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Archer Archetype

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"See him riding 'cross the plain
See how everybody fears his name
He's working for the good in
The mountains and the wood
Protector of the lame
Straight arrow is his name"
Spirit, "Straight Arrow"
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Archers are skilled bowmen. Generally independent and used to working alone, this tends to make them practical, a little haughty or arrogant and not the best at following orders, especially from those they don't respect. Due to the nature of their weapon, archers are typically stealthy and graceful and tend to fight at a distance. As a result, they're often portrayed as vulnerable to close-quarters combat unless they switch to a different weapon.

Archers are most likely to be found in a wild, untamed setting and can share traits with the Cold Sniper, most notably an analytical and calculating nature. This archetype tends to be depicted as having a more slender build despite the great upper-body strength required to draw a powerful bow without mechanical assistance note . These characters are likely to also be The Chick, a Nature Hero, a Forest Ranger, and/or an Elf. This also has the benefit of keeping the delicate female safely out of the bone-crunching melee.

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Ironically, the nature of of your typical bow meant that, historically, archers were actually big, strong, and powerful, as a bow often required both a great deal of strength and extensive conditioning to use properly. In fact, most archers could be very effective in melee, and the main reason they didn't prove as effective in close combat was because they didn't have the money to afford the heavy armor or the lifetime of combat training that an elite warrior aristocracy could manage.

This trope is distinct from Master Archer, which describes a character who is an extremely skilled archer; the Archer Archetype may be no more than competent — it's the independence and association with wilderness that define the trope. For bows used in modern or scifi settings, see The Straight and Arrow Path. For added irony, check out No "Arc" in "Archery". See also Annoying Arrows. May evoke comparisons to Robin Hood. (Though if he robs the rich to give to the poor, that's a different trope.)

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Not to be confused with the comedy show Archer, nor the recurring character title in the Fate Series.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: The Quincies are modelled on the Teutonic Knights but favour archery over anything else. Ichigo's foil, Uryuu, is a tall, thin, aloof Quincy with a highly analytical fighting style, as is his father, who is the foil of Ichigo's father. The Vandenreich has adapted the Teutonic Knight themes to Nazi themes, militarised and now use any suitable weapon, but they still retain their archer natures; all their weapons can fire arrows, even if they're swords. Hollow Taint is a soul-poison to Quincies; ranged attacks are therefore a life-saving necessity for them.
  • Rei/Sailor Mars of Sailor Moon gains a bow and arrow made of flames in the fourth season. She's a calm, mystical miko, rather than the typical temperamental fire warrior (in the manga at least, the anime makes her more Hot-Blooded), although she occasionally made bids for the leadership (losing out to The Fool, at that).
  • Gamaran has the Nakaizumi Ryuu (Hidden Spring School) which is composed by skilled archers. Their leader Arata went close to kill the titular character with his arrows. Another bow-wielding character is Ippi Shibano of the Muhou Ryu. While Arata represents the "good" traits related to archers (he's calm, really dedicated to his style, cool-headed and, unlike many archers, really muscular), Shibano is the "evil archer", a cowardly and cunning sniper who relies on surprise attacks and poisoned arrows.
  • Kikyou from Inuyasha is a good example. She travels alone and is a little cold. As an archer, she is portrayed as a perfect shot and can deal devastating damage with her sacred arrow, an arrow surrounded with spiritual power that is basically a nuke. She is a little on the slow side, however, and is much more powerful long ranged than close ranged.
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO!GO! has Cure Aqua with her new finishing move Sapphire Arrow, summoning a water bow and a water arrow. Cure Aqua is also stated to be the Cure of Intelligence and she's usually being both The Lancer AND The Smart Guy in the group, keeping her calm most of the time.
  • Cure Aqua's Expy Cure Beauty from Smile Pretty Cure! has the ice variant of this, which is also her strongest attack, called Beauty Blizzard Arrow. In civil, she practices Aikido and hits the bullseye most of the time. And like her predecessor, she's calm and analytical, considered as the 'brain' of the group.
  • Fuu Hououji of Magic Knight Rayearth. She's The Spock of the trio, analytical and calmer than Hikaru and Umi (who are more likely to jump into things or get pissed off). She's also in the archery club at school and borrows a bow and arrow from Presea. The "archer" part goes away after the Spring of Eterna, when they all get swords, but she retains the weapon in the Sega Saturn game.
  • Yue from Cardcaptor Sakura shoots arrows made out of pure energy, and has a very cold personality, at least initially. His alter-ego, Yukito is also accomplished in archery, but has none of the associated cold or callous personality.
  • Prince Ashitaka, the protagonist of Princess Mononoke is a skilled swordsman and hand-to-hand fighter but his REALLY badass feats are performed with his bow. He's a calculating fighter, but subverts the trope thanks to his messianic hero complex.
  • Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is the star member of the school's archery club and is definitely cold and calculating (initially, anyways). That said, she subverts the "weak at close range" stereotype, as the muscle she built up from constantly using a bow led to her victory during the Student Council's arm wrestling tournament (along with having a black belt in both akido and judo).

    Comic Books 
  • The second Green Arrow and the second Speedy (Mia Dearden) in The DCU are both calm and level-headed. (Their predecessors, Oliver Queen and Roy Harper being more charming rogues.)
  • Marvel Comics has a number of archer characters as well:
    • Clint Barton (The first Hawkeye) fits the analytical and not-following-orders-well parts of this trope but actually averts the calm levelheadedness by being a constant joker and often the team Heart for the Avengers.
    • Kate Bishop (the Hawkeye of the Young Avengers) is calm and level-headed.
    • Oxbow, of the First Line in Marvel: The Lost Generation, is a fairly huge subversion of the norm; he's tall, super strong, easily angered, and not much of a braggart.
  • In Marvel's G.I. Joe series, Storm Shadow is considered the greatest archer, even using it back when he was a GI in the Vietnam War. This is the one martial art where even Snake-Eyes could not equal or surpass him. Like most ninja in that series, he is enigmatic, aloof, self-assured, and rather irreverent at times. Zartan is the second-best archer, though he used various sonic detection devices to hit distant targets blindly. http://obsessionarchery.blogspot.com/2013/02/archery-terms.html
  • The rebellious Robyn Hood has trouble following orders, and even trouble asking for help. As a result she tends to operate as a lone wolf character. She is also a skilled archer.
  • Wonder Woman: Artemis comes off as cold and aloof, especially in her introductory chapters before she'd befriended Diana, and is a very independent character who will rebel against authority she hasn't chosen herself. She primarily wields a bow and arrow, but, unlike the usual archetype fighting her up close is more of a disadvantage for whoever was dumb enough to try, she's an expert warrior among expert warriors and that giant axe she lugs around isn't just for show.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has Roam. He's arrogant, he's a loner, and he's a crack shot with a crossbow.

    Fan Works 
  • Minor character Nyvan, the bowman who (unknowingly) tries to kill George (George is a peregrine falcon at the time) and later tries to ambush John and Ringo while they're hiding near the jump gate in Boidan Valley. Although he never gets any dialogue of his own, he's quite the talkative ignoramus when he's not actually stalking anything, according to George, Theecat, and Chana (his cousin).
  • Forum of Thrones:
    • Janae, the main archer for the Gutters, is a prime example for this. Even outside of the battlefield, she is hardly the most emotional person, but in a fight, she gets even colder, acting simply by logic and with ruthless precision.
    • Also, Willfred's uncle, Roger Hill. He is far more friendly than Janae, but when in battle, he becomes calculating, analytical and careful, thinking with caution about his plans before making his shot.
  • A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: Beren has been practicing archery since he was a toddler and stealth guerrilla warfare since he was a teenager. Skulking around the woods, shooting Morgoth's minions from afar and disappearing amongst the thicket was his routine for ten years. And he is not humble about his marksmanship.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Aguilar uses a bow and arrow during his and Maria's escape from the Templars. Callum naturally acquires Aguilar's bow skills through the Bleeding Effect and makes full use of them during the breakout after acquiring Connor's bow. Both of them are suitably coolheaded and focused as per the trope.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen relies on her bow to hunt, survive, and lead. She has strong and independent survivalist instincts due to her difficult past and is good at thinking outside the box. She is not socially adept and has a hard time making friends due to the emotional strain on her life which has made her hard and cold. She is usually very logical.
  • In Musa (a.k.a. The Warrior), Jin-lip, the veteran sergeant of the envoy, uses a bow to deadly effect. Jin-lip is the most competent member of the envoy and its de facto leader. He subverts an archer's typical behavior in one scene where he inspires his unit to attack by being the first one to charge toward the enemy, loosing arrows all the way.
  • Legolas in The Lord of the Rings has an incredible rate of fire with his arrows, and even uses the point-blank (though the Extended Editions also showed him with long knives). This is even an exaggeration of his skill over his depiction in the books. Like all elves in the films, he's elegant, graceful, and a bit snooty.
  • Gwyn in Princess of Thieves. Scarcely surprising given she is the daughter of Robin Hood. Independent, stealthy, graceful, a Nature Hero, and incredibly skilled with a bow and arrow.
  • Hawk the Slayer: Crow, in keeping with the elf stereotype, is a deadly arches who's small, slim, graceful and has no discernible close-combat skills. Subverted though with Ranulf, a craggy middle aged human who wields his automatic crossbow with great accuracy (one-handed to boot). Neither one of them ever misses a shot.

    Literature 
  • Dawn Drummond-Clayton from the Bunduki novels by J.T. Edson. Bunduki himself is also an expert with the bow, but is more likely to get into melee combat than Dawn, and Dawn is definitely the more analytical of the two.
  • Katniss is definitely this in The Hunger Games. She's a masterful archer who relies on her bow to hunt, survive, and lead. Katniss has strong and independent survivalist instincts due to her difficult past and is good at thinking outside the box. She is not socially adept and has a hard time making friends due to the emotional strain on her life which has made her hard and cold. She is usually very logical.
  • Princess Anghara, aka Indigo, from Indigo specializes in the crossbow and conforms to the arrogance (in her past as a princess), slender build and isolation (her only true companion is her wolf and she is set apart from others by being cursed with immortality, until she defeats all the demons she released).
  • Catti-brie, of R.A. Salvatore's The Legend of Drizzt books, was for a long time the group's specialist archer. She actually wasn't as skilled an archer as Drizzt was, but she had one helluva magic bow. She conforms to the archer stereotypes by being the group's moral center of sorts.
  • The Tale of Hōgen, a Japanese historical epic, credits an otherwise obscure samurai named Minamoto no Tametomo with superhuman feats of archery made possible by his enormous stature and abnormally long bow arm.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth stories doesn't have many archetypal archers. The only character who fits the Archer Archetype is Beleg Strongbow (The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin). He's a famous Grey Elven archer and border-ranger captain, and quite capable of taking care of himself alone in the wilderness. His training in woodcraft is excellent, and he demonstrates his stealth several times, such as sneaking up on the outlaw band and tracking them through the wild. Later he sneaks into the orc camp and rescues Túrin without alerting the orcs, after silently sniping the wolf guards one by one in the dark.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • Daine from The Immortals downplays it. Though normally The Heart and Friend to All Living Things, in battle she can be cool and collected. She also can hit a moving target in the dark. Justified as, like her Wild Magic, she gets this from her divine father.
    • In the first book of the Trickster's Duet, Sarai is headstrong and careless and uses a sword, while Dove is quiet and clever and uses a bow and arrow. Dove is the one to kill Bronau at the end of Trickster's Choice, and is much better suited to be the titular Queen.
  • In Wander, Wander is stoic and standoffish and prefers to use a crossbow, whereas themuch friendlier and more personable Dagger's weapon of choice is a hunting bow. However, they both use guns when in active combat situations where stealth isn't necessary.
  • Birgitte Silverbow from The Wheel of Time series. A literally legendary shot that is bound to the Wheel and the Horn of Valere until she ends up being "spun out" into real time by an angry Forsaken for saving Nynaeve. She has the cold analytical traits described here in spades, to such a high degree that others linked to her mind can sense her supreme focus in tense situations, and compare it to "a drawn bow aimed at the target."
  • Ness "Grey", the major narrator of Wind and Sparks cycle by Alexey Pehov. Stealth Expert and borderline Cold Sniper. Joined the army, fought against genocidal elves, first as a regular archer, then assassinating leaders far from the battle zone. Grew increasingly jaded, ended up murdering an officer for selling supplies to enemies then saying he did it for money. After he avoided being hanged (long story) and a truce was signed, he went MIA. Later became a hitman and teamed up with an outlaw sorceress, the only love of his life. By the start of the first novel they've spent seven years on the run after a particularly resonant murder. Through the cycle he participates in killing 5 Dark Overlords out of 6note . Though some survive. Unlike many examples Ness stays dangerous in melee and even unarmed. Another thing of note is the realism with which archery is depicted: bowstrings don't like water, bows shouldn't stay strung too long, bows require significant strength, elevation and wind are always accounted for, arrows are in short supply and heavy...
  • Dafydd from The Dragon Knight series. The draw strength on his bow is between 150-200lbs. The arrows can puncture the armor of the era, 1350's. He can also kill a target up to half an English mile ways, along with four others, keeping them from raising the alarm. He is also good in a melee if need be. Then there's his wife, Danielle, who is a decent archer in her own right, along with the outlaws in the band that her father, Giles o'the Wold, is the leader of.
  • Washio Sumi Is A Hero: Washio is a patriotic Ojou who likes being traditionally Japanese. She's also an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl. Her weapon as a Magical Girl is a bow.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: Gorbo's main weapon is his bow. Although he is short and stout, he is brawny enough to wield it properly. And his sharp-shooting skills are something he is definitely confident about.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Ramsay Snow is shown to be this in "Walk of Punishment", when he quickly shoots all of the guards about to rape Theon, and is a composed and cold individual. His hunting partner Myranda is also shown to be very competent with a bow in "The Lion and the Rose" and it later appears to be her weapon of choice. In "Battle of the Bastards," the only weapon Ramsay uses is his bow.
  • Arrow: The show's protagonist, Oliver Queen, is skilled with the bow, and is cold and ruthless in his vigilante guise the hood. He starts to play that part down as he tries to become less a vigilante and more an actual hero as the show progresses. While his preferred means is taking out enemies with arrows, if things get too close his bow can also double as a melee weapon. As the show goes on, more and more archers appear, largely due to Oliver's influence or as counters to him, including Speedy (his sister), Arsenal, the Dark Archer, Talia al Ghul, Prometheus, and Dark Arrow (Oliver's Evil Doppelgänger and Fuhrer of Earth-X).
  • Recycled In Space with Action Girl Dayna Mellanby of Blake's 7. Female, graceful, and rather cocky in comparison to the world-weary Anti Heroes she teams up with, Dayna is even shown using a bow and arrow in her introductory episode, because she enjoys the challenge of mastering the Good Old Ways.

    Podcasts 
  • Jemjammer has Aelfgifu the ranger, who is more closed off than the other women in the party on account of being raised with minimal human contact. Like most rangers, she primarily uses a bow and arrows.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Earthdawn naturally has a discipline for this, embodying the mentality and many of the tropes described at the top of the page. The essay on Archer discipline was in-universe written by a textbook example of such archetype - to such an extent that the crossbow-wielding archers said to be more down-to-earth complained in the marigins to Stop Being Stereotypical!
  • Legend of the Five Rings has the Tsuruchi family of the Mantis Clan. Formerly the Wasp Minor Clan, they were drawn into the alliance of Minor Clans by Yoritomo during the Clan War that was eventually formed into the Mantis, when the leader of the clan snapped his katana in half in fealty. Since then, the Tsuruchi have focused on mastery of the bow over all other martial pursuits, though most of them still retain the katana and wakizashi that are symbols of the samurai caste. They most often work as bounty hunters, either alone, or in small groups.

    Video Games 
  • The Thief stealth game series.
    • Master thief protagonist Garrett specialises in using his bow and arrows as both a tool and weapon. Mechanical or magical arrows with specialised abilities are a standard part of his arsenal. Depending on a player's shooting skill, they can be used to manipulate the surrounding environment in favour of better sneaking conditions (e.g. water arrows put out sources of light based on open fires, moss arrows cushion loud tiled floors, etc.). Though Garrett also carries ordinary arrows for self-defence or potential sniping, and has a sword or a dagger for a sidearm, he's much more skilled at being sneaky than fighting others. Hence the games deemphasize melee combat and ranged combat and encourage sneaking and clever gadget usage (including trick arrow shooting with the bow). In the original trilogy, the bow is an ordinary but powerful wooden short bow, with an attached sight forged from steel. In the 2014 reboot, the reboot's version of Garrett uses more of a modern compound bow, albeit with 19th century stylings.
  • Onmyōji has Hakurō, a skilled archer with a composed and dignified personality.
  • Trine's resident thief, Zoya, is equipped with a bow that when properly upgraded, is Game-Breaker in combat. She initially plays the personality part straight, being a lonesome, stealthy thief, but becomes more talkative as the game goes on, especially when the main party visits the forest.
  • Lamia Loveless in Super Robot Wars Advance is a calm, analytical, calculating android excelling in robot piloting, and her stats usually gears more on the ranged stat. Therefore, her main mecha, Angelg, also comes equipped with a bow, and the majority of its ultimate attacks are from its bow (Illusion Arrow & Phantom Phoenix). Though occasionally subverted that due to a bug developed in her latter stages, she could end up very hyperactive and loud unlike most of the archetypes here, but usually reverts back to her usual calm, analytical, calculating type.
  • The Fire Emblem series features bow-users as a staple class, with some of them falling into this trope more than others:
    • Sacred Stones: Prince Innes is a noted strategist who operates an intelligence network and hits all of the Jerk tropes—"aloof" is the nicest you'll get out of him, unless you're Vanessa or Syrene. One optional dialogue has Eirika telling him off for not staying in the back like he's supposed to.
    • Prince Takumi of Hoshido from Fire Emblem Fates is also very skilled at strategy and noted to be quite smart outside of it as well. He also takes the longest out of the royals to warm up to the player character (should they not outright betray him and his family that is..) and is quite distrustful and cynical in general. He can be very sweet to the few people who have earned his trust though, and secretly wishes he could be more sociable.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Shamir starts out as a Sniper, the promoted form of the Archer class. Although she's nominally a Knight of Seiros, as a former mercenary she treats her position in the organization as just another job and doesn't let her personal feelings get in the way.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Nathaniel in the Awakening expansion - he's one of the more stoic party members, has a very dry sense of humour, most of his companion gifts are practical items and he supports some of the more pragmatic story decisions.
    • Dragon Age II has Varric (although he uses a custom crossbow named Bianca) and Sebastian, both calm and level-headed archers who subvert the trope slightly in that Varric is a smooth-talking urbanite and Sebastian possesses a stubborn vengeful streak.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has Varric returning from II, but also gives us Sera, who is both female and an elf, but beyond that is a brash, rough-speaking, boorish, uncouth prankster who belongs to the Friends of Red Jenny, a loosely-defined group from previous games that Inquisition rejiggers into Fantasy.
  • There are a lot of ranged characters in Suikoden III but Roland and Jacques fit the trope to a tee. Both start with a rune that allows for a powerful ranged attack and both are deadly marksmen who keep themselves to themselves and say very little.
  • League of Legends:
    • Ashe is deadly with her bow, and has a serene and calm disposition. She can even launch a hugeass arrow that travels all the way to the edge of the arena and her play style, as a Marksman, is more about staying behind the lines and pelting her enemies with frozen arrows.
    • Varus is a very straight example. Before becoming cursed Varus was a stoic and disciplined warrior and considered his kingdom's greatest archer. Post-curse he retains his aloof personality and gains a demonic energy bow.
  • Ashe's predecessor in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, Traxex the Drow Ranger, also counts. As a marksman, she's about pelting the enemies with her frozen arrow and keeping them away for maximum result (thanks to her Ultimate, Marksmanship, which grants her bonus agility to increase damage, just as long as there's no enemy heroes around her). In Dota 2, Traxex displays a cold but precise personality befitting her archer nature (unlike some like her Foil, Lyralei/Windranger).
  • Mortal Kombat has Nightwolf who could manifest a bow and arrow out of spirit energy. He did not rely solely on the bow and arrow however, and also used a tomahawk and could call down lightning on his enemies. In contrast to the arrogant and impulsive Kung Jin, who was introduced in Mortal Kombat X, Nightwolf was depicted as wise and level-headed.
  • Lara Croft in the reboot of Tomb Raider primarily uses a bow, as opposed to her predecessor who preferred Guns Akimbo. As she was before the reboot, she is a lone wolf who doesn't let emotions get in the way.
  • Achaka from King's Quest (2015) is as straight an example as they come. He's confident, agile, a bit of a loner (at first) and a master at landing impossible shots with his powerful longbow. Graham provides a Aversion, as he violates most common archer characterisations - he's not graceful or haughty, he's clumsy, insecure and a bit of a goofy dork, though Achaka takes him under his wing and he becomes a very good archer by the end of the first chapter.
  • While neither are shown actually using bows and arrows onscreen, Revali and Teba still fit the attributes of this in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They're both slender Rito men who are skilled in archery, prefer to work alone (Revali because of his narcissism, Teba because he's simply stubborn), and are initially disdainful of Link.
  • Darkest Dungeon's archer character, the Arbalest, is indeed largely useless when close to enemies, with only two moves in her entire kit that can be used in the front ranks, and can be a bit blunt and arrogant (especially when Afflicted). She's also a solidly built professional soldier clad in full armour who holds her giant crossbow like a Chainsaw Grip BFG.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe has Opal, the fusion of Pearl and Amethyst. Considerably calmer and more focused than either of her components normally are, she has a deep, soothing voice and an Energy Bow capable of scattering multiple arrows to take down numerous small, fast-moving targets. She also offsets the 'skinny build' part by having two sets of arms to hold and draw back her enormous bow with.
  • Evangelyne of Wakfu is an archer and the most level-headed member of the group. Averted with her hot-headed sister Cleophee, who fights with a wrist-mounted crossbow.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Straight Arrow, The Archer, Archertype

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Sly Cooper (archer outfit)

Sly's costume in this world is an Archer Costume, a Robin Hood-esq. outfit that comes with a bow and can use arrows where arrow buckets can be found.

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