Analysis / Badass
The term "Badass" is primarily used to describe either a type of character or describe the kind of actions that a character performs. However, exactly what a badass person or action is can differ wildly depending on context or the people using the term. This is shown in how it can be used as a noun or an adjective. TV Tropes does not make an attempt to limit what Badass means, only trying to define how it is used. While there is no precise definition, there is a broad consensus on actions or people who could often be called badass. It is lumped very loosely together by words like ability, bravery, appearance and attitude with some emphasizing one trait and others another.
The below is a list of what it could
be depending on the person and the situation.
See also Mary Sue
, another fandom term that sees varied usage.
Badass as "Cool, awesome"
The word "badass" is quite often used as yet another synonym to "cool, awesome, sweet, rad, etc". The usage can range from contexts overlapping with other uses listed on this page ("that stunt was badass", "this is a badass fight") to absolutely anything ("what a badass guitar solo", "that's a pretty badass car", "bro, your gran's embroidery looks fucking badass, man"). This is Not a Trope
in itself, but we do maintain specific sections to list awesome characters and moments in fiction: see Gushing About Characters You Like
and Moment of Awesome
Badass as Fighter
Any competent warrior; from the best fighter in the universe
to just any trained fighter. If fighting is required, it's best if you can handle it well enough to avoid embarrassing yourself. A Badass is a character that is known for their ability to fight and carry their own weight. If Alice can defeat three grown men attacking her at once, that's pretty impressive. However, she might be outclassed by the Badass characters who can defeat three hundred grown men at once
An idealization of the author
or the audience. These characters are exceptionally brave, strong, skilled etc. Some might accuse them of being too perfect or powerful
. A Gary Stu
is basically an extreme badass. Quoting from the page, "He's an unstoppable fighter, a rogue agent, a fearless freedom fighter, a master of disguise." Also, quoted from the page, "devastatingly handsome (or if not, possessed of a strange, saturnine magnetism) and desired by all significant women".
Badass as Tough and Resilient
"The character stays strong despite pain and hazards due to strong willpower". This is where the Badass Pacifist
comes from. They don't fight back but their opponent can't hurt them anyways. Determinator
covers those characters who are renowned for their limitless willpower; Made of Iron
for characters who can't be slowed down by physical injury and don't have an ability like Super Toughness
This was the definition we had for a while. This is a character who does improbable stunts because it is cool.
Typically, Badass will come down to presentation. Often, even supposedly "normal" badasses can pull off stunts that would be considered highly unlikely in real life, such as fighting off a dozen soldiers at once or shrugging off what should really be a fatal or incapacitating injury. However, many badasses are not limited to what would be passingly reasonable in real life, allowing all sorts of superpowers to come into the equation as necessary, or perhaps their appearance or role is drastically at odds with their ability, such as a little girl tossing adult men like rag dolls.
Badass as "Character who is formidable: inspiring awe and respect in allies, and fear in enemies".
The character gives an influence to the surrounding people which emphasizes how much of a big deal the person is. This can be achieved by being strong in general, being skilled, or achieving something great. See also The Ace
, The Dreaded
, Famed In-Story
, and Living Legend
Badass as "Character who's very brave; 'got huge balls'".
The character, especially if driven with a purpose, will not waver even if facing a very big threat. They'll ignore pressure and stay calm and collected, or better yet, stay as happy-go-lucky as they usually are. See: Brass Balls
and Nerves of Steel
. If the character is not competent enough to match their daring do, then they are a Darwin Award
winner and a Fearless Fool
Badass as stock character
The Other Wiki
calls this kind of character the "hotshot" archetype. As quoted, this character is "known for taking more risks, action and pain than the other characters in the story." Their characteristics are listed as arrogance, abrasive manners, aggressiveness, a tendency to prefer to be alone even to the point of working alone, sometimes at odds with the group they are part of.
Badass as "Macho, stereotypically manly"
Many definitions above are often seen as "macho" as it is considered a good man's quality to behave/be like such. I Want to Be a Real Man
is a desire to be seen as this; typically, the character will try to display "badass" qualities in order to qualify. Do note, however, that females are equally likely to display similar qualities. See Rated M for Manly
. When it's exaggerated for parody, see Testosterone Poisoning
Badass as "Character who constantly takes risks and prevails against unlikely odds"
The character always finds themselves in dangerous situations and uses all his abilities to come out safely, or even on top. They may draw themselves to it (being a Blood Knight
, likes to be In Harm's Way
, it is part of your quest or of your day job) or they may be drawn into it (they're being dragged by other people or circumstances). They tend to go beyond expectations. See We Do the Impossible
; when this is done when they don't intend to, see Badass Unintentional
. If they survive due to their luck, see Born Lucky