In most stories that contain heroes with abilities beyond those of every day men (i.e. heroes with Super Weight
2 or higher), there will be villains who underestimate these heroes.
The villain decides he wants the heroes dead. And who does he send to fulfill the job? A bunch of regular, everyday bandits with Super Weight
0 or 1. Call them muggles, call them NPC's, whatever the case may be. These bandits provide no real challenge to the heroes, just one cool fight scene, where the audience isn't likely to actually worry about the heroes' lives. The heroes almost shrug it off; it's another everyday afternoon to them.
The villain, however, will be absolutely convinced that the heroes are dead, and prematurely gloat about his victory. He might utter a phrase along the lines of "No one can stop me, now that [heroes] are dead." If the villain is keeping a friend of the heroes captive, the captive might also assume the heroes dead, despite the fact that they should know better.
Needless to say: once the heroes do show up alive, the villain is completely flabbergasted. In fairness though: in a lot of cases, e.g. if they don't know the heroes well enough yet, there's no way they could have known just how strong they are.
When the mooks decide to do it themselves it's Mugging the Monster
or Bullying a Dragon
depending on whether they know how dangerous the hero is.
Anime & Manga:
- A villain example happened in Dragon Ball Z in which Cell is attacked by Earth military who are blown to bits.
- The Red Ribbon Army attacks Goku once or twice during the series as well. In the original Dragon Ball series, they were a little more likely to kill Goku (although not by much) but by DBZ, Goku is several times more powerful and practically feels sorry for them.
- When Marvel Man attempts to gain entrance to a vault detailing his origin, he is beset by the best the british army can offer; explosives, traps and ninja assassins. They do not fare well.
- In The Sixties, Spider-Man's enemies would often send a group of gangsters aftert Spidey who would often try to fight him hand-to-hand and got man handled everytime. The odd part about this is that the villains all had powers that allowed them to deal with Spidey on even ground but they apparently wanted to see their gang get clobbered before fighting him.
- This also happens whenever Spider-Man goes after enemies such as Kingpin or other mafia leaders. Eventually, he ends up having to kick the crap out of a room full of gangsters at some point.
- Averted in Savage Dragon when a group of criminals decide to get revenge on Dragon for sending them to prison in the very first issue. They had no powers and were soundly defeated the first time. When they come back, Dragon scoffs at them until it is revealed that they had befriended the massive superhuman Zeek who knocked Dragon clear across Chicago with a single punch.
- In an example of one villain doing this to another villain, human villains in the X-Men series are always shocked when their Sentinels (which are made entirely of metal) are utterly useless when used against Magneto.
- Justified in Superman Returns in which Lex Luthor makes sure Superman is depowered on an island of kryptonite before sending in a few thugs to rough him up.
- In Watchmen, the "Mask Killer" sends an ordinary assassin to kill Ozymandias. (While he doesn't really have superpowers, he is in good physical shape with awesome gadgets.)
- In the 6th book of "The Legend of Drizzt", Pasha Pook sends 3 pirate ships to go kill Drizzt and Wulfgar. Artemis Entreri, however, is Genre Savvy enough to know that they're probably not dead.
- Subverted in The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden, one of the most powerful wizards on the planet, with the forces of nature at his beck and call, says that one of the things he fears most, and has the best chance of taking him out, is a plain old vanilla human armed with a sniper rifle. This is what kills him at the end of Changes.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Your enemies are likely to do this to you if they know who you are, at least early on in the quest, before you face the boss. (However, you're not likely to hear the villain gloating about your supposed deaths, since that would happen "off-screen".)
- Utilized in The Dreamstone while only a couple of episodes revolve around directly going after a hero (eg. "The Statue Collection"), Zordrak always sends his powerless (and usually incompetant) Slave Mooks the Urpneys to steal the aforementioned stone from the Land Of Dreams, where powerful wizards such as the Dream Maker and the Wuts exist (and often trounce them in an instant). Granted the heroes themselves almost always entrust Muggles Rufus and Amberley to go to Viltheed and steal it back whenever they succeed.