Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass

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Vlad Plasmius: This can't be happening! You're an idiot! An idiot!

Jack Fenton: That may be, but I'm the idiot who beat you.
Danny Phantom, "The Million Dollar Ghost"

At first glance, he's The Fool. She's The Ditz. And no, it's not Obfuscating Stupidity—they're really like that.

Most of the time.

If you push the right button at the right time, things will suddenly change. The goofy smile disappears. Their eyes start glowing. An aura of energy surrounds them. Little pieces of rock start floating up from the ground. Alternately, they may simply display a sudden leap in speed, strength, martial skill and weapon use.

After the dust settles, however, they're right back to smiling goofily, tripping over their own feet, and just generally acting like the Plucky Comic Relief—while their teammates are rubbing their eyes, and trying to figure out what just happened. Often, the character doesn't actually know himself.

Basically, the individual has access to superpowers of some sort—could be psionics, could be Functional Magic or Applied Phlebotinum, could be Nanomachines—and they either don't know they have the power, or don't know how to control it. Occasionally they have a Power Limiter that they are unaware of that will seal their strength until needed.

Common triggers include a friend or loved one in danger (see Mama Bear and Papa Wolf), a Million-to-One Chance scenario, or just a "worthy cause." Sometimes, just getting 'em really, really pissed off will do the trick—although their easy-going personalities make that a rare occurrence.

The main point, however, is not the powers, but the radical change in personality that comes with them. The character may ordinarily be harmless, maybe even a Technical Pacifist, but when in Badass mode, there's no mercy.

Sometimes, this can end up as a full-blown Super-Powered Evil Side or Jekyll and Hyde scenario, if the Badass side refuses to revert. In those cases, it might turn out that the individual was once aware of his powers and abilities, but somehow 'sealed' them—consciously or otherwise—because he knew that With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.

In most other cases, the character will gradually learn to control his power—although he'll usually still need to Freak-Out a bit to use his full power—and may evolve into an Idiot Hero, or more rarely, a straight-up Messiah.

In a few cases, things will go bad. The Badass powers are required too often, and they gradually take their toll on a previously cheerful individual. Usually results in an Emo or, in the case of females, an Emotionless Girl. Invariably results in her friends wondering if Saving the World was really worth the price.

The Japanese term for this is "dame elite" ("dame" meaning no good).

If intentional, then it might be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity or Good Is Not Dumb, or perhaps even the Eccentric Mentor in cases where the character is recognised and respected as a badass by those who know him but who seems idiotic to those who don't. If the body count they rack up is also not intentional, then we're dealing with Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds

Will sometimes occur as a result of Giving the Sword to A Noob.

Please do not confuse this with Let's Get Dangerous, which is when a seemingly ditzy or harmless character also demonstrates fighting skill, but without the change in personality and may not involve powers.

Compare with Heroic Resolve. See also Minored in Asskicking, where the character acts like The Smart Guy instead of The Fool.

Contrast Weak but Skilled, Mistaken for Badass, and Leeroy Jenkins (which is essentially Crouching Badass Hidden Moron).

Check out the index for sub-types of this trope.

Examples of Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Highschool of the Dead, Kohta Hirano at first seems like a typical fat, otaku nerd, but once the zombie apocalypse happens, he's quite deadly with firearms. In fact, his knowledge of how to use guns helps save people several times through the series.
  • Keaton Taichi Hiiraga from Master Keaton. At first glance he appears to be a bumbling part time lecturer with a keen interest in archeology. But he is actually an extremely competent ex-soldier with vast networks of important people (he is friends with a British prince!). When the situation calls he can even turns random items into deadly weapons or survival kit a la MacGyver.
  • Mazinger Z: Boss is the Butt Monkey, Hopeless Suitor and Comic Relief Gonk character from this series and the sequel Great Mazinger. He is mocked and ridiculized by his friends and belittled by the villains, and he gets beaten easily in each battle. Still, when he is angry he can get scarily competent and even Badass. He is Acrofatic and perfectly capable of holding his own on a fistfight, and although his Humongous Mecha is a pile of scrap gets destroyed in every fight, he has blown up some dangerous Robeasts and pulled off several awesome Big Damn Heroes moments. Also, threatening Kouji -his vitriollic best buddy- or Sayaka -his crush- is a bad idea.
  • The Slayers anime: Gourry Gabriev is a swordsman with extremely poor memory (often forgetting whoever he and his companions fought in the past) and a bumbling idiot who can't grasp onto any explanation, but if he's provoked enough, or if anyone, namely Lina, is in danger, he becomes an utterly badass swordsman and pushes the Badass Normal creed as far as it can go.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has Jean-Pierre Polnareff, a ladies' man who's normally dumb as a bag of hammers and repeatedly has bad encounters with foreign toilets. However, when the chips are down (like with his fight against Vanilla Ice), he turns badass, accepting his death with a calmness that most would kill for.
  • In Soul Eater, Black*Star's absolute confidence in himself makes him into one of these. Unless he is truly pushed he is too busy chewing scenery to fight well. Death the Kid is a form of inversion; he's normally stoic and Badass, but if his OCD gets activated he usually devolves into an ineffectual, sobbing wreck. That said, if his OCD is pushed too far, it results in Kid's reaction in episode 3: obliterating his asymmetrical target and inadvertently demolishing the pyramid it was in.
    • The normally goofy Shinigami can be wonderfully Badass when the need arises. He reacts to Asura's resurrection by calmly inquiring how he is...and pointing out that, unfortunately the Kishin is "going to have to die again". A Shinigami Chop that smashes Asura to the ground from however high up he was is only the start of the ensuring fight.
    • Recently, Patti has been revealed to be quite the skilled fighter when not acting as a Weapon for Kid. She takes down numerous opponents in hand-to-hand combat training, and is very...enthusiastic at a firing range.
    • The Death Scythe Tezca Tlipoca initially seems clinically incapable of acting serious, and makes a fool of himself on a regular basis. Then he fakes his own death, tracks someone halfway across the world, and holds his own against one of the more powerful villains.
    • Spirit Albarn absolutely is everything he appears to be: womanizing, juvenile, and a miserable failure as both a husband and a father. It's just that he also happens to be one of the most powerful (arguably THE most powerful) Death Scythe in existence, the weapon of Lord Death himself, and one half of the DWMA's designated ass-kicking duo.
  • In Soul Eater Not!, Meme is introduced as a typical big-breasted ditz character. Then we find out that she can beat people up in her sleep.
  • Yuri in Kyo Kara Maoh! acts this way whenever his Demon King side gets activated, and although he won't kill his enemies he usually succeeds in scaring the crap out of them.
  • Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt: Brief is a nerdy wannabe ghost exterminator, a frustrated virgin, and has a crush on Panty, who doesn't reciprocate. However, in episode twelve, he manages to fend off a few ghosts on his own, and even saves Panty from Scanty and Kneesocks when she starts losing her powers.
    • Also, Chuck is the Team Pet seemingly only capable of saying his name repeatedly and getting crushed to a pulp every episode. Not only does he pull off Car Fu once in a while, in the final episode it's shown that he can go One-Winged Angel on command to turn into a monstrous Hellhound.
  • Bastard!!: A wild variation may well be Luche Len-Len, a sweet but somewhat dim child who can be "unlocked" and turned into the insanely super-powerful evil wizard Dark Schneider.
  • Best Student Council's Randou Rino. Her base persona is wet enough to drown Godzilla, but inside her (and manifested by her omni-present hand puppet) is a shrewd, intelligent, ass-kicking master of all she surveys.
  • Carrot Glace of Sorcerer Hunters is a scruffy, scrawny, lazy, largely single-minded Lovable Sex Maniac...who just happens to be not only basically immune to magic, but absorbs it to power his Involuntary Shapeshifting into various monster forms.
  • Kenshin Himura of Rurouni Kenshin fame; usually very easy-going, he reverts to a deadly (though Technical Pacifist) swordsman when lives are in danger. And if he's pushed even further than that, he loses all hint of Technical Pacifism and goes into full-on murderous "Battousai" mode.
    • This change, unlike many series where a transformation usually comes as a surprise to those who witness it, is understood by the other characters from the start, since he was a legendary and merciless assassin 15 years ago.
    • He's not The Fool, it's Obfuscating Stupidity. Most of the time.
      • It is both this trope and Obfuscating Stupidity. Kenshin truly is a bumbling idiot by nature, but his Battousai mode is completely under his control and he can activate at will or even be in it full time if he wanted. He just prefers to be his bumbling idiot self.
  • Vash the Stampede from Trigun is a glowing example of this, although there are hints that the rest of the time is just Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Dragon Ball (Z and others)
    • Many of the benevolent main characters, including Goku, Gohan, etc. have displayed this trait (though they are not technically bumbling).
    • Master Roshi. He's short, old, and is an overly lustful pervert. Yet in Dragon Ball, he easily takes out a squad of Red Ribbon soldiers that invaded his island. In the second DBZ movie "World's Strongest", he holds his own quite impressively against cybernetic monsters (naturally this doesn't last, as it's all about Goku, but you get the point).
    • The best example is Goku's great great grandson from the Dragon Ball GT movie, who didn't even know he had powers and wasn't aware of his actions while using them, as if they were a separate personality.
  • Naruto
    • When Naruto is fighting Zabuza's apprentice, Haku, Sasuke ends up getting beaten. As soon as his friend's life is threatened, Naruto's inner fox Emerges and the previously useless Naruto kicks Haku's ass. In fact, most of the Naruto cast has this, to a greater or lesser extent.
    • Kakashi especially. When he first appears he appears to be somewhat slow witted and laid back. Turns out he's one of the most elite ninja the village has and is known by many elite ninja outside of the village.
    • Don't even think about eating Chouji's last bite. Of anything. EVER! Because if you do, that nice, chubby and pretty laid back guy is gonna kick your ass. Oh, the same thing happens, when you insult his friends.
      • And don't call him fat, either. Not even his best friend can get away with that one.
    • Rock Lee...he's basically the epitome of the trope, he is a total idiot outside a fight, but can take on the "Sharingan Prodigy" (Sasuke), a Jinchuriki, and one of Orochimaru's most loyal and more powerful subordinates, even if he won against one of them, however he gave them runs for their money, he was just suffering the Worf Effect.
      • His teacher, Might Guy, is a grown-up version of Lee who is one of Konoha's best shinobi, and currently, the only one of the Konoha 12's Jounin-instructors not to have lost a fight, having recently Killed Off for Real one of the world's most powerful S-Rank missing-nin by himself.
    • Naruto just tends to be this at any time. He will be obsessed with ramen and will pull off stupid moves like a comic-relief, and he's still a genin. However, if you threaten anyone he cares about (and I mean anyone), he will show you why he is one of the most powerful ninjas in existence.
      • To be fair, he's still a genin not due to any form of stupidity, but because he spent three years training with Jiraiya in solitude while his friends were busy taking the Chunin exams.
  • Baccano! has Jacuzzi Splot, who breaks down in tears trying to introduce himself and spends three episodes running around a train, trying to find someone to tell him how to escape an Urban Legend. Then it was revealed that he once knocked over 18 Mafia-owned speakeasies in one night, by himself, armed with a single Tommy gun. And then, he did battle against a guy who was armed with a knife, a fist-gun and a flamethrower, with nothing but one cherry bomb and his own elbows, on top of a moving train. He won by throwing the other guy off the train.
  • Pokémon: In earlier seasons, Psyduck tends to be rather useless and helpless, mainly during serious battles. That is, until his opponent induces a headache, resulting in a nasty psychic experience for the unfortunate victim. Psyduck loses any memory of these events though. Secondly, Togepi is generally considered an immature, coddled infant by Misty. Sometimes, however, when it looks like Team Rocket might succeed, it uses Metronome (a move that generates a random attack). Said random attack always blows the bad guys away. No one knows that Togepi does it.
    • Except via tickle torture.
    • For that matter, Ash himself in the earlier seasons. Idiot Hero to a tee, but every once in a while he Ass Pulls something genuinely brilliant (such as the aforementioned tickle torture).
    • Cilan. Sure, he's a former Gym Leader, but he sparkles and "tastes" Pokémon. But when Cabernet shows up to wreak revenge upon him, he utterly destroys her two Pokémon in battle without any significant damage to his Pokémon. He pretty much had Pansage toy with Sawsbuck for the whole match.
    • Wobbuffet of Team Rocket. Time and again, he's proven to be as powerful as his game counterpart, if only Jessie knows how to use him properly. Most of the time, Wobbuffet is just the Plucky Comic Relief.
      • Hell, at one point he successfully held back an attack from an Articuno
  • Abel Nightroad (Crusnik 02) from Trinity Blood may be a perfect example of this trope. It's hard to tell if its just an act or not.
  • Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece.
    • Arguably, he is both at the same time, he is always super powerful, and he casually does super human feats, while acting like a moron. Which makes him incredibly badass.
    • Give credit where credit is due: there's Luffy's predecessor Shanks, captain of the Red Haired Pirates, who loves nothing more than drinking and partying with his crew. He's an easy-going guy and will even take being beaten and humiliated by a bandit with a self-deprecating laugh. But mess with people he considers friends and you better start writing your will!
    • Same goes for Admiral Kizaru.
    • I think it's reasonable to say that about half of the show's cast fits in this category. If not more.
  • Judai of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is one of those few cases where "things went bad."
  • Joey of Yu-Gi-Oh! is frequently mellow if not just plain goofy, but tends to get incredibly serious when his friends are in danger.
    • Not to mention that, in season zero, he shows moments of genius during some of the "games". Oh, and by the way, don't hurt his friends. He WILL break your face.
  • Wolfgang Grimmer from Monster is a very laid back and friendly journalist, who under pressure or menace snaps into a berserker-like state that he calls "The Magnificent Steiner", after a Hulk-like show he watched when he was a kid. Turns out that he was a victim of a combination of psychological experiments and brutal spy training during his childhood, and he is a bit of a Stepford Smiler about that.
  • Kid Muscle from Ultimate Muscle, a champion wrestler trapped in the body of an abject coward. He's also The Ditz, which doesn't help.
  • Amano Ginji of GetBackers is normally childish and goofy, and even when fighting can usually enjoy himself...unless the fight becomes a true challenge. Then he goes into "Raitei" mode, and proceeds to show everyone just how he got to be the leader of the most powerful street gang in the Limitless Fortress, and why people nicknamed "Beastmaster" and "The Prince of Battle Terror" would take orders from him.
  • Rushuna Tendou in Grenadier has a very ditzy, playful personality while being the best marksman in the known world. And did I mention all the Fan Service she's the source of?

Rushuna: YOU don't get a smile!

  • Train Heartnet of Black Cat is a fairly easygoing bounty hunter who just wants to eat and have fun...and escape his former life as the strongest of the thirteen deadliest warriors in the world. Much of the action comes from those who want Train to return to his old life.
  • The Ditz/Cloudcuckoolander Dita proves to be this when she breaks out her Determinator qualities in the first season finale of Vandread.
  • Having lived through death in his youth due to an accident, Tohno Shiki of Tsukihime appreciates life in general and tries to enjoy it as much as possible. That said, when threatened, he instinctively draws on his Nanaya abilities, which when combined with his Eyes, can turn him into a formidable opponent. He also demonstrates Heroic Resolve quite often, especially in Melty Blood.
  • When Mic Sounders XIII of GaoGaiGar was initially introduced, he was a childish, goofy robot who looked like the bastard child of a walkie-talkie and a Speak'n'Spell. However, he had an alternate mode—a rocker who could kick ass and energize teammates with the power of music. This mode was locked to ensure that the AI wouldn't abuse its power—or, more specifically, so that he wouldn't accidentally destroy the world—but came out on its own to protect Mic's friends (and in particular, the sister of the man his AI was based on). Later on, the limiter was released and Mic could change between modes at will.
  • Ranma ½'s Ryōga Hibiki and Kazuma Kuwabara of Yu Yu Hakusho are the same variant: When going up against the series protagonist, they're basically treated as buttmonkeys. But give them another opponent, and they can unleash a stunning amount of whoopass.
    • Ryōga at least is the main character's rival, and as such has to be just slightly weaker than him. Being slightly weaker than the main character pretty much requires that he be stronger than everyone else, he is portrayed as enormously strong and makes the Made of Iron characters look to be Made of Plasticine. Of course, Ryōga IS a bit of an idiot and a rather nice guy when not being overly paranoid, so this might still qualify.
      • It is generally thought by fans that Ryōga is physically stronger than Ranma (though the manga does not explicitly show this, it is possible that Ranma just has better control of his strength than Ryoga does), however Ranma is faster, better trained, and better at working out how to overcome any given opponent.
    • Also from Ranma ½, Ranma's father Genma is usually portrayed as bumbling, lazy, cowardly, selfish, petty...you get the idea. However, he's one of the highest-level martial artists in the series, can still hand Ranma his ass in serious combat (that is, outside comedic, slapstick Megaton Punches,) and devised two particular styles, the Yamasenken and Umisenken, that are unusually deadly for the Ranma ½' universe. Even the other characters were shocked with disbelief at discovering that the lazy slob had created such powerful schools.
    • Happosai also qualifies. Most of the time he's just a Jerkass Dirty Old Man who makes life miserable for everyone by his petty acts. However, he is also the most powerful character in the series capable of defeating both Ranma and Cologne with ease. Fortunately, he rarely gets really dangerous, and can be quickly distracted and taken out by throwing womens underwear in his direction.
  • Probably the biggest Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass ever, Tsuna Sawada of Katekyo Hitman Reborn. He kicks ultimate ass when in Dying Will Mode.
    • Given the series' comedy origins, a lot of the characters have an element of this, especially Takeshi Yamamoto and Ryohei Sasagawa.
    • Also Lambo. Idiot as a kid, still an idiot TYL but badass 20YL.
    • Dino as well. He is extremely clumsy, unless he is around his subordinates.
    • And as of the most recent story arc Iemitsu, you know Tsuna's father showed us just how big of a hidden badass he is by using dying-will flames to KO Tsuna and canceling Tsuna's powered-up Dying Will Mode with one punch
  • Hohenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist, although it might partly be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity. You can abuse him all you want if you're a certain Edward Elric, but just don't touch his kids, okay? In the anime, he also has a very shady past involving mass murders and the quest for immortality.
    • Aside from Hawkeye, Mustang's unit appears to be comprised almost entirely of either idiots or wusses. At least until the chips are down, especially in the manga and in Brotherhood. Then they demonstrate just why a man looking to change the country would have handpicked them for his central unit and closest bodyguards.
    • And then of course we have Maes Hughes, who is usually a ditz who obsesses over his family at every possible moment, until we find out that he's really a Badass Knife Nut who has Obfuscating Stupidity and figures stuff out way before anyone else.
      • Like, maybe the entire plotline for the second half of the series? About twenty episodes before there's even a clue? Of, course, this is also an example of Too Cool to Live, because, well, he's Too Cool to Live.
    • Ling Yao is introduced as a Funny Foreigner who constantly collapses in the streets out of hunger, weasels his way into getting a free meal, jokes around, and sends his bodyguards to do his fighting while he runs away. It isn't too long before the audience learns he's an excellent fighter himself, has strong beliefs, and is very driven by his goals. Of course, very early on there were hints that there was much more to him that meets the eye, particularly due to any time he opened his often shut eyes.
  • Nyu/Lucy in Elfen Lied has this in the form of a Split Personality, triggered through trauma or imminent danger. Nyu is cute, affectionate, and utterly harmless—but Lucy hates all of humanity and cuts people in half with her mind, {{[[[What the Hell, Hero?]] no matter if those people were just innocent civilians}}.
  • Teletha Testarossa, a Genius Ditz teenage commander from Full Metal Panic!, despite usually being clumsy and tripping over her own feet, when her subordinates are put in danger, can even recapture a submarine from a freak terrorist group. Also, her claims about not be able to use guns, turn out to be false at these moments.
    • As a humorous example, she's capable of holding her breath underwater longer than her bodyguard Sōsuke realizes, considering her below-average performance in other athletic areas. She has to rescue him from drowning (and tries to smuggle in a Kiss of Life under Kaname's jealous eye) when he panics and dives in after her.
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion has an unique ability to go berserk in his Humongous Mecha when having received enough mental pain. He transforms then into an enemy-killing war machine, famous all over the universe. When taken out from his mecha, he is usually just a sobbing, depressed wreck of a boy.
    • Though really how much of this is actually Shinji and how much is the Eva itself taking over is somewhat debatable. Certainly the most badass moments (such as Shinji's first battle) are all Yui-sama.
    • I think diving in magma in an unprotected Eva or knifing an Angel with guts torn open still qualifies him - no Yui-sama there.
    • What? No taking on Zeruel siglehandly and almost winning, even with only one arm? He was only stopped that time because the power went down. Besides, if At-Fields are true to series cannon, they are generated from the pilots (or dummy plugs). Guess what makes berserk EVA 01 undamageable.
    • Misato Katsuragi qualifies, as well. At home, she's a slovenly Bottle Fairy, but on the job, she's an extremely daring and competent strategist.
  • Bleach Orihime is an unaggressive Cloudcuckoolander, but when someone she cares about is seriously threatened and no one else can do the job she uses her powers to scarily strong effect. A good example occurs when she and Ishida have first entered Soul Society. They decide to blend in and disguise themselves as shinigami. Ishida is just about to come up with a plan when Orihime simply dives out of hiding, beats up two shinigami with her black belt-level karate skills and promptly reverts right back to passive Cloudcuckoolander mode, leaving Ishida in a state of shock over what he'd just witnessed.
    • The vast majority of the time, Nel is a weird, annoying, and frankly stupid toddler. However, when Nnoitra almost kills ichigo, she reveals herself as the former 3rd Espada, and turns the tables on the situation in seconds. She reverts back to her daft personality when the fight is over and eventually even ends up back in child-form.
    • This also applies for Nel's friends (and fraccion) Pesche and Dondochakka. They act ridiculous most of the time, but when Nel needs their help they nearly defeat the 8th Espada to reach her. Szayel admits they would have succeeded if they had fought him seriously from the beginning.
    • Wonderweiss Margera is a Cloudcuckoolander at very best. Then he's revealed as being capable of rescuing the top three espada from their captain opponents and even Aizen from Yamamoto's prison and so completely outspeeding Ukitake he one-hits him before then being revealed as the one thing capable of sealing the strongest zanpakutou in existence, Yamamoto's sword.
    • Isshin is the Bumbling Dad for most of the first half of the series. Then we learn he's a captain-class shinigami when he kills Arrancar Grand Fisher in one blow, to avenge his long dead wife.
    • Urahara was introduced in this manner. A sweet-shop owner who had weird knowledge of spiritual things, a bizarre sense of humour and who appeared to be a Cloudcuckoolander at best and an Eccentric Mentor who favoured Training from Hell at worst. Then it's revealed that he used to be a captain of the Gotei 13, is one of Soul Society's greatest (and most notorious) scientists, and is someone even the Big Bad is (usually) wary of due to the fact he's the only one who's acknowledged as being more intelligent than said Big Bad.
  • The Mega Man Zero/Rockman Zero manga, in a complete change from the actual games, makes Zero a character of this sort. In his normal state, he's a coward with no memory of his past as a hero. Hit the right trigger, however, and the legendary hero returns, with his signature helmet and insane combat prowess. The manga actually calls this version Rockman Zero -- which is just the name of the game series, not the character.
  • Shiro from Deadman Wonderland initially appears to be an unpowered albino Starfire...until she's cornered by a bunch of dangerous guards in a watchtower. The tower explodes, and she rends the guards into many small parts.
    • Which makes sense when Shiro turns out to be the one and only, Wretched Egg
  • Shinkuro from Kure-nai. For 11 episodes he leaves the viewer wondering how on Earth he could have possibly been trained by a family of ex-assassins, who even gave him a sword-like blade placed into his arm; he was tough, but showed no real fighting skill. Then comes the finale, where he suddenly uses insane skills to obliterate the enemy, afterwards revealing that he had never even used his trained abilities because he "regretted having the weapon placed inside him too much." After taking out one of the big bads in under a second with it. Which was awesome.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico has Yurika Misumaru who is, ninety percent of the time, a hopelessly naive, ditzy Love Freak with some serious denial issues Put her at the command of a battleship however, and she's a fleet-destroying tactical mastermind...sometimes. Then there's her boyfriend, who's pretty much Shinji (above) except on the appropriate medication.
  • Nathan Mahler from Blood+ seems like a putz at first. He spends the vast majority of his time flirting with his comrades and doesn't seem overly concerned about anything (plus, the fact that he dresses like a fashionatta and talks in a stereotypically homosexual voice doesn't help). Then, out of nowhere, he pulls out his scary voice, which can shatter glass and stop twelve foot bat monsters in their tracks. From then on he proceeds to establish himself as one of the show's most formidable bad guys (to the point where even The Dragon/The Man Behind the Man is afraid of him).
    • And he's the only one still standing after Saya rips him in two...
  • The main character of Hades Project Zeorymer, Masato, is mostly just an angsty teenage boy, who's still trying to wrap his head around how he went from being an Ordinary High School Student to piloting a Humongous Mecha. He doesn't want to hurt anybody, not even his enemies—after all, they're still people—and he DEFINITELY doesn't want any innocent bystanders getting hurt. However, when he's actually attacked...he starts grinning like a loon, wielding his mecha like it's an extension of his body, trouncing the opposition without mercy, ignoring "Collateral Damage" completely, and just generally enjoying being the pilot of a walking WMD.

Miku: Masato, we have to lead them towards the forest! Too many civilians are getting hurt!
Masato: To hell with them! Let THEM worry about the civvies and trip themselves up!

  • Highly similar to Takashi Kawamura from The Prince of Tennis, is Ippo Makunouchi from Hajime no Ippo. Generally, he's a shy, awkward, overly-polite mama's boy...but once he steps into the boxing-ring, he becomes an intense and unstoppable fighter with a Dynamite Punch that can shatter bones, and an invincible stamina that allows him to keep coming back no matter how many times he's knocked down. It's not uncommon for people who've seen him in the ring, to completely fail to recognize him outside of it. Several times, this has worked to his advantage, since any opponent who've met him outside the ring is bound to underestimate the level of brutality he can unleash inside of it.
  • Goku from Saiyuki can turn from kid who only thinks about food and fighting to a rampaging, unstoppable demon when his limiter is broken. Usually breaks if Sanzo is in trouble. Basically, he's Ginji Amano but Really Seven Hundred Years Old.
    • It's also been revealed by new sidestory series Ibun that Sanzo's master Koumyou Sanzo was considered a big-time Cloudcuckoolander as a novice. The only reason people are less likely to think this when he is older is because he's immediately recognizable as a Sanzo priest and has TWO scriptures, which is sorta a declaration of badass, and Zen koans are pretty out-there to begin with "so maybe he's just THAT Enlightened that we can't understand a thing he's saying". Ukoku says flat-out at one point that he can't tell if Koumyou is a genius or a complete moron (Koumyou replies "I get that a lot.") His disciple Kouryuu (aka, the MAIN CHARACTER) seems to have made his goal in life to curb the moron tendencies. Until his goal in life becomes avenging his master's death, but that's another story (the main one).
  • In World Destruction (which is also a video game and manga), Kyrie is utterly hopeless and useless male protagonist, who pretty much ends up doing nothing useful for almost the entire series. Then, in one magical moment, he activates his Destruct Code powers and begins disintegrating everyone into sand. Oh, and he can fly.
  • Matsuda of Death Note. Conflicted and indecisive about Kira from the start, this aspect as well as his impulsiveness and absentmindedness are played up for comic relief. Determined to prove he isn't dead weight on the investigation team, he often acts on impulse and gets himself into hilariously sticky situations. Having been blessed with dumb luck, he manages to escape them unharmed aside from being a witness to everything else going wrong around him. His impulsiveness is finally not funny in the finale of the series, and ends up shooting Light five times after finding out he's Kira.
    • Also Ryuk. For all his lovable goofball portrayal, we get a reminder of his status as a Death God at the end of the series, when he murders Light without a second thought for having used up his entertainment value.
  • Pai in Three By Three Eyes is The Ditz until things get messy, then her third eye on her forehead opens and her other personality, a magic wielding Badass comes out. In episode 4, though we learn she's not the ditz we thought she was.
  • Gintoki from Gintama also qualifies. Most of the time, he is a useless lazy bum. However, little do others know that he used to be a fierce warrior capable of knocking out the entire fleet of Amanto in a blink of an eye and still can do so if the people important to him are in danger.
    • Gintoki is especially Badass in the serious story arcs, battling everything from alien space pirates, a crazed swordsman possessed by a demonic sword, and an alien crime lord from one of the strongest races in the galaxy, just to name a few.
    • Katsura from the same series is similar. Although he now spends more time making a fool out of himself by taking himself too seriously and frequently appearing in public with terrible disguises, he had once been a formidable warrior who kicked major ass when he fought alongside Gintoki, Takasugi, and Sakamoto during the failed uprising against the Amanto aliens. He becomes a complete Badass when it becomes necessary to protect someone that he cares about, as seen when he (in an awesome Big Damn Heroes entrance) saves Ikumatsu (a woman who owns a noodle shop and sheltered him when the police were after him earlier) from being kidnapped by charging through a police blockade on a scooter and taking out her kidnappers using bowls of fried rice, all the while a policeman is shooting at him with a bazooka. In the Benizakura Arc, he specifically says that he is fighting against former schoolmate and brother-in-arms Takasugi and Takasugi's allies because there are too many people whom he cares about in Edo to let the villains carry out their plot.
    • Pretty much every main character in Gintama qualifies for this.
  • Very, and I mean VERY sparingly, something (usually a personal matter) might cause Kogoro of Detective Conan to actually focus all his attention on a case, revealing him to actually be a very capable detective on his own. Meaning, he'll solve the case and kick the perp's ass if he needs to. He's also apparently a good marksman. Granted, since this happens like thrice or so in fifty volumes, it's very easy to forget.
  • Kinnikuman and his son, Kinniku Mantaro, are both prime examples of this type of hero.
  • Yukiteru, the main character in Mirai Nikki, may behave like a diary-writing bystander most of the time, but when both of his parents are killed in close succession and the assailants surround him, crap hits the fan.
  • On the Kinda Sorta Maybe Hero side (a.k.a. Gundam Wing), there's Une. Her Alter Ego is even more of a pacifist and stooge of Oz (and her military side) than "Queen" Relena turned out to be, despite being a good enough arguer to seriously talk down the most distrusting of souls. As for the Oz side of Une, this is the woman who cold-bloodedly assassinated Relena's foster father (Ambassador Dorlian) and pushed a no longer useful tool of a man out the back of an airplane, shooting him as he fell. It's no wonder she was semi-suicidal on the integration of those personas, the death of Trieze aside.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima:
    • The Baka Rangers are probably some of the biggest Badasses in the story, but while they're Book Dumb, the only one that really fits this trope is Badass Normal Makie Sasaki, who can pull off impossible feats with a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon and also somehow managed to maintain some subconscious memory of being under Evangeline's control. The main Ditz of the staring True Companions is incredibly powerful, but doesn't qualify due to being The Medic.
    • Jack Rakan, though he is always badass. I pity the poor fool who thinks that they can outsmart him easily.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • North Italy has a moment of this when he fights Turkey. It hasn't really happened since then, though.
    • South Italy also has one of these moments when he beats his Mafia up while trying to help Spain.
      • America in the movie fight scene-the man has skills.
        • Which is great and awesome to see but is nothing less than we might have expected of him, considering he lifted and (spun around) a buffaloo already when he was a kid. He later grows up to drag England's car behind himself just to ask England if he can borrow said car, and that might still be before he is explicitly stated to have begun actually WORKING OUT, with his strength then reaching "over nine thousand" instead of "up to eleven" levels.
  • Nina of Ultra Maniac. In the manga, her cat Leo is attacked by Sayaka and she blasts a huge hole in the ceiling of the gym with her magic.
  • In Galaxy Angel, Colonel Volcott O. Huey is a usually even-tempered and complacent commander who takes the brunt of much of the show's comic relief slapstick. But tell him his mustache doesn't suit him, and he'll revert to his combat days as the "White Wolf" and proceed to destroy everything in his path to defend his mustache's honor.
  • Yoh Asakura from Shaman King. He pretty much sits around in his pot leaf t-shirt fondling oranges and listening to Bob CDs but then turns into a badass when people threaten people he wants to protect.
    • Lyserg Diethiel to an extent too except it's more of a case of crouching emo hidden badass. Most of the time he's just a little whiner who sits around saying how he needs strong friends but he actually owns a few people in battle.
    • Chocolove and Horo Horo, for goodness sake. Although Horo Horo proved his own during the fight with Yoh in the beginning of Shaman Fight, he ends up as the Butt Monkey for a good long time, even as the weakest member of Team Ren. That's until in the manga we learn about his past, his real name and the Ainu meaning to it, and the true identity of his adorable Koropokuru - Damako, his childhood sweetheart who essentially froze to death because of him. Chocholove is aiming to become the world's greatest comedian, despite the lameness of his jokes, and it's not until later we learn why exactly he does. (He used to be the leader of a murderous gang who's parents were killed by a burglar on Christmas Day, and had to witness his teacher killed by the gang members he had left in order to hone his shaman powers. Of course, it turns out that he and his gang members had made peace and they had followed him to the Shaman Fight later.) THEN we find out about his connection with the Golem kids...and they send him temporarily to hell, and more.
    • Asakura Mikihisa. He's the goofball dad who just wears a wooden mask and comes from a family of traditional Japanese shamans. Who is also the biological father of Yoh and the current incarnation of Hao. Who also sometimes shows up only in his underwear and gets frequently called a "Pervert" or "Freak", enjoys climbing mountains for training and is apparently handy with a barbecue set. And then the the Hana-gumi tried to kill the Golem kids he was playing guardian for.
  • Usagi from Sailor Moon. She spends a good portion of the anime bitching about how she doesn't want to be Sailor Moon and shrieking at the top of her lungs whenever confronted with a problem. And acting incredibly stupid. But in the end she still beats Queen Beryl and protects Earth!

Usagi: Surely at this rate, I would've already said "I can't do this! I'm scared! I'm sleepy!" (sigh, smiles sadly) How odd. I said it as if I really meant it.

  • Gate Keepers had that woman whose only job is to provide fanservice. Then she pulls out her bazooka in the final episode.
  • Queen Horn of Violinist of Hameln usually acts like a ditzy Cloudcuckoolander, but when she gets serious, she gets DEAD serious.
  • A mild example is Holi in Transformers Victory. In the first few episodes, he's portrayed as naive and childlike, but when the rest of the Rescue Patrol Team arrives, he turns out to be a very competent commander in his own right.
  • Kukubara from Defense Devil. Normally portrayed as a complete idiot who couldn't hurt a fly if he wanted, he unleashes his true powers upon proving his client's innocence and generally kills whoever his opponent is in a single attack. Admittedly, it is later mentioned that he was once one of the most powerful Devils in their world - but was kicked out for being too kind to innocent people instead of simply dragging them to Hell. His sidekick, Bichiura, is another example of this.
  • Apachai of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is normally a Friend to All Living Things, as well as being The Ditz. He's also known as the "Death God of Muay Thai", and for good reason. He will kill you if you start a fight with him. He accidentally nearly kills Kenichi on multiple occasions during sparring exercises because he never holds back.
  • Ruby from the Pokémon Special manga, though it may cross to Obfuscating Stupidity. He has an extreme obsession with Contests and beauty, not to mention he cries like a little girl whenever he gets a little dirty. However, if he's forced into a battle or nobody's watching, he turns out to be an extremely skilled battler. The interesting thing is that he used to be full time badass as a child, but he forced it down to become an active moron due to traumatizing events. He somewhat got over his issues by the time the Emerald arc comes around and is now a (somewhat) healthy mix between moron and badass.
  • In Zero no Tsukaima, Louise the Zero is an utter failure at magic. She is unable to use any element of magic and has never successfully cast a spell (all attempts have been disastrous). Later in the first series it is revealed that she's not as incompetent as previously thought, and in fact has the exclusive ability to use the most powerful element of magic of them all: Void magic.
    • Well, she's still incompetent. I don't think having Void magic makes it so you can't use the others. She still sucks at those, and her Void magic doesn't always work, either.
      • Actually in the novels it is explained that Void magic makes using other spells hard until you cast a Void spell for the first time, Louise is even shown using several common spells such as 'lock' on a few occasions with no problems.
      • And her Void magic depends on her willpower; sure since she has quite the inferiority complex that means she can screw it up quite easily, but that doesn't mean she can't do pretty badass things when she has to; like in Volume 11 of the novels where after receiving the proper 'motivation' thanks to Tabitha She destroyed a giant gollem that absorbed magic by overloading with just one explosion spell.
  • Patrick Colasour from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (in the later part of Season 2).
  • In Black Butler all of the Phantomhive's house staff. We have Lethal Chef Bardroy, clumsy Meganekko Maylene, and the optimistic overall sweet Finnian...who will not hesitate to kick your ass if you dare threaten to harm his master. Maylene's not afraid to snipe you down, either, and Bard will simply grab his Gatling gun (or some flour and a match). Tanaka might be Badass, too, but it's hard to say if it was implied that he killed the man outside Elizabeth's room or if Maylene shot him.
    • Oh, he's definitely Badass. When Ciel's attacked in the current 'closed room murder mystery' arc, Tanaka appears out of nowhere to slam the guy into the ground without breaking a sweat.
    • And as of the latest story arc, Lizzy and Undertaker - two morons who have been around since Volume one - have proven themselves to be complete badasses given the right conditions.. So as a warning, never threaten Ciel's life in front of Lizzy nor attempt to kill a person who has made Undertaker laugh for five consecutive pages or they will rip you a new one while Ciel and Sebastian watch in Stunned Silence.
  • Kaien Cross from Vampire Knight.
  • Age in Heroic Age is ordinarily a curious and kindhearted boy who really wants nothing more than to just be friends with anyone, but when the time comes for him to go into battle on behalf of the Iron Tribe (humans), and especially the Argonaut, he is truly a force to be reckoned with.
  • Joe from Viewtiful Joe is a selfish, idiotic and lazy slacker, but whenever Silvia or Junior are in danger, he kicks some serious ass.
  • Tadao Yokoshima from Ghost Sweeper Mikami is usually best described as "lust-addled". However, if someone he has the hots for...er...he cares about is in trouble (read: Mikami, Okinu, and/or Luciola), his spiritual powers go into overdrive, and he becomes surprisingly cunning with his latter-half-of-the-manga monju. Of course, it helps that his spiritual powers are quite literally lust-fueled...
  • Roberta from Black Lagoon isn't very good at being a housemaid, but when her young master is kidnapped, she travels halfway around the world to find him, putting bullets into anyone foolish enough to stand in her way. Seems she was a revolutionary known as "The Hunting Dog of Floencia" before going into hiding as a housekeeper.
    • And then we have her protégé...
    • Also in the same vein, any junkie or bartender who is still alive in Roanapur. There is a reason why they can be as high as a kite or sell mind-altering substances and still survive...
  • Fai D. Flourite from Tsubasa Chronicle. Comes off as a total, overjoyful, optimistic and somewhat annoying idiot. Seemingly useless without magic. However, when a battle arises and the kids are in danger, he has shown that he has great physical skills and staff skills. Though, sometimes that goofy air is about him in battle, just to piss off Kurogane. Bad ass none the less.
    • I find Fai to be more Obfuscating Stupidity, as he's not really an idiot, he just plays one. He's repeatedly shown to be incredibly insightful, such as when it is revealed that he knew Syaoran wasn't human all along as well as recognizing that Yuuko was on a separate plane when he and the the other three first met her at the shop. He's also very good at lying and manipulating people, to the point where he was a double agent for most of the series and only Yuuko knew it. Playing the fool simply prevents awkward questions about his past from being asked, shielding his competency from unneeded scrutiny. Also, it annoys the hell out of Kurogane.
  • Fairy Tail gives us Natsu, The Hero with a Weaksauce Weakness in motion sickness.
    • Also Lucy to certain extent.
  • In Demon Diary, Raenef Demon-Lord-in-training is a hopeless idiot who can't remember his lessons and is scared of his own magic. But if you get him scared, angry or upset you will suddenly realise that there is a very very good reason why he's the successor of one of the most powerful demon lords who ever existed. Same goes for Chris. He's an egocentric idiot who can't remember an incantation. However, he draws his powers from a god.
  • Any of the main characters of the manga Category Freaks. They may lay around, be lazy, be klutzes, be sex-crazed, have issues with self-esteem, or have the mind of a child...but don't piss any of them off. If you get entangled with just one, you'll probably end up dead. You don't want to see what will happen when you get the entire group involved.
  • Diebuster: Nono is happy, friendly and goofy most of the time. When she "stops" being happy, friendly and goofy, property values on Titan start falling in a hurry.
  • Mikado Ryugamine of Durarara!! is a shy and meek Naive Newcomer who gets overshadowed by his Keet best friend. He spends the first several episodes poking around and asking questions about the Dollars, a large and mysterious gang in the area. But when push comes to shove, Mikado reveals that he's got a few secrets up his sleeve: namely, that he is the leader of the Dollars.
    • Kida Masaomi and Sonohara Anri also counts. Kida's the playboy who simply knows his way around Ikebukuro - and it's most eccentric inhabitants - really, really well. Anri's the quiet Meganekko who has a nice rack and is the victim of sexual harassment by a teacher, who is worried about a missing "friend". It turns out that Kida is the founder and former leader of the Koukinzoku, until it got too violent for him, and Anri is the true user of the Demon Sword Saika.
    • Shizuo Heiwajima is also a case. Most people's first impression he's a thin, quiet, unassuming young man whose only noticeable quirk appears to be the inexplicable tendency to dress, as noted by some, "like some kind of nineteenth-century nightclub pimp." This impression typically lasts all of five minutes before some tiny nitpick sets him off and he demonstrates just why he's known as Ikebukuro's God of Destruction.
    • Walker Yumasaki and Erika Kurosawa. A couple of wacky, out-of-touch-with-reality fun loving otakus, who spend their days making doujinshi and cosplay and visiting conventions. They are both psychotic Torture Technicians infamous for their extremely creative (and unbelievably horrible) manga themed practices, and when they want to be, they can be badass heroes all on their own. With molotov cocktails. Other then that, they really are possibly the two friendliest guys you are likely to meet in the crazy hellhole that is Naritaverse Ikebukuro.
  • Played around with in Samurai Deeper Kyo. Kyoshiro seems to have this going on, being a kindly Lovable Coward and perverted medicine seller with Kyo as a Super-Powered Evil Side that comes out when he's forced to draw his sword. However, this gets subverted when fairly early in the manga, Kyo takes over full time. There is an even greater subversion later namely, that Kyo and Kyoshiro actually are two separate people and while Kyo has killed plenty of people, the whole "killing a thousand people" reputation was something Kyoshiro did, and his bumbling was really Obfuscating Stupidity.
    • While Benitora really IS a idiot who is head over heels for Yuya. He doesn't really want to become the Shogun like his Dad wants him to. (Yukimura is probably more Obfuscating Stupidity than this trope, though.)
    • Bontenmaru is a Boisterous Bruiser and only came to the Forest because he heard that a group of Hot Amazons had gone to defeat Nobunaga. What he found disappointed him greatly, except for Okuni. Then again, he IS the famed Dokuganryuu AND a former member of the Shiseiten...
    • Really, all of the Shiseiten fits this trope - except probably Akira.
  • The entire premise of Rune Soldier. The better part of the show is about priestess Melissa who has been given a mission by her god to support apprentice mage Louie to become a "Valiant Champion", for which he seems to be completely unfit. Instead of using his magic in combat, he rather punches monster in the face with his fists and when told to use his magic wand, he breaks it by whacking it over a monsters head. But with Melissa's guidance and combat training by Genie, he becomes a much better fighter and shows to be a genuinely good person who never gives up helping people in need.
  • Remember Touka from Saki? You know, the comic relief, Butt Monkey, Unknown Rival of Nodoka whose great moment in the tournament involved her getting her butt kicked by practically everyone in her table? Well, the manga chapters set after the Prefecture finals reveal that when she's surrounded by powerful enemies, the normal Touka sort of...goes to sleep, and a personality dubbed "Cold Touka" by Hajime takes over. During the training camp, this Touka joins a table comprised of Saki, Koromo, and Fujita "Pro". She then proceeds to curb stomp them. Repeatedly.
  • Badou Nails from DOGS Bullets and Carnage is a textbook example of this trope. He's an idiot, he's a coward, he'd rather run like hell from you than actually stand up to you...until you take his cigarettes away. At that point the MAC-10s come out and your best course of action is to get the hell out of range, and fast.
  • Kaiji: in the series of the same name. In the first episode he's so paranoid that he reveals that he committed a crime the affected didn't even suspected him from, in the second episode he gets raped in the ass and even needed someone to explain to him what happened, midway through the series he's betrayed (twice) by a fat asshole, but then he gets into serious mode and gets revenge on everyone, he once went as far as to cut off his own ear to fool his opponent into believing that he was calm because He had device that monitored his cardiac rhythm which gave info to said opponent and thus making wrong decisions which led into his victory Then he returns to retard mode and loses everything.
  • In the manhwa Dorothy of Oz, Abee at first appears to be a perfectly harmless amnesiac who hilariously mixes up his words in the most awkward way possible. He also happens to be an incredibly powerful telekinetic, and will not hesitate to throw someone off a cliff for threatening his best friend.
  • Rio from Spiral is a cutesy Dojikko who loves melons and cute things, but is scared of thunder. Cross her, however, and she'll reveal her true self, as one of the 'Blade Children' - a ruthless, calculating murderess with a degree in Magnificent Bastardry. Indeed, it initially seems like her Cute Clumsy Girl personality is just Obfuscating Stupidity, but she still acts the same way when alone, or hanging around her fellow Blade Children...
  • Hayate the Combat Butler:
    • While not as Badass as some, Fumi has proven herself to be extremely capable in certain subjects, her first appearance has her doing a complicated math problem in her head, but nearly overshadows Isumi when it comes to Cloudcuckoolander status in other departments. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like she'd be a badass Student Council President—yet.
    • Isumi is also a Cloudcuckoolander, plus she has No Sense of Direction, but give her a demon to clean up, and she's one of the most powerful spiritual fighters in generations and is actually called out by a chapter title and a powerful character herself to possibly be the most powerful character in the story.
  • Sakura Kinomoto/Avalon of Cardcaptor Sakura is a blissfully naive cutie, often acting rather childish and extremely oblivious to the obvious (most notably to the extreme infatuation she receives from both of her best friends), however she is often proved to be highly resourceful and formidable in the use of the Clow Cards.
  • Keroro from Keroro Gunsou. He may act like an idiot most of the time but God help you if you touch his Gundam...
    • Or if his surrounding air is hydrated as strong as on his home planet, which is how he got to be General in the first place: heartlessness and efficient. But then the Nyoro creatures come from the sky to suck him dry, cancelling out his effectiveness.
  • The anime version of Virtua Fighter's Akira Yuki is an Idiot Hero who can't stop eating. Whenever the situation is going out of control, though, he equips his gi and turns himself into a serious fighter until his enemies are defeated, sometimes so far that it reflects his original persona in the game.
  • In Happy Yarou Wedding, Akira is generally a goofy Dirty Old Man with occasional Crazy Jealous Guy moments, but the reason his father gave up interfering with him at all is because he firmly believes Akira would try to either kill or utterly ruin him and his company if he did.
  • Various installments of Pretty Cure tend to have someone like this, including Nozomi Yumehara of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 and Yes! Pretty Cure 5, and Love Momozomo of Fresh Pretty Cure.
  • Shigure of Fruits Basket comes across as a goofy Chivalrous Pervert, but in reality he's a Magnificent Bastard and The Chessmaster behind the entire plot.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Sheemie in the Dark Tower prequel comics is the village idiot who gains incredible psychic powers and rescues the lost Gunslinger princes.
  • Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese is a pitch-perfect example. Superficially he appears to be a clueless Funny Foreigner, encapsulating every negative Chinese stereotype available in broken Engrish. But when Danny attacks him for being an embarrassment, Chin-Kee turns into an unstoppable martial arts Badass. Justified in that he's secretly the Monkey King, Great Sage Equal of Heaven).
  • Larfleeze, the wielder of the orange light in the Green Lantern universe. Most of the time, he comes off as completely insane, with a Gollum-like drive to own everything and a tendency to talk to himself. At one point, Sinestro and Red Lantern Atrocitus get so annoyed by him they suggest just killing him and taking along whoever his ring goes to next. Despite his Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, however, he's incredibly powerful, as his light represents avarice, and is at its most potent when wielded by one lone ringslinger. In terms of sheer raw power, he's probably the strongest Lantern as his ring is capable of charging to 100,000 percent energy- in comparison, Hal Jordan's maxes out around 210% under certain circumstances, and it's explained any more might blow up the ring and take his hand with it. Insane? Yes. Take him lightly, though, and you're dead.
    • All those Orange Lantern constructs he has hanging around? Those are beings he's killed and stolen their identities.
  • Rasputin in the Corto Maltese series. He's a Foil to the title character and a Heroic Sociopath sidekick. Totally unpredictable, too.
  • Squirrel Girl, hands down. Cute. Fuzzy. Talks to squirrels. Lips taste like hazelnuts. Defeated Doctor Doom, The Mandarin, Giganto, MODOK, Thanos, Terrax, Bug-Eyed Voice, Bi-Beast, Deadpool, Pluto, Fin Fang Foom, Baron Mordo, Korvac, and Ego the Living Planet...
    • Somewhat related is the Fabulous Frog-Man. Fat, clumsy, untrained, and with no idea what he's doing, he's proven time and again capable of taking on the most nefarious villains and coming out on top. Usually by virtue of sheer luck or coincidence, but he often exhibits the bravery necessary to charge at baddies who give Captain America (comics) pause nonetheless.
  • The entire population of Metropolis is pretty much this trope. Of course, when you've Seen It All the way they have, it's taken for granted that you should look both ways for invading nuclear fission-powered nazi clone armies before crossing the street, and be handy with a crowbar so you don't have to bother that good ol' boy Superman with all your problems. Isn't it YOUR turn to give back to the community?
  • Plastic Man has been largely considered this due to the non-serious nature of most of his appearances. One must not forget that he is a trained CIA operative, can go toe-to-toe with many other big names in the DCAU (he can take punches from SUPERMAN without so much as batting an eye!) and survived dismemberment for thousands of years.
  • Scott Pilgrim. Face it, you too though he was just a 23 year old hipster video gamer slacker without any shame or glory, hanging onto his gay roommate to pay for everything, and just being a bad bass player on a semi crappy band. Then, the first evil ex of Ramona came, and we learned that not only is he capable of fighting, he's the best fighter in the province. Dumb and with a little of OCD, yeah, but don't mess with his girlfriend or his friends.
  • Monchito from Negation. Most of the time he does little more than eat a lot and get underfoot, but in a highly stressful fight scene late in the series, he hulks out and gets uber-powerful for a brief moment, clobbering one of the bad guys and expending all his power in one blow before reverting to normal. Even the bad guys were shocked.
  • Deadpool sometimes slips into this, Depending on the Writer. His Cloudcuckoolander tendencies and ability to both shake off bodily harm and make a joke of it tend to obscure the fact that he is an immortal, unstoppable, superhuman killing-machine with a penchant for inventively torturing and/or brutally slaughtering anyone who manages to get on his bad side.


Fan Fics[edit | hide]


Film -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • The Incredibles: Jack-Jack (not a moron, but a baby) demonstrates a startling array of powers (which, by most reckonings, are probably more Badass than those of the rest of the cast) when threatened by the Big Bad, Syndrome.
    • Or the babysitter. In the fairly amusing short packaged with the DVD of The Incredibles, Jack Jack Attack, Jack-Jack reduces the babysitter to a stress-overloaded wreck by spontaneously generating anti-gravity powers, teleportation, the ability to shoot Eye Beams, and Human-Torch-esque flame powers. Since the whole The Incredibles seems to be a Homage to The Fantastic Four, he might be a sly reference to the fifth Fantastic: Franklin. The writers, for their part, note that the reason they gave him so many powers he flips through like he's channel surfing is because he's a baby: he hasn't defined himself yet. What this means for the world of The Incredibles as far as power development goes...
  • The CGI movie The Magic Roundabout, in which the affable stoner rabbit, Dylan, suddenly snaps and opens up a can of Whup Ass.
  • Pumbaa from the The Lion King. Just look at him go bowling for hyenas. And don't call him a pig or he will go pork-chop on your ass!!
  • An American Tail 2: The only nice cat, who gets repeatedly pushed around, abused, and chased (either by dogs, native american mice, or even dog fish!) all the way to the American west, takes a level in badass when he gets trained by a reluctant aged, canine gunslinger. When he sees his love in danger, he goes into a literal barking rage and takes down almost the entire Big Bad's cat mook army.
  • Po from Kung Fu Panda. While not totally inept, he's a bumbler and a daydreamer. After some focus and hardcore training, however, he not only managed to take down the Big Bad, but his idols are so impressed, they kneel before him.
  • Cars 2: Mater, oh excuse me Sir Tow Mater. He spends most of the movie being his lovable bumbling self. Then he finds out Lightning McQueen is in trouble, lesson when dealing with Mater, NEVER threaten his friends, just ask the three or four bad guys he took BY HIMSELF.


Film -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Kung Fu Hustle:
    • Sing, the hapless hero, starts off as a complete failure of a small-time street crook. Then he double-crosses the Axe Gang, gets beaten into a bloody pile of meat—and wakes up as an indestructible kung fu god.
    • Just about the entire cast fits this trope. Ranging from the pervy landlord and bitchy landlady, to a secretary geek wearing golden glasses kicking both Sing and his partner's arse, and the farmer lady who managed to make Sing vomit blood with a punch—there are loads more.
  • Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach had Commendant Lassard being kidnapped and held hostage by the Big Bad. He mistakenly thinks it's all a game being put on for the media, and when someone points out that it's not, he rather quickly frees himself without breaking a sweat.
  • Get Smart: Maxwell Smart is ridiculously skilled and resourceful, an excellent marksman, and really damn lucky. Except for when it's funny for him to be an idiot.
  • Loren Visser, the private detective in Blood Simple, comes across as a goofy, loudmouthed, dumbass joke at the start of the movie...until he shoots Julian, the man who hired him. From then on, he's a nigh-unstoppable killer.
  • In Galaxy Quest, Sir Alexander Dane spends most of his time complaining, about the degeneration of his career from classically trained Shakespearean actor to being most famous for his role as the token alien in a cheesy space opera. But then an alien trooper shoots his biggest fan, the character dies in his arms while saying that he always thought of Dane's character as a father figure. Dane then utters the alien vow his character is known for, which he had utterly hated up to this point, swearing vengeance, and lunges out of cover. The alien trooper takes aim at him but he charges, bare-handed. The alien's gun fails just in time for Dane to leap on top of him and start beating him to death bare-handed—which in turn gives the rest of the Thermians the courage to join in the fight.
  • Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. She starts out appearing to be The Ditz, but apparently superior knowledge of fashion and haircare do not preclude intelligence.
  • The Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is a Cloudcuckoolander with a side order of The Woobie. However, he doesn't hesitate to put himself in danger to save Alice, or the White Queen. Not to mention fighting the Knave of Hearts, The Dragon of the Red Queen, and kicking his ass.
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story has Gordon Pibb, a bumbling loser whose mail order wife hates and who can't get angry or throw a ball with any force to save his life, making him the weakest link on the Average Joes team. However, that changes during the semi-finals. By himself against almost the entire opposing team, he sees his wife having fun with another guy and gets super pissed, going psycho and single handedly taking out the entire opposing team.
    • The scene in question may be a homage to the first version of the film Rollerball. The film climaxes its Over the Top sermon on individuality vs. collective thinking and sports fixing by having the hero's team deliberately killed off all around him, until the quiet rebel in said hero snaps and he brutally destroys the entire opposing team by himself before scoring a goal nice and slow to drive the point home.
  • In Destry Rides Again, the eponymous character (played by Jimmy Stewart in his finest "nice guy" style) becomes the deputy of the marshal in a lawless town. At first, he seems to be completely harmless; he doesn't carry a gun, drinks milk at the bar, tells anecdotes to everybody, and makes napkin rings as a hobby. However, he eventually proves to be a very capable gunfighter.
  • In the Josie and The Pussycats flick, Melody uses some seriou Kung-Fu on the villainess' henchmen.
  • Kwan-Yin from the Journey to the West TV film kicked demon ass without breaking her Goddess hand gesture.
  • Mystery Men's Mr. Furious, when his love interest was threatened, wiped the floor with Casanova Frankenstein.
  • In the 1986 film Aliens Private Hudson (Bill Paxton) would like to be viewed as a badass but is constantly slapped down by his more-badass companions and spends much of the film whining and complaining—until the chips are down, when he goes into full badass mode and mows down countless aliens before falling.

"Oh you want some of this to? Come get it!"

  • Wikus van de Merwe of District 9 is a sniveling, naive corporate pencil-pusher with a silly mustache - and when the chips are down, he climbs into a suit of alien Powered Armor and proceeds to vaporize the local voodoo gang as well as the psycho PMC troops sent to retrieve him.
  • Zen from the Thai film Chocolate is a severe autistic, however has the ability to watch a martial-arts fight and absorb the various movements. In a point of awesome, the martial-artist playing Zen really does learn at least a dozen separate fighting styles for the movie, and displays them flawlessly.
  • Lance, the token white temp in Undercover Brother. NEVER CALL HIM A SISSY!!!
  • Toxic Avenger: Melvin worked at the Tromaville gym, Ninety pound weakling who got pushed around!
  • Unleashed stars Jet Li as the slave-enforcer of a British gang boss, raised as something approximate to an attack-dog, leaving him with the mind of a child. In fact, the character only achieves contentment when he is able to abandon his history of violence and embrace a life of non-badassery.
  • Tuco, "The Ugly" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is a hairy, goofy, slovenly klutz compared to the more mature, soft-spoken and reserved Man With No Name and Angel Eyes (not unlike Daffy Duck, actually), but is capable of shooting with incredible speed and accuracy, escaping from an armed guard by cunning use of the train tracks, as well as nearly killing Blondie several times only for him to be saved by luck (or cannonfire).
  • Star Trek. Yes, James T. Kirk is a brat, a chronic juvenile offender, a wanna-be ladies man, and he seems to excel only at getting beat up. He is also the baddest mother in all of Starfleet, and not even killing his dad or blowing up planets will change that. You may now go to warp.
    • If getting your ass kicked throughout the movie and choked about half a dozen times is badass, then yes, he definitely qualifies. Actually, yes, I guess it is kinda badass.
  • Count Vile from Press Start spends most of the movie acting like a complete dolt, leading many to question how he managed to assume total control, only revealing his true power and psychopathic ferocity in the final battle.
  • Miss Piggy in The Muppet Movie seems like a ditzy wannabe actress...until Kermit gets threatened, upon which she goes berserk on a pack of Doc Hopper's goons. Of course, fans of The Muppet Show would know that Piggy has a bit of a temper (and is quite dangerous when provoked).
  • Perpetually horny CIA operative Colette Dubois (Anna Nicole Smith) in the unbelievably cheesy erotic thriller To The Limit is a bit of a question mark. Most of the time, she seems to almost have the mind of a child and doesn't even try to come off as anything but The Ditz. When it's time for action, however, she can inexplicably hold her own in fights with ninja assassins and coolly kill whole carloads of villains. It's all very bizarre even by the standards of a bizarre movie, and leaves one wondering whether Colette is actually this or another practitioner of Obfuscating Stupidity. Considering Anna Nicole's real-life persona, I'm betting on the former.
  • Evil Dead Ash is for the most part a total idiot; but if there's one thing he's good at it's making dead things deader.
  • Star Wars: Jar Jar Binks (who else?) - Anyone else remember how essentially all of the droid kills he managed to get during the Battle of Naboo were entirely by accident and a result of his incompetent screwing around? As long as he is free to be a complete klutz, that guy is a walking, er, stumbling disaster zone.
    • The Gungan commander tries to toss him a booma (plasma grenade ball), which he juggles around for a second or two before dropping it onto a droid driving a tank (of which Binks is straddling the cannon), causing said tank to crash.
    • When he's on the ground, he gets his foot caught in some exposed wiring from a droid that's been torn in half (but still semi-operational), and his attempts to shake it free cause the droid to fire its weapon at other droids, scoring some kills.
    • When the Gungan forces retreat, Binks tries to grab the tailgate of an ammunition wagon in a desperate attempt to avoid being left behind, but instead causes the tailgate to fall open, spilling the plasma balls down the hill and onto the advancing droid armies.
  • Abby in Death Proof. She disapproves of Kim's gun and whines a bit. Until the Big Bad attacks them that is. She's the one who suggested killing him and later stomps in his head after beating him up
  • In Spaceballs, when Vespa takes a laser beam in the hairdo, she goes all Rambo and takes an entire platoon out.
  • Subverted in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Indy has given his father's Grail Diary to Marcus Brody, an apparently goofy, harmless professor. The villains indicate that Brody will be easy to find, but Indy tells them that Brody fits this trope. As it turns out, he does not. The camera then cuts to a scene of Brody in a crowded market, conspicuously wearing the same thing he always does, calling out "does anybody speak English?

Walter Donovan: He sticks out like a sore thumb. We'll find him.
Indiana Jones: The hell you will. He's got a two day head start on you, which is more than he needs. Brody's got friends in every town and village from here to the Sudan, he speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom, he'll blend in, disappear, you'll never see him again. With any luck, he's got the grail already.

  • Dustin Hoffman's character in Straw Dogs.
  • Mamiya in Cure: seemingly unaware of his identity or surroundings, but a master of hypnotic suggestion who is capable of taking command of another person's will in a matter of seconds. He's accused of Obfuscating Stupidity, although this is never made explicit. The fact that the detective's wife definitely suffers from such an ailment adds to the uncertainty.
  • Both Scooby Doo AND Shaggy step it up at the end of Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, although they tried (and failed) throughout most of the movie.
  • The eponymous Mystery Team takes a level in Badass by the end of the movie.
  • Sergeant Gerry Boyle from The Guard.
  • Adam Sandler's eponymous hero in "The Water Boy" looks like the poster child for the trope.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Redwall: King Bull Sparra does this really well. Maybe a little too well...
  • The character of Alfred from The Death Gate Cycle, written by Weis & Hickman, is an over the top example of this trope. He first appears as a stumbling, clumsy butler, but in dire circumstances, at times off-screen, he is the pinnacle of his wizarding tradition and can perform miracles in Functional Magic up to and including resurrecting the dead, the right way, whereas other mages can do so only by draining the life of another being of the same race, somewhere in the multiverse. Of course, a lot of people want to get hold of Alfred for his magical prowess. Problem is, he doesn't remember how he pulls his magic off, pulling a complete black-out, more than often enough accompanied by an undignified fainting. It eventually turns out that he originally just used Obfuscating Stupidity to avoid revealing his powers to the world—but over time, it became so in-grown that he practically forgot how to use his powers at all.
    • In the same series, a character named Zifnab appears to be a senile old man who can't remember the color of his own robe. He is later discovered to be one of the oldest living beings in the universe. Although he is afflicted with Alzheimer's, he is questionably the most powerful magician in the series, complete with his own pet dragon.
      • I always thought it was less Alzheimer's and more way too many bad memories from when the world as we knew it was broken asunder and billions died. You go around with that mucking up your head and you would be daffy yourself.
    • Then of course there's the absent-minded, bumbling elderly mage Fizban, from Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance series. Though occasionally his spells prove useful, this is mostly by accident. Later you learn the truth: he's actually the God the protagonists are fighting to bring back...
  • Harry Dresden, to those who do not know who he is and what he is capable of. He tends to utilise this and a constant stream of sarcasm to pull Obfuscating Stupidity on his opponents, many of whom are in strict terms far out of his weight class.
    • People consistently underestimate him, or are utterly terrified of him. You steal his girlfriend, he'll destroy you and your servants horribly, starting a war in the process. Take his daughter, and he will commit genocide .
    • Listens-to-Wind seems to be a quiet, benevolent, animal loving healer. Then he sends a demi god of imaginative sadism running with its tail between its legs in a full on Shapeshifter Showdown. Harry later refers to Listens-to-Winds expression when he realises how the traitor was manipulating the Senior council, as 'preparing to adjust another ass to ears ratio'. Listens-to-Wind had said this earlier in the aforementioned fight.
    • Ebenezar McCoy, old wizard, benevolent mentor and, when possible, consummate avoider of politics. Then he reveals himself as the Blackstaff, the White Councils wetworks man and becomes a member of the Senior Council, the 7 oldest and most powerful wizards alive. Also master of the Colony Drop. Using an old satellite. He is also Papa Wolf to Harry, being his mentor and grandfather.
    • From what we hear about Harry's mother, she was just as dangerous as her son and father.
  • From the Discworld series:
    • In Maskerade, there's Walter Plinge, who pulls a double Homage to Michael Crawford by being a bumbling Frank Spencer clone who badasses into the suave Opera Ghost by putting a mask on.
    • Lords and Ladies - When Lancre is under siege by elves, perpetual milquetoast Magrat gets her Hidden Badass moment after she dons the war armor of Queen Ynci the Short-Tempered. She then proceeds to kick elvish ass (including shooting a crossbow through a keyhole) and ride off for a showdown with the Queen of the Elves. Near the end of the novel, we learn that Queen Ynci was a fictional creation of a former Lancre monarch.
      • Also in the volume before that, Witches Abroad, where two scary snake-women look upon shy Magrat as some kind of small furry animal, but when they corner her they find out to their cost that the small furry animal she resembles is a mongoose.
    • Men At Arms - Detritus, a particularly dumb troll, becomes temporarily hyper-intelligent when he's locked in a cold room and his silicon brain starts super-conducting.
    • A.E. Pessimal from Thud has his badassness hidden so deep that even Vetinari himself is competely surprised and confused when he hears Pessimal attacked a troll. With his teeth.
    • A constant example given are the wizards; Seen one way, they are rather large, simple minded men who like big dinners and tend to argue with each other, with a tendency to regard the end of the world as a minor curiosity. In another light, they are an elite group of men who are given quite a bit of leeway in return for consistently and conscientiously refraining from causing the laws of causality and physics to metaphorically do handstands and jump through hoops. It's not difficult at all to refrain from turning people into small amphibians when you can't, but it's much much harder when you know exactly how easy it is. On top of that, the natural number of wizards is one, and the arguments they have are harmless ways of expressing that, rather than, as it was in the past, all out thaumonuclear war. There are places on the Disc where the wizards weren't quite so harmless and simple minded; grass may never grow there again and you're lucky to leave one the same shape as you went in.
  • Lennie from Of Mice and Men may be a mentally impaired Gentle Giant, but that doesn't mean you can just push him around. Curley finds out the hard way.
  • Eddie Dean in The Dark Tower is a washed-up cynical junkie loser when he first falls into Midworld, and seemingly dependent upon the Last Gunslinger for basic survival. He reveals himself to be a talented gunfighter when provoked.
  • The wizard Schmendrick of The Last Unicorn is, at times, capable of awe-inspiring magic...the trouble is, he can hardly ever get it to work, and usually it doesn't do what he expected. But he gets it under control in the end.
  • In George Macdonald Fraser's McAuslan stories, Private McGlinchy is, in a football game, either completely useless or completely amazing, depending on factors that other characters are trying to figure out.
    • Fraser pulls it again in the Flashman series, with Flashman's wife Elspeth. Flashman regards her as a dunce, and she certainly seems shallow and vapid, but in Flashman's Lady and even more in the The Subtleties of Baccarat, she proves to be a vicious little minx that you trifle with at your peril. The crowning irony is that Flashman never figures this out, even though he's usually so perspicacious about others' strengths and weaknesses, and he's married to her for sixty years.
  • In Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Cycle, a gibbering, mindless beggar barely capable of feeding himself is later revealed to be the mortal shell of Macros the Black, the most powerful sorcerer in the world. His mind was not in his body, until suddenly it was imperative for him to be present to fight the darkness and chaos.
    • And then there's Nakor, a wandering con man and chronic goof-off who just happens to know more about magic, the nature of the multiverse, and beating down evil than anyone else in the series, with the possible exception of Pug.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series has JonTom Merryweather, the spellsinger of the title. A modern human in an alternate, medieval-equivalent universe filled with Talking Animals, who is pretty much useless in a fight, at least in the first few books...except for his spellsinging, which is the ultimate wild card and capable of doing anything he can sing about. The only trouble is that 1.) he has to know the right song, 2.) sometimes nothing happens, and 3.) even he's not sure what's going to happen when he starts. It's done everything from switching the entire party's genders, to changing a wizard's apprentice into a phoenix, to summoning a god.
  • While this editor isn't sure how much this is true of the character in actual mythology, some stories of Ganesha present the jolly Big Eater god as equal in power to his fearsome father Shiva, capable of stopping the sun and destroying the world, but luckily too nice to do so.
  • The novel Armor by John Steakley follows two storylines set about five years apart, with the earlier one framed by the discovery of the Powered Armor used by the earlier protagonist on a distant, non-wartorn colony in a crashed escape pod. The armor's owner, Felix, is quite literally an unstoppable killing machine: in a war where no one has survived more than ten major missions, armor notwithstanding, Felix makes it through over twenty before being killed by another human soldier. Meanwhile, in the present-day, a rebellion is brewing right underneath the nose of the colony's drunken, dimwitted owner, Lewis, causing great consternation to the present-day protagonist...especially when it breaks into open war and a nearby space pirate decides to capitalize on the situation. With a military grade dreadnought. Fortunately, Lewis is Felix, lying low and enjoying life. At least, until he decides to save his colony by putting his armor back on, slaughtering an army's worth of pirates, and then takes down the dreadnought with his bare damn hands.
  • Neville Longbottom of Harry Potter, although he worked hard to achieve the Badass designation from the Moron.
  • In the books Operation: Red Jericho and Operation: Typhoon Shore, Posh Charlie has a very minor role and is known for his constant stuttering and nervousness. Put him in a combat situation and he becomes a confident soldier, immediately dropping the stutter. This may possibly be Obfuscating Stupidity due to the knowledge in the latter book that he is actually a very competent researcher.
  • Lovable the raven, from the Firekeeper series, is described as a "bubble head" and has a love for anything shiny. This is in stark contrast to her far more serious mate, Bitter. However, in the fifth book, Wolf Hunting, when Bitter and Lovable are ensnared by magic vines that can kill their victims, Lovable forgoes her shot at escape to stay and keep the vines from getting Bitter completely. She manages this for quite some time until help arrives and is the only reason that help wasn't too late for Bitter.
  • Ceallio, in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, is a mute simpleton when he is discovered by the protagonists working in an inn in the marsh town of Kwanitupul. However, it turns out that he's really the famous knight Camaris, who suffered a Heroic BSOD and attempted suicide many years ago. When sorely provoked, he displays incredible strength and fighting skill, first beating up a group of thugs and then defeating a Nabbanai nobleman in a swordfight, but remains in a childlike daze. It is not until he's brought to Prince Josua that he finally recovers his wits.
  • Orbek Black Knife from Blade of Tyshalle. The above quote comes right after Orbek's Crowning Moment of Awesome. The irony lies in that Caine originally targeted Orbek first when breaking up Orbek's old gang because he thought the young ogrillo was the gang's weakest point.
  • The Belgariad and Malloreon have several of these and several subversions. Played straight with Silk who normally plays the thief/rogue member of the cast, but in The Malloreon when Bethra is murdered, he tortures the killer into revealing who hired him and then proceeds to assassinate half the family before being stopped by his companions. Later, when the Dagashi assassin Brill pisses him off at Rak Cthol, he beats the hell out of him and kicks him off the mountain. He then coolly informs Belgarath that Brill was learning how to fly, and not all that successfully. These were, of course, Crowning Moments of Awesome. Also in the same series, when Belgarath gets pissed he has been known to destroy entire mountains and also buries Zedar, who betrayed him and his master, alive for And I Must Scream. He likes to let the world think he is a Dirty Old Man, and he likes to make remarks of his time with the fully female Dryad race and of the very open-minded Marag women. He also tends to become badass when his family is threatened.
    • Brill himself also counts. For the first two books he appears to be a footpad and hired thugh for Asharak, the starter villain. He's easily evaded by the cast, and the only remarkable thing about him seems to be his ability to catch up with them. And then in book three he reveals that he's a freaking ninja. And that Asharak was probably working for him and not the other way around. This culminates in his battle with Silk, which is pretty epic for both combatants.
  • Tyrion's squire Podrick Payne in A Song of Ice and Fire. He's tongue-tied and incompetent most of the time to the extent that Tyrion suspects the boy was inflicted on him as a joke, but when Tyrion is caught on a bridge of wrecked ships on a burning river with Ser Mandon Moore, one of the elite Kingsguard, trying to kill him, Pod somehow manages to kill Mandon and drag the unconscious Tyrion to safety.
    • He's also seen cutting down a few enemies when Tyrion storms out to meet Stannis' men.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil.
    • Perhaps even more aptly: Samwise Gamgee. His name roughly translates to "halfwit", and it applies. He's overweight, easily frightened, and not very bright. He also beat a man-eating giant spider demi-god in single combat, single-handedly stormed a tower full of hostile orcs to save his friend's life, was the only Ringbearer to steadfastly resist the temptation of the One Ring, and literally carried another man up the side of a volcano for the fate of the world while starving and suffering from dehydration. There's a reason Tolkien considered him the true hero of the story.
    • This is a characteristic of Hobbits as a whole. As a race, they spend most of their time eating, drinking and making sure they have enough to eat and drink (the only function of their police force -the Sherrifs - is to chase of wild animals). Yet as Wolves, Orcs and Saruman have found out, there's only so far you can push them.
    • The Ents are an entire species of Hidden Badasses. At first glance, they look like a race of Gentle Giants who just want to hide in their forest and wait for the danger to go away, so much so, that Saruman doesn't even consider them a threat. However, when Saruman starts invading their forest and chopping down their trees, they decide enough is enough, take the fight to him, and send their trees after his Uruk-Hai, pretty much ending the war in the Rohan all on their own.
      • That wizard REALLY should have known better, but it should be noted that where Sarumon is concerned, it was more of a case of karma; the Ents attacked almost right after Sarumon sent his entire army off to Helm's Deep, leaving only a handful of Orcs to guard against an army of trees.
  • From L.J. Smith's Night World series, Iliana Dominick spends most of the story as The Load and The Ditz, but when her friends and bodyguards are threatened at the end of the book, she finally unleashes the magic in her blood that she's been denying her entire life.
  • The Codex Alera series gives us the slave Fade. He's not just a moron, he's obviously severely brain-damaged, and is generally not much good for anything but some minor blacksmithing. Except that he's actually a legendary swordsman believed dead by the rest of the country, and he will miss you up bad if given a reason to do so. He's also much, much smarter than he acts, and the only reason he's acting as a slave is to keep an eye on Tavi.
  • Fishlegs from the How to Train Your Dragon series. He's described as looking like a 'stick-insect with asthma, eczema, and the face of a fish', and doesn't really like adventuring. However.....Fishlegs happens to be a Berserk, one of the wildest and most respected types of Viking.
  • The Culture is normally regarded as being hedonistic and extremely eccentric by most members of the galactic community. This doesn't just include the biological citizens, but the godlike AI's with 6 figure IQ's, and almost every single one of their starships are like this too. Most non-Culture sentients consider it strange that the Minds can be bothered to care about beings so intellectually below them. Similarily, a lot of starships give themselves silly / ironic names, and are often fully developed personalites. Despite this apparently goofy, peaceful image, if you threaten the lives of the Culture's citizens, pray that they only declare war on you. You WILL lose, but are most likely to be killed in a swift and conventional way. If not, then you can look forward to being killed in the most obscenely painful manner possible.
    • "Do Not Fuck With The Culture".
    • And you know you're completely fucked when you've attracted the attention of Special Circumstances. Completely fucked. You'll be lucky if they don't just destroy your entire civilization from the inside out and re-make it.
      • That includes any of their happy-go-lucky agents.
    • Just to add, do not ever try to pull one over on a Mind. Especially the Eccentrics (Grey Area, anyone?)
  • Telnan, introduced in the Dragaera novel Dzur may carry a terrifying soul-destroying Empathic Weapon, but he's a cheerful, ditzy guy, and not too bright. However, he still very much fits the Proud Warrior Race Guy and Blood Knight credentials of the Dzur, and he's somewhat more competent than he initially seems.
  • In the Sword of Truth novels, Zedd is initially known to the reader as a goofy old man who's introduced talking to clouds. Naked. What the reader finds out later is that he was once known as the "Wind of Death," is a wizard of the first order, and in the past earned that nickname by winning a magical war.
    • Other wizards in the series fit the mold in one way or another, such as Warren who's a total nerd and Non-Action Guy until he and Zedd go to show an opposing army "an old fashioned firefight", and Nathan, who is described at one point as a "1,000-year-old child", but is as clever and deadly as they come.
  • Somewhat of a subverted trope, but Orion in Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex. During the penultimate scene, Artemis realizes that his brains are useless and uses electricity to switch back to Orion. As Holly states, "Artemis can't shoot." But Orion can.
  • When we meet Matrim Cauthon, he plays pranks, jokes around and generally serves as the comic relief in the group of main characters. He then gets cut by an evil knife and gets infected by said evil. Barely out of his sickbed after a major healing, he stumbles out on a training field where arguably the finest swordsmen in the world are training, and needing money, challenges two of them at the same time to a fight. With a quarterstaff, he wins. The he takes a level in badass.
  • Those who grew up reading the books of Lloyd Alexander will remember the bard and minor king Fflewddur Fflam, who at first seems like only a half-trained musician with a gift for exaggeration and a magic harp that calls him on it every time. But drop him in a fight with something important at stake and you realize he's also a capable and dangerous warrior...though still one with his heart in his mouth until the battle is over.
  • Stephen King and Peter Straub's collaborative book The Talisman has Wolf—a lovable, simple-minded Gentle Giant who serves as a shepherd in an alternate Earth and tags along with Jack in his quest to save his mother. He's also that dimension's version of a werewolf. And has adopted Jack as his new "herd". And is impossibly strong even when he isn't transformed. Which means that you really, really want to think twice about hurting Jack.
  • Jack the Ripper in Time Scout forms a rare duo. He's two people, one a patsy being hypnotically controlled and turned into a weapon by the mastermind.
  • The Clutch Turtles from Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's Liaden Universe aren't really morons per se, so much as they appear to be large and slow, with a child-like innocent naivety regarding human culture. But those who get on their bad side discover, very briefly, the error of their ways.
    • Their space drive could be considered a metaphor for the Turtles themselves: normally slow, quirky, and meandering, it can move very quickly and directly if the Turtles see sufficient need.
  • Lieutenant Panga in Someone Elses War.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Married... with Children's Al Bundy. On occasion, for whatever reason, Al - schlubby loser Everyman Al - would take it upon himself to beat the living shit out of some poor bastard and he would do so with the psychotic glee you would expect from a man with often literally no other joy. Of all the things Al Bundy failed at - and Al Bundy failed at almost everything he put his hand to - he never once lost a fist fight (or was even mentioned to have lost a fistfight) in the show's entire history.
  • iCarly: Gibby. If you are a friend, but betray his trust, or someone who dares kidnaps his friends, he won't think twice about beating the fudge out of you.
    • T-Bo, a background character who runs the Goovy Smoothy and is normally seen just putting random items on sticks to sell and being wierd, reveals himself to be one in iStill Psycho when he helps Mrs. Benson rescue the iCarly gang from Nora and her equally insane family. Not only does he kick down the basement door so Carly can rescue Spenser, he singlehandedly takes down Nora's father.
  • Played with in Disney's The Suite Life: Apparently London Tipton is quite the athlete (notably in volleyball), but only when she's mad.
  • In Get Smart, Maxwell Smart may be a bumbling idiot most of the time, but when he realizes the situation is becoming make-or-break, then he buckles down and becomes nearly unstoppable.
  • R.J., Trickster Mentor of Power Rangers Jungle Fury, seems at first to be nothing more than an overly-mellow pizza restauranteur. Then he steps out of the kitchen and reveals himself by taking down a squad of Mooks without breaking stride, and suddenly the guy who seemed like bumbling comic relief a few seconds ago takes on a whole new light. He barely changes at all, busting out the crazy martial arts skills while remaining as calm and carefree as ever.
  • River from Firefly is a Crouching Crazy Hidden Badass. Most of the time, she tends to be a Cloudcuckoolander with some endearingly whimsical moments mixed in with seriously disturbing fits and a few Ax Crazy moments. But mess with her brother Simon or her friend Kaylee, and she will take you down, whether by gunning down three men with her eyes closed or orchestrating an impressive Batman Gambit. And that's even before the Big Damn Movie.
  • Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer exhibits only the loosest connection to reality, and spends most of the time behaving like an idiot child (e.g. cooing over her pet bird, which died because she left it in the cage and forgot to feed it). But when she does fight, she's extremely dangerous, and capable of killing a Slayer with a slash of her fingernail.
    • Let's not forget Xander. Whether it was magic tuxedo, skill with a crane, or just a combination of borderline Too Dumb to Live and luck, Xander managed to be a useful and functional member of a team that included a slayer, a powerful witch, a werewolf, a vampire, a half-demon, and a high school librarian.
  • From Stargate SG-1: Colonel Jack O'Neill. Probably more a case of Obfuscating Stupidity, as you couldn't get to officer rank(much less Colonel) without being fairly smart; he's just a very "military" guy and would like to be told that yes, this alien/Ancient technology/doodad will do what he thinks it will, instead of listening to a lengthy technical explanation about why it will do what he thinks it will. He acts Book Dumb in everything remotely scientific. He never reads Carter's reports, he refuses to listen to Daniel explain some ancient piece of writing or technology, and acts as if nothing matters except The Simpsons. But...when some dumb Goa'uld or other bad guy threatens his team or the Earth, he gets very serious, and reminds you just why he's leading this team. In the season 5 episode "Rite of Passage", Cassandra observes that Jack is smarter than he pretends to be.

Ba'al: You cannot be serious.
Jack: Oh I can! I just choose not to.

    • He also happens to be an amateur astronomer (a single comment about an accretion disc results in Daniel hitting a figurative brick wall while talking). When he's not using the telescope on his roof to spy on neighbors, that is.
  • HM "Howling Mad" Murdock from The A-Team. He seems like just another comic relief moron, right? Wrong. If it's got wings, he's flown it; if it's got wheels, he's driven it. And he worked for the CIA!
  • Adrian Monk: Socially inept, obsessive-compulsive and afraid of everything. But he manages to solve the most baffling crimes and he can hold his own in a fight—he was a cop once, remember. And if you even so much as insult Trudy, he will hand you your ass.
    • Also, in the episode where the suspect was a marathon runner, who grabs the key piece of evidence and takes off on foot. Monk proves that he used to be a great runner in school by giving chase (especially in his new sneakers which he got from his idol).
  • Otoya Kurenai from Kamen Rider Kiva, who at first blush seems to be nothing more than a foolishly self-absorbed Casanova who doesn't have a serious bone in his body. But then he starts pulling Batman Gambit after Batman Gambit, demonstrating an incredible degree of character judgement, and kicking monster butt with an experimental Powered Armor—typically stolen from its intended user as part of said Batman Gambit. It's no wonder that near the end of the series, the Fangire Queen, normally tasked with killing "race traitors" who fall in love with humans, has herself fallen for Otoya and would go on to bear their child, the show's protagonist Wataru.
  • Jackie Burkhart serves The Ditz with a Hair-Trigger Temper on That '70s Show.
  • Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined fits the trope quite well. Most of the time, he's just screwing around and too busy having random rashes. But in the cockpit, he's more than competent.
    • By the end of the series, most characters who weren't introduced as straight-up badasses (and are still alive) have turned out to fit this trope. Off the top of my head I can think of Felix Gaeta's leading an armed mutiny, Laura Roslin's raging refusal to surrender when it appears that said mutiny has succeeded, Romo Lampkin's escaping from a marine who had a gun to his head by stabbing the guy's jugular with a pen, and Gaius Baltar going all Rambo on the enemy Cylons during the battle in the Series Finale.
  • Merlin may be bumbling, clumsy and at times, naive, but I dare you to get on his bad side. He can certainly kick anyone's butt with the use of his powerful and dangerous magic. Especially if you hurt his loved ones.
  • The 1991 series Step by Step had Sasha Mitchell's Cody Lambert as the beach bum slacker nephew of Patrick Duffy's Frank Lambert. Though normally a clueless "Valley Dude," in one episode when braced by a group of bikers in a bar, Cody showed why he's played by the man who made two "Kickboxer" films. After clearing the bar of bikers, he reverted to goofy flake with the following dialog;

Carol: Cody, I didn't know you knew karate!
Cody: Cha, me neither! I'm gonna have to go back and re-read some of my old diaries!

  • Jason Stackhouse spends most of True Blood constantly doing absolutely stupid shit, because he's dumb as a stump, and is often led about by just about anyone. Threaten his sister Sookie, however, and he will not just step up; he'll absolutely take you down and make the audience's jaws drop. But he's still dumb as a stump for the most part.
    • This sppears to be somehow related to Sookie being around. When she disappears for months, she returns to find him a full-fledged cop, having become much more responsible in the meantime and even running the police station, more or less, when the sheriff turns out to be a drug addict.
  • Brilliant but baffled Professor Yana in the three-part 2007 series finale of Doctor Who. He does a dramatic Face Heel Turn as he remembers what a badass he is as The Master.
    • Rose Tyler could qualify. She certainly has her fair share of ditzy moments; she has to get saved a lot, and sometimes, if she's feeling particularly helpful, she's shouting ineffectually at the villains. She does, however, absorb the power of time and become a demi-goddess at the end of series 1, sacrifices herself for the universe at the end of series 2, and blows things up like all-get-out at the end of series 4.
    • While he's hardly a moron, the Doctor himself can fit this trope at times, particularly in his tenth incarnation. Say you're an alien invader. You captue this odd fellow in a suit and hi-tops; he appears to be batshit insane, jabbering on, often in rather inane ways. And just after he finishes talking, you realize he has just taken down your entire armada.
      • Case in point: the Family of Blood. The Doctor (using his human disguise/alias John Smith) stumbles into the Family's ship, trying to stop them from destroying the academy where he hid from them. While negotiating with them, the Doctor stumbles about pressing random buttons on the ship before turning over his fob watch (which holds his Time Lord powers). The Family tries to absorb said powers, but they are not there. The Doctor then drops the bumbling human act and reveals he's back to normal. And has just set their ship's reactor to overload. The kicker is that after the ship blows up, the Family realizes that the Doctor hid from them because of what he would do to them as punishment, not out of fear for the Family itself.
    • The second doctor was probably the most representative of this trope. While all incarnations of the Doctor are capable of deadly seriousness and incredible skill, and most (Exception for the fifth Doctor) were usually goofy, Patrick Troughton brings the apparent goofiness up to eleven. The vast majority of the time, the second Doctor pretended to be a bumbling idiot, constantly stressed out and panicking. However, when faced with the right danger, he drops the act and becomes dead serious and sometimes even diabolic. This is especially pronounced whenever he encounters Daleks or Cybermen.
  • Companion Rory Pond is clumsy, awkward, useless in a fight, has a serious inferiority complex concerning the fact that his wife to be seems to love her imaginary friend more than him, and generally is mostly only on board the TARDIS for her. But he will not take crap if someone is in trouble and by the end of the series has become a major mythical figure and badass fighter. Even after the timelines are reset he remembers living for 2000 years guarding his wife inside Pandora's box, and is an extremely competent fighter, able to face down an army of Cybermen if nessecary. River had to get those genes from somewhere, I suppose...

Amy Pond: (to her infant daughter, Melody, as both are being held prisoner by The Silence) "I wish I could tell you that you'll be loved. That you'll be safe and cared for and protected. But this isn't the time for lies. What you are going to be, Melody, is very very brave. But not as brave as they [The Silence] all have to be. Because there's somebody coming. I don't know where he is, or what he's doing, but trust me. He's on his way. He's the last of his kind. He looks young but he's lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. And wherever they take you, Melody, however scared you are, I promise you, you will never be alone. Because this man is your father. He has a name, but the people of our world know him better... as the last Centurion."

  • Vir from Babylon 5 is introduced as a timid and shy comic relief, used to being pushed around by his boss Londo. However as the show goes on he gradually shows more and more backbone, first by not backing from a huge monster (a hologram, but he didn't know that) when sent to deliver a message to technomages, then by telling off an emissary of Eldritch Abominations in the most awesome way, and finally by retorting to an insult and a spying attempt by borrowing his Londo's duel sword and trashing the offender's stall and forcing him to confess at swordpoint.
    • There's also the small part about him becoming Emperor.
  • WPC Shaz Granger is hardly a moron, she's just sweet and isn't as badass as the rest of CID. It's kind of hard when you're a plonk in your mid-twenties, trying to live up to the examples of Gene Hunt and Alex Drake. Even Ray and Chris are pretty badass, holding their own in gunfights and having multiple Big Damn Heroes moments - Shaz doesn't even carry a gun. And then 2.08 hits, where a bent copper is holding Chris hostage, about to shoot him. A gunshot sounds, and it's Shaz, holding a smoking gun and wearing her wedding dress. To cap it all off, she quips "How you doing, baby?" to Chris.
  • Dave Teague, the mild mannered small town newspaper editor in Haven. When a menacing and muscular ex-con shows up in town and threatens Dave's little brother, you can see the until then goofy exterior slough off and his inner bada** reveal itself.
  • The live action TV version of Cutie Honey had Honey as a ditzy high school student who could take on entire swarms of mooks.
  • Agent Bill Hoyt of NBC's Undercovers. He's usually the nerdy, sycophantic tech guy for the Blooms; but in the episode "Xerxes" he single-handedly takes down the villainess after learning that she had almost manipulated him into falling in love with her.
  • Boardwalk Empire has Eddie Kessler, Nucky's bumbling assistant who often messes up and is often treated as a Butt Monkey. When an assassin comes after Nucky, he makes the assassin miss his shot, takes the assassin's gun away and then coldly shoots the guy in the back as he is trying to run away
  • This is pretty much Castiel from Supernatural. Perpetual confused look, especially when it comes to humans but piss him off and he can kick your ass to hell and back.
    • Also Gabriel in a sense. This is an archangel who is pissing around messing with humanity.
    • To quote Dean: "Word to the wise: don't piss off the nerd angels."
  • Criminal Minds has a few of these. It's to be expected from members of the team-they are FBI agents after all-but a lot of the Unsubs and quite a few would-be victims fall into this category. One example that springs to mind is the strung-out prostitute from "Legacy" who looks to be a disposable victim when the UnSub picks her up but manages to make her way through the killer's torture factory-including walking barefoot through a roomful of broken glass-and survives to see him taken down at the end of the episode.
  • Todd "The Todd" Quinlan from Scrubs is an utter meathead, seemingly only capable of communicating through innuendo and That's What She Said jokes. But he is also a ridiculously talented surgeon, one of the best in the hospital.
  • Highlander's Methos poses as a mild-mannered, sheltered scholar with the Watchers; even with his friends who know he's the oldest living Immortal, he'd rather lounge around drinking beer than accept a challenge. And he would just as soon not talk about how he used to be Death of the Four Horsemen.
  • Sledge Hammer!; his Catch Phrase, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." is a Blatant Lies, but when the chips are down, his crazy awesomeness kicks in.
  • In social game shows like Survivor and the American Big Brother, a good (albeit boring) strat is to make everyone think you're not a threat to them, so they won't target you for eliminations. Then, you start playing much harder and make them regret not taking you out in hindsight.
    • Perhaps the most triumphant example in Survivor was Fabio. His entire strategy was basically him flanderizing his himbo personality and flying under the radar while the alliances pick off at people perceived to be bigger targets. Then when he was the only target in between the easily beaten Dan, he finally started to win immunity, and then tricked Chase and Sash into telling Jane they were voting her out TO HER FACE! He then chain-won immunity all the way into the final three, making Chase and Sash both think "Oh Crap".
    • Attempted but failed with Brett and Ashley. Both Brett and Ashley just kept their mouths shut and hid behind numbers so they wouldn't be targeted. Then all of a sudden, they start competing well in challenges and force the dominant alliance to vote each other out first. Immediately the person in charge of the game thinks Oh Crap because this person they perceived to be a nothing is actually not bad at the game. Unfortunately; Brett & Ashley both failed to win the final immunity and were therefore the final member of the jury.
    • Before either of those three, we had Lillian Morris. She was very emotional and would cry at the drop of a hat...and became Fairplay's personal Butt Monkey. After a bit of Fridge Brilliance where he avoided elimination at the final four and had to face two people who weren't good competitors, Lil immediately takes to the final immunity challenge and doesn't move a muscle, while Fairplay starts trying to cut a deal, only for Lil to constantly shoot him down and taunt him to break down his spirit.
  • Hiro of Heroes is a Wrong Genre Savvy Otaku who spends most of each season suffering from severe Plot Induced Stupidity. But when he gets his act together and wades into the fight, he will own you. He has basically singlehandedly defeated Sylar (a couple of times), two seasonal Big Bads, and an entire government black ops agency. The only villain on the show who was ever any match for him was Arthur Petrelli, who had his same power (among many others).
  • Walter Sherman of The Finder seems a harmless, goofy man who's just two steps short of an institution. It's not until he's strung out from a bad Find and faced with three bad guys that we're reminded he was an Iraq veteran. He does so by killing two of them with their own guns before snapping the last one's neck.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Inverted with Japanese singer Gackt. He often portrays himself on TV as a stoic Badass with few emotions and exceptional martial arts skills...until he answers a silly or private question, thus revealing himself as a hidden dork with a habit of saying goofy or embarassing things.
    • This is especially evident in Gackt's later "Platinum Box" DVDs. No matter how hard he tries to remain serious and stoic, his bandmates will always reduce him to hysterics with their shenanigans, shattering his well-practiced persona.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In an early Bloom County strip, Opus serves as the bouncer at a New Years Eve party. Seems pretty stupid, until he drags a particularly large, menacing looking guy down under the bar, then asks for some rope.
    • And if you are a mime, do not taunt Opus or he will beat you down. With a salami!
      • Wasn't it an olive loaf?
  • Typically, the Crocodiles in Pearls Before Swine are Too Dumb to Live (oftentimes literally so). But on one occassion, Rat, in a variation of the Pied Piper, used music to lead stupid people to a lake to drown them. When he attempted to do this to the Crocs, he gloated about this, and in an uncharacteristically angry (but characteristically badly-pronounced) reply, one croc mentioned "We can sweem."
    • This could be Canon Discontinuity (which Stephan Pastis is infamous for), because an earlier strip had one of the crocs drown in a kiddie pool because he couldn't swim.
  • Satchel from Get Fuzzy. The guy has about half the IQ of a rock, but as Bucky is often reminded, pushing Satchel too far is a very bad idea.


Pro Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • WWE worker Festus has this as his entire gimmick. Most of the time, he was little short of catatonic, staring blankly into space with his tongue hanging out as his tag team partner Jesse dragged him around. However, when the ring bell rang, he would wake up and destroy all of his opponents, and would not let up until the bell sounded the end of the match.
    • Unfortunately for Festus, several of his opponents (notably The Miz and John Morrison) have shown themselves to be fairly Genre Savvy in using this against him.
      • Doink the Clown (when he started out) was an evil version of this trope.
  • Pro Wrestling has a long-standing tradition of mental retardation as a gimmick. Interestingly, they always "mark" these wrestlers through behavior or attire.
    • The most famous would be turnbuckle eating. George "The Animal" Steele would use this gimmick to show he was crazy, however, he copied it from earlier wrestlers, like Antonio Pugliese.
    • Nick "Eugene" Dinsmore would act like Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man, as well as wear two large foam hands.
  • Maria was a WWE diva so vapid she could leave viewers wondering how she hadn't died from forgetting to breathe but apparently possessed an impressive breadth of knowledge about law.
  • Santino Marella is probably one of the silliest guys on the roster, but when the man does have genuine wrestling skill and now that he's taken a few levels in badass, he's cleanly won quite a few matches and even become US Champion.


Sports[edit | hide]

  • Pick any sportsperson who occasionally excels in a discipline within their sport that they aren't expected to. Australian cricketer Jason Gillespie once famously scored 201 not out after being temporarily promoted in the batting order as a "nightwatchman" - the only batsman with an average under 20 ever to achieve this milestone. The very important qualifier is that this was against the highly unskilled Bangladesh, but that doesn't explain how he was able to outperform the other five batsman who batted before Australia's declaration, all of whom had averages roughly two and a half times that of Gillespie. To top it off, Gillespie took 3/11 in his professional role as a bowler in Bangladesh's first innnings.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Autistic Psychic Savant class in Palladium's Beyond The Supernatural game pretty much has to be this trope. Most of the time, they can barely communicate, but in the presence of supernatural evil they prove to be smarter and more powerful than anyone else.
  • Jerry-R-Igg, one of the characters in the Paranoia Second Edition sample adventure, is a total coward, constantly freaking out at the slightest thing...while anyone's looking. Truth is, all of that's a front. As soon as he's sure nobody can report it back to the Computer, he becomes Captain X-Cess, standout in Deth Leopard and lover of Stuff Blowing Up (one of his possessions is a set of explosives disguised as snack food).
  • Orcs/orks from Warhammer Fantasy Battle and 40k. Just...yeah.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Leaf Coneybear from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is an airhead until he is asked to spell a word, at which point he turns into a scary blinking robot and gives the right answer.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In World of Warcraft, prior to the release of the Wrath of The Lich King expansion, a Hunter using the Survival talent tree was an example of this trope. Survival was the least played class/spec combination in the game, at somewhere between 3-7% of the overall playerbase, and was generally ridiculed. During an Expose Weakness, or ten second Deterrence proc, however, things changed. The spec went from a typical DPS output of 400 outside an instance, (barely enough to kill non-elite mobs during questing) during "crouching moron," mode, to 1200 when appropriately raid buffed and proccing EW. The dodge/parry chance during a ten second Deterrence activation also doubled, sometimes reaching a potential maximum of 110%; which meant that Surv could theoretically (and often did, practically) finish tanking 75%+ dead raid bosses after the main Warrior or Paladin tank died.
  • In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Rozalin shows off a particularly fearsome variant of this. Having spent her entire, pampered life in a palace, surrounded by servants waiting on her every whim, she's a complete novice when it comes to fighting (thus giving the hero, Adell, an excellent opportunity to explain the combat-system to her...) It's up to the player how much he wants to level her, but she'll probably still only be around level 50 when you first encounter, and are soundly defeated by, a level 1200 Overlord. At which point a seal is broken, and she suddenly jumps to level 1700, learns a world-destroying special move, and kicks seven different shades of ass. Afterwards, when she snaps out of it, she's got no idea what happened.
  • The King of Fighters has a game play example in Hotaru Futuba. Sure she looks harmless and is usually so personality wise, but in the hands of a competent player, she's an utter monster.
  • Arado Balanga of Super Robot Wars Original Generations is exactly like this. He's normally a reckless idiot who gets shot down more than not, but if his partner Seolla (who he was trained to work as a perfect partner to) is threatened with death, he'll be there to take it and go down in flames and utterly kick ass.
    • Though it is worth mentioning that Arado isn't necessarily a bad pilot by normal means. His tendency to get shot done most of the time is because early on he was stuck using long ranged machines when he had been trained exclusively in close ranged combat. Once he gets his eventual upgrade to a mech that better suits his skills, the other characters note that his piloting performance goes way up, even without Seolla around.
  • Demyx from Kingdom Hearts II is the villainous embodiment of this trope. His clumsy, cowardly, scatterbrained personality was stressed so much that even Jiminy's Journal called him "a poor fighter". He isn't. It should be noted, however, that because he is a philosophical zombie, technically any personality he takes on is fabricated.

Demyx: Aww, we do too have hearts! Don't be mad!

  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, we are introduced once more to Johnny Sasaki, who had spent a majority of the earlier games on the toilet. This time around, however, his cowardice proves to be a hidden strength, as his fear of needles leaves him without nanomachines, making him immune to the Big Bad's trump card. Along with The Power of Love, this leads him to develop amazing Gun Fu and sniping skills.
    • And turned right back around for comedic effect in multiplayer, where Johnny's lack of nanomachines robs him of SOP-linking and the benefits it provides; if you try to link while standing still, he does an anime pose, and if you try while running, he does a Rainbow Six-esque hand signal. He also can't do CQC and will flail hilariously if you try. His diarrhea, however, turns him into a walking gas grenade as it will incapacitate anyone he runs by.
  • A less specific example would be RPG characters with a Limit Break. Your reg'lar everyday Designated Hero suddenly wipes the floor with every single one of those Goddamned Bats. The one that springs to mind is Selphie Tilmitt in Final Fantasy VIII, who is essentially a young blonde airhead, but can pull an attack that instantly defeats anything. Yes, anything. Armoured Slimes, Goddamned Bats, That One Boss, the Big Bad of the entire game—you name it, The End kills it. Suddenly Selphie doesn't seem so innocent...
    • What's more is that the attack (like her personality) seems pretty innocent. How you say? It's a beautiful field of flowers that appears on screen, that's it.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness, Wigglytuff seems to be nothing more than a simple, Perfect Apple-loving, uber-happy goof of a Pokémon. But if he gets upset, you'll find out exactly why Chatot seems to fear his temper.
    • The additional side stories for Wigglytuff (as a child Igglybuff) and for Team Charm from Explorers of Sky further explains this. Wigglytuff has a tremendous talent for solving puzzles and getting through traps, almost accidentally, hidden beneath the overtly cheerful demeanor. No wonder he's a Guildmaster despite seeming totally clueless.
  • King Trode from Dragon Quest VIII would be a great example. He spends most of the game just sitting in the wagon and generally complaining about various things like his curse or how you haven't found Dhoulmagus yet. But in the ending? He can be seen beating up several Argonian guards. His weapon of choice? A twig. You heard me. He beats up men twice his size, who are reportedly tough enough to kill Argon lizards, and he does it with a 2-inch piece of tree wood.
  • In Pokemon, at first Whitney seems like a generic teenage girl, with some Genki Girl mixed in. However she's renowned by the fanbase as being one of the hardest gym leaders in the games due to her Milktank.
  • Grit from Advance Wars is a top-notch distance weapons specialist (And considered an overpowered CO in earlier games by the players), but he hardly ever shows it due to his incredibly laid-back, agreeable demeanor.
  • Touhou Project is positively brimming with examples of this trope. Shall we start with Yukari Yakumo herself, wielder of powers far beyond godly who nonetheless prefers to spend her time goofing around, bothering Reimu, and generally acting like a little trickster imp? Or Yuyuko Saigyouji, who is genuinely amiable and nice and enjoys a good meal and sake under the cherry blossoms far more than anything else in the world, but who has been heavily implied by the author to know a lot more than she lets on, being able to keep up with aforementioned Yukari? (Not to mention her power is to cause the death in anything that can die.) Maybe Komachi Onozuka, who is a God of Death and the Ferryman of the Dead—and also a complete slacker who runs low on her quota of souls ferried because she prefers to lay down near the Styx and catch a shuteye or twenty? Or Suika Ibuki, a little girl who looks like a perpetually-tanked seven year old with horns and an unquenchable thirst for parties -- and can also bench-press a mountain? All in all, when you're in Gensokyo it certainly pays to not underestimate whatever little girls you may find.
    • Conversely, Rumia, the youkai of Darkness. She consistently walks into trees (the powers of Darkness rendering her blind), is nearly harmless, and is sought out by people hoping to evade the sun on hot summer days.
    • Also, Flandre Scarlet, an eternal (literally) Cheerful Child who loves to play with the humans who visit her home, and has absolutely no control over her ridonkulous levels of magical power. Even Marisa, who has faced all of those mentioned above and then some, makes it a point to avoid ever meeting Flandre whenever she goes to the Scarlet Mansion to steal books, not-so-subtly implying that she scares the crap out of her.
    • Also deserving of her own bullet-point is Cirno after starring in her own Gaiden Game, Great Fairy Wars. For all that she's rightfully regarded as the series dumbass, she shows the near-unique ability to destroy enemy projectiles in flight without using a spellcard.[1] Also, unlike every other PC, who only get knocked around when they lose a life until they take enough minor injuries/ClothingDamage to have lost a fight, Cirno out and out dies every time she gets hit, letting her fairy-issue resurrective Immortality take over before flying back onto the field, unfazed.
  • The Black Baron of MadWorld. An Uncle Tomfoolery who is constantly killed by his own deathtraps and girlfriend, it's hard to believe he poses any real threat, even when he turns out to be the final boss. Most players saw an easy fight...and then he goes Super Saiyan, kicks at you with lightning and punches you with a black hole. Sadly, when he meets his final end, he's reverted back to his moron stage.
  • In one instance of The Lord of the Rings Online, Radagast the Brown walks through a wight-infested swamp talking to little animals while the players have to fight all around him. In the end, he incapacitates who seems to be the endboss with a single hit, saving the players.
  • Emil Castagnier from Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World might qualify, as he becomes much stronger in battle. At least, in the beginning. As the game progresses, this 'Ratatosk Mode' seems to appear more often, usually when Marta is in trouble.
    • In this case, Emil seems to take a leaflet out of Neville's book here; over time, Emil loses the coward part of himself, even pulling a few moments of role reversal on Marta when the latter isn't up to her best (the pair lampshade this in an aptly named skit named "Role Reversal"). In fact, in the very last chapter of the game, he out and out seals away the Ratatosk side of his personality, and you get to play as Emil himself in battles from that point onward.
  • Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros., when she decides to fight. Especially her Super Smash Bros. Brawl incarnation.
    • Even more so in the "Super Mario Adventures" comics where, after being kidnapped by Bowser, she easily breaks herself out, finds out Mario has been captured trying to rescue her and proceeds to break back in and rescue Mario.
    • Luigi is a better known example.
      • If he was stupid. He's actually stated to be the brains of the bros. Mario is a doctor.
    • Toad fits into this as well.
  • One could argue whether Mario himself, a somewhat clumsy pasta-obsessed plumber fits into this category as well. Especially evident in the DiC Entertainment cartoons.
  • Dan Hibiki...sort of. In canon, he's a horrible fighter who's way too full of himself for his own good. In-game, however, he's a Lethal Joke Character (or, in the case of Street Fighter IV, just plain lethal.)
  • Travis Touchdown, the main character of the No More Heroes series, is a very skilled swordsman, Made of Iron, can move at superhuman speeds and transform into a tiger, owns a Humongous Mecha the size of a large building and could probably cut an average human to pieces in the blink of an eye...if he's not too busy pleasuring himself to Moe Anime, playing video games, or clumsily hitting on his female opponents..
  • The Vortigaunts in the Half Life series are an entire species of this trope. In Half-Life and its expansions they're a relatively weak mid-level enemy slaughtered by the dozens and used as manual labourers by the more powerful members of the Nihilanth's army. By Half-Life 2 they are freed from their enforced servitude and join Earth's La Résistance against the Combine, providing Gordon with cryptic statements and the occasional charge for his HEV suit. At the beginning of Episode One however they render the nigh-unstoppable GMan completely powerless, saving Gordon and Alyx in the process, and when three of them are faced with an army of Antlions in Episode Two they proceed to slaughter every last one, then use what is essentially Antlion feces to raise Alyx from the dead. Given that they were at the time also hunting and presumably killing the horrifically powerful Combine Advisors, hopefully they will return for the expected battle/s with them in Episode Three.
  • Maeda Keiji from Sengoku Basara is usually a laidback, jovial guy who enjoys drinking, pulling pranks, chasing girls and generally goofing around. However if you dare to hurt his friends, family or any innocent person when he's around, you'd better get the fuck out before he either punches you in the face or cuts you neatly in half with his BFS.
  • Dick Gumshoe in Ace Attorney. He barely passes as a detective (and then he got Flanderised) and despite his woobiesh qualities, he deserves most of the punishment he gets for his screw ups. But when someone he cares about is in danger, like Edgeworth, Maggey or Maya, he gains a drastic burst in competence. In 3-3, he's a surprisingly accurate source of information for Phoenix, gives the more important pieces of evidence to him and stands up to Tigre without even blinking, saving Wright and Maya from a possibly gruesome conclusion. All for his crush, Maggey.
    • Gumshoe has fought of members of both a Yakuza crime boss and a group of Mafia thugs, showing up the next day completely uninjured.
    • In the third case Investigations he repeatedly breaks away from Lang's men in order to give Edgeworth an important piece of information and in the fourth he actually pulls out a Big Damn Heroes moment. Though to be fair everyone was doing it by that point.
    • He was also part of an investigation where armed SWAT teams tracked an assassin, lead them to his hideout and steal vital evidence from the hideout while there was a firefight going on, then driving top speed to the courtroom through the busy LA streets, only stopping when he crashed, and even then, he was conscious and determined to keep going for a few seconds. He later turned up with little more than a bandaged head. Why did he do all this? His friend was in danger.
    • While you don't see it onscreen, the wimpy and easily-ignored Ron DeLite is also the Gentleman Thief Mask DeMasque.
    • Heck, Phoenix Wright himself. He's the world's Straight Man/Butt Monkey and often behest to the whims of his immature sidekicks, and in the first two years of his career defeated three of the best prosecutors out there—including one who had not lost a single case in forty years of practicing law.
    • And the head of the State Police force, and a man who can blackmail Presidents.
  • Missile in Ghost Trick.
  • "Enchantment!" That's right: do not piss off Sandal.
    • Hordes of hundreds of dead darkspawn did nothing more than get some blood on him. In the sequel, he freezes an Ogre solid and wipes out dozens of demons, up to and including a Pride Demon.
  • The Khajiit race in The Elder Scrolls series come across as quite thick. But just ask the wood-elves how their border-disputes with the Khajiit are going, the phrases 'vertical ambush' and 'terrifying humanoid lions' will probably come up.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Big the Cat. He was originally voiced by Jon St. John, is now voiced by Kamina, then Took a Level in Badass in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, when he started acting like a smart-ass. Now he can catch bullets out of mid-air and lift cars. He uses his fishing rod as flaming projectile and is capable of swinging it like a ball on a chain, usually taking out any enemy on screen. Oh and as mellow as he is, don't threaten one of his friends, especially Froggy or Cream.
  • Katze Kotolnos from Endless Frontier is a Camp Gay cat person who is constantly making passes at protagonist Haken Browning. Then there comes a point where you have to fight him and he proceeds to kick your ass with his hands in his pockets. When you first fight him, he fights alongside Ezel, who you've been chasing for a while, and who wears an intimidating skull helmet and looks like a total Badass. Katze is the more dangerous of the two.
  • Hewie of the H-Game Castle Fantasia 2 Renewal is this to degree. He acts a carefree moron who always sent one of his team member angry over and over again, but turns out he's a very great war strategist.
  • Piu-Piu of the Chaos Rings series for IOS devices. He's a short, weird looking humanoid who runs his mouth about random stuff, owns a shop to sell weapons, armor and other items is a greedy bastard, a cheapskate, and such a God-damn perve that when they tried to create the first Agent Prototype off of his given up perversion, it created a giant, red demon named Libido. He's the least likely person but then you realize in the second playthrough of the game that he actually is the leading scientist behind the Ark Project and that it was him who actually built the Ark spaceship and discovered Time Travelling. Then you make the mistake of challenging him, which makes you enter a bonus boss battle so hard that it would give every other boss in the game a run for their money.

The Aforementioned Boss: "I love you guys!" *shoots a giant Qualia jack-n-the-box at you*

  • Cielo in Digital Devil Saga. Usually a calm and cheery ALBINO BRAZILIAN WITH JAMAICAN ACCENT, untill a guy from the security eats his comrades in order to get power. Cielo proceeds to make a badass speech. There's also the time that in order to protect Sera and Serph, he destroys two fighter jets by chewing on their pilots and cutting their wings, dying in the explosion.
  • Karl Blaine in Just Cause 2. Even before Rico meets him, he's established as the unreliable, comedy relief contact on the island nation who you have to rescue from a government sting. Later, Blaine's captured and successfully interrogated as years as a drunk in a tropical paradise have left him soft and out of practice as a spy. Much later, during Rico's assault on the evil president's hideout, Blaine sneaks out of his cell BY HIMSELF, and gets past the ninja guard to suicide bomb the President without any assistance from Rico. This doesn't stop Rico from taunting him for giving into the torture, however.
  • Tyrell in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn nearly qualifies for a Darwin Award in his intro cutscene and has to be rescued from his own stupidity, firmly establishing him as the "act before you think" type. Then he freaking jumps Arcanus at Luna Tower. He gets pwned, naturally, but in the last dungeon he starts making death threats. Yes, to goddamn ALEX.
  • Roger Wilco will even admit he's far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. Hell, he's a marginally competent janitor who is prone to taking on-shift naps in the closet. When "it" hits fan, though? Tricks a nasty creature twice his size into blowing itself up. Kills an entire ship worth of Sariens to prevent them from nuking his home planet. Stops an evil genius from invading his home planet with a clone army (granted, it was an army of insurance salesmen...), rescues two programmers from slavery and beats their Bad Boss with a Humongous Mecha, destroyed the evil genius in a rematch after the evil genius took over his homeworld, took down the Confederation's shiny flagship with a garbage scow, and stopped another mad scientist from committing Grand Theft Me on a close friend. Do not piss off the Almighty Janitor!
  • Crash Bandicoot isn't particularly smart, he has a terrible attention span and can't even speak English for the most part. He has also consistently beaten the evil schemes of Cortex and any other Big Bad Wumpa Island has faced for "fifteen flippin' years" now. Oh, and don't hurt his little sister, especially if you value your throat...
  • Laguna is this in Final Fantasy VIII and Dissidia Final Fantasy Duodecim. In the original game he's a goofy, laidback soldier with a terrible sense of direction who becomes the head of a rebellion to overthrow a sorceress and then the leader of the world's largest and most advanced nation. In Dissidia, he's as goofy and directionless as ever, is the only character to have no magic but still stands up to world destroying demi-gods like Sephiroth, Kefka and Exdeath. His boss is Cloud of Darkness, who is literally the personification of darkness itself.
    • If not even Vaan takes your directions seriously, then you go ahead and snipe Chaos you're probably this.
  • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: Link probably qualifies. Tropers have already come to a consensus that he's all kinds of Badass-- adorable, normal and abnormal among them—but he also happens to be, quite possibly, the most laid-back of his ilk, hero-wise. The beginning of Wind Waker also makes him the designated Butt Monkey. This culminates in a sweet, goofy protagonist who will rip you limb from limb if you even look at his sister the wrong way.
    • The manga adapation of Ocarina of Time seems to interpret Link this way, in contrast to his very serious and stoic appearance in the game. He's very sweetly boyish and mischievous, at times outright silly and clumsy, up through a large part of the manga - at least until the Bad Future elements of the adult section start to sink in.
  • Skyrim: Cicero the jester. He's a crazy loon dressed up like a complete idiot. He's also the Keeper of the Night Mother (meaning he was chosen by the Void to be the Night Mother's protector) and a deadly knife fighter. When he snaps after Astrid dismisses the Night Mother one time too many, he nearly kills the entire Dark Brotherhood in his fury. The guy who pursues him—a werewolf—nearly gets gutted for his troubles, while Cicero is apparently unharmed though he plays possum.
  • The shopkeeper from the Fantasy Quest turns out rather more adept that his demeanor suggests.
  • Valvatorez from Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten is a gullible space-case Prinny Instructor that's more than a little bit preoccupied with sardines. He is also the only demon The Most Badass Frickin' Overlord in All the Cosmos considers a Worthy Opponent -- and this is after he's been depowered.
  • Wheatley from Portal 2. The "moron" is intentional as he's "the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived." This, however, precludes the fact that he was the person who woke Chell in the first place, willingly performed a series of personal efforts that he had been told would kill him, came up with the plan to sabotage GLaDOS's turret production and neurotoxin production, sprung a well-played trap, and demonstrated an incredible amount of foresight when it came time for the final battle. In the last case, Cutscene Power to the Max is the only reason Chell survives; without that, Wheatley would have succeed where GLaDOS failed.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Skull the Troll from Pv P Online is a textbook case. Normally child-like, naive, and harmless, but deep down he is still a fierce mythical beast, whose more than capable of holding his own in an epic battle scene.
    • He's such a crouching moron, that while he's fighitng the Big Bad, his own teamates assume he has run and hid.
    • Also more recently, he's shown catching a war hammer in one hand.
  • Gamzee Makara from Homestuck. He starts being introduced as the most useless of the trolls. But we later find out from references that in the trolls' final battle in their session, Gamzee did more damage to the Black King than anybody else, which shocked his teammates and their opponent. When he's cut off from his mind-rotting sopor pies, he also becomes sadistic, competent and utterly terrifying as he declares he will murder all his friends. He's off to a good start.
    • Also John, who is by now the most powerful out of his group of friends, being the only one to have reached his God Tiers so far despite being the most "average kid-like" out of all of them. He's also managed to masterfully counter-Troll Karkat despite apparently being the most naive and innocent of them all (with the possible exception of Jade).
    • Courtyard Droll, despite being a complete idiot, still managed to kill both Jake's dream self and Jade, albiet in incredibly stupid ways. At this point, He's the only one of the four agents in the post scratch universe to succeed in his mission; Jane came back to life after Jack stabbed her, Dirk killed the Hegemonic Brute when he was attacked, and Roxy has gone Rogue.
  • Gabe, from Penny Arcade while occasionally homicidal on his own, ups this to eleven when in possession of a certain cardboard tube.
  • Ray from Achewood happens to be the son of Ramses Luther Smuckles, an all-around badass and one of the most celebrated brawlers in American history. He enters the Great Outdoor Fight with essentially no training but manages to destroy a number of stronger men when his best friend Roast Beef is apparently in danger and his latent fighting instincts are aroused.
    • For example: during the GOF, another army leader (in the GOF, the first few days involve groups of fighters forming ad-hoc armies led by the most badass members) approached Ray at night, knocking him to the ground and calling him a coward and a liar. Ray's response? He ripped the dude's face off with his bare hands.
  • Zap Vexler from Zap is a prime example. Huge Psychic Powers are usually triggered by threats towards his crush, Reona. The first example is here. Don't make fun of his hair, either. Recently revealed to suffer from Amnesiac Dissonance, with his former self being a powerful psychic out to Take Over the World.
  • Trace from Twokinds is basically the same, only substituting Functional Magic for Psychic Powers. His powers mostly makes an appearance when he needs to protect Flora, his Catgirl girlfriend. Had a full-blown Amnesiac Dissonance meets Super-Powered Evil Side episode, but is currently tending towards The Messiah.
  • Arguably Liquid Snake of The Last Days of Foxhound also applies, considering it's been implied that despite his borderline idiotic behavior he is in reality a killing machine, but has lost the majority of his skills due to an accident caused by his overly aggressive behavior. He gets more intelligent as the comic moves closer to the events of the Shadow Moses rebellion of Metal Gear Solid.
  • Both Joyce and Walky from It's Walky! fall under this. Joyce in particular is ordinarily a complete innocent, with a passion for puppies, stuffed animals, and all things pink and frilly. However, if you push her just far enough... whoops, maybe that was a bit too far.

Big Boss: How's Joyce doing? Why has she made no progress?
Professor Doc: Big Boss, we can't afford to fix her! Do you know how many times she's saved the world's collective ass with her psychotic outbursts?
Big Boss: Three.
Professor Doc: Well, I'm holding out for five.

Fighter: Cool. Because friends look out for one another and we're friends, but Black Mage is my best friend. Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds. Hint.

    • He once used his swords as chainsaws to destroy an entire flight of unstoppable dragons just because he was too stupid to realize said action was impossible.
    • Not to mention he once survived a fall of several thousand feet by blocking the planet before it hit him. Seriously.

Fighter: It's not the fall that kills you, but the ground. So I just blocked the ground.

  • Smoke from WTF Comics, starting as a little pocket Monk with seemingly no real battle capabilities besides dodging things, until Nikisha stabs Anna in front of him, and make him go "all out" in rage with annihilating an entire bridge of Mooks along with the bridge itself under them, nearly killing her too in the process.
    • Oh, and did we mention that he can also teleport, modify his own perception of time, resurrect the dead, and see the very fabric of the Timespace around him?
  • In a couple of Ctrl+Alt+Del comics starring the "players" (homicidal gamers with the tendency to carry out in-game vendettas in real life), Player 3 makes an appearance. He's normally laid-back and "normal", but can turn homicidal if threatened...
    • While lacking the Crouching Moron element, Lilah is notable for having insanely good game playing skills whenever she's really angry with Ethan.
  • Xykon in Order of the Stick. He's funny and a fan of what one might call "Leeroy Tactics". However, if you challenge his reputation, he'll smash the whole ceiling on you. And gods help you if you lose his phylactery...
    • Also, Elan. He may have literally taken a level in badass, but he's still The Ditz most of the time.
      • Ah, but he's a Ditz with a firm grasp of "bardic tradition," so much that he has accurately predicted future events based solely on how good a story they'd make.
    • The Monster in the Dark is also a nearly textbook example. He's pretty much a moron (although he has been thinking a bit more lately since his friendship with O'Chul), and a Minion with an F In Evil, but he's been shown to actually be ridiculously powerful, to the point where stomping his foot causes a major earthquake.
  • In The KAMics, Gertrude and Brunhilda are normally comic bumblers, but when their sister was in trouble, glowing eyes and dead Mooks followed.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Torg, despite taking a few levels in badass over the years, is still mostly just a goofy, not-too-bright guy that everyone treats as pretty harmless. Probably best exemplified in this strip:

Riff: Dude! When did you learn to kick ass?
Torg: I've been taking an Internet college correspondence course in kickass.
Riff: You have not.
Torg: But I so want to teach one!

    • Riff is a milder (or more complicated) example. He's superficially cool much of the time, but under that "strong and silent" act he rivals Torg in stereotypic male dumbness (and beats him in insensitivity); in the presence of the opposite sex, whenever he tries to do anything but look cool, he puts his foot in his mouth and becomes a total fool. However, he's right at home being a Badass action hero or heroic leader when the right opportunity arises. So in this case you might actually miss the "moron" part of the trope if you only saw the superficial everyday coolness and the hero mode.
  • Daniel "Dan" Ti'Fiona of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures is technically a hero—graduated from Adventuring School and with titles to match. His friends, however, doesn't really take it seriously, what with him usually being bungling, lazy, caught up in romantic mishaps, and getting transformed into a woman. However, when faced with old enemies, he'll usually lose his shirt, narrow his eyes, and demonstrate that he IS, in fact, worthy of those titles. With the later addition of Cubi powers, this transformation has reached the level of 'make a demon piss her pants and run like hell'.
    • Dan's best friend, and the other half of the title, Mab, also qualifies, though for different reasons. She generally seems innocent-to-downright-nuts, with her main hobby being 'hugging things', feared mostly for her nightmare-inducing brownies...however, she IS a Fae, and resultingly, has god-level magical abilities - and when forced to use them, she can frighten ANYONE into submission - and then go right back to her perky, airheaded self again. Also, it turns out she's actually a Magnificent Bastard above all other Magnificent Bastards, plotting out everything, including the path that the Omniscient Council of Vagueness will take, in order to create the best possible future. She knows who will live and who will die. She just doesn't know how to bake.
      • By extension, this applies to pretty much the entire Fae race - Mab is merely the one most often found mixed up in the main plot. Being superdimentional beings of pure magic and/or insanity will do that to a race.
  • Subverted in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja as he is more of a Crouching Badass Hidden Moron.
  • Hod from Brat Halla is one of these after he Took a Level in Badass. His brothers have a thing for it as well tough. And his father. And his mother. And his back-up dad...
  • Stanley the Tool from Erfworld, who on first appearance seems more concerned with the fact his MacGuffin turns walnuts into pigeons when cracked than the impending destruction of his forces. Then he decks Chief Warlord Caeser in one hit.
  • Ordog from Out at Home is a tiny, frail, senile old man who doesn't know where he is half the time. But he will kick your ass.
  • Diva Beelze from Evil Diva is kind of a little...silly, but she's pretty bad ass in chapter 2 in that she beats the crap out of the devil thugs without hardly doing anything. She has the super special wand but...so did Sailor Moon!
  • Sir Muir, a scarred old Darsai knight from the webcomic Harkovast appears to be a prattling, senile goofball when nothing exciting is happening. However he proves that he's quite a competent (though distractible) fighter when the situation calls for it.
  • Kharla'ggen from Drowtales plays with rubber duckies and rarely, if ever, utters a complete sentence. Her guards barely care about their job. But she's the leader of one of the major clans in the setting and her laissez-faire rule is undisputed because she also likes to play with dolls. Her power is such that in a side-story she was able to 'play' with a greater demon, made of a composite of lesser demons, who collectively barely escaped with their lives.
  • Buwaro from Slightly Damned is like this without his star pendent.
  • Hanna of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name is usually adorably ditzy and easygoing. However, do anything to hurt one of his friends like possessing them and he will fuck you up something fierce.
  • Eddie from Emergency Exit, if hit in the head.
  • Gregory of Dominic Deegan. Loves making couch forts. Can take on about a dozen members of the Chosen by himself.
    • May run in the family. Consider Donovan—a bard, prone to bad jokes and worse puns, horrendous at speaking Orcish (Or is he?), and by all appearances an utter goofball. He is also a world-class swordsman, helped save the world from a demonic invasion, and was one of the few humans to receive a tattoo from the orcs that basically translates as "The dude wearing this is freaking awesome."
  • Dave from Narbonic is the Butt Monkey and Unlucky Everydude for most of the strip's run, until the final few chapters where it's revealed that he's the most powerful and dangerous character in the whole series.
  • Tip from Skin Horse is generally considered the laughingstock of the eponymous organization - even next to a talking Canadian dog and a sociopathic zombie girl. Then he turns out to have gone through Afghanistan and have rescued three fellow soldiers from a burning humvee.
  • Those three Jägermonsters (Dimo, Maxim, Ognian) from Girl Genius known as Da Boyz. They're goofy, not overly bright, and have silly accents. But sooner or later something goes down, and the reader is sharply reminded that Da Boyz are SuperSoldiers, over two hundred years old, unwaveringly loyal to the House of Heterodyne, and quite capable of beating pretty much anything into a pulp.
  • Soul Symphony What's the first thing John does when he wakes up in the Soul World and first learns about magic? He kills an enemy in one punch, and then kills six more using a basketball. This is before the protagonist managed to even hurt any of them.
  • Crusader of Jayden and Crusader is a mild mannered artist often subject to the whims of his more extravagantly crazy house mates. But by god, if you threaten his friends, you'd better be prepared for the consequences.
  • Arthur Wight of Suppression is introduced getting ordered around by his daughter, who looks to be all of ten. He mopes, chain smokes, and trails around behind Maxwell, right up until he takes on Red Cerene and cuts her in half without once showing more effort than "yeah, I'm evil, cause...yannow."
  • Bill of Legend of Bill is a wannabe barbarian hero with no actual fighting skills. Given that the strip is generally humorous, it's easy to assume that the title is a joke. Then this happens. And this.
  • Zac of What the Fu obscurity may have a "negligible amount of clues", but he's a pretty competent fighter.
  • Denver in Exiern, usually a bumbling nerd, in fact he is a bumbling, lovable, nerd. Hurt someone he likes and he'll smash open giant solid oak doors with his bare hands, or rewrite the laws of magic with a gesture.
  • Grymm from Voodoo Walrus tends to be light-hearted, silly, and more than a little oblivious to the world around him. But more than a few times he's switched to his badass alter ego of the Masked T-Square to take care of serious business. He also seems to be far more level headed and even uncharacteristically manipulative while portraying this character.
    • Though recently the creators seem to be pushing the idea that Grymm and the Masked T-Square aren't even the same person despite multiple past pages existing as proof.
  • Donald from Dark Legacy Comics is shown to be Too Dumb to Live and is completely useless at fighting (and pretty much everything). However during a Raid Boss the group had been stuck at for three months, Nyte whispered something that caused Donald to lose it and slice his head off in a single strike.

Donald: WHY DID YOU EAT SANTA YOU BIG BLUE MEAN FFFUCK?!

  • Mr. Fish from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things does it twice over. He's a Gyrados, and was Jared's worse-than-useless starter Pokémon when he was a Magikarp... right until he evolved, which is true to the original source material. After he's introduced though, he's not very bright, has trouble fitting in the corridors, and tends to eat people (including his trainer), but if you manage to get him to an actual fight, he will Hyper Beam anything in his way.

Jared: I didn't know... I didn't know he was a laser fish.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Subverted with Arthur Williams in Survival of the Fittest, who shoves aside his shyness and fear, charging an armed player in order to save a hostage, and gets shot in the face for his trouble. Paul Smith, also from Survival of the Fittest is usually a Chivalrous Pervert, pretty goofy and laid back—very much a comic relief character. However, from time to time, he almost seems to "switch on" and become one hell of a lot more dangerous. And try lethally dangerous.
  • Essentially the entire core cast of Mega 64, but special mention should go to Sean and Horatio. Do not make them mad.
  • In Red vs. Blue Caboose is usually a complete idiot who loads his gun with crayons and keeps killing his teammates, however in episode 40 Caboose thought about everything that made him angry (spiky kittens, Red bull and Babies) and was able to kill every single one of the flag obsessed zealots in about 10 seconds.
    • This also happens to Tucker. He's as useless as anybody else until he gets his sword and, even then, he only shows brief moments of competence. However, in the final few episodes of the Blood Gulch Chronicles, he manages to defeat Wyoming and Gamma, quickly becomes a master sniper, and actually proves to be a pretty good leader for the blue team (a job which he was too lazy to accept previously). By the time he reappears in Recreation, he's mastered his sword as well and is able to destroy C.T.'s Warthog with one well-timed swipe. At this point, he's one of the most competent non-freelancer characters in the series.
      • All without losing his ("Bow Chicka Bow Wow") annoying/endearing original personality traits.
  • Homestar Runner is one of the most idiotic characters to hit the internet. In "The Strongest Man in the World", he bicycle kicks the Cheat, while upside down, into the far horizon
    • In 4 Branches, it's mentioned that Homestar's stupidity occasionally reaches such heights that it "flips back to start", and shows him answering the calculation "2 + 2" by defining Coulomb's law. When this is pointed out, he reverts to normal, revising his answer as "22".
  • Tristan from Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series. A ditz to the max - however, as he puts it, "My voice gives me super strength!"
    • "Yeah, I can break necks with my mind."
  • When he's not reviewing movies, The Nostalgia Critic is a mix of The Ditz and a loser. But apparently he's a good enough gamer to absolutely whup Angry Joe's ass at Marvel Vs. Capcom.
  • Linkara from Atop the Fourth Wall is a nerd who reviews comic books for a living. He also has the power to manifest, invent, or contact any fictional person or thing. His standard weapon is his magic gun, but he's also found often using his Power Rangers Morpher, a Star Trek phaser, the giant robot death machine Neutro, a Pokéball with Pyramid Head in it, and several other things. He has used this to defeat Vyse, a Multiversal Conqueror, amongst other enemies.
  • Paul of Loading Ready Run. Ridiculously techy, he can make anything from time machines to nerf rocket launchers from the junk in his garage.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Popeye.
  • The Flash, in Justice League Unlimited appears to fall into this category. For the most part he's a goofy dope who doesn't take much seriously and is always the one to crack a joke at the expense of drama and badass-ism. However his role is not to be underestimated (in one universe his death motivated the League to turn into a totalitarian dictatorship). Many people found it surprising to discover he's a forensic scientist in his normal identity. His big transforming moment, however, came during his Crowning Moment Of Awesome in the episode "Divided We Fall" where he taps into the Speed Force, circumnavigates the entire globe several times in a matter of seconds in order to make his acceleration infinite to defeat Luthor-Brainiac by punching him with an infinite amount of force. All of a sudden he went from comic relief to downright dangerous.
    • Also during that battle, not only was he the first to defeat his Justice Lord robotic double (even though there wasn't one in the alternate universe), he was also the only one who wasn't effected by his double's Hannibal Lecture speech, meaning not only that he doesn't have any doubts in his abilities as a hero, but it furthers his role as the heart of the group.
      • Adding onto this, everyone else needed assistance on their double. He took his on single-handedly and was the first to finish. While everyone was busy with theirs, he just shrugged off the doubts his double was trying to create and whooped its metal ass.
    • Back in Justice League, when the team split up for an episode, Flash is attempting to interrogate a mook who insults his technique -- "You're no Batman." Flash drops him off a building, races down and catches him at the bottom. He got the info.
    • When Lex Luthor got ahold of his powers once, he almost took out the entire Watchtower single-handedly, effectively proving that Flash is far more powerful than most people realise. And not only that, he's aware of this, and so doesn't use his powers nearly as much as he could.
    • In his A Day in the Limelight episode, which climaxes with a three-on-three battle between The Flash, Batman, and Orion, and three members of Flash's rogue's gallery. And while the heroes were victorious, the Flash's museum is destroyed in the fighting. Rather than let this get to him, he jokes that "At least I got to be on TV!" Orion notes then that maybe The Flash's impatient, childish act is just that, an act.
    • In one episode, all the rest of the Justice League are infected by the shards of the Eclipso diamond and are trying to kill him, while he doesn't want to hurt any of them. He wins.
  • Cody from Total Drama Island may be the show's Casanova Wannabe and Butt Monkey, but during Total Drama Drama Drama Island he proves to be a good improviser when it comes to split second decisions, and just try beating him in dodgeball. I dare you.
  • Maggie from The Simpsons has her moments. She has shot people on two occasions—the first appeared to be an accident, but the second portrays her as a full-blown sniper.
    • She also saved Homer from drowning in one episode.
    • Or Homer himself; normally and idiot and a jerkass, he will frequently slip into a state of hypercompetency to solve the situation at hand.
    • Marge Simpson also has her moments. Like when she, um, rescued Lisa from an erupting volcano.
      • Marge was also a supercop who only quit because of the corruption on the police force, plus she beat up EVERYBODY in Moe's Tavern while she was a 'roided-up bodybuilder. Do NOT underestimate her, especially when you hit the Mama Bear's Berserk Button.
    • The entire Simpson family, and most of the secondary characters, have this trait. It's the Rule of Funny.
  • Droopy falls under this in several of his animated shorts. Repeatedly humiliated by his adversary, he never reacts...until it looks like he's about to lose "The Dame". Then he responds, in the same monotone as always, "You know what? That makes me mad." and can suddenly fling his enemy across the room with ease.
  • Ron from Kim Possible seems useless much of the time. His primary contribution to most missions appears to be serving as a distraction, and even after he's exposed to the Mystical Monkey Power, he admits that his skill at monkey kung fu "comes and goes." But when necessary (i.e. when Kim is busy, incapacitated, or not present), Ron displays extraordinary skill in both martial arts and general resourcefulness. As a matter of fact, when one reviews the majority of episodes, one finds that Ron is the person to actually foil the villain's plot du jour while Kim is keeping the help busy.
    • His Mystical Monkey Kung Fu is shown three times, especially in the Grand Finale where Ron suddenly becomes Badass enough to get a Chunky Updraft Battle Aura that Kim, Rufus and even Shego just stared at him while he beat those Aliens' asses.

Dr. Drakken: What happened?
Shego: I think the sidekick just stepped up...monkey-style!

  • Darkwing Duck. The change from incompetence to determination was usually signified by the Catch Phrase "Let's Get Dangerous!"
    • From the same show, Comet Guy also fits this trope. With as much power as Superman and fewer brain cells than Bizarro, this bumbling, moronic superhero manages to get his act together when Steelbeak threatens St-Canard with his remote controlled rubber wrecking ball.
  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender was an example of this trope in the first episodes whenever he tapped into the Avatar State. Character Development, a showcase of the fact that he is a master airbender, and the realization of how scary he is in the Avatar State contributes to the lessening of this carefree nature.
    • Iroh also didn't start as much more than a tea loving old man. That changed VERY quickly.
      • Made even funnier in that Iroh uses this trope as a disguise in Season Three.
    • And then of course there's Bumi. He appears to be an insane old man. And he is. He's also built like Arnold Schwarzenegger (normally concealed by his cloak) and one of the greatest Earthbenders in history.
      • When the Fire Nation attacked his city with overwhelming force, he surrendered and let them close him in a metal coffin to prevent him from Bending. When an eclipse stripped the Firebenders of their power, he bent with his face to break free of the coffin, kicked the Fire Nation out of his city and defaced Ozai's giant statue in less than eight minutes. I repeat, he defeated an army in less than eight minutes and still had enough time to deface a metal statue as big as Lady Liberty if not bigger, and then threw it down of a cliff. And he's an insane old man.
    • And then there's Sokka. At first he seems like a guy who wants to be a capable warrior but is constantly outstripped by the others. Then, as the series goes on, he turns into a Gadgeteer Genius who has a space sword and is a much more capable leader and a skilled fighter to boot, who has gone toe-to-toe and WON with such deadly foes as Mai, Wan Shi Tong, and Combustion Man.
  • Inspector Gadget, of all people, occasionally demonstrated this. When Penny and Brain were in real danger from Dr. Claw's traps in one or two episodes, the normally Too Dumb to Live Inspector would skilfully use his gadgets to save them.
  • On South Park, Pip becomes a super dodgeball player after being repeatedly insulted.
  • Captain Fanzone of Transformers Animated is often portrayed as the bumbling, technologically inept Comic Relief—although he's hardly Plucky. However...when it comes down to it, he shows remarkable resourcefulness and fairly good combat skills—in the episode "Survival of the Fittest", he manages to knock a monster twice his size to the floor with one punch.
    • And in "This Is Why I Hate Machines" he proves himself to be a damn fine cop, using the Autobots on Cybertron's apparent fear of organics to get information, as well as easily realizing he and Ratchet were being tailed by Jazz, and that he was on their side.
  • The Venture Bros: Dean Venture snaps and beats the crap out of Dermott, a kid twice his size, after Dermot insults Triana.
    • 21 and 24 are bumbling Mooks. However, thanks to being dangerously Genre Savvy, they can do things even the most competent henchmen wouldn't dare attempt. Well, until one of them and does something genre-dumb.

The Monarch: "I hate that those two are my best men."

    • Hank Venture tries to invoke this when rescuing his brother Dean from being married to Baron Underbheit, but fails. So it's really more like Crouching Moron Hidden...Moron.
      • Then Hank plays it straight in season 04's "Pomp and Circuitry." He tries to join SPHINX and passes every single test, including foiling Hunter and Shore Leave's intentions to mind-wipe him.
  • Odd Della Robia in Code Lyoko is often shown to be an impatient slacker, far more interested in his various dates and lunch than studying for classes or saving the world. His crappy grades and his many, many failed plans showcase just how stupid he appears to be, and he isn't faking this: he is pretty Book Dumb. However, his slacker attitude hides his rather impressive abilities, both physical and mental. He has no combat-related "powers" on Lyoko, but he doesn't need them to do well.
  • Brittany Taylor in Daria is ditzy, airheaded, shallow, dimwitted and basically incapable of doing anything right. It's probably not unfair to presume that inside her skull there are a handful of neurons that swim around aimlessly in the otherwise empty void, never coming across each other. And yet, if she is put in a combat situation, she suddenly becomes a gifted tactician and charismatic infantry commander.
  • Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls. While technically the whole concept and style of the show has echoes of Grotesque Cute, Bubbles is the cute and ditzy "sugar" in "sugar, spice [Buttercup] and everything nice [Blossom]" and occasionally gets to go berserk.
    • "Hard Core!"
  • The Fairly OddParents gave Cosmo this role in an episode when Timmy ended up in a best-of-three contest with another child, with the loser forfeiting their fairy godparents. Cosmo wins the first contest by accident when the bananas he conjures distract the giant gorilla he needed to rescue Timmy from, and in the final round his teasing causes the opposing fairy to mess up and zap Timmy instead of his own godchild, causing Timmy to win the contest.
    • There was also that one time he watched a video called "Five Second Massive Pecs," and then proceeded to kick large amounts of ass against Crocker...who was in a mech suit.
  • In one episode of G.I. Joe, three Cobra Mooks dogpile on the simpleton Bazooka, which causes him to exclaim, "Darn it, swallowed my gum!" and knock them all out with one punch each.
  • Beast Boy in Teen Titans is usually portrayed as, while not an actual moron, certainly far less combat-effective than Robin, Raven, Cyborg, and Starfire, primarily due to his habit of choosing an Awesome but Impractical T-rex form that falls through weak surfaces, gets stuck under low bridges, and generally achieves very little. Or not going with the T-rex form in the situations where it would be truly effective. However, when sufficiently riled up, he turns (metaphorically) into an unstoppable engine of destruction, capable of annihilating pretty much whatever takes his fancy.
    • And then there's Beast Within...
  • GIR of Invader Zim is even more inept than Zim himself. His brain is literally made of chewing gum, coins and a paper clip and he seems to have both feet firmly planted in space and his mind on waffles or tacos. However, when issued a command, his eyes occasionally turn from a bright blue to a glowing red and he acknowledges the order like a perfect Irken SIR unit. He usually forgets the order or becomes distracted by something else within seconds, but when Zim locks GIR into this "duty mode" after one-too-many failures that weren't due to him, the little robot becomes scarily competent and almost kills Zim after, correctly, determining he is the greatest threat to "the mission".
  • Duck Dodgers himself has moments such as these. Even despite being incompetent 95% of the time with his successes mostly due to his Cadet, he can manage some pretty amazing feats, such as saving the entire Green Lantern Corps after Sinestro captures them all single-handedly.
    • Or single-handedly defeating the Martian Queen in order to save The Cadet, with a Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan homage, to boot. While played as if he really didn't know what he was doing, some of his tricks (most of the ones involving the Evaporator, for example) were actually quite cunning.
    • Daffy Duck as a whole could fit this trope, his attempts to prove his superiority over Bugs and look like a suave hero nearly always fall flat, but when a true push comes to a shove, he can prove rather cunning and formidable. Even excluding earlier shorts, this is the same guy that beat the crap out of the Tazmanian Devil for stealing one dollar from him, oh and he has beaten Bugs at least once...
  • Chester. Spike's yappy little sidekick from Looney Tunes. Much, MUCH stronger than he looks.
  • Michaelango in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles displays this several times throughout the series. While normally he is the most irresponsible, laid back, undisciplined turtle, on occasion when fighting enemies that have incapacitated or captured his brothers, he displays ninjitsu prowess, agility, and technique rivaling that of Leonardo, who trains constantly, whupping hordes of monsters (or single big bads) that had previously defeated his other 3 brothers. Displayed most prominently in the episode "Grudge Match." However, this seems to be somewhat random: while there are times when Mike steps up when the team's back is to the wall, there are other times when he just gets knocked out cold with the rest of them, so I guess it depends on the needs of the story.
    • Lampshaded with Mikey's victory over The Entity in Notes from the Underground, where he is complimented by his brothers for "really stepping up".
  • Family Guy actually has a few. Glenn Quagmire is a sexual predator, but an absolutely ace pilot (it's "Hidden Badass" because it's so rarely we actually get to see him do his piloting job). Plus, it turns out Adam West was a KGB sleeper agent who managed to single-handedly beat the crap out of Brian, Stewie, Dan Aykroyd, AND Chevy Chase all at once when accidentally activated.
  • Jack Fenton in Danny Phantom. Granted he's an eccentric inventor, a bumbling ghost fighter, and an embarrassing parent. But when his family is in danger, he'll show everyone just how competent he can be, then proceed to kick the opposer's ass. Vlad (his old college friend turned supervillan) learned this the hard way. Twice.

Jack: An old friend? No. You? Yes.

    • The Box Ghost becomes appropriate for this trope near the end of the series, when he decides to finally get his due by utilizing Pandora's Box.
  • The eponymous character from Martin Mystery. Normally he's a lazy goofball who Diana has to kick into line. Mess with Diana, Java, or the Center (something that happens nearly every episode), and he WILL make you regret it.
  • Fry from Futurama. Not only is he a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, but he's exactly the right kind of moron, as he lacks the Delta Brainwave, allowing him to infiltrate the Infosphere and save the universe from the Brainspawn.
    • Fry has also saved the universe on several occasions. This is always due to his lack of the delta brainwave. Fry is a badass BECAUSE he is a moron.
  • Sterling Archer, title character of the series Archer is the world's dumbest secret agent. But he is a secret agent, and can dole out a secret agent level ass whooping when the need arises.
  • Johnny of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, in the Big Picture Show. Several others as well, but particularly Johnny.
    • Ed deserves to be notably mentioned, as at one episode, he went into a nasty mood to a point where he proved he could even intimidate his bratty little sister Sarah.
  • In Scooby Doo Mystery Inc, Scooby may be the same lovable goof he always is, but when a robotic dog actually tries to kill the gang (as opposed to just scaring them), Scooby steps up, fights and destroys it with a forklift, and manages to dish out some really Badass Pre Ass Kicking One Liners while doing so. Both a Big Damn Heroes moment and a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Goofy of Walt Disney fame is pretty much a gangly, clumsy hayseed, but there has been more than one occasion where he's become scary focused on what he needs to do and manages to pull it off, as unorthodox as it may be.
    • "Its about staying focused...ON YOUR GOALS!!!"
  • Palmer and Sasha from Titan Maximum are both ego driven, booze swilling, dumbasses. But as the hicks on Eros, and Titan security found out, they didn't become pilots of the titular robot for nothing. They can both kick your ass very easily.
  • The Sultan from Aladdin of all people is like this.
    • You have to admit, somebody had to run a place so rife with catastrophe before Aladdin showed up, right?
    • If you need definitive proof that he's more than he seems, remember this: the guy who's all of about three-foot-nothing in height and of a distinctly round shape, who chuckles more merrily than Santa Claus and is often-times found playing with little figurines, once wooed Queen Hipsodeath, the queen of the Amazons because of his sheer badassery when rescuing his daughter from them, a plight even Aladdin hadn't overcome!
  • Also Tigger of Winnie the Pooh, most evident in the Disney incarnation, which is no less brainless than he is the original novels, while having saved the lives of almost all his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood from an avalanche to name at least one example.
  • Rigby from Regular Show can open up a serious can of whoop-ass when he wants to.
  • Plastic Man in Batman the Brave And The Bold. A light-hearted jokester underestimated even by his own wife, he gets a few badass moments (there would have probably been more if it weren't for Batman being a one-man Spotlight-Stealing Squad), such as coming the closest to catching Batman when he was accused of committing crimes, making a Rousing Speech that actually worked in front of an alien audience, taking down a pack of supernaturally powered gorillas with Bullet Gold Bars by himself and making a Heroic Sacrifice for his family. He got better.
  • Penfold on Danger Mouse has a moment in the episode "Chicken Run." While trying to evade a giant chicken pecking at him and DM, Penfold jumps into a reservoir of a growth formula and grows larger than Nelson's Column. He single-handedly (literally) captures Greenback and Stiletto, garnering DM's praise as a national hero.

Penfold: Oh, thank you sir. Mum always wanted to know what I'd be when I grew up.

  • Beast Wars gives us Silverbolt, The Knight in Shining Armor who is usually about as smart as a sack of hammers due to his over-chivalrous ways. Bring any harm to his lady, and prepare for a severe ass kicking. Tarantulas learned this the hard way.
  • Orko in He Man and The Masters of The Universe. On Eternia, this Trollan native is the comic relief buffoon who's famous for being unable to make many of his spells work properly. In the eyes of even his friends, he's little more than the court jester, albeit with a brave heart. However, it turns out that's because the laws of magic on Eternia and Trolla are the reverse of each other. On Trolla, he's revealed to be one of that planet's greatest arch-mages who (with only a little help from He-Man) almost single-handedly saves his people from enslavement by a half-dragon servant of Skeletor. Even on Eternia, when his magic does work, he can be extremely competent.
    • Prince Adam himself is this in the 80s cartoon. He puts on a lazy, clumsy, cowardly, combat-incompetent rich kid act to help erase any suspicions that he might be He-Man. Every so often, however, he reveals a tremendous depth of knowledge on Eternia's ancient cultures and science, he's been able to use his intellect to defeat bad-guys when even He-Man's strength had failed, and with one notable exception that saw his father get kidnapped, when he is forced to play the hero as Prince Adam instead of He-Man he can be surprisingly effective.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long has Jonathan Long, Jake's father. He's usually a goofy Amazingly Embarrassing Parent, but hurt or threathen his family and...well, the first time it happened, he mistook the Jersey Devil (who had just defeated Jake's dragon form) for a bear and pushed it off a cliff after blinding it with bear spray.
  • Don't let his lack of booksmarts fool you, there's a very good reason Numbuh 4/Wallabee Beatles of Codename: Kids Next Door is Sector V's hand-to-hand combat specialist and resident Blood Knight.
    • Of course, there's also Numbuh 2/Hoagie P. Gilligan Jr., who may act like a goofball most of the time, but has actually proven himself to be the team's most efficient Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Likewise, Numbuh 3/Kuki Sanban may act like a ditzy Genki Girl, but threaten her stuffed animals, and YOU WILL DIE A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH!!!!
  • Adventure Time has a plethora of characters like this. The Ice King is a complete idiot, but has shown great power and surprising strategy when the time came for it. LSP, usually a dumb bratty teenager, was the only one of the gang who was unfazed by a zombie attack, proceeding to clobber the zombies with a hammer and a 2X4, even punching the zombies in the face! Even Lemongrab had a quick one in his first episode- although he cried after getting punched in the stomach, he actually fell from the window of the tall tower and SLAMMED his head into the ground hard enough to leave a large hole he had to pry himself out of... and he was totally uninjured, thanks to his super-thick skin.
  • Even in spite of his clumsiness and the fact that he unintentionally causes a lot of problems, Mr. Bogus will gradually do whatever he can to make everything right again, whether it's facing off against the much-feared Dirt Dudes or outwitting his sworn enemy Ratty.

Notes

  1. Only above-mentioned Youmu has shown a similar skill, in a much more restricted way