A person acts in a way that makes them seem frail, but is actually super powerful when they turn on the heat
Rolling Updates or Feigning Fraility. You see that old person over there hobbling around on their cane, can barely form coherent sentences anymore, but everyone still just likes to keep around for whatever reason. What if that reason was that they could tear anyone a new one if they wanted to? This person, be they seemingly old, sick, dainty or just fragile looking for whatever reason plays into their stereotype at first. They intentionally act weak, but then drop their facade and reveal that they've been badass all along. Could be for many different reasons. Maybe they're trying to fake out their enemies intentionally. Or maybe they just prefer not to be on all the time. Typically an aspect of the Old Master, Retired Badass, or The Patriarch (or Matriarch) of a family or crime syndicate. But this doesn't have to go for old people only. Compare Obfuscating Stupidity when a person acts dumb to hide that they're actually super competent. Contrast Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass when they actually are that dumb, but have moments of clarity.
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- Fairy Tail: Ultear maintains the illusion of one while she gives Natsu a good thrashing.
- Star Wars: Happens all the time. The two most notable Old Masters Yoda and Palpatine both act this way.
- In the Prequel Era Palpatine acts like a distinguished docile old senator, while he's actually the most powerful Dark Side Force user of his time. Yoda still hobbles around the Jedi temple with a cane, but as shown in his battle with Dooku and against many droids and rogue clone troopers, he's a One-Man Army that can literally bounce off the walls in battle at a moment's notice.
- Yoda is actually frail and dying in the Original Trilogy, but while Palpatine tries to goad Luke into striking him down because he's 'defenseless' moments later he's shocking the life out of our hero with Force Lightning.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splinter moves slowly, and typically walks with a cane. However he's also the turtle's ninja master. At the beginning of every series Splinter's also the only person who can go one on one against the Big Bad Shredder, while the four turtles usually have to gang up on him as a group before they become more skilled.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: This is Earth King Bumi's natural state. He acts like a senile old fool, and stands hunched over in large flowing clothing that hides his figure. When Aang was given a choice of who to duel against by pointing at his opponent (his two apparent options both looked like executioners) he points at Bumi to try to game the system. Turns out Bumi's not insane, but actually a super intelligent Warrior Monk who practices neutral jing to wait for the right moment to strike. And underneath all his baggy clothes he's secretly ripped. He's the most powerful Earthbender of his generation for sure, and almost of his whole lifetime before being fought to a draw by Toph who was 100 years his junior.
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