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- Damage: These characters are the damage contributors to the team. Many characters have some form of mobility to help them get around the battlefield, while others excel at denying the enemy from getting close. Ultimates are designed to either kill you directly or make sure another enemy kills you in the process. Prior to June 2017, this category was two separate categories: Offense and Defense; they were merged due to players often using Offense heroes in defensive situations, and vice-versa.
- Tank: These characters are extremely survivable, and have two key goals: protect their team's "squishies" and mess up the enemy's plans. They will first protect their teams with barriers or their own bodies, then either engage the front lines at close range or dive into the enemy backline to pick off weaker foes. Their Ultimates excel at ruining positioning, shutting down pushes or setting up enemies for their allies.
- Support: These characters focus on boosting their team's efficiency. While individually fragile and vulnerable, they aid their teammates with much-needed healing, protection and combat buffs. Their Ultimates are varied but impactful, be it by saving their team from a wipe, allowing allies to reenter battle quickly or aiding them in taking foes down.
- Tank Heroesnote
- Damage Heroes
- Support Heroesnote
In-Universe Fictional Characters
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Tropes Shared Across Many or All Playable Characters
- Artistic Age: Overwatch is inconsistent at making characters look their age. Sometimes a justification is given (Mei's cryostatis, Mercy's medical technology), but not always. In general, the male characters tend to look older than they really are, and the female characters tend to look younger.
- Badass Bandolier: A number of playable characters have bandoliers of ammunition or grenades, such as Reaper and Junkrat.
- Badass Baritone: Many (if not most) of the male characters in the game sport deep voices, and have the potential to be very dangerous in the right players' hands.
- Badass Boast: Every character has an in-game "on-fire" meter that fills the more you deal damage, heal, or otherwise contribute to the team, and getting past a certain threshold will prompt most of them to give one, usually including the lines "I'm on fire!" More specific examples can be found on their respective character pages.
- Badass Crew: Every playable character is capable of kicking ass in their own way.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: In the Horizon Lunar Colony map, anyone can go outside the air-locked doors out into the surface of the moon, where the only condition in effect is the low-gravity.
- Bilingual Bonus: In general, when an enemy character uses their ultimate ability then they will announce it in their native tongue, as opposed to when a friendly character uses their ult and announces it in English. In addition, sometimes characters will speak various foreign phrases at random times during the match. Mei uses Mandarin Chinese, Genji and Hanzo use Japanese, Mercy speaks German, Zarya in Russian, etc. Notably, Mei even quotes a couple of lines of Tang poetry note . There are exceptions though, mainly limited to the voice actors' inability to speak the language. Reinhardt, Torbjörn, Pharah, Zenyatta, and Orisa only speak English despite being German, Swedish, Egyptian, Nepalese, and Nigerian, respectively. Lúcio and Symmetra originally couldnt speak their native language but an update added lines for them in Portuguese and Hindi respectively.
- Camera Abuse: Several Heroes have unique intro videos that cause some kind of damage to the camera (McCree, Hanzo, and Roadhog for example).
- Deadpan Snarker: Every character (with the obvious exception of Bastion and Hammond) has a sardonic quip or two in store, either for their allies or enemies.
- Dysfunction Junction: Many of the playable characters are deeply flawed, and nearly all of them have some form of tragedy in their backstory (to varying degrees of "tragedy" — Bastion, Reinhardt, Reaper, Ana, Mei, Widowmaker, Genji and Hanzo, and Soldier: 76 are the standouts).
- Foil: Many of the Heroes contrast one-another. To the extent that it has its own page.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Cinematics have shown many of them using abilities that they aren't capable of in gameplay. (Ex. Tracer blinking vertically, Genji's dragon blade redirecting Hanzo's dragons, Sombra's Translocator having a longer charge than 20 seconds.)
- Heroic Ambidexterity: Some heroes fight with both hands but primarily fight with their right-handed weapon. Reaper duel wields a pair of shotguns, Roadhog fights with a shotgun and hook, and finally Doomfist fights with his gauntlet and hand cannon. Played straight with Tracer, who fights by dual wielding a pair of pulse pistols, and Moira, whose Biotic Grasp has two functions, one for each hand.
- Highly Visible Ninja: Those capable of doing so can crouch, masking their footsteps, making it possible for several insanely colourful characters to sneak up on enemies for a rear ambush.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: At least every hero has one, and even the fairly "normal" weapons like McCree's revolver (It can be fan-fired with no noticeable damage to the gun!) or Soldier: 76's rifle (Underbarrel rocket launcher!) are just over-the-top enough to fit in the Overwatch-verse.
- Infinite Supplies: Don't expect anybody to run out of ammo, fuel, power, or anything else they use during the fight, although they do require time for stuff to be reloaded or refilled.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: They all shout certain lines when using their ultimates. Logically, this trope tends to happen. (except to Zenyatta and Doomfist who become invulnerable when after activating their ults.)
- Limit Break: Each Hero has a unique Ultimate ability that is charged up slowly over time and charges faster when healing or inflicting damage. Once the Ultimate is used, the meter drops back to 0% and has to be charged up again.
- Meaningful Name: Most of the characters have names that clue in on their abilities, their personalities, and occupations. While some characters go by their nicknames or callsigns, this also applies to their real names as well.
- Multinational Team: Many different nationalities are represented in Overwatch - justified in that it was an international organization.
- National Stereotypes: While all of them are fleshed out individuals, some of the cast fit their stereotype more clearly than others.
- The Cockney Brit is silly and easy-going.
- The Japanese brothers are ex-Yakuza honorbound ninjas.
- The Americans are all "damage" types that rely on guns; three of them being ex-military and 6'1", and half of them being cowboys.
- The Korean is a hardcore Starcraft player.
- The Chinese girl has a cute, sweet demeanor and deals with climate change.
- The Indian is very philosophical and incorporates traditional dance in her hard-light construction methods, and is a savant who sees conformity and hard work as the only path to greatness.
- The Frenchwoman is a Femme Fatale.
- The Russian is a Husky Russkie.
- The Brazilian is a laid back party animal, loves music, speaks in "hip language" and can move fast.
- The Aussies are crazy career criminals who live in a post-apocalyptic Outback.
- The German is a walking wall of steel and a fan of Hasselhoff.
- The Nepalese (robot) lived in a monastery in the mountains and seeks enlightenment.
- Of course the medic is Swiss: that's where the Red Cross came from.
- The Swede father-daughter combo are good at assembling things, the father is a Viking dwarf while the daughter is a tall, muscular young woman.
- The Egyptians mother-daughter combo sport Eye of Horus tattoos and come from a line of noble warriors. The daughter has armor based off Horus and/or Anubis while the mother is a desert sniper that peppers her dialogue with Arabic.
- The Mexican is a Spicy Latina with a rebellious streak.
- One of the Nigerians is a militant Scary Black Man. The other is a robot that has a lot of resemblance towards animals from African wildlife.
- The Irish speaks very poetically and has an otherworldly, fey-like appearance in both her looks and her scientific abilities.
- The Haitian grew up as an orphan under terrible living conditions.
- No Ontological Inertia: Played straight with most abilities and Ultimates. Permanent things like turrets, orbs and teleporters disappear if the character is swapped out. For the most part, abilities end when a character dies as well, with some exceptions:
- Killing Junkrat after his Rip-Tire is out does not stop it from coming.
- Mei's robot buddy is the one that creates the Blizzard that freezes enemies, so killing her does nothing.
- Killing Hanzo won't save you from his spirit Dragons, unless you can stop him from firing the initial arrow.
- Hanzos Sonic arrows will also still let you see through walls even if he dies after firing it. This also used to go for Widowmakers Infra-Sight, until it was adjusted in 2019 to deactivate once she dies.
- Nothing created by Symmetra or Torbjorn will disappear until the object is destroyed or the character is swapped out (if the character is killed, the item does not disappear unless the player changes heroes).
- Before her Season 6 rework, Mercy's Resurrection ability continued even if she was killed immediately after its use.
- Orisas shield remains deployed after her death.
- Not So Above It All: Every character, even the most dead serious of them, gets a dance emote from the Anniversary event. Aside from that, emotes for certain characters also invoke this (ex. Doomfist's "Fake Out").
- Orgasmic Combat: Averted for the most part, but the burning sounds added to every hero with the Torbjörn rework patch sound very sensual, barring Lúcio's.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Most of the characters have one or two lines that they always shout just before activating their ultimate ability. This usually serves the purpose of giving enemies a chance to react, as a sort of subtle variant on Calling Your Attacks.
- Raised Hand of Survival: The Halloween event added a new victory pose for every character. Each character has a hand sticking out of their Overwatch grave, with a few exceptions (such as Hanzo, who appears content to stay in his grave), and with various items around the tombstone itself.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The roster runs the gamut from idealistic and cynic.
- On the highest end of idealistic, you have characters like Tracer (an upbeat and chipper hero always striving to do good), Winston (the gorilla who comes off as more human than much of the cast, and revives Overwatch as its leader), Mei (an Adorkable climatologist seeking to save the world), Lúcio (all-around good guy and freedom fighter with approval of all but the villains), and D.Va (pro gamer turned mech pilot who always looks out for the betterment of others).
- Somewhere in the middle is McCree (former smuggler who was drafted into Overwatch after capture, but became a true hero), Genji (former good guy who was almost killed by his own brother, then made into a cyborg where he was a bloodthirsty warrior, and then finally found peace with himself), Bastion (Omnic made into a killing machine during the Crisis, woke up many years later and found a love for nature), and Mercy (orphaned medical prodigy who became an Overwatch hero, but left on bitter terms, yet she still fights on regardless).
- On the lowest end of cynical, there's Reaper (lives in constant agony and torment from his genetic issues), Roadhog (had his home taken away from him, helped turn it into a radioactive wasteland, and became a psychopath), Junkrat (had said home taken away from him at the age of five), and likely the most cynical of the whole roster, Widowmaker (once an innocent woman before being tortured and brainwashed to kill her own husband, then made into a murderous psychotic assassin).
- Superhero Packing Heat: Probably the biggest reason why the word "superhero" is never used in-universe despite being so heavily influenced by it is the fact that the vast majority of characters use guns.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: A few characters really don't like the fact that they are on the same side during game play. Reaper gets this the most, especially with Soldier 76. Lúcio and Symmetra will get into debates between Law vs. Chaos, due to Lúcio fighting against the Mega-Corp that Symmetra works for. Mei and Tracer have a dislike for Junkrat when the latter asks to check out her bomb and the former because she sees him as a bully. The Shimada brothers still show hostility after their fight. Hanzo will challenge Widowmaker to a duel, or decline an offer to join Talon. Tracer and Widowmaker also have some in-game dialogue showing their dislike of a team up.Widowmaker: It looks like we will be working together.
Tracer: Don't think I'm happy about that.
- Other characters seem to have this with Sombra, but she seems more amused than anything else, and even needles a couple characters with personal details.
- There Are No Therapists: Zenyatta was able to help Genji with his issues, but Zenyatta is more of a spiritual teacher than a therapist. Meanwhile, many other characters (Ana, Soldier:76, and Hanzo for example) could REALLY use some therapy, but such assistance is either unavailable or the characters are unlikely to seek it out if it is available.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: Nobody can use anything other than their own weapons and equipment.
- Victory Pose: At the end of a match, the winning team will stand together in a V-Formation Team Shot. Apart from the default standing pose, every hero has several optional victory poses that are more dynamic or expressive to choose from once unlocked.
- Vocal Dissonance: Since equipping different skins doesn't change a character's voice, side from adding a couple lines, this can crop up with some Legendary skins. For example, a Genji with the Sparrow or Young Genji skins will retain his robotic-sounding voice, while a Reaper with the Reyes skin will keep the rattling, echoing baritone. Not to mention Soldier will always sound old and worn out no matter if you have his young Jack skin or his daredevil skin.