Created By: Ryuuma on January 28, 2012 Last Edited By: Agares on January 14, 2014
Troped

Armored Villains Unarmored Heroes

Villains are more likely to wear full armor than the heroes.

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Trope
Needs More Examples

There are many, many ways of making the difference between heroes and villains obvious. One of the many tricks consist in making a villain or more wearing armor, while the heroes facing them don't.

One of the main reasons is making said villain a Tin Tyrant, but there may be other possibilities behind it:

  • The villain's power relies on said armor, forcing the heroes to find a way around to hurt him.
  • Is a subtle way to imply that the hero is better, because he doesn't need any further protection.
  • A further contrast between a Mighty Glacier and a Fragile Speedster.
  • Armors can be associated with war, tyranny and oppression. Heroes without armor can symbolyze peace and freedom.
  • Last but not least: seeing an unarmed and unarmored guy beating the shit out of a big guy in a armor is always awesome to look at.

See also Tin Tyrant and The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • The Saiyans in early Dragon Ball Z wear some sort of armor, as do Freeza's soldiers later, in contrast to the Z Fighters who mostly wear martial arts gis.
    • Vegeta in his long transition from villain, to anti-hero, to hero wears less armor every time he gets a costume change, from his first appearance with a battle skirt, winged shoulders, and a scouter, to the Buu saga with no armor at all.
  • In One Piece one of the most memorable examples would be Luffy versus the weapon-loving Don Krieg. A good part of the fight revolved around Luffy trying a way to break his armor.
  • Yaiba vs Takeshi Onimaru, after the latter is possessed by Fujin.
  • In Fairy Tail we have most of the guild members against Master Hades, while earlier, we have Sugarboy vs Gray. In the latest arc, the Raven Tail flagbearer (Actually Ivan in disguise) is completely covered in armor.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Fuji at first wears a set of armor as he faces Hiko, but when he's told that wearing it will only boost his confidence and make his attacks weaker, he decides to opt for a fair and square fight, and removes it.
  • In Gamaran none of the Ogame Ryu members wear protective clothes of sort, while many of their enemies may usually wear chainmail of sorts to protect themselves.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai La Verite. In episode 11 Konoe Tsurugi's Onee-sama wears a heavy armor suit in combat, while her opponents Konoe and Yashima don't.

Comic Books

Film
  • The invading aliens from Independence Day have deflector shields on their motherships and fighter craft alike. This renders them invulnerable to Earth's weapons.

Literature
  • In Journey to the West, after starting the eponymous journey with Tripitaka, Sun Wukong wears nothing but a tunic and a tiger pelt used as a kilt, and being monks neither Pigsy or Sandy carry armor. Most of his opponents will show some impressive armors, helmets and plates, usually described in high detail. Of course, that doesn't help them much.

Live-Action TV
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor and his companions are always wearing normal Earthly clothing, while monsters like the Daleks and the Cybermen are heavily armored.

Mythology and Religion

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40K: Both Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines use armor, but the CSM's is the Obviously Evil kind, decorated with skulls and spikes and sometimes demonically possessed. By contrast, the Imperial Guard has flak armor, referred to in fandom as "T-shirts" to emphasize just how badly the Guard is equipped.

Video Games
  • In God of War we have Kratos, who's almost always wearing a loincloth and sandals against the heavily armored Ares. The third game pit you against two notable armored bosses: Poseidon and Hercules. In both cases you have to smash the armor first.
  • In Genji Dawn Of The Samurai there's Yoshitsune versus The Mask Yoritoshi of the Heishi. You can even cleave part of his armor to obtain an ingredient.
  • Radiant Historia. Aside from Rosche, the heroes aren't depicted as wearing much armor. Meanwhile, the enemies start with helmeted soldiers and move up to
  • Final Fantasy: At least four villains from the series are encased in armor while the heroes are running around in normal clothes (well, when I say normal...).
    • In Final Fantasy II, Firion and co. wear civilian clothing, and only one of the temporary party members wears armor. The Evil Empire's mooks and Dragon all wear heavy plate armor.
    • Golbez of Final Fantasy IV is a Tin Tyrant, while only two out of the twelve members of the player party are armored (Cecil and Kain). Cecil also loses some armor coverage when he transforms into a Paladin, although he's still clearly a knight.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the main party are wayward members of La Résistance who spend a good chunk of the game fighting Archadian Judges, powerful warriors armored head-to-toe to enforce the will of the Empire. The main party sticks to normal clothing, which only includes a couple of token armor pieces if any.
    • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light: The Heroes of Light (minus the Warrior) and Garland.
  • Legend of Zelda games: except in a few games, Link is always facing enemies dressed only in a tunic and pants. His armored enemies range from stone statues to ten-foot-tall knights wearing full plate.
  • In the Castlevania series, heroes rarely wear armor at all, while, among various things, living armors are recurring enemies, in one form or another.

Web Animation

Western Animation
  • The robot probe sent by Gallaxhar in Monsters vs. Aliens has deflector shields that render it invulnerable to the Army's weapons. The five monsters battle the robot without armor or even weapons. Ginormica puts up a goodly tussle, and Doctor Cockroach is, of course, unkillable.
  • Inverted with the armored conscripts that defend Imperial China from the armorless Mongol horde in Walt Disney Pictures' Mulan.
  • The Urpneys from The Dreamstone wear metal armor and helmets (they also wear swords on their belts that are never used in combat). The Noops Rufus and Amberley are completely unarmed children (though Rufus has a similarly underutilized sword in the first season) and the magic powered Wuts are completely naked. Both of the latter groups suffer much less to slapstick injuries than the Urpneys despite their armor.
  • Ben 10 versus the Forever Knights. Ben transforms into different aliens, but none of them really have armor. Gwen and Kevin count in the sequels. Kind of.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ninja Turtles only have shells, and many of their allies are completely unarmored, but Shredder is heavily armored.
  • In Regular Show, season 4 "A Bunch of Full Grown Geese", when the baby ducks fuse together to become a giant duck man to fight a bunch of geese who also fuse together to become a giant goose man, the geese giant has armor and the duck giant is unarmored. It's subverted when the duck giant is losing and he has Mordecai and Rigby summon Powered Armor for them to fight and they succeed.
Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • January 28, 2012
    Koveras
    For headgear, this is covered under Helmets Are Hardly Heroic.
  • January 28, 2012
    zarpaulus
  • January 28, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^ More specific please?
  • January 28, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^^ That would make it a Sub Trope to this.

    And Sensible Heroes Skimpy Villains is a Sister Trope.
  • January 28, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^ Though technically it's the opposite, but still...
  • January 28, 2012
    GuyIncog
    See also Faceless Goons.
  • January 28, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Not really. It's still telling the good guy and bad guys apart, not about degrees of clothing.

    And both still fall under Dress Coded For Your Convenience.
  • January 28, 2012
    Rognik
    Also from Fairy Tail: playing with the trope is Erza. While most of the early battles, or at the start of the battles, she has an impressive armor arsonel, she often uses as her last armor set a pair of harem trousers, a blade, and bandages around her breasts.

    Video game example: Radiant Historia. Aside from Rosche, the heroes aren't depicted as wearing much armor. Meanwhile, the enemies start with helmeted soldiers and move up to heavy knights and even a couple mechas.
  • January 28, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^ Except that Elsa/Erza (sorry, different dub from where I come from) is not a villain, and as I recall she never fights someone wearing armor. However could be considered an "Inverted" case: We often have the following scheme: Erza with a hugeastic armor face an unarmored villain. Said unarmored villain (at least Ikaruga and Midnight) has the upper hand, she switch to a non-armor cloth and wins. In the end, I'm not sure if it's still an example....
  • January 28, 2012
    AP
  • January 28, 2012
    ArtyMorty
    The Bible: When David was fighting Goliath he refused to wear any armor and took only his sling and five stones with him. Of course some Artist depict him wearing absolutely nothing(except maybe a helmet).
  • January 28, 2012
    Psi001
    • The Urpneys from The Dreamstone wear metal armor and helmets (they also wear swords on their belts that are never used in combat). The Noops Rufus and Amberley are completely unarmed children (though Rufus has a similarly underutilized sword in the first season) and the magic powered Wuts are completely naked. Both of the latter groups suffer much less to slapstick injuries than the Urpneys despite their armor.
  • January 29, 2012
    Antigone3
    Averted in the Elenium. Sparhawk and the other knights spend a lot of time in full armor.
  • January 29, 2012
    Chabal2
    • Final Fantasy: At least four villains from the series are encased in armor while the heroes are running around in normal clothes (well, when I say normal...).
    • Warhammer 40 K: Both Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines use armor, but the CSM's is the Obviously Evil kind, decorated with skulls and spikes and sometimes demonically possessed. By contrast, the Imperial Guard has flak armor, referred to in fandom as "T-shirts" to emphasize just how badly the Guard is equipped.
  • January 29, 2012
    Rognik
    Ben Ten versus the Forever Knights. Ben transforms into different aliens, but none of them really have armor. Gwen and Kevin count in the sequels. Kind of.
  • February 10, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Bump
  • March 13, 2012
    TBeholder
    It's official, guys.... via Escher Girls -- from no less than Christopher Hart's "how to draw" books.

  • March 13, 2012
    GuyIncog
    Star Wars with Vader and the stormtroopers being covered head to toe in armor. The opposing Rebel soldiers at most wear helmets.
  • May 5, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Bump
  • December 9, 2012
    Onitatsu
    Bump.
  • December 14, 2012
    Onitatsu
    Bump.
  • December 14, 2012
    Chabal2
    Legend Of Zelda games: except in a few games, Link is always facing enemies dressed only in a tunic and pants. His armored enemies range from stone statues to ten-foot-tall knights wearing full plate.
  • December 14, 2012
    StarSword
    @GuyIncog: Also a deconstruction, as Rebels are occasionally shown going down from apparent shrapnel hits when blaster shots strike the walls near them, which stormtroopers are seen to survive. Vader is a justified example, as his armor also sustains his life.
  • December 14, 2012
    miru
    The Ninja Turtles only have shells, and many of their allies are completely unarmored, but Shredder is heavily armored.
  • December 14, 2012
    GreatHylianKing
    ^beat me to it.

    In Doctor Who, the Doctor and his companions are always wearing normal Earthly clothing, while monsters like the Daleks and the Cybermen are heavily armored. Spoiler, he usually wins.

  • December 15, 2012
    acrobox
    consider relating this to David And Goliath in its origins.
  • December 16, 2012
    Onitatsu
    ^ Like mentioning in its example that it was the likely Ur Example?
  • December 16, 2012
    acrobox
    sure
  • January 1, 2013
    GrigorII
    Perhaps the example of Dr. Doom should mention that one of them has a "natural" armor. It is not something he can wear and take out at will, but I doubt that the Things, body, made of rocks, counts as being "unarmored".
  • January 2, 2013
    Onitatsu
    Uhm, now, correct me if I'm wrong... The Thing's whole body, (flesh and inner organs included) is made of rock, right? So, technically he's not wearing an armor. He's just a very, very hard body, though there are ways to break the rock (picks, for examples). And still the other three members are unarmored. However, yup, if you wish so, I'll mention it.
  • January 3, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Champions. In early editions many villains wore armor (e.g. Anklyosaur, Black Paladin, Cryotron, Death Commando, The Green Knight, The Juggernaut, Ladybug, Mechassassin and Professor Muerte) but very few if any heroes did so.
  • February 8, 2013
    Onitatsu
    Bump
  • June 18, 2013
    Rognik
    In Man Of Steel, the Krytonians wear armor while Superman just has his suit.
  • June 19, 2013
    eowynjedi
    Hmm, can I expand on the Final Fantasy example? There are a couple of games (II and XII) where it's particularly prominent.

    • In Final Fantasy II, Firion and co. wear civilian clothing, and only one of the temporary party members wears armor. The Evil Empire's mooks and Dragon all wear heavy plate armor.
    • Golbez of Final Fantasy IV is a Tin Tyrant, while only two out of the twelve members of the player party are armored (Cecil and Kain). Cecil also loses some armor coverage when he transforms into a Paladin, although he's still clearly a knight.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the main party are wayward members of La Resistance who spend a good chunk of the game fighting Archadian Judges, powerful warriors armored head-to-toe to enforce the will of the Empire. The main party sticks to normal clothing, which only includes a couple of token armor pieces if any.

    This is also related to Helmets Are Hardly Heroic, I think.
  • June 19, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    I admit upfront that this isn't armor per se but I submit this anyway on the same principle:

    Film
    • The invading aliens from Independence Day have deflector shields on their motherships and fighter craft alike. This renders them invulnerable to Earth's weapons.

    Western Animation
    • The robot probe sent by Gallaxhar in Monsters Vs Aliens has deflector shields that render it invulnerable to the Army's weapons. The five monsters battle the robot without armor or even weapons. Ginormica puts up a goodly tussle, and Doctor Cockroach is, of course, unkillable.
    • Inverted with the armored conscripts that defend Imperial China from the armorless Mongol horde in Walt Disney Pictures' Mulan.
  • June 28, 2013
    dvorak
    Video G Ames
  • July 8, 2013
    Koveras
    Does the original Star Wars trilogy count? Both Luke and Obi Wan fight Darth Vader in his iconic armor while wearing basically casual clothes and a gown, respectively.
  • July 8, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    Indexes include Tropes In Shining Armor, Costume Tropes, Villainous Fashion Sense, Good Guys Garb, and any others you can think of.
  • July 9, 2013
    DAN004
    Web Animation
  • July 9, 2013
    eowynjedi
    @Koveras: I think it should. There's also the Imperial stormtroopers versus the various Rebel troops, none of whom are wearing heavy armor.
  • July 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Did some formatting.
  • July 14, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    In Super Man Lex Luthor will occasionally wear purple battle armor against the unarmored Superman. Justified because Supes doesn't need armor in the least bit
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Update with examples plz?
  • October 9, 2013
    Snicka
  • October 12, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • October 12, 2013
    pawsplay
    Iron Man wears armor, but Iron Monger wears even bigger, more-er armor.
  • October 13, 2013
    aurora369
    Star Wars? The Imperials often wear armor, the Rebels don't.
  • October 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced the examples.
  • October 14, 2013
    Snicka
    Update with some of the above examples before launch.
  • December 10, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    needs reference to Helmets Are Hardly Heroic. which is a Sister Trope.
  • January 1, 2014
    Druplesnubb
    Corrected some minor misspellings in the Final Fantasy and The Bible entries.
  • January 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • January 7, 2014
    notShemp
  • January 7, 2014
    AP
    I thought this one was already launched.
  • January 7, 2014
    DAN004
    Before you launch, make sure the title have comma.
  • January 8, 2014
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Hanaukyo Maid Tai La Verite. In episode 11 Konoe Tsurugi's Onee Sama wears a heavy armor suit in combat, while her opponents Konoe and Yashima don't.
  • January 14, 2014
    Isolder74
    Real life.

    Taffy 3 vs Center Force. Tiny tin can ships vs massive battleships.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=o9hi2yxrf6mka4zkewivuo3q&trope=ArmoredVillainsUnarmoredHeroes