"Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)"There's a thin line between bravery and stupidity. For example, risking your life against all odds to save injured comrades would be bravery; risking your life against all odds to get a scoop of ice cream would just be stupid. This is invoked far more often than it is presented straight. More often, fear is presented as the wise and prudent reaction to danger (courage being the ability to act despite your fear), making the fearless person — if he exists — a fool. Sometimes, Fear Is the Appropriate Response. It is the mark of a Naïve Newcomer to think that his fear means he's a Dirty Coward; a character who cannot seem to learn it, no matter how bravely he acts or the greatness of the dangers he has faced, is the Cowardly Lion. In these situations, the Fearless Fool is either protected by dumb luck or Too Dumb to Live. Assuming, of course, situations of real danger (or needles -- you can always be afraid of needles). Only a Dirty Coward would gibber in terror at some trifling or distant danger. On the other hand, a Miles Gloriosus often claims to be fearless as a way to boast about his imaginary feats in battle. Frequently the Aesop of Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb. Often a case of Attack! Attack! Attack!.. Compare Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!. Also compare Perilous Old Fool, who is frequently this. It can also be used by the character treating the injuries in the After-Action Patch-Up — to berate the hero for his stupidity in getting into trouble in the first place. Contrast Fearless Undead, which is about how the undead, whether they actually have a mind of their own or not, tend not to experience fear any longer.
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Anime & Manga
- In Sengoku Basara's anime adaptation, this trope is invoked when Takeda Shingen lectures his Hot-Blooded servant Yukimura on how the absence of fear does not mean courage... while punching him into a wall repeatedly.
- In Naruto, the titular character fits this to a tee at first glance, as he pretty much leaps into danger with a smile, ready to punch or (as necessary) headbutt his enemies without fear of his own safety. While his lack of fear indeed started out of recklessness, after the encounter with the Demon Brothers (one of the only times he's scared for his life) and his "Oath of Pain", it came out of a desire to prove himself and protect his loved ones.
- Rak from Tower of God. In a test where the wrong decision would cost his head, he figures that the lack of clues must have meant that he had to gamble. That was one of his smarter moves.
- One Piece: The hero Monkey D. Luffy is pretty much the embodiment of this trope. He charges headlong into dangers great or small without once thinking of his own wellbeing. This includes leading a small army in a siege against the World Government stronghold Enies Lobby, punching out a World Noble, who are treated as walking gods, engaging in a battle in the Alcatraz known as Impel Down, heading to the Marine Headquarters with a large group of dangerous convicts to fight the entire Navy! One of the only things Luffy is shown to be scared of is his own grandfather Marine Vice-Admiral Garp, due to the fact that he was raised by him in near-constant Training from Hell and Punches of Love. After meeting the old man, his friends concluded that the grandfather is responsible for his lack of fear, as very few things compare to him.
- Claire Stanfield from Baccano! not only knows no fear (apart from the fear of Claire he puts in others), he's convinced himself that he's immortal (despite being one of the few characters that aren't) simply because he can't imagine what it'd be like to be dead.
- Saint Seiya: The hero Pegasus Seiya has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever, often veers into Too Dumb to Live territory and will happily sacrifice his life on multiple occasions for his friends/goddess. When asked how he manages to keep on living, he most often responds with "I don't know."
- Misaki Yata from K. Lampshaded in the movie when Kuroh and Neko are looking to save a hostage from inside of a tower, and Kuroh runs through all of the ways the tower is guarded, and finishes with, "Only a fool would try to break in through the front."... and two seconds later, Misaki comes around the corner, charging in on his skateboard, screaming.
- Taichi "Tai" Kamiya from Digimon Adventure gets shades of this after being told that everything in the Digital World is made of computer data, including him. When it finally gets drilled into his head that if he dies here he still dies for real, he goes to the opposite extreme and become petrified with fear. Part of his character development is finding the balance between the two, true courage. Takuya Kanbara from Digimon Frontier had a similar arc, although he was a tad less Hot-Blooded
- A more completely straight example would be Tai's successor Davis from Digimon Adventure 02. He's nearly fearless and is generally a complete idiot. The effectiveness of this tended to vary from episode to episode. Curiously enough, unlike Tai and Takuya (and Takato, who was never like this) he never really grew out of this. At least not on screen
- Soul Eater: Black Star is the man who will surpass God! Of course he's not afraid of anything! It's a good thing Tsubaki is around to keep him out of trouble.
- While Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex doesn't do this in the way ascribed to most shonen heroes, she is still equally guilty of it. As the episodes go on it becomes more and more clear that she does things even her hardened comrades consider incredibly reckless, and one loses count of the number of times she nearly gets herself killed over the course of the series. It's almost a running joke that Batou will specifically tell her to "not do anything stupid" and she'll do it anyway. In-universe, it's actually quite common for heavily cyberized individuals to begin to have loss of emotional response, and the Major muses on it frequently, wondering if she still counts as "real" when only her brain is organic.
- In Parasyte, despite repeatedly stated as incapable of feeling human emotions, the parasites obviously care about their well-being enough to avoid any unnecessary danger (even showing visible fear on occasion). The only parasite who fits the bill is Mr. A, the lover to fellow parasite, Reiko, who admits that he is "not one of our smart ones". Indeed, Mr. A is repeatedly shown to have no capacity for subtlety or deception, even using his shapeshifting abilities in front of public by reasoning that he can get out of trouble by fighting, running away or changing into a different form. This comes to bite him in the ass HARD, as his open attack on Shinichi and his parasite companion, Migi, leads to him getting critically wounded and then disposed off by Reiko when he threatened her undercover lifestyle. At one point, during his attack on the school, when he tried to punch a random student, he missed and punched the wall which completely and permanently shattered his (human) arm.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Kamina's Establishing Character Moment involves him challenging a Humongous Mecha to a fight while armed with nothing but a katana. Played with later on, when he confides in Yoko that he knew exactly how stupid he was being at the time, but did it anyway in order to inspire Simon.
- Subverted on another occasion: when Simon implored Kamina to run before an apparently superior enemy, Kamina says that he can't run. Simon starts to invoke this trope, but Kamina interrupts him: it's not that he can't run because he's a Fearless Fool, it's that turning his back on the enemy would be a poor tactical choice and would result in his being cut down before he could reach safety.
- Discussed in Attack on Titan, with many people considering Eren Yeager to be exactly this. His classmates even refer to him as being a "suicidal idiot", with Jean accurately predicting that anyone assigned to Eren's squad will end up dead. However, Eren explains that it isn't actually that he's not afraid, but that he believes he has a responsibility to fight.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Vegeta qualifies for this trope, as he is the first to charge into battles against opponents that are far more powerful than he is, and even lets them power up because of his arrogance.
- Videl sometimes, as shown when she tries to charge against Spopovitch and Yamu when they attacked Gohan.
- Gotenks. When he was first born, what's the first thing he tries to do? He rushes into battle with Majin Buu without thinking of the consequences, and ends up getting himself beaten to a pulp.
- Chi-Chi. She usually tries to charge into battles to save her sons, without thinking of the possible consequences of her actions (with the other characters having to hold her back). She plays this straight when she walks up to Majin Buu, the scourge of the universe, and slaps him in the face for killing Gohan. She gets turned into an egg and killed as a response.
- Even Goku falls to this at times. Freeza outright refers to him as one in Resurrection 'F', stating his power made him overconfident and too willing to forgive his enemies.
- Hareta from Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, who often laughs in the face of danger because he figures it's another opportunity for an awesome Pokemon battle.
- Jaden Yuki from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is like this, but it generally works for him...until Season 3.
- Green Lantern:
- The Green Lantern Corps are supposed to be fearless. Taken literally, that means they're, well, dangerously insane. Of course it's understood that "fearless" is an emphatic way of saying "courageous". The Green Lanterns are not, in fact, "The Men [and Women and Nonsexual Aliens] Without Fear"; rather they have the ability to overcome great fear, and in that ability find the power to wield the Green Lantern Ring. Sometimes the description has been taken more literally than other times; one currently-ignored story had it that rings removed all fear from new Green Lanterns. Canonically, the rings now state that the owner can "overcome great fear".
- However there is one Lantern that's insane, to the shock of his partner (who just thought he was a Cloudcuckoolander). Depending on the Writer... there was a Green Lantern/Flash story by Mark Waid, which made much of the fact that Hal Jordan had never experienced fear, until he thought Barry's life was in danger because of him.
- Guy Gardner in his early appearances was usually described as being too stupid to realize he's in danger. In Guy's earliest (Silver Age) appearances he was pretty much just a normal guy. And then he developed brain damage, which (among other things) made him a more literal example of this trope.
- An early Tales of the Green Lantern Corps story features a search for a Green Lantern candidate on a planet full of cowards. One was eventually found — in an insane asylum.
- It was lampshaded a few times during Kyle Rayner's stint, as he was chosen despite his fear. This paid off, when his awareness of fear left him able to fight off Parallax's influence. Even The Sandman noted this, telling Kyle it would help him surpass the other Lanterns.◊
- Similarly, Daredevil is called The Man Without Fear, though this may be because of his name. In truth, he doesn't seem to have many fears, as befits a blind man who goes out superheroing... but usually, those few he has are found and exploited by anyone who can manage to become the Big Bad of an arc.
Daredevil: If I could see what I was doing, I'd be terrified.
- Once in a Marvel Comics Presents story arc, this trope was taken literally with him. That was when an alien parasite who feeds on fear tried taking over various Marvel Universe Super Hero characters, only to be driven out each time by them overcoming their fears. In desperation, the starving parasite tried taking over a random human, only to die when he discovered to his horror that this human had no fear, and that turned out to be Daredevil.
- Once, when Daredevil went charging in despite the presence of hostages, Spider-Man told him that that sort of thing is why nobody likes to team up with him and that some caution some of the time might not hurt. It turned out in that case that the hostages were an illusion, and Daredevil hadn't even known that Spider-Man was seeing them. However, it does mean at least one hero thinks Daredevil is a bit too fearless and has heard of others thinking so as well.
- In Astérix and the Normans, the titular Normans literally don't know the meaning of fear, even as children. The Gauls teach them, by making their awful bard Cacofonix play the bagpipes at them.
- They came to Gaul to learn fear because they heard "Fear gives you wings", and took it literally.
- Obelix himself also qualifies to a certain extent. Justified because there aren't really many things that can harm him but it becomes really obvious in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix where he doesn't quite grasp the concept of monsters or ghosts and thats why he remains unafraid. That makes for a contrast with Asterix who understands perfectly but is just this brave and can be cautious when necessary.
- In Locke & Key, Kinsey uses the Head Key to remove her senses of fear and sadness. This leads her to do some dangerous things - both physically, like exploring a flooded cave, and emotionally, like getting into a Love Triangle between her friends.
- The Story Of The Youth Who Went Forth To Learn What Fear Was doesn't know already because he's The Fool.
- Similarly in The Boy Who Found Fear At Last
- Rainbow Dash, in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Luna's Power and Rainbow's Love, defies this, while presenting a front that looks like this.
- Deconstructed with Mei in Game Theory (Fan Fic). Due to being from a berserker lineage, she lacks a functioning fear response, which causes her to pull all kinds of crazy, reckless stunts that put herself or others in danger. It's treated as a mental disorder, and she eventually starts taking medication that mitigates the problem.
- Deconstructed in Harry's New Home where due to his abusive upbringing with the Dursleys, Harry lacks a sense of self-preservation and self-defense, allowing him to place himself in danger without a thought, much to Snape's annoyance and horror.
Films — Animation
- Young Simba in The Lion King gets a speech to this effect when he goes into the elephant graveyard to prove how fearless he is only to be accosted and nearly eaten by hyenas. Mufasa explains that being brave doesn't mean he doesn't have fears, only that he overcomes them, and this becomes a running theme for the film.
Mufasa: I'm only brave when I have to be. Simba, being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.
- Luis and Carmelo from The Book of Life, like other Sanchez members, were very brave but unfortunately very foolish as well, so much so that they allowed hubris to get the better of them.
- Henry from The Good Dinosaur. Justified, he wants his son to be brave until he ended up pushing it too far by going through danger until it was too late for him to realize it.
Films — Live-Action
- Grizzly Man chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast Tim Treadwell.
- Forrest Gump is this when he runs through the jungle in Vietnam rescuing his comrades, being completely oblivious to the bullets and explosions around him.
- Batman in The Dark Knight Rises initially has no fear of death, which he thinks gives him power but is in fact why he can't find the motivation to escape Bane's prison. He needs to find something to be afraid of or he'll be useless. Bane points this out by saying, "You don't fear death. You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe."
- Skylar Lewis in Girl vs. Monster, but she later develops a sense of fear and grows out of this.
- Done unintentionally in most James Byron Huggins novels. Even though most of his protagonists are Badass Normals, when your opponents are ancient Egyptian undead sorcerers, giant shape-shifting Nephilim, prehistoric Hulks, a genetically-engineered dragon, and Satan himself, for them fear is never the appropriate response, and every time, they win against these threats, but the first two acts they don't react with fear.
- In The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, Jim repeatedly expresses confidence that the military authorities will be fooled by his latest trick, despite the fact that the MP's have already displayed detective work that would be a credit to Sherlock Holmes.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Cain's Last Stand, Ciaphas Cain tells the cadets that he is afraid, in order to urge prudence on them. But when he describes himself as a Dirty Coward, Amberley Vail cites that a brave man is one who overcomes his fears, not one who has none, to say that Cain may not be giving himself enough credit.
- At one point, earlier, Cain's aide Jurgen offers to come on a mission. Cain is not sure whether this is courage or being too stupid to realize the danger.note Amberley Vail, having seen much of Jurgen over the years, isn't sure either.
- Jenit Sulla, a Leeroy Jenkins who lads her men into heroic charges no matter what the sensible action. Her unit takes the highest losses of the regiment, but also has the highest morale.
- Warhammer 40,000 novels:
- In Dan Abnett's Brothers of the Snake, when a young Marine tries a forbidden challenge, and an older one comes after to ensure that he lives, the younger one says he must think him a fool, and the older one, that courage and folly are not always easily divided.
- In William King's Space Wolf, Ragnar is unable to tell whether the nightgangers attacking them are that brave or that mindless. In Grey Hunters, when one Marine speaks of a heroic death, he is rebuked for not knowing the difference between heroic and stupid.
- In Ben Counter's Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, Tarvitz explicitly thinks that while it is said that Space Marines know no fear, the truth is that they are trained to master it, not to not feel it.
- Fearless by Francine Pascal is about a teenage girl unable to comprehend fear.
- In Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, Granny tells the Nac Mac Feegle that they need The Hero to go to the underworld, because they themselves would not be afraid of doing it, and The Hero needs to be — so she sends them after the Baron's son Roland, who would be afraid.
- Other characters are shown to be almost fearless as well, Cohen and his 'horde' foremost among them. Ridcully and Vetinari are also practically without fear, but they are far from foolish.
- In Unseen Academicals, Dave Likely, at least in Trev's eyes. Nutt points out that he was only human, and furthermore people who did foolish things that could kill them have been important to humanity.
- In Night Watch, Vimes describes Lord Rust this way. "He thought idiot stubbornness was bravery."
- In C. S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Lucy agrees to go into a magician's tower for invisible beings who are threatening to massacre them, and the boys can't dissuade her, the boys appeal to Reepicheep, confident that he will tell her not to do it in order to save them. Reepicheep, however, does not play the Fearless Fool: he observes they have no hope of saving her, and that she is not being asked to do anything dishonorable, so he will not speak against it. The boys are rather embarrassed.
- In Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, Chronicler tells Kvothe that they say he's fearless. Kvothe disclaims: only priests and fools are fearless, and he's not been on good terms with God.
- The ogres of Xanth are famous for being too stupid to fear anything. But this is played with—it combines with their great strength to ensure that every living creature smarter than them (and that's everyone, including a number of plants) fears them. Even dragons know they can't match the sheer power-to-weight ratio of an ogre and that an ogre wouldn't be afraid of coming after them, and avoid picking fights.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Blood Rites, Trish/Trixie is not afraid of getting blacklisted because she's so dumb she really think she's indispensible.
- In Death Masks, several warnings get thrown about, about confusing courage with stupidity.
- In Blood Rites, when he is rescuing the puppies, one rears up in the box to bark at their former captors. Harry describes it as either more brave or more stupid.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, after an attack that drove many Blood Angels into the black rage — Unstoppable Rage — that resulted into their horrible deaths, Arkio accuses veteran Blood Angels of being afraid. They counter that they had all seen those deaths and are horrified and, yes, afraid. Sachiel claims that dying for the Emperor ought to negate that, but Arkio concedes that they would not be human if they did not feel as they did — and weeps Manly Tears over the deaths — before urging them to fight anew.
- Jason in Tom Holt's Ye Gods!
Being a Hero, he didn't know the meaning of fear, just as the average person doesn't know the meaning of the word fourmart* .
- Later, this is invoked several times with the observation that what he felt couldn't really, therefore, be fear.
- The entire Kender race from ''Dragonlance' has this reputation. For many, it's deserved.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Kolding plays possum when Maggs goes berserk and attacks him. Gaunt says this was wise; Kolding says it was not very courageous. He had survived a Blood Pact attack by the same method as a child — the sole survivor.
- The second-in-command in Moby-Dick tells the crew a fearless man has no business being on a whale hunt.
- In City of Ashes, Jace gets a Fearless rune put on him by Clary. After a few minutes of fighting The Legions of Hell, he notes that the rune might be a little bit of too much of a good thing. In particular, he notes how blase he was becoming in regards to injuries.
- In The Pillars of the Earth King Stephan went into Battle and was Fearless but because of that, he didn't retreat when necessary and was captured.
- In Harry Potter, Gryffindors have a tendency to be this.
- Marvin Russell in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears. At first, the terrorists using him as a useful fool are impressed by his fearlessness, but they quickly realize that they are dealing with a crazy person. (Doesn't stop them from still using him as their fool, though.)
- Patricia A. McKillip:
- In The Book of Atrix Wolfe, they send off Saro to deliver the tray of food to the prince in his half-ruined and haunted towers, on the grounds she wouldn't understand it enough to be afraid.
- In The Riddle Master Trilogy, Morgan had, in the backstory, casually won a riddle game where hundreds of others had lost their lives. He came home with his reward (a crown) and hid it under the bed because he wasn't sure that he wasn't a complete idiot.
- In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Sybel is too young, and too powerful to know fear. She proves the fearless part when she summons The Rommalb, a creature which destroys any who fear. She proves the fool part when she continues to steal Spell Books from other wizards, despite Maelga's warnings.
- Michael is this in the first book of the Knight and Rogue Series. Any point in later books where he chooses to flee rather than fight includes a line about Fisk having finally gotten it through his skull that in some situations it's a much better idea to run.
- In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Billy Toyodo is unafraid of death because he thinks life is just a computer simulation and he'll just get another run through. The captain feels ashamed to ask him to volunteer for something dangerous because of it. (Still does, though.)
- Used as the twist in Rowan of Rin. John is beaten by the mountain not because he was afraid, but because he wasn't and should have been. Exhausted and slowly freezing he realises that Sheba was right, only fools do not fear, and admits this to Rohan.
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, when asking of Jane Geary why she changed, Geary explains to her that he was afraid, and her brother was afraid, while making their heroic stands.
- In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the Brute is the only one not afraid, he's too stupid.
- Gaia Moore of Fearless is this. Having been born without the capability for fear, she repeatedly finds herself in over her head because she lacks the ability to judge that a situation is beyond her.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan charges a man with a stunner, and Tej pronounces him either very foolish or very brave. Ivan explains that it was his own stunner, which is set up so only he could fire it.
- One version of Plato's Laches argues the definition of cowardice, courage and recklessness, illustrated by a soldier dropping his sword so he can better cover himself with his shield as he runs, the soldier facing the enemy with sword and shield, and the soldier throwing his shield behind him so he can get to the part where he stabs people faster.
- In Max Frei's Labyrinths of Echo becoming this is a necessary step for any wizard wishing to progress beyond a certain point. For most, it just means that they've came to the Eldritch Abomination/Physical God level, and literally have nothing to fear, as they've embedded themselves into the fabric of the Multiverse, becoming completely indestructble.
- Mandorallen of The Belgariad is the pinnacle of knighthood: honourable, courteous, fearless and incredibly badass. The problem is that he is also completely unable to accept the premise that it is possible for him to be hurt or killed. The one time he actually does experience fear, it leads to him putting a bit more discretion in his valour...for about six pages, and then he goes right back to proposing things like taking a handful of friends and attacking the united armies of a continent-spanning empire. There's a reason the heroes rarely use strategies proposed by Mandorallen.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen:
- Crump's incredibly high tolerance for dangerous conduct and general disregard for his own life is not only a family trait, but undoubtedly stems from his Ax Craziness and love of grenades which he gleefully demonstrates in The Bonehunters.
- The Bonehunters also gives us Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas, who is blessed by the twin gods of luck and also a Glory Seeker par excellence — which makes for an explosive combination of accidental awesomeness in delicate situations.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Coming of Age" explicitly references the trope, even though it doesn't show an example of the character in that episode. Wesley is worrying about the final test for his Starfleet Academy entrance exam: a psychological test designed specifically to stoke their fears and test how they face them. Worf helps him, much to Wesley's surprise—he saw Worf as the bravest man on Enterprise, and thought that meant he had no fear. Worf's response seems to echo the trope name quote: "Only fools have no fear." He then explains that even Klingons, known as a "fearless" warrior race, know fear, but only those who overcome it ever go on to greatness.
- A later episode had this Trope explained in an anecdote by Kahless, who's basically the Klingon Messiah. Once, Kahless was staying in a village that was about to be ravaged by a powerful wind storm. All the Klingons who lived there took shelter in a cave, save for one man who stood at a cliff facing the storm. When Kahless asked why the man didn't hide with the others, he replied, "I will not run away from this danger. I will stand here and make the wind respect me." Kahless honored his wish and went inside to hide. When the citizens came out the next day, they quickly found the man's body among the wreckage. "The wind does not respect the fool."
- In Red Dwarf, Lister has his fear removed by the polymorph beast that feeds on emotions. He wants to charge in recklessly at the beast and volunteers to be the bait, so the others can kill it "while it's eating me to death".
- Alan Davies on QI, whose job is to leap in with the obvious answers where a wiser panelist might hesitate. Has been working in his favor lately, as the panelists have started to assume the obvious answer will be incorrect and go to great lengths to avoid giving it — when it was correct all along, giving Alan easy points.
- Arguably, Mulder of The X-Files. He tends to rush into dangerous situations without thinking, leading to several instances in which Scully has to come save his butt. Some have speculated that he has subconscious self-destructive urges that play into this.
- In the Doctor Who serial "Planet of the Daleks", the Doctor explains to a Thal, a fellow captive, that his heroic action of leading off the enemy was heroic despite his fear, and that everyone else who does heroic things is the same.
- More than once, the Doctor has expressed that knowing when to get the hell out of the way of the Dalek extermination rays is a good thing, and how much running his life involves is a Running Gag. We have also seen him truly, properly afraid more than once. At one point, when cornered by a monster that kills at a touch, he said "I said I was afraid of dying, and that's no lie. Advantage, me!" and makes escaping (through a method he was actually testing the viability of with a series of apparently meaningless actions earlier) a Crowning Moment of Awesome. As he once said to Clara, “We don't walk away. But when we're holding on to something precious, we run. We run and run, fast as we can, and we don't stop running until we are out from under the shadow.”
- Raylan Givens of Justified is a badass, no doubts about it. However, he tends to let his reputation go to his head a little, and pick fights with people he really shouldn't. Like 2 giant guys in a bar while he's wasted, or Coover Bennett. Then in season 3 he goes and pulls an gun on Limehouse seemingly forgetting that he is all by himself in a remote community where everyone is extremely loyal to Limehouse and would have no problem with killing a white law enforcement official and making the body disappear. Having a dozen rifles and shotguns pointed at him in response, Raylan luckily clues him in that he has gone too far and instead makes a deal with Limehouse that lets them both walk out of there alive.
- Max of Wizards of Waverly Place. Lampshaded in the Zombie Prom episode.
- When Ralph Malph from Happy Days became paralyzed with fear over an upcoming tornado, they had a doctor hypnotize him to be brave. It ended up working too well and turned him into this trope, deliberately putting himself in danger for the sake of it. The managed to snap him out of it before the tornado hit, only to discover he truly was brave all along when he pushed Richie out of the way when a bookshelf almost fell on him.
- An episode of The Storyteller adapts the folktale of "The Boy Who Set Out To Learn What Fear Was," mentioned above, but with the heartwarming twist that, after a parade of grotesqueries, what finally gets Fearnot to genuinely shudder is the fear of losing his sweetheart.
- In Gotham, after Johnathan Crane's father gave himself a treatment to help rid him of fear, upon being cornered by Gordon and Bullock, despite them being armed, he attacked them, claiming he no longer had fear. He was almost immediately shot and killed.
- In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Blink", the main culprit is a high-functioning psychopath who does not experience fear like a normal person. His lack of self-preservation instincts leads him to feel he's invincible, and to engage in risky sports (cave diving, base jumping) and work (high-steel construction), in addition to committing crimes without fear of arrest and making dubious deals with mobsters who are likely to kill him if he slips up. He eventually does experience fear when he learns that his own wife, whom he'd believed had faith in his invincibility, has secretly taken out extra life insurance on him because she's 100% convinced he's going to get himself killed.
- Captain "Dreadnought" Foster in Horatio Hornblower is shown to be a man with no fear—in his first scene he takes command of the supply ship he's on and orders it to fire on a Spanish frigate, in one of his last heroically climbs aboard a fire ship to steer it away from the British fleet. But though Foster bravely disregards his own life, he disregards the lives of everyone around him, too—most of the schooner's crew is killed and Horatio, initially an admirer, realizes how foolish his hero is when Foster insists on taking supplies from his own supply ship, which is under quarantine for plague.
- Wagner's Siegfried. Wagner explicitly described him as The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was (the name of an old fairy-tale). And it's what kills him in the end...
- It is quite common that a good guy, or "babyface" is said to have "more guts than brains" (as Jim Ross would say), because they continue to fight back despite being beaten down time and again, refuse to submit to submission moves, have no problems with accepting a 3-on-1 challenge, etc.
- The "Rate Tank" Kellie Skater (weighing in at 68 kilograms of pure adamantium) of SHIMMER is a heel version - she blithely walks up to every badass woman on the roster, registering no fear whatsoever as she disrespects them and challenges them to matches. Every single time, she gets obliterated - but at no point does Kellie ever catch on that she's being destroyed. She keeps on taunting her opponent and bringing the fight even if she's getting smashed against the barricades, tied into a pretzel, or back-fisted in the face.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Imperium of Man as a whole can be seen as this. However, humanity is not just a Fearless Fool, but an extremely well-armed fool, too.
- The Orks too, arguably. Although the only reason for their lack of fear is they were the only race not affected by the Nightbringer, they definitely appear Fearless Fools to the rest of the galaxy. One savvy (insane even by Ork standards, but still savvy) ork boss knows that Orks aren't afraid to die. So, when da boyz piss him off he tears their arms off instead. THAT intimidates them.
- "And they shall know no fear" — except that that would indeed make Space Marines fools. So often enough in the fluff, a character will admit that they do know fear, they just don't let it rule them.
- The rule "And They Shall Know No Fear" ups the odds that the Space Marines will rally after falling back from combat. With their latest codex, it combines with "Combat Tactics" to let them escape fights they can't win, hop back to a safe firing range, and continue blasting away. Fear is just their way of knowing when they need to change tactics.
- In the Deathwatch RPG, Space Marines really don't know fear. Fear that can kill humans or make them insane just makes Space Marines lose cohesion as a fighting unit. The lack of fear is one reason why Space Marines have difficulty understanding humans. The closest thing to fear that they feel is disorientation and discomfort.
- By contrast, there's a universal special rule called Fearless. Combined with the "No Retreat" rule (which has been abolished), it often causes extra casualties when a player loses a close combat. The most famous example of "Fearless" units are Khorne Berserkers, who undergo lobotomies to remove their frontal lobes, completely removing their ability to feel fear.
- The Space Wolves invoke this with their assault units. Where most Chapters have their Marines progress as both Devastators and Assault Marines before having demonstrated they have the skill to stand and the sense not to rush in are moved to the maine battle line as Tactical Marines, the Bloodclaws and Skyclaws are the Wolves' newest recruits, being both young and stupid enough to try Crazy Enough to Work tactics. By contrast, their Long Fangs are much Older and Wiser, having abandoned the Glory Seeker ways of their youth.
- Dawn of War gives these two quotes:
Foolish are those who fear nothing, yet claim to know everything.
Brave are they who know everything yet fear nothing.
- The Tyranids are similar — while they aren't capable of feeling fear, they can and do retreat if the Zerg Rush tactic doesn't seem to be working. In fact, it might be said that "fearless" in most 40K terms is not synonymous with "lacking common sense". The vast majority of 'nids probably do fall into this trope, but only in the sense that without their psychic synapse creatures to guide they are little more intelligent that dogs.
- The Necron codex explains that while they don't actually feel fear, they still need to take morale tests for pinning and such because the best tactical move would be to stay down.
- Over in classic Warhammer, frenzied units often fall into this due to Unstoppable Rage — units with frenzy are totally immune to psychology effects like terror or panic and get bonus attacks, but at the same time, they automatically surge forward at enemy units, even when this would involve running through Hollywood Quicksand, over a cliff, into a necropolis occupied by swarms of the undead, or into a position where a unit of Chaos Knights led by Archaon, Lord of the End Times has a flank charge open. Of course the survivors lose their Frenzy after suffering a bad round of combat, but against some opponents that's not going to leave a whole lot of sadder but wiser units.
- Also in the fantasy version, we have Dwarf Slayers who intentionally invoke this in-universe. Occasionally, a dwarf will do something that so destroys his honor (like, say, leading a troop into a blazingly obvious trap that kills everyone else) that their only recourse is ritual suicide; not quietly in their own homes, of course, but rather by finding the largest, most dangerous thing in the land and charging at it shirtless with a hand-axe. They start as Troll Slayers, and eventually move up to Giant, Dragon or Daemon slayers. Note that these aren't badges of armor; they're warnings to not come between this orange-mohawked ball of death and something large and nasty enough to actually kill them. This is because the dwarves are so stubborn as an entire race, that they're psychologically incapable of suicide in any other fashion than "at the hands of a ridiculously dangerous enemy". Gotrek, the most famous Slayer and most "successful" was only finally killed when the entire universe was destroyed by the Chaos Gods, and even then it's implied he was resurrected as one of the new Dwarven Pantheon.
- Scion has Virtues that divine beings possess. Two of these are Courage and Valor. The higher your score, the more power you can draw from them... and the harder it is to resist them. If you want to act against them, you either need to fail a Virtue roll or spend Willpower. (So if you're half-dead and someone is attacked by Titanspawn, you roll Valor - and if you succeed, you have to save them even though you'll probably die trying.) This also comes with the Virtue Extremity - if you somehow manage to keep avoiding your higher Virtues, you will eventually snap and pursue them without any thought towards your own wellbeing.
- This likewise shows up when a character needs to fail a Valor roll or else spend Willpower to avoid doing something foolhardy. And if they do spend Willpower, then they'll accrue Limit, and when it finally tops off, something stupid and horrifying will happen.
- Various Charms can turn even the wimpiest of losers into a Fearless Fool. One Infernal Charm in particular, Cosmic Transcendence of Valor, makes you unable to feel any kind of fear— even when you're staring at the depth of Oblivion.
- One demonic, gluttonous race called the Gordians (imagine a cross between an ogre and a dwarf that has been fed on a steady diet of lard) in Palladium's Land of the Damned One: Chaos Lands are described as having eggshell thin egos and going to insane lengths to prove themselves worthy ("You call Throka coward? Watch, Throka kill Dragon!").
- Hank Samson, a playable investigator from Arkham Horror has this trope as a built-in game mechanic. Normally, whenever a Player Character encounters a monster, they have to pass a Horror check at the beginning. Not Samson. Thanks to his unique "Thick-skulled" ability, he only has to pass it after the fight, only realizing what a horrifying Eldritch Abomination it was after taking some time to mull it over.
- In the Dragonlance setting for Dungeons & Dragons, kender suffer the quadruple afflictions of an extreme sense of curiosity, a low tolerance for boredom, zero understanding of property ownership and a very limited capacity for fear — most kender only ever experience it through magic designed to terrify people, such as that broadcast by dragons or powerful undead, and even then, it's very muted. This unholy combination of traits makes them prone to doing very Chaotic Stupid things, and is one of the reasons why they are The Scrappy for D&D players.
- From the context of the ride's story, the guests themselves are basically this in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, where they all willingly agree to go out into the city that's currently infested with some of Spider-Man's most deadly villains just to get J. Jonah Jameson the scoop on what's happening out there.
- Might & Magic VIII, with the artifact Berserker Belt. It raises the Might stat to obscene levels and grants immunity to fear... at the considerable expense of both Accuracy and Armor Class. The trope is mentioned in the Flavor Text, describing the belt as a failed attempt to create an ultimate warrior.
- Orcs Must Die!:
- The player character. Throughout the levels, he constantly shows no fear and continues to taunt the invading Orcs, despite the fact that the world appears doomed as there are not enough Warmages to stop the Orcs.
Old Warmage: Now she's bound the numberless horde to her will and returns to teach the Order harsh lessons in humility and subservience. But she's in for a surprise; I'm reasonably sure my apprentice is unteachable.
- The Old Warmage shows a bit of grudging respect for his Apprentice in the end, admitting that the Apprentice was the only member of the Order brave enough, or foolish enough, to sacrifice magic to save the world.
- The player character. Throughout the levels, he constantly shows no fear and continues to taunt the invading Orcs, despite the fact that the world appears doomed as there are not enough Warmages to stop the Orcs.
- In Medieval II: Total War, this is brought up in a general's speech, when he describes anyone who is genuinely not afraid before a battle as a "moon-struck fool."
- Touhou Project has this in the form of fairies.
- Partially justified with the Spellcard rules making official fights nonlethal, but you would think that, given that fighting is still painful, to the point where even true immortals just give up rather than keep getting hurt, some fairies would learn not to die in relentless Redshirt Army wave attacks at heroines who are functionally impossible for a basic nameless fairy to kill, no matter the odds, especially since some don't even have offensive powers, and essentially can only harm a heroine by simply standing there as the heroine blindly collides with her. As a justification for the fearlessness (if not the aggression in the first place), fairies have lives tied to nature, and as long as nature exists, they will regenerate From a Single Cell.
- Cirno deserves special mention. In spite of being a fairly weak character (normally), she proudly boasts about how she's "The Strongest" (of the fairies, which isn't saying much, as most fairies are weaker than unpowered ordinary humans), and trying to prove it by repeatedly challenging beings far more powerful than herself, even though those characters have already easily curb-stomped her in the past. Apparently, The Fog of Ages is on extra strength for Cirno, and she can't remember the numerous humiliating defeats she seems to suffer on a regular basis.
- The eponymous Kerbals of Kerbal Space Program are fearless enough to want to go to space and foolish enough to fly there in the spacecraft you built. Special mention goes to Jebediah Kerman, Valentina Kerman, and any random 10% of the white-suit Kerbals, all of whom bear a hidden "BadS = true" attribute - these men and women will never show any trepidation about the craft, its current explodiness or trajectory. They will all wear their same gleeful smiles all the way to whatever landing awaits them. Jebediah's Steam trading card lampshades this perfectly.
Fearless? Brainless? Who can tell?
- Monster Hunter: Part of the reason why the Great Jaggi and the smaller Jaggis that accompany it are the series Butt-Monkey is a combination of this, Bullying a Dragon, and Too Dumb to Live. To elaborate, it has a tendency to pick fights they can't win, even in large numbers. This contrasts the Great Maccao, it's replacement in Generations which is a Dirty Coward that tends to avoid any real danger.
- Leeroy Jenkins Video: Leeroy certainly doesn't care that he's aggroing a lot of whelps that can lead to his death. All he cares about is that he's not chicken and will face on those threats singlehandedly without any silly plans. Time's up, let's do this, LEEROOOOOOOOY JEEEEEENKIIINNNNSSS!!!
- DSBT InsaniT: Troubling Unchildlike Behavior aside, Bear doesn't seem to notice when in a situation that will get him killed, as long as there is some fun to be had with it.
- No Rest for the Wicked: The Boy. (Since he's The Boy Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was, and The Fool — what a surprise.)
- In The Order of the Stick, Miko Miyazaki calls Xykon (a lich) an unholy abomination. Redcloak proceeds to explain why Xykon's far more natural than she is. Specifically, he became a lich to continue to survive, survival being a basic instinct. Miko, however, has a class feature removing fear, which Redcloak argues is such a fundamental instinct that the act of removing it makes the paladin far more unnatural than Xykon.
- Five Waves Fury in Keychain of Creation has a Valor score of 5...and doesn't it just show. All characters have four Virtues: Compassion, Conviction, Temperance and Valor. Each Virtue is ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 being low and 5 being extremely high. In fact, a Virtue of 4 or above is overpowering, and compels someone to action (or inaction) even if they know it's a bad idea. In the case of Fury, her absurdly high Valor means she is scared of nothing, not even her Deathlord boss, The First and Forsaken Lion.
- Dork Tower With motivational poster!
- In American Barbarian, Rick assures someone that yes, it's all right to be a little afraid when facing something completely unknown.
- In Sinfest, Monique inquires how he got into the fight in the first place when he's after Rescue Sex.
- Tikoloteo from Restaurante Macoatl, fits this trope perfectly he usually takes the most dangerous path, even worst because he used to be a Tour guide.
- Jareth in Roommates is thought to be this in-universe. In reality he acts this way because he is so powerful that he rarely is in any actual danger (if he looks concerned Oh, Crap! is on the horizon) so he is a inversion.
- In The Adventures of Shan Shan, Cassie repels Adam's suggestion that being afraid means she should stay home.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Ysengrin says something to this effect when Antimony admits she was scared during a fight.
Annie: In truth, Ysengrin, I was scared back there.
Ysengrin: Haha. Good. Scared is good. It sharpens your senses, increases your resolve.
- Oglaf provides the current page picture with this strip, where an Emotion Eater wraith eats the character's fear.
- Rob from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes seems to go out of his way to pick fights with Creturians who invade his city.
- The Penguins of Madagascar:
- Mort, the butt-monkey of the show who doesn't feel pain because, according to Kowalski, he's simply not aware that he's in danger.
- An episode has the penguins deal with a dodo cloned from Kowalski's inventions from a feather they mistook to be from an extinct species of penguin that they wanted to fight on their team. Although the penguins found his fearlessness appealing at first, they very soon realize that with fearlessness comes a complete and utter disregard for personal safety as the dodo repeatedly gets himself killed in a variety of ways, forcing the penguins to resurrect him numerous times.note
- In The New Batman Adventures episode "Never Fear", the Scarecrow creates a toxin that removes fears and inhibitions, making everyone who falls under its influence—Batman for one—thoroughly reckless... and worse. In Batman's case, it also renders him rather heartless, as he no longer fears what anyone's going to think of him if he breaks his own rule and murders a criminal. The writers thus make the point that fear is necessary to the very survival of civilization, as it keeps people from acting on their worst impulses most of the time; we would not want to be around to see what would happen if Scarecrow had succeeded in turning everybody in Gotham into fearless fools with his gas as he was threatening to do.
- Hank Venture from The Venture Bros. as opposed to his Cowardly Lion brother Dean. He idolized his bodyguard Brock Samson and tries to emulate him whenever he can. Unfortunately for him, Brock is an ultra-violent badass and Sociopathic Hero, leading Hank to make foolishly suicidal choices.
- Danny Phantom: Jack Fenton to a tee. He has a very bad habit of rushing off into battle whenever a ghost appears. Unfortunately he's only semi-competent when it comes to fighting, being he's the Bumbling Dad and all. He's often saved either through his superpowered son or just plain luck. Though once in a blue moon, he will show above-average skills.
- The Tick: The Tick himself is Nigh Invulnerable and completely insane. This means that no amount of danger can stop him from serving the evildoers a hot justice sandwich (no toppings necessary!)
- Scooby-Doo: When faced with a monster Scrappy Doo always says "Let me at em!" and punches the air, while Shaggy and Scooby grab him and run.
- Averted a few times like in The Nutcracker Scoob, Scrappy has zero problem defeating a cat that's bigger than him and throwing it right out the building. He also dispatches of a larger human Farquard in Boo Brothers.
- Also averted in "South Seas Scare" Where he throws an honest-to-goodness lava monster back into the volcano at the end of the short.
- Not to mention at the end of "The Scarab Lives!" he manages to get a one-up on The titular Scarab by jumping on his head and holding his paws over the Scarab's eyes, allowing, Shaggy and Scooby to barrel into them and subdue the Scarab.
- At the end of "The Ghoul, The Bat, and The Ugly" when the Monster of the Week tries escaping through a revolving door, Scrappy runs after him and spams it so that it spins it right back out again and causes it to crash into a pool table.
Velma: You got him alright, Scrappy! Right behind the 8-Ball!
- Also, in "Mummy's The Word", where Scrappy takes on a bunch of crocodiles by leaping from croc to croc, forcing each one's mouth shut.
- Subverted in "Gem of a Case", where Scrappy hears Shaggy out after he's pulled back.
- And in "The Chinese Food Factory", made a lasso out of nothing but cooked noodles to catch the main antagonist. It worked.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Paco lampshades this as applied to the Green Lanterns, saying that "a man without fear has a serious mental condition."
- An episode of Earthworm Jim where Jim ends up in a world similar to The Wizard of Oz, where all his friends and enemies play the roles of the characters, has the Hamsternator playing the role of the Cowardly Lion... However instead of always being afraid, he never feels any fear whatsoever, leading him to do outlandish, dangerous things that almost always end with him getting injured. This includes running out in front of an (offscreen) big truck.
- Invoked in Fat Dog Mendoza. As Fat Dog himself puts it, "Being fearless and being dumb usually go hand-in-hand."
- Max Goof from Goof Troop is very clever, when it comes to coming up with ideas. When it comes to thinking the ideas through... not so much. Over the course of the series, he wanted to help a baby bear find its parents, go to the big city unsupervised, skate on a ramp that even a famous professional thought was too dangerous, try to save his dad from The Mafia by himself, among other things. He treats his more sensible friend, PJ, as The Drag-Along. In multiple episodes Max ends up in serious danger because he was being too careless.
Max: Remember the three rules of camping. Be clean, be courteous, and be careful. Helping this little guy is the courteous thing to do.
PJ: You let me know when we hit that part about "careful".
- A Bonkers short has a messenger service with Fawn Deer as the clerk and a customer comes in wanting their most fearless rider to deliver his item. Fawn Deer notes "Our most fearless rider is right over there," and points to a grave, compete with headstone; when the customer reacts into confusion and Fawn notes in complete earnestness, "Sometimes, it's smart to show a little fear!"
- Urbach-Wiethe Disease is a very rare condition that causes calcium deposits to form in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the fear response. Thus those with the condition experience no fear or other traumatic symptoms even in dangerous situations such as being held at knifepoint, though they still do recognize intellectually that it is a good idea to (say) get out of the way of oncoming traffic. An interview with one sufferer, identified only as "S.M." for safety reasons, was featured on NPR's Invisibilia podcast, describing symptoms that sound remarkably like this trope.
- Seriously averted in extreme sports. While extreme sports often appear like something designed for fearless fools, they are not. Each and every performance is pre-planned, pre-thought and pre-practiced, and anything that may go wrong have been taken into account. The reason is that the risks of extreme sports are real and when realized, may well be fatal. Risks are accepted but not sought. A fearless fool would rush in recklessly, without any forethought — and have himself seriously maimed or even killed when things go horribly wrong.