* In the ''WesternAnimation/DoraTheExplorer'' ChristmasSpecial Swiper the fox had this little exchange with his [[FutureMeScaresMe future self]].
-->'''Swiper:''' [[SwiperNoSwiping Swiper no swiping]], Swiper no swiping, SWIPER NO SWIPING!\\
'''Future Swiper:''' [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy THAT]] doesn't work anymore! ''(steals his TimeTravel cape)''
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** Avatar Aang. When first met, he is a scared boy who, from his perspective, just learned he was to be the Savior of the World and must leave home from the only man he knew as a father. Now the world is in danger and so he shirks his responsibilities. Less than a year later, he is a fully competent Avatar, Master of All the Elements. Even without using the Avatar State, he can hold his own against a super-powered Phoenix King Ozai. When he finally activates the Avatar State, it is a no holds contest.
** Many people found Katara's sudden leap from being second to Aang in waterbending to being Aang's more skilled trainer rather jarring (the fact that her training was handled entirely [[SecondHandStorytelling offscreen]] and concluded with the use of AsYouKnow does little to rectify). It helps that they point out that Katara is [[{{Determinator}} driven to excel]], which enables her to get more out of quality training than her BrilliantButLazy beau.
** Sokka, who was previously just the PluckyComicRelief, took his level in badass when he [[spoiler: got his space sword, made actual plans for an ''army'' and wore that cool wolf armor]]. It helps that they show that he [[InstantExpert learns fairly fast]] given the opportunity and introduce him to lots of teachers. He and his sister ''did'' [[CountryMouse grow up in an isolated village]] without access to teachers.
** Mai, who had already established herself as a badass (but [[TheQuietOne quiet]] [[KnifeNut and knife obsessed]]) LadyOfWar arguably took a level in badass in the episode "The Boiling Rock, Part 2". Mai [[YouShallNotPass took out 13 prison guards and freed the gondola line to help Zuko and company escape the boiling rock prison]]...and [[MagnificentBastard Princess]] [[HeroKiller Azula]]. Although this could just be a case of Mai being NotSoStoic.
** Zuko actually takes several levels in badass during the third season. As the first season went on, he could almost be seen as an IneffectualSympatheticVillain. Throughout the second season, he is constantly outmatched by his sister, Azula. During the third season however, he takes a HeelFaceTurn, stands up to his father, Ozai and [[Main/MomentOfAwesome tells him exactly]] [[CallingTheOldManOut what he thinks about him]] and that he is leaving to train Aang [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou so that he can defeat him]]. This hits Ozai's BerserkButton and he fires a lightning bolt at Zuko, ''which Zuko deflects back at him before leaving''. After that, his fights against Azula were a lot more even, enabling him to hold her off long enough to aid in dramatic escapes. And once she began her VillainousBreakdown, she had to present Zuko with a SadisticChoice in order to even gain an advantage in their Agni-Kai duel. He was actually ''winning'', managing to knock her to the ground, whilst being calm and collected, until she pulled that move.
** Zuko's uncle Iroh, already pretty badass, works off the extra weight he'd gained in retirement and takes further levels in badass.
** Toph was already a Master Earthbender when the [=GAang=] found her. She could take on most any Earthbender, save Bumi, and win easily. How does she become even more badass? By developing Metalbending, something no one in the history of the world had done before.
** The first scene of Bumi was back when Aang hadn't vanished from the world. He was a scraggly kid with a weird face and a love of pranks. A century later and he is the strongest Earthbender in the series able to do several amazing feats of bending with his head exposed. He later freed his city in the span of 8 minutes when all the Firebenders were powerless.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'':
** Ike goes from "Don't kick the baby!" in season 1 to being part of a plan to steal the Hope Diamond by Barack Obama and John [=McCain=]. This is before he runs off to be a pirate having grown bored with middle class life.
** Liane Cartman as of "Coon 2: Hindsight." She's actually refusing to be Cartman's personal servant for once, and punishing him for swearing and beating up his friends. It says something that this is a level in badass for her. (She does fall for the [=LeBron=] James Technique, however.) As of "[=HumancentiPad=]", she has apparently stopped putting up with any of Eric's attitude, making her one of the few (if only) competent parents on the show. Of course, now Eric has started screwing her over the same way he does everyone else.
** Kenny as of "Mysterion Rises".
** Butters on numerous occasions:
*** "Super Fun Time": He will ''not'' let go of Cartman's hand. For ''anything''.
*** "[[Recap/SouthParkS7E9ChristianRockHard Christian Rock Hard]]": After Cartman's plan to scam the Contemporary Christian community falls flat on his face, breaking up his band and humiliating him in front of a deeply offended audience, Butters (a devoted Christian himself) ''farts in Cartman's face'', then flips him off and says "Fuck you, Eric."
*** "Imaginationland": Freaking becomes the MessianicArchetype of Imagionationland's by turning the war around with his own, well, imagination, and then ''completely fucking resurrecting it'' after a nuclear strike by imagining ''the whole fucking thing'' back into existence.
*** "The Tale of Scrotie [=McBoogerballs=]": TheReasonYouSuckSpeech he gives the main characters after the novel they wrote makes him a worldwide celebrity.
*** "[[Recap/SouthParkS16E5Butterballs Butterballs]]": His TheReasonYouSuckSpeech to his grandma.
** Taken UpToEleven with Wendy in "Breast Cancer Show Ever" by standing up to Cartman and then beating the snot out of him at the end.
* Played for laughs in the ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'' MadeForTVMovie, ''Abra-Catastrophe!'', where Cosmo briefly helps Timmy combat an all-powerful Denzel Crocker after watching an 11-second workout video and gaining Hulk Hogan pecs. Played straight in the same movie, with [[EvilOverlord Crocker]].
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'':
** ''Franchise/TransformersGeneration1'': All the Autobots should qualify for this trope, since they were designed for civilian use. Extensive after-market tuning turned a loser into the Optimus Prime we know and love today.
*** Wheelie of all people took a level in badass after season 3. He lost the rhyming speech disability, got drunk, and beat up several Decepticons in succession in the Headmasters pilot.
*** After season 3? Try after TheMovie -- in the five-part season premiere, he shoots a Sweep ''right in the face while free-falling'', simultaneously breaking from his rhyming to deliver the OneLiner "Galvatron is strong, but Wheelie is '''mean'''!"
*** Galvatron. As Megatron, "Decepticons, REEEETREEEEEEAT!" was practically his catchphrase, uttered about three times per episode. His high-pitched voice (second only to Starscream) didn't add {{Badass}} points, either. Then he gets upgraded into [[TheNthDoctor Leonard Nimoy]] temporarily. ''Then'' he goes ''mad, permanently'' and becomes a much more interesting villain and unpredictable threat. Unfortunately, crazy Galvatron was as likely to pound [[BadBoss his own minions]] as he was the Autobots. Other versions of Megatron get upgraded into Galvatron as well, but for the first Galvatron, it's about the personality change even more than the increase in power.
** Keep in mind his final moments as Megatron were actually wiping out a good number of key Autobots, and, after an impressive one on one, mortally wounding Optimus Prime himself.
*** More recent incarnations of Megatron have themselves become [[MagnificentBastard far more intelligent]] and dangerous in their skills and motives to the point where it feels they don't need an army to win. Perhaps the most notable of them is the Animated Megatron, who is so much of a threat that he considers the Autobots as little more than pests for most of the time (even going so far as to not acknowledge them by name).
*** This has been taken to even higher levels (if possible) in [[WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime Prime]], where he's now a [[TheJuggernaut nth unstable]] GenreSavvy sadist with a bit of a GodComplex.
** Reversing this seemed to be the main point of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'', where the Autobots were all workers on a space bridge, and only have a weapon or two each, all of which, with the exception of Prowl's shurikens, had non-combat purposes in mind. This was to keep the Decepticons from suffering from VillainDecay (which is also why there are more human villains). In fact, they're armed to the teeth and it takes all of the Autobots to just take down one or two of them.
** Prowl was already pretty badass in Animated with the whole Cyber-Ninja thing (though technically he never finished the training), but he kicked it up a notch in "Five Servos of Doom" when he really seemed to get a handle on the Cyber-Ninja powers. Especially when [[spoiler: He destroys a scorebord in a baseball field with only his mind, thus saving himself, Lockdown, and the Starscream clone from being flattened into pancakes.]]
*** Waspinator in ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'': TheChewToy whose only purpose was to get blown up OncePerEpisode and the weakest Predicon normally. Fast forwards to WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated: A vengeful AxCrazy techno-organic juggernaut and a major threat. Blowing him up STILL doesn't work, but this time, it's an actual plus for him.
*** During Transwarped, [[spoiler: Sari of all people]] took a level in badass. In fact, [[spoiler: she had to take a level out of badass, because powering up her newly-discovered-to-be-technoorganic self made her an out of control juggernaut that nearly killed Bumblebee and endangered most of the city. Now she just shoots energy blasts from her hands, can program space bridges, and is actually mature.]]
** Cheetor from ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' got noticeably more capable with his own abilities. Originally just a scout and little skill in combat, he eventually became TheLancer to Optimus Primal during ''Beast Machines'' and a competent leader in his own right.
** Starscream in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime''. After spending most of the first half of the second season doing the HumiliationConga, he discovers the [[spoiler: indestructible Apex Armor]]. He then loses it not many episodes later, but afterwards he gains [[spoiler:Red Energon, which he uses to steal the Omega Keys from the Autobots. Then he rejoins the Cons, makes a tactical decision that ultimately denies the Autobots the Omega Lock, and leads a freaking armada to attack the Autobot base, ''shooting Wheeljack down in the process''.]]
*** Soundwave would be seen to be this if it wasn't clear in hindsight that he was incredible from the start. For most of the first season he does nothing but act as the silent communications officer for the Decepticons and leaves the ship all of once. Then near the end of the season he absolutely embarrasses Airachnid without moving from his spot when she attempts a coup (after the beatdown he goes back to work). Moving into season 2 he fights Wheeljack to a standstill and displays perfect and instant mastery of Spacebridge technology when he lets Arcee take a flying attack at him and opens a bridge millimeters before him that she flies into. Now in Season 3 he's fought an upgraded Optimus Prime on even air (they were flying) and snagged a 6-inch fossil falling in mid air with another instant portal. Essentially the writers have to be stingy with Soundwave's screentime because he is a veritable [[GameBreaker force unto himself]].
*** There's also Arcee, in most continuities she is mostly TheChick who sits in the sidelines while everyone else does all the fighting. In ''Prime'' she is a straight up ActionGirl who gets into more fights as much as everyone, and she's not afraid in taking on bots who are thrice her size and win.
* Matt from season 2 of ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' takes lessons in how to fight from resident BadassNormal Caleb. He's still not great in a fight, but at least he's not ''completely'' useless. He takes a further level later in the season when he gains full blown magic powers.
* ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles''
** Certain versions like [[WesternAnimation/{{TMNT}} the 2007 CGI movie]], have April O'Neil learning [[HighlyVisibleNinja their brand of ninjitsu.]] She's also been a playable character in a few video games. (Probably because some designers felt a need to include a female fighter.)
** Serling, a butler robot in ''[[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003 Fast Forward]]'', actually saved his master's life in probably one of the most [[Awesome/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles impressive]] fashions.
* In the animated version of ''WesternAnimation/LegionOfSuperheroes'', the entire ''series'' takes a level in badass between the first season and the DarkerAndEdgier second season. Several of the male characters bulk up significantly, especially Superman, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf, and Lightning Lad (who also [[GrowingTheBeard Grows the Beard]]). On top of that, it also introduces a second FutureBadass version of Superman. At least in the case of Superman (the original one) this is justified as Brainiac intentionally went back in time to get him, but not as far back in time, so the Superman he brings back is older and more experienced.
* ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot''
** Enzo Matrix. Even more jarring come Season 4.0, when both the Before ([[BrattyHalfPint Enzo]]) and After ([[TheLancer Matrix]]) versions exist simultaneously.
** ''[[BigBad Megabyte]]'' takes a few levels himself over the series, completely averting the standard VillainDecay. Especially when he gets shapeshifting powers.
* Ofdensen in ''WesternAnimation/{{Metalocalypse}}'', starting with the season 1 finale. Because sometimes a LizLemonJob requires you to kick some ass.
** Taken even further in season 3 where he [[spoiler:fakes his own death for 9 months to investigate a secret project only 4 people are supposed to know exist, and makes the series BigBad go into a minor rage because he saw his face. He even manages to avert WorldWar3 and bring peace to the Middle East WITH SNOWCONES.]]
* Here's a fun game: take some buddies who are familiar with the ''WesternAnimation/SuperFriends'' and show them either the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "The Enemy Below" or "The Terror Beyond". Once they're done, tell them that the crazy blonde {{badass}} dude with the hook for a hand is, in fact, the once [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway incredibly lame]] Aquaman. We would like pictures of their reactions.
* ''WesternAnimation/GodzillaTheSeries''. Sure, it's technically his last-surviving offspring. But, the fact that he has nuclear breath and fights other monsters like his Japanese counterpart [[RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap really helps]].
** A three-part special has the ORIGINAL American ''Film/{{Godzilla|1998}}'' [[spoiler:being turned into a surprisingly powerful cyborg, becoming the series' version of Mechagodzilla.]]
* Ron Stoppable from ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' took a severe level in badass the first movie, the Grand Finale and the episodes where he is turned evil.
** In the ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' movie, '''A Sitch in Time'', the future version of Monique has clearly taken several levels in badass since we last saw her-- she's gone from having to duck and weave and run away from every bad guy she faces (when she subs for Ron as Kim's sidekick in the present), to helping Kim kick some serious ass in the future. (Ron is still the one who ultimately saves the day.)
** Also from the movie, future!Wade is a GentleGiant {{Badass}} commando.
** And so on for ''everyone'' else. Especially Drakken, who took many levels in both movies and the GrandFinale, the latter of which is a permanent one.
-->[[LampshadeHanging "Why is everyone in]] [[FutureBadass the future so ripped?"]]
* In the Disney short ''Disney/LambertTheSheepishLion'', Lambert is a lion that is always hiding behind his sheep mommy when the other sheep tease him. [[BerserkButton Up until a wolf tried to eat his mom]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', the episode [[Recap/TheNewBatmanAdventuresE21MadLove "Mad Love"]] shows the character Harley Quinn taking a level of badass on multiple people. She utilizes a thrown-away plan by the Joker positively, stabs Batman InTheBack (of the neck), and has Batman out to the point where he later admits to Joker, "I have to admit, she came a lot closer [to killing me] than you ever did. Puddin'." Her [[Awesome/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries CMOA]] vanishes when she gets knocked out a five-story building.
* Remember when Cobra Commander of ''Franchise/GIJoe'' was a whiny twit of silly schemes? When he [[spoiler:destroys Moscow as a show of force]], in ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeResolute'', you will know you are dealing with a badass BigBad who would give anyone nightmares.
** ''Resolute'' was a DarkerAndEdgier version of the classic cartoons, but they took away all the [[ContrivedStupidityTropes contrived stupidity]]. Cobra Commander even has a speech where he says ''[[ObfuscatingStupidity he was only pretending to be an idiot to try and have his men come up with better ideas]]'', and that [[NotSoHarmlessVillain now he's playing for keeps]].
** Though note that he started becoming a badass in ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeSigma6'' when he was depicted as less of a coward and more like a dictator.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''
** Valerie Gray started out as a rather spoiled, superficial girl, and by the end of the second season, could kick major ghost butt without her suit using little more than her ''housekeys.''
** Arguably Danny himself through CharacterDevelopment. Compare his first few episodes to the latter ones. In the beginning he was awkwardly stumbling with his powers. By end though, he had enough strength to kick ''god-like ghost beings''!
** Then there's Jack Fenton. He went from BumblingDad to GeniusBruiser over the course of the series.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'', Princess Jasmine was noticeably more of an ActionGirl than in the two preceding films. This got even more pronounced when certain spells got put on her:
** In "Sandswitch", Jasmine is given memories of a life as a street rat. The new Jasmine is introduced effortlessly beating up four of the royal guards to rescue Abu and Iago.
** In "Forget Me Lots", Jasmine's memory is removed and she's told that she is HarmlessVillain Abis Mal's daughter, and one of the most evil and feared people in the area. This causes her to instantly become a marvelous DarkActionGirl who takes over the palace almost singlehandedly, then gives herself a KlingonPromotion when she realizes how useless Abis Mal is.
** In "Eye of the Beholder", Jasmine is turned into a naga. Even though she's horrified of her snake tail, she puts it to very good use a few times on the way to find a cure.
** In "A Sultan Worth His Salt", Jasmine receives warrior training after being kidnapped by a group of Amazons.
** This carries over into the final sequel ''Disney/AladdinAndTheKingOfThieves'', where she holds her own against the Forty Thieves, all of which are at least twice her size.
* Aelita from ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'' spends the first two seasons as a DamselInDistress needing the protection of the HeroSecretService (and sometimes picking the DistressBall herself, to the point of being considered TheLoad by part of the fandom). Then by Season 3 she gains an attack power and no longer can be killed just by losing all her {{Hit Point}}s. Then she gains the abilty to sprout wings and fly. She also progressively gets more confident, turning into a full-fledged ActionGirl. She is still XANA's DesignatedVictim throughout Season 3 and 4 thanks to her MacGuffinGirl status, but now she's certainly fighting back.
* ''WesternAnimation/XMenEvolution''.
** True to the name, Spyke went through a major Evolution over the course of the series. He went from being [[TheScrappy the slacker all the Internet fans hated]] in season one and two, to being put on a bus in season 3, [[RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap to emerging as a new found badass that people suddenly liked]] in Season 4.
** Everyone in the opening of season 3, it started with them breaking their friends out of Area 51, hiding out in a cave ([[MemeticMutation With a box of scraps!]]) take out several high powered military choppers & beat up Juggernaut (Who in season 1 they needed everyone, plus the Brotherhood to take off his helmet so Chuck could mind blast him), Cyclops especially when they go back to school & has his glasses taken, he beats up the jerks who stole them & then later gets stranded in Mexico without his glasses, & survives fighting Wolves! His quote to Logan shows off their newfound badassy "No Logan you trained us, & you know something? We're good, REAL Good."
** The Badass level could be rooted back to Season 1's finale, the previous episode had Kurt, Evan & Kitty getting beaten up by Lance, Pietro, & Blob, they come back from this to then not only beat them, but also ''Destroy a flying villain hideout'' which itself included a Take a Level in Badass machine.
* Henchman 21 from ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' is a prime example of this trope. From Season 1 to Season 3, he was blubbery, lazy and inept. But when [[spoiler:his best/only friend Henchman 24 was killed]], his personality changed radically, and he started training. Now instead of being the Monarch's pudgy, occasional go-to guy, he is officially his most fearsome and competent henchman, now sporting a heavily muscled frame, as well as wrist-blades and greatly improved fighting skill.
** This is still Henchman 21, and this is still ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers''. While more competent than he had been in any previous season and arguably more competent than his boss, he's still a {{fanboy}} whose GenreSavvy is based more on RuleOfFunny than RuleOfCool, making him still prone to solutions that are AwesomeButImpractical.
*** His new nickname, "Two-Ton 21", perfectly reflects this. On one hand it sounds like a reference to a monstrous behemoth, but on the other hand it also refers to him still having a bit of a pudgy frame which 21 even groans a bit over.
** 21's skills have been even further quantified when [[spoiler:he takes on Brock Samson and actually puts up a better than decent fight. Brock himself admits as much after beating him. A CrowningMomentOfAwesome for 21 to be sure.]]
** In the episode "Assasinnany 911," Molotov Cocktease attempts to give the Venture boys a lesson in Bad Ass. It doesn't take.
** Done in a small way by Sally Impossible [[spoiler: after she hooks up with J-J Venture]]. She goes from a flaky co-dependent (and possibly alcoholic) to a strong-minded young woman who can chew out Richard and co-pilot the [[HumongousMecha Ventron]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' episode "[[Recap/FamilyGuyS8E11DialMegForMurder Dial Meg for Murder]]" [[ButtMonkey Meg Griffin]] turns into a hardened criminal after three weeks in a prison (due to sheltering an escaped convict) and returns the suffering inflicted on her over the years to her family and fellow students. This is just [[StatusQuoIsGod a one-episode thing]] though.
* WesternAnimation/PrivateSnafu, a WartimeCartoon ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' character who starred in shorts made especially for soldiers. In his early appearances he was portrayed as [[MeaningfulName the worst soldier in the US military]], and the purpose of his cartoons was so soldiers could learn what not to do. By the end of the war, he was behaving much like WesternAnimation/BugsBunny, outwitting enemy soldiers and successfully completing missions.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''' Slade took a level in badass come season 4. After being absent for a season, (Due to being betrayed and apparently killed by his apprentice) he comes back [[EmpoweredBadassNormal with magical powers]] and proceeds to beat the Titans senseless without even breaking a sweat.
* When he first appears, Willy Watt of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' is a typical scrawny nerd. After a few months in [[PrisonsAreGymnasiums juvenile hall]], he becomes a buff badboy that even the other kids in juvie are afraid of.
* [[spoiler:Blue]] in ''WeAreTheStrange''. [[spoiler:She starts out as a justifiably-mopey emo, but turns into a robot-killing ActionGirl by the end of the movie]].
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': During the events of "Dragonshy", Fluttershy is largely TheLoad -- but when [[BerserkButton her friends are threatened]], she levels up to BadassAdorable. During the climactic battle at the end of ''A Canterlot Wedding'', she is seen [[spoiler:physically belting the hell out of the Changelings]]. Not bad for somepony who in the first episode of the first season could ''barely speak to strangers''.
* Harold in ''WesternAnimation/TotalDramaIsland'' was a lanky geek who was constantly abused by his teammates, particularly the local JerkAss Duncan. In the [[TotalDramaAction second season,]] he is much more helpful to his team, saves the entire cast from drowing, and eventually gets his revenge on Duncan (by [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome punching his lights out]]).
* The main six (the most notable being T.J. and Gus) and Miss Grotke in ''WesternAnimation/RecessSchoolsOut''.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'':
-->"[[MyNameIsInigoMontoya My name isn't Slick. It's Zoidberg]]. JOHN [[PrecisionFStrike F**KING]] ZOIDBERG!"
* Plankton from ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' by season 7 and onwards. In seasons 1-3 he was a very effective villain, in seasons 4-6 he suffered VillainDecay, then starting with season 7 he returns to his threatening and menacing self, particulary in the episode "Frozen-Face Off", "[=SpongeBob=]'s Last Stand" and "One Coarse Meal". In "Frozen-Face Off", [[KansasCityShuffle he organized an entire race as a distraction so he could steal the Krabby Patty formula without trouble and interference]] and in order to throw off the suspicion, he placed his [[ActuallyADoombot robot doppelganger]] to participate in the race and it took all the main characters to stop his plans. In "[=SpongeBob=]'s Last Stand" he built a super highway which directly led to the Chum Bucket and it drove away all jellyfish from their fields and took over the entire town and almost all of Bikini Bottom's population supported him. It was so evil that Mr. Krabs was [[DespairEventHorizon going to give the secret formula]] ''[[DespairEventHorizon willingly]]''. Both episodes were more dramatic and serious than most other episodes in the series. Even in "One Coarse Meal", the episode where Mr. Krabs crossed the MoralEventHorizon by driving Plankton to suicide, Plankton was a very effective villain. He drops a powerful explosive the size of a TV remote on the Krusty Krab's roof; he is said to build a transmutator (a machine with the power to make an element in nature into another element, like iron into gold, fire into air, etc.); and a robotic bomb-shaped object that is actually a disguised, robotic, telescopic claw that can crush a sea creature. And at the end of the episodes, Plankton used a mime to scare Mr. Krabs, who is afraid of mimes, and judging by Krabs' reaction, his phobia of mimes is bigger than Plankton's phobia of whales, since Mr. Krabs was completely irrational, while Plankton managed to stay rational and not go crazy like Krabs did. This unintentionaly foreshadows that Plankton will become much more monstrous and effective and this will lead into the events of the movie, which is the GrandFinale of the series.
** [=SpongeBob=] himself takes a rather notable level in "Pets or Pests". In the protection of his new pet baby worms, he tackles Larry Lobster to the ground to stop him from eating them and takes a semi-truck that was about to run them over apart.
** The episode ''Spongebob, You're Fired!'' has the title character saved by a mysterious figure in a Krabby Patty costume known as the Killer Patty, who beats the tar out of competing fry cooks before carrying the little guy off. And who does this masked hero turn out to be? [[spoiler:''Squidward'']].
* Don't expect [[ContestedSequel the show's haters]] to admit it, but [[WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}} Ben Tennyson]] ''did'' took some level in badass in ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce''; in the original show, he was a 10-year old immature kid with a very limited control on his powers, who would easily make himself look ridiculous or ending up in distress when the Omnitrix stopped working. In ''Alien Force'', he has grown up into a responsible leader, has much better control over the Omnitrix, and is a competent fighter even without the Omnitrix, as well as much more skilled at using his aliens. As an annoying side effect however, it resulted in some of his allies and enemies, especially [[RedemptionDemotion Kevin 11]] and [[ArchEnemy Vilgax]], to suffer VillainDecay. Presumably because of fans' reaction, Ben then TookALevelInDumbass in season 3 due to a fail attempt to make him more like his original series' self.
** [[BroughtDownToBadass Not that he was always in distress or ridiculous without the Omnitrix as a ten year old, mind.]]
** Also, some of the B-level members of the RoguesGallery have gotten badder. Dr. Animo temporarily ''rules a world.'' Also, Vilgax absorbs the powers of the champions of worlds he conquers, and returns a lot tougher.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' movie ''Ego Trip'', Teenage Dexter is portrayed as a complete wuss. Until [[CorruptBureaucrat Madark]] [[BerserkButton breaks his glasses]].
* Franchise/ScoobyDoo is no stranger to this trope, but ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooLegendOfThePhantosaur'' comes to mind. Shaggy, acting under hypnosis, beats the crap out of an entire biker gang, wins a motorcycle race after rescuing his opponent, and navigates the gang (plus a few more) through a pit full of snakes during a mine explosion.
** And at the end, he ends up escaping without the hypnosis, and saves the rest of the gang.
** Shaggy himself has one in ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'' when Scooby is kidnapped.
* Bloom, in the season one finale of ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'', takes down Icy, an older, more experienced spellcaster who at this point really just wants to kill Bloom once and for all, by manifesting the abilty to teleport, and just popping up around Icy until she burns out her magic trying to knock her out of the air. Considering that Bloom hadn't even been at Alfea for a year (and wasn't terribly great at magic up to this point), this definitely qualifies.
* Prince Desmond, in the "Make Way for Miss Nettle" episode of ''WesternAnimation/SofiaTheFirst''. He starts out as a coward who fears almost everything, including wet socks, but ends up tackling a powerful fairy to take her wand.
* The Vegimals in "The Very Vegimal Christmas". Building a new [[CoolBoat GUP]]? Check. Saving the Octonauts from danger? Check. [[SupremeChef Cooking the Christmas dinner]]? Check. Looking cool while doing so? CHECK!
----
* "WesternAnimation/AdventureTime". Cinnamon Bun, the once bumbling and naive servant of Princess Bubblegum, earned himself a level. His time with Flame Princess made him into the new champion of Finn's former flame. He one ups Finn, fights of the mooks of the Fire King, taught his pet fire wolf to fly, and possibly started a relationship with Flame Princess.
* Amberley of ''TheDreamstone''. Similar to Rufus, Amberley was thoroughly useless in the second season, and even in the first had minimal moments of effectiveness, usually playing a DistressedDamsel. In the third and forth season, Amberley becomes more tactical, often forming team strategies, with her and Rufus being the most consistent reason the Urpneys are stopped.
** While not as consistent, the Urpneys also had a few more evident cases of being NotSoHarmless in the later seasons (they are thoroughly unstoppable in "The Spidermobile" for example). Combined with Zordrak's more ambitious motives for the capturing the title stone (from giving the Noops bad dreams to taking over the universe), there was a fair bit more emphasis on the heroes being in legitimate danger.