The Face

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"Hold your fire!... Daniel... Do you think you could find a language that could tell these people we're human like they are... and that we're friendly?"
Jack O'Neil, Stargate SG-1

A typical Five-Man Band has The Lancer contrasting The Hero and The Big Guy contrasting The Smart Guy but the fifth role is more variable. This person is the The Face of the team and they are the one you want doing the talking. This is the super trope for the characters that could fit in that role.

The Fifth Member will be substantially different from the other four members of the Five-Man Band to create a contrast with all of them. Like a pear in group of apples, they stand out because the other four contrast each other. They will also have better social skills than the rest to play off all four and provide themselves with a speciality of their own.

They could be The Heart of the group and thus its moral compass. They could be The Mentor if they're more into guiding and teaching. They could be the Tagalong Kid if younger and perhaps less mature but possessing certain insight. Finally they could be The Chick because everyone knows Women Are Wiser, and her girly clothing will contrast the men.

In a action oriented series, their role could be Mission Control so they can do their social thing without being on the front lines. If they have Personality Powers they will likely manifest as Psychic Powers: Telepathy, The Empath etc.

Sub-tropes include

This trope has two core qualities: social skills and contrast to the rest of the group. They're the only girl, the only old person, the only civilian, etc.

Not to be confused with Face. Also not The Face of the Band, though the roles can overlap. The name comes from the tradition of Dungeons & Dragons where a character in a Player Party would be the face of the group: they have stats and skills sets based on talking and resolving conflicts without fighting.

Examples of The Face include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Baccano!: Luck does most of the talking and business for the Gandor family. His friendship with Firo is also the reason the Gandors have a good relationship with the Martillo Family. His brothers are either too quiet or too aggressive for such a responsibility.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Tomoyo interacts with everyone and contrasts them with her Muggleness. She's also emotional support for Sakura, and Syaoran too after he calms down.
  • Code Geass: Kaguya invokes the trope in her bid for Zero's hand in marriage. "You'll need a public face, right?"
  • Crest of the Stars deconstructs this trope with how Jinto feels about being forced into this role. Because he seems to get along with everyone (perhaps because he wasn't born into Abh society like everyone else) he has to act as a go-between both inside the Basroil's crew and with other soldiers. This means shouldering everyone's emotional baggage and translating for the one receiving the message.
  • One would think Maia was the Face in Daphne in the Brilliant Blue being the friendly and helpful Chick she is, but it's actually Shizuka with the social network.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's sets up contrasts between Shamal and her fellow Belkan knights: the most feminine, the one who can't cook, the Team Mom. She's also Mission Control because her magic is focused on communication and teleportation.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: Jinpei, the only child on the team, certainly has a way with other children. The series may in fact be the Trope Codifier for the Five-Man Band.
  • Witch Hunter Robin: Chief Inspector Shintarō Kosaka represents the STNJ to other organizatons and passes on the office's reports to the parent organization SOLOMON. He has a lot of friends in the police department and all he has to do is call one of them to get info on suspects.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • Archie Comics: Veronica Lodge is The Chick and her skills are mostly social instead of practical, but she contributes by being the only one with unlimited wealth and resources.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The Black Cauldron: Eliowny, as a princess, contrasts the guys of the group and talks reason into the big headed The Hero.
  • Galaxy Quest: Parodied like everything else in the movie. The fact that Gwen has no technical specialty is lampshaded: Her 'social skills' amount to "repeating everything the computer says."
  • Ghostbusters: Janine is the receptionist for the four-man organization; a notably interpersonal role. One scene in the first movie has her trying to convince a customer of their professionalism.
  • Mystery Men has three versions:
    • The Bowler is The Chick as the sole female of the group and joins to be part of a team.
    • The Sphinx is The Mentor who guides everyone
    • The Invisible Boy is more or less a Tagalong Kid and until the climax his only contribution is networking and idealism.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Animorphs: Neither fighting nor scouting etc are Cassie's specialty. She's the moral center and arguably the most traditionally feminine since Rachel is a Blood Knight.
  • Sir Dinadin from Camelot's Round Table. He doesn't like fighting and thinks Courtly Love is a waste of time. The other things he's noted for is good humor and being more sociable than his fellows: he's the only one that can recognize all of them by their face in addition to their shield crest. This ability is naturally helpful for knights who otherwise might not recognize their own king.
  • Going Postal: Moist for the Post Office staff. It's what Vetinari hired him for. Stanley's considered weird even by other pin collectors, and Groat is... rather eccentric. Moist, however, is a con man, so he knows how to sell an idea.
  • Dolores Umbridge exploited this trope in Harry Potter She doesn't want Hogwarts students trained in offensive magic so she fills the Defense Against the Dark Arts class with lessons like 'negiotation' and 'non-retaliation' on the premise that these skills are just as important for future Auror teams as curses and counter-curses.
    • Note that while this might not sound like a bad idea, the fact that she is imposing these restrictions while a wizarding civil war is brewing in the background (plus the fact that she is personally a Complete Monster for various reasons,) make it clear that, in this case, being The Face is less useful than knowing how to defend yourself from homicidal lunatics.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi herself. She's always out to promote the SOS Brigade and Kyon notes that she 'knows how to get answers' peacefully from the apartment keeper during the investigation of Asakura's disappearance. Though in practice the trope is inverted as she steams-rolls people with either blackmail or her personality... if she's not outright ignoring them.
  • Xuanzang of Journey to the West does all the talking with Muggles etc because he is a courteous monk and his companions are scary-looking (and in Wukong's case, very rude) demons.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Angel has Cordelia play this role for Team Angel. She's the secertary for Angel's detective biz but she can't even use the phone properly. On the other hand, she's the only link to the people he really needs to be in touch with. She's also The Chick and The Heart.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Besides being the only female lead, Penny is the only one of the five who is not a socially incompetent nerd.
  • The core cast of Bones are four "Squints" and a smooth talking FBI agent. While the former collects and analyzes evidence in private the latter's gathering information from people related to the Crime of the Week and interrogating suspects.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander is The Heart and lacks the supernatural powers of his teammates, but is best friends with Buffy and Willow to the end. His storylines tends to revolve around interpersonal relationships, and, as the most consistent of the Scooby Gang, he interacts with everyone.
  • Inara from Firefly. Officially, her role on the ship is to use her social contacts to "open doors that would otherwise be closed" to a group like Captain Mal and the crew.
    • Also Jayne, but in a different way. His official job title on the ship is "Public Relations" and considering the Serenity's relations with the public this usually means hurting people.
  • House - Cameron is The Heart variety. She goes out of her way to 'get to know' the patients, as opposed to the other members of her department who more or less don't care.
  • The IT Crowd: Jen is the socially capable Nerd Nanny for the IT Department. She has no computer skills but unlike the rest of the cast, she has social skills.
  • Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is this, relative to the rest of the group. He frequently proves himself to be the only member of the group who can function in certain social situations, though he is hardly a social person.
  • In the game world of Level Up Never Fail lets Wyat do all the talking with other players because he's The Charmer. In the real world, however, he's Adorkable and Lyle's the one with school-wide friends.
  • Sophie, the grifter from Leverage. She stands out as the stable and emotionally competent one of the group (though she does have her own issues), and her job goes beyond manipulation and grifting. She's usually the one next to Nate talking to the clients, and she's the one reassuring them, not just asking for the facts. When she leaves, each member of the team separately calls her for advice, either on how to deal with the con, or on personal issues.

"We trust Nate to run the con. We trust you to keep us safe."

  • Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog: Deirdre is the only female of five knights, and also the only one to regularly do more than fight. When making alliances who is the local head man going to listen to: The thief, the druid apprentice, the princes from the Land of Never-Heard-Of-It, or the local princess?
  • NCIS Abby, though crossed with The Smart Guy, she's the cutie who interacts with all four of Gibb's group.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force subverts this trope with Xander, who thinks of himself as The Charmer. "Plan Xander" never works and the Rangers have to bust out the weapons.
    • Madison has more success but doesn't feel any better about it.
  • Power Rangers RPM: Ziggy can barely fight, but he gets along well with everyone; even forming his closest bonds with brooding rebel Dillon and, eventually, Broken Bird Dr. K.
  • Carl is the liason of Special Unit 2 to the link underworld. He's not personable or friendly to say the least but he does have useful connections and considering other links want nothing to do with SU 2 he's a step up.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Uhura is both the token female and the token black, as well as the Communications Officer.
  • Daniel from Stargate SG-1, the only civilian on a military team. He's an archeologist/anthropologist/linguist and the Team's diplomat. He's the one putting the polite and peaceful foot forward in negotiations.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Dungeons & Dragons (and by extension, all other RPGs), this character role is known as The Face. Also called "the party face". This is the character that handles the public relations for the party. They have skills in Diplomacy and/or Bluff, and only rarely in Sense Motive/Insight. Traditionally, bards, rogues, or paladins fit well in this role.
  • In the BattleTech RPG one of the pre-made character archetypes is called the Faceman, basically a mix between a public relations manager and a lawyer, who works for a mercenary company. While he is next to useless in any fight it is mentioned that merc commands that don't have one of these guys usually go under within a year, often before seeing a single battle, thanks to legal, bureaucratic and monetary issues.
    • The Clans' merchant caste generally plays this role for the Clans who are willing to deal with the Inner Sphere. Merchants still see the Spheroids as destructive primitives but are able put this aside and hide their feelings during negotiations, unlike the other castes (especially the warriors), to score a good deal.
  • Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game). The Field Manual of the Theron Marks Society (in the supplement Terror from the Stars) recommended having one of the PCs be a Communication Specialist - a charismatic character who is a good talker. They would have a high Appearance and high percentages in the skills Bargain, Credit Rating, Fast Talk and Persuade.
  • Earthdawn. Having a high Charisma is essential for each of the following.
    • The Troubador Discipline was good for this, with Talents like First Impression, Lasting Impression and Haggle.
    • Characters with other Disciplines can fill this role by choosing General Skills such as Acting, Bribery, Conversation, Engaging Banter, Etiquette, Fence, Flirting, Seduction, Streetwise and Trading.
  • Genius: The Transgression, Scholastics serve this purpose in a Player Party. This is important, since a Genius' ever worsening Science-Related Memetic Disorder causes jabir which makes talking to normal humans rather difficult.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings Courtiers are explicitly designed to play this role, as even though most PCs should have basic social skills to survive Rokugan's complicated system of etiquette and conversation, it helps to have someone who can recruit allies and deal with gossip and slander. In a pinch, Air Shugenjas and more politically oriented Magistrates and Bushi (particularly from the Scorpion or Crane Clans) can fill this role.
  • Shadowrun: Any character with a high Charisma and Social Skills like Etiquette, Interrogation, Leadership and Negotiation.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, a group of Tau will often have a member of their diplomat caste around that can do all the talking when they have to meet with members of another species.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Emil from Nie R, who is also The Heart and a Tagalong Kid, does what he can to keep an upbeat attitude and help his friends get along.
  • Stocke, the protagonist of Radiant Historia starts off as The Stoic, but also starts off with a growing circle of friends who he cares about dearly. He helps his party members through a variety of internal and external conflicts, and is always sensitive to their issues. And at one point, he helps his best friend Rosch and an NPC with relationship advice.
  • Super Smash Bros.: in The Subspace Emissary, Peach makes herself useful by breaking up fights and turning potential enemies into friends, mysteriously producing tea, in contrast with the Action Girls Samus and Sheik.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, believe it or not, it's Toph. The youngest and yet the one with the most social savvy. Technically, being the Avatar, it should be Aang at the customs office and the Earth King's birthday etc but she's the one doing the talking.
  • Captain Planet: Ma-Ti is the heart variety because no matter where they go he is instantly liked and can communicate with animals, knowing how they feel and asking for their help. Kawami however is usually the one ending group conflicts while Ma-Ti found where conflict was outside of the group.
  • Fluttershy from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fills this role for the mane cast but only for non-ponies. Otherwise she's a Shrinking Violet. For example, in Dragonshy Twilight's Plan for dealing with a dragon boils down to: 1.) Escort Fluttershy to the dragon's cave and 2.) have her talk with it.
    • Applejack appears to be this for the Apple Family in Ponyville. Mostly due to Big Macintosh's quiet demeanor.
  • Phineas is the one talking with whoever the group needs for their latest "Best day ever", from city officials to delivery guys to the Fireside Girls. The best example would be persuading Love Handel to reunite for a concert while directing the girls to make a stage. Extra points for contrasting his brother Ferb, who rarely ever talks.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers Beast Wars: Optimus contrasts Dinobot and Rhinox contrasts Ratrap. Cheetor is neither strong nor smart nor a leader but something like a Tagalong Kid variety.
      • Silverbolt is another example. He stands out in the group by being a wolf/eagle chimera and he's even social with his enemies. One of them even Heel Face Turned because of his social chivalry.
    • The original Transformers had Bumblebee who is the youngest of the Autobots and gets along with humans the best.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Some would say that Anastas Mikoyan was the most likeable(and stable!) of Stalin's inner circle, a man who went for much more practical (and much less brutal) measures to revive Russia after the Civil War than Stalin. He was also seen as a fairly genteel "traveling salesman" by the West, in comparison to the bombast of those he answered to.
  • Stu Stutcliffe of The Beatles. Didn't know how to play, wasn't all that interested in being in a band. He was just a guy that John Lennon knew from art school and liked to hang out with.