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Number Two

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"Finally, we come to my number two man. His name... Number Two."
Dr. Evil, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

The right-hand man of The Leader, or second in command. Usually The Lancer and a Foil. The one who takes over the "ship" when The Captain wants to be off doing non-Captainy things.

Often called simply Number Two (or, confusingly, Number One), although terms like "first officer", "first mate", or "executive officer" (often shortened to "XO") frequently appear in military fiction especially involving the chain of command in a Command Roster. Compare The Lancer in the Five-Man Band, who is usually not too happy about that. Although sometimes the Number Two is also The Lancer to provide a contrast between authority figures. In-universe this is also a good idea: If The Leader is Hot-Blooded then he needs The Stoic to balance him, and vice versa.

Strictly, in the Royal Navy, at least, the captain would have an executive officer and a first lieutenant,* both ranks being held by a single person on smaller ships. Hence the XO (also known as Number One or sometimes "the Jimmy" ) would be the captain's Right Hand Man and Number Two would be his immediate junior. The position also goes by the title Executive Officer (XO), particularly in the American military.

If the creators did the research, the XO is much more likely to interact with the crew. On a ship, "Number One" is responsible for the crew: training, ordinary discipline (that is motivating the NCOs to motivate the others) setting watches for the officers etc. The captain's job is to decide what the ship should do, Number Two makes sure the ship and crew can do it. This can play out as either Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough or Aloof Leader, Affable Subordinate, depending on which one of them is the hardass.

If the Number Two is also the final obstacle before reaching the Big Bad, then they're The Dragon. Sometimes gets "promoted" to Commander Contrarian. The dimwit version is Number Two for Brains. If they double as the voice of reason, there's The Consigliere.

Not to be confused with the original script for Back to the Future Part II. Or the euphemism for solid waste. Has nothing to do with You Are Number 6.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Levi from Attack on Titan is this to Commander Erwin, who is one of the few people Levi respects. Though that doesn't exempt Erwin from Levi's rudeness.
  • Casca was this to Griffith in Berserk, and took over leadership of the Band of the Hawk following Griffith's imprisonment by the King (which came about because Griffith had sex with Princess Charlotte following the departure of his greatest warrior, Guts).
  • Bleach:
    • The Gotei 13 is split into 13 divisions. Each division is a semi-autonomous unit that is controlled by The Captain and backed up by the Lieutenant. In the absence of a captain, the Lieutenant has to shoulder full responsibility for the division.
    • Haschwalth is this to Yhwach, both as Grand Master of the Sternritter and his other half.
  • The title character of Captain Harlock has First Mate Yattaran, who spends most of his free time assembling and playing with plastic models. He's surprisingly competent whenever it's time to fight.
  • Case Closed: Rum is the number two of the Black Organization, working directly under the Boss's command. For obvious reasons, Rum's position makes them stand above Gin and Vermouth, who had been established as very threatening antagonists long before Rum was even mentioned.
  • In Cromartie High School, Bass High's Noburo Yamaguchi finds a second-in-command in the form of Akira Nakao. As a skillful ventriliquist, he is usually seem with a puppet named Mick. Yamaguchi tried to split the title as Number and Two, but is put off by the risk of Toilet Humor. In the end, he appoint Mick the full title.
  • Food Wars!: Deconstructed with Hisako Arato, who is the secretary/assistant of Erina Nakiri, who is considered the best chef in the 92nd generation of Tootsuki. She's content with playing second fiddle to Erina to the point she lacks the ambition and drive to be the best chef she could be, which results in her loss to Akira Hayama during the Fall Classic finals. Hayama even calls her out on wanting to live in Erina's shadow, which deals a huge blow to her self-esteem.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist, being a very military-based storyline, has these in different places. Most evident to the reader/viewer, Riza Hawkeye is the second-in-command of Roy Mustang's unit.
  • Lieutenant Yamamoto of Irresponsible Captain Tylor has to play Straight Man to the eponymous captain. It's easy to feel sorry for him.
  • In K, The Red Clan, HOMRA, has Izumo Kusanagi, and the Blue Clan, Scepter 4, has Seri Awashima. Both of them, particularly Kusanagi (since the Red King, Mikoto, isn't fond of talking and neither is his successor), tend to be the ones to say things in place of their Kings, predicting what the King would say (or saying something that's obvious enough, like getting Saruhiko and Misaki to stop fighting in important meetings).
    • Seri might be considered an Expy of Riza Hawkeye.
  • Knights of Sidonia initially has Seii Ichirou as Number Two to Captain Kobayashi of the colony ship Sidonia. Later, when he takes up a position in the ship's Humongous Mecha squadron, he nominates Yuhata Midorikawa as his replacement.
  • The main character of Kurogane Puka Puka Tai, Commander Kuki, is Number Two to the rarely-seen captain of the Unebi. Commander Mary of the HMS Cutlass is another prominent Number Two.
  • In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Siegfried Kircheis effectively serve this role to Reinhard von Lohengramm. Most of Reinhard's subordinates recognise and accept this disposition, except for Paul von Oberstein, who believes that The Leader should not have a Number Two as that may lead to the creation of an alternate power base.
  • Griffith of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS is Hayate's Number Two, and is mostly there to take command of the Long Arch crew whenever Hayate decides to join the battle.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Murrue Ramius had Natarle Badgiruel (before they were split up by the top brass). In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Ramius has Andrew Waldfeld, Talia Gladys has Arthur Trine, Yzak Joule has Dearka Elsman, and Neo Roanoke has Ian Lee.
  • Naruto:
    • Yamato was originally supposed to replace Kakashi temporarily but ended up becoming the Number Two.
    • In General Kakashi's Division, Might Guy, is Kakashi's Number Two.
    • Zetsu is Number Two for Tobi in the Akatsuki.
    • Konan for Nagato in Amegakure.
    • In the backstory, Madara Uchiha was the First Hokage's Number Two. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he developed an Inferiority Superiority Complex towards his former friend.
    • Darui is this to the Fourth Raikage A. After A lost his dominant hand to Sasuke, he doesn't mind it that much, since he still has Darui as his best right hand... even though A is left-handed.
    • Shikamaru becomes this for Naruto as his advisor when Naruto becomes the Seventh Hokage.
  • Fuyutsuki plays this role in Neon Genesis Evangelion, typically being left in charge at the drop of a hat (or an Angel) and it's notably rare for both himself and Commander Ikari to be absent (almost as notable as it is for Ikari to be present).
  • One Piece:
    • While the Straw Hat Pirates have no official first mate, Zoro and Nami fill parts of the role as different times. Zoro tends to take command in battle whenever Luffy isn't around and reminds Luffy of his responsibilities as captain. Nami gives the orders for the crew’s day-to-day operations, but usually defers to Zoro when things get really serious.
    • And from other pirate groups, we have Marco, who is this to Whitebeard. Silvers Rayleigh to Gold Roger. Brook was like this to his previous captain, before circumstances forced him into becoming Captain himself. Killer to Kid. Every other first mate counts.
    • Nico Robin as Miss All Sunday to Crocodile's Mister 0, as well. While officially his partner, but since Mister 0 is the undisputed boss, she is this, standing above all the other agents below them.
    • During the Dressrosa Arc, it is revealed that Sabo, who was thought to be dead is this for the Revolutionary Army.
    • King was the first person to join Kaido's crew, who gave him the name "King" as a symbol of his strength. After they broke out of Punk Hazard's laboratories together, King stuck with Kaido as his right-hand man.
  • In Saint Beast, Lucifer was the number two to Zeus and eventually the Dragon with an Agenda shortly before rebelling.
  • In Sonic X, Tails is often seen leading the other characters during Sonic's absence.
  • In Space Battleship Yamato, Shiro Sanada is Captain Okita's first mate and science officer, rather like a certain pointy-eared half-human in blue, but he rarely acts in a command role. Instead, Tactical Division Leader Susumu Kodai acts as Number Two to Captain Okita, eventually taking over as Acting Captain when Okita is incapacitated by radiation poisoning.
  • Tsukiuta - Idol units Six Gravity and Procellarum have Haru and Kai as this to their leaders, Hajime and Shun. Prince/Knight tropes are heavily played up, especially in the stage plays (see example under "Theatre" below).
  • BC of Vandread is the Number Two of Magno in the Nirvana, and also happens to be The Mole of the all-male planet of Taraak, though Magno already knew about that from the beginning.
  • Bjorn is the number two of Askeladd's crew in Vinland Saga.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Rivals Judai's and Misawa's nicknames for each other are "Number 1" and "Number 2".

    Comic Books 
  • In the Fantastic Four, Sue was always more or less Reed's Number Two, but it was a role she rarely had to play. Then Reed was killed off for a couple of years, and during that time, Sue had to step up to become team leader. This became a part of her personality and changed the team dynamic a bit. Reed still calls the shots (and Sue prefers it that way), but when he's absent, she'll easily take charge.
  • In Sonic the Comic the role of Number Two is taken by Amy Rose she leads the Freedom Fighters when Sonic is unable to (i.e. Sonic has turned into Super Sonic or Sonic is trapped in the Special Zone).
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The humorless, excessively by the book Ultra Magnus serves as Number Two for the lazy and completely irresponsible Rodimus. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Ultimates: Bruce Banner was demoted to number two, in light of him turning into the Hulk during his investigations of the SSP.
  • Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage) to his brother, Leonardo. Being the smartest and most level headed of his brothers, he is instantly Leo's right hand man, giving mission intel and creating weapons for the team. He seems to retain this role in the IDW comics run as well.
  • After Wonder Girl (Cassie) became the leader of Young Justice former leader Robin (Tim) became her number two. This is the position he's most comfortable with on teams since he doesn't mind coming up with plans, strategizing and working out tactics but he doesn't really like being the actual leader.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The conniving planner Sakritt acts as the right hand of her impulsive charismatic captain Ectreba in their Sangtee Empire approved privateer armada.

    Fan Fiction 
  • A Crew for a King: Nojiko steps into the role of quartermaster when she joins the Straw Hats, managing the day-to-day acts that Luffy finds too boring to pay attention to, effectively running the ship for him outside of battle.
  • In Dungeon Keeper Ami, Commander Cathy fills this role to Keeper Mercury. Going from a mercenary swordswoman, to a training general, to being Mercury's most trusted employee and her right hand for most military operations.
  • Darling in the FranXX: Homecoming: In the fourth chapter, Code 059 is promoted to Ichigo's second-in-command.
  • Fate Revelation Online:
    • Early on, Asuna decides to take on the role of "battlefield commander" to support her guild, like in canon. In canon, this was because her guild was so huge that multiple commanders were needed. In this fic, her guild is tiny, but her guildmaster is Ilya, who is most politely described as "capricious."
      Shirou: She is pretty busy, anyway, as the Guild Vice Commander.
      Kirito: You can call her [Guild Babysitter]. It's fine.
      Shirou: You don't. Not to her face, anyway.
      Kirito: Or in front of Ilya.
    • Diabel's second in command is Kibaou, a hot-headed but good-hearted man who serves well as a battlefield commander. Asuna mentions she has to deal directly with him pretty often, partly because of their similar roles and partly because he just really doesn't get along with Ilya. However, Diabel's official heir is actually Thinker, a Non-Action Guy who isn't even in the same guild. This is because Diabel sees his role as "leader of the hostages" as more important than his role as "leader of the biggest guild." Essentially, Thinker is the Vice President of the players, while Kibaou is merely a General.
  • Hound is this to Jazz in Transformers Meta and leads the group when the latter is incapable of doing so.
    • He tried to once, but it didn't exactly go well and Wheeljack ended up saving the day.
  • SpongeTron is this in Time Fixers: Nicktoons of the Future since he often takes charge of the Nicktoons when Darry is not around and was even made leader when Darry temporarily retired. For the original Nicktoons team, Danny serves as Jimmy's Number Two.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The sequel Picking Up the Pieces introduces the lieutenants of the six Guard divisions — as of Chapter 8, Mist Flight of the Royal Guard, Lunar Light (nicknamed "Weird Beard" by his captain) of the Magi of Stars Guard, and Even Hoof of the Luna Guard have all appeared or been mentioned. Chapter 10 then reveals that Ruby Shell, introduced in the first story, is actually the lieutenant of the Hidden Guard. Chapter 11 identifies the final two lieutenants, Dazzling Aura of the Cadenza Guard and Steady Lance of the Celestia Guard. In the same chapter, when Mist Flight temporarily takes over as Captain General, Artisan Shine becomes his second.
  • Ships Ahoy!:
    • Before going ahead with Oprah's Secret Test of Character, Olesya creates an advisor spot and offers it to O'Donahue so he could still be by Oprah's side when she is promoted to the Management department and becomes the new leader of Precinct 13579. He asks her if he is still able to solve cases, and when she tells him that he's allowed to in spite of him being more likely to go at them solo, he accepts the position. As Oprah's advisor, he gives her advice and assists her when needed, continuing to be her partner in the process as an Investigation agent, but his duties gradually become unneeded the more she grows into the leadership role and eventually shift to him going on solo cases or running simple errands for her, much to his chagrin.
    • After O'Donahue leaves, Oscar becomes Oprah's second advisor many years later, although unlike O'Donahue, he and Oprah aren't in a romantic relationship. This doesn't ease Olive's mood any, who grows bitter and jealous that Oscar is spending time with another girl than he is with her and that he gets special perks for being Oprah's advisor and her "favorite agent".
  • This Bites!: While Cross is third mate of the Straw Hats and thus technically outranked by Zoro and Nami (who are first and second mate, respectfully), his position as crew tactician makes him this trope to Luffy. As is pointed out several times across the story (by Cross himself and by others), while Luffy is the captain who leads the crew in their adventures, it's Cross' strategies that enable the crew to pull off their most outlandish stunts; more to the point, the entire reason that Cross organizes the New World Masons is to undermine the World Government, not just out of moral outrage but to make things easier for Luffy to achieve his dream. As Vice-Admirals Jonathan and Tsuru discuss during the Marineford War, while Luffy is going to be the King of the Pirates, Cross is the standard bearer who is clearing the way to the throne for him.
  • With This Ring: When the Paragon protagonist organises the creation of the new Orange Lantern Corps, he deliberately chooses to be the Illustres, second in command, rather than Clarissi. His reasoning is that the top position needs to be the strategic leader, whereas his own skills are better suited to tactical command and the front line. So he recruits Insufferable Genius Vril Dox II as the Clarissi. Their relationship is initially somewhat strained by Dox's impatience and desire to prove himself, and Paul's tendency to focus on the problem right in front of him rather than the big picture, but they do value each other's complementary skills. Paul is a vastly superior Lantern with exotic orange light capabilities that no other mortal Lantern has duplicated, while Dox's intelligence and ability to process large amounts of information have few rivals (and most of those are demi-gods like the Maltusians).
  • A Young Girl's Game of Thrones: Myrcella has three — Ser Cortnay, who acts as her regent for the Stormlands. Ser Barristan, who acts as the commander of her war host. And last, but not least, Brienne, who is her most trusted confidant and sworn shield.

  • In the Austin Powers series, Dr. Evil's Number Two was indeed called Number Two, not only as a rank but as being his proper name as well (IE: he's Mr. Two). To further drive the joke down, Number Two once gained his OWN Number Two, which, of course was deemed "Number Three". To further the irony, this Number Three later turned out to be The Mole for the Good Guys, who was only referred to as "The Mole" even though he had a recurring role in the movie.
    • It's used for a quick gag in the first and third movies, the first calling out the Toilet Humor version, the second using it for school testing results.
  • As the Executive Officer aboard the Alabama, Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) is this to Captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) in Crimson Tide. Their styles are quite the contrast, inverting the usual Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough dynamic with Hunter being a Cultured Warrior who mingles with the crew regularly and Ramsey being the old-school hard-ass gruff. The personality and philosophical clashes play into The Mutiny and Anti-Mutiny that happen aboard as the crisis involving the Renegade Russian Radchenko reaches a peak.
  • Donatello in TMNT. After Leonardo's departure, Donatello takes the role of the team's leader, with Raph's judgmental nature towards the leader inheriting from Leo to Donnie.
  • Executive Suite: Alderson, one of the vice presidents at Treadway Corporation, uses this exact phrase to describe himself. He says that recently deceased company president Bullard didn't make him executive VP because he thought Alderson was a "number two man" instead of a leader. Alderson decides that Bullard was right, and backs Walling for the presidency rather than trying for it himself.
  • Snake Eyes to General Hawk in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kraglin Obfonteri is second in command to the honorable Space Pirate Yondu Udonta. Unfortunately, his idle chatter to some disgruntled members of Yondu's crew lead to a full on mutiny, which kills several of his friends and ends with Yondu imprisoned. The events of the mutiny lead Kraglin to free Yondu in hopes of earning redemption. Eventually he joins the Guardians of the Galaxy after Yondu's death.
  • Colonel Andrea Stavros, played by Anthony Quinn, in The Guns of Navarone.
  • In the film Meet Dave, the Number Two of The Captain was also literally named Number Two (or sometimes simply 'Two'), and is given no other name. He becomes concerned about the Captain's lack of enthusiasm for the ship's mission, especially his treating of humans as equals, and ultimately pulls an Anti-Mutiny.
  • Dominic Badguy is number two to Constantine the Frog in Muppets Most Wanted, and Constantine does not let him forget it. He even sings a song about it.
  • Herc Hansen to Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim. It makes sense seeing how both of them were involved in the Jaeger program when it first began and piloted Mark-1 Jaegers and were likely good friends. Taken further when after Pentecost's Heroic Sacrifice, Herc becomes the new Marshall.
  • In Rats: Night of Terror, Deus seems to be second-in-command within the group after Kurt.
  • Bumblebee to Optimus Prime in the Transformers Film Series. Though usually if Bumblebee is absent from the battlefield due to having to "babysit" Sam Witwicky, then it's either Ironhide or Ratchet.
  • Kyle Reese was this to John Connor in The Terminator before becoming his biological father by time traveling and impregnating John's mother.
  • Played straight in Twelve O'Clock High. Upon coming in and taking over when the Commander of Bomb Group has been relieved, the first thing General Savage does is have the Vice Commander (Number Two) of the Bomb Group brought to him under guard, then he proceeds to tear him a new asshole, relieve him of duty, and assign him the biggest fuck-ups in the outfit. He basically tells him that one of the reasons the commander had to be relieved is because he was forced to do too much because he, as Number Two, shirked his duties and didn't take enough tasks off the Commander's shoulders. Savage selects a more competent Vice Commander from the other officers in the outfit, and the disgraced officer spends the film trying to redeem himself (which he does).
  • X-Men Film Series:

  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: As Amina's first mate, Tinbu knows the ship, its maintenance, and its operation inside and out. She trusts him to act as captain in her absence, though he's very relieved to relinquish the leadership back to her upon her return.
  • The Alice Network: Violette is Lili's second in command. She's not as brilliant a spy as Lili is, and we never get to see her in action, but she does assist Lili and function as her stern Foil.
  • Tobias to Jake in Animorphs as Jake also usually appoints him leader of the Marco-Tobias-Ax sub-team, which ended up carrying the end of the war.
  • In Annals of the Western Shore, Brantor Canoc of Caspromant has Alloc. Alloc considers himself not nearly as smart as Canoc or heir Orrec and his gift is not as strong, but he's solid and sensible. When Canoc dies and Orrec 'inherits', Alloc still considers himself to be the Number Two even though Orrec is mostly just agreeing with his suggestions.
  • In The Cold Moons, Buckwheat is this to Eldon. He would have likely been leader if the badgers had voted for one, but they decided that they loved the previous leader Jason so much that they'd make his son leader. Unfortunately, Eldon has none of his father's leadership abilities and would prefer to sleep than lead. This leaves Buckwheat as the voice of reason for the badgers.
  • The Cruel Sea covers a "Number One's" duties (on anti-submarine craft) in exhaustive detail, since the protagonist is one (and the writer WAS one).
  • A Desolation Called Peace: Twenty Cicada has served as Nine Hibiscus' adjutant for decades and retains the position after her promotion to yaotlek (roughly a Fleet Admiral). He knows precisely how best to support her, is uncannily omnipresent in the fleet, has a huge network of informants, and is her most trusted friend.
  • In Discworld, the incompetent "Wizzard" Rincewind works as right-hand-man for The Librarian- which, since the latter is an orangutan, mostly consists of peeling bananas for him. The Dean rudely refers to him as "an ape's number two."
  • Ender's Game: Bean to Ender; if Ender ever broke under the strain, the plan was to have Bean take over. His own portrayal of the same story in Ender's Shadow has him deciding that while he is the better tactician, he is not a commander of men and thus should be in such a role.
  • For most of the Harry Potter series, Professor McGonagall is Dumbledore's Number Two, holding the title of "deputy headmistress". For the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore's Number Two is Mad-Eye Moody. For protecting Harry and gathering intel on Voldemort, Snape is his Number Two. And for facing down Voldemort and his allies, Harry ends up in this position. Really, Dumbledore's got these all over the place.
  • The Honor Harrington series has a wide and ever-changing variety of these due to having a large cast (who are often given surprisingly little Plot Armor). In the first book, Captain Harrington's Number Two is Alistair McKeon, who starts as an embittered Commander Contrarian note  before he finally steps up as The Lancer.
  • William Bush through most of the Horatio Hornblower books, as his first lieutenant and then the captain of Commodore Hornblower's flagship. He's The Lancer: not a genius like Hornblower, but solid, steady, and uncomplicated. He's frequently shown to e an excellent sailor who can always carry through Hornblower's plans reliably (and tries, if he can, to make sure Hornblower actually eats and sleeps).
  • Erin Hunter:
    • In Warrior Cats, all leaders appoint a "deputy", who is the second in command and succeeds them when they die. Both leader and deputy have quite a bit of responsibility, with the deputy doing jobs such as organizing all patrols.
    • In Survivor Dogs, this would be the pack's "beta". The beta is the second-in-command to the pack alpha. The alpha relies on the beta for guidance and second opinion. It's also mentioned that they often become mates, though it's not required.
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy Tristen is this to Perceval in the second volume, calling himself First Mate and acting the part.
  • Journey to Chaos
    • Retis is the second in command for the Dragon's Lair mercenary guild. He works directly under Ridley the Dragoness and maintains peace within the guild building
    • Samael's title is "Right hand of Death and Overseer of Necrocraft". She is the highest ranking Grim Reaper in Lord Death's Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Iron Alice DeRosa. She often serves as a sounding board for the captain.
  • Newt from The Maze Runner Trilogy. In the Glade, he answered only to the leader, Alby. He was generally the second-in-command within the main group of characters too.
  • Moby-Dick: Starbuck to Ahab.
  • The Mortal Instruments:
    • Raphael Santiago to Camille Belcourt.
    • Stephen Herondale to Valentine Morgenstern, when he was still alive, after Valentine cast out Luke for becoming a werewolf.
  • The protagonist Commander Dan Collins of the naval murder mystery Official Privilege had served an at sea deployment as a destroyer’s Executive Officer and is currently on a staff rotation awaiting a ship command to become available to him.
  • Rebuild World: Sheryl serving as Supporting Leader of her gang at Akira’s behest has the couple Erio and Alicia sharing the positions of her top lieutenants, also playing a Those Two Guys role. Erio in particular serves as a Morality Pet for Sheryl, with more Character Focus. Erio is the strongest warrior among the Street Urchin members aside from Akira, and in charge of security, while Alicia is in charge of finances. There being two reflects how, eventually, the boys in the gang tend towards the Private Military Contractors branch, while the girls work the relic shop.
  • The ship full of useless people from Golgafrincham in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe has a captain who spends years in his bathtub drinking "gynnan tonix", a Number One officer who takes life easy, and a Number Two officer who goose-steps around like a stormtrooper (or like Rimmer from Red Dwarf) looking for chances to be useful.
  • In the backstory of Safehold, Eric Langhorne had two Number Twos — Adoree Bedard was responsible for keeping the colonists in the dark about their pasts, while Maruyama Chihiro wrote the Holy Writ.
  • In the Sandokan series Sambigliong, the third in command of the Tigers of Mompracem, is this to both Sandokan and Yanez.
  • Song at Dawn: Dragonetz has three of them: Arnaud for the battlefield, Al-Hisba for the paper mill and Sanchez in spying.
  • Alric of The Spirit Thief is the Deputy Commander of the League of Storms, and as such he serves as the second-in-command to the Lord of Storms.
  • Star Wars Legends
    • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Grand Admiral Thrawn and Captain Pellaeon.
    • Hand of Thrawn Duology:
      • Pellaeon finds that he's now the Grand Admiral, with Captain Ardiff now serving as his second.
      • General Bel Iblis strikes a deal with Booster Terrik — Booster's Star Destroyer gets fixed up and flies for the New Republic in her time of need, and Booster gets to keep captaining her during this. When they fly into battle against hopeless odds and Booster wants to save his ship, Bel Iblis overrides him. Booster angrily reminds him that he's the captain of this ship. Bel Iblis calmly says yes. But he is the ship's admiral.
    • In the X-Wing Series
      • Although Wedge heads both squadrons he also has a second. Tycho seems to fill the role in Rogue Squadron, at least after those murder and treason charges were cleared up, and Face has the job in Wraith Squadron.
      • At times Wedge almost functions as Admiral Ackbar's second even though he is only a lowly commander.
    • Legacy of the Force: The Quarren Kral Nevil served as this to Darth Caedus (fka Jacen Solo), at least up until Caedus killed Lieutenant Tebut in anger after she unwittingly let a Jedi team onboard the Anakin Solo. Not long afterwards Nevil defected to the faction of the GFFA loyal to Admiral Niathal.
  • During the Sword of Truth: Chainfire Trilogy, when his true love is missing, Richard Rahl primarily relies on Nicci, his Black Magician Girl, to be his right-hand. In her first appearance in Chainfire, she's seen healing Richard of a mortal injury, and afterwards functions mainly as his constant shadow and advisor on magical issues. Interestingly enough, she had previously played the role of number two to Richard's archnemesis.
  • Subverted in Thunderball: the senior people of SPECTRE are addressed by code numbers such as "Number Two" during their meetings, but the number assigned to each person changes on a monthly rotation. Blofeld, absolute leader of SPECTRE, was "Number Two" in that book. (The movie made Blofeld Number One to avoid confusing viewers about who was in charge, since it didn't have the narrative explaining that this was a security measure.)
  • In military science fiction Victoria, protagonist John Rumford becomes this to rebel leader William Kraft after he merges his own militia of freedom fighters into the latter's broader coalition. After Kraft becomes Governor of the independent Confederation, Rumford remains effectively his second-in-command as Chief of the General Staff.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Ceranna Babineaux, a student witch studying at an evil Wizarding School, is ranked second in the student body. Her rank allows her to become the number two of Morgan, the top-ranked student witch in the class.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All Saints: Stephanie Markham was the initial second-in-command of the Ward 17 Nursing Unit. When she dies in a car accident in Season 3, she's succeeded by Connor Costello, who was in turn replaced by Nelson Curtis a year later. When Nelson became the Nursing Unit Manager of the Emergency Department, his second was Jessica Singleton. Both Connor and Jessica had storylines involving conflict with a temporary Acting NUM, in part due to believing they should have got the job.
  • Commander Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5, the station's Executive Officer, is frequently approached by alien diplomats with personal problems. Although her job is to deal with the routine day-to-day matters coming from the station, Sinclair and Sheridan are the military governors of the station and responsible for making decisions and interacting with the ambassadors on a professional level. Later in the series her job gets harder when Sheridan is also running a war (or two). Fortunately, she and Sinclair got on extremely well, and she and Sheridan are Like Brother and Sister and trust each other implicitly.
    • When Commander Ivanova becomes the station's de facto commander later on due to Sheridan being busy running the aforementioned war (or two), Lieutenant David Corwin becomes her Number Two. He continues this role when Ivanova is transferred out and replaced with Captain Elizabeth Lochley.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • The active XO of the Galactica is Saul Tigh, unless he's being an alcoholic or mustered out, then Helo gets the job. He's this to Adama in the original series as well.
    • Col. Jack Fisk serves the same role on the Pegasus, but his relationship with his commander is quite different. He's scared shitless of Cain, carrying out her orders out of fear — granted, having your predecessor shot in front of you will do that to a man.
    • Within the Blue Squadron, Starbuck is this to Apollo at least in the original show.
  • Blue Heelers:
    • For the first five seasons, the second-in-command of Mt Thomas Police Station was Senior Constable Nick Schultz, promoted to Sergeant around the same time that his boss Tom Croydon was promoted to Senior Sergeant.
    • After Nick left, Senior Constable Maggie Doyle was made Acting Sergeant, but asked to step down in Season 6, in favour of Snr. Constable Ben Stewart.
    • In Season 7, Sgt. Tess Gallagher was assigned, taking Ben's place in the chain of command. After she left in Season 10, Ben was named Acting Sergeant again and promoted permanently at the beginning of Season 11.
    • Partway through Season 11, Sgt. Mark Jacobs was assigned by an Inspector with a grudge against both Tom and Ben, in hopes of him taking over the station when the former retired. Mark and Ben divided duties between them for a few months before Ben left, leaving Mark as second-in-command.
    • After Mark left towards the end of Season 12, Tom named Snr. Constable Susie Raynor Acting Sergeant only for the aforementioned Inspector to override him in the next episode, in favour of Alex Kirby, who remained in that position until the final episode.
  • In The Brittas Empire, Laura functions as Gordon Brittas' Number Two... although in practice she's more like his Hypercompetent Sidekick. Amusingly enough, her second name is Lancing.
  • Buffyverse:
    • This is never stated openly, but Willow seems to be Buffy's Number Two. Whenever Buffy isn't around, and the Scooby Gang needs a leader, Willow instantly steps up to the plate.
    • Xander, due to his brief transformation into soldier, becomes Buffy's Number Two for the Graduation Day battle. He was also this to Buffy in the Slayer Organization.
      • While the transformation was temporary, Xander has demonstrated that he can recall the skills and mentality of his "costume" at will, making his placement in the Slayer Organisation make a lot more sense.
    • Similarly, in Angel, Wesley takes the Number Two spot in Angel Investigations.
  • Doctor Who: Due to their relationship with the Doctor, most companions find themselves in this position to some degree, however Clara Oswald takes it to another level by explicitly being recognized — by the paramilitary organization UNIT and the prime minister of Great Britain, no less — as acting on the Doctor's behalf in his absence on several occasions.
  • In Falling Skies Tom Mason is second-in-command to Dan Weaver of the 2nd Massachusetts. This relationship flips as the show develops, although it's quite natural and the two actually become better friends in the process.
  • Zoe is Mal's Number Two in Firefly. Mal was Zoe's superior back when they were still in the war, and aboard Serenity, much of the same relationship continues. She is the more pragmatic Lancer to Mal's sometimes idiotic heroics.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The office of Hand of the King could be considered this, but depending on where the individual who holds the title falls on the morality scale, or where their king falls for that matter, this could also be The Dragon. A specific example of this would be Ned to Robert as Hand of the King.
      Jaime: "What's the line? 'The King shits, and the Hand wipes.'" The books put it much more nicely, with the phrase "What the King dreams, the Hand builds".
    • Sansa becomes this to Littlefinger in Season 4 when she begins actively helping him with his schemes. Later, she becomes something of a Hand to Jon when he gears up for war with the Boltons and eventually becomes King in the North.
    • Ramsay Bolton is his father's second-in-command and top enforcer.
    • Jaime names Bronn second in command of Lannister forces during the siege of Riverrun.
    • Daenerys considers Jorah this and relies on her advice and opinion more than that of Ser Barristan (whom she only recently met) and Missandei. She consults him in private after dismissing her council about her misgivings for riding to Westeros and listens to him when he counsels mercy.
    • However, Missandei later seems to be shaping up to be this for Daenerys — Daario even says Dany trusts no one more than she trusts Missandei.
  • House of the Dragon: Daemon Targaryen becomes this to his wife Rhaenyra in the Black faction when the Civil War against the Green faction starts, being an accomplished warrior and an unmatched specialist in dragons.
  • The third series of Horatio Hornblower is the one in which he gets his own command, and as in the books he asks William Bush to be his first lieutenant. Bush is a no-nonsense disciplinarian who does his best to keep the Hotspur running like clockwork, so that Horatio can deal with the overall mission and not worry about minutiae like incompetent midshipmen or irritating French expatriates working for England.
  • In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 9 premiere Captain Cragian had to leave and Munch took his place.
  • In Lost Ben becomes this to Hurley after he becomes protector of The Island in the Grand Finale
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Elrond acts as King Gil-galad's most trusted advisor and missionary for diplomatic delegations.
  • Tony DiNozzo is Gibbs' Number Two on NCIS. While DiNozzo is usually a Jerk Jock who's always got a smartass comment ready, when he's put in charge he's almost as competent as Gibbs. After Tony retires from NCIS in the Season 13 finale because he is now the only parent of his and Ziva's two-year-old daughter after the latter's death, the second-in-command role is passed onto Timothy McGee, symbolized by Tony dubbing him "Very Special Agent" during their goodbye.
  • The Office (US) has several of these. Jan from the executive branch has Michael (the manager) and Toby (the HR liaison) as her Number Twos. Dwight acts as Michael's Number Two but is not in any official way. Jim is his actual Number Two by Season 3, although what with how much work Michael actually gets done, Jim is the one actually running the office.
  • On Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope as deputy director is Number Two to Ron Swanson, director of the Parks and Rec department. ... At least officially. In reality, she's the only one getting anything done, since Ron has admitted on camera that he hates government, and plays the Obstructive Bureaucrat to the hilt.
    • Later, Ben Wyatt is introduced as Number Two to Chris Traeger, and later still, Leslie appears to be grooming April Ludgate as her own Number Two.
  • In Power Rangers, most Blue or Black Rangers act as second-in-command to the leader (usually Red).
  • In The Prisoner (1967), The Village is for most intents and purposes run by Number Two, although the individual holding this title changes frequently. This of course raises the inevitable question, "Who is Number One?" The subsequent Prisoner graphic novel "Shattered Visage" answers this with another question: "does the existence of Number Two imply the existence of Number One?"
  • Sea Patrol. Lt Kate McGregor, apply nicknamed "XO," is second in command and the leader of the boarding parties.
  • In SeaQuest DSV, the executive officer of the titular submarine is Commander Jonathan Ford (Don Franklin), first under Captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider) and then under Captain Oliver Hudson (Michael Ironside).
  • Stargate SG-1 has Samantha Carter to Jack O'Neill, of course they are the only two members of the military on the team.
  • Every Star Trek series places the executive officer as a prominent character. They are often The Lancer as well, bringing a different perspective or background to the captain's and acting as a sounding board when it's time to make the tough call. They also take command of the ship if the captain is absent or injured or Borged.
    • In the original pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, this position was filled by a Brainy Brunette Ice Queen who was only referred to as "Number One". Spock was only the Science Officer and had not yet established his character, so she plays the coldly dispassionate foil for Captain Pike (although he appears to take command when Number One is abducted, which would make him the Second Officer).
    • Spock in the rest of the series, trope namer for The Spock. Though a member of Starfleet, his adherence to logic and dispassionate perspective plays off of Kirk's tendency to get emotionally involved in situations. Spock also continues as the ship's Science Officer and this often takes precedence over his position as first officer for most practical purposes. Every subsequent Star Trek series, except for Enterprise, had the role of first officer as a standalone position.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: William Riker, who Picard calls Number One (as his position is first officer below the captain). The episode "Lower Decks" demonstrates that he is very much the authority figure to the crew: setting watch schedules, maintaining discipline, handling promotions, etcetera.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Kira Nerys is a liaison officer sent by the Bajoran government to the Federation-commanded, Bajoran-owned station. (Their working relationship is slightly complicated by his becoming a messianic figure in her planet's religion.) She's not afraid to speak her mind or disagree with him. Initially Kira is also the first officer of the Defiant, the ship stationed at DS9 which Sisko commands, but the illogic of a Bajoran militiaman as second-in-command of a Starfleet vessel stretched enough credulity that when Worf was added to the cast, he became the first officer instead — which is played out in a brief power struggle when Sisko is missing and Kira (who commands DS9) refuses to allow the Defiant (commanded by Worf) out to look for him.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Janeway's original XO dies when the ship is flung into the Delta Quadrant. She appoints the captain of the Maquis ship as her first officer when they're forced to combine their crews on her ship. He keeps his half of the crew cooperative but also takes the role of Janeway's conscience and confidant.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: T'Pol is posted to the ship by Vulcan High Command to keep an eye on the humans in their first deep-space venture. She's not officially a member of Starfleet until the fourth season (which causes a minor argument between her and the ship's engineer over who takes the chair when Archer's not around — it ends up being her). Archer resents her at first, but they eventually come to trust each other. Like Spock, she also doubles as science officer.
    • Star Trek: Discovery broke from the pattern by casting the ship's number two as the main character. (Although Trek shows since the original have used an Ensemble Cast, the captain was still decidedly the protagonist.) Season 2 also expands more on Number One, Christopher Pike's first officer (and yes, that appears to be her actual name), this time played by Rebecca Romijn.
      • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a spin-off with Pike and Number One maintaing their roles as Captain and first officer. Her name is actually Una Chin-Riley, but her role as Number One is used as an agnomen in place of her actual name or even her rank.
      • Star Trek: Lower Decks has Commander Jack Ransom, a rugged Ace Pilot who enjoys fighting bare handed, but he is not a main character, as the real main characters are the four titular "lower deckers".
    • Averted with Star Trek: Prodigy. There's only five main characters plus a Team Pet and a holographic Janeway on board the ship. Dal is the Captain, they have a science officer (Rok-Tahk), engineer (Jankom Pog) and a pilot (Zero) while the fifth character (Gwyn) was taken hostage by the crew to help them escape. Due to being the daughter of the villain of the show with shifting loyaties Gwyn was not trusted enough to be the equivalent of a second in command.
  • Super Sentai
  • Some Ultra Series have these, typically those where the captain remains at base to give out commands, meaning the rest of the defense team has to be led by the Number Two on the field. Examples include Seiichiro Munakata from Ultraman Tiga (although his title was "Commander"), Toshiyuki Kohda from Ultraman Dyna (who serves as a cooler head for the boisterous Captain Hibiki), Mizuki Shinobu from Ultraman Cosmos (the first female one), Sayuri Tachibana from Ultraman X (though unlike the others, she generally remains in base alongside Captain Kamiki), and Shin Hayata from the original Ultraman (who was none other than Ultraman's human host!).
  • Leo McGarry on The West Wing, the President's Chief-Of-Staff. Since Vice-Presidents are only used as a political tactic in the U.S., they usually don't actually have much to do with running the country, and in practice, the only thing that makes Leo a slight subversion of the Number Two is that he can't ascend to President upon death or disability. Legally and in public, that is...
    • This leads to a few problems in Season 2: when the President is shot and rushed into surgery, everyone reflexively takes their orders from Leo until Bartlet's conscious again. Then the dust settles and people start pointing out that, legally speaking, they can't do that.
      Toby: The Commander in Chief had just been attacked, he was under a general anesthetic, a fugitive was at large, the manhunt included every federal state and local law enforcement agency. The Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware National Guard units were federalized. The KH-10s showed Republican Guard movement in southern Iraq. And 12 hours earlier an F-117 was shot down in the no-fly, and the Vice President's authority was murky at best! The National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State didn't know who they were taking their orders from. I wasn't in the Situation Room that night, but I'll bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that it was Leo. Who no one elected! For 90 minutes that night, there was a coup d'état in this country.
    • Josh eventually becomes Number Two to Matt Santos.

  • In recent Dutch tradition the main helper of Saint Nicholas, Hoofdpiet (Head Pete).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Killer Kowalski owned his own wrestling school, and instruction was ultimately up to him. But he left a lot of the teaching to JAPW's Slyck Wagner Brown.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Battletech, the Clans have the position of saKhan. Each Clan is lead by a Khan, one of their most senior and respected Warriors elected by the Clan Council. Each Khan then selects a saKhan from amongst the Clan Council, who (provided they succeed at a Trial of Position to prove their credentials) is then given the position. The saKhan's primary role is to ensure leadership in the event of the Khan dying in battle against an external enemy by immediately becoming Khan until the crisis has passed. In the event that the Khan is overthrown by an internal challenger, the saKhan will most commonly either be that challenger or the Khan's first stand-in for the challenge.
  • One Paranoia mission introduces the new Mandatory Bonus Duty of Executive Officer, who (in addition to the usual roles) gets a brevet promotion for the purpose of wearing a higher-clearance uniform — the idea is that Commies will mistake him for the Team Leader and concentrate their fire on him instead. As usual for Paranoia, The Computer didn't think this through properly:
    Green-clearance Team Leader: All right, men, let's go!
    Random bystander: Hey, why are you letting him boss you around?
    "Blue"-clearance Executive Officer: Hey, yeah! *shoots the Team Leader* All right, men, let's go!
  • The command structure for Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000 sometimes has predetermined successors for Chapter Masters, usually if the Chapter Master bites it the Captain of the First Company takes over but in the case of the Ultramarines Sicarius is being groomed as Calgar's successor and he's Captain of the Second Company.
    • When a member of a squad dies, in most cases, the player whose squad it is gets to pick which model is removed; the rules say this is to represent corporals taking over for sergeants, or extra grunts grabbing the fallen heavy weapon.
    • During the Great Crusade, the Primarchs (the head of the Space Marine Legions) would usually split the role of Number Two between the First Captain and their own Equerry. The First Captain would be the senior most commander after the Primarch, while the Equerry would be a personal adviser. For those Primarchs who went rogue, the First Captain would become The Dragon while the Equerry would become The Consigliere.

  • Tsukiuta has this dynamic with Six Gravity leader Hajime and his partner Haru, and Procellarum leader Shun and his partner Kai. Prince/Knight elements are played up, especially in Alternate Universe scenarios like Rabbits Kingdom and Tsukino Empire, where the leaders are real kings and princes.
    • The Tsukino Hyakki Yakou setting play Kurenai Enishi also features original characters, two brothers who are the leaders of rival Tengu villages, and their seconds, Kansuke and Sekisai. Their relationships are contrasted with those of the leader pairs.

    Video Games 
  • Jack is literally labeled as the Number Two to King in Cave Story; he is the Mimiga village's second in command and guards the door to the graveyard. Despite being one of the most minor characters in the game, he gets an ironically major role as the main protagonist in Cave Story Versus IM Meen, but ultimately, he's still number two.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Alistair serves here by default in due to the rest of the order being wiped out at Ostagar, leaving him as the only other Grey Warden (not imprisoned) in Ferelden, aside from the Warden. Unusual in that Alistair has been a Grey Warden longer and should really outrank the PC. He just prefers to leave leadership up to someone else.
    • Bann Tegan serves as this for his brother, Arl Eamon, taking over the defense of Redcliffe from the undead attacks, due to Eamon having fallen into a coma after being poisoned.
    • Knight-Lieutenant/Captain Cullen is this to Knight-Commander Greagoir in Origins and later to Knight-Commander Meredith in Dragon Age II, as well as an increasingly rare voice of sanity in the order. In Dragon Age: Inquisition he is technically more powerful, but is part of a war council and not a straight step down.
    • Amongst the Dalish, the "First" is the apprentice and appointed successor of the Keepers. Lanaya and Merrill are both the First of their respective clans in Origins, while Velanna from Awakening is a former First, having been exiled after she went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the humans she (erroneously) believed kidnapped her sister.
    • Varel in Awakening and Bran in II serve as the resident Seneschal for the Warden-Commander and Viscount Dumar.
  • Dragon Age II
    • Hawke serves this role to the Viscount during the second act, negotiating with the Qunari on his behalf. This is because the Arishok views Hawke as the most "promising" individual in the city, while the only words he will deign to say to the Viscount is "Begone!".
    • Aveline and Varric frequently share the role of Number Two and The Lancer for Hawke, throughout the second game.
  • DAX is the long-suffering second-in-command of the ZEX in Star Control II. He's never actually seen, ZEX says things to him offscreen.
  • Dragon Quest V: Warrior Faerie Honey is specifically stated to be Queen Treacle's second-in-command.
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • Evil Genius had a character known only as Number 2. She exists only in the tutorial level and provides the voiceover in explanation videos. In her unit description, she is remarked as "The Indispensable Number 2", much in contrast to when Maximillian has her shot at the end of the tutorial.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Officially, Barret is in command of AVALANCHE with Tifa as his Number Two and Cloud as some temporary hired muscle. By the time the party leaves Midgar Cloud is the acknowledged leader, with Tifa as his unofficial Number Two. As captain of the Highwind, Cid later takes on the role, taking over the leadership of the party when Cloud is incapacitated and Tifa stays behind to care for him.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is given command of his mercenary unit, with his number two switching to each different party member as the plot demands. At first, Quistis is given command when he's not around or the group needs to split (such as in Deling City). The beginning of Disc 2 has Selphie leading a mission at Squall's direction and her insistence, while the end of Disc 2 has a sequence where Irvine is given command of the party while Squall leads the GARDEN's forces in battle, Disc 3 features Edea as his second during the trip to Esthar, and Zell during a portion of time there. By the final disc, Rinoa is solidly his Number Two for the rest of the plot.
  • Lester from Galaxy Angel; in later games his role is taken up by Coco, a former Bridge Bunny, and, in her own story thread, the Angel Forte.
  • Apparently subverted in Kingdom Hearts. In Organization XIII, every member has a number, with Xemnas, their leader, as Number I. However, the numbering is merely based on the order that the members joined, and it appears that nobody but Vexen actually cares about numbers beyond I. In day-to-day operations, Number VII, Saïx, handles the administrative work and issuing out missions for the rest of the Organization. Reinforcing this, Number II, Xigbar, is presented as just another member of the Organization. However, it turns out to be played straight, albeit secretively. Xigbar knows far more about Xemnas's plans and movements than the other members of the Organization, and it just so happens that back when they were both human, Xehanort and Braig had this exact relationship (after Xehanort's other Dragon bought it, that is).
  • Kirby has many friends, but for many of his games, Kirby primarily either fought by himself or had a changing cast of partners, such as the animal buddies in Kirbys Dreamland 2 or the helpers in Kirby Super Star and Kirby Star Allies. There are exceptions to this though:
    • Kirbys Dreamland 3 brings back the animal buddies (and adds a few more), but the game also introduces Gooey, a little friendly blob of Dark Matter that has similar properties to Kirby, such as floating and copy abilities. He is seen in the intro alongside Kirby when the Dark Matter attacks Pop Star and can be controlled by a second player.
    • Bandana Waddle Dee has slowly been taking over this role for many modern Kirby games. Starting out as a Zero-Effort Boss in Kirby Super Star Ultra, he proves to be more capable in Kirbys Return To Dreamland, being Promoted to Playable alongside the other three Kirby main characters. Since then, Bandana Waddle Dee took the Player 2 role more prominently over time, often being either a helpful ally in the background, being one of the first allies when a large list of characters are playable, and taking the second player role in spinoff games. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first mainline series title where Bandana Waddle Dee is Kirby's only ally that can be controlled by a second player, placing him more comfortably in this role.
  • This rotates over the game in The Legend of Dragoon:
    • The Number Two is Lavitz for Disc 1 until he dies, and then, it changes to Albert. Albert is the Number Two throughout Disc 2 and into Disc 3 until Miranda takes charge during the Mille Seseau arc of the story. When Disc 4 comes around, Rose is solidly the Number Two.
  • In Mass Effect, Commander Shepard starts out as Captain Anderson's Executive Officer on the Normandy SR-1. Once s/he's given command of the Normandy, Navigator Pressley becomes XO.
    • In Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson serves as XO on the Normandy SR-2, as well as acting as Shepard's Handler. Jacob Taylor and Garrus Vakarian can act as unofficial Number Twos, if you're so inclined.
      • Garrus seems to be the biggest contender here, having the same attitude as a Paragade Shepard, being a leader in his own right, and in canon traveling with Shepard through the entire series. By Mass Effect 3, the Turians are essentially treating Garrus as their Shepard.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Liara takes over as the unofficial XO of the Normandy, uses her new position as the Shadow Broker to aid in gathering war-assets, while coordinating with the Alliance on the progress of the Crucible project. This is once again shared with Garrus, if he's still alive, who takes up the military part of it, as a fellow soldier and Shepard's longest serving companion.
    • In the Omega DLC, Bray is Aria T'Loak's official Number Two working to coordinate her forces on Omega, while Shepard is recruited to be her unofficial Number Two, as the One Wo/Man Army working to reclaim the station itself.
  • In Warship Gunner 2, the player can choose between three XOs by making certain gameplay decisions at the start of the campaign. There is nothing in the game to indicate how this works, even though it has huge plot effects.
  • Since the first Neverwinter Nights campaign only lets you have one henchman, he/she is sort of your Number Two. Given the preferential treatment required to keep a love interest with you in the Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic (and sequels) games, they could probably qualify (though in the original Neverwinter Nights campaign neither Love Interest will join your party).
  • Tails serves as this to Sonic the Hedgehog and the most likely to tag along in his adventures. He even sometimes takes over in Sonic's absence.
  • In StarCraft Brood War, Admiral Gerard DuGalle second-in-command of the UED fleet is Vice-Admiral Alexei Stukov.
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander starts with the Player Character being a new First Officer aboard the USS Dauntless. Then the Captain is killed by a sudden nova, resulting in your field promotion to captain. Commander Saffi Larsen becomes your XO for the rest of the game. In fact, she may relieve you of command if you fail a mission.
  • In Star Trek Away Team the First Officer of the USS Incursion is Commander Quint Freedman.
  • The Suikoden franchise, given its military setting, has this trope in spades:
    • The first has a few seconds switching out for Tir as the game progresses. At first, it's Ted, who's very close to him. Gremio then fills the role for a period of time until he bites the dust. At that point, Tir's most constant Number Twos are Flik and Viktor, with Cleo also being part of the core confidants.
    • II's shining example is Nanami, who's almost constantly in the party as a result.
    • III has multiple character point of views, many of whom have a Number Two in some way or form: Hugo has Sgt. Joe and later on, Lilly; Thomas has Cecile; Chris has Borus, Percival, and later, Nash; Geddoe's whole squad counts in various ways, but Queen is usually his second in battle; Sasarai has Dios; and finally, Luc has Sarah.
    • IV initially features Snowe, Lazlo's best friend. Later, whomever leaves with him when he's exiled out of Keneth, Paula, Tal, and Jewel become his co-lieutenants. By the time the rebellion is established, Lazlo's number twos become Lino and Kika.
    • Tactics initially has Andarc and Seneca has Kyril's partners. While they maintain importance in the story, they eventually are replaced in the role by Corselia, whose role in the plot is very personal.
    • V has a natural inclination toward this, as the hero, Frey, is royalty and has a personal bodyguard in the form of Lyon (and in a first for the series, she follows him on the field). Whenever she isn't available, Miakis fills in for her, and Roog even fills in for her when she's disallowed in the party for plot reasons.
  • Sunrider has Ava Crescentia, the executive officer of the titular ship and second-in-command to its captain Kayto Shields. She’s in charge of managing the crew’s day-to-day operations and maintaining discipline, and in battle she controls the Sunrider directly, leaving Kayto free to direct the overall battle plan.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, Tetsuya is this to the Hagane's Captain Daitetsu, and Sean is this to the Hiryu's Captain Lefina. Sadly, due to Sixth Ranger rules, the only counterpart to the Kurogane's Captain-slash-Ace Pilot Elzam Ratsel is some nameless mook with his eyes obscured. After Daitetsu's death, Tetsuya takes over as The Captain and Eita becomes his Number Two.
  • In Super Mario Bros. Luigi is usually the character for the player two and was called "King of second bananas" in Super Smash Bros..
    • For the Mario & Luigi it's usually joked that no one recognizes Luigi and everyone knows Mario. Even Bowser doesn't know who Luigi is and calls him Green Stache.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Botta is this to Yuan in the Renegades. Since Yuan is a double agent and has to keep his identity under wraps, this leads to the initial impression that Botta is actually the leader, until the main character gets captured and encounters Yuan, who is then seen giving Botta orders.
  • Penultimo in the Tropico series is this for El Presidente. It's even in his name, "penúltimo" meaning second-to-last. He tends to favor El Presidente over the well-being of the people, but on several occasions he becomes a Treacherous Advisor.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has Central Officer Bradford, who manages the base, keeps the Easy Logistics easy, and sorts through intel to create missions, leaving the Commander to handle the strategic and tactical matters. In the Alternate Timeline of the sequel XCOM 2, Bradford is forced to take command of the organization for two decades until the Commander's return, upon which he gladly steps down to resume his previous role of XCOM's XO.

    Visual Novels 
  • Choices: Stories You Play:
    • The Heist: Monaco: Rye works this way for Lee at certain times. In the chapter where Lee was lost on an island, he led the group to find him/her.
    • Wake the Dead: Dirk served thus for Ash, being the one who commanded Olympus while (s)he was away... until he betrayed him/her.
    • Laws of Attraction: Eli Byrne is the co-founder of McGraw Byrne alongside the firm's former CEO, Sadie McGraw, which makes him the de-facto deputy CEO.

    Web Comics 
  • In Alice and the Nightmare, Queen Rougina has two: Azalea is her captain of the Guard, and Spade is her President.
  • In Captain Ufo, Ufo's First Mate is called Number One, even by the judge who took him to trial.
  • In Dubious Company:
    • Officially Tiren is Captain Walter's first mate.
    • Leeroy is the security lieutenant of the Temple of Phred. He gets reassigned as Tiren's lieutenant after Sal joins the crew.
    • It has never been established who is General Izor's lieutenant and no rank has been mentioned about any of the Imperial Elite Guard. Sue and Gary seem to rotate as the functioning capacity of this role.
  • Girl Genius gives us several:
    • Moloch von Zinzer, who is, to his immense displeasure, Agatha Heterodyne's top minion. As Mechanicsburg is a town filled entirely with minions loyal to the House of Heterodyne, this essentially makes him the most powerful minion in the town.
    • Vanamonde von Mekkhan (and before him, his grandfather Carson) is the Seneschal of Castle Heterodyne, and his power is second only to the Heterodynes themselves.
    • According to the Novels, Boris Dolokhov is this for the Baron. When the Baron is indisposed, Boris has to run the Empire in his place.
  • Homestuck:
    • Diamonds Droog was Spade Slick/Jack Noir's second in command. When Slick recruits the Felt, Crowbar becomes the new second in command.
    • In the Alpha universe, the Draconian Dignitary became the Condesce's second in command after Jack Noir was imprisoned by Prospit.
    • It's pretty much stated that one of SBURB's constants is that at the start of the game Jack Noir is the second in command to the Black Queen... and he hates her guts.
  • In Nebula, Mercury is pretty much Sun's right-hand man, and possibly the only one Sun is actually close to. Might be a Red Oni, Blue Oni thing — Sun is aloof to the point of isolation, while Mercury is constantly butting into everyone's business.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Haley to Roy for the Order, due to a bit of fast talking when she first joined up. While at first she just wanted a larger share of the treasure, she grows into a second-in-command who can offer advice on sneaky tactics, making a nice counterpoint to Roy's clever but usually straight-forward plans.
    • Redcloak is this to Xykon, and has one of his own in Jirix.
    • The booted Wight to Tsukiko.
    • Niu is this to the leader of the Azure City Resistance (originally Haley, later Thanh).
  • The Paradox Space comic "The Inaugural Death of Mister Seven" has the titular Number Seven discuss this in relation to his gang, the Felt. Number Seven acts as the Number Three to two omnipotent villains known as Doc Scratch and Lord English. In practice though, English works alone, leaving Scratch in charge and Number Seven as the Number Two. Oh, and the member who's number is actually two is not the Number Two, and Doc Scratch gets no actual number. Number Seven tries to ignore the whole mess and just do his job.
  • In Weak Hero, each of the Yeongdeungpo Union heads has a right-hand man. Devious Jimmy Bae has the comparatively serious Jack; Forrest, having once been a right-hand man himself, has two in Grape and Robin, who fight each other for the position; Jared serves as Wolf Keum's right-hand man until his treacherous False Flag Operation is revealed and Wolf gives him a thrashing; the light-hearted Jake Ji has the dour Dean to keep him in line; and then there's Donald Na at the top, who's assisted in his business dealings by Kingsley. Though he's refused to get involved with the Union, Ben Park is just as strong as them and has his own right-hand man in the form of Alex Go, his best friend and stalwart ally since childhood.

    Web Original 
  • The Call of Warr: Prince. He's Gravesite's second-in-command, and though he likes to flaunt his authority at times, he is also very competent in his role, keeping things in-order and challenging Gravesite when he feels it's necessary.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Shawn's bodyguard Kerry is his number two.
  • RWBY: Winter Schnee is General Ironwood's right hand and second-in-command. She is extremely loyal to Ironwood, and follows his commands without question. She trusts his judgement and believes that he keeps no secrets from her. In turn, he trusts her loyalty and competence even when his paranoia turns him against others. Only when Ironwood's behaviour has descended so far into villainy that he's willing to bomb Mantle just to obtain the Winter Maiden does Winter accept the reality that he's beyond redemption and help the heroes against him. After the deaths of both Ironwood and the Winter Maiden, Winter becomes both the kingdom's de facto military leader and also their protector as the new Winter Maiden.
  • SMPLive: Connor to Schlatt, as the co-owner of Schlatt & Co. He is often seen tagging along with him and helping him with his scams.
  • Tech Infantry has Johanna Ingolfsson and later Xinjao O'Reilly as Number Two to Erich Von Shrakenberg.

    Western Animation 
  • In later episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender Zuko would fill the role as Aang's Number Two. While Sokka is defacto The Leader because he's the master strategist who mostly calls the shots, Zuko is the only other unifying force of Team Avatar besides the Avatar himself. When Aang goes missing, Zuko is the one to step up and take the reins.
  • Beast Wars: Rattrap in the beginning seemed to be Optimus Primal's Number Two, becoming leader while Optimus was stuck inside the alien vessel in Chain of Command. However, by the beginning of the second season, it would seem that Rhinox took over that role, becoming temporary leader while Optimus was dead. On the flip side, Scorponok was Number Two to Megatron until his death, when that role was passed on to Inferno (obviously due to his loyalty and not his intelligence, which seem rather lackluster) Then, during Beast Machines, the role of Number Two for the Maximals went to Cheetor, who took command whenever Optimus was not capable of leading. Rattrap was still the Number Two as Rhinox was busy looking for Optimus's spark during most of the episode.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Numbuh Five was the real Number Two to the leader, Numbuh One. Numbah Two was a pilot and possibly Numbuh Five's Number Two.
    • Also Numbuh 86, who plays this role to the Supreme Leader, Numbuh 362. Who herself was once second-in-command to Numbuh 274.
  • Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to his older brother, Leonardo.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Brooklyn is promoted to the position of Goliath's second when Hudson decides he's getting too old to be an effective leader and when Goliath's long absence proves such a chain of command might be needed. He proves to be an excellent choice with his calculating personality and talent for tactics.
    • A more difficult one to spot is Demona's second in command, who is nameless, but is listed as Second. He appears frequently in her past, being one of the first recruited, he questioned her callousness against humans, and even lost his mate when they went against the proto-hunter. He later saves Demona from the Duncan's men, and is one of the few (exactly four) survivors of the rogue Gargoyles. He continues to be allied with Demona even assisting her with her alliance with Macbeth, despite being 139 years old (which is even older than Demona at this point). He dies offscreen in a massacre.
  • Get Ed: The calm and level-headed Deets is the second-in-command foil to the hot-headed Burn.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • In the second miniseries The Revenge of Cobra, Flint is Number Two to Duke and takes over command of the Joe team when Duke is captured by Cobra early in the first episode.
    • Duke and Flint to General Hawk when the latter arrives in the second season opening miniseries, Arise, Serpentor, Arise!.
    • In the Marvel comics, Hawk commanded the team from the beginning, with Stalker serving as his Number Two. Duke is brought in when Hawk is Kicked Upstairs to a desk job, and Flint is brought in later as a new Number Two. When Hawk is promoted to brigadier general, however, he's also given authority to resume field command, relegating Duke down to Number Two status alongside Flint (although Flint would be featured more, due in part to his ongoing relationship with Lady Jaye, while Duke faded into the background between the Battle of Springfield and the Trucial Abysmia incident).
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid falls immediately into this role with her usual talent as Hiccup and his dragon riders fly in to fight the Green Death, particularly when Hiccup separates from the group to to free Toothless, his dragon. This is because Hiccup knows the most about how to communicate and ride with dragons — vital knowledge to the neophyte Riders — and is extremely talented in the areas of invention and innovation. Astrid surpasses him in combat skill and traditional Viking exploits, but because everything about dragon riding is new to the Vikings, she acts as his deputy. (Once Hiccup earns her respect, of course.) She is also responsible for recruiting the first Riders and convincing them to fight the Big Bad.
  • Jellystone!: Mr. Jinks is Mayor Huckleberry Hound's undyingly loyal right-hand man.
  • In The Legend of Korra Asami Sato becomes Korra's Number Two during Book Three, where they spend the most amount of time with each other than any of the other members of the cast. With Korra as The Leader, Asami serves as her confidante, right-hand woman, and go-to girl for planning and strategy. It is one of the factors that leads them to becoming an Official Couple towards the end of the series.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack, because of being the Team Mom and the (usual) voice of reason among the Mane 6, is the go-to second-in-command of Twilight Sparkle. The cowgirl always takes up the reins whenever Twilight is absent or otherwise unable to lead, something which no pony (not even Rainbow Dash) complains about.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar
    • The penguins have Kowalski, who seems to function as Skipper's Number Two.
    • Dr Blowhole also has his main lobster, Red One.
  • The Pirate with a Scarf in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists for the Pirate Captain, who calls him "Number Two".
  • Teen Titans. Never outright stated in the show, but Cyborg seems to function as leader whenever Robin is AWOL or otherwise unable to lead, e.g the Season 1 finale. Except during the finale of the fifth season story arc, when the role falls to Beast Boy. True, for most of it this was by default of him being the only core team member still free and active, but when the others show up, he still seems to be calling the shots until Robin's freed from the Brotherhood. There's also the fact that to most of the team the Brotherhood are new enemies, while Beast Boy had already faced them numerous times when he was a member of the Doom Patrol before joining the Titans.
  • Zak Storm: Cece is the first mate of the 7C's and as such the right hand of her captain, Zak Storm. Being a lot more serious as well as rational than her hot-blodded captain, she balances him out quite a lot. Due to her sharp intelect, she is also the chief strategist of the crew.

    Real Life 
  • This is standard practice in most military forces around the world: every officer will either have a junior aide or senior enlisted man to advise them. Occasionally, the job description also entitles replacing the officer in case he takes a dirt nap or is otherwise incapacitated, to maintain operation even during an emergency.
  • Alan Brooke was the Number Two of Winston Churchill. Theoretically he was the Number Two of King George VI (since the Monarch, by convention, delegates power to the Government of the day) but that was eccentric British nostalgia rather than a serious governmental arrangement. The Armed Forces are loyal not to Parliament, but to the Crown, and therefore Alan Brooke could not be nominally subordinate to the PM and retain the authority to over-rule any other military advisor the Government might call in. Alan Brooke was also Chief of the Imperial General Staff — the Empire's senior military officer — and therefore in a position to exercise command over Empire and Dominion troops who Churchill had no direct authority over, and this derived specifically from his nominal role as the King-Emperor's military advisor (since Churchill was subordinate to the King in that respect).
  • For the US armed forces, the Vice President of the United States, first in the line of succession after the President of the United States, is not an example. Their primary job is to maintain pulse and respiration just in case something befalls the president, such as death, illness, or if he quits or is removed from office. For the armed forces, Number Two after the President will typically be the Secretary of Defense (for the four armed services of the Department of Defense) or the Secretary of Homeland Security (for the Coast Guard). Both Secretaries are also in the line of succession, but by design are rather far down the line.note 

Alternative Title(s): Number One, First Mate, The Executive Officer