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Technician Versus Performer

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"Mademoiselle, the river-dancing try outs are in the other studio."
"I don't play accurately — anyone can play accurately — but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for life."
Algernon Moncrieff, The Importance of Being Earnest

A contrast between a highly-skilled, perfectionist virtuoso and a less-skilled, but more inventive and original, artist. This is a plot common to stories that focus on the arts (usually music or theater), or sports that require mixing physical ability with creativity (such as dancing or skating).

Say our protagonist Alice is in a ballet class with another girl named Betty. Betty is a dancer's dancer: she's highly respected, the top student of every teacher, and the preferred partner of every boy in the group. She practices every day, pushing herself, scrutinizing every tiny flaw. The other students have places to go and things to do after class, but Betty is always at the studio. Ballet is her life. But sometimes Alice notices what looks like closely-guarded resentment — in Betty's frown, in her post-show remarks to her dancing partner, or in her sigh whenever she sees her domineering Stage Mom.

Alice isn't like Betty. She would never get up early for a pre-dawn warmup. She daydreams her way through class. She has never mastered that one move, no matter how she tries. But she loves to dance, and it shows in every performance. Even when she lands flat on her tail, she leaves smiling. She has friends outside the studio, a solid family who cheers no matter what, and an optimistic outlook on life. And if dancing ever stops being fun, she'll just stop doing it, though you can't imagine she would ever want to quit.

The dance judges put Betty's number on top every time. Put the pair in front of an audience, however, and it's a different story.

The audience doesn't see Betty's perfect form. They see that she dances with a face like a wet weekend. Alice is much more interesting. She turns a pratfall into a quirky dance move, makes faces at the kid in the front row and laughs her way through the final act. Betty may be rolling her eyes from backstage, but she will likely go home wondering why Alice got a standing ovation for that nonsense when all she got was polite applause.

Betty fails to realize that the audience can see the difference between good technique and good performance. She dances to the 'correct' standards — whether the ballet form itself or her own expectations — while Alice dances for the sheer joy of the art. The audience may not realize what "perfect" ballet is, but they know when the dancers are enjoying themselves... and even those who do know what good form is would rather see originality, artistic interpretation, and simple fun — which Betty often can't do, because improvisation risks the loss of 'perfection'.

Red Oni, Blue Oni rivalries where the two are rivals in the same field often feature this with the blue oni as the Technician and the red as the Performer. Since blue types are often loners or social misfits who put a lot of importance on their one extraordinary ability, having their red counterpart outperform them (even if only in the mind of the audience) can lead to some nasty results or a breakdown. Alternatively, Alice and Betty could form an Odd Friendship, each of them gaining something from the association: Betty will learn to loosen up and rediscover the joy of her art, and Alice will learn how to do that one move. (There's also a good chance she will be Betty's Only Friend.)

Alice's "originality" will vary depending on the art: she might be an imaginative writer who can't spell, or a painter of simplistic, cheerful paintings in an art school full of students obsessed with complexity. She may be the ice skater who glides around the rink but can never control that tricky spin, or a musician who finds sheet music boring and likes to jazz it up with her own variations (with varying degrees of success). Whatever the scenario, the quality that makes her performance "imperfect" also makes it unique and authentic (and keeps her sympathetic to the audience).

Generally the narrative will follow Alice (who sometimes has The Gift, but not always) rather than the diligent Betty. When the technician is the protagonist, her story will emphasize that driving herself to be as good as she can be is a worthwhile goal, or that she's realized 'perfection' is a process, not a destination.

At its best, this trope sings the praises of enjoying your talents and being yourself; at its worst, it implies that striving for perfection means you can never depart from form or dance just for fun. Differs slightly from (but is related to) Hard Work Hardly Works, where the technician is objectively better, but the Brilliant, but Lazy performer is more fun to watch, or gets acceptable results with a fraction of the effort. In this case, Hard Work Hardly Works adds insult to injury by giving the cheerful slacker superior skill compared to those who actually practice. In a Weak, but Skilled scenario, the technician may overcome a stronger performer through better training, or the performer may best a by-the-book technician by finding creative applications of technique.

The story may introduce a third option in Cassie: a character who is both technician and performer. In this case, Cassie's background may overlap with Talented, but Trained (innate talent + hard work).

Contrast the Villainy-Free Villain and Opposing Sports Team. If one of the pair is actually evil, this can overlap with Hammy Villain, Serious Hero, where the hero is a disciplined expert and the villain is freeform and eccentric. Could also be seen as a form of Snobs Vs Slobs, with fastidious technicians who pay attention to detail as the foil for performers who believe in doing what comes naturally. In a military or combative setting, this dichotomy may form the basis for Opposing Combat Philosophies, along with Soldier vs. Warrior. Should characters on opposite ends of this spectrum join forces, see Technician/Performer Team-Up.

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Other examples:

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  • A 2002 Gatorade commercial starring Michael Jordan, then 39 years old, and just shy of his final retirement, had him facing off against his 23-year-old self (played by then-Harlem Globetrotter Kevin "Special K" Daley, with special effects superimposing Jordan's face onto his) in a one on one game. Demonstrating how drastically Jordan's game changed between his rookie year and his twilight, 23!Jordan took it to his counterpart with his signature flashy high-flying dunks, while 39!Jordan used his technical skills to outplay his younger self.

  • After having his The Fallen Angel harshly criticized and rejected by the Salon of Paris art judges, Alexandre Cabanel commented to his patron that such was his reward for trying to be a performer instead of the technician that the Academists demanded of him.
    "That’s my reward for all the trouble I gave myself not to submit an average piece of work [...]"

    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: Shaky and Tabitha interestingly zigzag this in their first conversation. Tabitha clearly enjoys making artwork, with a very performer-esque demeanor, but she often writes over her (very good) drawings without showing them to anyone, and claims that art doesn't have to be seen to matter. Shaky is generally more clinical and detached when it comes to his work, and says he isn't a real artist because he only wrote comic books for money but he also admits that his art, particularly his diary, matters to him because he wants people to read it and know about him, which is a mentality better suited for a performer than a technician.
  • In the Marvel/DC crossover one-shot Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds, this trope emerges in the conflict between the villains, Carnage and Joker. While the two initially get along over their shared philosophy over madness being the only rational response to a meaningless existence, their respective approaches to mass murder diverge. Carnage, the technician in this regard, just wants to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time, while Joker, the performer (naturally) needs to have some complex theatrics behind his killings for them to hold any significance. Carnage considers Joker's schemes to be a contrived waste of time, while Joker disregards Carnage's approach as grotesque and passé.
    Carnage: Stupid plans! Stupid man! So you spread your little plague... and then the people of Gotham start to go insane and—eventually—die slow and horrible deaths! What a monumental waste of time! The fun of killing, you moron, is in the immediacy! In hearing them plead for mercy as you stand over their bloody bodies... peeling off their skin!
    Joker: Blecchh! How utterly distasteful—and gross, too!
    Carnage: I thought you had the stomach for death, Joker. Guess I was wrong.
    Joker: It's not a question of stomach, my friend—it's a question of style! Any idiot... nothing personal, of course... can go out and slaughter a few thousand people—but where's the laughter and tears? The handstands and histrionics? In short, my dense and sanguine pal—where's the theater? I always thought of myself as the Orson Welles of crime and chaos, while you, apparently, aspire to be nothing but... David Hasselhoff!

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has this as the source of some friction between Harry and Hermione (well, mainly frustration on her end) when it comes to Wandless magic.
    • Harry is a gifted Performer, since Wandless magic is rather heavier on the intuition and emotion end of the magical spectrum, meaning that it plays right into his hands and allows him to lean into his intuition and greater magical senses - he's also explicitly noted as being a fire-magic prodigy. He can study quite well, but he prefers learning by doing, and even proves capable megamanning techniques on the fly through sheer observation. He's also excellent at applying what he does have effectively and creatively, which combined with lightning reflexes, experience, and Nerves of Steel, make him a lethal duellist.
    • Hermione, by contrast, is very logical and thrives on theory-based magic, which means she tends to understand the mechanics behind magic very well and use them to her advantage, while also memorising a vast spell-list. Unfortunately, also tends to overthink things a bit, which is not a quality one wants in a duellist. When she develops Chaos Magic, this only gets worse, because to her dismay, Chaos Magic doesn't have rules - and she nearly causes at least one disaster by not considering the difference between chaos and normal magic, even after being warned, several times.
    • As it turns out, when Hermione is temporarily reduced to a mental passenger in Harry's head, the two of them compliment each other perfectly: her vast knowledge of theory allows him to truly understand what his senses are telling him, pick the perfect spell from her list, and customise it to fit, while also backing it up with his vast raw power.
  • This is the source of the conflict between Trixie and Twilight in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. Twilight is the Technician par excellence, having graduated with a perfect GPA from Luna's Academy Of Magic a year early and only having honed her understanding of magic since. Trixie, by contrast, couldn't care less about magical theory, despite being the Lunaverse's Element Of Magic. She learns spells not from books, but by watching other ponies cast them. Her specialty is illusion magic, and half her "magic" is actually sleight-of-hoof tricks. Twilight's refusal to accept that a mare who doesn't care a whit for arcane theory could possibly be the Element of Magic is what sets off the plot of Boast Busted. In the later episode Magic Tutor, Twilight and Trixie are forced to work together when trying to teach magic to the foals of Ponyville. Trixie's explanations are so vague that the foals have a hard time understanding them, while Twilight is so technical that the foals find it hard to pay attention.
  • Ash and Red have this dynamic in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: Ash is far better at coming up with off the wall strategies but lacks the power of Red, while Red is good with power and straight forward strategies but lacks Ash's adaptability. Scott notes that both of them have potential, though each has much to learn yet.
  • Ash in Challenger serves as a performer to the students' technicians when he fights the top ten students at a Pokemon prep school. Part of why Ash utterly destroys so many of them is because of his unusual battling style that clashes with their theory based training. The rest is because while they study theory and type match ups, Ash has actually gotten into dozens of battles and learned from each of them.
  • In Plucking Strings Naruto is the performer to Kankuro's technician in puppeteering. Naruto is self-taught and uses completely custom puppets that go against a lot of the design of Suna puppets, such as his inability to create functioning human-like legs. Kankuro uses standard issue puppets he has been taught to maintain and use for his entire life. Naruto views his puppets as partners to work with while Kankuro views his as tools. Naruto's performer take is shown to give him a more intimate understanding of his work which he views as the deciding factor in his win against Kankuro.
  • Rivals Series: One of the main cruxes of Viktor and Yuuri's rivalry. While both are strong in all areas, Viktor has better technical skating skills, being able to pull out several complicated jumps and land them with ease; Yuuri, however, is a better performer, having revolutionized step-sequencing to the point that the ISU had to actually clarify how they scored step-sequencing just for him, and perfect compulsory figures to compliment how much control he has over his body. The latter even won the Junior Worlds Championship with a quad-less program — which, in this day and age, is unheard of.
  • The conflict between Cafe Prime and Jaune's in Service with a Smile boils down to accuracy vs passion. Cafe Prime is a massive coffeehouse chain with fifteen locations in Vale alone but they're heavily focused on "efficiency" which means their tables are suffocatingly close together, their customer service feels fake, and their coffee is cheap but acceptable. Jaune's is a mom and pop store owned by Jaune Arc which, while more expensive, has par excellence customer service with friendly staff, a wide variety of coffee considered the best in the city, and a friendly and inviting atmosphere. It also shows in how they try to compete with one another: Cafe Prime will offer free coffee or hire expensive celebrities to host shows at their locations while Jaune's will use costumes and decorations to make themed weekends like dressing up as pirates.
  • Rock Lee vs Naruto in Reaching for a Dream is a match between someone who learned a powerful martial arts style vs someone who was Taught by Experience. In the end, Naruto wins be virtue of being able to withstand Rock Lee's strongest attacks slightly longer than Lee can dish them out.
  • Vice-Admiral Johnathan (Technician) and Cross (Performer) in This Bites! during a test of strategies and tactics between G8 and the Straw Hats. Johnathan uses control tactics and his experience as both a marine and the commander of Navarone to deduce the actions of the pirates and catch them off guard at several turns, while applying his strategies as a chessboard. Cross admits that he isn't good at chess compared to Johnathan or Robin, but that is because he finds himself constrained by the rules. In the final hour of their Twenty-Four Hours escape time-limit, Cross instructs the Strawhats to cause so much chaos that they can retrieve their gold and weapons while the marines are trying to maintain order. As Cross described it to Johnathan, instead of playing the game he flipped the board entirely.
  • Zigzagged in Ambition of the Red Princess in the duel between Weiss Schnee and Eclair. Weiss uses multiple schools of swordsmanship along with magic while Eclair has training but is in large part Taught by Experience. On the other hand, Weiss places heavy emphasis on flair and elegance while Eclair uses less flashy but more effective attacks, such as simply punching her opponent in the face. In the end, Weiss loses because her over-emphasis on elegant attacks leaves her too drained to fight any more, not helped by the accumulating damage she's taken.
  • The Infinite Loops: Classic Spyro and Legends Spyro have this dynamic. Legends is the Technician, preferring to use what the Elders taught him when it comes to magic and fighting, while Classic is the Performer, who, when fighting, tends to make things up on fly and mix and match his magic. Interestingly, this extends to their views on the loops as well, as Legends would rather focus on his fixing his Baseline and trying to prevent it if possible, while Classic would rather be pulling pranks rather then do anything productive.
  • The Silver Raven: Hunter/The Golden Guard is the Technician to Nero's Performer. While both are child prodigies in magic, Hunter was rigorously trained from an early age by Belos, being highly diligent in his studies and mastering whatever magic he was taught. By contrast, Nero, while trained by his mother, is more Brilliant, but Lazy, having gained most of his fighting experience sneaking out, doing battle against the demons of the isle's wilderness, and developing a personalized fighting style. When the two come to blows, they wind up completely stalemating each other.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ballerina: This is the basis of the conflict between the main character and her rival. Félicie has no technical skills whatsoever, coming from an Orphanage of Fear with no training, but loves dancing to the bottom of her soul. Camille knows technical dancing inside and out, but only dances because her Stage Mom forced her into it. Félicie wins the final competition because Camille (after her attempts to cheat fail) says she deserves to — Félicie can learn the technical skills she currently lacks, but Camille can't replicate Félicie's passion.
  • Coco: One can apply both sides of this dynamic to Ernesto and Héctor. Overall, Ernesto is the Performer: charismatic, outgoing and able to draw the crowds but as a performer, he’s a Technician: polished but emotionally vacant. Héctor, as a songwriter, would be the Technician, since he created the songs that made Ernesto famous, but as a songwriter, he’s really a Performer: sincere and heartfelt, as is shown in how he created “Remember Me”, not as a cheesy love ballad but as a tender lullaby for his beloved daughter, Coco.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, this is the difference between Astrid and Hiccup's approach to anti-dragon fighting. Astrid hones her skills with incredible effort and traditional weaponry; Hiccup strives to understand the dragon mind so he can direct and pacify them without bloodshed. This represents the duality of Viking culture; fearless savagery coupled with ideals and creative strategies. Hiccup's Performer style is ultimately superior, but he needs Astrid's pragmatic mind to pull him through the dark parts of his 'saga'.
  • Inu-Oh is centered on Noh dancing in Muromachi era Japan and the main conflict is focused around Ashikaga Yoshimitsu's traditional methods of telling Heike stories through Noh dancing and the Tomoari troupe's unique stories being presented like a modern day rock concert.
  • In The LEGO Movie, this is the main conflict between Finn and his father. Finn is an imaginative child who simply wants to have fun building LEGOs and making up stories while his father is a serious hobbyist who believes in building sets as stated by their instructions and keeping them as such. As such, the film's plot is focused on the conflict between the Master Builders who wish to build whatever they want as they please and Lord Business, a Control Freak based on Finn's dad. Eventually, Finn and his father come to a middle ground after the latter learns that his son made him a villain in his personal story.
  • In Monsters University, Mike is the Technician to Sulley's Performer. Mike is incredibly knowledgeable about scare tactics but doesn't have the appearance to be a good scarer. Sulley's natural abilities impress the teachers and others at first but he barely studies and lacks the technical aspects of scaring children. This ends up as a deconstruction: Mike knows what to make of every situation, he knows what scares to give to each child and how to milk information out of every profile, but his lack of practical ability ultimately makes it pointless for him to even try. Sully has a good technique, but he only has that one technique, which doesn't work in every situation, and when it doesn't work, he's left totally unprepared. They can't really do anything having only a single one of these capacities. Ultimately, with Mike's help, Sully studies hard and grows to be a more versatile scarer. As for Mike, he is unable to overcome his physical inability, but his dedication to the craft allows him to become a fantastic coach. And as this work is a prequel to Monsters, Inc., it is known that the economic demands will change and eventually Mike and Sully will eventually switch places as field agent and coach.
  • In Mulan, Captain Li Shang takes command of the new recruits immediately after finishing his own education. He knows exactly how it should be done, but his instructions don't really 'take' without a dose of inspiration from Mulan. In combat, he tries to stay with the tried-and-true while Mulan improvises; when he sees the effectiveness of her way, he balks at first but eventually adapts.
  • Ratatouille: The rat Remy (via Linguini) is the Performer to Colette's Technician. Remy's heightened senses allow him to experiment with mixing flavors and improvise his dishes. Colette, on the other hand, insists on sticking to Chef Gusteau's tried-and-true recipes. Over the course of the movie they start to learn from each other: Remy taking Colette's advice on how to work in a professional kitchen while she learns to trust his instincts and experiment with flavor. By the end, they've become a highly successful team that knows how to play off each other's skill sets.
  • In Sing, Buster pairs Rosita and Gunther for this purpose to balance out each other's flaws. Rosita is a good singer but lacks charisma. Gunter has a flair for flash and pizazz but his singing is questionable. They eventually find a way to make it work and their performance being the opening for the show is what draws people to come en masse to watch.
  • Gunter is once again in Performer role against Buster's Technician in Sing 2. As the troupe are trying to make it big, none of their performances sell to "the big leagues", since while Buster is a competent and adjusted director, most of his ideas are cheesy and conservative. They finally get their foot in the door when Gunter pitches a more radical idea, though his hyper enthusiasm leads to problems sticking to any concept for very long. He works closely with Buster for the rest of production, with the latter able to turn Gunter's brainstorm of surreal concepts into a consistent, well structured project.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to School: The conflict between Professor Phillips and Thornton Melon pops up is a battle between academic knowledge vs real world experience. Phillips is a straight-laced teacher of economics who focuses on accepted theory. Thornton Melon is a self-made entrepreneur who discusses creative business practices and the shady backroom deals.
  • Black Swan uses this trope to illustrate the differences in the dancing of the two main characters. Nina is technically flawless, but she's cold, controlled and distant, which makes her an excellent White Swan and a bad Black Swan. Meanwhile, Lily dances more instinctively, lacking the technical chops but letting her warm and sensuous personality come through. This makes her an excellent Black Swan but a sub-par White Swan. The ballet director is torn because he would prefer to cast one dancer as both roles. In this case, the narrative favours Nina as the Technician, as Thomas tries to get her to learn to loosen up so she can play the Black Swan.
  • Blades of Glory has rival figure skaters, Jon Heder's Technician and Will Ferrell's Performer, forced to skate together in the pairs event.
  • Center Stage (2000): Maureen is the technician, Jodie the performer. The movie also adds a third element with Eva, who has The Gift like Jodie but also the technical potential of Maureen. Eva is the only one of the three main girls to find success in the American Ballet Company—Maureen realizes she's destroying herself and quits, Jodie goes to a new company that values her performance skills over her ability to technically conform.
  • In Chariots of Fire, Harold is more a technician and Eric more a performer.
  • Cool Runnings has the plucky, performer Jamaican team and the crypto-Nazi East German technicians.
  • Drumline has the protagonist as the performer butting up against the technical performance required by the drumline's captain to form a unified sound.
  • Freddy vs. Jason pits the titular two slasher movie villains up against each other: Freddy Krueger is the Performer, using his Dream Walker powers to create spectacles of his victims, while quipping all the while. Contrastingly, Jason Voorhees is the Technician, forgoing talk as he bluntly kills his own victims with whatever he has on hand, usually a simple machete.
  • High School Musical has Ryan and Sharpay as the Technicians versus Troy and Gabriella as the Performers. Ryan and Sharpay have been singing for years, view star roles as status symbols, and audition with professionally choreographed routines, expensive costumes, and back up musicians. Troy and Gabriella just want to sing because it makes them happy, start by secretly singing to each other, and audition in their sports uniform and lab coat respectively, winning the crowds because of their commitment to the music. note 
  • In The Legend of Bagger Vance, the two rival golfers competing with the main character are portrayed as a technician and a performer. One always performs consistently well, while the other is prone to flights of both genius and sloppiness.
  • My Week with Marilyn portrays the Troubled Production of Laurence Olivier's The Prince and the Showgirl and how his leading lady Marilyn Monroe drove him utterly batshit over her flakiness and mental breakdowns during the shooting, only for him to acknowledge that when she worked she was the greatest thing that had ever been seen on a screen. Summed up with the quote:
    He is the world's greatest actor who wants to become a movie star. You are the world's greatest movie star who wants to become an actor. And this movie isn't going to help either of you.
  • In Pitch Perfect you've got Aubrey vs. Beca. Aubrey is very uptight and inflexible, insisting on only singing traditional songs and is The Perfectionist. Beca prefers to sing for fun and likes remixing songs.
  • In The Prestige, Angier is the showman who lives to delight his audience, while Borden is the technician in love with the craft of illusion. This is also apparent in their stage names: "The Great Danton" and "The Professor," respectively. Unique in that in this case, both the technician and the performer have their sympathetic moments. The trope is later subverted in that Angier's illusion relies on technology but Borden's is pure performance.
  • Dick Jones and Bob Morton are this, respectively, in RoboCop (1987). On the surface it seems the other way around, as Dick's ED-209 was all show and no substance while Bob's idea of a bionic cop seems more feasible and bland. However, Dick's method of creating a "solution" to crime was actually very by the numbers. He went through corporate channels, made a robot (by modern times many industries and sectors are becoming more mechanized), and even followed a corporate line of planned obsolescence or creating a problem to sell a solution for (namely the ED-209's bugs and flaws). Bob on the other hand had a more intricate plan, which involved out of the box thinking like sending the best officers to crime-infested areas to later claim any that died, using a top tier police officer as wet-ware or parts for a bionic law enforcement officer that can be flexible and calculate the solutions to numerous situations and learn more on its own, and Bob made sure that everything worked, the parts were top of the line, and that his peace officer could do everything a normal peace officer could do but better. Jones wanted to make a product. Morton wanted to make a badass super cop.
  • In Rush (2013), this is combined with elements of All Work vs. All Play. Niki Lauda is almost clinical in his approach to driving, a master at setting up a race car, and one of the first drivers to put in long hours studying the tracks. James Hunt is instinctive, able to simply hop in a car and set blistering times. Unusually for this trope, both approaches work equally well.
  • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit has Sister Mary Clarence's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits (perfomer) against a choir that's won the championship for 3 years running (technician). To illustrate the effect, both choirs sing "Joyful Joyful". The other choir sings it with military precision, while the misfit class puts in raps and riffs on Janet Jackson. One guess as to which choir wins.
  • Bethany Hamilton is definitely a performer in Soul Surfer. Her rival's technician qualities are not made explicit, but she does carry that vibe.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Khan and his crew as Performer, and Kirk and his crew as Technician. While Khan is brilliant and ruthless (and crazy) and commands a crew of Augments, Kirk has him beat with superior training, experience, and familiarity with ship-to-ship combat. Khan manages to surprise Kirk (thanks to Kirk ignoring regulations) and draw first blood, but Kirk soon evens the odds and takes advantage of Khan's two-dimensional thinking to cripple his ship.
  • Stick It, about gymnastics, deals with the dichotomy of focusing on perfection and "sticking" everything versus going all out and "flooring it" and doing things that are more impressive even if you can't guarantee you'll nail the technical elements perfectly. The end message seems to be that it's not about what you know, but who you know, so if you don't know the right people you may as well say screw the rules and have fun with it.
  • The film Strictly Ballroom is all about the conflict between highly technical rulesy dancing and "crowd-pleasing" moves. Differs somewhat from the pure form of the trope in that it hints that the technical rules are don't really represent dancing skill but rather a conspiracy to keep the person who makes the rules in the money and also in that the main character is excellent at the technical style but choses to do "crowd pleasing" because he likes it.
  • In Top Gun, Iceman and Maverick. Iceman takes the trophy at Top Gun, but when it comes down to the wire Maverick is the one who saves the day.
    (on Iceman) "It's the way he flies. Ice cold, no mistakes. He wears you out 'til you do something stupid, then he's got you."
    (on Maverick) "You are dangerous. I don't like you because every time you fly you're unsafe." (later) "You are still dangerous. (Beat) You can be my wingman anytime."
  • Referenced and played out somewhat in Inception while making the actual inception plan. Arthur is the technician and Eames is the performer, rather literally; Arthur solves problems and handles organisation (and training Ariadne), while Eames, the "Forger", has to play different characters inside the dream levels.
  • Warrior shows both of its protagonist MMA fighters work their asses off in training, but still has a notable difference between the naturally talented Tommy, who overwhelms his opponents with devastating power, and Brendan, his more patient and methodical brother who wins by enduring his opponent's punishment until he can implement his extensive knowledge of submission holds, which he knows because he spent much of his early life trying to teach himself to be as good as Tommy in order to impress their father. It is worth noting that before he started MMA fighting to support his family, Brendan was a physics teacher, which is about as technical as you can get. The eventual victor of their confrontation is Brendan, but only because he is enough of a Determinator to survive Tommy's initial onslaught, and because Tommy himself had been cracking up under the strain of his own conflicted feelings and had devolved from Tranquil Fury at the start of the tournament to a pure Berserker by the end.
  • Itty Bitty Titty Committee Cheerleaders Vs. The Big Boob Squad (Yes, it's an all-girl cheerleader-themed porno) has the Petite Pride 69'ers having the better choreography and agility "because they're not weighed down" compared to the bullying Beavers who rely solely on sex appeal and can only attempt seducing the judges to victory.
  • In The Color of Money, Eddie and Vincent are this trope in regards to both pool and hustling — Eddie is methodical and businesslike, while Vincent is flamboyant and seeks attention.
    • In The Hustler (1961), Eddie is a flamboyant hothead whose natural talent is undone by his ambition and lack of disclipline, compared with the calm, methodical Minnesota Fats. When Eddie gets his attitude under control, he manages to defeat Fats.
  • Trouble with the Curve has Gus and Philip. Gus, the grizzled veteran, goes to games and observes the players firsthand. Philip, much younger, relies on statistics via computer. While Gus is found to have superior results, it is pointed out that Philip is more repeatable in his results, is more productive, and doesn't cost as much.
  • Apflikorna (She Monkeys) has newcomer Emma as the technician, who is the strongest and most controlled equestrian, but loses out against the super-glamourous Cassandra who turns everyone's head (but is actually just interested in Emma).
  • In Seven Samurai, the most extreme examples are quiet, hard-working perfectionist Kyuzo and dynamic natural talent Kikuchiyo (who's not even a samurai anyway).
  • In the film Florence Foster Jenkins, this is Zig-Zagged. Florence is passionate about music, works hard at practicing, and loves to perform, but she is so Giftedly Bad that she just plain doesn't realize she has absolutely no technical skill whatsoever. Ultimately she succeeds because people enjoy her performances as Camp and because she's so good natured that nobody has the heart to tell her she's terrible.
  • In Accepted, Bartleby, a Book Dumb but brilliant schemer, creates a fake college to impress his dad. Unfortunately, he didn't plan for other people to actually apply to a college, giving him tons of students while not knowing anything about teaching them. He visits nearby Harmon College to learn how to run one, but becomes disenchanted with Harmon's overtly strict curriculum, lack of engagement, and hazing of outcast students. He allows his students the freedom to develop their talents without being restricted by a curriculum, and the students find themselves learning and having fun while doing it.
  • Teachers (1984): Gower, a mental patient with identity issues, ends up teaching history at the Sucky School where the movie is set. Despite having no education background whatsoever, his ability to re-enact historical figures with his students makes him a popular and effective instructor, in contrast to his collegues who are mainly concerned with their careers and discipline.
  • In The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), the piano teacher declines to take Birdie as a student because she just plays the notes but has no passion, sighting that she would be an excellent typist but not a pianist.
  • Amadeus: Salieri is shown to be quite deliberate about his compositions, carefully testing each note and chord before penning it in, with the occasional bit of prayer to help him through it. Mozart seems to make it up right off the top of his head "as if he were taking dictation", according to Salieri.
    • Although it is hinted this is largely an act by Mozart and he does work very hard at composition, part of the reason for his decline is he refuses to do any work such as teaching that would pay well because it would take away the time he needs for composition.
  • In the Based on a True Story movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, Josh's two chess teachers each reflect these traits. Bruce (the technician, played by Ben Kingsley) is a respected chess master who strictly adheres to traditional chess theory and strategy. He encourages Josh to spend all his time studying theory to play "properly" and to always think carefully before every move. Vinnie (the performer, played by Laurence Fishburne), on the other hand is a street hustler who has a very fast and loose play style, moves by instinct without thinking about it, ignores traditional theory and strategy and encourages Josh to "play from the gut". Bruce's training seems to take away the joy of the game for Josh, while Josh seems to be happier when playing with Vinnie. Josh eventually adopts elements of both styles of play into his own.
  • Throughout The Mighty Ducks films, the titular Ducks are the Performers to the opposing Technicians, using unorthodox tricks against their opponents' strength and aggression. As the trilogy goes on, however, their "little Duck tricks" become far less useful, and they have to work in some Technician just to remain competitive.
  • The Dead (1987) - while the dichotomy was there in the original short story, the film plays it up more. Mary Jane is a beloved and respected piano teacher, so her skill is technically brilliant when she plays a piece for the party - but the majority of the guests are bored by it and only applaud out of politeness. Aunt Julia was once a soprano in a church choir but is significantly older, and her performance of "Arrayed For the Bridal" has some warbling - but she sings with such passion and enthusiasm that it moves all the guests.
  • Emily Blunt commented on this when she was cast as the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods - a role she was reluctant to audition for due to her limited singing experience. Rob Marshall apparently didn't want "a singer who could kind of act" and rather wanted someone who would give the songs the emotion they needed. It seems the critics agreed - as Emily got a Golden Globe nomination for the performance (and the fans consider her to be a highlight of the cast).
  • The World of Suzie Wong - Robert's paintings are simple and not to the standards of elite galleries in London. But he's able to bring out the good features in his models and create art that has something to it.
  • This is arguably at the heart of Cagefighter: World's Collide when MMA champion Reiss Gibbons (played by real life MMA fighter Alex Montagnani) is booked by his promotion's owner in a match against pro wrestling star Randy Stone (played by real life wrestler Jonathan Good aka. Jon Moxley). Everyone considers the match a mere publicity stunt and as a "real" fighter, Gibbons considers himself the superior technician and the trash-talking "fake fighter" Stone to be a mere performer, even overconfidentally engaging in some uncharacteristic showboating at the start of their fight. Unfortunately this causes him to critically underestimate the sheer brute strength and viciousness of Stone (a professional wrestler may be an entertainer rather than a genuine sportsman, but they still have to be a top-level athlete), leading to him being shockingly knocked out in the first round.
  • Ice Princess: By her own admission Gen has no actual talent or passion for figure skating, but she’s been coached by her mother (a former world class skater) for most of her life and is therefore technically very proficient, being explicitly compared to a robot. Meanwhile Casey has a lot of raw talent and a deep love of skating, and has taught herself impressive moves, but has only minimal training and none of the years of intensive coaching that most top-level skaters her age have had. In the only time they compete against each other, Gen performs a complex set flawlessly but without flair; while Casey’s set is less polished and she even stumbles, but she still pulls off a triple salchow and wins the crowd because of how much joy she takes in it. Gen comes one spot ahead of Casey in the rankings, but by the end of the film Casey has surpassed her after receiving more training, and comes a close second in the Sectional Championships to someone who is both intensely passionate and highly trained.
  • Small Soldiers: Irwin Wayfair and Larry Benson, the respective creators of the Gorgonites and the Commando Elite, have a similar dynamic of Toymaker versus Salesman; Irwin is a talented toymaker with some bright, original ideas, but is sadly a flake when it comes to selling them, whereas Larry is very sales-minded and can create a compelling marketing campaign, but the Commando Elite would've likely been a generic and derivative line of action figures were it not for Gil Mars' well-reasoned, albeit, ill-fated idea to have them actually talk, walk, and kick ass. It's also established that they're both still on board after Globotech buys out their toy company, because of the successful Belch Brigade toyline; Irwin came up with the concept, and Larry created the marketing campaign.
  • Trading Places: Louis Winthorpe, the top commodities broker at Duke & Duke's, was formally educated at Exeter and Harvard. Billy Ray Valentine, on the other hand, was a poor hustler before being hired by the Dukes and doesn't have any formal education, so his approach to trading commodities is very different from the other traders. While they rely on technical knowledge to make guesses, Valentine uses human behavior to predict that the price of a commodity will fall.
  • Tommy Boy: Richard is incredibly knowledgeable about the brake pad industry, but his snide attitude makes him a poor salesman. Tommy is an uneducated manchild, but his ability to read people makes him a successful salesman.

  • In Piers Anthony's Blue Adept this is played straight in Stile's harmonica duel with Clef where they will be judged by the Computer on their technical skills and the audience on their performance. Clef is superior on a technical basis, allowing him to easily win the Computer vote, while Stile wins the audience with better showmanship.
    • As a tie-breaker the two play a duet to be judged by a panel of musicians. After a little coaching from Stile, Clef also begins drawing in the audience, resulting in him winning the vote of the Computer and audience... but Stile wins the panel's vote and thus the contest. Why? Because Clef's improvement was thanks to Stile's coaching, which the panel saw as proof that Stile was the better musician. The two become life-long friends.
  • Ballet Shoes:
    • Played with a bit, where it's mentioned at one point that Petrova the sister who hates dancing ends up being one of the most technically proficient dancers in the school because she hates dancing, so she ends up taking basic classes year after year and gets all the core moves completely ground into her mind. But her performer sisters are the ones who always get major roles in ballets and plays, while she's always (gladly) stuck in the background. Although in this case her sisters aren't bad at technique they just never learn it by rote the way she does (and when one of them does end up stuck in that same situation, her performer side comes out more strongly than it does at any other time in the book).
    • Played very straight when it comes to Winifred - who is a Jill of all trades - versus Pauline - who is a good actress but merely competent at dancing and singing. Winifred loses the part of Alice to Pauline mainly because she's from a poor family and looks shabby at auditions, and also seems to lack Pauline's charisma.
    • Dulcie (Technician) and Hilary (Performer) in Dancing Shoes play out the above description almost to the letter.
    • In White Boots (known as Skating Shoes in the US), Lalla is the Performer, Harriet is the Technician. This is a slightly unusual example in that it's Harriet, the newcomer to ice skating, who's the more precise skater (usually, the Performer is the rookie) and that the book comes out on her side - Lalla is sympathetic and charming, but also a bit of a spoiled brat, while Harriet is modest and loyal.
  • This comes up several times in Discworld books.
    • In the stories involving the Witch Trials, Granny Weatherwax is the Technician and she always wins but Nanny Ogg is the Performer, and people buy her drinks and say "It was a good try". Both of them are happy with this. In "The Sea And Little Fishes", in response to someone commenting on Granny's "natural talent", Nanny notes she has much more "natural talent" than Granny Weatherwax, but the latter is the most respected and feared witch alive by dint of years of sheer, bloody-minded application of the little talent she does have. Nanny, however, has the ability to get along with anyone she meets instantly, which is one trick Granny has never picked up.
    • Played with in Maskerade, where Bucket, Salzella et al. argue that though Agnes is the technically superior singer who puts in all the work, Christine has superior stage presence and "star power" (read: she's thin, blonde and conventionally attractive). In truth, Agnes is both performer (she is naturally talented) and technician (she works to improve), while Christine cannot sing for peanuts.
    • At the end of Snuff, Lord Vetinari is a bit put-out to realize that, after decades of his own painstaking, methodical, brilliant and technically-elegant social engineering have brought Ankh-Morpork to a state of prosperity and eminence, a naive young goblin girl with a harp has drastically elevated the social standing of her people on an international scale with one song. And with only a little help from a children's author and Lady Sybil's address book.
    • In Soul Music, Glod and Buddy discuss their differing views on the life of a musician. Buddy sees his role as becoming a star, feeling the allure of fame and fortune through performing for adoring crowds. Glod sees his role as being a jobbing musician, working an unpretentious gig requiring good craft to earn a steady paycheck. Each finds the other's perspective confusing, although somewhat understandable.
  • In The Dresden Files, there's aspects of both in Wizards: they are Technicians by nature, but the less skilled they are, the more of the Performer they embody: Harry, early on, is able to throw massive blasts of fire at his enemies, but Luccio, centuries old Captain of the Wardens, turns that same magical power into a disturbingly fine needle-like beam, making Harry realize just how little control he has and putting him firmly in the Performer category. He gets more control as time goes by, but whenever he's paired up with an older Wizard, he always realizes how far he has to go before he's a true Technician. As befits the trope, however, he is willing to improvise to a degree that older Wizards are outright confused by, including incorporating technology insofar as he's able to do so. He manages to expose a traitor not with magic, scrying or other magical means, but with a well-placed photographer.
    • Sorcerers and Sorceresses are considered Performers to a Wizard's Technician: they have a passion and a natural talent for using their magic, but their use of magic is narrow. Hannah Asher is capable of using fire magic to the point that even Harry is impressed, and fire magic is his most powerful aspect, and Binder is capable of summoning his weird goons from the Nevernever effortlessly as long as he has a circle, something that Wizards need to study and execute carefully. But Hannah can only use fire magic, and Binder can only use summoning. Harry isn't as good at fire magic as Hannah, but he can also use wind and earth magic, and he can creatively apply all of them (in one instance, he uses a fireball to freeze a lake). Harry doesn't use summoning magic, but he can, and he will, and he knows the theory behind it as well, letting him call more than just one type of goon.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, both protagonist Elizabeth and her bookish younger sister Mary play the piano and sing. Mary is a technically accomplished musician (with a terrible singing voice) who practices hard and works for accomplishments. Elizabeth isn't as skilled technically in her playing, but her performances are cheerful and pleasing, and on the whole people much prefer to listen to her.
  • Emma: Emma Woodhouse plays the piano rather well, but she didn't practise enough as a child to reach true mastery. Jane Fairfax is as old as Emma, and just as talented in music as she is, but Jane has a deeper love for music and she has been a diligent student and plays perfectly. Emma is a skilled performer, but Jane is both a technician and a performer. Though some people do not see it...
    Harriet: Oh! if I could but play as well as you and Miss Fairfax!
    Emma: Don’t class us together, Harriet. My playing is no more like hers, than a lamp is like sunshine.
    Harriet: Oh! dear — I think you play the best of the two. I think you play quite as well as she does. I am sure I had much rather hear you. Every body last night said how well you played.
    Emma: Those who knew any thing about it, must have felt the difference. The truth is, Harriet, that my playing is just good enough to be praised, but Jane Fairfax’s is much beyond it.
    Harriet: Well, I always shall think that you play quite as well as she does, or that if there is any difference nobody would ever find it out. Mr. Cole said how much taste you had; and Mr. Frank Churchill talked a great deal about your taste, and that he valued taste much more than execution.
    Emma: Ah! but Jane Fairfax has them both, Harriet.
    Harriet: Are you sure? I saw she had execution, but I did not know she had any taste. Nobody talked about it. And I hate Italian singing. There is no understanding a word of it. Besides, if she does play so very well, you know, it is no more than she is obliged to do, because she will have to teach.
  • In Shades of Milk and Honey and its sequels, Jane and her husband Vincent work together as illusionists. Jane is the technician, Vincent is the performer.
  • Kristy and Abby in The Baby-Sitters Club, with sports. In Kristy's own words, she's a sportsperson, while Abby is a natural athlete.
  • In Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Grammy-winning Child Prodigy violinist Carmen is the technician while her opponent in the Guarneri competition, Jeremy, is the performer. Jeremy does an act in his performances, whereas Carmen just plays. Carmen is envious of how comfortable he is, while she relies on drugs to keep from getting nervous before concerts. It's played with since Jeremy has his own problems.
  • Song at Dawn: Maracuba is the Technican and Dragonetz is the Performer. The former has a rigid singing style and his ballads are sermons in lyrical form. Furthermore, Estela reluctantly admits he has greater skill than Dragonetz. On the other hand Dragonetz's goal is entertaining and he has a much wider range of pitches and actions. For instance, he'll sing a women's part in a duet using a falsetto tone and act out the role.
  • Bertolt Brecht wrote a short story about two Chinese guys who wanted to become actors. One of them went to the best teachers and trained until late at night, while the other one went to the market places where he would juggle, make fun of the bigwigs and other jokes. Then the day came where both of them had to show off what they had learned: The performer did his usual tricks and received some applause; the technician was struck by stage fear and immediately fainted. With a subversion: The people commented that he played it well, although the play was a bit short.
  • In the backstory of Without Bloodshed, violinist Christabel is an almost-pure Technician, and a Prima Donna in the bargain. Guitarist Morgan and vocalist/keyboardist Naomi are performers with considerable technique and compositional of their own. Though the band Crowley's Thoth is named after Christabel Crowley, it's Morgan and Naomi who make the band work in the studio and on tour. Christabel resented her bandmates' popularity and tendency to constantly upstage her. Morgan and Naomi wish she'd loosen up, study some music theory, help write some songs, and be ready to perform when the show starts.
  • In A Million Open Doors, the difference between performance and technique is discussed; For Giraut, as an Occitan, the way that one performs a piece of music is the crucial thing, but on Caledony, where "reason" trumps everything else, all performances are judged based on technique, because style is considered objective.
  • RCN: The difference as captains between Daniel Leary and Lieutenant Vesey, his first officer for most of the series. Vesey is well-educated and a fine sailor, but as a combatant she lacks her CO's aggression and instinct for killing. It's remarked at least once that if she is given a permanent command of her own and faces a major battle, she'll fall back on training and perform competently, but will probably never match Daniel for sheer skill.
  • One Hundred Years Ahead: An academic variation, implied in the case with the 6B class's two best students, Mila Rutkevich and Kolya Sulima. Mila is described as a "principled A-student", to the point that the teachers feel awkward giving her anything less than an A. She is The Perfectionist who devotes all her time to studies and is furious when Alice becomes a better student than her. Kolya is also a hard-working student, but he isn't mentioned to get straight As like Mila, concentrating only on the fields that personally interest him. Unlike her, he is involved in extracurricular activities (chess and a scientific society at the planetarium) and is much more sociable and friendly. Their futures (at least, according to Alice) reflect it: Mila is to become a very strict school headmistress and Kolya is to become World Chess Champion and invent the time machine.
  • Perfume by Patrick Susskind: Master Baldini is the Technician, insisting on following the formulas for scents; Grenouille is the Performer, whose natural ability to smell literally anything makes him able to replicate any perfume without even measuring the ingredients and create his own new scents completely spontaneously.
  • In his book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, George Carlin explains why he thinks Michael Jackson will always be the greatest performer of all time; most other iconic musicians of the 20th century are either entertainers with no artistry or artists with no sense of showmanship, but the King of Pop was able to strike a delicate balance as both the technician and performer.
    What's important to me is that Michael is the greatest entertainer who ever lived. Bar none. Watch him dance; pay attention to the showmanship. no one ever came close.
    Elvis was a bogus white guy with sex appeal and good looks who ripped off a lot of great black music, watered it down, and made it safe for lame whites who couldn't handle the experience of raw, emotional black music. Never grew as an artist; remained an entertainer. Fuck Elvis.
    Sammy Davis Jr.? Nice try. Ordinary dancer, ordinary singer, second-rate impressionist. I also didn't like the insincere sincerity. But he was a nice man personally; I give him credit for that.
    Frank Sinatra? Great singer of songs, among the best. Superb musician. Grew as an artist. No showmanship, though. Arrogant, too. And mean to ordinary people. Fuck him.
  • Animorphs:
    • Marco and Rachel are the Technician and Performer, respectively. Marco largely serves as the team's strategist, with the ability to come up with complex plans, predict what people will do, and think of long-term ideas to hinder the Yeerk invasion. Rachel, by contrast, is a battler through and through—her main "strategy" is "Hit first, ask questions later," her idea of a plot is to morph the biggest animal imaginable and come out swinging, and her main contribution to the team is short-term victories over the aliens. It's reflected in their choice of battle morphs: Marco's is a gorilla, which is a clever creature that can use tools and dexterously climb, while Rachel's is a grizzly bear, which sacrifices speed and agility for brute strength and bulk.
    • Cassie is an interesting case when it comes to morphing proper, as she's both a Technician and Performer. She's the most talented in terms of actually changing form, to the point where she's able to start as an osprey and morph into a dolphin without fully changing back into a human first while in freefall above the ocean; Ax notes that being able to swap between morphs and not return to a default state is unheard of in even the calmest circumstances, let alone during a crisis. But Cassie also demonstrates a level of control over her transformations that can be downright artistic: for example, while she is demorphing from a bird, she deliberately saves the wings for last and keeps them fused to her arms to create the appearance of an angel. Ax explains in one of his point-of-view books that people who can do this, called estreen in the Andalite language, often work as professional performance artists.
  • Ye Xiu in The King's Avatar is a first-generation Glory player who recognizes that the Glory Alliance and the younger generation of players are becoming more performer-oriented to generate hype and wow the audience. He is adamant that he is a professional player first, not an entertainer.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades:
    • Main character Oliver Horn is the Technician to his Love Interest Nanao Hibiya's Performer. By his own admission, Oliver is best at adapting spells invented by other people. He is undeniably good at it, but lacks anything truly unique of his own. Even his Dangerous Forbidden Techniques are borrowed from his mother's soul that was implanted in him. This also means he Cannot Tell a Joke: he can imitate sketch comedy and humorous parlor tricks flawlessly at a technical level (e.g. causing bouquets of flowers to sprout from his collar), but he doesn't have the sense of comedic timing needed to make the jokes land.

      Nanao, by contrast, runs almost entirely on Autopilot Artistry, growing in magic by leaps and bounds and pulling new tricks out of her hat on the fly, defying the expectations of everyone around her and frequently with no clear idea of her own what she did. She finds joy in challenging herself with magic, the sword, and broomsports.
    • In Kimberly Magic Academy's senior league Flying Broomstick sports, of the teams detailed, the Blue Swallows are the Technicians and the Wild Geese are the performers. The Blue Swallows focus on technical perfection, striving to keep up with their ace Diana Ashbury, who aspires to be the fastest broom rider ever. The Wild Geese, of which Oliver and Nanao are members, play mainly to have fun doing it, which while not strictly optimal play, also makes them unpredictable to go up against. They end up being the only team to pull out a win against the Blue Swallows during the broomsport tournament in volume 6 (although it probably helped that the Blue Swallows had used the same strategy three times in a row so they were ready for it).
  • Teen Power Inc.: An administrative version appears in Dirty Tricks with rival librarians Ms. Spicer (who enjoys making a spectacle out of the stories in books) and Mr. Kelly (who is obsessed with the library being neat, orderly, and free of silliness).
  • Starship Troopers: This is Johnnie's observation of two of the senior officers during basic training:
    "Unquestionably they were both better soldiers than any of the other instructors — but which was best? Zim did everything with precision and style, as if he were on parade; Captain Frankel did the same thing with dash and gusto, as if it were a game. The results were about the same and it never turned out to be as easy as Captain Frankel made it look."

  • In Cabin Pressure, Douglas is The Ace, a naturally gifted pilot who instinctively knows when you can shave a couple of points off the regulations, and is more than happy to do something borderline dangerous if it'll give the passengers a show. Martin is a decidedly ungifted pilot who has worked as hard as possible to become a fairly decent one and has literally memorised all the regulations because he feels if he doesn't follow them to the letter anything could happen. As Carolyn puts it "I have a good pilot and a safe pilot. Martin won't let them get into trouble, and if they do, Douglas can get them out of it." Lampshaded in the penultimate episode, when Martin applies for Swiss Air; he gets an "Adequate" on the simulator, but scores 100% on the written exam, which is supposed to be impossible. If Douglas had applied, he'd probably have got a high score on the simulator (assuming he didn't do anything too dramatic), but would barely have bothered thinking about the written questions at all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In terms of Player Archetypes, The Munchkin and The Loonie make up the most extreme ends of the trope, with the former playing to "win", even when it's not the point of the game; and the latter playing to have fun, even if it comes at the expense of the game's integrity. In between, the Rules Lawyer and the Power-Gamer occupy the Technician end with their adherence to the game's mechanics, while The Roleplayer and The Real Man typically occupy the Performer end with their commitment to the story and situations (respectively) that play out.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Wizards (technicians) and Sorcerers (performers). Tends to be inverted though, because wizards end up with much more versatility, learn spells sooner, and easier access to metamagic feats.
    • Fifth edition retains the same flavor, but plays it much straighter in actual practice. Wizards know a lot more spells, but can only alter them in very static and consistent ways, while sorcerers know a smaller number of spells but possess a separate point system that allows them to alter them on the fly while casting them instead of having to learn a different version of the spell separately. The statistics of a typical sorcerer also make it much easier for them to alter the effective impact of their spells with bluffs or fast-talk at the target and to effectively use the most flexible spells like illusions.
    • Other similarly built classes share the distinction such as Fighter (technician) vs Barbarian (performer), Bard (performer) vs Rogue (technician), Paladin (technician) vs Cleric (performer), and Druid (performer) vs Ranger (technician).
    • From a more meta perspective, there's making a character to fit an interesting concept or theme with perhaps less-than-optimal performance (Performer) vs. making a character that mechanically is as powerful as possible with roleplaying and story taking a backseat (Technician).
    • Fifth edition also can express this trope literally, as it is possible to create a character who is proficient with a musical instrument but not not with the "Performance" skill. And the reverse type of character can also exist.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Player Archetypes have the "Timmy" type as the performer and the "Spike" type as the technician. Timmies play to have fun and make "big things" happen, and Spikes play to win. The third archetype, Johnny, splits the difference; While Johnny plays to create new decks, interesting combos and never-before-seen card interactions, though not necessarily to win, some knowledge of the rules is required to ensure that those crazy ideas actually work.
    • Alternatively, one could consider it a spectrum. At the far end of the Technician scale, we have Spike, who bases his decks off of pure tactics, often using predetermined strategies or copying the best in the game in order to make a powerful deck. Next is Johnny, who still focuses on power, but tends to try and experiment to create new combos and new abilities as he does so. Third is Timmy, who doesn't care about technical power but just wants to make big stuff happen.
    • In-universe, the Blue vs. Red conflict is Technician vs. Performer. Blue tends to be coldly logical, focused on victory through precision, control, and superior information, usually whittling down an opponent's ability to fight back; Red is the colour of emotion and impulse, and tends to win with big spectacular displays like hails of thunderbolts, massive fireballs, swarms of goblins or the unleashing of a dragon.
    • The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica (a tie-in book with Dungeons & Dragons) suggests that the Rakdos (A Red-Black cult of sadistic entertainers) see the relationship between their guild and the Izzet League (A Red-Blue guild of scientists and inventors) as a literal instance of this trope:
    "Every performance benefits from prop masters and pyrotechnicians. They can be useful backstage, but they lack the charisma for the spotlight."
    • And finally when it comes to the cards themselves, we have the dichotomy between Vorthos (Performer) and Melvin (Technician). Vorthos is all about the "flavor", the story the cards are telling. Some Vorthos are far more interested in the artwork on the cards then they are in the game itself! Melvins, by contrast, are all about the rules and mechanics of the game. They might not even be aware of the story the cards are telling at all, and the artwork serves as little more than a visual reminder of which card is which. The difference can be best summed up with the go-to example cards for Vorthos and Melvin, Form of the Dragon and Mystic Speculation.
      • Two of the three abilities of Form of the Dragon are wildly out of flavor in Red on their own (attack denial and direct life total manipulation, respectively) until you step back and realize that when combined they actually turn the player into a flying, fire-breathing dragon.
      • Mystic Speculation, meanwhile, has almost no flavor to speak of but from a rules standpoint accomplishes a fair bit of versatility in only two keywords, Scry and Buyback. Most other cards need at least three words, and even then the list of such cards is fairly short.
      • And just to put the cherry on it, Form of the Dragon is Red while Mystic Speculation is Blue.
  • Warhammer 40,000 armies tend to lend themselves to one side other the other during gameplay. Armies with fewer but individually more capable units, such as the Space Marines, Eldar, Dark Eldar, and Chaos are more Performers; their versatility allows for wildly different forces from the same race to be equally as effective in the hands of a capable player. Armies with more but less unique units like the Imperial Guard, Orkz, Necrons, Tyrannids, and Tau generally win more often when they adhere to a strict set of tactics for each situation, and are more Technicians. Of course, the huge size of the setting allows for much internal variation, so it is possible to see one army or another slide towards one end or the other.
  • In the world of hobby boardgaming, people often talk about a rough division between "Eurogames" and "Ameritrash." Eurogames tend to be on the Technician side of the equation, emphasizing play mechanics and balance over theme and production; notable games in this category include Caylus, Agricola, Le Havre, and many abstract strategy games. Ameritrash games, which tend to focus on presentation, theme, and character ahead of mechanical concerns, are usually Performers. Think of games like Dungeonquest, Talisman, Cosmic Encounter. The term Ameritrash originally arose to denigrate that style of gaming after the rise of the Eurogame; now it's often used as a general label and not a statement of quality, as many Ameritrash games are really well-made and fun. And, of course, there's a great deal of cross-over between the two categories.

  • A big theme in Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The established Meistersingers are all about proper technique, but the inexperienced singer hero wows them by being so darned passionate.
  • In Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, Carlotta is often played as the Technician to Christine's Performer.
  • In Amadeus, the performer Mozart is the protagonist, and the technician Salieri is the Designated Villain. Salieri is shown to be quite deliberate about his compositions, carefully testing each note and chord before penning it in, with the occasional bit of prayer to help him through it. Mozart seems to make it up right off the top of his head "as if he were taking dictation", according to Salieri.
  • The Mrs. Hawking series: in part III: Base Instruments, two of the ballerinas are described this way, with Raise Sergeyeva being the performer and Elena Zakharova the technician.

    Visual Novels 
  • Almost every game in the Ace Attorney franchise, with Phoenix and Edgeworth being the main examples. Edgeworth (Technician) prosecutes cases as if the defendant is stone-cold guilty, while Phoenix (Performer) starts with utter confidence in his client's innocence and works from there. Luckily for him, he’s usually right. Since they both 'win' if they find the true guilty party, there's no hostility between them, though Edgeworth always makes Wright demonstrate his client's innocence to the satisfaction of his own exacting standards.
  • In Danganronpa, Izuru Kamakura is the technician who is skilled at everything, in comparison to every other student as performers. Although he was conditioned to possess every known researched Ultimate talent, this naturally came at the cost of him deriving no passion or satisfaction from much of anything, as opposed to the rest of the cast, who for the most part, get at least some aspect of enjoyment from the talents they're known for. Trying to engineer proficiency into someone may give them it, but the heart that lets people perform is something that can't simply be produced with force. This left Izuru robbed of genuine passion and motivation to do much of anything.
    • A conversation between him and Kaede Akamatsu in the Ultimate Talent Development Plan arguably brings this into focus moreso than anywhere else. Kaede is amazed at his ability with a piano and he likely even surpasses her in sheer proficiency, but she's visibly saddened and struggles to put to words exactly why. When Izuru reveals that he doesn't try to convey any emotion when playing and feels the outcome of trying to move people would simply be too predictable to care for, she disagrees, and politely asks if he'd listen to her play more often, wanting to help him feel otherwise.
      Kaede: Your technique was incredible... You played all the difficult parts like they were nothing. Your rhythm and everything was perfect... It was a beautiful performance, but...
  • Yuri (Technician) vs Natsuki (Performer) in Doki Doki Literature Club!. Yuri prefers to use complex and deep words to write sophisticated poems while Natsuki prefers to use simple vocabulary and wording to reach the reader more easily. They consistently clash about this and it causes the first real conflict in the game.
  • Harvest December has Masaki (technician) and Yuki (performer) apply this to babysitting of all things. Yuki, who took the position to prepare for having a child with Masaki in the future, believes that compassion and direct care is enough for baby Ren. Masaki, meanwhile, had taken the time to read up on child care but has no interest in connecting with Ren emotionally. This leads to a conflict between them when they start to get overwhelmed with caring for Ren, until Ren throws a tantrum during their fight and calms down when the two work together, causing them to realize that Both Sides Have a Point.
  • Kindred Spirits on the Roof has Miyu as the Technician, Matsuri as the Performer. Miyu studies running techniques to perfection, but still falls behind Matsuri, who adopts a Don't Think, Feel outlook on running. When the two take Hina to the festival, Miyu goes first and makes a plan to take Hina to everything she enjoys, while Matsuri wings it.
  • In SC2VN, Reva is the technician and Stunt is the performer.
  • Sentimental Graffiti: Elegant Classical Musician Akira is a Technician, and romancing her involves practicing with her and helping her realize that she needs to be more of a Performer.
  • In Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart, Klaus describes the difference between his younger brother Elias and inveterate troublemaker Luca in these terms. Although Elias is very skilled at magic, Klaus criticizes him for being too methodical and pushes him to be more imaginative and put more of his own personal style into his magic. Comparing Luca to Elias, Klaus says that Luca's magic has a creativity that Elias lacks, and in this way he considers Luca to be the superior wizard despite his recklessness.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: The two combatants will often have this kind of dynamic between them. A few examples:
    • Deadpool vs. Deathstroke: Deathstroke is a Consummate Professional, meanwhile Deadpool prides himself on being "unpredictable". In this case, the performer won, due to Deathstroke being unable to overcome Deadpool's healing factor.
    • Digimon vs. Pokémon: Red and Charizard are the technicians, with Charizard fully evolved over a lifetime of training and battle, and Red directing him with expert combat tactics even as he treats a literal fight to the death as just another Pokémon battle. Meanwhile, Tai and Agumon are performers, as Agumon's strategy changes depending on his current form, and while Tai doesn't have the same head for strategy as Red does, that won't stop him from stepping in and throwing down with Red directly to make it a proper 2v2 fight. Yet again, the performer wins, due to Tai being able to throw down with Red, preventing Charizard from acting.
    • Leon Kennedy vs. Frank West: Leon is the technician; a veteran cop turned government agent with a wide array of conventional firepower, versus Frank West the performer, a journalist with little professional training but enough ingenuity to turn anything he can get his hands on into one of several improvised weapons. This time, the technician wins, due to Leon having both better training and being able to handle anything Frank could throw at him.
    • Dragonzord vs. Mechagodzilla/Kiryu: Dragonzord is the technician due to Tommy Oliver's years of combat experience controlling what is essentially a large vehicle, while Kiryu is the performer, being an unwieldy robot controlled by a novice while Akane is in command and an unrestrained wild animal once the spirit of Godzilla awakens. The performer wins yet again, due to Kiryu being much stronger and had a better kill weapon.
    • Iron Fist vs. Po: Iron Fist is the technician, with almost a lifetime of training and practice with all of his powerful techniques coming from years of training or winning an important battle. Meanwhile, Po is the performer, as, while still having training under his belt, he is willing to use the environment as well as rather strange tactics in battle, and often stumbles upon his more powerful skills via dumb luck or outside the box thinking. The performer wins once again, due to Po being much stronger and being unable to actually stay dead.
  • Helluva Boss: In "Mammon's Magnificent Musical", Mammon holds a clown pageant where the winner will become the new face of his brand. Though Fizzarolli has won for the last ten years in a row, this time he faces some serious competition in the form of the Glam Sisters, with Fizz and the sisters each taking a different approach in both how they perform as well as how they present themselves. The Glam Sisters are the Technicians, using their Superior Twin Teamwork to gain an edge all the while not giving a crap about actually making people happy with their performances, outside of using it to be famous and win Mammon's favor, with their final showing being a great song and showcase of their powers and talents, but having absolutely nothing to do with actually being a clown. Fizzarolli, on the other hand, is the Performer, who genuinely loves both the art of being a clown and his (sane) fans, but is feeling burnt out due to the fact that Mammon sees him more as a cash cow than an actual performer, with his final performance being an improvised "The Villain Sucks" Song about why he's finally had enough of Mammon and is quitting, all the while mixing in plenty of actual clown or circus acts (like balancing on a ball, baton twirling, and swinging on a trapeze). The dynamic is best shown during the meet and greet, where Glitz and Glam are merely just posing for pictures while Fizzarolli, even while stressed out of his mind, is taking the time to try and actually be personal with people.
  • RWBY:
    • While both Ruby and Weiss have received combat training, Ruby is a child prodigy who fights impulsively and on instinct, she's therefore brash, immature and used to fighting alone. Weiss is highly trained, with a formal, academic approach to fighting; she values proper form, organization and planning in general and fights with precision and calculation. Weiss demands a leader she can respect and Ruby is forced to learn how to be a mature, responsible leader who develops proper battle strategies and methods of communication for her team. Weiss, meanwhile, has to learn how to be a good support fighter, who provides most of the skills that Ruby needs to execute her plans, and who learns to complement Ruby's weaknesses with her strengths.
    • Discussed between Weiss and Winter with regards to how they use their Semblance. Although Weiss initially focused on proper form, once she settles into Team RWBY, she starts prioritizing inventiveness and creativity. Using her glyphs and summoning ability constantly for a range of effects, she will augment Dust assaults and enhance movement, often combining them with ballet moves to pirouette or look like she's ice skating instead of running. Winter, in contrast to Weiss's Huntress-style flair and flexibility, is a military officer who always functions according to strict discipline and self-control; she isn't a flashy fighter and uses her Semblance sparingly, sticking to simple, pragmatic acts, such as augmenting a physical strike or summoning only when she has to. In Volume 7, Winter comments that Weiss's technique is still "maddeningly sloppy" but accepts that she has learned how to make that work for her. Weiss accepts it as a compliment.

  • In this Nobody Scores! strip, the exchange between Sara (technician) and Beans (performer) before a swordfight could be substituted for the trope description. Unlike most instances of this trope, the technician owns the performer — only to be defeated by the sheer madness of her following opponent.
    Sara: I have mastered the science of the blade. [...] [It] is like a game of chess. You must think first, before you move.
    Beans: I overwhelm your science with PASSION!
  • Aurora (2019): Erin is an Insufferable Genius from an academic background, Alinua is a naturally-gifted life mage who's connected to a primordial entity. When they're discussing technique, things get a little heated.
    Erin: And I'm telling you that safety is by definition not "overcomplicated"! A haywire healing cantrip can do terrible things to a person! What if you were trying to mend a broken bone but you filled the fracture with stomach lining instead?
    Alinua: How could you possibly screw up a broken bone that badly? Bone already wants to grow more bone! Just feel it out and help it along a little!
    Erin: What do you mean, "feel it out"?!
  • Sleepless Domain: Undine is the technician to Heartful Punch's performer. Undine typically shuns the spotlight, acting more as support on Team Alchemical and is not too worried about standing out or preferring not to. On her own she struggles to find new ways to use her powers for offense and some of what she does use are inspired by her friends' past suggestions or her own past traumas rather than her own imagination. Heartful Punch, meanwhile, stands out naturally and tends to be much more improvisational and showy to the point that Undine compares her to Team Outrageous. Where most magical girls follow a set patrol to protect the city from monsters, HP just wings it by letting her sensory abilities lead the way.
  • Freefall: At first, this is the central difference between Max Post and Sam Starfall when it comes to crime. Max is a smuggler because he deemed it the best way to do good, illicitly smuggling religious and philosophical texts to the robots in a measured, secretive way. Sam, meanwhile, comes from a culture where crime is a socially respected career and Fame Through Infamy is just considered "fame", and while he's not above pickpocketing or dodging train fares, the stuff he lives for is big, dramatic, attention-getting nonsense like playing elaborate practical jokes on the mayor or trying to siphon the fuel tank of a satellite, and the regularity of the angry mob chasing him away has gotten to the point where he has to buy everyone in said mob ice-cream afterwards.
    Max: You want to be noticed. You want to be remembered. A lawbreaker doesn't want to be noticed or remembered! You're pursuing mutually exclusive goals!

    Web Original 
  • The Whateley Universe has an unusual case where the Technician is actually teaching the Performer- Sensei Ito, who is teaching ki mutant Chaka. Ito is an old man who spent many hard years of work to master his ki, and is an amazing fighter. Chaka was a student of martial arts who manifested as a ki mutant, and can now do things that Ito could only dream of. She often lends her power to flashy tricks, like throwing needles at a board so they land in the shape of a C, and gets rebuked by Ito for wasting her power on tricks that are essentially pointless. It doesn't help that their personalities are complete opposites- Ito is calm, quiet, reserved and thoughtful, while Chaka is bouncy, vibrant, incredibly energetic and doesn't take many things seriously.
  • There is a strange and malevolent variant of this in Kakos Industries. One of the central contrasts between the two main companies within the show is this, even applying to the executives that own them. Where in Kakos Industries is incredibly organized and abides to a multitude of rule books and traditions to uphold Evil, (Horrible Noise) is content with doing Evil for the sake of Evil and will take any opportunity they can to spread chaos since that counts as an accomplishment. The same applies to the owners Corin Deeth III and Melantha Murther as one gained their position due to family lineage and is always working to to fill the shoes of someone else while the other worked their way up independently and uses their power to sabotage the competition out of a need to be noticed and amused.
  • Late in Unnatural Selection, Likol notes that Alison's original music has no basis in music theory, and that she simply plays by ear whatever sounds pleasant. He considers it another proof of her sapience, whereas a "dumb" AI would use Procedural Generation to produce music.
  • DmC vs. Revengeance | 6 Years Later from The Gaming Brit Show is a retrospective that puts the games under this light, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses after hype. He argues that Dm C Devil May Cry was more of a technician, with a deeper and more satisfying combat system and mechanics with a story that didn't have too many low points but no real highs, while Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is more of a performer, as it wasn't as mechanically deep, using its flashy spectacles and insane ideas to deliver a more emotional payoff within its story and characters.
  • In A Practical Guide to Evil the epigraphs heavily imply that this was the relationship between Theodosius the Unconquered (the Technican) and Isabella the Mad (the Performer). Their titles say it all, really. Theodosius the Unconquered was the most successful Tyrant of Helike in history with a perfect track record of defeating much larger nations in battle. Isabelle the Mad was a freshly appointed leader who used unconventional strategies bordering on Insane Troll Logic, and is also the only general to defeat Theodosius the Unconquered on the field.
  • In Mythical Kitchen, Nicole possesses classical training and Lily is the only chef on the show who has any real restaurant experience. On the other hand is Josh, self-taught but incredibly proficient at what he does regardless on top of talking at great length about many, often bizarre, things.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Hero: 108 episode "Camel Castle", Lin Chung's drawing of Ape Trully turns out to impress the Camels by being considered unique.
  • Chowder has the Baker vs. Cook duality seen in the real life section; Endive is the Baker/Technician and Mung Daal is the Cook/Performer. Many episodes, however, show that they're both equally competent, just different in their style and temperaments.
  • Robins I & III in Young Justice, with Dick as the Performer and Tim as the Technician. They're both very efficient, methodical crimefighters; the difference is that Dick enjoys the action and is a naturally charismatic leader, despite his distaste for the job, while Tim is quieter, more serious, and while modest, is a by-the-book leader who doesn't mind the responsibility. Tim doesn't really inject much of his personality into crimefighting, while Dick unequivocally states in the tie-in comics, "I love my job."
  • One episode of Muppet Babies (1984) has Piggy and Skeeter trying to teach Scooter how to dance. Piggy (the technician) is a ballet dancer who thinks dance should be beautiful, while Skeeter (the performer) thinks dance should be fun. While the two fight over who's right, Scooter decides to Take a Third Option and performs a graceful Fred Astaire-inspired tap routine, which proves that dance can be both beautiful and fun.
  • In the Disney Fairies short "Pixie Hollow Bake-Off", the Baker Fairies, who have been baking an identical perfect white cake every year for years, are the Technicians and Tink and her friends, who create their own brightly decorated cake, are the Performers. The queen congratulates the "Non-Baker Fairies" on the imagination they've shown, but their cake ends up tasting terrible.
  • Zuko and Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender represent this with their different firbending styles, as befitting their Sibling Yin-Yang/Red Oni, Blue Oni personalities. Zuko uses showy fire attacks and a lot of jumping, kicks and flips, whereas Azula's fire and movements are tightly controlled, economical and directed. This is inverted come the series finale however. When Zuko temporarily loses his firebending, he and Aang go to rediscover a forgotten style powered by passion and liveliness (taught by a lost tribe of Firebenders) and it's flat-out stated that this is how Firebending actually is compared to the anger and hatred driven style it is now, thus allowing Zuko to become a much better bender. Azula suffers a Villainous Breakdown as a result of her only two friends betraying her and her father pretty much abandoning her, and quickly goes insane. Zuko manages to take advantage of this and very nearly beats Azula had she not tried a sneak attack against Katara, who was spectating at the time.
    • And as demonstrated in the immediate follow-up to the above scene, a similar contrast can also be made between Azula and Katara herself, both being prodigies in their respective elements. As opposed to Azula's practiced and perfected technique and above-mentioned mental instability, Katara's bending is fluid, efficient, and driven by her emotions, such as flaring out of control when angry or in defense of her friends. In an interesting twist, however, while relatively skilled on her own merits, she wasn't as much of an expert in the first season when she relied on her feelings alone, and as such had to learn specific techniques from the Northern Water Tribe to help her gain a better understanding of her element. So while her emotional drive is a key factor, it's a combination of skill and passion that makes her bending so effective, allowing her to subdue a rampaging Azula with relative ease.
  • There's something of this dynamic going on between Apple White and Raven Queen in Ever After High, made clearest in 'Way Too Wonderland' where Apple White is noted as being better at chess, while Raven is better at dancing. Apple White is also president of the Student Council, a A+ student and the most popular girl in school, yet she's also rigid, inflexible and obsessed with tradition. Raven is absolutely none of those things, yet her creativity, imagination and ambition make her far more effective in a crisis.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • The rivalry between Bob Belcher and Jimmy Pesto has Bob as the performer and Jimmy as the technician. Bob may not be a good restauranteur, with his restaurant always on the verge of closing, but he is an amazing burger cook and frequently gets praise from professional chefs. Jimmy, on the other hand, is a great businessman who runs his pizzeria like a well-oiled machine, but he's a terrible chef as eating his own burger once drove him to tears by how bad it was.
    • One episode showed that Bob had a similar contrast with his father, who rigidly believes in his menu and refuses to make changes.
    • Episodes that focus on Gene often shows him as way over on the performer end of the scale, and often struggles with the discipline and attention span required to become a better musician.
  • The Dragon Prince:
    • The difference between Claudia and Callum's approach to learning magic. Claudia is the Technician; she learns magic through academic study, efficiently analyzing what components are needed for each spell, and is methodical to a ruthless degree. Callum, on the other hand, is the Performer; he has never had a single day of actual study in his life, but has such a strong intuitive grasp that he is able to pick up spells and abilities primarily by observing others and strives to understand the magic itself. He quite literally learns by performance, such as when he performs a dancing ritual just by seeing the dance once before. It just so happens that Primal Magic favors meditative understanding and performance over simple academic knowledge. As a result, Callum and Claudia are pretty balanced out: Claudia knows a far greater number of spells than Callum does, but Callum is capable of feats that no human mage can do (such as flight), and doesn't have to spend a great deal of time learning magic, which frees him up to learn other skills.
    • When it comes to swordfighting, Callum is also the Performer to Soren's Technician: while Soren knows a great deal more about swordfighting than Callum does, Callum is more creative and improvisational (coming up with a sweep-the-leg move).
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • In the episode "The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks!" Huey is the technician, keeping a checklist of work tasks and doing them all meticulously, while Dewey is the performer, mostly slacking off day-to-day work tasks but impressing people by embracing the company culture and doing things like ordering everyone pizza for lunch. The result is that Huey gets the internship for all his hard work, but Dewey gets a much better VP position for no other reason than owning a briefcase. This is actually discussed by Dewey in his pep-talk shortly afterward, telling Huey that while everyone is drawn to and impressed by the performers, it's the technicians' hard work that make the performer's role possible.
    • "Challenge of the Senior Junior Woodchucks!" focuses on Huey and Violet competing for the position of Senior Junior Woodchuck. Huey is one again in the technician role, following the step by step instructions of the group's guidebook to earn merit badges at official troop events. Violet is the performer, focusing on the group's overarching principles rather than the nitty gritty details and applying them to the real world to earn her badges. Violet wound up winning because Huey's focus on instructions caused him to lose focus on the group's philosophy of helping others.
  • The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Rival" obliquely touches on the trope when Lisa's class have to create literary dioramas. Allison, the eponymous rival, constructs an elaborate diorama based on The Telltale Heart, complete with a battery-powered mechanism to simulate the thumping of the floorboards from the story's climax; however, the judges (Principal Skinner and Ms Hoover) are unimpressed by the technical achievement, stating instead that the project has little originality to it. The only "performer" to counterpoint the "technician" is Ralph Wiggum's action figures, which actually won the contest because Skinner is a Star Wars fanboy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rainbow Dash (performer) vs. Fluttershy (technician). Rainbow loves to show off and create flashy moves, while Fluttershy simply relies on hard work and grit.
    • Pinkie Pie and Rarity have similar parallels. Both are charismatic people-ponies with Pinkie Pie being naturally cheerful, friendly, and full of a desire to make others smile (performer) and Rarity cultivating her image, deliberately networking to grow her social circle, and using her craft to make a name for herself (technician).
    • Twilight Sparkle and Applejack do have similar parallels as well. Both have extensive knowledge of their respective fields, magic and farming, respectively. But while Twilight's knowledge comes from years of intense study and research (techincian), Applejack's comes from years of practical experience (performer).
  • In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Green Gums the Pirate calmly points out during a talent show, being technical instead of a performer during a performance isn't a winning strategy.
  • The Owl House:
    • This is part of the reason why Luz (Performer) rubs Amity (Technician) the wrong way in the episode "Covention". Amity has spent her entire life studying magic, so the fact that Luz treats it as something fun and exciting only serves to further the tension between them. It's only after seeing just how hard Luz has to work to even be able to use magic in the first place that she starts to lighten up.
    • The tense relationship between Eda (Performer) and her sister Lilith (Technician) is largely rooted in this trope. Eda spurned academic learning and intuitively figured out her magic by experimenting and seeing what worked for her, eventually becoming one of the most powerful witches on the Boiling Isles. Lilith, by contrast, diligently studied established magical practices for years, but ultimately can't hold a candle to Eda in a straight fight. Flipped around after they both lose their powers and need to learn Luz's glyph-based magic, which is far more methodical than their usual magic. Eda impatiently tries to wildly combine glyphs for more powerful effects without bothering to look at the fundamentals, while Lilith patiently learns the basics of how glyphs work and how they interact with each other. As a result, Lilith soon masters how to use glyphs in combat, while Eda's efforts go out of control and nearly lead to disaster.
  • An episode of Arthur has the main cast studying clowning and comedy for the school talent show. Arthur tries to join in, but finds that he can't land any of the gags, and the others berate him for not being funny. They eventually do a good routine that gets a polite reaction. Arthur instead plays the piano, but, upon noticing his baby sister Kate in the front row, makes goofy faces and fools around on the keys to make her—and by extension, the rest of the audience—laugh uproariously. The professional clown who taught them praises Arthur as the funniest—the others were technically better, but it was Arthur's genuine silliness that truly made people smile.
  • The Venture Bros. has this with the Monarch and both his main partners. In terms of actual skill and intelligence, Sheila is a sensible Gadgeteer Genius who knows the regulations inside and out, and Gary is a highly-trained physical combatant, while the Monarch is far less skilled in either area (he has a pretty shoddy combat record, doesn't demonstrate much technical knowledge, and behaves recklessly in combat). However, both Sheila and Gary sputtered out as solo villains because they didn't have much passion, creativity, or charisma, all of which the Monarch has in spades. Much of the reason they work well together is combining their actual technical skill with the attitude of a man who will crash through a window in a butterfly costume.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In the episode "Frightningale", pop star Clara Nightingale holds an open audition for the role of Ladybug in her next music video. The two top choices are Chloé (technician), who's had years of private dance lessons and absolutely nails a complicated routine, and Marinette (performer), who's klutzy and awkward with no dance experience, but has the spirit of Ladybug and demonstrated genuine kindness during the audition. Marinette initially turns down the role (out of fear that she'll blow her secret identity if she's seen in costume), but she's the one Clara and Adrien Agreste strongly prefer, and when she refuses to allow Chloé to represent Ladybug, she instantly gets the role back.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Technician Vs Performer


Oliver Horn v. Tullio Rossi

"Rivals". Oliver Horn faces off against Tullio Rossi in a swords-only duel. Rossi reveals an acrobatic, no-holds-barred fighting style unlike any of the three accepted Western sword schools: he dislikes them and taught himself to fight, thinking it quicker that way. After taking a few punches, an irritated Oliver thanks him for reminding him of his own inexperience, and then demonstrates to Rossi precisely WHY traditional sword arts styles contain few unarmed strikes: reaching out to punch your opponent makes you vulnerable to being grappled and immobilized. Exactly eight blows after saying he would, Oliver has disarmed him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WeakButSkilled

Media sources: