As a class-based shooter, every character in Team Fortress 2 has a fixed set of equipment and abilities, and a role to play in propelling the team to victory. Each class is distinct in looks, personality, and accent, and has a set of weapons and equipment unique to them.
- Offense Classes
- Defense Classes
- Support Classes
- Non-Player CharactersClick to Expand
- Team Fortress Classic Click to Expand
- Action Girl: All the named women in the series seem to be tough ladies, perfectly capable of putting a bullet or blow through any skull they feel like.
- Affably Evil/Faux Affably Evil: Entirely dependent on whether or not you're on the winning side.
- A Lighter Shade of Grey: When fighting Gray Mann and his private army they are more or less presented as the "heroes" in comparison.
- Anti-Villain / Anti-Hero: Almost universally Noble Demon / Nominal Hero (With the exception of the Medic ). The Mercs are by large violently murderous and property destroying, but they genuinely care about their families and friends, try to avoid implicating civilians in the Gravel Wars, and are universally shown to be much better than either their employers (Who they have no allegiance to, and simply perform the jobs for money.) or the truly repulsive Gray Mann and TFC team. Soldier and Pyro in particular would qualify as tragic villains, considering their very severe mental illness if the game didn't entirely have it be Played for Laughs.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: What we know of most of the histories and personalities of the Mercs suggests that they've made huge mistakes in the past that has resulted in them taking any job they can get. They're apparently the laughing-stock of the mercenary world.
- Mann Co is specifically stated to automatically hire the lowest bidder regardless of ability; this is especially obvious in the case in the case of Soldier who is depicted as either homeless or a squatter, and Sniper lives in a camper van. On the other end of the scale, Demo lives in a mansion, Medic has access to expensive medical equipment and black market organs, and Spy drives a Ferrari and spends thousands of dollars on his suits alone - but they would still be the lowest bidder for their classes.
- Ax-Crazy: Some more than others, but that's why we love them!
- Badass Boast: A mercenary holding a melee weapon, facing an enemy, and using the Battle Cry voice command (C -> 2) will give one.
- Badass Crew: See Band of Brothers below.
- Badass Transplant: Their hearts, otherwise they wouldn't survive an ÜberCharge.
- Badass Normal: This is a setting with wizards, robots, and Saxton Hale. The mercs are none of these and somehow manage to come out on top every time.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Then Halloween comes around, and everybody starts slinging spells around.
- Band of Brothers
- Battle Cry: Each class has a few, and everyone yells at the beginning of a round.
- Because I'm Good at It: Most mercenaries who feature in the interview-style "Meet the" videos offer this justification for why they do what they do. Even the "Meet The Spy" video can be considered an inverted version of this trope.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Some of the cast can be considered very amiable, polite, and even charming, but every one of them is said to be among the most dangerous people in the world.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: They're all mentally ill or of dubious morality, but all of them are very good at what they do.
- Carnival of Killers: See below.
- Cast of Snowflakes: It's uncommon to see a First-Person Shooter with five classes distinguished by anything more than different weapon loadout, let alone nine, viable, completely distinct classes. The amount of work this took to balance could (literally) be summed up as "1 year for each class." According to the game's commentary, the characters were deliberately designed so that they could be distinguished from one another simply by their silhouettes.
- Comedic Sociopathy: All nine classes segue into comedic sociopathy quite often, but most commonly when they dominate an opponent.Medic: Can you feel the schadenfreude?
Scout: He-hey, look, you shapeshifted into a dead guy!
Pyro: AH HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Heavy: I am amused by entire eetty-beetty-teeny team!
- Also, the Schadenfreude taunt, introduced in the Über Update, allows anyone to take joy in the misery of their enemies. Or your own teammates.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Many of them, although rarely Played for Drama.
- Heavy's father was murdered by Joseph Stalin in the purges for being a counter-revolutionary, and him and his family was thrown in a Gulag, where he witnessed the brutal death of a sparrow, and is heavily implied to have escaped and freed all the prisoners from the Gulag by torturing and killing every single guard before burning down the place.
- Medic is Ambiguously Jewish, and was part of a long line of Mad Scientist doctors in Germany when the Nazis came to power. His backstory isn't entirely known, but it couldn't have been pleasant.
- In his initial pre-Retcon backstory, Demoman was abandoned by his birth parents as a young age, and killed his adopted parents and lost his eye in the process.
- Soldier was not allowed into military service, and instead chose to fly to Europe to personally kill Nazis, despite the war being over, and was implied to be a hermit who spent 4 years killing random innocent people.
- Depending on the Writer: When comparing the game, official videos, and supplementary comics, the classes (and NPCs) can be written somewhat inconsistently:
Saxton Hale: You work with exceptionally subnormal men. Defectives. Drunks. Sex criminals. War criminals. I'm fairly certain four of them can't even read. Men like that don't get high-end jobs. They get your jobs.
- In general it's not always clear on whether the Mercenaries are high-class and really good at their jobs, or got this job because they're desperate for money, nor is it clear how well they're paid. (see also the Informed Flaw entry)
- Scout: Totally immature in his attitude towards girls? Or madly in love with Miss Pauling and barely able to talk to her without stammering?
- Soldier: His stupidity and battle capabilities vary wildly, from a Cloudcuckoolander who's a bit dim, but still an excellent killer, to The Load, completely useless and brain-damaged. Which is surprisingly consistent with gameplay on a meta level...
- Pyro: "Meet The Pyro" claimed that Pyro sees fire as sparkles and rainbows, and is oblivious to the damage they are causing, but "A Cold Day In Hell" has them intentionally mauling a Smokey Bear Expy to death after it insults fire.
- The Engineer seems like an amiable Texan old boy, but there are scenes both in Loose Canon and his eagerness to chop off his own hand to attach the Gunslinger, which hint that he's not much more stable than their other resident genius.
- Sniper: A Friendly Sniper who's humble about his talent, a Cold Sniper who's sociopathic towards the others, or an arrogant showoff with no sense of hygiene?
- Spy: Deadpan Snarker and Only Sane Man, or immature and secretly incredibly goofy?
- Medic: The Heart of the team who puts himself in harm's way to protect his colleagues, or a sociopath who cares only about himself? Does he see his fellow mercenaries as friends and colleagues, or merely as disposable lab rats for his experiments?
- Miss Pauling: Aware of Scout's crush and deliberately ignoring him, or genuinely potentially interested, but doesn't have the time to date?
- Everyone also flip-flops on just how much they like one another. Sometimes they're friends, sometimes they're indifferent, or even willing to kill each other if need be.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Each class has this to varying degrees and in different ways. This means that players tend to get attached to a single class that they've become good at, and new players expecting their FPS skills from other games to transfer to TF2 end up disliking or even hating the game because they're not immediately good at it.
- Diminishing Returns for Balance: Generally speaking, too many of one class on a team is going to make the match tough to win, or turn it into an outright bizarre experience. Classes like Medic and Sniper get hit so hard with this that a game can become nigh-unwinnable, Soldier and Demomen teams become awkward but still possible to perform well, and Heavy and Engineer can either end in a hilarious defeat or victory like a coin flip.
- Distinctive Appearances: Directly invoked, where Valve sought to make each class instantly recognizable by just merely their silhouette and uniform color.
- The Dreaded: The citizens of Teufort know them as the Teufort Nine, a mob of armed maniacs blowing up all their landmarks in a seemingly pointless rampage. They're so reviled that the town is quick to celebrate that they caught two of the nine and get to sentence them to public death.
- Everyone Calls Them Barkeep: Nobody calls each other by their real names in-game, but some of the mercs have pet names for each other. Demoman is called "Demo" by pretty much everyone (Including Ms. Pauling), Medic is often called "Doc/ Doctor" by Heavy and Scout, while Engineer is called "Engie" by everyone, and "Hardhat" specifically by Scout, and "Truckie" by Sniper.
- Evil Laugh: Every class has a few for dominating, revenge, and getting multiple kills. They also all have a Schadenfreude taunt (mentioned above).
- Face Death with Dignity: During "Expiration Date" they all take the news that they have three days to live incredibly well, almost to the point of apathy.
- Family-Values Villain: When they're not on the job, many of the mercs try to be this, handing out human molars and inordinate amounts of blood money to trick or treaters, defending Smissmas shoppers from inhuman monsters, escorting unarmed noncombatants through deadly robot hordes, and helping children to conquer their fears through teaching them to commit murder.
- Demoman is an interesting case. He lives with his blind mother so he can help take care of her. His mum however knows full well what his job is and actively encourages it (after all, it's been in the family for generations).
- Fire-Forged Friends: As much as they complain and demean each other even while off-duty, they mostly enjoy working with each other and reveling in the chaos they all bring. The finale of their feud with Team Fortress Classic even has the entire team (save for Engineer) grouped together with (mostly) nothing but pride and joy to be by each others sides.
- Given Name Reveal: Through canon comics, web-videos and even examining maps, we have:
- Scout: Jeremy
- Soldier: Sergeant-Barrister Jane Doe
- Demoman: Tavish Finnegan DeGroot
- Heavy: Mikhail ("Misha" for short)
- Engineer: Dell Conagher
- Medic: Mr. Ludwig Humboldt
- Sniper: Mick Mundy/Mun-Dee
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath
- Hired Guns/Only in It for the Money: They're Mercenaries.
- Hypocrite: Several of the RED team mercenaries are appalled by Pyro's methods, referring to him/her as a "thing" and a "freak" in "Meet the Pyro". However, they see no problem with killing their opponents in other violent, painful ways using bats, heavy artillery, bonesaws, etc.
- Improbable Weapon User: There are a number of all-class weapons (as well as some class-specific weapons) that one might not consider a weapon. Many are promotional items, like a hand-held video camera, ham on the bone, and even a human spine.
- Informed Flaw: Interestingly, while their sanity (or lack of) isn't questioned, they have been described as "mostly having below-average IQ's" by Miss Pauling, and as "idiots" by Helen the Administrator, though each of them later displayed smarts ranging from Genius Ditz to Ditzy Genius level, probably factoring in the "emotional stability" part of IQ amongst others. A later comic shows why she holds them all in such disdain: She believes them to be just like the lead poisoned idiots of Teufort, while Miss Pauling has secretly been providing all of them with bottled water, save Soldier, who didn't bother listening to her warnings.
- They are see as the laughingstocks of the mercenary profession implying that they're really bad at their jobs. While they do show incompetency from time to time (specially Soldier and Scout.) A lot of the time they're extremely effective, especially in the Meet the shorts.
- In Harm's Way
- In-Series Nickname: "The Teufort Nine" by the citizens of Teufort.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Feeling bad for the people of Teufort for having to live with the mercenaries would be understandable... until you actually get to know the people of Teufort, that is.
- Laughably Evil
- Large Ham/World of Ham: Just about everyone in the game, but especially Gary Schwartz, the voice of the Heavy and the Demoman.
- "HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! CRY SOME MOOOOOOOORE!!!"
- "THERE CAN BE, ONLY OOOOOOOOOOOOONE!"note
- The Leader: Zig-Zagged. While Miss Pauling acts as this whenever she gets involved, it's not really clear who's the leader of the team itself. As the Face of the game, Heavy is portrayed as the one whom the other characters rally around in battle. However he doesn't really give orders. Spy is shown as something of an Only Sane Man but is rather self-absorbed.
- Soldier likes to think he's the Leader but it's been made clear that the other Mercs find it easier to humour him since he's completely insane and not exactly smart.
- In gameplay, if anybody listens to anybody else at all it tends to boil down to either competence, or the willingness to take charge, although Medics and Heavies do frequently end up being rallied around.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A considerable number of the lines used in Valve's competitive matchmaking casually references the 6v6 format, like Demoman claiming he watched the scrim of the other team, and Heavy (not used in 6s outside of last point holds) claiming it's not his usual job.
- Legacy Character: Judging by the Engineer Update and its comics there have been at least three of each mercenary - a hidden picture in the Engineer update shows a retconned version of the Team Fortress Classic in World War I-II versions of their uniforms, and another shows the TFC BLU Engineer letting his son (Dell Conagher, the current BLU Engineer) try on his goggles. As of A Cold Day in Hell, the classic team have canonically appeared in the TF2 universe as a band of older mercs brought out of retirement, cemented by the catch-up comic explicitly naming them as the predecessors of the modern team.
- Multinational Team: Let's see, we have three Americans (of varying regions), a Russian, a German, an Australian (actually from New Zealand), a Scotsman (a Black Scottish Cyclops no less), a Frenchman, and... The Pyro.
- Never Learned to Read: Four of the Mercs are stated to be illiterate, but it's unclear which ones and to what degree.
- It's worth remembering that people who are ashamed of their illiteracy can go for years undetected by learning little tricks such as pretending to read books, repeating what they know to be written, and correctly guessing from pictures the reading matter of books and instructions. They can even be quite intelligent in many other ways.
- Also, at least three are from non-English-speaking nations, and may not have been taught to read English (the presumed working language of RED and BLU). In particular, the Heavy, could be an expert in Russian literature (the subject of his PhD) and still need to be referred to as illiterate.
- Nice Hat: Many of the unlockables qualify for this.
- Valve likes to describe the genre of the game as hat simulation.
- Nominal Hero: Even factoring in their inherent insanity and skewed morality, they're still a lot more redeemable than Gray Mann or the Administrator.
- Odd Friendship: Medic and Heavy, but also Pyro and Engineer. Personality-wise, they don't initially seem like they'd get along, but they work perfectly in and out of battle.
- Offing the Offspring/Self-Made Orphan: Can occur between the Spy and the Scout, respectively.
- Only Sane Man: Spy is implied to be the most mentally stable member of the team, although you can't forget what he does for a job. Heavy and Engineer could have applied but one of them names his guns when he's not enjoying killing people a bit too much, and the other has sawed his right hand off.
- Open Secret: All those poorly hidden, barely disguised spy bases that RED and BLU occupy? Civilians are very well aware that many farms and industrial zones are just fronts for these hi-tech bases, and sometimes workers like to take their lunch breaks to stand at the edge of the Mercs combat zones to watch them all fight over these lands.
- Private Military Contractors: All of the Team.
- Professional Killer: Whether the team is professional in the "gentlemen" sense of the word is... well... debatable, (See directly below), but the team does what they're paid to, and they do it very well. Best summed up by the Engineer's quote to a rival Medic:"I'm a killer of men, Doc. That's the God's-honest truth."
- Psycho for Hire: Even the sanest of them enjoy slaughtering their enemies and causing mass destruction way more than a stable human should, though some in particular — especially Soldier, Pyro, Heavy and Medic — are far worse than the others in this regard.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Off the clock, the villains are jovial, genial, generous, and kind even to their enemies, albeit in their own VERY odd way. This is taken to its ultimate conclusion in Mann vs. Machine's co-op mode and its attendant comics.
- Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Especially with the Schadenfreude taunt.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: All of them.
- Red Baron: Their Reporting Names aside, they're also known as the Teufort Nine by the locals who watch them brawl.
- Real Men Wear Pink: The Halloween 2012 event gave us The Magical Mercenary, where the characters can act like pretty pink unicorns when they wear it, except Medic and Pyro. Best not think about it much.
- Reporting Names: On the games launch and for much of its lifespan, you'd only know each character by the name of their class. Supplementary material has gradually revealed most of their true names, but ingame characters will still call each other out by their classes.
- Resurrective Immortality: Thanks to the Medic sewing together his and his teammates' souls in order to cheese a Deal with the Devil, the entire team is able to return from death unscathed. The only way they can be killed off permanently is merely through old age.
- Required Secondary Powers: According to "Meet the Medic", every class had to have special heart implants in order to use the ÜberCharge. In the case of the Heavy, his heart had to be replaced with a much larger one after his first heart exploded from the power of the ÜberCharge implant.
- Serial-Killer Killer: Essentially why despite being evil they are actually on the morally gray. They are mercenaries and assassins who are primarily tasked to capture objectives and secondarily eliminate other mercenaries and assassins who are in the way. They usually avoid dragging civilians into this and even then they either become a spectacle to behold like in Double Cross at best or it just ends in a non-lethal brawl at worst.
- Sixth Ranger:
- Miss Pauling often joins (or leads) the mercenaries in their shenanigans, especially in "Expiration Date" and Team Fortress Comics.
- After hooking up with Soldier, Zhanna chooses to tag along with the mercenaries after "A Cold Day in Hell", often assisting Soldier with whatever he does.
- Saxton Hale himself, along with his old flame Mags, joins the mercenaries to fight the robots and the Classic Team in "The Naked and The Dead".
- Skewed Priorities: These guys are only kind to the people they like, so you'd better hope they like you. Excluding the people mentioned here, they also don't give a crap about who they kill or even whether they might die, just so long as there's money to be made and fun to be had in the offing.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Not just the Soldier. They all enjoy killing their enemies and making fun of them, and revel in their jobs.
- Sore Loser: Everyone has something demeaning to say to the whole team if Sudden Death is issued, never blaming themselves, and vent their outright in seething anger. In their humiliation poses, everyone has a comically meek surrender pose, and in the case of Spy and Pyro, outright shameful expressions for the loss.
- So Proud of You: In the Meet Your Match Update, a few lines said by the mercenaries will congratulate the player for ranking up in Competitive Mode, with an uncharacteristically friendly and praise-filled attitude they almost never show to anyone else.(Scout) "You earned it, bucket-of-chicken pal! You earned it! Don't let nobody take it away from you!"(Soldier) "Son, whatever third-world stink pile you actually live in, today you are an American!"(Demoman) "Ack, I knew you could do it!"(Heavy) "You make Heavy proud!"(Engineer) "Son, I never said this to anybody before, but I am damn proud of you!"(Sniper) "You're better than the best, mate. You're a Sniper."(Spy) "I am not easily impressed, and yet you have impressed me!"
- The Soulless: Medic sold his soul to the devil, stole the other classes' souls, and had them surgically implanted in himself to fleece the devil. He also wound up getting the devil's pen out of the deal, so good for him.
- Spell My Name with a "The": They're referred to this way by the blog and other website materials, but all dialogue (in-game and in the comics) lacks the articles.
- Superior Successor: Due to the technology transition lost in Australia, medical quality that was supposed to keep the first Team Fortress alive suddenly dropped. Having them didn't cut it for Mann Co. anymore, since there are no more methods of bringing them back to life when they are killed off. The modern Medic is able to find a solution around this by making a Deal with the Devil, selling his own soul, then immediately sewn his body with the souls of his other teammates, rendering himself and his entire team physically unkillable. Though they can still die by agenote .
- Surrounded by Idiots: With the possible exception of the Soldier, the entire team is put in this position due to the people of the nearby town of Teufort having been rendered a pack of sociopathic idiots from generations of drinking tainted river water.
- Team Pet: Many of the classes have an equip-able Shoulder Pet of some kind:
- Scout: Chucklenuts (A Squirrel).
- Soldier: Compatriot (a bald eagle), and Lieutenant Bites (a rabid raccoon). Lt. Bites also has a zombie counterpart named Lieutenant Bites The Dust.
- Pyro: The Balloonicorn, and its holiday counterpart, the Reindoonicorn (which is recolored to look like a reindeer).
- Demoman: The Bird-Man of Aberdeen (a macaw, although one of its alternative skins makes it look like a cockatoo instead), and its zombie counterpart, Polly Putrid.
- Heavy: The Red Army Robin (a baby robin).
- Engineer: The Pocket Purrer (a black and white kitten), and Ein (a goggles-wearing canary).
- Medic: Archimedes the dove, and his robotic and zombie counterparts Mecha-Medes and Archimedes The Undying.
- Sniper: Sir Hootsalot (an owl), and Cobber Chameleon (a chameleon).
- Spy: The Backstabber's Boomslang (a snake).
- All-Class: Dead Little Buddy (implied to be the ghost of a dead child), and Guano (a bat).
- Title Drop: According to Miss Pauling, their designation actually is "Team Fortress". Turns out it's to follow a theme with other mercenary teams that are apparently out there, such as Team Vanguard, Team Echelon, and Team Citadel.
- Three Approach System: The 9 classes fit into one of three roles as shown by the separated pages above.
- Scouts, Soldiers and Pyros are Offensive classes, being the main attack force of their teams.
- Demomen, Heavies, and Engineers are Defensive classes, aiming to inhibit enemy access and to hold enemies back from vital points on the map.
- Medic, Sniper, and Spy are Support classes, who cannot hold the fight on their own, but their specialised abilities can tip the balance in their team's favour.
- Trash Talk: All classes except the Pyro (who could be trash-talking but could also just as likely be discussing the weather or reciting T. S. Eliot) are capable of this, especially with their domination quotes. Highlights include:Sniper: Too slow, medicine woman!
Spy: So your deadly skill is jogging? Mine is murdering people!
Soldier: Scotland is not a real country! You are an Englishman in a dress!
Heavy: YOU ARE SO SMALL! IS FUNNY TO ME!
Scout: Dude, you get a closed casket at the ugly cemetery!
Demoman: Ya great lactating wet nurse!
Engineer: Shoot, son, you all slow as molasses.
Medic: Would you like a second opinion? You are also ugly!
Sniper: I'm runnin' out of places to put holes in ya!
- More domination lines!
Spy: I'm looking at your x-ray and I'm afraid you suck!
Soldier: Your mouth wrote checks, my gun has cashed them.
Heavy: The burning you feel? It is shame.
Scout: You're like a car crash in slow motion. It's like I'm watchin' ya fly through a windshield!
Demoman: That's a right pretty bra-washer ya built, you big ugly girl!
Engineer: Didn't your mama ever teach you not to play with matches?
Medic: Oops, zat was not medicine!Scout: Yeah, I dare ya, rage quit. C'mon, make us both happy!
Spy: Well, off to visit your mother!
Soldier: You cannot burn me! I'm already ablaze with passion, for war!
Demoman: Little too much caber-tossin' pie down yer own throat, eh, chubby?
Heavy: I promise you, pain without end.
Sniper: Gotcha, ya pot-bellied lardass!
Engineer: Gotcha, fat boy!
- Trigger Happy: Especially the Heavy.
- True Companions: A very strange example, but an example nonetheless.
- Unscrupulous Heroes: Each team member has a few people whom they care for dearly and a few spare standards, but otherwise won't think twice about doing dirty deeds for high prices. The single redeeming trait these otherwise sociopathic maniacs have in common is that they wholeheartedly care for their families, loved ones, and pets.
- Even non-player character SAXTON HALE has revealed that despite his obvious testosterone poisoning, he just doesn't have it in him to beat up a little girl.
- Villain Protagonist: The comics show the civilians of Teufort see them as destructive maniacs, and it's hard to argue with them. To the point that they quickly put Scout and Spy on death row once they're finally caught in "Ring of Fired.", fair trial be damned.
- Wild Card: The Mercs will work for the highest bidder, but express disgust and regret at the idea of directly harming a friend.
- Zigzagged: the comics series repeatedly shows they care little about each other as anything more than co-workers. The Soldier breaks the Scout's arms (and killed Tom Jones) for no reason. The Pyro cuts off one of the Soldier's hands because he pushed him, the Demoman wanted to leave the Sniper behind, the Sniper wanted to torture and kill Miss Pauling and Demoman, and she also injected him with poison when he captured her to prevent him from doing so. Thankfully for morale, none of them seem to be able to stay angry at each other for too long.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: All of the mercs, so far. Even Saxton Hale, Testosterone Poisoning incarnate, refuses to fight a young girl, even if the fate of Mann Co. hangs in the balance. Grey Mann uses this against him to wrest control of Mann Co. from him.
- You Have Researched Breathing: A Running Gag with three of the classes who have.. er... "hats". The "Ritzy Rick's Hair Fixative", "Texas Slim's Dome Shine" and "Baseball Bill's Sports Shine" hats are simply the Sniper, Engineer and Scout without their hats.