Trope Workshop:Honorable Enemy Ace

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A sub-trope of Worthy Opponent that pilots a vehicle (most commonly a mech or plane), in a war, against the protagonist. The Honorable Enemy Ace's vehicle tends to be a (mostly) stock vehicle of their faction with the addition of a distinctive paint job, even if his opponent pilots an Ace Custom. Due to the vehicular nature of combat, an Honorable Enemy Ace and the protagonist(s) never meet (at least, not knowingly) until after their relationship is established, and will only know their rival's name through military intelligence (if at all).

Sometimes overlaps with Char Clone.

Examples of Honorable Enemy Ace include:

Anime and Manga

  • Char in the original Mobile Suit Gundam is a Zeon mobile suit pilot that pilots that the audience (but not the protagonists) first sees by averting You Have Failed Me and knowing all his underlings by name. He pilots a Zaku II, which differs from the examples that serve as Cannon Fodder only by its enlarged antenna, red paint job and superior speed. Despite Amuro being in what is unquestionably the most advanced mobile at the time, Char keeps up with him by being Weak But Skilled while Amuro has barely skimmed the manual on his mobile suit. For most of the series, Amuro and the rest of White Base only assume (correctly) they're fighting is the famed Red Comet due the red and speedy Zaku II they fight matching his description, while Char only knows Amuro as the pilot of the "white mobile suit".
  • While Overman King Gainer doesn't have mass-produced "overman" mecha, the rest of this trope applies to Cynthia, the Siberian Railroad's Honorable Enemy Ace to Gainer's Ace Pilot.

Comic Books

  • Soontir Fel in the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics defies the mold of Imperial officers by refusing to engage in the plunder, war crimes, and adultery of his superiors and is a skilled enough pilot to give Rogue Squadron trouble. While Rogue Squadron pilot advanced X-Wings, Fel uses a mere TIE Interceptor with stripes. While Fel knows a reasonable deal about Wedge since his wife is secretly Wedge's runaway sister living under an assumed name, Wedge and the rest of Rogue Squadron only know him through reputation. Only when he's captured and realizes the Empire's fear of him defecting while captured puts his wife in danger does he defect in exchange for his wife being extracted. Even then, when he's re-captured by a sane Imperial faction that won't threaten her, he goes right back to Imperial service.. He even holds the title "Baron" to make his inspiration clear.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Video Games

  • "Yellow 13" of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies of whom narration notes "His heart felt compassion towards the weaker enemies he downed" pilots a Su-37 (uncommon, but not exclusive to Yellow Squadron in this universe) with yellow trim and is able to survive multiple sorties with player character Mobius 1 (who would himself be an example were the story shown from the other side). Near the end after catching a child engaged in sabotage against his side, he allows the child to escape rather than kill the child or take action that would result in such an execution.

Real Life

  • The Red Baron Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, who won the respect of the western allies in World War I with his colorful but otherwise stock plane (which he only adopted in the middle of his flying history and wasn't that unusual among his peers) and skilled flying, is the Trope Maker. After he was finally shot down, the opposition gave him a full funeral.