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"A Jack of All Trades, who is incompetent in all of them."
Black Mage, on Red Mage, Eight Bit Theater

One of the classic and most common character types in gaming is the generalist, a jack-of-all-trades with capabilities in all fields and no particular weaknesses. But specialization has advantages, so it takes a deft touch to ensure that the generalist has reasons for being used.

Sometimes it simply doesn't work. They aren't completely useless at anything they try, but they're not good at it either. They have no particular weakness or vulnerability, but that's offset by the fact that they're vulnerable to everything. That character is a Master Of None.

Master Of None is the dark side of the Jack of All Stats, where their weakness is the fact that they have no strengths. The Magic Knight is easy to make a Master of None, if the game makers want to encourage specialisation. If Master of None is part of a band or Multiform Balance, it's often has some useful ability (for example, Super Not-Drowning Skills) that prevent them from become Joke Character, it's just that the ability isn't very versatile.

Compare with Crippling Overspecialization at the other extreme, for the character who's great at one thing, but horrible at everything else. Contrast with the Lightning Bruiser, who is very good at everything. Occasionally a Master Of None is made intentionally as part of Multiform Balance, as a stepping stone to stronger forms including a true Jack of All Stats.

For the novel, see here.

Gaming Examples:

Tabletop Games

  • Bards in Dungeons and Dragons edition 3.5 have a medium base attack bonus (without the cleric's Divine Power spell, the druid's wild shape, or the rogue's sneak attack to augment it) and lower than full spell casting progression, neither really meshing with the other (as opposed to, for example, the assassin Prestige Class, who gains spells like invisibility, that allows it to land its sneak attack ability constantly). This is only true in the core however, as Bards get great support in supplements that makes them a tier 3 class (considered the ideal balance point), oddly by specializing. The first edition bard was oddly Magikarp Power.
    • Mystic Theurges, Red Mages who cast both arcane and divine spells are another example, suffering from stunted casting in a game where casters grow exponentially, loss of the benefits of each casting type (divine magic can be cast in armor, but arcane magic has a decent chance of spell failure, so a MT shouldn't wear armor like a pure divine caster), and unless the build is Wizard/Archivist/Mystic Theurge or Sorcerer/Shugenja/Mystic Theurge, they need to buff two attributes to be able to cast high level spells.
      • It is worth noting that virtually all casters, "gimped" or not, in 3.5 are horribly broken and only really underpowered in comparison to other full casters; while mystic theurges are "underpowered" before they actually become a theurge (mostly due to the requirements of levelling up two caster classes seperately), once they hit 3rd-4th level spells they become broken like all casters do due to save or suck powers and abilities which break the game. The same is true of the bard, who, thanks to having a few enchantment-type save or suck spells, is similarly problematic.
    • M.A.D. (Multiple Attribute Dependence) kills many attempts at jacks.
    • An even less powerful Master of None is the 3E monk, mainly because it gets a mishmash of abilities that don't synergize - notably, high speed combined with attacks that only work while standing still. Among others, it gets many attacks with a moderate chance to hit and low damage, decent defenses but no ability to wear armor, good damage while grappling, but poor ability to actually grapple, and a good list of skills but lack of points to actually improve them with. They also has a severe case of M.A.D. - they need Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom to work properly.
    • The Psionics Handbook Soulknife got particularly badly hit with this. It's a melee class that is forced to use a single weapon (the soulknife), which deals pitiful damage and needs pre-emptive action (and feats) to be shaped into a useful form. The class also has medium BAB, and nerfed versions of the bonus damage ability of the rogue (without its skill selection) or the monk's mobility (without stunning fist or all its flavour abilities), while being limited to medium armour. At 13th level it gets the Knife to the Soul ability, which would make it useful for hunting spellcasters or killing fighters by ability damage... Provided the targets survive long enough to be permanently inconvenienced by repeated applications instead of dying by HP loss, and provided they don't just kill the soulknife first, both scenarios being more likely.
    • Medium armor. All the speed penalties of heavy armor while offering, at best, one extra point of AC bonus compared to light armor. At worst, they offer protection equal to light armors while being heavier, with lower maximum dexterity bonuses and higher skill penalties. The only decent medium armor is a heavy armor made of Mythril, which makes it count as a medium armor.
    • A general rule of thumb in Dungeons and Dragons is that it's better to have a few skills with maximum skill ranks than a lot of skills with a few skill ranks. The baseline for success is often drawn with the assumption that you have maximum skill ranks for that level and a favourable ability score, especially for rogue-centric skills like Search or Disable Device. The exception is skills that lack scaling opposition and to meet requirements, but only a handful (Movement skills, which are redundant in a system that assumes flight by mid level) exist.
    • YMMV, depending on Dungeon Master. Some DMs will challenge the players to make character as powerful as possible and then balance the enemies accordingly (a first level fighter can have a +6 bonus to hit, so only include enemies with at least 16 AC to keep the player from getting bored; anyone who doesn't start with +6 to hit isn't playing right, or shouldn't expect to hit anything). Some DMs will include enemies of the appropriate difficulty (i.e. laughably easy by munchkin standards), and then mock the munchkin who brutally overkills the kobolds - because that Spoony Bard is also taking them down in one hit, and he didn't have to sacrifice basic skills in order to do it. The latter situation is especially likely to make the munchkins suffer, as their hideously low Dump Stats prevent them from passing the random skill checks that any normal character could pass with ease.
    • An in-universe example: In D&D, each race of genies has a powerful connection to one of the four elements (djinn for air, efreet for fire, marid for water, dao for earth)--except for the jann, who are connected to all four elements but are the weakest of the genies.
    • The Dungeonscape sourcebook introduces a new class, the Factotum, but the sheer ammount of versatility the class brings with proper planning pushes it closer into Jack of All Stats in all but the most powerful of games.
  • Warhammer 40000 has a number of units that fit this trope, being intended to serve as general purpose troops but failing to fill any of those roles.
    • Unfortunately (or fortunately, considering their status as the Creator's Pet) The current Vanilla Space Marines codex makes them fall under this. While they have a ton of varied units for nearly every combat situation, other more specialized armies can do the same but better and more efficiently (example: Blood Angels and Space Wolves are far superior at close combat, Imperial Guard have better vehicles, Tau and Dark Eldar are better at shooting and speed, while Grey Knights are just better than everyone else. Its gotten to the point where the Vanilla Space Marines are only considered mid-tier at beast compared to other more specialized armies.
    • Eldar Guardians are a perfect example of this trope - the generalist unit in an army of specialists. Theoretically, they can provide anti-personell firepower, anti-vehicle firepower, and close assault support. But unlike true generalist units like Space Marine Tactical squads, they are terrible at all of these roles. Their ranged weapons rely on volume of fire, but due to their short range and the typical Eldar fragility they are rarely able to actually meet that potential. They are limited to a single anti-vehicle weapon with mediocre accuracy, with a large minimum squad size that will sit around uselessly while the anti-vehicle weapon fires. They are easily defeated in assault because everything else has a better stat-to-points-cost ratio.
  • The Eclipse Caste of the Solar Exalted (and their Infernal and Abyssal variants, the Fiends and Moonshadows) are both this and the Minmaxers Delight, for entirely different reasons. On the one hand, several of their Caste abilities are woefully underdeveloped mechanically, making their core role as diplomats incredibly difficult to fulfill. On the other hand, their anima power allows them to learn the Charms of other beings, creating unintentional and game-breaking synergies that no one else has access to.
  • In the Digimon Collectible Card Game, Vaccine Digimon are strong against Virus Digimon, Virus Digimon are strong against Data Digimon, and Data Digimon are strong against nothing in particular. To compensate, Data Digimon have higher stats overall.
  • Halfling teams in Blood Bowl consist of the Mighty Glacier treemen, and the not-so-mighty halflings. Halflings have the movement speed of dwarfs comboed with the strength and durability of goblins, while lacking the latter's penchant for bringing illegal weaponry (bombs, chainsaws, pogo sticks... the works) onto the field as equalizers. Halflings only get general skills on doubles, meaning they'll be eating dirt a lot, and their treemen launchers have a tendency to take root and become immobile. They're widely considered to be one of the Joke Teams, the other being the Ogres, and only played as a Self-Imposed Challenge. That said, their discount on master chefs is worth it when you end up stealing all your opponent's rerolls... Even if they do crush half your roster into a fine red paste as payback.

Video Games

  • In the first and second Advance Wars, Andy was the Jack of All Stats and was a viable character because all his units were always evenly-powered, but with the massive introduction of lots of new characters and the revamping of one or two older ones, there were many many characters with advantages and no drawbacks, and these weren't even the Game Breaker characters. These drawbackless powers include extra vision in Fog of War and superior counterattacks, extra defence against ranged attacks, and several with bonuses on specific terrain, like plains, cities or roads.
    • In Advance Wars Days of Ruin, the ability to play without a CO character was added. This makes you even more of a Master of None than the characters that lack useful skills; you have nothing but your own ingenuity to fall back on.
  • Magic Knights in Disgaea have only a leveling speed of B in swords and a B in staffs (most classes have an S in their main type or at least an A for the initial ones) and needs to level them both up. The same goes for the angel class (a slightly better jack that has an A in staffs and swords). They get slightly better in the second game, but not much.
    • While it is true that Magic Knights are still at best mediocre fighters in the second game, they have become quite powerful mages.
    • Majins, however, are Lightning Bruisers who excel in everything, needing only a reincarnation/pupil to get spells if desired.
      • Although for some, their drawbacks of low Movement range (which can be overcome), and a paltry throw range of ONE SQUARE (which cannot) can be daunting.
      • In the first Disgaea game, Majins are the best class in the game at practically everything. Their only "drawback" being that they take an awful lot of Level Grinding to unlock, making them the character class equivalent of the Infinity+1 Sword. The sequels nerfed them somewhat, giving the player a reason to use other character classes alongside them.
  • Medium armor in The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind doesn't get any of the goodies that light and heavy get and without the expansions (where it is still weak) doesn't get a set comparable to last tiers of light/heavy armor. Not to mention that without the expansions, wearing the best set of medium armor in the game will make every guard in the largest city in the game attack you on sight.
  • Kratos/Zelos in Tales of Symphonia remain somewhat competent melee combatants throughout the game thanks to having the stats for it and ability to pull off a full combo, but they quickly lose in spell casting because they stop at level 2 spells (opposed to the exponentially more powerful level 3 spells Genis has) and casting does not synergize well with melee due to the rather lengthy start up times. They have decent supplemental healing though, thanks to it being based on percentage instead of fixed numbers.
    • They both have a special ability that lets them insta-cast Level 1 spells while they're doing an aerial combo though. And then there's spell canceling.
  • Ken in Persona 3 suffers from this as he doesn't excel at anything and has horrible AI that focuses on using Useless Useful Spell and can't be commanded to stop it without stopping half his options at the same time. His attack element is also zio and the (in Ken's own observation) superior zio user is often considered the best party member in the game (so he is redundant).
  • City of Heroes: Tri-Form Kheldians can easily fall into this trap if the player spreads their enhancement slots too thin rather than choosing to make certain powers better at the price of others.
  • Diablo II: The Druid is sometimes accused of being a Master of None. He uses elemental magic, nature summons, and has shapeshifting for melee. However, his magic is weaker than the sorceress', often with huge timers placed on them. His summons are limited to 1, 3, or 5 damaging minions, while the Necromancer can have somewhere around 40 skeletons total. His melee skills are up to the task, but since his were-forms have limited durations, he has to worry about turning back into a human mid-battle.
  • While every magic-user in Might and Magic VI could upgrade those magical skills they could learn to the highest rank, and so were only kept from mastery of magic or combat through what skills they could learn and how many hit points and spell points were received per level, VII to IX added the ability to restrict what rank the skill could be upgraded to. This made hybrids less powerful, as upgrading magic schools allowed the learning of new spells and enhanced old spells... though it also allowed some of them to become Masters of Something: yes, the archer might not be all that good a spellcaster, but being able to directly add to the damage done when attacking with a bow has its uses, the druid might only be second best in elemental or clerical magic, but can have more spell points than anyone, etc.
  • The War Magi in Etrian Odyssey suffer from this: they can cast healing-magic and buffs, but lack the more effective versions for those spells. They can equip swords, but they don't have many attack skills, and the few they have are woefully situational (stunning an enemy afflicted with Sleep?) Their stats aren't very helpful, either. Your best bet with a War Magus is to just choose a job and have them specialize in it, ironically, but even then, they'll be a sub-par healer/buffer/attacker. Their Cursecut/Transfer combo, on the other hand, redeems them, if only because it'll save you trips to the inn after your Medics/Bards/Landsknechts run out of TP.
    • Likewise, the Beast class. They can be used for a combination of offensive and defensive strategies...but, they don't really excel in either role, thanks to the combination of poor skills and lack of decent armor.
  • Shining Force: Arthur starts out as a Master of None, at least until his Magikarp Power kicks in. He's a fighter with some spells, but for the first several levels after getting him, he dies in two hits, barely does more than Scratch Damage, and has only level 1 spells.
  • Back in the day, this was a huge problem for hybrids in World of Warcraft, especially in Player Versus Environment gameplay. Druids made for completely awful tanks, physical DPS, magic DPS and were also slightly subpar in healing. Shaman could heal okay, but again, didn't deal much damage. Paladins also had an unimpressive damage output, and weren't good at soaking up damage, but they had the best buffs in the game, didn't need to use totems, and were arguably the best healers. The Burning Crusade expansion took care of most of the deficiencies until basically they became specialized and differentiated from the basic healer, the priest. Now, the 'pure' classes like the Mage, Warlock and Rogue are frustrated that they do not add much versatility, and they do not excel over the supposed 'jack of all trades, Master of None' classes.
    • This was a potential pitfall of the talent system, especially before the Cataclysm expansion overhaul. You see, each class has three "specializations" to place what are called "talent points" under...To make a long story short, it was not an especially good sign to see a player without a minimum of 51 points into their primary talent tree because this generally means that their character will likely lack a crucial top-tier talent for their primary task. Even with 51 points in a character's primary "spec" it was still possible for a player to overlook crucial talents considered mandatory for Crippling Overspecialization in either PVE or PvP. This issue also created complaints, from some class players, about being "restricted to cookie cutter specs" to perform their role optimally.
  • According to the Let's Play, Charlatans in Drakensang due to the games system of buying new abilities with EXP, forcing their abilities to be spread thin, or to abandon some facets.
  • Jedi Sentinels in the first Knights of the Old Republic have the combat abilities of a consular (pure caster), and only slightly better force powers than a Guardian in exchange for skill points... completely worthless in the first game and immunities to various force powers (that many items can negate, and only bosses use anyways). Fixed entirely in the second game.
  • Billy Jean Blackwood in Backyard Sports has equal stats in everything in almost every game. She's a Master of None and not a Mario because she doesn't help your team in any way. This was probably the reason she was discontinued from the series (that and being a Southern Belle).
  • Red Mages from Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy III tended to suffer from this. Later games like Final Fantasy V were much kinder to them, and gave them Game Breaker abilities like Doublecast... if you're willing to grind for it.
    • Thanks to some bugs and magic uses being rather limited, Red Mages were actually the best magic class in the NES version of FF1. The remakes nerfed him.
    • Averted in "Final Fantasy XI." Red Mages received two specializations, being strong (though not necessarily the best) enhancing and enfeebling spell casters.
  • The Assassin Class in Ragnarok Online. He sucks at PvP, isn't that useful in WoE, can hardly beat any boss monster and pretty much his only specialty is grinding alone in PvE. Only that other classes such as the Hunter are much better at that, too. At least it used to be that way. With newer updates, the Assassin gained effectiveness. His rebirth class, the Assassin Cross, is the complete opposite and has been accused of being overpowered quite often.
    • While this is true, a more glaring example is the Super Novice class of RO, who is a literal Jack. They can pick any skills from the first-tier classes freely, making them a neat side-character. Unfortunately, they are limited to novice-only weapons (meaning they can take Archer skills but can't use a bow), and more cripplingly, retain Novice-level health and mana pools. They're the weakest character in the game, but they're an "Expanded Class", which Gravity has made clear are not intended to be balanced.
      • At top levels magic-oriented Super Novices can become immune to ranged or melee physical attacks and have near-instant spellcasting at the same time, which makes them able to do some burst damage in PvP if they get the jump on the enemy. Still, their health pools usually prevent them from surviving the return damage.
  • Fire Emblems Eliwood's mediocre, "balanced" stat growths pale in comparison to his friend Hector's near Lightning Bruiser status, and have earned him the derogatory Fan Nickname "Eliwuss."
    • Lyn is more of a standard Glass Cannon, befitting her Fanon status as an improved Myrmidon. More competent Jacks of All Stats are Cavaliers (fast movement, decent armor, can wield swords and lances) and Mercenaries (average, but solid stats, upgrades to the nigh-godlike Hero).
  • Kimahri Ronso of Final Fantasy X suffers from this. He's pretty average, not good or bad at anything. He can often hit fast and airborne opponents, deals decent damage, can pierce like Auron but lacks his strength, and aside from magic, is just generally all-round. He falls down because Final Fantasy X is, at least in the beginning, a game where you will rely almost wholly on your specialists, which means that by the time you get into the middle game where all-rounders become a bit more useful, Kimahri is badly underleveled.
    • It is possible, through judicious Level Grinding, to make Kimahri a thief before Rikku joins the party, which makes him somewhat less useless. Unfortunately, this is only worth it for fans of the character.
      • Sadly, in the Sphere Grid he is just near the powerful Ultima Spell, but guarded by a few Lv.4 sphere-keys. The main use for Kimahri NOT leveling him at all until you got enough Lvl.4 Sphere-keys, then grab that mighty spell... and let the casters copy it. Kimahri is a Jack of all trades, master deliverance boy.
      • With less level grinding, you can put him into Wakka's portion of the grid just after Wakka leaves that sector of his grid, which may leave him with a feeling of "Catching up", once he hits Aurons part of the grid, his base stats will make him a speedy, insanely hard hitting character who can hit some of the faster enemies wheras Auron can't without going deep into Tidus' grid.
  • Smeargle from Pokémon can learn any move in the game, but their poor stats mean that there's no point in teaching them 96 percent of them unless you're using them for breeding purposes. Granted, there are a few combinations of moves they can get that no other Pokémon can, but outside of those combinations, you're better off just using a more specialized Pokémon.
    • There are a few strategies out there that Smeargle can take advantage of to devastating effects. Most begin with Spore, a 100% Sleep move. From there, the most common is either to use Transform, which copies the opponent's stats and allows Smeargle to fight on equal terms. Or, prevent a switch with Mean Look, Block, or Spider Web, use Mind Reader or Lock-On to guarantee the next hit connects, then use Sheer Cold, an instant-KO move that normally has 30% accuracy. The latter is not used competitively as much due to moves like Sheer Cold being banned from most unofficial tournaments.
    • Farfetch'd is another Master of None, perhaps intentionally; its only defining feature besides a unique item that boosts its crit chances is that all of its stats are at about the same, godawful level.
    • There are several Pokémon that aren't useful as their stats are often too rounded, but Glalie is a good one. Apart from awful typing, all of its stats are an average 80.
      • Other Pokémon with equal, below-average numbers in all stats are Ditto (48 each), Spinda (60), Castform (70), and Phione (80). That being said, a majority of these Pokémon are Master of Nones with the intention of them being proverbial blank slates. They could potentially do anything, and as Pokémon battling is mostly about prediction and outmaneuvering, being a Master of None is actually an advantage due to their high surprise factor. Mew is a standout: all of its stats are 100, good but not tremendously so, but it's a Game Breaker because it's way too versatile. That's why Pokémon like Glalie and Phione have inferior stats.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's Montblanc is a character who, like any unit in the game, can go into any job that his race is capable of. However, his stats are so abysmal that there's really no point in using him at all, as even later units that join your clan have better stats. What's really crippling is the fact that the game will not even let you remove him from your party (short of killing him in a Jagd) so you'll have to endure his subparness for the whole game. Your Mileage May Vary, though, as he's likable enough that most people put up with him.
    • This troper managed to turn Montblanc into a Black Mage/Time Mage with decent damage-dealing abilities, and the ability to cast Haste and Quicken, and thus utterly wreck the turn order with his far more powerful units.
  • Mass Effect's Kaidan Alenko avoids being The Load only by lieu of his Romance Sidequest and interesting Backstory. He has biotics, but Liara has better ones. He has tech abilities, but so do Garrus and Tali. His weapon skills are the worst in the game, and he can only wear light armor. Manually tweaking his stats can turn him into a versatile and powerful backup character, but most people only use him early on and dump him on the Normandy for the rest of the game.
    • That's because Kaidan is a Sentinel, undoubtedly the weakest class in the first game. It was meant to be a tech/biotic mix, but overall squishiness combined with lack of damage output meant it was just a worse Adept. It had tech powers that could lock down enemies, but they replaced biotic abilities that could do the same thing better. It had biotic powers that once again could lock down enemies, but they didn't get the really powerful ones. They could use pistols, but their version of the talent for pistols (in that they gained the usual benefits through their passive skill) was weaker than any other class's version, and they didn't get any other weapons to make up for this. Tech/Biotics also don't complement each other as well as Combat does with either, since both are primarily set on making enemies vulnerable while Combat kills them. In the Sentinel's case, making them helpless didn't matter if you could barley hurt them. Sentinels usually relied heavily on teammates to do the killing. By Mass Effect 3, however, the Sentinel has become a true Jack of All Stats, when tech and biotic powers in general gained much larger damage output and the Sentinel's weapon skills became far more practical. It helped that they also got Tech Armor, making them the most durable class.
    • In the sequel, his equivalent Jacob Taylor is easily the worst character in the game. He would make a decent tank if Grunt wasn't so much better at that, and Samara makes a much better Magic Knight that he. It also doesn't help that he's the least interesting character, as well as having a sleazy Romance Sidequest.
  • The balance (sorcerer) class in Wizard 101 is this, having buffs and traps for every other school and some multipurpose ones, as well as having a few spells that mimic those of other school's such as their unique healing spell.
  • Competitive Team Fortress 2 circles assign this to the Pyro class--Pyros are among the least seen classes because their abilities, while considerable, are simply overshadowed by the other choices available to a 6-man team. Pyros can move quicker than most of the common competitive classes and excels at short range, but the Scout is both faster and more agile, and deals damage in bigger chunks. It's a good defensive class in close quarters, but the Heavy has better range, more health, and deals more damage. Spy checking, Ubercharge denial, and sentry defense, its remaining important uses, simply don't account for much competitive playtime due to the lack of need or lack of acceptance of the role. Ironically, this puts the Pyro (considered one of the classes requiring the least thinking to play) together with the Spy (considered the class requiring the most thinking to play) in the bottom of the competitive class tier--neither class' abilities play into a match strongly enough to justify their regular inclusion in a 6 vs. 6 skirmish.
  • Gogo in Final Fantasy VI can use almost any ability worth using in the game. He can't equip Espers, though, meaning that a specialized character who's been concentrating on physical attacks or magic will far outpace him.
  • In Dragon Age II it's best to focus all of a character's ability points in their specialization tree and one ability tree, with maybe a few extra points in another tree when the first two are maxed out. Trying to spread the points equally across three or more trees can easily lead to Master of None syndrome since you won't have enough points in any one tree to unlock the secondary bonuses, which can be a real problem at the endgame or on higher difficulties. Many of the available moves are decidedly mediocre without those bonuses.
    • That goes for weapon and magic skill trees. On the other hand, Rogues get a lot more value mixing-and-matching skills across trees than from most of the top ranked skills in each tree. They can still be effective as a Master of None.
  • Kamil from The 7th Saga. Presumably, he was worth using in the original version, but in the version we all know, his stat growths are so hampered that he ends up below average in almost every way.
  • You want to achieve a balanced research in Star Ruler. While Crippling Overspecialization invites counters, spreading your research too widely will result in more focused opponents rolling over your forces with tougher ships, ships that can regenerate faster than you can hurt them or ships that can blow yours up easily.
  • This is a potential pitfall in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. With the game eschewing classes in favor of an open-ended leveling system, players going the Magic Knight route are easily tempted into spreading their points too thin and not being as effective as a pure fighter or caster.
  • You want to avoid this in Alpha Protocol. Without the boost from Veteran it's impossible to fully level everything and most paths don't give you the really good stuff until far in, so too generalised a spread will leave you with a deficient Mikey that can't do much usefully.
  • The Brig Of War in Sid Meiers Pirates. There are two schools of play in the game, "Board 'em quick" and "Pound them until they yield", which means that players will, depending on style, get a ship that is either extremely quick and maneuverable or has a huge broadside. This leaves the Brig Of War, which is slightly above average in speed, manouvering and weight of broadside, tragically unloved.

Non-game examples

Anime and Manga

  • Gundam Seed has the GAT-X102 Duel Gundam, which, being a system prototype for the Earth Alliance's other, more specialised mobile suits (Buster for ranged artillery, Blitz for stealth, Aegis for commanders and Strike for either close-combat, heavy assault or high mobility) has nearly no customisation or specialisation, despite being a "Close Quarters" mobile suit. Without its Assault Shroud, it tends to get knocked out by the Strike in most of its battles.
    • The basic Strike, without its Striker Packs to specialise its battlefield role, is less capable of doing anything than Duel, having next to no in-built or equipped weaponry (the others get a rifle, at the very least).

Live-action television


  • Notes in the Honor Harrington novel The Short Victorious War state that Manticore sees battleships as this, hence its not using them. Sitting in the gap between battlecruisers and dreadnoughts, they lack the firepower and survivability of full ships of the wall as well as the mobility of battlecruisers or anything below. Eventually, the Havenites manage to turn them into Jack of All Stats by using them in deep raiding, where being stronger than battlecruisers allows them to blow away pickets using said class while outrunning full wallers, and every Manty waller stuck guarding a backwater is one fewer at the frontlines.


  • As indicated by the page quote, this is parodied in Eight Bit Theater with Red Mage, a Munchkin who firmly believes that the world works on tabletop RPG rules. Considering the amount of times he has be able to abuse this conviction in his favor, he might actually be right. However, regardless of whether he is right or not, one fact still stands: He is totally and completely inept at pretty much everything he does.
  • Señor Vorpal Kickasso in Goblins, who tries to master 11 D&D classes at once and ends up with 1/11th of a level in each of them, meaning he can hide 1/11th of his body in shadow (which is fine, as long as the enemy is only looking for his ankle), or cast 1/11th of a sleep spell:

 Chief:...Did that have any effect?

Complains: Well, I do feel kinda lethargic.

  • Nale in Order of the Stick has levels of fighter, rogue and sorceror, giving him roughly the same ability set as his Spoony Bard twin brother, Elan, but in a needlessly complicated way.

Real Life


 "In later life he knew a good deal about a wide range of subjects but nothing definite about any one subject."

  • The Bradley Fighting Vehicle was originally a combination of too many ideas at once, with the result that it couldn't function as either. The story of this is detailed in the book and TV movie The Pentagon Wars.
  • Most medium tanks of World War II fall into this category — designed to be simple and cheap to build, while capable of being effective in any tactical environment. End result — less speed than scout tanks, less armor than heavies, less AT power than destroyers, less AP/demolition power than assault guns.
    • M4 Sherman tank. Not a master of anything, but certainly a jack in all trades. When introduced in 1942, it was one of the best tanks in the war, easily outgunning and out-armoring the comparable German tanks of the time (which were armed with just 50 mm tank guns and had thin armor). But by 1944, its deficiencies in armor and gun were apparent against the newer generation of german tank. Shermans were mediocre in armor, armament and performance, but they were far more reliable than most of the German tanks. And once the up-armored Easy-Eight and upgunned -76W and Firefly refits arrived, they proved to be more than a match in one-on-one fights.
      • Just a pity the 76s and Fireflys had poor HE rounds, so they had to work with mixed formations.
    • Even the Germans had one with the Panzer-III, a medium tank later classified as a light/scout tank. Fast and with a theoretically powerful 50mm AT gun, its tracks were too narrow and impaired its all terrain performance, and the cannon fired too small a HE shell for dealing with field guns and infantry, and it was badly outclassed by even the early T-34s - and some of the French tanks it had to face too.
  • The US Army's Universal Camouflage Pattern. It was designed to provide equal concealment in jungle, urban and desert terrain. It only succeeded in being equally sucky in all terrains. To make things even worse, the Army tried to own up by saying their testing trials were biased toward conditions in Iraq... only the best performer in desert and urban terrain was the trials' actual winner, Desert All-over Brush.
  • Possibly the ultimate example of this in warfare is the battlecruiser. Ideally, was supposed to be faster than the more powerful ships, and more powerful than the faster ships, but the problem was that they had way too much firepower and were way too big and expensive to justify only using against light/unarmored ships, but maximizing the use of their big guns meant putting themselves in vulnerable situations that battleships would have survived without too much trouble.
  • Some martial artists accuse Mixed Martial Arts schools of making their students this by teaching a curriculum that covers all ranges of combat, but at a shallow level. The tension between Jack of All Stats fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St. Pierre and specialists in one or two areas like Anderson Silva and Junior Dos Santos is an ongoing spectacle in MMA.
  • A badly-made spork can seem like this. Can't hold as much food nor hold it as well as a spoon can, nor can it poke and hold as much solid food as a fork can.
  • From an economic standpoint, anything or anyone that is a Jack of All Stats is punted into this category by default. The concept of "specialization" is far more endorsed, since producing a great many products at medium efficiency with decent cost loses out in the face of being able to produce a single product very efficiently, and at less cost.
  • The best cricket 'all-rounders' are greats who could get into the team as both bowler and batsmen. All too often one day teams are packed full of people who can guess which end of a bat to hold more than half the time and jog in to bowl without tripping over their shoe laces too often.
  • Encyclopedias can offer info on a wide variety of topics but even online user-contributed ones like The Other Wiki only have enough depth to be a good intro for any one area. There's still no generalist substitute for textbooks and training.
  • Microsoft Publisher is this in the eyes of most people - It's supposedly a combination of the assets of Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint, but when it comes to resumes, it just doesn't stack up next to Word, and for the PP-esque pages pane, that too is also lackluster compared to the original slides pane mechanic of PowerPoint.
    • In terms of editing pictures, (which is one of Publisher's central tasks), it's considered the worst among them; Word is much simpler and more efficient, and PowerPoint ironically has more often-used commands in picture editing than Publisher, such as removing backgrounds.
    • They are probably missing the point of Publisher. Publisher is more useful for poster design than for picture editing or resume typing.