Support Party Member
In a group of people with various superpowers, this is the one teammate with no offensive powers. Teamed with An Ice Person, a Flying Brick, and someone with Heat Vision, he'll be the one with telepathy or Healing Hands. His power, if useable at all in combat, are purely defensive. Unlike What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?, that does not necessarily make him useless, as he may be the only one capable of advancing the plot and his powers may have the most Mundane Utility. After all, beating the bad guy is good an all, but you need to know who the bad guy is, and find and reach him first. Because of their lack of firepower, it's not rare for that teammate to be skilled in martial arts, or fall back on superior weaponry. Similarly, some may find offensive use for their powers by thinking outside the box. Very often The Chick or The Smart Guy is likely to have this in a Five-Man Band. See also White Mage, The Medic, and Combat Medic. In Videogames, the White Magician Girl is often this.
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- The Lyrical Nanoha series revels in this trope:
- The original series had Yuuno supporting Nanoha's firepower with shields, healing, and binding spells. Fate's Arf would be this but she also packed quite a bit of a punch.
- In A's, Shamal (and, to a lesser degree, Zafira) was this to the Wolkenritter, while Yuuno reprised his role for Team Nanoha.
- In StrikerS, this was the official duty of Caro for Lightning Team. Ditto Teana for the StarS team, though she was mainly "shoot anyone who tries to flank the fighters" kind of support. Also, at least one third of the Numbers were supporting types (especially Otto).
- Multiple members of the main Ala Alba group in Mahou Sensei Negima! don't actually have any combat powers and a few who do aren't actually part of the group for that reason. For example, Nodoka and Asakura have two different forms of spying artifacts while Yue is a mage, but mostly valuable because of how methodical and prepared her personality is on top of having an artifact that can teach her anything about magic or magical society, even classified information, so long as she knows what she's looking for.
- Darker Than Black: Mao and Yin can count as that in Hei's team, as they both provide survey. In November 11's team July provides survey; April, while her power has good offensive purposes, she supports November by summoning rain he can freeze, since it's much more effective that way.
- Borderline example: Sailor Mercury in the first season of Sailor Moon. Her "bubble spray" attack was used to stun and disorient enemies, and her only other power was an Everything Sensor visor. She finally got some offensive attacks in the later seasons. She has attacks, but they are entirely non lethal, compared to her teammates'.
- Lampshaded in Puni Puni Poemi: When the Aasu sisters try to defeat the Humongous Mecha that's destroying the city, they quickly realize that all seven of them are Support Party Members with no offensive powers.
- Futari wa Pretty Cure MaX Heart has the new heroine, Shiny Luminous, whose powers revolve entirely around hampering enemies and enhancing Cure Black and Cure White's attacks. Despite having Super Strength like all other main characters in the whole franchise, Luminous never throw punches or kicks.
- In Digimon Frontier, Takuya and Koji's final power-up is created by borrowing the powers of the others, and is soon needed in any serious fight, so the rest of the gang goes from actually fighting to simply powering up the two who have enough power to matter. This doesn't mean they're not just as active as before outside of combat, though.
- Fantastic Four, especially before Sue Storm Took a Level in Badass. All of the males on the team have powers with direct offensive use. Originally all Sue had was the ability to turn invisible. Later she gain forcefield projection (still an example of this trope), and even later she learned to use those offensively, making her in a certain irony the strongest and most versatile member of the team.
- Several members of the X-Men. Forge, for example, is a technopath. Shadowcat can phase through solid matter. Cipher (not to be confused with Cypher, who is Back from the Dead now) can turn invisible. Gateway can open portals for the team.
- Subverted with Professor Xavier of course, who is a telepath AND in a wheelchair. So you'd expect him to be spectacularly useless in a fight. Except he can mind control you, screw with your brain and perceptions, and do all sorts of things to your mind. In fact, many early issues basically had the X-Men holding back the enemy long enough for Xavier to arrive. Once he was there, he could simply order the enemy to forget whatever he was doing.
- Several members of the Justice League of America, Like The Atom (who can shrink).
- The Guardian Project's heroes are all based on NHL teams. The Montreal Canadien's power is... magnifying the powers of the other Guardians.
- This is Hurdy's role in The Tainted Grimoire. He would like to be more than this though so he is taking steps in that direction.
- In the Discworld fics of AA Pessimal, Matron Igorina is the noncombatant medical support for the Assassins' Guild School. She gets lots of job satisfaction by working for certifiably sane (if professionally sociopathic) employers who sustain lots of professionally interesting injuries. She is often to be seen inobtrusively accompanying Licenced Assassins on missions where collateral damage to people (other than the client) can be repaired.
- A rather sad example: Jadrek in Vows and Honor wanted to be this, and studied hard to be a good enough loremaster to be useful, but was crippled by rheumatism at a young age and wound up as Rethwellan's librarian. Once the plot shows up, he ends up being a supporting loremaster anyway.
Live Action Television
- In Power Rangers RPM, All the 5 core rangers have a special power given by their suits. Red can cause energy bursts, Blue can manipulate time, Yellow can also shoot energy (and read energy patterns), Green can teleport. Black, however, can give himself a few seconds of invulnerability, a purely defensive power. In breaking the mold, he's also The Big Guy.
- Phoebe from the earlier seasons of Charmed is another example who in the beginning could only receive premonitions so she learns martial arts to defend herself. Her Sister Prue had telekinesis and astral projection. Her sister Piper could freeze things and make things spontaneously combust.
- Micah Sanders of Heroes is a technopath.
- The Healer base class from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. They work fine patching everyone up after a fight, but are almost completely useless during one.
- The Wizard in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 could do this. He could only memorize a very small selection of spells every day, but had access to a nearly endless choice. So it was entirely doable to not memorize any combat spell, and instead pick spells that buffed, or did all sorts of utilitarian uses like creating houses for the party to sleep in.
- Similarly the Bard, who has almost no attack spells, and whose songs are buffs
- Ditto the Artificer, who can make and mod magical items out of combat, but during a fight almost entirely depends on his sub-par combat skills unless he's really good at preparing for fights.
- A Smart or Charismatic Hero in D20 Modern. The former is an expert in all technical tasks, and can also make a plan prior to a dramatic encounter, granting a bonus up to +3 to attack rolls and skill checks for 3 rounds. The latter is the party negotiator, and can inspire his allies, granting them a +3 Morale bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves for up to 6 rounds. These abilities stack.
- In an Urban Arcana setting, the smart hero can become a techno mage, but when it comes to damage, Muggles Do It Better. So a smart techno mage will take a lots of buffs.
- In an Agents of PSI settings (and even in Urban Arcana, depending on the GM), Charismatic heroes can become Telepaths, who are psionicists with lots of buffs and debuffs.
- In Shadowrun this can be the fate of many Hackers and Facemen, as their skills are best used for the mission outside of combat, where they are amongst the most useful party members. In a fight, they will pale compared to Street Samurais, Adepts and Mages.
- Normally, having a gun that shoots rocket propelled exploding cartridges would send one straight into Combat Medic, but in the Crap Sack World of Warhammer 40,000, the Apothecary of Space Marine armies is taken for his ability to help comrades resist wounds. Likewise, the Imperial Guard army features special support personnel who can direct artillery from support units far away (IE: not actually in the game), coordinating "off-screen" fleet defenses, or even serve as psychic telephones. Inquisitional retinues include quite a few characters whose combat ability is a joke, but whose support ability varies from completely useless to almost useful. The Tau Empire features a priest class leader who in theory buffs the army's morale, but in practice is a high liability as his death causes most of the army to consider fleeing.
- A few of the characters in Arkham Horror are support characters: Minh, who gives boosts to all skill checks if she's with another investigator; Mandie, who lets anyone re-roll a skill check; and Patrice, who lets others spend her Clue Tokens.
- Because of how the Guild Wars skill and attribute system works, party members often specialize into specific roles, including support roles. The most common is probably monks or ritualists taking only healing and protection related skills.
- Most MMO's force players to specialize like that for harder content. Even tanks can be very ineffective fighters, though they don't fare nearly as badly as dedicated healers or or buffers can.
- Final Fantasy makes regular use of this trope: The white mage class in general is this. They only ever get Holy (their only attack spell) at very high level. Same for the bard, when present, who only provides buffs for the party members. As such, characters of these classes are examples of this.
- Minwu of Final Fantasy II
- Edward, Porom and Rosa of Final Fantasy IV
- Garnet (Before she got her summons) of Final Fantasy IX
- Yuna of Final Fantasy Xnote .
- Some other classes of Final Fantasy Tactics count too, like the Chemist and Orator.
- The Final Fantasy X-2 version of the White Mage class deserves mention because it has virtually no offensive options beyond the high-level Holy Hand Grenade — it doesn't even have a "Fight" command.
- The Cleric classes from Ogre Battle act as this, only healing the party. This in turn makes them some of the most valuable troops to have.
- They do have one other notable ability, though: they can instantly nuke almost any undead opponent, presumably because Revive Kills Zombie.
- Ninten from MOTHER 1 is unique to the series as a whole as he is the only character with PSI abilities that has no offensive PSI moves at all. Both Ness and Lucas from later games in the series have most of the same moves of Ninten but it is coupled with a powerful offensive PSI move PK Rockin' and PK Love respectfully. He has a powerful physical attack and good defense to compensate.
- Team Fortress 2 has the "Support" Classes, although they can fight, just not as well as the Attack and Defensive classes. The one which fits this trope best is The Medic, who focuses on healing, but the Sniper and Spy are effective for discretely taking out specific targets and breaking the enemy's ranks.
- In general, most players think of "Support" classes as the Medic, Pyro, and Engineer, the Medic being a source for healing, and buffs of all kinds, the Engineer's buildings act as a forward base, with quick resupplies as well as bringing people straight to the front lines with his teleporter, and the Pyro acting as both a Spy deterent, and knocking the enemy around (even when they're Invincible).
- Accordion Thieves from Kingdom of Loathing are this, being bards with a slightly different flavor. They have no combat skills, only buffs. And they can only have three of their buffs running at a time. And it's a single player game. Needless to say, they are not a very popular class.
- Support characters are an important part of the League of Legends Metagame. They are typically paired up with your team's AD Carry, either protecting them or feeding them kills until they can become the late-game powerhouses they are meant to be.
- Most of the time, Supports play typically like you'd expect defensive characters to play. They sit back, keep their laning partner alive, leave all the minions for the partner to kill for gold an experience, and generally sit back and wait for the enemy to attack first in order to counter the attack. A lot of times, however, Supports can take an active and aggressive role in the laning phase of the game. Champions such as Blitzcrank, Leona, and Thresh thrive on initiating and fighting while waiting for the others on your team to show up and finish off the enemy victims.
- The entire Support class in XCOM: Enemy Unknown: with lower defenses and damage output than the other three classes, they are nonetheless critical to victory thanks to their abilities to heal other squad members and deploy smoke screens.
- A codified element of modern Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games. Typically, the game begins with a Party Member who is strictly Mission Control (Mitsuru Kirji in Persona 3 and Teddie in Persona 4). Part of the way through the game, this party member is upgraded to combatant status, and a dedicated Support Party Member takes their place. In 3, you had Fuuka Yamagishi, who had a more efficient Enemy Scan and several passive support skills that could help improve HP regeneration and dungeon exploration. 4 had Rise Kujikawa, who initially functioned identically to Fuuka. In Persona 4 Golden, Rise was upgraded to have more active (albeit randomized) combat skills, including the ability to No Sell attacks on the entire party. By Persona Q Shadows Of The Labyrinth, both Fuuka and Rise were upgraded to have skills you could select mid-combat, with Fuuka focusing mostly on healing and status relief, and Rise focusing on more efficient combat and tactics.
- In Pokémon, Shuckle is all over this. It has amazing Defense and Special Defense, but absolutely crap Hitpoints, Attack, Special Attack, and Speed. However, several moves it can learn remedy this. They are:
- Guard Split. Build up an ally Pokemon's Defense by averaging it with your own (massive) Defense!
- Power Split. Tear down an enemy Pokemon's Attack stat by averaging it with your own (abysmal) Attack! Has the added bonus of making your Attack stat not so bad any more.
- Shell Smash. Lower your own Defense to give yourself a large boost to your Attack, Special Attack, and Speed!
- Helping Hand. Use your own turn to give an ally increased power!
- Safeguard. Block all Status Effects from touching you or your allies!
- There are also some Pokémon who, simply put, are not meant to inflict huge damage on your opponents, but rather, make sure your other Pokémon can do the job that much better. The most obvious case is Alomomola, who has the Abilities Regenerator, Healer, and Hydration and the moves Helping Hand, Wide Guard, Wish, Healing Wish, and Heal Pulse. However, there are also Carbink, who can put up defensive screens and the game-changing Trick Room; Florges, who greatly boosts Grass-type partners' effectiveness and can give other Pokémon its Hold Item; and Beheeyem, who learns a lot of moves that restrict opposing Pokémon's options and, through Telepathy, is immune to its own partners' Splash Damage. That being said, these are best applied in double and triple battles.
- Male Meowstic and Klefki can come with the Prankster ability (Action Initiative for non-attacking moves) and a good amount of said non-attacking moves to support the team (Light Screen/Reflect, Rain Dance/Sunny Day, Quick Guard for Meowstic and Spikes for Klefki, etc).
- The Engi and Zoltan crew in FTL: Faster Than Light. Engi deal lower damage and Zoltan have reduced health, making both a bad choice for direct fights. However, the former repairs ships faster due to their mechanical expertise while the latter provides extra bar of energy to the room they're in thanks to being Energy Beings, making both great at ship support during a battle.
- In Heroes of the Storm has Support class heroes that fill this role. Lili and Uther in particular are Combat Medic's. Lili focuses on healing allies and summoning minions to aid in combat. Uther is a bit more offensive, his abilities can both heal allies and damage enemies, with some being able to stun enemies for a second.
- In Yu Gi Oh Capsule Monster Coliseum, Light-based monsters, such as Happy Lover, tend to be frail but have unique abilities.
- Overwatch has Mercy, her primary role is healing allies, increasing their combat abilities, and resurrecting dead teammates. Her only offensive weapon is an energy pistol.
- In Steven Universe: Attack The Light, Steven doesn't have any attacks, leaving the fighting to Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl. However, he can use his abilities and items to buff, heal and defend the Gems.