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It's Up to You

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"Once upon a time in a generic fantasy land, only up to four wizards had the power to make a difference."
Magicka trailer

Quite simply, the player is always the "point man," and has the sole responsibility of accomplishing every task of significance. It's your responsibility to defuse that bomb, kill that monster, retrieve those documents, or take out that sniper: It's Up To You.

In shooters, this tends to occur with Sniping Missions, in which your character is tasked with using a sniper rifle to kill or protect someone, despite the fact that your character has never been acknowledged as a sniper or marksman until now, while NPC allies may struggle to defeat more than basic Mooks (despite being armed with the same weapons as the player).

Similarly, in many RPGs, the main character will be designated to lead the party simply because they are the player's avatar; no matter how much stronger, more important, more intelligent or more experienced the other party members are. Even if this doesn't occur to the character, the group the character is part of frequently can fall victim to this trope instead. Anyone trying to beat the Big Bad who isn't part of the main party will fail, and might have to be rescued. At worst, the character may die and give the player greater reason to kill the Big Bad - showing that the side character "weakened" the boss is optional.

Of course, this is generally forgivable if your character is a Super Hero or otherwise possesses extraordinary abilities that would warrant their increased involvement, but it can be jarring to one's Suspension of Disbelief when the plot acts as if you and your AI comrades are of equal skill (such as in most warfare First Person Shooters). One way to justify this is to have all your allies out doing other missions, conveniently far away from you, but sometimes the game may not even try.

Note the relationship with Rule of Fun; the player gets to do these things so there'll be more in the game, but the story will suffer by focusing all the action on one character if executed poorly.

This always involves But Thou Must!: no matter the situation, the player is powerless to turn down these assignments, even if their character should have the choice.

Essentially, this is the video game equivalent of The Only One and The Main Characters Do Everything. Also see One-Man Army, Apathetic Citizens, Led by the Outsider, and Evil Only Has to Win Once. Players who Do The Impossible and beat the odds may lament "Dude, Where's My Respect?" due to no recognition. Not to be confused with All Up to You, where a character is the only one left to stop the villain period.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In the first two Harry Potter video games, Ron and Hermione are basically reduced to doing nothing except constantly saying, "You handle this, Harry. I'll just stand here and be of no use whatsoever." Averted in the third and fourth games, as in the former you can play as all of them and switch between the three, and in the latter, you pick which one you want to play as in each mission.
  • Justified in Darksiders. The Charred Council sends War on a mission to hunt down the Destroyer with only the Watcher as his companion/jailer because they believe he started Armageddon before all Seven Seals were broken. War himself offered to take up this mission to atone for his supposed crime. It's personal for him too — he wants payback on whoever is responsible for his disgrace. Of course, the Council knew all along that War was innocent. They sent War out early on purpose to foil Abaddon's attempt to bend their laws and framed War for triggering Armageddon so he that he would offer to hunt down Abaddon himself. The Council couldn't just order the Horsemen to do it since they have a hard enough time controlling the Horsemen already, and the Horsemen would never agree to serve as common assassins. They chose War for the deed because, according to the backstory, he was the most difficult Horseman to control and had already rebelled against the Council once.
  • Played straight in most games within The Legend of Zelda series where Link has to do all the work to save the day while other games subvert it.
    • While the trope is justified since Link is the Chosen One or Because Destiny Says So and there is no other hero who can take on the evil plaguing the land, there have been a few games where Link has received help from other characters that greatly aid him in his quest and would have not succeeded if it wasn't for them, such as Zelda aiding Link in the final battle against Ganondorf with her Light Arrows in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there are varying reasons why the new Champions are not able to accompany Link inside the Divine Beasts. Riju is still a young child with little to no combat training. Teba was injured from being shot at by Vah Medoh and forced to retreat. It's implied either Yunobo wasn't able to safely board Vah Rudania like Link or was too cowardly to try. For Sidon, he appears to either believe only the original Champions are allowed to board the Divine Beasts or that whatever was inside Vah Ruta that killed his sister was designed to counter the Zora specifically, leaving him more of a liability to Link if he went in.
    • Subverted in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity in an Alternate Timeline. Every Champion, old and new, fights alongside Link to bring down the Blight Ganons and Calamity. Additionally, the final battle has an army of NPCs from every race, and the Divine Beasts, and each is able to contribute.
  • In Yoku's Island Express, Yoku has to do almost everything by himself, as the vast majority of NPCs are either unable or unwilling to help with even the most menial of tasks. Seemingly averted at one point on the Ivory Peaks Trail, when each member of the expedition is sent off to complete a separate fetch quest. However, the others all prove to be incompetent, so once Yoku's own fetch quest is complete, he has to do theirs as well. Averted in a few boss battles, where some NPCs join Yoku for a multiball battle.

    Action Game 
  • LEGO Adaptation Game:
    • In LEGO Star Wars, the character controlled by the player is the only one capable of damaging enemies or using their special abilities (outside of certain specific events in the Story Mode). You could have a party of 6 characters, and all 5 of the ones that aren't controlled by the player could gang up on a single Stormtrooper and pound him for upwards of 20 minutes, but he won't go down until the player-controlled character decides to attack.
    • In LEGO Indiana Jones the allies' attacks can stun enemies, but not kill them. Still useful.
  • Justified in a particularly cruel manner in Ghostbusters: The Video Game. You're always the one who has to go in first whenever there's obvious danger, handle all the grunt work and also get all the neat toys first (and sometimes exclusively). This is because you're the new guy, and thus less valuable than the old hands — if you get killed by whatever obvious danger you find, or the dangerous, experimental technology based on nuclear power and theoretical particle physics ends up melting you into a puddle, they can just hire someone else and it's no huge loss, and why waste the experienced people on turning cranks or the like when you can have the newbie do it? Also averted, to a degree — the other Ghostbusters will fight and defeat enemies with little or no help from you, if it comes to that. One boss in particular is probably most easily defeated by letting the others do the actual fighting, while you act as medic/bait.
    • Later in the game, the rest of the team is captured and the player must find and free them, literally making it up to you until you find the first Ghostbuster.
  • Blast Corps boasts a team of talented demolition experts that are called to action when a truck carrying leaking nuclear missiles is on autopilot and the slightest jolt to the truck will make the missiles explode. However, the "team" in the game are nothing more than words of encouragement to you while you do all the destroying, driving, etc.

    Adventure Game 
  • In Unsolved Crimes for the DS, you're a new rookie in the homicide division working under a veteran detective, Marcy. Though the trope is averted once or twice, it's played ridiculously straight a good chunk of the time - Marcy lets you solve most of the crimes yourself, and even lets you do things on your own without even asking 'are you sure?' that no sane person would let an inexperienced rookie do. Like trying to defuse a bomb with a box of basic tools.
  • Averted in Chronomaster. The PC allies with Anti-Hero Milo, who then heads off alone, captures one of the remaining villains, and conquers a mini-universe by himself. Occasionally, he'll contact you and mention bits of his journey; though you never learn all the details, it's implied to be every bit as epic, puzzle-filled, and Troperrific as yours, complete with Evil Twin. And when it comes time to face the final villain? Well, for Milo... It's Personal.
  • Both played straight and subverted in The Secret of Monkey Island. Though you manage to gather a small crew to go off and rescue Elaine from the ghost pirate LeChuck, when you finally get out to sea they all decide Elaine can take care of herself, leaving you to do absolutely everything while they relax and sunbathe. Then, just as you reach the climax, you find out they were absolutely right, Elaine was perfectly capable of handling herself without you, had already freed herself, and you show up just in time to scare off the monkeys with the root beer she would have used to finish LeChuck off.
  • The Chzo Mythos is susceptible to this. In 7 Days a Skeptic, your role is supposedly ship's councellor and yet you end up running around doing everything, including tasks that should be someone else's responsibility. This is most glaringly apparent with Adam, the engineer, who seems to have no qualms at all in leaving someone far less qualified to take care of things he should be doing, although he's rightly presented as a douche for acting that way. In 6 Days a Sacrifice, you are sent to run around finding guns or looking for vital objects despite nursing some rather severe injuries following a nice little fall down an elevator shaft. Yahtzee both justifies and lampshades this in the 6 Days special edition commentary by pointing out how dull the game would be if the player character could only sit around doing nothing.
  • In the Sierra adventure game Codename: ICEMAN, your character is a spy assigned to a submarine mission, and yet you constantly go around fixing pipes or navigating the sub, despite plenty of crewmates aboard.
  • Roger has a crew, complete with Chief Engineer in the fifth Space Quest game, but as Cliffy is a little accident-prone, you have to handle a lot of maintenance. And in his first game, it was up to him since he was the only survivor of the Sarian attack on the Arcada, and the only one who smuggled out the shutdown codes. In the second game, he was the only one near the Labion system that wasn't loyal to Vohaul. In the sixth game, no one was interested in investigating Stellar's "death" since the wealthy admiral's widow Sharpei was above suspicion. It's lampshaded and justified in the fourth game; the time-traveling La Résistance found Roger and sent him to the Bad Future to stop Vohaul as he was the only one in history who did.
  • In Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop the Rock!, you play the new research intern at Nye Labs, Bill Nye's fictional research complex. After but a few minutes of stepping through the door, you're assigned by Bill Nye himself to solve the riddles poised by the off-the-rails AI controlling MAAX (Meteoroid And Asteroid eXploder) so it will do the job it was programmed to do. Everyone else is only there to support you.
  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary provides a Red Shirt for each and every mission. The number of times said Red Shirt will do anything to protect the landing party during a sudden combat situation is exactly zero. In fact, the only time a Red Shirt will do anything during the game is to sacrifice his own life to save Kirk from a stupid action that would've killed him - delaying a Game Over but costing you a lot of points off your score.
  • In Telltale's The Walking Dead, the player character will be disproportionately tasked with doing a lot of things despite often being in a decently-sized group of survivors. This gets especially ridiculous during Season 2, where Clementine becomes the main character: the amount of times a party of grown adults defers to an eleven-year-old girl to take charge in dangerous and complicated situations is downright comical. Justified occasionally in instances where Clementine is best suited to the task at hand (she is the smallest and sneakiest person in the group), but not always, and when it isn't, this trope is absolutely egregious. This is lampshaded by Clementine at various times, who can react with a dejected but accepting "Why does it always have to be me" reaction.

    Card Game 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2011 plays this painfully straight with team tournaments that have a defeated player be replaced by their partner, but with the field and opponent's hand untouched, allowing the new teammate to use cards set down by their ally. However, in any of these tournaments, it's an automatic game over if you lose. Even if you have the field set up so any idiot can win on the next turn, your "highly-skilled" allies that are supposed to appear after you if you lose will somehow manage to lose anyway. And since the plot requires you to win, this nets you a game over.

    Driving Game 
  • Rescue the Band, a rather addictive game on Ok Go's website, does this in a rather funny manner (i.e. you're the only one who can save the band from Swedish nycelharpa players), but it still makes you wonder "Why am I the only person in the world who can do this? Am I just the only one that cares? Why doesn't anybody hear the band members' shouts of terror? Why?"

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Doom is arguably the Trope Namer, as the manual explicitly titles a section of the story so far "It's Up To You." Then again, anyone else who could have helped you out is already dead.
    • Doom II plays it straight. There is mention of a few survivors left on Earth after Hell invades, but none of them bother to lend a hand to our intrepid Space Marine - ostensibly, anyone else who could fight is either protecting the ship carrying the rest of humanity or already went the way of the other marines on Phobos - leaving him to open the way for their escape vessel and kick all of Hell's ass by his lonesome.
    • In Doom³, everybody in Mars City either dies immediately when the invasion stards, or eventually in a cutscene or offscreen altogether. Only the Player Character has the power to do anything about the situation.
  • Averted in Star Wars: Republic Commando. While the game lets you hack the consoles and plant the explosives yourself while your squad covers you, you can order one of your teammates to do the job himself while you and the rest of the team cover him. Only a small part of the game forces you to go solo and do everything yourself. Even in those sections, it's stated that your squadmates are off doing other necessary tasks - splitting up to cover more of the ship in the second mission and splitting off to man separate anti-aircraft turrets at the end of the third - so you're still not doing everything.
  • Aliens vs. Predator 2 for PC has the Marine character separated from his comrades for most of the game, with the most egregious part where one part of your team is dragged to the local hive and only your character goes to rescue them. The rest... sit in the APC and do nothing but occasionally comment on what you're seeing via your camera.
  • When playing with bots in the single-player mode of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, unless the player knows beforehand to change the match options before the match or what console commands to input during it, it is the player's responsibility to defuse any planted bombs. Often results in an absurd situation where the player is at the other end of the map unable to reach the bomb in time, and the AI comrades allow it to blow up in their faces rather than simply defuse it themselves (and it's not like the player is the only one who is capable of doing it, since the bots have no problem doing it themselves if the player is dead).
  • All Halo games use this trope aggressively, but it does make sense, seeing that you're always playing as a Super-Soldier (or some other type of elite special forces veteran) with the Master Chief himself being a super-elite raised-from-childhood version.
    • There is a curious example: In Halo: Combat Evolved, the player must always be the driver of the Warthog, and can never man the gun in the rear except by having a second player to drive, which was much to the annoyance of many players. This was rectified in the sequel, where a highly-touted feature promised that your comrades would be capable of driving vehicles while you use the machine guns in the back. That said, you're still better off doing the driving yourself, since allied NPCs have a terrible sense of direction and are only really decent at driving during segments that were outright designed around it.
    • Lampshaded in Halo 3. After Johnson fails at life again and you have to do his job for him, the mission is called "If You Want It Done Right..."
    • It's more prevalent in Halo: Reach, where the player is the one saving the trapped Army troopers, hunting the Elite Zealots, destroying the anti-air guns and Spire, flying into space, etc, when your allies this time are Spartans who should be equally capable of those feats (that said, they're usually either directly by your side or implied to be off doing other important missions themselves). Some, like the space mission, are justified, as the main character has a background in piloting and various black ops missions, and the teammate who accompanies you once you land again refuses to let you stay behind to set off the bomb because it's a one-way trip.
  • The Marathon games aren't quite up to having falls damage the player, and lampshades it by making you the only member of your team capable of surviving the fall into the setting of one mission.
    "Up the stairs from your current location is a ventilation shaft that leads to the underground geothermal station. Because only you would survive the fall, you're going on this mission solo."
  • F.E.A.R. is a major offender. You're part of a team of operatives, none of whom ever assist you, and the game contrives reasons to keep you on your own. Strangely, it's your supposed "escort" in Delta Force that ends up working together with you more than your own teammates; Jankowski only sticks with you for a mission in which nothing happens and then disappears, and Jin simply doesn't have combat training and is instead called in to find out how various people died, while the Delta operator Holiday blows through a wall to get to where you need to go at one point, extracts a hostage (unsuccessfully, but at least they actually try to do so rather than making you do it), and fights together with you across a level or two in Extraction Point.
    • In Perseus Mandate, your allies at least help you fight through the first introductory level before they end up separated from you for most of the rest of the game, and the one time you actually stick together with either of them after that point he immediately gets eaten by a floor-ghost.
    • Played with in FEAR 2: Reborn. At the beginning (after a few firefights along with your fellow Replica) the rest of your squad disappears and you're assaulted by ghosts (unlike most of the Player Characters, Foxtrot 813 actually speaks and is noticeably shaken by this sudden loss of contact). After the ghosts are gone you realise you were actually shooting at your squad and have become Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • Resistance: Fall of Man is another case where it's justified by your character being superhuman. You do get to fight alongside the rest of the army for a level or two, but then the Chimera dump a million little bugs to simply infect everyone; your character's unique reaction to The Virus causes him to start developing some of the abilities of the Chimera without actually turning into one.
    • Averted in Resistance 2, where you often fight alongside more superhumans like yourself... and sometimes end up doing some significant but decidedly non-primary side task, like rescuing squadmates or recovering the viral inhibitors that keep you and them from going full Chimera, while your main squad does the primary work. The usual ends up happening in one of the last cases, however, where one of your last surviving squadmates is given the duty of escorting a Big, Bulky Bomb that will destroy the Chimera warship, only to die offscreen and force you to catch up with it before the Chimera dump it out the side of the ship.
  • Partially subverted in Tron 2.0. 3/4ths of the way through the game, you finally manage to fight your way to the throne room of the Big Bad, Master User Thorne, only to discover the leader of the Redshirt Army has already beaten you to it and even managed to kill the Big Bad for you. Of course, because he's a Knight Templar, he proceeds to challenge you to a duel to the death as well.
    • But also Justified by the universe setting. Users (humans) are almost Physical Gods in cyberspace, and with a corrupted User unleashing a Zombie Apocalypse all over the digital world, Ma3a figured the only thing that could stop a User was a User. Jet was also immune to Thorne's plague, whereas no Program could take a hit without becoming a Zombie Infectee. Worse, the Knight Templar Kernel had also flagged Ma3a as an enemy, and Ma3a's agent, Mercury, was de-rezzed when the Encom server reformatted, leaving Jet as her only line of defense. Also given more justification in the last third of the game where F-Con uploads an army of Datawraiths (digitized human mercenaries). Programs worship human Users and are relatively powerless against them while Jet, another User, can go toe-to-toe with them and survive.
  • Half-Life:
    • Gordon Freeman, a young brunette scientist with a crowbar and bad eyesight, turns out to be a more effective warrior than any number of security guards, spec-ops forces, camo-suited assassins, or highly augmented transhuman soldiers. When it comes to bringing an end to the Black Mesa incident and the Combine occupation of Earth, much of the heavy lifting ultimately falls to him. Though it certainly helps that he's protected from grievous harm by his HEV suit, and Half-Life 2 does establish that the fight to free Earth is a group effort between Gordon, the other surviving scientists from Black Mesa, and the greater Resistance, who manage to start an uprising against the Combine after Gordon disappears at Nova Prospekt.
      • Lampshaded when Breen dresses down the Overwatch army, reminding them that Gordon is not a supersoldier, just an ordinary man and a mediocre physicist who had barely even earned the distinction of what his actual career path was intended to be before the Black Mesa incident happened.
    • The expansions to the original Half-Life have this as well. In Half-Life: Opposing Force, Adrian Shephard ends up being the one to lead his fellow soldiers to safety and solo defeat several large aliens infesting the Black Mesa facility, despite being a mere Corporal who's equipped with the same powered armor vest as his allies. Meanwhile in Half-Life: Blue Shift, Barney Calhoun is the only security guard who can help out Dr. Rosenberg and his group with their plan to teleport out of Black Mesa, as every other guard on their side of the facility is conveniently deceased.
  • Semi-averted in Crysis and Crysis: Warhead, as your team is an elite force equipped with state-of-the-art nanosuits. At one point your team is split in two; Crysis follows the adventures of one group and Warhead the other, and you get snatches of what the other group is up to whilst carrying on with your own objectives. The two groups' activities are shown to be supporting one another's objectives.
  • Justified in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, where the characters you control are responsible, via the plot, for various actions. Soap is the squad's dedicated marksman, and so gets the sniper rifle; Jackson is the squad Sergeant, and therefore leads the charge on flanking actions while the Lieutenant sets up the base of fire (he also takes over the Javelin missile launcher only because the soldier who was supposed to use it gets killed); Lieutenant Price takes the sniper shot on the big bad because Captain MacMillan already gave up control of the sniper rifle (snipers switch off after a certain period of time to prevent eye strain). The fact you personally have to lead the advance, since the enemies will respawn infinitely otherwise is just there, don't think about it.
    • Then again... The first part of a particular mission involves rescuing SSgt. Griggs, both out of a "no man left behind" mentality and also due to the fact that Griggs supposedly has the C4 required to blow up an electricity pylon. Who has to actually plant the C4 on the pylon? Hint: Not Griggs.
    • In the multiplayer mode "Search and Destroy", both teams take turns either defending the objective or trying to blow it up. There is no respawning, so if the rest of the team dies you'll hear "It's all up to you!" or a similar phrase. This can lead to epic failure when you get killed or you single-handedly kill every member of the enemy team and defuse the bomb. There's even a challenge for doing this, "Enemy of the State."
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 uses the trope, but doesn't manage to justify it as well, and it quickly became a meme that Ramirez can (and does) do everything. Fortunately, the removal of infinitely-respawning enemies at least allow you to not require moving forward until the enemies are dead, and there are even cases where your allies alone might be able to kill most of the enemies.
  • Played completely straight in Call of Duty: World at War. Not only does it fall to you to take point and destroy the important targets and so on, when you have to defend against the counter-attack after taking the airfield, none of the NPCs make use of the fixed machine guns and AA cannons available to yourself. And in the flying boat level, the gunner on the other side will even give up his spot in order to let you shoot on the side with the most targets. Possibly lampshaded for the Russians, as at the end of the game, Sergeant Reznov will tell your character "As long as you live, the heart of this army can never be broken."
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes during the first Okinawa level. Your character is the one with the heavy machine gun and the satchel charges and the flamethrower. If anything had happened to him (and considering how much unstable ordnance he was carrying, that's very likely - there's exactly one other Marine in the entire campaign that uses a flamethrower and doesn't pay the price for it in two seconds), the squad would have been screwed.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops, meanwhile, was discovered to have actual competent friendly AI; at least one person on YouTube recorded himself playing through the entire first level without firing a shot that wasn't explicitly designated for them (one of which still involves the big one of shooting Castro...'s body double).
  • Lampshaded in Star Trek: Elite Force II when one of the Hazard Team members rhetorically asks why every single mission inevitably comes down to Lt. Munroe going off on his own and accomplishing their goal single-handedly.
  • Played straight in Battlefield 1942, to the point that it was the only complaint reviewers had. But it was so much worse in Battlefield Vietnam, it seemed like a parody. While the player was supposedly as good as anyone else, in single-player mode, it was possible to single-handedly capture the enemy's main base, but your own bases would fall like dominoes as your bot teammates failed to hold the line.
  • Embarrassingly obvious in Red Faction. Your character is just a random miner, yet you have to do everything because your allies have about a ten-second life span when confronted with enemies. And even if you manage to save some of the nameless grunts, they will refuse to advance with you. Out of the entire resistance, only one person seen on screen survives to the end.
  • Downplayed in the campaign mode of Star Wars: Battlefront II. Only you can capture the command posts and do other mission objectives. However, your allies can prove useful in killing surrounding enemies and you will also capture the command posts much faster when you have your allies with you. Simply played straight in other modes with bots, however, wherein you are the sole competent soldier on your side.
  • Somewhat averted in the somewhat obscure, early Unreal Engine 2 game Devastation. Your teammates could be surprisingly effective in the early missions, able to make their way from the beginning to the end of the level without any assistance from the player. They could even be ordered to charge ahead instead of lulling around behind the player. The only limiter on their A.I. was the fact they'd stop moving if they got too far ahead of you, to stop them from outright completing the entire level without you. This does break down in the later missions, which turn into "capture the flag" style team vs team battle where you're somehow the only person on your team able to shut down the enemy respawner.
  • The survivor AI in both Left 4 Dead games are quite limited on what they can do. They move with you, shoot any zombies nearby, grab guns and items as needed, heal you when needed, and help revive you should you go down. Survivor AI will never use bomb items, activate switches, or pick up and use gas cans in finales that require it, forcing the human player to do all the work.
    • Likewise, the friendly AI in PAYDAY: The Heist will give cover fire and help revive you, but you have to do all the objectives yourself as well as tying down hostages.
  • In Quake IV, this is averted in the first half and justified in the second - the technical things that go beyond pushing a button are handed to your technician, your explosives expert disarms the mines, etc. and Kane simply has to protect them. After the second half and Kane's partial Stroggification, he becomes the only person who can access various bits of Strogg technology and is still loyal to humanity, making him their best hope at turning the war around.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: surprisingly averted at times, as the NPC Stalkers that populate the game's landscape are actually out doing things, and it's not impossible that some random NPC will complete a sidequest for you if you leave it alone long enough. Reportedly, before the developers toned down the AI's intelligence in early game builds, it was fully capable of beating the game without the player actually doing anything.

    Hack and Slash 
  • In Dynasty Warriors, whether you play as a random general or the army's commander, you will almost certainly have to go out and kill every enemy officer yourself. Same goes for bases.
    • DW6E doesn't even get it completely right, as if you decide not to defend against an invasion on your territory in Ruler Mode, you automatically lose it. However, it is (in theory, at least) more than possible to use this to one's advantage for a pacifist Empires mode victory.
    • Although, Samurai Warriors Chronicles uses a 4-man squad system where the player controls all 4 characters during the battle. The only times the trope is played straight is if all but one party member are killed and during the Western Army's version of Sekigahara where Sakon is killed and Mistunari and Yoshihiro retreat, leaving you to either retreat or rush the Eastern Army's main camp. Though this can be averted on a second playthrough where you can use any character you've unlocked for the mission.

  • Untwisted in Guild Wars: Factions, when regular civilians will take the initiative and attack enemies in the area, often before you do. However, this almost always ends with the low-leveled civilian getting destroyed by the much stronger enemy.
  • The MMORPG Wizard101 has headmaster Merle Ambrose telling you that Malistaire is up to stuff that might destroy the entire Spiral - but far be it from the high-powered head of the school to shut down the school for a few weeks and run off to stop the Big Bad himself: It's up to you. Why he thinks it's a good idea to put this grand task in the hands of a first-year student is anyone's guess, but the way in which It's Up To You is stressed makes it very hard for an adult player to keep their Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Zig-Zagged with Star Wars: The Old Republic, where your character ends up being the only one who can pull off the quest for one Hand Wave or another, but justified heavily in the case of the Jedi classes. The Knight is The Chosen One that Lord Scourge personally saw killing the Omnicidal Maniac Emperor. And the Consular, in the first act, learns a Force technique from an artifact that can cure several crazed Jedi Masters of a Hate Plague, but the artifact is destroyed minutes after in a failed attempt at Genre Savvy by the Act 1 Big Bad.
    • Regardless of your class, the game does establish early on that you've been selected because you're outstanding in your field. Zig-zagged with the Sith Inquisitor, who, despite being inducted into training due to their strong control over the force, is told by their instructor that they're a worthless slave who is doomed to fail (though said instructor is a bigot that you end up repeatedly proving wrong and humiliating).
    • This is played with for a few classes. The Inquisitor, Smuggler, and Bounty Hunter get pulled into major events at the very end of their plots, but for the most part, their stories are entirely personal, and other than their direct enemies and allies, nobody cares.
  • Both averted and played straight in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor when your character takes command of a garrison. On the one hand, you can actually send your personal followers on missions in your stead, and story-wise these are often the same as the quests or dungeons you as the player do. On the other hand, in quests, even ones related to the garrison, someone is still always telling you to run around doing everything yourself. If your garrison has sent out a scouting party, for example, when you go out to meet them in the field, you're sure to be made to do the scouting yourself.
  • Played straight in Final Fantasy XIV. Your character is The Chosen One, and even though there is a whole organization of Chosen Ones, you are still on the hook for accomplishing every major task (which is Hand Waved by the chief giving other members supporting missions, making them unavailable). At one point this gets parodied as you have two members of the organization with you on what is a purely diplomatic endeavor that requires you to dance for the amusement of the other group. One of your partners suddenly develops a cramp, so you still have to do it yourself.
  • Justified in The Secret World. Though it's established that there are plenty of magical specialists, supernatural beings, and Badass Normal types who are more experienced than you, quest-givers entrust you with everything because a) you're effectively invincible and b) you're immune to the Filth, unlike everyone else. Plus, it's also established that your faction of choice has sent other agents besides you into the field - I mean, what do you think all those other players are up to?

    Party Game 
  • Mario Party DS: The only way to advance in the Story Mode is if you, the player, are the winner of the series's signature battles royale that make up much of the chapters. If one of the CPU players is the winner, a cutscene plays where the character goes off to fight the boss of the chapter... only to fail miserably, followed by a message that reads something along the lines of: "(Character) could not defeat (Boss)! Only you can defeat (Boss)!" There's a slight humor factor in watching Mario or Luigi going off to fight Bowser only to lose because either Toad or Waluigi are the only ones allowed to fight Bowser and actually win.

    Platform Game 
  • In Psychonauts, for a while it seems reasonable that Raz is the only one around who can stop the evil plot. The other campers, who were too wrapped up in their own personal dramas to notice all the weird stuff going on, have all been kidnapped and de-brained. The camp counselors aren't there, and the one adult who could possibly help isn't able to leave a certain area of the camp. By process of elimination, you're left. However, even when the other campers get their brains back, they're still unwilling to help you, for reasons such as getting pedicures or making out. While each rescued camper grants you some extra mental protection, only 5 actually offer to do anything more: Maloof and Mikhail sabotage the coach's car (good as a contingency plan, but it doesn't help you right now), Chloe calls for help (but she thinks Earth is doomed, so she's just trying to get off the planet), and Chops and J.T. patrol the cabins (which helps in case the coach shows up, or the assorted psychic wild animals attack, but they're nowhere near the front lines of this conflict). Unfortunately, that still means you're stuck having to confront the bosses by yourself.
  • The player character in Drawn to Life is designed to save the village from the Big Bad. Fair enough, he has to be the one to traverse the dangerous levels to free the Raposa, as Jowee shows how inept the Raposa themselves are at it in one level. But why does he also have to do absolutely everything else as well, including gathering up characters, and playing messenger delivery service to the NPC's when they could just as easily do that at least for themselves?
  • Averted in Super Mario 64. The Toads that are trapped in the castle are very helpful, as they gladly give Mario a Power Star if one of them has one.
  • Justified in Spyro the Dragon, since you're the only Dragon that hasn't been turned to crystal. Also, in Spyro: Year of the Dragon, Spyro is the only dragon who can safe the dragon eggs, since he is the only one small enough to fit through the hole. It isn't explained though why Hunter is able to find eggs, yet make it so difficult for Spyro to get them.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog, once the franchise made the leap to 3D, plays the trope straight when you have partners following you. Your allies just mimic your movements and they don't bother attacking enemies. It's up to you to do all the attacking.
  • In Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future, Ecco is apparently the only dolphin even slightly concerned about the earthquake's possible effects on other sea creatures. Also, no one else in the Guardian's region even tried to find its lost shards before Ecco came along.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In the first Myst game, you're on your own, but in Riven Atrus asks you to journey to another world, rescue his wife, and capture the villain (in this case there is a reason: he is busy, quite literally keeping that world from falling apart). In Myst III: Exile you pursue an intruder, leaving Atrus behind, later to find he was trapped by a fire that destroyed the Linking Book (and, presumably, the Descriptive Book to that same Age...). In Myst IV: Revelation, he is stranded by an electrical storm, leaving you with the task of rescuing his kidnapped child (initially, it looks as if the task falls to you because he was out shopping). It's been speculated that the series had to be brought to an end because there was a limited number of times you could plausibly pull Atrus's goodies out of the fire.
  • The DoorBot, Fentible, straight up says this to you at the beginning of Starship Titanic, going on to say that due to the ship's central intelligence having been sabotaged, neither he nor the rest of the robot crew can figure out the problems on board the ship. Still makes it rather convenient that the ship happened to crash into a human's house.
  • In The Day the World Broke, when Earth does break, Julius and Bud have to stay in the control room to keep it stable enough for you to survive, leaving you to go into the Earth's core to find out what's gumming up the works, and fix it.
  • In The Labyrinth of Time, after Daedalus rips you out of normal reality at the beginning, he asks you to destroy the titular labyrinth that he has been forced to build by King Minos. Daedalus trusts you because his spirit is held captive by Minos, leaving him unable to fight back himself.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • It was actually averted in a few levels of Ogre Battle 64. In fact, if you don't move fast enough, a unit not directly under your command can win the battle for you. At the very least, they can hold their own and kill more enemies than any of your units (although there's never more than one extra unit).
  • Kinda averted in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3. In my experience, your AI teammate rarely needs bailing out (playing on Normal). Obviously, if you're playing with a human co-commander, you're both more or less equally important in completing missions. Emphasis on "Playing on Normal". In the later levels, the enemy AI can get pretty brutal while the allied CO remains basically the same, resulting in levels where if you fail to complete your objectives quickly enough your allied CO will be eviscerated. By enemies you've been holding off just fine, while also attacking, thank you very much. The computer is literally fighting itself and losing.
  • In Ogre Battle, Destin is the leader of the Rebellion, and solely his actions / stats determine the endings. This is despite the fact that he will recruit characters with far bigger stakes in the Rebellion than him, and far bigger beefs against the Empire, but it's Destin who chooses who becomes the next King in the end, and killing Destin is all that is needed to end the rebellion.
  • GrimGrimoire is an amusing example, where the main character Lillet Blan finds herself trapped in a persistent "Groundhog Day" Loop, repeating the five days leading up to a powerful mage killing everyone at her school of magic. Due to being a complete novice, she spends the first few times around informing her teachers of what's going on—inevitably leading them to screw things up even worse than before. She gets the hint eventually.
  • World in Conflict. You start out as a mere Lieutenant, but Sawyer puts a lot of trust into you right away. Granted, the other officer, Captain Bannon, isn't good for most of the game, but Sawyer doesn't even really give him a chance until the 4th mission (where he fails, but his target was defended better than yours, and further away). And even after Sawyer gets his old friend Webb as a replacement for Bannon, you're still the one that does all the important stuff.
    • It is implied that they are currently doing other things in the current operation and it's a plot point that your Battalion is undermanned and undersupplied.
  • While the campaign of Dawn of War 2 is not a complete example, as proper use of allies is essential to victory, it still remains that a dozen Space Marines are required to defend three planets from an Ork WAAAGH!, Eldar incursions and a friggin' Tyranid Hive Fleet. Partially justified by a) the Chapter suffering a horrific defeat that depleted their numbers, so it really is All Up To You, and b) anything in Warhammer 40,000 being notorious for its Unreliable Narrators and the whole thing playing like one big propaganda film, leaving one with the impression the numbers weren't quite so one-sided as the game depicts.
  • In the penultimate mission of Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, your task force (admittedly, it has been expanded) has to face the toughest battle of the entire game, with entire fleets of enemy ships periodically arriving to ruin your day. The thing is, the cutscene for this part of the game showed a combined fleet of hundreds of warships being sent. And yet you're the only one tasked with dealing with the threat. Yes, you do get occasional reinforcements, but they are either too weak (a couple of dinky frigates that go down from a few good hits) or powerful but just one (an allied battleship, but only if you completed a secondary objective much earlier in the game). The strategic map does suggest they're "busy elsewhere". It's just strange that they left only a token force to guard the likely point of arrival for enemy reinforcements, if they knew they were coming.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The majority of the wasteland's population in both Caravaneer games will not do anything to push the story, leaving the player to take charge.
  • Averted for most of Defiance, with the exception of the Final Boss, and even then it's pretty well Justified. Most of the campaign has you working with one or more NPC characters, a lot of whom are way more experienced than you, and you have an entire team working with you as you fight your way through Dark Matter's base of operations at the end. However, as it's pointed out the Big Bad has an insanely powerful EGO Implant, which basically makes him a One-Man Army. Since you are the only other person in a hundred miles with your own EGO Implant, you're the only person who can even try to stand up to him, while your teammates would only get themselves killed in the process. Instead, they opt to Hold the Line against any reinforcements, ensuring it stays a one-on-one fight.
  • In Mass Effect, you are tasked with hunting down Saren and his associates for most of the storyline. However, your superiors back on Earth will call you up all the time and ask you to do all sorts of missions. Despite humanity having a pretty decent fleet (as shown at the end), apparently none of them are ever available to take care of any of this stuff. It's as bad as the USS Enterprise always being the "only ship in the quadrant".
    • In their defense, you're the only human Spectre in the galaxy, and most of those missions they send you on take place in a hostile part of the galaxy where no Citadel race can officially send their military without possibly starting a war with all those rebellious races in the area. So by sending you, they can deny having given you any official orders, since Shepard can really do anything (s)he wants. In the first and second games, it's also made clear that one of the main reasons everything always falls to you is because of your ship: it has prototype stealth technology that makes it undetectable and thus able to get to locations that no other ship could (at least, not without starting a war).
    • One such mission takes place on the Moon. Yes. Earth's moon. There's a good reason, though. Namely, the hostile VI has killed everyone else on the base.
    • Frustratingly blatant in the the third game, where numerous lore tidbits indicate that everyone from the ramshackle quarians to the high-tech salarians have access to the stealth-tech that used to make the Normandy the only ship capable of undertaking certain missions. Every faction also has special forces teams as capable as Shepard's, in the form of, among others, the multiplayer teams that can be added to the war assets in single-player mode. Despite this, everyone from the krogan to the quarians to the asari are content to just let you do all the work in various decisive encounters, even if the task of clearing out a few dozen enemy combatants or pointing a laser designator at a target could've been done by any other capable special forces team in the galaxy by that point.
    • Justified with Ryder in Mass Effect: Andromeda, in two ways. One, s/he is the only person capable of working the old and slightly broken terraforming technology that an advanced race left lying around, including the people who've been sitting on it for centuries. Or more accurately, Ryder's AI partner SAM does the legwork. If Ryder tries doing it themselves, they'll kill themselves from the strain. Two, because the Initiative really doesn't have the manpower to spare: their population at the start of the game is explicitly far less than a single good-sized city, only a fraction of whom are soldiers, and the few combatants they have are barely enough to maintain security, much less actually undertake any sort of offensive action. Thus, a One-Man Army and his team really are decisive here.
  • In Jade Empire, this trope makes perfect sense most of the time. You are the only Spirit Monk left, so you are the only one capable of defeating a lot of the challenges placed before you.
    • The concept is also deconstructed in an early quest, where you have to heal Kia Min's injury in order to get her to participate in a competition. You can give her an ointment that actually does heal her, or one that just dulls the pain; the latter means she'll be an easier target, but she'll aggravate her injury and become crippled for life. If you then tell her what you did, she will call you out on it. You can then inform her that she has only herself to blame, as she was the one who placed the responsibility of her own health in your hands, thus allowing you to manipulate the situation to your own benefit; had she actually dealt with her problem herself, she could have made sure that it had been handled the way she wanted. In fact, many "Closed Fist" quest solutions carry an undertone of "make people solve their own problems, even if they'll hate you for it", and one of your trainers suggests that an immoral Open Palm practitioner could solve people's problems for the sole purpose of making them dependent on them.
  • The other members of the Wigglytuff's guild in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness/Time only exist to talk and get some hints, and they do nothing to advance the plot, even when they go to missions like the player.
    • Semi-averted in the Deluxe version, Explorers of Sky, which adds a playable backstory, missions, and possibly epilogues for all of the guild members. It's all still up to the player, but at least you get to control the NPCs.
    • There's slightly more justification for this in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, due to the hero being the sole remainder of The Chosen Many who can stand up to the entity that's threatening the world. Doesn't change the fact that the members of your team are only ones that even bother trying to help out, though.
  • Pokémon: Every main series game features this— why is it that it's always a kid with level 20 Pokémon that saves an area from trouble while there are plenty of adults with Level 25 Pokémon just a few steps down the road and, of course, Gym Leaders and the Elite Four? However, this was averted once in Pokémon Gold and Silver, as Lance of the Elite Four group shows up at the same time as you to clear a power plant of Team Rocket members. A good "you take that one, I'll take this one" combined effort commences. This is also averted in Pokémon Sword and Shield, the champion Leon deals with most of the serious problems himself and Team Yell, the 'evil' team, is more a nuisance than a threat.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 has a justified example. There are three members of SEES more experienced than the protagonist, but Akihiko is too injured to explore, Yukari is too timid to summon her Persona reliably, and Mitsuru is the only one with a Persona suitable for Mission Control. (A later recruit is, naturally, annoyed by someone only slightly more experienced than him being in charge.) Later their reasons change to "wanting to focus on fighting, not strategy," "being content with the way things are," and "being overloaded by work already", respectively.
      • In The Answer, Aigis is dubbed party leader because she has the Wild Card ability, much to Yukari's chagrin.
    • Persona 4 plays it the same way, except that, with the Wild Card being the only one who could enter the world inside the TV to begin with, the others are completely comfortable with you taking point.
  • Gothic doesn't try to hide the fact that your nameless character was chosen randomly to move the planned events of the different camps to their conclusion, then save the world. Being given a message for the Magicians of the Circle of Fire at the beginning of the game does not motivate the plot much at all, and serves just to give the player some initial goal.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Played straight in general throughout the series. In many, many cases, it's almost as if Quest Givers are simply waiting around for the Player Character to come along. Granted, this can be considered Justified by the fact that the player character is always the Hero of the Age, foretold by prophecy and "blessed" with the ability to rule their own fate (also the justification for the players involvement), so effectively superhuman.
    • Averted in the Daggerfall main quest, where you're just some bloke that the Emperor decided to send on a quest. It's possible that you're the only one he trusts enough to go on such a sensitive mission (in the intro, he repeatedly emphasizes his close friendship with you), but there's no overwhelming reason why he couldn't have sent someone else.
    • Depending on your interpretation of the events of the main quest in Morrowind, one can consider this averted or subverted. A bit past halfway through the main quest, you enter a cave filled with the spirits of other "chosen ones" who failed. Each fit the initial criteria of the prophecy ("Born on a certain day, to uncertain parents, etc.), but all died before they could fulfill it entirely. This implies that there isn't necessarily a chosen "one", but that anyone who fits the criteria can become the chosen one. It is also possible that the divine patron of the chosen one, the Daedric Prince Azura, simply made up all of the prophecy stuff in order to find a mortal to her dirty work for her.
  • Double Subverted at the end of Final Fantasy IV. After fighting your way through The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, you reach the Big Bad only to find that The Mentor and The Dragon have already beaten you to him. The two of them team up to fight the Big Bad, and actually manage to kill the guy without any participation whatsoever from your party. Of course, the deceased Big Bad then transforms into a One-Winged Angel and destroys them, leading to the game's real final battle between him and your party.
  • Averted in Final Fantasy VI as the Party is completely self-composed, no one really sets themselves out as a leader type, and you can even finish the game without re-recruiting the Main Character Terra.
    • Though if you do so, she rejoins your party just before the last battle, anyway.
    • Also played straight in that the party are the only ones that actually do anything. An evil Empire threatens the entire world? The main cast are the only ones that make much effort to fight against it and are the only ones that actually make any headway fighting against it, everybody else quickly surrenders or ends up dead, including the resistance group dedicated to stopping it. An insane God of Magic ruins the world and then blasts everybody left alive on a whim? The main cast are the only ones who even try to stop him while everybody else is too busy just surviving in this ruined planet to even contribute in any way.
  • Half Lampshaded half Played for Drama in Final Fantasy VIII as Squall is made leader of Balamb Garden, and as a matter of course the party. While Cid does this because he knows how competent Squall is, Squall himself feels insecure and agonizes over it, as he is generally uncomfortable in a leading position.
  • In Final Fantasy X you do meet other summoners who are also going through the Pilgrimage with the eventual goal of defeating Sin. True to this trope's form, however, they all give up before the end, requiring your party to do the deed. It's for the best, however, as the other summoners would have just continued the cycle of Sin.
    • And later, totally Justified. Your party tells Yunalesca to go Screw Destiny, and send her to the afterlife, which closes off the Senseless Sacrifice option. We also figure out who Sin really is, what Tidus really is, and why Auron is along for the ride, which means they were the only ones who could end this mess once and for all.
  • Final Fantasy XII averts this the hardest in the series yet, the effective main character Vaan is completely overshadowed by the later acquired characters Ashe and Basch, even the self-proclaimed leading man Balthier plays more of a supporting role. This combined with the Wide-Open Sandbox approach widely contrast its rather linear predecessor FFX, and the sudden movement away from traditional turn-based battling to real-time command-based gameplay with AI-controlled party caused the fanbase to be rather divided in their opinion on whether or not the series had taken a step in the right direction.
  • Used in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. The player character is a newborn vampire, and yet is apparently the only agent Prince LaCroix has available. This is, however, thoroughly justified; LaCroix has only just taken over the city and his control of the older, stronger vampires is precarious at best (and if he orders them to do something and they refuse, it will only weaken his authority further), the player character is still young and weak enough to be easily Dominated into doing any tasks he doesn't want to do, and LaCroix is actively trying to get the player killed by giving them the most dangerous jobs. You can actually call him out on this at one point and ask him why he doesn't send the absolutely terrifying Sheriff to kill a bunch of Sabbat instead of little old you; he'll respond that he needs the Sheriff to guard headquarters. Other quest-givers generally have something at least approaching a justification for not doing whatever it is themselves (squeamish and lacking combat skills, politically dangerous to be directly associated with the problem, etc).
  • Completely averted in Depths of Peril - Any and all quests are handed out to the PC and any NPC adventurers. They will happily go off, kill the bad guys, rescue the damsel in distress and collect the reward if you're not fast enough.
  • Deconstructed in Planescape: Torment: The story is that of The Nameless One's quest for his identity, something that you're obviously not going to get many other people working on, and the reason you lead is that The Nameless One bears the Mark of Torment, binding his compatriots' destinies to his own and unconsciously compelling them to follow him whether they like it or not - and that's if they weren't consciously compelled by the Practical Incarnation.
  • Averted in Fallout Tactics; the main character doesn't have to do anything except accepting missions and collecting promotions. Anyone on the team can snipe that mook, pick that lock, disarm that bomb, or pilot that vehicle.
    • In the first two Fallouts, if a party member had a higher skill in something than you, they would attempt to do the task in your stead. Unfortunately, they were rarely better than you (if you specialized in something), let alone good enough to perform any of the tasks requested. Typically, that meant you had to do anything important.
    • This trope is frustratingly blatant towards the end of Fallout when it's clear that a full invasion of the Cathedral by the then-numerous and heavily armed Brotherhood of Steel would have led to a quick victory over the Master's defenses. The Elders of the Brotherhood seem more than happy to just sit back and make you do all the work, not even allowing you access to their vast weapons stockpiles as they send you on your way to face the Super Mutant army.
    • Fallout 3: For the final quest (if Broken Steel is installed), you have to singlehandedly infiltrate and destroy the Enclave's airbase, unless you have a follower and/or Dogmeat with you.
    • Also from Fallout 3, the original ending (without the later DLC) had the Player Character receive a lethal dose of radiation to complete the final mission in a But Thou Must! sacrifice scenario. Problem was, the player character's companions include a Super Mutant (impervious to radiation), a ghoul (radiation is beneficial to their health), and a number of other, not-you companions that could have done the job just as well.
    • Mostly played straight in Fallout: New Vegas, as a good Courier has to do everything for the peoples of the wastes from wiping out raider bases to solving the issue of polluted water to negotiating terms between towns for trade and annexation to talking drug addicts into going in for treatment. If they don't, the ending slides reveal that a lot of these things simply never get done. It's a downplayed example compared to the other 3D games of the series, though. A few times it's actually subverted; for example, while the NCRCF seems like a dungeon that would need to be cleared out by the player, the New California Republic Army will actually send a force there to kill all the raiders if you begin "I Fought The Law" without your help; ditto the Khan raiders in "Boulder City Showdown" and Nephi's Fiend raiders in "Three-Card Bounty" (if that happened, then the ending slides will also explain that the NCR wiped out the rest of the Fiends and repulsed the Legion's attacks throughout the wasteland).
    • Fallout 4 justifies this to a certain extent, the player character is made the leader of the Minutemen because the faction is down to only surviving member whose confidence to lead is utterly crushed by that fact, and Non Player Characters in settlements will do work if assigned to it. However, the settlements still require the player to run around gathering resources, planting fruits and vegetables for the settlers to work on, providing water, shelter, beds, and arming settlers, building turrets and other defenses as well personally instead of any of the settlers ever doing so themselves. In fact, the player once had to even defend all settlements when they are attacked themselves or would definitely lose said settlement regardless of the equipment loadout given to settlers or defenses put up before a patch allowed settlements with sufficient defenses to save themselves.
  • In Tales of Hearts, the main characters and the Church of Valeia are the only ones who have a magical Soma weapon. Now, a Soma is effectively required to be an important character. The exceptions to this rule are the Empress, her staff, and the magically powerful Mysterious Waif, herself a Sufficiently Advanced Alien. The Lancer is incapable of participating in combat until he receives his Soma, even though one of his skills when he does get it is a straight kick. Late in the game, another character gives up his Soma and immediately feels useless; in one of the sidequests, the party has to bail him out when he goes looking for a new one and is jumped by a relatively easy boss.
  • Valkyria Chronicles. Player-controlled squad 7 are drafted militia. If you think the trained army or any of the other militia squads from all over the country are the ones who are going to be winning the important battles, defeating the enemy armies, stopping the invasion, or indeed do anything useful without your help, you've got another think coming.
    • A specific mission comes to mind where you and your lowly militia prevent a kidnapping attempt on the "well-protected" princess by yourself, after a gathering of military captains, in the capital city and not a single squad or soldier from the actual army even lifts a finger to your aid.
      • Squad 7 also lifted sieges, defeated each and every one of the enemy's main generals, recaptured key cities, and hunted for war criminals in their spare time. They also take out the enemy superweapons by their lonesome with the help of their own Valkyria. The war could not have been possibly won without the efforts of Squad 7.
    • Squad 422 begs to differ. They are the only ones to stop Calamity Raven from breaking into Randgriz (twice!), they attempted assassination of Maximilian, and they narrowly prevented the shattering of the fragile peace after the accord is signed. Having their own Valkyria, imperfect she might be, helps greatly. Despite this quasi-retcon, the trope is still played dead straight, with only player-controlled forces making a difference...
  • In the old Dungeons & Dragons Gold Box game Pool of Radiance there was a fighter at the Training Hall named Rolf. He was always equal or higher level than your characters. One wonders what he was doing while you did all the dirty work to liberate Phlan.
  • Justified in Dragon Age: Origins; while it is pointed out that the Player Character and Alistair are not the absolute last Grey Wardens, they are the only members of the order who are in any position to do something about the whole saving the world business, as the other members of the order currently are in other countries, and would not be able to make it to Ferelden in time to help them.
    • Also lampshaded when both Morrigan and Shale separately ask Alistair why he follows the Player Character's lead even though he is the senior Grey Warden by about six months. Alistair explains that he does not want to be responsible for the lives of others and, thus, is more comfortable as a follower than as a leader. If you offer to put him in charge, he somewhat jokingly states that he would probably get everyone killed. Despite this, you can still make him king.
      • Alistair's concerns may be justified. The Darkspawn Chronicles DLC shows what would happen if the Player Character had died during the Joining and Alistair was forced to deal with the Blight himself... it ends with everyone dying and the country being destroyed by the darkspawn. (However, to be fair to Alistair, The Darkspawn Chronicles is silly and isn't intended to be a serious What If? evaluation, and it makes other changes to the setting beyond just putting Alistair in charge.)
  • Justified in Wild ARMs 3. Virginia Maxwell has the leader role of her ragtag group of Drifters, despite the presence of Clive, a seasoned Drifter. This is because all three fellow party members recognize that Virginia may not be the best fighter, but she would make the best leader.
  • Handwaved in the beginning of Neverwinter Nights, where the powerful paladin Aribeth has to stand still in a room while your rookie adventurer clears out the bad guys because they're tracking her location with some kind of magic. After that, it somehow continues to always work out like that, with the Big Good tier characters standing around in a base doing vital background work/nothing and sending you to do everything.
  • Partially justified in Neverwinter Nights 2, though sometimes it seems like Nasher should have given you a crapload more support than he did. Completely justified in Mask of the Betrayer, in which you are on a personal quest with no backup organization.
  • Mostly justified in Knights of the Old Republic, in which the Jedi Council doesn't want to attract Malak's attention by sending a full team of Jedi Knights, and you and Bastila are the only ones who have the information to locate the plot coupons. Carth is paranoid enough to wonder why the Jedi Council is entrusting a mission of this significance to a newbie like you — but it turns out that there is a very good reason to send your character.
    • In the second game, you are on the run from the Republic for some of it, so you don't have any backup in most sections of the game. When Mandalore brings in several commando squads at the Battle of Telos, though, it still falls to the party to plant the warheads that will destroy the Sith warship.
  • Partially averted and then justified in Tales of Symphonia: For the first section of the game, main character Lloyd is just a tag-along to the Chosen One and her guardians. After the Disc-One Final Dungeon twists the plot so far around that everyone's paradigm is shattered, Lloyd winds up leading the party because he's the one with the ideals driving the rest of the plot, and even then he relies heavily on advice from other party members for a good long while.
    • And they're the only ones who can defeat the Big Bad because no one else even knows where the source of the problem lies... except The Renegades, whose plan to defeat said Big Bad involves using Lloyd as bait for The Dragon, and who don't really feel like explaining said plan to their bait, especially at first... because after all, he was just a tagalong nobody.
      • Then you get to the end of the game, and it turns out that Lloyd really WAS the only one who could save the world since he had the special exsphere produced by the Angelus project. And he's the only real Half-Human Hybrid between an Angel and human, said Angel being the one with the position and means to give the heroes the means to stop the Big Bad... something he will only do for his son when he proves to have the will and skill for it.
  • Tales of Vesperia Lampshades this as the Supporting Leader and The Lancer (in the PS3 updated re-release) even comments on the fact it's unfair the lead will be the one taking the burden of the needed tasks. And not getting the credit.
  • In Legend of Mana, nothing gets done without the player character... this even includes building the map. (Not as in you have to draw the map, but you literally create the world around you by plonking down the magical artifacts that create the towns and dungeons you quest in.)
  • In Dragon Quest V you find a mysterious stranger in a cave who claims to have been stuck in a minecart going in a loop for twenty years. Less than one screen away from him (in the same area) is a little cave where someone has set up house after being hired to investigate the place. Couldn't he have given the dude a hand? Oh, and it turns out that the mysterious stranger is actually the Dragon God in human form.
  • In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, the player character is a brand new S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who just happens to be around when the plot-driving catastrophe occurs. That means you become the point man (or point woman) in all the significant battles, acquiring and commanding a roster of major Marvel heroes.
  • Played straight in Super Mario RPG where it's up to Mario to do everything from combat to puzzle solving to convincing people why they should let him through an important area. Mario's partners help out in battle (including Bowser and the Princess), but that's all they do.
    • Zig-zagged in the Paper Mario series. Mario needs his allies to solve puzzles or reach inaccessible areas, but he is still the point man as far as the plot is concerned and it's always up to him to solve the problem of the day.
  • Mega Man Battle Network: Only Lan (a ten-year-old kid) and his PET partner Megaman get to accomplish anything plot-worthy; all the other NPCs (this includes your "rival" Chaud, who is supposed to be part of a special task force that deals with threats to the internet) get to do is valiantly (and often uselessly) sacrifice themselves to buy Lan time.
  • Ōkami plays with this. On one hand, you are naturally the chosen one as you are the great goddess Amaterasu and additionally the goddess of the sun and thus the only one fit to defeat the Dark Lord of Darness, Yami. On the other hand, are you incredibly weak after your return and often can't solve puzzles or defeat enemies without additional help. Even in her prime as Shiranui, she needed to wait for the birth of The Chosen One, Nagi, to defeat the horrible Orochi.
  • Your Bizarre Adventure (a JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Fan Game that models its story mode after part 5 in particular) entrusts the player with many of the protagonists' responsibilities, ranging from distracting their rivals with a fake fortune to single-handedly defeating assassins. While the others are suggested to be doing things off-screen (for instance, the entire gang apparently tried to fight one boss and ended up receiving a Curb-Stomp Battle), they never do so while the player is watching.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader: Despite being as close to Imperial royalty as you can get, and having explicitly thousands of people on your ship whose whole lives are dedicated to serving your dynasty, you and your Player Party will still end up being the one to do everything, inspect every nook and cranny and get into many fights yourself, rather than ordering some of the thousands of soldiers in your employ to do it.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • In the original Star Fox (and slightly less so in Star Fox 64), your wingmates existed for two purposes: to soak up a pitifully low number of enemies that got past you and then to be chased by the bad guys, forcing you to rescue them. And to land the last blow on the missiles in Sector Z, thereby robbing you of the needed points to get a medal.
    • Also, in the grand scale of things, General Pepper's army doesn't seem to do anything in the war. This is a real quote from General Pepper in Star Fox 64 in response to Fox's cunning strategy: "You're going to attack the enemy base? Great idea Star Fox!"
    • In Pepper's defense, they're attacking a heavily-defended production facility, and it's entirely possible that by that point that you've personally plastered the entire Cornerian air force back on Katina.
  • Desert Strike has you and your co-pilot win the not-quite-the-Gulf War in a single helicopter (and your co-pilot is even captured at one point.) The first missions of Jungle Strike take this trope to absurdity: the enemy has brought tanks, missile trucks, and soldiers into Washington DC and tries to destroy the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Washington Monument, and no one lifts a finger to stop them but you.

    Simulation Game 
  • Applicable to some extent to the Ace Combat series, both story and gameplay-wise starting with 5 (which introduced wingman commands). Note though that the wingmen of Zero were more helpful, or at least tended to be more aggressive in terms of actually attacking and launching missiles, than those in 5, while 6 has only one wingman and only two commands (Attack or Cover) but introduces the Allied Support System, which can definitely avert this trope. Nothing like most of the enemies in a mission going down from you calling allied attacks onto them while you were at 3% "health"...
    • While the Allied Support momentarily averts this trope, it also highlights how much it's played straight the rest of the time. The allied planes would be more than capable of easily accomplishing most missions without any player intervention, if they always fought like they do in the few seconds Allied Support lasts. But most of the time NPC planes just circle around lazily and wait for the player to earn their "support points".
  • The Descent: Freespace series tries so hard to avert this. The first game had art in the manual with a huge alien capital ship, with an encircled dot labeled "this is you" (and it really is that scale). You're not given a name - Command calls you "pilot" or by your wing designation "Alpha 1," just like all the other Red Shirt pilots. During in-game briefings, you're constantly updated on the status of other squadrons on missions which you aren't actively involved in. In some missions, one squad will be assigned to take on a task that you can witness being done, but aren't actively involved in. You don't even need to complete most of the secondary objectives either, so it's not like the storyline pretends that you're Superman or anything - instead, you get a message saying 8,000 lives were lost and there wasn't much you could do (you do get the occasional medal if you manage to do the job).
    • However, where the AI comes in, the trope does, too. Limitations in the AI creates a situation where Alpha 1 and his wing becomes a One Squad Army. Your squad can rearm, the enemies can't. You can customise your wing's armaments for the specific mission, while the enemies will jump in with the default weapons (unless they're an "Elite" squadron). You can reassign wings under your control to different tasks, depending on the mission, but the enemies only perform orders as scripted by the mission designer. As a result, while Alpha Wing is able to take out three squadrons, five cruisers, or two destroyers (or ALL of those), the enemy needs to send five waves of bombers just to get the ship you're defending down to 70%. Command can pretend all they want that you're just another Red Shirt, you're fighting a battle all by yourself this side of the star system!
    • Then again, by the end of the game, Command is repeatedly sending you off on missions that seem incredibly silly on paper, like defending a constantly jumping in convoy over several kilometers of space with only three other squads for backup. You may still be just a pilot, but your mission objectives tend to match your capital ship kill record.
    • Command's over-the-top reactions to failing mission objectives. For instance, in one mission a single fighter wing (4 fighters, including yourself) has to defend a Hecate-class destroyer, which is not only the size of a mountain but has all the fighting capability of a hunk of cheese. Against wave upon wave of Shivan bombers, as well as a Moloch-class corvette. In a vision-obscuring nebula. If you fail, Command yells at you, strips you of your wings, and consigns you to cargo-hauling in a dead-end system for the rest of your days. Damn.
  • In the space fighter game Starlancer, while the player is supposedly just another pilot in a six-fighter squadron, you have a tendency to be personally punished for failure.
    • Starlancer also has news reports on the war which are updated every mission and frequently feature reports on other squadrons, warships, and pilots who are kicking considerably more ass and doing more important jobs than you are (at least at the start of the game). Towards the end of the game, by which time your flagship and squadron have become increasingly badass and your reputation more legendary, you meet these other guys who've also been keeping tabs on your career in the same manner.
  • Avoided at least at the start of TIE Fighter. The Rebels attack while you're out on an early training mission, so you're ordered to return to base. After all, the Empire has many more experienced pilots in the area, and you're not ready to take them on yet (not that it really matters to the Empire if you get killed or not).
    • Not avoided at all however in the rest of TIE Fighter, the X-Wing series and the more recent Rogue Squadron series, in which the player's allies will be utterly useless and the player will have to kill dozens of enemies and the occasional massive starship by themselves.
  • Most games in the Harvest Moon series have this as the central theme: either you've been given a task by the Harvest Goddess or you need to save the Harvest Goddess from something. In Island of Happiness, literally every bit of development on the island is spurred on by your productivity or paid for by you directly (road and bridge repair). And characters will leave the island if you ignore them for long enough, no matter what their connection to anything or anyone else is (temporarily, but still).
  • In the submarine simulator Cold Waters, it feels as if yours is the only friendly submarine in the entire North Atlantic given how many times mission briefings say there are no other NATO forces in the area available to stop the Soviets. Justified in that NATO is overstretched trying to contain the Soviet navy, so it's no surprise you are called upon again and again.
  • In Animal Crossing New Leaf and New Horizons, certain town/island improvements, once placed, require a contribution before they can be constructed. While Isabelle in New Leaf implies that the whole town can work together to raise the needed funds, in practice it's up to the player(s) — the NPC villagers will donate only a few hundred Bells a day when most improvements cost tens of thousands or more. Tom Nook lampshades this in New Horizons, muttering that if the player doesn't donate, the project will likely never finish.
  • Exaggerated in SDI by Cinemaware, where you play one man and have to personally control the United States' SDI system to shoot down incoming missiles, pilot a space fighter to defend the satellites from incoming Soviet fighters, manage repairs on damaged satellites, and rescue your Capulet Counterpart from the Soviet station. You'd think that the US would at least have a proper team to manage their entire World War III defense.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: Sol's actions will make the difference between the colony surviving and being wiped out, and they're the only one who can save many lives. Some of that is because of their visions giving them information from other lives, but not all; sometimes they're just able to pull off something that the colony's adults can't manage because they're the protagonist. One example of the latter is that both the Engineering storyline and researching xenobotany have events that can't progress without materials found outside the colony, but Sol has to take shifts with the surveyors to obtain them on their own rather than simply ask the people heading out anyway to do so. Once the materials are obtained, they won't be properly exploited unless Sol at least participates in researching them.
  • Gas Station Simulator starts out as a one-man affair, with the player character needing to be present to handle every aspect of running the station; customers don't even pump their own gas. As you acquire more funds, you can eventually hire some employees to handle particular duties, and once you open and fully level the car wash, it turns automatic, although you have to periodically clear out its water source to restore pressure.

    Sports Game 
  • Weirdly used in Mario Hoops, each team has three players, but only the one currently under your control actually does anything beyond standing around waiting to be passed to. If the ball is fumbled near one of the other guys, not only will they ignore it but if it hits them anyway it will just bounce off.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Averted in Rainbow Six and the like. Not only can you tell your CPU-controlled teammates to go first, in some cases they're more accurate than you are! You'll hear this exchange dozens of times: "Prepare for entry." "Stacking up." "Frag and clear." "Cleared!" "Regroup on me." Careful planning will have you taking out a room of six tangos in something like 3 seconds.
    • Definitely not averted in the two Vegas games. Your three-man team (four in co-op) is routinely sent to engage hundreds of heavily-armed enemies with virtually no backup, despite the assumption that a significant amount of other friendly troops would be in the Vegas area (after all, it is the site of several major attacks). The worst offender is when you end up fighting your way through an entire building just to find several dozen police/FBI waiting happily outside.
    • In the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter games, the player controls only Captain Mitchell. Although there are several infiltration/recon missions where he must go solo, the majority of the game provides him with up to three specialized "Ghost" units —ranging from heavy artillery, medic, sniper, and infantry. These units can turn the most difficult missions into cakewalks, but only if the player utilizes the Ghosts effectively, instead of leaving them behind.

    Survival Horror 
  • In Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, you're alone for the first half of the game, so naturally it's up to you. However, this becomes rather egregious in the 2nd half when you accompany, in Turn, the FBI, the USMC, and the US Coast Guard into the town, and they all prove to be almost completely useless, leaving you to do all the legwork. It is revealed to be averted in the end though since the main character is the spiritual son of a Yithian and was sent against Daegon by his "father". Also, the US Navy and the FBI, as in the original story Shadow Over Innsmouth, do manage to shut down the crazy armed cult of Innsmouth, drive off the Deep Ones, and torpedo/bomb the Deep Ones' city (you see a submarine firing on it in the last level)... just mostly off-screen.
  • Averted in Eternal Darkness, despite having a Chosen One. Most of the game consists of playing as the various Red Shirts who contribute to the fight to save humanity, and almost every chapter ends with its player character dead or insane. At the end, everybody comes back in ghost form, one at a time, to attack The Dragon, and the guy who died at the beginning of the game gets to seal away the Big Bad.
  • In Vampire Quest, produced by, this is used, almost to the point of parody. You have three other party members, who are unseen throughout most of the adventure, except getting captured and rescued. At no point do they actually do anything, ever.
  • Averted in most of the Resident Evil games. All the characters are running around blind trying to find a way out, and you just pick one to play as. Resident Evil 2 even gives you a Game B option, which lets you play as the other character as the other character (Who you played as the first time around) runs around. Played straight with Resident Evil 4 and 5.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • It's implied, in Crusader, that your character of the Silencer is just one of many operatives—other Rebels are mentioned as taking on missions. However, for a barely-trusted recent defector, you sure end up handed a lot of critical missions. Even when the mole takes over the base, you are given a mission that could expose the traitor, assuming you survive.
    • Half-subverted in the game's final mission; you're supposed to command a squad of Rebel soldiers, but all methods other than the one you took to get there are locked out or inaccessible.
  • Averted in the 3rd-person tactical shooter WinBack 2. Two characters from your three-man squad are assigned to each mission, and you play the first one... During which time, several opportunities are given for you to accomplish things outside the scope of your mission. Then you play as the second character, and receive bonuses when the "first character" helps you out (for instance by helping open a locked door, or by picking off some Mooks).
  • Kind of averted in the Rogue Trooper video game. The player takes the role of Rogue, the only survivor of an ambush that slaughtered the rest of his genetically-engineered Super-Soldier pals. Having said that, part of the soldiers' cybernetic augmentation is "biochips," which preserves their consciousness for download in a newly-grown body; in the meanwhile, Rogue installs his three friends onto his Swiss-Army Weapon, Backpack Of Holding and helmet. All three items are now capable of independent action (the rifle can be set up as a sentry gun, for instance, and the helmet can project a holographic decoy), and frequently chat amongst themselves. While It's Up to You still, at least your One-Man Army is allowed to multitask.
  • Max Payne:
    • Downplayed in Max Payne 2 with missions which are played from Max's perspective and then switch to Mona's, showing what she was doing at the same time to help Max perform his jobs. The first game lampshades his uniqueness though by pointing out that only he in the game world has the ability to slow down time, but offers no explanation at all for it.
    • Played straight in Max Payne 3, as Max is left to clear out enemies on his own in most encounters, and the mission to rescue his boss's wife and bring down the conspiracy plaguing São Paulo is almost entirely on him. Passos is unable to do much besides provide cover fire when he accompanies Max, and anyone else who could potentially help him in a firefight, such as the local police, is unceremoniously gunned down before they can do anything.
  • Strangely done in Kane & Lynch, where you are the only one who can revive teammates... even when your living teammates end up standing in front of the slumped-over ones like they're cover.
  • Slightly inverted in Red Faction: Guerrilla, since Mason's expertise doesn't extend much farther than "explode this thing over here", most Faction Missions involve other, unseen operatives doing the leg work while you support them.... usually by exploding things.
    • Also in one mission you have to drive across an artillery firing field and shut down the artillery. However, it's less it's up to you and more you're the only one who manages to not be completely utterly shelled to dust. That mission was a Player Punch as you watched the truck in front of you explode then you hear the rest of rebellion screaming for help over the radio or how they're stuck and the shells are getting closer.
  • Dead Space: Isaac fix the gravity drive! Isaac reroute the power! Isaac get me a ham sandwich! The other two characters do contribute but mostly their role is opening doors and giving you bad news. (Well, Hammond tries to do something once. Result? You'll find him more than slightly poisoned.) However, Isaac is, in fact, an engineer, and it turns out Kendra has been manipulating him to get the Marker.
  • Deconstructed in Spec Ops: The Line as it shows precisely what sort of mindset it would take to believe that you are the only one who can do anything. Captain Martin Walker exceeds the scope of his original mission because he thought it was up to him to figure out what was going on and save everyone. He fails at both learning the truth and doing anything that doesn't get people killed in various horrible ways.
  • Fentible straight up says this at the start of Starship Titanic, going on to explain that because the ship's central intelligence, Titania, was sabotaged, neither he nor the rest of the crew, being robots, know how to fix the problems on board. How convenient that Fentible had the luck of stumbling upon a human being right after the ship dropped into their house...
  • Anthony Williams from Bad Day L.A. has to do everything when it comes to dealing with the apocalypse in Los Angeles which is saving all these people and fighting all these enemies.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn really drives the point home at the end of Part 3 by turning everyone but the heroes and antagonists into statues.
    • Generally played semi-straight in the rest of the Fire Emblem series. While the main character(s) are usually quite powerful in their own right, your other units may be stronger or more useful. However, that tiny band of 10-30 people is the only effective resistance to the Big Bad and his army.
    • In the missions where there are non-recruitable NPC allied combatants (e.g. ordinary soldiers or guardsmen of whatever nation you're part of/allied with), they have low stats and generally get slaughtered by almost any enemies. Even if they're using a superior weapon.
  • As Bright Noa deliberates during Scenario 20 of the Space Route in Shin Super Robot Wars, Bright gets an unexpected transmission from someone he's never met before: Chief Oka of the Federation Far East Base. He asks if Bright is planning to heed the order he just got to return, and Bright says that he doesn't see any alternative. Oka is adamant that Bright do no such thing, saying that as Bright is well aware, Staff HQ is anything but sane these days. There's no call for Bright to be punished for the whims of a few lunatics, especially since he and his men are one of the few glimmers of hope mankind has left. Bright briefly protests that disobeying would get all his men branded as traitors, but Oka firmly points out that fighting the aliens comes first. He tells Bright to leave things to him and his friends at Staff HQ, though the Reinforce Jr. itself will have to be relinquished.

    Amuro is impressed with Oka, and after all the transfer is complete, Londo Bell decides to go to the Moon. This will fulfill the League Militare's needs and let Amuro pick up the Nu Gundam from its commissioned builders at Anaheim Electronics. Usso is a little sad to see Gomez go, but most of the rest of the crew are still with the Londo Bell.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the player's territory can be invaded by other gangs. However, it's solely the player's responsibility to defend it. No one else in the gang of presumably hundreds ever takes the initiative to help out or, better yet, handle the attack themselves. However, your gang in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City will cheerfully blow away anyone who tries to attack the player character.
    • Also in the Grand Theft Auto series, the player must always be the driver, and apparently no one else who ever rides with the protagonist knows how to drive. Even when someone arrives to pick you up during a cutscene, they invariably scoot over to the passenger seat once the gameplay begins. This is lampshaded in one of the missions in San Andreas, where Ryder instructs; "You drive - seein' as you "Mister Driver" and all."
    • Averted, probably intentionally, in one of the later missions of San Andreas. At the end of the mission, the main character offers to drive his cohorts to the hospital, but they assure him that he's done enough.
    • Same goes for pushbacks in Saints Row. Subverted, since you can call up allied members to drive you, and any Saints in the area will also help out.
    • Especially glaring in the bank robbery mission in Vice City, for which you need to recruit a gunman, a safecracker, and a driver. None of whom perform their roles and require the player to do them.
  • For a drug lord rebuilding his empire, Tony Montana has to do too much of the dirty work himself, as shown in the Scarface: The World Is Yours title. Even the goons who deliver cars to him proceed to take the passenger seat and leave their boss to drive. While players can switch to playing as the hired muscle, that is an unexplained, wholly optional, plot-irrelevant element.
  • In the video game adaptation of The Godfather, we see that apparently all Mafia operations outside of the inter-family intrigue handled by the movie characters are performed by one man, the player. He essentially takes over the entire underworld single-handedly, and it goes to even further extremes in the final mission, where the simultaneous hits on the heads of the other families during Michael's daughter's baptism are all carried out by the same guy driving frantically all over New York.
    • Apparently realizing how difficult and unrealistic the single-handed approach to underworld domination was in the first game, the developers of the sequel have created the "Family" or "Crew" system. This will allow the player to send members of their families to do their dirty work for them, so the player isn't saddled with all the work. At the same time, fellow mob members can be brought along on missions to help take over rackets and storm rival family compounds. It would appear the game makers have realized why the Mafia considers itself a "Family Business."
  • Averted in the first level of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky. If you ignore the mission objectives, your teammates will eventually accomplish them for you. This allows you to progress to the next level, but you also miss out on the mission rewards you're given if you participate in the missions.
    • Also, later in the game, you're assigned to help a group of Stalkers assault a zombie-filled factory. Far from making you point man, the Stalkers tell you to stay back and keep out of the way, and as it turns out they're more than capable of finishing the mission by themselves.
      • One of the love it or hate it features in the first game was the fact that due to the living world, sometimes your quests would sort out on their own. Say if you were tasked to kill a certain NPC, he isn't suddenly gifted with a "character shield" and he might fall victim to the many, many dangers of The Zone if you leave him wandering long enough. Often all you have to do is go to the right place, then go back to the quest-giver to claim your reward; skipping all the fighting as the mutants you were supposed to eradicate were killed by your allied Stalkers who then used the place as their hangout.
      • On a side note, there was one scrapped feature that would involve allied NPCs beating the game by themselves. Even then, there are still heavy limits on what the NPCs can do, not because the developers didn't bother programming the abilities in, but because they were worried the AI would be too competent and leave the player with little to do.
  • In Spore, whenever a colony planet owned by the player is under attack, the player must travel there with his ship or else the colony will be lost as the automated defense turrets won't work unless the player is there. You are also in command of the only ship your creature species will ever possess so you have to do all other kinds of busy work along with defending.
    • This becomes incredibly frustrating as your empire grows to several (and sometimes dozens) of systems, and you can only defend it with one ship, often from attacks that come from different directions.
    • You are also responsible for any and all development of colonies, personally transporting any spice that gets sold and diplomatic relations. By yourself.
  • Used in Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption, where the whole main plot is your personal mission to kill your old companions, but on those missions where you have allies (like the assault on Fort Mercer or Escalera), they are useful but not so much that you aren't essential to victory, and lampshaded when John bitches to the government agents about how stupid it is to send two men into a gang hide-out by themselves, even though you've been doing exactly that since the start. Considering the ending clearly indicates Ross wants John to just die, sending John on missions alone against ridiculous odds may even be a Uriah Gambit that makes sense to do from Ross' perspective.
  • In Space Rangers, due to the nature of the living world, it is quite possible for the alliance to win the war without you. You could be milling around, running side-quests and trading for cash or what-have-you, while the other rangers and military forces actually drive the Klissans or up to two Dominator factions to extinction. This is especially true on lower difficulty levels, though on higher ones all you need is to give the war an initial "push", and the AI will usually take care of the rest.
  • In X3: Terran Conflict, the player is effectively the only thing capable of propping up the eternally collapsing Terran economy, which has too few farms, mines, and intermediate factories to supply the resources required to produce their weaponry and other high-end goods. Likewise, the player is the only thing that can sustain the tiny Space Pirate and Yaki economies, though that's because the Pirates and Yaki shoot basically every Space Trucker trying to dock at their stations to sell it much-needed supplies. Averted with combat missions and combat-centered plots, which your Player Mooks or NPC police and naval forces can often complete for you, though it can strip you of much-needed combat pay bonuses.
  • The player has to do nearly everything in L.A. Noire. Your partners never do anything except either drive you to your destination if you let them, shoot goons during a gunfight, and shooting a suspect's car's tires during a chase. It's up to the player to hunt down all the clues in a given area, chase the suspect in a car chase, question the suspects, and chase down fleeing suspects on foot.
  • The protagonists of Watch_Dogs 2 are a hacker group fighting corporate corruption throughout the San Fransisco Bay Area. However, all the work seems to be done by Marcus Holloway, the new recruit. Even when the player has to escort their allies to the mission location they will not actually aid you. The only time the other members of the group do any of the work on screen is when the player takes control of them in the finale.

    Visual Novel 
  • Ace Attorney: Even though Phoenix Wright is officially only a defense attorney, he's still responsible for both investigating the crime scene and rooting out the true culprit of the case. While there are actual detectives, forensics experts, and so forth, they usually seem to work only for the prosecution, and will often outright interfere with your own investigation and not inform you about evidence or witnesses. On the defense side, it's usually just the player, the defendant, and your assistant. This is of course because investigating the crime scene is a lot more fun than the loads of paperwork a lawyer would actually be doing between trial sessions, and it would be anticlimactic if your part in the trial ended as soon as you proved that your client is innocent, without actually solving the case.
  • Monster Girl Quest has Luka fighting almost every battle on his own. The Chimera Dryad battle is an egregious example, as here Alice actually wants to join in, but Luka tells her to stay out of it so she doesn't have to fight a fellow monster (and Alice doesn't do anything even if Luka loses and gets killed). In the few battles where Luka does get help, his allies usually do less damage than him, Luka is the only one targeted by the enemy, and you lose if Luka is defeated (though there are exceptions to the first and second points). The sequel, which is an RPG instead of a visual novel, downplays this: while the player party still does everything, Luka no longer needs to be in the active party


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Worthless Allies


Good Luck, Harry

Unlike in the book and film, Ron doesn't accompany Harry into the Forbidden Forest.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

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Main / ItsUpToYou

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