The Pretty Guys Are Stronger
An improbable situation where despite a group being filled with various chiseled athletes, sturdy looking beasts, weapon outfitted death machines, and heavily outfitted personnel, the prettiest, least physically imposing members turn out to be the strongest, most capable and toughest of the bunch. This is not merely cases where their build proves most effective for the job or where their lighter wear proves more practical but when more delicate looking human builds are themselves indicators of might. Compare Bishonen Line, where humanoids gradually grow or transforms into more monstrous appearances then sharply drops back into a more human form as they get stronger, Muscles Are Meaningless, Helmets Are Hardly Heroic, Armor Is Useless, the coincidental game play trope Strong Flesh, Weak Steel, Agent Peacock and Boobs of Steel. Contrast Muscles Are Meaningful, where people with the most impressive looking build are portrayed as being superior, even if this should not be the case. If the pretty boy leads but is not that strong see The Man Behind The Monsters.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In One Piece, a worldview of the Kuja tribe of Amazon Lily is that "strength is beauty". The women there run gamut from pretty normal looking, to amorous Gonks, to incredibly beautiful - The leader of which, Boa Hancock, is not only World's Most Beautiful Woman (aside from mermaid princess Shirahoshi) but also among the strongest woman in the world, despite being normally built and smaller than her two weaker sisters.
- In Seimaden, the ruler of the demon world is Laures, an impossibly beautiful man. Demons lower in rank than himself are attractive but more bestial. Mid-rank demons are horrible monsters. But Laures' assistant and servant Tetiyus, a low-rank demon, is almost as beautiful as his master.
- YuYu Hakusho. Based on the Random Power Ranking of demons, we start from very animalistic and brutish E and D Class demons to the semi-humanoid C Class with all shorts of technicolor hair then taking a huge jump in Bishōnen with the B Classes who's only differences from humanity is their height or a hair of a different color, leading to a downgrade where the A Classes look like grotesque alien freaks, and finally ending with S Classes which could be best described as humans with the occasional horn, extra ears or different hair/skin tone.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- After sixteen monstrosities that get weirder with each new one, Tabris the 17th Angel is revealed to be a White Hair, Black Heart boy who also goes by the name of Kaworu Nagisa.
- Of course the 18th Angel is humanity as a whole. You don't get any more humanoid than that.
- In InuYasha, there's a fairly visible progression in power from small youkai to larger ones to monstrously huge ones. Common wisdom among those who know anything about the subject, however, holds that the most powerful and dangerous youkai of all are the ones who look almost completely human. This proves consistently true over the course of the series, with the most prominent examples being the title character's father and half-brother.
- Chrono Crusade works similarly to InuYasha — Weaker demons tend to look like Eldritch Abominations, while the strongest ones tend to look like Bishōnen with wings, horns, and other cosmetic extras.
- Followed by Zatch Bell!. Weakest mamodo opponents encountered at the beginning mostly look like humans with cosmetic differences, then much less human-like mamodo, up to and including gigantic dragons, make their entry, yet the first two Big Bads, Zophise and Zeon, look like humans with cosmetic differences, and the final one, Clear Note, is virtually indistinguishable from a human, save from his monstrous Battle Aura. Then subverted, when he is revealed to have an One-Winged Angel uber-form after all.
- In Guyver, the Zoanoids are very monstrous looking, the Hyperzoanoids run the gamut from fairly monstrous to fairly humanoid, but the Zoalords — the masters of Chronos and the main enemies of the second half of the series, are all humanoid-sized with human faces.
- In Fruits Basket, the Hot-Blooded martial-artist Kyo regulaly challenges Bishonen "Prince Yuki" to fights (though it only happens twice in the manga, other characters claim it's a regular occurrence.) Yuki always hands Kyo his rear-end. This is subject to some Fridge Logic, as the rest of the time Yuki is portrayed as rather weak and subject to various health problems — how he can win martial arts battles but have trouble finishing the walk to his school unassisted is never explained.
- Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin, the most feminine looking male in the series in addition to being the most powerful. Soujiro from the Kyoto arc too as he was one of Shishio's most deadly men.
- In Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, the rival group of vampire hunters includes multiple huge, muscular, heavily armed hunters, (who mostly get their asses handed to them) and a sickly bishie named Grove who is bedridden. When Grove takes the right drugs, he creates an astral projection of pure energy that can blast entire armies into ashes without really trying.
- Bleach: An enormous monster or ugly person is going to get beaten down very quickly. However, if a male character is pretty, then not only will he be important to the plot and not get killed off, but he is most likely very powerful. To list some: Ichigo Kurosaki The Hero, Byakuya is also one of the prettiest and one of the most devastatingly powerful characters in the series; Child Prodigy Toshiro; Jushiro is a veteran of the 13 and has several in-series fangirls. It should also be noted that not all of the strong male characters are pretty.
- The Tall, Dark and Handsome Tsunashi Takuto of Star Driver is one of his school's top Heartthrobs. and he's also the most powerful Star Driver among the ones in (a rather literal) The Masquerade of the Glittering Crux by simply holding back on every battle so each time, he catches the Villain of the Week off guard and defeats them. he's no slouch in battle outside his mech though.
- one time he defeats one of the GC because she was too busy ogling him with her mech's X-ray vision feature.
- In Berserk, the undisputed strongest member of the Band of the Hawk through most of the Golden Age arc is its commander, the slender bishonen Griffith, and the petite woman Casca can outfight any man in the army except Griffith and Guts. Averted when Guts finally beats Griffith in a duel most of the way through the arc, but then played straight again post-Eclipse after Griffith gets a massive supernatural power-up.
- Crops up several times in Tokyo Ghoul, partially justified by the nature of Ghoul's superhuman abilities. While Banjou is the most physically imposing member of Kaneki's gang, it's actually the much shorter and more attractive Kaneki that is the powerhouse of the group. Likewise, among all the physically intimidating and powerful members of Aogiri, their strongest member turns out to be Eto, a beautiful young woman that is easily mistaken for a child due to her size. Lastly, the strongest Investigator among the CCG is Arima, a graceful Bishōnen in glasses that Kaneki describes as "beautiful" during their first encounter.
- In The Games We Play, Grimm grow steadily larger and more monstrous the more powerful they get. Then there's Gilgamesh, who is human-sized, looks very much like one, and one of the strongest ever. And then there's Malkuth, their creator and master, who is the strongest being in the story, and if Jaune is any indication, he looks perfectly human.
- Terminator: The terminator 800 and 850 are based on large muscular human males. The successor to the 800 series models (the T-1000 or T-X depending on which timeline you are in) are based on much slimmer and prettier humans yet are stronger and more resilient than the 800s.
- Ditto the Hardwired...I, Robot movie, where the new shiny robots with human like faces are able to outperform the old tin can variants.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife series, the monsters of the series are known as "malices," creatures of sentient destructive energy which drain the life force of all surrounding creatures in order to build horrific, misshapen forms, and which grow geometrically stronger the more they feed. Over the series we see several different monstrous forms of malices, such as a werewolf malice that fed on wolves and a flying malice that fed on bats. The most advanced and most dangerous of the malices they fight is one that has consumed so many human lives that it has developed a stunningly beautiful, superhuman form.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- This game has Asmodeus, king of the Nine Hells and most powerful Archdevil of all. He's most commonly encountered looking like "an unprepossessing humanoid with red eyes, horns, and well-tailored robes." Recent sourcebooks have increased his height to thirteen feet, though. (But it is mentioned in a few books that his true form is some kind of monstrous, serpent-like beast.) This example is pretty clearly based on certain depictions of Satan. Lucifer was traditionally both the most powerful and the most beautiful of angels, at least prior to his Fall. (And, in some versions, he retains both qualities even afterward.)
- Daelkyr of Eberron, the ultimate rulers of the plane of madness, lords and creators of monstrosities such as beholders and mind flayers, resemble "perfectly formed athletic human males, possessing unearthly beauty."
- Larger Tyranid creatures of Warhammer 40K become bipedal, if remaining ugly. The Magus of a Genestealer Cult does appear almost entirely humanoid but is one of the most dangerous and inhuman members of the cult.
- From the same game and Warhammer Fantasy Battle, men devoted to the hedonistic god/dess Slaanesh tend to take a much more feminine appearance, especially compared to the muscular brutes devoted to the War God Khorne. Thinking them weaker is often the last mistake you'll make, as their god-given enhancements are along the lines of enhanced senses and reflexes... much to the irritation of aforementioned muscular brutes, who see them as hedonistic wimps.
- Final Fantasy X-2's Trema, the resident Bonus Boss of Via Infinitio, a dungeon full of increasingly ugly monsters, a perfectly normal-looking Unsent.
- In the episodic computer game Time Runners, the main character (a teenager from Earth) travels through time and dimensions to fight monstruous "Chronodemons": a robot, a cyborg, a sentient spider, a necromancer, a mutated human and a zombie pharaoh. For the final duel, is pitted against the creator of the Chronodemons: an exact lookalike of him.
- Street Fighter II: the Sonic Boom user was Guile who has a very angular face, chiseled jaw, and huge flattop. He needed both hands to use the move. Then Street Fighter Alpha came and Guile was replaced with Charlie who wears glasses, has a more handsome face and can do the move one handed. Then Street Fighter III gave us the bishonen Remy, who can do the move one handed high and low.
- Fallout 3. Super Mutant Behemoths are 20-foot tall Dumb Muscle brutes with Scary Impractical Armor who only wield fire hydrant hammers as weapons. Broken Steel adds Overlords, which are closer in size and intelligence to the standard Mutants, but with HP near that of a Behemoth and much deadlier weapons such the Tri-Beam Rifle and Gatling Laser.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the Mega Corp. Shin-Ra has two types of soldier working for it. The first is the ordinary guy with a rifle and a full-face helmet. The second is a willowy, funny-haired Bishōnen with a sword. Guess what type is the Super Soldier?
- Kantai Collection: The weakest Abyssals are vaguely whalelike, with stronger types tending to some sort of Body Horror mutant that is somewhat humanoid. The strongest types are nearly indistinguishable from human apart from Undeathly Pallor and maybe a Horn or two.