[[quoteright:236:[[ComicBook/IncredibleHulk http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/yup-hulk-stuff-028_8110.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:236:HULK SMASH EVIL SCIENCE!]]

->''"As far as brains go, I got the [[{{Pun}} lion's share]], but when it comes to '''brute strength''' I'm afraid I'm at the shallow end of the gene pool."''
-->-- '''[[LeanAndMean Scar]]''', ''Disney/TheLionKing''

Heroes in fiction are held to higher standards of physical strength than villains, and villains are held to higher standards of intellect (or at least cunning) than heroes, (see also TheVillainMakesThePlot) which suggests that evil uses brains while good uses brawn.

This often conveys the message that DumbIsGood: the heroes are straightforward men and women of action, while the bad guys are smarter yet [[SquishyWizard squishier]], as if to imply that physical strength [[RuleOfSymbolism represents]] [[MightMakesRight moral strength]]. Occasionally, the villain is FeigningIntelligence, the hero is [[ObfuscatingStupidity playing dumb]], or the hero just holds the IdiotBall until the climax, when he passes it directly to the villain.

Since it follows that qualifications in fighting/military leadership are therefore nobler than academic ones, see {{The Good Captain}} and {{Morally Ambiguous Doctorate}}.

See also ThudAndBlunder, the subgenre of HeroicFantasy that makes gratuitous use of this trope. Contrast GuileHero and ScienceHero, who often overcome physically threatening foes with [[TheTrickster trickery]] or [[TheSmartGuy brainpower]] respectively; and EvilIsBigger, where the villain is physically superior to the hero.
!! Examples:


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Played with in ''Anime/CodeGeass'', in that stereotypical heroic character with CharlesAtlasSuperpower Suzaku is actually an AntiVillain working for the BigBad, while SquishyWizard Lelouch [[MagnificentBastard who behaves like a stereotypical villain]] is actually the show's WellIntentionedExtremist ByronicHero.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', [[TheHero Ichigo]] is an impulsive guy who goes through one NextTierPowerUp after another while the show's BigBad Aizen is a cool thinker who fights through [[BatmanGambit subterfuge]]. Well, up to the point where he too begins going through one NextTierPowerUp after another like it's hot, but unlike with Ichigo Aizen's power ups are always presented as "part of his plan".
* Manga/InuYasha. The eponymous protagonist is an unkempt, not particularly smart guy whose only strategy is to AttackAttackAttack with his {{BFS}}, while his archnemesis Naraku is an A grade ManipulativeBastard who accomplished far more with his [[EvilGenius mind]] than he ever did with his CombatTentacles. Notably, the heroes gained the ability to all but pulverize Naraku pretty soon after he showed up, but he managed to remain a significant threat until the end by [[ThePlan careful plotting]], means of a [[HealingFactor more]] [[BarrierWarrior defensive]] [[AttackReflector skill]][[MasterOfIllusion set]] and knowing when to do a [[VillainExitStageLeft strategic withdrawal. ]]
* Played with in ''Manga/{{Eyeshield 21}}'' in that both characters are technically "good guys." [[GentleGiant Kurita]] is enormous, strong, a bit dim, and one of the kindest characters in the series (just watch out for his hugs). [[ManipulativeBastard Hiruma]] on the other hand is the LeanAndMean TriggerHappy DrillSergeantNasty whose total lack of physical skills is more than made up for by his evil genius. Together, they play football.

[[folder:Comic books]]
* Franchise/{{Superman}} vs. SelfDemonstrating/LexLuthor. Superman, of course, is far from stupid, but Luthor ("a tenth level intellect") is the smartest man alive, and unlike Superman, ''can't'' solve problems through brute force.
** Also the Ultra-Humanite, the first comic-book supervillain, was designed to be the opposite of Superman, and was given "the most learned and agile brain on Earth" to contrast Superman's strength.
** While ComicBook/{{Brainiac}} is tougher than either of them, his physical might still doesn't measure against the Man of Steel and he has a twelfth level intellect, making him one of the smartest beings in the universe.
** Zig-zagged with Superman's enemy Manchester Black. Black's powers are all mental in nature, being both psychic and telekinetic, while Superman's are still physical and he largely uses his super-strength. But in terms of behavior, Black is a violent thug whose psychic powers still get used for brute force and Superman eventually defeats him with intelligence; strategically beating him at his own game.
* [[Comicbook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]] and Dr Sivana. Again, it's not that Captain Marvel is stupid, but he has the emotional maturity of a teenager and solves most problems with his fists.
* The ''Comicbook/IncredibleHulk'' and The Leader. Though some versions of the Hulk are smart. And Bruce Banner is a genius.
** Though more recent stories tend to play with Banner being a less than morally outstanding individual, himself.
** This particular usage of the trope has been called out: "You're making the argument that Strong is good and Smart is evil to a bunch of ''comic book nerds''? You don't really want to sell comics, do you?"
*** Memorably so in the Book of Ratings:
--->Kind of obvious, really. Hero: Big green dumb strong guy. Villain: Small green smart weak guy. It's not really dripping with creativity, and the moral ends up being "clever planning and logic can never win against the sheer physical brutality of a guy who barely even knows where he is." This is not a moral that your average comic book reader wants to hear.
* Somewhat inverted by ''Comicbook/SpiderMan'' who has a lot of villains stronger and less intelligent than him. (The Rhino, Comicbook/{{Venom}}, Comicbook/{{Carnage}}).
** Played straight by some of his more prominent foes (the [[ComicBook/NormanOsborn Green Goblin]] and [[ComicBook/DoctorOctopus Doc Ock]]) where they tend to edge him out in terms of brains and he edges them out in strength.
*** Though Doc Ock's Arms are actually stronger then Spider-Man overall, and actually made his debut by defeating Spider-Man in single combat. Though Doc Ock himself is indeed somewhat physically frail.
**** [[ComicBook/NormanOsborn Green Goblin]]'s raw strength in proportion to Spider-Man also varies, when originally it was equal to an ordinary man, then slightly weaker then Spider-Man, and sometimes noticeably stronger depending on the Goblin Serum used.
* Comicbook/TheMightyThor and his evil half-brother, SelfDemonstrating/{{Loki}}.
** Only in comparison to ''each other''. Loki is actually super-strong, durable, and able in combat by Earth standards. He's only weaker in that area by ''Asgardian'' standards, since the kids there are, by WordOfGod, as strong as Spider-Man. And Thor is [[GuileHero not particularly slow on the uptake, either]], he's just surrounded by too many geniuses like Loki, Comicbook/IronMan, and Odin, for it to show.
* The prequel comic to ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' reveals that this is the reason Billy decided to become a [[VillainProtagonist supervillain]] in the first place. Another one also reveals that [[SmugSnake Captain]] [[DumbMuscle Hammer]] has deeply anti-intellectual beliefs, telling kids that anyone who is "different", such as being good at math or science, is a potential supervillain and should [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop be reported to the police]].
* Averted in Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}: Ozymandias is reputed to be the smartest man in the world, but he's also more than a physical match for most other heroes. Dr. Manhattan, in turn, is the most powerful hero ''and'' a scientist too.
* ComicBook/{{MODOK}} and Comicbook/CaptainAmerica follow this trope as well. Although both are pretty smart, M.O.D.O.K. is essentially a living supercomputer. M.O.D.O.K. even mentions this trope in [[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3 MvC3]].
* In ''Comicbook/ScottPilgrim'', Scott isn't very bright but he is the "best fighter in the province" according to Kim. Gideon, on the other hand, is a genius inventor who relies mainly on mental manipulation, most notably through "The Glow." However, he has been shown to handle Scott evenly in hand-to-hand combat and actually stole the Power of Love and weakening Scott, though this was more because Gideon is a colossal jerk that way.
* Granted everyone in ''ComicBook/TheTick'' seems to have a few screws loose, but The Tick himself is most definitely Brawn=Good.
--> '''TheTick:''' My brain has always been my AchillesHeel!

* ''Fanfic/{{Stray}}'' inverts this with the main [[YaoiGuys couple]]. Adamska, who has the muscles and the combat skills, is decidedly the more morally ambiguous of the two. Hal, the skinny nerd engineer, is the NiceGuy MoralityPet. Adamska isn't a completely straightforward Evil(ish) Brawn, however, since he's a GeniusBruiser who relies more on his ImprobableAimingSkills than raw power.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* This seems apparent in Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon movies, especially the more recent ones.
** ''Disney/TheLionKing'' has the strong and noble Mufasa versus the LeanAndMean Scar, who comments on their differences in strength and intellect before even revealing his evil nature. (Said comment provides the page header).
** ''Disney/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'' has Quasimodo using his strength for usually justified (or at least well-intentioned) purposes, whereas the physically weak (and morally weak) elderly ManipulativeBastard Frollo emotionally abuses Quasimodo into an extreme of self-loathing that is in some ways comparable to being weak until he overcomes said self-loathing.
** Disney's ''{{Disney/Hercules}}'' pits sleazy ManipulativeBastard Hades against naive farmboy-ish Hercules who trades almost solely on his superstrength
** ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove''[='s=] villains include Yzma, the main villain, who is LeanAndMean but clearly cleverer than the physically-stronger AntiVillain Kronk. Its "heroes" include AntiHero Kuzko, also skinny, and [[ItsAllAboutMe profoundly self-centered]], and Pacha, a more unambiguously good character who is noticeably physically stronger and nowhere near as self-centered.
** Sort-of inverted in ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'', which has the smart Belle on the side of good and the dumb, muscle-bound Gaston as the main villain. Still, Gaston is defeated in a physical battle with the Beast, who is not particularly intelligent.
** Also inverted in ''Disney/AtlantisTheLostEmpire'', with scrawny but brainy Milo up against [[spoiler:muscley and only slightly less intelligent Rourke.]]
** Inverted with ''Disney/TheGreatMouseDetective'' as well. Basil and Ratigan are evenly matched in wits. However, Ratigan far outweighs Basil in physical abilities.
** Averted in ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', which pits a GuileHero against a ManipulativeBastard. (Aladdin does have ''some'' musculature, however.)
** Played with a good deal in ''TheJungleBook'': Mowgli is both puny and na´ve, while Shere Khan is physically imposing (being a tiger, after all) as well as a WickedCultured villain fond of using big words. But Mowgli manages to defeat him by being a FearlessFool, while Khan turns out to be a shameful coward.
** Captain Hook in ''PeterPan'' is a triple subversion: noticeably taller than Peter (and ''appearing'' larger due to the flamboyant costume he wears), but unnaturally skinny and no physically stronger in proportion. He is, however, the superior swordsman for much of the movie, and Peter usually relies on his wits to trounce him.
* WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}} vs Metro Man.
** Not a straight example. Megamind is a DesignatedVillain who's only a villain because he believes in a BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil. He would prefer to be the hero but since he couldn't top Metroman he [[ThenLetMeBeEvil chose to be the villain.]]
** [[spoiler:Inverted at the end with Megamind and Titan.]]
*** [[spoiler:Titan]] isn't as stupid as he appears, though. Not many people would've caught the [[spoiler:"Metrocity" vs. "Metro City" pronunciation]].
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'' has the burly, dim-witted panda Po pitted against the evil, scrawny but superintelligent [[EvilAlbino albino]] peacock Shen. (though when in actual combat, Shen held his own quite well).
** The original was an inversion, as the story follows Po's quest for enlightenment which gives him the upper hand against TheBerserker [[CatsAreMean Tai Lung]].
* Inverted in ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas'', which pits BadassBookworm Jack Skellington against Oogie Boogie, a rare villanous example of a BoisterousBruiser.
** That being said, the way Oogie actually fights Jack is this trope played straight, using his lair and his traps to his advantage rather than face Jack directly. We never get to see much of Jack's power, but given that he's the lord of Halloween, he might very well be stronger than he appears. Also, Oogie is clearly a DirtyCoward and a FatBastard, and extremely vulnerable due to literally being [[spoiler: a sentient swarm of disgusting bugs very patchily sewn up inside a gunny sack that promptly disperses when the sack is torn off]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Franchise/DieHard'': CowboyCop John [=McClane=] vs. criminal mastermind Hans Gruber. There's a reason it was the former {{Trope Namer|s}} of TheVillainMakesThePlot.
* In ''{{Film/Thor}}'', the cunning Loki frequently manipulates his powerful and hard-headed brother Thor.
--> '''Loki:''' Are you ever ''not'' going to fall for that?
* The ''Film/GreenLantern'' movie has lazy, irresponsible and pretty vacant Hal Jordan fighting the shy, intelligent, hard-working, under appreciated Hector Hammond.
* ''Film/TheHobbitTheBattleOfTheFiveArmies'' culminates in a battle between a well-coordinated army one one side and several bands of improvising, numerically inferior fighters whose strategy is essentially either "hold your ground" or "blindly charge the leader". Needless to say, the protagonists are part of the second group.
* The ''Batman'' films from the 1980s and '90s followed this formula for the most part, with Batman being [[MadeOfIron inhumanly tough (he survives being blown up, set on fire, and shot multiple times)]] and most of the villains (Joker, Penguin, Riddler) being [[EvilGenius Evil Geniuses]] but either pathetically short and chubby (Penguin) or [[SissyVillain so wimpy they can't effectively land a single punch]] (Joker, Riddler). However, Batman has plenty of intelligence in his own right. And ''BatmanAndRobin'' plays with this in a number of ways: Mr. Freeze is both extremely intelligent ''and'' able to physically dominate Batman on occasion; however, it's shown that without his super-refrigerated suit and a subzero environment, he becomes very weak and even near death. Also double-subverted by Bane, [[DumbMuscle who is so stupid that he can only repeat a few words he hears and has muscles on top of muscles]] - but all that physical strength is the result of a nasty steroid formula that was pumped into Bane's normally scrawny body.

* The original ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' book series. Raistlin Majere was sickly and physically weak, highly intelligent and gradually turned to evil. His brother Caramon is strong, slow-thinking and a good guy.
* [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]] regularly gets his ass handed to him by more experienced and skilled opponents, but in terms of raw magical power he actually surpasses most of them. Moments where he gets this power properly applied to a strong enemy and/or enhanced by some planning tend to be [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome crowning]] and sometimes terrifying.
** That's not entirely accurate. It's true that Harry is much more powerful than the majority of other wizards, but he also goes up against plenty of nonhuman entities that can crush him like a bug, and he usually achieves victory against them through [[XanatosSpeedChess improvisation]] and [[CrazyAwesome sheer audacity]].
** Inverted in the same author's ''Literature/CodexAlera''. [[MuggleBornOfMages Tavi]], our hero, is physically unimposing and the only person in his civilization outside of small children not to have elemental powers, meaning that his enemies tend to heavily outpower him in terms of brute strength [[spoiler: and even after he gets military training and starts developing powers, his enemies scale accordingly]]. Consequently, he has to use his brain to get out of most of his problems and is a full blown GuileHero by the second book.
** Due to CharacterDevelopment, Dresden has improved his [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] capabilities to the point where he managed to [[spoiler:[[GuileHero trick Lara Raith]], the eldest surviving and therefore most experienced of Lord Raith's daughters in terms of manipulation and deception, [[BatmanGambit into thinking she was using him to overthrow her father when he was in fact using her to get rid of the greater of two evils (or so he thought at first)]] ''and'' taking revenge on his mother's killer.]] That was in book 6. We are now on 14.
** Lara Raith, [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bitch]] supreme, admires his mind. Mab says that she admires his manipulation of [[spoiler: Molly]]. The second case in particular is one where YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame and happens to be Harry's BerserkButton.
* A prime source of AlternateCharacterInterpretation when it comes to [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Odysseus]], hero of ''Literature/TheOdyssey''. According to different sources, Odysseus' cleverness and wiliness were what set him among the greats of the Greek heroes, or else they were signs of a weak and cowardly nature too pathetic to fight like a real man.
* In ''Literature/ParadiseLost'', the rebellious angels use their brains and skill to invent guns, and turn back the loyal angels for a moment. The loyal angels respond with brute force: ripping up mountains and throwing them at the rebels. Jesus ends the fight the next day just by charging at the rebels with his overwhelming power.
* ''Literature/TheIncredibleWorldsOfWallyMcDoogle'', played for laughs in Wally's superhero stories. The hero is normally too dumb to live and forgets he even has super strength. They will often mess with the villain's machine, and make it worse. The villain will then have to fix it.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Inverted with ''Series/DoctorWho''. As Craig Ferguson put it, the one constant of the show is the triumph of "intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism".
* The selection of the two tribes during ''[[Series/{{Survivor}} Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains']]'' pre-production was geared toward this. Before the merge, the Villains won 7 out of 8 challenges on the merit of their cleverness--the only challenge the Heroes won over this stretch was an [[FlawlessVictory unprecedented 8-0 sweep]] in a purely physical, one-on-one sumo wrestling challenge.
* In the Main/MiniSeries ''Beast'' ({{Film/Jaws}} with a giant squid rather than a shark), hero Whip Darling is a brawny fisherman, while the villainous mayor is a classic bespectacled nerd--at one point, Darling even sneers at him about his "Harvard education" as though this is something to be ashamed of. Darling also sneers at him about how "you're still the same creepy little kid you always were", indicating that Darling bullied him back during their school days and has no remorse over doing so, or worse yet, protected him from bullies and now regrets doing so. All of which is presented as perfectly okay.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Most face/heel rivalries in ProfessionalWrestling play out like this with most of the drama centered around the heel cheating and tricking his way to victory against a more powerful and/or skilled babyface. Whereas a heel who's legitimately skilled gets cheered a lot of the time, the heel gets booed because the fans know he doesn't "deserve" to keep winning and are waiting until he finally gets demolished.
** Prominent examples (as heels, of course):
*** Wrestling/RicFlair
*** Wrestling/ChrisJericho
*** Wrestling/TheMiz
*** Wrestling/JerryLawler was pretty much the RicFlair of Memphis.
*** Wrestling/TripleH is a perfect example of both. As a heel, he can't win a match clean to save his life (despite being ''for years'' the most physically dominating main-eventer on the roster not named {{Kane}} or {{Undertaker}}), yet as a face, all he needs are his fists and maybe a sledgehammer in order to take out the rest of the roster.
** The standard psychology of a tag team match suggests this trope. Typically, the heel team shows more skill at actual tag team wrestling, isolating [[RickyMorton one face]] and utilizing numerous tag team maneuvers. This builds tension for the Hot Tag, whereupon the fresh babyface finally tags in and demolishes the heels singlehandedly, usually until a pinfall is broken up, all parties end up in the ring, and anything goes from there.
* Professional Wrestling also has the "intellectual heel" persona, such as Chris Nowinski, David Otunga (both RealLife Harvard graduates), Wrestling/MollyHolly for a female version, and currently, Wrestling/DamienSandow, whereas there is no real "intellectual face," since the intellectual heel will usually be wrestling a big, powerful face.
* As a heel, AJLee was arguably a good example: outrageously insane (insanity often said to be a byproduct of genius) and fond of mind games, but so petite that the larger Divas could floor her with a single punch. However, AJ made up for it by being a superior mat wrestler, relying less on strength than on systematically breaking down opponents.
* {{Christian}}. As a heel, it seemed like he could ''never'' hold his own in the ring without cheating.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Mega Man|Classic}}'' is a naive little robot who can bench-press a small building. His greatest villain is the brilliant but maniacal Dr. Wily. Then again, Mega Man has at least two benevolent scientists backing him up (one of which is Dr. Light, being Wily's equal).
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'', most of the villains are cunning, scheming, manipulative masterminds that rely on magic and trickery while the heroes are strong, courageous, stalwart warriors that charge into battle using swords. The CrisisCrossover ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'' highlights this -- aside from Garland, Sephiroth and Jecht, all of the villains fight using magic and have strategic DifficultButAwesome fighting styles, while the heroes aside from Terra are physical brawlers with BoringYetPractical attacks.
* In ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory'' we have the [[DumbMuscle idiotic but strong]] Bowser as the VillainProtagonist versus the intelligent Fawful as the antagonist.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Slightly inverted in ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' with the EvilGenius Dr. Horrible, who is actually, a nice guy when he's not doing evil things, and the superhero Captain Hammer, who is a dumb JerkJock. The prequel comic seems to indicate that brains and brawn are polar opposites here. When Dr. Horrible previously tries to inject himself with a SuperSerum made from Captain Hammer's DNA, he becomes as strong and tough as Hammer but also just as dumb. They just keep {{Megaton Punch}}ing each other until Dr. Horrible decides to go back to being smart.
** Averted with the other heroes and villains in the related comics. For example, Johnny Snow (mentioned in the show itself) is smart enough to build himself a FreezeRay, which he uses to stop the [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Evil League of Evil]], when Captain Hammer is out of town.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' : evil genius Mojo Jojo vs the girls and their super powers. Chemical X is the cause of both; think about that.
** Possibly subverted in that the girls, ''especially'' Blossom are fairly clever themselves, not to mention the (largely) harmless and ReasonableAuthorityFigure Professor Utonium.
** Inverted with Fuzzy Lumpkins, who is about as dumb as they come, and as STRONG as they come.
* Played with on ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' with [[TheHero Goliath]] (a hulking ProudWarriorRaceGuy) and [[ArchEnemy Xanatos]] (a MagnificentBastard with no superpowers). Just to read the descriptions of the characters, one would assume this dynamic to be in place, but as the show goes on Goliath repeatedly shows off his GeniusBruiser and WarriorPoet sides, while Xanatos proves to be an expert martial artist who eventually has a suit of PoweredArmor made that lets him match Goliath's physical abilities. Both hero and villain are no slouches in the brain ''or'' brawn department.
* Thoroughly mocked in ''WesternAnimation/DanVs'' season 3 finale, "Summer Camp", by making this the stated philosophy of the episode's ''villain''. The summer camp in question is run by the SocialDarwinist Mr. Tedesco, who, under the guise of "toughening up" the campers, divides them into two clans and makes them fight for a "spirit stick" which grants its clan privileges such as ''food''. Dan recognizes that his clan can't win a straight fight, so he gains the spirit stick by setting a trap with a hornet's nest. Mr. Tedesco punishes the whole clan for this, explaining that the entire point was to win through brute force--that taking the stick with cunning was "cheating". Naturally, this pushes Dan to completely destroy the camp and take down Tedesco for good.