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Every team needs a leader. Be it the Five-Bad Band, the Five-Man Band, the Badass Crew or Army, the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, and even a normal Six-Student Clique, any good team has one.

When push comes to shove, there's gotta be someone that stands up, takes charge, makes a decision. Even if it goes unsaid, its usually obvious to everyone who's calling the shots. The de facto leader does it out of necessity or just their personality type. The De Jure leader is officially agreed upon, and may even hold the title or rank.

Leaders in fiction typically come in four flavors, with of course some leeway and overlap.

Type I: The Mastermind. They often assemble their team for a specific purpose, and have clear goals in mind from the beginning. They tend to rely on their smarts and ability to be one step ahead of their competition. In a more heroic light they're typically The Smart Guy, The Strategist, or a Guile Hero. Darker versions are usually evil geniuses or the Big Bad, and masters of manipulation. Tends to work from the behind the scenes but be careful as Authority Equals Asskicking may still be in effect.

Type II: Levelheaded. The most practical, experienced, mature, or neutral member of the group. As such they are the most naturally qualified to lead and take the responsibility of the team on their shoulders. Generally driven by either a sense of caring towards their teammates or a sense of duty towards their goals. Most likely to suffer from The Chains of Commanding. An effective type II is usually The Captain, but less effective versions may have to fend off persistent dissenters and other loose cannons to maintain order in the team. Can either command from homebase or act as field leader.

Type III: Headstrong. The most outspoken and outgoing members. Being so determined they often lead their team both in and out of trouble, and inspire the team to work through problems. Often noted for their bravery. Character development usually dictates that they take on more Type II traits as time goes on and they learn the difference between courage and recklessness. Tends to overlap with Type IV. Almost always on the front lines. Many of the other types show a touch of this, in that they have made decisions and rapped out orders while other people are still thrown by some surprise.

Type IV: Charismatic. Those who are just the most important member of the team, either because they're the most skilled, most loved and respected, or otherwise chosen by destiny. In contrast to type I's, their personality is what brings, and keeps, the team together. At an impasse, everyone else is willing to agree to what they want to do and won't argue. Whether they lead by love, respect, or fear they are the Face of the team. And often times the goals are more personal for them anyway, and the rest of the team is just a support group. At best they will be core of their group practically/emotionally/ideologically. At worst they might just be figure heads/mascots with the true leader behind the scenes or in their shadow. May overlap with or evolve into any of the other three types.

The Leader may not have any implications of being The Protagonist; in fact a Supporting Leader probably will be cast aside in favor of a hero. See also The Chains of Commanding, Still the Leader, Ordered Apology, and Authority Equals Asskicking. Compare The Captain, Only Sane Man, and both the Big Good and Big Bad. Many times The Hero is The Leader, but not always, or always interested in being.

Examples of The Leader include:

Anime and Manga

  • Quatre of Gundam Wing is the leader of the Maganac Corps and later takes the closest thing to a leadership role among the 5 Gundam Pilots. Type II
  • Sumeragi is a Type I as The Captain of Ptolemy in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Among the Meisters Lockon in season 1 is a type II as the most normal member of the team. Setsuna in season 2 is more of a type IV.
  • Goku is a type IV among the Z Fighters, but during his many extended absences Piccolo tends to step up as a type II
  • Shikamaru in Naruto is a heroic type I among the Konoha 11. In the Chunin Exam Arc most 'Sasuke-types' were type II's among their own three-man cells, except for Team Kurenai where Kiba was a type III.
    • Sasuke himself has shades of type I and type IV when he assembles Hebi/Taka later on.
    • Naruto seems to be developing into a Type III/Type IV hybrid, especially in the War Arc. He's not officially in command but the other characters place a great amount of trust in him and usually trust his judgment.
  • Almost all the Goggle-boys from Digimon are type III, although Takato is usually type II, and Taichi and Daisuke both show elements of type IV.
  • Monkey D. Luffy is VERY much a Type III/Type IV hybrid. Very rarely he shows hidden Type II traits, but only when the situation is serious enough to call for it.
  • Trainer Red from Pokémon Special is a type IV/Type II hybrid for the Kanto Trainers and the Dex holders as a whole. And Professor Oak can be seen as a Type I since he's the closest thing the series has to a Big Good.
    • Trainer Gold is a Type III for Johto.
    • Hoenn doens't have a clear leader, so who calls the shots is heavily dependent on the situation.
    • Sinnoh has Platinum as a Type IV, since the others work as her body guards, but Pearl's take charge personality sometimes has him as a more dominant type III.
    • White seems to lead Black as a type IV/type I. Black is something of a type III with Cheren and Bianca.
  • Gundam Seed & Gundam Seed Destiny: Lacus Clyne is a Type IV to the Three Ships Alliance, Terminal, and much of the planet, through sheer force of personality. On a smaller (and eviler) scale, Sting Oakley is this to the Extended team, being a surprising example of a Type II on a team of Axe Crazy Tykebombs.
  • Lelouch of Code Geass is a hybrid of type I and IV for the Black Knights. Physically, he is actually the weakest member of the group, but it's both his intelligence and his charismatic leadership that holds the team together.
  • Ryo of Yoroiden Samurai Troopers (Ronin Warriors) is a Type III and IV being The Determinator while Touma (Rowen) and Seiji (Sage) are evenly split as the most leavelheaded. Ryo also sometimes serves as The Heart of the team when Shin (Cye) isn't around.
  • Eyeshield 21: Each team has one of these, typically in the form of their captain (although sometimes another player will fill the role):
    • Deimon Devil-Bats - Team Captain & Quarterback, Youichi Hiruma (Type I/IV).
    • Ojou White Knights - Team Captain & Quarterback Takami (Type I/II)
    • Zokugaku Chameleons - Team Captain & Linebacker Rui Habashira (Type III)
    • Taiyou Sphinx - Lineman Banba (Type II)
    • Amino Cyborgs - Team Captain & Linebacker Munkata (Type IV)
    • Kyoshin Poseidon - Linebacker Kakei (Type II)
    • Bando Spiders - Team Captain & Tight End Akaba (Type II)
    • Seibu Wild Gunmen - Quarterback Kid (Type II)
    • Shinryuuji Naga - Team Captain & Quarterback Unsui Kongo (Type II); his brother Agon (Type IV) does his best to upstage him.
    • Hakushuu Dinosaurs - Team Captain & Quarterback/Safety Marco Reiji (Type I)
    • Teikoku Alexanders - Runningback Takeru Yamamoto (Type IV)
    • The Pentagram - Big Bad Duumvirate variant; Team Captain & Centre Mr. Don (Type III/IV) and Quarterback Clifford D. Louis (Type I)
  • Griffith of Berserk was a Type I and a Type IV version of this to the Band of the Hawks before Guts left them. His top lieutenant Casca was more of a mix of Types II and III in Griffith's absence before the horrible shit that happened to her during the Eclipse.
  • Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam is a Type IV personality with a Type I style of leadership.
  • In Saint Beast, Judas is appointed leader of the Saint Beasts, and already was by default before that, being the charismatic, brave and passionate hero of the story (Type III and IV).
  • In High School DxD, Rias Gremory is a Type I leader, who has gathered all of her servants via chess pieces.


  • Professor X of X-Men is a benevolent type I. Cyclops, the field leader, starts as a type II, but transitions into type I as the series progresses.
  • Ciro in Project 0 is a type III for the Saboteurs.
  • Batman is a type I when he works with Robin or the extended Bat Family, but most of his proteges also lead groups of their own:
    • Dick Grayson acted as a Type I during his early days on the Teen Titans. As he matured, he became more of a Type IV. It should be noted that DC officially considers him to be the most capable leader in the whole DC Universe.
    • The second Robin and current Red Hood (Jason Todd) is a Type 3.
    • The third Robin and current Red Robin (Tim Drake), is a Type I.
    • Barbara Gordon is also a Type I when leading the Birds of Prey.
  • Captain America of The Avengers is a mixture of type II and type IV.
  • Superman is also a mixture of type II and type IV when he's the leader of the Justice League of America. Because he's a very strong type IV, he tends to become the Leader of any team-up or group he's with.
  • Grim Jack describes the lead of Starslayer as a Type 4.

 Grim Jack: There are many kinds of leaders. Some are elected, some are selected, some are imposed, but in the end there is only one true leader. The one that others choose to follow. Torin MacQuillon is a leader.


Fan Works



  • Aragorn of the Fellowship of the Rings, even though Frodo is The Hero of the series.
  • Jake of Animorphs type II
    • "Jake's the type. If a group of people were trapped in a burning building, he's the person they'd automatically turn to and ask what to do. And he'd have an answer, too."
    • He transitions into a Type I during the climax of the franchise.
  • Peter Pan is a type III among the Lost Boys. Wendy is type II of her siblings.
  • John Geary of Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet
  • In the X Wing Series, Wedge Antilles is a mix of I and II, with some IV and a trace of III for flavor. He's highly intelligent and calculates right from the start, but he's well able to adjust on the fly and incorporate new elements. The most experienced and highly decorated pilot in either squadron of the series, he can be either harsh or supportive to and cares deeply for the pilots under his command.
  • In Poul Anderson's After Doomsday, Donnan. When they are first confronted with Earth's destruction, he gets the captain to get a grip on himself. Later, after the disintegrating situation kills the captain and the first officer, the second officer can't control matters, and he takes command.
  • In John Hemry's A Just Determination, Herdez talks to Sinclair about how such a leader makes it easy to follow. It's when the superior is not competent that obedience becomes a trick.

Live Action TV

  • Jack Shepherd, type II among the survivors of Lost. Usually. Ben Linus is type I for the Others.
  • President Bartlet is a Type IV, with shades of Type II.
  • On Leverage former insurance investigator Nathan Ford is the Type I leader of Leverage Consulting and Associates. The show even refers to him as "The Mastermind".
    • On Leverage: Redemption, this becomes an Enforced Trope and a Rank Up for Sophie, because of his death. She lacks his Xanatos Speed Chess capacities but has retained her patient Grifter tendencies (making her more Levelheaded than a true Mastermind).

Video Games

  • Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series is all four types: s/he does the planning, keeps the Dysfunction Junction together, and makes hard choices. Though, dialogue from quite a few NPCs make Trait IV for to be the most dominating factor.
  • Almost every Heroic Mime, if they are the leader, is implied to be a type IV. However dialogue around them may hint towards which of the other three they are closest too.
  • Golden Sun
    • A disconnect happened wherein Isaac was hinted at, and described as being a type II, but when he started speaking in the sequel he came off as more of a type III.
    • Matthew is held by fandom to be a Type 2, though with the emote "dialogue" it's certainly possible to play him as a Type 3 (to say nothing of his reaction to Arcanus in the American version). Three guesses who his father is...
  • Ciel, Leader of La Résistance On Mega Man Zero 1, 3 and 4, a clear Type IV, as most people agree with her, she's The Heart and even Neo Arcadia's Government seems to have some respect to her, however she's also a Type II, as she sometimes tries to prevent Zero from rushing to battle, still tries to maintain open communication channels with Neo Arcadia, and (after Z1) she almost was able to reach a pacific solution with Neo Arcadia's Government (until Weil arrived).
    • In Zero 2, Ciel's Group joined with another group, and we got Elpizo as the new leader, apparently chosen by popular vote. Tried to Act as a type I one at first, organizing Guerrilla operations and data retrieval and a good battle plan in general. In battle he demonstrated that he was a Type III rushing in without having too much of a backup plan. Also apparently he was highly charismatic, as after his death, most of his soldiers deserted Ciel's group.
  • The Saints Row series has seen over a dozen factions, most of them gangs, all with their own leader. Notable examples include the playable protagonist as the 3rd Street Saints leader from 2 onwards, Phillipe Loren for the Syndicate and Zinyak for the Zin alien race.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is a Type III among team Hero/Sonic, and a Type IV among the whole cast.
  • Fox of the Star Fox team, type II.
  • In Tales of the Abyss Jade Curtiss, despite not being The Hero, is a Type I for the protagonists. Van Grants is Type I/IV for the God-Generals, Emperor Peony is Type II for the Malkuth Empire, King Ingobert tries to be a Type IV for Kimlasca and fails spectacularly (later on Princess Natalia takes the helm as a real Type IV) and Grand Maestro Mohs is a Type I for the Order of Lorelei.
  • In Tales of Symphonia Raine is initially a Type I for the heroes. As Lloyd undergoes Character Development he gradually replaces her as a Type IV leader. Yggdrasill is a Type I/IV hybrid for the baddies, Yuan is also a Type I/IV hybrid for the Renegades, and Vice-Chief Tiga is a Type II for Mizuho.
  • Tales of Vesperia has Yuri as a Type II. By the end of the game he's starting to grow into a Type IV as well.
  • Tales of Phantasia has Klarth/Claus as a Type I for the heroes.
  • In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Valvatorez straddles the line between Type III and IV, being principled, commanding, and charismatic, but also stubborn, hotblooded, and a bit dim.
  • The Walking Dead Telltale series has many communities and groups that always rely on one to four members to lead them.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Sasha in Greek Ninja never gets tired of reminding people that...
  • Team Kimba has all four types, and different ones take the lead at different times. Phase is definitely a type I, taking the roles of The Smart Guy and The Strategist outside of actual fighting. Lancer is a Type II, taking the lead in battles and training. Chaka is a Type III, being the one most likely to lead everyone into trouble... and get them out again. Generator is a Type IV who is The Chick but also Crazy Awesome.

Western Animation

  • Superman of the Justice League. Type IV.
  • Aqualad of Young Justice. Type II.
    • Interestingly enough Batman is the leader of the Justice League in Young Justice. Word of God claims he is not the original leader; the League holds periodic elections and this happens to be his term. He seems to be a Type I.
    • In Young Justice: Invasion, Nightwing is a Type I.
  • Robin of Teen Titans. Depending on the situation is either a Type II or Type III
  • Leonardo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Type II
  • In Thundercats Lion-O is mainly a type IV leader by default, since he's appointed Lord of the Thundercats.
    • In ThunderCats (2011) Lion-O is a type IV as The Chosen One and Lord of the Thundercats, but rapidly develops a Type III demension as he becomes more Hot-Blooded and gets farther out of his depth. (much to his brother Tygra's chagrin, since he presumes himself more suited for the job)
    • In the 2011 episode "Old Friends," correctly reading Lion-O as a Type III, Sixth Ranger and Old Soldier Panthro demands Lion-O's deference, and serves as a Type II until Lion-O proves himself in combat enough to earn Panthro's respect.
  • In Sonic Sat AM Sally was a Type I of the Freedom Fighters.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Sokka tries to be a Type II to varying degrees of success and becomes more competent at it as the series goes on, even taking on some Type I traits. Somewhat lampshaded in one episode when Katara says Aang should be leader because he's the Avatar, thus a Type IV.
    • Azula is a clear Type I among her group, Suki and Iroh both come across as Type II in their respective teams.
    • Fire Lord Ozai is a combined Type III/IV. He was also a Type I in the backstory but doesn't display those characteristics much anymore. Admiral Zhao tries to be a Type I...and fails consistently.
  • Tommy Pickles of Rugrats is a Type III. He's more along the lines of a Type IV in All Grown Up.
  • Bobby of the Goodfeathers from Animaniacs is a Type II.
  • Eddy of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy is somewhere between Type I and Type III
  • Blossom of The Powerpuff Girls is a Type I as she's the smartest, but her dominant and somewhat self absorbed personality sometimes makes her come off as a Type III.
  • T.J. Detweiler from Recess is between types III and IV.
  • Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic generally serves as a Type I and Type II leader among her group of friends, and serves this role for the whole town at times (such as during "Winter Wrap-Up" and "Dragonshy"). Princess Celestia is Type I, II and IV for all of Equestria. Apple Bloom usually leads the Cutie Mark Crusaders as a Type IV, but Scootaloo can sometimes step up and take the lead as a Type III.

Real Life

  • World Leaders (based on their typical media personalities, YMMV)
    • President Barack Obama was a huge type IV during the 2008 election, since then he's more often identified with type I and type II traits
    • President George W. Bush type III during his terms.
    • Bill Clinton was strongest as a type IV but had shades of types II/III
  • Sports Captains
    • Mark Messier was either type III or type IV.
    • Shaquille O'Neal was type IV.
    • Michael Jordan was type IV.
    • Peyton Manning is type I and type IV.
    • Tom Brady is type III and type IV.
    • Bill Russell was type I and III.