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Five-Man Band

  • Why doesn't The Hero in a Five-Man Band show get to be a hero instead of a vessel for delivering an Aesop? Why does the protagonist always screw up/ learn a valuable lesson, and their teammates save the day/ teach them a valuable lesson/ get to shine? Why does The Protagonist/leader always need to learn their power lies in their team -- then what does the team need them for? Why is The Protagonist stripped of every virtue and talent that gives them the right to be The Protagonist, while their teammates are perfect, powerful, and they'd be nothing without them?
    • Because if The Hero didn't need his friends in order to be competent and successful then he could be a loner and everyone knows that Loners Are Evil.
    • They often do. Not every hero in a Five-Man Band is an Idiot Hero.
      • But they're treated like they are for Plot convenience.
    • Because You Suck.
    • In some cases they are a focus for the team's power (either literally or in a more metaphorical sense depending on the genre).
    • Because The Hero is the audience identification character, so any problems that he has are more likely to be taken on board by the audience. It also stops the character from become an unlikeable, smug Mary Sue.
    • Because those that don't, with a few exceptions, tend to run into the problem below.
    • Because if they could do it all themselves, they wouldn't have a band.
    • Err... Ken Washio?
    • Because the best way to avoid a Mary Sue is to move all the absurdly powerful characters slightly to the side.
  • By contrast, many Heroes are better at everything than the characters theoretically specializing in those areas. Why is it so rare to find a hero who is also a person, and not either a Mary Sue or an Idiot Hero? (I mean, other than the obvious.)
    • Doesn't this contradict the rule above?
      • The "rule" above has almost never been this editor's expierence. For every show you list with a hero who does nothing, I will list one with a hero who can do no wrong, no matter how stupid and annoying they might be.
    • Because it is practically physically impossible to make a hero who excels at everything and is never wrong about anything AND his/her "flaws" never get him/her in trouble (at least for more than a episode) without making said character a god modding Mary Sue. As for the Idiot Heroes, well, they allow easy exposition (as do Amnesiac Heroes and any Heroes below the age of 20) as well the fact that for some reason Writers think that readers/viewers won't be able to associate with relatively intelligent Heroes.
      • Because it is practically physically impossible to make a hero who excels at everything and is never wrong about anything AND his/her "flaws" never get him/her in trouble -- Well, yeah. But why do writers have such an aversion to creating heroes who are good at things, but not good at everything? And why are even skillful character writers so compelled to give every hero the exact same personality? I could fill entire Wiki entries with lists of stories that show excellent character writing... except for the inexplicable inclusion of Luke Skywalker in every single episode.
      • The Hero now exemplified in Luke Skywalker is Older Than They Think. George Lucas deliberately followed the monomyth as mapped by Joseph Campbell, using examples of heroes in mythology and legends going back thousands of years. Every hero really is just the same Hero With A Thousand Faces.
        • ... Yes, I know. I just used the most recognizable current example. Would you have preferred it if I said "Gilgamesh"? The question (like the character) is identical: why don't they get a real personality?
          • That's fairly simple. The Main Character is the focal-point of the show. It's called Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, not "The Vampire Slaying Scoobie Gang". Ultimately, despite having other characters, it is the Main Character who is most important. If there is An Aesop to be learned/delivered, then as the Main Character, they get the right of first refusal on that point. If something heroic needs to be done, then they should be a part of it. And if they're not, then their credentials as Main Character are threatened; if a secondary character gets all the Big Damn Heroes moments, what's the actual hero for?
          • In any case, the best of all worlds is to combine them. Have The Hero screw up and receive An Aesop sometimes, then have The Hero be heroic other times. It's a question of good writing and a good vision of where the character is going. Really good writing is hard to come by. And vision can easily be thrown off even by slight Executive Meddling.
    • Because with a few exceptions, most of the ones that don't tend to run into the problem that starts this page.
    • Answer to both of the above: Because, by and large, Writers Suck. Especially TV writers. And because of the extensive chronic system-wide Executive Meddling.
  • Are there any Five-Man Band groups wherein there is a token female, but she is not The Chick? Is it ever one of the guys who is comparatively useless, while the token female gets to be The Lancer, The Smart Guy, etc.?
    • Kotashi of Sailor Nothing. See also The One Guy. And of course the several where there's more girls than just The Chick. The Faerie Queene is hundreds of years old, and it has both Distressed Damsels and Action Girls... and distressed dudes who make you laugh, "What an Idiot!!"
    • In Torchwood, Ianto Jones is male, and is definetly The Chick. There are two females on the group, but they are relatively useful (Gwen not so much) but the only thing Ianto does is screw up or clean the office.
      • In recent episodes the most precious and adorableIanto has pulled his weight more...
      • I take exception to this. Gwen is never useful, unless you include making puppy-dog eyes and wiping your boyfriend's memory as valuable contributions to an alien-busting team.
      • They're both kind of useful, just in a non-specific way. That's whats weird about Torchwood. It's like "the leader, the doctor, the technology woman and... y'know, the other two"
        • Which brings me to a Just Bugs Me of a different flavor: in a dynamic like the one you have described, why on Earth would the writers kill off everyone but The Hero and... the other two?
    • See also: Stargate SG-1.
      • This, however, was a four-man band until Vala joined, after which there were two females, one of them being The Chick.
        • If I'm reading this right, you're calling Carter The Chick, which could not be further from the truth. Even when she's the Distressed Damsel, she's not The Chick. Daniel Jackson is The Chick.
          • You're reading it wrong. Vala is The Chick. And even that is debatable.
    • There was once a comment somewhere on this site that said on Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Smart Guy Sokka also best qualified as The Chick. I thought that was a stretch until "The Headband" and "Sokka's Master." You officially have your "guy who fits The Chick role" with the females as The Lancer and The Big Guy.
    • Though far from the token female, Zoe of Firefly is a female and most definitely The Lancer. And it could be argued that Shepard Book shares The Chick duties with Inara, being one of the big moral centers of the group.
    • I've played a Dungeons and Dragons game where The Chick in the party was the male bard. Mostly because he was the love interest of The Hero who was a female Wholesome Crossdresser.
      • Minus the crossdressing, this is exactly the scenario in Order of the Stick. (Okay, Haley is The Lancer, not The Hero, but still... she does get to become The Hero when Roy's not around and has a few Chick-ish tendencies of her own. The 5MB assignments we once gave to OOTS may have lost some popularity.)
    • Angel was like this in its second season, when Cordelia was the Lancer and Lorne (a gay demon) was The Chick.
      • Lorne was not gay, damn it.
        • Indeed, since Lorne's people were seemingly hermaphrodites characterized as masculine, he would be arguably pansexual, since he displayed interest in both male and female humans, neither of which would technically be of his sex.
    • And, of course, Ghost in the Shell gets mentioned a lot on This Wiki for having one token female as The Hero.
    • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: Marian is the The Hero, Robin The Chick.
    • In Animorphs, Tobias argubly fills The Chick role. Cassie is the sterotypical kind female, but never useless (a bit of a Mary Sue, actually)
      • Don't even get started on that debate. Animorphs is all over the place as far as this goes. Marco, Tobias, Ax, and Cassie all have The Chick traits. Ironically, Rachel is the one who should be The Chick (pretty, blonde, likes clothes), but is somewhere between The Lancer and The Big Guy.
        • They seem to switch roles between books. I blame the change of narrators between stories.
    • Persona 3 , in its FES version there was an extra story tacked on where a female Sixth Ranger became the New Hero, the Lancer became the second of two Big Guys, and the Chick stayed the Chick but also took a few classes in Lancer (mainly because she was jealous that the New Hero had a spiritual connection to the Old Hero who was the Chick's romantic interest).
    • And don't forget, despite there being two women on the team, The Chick of The Planeteers was Ma-Ti (with the power of Heart)
    • Elan from Order of the Stick was the The Chick of his group.
    • Power Rangers Time Force features a five-man-band in which the Blue (male) Ranger is probably the closest to being the chick, given that he almost never does anything and is ridiculously vain.
    • In Animorphs there are two females in the band, and arguably the one who most fits The Chick is one of the guys.
    • In Generator Rex, Doctor Holiday takes the role of The Smart Guy. Granted, she doesn't fight much, but she can fight fight if she has too (like in "Lockdown")
  • Is it possible for villains to fit this trope? Because after reading this site I realized that the antagonists in a story I'm writing fit this almost to a T.
    • Kinda answered your own question, didn't you?
      • ....oh gee now I feel dumb.
    • This tends to happen with groups of Evil Counterparts, I imagine. To use the original Linear Guild from Order of the Stick as an example,
    • Any Quirky Miniboss Squad that manages to get beyond the traditional number of members will probably tend towards this - despite almost zero characterization, you can see it in the Ginyu Force of Dragon Ball Z, and more clearly with the Sins of Fullmetal Alchemist (in the original manga at least... this editor is not interested in the anime), among others. It shows up among villains for the same reason as it does among heroes: it's a simple, reasonably diverse, and instantly recognizable dynamic to give a group of that size.
    • Hell, yes. The original incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men consisted of:
      • Magneto, the Big Bad.
      • Toad, the lickspittle lacky (the properly villainous answer to The Lancer).
      • Mastermind, the smart but untrustworthy underling.
      • Quicksilver, The Big Guy. Speed rather than brute force, but he's still the team member assigned to punching the heroes.
      • Scarlet Witch, The Chick. Treated as near-useless by characters and writers alike.
    • Man, we need to make a page of villainous examples. This is fun.
    • Just add them to the Five-Man Band examples. There is really no need to split them.
    • Five-Bad Band ?
  • How Come the Big Guy in the Five man Band is Never a Woman?do people really see a muscle Bound woman as disgusting or something in a fantastical setting?
    • See Outlaw Star. I'm fairly certain that Aisha is the Big Guy. Avatar: The Last Airbender fans will mention Toph. And then there's a bunch of examples that exist due to an all-female cast.
    • it's not the lack of women in the role of big guy that bugs me but the fact that said women are never actually built like linebackers when the position demands it(i probably should have made that clear when i wrote that.my mistake)
    • Rachel from Animorphs. Her two favorite battle morphs are the grizzly bear and the elephant, which fulfills the big role. She also has some traits of The Lancer, and is something of a subverted Chick.
    • Toph is a Cute Bruiser, but if there would be a Time Skip in Avatar, she'd fit it. Well, at least the play they had to watch lampshaded it nicely.
    • The reason women built like linebackers are rare is that men who like women built like linebackers are (at least in the minds of executives) rare. Sexual Objectification trumps realism every time.
      • Women built like linebackers are also rare in Real Life, y'know.
        • Try hanging around an all-girls hockey team for a while. You're a LOT more likely to find some proto-Action Girl types who happen to be extremely athletic, and not just in the swimmer's-build kind of way, who also manage to be both competent and cute. You might even get a Samus Is a Girl moment or two when the helmet comes off after practice to reveal a looooong blonde ponytail... (Yes, I'm a little attracted... um, sorry... ) You're just as likely to find tsundere types, though.
      • Of course they exist, but they aren't quite as common as males with the same heavy physical build. Most people know more linebacker-built men than linebacker-built women. If you make a woman The Big Guy of the Five-Man Band, and you want her to resemble the kind of women your audience is likely to have met, you'll typically give her some other trait that lets her fill the big guy role without being, well, big. Like being a deadly fighter.
      • While Five-Man Band describes some common character types, it's still a creation of TV Tropes. I really doubt that many writers keep some kind of checklist. "Hmm, I've got The Hero, The Lancer, The Chick, and The Smart Guy already, but there's no Big Guy yet. Maybe I'll make her female as a subversion. Gotta make her a Cute Bruiser though, otherwise menfolk won't be able to oppress her properly by ogling her!"
        • What about the womenfolk who ogle? And what's wrong with ogling anyway? A good ogle is healthy.
        • This site "named" it. Fans had picked up on it by the late 80s. Mostly through Battle of the Planets and Voltron (with some Dynaman thrown in). Gatchaman/BOTP seams to have invented it, it spread to the Sentai shows by osmosis (Voltron is an anime Sentai show). Then this site started trying to fit everything into that mold.
        • The last part is what I'm getting at. The basic dynamic is common in a certain genre, but this site applies it to everything, regardless of whether it fits.
    • And again for Power Rangers Time Force, the girls are The Hero and The Big Guy. Well, Katie's definitely The Big Guy, but Jen/Wes/Eric juggle Hero/Lancer/6th status among the three of them for pretty much the entire season.
      • Power Rangers and Super Sentai are fond of this trope.
    • Arguably, in How I Met Your Mother, Robin is the Big Guy. She's one of the two least emotional characters in the show and is the only one that carries a gun. Though referred to as The Chick on their page is really is none of the things associated with The Chick.
    • Sophie, the heroine of Tales of Graces is definitely The Big Guy. She's rather quiet and her throwing Pascal across the room is more or less a Running Gag.
    • Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman from Justice League probably count, especially Hawkgirl.
  • Is it really unavoidable in a Five-Man Band that there would be one character who would be the favorite of everyone? I mean, in Gatchaman, Joe is a lot more famous than Ken.
  • Why is that no one can seem to make up their mind over what The Chick is? The original definition ("mostly useless token female") might not have been the most flattering one, but at least it's a genuine trope. Now, The Chick is the token girl, the weakest member, the ditziest member, the Team Mom, the "girliest" member, the "moral center", The Medic, the Designated Victim, the Love Interest, or seemingly whatever else the troper in question wants them to be. It's the wastebasket taxon of the Five-Man Band. And while making it gender-neutral might've been done to make the trope seem less sexist, it just made things worse - why is the weak/ditzy/useless one called "The Chick" if it has nothing to do with the character's sex?
    • The trope as it is now is still suffering from all the additions made to it, but the general role of the chick is supposed to be the "moral center" as a sort of team psychiatrist, trying to keep them from killing each other. In an action show, promoting peace when Violence Is The Only Answer is counterproductive. That is why The Chick has negative implications. The problem with the "mostly useless token female" definition is that it says every token female is useless. While it may be accurate of many chicks, that is due to bad writing and not the trope itself.
    • Nowadays, the classical definition is almost becoming a Dead Horse Trope, so, the alternative definition is more like "a (usually female) character as powerful as the others, but that doesn't really want to hurt/kill other people, in a setting where doing so is required". I'd make a subtrope and name it The Orihime.
    • To this troper, the most common definition for The Chick just seems to be The Female Who Least Fits Into Another Role - seriously, even in cases where a female version of The Chick seems more like The Lancer or The Smart Guy, they still end up as The Chick.
    • The problem is, the whole 'token girl' deal is a Dead Horse Trope left over from the Trope Maker, before the days when you had to give girls a more prominent role and actual personalities. Thus we have to make something out of it.
    • To this Troper, The Guy that Knows that Fighting is Wrong, So Becomes the Moral Center, is The Smart Guy. S/He's smart enough to know when it's wrong to fight. The Chick is the useless one, because I see more useless characters who are along "because they're a friend" then I do "Moral Center" characters.
  • So are they any Smart Guy X The Chick or any Big Guy X The Chick Plot? Coz it seem like only The Hero and The Lancer are getting The Chick.
  • Why exactly is this trope being hacked apart and reassembled to fit teams of three/seven/eight people, even (especially) when they don't truly fit the dynamic?
    • Obviously because we haven't invented a 7 or 8 man band ensemble. Mostly because that'd be redundant. Some number of groups can fit the Five-Man Band archetype if certain positions are removed or switched around like The Quiet One, The Medic, or The Tagalong Kid. An ensemble-phile like myself would love to see an 8 man band trope or a 7 man band trope, but I doubt they appear often enough.
    • There is The Magnificent Seven Samurai.
      • That's more of a specific plot than an ensemble.
  • The Instrument portrayals. I mean, where's the love for actual non-percussion band instruments! I'm talking mainly a Sexophone or a French Horn. Granted, The Hero could be portrayed by a Trumpet, with a Trombone being The Lancer, a Flute being The Chick, and a Tuba (or Sousaphone) representing The Big Guy.
  • Ever since I've found this trope, I've gotten a psychological need to fit the charecters I write into these roles, and thats only because the four temperments are more complicated. Right now I'm trying to force myself to create a charecter to be wedged into the main cast to fill the position of The Big Guy...TvTropesWillRuinYourLife, indeed.
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