Beware the Quiet Ones
"It's always the quiet ones, isn't it?"When most people think of The Quiet One, they may also think Extreme Doormat or Butt Monkey alongside it. Whether they are one or not (half the time they are only seen that way), subject them to one round too many of Break the Cutie and the like, and, if it isn't preceded by a Death Glare, they will give you a 'not so quiet' moment. Alice seems to be The Quiet One who keeps to herself. Bob sees her as an easy target and makes her his honorary Butt Monkey to abuse. After weeks of quietly taking this, Alice snaps. Maybe Bob pushed a certain button, maybe those anger management classes Alice used to take are starting to wear off, maybe Alice has been angry all this time, it just never showed or no one took it seriously. Maybe this is her first time dealing with anger. No matter which reason, what comes after is the same: An unleashed raging or cold speech of epic proportions that not even the most demented character in the story would want to sit through. This rage is almost always expressed verbally, though violence can also be included. Their verbal attack can differ from an ego-brusing "The Reason You Suck" Speech, a mentally scarring Breaking Speech or an emotional "World of Cardboard" Speech. If they are also The Stoic, they might also ask the offender "Did You Think I Can't Feel?" before ranting about all they have been put through. One might also catch a swear or two. Another version could be when the heroes' team is in low spirits, and The Quiet One, fed up with all the sulking, throws the table (or something else) to the side and gives a Rousing Speech to their comrades. Usually a Moment of Awesome when they are shown to finally speak up for themselves, but can change depending on the character or the setting. The main difference between Beware The Quiet Ones and its sister trope Beware the Nice Ones is while the latter is known for their kindness, the former is known for their (near) silence, though they can overlap sometimes. See also Beware the Silly Ones if they're a bit...well....strange. Compare and contrast Tranquil Fury, where the character can range from happy or stoic, but their anger is more quiet (but still dangerous). Compare Beneath the Mask, Shrinking Violet, Let's Get Dangerous. See also Rant-Inducing Slight.
—Slade, Teen Titans
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Durarara!! Mikado Ryugamine is a great example of this trope. He may seem quiet and nice, but underneath he's quite unstable. He's the leader of the Dollars, for another. You do not want to tick him off.
- Near-Invisible Canada from Axis Powers Hetalia is a good example: Butt Monkey? Check. Shrinking Violet? Yep! Giving America "The Reason You Suck" Speech? A true Moment of Awesome.
- Machinedramon from Digimon Adventure is a villainous version. Don't let his whispered monotone fool you; he's as powerful and sadistic as any of the other Dark Masters.
- Lupin the Third's colleague Goemon Ishikawa XIII barely says a word...preferfing meditation instead of jabber. Upset him or threaten his friends and he'll use his sword to slice your clothing off...or worse...before you can blink!!
- Tetsuya Kuroko from Kuroko no Basuke is a good example as well. Practically invisible, he doesn't really talk much and people don't notice him. But if you try to dirty the game of basketball through nasty tricks...
- Bertolt Hoover from Attack on Titan is a soft-spoken Extreme Doormat with absolutely dismal self-confidence. He spends much of his time lingering around the others awkwardly, and rarely offers more than a few words. He's also a highly skilled soldier, graduating 3rd in his class, and fiercely protective of the people he cares about. He also happens to be the Secret Identity of the Colossal Titan, and as such a Person of Mass Destruction responsible for wiping out 20% of the human race. While remorseful over it, he's fully prepared to do whatever is necessary to accomplish his mission. Beware the quiet ones, indeed.
- Ai Emma, the titular Hell Girl is the most reserved character in the series as her job requires her to suppress her emotions to the point where it is very difficult to make her angry... God help you if you actually succeed.
- Shiryu from Saint Seiya is a softspoken Genius Bruiser with lots of common sense and a great devotion to his Master, his Childhood Friend, his Goddess of liege and his True Companions. He also represents the Dragon constellation and wears the Dragon Cloth... and according to Shiryu himself, the Dragon is calm and wise until those he cares for are threatened/hurt/killed/etc. in any way. Guess what happens to Shiryu whenever this happens? And even more so if either his Master or Childhood Friend are the one in danger...
- Fans of Blink may not know that she was introduced on Earth-616 during the Phalanx Covenant as a very shy, introverted girl named Clarice Ferguson who was terrified of her own powers. When she finally cut loose, she killed the formerly unstoppable Phalanx unit that had been holding her and a group of other young mutants captive... at the cost of her own life. The Blink who joined the Exiles was from an alternate timeline.
- Monet St. Croix was introduced in the same storyline, and also fit the trope. She spent most of her first issue silently studying Phalanx technology until she could identify the impostor hiding among her fellow mutant prisoners. Then she hit him with a Megaton Punch and led a breakout. Even cooler than it sounds — she appeared to be catatonic at first. Turns out this was just a super-intense state of concentration, and she'd worked everything out... look out, Phalanx.
- Batgirl 2000: Cassandra Cain was originally mute, and after learning speech she doesn't talk much. That's because her dad taught her to talk with her fists. Heaven help you if you get her mad.
- Spider-Man: The Spot used to be a Spider-Man villain known for being largely ineffectual and mouthing off. Then he got trapped in the dimension he teleports through. Now he's mute, insane... and probably one of the deadliest killers alive.
- The Inhumans: Black Bolt. Whenever he utters a sound, it destroys things on a major scale. That is to say, a whisper from him is on the level of a nuke.
- X-23 rarely spoke at all in her first appearance (NYX) and origin story, (Innocence Lost) and even after is a laconic girl who generally shuns the company of others. She's also a highly-trained assassin and one of the most dangerous killers in the main Marvel Universe. God help you if you harm one of the handful of people she actually cares about.
- A Crown Of Stars: Rei was always quiet, unemotional and physically unimposing. Then she got pissed off with Asuka after a Cat Fight and destroyed a dimensional portal to prevent Shinji and Asuka from leaving their homeworld... a dimensional portal built by a god!
- Advice And Trust: Rei is a calm, collected, soft-spoken person. During the entire battle against Zeruel she acted in a determined but non-aggressive fashion. Then the Robeast tried to strike Shinji and Asuka. She went full-on berserker on its posterior, completed with glowing red eyes and furious snarls and growls.
- The Child of Love: Rei is usually tranquil, quiet and passive. Then Gendo threatened her niece, Shinji's daughter. Explosions and violence followed.
- Doing It Right This Time: Rei was calm, reserved and little communicative. Then she got sent to the past, and she was feeling suitably angry. She slapped Gendo to pay him back for mistreating Shinji and several months later tore an Eldritch Abomination apart to vent her anger.
- HERZ: Rei is usually quiet, calm and non-confrontational. Then a pack of loonies tried to shoot her niece. The cleaning crew had to scrub their remains off the walls.
- The One I Love Is: Rei was a quiet, calm Emotionless Girl seldom spoke and obeyed her Commander's orders without question or hesitation. But if something or someone threatened Shinji or her relationship with him, she became hostile and even violent... especially to Asuka since Shinji was falling for her. Her relationship with Asuka became very strained and belligerent until they got a very bitter argument and a pretty virulent Cat Fight. Although that fight ended in a stalemate Asuka noted Rei was very quiet but she could be quite savage and hit hard if provoked.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Dark Kuyumaya is very much The Stoic, rarely expressing emotion or even talking much. This hasn't stopped him from hospitalizing several bullies at Yokai Academy or going One-Man Army on a Fairy Tale squadron.
- Some Semblance of Meaning: Vale is usually The Quiet One and Shrinking Violet but don't piss her off.
- Brandon in Betray Me Not talks very little and only speaks up when it's really necessary like in the anime, but once his Berserk Button is pushed too hard, he'll turn into a Screaming Warrior, and if there's a gun nearby, he'll unload everything at you.
Films — Live-Action
- Matsu, the main character of Joshuu Sasori, has a knack for patiently and silently enduring whatever mistreatment gets thrown her way and waiting for just the right moment to unleash violent revenge on those that wronged her. This is why she is called Sasori, or "Scorpion."
- Gaear Grimsrud from Fargo. He hardly ever says a thing throughout the entire movie (something lampshaded early on by Steve Buscemi) but if provoked or put in a situation where he might get caught... well, let's just say that you don't want to be near him and a gun. Or an axe for that matter... or a woodchipper.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: After Kirk died, Spock proceeds to beat the ever living crap out of John Harrison/Khan.
- In Ghostbusters, Walter Peck shuts down the power to the Firehouse despite Egon's dire warnings that it would be like dropping a bomb on the city. This results in an enormous explosion and hundreds (possibly thousands) of ghosts being released back into New York all at once. Peck orders some nearby police to arrest the Ghostbusters, claiming they were directly responsible for causing the explosion. Egon completely loses it, screams "YOUR MOTHER!!" and has to be physically restrained from tearing Peck apart with his bare hands. Remember, this is Egon Spengler!
- Office Space: Beware Milton. Or he'll set the building on fire.
- Thor's antagonist, Loki, started as the often pushed-aside, quiet, intelligent younger brother who was given too much power at exactly the wrong time.
- The Drop has Bob, who though meek rarely gets rattled. And when he's given reason to fear for those he loves? Watch out.
- Collin in How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse
- In The Outsiders, Johnny was the most quiet and most law-abiding of the greasers but when he sees his friend Ponyboy being drowned, he stabbed and killed the attacker.
- Harry Potter: Quirinus Quirrell is the nervous, mostly unnoticed and seemingly innocent character throughout the entire novel. However, at the end it turns out that he has been possessed by Voldemort all along and has been trying to kill Harry all through the book. However, he was probably being controlled by Voldemort by this time as he had been taken over after trying to seek him out to destroy him in his weakened state, trying to earn some respect from his friends and fellow school pupils that had laughed at him for so long.
- Sherlock Holmes, in "The Three Garriedbs", when Watson is wounded. He may be calm and composed, but he tells the moron who shot his friend in no uncertain terms that if his best friend had died on him, the idiot wouldn't have left the room alive. Yeah, that's right, he wouldn't have. He also genuinely begs his friend not to be hurt and pistol whips the moron responsible.
- "Are you hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you're not hurt!"
- "By the Lord, it is well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have gotten out of this room alive." Bonus points for being awesomely sweet since it shows his protectiveness towards Watson and that he's willing to do anything for his friend's safety. Anything, at all. Don't put him in that position, okay?
- Dark Life has Pretty. Despite his name, he is not someone you want to annoy.
- Steapa from Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories. Quiet and originally believed by the protagonist to be a half-wit, he becomes an absolute killing machine in battle.
- Ben from The Leonard Regime is much more reserved than most of the other characters, bur provoking him is never a good idea.
- Roose Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire is a mid-level lord, and bannerman to the Starks of Winterfell (the "good guys" of the series). His obsessive habit of leeching himself leaves his voice very weak and whispery, so that everyone has to lean in to hear him speak during strategy conferences, and he loses the first battle he's sent to command in. Later, he betrays and personally murders his liege, King Robb, and is declared the new Lord Paramount of the North. It turns out he was working for Tywin Lannister all along, and kept over half of Robb's troops sitting on their asses for the war, later sending most of them to die in a pointless fight. Even the Lannisters underestimate him, as it turns out that after Tywin Lannister's death and the complete anarchy that falls upon the kingdoms, Bolton may be considering declaring himself the new King in the North and seceding, since the southeners wouldn't be able to do much about it anymore. Of course, the House Symbol should have been a hint.
- Theodore Sturgeon 's short SF story "Extrapolation" was originally published under the title "Beware The Fury", as in the phrase "Beware the fury of a patient man". Wolf Reger is a brilliant but aloof and antisocial scientist/astronaut and humanity's future depends on his actions. When he is captured by alien invaders , Earth's governments all think he has turned traitor. But he manages to destroy the alien fleet single-handled without even using a weapon.
- Beka Cooper, the protagonist of Provost's Dog. While she's paralyzingly shy, she's very good at chasing down criminals and fighting. (She does become less shy, but rarely chatty.) She has also been known to blow up at people who have been frustrating her over a long period of time.
- Firefly: Simon. Messing around with his sis is not a smart idea.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Giles.
- Person of Interest: Reese tends to whisper when he talks. He prefers to let his actions speak for him.
- Breaking Bad: the Cousins, a pair of assassins working for the Cartel, barely say a word in all the time they appear in the series.
- Ronnie Gardocki was by far the least noticeable or interesting member of The Shield's Strike Team originally, but by the final seasons it was shown that his quiet demeanor hid a ruthless, ice-cold professional.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock definitely. He may be The Stoic but don't screw with his captain or the ship.
- Merlin: Guinevere. Don't tick her off, don't mess with her friend, or betray her knights, or you'll get executed.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: Malcolm. Don't threaten his crew or his captain.
- Sherlock: If you don't want to get slapped by Molly, don't do drugs. Sherlock can attest to that. Really, he can. John witnessed this. And called him out on his idiocy for it. Understandable, he was an idiot for doing that.
- Sherlock might be The Stoic, and John might be very reserved, but don't mess around with them.
- Sherlock told Moriarty in no uncertain terms that if he harms any of his friends, he's pretty much screwed.
- And killed Magnussen in front of everyone.
- We all know John killed two villains and threatened death on one of them.
- "Let him go, or I will kill you."
- Also, Molly stood up for herself in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
- * The title character in William Of Orange has a nickname: William the Silent. He was called this for guarding his opinions and ever being pleasant to those around him. He later becomes the leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish king.
Stand Up Comedy
- Dane Cook had a comedy bit where he talked about heist movies invariably having that one guy on the team who is a combination of this and Psycho Party Member.
There's always that one guy on the team too, he was a last minute replacement. He's not one of the original gang. But one of the other guys vouches for him. 'No, no, dude... trust me, this guy's cool. He's solid and he's cool.' But he's not cool, is he? He doesn't really say anything ever, right? He just stands there, looks cool... and then at one point he might be like... 'Let's kill these bitches.'
- George Carlin didn't think much of this trope.
"It's the quiet ones you've got to watch." You know that one, eh? Every time you see a story about a Serial Killer on TV, what do they do? They bring on the neighbor. And the neighbor says, "Well, he was always very quiet." And someone in the room says, "It's the quiet ones you've got to watch." This sounds to me like a very dangerous assumption. I'll bet you anything that while you're watching a quiet one, a noisy one will fucking kill you! Suppose you're in a bar and one guy's sitting over the side, reading a book, not bothering anybody, and another guy is standing on the front with a machete, banging on the bar, screaming, "I'll kill the next motherfucker who comes in here!" Who are you going to watch? You're goddamn right.
- Saito Hajime in Hakuouki is the quietest member of the Shinsengumi and the one who can always be depended on to follow orders scrupulously and faithfully. He's also the most lethal swordsman of the group and practices iaijutsu specifically because it allows him to end most of his fights before his opponents know they've started.
- Played for Laughs with Mio from Little Busters!. On the surface she seems like a delicate, fragile Emotionless Girl. And indeed, her physical stats are quite low. But she's very intelligent and downright ruthless at times, such as when she takes advantage of every slight lapse in attention on Haruka's part during the newspaper fight and is able to hit her countless times, or when she performs an absolutely devastating take-down of Haruka's joke when they're only supposed to be performing a simple Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
- Kiryuu Moeka in Steins;Gate is a very socially withdrawn woman and prefers to let her text messages communicate for her instead of talking. Even when the person she's texting is literally standing right in front of her. Take a guess at what happens when you steal her phone.
- Finland from Scandinavia and the World has this moment, where he shouts Perkele 306 times after losing to Denmark in hockey.
- Yuki Sonada kind of fits this trope (more since her magical girl abilities awakened, than in her earlier appearances). That is, assuming she's not just being stereotyped as an over-emotional teenage girl.
- So do Piro and Ping, but if pushed over the edge they can be physically violent, too.
- On Strip Search, Katie Rice is absolutely the quietest person in the house, but it soon becomes clear that she's also one of the best competitors — starting when she wins two elimination challenges in a row.
- The Noob franchise has Ivy, narcoleptic and apparently not much more aware of what is going on when awake. But just try attacking one of her guildmates while turning your back to her...
- Goof Troop: PJ has occasionally gotten angry at his friend and dad, but other than that, he's quiet.
- Raven from Teen Titans may be reserved, but god help you if you really piss her off by messing with her friends. It doesn't help that she's half-demon, and destined to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
- Flora from Winx Club is sometimes thought to be a pushover because of her shy nature, hesitance to harm living things, and the nature of her powers. But time and again, she proves that nature is not so harmless, especially in Tears from the Black Willow, when the Trix hit her Berserk Button. And who wants to bet that it's messing around with her friends?
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Fluttershy is the quietest member of the mane cast, on account of being, well, shy. Then comes "The Best Night Ever". When she's avoided by the forest creatures of Canterlot... well, see for yourself. Fluttershy in "Putting Your Hoof Down." Dear Celestia.... She displayed this way earlier, in "Dragonshy" and again in "Stare Master". "Dragonshy" is the episode where the fans learned that you do not mess with Fluttershy. From Season Four, "Power Ponies" demonstrates that you wouldn't like Fluttershy when she's angry.
- Don't mess with her friends. Seriously, don't.
- Also, Celestia help you if Big Macintosh raises his voice.
- The Transformers Prime version of Soundwave speaks using others' recorded sentences (when he speaks at all), rarely ever has a major starring role... and can bash in heads with the greatest of ease, as Airachnid can attest to. He's the second-most feared Decepticon on the Nemesis, right under Megatron himself, and with good reason. Knock Out even says "Watch out for the quiet ones" to Breakdown after Soundwave curbstomped Airachnid. Wheeljack fared slightly better against Soundwave than Airachnid did. But only slightly. To put this in more perspective, Wheeljack had an easier time against Dreadwing. Soundwave is eerily silent when he fights, too. It's kinda Creepy Awesome.
- In Transformers Animated, Prowl definitely qualifies for this. He's a sleek, dark ninja who doesn't really like anyone else, prefers to sit in his tree and meditate.. but when he fights, he wins, most of the time.
- Kenny from South Park, normally both The Quiet One and The Unintelligible, certainly qualifies as of the "Mysterion" story arc. He says the most he ever does during these few episodes, and his Berserk Button is revealed; do NOT mess with his little sister.
- Arthur: Fern is very quiet, but she will go all out with revenge. She made Francine tear up (in Draw), and tricked Brain into thinking Giant worms were attacking Elwood city (War of the Worms).
- Steven Universe features Lapis Lazuli. Barely taller than Steven, she's rather withdrawn and quiet- and also a hydrokinetic Person of Mass Destruction who can lift the entire ocean at once. Her first appearance has her calmly introducing herself to Steven- and a moment later, one-shotting Garnet with a huge hand formed out of water. Later episodes have her fusing with Jasper to drag their combined form underwater in a scene that calls to mind Dragged Off to Hell.
- Hey Arnold!: One of the kids, Curly, had been waiting to be the next ball monitor, but his teacher Mr. Simmons accidentally skipped him. Curly didn't take it too well. After everything blows over Helga remarks that the quiet ones showeuld never be trusted. Curly also framed Eugene once because he'd ruined his favorite pencil.