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The Strategist

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"Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens."

"It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Strategist is a character whose primary job is to think up intricate and ingenious ways to defeat the enemy. The Strategist is often in a supporting role, but may be the hero as well.

In a supporting role, the Strategist is basically The Smart Guy on turbo, although they will — as a general rule — be less likely to physically partake in any of the plans they think up. The heroes may come to rely on The Strategist for their ultimate success, and, as such, will have to protect and keep The Strategist as far away from the front lines as possible. The loss of The Strategist might come across as an unmitigated disaster, should the heroes come to rely on his or her advice too much. Also, there's no guarantee that The Strategist won't turn out to also be The Chessmaster, manipulating both the heroes and the villains towards some mysterious and personal goal. This will almost never be the case, however, as The Strategist very rarely wants power for him- or herself; the sheer joy of being given a venue where they can stretch their intellectual muscles and try out their plans is often reward enough for their loyalty and service.

The Strategist may also take center stage. As a hero, The Strategist's clever tactical tricks drive the story. A main character Strategist will face overwhelming odds, again and again. The enemy may have difficulty believing The Strategist can possibly win — after all, they're outnumbered 25 to 1 and have a moron for a boss! But by bending the rules a little, dusting off their knowledge of military history, and maybe pulling a few dirty tricks, The Strategist comes out on top, or at least alive.

The Strategist may have TV Genius tendencies, but they will just as often be charismatic, knowing that, by acting so, they'll have an easier time convincing others to follow their plans.

In many sport stories, The Strategist will be a highly-talented player who also devises strategies or helps the coach do so. Often, said characters have weak health, so they're only allowed to play for a limited time, or aren't called into the games unless the team is in a tight pinch. They're also likely to hold quite the degree of power inside of the team, possibly as captains or assistants...if not coaches.

The Svengali is usually this in his dealings with the general public on behalf of his protégé(s).

In games, players who want to be Strategists are a widely recognised Player Archetype, making this a sister trope to other such archetypes; naturally, some are better planners than others.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Batman often serves this role in the Justice League of America, being the only one without superpowers and usually the only one with common sense. Most of the Bat Family are Action Hero Strategists, though some do tend to skip the strategy part. He even has plans for fighting his fellow Justice League members and is so prepared for any threats that he's even built a Batcave on the moon.
    • In Knightfall, Bane masterminds a breakout of Arkham Asylum and allows Batman's Rogues Gallery to wear the hero down, before attacking. He effortlessly defeats him, ending with him breaking his back and forever becoming known as "The Man Who Broke the Bat". Unfortunately, adaptations usually reduce him to Dumb Muscle.
  • Captain America: There's a reason why Captain America is one of the most respected heroes in the Marvel Universe, aside from being the world's first Super-Soldier. He's one of the world's most brilliant military strategists in history. In "Deadpool Art of War" he outmaneuvers Loki by waiting for his army to get tired before going full force and flanks them using Fury's intel on their movement.
  • Swamp Thing: In one issue of Alan Moore's run, the antagonists want to permanently get Swampy out of their hair. So what do they do? They pay Evil Genius extraordinaire Lex Luthor an obscene amount of cash to merely describe a machine that will sever the elemental's connection to Earth — and it works like a charm.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Etta Candy was the strategist of the Holliday Girls, even on missions that included Wondy and Steve Trevor, since she was the best at coming up with plans that took advantage of each teammate's specialties and their numbers and was good at altering them to fit a changing situation on the fly. On the other hand Wondy's plans usually boiled down to letting herself get captured to figure out the bad guys and Steve liked to quietly sneak around avoiding attention for as long as possible.
  • X-Men: Cyclops gives Cap a real run for his money. Not only a superb field commander, Cyclops is a brilliant strategist and tactician. Perhaps his masterstroke is the creation of Utopia during Dark Reign, where he completely outmaneuvers and utterly humiliates Norman Osborne and his Dark Avengers, cracks Osborne's Villain with Good Publicity standing, and exposes Osborne for the psychopath he truly is.
  • Young Justice: Robin was the strategist of the team, coming up with clever plans that his teammates often didn't understand or didn't try to follow, which meant his plans had to account for their impulsive behavior. He became an even more effective planner for the team when Wonder Girl was elected the new team leader since she understood and could collaborate with him to implement his ideas.

    Fan Works 
  • Jimmy's Visit With Dr. Franklin: Jimmy Osgood is a villainous example who used his strategic planning skills to come up with a complex plan to bring his brother back go life.
  • Squirtle from Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Power Trip, who is the hero version of this trope. Because he is a human naturally, and not a Pokémon, he is able to think out strategies when he and his teammates fight together.
  • Cross from the This Bites! is probably one of the best strategists in any fanfiction. While many of his strategies are somehow averted due to Murphy's Law, his plans to completely flip the scripts of both the Marine G8 Base Arc and the Thriller Bark Arc show his skill in this extremely well. He's also even managed to make Tashigi, Smoker, Hina, and T-Bone betray the World Government and work with him to overthrow it and build it anew, among other characters.
  • Ripples In The Pond: Nojiko is the Straw Hat's strategist despite Evan being the Self-Insert. She's created plans to avert any shenanigans from Whiskey Peak and Little Garden, as well as ways to survive the crazy weather in the first half of the Grand Line, but the former ended up failing spectacularly due to Murphy's Law. Don't believe me? Not only did Evan unknowingly record Vivi accidentally telling Miss Monday and Mr. 9 Crocodile's secret... without them realizing it, he then replayed it to over fifty of the other Baroque Works Agents, plus Vivi and the other Straw Hats who were present... all with Mr. 13 and Miss Friday being there to witness it.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • As per his comics and MCU selves (see appropriate folders), this is one of Steve Rogers' greatest abilities. Whether it's a one-on-one duel or leading the Avengers against an army, his strategic skills allow him to fight and win, no matter the odds. These abilities are also evident in his descendants Alison and Sharon Carter, Jack O'Neill, and Carol Danvers.
    • Clint also aids in this role; given his abilities, he's best at fighting long-distance, so his role is usually to go high and serve as the spotter, relaying tactical information to Steve.
    • Fellow super-soldier Bucky/the Winter Soldier also possesses these skills, and uses them to mentor Harry in the second book on how to fight in a way other than charging in head-on.
  • Mastermind: Strategist for Hire: As the title suggests, Izuku makes a living selling strategies and plans to villains, mostly for murders and thefts. While Izuku has some combat ability, it's his ability to both strategize in advance and create plans on the fly that allow him to succeed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Elaine, the policewoman, in Angels Revenge, who irons out the details of the raid on the compound as soon as she arrives.
  • Austerlitz details the tactical prowess Napoléon Bonaparte (Pierre Mondy) showcased at the eponymous battle in 1805, which remains his most famous masterpiece in that field. At about two-thirds of the film, he explains his plans with much details to his officers with maps of the Pratzen Heights.
  • This is probably the single most fearsome superpower of Captain America: The First Avenger, who is able to instantaneously formulate ironclad battle formations from split-second analysis of the situation compared with the skills of his warriors. Powerful as The Avengers may individually be, they would not have been able to stop the Chitauri from tearing every innocent civilian in Manhattan to pieces were it not for the discipline and teamwork that The Good Captain inspired in them.
  • James Bond: Kronsteen's role in SPECTRE in From Russia with Love is as planner of many of their operations.
  • The title character in Lawrence of Arabia follows the sample plot given above very closely, except that he actively seeks out the dejected Arab rebels rather than the other way around.
  • In Serenity, Mal Reynolds becomes this once the Alliance has pushed him far enough. He figures out a way to get Serenity through a fleet of Reaver ships unmolested.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 sees Clarke quickly establish herself in this role, first among the 100, then among the Grounders and the other Ark survivors.
  • As the nickname implies, this was "Hannibal" Smith's role in The A-Team. When the man makes a plan, it always comes together.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Lord Refa is a murderous villain, but he is admittedly brilliant at strategy, correctly interpreting intelligence on the Narn's fleet's major strike and planning a trap of his own. However, he is later manipulated into opening a dozen other fronts at once when they have no chance of winning them all.
    • Captain John Sheridan is regarded in universe as arguably the greatest tactical mind of his generation, and also shows a keen mind for both military and political strategy, that allows him to play both ambassadors and his enemies like puppets.
  • In the Firefly episode "Ariel", Simon is this, masterminding one of the crew's most profitable heists of the show's run. Not only does he come up with The Plan to sneak into a high-security Alliance hospital and make out with a king's ransom in expensive meds, he spearheads the theft itself and adjusts their tactics when faced with the inevitable obstacles.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Robb quickly reveals himself to be this when faced with real warfare, within one day, he manages to sneak up on Jaime Lannister, distract Tywin, defeat Jaime's army in the field, and capture Jaime, which provides Robb with an extremely valuable hostage. Its even impressive that he is not only thinking up the plans, but is also leading his men and becoming very physically involved with the war.
    • Tywin, very much so, both as a military commander and a diplomat. What makes this combination deadly is that when Robb Stark outmatches him as a battlefield commander, Tywin can fall back on his secondary skills while Robb is still a raw youth in the case of politics and diplomacy.
    • Tyrion, both in the political game and in a battle, as he showed off during the Battle of Blackwater. Indeed, so brilliant was his defense, that despite limited resources, a small number of troops and facing backstabbing from his own side, he successfully held the City's defenses and kept Stannis from breaching the gate long enough for his father and the Tyrells to relieve them.
    • While it's clear Stannis is not the greatest politician, his strategic ability and talent as a general let him stay in the game. He would've taken King's Landing if it hadn't been for Tyrion's wildfire trick and fiercely organized defense, which delayed his siege long enough for Tywin to arrive with the Tyrells as reinforcements. Though he finally loses this largely came about through rather contrived writing, with Ramsay Bolton somehow wrecking Stannis's war effort with 20 men in a night raid.
    • Jaime reveals to be quite competent military wise, taking back Riverrun by threatening Edmund's son, convincing the Tarly to betray the Tyrells and, knowing Tyrion has a plan to take Casterly Rock, uses it to strand the Unsullied while he conquers the Reach with the force that was stationed at the Rock.
  • In a deleted scene in the second season of Heroes, Kaito Nakamura is revealed to be capable of instantly seeing all the variables in a given situation and predicting the outcome.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Emu Hojo balances out the disadvantage of having to work with motley group of unreliable individuals by shuffling them around using Batman Gambit. He is not called Genius Gamer M for nothing. Things only got better when they started to acknowledge him, allowing him to plot without having to arrange them into places needed by trickery.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Despite being an Orc, Adar outmanoeuvred beings and factions far more powerful than him. He found a way to kill a Maia and took his army of Orcs with him, carefully planned for decades if not more to take over the Southlands, and during the battle of Tirharad, hearing the Numenorian army approaching, he instructs Waldreg to take Morgoth's hilt and secretly activate the mechanism that would release water from the mountain lake and provoke the eruption of Orodruin. The Villain Wins.
  • In one episode of Magnum, P.I., Magnum plots an ingenious scheme to help a Russian track star defect and reunite with her lover.
  • Zack Taylor from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is typically the team's tactician, and splits secondary The Smart Guy duties with Trini Kwan.
  • Charlie Eppes's mathematical anticipations of the deeds of evildoers in NUMB3RS might count. He's not the one who comes up with the team's plans, but he is the one who figures out the plans of the Bad Guy of the Week.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation features a race of these, who have such a reputation for strategic skill that they have never actually fought a war. Worf instantly points out the Fridge Logic in this.
  • And then on Deep Space Nine Worf himself becomes "Strategic Operations Officer," a.k.a. "Reason To Have Worf On This Show."

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Bobby Heenan was known as "The Brain" partially for this reason. As a manager, he would often give sound advice to his clients during matches, allowing them to achieve victory. One of his shortcomings was that he would often get too excited and bark out orders too loud.
  • In Ring of Honor, Stokely Hathaway hung around Moose for this reason. Moose being a big, powerful, agile football player had all the tools to succeed except experience.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech has had numerous examples throughout its long history. The two most well-known examples are probably Hanse Davion (known as "The Fox") as an Inner Sphere example and Khan Ulric Kerensky of Clan Wolf: Hanse used political strategy to almost re-unify the Inner Sphere by joining its two biggest realms in marriage and then almost conquering a third, while Ulric was a military strategist whose leadership of Clan Wolf amounted to an unbroken string of "Be Careful What You Wish For" moments for the Crusader factions.
  • Dungeons & Dragons introduced the Battle Master fighter archetype in Fifth edition, which functions as this through the use of Superiority Dice as a means to control the tide of battle.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Lion El'Jonson probably counts as this to a greater degree than the other Primarchs. Considering he joined the Crusade much later than, say, Horus, he probably won more military victories than any of his brothers, proportionally speaking. Horus and Robute Guilliman would be the runners-up.
    • For a human example, Ursakar E. Creed has an ability that lets him hide a unit somewhere on the battlefield for deployment later. Useful, but has also led to him being a Memetic Badass that can hide tanks behind lampposts, and beat Tzeentch in games of chess.
    • Alpharius' in-game model has every single army-boosting rule on it, making him a premier force multiplier. Lore-wise, Alpharius was a brilliant but extremely unconventional strategist who saw battles almost entirely on the strategic level and was a master of stacking the deck before battle was even commenced; his main weakness was his It's All About Me attitude and that, as the last Primarch discovered, he would never get the chance to catch up to his brothers, a fact that Roboute Guilliman rubbed in his face.
    • All the Primarchs count but some standout more than others like:
      • The aforementioned Lion El'Jonson who was said to plan out a planetary siege in seconds.
      • Roboute Guiliman who wrote the Codex Astartes, the main treatise on warfare used by Space Marines. Among his superhuman brothers, Guiliman was known for his excellent and extensive plans, and his bureaucratic and analytic mindset gave him a mastery of logistics and a strong grasp of strategy in the high-level sense.
      • Rogal Dorn, a master of defensive fighting and siege tactics who held Terra and the Sol System together as Lord-Commander of the Imperium during the Horus Heresy. Even Horus, prior to his fall to Chaos, admitted that Dorn was the best at fortifying and holding a position.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Koihime†Musou, the core strategists of the three kingdoms, Koumei (Shoku), Shuuyu (Go), and Jun'iku (Gi), are key to their nation's success. This is far more apparent in the games than in the lighthearted anime adaptation.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY has the leaders of the main cast, Ruby and Jaune, though they're more tacticians than strategists. Both quickly grasp the tactical situation, form plans to work according to their advantages and counter possible threats. They're perfectly aware of the capabilities of their teammates and are able to properly coordinate them into achieving feats that can give them the upper hand during an encounter. Of the two, Jaune performs best when he has time to step back and formulate a plan, whereas Ruby tends to come up with her schemes on the fly.
    Ruby: I have a plan.
    Weiss: You always do.

    Web Comics 
  • Red Mage is the strategist for the adventuring party in 8-Bit Theater... by which we mean that he's the one most likely to blurt out "I have a plan!" and then go on to describe a strategy so utterly idiotic that it's often outright reality-defying. According to himself, it's a feature, not a bug: a muti-step plan that is too stupid to succeed at any stage and on any level will make reality go cross-eyed when it tries to figure out what the heck is even going on... Reality either concedes and let the strategies work according to Red Mage's plans or have them spectacularily fail depending on what option is funnier.
  • Erfworld centers around Parson Gotti, who was teleported to a world based on turn-based strategy games to serve as "the perfect warlord" to a Evil Overlord who is badly losing a war. This was most greatly illustrated in a strip where Parson essentially paraphrases Sun Tzu's The Art Of War. The scene is also an outright deconstruction; he has to patiently explain that even perfect strategy doesn't mean you never lose.
  • Tarvek in Girl Genius is temporarily placed in command of the Wulfenbach forces after identifying a treacherous unit just by looking at the military map while on the way to the cells. Because they aren't complete fools, his decisions are assessed by other strategists and 23 weapons are trained on him at all times.
  • The Order of the Stick: Redcloak serves this purpose for Team Evil; Xykon isn't as stupid as he appears at first glance, but he's too lazy and impulsive to actually plan things out, so he leaves that to Red. The best example is probably the Battle of Azure City, where Redcloak not only averts Hollywood Tactics, but actually gains the villains a victory.

    Web Original 
  • The role of generals in The Salvation War, with General of the Armies David Petraeus being the KING of them all. Though his strategic maneuvers are straight out of the U.S. Army playbook; unlike his real-life role in counter-insurgency, in TSW Petraeus is simply applying established doctrine in unfamiliar circumstances rather than creating any radically new concepts. Though, unlike some other examples, he's clearly a strategist, not a tactician; Author's Word has it that he's very good at that, but that's not his role and primary concern. In fact, in TSW, Petraeus is never seen to be carrying a weapon or on the front lines.
  • Skitter from Worm is definitely this. She has won fights against capes way out of her league simply by being very good at using the abilities of herself and everyone else on her side.

    Web Videos 
  • Toward the tail end of Kickassia, after the idea of summoning Dr. Insano goes about as well as one could expect, Linkara is called upon to determine an actual strategy to defeat the Nostalgia Critic.
  • In Noob, Heimdäl is Justice guild's leader and strategist, a trait seen mostly in the novels. The novels also state that Arthéon was another of Justice's strategists before his Real Money Trade incident. Arthéon puts these talents in use as leader of the Noob guild in all three media, but his expertise gets balanced out by Noob being a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits of which he's the Only Sane Man.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Sokka definitely graduates into this by the start of Book 3, when he comes up with the plan to invade the Fire Nation. Throughout the series, when the question "What's The Plan?" comes up, the Gaang inevitably turns to Sokka.
    • Princess Azula is a villainous example. At 14, she is arguably the greatest strategic mind in the series. Her flawless takeover of Ba Sing Se relied on her juggling multiple different complications into supreme advantage that all ended up going her way. She also planned the defense of the Fire Nation that ended up defeating Sokka's plan (using information she gained in disguise). She's an unconventional example as she's also a brilliant fighter and one of the most physically dangerous villains in the show.
  • Obsidian and Strika in Beast Machines, described by Rattrap as the two greatest generals in Cybertronian history.
  • Gorilla Grodd "watches lots and lots of TV" in order to enact his Divide and Conquer plot on the Justice League. It nearly works but his strategy doesn't include immediately finishing them off. This is actually pointed out by Clayface Martian Manhunter that this would always happen in some of the movies he would do. Grodd waves him away saying how there's no way it could happen...
  • PAW Patrol:
    • Ryder can be a very good example when the pups are briefing their emergencies. and picks the exact pups to respond. and sometimes on an emergency he uses the vehicles, gear or environment and quick thinking to save the day. Since as a leader and a trained rescuer along with the pups at his beck and call he and the pups saves the day in their own super way.
    • HE is credited by Cap'n Turbot in "Sea Patrol: Pups save their Pirated Sea Patroller." in Order to lure Sid the Pirate away from Adventure Beach. Rocky has a cut-out pirate ship hit by the lighthouse light, Chase and the Cap'n make noise for help and Marshall informs Sid about the cool pirate ship they saw from far away. later the Paw Patrol perform the Plan Perfectly.Marshall frees Robo-dog from capture, Lure Sid away from the Bridge, Reclaiming their Shanghaied Sea Patroller, and managed to outsmart Sid The Pirate again.
  • Kenny is this in the South Park episode "Best Friends Forever"; he proves so adept at a PSP real-time strategy game that Heaven recruits him to lead angelic armies against the hosts of Hell.
  • In Seasons 3 and 4 of Star Wars Rebels, Grand Admiral Thrawn is called in to deal with the Rebels and quickly proves himself to be one of these.


Video Example(s):



Due to his age and his affinity to sloth mantra, Kalrow prefers not to fight anybody directly and manages his Purification Troops from a distance.

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