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Can't Drop the Hero

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"You can't ditch yourself! You need you!"

In an RPG, you're allowed to switch any character out of your party. Any character except Bob, because he's the protagonist. Depending on the leveling system, this could be a problem if you want to train everyone— Bob's always in the group, so everyone else Can't Catch Up. In more annoying cases this trope goes hand in hand with We Cannot Go On Without You, in which case you also lose the moment Bob dies.

From a story standpoint, this makes sense. The game's not about Alice, Charlie, Dave, or Emily even if they do have more interesting stories than Bob.

See Also: Required Party Member, when it's Alice, Charlie, Dave, or Emily that's forced into your group; and We Cannot Go On Without You when the death of Bob stops the entire plot; even if Alice could resurrect them. The inverse is Missing Main Character.

Since this applies to almost every RPG, please, exceptions only.


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    Miscellaneous Games 
  • Most of the Dept. Heaven games play this straight. Knights in the Nightmare is a bit unusual in that while you're always required to have the heroine in your party when she's with you, battles where she actually accompanies you only take up about a third of the game. Yggdra Unison notably averts this completely—you don't have to bring your main characters into battle at all, though it's recommended that you do.
  • In Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon, your current flagship must always have Jim Hawkins as the captain and Mr. Onyx as the first mate during the single-player campaign.
  • In Donkey Kong Country Returns and single player Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, while you can have a partner on your back, you're always playing Donkey Kong by default.
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii forces whoever is Player 1 to play as Mario. Even in multiplayer modes, Player 1 cannot play as anyone but him.
  • Your look-alike Mii (the very Mii you choose) in Tomodachi Life cannot be removed from the island at all since they're designated as your look-alike and other Miis will refer to you as the first Mii's look-alike. However, you are free to edit your look-alike Mii to be someone completely different.

  • Brutal Orchestra: There's nothing really stopping you from shelving Nowak for the entire game. He does have some unique uses due to having real attacks that only cost some auto-generated yellow pigment and can move the enemies around with his Parry skill, but his damage is surpassed by any other offensive party member (in line with their more demanding costs), other party members can use Slap to gather pigment, and the movement of enemies after getting hit with Parry is mostly random. He does get revived if he dies in a won battle unlike anyone else, but losing any fight results in a game over regardless of whether or not you have anyone "Benched"
  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, you're only allowed to remove the hero and partner from the team after you've beaten the game.
    • It's particularly notable in Rescue Team, as outside from appearing in scenes from time to time, your hero and partner essentially become the same as standard recruits, staying in their respective friend areas with them rather than living in their house (Which is instead used by whichever Pokemon is your current leader).
    • Explorers still requires you to use both the hero and partner for some of the post-game dungeons, due to them being part of a second plotline. In this and all later PMD games, the hero and their partner are always the ones you control while in town.
    • Gates to Infinity and later titles in the series, including the remake of Rescue Team, are the best about this, as their Companion Mode feature allows you to form secondary teams that exclude your hero and partner prior to finishing the story. However, you still need to beat the game if you want to remove your hero and partner from the team without using Companion Mode, which matters due to certain dungeons only being visitable outside of the mode.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis every single character is sprited to be outside of battle. And thus any character you get can lead your party, and on those rare occasions you have more then 3 characters you can boot whoever you feel like from the party entirely.
  • Anachronox: Boots is for most part a permanent member, with one notable exception: On Democratus, you can tell him to wait at the ship as easily as any other party member.
  • The Banner Saga plays this at times. While there are plenty of battles where you can use whoever you like, there are times where a couple of of heroes are mandatory, usually The Hero Rook, or Hakon.
  • Black Sigil regularly switches up the party. Kairu is the protagonist, but often you'll be leading a party without him in it.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Catie always leads the party while you’re in the field, which means she’ll always be in the first slot whenever you enter battle. However, you’re free to swap her out at any time during the battle itself. (Not that you’d ever want to, since she’s the main healer).
  • In Brave Dungeon, the protagonist Al can't be swapped out at first. Doing so requires beating the game once to unlock the Syega Shop, and then purchasing the Unlock Party feature from there. She'll even lampshade it if you try to remove her beforehand:
    Al: Why would I take a break?
  • Breath of Fire I subverted this trope, allowing you to pull the hero Ryu from the party once you get five members; Breath of Fire II and Breath of Fire III play it straight while Breath of Fire IV plays with it a bit by spiting Formations (and in turn active Field Characters) Between Field and Battle with Ryu only locked for the former (Though except for limited solo character battles the three acting characters can be switch every turn anyway).
  • In Chrono Trigger, the trope is played straight for the majority of the game with Crono, who can't be switched out after the option to swap members becomes available. But after Crono dies protecting his friends from Lavos by Taking the Bullet for them, Crono leaves the party. There is a lengthy sidequest to get him to rejoin, though. If Crono rejoins the party in this way, he can be freely switched out for the rest of the game. Alternatively, you can always choose to fight the Final Boss (and win) without getting Crono to rejoin, thus beating the game without having your main character in your party.
  • In Chrono Cross, Serge must always remain in the party for the main game. However, in New Game Plus, you get an item that allows you to swap him with a different character, but only for battles; Serge still shows up on field screens.
  • Fully justified in Conception 2: Children Of The Seven Stars. Wake's ether field is the only reason the heroines and star children can even function inside Dusk Labyrinths.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has two sequences near the end of the game where you can take control of a group of characters without the Warden, once to break the captured Warden out of prison and once to hold Denerim's gate while the Warden hunts the Archdemon.
  • The PlayStation Portable adaptation of Digimon Adventure allows the player to swap between either Digidestined to form a battle party (maximum three members) depending on how many of them are playable in a given episode/sub-episode. However, whoever is assigned "Leader" can not be swapped out.
  • Digimon World Data Squad may allow the player to switch Marcus around in the active battle formation (which only rearranges the formation in battles), but he cannot be placed in Backup where the non-active party members are listed.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • In the remakes Dragon Quest III, once you beat the Final Boss for the first time and gain access to the Endgame+ content, you're allowed to drop off The Hero at the tavern in Portoga.
    • In Dragon Quest IV, Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI, you are allowed to set up the active party however you like, even putting the main character on standby. However, when you're in a town or certain dungeons, all you can do is rearrange the active party (and in some, being in a town or dungeon limits you to just the four in front, when it doesn't automatically take only human characters to be your new lineup). None of these games are very consistent about this, but usually when you see the wagon behind you, it's possible to switch out characters. In V, you can make an active party of just recruited monsters, so if you wanted to, you could follow a theme to beat the rest of the game, such as an all-slime party. In the latter two games, you are even allowed to leave some of your party members at Patty's Party Planning Place (which means they're not in your active party OR in the wagon) but because of this trope, the player character can't be left there. In VI, Ashlynn can't either, despite not being a Required Party Member for any mandatory portion of the game.
    • Dragon Quest IX goes even further by making any characters besides the main one entirely optional in the first place.
  • In Endless Frontier, Haken is basically the character the plot revolves around. Doesn't mean you have to put him into battle, though. The game only ever forces character use when the enemy is of particular importance to one of your party members (for example, when Suzuka confronts her possessed lover). On the other hand, characters in the back row still actively participate in battles as an Assist Character, so it's clear they're always on the field.
  • Ever Oasis normally plays it straight, where the main exploration team is a party of three, with the player being unswappable. It can get especially frustrating, since one can get 62 residents in their Oasis, meaning you have to warp back to your Oasis multiple times if either you or your party members don't have a certain skill or two needed for dungeon crawling, some of which are tied to weapon types. The only time the player isn't in a party is if they send a up to a team of 3 for monster spoils/material collecting expeditions, which forbids Seedlings from taking on.
  • Evolution: The World of Sacred Device: Mag Launcher must be in the party no matter what. Linear Cannon also must be in the party, but in the post-game you're allowed to finally remove her from the party and solo with just Mag, or use any combination of two of the other three party members.
    • The sequel Evolution 2: Far Off Promise does the same. Mag must be in the party, as does Linear for the majority of the game, but once you reach The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, you lose Linear and must have a party of three at all times (which always includes Mag) and can include any of the other four party members (excluding Linear).
  • In Exist Archive, you can never take Kanata out of your party. It is a particularly frustrating example, as class changing/inheritance isn't unlocked for a while, meaning that you can't change him into a more useful class. You're still stuck with him even in non-story chapters.
  • Eye of the Beholder. As soon as you get a fifth party member, you can drop any of the four you started with.
  • Faraway Story: This is averted in Part 2, where the player can complete solo dungeon missions to unlock other characters as controllable. Once at least one other character is unlocked as controllable, it's possible to make a party without the main character, though some story events will force control of the main character.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII have mechanics wherein the main party can be switched up however you like, and it's just assumed that the rest of the party is traveling with your chosen group. Therefore, the main hero isn't required to be part of the battle party for most of the game. (Unfortunately, of the three, only FFXII bothered to avert the Lazy Backup problem.)
      • The fact that it's not as clear cut who the main character is than in some of the previous games doesn't hurt.
      • You still have to control Vaan in towns however in XII and Tidus when on the map anywhere (Except for that one scene where you play Yuna). Tidus, along with Rikku and Wakka, are the only characters available while underwater since the others presumably can't hold their breath indefinitely unlike the other three.
      • Final Fantasy XIII Zig-Zags this trope; for the first half of the game, you constantly switch between characters, getting to play as each of the six members at least once, but you cannot switch them out for another character, and even when the party is fully formed, you still have to play as Lightning for a Boss and the start of the following chapter. After that you're free as a bird to chose your battle team, however.
    • Final Fantasy VI has moments throughout the game where certain characters have to be used, but by the end, you can have a party of anyone. You can have Umaro, Gogo, Mog, and Relm be the saviors of the world.
      • Terra, Celes, and Locke have the most instances where they have to be in the party, but FF6 is mostly devoid of this trope due to the fact that there is no "main" character. While Terra is the most plot important character, you don't even have to get her for much of the second half of the game; Terra spends almost as much time out of the party as she does being part of it.
    • Final Fantasy IX did some aversions, however most of them were when your perspectives were splitting, such as when the party is split up in Desert Palace. However, in the final dungeon, you are free to remove Zidane from your party freely if you wish. (You still walk around with him, though.)
    • Final Fantasy VII has Cloud in your party at all times and can never be switched out, barring a few exceptions where Aerith and Barret are the party leaders. This can be a bit jarring for first-time players. After Cloud falls into the Lifestream and falls into a stupor from mako sickness, Tifa becomes the main party lead until they find Cloud in his vegetable state. Tifa stays behind to look after Cloud, causing Cid to become the party leader until Cloud recovers.
    • Final Fantasy IV Advance allows you to switch your team around at a late stage of the game, but you can't leave Cecil behind.
    • Final Fantasy VIII puts Squall in your party the majority of the time. There are several exceptions, however. The assassination attempt at the end of Disc 1 and the Battle of the Gardens at the end of disc 2 both are done without Squall, just to name a couple of examples. Interestingly, your party is chosen at random for the final battle, so you can defeat Ultimecia using any party members you want.
    • On the Gameboy Advance and PSP version of Final Fantasy IV, the Lunar Trials are based on specific characters in your party. Kain's trial takes the cake since not only it's the longest, you also take control of him instead of Cecil and Cecil basically becomes an NPC. Kain also has to fight Lunar Bahamut by himself without Cecil's help.
  • Averted in Fuga: Melodies of Steel, where you can freely sacrifice Malt if you choose despite him claiming leadership of the crew, and the game will continue on regardless as long as there is one child available to pilot the tank. Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 plays this straight, as no matter how many times you trigger the Soul Cannon's auto-loading sequence, the game will never pick Malt due to him being upgraded to the main character of the series rather than a main leader-in-name-only, since he is the one interacting with every other player character and NPC and has a Karma Meter to worry about. The only time he gets into the Soul Cannon is in any non-Golden Ending route, where he picks himself to fire the weapon off as a Taking You with Me attack against the Big Bad.
  • Golden Sun:
    • The original Golden Sun avoids the trope for the most part because your party never grows beyond four members, so you have no chance to swap out the leader anyway.
    • Golden Sun: The Lost Age allows you to arrange your group however you want once your party teams up with the party from the first game, and you don't have to use either of the main leads if you feel like it. You even get special Battle Theme Music based on who's in the party. The first game also briefly allows one to run around as the three non-Isaac party members.
    • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn also follows up on the exception to the trope once your party grows beyond four people.
  • Played straight in Grinsia as the unnamed hero is elected to be party leader once the team grows too big to have everyone together in one group.
  • The Icewind Dale series allows you to switch out and add new party members at will (up to the maximum of six characters), even the person in the first slot — the story is about the party and the characters are all Player Mooks. This can lead to the amusing situation where none of the party members you started out with are in the game at the end, but everyone acts like they're the same people.
  • The Inazuma Eleven series allows you to set a "Story" team and a "Connect" team, each of which can have 11 to 16 members of your party of up to 100 characters (and overlap is allowed between the two teams). Endou is locked to the first slot of the Story team, but you can rearrange the Connect team however you please. The Connect team is meant primarily for multiplayer matches (hence the name), but you can also use it for optional sidequest matches.
    • After beating the main story of Inazuma Eleven 2 and 3, you're also allowed to rearrange your Story team as you please, which also allows you to have 4-on-4 mini-battles without Endou (since mini-battles use the first 4 slots of your Story team).
  • Jade Empire used the same technique in the siege of Dirge, ensuring that all party members had a role to play in the event.
  • Both Knights of the Old Republic games have scenes in which you control only one or two characters while the hero (you) is imprisoned. In the first game, you, Carth, and Bastila are imprisoned, and it's up to one of your other party members (except Zaalbar) to spring them. In the second, there are three areas of Nar Shardaa (a brief cut-content sequence with Bao-Dur/Atton/somebody; the run to the Ebon Hawk with Atton/T3/Mira, and rescuing the Exile from Goto's Yacht) where you don't use the Exile, and a group of three is sent to Freedon Nadd's tomb on Onderon while you, Kreia, and somebody go to Iziz.
  • Although the Xbox version of The Last Remnant required Rush to be in your party at all times, the PC rerelease removed this restriction.
  • The Legend of Dragoon averts this only when there's no battles to be fought. It happens once when you're traveling by ship for the first time in disc 2, having you control every party member and get some plot-based dialogue happening. It happens again when the party is split late in disc 4 during a series of character-specific boss battles. When the hero is out of the party though, random battles are turned off entirely.
  • Happens occasionally in the Lufia series:
    • In Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, the heroes have to obtain a treasure from the Old Cave. Said treasure is in a room that can only be entered by women, so The Hero and Aguro have to wait outside of the room while Lufia retrieves the treasure by herself.
    • In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Maxim is only absent for one single battle in the Treasure Sword Shrine, where the party has to split up to simultaneously defeat two bosses that are part of the same monster. He also can't be dropped in Gift Mode, where you can choose any party members you wish for the Ancient Cave.
    • The remake, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals has three instances where Maxim is unplayable. The first, in a Mythology Gag to the original game, has the guys get split up from the girls while searching for the Legendary Sword and reunite for the boss fight at the end. In the second, Maxim gets shot in the back by a giant robot and Tia Takes a Level in Badass to fight it off by herself. The last time is in the Three Towers, where the party splits into three groups to climb each Tower.
    • Lufia: the Legend Returns and Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, while not having The Hero of either game leave the party, don't require you to have them in your active party.
  • Lunarosse will always have Channing in the lead, as he is the leader of the group's exploration team. He even lampshades near the end of the game, when he volunteers for a mission on the basis that he's been on all the others.
  • In Megatraveller: The Zhodani Conspiracy, you can replace any dead party members with new ones recruited from the starport. However, if all five original members die, the game ends anyway, as the replacements weren't involved in the event that started the game and have no motivation to carry on.
  • Might and Magic I-V averts this by letting you switch out all members of the party. VI, VII, IX and X averts it by not letting you switch any member of the party. VIII plays it straight, however (it's also the only one in which there is a clear "the hero" — the pre-VI games all had premade parties and the ability to create new characters to switch them out for at taverns, while in the other non-VIII games you create the entire party at the start of the game).
  • Despite supplying the quote at the top, in Miitopia, you are allowed to take the Protagonist out of the party in the post-game — though even then, they're the only character you can't "say goodbye" to (i.e. delete). There are hints of it prior, however, in various late-game sections that force the party to split in two equal halves. Since you guide the two halves separately, one half has to go without the Protagonist.
  • Averted in the Neptunia series. There's nothing forcing you to keep the main heroine in the front row, or even in the battle party at all. That said, certain plot events will automatically put Neptune/Nepgear into the first slot of the front line, booting whoever was there to the last open slot, or failing that to the bottom of the backup list.
    • And averted completely in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, where it's never mandatory to have Neptune on the field at all. In fact, for a brief segment of the game, she's removed from the party completely.
    • Megadimension Neptunia VII takes a novel approach by RPG standards. For most of the game, you simply don't have enough characters to need to bench anyone, thanks to a Switching P.O.V. giving everyone equal screen time in small groups. By the time you actually have enough characters to need to bench anyone, you can field and sideline anyone you like, since they all have equal relevance and investment to the plot (something that series protagonists Neptune and Nepgear find existentially uncomfortable).
  • Played straight for the first two installments of Neverwinter Nights 2 but averted in Storm of Zehir, which has a fully interchangeable Player Party like Icewind Dale above.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth actually enforces this to the point where Reviel has to be alive in order to switch out the other characters, which no one else can do. The only exception is when Reviel is temporarily bedridden, leaving the player in control of Luna and Shylphiel.
  • In Octopath Traveler and Octopath Traveler II, you can choose any of the eight heroes as your starting character, but that character has to stay in the party at all times until their story is completed.
  • Phantasy Star II allows you to rotate everyone except Rolf (and Nei until her death) through the party makeup at his home.
  • Surprisingly, Pokémon, which plays an incredibly high number of RPG tropes straight, averts this. You get your starter 'mon but there's nothing forcing you to keep it. You can even release them into the wild, never to be seen again.
    • The spin-off Pokémon Ranger Guardian Signs plays it straight, as Pichu will always stick with the main character.
    • Even in Pokémon Yellow, which had the Pikachu-following gimmick, if you wanted to you could put Pikachu in the box and never let him out. (Or trade him away.)
    • The only straight example in the main series is in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Once the cover legendary regains its ability to battle, it can never be placed in box storage, released, or traded since it serves as your primary mode of transportation throughout Paldea. Fortunately, in its bike form it doesn't take up one of your six party slots.
  • Rakenzarn Tales: Kyuu will always be in the first party slot. When the party has to split up, like in Chapter 8, whoever the designated leader of that team is will take a permanent slot until the group reforms.
  • Rakenzarn Frontier Story always has Makoto in the first slot.
  • In The Reconstruction, you can switch Dehl out of your party at any time once you can switch characters. There's even one sidequest where it's very likely you'll need to do this.
  • In Riviera: The Promised Land, this trope's played straight for Ein in regular battles, but in the practice battles, you can choose not to have him in.
  • In SaGa Frontier, the protagonist is locked into group 1, but with the exception of certain scripted encounters, you're allowed to use either group 1, 2, or 3 at your discretion. Lute is the exception to this rule, as the player can put him in any group of their choosing. By moving him to group 2 or 3, scripted encounters that normally involve the protagonist can be done without him.
  • Sakura Dungeon: As she's the one who wants to explore the dungeon, it makes sense that Ceri cannot be dropped from the party. Unusually, she's not the character subjected to We Cannot Go On Without You. That applies to your other protagonist, Yomi.
  • Averted in Shadow Hearts series, although From the New World will make you unable to switch out whatever party member is important to the dungeon (like Mao during the Alcatraz dungeon). In addition, you need Natan in the party to do his sidequests.
  • Shin Megami Tensei games:
    • When the main character is knocked out in mainline titles, it's an immediate game over regardless of the state of the rest of your party. There's usually a justification in-game, but it's a Scrappy Mechanic to some.
    • In Digital Devil Saga you can freely switch around your party members, and there are times when Serph won't be in your party at all.
    • Prominent throughout the Persona series, with the result being the self-insert silent protagonist being at least five or more levels higher than the rest of the party. While it's more prominent in Persona 3 and Persona 4 - they can go into the games's dungeons alone, and they get to keep their high level perks for a New Game Plus - the first game and the Persona 2 duology has its leads keep the pace by allowing the player to freely distribute their stats, whereas the other characters will level certain stats automatically, often at a fixed rate; this leads to the player potentially having Maya in Eternal Punishment have 99 points of Dexterity and 6 points of Strength by the endgame. Persona 5 makes it even worse, as every other party member is completely optional, to the point you can eventually even switch them in and out mid-battle.
      • A notable, especially-frustrating example in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. You are required to choose between the parties of Persona 3 and 4 to start the game with, and the protagonist of whichever game is chosen cannot be taken out of the united group later on (the other protagonist can, though). Unlike the main numbered games, the protagonists have no specialties distinguishing them from the rest of the party, making their forced use feel like a strange artifact. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth caught on and does away with this entirely, allowing the player to enter battles without any of the protagonists present (unless playing on the hardest difficulty, which does require using Persona 5's Joker at all times).
  • For most of Sands of Destruction, Kyrie can't be dropped, though he is later dropped from the party after he asks Naja to kill him to save the world. At this point, Morte becomes undroppable, whereas previously she could be switched out at will. After Kyrie returns, he's undroppable again and Morte returns to her previously-switchable role.
  • In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Sonic is a permanent fixture in the team's lineup for almost all of the game. There are two instances where the team splits into two groups, but in both those cases, you instead have two Required Party Members per team (out of four) and Sonic's on one of them anyway.
  • Ever since Star Ocean: First Departure, the Star Ocean games let you swap any party member in and out of the main party and even choose which one you directly control while the others go to their AI script. The exception is Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, if only because everybody is in the active party at all times.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Starting in Save the Light, you can assemble a party of four out of the seven playable characters, but you can't remove Steven, keeping with how the show stays fixed to his point of view. There is, however, one segment where the rest of the part is separated from him. Half of it spent as Connie and Peridot, the other with Amethyst, Pearl, and Greg. Steven still somehow sees all of this, however.
    • In Unleash the Light, you can't remove Steven in Story Mode, but in Rose's Room, it's possible to form a full team without him, and to compensate for the sole Item Caddy being unavailable if that happens, you're free to use his Cheeseburger Backpack anytime.
  • Averted to varying degrees, depending on the game in the Suikoden series:
    • In the first game, you were forced to play as Tir, the hero, save for a short segment as Futch (and in one version of the game, Gremio).
    • In the second, the infamous battle with Luca Blight has you form full parties led by the main character Riou and his two right-hand men, Flik and Viktor.
    • Very much averted in III, as the game has six main viewpoints that are constantly switched between. In these individual viewpoints, a few characters avert this trope further (Ace is briefly playable in Geddoe's story, and Sarah is playable in Luc's.)
    • IV mostly plays the trope straight, except for a portion of the final dungeon where Elenor is the field character, and the party can be anyone aside from the hero (Lino will ask to lead this battle party but his involvement is optional). Further, starting a New Game Plus allows Lazlo to be completely removed from the party.
    • The fifth game averts this to hell and back: Despite largely being in the party for most of the game, some missions require Frey to be elsewhere due to strategy, thus allowing other characters to lead the party.
  • Super Mario RPG has a party limit of 3 characters in battle. When Mario's party grows beyond 3 members, you can switch out characters however you wish, but Mario can never be swapped out. Luckily, Mario falling in battle will not count as a Game Over. The only time you will ever get into a battle without Mario is the fight against Valentina where she sends Dodo after your middle party member for a one on one fight while she deals with Mario and the other party member.
    • In addition, because all characters earn experience regardless of if they fought or not makes picking characters a non-issue.
  • The Tales Series tends to avert this trope. There are only a few times when you are required to have a certain character in your party, including the main character. You can potentially play through most of the games without the protagonist on the front lines, even if they're traveling with the group. The games also use Leaked Experience, so you don't have to switch characters out to level other characters (although you do need them to fight if you want them to learn new abilities).
    • Tales of Symphonia has a few instances where certain characters are required to be in the party, but they're usually just single battles, and it's given in-story justification as to why they have to be there. Sheena, for instance, is required to fight each Summon Spirit when it shows up for a boss battle, but that's because she's the group's only summoner, and she has to prove herself capable of handling the Spirit.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World allows you to remove Emil and Marta from the party, but they're the only two that can be in the on-screen character slot (you can switch characters in battle, but as soon as the fights over you switch back to the on screen character). As with the previous one it too allows non-active characters (in this case the monsters in your party) to gain levels without going into battle. Also, if you keep one of them out of the main line up for long enough they complain about it in a skit.
    • Tales of Xillia 2 plays this straight on your first playthrough, where Ludger has to be in the active party at all times (With the sole exception of the arena). In a New Game Plus, however, you can remove him whenever you're not doing a story quest.
    • Tales of Zestiria plays this straight as main protagonist Sorey is always in the party, no matter what, as well as human party members,Alisha or Rose. In fact, the only swappable party members are your four seraph companions who you can pair up with Sorey or his other human companion.
    • Downplayed in Tales of Berseria. Velvet is the viewpoint character and will always be in the party because the perspective follows her, but there's nothing forcing you to control her in battle or even keep her in the front line. That said, your backup can be hot-swapped into the party during battle, and you can switch which character you're controlling at any time, so it's not like she's ever sitting out.
  • In Three the Hard Way, the Menu Prism has the party management option to switch around the active party, but if you try to select the protagonist, he will refuse to leave the party and tell you to choose someone else.
  • The Wild ARMs series zig-zags this trope, depending on the installment. The first and third titles for example, enforce this trope by making it so that the player has no control over the party composition at all. However, considering that a full party in these games consists of all the playable characters at once, it isn't as bad as you'd think.
  • A Witch's Tale justifies this, as Liddell is the one magically controlling her dolls.
  • In the Xenoblade series:
    • Averted in Xenoblade Chronicles 1, where once you have at least three characters in the party, you can freely switch Shulk out whenever you want.
    • Played straight in Xenoblade Chronicles X, where your avatar is required to be in the party at all times. You can control anyone in the party other than the hired avatar of another player, though.
    • Played with in a different way in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. You are not required to use Rex in your party, and can even travel around as a one- or two-person party in the early chapters when you only have three playable characters. However, you cannot disengage the party's primary story Blades (Pyra/Mythra, Dromarch, Brighid, Pandoria). Once Rex becomes the Master Driver at the end of Chapter 7, he can engage other party members' Blades and exploit this to disengage them, but you still can't drop Pyra/Mythra. New Game Plus removes this restriction. It's played straight in a different kind of way in that at no point does Rex ever leave the party (even his Blade, Pyra/Mythra, gets separated from the party at numerous times in the game).
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 plays with this by having a large, mostly fixed party - you can't drop any of the six main characters. There is an optional seventh slot in the party that can be filled by many different characters, but the rest of the party is fixed.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution allows the player to switch out up to three of their four main characters for an Elite Mook squad that doesn't cost anything to replace. except the Tyranids, who only have one character in the first place. Some players were surprised to learn that the Imperial Guard's main character was not the Inquisitor who requisitioned them in the first place.
  • Fae Tactics allows you to deploy three "Leader" characters and up to three "Fae" characters in battle. However, since main heroine Peony is the one that summons the latter unit type, she can't be dropped.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, you can play without Ramza in random encounters, but not story battles. More importantly, if you try to actually dismiss Ramza from your party, you get specifically told you can't. If you try it in the endgame, Ramza outright tells you "I'm you. This is my story."
    • This also applies to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 with their respective main characters, who also can't be Dispatched on missions since that would mean leaving the party when they possibly might be needed for something plot-related. For Advance, you can put the main character in jail willingly to serve time if he has any yellow cards on his record, but this also means that all clan related activity is halted since they cannot function without the main character leading them.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In chapters that give you a pre-battle preparations screen with which to choose which units to deploy, the player is normally forced to deploy whoever the main character of the game is in every battle. The exception is in skirmish battles in The Sacred Stones, Awakening, Fates, Three Houses, and Engage, where you aren't forced to use the main characters on the skirmishes/optional battles. They're still forced for the main storyline, though. Additionally, there are sometimes additional characters, important to the plot of the chapter or the game as a whole, who must be deployed.
    • The Avatar in New Mystery of the Emblem is a subversion. You are forced to deploy them for the tutorial/prologue missions, but once the main story begins, you can bench them like any other unit.
    • Echoes: Shadows of Valentia does this slightly oddly in the post-game. You are forced to take at least one of Alm or Celica, but you can bench the other no problem.
    • Heroes does this a little differently. Since battle parties are only four strong and there are well over 500 playable characters to choose from, you don't have to take the three main characters Alfonse, Sharena, and Anna into battle. However, you can't kick them out of your barracks or sacrifice them for skill inheritance.
  • In the online game League of Angels, you can recruit as many party members as you desire, and you can have up to four (later five) in your party at one time, not counting the Angel. However, your own character must always be a part of it. (Your character also has a few advantages they don't have, and a few disadvantages, like not having the Elemental Powers buffs.)
  • Like in Super Mario RPG above, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has a party of 3 with Mario forced in for the entirety of the game, whose defeat won't cause an automatic Game Over. However, it also has an additional caveat of "Can't Drop a Specific Type of Party Member": One of the three party members must be one of the four playable Raving Rabbids; the choice of Rabbid is always left open to the player's discretion throughout the whole game. So the player can deploy either two Rabbids or a Rabbid and a non-Mario Mario character, but cannot deploy two other Mario characters to derail the game into "Mario vs. Rabbids Kingdom Battle."
  • Nearly every Nippon Ichi game lets the player do this
    • In Disgaea and its sequels, you can send any party of ten people into battle. (But the ensuing cutscenes assume that the main characters were in it.) As a matter of fact, with the massive number of creatable units in combination wih the unlockable special characters AND the number of DLC characters released in later installments, most of them totally dwarf the majority of the main cast outside of maybe one unit, so using the mains is basically a way of severely handicapping yourself in postgame due to their often abysmal leveling stats. The game really does seem to pride itself on letting the player make its own team without worrying about using the main character designates.
    • Ditto La Pucelle.
    • In Makai Kingdom, the only required "character" is Book-form Zetta, who serves as the "base" from which your playable generics are summoned, but he doesn't count towards your character limit and can't move or defend himself.
    • Similarly in Phantom Brave, Marona is the only character who 1) doesn't disappear after an Arbitrary Time Limit and 2) can Confine the other characters.
      • Her stat growth is some of the worst in the game, but her ability to confine makes her something of a living home base who can barely fight. At least her speed is good, and with the right weapon in Phantom Brave, any stat can become your damage dealing stat...
    • In fact, Marona has a problem with Can't Catch Up herself because you don't want her to fight directly and the leveling up tricks don't work on her.
    • Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia and all the games in the series allow you to choose any congruence of characters you want, as long as you meet the required number of Reyvateils for battle and the number of vanguards necessary.
    • Cross Edge allows you to choose what characters you want in your team with very little limitation beyond character number.
  • In Pokémon Conquest, this is enforced only in the initial main story, where the main character and Oichi have to be present at every single major battle for story reasons. In true Pokémon fashion, the other storylines have no such limitation, and you're never forced to use the main character of any given scenario.
  • In Telepath RPG on top of not being allowed to remove the hero from the battling party, you can't even move them from the fourth character slot.
  • The original Vandal Hearts plays this straight, except for a few battles in Chapter 3. You play a few missions where Clint, Eleni, Huxley and Darius have to escape from prison without the others.
    • For added fun, in the final prison break mission The Hero does show up, but his defeat doesn't signal a Game Over like normal, so you finally get to use your most powerful swordsman with (relative) impunity.

     Non-Video Game Examples 
  • In Adventurers!, Karn is always in the lead, while other characters switch in and out of the three-person party. In the final battle against Khrima, they form a tag team, with Karn replacing party members at need.


Video Example(s):


No Dropping Kasuga

You can switch out any party member you like in Like a Dragon... except for Kasuga. Attempting to remove him will simply result in a message saying he can't be removed or swapped.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / CantDropTheHero

Media sources: