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This equals five.

Common subtype of the Five-Man Band composed by starting with a Power Trio and adding some form of duo or a pair of Extra Rangers. While the five characters will generally still fit into some variation on the Five-Man Band archetypes, three of the characters will get decidedly more play.

In terms of plot, the core trio will generally have a relationship which pre-exists their introduction, while the remaining members are newcomers. Common archetypes for the non-core members include the Ace and the Old Master. Surprisingly, the Naive Newcomer is rarely one of the peripheral duo (as Naive Newcomer characters are usually given a more central role), but he can be a member of the core trio.

Even if the relationship between the core trio is not pre-existing, their bond will be immediate and close. You will find them interacting "off the clock" in a way you are less likely to see with the peripheral characters.

The Leader is liable to be a member of the core trio, but if he is not, expect the dominant member of the trio to be the Lancer, and expect serious rivalry between him and the leader.

When the core trio works for Heroes-R-Us, the setup will often involve the trio's higher-ups assigning two new members to a long-standing team because they have somehow overlooked the fact that this would cause serious friction. The band may alternatively be formed by the core trio absorbing another group, either rivals with a common goal or enemies making a Heel Face Turn.

Plots involving the Power of Friendship will focus on the core trio, while plots about teamwork will include the whole band. The two peripheral members may even duck out (via Heroic Sacrifice) before the Grand Finale.

The major advantage of this setup is that it covers the broad range of character types which makes the Five-Man Band a popular ensemble, but by relegating two members to the periphery, it prevents spreading the audience's time too thin, as is often a difficulty with large ensembles.

See also Cast Calculus.

Examples of Three Plus Two include:


Anime & Manga

  • Cowboy Bebop starring Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine and Jet Black! Oh, and also Ed and Ein.
  • Digimon Tamers had something more like three plus three - Those Two Guys and the love interest join the team, but the Power Trio never really loses the spotlight. Toss in one more traditional Sixth Ranger (or arguably two more) and another "plus one", and the final result is a cast of Four (or Five) plus Four.
    • Digimon Frontier, however, plays it a little more like Two Plus Three (Plus One). Takuya and Kouji are the first to get their Beast Spirits, first (by a long way) to get their Double Spirit Evolutions, and the only ones to get a Hyper Spirit Evolve, boosting them up to the Ultimate level. It's glaringly obvious in that, while they're in their Hyper forms, the other members of the Five-Man Band can only just stand around doing nothing.
    • Digimon Xros Wars, however, both played it straight and subverted it at the same time. Taiki, Akari and Zenjirou appear to be the three, with Nene and Kiriha as the Two. However, by the time that Kiriha and Nene have joined Xros Heart, Akari and Zenjirou are stuck in the real world, only being reunited when they return for the Grand Finale. So, in the end, Taiki, Kiriha and Nene serve as the Three, with Akari and Zenjirou as the Two.
  • Fairy Tail started with Lucy, Natsu, and Happy, but later Gray and Erza officially joined the team after tagging along enough times.
  • Fresh Pretty Cure! was previously a Three Plus One show, and for a while, fan theories have spread like wildfire as to whether there would be a fifth. It now becomes Four Plus Two, because of Westar and Soular's Heel Face Turn.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh has Yuri, Wolfram and Conrad, who have a much closer bond and spend more time together than with the other members of the Five-Man Band. When the Five-Man Band breaks up, the most often configuration is the trio going off on a mini-adventure, while Gwendal and Gunter man the castle.
  • The Littl' Bits has two examples within one gang: Willabit, Lillibit and Snagglebit plus Chip and Browniebit, or Snagglebit, Browniebit and Chip plus Willabit and Lillibit.
  • The three in Mahou Sensei Negima tends to be Asuna, Konoka and Setsuna. The plus two is usually Nodoka and Yue. That being said, this trope can shift about the cast, given its size.
  • In the first season of Ojamajo Doremi, Doremi, Aiko and Hazuki were the main trio, while Pop later came as a Tagalong Kid and Onpu as a Dark Magical Girl. Next season, Onpu became part of the main roster as the series went on. Pop, however, stayed in her position.
  • Outlaw Star, where Gene, Jim, and Melfina were the main crew of the Outlaw Star, and Suzuka and Aisha tended to act more like people who just happened to be traveling on the same ship.
  • The first season of Sailor Moon spent an inordinate amount of time with just Sailor Moon, Mars and Mercury. Jupiter and Venus came later. Of course, as the season progressed, the five became a true Five-Man Band. (Note that this is not the case in the manga or in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon; both had a trio for only a handful of episodes, added Jupiter quickly, and spent most of the arc with four before Venus showed up.)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's follows three plus two, then added a third to the main cast. In the beginning it was Yuusei, Jack and Aki, with the two being the twins Rua and Ruka. Later on, after Crow was introduced, it became Yuusei-Jack-Crow, with Rua-Ruka-Aki serving as their own trio.


Comics


Literature

  • The Harry Potter series naturally focused primarily on the Power Trio: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Starting in Order of the Phoenix, Ginny, Luna, and Neville became more involved in the central plot.
  • Part I of Kill Time or Die Trying has a Five-Man Band consisting of three first-year students and two much older guys.
  • The Fellowship from The Lord of the Rings comes across as a seven plus two, with Merry and Pippin more or less along for the ride.
    • You could even subdivide it further into three plus two plus two plus one: Aragron-Legolas-Gimli, Frodo-Sam, and Merry-Pippin, with Gandalf on his own.
  • For the first half of Remote Man, the main characters are Ned, his cousin Kate and his best friend Rocky. Their investigation leads them to make two further contacts, Cleverton from Jamaica and Yvette from France, thus cementing the Five-Man Band. Worth noting that, Ned and Rocky excepted, person-to-person contact between them is minimal - Ned spends a few weeks with Kate in Wakwak at the beginning, and she joins him and Rocky in Concord at the climax, but otherwise most of their communication is via chatrooms.
  • In the Power of Three arc of Warrior Cats, Jayfeather, Hollyleaf and Lionblaze form a Power Trio because they think they are three cats all-powerful cats spoken of in a prophecy. At the end, Jayfeather realizes that Hollyleaf is not the true third. Then in the Omen of the Stars arc, the true third Dovewing and her sister Ivypool team up with the others.


Live Action TV

  • Charmed was like this in the middle of its run, with the main power trio functioning as The Hero, The Lancer, and The Chick, going in birth order, while Leo and Cole were The Smart Guy and The Big Guy respectively.
  • The ICarly Power Trio of Sam, Freddie and Carly getting the most screen time, with Gibby and Spencer getting sub-plots, and occasionally being part of the main plot with the trio.
  • Knight Rider (2008): Mike, Sarah, KITT as the core, with Billy and Zoe as the periphery.
  • Inverted with Myth Busters; they end up being more like Two Plus Three. For the first season, it was just the Odd Couple of Adam and Jamie getting the focus. The Build Team were later given some of the spotlight, then spun off into their own team of "myth busters". Adam and Jamie are The Hero and The Lancer, with the Power Trio of the Build Team rounding out the band.
  • Some shows in the Super Sentai / Power Rangers franchise have started with three rangers instead of the usual team of five, usually a trio composed of Red, Blue and Yellow, who are then joined mid-series by at least two extra rangers (whose colors vary between shows).
    • Before Power Rangers, this was done once in the 1988 Super Sentai installment Liveman, where the original heroes of Red Falcon, Yellow Lion and Blue Dolphin were joined by Black Bison and Green Sai (Rhino) in Episode 30. This practice wouldn't be repeated until more than a whole decade later during the 2000s installments of the franchise.
    • Although Sun Vulcan was the first Sentai show to start with three members, unlike Liveman, there were no additional members that added up to five members; the team remained a trio throughout the show's entire run. On the other hand, the earlier series J.A.K.Q. started with four members and had an additional one later.
    • Hurricaneger/Ninja Storm: The Hurricanegers/Wind Ninjas form the main trio, with the Gouraigers/Thunder Ninjas (two brothers from a rival academy) joining later to form a team of five, and then an actual sixth ranger was added in the form of Shurikenger/Samurai Star Ranger.
    • Abaranger/Dino Thunder: The core trio were joined by Abare Black/Black Dino Ranger, who served as an older brother figure, and then Abare Killer/White Dino Ranger, a former villain who underwent a Heel Face Turn.
    • Gekiranger/Jungle Fury: The core trio, who are martial arts students, are joined by two masters named Geki Violet/Wolf Ranger and Geki Chopper/Rhino Ranger. Their two main rivals later switch sides, though only at the very end.
    • Go-onger/RPM: The original trio were joined by not one, but two pairs of extra rangers: Black & Green (who were treated as new members of the main teams) and Gold & Silver (twin siblings who were part of a separate team).
    • The main trio in Tokumei Sentai Gobusters are scheduled to be joined by Beet Buster and Stag Buster in the future, a pair of beetle-themed extra warriors much like the Gouraigers from Hurricaneger. While Beet is a human character, Stag is actually a robot.


Myths & Religion

  • Older Than Feudalism: The Pandavas in the Mahabaratha were the three sons of Kunti (Yudhisthira, Arjuna and Bhima) plus the twin sons of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva).


Toys

  • An odd example, but there was once a Simon Says-type of handheld game called Bop It that had three commands: "Bop It" ("bop" a large button), "Twist It" (turn a rotating handle), and "Pull It" (pull a telescoping handle on the other end). The follow-up, "Bop It Extreme", added "Spin It" (spin a wheel) and "Flick It" (flick a spring-loaded nub).


Video Games


Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender starts with Aang, Sokka and Katara, and later picks up Toph and Zuko to complete the band. Suki joins the main cast as a full member near the end.
  • In Beast Wars Optimus, Rattrap and Rhinox are the core trio, the leader and his two lieutenants (acting as the Kirk, The McCoy and the Spock, respectively). The three of them are in on all the secrets and will be trusted with things the others aren't. When Optimus is gone, leadership will generally be handled jointly by the two of them. Cheetor and Dinobot are the other two, Cheetor is trusted but because of his youth and inexperience he's still on the outside and is not involved in any decisions. Dinobot can't always be trusted because of his Predacon heritage and tendency to do some decidedly un-Maximal things and is thus also kept at a distance. There's a revolving door of "outsider" Maximals, but the three "insiders" remain Optimus, Rattrap and Rhinox for the whole run.
  • In Centurions, the core trio of Max Ray, Jake Rockwell and Ace McCloud is joined by new members Rex Charger and John Thunder in later episodes. However, this Merchandise-Driven variation of the trope has less to do with character dynamics than the toy company's desire to add new heroes to the action figure line.
  • Code Lyoko jumps back and forth. It starts off with Ulrich, Yumi, and Odd as the only action heroes (Aelita has no attacks and Jérémie is Mission Control). Then in season 3, Aelita Takes a Level in Badass, and later on the team picks up William. For about half of an episode anyway, before he gets semi-permanently possessed by XANA.
  • World of Quest has Two Plus Three. While all of the main characters except Anna share a past, the show is quite obviously focused on the interaction between Nestor and Quest.
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