Sven Tveskoeg, from Death's Head. In a universe populated by badasses, this badass carries the standard for badassery. He takes on the Vals, which are female clone versions of Zangief. And that's just one example.
Sent up in Terry Pratchett's The Truth, where one of the villains carries a wallet which says "Not a Very Nice Person at All." That said, Vimes is a badass.
Speaking of His Grace, the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch (who was his teacher's blackboard monitor): in The Fifth Elephant he went to Uberwald on a diplomatic mission while at home the City Watch dissolved without his or Carrot's leadership. What did the city's criminal world do? They laid so low as to be non-existent because they knew that when Vimes came back he would be pissed and would take it out on them.
In Jingo he arrested two armies (one of which was his own) and their commanding officers by holding that at crossbow point with only a few hundred D'regs at best. Best of all, he arrested them for conspiracy to cause a breach of the peace. It probably helped that the D'regs are the Baddest Asses you can find in the entire Discworld.
All of Night Watch too, but especially when he decides that the forces of Time and History would have to fight against Vimes, because he was not going to give up without a fight.
Or Vimes's psyche in Thud!! where a "quasi-demonic immortal thing of pure vengeance" loses to Vimes's Inner Watchman. In Jingo, he briefly gains insight into an alternative world where he decided to stay in Ankh-Morpork, and where he and the rest of the Watch must face the inevitable invasion. The fact that Vimes is the very last to go down says much of how badass he really is, considering the other Watchmen include a nigh-indestructible golem, a werewolf, and Detritus the troll. And anything else Vimes ever does. Ever.
Genghiz Cohen. Cohen the Barbarian. A very, very old barbarian. Think about how one manages to become a very old barbarian when you're a Barbarian Hero 24/7.
The Last Hero. The Silver Horde has finally managed to do something crazy enough that even they can't survive it. Valkyries turn up to take them to Valhalla. They mug the Valkyries and steal their horses. His daughter, Conina, attacks slave traders with SCISSORS AND A COMB and wins. And that was just ONE of her numerous displays of badassery.
The town of Bad Ass, on the other hand, is anything but. (It's named after a donkey with a nasty attitude, not the awesome exploits of its people.)
It's Granny Weatherwax's hometown, what do you mean she's not Badass?
Granny Weatherwax could give lessons in being Badass. After a few months of living with her, a kitten took down Nanny Ogg's lecherous catGreebo, a serious Badass in his own right.
How much of a Badass is Greebo, you ask? He doesn't just molest female cats (although a lot of it may be consensual), he goes after wolves and at least one she-bear. He's also killed two vampires at current date. The generally accepted wisdom by the people in the series is that it would take a direct meteorite strike just to slow him down.
Nanny Ogg's reaction to Greebo being taken down by a kitten?
Nanny Ogg: He brought in half a wolf last week!
Many of Pratchett's characters count. Death's granddaughter Susan for one. Tiffany Aching for another. She took on the entire Fairy realm with a frying pan at the age of nine. And the Feegles, too. They got kicked out of the netherworld for being too rowdy. Even Rincewind is a Badass coward. Whereas his Luggage is just straightforward Badass.
And Darktan, a talking rat who, after getting caught in a trap and getting so close to dying that he saw the Grim Squeaker, promptly pulled himself back together and got down to some serious being the leader and giving inspirational speeches. In which he smeared blood from his open wounds on the foreheads of his underlings. And he, in conjunction with fellow badass rodent Hamnpork, also managed to take out a terrier much larger than him... with a Groin Attack.
Kirsty from the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, though she generally only gets to use this against people who keep pointing their guns after Johnny's done talking to them.
Also Johanna Mason, Finnick Odair, and most, if not all, of the other victors.
From Prachett's Nation, adolescent badass Mau drives off a shark just by yelling at it. This is after saving someone from being drowned, twice, and almost being out of air.
Many characters from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, especially Raven, as described in the page-quote above. Raven is a giant Aleut. His weapon of choice is a glass knife with an edge a single molecule wide. He has a hydrogen bomb in his motorcycle's sidecar, rigged to go off the moment it stops receiving Raven's vitals. Oh, and he has a tattoo on his forehead: POOR IMPULSE CONTROL. He can hurl spears cut from bamboo through bulletproof vests. He surfed from Russia to the Alaskan Aleut Islands in his handmade one-man sea kayak, not the part of Russia you can see from Alaska either.
Khaavren, Tazendra, Aerich, Morrolan e'Drien, Sethra Lavode, Adron e'Kieron, Aliera e'Kieron, Cawti, Vlad Taltos, and too many minor characters to list here in the Dragaera universe.
Conan, from the various Conan the Barbarian publications and movies, is one the oldest and most well-known badasses in modern American culture. In addition to serving as the inspiration of many other badass characters (including Sin City's Marv and Korgoth of Barbaria, who is an obvious parody of Conan), the original stories by Robert E. Howard also make a point of demonstrating formidable cunning alongside near-indestructability and the strength to kill absolutely anything he encounters. This is true about every one of Howard's heroes.
"Absolutely anything" includes at least one demon-god. In a straight out, no-magic-items-helping-him toe to toe fight.
Roland Deschain, of Stephen King's The Dark Tower novels. In the events before the first novel, Roland shot and killed every man, woman and child in Tull, while they were trying to kill him. 58-1 odds should qualify. And he only shows himself to be more so as the series progresses. The ka-tet he gathers starts to work their way to his level as well...
Another Roland, from the epic poem The Song of Roland, is certainly a Badass. The Battle of Roncevaux Pass is a testament to this, as Roland and the other legendary Twelve Peers (considered the greatest warriors of their time) led an army of 20,000 men against an ambush of 100,000-150,000 men. While the other warriors hesitated against this onslaught, Roland showed absolutely no fear or hesitation, even refusing help for the sake of battle and honor. He does eventually call for assistance, not in the expectation of rescue, but hoping that the others will bury their dead bodies and take revenge. In the end, through sheer badassery, Roland manages to be victorious, but unfortunately, he is mortally wounded in the process. Thus, after bludgeoning a thief to death for trying to steal his legendary sword, Roland dies holding his sword and his olifant.
Túrin Turambar from The Silmarillion was the greatest Badass human ever seen by man. Even though he's just a Badass Normal compared with the elves, he was so goddamn powerful he single-handedly managed to slay Glaurung the dragon, when not even an army could do the job! Considering that his father Húrin's last battle involved holding off an army so his allies could escape, fighting until his axe melted in his hands, and then continuing to fight until buried under the bodies of his enemies, it's pretty clear that in Middle-Earth badassery is genetic.
Killing 70 trolls in that battle, too. He was finally weighed down by the chopped-off arms of Orcs he'd killed, still clinging to them. And THEN, once he's been taken to Morgoth's fortress, he defies Morgoth to his face (despite the fact that "all but the bravest" would sink into despair just meeting Morgoth's eyes) and refuses to tell the location of the hidden city of Gondolin despite twenty-eight years of cursed imprisonment watching the truly screwed-over-ness of his family.
Túrin finally tops it off by slaying Morgoth himself during the Final Battle.
His family certainly is: Húrin's cousin Tuor organised the resistance to the Siege of Gondolin, the escape tunnel through rock "like to forged steel", hurled a traitor from the walls, and killed a bunch of Balrogs (they were all over the place, like flies). For Karmic compensation for his Badassitude, he not only bedded an elf but became one himself. Yes, he was so Badass he leveled himself up a species.
All of the Elven High kings were incredibly badass. They are so strong that they're only killed By Gothmog, Sauron, or, in one case, Morgoth himself.
Yep, Fingolfin gets serious Badass points for riding to Angband (Morgoth's fortress) ALONE, in such a fury that none of the bad guys dared to get close, and some of them mistook him for Oromë (a Vala, i.e. a god), then beating on Morgoth's door to challenge him. When Morgoth finally comes out (as a tremendous armored giant who towered over Fingolfin) Fingolfin chops him a bunch of times, and when Morgoth finally steps on him Fingolfin cuts his foot open with a wound that never healed afterwards... After that fight, Morgoth never left Angband again.
In addition Ecthelion, the person who killed Gothmog was also quite badass. After getting both of his arms disabled while fighting he procedes to leap at Gothmog (the Lord of the Balrogs) and stab him through the chest with the spike that was on his helm. This is after having fought non stop for hours against orcs, trolls, dragons, and other Balrogs.
Speaking of Balrog-slayers, there's also Glorfindel who fought and killed one at the cost of his own life. Then, after resurrecting in the Undying Lands, as elves are wont to do, decided he wasn't done being a Bad Ass yet and hopping a boat and sailed back over to Middle-Earth where he amused himself making the Nazgûl flee from him in terror.
Fëanor was pretty badass too. Fought a couple of Balrogs. After having rebelled against, oh, all the gods to go fighting another god: Morgoth. Sauron, the Big Bad from The Lord of the Rings, was one of Morgoth's flunkies (admittedly, the head flunky). Also, Fëanor isn't even his real name. He was born Curufinwë, but was almost universally known as Fëanor, which means "Spirit of Fire." He's explicitly stated to be the "Greatest of the Noldor", "Noldor" being that group of elves which lists among its members Galadriel, Elrond, Eärendil, Finrod, Fingolfin, Fingon, Gil-galad...
This is the guy who wasn't buried when a bunch of Balrogs slew him. Because his body burned on its own.
There's also the oft-overlooked Mirkwood Elves. Without the aid of a Ring of Power, they still managed to defend their realm against the forces of Sauron for centuries.
Finrod Felagund, who broke the chains binding him and killed a werewolf with his bare hands.
At the same battle where Húrin was taken prisoner, King Azaghâl of the Dwarves was leading an assault on Glaurung and teaching the Father of Dragons that dwarf axes can punch through some quite amazing amounts of dragon scale. Then when Glaurung turned on the King and trampled him to death, Azaghâl's last act was to stab him in the belly so hard that he fled the field in terror. At which point all of the dwarves stopped fighting and started the King's funeral procession right there and then, and nobody on either side dared interfere.
Huan, the legendary hound, was big enough for an elven princess to ride, and was subjected to a prophecy where the strongest werewolf ever born would be the end of him. and his feats. Walking into Sauron's land, he killed several werewolves before Sauron sent out a werewolf specifically bred to fight Huan. Huan killed it, then Sauron himself came out. Yes, THAT Sauron, Big Bad of Lord of the Rings. Huan beat him too. The same evil that the heroes of LOTR tried to keep from achieving full power. Huan eventually met his end when the father of all werewolves swallowed a silmaril and killed him. Yes he didn't die until he was killed by a werewolf who was in mortal pain from the very light of the trees. Badass indeed.
Killed by a werewolf, furthermore, who was the mightiest wolf ever to walk the earth - more powerful even than Sauron-in-wolf-form. And who had a poisonous bite, too.
Lùthien and Beren. The two of them just managed to steal a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown on their own. If that isn't Badass, what is? Lùthien defeating Sauron with Huan's help isn't all that shabby either.
Plus the fact that Lùthien beat Morgoth by singing.
An honorable mention goes to Bullroarer Took, an ancestor of Bilbo Baggins who was able to ride a warhorse (he was a hobbit, who're normally half the size of the average human). He won a battle against an army of goblins by decapitating their chief Golfimbul. With a club. And invented the game of golf at the same time when it landed in a rabbit warren.
Denethor from the Lord of the Rings also qualifies strongly, despite of his breakdown at the end. Consider - whereas Saruman was quickly corrupted by the use of Palantír to spy Sauron's activities, Denethor stood strong, never sparing slightest thought of turning on his ideals. Thus Sauron had to take alternate strategy, and destroy his hopes, instead. Also, he strongly implies that if everything is lost, and Minas Tirith falls, Sauron will come personally to mock him...and then he'll open his personal can of whoopass over him. This is before Boromir falls, which is the final straw of his breakdown from badassery.
Denethor, at an age when most men would be supping bread and milk by the fire, has for years gone to bed every night in armour and with his sword on, just so he doesn't go soft through being too comfortable.
Sam Gamgee manages to beat a freakin' demi-goddess spider by himself then has the psychic moxie to not only refuse the Ring's temptation but laugh at it!
Sam tops that by giving up the Ring voluntarily. The only other being to ever do so was Bilbo, who needed all the help Gandalf could give him to do it.
Isildur, son Elendil the Tall. Born in Númenor during the days of its corruption, he grew up decent. When the corrupt last King of Númenor, Tar-Calion/Ar-Pharazôn was about the cut down the White Tree of Númenor (symbol of the realm's ancient alliance to the Elves, Valar, and Good), Isildur snuck into the capitol city, which was off-limits to the Faithful Númenórean party he was part of. Then he sneaks into the Royal Palace, past the guards, gets into the innermost courtyards, and steals the last seed. The guards discover him, he has to fight his way out, he gets wounded, and he still manages to single-handedly get out of the capitol with his identity hidden and the seed, which became the ancestral seed of the White Tree of Gondor. Then later, he acts as 'second' for his father Elendil in the duel with Sauron that ended the Second Age, and it was Isildur who actually struck the death blow. He blew it by not destroying the One Ring at the time, but he's still a major-league Badass.
All the Noldorin Elves of Fingolfin's host. Abandoned and betrayed by Fëanor, and unwilling to go back to the Valar for pardon, they crossed the Northern pack ice on foot to get across the Atlantic West Sea, arriving in Middle-Earth after an indescribably harsh journey across broken ice, through murderous cold, and catch up with Fëanor.
Eärendil the Mariner. He caps off a lifetime of Badass by engaging Ancalagon the Black, greatest and most powerful Dragon in the history of the world, in aerial combat, and kills the monster. Ancalagon was mighty enough to drive back the Host of Valinor!
Faramir, son of Denethor. Quiet, peaceful by preference, a scholar at heart...and carrying out a nasty guerrila war in Ithilien against superior enemy forces. Deadly dangerous but still manages to be a good man. Definitely Badass.
Helm Hammerhand, the king of Rohan. This is the guy who had his country overrun by Orcs and Dunlendings during a terrible winter, locked himself up in Helm's Deep (and now you know how the fortress got the name) slowly losing his mind from pain and hunger, until he snapped and began to leave it each day, sneaking into enemy camps and killing them with bare hands. Each time before he left he sounded the horn (yes, this horn), but his enemies were so afraid of him, they fled rather than use the opportunity to get him. Finally, one day he left the fortress, but did not return - he froze to death, still standing, and looking over the valley. Even then, his enemies were so scared they didn't dare to approach the corpse. He got the name 'Hammerhand' because of the time a guy mouthed off to him. Helm punched him in the chest and the man fell dead.
Aragorn. All. The. Freaking. Time.
Gandalf. Sure, he's got a bit of a leg up on account of being a demigod, but there's the fact that he's a demigod in the form of an old man. His feats of badassery included fighting and eventually killing a Balrog in a battle that apparently went on for several days (after having survived a fall down the deepest pit in Middle-Earth). Then, not being one to let a trivial thing like death stop him, he leveled up and returned to Middle-Earth to be instrumental in the winning of the War of the Ring, delivering a smackdown to his former superior Saruman more or less as an afterthought.
I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned already, but Frodo himself managed to cart the One Ring all the way to the Fires of Orodruin, a feat which at least two enormously ancient and powerful beings—Gandalf and Galadriel—openly admit is beyond them. Even though he breaks right before chucking it into the lava, he still has some Silmaril-sized cojones.
Gimli and Legolas.
Smaug from The Hobbit. Also Bilbo, Thorin Oakenshield and Bard from the same book.
Duke Alaric Morgan, cultivates a dangerous arcane persona yet has substantial martial skills. And he typically carries a stiletto as well as a dagger and a sword. A man of long experience, he joined Brion on the campaign against the Marluk at 14 and was Lord General of the Armies fifteen years later.
Monsignor (later Bishop) Duncan McLain Minored in Asskicking before becoming a priest (justified since he's the younger son of a duke). He's killed people who tried to kill him, helped a drugged Morgan fight his way free of a dozen or so men who were going to burn Morgan at the stake. He led an army in the field against the Mearans.
King Kelson Haldane. He fought and won duel arcane at his coronation at 14. He led his forces in a couple of wars before he was 18. He executed one rebel leader personally, by shooting him through the eye with an arrow. He joined in multi-party arcane combat at Liam-Lajos's investiture a few years after that.
Dhugal MacArdry McLain, Earl of Transha. Sure, he was captured by the Mearans (and got a concussion and some broken ribs in the doing), but he escaped and took a hostage back to Kelson. He also rode a horse over a wall of flames to rescue someone (his father Duncan) from a burning pyre, hauling off someone else who was trying to stab the intended victim to death.
King Brion Haldane killed the Marluk, a Festillic Pretender, in a combination martial-and-arcane combat (only shown glimpses thus far in the short story "Legacy" and brief flashbacks elsewhere; may be fully depicted in a sequel to Childe Morgan). He also had his own campaign against the Mearan separatists.
Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor. There's a good reason he's called "The Iron Duke". He was part of the campaign against the Marluk at 20, as well as Brion's own efforts against the Mearans. Oh, and he fought off assassins while Kelson was away on camapign. Like his friend Morgan, he bristles with weapons, usually a sword, a dagger in a boot, and another dagger in the small of his back.
Sean Lord Derry, Morgan's aide-de-camp, expert on horses, and handy in a fight. He preteneded to be drunk and killed two spies who tried to capture and drug him while he was on a reconaissance mission of his own.
The Michaelines, an order of badasses. Among their members who proved themselves in combat (martial and arcane) were Father Alister Cullen, Vicar-General of the order, Lord Jebediah d'Alcara, Grand Master (and Cullen's aide), Father Joram MacRorie, son of Camber MacRorie the Earl of Culdi.
The Knights of the Anvil (Anvillers), an order of combat specialists who also possess legendary skills of stealth. Sir Sé Trelawney saves the life of Prince Brion and his uncle, Prince Richard Haldane, shortly before Brion's coronation with a well-placed arrow in the throat of a hostile spellcaster.
Karsa Orlong from Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, a giant barbarian warrior, is immensely Badass, beating everyone and everything he faces, almost without breaking a sweat. In House of Chains, he holds his own against Icarium, a feared warrior whose rage has destroyed entire civilizations, and slays not one but two of the dreaded Deragoth, the ancient Hounds of Darkness.
Another Badass character from Malazan Book of the Fallen is Anomander Rake, who battles against terrible demons and entire cadres of enemy High Mages. In Memories of Ice, Rake singlehandedly takes on a horde of three hundred thousand (300,000) Tenescowri warriors (although, to be fair to the Tenescowri, Rake flies, so they can't really fight back).
Crowley in Good Omens. One of his most badass moments is actually incredibly easy to miss, especially on the first reading: he gets into a jeep, not realising that it's full of trained American soldiers on their way to a nuclear airbase. Next paragraph, it's Crowley's jeep. And it has a cassette player.
Richard Cypher in Sword of Truth books two, four and especially six. He rips out an enemy's spine out trough the poor man's stomach. While inflicted with the Plague. And severely wounded. And when the enemy was using the series's titular Magical Sword.
And then there's Chase, a man who, despite no magical ability, more than holds his own in every situation he's thrust into. Before the series, his day job included fighting off demonic hell hounds from the underworld.
Murtagh of the Inheritance Cycle. In addition to being the second most powerful character in the entire series, he is one of only a few who has the gall to actually call the Designated Hero Eragon out, and defeats him handily in a climatic battle at the end of Eldest. In the next book, he even fights over a dozen elves and a dragon at once, and manages to stalemate them, despite that elves are naturally stronger than humans. Additional badassery is guanteed when he becomes the first character in the Cycle to insult the elves. It isn't very surprising that he's one of the most popular characters in the series, and some of the people who actually hate the books like him.
There's Grettir, the strongest man Iceland (and probably the world) has ever seen, who killed not one, but two GHOSTS, one of which was the height of a small house. Before that, his sheer badassery impressed numerous kings around europe. After he was killed in a mix of incredibly heavy poisoning, arson and tens of people raiding a cottage he was staying in, his brother sailed all the way to Istanbul just to avenge him.
Second in is Gunnlaugr Ormstunga, a man who chopped a guy in half length-wise and walked up to the king of Norway with a heavy case of parasites bleeding from his leg, just to prove he's that badass.
Mark E. Rodgers's Samurai Cat, Miaowara Tomokato. 'What a stud!'.
George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is filled to the brim with badasses of all shapes and sizes, in various areas of skill. In no particular order:
Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, whom the series establishes as one of the best sword fighters in all of Westeros, possibly the best. At one point, he is surprised that an opponent is giving him a challenge, not even winning. This after weeks of imprisonment, while in chains.
Two Words: Sandor Clegane. The horrifically scarred bodyguard of Joffrey Baratheon claims to have killed a man when he was twelve years old, and ever since then has been an unstoppably cool warrior. One of his first signs of awesomeness was when he saved Loras Tyrell from his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane, a man also known as the Mountain that Rides. And winning (granted, by default, but still).
The Stark family in general is fairly badass. For example, Jon Snow, the patriarch Ned Stark's bastard son and member of the Night's Watch. To give an example of one of his less badass moments, he takes an arrow to the leg, pulls it out, then trudges on.
Arya Stark is ten years old. She has killed multiple people. Every night before she goes to sleep she recites a list of all of the people she wants dead. To those who've read it, the words "Weasel Soup" prove her capabilities beyond all doubt. This series being what it is, Arya's badassery also goes to show how dangerously messed up her life is.
To top it off, she joins the Faceless Men. The world's best assassins. When she is eleven years old.
Ser Barristan Selmy of the Kingsguard is one of the best sword fighters in the realm, even while pushing sixty. When he is unduly ousted from the Kingsguard from the first book, it is no mere boast when he states that he could "cut through the five of [the Kingsguard] as a dagger cuts cheese!" He continues to serve awesomely in later books as Daenerys Targaryen's most trusted bodyguard. They don't call him "Barristan the Bold" for nothing.
This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. There's Brienne of Tarth, who manages to beat Jaime (albeit under extenuating circumstances) and defeats Loras Tyrell in . Khal Drogo off-handedly kills a lion to get his wife a shiny new cloak, and dies with his hair un-cut in a culture where you cut you hair if suffer defeat. Strong Belwas kills a celebrated hero and takes a dump on him. Loras Tyrel has out-jousted both Gregor Glegane (an 8-foot-tall monster who uses a greatsword like a toothpick) and the aforementioned Jaime. Aereo Hotah and his longaxe, Qhorin Halfhand, who Jon admits is vastly his superior with a blade despite missing quite a few fingers, Oberyn "The Red Viper of Dorne" Martell, Robert Baratheon with his huge damn warhammer, Asha and Euron and Victarion Greyjoy...the list goes on and on.
It is criminal that two of the series's biggest badasses have yet to be mentioned: Stannis Baratheon and Coldhands. The former may be completely un-charismatic and about as loveable as a crab, but he couldn't give a rat's ass on who's: He's Stannis, and he WILL have the Iron Throne - by charging in the front lines himself carving anyone at King's Landing, then proving himself a big damn hero for the Night's Watch by creaming Mance Rayder's forces, and finally manages to get virtually every one of Mance's leftover wildlings to bend the knee before him. And then there's Coldhands, who's very nature makes him a badass by default - that, and he pretty much kills anything in his way, alive or otherwise.
Bernard Cornwell's historical novels always feature a badass as the lead character. The most famous of these is Richard Sharpe, who once disarmed a master swordsman by impaling himself on the other guy's blade. And then hacked him apart.
Lan Mandragoran from the Wheel of Time series. He's not only got the long hair and horrible background of most bad asses, but he is also a blade master who teaches the main character of the entire series to wield a blade.
That's hardly what's so badass about him. It's the fact that he somehow manages to both be bigger and meaner and more bitter than Rand Al'Thor, even when the latter toughs it on fighting the hordes of darkness through excruciating pain and in the face of the inevitable fate of having to die to save the world. Lan even manages to get one of the shrewyAes Sedai somewhat under control and marries her, and for the Wheel of Time setting that's saying something. Even in the prologue novel to the series he mentions how it's "impossible for one man to defeat six in a straight fight", and then goes on to do just that.
Then there's Rand's childhood friends Mat and Perrin, one of which is a Badass Lovable RogueSimple Staff ''Master'', the other of which is a Badass Blacksmith who is somewhat bone hard. And then there's Logain, and most everyone of the Warders... In fact, the Wheel of Time world seems pretty thick with badasses. Somehow though, they seem repressed at times, and often find themselves under many a verbal barrage from the Aes Sedai. This might have something to do with the latter being the sole highest authority and users of magic in the lands though, a fact that has foreseeable social and political repercussions...
This is a universe so over flowing with Badass that it contains a magical horn, which when blown summons past Badasses back from the dead. Crowning Musicof Awesome indeed.
Felix, from John Steakey's Armour. A man who 1: Is the only survivor of a mission on a bug world where he (in scout rather than standard armor) drops an atomic (involuntary) suicide bomber into the bug base, 2: Is therefore listed as dead, and is accidentally sent on every single mission, and 3: Survives them all. A reasonable level of badass if anything is.
The reason he's such a Badass is because whenever he gets shoved into a combat situation, which is all the time, he is bladder-clenchingly afraid to die — so he doesn't. Which kind of makes him a Badass who is Cursed with Awesome.
Thomas Covenant, anyone? Convinced that he's hallucinating the magical world just before his death, he gives himself the title The Unbeliever. He then proceeds to, whether by destiny, luck, or epic rage, destroy everything dumb enough to stand in his way.
There are a lot of badasses in The Land - like the Giants, who are gentle poets and utterly loveable people who believe that laughter is more important than life in some ways, but who can become unstoppable killing machines when pressed. The Bloodguard are a collection of the most badass members of a badass tribe, who have effectively ceased to age and no longer need sleep because of their oath to serve the Lords. But Lord Mhoram is the most badass individual in the entire universe (and certainly the most loveable character in the entire series), as while he's easily one of the most perceptive, sensitive, and understanding people Covenant ever meets - and considers himself utterly unworthy of the responsibility that has been thrust on him - he still manages to completely defeat a demon-possessed evil magic wielding giant more or less single handed by sheer willpower.
It was more that he was the first person in a few ages to realize that Magic used to be based on the... less desirable emotions
Martin the Warrior and his more popular chosen ones, particularly Matthias and Mariel. Sure, what they do should by all rights be impossible, but they do it in a way that looks plausible to at least the twelve-year-old target audience and still manage to be cute and furry while they do it. See the Battleblade Dance. The Badger Lords are less cute, but even more Badass (at least, much more logically so).
Bigwig and General Woundwort of Watership Down. And Blackavar, who became one of the most competent fighters in Hazel's group even though Woundwort had imprisoned him and ripped his ears off.
In his Mistborn series, Brandon Sanderson has plenty of badasses to go around in the form of Mistborn (and now you know the reasoning behind the title of the series). The Mistborn's feats include defeating a Dragon that no one ever had before, downing a purported god, taking out cadres of soldiers trained specifically to fight them, and slaughtering or mentally dominating troops of inhuman beasts.
Non-mistborn badasses, such as Sazed, who is normally a polite and kindly scholar but can use Feruchemy to enhance all of his physical abilities to superhuman levels when he needs to fight, and on the evil side of things, the Inquisitors (who have a lot of the same powers as a mistborn, but get them in a different way).
Also from Sanderson, given the fact that Shardblades and Shardplate are frequently obtained killing the previous owner, and given the fact that they make their users all but unstoppable by normal means, especially if they have both, anybody that owns Shards is likely a badass. Szeth son-son Vallano gets special mention, for not only having a Shardblade, but also having Gravity Master powers and being a Person of Mass Destruction, including of Shardbearers. And Kaladin gets EXTRA special mention, for being a Person of Mass Destruction WITHOUT Shards and with little control over his Gravity Master powers.
Socrates, as written by his disciple, Plato. Sure, the guy probably couldn't throw a punch to save his life, but getting into an argument with him was like a chimp getting into the ring with King Kong. In one dialogue, Protagoras, you can almost hear the assembled Athenian worthies thinking "these guys are so dead" as the famed sophists square off against Socrates.
Couldn't throw a punch, nothing. The man was an Athenian war hero. He fought alongside Spartans and acquitted himself well. Brains, brawn, and eloquence, in one betogaed package.
Caine from Matthew Stover's Heroes Die and sequels is one of Overworld's deadliest assassins. Stover writes him more realistically than most badasses, pointing out that he's not the best fighter, he has plenty of weaknesses, is far from invincible, and a lot of the shit that goes on around him is either out of his league or impractical to solve just by beating it into submission. Despite that, he routinely manages to pull off stunts that would put Beowulf to shame. He continues doing this even after the injuries he receives at the end of the first book leave him partially crippled.
The Badass Bookworm from the novel Red Storm Rising, USAF Lt. Michael Edwards. Goes from being a weatherman at the main USAF base in Iceland, whose only claim to martial fame is being a marathon runner, to killing multiple hardcore Badass Soviet paratroopers with just a combat knife. And marching half-way around Iceland with the island crawling with Soviet goons, including several "Hind" helicopters, while keeping NATO informed of the situation in Iceland.
John Clark/John Kelly. Read almost any book with him in it, particularly Without Remorse.
Richard Seaton from E. E. “Doc” Smith's Skylark Series. His handgun fires tactical nukes. Plus, he designed a spaceship 1000 kilometers in diameter in 8 hours. (Badass architecture!)
Logen Ninefingers in The First Law trilogy. They sing songs about how he mixes his enemies blood with his beer.
Druss. The. Fucking. Legend. Here is a man whose wife was kidnapped while Druss was nothing but a large and gruff farmer. In response, Druss took up the axe and carved his way through two continents to get said wife back. Which he did. Then he accidentally broke the jaw of his nation's Olympic-equivalent fighting champion, who was over 10 years younger than him, took his place and proceeded to kick the shit out of absolutely everyone he fought. Then he fought his way through a desert and a metric fuckton of enemies from two different armies. Then he helps another badass defeat an evil monastery containing one of the deadliest swordsmen who've ever lived. Then, when he should be seriously considering dying of old age, he participates in the largest siege in the history of his nation. And it takes over 10,000 Nadir to kill him. Bad. Fucking. Ass.
For fucks sake, not even DEATH could stop him from kicking ass. Defending the Dros as a Ghost and then spending the next ten thousand years & more protecting souls who couldn't reach Paradise until they redeem themselves by surviving a demon-infested void when he himself could have entered into Paradise. Paradise!
And then there's Skilgannon the Damned...
Waylander deserves special mention during his latter books, when even as a Badass Normal those more powerful and magically endowed than him fear him - calling him an effing Elemental of Death. Also, in the last parts, he managed to kill an Ancient all-powerful immortal god through sheer badassery and while in his death throes, even manage to defeat a band of healthy bandits from harming his wife... resulting in a sorta-happy-ending.
Also the author used the word Rigante as an interchangeable word for Badass, so that's a given. The chant "We are Rigante" = "We are Badass".
Mara Jade. While her badassery starts to diminish after she becomes a mother, the moments she gets make up for it.
A very old example. Odysseus from Homer's Odyssey. This is a man who 'defeats' the witch Circe by having sex with her (no, seriously). A man who goes to the Underworld itself, talks to the ghosts of his mother and many of his friends and then walks back to the land of the living. A man who, after 20 years away, kills 108 men, all in their prime, who are in his house and trying to steal his wife. He also did a lot of other things, including coming up with the legendary Trojan Horse. Not bad for a character from a 3000 year old story.
From Warrior Cats, we have Scourge he killed the Big Bad with one blow, Tigerstar not even death can keep him from revenge, and several others.
Most characters that are shown fighting regularly later on, when the fights gradually morph from cats rolling around and scratching each other, into what can best be described as "Cat-Fu". Especially noticeable are Lionblaze, who comes out of fights drenched in blood (none of it his), and Firestar, who, since The Darkest Hour, has never fought less than two opponents at the same time.
Thistleclaw. Sure, he was a Jerkass, but that doesn't change the fact that he chased off a dog single pawed.
The Unseelie Accords are a set of peace treaties which are widely respected throughout the world's supernatural community. The signatories include: The White Council Of Wizards, three separate vampire Courts, two faerie Courts, a dragon or two, and Gentleman Johnny Marcone - the only vanilla mortal human acknowledged as a freeholding lord under the Accords.
Karrin Murphy, who is, well, herself, and once took a chainsaw to an ogre's knee.
Charity Carpenter, a Mama Bear so devoted she raided the castle of the goddamn Winter Queen.
In Turn Coat, Harry has an epiphany when he realizes, to his own genuine surprise, that five Wardens are scared of him, and he looks back at his career so far through their eyes and realizes what kind of reputationhe's built upover the years.
To clarify, Harry makes a regular business of conversing with, fighting, and occasionally killing things way, way beyond his weight class. He represents at least two different powerful magical factions (White Council and Winter Court) as a Warden and the Winter Knight, killed the Summer Lady, Aurora, ridden the aforementioned T-rex into battle against necromancers, occasionally plays 'errand boy' for Uriel, won a three-year battle with a Fallen Angel's shadow in his mind, fought a skinwalker, and is responsible for the extinction of the Red Court.
Trust us. He's good. He freely admits that he has only survived thus far thanks to sheer dumb luck, unusual circumstances, and unexpectedhelp from others. This does not diminish his badassery in any way.
And Cowl curb-stomped Harry Dresden. He's a confirmed member of the Black Council who very nearly became a god (if it weren't for Dresden).
Jim Butcher is good at this trope. Just look at Tavi, hero of Codex Alera, the one normal person on a continent populated entirely by people with Bond Creatures that give them Elemental Powers. He turned half a barbarian horde against the other half, single-handedly saving the country at age 15. He's regarded as incredibly dangerous by a Proud Warrior Race of 8-foot-tall wolfmen with Blood Magic, and for good reason: when he accidentally ended up in command of 5 or 6 thousand half-trained legionaires, he led them to victory against an army of 60,000 of said 8-foot wolfmen. He beat one of the greatest swordsmen in the realm in single combat by psychingher out using a pain they share. He broke someone out of a prison that can even contain the High Lords, then did it againafter they'd implemented his suggestions to make it harder to break out of. He lives on Refuge in Audacity and takes Badass Normal to unheard-of heights (once). So much so that some of his friends start tracking him down by figuring out where the riskiest place in the world is at that moment, and he's there. Kicking ass, taking names, and making friends. ...And when he finally starts showing his heritage? Yeesh. They call him "Gaius Tavarus Magnus" for a reason. Which, for those who don't know Latin, means something to the effect of "Lord Wolverine the Great".
Special mention to Gaius Septimus, Gaius Sextus, Araris Valerian, Amara, Isana, Bernard, Max, Varg, Nasuag, and uncountably many more.
Sita, protagonist of Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series, routinely slaughters small armies single-handedly, with anything from her personal collection of assault weapons to her bare hands.
However, as the series goes on Sita's Badass-ness gets a tad silly. How interesting is a character who can take on anything and brags about it endlessly?
Malik ibn Ibrahim from Wandering Djinn, a creature so badass he actually rips an incarnation of pure rage from a young human with his hands, shows how little he needs his magical abilities when he has his wits (the destruction of the movement seal is quite cool), and going toe-to-toe with a very large and brutal ifrit in a one-on-one match.
Daine from the Tortall Universe. How Badass is she? She's so Badass that when she goes on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge (after she thinks Numair is dead), it involves raising an army of zombie dinosaurs to ruin everything. ZOMBIE DINOSAURS!!!
How about the other badasses from Tortall? Alanna defeats everyone from regular warriors to other badasses to immensely powerful sorcerers to entire armies (or close to it) with just awesome skill with a sword, some magic she often hates using, and an attitude. Kel becomes the first open female knight, besting prejudice and actual foes. She also kills lots of giant metal spiders made from the souls of dead children! George Cooper keeps a collection of the ears of people who have crossed him. Liam is the best martial artist IN THE WORLD. Beka braids a spiked strap into her hair just because she'd rather have foes impale themselves on it during a fight than have to cut it. And there are so many more.
Dove, from Trickster's Queen, who, while her people are in the middle of a rebellion, flies over the city on a giant winged horse, despite personal danger, just to spur them on! And how is she when she does this? THIRTEEN
Uther Doul, from China Miéville's The Scar. When he's not fighting, he's quite a reserved, scholarly fellow, much like a professor. When he fights, he switches to an angry psychopath. Oh, and his fighting skills? The people he works for had him stay on their ship as a last line of defense against a freaking navy assault. And it WORKS. The main character notes that its not his fighting skills that makes him so terrifying- it's his ability to switch from being a quiet scholarly fellow directly into being a rage filled beast. She thinks to herself: "fighting skills can be LEARNED".
Colt Regan, in addition to being your standard issue Badass Normal, he also makes a conscious effort to look more badass whenever possible.
Hari Seldon in Asimov's Foundation stories is a scholar who organizes a Galaxy-spanning Batman Gambit in order to mould humanity's interstellar future according to his vision. He also talks down (and outwits) the Empire Evil Chancellor in order to get what wants.
Irial, Niall, Gabe, Ani, etc. The whole Dark Court in Wicked Lovely.
Any Amberite in Zelazny's stories, especially the royal family. A few examples:
King Oberon is king of Amber, the city/state/empire which sits atop Mount Kolvir and casts "shadows" of itself through the universe, imposing its pattern on Chaos. He's also the bearer of the Jewel of Judgement, giving him power over the weather (and several other abilities), making him more or less the equivalent of Zeus.
Any descendant of Oberon can (attempt to) walk the Pattern, a magical design in the basement of the castle which gives those who complete it the ability to "hellride", or travel through the shadows cast by Amber (effectively, a way to jump between parallel universes). The pattern destroys anyone not of the royal blood who tries, and there's considerable risk even for them: it's extremely difficult, and stepping off the path once you've started is invariably fatal.
Dworkin, the hunchbacked dwarf jester/mentor/court magician, created the Trumps (communications/transportation devices, in the form of cards, that allow you to talk to or even travel to the person depicted on the card, no matter where they are at the time). He can do this for places as well. It turns that he's also the father of Oberon and inscriber of the Pattern, meaning that he essentially created the ordered portion of the universe out of the primal Chaos.
Of the Princes, perhaps the very most badass is Benedict, who for a lifetime running into millennia has spent nearly every day studying battle and is the undisputed weapons master of Amber, as well as being the ultimate strategist and tactician.
Brand has done essentially the same with respect to magic, and as a result of careful study under Dworkin and his own experiments has a fuller understanding of the way the Trumps and the universe as a whole work than anyone other than Dworkin, (probably) Oberon, and (possibly) a very few Lords of the Courts of Chaos. He is able to shift shadow on Mount Kolvir, which most of the family believe is impossible due to the proximity of the Pattern.
Dedicate Rosethorn from the Circle of Magic series. Made doubly awesome by the fact that she's a plant mage, not normally a badass sort of magic. But in Tris's Book she raises a wall of thorns to prevent pirates from getting into Winding Circle Temple, and she saves hundreds of plants from a fire in Daja's Book, even though she feels the pain herself. By Street Magic she's created little packages of plant seeds which she can throw at people then use her magic to make the plants grow, either trapping the victim with vines or impaling them with thorns.
Sandry, during The Will of the Empress, speaking about the climax of Magic Steps: "I tore three people to pieces to save my student."
In The Fires of Affliction, Roland Balfour shows up to the final melee bloodied, shirtless, framed by the exploding enemy base he just blew up, and Dual Wielding both a pair of swords and a pair of explosive crossbows. This almost makes up for his glaring leadership failures earlier on.
Wedge Antilles, long time leader of Rogue Squadron and hero of the Rebellion and New Republic. Not only is he indisputably one of the best pilots in the galaxy, if not the best (quite possibly better than even Luke Skywalker), but he is the only person to attack both Death Stars. Detailing Wedge's exploits and heroic moments would take more space than would be prudent, so probably one of his most defining moments was a couple of years after Endor, when one of the most dangerous and abominable Imperials escaped Coruscant and fled into neutral space. The New Republic refused to pursue her, instead concentrating on threats closer to home. One of Wedge's Rogues immediately resigned in order to take her down, and with very little hesitation, Wedge Antilles resigned, too. After giving most of his life thus far to the Rebellion and then the New Republic, and with such a stable position there, he left it. Because it was the only way he could do what was right. And, with his Rogues, he subsequently brought Isard down, and captured a Super Star Destroyer.
A more typical Badass example would be during a vicious battle for a planet against the genocidal Yuuzhan Vong. After abandoning the groundside command center, Wedge found that the only undamaged craft left was an X-Wing with no comms and no astromech, so he grudgingly took it. He then fought and destroyed an enemy squadron singlehandedly, but took a fair bit of damage. When a second squadron closed in to destroy the civilian transport he was protecting, he knew that staying to defend it meant certain death. He stayed anyway, and was saved by the timely arrival of Big Damn Heroes.
Or the time he was directing a sham planetary defense. He wanted to lose, but to inspire the dying New Republic to be a little less stupid. A Super Star Destroyer arrives in the middle of the huge Vong fleet, and he wins anyway.
The title character of Skulduggery Pleasant- a walking, talking, fighting skeleton, who once took down one of the Big Bads by throwing explosives at him, and then reminds him of it, years later. Quite a few characters in SP are badass, though one of the main points of the series is that his sidekick, Valkyrie, gradually evolves into a badass. She killed her first Eldritch Abomination at thirteen, and she killed it with sword she was barely trained in using, back when she was starting out training in using magic and kicking arse. Yeah.
Giddgiddonihah from the Tennis Shoe Adventures. the guy's a warrior from 34 AD, and not in his prime, but still manages to take down a crazy guy- with two poison darts in him- and it takes a third to even kcock him out. later in that same book, he rides a mammoth into the heart of the Big Bad's city- yes, a MAMMOTH, in the middle of three volcanoes erupting and an earthquake- after being up for 48 hours solid. but It doesn't stop there. No. Later in the series, he goes on another rescue mission, trades himself for the captive, gets taken through time and space to ANCIENT ROME, again, without having a breakdown, gets sold into the gaditorial rings, KILLS a lion AND the Champion fighter with easy, escapes, continues on ANOTHER rescue mission, and another, and another. it takes three arrows in a burring building to take him down, and he still is able to save three malnourished teenagers and 11 scrolls from getting killed/ destroyed. and death isn't strong enough, because HE GETS BETTER. and goes on another rescue mission. he fights anything from evil cults to corupt kings to the guy who built the TOWER OF BABLE, and later what may as well be SATAN. the guy is freaking badass!
When Lt. Kurt Ambrose, aka Kurt-051, was commissioned to create a small army of new-generation Spartans, he collected children, ages roughly 3-6, from all over the colonies, kids who'd been orphaned by the Covenant. The first thing they had to do to prove they were worth training was make a nighttime parajump from Pelicans. All of the kids that did it were instantly qualified as badasses. And each generation of Spartan-IIIs only upped the ante. This is before they became Spartans; these kids had guts to spare when kids is all they were.
The Uglies series gives us Shay, David, and especially Tally. Most of the Specials and quite a few Smokies actually qualify.
Animorphs is filled to the brim with these. The main six kids all grow into this as the war goes on, both Vissers are fearsome opponents of strength and will (respectively), and there's badasses on the side of good, evil, and everywhere in between. Elfangor, Alloran, Loren, David, Taylor, the Auxilary Animorphs, the list goes on and on...
In The Rehearsal, written in 1672, the playwright Bayes creates the warrior Drawcansir to be the ultimate badass, though the character is in fact just a swaggering bully.
The Shannara franchise has had a few, with Garet Jax (who kills a Kraken with a spear), Truls Rohk, and Druids Allanon and Walker Boh being the standouts.
The men of Les Amis de l'ABC have this in varying degrees, but special mention goes to Enjolras: not only is he an expert shot, but he also fends off a horde of men trying to kill him using only the broken stump of his carbine.
Eponine Thenardier also gets a mention here for facing down a group of armed thieves and succeeding in scaring them off from the Rue Plumet.
Sandokan is the archetypical badass of Italian culture. Why? Easy: to take revenge on the British Empire, who had given a drunkard money and weapons to kill his family and take his throne, he assembled a pirate gang starting with Dayaks and Malays, two ethnic groups that loathed each other, and forced them to become Bash Brothers. That was when he was young, inexperienced and still a little naive. By the time we get to the first novel he's an accomplished pirate leader known as the Tiger of Malaya, his flag is enough to cause the surrender of most ships that encounter him, and he can kill an actual tiger with a single stroke of his knife while still recovering from being shot a dozen times and nearly drowning.
Sandokan kills a tiger in a TV miniseries. The book version is slightly more awesome because Sandokan hadn't done it to protect his beloved Marianna but because he felt like giving her that tiger's skin as a present. Predictably, Marianna fell in love with him.
In a later novel Sandokan is forced to surrender to James Brooke (an historical pirate hunter and the first White Raja of Sarawak) and his overwhelming firepower, chained and put on a ship to be deported on Australia. The first thing he does on the ship is to break his chains. The second is to break the reinforced chains the crew had placed on him. The third was to calm the crew, as he wasn't planning to murder them all in their sleep. He later led a mutiny of the prisoners of the ship, returned to Sarawak and proceeded to cause James Brooke's fall.
Later again, after he has decided that he had punished the British enough, the British Empire sent a fleet and managed to conquer his base, the island of Mompracem. His reply? A declaration of war to the British Empire. He then proceeded to buy an ironclad warship and wreak havoc in the British trade in the Indian Ocean. In the end the Royal Navy succeeded in sinking his ship, but he did so much damage that when Sandokan decided to take back his father's throne and maybe Mompracem the British Empire sold him guns and ammo and gave away Mompracem to avoid another confrontation. That's right: he was so badass that the greatest power of his time didn't dare to fight him.
Bagley Brown, Jr., the protagonist of The Wainscott Weasel. Dude loses an eye to a bird, but still helps others dig a passageway. Later on, he does the lion's share of work in lowering an osprey's nest from the top of a telephone pole. It exhausts him to the point that he can barely do anything for a couple weeks, but just the fact that he was able to at least get it to the ground before others moved it off was impressive.