Unskilled but Strong

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Are you really going to criticize his poor form?
This is the dreaded Damien? He moves like an amateur! Wait... that fire could easily win him most fights, he can regenerate, and he's supposed to have Super Strength... he's never needed skill before! His fighting style is totally dependent on his powers!
Elliot, on Damien, El Goonish Shive

As the name implies, this is the inverse of Weak but Skilled.

A character who is Unskilled but Strong lacks the refined technique of formal training, but compensates in various ways through raw power. They may eat anti-tank missiles the way a glutton goes through an all-you-can-eat buffet. They may be so strong they kick tanks around like footballs or have the firepower to crush the US, China and Russia in a conventional conflict. They may make a Bugatti Veyron look slow or waltz through a point-blank crossfire of Gatlings with ease that makes an Agent envious. They may have won the Superpower Lottery. However it is, they are so very naturally talented they don't need skill. They tend to have the attitude that if brute force doesn't work, it's just because they didn't use enough of it.

When seen in a protagonist, their lack of skill is typically only because it's the first episode and they've only just discovered their powers. The initial stages of the series, if not the series as a whole, will then focus on improving the protagonist's innate talents. It also gives the series a justification for why a complete newbie to whatever power they've uncovered is able to fight with or against people who have more experience, or why they can come along in training relatively quickly. One common type of this is the Super Prototype that the Ordinary High School Student is Falling Into the Cockpit of.

In an antagonist, an Unskilled But Strong character is commonly either the very first foe the protagonist faces or one of the last. In the former case, they're a Starter Villain and may be fond of Badass Boasts but prove all talk in the face of the much more skilled protagonist. In the latter, they provide a hurdle against which the protagonist must disprove the theory that Hard Work Hardly Works.

Compare Skilled but Naive. Contrast Weak but Skilled. Often pursues a Bigger Stick. Can also overlap with Brilliant but Lazy, or Incompletely Trained (or both). This character is often the Goliath in David Versus Goliath. Characters with explicitly superhuman abilities can have this cured with Boxing Lessons for Superman. If they never get formal training, they may instead be Taught By Experience.

Examples of Unskilled but Strong include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The title character of Naruto is described as this by Jiraiya. As he explains when he becomes Naruto's mentor, Naruto possesses such a large reserve of chakra (thanks to his being the Nine-Tailed Fox's Can), that he can more readily rely on raw power ninjutsu instead of learning the more fine control techniques his peers have learned.
    • It's worth noting that while his fighting skills are unrefined, which he does improve throughout the series, the ways that he's found to use his skills even from fairly early on can be incredibly clever and are usually the cause of his victories.
    • While some consider his improvement over the timeskip an Informed Ability, he begins using his jutsus more intelligently, largely outgrowing the use of rushing enemies with dozens of clones, in favor of more creative uses, such as creating one to redirect himself in the air. As such, while he had used powerful jutsus to compensate for lack of skill earlier, he now can use said powerful jutsus to their full potentials, being easily a Jonin- or Kage-level ninja (but still a Genin in rank).
    • Besides ninja, there's the tailed beasts themselves: they have immense power, but being monsters they can't do much with it besides thrash around and shoot out giant balls of chakra. It's for this reason that beasts with a host are stated to be potentially more dangerous.
  • Many young heroes in the Gundam series are notably less skilled than their more experienced Ace Pilot adversaries, but manage to survive due to Falling Into the Cockpit of a Super Prototype. Generally, though, they survive enough battles through the series to become experienced and an ace in their own right.
    • In a specific example, in the original series, Amuro Ray (who's been piloting the Gundam for roughly a month and a half at this point) manages to defeat Ramba Ral, a veteran soldier who's been piloting a mobile suit since they were first introduced to the battlefield four years ago. Ral praises Amuro, but tells him not to get cocky, since it was the Gundam's power and not his own skill that won the day; Amuro just calls him a Sore Loser.
  • Berserker in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is The Dragon to Odin in Ragnarok, despite not having any formal martial arts training like everyone else. He has his rank purely due to his natural talent as a fighter.
    • A shadowy figure in the Yomi base hints that Berserker may be coming back, although without the "unskilled" part.
  • Similarly, Bunshichi Tawara in Tenjho Tenge is reported to be entirely self-taught, but was able to defeat a powered up Shin Natsume in a fight.
  • Kenpachi from Bleach relies on raw power and bloodlust, and it works out quite well. No bankai, no functional shikai, no kido, no special techniques. He acquired his position simply by killing his predecessor. His idea of a sword technique is using both hands to hold his sword—and when he does, he easily defeats an opponent who had been fighting him to a standstill for several episodes.
    • Ichigo, as well. His incredibly high spiritual power is remarked upon from the very beginning, yet he is often completely outclassed by more experienced opponents. However, he relies on being Taught By Experience, something remarked on multiple times in the series.
    • Wonderweiss is so fast and strong that he can take on Yamamoto. The old man complements his power, but quickly reveals that his vastly superior skill and experience is more than enough to turn the tide.
    • Yammy is practically brute force incarnate: strong enough to casually break people to pieces. He's also incredibly stupid and arrogant, with no strategy besides attacking head-on. Urahara, and later Kenpachi and Byakuya, wipe the floor with him.
  • Dragon Ball villains sometimes fell into this category. Pretty much all of them were highly-trained fighters, but often lacked knowledge of certain techniques. Freeza was one of the few villains who knew how to raise and lower his power level, but lacked knowledge on how to sense ki without a scouter. The over reliance on scouters caused his army to underestimate their enemies. A few like Fat Buu relied on raw power and healing to win.
    • To expand, Freeza had spent so much time toying with opponents far weaker that he never learned how to stand up in a protracted battle against someone of equal strength. Once raw power was proven not to be enough, it was only a matter of time before the more highly trained (and now more powerful) Goku defeated him.
    • This was also Piccolo's reasoning for training Gohan after witnessing Gohan's hidden power first hand against Radditz.
  • Yoshimori is this way in Kekkaishi, although he's improving, in contrast to his Weak but Skilled counterpart, Tokine.
  • Due to unusual circumstances Beet the Vandel Buster can use five of the powerful magical weapons called Saiga, when most individuals can use only one. However, early parts of the series are spent with Beet learning how to fully utilize his five Saiga and Beet has zero ability in the more basic magical skills which are supposed to be the lead up to obtaining a Saiga in the first place. One character even comments that he learns everything backwards.
  • The title character of Lyrical Nanoha has a lot of raw power, but her technique isn't quite up to the task at the very beginning. Later on though, she trains and refines her technique so immensely that it almost becomes an inversion. She learns fast and she does it good.
    • Applies to Fate to some degree, too, as Precia had Linith skip over certain aspects of her training while teaching her how to fight in order to get her ready to search for the Jewel Seeds soon enough. While observing Fate and Nanoha's battle in Episode 7, Chrono notes that both of them are mainly throwing around powerful attacks with less regard to using the best one for the situation.
    • Her friend Hayate is this down to the core. Her magical power is by far the highest in the entire TSAB and her attacks are equal to nukes. And yet she's - at least in the main continuity, as opposed to the Battle of Aces one - helplessly unskilled and needs support to even aim her attacks properly. As she says herself, this is why she would lose to almost everyone else in the main cast, despite being theoretically the strongest mage alive.
    • The Huckebein Family from Force would seem to be this by design. Their powers allow them to kill mages with barely any effort on their part, and without any harm to boot, but none of them apart from Curren initially show any tactics beyond simple brute force. This makes sense, since they have no real interest in learning how to fight when the virus that will kill them if they don't kill other people doesn't differentiate between a talented fighter and a civilian. Then enemies show up who they can't simply overpower, making them have to work for their victories.
  • Takeshi Sendo from Hajime no Ippo. His raw power and fighting instincts are top-notch. His biggest weakness is lack of technical skill.
    • Subverted and played straight with Brian Hawk. It is the very lack of skillfull boxing that makes him so incredibly dangerous. He doesn't have the limits of the textbook boxing techniques and, combined with naturally insane power, speed and reflexes, becomed completely unpredictable. His fighting style is even described by his trainer as not being boxing but "simply violence." Takamura spends the first half of their fight trying to prove that boxing skill is of use. It is eventually played straight when Hawks trainer learns how very superior Takamura is through having learned the proper technique and how much of a backbone Brian Hawk lacks because of his lack of proper training.
  • The eponymous girls in Zettai Karen Children are theoretically some of the most powerful people in existence, but as otherwise ordinary ten-year-old girls their lack of training and experience means they sometimes struggle against Weak but Skilled opponents.
  • Kinnikuman's Buffaloman was not a great fighter at all until he made a Deal with the Devil and gained his ten million Choujin Power.
  • Luffy's victory over Boa Sandersonia and Boa Marigold in One Piece falls into this. The sisters' mastery of Haki allows them to predict Luffy's movements and deflect his attack. Once Luffy goes into his Gear 2nd power-up, however he's able to move so fast that predicting him is useless and his attacks are powerful enough to overwhelm any attempt to block.
    • In addition, Luffy doesn't really have any "training" in his fighting style, he is just extremely creative with his rubber powers and makes up techniques on the spot.
    • Furthermore, he has the same level of Haki that Hancock does, which is stronger than theirs, but can't control it and can't do anything more than render people without sufficient force of will unconscious. Luffy's shown occasional flashes of other types of Haki use (against Mihawk, he avoided losing a hand because he saw a flash of what Mihawk's next attack would be), but they too were uncontrolled and he didn't even seem to realize what had happened. After training with Silvers Rayleigh, this has now changed as he's become both skilled AND strong.
    • Zoro was also this to an extent in the earlier parts of the storyline, his idea of swordfighting being "Swing your swords at your opponent really, really hard until they stop moving". With his absurd Charles Atlas Superpower, this worked pretty well... until he faced off against a guy with steel-hard skin who was basically immune to this strategy. Zoro got better about this after the experience.
    • Of the Post-Time Skip villains, Hody Jones gets accused of this by Jimbei, who effortlessly blocks a powerful attack from him. He's also proven to be absolutely no match for Luffy whatsoever when they finally begin to throw down.
  • Takashi Kawamura from Prince of Tennis. He considers himself the burden of the Seigaku team, yet can fight Genius Bruiser Kabaji to a standstill. He then does it again, but against Gin Ishida from Shitenhouji.
    • In fact, Kawamura has been this from the beginning of his tennis career. As a first year, he was physically stronger than all of the juniors, but also had a chronical lack of control over his borderline Super Strength that led the sempais to either bully him or tell him that he'd be better in the baseball team. Hence why he considers himself The Load.
    • Kintarou Tooyama happens to be both this trope and Skilled but Naive. He's got raw talent and physical strength by the wazoo, but is also a Wild Child and the poster child for Idiot Hero.
    • Kaidoh Kaoru fits to a lesser extent. While he is a strong tennis player, most of his techniques merely revolve around variations of his signature technique "Snake" (until the nationals arc, he possessed only two; the rest were developed through Inui's guidance). However, he is extremely tenacious, able to hold his own against the much more skilled and violent Kirihara.
  • In Durarara!!, Shizuo Heiwajima's typical fighting style is described as the real-life equivelent of Button Mashing. Given that he can bench-press a van and deflect or occasionally break a blade on his skin, this is just about all he needs.
  • Jin of Samurai Champloo considers Mugen to be this. But Jin does have that kind of relationship with Mugen. It does bite him in the ass against Hand of God Kiriya though.
  • Ikki Tousen's Hakufu Sonsaku is considered to be the worst fighter of Kanto. Despite that, she's also the strongest of the fighters and has rarely ever been defeated. She's even the leader of Nanyo Academy.
  • Gao of Eyeshield 21 only started playing football that season, yet he's already one of the best linemen in Japan. Why? Because he can bench press 440+ pounds and flings opponents away like nothing. People even nickname him things like "caveman", "dinosaur", "monster", and "muscle brains." His lack of technique, however, is a conscious choice since he wants to find someone who equals him in strength. When he finally does meet someone who overpowers him, he quickly starts improving on technique.
    • The manga actually points this out, noting that Gaou refuses to break the rules and hit Kid even when he was close enough when Kid released to be justified in hitting him. They acknowledge that it's not like he can't control himself, it's that he doesn't feel like it. So, he's more like the football equivalent of Just Shoot Him.
  • An unusual example is to be found in Mahou Sensei Negima - Negi's father Nagi Springfield, known as the 'Thousand Master' for supposedly mastering a thousand spells, is revealed to be a heroic, magical version of this. In truth, he only knows something like 5-6 spells by heart, and has to perform anything more complicated than the bare-bone basics from a tome - but he backs those spells up with a LUDICROUS amount of raw magical power (and a bit of mundane trickery).
    • Jack Rakan is thought to be this by many people, and at first glance he doesn't appear to do anything more than just hit things really hard. However, he's Obfuscating Stupidity: he's very skilled on top of all his raw power, he just doesn't see much need to use his skills unless his opponent is strong enough to warrant it.
  • Hanamichi Sakuragi from Slam Dunk is incredibly tall for his early age and has huge physical strength as well as almost animalistic reflexes and jump abilities, but his raw power is paired with a complete lack of experience skill. Therefore he gets stuck by the sidelines in the first part of the series, and has to go through Training from Hell to compensate.
    • Hitoshi Morishige is a similar, yet less extreme case. He has already gone through the training and it shows when we see him play, but is still very rough around the edges. I.e: he's seen performing an excellent slam dunk, but then gets scolded by the referee for knocking two opponents down while at it.
  • Lt. Surge's Raichu in the Pokémon anime falls into this. Surge's belief that only fully evolved Pokémon were worthwhile caused him to turn his Pikachu into a Raichu immediately. This Raichu lacks the techniques he would've learned only as a Pikachu and thus relies on his immense power to win.
  • Kouichi in Kurogane no Linebarrel is this at first; most of his early victories are entirely due to Linebarrel being a Lightning Bruiser, and he causes extreme amounts of collateral damage from inexperience. Reiji points all of this out when he hands Kouichi his ass in the fourth episode of the anime.
  • Yoshika from Strike Witches starts out as one of these, selected by Mio for her immense raw power. Her inability to focus her power causes problems early on.
  • Yuu from Holyland starts out with only a one-two straight combo and no footwork or other technique. He gets better. The Strong part comes from how various more experienced fighters note that his raw power and speed are very high.
    • Katou also applies. Despite his lack of real training, he wins through brute strength, fighting dirty and drug-taking that makes him Feel No Pain. He gets utterly destroyed later on when a MMA exponent decides to get serious.
  • Noted by Touma during his first fight with Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu no Index. Accelerator's powers are among the most powerful in the series, but is at a bit of a loss when he can't just curb stomp Touma like he has all his previous opponents.

Touma: The strongest esper in Academy City... really has no skills at all, huh? Then grit your teeth, weakling. Because a punch from the weakest is gonna hurt.

    • Touma himself is tough as nails and an experienced street fighter, but he gets his ass handed to him when he faces trained martial artists like Kaori and Motoharu.
    • Another major villain, Fiamma of the Right is obscenely powerful but, like Accelerator, is at a loss when he can't simply win with a Curb Stomp Battle. One of his comrades, however, Acqua of the Back, is very much strong and skilled.
  • Sanosuke from Rurouni Kenshin definitely fits this trope. Unlike many of the characters in the series, his fighting abilities were derived from being a fighter-for-hire. He lacks any formal fighting style other than Good Old Fisticuffs, making up for it in raw power and being Made of Iron. This is deconstructed in a fight with Saito; He proves to be just as powerful as Sanosuke if not more so, but has learned basic skills like defense. This allows him to pummel Sano with ease while avoiding damage.
    • To a degree, Shishio's Dragon Soujirou is this. He's stated to have talent that at the very least, equals Kenshin. However, his strategy basically boils down to relying on his superior speed to overwhelm Kenshin.
  • Most of the Homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist (with the exception of master swordsman Wrath) seem to rely on their regenerative abilities and special powers far more than their fighting skills:
    • Envy gets a lot of mileage out of its shapeshifting abilities and its One-Winged Angel Form, but it possesses poor hand-to-hand fighting skills. This is taken advantage of very liberally by the Xingese fighters, who are not only skilled at hand-to-hand but also have the ability to detect homunculi, rendering Envy's shape-shifting moot.
    • Gluttony possesses decent physical strength and an ability to fire a giant beam which sucks up everything it touches, but spends most of his time getting pounded on by the heroes.
    • Greed, admittedly not a poor fighter, can harden his body to make himself impervious to attack, but he tends to fare poorly against opponents who can counter his ability, such as Ed, who uses alchemy to convert his armor into charcoal. This is later used by Greed himself against Father in a Chekhov's Gun moment.
      • His resurrected form is much more skilled, though, presumably because he can at least partially draw from the combat skills of his host body Ling.
    • Sloth may not be a skilled fighter, but his physical toughness (enough to shrug off a tank shell) and Super Speed are enough to nearly kill the Armstrong siblings.
    • Pride relies pretty much on his endless mass of shadow tentacles, but they're all he really needs to be one of the most dangerous villains.
    • On the heroic side, Van Hohenheim, despite being one of the strongest characters in terms of raw power, admits to not being much of a fighter, a description which also applies to the Big Bad himself.
    • Halfway-averted in the 2003 anime version. While Sloth, Lust and Gluttony are not particularly skilled in a fight, Wrath is in the very least competent in hand-to-hand, Pride is the master swordsman in this version, and Envy uses a form of capoiera to humble Ed during their final encounter.
  • The main character of Psyren Yoshina Ageha starts out this way, being less skilled than fellow newbie Hiryu. This is justified by his incredibly powerful yet unstable PSI Melchese Door relying more on emotion. Though he quickly has to overcome it due to the toll it takes on his mind.
  • Munakata Kei from Medaka Box possesses a Hyperspace Arsenal of a whole variety of weapons(katana, grenades, guns, hammers). However, he lacks any actual skill at handling his weapons, and tosses aside any that don't finish the job. Zenkichi manages to counter almost all his weapons because of this, though is severely tired by the process.
  • Rin, from Blue Exorcist episode three onwards, can sling around some pretty impressive pyrotechnics. However, later in the series, he is given a training exercise where he has to light two candles while missing a third and ends up repeatedly torching all three, to his growing frustration.
  • At one point lampshaded in Darker than Black, when a powerful gravity controlling Contractor is easily dispatched within seconds of his appearance.
  • In High School DxD, once Issei becomes a lot stronger than before, he gets hit with this trope seeing as his strength is pretty much him being able to dish out a lot of damage to his opponents. However, he notes that if he can't even hit them then what's the point.
  • Lampshaded in Sora no Otoshimono. Astraea is physically the strongest of the Angeloids, but she's a complete idiot. While this prevents her from using her strength to its full potential, Daedalus points out that "The reason I didn't give her any processing power...is because she doesn't need any."
  • Providing one of the page quotes is Toguro from Yu Yu Hakusho. He isn't unskilled, being well-versed in martial arts before his turn to evil, but in the present story's time, his philosophy is to rely on his enormous strength.
  • Suzaku in Code Geass. He's had combat training his entire life, so on foot he doesn't apply. In a Knightmare, however, he's a complete newbie whose natural abilities and advanced Knightmare allow him to dominate most opponents. This is most obvious when he faces off against Kallen, who is both skilled and strong. Suzaku only ever wins against her when he has a distinct advantage (or when luck intervenes).


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Hulk "SMASH!" Possibly the definitive in strong but unskilled; who needs skill when you can lift mountains?
    • This was also subverted in the Planet Hulk arc where Hulk is marooned on the harsh planet Sakaar and finds himself weaker then he'd normally be on Earth due to unexplained environmental differences. Press ganged into becoming a gladiator, Hulk is forced to develop sufficient skills to survive and claw his way to the top. As a result, by the time the arc ends Hulk has not only gained some combat skills but is even stronger and smarter then he was before. And also really, really mad at the people who shot him into space in the first place. And then Jeph Loeb decided to turn him back into Dumb Muscle just because.
    • Hulk's skill level fluctuates almost as much as his strength. His strength is dependent on how angry he is, while his skill level is largely dependent on which of his many Multiple Personalities is active at the moment.
    • In addition to his strength, the Hulk is often shown making up for his relative lack of skill with raw pragmatism. More particularly, while he's not exactly known for his finesse, the Hulk has gained a tremendous amount of experience in knowing just how to use his strength for best effect, including against those enemies he can't just smash.
  • Whenever there is a Batman/Superman face off then Bats is the Weak but Skilled, with Supes this trope.
    • Superman is often subject to this. Other writers recall just how much time he has spent fighting other superpowered beings as strong or even stronger than he is, and decide he would probably be long dead if he charged at them all the time. This was spelled out with a fight between Superman and Ultraman, where Superman squashed him because Ultraman's method of killing his enemies as soon as he could (as well as presumably sending out his minions) meant that he got very little practice fighting beings on his level.
  • Most of the Gauls in Asterix have shades of this, but Obelix is the only true example. Due to being permanently superpowered, he hasn't even had the benefit of unpowered combat training the others had. This is demonstrated abundantly in the (non-canon) comic The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, where one of the trials pits him and Obelix against a Germanic Judo-master. Obelix's attempts to smash through him with brute force are effortlessly redirected, and he quickly proves entirely unable to hurt the little man. Fortunately, Asterix is there to effectively talk the man into submission... or, rather, distract him with talk and an interest in the man's fighting style that gets the poor German to give Asterix instructions and allow himself to be used as a training dummy, realising he's helped Asterix subdue him only after having his arms and legs tied into knots.
  • Galactus, at least in "Top Trumps". Super high stats in everything but weapon Skill. He doesn't seem to have much technique other than draining the enemy to death, but when you eat planets...
    • Marvel handbooks gives most of cosmic beings like Eternity or Death maximal stats at everything except fighting skills.
  • Lampshaded in Ultimate Spider-Man, when Peter complains that he's been just getting by on luck and his natural strength and speed, so Mary Jane suggests he take martial arts. In the first 100 comics of the series, there's a surprising number of times where he actually gets the crap kicked out of him.
    • Word of God indicates that Peter was in fact very skilled at using his powers and at fighting, especially towards the latter half of his career. It's specified that his successor Miles Morales is drawn much clumsier in order to contrast the two.
  • While The Plutonian often shows himself to be very intelligent and more then able to outwit his foes, when finally forced into combat with someone on his level of power he gets his ass kicked as he never needed to learn to fight.
  • The Juggernaut in X-Men
  • The vampire Cassidy from Preacher (Comic Book). He's shown ripping people apart for most of the series but in the final arc Jesse is able to Curb Stomp him because, as he puts it, he's so strong he never had to learn how to fight.
  • The Mighty has Alpha One who wasn't used to fighting others with his power level and just used his power.
  • Psylocke in X-Men after she becomes telekinetic; she can level mountains, but literally lacks the finesse to pick up a dime. Later, Hellion of the New X-men is shown to be similarly strong but unskilled in the use of his telekinesis.
  • At a party thrown by the Superhomeys in Empowered, Ninjette redirects Captain Havoc's super-strength punch with martial arts, and throws him to the floor. Offscreen sound effects and dialog indicate she does it several more times, to the amusement of the other heroes.

Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • All of the four in With Strings Attached. Because they're Actual Pacifists, they have no intention of getting more skilled with the combat aspects of their magic, though they love figuring out new things to do with it.
  • Discord in the Pony POV Series is stated to be possibly the fifth most powerful being in creation due to exploiting Cannibalism Superpower and eating two of his family members for power, but because of his near unlimited power, he never bothered learning hand to hand combat. While he's very creative and skilled with his Reality Warper powers, his hand to hand combat abilities are lacking.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Mongo in Blazing Saddles is a bit slow, but can take out a horse in one punch.
  • Michael Corvin in Underworld may be the strongest hybrid monster in that universe, second only to his daughter. But what he lacks in combat training (or common sense for that matter), he compensates for in New Powers as the Plot Demands. While not nearly as strong, Selene isn't exactly a wuss herself. However, she is his foil in the form of Weak but Skilled. Her centuries of training has made her practically invincible.
  • Obadiah Stane from Iron Man. His Iron Monger armor is a bipedal tank, but he is dependent on his engineers to help him keep up with Tony.
  • Count Adhemar: "No style whatsoever... neither has an anvil."
  • In The Matrix, while the other characters use a variety of styles and moves, the Agents pretty much just punch and dodge, relying on their superhuman strength and speed. Discussed here.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Elenium by David Eddings has Otha. Given tremendous power by the dark god Azash, but an absolute idiot when it comes to actually applying that power. Most ably demonstrated when a horde of undead guards raised by Otha proves ridiculously easy to walk around because they're set to guard specific cobbles of the street and nothing else. Mostly for their amusement the protagonists push one of them into the other, and watch the domino effect cause the entire squad to turn on itself, since Otha also didn't consider friendly fire.
  • Garion, the hero of the Belgariad also by David Eddings. Garion is rather startled to find out he has more natural power at age 15 than most centuries-old sorcerers do. It would be a Mary Sue, but Garion is the first to admit he doesn't have enough understanding of the forces involved, so he tends to leave that sort of thing to his Mentors.
  • Victor Sells/The Shadowman from The Dresden Files is at least as strong a magical talent as the title character, particularly when powered up by the storms he draws on, but because he has little formal magical training he makes some sloppy errors that Harry is able to exploit, and can't think of creative methods to deal with Harry beyond "smash harder", while Harry, crippled by being unable to kill with magic, manages to outwit him quite easily.
    • Harry Dresden himself views himself this way, though as a full-fledged wizard he's got a lot more subtle skill than the average warlock or sorcerer off the street, and he gets better as the books go on. He thinks around problems, as opposed to through them.
    • Harry also has this opinion of Maeve in Summer Knight, though others suggest that this may have been Obfuscating Stupidity on Maeve's part.
  • Richard Rahl from Sword of Truth was a pretty strong guy before acquiring the eponymous weapon. For most of the first book, he relies on the sword's ability to cut through pretty much anything and his ability to hit things really hard. Once he really learns how to use it, he becomes Master Swordsman (and the magic doesn't hurt, either).
  • The Titans from the Death Gate Cycle - huge golems created by the Sartans in the World of Fire to serve as simple workers. The Sartans gave them access to the most basic level of magic, in order to help with their work - the kind of spells a 4-years-old Sartan child could weave. But they made the mistake of granting them enormous, primal power to back it up with. Thus, when the titans inevitably got Turned Against Their Masters, they proved to be quite dangerous to the Weak but Skilled Spartans. (Oh yeah, and they're huge, Nigh Invulnerable giants, so there's that too.)
  • In a weird way, Harry Potter. He has the raw power to produce a solid, stable patronus at 13, and is able to access a fairly large reservoir of magical power (enough to face down Death Eaters and Voldemort when he's 17). However, he is continuously outclassed by Hermione, who is incredibly skilled, and any other wizard or witch who doesn't just rely on raw power for their magic.
  • Caelan, from the Skulduggery Pleasant series. As a vampire, he has superhuman stregth, agility and stamina, but absolutely no idea how to use them in a fight. His primary tactic appears to be "leap at anything threatening Valkyrie, with plams outstretched and shouting to attract attention". Given that the world is full of much older and more powerful vampires who can fight, ordinary humans with magic and/or martial arts skills, and, you know, guns! It's pretty stupid.
    • Really, the only reason he's alive is that other vampires aren't allowed to kill him, and every other threat is either too focussed on the main characters or simply considers him beneath their notice.
    • Admittedly, that's only in his human form, in his actual vampire form he's a lot stronger and faster, and seemingly immune to pain, and would have killed Valkyrie and Fletcher if he hadn't fallen off that pier.
  • In the Gaunts Ghosts novel Only in Death, Eszrah ap Niht gets his hands on a power sword specifically, Gaunt's. It is an Absurdly Sharp Blade that brooks no resistance from most of the Chaos mooks, but he finds himself outclassed by a Chaos officer who actually knows swordfighting, though said Chaos officer was not wanting for strength either since he was using an Eviscerator.
  • The blonde giant in The Millennium Trilogy is freakishly strong and literally feels no pain, but he's a really terrible boxer. He never learned to fight properly because he didn't care about getting hit.
  • This is how Vin starts off with her powers as a Mistborn in the heroic fantasy series of the same name. Under the tutelage of Kelsier, she undergoes Boxing Lessons for Superman and Takes a Level In Badass in the process. Possibly subverted, however, in that it rapidly becomes apparent that a Mistborn without some amount of proper training isn't that strong at all.
  • Furycrafters as a whole could be seen as this in the Codex Alera. While Furycrafting has its own talents and skillsets to learn, what makes Tavi unique is that, due to a lack of serious Furycraft until late in the story, he ends up having to learn how to outwit enemies where his contemporaries would simply power through. When Tavi's powers finally do start to develop, he's able to apply his crafting in ways most wouldn't have considered as a result.
  • The Doctor in the Doctor Who EighthDoctorAdventures comes across like this. He seems to be stronger than most humans, but in a fight he's likely to do something clumsy and end up hurting himself as badly as he hurts his opponent, or just attempt some karate while making Funny Bruce Lee Noises.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Season 1 and 2 of Heroes has Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamura, the former a huge catalogue of power but wildly inept in use of them (at least until his power gets seriously downgraded and he starts using his head), the latter a manchild "master of time and space".
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer villain "The Judge". A Nigh Invulnerable demon who One Hit Kills from range. So used to curb-stomping entire armies and never having to worry about dodging or actually fighting beyond "point and kill it", when Buffy uses a rocket launcher, he doesn't even know to dodge.
    • Glorificus/Glory, a powerful yet bratty Physical God that could tear apart buildings with her bare hands, but when Buffy used a weapon that could actually hurt her she was swiftly trashed.
    • In the 6th season the otherwise physically unremarkable Warren Mears temporarily became this thanks to some Applied Phlebotinum. In a fight with Buffy the far more skilled Slayer got in several punches and kicks to every blow Warren landed on her - but while he shrugged off her hits almost at once Buffy felt every one of his and was visibly tiring before she was able to destroy the source of his power.
    • Caleb from Season 7, as well as the Turok-Han (prior to the finale induced Villain Decay). Punch-for-Punch, Buffy is noticeably outclassed by both, serving as a potent reminder about the overconfidence the Slayer Strength may bring.
  • The Evil Queen / Regina from Once Upon a Time is the Manipulative Bastard version of this. She's not very smart, and completely Genre Blind. But she has tools to make up for that—in the fairy tale realm her army and her magic, in the real world she can cower everyone with her status as mayor. With her hate driving her, she uses these to plow through any obstacle in her path.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze protagonist Gentaro Kisaragi starts off like this, having no fighting skills when he straps on the belt and starts fighting Zodiarts. This puts him at a disadvantage when he comes up against more skilled opponents, like the Unicorn Zodiarts (a member of the school's fencing club) and Kamen Rider Meteor (a practitioner of Jeet Kun Do). Eventually he takes a level in badass thanks to some training from his homeroom teacher Haruka Uesugi, who's a talented kickboxer.


Sports[edit | hide]

  • In the City vs Country Cricket matches of the olden days, the country teams (mainly farmers) had more power but less refined technique than their city opponents. The term agricultural shot or cow shot, meaning a full-blooded swing that will probably result in the batsman either hitting the ball out of the ground or getting out, is a relic of this.
  • Quite common in combat sports, most notably in boxing. Some prospects pick up the sport at the age where most fighters would already be pros, so they have to become pros themselves quickly if they want to have a long professional career, which means neglecting valuable training and experience. A notable example is Rocky Marciano, who was 20 years old when he started boxing while serving in the army, in 1946, and made his professional debut in the following year. He became the World Heavyweight Champion at 28 years of age and nobody managed to take the title away from him until he gave it up himself by retiring from boxing with the undefeated record of 49-0-0 (43 KOs).


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The old Marvel Super-Heroes role-playing game actually quantified this. A "Fighting" score of Remarkable (30) generally indicated guys like Spider-Man and the Hulk, who had super-strength and clearly knew how to throw a punch, but had no real training. Guys like Thor and the Thing, who also had that natural ability but combined it with serious training, had higher scores.
  • In Mutants and Masterminds, buying attack bonus (how good you are at hitting) and attack damage is independent (meaning you can buy one but not the other), as is dodging vs. soaking. Furthermore, rules allow you to permanently lower your maximum in one of those scores to raise the maximum in its opposite. This allows you to create characters that can hit and dodge very well, but can't deal damage or take a punch. On the opposide side you can make these, who can soak tank shells and crush said tank with a single punch, but couldn't hit the broad side of a barn or dodge anything. Unfortunately, certain skills and feats, like Power Attack and Impervious, completely broke down this balance.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • A metafictional example of this is present in almost all video games with level-up systems. Endgame will have some Smash Mooks that, Statistically Speaking, could probably destroy a planet with a well placed punch due to their STR and may have a lot of HP...but they have no techniques other than variations on "hit the heroes", and AI scripts that border on Artificial Stupidity at best, thus: Unskilled but Strong.
  • Computer controlled opponents in general are difficult to program, and are often made stronger and faster[1] to compensate for their tactical shortcomings.
  • In Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, all Servants are supposed to have superhuman combat skills. Servants of The Berserker class don't, losing their fighting skills as a part of being The Berserker, but they gain massive power boosts in return. Berserker in Fate/stay night is so fast and so strong that actual fighting techniques are near worthless against him, as all the fancy parries and stances in the world won't help against someone who strikes faster than you can react and shatter your weapon with a single blow. In Fate/Zero Servant Berserker averts this trope, as his Noble Phantasm is specifically that he retains his fighting skills despite being mad. This renders him an utter terror in melee.
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has Julius Belmont. He can't use magic (even though he should be able to, considering some of his ancestors, but whatever), which is necessary to break through sealed and permanently destroy boss enemies (if you don't, they will regenerate). He gets through the castle through equal parts his Ancestral Weapon and pure awesome. This winds up Gameplay and Story Segregation though, as one bonus mode places the player in control of Julius, the game is much harder (Normal Soma mode can be beaten mostly through brute force and healing items, but Julius can't pause the game and thus can't open the inventory), and while the seal doesn't need to be drawn, the game shows the sealing animation (though with the expected sequence, Julius is joined by a mage early on).
  • Marisa Kirisame of Touhou is perplexingly both Unskilled but Strong and Weak but Skilled. She lacks any inherent abilities and can only fight as well as she does by studying really hard, but 90% of that study is purely towards making bigger explosions, lacking the finesse and control of other Magicians (most notably Patchouli) and relying on Master Sparking her opponents into oblivion.
    • A straighter example is Utsuho. Not really brought up in the text, but very apparent in the fight (while Marisa fights more or less the same way as everyone else). Subterranean Animism consists almost entirely of gimmick patterns. Except for Utsuho. Her patterns are quite straightforward, making up for that by way of having the largest bullets in the series, and spamming them. Furthermore, while most stage 6 bosses are all about variety, Utsuho sticks with what she does best, not even changing up her nonspells.
  • Flak and Jugger from the GBA Advance Wars games. Because this is a strategy game, A Commander Is You renders their units as Glass Cannons, increasing their offense while hurting their defense.
  • Compared to the rest of the cast from his game, Q in Street Fighter III flails wildly and throws very telegraphed punches... But when he does hit, it hurts.
  • In Iji, Iosa the Invincible has Deflector Shields that are immune to all weapons and fast, powerful attacks... that are widely telegraphed, allowing a quick dodge and retaliation.
  • The Heavy Handed Trait in Fallout gives you more unarmed damage, but lower critical hit damage. Worth noting is that the Fallout universe correlates critical hits with finesse.
    • Likewise, the Gifted Trait increases all of your primary stats while reducing both your skill levels and the rate that they improve.
  • While not superpowered, dancers and yoga instructors in Liberal Crime Squad have the highest physical stats of all professions, even surpassing soldiers and agents. They tend to not have any combat skill.
  • Tekken gives us Miguel Caballero Rojo, a Spaniard who enters a world fighting tournament with nothing but the ability to swing his legs around and throw haymaker punches as his only training. No one should dare underestimate him.
  • Mario Golf has the characters vary between this and Weak but Skilled. People who fall into this category include Mario (who would usually fall into Jack of All Stats in other titles), Daisy (GC), Donkey Kong, Bowser, Harry (N64), Shadow Mario (GC), Metal Mario (N64), and Petey Piranha (GC).
    • Bowser is this in the Mario & Luigi RPGs. The only attacks he knows is punch things really hard, breathe fire and punch things even harder. He's good at directing his minions, though.
  • BlazBlue gives us Makoto Nanaya, whose main form of combat involves just mostly punching people, with some Energy Ball dropping to go and some Doppelganger Spin. In-story, her Ars Magus aptitude is average, meaning that utility ars and aforementioned Energy Ball are her everyday techniques. That's the "Unskilled". She's "Strong" on the part that due to beastkin heritage, she has monstrous strength and durability (11K health when 13K is the highest on normal). So, her punches CAN knock her target across the room, make one huge impact crater on the go, and she can just lift her friend just fine on a dead sprint. And thanks to that, she's counted as one of the most powerful characters in the game.
  • Julius as he appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D uses only punches, body slams, and charges for his attacks. However, the fact that he's a Bonus Boss in a Kingdom Hearts game should give you a good idea about how tough he is.
  • Fire Emblem: The Fighter and Warrior classes are the embodiment of this trope, with loads of raw strength and HP but poor speed and skill. This is further perpetuated in their battle animations, where half of the time they're practically stumbling over themselves. The fighter's axe and warrior's bow criticals, for example, consist of nothing more than the unit flailing his weapon around uselessly before attacking.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • As the above quote explains, this was the fatal flaw of the El Goonish Shive Big Bad Damien.
  • The Order of the Stick: Xykon doesn't have the refined techniques of a wizard, and quite frankly doesn't want it. In his own words, the only two things a person needs are "Force in as great a concentration as you can manage, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide." However, you don't get to epic levels without a ton of practice.
    • It's also worth noting that Xykon is also dangerously clever and full of nasty tricks. That Unskilled but Strong behavior isn't actually a lack of skill, it's Xykon being lazy.
  • Fighter in Eight Bit Theater is an absolute savant in swordplay, but it mostly comes from innate talent which he never bothered to improve upon. A personification of Sloth tries to get Fighter to realize the folly in this and rely as much on his mind as on his skill. Fighter kills Sloth with his swords because his brain told him that'd be faster.
  • Bob the Beholder in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic isn't terribly bright and lacks finesse. He succeeds at his tasks in spite of this because he's... well, a beholder.
  • Subverted in Spinnerette, where the titular hero's spider strength is no match for a black belt in aikido.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Captain Hammer of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog seems to get everywhere on his super strength (born with the ability to "bench press 500 pounds") and damage resistance (which is a lot in a world where the super villains we know of are 1: a Mad Scientist 2: a guy who can make things moist 3: a horse) and his plans are limited to "smash the device". The first time he gets hurt he runs away crying like a little girl.

"OH GOD! Is this pain?! I think this is what pain feels like! MOMMY! SOMEONE MATERNAL!"

  • Gustave and Alfred from Darwin's Soldiers are both Funny Animals (Nile crocodile and American bison, respectively) with Super Strength. Neither of them is a trained martial artist so their fighting style consists of "beat the opponent with anything handy until they stop moving".
  • Chair from Nerdy Show's "Dungeons & Doritos". Justified in that he was a chair turned into a dwarf a few weeks ago. That and his player tends to roll high.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Bamm-Bamm in The Flintstones.
  • Superboy in Young Justice, who has all of Superman's strength and speed but lacks the discipline to use them to their full extent.
    • It turns out that Megan's psychic powers are the same way, after she accidentally causes a psychic simulation to go awry, ultimately putting the rest of the team into a coma. J'onn speculates that she could be one of the most powerful Martian psychics ever.
  • The Superfriends episode "The Evil From Krypton" featured a General Zod Captain Ersatz called Zy-Kree. He had all of Superman's powers, but no skill. Aquaman is able to hold his own and outmaneuver him with tactics. When he and Superman clash, Superman demonstrates that he actually knows how to fight, and pwns him before sending him back to the Phantom Zone.

Aquaman: You did it! You defeated him!
Green Lantern: Zy-Kree had forgotten one thing: his power equaled yours, but your skill was superior.

  • Savage Opress, an alchemically altered warrior introduced in the third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, manages to hold his own against the highly skilled Asajj Ventress and master duelist Dooku through raw power alone.
  • An interesting example is Avatar: The Last Airbender, being a good bender more or less requires being a good martial artist; but the effectiveness of this fighting style is dependent on the ability to bend an element, as standing ten feet away from your opponent and waving your arms around is not a viable fighting style unless magic is involved. This trope is both played straight and subverted.
    • Played straight with Ozai, Katara and Toph, who are all pretty much helpless without their powers, especially Toph; who is one of the most dangerous people in the world with her Earthbending, and a blind little girl without it
    • Subverted with Aang, Zuko, Azula and Iroh, each of whom has recieved or given themselves additional training, and can at least hold their own without using their bending.
  • Korra from The Legend of Korra is described in these terms:

Katara: She's strong.
Other Master: She lacks restraint.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • New military technology often came out before the tactics to use it were fully developed but sometimes it remains effective because of its sheer power. One of the most prominent examples is that commanders in World War I rarely knew how to use tanks effectively, but simply sending them forward to attack was incredibly potent. This is less common with modern technology as modern weapons design has hit a plateau without many entirely new innovations that actually work [2] and the modern R&D process has learned to include steps to avoid this.
  • Computer hardware often falls into a similar problem where drivers and programs aren't yet optimized to the new hardware, but as new hardware it is still substantially more powerful than its predecessors.
  1. In terms of raw speed, rather than finesse
  2. The 70 years following the introduction of smokeless powder first in 1847 saw the first modern cartridge appeared in 1869, the box magazine in 1879, the machine gun in 1883, the semi-automatic in 1892, chromed barrels in 1911 and the man portable full automatic in 1916 among many other innovations. By contrast the 70 years proceeding 2016 have largely been refinements of the existing concepts and failed experiments outside of optics and artillery, which don't require substantially different different tactics from their predecessors, and vehicles, which seem to be hitting similar plateaus