My beloved monster is toughThe big, burly, super macho guy who is nothing but a stack of muscles is pretty much a brick, right? Not so much. True love or a sweet, touching moment reveals what a big softy he really is under all that hard muscle. Hands that can smash through walls effortlessly now rise to hide the Tender Tears, or remain stoically at his sides as he weeps Manly Tears. Thugs will limp away nursing cuts and bruises from his mighty fists. Children and small cuddly animals will simply treat his great ham hands like cozy furniture to snuggle up in. Enemies will flee from his mighty roar or battle cry. But he will sit still and quiet if a kitten curls up on his chest purring, and he'll let her stay as long as she pleases. Some of the bruisers have no embarrassment at having a soft center, but others will instantly try to cover it up; or matter-of-factly inform their companions that "if you tell anyone this happened, I'll deny it"; still others will ensure the silence of those who witnessed their soft heart showing with threats. While this trope tends to trend mostly male, females are not exempt from being bruisers with soft centers. This trope also tends to trend mostly heroic, but the occasional villain will also prove he's not made of stone by showing his soft side amongst a trusted few or in private. This is a trope with a lot of neighbours: Compare with Gentle Giant, Genius Bruiser, Real Men Wear Pink, Morality Pet, and Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Even a Papa Wolf can turn soft when he's around his children. Super Trope of Emotional Bruiser.
If she wants she will destroy you
But if you lay her down for a kiss
Her little heart it could explode."
If she wants she will destroy you
But if you lay her down for a kiss
Her little heart it could explode."
— Eels, "My Beloved Monster"
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Anime and Manga
- Apachai Hopachai from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is the embodiment of this trope. A hulking man who is psychologically incapable of ever holding back his incredible strength in a fight... but is also one of the kindest people you'd ever meet, and spends his free time either playing with children in the park or feeding birds. He is very popular with both.
- Kuwabara from YuYu Hakusho is willing to do anything for Eiikichi... his kitten.
- Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star is not afraid to hug children and shed Manly Tears (or even Tender Tears) from time to time.
- This actually becomes a plot point near the end of the main story, as Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique, Musou Tensei, can only be used by those who know sadness, which in the story is tied to love.
- Raou attempted to take a shortcut on that — thus letting him stay a "Bruiser with a Hard Center" — by killing the woman that Kenshirou loved, intending for the act to impart knowledge of sadness and love onto him. Thank gosh he was interrupted by her coughing.
- Finding out that Yuria is dying BECAME the shortcut.
- Though not explicitly stated, this was pretty much why Yuria loved Kenshirou over Shin and Raou in the first place.
- This actually becomes a plot point near the end of the main story, as Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique, Musou Tensei, can only be used by those who know sadness, which in the story is tied to love.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Buccaneer is a tall and burly guy with a chainsaw arm, but in one notable scene, gets Cuteness Proximity when Winry starts squeeing over his automail and acts gently toward her. Then he punches Ed out of jealousy.
- Scar is a stoic Church Militant, but has a love of cute things, namely cats and Mei Chang and her pet panda (which everyone in the show thinks is a cat).
- There's also Sig Curtis, a rather large gruff man, but he and his wife are often Sickeningly Sweethearts.
- Major Alex Louis Armstrong, on the other hand, is all soft center. And ham. (Heck, he could be a contender for the page image.)
- Bleach: Chad is so tough, he was Made of Iron long before his powers manifested into Super Strength. As a young child, he used to be a bully, until his grandfather corrected his behaviour into someone who uses their great strength to protect. Now he has no trouble admitting he's a tough, physical fighter who won't hurt a fly, and he's not afraid to cuddle soft toys in public... much to Kon's chagrin.
- Trowa Barton from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a Genius Bruiser, excellent acrobat and master spy, as well as a thoughtful Sugar and Ice Personality and one lube away from being Yaoi Guys with Quatre Raberba Winner.
- Heiwajima Shizuo in Durarara!! is universally accepted as the strongest man in Ikebukuro, described at one point as "violence in human form," but he's actually a quiet sort who dislikes violence and hates his own hair-trigger temper, and doesn't want to hurt anyone (except for Izaya).
- Edward Newgate, aka Whitebeard from One Piece. An absolutely enormous man of incredible power and impossible toughness. When he is stabbed by a turncoat subordinate, he looks for a moment like he's about to reach out with his massive hands and rip the man apart. Instead, he kneels down and gives a tender hug to the much smaller man, and forgives him for his foolishness.
- Also from One Piece is Franky the cyborg. At first, he seems a rough, tough, flashy, barely-clad punk, but then you learn his back story. Behind the brusque Made of Iron exterior is a man with quite a heart, and he can show this in rather unusual ways. Such as his old gang, the Franky Family. He took a bunch of backstreet punks, drifters, even a couple bottle fairies and gave them a purpose in life. In return, they genuinely love their "big bro" for seeing something in them no one could. He stole a bunch of money from the Straw Hats, then they learn it was to buy some rare but very tough wood to use to build a Cool Ship magnum opus, but after seeing the Straw Hats rescue Robin and after seeing their old ship carry herself beyond her limits to rescue them before finally giving out, he realizes there's a lot of heart in this crew, so he dedicates the ship to them, eventually joins them, and then builds a landing craft in the image of their old ship. He's also voluntarily built an elaborate memorial to Brook's old crew, the Rumbar Pirates, and fixed a derelict ship to give some newfound friends a way home.
- Gian from Doraemon, pretty much in its movies.
- Sha Gojyo from Saiyuki. Foul-mouthed, skirt-chasing, iron-pumping bundle of muscle and bravado who is an absolute pushover for lost kittens, frightened kids having been an abused child himself, and women with hard-luck stories. It's stated that women in tears remind him of his stepmother, but beyond that, he's just a kind-hearted guy. In a flashback story in Burial, he agrees to be held hostage in exchange for an old friend he knows perfectly well is just going to run out on him, because he has to give the guy a chance. After rescuing him, an amused Hakkai comments: "You make a terrible villain."
- Uozumi Jun from Slam Dunk. He may be a hot-blooded trash talker on the court, but he breaks into tears when he realizes he can't play basketball with his team anymore.
- Pokémon: Dawn's Mamoswine in the "Diamond and Pearl" anime series is all about this once he reaches his final stage. He acts all gruff, ignores his trainer for a while, and becomes The Berserker when angered (or when Dawn denies him/is short on Poffins). Yet he's definitely caring and protective towards his trainer and friends (especially after mellowing out), becomes putty whenever food is in question, and steadily shows fascination with Contests. Yet true to being of the emotionally repressed variety, he tries (initially) to deny all this.
- Latios of Pokémon Heroes is a Legendary Dragon who introduces himself by tackling Ash and Pikachu and shows no signs of backing down when they accidentally stumbled into the Secret Garden. After the others showed it's a misunderstanding and that they didn't mean to intrude, he gives Pikachu an affectionate lick and while playing with his beloved little sister Latias, allowed him to ride on his back and join in on the fun.
- Moss from Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. Despite being the heaviest and most powerful dog in his pack, he's a Gentle Giant when it came to puppies.
- Sentaro of Sakamichi No Apollon At first he may come off as a high schooler that likes to beat up bullies. It's so that he can protect those that're dear to him.
- Reiner Braun from Attack on Titan. He's Hot-Blooded, built like a linebacker, ranked 2nd in his class, and is considered one of the biggest badasses around. He's also the Team Dad, looked up to by everyone as their surrogate big brother, and casually reveals that he's gay. Being The Mole, this ends up biting him in the ass.
- Between Heaven And Hell: Narumi is a voluptuous Badass bordering on Charles Atlas Superpower in how she pulled a Flash Step from one end of the room to another than chained a series of wrestling moves on the protagonist all the way into her room where she seemed primed to kill him for doing her mom and trying to do her 14-year-old that's he's supposed to just tutor. One blind grab of her big tits later and her Deredere side comes out as just being lonely/jealous at being overlooked. Coitus Ensues and she's ironically a total pushover in the sack he compares to Jekyll & Hyde.
- Makoto Kino / Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon is a tall, brawny girl with almost inhuman physical strength, a reputation for brawling, and zero tolerance for those who pick on her loved ones. She is also very warm, accommodating, and encouraging towards people she likes, and the Senshi refer to her as their surrogate older sister, as do some kids she helps take care of at a daycare. Also, she's emotionally vulnerable due to her past romantic fallout, being a social outcast, and the death of her parents, and is a bit of an easy crier. Her dream is to get married to a man she can care for, and own a flower shop or a bakery.
- Dragon Ball
- Android 16 is one of the bigger character in the series, is nearly emotionless, lives to kill Goku, and is the strongest of all the androids outside of Cell. One of the first signs that 16 is more than just a killing machine, he loves to play with animals. He goes against Cell because he is an enemy to all living things.
- Goku to an extent. Goku has the physical body of a Greek god and is one of the strongest characters in the universe. He also one of the softest with his love of animals and life in general. This trait also carried over to his sons once they becomes men.
- Future Trunks. He comes from a Bad Future and is the most merciless of the main characters who aren't anti-heroes. He also has a soft spot for animals and is often seen playing with squirrels when relaxing.
- The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing of Fantastic Four fame is very gentle and delicate with his love, Alicia. The Thing is also like this to practically every kid that thinks he's the coolest hero. Especially with kids who think he's cooler than the Human Torch. The Thing also has a special place in the Marvel superhero community as possibly the most widely befriended hero ever, much like Superman or Nightwing from DC.
- We have Marv, from Sin City, whose entire story gets kicked off when a hooker showed him some love and kindness and gets murdered, causing him to go on a quest of revenge. This man can snap you in half with his bare hands.
- Archie Comics: Moose, with Midge. In fact, just Moose in general. He's bad news for Riverdale's opponents on the football field, but he's pretty nice to his classmates ... unless he thinks they're flirting with Midge.
- The Incredible Hulk has been known to cuddle kittens and bunnies, and as seen in the page image, is also good with other animals and children, Depending on the Writer. Notably, one of SHIELD's plans to calm him down is putting him in the same room with a bunch of puppies.
- Marvel gods Thor and Hercules can fall in here too. Thor has a huge soft spot for children; in one of his newest series, he goes to a faevala in Rio to give the impoverished kids a hearty meal of space melons, elf chocolate and a haunch of roast dragon. As for Hercules, he deeply loves his cuddle toy Amadeus Cho, even tearfully admitting that he murdered his wife and children out of jealousy (not madness like the myths depict) in order to convince Amadeus to go down an ultimately self-destructive vendetta. Hercules also loves striking friendships with fellow immortals because it hurts him deeply to have to keep watching his mortal friends die off.
- Defied by Huntress in the 2010 Birds of Prey comic. "Just don't expect the marshmallow center."
- Superman. Possibly the most sensitive and emotive mainstream hero out there, despite being the definitive brick. This is often contrasted with the more Proud Warrior Race Guy personality of Wonder Woman, another Justice League member who is (Depending on the Writer) around as strong as he is.
- Batman is stacked like a brick wall, almost always ready to kick villain ass, and many people see him as a cold mofo (even some of the heroes). And yet his primary concern is always the safety of the innocents, be they in Gotham City or wherever he sets foot. He even has his moments every once in a while.
- Starfire is a hot-headed warrior princess who can brutally kick the ass of almost any evil doer, but she's as gentle as a lamb with her friends and innocents.
- Strong Guy of X-Factor - in a session with Doc Samson he reveals that his wit and banter are how he copes with tremendous, constant pain, both emotional and physical.
- Child of the Storm has a few, notably canon examples Hulk and Thor - the former is the Strongest One There Is, yet is also compulsively protective of children, referring to Harry Potter/Thorson as 'Little God' and notably calming down when he's around. The latter can go toe to toe with the former and can destroy planets in the midst of Unstoppable Rage. He also enjoys snuggling with his brother and son.
- Harry himself shoots up height wise, gaining a bit of muscle and by chapter 70, enough raw power to blow up a reasonably sized mountain. He, like his father, is a Cuddle Bug who likes nothing more than snuggling up to loved ones and is generally a sensitive and emotive person, taking care to be kind to those smaller and less advantaged than he is.
- Carol Danvers is less obvious about it, but despite being a Hot-Blooded top class athlete with borderline superhuman physical abilities whose primary close combat strategy is to use a combo of speed and brute force to beat her opponent into submission and it turns out that there's nothing borderline about them following chapter 60 - her great-grandparents are Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter and she inherited the super soldier genes. She also instantly defaults to playing Cool Big Sis to first the lost Mattie Franklin, then later Diana, both of whom are much smaller than she is though Diana could tear her in half, proving prone to protectively cuddling the latter. She also gives Harry a hug and a You Did Everything You Could speech in chapter 72 - mixed in with some affectionate snark, mind you.
- Last Child of Krypton:
- Shinji -who in this story is Superman- fits this: he can punch a hole through a mountain and has beaten thugs and giant aliens... and he is a nice, kind, caring boy who cares about everyone and is always willing to give a hug and a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech to whoever is crying or upset.
- Asuka also fits this after her Character Development and her powers' awakening helps her to stop being frightened of displaying her softer, kinder side.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Being Supergirl, Asuka is easily capable to bring down a skyscraper with her bare fists. Throughout her super-heroine career she also learns to let her nicer, warmer side out and be more compassionate and more caring. So, she may be beating a thug and the next minute helping a girl to find her kitten.
Films — Animated
- Vlad the brawny vulture from Horton Hears a Who! is tough and evil, but apparently redeems himself on being touched by Horton's noble defense of the Whos and his forgiveness of the Sour Kangaroo.
- Big blue scaremaster Sully of Monsters, Inc. has a soft spot for Boo, falling in love with her when most of his kind have been taught to regard small children with terror.
- The Incredibles: Robert "Bob" Parr aka Mr. Incredible is tough as nails against anything Syndrome can throw at him except the possibility of losing his family. The mere thought reduces him to being barely able to speak.
- Young MacGuffin from Brave is a gigantic bruiser who can break a hunk of wood with his bare hands and uses a bench as a weapon during a Ballroom Blitz. He's also a very sensitive guy who only wants to impress his dad. In the scene where it seems Elinor has lost her mind to the spell that turned her into a bear, he's visibly and earnestly weeping.
- Wreck-It Ralph, from the movie of the same name, is nine feet tall, weighs 643 pounds, and demolishes a brick building with his fists for a living. He's also a kind and sensitive guy who just wants some positive attention from his co-workers instead of the usual fear and loathing. And he pretty much becomes a surrogate father to Vanellope, who just melts his heart.
- Tangled: The customers at the Snuggly Duckling look like a tough, brutish crowd, but when Rapunzel talks about having a dream, they break into a musical number about their dreams, like being a concert pianist or a flower arranger. Vladimir, the biggest, most intimidating of the lot, collects tiny ceramic unicorn figurines.
Films — Live-Action
- Sonny from The Godfather, despite being known for his explosive temper, is a loving if unfaithful husband and father who cares about his family and friends deeply.
- Godzilla. Big, powerful, city-destroying monster and a loving and very protective father. In fact, it's the death of his son that causes the normally tough-as-nails Godzilla to mourn in grief.
- And, of course, there's the "Friend To All Children" himself, Gamera.
- Hellboy: a massive red demon with a huge stone hand prophesied to bring Armageddon... a big softie who absolutely loves kittens and will fight monsters to protect them.
- TRON is a very sweet guy, despite being the biggest badass in Cyberspace. He is visibly shaken and upset when he thinks that Flynn and Ram were killed, and hangs his head sadly when informed He Didn't Make It. With an urgent call from Alan at stake, what does he do? He goes to find and free Yori (and if you factor in that Deleted Scene, have a "private" moment back at her home). In the sequel? Twenty years of brainwashing is overridden with The Power of Friendship. And his Kingdom Hearts version celebrated the team's victory with hugs all around.
- Daniel Craig's incarnation of James Bond. Cynical, ruthless, doesn't give a damn whether his martini's shaken or stirred (at first, anyway)...and he's also a clear-cut Broken Ace.
- Star Wars:
- X-Men Film Series: Wolverine is near-invincible in a fight and he can be very ill-mannered in social situations, but deep down, he's actually quite sweet and caring. Those who are lucky enough to see his softer side include Rogue, Jean Grey and Charles Xavier. Although there's a part of Logan which will always be "wild," the Phoenix points out to him that Professor X has succeeded in "taming" him.
- Lenny from Of Mice and Men is an inversion. Mostly soft spot and a bruiser who doesn't know his own strength to the point he kills the animals he cherishes.
- Bruce from the CHERUB Series; although he seems to be a hardcore martial arts fan with a thing for blood and gore, he still goes to bed with his little blue teddy.
- Great, lumbering Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter is more soft spot than bruiser unless you make him mad, in which case the ratio switches over. Unfortunately he's enough of a bruiser and can effortlessly No-Sell so much that he has a hard time keeping track of the difference between "harmless to Hagrid" and "harmless to children", which causes certain hiccups in his teaching career.
- Project NRI has Scarlach "Carl" Platzchen, the muscular, 17-year-old, cookie-baking teenager.
“Who...” The room was dead silent. He opened up his suitcase. Everybody dreaded what he was intending to pull out. He yanked the item out, and the crowd simultaneously winced at the action. It was... a bag of homemade cookies. “...wants cookies?”
- In Oz, no one fits this like Nick "the Tin Man" Chopper. He was cursed to become tin because he was determined to earn enough money to support his fiancee and get her away from the Wicked Witch. He rusted himself crying over crushing an innocent insect. Threaten harm to an innocent or to one of his True Companions? The axe comes out, and he becomes the scariest fighter in the land.
- Bagheera in The Jungle Book is feared more than Shere Khan in the jungle, but he loves Mowgli dearly, even more than Baloo does. (The Disney movies invert these roles.)
- Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein is hinted to be this: all he wants to do is love humans. However, since everyone views him as a grotesque, hulking monster, everyone is scared of him and either runs away or attacks him on sight. When he hides in the shed of a family for several chapters he explains that he feels love and compassion for them; too bad that when he reveals himself to the family, they immediately attack him and drive him away. Over the course of the book, he begins to hate all humans, but still ambivalently wishes to help them, such as when he saves a girl from drowning in a stream.
- Caldris in Red Seas Under Red Skies has been through several wars and will kill you for even mentioning Camorr. Just don't come between him and the kitten he keeps around "just for luck."
- Skeeter Traps from Chronicles Of Magic is a tough, bloodthirsty little girl with a disturbing love of guns. However, she is also the one who is most willing to sacrifice her life for complete strangers and even cries when she believes her new friend has been killed.
- Codex Alera: Varg is considered big, tough and dangerous by his people (who are wolf-men and average eight feet tall) and is also a genius-level strategist, skilled ludus-player and student of military history. Varg is old, grizzled, covered in scars and once tore a political rival's throat out with his teeth. However, whenever his grandkids are around, his facade drops completely and he gladly becomes a combination of play-wrestling partner, storyteller and climbing apparatus.
- Star Wars Legends contains the novel Shatterpoint most of which is dedicated to showing just why Mace Windu is a Memetic Badass. He's also a Friend to All Children, and a genuinely good man.
Mace Windu: If it were up to him, no one would hurt anyone. Anywhere. Ever.
Live Action TV
- Angel: Ah, Angel. Brooding, angsty vampire trying to fight the good fight, within LA and himself. Who'd ever think that he dug Mandy and Barry Manilow, or had a fear of dancing (yet a secret desire to, despite how awful he is at it)? Or, y'know, go on about how much he loves Buffy when pretending to be drunk?
- John Casey from Chuck. We've had Flash Backs with some of his past.
- D'Argo from Farscape. He generally has two moods, angry and weepy.
- Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer immediately establishes himself as this. He comes crashing into town with a bad reputation and a badass flair, shows up at the lair of the Anointed One offering to kill the Slayer... then looks on with concern and goes to wait on his Ill Girl girlfriend when she tries to come in with him.
- Game of Thrones: Blackfish Tully is one of the biggest hardasses in Westeros, but he's actually a really good guy who would never actually hurt his nephew.
- Coach Shannon Beiste from Glee is a rare female example.
- Dean Winchester from Supernatural. He may swear like a sailor, go hard on the liquor and sex, and be able to take on monsters and psychos with little problem, but he's got a soft spot for kids, his family, and Castiel. In addition, the character Tiny, a very large prisoner who is sensitive because of an abusive father, is seen in the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural.
- Like his tin counterpart, Wyatt Cain from Tin Man crosses this with Heartbroken Badass. The man is a scary-good fighter both in hand to hand and with his pistol, but his cold facade breaks down in a hurry when asked to do the honorable thing, or when he senses someone needs protection. At the end, he is almost on the verge of tears warning DG that she will have to face her sister alone.
- Merlin: He doesn't get a lot of fleshing out, but the hulking, muscular Sir Percival is quite a sweetie. This is epitomized when he risks his life to save three children.
- Seth from 9 Chickweed Lane is a ballet dancer who looks like a linebacker but is a low key gay man and a hopeless romantic who went to some effort to get Edda and Amos together.
- The Big Show openly cried when he accidentally knocked over AJ Lee, nearly breaking her neck, during a match with her boyfriend Daniel Bryan. He was more visibly devastated than anyone else, and later regretted his days of not getting to play with other children when he was a boy because everyone considered him too dangerous were apparently not behind him. During his face days, he also gave his hat to someone on the way out to the ring. That someone is typically either a kid there because of the Make-A-Wish foundation, or a member of the U.S. armed forces, who the WWE shows appreciation for by giving them seats near the action.
- Sig from Jak and Daxter, at the end of Jak II, reminiscing about his childhood:
"Poopsy bear? Buddy, you just ruined your image."
- According to the character backgrounds Brick from Borderlands motivation is to find his missing sister. Also, despite the fact that he has a $9,999,999 bounty on his head for murder and dismemberment of anything that moves, he just adores puppies Between the events of the first and second games, Hyperion forces capture him with the help of a traitor. According to the "Sheriff" who caught him, he broke down sobbing after she killed his puppy... before breaking loose and brutally murdering the traitor with his bare hands.
- In The World Ends with You, Beat is Dumb Muscle with a soft spot for his sister Rhyme.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Leliana often comments that Sten is a 'softy' as she finds him picking flowers (which he excuses as 'medicinal') and playing with a kitten (he claims he was training it), although this is never seen by the player. He also comments about how great cookies are.
Wrex: SHEPARD! MY FRIEND!
- BioWare has a long and lovely tradition of these guys. Just check out Minsc. BIG guy, scary in a battle situation...turns into absolute mush when it comes to his beloved hamster. There's also Zaalbar. Two meters and change of walking fur and empty stomach that's a surprisingly sweet guy, and right behind his little Twi'lek buddy when it comes to sticking up for you after The Reveal. Shame on you Dark Side players!
- Aveline takes this role in Dragon Age II. She's the toughest guard captain Kirkwall has ever seen, but has a tendency to melt when Donnic is in the same room.
- And Cassandra takes this role in Dragon Age: Inquisition, an incredibly resilient warrior who kicks down brick walls in gameplay, can knock a qunari warrior on his ass, and comes from a long tradition of hunting dragons, is secretly a hopeless romantic.
- Wrex in the Mass Effect series is mostly angry and bitingly sarcastic, but he does have the occasional emotional moment (the end of his personal quest in the first game and his reunion with Shepard in the second, especially). The latter moment is rather like The Eeyore going Squee. By 3, if you've done everything you can to work with him, he is incredibly happy to tell you that even if everything goes to hell and the genophage cure doesn't work, he considers you a blood-sibling and will make sure that every krogan for the rest of time knows your name.
- Jack in Mass Effect 2 is a prime example. If she makes it to the third game, she starts teaching a squad of biotic students at Grissom Academy. Then Cerberus tries to kidnap them. Big mistake.
- Heck, Renegade!Shepard him/herself has got a few softer moments.
- Grunt is mostly a Blood Knight who is built like a truck, but upon seeing his Parental Substitute Shepard when they reunite in 3, he shoulder-barges past his squad to give Shepard a bear-hug. If you sacrifice the Rachni Queen/Breeder, he will even send you a cheery but poorly spelt drunken email about how he's got his entire elite company of currently-inebriated krogan warriors chanting your name.
- Potemkin from Guilty Gear looks very nasty and intimidating, but likes drawing and tries to avoid pointless fighting.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
- Eikichi Mischina from Persona 2 is quite the thug, but proximity to Lisa Silverman will reveal his softer side fairly easily, as both know each other's Berserk Buttons and are friendly enough with each other to regularly mash them for light teasing. For all his tough image, he is a strict Bully Hunter and protects students of his school quite ferociously. Even those who have personally moved against him.
- Foul-mouthed, unapproachable tough guy Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3 turns out to have a well-hidden soft center, hinted at in the main game but put on full display in the female protagonist's route in the portable version of the game.
- Persona 4 introduces Kanji Tatsumi, who embodies this trope and takes it to its logical conclusion - his "Bruiser" side was built around his insecurity regarding his soft side, which he was mocked for mercilessly, making him feel like a disappointment to his late father. This contrast, along with his desperate attempts to hide his "girly" traits, has made him sexually insecure and extremely defensive regarding his masculinity, causing him to be further shunned by others. Naturally, he gets better with the help of the protagonist, and the Golden Ending shows him toning down his "tough guy" antics and getting more in touch with himself.
- Beyond Good & Evil: Mildly demented Double H comes across as strictly military most of the time, always quoting his training manual...right up to the point where he starts repurposing those trite quotes into ways of saying, "Dude, I'm here for you. No matter what."
- Final Fantasy
- Snow Villiers from Final Fantasy XIII . He's big, muscly and punches monsters twice his size square in the face! He also has a Badass Adorable girlfriend note that he dotes on and can take punches from the bad guys just as well as he can give them.
- Kimahri Ronso from Final Fantasy X plays this role; the tallest party member, who is usually cold and aloof - to the point that the main character thought he was mute until he spoke up for the first time. His behaviour concerning Yuna shows his softer centre, which he keeps very well hidden the rest of the time.
- Team Fortress 2: In the web made comics there's Saxton Hale's grandfather Barnabus Hale, introduced as randomly fighting a cougar at his employer's, Zepheniah Mann, will reading, wherein he inherits the company. A strip set before shows his employer's wife's death in Childbirth, and while Zepheniah doesn't spare her a thought, Barnabus is in the background crying his eyes out.
- Saxton seems to have inherit some of his grandfather traits, considering that, when Grey Mann sent his daughter Olivia, to challenge the giant pile of muscle that is Saxton in a hand-to-hand duel, with the ownership of Mann Co hanging in the balance, Saxton ended up losing by forfeit, since he could not bring himself to harm a child. (Although he didn't seemed to mind asking his assistant to do it for him, unfortunately they turned down the offer)
- The barbarian Bran from A Dance with Rogues is described as being very muscular and strong, and having a bit of a wild appearance, due to his unkempt hair. He's also one of the friendliest companions, who will approve of helping people and, if romanced by the Princess, is shown to be very considerate and gentle.
- Knuckles from Sonic the Hedgehog is known for being tough and uses his spiky fists when in combat. He's also shown to be a nice guy and cares for his friends.
- Rocko Sasquatch in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! Especially with his pet little unicorn, Oogrook (aka Rainbow Sunshine).
- Tower of God Rak is giant Godzilla-like upright standing alligator who spends his life hunting stronger and stronger opponents. He also really took a Tsundere-ish liking towards Baam.
- Kahn from EVIL is a Big Guy who is literally majoring in Asskicking, but is also the nicest character in the series.
- Commander Badass from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. Time-traveling Super Soldier who was possibly synthesized from American soil and grade-A steak. Still finds time to dote on his two children (three, if you count him being Jared's Parental Substitute). And it pisses the hell out of his superior officers, who want him to be a cynical Anti-Hero.
- Kat from Iron Violet The Shy Titan is a fierce brawler who isn't afraid to give creeps who bug her or her best friend Yuri a beat down, but she's also shown a gentler, sweeter side, tenderly comforting Yuri when she's feeling unsure of herself.
- Allison Buehler of The Jenkinsverse: A marksman who once faced down a fearsome alien mercenary and single-handedly shot three alien gunships out of the sky, confesses that her favorite movie is Tangled and that she likes to sing along. Julian Etsicitty, six-year survivor on the most hellishly dangerous Death World in the galaxy, later reveals much the same thing about Disney/Frozen, and that he used to sing "Let It Go" to keep his spirits up.
- RWBY: Yang Xiao Long is an immensely strong girl who can beat down tough criminals and bloodthirsty Grimm with just her fists. She also maintains an optimistic and chummy attitude around her friends and dotes on her younger sister Ruby, often crushing poor Ruby with her hugs. She probably inherited this trait from her father Taiyang, who is a hulking muscle-man with broad arms covered in burn scars, who nevertheless tenderly brings his daughters breakfast in bed while they're recovering from their injuries, not to mention the sheer glee in his voice upon unveiling his daughter's artificial arm.
- All three of the Biker Mice from Mars fit this trope to varying degrees, but there was one time where Modo cried because the Big Bad destroyed a orphanage.
- El Oso, enemy of El Tigre, is willing to kick the living crap out of every bear in the forest for the bear-girl he loves, but when she runs off with her true love, he breaks down sobbing.
- Jorgen Von Strangle, bully fairy supreme of The Fairly OddParents!, is madly in love with the gorgeous Tooth Fairy. When she dumps him for being a bully, he is completely devastated.
- Spike the bulldog from Tom and Jerry with his pup, Tyke.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- The Hippo has a soft spot for Toph, who actually is a Bruiser with a Soft Center herself.
- Toph is often rude, surly, and a frighteningly powerful Earthbender. Her rudeness and surliness is also a Freudian Excuse to cover her pain at being isolated from the outside world for most of her childhood and being seen as weak and helpless by her parents.
- Goliath from Gargoyles is devastated when he believes his Angel of the Night has been murdered by humans. Though his grief runs more to Clifftop Caterwauling than displays of tears.
- This also happens in a couple of Looney Tunes in a Chuck Jones series about a huge bulldog named Marc Antony with a tiny, cute, accident-prone kitten named Pussyfoot (a/k/a Cleopatra). That moment when he thinks she's been baked into a batch of cookies...and is then given a kitty-shaped cookie to cheer him up? Not a dry eye in the house.
- Teen Titans: Multiple examples are sprinkled throughout the series, but the OAV Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo has these examples:
- Cyborg gets mad when you mess with his car. Gets mad when you mess with the Tower. But wreck the sofa and he bursts into tears.
- Scrappy little Robin grabs a spare uniform with determined expression — then folds it up into a pillow for Silkie. He pets the thing affectionately, then heads out.
- The Tick is very much Dumb Muscle but he also has a very soft heart.
- Sandman in The Spectacular Spiderman shows kindness to small children. In his case, it might be Foreshadowing a Heel–Face Turn as happened in the comics.
- South Park: Cthulhu. Cartman abuses this shamelessly, and invokes the Looney Tunes example above.
- Tohru from Jackie Chan Adventures (after his Heel–Face Turn, at least).
- Kevin Levin of Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Also the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien version of Cooper Daniels, which got a vast improvement over his Ben 10: Alien Force self; he's muscular, taller and shares this and the Boisterous Bruiser trope with Kevin Levin.
- Old Soldier Panthro of ThunderCats (2011) reveals his soft center when he warms up to the Ro-Bear Berbils, weeping Manly Tears when they do him a large favor by helping repair his Thundertank. When he openly hugs his new friend Ro-Bear Bill, and is witnessed by the team's Tagalong Kids, this exchange occurs:
Wilykat: Busted!Wilykit: Panthro's a big ol' softy!Panthro: *Death Glare* Is that a problem?Wilykit: *stiffens nervously* Nope.Wilykat: It's cool.
- Spinelli from Recess.
- Buford of Phineas and Ferb. He bursts into tears when his goldfish goes missing. He is thrilled when his bear is restored by the boys' teleportation machine, and when helping Baljeet babysit Perry, speaks to him gently and assures that they will take good care of him.
- Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. She's brash, arrogant, and can be quite blunt and insensitive at times. She is always willing to solve problems headfirst, but underneath her tough exterior lies a softer, caring side best demonstrated with her friends, her surrogate little sister Scootaloo, and her pet tortoise Tank.
- Applejack counts, too. True to her "cowgirl" demeanor, she's a rowdy and assertive Cute Bruiser, but ultimately friendly and rational minded.
- Enzo Matrix from ReBoot becomes this after being trapped in the Games and aging to an adult. He is huge, muscular, tough as nails, with a stubborn streak a mile wide, but the mere thought of losing AndrAIa devastates him. (It's also notable that AndrAIa is the only person in the entire Web who can push Matrix around and get away with it.) He also has a major soft spot where his dog, Frisket, is concerned.
- Grunkle Stan(ley) Pines from "Gravity Falls". He may be a tough, greedy old trickster with a mean right hook, but when it comes to his family he'd do literally anything for them, even sacrifice himself for their sake.
- Steven Universe
- Ruby, and by extension, Garnet. Ruby's emotions are anything but subtle - if she's angry, she's literally fuming, if she's upset, she doesn't hesitate to show tears, and if she's anywhere near her girlfriend, it's almost impossible to stop them from flirting. Garnet is a bit more stoic due to Sapphire's influence, but she still has a huge sweet side to her that mostly shows around her adopted son, Steven.
- Topaz is introduced as a silent, stoic fusion of two equally silent and stoic Topazes. However, when Steven and Lars start to talk about how they're scared but at least not alone, she breaks into tears, lamenting on how she wouldn't know what to do if her components didn't have eachother, and how she hates going on missions. She's even willing to betray Homeworld to let Steven and Lars go back to Earth, since neither of them want to be there. It doesn't work, but still.
- Thomas the Tank Engine: In "Diesel & the Ducklings", Thomas finds Diesel cooing at a bunch of ducklings by the track. He uses the knowledge to Blackmail Diesel into acting nicer, lest his Bruiser friends 'Arry and Bert find out. In the end, the ducklings have the same effect on 'Arry and Bert.
- According to voice actor Peter Cullen, this is how he originally played Optimus Prime in The Transformers. After telling his older brother and Marine veteran Larry about the role, Larry told him:
Well, if you're going to be a hero, be a real hero. Don't be a Hollywood stereotypical thing with the yelling and screaming. Be strong enough to be gentle.
- Popeye is disproportionately muscled and is a gruff and gritty sailor which easily hides his virtues and his soft side and how considerate of others especially kids he actually is.
- In the live action movie Popeye's song featured the line "An' I gotta lot o' muskle and I only got one eye, an' I never hurts nobody an' I'll never tell a lie." Which is more or less true, as long as you mentally insert "... that didn't deserve it" after "nobody".
- By all accounts, Ernest Hemingway. According to Papa Hemingway, when he was still a struggling writer in Paris, he would sit alone for hours and cry over rejection letters. Considering the fragile ego of some writers (at the best of times) and the fact the man was seriously depressed, eventually killed himself and could only shut up his inner editor with lots and lots of booze... well that actually isn't that surprising.
- MMA fighter Wanderlei Silva is arguably the single most aggressive and intimidating fighter in the history of the sport, bulging with muscles and boasting a disturbing tendency to leave opponents curled up in a puddle of blood and shame after quite literally stomping their faces in. He also adores his fans and has consistently demonstrated himself to be one of the nicest guys in the UFC outside the cage.
- "Grandpa Mason", a rescued feral cat who's still wary of humans and not above swatting people who try to pet him. But put him around kittens...