There are characters in the media who are known, simply put, for being less-than-dangerous. He might even be The Load, or at least a Damsel in Distress. When danger rears its head, the character generally beats feet and lets his tough-guy friends deal with the problem.
But then, for some unexplainable reason, when the work is being adapted into another type of media, the character is made a bonafide Badass. The reasons for this are myriad. Regardless of the whys, the producers have to be careful because quite often the character was defined by being a Non-Action Guy, and turning him into a Badass might result in a fandom backlash.
And yet the opposite is often true, especially if the character is The Scrappy whose job was to get captured by the bad guys and rescued by the real heroes. Actually turning such a character into someone useful can be warmly received by fans who may have wanted them to be like that from the beginning. In this way it can also result in a more preferred version of the character, as well as possibly making a Ret Canon to the original character.
Be aware that the main intention of the trope is one of non-badass to a solid badass. A character just having a different level of power doesn't really count unless it changes the way their character is able to navigate through the story, such as making them a Badass Abnormal. If that was the case then with all the different power levels Superman has had over the years he would count for this trope, as a result of Power Creep, Power Seep.
A variation of Took a Level in Badass. For a sister trope specializing in female characters, see Xenafication. A common result of Adaptational Villainy, in which an Anti-Villain, neutral character, or the odd good guy becomes much more evil in an adaptation. Also compare Historical Hero Upgrade and Historical Villain Upgrade.
Anime and Manga
- The title character of Lyrical Nanoha. She was originally conceived as the Token Loli of Triangle Heart 3 ～sweet songs forever～ whose only role was to be the cute and innocent little sister of main protagonist Kyouya. Even in the mini-scenario where she became a Magical Girl, she was more adorable than threatening with her heart-shaped wand with little wings. Then when The Anime of the Game came, Nanoha's wand was replaced with a Swiss Army Weapon Wave Motion Gun as she was re-imagined into a Little Miss Badass savior of The Multiverse who have been called a "(White) Devil" by foes and fans alike due to her ferocity and destructive powers which she does not hesitate to use on even her friends. Befriending, you know?
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable also does this. Squishy Wizard Hayate, only capable of long-charging bombardment spells in the series proper, is an able close quarters combatant, while Stone Wall Barrier Warrior Yuuno holds his own or closely loses to several opponents who by all rights should have him beat.
- Mazinger Z: Boss was the Butt Monkey and Comic Relief character in the original manga and anime series. In the Super Robot Wars games he slowly got upgraded from Joke Character to midly useful to pretty good character.
- Inverted in the Rockman Zero manga with the eponymous hero; Badass incarnate in the video games, withering coward in the manga.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX manga, Manjoume - the Butt Monkey and heavily subjected to The Worf Effect - becomes a certified Stoic Badass, beating Boring Invincible Hero Judai in a tournament. Sure, he gets curbstomped by Kaiser Ryo in his next duel, but he certainly gets much more respect than his anime counterpart.
- The Gym Leaders in Pokémon Special. They're so strong that it's generally accepted that only an extreme Badass can beat them all. Furthermore, being a Gym Leader also means that your side job is to protect your region from things such as, you know, various terrorist groups. So yeah, expect to see a lot more ass-whooping coming from these guys.
- Pikachu. It's not really that strong in the games, only half again as strong as the pathetic Magikarp, but Ash's Pikachu has defeated legendaries that in the games are twice as strong him.
- In the Mitsuki Oosawa manga adaptation of Fire Emblem Seisen no Keifu, White Magician Girl Diadora moves closer to the Competence Zone. Especially when she takes King Clement's castle with only back up from Lachesis and Aira, without killing anyone and relaying in trickery and magic than brute force, and the expanded version of her confrontation with Manfroy, in which she does get kidnapped to follow the melodramatic Downer Ending of the first generation but still attempts to fight him in self-defense and to protect little Shanan.
- Several characters who suffer from a bad case of What Measure Is a Non-Badass? in the Naruto manga finally get to catch a break in the anime. By far the most glaring example is Hinata, who got to learn a powerful technique the anime team just made up for her, defeat menacing Filler Villains on her own and actually land a hit during what was in the manga a Curb Stomp Battle.
- Analyser from Uchuu Senkan Yamato. 3-foot-tall Loveable Sex Maniac in the anime, over 20-foot-tall Humongous Mecha in the 2010 movie.
- Syaoran Li to an extent in the Cardcaptor Sakura anime. While still under the same inability to catch cards himself, stipulations allow him to earn several cards of his own, most of which he is rather apt with. This allows him to act as a far more effective rival for Sakura, even earning his own trial in the Final Judgement. Even after losing all his cards to Sakura his acts in assisting and protecting her often prove astonishing, with him suggested to still be at a similar or higher level of magical power than her by the closing movie (albeit partly due to lacking a plot point of the manga that rendered Sakura unmatchable in power).
- Inverted hard in the Kimba the White Lion 2009 TV Special where the title character went from being a poster boy of the Killer Rabbit trope to a total coward whose hunting is so bad that even his prey laughs at him.
- Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist. In the manga and Brotherhood, Envy is The Brute and Unskilled but Strong, relying on either its shapeshifting to trick an enemy into submission, or if it must fight, the raw power it can put behind each blow. This usually results in Envy going Clipped-Wing Angel and getting its ass handed to it. The Envy in the first anime adaptation (which went off in a very different direction after it Overtook the Manga) is a Dance Battler and Hero-Killer who serves as The Dragon and manages to kill Ed during their final confrontation.
- In My-HiME and Mai-Otome a few characters' power levels vary based on which series and media they appear in.
- Shizuru typically has the superpowers associated with the series in all versions except the Mai-Hime manga.
- Haruka is a Badass Normal in the Mai-Hime anime who can't win any fights but lives long enough after Yukino's child is killed to headbutt Shizuru and toss Yukino her armband, but is a Hime in the manga. The opposite is true in Mai-Otome; she is a powerful Otome in the anime, endowed with Super Strength and second in her class after Shizuru, but an ordinary police officer in the manga.
- Both of Yukino's Mai-Hime incarnations are Himes, but play supporting roles (in the anime, she primarily uses her powers for surveillance, while in the manga, she uses hers to support Haruka). In Mai-Otome, she has no powers, and is the president of Airies in the anime and a Windbloom police officer in the manga (albeit skilled enough with a sniper rifle to arguably be more effective in battle than her Hime incarnations)
- Persona 4: The Animation gives us Izanagi. In the game, Izanagi's just a cool-looking Persona with low-tier stat growth/elemental affinities/skills that most players will have gotten rid of by the second dungeon; but in the anime he comes off as the biggest badass of the entire bunch, regularly being the go to Persona when Yu needs to wipe out a particularly dangerous Shadow. Then again, it is possible to fuse a really badass Izanagi with skills like Primal Force, Angelic Grace, and Power Charge. Much later in the game, that is.
- Similarly, Beelzebub is a good, late-game Persona, but far from the best. In the anime, Yu fuses him during the battle with Shadow Naoto, uses Megidolaon, and turns the entire dungeon into a smoking crater.
- The Digimon franchise has Gotsumon. Several series, which are AU to each other, have the little guy as a Recurrer with the same or similar personality and voice portrayal. Each version tends to be badder than the last. Digimon Adventure? A cute little guy who'd rather party than fight, his death (along with that of his partner, Pumpkinmon) was used to show how much of a Bad Boss the arc's villain was. Digimon Frontier? His tiny little pebble attack has grown into the ability to create giant boulders and he is able to hold off enemy enforcers who, according to their stats (type, level, element, etc.), should stomp him like a bug without even knowing they'd done so. He can now become Meteormon, a Palette Swap who surprises everyone by being ultra-powerful. Digimon Savers/Digimon Data Squad? let's make him bad again, but good at it! He bedevils the team for the entirety of their first extended stay in the digital world, then becomes Meteormon. They laugh at his dramatic, Large Ham-moment-prefaced transformation into himself, but with lighter coloring for all of two seconds before he starts wiping the floor with them.
- Vertigo's Fables cranks most fairy tale characters' attributes Up to Eleven. The talking wolf of Red Riding Hood becomes a reformed half-god terror, Snow White is a master strategist and diplomat, The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a psychotic ally to an Eldritch Abomination, Goldilocks is a sadist and Professional Killer, and a kindly woodworker is the puppeteer of a multi-planetary empire. In general, the more Popularity Power a character has in this reality, the more raw power they have.
- Mowgli is an international spy who can fight wolves with his bare hands and win. In this case, though, his awesomeness compared to the original may be mostly due to the fact that we're seeing a grown-up version.
- From Marvel's The Mighty Thor:
- Balder wasn't much of a fighter in Norse Mythology, but here he's one of Asgard's greatest warriors (not as great as Thor, but close) called Balder the Brave. He also survived Loki's attempt on his life in this reality and many others due to Odin's personal intervention, because much like his mythological counterpart, his death is the catalyst that would trigger Ragnarok, and Odin is taking far greater precautions to prevent it.
- Sif, Thor's wife and goddess of plenty in Norse Mythology, is a genuine Action Girl in the comics.
- Hela was, at most, a Non-Action Big Bad in mythology; in the comics she's an Evil Sorceress who can even hold her own against Thor. Even more so in the movie adaptation.
- Hades was, if anything, a Retired Badass in mythology, and it was the same in Marvel's history (where he's called Pluto). However, he was hit with this and Adaptational Villainy for a while, coming out of retirement and trying to defy Zeus' non-interference edict. He's been an occasional enemy of Thor and Hercules, but seems to have called a truce with both for now.
- In Super Milestone Wars and it's sequel, the leader of the Supetastic 6, Captain Music (AKA Nat Wolff from The Naked Brothers Band), wears Triangle Shades like Kamina and is the co-pilot of his own Gunman "Gurren Lagann Mk-II". The other co-pilot is Chuck Norris.
- Everyone in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Let's see, there is:
- Severus Snape has been spiking Voldie's father's grave with every dangerous drug and poison known to wizardkind (and LSD—because it might affect him), as well as every other grave in the cemetery on account of Voldie might have moved the gravestone, and the graves of every other ancestor of Voldie's that he and Dumbledore could track down, just in case.
- Daphne Greengrass and Neville Longbottom duel with (what are essentially) lightsabers.
- Harry freaking Potter, in so many ways.
- Draco Malfoy: Manipulative Bastard, The Starscream to Harry, and scion of a long, proud line of Men Behind the Man. Also, when Harry tricks him into thinking he tricked him into permanently sacrificing his belief in pureblood supremacy (part of his plan to force a Heel Face Turn) (it's complicated), he does not take it well.
- Quirrell. Fucking Quirrell. Word of God says he's possessed by Voldemort, but still. Let's see: Evil Mentor to Harry, is a sixth dan in an unspecified martial art, and, assuming the author's telling the truth about him being Voldemort, horcruxed the freaking pioneer probe! Oh, and then he went and tricked Harry into breaking Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban.
- Blaise Zabini is a quintupple agent in a war with only three sides!
- There's lots, lots, lots more, but, well, you get the idea.
- While is the main character, Ichika Orimura in Infinite Stratos is resident The Scrappy. Mostly due the fact that he's dense as brick and has a long list of Informed Ability. Guess what happens when fans tampering with him...
- Kei Ayanami was originally just another one of The Ree with Bond Villainy as her Quirk. And then The Kei-Files came out, and she was changed into a Magnificent Woobiefied Badass girl with Adorkable and Fragile traits, making her one of the most complex and beloved original characters of the fic.
- Kaworu Nagisa. Original version: Ensemble Darkhorse White-Haired Pretty Boy and male Apocalypse Maiden. Ascension version: Unskilled but Strong Kamina Expy Vigilante Man with Obfuscating Stupidity as his hat.
- Rei Ayanami. Original version: stoic and near-emotionless Kuudere. Ascension version: Action Girl in a Badass Longcoat, applying generous amounts of Waif Fu and Gun Fu with a side order of Psychic Powers. And that's still not considering what she can do in her Evangelion. Admittedly though, she's quite fragile emotionally.
- Time Lords and Terror, a My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic/Doctor Who crossover fic reimagines the events of the first incarnation's movie as a Cosmic Horror Story. Hydia, Draggle and Reeka are now Fair Folk-inspired aliens who beat ponies bloody and harvest their life force to awaken the S'Muz (aka the Smooze), an omnicidal, hate-driven Eldritch Abomination that causes a wave of madness by its mere unsealing, that is able to reduce the Everfree Forest into a lifeless wasteland and wants nothing more than destruction of all universes.
- In Unfamiliar, almost every canon character (but especially Princess Henrietta) gets a massive competence boost and a power upgrade. Considering that they're expected to cope with Alex freaking Mercer, this is perfectly understandable.
- Both Shinji Ikari and Kaworu Nagisa in Shinji and Warhammer 40 K are upgraded to nigh-Physical God Magnificent Bastards on a Xanatos collision course.
- Hey, remember how Yuuno was in canon? In Blood That Flows, he's easily as Badass as any of the main characters and can hold his own against Gods and Demons just as well as any of the other characters in the story.
- This trope is a staple for the villains of Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams and Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light. Characters like 8-Ball, the Brothers Grimm, the Chain Gang and Jack O'Lantern were all C-listers at best in the original comics. In the Earth-2706 verse, though, they're exceptionally deadly threats.
- In canon, Kousaka Kyousuke is the type of person who lets his sister walk all over him. Contrast this to the Fix Fic My Life Can't Lose Its Normality where he (as well as Ayase, Akagi, and Miura) are a team of martial-arts mastering, Yakuza-killing vigilantes who pull off stunts normally reserved for paramilitary organizations and special operatives. Holy shit.
- Possibly the entire cast of That Guy with the Glasses in Space.
- Well, the entire Mane Cast probably count, but Mimic from the Pony POV Series is said by Princess Luna to have been the first, and only, mortal pony to injure Discord. By kicking him in the face at supersonic speeds until she knocked his tooth out. He killed her afterwards, but still. Starsong probably also counts, managing to fend off Discord's brother Anarchy for a considerable time.
- A Possession Sue is what happens when you're doing this wrong.
Films -- Animated
- Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame changed from The Ingenue in the original story to an Action Girl in the Disney animated version.
- Malificent in Sleeping Beauty. The Old Fairy in the original story shows up at the baptism, curses the poor infant, and is never seen again; by the time Sleeping Beauty wakes up, her assailant is presumed dead by old age. Malificent is a far more hands-on villain and Evil Sorceress who in the climax, [[Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons| changed into a ferocious dragon that likely gave generations of children nightmares. She's so dangerous that this is a rare Disney villain where the hero needs help to win.
- Ursula in The Little Mermaid takes the place of an old crone called the Witch of the Sea. In the original story, she never interfered directly, much less in any climatic battle of spells.
- Toothless of How to Train Your Dragon went from a tiny green dragon which could fit on Hiccup's shoulder in the book series to a "Night Fury" (the dragon every viking fears most—rather, the only dragon vikings fear) in the film adaptation.
- Rapunzel from Tangled.
- Technically, you could say everyone in Tangled, since the original story doesn't really have any sort of "action." Gothel is a sort of weird example—she becomes more Badass by becoming less powerful, going from a witch in the fairy tale to a knife-wielding Badass Abnormal (she knows a spell to retain her youth but otherwise seems powerless).
- In the original Jungle Book novel, Shere Khan was portrayed as being crippled due to a leg deformity he received during birth, and was a rather pathetic Smug Snake to boot. In the Disney adaptation, however, Khan is portrayed as a menacing, bloodthirsty, yet hammy and whimsical predator who is feared by everyone in the Indian jungle and is constantly determined to kill Mowgli for being a human. In the sequel, however, he is flat out menacing.
- And in Soviet animated adaptation, Shere Khan is a scary villain from his very first appearance.
- This seems to make the anthropomorphic transition as well, if Tale Spin is of any evidence. A ruthless and extremely savvy business man that could easily have Baloo hunted down and crushed if not for his moral code.
Films -- Live-Action
- Corporal Jensen from The Losers went from Computer whiz Non-Action Guy to being a capable soldier. Justified as The Losers are supposed to all be special forces soldiers.
- Mina Harker from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic was originally the team leader, and was a completely normal human being. The Movie turned her into a The Lancer with vampire powers.
- Longtime X-Men villain the Toad was originally conceived as a deformed, sniveling hunchback who served as The Igor to Magneto. His super power was he could hop... really high because of having very low-grade super-strength, concentrated in his legs. However, after the first movie, in which stuntman Ray Park played him as a wisecracking martial artist with wall-crawling abilities and a tongue that he could use as a whip, the comic book character was reimagined and upgraded to have the same powers, thus making him more capable of holding his own in a fight with other heroes. Also, he could spit slime projectiles.
- Daphne in Scooby-Doo was transformed this way. She even beats someone up in the live action film.
- She also evolves in a similar way in the newest series. She at least takes over intelligent leadership.
- Tim Burton's film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland gives the Mad Hatter this treatment; he goes from a silly joke character (as most of the cast in the original work) to a silly joke character who charges into battle with a Scottish claymore.
- Arguably all of the characters in the movie, to some degree.
- Hammond's granddaughter in Jurassic Park was The Load in the novel. In the film, she got her brother's Playful Hacker skills, while he kept his knowledge of dinosaurs.
- In the Hellboy comics, Kroenen was a third-rate Evil Genius. In the Hellboy movie, he's a Dual-Wielding, Clockwork Creature Ghostapo who's nigh-unkillable and serves as The Dragon to Rasputin.
- Pretty much every non-powered hero in Watchmen becomes a lot tougher and a lot stronger in the movie version of Watchmen.
- Bumblebee's main role in the original cartoon was evacuating the humans to safety while the bigger, tougher Autobots went into action, and that was about it. In the Transformers film series, he has a Decepticon kill count second only to Optimus Prime himself, and he's the go-to guy for being a Big Damn Hero, and is quite Badass in Transformers Prime as well.
- Holmes and Watson's portrayal in the recent Sherlock Holmes movie has been seen as this. Interestingly, it was supposedly intended as a return to roots, since, in the original stories, Holmes excelled in every fighting style known to man and Watson was an army doctor who'd been sent home after suffering injuries.
- Peggy Carter and Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger not only went into Ascended Extra territory, they were also upgraded into a badass army officer and a No Celebrities Were Harmed Howard Hughes that help Cap in his missions.
- As stated above, Hela is this in the Marvel Universe, but take that version of her, multiply the badass-meter by about ten, and you've got the Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. Powerful enough to destroy Thor's hammer, she could only be defeated by fulfilling the conditions of Ragnarok and destroying Asgard. Clearly, Hela was only slightly behind Thanos himself for badass Marvel Cinematic villains.
- Harry Potter films took this both ways with Buckbeak. On one hand, they gave Buckbeak his own Crowning Moment of Awesome by showing him protect Harry and Hermione from the werewolf, which wasn't in the book. On the other hand, the sixth and seventh books described him flying around attacking Death Eaters, which wasn't in the movies. A borderline example, if you will.
- Three notable examples in John Carter:
- Dejah Thoris in the novels had a stronger will and spirit than your average Damsel in Distress, but was still a Damsel in Distress nonetheless. The film version keeps the book version's Proud Warrior Race Girl attitude but adds the fighting skills to back it up, making her a full-on Lady of War.
- Supporting villain Tal Hajus was a lazy Villainous Glutton who rarely moved from his throne (and got curbstomped in less than a paragraph when he did move). In the film he's in much better shape, much more active, and apparently younger, though he still gets curbstomped. Being a Big Bad Wannabe in an action/adventure story apparently doesn't let you catch a break.
- The Therns as a race; in the novels, they merely use mundane trickery to present themselves as gods to the other Martian races. The movie Therns still aren't real gods, but hovering somewhere between Humanoid Abomination and Sufficiently Advanced Alien lets them make a much better show of it.
- You don't want to mess with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella in The Princess Series.
Live Action TV
- Smallville: Season 9 transformed B-list villain The Icicle II into a Game Breaker whose presence alone was enough to turn any room into an arctic wasteland. He's able to take out three Justice Society members before being stopped. Season 10 does the same thing with Desaad, changing his from a snivelling Dirty Coward into a Serial Killer whose Psychic Powers allow him to take on Superman.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Eddard Stark is a renowned general with a penchant for winning the undying loyalty of his men through his honor, integrity, and approachability, but who is not particularly imposing as a warrior in personal combat, although he is famous for having killed Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, in single combat, so he's obviously pretty tough. (He is nevertheless of average height and weight for his social class, and not heavily built.) It was Robert Baratheon, a giant of a man, the demon of the Trident, who led from the front. Game of Thrones, the TV adaptation, adds to Ned both fearsome skill with a blade—enough to duel Jaime Lannister to a standstill—and a few inches in height and perhaps a couple stone in weight by having him played by the physically imposing Sean Bean, who is as tall as Mark Addy, who plays Robert.
- In a series that typically keeps most characters similar to the originals, Kat from Power Rangers SPD is shown to be a better and more competent fighter than her counterpart in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. Unlike her counter-part, Kat does battle a group of mooks unmorphed, and generally is presented a lot more serious and determined.
- Ares from Greek Mythology. Originally he is portrayed as a bully who can only win against unaided mortals, gets his butt kicked by anything supernatural, and casually dismissed by fellow gods Zeus and Athena. Then the Romans came around and identified him with their god Mars making him patron god of Rome, second in importance only to Jupiter, ideal soldier, and all-around badass. This might make him the Ur Example. In many modern adaptations Ares is usually portrayed as a massive threat sometimes to the entire pantheon or world including God of War, DC Comics, and Marvel Comics.
- The idea of April O'Neil as an Action Girl is Older Than They Think, as even the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline (based on the 1987 series) had April the Ravishing Reporter (a "gutsy glamor gal" armed with her Ninja File Sai, Lipstick Nunchaku, Compact Ninja Star, Katana Blade Curling Iron, and Make-Up Brush Battle Bō) plus the less subtle April the Ninja Newscaster.
- Super Robot Wars tends to do this quite a bit. Boss and his Boss Borot originally were Joke Character tier in the early games, but by the Alpha series had upgraded to low-medium usefulness, and by the J/W/K/L handheld era he got very good if not outstanding. Bright Noah, already badass in his own right and a competent ship captain in the early games only got better to the point he can kick the ass of the Angels!
- Taizo Hori, hero of the original Dig Dug, and member of the Mr. Driller cast, pictured above in his appearance in Namco X Capcom.
- In the universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Tau Fire Warrior is a basic grunt unit. When adapted to the Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior, the eponymous Tau grunt is able to single-handedly take on the forces of Chaos. And said fire warrior can also be said to be able to take out several contingents of the Emperor's finest Space Marines.
- The fire warrior in question went insane after the events of the game and was never able to fight again.
- The novel delves into some of the Tau lore and explains it a bit better. Kais is fighting a different battle, only his enemy is the very warlike and self destructive aspect that pushed the Tau to the verge of extinction that they thought they no longer had to worry about. His mentor explains that it is something every Fire Warrior has to face and come to grips with.
- A milder example is the 'commando' from Command & Conquer, who suffered Crippling Overspecialization and was weaker than basic grunts against vehicles. The First-Person Shooter Renegade made him a badass wielding all weapons and more, which included three vehicle-killers.
- For twenty years, Garland in Final Fantasy I was known for two things: his famous declaration that he "will knock you all down!" and being the first boss in the series. Then Dissidia Final Fantasy was released. Now Garland is a Boisterous Blood Knight with a transforming BFS bigger than entire characters, his hamminess was ramped up, and he got a few shades of Deadpan Snarker. His archrival, Warrior of Light, went from being a Featureless Protagonist to being a Fettered Cape, a paragon for light and goodness that refuses to give up no matter the odds. And the Big Bad of the original game, Chaos? He's raised up from a generic demon to a Physical God that is able to call upon the other Final Fantasy villains to serve him, effectively making him the Bigger Bad of the entire series. And just wait until you see him fight...
- Final Fantasy II: Firion and The Emperor get similar treatment. Firion went from having virtually no personality to being a Hot-Blooded rebel who is a master of seven different styles of combat, and carries around enough weapons to supply an army. The Emperor went from being a generic, well, Emperor, to being a Chessmaster who turns all the heroes and even a few villains into Unwitting Pawns in his scheme to overthrow Chaos and take over all existence.
- In the prequel, Laguna Loire also got this treatment. In his original game, he wasn't particularly special in combat, he fired a couple blasts from his trademark machine gun as his normal attack and for a Limit Break threw a grenade and fired his machine gun double-time. In Dissidia 012? He's the living embodiment of More Dakka, packing rocket launchers, a machine gun, various types of grenade, a sniper rifle, and a giant laser cannon in the shape of the airship Ragnarok. And his Limit Break? Calling all his weapons together to form a Wave Motion Gun.
- Mickey Mouse gets this in Kingdom Hearts and Disney Epic Mickey, becoming a Badass Adorable who fights freakish Eldritch Abominations.
- Of course, this is just an expansion of the currently underutilized in America side of Mickey as a great adventurer. Comics have always been a place for his Badass side to shine, especially in Italy.
- Also from Epic Mickey, there's the Phantom Blot, a minor (though admittedly effective) criminal mastermind from the comics and a few cartoon appearences, who becomes a horrific monstrosity.
- Pretty much the whole cast of American McGee's Alice.
- The Hobbit (2003) does this to Bilbo. Sure, he doesn't get to fight trolls or dragons but he can fight hordes of goblins, giant spiders, the undead and liches. He can break enemy shields with his sword, and create a shockwave on the floor with his walking stick that sends enemies flying. And he can pole vault with the stick too.
- The guy from Minecraft (who's apparently named Steve? (? included)) got this kind of treatment in his cameo appearance in the PC version of Super Meat Boy. Just like in Minecraft Steve? can both lay blocks in the game world as well as dig through anything, making the usually challenging platforming game comically easy. Essentially this ability goes so far beyond game breaking that Steve? is basically bending the game over a table and having his way with it.
- Bumblebee in his Transformers: War for Cybertron incarnation is a Hot-Blooded playable character who can easily rack up a triple-digit kill count over the course of the Autobot campaign. He doesn't have the raw power of Optimus Prime but he makes up for it with speed, skill and determination.
- Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney games, a fairly normal lawyer, is playable in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Among the cast are Physical Gods such as Thor, Amaterasu and the other Phoenix to name a few. I'll let that sink in. He's set up as a Lethal Joke Character, with abilities focused on, appropriately, defense.
- Alan Grant in just about every single video game adaptation of Jurassic Park. In both the book and film, he's The Worm Guy who largely gets by running and hiding and doesn't ever kill anything. In games, he becomes a Badass Action Hero who expertly wields a plethora of guns and who can kill legions of dinosaurs singlehandedly.
- Some of the gods in God of War are depicted are being much stronger than the Greek Myths presented them as. Ares, the Big Bad of the first game, is presented as a titanic warrior the requires a MacGuffin for Kratos to have a fighting chance against, where in the Greek myths he was a coward that would run away from a fight at the first sign of trouble despite being immortal (though Ares as an Adaptational Badass is also done in every other adaption of him—including Roman mythology), and Persephone in Chains of Olympus, who was simply mentioned as being dragged off by Hades in the Greek myths, is presented as being able to fight Kratos in hand-to-hand combat.
- The Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage game by Koei (of Dynasty Warriors fame) featured Mamiya as a full playable character. In the series, she was shown to be reasonably affective against small groups of Mooks, but against large forces or serious Martial Artist types, she'd inevitably turn into a Damsel in Distress in need of rescuing. Being a playable character, however, means that she's now fighting on par with Kenshiro himself - tearing through armies of hundreds if not thousands, and singlehandedly disassembling top-tier bosses. It probably helps that she's picked up an Automatic Crossbow somewhere - heck, she can even pull a SECOND one out of Hammerspace for one of her Signature Moves.
- The original Simpsons arcade game from 1991 took a rather combatically intept family and made them able to take on the entire town of Springfield and then some with household items (Marge), toys (Bart and Lisa), and bare fists (Homer).
- Liu Shan in the original Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the definition of Suck Sessor, completely inept at fighting and ruling, and in the first sight of danger, he surrenders. Dynasty Warriors turns him into an actually Badass Pacifist by the virtue of being playable. Not exactly top tier, but much more competent, savvy and in a way, virtuous like his dad, although he's a bit scatterbrained (or so he presents himself to public). On the assault on Cheng Du, he fought against Sima Zhao first before retreating, rather than surrendering on sight. Only after their next encounter he surrenders.
- In the Kinnikuman manga, Kinnikuman Big Body is a Jobber for Kinnikuman Super Phoenix. In Kinnikuman: Muscle Fight, he's given a complete moveset based on the moveset from Kinnikuman: Muscle Grand Prix 2. He also has two new supers, which are variations of the Muscle Inferno and Muscle Revenger.
- Rockman 6: Unique Harassment
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters
- In the 1987 cartoon, the Rat King is scrawny filthy guy who lives in the sewers who claims to be the King of Rats (a title nobody has likely challegned him for). He was dangerous in one episode where he brainwashed Master Splinter, but was a big joke afterwards. In the game, however, the Rat King is the Final Boss of tournament mode (as opposed to Karai in storyline mode) and according to April, is the previous champion defending his title. He has added some pro wrestling moves to his moveset, and is certainly built like a pro wrestler, far more muscular than his animated counterpart.
- April O'Neil too (Genesis version only), being a playable character and a full-fledged Action Girl in the game, as opposed to the Designated Victim she usually is. Probably due to the need to include a female hero character.
- April O'Neil is an Action Girl and playable character Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge covering the breaking news story while breaking faces.
- In the character's source series, Pokémon, Atop the Fourth Wall's The Entity is mildly creepy if you start applying Fridge Logic, somewhere between useful and annoying if you don't, and is nigh-universally pathetic in battle to the point of usually being incapable of victory. Now, he's a horror that makes Slenderman look friendly and harmless, and reduces entire worlds to nothingness.
- And according to Word of God, every other glitch Pokemon is just a different from of this version of Missingno.
- The Joker is more known for being crazy and insane than being an amazing hand-to-hand fighter. In fact only a couple of adaptations show him as anything close to Batman's level. But for The Batman, he was given the strength, agility, and dexterity of a monkey.
- Likewise, The Penguin is an exceptional combatant.
- Depending on the Writer, Batman's various villains will display varying levels of fighting ability, intelligence and general threat, even in the comics.
- Justice League Unlimited gave this to Aquaman as well, at least compared to Superfriends (the comics version was always pretty badass). They ended using almost any "joke" character in the past to great effect.
- Ace "the Bathound" from Batman Beyond.
- Even more so in Krypto the Superdog.
- Batman the Brave And The Bold has resident Badass Normal The Question beating up on parademons. Double-sized parademons. These are Mooks that can give Superman at least a little trouble (and think of how strong something has to be compared to a normal human in order to give Superman trouble).
- The Terrible Trio in Batman the Animated Series were a trio of rich brats who wore animal masks and got rather lucky against Batman. However, they crossed the Moral Event Horizon so well by the end of the episode that followup series brought them back. In The Batman, they were social outcasts at Gotham University who stole the Man-Bat formula and became werebeasts for Batman and Batgirl to fight. In Batman the Brave And The Bold, they are were Arrogant Kung Fu Guys who betrayed and killed their master, controled a clan of Shadow Ninja and planed to take over the city. Oh, and they also stole a talisman that turned them into werebeasts too.
- Mr. Freeze was originally just a campy cold-themed villain from the DC Silver Age, and had been killed off by the Joker in the comics years before Batman the Animated Series. His appearance in TAS as a more serious Anti-Villain with a Dark and Troubled Past gained enough popularity that he was brought back in the comics, with his backstory retconned to more closely fit the animated version.
- Spider-Man villain Electro could get pretty lame in the comics, with his power just about enough to almost kill the web-slinger once before getting beat every time after. In Spider-Man: The Animated Series however, he was a Big Bad by the last episode of the story arc in his first appearance, replacing the Red Skull as the primary threat. The guy then easily dispatched the Six American Heroes (a team of Golden Age heroes which included Captain America (comics)), the Insidious Six, and Spider-Man, and made it clear he could kill any of them at any time, took control of the Earth's satellites through the electrical signals he fired to broadcast himself to the world's media, announce he's the new President Evil of the world, and when all of S.H.I.E.L.D. chose to disagree, he handled them single-handedly by SHOOTING DOWN their base:
(Nick Fury jumps off the collasping S.H.I.E.L.D. base, then pulls his parachute)
- In fact, the only way for anyone to defeat him was for Spider-Man to play to his ego, and basically goad him into destroying himself. Had he not been so obsessed with proving his own power, he may well have won.
- The series also turned the Spot into a genuine threat, capable of running rings around Spider-Man with his ability to create masses of portals.
- Comics-verse Black Cat is a Badass Normal who occasionally wields bad-luck powers. The 90s cartoon version starts out as a classmate of Peter's before gaining powers from the Super Serum that created Captain America.
- Teen Titans made Aqualad a badass, water-bending Atlantean cop who was lusted after by Raven and Starfire (for one episode, at least). Not too bad considering he was written out of the original Teen Titans comic book because the writer thought he was useless.
- Raven as well. In the comics, she can simply teleport, heal other people, and sense other's feelings (nothing actually useful during a fight). Here, she uses telekinesis, can fly, knows sorcery, etc.
- Killer Moth. In the comics, he's the most ineffectual of the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains with a completely ridiculous costume that looks like it was put together by someone who was colorblind. Here, he's a half-man, half-moth hybrid with an army of genetically modified bugs at his command.
- Doctor Robotnik from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, both inverts this trope and plays it straight. In the original games, he was a silly and childish, yet competent and effective Mad Scientist. In the first Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon adaption, he is a complete buffoon, Large Ham, and Foil for Sonic and Tails; nearly all of his plans are failures, and his robot minions are incompetent. In the second cartoon adaption (and its comic book adaptation), he's a downright scary Diabolical Mastermind.
- More recent games have struck a middle ground, where he's generally competent but almost always gets pushed aside by the game's final boss, which is usually something he built/freed that went out of control. In the very recent games, while as buffoonish and comical as ever, he has actually posed even more of a genuine threat and finally regains the role of final boss.
- Tails inverts this. In the games, he's one of the fastest and strongest characters. In the TV adaptations, he's usually all but useless when it comes to fighting.
- Amy has always been a fairly realistic character for her age. You don't expect her to be badass or whatnot, she's just a girl who's in love with Sonic. In Sonic the Comic however she's quite The Lancer to Sonic. She's far more lethal than any other version of her to date, and sports some Improbable Aiming Skills.
- Bumblebee, once again, featuring in Transformers Prime. His first foray into robot combat in the pilot episode had him coming to Arcee's aid by driving off an overpass, transforming, landing with a thud and by the next beat his fist connects with an Vehicon's face. He doesn't appear to be quite the same bruiser as in the movies, but he is no less reliable.
- Also, while the original Starscream was pretty much a Running Gag of one transparent backstabbing plan after another, often openly telling Megs what an idiot he is and how Starscream should be in charge, and only being kept alive because his Megatron was no brighter than he, certain later incarnations are nigh unto Magnificent Bastard class, and the second-most-powerful Decepticon next to Megs himself to boot. At one point in Transformers Cybertron, he borrows a portion of the power of the god Primus and spends an arc handily kicking around all the Autobots and Decepticons singlehandedly.
- Megatron himself. G1 Megatron was Too Dumb to Live when it came to Starscream, and would trust him again ten seconds after being shot at by him. He had a high-pitched voice - higher than any Starscream but his own (Most Starscreams are kinda high and scratchy. G1 Starscream sounded like the actor inhaled helium before each recording.) - that wasn't striking fear into any Autobot's spark. "Decepticons, retreat! RETREEEEEAT!!" was practically his Catch Phrase, and even the series' most diehard fans admit that he'd yell it when the going got tough even if he still actually had the upper hand. Oh, and he turned into a gun that couldn't move or fire himself and was usually held by... go on, guess who. Since then, he's had highly Badass vehicle and beast modes, and has been freakishly powerful and/or a brilliant Diabolical Mastermind.
- Both Starscream and Megatron have outdone themselves in Transformers Prime. The latter's a soulless Bad Boss who coldly tortures his enemies and allies, and plots to use his Necromancer abilities to raise the dead of all Cybertron as an army. Starscream, not to be outdone, has become a sociopathic Bastard Understudy who casually murders a named character in the first ten minutes of the show, and successfully betrays Megatron some episodes into the series.
- Also from Transformers Prime: Breakdown. Traditionally one of the Stunticons, and a paranoid Conspiracy Theorist and Dirty Coward to boot, Prime has turned Breakdown into The Brute of the Decepticon team. He's an independent character and a total Badass who lives to Drop the Hammer on unsuspecting Autobots (especially his Arch Enemy, Bulkhead). He's also got shades of Noble Demon, an Eyepatch of Power, and a partnership with Evil Genius Knock Out that makes him all the more dangerous.
- Both Starscream and Megatron have outdone themselves in Transformers Prime. The latter's a soulless Bad Boss who coldly tortures his enemies and allies, and plots to use his Necromancer abilities to raise the dead of all Cybertron as an army. Starscream, not to be outdone, has become a sociopathic Bastard Understudy who casually murders a named character in the first ten minutes of the show, and successfully betrays Megatron some episodes into the series.
- On a similar note to Starscream, Waspinator went from The Chew Toy in Beast Wars, to a sinister Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds in Transformers Animated. Notably, a few of his lines are re-purposed quotes; the most well-known being "Waspinator have plans...", which changes meaning considerably when the context goes from him facing down impending doom to gradually pulling himself back together after being blown apart, less comedically and more "too much hate to die." Even his design is creepier. They actually did the research to make him look and sound more creepily insectlike, in design and movement.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes another wasp gets to take a level in badass. In the comic, Janet "Wasp" Van Dyne has the power to become small and shoot mildly painful "stinger" energy blasts. It's... as useful in combat as it sounds. In the series, she'll fly circles around enemies, is as capable of dealing with villains on her own as any of her teammates with her much-stronger stingers, and makes Spider-Man level wisecracks all the way.
- And she's the only person who constantly stays optimistic about being a hero and is just generally good (again, like Spidey).
- On the villains' side, the Grim Reaper is definitely far more sinister than his comics version. In the comics, he wore purple spandex with goofy, Galactus-style head gear, and was pretty much a joke in that regard. In the series, he wears a hooded cape and is a Psycho for Hire with Dissonant Serenity and a Slasher Smile. Oh, and he's voiced by Lance Henriksen.
- Believe it or not, Hulk has this in a way. He's not just the team berserker that they point at something to hit. This Hulk is smarter (think how he was in World War Hulk, for an example) unless he's pissed off beyond belief (at which point the villain simply can't win anyway). Notably, there is almost no Hulk Speak to be found, he understands and uses sarcasm, and got Hawkeye to stay with the team by teasing him. And his favorite teammate is Wasp. So if you do hurt her Adaptational Badass self, you get to deal with him.
- Young Justice took the incredibly lame and gimmicky Sportsmaster and turned him into a Badass Normal mercenary who has a keen enough eye to spot Miss Martian while she's invisible and throw a javelin that would have impaled her if she hadn't moved at the last second. Even then it still exploded and sent her flying.
- Klarion the Witch Boy is a full blown Lord of Chaos and arch rival of Doctor Fate in this series instead of being just another magic user. He is still as childish as ever, though.
- Similarly, Mister Twister, originally a rather feeble villain whose powers came from a magic stick, becomes an incredibly powerful android who effortlessly solos the entire team (up to and including Superboy) while spouting arrogant one-liners left and right.
- Tigger of Winnie the Pooh isn't largely different from his novel incarnate, however some of the bleaker situations used in the Disney adaptions have proved just how badass bouncing really is. Abiding by The Tigger Movie Roo could apply for this trope as well (only the Disney adaption can lay claim to "the Whoopty-Dooper Loopty-Looper Alley-Ooper Bounce" at least).
- Matt Olsen of WITCH, prior to the comics turning him in to a failed version of The Obi-Wan. In the cartoons, Matt was a normal guitarist who, after getting fed up with Will ditching him on dates, decided to find out what the hell was going on. After finding out her double life, he decided he wasn't going to stand there and let her get hurt all the time. Not only does he take combat lessons from Caleb, he also gains a massive power boost when he's forced to take up a fraction of the Heart of Earth, putting him at equal (if not greater) footing of Will herself!
- Caleb himself is a Badass rebel leader in the series who is much more of a fighter than the original and doesn't spend most of the series as a flower because of Phobos, either. A fan only familiar with the comics who read this page would likely say "back up a sec, Caleb is giving somebody combat lessons?"
- Mumm-Ra of Thundercats 2011. His original 80's incarnation has nostalgic charm, but was incredibly inept given his power level. He's never proactive in his weak Shapeshifter Default Form, playing Orcus on His Throne. His Ever-Living form alternately has a Weaksauce Weakness to his own reflection or suffers Villain Decay. 2011 Mumm-Ra's first acts onscreen, as a frail Squishy Wizard, are to use his Master of Illusion powers to commit full-blown regicide, boast of how nightmarish he is, make a Big Entrance Wreathed in Flames, spout a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner and promptly slaughter nearly the full complement of the dead monarch's Praetorian Guard with a Kamehame Hadouken. That's without powering up.
- His underlings the Mutants (now members of the other animal races populating Third Earth) continue the pattern, with the Jackalman and Monkian analogs Kaynar and Addicus in particular portrayed as vicious, ruthless criminals before being appointed generals in Mumm-Ra's forces, and devastating fighters in battle.
- My Little Pony's toy line has always been rather peaceful. However being an 80s cartoon, the original cartoon was considerably darker and more action packed so several characters became more Badass than before.
- Legion of Super Heroes upgrades Ron-Karr, who in the comics merely has the power to make himself flat. In the cartoon he's a Shape Shifter and Evil Counterpart to Chameleon Boy (until his Heel Face Turn).
- From the same series, Grimbor & Terra-Man. The former in the comics was just chain-weapon themed villain who sought revenge for his wife's death, while the cartoon one was a skilled mercenary who owned the team (sans Karate Kid). The latter was originally a environmental terrorist who dressed in a cowboy-inspired battlesuit (and was exclusively a Superman foe, no less), while the cartoon version was a Terminator-like robot who was nearly unbeatable.
- Brainiac Five. Originally The Smart Guy with a force field gadget, he is now a descendant of a Superman: The Animated Series-style Brainiac 1.0, meaning he is a super-genius and super-powerful Do-Anything Robot, though some fans felt that it was an unnecessary beef-up that came of underestimating and not really respecting the original character enough. The series finale finds him under Brainiac 1's influence, and he basically becomes ten times the god of destruction that S:TAS Brainiac 1 was, killing freaking Imperiex, a Galactic Conquerer and Big Bad of the season, dead, and taking apart the Thanagarians, a whole world of Proud Warrior Race Guys, and even taking over his home planet Colu - and all the Coluans are Brainiac-based machines, apparently. His first act was to put a crown of Kryptonite on The Messiah Superman even after Supes had wrecked most of his original body. It was basically two episodes of each Badass moment making you say HOLY CRAP! even louder than the last one did.
- Speaking of Terra-Man, in Justice League Unlimited, he appeared under his civilian name Tobias Manning. Manning was actually a cowboy, living in the 1800s, until he got his hands on Chronos' time travel tech. Now (well, not now-now) he and his thugs rule the west with an iron fist using future technology. Not too shabby.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a franchise that has spanned comic books, cartoons, toys, and live action movies, and there have been many variations of the characters throughout the years.
- First off, the Shredder is this on multiple levels. Hard as it is to believe, he wasn’t much of a villain in the original comics. While he was indeed the Token Motivational Nemesis and played a large role in the backstory, he was more to the Turtles what Joe Chill was to Batman. He was killed in the first issue and only appeared one other time, as a mindless zombie, that’s it. While the depiction in the 80s series makes him a comical villain typical of cartoons at the time, he was still much, much more badass than “that guy who was killed in the first issue”.
- Subsequent versions of the series and the live action movies tend to make him far more dangerous. In the 2003 series, he has an almost supernatural knack for being seemingly unkillability, allowing him to show himself just as badass in defeat as in victory. The 2012 version was more lighthearted than the 1987 version (but not as much as in 2003) and the Shredder here tended to be a Knight of Cerebus type for episodes that forget it’s a lighthearted version.
- April O'Neil has usually been a Damsel in Distress in the older cartoons, only showing "badass" qualities on the sidelines. In the 2012 version, however, she's taken actual training as a Kunoichi, and most recently, was able to defeat Raphael in a sparing match. (Raph keeps insisting she's "almost fully trained", although that really only means she hasn't completed the course.) The same goes for her Rise incarnation. While she's still untrained, she is able to fight alongside the Turtles from the get-go, and being just as capable of defeating villains on her own, even landing the finishing blow on a Shredder-armor-empowered Baron Draxum.
- In fact, his fighting style is pretty much exactly like that
- In this 'verse, you don't need any badges to actually compete in the League, but having all 8 badges mean you can skip the preliminaries. This incentive guarantees plenty of challengers
- And the reason he surrenders wasn't because he's scared as hell, but to preserve the people of Shu from the Hopeless War brought forth by his subordinates who simply doesn't know when to quit.
- Tomahawk Man, Spark Man, Chill Man, Pharaoh Man, Jewel Man, Dust Man, Napalm Man and Galaxy Man
- Mr. X Stage 1 and Dr. Wily Stage 2