UGO report: Then, Tatsu allegedly stomped across the kitchen and proceeded to open up a can on Sheamus, with some reports even characterizing the beating as bad enough to elicit tears from the future WWE Champion.
Drake Oz: Let this be a lesson to you, folks: Size doesn't matter... unless you want to get pushed in the WWE.In works of fiction, it is generally assumed that characters with big muscles must be strong. In most media, this compels creators to depict strong characters as with hulking muscular builds, often disregarding what kind of build people in any given activity would be likely to have, for fear not doing so would risk forcing the audience out of the story. This frequently carries the opposite meaning as well: small characters are usually elusive, quiet, agile, stealthy and quick, while large characters being such will not be believable. In Professional Wrestling, this is taken to extremes. Few fans will accept a smaller or average sized wrestler as a main event contender without years of development, whereas larger wrestlers may be advanced to the main event scene almost immediately after debuting. Fans and promoters alike also tend to gravitate toward men with large biceps and pectorals over triceps and the core body because the former look better on camera, even though the latter are more useful for wrestling. Related to Bishounen Line. Polar opposite of Muscles Are Meaningless and Rogue Elephant. The Giant will always be portrayed this way, even if they're mostly fat.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Kasumi Gyoubu from Basilisk is by far the most muscular character in the series, and he's capable of breaking necks with his bare hands... and we're not talking about the basic neck twist, but a one hand grab n' crush!
- Three Words: Alex Louis Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist. Save for the homunculus Sloth, (who also fits this trope, being the manga equivalent of a passive Hulk), he's easily the tallest and most muscular "normal" human in the cast. He's able to take punches from, and lift up the aforementioned homunculus, tank his head getting slammed through concrete, (which for the record, broke the wall!), and dish the punishment right back out.
- Other examples are Izumi's husband Sig, whose equally sized, only a little portly (basically, Alex looks like a bodybuilder while Sig looks like an Olympic weightlifter), and the Iron Blood Alchemist, Basque Grand.
- In Soul Eater, Crona and Ragnarok get noticabely stronger the bigger Ragnarok gets. In fact, from the time they first appear, Ragnarok's soul is already bigger in perimeter than Crona's height, and by the second battle they have with Maka, Ragnarok's soul is now almost the size of a two story house. When Ragnarok's soul is cleansed, he and Crona re about as strong as Maka, showing that their strength has lowered greatly.
- In Berserk, you can have a reasonable idea of where characters sit on the strength scale by their bulk, with Pippin at one end and Casca on the other. Guts, being a Lightning Bruiser, is very tall and muscular, but is still smaller than many of the other characters. Although said other characters are actual DEMONS...
- In Eyeshield 21, you can pretty much rate physical strength of a player by seeing their bulk. Their effectiveness, in other hand.... Played straight with Gaou whose muscles and size pretty much translate to: must bench over 150 kg to have a chance against him.
- Most martial artists in Fist of the North Star are rather muscular, even ones like Rei who are supposed to look rather feminine. Bigger, often giant-like guys abound among the bad guys, though their strength and power avail them nothing against Kenshiro, who is very, very capable of making their heads a splode.
- One Piece ironically tends to play this trope straight with the weaker characters. If a character is muscular, it is a good sign that he is not entirely without fighting ability, and big, muscular Mooks tend to somewhat stronger than the small, lean ones. But when it comes to the really badass characters, Muscles Are Meaningless (some are very muscular, some are slightly muscular, some are scrawny).
- In Tokyo Ghoul, the formerly scrawny Kaneki gets a shirtless scene in chapter 88, revealing just how built his training to become stronger so he can protect everyone has made him.
- In Tiger Mask the size of a wrestler's muscles is a good indication of his physical strength. Then again, skills matter too, and physically weaker wrestlers defeat stronger ones just as often as they themselves are defeated by them.
- Dragon Ball Z: Zigzagged with Nappa. He's big and buff, and easily wipes the floor with most of the Z-Fighters... but at the same time, Goku and Vegeta, both of whom are considerably smaller, both manage to beat him, though neither do so effortlessly; Goku had to resort to using a recently gained power-up to defeat him, and struggled fighting him beforehand, whereas Vegeta took advantage of his weakened state by killing him.
- The same thing happens in the next saga with Recoome, who dominates Vegeta, Krillin, and Gohan effortlessly, then gets KO'd be a single elbow from Goku.
- The Asterisk War: Lester Mcphail is probably the one packing the most muscle, when he wear's his grey shirt and he shows off the bottom portion of his abs.
- My Hero Academia: Has quite a few. Namely Bakugou, Tenya, All-Might, Tensei and Eijiro from the Hero side; along with Muscular and Chizome on the villain side.
- Characters in Hunter × Hunter usually exhibit this trope as long as they have some significance.
- The (physically) strongest Phantom Troupe member, Uvogin, is a perfect example of The Brute, being 8 feet 6 inches tall and weighing f
- One of Gon and Killua's teachers, Biscuit Kreuger, is actually a humongous hunk who disguises herself as a little girl because it hides her true strength, and because it's cute. She's actually really strong because she's extremely muscular, and just hides that.
- Female example in Thou Shalt Not Die with Mashiro. While she doesn't look all that impressive normally, during a fight, her muscles will expand significantly thanks to her body enhancement powers making her role as a frontline brawler very clear. In fact, whenever she uses her powers, her skin will temporarily turn transparent allowing for a much clearer view of her muscles swelling and tensing to put further emphasis on this.
- This trope is almost the entire plot for the Hulk, as any character's superpower can be easily identified by which body part is the largest (The Leader, the Abomination, etc.) In the movie, the Hulk himself would also get larger as he got angrier/stronger. Sometimes (but in no way consistently) depicted this way in the comics as well.
- The "strong" villains are always large and muscular (e.g. the Rhino) while the villains who have other powers are slimmer (e.g. the Chameleon.)
- Carnage subverts this trend; he is at least as strong as Venom if not stronger (and thus stronger than Spider-Man) but is actually smaller and less muscular than Peter Parker without his symbiote.
- Venom himself is an aversion; he's much larger and muscular than Spider-Man, but also somewhat faster, more agile, sneakier due to his use of the symbiote's camouflage, and just about the only Spider-villain who could reliably catch Peter by surprise (being immune to the Spider-Sense helps a lot in that regard). Stealth and psychological intimidation were Venom's favored tactics, even when his size and strength gave him an advantage in fights.
- The "strong" villains are always large and muscular (e.g. the Rhino) while the villains who have other powers are slimmer (e.g. the Chameleon.)
- The Kingpin is a subversion. Inexplicably stronger than Spider-Man (sometimes), but when Spidey makes a fat joke he finds out the hard way that Kingpin is also a Lightning Bruiser with almost no fat.
- Bane, Clayface, Solomon Grundy, and other "melee" villains who were larger than Batman.
- Batman is an especially obvious example of this trope. In comics where he had to fight, he was drawn larger than average (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). In comics where he used his detective skills, he was drawn slimmer and less muscular (The Brave and the Bold).
- In films, Batman traditionally wore a padded Bat-suit, but appeared slim as Bruce Wayne.
- Superman's villains who fought with him were drawn larger (e.g. Doomsday, Darkseid, Mongul, etc.) However, the villains that outsmarted him were drawn smaller, e.g. Mr. Mxyzptlk, Luthor, etc.
- A Rare Female Example—fourteen-year-old Jedi Padawan Scout, in Dark Rendezvous, is Weak, but Skilled. Lacking a strong connection to the Force, she has been training for years to build muscle, along with developing other skills so that she is not kicked out of the Jedi Temple, and is noted as being physically stronger than the other Jedi apprentices.
- Thriller author Lee Child has almost always depicted his protagonist, Jack Reacher, as being the biggest man in the book. This is consistent with Reacher's nearly-effortless thrashing of anyone dumb enough to ignore this trope, although some of his combat prowess does come from skill and experience.
- Feruchemists in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy get bigger muscles when they tap strength, to the point where one protagonist breifly ends up about nine feet tall and built like a bear.
- And PlayedWith in the case of Allomancers, who do not gain extra muscles to go with their magical Super-Strength. While this means that a skinny 5-foot-nothing girl can out-wrestle a 250-lb brute if she's burning pewter and he isn't, the burly man will still be that much stronger than the skinny girl if both are burning pewter.
- Ser Gregor "The Mountain that Rides" Clegane is by far the biggest, and most muscular character in A Song of Ice and Fire. He's also the uncontested World's Strongest Man. Generally, the physically strongest characters will also be large, muscular men (Or women, in the case of Brienne).
- Both teams and fans of The Amazing Race fully believe this trope, no matter how many times the show subverts it or deconstructs it. At the beginning of each season it's the biggest and strongest teams that are generally the most feared by the other teams, and who are usually picked to win by the fans. Though justified in the first four seasons, where physical strength was only challenged by those with travel knowledge, in later seasons it's much more likely for an "Alpha Male" team to eliminate themselves with a stupid mistake than to dominate a season.
- Derek & Drew serve as an excellent deconstruction of this concept on the Race during Season 3. On the tails of fit male teams winning the first two seasons, many of the teams became immediately obsessed with beating the "wonder twins", despite Derek & Drew viewing themselves as barely hanging on for the first few legs. At the same time, Ken & Gerard talked about how no one was giving them any thought because of their pudgier physiques, and Teri & Ian were outright disregarded as fodder. While Derek & Drew did end up being formidable opponents, so did Ken & Gerard and Teri & Ian, who both edged out Derek & Drew to make it to the Final 3. The twins lost not because they got beat in some head-to-head competition, but simply because they couldn't find a clue.
- Season 5 winner Chip was a huge proponent of this trope, especially when writing for the "Return of the Racers" blog for CBS.com. He constantly talked about how "alpha male" teams had a unfair advantage over all other teams, and how he and his wife never would have had a shot against one of these teams (even though they did beat the arguably stronger team of Colin & Christie). When he made a list of the strongest individual racers, the top 11 spots all went to men, with the top female racer being a physical trainer.
- Survivor has a similar situation. In the early stages when tribes compete for team immunity, women and older players often get targeted due to perceived weakness; and when it shifts to an individual competition then the young fit guys become the targets due to being perceived as threats in immunity challenges. Like in The Amazing Race, physical strength usually doesn't affect challenge success as much as some people think it does, and the social game is more of a factor overall.
- Survivor: One World has a good example of the perception vs. the reality of this. Matt, an alpha male, picked out some other alpha males to work with and believed they ran the tribe; at one point describing them as "roosters" leading the "chickens" around. Then the tribe actually had to go to Tribal Council; and it was pointed out to him that there were five "chickens" and only four "roosters". Goodbye, Matt.
- In Professional Wrestling, "large" wrestlers (275 lbs or more) are usually given squash matches and power finishing moves. Smaller (200 lbs or less) are usually in matches that demonstrate acrobatic or high-flying moves. Some "large" wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and Mike Awesome were actively discouraged by agents from using more elaborate forms of offense and technique because it was deemed fans would not buy wrestlers their size acting that way. Specifically, ECW personalities such as Joey Styles would often mock Hulk Hogan's lack of finesse, negatively contrasting him to Awesome only to see Awesome suffer the same problem in larger promotions(read, WCW)
- This does not go back an especially long while on the wrestling time table either. In the late 1880s when it was decided to crown a heavyweight champion for all of America, few had trouble taking Evan Lewis as credible, even though 5'9 180lbs was not especially large even then. Given the timeline, its debatable if all or any of his matches were even staged, which kind of strengthens the point. Before Lewis, an actual small man, the 5'5 140 lbs Joe Acton, was considered national champion material.
- The first World Heavyweight Champion was the 5'9 230 lbs Estonian George Hackenschmidt, which would still be considered kinda largish but short by today, but he was defeated by (depending on which promotions you find more credible) the the 6'0 200 lbs Ibrahim Hergeleci or the 6'0 200 Frank Gotch. For a while, the world champions were getting smaller (and faster, and increasing in stamina). Ed Lewis may have been the first exceptionally large World Champion at 265 lbs though it wouldn't really be until 1960 that "super heavyweights" became really visible on the world stage.
- All Japan Pro Wrestling had the reputation for picking the bulkiest, tallest and or heaviest wrestler it could find and then sending him up against the next biggest wrestler it could find, which shouldn't be too surprising when Giant Baba was the standard, with the smaller wrestlers on the roster not getting much of any notice until the success of Tiger Mask and The Great Muta caused them to Follow the Leader. And even then AJPW initially put the mask on the much larger Mitsuharu Misawa when it bought the Tiger Mask gimmick.
- Since the end of the territorial era, the only women generally allowed to compete against men were the female bodybuilders who were equal to them in size. Chyna is by far the most famous, having won a male singles championship in her career (and was even rumored to be booked to win the company's world championship at one time), but see also: Nicole Bass, Midnight, Asya. During the territory days, smaller woman such as Mildred Burke or Jacqueline would be allowed to face select male opponents as women's champion in order to give a women's division some credibility. Sable did a watered down version of this (power bombing Marc Mero) around the same time as Chyna and actually engaged in a public debate with her, arguing she should be taken as seriously as Chyna despite not being as large.
- With the advent of the light heavyweight division of the WCW and WWF during the Monday Night Wars, smaller wrestlers doing power moves became more common, and larger wrestlers doing acrobatic moves like the kip-up were also common.
- ECW averted this often, and even squeezed in a series of subversions with the "Little Spike Dudley: Giant Killer" gimmick, where the 150-pound-soaking-wet Spike would somehow, after having been beaten half-to-death by men 3 times his size, and with commentator Joey Styles begging for the ref to stop the match, find a way to prevail in the end.
- Inverted by Hydra of CHIKARA, who must weigh 150 pounds, but is treated by announcers and other wrestlers as a behemoth.
- While some suggested Shuhei Taniguchi was spared the Butt Monkey treatment rookies from Pro Wrestling NOAH usually get for his accomplishments as an amateur wrestler(competing in the All Japan Championships), more cynical critics suggested they named him The Ace of his class because he was a heavyweight.
- In Professional Wrestling, this is taken to extremes, as few fans will accept a smaller (Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero) or average sized wrestler (Bret Hart, AJ Styles, Shawn Michaels, even "Stone Cold" Steve Austin himself) as a main event contender without years of development. Whereas larger wrestlers (Kane, Brock Lesnar, The Great Khali) may be advanced to the main event scene almost immediately after debuting. This is particularly noticeable in WWE, where 1) the promotion has access to much larger wrestlers than smaller promotions, and 2) the CEO Vince McMahon as well as WWE Executive Producer Kevin Dunn, don't like smaller wrestlers and are reluctant to push them. Nowhere is this mentality more apparent than in the career of The Giant (Paul "The Big Show" Wight, who had his pro wrestling debut (not just his first televised match, but his first match ever) in the main event of a WCW Pay-Per-View for the world championship — and won!
- Other good examples are Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio in decending order. Sheamus first appeared on TV as a (supposed) jobber before plowing through on his way to being a monster heel.
- In Rey Mysterio's case, even after years of being a fan favorite and firmly establishing himself as a skilled ring worker, his run as World Heavyweight Champion had him always treated the underdog against his larger, more muscular challengers. This booking seems to have been specifically designed to make it harder for fans to take him seriously as champion.
- This trope appears to be on it's way to becoming discredited in recent years. Smart Mark fans tend to prefer smaller, more athletic wrestlers who perform lots of technical and high-flying moves and will often pre-judge any large wrestler (anyone above 6 ft and weighs more than 230 pounds) as untalented and only being pushed because of Vince McMahon's hard-on for big men. Ever since Triple H gained more control within WWE, they have been pushing more and more smaller wrestlers. CM Punk (6 ft., 218 lbs and not very defined) got his much overdue main event push in 2011. Daniel Bryan (5'8" and 180 pounds) became massively over to the point where WWE had to either give him the World title or endure a fan riot. Seth Rollins (6' and 218 pounds) made a Face–Heel Turn and became WWE's top heel from 2014-2015. The aforementioned AJ Styles made his WWE debut in January 2016. He went straight to the main roster, skipping NXT entirely, his first match was in the Royal Rumble and he was participating in main event feuds with both Roman Reigns and John Cena within 3 months of his debut. Also, Finn Balor (5'11 and 190 pounds) who is the inaugural WWE Universal Champion. This extends to "fat" wrestlers as well, who generally do not get any significant pushes unless they are tall in addition to being fat. Kevin Owens, after making his main roster debut, got a clean win over John Cena in his first match, became one of WWE's top upper midcarders, and eventually became a top heel upon winning WWE Raw's Universal Championship. Samoa Joe also got to keep his name, and has been pushed as a total badass in NXT, even getting an NXT championship run. So, in short, while muscle men tend to get the biggest pushes, there is still room for small, average or overweight wrestlers to get their spot on top, even if it's a brief one.
- This is also the case in women's wrestling but it did not undergo the same size escalation men's wrestling did in the 1980s. In fact the WWF, largely responsible for the inflating size of male wrestlers (180 lbs to 220 lbs as heavyweight "minimum"), did the opposite with women (where 130 lbs was considered heavyweight minimum), pushing a slew of "short" wrestlers such as Ivory, Jacqueline, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly and Mickie James as serious champions along with "slim" wrestlers such as LayCool and Alicia Fox. If the only wrestling one watched was WWF/E from 1999-2006 then why Melina Perez was declared "too small" when trying to break into the business would be incomprehensible. By the time she made it to the WWE everyone was used to seeing "divas" her size. Looking back at headliners of the previous WWF women's division, Madusa, Bull Nakano, Bertha Faye, Luna Vachon, Aja Kong would give one an idea though. Even Lita, Jazz and Victoria would have been in the "small" to "average" range then.
- "The Glamazon" Beth Phoenix competed in the Royal Rumble, even eliminating The Great Khali. She and Natalya Neidhart also formed a tag team at one time called "The Divas of Doom" whose gimmick focused on being more able ring-workers than the "Barbies" who lacked their musculature. Unfortunately, they were regarded by fans to be the only women in the company who could wrestle. Now the company was relying on a slew of rookies at this point, having lost every woman previously listed except Alicia Fox and Layla but their dismissal (along with Eve Torres and the Bella Twins) by fans illustrates the trope's pervasiveness even after WWE had spent decades defying it. There was backlash against "small" wrestlers after the diva search though and Beth's designated opponent, recent graduate from jobberdome Kelly Kelly, was still not taken seriously by critics-this trope was not the only factor.
- Averted in 2013/2014 as AJ Lee became the longest reigning Divas Champion at the time and was the most popular woman on the roster. She is 5'2 and weighs 99 lbs, 115 on a heavy day. That's less than Hornswoggle!
- This is less of a thing in Mexico, where a more intricate system of weight classes enforced by the same athletic commission that oversees boxing makes it easier for small even by non athlete standard wrestlers to find work and possibly get themselves over. After the dojos in Japan refused to train Jushin Thunder Liger because of his size, he made his way to Mexico. The crowds tend to have an easier time excepting "small" wrestlers going over "large" foes too, such as the 5'8 Eddie Guerrero and 5'6 El Hijo Del Santo being runaway successes or the 200 lbs Maximo Sexy being CMLL's World Heavyweight Champion when larger men such as Ultimo Guerrero were holding belts with lower maximum limits that the 214 lbs minimum Maximo's belt was supposed to have.. It is not completely averted though, as the largest member of Los Gringos Locos, Art Barr, far out shined his contemporaries at first. (Though given the fact they represented foreign vice, that may have been by design.)
- Women wrestlers also stayed around the same size in Mexico well into the 2000s if the 167cm 77 kg Tsunami, who is much larger than the average woman, claims of being pegged "small" hold any merit, though she's still treated as a power wrestler. As with the men, fans tend to buy the victories of wrestlers even when they're really tiny, 155 cm Princesa Sugeith being one of the most successful rudas of her time.
- While American wrestling has the reputation for jacking up its rosters, the NWA wrestlers have mostly remained around the same sizes across the board from the 1940s to 2010s. This is of course because WCW and the WWF became the trend setters while the NWA was reduced to a niche market.
- The aforementioned Vince McMahon's interest in muscled men has extended beyond the squared circle as he invested in a bodybuilding competition called the "World Bodybuilding Federation" for a brief period in the early 90s. It was meant as a competitor to the more noteworthy International Federation of Bodybuilders but it only lasted two years, as he quickly learned that the reason people are attracted to professional wrestling isn't necessarily the physique of the talent but the talent itself. Still, it's earned its place in history as the reinforcement of his entire philosophy. In a bit of irony one of the promotions that relies on this trope the least, CMLL, proved more successful at promoting fitness and body building(though they never had aspirations of leading the international field).
- The constitution system in the Fire Emblem series especially Fire Emblem Thracia. The constitution system is how much you character weighs and is able to pick up another unit (either by force on enemy units, or slinging allied units over your shoulder). Pretty much the only characters who have high constitution stats and growth are really muscular guys, big armored men, and mounted units. Skinny wiry Bishonens and especially thin girls will pretty much never get a point in constitution when leveling up unless the player is really lucky. Even Marty, a muscular brigand who is virtually useless in everything can make use of his muscles with an extremely high base constitution stat and constitution growth.
- Resident Evil:
- From 5 onward, Chris Redfield has bulked up considerably and it shows. He's able to send enemies flying with one punch, as well as lift up and bodily throw them with ease. Also, during his brief face-off with Leon Kennedy in 6, it's clear that he has the advantage in terms of physical strength.
- Also applies to Helena in 6: as of that game she is the most muscular female character in the franchise, and her melee attacks are primarily focused on punching and lifting her enemies, as opposed to almost all the other Resident Evil ladies who rely on kicks.
- This has little to do with offense, but in the BlazBlue series, muscles do a pretty good job of hinting at a character's defensive potential. Tager is built like a brick shithouse, and he has the highest HP and defensive ability in the game. Azrael is another beefcake who can take plenty of punishment, and even Bang with his manly muscles is in fourth for highest HP capacity. The oddity amongst this group is Hakumen, who ties with Azrael.
- Fable: Investing points in Strength leads to your character getting more and more visibly muscular.
- Wario possesses very impressive biceps, and he's one of the most powerful characters in the series.
- Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda is a huge, hulking, muscular man and one of the strongest characters in the series, but is also a bit on the slow side. Super Smash Bros. exaggerates this by making him a Mighty Glacier played completely straight.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Terra is the buffest character out of the Power Trio of himself, Ventus, and Aqua; fittingly, in-game, he's the most powerful in terms of damage-dealing.
- Zangief of Street Fighter fame is probably the Trope Codifier in tournament fighter video games, looming over his fellow cast members with muscles bulging everywhere and slow but powerful attacks. He can canonically breaks katana with his pecs.
- Hitman: Absolution: Sanchez is a defective super soldier experiment after the treatment gave him gigantism, he can't blend in the crowd and is easy target in a gunfight but the muscles he gained alone is enough to make him a great bodyguard and is one of the few who take down agent 47.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. Of the main characters, Commander Badass is obviously the strongest and has the largest muscles. (Unless you count Jared's Gyarodos.) On the other hand, the weakest of them, Jared, has no muscles at all. Much to his dismay.
- In Satin Steele, Janet's a professional bodybuilder, and her strength is depicted to come from her physique, contrary to how bodybuilders may not be very strong in Real Life (see the analysis here).