A couple of unfortunate criminals try to mug the Corinthian. Oh shit. Whoops. It would be a great establishing scene for what his character is like, if his very first scene had not been so... memorable. (It helps that they mistook his sexual interest in young men as a good reason to target him, when it's really a very good reason to avoid him.)
Nor is it a good idea to try to steal a large ruby from a certain tall pale stranger: the King of Dreams might decide to haunt your every night with dreams of the gallows until death comes as a relief.
In Watchmen, while Dr. Manhattan is giving the interview, Laurie and Daniel fight off a group of muggers. Not a word of dialogue is written for this event, and instead it is overlaid with the aforementioned interview. It's a subtle bit of foreshadowing and character development, that illustrates what makes Watchmen great.
A flashback to a bit of Rorschach's back story also involved this: the two older boys who accosted little Walter had just been about to "pants" him when he swiped the cigarette one of them was smoking and jammed the lit end into his eye. Then, while the first boy was screaming, Walter launched himself into the terrified other bully and started savagely chewing on his face. In addition to having been a major turning point in his life, this incident makes a neat Call Forward to the grown-up Rorschach's methods as a highly unpredictable Improbable Weapon User in the rest of the series.
It happened to Superman... he'd gone into a dark alley and a guy jumped on him ("Hmmph! What are you, a bodybuilder or something?"). Guy gets thrown into the sacks of garbage, tries shooting at the shadowy figure, and then nearly pees his pants when the bullets bounce off the big red "S" and a big Kryptonian fist starts hurtling towards his face. Fortunately for him the fist was catching a ricochet.
In an early issue of Hellblazer, a bunch of racist skinheads get ready to beat up a hunched-over bald guy in a trenchcoat, thinking he was a homosexual. He turned out to be the demon Nergal, the first real Big Bad of the series. He brutally dismembers them before turning their remains into a singular monster, enslaved to his will.
One issue features a bunch of bikers harassing a piggish-looking good ol' boy while he is cruising down the open road. The good ol' boy turns out to be a demonic bounty hunter from Hell named Hoss, who promptly lights the bikers' heads on fire and forces their leader to crash and break his neck. When the leader agrees to serve Hoss in exchange for his life, Hoss takes the liberty of "altering" his body to suit his new position in life.
Hoss: Oh, and by the way, your new name's Buttview.
Similarly, when local police put the Scarecrow and Madcap in the drunk tank with a bunch of rowdy relatives in town for a wedding with the intention of scaring them straight... there were no survivors.
For that matter, there has been at least one instance of someone attempting to start something with a big guy in motorcycle leathers and a full-face helmet. Then he takes off the helmet.
In an issue from the 1970s series, Johnny Blaze is on a picnic date and the pair get accosted by a biker gang who earlier harassed him in the aftermath of his losing his title. They demanded his leather jacket and his motorcycle and his date pleaded with him to let them have the items, not wanting trouble. Already seething, he reluctantly gave in and they left. Just as his date was soothing his ego, the gang came back intent on now taking her. Big. Mistake.
In Marvel's Avengers, two thugs once tried to mug someone walking in Central Park at night. Someone wearing a trenchcoat and hat. It was The Vision.
Naturally, this has happened to Bruce Banner a few times. In one instance the Grey Hulk was nearly mugged, which is odd considering he's taller than most people and almost as wide.
The moment where Bruce Banner is nearly raped by two men in the shower of the YMCA takes the cake. It's an aversion, though, as when Banner threatens to turn into the Hulk, they doubt him but decide not to risk it.
Deadshot and Catman are discussing the potential Heel–Face Turn that Catman underwent in Africa when they enter a convenience store that is in the process of being robbed. They completely ignore the brandished weapons and pick up some cigarettes and ice-cream and even go to pay for their items, all the while being screamed at by the skinheads who are doing the robbing. After a little while, Deadshot takes a break from the conversation to easily disarm the skinhead behind him and then berates him for his amateurishness. As he explains, it is fine if the skinhead does not respect him, but he will damn well respect the gun. Deadshot gives the thug a few pointers (start the robbery by placing the gun against the victims head in order to give him a primal fear reaction, but then speak slowly and calmly in order to keep anybody from panicking and reacting, etc.) and then shoves his head through a glass case, taking out one of his eyes, as punishment. Of course, Deadshot then finishes the robbery, taking the cash from the register, to punish the store for "lax security precautions." After Catman and Deadshot leave they resume their previous conversation, but Deadshot immediately points out that Catman, despite what he may think, has not become a good guy. When Catman asks why, Deadshot points out that he just left several defenseless witnesses in the same room as a group of bloody and angry thugs who will be looking for vengeance and to cover their tracks after their humiliating fiasco of a robbery. Catman pauses for a moment, sighs, and walks back into the store.
In an issue of Detective Comics focusing on the origins of Kate Kane, the Post-CrisisBatwoman, Kate is on the phone to her girlfriend outside a bar when a thug with a pipe tries to take her for an easy mark. Unfortunately for the thug, he does not know that Kate was recently a student at West Point, where she was first in her class, and that she is in an extremely foul mood. Kate promptly beats the crap out of him, pointing out that he thought she was just a victim, but that she is a soldier. She is only prevented from really messing the guy up by the timely intervention of Batman, who had presumably intended to sweep in to save the socialite from the thug, only to find himself doing the opposite instead. With the fight essentially over, all that Batman can do is extend his hand to Kate before leaving to answer the Bat Signal.
In the Grasscutter arc, Gen finds the remains of a bandit gang who apparently tried to rob the demonic entity Jei. He comes upon a multitude of corpses strewn like so many broken dolls, their faces frozen in abject terror, their eyes wide and staring out into nothing in horror that is plain and striking even (or especially) with Stan Sakai's deceptively simplistic art style. Adding blood to the scene would have arguably detracted from it by, ironically, making it far more cartoonish.
When Usagi was still a student and traveling with his mentor Katsuichi, they were menaced by four thugs who demanded the food the two samurai were carrying. However, Katsuichi averts the trope by offering them the food. Still looking for trouble, the thugs take Usagi hostage and bring a Single-Stroke Battle on themselves.
In another aversion, Usagi once peaceably handed a bag he was carrying to a thief. He contented himself with a very easily-misunderstood Badass Boast:
Usagi: Nothing in here is worth a person's life. Here, take it.
A Running Gag with the poor pirates who always end up attacking the ship the Gauls are on. They most often end up punched a bit and their ship sinking. After a while, they'd rather sink the ship themselves to avoid the punchs.
Before the pirates even made an appearance, in Asterix and the Golden Sickle, Asterix and Obelix are traveling toward Lutetia and are attacked a few times by brigands or barbarians. The two Gauls don't even deign making a pause in their conversation and keep walking while they casually slap around the first group of muggers.
In one of the Street Fighter comics by UDON, this happens to some thugs and Chun Li.
At one point during his travels across the world, Ryu is challenged by a cocky Kushti wrestler. The fight isn't seen, but implicitly it doesn't end well for the wrestler.
A pervert mistook Supergirl for a prostitute, since she was naked at the time, having just woken up from her rocket, only to have his hand crushed and be slammed through a wall.
A guy groped Mary Marvel, and it took Supergirl to stop her from tearing him limb from limb.
Early in the year long Batman: No Man's Land storyline, there were a series of interludes starring a character called "The Punk". His M.O. was trying to steal supplies by threatening people with an empty gun. The twist was that all his intended victims knew that no one had any supplies, including bullets. The last of the stories was titled "The Punk and The Stranger;" it features the title idiot attempting to rob a strange, pale man in a purple raincoatwho seemed inordinately happy with everything. I think you can guess why this is the last "Punk" story.
A Wolverine solo adventure has a variation of this. A young woman was on a subway train with no-one else around besides a sleeping homeless man with a newspaper over his face. Two muggers approach her and attempt a routine mugging, then the homeless man wakes up, and you'll never guess who he turned out to be!
Another Wolverine comic had a street gang try to mug Sabretooth, he told them that they were hyenas. Then when one of them asked what that made him Sabretooth ripped his arm off and stated that he was a lion, who ate hyenas.
The above mention Sabretooth himself fell victim to a variation of this in an X-Men Unlimited issue. Spotting Jean Grey in the town he was, he attacks. When she telekinetically hurls a van onto Sabretooth, he flies through a wall, knocking unconscious a teen hiding behind it. Sabretooth tries to take the kid hostage to get Jean to surrender, but Jean calmly informs him that the very kid Sabes was holding is a powerful mutant and the reason she came to the town. The kid then wakes up and the proceeds to fry Victor's entire brain and nervous system beyond what his Healing Factor could immediately recover from
Birds of Prey: Many are the unfortunate (now dead) bikers who thought Lady Shiva would be an easy target.
In an issue, Spidey saw several gang-bangers with knives surrounding a short man in a trenchcoat and swung down to the rescue, his thought balloon going "I have to save that guy from being killed by those muggers!" When the man in question popped his adamantium claws, Spidey (in mid-swing) immediately shifted his internal monologue to "I have to save those muggers from being killed by Wolverine!"
Similarly, Wolverine and Spider-Man were both in a bar, in costume, having an intense argument. Just as they were about to start trading punches instead of words, a group of thugs burst through the door with weapons drawn, noticing the angry superheroes only after they're inside. Cue the thug in the back "Next time, I choose the place we rob."
You'd think a well-dressed businessman with a custom-made Italian suit and a Rolex would be a complete idiot to be alone in Central Park in the middle of the night, and that's exactly what a bunch of punks thought when they saw Thomas Fireheart there in another Spider-Man story. Little did they know, Fireheart was not only the CEO of Fireheart industries, he was the Puma, the mystical protector of his tribe. Still, he didn't even need to turn into the Puma to give them a good thrashing (and he did give them a fair warning first). Even wore, the reason he was there was to meet with Spidey to discuss a crisis, who showed up two minutes after the fight started; the punks had the sense to run for it then.
One example that didn't actually involve Spidey: His friend (more or less) Flash Thompson was on a date with Felicia Hardy in the park in one issue when three goons accosted them. At first, Flash didn't want any trouble, and gave them Felicia's purse (leading her - who was actually the Black Cat and dating him in order to get back at Peter for marrying Mary Jane - to think he was a coward for a brief moment). Then, however, one of the thugs tried to get fresh with Felicia, and that crossed the line for Flash; being an amateur boxer at the time, he beat them within an inch of their lives.
One unique example was a story where The Punisher was a guest star. After he parked his Battle Van in a rather bad neighborhood, a punk (who said to himself that you'd "have to be nuts" to park a custom van there) tried to rip the wheels off. Of course, its owner and Spidey were inside it, but they didn't even notice him; the van's security system gave him the shock of his life and sent him running, convinced that the van's owner was nuts.
On several occasions in 100 Bullets, people have tried to mug Lono. He either kills them on the spot or tracks them down later for some graphic on-panel fun.
Lucky Luke sometimes defeats random bandits. In one case, he travels through a mountain pass, casually disarming Indians and bandits while monologueing to his Cool Horse. When he arrives at his destination, he expresses surprise at being told there were bandits in that pass, and can't explain where the arrow in his hat came from. But then again, he is an Invincible Hero...
The Dutch cartoon Humor in Beroepen: Politie ("Humor in Jobs: Police") contains a number of "unlucky crook" tales. But the best one is about a crook whom first tries to rob an elderly lady and gets beaten into submission with an umbrella, then tries some car-jacking while the (very large) owner is standing behind him, and finally tries to rob a young lady only to be sent flying with a karate kick. In the last panel he is at the police station complaining that his neighborhood has gotten too dangerous.
The setup of FreakAngels is somewhere between this and Bullying a Dragon. The government obviously knows that the children are dangerous. That's why they are going after them, they're concerned they are a national security risk. But no-one, including the Freak Angels themselves, realize just how world-wreckingly dangerous they are.
There is a comic where a gang of thugs try to mug a blind man wearing a suit. It was Daredevil.
A group of muggers saw a depoweredThor and Enchantress and attacked them. They quickly defeated them while talking about how helpless they are. It should be noted that although Thor technically was depowered, he still was a six-foot-six five-hundred-pound mountain of muscle who had never been sick a day in his life. And he could still use his hammer. Not the kind of guy any sane mugger should mess with in the first place.
The Darkness: In an interesting variation, Jackie Estacado's Sidekick Wenders is threatened on two separate occasions for being openly gay. Wenders himself has no powers, but he is saved each time, first by the surprising ability of Darklings to leap out of his Cell phone and devour the muggers and the second time by everyone in the diner he was in spontaneously catching on fire.
Averted in Issue 173. A gang mugged Tony who didn't have his armor. If it weren't for the fact that he was drunk, he could have taken them down since he was trained by Captain America.
Played straight in a few other instances where people have tried to beat him up, whether because he's just some rich playboy who needs a bodyguardnote If his identity was a secret at the time., or because he's helpless without his armor. You'd think they'd learn.
This is a general trope for armor-wearing superheroes. People tend to think the armor does all the work. While the current Iron Man armor is lightweight, Tony had to spend years working in heavy armor, and he still performs the equivalent of Olympic gymnastic routines every time he fights a serious villain. Which is at least once a week. Not to mention that he was a soldier in the U.S. Army before he was Iron Man in the first place. (That's what caused the injury that made the first version of the armor necessary.) A great subversion of Clothes Make the Superman.
A would-be mugger once pulled a knife on a suspiciously large man wearing a trenchcoat and hat. He quickly turned tail and ran once he discovered that it was The Thing.
In an early chapter of Bone, Phoney Bone, lost in the Valley, decides to ask directions from the Great Red Dragon, a powerful being who is also the only thing that strikes fear in the hearts of the sinister rat creatures who are after him. He proceeds to ask for information in the most condescending way possible, insulting the dragon with every syllable, as the dragon gets more and more visibly irritated, with ever greater amounts of smoke rising from his nostrils. Luckily, Ted comes along and steers Phoney away before he's burnt to a cinder.
Mortadelo y Filemón's comic El Bacilón has the title character (a gigantic, anthropomorphic green monster) walk around the seedy parts of the city; a mugger targets him, but since he is waiting behind a corner, he only hears it walking. He becomes a Running Gag along the episode and eventually turns mad due to both the monster and Mortadelo disguised as a big animal.
In Garth Ennis's Preacher, Sheriff Root and his squad of heavily armed men, backed up by a helicopter, threaten the Saint of Killers, an invincible, immortal, merciless killing machine with a pair of revolvers that never run dry, never miss, and always kill. Needless to say, it ends badly for them.
A more intellectual variation occurs in an issue of JLA when Lex Luthor, highly successful billionaire business tycoon, launches a plan to cripple the JLA using non-criminal techniques from the business world. Unfortunately for Lex, he's completely ignorant that one of his adversaries is really Bruce Wayne, a highly successful billionaire business tycoon in his own right (and one who does it as a sideline). The art highlights this, showing Batman sitting at the computer with his cowl down, making it quite clear which persona is fighting this battle.
When Bruce Wayne was arrested during the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive arc, some skinheads decided to teach him a lesson. In a pitch black cell. It ends about as well as could be expected. Though it doesn't help his case as the lawyers try to portray it as Bruce beat these guys up for no reason and as proof he was a killer.
Near the end of Alan Moore's run on Miracleman, some kids bully Jonathan Bates at an orphanage until he can't take it anymore and unleashes his murderously psychotic superpowered alter-ego Kid Miracleman.
In one issue of Gen¹³, as Fairchild is walking along by the street, a group of guys decide to "invite her into their car", and when she turns them down they make it clear that they're not asking. Cue their shock as she drags the car behind her to the police station while they're trying to gun it in reverse.
Darkseid got mugged once when he visited Earth in disguise. He didn't really do anything to resist and just analyzed the whole experience, finding it rather interesting to be on the receiving end of this kind of behavior for a change.
Another one involving Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters: In a Mister Miracle issue, a mook tries to kidnap Big Barda in order to force Scott Free (Mr. Miracle's alter ego) to sign an insurance policy for his Mob Boss. After his wife tells him what happened, Scott asks her if the mook is OK. The mook is OK, but very afraid of the possibility of seeing Barda again.
In the first issue of Cerebus the Aardvark, someone makes the mistake of grabbing Cerebus's tail. He was bleeding pretty badly from the stump where Cerebus cut off his hand.
Guy Gardner in the New 52's Green Lantern Corps. A series of events results in him losing his power ring and landing in jail on Earth, where he's sexually harassed by his cellmate, who means to make Guy his prison bitch. The cellmate thinks Guy will be a pushover without his ring. Guy manages to beat the snot out of him without even looking in his direction.
X-23 is a teenage girl smaller than Wolverine. She turns up under the thumb of an abusive and controlling pimp named Zebra Daddy, who puts a hit out on her when one of her Johns commits suicide in the hotel room during a session and she flees the scene with Kiden Nixon. Laura is Logan's Opposite-Sex Clone/Daughter with all the same powers, and was raised from birth to be a Professional Killer. Guess what happens when she finally has enough and stands up to Zebra Daddy and his thugs.
Once in a while Diabolik or Eva are mugged by someone who doesn't know who they are. If Diabolik and Eva have no need to keep cover, the muggers will get summarily beat up or, if they're in a hurry, drugged up, assuming Diabolik won't draw out his knives and kill them on the spot.
A guy once tried to rape Karolina Dean of the Runaways when she was walking around alone at night. She literally lit his sorry ass up.
In one Knights of the Dinner Table story, Bob takes the Untouchable Trio's tendency to mistreat hirelings to a new low, declaring his intent to slap them around until they are psychologically broken and desperate for their master's approval. B.A. sets him up with an NPC hireling named "Skinny Stiltskin". When Bob pushes Skinny to the point of fighting back, B.A. describes him as a hulking brute who easily beats the tar out of Bob's character. When Bob protests, B.A. points out that Bob never asked for a description but merely assumed that Skinny's physique fit his name — in fact, he was exactly the opposite, like Little John from the Robin Hood stories.
All the way back from 1953, the cover of Crime Mysteries #10 gives a pretty literal and straightforward instance of this trope. A masked gangster tells a couple "Okay, folks - this is a stick-up!" What he can't see is that the couple are a werewolf and a vampire.
Werewolf: HAW! Watch that punk's face when we turn around! Vampire: Tee-hee!
Hunter Rose was mugged once when he went out for a stroll in an effort to cure his writer's block. Brutally killing the muggers was exactly what he needed.
In a Shout-Out to Terminator, Batman/Grendel II has Grendel Prime mugged by a biker gang as soon as he materialises in Gotham City. This meant he didn't have to go looking for transport and weapons.
In Shaman's Tears, a street gang attempts to mug Joshua Brand while he is meditating in Central Park. As Joshua has the power to call on the abilities of any animal, this ends badly for them.
Done on the cosmic scale in the Ultimate Marvel series "The Hunger". When 616 Galactus enters the Ultimate verse through a dimensional tear, Gah Lak Tus tries to consume him. The moment the swarm touches him, they immediately realize he is just as ravenous as they are and far more powerful. The swarm merges with Galactus and serves him as his new Heralds.
In I Feel Sick The Same Sickness that controlled Johnny the Homicidal Maniac which gave him his freedom from being caught for his murders tries to strike a similar deal to enslave Devi. Devi instead seals Sickness inside of herself and informs it that if it wants to be a part of her it has to be as much of a slave to her art as her and leaves it's eyes in a mason jar on her desks forcing it to watch her art. Then again she also beat the snot out of Johnny when he tried to kill her so perhaps it wasn't the best to try and claim her mind.
Subverted in an early Silver Surfer comic, where the titular alien was assaulted by a Mexican gang. Since he had no desire to fight them and knew that they couldn't actually hurt him, he figured the easiest thing to do was to simply play dead.
In one issue of The Thing, the titular hero has just announced his plans to build a youth center in Yancy Street. Just as he's leaving the press conference, he's approached by members of a local mob that he'd better "Grease a few wheels". The next panel is of the mugs lying all over the alley, with Ben chuckling at their sheer stupidity.
A Running Gag in the classic Paperinik stories (the ones from which Paperinik New Adventures is derived from): whoever is Paperinik's current enemy enters some place thinking it will be an easy victory, only to find out Paperinik got him to attack someone far beyond their ability to take. Examples include two cops trying to arrest Paperinik only to barge in the bedroom of the chief of the police and the Beagle Boys barging in what they believe is Paperinik's house to try and catch him unarmed only to find out it's the home of a member of the national American Football team who has some fellow national team players as guests. Then there are bandits from out of city who take on Paperinik expecting him to be just a buffoon with a ridiculous costume instead of Donald Duck armed with superhero gadgets and looking to vent some frustration on bandits...