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Lovable Coward

Some barbarian is waving my shield, since I was obliged to leave that perfectly good piece of equipment behind under a bush.
But I got away, so what does it matter? Life seemed somehow more precious. Let the shield go; I can buy another one equally good.
Archilochus, responding to the Spartan saying, "Come home with this shield or upon it."

The flip side of the Dirty Coward is the Lovable Coward. Not quite a hero, completely lacking in heroic impulses, but even as he shamelessly runs and hides we somehow still find ourselves rooting for him. His cowardice is sometimes played for comedy, sometimes portrayed as simply the most sensible course of action; it seldom if ever endangers innocents. The Lovable Coward never (or hardly ever) puts Honor Before Reason - and considers this a point of pride. The Lovable Coward is often a Trickster, specializing in weaseling his way out of dangerous situations. He may be a Cowardly Sidekick; if he is the main hero, he may find himself an Accidental Hero for all the wrong reasons.

Contrast: Dirty Coward, The So-Called Coward, Miles Gloriosus, Cowardly Lion.


Example subpages


    open/close all folders 

    Comics 
  • Volstagg the Voluminous, of Marvel Comics' trio "The Warriors Three", is a cowardly, tremendously fat braggart with a bizarre amount of success in battle, partly due to his own lies. Then one day he was the only one mobile when an army threatened Midgard. He managed to pull together a defense and Took a Level in Badass. Judging by his name, he is probably based on Falstaff.
    • Averted in the movie where, while we don't see much of him in combat what we do see he's kicking ass as much as Fandral and Hogun
  • The Dog of Footrot Flats talks himself up (metaphorically) but tends to run away very fast from any hostile dog (and some cats) bigger than him. Although he's still a competent sheepdog.
  • Sir Rodney from The Wizard of Id gets most of his humor out of being a complete chicken.
  • Gus from Minimonsters, a cute, shy and unfortunate ghost. He sometimes can be brave, though.

    Films — Animation 
  • The error-prone inept and immortal wizard Schmendrick from The Last Unicorn was not only a Lovable Coward but found himself in the role of the Accidental Hero, until the more conventional hero and Knight in Shining Armor Prince Lir turned up in the latter half of the story. Both Schmendrick and Lir were uncommonly Genre Savvy; they knew what roles fate had destined them to play, to the point of Lir's Heroic Sacrifice to save the unicorn from King Haggard's monstrous Red Bull.
  • In The Swan Princess, Derek's friend Bromley is not nearly as courageous as he pretends to be, but comes through in the end. Jean-Bob, the frog who thinks he's a prince, has shades of this as well.

    Theater 
  • The classic example is William Shakespeare's Falstaff, the originator of the timeless saying, "The better part of valor is discretion, and in that better part I have saved my life."
  • Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Norman Smiley, a goofy British-born wrestler in WCW. He was loved by fans for his entertaining dance moves, but was such a coward that he'd wear heavy padding during his matches and would scream like a little girl whenever it seemed like a villain was about to get the better of him in the ring. Even when he somehow managed to win the Hardcore Championship, he was terrified of having to defend it in Hardcore Matches and kept trying to deliberately lose the title (which didn't work for a long time).
  • Santino Marella fluxuates between this and Suicidal Overconfidence, with the funniest moment coming when he entered the 2009 Battle Royale to be glared at by Triple H and John Cena. There's a notable pause in the action for a few seconds (with every contestant in the ring stopping to look at him) before Santino grips the bands of his singlet and throws himself out of the ring.


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Scooby-DooImageSource/Western AnimationScooby Stack

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