When the audience needs to be shown how [[HeroKiller physically dangerous an enemy]] is, the creators invoke TheWorfEffect, or maybe they throw a SacrificialLamb (or worse, a SacrificialLion) in the path of the bad guy. But when the producers don't feel like killing one of their characters yet, but still need to show the audience just how dangerous the ''situation'' is, they often resort to breaking the badass by having the hardest, coldest, roughest, toughest, most jaded and violent, seen-it-all character become shocked out of their wits by it.

When this is done to {{Villain}}s, it is often in the form of EvenEvilHasStandards. Related to NotSoAboveItAll and SarcasmFailure. Contrast AdmiringTheAbomination, where scientific curiosity makes a character get excited (if still scared) at the sight of a monster.

Expect OhCrap or MassOhCrap reactions. Can sometimes invoke AnyoneCanDie.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* In a chapter of ''Anime/MahouSenseiNegima'', to show how unstoppable the old BigBad was (he was the FinalBoss), one of the HotBlooded (and otherwise [[NighInvulnerability invincible]]) characters was given an uncharacteristic fear of him, just to emphasize the point. [[spoiler:Rakan was incapable of beating him due to the Lifemaker's power and got killed. He got better later, kind of.]]
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'': When Marik is about to summon his Sun God Ra, and all the characters present who are aware of the strength of it have eyes widened with shock.
* In ''PokemonSpecial's [=FireRed=] & [=LeafGreen=]'' arc, Red suffers an almost uncharacteristic HeroicBSOD after losing a fight to Deoxys.
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'', we have Acnologia, who cost [[spoiler:Gildarts]] AnArmAndALeg, which he revealed to [[LeeroyJenkins Natsu]] when he came back. The guy is Fairy Tail's resident '''''{{Person of Mass Destruction}}'''''. Their town, Magnolia was even [[ForDoomTheBellTolls rigged]] ''to make way for him'' so he doesn't [[TheDitz accidentally]] destroy the town. [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment And the dragon]] [[CurbStompBattle Curb Stomped]] him.
* Guts of ''{{Berserk}}'' isn't immune to this. Nosferatu Zodd did this by simply transforming into his Apostle form. When they meet again after the Eclipse, Guts is better prepared for it since he's fought many Apostles up to that point.
* In the ''Anime/SailorMoon'' anime's last season, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune [[spoiler: pretend to defect from the Sailor Senshi and]] join Sailor Galaxia, which they prove by [[spoiler: killing Sailor Pluto and Saturn.]] The two wait for a moment to attack Galaxia, and when they do, realize she doesn't have a Star Seed. The two completely break when they realize [[spoiler: they murdered their friends and sold their souls for nothing.]]
%%ZeroContextExample, not allowed anywhere. please fix.
%%* Vegeta upon seeing Broly's power in ''Anime/DragonBallZ''.
* In ''Manga/HunterXHunter'' the Chimera Ant Royal Guard Neferpitou has a Nen aura so powerful and malicious that it terrifies almost everyone who sees it. Kaito immediately warns Killua and Gon to run when he realizes that Neferpitou is coming for him. Killua knocks out Gon and carries him away when he realizes that Gon is too furious about [[spoiler:Kaito losing an arm to Neferpitou]] to run. Knov gets it the worst. The moment he senses Neferpitou's aura his hair turns white and he completely loses the will to fight.
** Knov didn't actually see Pitou's aura as she had to suppress it [[spoiler:in order to heal the King]] at that time. What he sensed was Pouf's. It also worth mentioning that Knov was under a lot more pressure than Kaito, Gon or Killua when they had sensed Pitou's aura. He was in the middle of the enemy stronghold. He knew that at any time, Pitou could turn her En back on at which point he would be immediately caught, tortured for information and then killed. He was already at the edge when he saw Pouf's aura, which just pushed him over it.
* ''MedakaBox'': The debut of Kumagawa has Zenkichi, the BadassNormal protector of Medaka reduced to a shivering wreck just by being in his presence.. Even Medaka herself is visibly distressed when she first sees Kumagawa again.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comics ]]

* When the MartianManhunter wants Guy Gardner to settle down during a JLA meeting, he accomplishes it via the threat: "I'll tell Franchise/{{Batman}}."
* The ''only'' villain that the ComicBook/IncredibleHulk will ''admit'' to being scared of is the Sentry's evil alter ego, the Void.
* In one issue of ''ComicBook/GreenLantern'', Kyle Rayner relates how Guy Gardner (a Comicbook/GreenLantern notable for not just being able to "overcome great fear", but being honest-to-God ''fearless'') used to tell funny stories about some of the truly ridiculous villains Hal Jordan used to fight. But, Rayner notes, "Guy never told any funny stories about {{Sinestro}}", the one villain who ever scared the crap out of Gardner.
* In an early issue of ''ComicBook/XMen'', the X-Men had to fight the {{reality warper}}, Proteus. He was so terrifying that ''Wolverine'' was shaken by the first battle.
** In the [[WesternAnimation/{{X-Men}} animated series]], the encounter doesn't just "shake" Wolverine, it leaves him huddled on his knees, ''sobbing''.
** In ''UltimateXMen'', Wolverine is briefly possessed by Proteus. Proteus' hatred towards his father Professor Xavier was so strong that it scared Wolverine.
* A Creator/DCComics CrisisCrossover once noted that things had gotten really ''really'' bad by having one of the characters note that even ''SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker had stopped laughing.''
** In ''ComicBook/UnderworldUnleashed'', the Trickster comments that when villains want to scare each other, "They tell each other Joker stories."
*** A running theme among henchmen as well; whenever you see henchman engage in small talk, invariably the Joker will come up.
* Marv in ''SinCity'' only seems to be afraid of the woods. This makes sense considering [[HarmfulToMinors he was tied up to a tree as a child and left overnight]].
* In ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', when [[SociopathicHero The Comedian]] (a guy who shoots a Vietnamese woman who was pregnant with his child, [[WhoShotJFK possibly assassinated Kennedy]], and killed other heroes to repay long past slights) discovers the main antagonist's plan, he completely breaks down, and shows up at the home of one of his old enemies drunk out of his mind, praying for help, sobbing with horror and demanding to know how anyone can come up with such a thing.
** Rorschach's final speech also qualifies.
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' is one of the most famous {{badass}}es in comics. When he discovers that an ancient conspiracy -- [[ComicBook/NightOfTheOwls the Court of Owls]] -- has been living in Gotham for hundreds of years, he's a little alarmed. When he discovers that they've never acted against Batman until now because they never even considered him to be a threat, he's a little more alarmed. But when he's captured, drugged and psychologically tortured in a vast labyrinth beneath Gotham City and [[DespairEventHorizon nearly driven to madness and hopelessness,]] that's when the readers start to feel the horrors ''really'' sinking in. Being [[MemeticBadass Batman,]] he manages to escape. It's still a chilling sequence, however.
** On the topic of Batman, the miniseries ''[[BatmanTheCult The Cult]]'' centers around this.
** The one who did it more successfully, was SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker, during his brief stint as ComicBook/EmperorJoker. Killing even the toughest Badass over and over while forcing him to see the atrocities only the Joker's mind could come up with in a reality made of bubblegum would break anyone, though.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fics ]]

* During the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries'', Renamon desperately tries to warn the Tamers to run when she sees [[spoiler: Chaos Biomerging]]
-->'''Rika''': ''Renamon, if I didn't know you, I'd think you were frightened.''
-->'''Renamon''': ''Rika, I'm TERRIFIED!''

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/{{Serenity}}''
** The fact that Jayne Cobb is the most comfortable with gore and violence made it all the more significant when he was the one to demand the transmission of the Reavers messily killing the scientist be turned off.
** Jayne's fear of the Reavers in general seems to evoke this trope.
** Also, when the Reaver fleet appears out of the cloud in front of the Alliance fleet, it is the Operative himself, shown to be perhaps the baddest {{Badass}} in the ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' universe, who completely freaks out. Although perhaps what shocks him is not the appearance of the Reaver fleet, so much as the fact that everyone around him is so paralyzed that they cannot fire on their own initiative. Though, [[OhCrap you can DEFINITELY see the terror in his face when he sees them pop out of the ion field.]]
---> "Target the Reavers! Target the Reavers! Target ''everyone!'' '''SOMEBODY FIRE!'''"
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'': "A Balrog. A demon of the ancient world. This foe is beyond any of you. RUN!"
** The book version had Legolas, who is old enough to remember the Balrogs, ''freaking out''.
** A minor example from Gandalf again is his giving a rousing speech to the men of Gondor that whatever comes through that door, they can fight it. His expression at the giant armored battle trolls that smash through is priceless.
* ''Film/TheDarkKnight'': Harvey Dent, who goes from a pretty thoroughgoing idealist to [[spoiler:the villain Two-Face, due to the Joker killing his girlfriend, destroying his appearance, and giving him a truly brutal [[BreakThemByTalking speech]].]]
* Poor [[TransformersFilmSeries Optimus Prime]] really goes through the wringer in ''Film/TransformersDarkOfTheMoon'' and ''Film/TransformersAgeOfExtinction''. '''Especially''' ''Age of Extinction''.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/TheHungerGames'': Mockingjay shows the jaded ActionGirl Johanna Mason, who describes herself offhandedly as unbreakable because [[JadeColoredGlasses "there's no one left I love"]] without seeming affected by these losses at all, return from her imprisonment in the Capitol (including quite a lot of ColdBloodedTorture) completely traumatized. Katniss even mentions how, without her normal BadAss [[DeadpanSnarker attitude]], she looks like nothing more than another BrokenBird.
* In ''WorldWarZ'' narrator Todd Wainio describes how one of his fellow soldiers, a former wrestler, "an ogre with a two-g body count", who once tore off a ghoul's arm and bashed its skull in with it, broke down crying and had to be carried off on a stretcher when he came across a jackknifed big rig filled with broken bottles of cheap perfume that reminded him of someone he lost.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' novel ''Literature/TurnCoat'', Harry breaks down when [[spoiler: Madeline Raith turns him in to the White Council for shielding Morgan]], to the point where it crosses into a HeroicBSOD. Murphy snaps him out of it by point out that (a), he's a badass, man up, and (b) bureaucracies take time to get things done; he has time, man up. Also segues into an awesome scene where Murphy takes Harry to task for his inaccurate self image of an unpredictable lone ranger.
** Even more so in ''Changes'' when he [[spoiler: breaks his back]]. He gets better, after making a deal with a very powerful faerie and some rather painful (for him) plot twists.
** Tessa shooting Michael. The Denarians torturing Ivy. The Denarians [[spoiler: killing Shiro]]. The Denarians like this trope - it makes them stronger.
** The Naagloshi is also fueled by this trope. It gains power by killing wizards (and a bit from one-trick-ponies like the Alphas). However, it gets crowning mention for what it did to Thomas.
** Harry essentially became a hero by having these moments, and then ''thinking'' and ''acting'' instead of despairing. The thinking started a bit later, though, so his reputation as a magical thug isn't unfounded.
*** One in particular would be seeing [[spoiler: Stan]] killed so casually in his flashback in ''Ghost Story''. In a moment that's both heartbreaking and badass, Harry snaps out of it and [[spoiler: blows up the assailant, He Who Walks Behind, the foremost warrior of the immune-to-magic Outsiders]].
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'': [[MagnificentBastard Vetinari]] does this to Vimes ''by accident''. He would often {{obstruct|iveBureaucrat}} Vimes' investigation, knowing it would make him try even harder. Each time, Vimes punches the wall of Vetinari's office on the way out. Except one time he doesn't, and Vetinari realizes later that it means he's finally found Vimes's limit.
* The advent of the appearance of the Balrog in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' has Gimli (gruff and tough dwarf warrior) stunned and shaking, Legolas (Elf prince, fearsome archer, and tends to be either TheStoic or Mr. Sunshine) freaking out, and Gandalf (one of the most powerful beings inhabiting Middle Earth) actually afraid.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/DoctorWho'': "The Stolen Earth" gives us not one but several broken badasses: Sarah Jane, Jack and (to a much lesser extent) Martha and Rose. All four are them are tough, and ready to face anything... until they find out that the Daleks are invading, upon which every single one of these tough, experienced, ready-for-anything heroes starts to fall apart out of sheer, agonizing terror.
** ''The End of Time'' gives us a double-whammy in the appearance of [[spoiler: the Time Lords. Their re-emergence sends the Doctor into a HeroicBSOD so badly, the Doctor [[GodzillaThreshold picks up a gun]]. Then, to show just how horrific Rassilon himself is, we get a BreakTheBadass moment from ''The Master'', of all people.]]
** In "The Big Bang", it's revealed that the Pandorica is summoning not just the Daleks, not just the Cybermen, but ''every single enemy the Doctor has ever opposed''. The way the Doctor unconsciously backs away from the person delivering this news, a look of complete and utter terror on his face that goes ''waaay'' beyond OhCrap.
** Also done in "The Impossible Astronaut". The Doctor, after going to meet the mysterious astronaut and telling his companions not to interfere whatever happens, [[spoiler: is shot by the astronaut and starts to regenerate]]. Amy lets out a BigNo and starts to run toward the Doctor, but River and Rory hold her back. [[spoiler: Then the astronaut shoots again, [[KilledOffForReal killing the Doctor in the middle of his regeneration]]]]. This time, it's the normally implacable ''River'' who screams and runs for him, and we know that whatever just happened, something is very, very wrong.
** In series 1 episode "Dalek", when the (up to that point in the episode) jovial, flippant, cool-headed Ninth Doctor realizes the alien he's been locked in a room with is a Dalek, the way he immediately flings himself at the door in a panic, pounding on it and frantically begging Van Statten to let him out is by ''far'' the most effective way to make new viewers ([[VillainDecay and jaded old viewers]]) take the Daleks seriously again.
** In "Asylum of the Daleks," there is a special IC ward full of Daleks considered so insane they're not only [[EvenEvilHasStandards too insane for the Dalek species]], they're too insane for the Dalek ''asylum'' where all the Daleks who are too insane for this AbsoluteXenophobe species of {{Omnicidal Maniac}}s are thrown. The reason these ones are [[UpToEleven so unimaginably insane?]] They're the ones who have had the misfortune of fighting the Doctor and losing. And to run this trope in the opposite direction as well, nothing conveys the horror of the situation quite like the way the Doctor, after realizing who they are, collapses against the wall, ''literally'' sobbing and screaming for help in sheer mindless terror, as they corner him and move in for the kill.
* In the ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' episode "Dead Man's Party", Xander's reaction to zombies cowering in fear is along the lines of "When scary things get scared, it's time to run". Also, Buffy's in "Teacher's Pet" when a vampire runs from the mantis woman: "Hmmm. I'm a blood-drinking undead monster [[ItMakesSenseInContext who can shave with my hand]]. How many things am I scared of? Not many things and not substitute teachers, generally".
** Happens to Anya too, when Xander casually mentions that the mayor's planning an Ascension. Her reaction? She leaves town. Though not before conveying dire warnings about how as someone who has seen some pretty horrible things, most of which she caused, she also was a personal witness to a previous Ascension - so she knows what she's talking about.
** In the 5th season, the Oh Crap look on Buffy's face when Travers tells her that Glory is not a demon but a god is priceless. This is accompanied by a shaky little "oh."
* [[NumberTwo Will Riker]] was more or less the charming swaggering [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Kirk-type]] of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''. Unflappable, brave, and perfectly willing to knuckle up when necessary, he was never nonplussed. So in the classic episode "Best Of Both Worlds", when even ''he'' has an OhCrap look on his face when the Borg-busting weapon fails, we know how far the situation has deteriorated.
** In one episode, a NegativeSpaceWedgie causes hundreds to thousands of Enterprises from multiple universes (timelines that had different outcomes) to show up in one place. The way to fix it was to put a piece of one universe that had fallen into another by accident [[spoiler: Worf]] back. The heroes of the story (not the main timeline crew we watch in the series) are getting ready to patch the universe back together. One of the Enterprises contacts the ship, it's a ragged crew missing several members (including Picard) and that Riker is almost half-mad screaming that the Borg in their universe has taken over/destroyed everything. The heroes try to talk him down and reassure him, but the spooked Riker ''opens fire'' on the heroes who are forced to return in an attempt to disable them only, which instantly annihilates the other ship.
--> ''Wesley (alt timeline):'' Their warp containment field must have been weak.
--> ''Riker (alt timeline):'' (''gravely'') Probably from fighting with the Borg.
* In ''Series/DeadliestWarrior'', the vampires are terrified of the zombie hordes (this is obvious because some of the vampires are killed by the zombies), but the vampires fight so aggressively that it shows that they weren't being cowards, they just knew the threat. As the zombies' numbers drop, the last vampire seeks revenge on the last of the zombies, showing no mercy.
** In fact, many 'badasses' on the show (Spetsnaz, Zande, Jesse James, Medellín Cartel members, Navy [=SEALs=]) run away from their foes because they always seem to run out of ammo and need to run away long enough to switch their weapons or ambush their enemy. (If the enemy also runs out of gun ammo, it normally leads to a knifefight.)
* In ''Series/BandOfBrothers'', Buck Compton's breakdown in reaction to the loss of his friends in "The Breaking Point" was used to not only relate Compton's personal story, but to help show the viewers just how shitty it was for the troops during the Battle of the Bulge.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''RaidouKuzunohaVsTheSoullessArmy'', the game over sequence is plenty scary, being such a [[ItsAWonderfulFailure wonderful failure]], but what makes it downright terrifying is the realization (sometimes FridgeLogic) that Raidou, normally very cool, collected, and poker-faced, looks ''horrified'', and is very visibly panicking.
* ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic I'': There is one particular dark side act which will make Canderous tell you you've overstepped the limit. Only one. [[spoiler:Mind-controlling Zaalbar into choking his teenage friend, a girl who trusts and respects you and believes that you can still be saved, to death.]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'''s cast is a [[BadassArmy Badass]] ArmyOfThievesAndWhores, each of them managing to deliver hilarious amounts of destruction, but they're united in one thing: their sheer and unadulterated fear of [[TheDreaded The Pyro]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Halo}}'': This is shown to have happened to the Master Chief by the time ''Halo 4'' rolls around. The strain of a long war and the loss of many people who were close to him (especially [[spoiler:Cortana]]) has had a detrimental effect on the Chief. The opening cutscene even has Halsey's interrogator pointing that Spartans are so psychologically damaged they can't interact very well with ordinary people, inferring that John had to be broken to become the badass he became.
** The signs were visible even before that, as there are several moments in the game where the Chief just sounds... ''Tired.''
* DarkSouls: Artorias in the backstory ([[spoiler: and DLC]]). [[spoiler: Solaire]] around the time he gets to Lost Izalith, possibly fatally.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' the moment the Dreen shows up, the reaction of a Jager General is "Doze tings is unschtoppable! Vorse - dey's scary!"
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', Jack Noir is established as a nigh-omnipotent, destructive, murderous RealityWarper, the cancer of a universe made manifest, against whom absolutely nothing could stand in a direct fight (up to the arrival of [[spoiler:PM with the ring]], anyway), and half the story is about finding a way to defeat him... is positively ''shocked'' when he discovers what [[spoiler:Lord English]] can do.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'': Tex is one of the best fighters in the series, easily able to kick almost everyone's butt single-handedly, as well as being nigh-unkillable because she's a ghost [[spoiler:and AI]]. Omega is her former AI, fresh off an attempt to take over the entire galaxy, who {{Body Surf}}s and takes over people's minds, including Tex's a long time before. While it happens offscreen, by all accounts both ''freak out'' and desperately try to escape when the Meta shows up [[spoiler:and ultimately takes down both.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* This happened with ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers''' Brock Samson at one point. Dr. Venture responded along the lines of, "I've seen you yank a man's eyes out of their sockets with the veins still attached and dance him around like a marionette, but ''THIS'' shocks you?!"
* In ''TransformersTheMovie'' Autobot veteran Kup has SeenItAll and is unfazed by everything. Enter Unicron: "...I've never seen anything like it."
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', Amon does this to ''Korra herself''. She was already scared witless into becoming uncharacteristically hesitant and seemingly-stoic after witnessing Amon's [[BroughtDownToNormal ability]]. Her first personal encounter with him, when [[spoiler:his Equalists ambush and restrain her in seconds]] and he himself promises that he will destroy her utterly and personally once the time is right, leaves her [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments crying into Tenzin's arms]], admitting she had never felt so helpless and afraid. [[spoiler:And considering the entire sequence was played as if she was about to be ''raped'', we believe it.]]
** This happens even more in Book 3, when the Red Lotus [[spoiler:bends poison into Korra so that she could enter the Avatar State and they could kill her]]. It fails, yet Korra is not only physically drained, but thanks to the hallucinations she gets earlier on, she's also wrecked emotionally.
* ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising'': Part of the reason we know Dyson is ''bad news'' is everyone's reaction to him. Tessler is visibly shaken just ''looking'' at the guy. And then we find out that Dyson broke the badass by torturing Tron within a micron of de-rez, an act that sends Tron on a [[OOCIsSeriousBusiness murderous]] {{r|oaringRampageOfRevenge}}ampage where Beck's attempt to talk Tron down almost get the younger Program killed...

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