"They do say that the weakest dogs howl the most."
like to brawl, mock authority and protocol, and will fight eagerly.
This character is just as loud and doesn't like to be ordered around. But contrary to the Boisterous Bruiser
… he doesn't really have much to back it up. He is physically (and maybe emotionally) weak but that doesn't stop him from constantly calling out those who glower at him (or so he thinks). Sure he may pick on people weaker than him, but if he happens to realize his opponent can effectively kick his ass, either he will find a lame excuse, or insist and get
his ass kicked just for the sake of form. Don't expect that to make him think twice the next time, though: the Boisterous Weakling
shows an astounding inability to acknowledge his own impotence. Even if he tries to bite, he has no fangs. Every once in a while, you'll encounter ones who do not
back down as long as they have an unfair advantage, usually in the form of weapons or a group of buddies whom they can set loose on their target.
Often Played for Laughs
. If the author likes the character enough, he may pull out a Not-So-Harmless Villain
/Let's Get Dangerous
moment or even Take A Level In Badass
Can overlap with Fearless Fool
, Miles Gloriosus
, Small Name, Big Ego
or Super Loser
. Compare Fake Ultimate Hero
and Feet of Clay
, when the character is alleged
to be strong by other people. Contrast Gentle Giant
and Cowardly Lion
. Also contrast the Smug Super
, who will usually have very good reasons to be smug, as well as the Awesome Ego
An intellectual equivalent would be Know-Nothing Know-It-All
. Compare Inferiority Superiority Complex
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Anime & Manga
- Harry from Home Alone. His partner Marv wishes he could be this, but he's not that threatening even on a superficial level.
- A perfect example of this trope is Wimp Lo from Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. He constantly taunts the actual hero, getting beaten up easily and unable to do even the simplest combat move. According to Master Yang, Wimp Lo is "an idiot who was trained wrong on purpose, as a joke". He thinks getting kicked in the crotch is "my crotch to your foot style", as an example.
- 'Ol' Cigaret' in Emperor of the North is always boasting about how he's the toughest hobo riding the rails, but the real veteran 'A-No. 1' has his number right from the start. At the end of the movie, he's so fed up with Cigaret's bragging that he just picks him up and throws him off the train into a lake.
- Ike Clanton in Tombstone is a loudmouth who starts several gunfights, but he's always the first to fall or flee despite his bravado. The obnoxious, bullying casino employee at the beginning, played by Billy-Bob Thornton, is another example.
- When "Happy" Hogan and the Black Widow infiltrate Ivan Vanko's hideout in Iron Man 2, Happy comes off as this in comparison to the more skilled Natasha.
- Ash Williams plays this part throughout much of Evil Dead 2 and some of Army of Darkness, but by the end of each film, he's become the catchphrase-tossing, boomstick-toting badass we all know and love.
- Captain America: The First Avenger's Steve Rogers before he gets the super soldier serum. Even as a 98 pound weakling, Steve never backs down from bullies which is part of why he gets picked for the serum.
- There is a joke about a small animal (told in Russia about a hedgehog) standing and shouting "I am strong! I am strong". A passing bear gives it a kick. The hedgehog flies a few meters, stands up, brushes itself off and shouts "I am light, but strong!"
Live Action TV
- For a while in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this was Xander's role, thanks largely to his becoming Overshadowed by Awesome but still insisting on joining in the battles.
- An even better Buffy example might be Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, at least before he Took a Level in Badass in the Spin-Off Angel. Even there, it took some time for him to become as formidable as he initially thought he was.
- In Lie to Me, Cal Lightman is thwarted at any bit of assault toward him. He is occasionally battered.
- The boyfriend of Taylor Swift from the I Knew You Were Trouble video.
- In professional wrestling, this is thrown around a lot with heel characters. While how pathetic they actually are varies, almost all heels are cowards to some extent and tend to suffer some mild Badass Decay when they make a Face-Heel Turn. A very common running concept is for a heel to mouth off and boast at a face about how he is going to kick the latter's ass, only to be quickly knocked down or sent running when the face decides they've heard enough. Even legitimately dangerous current faces such as Kane and Randy Orton had to pay their dues this way. Chris Jericho and The Miz are key modern examples (even if they prove to be more than all talk on occasion).
- Spike Dudley and AJ Lee are more literal examples, with Spike (usually) being the heroic variant.
- Sir Andrew Aguecheek from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. According to Maria, he loves arguing so much that the only thing saving him from an early grave is the fact that he's a coward. Sir Toby gets a kick out of urging him to write a highly insulting challenge for a duel, then feeding him false information to the effect that his opponent is a skilled and ruthless swordsman. (In reality, his opponent is the local Sweet Polly Oliver, and Toby is intentionally setting up a Wimp Fight for his own amusement.)
- Dan Hibiki from Street Fighter likes to boast about how strong he is and invites people to learn martial arts from him. While he may be a skilled fighter to a normal person, he is very weak when compared to the rest of the cast.
- Sir Prancelott of Scufflewick in Drakensang always talks about his wondrous deeds.... except that he's the biggest egotist in Aventuria, his sword skills are useless, he can barely hold his own against a wolf and runs away from some goblins (later claiming that he was taking their attention away from you) and the only time he tries to take on a Linnworm (huge multi-legged reptile), he's knocked unconscious by the beast's breath.
- Von Kaiser in both of his appearances in the Punch-Out!! series.
- In Mother 3, the Mole Crickets are an entire species of this, at least until their champion is defeated with ease by the protagonist.
- Naoe Kanetsugu the INVINCIBLE from Sengoku Basara. He's the games' official Chew Toy Joke Character who is about as endurable as your average mook (and is in fact a retextured generic officer), but that doesn't stop his boasting.
- Qing China from Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun. Huge population and equally enormous armies to draw on, as well as a huge territory to conquer, but they're technologically backwards with a mostly agrarian economy, and their government is quite poor as well. So, in any actual war, an equivalently-sized industrial superpower like the United States or The British Empire will roll them rather easily. The Opium Wars come to mind.
- In a similar vein, the Ottoman Empire. It starts out as a Great Power, up there with France, Britain and the US, but it's highly illiterate and conservative population often refuse to move forward like the rest of Europe and eventually they become pushovers. They act like a Great Power from beginning to end, however, which is potentially hilarious.
- Self-proclaimed "strongest in Gensokyo" Cirno from Touhou Project, a stage 2 boss on a good day and a stage 1 miniboss on a bad one (in a game that usually has seven stages). Not entirely a "weakling" (considering that she is a fairy), but not hot stuff by any means either. Fans will often take this Up to Eleven and make her even weaker than she is depicted in canon.
- Lucifer in Umineko no Naku Koro ni is acting like the boss of the Seven Sisters Of Purgatory and often scolding them (as the eldest sister), but she is actually the weakest among them and is painfully aware of it. Leviathan outright calls her a "blusterous weakling" after she loses against Kanon.
- In Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Captain Hammer is perfectly happy to beat up nonpowered folks, he's not actually that talented a fighter, continually lets his enemies escape, and once he's actually injured he becomes a blubbering mess.
- Well, said injury came in the form of an exploding death ray - it's just that Captain Hammer was such a Boring Invincible Hero that he'd never actually felt pain before. He's seen in the end-credits laying on a therapist's couch crying about the physical trauma blithely ignoring the death of his girlfriend.
- One of the reasons Scrappy-Doo is the trope namer for The Scrappy is his habit of picking a fight with vilains obviously stronger than him.
- Eric Cartman talks a big game, but when it comes to actual combat, he usually can't follow through. In one notable example, one mild slap from Kyle sends him crying to his mom.
- Daffy Duck, despite being a self proclaimed "craven little coward", has a tendency for flapping his big beak about his bravado and smarts and trying to place himself in the role of The Ace, usually literally getting in the face of someone way out of his league.
- Dermott in The Venture Bros. talks about fighting much more often than he actually fights, but it's been demonstrated that when actually challenged, he has no hand-to-hand capabilities whatsoever. Even Dean can beat him.
- Small dogs fit this trope.
- Mike Pendergast, who (along with his brothers) ran the infamous Pendergast political machine in Kansas City just after World War I, was both this and a Fighting Irishman of sorts. He was so skinny that he had to wear both suspenders and a belt to hold up his pants, but he loved to antagonize the rival faction in the city, even though they were fellow Democrats. He had a habit of picking fights with large gangs of rivals and then receiving a severe beatdown, the satisfaction of having gotten his assailants to lose their temper being good enough for him.
- Christian Weston Chandler, creator of Sonichu, often tries to pick fights. However, given that he has no fighting skill and the muscle content of a toddler, he obviously can't back up his threats.