"Wolf the Quarrelsome only appears in history twice, and both times he's kicking someone's ass. (...) We don't know shit about his childhood, his girlfriend, his favorite color or what he liked to do in his spare time. When you read a history of his life, you only learn one thing - he kicked fucking asses. That's it."
To put it simply, a Badass is Rule of Cool
In more detail, Badass is an adjective used to describe a character who gets away with outright insane stunts (defusing a bomb with their teeth, conning a mob boss
, getting into a firefight with the entire army
, etc.) that would be very hard to pull off in Real Life
, or would get the person trying it killed several times over. A badass is a fantasy figure whom the audience roots for precisely because of how prone they are to awesome moments
, to the point where they may stretch or break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief
. Of course, Willing Suspension of Disbelief
may still be maintained depending on the mechanics of the universe.
It's notable that fans are more likely to tolerate a violent maniac of a "hero" than a befuddled, cowardly Classical Antihero
and attempts to parody or deconstruct this trope often give the intended target a Misaimed Fandom
— no matter how crazy the character gets (a good example being Rorschach from Watchmen).
Fans will sometimes just ignore the character's flaws and instead focus on how badass they are or use the character's badassery to trivialize these flaws. This has led to a new trope
: the Sociopathic Hero
. Writers beware: Make a character too badass and either God-Mode Sue
or Jerk Sue
will stride Out of the Inferno
of your work.
When Epic Fail
combines with an attempt at being trope In-Universe
, the result is usually a very simple way to invoke Leeroy Jenkins
and/or Too Dumb to Live
. For a child-friendly version of the badass whose badassery is somewhat diminished by the limitations of the work, see Badbutt
For a not so complete list of badasses from both fiction and history, see Badass of the Week
is not what you say to
a Stubborn Mule
- Action Dad: Dad kicks ass.
- Action Fashionista: The hero who has class out the ass, while kicking ass.
- Action Girl: She kicks ass.
- Action Hero: He kicks ass.
- Action Pet: Your pet kicks ass.
- Action Survivor: An everyday guy with no Action Hero qualities who is actually forced to be a badass.
- Adaptational Badass: Maybe they weren't so badass in the manga or the TV show, but they really started cracking skulls in the anime and movies.
- Ambadassador: They represent their hometown or home country and they plan to export a beating to those who mess with them.
- Agent Peacock: Rule of Glamorous meets Rule of Cool in a effeminate guy who kicks butt.
- Almighty Janitor: He may have the lowest rank, but he can kick more ass than his superiors.
- Asskicking Pose: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Kick enough asses and you're fit to rule.
- Awesome Aussie: The coolest thing to come from down under.
- Badass Adorable: Okay, they're cute, but don't think that they can't leave you lying in a pool of your own blood.
- Badass and Baby: They kick ass. Doesn't mean they can't go into battle and take care of an infant at the same time.
- Badass and Child Duo: Badass has a child following him around. And woe betide anyone who tries to target that kid.
- Badass Automaton: Made from metal and just as tough.
- Badass Back: When someone is so badass, they drop a foe without even turning around.
- Badass Bandolier: A utilitarian accessory worn so a badass can keep their tools of the trade handy.
- Badass Baritone: Nothing says intimidating like a deep voice.
- Badass Beard: Their facial hair is shorthand for "Don't mess with me."
- Badass Biker: Nothing says badass better than a Cool Bike.
- Badass Boast / Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Every good badass needs a cool line about how dead you're gonna be after they're done.
- Badass Bookworm: Reads the encyclopedia for fun and capable of using it to beat your face in.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Master of paper shuffling and the dreaded red tape. Capable of screwing with your life in many ways.
- Badass Bystander: They were minding their own business until your turned their world upside down. Now they're gonna make you regret that mistake.
- Badass Cape: Long flowing capes are the traditional accessory of certain breeds of badasses.
- Badass Creed: A philosophy that espouses badass as a central tenet.
- Badass Driver: Give them a vehicle and they'll do some hardcore stuff with it.
- Badass Finger Snap: A badass snaps his fingers and something cool happens.
- Badass Gay: Just because they're gay doesn't mean that they're not a bonafide badass.
- Badass Grandpa: He might have grandchildren who see him as a teddy bear, but don't think he won't make you fear him if you cross him.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: A badass needs nice clothes, don't you think?
- Badass Israeli: An Israeli who's a badass.
- Badass Longcoat: A great way to look is to wear an imposing overcoat.
- Badass Mustache: Like Badass Beard, but above the lip.
- Badass Native: When the natives are restless and scrotum-crushingly badass.
- Badass Normal: The non-powered character in a group with superpowers, but who kicks just as much ass.
- Badass on Paper: You wouldn't expect someone looking like a wimp/meek to be doing badass things, would you?
- Badass Pacifist: Does not kill, not even fight. But when the time comes, they selflessly sacrifice their lives to save others.
- Badass Preacher: He will minister to his flock and break you in half with his shepherd's crook if you think about hurting them.
- Badass Princess: She is not one to get kidnapped. Instead, she breaks kidnappers in half.
- Badass Santa: Santa kicks ass.
- Badass Teacher: Teaches students and brutally schools the fools who take them on.
- Badass Transplant: When someone becomes a badass via a prosthetic of some kind.
- Badass Unintentional: Didn't plan to be a badass.
- Badbutt: As badass as a kid-friendly show will allow.
- Bald of Awesome: A lack of hair does not diminish the badassery at all.
- Barbarian Longhair: Nothing screams badass like a guy with long, unkempt hair.
- Bears Are Bad News: An angry bear can maul your face off. Just see if he doesn't.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: When a badass beats you with your own special move.
- The Berserker: A wild and uninhibited form of badass warrior.
- Berserk Button: Piss off a badass and watch the mayhem.
- Beware the Nice Ones: They're the nicest people you'll ever meet. But if you piss them off, they won't hesitate to make you regret it.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: They don't talk much. However, they will kick your ass if you take that as a sign of weakness.
- Beware the Silly Ones: They're always goofing off. However, push the wrong button and they will destroy you, no questions asked.
- Big Badass Rig: A badass truck.
- Blood Knight: When the resident badass loves a good fight.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's loud, but you should never question his skill in kicking ass.
- Born Winner: That automatically makes you a loser.
- Brave Scot: Heroic Scottish Badass.
- Brawn Hilda: Hilda's Braids of Action alone are more Badass than puny twig-man.
- Brought Down to Badass: Had superpowers, lost them, but even afterwards, they can still kick ass.
- Bullying a Dragon: People make fun of a badass. They occasionally live to regret that decision.
- Canis Major: A dog, fox or wolf several times larger than normal, and capable of kicking several times more ass.
- The Captain: Who has the balls to run the coolest Cool Ship? (or The Squad)? This guy, of course.
- Colonel Badass: Leads their troops in being badass by being one as well.
- Commanding Coolness: Same badassery with a naval twist.
- Contralto of Danger: Deep voices make women sound Badass.
- Cool Shades: A traditional visual accessory of a badass.
- Cowardly Lion: They may be cowardly, but when the going gets tough, they'll kick your ass.
- Cowboy Cop: Badass with a badge who bends the rules to protect the society.
- Cultured Badass: Enjoys the finer things in life and beating the tar out of foes with their fancy cane.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: A badass wipes the floor with his/her opposition.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Acts like an idiot or non badass, either on purpose or not, but it's just to hide how capable they are at wreaking their opponents.
- Dare to Be Badass: When someone decides to quit being normal and be a badass instead.
- Dark Action Girl: She's evil and she kicks ass.
- Deadly Doctor: Can cause the same hideous agony they usually cure.
- Determinator: He doesn't give up. Ever.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: If you actually manage to defeat something so far above your level, you're either lucky or badass.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: How a badass dies.
- Dynamic Entry: How a badass says hello.
- Ear Notch: Badasses with big ears have the scars to prove it.
- Eldritch Abomination: This being is so vast, so hardcore and so out-there that the laws of reality bend to its will.
- Epic Battle Boredom: Mowing down waves of bad guys.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: These reptiles ruled the world once by kicking the asses of anyone who got in their way.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Because sometimes badassery is a primate family tradition.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: Let's just say there's a reason Lovecraft based his Eldritch Abominations on them.
- Eyepatch of Power: A great way for a badass to say "even with one eye, I'm still gonna kick your ass."
- Fedora of Asskicking: A great hat to wear when kicking ass.
- Fighting Irish: When the resident Badass happens to be Irish.
- The Fighting Narcissist: A badass who knows just how good looking he really is.
- Fights Like a Normal: Has superpowers, but fights like a Badass Normal.
- Four-Star Badass: Has a general's rank and a long list of wrecked faces to their name.
- Full Boar Action: This boar with big armour and big tusks is here to kick ass and chew swill. And he's all out of swill.
- Future Badass: That goofy, gawky character from the present day? In the Bad Future, that character's a hardcore badass.
- Good Is Not Soft: Much like Beware the Nice Ones, except they'll just wait for you to piss them off so they can beat you with of an inch of your life.
- Had To Be Sharp: Needed to be badass just to survive. He's already seen more action coming of age than most other people ever will.
- Handicapped Badass: Don't mistake them for a cripple or they will crush you with what limbs they still have.
- Blind Weaponmaster: Just because they're blind doesn't mean that they can't kick your ass.
- Heartbroken Badass: You murdered their lover or family. They can and will do the same to you.
- Hero Killer: When this guy gets involved, you might wanna run.
- Heroic Dog: Dogs can be badass, especially when they protect those who are important to them.
- Heroic Dolphin: You won't have to worry about sharks when these Badass Adorable sea mammals are around.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: A historical figure becomes more badass in fiction.
- I Just Want to Be Badass: When a non-badass aspires to be one.
- Imperturbable Englishman: Total and utter equanimity in the face of mortal danger - he'll finish his tea, complete The Times crossword puzzle, then hand you your rear end on a silver platter.
- Implacable Man: There's no stopping this guy from coming to you, when you happen to be his/her target.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Come on, is there anything more badass than a dragon?
- Intimidation Demonstration: For when the badass decides to show off their skills before combat.
- Iron Woobie: Their life sucks, but instead of angsting and kicking ass, they go straight to the second part.
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: A lady being badass in the most elegant clothes.
- Killer Gorilla: Don't mess with this guy; he'll rip off your arms and beat you into submission with them.
- Kung-Fu Jesus: When a Messianic Archetype decides to be badass.
- Lady of War: She is known for her grace and poise even while she's cutting you to pieces.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: That square jaw is the calling card of the one who will make you understand the meaning of the words "You'll pay for your sins."
- Large and in Charge: Size does matter.
- Large Ham: Chewing the Scenery and kicking ass are surprisingly complimentary.
- Let's Get Dangerous: From nobody to badass.
- Lightning Bruiser: Someone who excels in all corners of combat.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: When a badass walks into Hell or a reasonable alternative and leaves with a lot of kicked asses in their wake.
- Little Miss Badass: Short of stature, but not of the ability to make you die horribly for underestimating her.
- Long Dead Badass: This character was the most badass of their time.
- Minored in Asskicking: A much more subdued version of the Badass Bookworm who doesn't actively practice their badass status, but can be if need be.
- Macho Masochism: When a badass inflicts injury on hirself simply to demonstrate how hard s/he is.
- Majorly Awesome: Okay, so they're not a Colonel Badass or a Four-Star Badass. Don't mistake their relative lack of rank for a lack of asskicking.
- Major Injury Underreaction: You ripped off their arm, but they didn't even flinch.
- Mama Bear: Mess with her kids and die. Your choice.
- Master of All: So badass, s/he's badass at EVERYTHING.
- Memetic Badass: While their actual badass credentials may or may not be justified, their reputation as a badass is considered Off The Scale.
- Mighty Lumberjack: He's a lumberjack and he's badass.
- More Deadly Than The Male: She makes up for her lack of strength by being more ruthless than you and her boyfriend combined.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: And it isn't a healthy environment for weaklings.
- Nerves of Steel: Badass under pressure.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: While sharks prowl the seas, these armored reptiles fill the same niche in freshwater.
- Noble Bird Of Prey: Eagles, hawks, falcons and harriers are at the top of their food chains for a reason.
- Noble Wolf/Savage Wolves: Good or bad, the power to kick ass is a key feature for wolves.
- Nonchalant Dodge: A more badass way of saying "try harder" is to evade an attack without breaking a sweat.
- No Sell: An even more badass way of saying "try harder" than the Nonchalant Dodge is to take an attack to the gut without even the slightest hint of injury.
- Oh, Crap: A badass has that effect on bad guys.
- Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement: Badass enough to kill someone with strange implements.
- One-Handed Zweihänder / Firing One-Handed: When someone fights wielding a two-handed weapon with one hand, you know you shouldn't mess with them.
- One-Man Army: They don't need reinforcements. They are the reinforcements.
- Panthera Awesome: Cats are awesome, especially big ones.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: They may be small, but they pack quite a punch.
- Pop-Cultured Badass: They kick ass while listening to some rock music after having seen their favorite sitcom.
- Powers Do the Fighting: This guy is so badass he can defeat you with his arms folded. His powers do all the fighting for him.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Warrior cultures have been known to produce many badasses in their day and this guy is one of them.
- Ragin' Cajun: What Cajuns become when your face needs wrecking.
- Rated M for Manly: Badass taken Up to Eleven.
- Red Baron: Because every badass needs a nickname to go with the reputation.
- Reluctant Warrior: They don't want to hurt you; that doesn't mean they can't.
- Rescue Reversal: They don't need saving, they'll bail themselves out and save YOU while they're at it.
- Retired Badass: They hung up their asskicking credentials. Doesn't mean they forgot how.
- Rite of Passage: When the occasion involves proving your badassery to become a full adult.
- Rugged Scar: See that guy with the scar? Don't mess with him.
- Scarf of Asskicking: A badass scarf.
- Scary Black Man: This black guy looks like he can kick someone's ass. He can!
- Sealed Badass in a Can: When a badass of some type is temporarily put in some sort of stasis so they can later be unleashed.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: How a badass hero lets you know that you talk too much.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She is cool, calm, collected. The perfect proper lady. Don't mess with her.
- Soul Brotha: He's a black man who grooves, who sways, and kicks ass while talking slang.
- Specs of Awesome: A badass pair of glasses.
- Testosterone Poisoning: A parody of Rated M for Manly.
- Threatening Shark: When sharks appear in the water, you know you're in trouble.
- Took a Level in Badass: When a non badass or a minor badass gets better at it.
- Training from Hell/The Spartan Way: It's not exactly easy learning how to be a badass.
- Tranquil Fury: Being badass while being angry in a calm, ice-cold way.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: This creature was the apex predator of its day; just imagine what it could do now.
- Ultimate Blacksmith: This guy can turn the most useless junk into a weapon of asskicking.
- Underestimating Badassery: When a badass is underestimated by those who should know better.
- Unflinching Walk: They won't even stop to look at how much they just wrecked you.
- Waif-Fu: Petite, yes, but that doesn't stop her from kicking your ass.
- Warrior Prince: He'll lead his people to victory on the front lines.
- Wooden Ships and Iron Men: To sail aboard a Cool Boat, you have to be tougher than nails.
- Worthy Opponent: When a badass meets their equal in battle.
If an example can be placed in these previous tropes
, please put them there.
For many outstanding examples of badassness, see Moment Of Awesome
Considering almost every
hero of ancient myth was Badass Incarnate™
, this trope is Older Than Dirt
Contrast Loser Archetype
Now divided into Badass sub-pages:
Would you call that Badass? Waldorf:
No, I would call that bad, ass. Both: