Brought Down to Badass
The world of superheroes has all types. Some gain their powers through Training from Hell and gain Charles Atlas Superpowers, while others get them from some form of Applied Phlebotinum. Trouble is, most heroes with the later form have an Achilles' Heel of some kind, could be a Weaksauce Weakness, some Kryptonite Factor, or a Power Nullifier, that can rob them of their powers. When this happens, these heroes are left utterly useless, as their entire hero status rested on those powers. But sometimes, we will run across a hero who can still dish it out when their powers are gone. Basically, he's been Brought Down to Normal, but he/she isn't useless or helpless.
These heroes (or villains) may be Crazy Prepared and trained in non-powered fighting in case of just this occasion. Or, they may have gotten their powers after learning five forms of martial arts. Or, maybe they just plain plain didn't use their powers to kick ass anyway. Or, they're just that Badass that they don't need powers to kick you into next week.
To qualify for this trope, a character must have had powers at one point, had them taken away, and still kick butt. You'll find sometimes that because of their powers the character had to act rather conservatively or hold the Idiot Ball to balance it out, but when normal and forced to improvize they find themselves not holding back and subsequently smarter for it.
Anime and Manga
- Mirio from My Hero Academia, because his quirk (i.e. super power) required learning some skills that were useful even after losing it. Mirio, while unarmed and quirkless, fought Overhaul, who probably has one of the most powerful quirks in the setting. Overhaul, in principle at least, could kill Mirio by touching with one of his fingers, or by touching the ground and reshaping it to impale him. Plus Overhaul had a teammate. And Overhaul could target someone that Mirio was trying to protect. Also Mirio was under the influence of a quirk that disorients people. He dragged this fight out for over five minutes. Fifteen if you want to include the parts were he still had his powers.
- In one chapter of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, protagonists Jotaro and Polnareff are attacked by a villain named Alessi who can de-age his victims into children with his Stand. Polnareff keeps his Stand upon becoming a child since he was born with it. However, Jotaro loses his Stand, since he didn't develop it until he was a teenager. Alessi thinks he's got the fight in the bag once Jotaro de-ages down to 7 years old, but Jotaro still has his nasty temper and manages to pummel Alessi with nothing but his fists.
- In One Piece, Blackbeard attacks Newgate with his darkness power, gloating about how it will nullify his earthquake ability... quite forgetting that he is facing the 18 foot tall World's Strongest Man with an even longer bisento.
- At one point, Captain Yamamoto is attacked by an arrancar custom-designed to seal the devastating fire from his zanpakuto. Deprived of his famous ability he gives the hollow a Death Glare... and promptly frags him with his bare fists.
- Long after losing all of his spiritual powers, Ichigo demonstrates that one thing still remaining from when he had them is the physical reflexes and fighting experience from all the Training from Hell he went through.
- Darker than Black (second season): Even after losing his electricity-based superpowers, Hei still kicks serious ass. Which is hardly surprising, given the fact that he earned his nickname "Black Reaper" due to how good he was at killing contractors before he got his powers.
- Mahou Sensei Negima
- Nagi Springfield, a powerful mage, rescues princess Arika from a valley filled to the brim with monsters. Magic doesn't work in there, so he simply jumps in, evades hordes of critters, picks her up and jumps out... using the monsters as a ladder.
- It should be noted that it was said a single bite from these monsters kills.
- Don't worry, Evangeline is still sealed by the School Curse, she can't be a threat... barring the century of martial arts practice she's had and the ruthless effectiveness of her puppet strings.
- And it turns out even then she's just screwing around. This is the girl who wiped the floor with the entirety of Cosmo Entelecheia ultimately using a spell that put them in a And I Must Scream situation with no intention of ever letting them out. Do not screw with Evangeline. She will destroy you.
- The Slayers: When Gourry Gabriev lost his super mega giga artifact magic sword, he initially went through a period of depression and powerlessness. But after this brief period of despair was over, he quite adapted to kicking ass with a regular steel sword.
- Wrath in Fullmetal Alchemist always seemed to rely on his Charles Atlas Superpower more than his Evil Eye, so when he loses that and is badly wounded, he's still a terrifying threat to the protagonists- even the ones who have alchemy-related knowledge and abilities.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Dlanor gets brought back to normal by a goat whose powers negate her Knox Commandments, and finds herself unable to fight back. Will, on the other hand, gets Brought Down to Badass as he proceeds to HEADBUTT THE GOAT TO DEATH because he insulted the mystery genre. Do not. Insult. The mystery genre. In front of Will.
- Acqua of the Back from A Certain Magical Index eventually loses his incredible powers, but he's still a walking tower of muscle and an experienced former soldier and mercenary.
- In Tiger and Bunny Kotetsu's powers are fading away, yet he still manages to do incredibly well in fights with superpowered opponents without them and without his powered armor. In the epilogue, he decides that he isn't going to let a lack of powers stop him from being a superhero until the day he dies.
- In the manga version of Sailor Moon the Sailor Senshi are temporarily depowered. During this period, most of them are defenseless until they recover their powers... But Minako still gives a run for their money at the enemy, reminding the reader she was the one that, untransformed, defeated a brainwashed but still super-strong Makoto with a single kick.
- Marvel Comics: Hank Pym and Bruce Banner have on various occasions throughout their careers gone from Ant-Man and Hulk (respectively) to "genius scientist" as their "superpower," arguably making them even more dangerous. (In Pym's case, he was a "genius scientist with a Bag of Holding." Be very afraid.)
- Ultimate Fantastic Four: The Skrulls gave everyone on Earth superpowers, but poisoned them as well. The only one who had not taken the "super pill" was Ben Grimm, who had just been returned to normal. He then proceeds to defeat the Skrull leader... with his bare hands.
- X-Men: Storm went through a long stretch without her weather powers, but with a Mohawk, a new leather wardrobe, and a take-no-crud attitude that made her just as dangerous as she had been when she was slinging lightning bolts or throwing tornadoes. Though her powers came back, she still possesses remarkable hand-to-hand prowess when she needs to use it.
- Captain America: Steve Rogers, most commonly known for hus role as Captain America, in his own mini-series got exposed to vita-rays that deactivated his Super serum reducing him to a scrawny 100 lb weakling. When half a dozen goons enhanced with the same serum came to execute him, he easily dealt with everyone of them. The man fought in WW II and is one of the best trained soldiers on the planet, muscles only account for so much...
- Not to mention that he's usually fighting opponents many times stronger than him anyway.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark would like to remind you that even without his armor, he's a Gadgeteer Genius trained in hand-to-hand by Captain America (comics).
- Ms. Marvel lost her powers briefly in one of her series, and continued to kick ass thanks to her years of training in the Air Force Special Ops...
- Guy Gardner thinks he's this, as was seen in the 1980s Justice League International series. He took off his Green Lantern Ring to have a mano-a-mano showdown with Batman over leadership of the League. Batman knocked him out with one punch. (Guy's subsequent change of personalities came when he bumped his head while searching for his ring afterwards.)
- He also once goaded Hal Jordan into a no-rings-allowed fistfight. It didn't go quite as badly for him as the aforementioned encounter with Batman, but Hal was more than holding his own until the cops break them up.
- Catwoman vs Zatanna: After she found out Zee had brainwashed her into becoming a vigilante (long story). Catwoman duct-taped Zatanna's mouth to prevent her from casting spells, but forgot that all Justice League heroines go to Amazonian fighting training Summer camps. During the ensuing fight, Catwoman also points out that as a stage magician, Zee likely followed a pretty intense workout regiment to begin with.
- Superman lost his powers and just intimidated criminals by, y'know, being Superman at them. This was in the same arc where he became Electric Blue Superman. By now, Superman has so much experience suddenly losing his powers in the comics that he hardly breaks stride, even when he's the only powerless person on a planet full of Kryptonians.
- In 52, he lost his powers again for just about exactly one year. He did retire from crime fighting, but instead spent the time pulling off Intrepid Reporter tricks that even gave Lois herself gray hairs.
- Which makes quite a bit of sense really, because, even if you take away Superman's powers, you're still facing a six foot-plus man covered in muscle, with decades of experience as a Superhero and whose best friend is one of the best martial artists alive
- All-Star Superman: Lex Luthor steals Superman's powers, and Supes is Brought Down to Normal. The result? Supes beats Luthor. With his brains, no less.
- Immortal Iron Fist: Iron Fist has his link to his chi powers broken at one point, but the fact that he had to train to be a martial arts master to get those powers in the first place means he's still pretty damn hard.
- JLA: Act of God, an Elseworlds story, had the premise that every super-powered person on Earth one day lost their powers. Some members of the Justice League retrained, re-equipped, and went back into action watched over by their new mentors: the Badass Normal heroes of Batman, Robin, Huntress, and Nightwing.
- For a while in the 70s, Wonder Woman had to give up her magical powers and learned kung fu to keep on fighting crime.
- At the end of The Death of Superman, when he really comes back, he has no powers, just his good ol' fists, and a bunch of automatic machineguns. He storms the Cyborg Superman's/Mongul's base just with that, keeping up with Steel, a genius creator of some superweapons which had been being used by criminals, and who made himself a suit of Powered Armor capable of keeping up with said superweapons. He does get his powers back at the end of the arc, of course (and more), but he was pretty badass in the meanwhile.
- He actually does have a small measure of his power in that arc, being able to leap and possessing some super strength, but he's still going up against villains that would challenge him at full power so it hardly makes a difference.
- Thor and Hercules of the Marvel Universe have both had their godhood stripped away at times. With Thor it was back in the late nineties. He proved to be just as capable a fighter as Captain America. Hercules burned out all of his godly powers at the end of Chaos War leaving him without any Super Strength at all and still fights super-villains and criminals. He has access to some magical weaponry, is highly skilled at using it, but even then can barely keep up. Yet he still kicks butt.
- Happens rather interestingly in a Superman Elseworlds story. When Earth faces destruction, scientists Jonathan and Martha Kent send their infant son Clark off in a rocket, which eventually lands on Krypton, where he is found and adopted by Jor-El and Lara. Clark has extreme difficulties surviving with Krypton's greater gravity and red sun that saps his strength, until he encounters a dying alien who entrusts him with a ring, making him the new Green Lantern. He is eventually sent to investigate activities on Earth, which wasn't actually destroyed completely, but has suffered a post-apocalyptic collapse of civilization. When he lands in Metropolis, he is captured by Lex Luthor, who takes his ring and throws him in a cell with Lois Lane. Clark complains that without the ring he is powerless, and lashes out at the wall... smashing a hole. Growing up on Krypton does a body good, apparently.
- Spider-Man lost his powers once or twice, notably in the 70's; when tricked to drink a potion that nullified his spider powers, he manages to burst out of several lengths of rope tying him up on a chair by flexing his muscles and getting pissed off - looks like playing super-hero daily helps building up upper body strength. On top of that, he remains a skilled chemist and physicist, good enough to show up the likes of Reed Richards, Doom and Tony Stark. He has, more than once, used his intellect to escape baddies while preserving his secret identity.
- Black Canary went for a while without her Canary Cry, instead relying on her hand-to-hand ability. Since the character only gained said power after a couple decades of being a Badass Normal, this was more of a Returned Down To Badass.
- In Bubba Ho-Tep, Elvis Presley is bedridden in a nursing home, and mistakenly assumed to be an impersonator. But he can still take care of business when the mummy shows up.
- Thor may have been stripped of his powers and Mjolnir but that doesn't stop him from beating up SHIELD agents to get back Mjolnir.
Agent Coulson:" It's not easy to do what you did. You made my men — some of the most highly trained professionals in the world — look like a bunch of minimum-wage mall cops."
- Another suitless Iron Man example: He would like to remind you that without the suit, he's still a Billionaire, Genius, Playboy Philanthropist
- Freddy vs. Jason: Sure, dragging Freddy Krueger out into the real world made him killable, but he doesn't take it lying down. He still inflicts significant damage to Jason with improvised weaponry and his own machete.
- In the first novel of Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures, there is a wizard named Aahz who loses the ability to cast magic. Despite this loss, he earns a fearsome reputation that continues to grow throughout the series, as he uses his strength and cleverness to aid his allies.
- In Timothy Zahn's The Thrawn Trilogy, there is a creature called an ysalamiri that "pushes back" The Force. A Jedi's powers don't work within 4 meters of an ysalamiri, or anywhere at all in a forest crowded with enough of them. Luke Skywalker finds himself in such a forest, completely cut off from the Force, and yet he's still able to take down a base full of Imperial stormtroopers with nothing but a good blaster at his side and a basic knowledge of structural engineering.
- Luke did have his lightsaber, and Artoo's ability to calculate a trajectory to put it in his hand when and where he needed it. It's still very impressive, though. This is only one of several examples in Zahn's novels of Luke's ingenuity getting him (and, often, his friends) through a situation, rather than having Luke brute-Force his way through.
- In The Son of Neptune, Percy loses the invulnerability he had previously gained in The Last Olympian early on in the book...and then spends the rest of the story reminding you why he was badass before he went and bathed in the River Styx.
- Bionicle: The Toa Nuva lost their elemental powers when the Bohrok-Kal stole the source of their elemental powers. Subverted in that they could still use their mask powers, but they did have to rely on their wits and skills to stop them.
- At various times in The Sword of Truth series, Richard is stripped of pretty much everything (his magic on more than one occasion, his friends, his freedom in several different ways, his love, and even his self-confidence), and invariably not only gets it back, but becomes more powerful as a result.
- In the third Monster Hunter International book the king of the werewolves loses his werewolf abilities, but remains son of the greatest monster hunter who ever lived and keeps his over a century of hunting experience.
Live Action TV
- In a season premiere of Doctor Who, the Doctor finds himself with neither his sonic screwdriver nor his TARDIS. He still manages to save the world in 20 minutes with some creative Internet usage.
- The companion Rory Williams fits this, too. He spent 2000 years as a Roman Centurion with the memories of a trained warrior, and furthermore, one made of plastic and with a gun in his hand. Even after being normal again he still manages to kick ass and punch Hitler.
- He may have gotten the cool Power Walk scene in Volume 2, but Peter Petrelli certainly turned up the heat on his awesomeness during his S3 Brought Down to Normal phase, thinking situations through, teaming up with the Haitian to take down Arthur, basically being a much better, smarter person than his V2 persona. Luckily, he retained these qualities even after he regained powers, mainly because he was no longer a God Mode Sue.
- A fairly sureal vesion occurs in an episode of Lois and Clark, on Lois and Clark's wedding night, H G Wells appears from the far future, with a device that lets people experience their prior reincarnations. He informs them that they are soulmates, destined to meet and fall in love in every life, but are also under a curse that will kill them on the first night they have, ahem, relations... He takes them through two of their past incarnations, one in Medieval England and one in the Wild West, in an attempt to remove the curse, and in each, Clark is a vigilante hero with a Secret Identity, apparently also part of his destiny. However, since both these incarnations are human, Clark is a Badass Normal for the majority of the episode, easily capable of beating up multiple opponents without his powers.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Tommy can still kick ass after losing the Green Ranger powers the second time because he's a fourth-degree black belt.
- This happens too many times to list, in the later Power Rangers seasons. This was done partially because they became less reliant on dubbing over Super Sentai footage, as time went on.
- Dexter has Chutsky, losing an arm and a leg, literally, and still kicking ass at Brian's level. There's less than half of Sergeant Doakels and he still hounds Dexter, albeit not with the same stamina. Dexter unfortunately didn't fair so well when he was Brought Down to Normal in the third book by losing his Passenger, but in the 5th, where he just shunned it, still showed skill, even if only in avoiding death.
- Although Castiel lost most of his Angel powers over the course of the fifth season of Supernatural, he still managed to kick a fair amount of ass via ingenuity and good old-fashioned nerve.
- Smallville has seen this happen to Kal-El more than once.
- His cousin, Kara, managed to survive for over 50 years trapped in the Phantom Zone, without her powers. One could argue this definitely qualifies her as one of the biggest badasses in the entire series.
- A lot of the past Sentai members in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger fit into this mold. The king of this is probably Ryo of the Celestial Fire Star, who can keep up with Gokai Silver and still do all of the insane Dairanger posing and martial arts in his forties.
- Chuck gets his powers from a government supercomputer stored in his brain called the Intersect. The Intersect 2.0 allows the user to tap into fighting knowledge. Chuck lost the Intersect and his best friend Morgan got it. Morgan turned in to a Jerkass and made a Face Heel Turn. Chuck fights him and is easily a match for Morgan.
- With the corrupted Intersect out of Morgan's head, nobody has any version of it now. It hasn't stopped the team from being quite Badass.
- In an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hera strips Zeus of his godhood and exiles him to Earth, assuming he will become miserable and quickly killed. While Zeus does get confused by life as a mortal (he had to ask Hercules what this unpleasant sensation he was feeling was: pain), he easily wins a Bar Brawl.
- Wesley of Angel was shot and nearly killed after having taken the first of his multiple levels of badass, temporarily confining him to a wheelchair and making him useless in hand to hand combat, the basis of most the show's action sequences. When faced with a demon in his weakened state, Wesley grabbed a shotgun and blew it away. He didn't forget about his handiness with a gun after he recovered and occasionally used them thereafter.
- At the end of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon the Sailor Senshi lost their powers. In the Special Act, set a few years after the end of the series, a group of low-level youma try and kidnap Minako, quickly subdue her bodyguards... And back down in terror after Minako kicked one in a concrete pillar so hard to shatter the pillar's surface. Youma and bodyguards alike understood why Minako complained of her bodyguards' weakness when the youma started defeating them...
- In the same Special Act we are shown that all the Sailor Soldiers are still badass: Rei attacked the Big Bad of the episode while without her Senshi powers and survived, albeith needing to be hospitalized; Ami resorted to Car Fu to beat up the low-level youma and escape one of the Big Bad Dragons; Makoto simply beated up an horde of Mooks; and Mamoru and Usagi (who was implied to be pregnant) quickly subdued a freakin' fake Shitennou each to cover each other's running away, with Mamoru later temporarily incapacitating all of the fake Shitennou.
- Hakumen in BlazBlue was once one of the world's most powerful beings, so much so that the only being implied to be around his level still said Hakumen was the sole reason as to why they finally managed to slay the Black Beast. After he was imprisoned in the Boundrary for 90 years, the one who salvaged him could only get 20% of his existence out of there; however, 20% of Hakumen's former full power turns out to be several levels above what most characters can handle.
- In The King of Fighters XI, Villain Protagonist (well, not quite) Ash Crimson gets the jump on Iori Yagami after he succumbs to The Riot of the Blood and becomes Orochi Iori (for those not in the loop, the Sealed Evil in a Can on Orochi had been weakened in this saga), trashing his teammates Kyo Kusanagi and Shingo Yabuki. This leaves Iori without his trademark cursed purple fire. What does he decide to do? Slash the hell out of his foes with his hands. Unfortunately when this same thing happened to Chizuru Kagura in the previous game, she was hit hard by Chickification, being regulated to the sidelines and her confidence shaken. Isn't it sad, Chizuru? Thanks to a Cosmic Retcon due to a Temporal Paradox-induced Heroic Sacrifice by Ash in KOF XIII, both Iori and Chizuru regain their powers.
- According to the developers, Asura has lost most of his godly power of being sealed away for 12,000 years. Even without them, he slaughters mooks like they are nothing, can keep up and takes hits from Wyzen after growing over 60 meters tall, and when angry enough, stops Wyzen's Tennessee-sized finger in his planet sized state and punches it and Wyzen into oblivion. God damn.
- Gig in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters. Let's see, he was sealed in a sword for millions of years, lost most of his godly power, lives as a formless spirit sealed in the body of a mortal and only gives the Main Character a very small share of what's left. They are still able to destroy pretty much anything on their path. Also still considered one of the Nippon-verse big three alongside Zetta and real Zenon.
- Valvatorez in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten was originally titled the Tyrant due to his netherworld being absolutely terrifed of him. He may have been an equal to Baal. After no longer drinking blood, he was reduced to a Prinny Instructor who Zetta (official title: The Most Badass Frickin' Overlord in All the Cosmos) considers a Worthy Opponent.
- In Maple Story to the six Heroes who originally opposed and defeated the Black Mage. At the time of that battle, they were the most powerful warriors in Maple World (in game terms, they were Level 250) but after spending many centuries as Human Popsicles afterwards (due to the Villain's Dying Grace) they woke up with their skills regressed to that of Beginners, and had to start over from scratch. (And all of them had other curses placed upon them that caused them a lot of grief in the process.) Of course, when the Black Mage himself broke free of his prison, he didn't have this problem at all.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula, even when deprived of her firebending on the Day of Black Sun, she still manages to keep Toph and Sokka busy long enough for the eclipse to get over with.
- The DVD Commentary mentions a funny story behind that: she decided Mai and Ty Lee would be her friends exactly because she'd be able to learn some of their abilities, and indeed the aforementioned scene does have her using some very Ty Lee-ish moves.
- Same with Zuko—normally, he's an at-least decent firebender (he beat Zhao in an Agni Kai early on with just the basics, and his skill notably improves over the course of the series), while Ozai is The Greatest Firebender In The World. But during the eclipse, Ozai is at his mercy because Zuko is a master swordsman. Also, when Zuko had to hide his powers while traveling in the Earth Kingdom, he was still able to take on several bandits and match Jet in a fight.
- From Justice League:
- In one episode, Superman ended up in a world with a red sun (Earth), robbing him of his power, and still manages to survive, kill the leader of a pack of wolf-like animals to become their leader, and team up with Vandal Savage to take back a nuclear fusion device from a bunch of giant mutant insects.
- In an episode where the League travels back in time to World War II, Green Lantern John Stewart's power ring runs out of juice in the middle of a battlefield. He quickly recalls his Marine training and goes native with a squad of US infantrymen.
- Pharaoh Man in the Mega Man cartoon. Mega Man steals the powers of a couple of Robot Masters, and they don't do much of anything. Not Pharaoh Man. DECISIVELY not Pharaoh Man. HILARIOUSLY not Pharaoh Man.
- Hal Jordan and Kilowog in Green Lantern: The Animated Series are both quite competent fighters even without their power rings. This comes in handy in "Razer's Edge," when they are trapped on an asteroid filled with yellow crystals (which cancel out Green Lantern power rings) and ambushed a troop of alien guards.