Dork Knight

"Link is dripping with visual personality, entirely distinct from the player's actions. He's profoundly thick, almost to the edge of the special-school spectrum, but he's earnest and endearing with it. He doesn't put on the green uniform because he was destined to by the will of The Force, or whatever it is, but because his Nan was forcing him to take part in Ocarina of Time cosplay."

Meet Bob. What a guy! Bob's brave, he's determined, he's good at what he does, he's genuinely nice, and, most importantly, his moral fiber has a higher tensile strength than spider silk. Sure, he's a bit socially awkward and has a few other harmless quirks, but that's all part of his particular charm. The title can be taken as a play on Dark Knight.

In tropese, the Dork Knight is The Ace, The Cape, the Knight in Shining Armor or a similar character type infused with Adorkable, where the endearing awkwardness serves to humanize an otherwise idealized hero. (It can also work in reverse, where an established loveable dork shows unexpected courage and prowess.) See also Badass Adorable and Socially-Awkward Hero (which tend to overlap). The goofier examples of this trope may overlap with Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. If they're good-looking and like the rest of us, they could also qualify.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America is very much a Nice Guy and kind-hearted boy-next-door type who genuinely cares about others more than himself and isn't afraid to proclaim the ideals he fights for, namely The American Dream. There are some cynics who would sneer at this, but Cap honestly doesn't care. He'll still keep fighting for his ideals no matter what. On one occasion, Cap provides encouragement to a despairing Spider-Man by telling him "This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — No, YOU move." There's a reason why the Avengers know they can always trust Cap.
  • He's become less so over the years, but Lee Falk's original depiction of The Phantom had definite moments of this, particularly around the woman he loves.
  • Spider-Man is this. Dorky awkward teen with super powers. Trying to be a hero while trying to figure out his hormones at the same time.
  • In Superman, the title character's secret identity certainly has Adorkable tendencies. This could be the result of Obfuscating Stupidity, being an Alien Among Us, or something else. In the modern comics, it's usually just because he's a farmer's son who moved to the big city. He doesn't really count as Alien Among Us, since he came to Earth as an infant.
  • Captain Marvel definitely qualifies. He's a hero on par with Superman both in terms of physical power and nobility, and is completely unafraid of standing up to beings more powerful than himself (up to and including the Wrath of God) if he feels it has to be done. Yet he's also unfailingly polite, kind, friendly and compassionate, with a good (sometimes self-deprecating) sense of humor who tends to get completely flustered when women take interest in him. The fact that he's really a 12 to 15 year old kid in an adult superhuman body goes a long way towards explaining this.
  • The other company's Captain Marvel, or at least, their current one, former Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers. Credited as 'Earth's Mightiest Hero', a Flying Brick on-par with Thor, a trained Air-Force pilot and a decorated soldier with years of experience, and she named her cat Chewie, uses the 'Jedi Mind Trick' as a distraction, and after cooling off from being mad at the uninvited visit, she geeks out at having Lila Cheney, a super-powered rock star, on her ship. Generally, Carol is good at keeping her geekiness in-check, but in recent years it's became far more blatant that she's something of a nerd.
  • And the other Ms. Marvel, the ever-adorkable shapeshifter and superhero fangirl, Kamala Khan.
  • If Watchmen took place in a straight-up superhero universe rather than a Deconstruction-fest Dysfunction Junction, Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II) would have been this character type. But given the nature of the setting, he's more a Classical Anti-Hero than The Ace. It is worth noting that despite Watchmen's very dark take on most of the superhero archetypes it explores, Dan retains his endearing dorkiness and is probably the most idealistic and conventionally likeable of the costumed heroes.

     Films — Animated 
  • Mickey Mouse in some of his earlier more abrasive years pre Flanderization into The Everyman (though it comes back on occasion, e.g. Runaway Brain).
  • Recent Dreamworks films have featured this, backing away from its image of using Idiot Heroes as protagonists.
    • Po from Kung Fu Panda, who is simultaneously a kung fu master and a kung fu fanboy.
    • Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon is another one. Lacking the traditional Viking strength and bluster, he became a first rate Guile Hero and Badass Bookworm by understanding how dragons think and taming them instead of just fighting them directly. And then tames a freaking night fury as his partner. Sure, he's badass, but only when he has to be. Little wonder why he's so popular with the female fanbase.
    • Sherman from Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a bookworm who saved a Damsel in Distress from marrying a Pharaoh, joined the Trojan army, and controlled a time machine. He's just like his dad.
    • "Z" from Antz (DW's first CG production) is a neurotic and pessimistic ant (this being Woody Allen, no less), who saved his entire colony.
  • Blu from Rio. He even has a "legal name" to put it that way (Tyler Gunderson).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. Brave, determined, the film's Mr. Fanservice, and a bona fide Super Soldier. Also humble, a terrible liar, awkward about romance, and really kind and adorkable.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson counts, too. A Promoted Fanboy of Captain America (complete with a set of vintage trading cards!), he's like a dorky math teacher in a nice suit. However, he is a S.H.I.E.L.D agent (and Nick Fury's Number Two), who is completely unflappable facing down any number of threats ranging from H.Y.D.R.A terrorists to alien invaders. One of his EstablishingCharacterMoments was casually threatening Tony Stark with being tazed, and then watching Supernanny while Stark "drooled into the carpet."
  • Also, Thor; complete and utter naive dork with a big, goofy grin on his face when there isn't any danger about. Much of it comes from having little clue about Midguard customs and being as excited and happy to learn as a Golden Retriever let loose in a dog park.
  • Luke Skywalker from Star Wars starts off like this. Over time - maybe because of The Reveal in The Empire Strikes Back - he becomes more composed and sober. Parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe prove, though, that his adorkable side didn't really die.
    • Rey is a Wrench Wench who can kick your ass (and is something of a Plucky Girl, too), but she is still a Nice Girl that's a huge fan of the heroes of the rebellion, as seen with her interactions with Han Solo.
    • Finn from the same film. A compassionate, earnest former Imperial Stormtrooper who can actually shoot pretty well, Finn's upbringing as a Child Soldier for the First Order didn't give him the best opportunity to develop anything like suavity, but it couldn't extinguish his kind heart.
  • Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy hardly is the toughest guy around, and he does have his "nobody calls me chicken" problem. But he mostly is a good guy, who also can qualify as a Cool Loser.
  • TRON: The titular character is a badass in a combat situation, and a completely earnest Religious Bruiser dork outside it. Urgent call from his personal deity on the line? Nope, he's going to go and find his counterpart (wife) first. The Deleted Scene? He's mostly oblivious to Yori's intentions until she all but puts on some lingerie and starts incorporating the planning into the foreplay! His Kingdom Hearts II incarnation celebrated victory by hugging everyone. Unfortunately, anything past that first film was a Trauma Conga Line; by the time TRON: Uprising rolls around, he's become incredibly cynical, with the occasional flash of dorkiness. And then there's TRON: Legacy, where he ends up as little more than a brainwashed attack dog for Clu.

  • Vince from Super Powereds. He is so stubbornly optimistic that he often brings out the best in people before they even knew it was there to be brought out.
  • Miles Vorkosigan from the Vorkosigan Saga is a tiny, hyperactive, Genius Cripple snarker with the soul of a Knight Errant and frightening levels of determination.
  • Discworld:
    • Carrot Ironfoundersson. Polite, scrupulous, charismatic, rather literal-minded, and, particularly in his first appearances, a Fish out of Water. He's a bit like the Disc's equivalent of Benton Fraser. People who meet him tend to go through a phase of realizing he believes everything he's saying, then searching for "tells" that it's a joke. They will never be certain.
    • Dorky, earnest young minister Mightily Oats gradually becomes one of these in the course of Carpe Jugulum. References to him in later books indicate that he eventually becomes a full-blown Badass Preacher.
  • Sir Gawain in the older stories of the Arthurian Cycle. He's a fierce warrior and the paragon of knightly virtue, and he has no idea how to talk to a girl.
  • Ossian Bergman from "De skandalösa" by Simona Ahrnstedt is a nerdy scholar, who seems to be awkward when it comes to women. But he also seems to be a better person than his Chivalrous Pervert friend Gabriel, and in the end, he does get a woman after all.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor in most, if not all incarnations. Special mentions go to the ridiculously awkward Fourth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, who can't seem to get the hang of holding a normal conversation, but have destroyed civilizations. Some might also consider Rory Williams, after he took a level in badass.
  • Due South: Constable Benton Fraser, the quirky, unfailingly polite, straight-arrow Fish out of Water mountie.
  • Simon Tam on Firefly. An intelligent and chivalrous but very socially awkward doctor who can be surprisingly resourceful and dangerous when his little sister's in danger.
  • Blaine Anderson from Glee has become known as "Dapper" in the fandom for a reason: he constantly wears bowties, cardigans, polo shirts and sweater vests. He doesn't like to wear socks for some odd reason and has a passion dancing like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to songs by Katy Perry. He also is willing to take on football players about twice his size if they mess with his boyfriend and probably could have taken him down considering he boxes and started his private school's chapter of Fight Club.
  • John Watson in Sherlock has some elements of this, particularly in fandom portrayals. Both his sweater-wearing cuteness and his badassery have become memes. They definitely have. BBC has him portrayed as an adrenaline junkie, but overall a likeable guy, don't mess with his friend. It'll end badly if you do. And he'll look adorable while doing it.
  • Spock in Star Trek. Julian Bashir in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Malcolm Reed in Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • Power Rangers: The legendary Memetic Badass Tommy Oliver absolutely qualifies.
  • From Angel, we have the Groosalugg (a title meaning "The Brave and Undefeated" - Groo for short), a champion from a swords-and-sorcery alternate universe, who is always eager to please his "princess".
  • Gentaro Kisaragi. Enthusiastic, plans to befriend everybody even if he has to fight them first, preposterous haircut, surrounded by interested women.
  • Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, commanding officer of Babylon 5. Badass Rules Lawyer Ace Pilot who is, in fact, a complete and utter dork. His successor, John Sheridan, was no better. If you piss Sheridan off, he will nuke your ass. But he'll go from nuke-slinging badass to rushing over to his second in command's room in the middle of the night because he had a great idea, and being completely oblivious to her being dressed in nothing but a flimsy nightgown. (Justified somewhat because they are Like Brother and Sister).
  • Hiro Nakamura of Heroes considers it his personal quest to "Save the cheerleader, save the world." He is absolutely giddy over the fact that he gets to be a hero just like his favorite anime and comic characters, and his enthusiasm tends to spill over into fanboying "Flying Man" because he has cool powers, too (though Nathan really wishes he didn't and certainly doesn't want Hiro yelling "FLYING MAN!" where everyone can hear).
  • Barry Allen in The Flash (2014) is a forensic scientist prone to geek-outs, sometimes socially awkward . He's also the fastest man alive and a super hero.
  • Kara Danvers/Zor-El in Supergirl2015, a cute, awkward, and idealistic Flying Brick. Lampshaded by a shock-jock DJ who mocks Supergirl's adorkable and wholesome persona.
  • The Lone Gunmen: All of the gents qualify to some degree or another. They certainly are dorks, and they're completely uncorruptable underground hackers and journalists operating with the motive that Information Wants to Be Free. However, Byers and Jimmy Bond fit the mold best. Byers is a soft-spoken gentleman who used to be a loyal worker for the FCC and still believes that America can one day live up to the Eagleland Type One. The other two derided him as a "narc" until he stared down armed members of the Conspiracy and chewed them out, demanding to know who the hell they were and what gave them the right to pull these stunts. Jimmy Bond, their last recruit, is a Book Dumb puppy dog of a man who is Too Dumb to Fool, but gifted with a surprising amount of compassion and intuition that makes him see things that the otherwise intellectual Gunmen are apt to miss.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has the iconic cleric, Jozan. He's a competent fighter, spellcaster, and orator, and very morally upright, but he's also The Klutz when it comes to being sneaky or anything else dexterous. In the iconics feature novels he suffers near-permanent Crush Blush around the paladin Alhandra, as well as Gibberish of Love and grinning like an idiot whenever she praises him. In the "Creature Feature" stories, meanwhile, he's the D&D equivalent of a good little Christian boy, so saintly sweet and gentlemanly he gives the rogue Lidda sugar overdoses. Then add on a tendency to be the No Respect Guy, and yeah.

  • Shakespeare's Henry V is a fine leader and a victorious conqueror, effortlessly eloquent when rallying his troops to snatch victory from sure defeat. He is also full of awkward when trying to talk to the French princess (who doesn't speak English) and sounds like a total moron when trying to speak to her in French. This kind of depends on the actor playing Henry, but it's a common interpretation.

    Video Games 
  • Mario and Luigi qualify in their own way:
    • Mario constantly risks his life to save Princess Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom, goes out of his way to help anyone he meets and is unfailingly brave and noble. He's also a happy-go-lucky, excitable guy who possesses an extreme optimism and enjoys all sorts of activities, no matter how childlish they might seem.
    • Luigi is flat-out Adorkable, would rather stay out of trouble and is constantly overlooked in favor of his more famous, older brother. However, that doesn't stop him from being the best person he can be and his moral fiber is just as strong as Mario's.
  • Blazblue: Through training alone, Bang Shishigami has enough speed and stamina to keep up with characters who have special powers and deadly artifacts, and in some cases, immortality. He also protects the innocent, risks his life for others, considers no good deed to be beneath him no matter how mundane, and dedicates much of his life to helping out his community.
    • While this makes him a beloved hero in his community, his tendency to talk and act like a hero from a Sentai series with no volume control makes it impossible for any of the other characters to take him seriously.
  • Space Ace: Dexter; normally, he's The Ace, but thanks to Borf's Infanto Ray, he spends most of the game as a skinny, awkward teenager.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Steiner is not the main hero, but he is a Dork Knight at times. He leans more towards being more of an Idiot Hero.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Zack Fair is strong, handsome, loyal, determined, honorable, friendly, and all over a nice guy. He also is a serious badass and one of the strongest fighters in the series. However, as seen in Crisis Core, he's also 16-18 for most of his game and has the attention span of a hyperactive Labrador. Puppy, indeed.
  • Alistair from the Dragon Age series. On the one hand, he's brave, noble, and heroic (making him a distinct rarity in the Dragon Age verse) and approves of the player being so as well - on the other, he's a bit of a Man Child who can barely get through a sentence without slipping into bad humor and/or Buffy Speak, especially if he's talking to a woman.
  • Roy from Fire Emblem: The Sealed Sword is a brave and skilled swordsman, and a very charismatic leader and highly intelligent Teen Genius Guile Hero to boot, but he definitely has his awkward teenager moments; especially in his supports with any of his potential wives. His father Eliwood from the prequel game can fall into this sometimes, too, but to a lesser degree.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening we have Sumia. A Submissive Badass in the battlefield, a Cute Clumsy Girl outside of it.
    • Prince Chrom, too. And his daughter Lucina (who can be mothered by Sumia) can have her moments.
    • In truth, almost every character in Awakening counts to some degree. Characters like Severa and Henry are very upfront about it, while others like Frederick and Panne require a little more digging to reach their dorky sides.
    • It seems that Chrom and Lucina's dorkiness comes from somewhere; even Prince Marth from the games taking place 2000 years before theirs had moments like this as well, mainly due to his rather childish and naive personality.
  • Applies to the Avatar aka Corrin, of Fire Emblem Fates. An unstoppable, Badass Determinator on the battlefield, but a cheerful, socially inept dork off of it.
  • John in Immortal Souls looks and fights the part of a badass '90s Anti-Hero, but he's really a softie who is a bit naive and cares about saving innocents and doing the right thing, though you do have to initially push him into it. He also gets absolutely tongue-tied talking to his Love Interest Allison and whenever the Black Witch tries flirting with him. Or when talking about Allison. Or when thinking about Allison.
  • Described by the page quote is the Link in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker; he may be brave, kind, and heroic, but he's still a huge dork of a Kid Hero with especially cartooney facial expressions, even for the art style. Similary, the Link in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a good example as well, being a somewhat klutzy Sleepyhead, especially around Zelda; both of them have slayed monsters, saved the world, shown unbelievable amounts of determination stronger than titanium, and are overall very capable at what they do.
  • Double H from Beyond Good & Evil, whose dorkiness is actually directly tied to his badassery: He's fanboyishly obsessed with his Badass Creed, to the point of using its name as his Battle Cry ("CARLSONNN AND PEETERSSSS!") and applying quotes from it to everything he does, regardless of the circumstances. It helps that he's also an obsessively loyal Bruiser with a Soft Center.
  • Mass Effect: Garrus Vakarian is of the Number Two/Friendly Sniper variety. He is a highly trained sniper who (1) aided in stopping a full scale assault on the galactic seat of government, (2) led a group of vigilantes on a space station that would put Mos Eisley Spaceport to shame, and (3) became the leader of a task force designated to prepare for the inevitable genocidal alien invasion. During the course of all of this, he has a bad habit of saying Innocently Insensitive things, and turns into a shy, stuttering confused mess when either making or receiving romantic/sexual advances.

    Web Animation 
  • Depending on one's interpretation of his character, Jaune of RWBY is either this trope, will be this trope, or is a straight subversion of it.

  • Homestuck: John Egbert starts off as a goofy dork. He quickly grows into a badass and the team's leader, without ever becoming less of a dork.
    • On a more literal note, both Karkat and Dave are dorks, and they are knights. Bipbopbam. Dork Knights.
  • Unsounded: In life, Duane Adelier was a skilled warrior, an exceptionally competent tacit-casting mage, and responsible for training young soldiers in the ways of battle pymary. He was also a noble, slightly goofy man who held on to an idealistic view of peace between the two major religions, the castes, and the political viewpoints of his country when few held the same, and was quite fond of dramatic operas and plays. The character currently still retains most of these personality traits, however the horrific trauma of the past six years has caused an air of hopelessness with all he does due to the loss of his loved ones, the betrayal of his country, and the firm belief his soul is now damned. Nevertheless, he still retains many of his idealistic and goofy traits and his competence in a fight.

     Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Sir Archibald Wavell. A quiet unassuming man with an eccentric but likable disposition who wrote an anthology of poetry. He was also the British commander in the Mediterranean theater and under his command the Allies won their first victories, and the Italian empire was reduced to a sort of fly paper for the German army. He is a large part of the reason for Italy's persistent reputation for limited prowess in World War II.