In fiction, fat is more than just a sign that the character is out of shape — it's body armor. A fat character will often be resistant or even entirely impervious to damage because of their layers of blubber. Punches will be absorbed or deflected, often with a comedic BOING, and in rare cases, bullets or other projectiles will be diverted.
In Real Life, of course, fat isn't so powerful a defensive aid. It might add some cushioning against a punch or twonote (it protects against cut wounds and shields nerves and blood vessels in a fight), but it does nothing against a bullet. However, characters with Kevlard seem to bypass this downside entirely. They might even go out of their way to build up fat so they can fight more effectively.
Kevlard often, but not always, overlaps with Acrofatic and/or Mighty Glacier. More often than not, it's applied to villainous characters rather than heroic ones, usually because it's meant to be an intimidating display of size trumping skill. Often played for laughs, and almost always a set-up to having the characters discover the Achilles' Heel of the tub of lard in question. Usually, in its less serious incarnations, the ability to repel damage with fat is presented as a inhuman superpower.
It's important to make the distinction between this and Mighty Glacier: Mighty Glacier characters are simply those who are big and slow, and it more often applies to huge, muscled characters. Kevlard, however, specifically refers to the body armour properties of pure lard, not muscle.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
In Dragon Ball when Gotenks has a flawed Fusion Dance and ends up extremely fat, the team thinks this is a good thing considering how strong Fat Mr. Buu is, and that its a sign of power. While Buu may have Kevlard, Fat Gotenks was just fat and out of shape.
Buyon, the Monster of the Week from Episode 40 of the original series, was the first monster to deflect Goku's Kamehameha without taking even a scratch and could only be defeated by freezinghim.
In One Piece, during the Black Cat Pirates arc, the Meowban Brothers are hit with the swordsman Zoro's Finishing Move. It nearly slices the skinny one in two, but the fat one survives.
Zoro:"All that blubber saved him..."
Mister Heart is one famous example from Fist of the North Star. He was, in fact, the first enemy shown that Ken couldn't simply kill in one blow; his body fat protected him from Ken's fatal Finger Poke of Doom. Ken had to resort to kicking Heart a hundred times in a second just to force the fat out of the way before striking forward with his killing blow.
Chouji in Naruto can use a jutsu to do this—justified, as he turns into a huge sphere of fat, and it's reasonable to assume his vital organs are somewhere in the center.
His father can use a more advanced technique that turns him into a proportional giant. Chouji later learns how to increase the size of individual body parts.
Kabuto at one point wonders about Tsunade (a powerful ninja with astounding large breasts) if her fatty breasts absorbed his attack.
Kurita of Eyeshield 21 has this mildly. The average high schooler can't really hurt him, but a lot of the linemen he plays against are around his size and can do plenty of damage.
Fat Man from the comic series Ratman has this as a literal super power. He can control the fat in his body to allow him to do things such as block knives.
Thor from History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi claims this as a sumo wrestler's advantage, and indeed, Kenichi seems unable to harm him to any great degree, despite his surprisingly impressive physical strength. Kenichi ends up having to win the fight via ring-out.
Subversion: In the Marvel Universe, Kingpin appears to be a monstrously obese man who appears to harness the power of Kevlard. However, once he actually takes off his shirt and starts fighting, it's apparent he is ripped as hell, thus making him a Mighty Glacier instead.
Subversion: a RoboCop comic book had a minor villain that appeared very fat. Lewis tries to drop him with a standard double-tap, just for the villain to shrug it off and casually gloat that what looked like fat was actually custom-made body armor made to look like fat. Lewis addresses this problem by wrestling him to the ground and pressing the barrel of her sidearm square against the center of his forehead. "Wanna try that trick again?"
Films - Animation
Po in Kung Fu Panda is an average fighter overall, but his secret technique relies on his sheer mass to absorb attacks. By the end of the movie, it becomes a Chekhov's Skillas it renders him immune to Tai Lung's paralyzing nerve strikes.
In the sequel, Mr. Ping points out that he's lost weight. He also seems to be less able to take a hit. Hmm...
Films - Live-Action
The fat guy in 3 Ninjas: Until the heroes figured out where his weak point was, their blows simply did not register.
In Monstrous Regiment Sergeant Jackrum claims his fat is like armor, and that a man once stuck a sword in it up to the hilt, and was very surprised when he got nutted in response. Of course, Jackrum said that to reassure the troops about attacking the enemy keep.
In Charles McCarry's The Bride of the Wilderness, the character Gustavus Hawkes is able to keep going on with an arrowhead in him—albeit with considerable pain—because it's stuck in his subcutaneous fat. McCarry attempts to justify this by claiming that unusually dense fatty tissue runs in Hawkes's family; an ancestor took a small-caliber bullet with similar aplomb.
Spenser and Hawk have to go arrest Zachary—no shooting allowed—in the novel The Judas Goat:
Hawk speaks: "Kathie say this Zachary a bone-breaker." "How big is he?" Hawk said, "Kath?" "Very big," she said. "Bigger than me," I said, "or Hawk?" "Oh yes. I mean really big." "I weigh about two hundred pounds," I said. "How much would you say he weighs?" "He weighs three hundred five pounds. I know. I heard him tell Paul one day." I looked at Hawk. "Three hundred five?" "But he only six feet seven," Hawk said. "Is he fat, Kathie?" I was hopeful. "No, not really. He used to be a weightlifter." "Well, so, Hawk and I do a lot on the irons." "No, I mean like those Russians. You know, a real weightlifter, he was the champion of somewhere." "And he looks like a Russian weightlifter?" "Yes, like that. Paul and he used to watch them on television. He has that fat look that you know is strong."
In Darksiders: The Abomination Vault, Death and War fights a demon that is so fat that even if their weapons cut into it, they cannot hurt it. The solution? One grabs the upper mouth, another grabs the lower, then twist it inside out.
Lord Wyman Manderley, a highly rotund northern lord in Literature:A Song of Ice and Fire, survives a throat slash because of his corpulence. He sustains the injury after reveling a bit too much in his subtlepunishment to the Freys.
Live Action Television
Mad Men mentions a fat girl in Sally's class whom the other kids poke with pencils because they think she can't feel it.
MythBusters tested the viability of this against bullets in their second "What is bulletproof?" special. When using a layer of fat equivalent to what the fattest man their researchers could come up with would have had protecting his vital organs as a baseline, the bullet went right through both the layer of fat and the simulate for the internal organs. The Mythbusters thus conclude that fat could eventually stop a bullet, but not in anything human.
In an episode of Manswers revealed you need to be over 1000lbs for your fat to be able to stop a bullet from killing you.
Myth & Religion
In The Bible, Eglon, the king of Moab, gets stabbed by an Israelite in an assassination attempt. He's so fat that the Israelite pushes the sword into him, blade, hilt and all, and it doesn't come out the back. (Judges 3:12) He still dies, though.
Chris Rock has a "Government Hates Rap" bit where he goes on about how few rapper murderers have been convicted, despite the killings taking place in prominent places and\or taking a long time to execute. For Biggie Smalls he posits that "there must have been some reloading in that drive-by".
A disadvantage of same name in Savage Worlds gives you notable amounts of all-important stamina at the cost of movement speed. Some builds can really abuse that.
The Grael from Fifty Fathoms, being a race of seal-people, have a natural layer of blubber, which is thick enough to act as armour.
A scenario for the Judge Dredd RPG had literal Kevlard in a new variant of Boing! (a type of very resilient rubber plastic you could encase yourself in then bounce improbably far and fast) called Spunng! being developed. It consisted of a drug that when ingested converted all subcontaneous fat to a type of Boing! - a group of four really fat guys take it and go on a crime spree - flattening anyone who gets in their way by bouncing into them at high speed with bullets just bouncing out of their Spunng! enhanced bodies. However Spunng! was highly flammable rendering them very vulnerable to incendiary (if not bounced out), high explosive or laser fire.
Fatty zombies in Zombicide are zombies who, by virtue of being fat, take much more punishment than your average walker or runner zombie.
The Adjudicator in Demons Souls qualifies, although the Meat Cleaver stuck in his chest was a pretty good indicator of where you had to hit him.
Super Punch-Out!! (SNES) has two: Bear Hugger and Mad Clown, both fat boxers, are nearly immune to body blows. You have to punch them in the head to damage them. Punching them in the stomach results in a boing, and the boxer mocks you. If they taunt, their midsection is vulnerable, and hitting it will stun them.
Bob from Tekken purposely gained weight so he could have this advantage.
Temperance (a morbidly obese zombie) from The House of the Dead 4. Even though you could actually stop him from attacking you by shooting his head, it was impossible to do any real damage to him via your bullets. You had to drop a clock on his head to beat him.
Team Fortress 2: The Heavy Weapons guy has both the biggest girth and the most hit points of the nine classes.
In the second and third What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord? games, "Fat" monsters can evolve if you starve some of your monsters to death. Fat Lizardmen, in particular, are incredibly durable compared to the garden variety lizardmen, with nearly double the amount of hit points and defense.
In reference to Heart's example, fat enemies in Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage have a separate health track representing their bulk that must be depleted before they can actually be harmed.
This is how Bear Druids, in World of Warcraft, fulfill their tanking role. Other tanks have shields and weapons to block and parry oncoming attacks. Bear Druids have neither, but have substantially more armor rating (especially through talents like "Thick Hide") and health points in order to simply soak up the damage. Oh, and to do this, they literally become bears.
Black Bull in Shadow the Hedgehog is an enormous, flying beast with one eye and several layers of blubbery fat. Attacking its eye is the surest way to bring it down, as its fat makes it mostly impervious to damage. (Mostly because attacking its body still causes damage, but at a slower rate than attacking its eye.)
Sonic the Hedgehog: This is probably how Dr. Eggman survives the destruction of machine after machine.
The most specific example in Pokémon is the "Thick Fat" Ability, which halves any Fire or Ice damage the user takes.
In general, heftier-looking Pokemon tend to have higher health pools, notable examples including Snorlax, Slaking, Hariyama, Emboar, and Wailord. In a partial subversion, they don't always have the defenses to back that up(or at least specialize in only one type of defense, such as Snorlax, who's great at standing up to special attacks, but not so much to physical ones).
In Dungeon Keeper, Bile Demons are so obese they're spherical, in the sequel take up 4 tiles in a Lair where most creatures take one, eat a lot, and are very slow. However their health is miles beyond any other creature you can access without advanced buildings, and they're immune to slap damage.
The Large Body and Fat Bandit heartless in the Kingdom Hearts series are immune to most physical attacks from the front because of their belly fat.
Planescape: Torment has "The Stone Gullet of L'Phall The Gross" - which has the backstory that L'Phall was a respected, but obese professor. At a banquet, some folks decided to play a practical joke on him by slipping some Flesh to Stone potion in his wine, intending to turn him back after they had a good laugh. Hours later, L'Phall complained of stomach pain - it turned out that he ate so much at the banquet that it diluted the potion, and only turned his stomach to stone. He lived for many years after that, and his stone gullet was removed after his death as a curiousity. The Nameless One can eat it (it has the consistency of stale bread) to gain some resistance to (stomach) acid.
OFF has the third guardian, Enoch, who has thick enough fat to make attacking him straight on completely and utterly useless, and even when you manage to find how to hurt him, he still has ridiculous health, losing only to the Queen and a Bonus Boss in sheer tankiness.
Fat zombies in The Last Stand: Union City are three to four times as tough as regular zombies. It makes no difference on how fast they can run either.
In Problem Sleuth, Ace Dick's "Auto-parry" technique involves taking the attack in the gut.
Also, Sawbuck of the Felt from Homestuck can take a lot of damage, and hops through time every time he's hit by something.
Fairy Dust's trolls often survive gunfights because it's hard to aim for one's center of mass when one's mass is all over the place.
According to SOTF-TV'slore one of the previous winners of a season was one Archibald "Archie" Stewart, who took a ridiculous amount of punishment over his run. The official explanation was that the layer of fat he had on him lessened the impact of what appeared to be grievous injuries. Subverted/deconstructed, when after he won he was unable to leave the shopping mall he was fighting in due to the cumulative amount of injuries and had a near-death experience in the hospital.
The super-strong teenage supervillain Bouncer in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is nearly eight feet tall and weighs close to 800 pounds, most of it fat. He's also nearly impossible to hurt because of the bodyfat he carries around.
The Simpsons: Homer Simpson uses his body fat to stop cannonballs when performing in a freak show. Counts as subversion though, because his body still accumulates damage over time.
And of course the time he purposely gained weight to get out on disability.
Lisa: I find it ironic that dad was able to plug the toxic leak, while a thinner man would have plummeted to his death.
Bart: And I find it ironic that for once, dad's butt prevented the release of toxic g-
She Zow: SheZow temporarily develops this power when she becomes overweight in "She Phat"; being able to bounce Seńor Yo-Yo's yo-yos off her fat.
The Gladiator Games of Ancient Rome. Despite the Sword And Sandal stereotype of relatively lean, muscular gladiators, historic gladiators lived on fat-building diets. The layer of fat helped protect them from the bloody, slicing wounds that audiences loved..
And as a general rule for any combat before the advent of firearms, an inch of fat could mean the difference between survival or having an organ ruptured.
A lot of polar creatures have a thick layer of blubber under their skin to handle the cold climate better. The walrus' blubber, helped in part by its thick hide, is thick enough to withstand several tuskings from rival walruses and stand a better chance against polar bears.
In 2008, an obese Australian woman was infected with necrotizing fasciitis, AKA flesh-eating bacteria, a deadly infection that rapidly destroys tissue and can kill within hours. She survived in part because her extra fat gave her more flesh the bacteria could destroy before it would kill her.
Fat provides padding, preventing your bones from always rubbing up against hard objects in the environment. Without a little bit of fat, just sitting down would be uncomfortable.
Which is why skinny people dislike sitting on hard chairs even more than usual.
Internal pads of fat also cushion some joints, organs such as the kidneys, and the eyeballs. Losing too much weight too fast can actually be life-threatening, as the kidneys can droop downward so much that it hampers the flow of blood and urine in and out of them (nephroptosis).
Very unfortunately true in one murder case where a man tried to kill his morbidly obese wife and ended stabbing her 12 times before his short knife finally hit something vital.