Glass Cannon

"I'm the caster, y'know! It's like I'm a cannon made out of glass. Like a... y'know, like a dainty figurine so ornately decorated you can't imagine how something so fragile manages to exist in this brutal, ugly world... And it makes you weep."
8-Bit Theater's Black Mage, on himself

In short: they can dish it out, but they can't take it. The Glass Cannon is characterized by insane attack power coupled with pathetic defensive ability.

Prevalent in RPGs and fighting games, as the cast needs to be big enough that "takes hits like a chump" becomes a viable character trait. In RPGs, the Glass Cannon tends to be a Squishy Wizard. Artillery or archer units in Real-Time Strategy and Turn-Based Strategy games also tend to have this trait, as they're meant to be far away from combat, or at least in the back of the formation.

Make the Glass Cannon incapable of taking any punishment at all and you've got a One-Hit-Point Wonder. A matchup between two of these usually results in a game of Rocket Tag. When the enemy tries to take out the Glass Cannon as fast as possible, it's Shoot the Mage First.

Glass Cannons often overlap with the Fragile Speedster; characters of that type tend to put out high damage and dodge most incoming attacks, but go down quickly if they do get hit. Also often overlaps with Long-Range Fighter, using range to keep out of harm's way. The direct inverse of Stone Wall, who takes it but can't dish it out. Compare and contrast Mighty Glacier, who can dish out at the expense of speed rather than toughness, and Lightning Bruiser, who can do the same without sacrificing anything. A vessel mounted with a Wave Motion Gun may have some aspects of this immediately following it's use, as the Power Limiter of the weapon often is that it leaves the vessel defenseless for a time. See also: Competitive Balance and PVP Balanced.

Not to be confused with cannons that launch glass projectiles such as the Glass Cannon artillery unit in the game Rise of Legends.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • If it weren't for their Healing Factor, the Titans in Attack on Titan would be incredibly easy to destroy. Sure, they're huge, and if they grab you, you're dead, but their bodies are incredibly light and fragile. This is especially true of Eren, who often hits things so hard, his bones actually snap apart from the impact and have to regenerate. This is best showcased when he punches a Titan in the head so hard, its head is sent flying into a church, but his hand is destroyed in the process.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
    • Fate's Sonic Drive form introduced in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. It improves on her original Sonic Form by giving her a lot of oomph to complement the speed increase, boosting her magic powers to astounding levels and letting her access Bardiche's Riot Zamber form. But much like the original Sonic Form, all of this comes at the cost of armor, so all it'll take is one good hit to make her fall. Not that it proves to be much of a detriment; so far, only Erio has managed to land a hit during a mock battle in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid, where it indeed wiped out most of Fate's Hit Points.
    • Hayate has also shades of this: her spells range from nuclear explosion to... bigger nuclear explosion, but it comes with looooooong casting time and inability to take hits. She even said Caro would win against her in one-on-one. This is counterbalanced by the fact that Hayate almost never fights one on one; even without her other allies, most of the time she still has Reinforce with her, who can separate and hold off a target with a slew of not quite as powerful, but quite a bit faster spells while Hayate prepares her Wave Motion Gun.
    • Lutecia Alpine is an S-rank summoner who, in StrikerS, is capable of summoning insects that rival Caro's powers, but has hardly any moves with which to protect herself. However, as of ViVid, she appears to have developed the magical capabilities to fight alone well enough to enter the tournament alongside Vivio and her friends.
    • The Numbers from StrikerS are very powerful, but they can't take hits that well and most of them seem to not have defense skills. Their teamwork makes them dangerous, but if you're strong or skilled enough to take one after another down, then it's not a problem. In the Grand Finale, all Numbers are defeated by one or a few hits.
    • Like Fate, Micaiah Chevelle from ViVid is this overlapped with Fragile Speedster: she has a Barrier Jacket (or Knight Clothing) which is designed to give her immense speed for minimum defense. This speed supports her extremely powerful sword attacks greatly, but her lack of defense becomes a lethal disadvantage against Lightning Bruiser Miura who has melee versions of Nanoha's Starlight Breaker.
  • The Big Bad of the final arc of Ranma ˝ has powers bordering on a Person of Mass Destruction and he can tank Ki Attacks, but a rather pampered life has lead him to be rather weak against physical attacks. Of course this is just compared to the completely Made of Iron fighters in most of the series (he was called a wuss for being moderately injured by a boulder... being thrown by tornado winds that were drilling into the ground and altering the course of an underground river).
  • Akane Tendo as well. Though she can dish out punches with the best of them, she has nowhere near the healing speed or toughness of any of the other characters; while she is too skilled to be The Load in an actual fight, she is still regarded by some as a Damsel Scrappy because she insists on getting into a fight, but somebody (mainly Ranma) usually has to keep an eye on her because she can't take the hits they can.
  • Pikachu fits this trope well in Pokémon. Massively powerful attacks? Check. Tendency to go down quickly in a fight? Oh yeah.
  • Tieria Erde's Gundam in The Movie, the Raphael, is this. It is equipped with Big Friggin' Wave Motion Guns that can also function as Attack Drones. However, due to said Gundam not being equipped with real GN Drives as well as the lack of resources used while it was being created, all defensive capabilities were sacrificed in favor of its offense. His earlier Gundam Nadleeh qualifies as well: it's essentially a Fragile Speedster with the Exia's close-combat attack power. Naturally, it's only used in emergency as it's a Dual Mode Unit, its other form being Gundam Virtue.
    • The GN Arms from the first season too. Lockon absolutely owned everyone with it until Ali incapacitated him with a single well-aimed shot at his beam cannon. Then it turned out the Gundam piloting the exoskeleton is tougher than the actual exoskeleton! Another example of this trope is the Gadessa: its main weapon is a Wave Motion Gun with ridiculous range... and not much armor. It still has a backup weapon and a beam saber but its defensive capabilities are nowhere near those of the others, as Lockon took it out in the final battle with a point-blank burst from his Gundam's sidearm after Playing Possum to lure it close.
    • Even seen in Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO during the gravity front. Zaku's are portrayed as having tremendous and devastating firepower...but one direct hit from a tiny tank or missile team can still one shot them. Fortunately it seems that even non new type mook Zeke's can Dodge the Bullet.
  • Lillidan Crauser of The Prince of Tennis. He is extremely powerful, able to curb-stomp a bloodshot Kirihara using even greater violent play than him. However, he lacks stamina and defense. Considering this it comes as no surprise that Devil Akaya completely trashes him in a matter of minutes.
  • In Hajime No Ippo, minor character Eleki Battery who fought Kimura is definitely one. He has enough power to knock Kimura down in one blow, however, all Kimura needed to do was land one hit to his body to knock him down.
    • Also Ryuichi Hayami, who's got very good counters and speed as well as strength... but one well placed punch and he's out. This gets so bad that, when Kobashi manages to deal him a REALLY well-placed hit in the jaw, the injury he sustains forces him to retire.
  • Shiki, The Dragon and (sort-of) Squishy Wizard from Black Cat. His normal attacks do more damage than anything this side of the The Hero, the Big Good, and The Big Bad's final moves, but he goes down with one pistol-whip from Train.
  • The Japanese National Team in Captain Tsubasa. They've got excellent scorers in Tsubasa, Aoi and Hyuga as well as great GK's like Wakabayashi and Wakashimazu, but one of their biggest flaws is how easily their defense can be torn and the rival teams can try their luck at scoring. And since the two Waka GK's are prone to Game Breaking Injuries...
    • Single player version: Jun Misugi. Excellent strategist, very dedicated, great at teamwork, marvelous scorer... and with pathetic stamina due to being an ex-Ill Boy. Hence why he's seen more often than not in manager positions and doesn't play until it's mandatory.
  • Similarly, Hisashi Mitsui from Slam Dunk is one of the best 3-point scorers in Japanese HS basketball. But around 3/4 of an intense game, he's almost completely knocked out and unable to merely walk outside the basketball fields.
  • In the first season if Yu-Gi-Oh! (where the card game was the least like its Real Life equivalent) both Zombie and Machine-Type Monsters were described like this, incredibly strong on offense but really bad at anything else, especially defense. (Of course, the actual game isn't like this at all, at least not all the time.)
  • Nami from One Piece. Her Clima Tact can make very dangerous lightning attacks, and while they take some time to charge up, her offensive power with these makes her one of the most dangerous Straw Hats. She is one of the very few people who can hurt Luffy with a regular punch, though it is because she "beats up his spirit". Her durability, however, is very puny and no better than that of real life human.
    • Early series baddie Kuro is this as well. He can slice people up like Salami, and his Shakushi ability makes him damn near untouchable. However, he just can't take a hit. When Luffy slows him down, the fight ends very soon after.
    • King Elizabello II of the Prodence Kingdom's signature attack, the King Punch, can make a hole in an enemy fortress wall, though it takes an hour to charge so he needs to be protected while preparing it. When tried out in an arena, it basically destroyed it, and would have killed the audience if a Barrier Warrior hadn't been standing by. Unfortunately, he's nothing special in terms of toughness, getting one-shotted by the same barrier warrior immediately afterwards. With a punch, at that.
  • May of Fullmetal Alchemist has quite a few different ranged attacks with her alkahestry, but is one of the least durable characters, partly the result of being a young girl.
  • Alyssa of Mai-Hime has the ability to cause devastation on a large scale with her Child, Artemis, but unlike other Himes, does not have an Element to protect herself, instead relying on Miyu's assistance.
  • Shin Kazama of Area 88 fits this trope. He deals a nasty blow to Saki's head during a temporary psychotic rage, but Mickey floors him with one punch.
  • Itachi Uchiha is basically this in Naruto. Despite having three of the most powerful attacks in the entire manga, Itachi's base arsenal lacks versatility. Not only that, a sufficiently strong character could One-Hit KO if they got close. His stamina is particularly low as well, meaning he can't fight for extended periods. Those three powerful attacks? They cost more than 30% of his total chakra, meaning he can't spam them like his brother Sasuke can.
  • The Grand Cross from Bodacious Space Pirates can be considered as an example of this. It possesses advanced technology and high-tech weapons that can destroy spacecraft instantly. However, its shielding is very vulnerable to heavy bombardment.
  • Space Battleship Yamato has the Super Battleship Andromeda. All the ships in the Andromeda fleet have double wave motion guns but still get easily destroyed just by the force of the White Comet's vortex.
  • In The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, the main character Weed considers his non-combat title-class to be this, he calls his class a "glass sculptor" as his unique attacks do a lot of damage, but because he is a crafter class, he cannot equip heavy armor, and does not receive the ordinary damage reducing skills of, say, a warrior.
  • Bleach:
    • Ikkaku's sword is unpredictable, dangerous, and incredibly powerful. However, it breaks easily because its shikai form is a wooden spear, and the bankai's overpowered force makes itself brittle. There's a heavy implication that his sword breaks so easily because Ikkaku is refusing to use his power correctly. Ikkaku himself is not this trope.
    • Ran Tao in the anime filler Bount Arc is a very skilled spell user but her stamina is heavily compromised by her extreme age.
  • King from The Seven Deadly Sins is capable of dispensing incredible attacks with his Morph Weapon. However, he is a massive Squishy Wizard as he can't even physically beat an old man with a bad back in unarmed combat.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, this is the defining characteristic of the Rinkaku Ghouls. Their kagune possess incredible striking power, but the cellular structure is brittle and easily damaged.
  • Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index is a strange example of this. Normally he's Nigh Invulnerable thanks to his ability to redirect all vectors within a certain radius of him (if he has an oxygen tank a nuke wouldn't faze him). He's also incredibly powerful to the point of being able casually break a continent if sufficiently pissed. However, once that fancy ability of his is bypassed he's nothing more than a scrawny teenager waiting to be pummeled.

    Comic Books 
  • Many telepaths in X-Men, such as Professor X, have powerful Psychic Powers but very weak physical attacks, and aren't of much use against opponents immune to telepathy (like robots).
    • Similarly, Cyclops' Eye Beams are devastatingly powerful, but if anyone actually hits him he's just as vulnerable as any non-powered human. Well, any non-powered human in peak physical condition with iron willpower and light body armor, but still — a lot of X-Men fight scenes start with Cyclops getting punched out or shot with regular bullets, because (from a writing perspective) otherwise he could settle the whole business with a look.
    • And, Storm may have god level power, but up close, she's hard to hit, but just as easily hurt as anyone else. Same with most of the other X-Men whose specialty is offensive power.
  • The same is true of Marvel magic users like Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, or Wiccan. They can do frightening things to time and space with little more than a gesture and some concentration, but they can also be rendered helpless by a Tap on the Head, drugs, being overwhelmed by bodies, being distracted in mid-spell, or simply being Bound and Gagged.
  • Much like the X-men with offensive powers is Fantastic Four member Human Torch. His flame powers give him high movement speed and an offensive edge. Unlike his allies, he lacks any way to use his powers to defend himself other than flying out of the way.
  • Humpty Dumpty in the Fables Spin-Off Jack of Fables is an almost literal example, being a cannon that was bowdlerisation into being an egg man.
  • Zatanna of The DCU can kill people with a (backwards) word (not that she ever has, she is a superhero). Only the stronger magical, divine, or cosmic beings in the DC universe can resist her powers. However, she isn't any more durable than most humans and can be taken down with a single well-placed punch. Overlaps with Squishy Wizard.
    • In Identity Crisis it is even explicitly mentioned in the narration-bubble: She is the most powerful member of the team, if she can get the words out. Slade Wilson (Deathstroke the Terminator) pokes her in the stomach, so lightly that it does not even hurt that much, but once she begins to vomit from the damage to her liver she is out of the fight.
  • Prism, an on and off member of the X-Men villain Mr. Sinister's Marauders, is literally made of glass. He can store light and energy (such as sunlight or Cyclops' optic blasts) and redirect it to devastating effect. But he is still made of freaking glass. Jean Grey killed him once by throwing him into a wall (not even that hard).
  • Emp's hypermembrane suit from Empowered. Amazing Super Strength, flight, energy beams, who knows how many other powers...and the durability of wet tissue paper. Good thing it can repair itself.
  • The Spider-Man villain Dr. Octopus may have control of four powerful and deadly metal arms, but he's otherwise a normal, somewhat out of shape human. Once the super-strong Spidey gets past his formidable defenses, Doc Ock goes down pretty quickly. This ultimately lead to his death as his body couldn't take the punishment Spidey dealt him any longer.
  • In Über, the Nazi "blitzmensch" superhumans have Eye Beams powerful enough to demolish towns and sink warships at ten-kilometer ranges, but their bodies are as fragile as a normal human's, allowing the stronger "panzermensch" to rip them apart at close range.

    Fan Works 
  • In An Entry With A Bang!, the marauding pirates with their Battletech... uh, tech... are somewhat confused by the fact that while Clancy-Earth has highly effective BVR capability, their warmachines can't take hits worth a damn.
  • The Firefly fanfic Forward puts an emphasis on River being one of these; she's portrayed as fast and powerful, but one good hit puts her down, which happens several times in the story.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, some starships rely on their BFG destroying all opposition before it can shoot back, having only light armor. In the sequel, Jack and Brick start off this way with their teaching style, only to realize later on how problematic the technique could be.
  • Lightning Bolt is one of these in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. She is the only pony of the main heroines to have a powerful special attack (Shining Spark), but she is prone to being injured during prolonged battles.
  • Devastator in The Measure Of A Titan is practically the paragon of this. His powers are theoretically capable of splitting a planet in half, and he can use them to fight multiple high-level metahumans at once, but he is as fragile as any normal human, and heals as slowly also.
  • Midori is one in Seven Days Survivor, as per Word of God and comments from the other characters. Minato explicitly includes a dedicated healer (Either himself or Yukari) on the team when Midori is in play simply to keep her up.
  • In The Games We Play, the White Tiger style is this - massive boosts to offence and mobility, but no buffs to defence. It left practitioners capable of dealing lots of damage, but being no tougher than an ordinary human. This was only slightly mitigated by the later development of the White Tiger's Hide, and is exacerbated by the Cast from Hit Points nature of the style's two strongest skills. As a result, while a master of the style is a tiger, tiger burning bright, he will not last the night. Jaune gets around this problem by picking up other defensive skills.
  • In Sonic X: Dark Chaos, while Sonic and Shadow are Lightning Bruisers, Eric is this trope instead. Both he (and his warship the Dreadnought) are capable of unleashing horrendous amounts of mayhem thanks to his speed and fondness for guns and explosions, but he's nearly always the first to go down in a pitched fight.

  • Battleship correctly shows that modern-day missile destroyers are this. They carry lots of missiles and the Aegis system allows them to Macross Missile Massacre an enemy, but they lack any real armor to protect them from return fire. The CIWS guns do an admirable job trying to protect the ships from the alien attack, but the enemy employs the More Dakka tactic to overwhelm the defenses. Their aforementioned Aegis systems also failed to work given that the attackers were often too close and failed to properly show up on radar.
  • Katniss of The Hunger Games is a quickdraw with a bow and takes out several competitors in seconds. Compared to the opposition she is untrained in how to fight up close and is slowed down significantly by relatively minor injuries.
  • Star Wars has TIE Interceptors, whose armament - twice or even occasionally thrice that of the more widespread TIE Fighters - means they actually represent a threat... for a short while. Their shielding is no better than that of the Fighters (that is, none whatsoever), so they break apart as soon as someone shines a laser pointer at them. Though if one actually watches the films, Rebel fighters actually die just as easily when not flown by main characters. So one wonders what those shields are for.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the flashback to the DL-6 incident shows that young Edgeworth was able to bite Yanni Yogi hard enough to distract the baliff from hitting his father, and later threw a gun at him hard enough to knock the guy out. When Yogi shoves him hard enough to be knocked against a wall though, Edgeworth collapses almost immediately. Given that he's a kid, it's pretty justified.
  • In Pacific Rim, the Japanese Jaeger, Coyote Tango, has huge retractable cannons mounted on its shoulders, but is apparently the most lightly armored of the Jaegers.
  • In The World's End, the Blanks have inhuman strength and agility, but you could burst their heads open with a well-thrown punch. This probably explains why our heroes, a bunch of a middle-aged out-of-shape men, are able to deal with crowds of them.
  • In Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, Megaguirus is so fast she can Flash Step circles around Godzilla, and strong enough to knock him around and pick him up. Once Godzilla gets a good hit in, she's finished.

  • In The Dresden Files Harry mentions that wizards are like this; for all of the magical weight they can throw around, they still need all of their squishy internals to work. He also frequently complains that nearly all supernatural creatures are Made of Iron at the least, cementing this trope
  • In Honor Harrington there are several ships like this. At one end of the extreme are outdated Solarian Navy ships which put more focus on offensive weapons than counter missiles and point defense lasers. Likewise, Maya's Arsenal ships which are capable of carrying thousands of long range missiles, but are just converted freighters and have no defense at all.
    • Special mention to HMS Wayfarer and her sisters: converted freighters, sluggish and armored for crap, but carrying super-dreadnought-class main guns capable of carving up a battlecruiser like a roast turkey, a complement of light-attack craft capable of laying down significant hurt in their own right, and, oh yeah, the first roll-out of the Manitcoran Missile Massacre.
    • Honor's first cruiser, the HMS Fearless was refitted with weapons that would allow it to kill far bigger ships. But the weapons' short range and the lack of any decent defenses resulted in a single resounding success during the first fleet exercise, and getting 'destroyed' in every exercise thereafter once the opponents had realized the threat and decided to give some payback for the first success.
    • The Manticoran LACs introduced in Echoes of Honor are armed with battlecruiser grade grasers, but they're not very survivable should an opponent decide to focus on them. In universe, LACs in general are described as "eggshells armed with hammers".
  • Not surprisingly the Lensman universe plays with this one, but the vulnerable sluggers are always accompanied by copious numbers of their exact opposite - ships that are all shield and nothing else (sometimes not even a human crew). There are, however, usually large numbers of balanced ships in the same fleet.
  • In the Bolo books, there are Enemy units that are just counter-grav platforms mounting Hellbores. They can be easily swatted by said supertanks, but can be a problem if allowed to attack. They aren't One-Hit Kill-capable, but the numbers are always on their side.
  • Coinshots in Mistborn are a kind of Misting who have only one power: the ability to telekinetically shoot metal away from their bodies. This makes them able to dish out a ton of damage, since a Coinshot with a pouch of money is basically a human machine gun, but they have no greater ability to resist damage than anyone else. Have a half-dozen Coinshots protected by about the same number of Thugs (Mistings who can increase their strength, speed, and durability to superhuman levels) though, and you've got yourself a small but very effective army.
    • Somewhat averted in The Alloy of Law, as firearms have become commonplace, and Coinshots are possibly the only Mistings who can reliably deflect bullets (Lurchers, who have the opposite ability, generally pull bullets toward a metal plate carried on their chest).
  • Deathpoint in The Reckoners Trilogy can kill almost anyone just by pointing at them but lacks a "prime invincibility", meaning that he can be killed just as easily as anybody else.
  • Leila in the Night Prince series. A human ordinarily couldn't hope to defeat even the youngest vampire, yet with her electricity whip, Leila once killed a group of five vampires. Before that, she took out a group of three. This is purely an offensive power, though; she's as fragile as any other human.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Lois and Clark, Lex Luthor creates a boxer that he believes can take on Superman. The boxer delivers a flurry of punches that stagger Superman. For a moment it looks like Superman is actually on the ropes, but then he simply flicks the boxer in the forehead and knocks him out.
  • Most space-faring vessels in the Star Trek universe fall under this category if something ever happens to their Deflector Shields. (It happens more often than you'd imagine.) Watch the Federation's Flagship get roflstomped by an obsolete warbird thanks to shield sabotage here. Mind you, turnabout's fair play, and the Klingons get one-shot after they lose their shields as well.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jem'Hadar Fighters are pretty much this. They're able to deal heavy damage, at least early on, with only a few bursts of their phased polaron beams, but a few phaser cannon shots or a single torpedo are enough to either cripple or destroy them. This is deliberate on part of the Dominion, with the Fighters being cheap but deadly throwaway ships with minimal and expendable crew, and no features that aren't essential to combat.
  • The Outer Limits (1995) episode "The Camp" has super strong robots that are ludicrously fragile. An untrained woman can tear them to pieces.
  • In robot combat events, such as Robot Wars and BattleBots, full-body spinners (robots with a chassis that rapidly spins and has blades, spikes, or hammers attached to it) tend to fall into this category: While they are able to deliver some of the strongest attacks ever seen in robot combat, any opponent who can slip through their offense or can withstand multiple blows without breaking can easily and quickly render them useless. In particular is Mauler 5150, which is infamous for getting tipped upside-down by pretty much anything that its spinning doesn't wreck first, such as with a light tap from Jabberwock.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Masakatsu Funaki in both pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, the latter even more so. Susceptible to take downs and no chin, he relied on simply submitting you before you hit him.
  • Kevin Nash, big guy around seven feet tall, likes to brag about how badass he is, tears his quadriceps by stepping through ring ropes.
  • Many power wrestlers tend to be injury prone, such as Mark Henry and Gangrel and Jazz.
  • Minoru Suzuki was an example of a mixed martial artist, who in turn went back to pro wrestling as his injuries started to rack up. He was solid in taking down people and submitting him, but some hits were enough to stop him.
  • Many "high flier" wrestlers such as Matt Sydal, who showed these tendencies right out of Gateway Championship Wrestling, are also this trope, the commentators actually yelling at him for doing a cannon ball off a balcony after returning from injury. Mistico became one when he went to WWE and was repackaged as "Sin Cara".
  • WSU has many examples, such as The Human Tornado (before they became an All Women's fed in 2007), Marti Belle (large spirit, small frame), The Fly Girls (simply short), the AC Express (great at countering moves, tend to be gone as soon as they don't).
  • The Queen Of Cats La Felina in the Apocalypse Wrestling Federation. Able to go entire matches taking virtually no offense from opponents only to lose in the end.
  • La Rosa Negra's self appointed bodyguard Noemi Bosques. One of the top ten bantam weight boxers in the world, one of the top three in the country. Boxing bantam weight's 110-118lbs, making NONO noticeably smaller than her charge.
  • Manny Ferno in Puerto Rican EWO. Perhaps the best spear in the business("una lanza incredible!"), but he's much smaller than most men who use the move.

    Tabletop Games 
  • There is an old (board and miniatures) gaming expression called the fuzzy wuzzy fallacy (after the Rudyard Kipling poem). Basically it states that a unit's effectiveness goes up proportionate to the square root of any increase in firepower (provided the defense stays the same). For example, the above Mech has roughly 3.5 times the firepower of the old version. FW numbers say that it's about 1.87 (the root of 3.5) times as effective as the old one, given that both die just as easy (and will draw fire like no-one's business).
  • In the Flying Frog game Touch of Evil, the schoolteacher only has three hit points and no healing factor. However, loading her inventory up with books adds two additional fight dice per book. Collecting all the books on the board gives her three hit points...and up to twenty dice's worth of damage.
  • The Eldar and Dark Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 often overlap this with Fragile Speedster.
    • The Dark Eldar are more of Glass Cannons than the Eldar, given the amount of firepower that squads of Dark Eldar can pump out for a relatively low cost and the eschewing of even what little armor their cousins use.
      • Harlequins are even more of a glass hammer/cannon than other Eldar. Absolutely unparalleled in hand-to-hand combat, they can rip right through a unit of Assault Terminators like tissue paper; but one good round of shooting from a basic Marine squad and they're splattered all over the landscape.
    • The Space Marine Thunderfire cannon. In fact, all artillery pieces were like this prior to 6th edition. As an artillery piece, anything shooting at it has a 50/50 chance of hitting either it or the Techmarine manning it. Hitting the Tech is not a huge issue, with a 2+ armor save, but if the cannon itself is hit, either a penetrating hit or glancing hit will completely destroy it (until 6th edition, when artillery guns were given a very strong Toughness value of 7 and two "wound points"). But it has a range of 60', and puts out four explosive shells per turn.
    • And Tau Fire Warriors, who are no tougher than Guard Stormtroopers and suck in close combat. However, they're armed with a gun that will punch through Stormtrooper armor, the Stormtrooper wearing the armor, and keep going out the back.
      • Speaking of Stormtroopers, their hellguns can punch right through Space Marine armor. Too bad for the shorter than normal range.
    • The Tau's Vespid allies overlap this with Fragile Speedster. They have a gun that can blast clean through Space Marine armor from 18" away, and can move reasonably quickly, but even with T4 and a 4+ armor save, they still go down like chumps to even a brief encounter with heavy bolter fire.
    • Ork Boyz: they have a massive amount of attacks for a rank-and-file trooper (three attacks per Boy, four on the charge), and... paper thin armor. Kinda balanced out by their ridiculously low point cost, but when they get showered by bolter fire, expect a lot of Boyz to drop.
    • Daemons also deserve a mention — most of them pack a punch, but die like flies against standard Imperial weaponry because their "armor" is intentionally designed to be fickle. They have a 33% chance of surviving anti-starship weapons, but a 67% chance of dying to a single small-arms round to the face.
    • The Imperial Guard Hellhound. Most Imperial Guard vehicles are Mighty Glacier, but the Hellhound, for all the flamethrowers it mounts, can go up with a mild hit due to the tanks being hit.
    • The Rogue Trader rulebook specifically describes Raider-class spacecraft as "glass cannons, able to throw out heavy fire but unable to take it in return".
    • Eldar and Dark Eldar spacecraft in Battlefleet Gothic have wimpy armor, no shields, ridiculously powerful engines, and some of the nastiest guns possible.
    • Most walkers, due to them having medium to light armor all around, as opposed to the incredibly tough front armor and weaker side and back armors of conventional tanks. The Penitent Engine and Ork Killa Kans in particular have it bad, as their armor is no better than the lightest transports in the game (the Penitent Engine is an open topped vehicle too). The only aversion so far is the Soul Grinder, which has near land-raider levels of armor while packing very effective guns and devastating melee capability (it's only real weakness is everything else in the army tends to suck).
  • The Hunchback IIc BattleMech exemplifies this trope in the Battletech universe. It mounts two Ultra Autocannon-20s which, more or less, is apocalyptic firepower for any 'Mech (each Ultra AC can do 40 damage, which will destroy any mech its weight or less with a center hit), but sacrifices almost all of its armor in order to do so. Little wonder it's popular with Death Seeker Mechwarriors. In fact, a recent sourcebook clarifies: It was made as pretty much the Clan's equivalent of a Death sentence. Any warrior assigned to a Hunchback IIc is explicitly not expected to come back from their next battle.
    • In the same vein, the dinky UrbanMech mounts an AC/10, but has only 6 tons of armor—appreciable for its size of 30 tons, but still not very much. However, any light mech will be cored if Urbie hits it, and more than one Urbie makes things get very dangerous in a hurry unless you outrange them. Plus they're such cute little things!
    • A lot of "support" 'mechs, like the classic Catapult or the frankly ridonkulous-looking Yeoman, will mount a lot of long range weapons like LRMs, but have little armor or weapons for close-and-dirty combat.
  • In the novels particularly, the old Inner Sphere Rifleman 'mech is notorious as a deathtrap, with rear armor somewhere between cardboard and tin can levels. You don't want to be standing in front of it, though - each arm mounts an autocannon and medium and large lasers.
  • The Hellbringer (Loki) Omni is another fine example of a machine that will slaughter most enemies in its weight class and down if they get too close, but will crumple and burn if anything with a decent gun looks at it funny. Its configurations focus on massed long range hitting power, with things like particle cannons, Gauss rifles, and autocannons coming into play. The primary variant is a highly accurate killing machine with enough firepower on it to literally slag four tons of armor in a single salvo and even includes various equipment upgrades like ECM or anti missile defenses. At 65 tons and with only 8 tons of armor, though, it'll have an extremely bad day if a sufficiently armed 'Mech draws a bead on it. It's so light on armor that it actually can't even absorb an AC/20 shot dead center—something that more than a few 15-tons-lighter 'Mechs can do.
  • The Adder/Puma is another high grade glass cannon. Its primary configuration carries dual ER-PPC weapons and includes a targeting computer to make them highly accurate. Any 'Mech who takes a Boom, Headshot from one of those guns is down for the count, no matter the size of it. The Adder, however, is all of 35 tons, has about 6 tons of armor, and generally isn't going to stick around very long once an enemy sniffs it out.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4E gives us the Striker set of classes (Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Barbarian, though the Barbarian has pretty good HP, if lackluster starting armor): Insane damage output, but rely on the Defenders to hold down the thing they're attacking so that they don't get crushed.
    • 3.5 psionics has the wilder class. Less than a fourth of the powers of a Psion, but can up each powers output by your level, turning a single level 3 character into something capable of cutting down much higher level enemies on average rolls. Has little health and can daze/weaken themselves afterward. Unfortunately, the downsides add up to make it Awesome but Impractical.
    • Some 3.5 characters, using a number of different sourcebooks, can become this trope. As an example, take an ordinary fighter and give him Power Attack, a feat which subtracts attack accuracy in exchange for higher damage. Then take a feat called Shock Trooper, which shifts the accuracy penalty to armor class — i.e. it makes you easier to hit. This build, known as the 'Charger build' and often by the name Glass Cannon, results in a character able to do massive damage when he charges in and attacks ... but at the cost of an armor class that a small child throwing rocks could probably hit.
    • 3.5 Rangers fit this trope: A melee-focus Ranger with Weapon Finesse(allowing the dex-focused Ranger to use dexterity for attack accuracy instead of strength, and in some cases, generally House Rule, for damage as well) and a rapier-shortsword combo can cut through quite a few opponents at or even slightly above his/her challenge rating. The trade-off is that to use the Ranger's Combat Style, which is what grants free Two Weapon Fighting feats or Ranged feats depending on choice, the Ranger can only wear light or no armor, giving him/her a low AC that most enemies can punch through with no problem. This is slightly compensated for by their high hit dice(a d8, instead of the d6 of Rogues or the d4 of spellcaster classes), which is still smaller than that of fighters and Paladins. The only way to get a higher AC, meanwhile, is to invest a lot of gold into mithril armors(which makes Medium armors into Light armors) or a shirt of Millennial Chainmail from Complete Divine, which is exorbitantly expensive but allows for a whopping +8 Dex-to-AC.
    • Duskblades utilize a nasty form of Full-Contact Magic that can reduce most level-appropriate foes to dust, but possess virtually no defensive spells, middling HD, and similar armor restrictions to the Ranger.
  • There are plenty of Magic: The Gathering cards that have high power but low toughness. However, the card Glass Golem seems to deliberately invoke this trope.
    • Not to mention cards like Rocket Launcher and its later cleaned-up cousin Goblin Cannon, which take the "cannon" part more literally.
    • Also, a number of Illusion creatures are designed to hit hard, but die as soon as targeted by anything.
    • Force of Savagery is another extreme example. It has massive power but zero toughness so it automatically dies when it enters the battlefield unless its toughness is being passively boosted.
    • Perhaps the most extreme example lies with Master of Cruelties. It has a moderate Toughness of 4, and a mediocre Power of 1, and can only attack alone without backup. However, it also packs First Strike and Death Touch, thus becoming instant death to any creature that blocks it. Even worse, if it's attack connects without being blocked, the unfortunate player's life total instantly drops to 1.
  • Carefree Hedonist characters in Bliss Stage start out with 7 instead of 6 relationships, most of which have very high Intimacy and form very powerful psychic weapons. Only TWO of those relationships have enough Trust for the weapons they manifest as to survive a critical failure.
  • There are various Yu-Gi-Oh! cards like: Goblin Attack Force, Indomitable Fighter Lei Lei, Spear Dragon, and Mad Archfiend that have incredibly high ATK, but zero DEF and move into defense position when it is time for your opponent to strike.
    • Clear Vice Dragon has double the ATK of the monster it's attacking. When it's not attacking, it has 0 ATK.
    • Similarly, Metalmorph gives the equipped card a massive attack boost, but only while attacking.
    • Dragon Master Knight has a titanic ATK stat and an effect that makes it stronger, but it has no defenses whatsoever from card effects.
      • This was the standard design philosophy for an ace card until Stardust Dragon showed up: a card with 2800 ATK or more, with an effect that lets it kill even more monsters and do even more damage than its ATK score would suggest, and no protection or negation abilities whatsoever. The most infamous examples should probably be the Chaos monsters, which can easily knock off half your opponent's LP in a single turn on their own, but fold like a wet paper bag to a garden-variety Bottomless Trap Hole or Sakuretsu Armor.
    • Berserk Dragon has 3500 ATK and 0 DEF, which would already qualify it for this trope. However, it goes the extra mile, with an insanely strong offensive effect (can attack all cards your opponent controls) and a tendency to fold quickly if it doesn't knock out the opponent in one shot, due to growing weaker every turn it's on the field.
  • Warhammer Fantasy has a few. Night Goblin Fanatics follow it the best — they deal the same damage as a giant catapult but are even easier to kill than a normal goblin and have a chance of killing themselves. There are, however, many others.
  • Wood Elves are similar to 40K's Eldar, being both this and Fragile Speedsters. They have little to no armor but can give out a lot of hurt with possibly the best core units compared to their prices.
  • High Elves have very few units with toughness higher than 3, but they make up for it with Speed of Asuryan, gaining attack bonuses if their Initiative score is higher... and at 5 initiative on most of them, it usually is. This rule also ignores striking order penalties for weapons, so they can wield whopping weapons willy-nilly at no penalty.
  • Star Fleet Battles has:
    • Fast Patrol Ships (formerly known as Pseudo-Fighters). They can carry devastating armament, but their shields are paper-thin. The rules even refer to them as "eggshells armed with sledgehammers." PFs with Warp Booster Packs gain extra warp-engine power, which they can pump into their weapons for an even bigger punch, but are even more vulnerable to enemy fire.
  • This is the modus operandi of the Norse team in Blood Bowl. Catchers/Runners get Dauntless to take down opponents far above their own weight class and Blitzers/Berserkers are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. However, every single human team member starts with an Armor Value of 7...the same as a regular goblin. This makes Attack! Attack! Attack! actually a viable strategy for them since they absolutely need to maintain the initiative. If the momentum shifts against them the entire team quickly turns into messy stains on the astrogranite...
  • Coinshots in Mistborn Adventure Game. Just like in the source material, these guys can essentially become human machine-guns, but they have no defensive powers and inferior Health when compared to an unpowered character.
  • Dark Pokémon in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, when introduced, had very low HP but either high damage, low Energy requirements, or useful effects. This trait was cast aside in "EX Team Rocket Returns," however, as the Dark Pokémon in that set were just as hardy as anything else. Nevertheless, there are still a few specific species of Pokémon whose HP are lower than other fully evolved Pokémon from their sets but make up for it with other means, such as Raticate, Delcatty, Castform, and Durant.
  • The Zealous in Fleets: The Pleiad Conflict has only six health and can't support many consorts, but it not only has eight strength, but its special ability allows it to attack twice, for a whopping sixteen strength attack.
  • Many of the aircraft carriers in Victory In The Pacific are this, with low armor factors and airstrike with a bonus die-roll modifier representing the highly-trained pilots, but most notable is the Japanese carrier Hiryu, the sole fleet carrier with an armor factor of only 1.

    Web Animation 
  • Weiss of RWBY is an accomplished Black Mage who can even conjure shields...which is good, because on the occasions when she's too slow to summon one, she is defeated easily. Her fight with the White Fang lieutenant emphasizes this: for most of the battle, she dominates him with speed and elemental strikes, but the instant he is able to grab her, it's over.

  • XRS Despite it's vaunted capabilities, the XRS is extremely vulnerable whens its energy shields are down.
  • Coffinshaker from Whats Shakin is a fairly powerful fire mage, but without his reliance of fire, is mostly vulnerable to all other attacks.
  • 8-Bit Theater's Black Mage described himself in these words, a few days after this page was launched.
  • The titular Dominic Deegan shares a handful of qualities with Marvel Comics' telepaths, i.e. physically weak while mentally untouchable. He describes himself as his body being "frail and weak, but [his] mind is a fortress you have no hope of conquering."
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Torg is capable of killing just about anything when his Cool Sword Chaz is powered up and starts glowing. While his sword is unbreakable and nearly unstoppable, however, Torg himself is as physically vulnerable as your average human being. It doesn't help that the sword's true potential can only be unleashed when it's fueled by the blood of the innocent, a cost Torg is understandably reluctant to pay.
  • Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick fits this trope. As with Black Mage, (s)he falls pretty squarely in Squishy Wizard territory.
  • In Suppression, Charlie is a electricity-wielder who was kidnapped by the villains so that he could power their entire facility. He can give off enough electricity to blow off Maxwell's arm. He is also skinny as a rail and has neither armor nor the ability to take a hit.
  • Fairies and tiny elves in Fairy Dust are quite deadly, but can be crushed by a larger humanoid's hand in a mere swat.
  • Played With with the titular Kid Radd. On the offensive side, his Mega Radd is technically only able to charge enough to deal 255 damage within his own game, but thanks to sloppy programming, there's actually no preset upper limit, meaning it's as powerful as the number of bits in the console he's on. When he's out on the internet, its power is effectively limitless, making him potentially strong enough to destroy the entire internet. On the defensive side, he can only take four hits before dying, but it doesn't matter what hits him. Getting hit with a nuclear bomb does the same amount of damage as having a Mook walk into him.
  • This is the case with Gralo, the Big Bad of The Night The Magic Died. While immensely powerful and capable of causing a universe wide extinction on his own, he's only protected by being able to eat any magic sent his way to a Walking Wasteland level and isn't exceptionally durable without it. Once that's bypassed, he is easily wounded and easily defeated by the Princesses.
  • Ran Cossack from Bob and George is an exaggerated version. His Cossack Buster is the most powerful weapon in the comic amongst the various robots, but even a slight breeze can kill him. Death only annoys Ran, however; he has a Body Backup Drive at home, complete with teleporter to return him to the place he was last alive.

    Western Animation 
  • Soundwave, of Transformers Animated, can easily take on multiple Autobots at the same time with The Power of Rock, has a massive number of various gadgets, and can control machines, but he's made of Earth machines mashed together, which means that even Sari's little hand-blast can put a hole in his shoulder, and when he is forced into melee combat, he is smashed apart in single blows. This contrasts with normal Decepticons, which are both figuratively and literally Made of Iron.
  • Typical firebenders in Avatar: The Last Airbender have no special defensive abilities whatsoever. The only known defensive firebending technique was invented by Iroh by studying waterbending for inspiration, and it is very situational (only useful against other firebenders). However, they are capable of laying waste on a scale the other bending disciplines are incapable of.
  • Eddy's Brother from Ed, Edd n Eddy. Word of God has gone on the record as saying that unlike Eddy, who's had pained dished out to him but has built up more of a resistance to it, Eddy's Brother had been dishing out pain all his life, but had never been on the receiving end of it, and thus has a very low pain threshold.
  • In the classic Donald Duck short "Canvas Back Duck", Donald ends up in a boxing match against Pee-Wee Pete, and is only saved from a merciless pummeling when he accidentally discovers Pete has a (literal) glass jaw.
  • The assassin Curare from Batman Beyond seems this way. She's a deadly combatant with a sword, incredibly fast and agily, and very hard to lay a glove on, but when Batman actually manages to do so, it seems to hurt her badly.
  • In South Park, Eric Cartman is capable of doing some absurdly impressive feats, including saving the town from a hippie infestation, almost reconquering the American South in the name of the Confederate States, pretending his hand is Jennifer Lopez and achieving the same level of fame as the real thing, and traveling to the future to end a global war. There is, however, one moment when Kyle lightly slaps him in the face, which sends him crying in pain.

    Real Life 
  • Since the introduction of gunpowder in the High Middle Ages, Artillery Cannons are (probably) the very first and oldest definition of this trope: Deadly when given a chance to attack from a safe distance but easily neutralized by the destruction of its crew and/or the cannon itself.
  • Tank Destroyers. Popular back in WW2, they were Exactly What It Says on the Tin — usually armed with a tank-grade BFG to destroy enemy vehicles with great efficiency, using the mobility allowed by their lighter armor to flank enemy tanks and attack from the rear. In modern warfare, the role of tank destroyer has been taken up by helicopter gunships, though a number of lighter vehicles have been adapted to the purpose as well. American tank destroyers during World War II in particular were very lightly armored, in most cases lacking a roof for their turret which exposed the crew to all kinds of nastiness. They usually mounted a bigger gun than friendly tanks and were extremely fast: the M18 Hellcat can clock up to 55 mph on good roads. Note that this was one of two schools of thought for Tank Destroyer design. The alternative was to make them very slow and very heavy, essentially mobile bunkers with a massive casemate-mounted gun that would be placed to ambush enemy tanks when they approached. The latter approach was favored by the Germans and Soviets (Germans still used both approaches, with Marder and Jagdpanzer series' being typical Glass Cannons, while Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger were Mightly Glaciers.
    • The M36 Jackson had the excellent 90mm gun which could destroy any German tank at distance. Sadly, it had a Sherman chassis and a very lightly armored body.
  • China's Type 75 Recoilless gun. It's basically a Jeep-like vehicle with a recoilless rifle (think "bazooka") mounted on top.
  • Italy's Vespa 150 TAP: a recoilless rifle mounted on, of all things, a Vespa scooter, designed for airborne operations.
  • The Swedish Thirty Years' War era Leather Cannon. It was basically a copper barrel wrapped on stout leather, like cow hide. The idea was to make the cannon light enough to be mobile and easily carried, which it was. It weighed 40 kg (90 lb) and could easily be carried by two men. Unfortunately it also was prone on over-heating—leather is a good heat insulator—and tended to burst if three or more shots were shot in succession without letting the barrel cool down a bit. Purely as a weapon it was a failure, but as a concept it revolutionized the role of the field artillery.
    • This was excellently highlighted in an episode of MythBusters, where the cannon was recreated and fired. Their prototype replica cannon successfully damaged the targets, but broke on the first firing. They still considered it a successful recreation because the output of the cannon was comparable to a period iron cannon, and because of its historical reliability issues.
  • Suicide bombers also tend to fall into this. They don't usually pack armor or a gun, but when they explode, you're in trouble.
  • Aircraft carriers exist to operate aircraft. Anything not related to operating aircraft, even to some extent being armed simply to defend themselves without their planes, is usually considered a waste, while the embarked aircraft give the carrier the effective ability to engage and destroy a wide variety of enemies anywhere in a radius of several hundred miles or more.
    • US carriers generally avert this, as they do carry a point-defense gun (that is, a specialized, automatic anti-missile multibarreled cannon with an absurd rate of fire) on port and starboard of bow and stern. This is partly US Navy doctrine to mount point-defense guns on everything (even supply ships that shouldn't ever get remotely close to any action carry them), and partly a reflection of the former USSR having developed large, long-range anti-ship missiles for the specific purpose of killing US carriers in the event of an actual war.
      • Almost all carriers still carry some measure of self-defense, especially against missiles. However, in 1920s, carriers were designed to carry cruiser guns, just in case they got into shooting match with surface warships (USS Lexington and Saratoga, for example, originally carried eight 8 inch guns, same as a contemporary heavy cruiser.) Post World War II Soviet carriers were heavily armed with dozens of launchers for surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, to combat surface warships directly. Compared to these vessels, modern US carriers are aviation specialists.
  • Light tanks by definition are supposed to be very mobile, protected from small arms and constitute a serious danger. E.g. Soviet BT Tanks: on most BT-5s, 45-mm longbarrel cannon, armour 10-13 mm — price of max speed 52 km/h on tracks and 72 on wheels. Some light tanks just go over the top, however. Look at this experimental monstrosity (1936-1936). It's a launcher for two fortification-busting 245-mm missiles slapped on BT-5. Max range is 1500 m. Failed to hit production run as unfit for real assault due to its crappy accuracy, slow reload and — surprise — fragility from top to bottom. Normally light tanks have nothing to do within visual range from enemy fortification even without extra explosives strapped on top.
  • Nuclear missiles without silos are arguably the ultimate example of glass cannons in real life, especially in the context of a nuclear war. Ballistic missile submarines have torpedoes, but they would still be in deep trouble if found. Mobile ground based units are even worse, with no defenses at all against the inevitable enemy counterattacks. Of course, you're supposed to just leave before the counterattack anyway.
  • The torpedo boat was a small but maneuverable ship that had powerful armaments that could be used to sink the much bigger battleships of the era, and relied on its speed and agility to avoid getting destroyed. Navies fielding torpedo boats also relied on having lots of them to make up for any losses.
  • Conventional submarines (at least up to and including WW2 vintage) also qualify — great for crippling or killing enemy surface vessels from ambush, but they have to get fairly close to do it and again their only real defense against anything that can shoot back is not to get hit in the first place.
  • WWI style Monitors were shallow draft ships of questionable seaworthiness onto which the largest spare gun(s) at hand was crammed. Basically a floating artillery battery, they had the advantage of being cheap and able to get in very close to shore where traditional naval ships could not go, even going up rivers.
  • Anything the Finnish Navy can throw in. Their ships are crammed with oversized guns and missiles, and outfitted with minelaying equipment, but have no armor whatsoever - they rather employ hiding in the archipelago as their defensive strategy.
  • Humans in hunting situations. If the guns fail to bring down that bear before it closes into close quarters, prepare for a trip to the hospital. Or to funeral home.
  • Humans in warfare are generally a case of glass cannons in that our technological ability to inflict damage is much greater than our technological ability to defend against damage. They had to build NORAD inside a small mountain to maybe protect it against nukes.
  • Bob Sanders, safety in the NFL, long of the Indianapolis Colts. One of the league's hardest hitters, maybe the best safety in all of football... when he was healthy, which for a while was about as rare as the Colts beating the Chargers in those days (the latter is no longer rare for the Colts). Sanders frequently spent half the regular season on the injured list, which might be because he played so hard all the time, running full-force into offensive players on every play. The Colts finally released him after the 2010 season, and Sanders played one more (injury-shortened) season for the Chargers before being dropped for good.
    • The Eagles' Michael Vick fits the archetype perfectly. With his freakish speed and arm strength, Vick is the single most dangerous playmaker in the league... as long as he doesn't get hit too hard. In 9 seasons, he's played all 16 games only once, and has spent quite a few contests limited due to one injury or another. Not counting the 2 seasons he missed while answering to "Federal Inmate #33765-183".
  • Baseball:
    • One recent example is Washington Nationals ace pitcher Steven Strasburg. He has overpowering stuff which can strike out a lot of batters. Unfortunately, he keeps getting injured after he makes a couple of starts on the mound.
  • Several examples in mixed martial arts, including fighters that have devastating offense and a weak chin.
    • Bob Sapp has enough strength to pick up a 260 pound man literally off the mat and piledrive him violently to the ground. Yes, in MMA, where piledrivers are neither safe nor done with compliance from the victim. He beat one of the best kickboxers in the world (Ernesto Hoost) twice in 2002. Sapp is also known for the trifecta of having a glass chin, possessing very little toughness or heart, and having laughably few grappling skills. He lost in 2009 to a man 150 pounds lighter than him who fancies himself a superhero, sports a mullet, and goes by the name "Minowaman."
    • Melvin Manhoef, a dutch kickboxer, has truly horrifying punching power. He was the first, and so far only man to ever knock out Mark Hunt, who was famous for shrugging off career-ending strikes to his presumably granite-filled head. Manhoef delivered said KO while moving backwards. Unfortunately, even though he's fought at the highest levels of kickboxing and MMA and can put together beautiful offensive combinations, Manhoef's strike defense is quite lacking, and he has been knocked out by mid-level fighters far more often than an elite striker should. More saliently, his grappling skills are pure garbage. For MMA professionals, fighting Manhoef can either end in Melvin decapitating you with a punch, or with him meekly tapping out 15 seconds after the fight hits the mat.
    • Many fighters like Melvin Guillard and Houston Alexander have decent striking, scary power and zero grappling skill. Stand with them and they're likely to hurt you, take them down and they'll play you the three-tap symphony.
  • Boxing:
    • Julian Jackson was a boxer whose career spanned the 80s and the early to mid 90s, and is boxing's patron saint of the one punch knockout. Being in the ring with Jackson was to always potentially be one punch away from being KO'd. However, some of Jackson's victims were only knocked out because they knew of the weakness in Jackson's own chin and tried to knock him out first. The most prominent example is probably Herol Graham, a slick defensive specialist who made his living by dodging punches and countering his way to a decision. Graham was able to stun Jackson consistently in the first three rounds of their fight, so he pushed the action and had Jackson backing up in the 4th. Then Jackson connected with a single blow and not only was Graham unconscious before he hit the canvas, he remained out for minutes afterward. Final round and aftermath of the Jackson-Graham fight. Several years later the difference between a hard puncher who can take a punch and one who cannot was shown when Jackson fought Gerald McClellan, who was bigger, could hit as hard as Jackson if not harder, but could also take a lot of damage. McClellan promptly knocked Jackson out twice in their two fights, the second time coming in the first round.
      • Sadly, McClellan's career was ended, and he was left disabled for life, after his very next fight against Nigel Benn, another fighter widely perceived to be incredibly strong and hard hitting, but with an unreliable chin. On that particular night, however, Benn soaked up all the damage McClellan could dish out, (which was a lot of damage) and came back for more, until finally McClellan collapsed in the ring.
    • Some would say that British heavyweight Frank Bruno was also a Glass Cannon. Bruno possessed a punch that could stop almost anything if landed properly, but had the weaknesses of being a bit slow and unwieldy. Ironically, Bruno didn't get accused of being a glass cannon because a single punch would knock him down or out, (being knocked down by the blows might have actually given him additional time to recover) but because being hit with a big shot tended to leave Bruno frozen in place, on his feet but stunned and momentarily defenseless, and the followup punches from his opponent would then inevitably finish the fight.
    • Late in Mike Tyson's career and long after Tyson's prime, his old trainer Kevin Rooney who coached him at his best complained that Tyson was no longer the elusive Lightning Bruiser who had once dominated the boxing world. "His style was to use head movement, be elusive. He's not using the style the way he's supposed to be. He's just... he's just a puncher now. If he hits you, he'll knock you out. If you hit him, you'll knock him out".
    • Roger Mayweather, who today is best known for being the long time trainer of his superstar nephew Floyd Mayweather Jr., was absolutely this when he was an active fighter. Roger had all the offensive skills of his nephew, (and more) and was a two-time world champion, however, unlike Floyd, Roger had neither a great defense (which has been his nephew's most famous attribute) or a strong chin. This resulted in many upset losses against opponents he should've easily beaten on paper.
  • Mosquitoes. Their bite can transmit nasty diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Encephalitis and Heartworm, enough to kill or cripple a human for days. On the bright side, a well-timed smack kills them instantly (usually).
  • Hockey player Eric Lindros was widely heralded as "The Next One" by pro scouts in the late 1980s and early 1990s in reference to Wayne Gretzky, who was in turn called "The Great One" for being the all-time best player to ever put on skates. Lindros was the size of a train and dealt out hits to match, and was a highly skilled scorer to boot. When he made it to the NHL, he was both one of the most dominant and the most injured players in the league. The major reason he falls under this trope is because his head was as durable as a wet newspaper, and he suffered series of concussions that shortened his career.
  • The Argentina national team was accused of this during the 2010 World Cup. Their dynamic and amazing offense blew teams away, until the Germans, who were able to shut down Argentina's scoring attempts, carved its way through the Argentines' notoriously weak defense in an absolutely brutal match.
    • David Luiz, the most expensive defender in football/soccer. The Brazilian can deliver attacking free kicks without breaking a sweat- and he's a centre-back. As for defensive ability... it came to a head in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, when he captained his side on a fateful day in Belo Horizonte. [1]
  • More or less the situation with human-held firearms these days. Anti-rifle armor is bulky and unwieldy and damn expensive, and the ubiquitous soft armor is easily thwarted by guns and ammunition which are readily available, and it's even easier to shoot someone in the unprotected face, legs. arms... so often it comes down to trying to make sure that you can shoot first and that your opponent can't shoot back.
  • Cars. Arguably better at killing people and destroying things than guns, but quickly fall apart if they hit things. Granted the things they're good at destroying and the things that destroy them if hit aren't one and the same, but since you're from Column A, it's still a good idea to look up from your smartphone before you cross the street.
    • Older cars were sturdier. Modern cars damage easily in an impact because it's realised that what matters is not whether the car is damaged but whether the *occupants* are, so crumple zones are better than a really rigid shell.
  • Birds of prey. They have sharp and strong beaks and talons, capable of killing their prey in a split second... but if grounded by a broken wing or leg they are very likely to die of starvation.
  • Venomous snakes. Sure, they have a very nasty weapon at their disposal, but the instant their venom glands run dry they're reduced to bluff or flight. And if an attacker is too thick-skinned or immune, they're lunch.
  • Combat Robotics has a surprising number of glass cannons. In Robot Wars, Razer had an almost unstoppable weapon, but often broke down of its own accord. Tsunami and Wheely Big Cheese had immensely powerful flippers (but the latter was very difficult to aim) but lacked the durability to fight Lightning Bruisers like Chaos 2 and Mighty Glaciers like Xterminator. In BattleBots, Nightmare had a massive 4 foot diameter spinning disc, and its destructive power was the original reason for the arena having a ceiling, but its wheels were very vulnerable. It lost after having a wheel (and sometimes the gearbox and part of the motor it was attached to) ripped off by horizontal spinners. Many "shell spinners" have huge destructive power, but if they get flipped over, they're toast. Finally, Last Rites, one of the current top-ranked heavyweights, practically defines this trope. Even the most heavily armored opponents cannot simply shrug off blows from its spinning bar, but it is lightly armored, and its wheels are vulnerable to a solid hit to the side. In fact, because its bar is so powerful, and so much weight is poured into the weapon system, it is frequently defeated by the recoil from its own attacks.
  • The Prussian infantrymen of Frederick The Great were renowned for their rapid rate of fire (pretty impressive, given the rather slow firing rate of muzzle-loaded muskets) but were pretty vulnerable in close combat, making them a ripe target for cavalry. Fortunately, Frederick was enough of a tactical genius and a lucky man to prevent decisive defeats.
  • Irukandji jellyfish. They are the size of a fingernail and are so fragile they can't be kept in a tank - they will die from bumping into the glass. They also have a venom that, while it is not lethal, will hurt you so very much that you will wish it was.
  • The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was extremely fragile, with no armor and fuel tanks that would leak continuously from even the smallest puncture instead of sealing like Allied tanks, so that even the most minor glancing hit could destroy it. It also had better armament than any of its rivals and could blast apart most early Allied aircraft with a single burst (though the 20mm cannons that managed this carried very little ammo and the 7.7mm machine guns where completely useless against the famously tough American planes), and a turn rate good enough to get into a firing position against even the most elusive enemy (Assuming they where still there and didn't just laugh at it's top speed and climb rate). But once planes like the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair which humiliated it in every respect bar low-speed agility showed up in numbers, it was just plane glass.
  • ME-163 Komet. It was a rocket fighter armed with two 30mm cannon or ten short ranged upward-firing single-use guns. It was designed to kill bombers with just a couple of hits and during its powered flight phase, moved too quickly to be targeted by the prop driven Allied planes. However, it only had enough fuel for about 7 minutes of powered flight and once it expended its fuel, it was a nearly helpless glider. And in the event that something hit a Komet while it still had fuel, they were pretty much Made of Explodium.
  • The Soviet Union produced an example. The 2B1 Oka was the largest self-propelled artillery piece ever built, and could fire a 420mm nuclear projectile from it's 65-foot-long barrel up to 28 miles downrange. Unfortunately, the recoil of such a monster cannon was too powerful, damaging the gun mount, snapping the treads, and tearing up the transmission. Assuming it even could fire a second shot, it would be effectively a stationary artillery piece.
  • Traditionally, archers in many armies did not wear any armor, partly because it would have interfered with their movements and also because they generally could not afford it. A particularly well-off bowman might be able to go into battle with a sword and buckler, a breastplate, and a helmet of some sort; most went off to fight with little more than a knife and the clothes on their back (and sometimes even less than that). Suffice to say, archers tended to get slaughtered if the fight came to them.
  • In a way, elephants are this; they're extremely powerful, and fairly fast as well. Yet due to Square/Cube Law, tripping can greatly injure them.
    • War Elephants are not much better. Sure, they seem like they would be a Mighty Glacier at the very least, able to suck up lots of arrows and trample enemies, but they scare VERY easily, uncontrollably running away, often through friendly lines.
  • Modern Guided Missile Warships certainly count. The CG-47 Ticonderoga-class cruisers started life as destroyers, but with some design changes (and some meddling from DC) they became cruisers. To give you an idea of what this means, think of it this way. Each 'Tico' is armed with two 5" rapid fire cannons for short range work, as well as Harpoons and Tomahawks for long range work. Both of those missiles are capable of ripping other ships apart from many, many miles away, and the 5" guns can track anything from small boats to low flying aircraft, and reliably take them down. But the armor is made of KEVLAR. Yes, the EXACT same material that soldiers put on to protect them from bullets. This was done to save weight since the hull was never designed for cruiser specs. Those aboard a Tico better hope that the AEGIS combat system doesn't Blue Screen... Not that armor would be of any value against modern anti-ship missiles however, especially as the primary means of damage is fire not the explosion itself. Also of not is the fact that their hulls (adapted from the design of the Spruance-class destroyers) are carrying over a thousand tons more weight than they were originally designed for, which has resulted in the hulls sometimes cracking. Not in combat, just in normal peacetime use.
    • Also of note is the "Kirov" Class of Battlecruisers. Each ship is armed with a an array of the appropriately named "Shipwreck" Anti-ship Missile, but the armor is only 76mm thick. There's been an ongoing debate over what would win, an Iowa or a Kirov. However, since the Iowas would likely be protected by the aforementioned Ticonderogas, and their GC Brothers the Arliegh Burkes, the Kirov would have to rely on a Macross Missile Massacre to hopefully destroy the battlegroup. If it fails to do so... In this case it would be the destroyers that would be doing most of the defensive work, the armor and big guns of the battleship would be almost entirely irrelevant in terms of winning such a battle, although the Tomahawk and Harpoon missile launchers which were fitted to the battleships in the 80's would give them an ability to shoot back.
    • Most modern warships fall under this design philosophy. Modern anti-ship weapons have such long range and sheer destructive power that it is simply impractical to carry enough armor protection to be useful, except for certain key areas such as the ship's ammo magazine.. Instead, the extra weight is either removed from the equation to allow the ships to move faster, or used on more useful things, such as the aforementioned long-range highly destructive missiles. In short, modern shipbuilders take to heart the saying that the best defense is a good offense.
    • This is also part of the reason why cruisers have largely disappeared from the order of battle in modern navies. Given the lack of relevance for armor or big guns, missile-equipped destroyers have ballooned in size and capabilities, effectively filling the role of cruisers in both size and capabilities.
  • World War II era Japanese Mogami class cruisers. Intended to conform to the requirements of the London Naval Treaty while maximizing armaments, the ships were designed for 9000 ton displacement while packing 'fifteen' 6-inch guns and a dozen 24 inch torpedo tubes. Unfortunately, the construction techniques that the Japanese were using did not quite pan out. The ships became notorious for their instability and structural weakness (the ship's armor plates buckled and split when the guns were being test fired!), requiring massive refit to make them serviceable. In the end, they weighed in nearly 4000 tons heavier than original design and somewhat unfairly came to be used as poster boy for how the Japanese grossly violated arms limitation treaties.
    • Japan was not alone in this design philosophy in the 1930s. So called "Treaty Cruisers" would often pair heavy armament with light armor, hoping to maximise their combat utility while staying within the letter of the treaty. More than one American cruiser similarly saw its weight balooning over the treaty limit when modifications had to be made when the initial design proved subpar for various reasons, to include seaworthiness (adding weight to the bottom of the ship was the simplest way to make it more stable in rough seas). A later revision to the treaty redefined cruisers based on their armament rather than tonnage, meaning that several of these light cruisers found themselves redefined as very thin-skinned heavy cruisers shortly before World War II.
  • Battlecruisers as a general concept were this: Large warships packing battleship armament with cruiser armor. The intent was for them to be swift-footed "Cruiser Killers", capable of both performing hit-and-run attacks on enemy merchant shipping and smashing enemy escorts or screening patrols. In practice, they proved highly vulnerable to enemy battleships in fleet engagements, since such large battles limited their ability to use their agility, and the battleships could shrug off what would be fatal blows to the battlecruisers. More importantly, they were no less vulnerable to air attack than cruisers were, but were substantially more expensive to build and replace.
  • European main battle tanks of the Cold War: they were well armed, but their armor was very thin, relying on speed for defense.
  • Military aircraft in general. They can attack incredibly fast, are hard to hit, and can cripple most military targets, but by their nature, have little armor, and if they take any damage, are likely to crash.
    • Bombers in particular can deliver devastating payloads, but are large, less maneuverable than fighters, and can't perform as well in air to air combat. They're also the first thing targetted by enemy forces.
    • Drones, like the Predator, take advantage of their glass cannon nature. Small, light, and made of fragile plastics, they are almost gaurunteed to be utterly destroyed if hit, making it so enemies are unable to steal the technology from the wreckage. Indeed, the fact that there is no crew to be concerned about gives even less reason to provide any armor.
    • Last, but not least, the YAL-1. A Boeing 747 fitted with a laser designed to down ICB Ms.
  • Motorsports
    • Open-wheel cars are usually regarded one of the superior classes in term of functionality and raw power, but they are also very frail and are breaking down a lot more often. Due to their higher speed and exposed bodyworks, a seemly slight tap into a barrier or an opponent's car can seriously damage its parts. Even miscued spinning into a gravel can shut down the system altogether and force the racer to retire.

Alternative Title(s):

All Offense No Defense