Smug Super

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"If I was in Superman's place, I'd be totally lording my powers over all the other Superfriends. 'Hey Batman,' I'd say, 'Nice utility belt! Got anything in there that would help you lift an oil tanker? I didn't think so. Hey Aquaman! You realize I could pretty much kick ass over any sea creature you cared to summon, don't you? Wonder Woman! Your magic lasso makes me tell the truth: You suck!'"

Normally, Super Heroes are modest, and failing that at least they're rarely vain. But then again, if you had superpowers, wouldn't you be the tiniest bit tempted to lord it over the foiled bad guys? Well the Smug Super thinks so, and in fact he'll tell you about it. At great length. In fact, he won't shut up about it!

The Smug Super is a super hero or villain who knows they've won the Superpower Lottery and won't hesitate to remind others, especially if they're beneath him on the Super Weight scale. This character is similar to the Smug Snake, though rather than be manipulative and sneaky, he's very up front about his opinion of himself and is an active fighter who is at least on an equal footing with the rest of the cast. Also similar to the Smug Snake, he can be a very enjoyable to see in action for the Scenery Chewing Badass One Liners they deliver. Likewise, he might fall over the edge into camp.

In combat, he's likely to hold back, taunt his opponents, and Trash Talk with the best of them. Though he might occasionally suffer setbacks due to his Pride and underestimating opponents. Especially if they're mere mortals.

This trope can also form a mild version of Beware the Superman - in this case, whilst the Super might not actually be malevolent and will still do the right thing, they're still a bit of a bullying, arrogant Jerkass. In more cynical universes, the Smug Super may consider himself—and may even be widely considered—to be The Cape (trope); they very much aren't, however.

Many versions of this trope can be found on Type II on the Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes. May be (in fact, quite often is) a target of Break the Haughty, and is generally a "stronger" Arrogant Kung Fu Guy. A God Am I is this trope taken Up to Eleven. Compare with Small Name, Big Ego, who thinks he's this trope. May overlap with Super Loser when the arrogance is undeserved... either by not having much power, not knowing how to use it well or not having an ounce of charisma. A Smug Snake is similar, but relies more on brains than actual brute force like a Smug Super , nonetheless; they are as arrogant as the latter. Contrast the Boisterous Weakling, who likes to bark but doesn't have much to bite. Also contrast with Pro-Human Transhuman, who despite their powers isn't a dick to normal humans.

Examples of Smug Super include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Dragon Ball Z has many. Vegeta and Gotenks, for example. Vegetto, a fusion of Vegeta and Goku, is said to have Vegeta's ego, but with Goku's power to back it up. He's smug as hell, and it shows, but he has a damn good claim to being as strong as he thinks he is.
    • DBZ villains are all like this, always going on about how great they are compared to their puny foes. Frieza and Cell do this especially.
  • Most villains from One Piece are this way.
  • Saint Seiya is all over this trope like bishonen on albino. Every. Single. Enemy the Bronzies face will spend about half the fight lording it over them about how, though it's "admirable you made it this far", they're doomed to fail because they are the most powerful enemy they will ever face. The Silver Saints and later Spectres had a special narcissistic knack for it.
    • Phoenix Ikki does this sometimes too, despite being a hero. Of course, by being the stongest Bronze Saint in history he does sometimes beat his opponents with ease.
  • Although it's more Charles Atlas Superpower, Ranma from Ranma ½ can get really smug about his level of skill.
    • In fact, later in the series, he actually gets smug enough about it to turn his ego into the MokoTaka Bisha
  • Byakuya Kuchiki of Bleach is a more stoic example of this trope, coming up with mild ways of putting down his opponents, or people he doesn't like... or pretty much anyone in general.

Byakuya: It's one thousand years too early to use my Bankai against you [Ichigo].

    • He's positively humble compared to Aizen in recent chapters after the whole Butterfly thing.
    • Yamamoto. Badass Grandpa status aside, the guy thinks he's above everyone because he's older than everyone else and a Person of Mass Destruction.
  • In Iris Zero children with Irises treat those without Irises as outcasts.
  • Black*Star from Soul Eater. Is utterly convinced of his own power in spite of initial evidence to the contrary. Finding a goal for himself did not change this one bit. However, he's more inclined to get involved with other people's problems - with the intention of helping them - because he sees it as part of his status as a god-like warrior. Death the Kid could easily have been like this, being the gifted sort, but is not especially smug. On the contrary, he frequently feels inferior (as a shinigami, though, not in relation to his human peers) and is Not So Stoic about it.
    • EXCALIBUR!!!! His legend starts in the twelfth century.
      • (ﺧ益ﺨ)
  • Takamura from Hajime no Ippo is by far the best boxer in the series, his ability bordering on superhuman at some points, and he absolutely knows it. It's no surprise he's a massive Jerkass. And he's a main character.
  • The Huckebein from Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force are blessed with seemingly flawless Anti-Magic and proud of it. Their more vicious members like Cypha go straight into Beware the Superman.
  • Agon from Eyeshield 21 is the described as Japan's most talented athlete in a century and knows it. The epitome of a Jerk Jock, it's to the point that he can't stand those who aren't talented.
  • It's arguable, but one could claim that Major Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist is this. He doesn't go around lording his powers over everybody, exactly, but half of his dialogue is him going on about how great he is. It's still very funny, though.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Most of the other heroes in Empowered are of this nature. Unfortunately for the titular heroine, who is their frequent target, they're also pretty much just overgrown and overpowered high school bullies for the most part as well.
    • Thugboy went on a pretty impressive rant about this type of super.
  • Pretty much every superhero in The Boys by Garth Ennis.
  • Guy Gardner, in Justice League International was the embodiment of this trope. Especially ironic, as he hadn't really won the Superpower Lottery; he was one of the original Green Lantern Corps, and wasn't even the greatest GL on Earth (let alone the greatest hero) in anyone's mind but his own. He's gone through some Character Development since then, though.
    • Guy still has his ego in spades, but he can back it up. He's about the best you can get when you've got a smug super on your hands nowadays.
    • Hal Jordan has his moments to. In the new Justice League comic, most of his dialog is boasting about how awesome he is while at the same time making jabs at how useless Batman and Aquaman are in comparison.
  • Crackerjack in Astro City, despite not actually having superpowers.
  • Doc Magus of Marvel Comics 2. Apparently being Dr. Jerk is is in the blood.
  • In "Johnny Saturn" the Utopian is so smug that his feet rarely touch the ground, and he speaks with an arrogant tone.
  • Believe it or not, Superman had quite a few moments like this in The Golden Age of Comic Books, using a LOT less restraint against criminals, and generally lording it over the Muggles, as in the very first issue where he broke into the governor's mansion to stop an execution...

Superman: It's locked!
Servant: Yes, and made of steel! Try and tear this door down!
(Superman tears the door off its hinges)
Superman: (dickish grin) It was your idea!

  • Happened to Batman when Superman's powers get transfered to him. Superman eventually takes his powers back because Batman was acting like a total dick and bullying the villains after they had already surrendered.
    • Although to be fair, the transfer slowly made him unbalanced independently of the powers (like making him convinced that beating the shit out of Nightwing was for the greater good) so it wasn't entirely a Power Corrupts scenario. The powers just amplified it tenfold.
  • King Chimera of the Justice Society of America was such an arrogant jerk about his illusion powers that when it was revealed that there was a traitor in the Society's midst, everyone immediately assumed it was him, and he simply attempted to use his powers to walk away rather than deign to cooperate with his teammates to clear his name, even though he was innocent. He actually is almost as good as he thinks he is, but he's gotten badly injured more than once because he tends to ignore the fact that the most realistic illusion in the world can't make the human body any less fragile.
  • Amadeus Cho of The Incredible Hercules rarely tires of informing everyone within earshot just how smart he is. Of course, when your superpower is the ability to do math really well, you need a bit of chutzpah to go into battle against literal gods and monsters. It helps that he does math really well.
  • Depending on the Writer, Spider-Man can veer into either this or Sad Clown. Peter often plays this up in his insults and quips, smugly insulting and mocking his enemies and letting them know how much they suck compared to him. In most cases it's not arrogance, but more an active attempt to make his enemies lose their tempers, causing them to be sloppier and thus easier to beat.
  • A couple have turned up in short Judge Dredd stories, notably Fairly Hyperman, a transparent Superman clone who announced he was going to take over fighting crime in Mega-City One, with the judges reduced to traffic duty and street cleaning.
  • If it's Thor it's okay.
  • Alfie O'Meagan from Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja constantly alternates between casting himself as a selfless savior of humanity and gloating about being the most powerful person on Earth.

"There is a purpose behind my ability to increase my own powers! My potential is limitless! You can't possible conceive of the wonders I have in store for the world! Lucky that I am a pool of endless compassion!"

  • A number of the heroes in Irredeemable fit this blend. Qubit is an Insufferable Genius who has little trouble reminding people he's the smartest guy in any room. When The Plutonian was still a hero, he played up some false modesty, but after he turned evil he promptly dropped it and had no qualms rubbing his power into everyone's faces. But the best example from the comic is The Survivor, who's entirely too pleased with himself about his abilities and uses his power to do whatever he feels like after getting it.
    • The existence of Smug Supers is something that Irredeemable examines in detail. At one point the heroes discover a man with super-powers on par with The Survivor, but decides to never use them and instead became a humble monk out of fear of what such power could do to him.
  • PS238 got a great big crowd of these. Starting with kids who don't know better, but are about to learn the hard way. Taylor's parents (who chose "Powers" as their "masked" last name) are introduced as highly prideful, but this turned out to be a moderate version. Many super-intellects are Insufferable Genius sort. Many others, well...

Phlogiston: Don't any of you know what "narcissistic sociopath" means?


Film[edit | hide]

  • Syndrome from The Incredibles seems to think that all superheroes are this. Therefore, if he can prove himself superior to supers using his inventions insead of actual powers, it gives him an excuse to be a bigger dick than they are.
    • As wrong as Syndrome may be about heroes in general, "Gamma Jack" from the film's Expanded Universe seems to be an example of Smug Super. His file with the agency that manages superheroes mentions that he might need special supervision, as he believes the Supers to be a superior race.
  • Darryl Revok of Scanners is genuinely evil, and thinks that his Psychic Powers mean he should Take Over the World.
  • Captain Amazing from Mystery Men would have been an annoying White Dwarf Starlet even if he hadn't deliberately sprung the villain from prison in order to help his own career.
  • Metro Man from Megamind. However, the trailer notwithstanding, he turns out not to be such a bad guy.
  • Magneto in the X-Men films is this. Of course, since he is played by the awesome Sir Ian McKellen, it's a lot of fun to watch him chew the scenery.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • CoreFire from Soon I Will Be Invincible. Though it's implied that he doesn't do this quite to the extent that Dr Impossible makes it out to be. Also, one of the two superheroes who interrogate Dr. Impossible in jail. He learns to regret it.
  • In the Dresden Files, Harry occasionally indulges in this. Murph takes him to task for it. Happens a bit more with Lasciel in his head, especially at the beginning.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Also has cropped up on My Hero (TV) from time to time.
  • Excelsior from No Heroics has every cool superpower you care to name, always saves the day and the public loves him. He is also an enormous dick and takes every opportunity to bully Alex, mocking his powers and referring to him as "Hotpants", "Hotpocket" and "The Gayness".
  • The Doctor. His dismissal and disdain for any individual or civilization he decides is beneath him is legendary and one of the only constant facets of his personality (though it is decreased when the writers want him to be more sympathetic), and he ensures that everyone from allies to villains to background characters are aware of how massively inferior they are compared to his big sexy brain. The Tenth Doctor was especially fond of this, frequently attempting to cut off arguments by glibly stating, "I'm clever."
    • This is more the case in the revival series under Russel T. Davies. The classic series Doctors had their moments but were considerably less flippantly arrogant than 9 and 10.
    • This tendency has been used against him on multiple occasions, especially in the episode Midnight where the humans all turn against him because of his glib smugness, and in Tooth and Claw, where Torchwood was created because Queen Victoria thought he and Rose were too smug and having a bit too much fun when everybody's life was in peril. In The Waters of Mars this tendency was taken up to scary levels during his Time Lord Victorious speech, where without realizing it he actually starts paraphrasing the Master. He has nothing on the rest of his race though.
      • And of course that's when he's not busy telling every human he meets how magnificent they are and calling all his companions and everyone he meets who makes a passing effort to think before they act "brilliant." Which isn't even to say that the original point is wrong, just that the Doctor is ... complex. Whether you see him as a blowhard who treats humans like children or a guy who makes no apologies for the fact that he legitimately IS the smartest guy in the room while truly appreciating what everyone else has to offer is up to you.
  • The Tick (animation): The episode “The Big Leagues” has a "League of Superheroes" made up entirely of smug, misogynistic supers. In fact, almost every super throughout the show is a smug jerk, excepting the 4 main characters.
  • Power Rangers Jungle Fury's Grizzaka is a villainous example of a Smug Super. He's so arrogant about his immense power that he likes lording on to others about his belief that no one can possibly be stronger than him or that he will never be defeated.

Grizzaka: That was nothing! I won't let it happen again! I'm the strongest fighter there will ever be! (grows to giant size)
Grizzaka: It's your turn to learn the same lesson all my enemies have. There is no one as powerful as Grizzaka, and never will be!

    • To be fair, Power Rangers seems to have a lot of Smug Supers, and there's possibly too many to count.


Video Games[edit | hide]

Grunt: "I don't get sick!"
Grunt: "I am pure Krogan, you should be in awe."

    • To a greater extent, Miranda Lawson. She's quite smug about her status as a genetically enhanced Canon Sue as well as being The Dragon of Cerberus. While she does admit that she's not completely perfect, she still believes she's as close as you can get. Then deconstructed as she realises despite all her gifts she'll never have what Shepard has, could never do what Shepard did.
    • They both pale in comparison to Harbinger, whose quotes consist entirely of Badass Boasts about how inferior the characters are, how their efforts are futile, and how superior Harbinger and his kind are.
  • Hakumen from BlazBlue is the leader of the Six Heroes, who saved the world from the Black Beast. This seems to have gone to his head a bit (or it could be that he's monstrously powerful, and is fully aware of it). He uses a derisive tone of voice when speaking to most other characters, and many of his in-battle lines seem dedicated to mocking his opponent's inadequacy.

Hakumen: (upon winning a battle with Lambda) "This must be some kind of joke."
Hakumen: "I will not be defeated by the likes of you!"
Hakumen: "I hope you know what it means... to stand before me!"
Hakumen: "What was that?! Don't tell me you call that fighting...!"

    • Series Big Bad Hazama is a villainous example. Naturally, when he and Hakumen confront each other, it is a sight to behold.
  • Captain Smiley, Anti-Hero of Comic Jumper.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is quick to taunt his enemies and be very vocal about his Super Speed, but how much he does so depends from time to time.
    • Most of Sonic's taunting lately (at least in the games) is in the form of reminding Eggman how reliable his schemes tend to be (that is, not very reliable at all), which, while still very smug, is also completely valid.
    • Shadow is even worse - he likes lording it over the heroes as well as the villains, not just regarding his speed but every power he has. Telling people how inferior they are to him is practically his hobby.
  • Iris from Rosenkreuzstilette definitely counts. To be fair, she's a reincarnation of Rosenkreuz who enjoys taunting and teasing others about her immense power and sheer intelligence that she was born with. Claiming to be a god, she's very confident that she can't be compared to the likes of everyone else, calling them worhtless run-of-the-mill insects and lording to them about being one of the strongest Magi in existence. She believes everyone to just be simple commoners and thinks it's her right to treat them as toys, and even thinks of the world as little more than her personal playset. Interestingly enough, she's also an Expy of Dr. Wily, an essentially vile Complete Monster, and a cute, lovably audacious Magnificent Bastard.
    • Grolla also shows signs of this when she, as a boss, defeats Tia in the main game when Tia herself is on her last life.

Grolla: "...Pathetic."
Grolla: "Is that all you've got?"

      • Also, in her own side-game, Rosenkreuzstilette Grollschwert, when she fights the Cross Wall, she calls to it to show her its worst after it attempts to run her down and says that there's nothing her blade can't cut. Later, when she confronts the Count, who believes her to be a spy hired by the Church to kill his daughter Iris, she pities him for being deceived by his own flesh and blood, and in the Final Stage, when Iris finally reveals herself to be a reincarnation of Rosenkreuz and boasts her claims to be a child of God himself, Grolla doesn't care whether she's a god, a human, or even an insect since she's still willing to rip her apart just the same.
  • Devil May Cry's hero Dante is totally this, especially in 4 where he is said to have surpassed the power of his father Sparda. Halfway through the game, you will face him as a Perfect Play AI boss that will kick your ass often and give you a lesson or two, while holding back.


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

"Insignificant insects."
"Fighting you is beneath me."
"You fail to comprehend the depth of my power."

  • Blossom of The Powerpuff Girls is noted for this.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Toph [2] and Azula.
  • Maxum Man from Sidekick.
  • Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is well aware he's a near omnipotent Reality Warper and doesn't view anyone as much of a threat to him because of that knowledge. This is his undoing, as it renders him incapable of realizing the heroes are a serious threat to him now.
    • Trixie also fits the bill quite well.
    • The episode "The mysterious Mare-Do-Well" fits this even better. Rainbow Dash is not really a superhero, but surely gets too smug over her heroic feats; Mare-Do-Well is the exact opposite, being heroic and effective but humble, and drives her mad by replacing her in the spotlights. Of course it's all a plot of her friends meant to teach her a lesson.
  • Captain Atom in Batman the Brave And The Bold. He is especially dismissive toward Badass Normal Batman. So naturally, he loses his powers for the episode, learns his lesson, and... has instantly forgotten by the end of the episode. (Hey, it's TB&TB. What'd you expect, one of the Stock Aesops played straight?)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 gives us another villainous example in the form of the Shredder, who is not only one of the most brutal fighters and most cruel villains in the show but also likes telling others how inferior they are to him and claiming that no one can defeat him. Definitely a Smug Super.
  • The DVD set for The Incredibles had in-world commentaries of different superheroes who were killed by Syndrome's evolving robots. One of them was Gamma Jack, who believed supers like the Incredible Family to be a superior race, and often preferred saving beautiful or attractive women before anyone else. Of course, before being offed by Syndrome, he was also mentioned to have "tyrannical/megalomaniac tendencies", prompting close monitoring from the NSA.
  1. Abandoning Lois to a super-villain, for the second time in two months, because she thought she could do better than Clark.
  2. "I am the GREATEST EARTHBENDER IN THE WORLD!!!"