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Like the good guys when it comes the Command Roster, when your Villain Protagonists are involved in a Caper, characters tend to fall into a number of roles. Unlike the Command Roster, however, some of the roles really depend on what kind of heist is going on, so the actual number of members and which jobs are included in the Badass Crew, are somewhat more variable than in the military example. Characters are also more likely to have more than one specialization, or some of the more specialized roles are farmed out to Satellite Characters who aren't really part of the main crew. Sometimes the crew will fall into a Five-Man Band, if it has the right amount of members.

Roles in the Caper Crew:

The Bosses:

  • The Mastermind: The leader, who gathered the crew, found the target, calls the shots and thought up the plan. Usually the most experienced in the business as well, and very respected by their crew otherwise they wouldn't be able to keep all these amoral people in line. Compare The Leader, The Chessmaster, The Captain. Likely to be The Legendary Thief for any New Kid who becomes a Mastermind.
  • The Partner In Crime: The leader's lancer, who assists The Mastermind in plan-making and usually almost equally as experienced. Depending on the nature of the crew, he might be the only one besides The Mastermind who actually knows what's going on. May overlap with other roles. Compare The Lancer, the Number Two.
  • The Backer: The Client who is paying for everything. Sometimes he has a deadline or is fussy in some other way that influences the crews actions. Usually only The Mastermind and his Partner interact much with him. There isn't always a backer though, sometimes the crew front the money themselves and fence it hoping to make back enough for a profit.

Tech Skill Roles:

  • The Hacker: The guy who hacks into computers and whatnot, very often a young kid who is a Playful Hacker or The Cracker. Sometimes he isn't a part of the team but just someone who another character has ties with.
  • The Gadget Guy: The Gadgeteer Genius who builds all the special stuff you need to break into the vault security or whatever it may be. In a smaller crew he will often overlap with The Hacker, or the crew may simply outsource the job to someone else they know offscreen.
  • The Coordinator: Basically Mission Control, and usually isn't a role so much as some other character will have this role on top of another, usually The Hacker or The Mastermind.

Thieving-Skill Roles:

  • The Conman: The guy who usually does most of the conning, acting and people manipulating using confidence tricks. Sometimes they are referred to as a Grifter. May also act as The Mole if it's necessary.
  • The Distraction: This role has a lot of versatility in how it is achieved, but it just comes down to distracting the dupes while their pals run off with their money (or whatever it is). May be a Femme Fatale seductress, or a really loud obnoxious guy, or even a bomb specialist.
  • The Burglar: May be a Classy Cat Burglar or some other form of savvy-thief, they are the person who infiltrates and helps themselves to the goods. May also be a safe-cracker but that is becoming less common as technology develops and most locks are electronic, requiring the more tech-oriented roles instead.
  • The Pickpocket: The guy who has the steadiest hands, performing any job that requires slight-of-hand stealing of security cards and the like. May be merged with one of the other Thieving roles, but if not then they may be a former Street Urchin.
  • The Roper: The Bait, who tells the tale to The Mark and positions him to be stung. May be a female seductress or other form of distraction.

Labor-Oriented roles:

  • The Driver: He drives the getaway vehicle, regardless of the surface or terrain. Compare the Ace Pilot.
  • The Muscle: The Brute or The Big Guy, he's around to help with carrying heavy things, beating people up, acting as a bodyguard or being threatening and menacing.
  • The Acquirer: Also known as The Scrounger, this guy comes up with whatever random thing the crew needs. He always knows a guy who knows a guy who has a cousin, and shows up with the right tool for the job, no matter how obscure or however vaguely established it is how he managed it.

Other Roles:

  • The New Kid: Basically an apprentice and Naive Newcomer. He's new and is learning from everyone. He probably has his own specialized skills, pulled some small jobs with another crew, but either way he isn't taken quite as seriously or respected as much as the other members of the crew. If he lasts long enough, the current Mastermind can become his mentor.
  • The Legendary Thief: Basically the Old Master of the mastermind, he's the go-to-guy when they get stuck. He's been around forever, knows everyone and is the absolute best at the game. Usually retired and sipping cocktails on the beach whenever he is approached.
  • The Searcher: Often the one who gets the ball rolling for the actual job. Unlike the Inside Man, and despite possessing some such capacities, they do not work for The Mark. They infiltrate the target quarters ahead of the crew, often in disguise, identify its key areas and hot spots, and inform the crew of what is likely to await them as they go to pull off the job. May influence the Mastermind's plans. The Mark may never ever see this particular member.
  • The Inside Man: If The Conman isn't acting as The Mole, then the team may have one of these. A guy who works for the people being robbed, assisting the robbers with codes or secrets or whatever it is they need to get in. May be an actual member of the crew from the start, recruited later, or be no longer working for them anymore.
  • The Fall Guy: On occasion, the team may have one of these, who sometimes falls under the Naïve Newcomer or New Meat category. This person is someone that the team finds useful but also expendable, and willingly give up to the police in exchange for either their own immunity, or to buy them some more time if the plan goes awry.

Compare Command Roster, The Caper. A subtrope of Badass Crew.


Anime and Manga

  • Lupin III and his gang practically embody this trope.
    • Lupin: The Mastermind + Coordinator of the group's activities, he's also their Gadget Guy, a master Con Artist, and an accomplished Pickpocket. See also: Master of Disguise.
    • Jigen: Lupin's right hand man and lifelong Partner In Crime. Also serves as the Driver and the Muscle.
    • Goemon: The group's other Muscle, though he's an impossibly skilled swordsman rather than a thug.
    • Fujiko: Lupin's on-again/off-again gal pal. Occasional Partner in Crime and a highly skilled Cat Burglar, but has been known to serve as the Distraction or their Inside Woman when the job requires it.


  • Inception: Dom is the Mastermind, Saito is the Backer, Arthur is the Partner in Crime, Ariadne is the New Kid, Yusuf is the Gadget Guy, Eames is the Con Man. Yusuf and Arthur mostly share Distraction duties, though that's more a function of how the movie's particular heist is set up than a general role thing.
  • Sneakers: Bishop is the Mastermind, Crease is the Partner in Crime, Carl is the Burglar/Safe Cracker, the Hacker, and was presumably the New Kid a few years ago, Whistler is the Gadget Guy, and Mother is the Coordinator and the Driver.
  • Ocean's Eleven (2001):
    • Danny Ocean: The Mastermind / The Distraction
    • Rusty Ryan: The Partner in Crime / The Coordinator
    • Reuben Tishkoff: The Backer
    • Livingston Dell: The Hacker
    • Basher Tarr: The Gadget Guy
    • Saul Bloom: The Conman (The Distraction in Thirteen)
    • The Amazing Yen: The Burgler, due to his acrobatic skill
    • Linus Caldwell: The Pickpocket / The New Kid
    • Virgil and Turk Malloy, "The Twins": The Driver / The Muscle
    • Frank Catton: The Inside Man
  • In the sequels, we have:
    • Tess Ocean: The Distraction (Twelve)
    • Gaspar LeMarque: The Legendary Thief (Twelve)
    • Terry Benedict: The backer (Thirteen)


  • In Donald E Westlake's Dortmunder novels Dortmunder is the Mastermind, Kelp is the Partner In Crime, Murch is the Driver, and Tiny Bulcher is the Muscle.
  • Mistborn has a fairly odd crew. Kelsier is the Mastermind, Yeden is the Backer, Dockson is the Coordinator, Ham is the Muscle and Vin is the New Kid, but Clubs is sort of a Concealer (he uses his copper Allomancy to hide the others' Allomantic signatures) and Spook uses his Super Senses to be a Lookout. Also, Kelsier doubles as the Distraction, a second Muscle, and the Burglar.
  • Heist Society and it's sequel Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter does this. The roles are generally the same - we have Katarina as the Mastermind, Hale as The Partner in Crime, Simon fills all the Tech Roles, Gabrielle is the combination of The Distraction (very much so) and The Burglar/Pickpocket, we have the Bagshaw brothers as The Muscle, Nick is the New Kid/Pickpocket and The Mole in Heist Society and dear old Uncle Eddie as The Legendary Thief.

Live Action TV

  • Leverage has a Grifter (Conman+ Distraction), Hitter (Muscle and Driver), a Thief (Pickpocket and Safe Cracker), a Hacker (Hacker and Gadget Guy) and The Mastermind who doubles as The Backer.
    • I'm not sure I'd call Nate a Backer, as he doesn't really have any more money than anyone else -- in fact, except for the "paying for everything" thing, it almost seems like the client-of-the-week is Leverage's Backer (as they're the ones who set the overall mission constraints). Also, Nate and Hardison generally share the Coordinator role, and Hardison is probably more likely to be the Distraction than anyone but Sophie.
  • Human Target: Ames (acting as The New Kid and The Burglar) gets roped into one of these; her job is to snake her way through the airducts & disable the security system. Chance goes in too, taking the place of "Mr. Chicago" - who he later discovers is the "cleaner." It's his job to kill everybody involved with the heist so the Mastermind doesn't have to pay them anything.
  • Hustle (original crew, as I haven't seen any of the later seasons): Mickey is the Mastermind, Stacey is the Distraction, Ash is the Hacker, the Gadget Guy, and the Safe Cracker, and the Driver. Danny is the New Kid. Albert and Stacey take turns acting as the Partner in Crime; everyone except Ash takes turns as the Conman.
  • Mission Impossible's cast always fit into one or more of these roles.
  • In Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang, the senior leadership of Deep Space Nine decides to steal $1 million from the hotel count room.
    • The Mastermind - the whole crew contributes in theory. Truthfully, when the Retired Thief joins, it becomes his plan.
    • The Partner In Crime - since the whole crew is involved, they all fit. Miles O'Brien and Dr. Bashir stand out, since they were there when the mob arrived.
    • The Backer - Vic, whose risking both his own "life" (his memories of the crew, wince this is a hologram with safeties on, they won't lose anything), and supplying the High Roller distraction with his nest egg.
    • The Coordinator - the lack of this role OS noticeable when the plan goes badly.
    • The pickpocket - Rather inverted with Bashir; he slips Ipecac into a martini.
    • The Distraction - most of the crew do this job, in different ways.
      • Vic is hanging out with the High Roller, they're distracting the casino customers.
      • Kira is hanging out with Mickey-eyes, the new boss.
      • Cassidy is "drunk" and telling the guard that...
      • Miles has stolen her chips, but he says he's innocent.
    • The Burglar - Nog is a safecracker, using his Ferengi hearing to listen to the tumblers.
    • The muscle - Odo is the one who will carry out a suitcase full of $1 million, and make it look easy.
    • The Retired Thief - they need one more person to do the role of High Roller, but noone seems interested. An earlier conversation convinces Sisko to join them, and he takes over from there.

Video Games

  • Covert Action requires the Player Character to uncover criminal plans -- that is, who participates and what exactly they are supposed to do -- and upon collecting full incriminating information either arrest them or blackmail into cooperation. Roles other than Mastermind vary depending on which of 13 basic plots is used -- there are Inside Contact, Middleman, Courier, Driver, Mercenary, Kidnapper, Researcher, Alarm Specialist, Thief, Assassin and so on.
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