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The Lancer / Live-Action TV

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  • 24: Tony Almeida fits almost every part of this description in relation to Jack Bauer. This is an interesting case in that Tony initially seems like a calmer, saner, more soft-spoken counterpart to Rabid Cop Jack. But placed under enough strain (as exemplified by how they each handle the loss and/or potential loss of their wives), Tony can actually be far more emotional, reckless, self-destructive and vengeful than Jack.
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  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Melinda May. She's recruited to be Phil Coulson's second-in-command, and her Ice Queen demeanor contrasts with Coulson's friendlier one.
  • Angel:
    • Several characters have Lancer qualities. Doyle was the initial one, but for most of the series, Wesley fulfilled this role as well as The Smart Guy. Gunn also filled this role for a time late season 3 and early season 4, but was usually The Big Guy. Connor fit for much of season 4. Easily the best fit that doesn't overlap with any other roles is Spike in Season 5.
    • Wesley, true to the trope, was the ruthless member of the team, as well as the sorcerer of the bunch, also betrayed the gang to save Connor, stabbed Gunn and shot Knox during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and, being the less stable of the group due to Fred's death, was expected by Cyvus Vail to make a move for Angel's position. Aware of it, Wesley pretended to be planning to betray Angel in order to get close to Vail and kill him. As the trope goes, Wesley was killed by Vail instead.
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    • Cordelia was Interim Lancer between Doyle's death and Wesley's integration into the main cast, and was always Angel's real foil, despite being The Chick throughout.
  • Arrow: John Diggle to Oliver Queen, being the latter's very first ally and eventually his Number Two once they formed a large team.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Garibaldi is more aggressive than Captain Sheridan, prone to independent action, more of a covert operative, and does indeed get brainwashed at one point.
    • Ivanova is the pessimistic - sorry, make that Realistic dry-witted executive officer. She's remarkably tenacious, hammy when angered, and a spy master on par with Garibaldi at his best. Her fiery personality particularly contrasts with the original commander, Sinclair.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978): Has Starbuck, the hard-drinking, cigar-chomping, attitudinal (and in the 2004 reimagining, female) foil to Apollo, the much more straightforward hero of the show. Col. Saul Tigh from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica is also a good example.
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  • Blake's 7: Avon, even when Blake vanishes/dies and Avon slowly goes Ax-Crazy. Avon is very unusual — a Lancer as leader as nightmare.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Hawk is this to Buck Rogers in the second season of this show.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Faith can act Lancer-y. Oh, and also Xander, despite also being the Butt-Monkey. In addition, Cordelia was this in the earlier seasons and when she left to be on the show Angel was replaced by Spike.
  • Burn Notice: Sam Axe.
  • Chuck: This tended to vary quite a bit depending on the season, and whether one is dealing with Team Bartowski or the Buy More, but:
    • Sarah usually filled this role for Chuck, as the series typically saw them collaborating together more often than not. That said, at times there were episodes where Casey filled the role instead.
    • Other times, Chuck himself took on the Lancer role to Sarah or Casey in episodes in which they were the lead of an episode.
    • Outside of the spy game, Morgan was Chuck's Lancer.
    • Once Morgan joined the team in the back half of season three, he was often the Lancer to Casey.
    • Morgan was also Big Mike's lancer once promoted to Assistant Manager. This then gets reversed when Beckman places Morgan as Store Manager, with Big Mike as his "Ass Man."
  • CSI: Warrick Brown fills this.
  • CSI: Miami: Ryan Wolfe has qualities of this. However, Eric Delko is a better example of the Lancer to Horatio's hero. Womanizer, leader, outgoing, and willing to take initiative on his own to further the team. Add to that he's completely loyal to Horatio.
  • CSI NY: Danny Messer.
  • Dad's Army: Sergeant Arthur Wilson, he's Captain Mainwaring's polar opposite, second in command and best friend/rival.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the first serial, Ian prevented The Doctor from bashing a caveman's skull in. This has been one of the reasons The Doctor keeps companions, to keep his humanity in check and prevent him from slipping into darkness. So to an extent, they're all Lancers. Episodes like "The Waters of Mars" and "The Family of Blood" in which his companions couldn't control him, show this very well.
    • Captain Jack Harkness filled this role during his very short tenure.
    • Doctor Who usually has a small ensemble, but groups exceeding three members would occasionally contain Lancers; for example Rory Williams and Ian Chesterton, both more 'classical' heroes in contrast to the Anti-Heroic Doctor, and Tegan Jovanka, an unwilling passenger in the TARDIS who eventually left on her own accord. The thing about the Fifth Doctor adventures is that his companions hardly ever seemed to tolerate each other (Turlough, Tegan, Adric), apart from Nyssa.
      • Donna Noble, one of the most popular companions of the Tenth Doctor, shares a similar background and personality with Tegan.
    • Tegan retained her old personality in her early Big Finish appearances. This was a bit too much for her opening story. She always was a moaner but this was taken so far it was almost a parody; The Gathering suggests that traveling the TARDIS ruined her life and gave her brain cancer. She calms down a bit in Heroes of Sontar and Emerald Tiger and provides some of the more amusing moments in later trilogies. It's almost hard to reconcile this sunny, smiling TARDIS team with the same ones who glowered throughout "The King's Daemons"....
      Joe Ford: Tegan is moaning because she doesn’t like the idea of Turlough traveling with them (and no its isn’t because she wants the Doctor all to herself, pipe down all you shippers at the back!) ...It's true that she is at least very honest, there is nothing that she would say behind Turlough’s back that she wouldn’t say to his face. More’s the pity: because now we have to listen to it twice. Then once all the bile is extracted from her gut she turns round and tells Turlough that he should stay! You know when hackneyed male figures in fiction stick their hands on their hips and cry ‘women!’ at something exasperating? I think that should be adopted here but the word changed to ‘Tegan!’
    • In Series 10, Nardole starts out seeming like he's nothing but a Sidekick, but as the season progresses, he develops into a sometimes-reluctant but always-capable former Hero of Another Story who has "authority to kick the Doctor's arse" if need be.
      Bill: Nardole, are you secretly a badass?
      Nardole: Nothin' secret about it, babydoll!
  • Eureka: Deputy Jo Lupo to Jack Carter.
  • Farscape: Either D'Argo or Aeryn was the Lancer for Crichton, depending on the episode. Ironically, this also makes D'Argo Supporting Leader after being elected Captain of Moya.
  • Firefly: Zoe plays the cool-headed Lancer to the often impulsive Mal, and Jayne plays the Lancer.
  • The Flash (2014): Cisco Ramon to Barry Allen. Cisco is the one who usually accompany Barry in missions and is the second metahuman member of Team Flash after Barry himself.
  • Fraggle Rock:
    • Gobo, the reluctant leader of the Five-Man Band, had two extremely opposite Lancers — his best friend Wembley and Wembley's constant rival Red.
    • Although they get considerably less screen time, the Minstrels are a clear cut Five-Man Band, and it's obvious that Murray acts as the Lancer to Cantus.
  • Game of Thrones: Davos is the lancer to Stannis' Hero. Unless you consider Stannis a villain, then he's the Token Good Teammate. Following Stannis' death, he serves as this role to Jon Snow, being a great asset in recruiting forces to take back Winterfell and also being his second-in-command along with Tormund Giantsbane.
  • Giant Saver: It is a sentai show, but Thunder Guard Xu Weizhen takes the cake on the whole "rival and foil to The Leader" part of the trope. He is constantly a jerkass toward Dakong, the Fire Guard, and his cynical, money centered world view couldn't be a better contrast to Dakong's Wide-Eyed Idealism.
  • Happy Days: The Fonz fits the definition so well it's almost scary. What made the show a hit was the contrast between super-cool ladies' man and high school dropout Fonzie, and the gutsy, strait-laced, all-American Richie Cunningham. As shown in a flashback, the two didn't initially see eye-to-eye, with The Fonz being in a gang. However, he is impressed that Richie had the courage to stand up to him, and quit the gang he was in because of Richie's insistence that he was cool enough without a gang jacket to show for it; afterwards, the two became close friends and, when Richie left to pursue his dream of being a screenwriter, his final words were to Fonzie, who he dubbed a brother and a protector.
  • Horatio Hornblower has two.
    • First is Archie Kennedy, a Composite Character given traits of several midshipmen (and ordinary seamen) who served with Horatio in the Midshipman stories. His role was greatly expanded because the cast and crew enjoyed Jamie Bamber's performance so much. Archie is much more cheerful and friendly than reserved, awkward Horatio, but he's also got worse luck and he doubts his abilities as an officer in the same measure that Horatio doubts his abilities at being a person. The Forester estate ordered the show to write the character out in the second series, feeling that his presence was altering Horatio too much.
    • Second is William Bush, Horatio's best friend from the novels. The dynamic is much different—Bush is a cautious, steady, and thoroughly reliable officer who does not tolerate indiscipline. Though not a genius or a Military Maverick like Horatio, Bush can face most troubles with a straight face and has very little in the way of self-doubt, which makes him an excellent Number Two. He's also much more perceptive than Horatio in certain areas.
  • Hotel Babylon: In this British series, the concierge Tony is a seasoned pro at the hotel business and very well-respected among his colleagues. When a general manager strays, he's usually one of the first to stand up for the good of the hotel or its staff and let a manager know he's going in the wrong direction.
  • House: Drs. Wilson and Foreman are both lancers to Dr House in different respects;
    • Wilson is House's best friend, his opposite in almost every way, and the one most likely to play the Only Sane Man. In fact, when Hugh Laurie first read for the part of House, he was under the impression that Wilson was The Hero, and that House was The Lancer.
    • Foreman is the subordinate most likely to oppose House on any given matter, and in later seasons has become the de facto Number Two of the team (having stepped into the position of leadership on three separate occasions). Though his characterization has emphasized a fundamental similarity between himself and House, there are important (perhaps deliberate) differences — Foreman is stuffier than House, presenting an air of consummate professionalism in contrast to House's slip-shod and free-wheeling style of management.
  • House of Anubis- Patricia Williamson, being the Anti-Hero to Nina's Hero, and being the most independent member of Sibuna. She also fits this role in the third season Sibuna as well.
  • Inspector Lynley: DS Barbara Havers to the Inspector; she challenges him at every turn and is the first to tell him when she thinks he's being an idiot. She would also follow him into fire if he asked her to, and anyone who challenges him will find themselves on the wrong end of her fury.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Detective Olivia Benson for Detective Elliot Stabler.
    • With Stabler's departure, Benson has been moved up to The Hero and new addition Nick Amaro takes the role of Lancer.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Since The Team is very large, three people have quickly vied for this role; Ray Palmer, Sara Lance and Leonard Snart. All three are the ones frequently questioning The Leader's decisions and all three rotate on being the acting leader in case the real one isn't present, though Ray, The Leader's very first recruit, is the one who is assigned for the role most. Once Mick Rory rejoins the team 3/4 into the first season, he also starts vying for the role.
  • Leverage: Sophie most cleanly fits this role, often serving as a foil to Nate in the planning process, though the rest of the crew also occasionally fits into it at times. Eliot in some ways fits this role, as the opposite of Nate, preferring to fight his way out of situations then Nate's Chessmaster style. Parker in some ways fits into this as the only true thief among them, as well as being a skilled planner when it comes to heists. Hardison also is trying to develop the skills to run his own crew as well.
  • Lost: Locke and Sayid alternated on this role towards Jack until Locke leaves the group in season 4. Ana Lucia also served as this for a brief time in season 2, before she was killed by Michael.
    • When Jack and five other survivors leave the island in the season 4 finale, Sawyer becomes The Leader with Juliet as The Lancer. In fact, Juliet's "I have your back" to Sawyer and acting like she meant it became a pretty important part of season 5 that leads to the two of them getting together.
    • And talking about Jack's group in season 5; Sayid, taking jobs for Ben as an assassin, becomes The Big Guy, which moved Kate to The Lancer of the group.
    • Season 6 had the people on the island divided in two camps: Jacob's group and the Man in Black's group. Ben served this purpose to Ilana/Jacob's group as of "Dr. Linus" (Ilana didn't really trust him earlier than that), while Claire and Sayid alternate to serve the Man in Black as this.
  • M*A*S*H: Trapper John (seasons 1-3) and B.J. (seasons 4-11) serve as this to Hawkeye.
  • NCIS:
    • Tony Dinozzo is The Lancer to Gibbs' leadership, though according to Ducky, Gibbs used to be much like Tony.
    • In the rare episode where Tony is The Hero, Timothy McGee is the lancer.
    • And even Abby, usually The Heart, will go that way.
  • Noah's Arc: Ricky, as a very clear foil to Noah. While Noah is very moral, relationship-oriented, romantic, and holds the group together, Ricky is much more pragmatic, highly promiscuous, sexually detached, and more than willing to abandon the group over a one-night stand. The stark contrast between them is lampshaded by both of them at different points in the series. Also, Ricky, Noah and Wade are involved in a love triangle highlighted in the movie.
  • NUMB3RS: David is this to Don.
    • At CalSci Larry is this to Charlie.
  • The Office (US): Jim is briefly promoted to co-manager and tries to be a lancer to Michael, tempering his need for fun with a need for work.
  • Once Upon a Time: In season two, Red is this to Charming's Hero, especially with Snow stuck in the Enchanted Forest.
  • Orphan Black: Felix Dawkins and Alison Hendrix are both lancers to Sarah Manning in different respects;
    • Felix is Sara's adoptive brother and best friend, most steadfast ally, and the go to guy of all the other members of Clone Club (specifically, Sarah herself, Allison, Cosima, Art, and Krystal) if they have problems even regarding their personal lives.
    • Alison is the de-fatco Number Two of the Clone Club, as well as being Sara's most decent Foil and voice of dissent within The Team. Her family is also the only other family after Sarah's that is deeply involved/affected with the whole clone conspiracy.
  • Parks and Recreation: Ron Swanson and Ann Perkins take turns being Leslie Knope's lancer.
  • Power Rangers: Naturally, this franchise follows suit. This position is usually held by the blue ranger, but sometimes the green ranger or black ranger hold it. Wes and Jen were a slight twist - they fit The Hero and The Lancer respectively, but Jen was still the official team leader, even after Wes came into his own as a Ranger. Then there's Sky, Dillon...
  • Primeval: Stephen Hart later Abby Maitland.
  • Revolution: Miles Matheson is the opposite of Charlie Matheson. He's older, smarter, more cynical and more experienced compared to her.
  • Roswell: Michael frequently plays the classic Lancer to Max's Hero, as both lifelong best friend and, with his loner persona and occasional need for anger management, as his foil. Michael even briefly assumes the role of "king"/leader after Max's "death".
  • Scandal: Stephen Finch is this to The Hero Olivia Pope.
  • The Secret Circle: Faye Chamberlain is this to both Cassie and Diana during their times as leaders. She was the most strongly against binding the circle and functions as the bad girl of the circle.
  • Sharpe: Patrick Harper.
  • Sherlock: Sherlock Holmes from this BBC TV series: No Social Skills; Surrounded by Idiots (according to him, at least); Byronic, Celibate Hero; self-professed sociopath; Nightmare Fetishist. His Lancer and deuteragonist, John Watson: The Social Expert; the Only Sane Man; Deadpan Snarker; occasional Morality Chain; occasional Butt-Monkey; The Charmer; Unfazed Everyman.
  • Smallville: Clark has had a few Lancers in the ten seasons of the show. In the first few seasons it's Lex, his best friend and counterpart who is often portrayed as somehow being both Clark's polar opposite and kindred spirit. Once Lex starts to go evil, Oliver takes over the role.
  • Spartacus: War of the Damned: Three people fill the role: There's Crixus, formerly The Rival of Spartacus and the official Number Two who often question/challenge his authority. Agron, The Reliable One who always stands by Spartacus' side and acts as the de facto Number Two when Crixus is being too emotional to fill the role. And lastly Gannicus, who serves as Spartacus' Foil in every aspect and even shares his fighting style.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock is all over this trope. Indeed, he is by all counts equally as competent as Kirk. But where Kirk will go with guts and daring, Spock will always be cool, calculating, and logical. And yes, when the chips are down, Spock is ready at a moment's notice to die for the cause (as seen in Star Trek II). Also, in cases where Spock devoted most of his screen time as The Smart Guy, Dr. McCoy picked up the role.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Riker was intended to perform the action roles that Picard (as The Captain) really should not be doing. Especially in season 1, he was a Kirk clone. After Growing the Beard, his role on the bridge was to anticipate Picard's orders and issue them so that the captain wouldn't have to. Contrasts with Picard in Riker being a womanizer (Picard is not very successful with women) and somewhat impulsive (Picard is fairly cautious). Riker also fits the role in easily being the more gregarious and social (he plays in the ship's jazz group and runs the senior officers' poker games) while Picard is the more private and prefers solitary pursuits such as reading and archeology. Oddly enough, while Riker is obviously supposed to be the more physical (being younger and larger) compared to Picard's more intellectual, Picard tends to be the one who ends up in the most physical confrontations over the span of the series and movies.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Kira is Sisko's lancer in every aspect of the trope. If it were up to her, there wouldn't be any Starfleet personnel on the station and she would be in command. In early seasons, she's yelling at Sisko every other episode and often completely ignores his orders when she believes she can handle things better. She grows to trust him in later seasons, but she always remains the person who challenges the captain's orders the most—somewhat unusually, considering that, as the Emissary of the Prophets, he's the equivalent of a saint or prophet of her religion.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: While he's not the first officer, Tuvok fulfills this role for Captain Janeway. He's calm and rational while Captain Janeway is usually very emotional. In later seasons, Seven of Nine plays the role.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Cristóbal Rios is the cynical mercenary Anti-Hero who contrasts Jean-Luc Picard's altruistic Ideal Hero.
  • Stranger Things: Lucas plays this role in contrast to Mike, acting as an Agent Scully to Mike's Agent Mulder. He's strongly distrusting of Eleven compared to Mike believing everything she has to say and they end up seriously butting heads over their disagreements, especially when it comes to her.
    • Their rivalry also comes up when they have a much more light-hearted disagreement in the second season. Both of them decided to dress as Peter Venkman for Halloween. Mike said that there can't be "two Venkmans" and that he thought Lucas was going to be Winston despite Lucas "specifically agree[ing] not to be Winston."
  • Super Sentai:
  • Top Gear (UK): Richard Hammond to Jeremy Clarkson. Hammond is a head shorter, a decade younger, and physically tough but emotionally fragile compared to Clarkson, yet they are inseparably bonded by a mutual love of fast, powerful cars. The third presenter, James May, acts a bit like a Lancer to Clarkson but they are more of an Odd Couple.
  • Torchwood: Owen falls under this fairly well, at least in series 1. Owen is The Lancer to Gwen while Jack is away. When Jack returns, Gwen becomes his Lancer.
  • The Walking Dead: Shane Walsh for the first two seasons. Daryl Dixon from season 3 onwards. Until season 3, Andrea is this to Lori for the women. Michonne also becomes one to Rick starting the second half of Season 4.
  • The West Wing: Leo is a dead-on Lancer of the Blue Oni type to Bartlet's hero. Being The Lancer is also Josh's calling in life, according to Bartlet: "You know the difference between you and me? I want to be the guy. You want to be the guy the guy counts on." In the later seasons other characters lampshade the fact that Santos, to Josh, is his opportunity to be what Leo was to Bartlet.


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