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The tendency, as seen in various comic books and video games, to make the one female character The Archer or a Squishy Wizard, and give the burliest male character a giant melee weapon. In comic books, especially Marvel Comics in the 60's and 70's, female characters were often given powers that were ranged or unconventional enough to let them avoid direct melee combat. Apart from being realistic, part of this is due to cultural taboos against showing women getting hit. It may also have to do with the fact that a skimpy costume looks more plausible on someone who isn't in melee. While Action Girls have long since become commonplace these days, heroines are still more likely to have ranged powers than the guys.

Together, a Melee Male and a Missile Maid may form a Battle Couple. The classic pairing of a caster and a basher is Sword and Sorcerer. Occasionally mutates into the Two Guys and a Girl form of Fighter, Mage, Thief.

Examples of Guys Smash, Girls Shoot include:


Anime and Manga

  • Inverted in Digimon Adventure 02 with the antagonists Arukenimon and Mummymon. The former is skilled in close range attack and can go head-to-head with Paildramon, while the latter provides powerful long ranged attack and support with his laser gun.
  • From Inuyasha we have Kagome on the bow shooting magic arrows, and the title character on the sword 'n claws, slashing stuff up.
    • Justified in that she's an ordinary (aside from the spiritual powers she inherited via Reincarnation), untrained human girl from the modern age, and he's a demon. Also inverted with Sango and Miroku.
  • Shannon and Raquel Casull in Scrapped Princess. Shannon is a swordsman, Raquel is a sorceress.
  • Played with in Nanoha Striker S: between Subaru and Teana, the tomboyish Subaru is a melee fighter and the more feminine Teana is a ranged shooter.
  • Yajiro and Rushuna in Grenadier.
  • In Black Lagoon, Hansel uses an axe, and Gretel uses a really big gun. Then again, we don't know what gender either of them actually is. They even switch roles.
  • Inverted in Mahou Sensei Negima with Negi as the ranged mage and Asuna as the martial artist/swordsman in front...initially. Even after Negi starts taking levels in badass and starts fighting up-close, though, Asuna remains on the frontline. The rest of the non-muggles in Negi's all-female class are also mixed between melee fighters (Kuu Fei, Setsuna...), ranged support (Konoka, Kazumi...), and all-around badasses (Kaede and Mana, mainly).
  • Lina (Mage) and Gaurry (Swordsman) in The Slayers. Probable aversion, given that Lina is no slouch with a sword herself.
  • Inverted in Appleseed: Deunan is only a very average size woman, while her Battle Couple boyfriend Briareos is an 8 feet tall cyborg. Deunan is the far more hot headed of the two and always goes in first while Briareos covers her from the back.
  • In Naruto, Tenten plays this straight with her enormous arsenal of ranged weapons, as does Temari with her fan. However, most of the other female characters avert this, particularly Sakura and Tsunade, who both pack a huge punch and both are seen getting hit (and getting up from said hits) multiple times.
  • Inverted in Gunslinger Girl. The cyborgs, who are body-modified little girls are built for combat, so the usual way using them is to use them to trash enemies up and front, while the handler (usually adult males) is stay behind for support. When the handler rushes front for whatever reasons, it's usually don't end well.

Comics

  • G.I. Joe pairs sword-wielding Snake-Eyes with Scarlett and her crossbow and throwing stars. Also averted in that Snake isn't above using a gun when the situation calls for it, and Scarlett is such a good hand-to-hand combatant that she was the early team's martial arts instructor.
  • In Body Bags, Mack "Clownface" Delgado and his daughter Panda. Mack dual wields huge knives, Panda uses various firearms.
  • In Preacher (Comic Book), Jesse Custer and his best mate Cassidy beat people up, while Jesse's girlfriend Tulip guns them down.
  • Inverted with Green Arrow and Black Canary when they are teamed up.

Film

  • Blade: Trinity. Action Girl Abigail Whistler uses a compound bow while the title character has a sword.
  • In Star Wars Attack of the Clones has Anakin who wields a lightsaber, and Padme who uses a blaster.
    • Of the main characters in the Star Wars movies, the only ones who use lightsabers are all male. In the original trilogy, Leia is the only one whose blaster bolts never miss. However, there are female lightsaber-wielding Jedi in minor supporting roles.
  • Inverted in The Cabin in the Woods: When Marty and Dana are trying to get out of the underground facility beneath the cabin, Marty gets his hands on two weapons. He keeps the gun for himself... and gives the knife to Dana. The inversion is omewhat justified in that Dana, who had to either survive or be killed last in order for the ritual to work, was marginally safer - except that neither of them knew that at the time.
  • Inverted in The Avengers: Black Widow is a good shot but an even better martial artist, while Hawkeye is good at martial arts but phenomenal with a bow.
  • Inverted in Snow White and the Huntsman: When Snow White fights in the climactic battle, she does so with sword and shield while her childhood friend William spends the entire movie fighting with bow and arrow.

Literature

Live Action Television

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons source-book art sometimes does this. Caster classes are much more likely to be female (and clad in a revealing costumes), while the people wearing plate and bashing people are usually male (though in third edition, there was the female paladin and male sorcerer). Averted in actual play due to Purely Aesthetic Gender
  • A good straight example and an aversion are found in the Pathfinder core rule-book with the female sorcerer and the female paladin, respectively.
    • The female Barbarian in said book is a good aversion - she's holding a BFS that's bigger than she is, and larger than some interior doors.

Video Games

  • Trine has the Thief (bow), Knight (Flaming Sword (eventually)), and Wizard (Wreaking Havok).
  • Torchlight has these archetypes (although the class roles are technically flexible).
  • Infinite Undiscovery, Aya has a bow and tiny dagger, Capell a gladius.
  • Diablo has a similar arrangement.
  • WarCraft III:
    • Night Elves have only two melee units, one is male, the other presumably so. All their ranged units (save one) are female. Their heroes are two male, two female for both ranged and melee.
    • Humans, Naga and Undead have only one female unit, which is ranged. Female heroes for these races are all ranged.
  • In the second Viewtiful Joe game, his girlfriend Sylvia is playable as a secondary character (rather than being a bonus mode as in the first) and uses a gun instead of punches.
  • Initially played straight in Chrono Trigger where the Unlucky Childhood Friend uses guns and the Rebellious Princess uses bows. Then averted by the cavewoman who simply uses Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • Both Gender Flipped and played straight in Final Fantasy XIII:
    • Lightning and Fang are your melee girls. Sazh and Hope are your distance missile guys.
      • Lightning and Sazh do a good job switching roles, as well. When your party consists of Lightning and Fang, for example, Lightning is going to be your caster of choice, while when you have Vanille and Sazh, Sazh'll be taking care of melee.
    • Snow is a straight up melee guy and Vanille is a straight up distance spellcaster.
    • Played straight in a lot of the Final Fantasy games, where not everyone can use everything.
      • Final Fantasy IV: Rosa uses a bow, and is the only character who does so, and all three female characters are mages. Note that Gilbert/Edward/Spoony uses a harp.
        • Note that Edward and Paladin!Cecil can use bows, as can Palom and Porom, but there's usually little reason to equip them thusly. The bow and arrow is actually the most usable weapon in the game, with rods (usable by Rydia, Tellah, Palom and Porom) being a close second. Rosa is the only character restricted to bow use, which in turn makes use of her "Aim" skill.
      • Final Fantasy VI: Terra: Mage warrior, female. Locke: Thief with ranged weapons. Edgar: Uses ranged technology. Sabin: Physical fighter with magical attacks, making for a One Stat to Rule Them All/Dump Stat situation. Mog: Mage in the early game, physical late-game. Shadow: Can be either, but he does ranged attacks too. Gau: Does both, through Difficult but Awesome Mega Manning. Celes: Just like Terra, only slightly worse because Terra's that awesome, female. Setzer: Ranged attacks. Strago: Mage, the only male one. Relm: Spoony bard, female, has good magic stats. Gogo: Can do anything, gender unknown. Umaro: So physical that he's uncontrollable, even spoonier than Relm.
      • Final Fantasy VII is an interesting exception: Of the three dedicated missile fighters, Barret and Vincent are male while Yuffie is female, but the hand-to-hand combatist and the dedicated mage, Tifa and Aerith respectively, are female.
      • Final Fantasy VIII mixes and matches. All of the female antagonists use ranged attacks, and all of the male antagonists have at least one melee attack, but there's one ranged and two melee attackers of each gender among the six main characters, and one melee and two ranged attackers among the three males played in flashbacks.
      • Final Fantasy IX continues the trend of exceptions: Two White Magician Girls (both of whom can use ranged attacks and summon magic) and a melee fighter round out the females, while the males have a thief, a black mage, a martial arts mercenary, and a knight. Quina's gender is unknown, and even called "s/he" throughout.
      • Final Fantasy X The females are a thief who uses melee attacks, a black mage with a ranged attack, and a standard White Magician Girl with a (uselessly weak) melee attack, who, like the two before, can use summon magic. The guys have physical attacks, but the ranged fighter is a guy.
        • In Final Fantasy X-2 how each character (All of whom are female) attacks depends on the dress-sphere (Job class) they use, but the default spheres- warrior, thief, and gunner- include two melee attackers and one ranged.
      • Women have higher magic stats in Final Fantasy Tactics; however, a male wizard and a female warrior have special classes, and you probably won't notice it much.
      • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's only female race, the Viera, have pretty much all magic and ranged classes, except the Fencer and Assassin. The sequel's Gria have more melee abilities, though one cheap way to win is to have a Gria Hunter fly to the highest point and have her shoot all the enemies.
  • Dragon Age: Origins plays this mostly straight. You can get up to eight members on your team; two men with huge swords, clubs or axes, one man with a dagger-sword combination, and one man with shield and sword filling the Tank role. Then there are two women who are mages and one who's intended as an archer. Shale is a woman who also fills a tanking role, but she looks like and sounds like a man, and is rather surprised to find out that she used to be a woman, thus making her gender rather forgettable.
    • However, the Expansion Pack Awakening averts this with the two rogue party members: the male rogue Nathaniel is better suited as an archer, and the female rogue Sigrun is meant to duke it out in melee (however, thanks to readily available Skill Point Resets in Awakening, you can re-spec them at any time). You also get one female sword and shield warrior, Mhairi.
      • The Witch Hunt DLC also pairs a female warrior with a male mage.
    • Dragon Age II again averts this with Aveline and Isabela--a brawny "Guardian" warrior and a swashbuckling Pirate Girl, respectively. Of the four ranged party members, only one is female (the mage Merrill).
  • Ness and Paula in Earthbound. However, the character whose physical attack is ranged is Jeff.
  • Averted in Romancing SaGa as any character can use Bows, but Claudia definitely fits this due to her High Battle Point (BP) and BP Regen at the end of the game and the high end techs for Bows use a large amount of BP, she even starts off with a bow.
    • Her bodyguard, Gray, uses a sword as his default weapon, though. Even moreso if you play as him, since Falcata, his ultimate weapon, is a katana.
  • The dual plotlines in Threads of Fate centered around a male and female protagonist, respectively. The girl specialized in long-range magical attacks, although she was also equally competent with her Rings of Death.
    • Ironically enough Mint is very proud of her dropkick and it's her first resort in cutscenes on anything that she can get near to, even things that she would be better off nuking from a distance.
  • In Disgaea, Etna's default weapon is a spear (semi-ranged) and she is shown using a gun in cutscenes. However, she's still much more melee-oriented than Flonne, the White Magician Girl / Archer / Battle Mage. The female Player Mooks have a variety of proficiencies as well depending on job class.
  • The Super Robot Wars series does this fairly often. The KoRyuOh in Alpha, canonically piloted by Brooklyn, is Primarily Melee-oriented while Kushua's RyuKoOh form uses ranged magic. In Compact 2/Impact, You have the paired team of Kyosuke (Alt Eisen) and Excellen (Weiss Ritter), which is repeated in Alpha 2 with Arado (Wildwurger) and Seolla (Wildfalken).
    • Similarly, entries with a choice of protagonists will often assign the female to the Fragile Speedster Real Robot whereas the male pilots the brawny Super-type. Indeed, Kusuha is pretty much the ONLY female in the series solely associated with super robots (though Z2's lack of a super robot original and Esther's nagging implications of importance may lead to her getting one as well).
  • In '7Blades', the player can choose between two playable characters - a guy with a sword (or seven, per the title) or a girl with a gun, which she nicknames 'Kittykat'
  • Partially invoked by Golden Axe. The Amazon, Tyris Flare has a long-sword, but is the weakest of the three characters in combat, and is much better with her screen-clearing magic attacks. The Dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead, and Barbarian Ax Battler have quite a few more direct attacks, but weaker magic.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - The Prince wields a large sword and the dagger of time, Farah uses a bow.
  • In The Legend of Zelda games, particularly Wind Waker, Spirit Tracks, and Twilight Princess, Princess Zelda fires off Light Arrows to stun the final boss so that Link can slash away at it with his sword.
  • The relationship of Vanguard-Reyvateil as a Battle Couple in Ar tonelico series is this. Male vanguard attacks enemies at close range while female reyvateil shoots magic from afar.
  • In Ogre Battle, the starting male class is a swordsman, while the starting female class is an archer. In general, males are better in the front row, though at the most advanced classes, they get some use in the back row.
  • Though all three of the playable characters in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep wield keyblades for melee attacks, Aqua, the lone female, is singled out as being an exceptional mage, and most of her unique moves and abilities are spell based.
  • Seen as a tendency in League of Legends in which just under half of the ranged champions are female, while a bit less than a fifth of melee champions are female. The effect is even stronger in "carry" types in which the majority of ranged carries are female, but the three melee carries are male. The release of Leona, a female champion who was intended to be a tank, noted the lack of fulfilling the category with a lady. Inversely, Graves met a popular demand for a masculine ranged carry (at the time, the male ranged carries were a rat, a midget in a helicopter, and a Cosmic Horror child of an unclear gender visually [though referred to as male]).
    • However, Poppy, Irelia, Akali, Shyvana and Riven are melee-ranged champions. The overwhelming majority of the close-rangers are still males, though.
  • The classes of MMO Dragon Nest sort of falls into this. The male classes, Fighter and Cleric, are both pretty up close and physical. Meanwhile, the female classes are Archer and Sorceress, who are both mostly ranged.
  • Super Mario 3D Land has Boom Boom and Pom Pom, the Dragons of the game. Boom Boom attacks with his fists while Pom Pom throws boomerangs.
  • The World of Warcraft player base seems to have taken it to heart. The World of Warcraft Census Survey found that women disproportionately favor ranged roles in the game.
  • Your initial party in Blaze Union works like this, featuring Garlot the (lance-wielding) knight, Jenon the swordsman, and Siskier the archer. From the point the party begins to expand, though, you accumulate lots of heavy-hitting melee ladies and a couple of ranged-fighter men.
  • Inverted in Fallout: New Vegas. Your humanoid male companions are a mechanic who uses revolvers, a Cold Sniper, and a doctor who uses energy weapons. Your humanoid female companions are a mutant assassin who uses a helicopter blade as a BFS, a scavenger armed with a Power Fist, and a cowgirl with a Short-Range Shotgun.
  • In Max Payne 2, Max's signature weapon is a Beretta pistol, a fairly short-range, close combat weapon. Mona's signature weapon is a sniper rifle.
  • Mass Effect 2 is a shooter, so technically everyone shoots, but the two characters most suited for close combat (Grunt and Zaeed) are male. The only female that gets close to her targets does it by teleporting behind them, delivering a deadly backstab, and teleporting back.
    • Inverted with human teammates in Mass Effect 1. Ashley is a soldier, Kaidan is a support character better kept to the back ranks.

Webcomic

Western Animation

  • Averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender, where benders of both genders freely mix short-range and long-range attacks. Non-benders can be either. While Mai sticks to knife throwing, Ty Lee and Suki are both melee fighters. Sokka, the main non-bender on the good guy's team, fights at both distances (his signature weapons are a sword and a boomerang).
  • In Young Justice the male members of the team are either straight hand-to-hand combatants, or include hand-to-hand with their weaponry. The female members of the team, however, have telekinesis and a bow-and-arrow so they do not need to physically touch their opponents. This is more balanced come season 2, where melee female heroes are introduced to the Team in the 5 year gap.
  • Averted in an interesting way in Teen Titans with the Battle Couple of Robin and Starfire- he's a Badass Normal with an array of ranged and close-combat weapons, and she's a Flying Brick with both superstrength and the ability to fire energy blasts. Both are equally capable of smashing or shooting. For the rest of the team, Cyborg (who has superstrength and a sonic cannon) also does both, but Beast Boy's tends to turn into big, powerful animals to fight at close range, while Raven, though her mystical abilities make her probably the most powerful member of the team, tends to fight from a distance and stay out of direct combat. The Titans pretty much cover the whole spectrum of this trope.

Real Life

  • In many modern militaries, men are the ones who do the close-in fighting, while women, disallowed from such things, will fight using aircraft and the occasional sniper rifle.
  • Mostly averted, historically: bows used for war take a lot of strength to use, and so most archers were fairly muscular men. Polearms were more considered "female" weapons in some countries, and can be considered to "distance" the wielder from combat in the manner of the trope, though, such as the Naginata from Japan, which was popular among the women of samurai households because the sharp blade and long shaft took away the strength advantage men had.
    • Ohh My!
    • Mongolian tradition, as explained by the lady who was the archery champion there, has "three manly sports": horse racing, wrestling and archery. Women don't wrestle, but put a lot of effort in the other two. And yes, those are composite bows with 50-60 pounds draw even in modern sport.

Notes

  1. particularly Green Ajah, since they're the combat specialists
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