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Underrated and Overleveled

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This trope is a form of Gameplay and Story Segregation in which a character is more powerful in actual combat than is justified within the story. A character is 'underrated' any time he would reasonably be expected to be weaker than his allies according to plot, whether this is due to lack of training, being too young/old for combat, using outdated/weaker weaponry, other characters commenting on this character being weaker and/or less skilled, or any other reason that would leave the audience questioning the character's strength.

A character is not 'underrated' if the plot draws attention to, or provides justification for, the fact that this character is able to keep up with allies that would otherwise appear to be more powerful than he is. This trope also does not apply to a character who starts out as weak in combat as one would expect from someone with no training and poor equipment, and grows strong enough to take on more powerful foes only after appropriate level grinding.

This is most common in Role-Playing Games due to the tendency to start new characters at the same level as the rest of the party to avoid situations where the new character Can't Catch Up. Sometimes, this will be all that stands between a useful Guest-Star Party Member and a laborious Escort Mission. Thus, any character who is introduced late enough in the game is likely to fall prey to this trope. When your main character is introduced as as a powerful warrior at level 5 near the beginning of the game and proceeds to grow stronger through half of a game, he's going to be so powerful that it's difficult to justify any character being on-par with him unless they have a truly badass Backstory.

Contrast Overrated and Underleveled. See also Improbable Power Discrepancy.


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     Eastern RPGs  

  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV features Palom and Porom, a pair of Half-Identical Twins with formidable Wonder Twin Powers that allow them to wipe out regular encounters. They provide Cecil with some much needed support when he's separated from his main party, despite being only five years old. They're at least presented as magical prodigies, but their ability to take nearly as much damage as an armored, experienced knight captain with the power of darkness is unusual to say the least.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • The main characters battle an entire empire and win; they even have the empire soldiers comment on how powerful they are while negotiating peace terms. Not long after this the main characters meet Strago and Relm. Strago at least is justified as being pretty badass in his youth, but Relm is an 8 year old painter who somehow manages to make a strong party member. This is partially justified for both of them, as they are both mage characters whose gift with magic is justified by their being descendents of warriors infused with magical power during the war of the magi. This, however, doesn't explain why Relm manages to be only a little weaker with her morning star than someone who was one of the world's top generals before she started to Level Grind (Celes being a Magic Knight character herself).
      • While not as severe a case as the two listed above, Setzer may also apply. Setzer is a gambler. That's all there is to him. He gambles a lot and is good with airships. He joins the party right as the main characters are about to attack a major facility in the Empire's capital city, and proves competent with a sword (or throwing cards).
    • Final Fantasy VII: When you meet Cid Highwind your team consists of a BFS-wielding Super-Soldier, a Big Guy rebel leader with a gatling gun for an arm, a Supernatural Martial Artist, the Last of Her Kind survivor of Magic-using Precursors, a Talking Panther-Wolf, an Ambiguous Robot Cat and, if you've picked up the Optional Party Members, a Highly-Visible Ninja and a gunslinging shapeshifter. Cid Highwind on the other hand? He is a pilot with aspirations of becoming an astronaut. Somehow this also makes him the Dragon Knight of the game and just as good at kicking butt as any of the others.
    • Final Fantasy IX does this with Eiko. While most of the strength of each character makes sense, Eiko is the second to last character received and the strongest healer in game... and is a little girl with no training. Her talent with Summoning is explained as her being the last of an ancient summoner tribe, but her power with healing isn't really explained at all. Though, considering that both of the summoners in the game are also healers one might presume that summoning and healing are both part of the same tradition. This still doesn't fully excuse a 6 year old with no combat experience being crushed by a giant multiple times in the first battle she ever fights and surviving.
    • Final Fantasy X contribution to the list would be Tidus. The main team includes 3 experienced guardians, two of which managed to fight all the way to the Calm Lands, one completing his pilgrimage entirely, a member of the Proud Warrior Race who has been presumably training to be a guardian for years, and a White Magician Girl who can summon a flying monster at will. Tidus is a blitzball player with presumably no combat training at all. Of course they all start out at effectively the same level.
      • Though the lines get blurred here because statistically all of the experienced guardians are Overrated And Under Leveled, since none of them are nearly as powerful as they would have to be to have survived monsters in the Calm Lands that they would have theoretically fought in their last Pilgrimages. It's possible that everyone is just weak in theory. Though early on if you take out an Optional Boss two trained crusaders comment on your power in a way that implies that Tidus must have been at least somewhat competent despite his apparent lack of training.
    • Continuing the trend, Final Fantasy XII has the Kid Sidekicks Vaan and Penelo. while in-story they're barely more than street urchins, gameplay-wise Vaan has strength only beaten by Basch's and the strongest magical abilities of all male characters, and Penelo is a spellcaster on the same (quite high) level as Ashe, leaving the mystical elf-like Fran in the dust. And that's not even considering the ridiculously over-the-top quickenings.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has this as well. There is absolutely no explanation as to how Hope can be a better mage than Vanille, especially when Hope is a random kid with a boomerang, while Vanille has years of experience and, before she was turned into crystal, was one of the most dangerous people in the War of Transgression. This is after being granted magic from a god-like being. Before Hope gains his magic.
      • Perhaps being a crystal for a millennium harms one's strength, or even resets it back to baseline? Or when a person becomes a l'cie, the transformation enhances whatever skills you have to make you as powerful a warrior as possible. And since Hope had no real physical prowess it all went into magic.
  • A big part of Leia's character arc in Tales of Xillia involves her constantly seeing herself as The Load of the team. Those who use her in combat will be baffled by this, since she's always a useful party member right from the start, being good at both physical attacking and healing. She also has some of the strongest Link Artes in the game.
  • Valkyrie Profile averts this in Hard Mode, where every einherjar starts at level 1, but plays it very straight in Normal and Easy modes. Arngrim is a One-Man Army Guts Expy, who starts at level 1 because he's the first character you recruit. Other characters who should be significantly less powerful, like Lawfer (who regarded Arngrim as an unmatched genius whom his own skills could never approach,) Kashell (a fellow mercenary who never received anything like Arngrim's acclaim,) and Lucian (a former childhood friend of Valkyrie's human form, who became a thief and probably has no formal training and little practical experience in swordsmanship,) all start at higher levels because they're recruited in later chapters.
  • Septerra Core mostly averts this since all the characters, except the begining three, are trained combatants in some way. However, Led, despite being in the military, is not trained as a fighter and hasn't seen real combat, making her perhaps a little too skilled when she joins the others.
  • Chrono Cross manages to employ this without actually having character levels. Characters gain stat points after each battle up to a limit set by the number of bosses you've defeated (making your power in combat almost completely dependent on what point in the game you're at.) Characters always join your party with stats appropriate to the point of the game where they're recruited, meaning that some characters who ought to be particularly strong, like the Four Devas of the Acacia Dragoons, join your party with lower stats than later-joining characters such as Orcha, the head chef at the castle they're stationed at.
  • Resonance of Fate manages a little of this combined with Overrated and Underleveled during the beginning of the game. Vashyron is an experienced war hero who taught the others everything they know about fighting, Zephyr is much younger, but was trained by Vashyron for some time and Leanne is the naive newbie and The Heart. Logically one would expect that their combat strength would be Vashyron > Zephyr > Leanne, but the game starts them out as nearly identical in strength (though Vashyron does have a little more health, they're mostly interchangeable this early on). This wouldn't be too bad if the in combat banter of the first quarter of the game didn't make constant references to Leanne being inexperienced and supposedly weaker then the rest of the team.
  • Averted in Dhux's Scar. The main characters are a mercenary, a traveling merchant, and a, supposedly, teenage girl. These characters are *exactly* as strong as they should be according to their backgrounds. The mercenary with his high stats, and special abilities (including the only healing spell in the game) pretty much wins every battle single handedly. The merchant has 1/3 the mercenaries maximum health, does 1/4 the damage with regular attacks and doesn't have any special attacks to spend his MP on. Though he has some great abilities to help get cheaper or special items from merchants and can do comparable damage to the mercenary by throwing amulets only he can use, but the cost of purchasing all those amulets add up so rapidly that it's cheaper to let the mercenary deal with everything and put the savings towards healing items. Meanwhile the girl is every bit as worthless as one would expect from an inexperienced girl (usually), Her damage is so pathetic that if not overleveled many enemies will No-Sell her attacks, she has the lowest health and defense and spends every single encounter defending and nothing else; to the point that having her in the party starts to feels like a game long Escort Mission.
  • A minor, and very subtle, example occurs in The Legend of Dragoon. When Lavitz is replaced by Albert, Albert has the exact same level as the person he replaces. Since Albert is a king trained in combat from a young age his combat strength wouldn't be too odd for when he starts, if he hadn't explicitly stated that he learned everything he knows about combat from Lavitz. This seems reasonable until one visits the fridge and realizes that Lavitz was a much lower level when he joined the team, so if Albert had learned everything from him before the main game Albert should at most be equal to his starting level, not the level he was at when he was replaced.
  • Lost Odyssey:
    • Seth and Kalm are immortal beings who spent the nearly a thousand years fighting and developing as warriors, Jensen was picked by the strongest mage in the capital to be an ally for them, and Queen Ming (who is received only shortly later) is an immortal queen known for stopping an invasion of powerful magic beings single handedly with her powerful magics. Fighting along beside this team are... two little kids with no combat training at all. However the kids do join the party early enough that the main party isn't made too powerful by Level Grinding. Also, Cooke is a White Mage who's physical combat skills are just as bad as one would expect from a little girl, and when Mack joins the party he is a Magic Knight who's magic ability at least is justified as it's heavily implied that he was given spirit magic as a side effect of being possessed by the remains of a tribe with a gift for spirit magic. However, Mack is still a little too powerful physically for a little kid with no training running up and hitting you.
      • Some Fan Wank can help justify this further. It could be assumed Cooke's power with White Magic is from her wanting to heal her sick mother. Presumably she started studying to try to help her mother recover, it would be in character for her even if it's never explicitly stated in game. As for Mack, well since spirit magic has a heavy emphasis on strengthening yourself and weakening enemies one could possible claim that Mack's physical combat ability is actually partially a result of the same experience that gave him his magic, ie. his magic is making him hit stronger/faster then a young child should be naturally. Though that's pushing the limits of Fan Wank a bit.
    • Completely, and skillfully, averted with Tolten. As a prince who presumably received training in combat throughout his upbringing he would be expected to be competent with a sword, and indeed the first time he is used in combat he is about equal to the rest of the party in strength and shown being capable of defending himself when forced to. However, by the time he becomes a regular party member he is the exact same level, making him far weaker than the others, who have been growing steadily stronger for another fourth of the game. He has to be placed in the back row where he can be protected to keep him alive through the first few battles and he can barely dish out worthwhile damage...luckily the combat system (ie, the ability to easily guard low health and vulnerable allies in the back row from damage temporarily) prevents his low level from making him a liability that dies all the time, and the leveling system ensures he gains levels absurdly fast so he will catch up to a useful level in very little time. This fits very nicely with his characterization, he is depicted as too afraid to fight, or stand up for himself, alone, and has to learn how to be a stronger/braver man just as he has to gain xp in combat before he is an equal to the rest of the team.
  • Averted in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Several characters you meet throughout the story will not have their levels increased based on story progression; the only way for a character to level up is through combat. This includes permanent party members like Sophia, who will be at level 1 when she's recruited permanently at a time when the rest of your party members' levels should be somewhere in the upper 40s.
  • In Embric of Wulfhammer's Castle , the main character is liable to become this. She gains experience and raises her level throughout the course of the game almost entirely through activities that have nothing to do with combat, likely leading the player to believe that her stats are simply a way of keeping score, with no function beyond the cosmetic. However, the game does contain combat, and by the time she reaches it, the Duchess is likely to be capable of fighting on par with the Awesome Fellowship, a highly experienced band of adventurers whose exploits shape the fates of nations. Her sudden increase in power is referred to in one of the endings (when her maid points out that she's probably strong enough by now to actually fight the Awesome Fellowship and win), but not explained. It could be because it's All Just a Dream. Alternatively, based on the endings where you side with the Anti-Paladins, it's possible that she was always that strong and just hiding her skill. There's also at least one point in the plot where she could justifiably pick up those talents — a Time Skip where she's acting as a bandit queen, of all things. Finally, given that the Awesome Fellowship just seems to take her increase in skill for granted, it could be that gaining combat power through unrelated adventuring is an accepted part of the setting being something like an RPG Mechanics 'Verse.
  • Persona 3 runs into this trope in the second half of the game. Yukari and Junpei have no relevant experience and join at level 1, Akihiko has two years of experience along with being a champion boxer and joins at level 9 after spending several weeks recovering from an injury, Mitsuru has ten years of experience along with fencing training and joins at level 18(after relegating herself to the sidelines to serve as Mission Control), and Aigis is a dedicated war-machine who joins at level 25. All well and good, but then an eleven year old with two years of Persona possession, no combat experience, and some informal training joins with a level in the 30s, as does a dog who only just got his Persona and has no experience whatsoever. The final party member, Shinjiro, zig-zags this; he has some experience as one of the first members of S.E.E.S., and even Akihiko is impressed by his talent, but he has been trying to kill his Persona for the last two years, joins in the early 40s.
  • Almost all party members in Persona 4 count (except MC, Yosuke, and Chie since they are your starting members and join at low levels). All of them join right after getting their Personas and resting for about a month with obviously no experience in using their Personas. All of them join with the appropriate levels and skills for the stage of the game they're in.
    • As far as later characters go, Yukiko is a weak physical combatant, Rise doesn't fight at all, Kanji was already a big bruiser, Naoto has firearms training, and Teddie is a Shadow himself(and Rise senses great power in Teddie's Persona). As far as their Personas? Maybe stronger Shadows make for stronger Personas?
  • In Persona 5, Player Character Joker is at the same level of power as Morgana/Mona at the game's beginning. This is in spite of Morgana supposedly being a much more experienced Phantom Thief and who was also created by the game's Big Good to guide the Phantom Thieves into saving the world. Also, when Haru joins the Phantom Thieves after a full awakening of her Persona in the fifth Palace, she's just as strong as everyone else; while she has accompanied Morgana to the Metaverse on a few occasions, her Persona never fully awakened. The only exception is Goro Akechi, who has actually been a Persona user for about two years longer than any of you, starts off with the highest join level of the party, and is indicated to actually be holding back for the entirety of his tenure in your party. In Royal, Kasumi or better said, Sumire, starts at Level 75 (around the level the party is at by the end of the original game and equal to the reformed Akechi, who actually does have the in-story experience to back up his power), despite having only fought alongside Joker twice up until this point.
  • About 1/3 of the characters in Devil Survivor qualify, including a huge number of Non Player Characters, most of whom get their COMPs later in the game. In game it's shown that in order to use a COMP a character must first defeat demons summoned by the COMP. The heroes are able to defeat the demons summoned on day one, although even then Yuzu struggles with hers. However, the demons grow stronger each day, and it's seen later on that the demons summoned by Izuna are equal to the strength of demons fought during that day. So one has to wonder how any of the people that get their COMPs later on are able to defeat the demons that were summoned when they turn them on, assuming they would all be close to the main characters power at day one and the demons would be massively stronger then that. Yet somehow citizens all over the city are getting comps and somehow defeating the demons they summon in order to use them.
  • Adell's younger siblings Taro and Hanako in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. Especially since they were visibly level 1 NPCs beforehand and their levels suddenly shot up when they join.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Kurtis dies, but later shows up reincarnated as a Prinny and joins the party. Despite the fact that he should have started at level 1 (and that Prinnies are the weakest monsters in the game), he is actually higher in level than when he died, and on par with the rest of the party.
  • Averted in Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny with your last party member Viese, who joins at the third to last chapter at level ONE. Somewhat justified since the plot of the chapter she joins is to backtrack to previous areas.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts:
      • May possibly be the case with Ariel. One could try to argue that the rest of the group are actually fighting at an extreme disadvantage (not being use to fighting in water as fish-people) and so Ariel having grown up in a water world has the home field advantage. However, by that logic every single mermaid should be just as good in combat, if not better, than Ariel; which leaves one wondering why the giant city full of badass mermaids wouldn't have driven the Heartless away long before our characters appeared.
      • This also could possibly apply to Aladdin, who in the movie is somewhat competent at Deadly Dodging and wields a sword at one point but without training. He joins Sora after mid-game and is possibly a bit too strong compared to his movies. But then again, it's ambiguous enough to mostly be forgiven.
    • Kingdom Hearts II has Kairi get her own Keyblade and start fending off some mid-level Nobodies towards the end of the game. She's doing this alongside Riku, who has not only trained with a sword for years, but is locked in a powerful body at the time. Kairi herself has never been shown as even practicing with a toy sword like Riku and Player Character Sora, let alone using a real sword with the same skill they do. Though, it could just be because it's a cutscene.
  • Your party in Radiant Historia consists of a bunch of soldiers with years of experience, a Rebel Leader Princess... and Aht, a 9-year-old girl from a group of traveling performers. Not only is she the game's best healer, but her basic magic traps do damage on par with the more powerful elemental spells, and the upgraded versions are some of the most damaging abilities in the game.
  • This seems to be the norm for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Koops is a timid young koopa from a small peaceful town. Flurrie is a retired actress. Yoshi is a hatchling. Yet, for some reason, they are all equals to Mario's other teammates (as well as Mario himself), which includes Adventure Archaeologist Goombella, ancient witch Vivian, Phantom Thief Ms. Mowz, and long retired Admiral Bobbery.
  • In Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, Aurica will constantly talk about how useless she is, how she can't do any good song magic, and how she's a D-Class (i.e. lowest on the scale) Reyvateil who's never even been assigned a partner before joining your party. In gameplay she's perfectly fine and can become insanely powerful. (And she's just as good as Misha, who's repeatedly talked up as uniquely gifted and exceptional.) She has severe emotional issues keeping her from achieving her potential, true, but those issues can't be overcome without help, raising the question of why the supposedly kind and helpful church can't be bothered to even give her a partner to support her before the protagonist comes along.
  • Xenosaga
    • Jin definitely counts. He joins in the second game, after the team has already defeated threats that challenged entire space fleets. He is also the only Badass Normal, in a team which consists of a robot, android, multiple genetically engineered super humans, a kid with near-magical powers due to being effectively a God in Human Form, and someone wielding a high-tech multi-weapon system. He uses a simple sword with no special abilities or weapons. Yet he can keep up with everyone else and even cut through Giant Mecha in a single slice.
    • Allen. He only joins for a brief period midway through the third game. During this time he is a bit lower level then the rest of the team, though his healing ether still is an asset. However, considering the rest of the team has gone through 2.5 games worth of Level Grinding and defeated things believed to be unstoppable before this, and Allen has no combat training at all and uses a simple crossbow as a weapon, "a bit lower level" still makes him quite badass.
    • Canaan and Miyuki in he third game also count, though not as drastic an offender as Allen. They show up only briefly in the beginning of episode 3. Both are better suited to combat then Allen, one wielding the same advanced multi-weapon system of the main character (which includes shields to protect her) and the other being a genetically engineered realian, but not one engineered for combat. Still, while not as strong as Shion, they are able to keep up surprisingly well considering Shion's 2 games worth of Level Grinding feats.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 had Riki, introduced as the "Legendary Heropon" and quickly revealed to only be in the position due to a massive amount of debt while actually being a middle-aged man with a family. Despite this, he joins at the same level as the rest of the party and is a very competent party member, being both an HP sponge and capable of debuffing enemies into oblivion.
  • In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Hestu needs your help with all the "scary monsters" he can't deal with, but then demonstrates himself to be a perfectly capable fighter at the same level as everyone else in the party.
  • In Genshin Impact, Bennett is a kid with luck that is so supernaturally bad that he actively ruins adventures simply through his presence and is treated as a liability in-universe. Within the game however, Bennett is considered one of the most versatile party members due to the fact that he can do reasonable amounts of damage on top of offering highly reliable healing and buffing to the point that he's regarded as one of the best characters of the game despite being of a lower rarity.

     Western RPGs  
  • This can occur in the first Mass Effect if you wait to rescue Liara as long as possible. Liara's strength is not that unreasonable if she is rescued near the beginning of the game when she expected to be saved (being a mage in a world where her people are presented as the strongest Biotic users). However, if the player waits to rescue her until near the end of the game she can come out of suspended animation as powerful as now-legendary characters, but the plot will still play her as the weak and inexperienced character she was supposed to be in the beginning of the game.
  • The Viking Conquest DLC for Mount & Blade has Bran mac Caliacas, the youngest son of a leader of a village out in the least inhabited end of Connacht in Ireland. He is level 31 and has 380 in all weapon skills, and huge ranks in several combat skills. He hopes one day to earn enough money to buy a farm and marry a girl.
  • There are several examples in Baldur's Gate, but Aerie in the second game is probably the strongest example. She is a timid elf girl who has lived in the circus for her entire life, and yet is a mage/cleric who is probably more powerful than Sarevok was at the end of Baldur's Gate I.
    • 8 months. She was only with the circus for 8 months. (Quayle was busying travelling with YOU 6 months prior and only happened to wander in and the join the circus around the same time Aerie was captured, eventually taking it over after they pissed him off). Sarevok is as high as the maximum level of a fighter in pre-ToB BG2 in BG1, Aerie, by contrast, is only about as strong as a player C/M would've been at maximum level for BG1. He's so high in level that he only gains 1 level compared to BG1 when joining the party in ToB and will still dwarf nearly any other party member you have in raw combat power.
  • Shandra Jerro in Neverwinter Nights 2 was basically a farmer prior to her involvement in the plot and being taken on as a squire. She was kidnapped without ceremony by githyanki and had trouble driving lizardfolk off her property. Then she joins as a retainer, and she's the same level as everyone else - likely 10-11 out of 20, fresh off wiping out the githyanki and powerful enough to take down the entire tribe of lizards completely solo. She's mentioned as having gone through some degree of training since then, but it's anyone's guess as to what this training was, as it's enough to put her above Casavir (an experienced paladin who was personally holding back a massive orc horde).
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Sith Inquisitor, like their Warrior counterpart, completes their Sith trials in the prologue, leaving Korriban likely around level 10. At the eleventh hour, they recruit Xalek, who’s just finished his trials, as their apprentice. The Inquisitor is expected to be nearing level 50 by this point, yet Xalek is still useful in combat.
  • Owyn from Betrayal at Krondor is a milder example of this. While Owyn's fighting-related stats are lower then his allies at the start of the game they are surprisingly close considering he has no combat training at all and is teamed up with two supposedly master, even near legendary, swordsman.
    • Statistically Speaking Owyn's defense rating gives him a slightly lower then 50% chance of blocking attacks from either of his allies at the beginning of the game. That means expert swordsman struggle to even touch the untrained kid with a stick.

     First Person Shooters  

  • If one stops to think about it, all the characters in Halo 3: ODST are this. The main Halo franchise focuses on a Super-Soldier who was picked from the best of the best, trained from childhood, underwent expensive and dangerous procedures to enhance his physical and mental abilities, and given Powered Armor equipped with shield technology stolen from the enemy. The characters in this game are just unaugmented humans wearing "normal" armor. They are implied to be incredibly skilled even when compared to the rest of the highly elite ODSTs, but they are not super soldiers. However, the game engine is the same as Halo 3, meaning the ODST soldiers are just as powerful as Master Chief. They lose the shields (but replace them with a stamina system that makes them nearly as durable), and they can't punch through tanks like the Chief, but that's about the only difference. In contrast, ODST NPCs in the other games are noticeably weaker than the Chief.

     Turn-Based Strategy Games  

  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Eldar are supposed to have the most powerful psykers of any faction, with the possible exception of Chaos. In Rites of War, an Eldar psyker has to get to level 8 (the level cap is 10) before being able to use all four Eldar psyker abilities, whereas the psykers of the other two factions in the game, the Imperium and the Tyranids, get all four of their abilities at level one. After a key turning point in the campaign, however, you, playing as the Eldar, get to start recruiting Imperial units as well, including Space Marine Librarians, who of course have all four of their abilities at level one. So that means you can recruit a level one Librarian with more powers than a level seven Warlock Master.
  • Russel Bagman from Super Robot Wars: Original Generation is essentially a Red Shirt with a nametag. In a game overflowing with Ace Pilots in unique, sometimes world-destroying powerful robots, he's just a mid-ranked pilot for a standard model Gespenst—he's even the only playable pilot who does not have his own theme song. However, most of those Ace Pilots focus on offense, making Russel's defensive/supportive stats and abilities rather unique and extremely useful in gameplay terms.
  • Odie in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters is largely treated as a walking joke by his friends, his enemies and even his family, and his moments of plot-sanctioned badassery are treated as exceptional (and, in one case, revealed to be assisted by someone else who does the major part). In-game, he's fully functional, has stats well over the average, and is a decent challenge if you haven't been grinding or done a New Game Plus. He's also a very good addition to your own forces when he joins.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, you can use Zephiel's half-sister Guinivere in challenge maps as a bonus after beating the game enough times. In the actual story, Guinivere is a Neutral Female who doesn't do much in the plot aside from provide exposition and become Queen of Bern in the epilogue. As a playable character, she's a Level 20 Sage with good stats in everything but HP, plus high weapon ranks in Anima, Staves, and Light magic, something that no other Sage has. It's hard to imagine why she wouldn't help you out if she'd had those stats in the story. To a lesser extent, Eliwood when playable has incredible stats despite the fact that he spends the whole game with Plot-Induced Illness.
    • The Binding Blade's prequel, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, provides a Final Boss example: a generic Fire Dragon, a normal, but wounded Fire Dragon literally only shows up in time for the final battle, yet it boasts much higher stats than Idunn, and puts up a much more valiant effort against the heroes, as almost all of their weapons can't even scratch it, and they need the legendary weapons to even the score.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has Pelleas, a character who sits out most of the battles. When he finally does join a battle, he admits that he's never actually fought before, and is so scared his legs are trembling... and yet he starts out as a Level 12 Dark Sage. While he is still underleveled compared to your other characters, that's pretty impressive for someone who's never had a chance to do any Level Grinding. This is, however, something of a plot point. He got his power from making a contract with a Spirit, which is the final clue that he's not really Almedha's son.
    • Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem has this due to bringing back characters from other games set in its world when they weren't in the original, and scattering them throughout the whole campaign, combined with nearly everyone else being nowhere near what you'd expect of an endgame squad in the game prior. Darros is by far the most notable one: in the prior games, he's a random level 3 pirate with no story relevance whose limited background basically describes him as a common raider who does it because he needs the money. When he's recruited in New Mystery, he's now promoted (something he couldn't even do in his first appearance) and has fairly decent stats. Keep in mind that Palla, who was a level 8 elite trooper even at her join time in the prior game and recently fought in a disastrous war, is level 10 unpromoted in the same game.
  • Holy shit Colin in Advance Wars. His gimmick is he is like the Bizarro Kanbei, having a 10% attack penalty because he is a fresh-meat rookie commander but with a 10% deployment cost reduction to balance it out. In story, he's treated at best (by his allies) as a rookie with a lot of potential and at worst (by Lash) as a complete laughable joke, and he constantly doubts his own abilities and feels he's not a "real" CO. In practice, he is the best "normal" CO in the game and on-par with the Purposely Overpowered COs like Hachi and Sturm since his incredibly cheap normal CO power boosts his funds by 1.5x and he can just get so many units out and so casually pump out high-tier units like Neo Tanks and Bombers while his opponent is still struggling to get out Medium Tanks that he'll overrun most any other CO effortlessly.

     Platform Games  
  • Milla from Freedom Planet is a ten-year-old girl who possesses mystic powers but absolutely no combat training, and this is reflected in the story by being overwhelmed by enemy fire during Lilac's rescue and being easily captured by Neera Li and Brevon during various cutscenes. Not like you'd know this from watching gameplay videos, where she can block and reflect enemy fire all day and, with adequate player skill, blitz through stages at speeds that make Lilac blush and rip several bosses in half. Note that this only applies to the first game; the sequel gives her actual combat training.
  • It's a wonder Eggman successfully kidnapped Cream in Sonic Advance 2: with the ridiculous range of her Chao Cheese, she can curb-stomp any boss (barring the extra boss, since only Super Sonic can fight it) without breaking a sweat and all the while remaining out of the boss's attack range.
  • Played for Laughs in the The LEGO Movie Videogame with Green Lantern. In the movie he's the completely useless obnoxious The Friend Nobody Likes who constantly annoys Superman. In the game he acts like, and is treated, the same, but despite that he's the most useful character in the roster, since not only is he among the rare few fliers alongside possessing a projectile attack, but he also has the unique ability to use his powers to assemble green bricks, which is quite a common puzzle element for free-play.