A commercial for Safe Auto Insurance has this: Three toughs cut in front of the little old lady. Big Scary Black Man sneers, "You got a problem?" and Granny answers him (and his buddies) by letting them Talk to the Fist! Hilarity and ass-kicking ensues as Granny gives them a full-blown assbeating before she kicks them out of the store.
Sister Yolanda (seen above) from Black Lagoon. In the Greenback Jane arc, she walks in to see her church being attacked... and what does she do? Calmly takes out a gold-plated Desert Eagle and blows up a car in one shot. While holding the gun with one hand. Wow.
Also Sentarô's grandma/the matriarch of the Daimonji Clan, grandmistress of Martial Arts Tea Ceremony and very handy with a napkin.
Genkai from YuYu Hakusho. She wins half a round of the Dark Tournament pretty much single-handedly... after giving most of her power to Yusuke.
Later in the series, she takes under her wing six C-class fighters (Chuu, Rinku, Jin, Touya, Shishiwakamaru, and Suzuki) and in months, trains them into upper A-class fighters. To put into perspective, even Rinku, the youngest of the group, is magnitudes more powerful than Younger Toguro, an earlier Big Bad. And her star pupil, Yusuke? Her training pushed Yusuke to the power level required to resurrect himself as an S-class demon. Much like Roshi, Genkai breeds badass in spades.
Chiyo is a tiny, wrinkled old woman likely in her early 70s who retired from active duty after serving in several wars. A specialist in poisons and combat puppets, she helped Sakura defeat her grandson, Sasori, and his army of super-powered puppets.
Megabaa of Dennou Coil is the most capable hacker in the entire town of Daikoku, head of the Coil Detective Agency and more than capable of taking on any sort of digital anomaly single-handedly (at least, until her back gives out). Oh, and she shoots lasers.
Vice-Admiral Tsuru of proves herself more than capable of dishing out punishment, despite her epithet being "Strategist".
There's also Dr. Kureha who doesn't hesitate to further injure her patients if they don't listen to her treatment plans. 139 years old and still going strong.
Young. She is 139 years young. Refer to any way she might be old and she will hurt you.
Oryou Sonozaki of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is shown to be a very, VERY scary old granny (whom is even called Oni-Baba [Demon Granny] by her granddaughters!). Not only does she sit in watch as her granddaughter has her fingernails ripped off, she encourages the punishment. At one point she even threatens to kill Keiichi Maebara with a katana and dump his body in the family well. She gets what is coming to her though, when she is killed during during an interrogation in Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen.
Apparently, "I Was Quite a Looker" can apply too, as seen in one of the anime-only omakes. And if you can make her like you, you've got one hell of an ally as shown in the second-to-last arc when Keiichi manages to win her favor and get her and the entire village to help rescue Satoko from her uncle. And when the official at the DCF equivalent threatens to call in her son-in-law to kick everybody out...well, let's just say he doesn't actually know the man. Too bad that wasn't the good world Rika and Hanyuu were looking for.
Grandma Hina from Love Hina is known as the Demon of Hinata. No-one ever questions her orders. Not Action Girl Motoko, not rebellious Kitsune, nor Genki Girl Su — no-one. Keitaro's place at the Inn is secured by her word alone, even when the She-Woman Man-Hater's Club early on can't stand him. Even at the end, when it is learned by Naru and Keitaro that she may have majorly set them up, it is just accepted without even mental comment.
Elda Marker from Karin, or Chibi Vampire. Grandmother of the main character Karin, she is approximately a 250 year old vampire. Physically, she is still a young adult, possibly even an older teenager, despite the fact that she's had one kid before named Henry, the father of Karin. To make things even more awkward, she is a near identical twin of Karin, her own granddaughter. She has an eagerness to fight and attitude befitting a teenager, which is somewhat appropriate. Still this makes things weird with her son Henry, who looks far older then she does. She is a perfect badass, fighting with insane physical strength and skill even among vampires, she is even said to be the most powerful vampire in all of Japan. While indoors, she sometimes wears clothes befitting her matriarch status, but when she travels outside she sometimes wears a simple black shirt, shorts and sneakers, usually when she wants to kick someone's ass.
Yohko's grandmother Madoka from Devil Hunter Yohko is a prime example of a Badass Grandma!
Fern Corrado, the superintendent of the Fourth Ground Forces Academy in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS manga prequel, looks like someone's doting grandmother (in uniform)... cue the flashback of her wiping the floor with both Nanoha and Fate (both triple-A mages who previously duked it out with Eldritch Abominations like nobody's business) in their first sparring. It is later revealed that before she was promoted, Corrado was an ace of the same elite training regiment that Nanoha worked hard to get into.
Setsuno can easily make Your Head A Splode, and has no trouble laying waste to tons of baddies even though she's over a hundred years old. Heaven help you if you actually manage to piss her off.
Chiyo's knife skills are so precise she will carve out your insides, leaving your shadow a skeleton even though you'll look fine otherwise.
BT's grandma, from Magic Boy BT. What she lacks in physical shape (she doesn't leave the house often), she makes up in Magnificent Bastardry. For example, she delibelately left around the pamphlet for a dinosaur exhibit in a mall, knowing that her own grandson will see it and go steal a dinosaur skull for his collection... and distract the guards, so that another thief can search for the proof of a smuggling ring.
May Parker from Spider-Man is actually Peter's aunt, but she's old enough to be his grandmother, and on at least one occasion has scared the bejeezus out of a villain who was after Petey.
In her Ultimate incarnation, after Jameson fired Peter, she had a chat◊ with him on the phone. Jameson's response to Peter was basically, "You can have your job back, and please never make me talk to your aunt again."
She also drugged the Chameleon◊ after seeing through his disguise of Peter, making that two women of the Parker family◊ who've abused him.
And in another storyline, when the Vulture broke into their house and threatened them with a gun, after Peter managed to disarm him of it (trying hard not to show his full strength and give his identity away) she picked the weapon up and pointed it at the criminal, and ordered him to leave.
Among the ranks of the New Gods, one Granny Goodness is not a woman to be trifled with. She may look like an old lady, but she's been training soldiers for Darkseid at her "orphanages" for who knows how long, and is stronger, faster and tougher than any normal human. At one point◊ she blocked gun fire from an automatic weapon at point blank range by spinning her weapon.
There is a comic of Tales from the Crypt in which a con man romances a young woman who he believes is heiress to a fortune, only to find out she was trailer trash and dumps her. He discovers that he died in his sleep and the girl's grandmother had cursed him so that he remains alive after dying, but in a zombie-like state with all of post-death symptoms. So while he goes to find the grandmother to have the curse removed, the con man puts up with liver spots, loss of muscle control, loss of bladder control, rigor mortis, and flesh decomposition. When he reaches the grandmother's house, she catches him in a bear trap and reveals that she did all of it for revenge as her granddaughter committed suicide out of grief while pregnant. The story wraps up with the grandmother (and the rest of the family) forcing the con man to marry the girl, who is now a zombie herself.
The title character's grandmother in Bamse. She normally only stands in the sidelines, cooking up the thing that makes Bamse strong... but when he's otherwise incapacitated, she enters the fray herself. Awesomeness always ensues.
From Lucky Luke, Ma Dalton can certainly be scarier than her four desperado sons. She was a fearsome bandit herself and still carries a loaded gun in her handbag.
Luke even says after his duel that it was the only time he was ever afraid.
Fables: Frau Totenkinder is a kindly old lady, always knitting and smiling. She's also one of the oldest and mightiest witches on earth, and has been sacrificing babies to grow her power since the Stone Age.
In The Piranha Club, Enos mother-in-law is a frail little old lady... who just happens to have superpowers such as invulnerability and superhuman strength along with a really mean personality. She swept the floor with Mike Tyson once.
In Promethea, the protagonist's predecessor is somewhere between failing at this trope and failing at averting it. She never wanted to be a hero in the first place.
W.I.T.C.H. has Yan Lin. Yan Lin is the grandmother of one of the current Guardians, a Guardian herself, and tough enough to survive practicing Free Climbing in the void. Plus someone had to teach Hay Lin how to kick out a Capoeira practitioner much bigger than herself, and her parents don't look exactly like martial artists...
Also, Nerissa... Well, she not only used to be a Guardian alongside Yan Lin before going crazy, but her getting free caused an immediate Oh Crap in Kandrakar. Then she stole a copy of the Guardians' power and became really dangerous.
Kadma, having been a Guardian alongside Nerissa and Yan Lin, is implied to be one, but never showed it.
Futari Wa Pretty Cure Blue Moon has a number of examples. The Quirky Miniboss Squad has Mireyes, whose age and main ability (fortune telling) throw people's expectations off when she turns out to be very dangerous, her ability translating into Combat Clairvoyance. Tachimany also has the ability to turn into three old women. On the good side of things, the Elder of the Garden of Days has done a lot more in the brief page-time she's gotten than her canon (and male) counterparts ever did.
The Powers Of Harmony: Granny Smith was apparently quite the fighter in her younger years, and hasn't lost her touch, judging by the part she plays in the first fight with Eclipse.
Getting Back on Your Hooves has Helena Midsummer, Trixie's grandmother. Hurting Trixie in front of her is not a good idea as Checker's chauffeurs found out the hard way, ending up hanging upside down from a tree tied up in their own harness. According to Word of God, she's also a Master of Illusion thanks to spending most of her life learning theater magic (her special talent).
Wandering Moon: Archmage Clover the Clever. Even when she’s well into her 80s the mare manages to go on field missions with only her daughter as backup. Her most memorable example was a raid against Xanthos’s Manehatten warhouse where she takes on not only a brigade of guards but also an Ursa Major single hoofedly. Even though she died in the attempt she still sent it packing with its tail between its legs.
In Child Of The Storm, Frigga is more implied to be this than anything else, being a lovely, motherly lady who nonetheless has a will of solid adamantium. She's also the one who taught Loki most of what he knows about magic.
Films — Animation
In the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, the fairy grandmothers are very old and very round. But with their powers of flight and offensive spellcasting, they actually get more action that the prince.
Sophie isn't actually an old woman, but she spends the vast majority of Howl's Moving Castle as one, and even goes by Granny. As a ninety-ish-year-old woman, she flies an open-air plane, talks back to a powerful sorcerer, saves Howl's bacon, and much else. And even though she's got a big nose and wrinkles all over, she's still pretty and badass.
Nana, the old woman from Madagascar. She only has a couple of scenes in the first movie, where she kicks Alex in the crotch while shouting "Bad kitty!" She proved so popular that she gets a bigger part in the Spin-Off short Christmas Caper, and on the sequel Escape 2 Africa displays serious skills as a survivalist.
Although she is short, old, and her hands shake, the nanny from The Thief and the Cobbler is probably the most formidable good guy in the movie. As seen by the part, left in most cuts, where she restrains the thief from stealing her golden-yellow bananas... with a pair of huge, muscular arms... and then beats him like an old carpet.
Hoodwinked: With all this Matrix dancing, haz-mat fun and "Granny wins by a landslide!", literally.
Granny is also a champion cage wrestler, amongst other things.
Mable Simmons. Better known as Madea. If she reaches for her purse, the best thing for you to do is... RUN.
The Mist has one of these, a little old schoolteacher who stops one of the crazy fundamentalist's rants by conking her on the head with a thrown can of peas (and asserting that there are plenty more where that came from), and not only goes along on the expedition out into the eponymous mist but kills one of the mist's monstrous bugs with a flamethrower improvised from a can of hair spray and a lighter. The character's pretty tough in the original Stephen King novella as well.
Antonia in Antonia's Line decides to deal with the man who raped her granddaughter her own way — so she heads to the local tavern with a shotgun. When she gets there, she decides instead to put a curse on him instead of killing him (which apparently works). Whether you think he got off easy or not it was definitely a badass grandma moment when she has him on his knees terrified.
The old lady with whom Max and Jess stay in the middle part of Mad Max. She threatens the Toecutter's biker gang with a pretty hefty gun (by real life standards, not More Dakka), and they listen.
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot featuring Sly Stallone as a cop who is troubled by his pistol-packing elderly mother. The film was universally reviled.
The Penguin from The Blues Brothers. Maybe a little young, but she fits the badass by whipping the piss out of Jake and Elwood.
Zombieland. Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker, winner of the Zombie Kill of the Week, who walks quietly away from a zombie so she can drop a fucking piano on him! This is her only appearance in the film and she has absolutely no connection to the rest of the plot or characters... but does she need to?
Every Which Way But Loose: When the Black Widows motorcycle gang try leaning on Ma, she blows up their bikes with a shotgun, then walks off complaining about Clint Eastwood leaving a helpless old lady alone with no-one to protect her.
In the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, Evelyn (who, although not particularly old, is certainly middle-aged) is looking for a parking space and spots someone coming out. She waits for the space to be vacant, but as soon as it is, two Jerkass teenaged girls swoop in and steal it. They laugh at her, saying, "Face it, lady, we're younger and faster!" Evelyn retaliates by ramming their car with hers, extensively damaging both of them (and it's clear that the car Evelyn is driving can take a lot more punishment). The girls freak out, and she laughs in their faces. "Face it, girls, I'm older and I have more insurance!"
Sipsey won't let anyone take her beloved Ruth's kid. Frank Bennet gets that lesson drummed into his head so hard he doesn't survive.
The Big Mommas House series embodies this trope. Sure, its a guy disguised as a elderly woman, but the real Big Momma showed herself to be one of these in her own right.
In The Birth of a Nation, we have an overweight elderly housekeeper leap into action and save her employer, knocking down at least one ruffian and two soldiers in the process. Interesting for a white supremacist racist work, the heroine is black and the man she's saving is white.
Helen Mirren's character in Red. She's a sweet British lady (although not quite that old) who's in the flowering business. She's also an ex-spy who keeps a submachinegun under the flowers and is a crackshot with a sniper rifle. Of course, the entire movie is about retired spies showing they can still outdo the younger generation.
Nemesis: a little old lady is harassed by one of the cyborg assassins searching for the protagonist. When he walks away, she pulls out a large pistol out of her purse and shoots him in the back several times, and then shoots him half a dozen times more when he's down for good measure.
Old woman: Fucking cyborgs. Streets aren't safe anymore. Can't even go to the market without meeting some punk...
Subverted in Captain America: The First Avenger by the little old lady who runs the antique shop which is a front for the Super Soldier development facility. When the Hydra spy runs out, she grabs a machine gun... and he promptly shoots her dead. Worth a try.
Neville's grandmother Augusta Longbottom in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. A couple of Death Eater-controlled ministry thugs came to take her to try and threaten Neville into behaving himself at school. Her grandson put it best: "Dawlish is still in St. Mungo's and Gran's on the run." And she still showed up for the final battle.
Professor Minerva McGonagall, who Rowling describes as a 'sprightly' 70-year-old. She holds her own against Death Eaters during the final battle, whether she's fighting them in person or bringing statues to life to attack them. She also lived through being hit with four Stunning Spells to the chest, which is apparently quite a feat for someone in her seventies.
Molly Weasley may be a bit too young to qualify, but her oldest son is nearly thirty when she takes down Bellatrix so she's probably pretty close.
In Daniel Pennac's novel La Fée Carabine, a group of old ladies had been taught to use guns, which is somewhat unusual in Paris. And then there were the "accidents"...
In the first of the Stephanie Plum books, Grandma's response to being kidnapped (and having her own and her granddaughter's life threatened) involves bullets. Quite a few bullets. She doesn't actually shoot anyone (her aim isn't the greatest), but starts a fire that burns down the funeral home (she apparently didn't know that the crates stacked along the walls contained ammunition, explosives, etc., or if she knew, she didn't care).
Granma Plum was based on a real person that author Janet Evanovich met while researching bounty hunters. She was still skip-tracing in her seventies.
Any witch that fits the Mother or... other one slot. Granny Weatherwax isn't a grandmother from the technical viewpoint of not having children of her own, but she's still the little old lady known as Granny by a good deal of the main characters, and She Will Take You Down. Her name in Trollish — that's the thumping great creatures made of rock — is "She Who Must Be Avoided". Her name in Dwarfish — as in short people who shove rock all day and carry battle axes on principle — is "Go Round the Other Side of the Mountain". Nanny Ogg is a grandmother, and has a face like an old apple and a pleasantly sunny personality, but also enough pure magical power to make anyone sit up and pay attention.
Nanny Ogg is not afraid of Granny Weatherwax. That should be a hint.
Miss Treason isn't either. Granny is Mistress Weatherwax to other people and witches who have not earned the right to call her Granny yet. Miss Treason refers to her as "the girl Weatherwax". Possibly because she's 113 years old.
Mrs. Cake. Even the Post Office (who are only scared of the worst things) are scared of her.
In Reaper Man, Hughnon Ridcully, the Chief Priest of Blind Io, attempts to describe to his brother Mustrum what she represents to the clerical community in Wizardly terms:
Hughnon: You have...ghastly Things from the Dungeon Dimensions and things, yes? Terrible hazards of your ungodly profession?
Hughnon: We have someone called Mrs Cake.
Later in the same book, Mrs Cake goes for a walk to deliver information about the uncanny events going on to Mustrum. She occasionally pauses or inexplicably steps aside, and terrible things happen where she would have been had she not done so. (This what that means for anyone who tries to lay an unwelcome hand on her.)
Near the end of the book, Death raids one of Offler's more remote temples to steal the largest diamond in existence. As he's about to break through the last defenses before the innermost shrine, the priests there scream in horror: "Mrs Cake!"
And no one wants to mess with the Agony Aunts, who protect the seamstresses of Ankh-Morpork. They took Vimes down with absolutely no trouble, and he's fought werewolves with his bare hands.
Granny Aching, despite being dead before Tiffany's stories begin, was the best shepherd on the Chalk and had the respect of all her neighbors. And might have been the greatest witch ever in terms of keeping it low-key and getting others to solve their own problems. When Tiffany described her to the aforementioned Granny Weatherwax, the latter expressed admiration.
Vena the Raven-Haired in The Last Hero is basically the Distaff Counterpart to Cohen the Barbarian and his Badass Grandpa gang. When a gang of brigands attack her without wondering why an old lady would be knitting on a dangerous mountain (and wearing leather armour), she dispatches all of them with the needles.
Good Omens: The title inspiring Agnes Nutter from The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, who knew she was going to be burned at the stake, packed her skirts with gunpowder and roofing nails (and pretty much controlled the plot of the whole book from a few hundred years ago).
Mother Summer and Mother Winter, one of whom casually makes an enchantment that can break any spell, and Harry notes they could both destroy him with a stray thought.
Mama Murphy, matriarch of the large and sprawling Murphy clan. She has yet to get any combat Crowning Moment Of Awesome, but this is the woman who raised Karrin Murphy, and is content to let her daughter think that she is protecting her by not telling her about what SI is dealing with. She knows exactly what they deal with and what her daughter goes through every day, and is perfectly matter of fact about the issue of her husband committing suicide due to the stresses of his job.
Charity Carpenter is getting into this age bracket about now, and is very Bad Ass.
Ancient Mai. She scares the shit out of Harry and senior wardens carry her umbrella.
Martha Liberty as well, as both are on the Senior council, the oldest and most powerful wizards. She even lives with the descendents of her original family.
Anastasia Luccio, despite the fact that she (literally) currently has the body of a 25 year old and has lost most of her power, Harry, who has faced Fallen Angels and Physical Gods without hesitation, would not want to mess with her.
Lartessa, the second most powerful of the Denarians, and over 2000 years old, and her second, Rosanna, who has even the Knights of the Cross semi fooled about her 'good girl in a bad situation' act. Harry is not fooled, but that's because he had Lasciel in his head for several years. Neither is a Cool Old Lady.
Animorphs had an old lady in "The Diversion" who actually gets dubbed Granny-Controller. She keeps shooting at the group and flies a helicopter after them, finally crashing with it. Although in that case it wasn't really her but the Yeerk controlling her that was responsible.
Mother Superior Mary Francis in James Byron Huggins' novel Cain. Frail, aged nun vs. demon-possessed assassin/cyborg/vampire??
Cain: Holy water, Mother? MSMF: No. Gasoline.
Somewhat later, she goes out with a literal bang, taking out an army of minions with a bandolier of grenades. (No, she's not the protagonist.)
In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, after Adrian's grandma learns he's being tormented by local bully Barry Kent, she goes out, returning a little while later with the money Barry took from Adrian, and assurances that he won't be bothering Adrian again. Next day, Adrian writes, "It is all over school that a seventy-six-year-old woman frightened Barry Kent and his dad into giving back my menaces money," although precise details of what happened are never given.
Queenie is mentioned as deliberately invoking this by taking Sabre, the vicious Alsatian belonging to Bert with her whenever she went out. According to Adrian, no-one ever dared to hassle the sweet old lady accompanied by an enormous, snarling dog.
Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax, wife of the late Virgil Pollifax. Prim, kind, innocuous, charming, genteel badass. And yes, she would manage to avoid any asterisks in that without violating the "prim and genteel" clause. Joined the CIA when she was already a grandmother because she felt that she had outlived her usefulness. Promptly proved herself astonishingly practical and resourceful. Incidentally she was unleashed upon the world in 1966.
Grandma Dowdell from Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. She lives by herself in a sleepy Illinois town, always manages to have enough to eat during the Depression, and engages in a number of fantastic escapades that leave her grandchildren (who grew up in Chicago) stunned. She owns a Winchester rifle which once belonged to her husband and is not afraid to use it, keeps a large snake in her attic to eat mice, and once expressed a desire to see the alleged body of a Chicago mobster who was killed and put on display. And lord help any idiot who tries to get the best of her. When some brothers blow up her mailbox, she tricks them into breaking into her house then throws a cherry bomb at them and holds them down with the Winchester Rifle, finishing it off by getting their milkman father to beat them after pretending they put a dead mouse in her milk. When the principal's son tries to vandalize her house on Halloween, she waits in the shed and trips him with wire before throwing a pan of hot glue at his head. She then takes the knife that he dropped and uses it to cut him a slice of pie at the school's Halloween party, adding insult to injury (the kid was still pretty much bald from the glue attack). Upon learning what his son did, the principal just said "Boy, you picked the wrong house".
The War Against the Chtorr. Willig, a member of The Squad in "A Season for Slaughter". She actually enjoys the war, as she's given more responsibility and respect than ever before.
If you got between her and the result she was committed to, you'd discover the single most deadliest human being on the planet was a ninja grandmother.
In Kurt Saxon's non-fiction book Wheels of Rage, the Iron Cross motorcycle gang decide to punish an initiate who's been using them as a cover for committing burglaries (without even sharing the proceeds). They decide to use a psychotic relative whose temper and ferocity is feared even by the outlaw bikers. They encourage him to burgle the business where she's working as a cleaning lady, "And if you see an old lady up there, just knock her out of the way." It ends with the police turning up to rescue the terrified burglar, whom she's beaten up and thrown down an elevator shaft.
Evelyn from the Nadia Stafford books by Kelley Armstrong is a retired hitwoman, who entertains herself by mentoring new contract killers and brokering information. Her idea of testing a newcomer is to abandon her in a parking lot with the man trying to kill her. And then a mafioso takes a contract out on the little old lady, and she demonstrates that "retired" does not mean "unable to kill quickly and ruthlessly".
A Thread of Grace: Lidia Leoni is not going to leave her home just because the Nazis say so. She not only manages to save a young child from stepping on an unexploded bomb, but she also blows up a prison so that she could break out her son and the local rabbi who've been instrumental in taking care of the Jewish refugees.
Stephen King has done this trope a few times. Take a minor example from Cell, where at one point the main character observes multiple zombies, most of them young, or big, or strong, fighting. The winner is a little gray haired woman who looks like she was a librarian before the world went to hell. The protagonist is unsurprised by this, and observes that those types of little old ladies are often as tough as leather.
As Claire Fraser's grandson said of her in one of the later Outlander novels, "Grannie shot the bad man."
Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters trilogy features Madeleine, the elderly mindcaster who sold out her fellow midnighters for popularity, then hid in a crepuscular contortion for decades to stay away from the darklings and create a whole new generation of midnighters to back up natural-born Seer Rex. By manipulating the vulnerable minds of women in labour. And that's when she had relatively good intentions. You don't want to know what Madeleine will do to you if you get on her bad side.
The Lies of Locke Lamora has Dona Vorchenza, an elderly noblewoman with no heirs and a penchant as acting as a sort of "foster mother" for various other noblewomen, calling them up to midnight tea to discuss their issues. She's also the Spider, head of Duke Nicovante's secret police force, who often uses these midnight teas as a way of both keeping up on noble doings and finding possible violators of the Secret Peace between the nobles and the criminal element.
Pearl Bright in Jane Lindskold's Breaking the Wall trilogy. When your first on-page action in one of the books is beheading an attacker who took you completely by surprise, you are this trope.
In Maria Semyonova's book series The Wolfhound, we learn that it was an old lady known as Mother Kendarat who has taught the protagonist (big, badassbarbarian warrior) his martial arts prowess. A few years later the hero regularly beats seven kinds of shit out of his numerous opponents, and still Mother Kendarat can wipe the floor with him. This series also has an old Norse lady, grandmother of another prominent character, who had spent 20 years on a cold barren desert of an island alone, then, when 70 badassVikings came to her island, she took leadership over them and sailed away to the other side of the world to find her lost grandson.
Edie Bannister in the present day chapters of Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker is basically James Bond if James Bond was an eighty year old chapstick lesbian, taking out three would be assassins with ease. Her martial arts teacher in the flashback chapters qualifies too.
Joen of Jokona has an exceptionally powerful demon under her thumb, and through it controls a bunch of other demons via magical leashes.
Dowager Royina Ista, on the other hand, is a saint of the Bastard, and has the gift of being able to eat demons to send them back to the Bastard's Hell.
From A Song of Ice and Fire we have the formidable, Cool Old Lady who deals in Deadpan Snarkery and Brutal Honesty as often as others breathe: Lady Olenna Redwyne-Tyrell aka "The Queen of Thorns". Friendly warning: don't mess with her or members of her family... or even look as if you're about to mess with them, as she's distinctly unafraid to get her hands dirty pruning you down to size no matter your connections and apparent safety. Isn't that right, King Joffrey?
In World War Z, a nun defends her entire Sunday classroom from zombies for nine days using a candlestick that is taller than her. She then joins the Army.
Stand back Superman, Iceman, Spider-Man. Batman and Robin too. Don't wanna cause a ruckus, but B.A. Baracus, have I got a match for you. She makes them look like a bunch of fairies. She's got more bottle than United Dairies. Hang about — Look out! For Super Gran.
Edith Bunker from All in the Family. One episode in particular: alone at home, she is about to be raped when smoke starts coming out of her kitchen. She gets away from the rapist to go take her baking out of the oven... and shoves the burning hot cake into the would-be rapists face (and the audience goes absolutely wild cheering her).
Maddie "Mama Bear" Westen in Burn Notice. She manages to successfully interrogate a terrorist into near-pants-wetting fear when Sam and Fi couldn't break him, hides weaponry in her house, and successfully stalls and distracts a pair of government agents in order to help Michael escape, fully aware that they'll arrest her once they inevitably figure out she's protecting him. When the normal standard of badass is made by ex-spies and bounty hunters and you're still considered badass, you deserve to be on this page.
Gemma in Sons of Anarchy. She only recently became a grandmother but she definitely fits.
V: The old Jewish lady in a wheelchair... with an Ingram MAC-10 under her blanket.
T'Pau in the original Star Trek series, thanks to Celia Lovsky's amazing presence.
Caprica: Grandma Ruth, Bill Adama's grandma. Initially she just appears as a Tauron traditionalist who wants her grandson to know the family roots and having a (somewhat justified) dislike towards Graystones. Then you see her Ha'la'tha tattoos just as she is talking about "blood for blood" and you just know that she killed people. She's also somewhat terrifying. She claims that the dead never truly rest until they're avenged, for example. There's a reason that Joseph initially believed her when she said "Tauron children play jacks with the fingerbones of children who lose at jacks." Made explicit in episode 17. Meat cleaver to the back, and she's a retired hitman.
1000 Ways to Die. A mugger attempts to steal an old lady's purse, but the old lady turns out to be a black belt in tae kwon do. A Curb-Stomp Battle ensues that ends when the would-be mugger has his throat crushed via karate chop.
Chuck has Mrs Winterbottom who when her home is invaded by mercenaries, fires her double-barrel shotgun at them and then proceeds to take a machine gun she has hidden in her coffee table and fire it from her living room window. When she is out of ammo, she 'scuttles' her house using C4, a handgranade and her knitting supplies. Supreme Badass Casey is perfectly happy to just follow her lead and reload for her.
And she got on grandma's bad side just by saying she must have been quite a looker. Troy hated and feared the woman and tried to warn Britta.
Professor June Bauer in Anthropology 101 seems like a kindly old anthropology teacher - until you give an answer she doesn't like for the first project. Then she shoots at you, knocks you down, and strangles you with a prehistoric superweapon, even if you're Joel McHale (two heads taller than her and ripped). She showed signs of this earlier, as well, when Starburns makes a sexist remark - turns out the starburns make great targets for a blowgun.
Company Boss Jang Sook Ja, who basically kicks her daughter-in-law and grandchildren out into the real world, allowing only room, board, and $10 a day for them to live on in the Korean DramaShining Inheritance.
In MacGyver season fives Christmas episode, "The Madonna", an elderly bag lady whom Mac and Peter Thornton are helping turns out to be not only a fount of wisdom, but also turns around a troubled youth by hustling him at pool.
Hetty Lange. Just...Hetty. Whole communities of intelligence agencies out there are both in awe of her and terrified of her - and with reason, because she can Out Gambit anyone she pleases and out-shoot them at the same time.
On NCIS, Joann Fielding, Gibb's former mother-in-law, is one not to be trifled with. When she could not locate the drug cartel leader who killed her daughter and granddaughter, she spent years looking for the next best person. She found the Navy captain who had been on the cartel payroll. She charmed him and set up his murder with the evidence implicating his protege and fellow dirty officer in the murder.
Quantum Leap featured once had Sam leap into the body of Dr. Ruth and kick the ass of a man that that was taking advantage of his employee. Even better since we get to see the ass kicking in a mirror's reflection we see it as Dr. Ruth performing a pile driver on the creep. Considering the real Dr. Ruth's history (look in the Real Life section below) we can see why they chose her.
Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Hunter and Blake's grandmother was stated to have put up one heck of a fight against her kidnappers before she was taken down.
Red Riding Hood's Granny in Once Upon a Time. Her Establishing Character Moment in the Fairy-tale world? Keeping vigil at her door with a crossbow loaded and cocked. Then you find out the truth about the wolf she was the Big Bad Wolf at one point, and passed the lycanthropy to her daughter and granddaughter. She and Red also join Snow White in a daring raid on King George's castle to rescue Prince Charming, and Granny takes down a few guards.
Technically, Snow White and Regina are Older than They Look, being Henry's grandma and great-step-grandma.
In Game of Thrones, the aforementioned Olenna Tyrell gets a lot more screentime than her book counterpart, which by all counts is a good thing since she's played by Diana Rigg. Apart from what she does in the books, she's also shown to be one of the few who can claim to be an equal to TywinLannister and makes this quite clear to him to his face.
In Orange Is The New Black, most of the inmates of the medium-security facility are in for non-violent or less serious crimes... except some older women who have been transferred out of maximum security to serve out the remainder of their life sentences. They are not to be fucked with.
How 'bout I kill the bitch?
Mrs. S. from Orphan Black carries a double-barreled shotgun in case anyone lays a hand in her foster children or granddaughter. She's also a brilliant chessmaster with ties to many cutthroat conspiracies.
The Manau song "Faut pas faire chier Mémé" ("Do not piss Granny off"). Unusual in that Granny is not sympathetic; she goes on a killing rampage just because someone resisted her bullying.
"The Little Old Lady from Pasadena"
A snippet from Stan Freberg's "Tele-vee-shun" has Grandma accosting a burglar, and "she throw him on the floor although she's ninety years old." Turns out she picked some moves watching wrestling matches on TV.
In Norse Mythology, Thor once faced Elli, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Old Age, who was in the form of an elderly nursemaid, in a wrestling match. He puts up a good fight, but loses. Elli cannot be defeated because not even the Gods are immune to old age.
In Mafia, "Granny" is shorthand for a role that kills anyone who visits them for any reason. If this also prevents the action from working, it makes her impossible to nightkill.
The end-of-game match sequence for the Judge Dredd pinball has a shotgun-welding granny firing back at a gang of drive-by shooters.
This is also the premise of Bally's Granny and the Gators, who apparently challenges alligators and hostile jungle natives for fun. The tagline for this machine is even, "Are you spunky enough to keep up with Granny!?!"
The Fabulous Moolah won her first Women's World Championship in 1959, which was recognized as the NWA Women's World Title in 1964. Her seventh, and final, Women's World Title reign, with the WWE, was in October of 1999, 40 years after her first championship, when she was 76 years old.
Mae Young, whose wrestling career began in the early 1940s, is actively involved in WWE as of 2008, having competed in several matches since reappearing in the WWE in 1999. Among her exploits, she was powerbombed off the stage through a table by Buh Buh Ray Dudley, appearing the next week on the program none the worse for wear.
A funny note is that before the show, Bubba was hesitant to actually go through with the stunt, so Mae started smacking him around and demanding he put her through the table "like a man." You see that he went through with it...
Then gave Bubba's hand a quick squeeze to let him know she wasn't hurt.
In the mid 2000's wrestler Shelton Benjamin was given an on screen mother simply named "Momma Benjamin", portrayed on screen by comedian and actress Thea Vidale. She would interfere and challenge other wrestlers on her son's behalf. The character was written out when Vidle had a medical condition and could not continue performing the role.
During the late 1990's wrestling boom, a TV special "Exposing the secrets" of pro-wrestling was produced and shown on NBC networks. In the show, they explain how crowd plants work by showing a character they named "Stunt Granny", an older woman.
Legend has it that in the heyday of British wrestling, this trope applied to some audience members when they got ticked off with some of the wrestlers.
Peggy Woolley from BBC Radio 4's The Archers might count. She has a scene where, confronting her son, Brian Aldridge, over his extra-marital affair with Sioban, she tells him "I ought to have you horse-whipped". She's more of a quiet badass really, as the fact she looked after her Alzheimer's-ridden husband for many years, over the protests of her family that she wasn't capable.
Erin Tarn of the Rifts role-playing series. She's in her 60s and is the Coalition State's Public Enemy #1, simply because she spreads knowledge. She's one of the few people in that world that is known around the world (and across dimensions) to be both respected and feared.
Difficult, but possible in Dungeons & Dragons, where being in the Venerable age category gives you -6 to all physical abilities and +3 to all mental abilities. This can be an attractive prospect to Min-Maxing players of mentally-oriented characters, or there are workarounds that grant the bonuses but not the penalties. Never Mess with Granny if she's a Kobold, a Monk, a Druid, or any other form of high-level spellcaster.
Warhammer Fantasy has Morathi, the Hag Queen. She is over five thousand years old, maintains her attractiveness through regular blood sacrifices, seduced the first Phoenix King, masterminded her son's attempt on the Phoenix Throne that led to the great schism in the Elven people, and is a capable warrior and a powerful sorceress. Who beat up a Daemon Prince that shredded her entire bodyguard and tried to capture her because he was jealous of her beauty. Also Ms. Fanservice, a wielder of Black Magic, and one of the setting's foremost Big Bads.
Warhammer 40K: If a Sister of Battle survives long enough, she pretty much becomes this. Granted, they don't often have kids, but.
A more recent (and tournament legal!) example from the new Dark Ascension set is the kindly old Lambholt Elder. The flavor text says it all:
"Be wary of the seemingly gentle souls. The weak here were slaughtered long ago."
Malifaux has Abuela Ortega, matriarch to a Badass Family of monster hunters. She's a tiny old lady who carries a shotgun so big it knocks her off her feet when she fires it. This shotgun has overseen more than one wedding. Her other in-game abilities include shutting down spellcasters ("Wash you mouth out!"), preventing enemies from engaging in combat ("Play nice!") and forcing enemies to obey her commands. These abilities are just as effective against monsters formed by nightmares as against normal humans.
in Max Payne 2, the eponymous protagonist is assaulted in his tenement house. His elderly neighbour blasts one of the assassins through her front entrance with a shotgun, and then gladly gives Payne her other one. Plus some ammo.
Big Mama, also known as EVA, from Metal Gear Solid 4. In her seventies, and she's still doing things on a motorbike that people half her age wouldn't dare attempt without Plot Armor. Look what it takes to KILL her!
Fellow matriarch Aethyta is no commando, but she's had a thousand years to learn how to fight dirty. It's implied that when she was a bartender at Eternity she doubled as the bouncer, and in one of the Shadow Broker's video files she's seen headbutting a Krogan.
Matriarch Benezia is no slouch herself. Said to be a powerful biotic even by asari standards, she is very much That One Boss when Shepard has to fight her. This explains a lot about Benezia and Aethyta's daughter.
In Mega Man Battle Network 4, when two members of the Mafia try to beat up the old leader and take over, the screen goes dark, there are some sounds of fighting, and when the screen lights up again, the two Mafia members are K.O.'d.
This was actually a parody and a shout-out to Akuma/Gouki's Shun Goku Satsu because when the screen goes dark the Ashura Warp sound effect plays, then when when it lights up again it plays the sound usually heard when you KO someone with the move in Street Fighter.
Referenced in Kingdom of Loathing: A little old lady is part of a list of scary tough guys. The game points out that any little old lady who's so calm in such a rough neighborhood is someone you really don't want to mess with.
In Final Fantasy X-2, you encounter a trio of old NPC women in Zanarkand who claim to be a Sphere Hunter team named the "Grannies". Regarding the monsters in Zanarkand, one of the Grannies quips "I've coughed up scarier things." Another says she was a guardian.
Gaia Online's Agatha, while bereft of grandchildren, probably counts, considering the cutscene in zOMG! where she talks about the Animated as though they're more nuisance than they are danger to life and limb. Olivia, also not quite a granny yet, might count if only for the fact that she eats her own cooking.
Ocassionally the citizens that usually are only there to be killed brutally in the Grand Theft Auto series retaliate against the protagonist. Ocassionally said citizen will just happen be a crippled old lady that will proceed to take you off her car and try to kick your ass.
Wynne is a very kind old lady who appoints herself the position of Team Mom to the party. She is also an extremely formidable mage who can be given the Arcane Warrior specialization later on, turning her into a devastating Magic Knight at the cost of her normal role of being the premiere healer. In the novel Asunder, set seven years after the Blight, Wynne holds the honorary title of "archmage", which means that she is pretty much up there with the First Enchanters in terms of magical power (and it shows) but not interested in politics.
On the Evil side: Flemeth is the legendary Witch of the Wilds and is more a mythical being than she is an old lady. She can also transform herself into a Dragon in an Bonus Boss battle if the player chooses to help save Morrigan from being potentially Body Snatched from her, and even then she'll survive that with hardly any problems.
The Judge Dredd pinball game, of all places. Mega-City One is a crime-riddled hellhole, and to illustrate this, the display shows an animation of a little old lady knitting on her porch when a car drives by and the wall behind her is riddled with bullets. What does she do? Flips off her lap-blanket, whips out Old Painless and returns fire.
The Super Granny franchise. Not only does Granny plonk her enemies with frying pans and run at super speed, she loves to sing Michael Jackson's "Bad" as she does.
Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II. It doesn't exactly come as a shock to discover that under that she used to be a Sith, and hasn't exactly "seen the error of her ways".... That's putting it mildly — she all but slaps the player-character upside the head if they didn't think she was playing them all along.
Mrs. Crumplebottom from the first two Sims games. She is a mean old lady who does not approve of public displays of affection. Kissing in public will invoke the unpredictable wrath of her ginormous handbag, unless you have the foresight to distract her with frothy mugs of fruit juice, or take your date to a bowling alley.
It's been suggested on a modder forum that made mods for the Pirates of the Caribbean game, that carrying cash should increase the chance that a player gets attacked on the streets, which in turn would lead to a big fight involving muggers, pirates, guards, and old ladies with broomsticks, who don't want to miss the fun. How serious this suggestion was, is anyone's guess.
An odd one in House of the Dead: Overkill, where the final boss is Clement's elderly mother... after her brain had been transplanted into Varla Guns, and the mutagen overloaded her and made her giant.
In the webgame Epic Mafia, one of the roles a player can get is "Granny". If anyone tries to visit Granny during the night phase, Granny shoots them instead.
Lily Bowen was a kindly old grandmother before becoming a Nightkin. She's still like this somewhat when not completely Ax-Crazy.
And don't tick off Old Lady Gibson. Not only does she have a pack of dogs, she also carries a unique sawed-off shotgun.
Daisy Whitman of Novac is probably the most combat-capable character in the town aside from former NCR Elite Mooks. As it turns out, she was a former Enclave pilot.
You, yourself, if you moved the age meter all the way to the right and gave yourself grey hair and be female, can play as a badass grandma. "I may not have kids, I may be 70+ years old, but I'm quite capable of taking a rocket launcher to your face."
In every Saints Row game except the first you can turn yourself into an old woman through plastic surgery. It's... awkward if your guy was previously a bulky dude, but badass nevertheless.
The Appointed Defender mission in Saints Row 2 has the judge of Johnny's trial, an old black woman, come after the player with a shotgun after the trial is broken up.
There was a small Shockwave game called Egg Drop that involved the player standing at the top of a tall building dropping things like eggs, water balloons, etc., on passersby. If a payload falls on a passing granny (who walks rather slowly), she gets enraged and calls the police, which ends the level immediately.
The 3D sequel takes this to hilarious extremes, you're in a multi-floored office building and if you nail her she proceeds to cuss you out then go up to where you are, knock you out with one swing of her cane and cuss you out some more!
Grandma Wahl in the World of Warcraft Worgen starting zone initially seems a senile old lady who makes you fetch her favorite book, clothes, and cat before she'll obey with orders to evacuate. When you're attacked on retrieving the cat however, Grandma Wahl proves she's a senile old Worgen lady and helps take out the enemy with a yell of "You do not mess with my kitty, you son of a mongrel!"
In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the player follows the escaped pirate Briggs back to his homeland, where he's begging his grandma Obaba for protection from the player characters. She obliges by summoning a giant firebreathing salamander. Once she realizes the player characters are too tough for that, she lets them say their piece, and then she realizes they're telling the truth about Briggs's shenanigans and goes off on him for lying to her and endangering her baby great-grandson. She later helps reforge the pieces of an ancient trident that can be used to defeat the sea monster Poseidon.
Granny Rags from Dishonored certainly looks like she doesn't qualify but as The Outsider states, there's more to her than meets the eye. She's actually immortal (not to mention immoral) and one of the most powerful enemies in the game.
Rose from A Girl and Her Fed. She's a little old grey-haired lady who walks with a cane. She's also the retired Federal agent who used to run "the post office", a black ops team. When she retired, she opened a daycare for the children of mercenaries and Special Forces members. It has snipers with live ammo watching to make sure no-one messes with the kids.
Drive: Captain Taneel of the Machito hasn't even touched a weapon (yet), but managed to mouth off to the emperor and get away with it. The same emperor who killed his uncle for the position.
In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the eponymous Doc is at stated to be about thirty-five. Mitzi McNinja, his mom, has to be in her mid-to-late fifties, and she can just about out-ninja him. Achievements include blowing up a pirate ship so precisely that the treasure landed in her family's hands on the shore, fighting Doc to a draw in the cave, and (in an alternate future) destroying the only Horrorsaurus.
Whateley Universe. Mrs. Carson is in at least her 70s with grandchildren. She scares the crap out of the entire student population of Whateley Academy at one point. Students are seen wondering who had the balls to prank her. On Halloween, she beat the crap out of and nearly killed a nearly-invincible cyborg without help. It helps that she is Lady Astarte, a big-name superheroine.
The Pink Panther episode "Pink Pistons" had the Pink Panther blow past an old woman at an intersection with his new sports car. Turns out that old lady was Granny Flash, senior citizens drag race champion. She proceeds to blow the doors off the Pink Panther.
Mrs. Van Houen from The Boondocks. She personally sent two Iraq war veterans-turned-criminals running with the help of her shotgun (granted, they were Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy), and even used the phrase former NRA president, the late Charlton Heston is infamous for saying: "[I'll give you my gun] From my cold, dead hands!"
Jon's grandma in Garfield, who can punch the wind out of him in the Christmas special, and rides a motorcycle in the comic strip.
Nana Possible. She's introduced as a, well, well-meaning granny, until we are told that she does know Kung Fu. And when her brainwash machine malfunctions, well, you wouldn't want to be in Drakken's shoes.
First woman to complete the Navy's Underwater Demolitions Training? Richard Marcinko would be spitting chips.
By the time of The Legend of Korra, Katara has turned into this. We never see her in action, but given that she's Korra's waterbending mentor, it's assumed she's still as badass as ever.
From the Sam & Max: Freelance Police animated series, Sam's Granny Ruth, who works at a maximum security prison on Blood Island. The duo visit her on Christmas Eve just as the prisoners attempt a jailbreak. True to this trope, Granny kicks seventeen types of ass to get the rapscallions back into place.
It's revealed in Ben 10: Alien Force that Ben and Gwen's grandmother is an extremely powerful Energy Being that was able to take them all on at once... and she was playing!
Robot Chicken had one extremely short segment of a little old lady rolling down the street in a tank.
Granny: Come and get some!
Winx Club. Make Faragonda fight you all-out. I dare you!
Wakfu season 2 introduces Ruel's grandmother in one episode. Note that Ruel is already the Cool Old Guy and Old Master of the heroes' group, so there's no telling how old exactly is his grandmother. When a group of air pirates attacks her Clock Punkcable-car, you get the feeling that she wouldn't even need the help of the heroes to drive them off... considering she welcomes them with a cannon. And by fusioning with her drhellerfamiliar for a tougher combat form.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Granny Smith might be considered one of these. She's old, she's feeble, and she can beat you silly with her purse if you interfere with her street-crossing.
Mallory Archer mostly spends her time complaining about things, and being wasted, but as she demonstrated, she's still a dead shot with her 44. Magnum. A fact she demonstrated on a mind controlled Archer.
Mallory: All six shots, right in the 10 ring.
The previous generation of Guardians in W.I.T.C.H.. Nerissa is the Big Bad of Season 2 for a good reason: she's just that dangerous (and the one who put Phobos into power in first place). Yan Lin and Halinor managed to give Nerissa a run for her money (and even forced her to run with their mere appearance on the battlefield in one occasion), and Yan Lin is actually the only Guardian who resisted Nerissa's brainwashing. Kadma is a greatly powered up Cornelia, and when fooled by Nerissa fought against the protagonists and won. The only reason why Cassidy didn't make to the list is that she died young, and appears only as a ghost before being revived and brainwashed by Nerissa.
The Land Before Time: Although it's Littlefoot's grandpa that does most of the fighting in the main series, his grandma has proven herself capable as well...and we're talking about a 70-foot-long Brontosaurus here.
Ultimate Spider-Man: Peter's Aunt May in this one is not only still gorgeous in her silver years, but also did not bat an eye at the Beetle kidnapping her, and "pretended" to have "accidentally" fried him a-la-Ripley with a jet engine to stop him from hurting Spidey and her date, Principal Coulson.
Granny from Looney Tunes might as well be the Trope Namer. Attempt to hurt Tweety and you'll be in for an umbrella of hurt.
Mrs. Twombly from Littlest Pet Shop (2012), kung-fu quilting champion. She hasn't performed any of it since 1969, but she is still agile enough to teach it. Mrs. Twombly is also very good at navigating the streets of her home city and can perform precise drifting maneuvers.
Wilma Flinstone's mother, Mrs. Slaghoople, is another one of the "beat you with her purse" types, and her purse is made of rock.
Nanny Smurf of The Smurfs is one tough old Smurfette.
Perhaps your own grandmother. She may have participated in WWII either as a first line combatant (USSR, several La Résistance movements), a second line combatant (the Lotta Corps of Finland), auxiliary (like WASP Corps), medic or perhaps she has been the original Rosie The Riveter, making B-17s.
A news story in the 1980s reported that an elderly British woman single-handedly beat up a much younger man who tried to steal her purse. She told the press that she'd survived The Blitz and therefore wasn't going to put up with that sort of thing.
Bernie Garcia, 83, fought off two muggers with a gas pump until help came.
A 77-year-old woman used a car as a weapon to rescue a postal worker from an attacking dog.
77-year-old Avis Blakeslee was attacked by a rabid fox. She caught it and held it down until help arrived.
An old Texas grandmother and her granddaughter were at home one night when a robber broke in. The granddaughter rushed to the phone and called 911. Granny pulled out a revolver and opened fire. When interviewed later on the news, she apologized... for swearing at the robber.
An 88-year-old Oregon woman returned from picking up logs for her stove to find a nude intruder in her home. When he tried to push her face first into a chair, she reached back and yanked his testicles. He fled, injured, and was apprehended.
One episode of America's Most Wanted had a human interest story about a career criminal who tried to hold up the elderly owner - and actual grandmother - who owned a pawn shop with a gun, only for her to beat him senseless with a baseball bat after he broke a picture of her grandchildren.
72-year-old (as of this writing) Lynn Conway is this to much of the Transgender community. Conway transitioned from male to female despite losing her job at IBM in the late 1960s, and went on to revolutionize computer design several times. And that's just what she did before retirement. Since 2000 she has become one of the most outspoken advocates for the de-pathologization of transsexuality; a vocal critic of junk pop culture science portraying the impetus to transition as being related to the male sex drive (particularly as forwarded by J. Michael Bailey's infamous work The Man Who Would Be Queen), and has become a mentor and legend to a generation of trans women. Bad. Ass.
Helen McAdam confronted an armed robber who was holding a security guard at gunpoint. She then proceeded to beat him with her handbag and he fled.
Azrael at Gaijin Smash blogged frequently about the terror that is the obaasan (Japanese grandmother). School policies tended to be made with deference to them, and discipline couldn't be carried out for fear of facing their wrath; the obaasan were feared as much as yakuza parents. Az also describes a field trip in which he was driven from half-way up Mount Fuji by a typhoon, and on retreat was passed up by a group of marching obaasan who had already been to the top.
The Sisters of Mercy might count as an entire sect of badass grandmas — even though their vows prevent them from even becoming mothers. Fed up with the cloistered lifestyle that Catholic nuns were forced into, they browbeat their way into making the Pope himself agree to the formation of a non-cloistered order. These women also went into warzones on a regular basis to treat the wounded — they braved artillery fire in the Crimean on more than one occasion!
Four grandmas in an Impala get hit by a young man at an intersection and the man is yelling at him like it's their fault even though it was him who ran the red light. One rolls down the window, gets the guy with pepper spray and the four old ladies proceed to get out of the car and beat the guy senseless with two umbrellas, a purse, and a black luggage bag until he gets so scared he runs back into his car and takes off. Listen to it here.
An elderly couple were walking in the woods when the husband was attacked by a cougar. His wife beat the hell out of this mountain lion with a branch about as big as she was and stabbed it in the eye with a pen, causing it to leave her husband alone and flee. Investigators later found the cougar's battered carcass.
Mugger pulls a knife on a little old lady in a wheelchair. Little old lady reaches into her purse, pulls out gun, and shoots him. Turns out, little old lady was a highly competitive shooter, and was on her way home from the range. Unfortunately, she intentionally did not shoot to kill, and is now being sued by the mugger.
Everyone on Raging Grannies. They invoke the trope by being over sixty, marching in protests, and singing mildly raunchy songs on street corners to call attention to government and corporate corruption.
According to Albions Seed by David Hackett Fischer, a number of Scotch-Irish Apron Matrons were like this. They had intimidating personalities, were experts on all the traditions of The Clan, and would scare the fierce frontiersmen about them, especially if they were their sons. And when was needed they could be right handy with a gun.
As mentioned before, an older Iron Lady will generally be some form of this.
As an example, Nancy Pelosi once managed to intimidate Rahm Emmanuel. She has seven grandkids.
The Other Wiki calls Golda Meir the "strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people."
Super Grandma Stops Robbery: A gang are robbing a shop in broad daylight. No-one tries to stop them; one person is taping it on their phone. Then, Super Grandma comes charging in from across the street to save the day, chasing off the robbers by beating them with her handbag.
There's a story that supposedly a great-grandmother hunted down two rapists and shot them both in the genitals to avenge the gang rape of her teenaged great-granddaughter. She's even picked up the nickname "Grambo". Sadly, the story appears to be just an urban legend.
Ruth Westheimer. Yes, that Dr. Ruth. She was born in 1928. She fought as a sniper in the War of Israeli Independence. She is still very much active.
She was born in 1928 in GERMANY, and pretty much got out in the nick of time in 1939. Her parents didn't make it. She came by her quite noticeable limp the hard way, being badly wounded by shellfire during the Israeli War Of Independence in 1948. ANY of the things listed here on their own would qualify her as a Badass.
Sensei Keiko Fukuda just became the fourth person in history (and the first woman, and first person living outside Japan) to be made a 10th dan judoka. She's 98 and still teaches judo in San Francisco. Do not mess with her.
Ernestine Shepherd, who at 75 years old, is in the Guiness Book of Records as the world's oldest female bodybuilder and runs 10 miles every morning. To top it off, she didn't even start working out until she was 56.
Julia Child was as OSS agent.
In some Native American tribes, if you piss off Granny you will have all of the young men gunning for you.
Jane Elliott, the teacher responsible for the "brown eyed/blue eyed" exercise, is a non-combat example of this trope. She reaches Sadist Teacher levels in thisreenactment of the experiment, but does an excellent job of conveying how it feels having to deal with racism every day.
United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, currently 79, spent the 1960's and onward forcing her way through the "glass ceiling" and to this day is known for never backing down from her beliefs. She also suffered through both colon and pancreatic cancer, and did not miss a day on the bench through surgery, chemo and radiation therapy. As of 2012 she still has no plans to retire from her position as one of the nine most powerful people in the US Judiciary.
This nun broke into and defaced a nuclear facility. You don't find many better examples then that.
Coco Chanel, after a 15-year hiatus reopened her shop in 1954 after witnessing constrictive and ultrafeminine silhouettes worn after World War II, and returned make innovated clothes until her death.
Li Guochuan, an 80-year-old Chinese woman who does 150 push-ups and 150 sit-ups a day and then plays basketball.
Jeanne Calment, the oldest person ever, took up fencing at age 85.
Hemet California resident Robyn Irvine (maybe not senior citizen age but easily old enough to be a grandmother): woke to find a burgular attempting to take her watch off. Turns out she's a competitive axe thrower. She reached for the axe that she keeps right by her bedside, and the criminal took to his heels.