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Token Flyer

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"I'm so glad someone on our team can fly!"
Red Alert, Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, "Earthrise: Episode 1"
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When coming up with an ensemble, it can be very useful to to give them different areas of specialty. You have your strong man, your speedster, your Badass Normal, your psychic, etc. And then you have your Token Flyer.

The Token Flyer may or may not have flight as their sole super power but they are the only member of the team capable of flying unaided. Depending on how well this is executed, they can be shown as having advantages over their team mates, such as superior mobility, being able to see further by flying high or having a better way to escape. Expect this character to be very useful for situations which flight is vital.

The Token Flyer trope applies in one of three ways:

  • They are the only person in the cast who can fly, either due to innate superpowers or possessing external means that grant them flight.
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  • While other members of the cast can get airborne, the Token Flyer is the only one with the innate ability to fly. For example, one or more cast members can fly via Jet Packs while the Token Flyer is the only one who has flight as a power or one of their powers.
  • The other flyer on the team might have limited or Not Quite Flight.

Issues can spring up if the group membership changes — if all Alice can do is fly, then Bob the Flying Brick joining can make Alice look redundant. Writers generally get around this by upgrading Alice in other areas to justify her staying on the team.

Flight can be a pretty awesome power to depict visually, especially in a fight. This can make the Token Flyer seem special. In some settings, the power of flight can be depicted as rare or unique.

In a show with a Funny Animal cast, the token flyer character will probably be a bird, bat, or flying insect, while a cast of prehistoric animals might use a pterosaur instead.

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Contrast with I Believe I Can Fly where the power of flight is quite common. Not to be confused with those little one-page pamphlets.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • DinoZaurs: Dino Ptera is the only flier among the main Dino Knights. This also applies to Drago Dactyl, Ptera's counterpart among the Drago Clones.
  • Pokémon: The Series does this for 7 of their 8 main seasons so far, giving Ash specifically one Flying Mon to scout out Team Rocket when they make off with Pokemon.
  • X-Men: Storm's Weather Manipulation powers make her the only able to fly in a team composed of herself, Cyclops, Wolverine, Armor, Beast and Emma Frost.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Crow's Duel Runner has a flight mode unlike the others.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Checkmate: Fire is this for the Black Side while Vertigo is this for the White Side.
    • Doom Patrol: Of the original three members, Negative Man was the only member who could fly.
    • Teen Titans: The original four Titans consisted of Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Wonder Girl. Wonder Girl was the only one with the power of innate flight.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Avengers: The original line-up provided an interesting take on this trope. Technically, all the members weren't limited to staying on the ground. Iron Man and the Wasp could fly, Ant-Man could get around by riding on winged ants, Thor could throw his hammer and hang on to the strap and be pulled along, and the Hulk could take giant leaps. Later, when the line-up was Captain America, Hercules, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, none of them could fly.
    • Fantastic Four: The Human Torch is the only member of the team who can fly. His sister, the Invisible Woman, is sometimes depicted as being able to travel short distances by riding on her force fields but doesn't do this as often.
    • Power Pack: Flying is the main power associated with the Velocity Powers, which Julie has most of the time. The 4 kids tend to switch powers however, so the role of the Token Flyer has been held by all four of them at least once.
    • Slingers: The team consists of Prodigy who possesses superhuman strength, Ricochet who is superhumanly agile, Dusk who possesses shadow powers and Hornet whose suit comes with a Jet Pack that grants him flight.
    • Spider-Man: The original incarnation of the Sinister Six consisted of Dr. Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Vulture, Mysterio and Sandman. Electro was the only one who could fly under his own power. Vulture needed his electromagnetic harness to fly.
    • X-Men:
      • The original five X-Men had Angel, whose only power was flight via his wings. Over time, more X-Men with flight (and other powers) were added to the group and Angel's powerset has needed to be expanded to avoid redundancy.
      • New Mutants: Cannonball was this for the team before Sunspot's powerset was upgraded to include flight.
      • Generation X: Monet St. Croix is the only one of the kids who can fly.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Predator Hawk is the only member of the Destructix who can fly. Despite what his name suggests, Flying Frog can only glide not fly.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Hay-Lin is the only one of the Guardians who can fly, using the power of air. The Guardians have wings that do nothing. This is averted in the animated series where the Guardians' wings do provide them with flight.

    Fan Works 
  • Defied in With This Ring. In Young Justice canon, Miss Martian was originally the only team member who could fly, but here, Paul makes copies of Rocket's kinetic belt for everyone. Rocket is taken aback to find out that everyone now has the same powerset as her, but Paul reassures her that she's still more experienced at using the belt and it's too useful to restrict to just one person.

    Films — Animation 
  • Antz: Colonel Cutter is the only ant shown in the movie with wings. He is The Dragon for most of the film but pulls a Heel–Face Turn towards the end.
  • Big Hero 6: Baymax is the only member of the titular team capable of flight when in his outfit.
  • The Land Before Time: Petrie is the flyer of the gang, being a pterosaur.
  • The Lion King: While he doesn't do much in the films, Zazu is the only bird character among the main cast of animals.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story: Elsa the Pteranodon is the only major character who can fly (not counting Vorb, who can fly thanks to the propeller on his suit).

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Animorphs: Due to being stuck in hawk morph, Tobias is the best of the team at flying, even if they can all turn into birds. Once he regains the ability to morph, he can finally join the team in missions again, but his default body remains a hawk.
  • The Railway Series has Harold the Helicopter, the only air vehicle amongst a cast of locomotives and road vehicles.
  • The Secrets of Droon: Julie gets the power of flight about halfway through the series, after becoming a wingwolf.note  This becomes less impressive when Neal becomes a genie, who can fly, time travel, and do pretty much any magic a wizard can do.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ace Lightning: Ace is the only one of the three Lightning Knights who can fly under his own power. Sparks has a flying bike and Random Virus doesn't have any flight abilities or vehicles.
  • The Boys (2019): Homelander is the only Supe in the setting with the power of flight note  . Stormfront can propel herself with her lightning powers and cannot freely levitate like Homelander can.
  • Charmed (1998): Phoebe Halliwell is the only one of her sisters to possess the ability to levitate and hence fly certain distances.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Kimberly's Pterodayctyl Zord was the only one of the Dinozords that could fly. This was subverted when the Rangers upgraded to the Thunderzords and Ninjazords which had one additional flyer in addition to Kimberly's consistent aerial-themed Zords.
    • Power Rangers Zeo: Tommy's Zord is based on The Phoenix and is the only one of the main Zords capable of flight.
    • Power Rangers Turbo: The Rangers have a number of vehicles in this season. One of them is Lightning Cruiser, a sentient car driven by TJ which can fly. It is the only vehicle in this season with flight capabilities.
    • Power Rangers in Space: All the Rangers have Galaxy Gliders but Andros is the only one who can fly without one thanks to his Battilizer.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Damon's Condor Galactabeast serves this function among the Rangers' main five Zords.
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: Joel was an aerial stuntman before becoming a Ranger. It is fitting that his Zord is the only aerial vehicle among the main five. Later, the Rangers are joined by Ryan whose Zord can take the form of an air-and-space vehicle.
    • Power Rangers Time Force: Eric's Super Mode grants him flight which none of the other Rangers have.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force:
      • Taylor's Eagle Zord is the only one of the main five Zords based on a flying animal. Max's Shark Zord is capable of flight as well but is really more of a creature of the sea than the sky. Taylor is also capable of flight in Ranger mode by deploying a set of wings under her arms. Cole does gain the ability to fly but only in his Super Mode.
      • The Eagle Zord also serves as the Token Flyer in the Zord system that makes up the Kongazord with the other Zords being a gorilla, a black bear, a polar bear and a bison.
      • Cole's Falcon Zord is the only avian creature among the five Zords that form the Isis Megazord.
      • Merrick's three Zords are the wolf, the alligator and the hammerhead shark. The hammerhead can swim and fly while the other two move on the ground.
    • Power Rangers S.P.D.: Sky's Delta Runner is a futuristic gyrocopter while the other four Rangers have ground-based Delta Runners.
    • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: Dax's Gyro Driver is a gyrocopter and the only one of the main Zords that flies.
    • Power Rangers Dino Charge: Sir Ivan's Pterodactylf Zord is the only flying Zord in Dino Charge.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Steel: Preston's Dragon Zord serves this role for the main Ranger Zords.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE:
    • Lewa of the Toa Mata and later Toa Nuva team has the Mask of Leviatation and Air elemental powers. His upgraded mask does share his power with others.
    • Matau of the Toa Metru (also a Toa of Air) could use his areo slicers as wings. In Legends of Metru Nui, he's overjoyed to find out that he can - SMACK! - wind...fly... As a Turaga, Matau can no longer do so, as his powers are considerably weaker and he has long since ditched his aero slicers for his Kau Kau Staff.
    • Nuparu as part of the Toa Inika group had the Mask of Flight, ironic for a Toa of Earth, instead of Kongu, Toa of Air.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers: Generation 1:
      • Swoop is the only member of the Dinobots that can fly since he is a Pteranodon while the others are land-based dinosaurs.
      • The Protectobots have Blades who transforms into a rescue helicopter. The other four Protectobots transform into land-based vehicles.
      • Divebomb transforms into a robotic eagle and is the only only one of the G1 Predacons with an aerial alt mode.
    • Beast Wars: Before Airazor and Silverbolt joined the team, Optimus Primal was the only Maximal who could fly. Ironically, his alt mode is a gorilla which is not a flying creature.
    • Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Ultra Magnus is the only Autobot in the series who can fly. This is even commented on by Scourge in his first fight with the Decepticons.
    • Transformers Armada: Jetfire is the only flight-capable Autobot in the series.
    • Transformers Film Series:
      • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The ex-Decepticon Jetfire is the only Autobot with an aerial alt mode. In the film's climax, he sacrifices himself so that Optimus Prime can use his parts to defeat The Fallen.
      • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: None of the Autobots have a flight-based alt mode but Optimus's truck can transform into a Jet Pack for him to use.
      • Transformers: Age of Extinction: Drift is the only Autobot with a flying alternate mode, although he only uses it twice in the film and it's never seen or mentioned again. Optimus does become capable of flight near the end of the film. Strafe is a straighter example, filling Swoop's role as the Dinobots' resident flyer.
    • Transformers: Animated:
      • Initially, none of the main five Autobots can fly but Optimus Prime and Prowl both get upgrades that allow them to fly. In the final episode, Prowl dies saving Detroit leaving Optimus as the only Autobot main character who can fly.
      • Jetfire and Jetstorm are the first Autobots in this setting to be granted the power of flight. They serve as the Token Flyers to the Elite Guard.
    • Transformers: Rescue Bots: Blades is the only member of the team to have a flying vehicle mode, in the form of a helicopter - though he only gained it after they arrived on Earth (and he turns out to be afraid of heights). While several new Autobots are introduced over the series, none of them can turn into flying vehicles, keeping Blades unique. In season 3, the team gain the ability to transform into dinobot forms, with Blades still being the only one whose new form (a pterodactyl) can fly.
    • Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy: Of the Rescue Bot trainees, Whirl is the only one lacking a ground-based vehicle mode. Like Blades, she becomes a helicopter.
    • Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Jetfire defects from the Decepticons and joins the Autobots as their singular aerial member. One Autobot in season 2 even expresses gratitude that at least one of them can fly.

    Video Games 
  • Bug Fables: Vi is the only member of Team Snakemouth who is capable of actual flightnote . She normally does it only in the cutscenes until Forsaken Lands, where Queen Elizant orders Vi to start carrying others around, allowing the team to fly over gaps.
  • Cut the Rope: Roto is the only Nommie who can fly.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us:
    • Lex Luthor is the only member of the Insurgency who can fly thanks to his Powered Armor. This stands in contrast to the Regime, most of whom have the innate ability to fly.
    • Wonder Woman is the only one among the five Leaguers originally brought in from the main universe with flight as an innate power. Green Lantern can fly but only because of his Ring of Power.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Among the five Champions, Revali (being a bird-like Rito) was the only one capable of unassisted flight, which became important during Ganon's invasion 100 years ago: the Champions had been accompanying Zelda to Mount Lanyaru when it began but were able to assess the situation quickly thanks to Revali's scouting from the air. Revali is also this to the Rito as a whole. Most Rito can only glide, but Revali can create updrafts wherever he is.
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom: The Dragon Form is the only one of Jin's forms that is able to fly. That it is also very powerful makes it quite a versatile form to take, offering excellent mobility and strong attacks.
  • Pikmin 3 introduces Winged Pikmin, a species of Pikmin that can fly as opposed to their land-based brethren. Although they are not as strong in combat as other species of Pikmin, excluding fighting airborne enemies, they are extremely useful for solving and most often bypassing puzzles throughout the game as they can carry objects in the air without having to worry about most obstacles and enemies.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Most games have one designated flying character for each trio in the post-Dreamcast era. The main trio, Team Sonic, has Tails as their designated flyer, with Knuckles mostly possessing the ability to glide instead. Team Dark has Rouge, Team Rose has Cream and Team Chaotix has Charmy.
    • Sonic Riders: The Babylon Rogues consist of Jet the Hawk, Wave the Swallow and Storm the Albatross. While all three are birds, Wave is the only one considered a flight-type due to her Extreme Gear possessing at least limited flight capabilities.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Sonic, Shadow and Silver are all capable of flight in Super Mode. However, Silver is the only one of the three hedgehogs who can fly in normal mode thanks to his telekinesis.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): The Sinister Six consists of Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Scorpion, Electro, Vulture and Mister Negative. Both Electro and Vulture can fly, however, Electro's powers of flight are an innate part of his powerset while Vulture relies on a Jet Pack.
  • Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six: The eponymous Sinister Six consists of Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Sandman, the Vulture, the Scorpion, and Kraven the Hunter. The Vulture serves as the Token Flyer.
  • Titanfall 2: A villainous version. The Apex Predators have one pilot of each (multiplayer) Titan class. One of those classes, the Northstar can normally only hover, but Viper has upgraded his to be able to soar through the skies, taking down entire ships with relative ease.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Cinder is the only member of Salem's team with the ability to fly beyond Salem herself. This helps make the Big Bad and The Heavy stand out from the rest of their group, which have more down-to-earth abilities. Magic gives people the ability to fly, so Cinder gains this ability at the end of Volume 3 when she steals the full power of the Fall Maiden. While certain characters can use their Semblance or weapons to propel them through the air, such as Ruby's Super Speed, Weiss summoning a Queen Lancer to ride or Nora sitting on her grenade launcher, none of them have an innate power of true flight like the Four Maidens possess. As magic-users, Salem and Ozma also have this ability, but Ozma gave up most of his magic to create the Four Maidens; while it's implied he can still fly when fighting Cinder as Ozpin, Oscar is new to Ozma's power and therefore doesn't use magic the same way.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Minilife TV, Snowball the vampire has the ability to transform into a bat, which he first does instinctively when he gets chased by an angry mob and he learns how to do it on command in "How I Got Your Laptops".

    Western Animation 
  • Animal Mechanicals: The main characters are robot animals that each have a different talent (the sasquatch has stretchy legs, the Komodo dragon is the techie, etc). The unicorn's talent is that she can fly.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Aang is the sole airbender in the cast, and as such the only one of the main characters (not counting Team Pet Appa) who is able to fly, either by using his glider-staff or by levitating through airbending. Unusually for this trope, he's also the main protagonist.
    • In The Legend of Korra Zaheer is the airbender of his team and ultimately gains the power of flight, making him this trope for them.
  • Ben 10: Stinkfly was Ben's primary flying alien during the original series; Heatblast and Ghostfreak could also fly, but the former was less flexible in the air (and unsuitable for transportation due to being a Magma Man) while the latter escaped from the Omnitrix. Stinkfly ends up getting Overshadowed by Awesome in the sequels as Ben unlocks faster and more powerful fliers.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: The protagonist team is composed of two chipmunks (Chip and Dale), two mice (Monterey Jack and Gadget), and one housefly (Zipper). Zipper is the only Ranger with innate flight, while the others require one of Gadgets's constructs to fly.
  • Dinosaucers: Teryx the Archaeopteryx and Terrible Dactyl the pterosaur are this for their respective teams the Dinosaucers and the Tyrannos.
  • Extreme Dinosaurs: Bullzeye is the only natural flyer among the four dinosaurs. The others can only go airborne via their flying vehicles.
  • Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs: Only one of Harry's dinosaurs, Pterence the Pteranodon, can fly.
  • Hero Elementary: Lucita Sky is the only member of Sparks Crew capable of unaided flight.
  • Kid Cosmic: Kid was the only member of the team that could use flight since it was the power his gem gave him . Though we find out later, that it's really telekinesis.
  • The Lion Guard: Ono the egret is this in the original season, being the only winged member of the team. In late season 2, the Guard is joined by an eagle named Anga who can fly higher than Ono.
  • Loonatics Unleashed: The team began as six ordinary residents of Acmetropolis before they received their superpowers from an energized meteor. Rev Runner was already a speedster doing food delivery; the phlebotinum increased his speed, and gave him the ability to fly. The other five superheroes require jet packs or vehicles to attain flight.
  • Monster Force: Shelly was the only member of the team whose Powered Armor allowed her to fly.
  • Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was this in the earlier days of the series. Though Fluttershy could fly, being a pegasus and all, she was a weak flier at best and was most comfortable on the ground with her animals. So much so that she's actually had to be rescued from falling by other flying characters in the series, and on one occasion received a pretty dirty glare from her rescuer. This pretty much left Rainbow Dash and her dreams of joining the Wonderbolts flight squadron to be their go-to pony any time they needed someone with a set of wings. Subverted as the series has gone on though, not only with Fluttershy gaining confidence and becoming a stronger flier but also with Twilight Sparkle and eventually Spike gaining the innate ability to fly as well.
  • Mummies Alive!: Each of the four eponymous Mummies has Powered Armor modeled after an animal. Ja-Kal's armor is modeled after a falcon and he is the only one of the Mummies who can fly when transformed.
  • PAW Patrol: Skye embodies this trope in two ways; her pup-pack functions a jetpack, a feature unique to her, and her vehicle is a helicopter whereas the other pups' vehicles are all wheeled. To show her position as the sole flying member, the symbol on her tag is a propeller and a pair of wings.
  • PJ Masks: Being owl-themed, Owlette has flight as her main power. She's the only one of the main characters who can fly directly without the aid of a vehicle or device. Newton Star can also fly without aid of a vehicle or device, but he is a supporting hero introduced in season 4, who shows up occasionally.
  • Spiderman The Animated Series: The Six Forgotten Warriors arc has Spider-Man teaming up with Captain America and five other superheroes who had each received a variation of the Super Soldier Serum. One of them was Miss America, who was the only one with the power to fly.
  • Teen Titans: Of the five members in this iteration, only Starfire and Raven had innate flight of the team. Beast Boy can fly too but only by turning into avian animals and wasn't much use for combat. Terra as well when she was briefly a member as she could fly using her Geokinesis.
  • Thomas & Friends: As with The Railway Series, Harold the Helicopter is the only series regular to fly. There were two planes (Tiger Moth and Jeremy), but they only appeared in a handful of episodes before vanishing.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Nova is the only one is Spider-Man's team who can fly.
  • Visionaries: Arzon and Cravex are the Token Flyers for the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords, being able to transform into an Eagle and a Phylot note  respectively. Most of the knights transform into land-based animals, though there are two who change into aquatic creatures, which means they are only capable of achieving flight in vehicles or if carried by a transformed Arzon or Cravex.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: Owl is the only main character who is an avian creature.
  • Young Justice: The original team consists of two Badass Normals, one half-Krytptonian who lacks the power of flight, a speedster, an Atlantean and a Martian whose powers include flight.

Alternative Title(s): Token Flier

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