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[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Diana_and_Steve_6431.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"My hero!"]]

It is very common that when women are the main characters, they will have a boyfriend that is depicted as a complete badass or a BadassNormal. They singlehandedly fight the MonsterOfTheWeek and even rescue their [[ActionGirl action]]/[[MagicalGirl magical girl]] friends [[HowDoIShotWeb when they are still learning how to use their powers/skills]]. They are more than capable of facing the BigBad and his/her goons without powers.

In short, they are completely badass... Except whenever their [[ActionGirl action]]/[[MagicalGirl magical girl]] friends are around. Then they somehow become [[ConservationOfNinjutsu very ineffective]] fighting against the MonsterOfTheWeek and are completely useless against the BigBad. Sometimes, they even get demoted to DistressedDude. Many times, they are not allowed to win a fight unless their girlfriends are somehow incapacitated. Most of the time they are somehow unable to get the same powers/abilities as their [[ActionGirl action]]/[[MagicalGirl magical girl]] friends.

One potential (in-universe) explanation for this is that the boyfriend in question is a BadassNormal, while the "girlfriend" has actual magical powers, special abilities, or is a [[WesternAnimation/KimPossible much better]] BadassNormal. And while the boy is no doubt skilled, he can't really compare to [[EldritchAbomination soul-eating monsters]] or the ability to [[KamehameHadouken shoot fire from one's hands]].

Another explanation is that though the boy has powers of his own, and is more than a badass normal, he isn't the ChosenOne, or lacks the local monster-killing MacGuffin, which the girl noticeably has.

When this trope is played straight, it is used to denote [[YouGoGirl Girl Power]]. This trope appears primarily in shows intended for girls, where the spotlight is supposed to be on the female characters as the heroes.

Compare to the WorfEffect, where a badass character is taken out easily to show how tough the new villain is. The difference between a Useless Boyfriend and the Worf Effect is the setting and how frequently the badass in question is beaten down. The Worf Effect will overlap with Useless Boyfriend, but the Boyfriend is characterized by his uselessness. Though he may also serve a similar purpose, the "Worf" will be actually effective against a wide variety of enemies, and will gain victories for their side, whereas the Boyfriend serves as a punching bag until his girlfriend shows up.

See [[YouGoGirl Girl Power]], ActionGirl, TalentedPrincessRegularGuy, InformedAbility, MagicalGirl, DistressedDude. Also look at BadassDecay. Contrast FauxActionGirl, which is a part of the DistaffCounterpart. The man's fear of becoming this trope is part of the driving force behind NoGuyWantsAnAmazon.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In the first ''Anime/SailorMoon'' anime, Tuxedo Mask is one of two {{Trope Codifier}}s. He was the mysterious protector of the main characters while Usagi and her team got stronger. He becomes completely useless against the first and last [[BigBad Big Bads,]] often leaving Usagi alone for the bigger battles. (In his defense, it's not like he wants to: in the first series [[spoiler: he's gravely injured and then dies in between the fight with Beryl and the one with Metallia!Beryl]], in ''S'' [[spoiler: he's keeping Chibi-Usa alive via constantly transferring some of his own LifeEnergy to her comatose body after her Heart Crystal is stolen]], in ''Super S'' [[spoiler: the influence of Black Moon leave him greatly debilitated]], and in ''Stars'' [[spoiler: he was [[BusCrash dead]] again]].)
* Austria from ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' was shown to be this, back when he and [[ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend Hungary]] were still together. Prussia's comments at his loss hints that he used to be able to hold his own, but got complacent and has gone soft, or at least weaker than Prussia and his allies.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* ''Franchise/WonderWoman:'' Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman's official LoveInterest for decades, was a US Air Force pilot and agent and the second TropeCodifier. But he ended up rescued by Wonder Woman as often as ComicBook/LoisLane was by {{Franchise/Superman}}. Eventually they wrote him out of the series, even [[PairTheSpares marrying him to Wonder Woman's female sidekick]], Etta Candy.
** In the TV series, this is averted. While he's not bulletproof so the heavy hitting still has to be done by the heroine, he's still a badass soldier. They don't let useless wusses be USAF fighter pilots, after all. Of course, gender roles mean that when it comes to audience perception, any given instance of needing rescue adds ''far'' more TheLoad points to the character than it would for a female character.
** The ''Film/WonderWoman2017'' film averts this as well. Set in WW1, Steve is introduced as a daring spy on an important mission and that mission drives much of the plot. While Wonder Woman obviously dominates every fight scene she's in, Steve remains useful in combat. [[spoiler: He even gets a HeroicSacrifice to complete his mission that saved thousands which convinces Diana to not give up on mankind.]]


[[folder: Fan Fiction ]]

* Shows up quite often in ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' fan fiction, due in part to the fact that many such fanfics involve {{Muggle}} humans accidentally finding themselves in [[MagicalLand Gensokyo]], a land whose chief population seems to be magic bullet-shooting {{Action Girl}}s.
* According to the celebrated ''Franchise/SailorMoon'' fanfic ''[[http://www.sailormoonfiction.com/revolution/viewstory.php?sid=867 Tuxedo Mask, the Token Male]]'' Tuxedo Mask's apparent uselessness is a tactic intended to keep Sailor Moon fantasizing about him while simultaneously forcing her to do all of the real work.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/TheServant'' series, by LoriFoster, has Gaby as the supernatural protagonist and Luther as her {{Muggle}} love interest. If it were a straight up detective series, Luther would be pretty badass. Unfortunately, since he's not supernaturally empowered, he can't hold a candle to Gaby.


[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer's boyfriend in seasons 4-5, Riley, was a BadassNormal who was completely and utterly outclassed by [[SuperStrength Buffy.]] The show even [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructs the trope,]] with all the UnfortunateImplications that come along with it. Riley eventually feels useless (in combat and even emotionally because Buffy refuses to really open up to or rely on him when she needs help) and weak compared to Buffy and leaves her. Later it turns out that he marries a different, and less [[SuperEmpowering empowered]] [[ActionGirl Action Girl]] with whom he can form a more equal BattleCouple.
* In ''Series/{{Charmed}}'', Cole turned into this after his HeelFaceTurn, but then turned into a {{Muggle}}. His frustration with this led to him using a forbidden power source, becoming strong again, but eventually being corrupted. [[HeelFaceRevolvingDoor Then he gets better, then he gets worse again, then...]]
* Played straight with Mickey of ''Series/DoctorWho'' at first, then subverted.
** Rory Williams also started out this way. He was just some guy who Amy was going to marry, and when he tagged along, he became a BumblingSidekick. This changed pretty quickly, as he developed a well-deserved MemeticBadass status.


[[folder: Visual Novels ]]

* In ''VisualNovel/MajiDeWatashiNiKoiShinasai'', Kazama, Gakuto and Gen are all shown to be extremely talented fighters who can take down large swarms of thugs on their own. However, whenever the VillainOfTheWeek shows up, they all get sidelined in favor of one of the girls taking them on. This even applies to their rivals as well, as while Hideo may be able to toss around the average {{Mook}} with ease, he's completely overshadowed by his female companions and never participates in any ''major'' fights. This is regularly [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]], as the guys mention how humiliating it is to constantly get shown up by girls.


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Fey of the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'' has immense magical powers and has beaten The Necromancer in one-on-one duels. Her boyfriend Stalwart is an inventor, and not all of his inventions work.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Shining Armor is a captain of the guard. However, he has a weak record of being badass or doing anything on camera when the mane 6 get involved. In his defense, though, he does have some outstanding moments such as [[spoiler:performing a spell fueled by ThePowerOfLove alongside Cadance that kicked the changelings out of Canterlot]], briefly taking on King Sombra (even though it ended up putting black crystals in his horn that temporarily prevented him from doing magic), and [[spoiler:[[FastBallSpecial throwing Cadance like a javelin to catch Spike and the Crystal Heart]], enabling Sombra's defeat.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'', the specialists from Red Fountain are depicted as completely badass warriors, due to the fact that they are training all the time to be [[BadassNormal Badass Normals.]] For this reason one would logically expect them to be able to fight competently against the forces of evil. Despite this, they are usually ineffective against the [[BigBad Big Bads,]] and are very weak compared to the Winx against magical threats. However, they do manage to hold their own against {{mooks}} and can sometimes take on bigger threats like the Trix and the Wizards of the Black Circle.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'', Cornelia's boyfriend, Caleb, is an undeniable badass, leading the resistance forces in Miridian, running daring raids against [[TheEmpire Phobos' forces,]] and even saving the girls in their first encounter. Despite all of this, he is next to useless against Phobos, Cedric, or any of the [[BigBad Big Bads, really.]]
** Matt Olsen, Will's boyfriend, subverts this trope. When he finds out of Will's second life, he decides that he isn't going to let Will get hurt with him around. He takes copious amounts of TakingALevelInBadass [[spoiler: after his successful BattleInTheCenterofTheMind against his BrainwashedAndCrazy self]], gets himself new powers and is now on equal footing with them! Sadly, the series is canceled before we can find out if he'd end up getting shunted back into this category.
*** The comic was also good at subverting it. When Matt learns about TheMasquerade, he helps the girls hiding it from their parents. Next story arc, he is a DistressedDude, but at then end he manages to save the day. [[spoiler: Then we learn he was a ReallySevenHundredYearsOld secret protector.]]
* The wielders of the Forest Stones from ''WesternAnimation/PrincessGwenevereAndTheJewelRiders'', despite riding badass wolves and having their own [[GreenLanternRing magic stones]], were unfortunately made all too aware of this trope. They have been kidnapped, transformed, and in short are pretty much useless.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'', [[{{Sidekick}} Ron Stoppable]] is this for Kim. Despite the act that he has "mystical king Fu powers" he is unable to beat Shego nor any villain of the week. Most of the time Kim does all the work. He becomes aware of this trope at the last episode and feels outclassed compared to Kim. Even in the last episode when he was allowed to [[spoiler: awaken his powers and beat the {{Big Bad}}s by himself, he was unable to use his powers until the last moment and when Kim was knocked out.]]
** Ron really is more of a subversion however. He is, in fact an attempt at lampshading this trope. The main difference is that Ron hasn't made any claims to be badass, he knows he isn't badass.
** The other thing is that it's Kim's show, so she's usually the hero with Ron as loyal support, though he has a number of AllUpToYou moments. [[note]]Some fans thought there were too many of these, but that's a debate we don't want to re-open.[[/note]]
* Lampshaded and... Parodied?... with Steve Trevor, love interest of Franchise/WonderWoman in his appearance at ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'': In all other incarnations (animation, live action TV) he is a fairly proactive guy, (except comics, as you can see above) in the ColdOpening of "Scorn of Star Sapphire!" he is a secret agent so confident that Wonder Woman will come to his rescue that he doesn't move a muscle to get out of a DeathTrap, let her do all the work, and gushes in her presence. And this immortal line:
--> '''Steve Trevor:''' ''Have to say, being a secret agent is a cinch when you have a super-powered girlfriend.''
** Which prompts Batman to wonder WhatDoesSheSeeInHim