Created By: WaxingName on September 15, 2012 Last Edited By: DAN004 on May 6, 2016

Stronger Than They Look

A strong guy who doesn't look strong somehow.

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft


So you meet this character. He looks weak somehow. He's either small and scrawny, or meek, peace-loving and/or gentle, not heavily armed, lazy or untrained, frail and/or sickly, or unassuming. Either way, everything that you see about him doesn't strike you as "strong".

But then, said so-called "weak" guy starts lifting something many times his size/weight or breaking something hard without much effort.

This "character" may sometimes not be a person; an animal can be this too. This character might get involved in a Mugging the Monster incident.

Related to Hidden Badass. See also Pintsized Powerhouse, Strong Ants, Killer Rabbit, Cute Bruiser and Glacier Waif for the subtropes of this. (Note, examples that fit in the subtropes would be listed there rather than here.)

Compare Badass on Paper, Muscles Are Meaningless and Lightning Bruiser. Contrast Muscles Are Meaningful.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In most animated adaptations Sonic the Hedgehog can be seen taking, avoiding, and dealing out damage in equal measure, sometimes to Made of Iron levels. However, in most of the games, he is too fragile to qualify.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Natsu. He's agile, strong, practically Made of Iron, and uses a very rare and powerful type of Fire Magic taught to him by a Dragon. Fellow Dragon Slayer Gajeel also qualifies, and he's literally Made of Iron at times, being the Iron Dragon Slayer.
    • Both Dragon Slayers are particularly notable for being extremely powerful with or without magic, as almost all other magic users are physically weak, and almost all other fighter types can't use magic. Some exceptions would be Erza, Mirajane, the artificial dragon slayers and Zero of Oración Seis.
  • Eclair from Kiddy Grade, who can take and defeat guard robots and combat cyborgs twice her size. Fittingly enough her name means "lightning bolt" in French.
  • One Piece
    • Luffy from certainly doesn't look like he is very strong and resilient. Thinking that has been the mistake of almost every Big Bad of the series.
    • Sanji as well. Lean and swift on his feet...with enough leg-power to casually kick aside massive beasts.
  • Rurouni Kenshin
    • Sanosuke. Though, his speed has generally been downplayed due to it being a specialty of the main character. From the beginning of the manga, he's been noted to be very quick, even with a massive zanbatou. After abandoning that weapon, he's been able to trade blows with fellow Lightning Bruiser Anji and block gunfire with a well timed Futae no Kiwami.
    • Kenshin himself is every bit the hard-hitting speedster. While he's taken to striking with the blunt edge of his blade, he still manages to cause knockouts and broken bones. He's also managed to keep fighting despite suffering grave injuries.
  • Gatomon from Digimon Adventure may be tiny and cute, as well as fast as one would expect. But she's actually a Champion Digimon and extremely strong.
  • Bleach
    • Soifon is the main example of the series. She's a tiny woman but is one of the fastest captains in the Gotei 13. Her attacks are based on her exceptional speed and use it to full advantage. On top of that, however, the Official Bootleg confirms that her strongest ability is actually her physical strength rather than her speed. As a result, she's the unarmed combat expert of the captains, something that allows her to use her two strongest abilities together and to their maximum potential. In the manga, her great physical strength manifests in bankai form. As a nuke.
    • Yoruichi is Soifon's mentor and idol. Soifon has spent a century try to surpass Yoruichi in both speed and strength but hasn't made it yet. Yoruichi's reliance on her strength and speed together is so great that, unlike even Soifon, she doesn't even bother to use her zanpakutou in battle.
  • Naruto- Many of the top tier Naruto shinobi move insanely fast & yet can hit deceptively strong. Some prominent examples would be Minato, Maito Gai, Rock Lee etc.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist's King Bradley is a lean old man who moves with Olympic athlete level speed, evades bullets with ease, and hits hard enough to completely dismember a person in seconds.
  • Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma
    • Ranma himself, since he is capable of throwing hundreds of punches in the space of a second, and each one of those punches is likely capable of shattering multi-ton boulders. Ranma seems to have an average teenager build, and can even turn into a girl, yet "her" strength remain unchanged.
    • The "Lost Boy" Hibiki Ryoga carries an umbrella with him that he uses as a truncheon, a javelin or as cutting disc. A minor character once tried to lift it, but failed despite using both hands. Ryoga, however, retrieves it with one hand effortlessly, though he looks like an otherwise normal boy his age.

    Comics 
  • The Flash, whenever the writers don't forget how much it sucks to be punched by someone going that fast. This has varied over the years, and still varies with the writer. In Wally West's first hundred issues or so, he could usually hit no harder than a typical athlete — his aura absorbed most of the energy. As the editor pointed out, Wally would break his hands with every punch otherwise. When the Speed Force was introduced, it quickly became a catch-all answer to physics gripes; thus Wally's been delivering super-punches again, apparently using the Speed Force to sneak around Newton's third.
  • Spider-Man has enhanced strength, reflexes, and agility. Despite that, as Peter Parker he's always known as "that nerd" or "that everyman journalist".
  • Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja has been trained as a ninja for most of his life and the deadliest killer on Earth. Though strong, he usually relies on his speed, agility, and expertise to defeat his enemies, preferring more subtle methods.
  • Astrix: A small man who nevertheless is superstrong after having drunk the magic potion.
  • Early issues of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four have Susan Richards as the Invisible Girl, routinely hiding from adversaries and shielding the team when necessary. During John Byrne's run on the series, Susan Took a Level in Badass, and was able to demolish as many Doombots as Ben Grimm. In fact, while she'd been Brainwashed and Crazy by the Hatemonger, she nearly wiped the pavement with her three teammates.
  • The eponymous lead of Jessica Jones is a short, slender woman, absolutely unimposing and unintimidating, and capable of throwing grown men twice her size across the room with one arm.

    Fanfiction 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live Action 
  • The heroes of most cinematic martial artists, such as Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, etc.
  • The Beast of Kung Fu Hustle. The final Big Bad of the movie, don't let his old age fool you; he is faster and more Made of Iron than the Landlady and Landlord. Good thing Sing is faster than him after the Beast accidentally unlocks his true power.
  • Godzilla series:
    • Megaguirus is the single quickest, nimblest monster in the entire series, and still manages to pick Godzilla - a monster three times her own mass - off the ground, as well as take a considerable amount of physical punishment and be little worse for the wear. She burns like a gasoline-doused paper bag, but physically speaking, she can swap blows with the best of them.
    • Some versions of Godzilla himself also qualify, but none so much as his Final Wars incarnate, who shrugged off nuke-scale explosions that left mile-wide craters in the ground, while simultaneously dispatched his enemies with wire-fu maneuvers and amazingly quick reflexes.
    • King Seesar is a less extreme example, being an (allegedly) stone monster who barrels right into enemies with surprising speed and executes spectacular roundhouse kicks.
  • River Tam in Serenity; for someone that small, she hits hard as hell.
    Wash: Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a 90-pound girl, 'cause... I don't think that's ever getting old.

    Literature 
  • The Vord Queen in the Codex Alera books is terrifyingly powerful. While she looks a bit like a Cute Monster Girl (or at least tries), she's faster and stronger than Aleran crafters using Bullet Time and Super Strength, crafts better than pretty much anyone anyway, can run up walls and ceilings, and is generally able to slice you to little pieces. Oh, and balest bolts bounce off her skin. To make matters worse, she's a brilliant commander with a massive, Hive Minded army consisting in large part of lesser Lightning Bruisers.
  • Max the Silent from Andrew Vachss's Burke books, despite not looking very powerful at first glance, is death in close quarters. In the event that someone manages to land a blow on him, it becomes apparent that he can shrug off should-be-painful stuff like multiple knee strikes from Muay Thai opponents.
  • Not "scrawny", but Durnik from The Belgariad is of medium build and much stronger than he appears. (Working as a blacksmith does that.)

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data is a Ridiculously Human Robot who looks closer to normal Earth humans than the more imposing Nausicaans and Klingons. Yet, he bent a rod of parsteel with a tensile strength of 40 kilobars (stronger than kevlar) with minimal effort in one episode using his bare hands. He also lifted a full size metal anvil effortlessly in another.
    • The U.S.S. Defiant, first of her class, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine classifies. Due to being a Pint-Sized Powerhouse, it's small and fleet compared to ships several times her size, but thanks to very robust powerplants (meaning very robust shields), experimental hull armor, pulse phasers, quantum torpedoes, she can match them evenly.
    • A lot of Vulcans (including Spock, the original) look like slender geeks. While they prefer to use their intellect, they are about three or four times as strong as a human.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy looks like an ordinary teenage girl but has Super Strength. The same goes for most of the vampires, though some of those actually do look pretty strong.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Cosmic Whiz Kid". Toman the assassin is from a high gravity planet. He looks rather weak but has superhuman strength in Earth-type environments, making him a formidable opponent.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Masato Yoshino from Dragon Gate is a Fragile Speedster minus the fragile. He's the second smallest guy on the roster, but he can press guys his own size over his head, and knock guys much bigger than himself flying across the ring with a dropkick.
  • AJ Styles, while not as big as the others, is not only lightning fast and agile, but can casually lift and tackle behemoths like Samoa Joe and Abyss, and can stand up and carry someone who is using a jujigatame (crucifix armbar) on him.

    Sports 
  • Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao. The man started his career at 106 pounds, has advanced all the way to 147 (almost unheard of in Boxing). And his KO percentage has risen, while he retains the same blinding handspeed he had at lower weights. Ricky Hatton got a little taste of that combination earlier this year, as did Miguel Cotto, both men billed as "bigger and stronger" than Pacquiao, until he put a thoroughly one-sided beat down on both of them. Hatton got knocked the hell out in the second round, and the ref jumped in to save Cotto in the final round of their fight.
  • Mark Recchi is small for a hockey player who plays a physical style (5'10, 180 pounds) but early in his career was nicknamed "The Wrecking Ball" for his propensity to crash into opponents, many larger than himself. Pat Verbeek, also qualifies, earning the amazing nickname "The Little Ball of Hate". Unlike Recchi, he was also known for fighting.
  • Mixed Martial Arts
    • UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo fights at 145 lbs and is known for his amazing knockout power in his hands, feet and knees.
    • UFC Middleweight champ Anderson Silva is a tall, skinny fighter at 185 lbs and is known for his one-punch knockout power as well as his effortless evasion on the feet. He's broken UFC records for winning streaks and title defenses.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Monks were intended to be this. They were meant to have high movement speed and hit very often. Unfortunately, the 3.5 version is often considered to be quite lacking at high levels of optimization. The 4e version does somewhat better as a relatively effective striker.
    • Anyone who is naturally weak but possesses or uses a magic/psionic item that grants increased strength. Examples include drinking a Potion of Giant Strength or wearing a Girdle of Giant Strength.
  • The nature of the New World of Darkness character-building system dictates these — damage is determined by Strength + skill, and speed is determined by Strength + Dexterity + 5. If you have high strength, you're quick and powerful.
  • Exalted: since there's nothing whatsoever preventing you from buying, say, Melee, Athletics and Resistance (for Solars), Dexterity and Stamina (for Lunars), or Malfeas and Adorjan (for Infernals), these tend to emerge quite rapidly. A Malfean soak/damage build using Adorjani run-like-the-wind and hurricane flurry magic is something you do not want to meet in a dark alley - her ridiculously high Soak and Hardness mean all but the most brutal attacks will just bounce off, and she's likely able to outrun a Bugatti Veyron and rip off enormous rains of radioactive blows. Solars are just as unpleasant, albeit more focused on technical skill and proficiency than weird Primordial power.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem
    • Tellius (ninth and tenth) installments
      • Ike is a pretty straight example of this. In Path of Radiance, he starts out a Fragile Speedster, but about halfway through, he becomes almost as strong and well armored as the Mighty Glaciers, but also retains his initial speed advantage. He starts out this way in Radiant Dawn, and only gets better (barring slight speed issues).
      • As is Sety (who actually has the possibility of getting enemies a 0% chance to hit him) and the swordmaster class.
      • Pretty much ANY Second Generation FE 4 character. Except poor Corpul. Even those who'd appear to be Squishy Wizards , like Yuria, for example (Yuria's notable, her Physical Defense sucks, like a typical Squishy Wizard— but due to the fact that she's known for "vamping" via the Resire/Nosfetaru spell, are fully capable of taking even the hardest of hits and shrugging them off like they were nothing) are examples of this.
    • Many "Mercenary/Hero" class characters gain great speed and strength gains. And are strong enough to wield the heavier swords myrmidons cannot.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, you could do this easily with Amelia, who had excellent speed growths and, if promoted into a Knight, access to the mighty General class.
    • Trueblades, the class that Swordmasters turn into after level 20 in Radiant Dawn, could also count, especially Mia. They have a ridiculous evasion rate, hit their target most of the time, and between all of their offensive stats you'd be hard-pressed to find anything short of a mini-boss or boss that can survive more than a single round with one; usually they'll end up getting killed by critical hits or their Astra ability.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Knuckles is the strongest character in the Sonic universe, even if he's as small as Sonic or Tails.
    • In Sonic Chronicles, Sonic is the Jack-of-All-Stats except for being the fastest character in the game. In the usual gaming fare, he's a Fragile Speedster and somewhat of a Glass Cannon but it really just depends on whether you can hold on to a single ring. In Sonic Unleashed, he does indeed play this straight, as he is able to move fast, destroy tough enemies, and lose only 20 rings per hit. Sonic's "Sonic boost" ability also contributes.
  • [PROTOTYPE]
    • Alex Mercer of just seems like a guy in a hoodie and jacket. But he can run fast enough to scale buildings and outrun helicopters. And can lift cars above his head, dropkick people to send them flying a block away. And let's not even go into his blades, tentacles, claws, clubs, or shapeshifting powers. It helps that he has a ton of mass hidden beneath that lanky physique, to the point where a four-foot drop to the ground will result in cracked pavement and simply standing on a tank will noticeably slow it down; definitely a hard-hitting speedster.
    • The sequel Prototype2 gives protagonist James Heller similar powers, and a comparison between the two reveals that Mercer is stronger, but Heller is much faster.
  • Dante from Devil May Cry looks like any other human, as many of the bosses assume. However, his devil heritage gives him both the Healing Factor to shrug off humanly-fatal wounds and the power and speed to tear enemies a new one with ease. At least in cutscenes.
  • The Big Sisters in BioShock 2 are much faster and more agile than the Big Daddies, and able to dish out a surprising amount of hurt. They are also probably the most terrifying enemy you face in the game...and this is RAPTURE we're talking about.
  • The junction system in Final Fantasy VIII allows the player to boost any character's Strength, Stamina, and Speed dramatically by linking the stats to the right kinds of magic, but Zell deserves particular mention; his stat growth is naturally designed to make him hit fast and hard. At higher levels and with good junctions, his ATB speed becomes noticeably faster than the rest of the party's.
  • Wild ARMs 2 has the protagonist Ashley Winchester who fits this trope like a glove. Even though his build is average, he's got a pretty good HP, can insanely be fast even without his Accelerator Force Action, can deal good damage, and yet wields a bayonet that looks like a BFS. And that's not even getting into his Superpowered Evil Side.
  • The Doomguy in the old games also qualifies. He carries an alarming number of heavy weapons and runs at something approaching highway speeds.
  • Shadow Man the robot ninja in Mega Man 3 is similar to Quick Man from Mega Man 2, but faster and tougher, and has the same sliding ability as Mega Man.
  • Defying the common expectations of his job class, Zidane Tribal of Final Fantasy IX is a surprisingly hard hitter and has good HP, only balanced by his lack of heavy armor (of which only two characters in the game use anyway). And then he becomes a straight-up nuker in his Super Mode.
  • Yuuto and Etrangers in general function as this in Eien no Aselia which is why they are valued so highly. While Yuuto has basically no skill in combat to start, he's still a match for all but the most skilled and powerful of spirits. Also, Eternals.
  • P.N.03's Vanessa Z. Schneider. Just looks like your average female adult protagonist, but with Blackbird suit, unlocked on a New Game+, she has all stats maxed out, making Vanessa one of these. To a lesser extent there's the Ultra Fusion, arguably the best non-secret suit.
  • Albert Wesker of Resident Evil, especially Resident Evil 5. He can move faster than a human eye could perceive, yet is able to punch through metal wall (not mentioning a ribcage and spine), lift and hurl a missile like a dart, and has a Healing Factor on the verge of immortality. He often hides it behind a normal business suit, a labcoat, or a black longcoat. Maybe the most laconic summation of all his Lightning Bruiser features in one move: he can catch a rocket fired at him and hold it still; said rocket then exploding in his hands merely dazes him.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue: Agent Texas and Carolina. Downplayed; like most freelancers, they just look like normal soldiers (albeit in armour) but are exceptionally fast and hard-hitting, even amongst their fellows.

    Western Animation 
  • In Sonic SatAM, easily Sonic. Though in the games he is usually much more a Fragile Speedster, here he can punch and kick robots (kicking makes sense...), and when already running, throw things multiple times his size with his momentum. He is also the only Freedom Fighter to have broken security cameras by throwing junk at them...with ONE hand...
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • Both of the Fire siblings. They may be young but they're very talented firebenders, especially Azula who can bend lightning.
    • The same series also gives us Toph and Aang. Although you would expect Aang to be more of a Fragile Speedster, mastering all the elements other than just air really helps him with the bruisin'.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Rainbow Dash, who is a boisterous tomboy and has been shown to not only fly fast enough to accomplish the legendary "Sonic Rainboom" - the only pegasus known to have ever done so, including the two god-princess alicorns - but has since also gained enough control over the ability to manipulate it into a thermonuclear explosion used to utterly demolish a huge old barn. And that's just the tip of the iceberg; on another occasion, she kicked a fully grown dragon in the face hard enough to not only provoke it into going on the offensive, when the entire problem the dragon posed was that it refused to get up from its nap, but actually whine near-tearfully about it afterwards in conjunction with Fluttershy's amazing verbal beatdown.
    • Big Macintosh can also be very fast and very strong when he needs to - being towed to a house doesn't even slow him down, when he's on the run. That wasn't even Big Macintosh running at full tilt, he was literally hopping.
  • Droopy: Puny dog who has surprised many of his opponents by beating the shit out of them when you make him mad.
  • Tom and Jerry: Jerry is able to beat up Tom with a force impossible for someone his size. He has also lifted up other things like golfclubs and the like.
  • The Simpsons: Ned Flanders has been shown as quite muscled underneath his clothes.
  • Teen Titans: In the first episode when Cinderblock grabs her, Starfire (an otherwise scrawny looking teenage alien) out right states the trope before she gives him a mighty kick to the face that sends him flying back.
  • When The Flintstones neighbors, the Rubbles, decided to adopt a Doorstop Baby, Barney reached out a finger to stroke the cute boy. The babe responded by gripping Barney's finger, and promptly demonstrated Metronomic Man Mashing with him. Barney, glad to have a healthy son, took this well.

    Real Life 
  • Bruce Lee. Legend has it that he could hit a leather punching bag so hard that it would tear a hole in it and so fast that a 24-frame-per-second video camera would have trouble following him as anything but a blur.
Community Feedback Replies: 62
  • September 17, 2012
    GrigorII
    There is already a variety of Hidden Badasses

  • September 17, 2012
    Koveras
  • September 17, 2012
    WaxingName
    This trope needs a better name. Any suggestions?
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    Is this really worth separating from Muscles Are Meaningless? "Faster Than They Look" might be a good idea, but I don't see the need for this one.
  • September 19, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^I didn't make this trope for absolutely no reason. I made it to take away the "subversion" angle from Lightning Bruiser, which was agreed on in the thread up above. This is why I asked for a better name, because it probably does need one to differentiate from Muscles Are Meaningless.
  • September 19, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Dan Severn, former NWA champion, has what they call "tendon strength," which makes him stronger than he looks.
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    The problem, as I see it, is that you can't "subvert" Lightning Bruiser by how a character looks, because Lightning Bruiser isn't about the character's looks. Subversion requires a set-up that looks cannot really provide for Competitive Balance. If this is supposed to be for characters who are said to be Lightning Bruisers but don't have the defense to pull that off, we have Fragile Speedster for those types.

    Faster Than They Look might be a good idea because it does subvert an expectation that isn't covered by another page, but the expectation it subverts is not about Competitive Balance. The subversion set up in this YKTTW is already covered by Muscles Are Meaningless, and it does not clearly provide any other either.
  • September 20, 2012
    Koveras
    Faith from Mirrors Edge? She is supposed to be a Fragile Speedster, always running away instead of fighting, but she can still take multiple sniper rifle shots to the torso and disarm even the best armored enemy.
  • September 21, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^^It doesn't subvert Lightning Bruiser. What I meant by the "subversion" nature of Lightning Bruiser is that Lightning Bruiser is currently defined as the subversion of Fragile Speedster (with the character being stronger than they look) or Mighty Glacier (with the character being faster than they look). We agreed in the TRS thread that we needed to get rid of that part of the definition. Also, Muscles Are Meaningless doesn't imply the character is fast, so it can't be considered the same thing as this YKTTW.
  • September 21, 2012
    Khantalas
    And I disagree with what was agreed on in the TRS thread, I suppose. If something does need fixing (in terms of Competitive Balance), it is probably Fragile Speedster, since nothing in the page (except for the page image) implies that Speedsters are necessarily weak in their offense. As such, if a character is both fast and strong, he should either be under Lightning Bruiser or Fragile Speedster, depending on whether he has good defense or not, respectively, and if he doesn't look powerful, that is covered under Muscles Are Meaningless.

    ((Of course, his offense might not be muscle-powered at all, but Competitive Balance does not really take such things into consideration. And it also doesn't cover how short-distance runners are actually very powerfully-built in appearance.))
  • September 21, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^If you want, you can share your thoughts on the Competitive Balance repair thread here.
  • September 25, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    • I don't think Anderson from Hellsing qualifies, being head taller than normal humans and all. If anything, he is the opposite - much faster than he looks.
    • Many characters in Bleach, particularly Ulquiorra - he looks like a thin, sad Harlequin but his punch will send you flying through thick walls, or just go through you.
  • September 30, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Real Life: Chimpanzees have rather gangly looking limbs and are much smaller than grown humans, but the can beat the shit out of most grown humans.
  • December 22, 2012
    MarqFJA
    Oi, someone created Stronger Than They Look without consulting this YKTTW.
  • December 22, 2012
    Cider
    So this is basically glacier waif? Try harder.
  • December 22, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^No. Which is why I need a better name for this that makes it a point to imply that the character has to be fast.
  • December 23, 2012
    Cider
    Wait, they have to be fast strong and puny or otherwise not so implied by their appearance and they have to be different enough for faster than they look as a separate trope as well?

    This whole thing is too complicated for its own good. Just put them all under Impossible Ability For Appearance and make it a related trope to Muscles Are Meaningless or something.

    Personally I think the "subversion" angle is not an issue worth making a new page over, considering its just Trope Decay from a page on Competitive Balance but if you are set on a new page just go for something all inclusive.
  • October 9, 2014
    DAN004
    As I've taken over Faster Than They Look, I shall grab this one too.
  • October 10, 2014
    Sahira
  • October 10, 2014
    Snicka
    Possible category: More Than Meets The Eye.

    Killer Rabbit is also a Sub Trope of this.
  • October 10, 2014
    maxwellsilver
    There's also Pint Size Powerhouse as another possible subtrope, or comparable trope.
  • October 10, 2014
    DAN004
    BTW I'm gonna prune out some examples. Often cuz they don't describe how they're "not looking strong". Being speedy does not inherently exclude being strong as Lightning Bruiser already stated.
  • November 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Bump?
  • November 24, 2014
    Patachou
    • Asterix: A small man who nevertheless is superstrong after having drunk the magic potion.

    • Droopy: Puny dog who has surprised many of his opponents by beating the shit out of them when you make him mad.
    • Tom And Jerry: Jerry is able to beat up Tom with a force impossible for someone his size. He has also lifted up other things like golfclubs and the like.
    • The Flintstones: Bamm Bamm is able to lift up Barney and punch and throw people away.
    • The Simpsons: Ned Flanders has been shown as quite muscled underneath his clothes.

  • November 24, 2014
    acrobox
    How is this different from Cute Bruiser
  • November 24, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ it's a subtrope
  • November 24, 2014
    acrobox
    just make sure you dont allow subtrope examples
  • November 24, 2014
    JonnyB
    As Hercules, Kevin Sorbo certainly didn't look like a bodybuilding superman; he looked like any other average muscular man. But he could perform feats no other man could.
  • November 25, 2014
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Monk example in OP
      • Anyone who is naturally weak but possesses or uses a magic/psionic item that grants increased strength. Examples include drinking a Potion of Giant Strength or wearing a Girdle of Giant Strength.
  • January 1, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump
  • February 12, 2015
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Cosmic Whiz Kid". Toman the assassin is from a high gravity planet. He looks rather weak but has superhuman strength in Earth-type environments, making him a formidable opponent.
  • February 13, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ it's justified by being a Heavy Worlder.
  • February 14, 2015
    Exxolon
    Data from Star Trek counts if the observer doesn't know he's an android. He's not very physically imposing compared to other hominids such as Nausicaans and Klingons.
  • February 14, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ How strong is he, exactly?
  • February 16, 2015
    Exxolon
    ^Extremely. He bent a rod of parsteel with a tensile strength of 40 kilobars (stronger than kevlar) with minimal effort in one episode using his bare hands. He also lifted a full size metal anvil effortlessly in another.
  • March 10, 2015
    Gowan
    How does this differ from "muscles are meaningless"? Do we take things that aren't actually strength, but skill, into account? If so, I would have an example:

    • In Dragon Bones, Oreg offers to protect Ward. Gentle Giant Ward finds the idea that someone so much smaller and weaker than him could protect him ridiculous, even though he knows that Oreg can do magic. Turns out Oreg is not only a powerful mage, he was also trained as an assassin and is quite deadly with a sword.

  • March 10, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I think Oreg is merely a Hidden Badass (dunno which subtrope but I believe it's there), not this. Yes, this concerns physical strength.

    Edjt: it's Badass On Paper.
  • April 21, 2015
    Lord-Jaric
    Teen Titans: In the first episode when Cinderblock grabs her, Starfire out right states the trope before she gives him a mighty kick to the face that sends him flying back.
  • April 22, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Wait, who's fitting this trope here? Starfire or Cinderblock?
  • April 22, 2015
    Lord-Jaric
    ^ Starfire

    Reworded it
  • April 23, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Anime And Manga
    • The "Lost Boy" Hibiki Ryoga from Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma One Half carries an umbrella with him that he uses as a truncheon, a javelin or as cutting disc. A minor character once tried to lift it, but failed despite using both hands. Ryoga, however, retrieves it with one hand effortlessly.
  • April 23, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ let me guess: he looks just like an average boy his age, right?
  • April 24, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Yes; he and Ranma were classmates in junior high, and are of equal height and build. I could point that out, but averting the Viewers Are Morons notion, I believe readers will deduce that if one character cannot lift an object, any other character should likewise fail. That Ryoga lifts it easily comes as a surprise to in-universe characters as well.
  • April 24, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I would still add that info though. Fan Myopia and all that.
  • December 7, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump?
  • December 7, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • When The Flintstones neighbors, the Rubbles, decided to adopt a Doorstop Baby, Barney reached out a finger to stroke the cute boy. The babe responded by gripping Barney's finger, and promptly demonstrated Metronomic Man Mashing with him. Barney, glad to have a healthy son, took this well.
  • December 8, 2015
    acrobox
    Aren't all of these covered by Pint Sized Power House and Muscles Are Meaningless. I feel like we don't need this.
  • December 8, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Perhaps this is a Missing Supertrope, covering all instances of an adversary being badly underestimated for whatever reason. In fact, one other factor that makes an opponent seem "easy pickings": female.

    Comic Books
    • Early issues of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four have Susan Richards as the Invisible Girl, routinely hiding from adversaries and shielding the team when necessary. During John Byrne's run on the series, Susan Took A Level In Badass, and was able to demolish as many Doombots as Ben Grimm. In fact, while she'd been Brainwashed And Crazy by the Hatemonger, she nearly wiped the pavement with her three teammates.
  • December 8, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ exactly.
  • December 8, 2015
    Antigone3
    Not "scrawny", but Durnik from The Belgariad is of medium build and much stronger than he appears. (Working as a blacksmith does that.)
  • February 6, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
  • February 7, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    • Star Trek: A lot of Vulcans (including Spock, the original) look like slender geeks. While they prefer to use their intellect, they are about three or four times as strong as a human.
  • February 8, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Minor correction on the AC:Anime section for Ranma One Half: when two or more examples within the same series occur, the series itself takes the First Level bullet, and all examples take Second Level bullets. Also removed a duplicate entry.
  • February 9, 2016
    Arivne
  • February 9, 2016
    StFan
    The content of this need to replace the current Stronger Than They Look, which is rather underdeveloped as a trope.
  • March 20, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ so I can just copy the contents of this trope to that one, right?
  • April 22, 2016
    ANTMuddle
    May be involved in a Mugging The Monster incident.
  • April 30, 2016
    Berrenta
    Unlaunched as we have commented-out ZCEs to resolve, especially those in supposedly empty folders.
  • April 30, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ we also have the issue of having a trope already with this name and same general meaning. Just that... that trope wasn't made through ykttw.
  • May 1, 2016
    Arivne
  • May 1, 2016
    ErikModi
    The eponymous lead of Jessica Jones is a short, slender woman, absolutely unimposing and unintimidating, and capable of throwing grown men twice her size across the room with one arm.
  • May 6, 2016
    DAN004
    Yay that page was cut. One big issue down. :D
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