You have your regular Action Girl. She has the looks, and the attitude. But you want to indicate her strength, without having her beat the crap out of someone. That's where Effortless Amazonian Lift comes in.
A Distaff Counterpart to Bridal Carry, this refers to a woman visually displaying the strength to lift and carry someone similar-sized or heavier than herself in her arms. This trope is used in an attempt to subvert gender expectations, and show that the woman in question has unusual physical strength. When involving a couple, it can also be used to show who wears the pants in the relationship. Usually displayed by a Cute Bruiser or a Big Gal. When done by someone with no such characteristics, it is even more notable.
Note that this does not refer to a woman simply carrying something. The action must always emphasize her prodigious strength.
Obviously a form of Double Standard. A man carrying someone is considered omnipresent, since men are expected to excel in the physical department. Related to Muscles Are Meaningless.
This trope is also a form of Fetish Fuel.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan does this on occasion. At one point, she breaks up an argument between Eren and Jean by throwing Eren over her shoulder and walking away. In a flashback later in the series, she's shown to have once thrown 210-pound Reineracross the training yard at Annie.
In Bleach, after Kenpachi's duel with Ichigo, Yachiru carries the former on her shoulder to get medical attention. A particularly impressive use of the trope because Kenpachi is very tall and muscular, while Yachiru looks like an eight-year-old but manages to effortlessly carry him to the top of a building by performing multiple two-story high jumps while carrying him. One of the author's many hints that she's more dangerous than she looks.
In A Certain Magical Index, ShizuriMugino can casually Neck Lift a full grown man and then throw or punch him across the room despite being a skinny teenage girl. It is noted that she doesn't have super strength. She prides herself in that her natural strength allows her to kick a guy's ass without even using her powers.
Ran in Detective Conan carries her father through the streets after he drank too much and this without any effort.
Kei from Dirty Pair easily lifts a grown man and swings him over her shoulder to rescue him from heavy enemy fire. It's meant to emphasize her position as the "muscle" and tomboy of the Tomboy and Girly Girl duo she forms with Yuri.
Earth Maiden Arjuna: Juna carries Tokio in her arms to protect him from a monster in the second episode. She doesn't even seem to be aware of any strain, despite being in her human form.
Played for laughs in Fushigi Yuugi when dainty Wholesome CrossdresserNuriko sees a weightlifting contest in progress, effortlessly picks up and holds the current contestant and the weight overhead, and walks away with the prize.
In Girls Bravo, Kosame attempts to kidnap Yukinari for Lisa. So she knocks him out, pulls him over her shoulder and starts kicking Kirie while holding him. Her strength is attributed to her status as a professional hitwoman.
In Lovely Complex, Koizumi carries Otani in her arms after he failed to escape her. She manages to carry him quickly into a changing room while he struggles to get down. It's obvious who wears the pants in this ralationship.
Maid-Sama!: Misaki is unusually strong; In one episode, she crossdresses to enter a competition for a Butler Cafe; the first challenge is a race in which one partner must carry the other piggyback the whole way. Most of the other (male) competitors can't finish the course; Misaki comes in second.
While Ranma won't allow Akane to carry him as a guy, he lets her carry him piggyback when in girl form, emphasizing how Ranma thinks of himself according to his gender. Not that Akane would have any trouble carrying his guy form — she's sometimes seen dragging him by the pigtail while running (with Ranma trying to keep a cool composure all along).
In a straighter example, Shampoo demonstrates the strength to catch Mousse in her arms after she saves him from a villain, continuing the trend of her being the dominant one in their "relationship".
Makoto Kino of Sailor Moon is the group's Big Guy and physically the strongest of the Inner Senshi. In her debut, she lifts a guy over her head, with no signs of physical strain. She also does this during an ice-skating scene, and in a dancing scene◊, demonstrates the strength to lift Ami by the waist and singlehandly over her head. And she does that without transforming into Sailor Jupiter.
In the manga Makotos strength is also shown by lifting Usagi onto her shoulder to save her from a speeding car.
Tsukiko of Samurai High School can easily walk while carrying three people. She can even chase a thief while carrying them.
Catherine Armstrong of Fullmetal Alchemist, is a sweet dainty little girl. Whose hobby involves lifting grand pianos over her head.
Karura of Utawarerumono demonstrates her ridiculous Super Strength by kidnapping and carrying Hakuoro Bound and Gaggedwith only one hand. She keeps him there while waiting for the other girls to prepare for the journey. And she doesn't even bat an eyelid.
In one of the Archie Comics, there is a couples surfing competition where the man lifts the woman up while on a surfboard on the ocean, but when Archie is too weak to pick up Betty, Betty carries Archie!
In The DCU, being the Big Gal, Big Barda is often portrayed carrying around other heroes, including her husband, Mr. Miracle.
Bravura does this several times to Astérix in Asterix and the Secret Weapon. It helps that he's about half her size.
The titular heroine of Amazon Gazonga, despite her diminutive height and (mostly) petite build compared to the other Amazons, frequently picks her much taller love interest up, slings him over her shoulder, and then runs long distances carrying him.
Films — Live-Action
Adam's Rib. As part of her defense strategy to show that women are like men so they should be treated the same, Amanda calls a circus strongwoman to the stand. The strongwoman demonstrates that women can be as strong as men by picking up Adam, who is both Amanda's husband and the district attorney trying the case.
Played with in Ever After. When Danielle and Henry are attacked by gypsies, Danielle is told she can take "anything she can carry" and get away. She proceeds to pick up Henry and walk away carrying him on her shoulders. In this case, the action is meant to emphasize her audacity and determination, rather than strength. Charmed by it, the gypsies invite them to stay for a meal.
A View to a Kill. When Zorin tells General Gogol he's going to go ahead with his Evil Plan instead of working for the Soviets, a KGB mook pulls a gun and is promptly lifted up in the air by May Day.
In A Brother's Price, Jerin was worried about his sisters and was very relieved to see them come back safe and sound, hugging his sister Eldest as she came through the door. She picked him up and walked him through back into the suite.
In the Mercy Thompson series, a female firefighter who's a werewolf was pleased when werewolves abandoned their masquerade, because it allowed her to play this trope straight when saving people, rather than feign being no stronger than a non-werewolf woman.
In Phoenix Rising Kyri picks up a crate (containing stonesculpt hangings) weighing between 400 and 450 pounds by herself. Another had been giving two grown men and strong warriors trouble earlier.
In one of the later seasons of 'Allo 'Allo!, Helga is temporarily replaced by a very tall woman, who responds to Herr Flick's usual "You may kiss me" by grabbing him by the lapels and lifting him off the ground into a kiss. The camera clearly shows his feet hanging in the air, and the studio audience's incredulous-sounding laughter suggests that the lift was actually genuine, and the actress really was that strong.
Beast Master shows a female love interest carrying a wounded prince. When the hero doubts her strength and asks whether she's strong enough to carry him, she replies, "I'm strong enough to carry you."
Small Wonder: Vicki looks like a 10-year-old, but has no problem picking up her father, Ted; her brother, Jamie, or any other male character. Justified because of her Robot Girl status.
One In Living Color! sketch involved a man going on a date with Grace Jones and ended with her easily throwing the terrified man over her shoulder and taking him home with her.
The music video for KMFDM's song A Drug Against War depicts a woman tearing a palm tree out of the ground and throwing it.
Myths & Religion
There is a German legend called "Castle of the Faithful Wives" where the women of a castle begged a king who had laid siege to them to be allowed to leave with their children and whatever valuables they could carry on their backs. The king agreed and was astonished to see the women leaving with their husbands on their backs.
At Tribute To The Troops 2005, the petite Maria Kanellis casually picks up a soldier three times her size and basically plays "airplane" with him. The soldier reacted roughly the same way a child does, with delight.
In her prime, Sable could powerbomb a man with ease.
In Carl Clover's story mode in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, we have Makoto demonstrating her sheer strength in two manners — the one that matters to this trope is when she escapes from Carl with Tsubaki in tow. To emphasize, Makoto's roughly 49 kilos, Tsubaki is 47 kilos (possibly without Izayoi), and she stilldead sprints away fromCarl.
In the beginning of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning shows the strength to carry her younger sister, Serah, without showing any fatigue. The action is also meant to show Lightning's protective feelings toward her sister.
In the first and thirdMass Effect games, a female Shepard can just pick Kaidan up to carry him into the Normandy if he can't walk even with assistance. Completely justified in that Shepard a super-strong, hyper-resilient cyborg by the third game, and of course in the first she is an Alliance marine, of whom receive top-notch training and gene mods that enhance their abilities far beyond those of the average person.
The second Hatoful Boyfriend has Hiyoko throwing a grenade through the shell of a tank and kicking holes in floors. In the first game she's a little lighter on action, but when two of her Love Interests are fighting she can pick them both up, carry them to a window, and throw both of them out. ...Of course, they are both birds of poorly established size, and she's human.
Teen Titans loves to show just how strong Starfire is. Whether it's lifting Beast Boy in hippo mode, lifting ten times more weight than Cyborg can with JUST ONE ARM or even being the only one out of the Titans who can lift a special Tamaranian goblet (which is apparently made out of depleted uranium). No wonder she trashed Evil!Cyborg so easily.
Marge Simpson manages this at the end of The Simpsons episode, "The Strong Arms Of The Marge", when - suitably muscled-up from intensive bodybuilding - she sweeps up Homer in her arms and romantically whisks him up the cellar stairs.
Hal Sparks jumped into the arms of Lucy Lawless in The American Comedy Awards. She held him without any trouble.