Created By: KJMackley on June 10, 2011 Last Edited By: Ekuran on August 21, 2011

Battle Damaged Badass

Hero is at His Best when Beaten Up

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"It doesn't matter how much training you have, a broken rib is a broke rib."
Michael Westen- Burn Notice

Some heroes seem to have a Dirt Forcefield on, in fact their attire almost always looks ready for a photoshoot. Usually this photo-ready apparel is discarded towards the end, when you know that shit just got real.

This trope is more about when the hero's first adventure (possibly in the Cold Opening) starts out dirty and bloody and things only go further from there. It's meant to try and keep the hero relatable, they go through a beating and only keep fighting back and going forward. In it's most extreme cases, the fact the hero has taken so much punishment only serves to make them even more intimidating. If they look like that, then what do the other guys look like?

This is part of the appeal of The Determinator, it's the idea that we have a hero who can die at any time but they are just too stubborn. And which is more heroic, a Made of Iron badass who doesn't ever get hurt or the guy with a glass jaw who still ends up saving the day.

It isn't exclusively about injuries, but also about fears and a potential Heroic Sacrifice when called upon.


  • This is one of the biggest appeals of all Jackie Chan movies, he isn't a completely unstoppable force of nature but he takes a lot of punishment and deals it right back. In First Strike he spent an entire action sequence in the snow wearing regular clothes with a thin t-shirt. When a MIB agent saw him shivering he asked him if he was cold, Jackie lifted his shirt to show he had nothing else underneath and said "What do you think?"
  • Indiana Jones: Particularly the scene on the boat where he tenderly nurses all his injuries. Also his general reaction to snakes is a reminder that he has his own issues, which only makes his entry into the tomb filled with snakes more heroic. And from the beginning they chose his wardrobe to be extremely well worn, they manually "aged" the leather jacket with steel wool.
  • Die Hard: Most films have a moment with John McClane bloodied and beaten up, but he just will not go down. The scene in the first film where he picks broken glass out of his bare feet is particularly notable.
  • Right in the first episode of Burn Notice Michael is given a beating by a group of thugs, and only barely escaping the country alive. In a moment with the kid of a client who was frequently beaten up at school, Michael showed him his still bruised ribs and explained that "I have four black belts and they still kicked my ass." and then he proceeded to train the kid how to better defend himself.
  • It was joked about on the set of The Lord of the Rings that Aragorn would progressively look more ratty and beaten-up over the course of the movies and Legolas, being an elf, would never have so much as a hair out of place or a hole in his wardrobe.
  • This is largely the selling point of the next Tomb Raider game, where Lara is constantly dirty and will get hurt from time to time.
  • Toy companies even get into the mood, often releasing "Battle Damaged" version of their products. Transformers and Gundam in particular. Some hobbyists even enjoy rigging up the pristine product themselves to be battle damaged.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • June 10, 2011
    -The original Gundam in the final episode of Mobile Suit Gundam where the battle damaged Gundam takes on the Zeong head inside A Baoa Qu. -Zaku Zeta from ZZ Gundam episode 11 is more of an aversion or subversion since it looks more goofy than actually cool. -Heero from Gundam Wing fits into here although his reasons aren't for heroics. -The first Exia Repair from the first episode Gundam 00's second season would fit into this. -Often used in Armored Trooper VOTOMS when various armored troopers are damaged heavily in battle and still fight despite their arms and sometimes heads being blown off. Merowlink would also fit into this.
  • June 10, 2011
    mhmmm,I thought it was something related to Desperation Attack, may want to thik of another title, meanwhile
    • Megaman Zero, at the end of the first game, after Zero barely scapes the destruction of Area-X, he is sorrounded by an army of Neo Arcadia Soldiers on the dessert with no place to return(he doesn't know where the ressistance base is in relation to Neo Arcadia), fast foward one year to the beggining of the next game, and we see him with his armor scratched, he has been figthing enemies one year and vaguing through the dessert, his buster is almost run out of energy, his boomerang and rode broke time ago and his saber is barely functional.... that doesn't stop him from kicking some serious Ass the very moment the game starts
  • June 11, 2011
    The idea is something rather close to Badass Bystander, where you are more heroic and badass when you get hurt on a regular basis and still keep going, and especially if you aren't a Flying Brick or don't have insane Training From Hell. And this is why we enjoy Took A Level In Badass, because we see the hero get beaten up and bounce back better than before.
  • June 11, 2011
    Rocky III: Rocky lets Clubber Lang beat on him.
    Apollo: He's gettin' killed out there!
    Paulie: No, no, no! He ain't gettin' killed; he's gettin' mad!
  • June 12, 2011
    Yu Yu Hakusho Final in the SNES example: Super moves are not available until characters' HP are in the red, allowing for superb bragging rights if someone manages to pull off the victory while being harassed and stressed/makes a deal with the other player especially if he/she hadn't already seen the move being done.
  • July 12, 2011
    Even if you are so good at Batman Arkham Asylum that you never get hit ever the character model of Batman will show progressive Clothing Damage to indicate how long of a night the story is. In the challenge rounds the clothing damage is also reflected depending on how much damage you take in the rounds themselves.
  • July 12, 2011
    This seems to be related to Blood Upgrade.
  • July 13, 2011
    A lot of Bruce Willis action movies in general are like this, not just Die Hard.
  • August 19, 2011
    Alluded to in the song 'Holding out for a Hero'.

    I need a hero
    I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
    He's gotta be strong
    And he's gotta be fast
    And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
  • August 21, 2011

  • August 21, 2011
    I don't think we need the "badass", this doesn't just apply to Badasses anyways. Battle Damage works fine on it's own. Or Progressive Battle Damage. In fact, isn't this just The Determinator but less? I don't think we need this trope.