Authority Equals Asskicking

Not quite your standard Nazi mook.

Jame: I'm not asking who'd win in a fight, I'm asking if the Czar outranks the mayor.
York: And you don't think those issues are related?

The higher a character is in his hierarchy, the better he is in a fight. This goes double for non-protagonists.

In the real world, soldiers are usually promoted for their leadership and management skills, not for their fighting prowess. If anything, senior ranking soldiers tend to be worse at fighting than the rank-and-file, because they are generally older, and they do not train as much because they are not expected to actually engage in combat. There are exceptions, but they usually don't put themselves In Harm's Way. In fact, in the US military, Special Forces officers rarely are promoted as high as General (or Admiral in the Navy) and tend not to rise any higher than Colonel (or Naval Captain).

And yet, in many works of fiction, especially video games, the opposite is true. The higher someone's rank, the deadlier he is in personal combat. A sergeant can kick a grunt's ass. A captain can kick a sergeant's ass. A general can kick everybody's ass. The "boss fight" at the climax of a game will often be against the literal boss of the enemy army.

Common examples of this trope include General Ripper, Colonel Badass, the Diabolical Mastermind, the Corrupt Corporate Executive, The Evil Emperor, The Evil Prince and President Evil. Among the good guys, the Rebellious Princess benefits from this one enough to be a competent mage despite her sheltered life, and the Action Politician can bring a whole new meaning to "political armtwisting." The Mad Scientist is more likely to go One-Winged Angel, but he can still invoke this trope if he's got a large enough cadre of mutants, henchmen, and/or combat robots at his disposal. The Evil Overlord will always take advantage of this, sometimes via Kingpin in His Gym. It is almost always the way of things with supernormal creatures like Demon Lords and Archdevils.

In video games with named and Palette Swap enemies, this trope sometimes results in the player fighting squadrons consisting entirely of generals near the end of the game, with no lower-ranked units in sight.

The Almighty Janitor is an inversion, who is far more powerful than his lowly rank would imply. The Desk Jockey is a different inversion, who has been promoted out of the field into authority. Compare You Can Barely Stand. See also Large And In Charge, Izchak's Wrath, Royals Who Actually Do Something, and Fixed Relative Strength. Sometimes a sister trope to Risking The King.

Not to be confused with Asskicking Equals Authority, which happens when the strongest fighter is the guy in charge because he is the strongest fighter. Of course, the two can overlap.


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    Board Games 
  • The board-game Stratego exemplifies this, as applied to an army: When two pieces meet, the highest-ranking piece wins. The Field-Marshal is basically unstoppable, unless he runs into The Spy... or steps on a mine, of course. The Field-Marshal can only be killed 3 ways: Attacking another Field-Marshal (draw, both die), DEFENDING against a spy (Spy wins - it's the only time that the spy can attack someone and NOT die), or encountering a mine (obvious). Suffice it to say, if the Field-Marshal attacks a piece, the piece it attacks WILL be removed guaranteed.
  • Both subverted and played straight in chess: The King, the most important piece on the board, is capable of little more than the pawn, but the Queen (The Woman Behind The Man, as it were) is the most powerful piece on the board. In older versions the Queen was even more useless than the King. She could only move one space and only DIAGONALLY. When they gave the Queen unlimited distance in all directions they called it "Madness Chess" because the woman was most powerful.
  • In Yaquinto's Beachhead, a single Japanese commander has four times the firepower of a 10-man squad.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The game varies with its use of the trope, usually depending on creature or organization. It's rare for the highest-ranked ruler in charge of a race or faction to be the most physically powerful, but it does happen—the three legendary Slivers, for example, are all much bigger than even the largest of the rest of the species.
    • Although whether they're physically powerful or not, most leaders do have extremely powerful abilities.
    • Let's also not forget Lord Konda is more powerful than many dragons in combat and, thanks to a stolen child deity, is indestructible.
    • The players themselves are also the ultimate authority on their side of the field and have the power to back it up. A massive assault on a player with tons of monsters can be casually dismissed by some of the most trivial spells in the game. Even Physical Gods and Eldritch Abominations can be eliminated by a variety of spells.
  • Fairy Tail: The Guild Masters and the Magic Council. Though not so much for certain council members.
    • Subverted by the Oración Seis. The leader, Brain, actually goes down pretty easy; the actual strongest member is Midnight. Or not. As of Chapter 156, the strongest member appears to be Brain's Superpowered Evil Side.

    Comic Books 
  • In superhero comic books, a surprising number of superheroes and supervillains are also heads of state. Doctor Doom, the Black Panther, Black Bolt, Namor, Lilandra, Aquaman...
  • Marvel's The Kingpin is, on the surface, a tremendously fat man with a head for crime and a mean streak wider than he is. But he's also the Leader of The Syndicate, and a Diabolical Mastermind besides, so he's got heavy-duty Charles Atlas Superpowers - enough to take out low-level heroes (and a room full of ninjas) in hand-to-hand combat; he could crush his nemesis Daredevil with his bare hands. Note that he does, in fact, work out, and some incarnations interpret his portly frame as being solid muscle.
  • In a similar vein, Lex Luthor always keeps himself in excellent physical condition, and can at least competently spar with heroes without super-strength. These days, anyway. When first introduced, and right through the Golden and Silver Ages up until he came up with his first purple-and-green combat outfit, Luthor was overweight. Similarly, in his initial post-Crisis appearances, Lex was suffering the ravages of an over-lavish lifestyle. In both cases, after having his backside repeatedly kicked (literally and figuratively) by Superman, he wised up and shaped up. It helped that he got a young, cloned body after his first one got cancer from Kryptonite exposure, which he saw as a second chance to stay in shape.
  • Captain America:
    • In one issue, Cap is sent to a German concentration camp run by an SS Colonel nicknamed "The Butcher", a man missing half his face due to an encounter with a bear when he was thirteen - an encounter which ended with him breaking the bear's neck. He even gives ol' Cap a good run for his money.
    • Interestingly, Cap himself inverts this. While he has a special ranking in the US military and is probably the strongest and most experienced soldier (to say nothing of the most skilled) in the military, he is still outranked by many military leaders. Conversely, he often takes a leadership role when teaming up with other superheroes due to his military experience and charisma, despite being at "merely" peak-human physical condition, a lightweight compared to the likes of Thor or Iron Man.
    • Played straight during the Ultimate Marvel storyline "Divided We Fall, United We Stand", in which Ultimate Captain America is made President of the United States and his first duty after being sworn is to kick everyone's asses and get the US restored, starting with Wyoming.
  • Tsar Alexander III in Assassin's Creed: The Fall manages to utterly annihilate Nikolai Orelov with very little trouble. By the way, Nikolai is a master assassin. See Real Life down below.
  • Funnily enough, inverted with The Authority. Kicking as much ass as they do (and from an inter-dimensional spaceship, no less) puts them in a position of great power, and makes the actual authorities very twitchy. Given that the team will not hesitate to snuff corrupt officials if it makes the world a better place, you can't blame them.
  • Nick Fury could kick serious ass back when he led the Howling Commandos, and he hasn't lost his touch at all now that he leads S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • Played up to an absurd degree in the backstories of the G.I. Joe comic book cast, which favorably compares each of the heroic fictional officers who'd go charging first into battle and prove their authority with asskicking to the pansy sort of military officers who'd just sit back and draw up battle plans (even if that's a far more realistic and sensible use of their skills).
  • Darkseid doesn't rule over Apokolips because of charisma, he rules because he's the strongest and most evil god on a planet brimming with powerful, evil gods. Even disregarding his Omega Beams, he has the physical strength to put down pretty much anyone who may dare rise against him. And when Darkseid's father Yuga Khan briefly returned from his imprisonment in the Source Wall, the latter quickly overthrew his son, thus upholding the trope. This is shown perfectly in the penultimate episode of Justice League Unlimited. Darkseid was killed three seasons before and Apokolips is in the middle of a Civil War for who will take his place. After getting resurrected, he returns to Apokolips in the middle of a battlefield, halting the war completely. Usually, on a planet full of starscreams and after being dead for a few years, you would think that someone would try to rebel. In this case however, Darkseid doesn't even have to say anything. He just stands there and everyone immediately bows down to him. Darkseid Is indeed.
  • Also true for Odin, father of Thor and ruler of Asgard who up until his death was always ready to show exactly why he held that position whenever a challenge arose that his son could not defeat.
  • In the generally disappointing, plot hole-ridden Nightcat, heiress/drug lord/real estate tycoon Amanda Gideon turns out to be a better fighter than four ninjas (whom the heroine beats without breaking a sweat) or her bodyguard, Mr. Krak. Also, she fights in what appears to be her underwear for some reason.
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark runs a multi-billion dollar company, and personally snuffs out bad guys with his suit.
  • In the Planet Hulk story arc, the planet Sakaar is ruled by The Red King, considered the strongest being on the planet due to his use of Power Armor. He's eventually deposed and replaced by the Hulk.
  • In Throne Of Atlantis, Ocean Master is the king of Atlantis and is a force to be reckoned with. Having equipment that allows him to control the seas and the storms also helps. Aquaman becomes king when he fights his brother until he yields.
  • Justified in Nova, where being higher-ranked in the Nova Corps means one has access to more of the Nova Force's power.

    Fan Works 
  • A very common trope in the roleplay game In The Beginning There Was Man involving the God Emperor of Mankind and His Primarchs.
  • In The Three Kings: Hunt the Three Kings were the most powerful mages of their era and were also the rulers of Egypt. In the current era it's hinted that not only are they very powerful to the point of stopping the genocide against the mages but that eventually they're going to be in charge of the mages.
  • In Prison Island Break Vector is at the top of a criminal empire and he's just as dangerous if not more so as his subordinates. Justified because he had to climb his way to the top, he wouldn't be in that position if he wasn't Badass.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • There's Celestia and Luna, as always, who in this setting are Physical Goddesses with tremendous power. However, we find out they're only two out of a large group of Alicorns (though they're the only ones who rule ponies directly) and later meet their Big Goods, Their Parents, the Father of All Alicorns and Fauna Luster, who are described as being so powerful that they're not even capable of manifesting directly in the mortal plain (though they can use Avatars). Discord also turns out to be one of a group of Draconequi (though he's the only one who's actually evil and the strongest) who answer to their own Elders, Havoc and Entropy, who are on the same level as the Alicorn Elders. Havoc himself entered a war between the two groups using an Avatar with only a faction of his power, that was still far stronger than Discord is!
    • There's also Queen Tiamat, the ruler of the Dragons and what seems to be their patron Goddess. When the Dragons were considering quitting the Dragon-Hooviet War due to taking too many losses, Tiamat herself stepped in and Curbstomped the entire Hooviet army, leaving half the country burning ruin and willingly stopping just short of burning their capital to the ground. It should be noted that she did this because she considers all Dragonkind her treasure and was supremely ticked off at what the Hooviets had done.
    • Shining Armor qualifies, being a very powerful when it comes to his shield magic (though he's a horrible shot). Same can be said for Master Chief Spartan (the leader of the Air Naval Calvary of Cadence's guard), who went on a Foe-Tossing Charge during a fight with the Hooviets.
    • General-Admiral Makarov, the Supreme Marshal of the Imperial Armed Forces for the Hooviets and second in command of the Hooviet Empire (officially, in actually his superiors are pretty much Puppet Kings to him). He's also a Super Soldier with tremendous magical power and nearly beat Shining to death during their first fight. Justified, as he's actually Equineoid Abomination the Hooviets accidentally let loose from Pandora's Box.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World As Myth, every committee chair, captain, and vice-captain introduced is able to hold their own in a fight. Justified for the athletic club leaders. Less so for everyone else.
  • Played with to an extent in the crossover story, The Bridge. On the Equestria side, the ruling alicorns (particularly Luna and Celestia); are a good deal stronger than a vast majority of their world's inhabitants and leagues ahead of most ponies. On the kaiju side however it's a bit more debatable. Leader of the more benign kaiju and titled King of the Monsters by humans, the grown up Godzilla Junior is certainly a powerhouse. However, some in his faction do exceed him in a few categories (i.e. Mothra has better ranged attacks and Anguirus is more durable), but he's a better all around fighter and probably is the strongest in their ranks.
  • The trope is subverted in supercrossover military fanfiction series, The Terminators: Army of Legend, as President Barry Mabao, the driving voice behind the Maxia Regime and the Second American Civil War, was brought down in seconds compared to his generals, supersoldiers General "Necro", General Mason, and the "Shade King".
  • In the Kim Possible fanfic Osama's Last Stand, Osama bin Laden can stab Kim Possible in the stomach in the middle of her monologue.
  • Used in the Sonic fanfiction The Mobius Chronicles. The higher in rank Amadeus gets the more ass kicking he does, also the Overlander second in command is one of their most talented fighters.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mulan: Shan Yu and his council are the only Huns Badass enough to come popping out of the snow! Like daisies! During the climactic fight, Shan Yu does things like chopping through columns and bursting through roofs.
  • Skipper, the penguin leader in Madagascar, pulls off some of their most crazy stunts himself.
  • Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas is King of the Pumpkin Patch, and thus more than a match for Oogy Boogy, even in the seat of his trap-infested powerbase.
  • Epic:
    • Ronin is the queen's highest-ranked soldier, and the most powerful Leafman in the movie.
    • Mandrake is the leader of the Boggans, and also the most powerful.
  • Strange Magic: Marianne is the heir to the throne and the best warrior of the fairy Kingdom. The Bog King rules the goblins and is their best fighter.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Bridge Too Far includes a scene in which Robert Redford participates in a dangerous river crossing. Even though he is a Major, he does a great deal of the asskicking personally. In later interviews, Redford would point out that his character would have been directing the maneuver, and would have only actually fired his weapon in an emergency.
  • In Equilibrium, Brandt fails to live up to his Badass Longcoat despite fighting Preston to a standstill in an earlier training match. By contrast, Vice-Counsel DuPont, the real leader of Libria, is a bureaucrat who seems harmless without his complement of bodyguards... but actually has Gun Kata skills almost on par with Preston himself and the ensuing final duel lasts longer than most of Preston's skirmishes with the Faceless Goons. Then again, there was foreshadowing in that DuPont is earlier glimpsed teaching a class of gun-kata students.
  • In Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, the toughest opponent Riki fights in the prison is the warden because as everyone knows "The warden of any prison has to be the very best in kung-fu".
  • In the Ultraviolet film, also directed by Kurt Wimmer, the government's leader Vice-Cardinal Ferdinand Daxus is the hero's most physically dangerous adversary. Justified or handwaved by the fact that he was one of the original lab technicians researching and infected by the hemophage virus and used the abilities it granted him to aid his rise to power.
  • The movie Air Force One, justified or handwaved by the fact that the President was a member of the military with an exceptional record. Being played by Harrison Ford doesn't hurt, either.
  • Star Wars:
    • Yoda in Attack of the Clones and any of his appearances that chronologically take place after that. There's a reason why he is called the Master. Mace Windu too, to a lesser extent.
    • Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi. After being a Non-Action Big Bad in the first two prequel films, he battles Mace Windu and Yoda in two different lightsaber duels as such a formidable opponent that by the latter film, Yoda explicitly warns Luke to not underestimate him.
  • Apparently being Secretary of Defense in the live-action Transformers movie provided enough Badass to try blowing away an alien robot with a shotgun.
  • In Big Game, the chief of Moore's security detail, Morris, is expert shot, tracker and fighter.
  • In Sha Po Lang, the Triad boss Wong Po turns out to be even faster and tougher than The Dragon, his personal assassin Jack. Not only can he throw down with the main character, who can literally punch people stupid, and take him and two of his partners at the same time, but he can survive getting over-the-head body-slammed into a giant tower of beer bottles and drinking glasses and then stand up a minute later to throw the hero out the window. Of course, the guy's played by Sammo Hung, who is known for his kick-ass action roles in the Hong Kong scene.
  • Played for laughs in Idiocracy. The President of the USA is a hulking pro-wrestler with a fondness for automatic weapons.
  • Seen in the finale of xXx: State of the Union, where after easily subduing in hand-to-hand combat a few dozen marines, a couple squads of Elite Mooks, and a The Dragon Navy SEAL, the hero finds himself being outmatched by the 60-year-old Secretary of Defense.
  • In Men In Black II, MiB leader Zed, despite being a 70-year-old administrator, nevertheless manages to deliver a rapid series of improbable flying kicks to the face of the main villain.
  • Subverted in the climax of the film Wanted. Although Sloan is briefly shown to have the same superpowers as the other master assassins, he's too smart to actually confront the hero directly in a fair fight (the hero, for his part, is also too smart to fight fair).
  • In Curse of the Golden Flower, the Emperor > you. Both in kung fu and magnificent bastardry.
  • In Batman Begins, Batman utterly owns everyone he fights pretty much instantly, including (leading up to the final fight) 4 ninjas in full body armor who presumably have the same training and skills as he does. However, Ra's al-Ghul, the leader of the League of Shadows and Batman's Broken Pedestal mentor, is able to match Batman blow-for-blow and ultimately "wins" the fight, despite Batman wearing a high-tech suit of hardened combat armor, and Ra's wearing what's essentially very nice formal wear.
  • Quantum of Solace:
    • The film ends with James Bond and Dominic Greene battling on a collapsing catwalk inside an exploding building which is also on fire. Greene doesn't exactly do well, but he puts up a much longer and involving fight than you'd expect a 5-foot tall, physically unimpressive corporate suit to do so against the world's most famous British murder machine, especially considering how Bond dispatches mean-looking, highly-trained professional killers much more quickly on several occasions earlier in the film.
  • General Miura from Ip Man throws down with three guys in his first appearance and takes them down without much fuss. Ultimately he is the only one who actually manages to land real hits on our hero.
  • In Scanners, Revok is not only the leader of the evil scanner underground, but also one of the two most powerful scanners in the world — which is, of course, how he started the underground in the first place.
  • At the climax of Cliffhanger, effete villain John Lithgow (!) proves to be a match for musclebound Sly Stallone.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • In addition to the times the source material uses this trope, the fight with the Uruk-hai at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring shows the Fellowship effortlessly mowing down the Uruks, until the orc chief Lurtz shows up. Lurtz fatally wounds Boromir with his arrows, and he's only defeated after a drawn out, one-on-one fight with Aragorn, King of Gondor. Of course, Lurtz also had the Inverse Ninja Law on his side.
    • Legolas is an elven prince. He also quite memorably brings down an Oliphaunt singlehandedly.
  • Played painfully straight in Red Sonja. Nowhere in the preceding scenes did the Evil Queen show any kind of martial skill, but when she and Sonja face off, it's a battle royale, apparently just because the film needed a cathartic climactic final fight.
  • In Fist of Legend, the Japanese general is an incredibly powerful martial artist.
  • In Avatar Colonel Quaritch has his dropship severely damaged when Jake Sully throws a missile into a turbine. Despite this, and having his shoulder on fire, he climbs into a mech as the dropship spirals out of control, pats out the flames, and jumps out of the dropship to land safely as it crashes in a hulking flaming mass behind him. Half of this he does while holding his breath. Earlier in the film, he kicks open a door without an oxygen mask and unloads an assault rifle and a pistol into an escaping gunship. And finally, in the final battle he fights hand-to-hand (albeit in a mech) with two Na'Vi and one palulukan, and again a portion of this is done holding his breath.
  • Frank D'Amico in the climax of Kick-Ass, as foreshadowed by earlier scenes of him practicing martial arts, although he also has a couple of factors tipping the balance in his favor, such as the fact that he's, you know, fighting a ten-year-old girl. Hit Girl previously mows down his Mooks by the dozen in a firefight, but she runs out of ammo by the time she faces D'Amico and is forced to resort to kung-fu fighting him, getting completely thrashed in the ensuing fight.
  • The main villain is the only one in The Transporter to test the hero in a one-on-one fight. And he's even nicknamed "Wall Street", making it seem like he's just a corporate suit. So, for the final fight, both fight without their suits.
  • In Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole, Metalbeak and Nyra are able to hold their own in battle, and will fight alongside their armies.
  • The Emperor from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was a prodigy in every skill, surpassing all his teachers in elemental magic, martial arts, military strategy and pretty much everything else. How he lost to Brendan Frasier and co is a mystery.
  • In the 1989 film of Henry V, as in the original play, King Henry leads his men into battle at Harfleur and Agincourt. In the film, Henry is shown at Agincourt kicking all kinds of French ass.
  • The Three Musketeers (2011) briefly shows Cardinal Richelieu sparring with three Mooks at once. Possibly partly Real Life, since he received a military training before becoming a priest, and was still known as a good rider and fencer twenty years later.
  • Resident Evil film series places badass Albert Wesker as the chairman of Umbrella Corp, thus implying that he was given his superhuman abilities at his own order.
  • In Polanski's adaptation of Macbeth the eponymous character just destroys a bunch of mooks trying to kill him.
  • The Avengers:
    • Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., jumps out of an out-of-control helicopter and shoots down a plane carrying a nuclear warhead with an unguided anti-vehicle rocket, among other things. His subordinates are not nearly as impressive, with some exceptions of course.
    • Likewise, when Captain America orders police officers to get people to safety and set up a perimeter, they initially question why they should be taking orders from him... until he quickly disposes of some attackers right in front of them.
  • General Hawk from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3 is the most dangerous foe to the title character, despite the fact that most of his Mooks are veteran soldiers who have been enhanced by the Extremis Super Serum, while he himself was a cripple until recently. Despite this, he survives what some of his Mooks don't. He can also breathe fire.
  • The French General Delatombe in The Brothers Grimm spends most of the film sitting around. However, when necessary, he shows that he handles a sword very well for an old man and nearly dispatches one of the brothers. His aide-de-camp is also pretty good, despite not looking it.
  • In The Wolverine, Shingen is by far the best swordsman out of the entire Yashida Clan, with the possible exception of his father.

  • This is a constant in the Lone Wolf books. The highest-ranking officer in any group will have the strongest combat stats. Each of the heads of state Lone Wolf eventually has to confront (Zakhan Kimah, Baron Shinzar, High Warlord Magnaarn, Archdruid Cadak...) is certain to be either a Mid Boss or Final Boss (and likely That One Boss too). And the Darklords are among the toughest customers around, of course.
  • Starship Traveller, an interactive novel in the Fighting Fantasy series, has this. When in combat, non-security personnel have a penalty to their skill rating. The exception is you, the ship's captain. "Your own fighting skills are equal to your professional skills, as befits a true hero."

    Myths & Religion 
  • Many of the kings and rulers in Greek Mythology were themselves formidable warriors. One of the most famous examples is The Iliad, where Idomeneus, Menelaus, Ajax, Diomedes, Agamemnon, Achilles, Patroclus, Odysseus, Philoctetes, Hector, in short almost all the major warriors are kings or princes of some sort.
  • Zeus, king of the gods, is the most powerful of the Olympians. (It seemed to run in the family too; his father Chronos was the most powerful of the Titans, and their leader. Not to mention that most - well, pretty much all - of his sons were no slouches.)

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Paul Boesch yelled at the Mongolian Stomper's manager, JJ Dillon, for wrestling competitive matches, insisting that should not be the role of a manager. Dave Meltzer has also criticized managers RD Evans and Prince Nana for going over board at ROH Final Battle 2012. On the other hand, popular authority figures kicking ass often does go over well with crowds, such as whenever Carlos or Stacy Colon return to the ring to put upstart WWC wrestlers in their place.[

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius:
    • The webcomic is a rare example of this rule being used by mad scientists. Most of the Sparks that have appeared in the comic so far have proven to be quite competent fighters - part of this may be justified by them often having a Death Ray or two in their pockets, but even in unarmed close combat, several Sparks have demonstrated high levels of skill. Gilgamesh Wulfenbach demonstrated an ability to smack a BIG Jäger around while injured (but flipped out). Baron Wulfenbach has also had action hero-level fighting skills, but that may be attributed to his past adventuring with the Heterodyne Boys. The Heterodyne Boys themselves may also, technically, be said to use this, seeing as they were the hereditary rulers of Mechanicsburg. Agatha "doesn't fence", but she's quite the slugger with a 3/17 Occipital Left-Leaning Heterodyne Wrench. Or any heavy wrench, for that matter.
    • Justified in that the magical intelligence boost that allows the sparks to create military wonders and various supersoldiers also increasingly makes them impatient and crazy enough to install said wonders and perform said experiments on themselves or their loved-ones. It is at one point suggested that should Gil prove faulty (i.e. less than perfect in every way) his father will simply take him apart and try again, and no one seems to find this particularly implausible. Baron Wulfenbach has visibly performed various surgeries on himself and augmented himself to the size of a small tank. The heterodynes casually drink from a spring that, in a very dilute and weakened form, turns ordinary soldiers into near-invicible superstrong jagermonsters.
    • Additionally, the paranoia the spark brings isn't really unjustified, as few sparks actually survive to adulthood due to the usual torch-bearing mobs and the danger of their own creations. Even a spark in the rational state is liable to see some advantage to augmenting themselves being the toughest thing in the immediate vicinity at all times. If not for the law that dying causes one to lose one's properties, most of Europa's rulers would probably be undead abominations by now.
    • There's also the strong implication that the Baron experimented on himself to keep going in his adventures (much like Othar), and there's the possibility that Gil inherited some of those... improvements.
    • Don't forget the Jager generals. On the Castle Wulfenbach one take a crashing plane head-on. When they fight, even the lesser Jagers don't want to be around. Later Oggie thought that being "detatched" is a sufficient reason to disobey Mamma Gkika — see the result on the next page. Presumably, you get to be a Jager general by being tougher than any other Jager around you.
    • And then they get to the actual fighting...
    • Opinion is divided as to how much of Tarvek's "spoiled aristocrat" image was Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Raizel from Noblesse, who is the True Noblesse, the leader of all nobles. He won EVERY FIGHT he got into, which all ended in a Curb-Stomp Battle. This is later downplayed; While Noblesse is an important title, it is not for the leader of the nobles; nevertheless, the actual leader, titled the Lord, is nothing to sneeze at either. And the Lord's seconds-in-command, titled the Clan Leaders, are also much stronger than normal nobles. Their enemies, the Union, also follow the same hierarchy, with the leading Union Elders being scarily powerful. Made worse by the fact that one of those Elders is actually a Clan Leader who defected.
  • Tower of God: The Rankers are ranked solely on their performance while they climbed the Tower. Which is kind of a big deal. Rankers move on to become agents, bureaucrats and test administrators, positions of great authority. So yeah, being a test administrator equals major asskicking abilities.
  • Schlock Mercenary has almost everyone using various forms of Super Soldier "boosts", but there are some clear examples:
    • Captain Tagon is no slouch: a trained, experienced, and highly skilled soldier, he isn't someone you'd want to cross. Still, in a fair fight, he'd probably be creamed by any number of his enlisted beings. Good thing he cheats.
    • Kevyn, the second in command, isn't all that tough physically; but between the antimatter-bomb epaulets and just being the Mad Scientist, everybody reacts like he could kick their asses. Also, he and his sister are good enough at it to surprise the unarmed combat instructor.
    • The trope is used even further when Xinchub, a fat general who is mostly into politics, manhandles a bounty hunter. He explains that he has "boosted" (meaning enhanced in various ways) more than she has, probably because he has the political clout to get away with it.
  • In Erfworld the higher level your chief warlord is, the higher a bonus your troops get. This means that chief warlords are almost always the most powerful speaking unit around, Which makes people wonder why Parson ever becomes chief warlord
  • In Sluggy Freelance, being promoted to aristocracy makes a normal demon at least larger and much more powerful, and becoming a Demon Lord grants Nigh-Invulnerability and a fiery Battle Aura as well as, apparently, Super Strength.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Subverted when Roy mistakenly assumes that Lord Shojo is a high-level paladin when he is, in fact, a non-combatant aristocrat.
    • Later played stright with his nephew, Hinjo, who is a very capable paladin and becomes the leader of the Sapphire Guard and exiled Azurites after Shojo's death. And then Hinjo goes on to somewhat subvert it later in the story. While he's focused on trying to keep the survivors of the Azure City battle together, looking for a place to settle them, and dealing with treacherous aristocrats, some of his fellow paladins are fighting against villains and other hazards and continually getting stronger. Eventually Hinjo admits that he's fallen well behind them in level, and when a few paladins are needed for a task vital to saving the world, he opts to remain behind, leaving the job to his more powerful subordinates while he concentrates on keeping his people afloat. He still kicks ass, just not as much as some of the people below him.
  • It's demonstrated in The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon. Who knew Principals had so much power? It's implied that the General is also powerful, but we have yet to see him in action.
  • Played with in Errant Story. The most skilled members of the Ensigerum, a group of warrior/monk/time-mages, are generally the highest level initiates and newly raised monks as the older members lack recent combat experience and have grown too dependent on magic. The trope is played straight for their leader, Imperatrix Anita, who is without a doubt the deadliest member of the order.
  • MSF High: Any teacher at MSF High has this. Any Legion Queen has this, with access to all ten Legion 'facets'. Principal Kasumi? Don't even ask. Keiri is not to be messed with as well.
  • Justified in Homestuck, as Sburb is effectively a video game and thus needs to provide some bosses for its players to defeat. The Kings and Queens of Derse and Prospit aren't very strong on their own, but they are all provided with items (rings for the Queens, scepters for the Kings) that provide power boosts which elevate them far above the rank-and-file. Like many things in the medium, these power boosts are tied to the prototyping of the player's Kernelsprites. The Black King of the Troll's session was prototyped a whopping twelve times and proved an absolute monstrosity to defeat.
  • Mr. Verres of El Goonish Shive has shown his offensive magical abilities and is relatively high up in the local paranormal division of the FBI. Assistant Director Liefeld, his boss, is an extremely beefy man which means he probably has significant physical fighting prowess even if he is not a magic user.
  • Zokusho Comics: If Clash is anything to go by, Master Byron is quite capable of opening up a rather large can, despite his age.
  • Royce from Heart Core fits this trope, considering how he almost killed the protagonist of the story without using his full powers. Being the king of demons and fiends does help, though.
  • Played straight in TwoKinds, by the Basitin people. On one side we have a new General, who fought and bested every challenger for the right to take the position. On the other side we have the King, who was presumed fatally injured and has been noted as incredibly ill for months. When she asks him if he wishes to challenge her decision he pales and backs down.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: U8 King Cold, who is inexplicably far more powerful than Cold as depicted in the original manga, is the strongest fighter in his universe.
  • Magical Rulers in Roommates tend to be quite formidable thanks to several things. Powerful linage, You Kill It, You Bought It and because they personify their subjects hopes/dreams/fears.
  • Everyone in the Galactic Union, the government of pretty much the whole universe in Luminary Children, seems to be very strong, and very cruel.

    Web Original 
  • Destroy The Godmodder: Because the Godmodder is one of the highest-leveled godmodders on the Internet, he is insanely powerful.
  • Used in Survival of the Fittest. The leaders of the terrorist organization are Danya, and a group of four terrorists directly under his command appropriately referred to as "The Big Four", two of whom are Danya's bodyguards when they're not doing other things. The Big Four play this straight in that they're all elite soldiers, one of them having been a successful professional boxer between leaving the military and joining Danya's organisation, and Badass Bookworm Jim Greynolds is the only one of them who isn't more or less a master of hand to hand combat. Also used with the group SADD, whose leader Neil Sinclair is probably the best fighter of the bunch (he certainly lived the longest)
  • Open Blue's Back Story had the Caesars of the Iormunean Imperium, who had access to an elixer that boosted their lifespan, physical abilities, and Healing Factor, making them fearsome warriors in battle. Second to them was the High Executor, leader of the Praetorian Guard, who was armed with an ancestral sword that could double as a Wave Motion Gun.
  • He's Barack Obama.
  • Xandus, the most powerful villain in the Avatar Adventures universe, doubles as the Prime Minister of Canada.
  • It is revealed in Kickassia that Kevin Baugh could teleport and use a sword.
  • In the Armageddon web-novels, this is how both Hell and Heaven operate - rank and power are equal, with Satan and Yahweh being on the top of the heap. When Michael managed to kill Yahweh with the assistance of his conspiracy, he not only increased in power, he gained the ability to confer power on other angels.
  • Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East.
  • Lord Opticord in Sockbaby.
  • In The Gungan Council, it's either played straight or inverted with Masters and Elites. They are regarded as the strongest characters and usually have or are granted many prestigious titles and responsibilities. Can be subverted or even averted for Padawans, Apprentices, and Trainees that roleplay have a high title.
  • Entry #23 in the Cracked photoshop contest "Rejected Final Bosses from Famous Video Games" proposes Chalres Darwin, author of the theory of evolution, as a possible final boss for the Pokémon franchise (which deals with "evolution" as a major game mechanic).
  • Worm features Lung, leader of the Azn Bad Boys, whose power amounts to turning into a dragon, compared to minions' powers of teleporting and making bombs. This is commonly averted throughout the rest of the novel; the most powerful members of the Slaughterhouse Nine and Cauldron (Siberian and Contessa, respectively) are The Dragon rather than the Big Bad.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The show uses this with Fire Lord Ozai, and King Bumi (and to a lesser extent, Azula and Zuko). The Earth King on the other hand couldn't fight at all, and was being controlled by his Evil Chancellor since he was four (though apparently Earth King authority used to equal asskicking). The warden of "The Boiling Rock" was a bit of a pushover as well, but at least had the attitude.
    • Nearly all of the main characters qualify. While not a really a major authority at the time of show (being gone for a century while people were suffering does not help to endear) the Avatar is considered a sort of King of World and past ones always seemed able to boss around the other rulers a lot. Sokka and Katara are more or less royalty by virtue of being children of the Southern Water Tribe Chief (even though poverty makes them little better than peasants) while Toph is a definitely noble ranked high up in the Earth Kingdom pecking order. Iroh, Pakku, Jeong-Jeong and even Piandao are also either royalty, nobles, generals or aristocrats. Even Suki, essentially the only member of Team Avatar who can't be construed as anything other than a lowly peasant, is still the commander of her island's warriors by virtue of being an asskicker.
    • And dare we even mention Toph's daughter? Lin Beifong, chief of police in Republic City, after all of her other metalbending cops are knocked unconcious, still goes after Amon anyways, through use of her metalbending. The only person to aid her was Korra herself — and she saved Korra on multiple occasions throughout the fight.
    • Amon himself. The leader of the Equalists and the most skilled of them all. Although this is thrown into doubt when we learn his physical fighting prowess is rooted in his bloodbending: he can 'read' people's muscle movements and use slight tugs of bloodbending to throw enemies off their game.
    • Councilmen Tarrlok and Tenzin also count, although the rest of the council, reflecting the demilitarized state of their world, aren't shown to possess any real fighting skill.
    • Chief Unalaq of the Northern Water Tribe is an incredibly strong waterbender, and a master of of an arcane skill that lets him corrupt or purify spirits.
    • Come Book 4, Kuvira cements herself as a One-Man Army in her first scene, curb stomping two dozen bandits, before declaring herself The Emperor of the Earth Kingdom two episodes later.
  • On The Oblongs, the mayor is a professional wrestler in a luchador mask who is always introduced as Johnny "the Mayor" Bledsoe. He doesn't appear to be able to do any actual fighting—the one time he tried, he reflexively started faking his hits.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, the Mayor is usually content to let the Girls be the heroes. However, in one episode, when Fuzzy Lumpkin took over as mayor, and then had the nerve to take his hat, he became so angry that he wrestled Fuzzy to get his job back - and won.
  • Transformers:
    • True for both sides. Since promotions for the Decepticons seem to be either through murder or treachery, Megatron tends to be one of the most powerful, charismatic and strategic guys around. The same goes for Optimus Prime (and Ultra Magnus in Transformers Animated), although with him it's more that they made him leader because he's the best.
    • In the animated movie, Hot Rod gets upgraded from a racecar to a futuristic truck when he was promoted to Rodimus Prime by the Matrix. He got about half again as tall, and upgraded from "pathetic" to "successor of Optimus Prime."
    • Optimus Prime himself was a small pickup truck type thing when he was Orion Pax, and was rebuilt into the bigger, tougher Optimus Prime. The nice thing about being robots is that you can get an upgrade upon promotion to fit this trope much more easily than with us fleshlings.
    • The one time this trope was not used in Transformers was a brief period in the 1980's comic series in which the Decepticons were led by Ratbat. Yes, a small purple cassette that turned into a talking bat. He scored the leadership through his popularity and attempted to run the Decepticons with more businesslike efficiency. The comics played it straight aside from that, with leadership landing in the hands of Shockwave, Scorponok, Thunderwing, Bludgeon, and back to Megatron thanks to the superior ass-kicking power of each. The Autobots got into the act, with powerhouses like Grimlock and Blaster trying to take over the Autobots whenever Optimus was absent.
    • This seems to be part of the Predacon culture in Beast Wars - Megatron leads by fear and intimidation as much as loyalty. When Dinobot first defects to the Maximals, he first tries to do it by challenging Optimus' leadership by force. BlackArachnia, Terrorsaur, and Tarantalus attempt coups frequently. Megatron's stated policy is that he tolerates treachery but not incompetence.
    • This seems to be a part of Transformer culture in general. Optimus Primal was fully capable of kicking the crap out of his underlings. Pretty much any given Transformer leader stands head and shoulders above most of his troops, sometimes literally.
    • Rhinox is no slouch either. He's smart, devious, and strong. He simply lacks ambition and is content to follow Optimus. When he is infected by a Predacon-made virus that turns him into a Predacon, he also gains ambition and, in a short order, nearly takes over Predacon leadership. In Beast Machines, when he becomes Tankor, Rhinox nearly causes both Megatron and Optimus to kill each other, while he picks up the pieces.
  • In Kim Possible, Dr. Director from Global Justice and Gemini from WEE are the big cheese and the best fighters of their respective organizations. And they're twins.
  • In Winx Club, Faragonda and Griffin are the headmistressess of Alfea and Cloud Tower, respectively. Both are incredibly powerful sorceresses who can fight if the need arises.
  • A memorable episode of The Penguins of Madagascar pits the Skipper and his crew against a horde of sewer rats in an attempt to retrieve Julien's crown. The rats say they'll hand it over, on the condition that the Skipper fight their leader. Skipper laughs and says he'll try to go easy on the mousy little guy... who's revealed to be in fact a massive mutated lab rat who resembled M. Bison. Cue the stunned looks of Oh Crap!! on the penguins faces.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door
    • Numbuh 362, the Supreme Leader of the Kids Next Door organization, was a top stealth agent before she took command, and she can still kick a very respectable amount of ass when the need arises. This was memorably demonstrated in the episode "Operation: I.T." where she ate her way through a wall of broccoli to take on Father and made him break down in tears by threatening to force-feed him the dreaded vegetable. Also, in Operation: Z.E.R.O. she held her own against a senior-citizombified Numbuh 60. And, just to underline the trope, she is eventually succeeded as Supreme Leader by Numbuh Five.
  • Jerry in Totally Spies! was easily able to defeat Clover, Alex, and Sam when they were turned evil by the enemy. And in an episode previous to that one, he was able to beat another villain senseless, causing Clover — the only witness, who had been turned into an unwilling pawn by said villain — to comment that even she was surprised at how good he was. (As Jerry himself told the guy, "There are a lot of things my girls don't know about me.")
  • M.O.M. in Martin Mystery is extremely acrobatic and good with weapons and gadgets. She was able to pummel a vicious spider monster on one occasion with her bare hands.
  • Charles Foster Offdensen from Metalocalypse. Excelling in hand-to-hand combat is a must when you're the manager of the most popular band (and twelfth largest economy) in the world.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Starfire and Blackfire are both royalty, and while superstrength seems universal for Tamaranians (or at least those we see in the palace), the two princessess are apparently the only of their species that can fly and shot energy blasts. (The trope likely applies to all Tamaranian monarchs anyway; seeing as it seems to be legal to assume the throne by defeating the monarch in a fight, one who couldn't fight well probably wouldn't last long.)
    • Lord Trogar of the Gordanians in the episode "Go" was able to simultaneously beat Cyborg, Robin, and Starfire in a fight on his battleship. He was also able to take an energy blast from Raven which knocked out his ship and immobilized his guards without flinching. Makes one wonder why he needed guards in the first place...
  • Played for laughs in an episode of My Gym Partner's A Monkey, when Adam convinces Mr. Hornbill, a lovelorn rhinoceros teacher, to challenge Principal Pixiefrog (who is, well, a pixie frog) to a ring fight to prove his masculinity. It turns out this trope is in full effect as Principal Pixiefrog proceeds to wipe the floor with Mr. Hornbill while shouting "who's your principal, Cyrus?!? I said, who's your principal?!?"
    Adam: What just happened?!?
    Jake: A 2-ton rhino just got his butt handed to him by a 6-ounce frog! Where were you for the past 30 seconds?
  • Super President.
  • In ThunderCats (2011) this holds true with Thundera's King Claudus and his two best generals Panthro and Grune, all of whom sport Heroic Builds and illustrate the ability to mow down multiple foes in one blow, and in Grune's case, defeat a monster many times his own size.
  • The original ThunderCats also qualify as to be recognized as a their full-fledged leader, Lion-O faces a series of trials against his comrades and then is sent to kick Mumm-ra's ass by himself.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, pretty much all the leaders seem to be powerful magic users, with Princess Celestia stepping up with laser beams and horn strikes, Princess Luna powerful enough to threaten Equestria with her Super-Powered Evil Side and Queen Chrysalis proving far more powerful than any of the mooks under her command. The Diamond Dog leaders also proved much more competent than their underlings in a fight. Subverted in Princess Cadance who has never been shown to be particularly powerful in combat, though she manages to be badass in other ways. Later on the series has Princess Twilight Sparkle (already a gifted unicorn) who gains the "authority" part when she is crowned the fourth alicorn princess, and still continues to be one of the most capable fighters in the series.

    Real Life 
  • In ages past it was common for generals to actually lead their troops into battle, but this was really to better direct the troops in an age before radio. The death of a general in battle often ensured his army's defeat, so this tradition was abandoned as soon as distance command became practical.
  • In feudal societies, the upper classes had more access to military training and equipment, as well as better diets, so you could expect that the lord could wipe the floor with his peasants.
  • Among the lower ranks of real military forces, however, this is most certainly Truth in Television. A Corporal or Sergeant Major (etc.) will only hold the rank they do because they climbed the rank ladder from the very bottom upward and will have gained valuable combat experience along the way, but are not yet too old to dish out a good asskicking.
  • Part of a senior non-commissioned officer's job is to mentor junior officers. The officers do outrank NCOs, but are expected to defer to the knowledge and experience of their senior NCO subordinates. The corollary being that NCOs must never in any way be perceived as diminishing or being dismissive of the officers' command authority.
  • As historically nobility equaled warrior class, worth as a vassal was earned in warfare, and commonplace wars and duels let the stronger take over the weaker. So in the Early Middle Ages, higher nobility had to be highly skilled in combat to stay such, through Asskicking Equals Authority effect. The expense of quality equipment helped that end as well. Later relative peace and hereditary nobility ended this.
  • Tsar Alexander III was a truly massive man, nearly two meters tall and possessing great physical strength. He was rough and, though his reign was relatively peaceful, was known to train extensively for combat. When his train crashed, he actually held up the roof so his family could escape. This puts the Assassin's Creed example under Comic Books in perspective.
  • During the Russo-Japanese War, rear admiral Rozhestvensky: chief of staff of the Russian Navy (basically the third highest job in the whole Navy, second only to the director of the Department of the of Navy (counterpart of Defense Secretary in US terms, only dedicated to the Navy and not the armed forces in general) and the General Admiral (a rank reserved for members of the House of Romanov) for the first half of the war and commander of the Second Pacific Squadron when the Tzar decided to send ships of the Baltic Fleet to reinforce Port Arthur, was a powerful man who would punch out any undisciplined sailor unlucky enough to be noticed by him. From the same conflict, Heihachiro Togo: commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the one who defeated the best admirals of Russia, Rozhestvensky included, was a trained samurai and a skilled swordman before the Meiji Restauration and him becoming a sailor.
  • Subverted in the case of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. While they did serve in World War I, their state's Propaganda Machine made them into much more than they really were. Hitler did get two Iron Crosses, but that probably had more to do with his near-constant proximity to the Regimental HQ (plus, as a message runner, his decorations would be more for surviving extremely hazardous situations than for kicking ass during them). He also turned down a promotion, probably to avoid more responsibility. Mussolini's war record, on the other hand, is almost completely unremarkable.
  • Vladimir Putin is proficient in several different martial arts and has been practicing them since childhood.
  • In the 1800s, there was a Mexican politician by the name of Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, better known as Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico and "Napoleon of the West". A popular general and leader (he was elected president for eleven nonconsecutive terms), he is most famous among Americans for the time he traveled to Texas to personally take charge of the Mexican forces working to put down a rebellion, including leading the forces that successfully besieged and retook San Antonio and The Alamo. Of course, he is also known for being captured at the Battle of San Jacinto, where he was forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco recognizing the Republic of Texas as an independent nation, which probably wouldn't have happened if he had lead from the rear. The Texian leader at San Jacinto, General Sam Houston, would would go on to be President and later Governor of Texas.