More Deadly Than The Male
When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Oh, look, a Proper Lady
. She is calm, always ready with a genuine smile
, and the perfect hostess
. Oh no! The audience is wincing; here come the bad guys, she doesn't stand a...
She set up the castle to do what to intruders?
This is when men are physically strong and quite capable of violence, but women are characterized as having a hidden, but apparently bottomless capacity for lethal mayhem
Remember, this does not
describe a situation where men are weak and women are strong. This is when women are depicted as far more ruthless, more cunning and ultimately more bloodthirsty than their Spear Counterparts
, despite—or because of—being smaller and weaker. While males are visibly larger and more aggressive, they tend more toward forms, codes and displays of power; meanwhile, the wily female bothers not with such things
To help this trope along, expect the bad guys to totally ignore the female, dismissing her as a threat
. She may even appear to capitulate or collude
with the enemy, suffering indignities no one would expect her to tolerate, all in order to get a better shot at revenge
This is the precursor to the modern Action Girl
. If every woman is like this, it may be a World of Action Girls
. She may seem smaller and meeker
, but should she attack, she will show no mercy
. Should you be foolish enough to want to trigger such behavior in a female, try threatening her offspring
, crossing her in love
, or crossing her love
. Bread and butter to its sister trope Silk Hiding Steel
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Anime & Manga
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ikari Gendo is a Magnificent Bastard who commands a force of Humongous Mecha. His son Shinji pilots one of these mecha. Gendo's wife and Shinji's mom, Yui? She is the soul of said mecha that Shinji pilots, prone to Unstoppable Rage in order to protect her son and RIPPING HER OPPONENTS LIMB FROM LIMB BEFORE DEVOURING THEIR ORGANS! It's also likely that she is the actual mastermind behind the whole Instrumentality project and the Evas. Gendo really only takes over command because she is no longer able to. By the way, Ikari is her birth surname, not Gendo's.
- In a flashback in the first episode of Moshidora, Minami, at bat in the bottom of the ninth with the scores tied in a junior baseball game, makes a wild swing at the first pitch that convinces everyone she is a hopeless batter. It turns out that her wild swing was done intentionally to lull the pitcher into a false sense of security, and on his next pitch she is able to get a hit and score the winning run.
- In Kekkaishi, the main character Yoshimori is explicitly Unskilled, but Strong to contrast with his childhood friend and crush Tokine, who's Weak, but Skilled. Where he gets bogged down by his soft heart, she's ruthless and willing to get her hands dirty.
- Among the 104th Trainee Corps in Attack on Titan, it's ruthless, unflinching Action Girls Mikasa Ackerman and Annie Leonhart who are the best fighters - their combat skills (ranked 10/10 in the guidebook) are outshined only by the legendary World's Strongest Man Levi. A villainous example exists in the Female-Type titan, which has the highest kill count and the most gruesome killing methods of any titan seen thus far. Makes sense, since it's eventually revealed to be Annie.
- Naomi Misora of Death Note is this way in comparison to her husband; while Raye is barely a probem, Light is in some real trouble when she decides to avenge him. Though Light manages to take advantage of her grief and lack of resources to get her out of the game before that happens, her death leads L to him and sets in motion the events leading to his ultimate destruction.
- Even more so in Another Note, where Naomi's singlehanded solving of the case impresses even L.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Hiei planned to commit genocide on the Ice Maidens for, among other reasons, throwing him down a cliff as a newborn infant and driving his mother (an Ice Maiden who had conceived him through sex rather than their species's normal parthenogenesis) to suicide, but eventually settled for Cruel Mercy. His twin sister Yukina (the only Ice Maiden he planned to spare) is searching for him to remind him he promised to commit the genocide.
- The Female (of the Species) in The Boys is quite literally named for this trope. She is also Ax-Crazy.
- In DC Comics, Batman and Superman both have codes against killing. Wonder Woman, however, explicitly doesn't, which has led to conflict between them on a few occasions. For Batman, this tends to end badly.
- Out of all of Batman's associates, the ones he has the least control over have been his female ones: Oracle (the original Batgirl, who was completely independent of him and considers herself his equal), Catwoman (who skirts the line between vigilante and criminal, and has no code against killing), Spoiler (who became a superhero largely to apprehend her criminal father and then became Batman's student), and Huntress (who also doesn't bother with Thou Shall Not Kill sensibilities). These ladies, while wanting to prove themselves as Gotham Heroines, don't have any of the "mentor/daddy issues" that the boys have and largely disobey Batman whenever they damn well please.
- Cassandra Cain does have these issues, seeing Bruce as a surrogate father figure. She still qualifies since she is by far the deadliest combatant the Bat-family has ever known.
- The Bronze Age Teen Titans. Starfire was a hardened ex-slave from a Proud Warrior Race. Donna Troy? A literal Amazon operating under the same code as her older sister, Wonder Woman. Raven? Half-Demon with daddy issues, and some seriously scary powers. Robin (Dick Grayson) had his mentor's "do not kill" code. Cyborg was strong, but not an experienced fighter, and Changeling (Gar Logan) was only dangerous if you backed him into a corner.
- In a flashback in Preacher, Herr Starr advises a class of military recruits to shoot female terrorists first; she will be more dangerous than the men since she will have had to work much harder in order to prove herself enough to join them.
- In the Gallimaufry arc of Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, sweet, cheerful Hooker with a Heart of Gold Louisa Dem Five introduces us to the tradition used in New Hong Kong to honor a murder victim... by drugging their killer into a confession and abandoning them to die of an overdose.
No, you didn't ruin anything. This is what a New Hong Kong wake is.
- In Sin City, this always happens when Dwight teams up with deadly little Miho. Dwight is a brooding noir hero who can hold his own in a fight. Miho is an extremely agile and deadly Old Town assassin, probably the most dangerous character in the books. Dwight tends to stand back while she slaughters whole groups of enemies in front of him.
- Among the main and recurring characters of Diabolik, the two most dangerous are not the protagonist, a murderous thief known as the King of Terror, and inspector Ginko, the only man in the police who can match Diabolik and rightly feared by every criminal because he will arrest them, but their respective fiancees, Eva Kant and Altea: where Diabolik's revenge may be terrible, a sufficiently enraged Eva is positively sadistic (her epic revenge on her uncle for driving her mother to suicide was A Fate Worse Than Death, and after a while she started thinking about killing him because she was getting bored), and if she decides to kill you she'll make sure you suffer if she has the time; and where Ginko is constrained by the law and his own status as a police officer, Altea has no such limit, and when prompted to take lethal action by Ginko being in danger she will calmly ask her uncle the phone number of a hitman or, failing that, manipulate Diabolik into killing whoever is gunning for Ginko. Both of them are proper and nice ladies.
- In Species, the decision was made to make the alien hybrid female "so she'd be more docile and controllable". A female scientist observes that "You don't get out much, do you?"
- The sequel subverts this, however; it turns out that a male hybrid is much more dangerous (and can turn tame female hybrids to its side pretty much just by existing).
- Rudyard Kipling's poem, The Female of the Species sums this trope up poetically, and attributes it to the hardships of motherhood.
- In Judges 4, an Israelite woman named Jael invites Canaanite captain Sisera to take shelter in her tent. She gives him milk to drink, and then while he sleeps, she drives a nail through his temples. With his death, Israel is freed from Canaanite captivity.
- Judith does much the same thing to an invading general, going into his tent, then giving him strong drink and, once he's gone to sleep, beheading him.
- Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold:
- Princess Kareen realizes her son is alive and that she's been lied to. Without hesitation, she draws a nerve disrupter in a room full of soldiers and fires at the usurper who told her that her son was dead, the self-proclaimed Emperor.
- Despite Aral being a remarkably capable warrior, ultimately Cordelia leads the team that ends the coup attempt and changes the fate of the world...on the way to rescuing her son, her real mission.
- Lady Macbeth. In the beginning of the play, she manipulates her husband into murdering their king and guest, something he would not have done without her prompting. Then either deconstructed or unbuilt, she descends into madness, because this was her only way to get power but she still wasn't prepared for her husband to be quite so on-board with it.
- Lady Sybil has hints of this. She was raised properly, but that means she almost never has a chance to let off steam, and is occasionally very interested in violence...
- Compare the male wizards and the female witches (ESPECIALLY Granny Weatherwax).
- In particular amongst the witches we have Magrat Garlick, who is compared to a small furry animal in overall demeanor, and she isn't easily angered—but as Witches Abroad and Lords and Ladies prove, sometimes a cornered small furry animal turns out to be a mongoose
- In Guards! Guards!, we find an unexpected example at the climax. Lady Sybil deduced the literal Dragon—the Bigger Bad ruling Ankh-Morpork through fear, is female.
- The Lady Assassins can be quite inventively nasty. Witness Alice Band's cure for over-confidence - sending students on doomed assignments to target Sam Vimes. And Lady T'Malia's armoury of poison-dealing jewellry.
- Blood and Chocolate: The male fights for alpha are planned meticulously and widely announced. The fights for the alpha's mate, on the other hand, begin with no ceremony and are expected to be lethal.
- Madame DeFarge and Miss Pross in A Tale of Two Cities.
- Bene Gesserit Lady Jessica, Hot Consort to Duke Leto Atreides in Dune. As both Thufir Hawat and Fremen naib Stilgar find out the hard way.
- The Dresden Files: Briefly mentioned in the first book, Storm Front. Harry believes that women are simply able to feel a stronger hatred toward someone than men are (he's a bit of a sexist).
- Ellana in Pierre Bottero's Ellana, in the second part, where Rhous Ingan says that little girls (Ellana is 15) can't fight (or use bows). Later that day she shoots to death 10 Rais.
- If you saw Rachel of Animorphs you would never guess that Ms. Fashion, the graceful girl who looks like a model and loves shopping is Xena, Warrior Princess, a blood-thirsty killer.
- This is pretty explicitly part of the worldbuilding in the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop: the culture is matriarchal, with males serving females as guardians and protectors; but females generally have more powerful (or at least more deadly) magic, and one character even says outright, albeit half joking, that the reason males serve is because "you're deadlier when you're angry" and at least if they go down first the males won't have to deal with them when their tempers are roused.
- In Time Scout, Malcolm is frequently surprised and impressed by Margo's ferocity.
- In The Dark Tower series novel "Wolves of the Calla", the Calla have a lady Oriza who is an in-universe legend. After her husband was murdered, she had a nude dinner with the conqueror. When the time was right, she took the sharpened dinner plate, threw it and took his head off.
- One of the Marines in Generation Kill unconsciously echos Kipling when the women of an Iraqi town emerge from their huts, unarmed, to verbally berate the heavily armed Marines, while the men stay hidden.
"If we had to fight the women, dawg, we wouldn't stand a fuckin' chance."
- In The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, women are forbidden from joining the Torturer's Guild because they are considered too vicious.
- In Death series: Rapture In Death has Reanna brag about this trope to Eve. Eve refutes it, however, saying that she thinks ruthlessness and viciousness have no gender.
- The Rudyard Kipling line is referenced quite a few times in the works of P. G. Wodehouse.
- The works of James H Schmitz—to whom the Dark Action Girl heroine was a signature trope—feature this quite a lot. The most notable one may be Telzey Amberdon, a telepathic teenage genius who unrelated adults find frankly terrifying.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Owlsight, the local lord and his son head out into the field to assist in commanding the defense against a possible barbarian invasion, leaving the lady of the keep behind to oversee the village evacuees. This is for two reasons: she can keep the refugees busy helping plan her son's wedding, and she's as good or better at castle defense than her husband, "and that's why I married her." Their son is rather surprised to hear that one.
- Ruth from Someone Else's War, full stop.
- In Hit Or Myth, when told his brother is dying, Aahz doesn't believe it, because his brother is a lot tougher than him. Then his nephew claims Dad had gotten into a fight with Mom, and suddenly Aahz is very worried....
- From "The Wallenstein Gambit", a short story set in the 1632 universe, after an American woman serving as his nurse helps ward off a coup attempt:
Wallenstein: A pity there are so few American women. If I had an army of you mad creatures, I could conquer the world.
- Julie Mackay (nee Sims) and Gretchen Richter embody this trope. The former is a Friendly Sniper who was almost disturbingly cheerful about blowing off men's heads before she had graduated high school. The latter has become the leader of a powerful revolutionary movement, and figures prominently in the nightmares of much of Europe's nobility. She herself has yet to turn 30.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Cersei is a subversion of the trope. She think of herself as this, and is certainly more dangerous than her idiot husband, but the series is so overflowing with other manipulators of greater competence than her that she is ultimately outmatched. Note that her inferiority in this field is not implied to be due to her gender, but simply her intelligence and personality.
- Ultimately subverted with Daenerys Targaryen. She's a fifteen-year-old girl without any of the martial training male nobles usually receive. To date, she has sacked three separate cities, and has a short way with those who cross her. In A Dance with Dragons, however, while it's clear she started with the best of intentions, her supporters are vastly outnumbered by those who want to overthrow her. All three cities eventually rise up in rebellion.
- Played straight with Olenna "Queen of Thorns" Tyrell, and she's training her protegee/granddaughter Margaery to be the same.
- In the Honor Harrington series, pirate captains are usually male. There are female pirate captains, however, and they tend to be a lot nastier than their male counterparts.
- In Tunnel in the Sky, Deacon Matson goes on a rant to his students that humans are the most deadly animal in existence. He notes that "it goes double for the female".
- According to Sapper, after battling the mysterious master criminal Carl Peterson through four books and finally killing him, Bulldog Drummond is challenged by Peterson’s female associate Irma in the book Female Of The Species (1928). Nearly forty years later, there was a film, Deadlier Than The Male (1967), in which the lead character is also called Bulldog Drummond, but he bears little relation to the original.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: Women usually end up more vicious in similar roles than men, particularly vampires Darla and Drusilla. Note also that Angelus originally got in touch with his sadistic side just to impress Darla.
- Chinese Paladin 3: A running theme in this show is women being willing to strike first, fight dirty, and take no prisoners if they or their loved ones are threatened. A prime example is Zixuan's setting a monastery on fire as a distraction when her lover is arrested.
- Features the gangster and slum lord Datak Tarr, and his loving wife Stahma... who quickly demonstrates that she is far more cunning and ruthless than her husband. She talks her husband out of killing the entire family of local mine owner Rafe McCawley by pointing out that their son Alak loves Christie McCawley - who would inherit the mines if her father and brother were to have a tragic mining accident.
- Even Nolan catches onto this during "A Well Respected Man":
Nolan: I've been watching the wrong snake. You're the dangerous one.
- Doctor Who:
- The first two adult companions were Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. That said, while Ian had his awesome moments, Barbara was such a Bad Ass it's a common fan joke that the show could have been renamed "Why Barbara is Awesome", and no one would have noticed.
- Also notable is Fourth Doctor companion Leela, a Noble Savage and Knife Nut the Doctor sometimes struggled to physically restrain.
- Generation Kill the series: One of the Marines says this when he observes the women of a town doing backbreaking labor to clear the streets and their yards of debris, while the men lounged on the lawns smoking:
"If we had to fight the women, dawg, we wouldn't stand a fuckin' chance."
- I Carly: "iMake Sam Girlier": Sam's new crush says "And even though I haven't known Sam for too long, I know that if I ever get in a fight and I can have either the football team or Sam back me up, I'm going with Sam."
- Revolution: Rachel Matheson. She may not look like Action Girl material at all, and in fact seems willing to put up with loads of hardships. But the minute her kids or her life get threatened...well, there's nothing that she won't do to ensure survival. Her former colleague Dr. Bradley Jaffe in "Kashmir" and Sergeant Will Strausser in "Nobody's Fault But Mine" learned this at the cost of their lives.
- Star Trek: The original Green Skinned Space Babes, the Orion slavegirls, are far deadlier than the males and are the true rulers of their world thanks to their pheromones.
- That '70s Show: The guys taunt Donna and Jackie with claims that while men can entertain themselves with play-fighting, girls get too angry and begin to fight for real. Cue the girls beginning a nice, playful fight that quickly descends to barbed words and legitimate violence.
- The small, frail female Skrall in BIONICLE are said to be far more dangerous than their larger, brutish male counterparts, in part due to their Psionic powers which can potentially destroy one's mind.
- In Gears of War, females of the Locust Horde are referred to as "Berserkers." They're blind but have heightened senses of smell and sound to track their prey... and they are much more powerful and deadly than the more typical Locust drones. COG soldiers absolutely dread them.
- Oddly enough, invoked by Atton Rand in the second Knights of the Old Republic. He mentions that Sith men are bad enough, but Sith women are much worse.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Gerudo guards (who are all women) are the only enemies Link will surrender to.
- Aglaia Lilich from Pathologic. Despite being neither crazy nor blood-thristy, unlike many other known Inquisitors, she is still more willing than any other character in the game to use extemely brutal means in order to stop Sand Plague. There is an extremly striking contrast between her and another powerful figure in the game - Alexander "General Ash" Block, who, unlike her is a deeply honorable Officer And Gentleman, and is incredibly humane for war veteran.
- The male party members in Mass Effect have a tendency to be calm and rational by comparison to a cast that includes Liara, Jack, Morinth, Samara, Ashley...
- In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, there are two Thwomps that the Bros. encounter on top of Yoshi Mountain, Mr. Thwomp and Ms. Thwomp. Mr. Thwomp does nothing but make passive-aggressive taunts at you and help you throughout the following stage. Ms. Thwomp, however, challenges you to a full-on boss fight against her, and it's certainly not an easy fight.
- In about three of the Deception series of games (known as the Kagero series in Japan) features a female main character who is not an Action Girl by any stretch of imagination, but instead was given a castle full of traps, and a complementary Trap Master traits to go along with it. Chaining insane, bloody and gory combos with your ever-increasingly lethal and convoluted trap sequence is par for the course. The oddly-named Trapt (Kagero II: Dark Illusion in Japan) has a Princess doing this.
- Olga from Asura's Wrath is much more vindictive and cruel than most of the other Deities, being merely subservient to deus out of true admiration then true subservience most of the time. Subverted when around Asura, especially when he turns into his berserker form, which makes her high tail it and try to use their ultimate weapon on him. She also Outlives deus and tries to kill mithra when Deus dies.
- In Fallout: New Vegas any of the female companions classify. Veronica and her power fist are much more dangerous than most of what the Brotherhood has to offer and Cass... Let's just say she one ups her father on that front. Of note is also the female NCR Ranger, Stella, captured by the Legion. Forced to fight in the arena, she's been tearing up hardened legionaries with her bare hands ever since.
- Happens twice in E.V.O.: Search for Eden. The first time it's the Queen Bee, the final boss of chapter 2. The second time it's the Female Yeti, the final boss of Chapter 4. The reason that they attack you is because you defeated their mates.
- Persona 4: Your two most brutal mages and one of your biggest bruisers are all girls. While Kanji is also a great bruiser, the other two guys on the team are more balanced and rounded fighters than Kick Chick Chie, Red Mage Yukiko and Pint-Sized Powerhouse Glass Cannon Naoto.
- Pokémon has the Meowstic species, which exhibits such a high level of Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism that the two genders have different movepools. The males have primarily support movepools. The females, on the other hand, have primarily offensive movepools (through level up only though). The female's hidden ability (Competitive) is also offensive-oriented compared to the male's (Prankster), but otherwise, it's downplayed; their stats as well their movepools by T Ms as well as from Espurr's are still the same.
- Combee double-subverts this. While the female is no stronger than the male, it is the only gender that can evolve into Vespinquen.
- Monique in Sinfest tried to imitate "male bonding". She does it wrong.
- Grace from El Goonish Shive used to have only two modes: complete pacifism and Unstoppable Flying Clawball Of Doom. However, this may have more to do with being a hybrid of a herbivore (squirrel) with a really monstrous alien while having rather limited experience. Later martial artist friends, including ladies, convinced her that it's not always a good idea and she got to learn more controlled ways of violence.
- Demise, the super-assassin from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is the deadliest fighter on the planet not because she's superhumanly strong or because she's superhumanly fast, but rather because she knows how to turn anything — anything at all — into a deadly weapon, and can figure out ways around your defenses in seconds.
- The Nostalgia Chick might be as pathetic and miserable as the Critic, but her temper is scarier, she can worm her way out of trouble easier, she's stronger than him despite their height difference, and she'll stoop to any level to get what she wants.
- Avatar The Last Airbender:
- While there are very competent male Fire Benders and fighters in her family, Azula plots, schemes, and ruthlessly manipulates others to do her dirty work, before finally bringing out the lightning. And she puts even Daddy to shame with all of her machinations, murder and mayhem.
- Katara can also have shades of this. While she doesn't have the raw power of Aang, she can be downright terrifying when angry. Most notable when she's on the receiving end of chauvinistic comments (things tend to break around her) and when hunting for her mother's killer (where she used bloodbending).
- In Samurai Jack, Jack and his friend The Scotsman are off on a quest to save the Scotsman's wife, a good head taller and bit wider than the muscular Scotsman, from being sacrificed by some demons. Jack and the Scotsman get to her, nagging about their lateness and pathetic fighting styles, and get her to the main hall where they are surrounded by hundreds of demons. Jack and the Scotsman fight to their last bit of energy when the Demon Lord orders his people to kill them and put the "fat one" back in the pot. The Scotsman's wife does not take kindly to being called that, so she jumps into the battle alone beating back every single demon before taking down the Demon Lord himself.
- In Ben 10: Omniverse female Tetramands are revealed to be much stronger then the males.
- Adventure Time: The Ice Queen is much more competent than the Ice King. Justified, as it's a fanfiction of the latter, so he probably made her competent regardless of her gender.
- The tricoteuses of The French Revolution (as Burke called them, "All the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell in the abused shape of the vilest of women"), which inspired the creation of Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.
- Wendi Deng Murdoch protected her husband from a dangerous pie-thrower by going for his throat.
- Female domestic abusers of male partners are statistically more likely to use weapons. Of course, this makes sense given the strength difference.
- In military basic training, female drill sergeants seem far meaner than male drill sergeants. And if they're also short, well...
- Common among any wild animal with Mama Bear tendencies.
- Spotted Hyenas- while the species as a whole is pretty tough (they've been seen hunting on broken legs, are capable of eating even the horns and bones of prey animals, etc.) the females are larger, more aggressive, and are dominant over males to the point that an adult male may have lower status than the alpha female's infant daughters.
- The females actually have an enlarged clitoris, which they use to urinate, mate, and even give birth with. Did we also mention that it closely resembles a penis? Yikes!
- Female mosquitoes are the only ones that drink blood. While this obviously makes them more of a pest than males, it also makes them very deadly as they are the ones that carry and pass diseases such as Malaria, West Nile, and Yellow Fever.
- When militants came to Ruksana Kauser's home to kidnap her, she was hidden so they started hitting people with their rifles. She took an axe from her hiding place under the bed and smashed the commander in the head, then grabbed his AK-47 and tossed another to her brother, and with the rest of the family drove them off and headed to the police station. She has since received lots of attention, several awards, several more attacks, and become a police officer.
- While male lions are pretty fierce and threatening, and larger and stronger than the females, from an animals point of view (e.g. a zebra) they are actually less dangerous as male lions are used to having the females in the pride hunt for them. If a male lion is ousted by another and has to fend for themselves, they tend to make poor hunters because of lack of practice, and may starve to death.
- Pick a martial art. Any martial art. Go into a dojo for that martial art and watch their sparring class. Now observe. The women are often more aggressive than the men.
- Many female leaders in history, such as Bloody Mary I of England, Hungarian Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory and the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.