Let's Get Dangerous

You take any one of them—say, even Frank Thurlowe Pulver, here. Put him into a B-29 over Japan, and you know what you'd have? You'd have Pulver, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner. Pulver, who single-handedly shot down twenty-three attacking Zeros! Pulver who, with his bare hands, held together the severed wing struts of his plane! And with his bare feet, successfully landed his mortally wounded plane on his home field! Reflex. It's like the knee jerk.
—Lt. "Doc", Mister Roberts (1955)

Things are looking bleak. The protagonist and his allies are in a corner; the villain's kung fu is stronger than theirs. Outnumbered, outgunned, the situation calls for heroism, and unfortunately for our heroes, the only people around are all comic relief, sidekicks or mentor figures who've never really stepped up to the plate, when they aren't mere Boisterous Weaklings.

Hey, what are they doing? Don't they know that they're outside the Competence Zone? They're prime C-List Fodder!

Hold on a moment... did he just punt that guy through a wall?

A moment in the story when all the quirky, eccentric supporting cast members, or Super Zeroes, stop being quirky and eccentric and start demonstrating their real skill. In effect, it can often be similar to taking a level in badass, except that really, when you think about it, it makes more sense. It's not so much that they pull the power from nowhere. Rather, these characters have always had that power, and it's simply that now they get to show it in a way that doesn't steal the hero's screen time. In some cases, they may even have been actively failing to demonstrate this much-hyped power before.

This was the Catch Phrase of Darkwing Duck, a bumbling hero who revealed his true competence and effectiveness from behind a pompous exterior after saying it.

Sometimes preceded by Lock and Load Montage or a "Hell Yes" Moment, depending on the circumstances.

Any Retired Badass can pull off this trope if sufficiently provoked. Hobbits are also particularly likely to have it occur every so often. Can overlap with a "World of Cardboard" Speech, The Coats Are Off, The Glasses Come Off, and/or a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.

See also Giving the Sword to a Noob, The So-Called Coward, Good Is Not Dumb, Scrap Heap Hero, Not-So-Harmless Villain (the Evil Counterpart), Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, Lethal Joke Character, I Am Not Left-Handed, This Means War!, Misfit Mobilization Moment, and Badass/Heroic Bystander.

When a whole civilization decides to get dangerous, this is a Superweapon Surprise.

Example subpages:

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  • In the first game of Destroy The Godmodder, players were just trying mostly in vain to damage said Godmodder. Then the Terror Zombie and Terror Skeleton joined the battle, and the number of poster-summoned entities went from zero to 5 in just a couple of pages. It never stopped there.
    Pro Wrestling 
  • WWF example: The Stooges (Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson) were retired ex-champions reduced to corporate yes-men for the McMahons. Tag team champions The New Age Outlaws arranged to meet them in a 'hardcore' (anything goes) match, and proceeded to find themselves on the end of 'old school hardcore' (i.e. blinding handfuls of talcum and concealed fist-loads instead of blatant weapons).
  • Black Rose has as much to say about herself, but also of pro wrestlers in general. Just because they look happy or friendly when you see them out and about or in photo shoots doesn't mean you should expect that to last when they get in the ring.

Alternative Title(s):

Serious Mode