"I see you are the surly, temperamental one who instigates, Wolverine. You cannot be the leader, then."The Foil for a hero of the closely allied variety. In general, the Lancer will often form one half of a Red Oni, Blue Oni contrasting duo with the main character. While they may butt heads with The Leader, they're usually Vitriolic Best Buds by the end of it all. Traits common to the Lancer include:
— Azazel, The Uncanny X-Men
- Being The Hero's primary foil. Typically in some form of Red Oni, Blue Oni. Their force of personality makes them a partner or Friendly Rival of relatively equal footing when paired up with The Leader, rather than a Sidekick who is more of a helpful assistant.
- If they're also Number Two, they fill in the gaps in the hero's leadership style. If the hero is charismatic, they may be a mastermind. If the hero is levelheaded, they may be headstrong.
- Being the instigator and voice of dissent. The least likely to be a team player. They're the one who sneaks off on their own to advance the team's goals in the way they think is best. Often a Grumpy Bear. If The Complainer Is Always Wrong and there's a chronic complainer to act as the show's Butt-Monkey, it's likely this guy.
- Having a different mindset in terms of goals, training, or culture. If the team works from a place of passion, the Lancer may be more diligent and thoughtful and vice versa.
- In a military setting, if the Captain is smooth, the Lancer will be Sergeant Rough. Since they're the hero's counterpoint, they may be more willing to employ dirty tricks or venture into moral gray areas. See: Token Evil Teammate. To that end, former bad guys or bad boys in general will become the Lancer on the good guys' side. This might also apply to their true Evil Counterpart (which is The Dragon).
- A contrast to the hero's abilities in a meaningful way. Super Power Lottery vs. Bad Ass Normal, physical strength vs mechanical or spiritual strength, Bare-Fisted Monk vs Hyperspace Arsenal, direct attacks vs sneak attacks and so on.
- Where the hero gets up close with a sword, the Lancer picks opponents off at range with with projectiles and guns, or pole weapons making for a literal lancer. See Short-Range Guy, Long-Range Guy and Guns vs. Swords. If everyone is a ranged fighter then expect the Lancer to be the best shot, or an Ace Pilot.
- If The Hero and the Lancer have Elemental Powers, they will be complementary, like fire vs. ice (or water), light vs. darkness, or something else that makes sense in context.
- However, if the Lancer isn't the opposite of The Hero, they get a similar toolkit but in a contrasting style making a Force and Finesse or Technician Vs Performer duo.
open/close all folders
- Batman fills this role in most incarnations of the Justice League of America. The darker interpretations fall into the Rival/AntiHeroic version of this trope, with Superman as The Hero.
- Nightwing is an example of how the Lancer's traits depend on who The Hero is: when he fills this role for Batman, his empathy, idealism, and approachability are played up as a contrast to Bruce.
- In a hilariously fitting Evil Counterpart, The Joker tends to be the Lancer (or more apropriately, The Dragon) to Lex Luthor on the rare occasions they team up.
- Hawkeye of The Avengers. He tends to chafe under Captain America's leadership, but it's clear how much like Cap he is — he led both his own Avengers franchise and the Thunderbolts for several years.
- Iron Man has also acted as a Lancer to Captain America at times, often being pragmatic in the face of Cap's idealism.
- Wolverine of the X-Men.
- He was also the Lancer for Luke Cage when the latter led the New Avengers.
- Iceman was the Lancer of the original five, with an attitude bigger than Connecticut and a constant bone to pick with The Hero, Cyclops.
- A solid case could be made for Angel as the Lancer of the original five, actually, right down to being a rival for the affections of The Chick. Unlike Iceman, Angel has actually done the leadership thing on occasion.
- Wolverine (and Rogue, under similar circumstances years later) panicked and tried to refuse when ordered into a leadership position (despite proving rather competent in same). Nobody has had the nerve to try that stunt on Iceman. In fact, Wolverine was even slated to lead Alpha Flight when he ran away to join the X-Men instead (he was also in love with the team's eventual leader's red-headed wife.) Then again Logan has taken leadership positions since.
- Moonstone of the Thunderbolts is somewhere between this trope and The Starscream.
- Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow has often played this role against Robin/Nightwing in the Teen Titans (and later the Outsiders).
- Namor is perhaps the MU's resident Freelancer, having filled the role on every team he has ever been in, and simply filling that role for the MU heroes in general.
- Huntress was the Lancer to Black Canary's Hero in Birds of Prey, at least until the Canary left.
- At which point she became the Lancer to Oracle's.
- Deadpool would probably be horrified if he realised, but he ends up being this when he teams up with Cable. Sure, he wouldn't be anyone's first choice for a voice of reason, but no-one else can actually stand up to Cable when he's getting way too into the future mutant messiah thing.
- Skywise from ElfQuest has a great number of complementary traits with his buddy and heroic leader Cutter. A drinker and womanizer, he is more lively and easygoing than Cutter, who naturally bears a keen sense of responsibility for the tribe. Skywise is a studious, curious dreamer, while Cutter prefers to live in the here and now.
- A more likely interpretation is that among the Wolfriders, Strongbow is the lancer and Skywise is the smart guy. Unlike Skywise, Strongbow makes a habit out of disagreeing with Cutter a lot. In the later series, e.g. Shards, Rayek becomes the lancer.
- For the current New Avengers line-up Hawkeye/Ronin seems to be The lancer for Captain America (Bucky).
- Actually, it's the other way around.
- In Young Avengers, Kate/Hawkeye is the Lancer to Eli/Patriot. They butt heads near-constantly (though that might just be them flirting), but Kate genuinely believes Eli is the only one who can actually lead the team.
- Donald Duck fills this role nicely for Scrooge in the Don Rosa Uncle Scrooge comics, serving as a practical, pessimistic Foil for the overly-eager treasure hunter, ever ready with either a complaint or a snarky observation.
- In Sin City, Dwight has had two lancers over the course of the series. In the story A Dame To Kill For, he employs the help of Sociopathic Hero, Marv. Later in the same story and subsequent stories after that, his lancer is Action Girl, Miho. Both lancers are extremely loyal to Dwight but are also far more violent, causing him to be unsettled more than once by their brutality.
- Woody plays this role against his friend Eric in Quantum and Woody.
- In Runaways Nico was originally this to Alex. These days Gert, Victor, and Chase have all been known to alternate the role amongst themselves.
- In The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes, as The Hero, has gone through FOUR lancers:
- Shane Walsh, his old police partner and the most short-lived of his lancers.
- Tyreese, whom many speculated would actually become the main character before his own death, which shocked many readers.
- Abraham Ford, who served a dual role as The Big Guy.
- Paul Monroe is Rick's current lancer and has had much better luck filling the role. He also serves as one for Maggie after she becomes leader of the Hilltop.
- Michonne can also be considered Rick's lancer, at one point being explicitly identified as Rick's right-hand woman.
- As can Andrea, Rick's trusty sharpshooter and eventual Second Love.
- Douglas Pope from Circles is the Lancer to his husband Paulie. While Paulie is a kind and caring leader, Doug can come off as brash and aloof if you get on his bad side.
- Crimson had Joe, a wacky Mexican-Indian vampire to The Chosen One vampire hero Alex Elder. Whereas Alex resists drinking blood at every turn, Joe is a Fully-Embraced Fiend who loves being a vampire and targets only criminals for lunch. Joe becomes a valuable ally and his best friend despite these differences.
- Mortality: Davy Wiggins, to Watson, though, ironically, Watson is the one who who is the designated fighter since he killed a captured criminal and Smith. Understandable, he was very furious at those idiots for messing with his friend. You don't want to mess with him. Heck, like his counterpart this gentle soul WILL end your life-and show no mercy about doing so, if you mess with a detective. And to make matters worse? He'll use his medical skills in a VERY merciless way. Basically, for a doctor, he's MERCILESS with you if you really get him SO PISSED OFF by messing with his friend.
- Chaos from the Tamers Forever Series. An interesting example, as he is a split personality of The Hero Takato. He is essentially Takato's equal and opposite. They posses the same skills, but Chaos is ruthless where Takato is compassionate.
- Ciara to Link in Looming Darkness.
- Hobbes takes on this role in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
- Dub in A Posse Ad Esse.
- Lightning Bolt in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War fulfills this role toward Firefly.
- Lind is this to Jago and the Archs in Ah! Archfall! Not only is she his lover but she is the only one who can match his Papa Jupiter form in combat.
- Aigis gets one in Midori come The Answer Arc of Seven Days Survivor, thanks to their contrasting personalities, and Midori's support through The Power of Friendship.
- Azazel from Aesir: Cross Wars is this to Azrael. He is the Hot-Blooded Number Two for Brains with Fire, Earth, and Darkness powers, to contrast Azrael's Mellow Fellow Badass Bookworm with Lightning, Ice, and Light powers. They're also a case of Polar Opposite Twins, Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling, and an inversion of Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick.
Films — Animated
- Timon from The Lion King. To a quite hilarious extent.
- Toy Story: Buzz Lightyear is Woody's Lancer in Toy Story 2 and 3, after their rivalry is settled in the first film. He fits the definition so well it's almost scary. He begins as a rival to The Hero, has a similar design (law enforcing hero of a television show's toyline with a voice clip feature), acts as the team leader when Woody is away, ends up Brainwashed and Crazy in the service of the Big Bad for a while, and as is made obvious during said Brainwashed and Crazy time he's the most combat-skilled and dangerous of the cast.
- In How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid eventually becomes Hiccup's Lancer, with her energetic ferocity and physical nature contrasting against Hiccup's more quieter and intellectual manner. They initially are at odds first with Hiccup's goofing up at dragon training and then when he completely upstages her with his newfound knowledge of dragons giving him a overwhelming advantage. Eventually, she finds out his secret and Hiccup and Toothless win her over. From then on, she is not just in growing love with Hiccup, but is glad to be the muscle to Hiccup's brains both on the job and in their relationship.
Films — Live-Action
- Pictured above: Han Solo in Star Wars. "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."
- The Prequels have Obi-Wan to Qui-Gon in Episode I and then Anakin to Obi-Wan in Episodes II and III.
- Being a loose film adaptation of the same original story, Lancelot fits this trope to a T in King Arthur.
- Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean seem to take turns playing The Hero and the Lancer. They switch sides and betray each other so frequently it can be hard to keep track of who's on which "team" and who's just out for their own ends. The only person who seems to consistently fulfill this role is Joshamee Gibbs, as the Lancer to Jack Sparrow.
- Rusty Ryan to Danny Ocean in the Ocean's Eleven movies.
- The WWII biopic Patton depicts a "lancer reversal" between American generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley. At first Bradley is Patton's lancer when Patton is made commander of the II Corps in North Africa and Bradley his deputy. Then after the invasion of Sicily, Patton is reprimanded for slapping a shellshocked soldier and Bradley is promoted over him. Bradley commands the U.S. 1st Army during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Meanwhile Patton was used to decoy the Germans into thinking the invasion would be at Calais. Patton becomes Bradley's lancer when he gives Patton command of the Third Army to implement "Operation Cobra", the Allied plan to breakout of the Normandy beachhead.
- Snowman is this to The Bandit, hauling the all important cargo and occasionally saving the Bandit when the cops decide to get serious.
- Arthur, the Point-Man, is the sensible and cool-head Lancer to the dark and troubled Cobb in Inception.
- Bucky to Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger.
- Sam Wilson aka "The Falcon" becomes Cap's new lancer in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- Iron Man to Cap in The Avengers. Out of the whole Dysfunction Junction, they have the most personality conflict for any number of reasons (idealist vs. cynic, reluctant soldier vs. ex-weapons maker), but still end up working well together. Hawkeye, by contrast, is the Sixth Ranger who only really opens up around Black Widow.
- Gene Hackman is the lancer to a by-the-book Wilhem Defoe in Mississippi Burning.
- In Mr Saturday Night, Stan had the makings and ambitions to be a comedian but his brother Buddy Young had the guts to go and perform, so Stan becomes the more grounded manager to egotistical Buddy.
- In The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya fulfills this role rather well to the Man In Black/Westley. At first he is arrogant and apprehensive of Westley's skills, but eventually goes on to be a faithful right-hand man and gains a deep-set respect for his skills to the extent that he believes that Westley is capable of anything (which essentially turns out to be the case).
- Sam French is the Lancer to Jake Wyer, The Hero, in Fifty/Fifty.
- Subotai from the Conan the Barbarian (1982) film. He teaches Conan how to be a thief, saves him from the Tree of Woe, and stands by his side during the Battle of the Mounds.
- Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit:
- Legolas and Boromir both fill this for Aragorn.
- Sam fills this for Frodo.
- Balin fills this for Thorin.
- In Seven Psychopaths, Billy fits the role of the Lancer to Marty. Marty and Billy are almost perfect foils for eachother, since they have different opinions on Marty's alcoholism, Marty's girlfriends, and lifestyle. Marty has the Badass power (Billy says that Marty is the "best writer of his generation"), and Billy dies for the cause.
- Ripcord from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
- Flint from G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
- Steven Prince from The World's End. Despite being friends, he's a bit of a rival to Gary.
- Hugh Mercer to George Washington in The Crossing. He's Washington's Number Two and best friend and is more cautious, skeptical, and even-tempered.
- Pete to Teddy in Neighbors.
- Al Giardino in Sahara
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse has a tribe originally made up of Lancers: The Shadowlords. In former times, their task was to act as the Beta of packs and did what the Alpha couldn't be seen to do. Unfortunately, more and more of them feel that the Silverfangs are no longer up to the task of leading...
- This trope can be found in the makeup of any Dungeons & Dragons party due to the variety of roles that need to be performed in a campaign. The Hero of this group will generally be the one who is the obvious leader of the group, whether by being a great warrior or diplomat. Conversely, the Lancer will probably be the Leader's opposite, being the team's negotiator in the former case or being the taciturn combat leader in the latter.
- Hamlet: Horatio.
- Orestes: Pylades acts in this capacity to his friend Orestes, in Euripides' play.
- Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio is Romeo's right-hand man and best friend. He even goes so far as fighting and losing a duel in his name.
- Casio, in Shakespeare's Othello. Casio is Othello's faithful lieutenant. He is a good friend to his general, but has a weakness for drink and women.
- Tower of God: Koon Agero Agnis, the brains, and in a literal sense Rak Wraithraiser, the brawn (and The Heart), choose to climb the Tower with Baam, one to find his lost self, the other because Baam happens to own a really Cool Sword he wants to compete against.
- Humorously enough, the author of Cwen's Quest was unaware of this particular trope when he named his character Riddly Lancer. Fits the bill too, well actually only up to the third sentence of the description that is... but Cwen is definitely the leader between the two characters.
- Haley Starshine from The Order of the Stick starts out as a flighty, greedy foil to her leader, who's big on duty. She grows into a genuine second-in-command who can check his thinking when it comes to subterfuge.
- In Sluggy Freelance, while Torg usually takes center stage and, in his "unique" way, come up with a solution to the big problems, Riff is usually there as well, ready to solve things his own way. Which usually involves laser weapons, giant robots, and blowing stuff up.
- Dave Strider of Homestuck has taken this on this role voluntarily, at least for the human team. He's John's best friend, and is the badass katana-wielding time-travelling stoic Deadpan Snarker to John's Idiot Hero/ All-Loving Hero. Despite the fact he's probably the most all-round skilled of the human players, was the first to fully assume the mythological responsibilities placed upon him (as the Knight of Time), and proceeded through the game significantly faster than John (until the latter Came Back Strong anyway), he resigned himself to a supporting role out of feelings of inadequacy and the inability to face his own mortality.
TG: im not a heroTG: my bro wasTG: john isTG: im not
- Giancarlo of Ronin Galaxy plays lancer to Cecil. Giancarlo is his foil to the point of talking morality when he doesn't, and tells him to drop it when he does.
- Theo from Gold Coin Comics, who is also The Spock.
- Alexander Hamilton from The Dreamer is definitely the Lancer.
- Susan of El Goonish Shive is Tedd's foil.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Jean is Bob's lancer. Where Bob is absurdly mellow in most situations, Jean is a Mood-Swinger with a host of berserk buttons. She's also a good deal more educated and intellectual than he is.
- Guenevere in Arthur, King of Time and Space. Not Lancelot, who is Arthur's right-hand man but doesn't really act as a foil, whereas Guenevere's outspokenness contrasts neatly with the more easy-going Arthur.
- Tyler Dawn fills this role in morphE. Tyler lacks Billy's intellect and charisma but is on his level in terms of skill with magic and shows signs he may overtake him in future chapters.
- The Chief , from Arby 'n' the Chief counts as this to the The Arbiter. During their various adventures of both regular Halo games and Serious Business, The Arbiter is clearly the only skilled one of the duo. Their opponents would often only die to The Chief just from how utterly unpredictable he tends to be, both ingame and out. Beyond season 6 however, his actual skills grow a bit, but his main advantage is still his Confusion Fu.
- Wyn from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes.
- Star Whistle from Dusk's Dawn, as she's a major plot point in the first half and is the last pony standing when fighting the Evil Twin.
- Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O'Neal from their generation of the LA Lakers. The seasoned Shaq was The Big Guy and the captain, while the rambunctious Kobe was the rookie. Their relationship was frequently punctuated by feuds played out in the press. Now that Shaq retired, Kobe's become the face of the Lakers, with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum sharing the role of the Lancer.
- When they were both on the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen was seen as a lancer for Michael Jordan.
- Russell Westbrook, the cocky Red Oni, to Kevin Durant, the collected Blue Oni. Unlike Kobe and Shaq, Durant and Westbrook are Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Dwyane Wade to LeBron James in the Miami Heat. James is the theatric champion on the court; Wade is the leader and the face of the team.
- The Chicago Blackhawks are led by young superstars Jonathan Toews, nicknamed "Captain Serious", and Patrick Kane, who does not exactly carry the same reputation.
- Alex Rodriguez to Derek Jeter after he joined the New York Yankees.
- Bobby Bonilla to Barry Bonds, during the competitive 90s Pittsburgh Pirates, before their downward spiral to becoming one of the worst teams in over a decade. Bobby Bonilla would go with coach Jim Leland and win a world series with him on the Florida Marlins. Barry Bonds would go to the San Francisco Giants and put up great career numbers. But he would never win a World Series and then you have the steroids accusations.
- Formula 1 team Ferrari has been using this, with Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barichello and Felipe Massa playing the lancer to Michael Schumacher. Massa continued as the lancer for Fernando Alonso. Will probably be subverted in the 2014 season with Alonso being paired with Kimi Raikkonen. This trope is also evident in the Red Bull team with Sebastian Vettel being paired with Mark Webber and now Daniel Riccardo.
- The Who is an interesting example. Pete Townsend was the band's artistic leader, but was also violent and dealt with depression. He wasn't the band's frontman, though. He left that up to "second-in-command", Roger Daltrey who was more reserved in comparison and often served as the more mature member of the group.
- The Beatles are another interesting variation: John Lennon started out as The Hero, with Paul McCartney as the Lancer. And as time went on, they switched.
- The Rolling Stones has Keith Richards as The Lancer to Mick Jagger.
- Beanie Sigel, during the early 2000s, was The Lancer to Jay-Z. It didn't work out in the end.
- Speaking of Jay-Z, Kanye West is his Lancer on Watch the Throne.
- In West's own crew, GOOD Music, Pusha T is the Lancer to West's hero.
- Ace Pilot Staff Sergeant Nils Katajainen (36 kills) to Captain Hans Wind (78 kills) in the Finnish Air Force in WWII. They usually flew as a pair. Both were awarded the Mannerheim Cross, roughly the Finnish equivalent of Victoria Cross or Congressional Medal of Honor.
- Michael Vick to Donovan McNabb in the Philadelphia Eagles. McNabb was the calm, collected quarterback leader with a passion for the sport, while Vick was the "bad-boy" second-in-command who was in legal troubles, especially with the dog-fighting.
- Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton served as George Washington's Number Two during the Revolutionary War and Washington's time as president. While Washington was stoic, deliberative, and against bare knuckle politics, Hamilton was brash, quick witted, and famously one of the most vicious political fighters of his generation. This proved useful to Washington, who relied on Hamilton's intricate thinking and writing skills to serve as his Army chief of staff and most trusted secretary, much to the annoyance of others on Washington's staff.
- Likewise Rahm Emanuel. A dirty, armtwisting guy from Chicago, who was once a senior advisor to Bill Clinton, as he was to Barack Obama. Did you know he studied ballet?
- Shuuichi Ikeda to Toru Furuya; they voiced for the main antagonist and the main protagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam respectively.
- Michael Wittmann, one of the most successful armored commanders of all time, had Bobby Woll as his gunner. They were so in tune that, eventually, all Wittmann had to do was give Woll a direction where enemy tanks could be found and let Woll do the rest. Luckily for Woll, he wasn't with Wittmann when the latter's luck ran out in August, 1944.
- General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, to General Robert E. Lee once Lee earned command of the Virginian forces in 1862. When Jackson was killed, accidentally shot by his own men at Chancellorsville, Lee said "He had lost his left arm, but I have lost my right."
- General James Longstreet is arguably a better example of Lee's Lancer. Lee described him as the "staff in my right hand" after the Seven Days' Battles, an series of engagements in which Longstreet performed well and Jackson did not. Longstreet rather than Jackson was the official second-in-command of the army. Where Lee shared personality traits with Jackson, including general reserve, an explosive temper when pressed, and a deep religiosity, Longstreet had a more laid-back, fun-loving personality, and did not share Lee and Jackson's objections to drinking and gambling. Despite that, Lee more often spent time at Longstreet's headquarters than Jackson's, apparently preferring the atmosphere there. He also served as more of a foil to Lee in a military sense as well. Jackson usually embraced Lee's offensive strategies and tactics. Longstreet on the other hand repeatedly opposed Lee's decisions and argued for alternative tactics, such as at Gettysburg, and he criticized many of Lee's decisions in his memoirs. For all of that, he and Lee were personally good friends, and on campaign, where Jackson was often sent out for detached duty, Longstreet would more often remain with Lee and serve as his principal subordinate and adviser.
- On the Union side, William Tecumseh Sherman was the Lancer to Ulysses S. Grant. "Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk. Now, we stand by each other always." Grant entrusted Sherman to handle the Western theater of the Civil War while Grant assumed command in the East to fight Lee. It worked. Philip Sheridan, a fiery and aggressive Union commander and cavalryman, also played this role for Grant in the East in Sherman's absence.
- Allan Kuhn, the assistant manager of Aalborg BK, is a good example of the lancer. He took over management in AaB in 2008 as caretaker after Bruce Rioch was sacked, and didn't lose a single match for the remainder of the fall (which includes a draw at home against Villarreal and away against Manchester United). In the beginning of the 2009 season, he took over the manager seat at Midtjylland, which he left in the late 10/11 season due to him finding the work of a manager incompatible with his family life. Since that, he has been assistant manager.
- A very important role in professional cycling. It's very hard to win any race without a good lancer, who would usually play the role of The Smart Guy and/or taking on a very offensive role to wear down the rider from other teams.