Aloof Ally

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    Nightwing: What are you doing here?
    Batgirl: Pre-dawn, the dockyards. Where else would a person in a mask be?

    Nightwing: This is my gig. If I'd needed you, I would have called.

    Your super team has a habit of getting into trouble - they're too naive, too inexperienced, and may want to hug the Monster of the Week instead of hurt it. You could send in a Mysterious Protector to help them out, but you've either done that already or you're saving it for later, and besides, you haven't even filled up all the slots in the team yet! But wait—what if you could send in your occasional cavalry and use those character slots?

    Enter the Aloof Ally. This ally is explicitly going after the same thing as you for the same results, and shows up to help you, being initially stronger. Don't confuse that with being "on your side", though. When the heroes ask them "Why aren't you joining us? We're teammates!", they'll snap and brush them off for being too naive, trusting, and comparatively useless.

    The Aloof Ally may reject The Power of Friendship now, but later—because the heroes keep trying—they'll end up reevaluating their position and join up with the team anyway. Sadly, this usually involves a usefulness drop similar to Good Is Dumb.

    Stock Phrases for the Aloof Ally include 'I Was Just Passing Through' and 'I Did What I Had to Do'. A standard pose would be the casual Badass slouch.

    May also be The Rival.

    Compare with the Enigmatic Minion, a villainous version. For attitude, compare to Tsundere. If the "initially stronger" part is overdone, can result in a God Mode Sue and/or a Spotlight-Stealing Squad.

    Compare to ...Who Needs Enemies?.

    Examples of Aloof Ally include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Uranus and Neptune from Sailor Moon (and later the Sailor Starlights), whose main issue with the Sailor Team was that the latter were too idealistic and refused to use lethal force. In both cases, they devolved into Grumpy Bears due to the idealistic nature of the show itself and the fact that any character's effectiveness against a monster tended to be plot-controlled rather than skill-controlled.
      • MUCH more so for Tuxedo Mask in the first season. Especially because they didn't even know if he was an ally or an evil 3rd party much of the time. He would show up, briefly fight the Monster of the Week and leave often not even bothering to see if the Sailor Soldiers lived or not. Until the ball where he and Usagi rescue each other when he finally admits he's searching for the Silver Crystal for altruistic purposes (to rescue the princess of his dreams) they don't trust him.
    • Mew Zakuro from Tokyo Mew Mew, for all of two episodes before her issues were sorted out.
    • Caren from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch refused to join with the Power Trio because she was bitter about a rumour that Rina had abandoned Caren's sister Noel when they were in danger. (In fact, Noel had made a Heroic Sacrifice for Rina to escape.) Between random rescues, she sabotaged their civilian lives, interrupting Lucia's love confession to Kaito and leaving the three of them with a giant food bill.
      • Rina herself was like this for an episode or two before joining the Power Trio.
    • Kurama and especially Hiei of Yu Yu Hakusho.
    • Subverted with Milky Rose from Yes! Precure 5GO!GO!. She starts out exactly like this, saving Pretty Cure at the last minute with her awesome power and showing them up in everything at school. Then, when it turns out she's actually just the Bratty Half-Pint mascot creature in humanoid form, she reveals that she only acted that way because she'd seen it too many times on TV. From then on, she reverts to her original personality, though not to her original level of usefulness.
    • Piccolo and Vegeta from Dragonball Z.
    • Sesshoumaru and Kikyo from Inuyasha.
    • Angel Salvia of Wedding Peach.
    • Nao from Mai-Otome. It's not so much that she doesn't want to fight evil - she dislikes Nagi's evil and ambitious nature as much as Natsuki does - but that doing so takes away from her "Nao" time. She still complains after her rapid promotion to Pillar late in the original series, but tends to have a lot of fun beating up on the Slaves when it's time to throw down.
    • Saito Hajime from Rurouni Kenshin would be a non Magical Girl example.
    • Kaze in Final Fantasy Unlimited. Sure, he "just happens" to arrive just in time to help the protagonists in practically every episode.
    • Ishida Uryu from Bleach likes to pretend he's this.
      • Byakuya becomes this in the early phase of the Arrancar Arc. On the surface, he follows Yamamoto's orders, but secretly exploits a loophole to ensure Renji and Rukia can get to Hueco Mundo to help Ichigo rescue Orihime which is technically in defiance of Yamamoto's wishes. It also allows Byakuya to maintain his distance from Ichigo (although much later in the manga he doesn't mind admitting how important Ichigo is to him).
    • Corrector Ai, in Corrector Yui. Mainly because she has her very own personal issues, though.
    • C.C. had elements of this, particularly in the beginning of the series, in regards to our Byronic Hero, Lelouch. According to her, "their relationship is strictly a contract", although she defrosts as the show continues.
    • Wolfwood in his first few appearances in Trigun. It's likely Chapel the Evergreen intended to carry out his mission this way. But he had far too much in common with Vash; that and circumstance led to them becoming virtual blood brothers.
    • Ange kind of walks the border between this and the Mysterious Protector. She has all of the attitude of this trope ("Leave the jokes to your hairstyle," was her response to him claiming that he was trying hard to beat Beatrice) with the aims of the other.
    • Pokémon. Some of Ash's more powerful Pokémon have had phases like this; his Charizard and Grovyle spring to mind.
      • Grovyle (now a Sceptile) is less aloof than he is lazy. Regardless, he remains loyal to Ash throughout his tenure on the team. Charizard, on the other hand...
    • Homura Akemi in Puella Magi Madoka Magica fills the character archetype but, like everything in that show, it gets deconstructed.
    • Not really aloof, but Setsuna from Fresh Pretty Cure would have a reason for this: "My hands... are far too stained".
    • D-Boy from Tekkaman Blade almost fits with the description words for words, being initialy stronger tha everyone else, want to defeat the Radam, and don't really join forces with either the Millitary or the Space Knights in the friendly sorts of way. The catch is, his reason to not join forces with either side is a bit complicated.

    Comic Books

    • Knuckles in Sonic the Comic. Of course it doesn't help that Sonic's so arrogant he always puts off new allies anyway.
    • Bloodhawk in X-Men 2099 was an occasionally ally of the X-Men, but initially declined offers to join the team for reasons of his own. He did eventually join up, though.

    Fan Works

    • Tatl Beryllia in The Blue Blur of Termina. Initially, she only teamed up with Sonic because the Skull Kid abandoned and (indirectly) injured her. In fact, as shown by her letting Sonic fall in the Subterranean Forest, she makes it clear that she couldn't care less about his safety.

    Live Action TV

    • Sailor Mars and, later, Sailor Venus from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, which is part of the reason that they grow to become friends after a long struggle of the former trying to get the latter to join the Sailor Team.
    • The Go-On Wings from Go-onger. Fortunately, once JumboWhale shows up, he's much friendlier and manages to talk them round.
      • Well he talks Silver around and she becomes good buddies with the others. Gold though is pretty much a loner by nature. Though he does stop looking them down on them.
    • Power Rangers has a number of examples:
      • The Magna Defender from Lost Galaxy was against the bad guys, but out for revenge and viewed the Rangers as being in the way. He eventually had just enough of a Face Turn to make a Heroic Sacrifice, and his successor was a proper Sixth Ranger.
      • The Lunar Wolf Ranger from Wild Force is a partial example: he liked the main team well enough, and was pretty much totally on their side, but he just wasn't a very social guy and felt kinda guilty for making their lives difficult while he was Brainwashed and Crazy, so he didn't hang out with them much outside of battle.
      • Time Force's Quantum Ranger, on the other hand, tended to treat the main team with a bit of bitterness, occasionally bordering on outright contempt... Especially toward the Red Ranger.
      • The Omega Ranger of SPD started out this way (being from the future, he thought their gear was So Last Season) but got better quickly. The Shadow Ranger, on the other hand, kind of had to be aloof as he was the team's commanding officer, and he made perfectly clear that he wouldn't bail them out of every little scrape they got in.
    • Yuto Sakurai/Kamen Rider Zeronos in Kamen Rider Den-O, who works towards the same goal as Ryotaro/Den-O, but chastises his fellow Rider for thinking that protecting the timeline is the same thing as protecting people. He does eventually mellow out, though.
    • Noah Bennett can be like this in Heroes whenever he's working for the latest Big Bad. For example, when he joins Danko in Season 3 he's doing it to protect Claire and moderate Danko, though he actively works against the heroes.

    Tabletop Games

    • The Eldar from Warhammer 40,000 are often thought of as a "good" race, and are often lumped in with the Imperium in campaigns. However, there is a famous quote that sums up that they are not trusted allies: "Make no mistake, human. We do not fight for your Emperor. We fight against Horus."

    Video Games

    Visual Novels

    • Rin in Fate/stay night is a non-Magical Girl example, at least initially.
    • Eriko in Yu No has goals that seem to match up with Takuya's and is perfectly trustworthy, but she's rather distant and doesn't feel like lending Takuya much direct assistance if she can help it.

    Web Original

    • In Survival of the Fittest version three, Dominica Shapiro's part in SADD was very much one of these, although she was slowly becoming more and more of a part of the team.
    • Electra in Greek Ninja sort of fits into this trope.

    Western Animation

    • Batman likes to think he is one of these for the Justice League, but let's be honest, he's just fooling himself. He's a part-timer, you know.
    • In Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, during the episode "The Savage Lands", the silver monkey appears to be one... Until he reveals himself to be the newly-reborn Antauri and sticks with the rest of the Monkey Team. He's still very quiet and reserved most of the time though.
    • In ThunderCats (2011) when young hero Lion-O stops at the Swordsmans' Town, an eccentric drifter appears to deliver several suspiciously ambivalent Adventure Rebuffs, warning against getting involved in the Sword Fight culture there, and noting repeatedly that he will not help, and does not care what happens to Lion-O should he fail to heed him. He cares so little, in fact, that he keeps showing up where ever Lion-O happens to be, full of advice.

    The Drifter:: "...if you expect me to help, you haven't been paying attention."