Tony Stark: Actually, [Steve]'s the boss. I just pay for everything and design everything and... make everyone look cooler.
The Team Benefactor is the member of The Team who allows the adventure to continue by supplying some sort of resource they (and only they) have access to rather than their own talents (unless said talents are something very narrow). The resource in question might be;
- Money (Either covering the group's expenses as they travel or providing a large sum of money to fund the trip).
- Knowledge of what they're specifically dealing with (characters who provide this are often The Smart Guy as well). Military fiction (especially Military Science Fiction) often has a civilian expert (or witness to whatever the protagonists are dealing with, local guide, etc) in this role.
- Being The Chosen Zero, who hasn't got anything in their favour apart from some vague prophecy that they'll be useful or access to something Only the Chosen May Wield.
- Have something special about them (e.g. being of a given lineage needed to enter their ancestor's tomb or meeting the Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements) that the group need to continue.
- Just own a means of transport which the group need to make use of.
- Have some sort of connection to someone who fits one of the above, who agrees to help on the condition that this character can travel with the group (e.g. the representative of a company who's funding an expedition or the son of a king who lent the group a ship).
This trope is a good way to justify The Friend Nobody Likes or an Indispensable Scoundrel, since it allows the writer to include a character that is at odds with the rest but they can't get rid of. Even if they're not, it's likely that what they provide is the only thing they can provide (at first), making them The Load. The expertise variant is the most likely to avoid this, since their knowledge might allow them to double as The Medic or a Gadgeteer Genius even if they aren't a Badass Bookworm.
Characters who provide money might overlap with Uncle Pennybags or Wealthy Philanthropist. A character with some sort of destiny in this position might be The Chosen Zero if they don't provide anything but their status as such. A character who merely gives the heroes what they need and sends them on their way (without joining them) is some form of Big Good rather than this trope. If this character joins the group as the Sixth Ranger then they might be a Mysterious Backer or an Anonymous Benefactor. They often appear in a Caper Crew. Compare Plot Tailored to the Party where it is contrived so each character can overcome an obstacle. See also Crimefighting with Cash (for when this trope is a superpower).
A supertrope to Beleaguered Benefactor.
- Dryden Fassa in The Vision of Escaflowne is an Intrepid Merchant, with zero fighting skills but with an incredibly sharp mind, who manages to join Hitomi and Van's little gang by providing funding (read: an ungodly sum of money) for the title mech's mid-season repairs which basically saves Van's life since his back-then almost fatal wounds come from his synchronization with Escaflowne itself.
- Bubblegum Crisis: Sylia Stingray serves as both the leader and the backer for the Knight Sabers. She designs all of their equipment, including their hardsuits, and finances their operations, using her family's wealth, and by lining up assignments with high paying officials, and businessmen.
- Dragon Ball Z
- Bulma and her family fund and personally build the ludicrously expensive operations of building interstellar spacecraft, time machines, and the copious amounts of food that Saiyans eat. Ox King and Hercule do too, to a lesser extent.
- The Briefs family and Hercule are also the go-to people for hiding stuff that would compromise the Masquerade. When a bunch of Namekians find themselves stranded for nearly 9 months, Bulma invited them to stay at her place, and when they needed to keep Majin Buu under wraps for six months, Hercule's compound proved just the ticket. Capsule Corp. even seems to have a built-in Weirdness Censor due to the apparently copious oddities that Dr. Briefs' experiments have produced, so when a giant wish-granting dragon is summoned on his front lawn, nobody is particularly alarmed once they find out it's at Capsule Corp.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, Tsukiyama becomes one to Kaneki's gang in the second half of the series. Besides using his personal connections to gather information, he financially provides for them and uses his family's influence to aid them (read: Kaneki).
- Highschool of the Dead: While Shizuka may initially seem like The Load, the group's survival is largely due to her contributions:
- She was the one that made their escape from the school possible, by suggesting they head to the Teacher's Lounge so they could get a set of keys for one of the buses. And she was the only one who knew how to drive it, along with all the other times her driving has gotten them out of hairy situations.
- They also had a place to eat and rest at the end of their first day, since she let them use her friend's apartment. Which is how they were able to arm themselves, thanks to Rika's weapons cache and supply of ammo. Plus, it gave them access to a new vehicle and a change of clothes.
- And it was due to her medical expertise as a School Nurse that Rei was able to fully recover from her back injury (ep. 10 and 11); keeping their fighting force at four strong.
- Project A-ko: Mr. Daitokuji uses his wealth to supply Graviton City's defense force with advanced aircraft and mecha, in exchange for their help in trying to stop his daughter and A-ko from demolishing the city during their fights.
- Rebuild World:
- Kibayashi is a Friend on the Force (at the Hunter's Office) version of this. Kibayashi's support is in the form of favorable contracts where the government pays for Akira's consumables, as well as classified information with the preface that it's "just my guess" or "you didn't hear this from me".
- Viola provides vital information as a Knowledge Broker, due to either being payed or (more often) threatened for it. She also invests a ton of money into Sheryl's gang to prove she's worth keeping alive due to the schemes she'd pulled on Sheryl and Akira.
- Inabe provides government backing and sells relics to Sheryl while fortifying her Home Base into a veritable fortress to keep them from being stolen.
- Hikaru, who gets assigned as essentially Akira's talent agent. As an I Owe You My Life reward, she uses her negotiation skills and connections to get Akira and his friends equipment far exceeding their hunter level.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Robert Speedwagon becomes this after striking it rich as an oil baron in America. Even after his death, the Speedwagon Foundation is constantly supplying the descendants of Jonathan Joestar with money, vehicles, medical aid, or anything else they require on their bizarre adventures.
- Angel acted in this capacity when he was with the Champions, funding the group as well as being on the team. He also funded and led The Defenders, turning them into an actual team instead of a non-team. On the X-Men he also sometimes provided funds, although at least at the beginning they mostly came from Charles Xavier, whose "old money" family fortune also included the Xavier Mansion and its spacious grounds and enough money to have his X-Men ride into action in Rolls-Royces from the first issue.
- Nighthawk (the Marvel Comics version of Batman) provided funds for the Defenders while he was on the non-team, and they met at his ranch estate.
- The Avengers:
- Iron Man / Tony Stark originally funded the team, setting them up in his mansion and giving them the use of his butler Jarvis. This later was replaced by a foundation named after Stark's mother.
- Other equipment, most notably the Quinjets, was produced in Wakanda and provided to the team by the Black Panther.
- Iron Fist would sometimes fund the Heroes for Hire group if Luke Cage was hardup for cash.
- Kate Bishop (the Hawkeye of Young Avengers) provides funding for the team using her father's wealth, and converts one of his old buildings into a base for their operations. Unlike most examples, not only is she a fully fledged member of the group, she sometimes also acts as their unofficial leader.
- Legion of Super-Heroes:
- In most continuities, R. J. Brande funded the team. In the New 52 version (based mostly on the original one) he gained his fortune by making suns.
- In the Threeboot version, they're reliant on Princess Projectra's fortune, which is implied to be the main reason Princess Projectra is even on the team.
- Reed Richards is this to the Fantastic Four, not only providing them with their technical equipment, but also with a big part of the funding through patent fees etc.
- Justice League:
- Oliver Queen funded the team (anonymously) in JLA: Year One, and Bruce Wayne has also given them money to ensure they keep their massive supervillain battles away from Gotham.
- Maxwell Lord was this to the original incarnation of Justice League International, before his Face–Heel Turn and the Flashpoint reboot.
- Ollie is funding the team again as of DC Infinite Frontier.
- The mysterious "Fourth Man" of Planetary.
- This is how Steve Dayton a.k.a. Mento got involved with the Doom Patrol, going so far as to buy himself a psychic-power-enhancing helmet and join the team all so he could be close to Rita Farr.
- Deadpool ends up being this to the second incarnation of the Uncanny Avengers. His being an In-universe Cash-Cow Franchise provides the team with funds to carry out their missions. Following the events of Secret Empire, this fell to the Human Torch.
- In Aliens, Ripley is this from the perspective of the soldiers (since she's just a civilian who happened to have seen what they've been sent in to investigate).
- Fight Club: The narrator is an example of this, since he blackmails his boss at a large automobile company into funding Fight Club, and presumably later Project Mayhem. Of course, also being Tyler, the same person provides all the leadership and creative force behind those operations too, but he is not aware of that at the time.
- Glass Onion: Miles is the financial benefactor of his friend group. Most obviously, he bankrolls Claire's political aspirations and employs Lionel. Halfway through the film it's revealed that he met them at a bar and helped propel them to individual success with his money and connections. This does have the side effect of them having twisted loyalty to him since they all owe him in one form or another.
- Godzilla vs. Kong: Apex Cybernetics executive Maia Simmons and her father Walter respectively are to Team Kong as Miranda and the Illusive Man are to the Normandy crew respectively: Walter is providing the expedition with the HEAVs necessary to access and even stand a chance at braving the Hollow Earth, but Maia represents Walter's company on the team whilst Walter doesn't physically join them in any capacity.
- Inception: Saito, a ludicrously wealthy CEO, hires the team to perform the inception, and insists on going with them to protect his investment. He buys an entire airline to make it easier for them to get to their target, but isn't much use after that.
- Batman, unsurprisingly, takes on this role in Justice League (2017). Besides providing the team with their tech and a personnel carrier, the movie ends with him planning to turn Wayne Manor into this universe's Hall of Justice. He also helps his teammates in their civilian lives, getting Barry Allen a job in a crime lab and taking care of Martha Kent's financial problems.
Clark: How did you get the house back from the bank?
Bruce: I bought the bank.
Clark:...The whole bank?
Bruce: It's like a reflex with me, I dunno...
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has the "bond company stooge" who is an accountant who joins the crew to report back to their benefactors and make sure they stay within budget.
- Tony Stark/Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just like in the comics, he becomes this for the Avengers; Steve is the leader, while he provides the expensive tech and a skyscraper headquarters. Tony pretty much summed it up in Avengers: Age of Ultron:
Maria Hill: All set up, boss.
Tony Stark: Actually, [Steve]'s the boss. I just pay for everything and design everything and... make everyone look cooler.
- This actually becomes a plot point in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, as it turns out Tony's benefactor status also extends to paying for the housing of those rooming at the Avengers Compound (Wanda Maximoff, Vision and Sam Wilson). And between Tony's death in Avengers: Endgame, and Sam getting blipped for five years at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, he's forced to work as a military contractor with an inconsistent paycheck and has to unsuccessfully attempt to take out a bank loan to shore up his family's struggling fishing business, and eventually has to take up Cap's mantle himself with a Wakandan supplied vibranium suit.
- Reuben in Ocean's Eleven. All he does is provide the initial investment and snark. In Ocean's Twelve he's the only one of the crew that can afford to repay Terry Benedict with interest, and he offers to cover Saul's repayment too. He tags along for the main plot anyway to keep an eye on his friends.
- Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network. He's the team member who repeatedly steps in with the cheque book before the money starts rolling in.
- Villainous example: the Neimoidian race from Star Wars is cowardly and lacks military expertise, but their participation in the Separatist Confederacy provides it with resources, since they control the Trade Federation. In the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, the Neimoidian viceroy Nute Gunray tries to call General Grievous out, pointing that all of Grievous's success is funded by Neimoidian money. Grievous is not impressed.
- Squire Trelawny finances the entire expedition in Treasure Island.
- Gandalf has shades of this in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but his sheer power and habit of disappearing to deal with his own business pushes him closer to Big Good status.
- Toad from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows starts out as this. He provides the caravan for their trip but doesn't really give much else to the team apart from that and his dangerous, endless desire for adventure. He becomes pretty resourceful past the halfway mark of the novel, though.
- The protagonist (a journalist) of The Lost World is essentially on the trip to authenticate everything they find (since the professor has been ridiculed for years for his theories).
- In Dracula Lord Arthur Godalming aids in funding the hunt for Dracula by providing transportation, lodging, and the like. While Abraham van Helsing helps with his knowledge of vampire lore.
- In the Ciaphas Cain novel "Caves of Ice", Cain has to put up with an annoying tech priest. Initially because he has some knowledge of what might be down there (thanks to his interest in xenobiology) and after that because he has an auspex which is needed to see where the ambulls and orks they're hunting are.
- In Outlander Leander, Ellora uses her connections in black market circles to find information for Leander, even though they barely get along. She gets money and he gets adventure (along with "his half" of the money, though he doubts she truly gives him half).
- Maggie plays this role in the Newsflesh series, providing safe places to stay, money, vehicles, and other resources.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Frank Reynolds, a wealthy retiree who lives in squalor and refuses to spend his money on anything but the Paddy's gang's zany schemes they involve themselves with week after week.
- In Prison Break one character invokes this trope to keep himself useful by memorising and destroying a map the rest of the cast are following.
- In season two of Nikita, Birkhoff provides the money, the home base, and is the team's invaluable Techno Wizard.
- A BBC adaptation of The Lost World had the protagonist secure his place on the trip by having his employers help fund it.
- Smallville: Oliver provides the money that keeps his team stocked with whatever they need, and rebuild the Watchtower when it, its windows, or the various technology in it is inevitably damaged every other week. In Season Ten with Tess Mercer's Heel–Face Turn, the team gains the financial backing of LuthorCorp as well.
- Transatlantic (2023): In the first episode, Mary Jayne's wealth bankrolls the Emergency Rescue Committee, covering lodging, transport, and bail for any would-be refugees. Then her dad cuts her off...
Mary Jayne: Okay! All right, well, that is settled, then. Varian, you remain the face of the operation. Lisa, you are the muscle. Albert's definitely the criminal.
Albert: Okay, then what are you?
Mary Jayne: Oh, I'm just the bank.
- The Spider playbook from Blades in the Dark is The Chessmaster whose strong suits are more focused on the downtime activities than on immediate tactical challenges during Scores. The "Connections" special ability in particular lets them procure any asset the crew needs more quickly and for less coin than anyone else, while "Weaving the Web" grants them access to additional intel for planning future scores.
- The most broken class there is in Bleak World; a human with 10 points in Funding will be able to buy the most expensive weapon in the game 10 times over. Too bad there isn't much else to buy.
- In Mass Effect 2, Miranda sort of fits this, being your liaison with The Illusive Man, who technically owns the Normandy SR-2 and supplies you with funds, equipment, and intelligence. The Illusive Man would be this directly but he never joins the squad.
- In the metagame of World of Warcraft, healers were like this (they were hard to level up so there weren't many about, but they were needed to survive in most of the endgame instances). This lead to the stereotype of a Jerkass who played a priest so other players would have no choice but to put up with them.
- In Dragon Age II, Varric uses his wide network of connections to find jobs for Hawke, keep the Coterie off Anders' back, forge papers proving Fenris owns his ex-master's manor, and keep Merrill out of trouble with the City Guard.
- In Final Fantasy VI, King Edgar of Figaro provides much of the resources for the Player Party. He is also the resident Gadgeteer Genius. Also, Setzer is the owner of the only non-Imperial airship(s) in the world.
- Final Fantasy XIV: Alphinaud Leveillieur comes from a wealthy family in Sharlayan, and is not afraid to use his family's money and influence to achieve otherwise-difficult ends. Endwalker takes it a step further and reveals that Alphinaud and Alisaie's mother, Ameliance, has been funding the Scions "ere [they] even had coffers to fill".
- In the Broken Sword series, George serves as this at least once (being a patent lawyer, while his fellow investigator Nico is a pennyless journalist) in order to explain how they manage to travel to the various places around the world.
- In DRAMAtical Murder, this is Mink's role — he is the main reason why Aoba and the rest of the main cast can even begin to look for Tae and Morphine near the end of the Common Route. He can be "upgraded" into one of Aoba's love interests if the player pursues his... very polemic route.
- Fire Emblem:
- King Hayden from Frelia in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is this to Princess Eirika when the game starts, giving her war funds and allowing some of his vassals to join her after Renais is invaded and this kicks off war across Magvel. Later in the game, Pontifex Mansel of Rausten fulfills the same role by giving them more funds and the Sacred Relics from Rausten, the Saint Staff Latona and the Ivaldi Light tome.
- Lilith from Fire Emblem Fates is definitely this no matter what route is taken, as she allows the Avatar and his/her group to use the Pocket Dimension in her Crystal Ball as their headquarters.
- In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, Thomas Briscoe, the wealthiest merchant on Bounty Island, funds the expedition Morgane leads after the Golden Turtle. He accompanies the ship, and sometimes tries to accompany Morgane himself (although tends to get a very short way before saying he'll "just stay here for a while" - which Morgane generally thinks would be best anyway).
- While it's most likely Gameplay and Story Segregation, in Xenoblade Chronicles X, all of the party members' equipment comes out of Rook's pocket.
- In Super Robot Wars X, Might Senpuuji has his V perks intact, continuing his President skill usage of earning free Tac points just by deploying him. Along with his entire district surrounding his Senpuuji Railroad Aoidou Division plant transported to the world of Al-Warth, his plant serves as the oasis for unit repairs and upgrades, along with some sanity for pilots who were homesick for some contemporary stuff. Might lampshades his gratitude with this outcome, otherwise it’ll be hard for his employees to survive in the primitive world such as Al-Warth.
- Overwatch has a villainous example with Maximilien, a wealthy Omnic in charge of Talon's finances with connections across the world, who in spite of his total lack of combat ability is powerful enough to be among the organization's leaders.
- Shovel Knight: The gold-obsessed pirate Treasure Knight serves as the Order of No Quarter's financier, using his vast wealth to support the Order and pay their minions.
- Idol Manager:
- In story mode, Fujimoto provides the initial investment and zero-interest loans. He also makes use of his connections to offer the group some opportunities and publicity once in a while.
- One of the possible temporary solutions to running in the red in story mode is to accept a large infusion of cash from a friend of Fujimoto's whose daughter wants to be an idol. If the offer is accepted, the player will need to have the daughter be the lead singer in three singles and a concert before the year is up. On top of this, the offer is void if the daughter quits under any conditions other than her own accord. The daughter has the looks, but dismal singing and dancing talent. She also has a trait that is literally called "Spoiled" that both makes her stamina (needed both to train her and actually put her to work) drain faster and makes her recover it more slowly, with overworking her being one of the possible means of losing her father's money.
- In early installments of Noob, members of the titular guild consider themselves stuck with their incompetent healer due to the alternative being having no healer at all; there is a shortage of low-level healers and they are the last people anyone both available and competent would want to join. They eventually get a second one, but she's not that much more competent and the idea of getting rid of either healer gets dropped at some point.
- StarHammer: Kate, aka Multiply, uses her duplication ability to replicate money. As such, she is the main financial backer of the Trust Fund Babies.
Kate: "They need me to keep the lights on."
- Archer: During Season 12, Lana's billionaire husband Robert single-handedly bankrolls the entirety of the Agency's activities.
- Batman in Justice League built the Watchtower in Earth's orbit and funds them with his money. He combines this trope with the roles of The Lancer and The Smart Guy.
- While by no means useless in other regards, Asami provides Team Avatar with airships, cars, boats or whatever else they may need throughout The Legend of Korra.
- In Young Justice: Outsiders, Beast Boy plays double duty as both The Leader and benefactor of the Outsiders, with his salary as the lead of Space Trek 3016 paying for their headquarters, The Hub. It's also a case of poetic justice, as Garfield's boss is Gretchen Goode, known by the heroes to be involved in Metahuman Trafficking. This means the money she pays Garfield is being used to undermine her and her allies in the Light.