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Badass and Child Duo
If you want the girl, you gotta go through him. Good luck with that.

The Badass and Child Duo in its purest form, occurs when a (usually) male badass takes it upon himself, out of goodness, interest, or circumstances beyond his control, to protect an orphaned, unrelated young (usually) girl.

The Badass and Child Duo is made up of two parts:

  • The Badass is a jaded, cynical, and very often male Anti-Hero with a Dark and Troubled Past, age anywhere between their mid-twenties to mid-forties. He will generally be a Jerkass or very serious and stoic in personality. Even if he has a more sensitive side, he will not talk about his emotions, his past or what bothers him if he can help it. He is brutally practical and Street Smart, cynical, but he will still hold the hope for a more idealistic world somewhere in his heart, even if on the surface he denies its existence. In combat he is always a veteran and he will be a One-Man Army, usually well known in-universe, often with a badass nickname to match. Easily able to mow down dozens of Mooks, one after another without too much effort, his dangerous reputation is sometimes the cause of half the problems the two face, as at least some of their opponents will be there to defeat him, rather than snatch away the child he's protecting. The Badass often sees the child as a Morality Pet, as a way to atone for the sins of his past, or as a Replacement Goldfish for a deceased child that he's lost. It's not uncommon for him to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in order to protect the child.

  • The Child is a Hero, who is very often female but may be of either gender, between toddler-age and tween-age who has been orphaned in the dangerous world these two very different people are trying to survive in. Either the child's proximity to the Badass will constantly bring her into dangerous situations, or the Child herself is valuable for some other reason and will have one or more organizations vying to attain her, usually to exploit her in some way that is immoral. It is not uncommon for the child to be supernatural or otherwise special in some way to justify this. If very young the child may not have much of an actual personality, but if a little older she will usually be The Pollyanna, with a smile on her face despite their circumstances. She will trust the Badass completely and insist upon his goodness even with complete knowledge, and sometimes even acceptance or approval, of the violence he has done to protect her. The Child will at least begin as a Non Action Kid, on the sidelines, not involved in battles at all, perhaps not even present if the badass can find a safe place to stow her for the length of it, though it's also not uncommon for them to develop powers or abilities as they remain in contact with The Badass, especially if they are older, which allows them to participate in combat. The Badass and The Child are nearly always Walking the Earth, either trying to defeat whatever organization is after The Child, to get out of whatever horrible place they are in, or to carry out some revenge.

If they are not the main characters, their meeting will have taken place off-screen before the story even started. If main characters their meeting will take place very early in the story, and their relationship will develop almost instantly into a Promotion to Parent Papa Wolf (or Mama Bear if the Badass is female) or Big Brother Instinct and an adopted child/sibling. Assuming heterogeneous genders, if the child is a little older (tween-age) the child may develop a Precocious Crush which is usually not returned (although in the future it may be).

Gender inverted versions and same-gendered version occur, but the pure version is the most common. This is probably because of their effectiveness at being foils of one another. Females are generally expected to be physically weaker and "purer" then men, and as a youth or child, the vulnerability given off to the audience is enhanced Up to Eleven. This juxtaposed with the adult, physically strong male who is in some way broken by their dark past of terrible sins, is a potent contrast.

Please don't mistake this trope for Papa Wolf or Mama Bear. To see the differences, please refer to the Analysis page.

Compare Papa Wolf, Promotion to Parent, Morality Pet, Shoulder Teammate, Little Guy, Big Buddy and Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl. Also is a type of Odd Couple.

Not to be confused with Badass and Baby, when a hero fights while holding a baby, usually to underscore how badass and heroic he is.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga  
  • This trope is the entire concept of Beelzebub only turned Up to Eleven. The Badass is an egotistical, comically cruel, stupid, insanely powerful troublemaker, often regarded as the strongest delinquent in a school with a 120% delinquency rate. The Child is a demon, but not just a demon, he's the prince of hell himself, and must be raised by a human in order to destroy all humanity. Doesn't really seem to make sense when you think about it, but that's probably because the Demon Lord who thought of it has a few screws loose.
  • There was a Pokémon episode that paired a, Hellhound inspired, Houndoom with Misty's little Togepi.
  • Lone Wolf and Cub is probably the Ur Example, though the child in this case is the Badass's baby son.
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto and his little brother Shiro. Since their parents' death -supposed death in the case of their father- he had been playing Parental Substitute for Shiro, even if their grandfather was their guardian. After their grandfather's murder, Shiro was the only family Kouji had left and vice-versa (as far as they knew). And even if they often drive each other crazy (due to Shiro using common sense to explain his brother the stunt he tried to pull was dumb, or Kouji making something stupid or being a jerk), if you want to get Shiro, you WILL have to go through Kouji first. A Hot-Blooded Badass perfectly capable to hold his own on a fight and pilots a Humongous Mecha. Get your will ready only in case.
  • Until Death Do Us Part features badass blind samurai Mamoru Hijikata protecting the tween Haruka who is wanted by an evil organization who killed her parents to obtain her power to see the future. She has a crush on Mamoru, and has seen that in the future they will be married. She really wants that prediction to come true.
  • Bleach
    • Has the pair of Bad Ass Kenpachi Zaraki, who found the baby-aged Yachiru Kusajishi when he was a nameless murderer in the most lawless, dangerous areas of Rukongai, and took her in. Yachiru is rather unusual for a child of this type of duo, since during the story's present day, at a (seeming) age of about eight, she's become a Killer Rabbit and is well on her way to being at least as badass as Kenpachi.
    • Ichigo looked after Nel throughout the Arrancar arc. This paid off when it turned out she was an amnesiac former Arrancar stuck in Sleep Mode Size.
    • The Sword Beasts arc had Hisagi's sociopathic (to the point that it was still trying to kill him after despite no longer being controlled by the previous arc's Big Bad) zanpakuto Kazeshini looking after a child whose father was killed in an attack. The experience leads him to surrender to Hisagi.
  • Blood Alone has Kuroe, a badass Vampire Hunter who has taken in tween Misaki, an unawakened vampire girl whose vampire hunter parents were killed by vampires who then turned her. He is trying to keep her human personality to stay as long as possible, protecting her from her vampire-self and other dangers as best he can out of guilt and devotion. She has a precocious crush on him, but he is either Oblivious to Love or Obfuscating Stupidity on the matter.
  • Soul Eater has a Badass Normal Samurai named Mifune who loves children and protects a child witch named Angela and in the manga, he pays for it with his life.
  • Sword of the Stranger has a same-gender version with nameless Ronin Nanashi who goes through hell and back to save a little boy named Kotaro who is wanted by the Chinese emperor because some prophecy says his blood can make him immortal. Whether he lives through it is left unknown, as at the end he was alive but dying in a race to get medical help.
  • Michiko to Hatchin is a a same-gender female version.
  • Daizaemon and Takeshi in Gantz
  • El Cazador de la Bruja has two such duos: one is the main couple, Nadie and Ellis (at least until the latter learns to use her magic effectively); the other is Ricardo and Lirio, whose similarities to Lone Wolf and Cub are lampshaded early on. First is a same gendered pairing, the second is a pure example.
  • Inuyasha: Sesshoumaru and Rin fit this trope to perfection. She is the orphaned, troubled young human girl who approaches the wounded taiyoukai with a smile. He is the taciturn, Handicapped Badass Aloof Big Brother who acts like he barely tolerates her presence. Yet he's willing to literally storm Hell itself to rescue her.
  • A rare gender inverted example, from Claymore, Claire who is a claymore who protects a tweenage boy named Raki. It is later revealed that Claire herself was protected by Teresa of the Faint Smile, in the same way in a same-gendered example.
  • Twisted and subverted in A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator and his Morality Pet Last Order. Twisted because Accelerator is a teenager only a few years older than her. Subverted because while he's undeniably badass, his brain injury means he can't use his power without her assistance.
  • Berserk enjoys this trope. The most prominent example is Guts as the badass and Schierke as the child. It's not the purest example, though, since the latter isn't so helpless, and is the one who protects the former from his Superpowered Evil Side. A straighter example would be when he (reluctantly) had the dynamic going with Jill for a time. Guts also has something like this for Casca, who isn't a child, per se, but has regressed into infancy as a result of horrible trauma suffered during the Eclipse, but circumstances force him to keep his distance from her.
    • In the Hawks camp, Sonia would like to have this kind of relationship with Griffith, but of late, seems to have developed it with an Apostle named Irvine.
  • Dragon Ball: Tien and Chiaoutzou in Part 1.
  • Gunslinger Girl is built on this, with each male handler — a military, police, or intelligence veteran of Italy's mafia and terrorist wars — assigned to the management and instruction of a female cyborg Child Soldier. Given the fighting levels of each pair, this is a Subversion
  • One Piece: Zoro and Chopper appear to be this; the stock badass swordsman and the more innocent diminutive reindeer. Though Chopper is a capable fighter in his own right, Zoro is still stronger and thus more protective of him. He didn't take it well when Ohm hurt Chopper.
  • Darker Than Black season II: Hei and Suou definitely qualify, simply because while Suou is a Contractor, she got only a minor prize in the Superpower Lottery. Hei is definitely a lot more badass, able to do much butt-kicking even against big winners of said Superpower Lottery even after getting depowered quite early in the season.
  • Naruto has Haku and Zabuza. Haku's mother was killed by his own father and fellow villagers after learning that the woman and child he supposedly loved were inheritors of a bloodline limit that was used extensively in the previous Ninja War. Orphaned and alone, Zabuza picked up Haku for his special powers. The two became a murderous duo, with Haku willingly becoming Zabuza's "tool" to serve his purposes. Though Haku made it a part of his character never to kill anyone outright, preferring to incapacitate them instead. In the end, when Haku sacrificed his life to save Zabuza, Naruto caused the ex-Mist ninja to admit that yes, he did have a soft spot for the poor kid. Zabuza then ends up doing a Heel-Face Turn just minutes before death.
    • Naruto himself and Jiraiya qualify as well, at least before the Time Skip.
  • Scar and Mei in Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Kazuhiko and Suu fit this trope in the first two volumes of Clover.
    • Gingetu and Ran may count as a same-sex example, though they don't walk the earth.
  • Yasha and Ashura in RG Veda.
  • Gender Flipped in The Arms Peddler, with Garami the Action Girl and Sona, who works for her until he pays off his life-debt.
  • Ringing Bell revolves around a lamb becoming a wolfs apprentice after he kills his mother. Eventually Chirin becomes a badass himself
  • The leads of Seirei no Moribito are a Gender Flipped variant, with 30-something Badass Balsa and the young prince Chagum whom she's hired to protect.
    • Balsa as a child with Jiguro, as seen in flashbacks, also counts as this trope.
  • A couple examples in Vagabond.
    • It is zig zagged with main character Miyamoto Musashi and his disciple Jotaro. At first Jotaro greatly admires Musashi and wants to become his disciple, but Musashi doesn't want to have to take care of a kid. He softens up though, but doesn't get to teach Jotaro much before he denounces Musashi after he ran from a fight. Jotaro is quick to forgive him though, and they continue on their journey until Musashi decides to leave him behind with the Yagyu clan, knowing they can take better care of him.
    • A straighter example is perhaps chain and sickle wielding expert, Shishido Baiken or rather the man who killed Baiken and took his name and his kinda-sorta-pseudo-quasi-adopted daughter Rindo. An interesting twist in that Baiken, while a Badass to start with, actually learned the technique of the chain and sickle from Rindo.
  • For a brief period in High School D×D, Issei and Kunou fulfilled this trope when they were separated from the rest of the group in Volume 9.
  • Subverted in The Prince of Tennis. You'd swear that Taichi Dan and Jin Akutsu are a teenaged, same-gender version... but their actual age difference is only of 2/3 years. (Dan is 12-13, Akutsu is 15)
  • Sanshiro and Kenbo from Judo Boy.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it is ultimately revealed that Homura and Madoka have a fundamentally similar dynamic, though Homura is more subtle (and oblique) than most in her efforts at protection.

    Comics 
  • X-Men: Wolverine with Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and X-23.
    • He teamed up with Katie Power, the youngest member of Power Pack, at least twice too.
    • There's also an android Wolverine named Albert with an android little girl named Elsie Dee as his partner. Basically, people really want Wolverine to do this trope.
  • The Marvel Comics character known as Nomad went through this phase in the 90's when he turned into a Vigilante Man with a baby strapped to his back. It's a long story.
  • The Savage Dragon had elements of this when he had an adopted daughter.
  • Cable and Hope for about 15 years, starting out as a Badass and Baby. Which gave us the rare spectacle of a grizzled middle-aged warrior winning a brutal gun battle, then changing his partner's nappy.
  • Usagi Yojimbo has an incredibly creepy version with Jei and his young ward Keiko, who started following Jei around after he killed the bandits who murdered her grandfather. The fact that Jei is a murderous demon who leaves a trail of corpses everywhere he goes seems to bother Keiko not at all - those people were evil, after all, and he does protect her.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac gives us Johnny and his little neighbor Todd "{{Squee!}}" Castil, though Johnny is neither a hero nor a cynic, and Todd is neither good nor comfortable with Johnny.
  • In a Bad Future shown in Paperinik New Adventures an older Paperinik must protect Trip,the son of The Raider,from an older version of him in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.

    Film 
  • The Professional (a.k.a. Leon) has the seemingly unstoppable hitman of a main character hooks up with Badass Adorable Mathilda to avenge the murder of her family.
  • Shoot 'em Up is an example, though the child is only a baby and the Badass gets a little help from a lactating hooker.
  • True Grit is this, although ironically it is the child who is far more bloodthirsty than the badass.
  • Sadly averted in Saving Private Ryan. One of soldiers tries to take a kid to save her from war and the parents wanted it to happen, but were ordered not to. He didn't listen, but was shot as he was taking the girl in hands.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day has the titular robot, which we previously saw as an unstoppable nemesis in The Terminator, become the very capable protector of a young boy who is humanity's last hope against the machines from the future.
  • Bruce Willis's character in Mercury Rising, who becomes the protector of a nine-year-old autistic boy who cracked one of the NSA's most difficult-to-break codes from an assassin sent by one of its creators to kill him.
  • Bruce Willis' character in the Sin City film protects Nancy as a child (and later when she is an adult).
  • A same gendered female example in Ripley of Aliens. You only have to look at the theatrical release poster to realize it's this trope.
  • Road to Perdition with the added wrinkle of the two being father and son.
  • The heroes of The City of Lost Children are a circus strongman and a streetwise urchin.
  • Once upon a Time in Mexico. Likely the inspiration for a blinded Sheldon Sands hooking up with a Mexican street kid to shoot some mooks — though we'll have to wait for a sequel to see if there's a full realisation of this trope.
  • Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Mob enforcer Big Chris and his son Little Chris.
  • Dennis Quaid's character in Savior goes to every length to protect and take care of a newborn girl.
  • The Dark Knight Rises gives us this trope in flashback. Ra's Al Ghul's child is born in a Hell Hole Prison; the mother is killed by some other prisoners, but one swears to protect the child. It's eventually revealed that that child grew up to be Miranda Tate, real name Talia, and her champion was - and still is - the Big Bad mercenary Bane.
  • The Intergenerational Friendship of the titular Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz is the main focus of the film's story, though Van is a tough-as-they-come kid who can hold her own.
  • Wolverine and Rogue in X-Men.

    Literature 
  • John Ferrier and Lucy in A Study In Scarlet.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Sandor and Sansa, later Sandor and Arya, though Arya is by no means completely helpless. Jorah and Dany, though mostly because he falls in love with her.
  • The Graceling Lady Killer, Katsa, takes down fifteen men (admittedly with some help), crosses previously-thought impassable mountains and commandeers a ship taking care of the ten-year-old Princess Bitterblue.
  • Grendel-Prime to Jupiter during the Grendel: War Child story arch. Interestingly, as the child Jupiter was royalty his deceased father, Orion I, actually created the cyborg Grendel-Prime to specifically play this role, kidnapping the boy so that he could be raised in an environment free of political influence, privilege, and the threat of assassination.
  • "The Archive" and her bodyguard Kincaid from The Dresden Files. Played with the twist that Ivy, though physically a child, has the experience and magical power to curb stomp your average badass without breaking stride.
  • Jean Valjean and Cosette in Les Misérables — except that in this case the badass is not really a cynic.
  • Essentially the entirety of The Road, in which a man treks southwards with his young son in tow. For a post-apocalyptic novel, some of the interaction between them can be pretty heartwarming.
  • Thrugg and Dumble from Salamandastron qualify as this, although Dumble can be pretty badass himself, for his age.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms has a famous chapter where Zhao Yun goes through the fire and brimstone of the Wei army just to save the child of Liu Bei. They make it out, too.
  • Though he hardly gets the chance to be with her, protecting Queen Ehlana is Sparhawk's main motivation in The Elenium, and we learn from flashbacks that he was the young princess' main confidante in an otherwise hostile court.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes "Bargaining", the antihero Spike and the freshly un-Keyed Dawn are placed together.
  • An episode of Stargate Atlantis revolves around such a duo. Doctor Keller is kidnapped by a runner (a strong human warrior who is implanted with a tracking beacon and released so the Wraith can hone their hunting skills) to treat a young girl in his care. He later reveals that he stopped briefly in the girl's village which brought the Wraith who then slaughtered them all. Since he blamed himself for the carnage, he took it upon himself to save and protect her.
  • Person of Interest. The episode "Wolf and Cub" has the POI be a black kid who's determined to get revenge on the gangbangers who murdered his elder brother. Realising he's not going to be put off, Reece takes him under his wing while he sets up a Batman Gambit to bring down the villains. The kid's a fan of comics and samurai films, so the trope gets lampshaded at the end when he draws a cartoon of him and Reece as a Badass and Child Duo.
    Reece: I always wanted a sidekick.
  • Halfway through Season 3 of Game of Thrones Sandor Clegane (aka "The Hound") kidnaps Tomboy Princess Arya Stark for ransom, and their unwilling partnership continues in Season 4. However the "child" role is subverted as Arya is far from a helpless innocent, verging on Creepy Child in her obsession with revenge; her association with the brutal Hound only sets her further on a dark path.

    Music 
  • There seems to be this relationship with the band and the little girl in My Chemical Romance's latest music videos, although she seems to be pretty badass herself.

    Theatre 
  • In Team Starkid's musical Starship, Up and Taz fit this Trope. We're given a list of times when Up has saved her (that was tough!), and at one point he goes so far as to let the giant mosquitos that were sucking her dry drink his blood instead. In case there was any doubt of his badassness, he kills the mosquitos by making his heart beat so fast that they explode from the extra pressure.
    • Which considering he is an expy of the trope page image (cough Solid Snake), isn't too surprising.

    Videogames 
  • Dishonored features Corvo Attano, the assassin protagonist, and Emily Kaldwin, the heir to the throne. Corvo's job was to protect Emily's mother, and he failed, so he transferred his loyalty to Emily herself, who sees Corvo as a Parental Substitute for her unmentioned father. (Whether or not Corvo is actually Emily's father is left to the player.)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 features Snake and Otacon, the former of whom is one of the biggest badasses on the planet (according to the latter), serving as foster parents to the six-year-old Sunny Gurlukovich, who is Olga's daughter and was snatched away from her by the Patriots soon after her birth.
  • Jack, the Terminator Expy from Tekken, carries around a little girl whose parents he killed and who he subsequently adopted.
  • Metro 2033 has Artyom carrying a child on his back for the duration of an Escort Mission.
  • Final Fantasy IV has Cecil, the Dark Knight, and Rydia, the sole surviving summoner from the village of Mist, on the run from the forces of Baron after Cecil was tricked into destroying her village.
  • Final Fantasy XIII has a gender inversion with Lightning, the tough, no-nonsense soldier, and Hope, a young, frightened teenager who has just lost his mother. Though at 14 he's older than the "pure" example, the dynamic between the two still fits, with Lightning eventually morphing into a Mama Bear.
  • Darkstalkers has Donovan Baine, a reluctant Dhampyr who hunts other monsters, and Anita, an Emotionless Girl with psychic powers.
  • The BioShock games have this in the form of the Big Daddies and the Little Sisters.
  • Gungrave has Beyond the Grave, the series' undead silent protagonist, and Mika Asagi, a young girl who sought his aid after the death of her parents.
  • The adaptation of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games has escaped convict and Badass Bookworm Lee as the badass, and the orphaned Clementine as the child. They meet when he tries to find help in her house, and she gives him a weapon to use against her zombified babysitter. A lot of players make their choices based on whether or not Clementine is present. Come Season 2, following Lee's death, Clem's become a badass herself.
  • Dead Rising 2 has Chuck Greene and his daughter Katey, a Zombie Infectee that needs a dose of Zombrex every 24 hours.
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves has policeman Kevin Rian, who is always accompanied by his dead partner's son, Marky.
  • The Yakuza series has consummate ex-yakuza badass Kiryu Kazuma and his adorable niece Haruka.
  • The Last of Us
    • Contains hardened survivor Joel and much younger Ellie trekking across the post apocalyptic US.
    • It also contains brother duo Henry and Sam Sadly it doesn't end well.

    Webcomics 
  • Chirault has Kiran, a demon and a Hunter of His Own Kind, paired with Teeko, a young Cat Girl. In this case, Teeko had been doing fine on her own even though she was orphaned, until a stray magic spell reduced her to a few inches in height, so Kiran has agreed for her to accompany him until they can find a mage to reverse the spell.
  • Unsounded's Sette and Duane, though Sette is hardly innocent.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has the titular doctor and his young 12-year old sidekick Gordito. Keeping with the Crazy Awesome nature of the comic, Gordito not only fights incredibly well with dual revolvers, but also GREW AN EPIC MUSTACHE ON HIS FACE WITH HIS OWN FREE WILL, even before his first appearance. He also learns how to ride a velociraptor.

    Other 
  • The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park, Berlin has a statue that might have this trope written on it: a 12-m tall soldier with a huge sword in hand holding a child on his other hand. According to the Soviet Marshal Vasily Chuikov, the statue commemorates the deeds of Sergeant Nikolai Masalov, who during the final storm on the center of Berlin risked his life under heavy German machine-gun fire to rescue a three year old German girl.


Back-to-Back BadassesDuo TropesBattle Couple
Amazon BrigadeEnsemblesBadass Army
Badass and BabyBadassBadass Automaton
Always Save the GirlProtective TropesBarrier Maiden
Console CameoImageSource/Video GamesMetal Slug

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