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A (typically) RPG and SRPG Trope, wherein the engine allows a single character to become vastly stronger than the rest of the team, but then either not be punished for this, or the punishment fails to counteract the practice. An alternate form of this Trope is a game that allows characters to fall through the cracks and become vastly weaker than the rest of the team, and require special effort to fix.

Frequently these games only award XP for characters who actively participate in battle, meaning that the powerhouse is the only one gaining experience after an early lucky break. Alternately, some RPGs and SRPGs randomly give out skills or stat increases, which accomplishes much the same thing. The powerhouse, due to the quirk of the engine, typically becomes an invincible, instant killing monster long before the experience curve cuts them off, leaving them on an entirely different playing field than their teammates and the NPCs.

This is often cyclic, with one character becoming slightly stronger, making it more likely for them to land the finishing blow, or survive the boss's attacks, leading to them gaining more levels and strength, making it easier for them to kill the enemies and survive and so on...

In some instances the game will attempt to fix this by lowering the experience given by killing monsters if your character is too overpowered compared to them. This just causes plateaus to occur during the leveling process as the character instant kills enemies, but doesn't gain anything from it until later maps are unlocked.

This tends to happen to the main character of a game, especially if he can't be removed from the party. As a consequence, since you may be switching in and out other party members to suit the situation, the main character may very well be several levels ahead of everyone else. Can be particularly jarring when you have to specifically avoid doing this, by simply avoiding using your heavy hitters so the rest of the party can gain experience.

Some RPG players take advantage of this trope in order to do a Solo-Character Run, a variety of Self-Imposed Challenge that has the player go through a game using only one character out of an entire party.

In recent years, this trope has been intentionally invoked by Fighting Game makers as a form of balance — by placing a character that is intentionally overpowered in a team-based game, but balancing this by making the overpowered character take up multiple character slots, the equilibrium is maintained. The overpowered character may be very strong, but any opponents will have multiple tries at defeating him. Interestingly, this is the typical way bosses are balanced in these types of fighting games.

A subtrope of Game-Breaker. Compare Hero Unit. For the storyline version of this, see Can't Catch Up, One-Man Army. For a character that appears to be a One-Man Party but is later Put on a Bus, see Crutch Character. For the more overreaching version that covers play styles or balance issues, see Unstable Equilibrium.


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     Fighting Game  

  • Skullgirls has a variation in the form of the Ratio System. Each player, instead of being forced to select three characters for a full team, can either select one, two, or three, and the game adjusts damage and health accordingly. So if Player A chooses only one character while Player B uses three, Player A will have much more health and damage, but won't have access to assists or extra characters.
  • In Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Cyber-Akuma is a secret character in the console versions. Unlike everyone else, who you need to take as half of a pair, he has to be used alone. Given that he is the arcade mode-ending SNK Boss, with all the power that implies, it is justifiable.
    • This continues in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom with the humongous mechas, Gold Lightan and PTX-40. Both are giants, so they play through matches without a partner. Though Gold Lightan averts this since he's considered to be low tier.
  • In Capcom vs. SNK 2, you have 3 team slots with 4 ratio points that you can allocate however you want. You can put all four points on one character, creating a single, high-powered team member or split the points between multiple characters which would result in team makeups 2-1-1, 2-2, 3-1, or 4. Boss fights are always against one opponent at Ratio 4. The character rations in the first game were fixed and roughly corresponded to their canonical strength.
  • River City Girls: Leaked Experience means that playing the whole game with only one character has that character stronger than the other possible party member, but they're not going to be at Character Level 1 like the charcters unlocked for a New Game Plus.

     Real Time Strategy  

  • A properly built Cyrus in Dawn of War 2 is capable of soloing entire maps, though this requires a lot of player skill.
  • This can happen in Dwarf Fortress, in Fortress and Adventurer mode alike:
    • In Fortress mode, armies are frequently made up of random peasants with little combat experience, but occasionally the Random Number God will see fit to bless you by sending a veteran warrior among this season's immigrants, who'll be multiple levels ahead of anyone else. Fortunately, the update that introduced this trope was also the one that comprehensively overhauled the combat mechanics and made systematically Training the Peaceful Villagers considerably easier.
    • In Adventurer mode, you will often be vastly more skilled and effective than the random soldiers you pick up along your journey, especially since they can't change equipment. Mostly you'll just have one to keep away the bogeymen that attack loners at night and a few in case that guy dies. Getting a large party can downright kill you, because ambush sizes scale to your party's size, making battle even more chaotic and bringing in badass squad leaders—though you may actually want this, for the challenge, in-game fame, and because they have the best equipment outside of a player-made fortress.

     Role Playing Game  

  • While basically squad-based combat, the Arrival DLC of Mass Effect 2 plays this straight, with Shepard undertaking a mission to break Admiral Hackett's friend out of a Batarian prison. Mooks highlight this with exclamations such as "We can't stop him!" or "He's tearing us apart!"
  • In MARDEK, the titular character becomes this in Chapter 3, due to the fact that you can't take him out of the party.
  • Most entries in the SaGa series by Square drop a straight leveling system in lieu of stat based skill-ups that are capped based on the strength of enemies you are fighting. For example, fighting fast Werewolves will increase speed and agility, while smacking down Golems will increase defense and health. The problem arises when characters are switched out — the new characters will gain stats very fast from the monsters the rest of the party can survive... but only if they live through combat (and get a hit in, or get hit and live!). That's a big if in the later areas, when, for example, a random Waitress or out of work Bum joins your party.
    • Another instance of this trope in the series occurs in the skill system. Using weapons/spells or surviving hits causes a character to randomly learn a skill. If a character gains a sufficiently deadly skill, they suddenly can get more hits and killing blows in, survive more attacks, etc, leading towards a huge jump in ability.
  • Chaos Wars uses a skill system similar to SaGa, with similar problems.
  • This is a fully supported build in Divinity: Original Sin 2. The Lone Wolf talent gives a character massive bonuses (double stat points per level and a sizeable increase in Physical and Magic Armor) as long as no more than two characters are in the party. Cutting down to just one is possible, if a bit difficult. The difficulty mostly comes in Civil Abilities, which one character just doesn't get enough of. You'll either lose our on significant amounts of loot due to a lack of lockpicking, wind up picking a lot more fights due to a lack of social skills, or lose out on the all-important ability to examine foes' stats in combat.
  • In the Final Fantasy series:
    • In the Soul of Rebirth mode in Final Fantasy II, while the first three members have decent-at-best stats and early-game gear, the fourth member, Ricard Highwind, will likely have endgame stats and equipment, letting him single-handedly bulldoze through encounters that challenged the other three. Even once the others catch up, Ricard remains the hardest hitter of the Soul of Rebirth party.
    • Final Fantasy IV does split experience among active party members, but using Cecil as a one-man party early on will come back to bite you when he class changes into a level 1 Paladin. Even before then, Cecil is at a severe disadvantage on Mt. Ordeals, where the undead enemies are resistant to his Dark Knight abilities. That said, though, all party members you have ever had but aren't in the active party get the same amount of Leaked Experience as your active party members, so creative level grinding can affect characters you get early but leave, such as Kain.
    • Party leader Cloud of Final Fantasy VII will out-level the other characters very quickly by virtue of Can't Drop the Hero, and to add insult to injury has some of the best all-around natural stats and Limit Breaks in the game. Late-game materia combinations like Cover and Counter + Slash All make it easy for him to zip around the battlefield, taking hits for the rest of the party and dealing out hot death in return; the other two characters don't have to do much more than stand there and maybe cast Regen and Big Guard to make him even tougher.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, the main character Zidane eventually does orders of magnitude more damage with his standard attacks and is much faster than Steiner (without his secret weapons) or Freya. Vivi can eventually outmatch him once he gets Doublecast, but at the cost of ludicrous amounts of MP. Unless Freya has her Dragon's Crest ability and the party has killed enough dragons, in which case she winds up dealing 9999 damage every turn, regardless of enemy defence, for a paltry MP cost. However, a player can either knock Zidane out or infect him with the Virus status to let other party members catch up. The game splits EXP among conscious and non-Virus party members after a battle so there's no lost experience for doing this.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King suffers from this a bit, as the difficulty level of the dungeons goes up quite fast, and any weaker characters tend to get left in the dust. Not to mention the fact that whoever completes any behest that involves killing a boss (ie. most of them that aren't just "explore location x") is awarded a medal that either changes one of their AI traits or increases their base stats by a varying amount depending on the relative difficulty of the boss they killed. Since the stat-boosting medals are available in unlimited quantity, the stronger the character, the more likely they are to kill the boss and because all the medals are awarded only to the party leader, this is a far bigger factor in making a single character stupidly overpowered.
  • In Tales of Symphonia Lloyd will naturally have many more kills than any other party member due to being in the party for the longest amount of time (most alternate melee characters only join halfway through the game). If the player does the Devil's Arms quest, which grants each party member a weapon that increases in power depending on how many kills that party member has, Lloyd will easily do at least four times as much damage as any other character, letting him mow through enemies with ease.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Sora gains experience at the same rate and at times is a lower level than Goofy. However, he gains more abilities to fight with, can use all the spells Donald can and has stronger weaponry than either. They're still plenty capable of taking out enemies on their own, though.
    • It's more extreme in the sequel, as your party members can barely manage more then Scratch Damage, even at max level, making them basically function entirely as support by keeping enemies off balance, healing, participating in Limits, and being used to activate your Drive Forms.
  • Until Pokémon Black and White implemented Anti-Grinding, the most effective single-player play style in Pokémon was to fight exclusively with one Pokémon until it was dozens of levels higher than anyone else. The damage formulanote  and binary speed stat mean a severely overleveled Pokémon will almost always go first, knock out most opponents in one hit, and take negligible damage on the rare occasion they're hit. Even a type disadvantage is easily surmounted by a wide move pool or brute force. Add in a few HM Mules, and you're set for the whole game. This is so effective and naturally occurring that Twitch Plays Pokémon, which took almost a whole day to go past a ledge, had a Pidgeot rapidly gain so many more levels that it can curb-stomp almost everything, even when moves are effectively selected at random with only half of them being able to do damage.
  • Shin Megami Tensei games in general avoid this, as your demons level up very slowly compared to your main character, who can just summon stronger ones as needed. Certain monsters do stick around, such as the ones based on Deities or with special attacks or immunities, but those become quickly outclassed by the other monsters due to sheer levels.
    • But the series also plays it straight in that, for example, your party healer has a high likelihood of never leaving the team, and thus winds up being second only to the main character in experience points (doubly so if your healer has one of the "Growth" abilities, allowing them to gain XP even when not in active combat).
    • Non-demonic allies who are significantly lower in level than the protagonist gain XP much faster than normal, so it's not too tough to make them competitive again if, say, you need to swap someone out due to their elemental weakness against a boss's attacks.
    • In the Devil Summoner series, the Protagonist is paired with a magic caster at the start of the game: Rei in the original Devil Summoner and Nemissa in Soul Hackers, and both are incredibly powerful magic casters that will determine the outcome of many of your battles even in the late game, with your Demons often acting as support for your female powerhouses.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne plays this straight with the Fiend class of demons. You need to beat some powerful bosses and collect some rare items from the bonus dungeon before you can summon them, but they're well worth it. Thanks to their ridiculous resistances and special abilities, these demons tend to stick around FAR longer than anyone else you can recruit. The "healer" Fiend, an undead Buddha, takes this beyond normal by having a passive skill that gives him XP even when he's not being used. Once you get him, he stays in your party, no matter what game you have him in.
    • Persona:
      • A far more obvious application of this trope in Persona 3 is the main character himself. The simple fact that he's the only character capable of using multiple Personas makes him far more powerful than any other character, largely because none of the other have access to more than one elemental attack (and some have none). Even more ridiculous if you start a New Game+, where he retains his level from the previous playthrough, as well as all his top-end equipment and access to all the powerful Personas he had in his Persona Compendium. He can literally smash any monster in the first half of the game in 1 blow. The main character's role is justified late in the game, as his death is a game over condition for humanity.
        That said, there are several battles in which it's best to let the main character function as the group's healer rather than as the resident One-Man Party. The majority of the game's final battle more or less requires the protagonist to spend most of his turns healing or otherwise helping allies, as the boss has fourteen forms and gets two attacks in a row. That said, one boss fight does specifically encourage you to play this trope straight to avoid a murder-suicide pact. The enemy spams you with wind and charm attacks. Your healer is resistant to one of these. Guess which. Rather than bother with a party, simply equip a Persona resistant to wind and with no healing skills... and half an hour later, the fight is over.
      • The same applies to the multi-Persona-using main characters of Persona 4 and Persona 5, except that they don't keep their levels in a New Game+ (they do, however, keep the Compendium, their money, skill cards, special items, and their social stats, which erases a lot of the scrambling around from the first playthrough, with 5's protagonist also keeping all his equipment). There's even a part in 5 where the party can only send one of their number into an upcoming series of battles; the protagonist is chosen precisely because of this trope.
      • Likewise, played straight in the original Persona, as characters gain EXP based on how useful they were in the fight. The strong get stronger, and the weak fall further and further behind.
      • There's something to be said about Persona 2 when the favored strategy for beating Innocent Sin's final boss is to have Tatsuya solo it until it's weakened to a point where you can have Maya use Recarm-Dora on the rest of the party to finish him off...
      • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has its own one-man army in Naoto. Having Mamudo and Mahama on one character means that any character weak to Dark or Light will die in one round, but you can take this further by using a Persona with Impure Reach, which greatly increases the hit rate of instant-death spells such that they will kill anything that doesn't actively resist Light and Dark. And even they will die after Naoto gets the upgraded instant-death spells. Bosses are immune to instant-death, but most are highly vulnerable to Panic...all the more so since Impure Reach increases the chance of inflicting bad statuses. You can utterly disable even the final boss such that they never get to attack. And with great agility, Naoto will generally be the first or second character to take action on your team, and will go before all but the fastest enemies. Be prepared to hear "That went disappointingly fast" after every fight.
  • Neverwinter Nights allows you to custom build your main character, which opens up some very interesting possibilities. So called "Epic Builds" tweak the rules in such a way that your main character will maximize whatever power he can possibly use (often with loopholes and weird combinations of skills). NPC Party Members, mere single or duo classed slobs, will be left far, far in the dust, essentially delegated to support roles.
  • Wasteland had an odd version of this. In normal melee combat, turn order was determined, somewhat randomly, which did give a decent chance of kills to trickle down. However, since it's After the End, most combat is with guns. And gun combat is ALWAYS from the 'front' to the 'back' of the party. So shots will always go 1-2-3-4, even if 3 is a squirrel on speed, 4 is a ninja, and 1's barely faster than the cacti.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth is required to be in every single battle you fight (except one in the best ending), and there's tons of characters. By the end of the game, Lenneth will invariably be at least a dozen or so levels ahead of anyone else in her party.
    • Probably justified, since she's a goddess, and most of the rest of the party are heroic ghosts.
      • Each game's Valkyrie is the source of DME (Life Energy) for her entire party and her companions will quickly dissipate if she isn't on the field.
    • A modified version of this comes up in Silmeria, as by the endgame, one optimally-equipped person has a much higher chance of slaying enemies alone and outnumbered than with a full party with similar equipment. Dylan, for example, when alone and properly equipped, can take out seven levels of the Seraphic Gate without any special buffs (such as Fencer's Familiarities, which increase a stat). Also, with the exceptions of Alicia and Rufus, every other main character is gone from the party at some point, and most do not return until the bonus dungeon.
  • In EarthBound (1994), Ness, whom you've had all game long anyway, and who additionally gets special stat boosts (including LOTS more PP) late in the game, becomes a powerhouse at the end—and while he doesn't have the most efficient damaging attacks (Paula and Jeff take care of that), he has tons of defensive and healing spells and enough PP to spam-cast some of them, and he also has enough HP to last through a lot of attacks, and thus becomes the party's one-boy backup. Not to mention that, even if not efficient, he does have some nastily damaging attacks himself. (It doesn't help that Paula and Jeff start at level 1. Poo starts at level 15, but you're probably way overleveled even compared to that when you get him). This gets particularly nasty at the end where normal enemies can insta kill Paula, rendering her offensive skills moot: even with your entire party at level 99 Paula will only have around a paltry 300ish HP where Ness will easily have over 900 HP (Jeff and Poo will have around 400 and 600, respectively)
  • In the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games, the player character is forced to be by his or herself numerous times, and they wind up learning combinations of abilities that the others can't learn and don't even fight the final boss with them.
    • And in the second game...the player character even gets their own PRESTIGE CLASS. Sith Lord and Jedi Weapons Master wind up outclassing all the other characters, many of whom become Jedi.
    • However, everyone gets full XP, even if they're not in the party, so all the levels end up the same anyway. (When it becomes a problem is when you've realized you've only upgraded your PC's weapons and armor, and have cruddy equipment for the rest of your party.)
  • Fallout games have frequently suffered from this—sure, you can take on that pack of Deathclaws, but is anyone else in your party really going to survive? That said, it does vary from game to game, with some games falling into You Call That a Wound? territory to avoid this.
    • The first game was by far the most infamous for this because you couldn't get them to swap out their armor. None of the available companions have anything particularly heavy-duty, and one of them is Dogmeat, who doesn't have armor at all. This meant that past a certain point, enemies could blow their heads off in one shot. The later games fixed this by letting them equip armor, at least.
    • Since party members are Killed Off for Real when they die, solo adventuring is practically mandatory in the deadlier zones if you feel any affection at all for your companions.
    • Companions can actually make you less effective in combat, usually by getting themselves detected while the player tries to sneak around, and forcing the player to be much more careful with splash damage weapons. Of course, lower level, or less skilled players may still get some mileage out of them—until either the player or his character get their acts together, at least.
      • The companion control interface in Fallout 2 actually lampshades the party members' tendency to shoot the player in the back in the previous game. When giving the NPC instructions on when to use burst fire, the safest option is "Be Absolutely Sure You Won't Hit Me."
      • Due to the game mechanic's, they'll still end up shooting you anyway.
    • Fallout: New Vegas rewards the player for having a follower or two (the Arbitrary Head Count Limit restricts you to 1 humanoid and 1 non-humanoid, however), which each follower bestowing a "Companion Perk" that helps you in some way (for example, letting you target cloaked enemies in V.A.T.S., slowing the rate of item degradation, or increasing the effectiveness of healing items). The Lonesome Road DLC adds the "Lonesome Road" Perk, which increases damage and V.A.T.S. accuracy, but only appears when you have no Companion Perks.
  • Suikoden tends to make sure this doesn't happen too badly. Your protagonist is always in battle and stays a few levels above the rest of the party, but the way the experience scales tends to make sure new additions, latecomers, and those who were gone for a while get up to speed soon enough, often gaining multiple levels per battle until they reach the appropriate ballpark. Given the series' propensity toward large casts, this is pretty much the only way they could have pulled it off.
  • In Shadow Hearts and Covenant the main character so dwarfs everyone else that the main discussion about what groups to use to fight the endgame bosses is mostly limited to "Who is the best item caddy for Yuri?"
  • It's entirely possible to pull this off in Dragon Age: Origins with the right character build. There's no real benefit though since you don't get any more exp this way — the only real reason to do this is for the challenge. At least your other party members don't suffer for it thanks to Leaked Experience.
  • Crono of Chrono Trigger is the hero and party leader. He can't ever leave the party voluntarily, so every time you switch out characters he gets stronger in relation to his companions. It's not really a big deal: there are only eight "Techs" (abilities) for each character, and every character earns these techs at exactly the same level of work. Once you've maxed out the whole party (which you have probably done by the end of the game as a matter of course,) the whole point is moot. Even if you haven't maxed out everyone, the active party only holds three people and you're practically guaranteed to have three high-level badasses by then.
    • Of course, once he leaves the party involuntarily (via eradication by Big Bad), it's pretty much anything goes. You can have him on the bench for the rest of the game and still make it through.
  • Generally averted in the Wild ARMs series, as most of the time you don't pick your party members, though the Luck rune in Wild ARMs 3 plays it straight as that character that equips it can get an ability that allows them to get more XP per battle than the others.
    • Raquel in Wild ARMs 4 is the exception to the rule. She has superior attack strength and battlefield mobility than the other characters, and in Wild ARMs 4 whichever character strikes the killing blow will gain additional experience points. The result is that Raquel will often power ahead of everyone else and not look back.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III makes this easy as all party members other than the main character are optional and XP is split between party members instead of copied; you can reduce your party to just the hero and be earning 4x the "normal" XP, allowing the main character to level up enough that it doesn't matter that he's alone. A character of the Sage class can also be something of this, as they can cast both Priest and Wizard spells but with better weapons and armor than either of those classes.
    • Dragon Quest IX does the same, plus the XP split is weighted in favor of the stronger characters. If someone falls behind because their class needs more XP to level up than another guy's, they're not going to start catching up until the others start hitting the level cap.
    • Dragon Quest V: Many of your party members either start underleveled, are taken away for long periods of time, or have hidden level caps that basically make the undroppable hero the strongest in most cases. You can only have eight party members at once, four fighting and four in the wagon, and those in the back (which can include the hero) don't get experience for fights that happen in places where you can't take the wagon (i.e., most dungeons).
    • Dragon Quest VI averts this in that all eight party members gain experience from fights all the time, be they in the wagon or not. Leveling up vocations depends on the number of level-appropriate battles the character has been through (including the wagon).
    • Dragon Quest VII: Amazingly, it's not the hero. Protip: Despite it being completely against common sense, teach Gabo healing spells. He's the only character that never leaves your party, including the main character, and running out of healers sucks.
    • Taken to its logical conclusion in Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 — The game has a size ranking, you have a party limit of 3 units of size, and monsters are 1-3 units large. Size 3 monsters are literal one man parties, you cannot have anyone else if you are using them. But they're also only available in the post game and easily equal in power to full parties. There are also reasons to take the other combinations — 3 size 1s will have more skills, and ultimately do more damage... if you can keep them all alive as they have 3 weaker targets to kill as opposed to 1 big target.
  • Averted in .hack//G.U where characters that aren't in your party can still gain levels after certain events have passed, since they're all characters in an MMO, it makes sense they'd go a level by themselves if they couldn't get a party together.
  • Actually averted for the most part in The Reconstruction, where Moke is really the only character who can hold their own against all comers, since everyone else can only inflict two kinds (or even only one kind) of damage. Moke isn't really an example though, since his Soul attack is very difficult to use and he has terrible stats. There is one character who stands out, though: Santes. She's widely considered a Game-Breaker, due to the fact that she has some really good healing spells as well as what is quite possibly the strongest direct damage spell in the entire game. However, she can't inflict Body damage, so she's kind of at a standstill if she's facing a high-Soul, low-Body opponent.
    • Qualstio becomes this late in the game once you get his semifinal passive ability, Stifling Heat. It raises the chance of one of his spells inflicting Disable to almost 100%. If he uses it every single turn, his victim will never be able to hurt him.
  • If a game has experience points divided amongst the party, some players may intentionally kill off specific party members or let them succumb to a specific status effect that prevents that character from gaining experience points so that the character(s) of their choosing can get more experience points for themselves. Just because you Can't Drop the Hero doesn't mean there's anything stopping you from knocking them out so that the rest of the party can catch up.

     Strategy RPG  

  • Super Robot Wars uses an upgrade system which allows money earned from battle to be invested in any Humongous Mecha of the player's choice, while in most games pilots gain experience and Pilot Points used to upgrade stats or purchase skills by being the one to land killing blows on enemies. Investing all of your money into upgrading one strong unit right away is usually far better than spreading it out, as any fully upgraded unit is practically indestructible and does several times the damage of an unupgraded one. Once you have your first fully upgraded unit, they'll often steamroll large parts of the map by themselves, taking the lion's share of Pilot Points and thus becoming even stronger. Since the appeal of the franchise is being a Massive Multiplayer Crossover between almost every giant robot show in existence, this trope is played intentionally: even if your favorite character is a joke in their home show, in Super Robot Wars you can make them as strong as you want. Later games have made Pilot Points into a shared resource across the whole team, which ameliorates this trope for those who want a more balanced team but still allows the creation of a one-man party if the player wants.
  • Many games by Nippon Ichi have a tendency towards this; only the character that strikes the final blow on an enemy will get experience points for killing it, so there's a tendency for strong characters to get stronger and for weaker characters to fall behind unless the player is deliberately trying to keep power levels balanced.
    • Prier, the main character of La Pucelle, could easily turn into one.
    • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Laharl is usually the character that ends up this way, although you can do it with almost anyone.
      • In the DS remake, Pleinair is another good candidate, because her absurdly high speed means that pretty much nothing can hit her. Give her a good gun and her counterattacks will kill anything dumb enough to attack her, while she dodges everything.
    • Parodied in Makai Kingdom. Zetta is beyond godlike, being a level 2000 monster in a game where the last boss is around level 80. Zetta is also a book and can't so much as move without outside help.
    • Phantom Brave goes to some lengths to try to avert this. Aside from main character Marona, who tends to have weak attack stats, all your characters can only stay on the battlefield for a certain number of turns, so if you try to rely on a single, powerful attacker to win fights, you'll fail. On the other hand, you can also improve your weapons in addition to your characters, so you could easily end up with a single Infinity Plus One... Fish that makes its wielder much stronger than anything else on the battlefield. (Of course, given that the enemies in the game can steal items from you, this can be a double edged fish, although there are precautions you can take to lower the chances of that happening.) Of course, since Marona has no limit on how often she can be out, nothing prevents you from turning her into a One-Thirteen-Year-Old-Girl-Army...
    • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters it is very easy — almost too easy — to turn Revya's unit into a One Unit Army by putting all your hero characters into it. Since all the other units have to be summoned onto the field and take time before you can act, hero characters are far superior to their mundane counterparts, and Revya's only real bad matchups are Gypsies and Gideons (the latter only show up in a superboss fight), this will allow you to almost finish the game with that unit alone, given a good room.
  • Ogre Battle has a system that causes an enemy squad to flee back to their base if their squad leaders are defeated, wherein they regen to full and charge right back into the fray. Ergo, if your defensive units can kill a squad leader but not the rest of the squad, they will gain a rather large amount of experience, rather quickly, as the squad plays ping-pong between your squad and it's base. The game attempts to fix this by causing higher level characters that beat weaker level enemies to slowly turn evil and lowers their charisma, which even evil classes need.
  • Tactics Ogre avoids this mostly by keeping the bell-curve very low and punishing you severely if you are surrounded (with permanent character death thrown in for good measure). However, there is a Game-Breaker spell that will resurrect a dead character as an undead with half hp/mp and the same other stats, and a second post game Game-Breaker that will convert an undead character to a Level 1 Human — with the same stats. Characters that go through this are several order of magnitudes better than anything else you can field.
    • Not forgetting a spell that allows a character to be transformed into a weapon with powerful stat enhancing properties.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics by the Tactics Ogre team does something similar — your party is limited to 5 characters max, but your available pool is 16 (24 in the PSP port). The result is that you level up 5 characters (to replace them with overpowered NPCs that join you later) and let the second-stringers do the text-based missions at the bar the entire game.
    • Similarly, Orlandeau joins the party with the ability to learn every single special sword attack in the game, but knowing few other skills. With a little work, Orlandeau easily surpasses the other characters and stays way out ahead.
      • Particularly notable in that Orlandeau not only possesses all the attacks of a previous character, and the attacks of an enemy (Who cannot join your party), but the attacks of a character who has yet to join your party. Despite being very powerful, Meliadoul is never used simply because Orlandeau beats her to the punch and does it better, and has abilities that work on monsters (who you fight a lot of later in the game).
      • Although in the remake, Meliadoul was buffed considerately because her abilities were able to be used against monsters, which in turn meant they could be used against bosses with thousands of HP. They could also deal about as much damage as Orlandeau's, outclassing Beowulf easily.
      • Really, Orlandeau is the epitome of the One-Man Party, as he's widely considered the resident Game Breaker. He's basically the I Win button. (Guess there's a reason why he's referred to as Thunder God in the story)
      • And he comes equipped with Excalibur, which grants Haste, and allows him to go first and absorb Holy damage. So when paired with the mentioned Math Skill/Holy strategy... Instant Win period.
    • In addition, a popular strategy for one of the hardest battles in the game, Wiegraf — who the main character has to fight alone — is to outrun the boss and buff yourself (with attack and speed increases) until you can kill him in one hit. The entire time you are buffing yourself you are getting XP, and thus after this point, the main character is 4-7 levels higher than he was before and has probably has mastered whatever job he was in at the time. And chances were, he was already the highest level party member before that.
      • This same tactic can be used in NORMAL FIGHTS, letting a character gain obscene amounts of XP and Job Abilities by setting up your secondary abilities as Squire. Ramza can do this better than a normal squire — he has an ability that buffs several stats at once — but anyone can do this.
      • Another related trick is to buff up Bravery to 97%. Because reactionary abilities fire off based on Bravery, a 97% bravery means you have a 97% chance of your reaction ability firing off. Several Reactionary abilities negate the enemy's attacks — for example, a form of counter that hits first, or Blade Grasp. A 97 brave, Blade Grasping Ramza has only a 1-3% chance of ever being hit by physical attacks, meaning that until you start running into more dangerous spellcasters, Ramza is more or less invincible.
    • Any character can be made into an extremely potent One-Man Army with the Math Skill command. It is often possible to nail the entire enemy force on your first turn with a powerful Holy spell. Since Math Skill can hit enemies anywhere on the battlefield, almost every story fight can be finished before your character is put in any danger at all.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance it was entirely possible for an Assassin, due to her Game-Breaker status, to become one of these without trying very hard. The Assassin has access to an attack called "Last Breath", a One-Hit KO spell. Like most spells of its kind, it is supposed to be balanced by its low accuracy. However, it is fairly easy to have an Assassin level as an Archer until it learns the Concentrate ability. Concentrate is a support ability that raises the accuracy of all abilities (Even non-archer ones) to around a 90-99% success rate. As you might be able to guess, Concentrate is nerfed into a much more moderate increase in the sequel.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the Viera build with the Spellblade's Blood Price ability, Red Mage's Doublecast, and Summoner's wide area of effect spells, wearing Holy-absorbing armor. With the right positioning, this lets a single character cast Maduin, one of the most practical damaging spells in the game, on multiple enemies, with no mana cost, while healing themselves, TWICE IN ONE TURN. And this is one of their many options. They can also cast any other Red Magic or Summon spell you give them, essentially making them the team healer, damage dealer, buffer, and long-range attacker. The only thing they can't do is tank, but even that isn't impossible when they can cast Regen, Protect, Shell, Reflect and learn the ability Reflex, which makes them immune to normal attacks, and can equip Ribbons to protect them from Status Effects.
  • This is common practice in Fire Emblem games, due to certain characters being significantly stronger than others and enemy stats often being incapable of catching up to a fully-raised unit. Solo runs can become very feasible in a lot of games, as long as the character has enough stat bases and growths to start (or keep) outpacing enemies. That said, it isn't generally recommended to treat a Crutch Character this way, due to them not getting a lot out of individual kills—there are exceptions, though, such as Seth and Titania.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening gets a lot of this. Robin, the player avatar unit, has exceptionally high stat growths and a personal skill that buffs their XP gain considerably when paired up with someone. The Nosferatu tome enables Life Drain, which means that Robin doesn't need healing as long as they're outdamaging the enemy, and due to Pair-Up, sticking Chrom to Robin and undeploying everyone else will keep the army safe while also building up a nice big S-support for even bigger stat gains. Robin doesn't solo the game as easily as Seth (they'll need some help from Crutch Character Frederick to survive early on), but stands out for the fact that "Frederick protects Robin for the first two or three chapters, then Robin solos the game" is by far the most common strategy.
    • Designed to be as hard as possible in Fire Emblem Fates, likely in response to how blatantly overpowered Robin was. This is due to the fact that there are many methods in the game (such as using high-rank weapons or taking attacks from certain enemies) to weaken a character after they've done a round of combat, which means enemies can easily pull Death of a Thousand Cuts as they slam into an increasingly vulnerable unit.
    • Fire Emblem Engage also takes measures to limit this. Chain attacks deal damage with a fixed chance to hit and deal a percentage of the opponent's HP, which not only incentivises teamwork to take down very tanky or evasive enemies, but also makes it much harder for the player's juggernauts to take on a swarm of enemies themselves without being chipped down. Maddening mode also allows the AI to ignore player units whose defence or avoid is so high they cannot possibly deal them any damage, preventing the time-honoured strategy of handling a big group of foes with one singular overpowered unit in Enemy Phase.
  • Age of Wonders is a turn based strategy game in which you take over cities, build up vast armies, summon magical monsters, recruit heroes etc. It's entirely possible to beat the game using only a single unit. In campaign your leader (and as many heroes as you can squeeze in) appears in every mission, and retains the XP he's already amassed, so by later missions he's a powerhouse of a fourth-tier-unit level, if not stronger.
  • Shining Force plays this trope straight, with healers being maybe an exception, as they gain EXP when healing allies. Though they have pretty slow movement which can leave them too behind if you rush with all your damage dealers.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, Sorcerers, if you start abusing some of the game's Good Bad Bugs, very quickly become this around the mid-teens. Sorcerers are considered one of the best classes for the Solo-Character Run, although the most favored tends to be the thief/mage dual-class or the kensai/mage dual-class.
  • Similarly, X-COM avoids this due to the fact that even your Captains and other powerful characters are still liable to die to the first high-powered explosive to come along.
    • At least until later in UFO and Terror from the Deep, when a guy with a big gun, flying Powered Armor and game-breakingly powerful mind-control powers can take on everything, more or less. TFTD is a little harder in this respect, but you're pretty much Colonel Badass.
      • Although even the best of the best (non-cheating maximum was just a bit over 100 hps)... could be killed by few stray shots from a plasma pistol (and friendly fire... damn those squaddies!) or a single shot with plasma/sonic rifle. TFTD upped the difficulty, so even a sonic pistol can down your best-equipped, superhealthed soldiers with one shot - the chance is little, but it happens. This was due to the way damage was calculated - there was a random damage from 0% to IIRC 200% damage - 200% damage of sonic pistol is quite capable of penetrating even the heaviest armour. Not to mention alien grenades and blaster bombs/DPTs. People die in X-COM.
    • In X-COM: Apocalypse, even the starting armour your soldiers have is pretty awesome. However, the final disruptor armor is nearly impenetrable and it weighs almost nothing, so you can bring a lot of weapons with you. Then there is the entropy launcher though - which pretty much eats through your equipment - whether it does or doesn't do damage to living tissue, there is a "funny" feature - as it eats through your equipment, say... grenades... funny things happen. However, add a transporter and they're back in the invulnerable territory - you can even get hit by a missile launcher and teleport away before the damage actually gets to you. A popular tactic in the endgame is to transport in, drop your bombs and transport right out with a second transporter. There is no stopping you in realtime mode :) (except for psi, damn)
    • XCOM 2 used to play this trope relatively straight prior to the War of the Chosen expansion, as once you got a full squad of soldiers to a high enough rank you'd generally be powerful enough to only very rarely have someone die, and could even get most of your soldiers through a mission with minimal damage taken most of the time. Since soldiers were only prevented from participating in missions if they were wounded, a careful player could typically use the same set of 6 or so soldiers throughout the entire latter half of the game and never have to bother training any additional ones. War of the Chosen introduced a number of new mechanics to combat this however: First of all, even if your soldiers aren't wounded in combat they can still become fatigued from going on missions too frequently, which makes them more susceptible to negative mental conditions and may end up Shaken, which prevents them from participating in missions for quite a long time. This means that recycling the same squad of soldiers over and over, even if they take no damage, isn't going to work out in the long run. Second, the expansion introduced special Covert Actions that require you to send one or more soldiers away from your base for several days at a time, during which they're obviously not available for regular missions. All this combined means that you're likely to require a far bigger set of soldiers in War of the Chosen than you needed in the base game.
  • Arc the Lad has a 50-level dungeon in the first game where you have to traverse all 50 levels in both directions, without any save points or exits in-between. It is quite possible to have only a single character survive this process, and this character may become considerably more powerful than the others as a result. With the second and third game allowing you to bring in characters from the previous games at certain points, this character may continue being a dominant force for some time. The character in question is usually Tosh, the swordsman, becoming the sole survivor around the 20th level on the way down... meaning he fights 80 difficult levels entirely on his own. Thanks to his time out before getting re-recruited in the later games, the rest of the party is finally able to catch up late in the third game...
    • Arc 2 has optional character Choko, a walking, talking Game-Breaker who's a force to be reckoned with even at level 1! Level her enough and it's no exaggeration that you'll probably never have to attack with anyone else for the rest of the game. And thats even before the optional sidequest that unlocks her ultimate attacks. Equip her with the infinite MP accessory, and she's invincible. Though the final boss is so damn hard that using her is almost a requirement.
  • In the obscure RPG Sangokushi Sousouden, which is based on the Three Kingdoms period and has Cao Cao as its main character, the enemies' levels are based around the average level of everyone who you have sent out in that battle (and there can be up to 15 participants in bigger fights). Can you imagine what it would be like if you send out Cao Cao at max level (50) and everyone else at a very low level (like 3-5 or so)?
  • In most Langrisser games, it's wise to focus on leveling the main character (and possibly his closest ally) to where they can solo maps, because it's quite likely other characters won't be around for the entire story. This is especially the case in Der Langrisser, where each different story path has a completely different cast... except for Erwin and Hein.


  • Tsubasa Ozora happens to be a lot stronger than the rest of the Nankatsu, Japan, and whatever teams by stats in most of the RPG-like adaption of the Captain Tsubasa game, and tends to gain levels a lot faster as well. With his stock special skills, he's easily outwitting other aces aside from Hyuga and be a Game-Breaker, just like how he is in the anime/manga.

     Action Game 

  • In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, the game deliberately hampers your ability to level up too quickly.
    • All One Piece characters have a third Growth Map which unlocks after hitting Crew Level 4, however the XP needed to go to the next level increases steadily, making quicker low-level maps give out XP that becomes more and more paltry over time.
    • On every characters third growth map you will always hit a point where you need a specific "Rare Silver", a coin that only unlocked after a character hits level 5 on their crew level and then gains another level (resetting back to 5, but getting the coin). The other option is to do the New World missions in the Treasure Log which require high-level stats as the maps are much more difficult than the Grand Line or East Blue maps.
    • Certain upgrades require specific Gold Coins. Some gold coins only unlock when a character hits level 5, others only unlock when clearing specific Treasure Log maps including some locked in the hard New World maps.
    • A vast majority of characters needed for their gold coins are unlocked only by clearing the story mode, guaranteeing that you have to use only the story characters for a good portion of the game.
    • Levels are not gained by defeating enemies, but rather increasing your stats on Growth Maps, which is why all of the above is so important. However, to add to that, even if you have every character unlocked and all of the Gold Coins and Rare Silvers needed, you will likely run out of money or regular silvers constantly to spend on the upgrades, forcing you to grind out cash and coins.

     Web Game  

  • This is a required strategy of the Idle Game Clicker Heroes. The player will eventually have 35 Heroes in his or her party, and there's not enough gold to upgrade all of them—especially since only a few of them get useful benefits from upgrades. The player has to determine which Heroes to level up in order to make the most progress.