Created By: Earnest on December 30, 2008
Nuked

Weak, but skilled

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Trope
Here goes.

So your hero won the Superpower Lottery, he doesn't ever train, and never loses. When someone comes along looking for a fight, but his power level isn't 9,000, it's 1! ... and he wins.

It's not Gameplay and Story Segregation, they really are weaker than the hero, it's just that they know how to use what little power they have with such skill that they can shut down most stronger opponents with ease, especially if unprepared.

These types will usually start out much stronger than the hero (at least in terms of feats) but won't keep up with his rising powers. Often act as mysterious mentor/protector to the protagonist, bailing him out (but forcing him to fight his battles) and urging him to actually train his power to stop the bad guy, who this character can't take out because the bad guy is both strong and skilled.

Similar to Badass Normal, except with powers (or Serious Business skills) similar to the hero. Usually, mentors whose body has grown weak with age become this.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • December 30, 2008
    Alucard
    This looks like it'll be hard to define between it and Badass Normal - the trope is nice and clear, but people who skim through it might not see the difference. A defining line to say how this works might be in order.

    Here's betting Kenpachi Zaraki somehow gets added for not using Bankai, even though he's already overflowing with natural talent.
  • December 30, 2008
    Jupiah
    This sounds like Badass Normal, or at least, this is one method by which one becomes a Badass Normal, and the most common justification for why a Badass Normal is able to keep up with more powerful individuals. I think they should be merged together.
  • December 30, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    It does show up in Gundam00 a few times.
  • December 30, 2008
    Cassy
    A few video game bosses are like that, with little power or few H Ps but you have to know/find the trick to get through their barrier of super-skill.
  • December 31, 2008
    sgamer82
    Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple Creepy Child Chikage Kushinada is a form of this. She's a grade school girl but is shown to be at least on par with the teenage characters because she has such high enough skill to fight and defeat normal adults. She is remarked as being a fighter of 100% skill, 0% power, rather than a split between the two.
  • December 31, 2008
    Number87
    Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam. While Amuro has much more powerful Psychic Powers, Char is a much more experienced pilot, so the two are evenly matched.
  • December 31, 2008
    DragonQuestZ
    Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond is like this at a few points.
  • December 31, 2008
    Earnest
    The difference between this and Badass Normal is that this character is usually of the same nature as the setting's hero. If the hero has powers, so does he. If there aren't any powers and everyone is normal, they're either physically weaker or less well equipped somehow. If there's mechas, they have an old or knockoff suit.

    If it helps, the idea for this came from replaying Okami. In it, Waka fights Amaterasu twice, and though he loses he urges her to get stronger. It's clear that he's far stronger than Ammy through most of the game's beginning and middle because he shows up to help in the very final fight, and manages to block a full strength blast from Yami long enough to deliver a Final Speech. It helps he's been awake and active for 200 years while Amaterasu was weakened Sealed Good In A Can, but he's still just a mortal and survives fighting gods.

    Still, if the consensus is for merger I'll go with that.
  • December 31, 2008
    henke37
    Checklist:
    • Has super powers
    • Is weak if you only look at the powers
    • Still managers to win over people considered stronger
  • December 31, 2008
    Alucard
    @Cassy: That's a Lethal Joke Character (maybe a Squishy Wizard, but that conflicts with the idea of the trope).
  • December 31, 2008
    Jupiah
    I'm convinced, this is tropable. You should mention how this is a very common justification for Badass Normals in the final writeup though. Now for example:

    This is how Ranma Saotome is able to regularly defeat his rival Ryoga Hibiki. Ryoga is insanely strong and durable due to his Walking The Earth lifestyle, but his martial arts skills are mostly self-taught. Ranma, who spent ten years training in martial arts with his father, is able to overcome the large difference in physical power between them with sheer skill. Eventually, they become almost evenly matched, as Ryoga's constant fights with Ranma improve his skill considerably.

    This trope is pretty commonplace in Ranma One Half actually. Ranma also defeated Prince Herb, who far outclassed him in pretty much every way possible, by using a technique to gather up all of the energy Herb was giving off and turning it against him. Happosai is a frail old man, but he can easily toss far stronger opponents through walls or over the horizon by redirecting their momentum with a pipe.
  • December 31, 2008
    SomeSortOfTroper
    You can get this trope occuring a lot in sword battles where one character is big and tall with a huge broadsword that he'll try to just bash you with while the other character is fast and lithe and uses a smaller, sharper sword. Second guy wins, normally.

    E.g.
    • In The Thirteenth Warrior, one of the 13 intenionally picks a fight with a big, young mook letting smash at his shields before showing off this trope.

    • In Rob Roy, the titular character has a final showdown with his nemesis, a weaker smaller individual with a smaller sharper rapier to his claymore. However the Roy wins since his opponents gets tired out from having to act so fastly dealing with such heavy blows.
  • December 31, 2008
    BlackDragon
    I dunno about 'superpowers', but I recall an opponent from Hajime No Ippo who seems to fall under this... Compared to Ippo, he's a weakling, and he's got no badass knockout techniques. In fact, he's never scored a knockout in his career... and yet, he gives Ippo a run for his money by playing mind-games, making frequent use of clinches, and using a stance that allows him to easily reach with point-getting jabs, while sacrificing his ability to score heavy blows. Definitely not badass, and the audience hates him, but by playing with the rules, he manages to win most of his matches. He would've beaten Ippo too, if he hadn't accidentally scored a solid blow on Ippo during a dodge, and gotten entranced with the 'feel' of the knockout punch. Seeing that Ippo had been weakened by his nonstop, failed, attempts at hitting him, he tries for a knockout - and of coruse, Ippo counters to score one of his trademark last-second KO's.

    He's nowhere near the power-level of ANYONE else, but he makes masterful use of what he does have, and while it doesn't make him popular, it does make him win.
  • December 31, 2008
    Twitch
    Compare with David Versus Goliath
  • December 31, 2008
    MrGuy
    You, in Net Hack. Your only hope of survival is good tactics.
  • December 31, 2008
    dkellis
    I've Seen This A Million Times in various anime, usually where the character's power is stated to be "third-rate", but they go up against the high-powered characters and win. For example, Gouta from Busou Renkin

    I think the forward team in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS is this, but I'd have to check. There's something about the difference between an Ace and a Striker which I need to refresh my memory on.
  • January 1, 2009
    Jupiah
    Kenshin Himura of Rurouni Kenshin fits this trope. Kenshin is a short, skinny and relatively weak man, so much so that he eventually has to give up swordmanship because his kenjutsu style is meant to be used by stronger men and overusing it damaged his muscles. Despite this handicap, he is easily the most powerful warrior in the series (aside from his own master) because he's just that damn skilled.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=17hq5qwn4nypbq5pgklqnh41&trope=WeakButSkilled