main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
One-Sided Arm-Wrestling

...I'm sorry, have you two already started?
Superman armwrestling the gods Samson and Atlas at the same time, All-Star Superman

Somehow, in some over the top fashion, a situation has arisen that can only be solved by one character arm wrestling another. This will almost always result in a character who appears scrawny having to arm wrestle a man far larger than they are.

This never favors the big man, since almost as often, the character only appears scrawny, and is in fact a not so harmless Cute Bruiser, or otherwise ends up being more powerful than they look. Expect the Genre Savvy to take full advantage of this misconception to make money, get revenge, or just show off.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Kenshiro got into one of these in Fist of the North Star. It was made even more deadly by having buzzsaws near the bottom of the table that would cut off the arm of the loser. Ken spared the Mook he was armwrestling from having his arm cut off... by breaking his arm instead.
  • Gon, Killua, and Leorio actually make money doing this in Hunter Hunter, having Gon arm wrestle passerby and win. Also, the strongest person he arm-wrestled and forced him to use Nen to win: a Meganekko. The only reason he won was because she used her right hand, and she's left-handed. Which makes this an example of I Am Not Left-Handed, while being an inversion at the same time.
  • Little House with an Orange Roof has Natsumi in this situation in chapter 38. On a whim, she plays an arm wrestling game and beats it even when her youngest daughter sets it to the highest level. It's later revealed the machine was broken, but Natsumi doesn't know that when she has to arm wrestle a construction worker to get her house worked on. The intervention of the kids warms the hearts of the construction workers and the event is called off.
  • Episode 7 of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor has Bridge Bunny Yuriko facing off with big Marine Lt. Andressen to decide whether or not they clean up the Soyokaze. Yuriko holds out well, but is on the verge of losing until Captain Tylor cheers for Andressen. This gets Yuriko mad and, to everyone's shock, immediately pins down Andressen's arm.
  • Done in Pretty Face where the deceptively waifish-looking main character Rando does astonishingly well in such a contest.
  • Double Subverted in Ranma when Akane is arm wrestling several arm wrestling machines. She's winning, but then loses to the Sumo wrestler (the strongest machine) — turns out Shampoo was hiding inside.
  • Double subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist. In Rush Valley, a big guy is challenging people to an automail arm wrestling contest. He keeps winning until Ed moves to challenge him. Turns out he was cheating to win using Alchemy, but Al then cheats right back to win anyway.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has an epic arm wrestling match between Ku Fei and Negi. The "one sided" aspect is a big of a Zig-Zagging Trope, as in terms of pure physical strength they're about equal, with Ku apparently having a slight advantage due to her Ki. Then Negi pulls out the Black Magic. Ku didn't have much of a chance after that.
  • Rather hilarious example from Pandora Hearts: Gil's Nice Hat is riding on the outcome of an arm-wrestling battle between a big, burly tough guy and Alice. Alice is basically an Eldritch Abomination in the form of a teenage girl, and Gil, who controls her Power Limiter, really wants his hat back. Her power-up music even starts playing. In the manga Alice even breaks the guy's arm.
  • The title character of Great Teacher Onizuka once beat 99 guys in an arm wrestling contest, including a giant, a nuclear mutant, Heihachi Mishimi and Jason Voorhees.
  • When one of the boys in Hanamaru Kindergarten declares his love for athletic teacher Kusano, she tries everything she can to dissuade the kid, finally settling on an arm wrestling match... only for Anzu to distract her at the critical moment by talking about wedding ceremonies.

  • While recounting his past in one part of Preacher, resident vampire Cassidy recalls using this trope soon after traveling to the US. No one ever suspects that the gawky looking kid has Super Strength.
  • In All-Star Superman, Superman faces Atlas and Samson simultaneously, and breaks their arms.
  • In one issue of JSA, Atom Smasher and Black Adam armwrestle. Atom Smasher is over 7 feet tall with a body of solid muscle, and can grow even larger and stronger. Meanwhile, The Rock was once to play Black Adam in a movie — these are huge guys. They get locked in the starting position, with Atom Smasher giving it all he's got and, he assumes, Black Adam doing much the same. They carry on a conversation for a while, until Adam asks "This game, when does it start?"

  • Superman II. Ursa challenges a human male to an arm wrestling contest. She appears to be totally outmatched (she weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet), but since she's from Krypton she easily beats him, injuring him in the process.
  • Probably the most disturbing example in film history is the bar scene in The Fly, in which a newly superpowered Jeff Goldblum snaps a mans wrist. With loud cracking sounds and NO Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Cool Runnings had the strong person do arm wrestling matches to raise money for the bobsled team. The strong men failed, but the last contestant, a large woman, succeeded.
  • In Time Bandits, a member of Robin Hood's merry men tears the arm off the man he's arm-wrestling and throws it into a pile of other arms.
  • Revenge Of The Nerds during the intergender arm wrestling contest. The male nerds get squashed by the cheerleaders they all had to face except for Booger, who manages to fake out the girl he had to face and get a win.

  • In the 1632-universe short story "Diving Belle", Per is nervously watching his brother play the deceptively-scrawny role when the protagonist, Ginny Cochran, enters the taproom of the Silver Eel bar where the match is taking place.

    Live-Action TV 
  • My Secret Identity: A macho man challenged Andrew Clemens to an arm wrestling match after Andrew got Super Strength.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation a guest Klingon challenged Data to B'aht Qul (a Klingon challenge similar to arm wrestling). Data won in under a second, then calmly went back to what he was doing.
  • There's a funny series of examples in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In an episode, an old man challenged Lou Grant to an arm wrestling contest. The old man defeated the bigger Lou. Then, the old man challenged Ted. Ted defeated the old man easily. Filled with confidence, Ted challenged Lou. It turns out that Lou always let the old man wins to give him a drink. So, Lou literally caused Ted to go onto the floor.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the super strong Atalanta challenges Herc to one of these. Herc was winning easily, until he spies her cleavage and is distracted enough that he loses.
  • Katie of Power Rangers Time Force, having been bioengineered with superstrength, did this once, against a Ranger in another team in one of the crossover episodes.
  • Bones: Zig-Zagged. Mr. Vincent Nigel-Murray, wearing an upper body exoskeleton giving him the proportionate strength of a T-rex, is unable to beat Hodgens in an arm wrestling contest because the limitations of the T-rex's skeletal structure makes it unable to complete the presumed Curb-Stomp Battle. Hodgens wins.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lucky Dog 1 has this potentially happen between muscly Luchino and slender Gian in the spin-off Gian Carlo's Lucky Happy Life, when the former drunkenly challenges the latter to a contest of arm wrestling at the very beginning of his route. In one of the two outcomes to this impromptu match, Gian is somehow able to beat Luchino despite the obvious strength disparity between them, which even he is shocked by. If he ends up losing instead though, his arm becomes seriously sore afterwards.


    Western Animation 
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Hamhocks and Arm-Locks" has Dexter's dad getting baited into arm-wrestling with a beefy trucker named Earl after Dad accidentally breaks the trucker's winning streak. Knowing the match is too one-sided, Dexter secretly fits his dad with a mechanical arm to enhance his strength. Once they start arm wrestling, the two seem evenly matched... until Dexter realizes he forgot to push a button on his remote control, at which point Earl is sent flying through a wall.
  • In Disney's John Henry short, there is a montage of him arm wrestling progressively more men simultaneously and winning. When his much tinier wife challenges him, she wins, but only because she distracted him by kissing him.
  • ThunderCats: Lion-O is searching for the missing history-holding holoprojector, but finds that a caveman has claimed it. He has to beat the caveman at arm-wrestling to get it back.
  • In the episode of DuckTales where Scrooge gets put in prison, a dozen or more burly inmates challenge him to an arm-wrestling match. In a glorious display of his Badass Grandpa-ness, Scrooge effortlessly smashes their huge hands into the table, one by one, quipping "Next!" between rounds. While they all stand in shock and awe rubbing their wrists, one asks Scrooge how did he became so strong, to which the latter replies that he hauled a lot of gold in the Klondike note . This is when the prisoners start to respect Scrooge.

Old MasterMore than Meets the EyePaper Tiger
Not with the Safety on, You Won'tImageSource/Comic BooksThe Unintelligible

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy