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Believe it or not, the Badass and Action Survivor are not so different that they can't share the spotlight in the same story together.

When both are paired they create an Action Duo similar to Sensitive Guy and Manly Man and Red Oni, Blue Oni; only these two will be practically opposites in just about every possible trait, most notably combat skill. The Badass is of course Made of Iron, skilled at brawling and shooting, and (though maybe "getting too old for this shit") brave enough to wade through any firefight. However, he will often be saddled by the plot with baby-sitting the Action Survivor, who can (at best) run and dodge extremely well, through endless firefights that may be targeted at him. If the Non-Action Guy at least manages to compensate by being The Smart Guy, you have Brains and Brawn. On the other hand, if the Badass sacrificed a basic skill for their awesome training, the Action Survivor will help round them out. Expect these disparities and constant action to make them Vitriolic Best Buds.

The plot usually requires the Badass either protect the Action Survivor as they try to escape a Closed Circle, or with an Escort Mission with the Survivor as a Living MacGuffin. Occasionally, the Survivor takes up the role of Sidekick and "sells" his skills as useful to the Badass on his mission. They usually form a working partnership, even becoming friends.

Examples of Action Duo include:


Comic Books


  • Jack Traven and Annie Porter in Speed.
  • John McClane and Matthew Farrell in Live Free or Die Hard
  • Tallahassee and Columbus in Zombieland
  • Beck and Travis Walker from The Rundown
  • Neville Flynn and Sean Jones (you know, the two male leads) in Snakes on a Plane. Sean does shape up, though, when the snakes threaten the remaining passengers while Neville is off fixing the plane.
  • Col. Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson have some elements of this in the original Stargate movie. O'Neill spent most of the film just wanting to blow everything to hell, while Jackson was basically wondering what the hell was going on. They avert this in the series, however, when Daniel took a level.
  • Edward and Bella during the action sequences in the Twilight movie.
  • Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski and Nicholas 'Oz' Ozeransky, The Whole Nine Yards
  • John Mason and Stanley Goodspeed in The Rock
  • Roy Miller and June Havens, Knight and Day
  • Optimus Prime (or basically every other Autobot) and SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM Sam in the Transformers films.
  • In Real Men CIA agent James Belushi shanghais insurance agent John Ritter as a stand-in for an identical agent who was assassinated en route to communicate with aliens. They switch roles to some extent by the end of the film.
  • Pedro and Nico from Rio.


  • Clear and Present Danger has Jack Ryan as the Action Survivor. Towards the end he teams up with a soldier who's more of an Action Hero.
  • In several of the Vorkosigan Saga novels, Miles Vorkosigan and his cousin Ivan Vorpatril make up this team: Miles does the stratetic thinking while Ivan is dragooned into helping him and doing the physical stuff which the brittle-boned Miles can't.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • Agents Archer and Kestrel in Splinter Cell: Conviction.
  • Snake and Meryl in Metal Gear Solid. Or Snake and Otacon in the final level if you let Meryl die.

Web Comics

Western Animation