Come with me.
needs a leader. Be it the Five-Man Band
, Five-Bad Band
, the Badass Crew
, the Badass Army
, to the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
, and a Six Student Clique
, they all have one.
When push comes to shove, there's gotta be someone that stands up, takes charge, and makes a decision. Even if it goes unsaid, it's usually obvious to everyone who's calling the shots. The de facto leader does it out of necessity or their personality type. The De Jure leader is officially agreed upon, and may hold the title or rank.
Leaders in fiction typically come in four flavors, with of course some leeway and overlap.
They often assemble their team for a specific purpose
, and have clear goals in mind from the beginning. They rely on their smarts and ability to be one step ahead
of their competition. They are masters of manipulation
Lighter versions are typically The Smart Guy
, The Strategist
, or a Guile Hero
. Darker versions are usually evil geniuses
or the Big Bad
(the Leader's Evil Counterpart
in the Five-Bad Band
). They tend to work from the behind the scenes
but be careful as Authority Equals Asskicking
may still be in effect.
The most practical, experienced, mature
, or neutral member
of the group. They are the most naturally qualified to take the responsibility of the team on their shoulders and driven by either a sense of caring towards their teammates or a sense of duty towards their goals. Most likely of the types to suffer from The Chains of Commanding
. An effective levelheaded leader is usually The Captain
, but they may have to fend off persistent dissenters
and other loose cannons to maintain order. Can either command from homebase or act as field leader. They prefer to have a plan worked out, but are willing and able to act when the time comes regardless.
The most outspoken and outgoing members
. Being so determined
they often lead their team both in and out of trouble, and inspire the team to work through problems. Often noted for their bravery. Character development usually dictates that they take on more levelheaded leader traits as time goes on and they learn the difference between courage and recklessness.
Tends to overlap with charismatic leader and are almost always on the front lines.
Charismatic: The Face
of the team, either because they're the most feared, most skilled
, most loved and respected
, chosen by destiny
, or are the most personally invested in the team's goals.
In contrast to type I's, their personality
is what brings, and keeps, the team together. At an impasse, everyone else is willing to agree to what they want to do and won't argue. The strongest type fours are the core of their group, weaker ones are mascots or figureheads. May overlap with or evolve into any of the other three types.
See also The Chains of Commanding
, the Sliding Scale of Leadership Responsibility
, Still The Leader
, Ordered Apology
, and Badass In Charge
. Compare The Captain
, Only Sane Man
, and both the Big Good
and Big Bad
. Usually The Hero
is The Leader
, but not always.
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Anime and Manga
- Batman is a mastermind when he works with Robin or the extended Bat Family, but most of his proteges also lead groups of their own:
- Dick Grayson acted as a mastermind during his early days on the Teen Titans. As he matured, he became more of a charismatic leader. Occasionally, when he enters a Darker and Edgier phase, he's a levelheaded leader but eventually comes around back to a charismatic leader again. DC officially considers him to be the most capable leader in the whole DC Universe.
- The second Robin and Red Hood (Jason Todd) is a headstrong leader.
- The third Robin and Red Robin (Tim Drake), is a mastermind and levelheaded leader; of note, as one of the three founding members of Young Justice, he was considered the level-headed "superego" to Superboy's "ego" and Impulse's "id" in a Freudian Trio.
- Barbara Gordon is also a mastermind when leading the Birds of Prey.
- Captain America of The Avengers is a mixture of levelheaded leader and charismatic leader.
- Superman is also a mixture of levelheaded leader and charismatic leader when he's the leader of the Justice League of America. Because he's a very strong charismatic leader, he tends to become the Leader of any team-up or group he's with. Frequently played with in that he shares the role as part of the trinity that includes Batman, who is typically the mastermind superhero, and Wonder Woman, who usually fills the headstrong leader role. When the three of them show up to a fight, the other good guys immediately defer to their leadership and the bad guys collectively wet themselves.
- Martian Manhunter is a levelheaded leader
- Grim Jack describes the lead of Starslayer as a charismatic leader.
Grim Jack: There are many kinds of leaders. Some are elected, some are selected, some are imposed, but in the end there is only one true leader. The one that others choose to follow. Torin MacQuillon is a leader.
- Papa Smurf of The Smurfs in all forms of media is a levelheaded leader.
- Professor X of X-Men is a benevolent mastermind. Cyclops, the field leader, starts as a levelheaded leader, but transitions into mastermind as the series progresses.
- In Twitch Plays Pokémon the trainer is often a sort of Big Good that is acting as a conduit for mysterious voices so The Leader naturally falls to a member of the party.
- In Red Version it was Bird Jesus the Pidgeot, a mix of level headed and charismatic being the one who carried the team through the toughest battles after the starter was released and eventually became a symbol of hope that spawned a religion.
- In Crystal Lazor Gator the Feraligatr a level headed type who looked out for his friends first and foremost even as the world turned against him
- In Emerald M4 the Azumarill headstrong and charismatic,who started as a rival to the starter until they were again released and then took up the burden of leadership in their stead, raising herself to maximum power to look out for the rest of the team until they caught up.
- Jazz in Transformers Meta is levelheaded leader and, to an extent, a charismatic leader as well.
- In the Dangerverse, Lupin is a levelheaded and charismatic leader.
- Ace Combat The Equestrian War. Most pegasi leaders are levelheaded leaders, while griffin leaders are usually either mastermind archetypes or charismatic leaders.
- Calvin is headstrong leader in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series.
- Dolly is sort of shoehorned into the role of a levelheaded and headstrong leader in A Posse Ad Esse.
- Donut from Dusk's Dawn leads the group throughout the castle and calls himself a "royal guard."
- Tomoe Chiba from Graduate Meeting Of Mutual Killing was labeled as the leader not by general agreement, but by her own word. However, she indeed is trying her best to be a levelheaded leader, with varying grades of success
- Red Tails - levelheaded leader
- The Avengers:
- Nick Fury, as Director of SHIELD, is a Type I for being the mastermind behind the Avengers Initiative and the Tessaract Project.
- In the Avengers themselves, Captain America is the leader, overlapping all four types.
- Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a Type I, being the smartest ape..
- Ben from the remake of Night of the Living Dead is a wannabe headstrong leader. The trope is played with in that, his decisions are followed because he acts with the most authority but they're actually horrible ideas and he really should have listened to the others.
- Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon is the level headed, thinking type. His cool-headed, analytical thinking leads to his victory over the Green Death and it's useful in the Dragon Training Academy.
- The World's End: Gary King was a charismatic leader in his youth, as the coolest guy at school; during the movie proper he's a mastermind, having assembled his friends to complete a pub crawl.
- Babydoll from Sucker Punch combines all types. She assertively organizes a plan for her and her gal pals to escape the cabaret/asylum, but at the same time does it in a low key way.
- Among the Guild Masters from Noob, Heimdäl and Amaras fit the trope best. Heimdäl is also The Strategist, making him more of the mastermind while Amaras is also The Ace of his faction, putting him in a more headstrong category. Both have shown ability to be level-headed. The other leaders seen in the franchise fall in Reluctant Ruler (Arthéon) and Bad Boss (Relic Tracker's Guild Master).
- Appropriately enough, Captain America in Zen Studios' The Avengers. Not only does he give instructions to the player, but using his ball increases the Ball Saver duration, to represent improved morale.
- War Hammer 40 K: Commissar Ciaphas Cain note is definitely a leader of some sort. His men see him as a charismatic leader; a bold and charismatic man of action who cares about each and every one of them. Cain himself would say he's the opposite but invokes this so they will protect him.
- The Warlord from Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition matches the Leader perfectly. Its four types match the four leadership types quite well.
- The Tactical Warlord is a Mastermind
- The Resourceful Warlord is Levelheaded
- The Bravura Warlord is Headstrong
- The Inspiring Warlord is Charismatic
- Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series is all four types: s/he does the planning, keeps the Dysfunction Junction together, and makes hard choices. However, dialogue from quite a few NPCs suggest that the charismatic archetype is the most dominating factor.
- Almost every Heroic Mime, if they are the leader, is implied to be a charismatic leader. However, dialogue around them may hint towards which of the other three they are closest to.
- Golden Sun
- A disconnect happened wherein Isaac was hinted at, and described as being a levelheaded leader, but when he started speaking in the sequel he came off as more of a headstrong leader.
- Matthew is held by fandom to be a levelheaded leader, though with the emote "dialogue" it's certainly possible to play him as a headstrong leader (to say nothing of his reaction to Arcanus in the American version). Three guesses who his father is...
- Kingdom Hearts:
- Of the Destiny Islands trio (Sora, Riku, Kairi) Riku is The Leader, somewhere between a levelheaded and a headstrong leader as he's older and more responsible, but he's also the most ambitious.
- Of the original main trio (Sora, Donald, Goofy) Donald was initially a headstrong leader because of his overbearing personality and since Sora was just a means to an end on his and Goofy's mission of finding a Key Blade Wielder. Later Sora evolved into a charismatic leader, being The Heart and The Chosen One and Donald and Goofy both started becoming background characters. When Riku rejoins the team he becomes Number Two and The Lancer to Sora.
- Mickey Mouse is also a charismatic leader and interestingly enough mastermind of the Disney trio, since he usually works in secret and knows more about all the master plans going on behind the scenes.
- Ciel, Leader of La Résistance On Mega Man Zero 1, 3 and 4, is a charismatic leader, as most people agree with her, she's The Heart and even Neo Arcadia's Government seems to have some respect to her, however she's also a levelheaded leader, as she sometimes tries to prevent Zero from rushing to battle, still tries to maintain open communication channels with Neo Arcadia, and (after Z1) she almost was able to reach a pacific solution with Neo Arcadia's Government (until Weil arrived).
- In Zero 2, Ciel's Group joined with another group, and we got Elpizo as the new leader, apparently chosen by popular vote. Tried to Act as a mastermind at first, organizing Guerrilla operations and data retrieval and a good battle plan in general. In battle he demonstrated that he was a headstrong leader rushing in without having too much of a backup plan. Also apparently he was highly charismatic, as after his death, most of his soldiers deserted Ciel's group.
- Fox of the Star Fox team, levelheaded leader.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is a headstrong leader among team Hero/Sonic, and a charismatic leader among the whole cast.
- Tales Series:
- In Tales of the Abyss Jade Curtiss, despite not being The Hero, is a mastermind for the protagonists. Van Grants is a mastermind and charismatic leader for the God-Generals, Emperor Peony is levelheaded leader for the Malkuth Empire, King Ingobert tries to be a charismatic leader for Kimlasca and fails spectacularly (later on Princess Natalia takes the helm as the real charismatic leader) and Grand Maestro Mohs is a Type I for the Order of Lorelei.
- In Tales of Symphonia Raine is initially a mastermind for the heroes. As Lloyd undergoes Character Development he gradually replaces her as a charismatic leader. Yggdrasill is a mastermind/charismatic leader hybrid for the baddies, Yuan is also a mastermind/charismatic leader hybrid for the Renegades, and Vice-Chief Tiga is a levelheaded leader for Mizuho.
- Tales of Vesperia has Yuri as a levelheaded leader. By the end of the game he's starting to grow into a charismatic leader as well.
- Tales of Phantasia has Klarth/Claus as a mastermind for the heroes.
- Hamil in Tears to Tiara 2. A mastermind, leveheaded, charismatic and sometimes headstrong leader. Really when your character is based on Hannibal Barca, there's no way you're not one.
- In Disgaea 4, Valvatorez straddles the line between being a headstrong or charismatic leader, being principled, commanding, and charismatic, but also stubborn, hotblooded, and a bit dim.
- Ar tonelico: Leard is the governor Platina and his conflict with Lyner is based on him wanting his son to succeed him when Lyner doesn't want to. Over the course of the game, Lyner becomes this for his group. The father is a levelheaded/headstrong leader for being grumpy and agressive yet still looking for the best solution; the son becomes a charismatic leader once he matures enough that his earnest herosim comes off as noble instead of naive.
- There is a point in the game where Lyner realizes that he has become the highest authority in Platina because Shurelia has been hacked by Mir and used by her to abduct Leard. Radolf discusses with Aurica that he isn't used to giving orders instead of taking them.
- The Warden is this in Dragon Age: Origins, although exactly which type depends entirely on how the player chooses to have the character behave.
- Vyse from Skies of Arcadia is a cross between a headstrong and charismatic leader, being both immensely charismatic (to the point that it's one of the titles he can acquire throughout the game), and also known for his incredible determination. You'll hear the phrase "Never give up!" a lot.
- The Walking Dead has Lilly, who is a deconstruction of the headstrong leader. She takes her headstrong nature too far and comes across as overly bossy, arrogant and overall The Neidermeyer, making her unpopular with the group. When Lee's group meet with Lilly's group in the drug store in Macon, Kenny seems to naturally fall into a levelheaded leader role, which isn't surprising considering before the outbreak, he was The Captain of a fishing vessel. The only person who seems to respect Lilly as a leader and openly disapproves of Kenny's leadership is Lilly's father, Larry. This causes an issue in Episode 2, where Lilly and Kenny battle for control of the group, and Lee must decide to support one or the other, or try his best to stay neutral. Later, the camp at the motor inn is attacked by bandits and walkers, resulting in Kenny's son being bitten and his wife committing suicide soon after, causing Kenny to slip over the Despair Event Horizon, and Lilly murders either Doug or Carley and is either left behind or abandons the group herself, causing Lee to fit more into The Leader role. Which type of leader he is depends really on the player's dialogue choices, as Lee can potentially fit into any of the classic leader archetypes.
- Given the leader swapping issue in Final Fantasy VII, Barrret is a self-proclaimed headstrong leader, but the rest agree that Clous is suitable as the leader, being both a level-headed and charismatic leader. However, when Cloud is out of commission and Tifa is staying with him, Barret actually decides that Cid is a lot better leader than him.
- Endou Mamoru and Matsukaze Tenma of the Inazuma Eleven fame are straight up headstrong leader & charismatic leader because of their overwhelming determination and idealism.
- Little Busters!: Kyousuke is a charismatic leader for the Little Busters. While he's definitely very capable, it's outright stated that the reason the others follow him without question is because he has such an intense aura of a caring big brother, not to mention that he's so charming anything he says sounds persuasive no matter how ridiculous it is.
- In Impure Blood, Dara (levelheaded leader) is able to seize command when there's a fight, and even after to prevent dithering. Much to Caspian's displeasure. (You'd think his being the master and her the slave would prevent this.) Faced with a burning city, she snaps out the orders.
- Ciro in Project 0 is a headstrong leader for the Saboteurs, with a devil may care lovable rogue attitude.
- In Rusty and Co., despite the title, it's Mimic, a charismatic leader, so to speak. Then his big advantage is that the Cube is The Speechless, and Rusty says nothing but "Eat ____?"
- In American Barbarian, the leader is a Non-Action Guy but still brave enough to speak to Two Tanks Omen.
- The Order of the Stick Roy Greenhilt is a mastermind/headstrong leader hybrid. His second in command and temporary replacement Haley Starshine is a levelheaded leader.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, November as type I. She specifically recruited Perrault so that he could make the plans, but the motivation and overall plan are hers.
- In Our Little Adventure, Julie's mainly a charismatic leader but is also levelheaded.
- Homestuck has three different leaders of three different parties in three different types. John Egbert is a charismatic leader, having barely any tactical expertise but instead holding his team together through sheer optimism; Karkat Vantas is a headstrong leader, who acquired and maintains his leadership position by shouting at everyone constantly; and Dirk Strider is a hybrid of mastermind and levelheaded, being level-headed, dangerously intelligent, and possessing the perspective that comes from living in a Bad Future.
- El Goonish Shive
- The central cast has Elliot as the de facto Leader. He's actually appointed The Leader by Mr. Verres once or twice because he has all the necessary characteristics of a levelheaded leader.
- Mr. Verres himself is a healthy mixture of a mastermind and a levelheaded leader.
- In Blue Yonder, Yuri is the level-headed leader of the Apartments when needed.
- In Girl Genius, all Sparks are naturally the charismatic type, with a mishmash of everything but level-headed to go with it. Moloch von Zinzer is very annoyed to find out that as Agatha's chief minion, he's the de-facto leader of every minion in Mechanicsburg. He outranks several minor Sparks. Definitely the level-headed variant.
- In morphE Billy Thatcher displays traits of all four types with an emphasis on Type I. He only takes on the role of leader because he is convinced the other four seedlings are too damn stupid to survive without him.
- Sasha in Greek Ninja never gets tired of reminding people that...
- Team Kimba has all four types, and different ones take the lead at different times. Phase is definitely a mastermind, taking the roles of The Smart Guy and The Strategist outside of actual fighting. Lancer is a levelheaded leader, taking the lead in battles and training. Chaka is a headstrong leader, being the one most likely to lead everyone into trouble... and get them out again. Generator is a charismatic leader.
- Superman of the Justice League is a charismatic leader. Though, while Superman is the public face of the League, Word of God is that there is no official leader and decisions are usually made through majority consensus.
- Aqualad of Young Justice. levelheaded leader.
- Interestingly enough Batman is the leader of the Justice League in Young Justice. Word of God claims he is not the original leader; the League holds periodic elections and this happens to be his term. He seems to be a mastermind.
- In Young Justice: Invasion, Nightwing is a mastermind.
- Robin of Teen Titans, depending on the situation, is either a levelheaded leader or headstrong leader.
- Leonardo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a levelheaded leader.
- Beast Wars has
- Optimus Primal as the leader of the heroic Maximals. Optimus makes a pretty good example of a levelheaded leader: He was the leader of the expedition that the tean was on before the show started, he sometimes succumbs to The Chains of Commanding, and (in season one, at least) is often questioned by Dino-bot and Rat Trap. He is willing to lead his troops into battle, or hang back and direct commands if need be. And while he definitely prefers to have a plan, he is certainly capable of improvising and reacting quickly.
- His villainous counterpart, Megatron, is a mastermind and a charismatic leader. He came up with the plan to steal the Golden Disc, and has the strongest personality of the group. While he's not the smartest or most tech savvy of the Predacons, Megatron is very good at finding ways to turn a situation into his advantage, and playing others into accomplishing his goals. Megatron definitely has the most firepower of any Predacon, and this seems to be the chief reason to why he leads. In fact, many of the other Predacons conspire to overthrow him at some point, and the only reason they don't seem MORE eager to dispose of him is because he's so much more powerful than the rest of them (as well as more cunning and ambitious than all of them, with the possible exception of Evil Genius Trantulus, who Megatron still outfoxes).
- Lion-O is mainly a charismatic leader by default, since he's appointed Lord of the ThunderCats.
- Tygra serves as a levelheaded leader until Lion-O gets his feet on the ground and becomes a headstrong leader, shading into charismatic leader as time progresses.
- ThunderCats (2011)
- Lion-O is a charismatic leader as The Chosen One and Lord of the ThunderCats, but rapidly develops a headstrong leader dimension as he becomes more Hot-Blooded and gets farther out of his depth (much to his brother Tygra's chagrin, since he presumes himself more suited for the job).
- In the episode "Old Friends," correctly reading Lion-O as a headstrong leader, Sixth Ranger and Old Soldier Panthro demands Lion-O's deference, and serves as a levelheaded leader until Lion-O proves himself in combat enough to earn Panthro's respect.
- In Sonic Sat AM, Sally was a mastermind for the Freedom Fighters.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Sokka tries to be a mastermind/levelheaded leader hybrid to varying degrees of success and becomes more competent at it as the series goes on. Somewhat lampshaded in one episode when Katara says Aang should be leader because he's the Avatar, which would make him a charismatic leader if he cared to be. Solidified in Season 3 when Hakoda appoints Sokka to lead the Invasion after getting wounded, The Boiling Rock when Chit-Sang refers to him as The Mastermind, and the Finale when Toph gives him a trusting aye-aye Captain when things hit their worst point.
- Azula is a mastermind among her group, Suki and Iroh both come across as a levelheaded leader in their respective teams.
- Fire Lord Ozai is a combined headstrong and charismatic leader. He was also a mastermind in the backstory but doesn't display those characteristics much anymore. Admiral Zhao tries to be a mastermind... and fails consistently.
- In Legend Of Korra, Mako is a levelheaded and charismatic leader as the leader of the Fire Ferrets, but towards the end of the season, Korra becomes established as the leader of "the new Team Avatar". She's a headstrong and charismatic leader.
- Tommy Pickles of Rugrats is a headstrong leader. He's more along the lines of a charismatic leader in All Grown Up!.
- Eddy of Ed Eddn Eddy is somewhere between a mastermind and a headstrong leader.
- Blossom of The Powerpuff Girls is a mastermind as she's the smartest, but her dominant and somewhat self-absorbed personality sometimes makes her come off as a headstrong leader.
- T.J. Detweiler from Recess is between a headstrong and charismatic leader.
- Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic generally serves as a mastermind and levelheaded leader among her group of friends, and serves this role for the whole town at times (such as during "Winter Wrap Up" and "Dragonshy").
- Princess Celestia is a mastermind, levelheaded and charismatic leader for all of Equestria.
- Apple Bloom usually leads the Cutie Mark Crusaders as a charismatic leader, but Scootaloo can sometimes step up as a headstrong leader.
- Rainbow Dash is somewhere between a headstrong and charismatic leader to her weather team, Fluttershy, and prospective pets. In "Wonderbolt Academy" she displays levelheaded leader traits.
- Mulan is a combination of levelheaded leader and headstrong leader but does not realize it until halfway through the first film. She is able to rally the soldiers to break into the palace and save the Emperor, perhaps a little recklessly but ultimately for the greater good. Her quick thinking and resourcefulness makes her more effective than The Captain Shang.
- Dragons: Riders of Berk:
- Stoick is a levelheaded leader for the village: a reasonable guy who tries to do what's best for everyone. He definitely feels The Chains Of Command.
- His son, Hiccup, is a charismatic leader for the Dragon Training Academy: his authority rests on the villager's belief that he can solve whatever dragon-related problem they're having. He's also The Face because he's the one that has to listen to their problems and convince them that he can solve them.
- Code Lyoko's Jeremie is a mastermind and headstrong leader.
- World Leaders (based on their typical media personalities, YMMV).
- President Barack Obama was a charismatic leader during the 2008 election, since then he's more often identified with mastermind and levelheaded leader traits.
- President George W. Bush was a headstrong leader during his terms.
- Bill Clinton was so strong as a charismatic leader that his charisma is described as creating a 'Reality Distortion Field' that makes you feel like you're really close to him even if you've never met, and previously disliked him. Has some shades of all other types because of it.
- Winston Churchill would count as headstrong/charismatic leader.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower was generally a levelheaded and charismatic leader, with elements of mastermind as well.
- Sports Captains
- Mark Messier was either a headstrong leader or a charismatic leader.
- Shaquille O'neal was a charismatic leader.
- Michael Jordan was a headstrong and charismatic leader.
- Peyton Manning is a mastermind.
- Tom Brady is a headstrong and charismatic leader.
- Bill Russell was a mastermind and headstrong leader.
- Ryan Callahan is a levelheaded leader.
- Cappie Pondexter is a levelheaded leader.
- Ray Lewis was a charismatic leader.
- In the US military, every solder is trained to be a levelheaded leader but the NCO's are this especially since the best way to keep a unit alive is to make sure someone is always there to give commands, make on the spot judgements and keep everyone focused on the mission. In fact the chain of command is partially there to make sure a soldier knows who is in charge when the leader is wounded or killed.