- A Badass Bookworm... who happens to be informed or quick-witted enough to know what to do in the current crisis.
- A Spanner in the Works or an Unwitting Pawn who takes a level in badass for the duration of the plot. (A permanent badass who usually acts like an idiot falls under Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.)
- A Right Man in the Wrong Place who saves the day through means other than gunplay or fisticuffs, probably because he/she is no good at either.
- A Loyal Sidekick who must solve the crisis without The Hero (who is incapacitated, on vacation, kidnapped or whatever).
- A Distressed Damsel who realizes The Hero ain't coming any time soon and thus has to make do on her own.
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Anime & Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Izumi Curtis, the Elric brothers' teacher is this. A master of martial arts and alchemy, she did teach the boys alot, but is content to remain a housewife and low profile. She ends up involved in the scheme due to her students/surrogate sons' being in danger along with the whole nation. This leads to her usual line?
Greed: Who are you?!
Izumi: I'M A HOUSEWIFE!
- One point she does actually acknowledge her badassness by admitting she's usually pretty humble, but decides to show off and introduces herself as an alchemist.
- In Naoki Urasawa's Monster, before shooting at Roberto and earning his status as a full-fledged badass, a traumatized, paranoid Tenma jumps off a bridge to save himself and Anna from potential enemies.
- From Legend of Galactic Heroes, Yang Wenli, also known as 'Miracle Yang' or 'Magician Yang', is quite possibly the most brilliant and widely feared military commanders in the entire universe, to the point where enemy forces will hesitate in their attack at the mention of his name. Despite his fearsome reputation, however, the man himself is mild-tempered, hates warfare, and really just wants to retire with a nice, fat pension and become a historian.
- Ironically, when his enemies finally push him to his snapping point, he delivers a curb-stomp of epic proportions.
- Sawada Tsunayoshi in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! REALLY doesn't want to be a Mafia boss. He just wants to live his lazy, average life. That is, until he learns how to beat up bad guys with flaming HANDS as well as flying with them and getting repeatedly gutted, shot, etc and then brushing it off. And only when his friends get hurt, see.
- While in A Certain Magical Index one could argue Touma as this, Hamazura is more this trope. Just a level 0 thug made to work for the "darkness" of Academy City, he defeats the #4 Level 5 by himself, twice, fights off Russian and Academy City forces during World War 3, and storms a building taken hostage by a counter-intelligence unit via helicopter all to save the girl he loves.
- In One Piece Wanted, one of the stories revolves around a samurai named Ryuuma who seeks to become a great swordsman and fight the 'King', who is considered the strongest warrior in the world. Thing is, Ryumma IS the 'King', unknowingly given the nickname by all the people he's saved in his quest to be the best.
- Kanata Sorami of Sound of the Sky joined the Army to learn to play the trumpet. And what do you know, that's how she prevented a war.
- Issei Hyodou in High School D×D really just wants to have a harem of his own and doesn't want to fight anybody at all, seeing as he loves peace. Unfortunately, he gets dragged to other people's problems and yet kicks ass so much he gets promoted from being a low-class devil to a middle-class in just six months.
- It's specifically noted in-universe that the mid-class promotion is just a formality, and that by the time that rolls around(and especially in the most recent novels) he already has the power of an upper tier High-Class devil, if not Ultimate-Class. Odds are good that he'll be high-class before too much longer, for his obscene power if nothing else.
- Godou Kusanagi plays this straight. He'd be perfectly fine with a normal life if it weren't for the fact that he killed Verethragna and therefore gained all of his powers. Which practically makes him the seventh Campione in the process.
- Ellen Baker in Animal Man. A supervillain breaks into her house to get at her superhero husband... and she beats the crap out of him.
- Similarly, Mary Jane from Spider-Man once beat up the Chameleon with a baseball bat and talked down a hostage-taker while wearing nothing but lingerie. Though really, wearing nothing but lingerie is probably how she got away with it in the first place.
- Proving that the Chameleon really shouldn't mess with the Parker women, Aunt May once saw through his disguise (he was being Peter). So she pretended nothing was wrong, gave him cookies, and had a nice chat... then revealed that the cookies had tranquilizers in it, she'd put in some almonds to make the Chameleon think she had dosed him with cyanide, and as he passed out, Aunt May revealed that sampler she'd been knitting the entire time had "GOTCHA" sewn into it.
- In the Donald Duck tales of Carl Barks and Don Rosa, this describes Donald himself. The thirty-cent-an-hour odd jobs that Uncle Scrooge throws him are the closest he gets to regular employment — but frequently end up with him dragged along in search of ancient treasures and lost cities. Rosa's final Donald story, "The Magnificent Seven (minus 4) Caballeros", draws a bright red line under this, as Donald's two old chums are repeatedly stunned by his casual, off-hand references to things like finding El Dorado or Lost Atlantis.
- Jimmy Olsen is badass enough to survive anything, no matter how insane or horrific, that he gets dragged into, just by the sheer magnitude of his Seen It All. Also, if he does get into an unsolvable situation, either he will gain whatever superpowers are necessary to escape, or everything will explode or degenerate into comparable chaos to allow his survival. Jimmy Olsen and the laws of reality have a weird relationship that way.
- This it the entire plot of Make A Wish, which is about Harry traveling the world and accidentally killing Death Eaters, talking down the Mafia, and developing a reputation as the inventor of magic and origin of the Grim Reaper... through sheer coincidence and chance.
- Accidental Hero Of The Galaxy portrays Commander Shepard as one of these. His "heroism" during the Skyllian Blitz was really just the result of dumb luck and stupidity.
- The 1992 movie Accidental Hero is about a guy who is the epitome of this trope: Bernard Laplante is the opposite of the muscled blonde man-god that everyone wants a hero to be like, but is extremely able and cool-headed in a crisis. He accidentally becomes the center of media attention after he rescues a female TV reporter along with other survivors of a plane crash, but it causes more trouble for him than it solves because of his criminal record, so he lets his good-for-nothing Vietnam veteran friend take the credit.
- The entire cast of Police Academy (except Hightower. He's just a badass). Pick any installment, but especially the first one.
- Johnny Five in Short Circuit. Just a wacky computer that realized he was "Alive!" The hero part just happened to come along.
- The Donkey in Shrek.
- Dory in Finding Nemo. (Arguably Marlin as well. But he's more a case of the Berserk Button being pushed, namely, his son being kidnapped).
- Pretty much all the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. Frodo was the only one actually looking for an adventure (though not one like this). Hobbits view the desire for adventure as an extremely odd trait (even Bilbo had to be dragged out of his house for his first adventure) but always prove capable when the time comes, making them an entire race of this trope.
- R2-D2 in the original Star Wars trilogy. He's waaaayyy more badass in the prequels (hopping on a rocket pack, seriously??)
- Jeff Goldblum's character in Independence Day. His only concern the whole movie was getting his ex-wife back. But he still saved the world... with a Mac virus.
- Forrest Gump. He knows that other people seem to be impressed by his exploits, but he really doesn't understand why.
- Jamie Lee Curtis' character in True Lies. She has quite a few badass moments in the movie, especially the way she cleans out a dozen terrorists by dropping a MAC-10.
- Shaun of the Dead loves fighting zombies — in video games. Or doing anything in video games. He's rather dim and unambitious, and it takes him a long time to recognize the Zombie Apocalypse as a real threat, but he makes the transition to badass Action Hero surprisingly quickly once the chips are down.
- Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movies. He really hates being dragged into all this crazy crap. Reluctant Badass might be a better term.
- Sam Witwicky of Transformers has the Unintentional part down pat in the first movie. The Badass doesn't really kick in until the sequel.
- Bruce Willis has said that he's always played John McClane as "somebody who never really wants to do what he has to do."
- Will and Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean start out this way. Neither want much to do with pirates (Elizabeth's wish to meet one vanishes quite quickly when she's actually kidnapped by them). By the end of the first movie, Will has engaged in piracy, Elizabeth has successfully tricked and escaped a few times from Barbossa's crew, and both join Jack Sparrow in a fight against the pirates. They become full-on badasses in the sequels, though they never truly want to devote their lives to piracy and they both end Happily Married and settled down.
- Jason McCullough in the western spoof Support Your Local Sheriff is a badass gunfighter who actively avoids getting a reputation as it's a good way to get killed. Unfortunately, taking the Sheriff's job in a new Boom Town, ostensibly to earn enough money to get to Australia, leads to a succession of challengers. This annoys him more than anything else.
- Peter "Starlord" Quill and most of the rest of the protagonists in Guardians of the Galaxy. Quill just wants to survive and get paid, at first, but he gets roped into needing to help save the galaxy - if only because, to paraphrase his words, he's one of the idiots who live there.
- Rincewind, the "Wizzard" from Discworld. Continually gets into (and survives through) adventures despite wanting nothing to do with adventure, being completely terrified of adventure, and actively trying to avoid adventure whenever possible. Is also the world's least accomplished wizard, having only ever known one spell (and that one having left him as soon as possible). His list of actual accomplishments, though, includes falling off the world, bringing several new worlds into existence, defeating a sourceror (who are essentially living fonts of magic), being instrumental in taking down a demon lord, and bringing down one of the most powerful armies of the planet.
- Most of the heroes from Discworld fall into this category: Sam Vimes (City Watch) just wanted to be a copper, and ended up stopping wars, time traveling and changing history, and becoming (to his horror) a nobleman. Brutha from Small Gods was just a novice, but ended up becoming the eighth prophet of the Omnian Church. Susan Sto Helit just wanted to be normal and get on with her daily job, despite being Death's adopted granddaughter. Even Death just wanted to do his job, but ended up in conflict against the enemies of humanity several times.
- The witches of the Disc have this as their modus operandi, realizing that what people most often need isn't heroics or magic but just someone willing to take charge and do difficult, mundane work. To date, they've stopped several Eldritch Abominations through little more than stubbornness, headology, and creative use of cookware.
- Like Rincewind, Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!! tries to avoid danger whenever he can, but he is often forced to confront his fears through a combination of wanting to keep up appearances and simple pragmatism (a Million-to-One Chance of survival being reasoned as better than no chance at all).
- We are informed by the editor that despite his negative character traits, Cain is one of the best swordsmen in his corner of the galaxy. Given the types of horrors he seems to attract, all that practice time wasn't wasted at all.
- Apropos. Born crippled and suffering abuse from basically everyone but his mother and best friend, all he really wanted to do was (paraphrasing) "Live an excitement-free life and die of old age in my bed." Against his wishes, however, he ends up becoming a knight, hijacking a phoenix from—and by default becoming—The Hero, saving his kingdom from siege, saving the world from an evil and amorous goddess, and basically leading a coup on an Expy of Feudal Japan (he blew it up.)
- Ender of Ender's Game is not only a Badass Unintentional, he's a Badass Counterintentional, often wishing explicitly that he wasn't such a badass.
- Harry Potter himself, although he has done some pretty badass things facing Lord Voldemort several times and ultimately defeating him, thus saving the wizarding world it's stated several times throughout the series that Harry wished he never would have had to be in a place to do those things. As evidenced in book 1, in the mirror of Erised, all he wanted was a happy family he got one in the end.
- A majority of the people who fight in the seventh book's climax would count as well. Sure, a number of them were in the Order of the Phoenix or were Aurors, but just as many were regular students who didn't want to get involved in a battle, but did so anyway because they wanted to help. And by the end of the fight, it was just thrown out that everyone - friends and family of the students, the shopkeepers and people who lived in Hogesmeade, etc - showed up, presumably for the sole purpose of defending their loved ones and homes.
- Special mention goes to Neville Longbottom, who took up Harry's sword at the end of the seventh book, spent his seventh year fighting back against Voldemort's forces, and spent several years after school as an Auror to help finish cleaning up the mess his world had been left in...all because someone had to do it, and well, Harry wasn't around at first. After a few years of working as an Auror (presumably Neville continued to work until all the Death Eaters were rounded up), he went back to his plants and his greenhouses and became a teacher at Hogwarts.
- There are a few examples in The Dresden Files, but the most appropriate is Waldo Butters, who doesn't mind helping Harry, but ends up dragged into the world of the supernatural courtesy of the events in Dead Beat. Thomas even predicts that Waldo will freak out and abandon Harry when he really needs him. Waldo chooses to come rescue Harry instead, saving his life.
- Skeeter Jackson, of Time Scout, finds himself in medieval Mongolia. Imagine learning Mongolian, how to fight, how to ride a horse, how to use a bow, how to survive a harsh Mongolian winter, while under the strict scrutiny of the father of Genghis Khan. Now imagine doing that at the age of eight.
- Fever Series has Mac trying to find her sisters killer to end up mixed in a would-make-or-break-the-world quest that gets her brutalized repeatedly, and still perseveres, each time rising tougher.
"I hate fate. I don't believe in her. Unfortunately, I think the bitch believes in me."
- In The Hunger Games, all Katniss wanted was to keep providing for her family, never have herself or anyone she knew and loved get reaped, and hopefully make it to old age. Accidentally sparking a revolution against the totalitarian government was so not on her to-do-list.
- Not many people remember that the character of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker's Dracula was one of these. He wasn't a Vampire Hunter or even an adventurer but rather just some Dutch scholar who was knowledgeable enough about the natural world to come up with a way to defeat Dracula.
- Zagłoba in Sienkiewicz Trilogy manages to capture the enemy standard by complete accident. And boasts about it later, but that's his charm.
- John Geary of The Lost Fleet. The "heroic" act he was lauded for a century ago was basically dying bravely on the first day of what turned out to be a century-long and appallingly bloody war, but his nation needed all the heroes they could get. When Geary turns out to have spent a century drifting through space in cryosleep in a damaged escape pod, he awakes to discover that he's Famed In-Story to near-Messianic levels despite having only seen combat once before in his entire life, and then his day just gets worse from there... He ends up living up to his reputation and more or less single-handedly winning the war, also largely by accident while trying to extricate the titular Lost Fleet from Behind Enemy Lines.
- Tavi from Codex Alera was always a Badass Normal (he needed to be to even keep up with the superpowered rest of the world), but he never wanted to command the First Aleran legion. He was a very minor officer (Third Subtribune Logistica), and he was only there in the first place as a spy. And then the Canim struck the officers' tent with lightning during a meeting (to which Tavi was late), killing or permanently crippling everyone higher in the chain of command. He gets an emergency promotion and ends up leading the legion to victory. And he didn't intend to make himself immune to Canim sorcery; he just stole the bloodstone needed to do so when stealing bribe money from Lady Antillus.
Live Action TV
- The above paraphrase is from Chuck, a series about a true Badass Unintentional. Chuck actually can't wait for the government to rebuild its database so that he can go back to being just another wage-worker. However, he constantly foils numerous evil plots and often succeeds where his Badass Normal partners fail, precisely because he's a geek. In one episode he finds the codes to stopping a nuclear weapons satellite by defeating an old arcade game that only a fanboy would be able to recognize, let alone beat. Even after Character Development sets in and he decides to become a real hero and download the new Intersect into his head, he retains Badass Unintentional sensibilities.
- The heroine of the series Cover Up started out like this, literally wandering into a very dangerous area of espionage because she was trying to find out why her husband was killed, and ended up being recruited as his replacement. In the job that killed him.
- Nearly every companion in Doctor Who is a normal, unimpressive individual that when given the opportunity are capable of regularly thwarting the horrors of the universe and save lives and planets.
- Rory Williams especially. He just wanted to settle down with his wife, keep working as a nurse, maybe become a doctor, grow a pony-tail and raise a child. Now he's thwarting aliens every other day. Also, if he has need (like someone kidnapping his wife and child) he will literally change, becoming the Last Centurion, and opening up 2,000 years of memories.
- Amanda King of Scarecrow and Mrs. King is a good example of this. She's pretty much an ordinary housewife, but she can handle herself in a crisis, which is why she's chosen to partner Agent Scarecrow. She once evaded kidnappers using only the contents of her grocery bag (as I recall, a bottle of Cheez Wiz featured prominently).
- Another notable incident occurred when she and Scarecrow were framed as traitors and on the run. He commented that she had done at least as well at evasion as anyone he'd ever seen. She downplayed it, saying that it was just her neighborhood and she knows where all the fences and mean dogs are. (This only reinforces the trope, however, since a Badass Unintentional is pretty much going to HAVE to use whatever advantages they do have, since they're usually up against someone rather more powerful, at least on paper.)
- The song "Falso Toureiro" ("Phony Bullfighter"), by Brazilian artist Jackson do Pandeiro (stage name), tells us a first-person story of a guy that went to a bullfight (there are none in Brazil, mind you) and, upon the bullfighter not being there, was shanghaied into being the replacement. He's none too happy about it, as shown in his last line: "Eu mato o cabra que disse que eu sou toureiro!" ("I'll kill the guy that said I'm a bullfighter!").
- Jimmy in Bully. He just shows up at school and just tries to get people to like him, and ends up being "King of the School" because of it.
- Kurt from the MDK series of video games. He's just a janitor (not even an Almighty Janitor) who just so happens to save the universe on many occasions.
- Harry Mason of Silent Hill just wanted to find his daughter, and on the way manages to kill plenty of nasty, nasty things and even stop an Eldritch Abomination. There is a reason most fans were pissed when he was killed off-screen halfway through Silent Hill 3.
- Alan Wake is a lot like Harry Mason, except replace "daughter" with "wife". He's also on vacation at the time. Also, he wrote the story he's participating in, and thanks to the magic around Cauldron Lake, which allows artists to rewrite reality, he wrote a way out of said story as well.
- Jun Kazama from Tekken 2. She is a wildlife protection officer and pacifist but she enters the tournament to stop Kazuya Mishima smuggling endangered animals. She is an unintentional badass because she will stop at nothing to protect the animals, including sleeping with Kazuya (resulting in their son, Jin). Her badass level has increased since she was Put on a Bus, due to the Fanon that surrounds her disappearance and fans desperate for her to return.
- Haar from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. He just wants to take a nap...
- Ike, from the same game. In essence, he's out to right wrongs, but has no desire to deal with all the political baggage that righting these wrongs requires, and immediately returns to being a simple mercenary once Crimea is freed. He seems very confused at the end of the game, when people are singing his praises and treating him like a Messianic Archetype. After he had to save the world again in the sequel, Ike leaves the continent and is never seen again. This can easily be taken as him wanting to get away from all the strife and war.
- Hawke from Dragon Age II. He or she is just a penniless refugee who happens to have some talent as a warrior/mage trying to make a new peaceful life for his or her family in Kirkwall. Hawke's efforts to this end make him/her into a legend.
- And also unintentionally started a civil war between mages and the templars that guard them. Hey, being a Badass Unintentional doesn't mean everything works out for you.
- Garret from the Thief series would like nothing better than to be, well, a simple thief. The world in danger isn't his problem. Unfortunately for Garret, whatever peril The City finds itself in invariably becomes his problem, either because he's the only person in a position do stop the Big Bad or because things become personal.
- In Tales of Vesperia, Yuri Lowell started as a former Knight simply looking to live a quiet life and regain the stolen water blastia for the lower quarter. He had no idea that by the end of his adventure he would become The Hero to save the world.
- Sort of a meta-example in the Soul fighting games. There are some really cool but sadly rare moments where the randomly generated character taunts at the start of the fight match up. Here's some examples:
Raphael: "Would you like a taste of my power?"Mitsurugi: "Let me give you a taste... of my steel."Nightmare: "Your existence is meaningless!"Created Character: "Why do you choose to fight?"Siegfried: "You could never understand."Female Voice 4: "Effort and talent, they are meaningless."Female Voice 2: "What would you call true strength?"
- The player character in Dawn of the Dragons was just an ordinary farmhand enjoying an ordinary day picking ordinary turnips. Then an army of kobolds attacked, he/she picked up a pitchfork in self-defense and slew their leader. By the end of the day, he/she freed and bonded with a newborn dragon, killed an ogre and pushed it off a rooftop, and becomes recognized as the town's savior. History repeats itself when the dragonrider and a few companions get lost on the other side of the continent. By picking up a random weapon from a tomb mostly because it resembled a pitchfork, the dragonrider is marked as the The Chosen One destined to save another race from the monsters oppressing them.
- Axl Low of Guilty Gear. In a wacky future Earth where magic exists and there's assassins, samurai, demons, giants, vampires, Humanoid Abominations, little Pirate Girls and all sorts of awesome magic-slinging badasses all fighting each other, Axl is just a goofy British guy from the 20th Century who wound up being ripped away from his home and his girlfriend Megumi by a time-travelling ability he can't control nor predict. His time travel often drops him into dangerous situations, such as Nazi Germany, the Cretaceous period, and encounters with the previously listed. Despite the odds being against him, he almost always is skilled and savvy enough to get out of it unscathed.
- Goblins gives us Dies Horribly. He was named prophetically, and so lives in constant fear of his imminent horrible death. He's a Lovable Coward who really would rather live a quiet, uneventful life away from anything sharp, but circumstances force him into an adventure, and he performs many feats of badassery, usually in the process of trying to run away.
- In One Piece: Grand Line 3.5, when Sanji makes his first appearance, he's intended to just be an NPC waiter. When a confrontation between a naval officer Fullbody starts, however, Fullbody gets the first round of attack and goes for Sanji. The GM rolls a 1, which allows Sanji an Attack of Opportunity. The GM then rolls three natural 20s in a row, giving "Baratie Waiter #3" an automatic win.
- South Park: Butters is this, repeatedly. Most pronounced in his Season 15's episode "Last Of the Meheecans" where he inadvertently ends up leading a movement of Mexicans back to Mexico and being heralded by the entire nation. The episode ends with the mere raising of Butter's hands to cause a rallying cry from every Mexican in North America.
- In the "Pandemic" two-parter, Craig is a very reluctant version. He doesn't want to get dragged along with the main boys' adventure and even gives them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how no one else wants to hang out with them since they're always getting themselves into trouble. He is then revealed to be the only person who can save the world from the giant guinea pig invasion.
- Danny Phantom is also one. He was turned half-ghost by accident.
- Fluttershy pulls this on Discord of all characters twice:
- In the Season 2 premiere, Discord's plan is to Mind Rape the entire cast one by one by playing on their weaknesses and insecurities. It works on all of them except Fluttershy, who is not only is fully aware of AND at peace with both, but it actually makes her love her friends even more because they look out for her and want her to be her best. Too bad he just hypnotizes her by force instead.
- The Season 3 episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On" has Fluttershy attempting to reform Discord, which she does simply by trying to be his friend. Of course he takes full advantage of that to be a dick, until Fluttershy herself loses her patience and declares their friendship over. Hearing this makes Discord realize he's just lost the only friend he's ever had, which makes him regret everything and fix what he's done. She literally reformed one of the most powerful villains in the show unintentionally by giving up and walking away.
- George Washington. He became a Badass General and led troops in the American Revolution, but after the war ended he happily returned to life as a gentleman farmer. Then everybody hauled him out of that to make him president, which wasn't really what he wanted, but he did it anyway because he was who everyone agreed upon to lead the new infant country. As soon as his terms were up - he went back to being a farmer. It's not for nothing that he is known as "The American Cincinnatus" (see below), with the city of Cincinnati being named partially in honor of Washington.
- The emperor Claudius of Rome. A stuttering, limping, "alleged" fool, he never wanted to lead Rome, and truly just wanted to write. In a wonderful turn of irony, he wound up becoming Emperor AND surviving to old age (most Emperors got killed) precisely because he seemed so harmless. He did a good job running the country too. Oh, and conquered Britain while he was at it.
- Similarly, the story of Cincinnatus, who was given dictatorial powers in 458 BC during a war with the Aequians. He personally led the infantry (in a time when anyone of social standing was on horseback), defeated the Aequians in 16 days with minimal bloodshed, and immediately gave up his powers to return to his humble farm. And then he did this again in 439 BC.
- Sam Cowley, the Desk Jockey FBI man who killed Baby Face Nelson.
- Susan Kunhausen, who returned to her house to find a hit man looking for her. The Hit Man was unfortunate.
- Rukhsana Kauser. She and her brother, children of a local farm family personally chased away a pack of bandits who had come visiting their home in the Indian-Pakistani border.
- Major Richard Winters, of Band of Brothers fame. Major Winters led Easy Company through World War II, was hugely popular with the men, and was a natural military leader. He was also raised a Mennonite and didn't really want much more than to go home to Pennsylvania to his sweetheart and get himself a nice quiet farm somewhere.