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Darkwing-duck-4 49451 5123

Launchpad McQuack: I don't know, DW, that sounds dangerous!

Darkwing Duck: Yeah? Well then, let's get dangerous!

Things are looking bleak. The protagonist and his allies are in a corner; the villain's kung fu is stronger than theirs. Outnumbered, outgunned, the situation calls for heroism, and unfortunately for our heroes, the only people around are all comic relief, sidekicks or Mentors figures who've never really stepped up to the plate, when they aren't mere Boisterous Weaklings.

Hey, what are they doing? Don't they know that they're outside the Competence Zone? They're prime C-List Fodder!

Hold on a moment... did he just punt that guy through a wall?

A moment in the story when all the quirky, eccentric supporting cast stop being quirky and eccentric and start demonstrating why you should respect your elders. In effect it can often be similar to taking a level in badass except that really, when you think about it, it makes more sense. It's not so much that they pull the power from nowhere. Rather, these characters have always had that power, and it's simply that now they get to show it in a way that doesn't steal the hero's screen time. In some cases, they may even have been actively failing to demonstrate this much-hyped power before.

This was the Catch Phrase of Darkwing Duck, a bumbling hero who revealed his true competence and effectiveness from behind a pompous exterior after saying it.

Sometimes preceded by Lock and Load Montage or a "Hell Yes!" Moment, depending on the circumstances.

Any Retired Badass can pull off this trope if sufficiently provoked. Can overlap with a World of Cardboard Speech, The Coats Are Off, and/or a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner.

See also Giving the Sword to A Noob, Good Is Not Dumb, Scrap Heap Hero, Not So Harmless (the villain version), Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, Lethal Joke Character, I Am Not Left-Handed, This Means War, Misfit Mobilization Moment, and Badass Bystander/Heroic Bystander. When a whole civilization decides to get dangerous, this is a Superweapon Surprise.

Examples of Let's Get Dangerous include:


Anime & Manga Edit

  • Chuck, in Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt. In the last episode, Chuck unzips himself to reveal this... THING, and proceeds to charge straight up the huge Ghost, taking down Fastener (who does something similar, turning into a two headed dragon) along the way.
  • Midway through Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Hanyuu decides to get serious: "I have finally realized that this cycle of suffering is because of your Will. WE WILL NOT LOSE TO YOUR WILL!"
    • Even after that, in the last few episodes, several of the normally useless adults have these kind of moments, with Kasai intimidating a group of mooks into submission with a large shotgun and Mr. Delicious judo-flipping a corrupt superior officer. These are all trumped royally when Akasaka shows off his shiny new levels in badass.
  • At first acquaintance, Rock of Black Lagoon seems harmless and nice, a contrast to his Darker and Edgier crewmates, not to mention the city he lives in, a Wretched Hive. Then, just when you think you're going to win, he shows why he's a member of the Black Lagoon crew.
    • Really shows up in the Baille de la Muerta arc. He just pushes a couple of people in the right directions and sits back and laughs. Literally. Also when he shows his Slasher Smile, and that, no, he really isn't very idealistic at all (contrary to what everyone else thinks).
  • From Fullmetal Alchemist. We've always known that Major Armstrong was tough, but we never really knew what he was capable of until his fight with Sloth. He. Opens. A. Can.
    • That's nothing compared to what Dr. Marcoh had done to Envy.
    • And then there's Hohenheim taking care of Pride, by encasing him in a giant dirt dome.
  • Happened quite often in Katekyo Hitman Reborn, definitely after everyone took levels in badass.
  • Vash the Stampede from Trigun lives and breathes this trope. 90% of the time he's goofing off, playing with local children or even getting into trouble with local thugs, but when the chips are down he really does live up to his nickname of "The Humanoid Typhoon".
  • Macross Frontier contains a direct subversion when Sheryl Nome attempts to fly a Valkyrie for the first time during a battle. She even intones her Catch Phrase and gets a Theme Music Power-Up, but she botches the whole thing as one might expect of an Idol Singer, getting shot down almost immediately.
  • Madlax, Elenore beating (more accurately kicking) the daylights out of a male classmate of who attacked Margaret.
  • In the Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch manga, after being Out of Focus for the entire Michel arc, Caren, Coco and Noel step up to keep the psychotic angel at bay in true Lovely Angels style.
  • Done all the time in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. A duelist will be seen as weak and puny and will spend a turn or two making bad moves. Then suddenly, they'll reveal their weak plays to be part of a master strategy, they'll pull out a super combo that pushes the opponent into a corner, and now every move they make will just push them further in. This is usually accompanied by a minute or two of the character taunting their opponent for playing into their hand and explaining their combo in great detail to emphasize how powerful it is.
    • Joey in particular demonstrates this trope a lot. Most of the time, he's the Plucky Comic Relief far outshadowed by his King of Games best friend, who, after all, has card-playing superpowers. But every once in a while, when you push him up against a wall, you threaten the well-being of his sister, Mai, or Yugi, and his eyes become little windows to hell and you brace yourself for a hard smackdown. The only time this has failed is his duel against Marik and he managed to (mostly) withstand an attack by an Egyptian god and get Marik to practically crap his pants before collapsing mere seconds before winning the duel.
    • Mokey-Mokey Smackdown, anybody?
    • Not to mention Yugi himself. In the second series, to a minor degree--whenever Yugi's friends are threatened, expect a very pissed Yami/Yugi possession...symbiosis...thing... to kick ass and take names (or whenever Yugi duels in a tournament; card games are serious business!)--but in a very big way in the first series. Basic plot: Enemy of the week bullies/belittles/generally makes life a living hell for Yuugi or one of his friends. Yuugi just sort of takes it, until things go too far even for him. Enter Yami, ancient Pharaoh, master gamer, total sociopath. Three words, season 0 watchers: "It's game time." And God help the baddie who cheats in a Shadow Game...
  • In Naruto we spend 50 episodes watching the kids get more and more powerful with only an occasional demonstration of power from one of the teachers. A person might start to think that the kids are the real powerhouses right up until the Big Bad attacks the village with his Mooks. At which point everyone's parents show up and start tossing around powers that are an order of magnitude above what any of the main cast has shown up until that point. (The battle between the Big Bad and the Old Master involves necromancy, using the Monkey King as a partner (!?), dragon's heads made of earth shooting fire balls, and summoning the freakin' Grim Reaper to help out.)
    • Meanwhile the parents of the supporting cast all demonstrate their phenomenal powers by using their children's power at a much greater level. Chouji's father makes his entire body grow ten times in size, Shikamaru's father strangles people with their own shadows, Ino's dad mind controls a squad of enemy ninjas and makes them beat each other up, and we don't know what Hinata's dad did, but there were about thirty corpses lying around once he was finished. This doubles as a teaser showing what powers the support crew will get to obtain in coming storylines.
      • Hinata's father used a larger version of Kaiten (Rotation for those fans of the English version), that spinning shield Neji used during his fight with Naruto. Of course, Hiashi's was implied to either have enough force to kill them outright, or was able to toss them high enough into the air that the fall would kill them.
      • Also, from that same arc we have the scene where Naruto, Sakura and Shikamaru are attempting to chase down Sasuke and Gaara, while themselves being tracked by some Sound nin. Shikamaru volunteers to slow their pursuers down. While it works initially, with him catching all but one of the pursuers with his shadow, it's made quite obvious that he can't hold them for long, and they're really gonna let him have it the moment they're free. Cue Asuma dropping out of literally nowhere and wasting the lot of them in about five seconds.
    • You also have Chouji, who (while admittedly more dangerous than a normal person) is more or less a comic relief character. Then he uses his ultimate soldier pill in the fight with Jirobo and he becomes a veritable font of ass-kicking.
      • In a recent chapter Chouji once again opens a can of whoop-ass with the same butterfly wings, this time without the pills.
    • Now we see one of the patron saints of Neutral Female, Konan harm the Big Bad in a battle of epic proportions
    • Sai: After watching his resurrected brother Shin blow up and reform, Deidara continued to taunt and taunt him until Sai finally had enough. Instantly creating two gods with his jutsu, he appeared behind Sasori and Deidara and slammed them into Kankuro's trap.
    • Although his fame as badass was already set, the Fourth Hokage, Minato, pulled this many times, since most of the time he acted as a Nice Guy, even his future wife thought he was a sissy and he also attempted to negotiate with Tobi when he had the newborn Naruto at knifepoint, but after putting both his wife and son in a safe place and donning his Fourth Hokage coat... Holy shit.
    • We also get a villainous example with Tobi, who seems to be practically a tag-along and less threatening than even many Filler villains. Surprise, he's the Big Bad.
  • The latter half of Digimon Savers has plenty of awesome from Satsuma, Miki, Megumi, Yushima and their partners. Unfortunately, while it is revealed that Yggdrasil strictly forbade Kamemon and Kudamon to fight while they observed the humans, lines like "It's about time we showed off our Perfect levels," don't exactly dispel the Fridge Logic.
  • Shinkuro from the anime Kure-nai. After 11 episodes of all but getting his ass handed to him and looking incompetent, he finally decides to fight for real in the finale, easily kicking major ass. It then culminates with him seeing his mentor/boss get stabbed, which triggers him into fully releasing the assassin's blade surgically placed inside of his arm. He goes into a mindless killing rage, using previously unseen insane skills, wiping out the guy who did it in under a second. Daaamn...
    • While Kurenai Shinkurou does qualify (he has some martial arts training, but his peers are far superior), similar occurrences happen earlier on. Additionally, the blade appears involuntarily and Shinkurou says outright he doesn't want to use it. However, damn is right.
  • In Family Compo, Uncle Sora mentions that his father is the one that taught him kendo. a few chapters later he uses a massage stick to open a can of whoop-ass on some invaders of the house.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind gives us Lord Yupa, a kindly old bearded guy, sweet with children, loved by all. Then he lands on an enemy battleship, whips up two blades and starts cutting terrified mooks apart.
  • One episode of The Big O has Roger's mild-mannered butler Alfred Norman pulling a huge, belt-fed gun out of Hammerspace to protect his employer and his robot girl sidekick.
    • Then, in the same episode, when he's run out of big guns, he whips out twin semiautomatic pistols, fires them straight overhead, shredding a few robots about to land on him, all in the time it takes to yell "Sons of bitches!"
  • Several comic relief characters from Dragon Ball fall in this category. Master Roshi started out as a purely comic character (introduced as a pervert with a pet turtle); only later did he reveal his fighting skills. Yajirobe was instrumental in defeating Vegeta, and several Big Bads came to regret underestimating Krillin. Even Mr. Satan has his moments -- he's worthless against ki fighters, but he can take down any human thug with ease.
    • Are you kidding, at the end he risked his life to save Vegeta and even helped give Goku the power he needed to take down Kid Buu.
    • Even Goku himself can come off like this, Often joking and light-hearted even in the midst of battle. But when you actually piss him off? You are done. Period. This even shows in his English VA as you can tell the tone in his voice clearly changes to show he's dead serious.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: When faced with the destruction of her new home and death of her friends, Caro, the supporting healer of the group, summons a Godzilla sized dragon that proceeds to wipe the floor with the bad guys.
    • From the first season: Chrono Harlaown. We'd been getting vague hints about his skill with magic, despite being confirmed weaker than the protagonist, but he never seemed to actually do anything, and the relative strength level of the other TSAB mages wasn't helping his case. Then, in the finale, he obliterates several dozen Mecha Mooks in a single attack without the slightest effort, leaving Nanoha and Yuuno gaping. And before that, he goes One-Man Army, Storming the Castle that previously swallowed a troop of hardened adult officers (Chrono is barely 12 at the time) and spit them out.
  • In Bleach the quirky father, Isshin Kurosaki, confronts Grand Fisher, and reveals that he was once a Captain level Shinigami. He then kills Grand Fisher with a single attack.
  • The cast of Ninja Nonsense do this, but only in the theme!
  • Hellsing. Walter C. Dornez is a rather benign butler who nonetheless displays some technical wizardry with weapons. When vampires attack the compound, however, he reveals himself to be a Retired Badass and goes into full Battle Butler mode, slicing through squads of mooks at a time with his Razor Floss.
  • In Soul Eater, it is very easy to discount Shinigami-sama as harmless Mission Control, what with his goofy mask, silly speech pattern and Verbal Tics, and his tendency to spend most of his time inside the central chamber of Shibusen and doing Boke And Tsukkomi Routines with his Death Scythe. Then the Kishin imprisoned under Death City breaks free, and Shinigami is allowed to show the cast just why he's considered a Physical God: His Megaton Punch does have some combat-related ability, for one...
    • Spirit gets this during his and Stein's fight with Medusa, in a moment of Mood Whiplash where he muses about removing her white coat and promptly points out that, being the Death Scythe, he has to kill her. He is also eager to fight Asura with Shinigami in the anime.
    • Marie Mjolnir as well. She may be a kindhearted Team Mom who can get along with pretty much everybody, but when she gets serious, shit tends to get pretty real. Justin Law found this out the hard way.
    • Younger shinigami, Death the Kid has shown off what happens when he takes fights 'seriously' without breaking down into OCD-driven mass destruction. With a little help from his dad (essentially, given what the Sanzu Line thing did to Shinigami), he goes from missing an arm and very close to Mosquito killing him, to fighting on a par with the vampire. He didn't exactly win, but he didn't lose either. And his arm got reattached.
      • It's worth mentioning his two weapons, Liz and Patty. They act like his retainers and are generally both cheerful, laidback girls. But mess with them and they'll be very happy to show you just how they managed to survive most of their lives on the streets of New York.
    • Black*Star gets a lot of this as well. Once he manages to calm down his I-Will-Surpass-The-Gods complex and fight seriously, he's one of the most frighteningly competent characters in the series, even being called the current strongest meister in the Academy and breaking Kid out of insanity by literally beating it out of him.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, after over 40 chapters of joking, price-gouging and perversion, Jack Rakan struck a stance for the first time and hammered home the reason why they call him The Thousand Blades and why he's the only gladiator in history to ever win his freedom. This was a point proven as one should be: a massive fist driven into the hero's gut - decades of tempered strength and refined fighting skill will do that.
    • Later on, and even more shockingly, Nodoka proves that she will screw you up, even if you can erase people from existence. There's a good reason that Fate considers her as dangerous as Negi.
  • The main characters of Mahoujin Guru Guru are easily distracted, to say the least. But both Nike and Kukuri have managed to perform some fine feats of fighting evil when the need arises. Especially when one or the other are in danger.
  • Chichiri and Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi both tend to be comic relief, with Chichiri sticking to the "religious" side of Religious Bruiser and Nuriko a sassy Wholesome Crossdresser. Except when you need Chichiri to single-handedly get you out of the enemy stronghold, or when you need Nuriko to take on a ferocious wolf-man, and they reveal their heights of badassitude.
  • Hare from the Monster Rancher anime was generally portrayed as competent, but on more than one occasion his own arrogance would result in his plans failing dramatically, forcing him to improvise. Thus focused, his IQ would practically double.
  • Black Butler. Holy crap. Do not mess with the Phantomhive servants. Just...don't.
    • Or Lizzy.
  • A lot of characters from Saiunkoku Monogatari. Normally childish, goofy Ryuuki turns out to be only pretending to be an idiot for a variety of complicated reasons and manages to take down several highly trained assassins to save Shuurei, in spite of his fear of the dark and, oh, not being able to see; Shouka, Shuurei's blundering, spacey father is actually the legendary assassin Black Wolf, and... well, just don't hurt Shuurei and let him know about it; Ryuuren the eccentric genius manages to take down bad guys by the dozen using only his flute; and even the little brainiac Eigetsu turns out to have a split personality, and his other side is an insanely good fighter. And that's just the tip of the iceberg; don't even get me started on the women....
  • In the Mai-Otome finale, the school is under attack and the Blue Sky Sapphire heroine Arika Yumemiya and Fire-Stirring Ruby Mai Tokiha and even the headmaster Ice Silver Crystal Natsuki Kruger, have been forced to Materialize to combat the invasion. But then they hear the familiar voice of Miss Maria Graceburt, one of the most feared teachers in Garderobe... Who has MATERIALIZED and thus REGAINED HER YOUTH. Cue the young Miss Maria Flash Stepping towards the monsters, and in the next scene we merely see her blade dripping their blood. Her remark?

 Miss Maria: It's shameful that, even in my old age, I still have to show this graceful form.

    • Doubles as a Never Mess with Granny moment. Especially since she's been getting provoked by the invaders since the start, and her patience just reached its limit.
  • Nanael from Queen's Blade is a ditzy angel who always gets in trouble and can't even fly straight, because of her asymmetric wings--until the moment she beats up three of the most badass characters without even breaking a sweat.
  • In One Piece, Usopp plays this trope magnificently in Thriller Bark when he calls out for help, then rescues himself as Sogeking complete with gag theme turned Crowning Music of Awesome.
    • Also can be seen when Luffy cracks his knuckles, Zoro puts his bandana on his head rather than around his arm, Sanji lights a cigarette in the middle of a fight, and Robin brings her hands up to the opposite shoulders, when they do these, you know they're taking their fight seriously.
    • When Usopp and Luffy fight over ownership of Merry (it was about to be decommissioned), Usopp, who had just been beaten senseless and is covered in bandages and bruises, goes crazy. The first eight minutes of that fight is nothing but him flooring Luffy with everything he has. He still is taken down with one hit though. The one hit that connects, that is. Luffy's first solid punch gets absorbed and reflected by an Impact Dial, courtesy of Usopp.
    • Though he gave Sanji a good fight in the Alabasta arc, Mr. 2 was generally considered a joke both before and after his Heel Face Turn. Then he reappears in Impel Down, and fights off a pack of the highest level prison guard "mooks". With his bare hands. In sub-zero temperatures. Half naked. To save the main character's life. Damn.
    • In the Thriller Bark storyline Brook was introduced as a bumbling socially incompetent idiot. Many chapters later he suddenly had one of the creepier dramatic entrances of the series and one-shotted a giant monster who was wiping the floor with Franky and Robin at the same time.
    • Chopper, the tiny reindeer is a comic relief character, right? Wrong.
  • Happens at the beginning of Ninja Scroll: The Series. Shigure is always getting angry at her fellow villagers about their inability to take their martial arts training seriously -- it turns out that the entire village is made up of skilled fighters whose sole job is to protect her, and who were only pretending to be lousy at it. Unfortunately even they all get wiped out by an army of demons, so she has to flee.
  • Folgore and Kanchomé are normally comic relief in Konjiki no Gash Bell, winning all their battles through tenacity alone. However, in the manga, Kanchomé's true power is realized when he locks Gomu in an illusion where he is constantly tortured; only Folgore himself can calm Kanchomé down. Later, Gash wins the final battle through Kanchomé's direct help when the latter makes Clear Note believe he destroyed the Earth, when it was only an illusion Kanchomé created that was destroyed.
    • That's nothing! While in training to beat Clear Note, Kanchome and Gash spar and Kanchome beats gash even though he used the super powered Bao Zakeruga. That's right, the comic relief took down the Title character in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown
  • While Kirby is as competent (read: violent) in the games as the player, in the anime adaptation he becomes very much a Kid Hero with roughly mental capacity and speech patterns of a toddler, and spends most of his time eating everything remotely edible he comes across and being cute. But generally after the Monster of the Week smacks him around like the pink rubber ball he is, Fumu tells him to inhale and he gains instant competence with whatever ability he copies and its use in battle, generally resulting in some serious asskicking even with the most unlikely abilities.
  • Also, in the Pokémon anime, Misty's Psyduck. Normally totally useless, but whenever it gets a serious headache, it gains amazing psychic powers.
    • Misty's Togepi. The little ball of cuteness that can barely walk on its own packs a mean Metronome attack which saves the day every time it uses it.
    • Ash turning his hat backwards might also count in the earlier episodes, although he's done it once or twice recently as well.
  • Mitsumi from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure. Of course, it makes sense that she's that powerful, seeing as she used to be a Team Galactic officer.
  • Yellow from Pokémon Special. She is sweet and pacifistic to the degree it pains her to hurt enemies (a psychic empath), even if it means more trouble for her, not to mention she's a terrible battler and her Pokemon's levels are rather laughably low compared to the other Dex Holders. However, push her to the edge enough and her Pokemon's levels get boosted up to the point that she can take down just about anybody. (This phenomenon has been scientifically measured, their powers are roughly tripled to quadrupled.) Lance got his ass handed to him and Sird/Storc wisely decided to make a run for it before Yellow got the chance to do the same to her.
    • Paka and Uji, Platinum's real bodyguards, are a pair of goofballs who have a penchant for corny posing. Put them in a fight, and they show that they are a pair of goofballs who have a penchant for corny posing along with a strong work ethnic and equally strong battling skills.
  • Any time this music plays in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, it's a sure sign that Battler is about to be way, way more awesome than anyone expected. This means doing something like completely ignoring the most powerful attack the Siestas can throw at him. Other human characters also have Hidden Depths of badassitude, but he's the only one to have a separate theme song for them.
  • Hayato and Kai, and later Sayla, of Mobile Suit Gundam do this every once in a while if the White Base is in a pinch, not always to great avail. This is also tried in various other series, but, being Real Robot anime, it doesn't always work out so well.
  • While the City Hunter Ryo Saeba may be a Chivalrous Pervert, once you get him started with the task at hand, watch out.
  • Erika and Walker of Durarara. Not only are they Dollars, the were also instrumental in the downfall of the Blue Squares Gang, which they accomplished by pouring gasoline on the leaders of the Blue Squares and lighting them on fire.
  • Generally, Gintoki doesn't need more than the wooden sword he bought in an infomercial to slice and dice his enemies, alien airships, towering mechas, and so on. There are at most two or three enemies in Gintama whom he deems strong enough that he decides to swap his wooden sword for a real sword in the fight. However, you'll know that he still doesn't consider his enemies challenging until he starts dual wielding.
  • Matsuda shooting at Light in the final episode of Death Note
  • Juvia Loxar from Fairy Tail is a childish Third Person Person who seems to only exist so she can be Gray Fullbuster's Stalker with a Crush. The entire thing is played for laughs, because no one considers Juvia capable of any real malice or harm anyway. Then one of the enemies in the S Class Trial arc says she's out to kill Gray...Juvia rises up from a supposed defeat and starts speaking normally, ready to go into Violently Protective Girlfriend mode.
  • Many characters in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, but most notably Yokoshima the perverted Butt Monkey of the series. While he treated harshly by his employer and also get the worst of everything. When he does get serious he can really cause some mondo damage. Hell he winds up taking down Medusa, once of the series biggest bads, not once but twice.
  • Several times in Baccano, but in particular "Jacuzzi Splot Cries, Gets Scared, And Musters Reckless Valor."
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu/Wild Tiger has shown himself to be a complete dork and something of a klutz. However, dork or not, he's still a veteran superhero (and, according to Yuri Petrov's archived data, a former holder of the King of Heroes title) and demonstrates quite regularly that he can be quite a badass dork.
    • Origami Cyclone as well. This is a guy who's main style of 'heroism' is to pop up everywhere there's a camera, largely because he doesn't think his superpower measures up to the other heroes. Later in the series, after a boost of confidence, he proves to be much more Badass than he had been before, using his power to disguise himself as a wanted poster at one point, and proving that he really can fight in the finale.
      • And his infiltration of the Ouroboros base, which took guts and was almost a Heroic Sacrifice once Jake found him.
  • Xerxes Break of Pandora Hearts says this almost verbatim toward the end of the anime. Although he has revealed to the audience how truly terrifyingly badass he is during earlier fights, none of the main cast have seen him do it until that point, and their reaction is little less than speechless shock. To top it off, every time he gets dangerous, he does so without changing his overly flamboyant behavior and speech.
  • In the Axis Powers Hetalia movie, everyone pulls one of these; given that almost nobody in the entire cast is usually serious, this is something of a welcome change. After the heroes have been stranded on an island, the alien mothership lands and deposits a very large army of faceless aliens around them, who respond to this threat by punching the crap out of it. Especially awesome moments include America remembering he has super strength and backflipping out of the way of several shots, Russia facepalming the aliens out of the way [1] and Japan picking up a stick to wield as a katana. Sadly, they still lose, but even that has its fair share of epic moments; for example, when Germany realizes everyone else has been hit:

  "All right then, come on! I'll kill you all with my bare hands!" *proceeds to take down another dozen before finally getting taken down*


Comics Edit

  • Comes up occasionally in DC's Legion of Super-Heroes comic regarding the Legion of Substitute Heroes, a group of misfit heroes rejected for Legion membership because their powers are lame. A particularly notable example appears in Gail Simone's four-issue "For No Better Reason" storyline: after all hell breaks loose on Earth, Legion support staff member Chuck Taine sends the team the only backup he can find - apparent C-List Fodder from the Legion Academy. Who proceed to kick butt and take names.
    • Likewise, in the recent "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" storyline in Action Comics, not only do a group of third-rate villains take over the world, but they're stopped in large part by the Legion of Substitute Heroes, a team that raises What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? to an art form.
      • To be fair, the Subs don't have crappy powers (one of them has all the energy projection powers of the ENTIRE EMOTIONAL SPECTRUM, for example, from the GL comics), they just have sucky methods of using them. Stone Boy, sure, he has crap powers. But Fire Lad, Chlorophyll Kid, and Rainbow Girl? Just not the best methods of application for their powers. When they use them well? It's pure awesome.
  • In The Astounding Wolf Man Cecil assembles a crew of all of the series' badasses to storm a corrupt research facility. Before they go jumping out of their plane we see Wolf-Man, Gray Wolf, Vampire Girl, Mecha-Maid, Agent Hunter, and Donald lined up with loads and loads of dakka and BFGs. Oh yes, dangerous indeed.
  • Plastic Man in the Justice League of America comics was often this. Despite nominally being the comic relief, he kicked bad guy ass so often that Batman classed him as possibly the most dangerous member of the League. At one point someone writes Plastic Man off as a useless addition to the team, whereupon Batman points out that this is someone that has survived being shattered into millions of pieces and scattered on the ocean's floor for thousands of years, and is not to be trifled with.
    • Notably, in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again one character refers to him as "Immeasurably powerful. Absolutely nuts," and asserts that he could kill them all with ease.
    • When the Martian Manhunter turned into a crazy, homicidal Burning Martian who took out the rest of the JLA with ease, Plastic Man was the one who took him on. Single-handedly.
      • It turns out that the main reason Batman wanted Plastic Man on the team was to have somebody who could stop the Martian Manhunter if he went rogue. Because he's Batman.
    • In JLA issues 52-54 (collected in the Divided We Fall TPB) the Justice League were divided between the superhero selves and their civilian identities Plastic Man pretty much became a dadaist lunatic unable to concentrate on anything, more or less a Flanderized version of his usual personality. Eel O'Brian, on the other hand, was a mean as hell Badass Longcoat who rallied the civilian identity squad together and acted as their leader, not to mention delivering a brutal mocking as he beat the crap out of Bruce Wayne.
  • Empowered is a case of this happening to the main character. Four out of five times, poor Emp winds up tied up, beat up, and/or humiliated. That fifth time, though, is generally a thing of beauty, up to and including the point where she imprisoned an unstoppable Cosmic Horror in a set of power-draining alien bondage gear after it tossed her more-powerful teammates around like rag dolls.
  • The whole point of one section of The Dark Knight Returns is the lead up to a shopkeeper realising that when a little old lady is mugged outside your store all it takes is to shout a bit and get one hit in on the mugger to make it right.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comic Wolves at the Gate, we have Dracula. While he is technically as dangerous as any other vampire, he is mostly played for laughs both in his one appearance during the TV show and during the comic. However, in the final battle of the issue he delivers a chilling reminder of just how dangerous he can be when he's derided as an old man by one of the enemy leaders along with an awesome speech:

 Dracula: "Did you forget who I used to be? I've killed more men than God's plagues combined. And that was before I started eating people for fun. The fields of Europe used to stream with the blood of my enemies. Trust me... the vampire's the least of your concerns. It's the old man you need to worry about."

  • In the Fantastic Four, Susan Storm's powers were used mostly defensively, so she was more an obstacle to a villain than a threat. However, when she started taking a level in badass in the '80s, villains soon found that beating up Reed Richards in front of his supposedly timid wife was a good way to get suffocated, slashed, flattened, mercilessly squeezed, or slammed through walls by those pesky invisible force fields.
  • In Don Rosa's "The Magnificent Seven (Minus Four) Caballeros", the villain is leaving on the only canoe available to leave Donald Duck, José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles trapped in an ancient ruin, to be eaten by a giant anaconda sooner or later. As the three despair of stopping him or ever getting out, Donald mentally hears everyone back home whose disrespectful attitudes he's effectively escaping on this adventure scolding him for failing again. He gets so angry that he swings on a liana over the piranha-infested river to reach the boat and viciously attack the (armed) villain. His example also inspires the other two to get dangerous and do things such as defeat the giant snake with an umbrella.


Film - Animated Edit

  • Despite all the training he received, the title character from Kung Fu Panda seemed absolutely no match for the enemy... until the decisive battle.
  • Princess Fiona from Shrek, who dispatches the attackers in the middle of movie.
  • Rafiki from The Lion King definitely qualifies. After all we only thought of him a just a mystic adviser. Come the final battle, he busting hurt on the hyenas like nobody's business.
  • The enchanted objects in Beauty and the Beast.
    • Beast himself when Belle returns and begs for Gaston to not kill him.
  • Eric from The Little Mermaid spends a good portion of the film getting jerked around in one way or another, then the sea witch tries to kill Ariel and he has to introduce her to Mister Giant Pointy Stick.
  • Despicable Me, towards the end when Vector has captures the girls, and refuses to release them, even though Gru gave him the Moon. Gru, who up until this point was doing an OK job, decided to finally step up his game. Going so far as to dodge Vector's defenses, and punch out a shark.
  • The scene in Dumbo, where the bratty kids who are Too Dumb to Live are smacked around by Mama Elephant, Mrs. Jumbo. She even throws a bale of hay. Too bad the humans lock her up in a prison wagon.
  • For most of Disney's Robin Hood, Little John is a jovial sidekick who makes jokes about Prince John from afar and has to be coaxed into going along with Robin's plans. But when the Prince is about to execute Robin at the tournament, all Little John does is grab the Prince by the collar, point a dagger at his back and growl "Okay hotshot, now you tell your men to untie my buddy or I'll..."


Film - Live Action Edit

  • Gremlins 2, Gizmo, the adorable cute thing, after being put through hell by the Gremlins, watches clips from Rambo, ties on a bandanna, and starts shooting flaming arrows.

 Kate: What happened to him?

Billy: I think they pushed him too far.

  • Hot Fuzz uses this no less than three times.
    • The main character is a total Badass and City Mouse. A small town's combination of culture shock and having a dark secret reduces him to fleeing because he "can't prove anything"...until seeing covers of the movies Point Break and Bad Boys 2 (yes, really) reminds him that he is a Badass. He comes back.
    • In another example, the formerly comedic and apparently useless other policemen reveal themselves to be competent badasses.
    • In the oddest and funniest use of this, the evil schemers of the town turn out to all be members of the Neighbourhood Watch Association - and almost all of them are over 70. This includes the Police Chief, a woman who runs a corner shop, a husband and wife who run a pub and a priest! And they're all fucking badass!!!
  • This is the entire point of Sky High. All the quirky "sidekick" characters use their powers to great effect at the end. Granted, one of them simply refused to take the classification test and another didn't use her full powers until the big fight...
  • Reservoir Dogs has the dying Mr Orange, who before appeared to be a sniveling wreck (not to mention an unconscious one) dragging himself up and shooting Mr Blonde. Fifteen times. And then repeatedly pulling the trigger of his empty weapon, just in case there was another bullet hiding in there somewhere. Blonde, having finished torturing the police officer, was about to light him on fire. Orange wasn't going to let that happen.
  • Star Wars Even though we knew Yoda was supposed to be a Badass really, his ping-pong lightsabering in Attack of the Clones was still totally unexpected.
    • Yoda also does this before/after in The Empire Strikes Back. At first he appears to be a harmless yahoo who might conceivably be useful in guiding Luke to someone else, and a few scenes later he's lifting Luke's fighter out of the bog. With his mind. Granted, the argument with the ghost of Obi-Wan is a pretty big hint, but still, the first time you see it, it's an eye opener.
      • And this is taking into account the fact that Yoda's implied to be a bit rusty/out of practice by this point, what with having been hiding from Palpatine this whole time.
      • ...And that he's in the final year of his 900+ year existence
  • Used a lot in Kung Fu Hustle:
    • The three masters of Pig Sty Alley kick the crap out of the Axe Gang after looking pretty ridiculous earlier on.
    • The Landlord and Landlady display their superior abilities against the zither-playing assassins after looking like little more than a trashy, middle-aged couple.
    • The Beast is a bald, tubby old man in a wife beater, boxers, and flip-flops, but displays his Badass abilities by casually catching a bullet with two fingers, fired inches away from his head.
    • Sing spends most of the film as the Butt Monkey, but transforms into a one-man wrecking crew for the final battle.
  • Snakes on a Plane: "Enough is enough!" I have had it with these m*f* snakes on this m*f* plane! And the rest is history. Not that they weren't getting dangerous before that. But this is when the movie completely acknowledges what lengths they'll go to.
  • Shaolin Soccer uses the same trope. The team of monks play their first game with a local bunch of hooligans and are getting their butts literally kicked until they turn themselves around and finally harness their kung fu superpowers.
  • The Ewoks from Star Wars. Despite their size they are still a warrior/hunting race with old-style ingenuity.
  • Captain Chaos from Cannonball Run. "When he puts on that cape and that mask, he'll blow your goddamed doors off!'
  • In Star Trek (2009 movie), Sulu pulls this off. After several lighter, comedic moments he proceeds to brawl out two massive Romulans (while Kirk is busy getting his ass kicked, no less).
    • The Captain asks for volunteers with "Combat Training". In the shuttle, Kirk asks Sulu what his training was to the response "Fencing", with a look of disdain from Kirk. Landing on the drill, Sulu promptly whips out a folding sword and goes to work
  • The Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that end up joining with Shua and Dr. Noah in Sky Blue display considerable cunning and fighting skill when they attack Ecoban.
  • In Iron Man, when the frivolous playboy with no combat training Tony Stark first puts on his suit of Power Armor. He proceeds to wreck every terrorist fool in sight using flamethrowers and other volatile munitions.
  • Richard, Jennifer Aniston's brother in The Breakup, played by John Michael Higgins. Though a Flamboyant Gay, Richard delivers a quick curb stomp when Vince Vaughn lays a hand on him. Later, the ego-hurt Vaughn complains that he was sucker-punched before he knew he was in a fight, and promises to bring some "Polacks who don't have a future" to back him up next time.
  • Mystery Men takes this trope as its premise.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the aging Decepticon Jetfire seems to be a harmless, senile old robot that spends his days hiding in a museum. That is, until the last battle, where he flies in, whips out a battle ax, and cuts another robotic combatant in half while yelling "Let me show you how we brought the pain in my day!"
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: When Eddie Valiant, who's already been starting to drop the alcoholic slob act as he's been forced into action, gets ready to finally enter Toontown, digs out his giant toon gun, and instead of taking a swig from his bottle of booze throws it in the air and shoots it with an anthropomorphic Indian bullet that produces a tomahawk bigger than itself and smashes the bottle in mid-air. That's the only thing the gun ever is useful for in the movie.
    • Roger himself also gets a moment to shine. After Eddie and Jessica are taken captive, Roger attempts to save them by bursting up through a drain in the floor. (Hey, he's a 'Toon. He can do things like that.) In a Crowning Moment of Awesome, he holds Judge Doom at gunpoint and declares "We 'Toons may act idiotic, but we aren't stupid!" Of course, his heroic act comes to a halt after a literal ton of bricks is dropped on his head.
  • Mr. Miyagi in every single Karate Kid movie. Given, it's no longer surprising after the first movie, but it isn't until the end of the first film that he demonstrates he "still has it after all those years."
  • In the Russian film Guest From the Future, a space pirate corners the child protagonists. Then their sports teacher shows up, the pirate threatens her, she throws him out of the window -- on the 5th floor...
  • In The Black Hole, V.I.N.CENT is a cute little robot sidekick. Then he faces up against Maximillian.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean a couple of ineffectual bumbling soldiers at one moment climb onto a ship where a fierce and pretty one-sided battle between soldiers and undead pirates unleashes. Having taken in that horrifying sight, they promptly shake hands and rush into the fray with a battle cry.
    • These same guys survive to the end of the third film. Their fate after that is unknown, although they seem to have left the Navy and joined the pirates.
      • Red uniforms. Army or Marines.
    • Also, in Dead Man's Chest, Pintel and Ragetti, who have up to this point been portrayed as bumbling idiots, are seen carving up some of the crew of the Flying Dutchman, who are nigh-unkillable supernatural baddies.
  • Anna in Hudson Hawk is more or less useless throughout the movie, due to being a nun, until of course Minerva Mayflower makes the mistake of insulting the Big Guy.
  • Bruce Wayne in Batman.

  "NOW YOU WANNA GET NUTS? C'mon, let's get nuts."

  • Patrick Winslow and the time-lost Smurfs approach Gargamel's hideout in Central Park to rescue Papa Smurf, with Patrick wielding a crowbar, the Smurfs cricking their necks, and the soundtrack playing AC/DC's "Back In Black" in The Smurfs.
  • The Wild Hunt is basically a countdown to this trope as a simple live-action role-playing game suddenly devolves into Lord of the Flies style murder.


Literature Edit

  • A prime example of this is the last battle in Harry Potter. The professors and faculty of Hogwarts, along with other formerly comedic secondary characters, upon being confronted with an attacking Death Eater army, finally demonstrate why they are teaching their subjects.
    • Including, among other things: Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix Lestrange. Singlehandedly, while Bellatrix was shown to singlehandedly fight three members of Dumbledore's Army to a standstill at once! Don't mess with her kids.
      • More specifically, don't mess with the only daughter of a woman who's raised 6 boys simultaneously. Especially when one of those sons was just killed.
      • In the film version, she is laughing when Molly shows up, and after her first attack, goes straight into an Oh Crap while Molly delivers her declaration. Then she actually starts to take her seriously as a combatant, but stops to cackle at her, at which point Molly starts driving her back, then breaks her into little pieces.
    • Hey, don't forget Professor Trelawney! Something has to be said about the woman who drives off a werewolf using crystal balls as projectiles.
    • Not to mention Horace Slughorn, the overweight and decadent Slytherin who likes to cultivate powerful connections among his students not only returns to the final battle bringing badly needed reinforcements, but also joins McGonagall and Shacklebolt in personally dueling Voldemort.
    • Also in the final battle, the thestrals and the house elves (led by KREACHER, of all people) take part in the battle, greatly assisting the heroes.
    • Dobby in Book 2, and then later in Book 7, where he completely owns Bellatrix and the Malfoys and ends up pulling both a Big Damn Heroes and a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Neville Longbottom, who, after being everyone's favorite loser for 6 years, steps up to the Carrows, leads an underground resistance group and single handedly decapitates Voldemort's beloved snake and Horcrux Nagini after being paralyzed and lit on fire.
      • The special-release Neville Longbottom Chocolate Frog Card states plainly that he is one of only three individuals ever to single-handedly duel Voldemort and survive (the other two being Harry Potter and Dumbledore). The phrase "Took a Level In Badass" just doesn't seem adequate, somehow.
  • The broom-sweeping elder monk Lu Tze from Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time spends most of the book bluffing and letting other people do the work for him, repeatedly saying that people should be cautious around wizened little men (i.e. himself). Only in the last few pages of the book does he show that his reputation is perfectly justified, as he is a legendary martial arts master capable of taking down the Incarnation of Time in single combat.
    • Otto Chriek from The Truth also qualifies. As a vampire who's sworn off biting the living, he's portrayed throughout the book as a silly but sympathetic figure. And then his employer is threatened, and the resulting fight scene borrows heavily from the then-recent The Matrix film.
      • In Thud, he explains that he works hard to appear silly and pathetic, because if he didn't he'd be creepy and genuinely frightening. There's a couple of hints now and then that he might be a retired complete monster.
    • Magrat of Lords and Ladies, who until that book had been the Granola Girl. She practically embodies this trope the whole way through as she shoots a crossbow bolt through a keyhole and demolishes the Queen of the Elves. The thing about small, furry creatures is some of them are mongooses.

 The elf looked down at the crossbow. "I won't beg," it said.

"Good," said Magrat, and fired.

    • And later on...

 The Queen attacked again, exploding into her uncertainty like a nova. She was nothing. She was insignificant. She was so worthless and unimportant that even something completely worthless and exhaustively unimportant would consider her beneath contempt. In laying hands upon the Queen she truly deserved an eternity of pain. She had no control over her body. She did not deserve any. She did not deserve a thing.

The disdain sleeted over her, tearing the planetary body of Magrat Garlick to pieces. She'd never be any good. She'd never be beautiful or intelligent, or strong. She'd never be anything at all. Self-confidence? Confidence in what?

The eyes of the Queen were all she could see. All she wanted to do was lose herself in them, and the ablation of Magrat Garlick roared on, tearing at the strata of her soul... exposing the core.

She bunched up her fist and hit the Queen between the eyes.

    • Then there's Stanley in Going Postal. A preternaturally neurotic postal worker (he was raised by peas. As in, the vegetable), he's usually just very polite and obsessive about certain topics - unless you push him too far, in which case he has a Little Moment and hits you very hard in the face with something unpleasant. And he's so wound up that it doesn't take much to put him over the edge.
    • The Archchancellor and most of the wizards at Unseen University count. They're a group of stumbling idiots who spend most of their time eating large meals and sleeping... but don't piss them off.
    • Also, Susan, Death's grand-daughter technically counts (particularly by Thief of Time). She may be a teacher and may spend most of her time looking after six year olds, but if you make her angry she can and will bend time and space (more like time and space don't mean anything to her) ... oh and she's technically Death's successor. (And anyone want to take a bet what Death will do to you if you mess with his grand-daughter?)
      • And don't forget the scene in the same book about her abilities as a teacher. She inspired one of her students, who had until then been terrified of the monster under the bed, not only to face her fear, but to go after it with her father's sword. When confronted with parental worries that she'd been introducing children to the occult, Susan replied that she had, "so it won't come as a shock".
    • How can we not mention Death himself? He's this relaxed, philosophical figure, quite uncharacteristic of the normal image people have of the Grim Reaper... until you mess with the Balance of Life and Death. Then he gets on a fucking motorcycle. That's all there really is to say on the matter.
    • Oh, and Albert, Death's butler. He spends his days complaining, smoking thin, soggy cigarettes, making food that tastes as bad as it is for your health, and oh by the way just happens to be the greatest wizard who ever lived and the founder of Unseen University, Alberto Malich.
    • Mr. Bent from Making Money, a top-class accountant for most of his life, he nevertheless manages to kill two thugs near the end of the book, at least one of whom had trained at the Assassins Guild.
    • The Nac Mac Feegle were comic relief through the first three Tiffany Aching books, but in I Shall Wear Midnight -- don't go mucking around their mounds with a shovel. Just don't.
  • The final battle in Good Omens:

 "Once you learn, you never really forget how."

  • Honor Harrington Victor Cachat is this is his first appearance in From the Highlands. He's the new guy, never done any real fieldwork. His new mentor calls him "wonderboy" and mocks him (good-naturedly) at every oppourtunity. His idealism and naivete is a constant source of amusement to the other characters, even though the former the only reason any of them would consider talking to him. His uncertainty is quite frankly, adorable and endearing. Then you get to the end bit where he's supposed to fire one burst to scatter the scrags and get out of the way for the Ballroom, and...yeah, not so much. They screwed with his nation and his principles, and he will make them pay, personally. Officer of the Revolution. Sneer and be damned. (He's much less of an example thereafter, since it becomes common knowledge in the military/espionage community - meaning all the main characters - that however cute and sweet he may occasionally appear, only the deeply suicidal get in the way of his principles. He is THAT good.)
    • A related example is his mentor Kevin Usher, who deliberately built a reputation as a politically oblivious drunk to hide the fact that He's a major player in the Havenite resistence. Similarly, Tom Theisman, who, while he never his his badassery, did hide the fact that he was becoming increasingly interested in Haven's political disasters. As a result Saint-Just was taken completely by surprise when Theisman walks into his office and declares the reign of terror over.
    • Another example from the same series is Shannon "Oops!" Foraker. She's the quintessential techno-nerd and Genius Ditz, apparently a wizard at tactical problems with no particular care for the real world. But once she marks the Havenite State Sec as an enemy, the organization's days are numbered, culminating with an entire main battle fleet's fusion plants being blown by a computer virus. Now remember, kiddies, never mess with Adorkable nerd girls.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, the demons are pursuing the escaping heroes and princesses when the heroes reach the assembled armies of Wisdom, all the goofy Anthropomorphic Personifications that Milo met his journey.
  • The Cassiline Brotherhood of Kushiel's Legacy are sworn only to get their swords out to kill (normally, they use daggers and vambraces). You'd better believe that when they do, things are going to get VERY dangerous. Especially if it's Joscelin, and doubly especially if Phedre is in peril...
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the most powerful Ringwraith, the Witch-king, was killed by Merry and Eowyn -- characters not previously recognized for their fighting prowess. Merry even joked later: "Sometimes it's good to be overlooked..."
    • There was also Pippin, who in the books took down a whole troll, and not just any troll, but one of those ones bred for fighting.
      • By the time the third book has happened, Merry is already noted to have hacked the limbs off of several of the URUK-HAI that tried to capture him and Pippin. The Rohirrim weren't leaving him behind because they thought he was unfit for war. They were leaving him behind because they didn't have a horse that could carry him and they running were well ahead of their infantry.
    • Eowyn is given leadership of the nation of Rohan in her brother and uncle's absence. In times of war, that is a position of military importance and granted only to someone that can handle combat.
    • Speaking of Hobbits, one chapter fits this trope perfectly: Scouring of the Shire.
    • Gandalf himself gets a little of this. He comes across a little bumbling in the first book, a tad of the archetypal distracted wizard. Then he faces down the Balrog of Moria.
    • Samwise deserves a mention too, driving off the Eldritch Abomination Shelob and taking down an orc slavedriver in his search for Frodo.
      • The sequence where he's killing orcs with a frying pan in Moria is priceless.
    • In the film version, Aragorn is only hinted at being powerful upon first meeting. He has a sword, is very Ringwraith-savvy, and manages to lead them through the wilderness, but still doesn't really show his awesome side. Then Weathertop rolled around, and a nation of geeks realized the amount of damage you could do with a torch.
    • Treebeard and the Ents: so slow and ponderous it takes them hours just to get through "hello". Too indecisive to, well, do anything. Until they realize what Saruman is up to...
    • Also Tom Bombadil. He may seem like a harmless, carefree, slightly goofy old man, but he can make man-eating trees obey him and destroy barrow wights just by singing a few words. Not to mention he's as old as the freaking earth and so powerful that not only does the ring not affect him, it means so little to him that he would lose it!
  • Harry Dresden generally looks like a very tall and lanky scarecrow with black and quirky dress sense. People who piss him off and hurt those he cares also find out why beings of up to immortal Physical God status are terrified of him.
    • If you hear the word 'Fuego', you're generally about to die a painful death.
  • Doran Martell in A Song of Ice and Fire. While appearing to be an overly cautious ruler scared into inaction by the firestorm of war raging throughout the nation, he is actually planning the whole time to overthrow the nobility.
  • Drusas Achamian in Second Apocalypse is a Mandate sorcerer. Throughout the first book we're told that the Mandate's Gnosis sorcery is much more powerful than the Anagogsis of other Schools, with little demonstration. Then in the second book the Scarlet Spires (another sorcerous School) decides to abduct him and try to torture the secrets of the Gnosis out of him. He escapes his bindings, slaughters all the sorcerers and soldiers holding him captive, beats the shit out of a demon summoned to fight him, and blows up their compound.
  • The mice in Prince Caspian. They spend the entire book getting laughed off for their apparent tough-guy acts, and then in the final battle of the book, they're out there in the thick of things, crippling enemy legs and finishing them off when they collapse.
  • Most of the main characters in the Sword of Truth have some cue when the situation gets dark. Kahlan slips on her "Confessor's Face", Richard begins using the term "bringer of death" generously, and Nicci slips into her persona of "Death's Mistress."
  • The Death Gate Cycle: Alfred faints when confronted with danger. In truth he is a Serpent Mage, one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
  • Why has The Pendragon Adventure not been mentioned yet? Spader says this almost every five minutes. He even gets Bobby saying it.
  • Belgarath pretty much lives and breathes this trope. Normally he could easily be mistaken for a drunken, lazy, bumbling, vagabound, with a fairly weak grasp of personal property and a rather sloppy taste in attire. People who know him often call him this and worse, since he can't seem to be bothered take most things seriously. But when things get serious, or you piss him off... you'll see WHY he was chosen as first disciple of the god Aldur, and just what the most powerful sorcerer on the planet, with over 7000 years of experience, is capable. [2]
    • His daughter Polgara is only slightly less so. She may look pretty innocuous at times, but but she takes a lot after her father in the sheer power department (in an early book, she turned the Empress of Nyissa into an eternal snake). She's lived several millennia herself and has been everything from a Nadrak slave-woman to the Duchess of Erat, so she carries her own arsenal of magical and non-magical skills.
  • Speaking of David Eddings, in The Redemption of Althalus, you have Emmy. She looks like a sweet cat and will purr and love you to pieces... However she is God (well, Goddess), and the entire fate of reality is revolving around a family feud she's having with her two brothers. Piss her off and she can and will eradicate you from existence. Also, Athalus himself probably counts to the rest of the group. He may be a thief and he may joke around with the forces of existence, but you threaten anyone he loves and he will show you why he is Dweia's boyfriend.
  • In the Demon child series, R'shiel may look and act like a spoilt brat. However she has enough power to destroy a God. And she has a short temper when it comes to people interfering in her plans.
  • White Jenna: Skada. As a dark sister, she is supposed to fill a supporting role, but in the climatic battle she kills her first man and saves Jenna's life.
  • In The Cloakmaster Cycle a very young Giff joins the protagonist and considers him superior. This green "trooper Gomja" is more of a burden, since he only looks in Teldin's mouth and waits for an order. Then in a fit of inspiration Teldin "promotes" lad to sergeant -- despite currently not having any rank at all and being only a mule skinner before retirement. But this forced Gomja to take responsibility and waked up his tactical mind. Now, not only even a young Giff is still a humanoid hippo bigger and stronger than most men can hope to be, with the hide tougher than studded leather armor, but all adult Giff are mercenary Space Marines and even kids live in preparation for the same, waiting to be enlisted. Hilarity Ensues in short order. Lots of it.
  • Septimus from Septimus Heap does this against the Toll-Man when trying to get to the House of Foryx in Queste.
  • Let's consider the Animorphs, shall we? Sure, Rachel develops into a walking pile of RAEG and Jake is clearly no one to mess with, with an air of Determinator-ness and devoted leadership. But their support? A wise-cracking comic book geek, an introverted, pacifistic animal nut, and the middle-school bully magnet (and Ax); not exactly the biggest badasses around. That is, until they transform into wolves and gorillas. Tobias's hawk might not be the scariest thing around (though he's damn good with it), but he also knows rhino. And, if worst comes to worst, they all have the set of polar bears, just in case...


Live Action TV Edit

  • Poor brain-fried River from Firefly is a serious liability for most of the series, although there's a creepy savant-ish ability with a pistol in one episode, and intimidating cunning in another. In the movie, coming to terms with what caused her mental problems lets us see what she's really capable of. It's awesome in the classical sense of the word.
    • And when he really needs to, Shepherd Book can apply some serious boot to ass, even if he won't kill. Case in point in the comic series Better Days, where he chops through a group of killer death robots, samurai style.
      • And let's not forget his bad-ass line in War Stories, when asked if his religion forbids killing: "Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."
    • In fact, Wash was one of the softest, gentlest people you could ever meet. Then he got captured and tortured by a crime-lord, but he completely ignored his torture as he carried on a conversation he had started before the capture about the nature of his wife's relationship with their Captain.
      • Best summarized by his growling, "my ass" response to Zoe telling him Niska will prolong Mal's torture for days: "Bastard's not gonna get days." Do NOT piss Wash off.
    • He later flies the ship to the rescue and rams the station where Mal is being held-without crashing by coming to a stop right into the station's landing bay. The same episode has River shooting three assailants without even looking at them; Kaylee is a little freaked at how easy it was.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Marshall Eriksen refused to fight and was mocked constantly by Ted and Barney, even though he said he had been in plenty of fights before. But after Ted got punched out by a really big guy, Marshall beat the living pulp out of the guy who punched out Ted, with a single punch. Turns out that the aforementioned (in-universe and on this entry) fights with his brothers (who are taller than him, he's "only 6'4 (1,93 m)" after all) were serious business.
  • The main character of Due South, Constable Fraser, spends most of the series as a decent investigator whose fighting skills we don't get to see much since, living in Chicago, he's out of his jurisdiction. In one episode, however, he and his partner, Ray, are pinned down in the cargo hold of a Great Lakes freighter, which conveniently crosses over into Canadian waters at the high point of the fight. Ray throws him his gun, Fraser jumps to catch it, and while still flying through the air shoots the detonator the bad guy was holding.
    • With a smile and a polite "Welcome to the Dominion of Canada." Fraser was incredible.
      • It should also be noted that Fraser managed to kick a lot of ass even when he wasn't armed. He routinely fought opponents hand to hand, and the few times he was injured, he was either significantly outnumbered or was going up against an unrepentant murderer who killed any cop who got in his way. It was Fraser's mild mannered and polite demeanor that threw people off. Very few expected the kindly Mountie who was polite to a fault to be able to take down opponents twice his size.
  • There's an episode of Star Trek: Voyager where everyone but Kes, an innocent and upbeat young alien woman, is incapacitated by an evil alien. He tries to attack her too and gets promptly beaten to a pulp. Her race was previously revealed to have untapped but potentially god-like Psychic Powers.
    • Not to mention the time Kes was possessed by a brutal dictator who, at first, assumed she'd make an easily cowed Body Surfing host. Once he realizes how powerful she really is, he tries to keep her body and her powers. Unfortunately, he also winds up making her really mad, at which point she tears his mind apart from within while he watches. Do NOT ever get this woman angry at you.
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined:
    • In Season 2 there is an episode where Baltar saves the day on Kobol by being better at strategic combat than a trained officer.
    • Romo Lampkin has a moment of this in the 4th season. He stabs a guy during Tom Zarek and Felix Gaeta's attempted coup. With a Pen.
  • Sailor Moon: Usagi Tsukino is... well, anyone who's seen the "Sailor Moon" series knows she's an irresolute ditz. However, in the live-action series, she takes a level in bad-ass and becomes Princess Serenity and goes on to... well, see for yourself.
  • In the first season of Babylon 5, the planet's secret is revealed, a bomb is about to destroy the entire system and a massive space battle over ownership of the planet is occurring all around, with missiles attacking anything that gets close to the planet. Onboard the station a small group discover how to put things right, if they can get down to the planet. In walks the comic relief, Londo Mollari, who was a soldier before he was a drunk and if he had to choose how to die it wouldn't be liver failure. They take a shuttle and head out through the chaotic battle outside.

 Ivanova: (in C&C) Whoever's piloting that shuttle must be a madman!

Londo: (piloting the shuttle) Yes!!! Just like Fralis-12!!!

    • Also:

 Morden: So what are you going to do, Mollari? Blow up the island?

Londo: Actually, now that you mention it...

Morden: NO!!!

  • boom *
    • Vir Cotto, Londo's assistant goes through a lot of Character Development throughout the series, eventually capable of pulling of impressive plans on his own and becoming the Emperor. Londo considers his Crowning Moment of Awesome to be when he violently retaliates against a Drazi merchant who kept pushing his Berserk Button.
      • That may have changed. When Mister Morden tried to sound Vir out for corruption and asked the Shadows' favorite question , "What do you want?" the answer was prompt; "I'd like to live 'just' long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this." *gives a little wave* Shortly after Londo's crowning moment as stated above, he showed Vir a gift, Morden's head on a pike, exactly as Vir had wanted. After the initial surprise, Vir looked back to Londo with a little grin before proceeding to give that wave, just as promised.
    • Lennier, the meek assistant of Delenn, can lift people with one arm and can handle himself in a bar brawl. And that's before he joins the Rangers, becoming an ace pilot and even more formidable melee fighter.
    • Marcus Cole, early into season three. Shown to be a nice guy most of the time, people quickly learn not to make him angry. After Delenn gets captured he takes on an entire bar full of brawlers and assorted criminals to get the information he needs, stopping only after he's knocked everyone out and bemoaning that he now needs to wait for someone to wake up.

 Lennier: I see they trained you well back home.

Marcus: Well, they said I was carrying around a lot of repressed anger.

Lennier: And?

Marcus: I'm not repressed anymore!

    • And that's far from the only time he gets dangerous...

 '"I am a Ranger! We walk in the dark places no others will enter! We stand on the bridge and none may pass! We live for the One, we die for the One!"

  • You knew Al Bundy was going to start kicking ass and taking names on Married... with Children when either he said "Let's rock", or when Bad To the Bone started playing.
    • Actually all of the Bundys are like this. They all fight and seem to hate each other, but if someone starts attacking one of them they'll all come together and beat the crap out of anyone they meet in universe.
  • Xander Harris, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was usually the Plucky Comic Relief (and was a bit of Joss Whedon's personal Chew Toy, too). The other characters pretty much universally got onto him about how he just wasn't as cut out for fighting demons as they were (Spike even called him a glorified bricklayer once). But every once in a while...

 (after smashing Glory through a wall with a wrecking ball)

Xander: And the glorified bricklayer picks up the spare!

    • Also, Giles. After his love interest is killed, he takes on Angelus and a bunch of vampires singlehanded and does rather well considering he's a librarian. And of course, blasting Dark Willow into a wall.
      • Not to mention murdering Ben in order to kill Glorificus, because it had to be done and he knew Buffy wouldn't.
  • Wesley from Angel diverges from his completely comical presentation in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and becomes a hardened badass. One of the most notable instances of this is when his father (or, rather, someone he believed was his father) double-crossing him. The climax comes when Wesley confronts him on the roof, and during the Hannibal Lecture proceeds to shoot the man half a dozen times.
  • ICarly: Gibby in "iPsycho". He rams down the front door of Nora's house and when Nora seems to get the upper hand in their fight, Gibby removes his shirt and resumes the battle.
    • Mrs. Benson and T-Bo in "iStill Psycho", when they save the gang (plus Spencer) from Nora and her just-as-crazy parents. They burst in with a motorcycle, T-Bone delivers an offscreen Curb Stomp Battle to Nora's father while Mrs. Benson uses her fencing skills to take down Nora and her mom (who mind you were trying to kill her with fireplace forks).
  • Abby from NCIS does this at least twice, very notably in "Frame-Up" (3.09) when her assistant Charles reveals himself as the guy who set Tony up. So, we have Perky Goth Lab Rat Abby, unarmed, with no (apparent) combat skills, versus a knife-waving guy who seems intent to kill her. Gibbs and the others race into the lab to find the place completely torn up, and Abby sitting with her back to them in a chair.

 Gibbs: Abby?

Abby: (turning and pointing to Charles, who is tied up on the floor with his mouth taped shut and attempting to shout through the tape) Now can I Work Alone?

    • There's a later episode where Abby is abducted by the guy who has been stalking her all episode. Gibbs chases him down, finds a locked van with high-pitched screaming from the inside... and pulls open the door to find the screaming coming from the stalker, as Abby has him trussed up and is shocking the hell out of him with a taser.
  • Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds. He's the smart guy; basically a walking encyclopedia. He has been described in-universe as pipe cleaner with eyes. He even fails his gun qualification at the beginning of one episode. Basically, when it comes time for the action, Reid steps back and lets the big guys do their thing. Then he starts being forced into the dangerous situations... Sufficient to say, by later seasons, Reid is no longer being left behind when the team goes off to confront the unsub. (Except when he's recovering from the gunshot to the leg, but that's another story.)
  • James May on Top Gear is frequently the butt of jokes from co-presenters Clarkson and Hammond about how he can't drive fast. However, his taste runs to well-made cars that handle well, and on winding backroads he frequently leaves the other two behind.
    • On one episode, James May was being coached for a driving challenge by no less an authority than legendary racer Jackie Stewart. Stewart told May that he had the greatest potential as a driver of the three hosts.
    • James May disproved the whole "can't drive fast" bit when he took the Bugatti Veyron to the track. And pushed it to a jaw-dropping, record-breaking, Crowning Moment of Awesome 407.5 km/h (253.2 mph)
    • Jeremy Clarkson, after seeing the rear end of James May's car: "Is THAT Captain Slow?"
  • Clark Kent from Smallville has, especially in the early seasons, a bad habit of wangsting a lot, rather than superheroing. However, it means whenever he stops whinging and starts acting like the superhero he will one day become, it's usually a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • In Lois and Clark this was Clark's entire M.O. To wit, when Superman is threatened that his Daily Planet colleagues will be killed if he is seen in the East Side, Clark goes undercover as a cop to take on Intergang.
  • In Get Smart, Maxwell Smart is usually The Fool, but when it's do or die, nothing can stop Smart from saving the day.
  • In season two of Supernatural, all we knew about Bobby was that he was a gruff old junk dealer who knew a lot of arcane lore and had helped Dean fix the Impala. Probably too old to hold his own in a fight, especially against a huge guy like Sam, aka "Sasquatch." So when Sam turned incredibly Evil (and incredibly hot in the process), and paid Bobby a "friendly visit," the audience did a collective uh-oh and hoped Dean would get there in time to save the day. Turned out, Bobby casually slipped some holy water in the beer and easily knocked out Sam while he was choking on the floor. Bobby is made of Bad Ass.
    • The first two times we see Castiel in a fight, he gets the crap kicked out of him. Then there's the first episode of Season 5, where he shows up after being thought dead, casually dispatches two other angels, and intimidates his former superior into running like a child pretty much by telling him to. From then on he kicks ass consistently.
  • Happens numerous times throughout Power Rangers, most often on the part of Bulk and Skull. For example, in season 2, after the Rangers lost their memories due to the Monster of the Week, Bulk and Skull stand up to the monster. They fail miserably, but it was their first really notable act of heroism. Then theres two at the end of In Space. The first one involves Alpha 6 and DECA kicking Ecliptor's ass in "The Impenetrable Web". Secondly is, of course, the widely accepted Crowning Moment Of Awesome of the entire series: the I Am Spartacus scene at the end of "Countdown To Destruction Part 2", when Astronema demands that the Power Rangers show themselves, or the planet will be destroyed. When they don't appear, Bulk and Skull claim that THEY'RE the Power Rangers and soon, so does the rest of the citizens of Angel Grove. Frustrated, Astronema demands that everyone is destroyed. Bulk and Skull then proceed to lead the citizens into a fight with the endless Mooks, where they shockingly hold their own fairly well for powerless humans.
  • Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has personally killed no fewer than three Jem'Hadar soldiers.
  • Ashes to Ashes: Chris. ("I'm not nervous. I'm cautious.")
  • As of Stargate Universe, O'Neill seems to have cast off the Flanderization he acquired during the last few seasons of Stargate SG-1 and gotten down to business.
  • Rodney McKay of Stargate Atlantis is not what most people would call an effective fighter. But as soon as he gets some enzyme in his system...
  • Throughout Doctor Who, the Doctor's companions, most especially Rory Williams, did this frequently.
  • Howlin' Mad Murdock of The A-Team did this all the time. He'd be wonderfully zany and hilarious, and then near the climax he'd pull out some sort of Badass stunt, usually with a helicopter.
  • Captain Mainwaring and the Home Guard platoon of Dads Army were usually portrayed as incompetent bunglers, but even though they never really saw proper military action they nevertheless got a chance every so often to show that for all the clowning they had chops and were willing to use them to defend their homes and country.

 Nazi pilot: If you don't put that gun down, I will shoot you!

Cpt. George Mainwaring: And if you don't put that gun down, I will shoot you!

Nazi pilot: I give you one last warning!

Cpt. George Mainwaring: And I give you one last warning!

Nazi pilot: One!

Cpt. George Mainwaring: One!

Nazi pilot: Two!

Cpt. George Mainwaring: Two!

Nazi pilot: Three!

Cpt. George Mainwaring: Three! If you shoot me, there are seven men to take my place!

  • Pierce in Community episode English as a Second Language. When the study group's grades are on the line he becomes surprisingly competent. He can really seduce someone if he really wants to. Like the replacement Spanish teacher.
  • In episode 5.05 of Primeval, when all of the ARC's troops are out dealing with anomalies, an anomaly appears in the car park. Lester, the government official who runs the ARC, goes after a dinosaur solo (albeit armed).
    • It should be pointed out that said dinosaur had just pressed Lester's previously-undiscovered Berserk Button - it had threatened his Jaguar.

 Lester: OI! Have you ANY idea how much that thing cost?


Pro Wrestling Edit

  • WWE example: The Stooges (Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson) were retired ex-champions reduced to corporate yes-men for the McMahons. Tag team champions The New Age Outlaws arranged to meet them in a 'hardcore' (anything goes) match, and proceeded to find themselves on the end of 'old school hardcore' (i.e. blinding handfuls of talcum and concealed fist-loads instead of blatant weapons).


Sports Edit

  • The 1969 Mets. The team had a history of poor performance, and limped off the line in 1969 with an 18-23 record, then suddenly turned things around to crush all competition and become the first expansion team to win the World Series. In the film Oh, God!, George Burns, as God, states that his only miracle since the Red Sea had been the 1969 Mets.
  • The 2004 Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS against their hated rivals, the Yankees. They were down 0-3 in the series and it was Game 4 with one inning from being swept, they flipped the switch and got dangerous. It wasn't just one person, it was EVERYBODY from Keith Foulke to Derek Lowe to Bill Mueller to Dave Roberts...heck, even Curtis Leskanic!! Everybody got dangerous and the team overcame the deficit and won the ALCS en route to their first World Series title in 86 years.
  • During Super Bowl XXII, the Redskins were being completely outplayed by the favored Broncos, all with starting QB Doug Williams playing injured after being sacked in the first quarter. With the Redskins down 10, and all momentum in the Broncos' favor, Williams and the Redskins exploded for 35 points in the 2nd quarter, where even little used RB Timmy Smith reeled off a 58-yard TD run, while Williams threw all 4 of his own TD passes to three different receivers, all the while showing exactly why he and the Redskins belonged in the Super Bowl in the first place.
    • A similar feat would be achieved in Super Bowl XLIII, when the underdog Saints team found themselves down 10-0 to Peyton Manning and the Colts early in the game, only to outscore the Colts 37-7 over the rest of the game, including an interception returned for a game-clinching touchdown at the end of the game, also known as the point where Peyton Manning was guaranteed to lead his team from the brink of defeat if necessary, as he had done in almost every game that season. This and the aforementioned Super Bowl XXII were the only two times in NFL history that a team was able to rebound from a double digit deficit to win the game.
  • The 2010 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. The number 1 seed Washington Capitals and the highest scoring team in the league against the number 8 "we barely made it to the playoffs" Montreal Canadiens. With the Capitals up 3-1 by game 5, there was an obvious winner. And that's when Jaroslav Halak got dangerous. Over the next three games, Halak faced 134 shots... and let in a total of three. For reference, most games, a goaltender will face around thirty shots. Halak faced an average of almost 45, and in one game stopped 53... and won. His goaltending has been largely attributed as the reason for one of the biggest upsets in NHL history.


Video Games Edit

  • In Disgaea, Prince Laharl's servants are seen lounging around the castle lazily before and after every mission. However during one mission, when you are attacked by an overlord so massive that he represents himself as 10 Lvl. 75 monsters these vassals come to your aid; each at least 50 times your level.
    • Assuming you didn't grind like a madman, at any rate.
  • Fate Stay Night: For the first two routes, Rider comes across as a very mediocre Servant, losing to a half powered Saber in Fate and to a normal human (with Reinforced fists but still) in UBW. But then you get to HF, and it looks like she's dead again to Saber -- and did she just curbstomp True Assassin, start turning people to stone and fighting on near even terms with Dark Saber while not having a Master to draw energy from? Holy crap.
  • The Legend of Dragoon has several examples, mostly boss battles.
    • Both of the Kongol battles feature this. After dealing a certain amount of damage to him, he'll say "Kongol no need weapon" and start fighting barehanded, which is far more effective. The second one, if considered as a continuation of the first one, features this as well, since in this one Kongol wears armor that makes him much more powerful. Of course, said armor still doesn't negate his weakness to ice attacks.
    • Emperor Doel does this too. Once you beat him in his normal form, he'll activate his dragoon form.
    • You can even have your own characters do this with the "Special" combat action, which puts all of your characters into their dragoon forms AND teleports them and the enemies into a pocket dimension where the elemental attacks of the character who initiated the Special are more powerful.
  • Kaneda spends much of (i.e. the entire 1st chapter and quite a bit of the 2nd) Princess Waltz as a background classmate noted only for comedically fainting at any sign of arousal...then The Glasses Come Off in the middle of a Guardener attack via awesome Transformation Sequence with Ominous Latin Chanting Techno accompaniment and we find out that she is in fact Liesel, the Genius Bruiser princess/WAR MACHINE.
  • Bartz in Dissidia Final Fantasy, at the end of his story mode. Previously he's been portrayed as a happy-go-lucky mime wanderer who spends most of his time running away from opponents and making dumb jokes with Zidane. Then, when the time comes to show why he was chosen as a Warrior of Cosmos, he pulls a Crowning Moment of Awesome and tells Exdeath that this is the first time he's serious.
    • For those not watching the video, he duel wields Cloud's Buster Sword in one hand, and Squall's Gunblade in the other.
    • Funnily enough, his buddy Zidane will say a variation of this to you in his opening battle-quote if you fight him as Sephiroth.
  • Doc Louis's Punch Out (exclusive to Club Nintendo Platinum members as of this writing): As this video demonstrates, if you knock a chocolate bar out of his hands, he'll get angry and shed his jacket to reveal a leopard-print jacket, and the training essentially becomes a Title Defense fight.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Steiner spends most of the first half of the game as the Butt Monkey and all-around buffoon, but when he actually gets into a fight, he's shown to be a pretty good swordsman. His general demeanor also starts to change when he helps rescue Dagger halfway through Disk 2, and he shows himself to be a competent leader and fighter alongside Beatrix during the invasion of Alexandria in Disk 3.
    • This happens every time he reaches Trance, where he goes from a knighty in rusty armor to a full on knight in shining armor. Since he's already one of the three melee monsters, this only makes him more dangerous.
      • Let's not forget when Vivi's in the party with him...
  • Limit Breaks or similar in numerous Final Fantasy games all count as this trope, being ultra-powerful attacks that are usable once the character has taken enough of a beating.
  • Susano in Okami is presented as a cowardly middle-aged man, and throughout most of his character arc this is played for laughs. He quakes in his boots at the thought of monsters, makes up a bunch of excuses to get out of doing work, and wages a battle against a sleeping bear. The moment when he stops being lazy, cowardly and useless is at Orochi's cave, which he's seen cowering outside of at the beginning of the stage. When Orochi is about to devour Kushi, he says proudly and without hesitation: "Hold it right there, vile serpent." Then, with a little help from Amaterasu, he slays Orochi, delivering the final blow all by himself.
  • Reimu Hakurei of Touhou. Perpetually selfish, terminally lazy, only solves incidents when she has no other option or another character convinces her to, only manages to find those causing any particular incident due to supernatural luck, and only wins because of (literal) impervious Plot Armor. Or at least, that's what most of Gensoukyou thinks. Then she unleashes "Fantasy Heaven" (aka "Hax Sign: You Just Plain F***ing LOSE"). Cue Oh Crap.
  • Super Mario Bros.'s Bowser could be seen in situations such as fighting Mario while in a giant hot tub and being stuck inside a cannon. Then you get to the bits where he's attacking the Toads' village and defeating an Eldritch Abomination in order to save the very kingdom he's trying to take over...
  • Dante in Devil May Cry both subverts and plays this straight. Dante is always wisecracking and arrogantly joking with his enemies in battle. However, he has every right to because he's a half-demon hybrid and is capable of pulling off spectacular feats even when not trying (such as being ambushed in his office and shrugging off being stabbed about five times simultaneously, nonchalantly eating a slice of pizza as his response). However, there have been occasions when Dante has cast aside his upbeat personality when the situation becomes critical enough. And if you thought he was a problem when he was quipping and smiling, it's going to be worse when the kid gloves come off.
  • Grant Danasty in Castlevania Judgment is regularly a laid-back guy who smiles in the face of danger. Then, when he uses his ultimate attack, that's when he starts to get serious.

  Grant: I'm done playing around. (slashes opponent many times then summons many knives) Accept your fate. GO!! (hurls knives at opponent as he finishes the attack then lands) It's done.

  Trauare: It looks like Zorne was no match for you. I'll have to take this seriously, then.

  • Kirby: "King Dedede wants revenge! Careful, he's serious this time!"
  • An optional one in Mass Effect 2, we all know Shepard is basically a killing machine, but in Garrus's recruitment mission one of the renegade lines is "Lets spill a little merc blood". You know things are going to die in large numbers when he talks like that.
  • In Golden Sun Dark Dawn, Tyrell's intro scene nearly earns him a Darwin Award. So he's the bumbling comic sidekick, right? Then comes Luna Tower, and Tyrell decides he's had enough, flips out and freaking jumps Arcanus. It's a little unexpected, a lot awesome, and very effectively indicates that there's more to Tyrell than we'd previously seen.
  • Ah, from Sonic Unleashed comes the ever lovable Chip, one of the most God-damn annoying characters to ever come from a next-gen Sonic game (and that's WITH Tail's new voice actor being in the same game). On the last level of the game, he uses the Chaos Emeralds and his own powers to create a giant mecha created from temple ruins to punch out a literal apocalyptic darkness god-creature.
  • How can eponymous Ottsel from Jak and Daxter not be on this list? He usually avoids violent confrontations like the plague, at least when he's directly in the line of fire. But when push comes to shove, he'll put his life on the line to do what needs to be done (especially in Jak 3), his racing skills and marksmanship rival Jak's (when Jak's riding a Zoomer, Daxter wields the gun), and hell, he's got his own game.
  • Dimitri, from the Sly Cooper games, is an example because his ridiculous mannerisms make it easy to forget that he was a boss in Sly 2 (okay, the first boss, but still). When he's playable in Sly 3, he dives into shark-infested waters without protest, and later takes down one of the Big Bad's many mutant monsters. And if the E3 trailer for the upcoming game is any indication, he's been practicing his free-running.
  • Kingdom Hearts brings us a villainous example with Demyx, at least in terms of gameplay. He's quirky, lazy, and complains constantly about not being the right guy for the job. But once provoked into fighting seriously, he turns out to be That One Boss.
  • In Wild Arms 4, when Gawn is introduced, he is portrayed as a bit of a goofball, albeit with great physical strength. To top it all off, his character design is much more subdued when compared to other characters in the game, especially the standardly flamboyant villains. However, when he is forced to fight the protagonists and you learn he is Brionac's greatest fighter, he is so overwhelming, that this opponents are unable to get a single attack off on him, and he constantly one-shots your party members. The fight only ends because he runs out of bullets, and the protagonists somehow convince him that means he's the one who lost. Later, he easily shoots down missiles in mid-air with his dual pistols, and punches one when he exhausts his ammunition.
  • In Half-Life 2 throughout most of the game the Vortigaunts serve as your alien allies in the fight against the Combine, providing some technical support and adding some interesting variety to the rebel fighters. However you never actually see them in combat. This changes in Episode 2 in the chapter Vortal Combat where the Vortigaunts show you the true power of the Vortessence along with an epic fight song against legions of ant lions.
  • Remember the Volus? The cosmic Butt Monkey of the Mass Effect universe? Turns out in the third game, they have a Dreadnought- a single Dreadnought- that according to a visiting Turian General happens to pack enough firepower to roast the surface of an entire planet three times over. There is a reason the Volus don't need more.
  • In Monster Girl Quest, we get an interesting one with Alma Elma, queen of the succubi. For most of both games, she refuses to take anything seriously, and is more of a Puzzle Boss than anything, giving up once Luka proves he's grown since their previous encounter. She's also the only succubus who wears clothes. In the final battle, she gives up again...but Luka insists she actually fight him seriously for once. She agrees, and takes off her clothes, which does a wonderful job of underlining that this isn't some random chick with wings--she's the queen of the succubi.
  • In Dark Souls Siegmeyer is a bumbling Lord Error-Prone with a habit of sleeping in odd places. Once players find him in Lost Izalith, he decides to return all the help the player has given him in the form of a Heroic Sacrifice and a Badass Boast. Sometimes it won't even be a Heroic Sacrifice, he'll just stomp the monsters threatening you. The player can also fight with him to ensure his survival.
  • To some extent, this can be Rashid in Street Fighter V's General Story. He permanently disables the Black Moons using a hidden command his friend put in, then F.A.N.G shows up and asks him how. Rashid answers that his friend input the command as her final piece of work and F.A.N.G says he knew he "should have killed that traitor sooner". Rashid asks him to repeat what he said and F.A.N.G, with a smile, reveals he killed Rashid's friend. Rashid laughs at first, but then wind starts whistling into the chamber and Rashid dropkicks F.A.N.G. F.A.N.G uses numbing poison but it has no effect. All Rashid simply says "You are evil. Since that's what you are...I will kill you!" The following fight has Rashid start with a full critical gauge.

Web Comics Edit

  • Uttered by the eponymous character of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, on behalf of his sidekick. His obvious complete trust in Gordito and respect for his abilities would make this a Crowning Moment of Awesome if Doc hadn't punched Dracula in the face just a few minutes before.

 The Doctor: Do you think I run around with a twelve year old boy just because I like his inferior grasp of girls and higher level math? You think I left him with my psychotic parents because I wanted him to die? No, you undead pale ponce! Gordito is the effing BADASS KID.

  • Pretty much everyone who wasn't already a Badass during the "Dangerous Days" arc from Sluggy Freelance.
    • Zoe invoked this at the beginning of the "Stormbringer" arc, without knowing how dangerous she would have to get.
  • Given the comic's overall emphasis on light-hearted humor, it's easy to forget that Dan of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures spent years as a Being adventurer and taken on several powerful Creatures without dying, and also has a begun to develop a share of Creature abilities. It's very easy to remember him as the idiot that gets smacked with Too Much Information too often. That would be a mistake.
  • Hyraxx De Motifi from Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is probably an example. She's a tabloid reporter with Cloudcuckoolander tendencies who considers finding what colour of pants the resident Sufficiently Advanced Alien wears to be a big scoop. She can also throw Buck around like a ragdoll, despite him being about 5 times her size. She could also be considered an inversion, because we first see her in her Badass mode and the fact that she's not another assassin sent after Buck (she's just trying to get an interview from him) comes as a surprise.
  • Tip of Skin Horse tries to deal with pretty much every problem by therapizing it. If that doesn't work, he tries seducing it. But if that doesn't work, well...he's quite capable of taking care of it in other, more violent ways.
  • Sequential Art: When the Villains come out to play: You got to get dangerous. PIP DANGEROUS!
  • Vashiel from Misfile. He's a complete innocent, to the point where he's physically incapable of lying and gets a Nosebleed if he as much as has an impure thought. However, when his brother or Ash are threatened, you're suddenly reminded that his job description reads "Avenging Angel". Also a prime example of instantly snapping back to his ordinary, chivalrous personality afterwards.
    • Rumisiel, Vashiel's pot smoking brother, is also one of these. Normally a slacker to the point where his goal in life is to sit on a couch drinking beer all day, as soon as someone's life is on the line, he suddenly becomes competent and, due to limiters placed on his brother, the stronger of the two when it comes to dealing with the supernatural. And as this comic shows, it is important to remember that ALL angels in this series are ancient supernatural beings.
  • The reverend from Schlock Mercenary, is generally a pretty passive guy, but he's also a good swordsman.


Web Original Edit

  • Happens in TTA in the D-Bug Infiltration arc of Season 2, and later in Season 3, where The Ditz announcer duo are revealed to have powerful Summon Magic.
  • In Unforgotten Realms, when Sir Schmoopy stops screwing around and starts fighting an enemy seriously, he's capable of some really amazing stuff.
    • In Episode 4, he singlehandedly destroys an army of skeletons and their necromancer by activating a self-explosion curse on himself, and swapping his soul into an indestructible crystal so that he could survive it.
    • In Episode 6, he formulates a brilliant strategy that allows the party to defeat a giant ogre in a battle of attrition.
    • And in the last episode of Season 1, he and the bumbling paladin Roamin mow down a pirate ship's worth of Kobolds in the series' biggest fight scene to date, and the whole affair ends with Schmoopy leveling up and using an explosion to kamikaze the leader.
      • Except it turns out that that plan failed and the ship exploded for a completely unrelated reason.

  Schmoopy:I cast FLARE!

  • Homestar Runner and Pom Pom both fit this trope. Homestar is a terrific athlete after all. Pom Pom is a stellar martial artist.
  • Red vs. Blue: most of the characters get their moments of this.
    • Most exemplified when Caboose learns "how to be mean". Although his battle cries are... less than intimidating, the sheer efficiency with which he dispatches two full teams of fighters is a little unsettling.
    • And there's the Grand Finale of the Recollections trilogy, in which even after learning they were designed to be nothing more than cannon fodder, our whacky band of misfits rally together to defeat The Meta.
  • The Supreme Six were one of the least respected teams of superheroes in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. All six heroes (Calculus, Photon, Omnipresent, Prototype, Stonewall, and Thunderstorm) were former teen sidekicks "all grown up", and as such were generally the butt of jokes because, in the public perception, they were still sidekicks. And then they fought the Fatal Four, one of the most feared supervillain teams in the world... and won. Handily.
  • Ink City's first Event saw Megavolt snarling this just before he and Yakko pulled off their Last Stand.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the title character is reluctant at the prospect of killing sommeone in order to join the Evil League of Evil...until Captain Hammer tells him that he's going out with Penny just to tick him off. Then it becomes easier for him.
  • Shadowhunter Peril has several characters who embody this trope, most notably Etzel and Veronica. Although Etzel has yet to fully unleash his inner potential, it has been strongly hinted that he was an extraordinarily successful assassin who would not be afraid to do what had to be done if he situation arises. Of course, being that he's almost constantly surrounded by several Physical Gods he's never had much of an opportunity to display this. Veronica, on the other hand, is basically a Genki Girl who spends her days cooking up random, inedible meals and annoying the hell out of the rest of the protagonists. Because her lethality is generally directed at the good guys for the sake of humor, it's pretty easy to forget that she has a portable tank inside her Bag of Holding, as well as nearly every single weapon that's ever existed. Some notable examples of her being Let's Get Dangerous are when she took down a Behemoth demon with said tank, engaged the Greater Demon Lilith in an intense aerial swordfight above a decaying New York City. Then there was the time she was training Wynter, an unruly, teenage Daylighter, and Veronica got tired of her snarkiness and delivered Wynter a Curb Stomp Battle that completely humiliated the vampire. Also, her Mama Bear side once took over when Ethan got hurt, and she reacted so violently that she even managed to disturb Puriel


Western Animation Edit

  • Popeye would spend a considerable amount of time each cartoon getting his butt kicked by Bluto/Brutus. Then he got his spinach on and it was over.
  • Bugs Bunny: "Of course you realize... This Means War!"
  • Droopy Dog: (deadpan like always) "You know what? That makes me mad!"
  • Parodied as a Noodle Incident in The Simpsons episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love," where Mr. Burns and his team try to subdue the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. When all else fails, Mr. Burns himself approaches the monster with a stern look in his face. The scene then unexpectedly cuts to Burns' helicopter in the air, with the monster tied up and swinging below. Mr. Burns explains to his admiring team:

  Burns: I was a little worried when he swallowed me, but then, well, you know the rest.

  • The character of Uncle, from Jackie Chan Adventures, seems like an eccentric weirdo who's too old to fight effectively, but when he wears the Dog Talisman, an artifact that gives its user the strength of youth, he shows off his martial arts skills by pulverizing a specially hired assassin who beat Jackie to within an inch of his life.
  • In Hulk vs Wolverine, after Logan gets a supreme ass kicking by the big green guy himself, he wakes up a few seconds later and goes "ok bub, lets try that again" and proceeds to own. This is actually embarrassing considering the other film has Thor getting pounded into oblivion. Course the son of Odin isn't to blame for lack of skill
  • In Teen Titans, goofy, silly Beast Boy would occasionally get pissed off and remind both villains and viewers that he was capable of turning into any animal alive or that had ever lived. In one episode, he thoroughly thrashed Slade or rather a roboSlade, though the two were usually interchangeable despite the fact that this was someone who regularly whooped the team's designated Badass, Robin.
    • This is especially evident in "Titans Together", where the Titans, both organised and honourary, have been decimated, and it's up to Beast Boy to lead the handful that remain against the Brotherhood of Evil.

 Brain: (to Robin) You will fall, one by one. Who among you can possibly stop me now?

(cut to Beast Boy, surrounded by the destroyed parts of the robot drones sent to capture him)

Beast Boy: Now try and follow me.

(presses a button, blowing up his ship and everything around it)

  • Happens with Flash in Justice League Unlimited. Twice. The first time has him destroying his robot double by punching through its chest and then making it explode by vibrating his arm super-fast, and then taking down a Brainiac/Lex Luthor fusion by drive-by getting a run up for each punch so quickly he travels around the world (multiple times) and then PUNCHES EVERY MOLECULE OF BRAINIAC OUT OF LUTHOR while he screams in agony. The second time comes in the next season, when his mind has been swapped with Lex Luthor, who does the vibration trick on some walls and threatens to do the same to someone's head. (Flash doesn't make a habit of this due to the property damage it tends to cause, thus proving that despite appearances, he is more conscientious than pretty much the rest of the Justice League.)
    • Actually, that was Luthor demonstrating the potential misusage of Flash's powers, during which he failed to acquire any secrets of the JLU, seriously harm any members, or even ascertain the Flash's secret identity. Flash's actual moment of Getting Dangerous would be when he sabotaged Luthor's plans for the robbery of the century, kept any innocent bystanders from getting killed... and to top it off, thoroughly cuckolded the completely oblivious Luthor with Tala, to the point that the only one unhappy with the mutual restoration was Tala herself.

 Tala: Is that you, Lex?

Luthor: Of course it's me, you idiot.

Tala: ...Oh.

  • In Gargoyles, Broadway and Lexington were typically the comic relief and the Smart Guy in most plots, respectively. But every once in awhile, they'd be pushed a little too far, and remind their enemies (and the audience) that they were full-fledged warriors that could bend steel and break through concrete with their bare hands.
    • Especially if you try to pull a gun on Broadway.

 "What's this?! A new type of gun?! A NEW WAY TO KILL?!" *Thrashes the villains*

  • At the very end of the real last episode/movie for Kim Possible, Ron steps it up and masters his Monkey Kung Fu in time to completely destroy the aliens and save Kim.
  • Metalocalypse's Charles Foster Ofdensen, Dethklok's mild-mannered manager/lawyer/accountant. Hints are given throughout the first season that Ofdensen is more than what he seems, but we don't see this full until the finale, which manages to be Crowning Moments of both awesome and heartwarming. A somewhat unique example, in that the villains make a point of taking his awesomeness into account in season 2 and adjusting accordingly.
  • Dib of Invader Zim is an almost perpetual Butt Monkey trying to tell a Cassandra Truth, but under the right circumstances he's able to unleash his inner awesome and defend the Earth like never before. Like the time he piloted Mercury.
    • Indeed, Jhonen Vasquez remarks in the DVD commentary that "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom" is pretty much just an excuse to show Dib's Crowning Moment Of Awesome as he leads Earth's defense fleet against the Irken armada and single-handedly brings down the Massive.
  • Sewer Urchin of The Tick is a semi-scatterbrained guy who talks like Rain Man and gets knocked around pretty often. However, this is because he's out of his element. In the sewers, he's Badass to the bone, to the point where The City's sewer workers talk about him with hushed tones of awe.

 Urchin: Down here I'm considered the apotheosis of cool.

Arthur (to The Tick): Did he just say "apotheosis?"

  • Transformers Animated Starscream is usually a comedic figure, as exemplified by his death montage, being killed over and over again by Megatron in the span of a single speech. However, when it comes to actual combat he is a badass, taking down Ultra Magnus, head of the Autobot Elite Guard and the entire Autobot army, with one shot.
    • Bumblebee and Bulkhead of the same series would also qualify for this as out of the main line-up they are the youngest and most comical of the Autobots. Particularly in the series' finale when they take on Shockwave, who is mostly owning them in the first part of the fight, until Bulkhead rushes him and floors the guy so hard that his chest smashes, his weapon is knocked away and he even has to resort to pleading for his life. And he did it with one punch.
  • Recess featured an inter-grade dodgeball match, with one kid staying out of it. However, when the older kids nailed a kindergartner, this mild mannered boy showed up in a serape, calling himself "El Diablo." He proceeded to take down an entire GRADE in the span of 6 seconds.
    • Said kid happened to be Gus, the mild meek kid of the gang.
      • Gus also got dangerous in the movie. Soda pop > Ninja.
  • Jake Long from American Dragon Jake Long has a level of danger inversely proportional to the density of his slang. If he's casually hurling trash talk and indecipherable jive, expect him to recklessly endanger himself or someone he cares about, or otherwise trip over himself. If he drops the slang altogether, it usually means something horrible has or is about to happen, and he's ready to administer an epic beatdown to stop it.
    • Jake's muggle dad gets his own such moment when he does some on-the-fly research in the middle of a battle against the Dark Dragon's shadow monsters, finds the weakness of said monsters, and improvises a method of unleashing said weakness (light). The summoned creatures which had been giving the gathering of dragons all they could handle are wiped out in a matter of seconds. Jake taunts the Dark Dragon by lampshading this.
  • Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He gets to do this a number of times, the first being when he is kidnapped by earthbenders just before the winter solstice. He nearly manages to escape on his own, buying time for Zuko to show up. They proceed to lay the smackdown on them without even firebending (that would have been unfair). Another is at the North Pole, after Zhao destroys the Moon Spirit. Then there is the second season premiere, in which he redirects Azula's lightning and kicks her overboard just as she's about to finish off Zuko. Finally, there is the scene when Iroh demonstrates how he got the nickname "Dragon of the West." Moral of the story: do not underestimate someone who once broke through the outer wall of Ba Sing Se, no matter how harmless he may seem now.
  • The Trope Namer himself, Darkwing Duck.
  • The Toiletnator in Codename: Kids Next Door pulls one of these in a rage-filled, paranoid moment against the very villains who constantly belittle him. Mainly applies because he is fought seriously by most of the villains he takes down in the sequence. Unfortunately, he essentially runs out of ammo by the time the actual heroes show up.
  • Ding-A-Ling Wolf, Hokey Wolf's little sidekick once bashed a robot repeatedly with a massive stick longer than he was because the robot was trying to kill Hokey.
  • Winx Club: An S2 ep shows Griselda blocking every single attack from her students as part of Magical Defense Class, including Bloom (though to be fair, she was thinking about her phone call with Sky from earlier in the episode). Then you get to the fridge and realize that she didn't have any significant role in the final battle of the previous season, when that ability would have been useful. The movie (Non-Europeans: "What movie?") makes up for it by having her putting up a shield for Stella, Flora and Tecna during an attack from the film's Big Bad.
  • Robot Chicken does this a lot, but the best example would probably be the sketch in which Mafia-installed union reps are brutally killed... by Bob the Builder and crew.
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Octi-Evil": Blossom and Buttercup, having spent the better part of the episode fighting with each other, bury the hatchet to save Bubbles.
    • Also, The Movie, which had the girls becoming pariahs for their role in not only trashing Townsville but helping Mojo Jojo take over with an army of apes. The girls serve a self-imposed exile on an asteroid till they hear the Professor being threatened. They return and kick monkey tuchus.
    • "Not So Awesome Blossom" has our redheaded heroine in a state of shellshock through the episode as she is incapable of having anything go right for her. But she steps up and hits it out of the park at Mojo Jojo's lair when Mojo has Blossom's sisters and the Professor in dire straits.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack sees washed-up sailor Cap'n K'nuckles beating up a crew of pirates three at a time in "One Hundred Percensus": "I can't count to four, but I can count to three."
  • The Mighty Heroes seem like ineffectual stumblebums in the first half of an episode, but once they escape the Death Trap and regroup, they are unstoppable!
  • In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Yoda spends most of the time offscreen in the Jedi Temple. When the Separatist invasion of Coruscant begins, he heads to the front lines and starts forcepushing colossal troop carriers.
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Walter "Doc" Hartford spent most of the series as a Deadpan Snarker and "computer guy" who was nowhere near the other three when it came to a fight. But when a Evil Chancellor steps in and threatens to kill the king they're trying to ally with? Doc picks up a sword, brawls him, and hands said evil adviser his ass. All the while admitting that he learned fencing from "Miss Abercrombie's Charm School!" This came up again when he was back on Tarkon and took down the show's nastiest villain singlehandedly using stuff he picked up in "charm school."
    • Which has led a great many fanfic authors to wonder just what kind of Charm School Miss Abercrombie was running in the first place.
  • Launchpad McQuack often filled out this trope in DuckTales. Sure, he was typically bumbling and accident-prone, but when necessary (especially to protect the nephews), he could pull off some amazing feats of aeronautical skill, as well as general badassness. Perhaps this is what led them to team him up with Darkwing Duck.
  • Scooby in Scooby Doo Mystery Inc is the same loveable dog as in all canons. However, when a Monster of the Week actually tried to kill the gang for real, he pilots a forklift and beats the living crap out of it before dispatching it with one of the most Badass lines ever uttered:

 Scooby Doo: Play dead.

    • For reference, said Monster of the Week withstood concentrated fire from police with no effect, that's how Badass Scooby gets when he has to.
  • Ickis from Aaahh Real Monsters' had a lot of flaws: Parental Issues with his famous father, incredible arrogance coupled with crippling insecurity, a tendency to slack off with his scaring and panic when that inevitably came back to bite him... Yet whenever put into the position where he was the only one who could face a crisis, he could pull off some amazing Big Damn Hero moments.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight Sparkle is pretty frequently the butt of jokes and the entire plot of the show so far has been her learning social skills. Just don't threaten her, her friends, or her town, lest she remind you that she is the magical prodigy student of a solar god-empress.
    • Doubly so Fluttershy -- usually timid as anything, and unable to stand up for herself, but threatening others can make her angry enough to forget herself and suddenly have enough attitude for a grade A Badass, as well as a Death Glare that's almost a superpower.
    • Pinkie Pie provides a more mundane example. When she realizes she hasn't been particularly responsible caring for the twins she's babysitting, she becomes far more serious and strict. It lasts about as long as it takes the Pegasus baby to realize he can fly and the Unicorn baby to start using her magic.
      • In an earlier episode, "Griffon The Brush Off," Pinkie doesn't take Gilda seriously no matter how much she tries to tell her to "buzz off," only telling herself that she's jealous of her (despite the latter in fact being a Bitch In Griffon's Clothing) and that Gilda needs to improve her attitude. But when she sees Gilda blowing a gasket at Fluttershy...

  Pinkie: She's a grump, and a thief, and a bully. The meanest kind of mean meanie-pants there is. I can take it, but no one treats Fluttershy like that. No. One. This calls for extreme measures, Pinkie Pie style!

    • Spike sees Rarity being kidnapped by the diamond dogs. "Little Spiky Wikey" just outright starts beating them up. He loses, but he puts up a good fight. Note to be outdone, Rarity manages to inconvenience the Dogs with wit and whining.
    • In the season 2 finale, the entire team successfully fights off dozens of monsters. Dozens. Even Fluttershy manages to trick a few. Pinkie Pie weaponizes her Party Cannon. Rarity slaps some into submission with a grin on her face. Problem is, the Big Bad had hundreds of mooks. It is still the second legitimate action sequence on the show, and shows that the team is quite capable even without the Elements of Harmony. And then the real Princess Cadence uses The Power of Love to help defeat the big bad.
  • Isabella from Phineas and Ferb is already competent as is, but the kid's gloves come off if Phineas is in danger of being hurt.
    • All of Phineas and Ferb's friends and inventions get to do this during the climactic battle in The Movie.
  • For the first season of Transformers Prime, Soundwave kept away from the front lines; the only fight he got into was with the kid sidekicks of the Autobots (his drone also fought a single Helicopter once). In the finale Airachnid tries to convince the Decepticons to abandon Earth, and Megatron. Soundwave effortlessly tosses her around, forcing her to abandon her mutiny.
  • When the usually idiotic Cosmo finds his wife and godchild in danger, he gets serious to the point of becoming GODZILLA.


Real Life Edit

  • During the First World War, Nestor Makhno, the great Ukrainian anarchist revolutionary, returned to Ukraine after being released from prison to discover that the Soviets had signed Ukraine away to the Germans. With just 30 men and one Maxim machine gun, he crept into a nearby town under cover of darkness where a thousand German troops were bivouacked in the town square and proceeded to massacre the entire German force while they slept. The few German soldiers who escaped were hunted down by angry townspeople with gardening implements and killed. Makhno's anarchist army -- the Makhnovshchina -- was never larger than 50,000 men, had no training, and whose sole source of equipment was captured enemy supplies, managed in the end to drive off 600,000 professionally-trained German soldiers.
  • Battle of Lepanto. Those fat, rich, decadent, wussy, Venetian wimps. Should be lots of fun to pick on, right? In the first two battles the Venetians lost. In the third and best-known one, in 1571... they got dangerous. Very dangerous.
    • ...fits the trope on paper, but not so much in reality. This isn't the time nor place to explain, but suffice to say there's more to it than that (i.e. Spanish and French intervention, naval combat experience and bucket-loads of money).
      • And the Galleasses, those alone were said to have accounted for pretty much all of the Ottoman galleys sun.
  • John Paul Jones letting the British Navy know that "I have not yet begun to fight!"
  • Rukhsana Kauser. An Indian peasant girl in Kashmir. When some terrorists came by her house to forage she killed an internationally wanted terrorist leader. In close combat. While outnumbered and outgunned. To protect her parents. At age 18. With a hatchet.
  • World War One was this for Canada, in terms of international reputation. Before WWI, they were some obscure backwater colony. By the end of the war, the Germans knew in no uncertain terms that they were in for hell if the Canadians attacked them.
    • A similar situation occurred for Australia. A famous quote on the matter was that Australians were "lions led by asses" (the asses being the British Commanders), and the Turks consider Australia to be a Worthy Opponent.
      • It should be noted that 'lions led by donkeys' was a term directed at the entire British and Dominion force, it applied just as much to British troops on the Western Front as to Australian troops led by British officers at Gallipoli (and popular history distorts this as well, as many of the leaders at Gallipoli deemed incompetent were actually Australian). It was a statement also shown later to have been completely fabricated by a historian on the winning side with an animus against the British.
  • At some point in every nation's history they were not looked on as a military power. For every nation that ever became one there was one of these moments.
  • The Battle of Cannae during the Second Punic War for Rome, even though this particular example is better known as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Carthage. When the Carthaginian army had the Romans surrounded and were cutting them to pieces, the remaining soldiers, under the leadership of Scipio Africanus, decided they weren't going to get slaughtered by Hannibal, and hacked their way right through enemy lines and to freedom. They ended up being The Scrappy of the Roman military, but were Rescued From the Scrappy Heap when Scipio used them in his army that crushed Hannibal at Zama.
    • This incident is VERY exaggerated. Scipio Africanus was at Cannae but did not have a position of command and the 'remaining soldiers' were at least a legion strength, if not as much as 14,000 men, depending on the source, who cut their way out. What IS a Lets Get Dangerous moment is that, supposedly, after the battle of Cannae when Scipio heard that some people were calling for surrender took some of his friends and marched into the Senate(which he would not have been allowed to enter because of his youth) and demanded that they not surrender(although most Senators were in agreement. He also is said to have charged the Carthaginian lines at the battle of Ticinus to save his father. It should be kept in mind as well that pretty much all of this is from Polybius, who was a client of Africanus' grandson(by adoption) Scipio Aemilianus, and is generally regarded to have exaggerated(although probably not outright lied) things with regards to that family.
  • Adolf Hitler is a perfect example. He was a near homeless vagabond until he got into the army, once that happened he quickly rose, managing to become Führer (a title that didn't even exist when he joined the army) with only a few setbacks and with a grand total of six initial allies.
    • Vladimir Lenin is an even better example. He came out of exile and took down a government, after spending decades doing nothing much (unless one counts plotting).
    • Stalin's rise was also impressive. A minimally educated legal secretary who took over his entire government.
  • Finland:
    • For a nation who aren't exactly the first to come to mind when you think of military powerhouses, The Winter War is something of an eye opener. With 1/3 of the troops, 1/30 of the aircraft, and somewhere between 1/100 and 1/200 of the tanks, they sure gave the Soviets some wounds to lick.
    • Simo Häyhä, or "The White Death", was an ordinary farmer who was, naturally, called up to help with the Winter War. He now has the record for the largest number of confirmed kills ever. He got so dangerous the Russians started operations specifically to kill him, starting with patrols where he was known to be, then escalating to snipers, countersnipers, and shelling the woods he was hiding in.
      • Not only that, but they got lucky and put him in a coma for nine days when one of those artillery strikes got close enough. The Soviets stopped advancing and ended the war the same day that he woke up. I like to think they heard the White Death had come out of his coma and was about to drive them out, and they quit while they were ahead.
  • Croatia. It is relatively small state, with only 4 million inhabitants, but consider this:
    • It fought for 300 years against the Ottoman Empire. Around 80 years with virtually no help. For comparison, Serbia became an Ottoman province after 2 battles, and many other states (Bosnia, for example) did not fare much better. All while fighting among themselves.
    • 3 wars against Bulgaria, which was (at the time) several times larger in territory. First two ended in stalemate.
      • Battle of the Bosnian Highlands between Croatian forces under future King Tomislav and Bulgarian forces under Alogobotur.
    • 30-year-war. Entire separate type of light cavalry was named after them. They were also used as raiders, so much that there is still a prayer in one German church which asks God to save people from plague and Croats. Some accounts even maintained that the Swedish king was killed by Croats, although that was disproved - the king was killed by Imperial Gotz curassiers.
    • The Croatians also fought on both sides of World War II, forming one elite division of the German Army, one complete Waffen SS division, one part of a Waffen SS division, as well as starting first organized resistance movement against German occupation.
    • Yugoslav wars. In 1991, when fighting started, the most numerous, best trained and best equipped Croatian military units were not military at all, but rather Special Police forces. The Croatian National Guard was formed in 1991 and gradually developed into full-fledged army by 1993.
  • The United States after Pearl Harbor was bombed. The Japanese had estimated that it could successfully win a war against the U.S. since both of their military's production output was roughly equal. The problem was, the U.S. wasn't in a war yet, and so its production of war material was only so-so, while the Japanese had been fighting a war for nearly ten years, and were going flat out. Suddenly, an entire nation wakes up and bears its wrath upon Japan. Eventually, the U.S. was building ships faster than the Japanese could sink them. Everything new and great was first sent to Europe, and the USMC was effectively dead last on the supply chain for everything. Hell, the Marines didn't get the use the Garand until after the National Guard and Marines used the bolt action Springfield 1903 for the entire war!
    • Let's not even get started on the atomic bomb.... (although, one may think of this as a case of good fortune for them)
    • Firstly, Yamamoto knew the Americans would flatten them in the long run (ie, at best he figured they'd get about 1 year of victories), secondly, Lend-Lease had been in effect for 9 months, so they were already spooling up their industrial strength.
      • His exact quote was "I can run wild for six months … after that, I have no expectation of success." The battle for Midway was almost precisely six months after the Pearl Harbor attack.
        • It can be reasonably argued that the actual turning point was just before that, as the Battle of the Coral Sea. That stopped Japanese expansion (by preventing a sea-borne invasion of Port Moresby) that could have severed Allied shipping lanes to Australia, cutting supplies into South-East Asia. The Japanese had a backup plan (the Guadalcanal air base that the US captured not too long afterwards) and another backup plan after that (overland attack to seize Port Moresby) but that never got anywhere either.
    • Don't forget when basically the same thing happened with Russia, in fact, its what really won the war. Namely, After losing the Winter War noted above, Hitler decided that the Soviet Union was too pathetic to keep as allies, and decided to turn on them. However, what Hitler didn't even realize is that, the reason the Russians lost that war was poor planning and a truly badass sniper. So you know what happened? Soviets literally decimated German infantry, crippling them long before the USA got involved.
      • Unfortunately for Russia, this came at a huge price. By 1945, the USSR could not even effectively field materiel replacements for its army. Had US industry not been supplementing the USSR's, the Red Army might have destroyed itself before it even reached Warsaw, never mind Berlin.
  • How has no one brought up Ancient Greece? What happens when Persia, one of the world's greatest powers, attacks a ragtag band of city-states that fight each other more passionately than they do anything else? Said superpower gets owned in a series of wars with said ragtag band of infighting city-states, that's what happens.
  • The Battle of Britain. Outmanned and outgunned, Britain faced the might of the Nazi war machine alone, having seen the BEF get curbstomped in France. With the help of radar, the RAF utterly tore apart the Luftwaffe, with resistance pilots such as the terrifying 303rd squadron from Poland.
    • Mind you, Poland, well just look at the stats for the invasion, half as many troops again, twice as many artillery pieces, 3 times as many tanks, and almost 6 times as many aircraft, and all of it better than what the Polish had, and it still took the Nazis 5 weeks, and the Soviets coming in from the other side (with half as many troops as the Poles started out with, but massively outnumbering them in every other way). In 6 weeks the next year the Germans had overrun the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Luxembourg (and with backup from the British), a combination which altogether had numerical parity in troops, more tanks and guns, a much slimmer disparity of aircraft, and overall much more modern equipment.

Notes

  1. One for you, one for you...
  2. For starters, its speculated in-universe by fellow sorcerers that if he was so inclined, Belgarath could stop the sun from moving across the sky.

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