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Guy in Back

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They may be called the Radar Intercept Officer ("Rio"), the Tail Gunner, the Navigator or the Weapons Systems Officer ("Whizzo"). However, they all do the same job, acting as a Mission Control in the back seat (or sometimes in the right hand side seat) of the Ace Pilot's own fighter or attack aircraft. They don't usually fly the aircraft (they're often not qualified to), but instead notify their boss of approaching fighters, surface-to-air missiles etc. Having an extra pair of eyes helps a lot. They also help in more technical matters such as attending to the vehicle's operational systems, freeing up the pilot to concentrate on piloting and combat.

Their position is useful for comedy, as they can throw up in particularly vicious maneuvers. It also allows for a major sense of danger they can be hit in a fight and create a time-sensitive element to the mission. The position is also useful in general for giving the pilot somebody to talk to without necessarily needing another plane nearby, similar to cop shows where two cops always ride in a car together (even though the vast majority of police forces don't have enough manpower to put two cops to each car). They can also highlight the drama of fight scenes when enemies approach, the back guy races through the craft's combat analysis computer to identity them and reacts with alarm as he realizes what they are taking on. The back guy can also be working the craft's operating maintenance systems to attempt to keep the craft operating even as the pilot is pushing the envelope trying to keep them from being shot down.

Not many contemporary real-world fighters or aircraft have these,note  but they were once common. The F-14 and F-4 are arguably the most famous examples, inspiring many others. Named after real military terminology, where the radar officer was called this or simply "GIB". The Ace Pilot would be the FUF, or "Fucker Up Front".

If an Ace Pilot doesn't have a Guy in Back with whom to exchange witty banter, the "sidekick" role will probably go to their Wingman, a fellow pilot in a supporting position. In Speculative Fiction, the role may be filled by a talkative computer, ranging from Robot Buddy ("Tracking multiple targets, bearing one-seven-five-mark-one-niner") to glorified warning light ("Altitude. Altitude. Altitude...") - though they have that one today.

Note that for many Attack Helicopters with tandem seating, the trope is inverted - the Guy In Back is actually the pilot, with the person up front responsible for manning the weapons. Not to be confused with Soldiers at the Rear; these guys may be in back of the plane, but they're still at the frontlines engaging in direct combat with the enemy.

Subtrope of Sidekick. Compare Target Spotter, which a few of these guys may be.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Simouns can only be piloted by two people: primary pilot Auriga and secondary pilot/navigator/gun controller Sagitta. The latter is basically the Guy in Back, except it's always a girl (as is the pilot in front).
  • Nojima is Kurushima's secondary pilot/navigator in Kurogane Pukapuka Tai.
  • Micky in Area 88 has a modified F-14A Tomcat. The RIO station is still there (the reporter joins him for one mission in the anime) but it isn't required, probably due to the fact he doesn't use the radar-guided AIM-54 Phoenix or AIM-7 Sparrow, so he flies solo.
    • Micky actually does fire and carry Sparrows in the 2003 series, so apparently his Tomcat has simply been modified to the point it no longer needs a RIO, possibly taking cues from the then-prototype single-seat F/A-18C or the in-service F-15C.
  • Fukai Rei from Sentou Yousei Yukikaze is an interesting case: In the first episode, both his RIOs wind up dead. In the second episode, using the newly-fielded FFR-44MR Mave, his RIO is, while qualified, is not a pilot in the strictest sense. In the third episode, his RIO is an engineer that he needs to ferry. In the fourth, it's his CO that's behind him. Finally, in the fifth one, he flies solo. Then again, through the series, he is more comfortable with the plane's AI than any RIO. The novel's translation changes the title from RIO to EWO (electronic warfare officer).
  • The Fatimas in The Five Star Stories are something between a Guy In Back and Wetware CPU, linking directly with the Humongous Mecha's computer systems to control most of its incredibly complex operations so the main pilot can focus on moving it around and using the weapons. They usually sit in a completely different cockpit, though, with the Fatima in the head and the "Headdliner" in the torso, though the really humongous Jagd Mirage mechs are equipped with a two-seater cockpit.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters, builder-pilot teams have the builder in back. We only see three pairs though (Sei and Reji, Allen and the Meijin, and the Rennato brothers.) How much they do varies from pair to pair. Allen hardly does anything (that we see), and half the time he isn't even there. The Rennato brothers had the GIB operate their independent weapons. Sei acts as a spotter, as well as handling the special systems.
  • Kind of zigzagged throughout Macross:
    • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the VF-1D is a two seat trainer (perfect for impromptu flying dates with idol singers).
    • In Macross 7, Ray's VF-17T has been modified to include a passenger seat for his co-pilot/drummer Veffidas.
    • In Macross Zero, the VF-0A and VF-0S (used by Roy) are single seat swing-wing fighters, while the VF-0D (used by Shinn) is a delta-wing tandem seater. The series also features your standard two-seat F-14.
    • In Macross Plus, while Isamu usually flies the YF-19 as a single seater, it does carry space in the cockpit for a RIO, which is where Jann tagged along (and the RIO can be ejected independently of the pilot).
    • In Macross Frontier, while the VF-25 is primarily a single-seater fighter, it's shown to have enough space in the cockpit for one passenger, and presumably can be configured for a RIO if need be.
    • In Macross Delta, the VF-31 is primarily used as a single-pilot fighter, but has a second seat anyways (useful for carrying the members of Walkure around).
  • The combined Vandread fighters, with the comedic/fanservice twist that they mostly lack second seats. When Hibiki's Vanguard merges with Meia's Dread, he becomes the "Guy In Lap". With Dita it's reversed. Jura remembers to bring a chair.
  • In Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, the Scarlet Twins's SU-37UB Terminator is specially set up so the two can work together, with Cryska being the "Chick in Back" for the smaller Inia.
    • Supplementary materials also note that the US Navy uses two-seat setups for the F-14s and F-18F Super Hornet.
  • Fana makes herself useful in this capacity in The Princess and the Pilot, despite being a noble with minimal training. Interestingly, it's the Ace Pilot who gets hurt.
  • In GunBuster, Kazumi serves as the GIB for Noriko in the titular mecha.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the titular mecha, which is created from Lagann fusing with Gurren. Early in the series, Simon functions as the GIB while Kamina does the heavy lifting; but as the series progresses, Simon becomes the main pilot, while the role of the GIB changes from time to time.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Steve Trevor crashes off the shore of the renamed Paradise Island in the Post-Crisis continuity, he is flying a plane with his tail gunner Slade, who was unfortunately targeted by Ares and ended up bursting into flame, which caused the crash.
  • In the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics, the ex-Imperial Ace Pilot Baron Soontir Fel goes with the rest of Rogue Squadron on a mission involving Y-Wings and chooses to act as a gunner, letting his old student Tycho actually fly the thing. He's absurdly good at flying Fragile Speedster craft, but he doesn't have the Universal Driver's License — he's not flight-qualified on Y-Wings.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Air Watch evolved from Feegle on tamed birds, adding flight-and- Magitek minded Witches as Air Policewomen, with Pegasus winged horses, and Lord Vetinari's underlying motive of wanting a combat-ready Air Force for when he needs it. Ongoing research and development has created flight vehicles which have the ordinary, everyday, witch's broomstick somewhere in their remote ancestry, in much the same way that a modern fighter jet is in line of descent from a WW1 biplane. The tale Bungle In The Jungle has a new two-seater attack broomstick, one which Sam Vimes has flatly said is not suitable for everyday police work, called the ME-110, with automated repeating crossbows mounted for and aft. Pilot-witch Irena Politek realises there's one part of the equation they haven't thought about at all; she considers the resources available to her, and quickly takes Assassin Jocasta Wiggs up as her Guy In The Back and air-gunner. (Once in the air, Jocasta is crapped on by passing seagulls.) Word of God is that the author is planning to expand on this idea for two-seater combat brooms - after all, only the pilot needs to be a flying Witch with magical talent. Aircrew selection calls for different skills.
    • In the Christmas-themed short Negligient Discharge, Lieutenant Irena Politek, against her better judgement, is forced to take Corporal Nobby Nobbs into the air as her Guy in the Back. The only available air vehicle has repeating crossbows fitted fore and aft. Nobby gets hold of ammunition.note  Nobby then loses control of a powerful repeating weapon and shoots the bristles off the back of Irena's broomstick. Sam Vimes notes later that shooting down Irena Politek must qualify him as an Ace, or something.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Midway (2019) has the rear gunners and radio operators in the SBD Dauntless and TBD Devastator bombers. Of particular note is Bruno Gaido, who saves the USS Enterprise early in the film by hopping into the gunner's seat of a parked SBD Dauntless and using the twin machine guns to down an incoming Japanese bomber intent on a Suicide Attack.
  • "Goose" from Top Gun is a famous example, being killed when he hits the canopy while ejecting.
  • Top Gun: Maverick reveals that among other shenanigans, "Maverick" was busted for taking his ultimate love interest Penny Benjamin joyriding.... in the back of an F-18 fighter jet. More than once. The film ends with him taking her flying again, this time in his own personal vintage P-51 Mustang.
  • Star Wars:
    • When Luke flies an X-Wing, R2-D2 is the Guy in Back (and in A New Hope performs the traditional GIB function of getting injured to increase the drama). In the prequels, Obi-Wan Kenobi also has an R2 droid as his GIB. In fact, the design of the X-Wing starfighter, with the R2 units poking out of the top behind the cockpit, was meant to invoke the image of bombers with gun turrets (compare an X-Wing to a Grumman Avenger or a Boulton-Paul Defiant).
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, the snowspeeder's gunner is in the back. Luke Skywalker's gunner Dack Ralter is killed early on during the Battle of Hoth, meaning all Luke can now do is fly around and give the Imperial Walkers something else to shoot at. Eventually Luke is also shot down, but he lives. Wedge Antilles' gunner is Wes Janson, other mentioned pilots are Hobbie and Zev, but their gunners are unnamed.
    • In Revenge of the Sith, the ARC-170 reconnaissance fighters featured in the opening battle feature two Guys In Back. One co-pilot, and a rear-facing tail gunner (three if you count the R2 unit). This is in part because it was based on the P-61 Black Widow night fighter, which had a pilot, a radar operator and a tail gunner.
    • In The Force Awakens, Finn flies second seat for Poe Dameron in a two-man TIE variant when they escape Kylo Ren's flagship early in the movie. Finn's job is apparently tailgunner. Also BB-8 goes into the usual Astromech socket in Poe's X-wing. And unlike R2 and Obi-Wan's droid he manges not to get damaged or destroyed.
  • The main motivation for the lead character of Flight of the Intruder is the senseless death of his Guy in Back as a result of a spectacularly lucky shot from a peasant with a rifle. The rest of the movie follows his exploits with his new GIB, played by Willem Dafoe's Porn Stache.
  • In Behind Enemy Lines it's the Weapons Systems Officer played by Owen Wilson, not the pilot, who is the hero, by virtue of not injuring his leg upon landing and thus escaping execution.
  • The Last Starfighter's gunstar is set up like an attack helicopter, with Grig (in back) as the navigator and pilot, responsible for navigation and technical matters, while Alex (in the front seat) serves as the ship's gunner.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe Iron Man films have JARVIS taking this role to Tony Stark. This falls under the Speculative Fiction "talking computer" sub-category, what with JARVIS being an Artificial Intelligence and Stark piloting a suit of flying Power Armor rather than a plane. Other than that, they play this trope like any other, with JARVIS serving as something of a flight technician and navigator, responding to Stark's instructions, and even taking control of the armor as a backup pilot if need be.
  • In Blue Thunder Roy Scheider's rear-seat guy in the eponymous super-copter is nicknamed "Jafo" for "Just A Fuckin' Observer." The nickname becomes a plot point later in the film.
  • In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard and Data steal a Scorpion-class fighter to escape from Shinzon's warship. Picard flies while Data shoots.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and his dad steal a German fighter from a zeppelin. Indy flies while his dad shoots at their attackers—and accidentally shoots off their own tail.
    Indy: Dad! Were we hit?
    Henry, Sr.: More or less. Son, I'm sorry. They got us.

  • In one of the Tom Clancy franchise Op-Center novels, a female RIO is killed by enemy fire during a recce flight.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, a trigger-happy Soviet pilot fires a missile at Robby Jackson's F-14, severely damaging the aircraft and badly injuring his RIO, which ultimately requires major surgery to fix.
  • In the Wing Commander novel End Run, the death of a turret gunner in a damaged bomber that Kevin "Lonewolf" Tolwyn (nephew of the admiral) was supposed to escort back to the Tarawa was a significant contributor to Tolwyn's Character Development from a wild hotshot to a reliable "team player".
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, Wes Janson was Wedge Antilles' gunner. The EU, particularly the X-Wing Series, reveals that he's a ridiculously capable pilot himself, if not quite in Wedge's league (then again, few are). Evidently he's a career fighter pilot, with "gunner" being a secondary specialization.
    • Speaking of X-Wings, astromech droids like the R2 and R5 series serve as GIBs for snubfighter pilots. The droids can perform Midair Repairs on their fighters, calculate hyperspace jumps or intercept vectors, or assist their pilots with targeting. How closely pilots bond with their assigned droids varies greatly, depending on whether the pilot considers them Just a Machine - Corran Horn views his R2 unit Whistler as an honorary family member, while Wedge Antilles once told his R5 unit that if nothing else, its taller profile might catch a laser bolt that would otherwise hit the back of Wedge's cockpit.
    • Y-Wings came in variants, one with a gunner in back and one with a single pilot/gunner.
    • In the New Jedi Order, Danni Quee takes up this position for Wild One, Jedi Knight Saba Sebatyne's personal ship. She serves as the Blue Oni to Saba and helps counterbalance her Attack! Attack! Attack! nature, while also serving as techie, sounding board, and occasional improv therapist. Curiously, they manage to have this dynamic even though Wild One is a Skipray gunship, not a fighter. (It has at least four crew: Saba commanding and handling weapons, Danni on comms, shields, and Everything Sensors, a pilot, and at least one turret gunner.)
    • The technical books speak of a B-Wing variant that has a Guy in Back. There's also the two-man K-Wing heavy bomber that debuted in Black Fleet Crisis, although the final designnote  made it more of a Guy to the Side.
  • The book and movie Flight of the Intruder have a Guy On The Right instead (given that A-6 Intruder cockpits are configured with the pilot and bombardier/navigator sitting next to each other).
  • In Dale Brown works, this is realistic. All aircraft with multiple crew members are depicted as such as they would be in Real Life.
  • In the WW1 air combat novels of Derek Robinson, the roles are reversed as the pilot sits behind the air gunner in the barely airworthy FE biplane. In the novel War Story, the "man in front" is navigator and air gunner Paxman, a newbie to the squadron who is paired with an Australian pilot who delights in pricking the new boy's pomposity and pretentions. The two don't so much exchange banter as punches in mid-air, such is their mutual animosity.
  • The Four Horsemen Universe: Tortantula mercs often partner up with Flatar mercs, presenting the amusing image of a Giant Spider with a one-foot chipmunk riding on its back in a saddle. Not so amusing when you're on the receiving end of the Flatar's guns. Out of combat, the Flatar often helps the Literal-Minded Tortantula navigate social interactions with species that can lie and speak metaphorically.
  • The Two-Headed Eagle by John Biggins. On the Austrian/Italian front during World War One, The Neidermeyer in charge of Otto Prohaska's air unit insists that Otto—as an officer—give the orders from the observer's position while the sergeant pilot's only role is Blind Obedience. As the pilot is a Hungarian who can barely understand Otto's language, this is a problem (at one point Otto is passing him notes written in Latin). After the pilot escapes from a spin (regarded as certain death at the time) using a technique he developed himself, and later forces an enemy plane to crash itself, Otto realises his pilot is a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass and (through an interpreter) they make an agreement that Otto will leave the flying entirely to him from now on.
  • In The Warbirds by Richard Herman Jr., main character Jack Locke flies an F-4 Phantom, a plane that has a "Weapons Systems Operator" or "wizzo" in the back seat and is used primarily for ground attack. An F-15 Eagle pilot note  tries to score snark points by commenting that "fighter aircraft don't need a backseater." Locke counters with the observation that he and his wizzo have one air-to-air kill while the F-15 driver has zero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Airwolf this is Dom's usual job, handling the computers and monitoring systems (the eponymous helicopter could be flown solo if needed), although Caitlin and Archangel also did it on occasions.
  • In the original Battlestar Galactica, the Cylon fighters had two occupants seated side by side with a third in the back (which can be seen as a throwback in the new series during the "Razor" special).
  • The new series of Battlestar Galactica has Raptors, with a crew of one pilot and one Electronic Countermeasures Officer. However, the ECOs are also trained as pilots, and frequently take on this role as a result of the military's somewhat severe crew shortage. During the third season losses during the New Caprica arc mean there's now more crew than vehicles. Racetrack volunteers to go back to being ECO for Athena as the alternative is sitting around in the mess with nothing to do.
  • JAG: Whenever Harmon Rabb flies in an F-14 Tomcat he has a RIO. Elizabeth "Skates" Hawkes usually filled the role, though there were one-offs (either a dead pilot's RIO or someone else involved in the case). In the pilot, Harm himself was the GIB and had to take over when the pilot (the ship's CAG) was injured.
  • NCIS: Season 1, Episode 5 "The Curse", doesn't have a actual GIB, but mentions the term in this memorable quote:
    Todd: RIO?
    DiNozzo: Radar Intercept Officer. Also called a GIB, one B, short for Guy in Back.
    Todd: (turns to Gibbs) Why do you need two B's?
    Gibbs: (deadpan) Second one's for "bastard."
  • From Stargate SG-1, the X-302/F-302 fighter-interceptors, as well as their short-lived predecessor the X-301, and the Goa'uld Death Gliders they're based on, have one of these. Occasionally plot-relevant, though mostly for the sake of getting two main characters into trouble at one time. In what may be an homage to the Star Wars example above, it is revealed in Colonel Mitchell's first appearance that his copilot was injured by enemy fire when they were flying in the battle above Antarctica shortly before they crashed. Mitchell survived (barely), but his copilot was killed.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Emmet is the Emergency Tactical Hologram on La Sirena, and when the ship is involved in a Space Battle, he summarizes his job as "You fly, I'll shoot."
  • Ryu had this position in the Gun-Crusader in Ultraman Mebius, but usually sits in front in the Gun-Winger. Marina and George usually have the position here, using their superior hearing and sight (respectively) to help them watch out for a Kaiju's attacks.

  • BIONICLE: In the first Mata Nui Online Game, you play as a Second for a Kewa (really big bird) pilot during the Le-Koro level. Your job is to shoot down enemy Nui-Rama (giant flies).

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 'Warhammer 40,000 and the spin-off air combat game Aeronautica Imperialis'', several planes have guys in back.
    • The Eldar Phoenix bomber and Vampire-series aircraft both have copilots, in the latter case with a rear-facing cockpit.
    • The Ork Fighta-Bommer has a rear-facing gun turret, as do all Bommer variants.
    • The Imperial Marauder bomber (in the standard variant) a navigator/co-pilot, bombardier and nose, tail and dorsal gunners.
    • The Imperial Valkyrie and its derivatives all have two cockpits, in an attempt to imitate real attack helicopters, along with a pair of door gunners for the troop transport model.
  • BattleTech
    • The game normally uses lone pilots for the signature BattleMechs, but heavy or assault class mechs such as the Atlas can be fitted with a secondary seat for a radio operator or command functionality. The advanced Cockpit Command Console was favored by many Front Line Generals, but soon became Lost Technology during the Succession Wars as mechs equipped with them were usually targeted first.
    • There is also a slightly more common variant called the Dual Cockpit or Tandem Cockpit configuration, which is closer to this trope: two Mechwarriors occupy the expanded cockpit, where one is primarily focused on piloting and the other on gunnery. Together, they provide superior team performance, being able to hit targets more accurately and control the machine more efficiently. One pilot can also take over in the case that their partner is incapacitated or killed, but this reduces the machine's efficiency down below that of a normal single-pilot 'Mech.

    Video Games 
  • Several Ace Combat aircraft have obvious RIO's, including the Tomcat, Phantom and Tornado. However, the RIOs on all sides are never mentionned and everybody acts as if they're not here despite plane models clearly showing two (or four, in the case of the EA-6B) people inside; something especially jarring as two of the games have two-seaters as their star plane (the F-14A and F-15E). Some cases like Bartlett (F-4G) and Mihaly (Su-30SM) are justified; the former mostly flies as instructor during training exercices and thus doesn't need to fly at full potential, the latter doesn't even need one to fly at full potential and so has his RIO replaced by flight data recording equipment for Erusea's drone AI.
  • Flying any aircraft in Heroes of the Pacific that has 2 or more crew (Dauntless, Avenger, and Mitchell bombers) will give you a gunner who tries to call out useful information ('Bandits 3 o'clock', 'Taking serious damage') but sometimes is simply annoying (when pulling a hard turn, 'Jesus, go easy!')
    • The much older game "Aces of the Pacific" gave you a tail gunner (in the appropriate aircraft) who would give similar information. If someone got behind you, you'd hear his gun go off. Very, very rarely you would hear him say "I just shot down a fighter!"
  • You can hop into the back seat in many aircraft in the Battlefield games.
    • Battlefield 3 has one specific application in the "Going Hunting" campaign mission, where you play as the weapon systems officer of an F/A-18F Super Hornet and shoot down enemy planes while an NPC does the actual flying.
  • Land of War - The Beginning sees the protagonist, Kowalski, fullfiling this role in every vehicle-based mission, either manning the heavy machine-gun mounted behind the truck during a Car Chase Shoot-Out or being the rear gunner in an aerial combat mission.
  • Some vehicles in Star Wars: Battlefront have a secondary gunner of some sort, but the best fit is probably the tail gunner in the Y-wing.
  • In the "Black Cats" level of Call of Duty: World at War, the PBY Catalina "Mantaray" has Locke (the Player Character), Laughlin, and Landry, who are the gunners and Communications Officer, respectively.
  • Starlancer, the predecessor to Freelancer (yes, there was one) had a recurring copilot who acted as Exposition Fairy and behaved much like the Heroes Of The Pacific example above. More helpful and less annoying than he sounds.
  • As in real life, the F-14 in Digital Combat Simulator comes with a WSO who can call out the positions of enemy aircraft and missile launches as long as he can see them.
  • Technically, the option exists for any craft in the Wing Commander series with a rear turret to have a gunner, but for the most part they go unnamed. The games allow you to switch to that turret, but while doing so you can't control the rest of the ship.
    • In Wing Commander IV, Pliers notes that Blair will have to use an inferior auto-gunner in his craft, as the Intrepid doesn't have a person to spare for the duty.
  • Yisha Tarren in X: Rebirth acts as the Albion Skunk's mission control in the co-pilot seat. She assigns targets to destroy on capital ships your Boarding Party is attacking, informs of ship reactors Going Critical, and gives you status updates on your squadron.
  • Battle Clash has the Falcon, a Humongous Mecha that is operated by a crew of two. The player operates the weapon systems while their co-pilot, Michael Anderson, maneuvers the machine.
  • Galaxy Angel: In Moonlit Lovers, Tact becomes the guy in back for his chosen Angel when she pilots Unit #7, which unlike the rest of the Emblem frames requires two people: one pilot and one supporter. Interestingly, his only role is to just be there to bring the pilot's condition to its peak in order to power-up the HALO system beyond normal limits to charge both the Chrono Break Cannon and the Negative Field Nullifier.
  • Project Wingman has Prez, Monarch's WSO for whenever he flies a plane that requires one. She is noted to be the only person capable of keeping up with Monarch's piloting as a WSO. Unlike Monarch, who is a Heroic Mime, she is fairly chatty, both talking with your wingmen and AWACS at the start of each mission, and relaying information to you, such as telling you if you're locked on, announcing weapon launches, and warning you if an enemy plane or missile is on you.
  • Red Alert 3: The copilot of the Soviet Twinblade helicopter is a Political Officer who delivers all his lines with appropriately sinister relish (in the lore, they were first employed to shoot down deserters).
    Yessss, let's look over there...
    This insolence will be noted!
    We're make an example of that one!
  • Some aircraft in Crimson Skies have rear turrets, such as the ridiculously large one on the Brigand. Occasionally someone sitting in it actually gets dialogue, most notably in one mission in High Road to Revenge where Nathan Zachary and Betty have to escape in a Brigand, with one piloting, one gunning and both snarking the whole way.

  • In Terra the United Earth Coalition's F-71 Valkyrie is a two-person fighter, with the Guy in Back having the job title of Flight Engineer. Among the main cast, Alexis Hawke is the pilot and Rick MacFarlane is the Flight Engineer.

    Western Animation 
  • Jake "Razor" Clawson in SWAT Kats. He was physically smaller than T-Bone, but unlike the usual for the role he wasn't a non-combatant. He did all the shooting, and he was also the one most likely to jump from the plane into combat. On a missile. That turned into a motorcycle.
  • The short-lived Battletech cartoon had the Strikers' tac-ops officer directing the group from the back seat of a Battlemech in later episodes. Not only that, she enjoyed it.
  • In Exo Squad, Neosapien on the side of humankind Marsala was a GIB in an exceptionally big E-Frame - the size of an attack chopper when the rest were barely SUV sized.
  • Amusingly, Star Wars: The Clone Wars features the same R2 units as normal, but they actually sit in front of the pilots seat. This was to allow a proper R2 unit to fit into the space, as they otherwise don't actually physically fit in the version used in Attack of the Clones.
  • In Futurama, the Planet Express ship has a rarely-used turret positioned far away from the pilot's seat, and in the instances when it is used, Fry mans the guns while Leela takes the main wheel. During "Bender Gets Made", Fry has to take both positions at the same time, using his turret to repel the incoming Robot Mafia using a pulley system made of string to steer the ship (Leela was present, but was blinded and instead "steering" a pet bowl).

    Real Life 
  • The in-service fighter/attack aircraft with this capability in the front-line versions:
    • F-14 Tomcat
    • F-4 Phantom II
    • F-15E Strike Eagle
    • MiG-31 "Foxhound"
    • F/A-18B/D Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet and EF-18G Growlernote 
    • Some "Flanker" versions (Mainly Su-30 variants and Su-27UB trainers)
    • Su-34 "Fullback"
    • Panavia Tornado
    • Eurocopter Tiger
    • AH-64 Apache
    • Mi-24 "Hind"
    • The B-2 Spirit is interesting in that it can be flown by one pilot, but has two in case of extremely long flights, to allow one pilot to sleep in the back.
      • Most bombers have at least two pilots for the same reason that airliners do: because of the long times the mission could take. They also usually sit side-by-side, the position in the back reserved for other crewmembers like flight engineer or radio operator if they exist.
    • Attack helicopters are an interesting reversal: the Guy in Back there sits in front, because their main function is to aim the chopper's antitank missiles (and, in designs with a turret-mounted autocannon, to aim that as well) and good visibility is crucial here.
  • As noted in the intro, these were once common, even necessary, in light bombers and especially single-engine scout aircraft. The pilot's first job, after all, is to fly the airplane. Pilots who got too distracted from that tended to come to loud, messy ends, along with their planes. So a rear-seatman was added to act as observer. When a defensive gun turret was added, he was also expected to operate it. When radios were added, he was also expected to operate them. And in some cases, mainly seaplanes and carrier-based aircraft, the rear-seatman also had to be a trained navigator. Some better-known historical aircraft with a Guy In Back include:
    • SBD Dauntless, as shown on the page image
    • Junkers Ju-87 Stuka
    • TBF Avenger
    • Fairey Swordfish
    • A-6 Intruder
    • Blackburn Buccaneer
    • Nakajima B5N "Kate"
    • The Boulton Paul Defiant and Blackburn Roc were both "Turret Fighters", fighters equipped with a gun turret. They ultimately proved to be outclassed in dogfights due to the extra weight the turret added (and because they had no forward-firing weaponry, as the turret could not be aimed directly forward due to the propeller being in the way), although the Defiant saw some success as a night fighter.
    • The P-61 Black Widow, a purpose-designed night fighter equipped with a turret, required a GIB in the Radar Operator role and had a third crewman manning the turret. Some versions deleted the turret for better flight performance, but still needed the GIB to use the radar.
    • Early versions of the B-52 Stratofortress had a tailgunnernote  with a radar-assisted gun turret. B-52 gunners scored two air-air kills in the Vietnam War, the last ever scored via an aircraft-mounted turret.
      • Due to the different ways the cockpit and the tailgunner's station were designed note  the tailgunner in the earlier models could often see more of the plane than the pilot could, being able to tell the pilot useful information like "There's some smoke coming out of the bottom of the plane", "Missiles approaching!" and "Hey boss, the wing fell off."
    • Variation: the F-82 Twin Mustang, which was quite literally two P-51 Mustang fuselages connected by a wing segment (though in practice, they ended up having to stretch out the fuselage(s) too, meaning it had surprisingly few parts in common with a standard P-51) making it more of a Guy to the Side. Again, the second pilot's job was to fly to the target, leaving the other guy fresh to do the fighting. And to operate the radar, when one was slung under the central wing segment for night fighter use.note 
  • One of the uses, starting in the Vietnam War, for a GIB in a fighter jet was for employing Wild Weasel tactics. Plainly speaking, this involved a fighter bomber modified with radar-detecting equipment (and a GIB to run that equipment) which would offer itself as bait for the enemy defenses, trying to get them to reveal their position by targeting the Wild Weasel jet. Once an enemy had painted them with their radar, or took a shot at them with their AA guns, they'd (hopefully) evade the incoming fire and lay in their own attack to destroy the enemy. Or even if they didn't, a partner aircraft would come in to attack the radar installation from the side. Quite a few of these missions ended in Downer Endings.
    • There's a good reason that the Wild Weasels adopted "YGBSM" as their motto, for "You Gotta Be Shittin' Me." Supposedly it was the first reaction from the first Wild Weasel back-seater when he learned exactly what he was supposed to do, namely, ride in the back-seat of a plane being piloted by an especially foolhardy hotshot flyboy straight into the jaws of enemy anti-aircraft weaponry, to find and destroy said weaponry. The two crewmembers had to trust each other so closely in order to survive these missions that it wasn't unheard of for a pilot and GIB to have a faux-wedding ceremony upon completing their training.
    • In the USAF, the GIB in the early Wild Weasel aircraft such as the F-100F and EF-105F was known as the "Bear" (short for "trained bear").
  • The original Hind helicopters had a crew of 2-3 men. While only two were required to fly and man the weapons, a technician had his place behind them, manning the radio or other gear.
    • Note that the Hind was designed as a kind of a "flying APC" and had a cargo area that could fit 7-8 troopers, 2-3 tons of cargo or three stretcher patients for medevac. Engineer's station is in this cargo bay. Later models had a redesigned front end with the typical guy-in-front gunner and the pilot above and behind him, but retained troop compartment.
    • Mi-28 had this bay removed because it was rarely used in practice (pilots preferred to have more ammo instead), but it kept some sort of "trunk" for spares or one person.
  • Averted with the (now retired) F-111 "Aardvark" (though it was a light bomber, a carrier based interceptor version reached prototype stage only to be rejected) as its two crew sat side-by-side. Interestingly, there are some planes today that do this including two Russian Sukhoi aircraft, the Su-24 Fencer and the Su-34 Fullback (both spoken of as fighters even though they're light-bombers). Interestingly, the latter has some luxuries considered rare in a fighter including a small galley, a lavatory, and sleeping facilities. Rare for a helicopter, the Ka-52 (the competitor to the Mi-28; ultimately Russia adopted both) also had side by side seating. Even rarer for a combat helicopter, the Ka-50 from which the Ka-52 was derived was a single-seat craft; the Ka-52 added a second seat because it had enhanced sensors to serve a dual role as an attack and reconnaissance chopper and the single pilot couldn't handle all of that by himself.
    • There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The side by side seating allows for much better coordination for the crew. Unfortunately, in aerial combat, this position also gives much lower situational awareness than tandem seating. That's why it's almost always used in dedicated ground attack aircraft rather than true fighters.
  • Legendary Ace Pilot Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, started his flying career as an observer in a 2-seat recon plane. He's believed to have scored a gunnery kill in that role, though as the enemy plane went down in French territory the kill was unconfirmed.
  • Flying the SR-71 Blackbird was a full time job onto itself, so the plane had an officer to run pretty much everything else, including the radio. This is touched on in a humorous story excerpted here.
  • Both the USAF Thunderbirds and USN/USMC Blue Angels have used traditionally two seat aircraft in their demonstrations, most notably the F-4 Phantom.note  However, neither team made use of backseaters during their time flying the F-4, leaving the rear seat unoccupied for airshows. Similarly, while both teams currently possess two seat variants of their respective aircraftnote  the second seat is only used to give rides to VIPs or for carrying support personnel when scouting a show site; if used as part of an airshow it is flown as a single seater.
  • Until the rise of modern electronics and glass cockpits, commercial planes had a *third* officer in the cabin, the flight engineer. This officer would sit to the rear of the two pilots, facing outboard, and would monitor the aircraft's various electrical and fluid systems.