"Don't plan to bind or banish ya, old ghost. Just gonna kick your ass up between your ears."Indigenous people tend to be, well, poor. Indigenous people also have a tradition of war, unlike the rest of the world. So of course they're badasses. No matter what era you're in, if you live in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, indigenous people will be badasses. Rarely seen in the rest of the world, though. The American version of the Badass Native has costuming and prop elements as well. Will often be magical. Overlaps with Noble Savage or The Savage Indian. See also Proud Warrior Race Guys.
— Joseph "Injun Joe" Listens-to-Winds, Turn Coat
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Tatanka of Eyeshield 21 is the best high school linebacker in America mainly because he's a whopping 6'10. He also wears his hair in a long braid and wears war paint the field.
- Sandman of Steel Ball Run decided to run the titular Epic Race on foot, whereas everyone else has a horse, and routinely places in the upper echelon. His Stand, In A Silent Way, is the second in the series to weaponize Written Sound Effects, and is just as deadly as Echoes.
- Geronimo Jr. aka Cyborg 005 from Cyborg 009 might be the Trope Codifier in anime and manga. A massive giant who is Made of Iron and has Super Strength, he is very kind and slow to anger, but when he does need to fight, he WILL plow through the enemy lines bare-handed.
- James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath from X-Force is this, when written right. Recently, he has often been the Jobber.
- His brother John, a.k.a. Thunderbird, tried to be this trope as one of the early X-Men, but his extreme temper (he was the resident hothead of a team that included Wolverine) led to him dying on his second mission. But what a death: punching out a fighter jet. Mid-flight. One of the few comic book deaths that's actually stuck.
- The DCU has the Super-Chief, whose magical meteorite necklace gives him the "the strength of a thousand bears, the speed of a thousand running deer, the keen senses of the wolf nation, and the power in his legs to leap higher than the tallest trees in the forest"...but only for an hour. In 52, that last tidbit dooms the latest Super-Chief since his enemy has the power to manipulate time.
- Joshua Brand, the hero of Shaman's Tears; chosen to be the champion of Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit of the Sioux.
- Moonstalker in Topps Comics' Zorro series.
- Mani from Brotherhood of the Wolf, complete with martial arts.
- Gooch, a huge ex-con just released from prison at the beginning of Dance Me Outside, plays up to this trope.
- Wind In His Hair in Dances with Wolves.
- Hunter from Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning.
- The title character in Navajo Joe has this, being proficient in firearms and melee weapons and single-handedly whittling down a rival's gang.
- Billy Bear in Predator.
- Red Blood has a whole tribe of them take on the mob.
- Aila, from Rhymes For Young Ghouls, is a less racist or stereotypical example of this trope, though she's most certainly both First Nations and extremely badass.
- Victor Joseph subverts this trope; he has a "stoic face" to look badass.
- The Fetts, and by extension the Clone Army. George Lucas probably chose Temuera Morrison to play Jango just to invoke this trope.
- The entire cast of Thunderheart.
- Transamerica has Toby talk about how his father's an Indian and a millionaire, only to learn that his father's really a Jew for Jesus who wants to become a woman.
- Oberon in Adam R. Brown's Alterien is a Lakota Indian with superhuman strength, superhuman speed, a healing factor and can engage just about anyone in hand-to-hand combat or close-quarters armed combat (knives).
- Sherman Alexie likes to play with this trope:
- The title character in "The Toughest Indian In The World" plays it straight, but is gay.
- Victor Joseph deconstructs it: He has a "stoic" face which involves looking like you just killed a buffalo (because the Cour D'Alene are fishermen, but you don't want to look like you just killed a salmon), and he's best friends with Thomas Builds-the-Fire, a gothic-looking storyteller who can't shut up.
- Arnold in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a Memetic Badass for a day. This despite being a nerd and excessive Ho Yay.
- In Flight, Zits enters the body of a Sioux boy, and he tries to prevent Little Big Horn, but... On the badass side of things, his father is compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger, he meets Crazy Horse, and he's in the most badass tribe in North America. He later meets his father, who is not a badass at all.
- Moon in At Play in the Fields of the Lord.
- Eheca, Quetza and almost every Aztec character from Federico Andahazi's El Conquistador
- The Fremen in the first three Dune novels.
- Uncas and Chingachgook from James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans.
- In The Dresden Files, Joseph Listens-to-Wind. He's the Nice Guy on the Senior Council, sure— but he can also turn into a bear and go toe-to-toe with demigod-level Eldritch Abominations. Also, the fact that he is on the Senior Council means he is one of the seven most powerful and skilled magicians in the world.
- Also by Jim Butcher, in the "Codex Alera" series, pretty much every single race is one of these, from the Marats , to the wolflike Canim and to the Ice Men who have kept the powerful fury-crafting(i.e. magic using) Aleran Legion at bay for hundreds of years.
- In the Time Scout series, this is the general consensus on downtimers. Don't mess with them; they'll probably kill you. More specifically, the downtimers on-station, Skeeter's Mongolian family, and Jack the Ripper.
- The Wickans in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Though they're from Quon Tali and the book they mainly feature in, Deadhouse Gates, is set on Seven Cities, even the Seven Cities natives are impressed by their battle prowess. Their leader Coltaine is the most badass of them all by being even more cunning and fiercer than his followers.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had Tommy Oliver. Played with because he was raised white and it didn't come into play until late season three of MMPR (and was revisited during Zeo).
- Deadliest Warrior has had the Apache and Comanche featured in episodes, demonstrating just how lethal and badass they were in real life.
- Hawk from Twin Peaks is this trope.
- Criminal Minds has John Black Wolf. He's the de facto leader/police of his reservation, and when a group of armed men come with the intention of murdering their children to start a race war, he beats the crap out of them with his bare hands and a knife for self-defense. And he doesn't kill a single one outright.
- Something like a solid third of the cast of Banshee fits this trope. Chayton Littlestone and Nola Longshadow are at the top of the heap, though.
- On The 100, the Grounders are shown to be, on average, much more badass then the people who come down from the Ark. Justified by the Ark being a small, completely isolated society, giving them little opportunity to practice war, and by their heavy reliance on technology, which leaves them in a difficult spot when they start running low on guns or bullets.
- Commander Chakotay of Star Trek: Voyager fills the masculine action hero role (not in personality, but in the sense of throwing punches and getting babes, a la Captain Kirk and Commander Riker). To boot, his backstory involves leading a band of outlaws to defend his tribe's home planet against Cardassians, with a passion for boxing on the side. The commander is a soft-spoken man of peace who is most assuredly not to be fucked with.
- In Turn, Robert Rogers' crew includes an extremely competent Abenaki tracker.
- Iron Maiden's song "Run to the Hills" has this, though it also outright says that the US Army won because of superior numbers.
We fought him hard, we fought him well. Out on the plains, we gave him hell!But many came, too much for Cree. Oh will we ever be set free?
- Johnny Cash's "The Ballad of Ira Hayes"
- Robbie Robertson (Anishinabe) has many badass songs.
We are making a noise in this world!... Making a noise in this world!You can bet your ass, we won't go quietly,Making a noise in this world.
- John Trudell (Santee-Dakota) was a singer-songwriter — also a U.S. Navy veteran, broadcaster, artist, actor, teacher, writer and American Indian movement member involved in the taking of Alcatraz in 1969. He brought this trope to life.
- Every Native American Mythology has at least one. Modern versions have more.
- Apache Bull Ramos, one of the first of this role to be a heel, at his own insistence, as wrestling promoters not only thought his lack of charisma made babyface a better fit but pushing someone from a group whose slaughter was basically publicly approved as a heel was believed to be dangerous, but Bull's sense of timing in regards to working the crowd made it work.
- Chief Wahoo McDaniel, a football player who began wrestling in the off seasons around the same time Ernie Ladd did but despite the name, Wahoo didn't come from the "red man" sports mascot. It had been in the chief's family long before he started playing sports.
- The Brisco Brothers, Jack and Gerald. (This was not reflected in their wrestling gimmicks beyond a feud with the cowboy Funks, but the two are Cherokee descendants from Blackwell)
- Tatanka, a Lumbee. The infamous lack of respect his tribe gets from the government once lead to an angle where he became a vengeful warrior against the wrestling officials he thought were showing him the same disrespect. This was supposed to be a heel gimmick but was so badass the fans took his side.
- Navajo Warrior, who paints his face underneath his racoon skin hat. Outside of Arizona he's best known for tag team title runs with Shooting Wolf and Ghost Walker as "Native Blood".
- Florida Championship Wrestling had Mickie James defend their ladies title belt on a Seminole reservation, though one heel challenger(Lexie Fyfe) pointed out James was from a completely different tribe (Powhatan from Virginia) and unsuccessfully tried to convince the fans not to cheer for her.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse has two extant tribes consisting mainly of American Indians in the present day. The Uktena are Magical Native American, whereas the Wendigo are pretty much this trope down to the core. They're one of the major warriors tribes in what's already a Proud Warrior Race, were quite active in AIM in the Sixties, and still have a bit of grudge with the Europe-based tribes.
- The vampire tribes of Zendikar were designed with this trope in mind.
- This trope is taken advantage of by the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000 - with countless worlds within its galactic borders and varying conditions and technologies on them, there are some which are so harsh that the world's inhabitants will be at Stone Age technology. Having individuals who survive harsh conditions and prosper with little more than their own strength, they are commonly used as recruits for the Adeptus Asartes.
- The Eldar Exodites, the descendants of those who saw the terrible depravity and hedonism of the Eldar before The Fall, and fled to the uncivilized backwater worlds on the edge of their empire, places where they'd be forced to work hard to survive. Basically, they're Amish dinosaur-riding cowboy Wood Elves IN SPACE. They tend to keep to themselves, but they're more than capable of schooling anyone who is stupid enough to try and conquer their worlds. In one Black Library book, the Imperium launched an assault on one of the Exodite worlds, and while the Exodites lost eventually, the Imperium needed three Space Marine legions to get the job done. Yes, you just read that right: not "chapters", but legions. Pre-Horus Heresy legions.
- Soloha Salawa, a celebrated Hopi Ace Pilot from Crimson Skies.
- Delsin Rowe from inFAMOUS: Second Son belongs to the fictional Akomish tribe
- Gala from Burn:Cycle belongs to a terrorist cell of computer-hacking Natives. In the future.
- Pictured above is Nightwolf, from the Mortal Kombat series.
- Thunder Hawk from Street Fighter is probably the single tallest playable character in the series ("probably" because Hugo doesn't have an official height and they've never been in the same game). Let's just say this affords him an intimidating presence).
- Soaring Eagle in Whomp 'Em.
- Chief Thunder and his brother Eagle from Killer Instinct.
- Vulcan Raven from Metal Gear Solid. Genius Bruiser, Inuit Shaman, prefers to fight with a 20 mm rotary fighter cannon.
- Tommy from Prey (2006). Long hair, leather jacket, mechanic, first seen getting in a bar brawl with some rednecks before he takes on the alien horde. Also crosses over with Magical Native American.
- Badu from Septerra Core. He's actually an Underlost mutant from Shell 7, and looks like a xenomorph with knives. He's one of the party's more effective fighters, taking the role of the Mighty Glacier.
- Connor aka Ratonhnhaké:ton, the lead character in Assassin's Creed III, is the child of a British soldier and a Mohawk woman.
- Natan in Shadow Hearts: From the New World.
- Soloha Salawa, a celebrated Hopi Ace Pilot from Crimson Skies. He flies an appropriately badass◊ fighter plane.
- Tau and Atahua from Battle Arena Toshinden 3.
- Chief Scalpem from Sunset Riders. Despite his unfortunate sounding name, he is universally considered far harder than any other boss in the game, including the last boss. Flipping about the screen at breakneck speed and raining throwing knives on your posse, the level of difficulty in this fight is worthy of a Bullet Hell shooter. Even seasoned players end up burning at least one coin on this guy.
- In The Elder Scrolls, as seen in Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion and Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC, the Noble Savage Skaal people of the frozen, inhospitable island of Solstheim are quite badass. Their culture is a blend of the Nord's Horny Vikings and that of various Native American and Inuit tribes. While every other race who has attempted to settle Solstheim throughout history has struggled, the In Harmony with Nature Skaal flourish there despite the cold and Solstheim's many dangerous beasts.
- King of the Hill's John Redcorn double-subverts this. At first, he averts it, but when Big Mountain Fudgecake is introduced, he plays it straight until he realizes he can make more money with children's songs.
- John Thunder, the Native American member of the Centurions.
- Jefferson Trueblood from Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, the sheriff of Roswell as well as the leader of the Alliance's S.T.A.R team, more or less a SWAT team with advanced alien weaponry.
- Nathan Explosion of Metalocalypse is only half native american, bit he fits the trope none the less
- Injun Joe the Superchief from the Looney Tunes short "Wagon Heels".
- Apache Chief from Super Friends combines this with Magical Native American and You No Take Candle speech patterns to create a character that was Fair for Its Day...but just barely.
- Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Tecumseh, Manuelito, Roman Nose... Take your pick, honestly.
- Just about anybody in AIM (American Indian Movement).
- In the 30s, Josef Goebbels, possibly motivated by Karl May novels, declared the Sioux to be Aryans. Pure Aryans, in fact. (The Japanese were also thought to be a "Honorary Aryan people due to their bravery".) The Sioux response was to join the U.S. military, where they could hopefully kill Nazis.
- Navajo Code Talkers played a major role in the defeat of the Japanese in World War II. Very few people outside the Navajo Nation (and none in Japan) understood the language, which was used as the basis for a code.note Other tribes, such as the Choctaw, contributed Code Talkers as well, but the Navajo were the most numerous and famous.
- Indigenous people join the military much more frequently than the majority culture.
My People have fought for this land / Here and across the seaTheir shadows cast on sacred ground / For all eternity.
- Ernest E. Evans, Commanding Officer of the USS Johnston. Half Cherokee and a quarter Creek, he vowed upon taking command of his ship that he would never run from the enemy. He fulfilled that vow on Oct 25, 1944, when his task force, Taffy 3, found itself up against a fleet of Japanese battleships, led by none other than the Yamato (the largest, most heavily-armed battleship ever built), with nothing larger than an escort carrier. He ordered Johnston to turn and charge the enemy line, managing to get close enough for a torpedo attack which blew the bow off a Japanese cruiser, causing another to stop and lend assistance, thereby taking both of them out of the fight. The little tin can took a savage beating afterward (helped by the fact that it was too small for effective use of the Yamato's massive guns, as they were designed pierce battleship armor before exploding; against an unarmored destroyer they passed through one side of the hull and out the other without setting off the fuse), but Evans stayed in command right up to the very end, eventually going down with the ship. He received the Medal of Honor.
- Hongi Heka, and Te Rauparaha, of New Zealand, Maori chieftains in the early 19th century, who were heavily involved in the Musket wars. Hongi Heka pioneered the use of muskets in Maori warfare, leading to the situation where the Maori, those who survived, were well prepared to take on the British in this matter. Hongi Heka also, in between fighting wars, found time to contribute to writing the first Maori-English dictionary. Te Rauparaha was called the Napoleon of New Zealand because of the large amount of land he conquered.
- The British and New Zealand settlers had a real tough time trying to take away Maori lands because of the experience of the Musket Wars, which not only prepared the Maori for modern warfare (all the more amazing because just forty years earlier they were a Stone Age society), but with that also came some inspired innovations, like the modification of the traditional pa (fortified village) that came with trenches and bunkers. Gate Pa was famous because the British shelled the crap out of the place, but inflicted virtually no casualties on the bunkered Maori, so when the British marched in thinking they'd obliterated them, the defenders just burst out of their trap doors and gunned them down.
- Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, who was the first Maori to win a Victoria Cross (sadly posthumous), in WWII. To quote: "On 26/27 March 1943 during the action at Tobaga Gap, Tunisia, Second Lieutenant Ngarimu, who was commanding a platoon in a vital hill feature strongly held by the enemy, led his men straight up the face of the hill and was first on the crest. He personally destroyed two machine-gun posts and owing to his inspired leadership several counter-attacks were beaten off during the night. He was twice wounded but refused to leave his men. By morning when only two of his platoon remained unwounded, reinforcements arrived. When the next counter-attack was launched, however, Second Lieutenant Ngarimu was killed."
- Joe Medicine Crow (Crow) was the last Indian to become a war-chief — did so in WWII. There are four things one must do (including counting coup, disarming the enemy, leading a successful war party, and taking horses from the enemy) and he did all of them.
- Spc. Lori Piestewa (Hopi), the first Native American woman to be killed in combat overseas. When the Pentagon presented us with a Rambo-like fantasy built around the capture and (partly staged according to the BBC) rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, Lynch herself went before the House Committee on Oversight to reveal that not only was much of the story false, but that Piestewa was the real hero. Driving in the same convoy as Lynch, she had picked her up when her vehicle broke down in the middle of an ambush. She drove through a hail of gunfire, crashed into a tractor-trailer and was subsequently shot in the head. Truly a Native Badass.
- Several Mapuche chieftains during the War of Arauco were this, but special mentions go to Lautaro (Valdivia's ex-aid, who escaped from captivity and then became the leader of the Mapuche via teaching them how to fight the Conquistadores), Caupolicán (doubling as World's Strongest Man according to his myth, and ultimately Impaled with Extreme Prejudice) and Galvarino (Hot-Blooded Handicapped Badass).
- Buffalo Calf Road Woman, who fought in the Battle of the Rosebud (or The Fight Where the Girl Saved Her Brother, as it is called by the Cheyenne, named after she rode back on her horse to save him after other retreated), fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn, and was credited with knocking Custer off his horse during Custer's Last Stand by the Cheyenne tribe.
- Benito Juarez was a Mexican Zapotec who acted as President of Mexico in the 1860s during the French Intervention, heading the republican Government in Exile and La Résistance against Puppet King Maximillian Hapsburg and his French backers. Under his leadership, the Mexican republicans held out long enough for the American Union to win the American Civil War and start applying pressure on the French to withdraw, even as the French public itself became increasingly frustrated at the costs of the war.