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To Be a Master

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"I wanna be the very best,
Like no one ever was!
To catch them is my real test,
To train them is my cause!"

To Be a Master is the Series Goal behind about 70% of all shonen manga and anime. Sure, Mecha Show, Harem Show, Sentai and the odd detective story are all okay, but if you really want to strike a winning story formula for audiences, To Be A Master is the winning way to go. In fact, this is so prevalent that sometimes (especially outside of Japan) the demographic term "shonen" is used to refer specifically to this genre, due in part to the success of Naruto, One Piece and Pokémon.

The setup is deceptively simple: In a World… where everything else revolves around one thing — Card Games, pirates, ninjas, anything — a young lad or lass in some cases) in his/her teens (or younger), usually an Ideal Hero, will set out on a quest to, well, To Be a Master of whatever their world deems important, be it Monsters, Card Games, guardians, sweets, or even fashion...

The Myth Arc will invariably involve The Chosen One meeting one or more True Companions along their way and snobby Rivals, defeating goofy Villains and Worthy Opponents, and having a go at 'getting' the girl (or boy).

The only catch? They'll be lucky if they achieve this goal in the next fifteen years (although there are also cases where attaining mastery isn't that far off). To Be a Master is such a successful format that these weekly TV series sometimes tend to drag on for years (especially if it's really, really popular) in an effort to exploit as much as possible out of the show. We're all suckers for starry-eyed youths who fight to accomplish their dreams, so expect tons of characters and a strict Sorting Algorithm of Evil to keep feeding new 'challenges' to our hero week after week (year after year). Throw in the inevitable Tournament Arc and leveling powerups and we're ready to go!

Apart from sports manga, where the ultimate goal is to win some sort of trophy, the usual reward in 'To Be a Master' consists of a title, something along the lines of "The World-Theme King" or "The World-Theme Master," that is acknowledged by literally everyone in that world — and brings a set of privileges with it, hopefully the power to make your dreams come true. If there is a title, important plot points will be who held the title before and the fact that it can only be gained under special circumstances, such as being a designated candidate to take part in a worldwide tournament. Otherwise, the main character will likely just want to make their dreams come true, even if there isn't any kind of title.

Depending on the series' setting, the hero's opponents may not necessarily be evil, and are simply after the same prize that The Protagonist is... They may become a Designated Antagonist when they oppose the hero, but nothing prevents them from becoming friends and allies if either beats the other. Prominent rivals may even get A Day in the Limelight episodes that develop them 'beyond' simply the hero's latest opponent and may even be given a backStory proper.

The story may not even ''end'' when the hero becomes a Master. Becoming the best is one thing, staying the best in this world is another. Masters can face any number of challengers out to take their title for themselves, or even just up-and-comers who want to test their skills or build a reputation by taking them on. It is thus the core of many a Fighting Series.

Named after a Pokémon song used in the Pikachu's Jukebox segments of the dubbed versions of the Pokémon anime, called "2.B.A. Master". Also the name of the album that the English theme song itself was released on.

See also Gaming and Sports Anime & Manga, which often overlaps with this.


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    Anime & Manga 


  • Bartender is a subversion. The main character has already travelled the world and been apprenticed to the most famous and skilled masters of his craft in the world by the time the manga begins. When it begins, he has come to the conclusion that he has learned everything he can, and is ready to set out on his own.
  • Discussed in Daily Lives of High School Boys skit High School Boys and Manga. Hidenori noticed how common this trope is in manga and the fact that they are not.
  • Kingdom, which follows the story of Shin, a former servant boy striving to become the Greatest General Under Heaven. It's been 13 years, but he's getting there.
  • The dolls in Rozen Maiden all wish to become the new Alice, but there's only one way to do so.
  • Vagabond, which tells the tale of Miyamoto Musashi's journey to become Unrivaled Under Heaven. He quickly earns the title only to realize it means NOTHING.


  • In Attack No. 1, an early volleyball anime, the goal is naturally to win, but every girl on the team covets the No. 1 jersey, which is basically the title of MVP.
  • In Lady Jewelpet, every Petit Lady is aiming to be Top of Lady.
  • A Tournament Arc was introduced in Love Witch which would award any wish to the winner, even if it contradicted regular witch rules. Ai is all over this, and the story looks like it's heading in the direction of To Be A Master... but then the manga got canceled before she could even enter.
  • The one to bring the Revolution in Revolutionary Girl Utena. In this case, the "long running" and "unobtainable" parts are implicitly justified. Not only does Akio not intend anyone but himself to obtain the power, but his methods are horribly flawed (horrible and flawed separately) and he just keeps going at it every time the previous iteration of the duels fail.
  • The main character of Swan wants to be a star ballerina.
  • In Yumeiro Pâtissičre, Ichigo decides to go to St. Marie Academy so she can learn to be a pastry chef and recreate the strawberry tart her grandmother always used to make for her.


  • Pretty much every sports series out there will have victory in one or more Tournament Arcs as the goal:
    • Eyeshield 21 has the Christmas Bowl.
    • Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit in the West) features Ippo, a young man who desires to be first Japanese Featherweight Champion, and then World Featherweight Champion. He's been trying since the early 1990s.
  • Angelic Layer, even if it starts the main character out with unexpectedly showing off her talent at the game.
  • Asta, the protagonist of Black Clover, wants to become the Wizard King.
  • Even though technically a Manhua, Cyber Weapon Z is pretty much the quintessence of this, with the goal of the Southern Shaolin temple being to spark the new stage of humanity's evolution.
  • In a very twisted way, Death Note is exactly this: a young, idealistic protagonist wants to be God. In terms of being a 'Master', you don't get much higher than that.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba presents a subtle and striking subversion. The highest ranking within the Demon Slayer Corps is the Hashira rank, the elite nine amongst the hundreds of slayers; Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke start from the bottom within the 10 field ranks before Hashira, from midway through the series and beyond the boys express the desire of one day becoming Hashira: Tanjiro during the first visit at the Rengoku house, telling Senjuro he will succeed Kyojuro as a splendid Hashira; Zenitsu when meets his master Jigoro one last time in the afterlife; Inosuke playfully saying that killing Doma will grant him the Hashira promotion. However, they never become Hashira in the end, because their true objective was ending all the suffering demons caused, and they suceed at that by killing Muzan thus the Demon Slayer Corps disband right after. Becoming Hashira was just a title of strength. That's what Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke really wanted; they all became strong enough to succeed Kyojuro, impress Jigoro, and protect others. Tanjiro is outright said to be at Hashira level by the end, Zenitsu performed feats of strength only the Hashira have, and Inosuke was key in defeating the Upper Rank 2.
  • Dragon Ball: At the start of the early Dragon Ball, Goku wants to become the strongest fighter on Earth and fight powerful opponents. He achieves this goal when he's a teenager. In Dragon Ball Z after learning that he's an alien and is pitiful weak compared to the true monsters in the universe, he refocuses his goal to becoming the strongest in the universe. And then in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Super, he learns that there are beings in and outside of the universe who are much stronger than the strongest people he already knows, he is still aiming to become stronger than all of them.
  • Several of the duelists in Duel Masters want to become "Kaijudo"note  masters.
  • Fist of the North Star is sort of an Unbuilt Trope when it comes to this, in that the ultimate goal of the main antagonist Raoh is to be the best martial artist ever, and become powerful enough to conquer even the heavens. This leads to him becoming an evil, power-hungry tyrant. The Hero Kensihiro himself simply wander the Earth as the current inheritor of the Fist Of the North Star and protects the weak and defenseless. He has no desires other than passing on the technique as is his duty as the Inheritor. It's hinted at that Raoh's orphaned son will eventually become the next inheritor towards the end of the series.
  • For the racing anime, Future GPX Cyber Formula, Hayato Kazami wants to become the winner of the 10th Cyber Formula Grand Prix.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam, everyone's fighting to put their colony in control of the Earth by Gundam gladiatoral conflict.
    • Gundam Build Fighters is basically a typical Merchandise-Driven toy-series with this premise: The heroes Sei and Reiji want to become champions in a model battling tournament with a model Sei built and Reiji pilots.
    • The sequel, Gundam Build Fighters Try has three new heroes with three individual goals to become the best at their particular hobby, which translates into them teaming up for a Gunpla tournament:
      • Fumina wants to be a Gunpla Battle champion
      • Sekai wants to be a martial arts master.
      • Yuuma wants to be an award winning model builder.
  • Hikaru no Go actually averts this; Hikaru gets into the game of Go just for the fun of it, and just happens to be in the running for the best player of his generation (the fact that he wants to be a worthy opponent for the prodigy Akira also helps). Hikaru himself acknowledges that he is part of the eternal search for "Kami no Itte" (literally, "Hand of God", but often translated as "Divine Move"; both refer to playing a perfect game) but this goal is more spiritual than something that can actually be achieved.
  • In Hungry Heart: Wild Striker, Kyōsuke Kanou dreams of being a soccer player.
  • Subverted in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. Kenichi is training to be a master of.. well ALL the martial arts, but instead of training for the purpose of becoming a master, he trains in order to prevent people picking on him and to be able to protect his loved ones.
  • Millie in Lost Universe wants to be the best in the universe — at everything. She is allegedly already the best shot and best cook (Despite the fact that she somehow manages to destroy the kitchen every time she cooks). She has no particular reason for wanting to be the best other than to boost her already excessive ego. Fortunately, the anime is about Kain and Canal, not Millie.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, where the characters aim to be the Inter-Middle Champion and declared the strongest 10- to 19-year-old across all dimensions.
  • Mai Kazuki from Magical Emi, the Magic Star dreams of becoming a great magician.
  • In My Hero Academia, the goal of multiple characters is to become the Number One Hero of Japan. While this is treated in an admirable light in regards to Midoriya and Bakugo, it drove Endeavor to despicable lengths in hopes of bearing an heir who can surpass All Might.
  • The Hokage ("Fire Shadow", in other words, the head ninja of the main character's village) in Naruto.
    • The title character originally had this goal because he wanted respect and thought it would easily solve all his problems. Since the Invasion of Pain, Naruto has gained a slightly more realistic idea of the position and becoming Hokage has instead become simply one (probable) step towards his new goal: world peace.
    • Orochimaru became a villain prior to the start of the series because of his desire to learn all jutsu in the world. The problem is that certain jutsu are limited to members of specific bloodlines, making them impossible for him to learn under normal circumstances.
    • In Boruto and its movie, Boruto and Sarada each have different goals with regards to being Hokage. Whereas Sarada wants to follow in Naruto's footsteps and become Hokage, Boruto wants nothing to do with the position and instead wants to become greater than his father. Boruto later voices that he wants to become a powerful shinobi like his teacher Sasuke; one who protects from the shadows.
  • Negi in Negima! Magister Negi Magi wants to be a world-class mage like his father.
    • Notably averted by his grandson Touta in UQ Holder! (much to the shock of Yukihime), who points out that the only reason he wanted to get stronger was so he could get permission to leave his village.
  • One Piece, famously, has Luffy striving to become the Pirate King. More than that — about half of his True Companions have dreams running along similar lines, tailored to their own skillsets:
    • Zoro strives to become The World's Greatest Swordsman.
    • Nami dreams of charting a map of the entire world, in essence becoming the world's greatest cartographer.
    • Chopper strives to become a doctor that can cure anything.
    • Franky strives to build a ship that can survive every danger in the world.
      • Among the exceptions — Sanji and Robin are each seeking a specific MacGuffin (though finding them would almost undoubtedly shoot them to the top of their respective fields), Usopp wants to be "just" a Brave Warrior of the Sea, and Brook wants to reunite with a character introduced fairly early in the story.
  • O-Parts Hunter has an unusual one for the main character Jio Freed. He wants to gain Taking Over The World!
  • The title of "Pokémon Master" in Pokémon: The Series. In practice, Ash's usual goal throughout the anime is to be the champion of the current region's Pokémon League. Succeeding in this might cause Ash to consider himself a Master, which is why he'd never won even once in the entire series until Alola. The fact that "Pokémon Master" is a nebulous concept already doesn't really help, and even after becoming the Champion of Alola he claims it's only the first step. Even after officially becoming the strongest Trainer in the world at the end of Pokémon Journeys: The Series he refuses to claim the title even though nobody would argue if he did. It also serves as the Trope Namer thanks to the American song "2.B.A Master". In Pokémon The Series: Aim To Be A Pokémon Master he finally decides that being a Master means seeing the world and meeting all the Pokémon in it, with him deciding to continue Walking the Earth.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, this is the goal of at least one protagonist per generation, in some way or another (at least in the earlier generations; later ones feature heroes with goals besides Pokémon training). Those that specifically want to be Pokemon Masters are Red and Blue. Others that do the gym challenges and/or the Battle Frontiers are Sapphire, Emerald, Platinum, and Black — in fact, Black literally can't think of anything else; his mind is so one-track that he needs his Munna to eat away at his dreams when there's a more immediate problem. The ultimate Pokemon catcher would be Crystal, completing all the Pokedexes she is given minus the legendaries. The one who wants to be the best Coordinator is Ruby, who competes with Sapphire to see who can be a master first. Lastly, the concept is parodied with Diamond and Pearl, who are aspiring comedians and their goal is To Be A Master of the Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
  • Pokémon Origins:
    • Just like in the games, Blue's goal is to become the Pokémon Champion.
    • Red starts out only to complete the Pokédex, but eventually succeeds at becoming the Champion.
  • In Power Stone, Falcon wants to be the strongest fighter to emulate his hero Valgas. It turns out that was also Valgas's motivation, except he took it even further to Social Darwinism levels, wanting to wish for a world that was a constant fight for survival that only the toughest fighters could handle.
  • Being a deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs, Ramen Fighter Miki deconstructs this trope: None of our protagonists wants to be the best at their jobs, but all they want to be the biggest The Bully in the town.
  • Spoofed in Rune Soldier Louie: Louie is a magic-user who trains to be a consummate master...of hand-to-hand combat.
  • The King of Shamans in Shaman King. Yoh wants to become Shaman King so that he can lead a life of luxury and relaxation. His arranged fiance also wants the same things. Oddly enough, they work HARD (Though Anna frequently has to bully Yoh to do so) for the ability to lie around all day.
  • The main leads of Smile Down the Runway are, respectively, an aspiring Fashion Designer and a model. Both of them dream to be featured at the Paris runway, which is highly regarded as the most prestigious stage of the fashion world, and the apex of their respective career choices. Both have severe handicaps that prevents them from easily reaching their dreams (Ikuto lacks a Fashion Design degree, which is almost always a requirement to work in the industry, and is inexperienced in the High Fashion mode; Chiyuki stands at 158 cm, and is considered too short to be a successful model), but they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
  • The Bees in Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, are trying to become Head Bee, the most skilled of the Bees who often works in the capital(living in the capital in and of itself is a great privilege). Gauche Suede in particular wants to become Head Bee in order to get money to heal his younger sister Sylvette's legs. However, this is a subversion, as it ends up not being the main point of the story.
  • Many weapons of Soul Eater attempt to become a Death Scythe, the weapon used by the series' god of death.
    • Subverted as of Chapter 63 when Soul Eater finally eats a witch's soul and becomes a death scythe. This isn't the end of the story at all: attaining the rank actually leads to more responsibility and more challenges, rather leaving the impression that in the wider scheme of things not much has changed. A curious take on something that was presented as the series' goal, to see Soul appear to be one of many in the same position (there are, after all, Weapon students around the world).
    • Furthermore, in end of the manga it's declared that as part of the truce between the DWMA and the Witches, there won't be any more Death Scythes.
  • Yakitate!! Japan: All about being the very best at baking bread.
  • The King of Duels or King of Games in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Note that in the original series and in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, it wasn't the protagonist who sought the title of the best player as his primary goal (though they got it anyway, and pretty early on)note  . Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, however, follow the more traditional format with a hero whose explicit goal is to become the next King of Games/Duel Champion. Also averted in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, where Yuya's goal is to entertain others with his Action Dueling.
  • The King of Mamodos in Zatch Bell!.


  • Chihayafuru begins with Arata demonstrating his incredible love for and skill at karuta, the sport his grandfather was a master in. When Chihaya says that her dream is to see her model sister become famous, he insists that she should have a dream for herself, too, and tells her that since karuta isn't really played outside of Japan, if she can become the best female player in the country (the 'Queen'), she will by definition be the best in the world. This provides her inspiration to indeed try to become a master at karuta, though along the way she also gains other goals, most notably that of spreading the love of karuta to as many people as possible. Meanwhile Arata suffers a crisis during middle school when his father becomes very ill and ultimately dies, with Arata blaming himself for putting karuta above taking care of him. However, reuniting with Chihaya slowly brings his passion back as he too becomes determined to become a master.
    • Naturally, many other characters have similar aims, though the other main characters' goals aren't so simple. Taichi does want to become Master, but that's more due to his sense of rivalry with Arata and feelings for Chihaya than the sport itself. Nishida also aims high, but struggles with feelings of defeatism and sometimes feels like his desire to take easy wins over losing hard matches keeps him from getting as good as Chihaya. On the other hand, Kanade also wants to make Class A, but not to become Queen — she wants to become a top-level card reader, for which being Class A is a prerequisite.
    • And then there are the minor characters — Yumin initially wanted to be queen, but now tries hard in tournaments mainly because of the incredible pressure piled up on her by her society than anything else (though she acknowledges that she's kind of grateful as it's better than just giving up as she would have done otherwise), while Megumu similarly tries hard to prove right her friends for being so supportive, and admits in a team match that she doesn't actually care about becoming Queen, though after losing it's implied that that might be changing.

     Fan Works 
  • In Ask Not the Sparrow, Rainbow Dash's goal is to become the best doctor in Equestria.
  • Harry James-Potter-Evans-Verres of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality wants to become the most powerful wizard in existence and rewrite reality according to his will. And with both of the current contenders for the title being his mentors, he just might pull it off.
  • Extensively discussed in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Many trainers aspire to become Pokémon Masters, but each has different goals and definitions about the term. Some want to become League Champions or Elite Fours, others want to wind Grand Festivals, and others want to catch as many Pokémon as they can (often of a specific type, for those who want to be specialists). A retired trainer-turned-novelist named Casey Snagem even considers that a trainer who has eight badges could qualify as a master.
  • Played with in the title of To Be a (Miraculous) Master and averted with the two protagonists. Marinette has no real interest in attaining the title as the Best Pokémon Trainer or the new Kalos Champion because of her main passion of being a Pokémon Fashion Designer. The only reason she entered the Kalos League in the first place was because it allows to keep interacting more with her crush, Adrien. Her friends do point out that Marinette's idol is both the current Kalos Champion and a famous Pokémon Fashion Designer. Adrien, in the meantime, genuinely enjoys Pokémon battles, he actually has no interest in becoming the next Champion, but is training for the best because the public expect him to as the Champion's son and out of his father's wishes.
  • In Tokimeki PokéLive! and TwinBee, Hilbert Blair aspires to be this in terms of Pokémon and Hilda White is this in regards to the Battle Subway back in Unova before she ended up in Shizuku's World while the teen characters (As well as Yoko Catherine Osaka White, Elesis "Ellie" Kashiwagi Kousaka and Margo) aspire to be this in terms of School Idols and Shizuku Osaka wishes to be this as a professional Theatre actress someday.
  • Averted with Carla in The Spectre Trilogy. She’s not remotely interested in becoming the Champion, and the only reason she’s collecting Gym badges is so she can get the prize money that comes with them.
    • Played straight with Dave Ronan, however.

  • The Big Year is essentially this mentality applied to birdwatching, of all things, with three birders competing to see the most different species of birds in a single year.
  • This is the driving motivation for Eddie Felson throughout The Hustler (1961) — it's not enough that he's already a great pool player, he must defeat Minnesota Fats and have Fats acknowledge him as the best.
  • Star Wars:
    • Much of Luke Skywalker's character arc in the films can be summed up as "Luke trains to become a Jedi Knight like his father." Much of the rest of his character arc centers around learning about his father. While he starts training early in A New Hope, he doesn't officially become a Jedi Knight until the end of Return of the Jedi, just before confronting the Big Bad.
    • This character arc is mirrored somewhat by Anakin Skywalker's arc in the prequel trilogy. He leaves his homeworld to train to be a Jedi in The Phantom Menace, and by the end of Revenge of the Sith, he has become a Dark Lord of the Sith.
    • And Ben Solo, aka Kylo Ren, continues the tradition as his goal is to surpass Darth Vader, his grandfather as a master of the Dark Side of the Force, making his journey a dark counterpart to Luke's.
  • The eponymous aerial combat training school in Top Gun exists to take already exceptional naval aviators and turn them into masters at the art of dogfighting. Winners of the dogfighting trophy of the school return as aerial combat instructors. Maverick goes there simply to become the very best. At the end of the movie, he does return as an instructor.

  • Cradle Series: The entire purpose of Sacred Arts is the never-ending push for the top.
  • Light And Dark The Awakening Of The Mageknight: No, it's not The Protagonist but Alsono who wants to become the greatest knight and claim the title of "King of the Light".
  • The Spirit Thief: Josef wants to become the best swordsman in the world, as he believes that this is the only way he'll ever be worthy of wielding the Heart of War, world's most powerful sword. At the end of the second book the blade gets fed up with this and tells him to just pick it up and use it already, as he's wasting a valuable resource.
  • In The 13 ˝ Lives of Captain Bluebear, there is competition between liar-gladiators who compete in big arena in storytelling of made-up stories. The hero quickly becomes the champion and after some time on top is asked by competition owner to lose against next challenger because of a bet. The challenger just happens to be legendary champion considered to be best in history of the sport. The hero is prepared to be defeated and consider it to be an honor but after being insulted from the champion decides to best him out of anger. The hero manages to defeat the challenger,which of course angers the owner of the competition.

    Live Action TV 
  • Hardball follows the quest of young Mikey Mahaki, and his two misfit friends/trainers, on a quest to become the world's (or, at least Western Sydney's) greatest handball player.
  • The Queen's Gambit: The show follows Beth Harmon's attempt to become the World Champion of chess and the hiccups along the way.

  • The aesop of the song "Hall of Fame" by The Script is to live your life as if this trope is in full effect, for whatever path you choose to follow.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Looking beyond personal rivalries and angles, this is the ultimate goal of most pro wrestlers, claiming the top spot as the world champion (or maybe world tag team/parejas champions or tercias champions, etc). Which title that IS, is another issue entirely as there hasn't been a unified world title since the 60's, with the most prestigious non tag team titles of the new millennium being owned by WWE (The WWE World Heavyweight Title), NJPW (International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight/Junior Heavyweight Title or Intercontinental Title), AJPW (The Unified Triple Crown Championship), CMLL (World Welter Weight Title, which reigns above heavyweight thanks to El Santo and or the Universal Championship, which is a tournament but close enough since it includes champions of all weight classes with the winner getting an honorary belt), AAA (Mega Champion's Belt) and ROH (ROH World Title).
  • The underlying goal of almost every wrestler ever. As Triple H once put it, "If you're not here to be champion, you're in the wrong place." That said, there are more than a few wrestlers who don't seem to be in the right place, by Trips' standards, such as the rest of Evolution, whose ambition appalled him or The Shield, who in his mind existed to protect his preferred champion.

  • This is the goal of countless Real Life athletes who dream of winning the gold medal, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the green jacket, the Stanley Cup, or whichever other award is given for their sport. You don't have to be a pro to do this either, since many high schools and colleges will pursue their own championships just as rabidly as any big league athlete, if not more so.
  • Basically the whole motivation behind professional fighting sports. To be a champion is the ultimate symbol of ability. With the belt comes the money and fame that gives even more incentive to be the champ.

    Video Games 
  • The goal of Ace Fishing and its numerous imitators is for the player to become a fishing master.
  • Like your typical Stock Shōnen Hero, Springman from ARMS wants to be the very best, like no one ever was.
  • Choro Q HG 4, you and your rival work the ways to become the best racers.
  • Laharl's quest to become an Overlord in the first half of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.
  • Disney's Hades Challenge has the player's goal to become a great hero or heroine, just like Hercules.
  • The unstated goal of Elite is to achieve the eponymous "Elite" rating. As the game is one of the first ever examples of a Wide-Open Sandbox, nothing particularly compels you to spend the relevant time Level Grinding to achieve this, but legitimately doing so earns some bragging rights.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, all of the characters aspire to become successful and wonderful idols. Naturally, this is a rather vaguer goal than most on this page — the Main Story positions the SS as the ultimate idol competition where only the greatest can win, but it's not treated as the only path to success. Nevertheless, the drive to become better is important to a number of different storylines. For example, Akatsuki was initially founded solely to benefit fine — and in fact, Keito only joined Yumenosaki in order to aid his childhood friend Eichi, the leader of fine. However, when Souma joined Akatsuki, his earnest and pure belief in being an idol slowly transformed the unit, and ultimately they became a truly powerful unit, and one that would not back down against anyone.
  • Fossil Fighters toys with this. You are trying To Be A Master — and you become one! In fact, you become one only about halfway through the game. However, as it turns out, there is still a lot more going on despite your mastery, and you will have to actually use your master's skills.
  • The protagonist in Golf Story wants to be the world's best golfer.
  • In Growlanser 2, Wein's goal is to become an Imperial Knight. Whether he accomplishes this depends on what branches of the story you take. And even if he gets the title, the plot has long since moved on to more important matters, like the fate of the world.
  • Homeworld 2 has an ancient prophecy about the three Great Hyperspace Cores awakening Sajuuk, the god of destiny and creation (actually, a big-ass ancient starship hidden in a black hole cluster). Supposedly, the one who unites the Three will get to be the Sajuuk-khar, Manipulator of the Great Maker. When Karan Sjet first hears about it while running from the Vaygr, she deduces that Makaan must also know about it and seek to acquire both the Bentusi and the Hiigaran core. Naturally, the world is doomed if he succeeds so she decides to beat him to it. The thing is, by doing that she accidentally fulfilled the prophecy herself and became the Sajuuk-khar — which proved really useful when Hiigara was attacked by Planet Killers whose armor was impenetrable to every weapon except Sajuuk's Wave-Motion Gun. With the ship also activating an ancient hypergate network spanning the galaxy and having the most powerful weapons and hyperdrives of the known universe, she was practically worshiped as a living goddess (her people never became atheists during their troubled history).
  • The Kid goes on quite possibly the most insane To Be A Master quest of all time for one reason: "I Wanna Be the Guy!"
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Played with due to Nomura still working out the plot at the time and what "Master" actually means not being defined at first. At first, Sora looks to be the chosen Keyblade master — then it turns out it should have been Riku, but he went Rival Turned Evil. Then Kingdom Hearts II shows they can both wield Keyblades, and so can Kairi. Later games show there's a difference between being a Keyblade user and a Keyblade master, the latter being more of a formally-recognized title.
    • This is blatantly done in the prequel Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep as Aqua, Terra, and Ven all share a dream to become Keyblade Masters. The story starts with Terra and Aqua taking the "Mark of Mastery" exam (before they even go on any world-saving adventures). Aqua passes, while Terra doesn't, and from then on his main goal is to redeem himself by finding Master Xehanort. What he doesn't know is that Xehanort sabotaged him in the first place.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through a more elaborate Mark of Mastery exam. As they're largely self-taught, he considers them unprepared to face the return of Master Xehanort (even though they've saved the universe twice). After Xehanort turns it into a life-or-death struggle, Riku is given official Master status while Sora isn't.
  • The Maiden of Light in La Pucelle Tactics.
    • This is subverted rather nastily as it turns out that, despite what Prier thinks, "Maiden of Light" is the Chosen One instead of a title to be earned. And the only "perk" is that you have to end up making a Heroic Sacrifice.
      • Probably explains her later career shift to Overlord. Quite possible as polar opposite a job as you can get without becoming the Dark Prince.
  • The protagonist of Live A Live's modern chapter, Masaru, aims to be the world's greatest martial artist, and spends his chapter fighting the world's best martial artists for that title.
  • In Moco Moco Friends, Moco has lofty dreams of being the Charisma Master, the most powerful Plushkin master in the world.
  • Travis Touchdown's quest in No More Heroes is to be the greatest assassin. Of course, the whole thing is quite thoroughly deconstructed. For starters, Travis is a deluded Otaku Blood Knight who may qualify as a Villain Protagonist, and the entire thing is a con set up by Sylvia.
  • Blatantly done in the Pokémon games. Sure, you prevented the destruction of the entire world. But you haven't beaten the game until you've become the League Champion.
    • And won the Master Rank Super Contest in all five categories. And Caught Em All.
    • Even then no one recognizes your achievement, and the last champion still has to fight you. Though this is averted in Red/Blue and their remakes (FireRed and LeafGreen), where you are proven to be the Champion, but you still fight your rival.
      • The Championship uses a nonlethal form of Klingon Promotion. You become Champion by defeating the incumbent champion (your rival in Red/Blue and its remakes (and Green and Yellow), Lance in Gold/Silver and its remakes, Steven in Ruby/Sapphire, Wallace in Emerald, Cynthia in Diamond/Pearl and Platinum, and Alder in Black/White). The Elite Four just test if you're qualified to fight the Champion at all (or in pure gameplay terms they serve to sap your Pokemon's strength and make the final battle harder). Even after the Elite Four you're still a challenger until you knock off the current Champion. And even after you beat the Champion, most people act like you didn't.
    • Averted in Sun and Moon, as you are canonically the first person to challenge Alola's Pokemon League, and become its first ever champion (though you still need to battle Kukui after defeating the Elite Four). From that point on, NPCs in the world will refer to you as the Champion. Challenging the Pokemon League subsequent times will result in you having to defend your title from other challengers, including major story NPCs and trainers that only appear in this context.
    • Pokémon Black and White double subverts the champion part. Instead of having you fight the champion for the main story, the leader of the villain team actually beats the previous Champ, raises a giant castle near the Elite Four area, and thus proceeds to a Boss Rush for the main ending, with you first fighting the version legendary that you can catch, then fighting N, who uses a team of the other version legend and 5 other set Pokemon, and finally fighting Ghetsis, who turns out to be the real villain. Still, the post story also lets you rematch the Elite Four, who then have you fight the actual Champion (this is the double subversion part), along with (outside of the Unova Pokemon league overall) Cynthia and Shigeki Morimoto.
    • Deconstructed by your rival Cheren from the same games. Over the course of the game he slowly learns that being the best for purely the sake of it is completely pointless. Later Reconstruction when he seeks out a reason to be the best and, two years later, becomes a gym leader.
  • This is the basic goal of the Punch-Out!! games. The new Wii game takes it to the next level-after Little Mac wins the championships, he's then forced to defend his newly won titles against disgruntled opponents looking for a rematch. They've uped their game, so he has to prove he deserves the title. After that, he realizes there's nowhere to go but down, and goes out with a bang.
  • In Rastan, Rastan narrates at the end of the arcade version: "This is only part of my long story — only a part to become a king."
  • As a Blood Knight, this is Ryu's goal in the Street Fighter series. Others have more pragmatic goals, like revenge, money, fame, conquest, finding someone to kill them...
  • Summon Night: Swordcraft Story — The first Swordcraft Story game's overall focus is mostly about becoming a "Craftlord", which is basically a "Master" of weapon crafting/fighting. There's still a plot and antagonist, but the game doesn't end until you become Champion. The game's two successors still retain this trope to some degree, but it's downplayed quite a bit compared to the first.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum, Yugi wants to become King of Capsule Monsters, and nobody will stand in his way.
  • When not saving the world in Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour, you're trying to become the next King of Games.

    Web Original 
  • Omega Zell from Noob may be in his twenties, but he still qualifies as everyone in the work is playing the same fictional MMORPG and he wants to become its top player.
  • In Twisted Cogs, main character Elena wants to be the greatest artist in renaissance Italy.

    Western Animation