Created By: TerminusEst13 on October 11, 2011 Last Edited By: TerminusEst13 on October 21, 2011
Troped

World Of Action Girls

Every major woman is an Action Girl.

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Gender equality is a bit of a funny thing.

Not too long ago, having a woman kicking ass was an earth-shocking novelty. Now, however, there are loads of tropes and archetypes that effortlessly manage to combine a double-dose of X chromosome and a double-dose of asskickery. We have powerful video game heroines, we have powerful film heroines, we have powerful comic heroines, people could go on and on about examples left and right and all over the place.

In some fiction, though, it seems that being a woman instantly gives you masterful ability in gunslinging, martial arts, swordplay, or sometimes more. In these settings, almost every major female character is an incredibly dangerous badass that could take on the police and military with their hands tied behind their back, and are far more numerous than the men to boot. While that's not to say that the ass-kicking men are non-existent, they are either secondary characters or just simply vastly outnumbered. It's far more likely that the men will be a Non-Action Guy, tagging along and acting as either Mission Control or moral support.

Note that when every man is just as badass as the women, and the numbers are fairly equal, that's a World of Badass. This trope is not the women of a World of Badass; rather, it is when the numbers are decisively tilted in the women's side. Sometimes this can lead to Unfortunate Implications for several reasons, but let's not go into that.

Loosely related to the Pink Bishōjo Ghetto.


Examples:

  • Black Lagoon is almost the poster for this trope. While Mr. Chang and Dutch certainly are no slouches, compared to Revy, Balalaika, Roberta, Eda, Fabiola, Sawyer, Shenhua, and others, they might as well just toss their guns up and kick back.
  • Marilith is less extreme, as Marshall does get his share of the spotlight, but Valentino, Marilith, and even the barely-trained Kimiko overshine him.
  • Noir, not is only almost every member of the cast some kind of badass assassin, but most of the cast is also women.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has shades of this. While no one ever comes close to having the power of Buffy and Willow, the other females on the show do hold their own from time to time. Even Dawn and Anya get some badass moments from time to time (Dawn doesn't get any till the Season 6 finale though), and even Joyce gets in on the action, with a particularly awesome moment in "School Hard".
  • Mid-Childa from the Lyrical Nanoha series. To the point where the local Acceptable Feminine Goals seem to begin with "become a Special Forces Captain" and go up the badass ladder from there.
  • Claymore actually tries to justify this trope. Women inherently make better Claymores than men, because men are more likely to become Awakened Beings.
  • Strike Witches is essentially about teenage action girls with magical power who tends to use guns as big as themselves to fight invading aliens.
  • El Hazard features a cast of magically empowered females, with Fujisawa as its only noteworthy male since Makoto and Jinnai are a pair of highschool students with no combat ability whatsoever. Priestesses Shayla, Afura (wind), Miz, demon god Ifurita (who's a biological superweapon), and later Kalia (along with Ifurita, one of the most powerful beings).
    • In addition, both of the key positions of power are held by women: with Rune Venus as Roshtaria's benevolent ruler, and Diva as the enigmatic queen of the Buggrom Empire. Even the Eye of God, which floats above El Hazard, can only be activated by the two princesses of the royal house of Roshtaria.
  • Tenchi Muyo!, with a full cast of super powered heroines... and only two males, Tenchi and his grandfather the legendary Jurian prince, Yosho, worth mentioning. He and the others often have to rely on Washuu's reality warping scientific genius, Ryoko's raw power and tenacity, and Ayeka's Jurian powers to save them. Then there's the spiritual embodiment of Jurai's greatest battleship Tsunami, queen of the universe (by proxy of Jurai) Funaho, and captain of the royal guard Misaki. With women like these running the show, who needs Tenchi, indeed.
  • The Solonoids from Gall Force.
  • Roughly every Magical Girl show, for obvious reasons. A lot of times, it's not just the main cast members; the monsters of the week are often all-female as well (as is often the case in Cutey Honey or Sailor Moon).
  • Drowtales has several badass male characters and several non-badass females, but mainly features the loads and loads of amazons. Justified in that elven sexual dimorphism is the reverse of human: females are taller and stronger. The dominant culture values fertility, strength in combat, and honor. Thus, princesses are expected to grow up to be military commanders.
  • In Kim Possible, most female characters can put up a fight, even those who've never been in a fight before, like Kim's school friend Monique. The male characters tend to be klutzes if not ridiculous experts in non-combatant fields such as rocket science.
  • Gunslinger Girl is like this. Not only are all the characters young girls, but all of them have been trained to take advantage of how they're young girls.
Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • October 11, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • Noir, not is only almost every member of the cast some kind of badass assassin, but most of the cast is also women.
  • October 11, 2011
    darkclaw
    Why can't we point out the Unfortunate Implications? I personally think that any and all Double Standard related tropes should at least point out the Unfortunate Implications, to help everyone. In this case, I think the Unfortunate Implications are: Men = incompetent and "weak", Women = all women can kick ass. Also, Men Are The Expendable Gender is in play at least in Black Lagoon (how often do women die in comparison to male characters in Black Lagoon?). However, although this seems to be misandrist...it has subtler Unfortunate Implications for women as well. It basically says to women, "If you can't kick ass, you're worthless as a woman." Not every woman needs or wants to learn to fight (and nor does every man need or want to learn to fight either).
  • October 11, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I don't think we need to go into it, but not because of any need for Caution, but the fact that other pages like Action Girl already go into it. We should just refer those interested there. However this line: "In some fiction, though, it seems that lacking a penis instantly gives you ability to kick far more ass than anyone else." I actually find vaguely offensive and not even true to the trope. This isn't all girls kick more ass than everyone, it's every female is a badass. It's not the same thing.
  • October 11, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    I don't think it's that bad, but I changed it anyway.

    And perhaps we'd be allowed to, or perhaps not. I didn't want to partially because I wanted to remain constructive and objective, rather than rant about something implied rather than intentional. Hopefully not intentional, at least.
  • October 11, 2011
    MiinU
    example deleted.
  • October 12, 2011
    TheChainMan
    I think Real Women Never Wear Dresses should be mentioned somewhere.
  • October 12, 2011
    DannebrogSpy
    Strike Witches is essential about teenage action girls with magical power who tends to use guns as big as them self to fight invading aliens.
  • October 12, 2011
    Dawnwing
    Does this one count?
    • Every she-cat in the Warrior Cats series, save for a few, trains in fighting just like the males and is well able to hold her own in battle.
  • October 12, 2011
    gneissisnice
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer has shades of this. While no one ever comes close to having the power of Buffy and Willow, the other females on the show do hold their own from time to time. Even Dawn and Anya get some badass moments from time to time (Dawn doesn't get any till the Season 6 finale though), and even Joyce gets in on the action, with a particularly awesome moment in "School Hard".
  • October 12, 2011
    captainpat
    "This can lead to severely Unfortunate Implications, but let's not go into that."

    then don't bring it up

    We don't point out the Unfortunate Implications of a trope or use other YMMV material because it has nothing to do with describing the actual trope. Try to be objective as possible in the trope description.
  • October 12, 2011
    Danel
    I feel that this trope is a bad idea - in practice, it's rapidly going to become an opportunity to gush about how many Action Girls your favourite show has, or to complain about Men Are The Expendable Gender.
  • October 12, 2011
    MiinU
    ^@Danel -- not necessarily. From what I can see, this seems to be a legitimate trope, especially since there's the Sliding Scale Of Gender Inequality and other gender related tropes. As long as the examples are valid, and the comments remain objective, I see no harm in this.
  • October 12, 2011
    Koveras
  • October 12, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    "We don't point out the Unfortunate Implications of a trope or use other YMMV material because it has nothing to do with describing the actual trope."

    That's not really true, I think. I think saying "Yes, this can have unfortunate implications, let's remain objective instead of talking about it" will curb discussion like Daniel mentioned. Though I do notice that the linked examples integrate it into the trope instead of just coming out with how it's unfortunate at the end, so maybe I could try and incorporate it better instead of just putting it out there.

    @Daniel: I'll admit this has a bit of a pitfall in that people might include a series with just two or four Action Girls (or absolutely no men at all) and consider it a whole world. But I think it's a legitimate trope, and I don't think we should smack it aside just because of how people "might" interpret it.
  • October 12, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    Avatar The Last Airbender is not an example according to the current trope description, as all the male characters of any significance are incredibly skilled martial artist action heroes as well. It's just a World Of Badass.
  • October 12, 2011
    Premonition45
    The Matrix film series.
  • October 12, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    Again, The Matrix is just a World Of Badass. The male action heroes of the franchise outnumber the female ones.
  • October 12, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    That's a good point, dangerwaffle. Added clarification.
  • October 12, 2011
    Premonition45
    The only non-badass female character through those movies was the Oracle.
  • October 12, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    Well, yes (actually, I can't remember if Persephone does anything badass, and I don't think Sati or Kamala do, and there's the old lady on the Zion council, and there's also Gina Torres' character who I think mostly stayed out of combat - but it honestly doesn't really matter). How many non-badass male characters were there? How many male action heroes were there compared to the Action Girls? Just click on your own link and have a look at the character page. The trope description says for a work to qualify, ass-kicking men should be either strictly secondary or vastly outnumbered. In The Matrix male action heroes are both much more numerous and mostly more important than the female ones, which makes it not this trope.
  • October 12, 2011
    nitrokitty
    Just about every magical girl series ever, for obvious reasons. Might as well list the Ur Example, Sailor Moon.
  • October 12, 2011
    Jordan
    I think Sliding Scale Of Gender Inequality and Gender Is No Object more or less cover this. And also to be considered is that in a World Of Badass. I'd see Black Lagoon as more like that- it just happens to be a World Of Badass with a lot of female characters.
  • October 12, 2011
    MiinU

    Anime

    • El Hazard features a cast of magically empowered females, with Fujisawa as its only noteworthy male since Makoto and Jinnai are a pair of highschool students with no combat ability whatsoever.
      • Priestesses Shayla (fire), Afura (wind), and Miz (water) handle most of the fighting.
      • On the villainous side of things, there's the demon god Ifurita, who's a biological superweapon, and later, Kalia, two of the most powerful beings in all El Hazard.
      • In addition, both of the key positions of power are held by women: with Rune Venus as Roshtaria's benevolent ruler, and Diva as the enigmatic queen of the Buggrom Empire. Even the Eye of God, which floats above El Hazard, can only be activated by the two princesses of the royal house of Roshtaria.

    • Tenchi Muyo is another example, with a full cast of super powered heroines... and only two males, Tenchi and his grandfather the legendary Jurian prince, Yosho, worth mentioning. Despite this, he and the others often have to rely on Washuu's reality warping scientific genius, Ryoko's raw power and tenacity, and Ayeka's Jurian powers to save them.
      • To say nothing of Tsunami, who's the spiritual embodiment of Jurai's greatest battleship, Funaho, who's not only the queen of Jurai, but literally queen of the universe by proxy! Plus, there's her sister, Misaki, who's captain of the royal guard. With women like these running the show, who needs Tenchi, indeed.
  • October 12, 2011
    peccantis
    Better to not use Amazon in the title, it's too specific and confusable.
  • October 12, 2011
    Falco
    Edit: never mind.
  • October 12, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    And again, Mass Effect (and every other Bioware game where I can remember the cast pretty well) has absolutely no shortage of badass male characters, so not this trope. World Of Badass if anything.
  • October 12, 2011
    Wntermute
  • October 12, 2011
    Falco
    ^^ I'll buy that. Sorry, didn't read the bit about how it has to be female-dominated.
  • October 12, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    @peccantis: Confusable how?
  • October 13, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    • Not sure if Drowtales counts or if it's just a World Of Badass set in a matriarchal society, seeing as there are several badass male characters and several non - badass females in addition to the loads and loads of amazons.
  • October 13, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    ^^^ Sorry if I was snippy, Falco; a bunch of people have already made that mistake, and I'm expecting it'll be a general problem for this trope (and, worse, that it'll attract a lot of complaining from people who think any Action Girls at all are unrealistic), so I've been trying to head it off.

    ^ Frodo: I don't think Drowtales would count based on that description, but I'm not familiar with the work. Maybe Terminus can clarify there?
  • October 13, 2011
    peccantis
    Terminus Est 13, well, "Amazons" could be confused for "Actual Amazons". You know, lost/mysterious tribe of women warriors etc.
  • October 14, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the work either, danger. While the final word would need to be from someone far more familiar with the work, the way it's worded ("several" badass males compared to "loads and loads of" amazons) makes me think it's good for inclusion. Added.

    @Peccantis: I don't think that's a real problem, considering Hot Amazon or Amazonian Beauty doesn't refer to the tribe of women warriors, but I'd be open for alternate suggestions for name. World Of Kickass Women? World Of Action Girls? Badass Favors Women? Action Girl Overload? Action Girl Takeover?
  • October 14, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    Action Girl Overload would inspire a lot of complaining from people who think any Action Girls are too many, so I vote no on that one. World Of Action Girls might be good, since referencing World Of Badass might help remind people that there's another trope for that.
  • October 15, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Basilisk may count, as pretty much everyone except Oboro and the old lady near the end are powerful, deadly ninjas.
  • October 15, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    On the Drowtales issue:
  • October 17, 2011
    MorganWick
    I don't know what sort of image "Amazons" would produce, but I do know that "World of Amazons", while I see where it's coming from, is certainly an odd name for the trope. Even if it were interpreted as a snowclone for tropes like World Of Badass, "every girl is a badass" and "every girl is an Amazon" may not have the same connotations (see Amazonian Beauty).
  • October 17, 2011
    Arivne
  • October 17, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    Changed, then.
  • October 17, 2011
    Dawnwing
    Re-posting, since you never said whether it counts or not (the trope is not human-only, is it?)

    • Every she-cat in the Warrior Cats series, save for a rare few, trains in fighting just like the males and is well able to hold her own in battle.
  • October 17, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    ^ That's World Of Badass, since the male cats are fighters too, and the females are neither tougher nor more important nor more numerous.
  • October 17, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    In Kim Possible, most female characters can put up a fight, even those who've never been in a fight before, like Kim's school friend Monique. The male characters tend to be klutzes if not ridiculous experts in non-combatant fields such as rocket science.
  • October 17, 2011
    Jordan
    Just a note, Basilisk isn't really a good example- not only are the male ninjas generally as skiled as the female ones, but the heroine is generally the weakest/least effective in the series. I'm not sure it's a World Of Badass either- it's like these two ninja clans all have special abilities, but it's implied it's an anomaly.
  • October 18, 2011
    SunnyV
  • October 19, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    Yeah, Dawn. It's definitely World Of Badass. Sorry.
  • October 20, 2011
    TerminusEst13
    Everyone cool with me launching this in a couple days?
  • October 21, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    The Fire Emblem series might count, though it's far more equal-opportunity between the two genders.
  • October 21, 2011
    lulzipents
    In any modern work, all girls are action girls thans to feminism.
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