"They had the heavy, stolid look of those thugs whose appearance in any narrative means that it's time for the hero to be menaced a bit, although not too much, because it's also obvious that they're going to be horribly surprised."So, Fingers McStealy is lurking in an alleyway waiting for a victim. Ah, here comes someone, and that fetching hat and coat look expensive. He's smiling too, so maybe he just came into money? Ooo, he even has something shiny under his coat. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Basically this is when some random crook, and occasionally a pretty stupid one at that, has the misfortune of targeting someone much more powerful than he assumed. When the Super Hero/monster/alien assassin/robot/ sorcerer from the future/other world/space appears, the criminal acts as a disposable victim they can demonstrate their powers on for the benefit of the audience. Alternatively, The Hero is held up while going about their business. If they have a Secret Identity, then it can lead to a Bruce Wayne Held Hostage scenario, but if the criminal attacked them in costume or the hero is just some badass Walking the Earth, then it typically just serves as an introduction. Bonus points if the would be victim looks particularly vulnerable. When an assailant targets a crowd of people not knowing that Everyone Is Armed, you get this trope with strength of numbers replacing individual dangerousness. Tends to make a good Establishing Character Moment, depending on how (and how easily) the crooks are dealt with. Occasionally this can lead to them recruiting a sidekick or other ally. Can be deeply satisfying. When the person looks vulnerable due to chronological endowment, it's either Never Mess with Granny or Badass Grandpa. When a Video Game character does this, it's often due to Suicidal Overconfidence. See also Dude, Where's My Respect? when this keeps happening with no signs of anyone figuring out the pattern. Compare Colliding Criminal Conspiracies and Unintentionally Notorious Crime. Supertrope of Robbing the Mob Bank. Please note: the trope need not include actual mugging (though it is a popular method). As long as the provoker or provokers intentionally and excessively antagonize someone much more powerful than they are without knowing beforehand what they are screwing with, and the provoker or provokers are thrashed because of it, then it fits. Compare:
- Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: You're looking for the powerful entity, and don't know he's right there in plain sight, unable to act.
- Bullying a Dragon: Messing with a powerful entity that you know can destroy you.
- A Mugging the Monster situation can evolve into this if the attacker doesn't have the sense to back down and retreat after finding out what they're up against.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Showing defiance to something you know is about to kill you.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: If they immediately stomp you into a pancake.
- Fearless Fool: The character routinely gets into these situations because he's just too dumb to know better.
- Paper Tiger: An inversion (although even the Paper Tiger can be dangerous if pushed hard enough).
- Shooting Superman: Attacking a target who can just shrug it off.
- Anime and Manga
- Comic Books
- Films — Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Comics
- Western Animation
- Real Life
open/close all folders
- One of those bewilderingly insane Arinamin V commercials starring Arnold Schwarzenegger has two punks come up to Arnold — who is cleverly disguised as a nerd — and start harassing him and his lady friend. Arnold nips off to chug a bottle of Arinamin, and one "Daijo BUI!!" later, well, just look. Could even count as Bullying a Dragon, since according to the simple formula provided here, Arnold Schwarzenegger + Nerd Glasses = still Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- A Ford Icon commercial has a guy in a bear mascot costume standing outside of an air conditioner store when four punks walk up and start harassing him, like kicking him in the butt or generally mocking him. He then puts one of his paws on the "leader" of the group, and another of them slaps the head of the costume off... revealing a real bear. They quickly lose any sense of mirth at this revelation, and three of the four run in terror, leaving the "leader" staring down the bear. Has to be seen to be believed.
- This Anti-Road Rage PSA. A man in a pickup truck gets cut off by an SUV. He promptly chases it down, blocks it, and starts menacing the driver. The driver gets out... and is revealed to be Heavyweight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield. Don't give in to Road Rage, kids. You might end up on the wrong side of a boxing legend.
- In one of his stand-up shows, Dara Ó Briain recounts a story told to him by a member of the audience once when he asked whether anyone had ever managed to foil a crime. In this story, two men had attempted to steal the audience member's car and attempted to lock themselves in it when cornered — upon which the audience member punched in the car window, dragged one of the thieves out, forced him into the house, tied him to a chair and threatened him with a carving knife. The other car thief was subsequently forced to summon the police in order to rescue his friend. Needless to say, Dara was a little taken aback by the story.
- Sebastian Maniscalco once gave a hypothetical situation about the "poor bastard" who breaks into one of his friend's house. Unaware that the owner is not only ex-military, but keeps a compound bow for such situations.
- The Far Side: "Why...yes...thank...you... I...would...like...a...knuckle...sandwich."
- In this strip, two bullies decide to beat Dilbert up for wearing glasses with a camera. Little do they know, he's made a few "modifications".
- Garfield attacks a chicken that he thinks is helpless in this strip.
- In another strip, Garfield climbs up a tree where a bird is singing, saying, "Ready or not, here I come!" Then there are sounds of a ferocious fight, and Garfield is thrown out of the tree, beaten to a pulp. "He was ready..." groans Garfield.
- In another, he meets a French poodle, and laughs his head off at it; in the last panel, having been beaten up, he says, "Gosh, haircuts are deceiving..."
- In yet another, he meets a very old dog next to a sign that says, "Beware of the Old Dog". "What are you going to do, gum me?" he snarks to it. He finds out quickly that, "the old geezer is lethal with a cane..."
- In U.S. Acres, you wouldn't think Sheldon, an egg that refused to hatch, would be dangerous. But...
- In the B.C. comic seen here, a predatory dinosaur really picks the wrong prey.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Garlic Jr. and his henchmen try to take over the Lookout while Mr. Popo is running it. After refusing to "clean that up", Garlic Jr. tries to monologue to Popo about who he is, which results in the latter "assimilating" him and his minions.
- 3 Slytherin Marauders: anyone who picks a fight with Tom.
- Advice and Trust: When Asuka joined Shinji's class, a horde of boys chased her. When she said she wanted to date nobody, two boys refused to accept her answer and tried to get hard. It turned out that fragile, little girl punched hard.
Shinji: "Maybe that will finally get them to stop chasing me like I'm a prize to be won. [...] How come I'm the one with the pack after them? You were ten times as popular as I was, a week after you arrived, miss incredibly-hot-exotic-foreign-transfer-student. I know Touji and Kensuke were making crazy amounts of cash selling beauty shots of you almost right away. Why haven't I had to chase away a pack of boys drooling after you?"
Asuka: "Because I already had them properly terrified and respectful after I mashed the first two flat when they tried to ask me out the week I got here and refused to take 'no' for an answer, [...] Putting a couple of them on the ground with a few punches when they got rough taught the others to keep off. You're just too polite and sweet to girls to scare them off, my darling baka."
- In Afraid of The Darkness, Lucius Malfoy attempts to bully a muggle hitman into doing his dirty work, unaware that Jackie Estacado is not an ordinary muggle nor someone he should be messing with.
- In the Frasier story Dark Horse of the Moons, three Seattle muggers try to shake down Daphne Moon and her brother Tim. Big mistake. A girl growing up in Collyhurst, Manchester, with eight brothers, soon learns how to fight. And when one of her brothers is an off-duty Royal Marine taking a leave in Seattle... Niles Crane gibbers as he watches mayhem ensue.
- In Deadpan Love, some small crook tries to mug a pair of scrawny kids kissing on a bench. At hearing his threats, the two start laughing... the guy was unlucky enough to stumble across Raven and Beast Boy during their first date.
- A gang of thugs tries to mug The Doctor. The Third Doctor. He proceeds to Pressure Point them into unconsciousness.
- In Exodus of Stars, batarians attempt to capture a Star Covenant transport with boarding teams smuggled aboard, as well as an ambush by three warships. Not only does the ship crew get wind of the boarders and easily take them out, but there is also the fact that the batarians have no idea about the armament of a Carrack class transport.
- The Hill of Swords. Louise summons a version of Emiya Shirou who's well along the path to becoming Archer. Then, of course, Guiche challenges him to a duel.
- Last Child of Krypton: When Shinji was younger, some bullies harassed him, ignoring that the scrawny, shy kid could tear steel with his bare hands.
- In Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars, a batarian thug tries to rob the Courier, who has just arrived into Mass Effect universe, but is still armed and wearing Power Armor, albeit those are vastly outdated. In the end, he doesn't even need them.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- In the Ponies Of Olympus series, Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo at one point go to Storm Alley to visit Dash's old mentor Amber Spark, and are harassed by some thugs who want to have some "fun" with them. Since both mares in question are Action Girls, they easily kick ass.
- Played interestingly in Princess Celestia Gets Mugged: while wandering around Canterlot in her civillian guise Sunny Skies, Princess Celestia is ambushed, mugged, and subsequently kidnapped and held to ransom. Despite being able to escape at any time, Celestia plays along with it out of amusement.
- In Progress, two stallions flirt with the incognito Luna and try to get her Unsuspectingly Soused. When she catches on, arse-kicking ensues.
- Interesting variation where the mugging goes both ways in Shepard's R&R. Pinkie Pie shoots a party cannon at Grunt, the diplomats think they're under attack, and Luna restrains them before they could respond. Luna and Shepard almost come to blows while demanding the other to back down. Shepard doesn't realize he's confronting an actual Physical God who could kill him with a thought, while Luna doesn't realize that she's threatening a galactic legend whose death would draw the wrath of all the other races, and her promises "to send him to the moon" are very ineffectual against someone whose people willingly live on moons.
- In Of Love and Bunnies, a mugger tries to take Kimberly's purse. He is promptly decked by Tommy. This has a lot of ramifications on the plot, since the mugger was one of their old classmates, and it gets to the point that the world believes that Tommy was the original Black Ranger. They eventually have to send in TJ to ensure that the mugger changes his story.
- Later on in the story, a Troobian ship attacks a "Ranger Kegger". Attended by every Power Ranger on earth (pre-SPD). Many of whom that still have their powers and/or various other miscellaneous skills. All of whom are still very, very adept at beating the hell out of foot soldiers. Things do not go well for the Troobians.
- In Respect, a trio of bullies goes after their favorite target, timid crybaby artist Yayoi Kise, not knowing that she's just made a contract with Kyubey specifically to get them to stop... needless to say, it doesn't end well.
- In Unfamiliar, a bunch of muggers attack a young noble and her scruffy, grumpy, hood-wearing servant wandering down a blind alley after dusk. They become aware of their grievous error in judgement shortly before the servant messily kills and eats them. It's a crossover with [PROTOTYPE]; said servant is Alex Mercer.
- The Yellow Wings learned the hard way that Cid and Ensei are way out of their league in The Tainted Grimoire.
- From the Star Trek fic That Was A Good Fight a shapeshifting alien salt-vampire thingy attacks the crew of the Enterprise and mocks Kirk after knocking out Spock, assuming him to be just another pathetic human: "What a feast. Your Doctor, your Commander, now you. This whole ship will sustain me. You aren't going to cry? I want to taste your tears." But what the creature doesn't know is that Kirk has been struggling against his new Super-Powered Evil Side courtesy of Khan's blood. Now one must pity the poor ensign who has clean up what remains of the alien out of the floor tiles.
- In Time Braid, this is invoked by Hinata when she and Sakura propose to go undercover as missing-nin and infiltrate Akatsuki. Hinata quotes the standard chestnut along the lines of "meet interesting new people, and kill them"; when Sakura chastises her for violence of outlook, she points out that, being two thirteen-year-old girls travelling alone, one carrying the Byakugan, all sorts of people are bound to attack them who the world would be better off without anyway. Later, dialogue notes that "eventually, the attacks stopped".
- In Zero vs Kira the Britannian soldiers who unknowingly capture Kira in a world-breaching experiment Gone Horribly Right. "Damn uppity Eleven, you think you're somebody because you can speak English and wear a suit." Light Yagami asks if he may at least know the names of his executioners. Later there's the instance where some Britannian thugs pick a fight with Suzaku. Suzaku, naturally, wipes the floor with them.
- At the beginning of Fate Stay Night: Ultimate Master, Lancer attacks Ben Tennyson while looking for souls to feed on. He is suitably surprised when what he assumed to be a harmless teenager turns into a hulking armored being with heat vision.
- In First Try Series, Sakura, who is still an Academy student, tries to pick a fight with Naruto, who was almost Chunin, and learns the hard way that he didn't drop out. Her mother Barako tries to destroy Tetsuo's reputation and get an old secretary fired, not knowing they are Danzo's grandson and Danzo himself.
- Forms part of the backstory in Red Fire, Red Planet. Norigom, a Nausicaan just conscripted onto the IKS mupwI's command crew from Rura Penthe, apparently decided his first order of business should be getting laid for probably the first time since the Klingon-Gorn War. And what better target for his affections than the 147 cm, 43 kilo Orion he thought was probably ship's "entertainment"?
"Norigom came to half an hour later with four cracked ribs, two broken metatarsals and a nose that was somewhat flatter than it had been when he’d entered the room."
- In Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Mizuki's gang's first encounter with Naruto results in this. After initially meeting him at Ino's family store and dismissing him as a weakling, gang members Dosu, Zaku and Kin happen upon Naruto later in the evening and decide it'll be a good idea to make a game out of beating him up. Only problem is, Naruto happens to be one of the infamous Nine Terrors, people who could destroy cities with ease in the back-story; the end result is that the entire gang winds up with broken bones and their motorcycles smashed to pieces. Much later, it veers into Bullying a Dragon territory when Mizuki takes more of his gang to confront Naruto, Naruto beats up several of them single-handedly and then reveals who he is...and Mizuki decides to take him on anyway, with not-too-surprising results.
- A flashback in the original reveals that this is how Vincent and Albert Schumer first met the illithiid crime boss Luis DaPen, by trying to shake him down for money when he was alone in Satellite. Unlike most examples of this Trope, it ended well for them; while he could have easily killed them, he instead offered them jobs as his bodyguards, eventually earning their Undying Loyalty.
- In the first chapter of Shadowchasers: Ascension, Dante pulls a sting at a bar with the help of two tieflings - Debbie and Shaylene - catching the bartender in the act of selling a controlled substance. When the bartender sends two thugs after Dante, there's this dialogue between Dante's accomplices to the sound of a violent fight:
Debbie: Don't those two goons know that Dante has a black belt in Karate?
Shaylene: I guess not...
- Webwork: Jade, now a Jorogumo but disguised as a human via glamour, is mistaken by a mugger for a hooker and is threatened at knifepoint for some "fun" in an alley. She proceeds to slam his head against the alley wall repeatedly, barely noticing as she does so.
- Karakura Thugs is built on this trope. A group of thugs annoyed at Ichigo not being a proper delinquent decide to beat up his friends instead. Almost all of whom have superpowers of some kind, and even the one they attacked that didn't had stun guns and Molotov cocktails instead.
- At one point in Life in Reverse a few crooks had the bad luck to choose to threaten an incognito Loki.
- A mugger tries to hold up Tony and Steve in The Problem with Secret Identities. Tony immediately kicks the gun out of his hand and breaks his nose without thinking about it, to the surprise of even the Cap who doesn't have a chance to react.
- A couple robbers try to hold up Xander's bar in Tales from the Barman. They're so little threat to everyone present that most don't even look up from their drinks.
- In What Happens in Vegas, Dumbledore kidnaps Willow Potter so she can "fulfill her obligation to defeat Voldemort". Willow's wife, Raven, objects. Violently.
- There are a few Five Nights at Freddy's crossovers where the security guard is not gonna let Freddy and gang do what they please;
- Pyro's Night At Freddy's: Pyro gets the job, and in his own Obliviously Evil way, makes one thing clear; He's not trapped with killer animatronics, the animatronics are trapped with him.
- New Night Guard: This time, it's Heavy, and he's a lot less oblivious.
- Dante's Night At Freddy's: Five haunted animatronics. One half-demon demon hunter. Six hours of senseless carnage...for the robots.
- A Catgirl At Freddy's, a Fenspace crossover. A more accurate title might be "A Catgirl Armed With A Double-Barrelled Shotgun At Freddy's Who Has Her Even More Heavily Armed Boyfriend Waiting Outside". Ultimately subverted because Everybody Lives, the animatronics weren't actually serious about hurting anyone in the first place, and there's a solar system-wide APB out on the Purple Guy.
- In The Bridge, Aria Blaze detects someone emitting a great deal of hatred and rage and approaches in order to feed. It turns out to be Kaizer Ghidorah. Even with the power boost she gets from feeding on him, all she can do is run.
- Tends to be a Running Gag in the Italian remake of Battle Fantasia Project:
- Seeing that the Yakuza of Tokyo had been recently eradicated, a group of South American criminals tried to fill the vacuum and get rid of the chief of the police by taking in hostage a group of middle school students from Mitakihara that included Mami Tomoe. But they're not that lucky: committing a violent crime in Tokyo means dealing with Sailor Venus...
- It's mentioned that a criminal tried to rob a bank in San Francisco and had to deal with what is implied to be a retired Harry Callahan. The criminal got his hand shot off, and his panicked moves made him bleed out before the ambulance arrived.
- How did Mami became known as Mami the Invincible? Well, a few days after her break-up with Kyoko, five magical girls from another town tried to take over Mitakihara and the nearby town, and mocked Mami on her loneliness. Mami blew up one, shot another with the Tiro Finale, tied up and shot in the Soul Gems two others, and let the fifth one go to spread her legend, periodically visiting her to fake having decided to finish the job but having forgotten something she needs to properly kill her.
- A random Muggle in The Eyes Have It throws a can of paint at Sakura's group, thinking them "fancy-shmancy samurai". Sakura compares to seeing a drunk kicking a sleeping bear.
- The crossover of Vandread Halo gives the Spartan II to the all-female Space Pirates. Though the Master Chief clearly shows to be more of a Gentle Giant than he seems, the women still can't stand what would happen if they tried to pick on him. Fortunately aside that, they are savvy enough to avoid this trope.
- Rabat was...not so lucky.
- In the second arc of Halkegenia Online Zero Hour, the Red Japanese Army tries to attack the SAO Returnees School. A school where most of the students had just spent two years fighting for their lives, taking 38% casualties in the process, and are not going to put up with that again. To make it worse, one of their team leaders, Nanbou 'The Heartbreaker', decides to indulge in his hobby of traumatizing young girls via rape, and happens to pick the girl who is secretly the serial killer who is running around massacring the local yakuzas as his next victim.
- A Running Gag in Ranma ½ stories is to have some thug from out of Nerima pick a fight with Ranma or another member of the Nerima Wrecking Crew, all of whom can shatter walls without even trying thanks to their martial arts training. Then there's the story where an idiot decided to do worse to Nabiki...
- "You... You don't know who Ranma Saotome is...?"
"Heard his name a few times. Nothing special."
"Nothing special...*cue hysterical laughter* You're a dead man Jiro. A fucking dead man!"
- A sort of Running Gag in Venus Flash, as Sailor Venus and the Dark Kingdom are an Outside-Context Problem to Panther Claw, and nobody could imagine what Honey can now do with the Airborn Element Fixing Device. Then there's the banchou of Minako's school picking a fight with her...
- In For want of a Nail (NSFW) protagonist/supersoldier turned professional comedian Jason Thorn makes a joke about a mugger accidentally picking Supergirl for a victim, backing off with "Oh...excuse me, I thought you were someone else ...". In the audience Wonder Woman confides to a friend "Someone actually used that line once . . .".
- In Cycles Upon Cycles, a group of mostly Batarian mercenaries try to attack a Terran colony with plans to enslave the inhabitants and sell off their technology. Unfortunately for them, the Koprulu sector is such a hostile place that Terrans always set up their military first before allowing civilians on a new colony.
- In Not In Kansas, Vampire Slayer Kendra tries to kill Supergirl with a sword, thinking her a demon. Kara finds the idea kinda funny.
- Earlier some members of the NID try to kidnap Kara. After taking out three of them, she catches the fourth by standing in front of the getaway van.
- There is a running gag in various Worm fanfic omakes on SpaceBattles called 'The Guy Who Mugs Skitter In Every Fic', in which a hapless involuntary dimension traveller keeps waking up on a new world, being compelled to attempt to mug the local version of Taylor Hebert at gunpoint, and, since Taylor is inevitably a dangerous superpowered badass, lose painfully.
- In Father Goose and the Black Knight, Detectives Benson and Stabler interrogate Xander in the Cleveland headquarters over a number of girls who've been raped and tortured. What they don't know is every girl there (all twenty six of them) is a Slayer who adores Xander. Faith openly tells them that they're only leaving the building alive because Xander told the girls not to hurt them.
- In Thousand Shinji, thugs and men in black often attack Shinji, Asuka and Rei, thinking that they're helpless children. Usually, when their assailants discover their intended victims are NOT defenseless, it's too late to run away.
- In Unbiased the Sound Four try to deliver Orochimaru's offer to Sasuke, only to get the wrong hospital room. Things only become truly problematic when Tayuya asks who the "big-titted whore" is; Tsunade is not amused.
- Quicken: Right after she dug her way out of her own grave, Emma was attacked by four thugs who intended to rape her. She was a berserker with a self-regenerative power. They thought that she was a helpless teenager. She killed them all.
- In Becoming More a local Jerk Jock gropes one of the girls at school and learns the hard way she just became a Slayer when she picks him up one handed and throws him across the hall. Later becomes Bullying a Dragon when he and his friends try to rape and murder her.
- Three examples in Mortal Kombat Vs Marvel Universe in regards to the Cage family:
- When Norman Osborn kidnaps Cassie and her sister, Ravenna, in revenge for their parents beating the crap out of him, he expects Johnny to surrender Cage Incorporated in exchange for their release. He, nor the Hand's gang, Madame Masque or the Purple Man did not know about Cassie and Ravenna being mutant telepaths. Cue the asskicking and skullcracking
- S.H.I.E.L.D. raids a home in upstate New York, as they suspect that Jessica Jones is hiding there. Nope, it's Cassie, who mows down the Capekillers and several heroes. It takes Iron Man to stop her.
- Johnny Cage vs a group of muggers. Guess what happens next.
- Harkin decides to cop a feel of the cute redhead that came in with Nihlus in Wild Effect. After he ignores her warnings that she'll give him a five second head-start, Ranma dislocates every bone in his hand.
- Nabiki Tendo decides to extort the woman she believes to be yet another fiance in Hell is a Martial Artist, who goes along with it out of amusement. Unfortunately for her, said woman is Hild and Nabiki's decision that breaking their deal would earn her more money in the long run costs the girl her soul.
- Later a Youma possessing Gos tries to take over the planet only to run afoul of the Sailor Scouts (who he knew about) and worse, Sailor Moon's martial arts instructor: Ranma Saotome aka the teen Hild has basically adopted.
- Oh, do the four love this trope in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. It comes into play every time someone attacks them, and they make quite a bit of money this way, thanks to the Blameless Victim Revenge Law—if you're attacked for no reason and you win, you legally get to keep anything you want off the attackers. And since the four never once initiate an attack or do anything to encourage one besides walking around.... They call it “fishing.”
- Don't fuck with Nine Thousands! And it's a damn good thing the four are Actual Pacifists.
- Though the city muggers, at least, figure out what's going on after two nights of “fishing.” But the outworlders don't, or can't believe the four are that powerful... despite them being nicknamed the Awesome Foursome after less than two days of mostly just wandering around as tourists.
- In An Open and Frank Discussion by Adrian Tullberg, Civil War-era Iron Man and his various allies encounter a super-powered visitor to their world from another dimension and try to force her to abide the Superhuman Registration Act or face imprisonment in the Negative Zone. Unfortunately for them, the super-powered visitor in question turns out to be Wonder Woman, who proves capable of not only handing each of them their asses, but also of offering an intellectual deconstruction of the numerous constitutional failings of the Registration Act once she's done so.
- In The Vain Rose's Garden, Casanova Wannabe Toshiyuki Aoshima tries first coercing then intimidating Belldandy into sleeping with him. She responds by picking him up and throwing him into a dumpster.
- Instead of the Straw Hats, in Nine Minutes the Foxy Pirates try to attack a small group of Revolutionaries. The reaction of each Revolutionary when they (individually) hear this is an amused, "That's adorable." A later chapter implies only Porsche survived.
- In Life During Wartime, a canon sidestory to Neon Metathesis Evangelion, two thugs try to mug Kaworu, Kensuke and Mana at night, thinking them easy prey. However, Mana has been fully trained by the JSSDF in close quarter combat, and unlike the other sort of training she has received, that one has always come easily to her. The thugs have no chance.
- In Harry by Proxy, some gang members think a member of some rival gang came on their street and decide to give him a lesson. The guy is actually Jeffrey Woods, Knife Nut extraordinaire and clinical psychopath. Bloodbath ensues.
- Nick Fury in Vacation means Chaos tries to intimidate Xander Harris into not telling the Avengers about the Watchers Council, even threatening to have him arrested for treason. Xander pretends to be an idiot for a while (such as thinking Nick Fury is Kingsley Shacklebolt) before informing him that he (Xander) is a member of the board and thus has the right to tell anyone he pleases about the Slayer and the Council.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld and The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, visiting Discworlder Johanna Smith-Rhodes twice encounters the criminal underworld of Los Angeles. In Ankh-Morpork, she has to go easy on Thieves as a mark of professional courtesy to fellow Guild professionals going about their eveyday work. In Los Angeles, however, she reasons that all Thives are unlicenced and professional courtesy no longer applies. Two lots of would-be robbers discover what a trained professional Assassin is capable of when she isn't even annoyed. Then her Guild colleague Ruth N'Kweze crosses over and meets members of a typical street gang whilst walking two dogs late at night. The dogs are what are called Rhodesian Ridgebacks on both worlds. It isn't Ruth who declines a fight and backs off. A whole LA street gang collectively thinks better of it.
Films — Animation
- Superman/Batman: Apocalypse features a naked Kara Zor-El wandering confused into an alley just after arriving on Earth and being spotted by three workers. One decides to play Lothario and gets his ass kicked. The second tries to help his friend. The third wisely proclaims he's not with the other two and offers her his coat.
- In Appointment with F.E.A.R., the main character (who is a superhero) is approached by criminals who want to mug him/her. If you fight them, you out yourself and have to give up your career as a superhero, which leads to a bad ending (albeit one that's quite a bit less dark than the other bad endings); only by letting them mug you can you continue playing.
- In the Lone Wolf series, when in "civilized" parts of the world rather than evil fortresses or the wilderness, various rogues trying to mug the hero is a common type of fight encounter. It rarely ends well for them. In later books, some of those fights aren't even played out — there is just an off-hand mention of Lone Wolf leaving a few dead brigands behind.
- The premise of the song "Earth's Fire Breathing Daughter" by Leslie Fish. The titular sort-of-demigoddess entity buys a house in California with her coven and start enacting pagan rites. Neighbors complain and send the police after them on false drug charges. She triggers an earthquake and mudslide that kills the entire police force and destroys all the surrounding houses, while of course leaving hers entirely intact. (They deserve it.)
- The music video for Skrillex's "First of the Year (Equinox)" is about a pedophile choosing the absolute worst victim possible.
- Joe Bethancourt's "I'll See Your Six" recounts just such a situation. In this case, the "monster" was a young lady who's not only carrying a broadsword, but knew how to use it, and was wearing chain armor. (See Real Life section for details - yes, it happened.)
- Mercedes Lackey wrote a song called "Threes" about the trope, then reworked it and used it in the novel "Oathbound".
- In the Big L song "Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous", he boasts that "once a burglar broke into my house, and I robbed him!".
- Jim Croce's "Leroy Brown" and "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" had the titular tough guys taken down by tougher guys than them.
- Leroy was so badass he could have any woman he wanted, and their boyfriends were too scared of Leroy to stop him; until he kissed a girl named Doris and her husband beat Leroy to a pulp.
- Jim was a pool hustler who also intimidated everyone by being very large. When he hustles a country boy nicknamed "Slim", Slim tracks down Jim, and the song becomes "You Don't Mess Around with Slim".
Myths & Religion
- Older Than Feudalism: This happened to Odysseus a few times in The Odyssey.
- Theseus basically started his heroic career by dealing with a series of robbers on his way to Athens.
- Contrast with Oedipus, who was much the same, only it was people who cut him off in traffic instead of robbers.
- In Roman mythology, the son of the Etruscan king of Rome took it into his head to rape a respectable Roman woman. Rome soon became a republic.
- Greek Mythology:
- Hm, who is this impossibly beautiful woman surrounded by several almost as beautiful women, in the middle of the forest, bathing? Oh who cares, let's peep on them some more. It's not like they're an impossibly powerful goddess and her followers who could turn me into a stag and set my own hounds on me because she's incredibly protective of her chastity....
- Dionysus was seized by pirates, who took him for a young nobleman and planned to either ransom him or sell him as a slave. However, one of the crewmen recognized him as a god and begged his companions to set him free. Unfortunately for them, they refused to listen and soon found their oars bound by ivy and themselves attacked by panthers and lions. To save themselves, they jumped out of the ship and were changed into dolphins. The only one spared was Acoetes, the one man who argued for freeing Dionysus. When they got back to shore, Acoetes become one of Dionysus' priests.
- The unkillable bronze giant Talos had the habit of throwing rocks at all ships coming close to Crete, as he couldn't tell seafarers from invaders. Then one day he started his act with the Argos... And the witch Medea, that was on board with her husband Jason and his Argonauts, killed him with a look (either by hypnotizing him so he'd pull the pin keeping his Ichor in or causing him so much pain he pulled the pin and killed himself rather than getting looked at anymore).
- Geirrod, a Norse robber-king, nearly rode down a lone wanderer on the road to his castle. When the same wanderer came to the castle asking for food and drink, Geirrod allowed him entry as per custom, but demanded he sing for his supper; displeased by the traveler's song lambasting cruel leaders and thieves, he ordered the man burned to death. Unfortunately for Geirrod, Odin the All-Father is fireproof, and very unforgiving of false hospitality: he turned the bandit-king and his vassals into wild beasts, and raised Geirrod's good-hearted brother to the throne.
- A little forgivable if some conditions are present in Exalted. There are a few charms that allow the characters to keep their weapons and armor Elsewhere, and as a result bandits might not discover that the short, blonde, small-framed teenaged girl they are trying to mug/capture to sell as a slave/etc., is actually a Demi-God wielding a six feet giant golden sword capable of completely eradicating them (and the floor they are standing on) until it's too late. That said, any Exalt ought to be able to warn off most moderately sensible muggers simply by flaring their Caste Mark. Jury is still out as to whether or not it's more satisfying than simply beating the stuffing out of them.
- Also can happen in Old World of Darkness.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, most Garou look like normal human beings while in homid form and normal wolves is lupus form; however, an attacker will get a nasty surprise when their would-be victim transforms into an eight-foot-tall clawed killing machine. Variants of this apply to all fera save perhaps the Kitsune (werefoxes) who find it more effective to just start tossing spells.
- In Spiritual Successor Werewolf: The Forsaken this is significantly more inevitable due to shifting being significantly less voluntary. After a drop or two on the morality meter, a simple insult can be enough to turn a player character into a spree murdering rage beast without the player having any control over the scene.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade it's very satisfying to, after your Ventrue businessman has been stopped in transit by robbers with shotguns, take their blast in the chest, get up without any visible effect and rip them into shreds. This is noted to be one of the main reasons why Ventrue take Fortitude.note
- This is bound to happen in the New World of Darkness games: it's a Crapsack World with half a dozen flavours of human-looking supernatural. Special mention goes to the Prometheans: soulless reanimated corpses, trying to learn how to be human, but who are inhumanly powerful and spread a Hate Plague against themselves wherever they go. Most of their alchemical Refinements require prolonged study; the inevitable Dragon-bullying they face is why any Promethean can instantly adopt the Refinement of Tin and say to hell with you all.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, most Garou look like normal human beings while in homid form and normal wolves is lupus form; however, an attacker will get a nasty surprise when their would-be victim transforms into an eight-foot-tall clawed killing machine. Variants of this apply to all fera save perhaps the Kitsune (werefoxes) who find it more effective to just start tossing spells.
- Considering how ultra-antagonistic gangs are in-universe, random encounters for new players is pretty much all about this. The Halloweeners are this trope invoked for even the squishiest of mage or decker.
- Subverted in Kaloon's Walled City. The place is so vicious that literal monsters like Insect Spirits actually do get successfully mugged if they make the mistake of going there.
- Dungeons & Dragons
''If you accost a barefoot laborer digging in the mud of a turnip field and stained glass golems suddenly lurch out of nearby sheds or the columns of a barn come to life, and gemstones float out of the man's pockets to circle his head and spit lightning at you — well, you've found one of those fabled jewelers of Irl...
- Metallic dragons intentionally invoke this trope. One of their favorite tricks in combating evil is to use their Shapeshifting ability (many metallics have this upon birth) to turn into something that seems weak. When some evil idiot takes the bait, they don't have very long to live. It's actually a part of their mythology: one story involves an apparently harmless old man who would entertain travelers with his seven trained canaries. Then a band of ogres, led by an ogre mage, started down the road to kill or rob all the folks on it... and found that the old man was the metallic dragon god Bahamut, and those canaries were all great wyrm gold dragons in disguise.
- Al-Qadim has a tale about "why dragons so rarely appear over the place". A big red from North flew in only to immediately get himself into troubles with the local populace. Until he was reduced to telling his woes to the next creature he met. The "child" heard the story, gently told the dragon those people did in fact go easy on him because he doesn't know better and there's folk whom they obey without question — and helped the poor battered, hungry and tired lizard, returning him to the sweet home. On an intercontinental guided whirlwind. The moral, of course, is "try not to annoy genies, or just in case, anyone."
- Forgotten Realms. On top of "usual" dangers (such as archmages going about their private business in magical disguise or creatures that would send townpeople into screaming run if they didn't resort to mimicry) has people well aware of their world's trends and holding a lot of power while not caring at all to advertise it.
- There's also a possibility of Urban Encounters with Muggers all being 4 to 6 levels below the party.
- The 4th edition of GURPS Magic introduces the chapter on fire magic with a story about a wizard in a modern setting having a knife put on her throat in a mugging. Unfortunately for the mugger, she can breathe fire.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- In the RPG Dark Heresy, this is actually the PCs' job. And it has the expected results until you figure out that flipping off a Daemon is a Bad Plan and maybe you should try shooting the guy that just summoned it in the head. From over there. Waaay over there.
- A more human example, the fluff sometimes makes notes of many former Imperial Guardsmen settling down on planets they conquered. This led to some robbers finding out the hard way that a bar called The 127th is named after a certain platoon, that the grumpy old men are veterans of battles against unimaginable horrors and that the lasgun above the bar is not a replica.
- In Traveller Vargr hardly ever raid Zhodani. The reason why is that when they do they know that the Zhodani will take years tracking down the perps. Then when they do this their retribution, will be sure, whether it takes the form of Death from Above or the more frightening form of kidnapping Vargr and brainwashing them.
- In any of the Star Wars RPGs, a Jedi can look like anything. Keep that in mind when the off-world stranger you're harassing in a bar says, "You REALLY don't want to do this." It only gets more fun if the hapless dopes tick off a disguised Sith instead.
- In the world of In Nomine, an angel or demon's abilities remain the same regardless of what their earthly Vessel happens to look like — which means that 9-year-old girl on the playground you just tried to abduct could actually be a 700-year-old Malakite warrior angel who considers you practice. At best. This becomes even more so with Kyriotates and Shedim, who possess ordinary mortals, using their celestial abilities through a host. So that 90-year-old grandpa who really WAS so sweet and helpless five minutes ago is now anything but when a Shedite of Death is in the driver's seat...
- In Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, the sailor Richard Dauntless introduces himself with a song about how his own ship (a revenue sloop) attacks what they think is a French merchantman, but turns out to be a frigate (i.e., a warship far better armed than a sloop) with some accurate gunners on board. In charming rhyme he explains how their captain decides to spare the poor Frenchies by running away very, very fast.
- Speaking of pirates, as late as 1630 there were two recorded villages in England that had the skin of a captured raider nailed to their church door. At least one of those villages wouldn't actually count as this trope since a few years ago someone decided to run some tests on a fragment that had survived around one of the nail and found that it was actually de-haired calf skin. It was probably nailed to the door and the rumour spread around as a form of psychological warfare against potential raiders.
- There is also a famous story under Aikikai (practitioners of Aikido) that one of Osensei's original students was nearly robbed in the Paris subway... emphasis on the "nearly." Imagine a seventy-something year old Japanese sitting alone in the subway, when three would-be muggers showed up with knives, demanding his money. Then imagine the old frail man simply snapping their wrists in precise, efficent motions.
- The U.S. military holds very large areas of desert in the southwest that are used for training exercises. The areas are bigger than they really need, so some parts are used rarely. Meth labs sometimes move in. And fight small-scale gang wars. Until they accidentally fire on real soldiers, and then they learn about things like indirect mortar fire, and air support.
- Ever wonder why you so seldom hear about Russian diplomats being kidnapped? According to tales it is because when that happens, the Russians simply abduct terrorists and or their relations-and start mailing fingers to the terrorists who claim responsibility. You do not want to mess with Mother Russia. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.
- One story that's made the rounds on the internet is as follows; a group of Ku Klux Klansmen in Texas heard that some Pagans were holding a ritual out in the woods somewhere and decided to go and harass them. Finding the spot where the other vehicles were parked, they donned their hoods, assembled a cross and strode off into the woods, confident that they'd scare any remaining pants off the fluffybunny Pagans. To their surprise they ended up staring down the business end of at least two spears, a couple of swords, assorted knives, and more than one firearm. They'd crashed an Asatru note blot, and didn't realize that not all Pagans are pacifists. From somewhere behind the hardware, a voice called out: "If that cross goes up, you're getting nailed to it. I've got my hammer note right here..."
The Klansmen left in a bit of a hurry, it's said.
- The Ku Klux Klan ended up at the receiving end of something much more unexpected in 1933, when they tried to run Italian immigrants out of from Vineland (New Jersey). Until then, Italian immigrants in the US had taken discrimination and lynching with little resistance, because they were outnumbered by a too much large margin. This time, however, the Klan took on 20% of Vineland's population, and the Italians ran the Klan out. The Klan's influence in Vineland disappeared overnight.
- When the Klan went to Robeson County, NC, and tried conclusion with the Lumbee Indians' tribal lacrosse team something similar happened. In most of the languages of the Eastern Woodlands tribes, the word for lacrosse translates as 'younger brother of war.'
- This story is presumably the pacifist equivalent — using legal knowledge instead of fighting prowess.
- There is a story popular in the SCA about a female member who was walking home from an event in Central Park in the 1980s. She hadn't taken off her armor, just wrapped a cloak around herself and put her helmet in her bag. She was accosted by a disreputable sort wielding a switchblade and making threats. She said "A six-inch knife?", opened her cloak and drew her sword. "I'll see your six and raise you thirty-five."
- Another SCA story; A group wanted to hold fight practice with functional replica weaponry. This required a few permits and a change of venue from their regular park. There was one available, but the police warned them that the local motorcycle gang considered it their turf and may not take too kindly to strangers. Seeing no other options, the SCA risked it. Sure enough, the motorcycle club showed up and started hassling the re-creationists. Seems that the battle pikes and other implements that were useful for removing mounted knights from their horses worked just as well for taking riders off their hogs.
- An obsessive stalker (the genders change with every telling) sets their sights on a target they're supposedly in love with. They ignore every warning they receive, work tirelessly around every obstacle, be it well meaning friend or family member, police officer trying to do their job, even rumors about the object of their affection. All the while the stalker dreams of taking them and torturing them all out of love of course. Then, after overcoming everything in their way, the stalker finally has the one they desire most alone and in front of them. Then, something goes wrong. Instead of being afraid, the victim is smiling. As it turns out, s/he's an even worse monster than the stalker and by getting them alone, the stalker has ensure that no one will be able to hear him/her scream. The stalker is never seen again.
- Tsukihime: Nvrnsqr Chaos believes Shiki Tohno to be an ordinary high school age boy with a knife, and torments him a bit, finding pleasure in the kid pathetically struggling against the inevitable before he eats him. What Nvrnsqr doesn't know is that Shiki is probably the only person on the planet who can bypass his regeneration mechanism, and is thus among the few capable of killing him. Which is exactly what Shiki proceeds to do.
- In Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! S, a poor robber tries to hold up a restaurant. Who's currently in the restaurant? Among others, Momoyo, Tsubame, Yoshitsune, Benkei, Shakaido, Tesshin, Lu, Hume & Claudio. Basically, all the absolutely strongest fighters in the game. Oh, and the girl he took hostage, Seiso, just sent him flying out the door with a light shove too. Poor bastard then gets run over by her robot bike.
- ASDF Movie 4, to the mugger's confusion.
- RWBY: In the very first episode, some thugs are robbing a store that main character Ruby Rose just happens to be in. When one of them brings her attention away from her headphones and magazine by trying to get her to put her hands up, she responds by throwing the offending man across the room and attacking the entire group.
- In the prologue for a One Minute Melee, Dio Brand, the loser of a previous melee, tries to suck the blood of the first person to get near his beaten body. Unfortunately for him, that first person is none other than Kenshiro, who counters The World and dropkicks Dio out of the scene.
- In the Whateley Universe, this happens from time to time:
- A mugger tries to rob Jade and Jinn. They knock him unconscious, destroy his gun, and steal his wallet.
- A pair of stick-up artists bump into Chou "Bladedancer" Lee while attempting to rob a diner.
- During a stop-off in NYC, a third-rate punk of a 'hero' is silly enough to call Jadis "She-Beast" Diabolik a "little skank". She throws him in the East River. From four blocks away.
- In Darwin's Soldiers, some punks tried to pick a fight with Aimee. She looks completely harmless as she is missing both arms and has them replaced with prosthetic limbs. They found out the hard way (IE death) that not only is she a skilled fighter, her artificial arms give her enough strength to crush the barrel of a pistol with almost no effort.
- The trio of bullies that torment Taylor in Worm would probably reconsider what they're doing if they knew that she was secretly a supervillain with a reputation for ruthlessness. Well, two of them would.
- In Dead West, this sometimes happens. Nice examples include a bunch of thugs attacking a group of arictocrat doctors-in-training on a charity night (they were making rounds in the worst part of Paris, treating everyone who needed their services). Most of the group were harmless enough, but on that particular night the Porcelain Doctor, a Hungarian amateur, and a firegun enthusiast engineer student decided to tag along (and the former two had bodyguards nearby). The incident ended with the "Soft" members of the team patching up their attackers, but we never get a full recount of the action. Usually some idiots try to harrass the Porcelain Doctor, since he is a bit effeminate, and doesn't look really menancing (he is very short for an arictocrat, but average for a commoner, and has a very slim build). The wanna-be-muggers sometimes are able to get off with a warning, but several times it ends badly for them, as Niall has a pretty short fuse, and he is armed with a swordcane and Psychic Powers.
- In the French MP3 saga Reflets d'Acide, a bunch of thieves attempt to ambush a beautiful young woman on the road. The woman turns out to actually be the Evil Black Dragon Alia-Aenor in human form, who mercilessly kills them.
- In the first chapter of Ra, four muggers attempt to kill Laura Ferno, a drunk but very talented mage. Only about two and a half of them survive.
- During the Oingo and Boingo mini-arc of Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Oingo kicks Broly in the face because something about Broly's face ticked him off. Unfortunately, this bites Oingo in the ass as Broly plans on killing Oingo and Boingo.
- Not Always Right:
“Well, I’m HIS superior, and as soon as I’m out of here, I’ll make sure he lights your a** up.”
- Rude customers periodically find out that the employees they are harassing are not to be messed with.
- Still others apply for jobs and then discover that the employee they were rude to earlier is from human resources... or the manager.
- A naval lieutenant decides to throw his weight around in a civilian restaurant and makes the mistake of antagonizing another diner... who happens to be a Rear Admiral stationed at the same base.