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Consummate Professional

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"When a true soldier is told to kill, he kills; he does not question why, he does not mourn the fallen, he fulfills his role and moves on to the next."
Locus, Red vs. Blue

A character who is characterized by their intense professionalism and intolerance of the lack thereof in others.

The Consummate Professional is most often a very serious character, be it by choice or by requirement. Use of this trope is often, though not always, involved in a profession that warrants violence or is on the shadier side of the law like a soldier of fortune, professional spy, courier, or professional assassin. Regardless of precisely who employs them or what their actual job is, being a Consummate Professional is standard for Men in Black types as well. Alternatively, they can also belong to a more conventional profession, but be ruthlessly dedicated to it, such as a profession in the legal system or a corporate position. They have a very strict code of conduct to which they adhere meticulously, and instantly dislike anyone who implies they should lighten up. They'll likely say "Nothing Personal" and/or "Just Following Orders" when people ask them. They also instantly dislike anyone who's a little too friendly (after all, Being Personal Isn't Professional), although there are some people who can make balance between friendliness and professionalism. One thing for sure: get on the wrong side of one, and you'll likely find them to be a No-Nonsense Nemesis.

This attitude is most of the time justified: their line of work makes any personal connection or moral compunction a liability. This doesn't mean they're a complete cold fish, it just means they prefer ethics to morals. Morals are broad and prone to emotional interpretation, ethics are specific and more efficient. While they might be willing to have a softer disposition towards friends or family, any client is treated impersonally and no better than the job demands. They may look down on the Bunny-Ears Lawyer who, while also competent, acts less professionally than they do. If there are alignments in play, they stick most to Lawful and Neutral alignments, rarely to Good ones (since an altruistic attitude doesn't lend itself to their ruthless dedication to their job) and never to Chaotic. Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil are the most common alignments associated with this trope.

The Consummate Professional is also recognized for their uncanny talent at the chosen profession. Their no-nonsense attitude has allowed them to hone their skill to an almost supernatural degree, to the point their name (if actually known) becomes synonymous with excellence in their line of work. Be it playing the stock market, performing a military mission, doing a No-Harm Requirement, or killing a mark, they baffle others with their complete control and superlative skills. This may simply be because their professionalism makes them The Perfectionist, driving them to put the necessary time and training into mastering their craft where less professional workers might slack off or cut corners.

If they're on the shadier side of the law, don't ever compare 'em to common thugs; that's a wonderful way to end up in traction or worse. They're first and foremost a professional, and by definition above such scum because of their code. And for pete's sake, don't invoke a Contract on the Hitman. As for a professional in a legitimate profession, they might be ruthless, but they're never corrupt. They do not need to cheat or commit fraudulent actions; their skill places them beyond such petty strategies.

Do note of the more violently employed professionals, having a code is not the same as being a Hitman with a Heart: not killing innocents might just be a matter of convenience and avoiding unnecessary trouble, not any kind of conscience talking. In fact, one trait that's almost universal to this kind of character is that every time they let things get personal, it always comes back to bite 'em.

Because the profession usually takes them places, expect a Consummate Professional to also be a Cunning Linguist and have connections to various other professionals who can provide services for them. If they're a killer who likes taking their targets out from a distance, they'll universally be a Cold Sniper and almost always has Improbable Aiming Skills.

May be a member of a Weird Trade Union— if there's a Union for his profession, no matter how unlikely it is, he's a card-carrying member.

Foil of The Slacker and especially the Professional Slacker.

Competence Porn is a genre focusing on the pleasure of watching consummate professionals doing high-quality work.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Akudama Drive: Despite being a criminal, Courier has a very professional and serious air about him. So long as you're paying him the right price, he'll deliver your (most likely illegal) packages or even get involved in insane, history making heists.
  • Mickey Simon in the Area 88 manga. For a soldier of fortune, Mickey has a strong professional code. He is loyal to his fellow pilots and politely turns down Rishar's offer to join the anti-government forces.
  • Balalaika from Black Lagoon is a Mayfiya Don who runs her criminal organization like a hardened military unit... because they used to be one. Dutch as well, though his operation tends to focus on smuggling and other extra-legal errands. This is probably why the Lagoon Company and Hotel Moscow have such a good business relationship.
    • Dutch openly states in the third episode that he'll work for anyone who pays his fees, and at one point knowingly does a job for a Nazi general, though he is anything but happy with the man's racist shit, flat out telling him to go to hell once the job is over.
  • Sousuke in Full Metal Panic!. He also applies this level of professionalism to his cover identity as a high school student, with hilarious results.
  • Downplayed in the case of Kuroudou Akabane (a.k.a. Dr. Jackal) from Get Backers. He will take on any Courier job with no questions asked and carry it through to the end regardless of obstacles, is almost frighteningly competent at what he does and often describes himself as a consummate professional. But give him an opponent who he considers "worthy of his skills", and he'll decide to take certain...liberties with his assignment.
  • Golgo 13: Duke Togo. You contact him, you meet him, you pay him, he takes his target out. No questions, no strings attached, no target is off-bounds. If you choose to attach strings, he'll deny you his services or kill you for the trouble. Once a hit is on, he will go ahead with it, even if the client dies or attempts to call off the hit. Once he has accepted a contract, the only conclusion is with the target's death. Any attempt at betrayal is met with death. In one instance his target was falling from a skyscraper, certain to die on impact. Duke shot him in the head just before impact and completed the contract.
  • The Gungrave anime shows us that Brandon Heat was this with Undying Loyalty when he was a hitman for Millenion. It causes problems with his best friend.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Many of the characters are like this, but Paul von Oberstein is the most notable: he can calculate and order mass slaughter executed and suggest his own death without batting an eyelid.
  • Maken-ki!: Applies to the Venus Unit as a whole. As far as anyone knows, they've allied themselves with Kamigari, but it's only their cover. The fact is, they've been investigating Kamigari for years in order to uncover the truth about the source of Ouken Yamato's longevity. They're so discrete and efficient, that Ouken never suspected they were working against him.
  • Itachi Uchiha in Naruto tries so very much to be this. He talks to nobody in his job, tries so very much to be the ultimate ninja and to not let his personal feelings get in the way of the mission. He's married to his job and doesn't question his orders. He's then ordered by Danzou to kill his entire clan in which he finally breaks down. He however keeps the facade for almost all the manga.
  • Played straight and later averted with Mireille Bouquet of Noir. She starts out as an ice-cold professional killer (perhaps even more so than her significantly more competent partner Kirika Yuumura; Kirika doesn't know how she learned to kill or why, while Mireille is fully cognizant of the ethical implications of her chosen career). It isn't until the last few episodes that she starts to develop a heart at all, but when she finally does, look out.
  • One Piece: Dracule Mihawk, who was the only member of the original Warlords to never betray the World Government prior to the system's abolition. Other than not attending the (optional) meetings, Mihawk obeyed every mandatory order the WG gave him, including participating in the War of the Best, without a single complaint or even an attempt at subversion. The closest he ever came to defying them was taking Zoro on as a student, and even then it can be argued that in doing so, he temporarily made Zoro his subordinate for the duration of Zoro's trainingnote . Even his connection to Shanks didn't ruffle any feathers, considering his fellow Warlord Jimbei had a similar connection to Whitebeard, not to mention Shanks having enough influence to be on speaking terms with the Five Elder Stars in his own right.
  • Rebuild World:
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Gauche Suede, a Letter Bee who'd recently been promoted, comes off as this in his first appearance. When tasked with delivering Lag Seeing as a letter to Cambel Litmus, he accepts the job without question and initially refuses to get to know Lag, since he doesn't need to know a letter's contents. Despite that, he gets to know Lag as a result of them seeing each other's memories, and they end up as Fire-Forged Friends in the end.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Robin (1993): Scarab is a serious professional assassin who has only been seen smiling, rather briefly smirking, once in her many years in the comics and that was when she managed to thoroughly outmaneuver Red Robin while she wasn't working and didn't have any of her gear.
    • Suicide Squad's Deadshot, when he's not in one of his Death Seeker moods. His handler, Amanda Waller, is one too.
    • Superman: Lex Luthor's bodyguard, Mercy Graves, is usually this, though she betrays herself sometimes with a smirk or a mischievous smile.
    • Teen Titans: Deathstroke the Terminator. However, Depending on the Writer, Slade can be shown being very petty, sadistic and vindictive. Indeed, his first story arc has him going after the Titans for very unprofessional reasons.
  • A rare example on the right side of the law (or right as it gets in this case): Judge Dredd. Don't break the law on his watch.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Avengers: Of the Marvel Universe's mercs, the Taskmaster is the one who most fits. Pretty much all the other mercs are nowhere near as professional or emotionally detached.
    • The Punisher: Despite being a self-employed vigilante, Frank Castle exemplifies this trope. He fights vampires and ninjas with the same stoic frown he has when fighting petty thugs.
    • This trope is the reason why Spider-Man villain the Shocker never tries to go any higher than c-list; rampant destruction doesn't pay, and he knows better than to try anything bigger than theft since it draws more attention from the heroes.
    • Wolverine has served countless times in the military and has picked up a great many habits and skills with the years. Interestingly enough, he's always shown to be very serious and professional in that role, contrary to his usual authority-sticking personality. In fact, unless explicitly screwed by the hierarchy, he shows the utmost respect for the chain of command. Captain America is one soldier in particular he respects immensely. There's a strong case to be made that Wolverine's anti-authoritarian behavior with other superheroes stems from the fact that they don't measure up to his military standards of professionalism.

    Fan Works 
  • Kyril Sutherland from The Night Unfurls is a serious, pragmatic, and no-nonsense person concerned with getting the job done rather than being buddy-buddy with others, be it hunting down his prey, or wiping out the traitors. Uncannily effective, and unfazed to the bloodshed he causes in his wake. To him, this trope allows him to separate himself from the bloodlust, in order to avoid becoming as chaotic and bloodthirsty as the beasts he slew.
  • Russel in Service with a Smile rigidly follows the belief that when you go to work, you leave your problems and prejudice at the door. Despite his racism against Faunus like Velvet, he treats her like any other coworker while they're working for Jaune. He later admits to hating children, but as Jaune points out, Russel still smiles and tells them jokes when they come in.
  • In A Drop of Poison, Ebisu doesn't like Naruto any more than most of the population but when he's assigned to be the boy's team leader, he teaches him the same as any other student. The fact he has to get at least two members of the team to Chuunin in the next two years to teach Konohamaru's team certainly helps though.
  • In Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion Tarkin is portrayed as this at all times:
    • Before the rise of the Empire he's not a pleasant person, and is a speciesist on top of that, but he's utterly dedicated to his job as a sector governor in general and upholding the law in particular and will take any measure he deems necessary even if he finds them personally unpleasant.
    • After the rise of the Empire and discovering the truth about Palpatine he maintains the same attitude both as an Imperial Grand Moff and as the Rebellion's Token Evil Teammate, even as the war and his son's death at Palpatine's orders have turned him far more ruthless. The only time he breaks character and actually engages in his psychotic fantasies is when he discovers the existence of Project Starscream, an Imperial experimental program so evil it deserves what Tarkin does to anyone involved.
    • He also expects his men to be same, both before and after the rise of the Empire, and both as Imperial Grand Moff and as a Rebel leader. He doesn't care what quirks they may have, only that they do their job and keep any useless quirk out of it... And if Imperial officers under his command don't do that he takes the chance to take them out and weaken the Empire.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The various assassins in The Bourne Series. The one that comes to mind is The Professor, the guy with the trenchcoat and glasses who gets gunned down in the wheat field in Identity.
  • Ace Rothstein in Casino. This is at once his greatest strength and his undoing: it makes him a moneymaking machine, but it also makes him totally unable to tolerate unprofessionalism in his subordinates (even those whose continued employment is necessary to keep the local power structure happy).
  • The Jackal from (surprise surprise) The Day of the Jackal.
  • Galaxy Quest has Sir Alexander Dane, a Classically-Trained Extra who's utterly sick of Selling the Show at conventions, refusing to make his appearance with the others. Unfortunately for him, Jason Nesmith knows he's also this.
    Jason: You will go out there.
    Alexander: I won't, and nothing you say will make me.
    Jason: The Show Must Go On.
    Alexander: ...Damn you. Damn you.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has Angel Eyes; while he's a vicious, cold-blooded killer, he does not fail to complete jobs when he's paid. In his first scene, he blows a man away after the man unsuccessfully tries to offer double what Angel Eyes's employer paid... and then pockets the money offered, goes back to his employer, and kills him. After all, he'd taken the money.
  • The Hitman's Bodyguard: Michael Bryce works hard to embody this trope, but a failed escort job puts him into a massive tailspin which leaves him a shell of his former self. Even so, he still makes the most of his limited resources while trying to safely transport Darius Kincaide to testify at a trial, employing extensive planning, attention to detail, and rather impressive driving and hand-to-hand fighting skills. In contrast, Kincaide, the titular hitman, is impulsive and Hot-Blooded, and chafes at the idea that he needs a bodyguard.
  • Hot Fuzz: Nicholas Angel is a Deconstruction; being so dedicated to his job means he has no time for anything else and makes everyone else around him look bad, leading him to be reassigned to a quiet town in the country. He eventually mellows out a little after spending time with the comparatively more relaxed cops there.
  • In a mostly non-violent example, Pepper Potts from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the Girl Friday. She's utterly Married to the Job, and that job is whatever Tony Stark needs her to be. From breaking into a supervillain's office to steal files to running a multi-billion dollar company so he can focus on his gadgets, Pepper can do it all. Despite clearly being Tony's love interest, she has a history of refusing to date him if his immaturity interferes with her job (and, by extension, his own). The only thing that she's missing is the stoic demeanor, though that's hardly her fault.
  • Subverted with Agent Smith in The Matrix films: he acts that way because he's programmed to be that way. When he goes rogue, he becomes egomaniacal and emotional.
  • Agent Kay in Men in Black, being a traditional Man in Black in contrast with impulsive, wisecracking new recruit Agent Jay.
  • Léon, the titular character in Léon: The Professional. Duh.
  • Another Tarantino example is Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. Never will you see a man as calm and collected in the business of disposing dead bodies.
  • Reservoir Dogs gives us Mr. Pink, who not only personifies this trope, but is obsessed with it. His primary argument throughout the film is that no one (except himself) is acting like a professional criminal. Some fans suspect that his obsessive attempts to act "professional" might actually be a cover for him being the least experienced out of the criminals and that he's going by the book (or the criminals' variation of it) because he's totally out of his depth, or even terrified at being involved in what became a massacre instead of a simple robbery that also has an unknown rat in the gang.
  • In Scarface (1983), the hitman who killed Tony Montana seemed to be of this type.
  • The main character from The Transporter movies usually tries to be this, but he always faces circumstances that force him to act against his code. He always regrets it, though, since he knows not adhering to his code always comes back to bite him.
  • The Operative in Serenity. He will kill children if he has to and never ask why.
  • Up in the Air: Ryan Bingham is a "Career Transition Counselour". He makes you transit from your job into unemployment. Maybe that qualifies him like "evil". He is really good at his job because that let him be oblivious to his horrible, sad life.
  • Wild Target: Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy), to a T. At least, until the Manic Pixie Dream Girl gets to him. Still, by the end he regained Consummate Professional status.

  • In 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, Captain Raudegen, a soldier serving in the Bavarian military, is tasked with chasing down those who fled the duke, following two of them he spotted, even after he changes his allegiance from Bavaria to Duke Bernard, a foe of Bavaria. Toward the end of the novel, the two escapees meet the captain (now a Colonel) again shortly after finally losing him, when he's assigned to escort the group the two are with instead of hunt them down. One looks suspiciously at the colonel after realizing he's the one that's been chasing them, but the colonel replies "I'm a professional, boy. [...] When [Duke Bernard] says capture her, I try to capture her. When he says protect her, I use everything I know to protect her. Not just until your relative from Lyons joins her. All the way to Brussels," later adding that he's against cruelty for its own sake (though cruelty to gain information is perfectly reasonable to him, as demonstrated with his treatment of a blacksmith he thought had lied to him earlier).
  • The Letters in the Agent G series by C.T. Phipps have a reputation as the greatest professional killers in the world. They can be depended to do their job with a minimum of collateral damage, no chance of being found out, and always within the boundaries of their contract. Agent G is the only one who feels any kind of hint of remorse and even he continues to his job (albeit reluctantly). The Letters, it turned out, were specifically made for this purpose).
  • Anita Blake: Most all of the security/bodyguards and assassins in the series, including Claudia and Edward, up to the point that many of them, unless you are actively trying to hurt them, won't kill you unless they are get paid for it. That would be giving out their services for free.
  • Belisarius in the Belisarius Series is a no-nonsense Combat Pragmatist who just wanted to be a blacksmith but as he can't do that, makes war in as practical a way as possible.
  • The Continental Op created by Dashiell Hammett. One of the toughest and most professional private detectives in literature. Pretty much to the extent that Hammett never gave him a name and he was known only by his job.
  • Discworld:
    • This is the fundamental principle of the Assassins' Guild. An assassin is a professional. They kill people for money (a lot of money), and they do it in an efficient and sporting manner. It is acceptable to kill people for getting in the way of the client, but it's considered inelegant. Killing for any other reason means immediate expulsion and clienthood. After all, if people thought Assassins were also murderers, the whole understanding that allows the Guild to exist would collapse. Their motto is Nil Mortifi Sine Lucre, No killing without profit. They also have standards against taking certain jobs, such as taking two jobs against the same personnote , or taking a job against lapdogsnote , or against killing a person whose death would create a great upheaval in how the guild or city runsnote .
    • In his own way, Death is this. When he bends the rules, and he does so fairly often, it's because he believes that quality of customer service trumps adhering to the letter of regulations.
  • Jared Kincaid of The Dresden Files is a thoroughly professional mercenary and has been one for centuries. Goodman Grey has a similar attitude, as once he's hired he will see a job through to the end. Fortunately, Harry got to him before the Denarians did.
  • In the James Bond novel Thunderball Bond notes to Felix Leiter after touring Emilio Largo's yacht the Disco Volante, that its crew members don't drink or smoke, which indicates they are disciplined professionals.
    • Bond himself was very professional in the novels in that he frequently chose to complete his mission first over having casual sex with the Girl of the Week.
  • Philip Marlowe from Raymond Chandler: The defining quality of Philip Marlowe alongside being a Knight in Sour Armor and Deadpan Snarker is this. Philip Marlowe refuses to accept multiple contracts on the same job, more money than what he was offered, or violate his client's confidentiality. He cannot be bought, bribed, or intimidated into betraying his client or going off a case. Even when his clients are lying to him (and they always are), he's determined to show a great deal of loyalty to them.
  • Manticore Ascendant: Travis Long, in contrast to many of his fellows in the Royal Manticoran Navy, earning him a reputation as a highly capable stick in the mud.
  • Matt Helm: Matt, in the series by Donald Hamilton is a government assassin who takes great pride in his professionalism. He is probably the closest thing to Golgo 13 there is in American pop culture.
  • No Country for Old Men gives a very dark subversion with Professional Killer Anton Chigurh. He has “principles that transcend money” and is “completely honest and reliable,” but his idea of “honesty” includes things like needlessly gunning down the widow of a deceased target simply because he gave his word that he’d do so if the target didn’t cooperate. He kills bystanders, coworkers, and even his employers to ensure he can complete the job as efficiently and safely as possible, and when he finds the $2 million at the end of the novel rather than keep it he simply returns it to his baffled boss, asking neither for a share nor collateral to secure future transactions. The end result is that while he is very professional and has a code of ethics which he obsessively follows, the end result isn’t any different than being a For the Evulz serial killer.
  • The Parker Series, by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake). Parker is a highly professional thief who plans out every detail of a heist. He also will not attempt to steal the take from his partners. Not because of ethical reasons but because he knows that they have to trust each other to pull off the heist. If you betray him then you're pretty much dead.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us many examples of the trope. There are Hired Guns, Private Military Contractors, and straightforward assassins of various stripes and ideologies who live by a code. From the Hedge Knight who tries to stick to his vows while selling his lance/ sword/ horse/ whatever he's got to use for a meal, to the pit fighters in Essos (who, although slaves, definitely have honor-codes as well as their professional status to defend), to the Faceless Men who won't kill anybody not targeted as a "client" as part of the "prayer" or "petition" or "appeal" to their version of Death, to the sellsword who won't sell anything without a contract agreement upfront with stipulated termination clauses. But, for a single character? Take Ser Bronn of the Blackwater as an exemplar. He'll do practically anything to the best of his ability... as long as his price and operational conditions for it are met with remuneration enough to offset the difficulty/ social stigma/ other fallout/ any gaps in his skill-set. If it doesn't meet his criteria, he just won't agree to do it — at all. End of. Parachute clause engaged.
  • Tuf Voyaging: The defining trait of the main character, Havilund Tuf. When he takes on a contract he will fulfill it to the letter: Nothing more, and nothing less, and neither the prospect of fabulous riches or direct threats to his life will sway him. Although he's not above exploiting the letter of a contract to violate the spirit of it if a client earns his ire.
  • Boba Fett is depicted this way in a number of the Star Wars novels.
  • A defining feature of the titular Witchers is that they are professional monster hunters. They ride in to a town, they take the contract, they research and deal with the problem, they take the agreed amount of money for their work, and they leave. They avoid personal entanglements and matters of religion and politics, so that they can continue to ply their trade anywhere in the world, without fear of being stopped. And when an ugly situation comes along that they cannot ignore, they still deal with it quickly and efficiently, and then move on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: While situations try their damnedest to make him act otherwise, Jack Bauer always tries to be this, and shows surprising restraint in trying to keep his personal life and feelings out of his professional life.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is loaded with them, of various degrees:
  • Wayne Jarvis from Arrested Development.
    Wayne Jarvis: Well, I'm a professional. I am serious, and I'm a professional.
    Michael: That's fantastic. So, how long have you been ...?
    Wayne Jarvis: I also don't like small talk... why should I be billing you for small talk when I'm enjoying it as much as you are?
    Michael: Then, this must be a freebie 'cause I'm having a ball.
    Wayne Jarvis: When you're ready to get serious, give me a call.
    • Oddly enough, Wayne Jarvis is caught having an affair with a client's wife shortly thereafter.
  • Breaking Bad
    • Subverted by Gus, who is characterized by his infallible cool and professional conduct. However, late in the series, we learn that his entire operation is dedicated toward a white-hot rampage of revenge against the cartel that killed his best friend and humiliated him. His unprofessional need to gloat over his vengeance ultimately leads to his downfall.
    • Mike, a Punch-Clock Villain who just wants to do his job. He'll roll his eyes and sigh, but he's about as reliable as it gets.
    • The arms dealer Walt buys his first gun from is very professional about the transaction and is actually reluctant to sell the gun to Walt, since Walt is still very much an amateur at that point.
    • The "vacuum cleaner repairman" specializes in helping people obtain new identities and disappear. He is extremely methodical and professional about the entire process and hates deviating from his routine since that is likely to get him caught. He is willing to make an exception with Walt only because he is paid a lot of money for it.
  • Everybody in Criminal Minds. Unprofessional cops who let their emotions cloud their judgement are usually the biggest obstacle the heroes face. In some ways it's part of the popularity of the show - when a character carries the Idiot Ball, the others notice.
  • In Firefly and Serenity, Mal's first officer Zoe is cool, calm, deadly, and almost absolutely loyal to her captain. Who, in contrast, comes off as a bit foolish and is far too idealistic for his line of work or his own good. Her professionalism and loyalty doesn't stop her from dryly snarking about her captain's admittedly foolhardy decisions.
  • In Healer, the titular Healer is this: he does jobs for people, asks no questions, requires no information beyond an objective or paycheck, and forgets whatever he does find out.
  • From House of Cards (US), we have Doug Stamper, Frank Underwood's Chief of Staff. Ruthlessly cold, calculating and efficient at his job, and has no problem getting his hands dirty to get things done. It's no wonder he's Frank's right-hand man. And true to the trope, when he lets his obsession with Rachel Posner, a call-girl mixed up in some of Frank's schemes, get the better of him is when things start to go fatally wrong for him.
  • Both Deputy US Marshals Rachel and Tim from Justified. The former is incredibly stoic with Nerves of Steel, while the latter is an ex-military Cold Sniper who takes pride in his work. At the beginning of the series their cool professionalism comes into stark contrast to Raylan's Cowboy Cop approach and the personal connections he has towards the people they question.
    • Somewhat deconstructed with Tim, however, who is heavily implied to be an alcoholic suffering from PTSD, and who is outright referred to as a ticking bomb by his boss.
  • The River has Captain Kurt Brynildson. Don't touch his guns.
  • The Wire:
    • Bunk Moreland and Kima Greggs, especially in comparison to Jimmy McNulty, a Cowboy Cop who's initially Bunk's partner in Homicide and later works alongside Kima in the Major Crimes Unit.
    • Stringer Bell aspires to be this for the Barksdale gang, but is Too Clever by Half, while Professional Killer Brother Mouzone is the more genuine article down to his bow tie, careful speech and reading habits.
    • The Greeks run their organization very professionally, preferring to keep their distance from street politics, and are willing to walk away with a loss rather than risk capture.
    • Marlo's main enforcer, Chris is a blue collar version of the trope, dressed in modest work clothes and handling his deadly work calmly. Except when dealing with a child molester.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Feng Shui: Not a few Killers, Spies and other characters in the game.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Path Of Honorable Accord is based around this trope. Knights, as they are called, reject emotion in favor of professionalism and cold adherence to their code to keep the Beast at bay.

    Video Games 
  • Shelly de Killer from Ace Attorney. This ends up used against the culprit in 2-4. When it turns out that his employer has been less than professional on his end of the assassin-client relationship, Shelly announces his intent to kill him.
    • Manfred von Karma's family is like this. All of them treat life like the courtroom and get irked when someone else doesn't follow their protocol. Calisto Yew in Ace Attorney Investigations has no problem at laughing at Edgeworth's candor.
    • Apollo Justice has shades of this. While he's quirky like literally everyone else in the franchise, he goes out of his way to be exceedingly professional and serious on the job and is rather ruthless in court. He dislikes when people get off track and shows deep disdain for Klavier Gavin since Gavin doesn't act like a serious professional in court. He's one of the characters who is extremely dedicated to his job of finding the truth, regardless of what the answer will be.
  • Alpha Protocol: Agent Thorton can be played this way by consistently choosing "Professional" responses in dialogue, ignoring more personal options in favor of pragmatism, and keeping his relationship with Mission Control business-like.
    • Of the NPCs, Conrad Marburg embodies this trope. The quickest way to gain his respect is by being just as stone-cold professional as him. Alan Parker and Albatross are close to this trope, but they each have a Morality Pet that bring out It's Personal if they get killed or hurt. However, it is possible to push Marburg off the edge by consistently acting casual and unprofessional around him and dig up enough dirt on him to properly goad him into fighting you to the death.
  • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, Wilhelm and Athena are professional mercenaries, though with different approaches. Wilhelm takes the emotionally-detached route, caring for nothing other than getting paid. Athena, while much more moral believes in seeing a job to the end despite any personal objections, which is the only reason she sticks around with Jack after he starts becoming more villainous (though by the end, vengeance is a partial motivator for both of them).
  • Daughter for Dessert:
    • Heidi, a former bar owner, becomes known for running a tight ship and taking even her boss to task after being hired at the diner as a hostess.
    • Amanda shows shades of this, coming up with a comprehensive plan to save the diner, setting up endless rehearsals for the reopening, and later, displaying obvious frustration at Lily’s initial incompetence in the kitchen.
  • Gail from Dino Crisis is cold, professional, damned good at his job, and prioritizes the mission above all else even at the expense of the well-being of his comrades, which often puts him at odds with Rick who believes looking out for each other should take precedence and leaves Regina in the middle to decide who to side with. It also serves as something of a Meta Twist as fans hot off the heels of Resident Evil expected him to secretly be the villain like Albert Wesker, when in reality he even prioritizes the mission over and above his own well-being and can even die trying to accomplish it if you don't save him.
  • Many characters in Deus Ex are like this, but especially Walton Simons and The Men in Black. You can play JC Denton this way, too. The in-game written material in the FEMA HQ seems like a directed effort to get agents to think of themselves in these terms and thus avoid misgivings.
  • The Courier from Fallout: New Vegas can be played this way. This can lead you to getting lead around by the nose, since a few of the important quest givers are not being straight with you.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Yojimbo, the boss of the Stormblood endgame dungeon Kugane Castle. He is a sword-for-hire who cares little for the motives of his clients; all that matters to him is that he is paid well. The effort he puts into his jobs correlates with the money he is given: lots of money means dead enemies, but little money means he may just up and leave.
  • In Grand Theft Auto Five Trevor describes Chef as a consummate professional when he introduces him as a possible gunman for the Paleto Score
  • Megaera from Hades takes her job of keeping her ex-boyfriend Zagreus from escaping from the Underworld very seriously. Even reigniting their romance won't keep her from repeatedly trying to kill him at full strength whenever he faces her (though to be fair, it's not like actually killing him would have any permanent consequences).
  • Halo:
    • The Master Chief is very much this. To quote Bungie artist Eddie Smith, John-117 is "pretty much the consummate professional. He does his job, walks off, doesn't even get the girl, he's that cool he doesn't need her." He is given an objective and ordered to "Win" and he will execute on that order to the best of his ability, pulling out a victory by any means necessary. He does so because he was raised to be one, along with all the other Spartan-IIs, and fights simply because that is who he is, rather than for any kind of profit or glory. In fact, he displays some discomfort at any media attention, preferring to conduct himself humbly but with absolute self-confidence.
    • Jameson Locke is this too; he treats each assignment as just another job, whatever his private doubts are, and is particularly well-served by his ability to not hold grudges or take things personally.
  • Hidden City has Mr. Black, the Head of the Security Service who takes pride in his reputation as a guardian of order and deliberately keeps his past under wraps. He gets impatient when his subordinates neglect their duties for family, and disregards personal relationships and history when judging a suspect's credibility. He also dislikes revealing personal information, and whenever he lets slip minor details about his life, he'd always instruct the player character not to tell anyone else, fearing that this will damage his reputation.
  • In Hitman, Agent 47 is this canonically, and the player is encouraged to play the game as such (only killing the assigned target via the most covert manner possible, leaving no witnesses or evidence) in order to get the best rating on missions. However, the player can just say "screw it" and massacre the entire level with a machine-gun while dressed as a clown if they want.
  • L.A. Noire: A quite benign example to be sure, but Mal Carruthers, The Coroner is very much this trope. He takes his job dead serious.
  • An example most Like a Dragon fans wouldn't expect from first impressions: Goro Majima. In Yakuza 0, he is introduced running a prestigious cabaret known as the Grand, and he is impeccably polite and professional while on the clock, even using his guile to take care of a troublesome customer and emerging with both parties smelling like roses; this carries over when he is made into the manager of Club SunShine, a competing venue in Sotenbori. Of course, once he's outside the walls of either club, this trait vanishes.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Kaidan has to be repeatedly encouraged to speak freely in order to get any actual insight out of him. He's a lot less uneasy around people of lower rank, but someone of higher rank, like - say - Shepard...
    • You can play Shepard this way in the all the games, often by ignoring the Paragon/Renegade dialogue options and going for the neutral options. You do suffer from a mild version of No Points for Neutrality for the first two games, but the third allows this approach unequivocally.
  • Mass Effect 2 is filled with them:
    • Kasumi Goto, the best thief in the business, not the most famous.
    • Miranda Lawson, who basically lives by the book. Granted, it's Cerberus' book.
    • Mordin Solus, whose loyalty mission is based around his professional and personal disgust with a former pupil.
    • Samara, who basically gave up her life and rebuilt herself around her job as a Knight Templar.
    • Thane Krios, who's been working as an assassin since he was twelve. He once expresses disgust with mercenaries who 'think painted armor makes them professionals'.
    • And on the other hand, subverted with Zaeed. He acts like a calm, cool professional, but a Paragon Shepard can call him out on caring more about his grudge than he does about the mission. To his credit, being rebuked thusly causes Zaeed to postpone his revenge. Zaeed is a professional, but he isn't infallible.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Cora Harper, who once served with an Asari huntress unit, meaning she's the only one outside of Ryder with a confirmed military background (except maybe Drack). It also means she's also the only one in the squad who acts professional, something Ryder might even bring up. She was supposed to be the second in-line in the Pathfinder line of succession, but due to Circumstances, that goes to Ryder. Cora brings this up once, and shows no sign of resenting Ryder for it afterwards, much less letting it effect her work. However, interactions with the squad show she's Not So Above It All all the time.
  • Metal Gear: Solid Snake started as this, but eventually softened up with time. In contrast, his daddy, Big Boss, who started out as a goofy, gullible, naive soldier and hardens into becoming this trope by the end of his tenure.
  • Paralictor Regill Derenge from Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a Hellknight sent by the Order of the Rack to aid in closing the Worldwound, and embodies all the virtues of the Order to the point that being a Hellknight is practically his profession, life and entire personality. He reveals practically no personal information about himself or his past, even when asked, as he considers it irrelevant to your shared goal of closing the Worldwound, rarely questions the Knight-Commander, regardless of alignment or ascension path, as long as you remain goal-oriented on said closing of the Worldwound, and even his 'personal quests' revolve entirely on strengthening your ties to the Hellknights so they can better aid you in closing the Worldwound. Oh, and he's a Gnome, and would rather die of the Bleaching than engage in any gnomish shenanigans that would distract him from focusing entirely on closing the Worldwound.
  • SLAMMED!: One way to play the PC is as a wrestler who doesn't care for attention or looking good, just doing their job and getting the money.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: This is basically Shadow's default mood. While he is capable of cracking (extremely dry) jokes, more often than not Shadow is all business when his mind is set on something and has little to no patience for tomfoolery, especially if it's from Sonic.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, this is a possible way to play the Bounty Hunter, as a professional mercenary who prioritizes killing for money over Mandalorian values and makes a point of fulfilling all contracts to the word while also trying not to judge their clients (which consists primarily of incompetent military officers and psychotic space wizards). Mako in particular tends to favor this approach, coupled with a bit of Hitman with a Heart. One of the more pragmatic Sith Lords actually holds a greater respect for a Bounty Hunter who insists that he's just another client of their's, replying respectfully that he'd expect nothing less.
  • Gen, of Street Fighter. Held the title of world's greatest assassin. He earned it.
  • Super Robot Wars T: Saizo Tokito is a Consummate Professional Salaryman. Don't even try to say about how boring that job is, he will happily state the virtues and the good things that comes with being a Salaryman. He thinks of nothing but how to properly raise the name of the company he works for, like a true pro Salaryman, and is always looking for any new business ventures that his company could use, no matter how ridiculous it is; being stuck in a fantasy world constitutes as a business venture for him. Although he will also protect his friends with every fiber of his being, because that's what a good Salaryman does to keep their camaraderie in job together.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the Sniper, who takes his mercenary work the most seriously out of all the other members of his team. As displayed very well in the "Meet the Sniper" short, while most of his colleagues are varying degrees of Ax-Crazy, he just sees it as a profession he needs to get done and takes pride in his strict adherence to his code of ethics:
    Sniper: Professionals have standards. Be polite. Be efficient. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

    Web Animation 
  • Locus in Seasons 11 and 12 of Red vs. Blue. He's a cold-blooded killer, willing to wipe out a planet, but follows orders and doesn't care for evil gloating. As far as he's concerned, kill them and get it done with. His partner, Felix, on the other hand... not so much. Season 13 reveals, however, that deep down Locus is also a heavily traumatized soldier from his experiences fighting the Covenant in the Great War and acting the role of the professional is just as much a way to cope as it is a lifestyle, something that Felix exploits to keep him around.


    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: The stand-in for the League of Assassins.
  • Gargoyles: Owen Burnett, Xanatos's right hand man. Subverted in that it's not his real face, he's actually a disguise for Puck the Trickster, who's the furthest thing from a Consummate Professional.
  • Zan Owlson in DuckTales (2017) is a serious and collected businesswoman, who as the new CEO of Glomgold Industries contrasts sharply with Flintheart Glomgold himself. She dislikes being reduced to his Beleaguered Assistant when he returns, but continues to try and run a successful business in the wake of his insane schemes, and continues to do so even when Glomgold Industries ends up being owned by Louie. And when she finally has enough of how ridiculous Duckburg billionaires are and announces her resignation, she adds that she'll work her notice and train a replacement "like a professional!".
  • Gravity Falls: News reporter Shandra Jimenez not only works for a local news channel that seems much more professional than "The Gravity Falls Gossiper", but when the apocalypse hits Gravity Falls in the three-part series finale Weirdmaggedon, Shandra keeps right on going, surviving a few days into the end of the world, still reporting the news, and very bravely breaks into Bill's lair to show the citizens of Gravity Falls what's going on. And when she gets turned to stone, she takes it with dignity. A real reporter indeed.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: As Ladybug, Marinette Dupain-Cheng would rather stay focused on the task at hand than flirt, joke, or indulge in celebrity fame. This is why Chat Noir's jokes annoy her when he utters them at the worst possible moments and the cause behind most Parisians viewing Chat Noir as Ladybug's sidekick instead of a partner who is her equal. She is clearly cut for leadership and, although not free from some moments of weakness (she's only a teenager, after all), will put her duty to protect Paris above everything else.
  • The Legend of Korra: With Bolin, Varrick and her fiancé's general friendly demeanor around Kuvira, her strict no-nonsense demeanor and lack of voice inflection stand out.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Montana of the Enforcers, who later takes on the identity of the Shocker. During his fight with Spider-Man he gets particularly annoyed when the hero mockingly compares his performance to the low-level street thugs Flint Marko and Alex O'Hirn, dismissing them as "punks" and expressing pride in working his "profession". When he joins the first iteration of the Sinister Six, it's explicitly only because his boss ordered him to; he quickly becomes irritated with his teammates (which include the now-superpowered Marko and O'Hirn) and hopes he'll be given permission to leave quickly, but still drops the grumbling and puts his best effort into teamwork while in active combat with Spidey.
  • Young Justice (2010): Deathstroke. Most notably when he's poised to kill the defeated Lagoon Boy and instead chooses to knock him out for no reason other than the young hero isn't currently on his employer's kill list.