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"My favorite three questions are, 'What do I want?', 'What do I have?', and 'How can I best use the latter to get the former?'"
Bella, Luminosity

Completing a triangle with the Action Hero and the Science Hero, the Guile Hero is a hero who operates by playing politics and manipulating the bad guys. The Guile Hero trades swords and guns (or science and technology) for charm, wit, political and/or financial acumen, and an in-depth knowledge of human nature. The Chain of Deals, along with the Social Engineering and Gambit Index tropes are all at the Guile Hero's fingertips. Often, a Guile Hero will manipulate the other good guys and a whole bunch of innocent bystanders as part of his scheme to bring down the Big Bad, though he'll take care to ensure the other characters aren't truly harmed in the process (and if he fails, he'll be very sorry). The Guile Hero is likely to be a politician or a businessman, and engage in Battles of Wits. If he has superpowers, then he's likely to think that Heart Is an Awesome Power.

The Guile Hero could be a good analog to the Manipulative Bastard (though there can be occasional overlap if they are willing to manipulate their friends as well as their enemies): the Guile Hero is unambiguously a good guy with the same goals as any Action Hero or Science Hero. Though some other heroes may be unhappy with being manipulated by the Guile Hero, it is made clear to the reader that this character both has a heroic goal and is not (usually) Jumping Off the Slippery Slope into becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist. When a Guile Hero suffers an Epic Fail, it falls under the Too Clever by Half trope.

The Guile Hero combines elements of The Chessmaster and the Manipulative Bastard without having to be all of these. A Guile Hero isn't necessarily The Chessmaster: the Guile Hero is simply a hero who uses wit, charm, and skill to mislead and set up the bad guys, whereas The Chessmaster is often devoted to grander schemes and more likely to use Chess Motifs. A Manipulative Bastard tends to be more personal and controlling in his manipulations. A Guile Hero need not be a master manipulator; "guile" can mean "shrewdness" instead of "deceit". As for The Trickster, a Guile Hero is just as likely to be The Stoic or a "Stop Having Fun" Guy as the fun-loving and mischievous trickster. The Chain of Deals is just as valid a tool for these characters as The Plan, and a Guile Hero may very well be a grown-up High-School Hustler.

In The Team, the Guile Hero is most likely to be The Face of the troupe and/or The Smart Guy, though a particularly bright Leader or Lancer can also fit in. If The Heart uses their emotional influence to the extreme and combines it with quick wits and words, They can also grow into one. Female Guile Heroes are also often the Beauty of a Beauty, Brains, and Brawn trio. The Guile Hero is also frequently a Sixth Ranger, and if a Sixth Ranger is also a Guile Hero, then he tends to be Sixth Ranger Traitor.

Compare the Young Conqueror, which is a young example of this trope taken Up to Eleven with a side of Take Over the World ambition as well. May overlap with Good Is Not Dumb. Compare Silk Hiding Steel when a Proper Lady feels like plotting. Very, very rarely will this overlap with Small Steps Hero, due to the latter being unwilling to sacrifice innocent parties — but manipulating the villains is just fine. The Evil Counterpart of the Guile Hero is the Magnificent Bastard.

In some rare cases, the Guile Hero may be a character who is more powerful than anyone else (either through magic or science and technology) and could easily solve everything himself. But doing so may violate his principles.

The Guile Hero is the most common type of hero in a Puzzle Thriller, and they often shine brightest in one.

Not under any circumstances to be confused with a certain Sonic Boom-tossing airman whose theme song goes with everything.


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    Fairy Tales and Folklore 
  • Kate Crackernuts: Kate negotiates a deal with the king, sneaks into (and escapes from) the realm of The Fair Folk three times, uses some well-placed nuts to steal artifacts she needs to break the spells on both her sister and the prince, and ultimately secures the Standard Hero Reward, with his brother marrying her now-disenchanted sister.
  • Puss in Boots: The titular cat requests a shapeshifting ogre to show off his full range of abilities. When the ogre turns into a mouse, the cat swallows him and moves into the ogre's castle with his owner.
  • In Asbjørnsen and Moe's "The Old Dame and her Hen", the little daughter triumphs over the incredibly strong and dangerously hot-tempered troll by being observant, patient, and clever. For example, she asks him to carry food to her mother, and then she stuffs a sack with his gold and silver, covered with a little food.
  • Espen Askeladd, aka Askeladden (the Ash-Lad) from Norwegian folklore qualifies as one of these. Most of the sticky situations he gets in he resolves by outsmarting the baddie. For some examples, he convinces a hungry troll not to eat him by demonstrating his prodigious strength by squeezing the piece of cheese in his pocket, impressing the troll by squeezing "the water from a stone." In a rock-throwing contest, Askeladden grabs a bird out of a nearby bush and gives it a hurl. He is also sometimes called Per Gynt and formed the basis for the Henrik Ibsen play by that same name.
  • The Jewish folk hero Herschel of Ostropol (who was a real person, but probably didn't do all the things he's remembered for) is famous for getting out of trouble with his quick wits, fooling rich men, bandits, gentiles, and even goblins, angels, and demons in some stories.
  • The Brave Little Tailor is about a character who, having been Mistaken for Badass, resolves the quests and other challenges he encounters with cunning: killing two giants by tricking them into fighting each other, catching a unicorn by baiting it into charging into a tree, and scaring away assassins by pretending to be asleep and still aware of them, to name a few options.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin is a roguish street rat who gets by via theft and charm and uses cunning and trickery to best most conflicts — but we never doubt he's the good guy.
  • A Bug's Life: Flik comes up with the plan to scare the grasshoppers away with a fake bird. In the climax, he gets Hopper killed by luring him to the nest of a real bird.
  • Danny from Cats Don't Dance is a lot smarter than he appears to be for a Naïve Newcomer. He manages to first successfully not only remind all of the animals of their dreams but make them a reality as well, and then he manages to fight off a dreaded butler, and finally turns the tables on Darla by using her egotism and cheating tendencies to push himself and his friends to stardom and get Darla herself fired. All by using trickery, cleverness, and charm.
  • Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon could be the flag bearer of this trope. The whole point of his character is that he contrasts the other, burly Vikings by his brains and lack of brawn. He demonstrates this by making a snare-throwing device to compensate for his lack of physical prowess, observation skills in noting how the dragon he downs acts and slowly develops a relationship with the powerful dragon, develops an artificial tailfin for the dragon to allow him to fly once again, and trying to end the hatred his people have for dragons by finding the root cause of their raids on the island. After a large setback, he exclaims to Astrid, who is the strongest and smartest of his classmates, and who didn't even give him the time of day before:
    Hiccup: Three hundred years and I'm the first Viking who wouldn't kill a dragon.
    Astrid: ...First to ride one, though.
  • Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas uses her brain to get out of tight spots. Justified as being a rag doll doesn't lend you much strength. She uses her ability to pull herself together to escape her tower room from her creator by falling out and then reattaching her body. She manipulates her creator many times to escape by drugging him, even once when he rightfully suspects she placed something in his soup and he insists she try it first. She "accidentally" drops the spoon and takes a hidden one with slots in it from her sock to "drink" it. She trusts her gut in realizing that Jack's attempt to take over Christmas will end badly. And in the lead up to the climax, uses her separating body parts to both distract Oogie Boogie by showing some leg from a vent and her hands descend to untie Santa Claus. It was only because Oogie realized it was a trick and overpowered her did she fail.
  • In Turning Red, Mei comes up with a plan to raise $800 in a month using her panda form with the help of her friends which involves successfully fooling her mother into thinking she is spending time on an after school activity her mother approves of, making efficient use of limited communications technology and having contingency plans for scenarios such as her mother dropping by unannounced.
  • Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Zootopia both get through problems primarily by being smart and fast-thinkers. Nick is arguably the more clever one, having grown up on the streets as a con artist, but Judy is no slouch herself (and makes up the difference with her police training).
    • In his introduction, Nick shows his commerce skills by buying one jumbo pop ice cream, which is larger than his whole body, melting it, using his-size Popsicle sticks to create dozens of tiny Popsicles, selling them to some lemmings, reselling the now discarded red wood to a mouse construction unit. With the costs of $20-$30 from the popsicle, smaller sticks, and gas, he nets over $300 on a single day. And he does it daily.
    • During her training, Judy discovered the harsh landscapes and buildings designed for larger animals make things like climbing a wall that is over 10 times her height impossible. However, she realizes her natural agility allows her to climb the wall by using other cadets as platforms to jump off of. Her instructor is very impressed, and by doing other similar tactics Judy graduates at the top of her class. She later blackmails Nick into helping her by noting with all that money he makes, he doesn't file any taxes on his income and records the whole conversation. Nick's partner laughs his tail off and agrees she schooled Nick well.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Queen Esther from The Bible managed to save thousands of innocent Jews from being slain by a Smug Snake's orders almost singlehandedly, using her incredible beauty, her charm, her quick wits, her Plucky Girl nature, and her uncle Mordecai's wise counseling to work her way into King Xerxes's favor.
    • Same goes for Ruth the Moabite (an expatriate who was determined to not fall into misery after losing her husband, ending up as the grandmother of King David and one of Jesus's ancestors), Abigail (one of David's followers who mediated between the King and her Jerkass first husband rather skillfully and later was one of David's wives), Judith the widow (who used her good looks to trick Holophernes and kill him) and Judge Deborah (a Lady of War and one of the Judges of Israel).
    • Also, Jael, a Guile Heroine from Deborah's story lures an enemy general into her tent, lulls him to sleep, and stabs him in the head with a tent peg. Specially noticeable in that this is one of the few times when breaking Sacred Hospitality is presented as the heroic thing to do; the guy was THAT dangerous.
    • Jacob straddles the line between this and Magnificent Bastard. While he is generally considered a good guy and the father of the Hebrew people, he was also a crafty con man who managed to trick his eldest brother Esau out of his birthright and father's blessing, and after that went sour, he and his uncle Laban took turns conning each other, with Jacob coming out ahead in the end.
      • His mother Rebekah was one of his biggest supporters and the one who encouraged him to go forward, so she qualifies as well.
    • Several Jewish prophets were like this, especially Elisha and Daniel. Daniel, interestingly, is also a Science Hero, considering the manner in which he manages to persuade the king to cut down on feasting…
    • Jesus. True, he was a Messianic Archetype, but He was also a master at outsmarting the Pharisees — often using their own words against them. One example is the famous "cast the first stone" story; He saves a woman by putting her prosecutors in a double bind.note  Notably, He doesn't tend to use overt displays of power all that much, using mostly His wits to solve problems and saving His Reality Warper abilities for the occasional miracle.
  • Common in Celtic Mythology — the Celts considered defeating your enemies through trickery just as noble and praiseworthy as fighting them directly, with truly great warriors being capable of both.
  • Odysseus must surely be the patron saint of the Guile Hero. In an age when most Greek heroes were part-divine, unstoppable, ass-kicking badasses, along comes Odysseus, whose greatest weapon is his mind, officially making this trope Older Than Feudalism. Having the blood of Hermes, the Greek Pantheon's trickster god, makes him even better.
    • Being a personal favorite of Athena, the goddess of guile heroines, didn't hurt either.
  • Hercules was the World's Strongest Man, but he wasn't Dumb Muscle. His Super Strength alone wasn't enough for several of his Labors, so he had to use his brain alongside it. When he found out that the Nemean Lion's hide was impervious to weapons, he strangled it with his bare hands. To fight the Hydra, which could grow its heads back, either he or his friend Iolaus seared the stumps with a torch right after cutting them (though relying on Iolaus rendered this Labour invalid since he was supposed to do them alone). To clean up the enormous and never-cleaned Aegean Stables, he used his strength to alter the course of two nearby rivers and make them pass through (though this was also rendered invalid — see below).
    • He was also great Indy Ploys. Having been poisoned via wearing a cape doused in the blood of a Centaur that he killed with poison arrows, Hercules was headed to a Cruel and Unusual Death — but then he asked his people to burn him alive in his own funerary pyre, knowing that it would hurt even more for a while but betting that his father Zeus would see it and make him ascend to the Olympus ASAP. He was right.
      • A little explanation on the Augean Stables example above. Hercules was ordered by the Gods to serve his jealous cousin Eurystheus. Eurystheus, already having failed to kill him decided to humiliate him instead and ordered him to clean the Augean Stables. King Augeas had not cleaned them in 30 years. Hercules first surveys the area and notices the two rivers. He then went to King Augeas promising to clean the stables in a day, if Augeas would give him a tenth of his cattle. Augeas thinking that it was impossible and that he'd be getting a free days labor out of him agreed. Hercules brings his own sons in to watch Augeas swear an oath and then diverts to rivers to pass through the stables. Cleaning them out. Augeas is forced to give up his cattle. Hercules walks away not getting his hands dirty, rich, and having played two kings. However, this backfired on Hercules. Whether it was because the rivers (and by extension their river gods) technically did the work or because Hercules took payment from Augeas for the deed, this Labour was considered invalid. This is why Hercules ended up doing Twelve Labours instead of just ten.
  • Krishna in the Mahabharata. Helped by the fact that a.) He is a god; and b.) He is a moderately cunning fellow surrounded by a cast of characters that live and breathe Honor Before Reason.
  • Loki, before his Face–Heel Turn, was the cunning trickster to Thor's Action Hero.

    Podcasts 

    Puppet Shows 
  • Kingdom Adventure: Minstrel Vibes is very good at making up lies on the fly and getting Magistrate Pitts and his guards to believe what he wants them to believe. Justified in that he knows Pitts and the guards well, having worked for or with them in the castle for some time, so he knows how to use their flaws and expectations to his advantage, and has gotten the heroes out of a jam more than once with his ability to trick them.
  • Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: Team Tiger has Chi Lu-Jen, who goes around researching the past of the mysterious Ku Yeh to try and get him on Team Tiger, and generally matching wits with the Emperor and Tai Huang-chun.
    • Su Hua-chen also fits, being able to outmaneuver Tai Huang-chun and Vermillion Lady.

    Theater 
  • Like in Real Life, Benjamin Franklin in 1776 is a master at playing other delegates at the Continental Congress to achieve independence for the nascent United States. For instance, early on he and John Adams agree that Richard Henry Lee should be the one to propose independence from Great Britain to the Congress as Adams' negative reputation would drag the idea down if Adams brought it up, but they don't want to owe the bombastic Virginian a favor by directly asking him. So Franklin has an idle talk with Lee and brings up the idea of independence itself, lamenting that if only there were someone who could bring up such an idea to the Congress...Lee then has a brilliant idea — he could do it! He then enthusiastically marches off to do so, nonethewiser that Franklin did that on purpose and to Adams' astonishment.
  • Ulysses in The Golden Apple, "smarter than Nick Carter" by reputation, develops a cunning Divide and Conquer plan to take Rhododendron after a straightforward assault fails.
  • Sophocles treats Odysseus, the quintessential Guile Hero, quite differently between his plays Ajax and Philoctetes. In the first Odysseus prefers compromise rather than pride, and argues for the burial rites of his worst enemy. In the second he encourages the mostly honest Neoptolemus to lie to the long-suffering Philoctetes to persuade him to come to Troy, despite the severe injustice Odysseus had done against him in the first place.

    Web Animation 
  • Wrip the rabbit-spirit in No Evil is, in her own words, "only good at getting people to do things". However, she's really good at getting people to do things, especially when using her disguise magic. In Little Bunny Foo Foo, she and Calamity are caught spying on the McCoy food thieves; it takes her two sentences to convince them that she's there to help, at which point she lures them into a trap.
  • Plan 3: In The Chinese Food Curse, when Stephen is told he must battle the Fate Lord in a battle to the death to finally lift his curse of bad luck, he realizes he can weaponize it and hugs the Fate Lord so that both of them get hit by the random lightning strikes that had been plaguing Stephen throughout the episode.
  • Agent Washington in Red vs. Blue. Church often attempts to be one but fails more often than not.
  • RWBY:
    • Though he was once The Idealist, Ozpin demonstrates in his position as headmaster of Beacon Academy that physical strength isn't the only way to fight on Remnant. He keeps a close eye on the titular team during their various vigilante acts, even directly bending the rules for them when they want to investigate Mountain Glenn. His colleague and friend, General Ironwood, prefers to confront any problem with overwhelming military might, but Ozpin advises him to take a more subtle, cautious approach. As a matter of fact, Oz has set up a great deal of precautions across Remnant to battle Salem: founding the Huntsman academies and hiding a Relic in a secret vault within each school so they're constantly guarded by veteran warriors and can only be accessed by specific Maidens. Professor Lionheart can't simply hand over Haven's Relic when he defects to Salem, and extra protections for the Relic of Choice means that Salem can't retrieve Beacon's Relic even when she takes control of both the school and relevant Maiden. Oz has also embedded members of his Benevolent Conspiracy in kingdom power structures so that he still has powerful allies whenever he reincarnates and gave Qrow orders to recover his cane should he die so his next host can retrieve it; this enables Oz to return to fight as Oscar much faster than anyone expected. Upon his death and reincarnation into Oscar, Ozpin meets up with Qrow and Team RNJR in Mistral, where Leonardo Lionheart is acting very suspiciously. Oz instructs the others not to let the headmaster know about his current situation until they've learned more. Leo's therefore caught off guard when Oscar challenges him with Ozpin's cane. Then again, this rather manipulative side, as well as his secretive nature, does cost Ozpin his allies' trust more than once. Oz himself is not proud of some of his actions and eventually has to admit that for all his planning, he still doesn't know how to stop Salem for good.
    • Oscar may not be happy with how he has to join the battle against Salem, but develops quickly in more than just combat prowess. After only a few minutes of flying in the airship Maria stole, he manages to figure out the weak point behind Cordovin's Mini-Mecha. He almost singlehandedly convinces Ironwood to widen his circle of trust, which rallies Atlas' collective defenders to save Mantle from a Grimm attack together, at least for a brief time. Even after the Hound brings him to Salem, Oscar doesn't give her the information she demands but works in tandem with Ozpin to appeal to Hazel's more noble qualities. When he's sufficiently wary, Oscar explains how the Lamp of Knowledge functions and that it will answer one more question, emphasizing he's giving Hazel the answer, not Salem. That way, Hazel has a chance to find out the truth for himself.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: Mario is far, far stupider in here than in the games, but a great deal of his victories come from his ability to use the environment or even his own stupidity to his advantage.

    Web Original 
  • Dream manipulates the hunters in his Minecraft Manhunt videos so that he has the advantage.
  • Ayla "Phase" Goodkind of the Whateley Universe. He is genuinely concerned for people and sincerely wants to help them, and at need is ready to fight toe-to-toe with demons, monsters, and supervillains, but Phase is at heart a Chessmaster whose preferred realm is espionage, trickery, manipulation, bribery, and financial pressure. As a friend puts it: "No one else quite has that when I rule the world I will not permit such behavior attitude".

    Web Videos 
  • Dimension 20: Due to the format of most TTRPG campaigns, the heroes are usually severely outnumbered and/or less powerful than their enemies, which means that in order to win, they will have to resort to trickery and outsmarting their opponents.
    • After she comes into her own, Adaine Abernant proves to be a great strategist. Her ability to cast really useful spells at the right opportunity and her brilliant use of portents throughout the series has saved her party members or turned the tide of the fight multiple times. Her intelligence also means she's very good during investigation segments for putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
    • Riz Gukgak has an affinity for riddles and conspiracies, which comes in handy when the 2 campaigns have heavy mystery elements, has the best track record for solving mysteries of the party, and is learned and diligent. He's also very clever when fighting, a requirement to be an efficient rogue.
    • Fig Faeth is the most creative fighter of the party, bending the rules of her spells to their limits in order to accomplish what she wants them to do. She's also The Social Expert and The Face of the party and uses these skills to advance the cases they're on, being very good at pretending other people, with a strong Deception bonus and clever usage of the spell Disguise Self.
    • Galfast Hamhead, despite being no slouch in combat, proves to be incredibly effective at escaping and outmanoeuvering the Lieutenants with cunning and sneaking. Her escape is an especially good example, as she tricks Avanash into releasing her and destroying the only mean to forge another crown, hides on the Siren, knowing they'll have expected her to go directly to her home, out-gambits Markus by being more persuasive than him, and once the goblin flying balloon can't fly anymore, parachutes across Gogmar, letting her enemies die from the thousand feet fall. There's a reason Brennan compares her to Bugs Bunny.
    • Lapin Cadbury distinguishes himself from the rest of the cast very early on by navigating the political minefield that is Calorum with finesse. His plans have saved the life of his king, Amethar, more than once, and even took out the villains' biggest edge against the Candians, the Water steel weapons, in one fell swoop.
    • Buckster Boyd is an excellent manipulator and uses his gifts in the ways of charm and insight to help the case and suss out information from the witnesses, either by reading them or convincing them.
  • Legendy Polskie have Twardowski, who outsmarts the devil. More than once.
  • Spoony highly recommends playing Bards and Thieves in this manner on Counter Monkey, suggesting dirty tricks such as running past guards wearing nothing but a feathered boa, using makeup to fake wounds and reporting a false assault to send guards on a wild goose chase, or simply knocking on locked doors and punching whoever opens them.

    Real Life 
  • Benjamin Franklin. Few people would say that The American Revolution could have been won without his contributions, and he never lifted a gun. His weapons were words. He was occasionally also a Science Hero. For one example, some of his (completely false) "Poor Richard's Almanac" stories presented greedy British officers profiting off of Hessian mercenary deaths; predictably, desertions abounded.
  • George Washington, believe it or not. General Washington was only a so-so general but a crackerjack counterintelligence expert, and used his well-known image as a bluff, honest Virginia farmer-statesman to deceive, trick, and otherwise subvert the British intelligence throughout the Revolutionary War.
  • Harriet Tubman could take dares with an audacity that rivaled Robert E. Lee. For instance, on one mission, she was at a train station with her charges and spotted slave catchers watching the northbound trains for escaped slaves. Thinking fast, Tubman had her company board a southbound train and cannily retreated into enemy territory where they could use a safer station.
    • In another case, she noticed a group of men looking at a "Wanted!" Poster of her, one of them reading the text out loud to the others. The description mentioned her illiteracy, so she grabbed a book and pretended to read, which kept them from spotting her.
  • Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani boy who escaped indentured servitude at the age of 10 (twice)… who then turned back around to help other children in similar conditions by infiltrating the factories, using his "psychological dwarfism" (4'0" and 60 lbs at 10 years old) to his advantage. This helped the Bonded Labor Liberation Front free 3,000 children from those conditions in just 2 years. Unfortunately, this painted a big glowing target on him for the factory owners (he cost them roughly $200,000,000 in exports), and he was killed with a shotgun at the age of 13.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, was the Guile Hero to Mahatma Gandhi's Badass Pacifist. Gandhi himself, too: he fought against the British rule in India through totally nonviolent means. Whenever he and his protestors would march, he called up the local media so that when the rest of the world looked at the news and saw the British beating on unarmed protestors who refused to fight back, they got painted as the bad guys. You know you qualify as a Guile Hero when you can show up to every battle unarmed and still win the war.
  • Josip Broz Tito, The Leader of the Yugoslav partisans in World War II. One of his ruses involved blowing up the bridge over the river Neretva to make it look like his troops would go elsewhere, but then crossing the river using an improvised bridge. At the beginning of the Cold War he broke off relations with the communist East Bloc but also refused to join NATO. Instead, he became one of the most prominent members of the Non-Aligned Movement. He also single-handedly held the disparate and not particularly friendly ethnic groups of Yugoslavia together for nearly forty years, and somehow managed to be a beloved leader to nearly all of them. When Tito died, it quickly became clear that nobody else was up to that job, and it took barely more than a decade for the ethnic tensions to rise to the point of civil war that broke Yugoslavia into 7 smaller nations.
  • King Juan Carlos I of Spain. When Francisco Franco agreed to change Spain from a different kind of dictatorship to an absolute monarchy, he started trying to groom the "Prince of Spain", Juan Carlos of the Borbón House, into a good successor who'd maintain the authoritarian state. The prince went along with this, publicly supporting Franco, enduring harsh criticism from reformists and moderates all over… until Franco fell gravely ill in 1975 and handed him absolute authority as King. Only a couple of days after Franco's death, Juan Carlos began to institute reforms at an incredible pace, turning Spain from western Europe's strictest dictatorship into a functional parliamentary democracy in less than three years. Heck, he even refused to take power after the military executed a coup so he could be returned to full authority, single-handedly saving a struggling democracy, and renounced almost all of the ancestral powers he once wielded.
  • Juan Pujol Garcia. After being turned down as an intelligence agent by the British, he decided to do the job without any government backing, getting himself hired as a Nazi spy, and creating an entire army of fictional employees to feed false information back to his boss. Eventually he went to the British again, who quickly hired him after seeing what he was capable of on his own, and became even more effective.
  • Mentioned in the Films section, but worth elaboration: Oskar Schindler, generally considered to be an opportunist turned Atoner. As written in Wikipedia:
    He was a very persuasive individual, and after the raid, increasingly used all of his skills to protect his Schindlerjuden ("Schindler's Jews"), as they came to be called. Schindler went out of his way to take care of the Jews who worked at DEF, often calling on his legendary charm and ingratiating manner to help his workers get out of difficult situations. Once, says author Eric Silver in The Book of the Just, "Two Gestapo men came to his office and demanded that he hand over a family of five who had bought forged Polish identity papers. 'Three hours after they walked in,' Schindler said, 'two drunk Gestapo men reeled out of my office without their prisoners and without the incriminating documents they had demanded.'"
    • A lot of the people Schindler rescued had stories to tell about him, including this one from Helen Hirsch, notorious Nazi Amon Goeth's Jewish maid: one night, while playing cards with Goeth, Schindler plied him with plenty of booze and got him very drunk, and persuaded him to gamble with Hirsch as a stake in the game. With — no doubt — a little help from the booze, Schindler stacked the deck and cheated outrageously to make sure he had the winning hand. Then, when Goeth tried to welch on his bet, Schindler said something like "Now, now, Goeth, you play fair!" and that's how he won her life in a card game.
  • Raoul Wallenberg has the record of lives saved… All through guile.
  • "By Strength and Guile" is the motto of the Royal Marines Special Boat Service. The similarly elite Long Range Desert Group of the British Army (serving as raiders, reconnaissance, and special forces in the North African theatre of World War II) used the similar Non Vi Sed Arte ("Not by Strength but by Guile." Both of these are slightly tongue-in-cheek references to the Latin motto of Clan Gordon, Animus non Astutia commonly translated as "By Courage, not Craft" or "By Strength, not Guile".
  • Italy has Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour and prime minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia while it was trying to unify Italy, with his guile single-handedly making it possible for the small kingdom to face the Austrian Empire (that had territories in Italy and exercised great influence on most of the pre-unitary states) and come out on top. His greatest hit was how he used the Expedition of the Thousand, which saw Garibaldi invade the Kingdom of Two Sicilies with a thousand men and conquer it all, to conquer most of the Papal States and justify the conquest by pointing at Garibaldi and claiming it was the only way to keep the Pope independent (for the time being, as the Italians would only accept Rome as the capital), something even Austria had to recognize was true.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Non Action Hero, Guile Heroine, Political Hero

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