"It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."The Strategist is a character whose primary job is to think up intricate and ingenious ways to defeat the enemy. The Strategist is often in a supporting role, but may be the hero as well. In a supporting role, the Strategist is basically The Smart Guy on turbo, although he or she will—as a general rule—be less likely to physically partake in any of the plans they think up. The heroes may come to rely on The Strategist for their ultimate success, and, as such, will have to protect and keep The Strategist as far away from the front lines as possible. The loss of The Strategist might come across as an unmitigated disaster, should the heroes come to rely on his or her advice too much. Also, there's no guarantee that The Strategist won't turn out to also be The Chessmaster, manipulating both the heroes and the villains towards some mysterious and personal goal. This will almost never be the case, however, as The Strategist very rarely wants power for him- or herself; the sheer joy of being given a venue where they can stretch their intellectual muscles and try out their plans is often reward enough for their loyalty and service. The Strategist may also take center stage. As a hero, The Strategist's clever tactical tricks drive the story. A main character Strategist will face overwhelming odds, again and again. The enemy may have difficulty believing The Strategist can possibly win - after all, they're outnumbered 25 to 1 and have a moron for a boss! But by bending the rules a little, dusting off their knowledge of military history, and maybe pulling a few dirty tricks, The Strategist comes out on top, or at least alive. They can become the Mary Tzu if done poorly. The Strategist may have TV Genius tendencies, but they will just as often be charismatic, knowing that, by acting so, they'll have an easier time convincing others to follow their plans. In several sport series, The Strategist will be a highly-talented player who also devises strategies or helps the coach do so. Often, said characters have weak health, so they're only allowed to play for a limited time, or aren't called into the games unless the team is in a tight pinch. They're also likely to hold quite the degree of power inside of the team, possibly as captains or assistants...if not coaches. The Svengali is usually this in his dealings with the general public on behalf of his protégé(s). Compare Mary Tzu, when the character is unrealistically good at strategy.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
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Anime & Manga
- Sanji in One Piece is this for the Straw Hats, having proven time and time again to be an expert Chessmaster and Xanatos Speed Chess player. The Little Garden, Alabasta, Skypeia, Water 7, Enies Lobby, and Zou arcs all have solid examples of him displaying this skill.
- The Daikenja (aka Murata) in Kyo Kara Maoh! was the Shinou's strategist during his first life who helped him win the war against Shoushu.
- Although her job isn't advisory, Tsunade of Naruto was sought by Jiraiya and Naruto for similar reasons and in the same manner. Not surprisingly, Shikamaru seems to have taken this role and has become Tsunade's strategist.
- More recently, we found out who Shikamaru gets it from; Shikaku, his dad, is Jounin Commander of Konoha, and is acting as Tsunade's right-hand man, helping to coordinate the movements of various divisions. Not only that, he even creates a perfect strategy that manages to drive the Juubi into a corner.
- Zero in Code Geass: In an inversion of the common scenario, he seeks out La Résistance rather than the other way around, and he's a Magnificent Bastard on top of that. Played straight with Zero getting Todoh to join the Black Knights. There's also a bit more screwing around in that quite often, he's involved in fights as well. On one occasion, he started a chess game by moving his King; when question about it later, he responded "If the King doesn't lead, his subjects won't follow." It's also good to note that Zero's ulterior ambitions aren't all that different from the resistance, they want to liberate Japan, he wants to overthrow the Empire occupying it, it's largely a matter of scale.
- Niijima of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. He's the only member of the Shinpaku Alliance (other than the flag-bearer) with no fighting ability. Despite this, his ability to come up with (usually ridiculous) plans to save everyone else from even the most dire situations is admirable (even though he's usually the one responsible for the crisis at hand), to the point that even Kenichi's masters are impressed with his strategic ability.
- Out of all the trainers in Hajime no Ippo, Miguel Zail makes the best use of tactical decisions, always observing the enemy boxer in order to give the right commands. Two other examples for boxers are Kenta Kobashi, who makes up for his lack of boxing talent by studying his opponent beforehand and developing strategies against him and world champion David Eagle, who also uses strategy in his fight, but more on a psychological level.
- Narsus in The Heroic Legend of Arslan plays the trope to a T. He used to be an adviser to King Andragoras III but was expelled from the court because he kept asking the king to abolish slavery. For three years he'd been living in his remote countryside home painting and drinking. When Andragoras is defeated and the kingdom faces occupation, his old friend Daryoon appears at his place with the crown prince and demands that Narsus help them. At first Narsus wants nothing to do with it, but then he realizes prince Arslan's potential and willingly becomes his adviser and strategist. (Arslan promising him the title of royal painter if he gets back the throne didn't hurt.) Just to clarify: Narsus had a very fine control of understanding and manipulating circumstances, sometimes to ludicrous degrees. His debut strategy was to pinpoint the most likely thrust of The Mole's plan to smoke Prince Arslan out of hiding, then counter that by having the prince lure Lusitanian soldiers to his position, which was on a hilltop...near a massive floodgate, which is promptly thrown open to have the Lusitanians' massive numerical advantage literally washed away.
- Tanaka Yoshiki seems to like these—in addition to the Arslan example above, he has Yang Wenli, Reinhard von Lohengramm and Paul von Oberstein from Legend of Galactic Heroes. Yang is a drunk slob who would much rather laze around and study history than go into battle but he is the smartest strategist in the series, Reinhard is a Napoleon-like conqueror and a genius at military and politics, and Oberstein is a brilliant Machiavellian schemer in Reinhard's service.
- Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion is one. Aside from the examples on his screwing with the plotline and SEELE, he doesn't just see things coming, but he provides the super-subtle pushes that puts people where he wants them. He even has the layout of NERV nearly randomized to discourage intruders. However, this doesn't work out very well if you're up against people with intimate knowledge of the base or 13 years of planning, or in failing to notice that the one person his plans hinged on was on the verge of rebelling against him and in favor of his son.
- Shiroe in Log Horizon did not earn the nickname "Shiroe the Strategist" for nothing. His in-game class is an enchanter-type wizard, but his spells are largely supportive and are usually the key to bring his plans to fruition and his allies to victory.
- Kakuri in Bokko. When the small border city of Ryo is threatened by a large invading army, they send a request for help to their ancient allies, the clan of Bokk. They send a single man to save the city. Which he proceeds to do, in spite of seemingly insurmountable problems.
- In Corsair, Canale is the chief strategist for Preveza, a pirate clan. It's probably the only thing that offers him any protection, as his refusal to actually fight (despite the fact that he's blind) is highly contentious for the other pirates.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- This is technically the role that Heymans Breda occupies on Roy Mustang's team. Mustang himself is a Badass Strategist, but recognized that Breda's abilities in this field were well above average, and recruited him for the group.
- Ling Yao is also an excellent strategist and quickly figures out the best way to fight his enemy. His strategy allows him to keep up with even Fuhrer Bradley and that's the saying something.
- Daisuke Aramaki. Give him two street punks and he can make a SWAT team look like such fools that the "Special" in "Special Weapons And Tactics" seems to mean they ride to the crime scene in a short bus. Give him his handpicked team of specialists and it won't matter if you're the world's last super power—You Are Already Dead.
- Matsu in Sekirei is extremely intelligent but not a fighter like most other Sekireis.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has a villainous example in Captain William Sutherland, who devises most of the Earth Forces' battle plans and serves as Muruta Azrael's right-hand man.
- The original Mobile Suit Gundam has another evil Strategist in the form of M'quve who created most of Kycillia Zabi's plans, and led the White Base crew around by the nose during most of their encounters. The end result of M'quve getting annoyed at the White Base advancing toward his rear positions while he's preparing for the impending Federation offensive on another front? The White Base crippled by time bombs they had absolutely no idea where they came from. Luckily for them, the only time M'quve actually got serious in dealing with them was when he decided to fight the Gundam, with his tactical skills ultimately proving no match for Amuro's sheer piloting abilities and the encounter costing him his life.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has two: Sumeragi Lee Noriega is Celestial Being's tactical forecaster, and her ability to predict the enemy's moves serves the Gundam Meisters very well during the first season. In the second season the A-LAWS recruit Colonel Kati Mannequin, a former classmate of Sumeragi's, to serve as their own forecaster; Kati recognizes Celestial Being's tactics almost immediately.
- Most teams in Eyeshield 21 have a player who serves in this role. Usually they're the quarterback and the captain, but not always. Notable examples include Hiruma of the Deimon Devil-Bats, Takami of the Ojou White Knights, Marco of the Hakushuu Dinosaurs, and Clifford of the Pentagram.
- Kidou Yuuto from Inazuma Eleven is described as a genius playmaker and is often responsible for figuring out how to break through opposing teams' supposedly unbeatable strategies. Fudou Akio and Fidio Aldena also fill this role in the third season, if to a lesser extent.
- Eikou no Napoleon: Eroica, the sequel to Rose of Versailles, has its fair share: the first to appear is, surprisingly, Alain, who has a knack for anticipating the strategies of Napoleon Bonaparte of all people; another is Napoleon (of course), who not only did all of historical deeds but also offered a job to Alain upon discovering they had the same idea to dispose of a counter-revolutionary insurgence (with the difference that Napoleon actually had the authority to do the job and Alain was trying a Bavarian Fire Drill); Horatio Nelson took care of frustrating Napoleon's efforts at sea; the French generals Massena and Murat, who acted as Napoleon's Lancers after Alain's death attempting to kill Napoleon; Michael Von Melas, who gave Napoleon a desperate run for his money at Marengo and would have won if Alain didn't anticipate Napoleon's need for more troops and returned at the right moment; Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov, the great Russian general, anticipated Napoleon's tactic at Austerlitz (too bad the czar ignored him), but when Napoleon invaded Russia he outsmarted him every time and, while unable to defeat him in battle, his scorched earth strategy left the invaders helpless when the Russian winter came, ultimately resulting in victory; after Kutuzov's death (and Napoleon's Hope Spot), Carl von Clausewitz in person took care of organizing the Coalition's strategy that led to the victory at Leipzig, the first defeat inflicted to Napoleon on the battlefield; and, finally, the Duke of Wellington, who inflicted Napoleon his final defeat.
- Of all this guys, the ones who fully classifies as this trope (as they are not only very good at war but are also searched and brought out of retirement in the moment of need) are Napoleon, Kutuzov and Clauzewitz: Napoleon had been kicked out of the army for political reasons, only to be recalled in service and given command of the Reserve Army to defeat a royalist insurrection (the insurrection spontaneously imploded when Napoleon started firing artillery inside Paris); general Kutuzov was an accomplished soldier who had fallen out of favor with the czar, Alexander I, and got reassigned to the war against the Turks purely due old age and because combat wounds had disfigured him, but when Napoleon invaded and commander in chief De Tolly screwed up the scorched earth strategy (the lack of engagements was killing the morale of the army) the czar had to call Kutuzov, who restored the morale of the army with a major but inconclusive battle and organizing a guerrilla campaign to further harass Napoleon; Clausewitz was a mere major who had left the Prussian Army and joined Russia to fight Napoleon, but when Napoleon won the early battles of the Sixth Coalition War the Prussians searched him specifically because they knew he had put into theory what Napoleon had done by improvisation, and thus was able to dissect the abilities of Napoleon's army and establish a surefire way to defeat him (four battles later Napoleon was on the run, and had not been captured or killed only because he saw he was losing hard and decided to retreat).
- Claymore gives us Miria for the Claymores and Isley for the Abyssal Ones. However, since this is Claymore, even the strategists are Genius Bruisers that can curbstomp you into jam if they feel so inclined.
- Armin in Attack on Titan is one of the physically weakest characters in the Survey Corps, but eventually finds himself in this role to make up for it.
- Fairy Tail:
- First Master Mavis's nickname was "Fairy Strategist". At the Grand Magic Games, she showed it off on the final day.
- In combat, Gray always defeats his major opponents with his wits. He quickly makes a plan how to defeat and executes it, contrasting Natsu who gets random Power Ups and Erza who overpowers her opponents often with no explaination
- Ikki Tenryou in the Medabots anime, which has a surprisingly-well-developed sense of tactics for a Mons show. Left to his own devices, Metabee would be stuck in a vicious cycle of Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh..., but Ikki keeps him out of trouble. Ikki likes to use the terrain, such as exploiting a nearby fountain to douse an electricity-wielding opponent and make her electrocute herself, or tricking a heavily-shielded opponent into chasing Metabee over a dune, allowing Metabee to shoot at his legs from below and ignore the shields.
- In the early releases, C'mon Digimon and Digimon V-Tamer 01, this was how humans earned their keep in a world full of monsters. Later entries into the franchise would change this to monsters "evolving" due to human emotions and thus partnering to humans to get stronger. The protagonists of Digimon Tamers would try to come up with tactics, but fail more often than they succeeded, the supporting adult characters later becoming strategists instead. Teru Raku and Masuken Kana of Digimon D-Cyber, Yuu of Digimon Next and Toma of Digimon Savers were strategists but were overshadowed by emotional idiot heroes who simply relied on evolution. Digimon Xros Wars seemed to go back to humans earning their keep by being tacticians angle but then reintroduced evolution and a spotlight stealing idiot hero named Taigiru.
- In Brave10, Yukimura is always considering the long-term future of Ueda and trying to manipulate things to ensure its peace and safety. However, once he meets Benmaru, he realizes the kid might be even a better strategist then him.
- In one issue of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, the antagonists want to permanently get Swampy out of their hair. So what do they do? They pay Evil Genius extraordinaire Lex Luthor an obscene amount of cash to merely describe a machine that will sever the elemental's connection to Earth—and it works like a charm.
- Batman often serves this role in the Justice League of America, being the only one without superpowers and usually the only one with common sense. Most of the Bat Family are Action Hero Strategists, though some do tend to skip the strategy part.
- In Knightfall, Bane masterminds a breakout of Arkham Asylum and allows Batman's Rogues Gallery to wear the hero down, before attacking. He effortlessly defeats him, ending with him breaking his back and forever becoming known as "The Man Who Broke the Bat". Unfortunately, adaptations usually reduce him to Dumb Muscle.
- There's a reason why Captain America is one of the most respected heroes in the Marvel Universe, aside from being the world's first Super Soldier. He's one of the world's most brilliant military strategists in history.
- Cyclops gives Cap a real run for his money. Not only a superb field commander, Cyclops is a brilliant strategist and tactician. Perhaps his masterstroke is the creation of Utopia during Dark Reign, where he completely outmaneuvers and utterly humiliates Norman Osborne and his Dark Avengers, cracks Osborne's Villain with Good Publicity standing, and exposes Osborne for the psychopath he truly is.
- This is probably the single most fearsome superpower of Captain America: The First Avenger, who is able to instantaneously formulate ironclad battle formations from split-second analysis of the situation compared with the skills of his warriors. Powerful as The Avengers may individually be, they would not have been able to stop the Chitauri from tearing every innocent civilian in Manhattan to pieces were it not for the discipline and teamwork that The Good Captain inspired in them.
- The title character in Lawrence of Arabia follows the sample plot given above very closely, except that he actively seeks out the dejected Arab rebels rather than the other way around.
- One of the oldest examples is Zhuge Liang, the ancient Chinese adviser from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He was known as a brilliant statesman and adviser both strategically/tactically and politically, and had a habit of carrying around an elaborate white feather fan—an accessory which has become a popular symbol of The Strategist in many other media. One of his most well-known stunts was Bluffing the Advance Scout—his forces were in a city that was outnumbered 60 to 1 by Sima Yi's incoming army, so Liang ordered the gates thrown open, sitting on top and playing a lute. Because Liang had never bluffed during his military career, the opposing general said Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, smelling a (non-existent) ambush.
- The Heroic Legend Of Arislan has Narsus, once a chief adviser and tactician under Andragoras, who was removed from office because he was opposed to the kingdom's practice of slavery.
- The Thrawn Trilogy: Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn's Star Wars Expanded Universe books. He later evolves into a Magnificent Bastard when the Empire crumbles after Endor, when he returns from the Unknown Regions and nearly crushes the New Republic single-handedly. The same trilogy also has the very good strategist Garm Bel Iblis, who left the official Rebellion to fight the Empire with his own group after Bail Organa died and Mon Mothma seemed like she was gathering too much power. Eventually, thanks to Han and Leia's efforts, he joined the New Republic.
- War and Peace:
- Deconstructed in Pfuel, who believes that there is a mathematics to war, a theory that guarantees success if only its postulates are followed. He has no tolerance for any deviations from this mathematics he's envisioned, despite the fact that plenty of other characters with actual war experience know that war isn't that clean. The Austrian general Weyrother thinks he's this, but comically isn't.
- Tolstoy had a bit of an ax to grind against officers of German extraction, which also becomes evident in his treatment of Barclay de Tolly (the general and minister of war who had basically created the Russian army that fought in 1812; he came from the German community of the Baltic provinces of Russia, although, as the name shows, he also had Scottish forbears) and Clausewitz. Also, it is not as if Pfuel (aka Phull) did not have actual war experience, he had served with the Prussian army in wars since the late 1770s.
- The Zombie Apocalypse novel World War Z features a South African character named Paul Redeker, whose cold-blooded logic got him kicked out the government. When the zombie threat begins to rise, he is (literally) dragged back in, and comes up with an effective but brutal method for preserving a nucleus of government.
- The first Warworld book has a story called The Deserter, about a legendary strategist who is being sought by the protagonist because The Empire is losing their desperate war with the Sauron Super Soldiers. But the titular deserter would rather stay and keep his home planet (where his family lives) from fragmenting and balkanizing in the wake of the Empire withdrawing all their troops, so he fakes his own death, with the protagonist's reluctant complicity.
- Subutai in the Conqueror books; he initially draws attention by helping Khasar and Temuge in a brawl. This draws the attention of Genghis Khan, who decides to reward Subutai helping his brothers by putting him in command of an arban. He comes up with several clever plans during the Mongol attacks on Xi Xia and Chin, and by the time Khwarezm has been taken, he is the second most respected man in the nation. Apparently Subutai was this in real life, too. By the time the Mongols invaded Europe he was 65 years old and so fat he could no longer ride a horse—so the Mongols loaded him into a cart and carried him to the battlefield, because they knew he was worth more than any number of horsemen.
- The Art of War is basically a manual of how to be this trope.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Tywin Lannister is no slouch at this either; once he learns not to underestimate Robb Stark, his planning turns out very well, and he does a pretty good job of clearing up a lot of the mess left behind by the war.If only he could bring himself to see Tyrion's potential, he may well have ended out on top. It might be fair to say that Robb is a great tactician—he's a better battle commander than Tywin, and would likely come out on top in a simple military campaign. But Tywin dances rings around him when it comes to grand, continent-wide "foreign" policy and macro-strategy. Which is why he beats him in the end.
- Rincewind. It is attributed to cowardice, but he often shows more sensible tactical thinking than people who actually want to be in a fight and approach it without delicacy.
- General Tacticus is described as a great military tactician (in fact, on the Disc, the word "tactic" comes from his name). Later military thinkers from the same region consider this cheating.
- Annabeth in Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus. The girl's motto is "always, always have a plan". Kind of a given, since she's the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle strategy, y'know.
- In The Princess Bride when Inigo and Fezzik are reunited, Inigo wants to find Vizzini and have him plan a way to break into the castle, so that he (Inigo) can kill Count Rugen. However, Vizzini is dead. Then Inigo realizes the Man in Black must have out-thought Vizinni, and "a man who can do that can plan my castle onslaught any day!"
- August from Of Fear and Faith plays this role when the party defends a fortress from a massive army of Nichts. Between his strategy and North and Phenix's fighting ability, they manage to drive the horde back without any casualties. At least until Fear shows up.
- When August is unavailable during the next arc, Aiden fills this role instead and does a good job of it as well. Considering his limited resources compared to what August had available, he might even be better at it.
- Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games.
- In Dragonlance the Golden General Laurana is the brains behind almost all of the Whitestone Council's victories during the War of the Lance. She devises the plans which win the battles at Icewall Castle, and the High Clerist's Tower, after which she is given command of the entire Whitestone Army and leads it to repeated victories over the numerically superior Dragonarmies, destroying five separate enemy armies and liberating all of northern Solamnia.
- While Honor Harrington initially gains renown as a tactical genius with other Manticoran officers primarily concerned with strategy, when the war against Haven finally ends and Manticore and its allies find themselves facing the massively larger Solarian League, the allied political and military leadership is surprised when Harrington reveals that she had been thinking of the possibility for years and has developed the grand strategy they immediately adopt to survive and win a war with the largest and most powerful entity in human history.
Live Action TV
- In the Firefly episode "Ariel", Simon is this, masterminding one of the crew's most profitable heists of the show's run. Not only does he come up with The Plan to sneak into a high-security Alliance hospital and make out with a king's ransom in expensive meds, he spearheads the theft itself and adjusts their tactics when faces with the inevitable obstacles.
- Game of Thrones: Robb appears to be turning into this as, within one day, he manages to sneak up on Jaime Lannister, distract Tywin, defeat Jaime's army in the field, and capture Jaime, which provides Robb with an extremely valuable hostage. Subverted in that he is not only thinking up the plans, but is also leading his men and becoming very physically involved with the war.
- In one episode of Magnum, P.I., Magnum plots an ingenious scheme to help a Russian track star defect and reunite with her lover.
- Charlie Eppes's mathematical anticipations of the deeds of evildoers in NUMB3RS might count. He's not the one who comes up with the team's plans, but he is the one who figures out the plans of the Bad Guy of the Week.
- Zack Taylor from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is typically the team's tactician, and splits secondary Smart Guy duties with Trini Kwan.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation features an entire race of these, who have such a reputation for strategic skill that they have never actually fought a war. Worf instantly points out the Fridge Logic in this.
- And then on Deep Space Nine Worf himself becomes "Strategic Operations Officer," a.k.a. "Reason To Have Worf On This Show."
- In a deleted scene in the second season of Heroes, Kaito Nakamura is revealed to be capable of instantly seeing all the variables in a given situation and predicting the outcome.
- Babylon 5:
- Lord Refa is a murderous villain, but he is admittedly brilliant at strategy, correctly interpreting intelligence on the Narn's fleet's major strike and planning a trap of his own. However, he is later manipulated into opening a dozen other fronts at once when they have no chance of winning them all.
- Captain John Sheridan is regarded in universe as arguably the greatest tactical mind of his generation, and also shows a keen mind for both military and political strategy, that allows him to play both ambassadors and his enemies like puppets.
- The 100 sees Clarke quickly establish herself in this role, first among the 100, then among the Grounders and the other Ark survivors.
- Bobby Heenan was known as "The Brain" partially for this reason. As a manager, he would often give sound advice to his clients during matches, allowing them to achieve victory. One of his short comings was that he would often get too excited and bark out orders too loud.
- In Ring of Honor, Stokely Hathaway hung around Moose for this reason. Moose being a big, powerful, agile football player had all the tools to succeed except experience.
- The Dynasty Warriors series of games (based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms), has a number of strategist characters that has expanded into an ensemble as the series has gone on:
- Shu has Zhuge Liang, Pang Tong, Xu Shu, and Fa Zheng.
- Jiang Wei, true to history, tries to be this but fails pretty miserably.
- Wu has Zhou Yu, Lu Su, Lu Meng (sort of), and Lu Xun.
- Wei has Guo Jia, Jia Xu, and Xun Yu. In Wei's hypothetical route in 8, Xu Shu also defects to Wei.
- Sima Yi was the 'main' strategist for Wei until the Jin faction was introduced, after which point this role was taken by Guo Jia and Jia Xu.
- Jin has Sima Yi and Jia Chong.
- Sima Yi's sons Sima Shi and Sima Zhao both have an almost innate understanding of tactics, though each with their own flaws. Shi is inflexible, and Zhao is lazy.
- Among the "Other" characters, Chen Gong served as Lu Bu's strategist even as a generic NPC. As of 8: Xtreme Legends, he's been upgraded to a full character and takes a more prominent role as this.
- Shu has Zhuge Liang, Pang Tong, Xu Shu, and Fa Zheng.
- Similarly, Samurai Warriors has several:
- Tokugawa Ieyasu grows into one as he becomes a more skilled general, masterminding his eventual rise to power, culminating in his planning of the Siege of Osaka, ending the last Toyotomi threat to his rule.
- Father and son team Mori Motonari and Kobayakawa Takakage are shown to be so prodigiously talented that they can hold their own against Toyotomi Hideyoshi himself.
- Takenaka Hanbei and Kuroda Kanbei both count and act as another strategist team.
- Shima Sakon for Takeda Shingen, and then Ishida Mitsunari.
- Takeda Shingen was feared for his cunning in battle.
- The Suikoden series of games has at least one strategist per game, whose help the Kid Hero must seek out. The Silverbergs are a notable family of strategists who have helped shape the history of the games. Lucretia Merces, the advisor for Suikoden V, dresses in robes and often carries a feather fan (perhaps as a Shout-Out to her spiritual predecessor, Zhuge Liang). She's also the only strategist in the entire series with no known connection to the Silverberg family at all.
- Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade has the player him/herself taking on this role, with the characters directly adressing and asking him/her for advice. Of course, the player refrains from battle and only directs others. Jagen in Mystery of the Emblem, August in Thracia 776, and Soren in Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn also have this role. The customizable Avatar in Awakening also performs in a similar capacity, and his/her initial class, which can use both swords and magic tomes, is named "Tactician".
- The Avatar's child can also use the same class, and is a student of tactics and wannabe strategist anyway.
- Virion is a gifted strategist, even able to defeat the Avatar in wargames. However, his style typically has much higher costs in terms of dead allies and would be unsustainable in a real-life conflict; as such, he happily leaves the business of tactics and strategy to the Avatar.
- This was Oifey's in-story role, aside of being a Tagalong Kid, in the first half of Genealogy of the Holy War. In the second part, however, he has taken a Level in Badass as well.
- The lore of the Pokemon games is a world of Spirited Competitor and Blood Knight monsters where humans earn their keep through superior technology and providing tactics to win battle. In practice, most trainers just raise one monster to a high level and slaughter all opposition until it runs out of energy. Pokémon Black and White combated this practice by making experience gain proportional to the level of the monsters battling, making raising a monster's level much higher than the opposition a very time consuming process, making more players rely on tactics.
- The first Advance Wars game does something similar, casting the player as a "special advisor".
- Myth 2: Soulblighter has you find The Deceiver, an enemy from the first game. He is responsible for a number of seemingly insane plans which both radically improve your side's power and cripple the enemy.
- The original Valkyria Chronicles has Welkin Gunther. Who knew a guy who prefers to spend hours watching and drawing animals and plants could make use of his vast knowledge of nature to transform a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in a Badass Army?
- Commander Shepard of Mass Effect is considered this by reputation; depending on the background, s/he could have single-handedly lead an impromptu defense against an army of Space Pirates, single-handedly survived a Thresher Maw on foot, or have lead an army of soldiers into a successful suicide Zerg Rush victory. In-game, s/he is praised by his/her squad mates and superiors for being an excellent leader, though that comes down to the player's skill, especially in the second game when you take on the suicide mission. In the Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3, notorious and egotistical criminal warlord Aria T'Loak justifies putting herself under Shepard's command by saying his/her tactical skill is the reason she brought them along.
- In Yggdra Union, Bly is a textbook example. He refuses to go with the Royal Army because he's too old for war and travel, but his granddaughter Mistel goes with you in his place. The Imperial Army has Nessiah, who also serves this role in Blaze Union; Mistel and Nessiah are both more than willing to take to the battlefield and participate in achieving victory.
- In Mitsumete Knight, Meehilbis of the Ghosts is the strategist of the enemy mercenary brigade, Valpha-Valaharian ; he's so skilled, even when he loses the battle he personnally fights in (even eventually losing his life by your character's hands), he manages to pull off a master Batman Gambit that decimates one third of Dolphan's army, making this battle a Pyrrhic Victory for Dolphan.
- In Sengoku Basara, we have Hanbe and Kanbe, strategists of the Toyotomi army (since their boss is better at punching than thinking). Kanbe also has the dubious honor of being titled "The Inadequate Tactician". Otherwise, Kojuro comes up with most of the Date army's strategies, and Motonari is more known for his genius than for his fighting skills.
- In StarCraft 1 and its expansion pack, Brood War, this is what the player character is. During mission briefings you will routinely be spoken to directly, with Raynor, the Overmind, Fenix, and Kerrigan being particularly fond of doing so. While most of these 'characters' are never referenced outside of your role as them, if you look deep enough into the lore, it becomes clear that your character in the original Protoss campaign is Artanis (a hero unit in BW and SC 2) and that in BW you play as Selendas (another SC 2 hero).
- In-universe, Listrata from War of Omens is this. As of this update, she has faced a dozen or more enemies, and has beaten them all.
- Thel 'Vadam(ee) was considered one of the most dangerous members of the Covenant for this very reason. One of the few advantages Humanity had against the Covenant during the war was how the latter stubbornly refused to use innovative tactics against the former, relying on the sheer technological edge and overpowering legions. Thel 'Vadam was among the few leaders in the Covenant who ignored this handicap by matching/often surpassing the human strategists with unpredictability, leading to multiple victories against them, and he likely would have been one of the driving forces behind humanity's extinction if he hadn't pulled a Heel–Face Turn. This is even more impressive when one realizes the Sangheili race he's a part of usually ostracizes traits like innovation and creativity, yet he managed to develop them on his own.
- On the human side, Admiral Preston Cole is considered one of the main reasons why humanity lasted as long as it did against the vastly superior Covenant; he never lost a major battle, and his battle record is considered even more impressive than those of the Spartan-IIs.
- As leader of the Inquisition's military, this is Cullen's job in Dragon Age: Inquisition. In particular, he advises the Inquisitor about how to successfully breach the defenses of Adamant Fortress, and personally oversees the effort to bring the battle to the Venatori in the Arbor Wilds.
- In Koihime†Musou, the core strategists of the three kingdoms, Koumei (Shoku), Shuuyu (Go), and Jun'iku (Gi), are key to their nation's success. This is far more apparent in the games than in the lighthearted anime adaptation.
- Erfworld centers around Parson Gotti, who was teleported to a world based on turn-based strategy games to serve as "the perfect warlord" to a Evil Overlord who is badly losing a war. This was most greatly illustrated in a strip where Parson essentially paraphrases Sun Tzu's The Art Of War.
- The Order of the Stick: Redcloak serves this purpose for Team Evil; Xykon isn't as stupid as he appears at first glance, but he's too lazy and impulsive to actually plan things out, so he leaves that to Red. The best example is probably the Battle of Azure City, where Redcloak not only averts Hollywood Tactics, but actually gains the villains a victory.
- Tarvek in Girl Genius is temporarily placed in command of the Wulfenbach forces after identifying a treacherous unit just by looking at the military map while on the way to the cells. Because they aren't complete fools, his decisions are assessed by other strategists and 23 weapons are trained on him at all times.
- RWBY has the leaders of the main cast, Ruby and Jaune, though they're more tacticians than strategists. Both quickly grasp the tactical situation, form plans to work according to their advantages and counter possible threats. They're perfectly aware of the capabilities of their teammates and are able to properly coordinate them into achieving feats that can give them the upper hand during an encounter.
- Pretty much the role of generals in The Salvation War, with General of the Armies David Petraeus being the KING of them all. It is notable though that his strategic maneuvers are straight out of the U.S. Army playbook; unlike his real-life role in counter-insurgency, in TSW Petraeus is simply applying established doctrine in unfamiliar circumstances rather than creating any radically new concepts. Notably, though, unlike some other examples, he's clearly a strategist, not a tactician; Author's Word has it that he's very good at that, but that's not his role and primary concern. In fact, in TSW, Petraeus is never seen to be carrying a weapon or on the front lines.
- Toward the tail end of Kickassia, after the idea of summoning Dr. Insano goes about as well as one could expect, Linkara is called upon to determine an actual strategy to defeat the Nostalgia Critic.
- Skitter from Worm is definitely this. She has won fights against capes way out of her league simply by being very good at using the abilities of herself and everyone else on her side.
- In Noob, Heimdäl is Justice guild's leader and strategist, a trait seen mostly in the novels. The novels also state that Arthéon was another of Justice's strategists before his Real Money Trade incident. Arthéon puts these talents in use as leader of the Noob guild in all three media, but his expertise gets balanced out by Noob being a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits of which he's the Only Sane Man.
- Bad guy example: Thrust from Transformers Armada was summoned to Earth about midway through the series to lend his tactical skills to the Decepticons. Unfortunately, it didn't help much. Although a few of his plans would have worked, if not for a bit of Deus ex Machina in the Autobots' favor.
- Before him, there were Obsidian and Strika in Beast Machines, described by Rattrap as the two greatest generals in Cybertronian history.
- Gorilla Grodd "watches lots and lots of TV" in order to enact his Divide and Conquer plot on the Justice League. It nearly works but his strategy doesn't include immediately finishing them off. This is actually pointed out by Clayface Martian Manhunter that this would always happen in some of the movies he would do. Grodd of course waves him away saying how there's no way it could happen...
- Kenny is this in the South Park episode "Best Friends Forever"; he proves so adept at a PSP real-time strategy game that Heaven recruits him to lead angelic armies against the hosts of Hell.
- Sokka on Avatar: The Last Airbender definitely graduates into this by the start of Book 3, when he comes up with the plan to invade the Fire Nation. Throughout the series, when the question "What's The Plan?" comes up, the Gaang inevitably turns to Sokka.
- There are of course lots of real-life examples. But the Talpiot Project is one of the more interesting. It is almost a Real Life version of Battleschool.
- Contrary to popular belief (which does not mean educated), Stonewall Jackson was a strategist bordering on Guile Hero. He believed that "If [his own men] don't understand what [he's] planning, the enemy will never figure it out." And they never did. This is the man who inspired the phrase "Crazy like a fox".
General Hooker: "Jackson's movement, if not an accident, was eccentric and reprehensible, as no-one would be justified in anticipating its success. The movement was an unheard-of one, and under the circumstances, admitted not a ray of probability of successful execution. 99 chances out of a hundred, General Jackson's Corps would have been destroyed. It is for such movements that Jackson will ever be considered an unsafe person to place in command of armies."
- This is a quote from the commander of the Union Army:
- Note, Hooker is the general that lost. Jackson's strategy in this battle resulted in General Lee defeating 135,000 men with a force of only 65,000 (about 2-to-1 against).
- That is because Lee and Jackson had Nerves of Steel, and were able to press forward with their strategy effectively. While Hooker had (to make an unfairly hyperbolic but revealing comparison) nerves of pasta.
- While many have dismissed another American Civil War general, Ulysses Grant, as being limited to only We Have Reserves, he was in reality a handy strategist. His battles in the Eastern Theater of the war and during the Vicksburg Campaign would not have been won just by using raw numbers of troops, no matter what his critics like to say.
- As listed above in the Dynasty Warriors entry, the Three Kingdoms era had many, though several famous figures are either overhyped or flatout misrepresented in fiction. Notably, Zhuge Liang was a pretty terrible commander and strategist. His two military achievements are having an army surrender to him after his two flank commanders defeated most of it already and "capturing" two counties Cao Cao had purposefully depopulated in order to create a buffer of dead land to make invasions from Hanzhong more difficult to launch and to make a success. He also engaged in harmful cronyism, favouring his political allies over genuinely skilled commanders like Wei Yan.
- Wei had many. Most notable were Sima Yi and Jia Xu. Cao Cao himself was a highly accomplished commander who helped revive the then unpopular Art of War, providing an extensive annotation. Guo Jia died fairly young, but was well respected regardless. In later years, Deng Ai was a major force on the Western front with an uncanny ability to predict and intercept enemy movements through his excellent knowledge of terrain.
- Wu had Zhou Yu and Lu Meng among others. While Zhou Yu was instrumental in Sun Ce & Sun Quan's campaigns that lead to the founding of Wu, he died before Jing province could be settled. Lu Meng's lack of scholarship was so notorious he was known as "the country bumpkin of Wu" untol Sun Quan encouraged him to take up studying. He then soon became one of Wu's most respected scholars and added tactical genius to his already incredible military ability. He was notable for winning battles without even fighting. Most notably, he took all of Liu Bei's holdings in Jing from Guan Yu without a single pitched battle or active seige.
- Shu did have some good strategic men, but they died fairly young and longer-lived commanders have been given this reputation by popular fiction. Zhuge Liang, as noted above, was an almost unmitigated failure. His "disciple" Jiang Wei was perhaps worse, if only by virtue of launching even more campaigns against Wei. While Xu Shu did recommend Zhuge Liang to Liu Bei, he never served him in any capacity and the battle with the "Eight Gates Formation" in which he supposedly defeated Cao Ren is pure fiction. He also never rose high in Cao Cao's regime not out of refusal to craft stratagems, but just because he wasn't all that good at his job. Pang Tong is almost certainly overhyped, but Liu Bei's Yi campaign ground to a complete halt with his death, so he was evidently skilled. Fa Zheng likewise died on his first proper campaign, after tricking one of Cao Cao's greatest generals into an ambush and killing him.
- Yuan Shao had several notable advisors. Perhaps the best was Tian Feng. His ignored advise is said to have been astonishingly accurate, though this may be an exaggeration after the fact. Chen Gong was Lu Bu's chief strategist, though not highly skilled. He had achieved only a middling position in Cao Cao's army and was generally regarded as being too slow in formulating his plans.
- Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the man who earned his agnomen "Africanus" by beating Hannibal at his own game and turning his own strategy against him. Nuff said. One might call Julius Caesar this as well.
- The Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, The Lion of the North, revolutionized warfare in the 17th century with both strategy and organization. He instituted permanent units, assigned a fixed chain of command, and established a philosophy of cooperation among all combatants. Instead of independent action by many different parts, the entire Swedish army now united to fight as a single team. Gustavus's use of supply lines and bases and his integration of infantry, cavalry, and artillery enabled him to form the first truly professional army in military history. Among the many people who studied him as a role model to follow militarily were Napoleon, who quite obviously is another example of this trope.
- Subutai, one of Genghis Khan's "dogs of war", used his strategies and skill as a commander to conquer more territory than any other commander in history, even coordinating attacks on Poland and Hungary, within two days of each other, from five hundred miles away. This was centuries before the telegraph.
- The Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley. Fought all but one of his battles (Vitoria) outnumbered, sometimes drastically, yet never lost a battle, defeated Napoleon, retook the entirety of the Peninsula, commanded the Allied armies and even deprived of almost all of his veterans (they had been sent to colonial outposts worldwide or fell into the category of Retired Badass) stalemate Napoleon who had many more soldiers, mostly veterans and more artillery. Also, a large portion of the army, the Dutch-Belgian contingent, weren't too keen on fighting the French and left, as well as the Heavy cavalry being stupid (as per usual: they were largely composed of variants on the Blood Knight and Upper-Class Twit) and mostly getting slaughtered after refusing to retreat after a successful charge. And he still held on for an entire day until Blucher arrived with the Prussian army. And he often had to deal with his political opponents in both Spain and London. A complete Four-Star Badass.
- It's not a coincidence that Napoleon had an age named after him, the man fought and won most of his wars against all of Europe.
- Even better: as detailed in the Eroica entry, Napoleon's first claim to fame saw him having been kicked out of the army (even if not for political reasons but for refusing to serve as infantry general when he was from artillery) and being recalled into service because he was already known as capable and the Convention had nobody competent around.
- Otto von Bismarck, Prussian Magnificent Bastard qualifies for engineering wars against Habsburg Austria, Denmark, and France, each time manipulating the other side into being the aggressor. The purpose of these three wars? To bring the various scattered Germanic states together into a unified nation.
- Speaking of Prussia, Frederich the Great probably is this as well.
- And Carl Von Clausewitz, author of On War. His first claim to fame was to study Napoleon's strategies and tactics (that he had experienced on himself, having fought Napoleon at Jena and being captured when the Prussian army was annihilated) and use them to reform the Prussian Army and put in theory what Napoleon had improvised. His second claim to fame, detailed in the Eroica entry, was the Trachenberg Plan, the strategy he created with Austrian general Radetzky that led to Napoleon's armies being sufficiently weakened in numbers, firepower and morale to be utterly crushed at Leipzing. Other claims of fame came from the battle of Wavre, where he ridiculed Napoleon's general Grouchy by keeping him busy and away from the battle of Waterloo (where Grouchy's men would have been decisive), and On War, that, while incomplete, is pretty much the Big Book of War of Europe.
- Erich von Manstein was Nazi Germany's best strategist, devising the Fall of France and numerous battles on the Eastern Front.
- Admiral Fyodor Ushakov was one of the best fleet commanders in the Russian Imperial Navy. How good was he? He never lost a battle or a ship in his entire naval career, despite frequently facing the Turks who had superior numbers and firepower. Lord Nelson used some of his tactics to win the Battle of Trafalgar. Not that Nelson would admit it, had he survived. In fact, Nelson was so intimidated by Ushakov, he earlier got him sent to Egypt instead of having Ushakov direct the siege of Malta as the more senior admiral. Unfortunately, the new Tsar didn't appreciate Ushakov's skill and had him Kicked Upstairs .
- Imperial Austria had Joseph Radetzky. How good was he? Well, do you remember the Trachenberg Plan detailed in Clausewitz's entry above? Well, he was the mind behind it, Clausewitz was working for him. Later, in his seventies, he was the Austrian commander-in-chief in the First War of Italian Independence, and, outnumbered, outgunned and deprived of his forward base at Milan by the city's rebellion, he outmanouvered the Sardinian-led coalition until it dissolved under its political difficulties, at which point he fought decisively and won.
- Giuseppe Garibaldi. If someone was fighting for freedom, he was there. His greatest claim to fame is the Spedizione dei Mille (Expedition of the Thousand), that is conquering a kingdom with a thousand men and a strategy that had previously failed miserably against the same enemy:
- the strategy was to land in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and cause a pro-Italian Unification insurrection, as tried by Carlo Pisacane a few years earlier resulting in the people lynching the patriots instead of rising in rebellion. Pisacane, who was barely known had landed near the capital of Naples, where the government was relatively well-liked, and had been stupid enough to free some convicts to increase his group's numbers. Garibaldi instead landed in Sicily proper, where the people hated the government, and, being Garibaldi, those who were about to attack the mysterious men anyway waited long enough for him to explain why he was there, at which point they rose in rebellion because Garibaldi asked them. After which Garibaldi's small army waltzed around Sicily, increasing their numbers through Sicilian volunteers and defections from the government's army, conquered it, and landed on the mainland, continuing to defeat the government armies and increase his numbers through defections. The last battle was between the last twenty thousands demoralized men of the Two Sicilian army and Garibaldi's force of thirty thousands...
- Admiral Yi Sun-sin of the Kingdom of Korea is in a 2-man contest with Horatio Nelson for the position of "greatest naval commander of all time". During the Japanese invasions of Korea, it was solely thanks to Sun-sin's mastery on the waters that the kingdom was saved, despite political infighting including a Japanese plot that saw him tortured and reduced to the ranks. After his replacement squandered Korea's fleet with his incompetence, the Korean court hastily reinstated Yi Sun-sin and, despite his fleet being reduced to only 12-13 ships, he took on a Japanese fleet of 300 ships and smashed it with his tactical genius. When the Japanese attempted to retreat from Korea, Yi met them in one final battle, his fleet now around 150 ships (thanks to Chinese reinforcements) but now facing 500 Japanese ships. This time, he annihilated them. Ironically, much like Admiral Nelson later would at Trafalgar, he fell in the battle when he was mortally wounded by a stray bullet, dying in his finest hour. In his career fighting the Japanese over the course of the 7-year war, he fought 23 battles and lost none (comparably, Nelson only fought 13 recognised battles in his 35 years of service and only 8 were decisive victories). He is still regarded as Korea's greatest hero to this day.
Admiral Togo: (Upon being compared to Admiral Yi) It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal.