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Ineffectual Loner

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"I need your help. I thought I could - I thought I needed to do this alone - a 'back to basics' approach. I was wrong. No one person can do this alone. No Man's Land is too big... too... dark. The only way to bring light back to Gotham is working together. All of us."
Batman, No Man's Land

He's badass. He has cool clothes. He's a little less idealistic than the hero. Maybe he's a Byronic Hero. He makes a grand entrance. And does it in half the time the hero does. Why's he a loner? Generally it turns out to be some kind of betrayal, or maybe he lost friends or family and now he just wants to be alone.


Unfortunately, he'll win battles, but never win the war. If he's lucky, he might not get killed by The Dragon. He's also obnoxiously condescending because all Loners Are Freaks, and, if written badly, has only an Informed Ability.

The Ineffectual Loner does not understand The Power of Friendship, or just isn't concerned. The problem is this attitude makes someone pretty single-minded, and he's afraid to trust anyone as an ally or they'd be a liability/distraction. He's also extremely susceptible (if not outright gullible) to villains who know how to think this way. He may catch on eventually, but he'll be a tool (in several senses of the word) for a bit.

An Ineffectual Loner usually starts to catch on to their role the first time they get their ass handed to them, and the other heroes bail him out. This is often a tempting trap laid by the villain, who knows the loner has no friends to warn him about the obvious danger.


A forgiving lead hero will usually be sympathetic to his intentions, even if other characters regarded him as an annoyance. Indeed, sometimes there's a specific character who does that intently — sometimes a little too much.

In short, an isolationist Grumpy Bear. If he's lucky, he'll be upgraded to Rival or Sixth Ranger. If not, he gets served as a testimonial to going against the series Aesop. Some writers take the middle ground to be more fair, but that usually results in conveniently being Put on a Bus until the writers need them again.

On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, these characters only appear in idealistic stories or any setting where The Power of Friendship has significance. In a cynical story they might be the main character.

A subtrope of The Stoic. See also Loners Are Freaks, In the End, You Are on Your Own, The Complainer Is Always Wrong. Contrast The Aloner, who is a Loner by (apocalyptic) force rather than choice.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played with in GaoGaiGar. Soldato-J doesn't fight alone, but he doesn't have the same kind of camaraderie with his partners that Guy and Mamoru have with theirs. Despite this, he's actually better at his job than Guy is, at least at first, and makes his entrance by curbstomping a trio of Robeasts moments after they'd beaten Guy to a pulp. He goes on to be Guy's rival for the rest of the series before apparently going out in a blaze of glory at the end of the tv series. FINAL plays this a bit straighter; while he remains as badass as he's ever been, J is also completely unable to do anything against the Sol Masters until the heroes show up (to be fair, he was outnumbered eleven to one), and can't even challenge his own Evil Counterpart until he teams up with Renais and gains a new Super Mode / Combination Attack with her.
  • Fakir in Princess Tutu certainly starts off this way. As soon as the main heroine figures out he's not really that bad of a guy she tries to convince him to team up with her, but it takes until near the end of the season until he finally does, and even then it's reluctantly. In the second season he doesn't mind quite as much, but he still maintains a bad habit of trying to do things on his own.
  • Nao Yuuki from Mai Hime is mostly this, but not because she's ineffective. Rather, she's utterly disinterested in the battles the other HiME are involved in, preferring her own path of preying on creeps she lures to her via the internet. And when she works with the others to stop the Sears Foundation's invasion of Fuka Academy, she's just as effective there. However, almost immediately afterwards, she's framed for attacking another HiME and loses her eye in the ensuing battle, causing her naturally distrustful personality to blow into full on paranoia, leading her to take out her feelings of revenge on everyone she almost trusted until the events of the Grand Finale.
    • Natsuki Kuga from the same series is a by the numbers case of this. Pretty much every solo action we see her undertake onscreen doesn't work, or blows up in her face. Her attempt to dissuade any Hime from showing up to Fuuka in the first episode really sets the stage for this. From there, there's her plan to deal with the panty thief orphan, her discovering and attacking Alyssa Searrs, and her attempts to deal with the seemingly traitorous Nao. Ironically, this all leads up to her final confrontation with Shizuru, which she only wins because she acknowledges that she's not alone in the world, and thus super-powers up Duran to the same level as Shizuru's Kiyohime, allowing her to carry out her plan: eliminate Shizuru (and by extension, herself) in order to give Mai a clear shot at ending the entire Festival, thus sacrificing herself for the good of others. Quite the full circle of Character Development. Her special in the 25th episode even has her acknowledging the power of friendship and love.
      "The feelings Shizuru had for me and the feelings Mai and Tate had for each other made me realize people can't live alone. It might seem obvious to anyone else, but it was an important truth I discovered only recently."
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Former Idiot Hero Judai chooses to fully embrace this role right before his token female love interest feels like making her move. No one said Character Development was easy.
  • Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune from Sailor Moon have a consistently condescending view of many of the other characters, despite being surprisingly useless when combating actual Dragons or Big Bads.
  • Caren in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. Good Is Dumb eventually gets her.
  • Jung Freud from Gunbuster is introduced early on as The Rival hot "foreign" mecha pilot. She hangs around the edges of the main two characters, never quite getting to be the big heroine, or to save the day. To her credit, she gives up her seat in Buster Machine, to allow the classic pair to team for the final mission. She is left behind near the climax, not even allowed to make the Heroic Sacrifice made by the two leads.
  • Asuka Langley Soryuu from Neon Genesis Evangelion is introduced in a manner very similar to Jung Freud (same director, same company). However, instead of fading into the background after her first (slight) comeuppance, she is promoted to love interest (a much more dangerous position in a Gainax giant robot story) and then to central cast member. She still suffers like most ineffectual loners - it's just longer in coming and much nastier when it happens.
    • Shinji's also an ineffectual loner despite being the main character. He beats more Angels than Rei or Asuka, but just gets more traumatized each time.
    • To make the trio complete, Rei is also rather ineffectual whenever she fights alone.
  • In part 1, Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto starts out as The Rival, but quickly descends to Ineffectual Loner. He is introduced as a grim and solitary prodigy at the Ninja Academy with a special inherited power that should make him all but invincible. Other characters admire and are intimidated by his skill, while women swoon over his good looks. He then goes on to get bailed out of every major fight by Naruto. With the start of part 2, however, he has become something of a subversion - now that he really has split himself off from the protagonist he has become one of the most powerful ninja in the series, not through the power of friendship but through fighting alone (though his sanity has taken a nosedive).
    • He heads back towards being a straight example from about his fight with Itachi onwards, as he only got out of that because the fight was thrown, he goes back to being bailed out by his new team in his next fight though he fought Danzo alone, it was mainly thanks to Karin continually supplying him information through the fight that he won, and it generally seems as if he's never going to achieve anything he aims for.
    • Except then he promptly ditches his team, and gets another power upgrade. As with just about every other trope, Sasuke keeps us guessing on this one.
    • Though literally every single fight Itachi takes part in goes exactly as planned, his ultimate goal fails completely due to his belief that he was the only one who needed to suffer the burden of the Uchiha Clan's darkness. Later on, he admits to Naruto that if he had been willing to share the pain and let others help him, especially Sasuke, things would have worked out much better than they did.
  • Paul from the Sinnoh saga of Pokémon is an extremely harsh trainer with no comprehension of The Power of Friendship, can't learn to love and respect his Pokemon, and doesn't take well to battling alongside others. This comes to bite him in the end when his Chimchar, now an Infernape, destroys his team at the end of the arc.
  • The X-Laws from Shaman King are an entire team of ineffectual loners. They are determinators to the point that they refuse to work with anyone outside of their team and have a consistently condescending view on such people. They even go as far as to kill indiscriminately to try and stop Hao. Needless to say, all of this ends up making Hao obtain the Shaman King title far easier than otherwise.
  • Gareki from Karneval fits the first paragraph to a T, although he's a main character and too badass to fail (so far; being rational and aware of his lacking strength next to a Circus fighter helps too). Also, he's a Type A Tsundere, which goes along charmingly with the personality trait (badass; it's kept him from being Ineffectual thusfar).
  • Digimon generally has at least one of these per season, or at least an otherwise main character who decides for no apparent reason that they need to be a Loner. In the first season, Matt/Yamato can't be bothered by anyone but his younger brother, so he gets the Crest of Friendship to force him to be more powerful by working with others. Rika/Ruki in Digimon Tamers: in the beginning of the season she sees Digimon as soulless fighting machines, treats her own Digimon partner as such, and actively tries to destroy the Digimon belonging to the main character. She lightens up later, thanks to her mother and digimon partner.
    • A lot of the loners are this way because of their Broken Bird origins.
  • Angel Salvia from Wedding Peach is this at first. Because of the nature of their powers and the enemies they fight, the four Love Angels aren't able to use the full power of the Saint Something Four until they all work together. Also, the part that made me think of this trope was where Salvia kept cutting a snow demon in her angry desire to get revenge, and even though cutting it was making the demon grow more each time, she wouldn't stop cutting it until Peach made her stop. Making that a rather literal example because her method (which she wanted to do by herself) was worse than just ineffectual, it was making the enemy stronger!
  • Katekyō Hitman Reborn! has Kyoya Hibari, the ostentatious head of the Disciplinary Committee (Although he is only ever seen with one of its members at any given time), doesn't like groups. He hates groups, and people who group, to the point of beating them senseless with the only warning being a derogatory "I'll Bite You to Death." He's considered invincible by his peers in the manga (most of whom are afraid of getting on his bad side), and has only lost one battle total due to a cheap trick pulled by the resident Manipulative Bastard Mukuro Rokudo. Despite this completely ridiculous winning streak, when it comes to the appearance of the Big Bad, he doesn't even try to pull a stunt, leaving it to the hero. (He is also the reference image for this page.)
  • Kai Hiwatari from Bakuten Shoot Beyblade is this massively all the way through season 1 ("There's no Kai in team!", anyone?), is less obnoxiously so in V-Force (re. goes off to fight Jack's Scissorswing alone), reverts back to season 1 persona in G-Revolution. And never beats Takao. Bless.
    • Partially subverted at the end of G-Revolution, when he scares to death, defeats and drives into madness the apparently invincible Brooklyn through determination alone.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Played straight, subverted as part of Character Development, and then sort of zig-zagged with Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z. He always lives alone, constantly training himself mentally and physically. Even when he starts getting some concept of The Power of Friendship, he still prefers to do things his own way. Often times being the only one who can even remotely stand up to the Big Bad of the arc, up until around the time Cell finishes up becoming Perfect, but the only finishing blow he gets against a serious fighter requires a Heroic Sacrifice by his then-Worthy Opponent. The zig-zag comes around because, even though he (eventually) openly admits that some threats are simply too big to fight alone, the only time he's shown spending any time with anyone else is when they're in the middle of training to combat said big threat.
    • Jiren of Universe 11 from Dragon Ball Super is this due to his Dark and Troubled Past where his family, mentor and many friends were killed by a villain and the rest abandoned him, causing him to view friendship and trust as fleeting and strength as the only true absolute in the universe. As a result, he's cold and aloof even to his fellow Pride Troopers and in fact only views them as tools to help him achieve his goals, and seeing The Power of Friendship at work is one of his Berserk Buttons, since it denies everything he's ever been or believed in. He goes absolutely ballistic on Goku during their final battle when Goku states the reason he can still stand against him is because of the Heroic Willpower he gains from fighting for the sake of his friends and family, causing him to try and kill them to prove his ideals are right.
  • George Schyuter of Muhyo and Roji, quoted above, has a Freudian Excuse that because his assistants ended up dying so often, he attracted a bad reputation and decided to avoid causing or being blamed for others' deaths by practicing Magical Law alone with a special sword and envoy. He initially obstructs Muhyo and Roji's efforts to deal with Vector by threatening to revoke their licenses if they interfere, before setting out to deal with him alone. This doesn't go very well, and he ends up being forced to pull a You Shall Not Pass! in order to buy time for Roji to wake up Muhyo, who proceeds to finish the fight with Vector.
  • Jean-Pierre Polnareff from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure started out like this in Stardust Crusaders, as he was mainly driven by vengeance against J. Geil, the man with two right hands who killed his sister. He insists to do it alone when the gang arrives in India, upon knowing that he is there. He grows out of this after J. Geil and Hol Horse kill Avdol, and Kakyoin helps him track down J. Geil and give him the thrashing of his life, and afterwards, he 's the one who's preaching about working together in order to defeat Dio.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr. from Tiger & Bunny begins the series as one of these. While he has a public front as being very friendly and charming, in reality he's entirely too wrapped up in seeking revenge to form any sort of relationship with other people. It takes Kotetsu thirteen episodes and a flamebolt to the chest to drag him out of it.
  • In Saint Beast, Kira's loner behaviour is largely due to Fantastic Racism, but never became good with people even after meeting angels who accepted him. However, the heroes aren't the kind of angels to leave him alone and his aloof behaviour never helps him.
  • Gundam
    • Captain, Zero, and Bakunetsumaru start out this way in SD Gundam Force. Captain shrugs off Shute's companionship at first because he has to mantain The Masquerade, but rethinks this when he realizes that the Soul Drive runs on the Power of Friendship. Similarly, both Zero and Bakunetsumaru when they first appear are disdainful of the Gundam Force, but come to recognize them as warriors of worth, and decide to help them protect Neotopia as they would their own nations. Gunbike actually lampshades this trope;
    "I know you, the proud, cocky type who likes to do things on his own, and gets the rest of his squad in trouble!"
    • Despite being The Hero, Garrod Ran has this problem at the start of After War Gundam X. Having lived most of his life as a lone salvager / thief with an inherent distrust of adults, there's a lot of friction when he joins the Freeden, leading to his 10-Minute Retirement and even more problems when his inherent mistrust causes him to draw a gun on Ennil El.
  • Hikigaya Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU prefers to be left alone, but after his teacher forced him to join a club that helps other students with their problems he has situations where helps people alone (even if almost the entire school hates him for it later on)
  • MakoPi/Cure Sword of Doki Doki Pretty Cure was this, preferring not to get involve in Mana's growing Pretty Cure team so she can handle her own revenge for letting her home get destroyed. It isn't until all four Cures are trapped in MakoPi's world and seeing how big Mana's Balls of Steel are in mocking one of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad while powerless, she lets it drop.
  • The first chapters of Seraph of the End are essentially about beating The Power of Friendship into Yuu, who's afraid to get close to others after watching all of his loved ones be slaughtered (and that was after already going through the defrosting process once, due to a bitter relationship with his parents before the incident). In fact, his commander makes 'making friends at school' a requirement before the kid can officially join the squad he wants to be a part of, knowing that an Ineffectual Loner will only get himself killed.
  • Kobayashi from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. While she isn't any ineffectual (in fact, it's quite the opposite as it's her workforce that's reliant on her as she's the most capable one), her meeting Tohru made her realize how empty her life was before she met her. Played straight in the household when Tohru was taken back to the other world, forcing her to take care of Kanna by herself on top of working full time, leading to the house becoming messier, making her realize that she does need Tohru.
  • Subverted with Kurapika of Hunter × Hunter. He starts out working with the others well enough, but his progress and effectiveness accelerate dramatically when the team splits up for a few months to pursue their own goals. This is ultimately what convinces him to shut the others out of his life.
  • Homura Akemi, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, has been going through a Groundhog Peggy Sue loop in order to save Madoka and prevent her from forming a contract. After being subjected to a Cynicism Catalyst, she kind of stopped trying to save the other Magical Girls in the series. And every single loop, either Madoka died or she made a contract.
  • Heavily deconstructed (like almost everything) by Ren Amaki in The Rising of the Shield Hero. From the start, Naofumi compares him to MMORPG players who like to play solo and thus have difficulty to work with others, and he acts accordingly, preferring to train solo while leaving his party to their own devices. This translates in that he's not able to fight effectively with his own teammates or the other heroes because he acts on his own and expects others to know what he's doing, which results in his party being completely wiped out when he and the Bow and Spear Heroes decide to unseal the Spirit Tortoise, thinking they can defeat it.

  • The Punisher and Blade, whenever they showed up alongside Spider-Man or other more idealistic superheroes. (Note that, in their own series, their values were more "realistic" than those they considered naive.)
  • During the No Man's Land storyline, Batman became this by cutting himself from all his allies and forbidding them to help. Finally, he realized this approach was counterproductive and recalled them all.
    • It's a cycle he regularly goes through. Attempt to drive away all the people he cares about, go darker and grimmer than usual, then realize/give in to the fact that he needs them.
      Batman: I want to thank you all for coming on such short notice... and... Before we get into why you're here, I wanted to say... well, I just... I... I know that I'm not an easy person to know. That's all.
  • The titular Sandman gives off the impression that he's quite the loner, but he's often got a lover or a raven to keep him company.
  • Taken to an extreme with the original 70s team of X-Men; John Proudstar, the Native American mutant who was the first to take up the Thunderbird code-name, was a Jerkass who thought himself better than his teammates and actually was kind of racist against non-Native Americans. His attempts to be the badass solo warrior got him killed in his second outing with the X-Men, and he stayed dead for decades, reappearing only as one of Selene's undead slaves during the Necrosha arc in X-Force.

    Fan Works 

  • Arnie, in Dr. Franklin's Island, is more independent and contrary than his two companions, and insists on his own plans. But he usually has to go with what Miranda says anyway, since she's usually right and he needs that. His plans do not actually work out so well, anyway.
  • Westley is an interesting variant in The Princess Bride. Alone, he can outduel the world's greatest swordsman, outfight the world's strongest giant, and outthink the world's smartest criminal - and it's still not enough to keep Prince Humperdinck from reclaiming his bride and imprisoning Westley and later killing him. It's only when he teams up with Inigo and Fezzik that he has the opportunity to save the day.
    • His status as a loner was really because this particular adventure was personal. He'd spent several years as part of a pirate crew and then as its captain.

    Live Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: By the end of the series, Galen Tyrol has become this. But really, after discovering that he was a Cylon and never really picking whether he was going to identify as a human or a Cylon, then later finding out his half-Cylon son wasn't actually half-Cylon or his at all, then also that his wife was actually killed by a fellow Cylon, can you blame him for being disillusioned?
  • The Doctor in Doctor Who. Especially in the New Series, the Doctor likes to get in this mode after losing a companion. For example, the Tenth Doctor after he had to wipe Donna's memory after she became the Doctor-Donna. Another example is the Eleventh Doctor when Amy and Rory are sent back in time.
  • Dr. Foreman on House. He's quit and gone to work for other hospitals, and attempted to run a drug trial, but pretty much always gets kicked back to working under House.
    • Arguably, Dr. House himself, at least in recent seasons where the focus has been shifting from him getting away with crazy stunts to stick it to the man to him getting away with crazy stunts to distract from his crippling emotional issues, while failing in any actual attempt to resolve them.
  • Eric Myers, the Quantum Ranger of Power Rangers Time Force consistently thought himself superior to the other Rangers (and, on paper, he was) and never actually joined the team in any real sense. He only actively works with the others in the finale, and then it's only by giving his powers to the Red Ranger, Wes, when he is incapacitated. (In Time Force's counterpart Mirai Sentai Timeranger, the equivalent character, Naoto Takizawa, actually experiences Redemption Equals Death).
  • Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Stinger/Sasori Oranger prefers to act on his own and mostly avoids his team unless neccessary. This bites him on the tail hard at quite a few turns, the best example being when he fights his brother and nearly dies. He becomes more of team player afterwards, but still is probably the most aloof Kyuranger. Well, for most of the time.
  • Avon of Blake's 7. He starts off with no choice in the matter, stuck on a spaceship and on the run from the Federation... but he somehow keeps finding reasons to not leave the ship and Blake, whom he professes to despise. After losing Blake he should have been free to go, but instead spends the remaining two years in command of the crew and looking for Blake.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy falls into this, at least once a season, before coming back to her friends for support.
    • The Slayers before Buffy would usually fall into this which tended to get them killed. Averting this trope is often lampshaded as the reason for Buffy's survival and success.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Lord Bowler was an Ineffectual Loner in the early episodes, before entering into a profitable partnership with the protagonist. He then evolved into a Badass Longcoat.
  • In Survivors (2008), Greg claims to want to survive on his own. He tolerates Abby's presence, who turns out to be a Team Mom and gathers a crew of seven. Despite mentioning leaving the group a few times, 12 episodes later, he's still there.
  • Grant Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a hyper-competent field agent who initially fights hard against being recruited onto Team Coulson, since he's both more comfortable and more effective working alone. It's actually taken to extremes in places, since he's apparently cut himself out of the loop so badly that he didn't realise S.H.I.E.L.D.'s top scientist and his new teammate Fitz-Simmons was two people until he was introduced to them, despite the implication that everyone within the organisation knew them through their work by that point. He generally spends the first few episodes behaving as though having skilled back-up from the science and communications departments is hindering him as an operations agent, before Defrosting Ice Queen kicks in. Though midway through Season 1 it's revealed that Ward was Evil All Along, and that his tough I-can-do-this-alone act was for show, to make himself into someone Coulson would want to take under his wing in order to "fix" his distrust of other people. Safe to say, everyone was fooled. In fact he's been a very effective team player the whole time, just for a different team.
  • In Arrow, Oliver has fallen into this way of thinking more than once, thinking his friends are better off without him. Then either they'll rescue him at the last minute or something will happen to one of them that he might have been able to prevent had he been around.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Mercedes Martinez declaring open war on Daffney's All-Star Squad didn't workout so well for her. She could consistently beat most Squad members in one on one matches but any provocation beyond that lead to her facing them 2 on 1 or even 4 on 1. Them being a baby face stable was probably why they didn't gang up on her from the get go, as Valkyrie did to solve their Martinez problem much quicker. After returning from that particular failure, Martinez picked a fight with four members of VALkyrie, who backed off, then jumped Martinez from behind. After that Martinez joined with Thea Trinidad to fill in for the indisposed La Rosa in Ivelisse's SHINE Sicarias, then for good measure, brought in Shayna Baszler, who she had already swept up with Nicole Savoy for her own SHIMMER Trifecta, to act as a bodyguard when the other Sicarias weren't around.

  • Kopaka starts out like this in BIONICLE. It doesn't last long, though because Destiny has other ideas. He's still The Stoic, but he's not as opposed to teamwork as he once was.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Origins is an exploration of this trope, as Batman realizes he needs Jim Gordon.
  • Wild ARMs 3: One of the best examples of this trope is Jet, not just because he is the Ineffectual Loner to a tee, but because Virginia calls him on it — asking him what he'd managed to accomplish on his lonesome. Considering that the four of them managed to save the world three times, and save villages and towns many times more than that, together, she has a point.
  • Subverted in Valkyria Chronicles. Through Nils Daerden and Marina Wulfstan, who actually get stat bonuses for being alone and penalties for being with others. In short, they actually DO work better alone. The latter is also considered by many to be the best sniper in the game.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy Tactics with the character Delita, who exhibits the philosophy and behavior of the Ineffectual Loner, but proves not to be ineffectual at all. This can be attributed to the title's uncharacteristically (for Final Fantasy) heavy emphasis on the "cynical" end of the scale'The Hero Ramza would be Messianic Archetype if he could, but in Ivalice, it just doesn't work that way.
    • But it could also be considered to be played straight anyways; for all his effectiveness, Delita never really gets what he was looking for and ends up alone and unhappy, while Ramza gets what he was looking for and lives his life free, with his sister.
  • Squall Leonhart is a hero version in Final Fantasy VIII, and he never wanted to be the hero anyway.
  • The trope is borne out normally in Final Fantasy IX, where Amarant is the Ineffectual Loner, and Zidane tries to teach him The Power of Friendship, or at least of discretion.
  • Brandt of Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light tries this, ditching Yunita so he can turn himself into a badass lone hero after feeling inferior to Krinjh. It lasts exactly until he reaches Arbor, whereupon the town's defenses turn him into a plant. (Fortunately, the little white cat following him was really Aire, who found a way to turn him back... after a few steps.)
    • Argubaly, Jusqua and Aire (which is to say, every single main character except for Yunita, who keeps getting ditched by her teammates) also qualify. A big chunk of the game's plot revolves around the team's inability to work together. For the first half of the game, they spend more time bickering and blowing one another off than acting like proper heroes.
  • Neku, main character of the video game The World Ends with You. He wants to find his way out of the Game by himself, however, the rules of the game make this extremely difficult if not impossible.
  • L'Arc Bright Lagoon, main character of Arc Rise Fantasia. He begins this way, but on his journey as 'Child of Eesa' he embraces the Power of Friendship.
  • Being a franchise centered on The Power of Friendship, Pokémon has a few. Silver from the second generation and it's remakes is an abrasive, abusive, rather violent Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy of a boy with a massive Inferiority Superiority Complex who may have inspired Paul in the TV show a decade or so after his debut. Another rival, Blue from the first generation isn't a loner per se, but he also still doesn't understand The Power of Friendship and can't learn to love and respect his Pokémon. A sound butt kicking from the player usually results.
  • Touhou's Fujiwara no Mokou fits perfectly into this type. Shortly after she killed Iwakasa and then tasted the elixir of eternal life, she spent the rest of her life in a form of solitude in a bamboo forest because she couldn't fit into society and couldn't die. Nowadays she spends her time taking on her rival's assassins and saving people's lives.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, that guy who wants a make a world where people can't interact with each other cause he doesn't believe in relying on people sure relies on you a lot for emotional support and dungeon crawling.
    • Actually, it was because of that, which is why he conceived of such a philosophy, as he was tired of being so dependent on the hero.
  • This is the ultimate Fatal Flaw of the heroes of BlazBlue, and is also the biggest reason for the villains being incredibly likely to succeed (on top of Poor Communication Kills). Most of heroes constantly bicker and in-fight with each other and would rather mind their own businesses than realize the common threat and work with each other, which ends up leaving them surprisingly useless when dealing with people like Terumi and Relius because they tend to fight them alone. It's only after they start working with each other beginning with Chronophantasma than any meaningful progress is made.
  • Arlin, the loner swordsman from Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, leaves the party midgame to go hunting down his Evil Counterpart and Big Bad Mull on his own because the party doesn't make a quick progress in finding him. It doesn't go well. He's turned in a stone by his nemesis, and he can't be cured until you beat the game once.
  • Magus from Chrono Trigger. He is defeated twice by Lavos before figuring out he needs to join Chrono's party to destroy it. Though he never quite buys in to The Power of Friendship...
  • Solo in the Mega Man Star Force games, thanks to his Freudian Excuse, believes wholeheartedly that only weak people form groups and develop friendships. He maintains this belief despite a huge number of inconvenient facts, such as his homeland of Mu being destroyed because nobody trusted anyone else, or the way The Hero uses The Power of Friendship to kick him around like a soccer ball on a regular basis.
  • Mass Effect 2: Garrus Vakarian starts out this way, causing trouble to the gangs of Omega. He worked with a team of 11 other people up until the gangs joined forces. The only reason Garrus is alone when you first meet him is because the rest of his team was killed. He's quite happy to join Shepard and, outside of a burning hatred for the man who sold out his team, is not bitter about the concept of teamwork.
  • Knuckles from Sonic the Hedgehog started out as one due being constrained in a solitary duty to guard the Master Emerald in Angel Island. After forging a friendship with Sonic and Tails, he has somewhat grown out of his shell, though he still sometimes has gruff and anti-social tendencies.
    • Blaze in the Sonic Rush Series also started as one. She rejects the help of Sonic and his friends in believing that she must find all of the Sol Emeralds by herself. By the end of the game, she begins to learn The Power of Friendship and accepts the heroes as her friends.
    • Shadow plays this straighter than the two above. He doesn't put a lot of value on teamwork and of the like when getting things done. It also doesn't help that he doesn't seem very fond of anyone's presence that much. However, he's also often seen in the company of Team Dark, made up of him, Rouge the Bat, and Omega, and actually works fairly well with them, even not minding their presence as much as he does anyone elses'.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of Yuuto's two big flaws in Eien no Aselia is his inability to accept or ask for help. While he's competent and probably the strongest person on his side, he's just not good enough to do everything by himself. This does not just apply to fighting or being a general, however, as raising Kaori was far more difficult than it needed to be thanks to his stubborn refusal to accept any help after their parents died.
  • Subversion: In Fate/stay night, the Archer character is the Ineffectual Loner; this is a subversion as he is actually the disillusioned future self of a Messianic Archetype who realized at the end of his life that trying to save everyone was an impossible goal. Plus he's far from ineffectual.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius, the elven wizard, is normally a functional, if condescending team player. In the fourth story arc, however, when the party has been split, he/she grows fed up with his/her half's inaction and eventually abandons them. A Deal with the Devil, several Break the Haughty moments, and a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown later, Vaarsuvius finally understands that a person doesn't need to win to be a valuable contributor and rejoins the rest of the party.
    • Also, Girard Draketooth, whose approach to guarding his gate was to entrust his family, and no one else, with the duty. This distrust of in-laws almost led the Linear Guild right to them (as the Guild tracked down a woman who had born a child for and then been abandoned by a Draketooth), and left no one to guard the gate after they were Familicided by Vaarsuvius. They also distrusted paladins to the extent that they would not let a Lawful Good cleric revive them. This left no one to protect the gate, resulting in its destruction.
  • The title character in Scout Crossing is a post Heroic BSoD loner who was a former "Legend about town" along with his deceased brother.
  • Ever the Jerkass, ever the Con Man, Nenshe from Rumors of War is an off-again, mostly-on-again Ineffectual Loner.
  • Antimony from Gunnerkrigg Court used to be self-sufficient. She's apt to become good pals with any beings from psychopomps to the Minotaur to a trickster god, but didn't interact with living humans on her own initiative. Even Kat is her best friend only because she approached Annie first. From the chapter 19 or so she occasionally noticed the problem and tried to communicate. By 28 and 30 her failure to cooperate even with the teacher whose help she'd request when things gone wrong or fellow Mediums-in-training was an obvious crippling flaw.

    Web Original 
  • Dimension Heroes: Wyn from the web fiction serial is unwilling to join with the other Dimensional Guardians until he finds himself in over his head.
  • Red vs. Blue: Agent Tex from is great at winning individual fights and battles, but when it comes to an overarching objective, she always falls short.
    • Agent Carolina is a highly skilled fighter, but in solo fights she will push herself beyond her limits in order to prove herself (with disastrous results). When fighting with a team (either the other agents of Project Freelancer or the Blood Gulch Crew), she performs much better.
    • Inverted with Agent Maine; as part of Project Freelancer he was The Big Guy, but on his own as the Meta he became one of the most terrifying things in the entire series
  • This is a recurring element of RWBY: The Power Of Teamwork is a theme of the series, so those that push others out are often less likely to succeed in whatever they are doing;
    • Discussed between Blake and Yang. When Yang asks Blake to stop running herself ragged in order to find Roman Torchwick, Blake cries "I'm the only one that can do this!", prompting Yang to shove Blake to prove that she was in no condition to take Torchwick on by herself, and that she'd have to trust her team to help her fight Torchwick.
    • James Ironwood's competence and success is proportionately linked to how well he works with others; When he chooses to trust only in his own judgement and blocks others, his methods fail. Even his "inner circle" consist of subordinates who cannot understand his burden, nor call him out for his worst acts. The biggest Hope Spot of Volume 7 is when he is convinced to work with Robyn Hill and with her help manages to capture Watts and Tyrian. However, once he gets wind that Cinder has gotten into Atlas and Salem is on her way to attack the kingdom, he falls back and redoubles his usual measures; He declares martial law, orders the arrests of the heroes, and the ensuing chaos more or less undoes everything he tried to accomplish.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Killer is honestly pretty cool, but doesn't get along with others because of his Brilliant, but Lazy and snappy attitude.
  • Dreamscape: Aseir's solitary nature often leaves him Locked Out of the Loop about things going on around him.
  • Subverted with Paultin in Dice, Camera, Action! because either Nate, his player, is absent doing his own thing in which case the GM has him drunk and/or brooding in a corner somewhere or, and he has a disturbing habit of this, he gets kidnapped and forced into someone else's agenda.

    Western Animation 
  • Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Depth Charge from Transformers: Beast Wars is this trope, but with enough firepower to back up most of his attitude.
    • Same goes for Blurr in Transformers Armada.
    • And Prowl from Transformers Animated. He's skilled enough, but often screws up due to a tendency to try to take on things that would require the entire team.
      • Prowl rises out of this for a few episodes early in the first season, seeming to have no problems working with Bulkhead... but seems to have a case of Aesop Amnesia, probably brought on by having to put up with Bumblebee.
  • Darkwing Duck starts off this way, with Darkwing spurning Launchpad's offers to team up, and disregarding Gosalyn's well-meant advice. By the end of the two-part pilot, he comes to accept the two as True Companions, but the trope of rejecting assistance comes up again and again in the course of the show, in episodes like "Slime Okay, You're Okay" and "Jail Bird". The strongest manifestation was in the show's only other two-part episode, "Just Us Justice Ducks", where Darkwing's rejection of allies leads to his summary defeat, an Aesop about the importance of teamwork, and an immediate comedic subversion of the Aesop, after which the battle royale between the Justice Ducks and their collective raison d'etre, the Fearsome Five, can proceed.
  • Peppermint Fizz from the 2002 Strawberry Shortcake series. She generally only shows up when the lesson of the day is something the nicer characters don't need to learn (like "don't be a xenophobe"), and is usually depicted as looking down on the others.
  • Cera in the first The Land Before Time movie nearly got herself killed by a Sharptooth and went hungry so that she wouldn't have to ask for help from the others. Eventually, she joined the rest of the group in a somewhat touching scene one night. She's pretty integrated into the group immediately after that.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight Sparkle starts out as this. More interested in studying than spending time around anyone who isn't her Mentor Princess Celestia, she's less than thrilled when she's sent off with the none-too-subtle suggestion that she should meet new ponies and try making friends. Doesn't help that she thinks she's the Only Sane Pony around...
    • This is also one of the main flaws of The Great And Powerful Trixie. She usually assumes that she doesn't need anypony else. She ultimately learns otherwise in No Second Prances when her faux friendship with Starlight Glimmer (which was meant to mess with Twilight Sparkle) becomes the genuine article.
    • The moral of "Gauntlet of Fire". Garble was a very capable competitor in his own right and was one of the first three dragons to make it to the end of the Gauntlet, but, like most dragons, he did not believe in The Power of Friendship, and went through the Gauntlet by himself. In the end, Spike and Ember working together proved much more effective both in the actual race and in the fight at the end, and handily beat Garble.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Wolf continually insists that she works alone, is a lone wolf, and isn't interested in friendship. But her facade is very easy to see through thanks to the fact that she passes up chance after chance to leave Kipo to her fate.
  • Jasper from Steven Universe is, on her own, a terrifyingly strong super soldier. Unfortunately for her, she's fighting against the Crystal Gems, who have no problem fighting her two-or-more-on-one and utilizing The Power of Friendship (embodied by a Fusion Dance) to kick her rear. Being beaten by fusions tends to drive her up the wall, since she regards fusion as 'a cheap tactic to make weak gems stronger'.
  • This, as it turns out, is the Author's problem in Gravity Falls, best described in the Defictionalization of Journal 3; While he was Properly Paranoid in regards to his dream-demon arch nemesis possessing people, his solution to keep everyone away created more problems than they solved. Not giving his assistant all the details on his research caused that assistant to leave him, and his attempt to use his estranged friend hide said research backfired with him being trapped in another dimension for 30 years. As he admits in Journal 3, if he had opened his circle just a little bit more and gathered The Chosen Many, the Big Bad would have been defeated, but instead he focused on launching a one-man assault that failed and led to his capture.
  • Mr. Incredible mostly insisted on working alone. This partially lead to Syndrome Start of Darkness (he was a Hero-Worshipper for Mr. Incredible until Mr. Incredible snapped at him for trying to help apprehend a criminal- though to be fair, the guy was being The Load at the time). Interestingly enough, this seems to partially be a product of an Inferiority Superiority Complex- the reason he gives for fighting the Omnidroid alone in the Final Battle is because he's "not strong enough" to protect his family (His wife's answer? "If we work together, you won't have to be").


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