"And honestly, you're the only guy I can rely on on this team."You know this character. She's the girl who is always there in the background at work, quietly doing what needs to be done without fanfare and keeps things running smoothly, sometimes just by being there rain or shine. He's the Mauve Shirt guarding The Hero's back when the Hero goes in alone to fight the Big Bad. She's the one with simple, sensible advice that her Troubled, but Cute friend seldom takes. He's the Sergeant Rock that the Officer and a Gentleman depends on. And when The Captain needs data analyzed, papers filed, and problems examined, he gives it to this guy, who crunches it all and has the report ready first thing in the morning, just in time for the Captain to look at it and have a Eureka Moment. They're The Reliable One. They're often overlooked in Ensemble Casts with Loads and Loads of Characters (particularly if it's a World of Badass with tons of flashy characters) because of his or her understated character, they nonetheless often contribute in a unique way for the good guys. Every now and then they'll tend to get A Day in the Limelight where their skills or presence come in handy even more than usual, some of their Hidden Depths get revealed, it gets shown why they frequently have such an Undying Loyalty to people around them, or where their absence makes everything around them start to fall apart. They may even get a Did You Think I Can't Feel? moment, when the people whose lives they make better trample all over their feelings. They're often not a main character, even through they travel in the same circle as the main characters. If they are a member of the Five-Man Band, they can be any member but are most likely to either be The Lancer (being the hero's most trusted friend and go to guy) or The Chick, and is the bedrock of the team. For similar reasons in a military themed story or show they may be the Number Two. Works that go into their character frequently tend to be described as level-headed and serious if they're not an outright Only Sane Man. If they are outside the Five-Man Band, say on the level of a Mauve Shirt, they may run the risk of becoming The Generic Guy or a Satellite Character when not given enough Character Development. In a team environment where everyone has their own specialization, (or Crippling Over Specialization, as the case may be) the Jack-of-All-Stats may become this by default and simply being able to better adapt to circumstances. Frequently used as a Foil to free spirits like the Cloud Cuckoo Lander, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the Loveable Rogue and the Blithe Spirit, particularly if those free spirits are a major character or have a major influence on the main character. Of course, sometimes Opposites Attract and this character may find themselves in a closer than expected relationship with one of those types. The Mook Lieutenant is often a minor case of this for the bad guys. This trope also tends to be part of a package deal for any good Cloudcuckoolander's Minder, The Confidant, The Dutiful Son, Only Sane Employee, Hypercompetent Sidekick, or Beleaguered Assistant. If they're very reliable but in a low ranking position, you often have an overlap with the Almighty Janitor.
— Burter to Jeice, Dragon Ball Z Abridged
Examples of this trope include:
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Anime and Manga
- Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop.
- Mogi from Death Note: the quiet Gentle Giant who stays with the Japanese task force through thick and thin, doing whatever is needed in an efficient manner, even when it means playing WAY against type and acting like a hyperactive kissass manager to spoiled, self-centered Elegant Gothic Lolita Misa Amane. Along the way he draws praise from figures as different as Director Yagami, L and Near for his dedication, skill in compiling reports, and refusal to accidentally give away information with an ill-timed word.
- Joe Kido from Digimon Adventure.
- Heck, the dub called his crest the Crest of Reliability.
- Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist is often shown this way in regards to Roy Mustang.
- Perhaps also Fu for Ling.
- Sayaka Yumi from Mazinger Z was The Lancer and Love Interest of Kouji Kabuto. Even if she was hot-headed, she was the one all in the Photon Atomic Research Institute could depend on, mainly The Professor -his father- or Kouji when they were battling. Jun Hono from Great Mazinger and Hikaru Makiba from UFO Robo Grendizer filled similar roles (even if Hikaru was not The Lancer).
- Hayate himself of Hayate the Combat Butler is a rare case of the main character being this. Since he is a butler and a good portion of the cast are rich but socially naive girls and an assortment of wacky and highly unreliable people this makes sense. When he isn't being focused on, he can even be seen doing...well darn near anything really. He steadily acquires more girls to support and helps them with their problems as well as handling minor chores and such that often goes unnoticed (though the girls are pretty observant and very grateful for his help).
- Maria was this toward Hayate and Nagi in the beginning as the reliable older figure (only by a year)who came in to sort out a mess in a few panels whenever messes got too big due to Hayate's abysmal luck. This has been somewhat phased out as Hayate has gotten more accustomed to the job and Maria's own quirks were dialed up a bit for humor.
- Hinagiku becomes this to Hayate over the course of the series. They start out as friends, but eventually Hayate starts going to Hinagiku for all of his problems, especially those he didn't want one of the other girls to know about and typically finds out about the messes he didn't want her to know about either. It helps that she's more proactive about it and prone to worrying about him when he's acting off and thus tries to find out the problem on her own to help the poor guy out.
- Ui in K-On!. Especially compared to her older sister Yui.
- Arata of Saki Achiga-hen. Her status as such is why Harue chose her as the Club President for Achiga's mahjong team, in spite of Yuu being the only third-year and Shizu taking the initiative to revive the club.
- Kyouya from Ouran High School Host Club is The Lancer and Hypercompetent Sidekick to Tamaki and The Reliable One to the entire Host Club, handling all of the administrative and financial details of the club as well as supporting Tamaki himself at various points. On a slightly smaller scale, Mori is also The Reliable One to Honey, thanks to his Undying Loyalty.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Rossieu. While he is not as hot-blooded as the rest of the team, he is still a key member with his strategies and thoughts. He serves this to Simon; after Kamina's death, Rossieu was one of the few to never lose faith in him (even when those like Yoko did), the others being the twins and Leeron. Furthermore, he piloted Gurren to make sure Simon is okay and actively showed concern, the only one to do so.
- Simon himself is this. Explicitly touted as their key to victory by his big bro Kamina, virtually every victory is directly due to Simon, but few give him the full credit until Kamina dies and Simon works through his Heroic B.S.O.D. with Nia's encouragemenet, where he finally gets recognition.
- Kobayashi from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is a main character example. Pretty much everyone at her office relies on her, to the point that Takiya referred to as the pillar that supports the entire department. One particular example would be when she did all of Elma's work while the latter was learning how to code.
- In The Boys, the titular group is a CIA organization that keeps tabs on and confronts the often wild and sociopathic "Superheroes" of that world. It seems that Mother's Milk is often Overshadowed By the Crazy Awesome that is the damn weird Frenchman, the Ax-Crazy Female, the Magnificent Bastard Butcher, or even The Woobie newcomer Hughie, but Butcher frequently says that he can't run the outfit without MM and for good reason. Hughie is the Naďve Newcomer to a hopeless degree, Butcher is often blinded by his hatreds and need for revenge, and both The Frenchman and The Female are far too crazy or off in their own world for Intelligence or detective work, so when it comes to taking care of the day to day functions, MM has to do it or it won't get done and the group will collapse or become ineffective.
- Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe. If he is needed somewhere or a task needs to be completed, he will be there and get it done without doubt.
- In Scott Pilgrim, most of Scott's friends have shades of this to Scott since he's a goofball who tends to act without thinking. This is downplayed as most are only marginally better off than Scott and have their own issues to deal with.
- The best example would be Wallace Wells. Scott's gay roommate and mentor figure, he helps guide Scott through life and gives him good advice. He also has a great deal of faith in Scott and it's implied he at least had a hand in Scott's fighting prowess. In addition, he is the oldest one out of the group of friends and the only one with a worthwhile job (we're not told what it is, but it's some sort of office job.)
- To a lesser extent, Kim Pine as well. She suffers from her own myraid of issues, but out of Scott's group, she has known him the longest and has a better understanding of him than almost all of the others. Scott himself acknowledges her as one of the few constants in his life.
- Alfred from every Batman comic ever is the perfect example of this. He is always there when Bruce needs him. He'll set a bone, make a cup of tea, or yell at Bruce until he agrees to sleep.
- Fatal Instinct. Ned Ravine's secretary Laura Lincolnberry is a perfect example of this trope. She takes care of minor matters for him, helps him pick out his outfits and keeps her head on straight.
- Arthur from Inception. He's not the Master of Disguise, or The Charmer, or The Profiler, or The Smart Guy with the new sedative that makes the impossible possible, or the architect who creates dream worlds from nothing. He's criticized in one breath for "Having no imagination", while in the next he's praised for being the best at what he does: being The Comically Serious guy who always watches your back and makes sure you come out of things okay.
- Up to and including creating a falling sensation in a zero-G situation. (It Makes Sense in Context.)
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- R2D2 in Star Wars. Co-piloting, repairing, picking locks, saving heroes from a Death Trap, smuggling weapons or valuable data, etc, etc.
- Into the Storm (2009): Clementine is Winston's caretaker, as he is absolutely hopeless with normal life.
- X-Men Film Series:
- Mission: Impossible: Luther is this to Ethan, being his go-to guy in most of his operations since the first film. Ethan trusts Luther so much that he gives him the NOC list after Krieger tries to steal it and when Ethan (rightfully) suspects that Krieger and Claire are the bad guys.
- Elizabeth Pennykettle from The Last Dragon Chronicles is almost a personification of this trope. If anyone has a problem, she's guaranteed to be the one who fixes it for them. She's also a giver of motherly advice and lends an ear in times of trouble. See also: Team Mom and Deadpan Snarker
- General Carvaille is this to Robert Epine, mixed with Poisonous Friend, in Reflections of Eterna, to the point where Robert muses in the later books whether Carvaille is the real regent instead of him.
- Sam is this to Frodo as Legolas and Gimli are to Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.
- Balin is this to Bilbo in The Hobbit.
- Shurf Lonli-Lokli from Labyrinths of Echo. He is also The Stoic.
- Horton, as said by his line from Horton Hatches The Egg;
"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant / An elephant's faithful one hundred percent!"
- Jeeves. There's a reason he has a whole trope about reliability named after him.
- Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes. No matter what Holmes asks of him, he will perform above and beyond the call of duty, running errands, writing detailed reports, dropping his work to help with a case, and engaging in such tireless efforts as rushing from London to Paris within the span of a day when he hears Holmes has fallen ill, to spending several weeks acting as a threatened client's bodyguard, to risking his life by remaining by Holmes's side while the latter experiments on himself by filling the room with poisonous fumes, all without ever backing out or making a half-assed effort, and only failing when Holmes makes him do tasks that require a level of genius he does not possess. Holmes even comments on this trait several times.
It is really very good of you to come, Watson. It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely.
- William Bush, the usual Number Two in the Horatio Hornblower books. Although he's not an innovative genius like Hornblower, he's still a supremely competent sailor who knows the ship like the back of his hand. As well, he does his best to ensure that his broody, driven captain actually eats and sleeps sometimes.
- Agnes Nitt, from her first appearance, resigns herself to the idea that she is cut out to be the one in the background nobody really notices, who is cut out by fate to be the person to keep her head in a crisis. In Maskerade, she reflects she doesn't have to like it, though...
- This fate applies in spades to Glenda Sugarbean in Unseen Academicals. Everybody turns to her when there's a problem. As with Agnes and Christina, the star of the opera, Glenda's fate is to mother and nurture her beautiful but unworldly friend Jools.
- Princess Priscilla Voda was this for Queen Tatiana Ivashkov in Vampire Academy. She was her best friend, and advisor until getting killed by Strigoi. And the one she trusted with training Lissa in life in Court. She is mostly a background character.
- Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments often seems to be less overtly swashbuckling than Jace or Isabelle. But Magnus observes that Alec instinctively responds to people needing him, and will go to great lengths to help them. As a result, by the time of the Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy story "Born To Endless Night'' he has become a cohesive force between the Shadowhunters and Downworlders of New York City. To the extent that vampire leader Lily Chen considers him an exception to her personal rule about keeping Shadowhunters out of Downworlder business because she knows he will just help solve problems rather than chastising her about the Law.
- In The Sack, the position of the titular alien's caretaker is given to Siebling, who might not be well liked, but is trusted completely.
- Elinor Dashwood is this despite being the protagonist of Sense and Sensibility. When her father dies, it's Elinor and not Mrs. Dashwood who takes over the search for a new house, being polite to her useless brother and greedy sister-in-law, managing the family's reduced finances, and managing the emotions of her mother and melodramatic younger sister. Of course, the emotional consequences of having to be the sole responsible person in the family is also examined—eventually she does crack under the strain.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville, Chloe Sullivan is always there whenever Clark needs her, and this often extends to his other associates.
- Lennier in Babylon 5. As Delenn's aide it's his job, but he goes far above and beyond the call of duty in too many ways to count.
- Friends: Monica is the go-to person for support, advice and comfort whenever the others are having problems or need help. She also feeds them all daily for over ten years.
- On Buffy Buffy calls Willow "Old Reliable," leading to a Chain of Corrections.
Willow: (sarcastically) Old Reliable? Yeah, great, there's a sexy nickname.
Xander: The geyser! You're like a geyser of fun that goes off at regular intervals.
Willow: That's Old Faithful.
Xander: Isn't that the dog that the guy had to shoot...
Willow: That's Old Yeller.
Buffy: Xander, I beg you not to help me.
- Garcia the tech geek in Criminal Minds.
- Greg Sanders was this before he joined the main cast of CSI. Upon his promotion to the credits, his place as The Reliable One was taken up by David Hodges, surprisingly enough.
- Teresa Lisbon (The Mentalist) always has Patrick Jane's back: Jane calls her his 'moderating influence'. Grace Van Pelt from the same series often goes unnoticed and unappreciated for the long hours she spends hunting down files and information for the other characters.
- From Scrubs: Carla, the steadfast, cool-headed, keen-eyed, ever-competent, always-on-top-of-things head nurse, is the most reliable employee at Sacred Heart. Even outside of her job, she's usually the person everyone runs to with their problems.
- Bobby in Supernatural.
- Stiles on Teen Wolf. He is the Hypercompetent Sidekick to his best friend Scott and sometimes Derek, as well as being strongly committed to protecting virtually everybody, even enemies such as Ethan and Aiden.
- In the episode "Motel California", Stiles enters a big puddle of gasoline, to stop Scott, who is drugged and holding a lit flare, from committing a fiery suicide even though odds were good that he would be burned to death if he failed to get the flare away from the super-strong Scott.
- Ianto resents being this in the first series of Torchwood.
- Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries.
- Sgt Carwood Lipton of Band of Brothers. His quiet efficiency helps the Battle of the Bulge go smoother than it otherwise would have. He is given a commission in recognition of his leadership skills.
- Guinevere, who whether a servant or a queen is always diligently hard at work throughout the entire series. An example of her competence: it takes Arthur two consecutive seasons to realize that there are traitors at work in Camelot, and both of them escape his justice. It takes Guinevere two episodes to find one, and then she manages to use the traitor to lay a trap to successfully neutralize the real threat.
- Merlin may also count, most prominently toward Arthur. Even if nobody besides Gaius knows it, he routinely manages to find out traitors, defeat dangerous magical threats and save Arthur/somebody/Camelot nearly every episode while always being there for Arthur.
- Polly in Fawlty Towers combines this with Only Sane Man, being by far the most capable and level-headed cast member.
- Hawkeye, Trapper and Henry Blake can always rely on Radar O'Reilly in M*A*S*H not only to hear choppers before anyone else, but also to play a part in the Zany Scheme of the week. It's even Lampshaded in one episode where Radar is heartbroken after receiving a "Dear John" Letter and messes up the order forms. And again spoken in the episode 'Dear Dad'.
Hawkeye: (voice over) I'm not quite sure what Henry would do without Radar....
- As in the books, William Bush of Horatio Hornblower is this in the third series, when he's Hornblower's first lieutenant. He keeps the little ship in excellent order and does not tolerate anything that interferes with its good management and is also as good a friend to Horatio as Horatio permits.
- One of the earliest examples of this trope is Hestia from Classical Mythology. She has no participation in any of the escapades of the other Olympians however she also never ever falters from her divine duty, keeping the fires of home burning; For the other gods this means she keeps Olympus tidy, comfortable, and welcoming - For mortals this means she keeps the fires at the heart of the cities lit, which in-turn marks said towns as safe havens of community. Ancient Greece so prized the notion of basic comforts always being available within a community that regardless of being an Actual Pacifist, she was their single most sacred deity.
- The Magnus Archives has Sasha, whom the archivist considers the most capable of his three assistants.
- Benvolio from Romeo and Juliet is frequently portrayed as this.
- The Admirable Crichton.
- The protagonist in virtually every open-world RPG that includes quests. You will run around completing all sorts of tasks for everyone, from getting a book on the table next to them to slaying a demon that has cursed their family for generations.
- A rare case of such character in a main role: Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend, who is a roadie who helps his friends make history but willingly sticks to the backstage throughout the game.
- There's also the APC unit in Advance Wars. It can't actually attack, but it can do a lot of useful things, like carry your infantry, act as bait (particularly in the first game) and resupply other units.
- Link acts as the reliable one in several Zelda games, but especially The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where his reliability allows him to help the people of the sky and retrieve Gratitude Crystals from them in order to help the demon Batreaux become human.
And then a day came when a fell wind began to blow across the kingdom, and the great evil once again crept forth from the depths of the earth. The people believed that the hero of time would come again to save them, but the hero did not appear...
- Link takes this trope Up to Eleven. It's been stated that the Hero is reborn each time Ganondorf returns to threaten the world, which means Link is such a reliable One-Man Army, dungeon crawler, and general Evil Killer, that his spirit reincarnates specifically to battle evil whenever it grows too powerful. If that ain't reliable, nothing is.
- While this is a common trait of protagonists in the Shin Megami Tensei series, the Silent Protagonist from Persona 3 is perhaps the most notable example. (S)he is made the field leader of the team for that very reason, act as a Living Emotional Crutch for their social links, and even become the assistant to the Student Council President.
- Flight Lieutenant Jeff "Joker" Moreau from the Mass Effect series. Sure, he's also the plucky comic relief, but he's also the one member of your crew who isn't on the verge of PTSD, a murder spree, or a collapse into the blackest of depressions. He's the one member on the crew who Shepard can rely on 100% of the time, even when he's snarking at them. Exemplified in the third game when Admiral Anderson asks Joker to look after Shepard, which Joker points out is "asking the cripple to look after the galactic hero".
- Sarnel of Drowtales is well aware that Ariel, as heir to one of the most powerful clans, The Val'Sarghress, in their Underground City of Chel'el'Sussoloth, will need reliable people beside her, who can help her survive and lead, so he fully plans to be this for her. His own grandfather is this for their clan's leader Quain'tana and is in fact the very reason their clan is so powerful.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Durkon, frequently cited by the fandom as the least interesting or developed character, (due in part to Our Dwarves Are All the Same) he's nevertheless a major part of the glue that holds the Order together, and is usually the one that its members come to for advice, help in trials of leadership, conscience, or against self-doubt. And every time he's not with the Order and they face a major obstacle, the Order starts to fall apart.
- Redcloak is this for the bad guys. He even lampshades it in one strip.
Redcloak: It's all fun and games for them, but I'm the one who has to make the magical, lightning powered trains run on time.
- Burter and Jeice seem to consider each other to be this in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Leaving aside their boss, the other members of their team are a psychopathic Blood Knight who always thinks that he's in a wrestling match, and the Butt-Monkey whose ability to stop time is the only useful thing about him. So when Burter needs someone by his side in a fight, or Jeice needs a favor, they call each other.
- The Head Scholar of The Questport Chronicles is ostensibly just a librarian, but the Lord of the Supreme Council delegates a large amount of responsibility to her.
- In Off the Page and into Life, it doesn't matter whether she's never met you, you don't want any help, or even if she doesn't particularly like you. Gail Rubens will do whatever she can to help you. This is the reason Mr. Valjean asks her to ease the other teenagers into the news of Colleen dying—because he knows she's mature, empathetic and responsible enough to actually be able to do it. While this puts some stress on Gail, she comes through, and even considers becoming a hospital chaplain because of the experience.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Applejack is the most cool-headed, hardworking, reliable pony in the show, and actually has her own episode where it's showcased how she does too much for other ponies without thinking of herself. Occasionally it comes back to bite her, as she's so dedicated to helping out that she tends to be a bit stubborn about it. In "Applebuck Season", the entire conflict was that Applejack refused to stop trying to help around town despite the fact that her farm work left her so sleep deprived that her "help" did more bad than good.
- Spike as well. He's always there mostly for Twilight Sparkle but also for anyone else who needs him, and knowing they appreciate it is good enough reward. It's hinted in "Owl's Well That Ends Well" and later confirmed in "The Crystal Empire" that his greatest fear is not being this to his friends.
- Pinkie Pie is an interesting case of this, as she has an encyclopedic knowledge of every important date for every citizen in town (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) as well as keeps records of the things each person does and doesn't dislike (She's somehow even aware that Twilight Sparkle is afraid of quesadillas). While she may be too spontaneous and scatterbrained to be reliable in the ways Applejack and Spike are, the entire town can rely upon her to always find a way to make every pony in town happy on their special days.
- The titular protagonist of Hey Arnold!. After being told his advice makes things less fun, he is pressured into quitting by Helga. Like clockwork, everyone's schemes go wrong and they go to him for help, only for him to remind them of what they said. After Helga's advice makes things worse, she goes to him and asks him to set everything right, which he then does.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Donatello gets less attention than Mikey, Raph, and Leo. But meanwhile, he's been finding old junk and appliances and fixing them up so his family can live comfortably underground. Without him, they might not even have lights or hot water, let alone television. When their second lair is destroyed, he takes it the hardest because of all the work he put in.
- Much like the prior series, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) version of Donatello is this as well, building several machines to help out his team such as both methods of transportation, a blimp and even a turtle mech. Beyond machinery, he also is the go-to guy for making retromutagen to undo mutations.
- Lampshaded by Splinter in the episode The Creeping Doom:
Spinter: Donatello often puts too much burden on himself, sometimes the best solution only arrives when you take a step back from the problem.
- Lampshaded by Splinter in the episode The Creeping Doom:
- On The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy Duck pontificated about every character's role in the group. And this was a parody of such tropes, partly because he would change his mind within the same conversation (is Porky Pig the buffoon or The Reliable One?) And most of these lists included calling at least one character "the reliable one," showing awareness of this trope.
- Ice Bear seems to have this role in We Bare Bears. While Grizzly is the leader, Ice Bear is the one who runs errands, keeps the cave clean, cooks up some pretty elaborate meals and generally keeps an eye out for his brothers.