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Crutch Character

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"Sir Jagen is a paladin: the champion of Altea! I’ve never met him, but I hear he’s strong as an ox despite his age. Still, you can't have a champion like him do everything; that’s not fair to all your would-be future champions! Let our other units fight and gain experience, or you may find yourself in a real fix down the line."
A villager, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, on Jagen

Crutch characters are player characters (typically available early on) who start out powerful enough to carry your party to victory on their own, but the player cannot rely on them indefinitely. This could be because they Can't Catch Up with the increased powers of newer enemies or their fellow characters, or because they simply leave the party at some point (possibly because they are The Mole), or they are killed, thus forcing the player to somehow come up with a replacement. Worse, without Leaked Experience, the crutch may actually cripple your party if you lean on them too heavily — if they leave, or if their diminishing returns make their levels empty, then you've functionally wasted experience points that could have made other characters powerful. In short, they are the character equivalent of a Disc-One Nuke.


There are six reasons for this trope occurring:

  • The character is forced to Level Drain.
  • Weaker enemies give less EXP to more powerful characters, so the character Can't Catch Up.
  • The character is a Guest-Star Party Member.
  • The character leaves, and doesn't come back until everyone else has caught up.
  • The character is meant to be A Taste of Power that lingered for too long, who later leaves or dies.
  • The character simply has bad stat growth; they don't gain as much from leveling up as the other characters do.

Thus, they are like a crutch — you can lean on them to overcome a weakness early on, but eventually, the game will kick the crutch out from under you, and your other characters must have learned to stand on their own two feet by that time, or you are doomed to fail (and if you still have it by the time you're fully healed, it will be much more of a liability to carry around).


The Crutch Character serves two purposes — his strength prevents the player from being overwhelmed in the early stages of the game when he's still learning the rules, and he provides a useful object lesson. Most novices, given a powerful unit, will come to overly rely on him, and won't raise their other units enough, leaving those characters weak and unable to defend themselves. By quickly obsoleting or otherwise removing the Crutch Character (or perhaps making the Crutch's later function different), the designers deter this strategy; in other words, it's a way of attacking the Unstable Equilibrium. All that said, sometimes this trope doesn't quite work out - for instance, the character might have poor stat growth, but if their starting stats are already sufficient to handle most of the game's challenges, then they just go from "overkill" to "serviceable." If the designers forget to deter this strategy, you have a One-Man Party.


Usually, a Crutch Character will be a protector or bodyguard of some kind. Of course, there are exceptions.

Characters who are the Jack may often fall into this category, particularly in non MMORPG games.

All of the above notwithstanding, some players may simply not give a rat's behind about Character Tiers and continue using the Crutch Character throughout the game, power levels be damned.

A specific form of The Ace. See also Overrated and Underleveled, Skill Gate Character, Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, and Changing Gameplay Priorities. Contrast with Magikarp Power and One-Man Party. This character often acts as the EXP version of So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear.


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     Action Adventure 
  • The Phantom Armour is like this in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In the early game, it's amazing since it boosts Link's attack by three stages and acts like a second tier armour set without requiring any upgrades. This makes Master Mode much more manageable early on. However, it also cannot be upgraded at any point, so once you've started upgrading armour to level 3 or above, it ends up outclassed by almost every other armour set in the game. This is especially true compared to the Barbarian set and Fierce Deity set, which have the same effects yet are able to be upgraded like normal.

     First-Person Shooter  
  • Mordecai characters in Borderlands who focus on Bloodwing with leveling up. Early on during the game, Bloodwing can One-Hit Kill enemies left and right and turn boss battles into a joke. Once you get to the higher levels, though, Bloodwing barely scratches the majority of the enemies you face. Luckily, Borderlands allows you to respec your abilities on a whim, so Bloodwing-spec hunters aren't screwed once they get to the lategame.
    • Likewise, Bricks who go into maxing out Brawler/Tank trees with the right cooldowns & class mods (Having a five second cooldown on your minute default skill? Sure, why not). Extremely potent in the first playthrough, arguably to the point of being a Game-Breaker, but because of how the game scales Berserk damage, it skill becomes decreasingly useful throughout the second playthrough, prompting a lot of Bricks to respec into the Blaster/Tank trees and use Berserk for healing.
  • In Borderlands 2, a few characters have trees that fall into this.
    • Salvador's Brawn tree. His action skill makes him dual-wield, regenerate ammo, reduce damage, and heal 50% of his total health. Brawn increases his survivability. However, most of these skills are based on either health regeneration (which doesn't grow nearly as fast as enemy damage) or only work while Gunzerking (which has a time limit). By the time you get to True Vault Hunter Mode, most enemies will be able to kill in 2-5 hits, while every regen ability at once will take well over ten seconds to restore full health. In contrast, many high-level offensive builds will have their skills all working together to boost damage exponentially, letting you kill almost everything before it gets a hit in.
      • Borderlands 2 also has a mechanic known as "health gating" where, as long as you are above 50% health, enemies cannot deplete your entire health bar in one hit. This means that taking skills that increase your max health isn't just useless on higher difficulties, it's actively detrimental. Keeping your health as low as possible while using one of Moxxi's unique weapons (which all have a Life Drain effect that is based on the damage you do) can potentially make you unkillable, Salvador especially.
    • Gaige's "Best Friends Forever" skill tree focuses on powering up her Deathtrap similar to Mordecai's Bloodwing in the first game. The tree also contains skills like "Close enough" which gives missed bullets a chance to ricochet back to the enemy, making aiming easier for beginners, but also for people who enjoy using Anarchy, which increases power at the expense of accuracy.
    • Axton's Gunpowder tree. Nuke is insanely powerful in normal mode, does decent damage in true vault hunter mode, and barely tickles the enemies in ultimate vault hunter mode. Similarly, Double Upnote  becomes 100% useless once you can Slag regularly from other sources.
      • The turret itself qualifies, scaling down in damage much like the Nuke does. Also, it does not target bosses. You can use the turret to kill nearly everything, get to the boss, toss out the turret... and stare at it while it just sits there doing absolutely nothing. This is shown the most in the Gunpowder skill tree, where the Sabre Turret is only used to keep the heat off Axton as he uses his own weapons, eg. Torgue or Dahl assault rifles/rocket launchers, and his grenades to deal damage at medium range.
    • Zer0's Sniping tree features amazingly versatile skills early on (Accuracy Bonus? Check. Critical hit bonus? Check. Penetrating Critical hits with stupidly increasing damage PER enemy penetrated that can be performed with near enough any weapon AND highlights prime critical hit locations? Check. Check and Check.), however you go any deeper and you would be better off going into close combat rather than snipe the enemy.
    • Zer0's Bloodshed (melee) tree is amazingly useful when you gain its final ability, allowing you to clear rooms of mooks with contemptible ease. Once you enter the endgame and start looking at taking on the end- and Bonus Bosses, however, you find that bloodshed is amazingly not-useful against anything you cannot One-Hit Kill, and in Bonus Boss land and in ultimate vault hunter mode it's all about being able to stack that rapid-fire damage.
  • Claptrap in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is a crutch character. You need a steady supply of oxygen to survive outside world areas, which are widespread in early game, and you start out fighting enemies that inflict Fire damage that shreds unarmored flesh; but since Claptrap is a robot, he does not need any oxygen, and takes reduced damage from non-elemental and Fire attacks like most in-universe robots. However, his action skill relies entirely on randomness: you never know what specific effect you're going to get, and this makes planning your fights much more difficult than the rest of the cast that has predictable action skills.
  • The Tutorial Mission of Far Cry 3 involves escaping Vaas' compound... with Jason's ex-Army brother leading the way. He talks you through it, tells you exactly where to go and what to do to avoid being spotted, and even kills the few enemies who the two of you stumble across. Then he's fatally shot, Vaas gives you a head start just for the hell of it, and you're left to your own devices for the rest of the game.

     Hack and Slash  
  • The Amazon in the Capcom arcade game Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy. She can hit max level (8) before the first main boss, and her crossbow can clean up virtually anything. But it's weak compared to other allies on similar levels. In fact, she ends up unavailable through the last third of the game (unless another player joins in). The Knight, on the other hand, is the other way around.
  • Unicorn Gundam from Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3. Available as soon as Banagher Links become playable, this Mobile Suit isn't anything special while on his standard mode. However, once it uses a SP attack, it changes into Destroy Mode, that makes it extremely fast, with a much longer range and a small attack bonus. Once it gets into Destroy Mode, his speed and range makes it possible to destroy several enemies at once, which will raise its SP gauge very quickly and allows the player to enter in Destroy Mode again and again, in a infinite cycle. However, by abusing it the player will neglect developing other suits that are mandatory in other missions. Long story short, the player will have to stop and grind for a while every time he stumbles with a harder mission in which he isn't allowed to use the Unicorn Gundam.

  • Prince Rurik of Guild Wars escorts the party of PCs and, if so desired, NPC henchmen on a number of missions. Given that he's level 10 and never changes that, he's quite useful when your character is level three and, well, peters off after that. Then, quite naturally, he bites the dust. Who didn't see that one coming?
    • Heroes, introduced in Nightfall and further in Eye of the North, act as customisable henchmen and veritable Crutch Characters. Each hero fills out a single party slot, but have access to any skills that your account, rather than character, has unlocked. For Elonan characters (characters that start in the Nightfall campaign), Nightfall heroes are generally introduced at comparative levels to yours, but Eye of the North heroes are all max level, and you can get them at a level as low as 10 (half the level cap). Heroes are useful throughout the Prophecies campaign, as the henchmen available to you only hit the level cap near enough three-fourths of the way through the game.
  • A minor example in Mabinogi. New players are given the Elegant armor, which has very good Defense (linearly lowers damage) and Protection (lowered damage by a percentage) compared to the armor in shops, all of which cost hundreds of thousands of pieces of gold for half the protection. However, the Elegant set cannot be upgraded or enchanted, meaning that all the time the player spends wearing it and gaining Proficiency for it goes down the drain as that Proficiency cannot be used.
  • Shin Megami Tensei Imagine Online gives the player a Wounded Cerberus at the end of the tutorial. It is a strong demon with good stats and a respectable array of magic, including Recarm, Media and Fire Breath. However, it cannot be fused, gains experience 10 times slower than normal, and is removed from the player's party not after long.
    • Cerberus is well-known throughout the series for joining the player (usually temporarily for an upcoming boss fight, but can rejoin later) in flagrant disregard of the level restrictions.
  • The Knights of Cygnus in Maplestory used to be like this. They are basically the five normal classes, except you could not choose the second job and they have slightly different skills. They gained more points for their stats when leveling up, but their level capped at 120 instead of 200 like the other classes. Later Subverted when you reached level 120 and could restart as an Ultimate Adventurer, a stronger version of the regular Adventurer classes (Although they have a few disadvantages compared to them). More recently, Cygnus characters were changed to have a normal progression and the same level cap as everyone else.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, each class gets five companions, each of a different spec (Ranged tank, Melee tank, ranged DPS, melee DPS, healer). Additional companions are HK-51 (DPS) and Treek (who can tank or heal depending on how she's specced). They are nigh-essential when leveling to get you through tight spots in the PvE environment, but you can't take them on Operations, and while they can be used in Flashpoints, they are limited (their AI doesn't instruct them to avoid AOE attacks, for example). Still, a player who knows how to make good use of their companion characters will find the game much easier than one who doesn't.

  • Commander Video in Super Meat Boy has a floatjump that allows horizontal precision and will make the first two worlds much easier. However, he doesn't have much speed or jumping height, so in later worlds, beating levels with him can sometimes be impossible.
  • Zero in Mega Man X3. At the start of the game, X has a small health bar and no weapons or upgrades, while Zero is a beast with a large health bar and the ability to fire two charged shots at once, along with a Laser Blade that's a One-Hit Kill on most non-boss enemies. However, Zero only has one life, and he cannot be called on more than once per stage (and he can't play any more than one-third of any given level since he cannot be taken through boss or mini-boss doors). He's mostly intended to get through trouble spots until X acquires more upgrades; fully powered-up, X outshines Zero in every way (though it's still possible to get Zero's sword as well, even though the method for doing so is a bit of a hassle).
  • Since the introduction of upgrading weapons and health in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, the starting weapons almost always fall into this, with the first two weapons typically being a semi-automatic laser pistol and a bomb lobber. As they are early weapons they upgrade fairly quickly, but by the middle of the game the enemies have so much health that they become impractical to use (in fact the Bouncer was a deliberate attempt by the developers to replace the Mini-Nuke in terms of function). Because the Lancer was often the first weapon this happened to, some fans have taken to calling this affliction Lancer Syndrome.

     Puzzle Games 
  • In Meteos, Globin and Darthvega are very good at pressuring opponents with large amounts of garbage blocks, and these civilizations' relatively slow fall speeds allow players using these planets to easily defend themselves. However, the longer a Meteos match takes, the shorter the leniency period is between when a column fills up with blocks and when the game declares a loss, and Globin and Darthvega have by far the shortest periods once enough time has passed. Thus, it is absolutely critical that anyone using either of these planets finish off their opponents as quickly as possible, preferably within the first 90 seconds. Otherwise they'll be done in by the slightest error, or the player will be too focused on mere survival and allow the opponents to surpass them in score or pressure.
    • Hevendor is a crutch civilization in a different way: Whereas all other planets rely on multiple ignitions to launch their blocks off the playfield, Hevendor will instantly zap them away in single ignitions. This means a skilled Hevendor player can put enormous amounts of pressure on opponents in the form of garbage blocks through sheer speed. However, if an opponent can hold up under Hevendor, particularly in Meteos Wars which introduced a 3-minute time limit with the winner determined by score if time runs out, Hevendor will almost certainly lose because it cannot benefit from the score multipliers obtained through multi-stage ignitions.
  • Kwincy the spider from Best Fiends. He starts out as the first yellow converter character you get in the game, playing a heavy role for yellow-clearing levels. However, further unlocking introduces Woody the woodlouse, another yellow team member, whose converter is a double one, meaning he gets twice the power and abilities in the same span that Kwincy can, rendering the spider useless later on.

     Racing Games  
  • In Diddy Kong Racing, Tiptup and especially Pipsy are the go-to characters for easy handling, and a lot of people stick to them to steamroll early races in favor of learning to use other characters properly. However, they have terrible top speed, and sooner or later they end up having to work just as hard, if not even more so for their victories by virtue of everyone else just being faster. This is the source of many a complaint about the game's sudden difficulty.
  • In most of the later Super Mario Kart games, most people will usually use karts and combinations with higher acceleration and handling with low top speed similar to the Diddy Kong Racing example. While this works well in earlier races such as 50cc and 100cc, it becomes completely hopeless in higher difficulties like 150cc and Mirror Mode where having a high top speed is outright mandatory in order to stand a chance at victory, especially in later races.
  • Before being patched, the Buick Special was the go-to car for Gran Turismo 5 players. The car could be won very early on, it was spades quicker than other cars at that stage of the game and was also an older car, this meant it fit into almost every category needed for certain special events in A-Spec mode. However, reliance on the car became a problem later on, whilst fitting criteria, certain modes had cars more adapted to pure racing, whilst money spent on upgrading the Buick could have gone to getting a more stable and race-worthy car, leaving players stuck for choice.
  • The Turning Class of racers in the Crash Team Racing series of games. Their excellent turning can make a huge difference through the entire story mode (especially the final track, which is filled with tight turns), but their pitiful top speed and subpar acceleration make them unusable, especially when the concept of utilizing speed pad boosts continuously, or "Sacred Fire", is introduced.
    • This becomes even more noticeable in Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled, where (potentially unintended) mechanics are introduced that allow for every racing class to make tight turns that even turning characters couldn't otherwise, and the max top speed through blue-fire turbo pads becomes different between classes.

     Real-Time Strategy  
  • The Warcraft III Expansion Pack The Frozen Throne's Undead campaign featured King Arthas growing weaker due to a rift in his master's lair, the frozen throne. This downgrading manifests in a reduction of Arthas's level by 1 per mission, but adding a second hero halfway through the campaign. The last mission finally allows Arthas to regain his lost levels to allow you to have two max-level heroes for the final assault. (You needed them, as your opponent, naturally, had three. Yes, three.)
  • This happens on at least two annoying occasions in Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich: in the last third of the game, Alchemiss (who became a much more useful character in this game than in the original) turns into Dark Phoenix Entropy and becomes the new Big Bad, making all the time spent leveling her up suddenly useless. More unforgivable is the fact that Entropy starts erasing other members of your party from existence almost without warning.. Though the game can still be completed fairly easily even if you spent time on these characters, it's still a bit annoying.
  • Captain Antilles (not Wedge, the other Antilles) in Empire at War shows up during the first mission in the Alliance campaign and is quite powerful (although all hero units capable of combat are) but both leave once the player has gotten a good start and controls nearly half the galaxy. Antilles also leaves just before the player can build Capital Ships.
  • The PC (aka Opinion Leader) himself in the original Ogre Battle. Depending on Alignment, he can start with a powerful elemental attack that hits the entire enemy party (Ice Cloud, Thunder or Phantom), and above average stats. So when your forces are only basic fighters and amazons, he great. But later in the game, when Warlocks, Devils, Angels and Princesses start popping up with the ability to use the same spells multiple times per battle, the Opinion Leader starts to fall behind. Add that his stats influence his ability to recruit characters and learning when to use the Opinion Leader becomes an art.
    • Add to that the fact that any enemies killed by Tarot Cards give their xp to the Opinion Leader (just him, not his entire unit) instead of the unit actually engaged, and it becomes very easy later in the game for the OL to greatly outlevel the campaign enemies. The problem? Fighting lower level enemies will destroy his alignment rating, making it impossible to recruit key characters or get good endings. For this reason a lot of players probably just keep him parked on the player capital in later campaigns and let the other units do the dirty work.
  • Tribal characters in Crusader Kings II and Crusader Kings III are intended as this. In contrast to feudal characters, tribals have a lot of restricted rules on what they can and cannot do, and can generally expand through war extremely quickly and cheaply. Their buildings and retinues of men-at-arms are extremely cheap and are paid for partially using prestige (much easier to obtain than gold) and they all have access to raiding and concubines for large families and a lot of income. However, by the mid-to-lategame the technological superiory and quality of feudal rulers' men-at-arms means they are capable of defeating tribal levies several times their numbers, and tribal leaders must use succession methods that automatically split up the ruler's realm amongst his heirs upon death. The intended mechanic for tribals appear to be to defeat your neighbours and then tech up to going feudal, or to simply conquer a feudal realm and settle it.
    • The Nomads from Crusader Kings II's "Horse Lords" DLC were intended to put a different spin on this, having almost all-horse armies that were incredibly powerful but almost no income, technology or control over their territory (which was open steppes with no development potential) at all, and would also need to conquer and settle to become feudal. However, their incredibly overpowered mechanics meant that in practice no feudal ruler could ever compete with their all-horse armies and canny players could easily conquer the world while remaining on horseback.
    • Realm-wise, Crusader Kings II introduced characters who start out with so-called event armies, essentially free men that they could use to engage in early conquests before nearby realms could catch up, but these armies were non-replacable and would never replenish. William of Normandy and Haesteinn of Nantes are two examples of these from the game's 1066 and 867 start, respectively, with Haesteinn in particular beloved for his ability to use those event armies to conquer in practically any direction he so desires.
  • Timur for the Timurids in Europa Universalis III. A fantastic ruler and general... who, at the earliest start, is going to die of old age anytime now.
    • The Ottomans have a massive land and manpower base at the earliest start date, with technology to match the medieval western nations, making expansion a cake-walk. However their Anatolian technology group gives them statistically inferior units to their Polish, Austrian and Hungarian rivals past the early game. Throw in good leaders and military ideas and Ottoman events like the Janissary Decadence, and by mid-game the Ottomans will start to fall behind. By the late game (when the Napoleonic wars roll about), the Ottomans will have undergone pretty crippling Badass Decay and will find taking on the Europeans really rough going.
      • In the sequel, Europa Universalis IV, the new institution system gives non-European nations a greater ability to keep up in technology, especially in the hands of a player, making a powerful non-western country less of a crutch character than in the previous installment. However certain nations still require some major reforms to not fall behind, particularly Steppe Hordes, who start out very strong with large powerful cavalry armies and the ability to raze provinces for quick short-term gains. But unless they reform their government they'll quickly fall behind in technology and by continuously razing everything they conquer they'll naturally be sacrificing long-term development.
    • For the Timurids in Europa Universalis IV, Shah Rukh, Timur's grandson, is another example. He is a good general and ruler and gives his empire very strong modifiers, for a very good reason. Again he's an old man, and as soon as he dies those modifiers go away, beginning the collapse of the Timurid Empire.
  • In Stellaris, you can give your starting alien species the Extremely Adaptive trait which will let them colonise planets of any climate right off the bat (except for Tomb Worlds) and hence give them a huge advantage in the early-game scramble for the biggest and most resource rich planets. The trait however costs a hefty 4 trait points, forcing you to take two negative traits to afford it, and late-game technologies like planetary terraforming, genetic modification and Habitability techs will render it obsolete. Taking the Biological Ascension Path will allow you to remove this trait later on and refund the four points to spend on more useful traits.
    • Similarly, the Talented trait lets your leaders start at level 2, but this one costs 2 points, and with enough time your opponents will catch up.
    • Spaceports early on have enough firepower and defence to make mincemeat of any fleet and make early rushes impossible, though it takes 350 Minerals to build one - several months worth of income at a time when everything will be demanding that precious resource. Later on, Spaceports won't make much of a ent in your empire's pockets, but neither will they make much of a dent in any fleet big enough to invade a planet with.
    • One of the easiest star nations to play is the Rogue Servitors introduced in Synthetic Dawn. As a robot empire, they can colonise any planet right off the bat, don't need to worry about factional strife, and never get unhappy Pops. They also suffer no diplomatic penalties (unlike the other two machine empires). To top it all off, they get a massive influence and resource production bonus when the ratio of servitor machines to organic "bio-trophies" in your empire is 60-40 - and did we mention that bio-trophy pops generate a nice amount of Unity points, allowing your machine empire to rapidly climb the tradition tree?
  • James's second mission in Sacrifice can (and probably will) net you the support of Sirocco in the next few missions. She leaves if you do too many evil missions or if you get her killed, which becomes more likely in later missions when more powerful opponents appear. Let's hope you didn't get lazy and neglect to learn any other tactics besides having your heroic version of a level 9 creature wipe out the level 3 army before you.
  • The Total War series will often combine this with A Taste of Power at the start of the game by giving a faction a unit far stronger than what they'd be able to recruit themselves at that point in the game. For example, in Rome: Total War, The Julii Romans will start with a unit of Triarii spearmen and the Greek Cities a unit of Spartan hoplites. Both units are at least two full tiers above what those factions would actually be able to recruit themselves for many in-game years. These units could almost single-handedly cut a swath through the low tier rabble the various "Rebel" faction neighbors have at that point, but any attrition suffered by the elite unit will hurt as the player will not be able to replenish the unit or recruit more for quite some time.
    • In Medieval II: Total War, the Byzantines/Eastern Roman Empire. While they start with one of the most formidable rosters of any faction in the early game, including the powerful Varangian Guard and the Cataphracts. However, they have a huge lack of late-game technologies and units (no cannons or muskets!), and only their cavalry really still stay competitive.
    • In Total War: Warhammer, the Dwarfs have the easiest start thanks to their selection of well-armoured melee and effective ranged units, special faction trait which gives the Dwarfs Undying Loyalty (which means pesky civil wars aren't a problem), easily defended territory, and strong relations with the minor Dwarfholds makes alliances and confederations a snap. However their Stone Wall durability comes at a price: they field no cavalry at all, and their infantry are universally slower than those of other races. No magic spells, either (though plenty of magical items).

  • Pets in NetHack. Your starting puppy or kitten is more powerful than all but a few roles in the very early game, and unlike you, it doesn't attract more powerful monsters when it levels up. As you proceed through the game, you can create or acquire better pets, but for most characters, there comes a point where pets in general cease to be much use; they're either too slow to keep up with you, too weak to attack the few monsters that still pose a credible threat, or too vulnerable to incoming rays and dungeon hazards. It doesn't help that NetHack's pet AI isn't nearly as well-designed as most other aspects of the game.
  • The Hokage and the Dragon from Rogue Legacy. The Hokage is extremely strong early on due to his base damage, but because he cannot critically strike, it makes him fall off, as only 1/2 of the stats you can buy to increase your damage. This becomes especially noticeable on New Game+, as the assassin's critical hit rate continues to creep upwards, eventually allowing him to deal more damage while maintaining a more broadly useful special ability. The dragon gets an insane mobility, but using runes you can make any character fly, and the other two spellcasters in the game are just so much better than he is. The dragon remains useful as a boss hunter, though - because you don't have to spend runes on other things, the dragon can focus on enhancing its already insane mobility, making it easy to avoid the bosses' attacks and use hit-and-run tactics that never allow the boss to hit back.
  • The secret character Sgt. Gunny in Sword of the Stars: The Pit: Gold Edition. He has higher base stats than the Marine but lower stat growth and can't use advanced armour without penalties.

     Role-Playing Games  
  • Final Fantasy has at least one for every game in their franchise:
    • The Red Mage in Final Fantasy I starts out as a Jack-of-All-Stats, especially thanks to their high base stats and some buggy mechanics making them equal to the White and Black Mages in terms of pure power (though not as frequent of a caster). But as time goes on, the White and Black Mage learn more powerful spells and their charges become more numerous, and the Fighter and Black Belt (and eventually Ninja in all versions but the NES one) considerably outstrip the Red Mage in damage due to better stat growth. By the endgame, though hardly useless, they've fallen into Master of None territory.
    • Minwu in Final Fantasy II is the Ur-Example for Final Fantasy. He joins with just under 200 HP and several high-level White Magic spells at a point when your characters have only begun to learn magic and have almost 100 HP, if you've been level grinding. He then leaves the group.
    • The Soul of Rebirth mode in the remakes stars three party members from the main game, retaining whatever stats and equipment they had when they left the party. Two of these characters are the first two Guest Star Party Members of the game, meaning they'll likely rely heavily on Prince Scott, who was not previously playable and thus has fixed (fairly high) stats and Ricard Highwind, the last Guest-Star Party Member until the former two can catch up.
    • Final Fantasy IV:
      • Cecil is this for nearly his entire Dark Knight run. Once you lose Kain he'll be your only hard-hitting physical attacker (and likely the only one you keep in the front row) until you recruit Yang, making him essential for winning random battles as all your magic users at this point have vastly limited MP (Tellah can never go above 90, meaning at his absolute strongest he's limited to 18 casts of Fire, the weakest attack spell) and have physical attacks that can't even manage to hit most of the time. Ironically he becomes an inversion when you scale Mount Ordeals and Golbez sends the undead Scarmiglione and his minions, all of whom Cecil's dark sword can only manage 1 HP of damage against, to take him out.
      • Tellah is an old sage with both black and white magic. He is overleveled for the cave at which he is first available, being able to allow himself and his allies to live off of the enemies with ease using Cura and Osmose. He is available again later on, but at this point you'll have caught up to him in power, until he gets his memories back and remembers all the top-tier magic he forgot before. Granted, his stats suck so those spells aren't as impressive as they could be, but he still gets access to them and can get good usage out of them.
      • Believe it or not, Edward can be this. Yes he starts at a low level, yes he has crappy stats, and yes he has utterly worthless abilities. It's his weapon. Being a projectile it does the same damage from the back row, but that's not what makes it valuable: it's nearly guaranteed to inflict status ailments on enemies at no cost (His initial harp inflicts sleep, and the one found in Antlion's den inflicts confuse). With a little bit of level grinding to boost his speed stat, you can utterly cripple the enemy party and pick them off without wasting Rydia's MP, and his low attack power actually becomes a benefit when equipped with the Lamia Harp as it guaranteed won't kill the enemies which are now attacking their allies instead of you.
      • Fusoya of the same game is in a similar boat. He might not be a pure Crutch Character in that he isn't obtained until very late in the game and your party is fine without him, but he's very similar to Tellah, ability-wise. And rather than having some stats increase while others decrease when he levels up, Fusoya's stats never change at all.
      • The sequel's protagonist is, well, a particularly weak weakling at the start. The game compensates by giving you Biggs and Wedge then The Hooded Man, who are much better, to assist.
      • Later in the game you get Golbez for the final tale, who much like Tellah and Fusoya gets access to high-level magic long before your other party members do, and gets around 1500-2000 more HP than them to boot.
    • Red Mages in Final Fantasy V can use both White and Black magic sets with only one command slot, giving them extra flexibility and freeing up the second command slot for something else. However, about halfway through the game they stop learning new spells from either school, rendering any time you spent training them wasted unless you commit to the long, long grind to unlock Doublecast, which by itself is nigh-useless unless you've spent the time training them as either a White or Black mage.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics actually has two, in the form of the two characters Agrias and Gaffgarion, whose skills during the intro sequence make mopping up the tutorial enemies total child's play. This is also an example of A Taste of Power, as soon after the fight, the character has a flashback to several months prior with a level one party.
    • Final Fantasy VI has several.
      • To an extent, Sabin is a crutch character for most of the game because of his blitzes. But when you reach the end game and start getting the most powerful relics and weapons, Sabin falls behind characters who can equip more powerful weapons and who have better magic stats. Doing 9999 damage to one enemy with Bum Rush doesn't stack up to characters who can hit everything with Ultima for 9999 damage, or use the Genji Glove/Offering combo to well exceed 9999 damage.
      • When first obtaining Gau, if you know how Rages work and which ones are useful, he'll have access to the -ra spells and some other extremely damaging moves before anyone else does. Also, his stats will be higher than everyone else's and the armor and weapons they can equip that he can't won't be powerful enough to make up the difference. Later on, when EVERYONE is crazy overpowered, his inability to be controlled becomes more of a liability.
      • Early on in the game, the party briefly has Banon, a Guest-Star Party Member with one specific ability: casting a completely free, party wide Cure 2. Many players take advantage of this to rubber-band the A button on the controller down and let a looping set of fights play over and over, powerleveling their team. This turns out to be a bit of a liability, however, as the player doesn't have access to Esper stat bonuses yet.
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Aeris. She has the highest magic stats in the group (in a game where magic far outdamages everything else until the extreme lategame), you can get a stave that slots seven materia fairly early on (other characters don't get that until disc 2) and Yuffie is the only other character with a healing Limit Break. Likely done deliberately to make her Plotline Death that much more of a Player Punch.
      • During the Nibelheim Flashback, Sephiroth effortlessly slaughters whole screens of enemies and requires no player input to do it, while your Level 1 Cloud is controllable, but can hardly scratch most monsters and falls unconscious in one hit.
      • Yuffie was intended to be this, but in practice is more of a Game-Breaker. Assuming you recruit her when first available, she has good all-round stats, deals full damage from the back row, excellent speed and comes with the Throw Materia equipped, which will be your first way to achieve four-digit damage unless you're doing really strange things with the game. Her initial Limit Break is a Moveset Clone of Master of All Cloud's initial Limit Break Braver, and her second is a clone of Aeris's initial Limit Break Healing Wind, meaning that when you first get her she splits the difference between the two most powerful characters in the game. Her Ultimate Weapon and powerful-single-hit ultimate Limit Break can be obtained relatively quickly compared to everyone else's, with the idea being that other characters would surpass her in the endgame; unfortunately, thanks to a programming error, her Ultimate Weapon is the most consistently powerful one in the game, dealing higher damage against higher level enemies, instead of higher damage when the enemy's level is higher than Yuffie's.
      • After completing Red XIII's sidequest, which happens relatively early in the game, you're rewarded with the Seraph Comb, a weapon for him that's so powerful that he will out-damage and out-magic everyone else in the party until you start delving into the Disc-One Final Dungeon, at which point his poor Limit Breaks will be beginning to hurt as well.
    • The Guardian Forces (GFs) in Final Fantasy VIII are powerful summon monsters that you can call at any time to attack all the enemies on screen. The best part: calling a GF doesn't cost anything (except a little time), you can call them as many times as you want, and while they're being summoned, any damage the character would take is dealt to the summon's HP instead. You can easily go though 99% of the game by having your GFs destroy everything in your path (though watching the summon animations over and over will make fights extremely tedious). But, this strategy backfires when you have to fight Adel because Adel takes Rinoa hostage and attacking all the enemies on the screen will result in a game over. In addition, trying to use your GFs in the final boss fight will get the GF killed. So, if you haven't taken the time to use the junction system by the end of the game, whelp, you're screwed.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Vivi, who is the game's Black Mage. His spells can hit multiple enemies and he can dish out serious damage if he exploits the Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors. He joins right at the start of the game and stays with you for a good chunk of the beginning before story events has him split off with other party members and by the time that happens, everyone else will likely have caught up and can kick as much ass as Vivi can.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The very beginning of the game has Auron fighting alongside Tidus at the start of the game and has the ability to pierce armored hides on foes as well as lowering their attack power. He pretty much serves as crutch to keep Tidus alive since the kid isn't as strong to take on the early monsters on his own. Auron gets separated afterwards and he doesn't show up again until much later.
      • Likewise, Yuna, being the game's resident Summoner and White Mage, will be your go to character for most of the game to heal the party as well as summoning her Aeons to shield the party and deal massive damage until your party grows strong enough to be able to take on bosses on their own as well as using Rikku's Mix ability to make powerful potions.
      • Speaking of the Aeons, Valefor, the first Aeon Yuna learns how to summon, deserves a mention as well. Unlike the next three Aeons, which all specialize in just one of the elements, Valefor has access to the first spells of all four elements and her Limit Break is Non-Elemental, so there is never a situation where her damage output will be effected by the element of the enemy or that she will be particularly vulnerable to enemy spells and attacks. Furthermore, Valefor has the Sonic Wings attack, which hits all the enemies on the field and delays their turn. If the enemies are slow enough or you've leveled up Valefor so she's fast enough, you can delay the enemy's turn indefinitely and spam Sonic Wings at them until they die. Basically, Valefor is specifically designed so a novice player can bail themselves out of trouble in the early stages of the game by summoning her. She starts to be Overshadowed by Awesome after the party spends a few hours of leveling up, however, especially if you're grinding along the way.
    • Final Fantasy XII has Guest characters. They start out a few levels above the party, have access to several useful skills before your party members do (e.g. Telekinesis, which lets melee characters hit flying enemies) and expand the party size from three to four while they're present. However, they're uncontrollable, their equipment, licenses and gambits can't be changed, and they don't level up (in the Zodiac version on the PS4 and Steam, however, they can level up and be given commands)
    • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, The Wildlands are a great place to start your adventure since you quickly gain a chocobo ally called the Angel of Valhalla. Not only does this NPC help you in combat but it also has healing abilities, in a game where the ability to recover your health is severely restricted. The chocobo is so useful that it becomes difficult to move on to the other zones where its help is unavailable.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has pretty much any 'Early Peaker' monster. They start out strong and tend to get good stat growth, but their levels are capped at 20, meaning they eventually get overshadowed by your 'Well-Grown' and 'Late Bloomer' monsters. They're still useful for infusions, though.
    • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, Cloud has the easiest storyline in the game and plays in a straightforward, accessible style with clearly telegraphed and high-powered attacks, so beginners can easily see what they're doing and get their head around the game mechanics. Once you get to playing against human opponents, his predictability, inflexibility and lack of good long-range attacks start to become big problems, encouraging you to ditch him in favour of a more complicated character like Ultimecia or Exdeath.
    • Mobius Final Fantasy:
      • General play provides you with many monster cards which teach you "Lesser" versions of attacks, which are easy to collect and raise. As your levels increase and you tackle the harder content in the game, you'll want to transition to using cards that know the basic version of the attack, which are much more expensive to raise but much more powerful and can be raised further.
      • Some cards available in the ability shop come with their Ability Level maxed out, but cannot be Augmented. This means you can dish out Lv. 6 abilities at a point when you only have Lv. 1 ability cards otherwise, but begins to become a problem as you start buying multiples of your Lv. 1 cards, Fusing them, and then Augmenting them into cheaper and much more powerful versions.
      • The Masamune dished out to players at the time the Steam version launched is awesome. It has good stats, can be upgraded further, and has two highly useful abilities (its Reunion ability, which gives a 15% chance of recycling used orbs into an equal number of Prismatic orbs, being especially good). It's designed to be the best thing to play the VII content with as a player brand new to the game, but if you've been continually playing since the mobile game launched you'll find its statistical caps limited.
  • Dragon Quest V has a few. In the first generation, Pankraz, the hero's father, is easily the strongest party members throughout that period of the game, though he cannot be controlled, and he is only with you in certain parts. In the second generation, when you are first able to obtain monsters, the Rotten Apple is easily the strongest available, with higher stats than even the hero, but it caps at level 20 (though it it still fairly strong for a while longer). A less extreme example is the Slime Knight; with solid stats, great equipment options, and decent healing, is like having a second hero... but by the end of the second generation, it has low stats compared to the Mons available in the area, and has learned all of its special skills... not to mentioned a better 'second hero' becomes available soon afterwards...
  • Pokémon:
    • Many games in the series have common Pokémon, usually Bug-Type Pokémon, that evolve into their final forms at relatively early levels (for example, Butterfree and Beedrill, both of which can be acquired at level 10). These Pokémon are useful in the early going, but most of them quickly become obsolete as more and better Pokémon become available (though some Bug-types remain powerful at least until 1/2 or 2/3 of the way through the game).
    • Pokémon also has a Crutch Move — Dragon Rage, introduced in the first generation, always hits for exactly 40 Hit Points. It takes surprisingly little time for that to become a drop in the bucket. There's also SonicBoom, which hits for half as much and (in a later revision) starts to adapt to the Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors rules of the game. Even worse when you consider that very few Pokémon actually learn it until AFTER the point where it stops being really useful. It has its uses, but for the most part it's just not worth it.
      • Another Crutch Move comes in the form of Bullet Seed in Gen III. You could get the TM for it right before the Rock-type Gym. You could put it on Treecko or Shroomish to sweep through said Gym and some of the subsequent hikers on the next route, but its low base power means it will eventually be replaced.
    • Geodude is particularly useful in early stages of the game despite being an infamous Com Mon. It has high Attack and Defense and learns Rock and Ground-type moves, both of which are useful offensive types. Rock is especially useful early in the game due to the plentiful amount of Flying and Bug type Pokémon, as well as its resistance to the Normal-Type Tackles and Quick Attacks thrown around. But not long into the game, its usefulness begins to wear off. Eventually, its low HP, terrible Special Defense and Speed, weakness to several common types (especially Water and Grass attacks) and the fact that it needs to be traded to reach its final form means it will likely be sitting in the PC for the rest of the game.
    • Another good example would be the elemental monkeys in Pokémon Black and White. You get the one that your starter is super effective against, because the first Gym leader uses the monkey super effective against your starter. However, they learn very little in the way of decent moves until level 22, and while you get the stones early enough to evolve them, you'll miss out on the good moves, and by that point you'll find Pokémon of the Fire/Water/Grass types that already have good moves and good stats without evolving.
    • It's completely possible to turn your starter into a crutch character if you don't balance out your team. How many kids went through Pokémon Red and Blue with their awesomely powerful Charizard, got it to Level 65 or higher, and finished most of the game, only to find Victory Road ahead of them? One thing that causes this is the lack of variety and lack of really good Pokemon early on in the game. The areas around the player's hometown often consist mostly of grass and bug, and sometimes normal type Pokemon. Said Pokemon usually are not strong and don't usually have very good move sets, leading a lot of players to rely heavily on their starters. That, and the fact that the starter is the first Pokemon the player obtains, means that the starter is usually ahead in level, leading the player to use it more, so it levels up more, so the player uses it more, and so on.
    • Gen V just may have done this with the Starters themselves. In Generations past it was common practice to keep a starter around, not only because of loyalty, but because usually, wild Pokémon of its same type are uncommon or outclassed by the starter. This all changed with the advent of Gen V. With the sheer rise in power and impressiveness of the wild Pokémon in Unova, it makes the Starters look mediocre by comparison.
      • This is largely the domino effect of TMs no longer being consumable. In order to compensate for the now infinitely reusable skill machines, many of the Unova Pokémon were designed with a severely limited movepool compared to other generations. Most of them will only learn moves from their own typings, plus Normal. This makes dual type Pokémon much more valuable than single types, even when they have historically common typings such as Grass/Poison. Thus the Grass starter is outclassed even by Pokémon that can be acquired very early in the game. The Water starter has decent coverage, but still can fall into this trope later on. The Fire starter, who eventually gains Fighting, is somewhat more useful, but still easily replaced by other Pokémon without any particular difficulty.
      • It is somewhat telling that the starters from Gens VI and VII had a dual typed final evolution, likely to avoid the problems the Gen V ones have. Although the starters of Gen VIII had mono-typed final evolutions.
    • The Pikachu in Pokémon Red and Blue. Catchable before the first Gym is reached, its typing and stats make it great early on (since Com Mons like Zubat and Pidgey are weak to Electricity, and it's almost necessary against Misty if you chose Charmander). However, its evolved form Raichu is pretty mediocre by endgame. This is even more true in Pokemon Yellow, where it’s your starter Pokemon. It would start as your best Pokémon and being a Glass Cannon, it would hit like a truck. But the fact that it couldn't evolve (the game prevents you from giving it a Thunder Stone) means that it would fall behind as your other Pokémon evolve and become stronger.
      • Played straight with the Cosplay Pikachu in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. While she's pretty stupendous in contests, and is given to you at Level 20 (when most of your party will be at level 15-18), she can't evolve. Therefore, Eviolite on her will not work, and the Light Ball is obtained a little too late into the game for it to be useful. (You get it after the Flying type Gym, where you'd want a strong Electric type in the first place.)
    • Nidoking and Nidoqueen are so powerful when you can first obtain them as to fall into Disc-One Nuke territory; they can be gained as early as Level 16 and have a Base Stat Total of 495 (compare to the 405 of Charmeleon, who's one of the stronger ones obtainable at that level). Their Poison/Ground typing also gives them an advantage over three of the first four gyms in Kanto. As the game goes on, though, their Jack-of-All-Stats nature, weaknesses to Ice, Water, Ground, and Psychic, and the rest of your team evolving as well causes them to fall behind. They're not useless, largely due to a truly massive movepool, but they don't sweep whole gyms anymore.
    • Pokemon Yellow has Mankey, who's used primarily at the beginning of the game to get past Brock due to learning Low Kick at level 9, but is likely to be replaced with a better Fighting-Type later on.
    • In Red and Blue versions, the traded Farfetch'd, DUX, is surprisingly pretty great early on - its base stats are on par with Pidgeotto, it's a decent HM slave, and it can learn Swords Dance to make it a hard-hitting combatant. Plus, being traded, it gets a boost to its EXP gain, meaning it will level very quickly and reach that Swords Dance (and eventually, Slash). By the midgame or endgame, though, DUX's stats decline from usable to middling to awful. In Yellow, Farfetch'd is obtained a fair bit later and caught in the wild, making it a straight Joke Character.
      • Farfetch'd regains this status in Pokémon X and Y, where it's available before the first gym—which is a Bug-type Gym and thus made easy by a Flying-type. Furthermore, a change to the critical hit formula meant that if it had its signature item, it could guarantee critical hits with moves that had increased chances. However, its stats were still mediocre and quickly outclassed.
    • Mega Evolution allowed some Pokémon to subvert this trope. For instance, normal Beedrill? Reaches its final form at level 10, but gets stuck with an awful 395 base stat total. Mega Beedrill? 150 attack, 145 speed, and Adaptability to raise the power of its Bug and Poison moves by an additional 50% on top of STAB allows it to easily compete with some of the best mons in the game.
    • Zig-zagged by the common Flying/Normal Mons. They have good usability in the early game since most Mons are Bug, Grass and the occasional Normal type. The Pidgey, Taillow, and Pikipek lines can be usable latter on, but can struggle in comparison to other Flying types due to their movepools and stats. The Pidove line plays this completely straight, as its moveset is generally based on stalling rather than damage dealing. Averted completely by the Starly, Fletchling and Rookiedee lines; Starly's evolutions have excellent stats and access to the Fighting move Close Combat to deal with its weaknesses to Rock and Ice. Fletchling, meanwhile, evolves into a Fire/Flying types, so it has more coverage than the other common flyers. Its hidden ability Gale Wings was also a complete Game-Breaker when it was first introduced, though it got Nerfed in the seventh generation because of how absurd it was. Rookiedee's final evolution is a Flying/Steel type with some nice coverage and a ton of resistances thanks to its Steel typing.
    • One type that could arguably be called a Crutch Element is Rock. While it's tied with Grass for the most weaknesses in the entire game, it has the honor of resisting Normal, a type that's pretty much everywhere in the early game. Most of the type's weaknesses aren't too common around that time, and with Rock's early availability and good type coverage, Rock-type Pokemon are stupendous choices in the beginning. However, the type's menagerie of weaknesses really begins to show as the game progresses, especially since most Rock-types have stat spreads fitting Mighty Glaciers despite their typing being more suited towards a Glass Cannon. As such, many Rock-types end up in the PC by the end of the game.
  • Kewne in Azure Dreams, who's the monster you start out with is somewhat of a subversion, as it's true that there are definitely stronger monsters you can get in the monster tower, but only much later on. While its true those monsters have stats and abilities that outclass Kewne, you can still easily work with him to reach the top of the tower considering he's still a slightly above-average Jack-of-All-Stats and never stops being useful in the long run.
  • The Goddess Freya starts out as both a crutch and as an in-game guide for Lenneth in the original Valkyrie Profile, but it's more of a subversion - it is the very first and easiest dungeon in the game that was meant to serve as a tutorial ground for first-time players.
  • In Lunar: Eternal Blue one of the main characters, Lucia, is a temporary Crutch Character. She starts out ridiculously strong, but the villain soon depowers her to the same level as the rest of the characters.
    • Luna from Lunar: The Silver Star also this due to her multi-target healing Limit Break, which make everything easier.
    • At the start of the game Ramus is nearly equal to Alex in fighting skill, with his extra HP perhaps just barely making him stronger. Still, even at his best he is really only equal to the other characters in strength. As the game progresses his strength starts to degrade as his stat growth plummets as he levels up. He goes from a decent front line fighter with 2 attacks to being moved to the back row (as his low defense making him too vulnerable up front) with a bow and only one shot per turn. by the time he leaves the party he gains only a few HP each level and is so weak compared to the other team mates that he barely manages to be more of an asset then a liability in combat, especially since he stops growing beyond level 12, which completely turns the idea of level grinding against you.
  • Jansen from Lost Odyssey could be seen as playing this role. He is no more competent at his primary role as Black Mage in the start of the game then later one; however, he also starts the game with a very small repertoire of low level White Magic spells. He is the only person with access to healing in the first section of the game, which of course every starting party must have. He will never learn new healing spells, and his white magic will quickly fade in usefulness as enemies grow strong enough to outpace the damage of his spells, however, his healing is just solid enough to last until a proper dedicated healer joins the team, allowing Jensen to fall back to his primary role of black mage.
  • Beyond the Beyond has super-knight Samson and his weak charge, Prince Edward. Soon, Samson takes a cursed scarf to the face and becomes de-powered to near-uselessness, due to his inherent unreliability whenever you give him a combat command.
  • The Tales Series has a few examples of this:
    • Tales of Phantasia has Chester, who starts out as a reasonable character early on, but is then lost due to the game's storyline. It is only much, MUCH later in the game when he becomes available again. His level does not rise in between, meaning that he will be sorely underpowered unless special effort is taken to level him up.
      • In the re-realeases, though, Chester is given massive boosts in EXP to bring him back up to par with the party, and is given several unique skills besides. He goes from being a Crutch Character to dominating both the early and endgame (being absent for middle.)
    • Tales of the Abyss has Jade Curtiss, who joins the group at level 45 when the other two characters in the party will be lucky to be level six. He's promptly reduced to a level lower than theirs by a Level Draining trinket. This is even lampshaded when he gets to level 50 "naturally" with an in-game skit.
      • There's also Guest-Star Party Member Asch, who joins with a large variety of combat artes and magic spells. You can get him in your party a second time during an optional subquest, and although his level is scaled up he is still stuck with the same equipment he had during his first stint. This makes Asch drastically underpowered to the rest of the party, which (thematically) is the whole point.
      • Also, if playing on a New Game+, assuming you kept your capacity cores and artes, all the other characters are actually vastly much better than Asch, because in spite of his level being scaled, he doesn't have the bonus stats from capacity cores, and his artes aren't anything special, meaning that the parts of the game where he joins the party are much harder than the rest of the game.
    • Like Asch above, Richard from Tales of Graces joins the party with a good mix of physical and magical artes, several of which have HP-absorbing properties. He leaves for the rest of the main story after the Disc-One Final Boss, but the Updated Re-release's extra story brings him back, giving him new artes and other upgrades to allow him to keep up with the much more fleshed-out main cast he'll be fighting alongside.
    • Tales of Xillia has Milla Maxwell who, while she starts off only one level higher than the other protagonist Jude Mathis, possesses inflated stats and four powerful spells based on the local elemental beings that all but one-hit any enemy she touches. Naturally, an event early on causes her to sacrifice this power, removing both the inflated stats and the spells. This actually becomes a plot point, as she must now come to terms with the things humans do in order to fight and stay alive; previously, she had relied almost entirely on said elemental beings for things like walking and eating.
    • Tales of Symphonia has Kratos, who, despite being the same level as the protagonists, has good stat growth and skill in both damaging magic, healing and close-combat attacks (although not quite to the degree of the party specialists) that makes him invaluable. He leaves the party at the end of the Journey of Salvation and is replaced by Zelos, who has notably lower stats and knows none of the advanced attacks that Kratos did when he left. However, this pattern can reverse itself later in the game and on New Game Plus runs, since stat growth is determined largely by the titles a character has earned and Zelos has a much wider variety to choose from; his "Gilgamesh" title in particular provides a +8 modifier to stat gains on HP, Strength, and Defense, which is at least double what any of Kratos's titles can provide all at once. Kratos can still achieve better growth on magic-based stats, but by the time he can rejoin the party, offensive magic is only a viable option for the dedicated spellcasters, making him a Master of None.
    • In the original Tales of Destiny, Leon Magnus is one. He comes several levels ahead of the main characters, has similar moves to Stahn. But later on, Stahn will gain many variative moves, including some of Leon's. Then he betrays you.
      • He may also be one in the remake, because he's broken wide in half. He's fast, hard-hitting, and has an extremely high critical hit rate which just allows him to chain more and more attacks without giving the enemy any openings. If that wasn't enough, one of Chaltier's abilities gives a chance of petrifying enemies upon hitting them, so his low defense and HP are completely meaningless. There's no reason why you wouldn't want to play as him. He still betrays you. But at least if you somehow limp through the game and can't properly handle being without him, you can buy a Narikiri Doll to get him back at a reasonable level.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has the Tales of Symphonia cast and Richter, who are unable to change equipment or level up via experience points like Emil, Marta, and the Mons. Their levels and equipment do jump up with the occasional plot point, and when the entire original cast joins you at the end of the game, they are all capped at level 50.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II has three of these, Toval, Claire and Sharon, each joining you for one of the first three parts of Chapter 1. Toval plays this trope the most straight though: he starts out at a higher level then your other party members, has some powerful Crafts and a unique accessory (which you can't take from him) that halves the casting time of all his spells, which at that point makes him very powerful. After Chapter 1, you don't get him back until the final dungeon, and while his level has been raised to compensate, his overall stats are mediocre compared to the members of Class VII you've now been reunited with. Sharon averts this though, she's a borderline Game-Breaker when you first have her, and her Crafts have such strong secondary effects that she's still useful at the end.
    • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, Randy Orlando at the start of the game will be 20 levels higher than the main cast which translates to more of everything. He also has Wild Rage that sacrifices some of his HP to add more Craft Points so he can use his Craft skills easily. And at this point in the game, he'll have the highest damage output from his Limit Break compared to everyone else. Even when the Time Skip happens and the other members nearly catch up to his level, he'll still be stronger than them. However, at the end of the first section, he leaves the party and Ash takes his place in the team. He does come back however when the plot takes Rean, Class VII, and Tita to Leeves and he's still as strong as ever but players can't take him to the final dungeon (mainly because he and a lot of characters are dealing with their own final dungeon sections) though he can be taken towards the True Final Boss.
  • The DS remake of Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure gives us Kururu, who has good stats and blessed with powerful lightning-elemental spells (lightning is not resisted by any element other than itself, which only a few enemy types possess to begin with). However, she is forcibly removed from the party at the start of the game's last chapter and if you haven't raised any other characters to replace her, you'll be in for a world of trouble in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • The PC version (only) of the original The Bard's Tale Trilogy has an undocumented cheat: pressing Z will summon a free Stone Elemental, taking up the party's NPC spot. The creature is many times the power of low-level characters, and better than those that can be summoned by even mid-level spells, but of course it never advances at all.
  • Several examples in the SaGa series, especially the Final Fantasy Legend games:
    • In FF Legend II, Mr. S and Mask pretty much solo the dungeons they're in. Heck, Mask practically solos the Wake-Up Call Boss. However, others like Hana and Lyn are sorta average and just plain awful respectively. Thankfully, Lyn isn't around that much.
    • In FF Legend III, none fit this trope better than Myron, your first fifth-slotter. Maybe it's because your stats are terrible at level 1, maybe it's because you made the mistake of changing into a monster when the monsters were meant to be destroyed by level 1's with terrible stats, or maybe it's because he's armed with a Battle Axe, but he seems like the only thing keeping you alive at first. Unfortunately, he's perpetually at level 5, and you have no idea where you're going, can go anywhere after dungeon 1 and random encounters every step of the way. Poor guy never knew what hit him. The other guests are around the same strength as your main party.
    • In SaGa Frontier, Red's immensely powerful Alkaiser form is, well, immensely powerful. There are very few non-boss enemies that can stand up to it, especially as the story progresses and more Alkaiser powers are unlocked. Unfortunately, transforming into Alkaiser voids any stat bonuses that Red would receive, and since those directly influence Alkaiser's stats, the result can easily become a very weak superhero. Not to mention the fact that Red can't transform if there are any humans around...
  • Skies of Arcadia has Drachma, who acts as the party's physical attacker for the first act of the game. He is strong and durable enough to carry the party through the earlier fights, but little more. By the time he is able to rejoin the party, he will have lost his offensive advantage to Lightning Bruiser Vyse and Jack-of-All-Stats Enrique.
  • Phantasy Star
    • Phantasy Star IV does this twice; first with Alys, who acts as a crutch until she makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save the main character (incidentally this happens around the same time where the rest of the party catches up with her level), and second with Rune, who initially debuts with spells that can wipe out anything you face with ease, and can hit most enemies for more damage with melee attacks than anyone else in your party. When Rune shows up later to re-join the party, he's still fairly powerful, but... not as much.
    • Phantasy Star II has Nei, who's also a forced party member. On one hand, she grows levels twice as fast as everybody else in her team, has the highest agility, and can dual wield claws/bars, meaning she can outdamage even Rudo. On the other hand, her growth is very sluggish, and she's eventually caught up by the time you fight Nei first, where afterward she leaves you parmanently. In the PlayStation 2 remake, she can be prevented from leaving, but doing so causes her to permanently be stuck in the 2nd party slot with subpar stats and weapons, which can only be compensated for with rare equipment.
  • Orca in .hack starts at level 50, making the first dungeon a snap. Then he gets Data Drained. Eventually, you get him back, but he's still level 50, while your whole party is 90+.
  • The Death Knight in Beyond Divinity wears his own armor and thus is powerful in the beginning, but has to be safeguarded from harm as the game progresses if you want to keep him around because of his hilarious remarks and the fact that he's soul-forged with the protagonist, so if either dies, it's Game Over.
  • Star Ocean
    • Ashlay in Star Ocean: First Departure starts out relatively powerful, but will easily be surpassed by characters like Ratix/Roddick by the end of the game, and so he's considered low-tier. Conversely, Cius/Cyuss might not seem that great at first, but can become a real powerhouse. As it so happens, Ashlay and Cius are mutually-exclusive Optional Party Members; you can't have both. Perhaps to give a reason to choose Ashlay over Cyus, the remake makes Ashley a requirement for getting the game's secret party member, who surpasses all of her fellow mages in battle.
    • Likewise, if you're playing Star Ocean: The Second Story (remade as Second Evolution), Dias Flac is one hell of an invincible demon when he is first seen in battle (as enforced by the ensuing Hopeless Boss Fight). But if you're playing as Rena and he joins, most players agree he will be surpassed by Claude and maybe other characters as well, primarily due to his lack of multi-hit special moves, laggy normal attack, and the fact that the special ability granted by some weapons and accessories that gives normal attacks extra hits doesn't work on him either: this is even worse in the endgame where all special attacks fall under Awesome, but Impractical and everyone will be spamming their normal attacks which take no MP to use and hit a stupid amount of times.
      • Dias' regular attacks are lacking, but his Air Slash is so spamable, it can be used all the way until the end of the game, and is extremely useful in Fun City.
      • Speaking of Crutches, Claude himself starts with an energy weapon, which serves the same purpose until it gets a dose of Gameplay and Story Segregation and runs out of power. Since it One-shots everything to there, and uses no MP, it's totally understandable.
  • Grandia III has a somewhat interesting example in that the Crutch Character is the protagonist's mother.
  • In the Game Gear RPG Defenders of Oasis, the first character to join the prince is the Genie, who is at that point a combat monster and nicely carries you through the early battles. However, unlike the other characters (eventually you're a four-man party), he doesn't get experience and doesn't level up. His stats can be improved by expending special Genie power-up items, but they're extremely expensive in shops and are fairly rare in treasures, and by the end of the game the Genie is running healing potions for the other three characters and hiding in his lamp so that he doesn't get killed.
  • The Crutch Character of the Shin Megami Tensei series has traditionally been Cerberus. You get him in the first game by fusing a demon with your family dog, and in the second game he's a servant of a powerful demon and is "lent" to you for a short period of time at the start. In the online game, he's the partner of your Devil Buster mentor and joins you during the first couple of missions. Even starting at level 1 and under a condition that reduces his XP gain by 90%, he's still far more powerful than anything you can recruit or fuse at that point.
    • Persona 3 gives you the odd case of Shinjiro Aragaki. He has all the traits of a Crutch Character, advanced abilities, hits harder than any other character, only stays for a short while and is pretty damn cool to boot. However he only joins for a short while midgame when the rest of your team is already leveled enough for him to not really be needed. He makes the boss fights a joke if you use him while he's with you, but it's doable without him so the point of having him join at all isn't really clear.note 
    • Persona 3 also has Akihiko, who rejoins the main party at a higher level than the rest of the cast and as the only member capable of inflicting strike attacks. As he levels up, he becomes capable of wasting enemies in one blow, as well as learns some very helpful status effect spells (even if you have to nudge him into using them). He's also the first one to gain an upgrade to his Persona midway through the game. Like the protagonist, he hits diminishing returns toward the end of the game, and unless Monad is unlocked, he'll be unable to gain enough experience to finish leveling up. That being said, it's difficult to form a party without him, as he's arguably the most well-rounded character in the game, doesn't have abilities that consume his HP to use, and can be equipped to deal with his one weakness. Doubles as a Brick Joke in-game when he tells you that his persona is "balanced" and that not relying too heavily on one stat is essential.
    • Junpei boomerangs on this. He starts out as a decent tank, but eventually the player hits several bosses in a row that can take advantage of his weakness, turning him into a liability. However, this eventually tapers off, and if the player sticks with him and keeps him leveled up he can learn some power endgame attacks (which also happens to coincide with his Character Development.)
    • Persona 4 has Naoto Shirogane as sort of a skewed example; her skillset allows her access the high level Light and Darkness magic, as well as abilities to boost their effectiveness, and several powerful Almighty spells as well. This combination of powers makes her brutally effective against a surprisingly wide variety of Shadows, including some very annoying ones that most other party members can barely even damage. The letdown aspect of the character, however, comes when you take her into a boss fight... and realize that all those spells listed above are now underwhelming at best, totally useless at worst.
      • The biggest problem with Naoto is that her stats have no correspondence to the skills she learns. One of the major effects of these being that she doesn't even have the MP to be repeatedly casting Almighty spells.
      • Averted in the PS Vita remake, where Almighty spells had their MP cost reduced AND she is capable of learning every single elemental attack in the game, along with a slew of other useful abilities, including one that restores her MP, one that buffs every stat of a party member, one that buffs her own evasion stat to all attacks making her nearly untouchable, and a skill that makes the entire party invincible. Couple that with a weapon she gets that makes her Ice Attacks even more powerful than both the other ice users in the game making her good for bosses, being the second fastest character in the game, and her final persona upgrade having absolutely no weaknesses at all (all the other party members keep their weakness, despite gaining good buffs), and it's easy to see that somewhere between 2008-2012, someone with a lot of love for Naoto joined Atlus.
    • Chie is the polar opposite. While Naoto is good for random encounters and bad for bosses, Chie is a physical fighter and becomes useless if the enemy can block/repel her attacks, but, if you buff her speed and critical hit, she can knock most bosses, and you know, knocked enemies lose their turns... Chie also has the interesting issue of being a character who's strong early on, but weaker at midlevels, but then gets strong again. This is because her skill learning is unbalanced and she learns no midlevel skills, leaving her with basic ice spells and a mid level physical attack while everyone else is learning Dyne spells or support magic or strong attacks, but once you level her past 60 she learns Power Charge and God Hand, making her the next strongest boss killer in the game barring Kanji and the MC. Golden fixes this by letting her learn additional skills through her S Link, letting her get Bufudyne and other skills to keep her useful until you learn God hand.
    • Ryuji of Persona 5 is similar to the Junpei example, in that he boomerangs back around near the endgame. He is a tank with great physical skills, and easily your biggest source of damage in Kamoshida’s Palace. Unfortunately, he has the worst magic skills out of all party members, and Yusuke very quickly shows up and outclasses him in raw physical power, leading to his usefulness falling off. However, if you get him to decent levels by the endgame, he learns Charge and God’s Hand, enabling him to do insane amounts of damage (helped even more by his Ultimate Weapon giving him a free Attack Up at the start of every battle).
  • In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Naoto escapes this status, benefiting from the Boost system all but making MP management irrelevant and the fact that just about everything in the game is weak to One-Hit Kill spells, but it still has a straight example in the form of Zen and Rei. Zen and Rei (yes, they fight as a single unit) can't equip Sub Personas, but to compensate they have very slightly above-average stats in all areas, and learn a huge variety of skills covering physical attacks, elemental spells, HP and status healing and buffs. They first join when the Sub Persona system isn't available yet, so at that point they're extremely strong compared to the rest of the party, and they remain strong while Sub Personas are still low-level. At higher levels though, the skills available from Sub Personas vastly eclipse theirs, and their skills take far longer to upgrade than the rest of the party members, so their damage output really lags behind. They're also unable to use the Skill Card system to learn new skills due to lacking Personas.
    • The game also features a crutch item, the Heal Stone. It can be obtained from the 100% map completion chest on the first floor of the game, and it's an infinite-use healing item that recovers 50 HP, which is amazingly useful early on. By the mid-game though, 50 HP is nothing, so it becomes virtually useless.
  • Destiny Of An Emperor has Liu Bei, who while having far more Soldiers (Hit Points) than his allies, gains no Soldiers upon level ups. Luckily, given the way the game is set up, this is a convenience. There's a case of Guide Dang It! Permanently Missable Content involving him, however; he leaves upon an event after defeating all 3 Zhang brothers, after which you won't get to fight anymore enemies before the event. If you haven't leveled up to 12, kiss a certain Tactic goodbye, because he's the only person for long enough with the required Intelligence to learn it.
  • Kingdom Hearts has this going with most of the Guest Star Party Members. Once you start revisiting all of the worlds in Kingdom Hearts II, the only really useful ones are Auron, Jack Skellington and Riku.
    • Mulan and TRON are the exact opposite. When you first visit The Land of Dragons, Mulan's disguised as Ping. Ping has poor attacks, fumbles a lot and is generally a detriment (but required to have on your party). However, later she drops the disguise and becomes one of the better fighters. Tron, on the other hand, was depowered prior to you meeting him, but after accessing the DTD, he's able to use his full power, including his Limit Break, Setup, which is considered to be one of the most powerful in the gamenote . He gets a second upgrade through the teamwork of the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee much later on, which makes him one of the most powerful characters in the game.
    • Valor Form acts as a Crutch Power-Up. It's great early-game for dishing out powerful damage, but as you progress through the game and gain more useful Drive Forms and abilities, Valor Form's power is not as great anymore. It doesn't help that Valor Form has no way to defend or dodge attacks, and Sora can't use magic at all in this form.
  • Golden Sun
    • Golden Sun: The Lost Age has Piers, who joins the party at a much higher level, with good stats, several very powerful attacks, and decent healing spells, but has the lowest EXP progression in both games. Additionally, he has the stats of a physical attacker, but is stuck in the more mage-y classes, while you get a better healer near the end of the game, at which point he's basically just there for backup.
    • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has a straight and intentional version of this; in the very first dungeon, two heroes from Golden Sun (2001) join your party. They're AI controlled, but practically indestructible and deal massive damage (compared to your own characters at least), though they may not attack at all against lesser enemies. After the first dungeon, they kick you out of the house to fend for yourselves.
  • Eternal Sonata has Viola, who is far stronger than the rest of your party when she joins. She is the first character to have a "heal entire party" ability, and by using manual aim she can head-shot enemies from a distance for incredible damage. However, her actual attack rate is quite low, so when Harmony Chains (and the need to rack up a lot of hits as quickly as possible) become more important to the combat system she loses a great deal of her advantage. This was exaggerated in the PS3 version where her movement and speed growth were nerfed.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has Dog, who is a potent melee damage dealer / tank in the beginning of the game. He starts off with "Dread Howl" one of the invaluable area of effect stunning talents in the game and later on can learn the very useful "Overwhelm" attack. Later though, his lack of threat management abilities, limited selection of talents, lack of bonus stats, and his somewhat lackluster unique equipment cause him to fall behind the rest of the party somewhat. However, he can be built to have high health to compensate for his lack of equipment, and one of his abilities, Overwhelm, is nearly game breakingly powerful, being able to kill high level mage enemies in one hit. Thanks to Leaked Experience, your other party members won't suffer for it either.
  • Yoshimo, from Baldur's Gate II. Encountered in the very first dungeon, he has excellent stats and is the game's only single-classed thief. Apart from Jan Jansen, is also the only NPC who can advance in thief skills. He comes with a plethora of powerful traps and a decent magic weapon. He is also True Neutral and fits into practically every party combination, with the only character who dislikes him being Haer'Dalis. All in all, this makes him almost indispensable. Halfway through the game he's revealed to be The Mole and leaves the party, conveniently leaving open a party slot for Imoen to fill up.
    • Khalid and Jaheira are encountered very early in the game, are both very close to hitting level 2 and belong to very fast-levelling classes (fighter and fighter/druid, respectively) with indispensable early-game abilities, especially given that the nearest other healer (outside a PC cleric or druid) is either a) evil (Viconia) or b) at least six maps and plenty of encounters away (Branwen). The Battle Couple will happily carry you through Nashkel and chapter one, but in the late-game their stats are slightly less than optimal (both are rather poor offensively, Khalid has bad synergy between his weapon skills and build, and Jaheira has low armour class, wisdom and bad access to magical weapons). Khalid may even be seen as this for a series play-through, as he's killed upon importing into Baldur's Gate 2.
  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, after defeating the B-Ball Monster, Charles Barkley meets Vinceborg, a robotic revival of Vince Carter, whose Eye Beams deal devastating damage to enemies. In fact, whereas Barkley might need two turns to bring a monster down, Vinceborg can defeat that same monster in a few zaps of his eyes. (Vinceborg gets nine zaps per turn.) His services might not ruin your other characters' experience gains, but once he leaves the party and takes his eye lasers with him, your party suddenly feels crippingly empty.
  • Remilia in Touhou Labyrinth, whose high stats are backed by a barren spell list consisting of one average powered single-target skill and one self-buff. Incredibly useful early on as one of the two only real tanks until about mid-way through the main game; fades to obscurity as stronger characters that actually have more specific uses join up. And of course, the longer you use her, the more skill points you sink in that becomes useless later.
    • Remilia appears to be this, but she's a very powerful character up until the last couple of bosses in the Plus Disk. Early on, she has by far the best damage output out of all of your characters, up through the 6th floor or so, even longer if you choose not to use Iku as your buffer. Her staying power as a first-slot tank wanes somewhat by the 5th floor, but you should definitely have Meiling at that point, who is generally regarded to as the best tank in the game. A better example might be Eirin, who packs the only percentile healing spell in the game, and is one of two characters who is able to support Komachi well, but she severely lacks the attack power of practically everyone except Cirno, and the flexibility of other healers.
  • Bleu/Deis from the first two Breath of Fire games fits this trope well. When you first get her, she boasts superior magic power and high level (and is an outright Game-Breaker in the second game), but eventually levels off with the rest of your party by the end of the game. Despite this, while she does become less powerful relative to the rest of your party, she never becomes useless. And while she can't fuse with shamans in the second game, she remains decent enough without them.
  • Jacob Taylor of Mass Effect 2 essentially fills this role during the first half of the game. Jacob automatically starts with Pull and his Ammo power unlocked, leading to him being the fastest character to gain access to Squad Ammo Powers and "Warpslosions." But after a few hours of gameplay, you can recruit Grunt, who's vastly tougher and uses assault rifles instead of Jacob's weak pistols, gets Impact Shot instead of Pull (giving him an anti-Barrier attack), and the ability to use the Claymore Heavy Shotgun. Add in other party members like Jack, Samara, and Zaedd, who not only have better powers than he does by the midgame, but are also far more interesting to have around, and poor Jacob just gets left in the dust.
  • In the Dreamcast (and later Gamecube) adventure Skies of Arcadia, the Ahab caricature with a metal prosthetic arm, Drachma joins the team at a substantially higher level (considering the point in the game) and brings a new elemental affinity. Soon enough, he actually strands the party, only to rejoin them, and then leaves, on multiple occasions. When he finally stays with the party, the other characters have caught up, and perhaps superseded him.
    • Drachma is unusual in that he still remains useful as a Tank, as his ATK and DEF stats are the highest in the game, not to mention he has a fairly useful Special for charging up the party's SP gaugenote . Indeed, there are guides out there that reccomend bringing him along for the Final Battle and Bonus Bosses. However, most folks don't like to bother, preferring the skills of Enrique and his insanely useful "Justice Shield" special. It doesn't help that Drachma will probably require some level grinding, since he gets Put on a Bus midway through the story and doesn't become playable again until The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
    • A better example is Aika. While she may seem a bit weak at first with her attacks, she's the fastest character in the game and if you give her Moonberries, you'll quickly be rewarded with several of the most useful S-Moves in the whole game a few hours in. While Drachma and Vyse are stuck doing single-target attacks, Aika will be demolishing crowds of random encounters with Alpha Storm and its upgrade, Lambda Burst. She'll be one-shotting random battles on her own soon after and carrying the party through non-boss battles, and remains very strong until you either gain the SP to fire off Rain of Swords, or the enemies' magic resistance starts to stack. Either way, she'll gradually become more of a support character midway through the game, but it's still one heck of an advantage.
  • Legend of Dragoon has Rose, who, while still gaining experience and being around the same level as your party, is a bit stronger and has more attacks than you have access to. However, she tapers off a little bit and many players often bench her in favour of other party members. She's still useful, just a bit Overshadowed by Awesome depending on who you chose to prioritize. In fact, it makes sense in a rather subtle way - She's the only party member who comes with a Dragoon spirit already, whereas pretty much everyone else had a "Badass Normal" period before acquiring their spirits. She's not becoming useless - you're catching up to her.
    • A case could be made for Rose ultimately averting the trope for a number of reasons, assuming she is not benched. The timing on her combo attacks is much less strict than the rest of the cast, making them easier to pull off and deal full damage with consistently. She'll also have her highly damaging Demon's Dance well before any other character masters their final addition. To top it off, one of, if not the best weapon in the game is given to Rose right before the final battle. By the end of the game, the rest of your party might still be playing catch up to her.
  • Early in Legend of Legaia, when you take control of Noa, you are accompanied by a wolf who is indestructible and heals your wounds indefinitely during battle.
    • An odd case in the sequel. Kazan joins fairly early literally 15 levels ahead of Lang and Maya, with a solid 3 more Art Blocks than Lang. He easily plows through all opponents for the next few dungeons, but levels up so slowly that Lang and Maya will quickly catch up with him. However, he remains a viable fighter for the rest of the game.
  • In Dungeon Maker, after the first dungeon you get a pet Mimic Slime. It's great early on because it copies the stats of enemies, but while you get steadily more powerful, the slime does not, and eventually its stats will stop growing altogether.
  • In the original Fallout, you had Dogmeat, probably one of the most extreme examples out there. Early on, he's quite the powerhouse, thanks to high damage, multiple attacks, and good health - but he can't wear armor, he's restricted to melee, and his AI is pathetic. This isn't a problem early on, when he has enough health to soak up hits and simply running at the opponent and biting them is plenty, but once you start encountering Super Mutants or traps, he becomes such a liability that getting through the game without him dying is considered a major achievement. In a nod to this, the second game revealed Dogmeat's fate: he walked into a forcefield in the Mariposa military base, just like he will for any player that keeps him long enough to survive to that point.
  • Fallout 2 has Marcus, who is similarly problematic. He has Big Guns and a lot of health, enough to stomp the midgame easily. But being a giant super mutant, he can't fit into the late-game armor suits that are basically needed to survive against the Enclave. Goris has similar issues, on top of being restricted to melee.
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money, Dean Domino, despite not being the strongest of the three companions, is easily the most useful. His companion perk allows you to explore the denser concentrations of poisonous clouds without taking damage (temporarily), which is essential if you want to find everything, and he's the only one with a gun. Since there are only three types of enemies in the DLC, only one of which can shoot back (and even then only five times), he's basically a killing machine if you're not boxed in. The only reason he isn't a total Game-Breaker is because he (along with the rest of your companions) disappears about halfway into the main quest.
    • ED-E, like Codsworth below, is a robot and the first companion one can easily obtain. He has a great companion perk in Enhanced Sensors and a decent little zapper, but he can't switch up to newer weapons and armor like your other companions, causing him to fall behind. Doing his companion quest upgrades his weapon or his armor, but not both, and removes him from the party for a bit. (Fortunately, he doesn't take up a "human" companion slot, so leaving him around isn't too harmful unless you play Hardcore.) With Lonesome Road, though, ED-E averts this in the maingame, as going through the whole DLC results in him becoming by far the most useful companion, but in Lonesome Road proper, he gets taken over by the antagonist before the climax starts kicking in.
  • Fallout 4 has Codsworth, your Mister Handy butler. He shines early-game due to his buzzsaw and flamethrower which destroy most of the lower-level enemies in 1-2 hits, and being a robot he comes with natural armor. However, as he can't be equipped with armor or weapons like your other companions, his power and defence Can't Catch Up as the enemies get stronger. With the Automatron DLC though, he can be modified and upgraded to be far more powerful.
  • Wasteland 2 features Angela Deth, a Desert Ranger veteran who helps you on your mission in hopes of avenging her lover, Ace. She starts out with a Level 7 weapon skill and significantly high stats in other areas as well, allowing the player to deal with early-game hazards much more easily. Naturally, she leaves about halfway through the first act to help with an important mission elsewhere, though by this point your characters are generally well-off enough to handle basic threats. She was toned down dramatically in the Director's Cut to avoid overshadowing the party so much (starting at level Eight instead of level FOURTEEN)
    • The main problem in this case thus has less to do with her (significant) combat-prowess, and more to do with the fact that you're likely to have specialized her in several valuable skills - namely Brute Force and Weaponsmithing (and the somewhat-less-useful Hard Ass and Outdoorsman). Thus, her unexpected disappearance is likely to leave a large hole in your team's skillset until you're able to rectify it. (Exacerbating this is the fact that one of the very rare cases where you might need a high Hard Ass skill is RIGHT after she leaves.)
  • Suikoden:
    • Suikoden V gives the player character Georg Prime, a powerful bodyguard who must, for plot reasons, abandon the hero soon after the main plot kicks in. And even before that, he's only available sporadically. By the time he joins for good, he's still one of the best physical attackers in game, but he's not ludicrously overpowered compared to the rest of the party. He's still rendered unavailable for the final battle, unless you are in a New Game+.
      • From the same game, Sialeeds starts out as a useful ranged fighter/mage, but since she has only one rune slot, which is permanently equipped with a relatively weak Wind Rune, she gets less useful later on. (This is probably the game's way of subtly discouraging dependence on her, so that her Face–Heel Turn about halfway through the game doesn't cripple your party.)
      • Also happens with Kyle, another of the Queen's Knights like Georg joins your party briefly during the intro part of the game. One notable thing is that his equipment and rune can be taken except for his weapon like with everyone and equipped on the Prince, yet his level is high enough that it doesn't effect his usefulness at all. In fact, it's pretty much mandatory to swipe his stuff and give it to the Prince to have any real chance of "winning" against the Hopeless Boss Fight not long after Kyle leaves.
    • Suikoden II has Jowy, the main character's best friend with which they can perform the single best unite in the game, and who gets the Black Sword Rune until he betrays you and joins Highland, though he does come back for the battle against Gorudo later on.
    • Suikoden Tierkreis gives you Citro Village's best warrior Dirk for the first dungeon, who is several levels higher than Sieg, Marica, and Jale and does more damage, though once they start gaining levels, and become Starbearers, he is quickly outclassed. He ends up betraying you, too. In an interesting variation, though, he betrays you BECAUSE he's a Crutch Character — his entire complex boils down to 'they're stronger than me, it's all the fault of those books, MUST BURN'.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia V has Nepgear starting off at level 10 while Neptune is back to level 1 instead of level 99 thanks to her laziness. And that's not all: when she eventually rejoins the party proper at level 38 her STR stat is easily more than 300 points above the main cast at similar levels, essentially making Nepgear the single most powerful attacker in the game for a very, very long time. And just when you thought all is finally well, the game abruptly kicks out the crutch from under you by forcing you to fight her and Vert in a 4 vs 2 bossfight which, unsurprisingly, is tough as nails even though your party has the advantage in numbers unless you have been grinding...This trope was lampshaded by both sisters.
  • NoLegs in Epic Battle Fantasy 4. When you first get NoLegs, you have essentially no abilities that hit multiple targets at all; NoLegs can do so for free, and once you get the Knight's Helmet (which you do very shortly after), you can use this ability twice per turn, without even using up a character's action. With all of this, NoLegs can potentially carry you through the first region entirely by himself, even at the hardest difficulty. The problem here is raw power; in the early game, NoLegs' attack power is very good, but there is absolutely no way to upgrade it like you can the other characters' weapons, so late-game NoLegs just translates to Scratch Damage compared to your other abilities, most of which by then can hit multiple targets anyway. On top of that, the Knight's Helmet carries elemental resistance penalties; in the early game this isn't a big deal, but in the late game, almost everything else is offering bonuses to your resistances and you'll want as many of these as you can get.
  • Norah from Child of Light joins quite early, has good stats, levels up really quickly, and learns many very useful skills (Quicken hastes allies, Lull slows foes, Petrify paralyzes foes, Unstoppable prevents interruption, and Charm Time gives Norah a head start on the Combatant Cooldown System). She's a great asset in the early-to-mid game until she reveals her true colours as The Mole and the Big Bad's daughter, leaving the party forever.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim allows you to make your main character into one: The Khajit race has claws that make mincemeat out of any enemy you'll encounter at the start. They are stronger than any sword available at the time and strike quite quickly as well. However, they have two drawbacks: Firstly, there are very few ways to upgrade their damage with more gear, with only a particular set of gloves found during a particular quest providing a boost at all. And secondly, in a game where your skills are upgraded by frequent use, there are one-handed and two-handed weapon skills, but no Unarmed skill. Thus, the claws stay at exactly the same power they started with, the XP you would have gotten drain into a black hole and when you finally switch over to another weapon, you have to train it up from the starting level. Ouch.
  • Treasure Hunter G has Red and Blue's grandfather along for the ride in the first dungeon. Unlike the boys he has unlimited movement range, unlimited HP, high attack, and his basic attack hits all enemies adjacent to him.
  • Virgil in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura starts out incredibly useful for the less combat-oriented character builds who may end up having trouble getting through the starting area (since acquiring any decent armor or weapons requires reaching a town first, and levelling up takes time). His melee skill is enough to fight the random animals you might stumble upon, plus he knows a healing spell. However, he never invests points into the Strength stat, and his magic doesn't get the same power boost dedicated mages receive because he only learns one spell colledge; this means that you'll be eventually relying on other party members for combat, and should you go the technological route, Virgil's healing won't be of much use for the main character.
  • Raw weapons in Dark Souls are basically this trope in weapon form. Upgrading your weapons into raw weapons give them massive physical damage boosts, at the cost of not being able to scale to strength. With a few exceptions, raw weapons are typically best when you're relatively early in the game, but if you're playing a fighter-type you're better off eventually reverting it back to a normal weapon once your strength stat is leveled up enough, since strength scaling ultimately gives out better returns on damage (while non-fighter builds would be better off utilizing divine, magic or chaos weapons instead.)
  • In the Mecha chapter of Live A Live, you get the very strong Matsu and his arsenal of high-speed multiple-target attacks to help out your main character, who at the beginning is laughably weak with no decent attacks, for his first fight. You ultimately get Matsu back for the final mission (though not the final boss itself), but he's still incredibly useful just on the same tier as your character now.
  • In Riza's chapter of Treasure of the Rudra you get Garlyle in your party early on who, while not a Crutch Character in and of himself, comes equipped with the T-Decline machinegun which is not only stronger than Riza's basic attack but also attacks all enemies on the field. You'll get a lot of mileage out of it before becomes so outclassed attack-wise that its secondary ability is no longer worth it.
  • Sharla in Xenoblade - early on she is a godsend with her healing abilities, as well as the fact that she is quite tanky and ranged. However, later on, it becomes better to just burn enemies down with damage over time effects and Sharla makes fights drag on too long with her lack of offensive powers. Sure, Headshot is very damaging, and the AI actually does usually wait to use it on dazed enemies, but it has a terrible cooldown.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X has a late game example with the Excavator Skell. It's the only level 60 Skell that can be made before the postgame, since its plans are obtained from completing Alexa's second affinity quest. It has improved stats compared to level 50 Skells, and is the first Skell that can equip level 60 gear. Once you do reach the postgame and other level 60 Skells become available, it becomes apparent that the Excavator is by far the worst level 60 Skell, since it has much lower attack, worse armor than even the light Skells even though it's supposed to be a heavy Skell, and is weak to Gravity attacks when all other level 60 Skells are resistant to it. The Excavator may be useful for finishing the final story missions, but it will not help if you want to take on the level 90+ Tyrants.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has Tora. Early on, he's an extremely effective Tank character due to his high HP, but his continued usage is heavily hampered by the fact that he can't use any rare blades, and the only way to upgrade his own blade is by playing a minigame. Early on, this isn't a big deal because none of the other party members can fill his role in the party and only a limited number of blade are available anyway. But once the player obtains another character who can fill his role, his usefulness takes a dive. That said, it becomes a Subverted Trope in the endgame and postgame once his blade's final form is unlocked, and with sufficient minigame grinding he can actually do more damage than anyone else in the party.
  • Even though she doesn't join for more than a couple of battles, Yamato Takeru in Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest is essential for surviving the battles prior to the unification of Japan.
  • Teagan in Uncommon Time. She has the best HP and defense, making her useful for the early battles that mainly come down to damage races. However, she never gets very varied or impressive skills — she gets no multi-target attacks at all, and in fact has the only Limit Breaks that don't target all enemies. This ends up leaving her behind other characters who get more distinct specialties, and she's quickly outclassed by Alto for pure damage potential. She also spends the longest time outside of the party in Movement 2, so she's likely to be severely underleveled when she rejoins.
  • Interestingly, Granblue Fantasy, a game where most characters are acquired at random, has an example of this with Yodarha. His charge attack, when timed right, deals an additional 999999 damage to its target. As awesome as this sounds, it's a drop in the bucket to most bosses past the first tier of Omega bosses.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • One of the most common playstyles for newbies is the "Buster Meme" team: a team of Servants that all have three Buster cards, which pretty much guarantees your hand will have at least three Buster cards in it on any turn. Since Buster cards have the best damage, chaining Buster cards for your attacks increases the power of them, and most of the Servants with triple-Buster decks are Berserkers, this can do a lot of damage early on. Plus, since Heracles is a Starter Mon, and Lu Bu, Fergus, Kiyohime, and Darius all show up in the Friend Point gacha, these teams are pretty cheap to put together. After a certain point, though, the stats of your enemies become so great that simply spamming Buster chains doesn't do enough damage to kill them quickly. Their triple-Buster decks also means they don't have a way to natively build their NP gain or critical stars, meaning they lack the versatility of an Arts team or the burst damage of a Buster Crit or Quick team. Triple-Buster Servants can still be very powerful, with Musashi in particular being a vital cog in Buster Crit, but building a whole team of them is a bad idea.
    • On a similar note, though there are some very powerful Berserkers in the game, their main use is that in the game's Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, Berserkers have a somewhat reduced type advantage against almost everything, dealing 1.5x more damage (but only while attacking, as they take double damage on defense). For a new player who doesn't have at least one strong Servant in the main classes, this makes "throw the Berserker at it" a good first-resort tactic for most situations. Once you do have strong Servants in every class, you'll probably prefer them since they get double damage on offense and take half damage on defense when facing someone they have advantage on. Berserkers do retain viability, though, for their ability to handle mixed formations or cut through rare classes like Avengers or Rulers.
    • Cu Chulainn's three-star Lancer form is very easy to obtain and level out, and he has three skills that all increase his durability: Battle Continuation gives him a Last Chance Hit Point, Protection from Arrows nullifies three attacks, and Disengage lets him heal and cleanse debuffs. Because of this, it's very common for new players to stick Cu on the back lines so that when everyone else is down, Cu can do his Gradual Grinder thing and chip the enemy to death while they flail at him pointlessly. Once you reach a certain level of power, though, his skillset becomes much less important; a stall team tends to prefer people like Jeanne, Mash, Tamamo, and Hans, whose defensive buffs or heals affect the whole team, while hyper-offense teams find Cu's output lackluster at best.
    • Sasaki Kojirou is fairly memetic in the fanbase for having been borderline required in the early days to get through the Orleans singularity without Bribing Your Way to Victory, as he's an extremely common single-target Assassin who can use his evasion skill to dodge hits and has class advantage against the mostly Rider-class dragons. After Orleans, his usability falls off due to his stats being pretty bad and his skills being lackluster.
  • Faraway Story
    • Marinet joins at a slightly higher level than Pia and has a healing skill in order to make the starting dungeon a little easier, though Pia will quickly catch up.
    • Ellevark defies this by not allowing himself or anyone else to act as a full-time party member until Pia bests them in a Duel Boss battle, under the rationale that relying too much on stronger allies is bad for her training.
  • In Miitopia, the legendary Great Sage will join your team once you enter Karkaton, who has moves like Tower of Flame, which does triple-digit damage; and Panacea, which heals your entire party's HP; at a time your own Mage is likely still using Fire and Cure for less than half the effect. However, as a Guest-Star Party Member, the Great Sage cannot gain any EXP and will leave the party shortly afterwards. They join your team primarily because the protagonist is fighting alone at that point and, as there's a Boss Rush coming up, you'd likely be completely overwhelmed otherwise.
  • Bowser joins the party in Super Mario RPG right before entering the longest dungeon up to that point, and his skillset is good for it. He's likely to be one or two levels higher than anyone else, his HP is unmatched, his attack and defense are great even before he gets weapons/armor, and his Terrorize spell can inflict Fear on all enemies in a fight, cutting their attack and defense in half. He can easily replace Geno (who is starting to stagnate around that point) for a few hours. However, Bowser's main flaw is his awful magic defense; magic is uncommon enough when he joins, but later bosses can tear through all his health in one spell. His armor is weirdly weak and uncommon compared to most characters, his speed is always very low, and all of his spells after Terrorize are situational (later enemies and bosses start to resist Fear as well). He's never completely obsolete since there are only five playable characters and he's still a good tank, but Geno's equally strong basic attack and stronger spells can replace his damage, while Toadstool's magic is much more valuable despite her low attack power.
  • In LISA: The Joyful, not only are healing items much less frequent than in the previous game, Buddy starts out at a low level with two mediocre attacks (while one is good for giving critical hits if you time the quick time events right, it takes awhile for a new player to master). This is offset somewhat by Rando, who joins your party after the first fight of the game - he starts out many levels higher than Buddy and has an extensive moveset similar to Brad's at the end of LISA: The Painful. He leaves the party after the first three warlords are killed, by which time Buddy is capable of holding her own.

    Sports Games 
  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, Macho pitchers usually deal you good results in the early stages of Tournament mode... But their fastballs are soon hit out of the park by later teams. And then you're trailing by a lot of runs.
  • Genzoh Wakabayashi in the Game Boy's Captain Tsubasa VS. The boy has about twice goalkeeping skills Morisaki, your default GK, has, and can probably catch anything thrown at time. Problem: If you use him, he injures his leg and can't be used again for sometimes. This can be painful if you don't reserve him until you play Meiwa.
    • Same applied with Sega CD's version. This time, his injury is scripted, so he's out even if you don't use him. Misaki also counts thanks to his Golden Comibination with Tsubasa, which allowing you to zip through opponent's defense within a minute. Both of them are gone for good after the half of the game.
  • Endou Mamoru, the protagonist of Inazuma Eleven and its sequels, is very prone to this. Being the starting Goal Keeper of your team, he is capable of stopping almost every special shot early on, and will usually block or push normal shots throughout the game almost effortlessly (especially noticeable in the random battles occurring between matches). It's pretty much possible to win almost all of the games keeping him as the main goalie, but the big problems begin during the end-game bosses as well as the subsequent "Challenge Mode" competitions: not only he levels up immensely slowlier than his fellow team mates due to his initial strength, thus crippling his stats, his final special catches consume so much TP that you're forced to put him out of HIS VERY OWN TEAM.
    • This is also a cause of him being one of the least used goalies in multiplayer matches, as skilled players know how to easily counter him using his elemental weakness (fire beats mountain), thus choosing either an end-game keeper or Tachimukai (the secondary keeper).
    • To some extent, almost all of the starting members have to be interchanged with more powerful scouted players (or even opponents). The only exception probably lies in the Forwards.
    • There are a lot of "fool's gold" players on the Connection Map in any of the games — players with good stats for the levels they can be recruited at, but poor stat growths. This means that they become less and less useful the higher in level your team gets, unless you're willing to spend lots of FP training or equipping them. In regards to the above point about starting members, many players on the CM who seem like no-brainers for recruitment have significantly lower max stats than the guys on the default team.
  • In Madden NFL, there will usually be a few players who, for whatever reason (age, injury concerns, off-the-field concerns) were not signed by a team in Real Life but are available in Madden as free agents in franchise mode. Usually these players still have relatively high overalls (80+) compared to those you can typically find as free agents in-season in franchise mode, so signing them will give your team an extra boost. However, if the player is older he may retire after only 1 season or, if not, will see his physical stats deteriorate as he ages. If he is oft-injured, he may not play many games for you before getting hurt. This was much more common in the late-90s/early 2000s Madden games as they lacked the ability to receive roster updates via the internet. More recent games (from the late 2000s on) will receive roster updates throughout the year to clear out players like this, but it still happens.
  • In Mutant Football League's Dynasty mode, you're tasked with turning a team of undeveloped rookies into title contenders in three seasons or less. It's tempting to make big trades and free agent signings right out the gate to give the team an immediate boost, but signing a stud receiver (for instance) means all the XP and accomplishments your other receivers need to level up will go to a star player that doesn't need them. Unless you take the time to develop your entire roster, you'll be left high and dry if your stars are killed or injuried during a must-win game. Lack of depth hits the QB and Safety positions the hardest, as the size of your playbook is based on their Intelligence stat. You're better off making moves to build your special teams and offensive line, and/or signing players who are good but not light-years ahead of your rookies and can develop alongside them.

     Tabletop Games  
  • The pen and paper RPG Mekton Zeta has options for Rookie and Veteran characters. Veteran characters start with higher skills, but gain experience half as fast as Rookies. The Game Master's section even includes helpful advice on how Veterans tend to die or retire halfway through a series to let the younger protagonists take the lead...
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. Warriors at early levels can do more damage and won't go down in a single hit like wizards. However, wizards will eventually overtake warriors as they level up, ultimately making warriors good for little more than being meatshields.
    • 'Advanced NPC' in 2nd Edition rules or in more modern terms 'The Over Powered NPC' — a DM can run a pre-generated character who starts at least 3 levels or more higher then the party of players, has high level spells, equipment, abilities, skills, psychic powers, etc, and often leaves either early on, dies off quickly, or only helps to a point.
    • The Mystic Ranger variant, found in Dragon Magazine, is one of these. For its first ten levels (and with the Sword of the Arcane Order feat), it's essentially a Ranger with casting on par with a Wizard (and no Animal Companion, but ranger companions are crap anyway). Once it's gotten fifth-level spells, it basically stops advancing altogether. Magic is so powerful that the Mystic Ranger will still be a cut above most classes, but it remains one of the only characters to outright end its casting progression so early.
    • The Sleep spell is one of the first Standard Status Effects spells obtained, and it can end an encounter in a single turn. The problem? Sleep has a hard limit (four) on the number of Hit Dice it can affect. So it goes from taking down four 1 HD enemies to taking down two 2 HD enemies to taking down one 3-4 HD enemy... and once you start fighting 5 HD enemies, it almost entirely stops being useful.
    • Enchantments or illusions are some of the strongest spells at low levels - enchantments for inverting Useless Useful Spell and ending encounters with a single failed save, illusions for their massive versatility and potential Your Mind Makes It Real effects. At higher levels, enemies immune to enchantments (undead, constructs, characters with good Will saves, the Mind Blank spell) or illusions (True Seeing, blindsight, blindsense, good Will saves again) become a lot more common, and the two schools sharply drop off in use.
      • The beguiler, who specializes in both enchantments and illusions, tends to go through the same pattern. At low levels, it's strictly better than a wizard or sorcerer in most cases, being able to spontaneously cast off many spells in two good schools and also possessing a host of benefits (six skill points, casting in armor, better HD, trapfinding, cloaked casting). Around 10th level, the spell lists of the sorcerer and wizard begin to truly blossom, and most of the beguiler's advantages fall behind - it remains a competent class, but its inability to go beyond its standard list outside of the Advanced Learning feature (which grants, at most, five new spells) severely hampers it against even a specialist in its "good" schools. Notably, it completely lacks the Shadow spells, considered to be the best high-level choices for an illusionist.
    • The truenamer takes this particularly far - due to the way Truespeak difficulty scales (your bonus goes up by about 1 per level, the difficulty increases by 2 per level), a truenamer at low levels succeeds far more often than a truenamer at high levels, with your success rate declining by about 5% every level. The only way to get around this is to use items, esoteric bonuses, or DM leniency to push Truespeak to the point where you never fail.
    • A special kind of magic from a third-party 3rd edition supplement, chaos magic, allows a caster to create spells on the fly, what allows some really devastating effects, and associated classes have no daily limit except for self-inflicted damage for every spell cast. However, failing a cast (always possible on a natural 1) progressively harms the user in a random way, until their eventual demise if they fail one too many times, and no wish or miracle spell can do anything about it. A chaos mage is then ridiculously powerful but has a high risk of dying permanently from their repeated tampering into the forces of chaos.
    • 3.x's Master of Shrouds is an odd case of this. It was clearly designed to be entered at around 7th level, but due to poorly done requirements, it can easily be reached as early as 4th by multiclassing. This allows you to obtain the features of the class around three levels before you're supposed to, including summoning undead that amount to a Disc-One Nuke due to being incorporeal at a level where most enemies can't handle this. However, as you level up, your summons start to fall off in effectiveness despite the three-level advantage, and eventually, you get to the point where a pure-classed cleric would be able to simply create and control such undead permanently. Add in the caster levels you had to lose (both to qualify and to advance), and you begin to realize that the Master of Shrouds actually kinda sucks - once you're at high levels, it begins to work as designed, i.e. not particularly well.
    • Several classes in 3.x were considered "front-loaded", with the majority of their benefits coming within their first five levels. For those early levels, the class would be dominant, and afterward, it tended to peter off; the traditional player response was to only take those useful levels and then jump out by any means necessary. The fighter was the most famous example: fighter level 1 gives full weapon and armor proficiency and a free combat feat, fighter level 2 gives another free combat feat, and fighter level 3 gives... absolutely nothing. Time to find a Prestige Class. But the ranger really beat the fighter at this in 3.0 edition. At first level, you got nearly everything from the ranger class that was actually useful. From then on, you got nothing at all until you hit fourth level, at which point you got access to the ranger's incredibly weak spellcasting ability. It was far better to simply take one level of ranger, then switch to fighter or barbarian. An extreme example of this is the Horizon Tripper build, which, to avoid Empty Levels, ends up with one level in barbarian, one in fighter, and three in ranger (with the 3.5 ranger having the kindness to spread its bonuses out a bit) by the time it adopts a Prestige Class.
  • Another example of this type of character is found in Anima: Beyond Fantasy; a fantasy anime-style game based off JRPGs. As a Game Master you can run a summoner, archer, sorcerer, or healer type as a temporary NPC who only lasts for the first six levels of new players or even adapted to over come a big nasty boss battle for one story arc.
  • The tabletop sports/wargame Blood Bowl have the Amazon and Norse teams. Both teams start with all their players having one of the best starter skills (Block for Norse and Dodge for Amazons), which gives them a huge advantage out the box (though not when fighting dwarves). Once the team value start increasing and the other teams are able to buy their players Block/Wrestle and Tackle, they lose that edge against teams with higher innate stats and a clearer game plan. Norse and Amazons are both playable at high-TV play (if not as good at it like certain other teams), but odds are they'll never see high-TV play because savvy Norse and Amazon coaches usually intentionally keep their teams' value at a range where they're still competitive.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a version of this thanks to its variable point sizes to govern armies and games. At starter levels (roughly 500 points, which in some armies is barely enough to field the required Leader and two squads of troops with maybe a special weapon or two) the inclusion of special weapons or a properly equipped Lightning Bruiser (like the Death Company for Blood Angels) can basically guarantee victory. By the time you get to "tournament" sizes (1500-1750 points) there are enough vehicles, special weapons, and elite special forces units that many of the strategies that may have turned a game into a Curb-Stomp Battle in your favor will now see your entire force wiped off the table. In fact, some of the game's more terrifying Deathstar units are easily countered in larger point games as squad sizes reach their maximum and players can field a literal green tide of Orcs in response.
  • In Mordheim, some warbands have warriors with good starting stats and useful skills but they cannot gain experience. For example, Zombies don't get stunned and are immune to psychology checks and poison while also causing fear; Rat Ogres have very high stats and cause fear; Trolls do the same but also can't get permanent injuries and can vomit corrosive bile over targets for a powerful armour-bypassing attack. These warriors are great for one-off games but in running campaigns their inability to gain experience will soon see them eclipsed.
  • In Terraforming Mars, a Board Game about What It Says On The Tin, each player runs a corporation involved in the terraforming program. Most corporations have their specific abilities and advantages, but the "Beginner Corporations" recommended for new players simply let you keep all 10 research cards that you draw at the start of the game without paying their costs. This is very useful for simplifying the early portion of the game while not forcing you to choose options that you don't yet understand, but the lack of a special ability beyond that, and of any "tags" that can speed up research, make a Beginner Corporation less useful for a player who understands how to manage their resources.

     Third Person Shooter 
  • Warframe has this with any characters that specialise in direct damage abilities at the cost of utility effects, since enemy health and weapon damage scale better than ability damage. Some outstanding examples:
    • Ember. Fireball, Fire Blast and World on Fire are all straight-up damage skills which become useless rather quickly once enemies reach level 40; Accelerant somewhat alleviates this by stunning enemies and making them take more Fire damage from Ember.
    • Oberon is supposed to be a Jack-of-All-Trades, but he's outclassed in anything he does. Smite has bad damage and the radiation status proc it inflicts (which causes enemies to fire on their allies) is outclassed by Nyx's Mind Control; Hallowed Ground is patently useless once you start moving around; Renewal's healing is outclassed by Trinity's Blessing; and Nyx's Chaos is better than Oberon's Reckoning for crowd control, while Reckoning's damage doesn't scale well to higher-levelled content.
    • Ash. Shuriken and Bladestorm are pure damage abilities that lose luster at higher levels, but his only supporting debuff is the very short-lived stun from Smoke Screen, the invisibility from that is also short-lived meaning it's not very useful for escaping or evading enemies, and Teleport requiring a target means it's also not good for mobility.
  • Splatoon has one in the form of a weapon. The Aerospray family tends to get labeled this by the competitive scene. In Turf Wars, its insane fire rate and spread makes it great for inking turf, but people who tend to take it into ranked play are usually in for a rude wake-up call, where its short range and random spread shots make most people who play it glorified target practice for anyone who using more confrontational weapons. Combine this with subs that don't make up for the weapon's main weaknesses, and you get a weapon that often underperforms in Ranked Battles.

     Tower Defence 
  • In RWBY: Amity Arena, you have Ice Weiss. She's the first Epic-level character you pick up from your Forced Tutorial and she's quite powerful for your first, with a skill that lets her fire off an AOE attack that can destroy weak mobs or or temporarily freeze stronger opponents. However, as you go up in the ranks, you'll find that Ice Weiss loses out on a lot, especially as you gain Epic-level characters who either have stronger or more useful AOE attacks, such as Cinder and Penny.

     Turn-Based Strategy  
  • Driscoll shows up to help you protect a mutual ally from terrorists in one mission of the SNES Front Mission 1, and he brought his Game Breaking Type 11 DS with him.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light has Jagen, a purple Paladin who is charged with protecting Marth and the former Trope Namer. He has above-average starting stats for a character in the first chapter, but very low stat growths. His name has become a slang term in Fire Emblem fandom for similar characters — nearly every game in the series has one, although in later games they're usually not quite so useless later on, in which case they're usually called an "Oifey archetype". Marcus in The Blazing Blade, Seth, and Titania are seen in particular as being reasonable choices for taking all the way to the endgame.
    • Ironically, the fandom's Character Tiers have grown to favor these, especially ones aiming for speed or efficiency. The original Jagen, for instance, may not have good stat growths, but the enemies in the game are fairly weak, meaning what stats he does have are sufficient to carry the player until the latest maps (by which point you can just toss him a stat-boosting item to catch him up). He isn't as flashy as high-potential characters like Est, but he makes up for it in that you don't need to waste time training him, and usually the first part of the game is the hardest part anyway. Many other characters in his archetype follow suit.
    • Other examples of flat out crutch characters are Arran in Mystery of the Emblem, Eyvel in Thracia 776, and Marcus in The Binding Blade. In The Blazing Blade, he's actually a lot better. And he's actually a lot younger too; in The Blazing Blade, he was around Jagen's age.
    • Furthermore, most games give you a powerful character early on who's already undergone his class change. These characters qualify as crutches for two reasons. First of all, while they can easily slaughter the entire army on earlier stages, they'll only get one XP for killing them, leaving the rest of your party under-developed. Furthermore, their stats are relatively low for their class and level. Second, basic characters get to level properly until the level cap of their class before changing class, earning more stat increases along the way. A common tactic is to take away their weapons and just use them to take shots.
      • Some characters manage to avert this - sometimes, a pre-promoted character may have good enough bases or growths that they remain feasible late-game. Some characters like Wolf and Sedgar in the DS games are prepromoted, but actually become Magikarp Power. (Low base stats, best growths in the game.) And in other games, Seth, Titania, Elincia, Sothe, and Frederick act as this, but remain feasible throughout their respective games. In fact, Titania and Elincia are pretty popular picks for end-game in Radiant Dawn, and Sothe is forced to come along because of plot. So you may as well use him anyway to make sure he doesn't explode in one hit, which is heavily mitigated both by the fact that he's the only character to keep his stats from Path of Radiance as opposed to merely getting slight bonuses, and the fact that the Dawn Brigade kind of sucks, leaving them relying on Sothe's help (along with their better units, such as Nolan and Zihark) throughout.
      • Shinon and Gatrie are two very effective units early on in Path of Radiance, but leave early on in the game when Greil is killed. While the player can get them back eventually, and they're about as effective as they were at the start of the game, it isn't for a long while (especially Shinon, who's found working for Daein in the last third of the game, and getting him back is a serious Guide Dang It! moment).
    • Some games do this with the main character. The first several chapters are tailor-made to take advantage of their unique weapon and stats, but their later promotion and weapon focus can plateau their usefulness in the mid-late game. Roy in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is very bad about this. Early on, the enemies are axe-wielding pirates and brigands that he can easily dodge, but he doesn't promote until the last mandatory chapter.
    • Lyn is probably the biggest recipient of this among Lords, especially if you play Lyn Mode. Said mode is basically a playground of slow axe-users with terrible hit rates, which is absolutely perfect for a Fragile Speedster swordfighter to take apart, and allows her to show up at a pretty high level in Eliwood or Hector Mode. Her extremely high speed also means she's usually one of the first people to start double attacking. By the midpoint of the game, though, most enemies are lancers (shifting Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors against her), and most characters can double reliably because enemies tend to weigh themselves down with heavy weapons. After that point, her fragility, lack of mobility or range, poor weapon options, and delayed promotion drop her into mediocrity. It especially stands out when she's handed the Sol Katti, infamously regarded as one of the franchise's worst legendary weapons.
    • Irritatingly, Hector becomes this in Hector Mode. Hector is tailor-made to take out the many bosses and cavalry that use lances with his personal axe, of which there are plenty, and his growths favor tankiness and durability, turning him into something of a Lightning Bruiser. Unfortunately there's a few more levels in his mode and his promotion is story-driven, with him receiving the last Heaven Seal when there's only a few maps remaining. While he will probably finish the game with very high stats, he suffers from being the only one of the Lords who doesn't gain Movement on his promotion, and being slow isn't very fun when you're also the character who's expected to seize the objective. This means either having him on a constant beeline for the throne or gate, or assigning someone to carry him around; either way, he doesn't get to use his fighting skills to his fullest.
    • Finn in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is quite the oddball as crutch characters go. When he initially joins in the prologue, he is a very underwhelming newbie of a lance knight, but his stat growths are pretty good, he has the all-important Pursuit, and he can be given a Brave Lance through a special event, turning into a strong and reliable combatant. Then at the end of the third chapter, he leaves the army... and then in the seventh, he turns up again, after a timeskip has forced you to effectively start your army over. Most of the post-timeskip characters have holy blood or legendary weapons, meaning they will surpass Finn easily when maxed out—but until that point, a unit with four times as much combat experience as your newbies is not an advantage you should discount.
    • Another common archetype is the "late crutch"—characters who show up around the midpoint or the endgame, with bad growths and stats that are just about high enough to handle most later enemies but comparatively low compared to well-trained characters of their class. These characters are designed to carry armies that have suffered massive losses, gotten smacked hard by the Random Number God, or are doing a Speed Run and don't have time to train. Like the early-crutch, though, they often see use as Boring, but Practical combatants long after their supposed expiration date, causing some players to regard them as more of an 11th-Hour Superpower.
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
      • Gunter, a prepromote Great Knight with decent bases and atrocious growths who leaves the party at the end of chapter 3 when Hans throws him into a chasm to his apparent death. He survives and returns in the Conquest route, where he manages to become this twice; the chapter he returns in is just you, him, and Quirky Bard Azura, and he will likely have to do a lot of the heavy lifting for that chapter (fortunately, his stats have improved in the interim). He also survives and returns on the Revelation route with the stats he had when he left, but he manages to still be this because your party right then consists of your Lord character, a healer, and Azura, and it's extremely unlikely that either of those three will match his base stats when he does return, so Gunter (alongside maybe your Lord) will be your heavy lifter for the early part of Revelation.
      • Both games give you two others: Jakob or Felicia (depending on your Lord's sex), who are a bit odd for this archetype in that they're support units rather than the usual "beef tank with a silver weapon". They have a very average stat line for their class, but they're versatile healers with Hidden Weapons (rare for Nohrian units) that can apply debuffs crucial to deal with the higher difficulty. They also get early access to powerful endgame-level skills, thanks to joining promoted and leveling up much more quickly than pre-promoted units usually do in this series.
      • We have another unusual case with the main Lord, Corrin, or more specifically their Dragonstone and eventually the Dragonstone+. With a massive Mt of 14 and 25, respectively, and the bonus of the early game enemies having low Resistance, they will OHKO most things you come across in the chapters where you get them, and the defense buffs will make Corrin invulnerable to many attacks for a while, but, in the long run, the inability to double opponents will relegate them as purely defensive weapons and will get outclassed in almost any other case by the upgraded Yato.
      • Conquest also has Camilla, a textbook Oifey who arrives right when you notice how finite experience really is. It's downplayed however, as datamining revealed she's assigned -5 internal levels for the purpose of experience calculation - still ahead of the curve, but it's not ruinous if she takes some early kills. Less so in Revelation, where she joins later and grinding is possible.
      • Another unusual example from Conquest is Niles. He is the only Nohrian class to use bows pre-promotion, but his class is actually this game's version of the thief, rather than The Archer. As a result, a lot of players mistakenly assumed he was more of an archer, rather than a thief who really isn't suited for combat, and later on in the game, is probably best relegated to staff duty and using his resistance to pick off mages.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses provides several unusual examples.
      • On Maddening, if playing as a female avatar that chose to lead the Black Eagles or Golden Deer, Sylvain can be recruited in Chapter 2 at Level 3, likely higher than most of the other characters due to the experience cut, and he gains access to the Lance of Ruin after clearing Chapter 5. While Sylvain has the growths to remain strong throughout the game, his lower dexterity and bad scaling on his personal skill can lead to other characters outclassing him later on, such as Ferdinand. In particular, if the player does not take advantage of his budding talent in Reason, Sylvain's bow weakness can lead to him having no reliable 1-2 range and being at the mercy of -breaker skills lategame.
      • Felix's personal skill, Lone Wolf, gives him an additional 5 damage per attack if he does not have a battalion deployed. While Felix himself remains strong throughout the game barring bad luck with level-ups, later on it becomes more effective to work against his authority weakness, as a good battalion can match or exceed Lone Wolf's damage output, in addition to other statistical bonuses and the ability to use gambits.
      • If the player chose the Blue Lions, Dedue. His base stats are high and allow him to easily weaken or kill enemies in the earlygame, but his low Speed growth can limit his long-term potential. He can also be Killed Offscreen during the timeskip, and even if the conditions for his return are met, Dedue will likely be underleveled upon his return to the party.
      • Downplayed with Leonie if the player chooses the Golden Deer to lead. Her base stats are amongst the highest in the game, and her personal skill gives her more bulk and power. (In fact, it has perfect synergy with the aforementioned Sylvain.) While her growths are adequate to let her remain on the team throughout the game, her relative level of power goes down.
      • Catherine can be made to join in Blue Lions or Golden Deer, simply by getting Byleth to a decent level (which can become a very low level if Byleth forms a good support with her). Not only is she incredibly powerful due to starting out in Swordmaster and having very good stats, but her signature ability gives her a hefty defensive boost if she doesn't have a Battalion assigned to her (which she likely won't in the early game). She even has a really strong sword in her inventory, which can be used by her or passed on to someone else. Unfortunately, in the later parts of the game, she lacks a strong final class and doesn't have much to let her stand out, meaning she tends to fall into the background.
      • If you're a Black Eagle, Edelgard is one of the most powerful units in your party, with strong bases, strong growths, and accelerated experience intake. Then she turns out to be the Flame Emperor and betrays you, and if you don't meet the requirements to join her or decide not to, she permanently abandons you.
    • Many fan-made Fire Emblem ROM hacks follow the trend. Notable examples include:
      • The Last Promise has Siegfried, available from the beginning of the game. Unusually for the archetype, his stat growths are very impressive, and his personal sword is not only strong, but has doubled Might against mages. However, your other units will easily outclass him by the time the difficulty starts ramping up later in the game which is also around the time Lahar shows up and kills him.
      • Midnight Sun has Hellios, whose personal weapon, the Warp Sword, can attack from a range. And then you find out he's actually the Demon King.
      • Road to Ruin's Eva, a Swordmaster who takes this trope Up to Eleven with her 0% Strength growth. She starts with both a powerful Pian Dao... and the Training Sword, which never breaks, is weak, and can't critically hit, making it an excellent weapon for weakening enemies so your other characters can pick them off.
      • Members of Something Awful made their own hack, Awful Emblem; its crutch character, Niccolo, is a Bishop who's useful for healing in the early game regardless of any stat growths.
      • Justice and Pride has Donovan, who is the game's only playable Grand Paladin. He has somewhat unstable growths, but his bases and weapon ranks in Swords, Bows, and Lances are great enough to last him throughout the endgame. Starting off with a bow also helps him in Reverse Mode, since enemies always attack first, and starting off both mounted and able to wield bows allows him to indirectly attack enemies with ease, and his somewhat mediocre growths are mitigated with the Relics and the Magus Scroll can be used on him to boost his growths to a more stable rate.
  • Berwick Saga, has Ward who averts this. While not flashy, his stats and weapon versatility enable him to last until the end of the game.
  • Tear Ring Saga, due to having Loads and Loads of Characters, has several examples all in one game:
    • Just before chapter 2, you are given the chance to recruit one of four new characters. One of them, Lee, is at level 15 (for reference, the rest of your party is around level 2 at this point) and has access to both attack magic and staves, something no one else is capable of, and is your first opportunity to get some attack magic (the next character with attack magic joins in chapter 5). His base stats, though, are rather low for his level despite being high at this point in the game, and his growths are significantly lower then most of the other magic users, so he'll usually be benched after better mages come around if he was even recruited at all (though he does give you a nice staff that can't be found anywhere else in the game).
    • During chapter 4, you can recruit Raquel, who's a promoted archer. Raquel's bases and growths are fairly good, she learns a useful anti-monster skill after a few levels, and she comes with a strong weapon, but she has a crippling weakness: she cannot kill human enemies, and instead leaves them at 1HP. This weakness can only be removed very late in the game, and requires you to recruit an otherwise-useless unit back in chapter 2. Her Elite skill prevents this from cutting into her experience gains too bad, but she'll still level just a bit slower than everyone else. She'll usually only see a lot of use in monster heavy chapters, or when you want to weaken a strong enemy so that a weaker unit can kill it and get the experience for it.
    • In chapter 5, you can recruit a Dark Knight named Zeek. Zeek has great base stats, is mounted, has decent growths, wields lances and axes, and has a support bonus with another unit named Kate. At the time he joins, your mounted units largely consist of mediocre fighters who only get weaker when they're forced to dismount, so he's useful right off the bat. Late in the game, he betrays your party and leaves permanently, retaining whatever stats and levels he had when you fight him as an enemy.
  • Volkoff in Langrisser (renamed Baldarov for its U.S. release, Warsong). In the beginning of the game, his level is maxed out and he deals far more damage than your allies and enemies, but by the fourth or fifth scenario most of your characters have caught up to him. He's simply there to absorb damage from the stronger armies until he gets assassinated at the end of Scenario 5.
  • Sword of the Stars
    • Zuul appear to be this at first. They have several advantages: Their ships start out cheap, faster both tactically and strategically and better-armed than most races'. They can take slaves, depriving an enemy world of population while driving up their own production. Having to overharvest means they can build up early money fast. However! They are a subversion who hew much closer to Difficult, but Awesome. See that page for more details.Short version 
    • Spacecraft built as missile buses can be this. Early on, missiles do more damage than anything else you have available and the early weapons are horrible at point defence, meaning a missile bus setup can easily wipe out brawler-types. As the game goes on, however, useful point defence and stronger direct-fire weapons become available, making a mainly-missile configuration less useful.
  • Tactics Ogre
    • Canopus seems like he would be an example of this. You get him in one of the first missions, he has decent movement, can fly, and does heavy damage. Subverted in that he never stops being useful, ever. He's amazing for the entire game.
    • There's also Low's father, who doubles as A Taste of Power. Since he's basically Low at his max level, he carries you through the first fight. He dies after the first level.
  • In the Super Robot Wars Original Generation games, you have the Battleships that deploy all of your units-the Hagane/Kurogane and the Hiryu Custom. At first, they're incredibly useful-in the Ryusei route of the first game, the Hagane is essentially capable of soloing most of the early levels. As the game wears on, however, their accuracy drops and their Wave Motion Guns get eclipsed by some of the later mechs. They can still be used as fire support, and they generally have fairly useful support Spirits, but they're too valuable to be risked in combat (getting one destroyed is a Mission Failure), tend to run out of energy too fast for sustained engagements, and in general aren't as useful, combat-wise, as one more Super Robot on the field would be. The fact that they can repair and rearm your units, however, means that you'll still be glad you had them.
    • In the same game on Ryusei's route there's also Ingram. He's one of the better pilots you have early on, his default mech measures up well and comes with a powerful built-in weapon which makes him one of your harder hitters. Then about halfway through the game you get the characters from the other route and, though you have some more characters who outclass him, he is still good enough to warrant deploying him. Then he betrays you and teams up with the bad guys to become many people's That One Boss and you never get him back. You get to keep the Wildschwein though.
    • Kyosuke's route gives us Sanger Zonvolt, THE SWORD THAT SMITES EVIL! with his fantastic stats, Grungust Type 0, useful skill set and always-critical-ing-Colossal Blade. Then he betrays you too and becomes a boss. Then he comes back, although he's still just as good.
    • Original Generation Gaiden seems to be rife with this:
      • Lamia Loveless is quite possibly turned into one. She appears for several missions in the beginning and is quite possibly the most useful characters to use (barring Kai). Then she and several others get captured and she's out of the player's control until the last quarter of the game, and while she still remains useful, you're given other Game-Breaker like Ialdabaoth or the Compatible Kaiser that she might end up collecting the dust instead...
      • Axel Almer and Alfimi. They only appear in several missions, they can't be customized except for the last two levels. Axel is a decent fighter, but as said above, your pool of Game-Breaker at the point he can be customized could render him just mediocre (and unlike his game of origins, you can't put him in the aforementioned Vysaga, which he COULD use in the original game). Alfimi, on the other hand, is a class of her own not due to her kickass ability in battle, but her kickass Seishin set (you'll need them).
      • Shu Shirakawa. He helps you out rather early in the game and also pops in at one time when Axel-Alfimi are featured. When he does join you, his stats look really abysmal that he's often considered a dead weight if taken to the battle against Dark Brain. Then, per what he does in his origin, he betrays you in the final stage.
      • Interestingly enough, by 2nd Original Generation, the majority of them becomes MUCH more viable, as Lamia joins very early once the Masou Kishin section is done, and despite the nerf Vysaga got, she's still an all-rounder with either it or Angelg. Alfimi is pretty much the same (just make sure you collect your Skill Points). On the other hand, Axel and Shu flat out enter Game-Breaker status since Axel joins mid-game, and while Shu joins later and instead stuck with Granzon, but more than makes up for his blunder (see the SRW section of that for their details)note .
    • Non-OG example, Daitarn3 in Alpha Gaiden is a wonderful tank and can move very far for a Super Robot due to flight and its alternate modes. However, as you get later on, tanking is very difficult. Not to say he's not a top tier mecha by the end, HE IS. But Banjo can no longer charge in blindly without expecting to have his HP bar go from 11000 to 2500 in a few hits, and his free attacks falls in 3 range, when the preferred range would be 4. Luckly, Banjo has shield defense skill, high SP and damage output keep him a must for the endgame.
    • Another non OG example, and probably one of the best examples in the series to date, Kamina in Z2 Hakai-Hen. He's got the best stats of any of Gurren Lagann's pilots by far, but as per the series, he dies halfway through the game. And breaking away from the SRW tradition, his death is completely unavoidable. It's still pretty incentive to use him, though, because it also means raising Simon's stats.
    • Alpha Gaiden has a really interesting example in Tetsuya Tsurugi, which is possibly the most bizzare example in the series. He is simmilar to Kamina (or rather the reverse since Tetsuya is made first), being basicaly the best pilot in his own team stats-wise. Great, his personal mech is an awesome unit. It has high armor, good movement, and powerful weapons such as the one shot Post movement Great Booster, Far range expensive Thunder Break, a MAP weapon Thunder Break, and the post movement 4 range free Rocket Punch that deals high damage, and its EN cheap stronger variants with 3 range all of which is enchanced by Mazinpower making it possibly one of the best unit in the entire game. Not only that, Tetsuya has "Gain" spirit command that basicaly makes him far above the others in term of level advancement, making the entirety of the early to mid game a total joke just by deploying and training him. However, he lacks Alert spirit command, which considering the late game bosses power in Alpha Gaiden, makes it hard for him to handle bosses and he suffers Daitarn 3 tanking problems, but not as severe thanks to his better set of weapons. The story puts him on a conflict with the entire team, and implies that he will leave the team for good. And one of the midgame stages pits you against him Brainwashed and Crazy against Koji, and Getter team UNCOMBINED. So what makes him an interesting example? First, while he is not as powerful in the late game, he is so far above the entire team from the start, especialy in term of firepower that you'll end up using him anyway. Second, his MAP weapon is so useful against late game bosses that abuses the support defend skill. Third, and why he is so interesting as an example is the fact that unlike any other Crutch Character examples, he is so important in the storyline that you just CANT ignore upgrading him unless you want a hard time, and you actually get the most total usage out of him (in fact, he is the first character you control after the Time Skip and barring routes shift, he almost never leaves the party from there on), and despite how the story implies he will leave, he doesn't, in fact, all of the events caused by said implications makes him ends up more developed than any other character in your team. And thanks to his skills, no matter how you ignore him, he will easily catch up in short amount of time without any notable problems. In short, he is a Crutch Character that seems to do everything that a Crutch Character usually does, forces you to fall victim to this trope, and heavily implied to be a crutch, and he is made to be as fit as possible to looks like a crutch, yet by the endgame he ends up subverting this trope despite having done his crutch punishment at some point in the game.
    • Surprisingly and ironically, the true Crutch Character of Alpha Gaiden? Mazinger Z. Not the pilot, its the mech itself. It is basically Great Mazinger redux. It has nice weapons, good upgrade growth amongst Super Robot Genre(1200 extra power, every other Super caps at 800-1000), and nice stats. Thanks to the implications, you might end up focusing on Mazinger Z than Great as a close substitution. Oh and he gets upgraded in the endgame, which since its already so good, it seems that it would be really nice. Then why is it considered this? Mazin Kaiser. Mazinkaiser is so much better than Mazinger Z that unupgraded Kaiser has a comparable raw stats to FULLY upgraded Mazinger Z (which is basically near impossible in normal means) and did not share/inherits upgrade with/from Z. It has HP regeneration as well. Oh, and do you think the power-up will save him? No, its acquired in the same stage as Mazinkaiser making it basically pointless. Put it on Tetsuya? it lacks the MAP attack that makes Tetsuya valuable. Your other choice to put him is Jun who has lousy Melee stats, Sayaka whose spirit commands are more support based, and Boss, who despite having better melee stats than Jun, has rather bad stats overall, lacks a lot of essential Seishin and bombing capability is too good to pass on the remaining stages, thus making Mazinger Z a mecha collecting dust in the base.
    • The Delta Plus in Super Robot Wars BX. It comes with 5 upgrades in all stats when everyone else is barely upgraded, but it leaves unless it is unlocked as a secret.
    • In Super Robot Wars V, the title goes to the Yamato battleship. Anything it looks at, it destroys quite easily. It dodges things that it shouldn't be able to dodge and its weakest attacks can sink even mid-level battleships. You get the Yamato as early as the second stage but as soon as players reach the eighth stage, players are in for a nasty surprise as the Yamato can't move and the SR Point is to not get it hit. Then after this stage, the Yamato disappears for quite some time until it joins you for good, though at that point it's a different story.
    • A downplayed example but Dio Junyou Weinberg and his Bradyon is this for Aoba Watase in his Luxon as Aoba starts Super Robot Wars X at a low level with zero kills on his belt and only has the "Persist"note  spirit command for a large portion of the early game while Dio has both "Focus"note  and "Flash"note  which both can share with the "Coupling"note  mecha ability. However later on, Aoba is able to build up morale on his own with the "Spirit"note  spirit command and can survive in the front lines while Dio will start to rely more on Aoba with Aoba's spirit commands and has a harder time to reach the morale thresholds needed for their Combination Attack plus his combination attacks aren't post movement unlike Aoba's.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has Laharl himself. If you use him and him alone, he'll remain several levels above any enemies he faces in the game proper, allowing him to steamroller through all opposition with far less grinding than it would take to make any other character useful. Unfortunately, he is less capable than a Divine Majin, and while he can transmigrate, he can't change classes when doing so, so he's at a disadvantage when Level Grinding for the bonus content (which over half of any serious player's playtime will be devoted to).
    • For the series in general, healers and defensive characters. They can be crucial for much of the game (the entire story mode for starters), but during all the post-game content Disgaea tends to turn into an offense only affair. Basically at some point both your characters and the enemies will be doing so much damage that everyone dies in one hit, meaning defense is meaningless and healing impossible to even use.
    • To some small degree, Prinnies. They are never particularly strong characters (We Have Reserves is putting it lightly; they only cost 1 HL to revive), but have the unique ability to explode when thrown, damaging everyone around them. This can be extremely useful at the beginning of the game, when your characters have little in the way of wide area attacks available. But soon you will get area attacks that don't require sacrificing allies. Also the damage prinnies do when exploding depends on their hit points, and it won't be long before the amount of damage you can do with real weapons far outstrips this number (which is why the game eventually becomes mostly one hit kills, as described above).
  • Battle for Wesnoth has this in its flagship campaign. Most characters in Wesnoth start at level 0 or 1, and tend to max out at around level 3. One of the early characters in Heir to the Throne, Delfador, is a level 5 archmage. On the one hand, this means he can fry almost anything he touches in the early levels. On the other hand, he is already at his max level, so he makes poor use of XP that would be better given to your other units, enemies do get stronger as the game goes on, and losing him is an instant game over making it dangerous to keep him on the front lines. The game even finds places for him to vanish to occasionally, probably to keep novices from making the later missions Unwinnable by mistake.
    • The Orcish Assassin unit also falls into this category in that leveling it up is not at all worth the XP. The two abilities that make the Assassin worthwhile, Marksmanship and Poison, are both had at the first level. All leveling an Assassin into a Slayer gives is a bit more HP, a longer attack sequence, and more XP for the enemy who manages to kill it.
  • The cyborg recruits in X-COM: Apocalypse start off more resilient, accurate and courageous than any human or mutant recruit at the time of hiring. The catch? They cannot increase their stats by training and so quickly get left behind when the meatbags start getting the hang of things. The only trump card they have by the endgame is complete psionic immunity.
    • The psionic immunity makes them incredibly useful in the early game, too, because a common early game enemy is the "Brainsucker", which, while easy to kill, moves quickly and permanently mind controls a character if they successfully leap on their head - and the most common early game enemy weapon is a launcher that shoots brainsuckers at people. Androids are not only immune to being mind controlled, but the brainsuckers will completely ignore their presence, rendering most early game enemies harmless. Relying on them too much in the "Brainsucker" phase of the game means your human and mutant units won't have the experience they need to take on the later game threats, however.
    • Their predecessors, the HWP units of the first two X-COM games, have a milder version of this. They're faster, better armored, immune to mind-control shenanigans, and tougher than your rookies, but don't get stat increases and are 4 times the size of a person. And rookies only get to become supersoldiers by getting out and mixing it up with those xeno bastards, so one cannot rely on the HWP to do all the major work or you'll never get your troops to those One-Man Army levels of power (Also, losing a rookie is cheaper than losing a HWP). However, HWPs are still the best at a particular role; their lack of an inventory and immunity to psi-powers mean they're perfect fire-support platforms. They can carry more rockets or blaster bombs than any soldier, and you never have to worry about them panicking or being controlled into shooting your own troops with those explosives. And while rookies are easy to replace, late-game highly-trained soldiers are not; the HWP's large size means they can be used as mobile cover.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
    • The SHIVs, the HWP-equivalent. Faster, tougher, better-armed, more accurate than rookies with mind control immunity to boot, but lose out to highly-trained meatbags. Nevertheless, their usefulness is such that many strategies for Classic and Impossible difficulties involve rushing to get them out the door ASAP.
    • Of the human classes, the Heavy. their first upgrade is the ability to fire a rocket that can often One-Hit Kill early-game enemies or destroy any cover they were hiding behind, and their second ability can be either Holo-targeting (an ally aiming at the same target as the heavy gets a +10 bonus to aim, useful for low-level units that have a low aim stat) or Burst Fire (the Heavy can fire twice in one turn if they don't take a move action, useful if you need to kill an enemy but miss the first shot). At later levels, the rockets lose some of their value as enemies become tougher and other high-damage weapons become available, and the Heavy's aim stat grows more slowly than other classes, causing them to miss a lot when shooting.
  • World of Warcraft has Pet Battles which fall into the TBS category, and they can be VERY prone to this. Due to the way the pet battle quests work, some people go from level 1-25 using the same three pets. By the time they reach Pandaria, though, sheer power doesn't cut it, so if your team doesn't have type advantages, (or, god help you, disadvantages against them), then this can label all of your first three pets as Crutch Characters due to not being up to the task as opposed to more type-appropriate pets. Even worse is the fact that some pets, such as ones bought from the Auction House or gained through Trading Card Game loot cards can be level 25 when you first get them, and there is nothing stopping you using them on the first trainers. Well, apart from the fact that when enemies get strong enough to actually kill your single level 25, the game will completely turn around and bite you on the arse.
  • Pepper in Future Tactics: The Uprising is the only character in the game to have a Line of Sight and a Ballistic attack, both of which have unlimited ammo, which makes her more useful than every other character combined despite being a 12 year old girl. The game takes her away from you very abruptly in a cutscene.
  • Ragnus in Gungnir. While it's not as noticeable on Basic or Advance, you're forced to use him on Nightmare and plan good strategies to win, unless you abuse the Mercy Mode feature.
  • As of the fifth iteration of the series, Civilization has a few:
    • The Aztec Empire has one of the best early-game units around in the Jaguar Warrior, a powerful unit that heals when it fights, hits hard in forests and jungle, and ignores jungle terrain while moving. Add in the Aztec buff to Culture from killing enemies through Sacrificial Victims, and an Aztec player can spam Jaguars and have them slaughter barbarians or raid other Civs with impunity while also building up social policies. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, the Jaguar is also the replacement for the Warrior - the very first unit in the game, and one that goes obsolete almost immediately. Once things like Longswordmen are on the table, the Aztecs tend to suffer pretty hard in their military focus - to the point that many Aztec players end up going for a Cultural or Scientific victory by the late game instead, and this is where a possible Subversion comes in: Aztec cities built near lake tiles can use Floating Gardens to grow quickly and gear themselves to pumping out lots of Science or Culture, making the Aztecs quite versatile even later in the game.
    • The Huns replace the fairly weak Chariot Archer with the Horse Archer, a deadly unit that doesn't require horses and can speed along through rough terrain, and get Animal Husbandry for free to make getting them even easier. They also have the Battering Ram, a special siege unit that knocks down cities in a handful of hits and comes online at about the same time, and get a production boost for controlling Pastures (which Animal Husbandry lets them build right off the bat). And on top of that, they can Raze cities at double speed, burning them to the ground and leaving nothing for the opponent. All this combined means that Attila can build a horde of cavalry to turn the pitiful starting armies of other civs into pincushions, then follow up with a few rams to reduce their cities to rubble, before selling off every building inside, leaving a burning husk, and continuing on his merry way to capture the capital. Unfortunately for Attila, this advantage is also his weakness - all his abilities and units apply most in the Ancient and Classical Era. Once other civs have reached the Medieval Era, the Horse Archer is completely obsolete, and the Battering Ram will probably be slaughtered before it gets within a mile of a city.
    • Polynesia's unique Wayfinding ability allows all of its units to embark on and cross oceans from turn one, meaning Polynesia can explore the entire world a good three Ages before everyone else. This lets it meet every other civ and city-state, settle faraway lands, and hopefully get a start on the World Congress, giving it some heavy diplomatic chops. It also has the Moai improvement, which gives a pile of free Culture very early on. Finally, like the Aztecs, it has a powerful Warrior replacement in the form of the Maori Warrior... but before long, the Maori will become obsolete, and by the renaissaince era everyone else will pick up Astronomy, making Polynesia's main skill redundant.
    • Persia's Immortals are Spearmen with an improved healing rate, which is useful for keeping your elite forces alive through protracted early-game warfare. The problem is that they become obsolete when you gain Civil Service, which most Persian players will want to get ASAP because the wonder it lets you build (Chichen Itza) works well with Persia's unique ability. Brave New World fixes this somewhat by placing Civil Service further up the Tech Tree, giving Persia significantly more time to build Immortals before they go defunct. Also, Civil Service lets your existing Immortals upgrade into Pikemen while keeping their doubled healing rate, so while you lose the ability to build more of them, the ones you have will remain useful for the rest of the game.
    • The Zulu, uniquely, are nothing special in the early game and then ascend to this in the mid-game. The Impi is a Medieval Era unit that can throw its spear before attacking, giving it what amounts to double power, and it gets stronger when fighting gunpowder units, meaning it actually keeps pace when other people start making muskets. Their special building, the Ikanda, gives unique and powerful promotions to pre-gunpowder units, making the Impi even stronger. Add in the XP boost to earn those promotions faster and reduced maintenance costs, and Shaka can celebrate the dawn of the Medieval Era by taking over half the map. But then, much like in history, once gunpowder units can beat the Impi, the Zulu's military dominance falls apart, since their own gunpowder units won't get the Ikanda's advantages, and the Impi's unique spear-tossing and anti-gunpowder bonuses don't carry over when it upgrades.
    • Sumeria, the literal Ur-Example of a civilisationnote  is all about winning early wars and getting off to a great start. Their unique unit, the War Cart, is not only much stronger than the Heavy Chariot it replaces but also requires no horses to build and no technology to unlock so it can be built at the very start of the game. The Ziggurat, the unique building of Sumeria, also can be built from the word go and it produces a decent amount of Science and Culture when constructed near a river, giving the Sumerians an early edge.
  • In Dominions, these are are called thugs. Powerful, easy to recruit single units that can cut a swath through the Independents of the world, but can't hold their own against late-game super combatants.
  • Project X Zone 2: Brave New World has the pair unit Chun-Li and Ling Xiaoyu. Early availability, the first unit that permanently joins the party with a MAP attack that hits all 4 enemy slots, has a high movement, and can easily rack so many kills. Feed them too many kills however and the other party members will be left behind especially when the game will force players to use other characters. Considering some units don't even get their MAP attack till the plot gives it to them, those characters will really start falling behind.
  • In Mordheim: City of the Damned, it could be argued that the Sisters of Sigmar are an entire faction of these. They can all equip heavy armour and large heavy-hitting weapons as standard and come with a lot of healing and support spells. On the other hand, their poor mobility, awful climbing and jumping skills and complete lack of shooting mean that advanced tactics like flanking, ambushing and overwatch are difficult if not impossible. The ultimate strategy for Sisters warbands begins and ends with rolling your fancy elite hammer-swinging, magic-slinging wall of pain up the map and killing everything that gets in the way. They're very powerful but overusing them will encourage a simplistic playstyle which would get any of the other three factions killed very quickly.
  • The first level of Battletech gives you two of these: Raju 'Mastiff' Montgomery has an average 'mech (a 50-ton Centurion) but his piloting stats are insanely high as befitting his status as an Old Soldier, while Kamea Arano is closer to the Player Character's level but her 'mech (a 55-ton Kintaro) is a Lightning Bruiser beyond compare. All characters must survive the first level so there' no reason to keep them in reserve, and both Raju and Kamea leave you after the level is complete (Raju is killed covering your escape and Kamea in an exploding dropship).
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic 3, an enterprising Castle player can acquire Crossbowmen (a level 2 upgraded unit) as early as Day 1. While their stats are overall unimpressive, their double shot ability combined with fairly high speed of 6 contributes to Castle's early military might and allows your heroes to grab more pickups and unlock things on the map earlier than you'd think possible, provided you keep them well-guarded (which can be done reasonably well with your level 1 unit). By the time you start fighting enemy players and laying siege to cities - which hold potent spells and city defenses respectively - their frailty will quickly catch up to them however and you'll start losing them in droves.

     Beat Em Up 
  • Advance Guardian Heroes has an interesting version of this. Throughout the game, you're pitted against the main characters from the first game, and upon beating them they lend you their soul, offering a massive stat boost. However, said stat boosts get taken away frequently (whenever you fight one of the heroes, first you have to beat them, and then the souls you've collected so far are taken away and turned back into the characters they belong to, and then you have to fight them all over again all at once) and in the final boss fight they're permanently taken away one by one, so if you aren't still leveling up these boosted stats you'll be in for a world of hurt.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, Uni is a victim of this. Early game has players use Uni, find a spot on the map and start shooting at whatever comes at her way just by holding the Square button. Very useful early game and quite a bit in the mid game, but when pitting her against bosses, she barely can damage them. The Final Boss makes her even worse at that as the preferred range of attacking the boss is actually near her.

  • League of Legends has "bully" characters whose main attribute is an ability kit with great base power but poor item-based scaling, or an ability kit designed to be excellent for early game laning but fall off in power as the game goes on. Competent bully players will capitalize on their early game strength to prevent the enemy laner from becoming strong and outscaling them while increasing their advantage(minion kills, champion kill, tower kills, objectives, etc) in order to set up their team with a favorable game that can be more easily won.
    • Pantheon is the Epitome of early game power. His greatest weakness in the early game is the mana costs of his abilities, which is mitigated by a starting item. In the early game he comes in with high burst and can easily punish his opponents for getting close to kill minions, and trades well with his passive allowing him to dive underneath turrets for an attack, or block the next incoming enemy attack. At level six, he can use his 'Grand Skyfall' ability to flank his opponents from anywhere, allowing him to secure advantages for himself and his team. As the game progresses, he has moderate scalings into the late game, but falls off heavily due to most of his power being flanking and dueling opponents rather than the team-centric grouping that happens in the later parts of the game. Oh, and the laner he was supposed to make useless and crush by now has scaled and brings more to their team than Pantheon does for his.
  • Heroes of the Storm
    • Li-Ming starts the game able to kill almost any squishy hero with one sequence of abilities, thanks to her insane base damage. Additionally, her Critical Mass trait refreshes all of her cooldowns when she scores a takedown, potentially rolling over an entire backline with perfect aim. This is balanced by her damage scaling, which increases by 3% per level instead of the standard 4%. Where in the early game Li-Ming can blow people up, in the late her damage can't keep up with the enemy's increased health, so she needs her team to soften targets first.
    • Kel'Thuzad is a weird mix between this and Magikarp Power. His abilities aren't that powerful and only scale at 2%, but his trait is a built-in quest that grants him 75% bonus spell power permanently once he's finished it. If KT finishes his quest early, he can unleash a combo that will one-shot even the tankiest heroes. By level 16 however, his damage starts to mellow out, eventually falling in line with other mages. If he doesn't finish his quest in a timely manner, KT suffers from Can't Catch Up harder than any hero.

     Non Video-Game Examples 
  • Ed's character arc in season 8 of Scrubs messes with tropes in a way that illustrates this trope. Ed starts out Brilliant, but Lazy, satisfied with where he is. However, none of the other interns are. So while Ed is off trolling Lost fansites, the other interns are actually getting better to the point where Ed is left in the dust. When he completely fails at bettering himself in Dr. Cox's eyes, Cox doesn't hesitate in firing him and replacing him with a better intern.
  • In Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, Hazumu is this for Yasuna until the end of the series. Yasuna had a weird condition where she was unable to see men, then later it got worse when she also lost the ability to see women as well. But Hazumu, using The Power of Love, manages to clear her selective blindness, and in the following OVA she rejects Hazumu yet again so that she could stand on her own from that point on.
  • In Spiral Hiyono Yuizaki, who was hired by Kiyotaka to constantly support his younger brother Ayumu. When Ayumu finally confronts Kiyotaka, Kiyotaka promptly kicks away the crutch by revealing she was his puppet the entire time in a gambit to make Ayumu fall into such a rage, he would murder Kiyotaka.
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • Goku eventually begins to worry that he is a Crutch Character among the cast. He knows that, eventually, he will die permanently, and if the other characters haven't become strong enough to cope in his absence that will be a huge problem, as the series demonstrates in Future Trunks' timeline (where Goku succumbed to a heart disease, leaving the rest of the cast unable to deal with the Androids showing up later). To that end, he starts training others up to his level, but the new villains inevitably are so overbearingly powerful that only Goku has the strength to beat them in the end. That and his successors tend to be lazy about training.
    • Frieza is an extremely rare villain example. Because of how overwhelmingly powerful he is, most of his soldiers tend to rely on his strength to protect them and deter anyone from rebelling against the empire. Vegeta calls out Cui, Zarbon, and Dodoria for relaxing with Frieza and growing complacent and content while he fought on the front lines growing stronger. While those three remained relatively powerful, most within Frieza's army are only as strong as Raditz. Also, Cui and Dodoria did try to run to Frieza for help once Vegeta proved to be stronger than them. When Frieza is killed on Earth, his empire fell apart without him because none of his men had his strength or fear factor. The very premise of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is that Frieza's henchmen, unable to sustain the empire without Frieza's menacing presence and overwhelming strength, brings him back to life.
    • In Super, both Gohan and Trunks fall into the trap of relying on their fathers (at this point among the most powerful beings in the multiverse) to solve problems they feel overwhelmed by. Gohan realises that while he may never have the love of fighting his father has, he still has a responsibility to stand as a protector. Trunks realises that he's being short sighted, with Vegeta asking so what if they beat Black if they don't think ahead to the next enemy after him. Both stop relying on their fathers as a crutch and undergo significant power ups.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry winds up being this from the perspective of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Ron has crippling confidence issues interfering with his ability to play keeper, not helped by the Slytherins' bullying strategy of singing a sarcastic idolization song painting him as Slytherin's greatest weapon because he sucks so badly. Harry manages to save the first game of the year from Ron's poor performance by catching the Snitch, but when he's banned from Quidditch due to the events after the match, the team is scrambling to replace him, Fred and George while Ron needs to improve quickly. In the end, Ron does come through, and Gryffindor wins the Cup without Harry, and would do so again in Book 6.
  • Shirou Emiya serves as this for the first part of Fate Revelation Online by assisting in the boss battles. Because he's an actual magus and has experience in the Holy Grail War, he can ensure that the battles end quickly through brute force and ensuring that no unnecessary deaths occur.
  • Many Logia fruit users in One Piece eventually suffer this. They all have the power of Elemental Shapeshifting, which makes most of them Nigh-Invulnerable and a serious threat early on. However, Haki is eventually introduced, which allowed users to nullify devil fruit powers with their attacks much like sea prism stones do. By the time the Straw Hats get to the New World, everyone and their mother knows how to use Haki, so any Logia users who've become over-reliant on their Nigh-Invulnerability without anything else to fall back on are basically screwed. Caribou exemplifies this for the series - he shows up, extremely proud of his power (ability to turn into a mud bog and capture objects or people inside himself), but once everybody catches up on him sneaking around, he gets taken down by Luffy in one punch. And when he comes to after that, he gets one-shotted by Pekoms in the same way, who even rubs it in about him using his Fruit power as a crutch.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Kirito is Not Good with People, being a discriminated 'Beater' (a portmanteau of beta tester and cheater created by characters that were salty that Kirito had advanced knowledge of the game due to having been a beta tester) under a disguise which guarantees he's far stronger than any other characters in the field. When he's recruited into the Moonlit Black Cats Guild, he only aims to be the party's Crutch Character and train them up until they're strong enough individually before leaving the team. Unfortunately for him, when he starts to get attached to the team, the members pull a Too Dumb to Live moment and get everybody except the Crutch Character killed. In fact, one could argue that this is a bit of a Deconstructed Trope, since the party's reliance on Kirito seemed to make them overconfident and led to their downfall.
    • He's learned a bit from this, as during his encounter with Silica, he joins her and leaves as soon as she successfully revives her dragon pet. They remain friends, but he doesn't form a permanent party or partnership with her. The light novel points out that Silica, despite having a rare and desirable dragon pet, is simply too low level to be of any use to the "clearers," which is why she's unable to accompany him.
  • Accel World has Haruyuki's Duel Avatar, Silver Crow. His ability to fly, something that no other Duel Avatar has ever possessed, gives him a great advantage in the territory battles, at least until his team runs into ranged attackers who are able to take down Haruyuki while he's flying. As such, Nega Nebulus is held back until Haruyuki can overcome this problem, as well as the hit to his already fragile self-confidence.
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One villainous Rider Kamen Rider Thouser is practically this trope embodied. In a show that puts particular emphasis on the theme of progress and evolution, Thouser stands out with a belt that declares him "perfect" from the get-go, possessing overwhelming physical power and a Power Copying weapon that lets him do everything his opponents can and more. Over the next few months, he's the only character who never does anything to improve his skills as a fighter, instead copying more and more powers without training in how to use any of them, and the result of his laziness is that having all those powers doesn't actually make him any stronger than he was before. By the end of the arc that he leads as the villain, two separate characters have beaten Thouser in their most basic forms simply by having grown more skillful while he was standing still.
  • Super Sentai and its adaptation Power Rangers.
    • Doggy Kruger of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and his American counterpart Anubis "Doggie" Cruger of Power Rangers S.P.D. forces the Rangers to see this trope in their respective series. After noticing that they're just hanging back and letting him defeat the Monster of the Week, he ends up sitting out a fight and telling them to solve it on their own.
    • Mahou Sentai Magiranger has Miyuki Ozu, the mother of the Five-Man Band and a powerful ice magician. She manages to easily defeat a Monster of the Week on her own, can grow to giant size at will, is the one who gave the Five-Man Band their powers and has knowledge that would probably solve all of the series' problems in no time. Because the series is probably aware of her status of Crutch Character, she is seemingly killed off by the Dark Magician Wolzard in the second episode. Udonna from Power Rangers Mystic Force fills the same spot, but only loses her powers instead of being killed off.
  • Similarly, The Powerpuff Girls realize in one episode that the people of Townsville have become so reliant on them that they're even called in to help with mundane tasks. Thus when the Monster of the Week shows up, they sit back and force the townspeople to take care of it themselves while only offering advice.
  • Averted in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as it tends to find some way to incapacitate the Alicorn princesses in order to prevent them from becoming this, as their powers could likely solve the issue in a few seconds. Princess Cadance was forced to uphold the force-field to keep Sombra out of the Crystal Empire while the Mane Six saved the day (though she got the killing blow), Princess Luna was forced to hold the dream together while the residents of Ponyville fought the Tantibus (though again she got the last strike), and Princess Celestia was... somewhere... when the Mane Six were battling Nightmare Moon and Discord.
    • Later, the Mane Six start to become this, as their experience dealing with threats to Equestria means that later villains have to factor removing the Mane Six from the equation somehow in order to pose a threat. This is best demonstrated in the Season 7 finale, where the villain is dealt with rather smoothly (in part due to the fact that it was sealed away for a thousand years, and still weakened after it was freed). The main conflict of that episodes ends up being the heroes debating whether or not the villain is redeemable.
  • Belkar Bitterleaf, of The Order of the Stick, is in the category of "great early on, sucks against anything after." In his case, it's because he has great physical stats, including enough Strength to counterbalance being a halfling, lots of attacks due to being a ranger, and he's far more bloodthirsty than his teammates and fairly cunning in battle, making him a One-Man Army when he has the task of slaughtering Mooks. However, his Wisdom is quite bad, meaning his ranger skills (traditionally including tracking, scouting, and spellcasting) besides Dual Wielding are nonexistent, and giving him few options besides slaughtering mooks. He also has a terrible Will save, making him easy prey for any enemy with Mind Control, and his attitude means he often causes more problems in social situations than he solves. Altogether, it means he has the highest kill count of any member, but his record against equally strong opponents is pretty bad.
  • Rhinox, of Beast Wars, started off as a powerful Genius Bruiser, but was also the only one who never got an upgrade. Over the course of the series, as he gets outstripped, his raw strength and firepower gets downplayed until he's almost completely in a mission control role.
  • In Girls und Panzer, the main characters, "Anglerfish Team," initially are this for the entire Oarai tankery team. While their tank, the Panzer IV, isn't especially good, Miho, the main character, is the only one who's done tankery before, and her teammates are some of the best in their roles. As such, in the manga, Yukari wonders if they're relying on Miho too much- in the five on five tank match with St. Gloriana, Anglerfish Team defeats three tanks while Hippo defeats one. As time goes on, the other Oarai tank crews improve and become better able to pick up the slack. The Panzer IV itself functions this way, as it's got acceptable speed, armor, and firepower against the medium tanks of Sanders High and Anzio, but it needs a Mid-Season Upgrade from the Panzer IV Ausf D to the Panzer Iv Ausf F2 to have enough firepower to keep competing againt Pravda's heavier armor.
  • TierZoo considers most Neuropterans such as the Antlion and Lacewing to be these. As larvae, both are powerful predators with high stealth in the former and with the capability to wear its dead prey as armor in the latter. As adults, they are weak, flimsy, cannot fly well, and only serve to complete the quest of reproduction. However, not all Neuropterans fall under this trope, as shown by the Mantidfly whose adult form is still a powerful combatant.
  • Your parents. Growing up we are weak, developing, immature, uneducated, and it's parents who we rely on to raise and care for us with emotional support, love, guidance, and caring for our domestic needs. As we grow older and find our own way in life, parents age and retire and we become far less reliant on them, often with them becoming reliant on us for things. It's no small wonder we as a society look down on Abusive or Neglectful Parents, and adults who continue to live at home and mooch off their parents, as much as we do.

Alternative Title(s): Jeigan Character, Jagen Archetype, Jeigan Archetype, Jagen Character


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