the ''equivalent'' of an army.
** In fact, this could be considered the Doctor's Modus Operandi. As [[Main/LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by Rory Williams in "Asylum of the Daleks".
--->'''The Doctor:''' You're going to fire me at a planet? That's your plan? I get fired at a planet and expected to fix it?\\
'''Rory:''' In fairness, that is slightly your M.O.
* ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]'' skirts this trope. Even though Jack Bauer is backed by the CTU and an entire brigade of government agents that ought to be out there backing him up, somehow he always ends up going it alone. Sometimes at the direction of his superiors.
** That's because he's goddamned [[MemeticBadass Jack Bauer]], and if [[MemeticMutation anyone else listened to him, the show would be called "3"]].
** Eventually, the powers that be begin to realize both how good he is, ''and'' the fact that he can be trusted - sometimes your own people are [[TheStarscream Starscreamy]] and TheMole is somewhere in CTU. After a certain point, this once-a-season saying joins the series' CatchPhrase list: ''"Get me Jack Bauer."''
* The PilotMovie of ''Series/WalkerTexasRanger'' was called "One Riot, One Ranger." However, in practice, Walker's almost always backed up by Trivette, and for larger operations a full assortment of law enforcement units help out. However, there are quite a few episodes where he does it alone because no one but Creator/ChuckNorris can do it.
* This trope is pretty much the entire justification for ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''.
** Although the show could be considered a subversion, as it's often pointed out that the only reason Buffy has been the most successful and long-lived Slayer is that ''she's not alone.'' By working with a team, she is much more powerful than just a lone Slayer.
** The Watcher's Council (before Buffy) seemed to employ a "WeHaveReserves" concept. It didn't matter if a slayer died in an impossible mission, the next one would succeed. Or the the one after that.
* ''Series/BabylonFive''
** This trope serves as the philosophy for the Rangers. It doesn't always work, and they have back-up, but it's mentioned in one spin-off. "One crisis, one ranger."
** Especially earlier in the series, the Rangers specialize in being discreet, as evidenced by the fact that they show up [[MeaningfulBackgroundEvent mixed in with the extras]] in several episodes of the show before they are actually introduced. At least one main character whose job it is to be ProperlyParanoid turns his head to pay attention to one of them before he is told about their existence. [[TheLancer Another character]] who insists on [[TheOmniscient knowing everything that happens]] on her station, reveals that she [[CrowningMomentOfFunny knows everything about them already]] just as TheCaptain is about to brief her on their existence.
** Later in the series, they are able to send lone Rangers (or lone [[CoolStarship White Stars]], the Rangers' ship of choice) to deal with problems, because everybody knows by then that they represent TheAlliance. On occasion, [[AvertedTrope it still doesn't help.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* In Marty Robbin's "Big Iron", a town that has been run by an outlaw that has killed 20 men who came to arrest him is finally saved by a single Arizona Ranger.
* Music/SteveEarle's "Justice in Ontario":
-->It was the local police who made the call.\\
They said "Send us Corporal Terry Hall."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio]]
* ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tales_of_the_Texas_Rangers Tales of the Texas Rangers]]'' plays this trope straight most of the time. Ranger Pearson normally works with the local authorities, but he's usually the only ranger assigned to the case.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Sure, sure, they ''say'' "One Riot One Ranger", but the Texas Rangers in ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'' [[AvertedTrope frequently hire]]...ahem...[[UnusualEuphemism troubleshooters]]. Like, say, the [[PlayerParty posse]]. Generally speaking, though, operating alone in ''Deadlands'' is a [[NeverSplitTheParty bad idea]]. Rangers may be brave, ''[[GratuitousSpanish hombre]]'', but they ain't stupid.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' this is how you get used by the Civil War factions. Simply joining the Empire faction requires proving you can do this: One fort of bandits, one dragonborn. You answer to General Tullius, who serves as this role on an international scale. He is a "troubleshooter" for the Empire and seems to have arrived with a small force and recruited most of his men while in Skyrim.
* Spartans in ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' are treated more as tactical weapons than normal soldiers. This is lampshaded in ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'' by a comment from one of the marine superiors.
** The Arbiter is the Covenant's version of the trope. Because of the [[ProudWarriorRace lack of honour]] involved, they tend to use it as a UriahGambit.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'' is all about this trope. There's even a pretty well-supported in-game explanation for it, too. The Citadel Council can't send their battlefleet to stop TheDragon because it would spark a galaxy-wide war, so they hand the problem over to their OneManArmy. They don't even provide a ship and crew, the Alliance has to step in and give Shepard their new SuperPrototype stealth frigate.
** All Spectres are One Rangers -- literally; you don't get selected unless you're that sort of omni-competent badass and leader of men. The Council was [[GenreSavvy savvy]] enough to stay on the lookout for those sort of people, give them a special designation, and use them appropriately. As force responses go, sending a single Spectre is considered one step below an entire warfleet.
** On the other hand, up until the [[VideoGame/MassEffect3 third game]], other than Shepard him/herself every Spectre encountered was either actively working against the council, corrupt, or dead. The council gives them no oversight whatsoever, and would actively prefer ''not'' knowing what they're up to.
** Also, this is {{deconstructed}} and {{subverted}} in the case of most Spectres. Shepard has an entire ship and crew at his/her command (including a team of six badasses who could ''each'' be a Spectre with a little training), along with several independent weapons developers contracting to provide them with arms and armor. Saren, meanwhile, has built himself into a major corporate power player and has an army of mercenaries, asari commandos and geth at his command.
* ''VideoGame/FreeSpace'' and its sequel were somewhat notable for making the protagonist just a wheel in the cog of the army machine, particularly toward the end of the sequel, where you don't really win anymore... you just hope to survive. It speaks volumes about this trope that the games were actually criticized for [[PinballProtagonist detaching the player from the plot]] this way; people want to be the Guy. [[VideoGame/IWannaBeTheGuy Not that one]].
* In general, any FPS game will have this situation, either by design ("We're sending in Joe the BadAss"), or by happenstance ("We're sending in a squad of marines, but they'll [[RedshirtArmy all be killed]] except for Joe the BadAss").
* In many games, the player can respawn at the beginning of the level when they die. When the player is also a [[FeaturelessProtagonist generic soldier]], this allows for the interpretation that they're not really a One Man Army at all - just an endless ''series'' of expendable grunts. This is explicitly the case in the side-scroller ''VideoGame/PrinnyCanIReallyBeTheHero''.
* Mobius One from ''VideoGame/AceCombat04ShatteredSkies'' had well proven his [[OneManArmy One Man Air Force]] credentials, so in the Operation Katina of ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'', when a resurgent Erusean military tries to attack, he alone (and AWACS [=SkyEye=], but he never fires a shot and so doesn't count) is sent to fight them off.
** Likewise in the penultimate level of ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'', the plan is basically for Galm One and PJ to perform an AirstrikeImpossible while everyone else goes high and draws the enemy's fire away from them.
* Lampshaded in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' when Breen notes Gordon Freeman's tendency to plow through enemy forces like a weedwhacker. At the moment of his apparent defeat, he reveals he's aware that ''somebody'' wanted Gordon to be there, and to do what he did.
** Whether this trope actually applies is still an open question. Yes, the G-Man sent Gordon in alone to take down the Combine (presumably), but his perspective and resources are, well... ''unusual'', to say the least.
* {{Justified|Trope}} in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', where a Navy SEAL team is sent into Big Shell and promptly slaughtered by one of the villains. [[spoiler: Even worse, the SEAL team was sent in as a decoy, so that Raiden would be able to infiltrate undetected. High Command didn't just know the [=SEALs=] were in danger, they purposely sent them to their deaths.]]
** Actually subverted in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', at first, it may seem like the government's putting a lot of faith in Snake's abilities, but in the end, it's revealed [[spoiler:the entire point of sending him was to spread a biological weapon and kill everyone so they can recover the Metal Gear they stole and its test data intact]].
** Also done in the above-mentioned realistic manner in the final act of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'' - multiple people are sent onto [[spoiler:Outer Haven]] for the final battle, but overall the job of everyone other than Snake is to make sure he and the Metal Gear Mk III get where they need to go and keep any trouble that pops up off their backs.
* Commandos in ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquer''. Made quite explicit in the {{FPS}} ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRenegade''.
* This fits Samus Aran of ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' to a T. The first time is a subversion in that the Galactic Federation already tried and failed a large scale attack, so in desperation sent a lone bounty hunter. After she utterly annihilated everything, standard procedure became "Send Samus first."
** The same plot point applies in ''VideoGame/MetroidIIReturnOfSamus'' and ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime 2''; Samus is sent in after a team of her Federation predecessors didn't return.
** Not an exaggeration. In ''Metroid Prime 3'', the Federation is GenreSavvy enough to hold off its entire space armada while Samus forges ahead on her own twice: [[spoiler:the Space Pirate Homeworld first and then Phaaze immediately afterward]]. Even after the Federation's [[TookALevelInBadass badass upgrade]], they're not stupid.
*** Prime 3 actually takes this a step further: two planets that have had a leviathan impact and they need to find out what the pirates are up to on their home world. While Samus is out for the count they send your fellow hunters on solo missions to each location, figuring that their hard-earned statuses as [[PersonOfMassDestruction people of mass destruction]] will mean they can get the job done. When contact is lost with them they send Samus to find out what happened to each of them.
** ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'' then averts this by having Samus respond to a distress signal that the Federation also responds to by sending TheSquad. [[spoiler: Of whom [[RedShirtArmy all but one die]].]]
* ''VideoGame/UrbanChaosRiotResponse''. It's you, and, for the beginning mission, your superior. For the rest of the game, you get you, a riot shield, a gun, and if you're lucky, backup in the form of a beat cop, firefighter, or EMT.
** Sadly, the "backup" you're speaking of isn't backup. They're guys who you rescued and are escorting to a safe location, and until then, they support you.
* ''{{Geneforge}} 4'' & ''5'', being set during an open war between the Shapers and the rebellion, repeatedly make the point that a skilled Shaper in the right place is effectively an army. In ''4'', one Shaper is perfectly capable of securing a mountain pass all by himself, and the five infiltrators sent into a rebel-occupied province soon have the rebellion in disarray.
** This is in large part because Shapers shape, crafting {{mons}} from vats of goo or, in a pinch, nothing but sheer willpower. A Shaper is a OneManArmy because one man can create a small army of fire-breathing lizards. Or acidic zombies. Or telepathic helium-filled squid things. This is central to the plot of the series and how the Shapers try to maintain their rule.
** But still true when the Shaper sent isn't a shaper by class. Agents operate alone but one agent may still be considered a sufficient response to a problem.
* The opening sequence of ''VideoGame/MegaManXCommandMission'' sees three Hunters being dispatched to quell a rebellion on a FloatingContinent. While their mission is [[JustifiedTrope explicitly stated]] to be infiltration, with the full-scale assault as plan B, the distinction rapidly fades as the game progresses.
** Granted, they sent X and Zero in, both of whom are known for wiping out small armies on their own, which probably says a lot regarding High-Command's {{genre savv|y}}iness.
* In keeping with its status as an old school style FPS, [[VideoGame/SeriousSam Sam "Serious" Stone]] is the only agent they send through time to recover the PlotCoupons, shoot his way through entire armies (literally, it's what the "Serious Engine" was designed for) and use them to kill the BigBad. It's AllThereInTheManual that [[JustifiedTrope the time-travel device only allows for one person to be sent through]] (except when you play co-op), but still. [[spoiler:And then the prequel {{retcon}}s this to be that Sam [[EverybodysDeadDave is the only person still around to use the device at all]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'', the protagonist is mandated by prophecy to become "Hortator", a warrior who unites the Houses in times of trouble, in your case by walking over there and hitting them with a magic sword. It's one step in [[spoiler: proving they're the Nerevarine]]. Or possibly [[spoiler: ''becoming'' the Nerevarine, the metaphysics involved are a bit [[MindScrew peculiar]]]]. Interestingly, the description of what a Hortator is suggests they're usually leaders of armies -- it's just that the specific problems you are faced with are ones better faced by one person or at most a small group (also, [[AsskickingEqualsAuthority at that point]] you are pretty much a OneManArmy).
* The backstory of ''VideoGame/CaveStory''. An ArtifactOfDoom, granting its wearer insane magic powers, resides on an island bristling with dangerous wildlife. Several nations want this artifact, so they send entire squadrons of war robots to retrieve it and kill anything in the way. Meanwhile, some other, unknown party wants to prevent the artifact from falling into the wrong hands--opting for [[ConservationOfNinjutsu quality over quantity]], they send [[BattleCouple a pair of robots]] to destroy the artifact. Said pair of 'bots succeeds (eventually), while the army robots all get destroyed. [[note]]In the Aeon Genesis translation, at least. The Nicalis translation implies the opposite, that Miakid gaining the Crown would have been a ''success'' for the army of killer robots if any of the robots were actually left.[[/note]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}'' games have the Silencer sent in on missions it would normally take an entire team of rebels to pull off. He's not ''entirely'' alone, with fellow Rebels doing troubleshooting from the base or taking out security measures not reachable from the game map, but you get the impression if they hadn't sent him for the meat of the mission they'd have to send at least five or six guys. In the final mission of the first game, he's supposed to command a squad of rebels, but due to complications they don't show up. He of course pulls it off anyway.
* ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'' presents us the sole player character, Ashley Riot, member of the Riskbreakers, Valendia's elite force trained to [[OneManArmy handle high-risk black-ops missions by their lonesome]], thus his suspicions over fellow Riskbreaker Jan Rosencrantz's offer of his assistance. In fact, his credo is...
-->"Reinforcements? I ''am'' the reinforcements."
* ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar II''. The recruiting worlds of the Blood Ravens are under attack from a huge Ork horde. The defenders are Davian Thule, about 5 squads of {{Space Marine}}s and 30 or so raw initiates. They need reinforcements. They get one guy. It's enough.
* The backstory for the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' games explains that {{Power Armor}}ed soldiers weren't just good at fighting the Chinese, but also in subduing riots, with one being enough to pacify a small ''American'' town.
** Likewise, the [[TheFederation NCR]] often takes a One Riot One Ranger approach in its use of its [[EliteMooks NCR Rangers]]. Given that a single Veteran Ranger is one of the toughest humans in the game, barring in-universe {{Memetic Badass}}es like [[TheButcher Lanius]] or [[TheAtoner Joshua Graham]], this is quite justified.
*** Played with and subverted too. While exploring Vault 3, you run into a Ranger sent to kill the fiends there. After killing a few dozen sneaking around, he gets careless and suffers a leg wound from a trap, and while he still gets out fine (albeit with a leg needing treatment), Colonel Hsu will state that sending him alone was a bad idea (and that Rangers succeed often enough to make people forget they're still only human).
*** Rangers are generally divided into three groups: Plainclothes, patrol, and veteran. All three have proven that they are tougher than a deathclaw and more stealthy than a shadow. While still only human, the gap between patrol Rangers and veterans is like the gap between a rocket launcher and a tactical nuke (with the caveat that the BadassLongcoat Rangers being tougher to scare than one).
** The player develops this reputation throughout ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'': They may not be Rangers, and they may not ''technically'' be associated with any particular group, but that doesn't mean that people won't recognize the Courier's BadAss status. Develop a high enough reputation with a particular group (especially the NCR), and rather than offering your services for hire, they'll beg you to help them out with their problems.
** Ulysses, being a counterpart to the Courier, does a great many things on his own in his service to Ceasar's Legion as the best of his Frumentarii. Without giving away too much of the plot, lets just say that a big chunk of the plot elements are the Courier ''reacting'' to the events that Ulysses set in motion.
* The first mission in ''VideoGame/DeusEx''. NSF terrorists have raided and set up a command post on Liberty Island, the location of UNATCO Headquarters. There are UNATCO troops and security bots on the island, but they are ordered to pull back and let the protagonist, JC Denton, handle the situation as a test of his abilities.
* In each game of the ''VideoGame/TimeCrisis'' series, one or two (for co-op play) agents with pistols are sent to fight wave after wave of terrorists and solve whatever [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin time-sensitive crisis]] is threatening the world that week. Of special note is the first game, where Richard Miller is said to be the only agent with no partner due to no one else able to perform at his level.
* The 1995 SpaceFighter [[SimulationGame sim]] ''Star Rangers'' refers to this trope by name in the manual when discussing the proud history of the eponymous organization. As a Star Ranger, the [[SpacePolice representative of law and order on the final frontier]], it is your job to single-handedly battle entire fleets of SpacePirates, including squadrons of fighters and giant capital ships, with your lone small {{starfighter}}, often jumping from one side of the (very large) playing area to another in moments to stop attacks from multiple directions. You can also choose to fly with a single AI-controlled wingmate, however -- but given the state of game AI at the time, they weren't much help.
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne 3'': Good cop Da Silva is GenreSavvy enough to know that the bad guys will pull a HeKnowsTooMuch on him and his family if he digs too deep. Max, on the other hand, can take care of himself, and so the latter gets the job of dealing with them. Favela full of violent GangBangers? Send Max. Derelict hotel defended by paramilitaries? Send Max. Do an AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs on the [[spoiler: {{Dirty Cop}}s]]? Send Max!
* ''VideoGame/Warhammer40000SpaceMarine'': Similar to the literary 40K example above, three Ultramarines are sent to Forge World Graia to stop the Ork invasion, or at least slow it down long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Then the Forces of Chaos show up with [[EvilCounterpart Chaos Space Marines]] in tow.
** While it's played straight in gameplay, it's averted in the story; there's [[BadassArmy an entire strike cruiser full of Ultramarines]] trying to land, and a second force of [[VideoGame/DawnOfWar Blood Ravens]] shows up to help out as well. [[TheHero Captain Titus]] is simply the point man, operating ahead of his company.
* ''VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown'': The "Lone Wolf" achievement, earned by clearing a UFO Crash Site using [[OneManArmy a single soldier]], on either Classic or [[HarderThanHard Impossible]] difficulty levels.
* In the ''Franchise/StarWars VideoGame/DarkForcesSaga'', Kyle Katarn, and later Jaden Korr, will almost always be sent in alone to deal with whatever is threatening the Rebel Alliance/New Republic.
** One mission in ''Jedi Academy'' invokes this, with [[ComicBook/XWingSeries Wedge Antilles]] deliberately devising a plan for a single ground soldier, with Wedge giving fighter/bomber support, to single-handedly take over an Imperial tibanna gas platform. Naturally, that single ground soldier needs to be a Jedi.
** Four thousand years previously, in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'', the player character of the first game is sent out in a stolen freighter with a handful of allies because you are the only one with both leadership skills and knowledge of where the Star Maps are [[spoiler:because you're the BigBad's former boss, only amnesiac]], and sending the Republic fleet is not viable because a) the BigBad's fleet is still flying around blowing things up, and b) several of the locations - especially Korriban and Manaan - are not viable targets due to things like Sith academies or being steadfastly neutral producers of medical supplies. Of course, in the Dark Side ending, this backfires ''badly'' on the Republic.
* B.J. Blazkowicz is generally this in all his missions in ''VideoGame/Wolfenstein3D'' and ''VideoGame/ReturnToCastleWolfenstein''. In ''VideoGame/{{Wolfenstein}}'', he ranges between this and ItsUpToYou in situations where the Kreisau Circle is fighting alongside him.
* In the ResidentEvil-verse, one or two agents with occasional air support is considered an appropriate response to anything less than a country-sized biohazard. It isn't until 2009, chronologically, that we see the B.S.A.A. even has six-man teams. There is some justification that sending more, less-well-prepared soldiers against zombies just makes more zombies, and that the agents are usually there to investigate and possibly help survivors before the area is sanitized.
* A literal example in ''VideoGame/{{Metro2033}}''; when Exhibition Station is under attack by the Dark Ones, the Order sends one Ranger-- Hunter-- to deal with it. Justified because the Order is a very small fighting force, numbering only about a hundred or so, and Moscow is the biggest city in Europe. Naturally, they can only muster small squads for big threats, or single operatives if an outlying station like Exhibition needs help.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/BuzzLightyearOfStarCommand'', the good guys are given the choice between a mass assault vs. sending in one ship with only a few people. The latter is ultimately chosen, on the reasoning that it would be more stealthy.
* This trope was the promotional {{Tagline}} for ''WesternAnimation/{{Bravestarr}}''.
** Occasionally applied to one of its SpaceWestern brothers, too. Some ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' episodes only had a single one of the main characters present (the Supertrooper duology, featuring TheLancer Shane Gooseman, are the most prominent examples), and were usually split into teams of two.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In 414BC the city-state of Syracuse (on Sicily) was getting monstered by an Athenian invasion force of about 7,300 soldiers and 134 warships. Syracuse appealed for help to Sparta, which sent one man: Gylippus. The Athenians sent another 5,000 troops and seventy ships. Gylippus won. Not a single member of the Athenian force escaped alive.
** To be exact, Gylippus was ''the general'' sent to lead the resistance.
* T.E. Lawrence, a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia. The British government wanted to create a civil war in Turkey's Arabian provinces. He was originally intended to fulfill a diplomatic role and not actually involve himself in the conflict directly. When he started doing so with some success, the British sort of just [[ThrowItIn went with it]].
* The slogan for the Texas Rangers, as noted in the TV section entry for Walker, Texas Ranger up above.
** Makes a bit more sense when you think about the fact that the Texas Rangers are more like a state-level FBI rather than a state-wide police department (in Texas, that'd be the Highway Patrol). They're not supposed to send in a whole big force. They do the investigating and coordinating with different police departments, and when they need a whole bunch of manpower, they get it from the Highway Patrol or local police and sheriff's departments.
** Interestingly though, as the other wiki's article details, in the actual trope-naming incident it was pretty well averted, with other Texas Ranger captains '''and''' the Adjutant General present, though many of them may have come originally with the intention of being spectators at the bout, not keeping the peace when it was stopped.
* The Mounties (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) have a similar reputation. Their original name was the Northwest Mounted Police, and they were given responsibility of just about everything north and west of Ontario. When the Yukon gold rush occurred, the NWMP made sure is was the most orderly and civilized gold rush ever seen, especially when contrasted against the California gold rush a few decades before. The Mounties today service as the federal police investigation branch (similar to the FBI), and are considered polite, professional, elite, dedicated, and ''[[GoodIsNotSoft fearsome if crossed]]''.
* Commando raids were conceived with this trope in mind (although they usually involve a team rather than literally using one "ranger"); send in a small force to go in quietly, carry out a specific objective (e.g. sabotage, assassination, rescue a person of importance, gather intelligence, etc) and then leave ([[SuicideMission optional]]).
** It is also notable that in reality, while commando raids are good for the morale of one's own forces, they are never the war winning element that they are in fiction. Major wars are won by major battles, not commandos. At most commandos can try to give one side or the other an edge in critical situations.
*** For instance Allied commando missions that damaged the Nazi nuclear weapon program ultimately made zero difference, as the Germans' under-resourced programs were ''far'' from producing anything resembling even a simple dirty-bomb.
*** At the same time Soviet commando missions that shut down much of the Belarussian railway network and roads prevented the Nazis from reinforcing their Army Group Centre quickly enough to prevent their forward elements from being destroyed by the Red Army. The Nazi reinforcements were then annihilated in turn. In the end Soviet commandos indirectly wiped out all but a handful of the 500,000 combat-troops of the Army Group Centre.
** The above falls in line with the idea of "economy of force," which is a general military principle that tells you essentially to have no more Rangers than you really need for the Riot. Certainly, sometimes ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill, but using many more soldiers than you really need for a campaign or commando operation is wasteful, since those soldiers are not doing a job that they potentially could be doing elsewhere[[note]]Though of course, one's field-commanders will almost always aim for overwhelming (numerical) superiority at the point of contact/in-battle to minimise their (tactical) losses[[/note]].
* UsefulNotes/LeoMajor. After singlehandedly liberating Zwolle, he was sought after when the UsefulNotes/KoreanWar broke out, and he and twenty-two soldiers were sent in to recon Chinese positions, and held off two entire divisions when US forces in the sector were forced to withdraw.
* Charles Gordon, the popular ex-Governor of Sudan, was sent with a few Egyptian staff officers to organize the withdrawal of Anglo-Egyptian soldiers (and civilians) from Sudan during Main/TheRiverWar. This backfired spectacularly when Gordon refused to evacuate Khartoum, was besieged by the Mahdi and the British government was humiliated into organizing a relief expedition - [[TheCavalryArrivesLate which failed to save Gordon]].
[[/folder]]
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