The scenario usually goes that some random tough decides the too-clever-for-his-own good dark-haired gambler is winning far too much at poker and accuses him of cheating. The gambler's baby-faced blond partner then suggests that said accusation is taken back, the local tough declines the option and tells him to go for his gun. In the ensuing fast draw stand-off said gun is then pointed at the local tough before he has even had the chance to touch his own. Well done, you have just tried to draw against Kid Curry, the fastest gun in the west
The episode "Stagecoach Seven" opens with a particularly nice example of this. Steve Ihnat plays an arrogant jerk who decides to pick a fight with the amiable curly-haired fellow who happens to be Kid, with predictable results.
In the Babylon 5 episode "All Alone in the Night", a race of Inscrutable Aliens called the Streib have been abducting ships and experimenting on their crews. Unfortunately for them, one of the ships they attack belongs to Captain John Sheridan. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge by B5's fighter squadrons and the EAS Agamemnon. It's also stated they did this to the Minbari in the past, and as Delenn puts it, the Minbari "made sure they understood the depth of their mistake."
The series is built on this very trope. Joss Whedon has often stated that he felt sorry for that pretty, blonde girl in every horror movie who is inevitably monster food and wanted to make a movie (which later became this show) about letting her finally be the one to open up a can of whoop-ass on her attacker.
Announcing this switcheroo of intent, it opens with a pair of apparent high school students, a nefarious young man who lures a timid, helpless-looking, blonde girl into a darkened school building. Once he assures her they are completely alone, that no-one is going to catch them, she (Darla) turns on him and drinks his blood.
Faith is actually introduced this way. A vampire seemingly seduces her in a club, and Buffy follows them out to an alley, only to see Faith stake the vampire and walk off.
Played with in one season 6 episode, where Buffy rescues a woman from vampires... and holds back the lethal force at the last second when she realises the "vampires" are just ordinary muggers.
Buffy: But come on, rush me. It'll be funny.
In the season 3 episode "Beauty and the Beasts", a jealous, rage-fueled jock taking a homemade super serum tries to kill normally-scrawny Oz... just before dusk during the full moon. When that doesn't work, he then attempts to kill the interceding Buffy, even less aware of who he's facing than that rare vamp who doesn't recognize the Slayer. Surprisingly, he doesn't do too badly. Then Angel shows up.
Rogue Slayer Faith arrives in Los Angeles, homeless, broke, and shivering from the cold. A pimp at the bus station spies her predicament and tries to prey on her vulnerability in order to lure her into his employ. Cut to Faith leaving the station with his wallet full of cash, his leather jacket, and the keys to a flat whose owner won't be returning anytime soon. Bonus points are awarded for attacking him while his arms are trapped in his sleeves, as he attempts You Must Be Cold.
When Connor first arrives in Los Angeles, he finds a drug dealer and his henchmen brutalizing an addict who won't pay up. They tell him to leave, and when he won't, attack him. Of course, Connor is also known as The Destroyer in a hell dimension, and has spent his entire life hunting down demons we couldn't imagine...
In Las Vegas, two bouncers of a rather shady casino attack Angel. Cue vamp face.
And to complete the Whedonverse trifecta: In Firefly, a gang of thieves holds up a family in a wagon... unaware that they're our Big Damn Heroes in disguise. A crossdressing MalcolmReynolds utters the memorable line "If your hand touches metal, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you." Their hands touch metal. Mal's pretty floral bonnet remains clean.
The episode "The Big Wheel" of Criminal Minds had a pair of thugs trying to rob the episode's Serial Killer, an unstable obsessive-compulsive. The leader of the mugger duo gets knifed in the chest.
On the other hand, the serial killer is shot in the struggle and ultimately bleeds to death.
Munch and some of the other detectives are walking out of a bar after having had a few post-work drinks when they notice a youth loitering around them, clearly with the intent of getting some easy money from these easy targets. After first sniggering about the youth's obvious lack of intelligence, Munch brazenly walks up to the kid, flashes his badge and sneers "Yo, we're cops. Go mug someone else." This was based on a real incident that David Simon witnessed while following some detectives for the original book.
In another episode, in response to a series of murders of priests, members of the homicide unit are acting as decoys dressed as priests in various parts of town. Two youths accost Detective Munch at a bus stop.
Mugger: Hey Father, you know what time it is? Munch: (pulls out gun) It's Glock time, you son of a bitch.
"Terms of Endearment" involves a part-demon man who would extract the demonic fetuses of his wives before they could be born and reveal his secret. Until he tries it on one woman who wakes up during the extraction process. "I said, what are you doing, Wayne?" In the end, she escapes with the baby, and Mulder and Scully conclude that he finally found someone more evil than he.
Played with in the episode "Shadows", in which Lauren Tyte is a rather shy and pretty much harmless secretary who, due to various corporate malfeasances on the part of her weapons-manufacturer employer, is targeted by numerous assassins. Unfortunately, what these assassins don't know is that she's also being haunted by a very angry, very vengeful and very protective spirit who is a lot less harmless...
In Being Human, Owen is a scum of a man who murders Annie and, even after seeing her as a ghost, continues to hurt her going so far as to indirectly tell her that he cheated on her before her death while comfortingly holding his new girlfriend (and Annie's old friend). He believes that Annie can do nothing to him since she is shy and insecure. Until she digs up some courage and has George and Mitchell stand behind her. Suddenly, Owen finds himself confronted with a werewolf, a vampire, and his former fiancée who stare him down before Annie tells him "the secret only the dead know", which is apparently horrific. Sometime shortly after, Owen is incarcerated into the nut house.
In the pilot episode, a drug dealer named "Sugar" learns to his everlasting detriment that one does not mess with Michael Westen, no matter how much of a pushover Michael may look like.
In another episode a groups of Russian mercenaries are quite aware how dangerous Michael is and come prepared. However, they do not realize that the man they kidnap alongside Michael is actually an important business associate of one of the heads of the Russian Mafiya. No matter how things turn up they are royally screwed either way.
In a later episode, Fiona, currently imprisoned, sends Madeline to pick a package from a fellow inmate's ex (working out a favor). The ex, being a clear sadist, pushes Maddy against a wall and threatens to break her teeth if she ever comes back. Undaunted, Maddy comes back later. Only this time, Michaelis with her... and he's in a VERY bad mood.
This was toyed with in one episode: although both Dexter and the perp knew one another (he being a member of an escaped victim's gang), Dexter plays it off as an attempted mugging, leading to many trope-invoking comments from the other Miami PD.
Also in "Dex Takes a Holiday", Dexter focuses on Zoey Kruger, a police officer whose husband and child were killed. The blood evidence suggests that she may have actually murdered them and planted evidence to incriminate a known thief. She goes to kill Dexter (whom she sees only as a nosy blood guy) and plans to make it like he was killed in a house invasion. Little did she know that she was dealing with a Serial-Killer Killer.
It even happens among criminals. In "Swim Deep," Dexter attempts to set Isaak Sirko, a Ukranian mobster, up to get killed in a Colombian mob bar. Dexter gets called back to the scene of the crime, expecting to see Isaak's corpse. The actual result: three dead Colombian mobsters.
This is a regular occurrence on Grimm. Wesen look like regular humans until they woge into their natural form so frequently a criminal will end up missing an arm or a head before he knows what hit him. In one instance a mugger makes the mistake of trying to rob a harmless looking elderly lady who also happens to be a legendary criminal killing monster. In turn, many Wesen were in for a rough surprise when they attack Nick, an average looking police detective, and discover that he is a Grimm, the boogieman Wesen mothers scare their children with. Since Wesen can't normally spot whether someone is a human or an unwogen Wesen, you sometimes also get situations where a Wesen finds out that he just attacked another, much more powerful Wesen. In one case, a nigh-immortal Wesen comes out of the ground only once every seven years to party and find a fat person to feed on for the next seven years. This time, he picks up an overweight woman, kills her boyfriend, takes her to his park, and knocks her out. Then Nick, Hank, and Wu show up, but the Wesen overpowers all three. Then a larger Wesen appears from behind and bites his head off. Whoops. Probably shouldn't have hit her on the head so hard.
Happens in full hilarity because viewers know just how poorly it's going to go in "Blind Love" for The person who tries to get at Sean by kidnapping Diana. Made even more funny by Sean starting to panic, before he realises that it isn't his daughter who's going to need the rescuing.
The A-plot of the same episode is also an example; a Wesen wants revenge on Nick for arresting his father, which happened prior to Nick discovering his powers. He's very surprised to discover Nick's friends are Wesen, and goes to his death without ever learning Nick is a Grimm. Hank observes that if he had known that, he probably wouldn't have tried anything.
In an episode of MacGyver, a bunch of thugs try to mug the Woobie of the Week, a mentally unstable veteran with a wrestler's physique. Lampshaded by the would-be victim: "Are you crazy? I could have torn your head off!"
Similar to the Terminator example, the three protagonists teleport to the future and arrive naked. Three street thugs confront the naked hot girl Cameron, who turns out to be a powerful robot. She beats them up and steals their clothes.
Later on, the leader of an organized crime group threatens the Connors by saying he's got an assassin watching Sarah's children and, if they don't comply with his demands, will have them both kidnapped/killed. Unfortunately for both the crime boss and his luckless assassin, they have no idea that one of Sarah's "children" is Cameron, and she is far better at spotting lurking threats than the assassin. The next scene we see of Cameron has her nonchalantly stuffing the assassin's brutalized corpse in the trunk of his car. Lampshaded by Derek, who amusedly points out that the assassin has no idea what he's walking into.
The gangsters then decide to simply wipe out the whole Connor family. It isn't as effortless as the usual example, but it still ends up with dead gangsters.
In another case, a group of apparent Yakuza try to con Sarah out of a large sum of money. Faced with a gun-wielding and furious Sarah and Cameron, they quickly save their lives by admitting that they were just amateur con artists pretending to be gangsters.
Then in the final episode, an ordinary Terminator attempts to kill Weaver, not realising that it's attacking an almost indestructible liquid-metal Terminator. She destroys it within seconds with minimal effort.
In an episode of Charmed, Piper and some mythical Valkyries are cornered by a biker gang after arriving on Earth. The next scene shows the bikers Bound and Gagged, with the female members of the group stripped of their clothes so that the Valkyries can use them to blend in.
In the Doctor Who story "Silver Nemesis", a pair of men try to mug the time-traveling 17th century villain Lady Peinforte and her criminal servant Richard. The next time we see the men, they're hanging by their ankles from a tree, Bound and Gagged, in only their underpants as their clothes burn in a pile beneath them. The expression on Richard's face when the robber demands money and pulls a knife on him is actually quite charming. After a long time being a Fish out of Temporal Water, he's finally encountered a situation he understands.
From 1000 Ways to Die, a mugger tries to rob a sweet, friendly-looking old woman... who happens to be a fifth degree black belt and has been practicing for most of her life. Needless to say, it's a Curb-Stomp Battle, and ends with the old lady punching the mugger in the throat, crushing his larynx with his Adam's apple. Crowning Moment of Awesome also applies. Also from this show, a rapist attacks a crossdresser, who happens to be a champion boxer. "I ain't NO lady!" Cue the rapist on the asphalt in the alley and dead.
In the episode "Blowback", Ziva and McGee are out on an Op when three punks try to sexually harrass Ziva. As in, a lady who used to kill terrorists for a living.
In another case a hitman is hired to kidnap Abby. By the time Gibbs and Tony find them, Abby has subdued him with her taser. Some fans would argue that the taser is merely keeping him subdued, and that the initial whooping is delivered with the item in her other hand: a set of brass knuckles.
In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Memento Mori", Vala, an intergalactic con artist and mercenary, loses her memory and settles into a "life" as a diner waitress in a small town. Two armed thugs decide to rob from everybody there. Vala knocks one of them unconscious and holds one of their weapons against another one's head without breaking a sweat (as the detective questioning her puts it).
In the Farscape episode "I-Yensch, You-Yensch", a couple of petty crooks try to rob a bar and grill where Scorpius, Braca, D'Argo, and Rygel are attempting to engage in tense negotiations. However the crooks' incompetence ends up making the situation even more dangerous and volatile, despite how superior the regulars are to them.
Human Target introduces Baptiste, notorious talented assassin for hire, by having a mugger ask for his wallet and watch. Baptiste takes the mugger's gun, removes the clip in about half a second, hands it back, and tells the mugger to run along. Even worse than that: Baptiste doesn't even take it out of the mugger's hands. He just waits until he is distracted by something then dismantles the gun in a fraction of a second by hitting the magazine release, the slide release, and pulling the slide off. He does this so fast it looks like he just touched the gun and it fell apart on it's own.
In Volume Five, a Rabid Cop locks the door of an interrogation room, disconnects the camera, and threatens to beat a murder confession out of his rather mild-mannered suspect. Too bad for him the suspect in question is Sylar (currently suffering Laser-Guided Amnesia, which is why he's so mild-mannered), who instinctively uses his telekinesis to toss the cop through the room's one-way mirror.
A pair of muggers target Mohinder after he injects himself with a Super Serum.
In Boardwalk Empire, a pair of low-grade messenger boys for a local crime boss try to mug Jimmy Darmody (Jimmy's a World War Ivet, has been The Dragon in two different major mobs already, is a ruthless personal friend of Al Capone, etc.) when he's coming out of a poker game a few bucks richer. Jimmy kills both of the gunmen with his combat knife and bare hands.
Also happens with Nucky Thompson. He discovers someone is robbing him of his goods. At first, he thinks it's one of his many enemies, instead, he finds out it's a young man by himself. During the whole episode, it seems like the young man is winning Nucky Thompson over and eventually asks to join his crew. Instead, Thompson kills him when the guy doesn't see it coming. Thompson also does this as a warning to one of his men.
This occurs on Leverage when a Loan Shark targets Nate's favorite bar. Nate's father was also a loan shark, making things worse.
On an early episode, a few guys get a bit aggressive when flirting with Zoey Bartlet and promptly end up arrested by the Secret Service after Josh presses the panic button on Zoey's keychain.
Josh: Yeah. You guys donít realize it, but youíre having a pretty bad night.
Another example is when Simon Donovan, a Secret Service agent walks into an armed robbery in a convenience store and whups the robber's ass. Subverted when the robber's unseen accomplice shoots Donovan and kills him.
The pilot of Person of Interest. Some wannabe toughs start hassling a hobo on a New York subway. When one gets rough, the hobo, a Special Forces-trained ex-CIA operative named John Reese, takes them down with alarming rapidity.
Supernatural: A random passerby, while texting, brushes the tall, cadaverous man in black, then has the nerve to tell him to watch where he's going. The passerby walks a little bit further, than abruptly drops dead. Nice job provoking Death, dumbass.
Many a random criminal has tried to steal or damage KITT, who looks like a cool but normal car, but is actually both sentient and super tough. KITT's responses range from snapping at the crooks for disturbing him to deliberately freaking them out, to simply sitting there and confusing them with his invulnerability to all their attacks.
The first episode merits a mention: KITT's sentience is introduced when Micheal drives him up to a convenience store and leaves him unlocked, with the keys in the ignition. A pair of crooks see an opportunity, get in, and drive off, pleased with themselves — until they realize they aren't steering. KITT leaves them at the police station, and then goes back and berates Micheal for being an idiot.
This is Omar's occupation as a stickup boy, someone who robs drugs dealers and other criminals. Even the top dog, most ruthless drug empires in the city are just another target for Omar. How long and how openly he's been doing this speaks volumes about him.
Asst. State's Attorney Ilene Nathan: What is it you do for a living, Mr. Little? Omar: I rip and run. [Sees the looks of confusion in the court] I robs drug dealers. Ilene Nathan: And exactly how long has this been your occupation, Mr. Little? Omar: Oh, I don't know exactly... I venture to say about 8 or 9 years, thereabouts. Ilene Nathan: Mr Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for 8 or 9 years and live to tell about it? Omar: [Shrugs and smiles] Day at a time, I suppose.
In the Series 4 finale, Arthur, Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde are trying to escape from Agravaine in a series of tunnels. Merlin doubles back, intending to lead them away, but gets cornered. He tries to convince them to leave him alone, but Agravaine decides to kill him anyway. Left with no other choice, Merlin uses his magic to defend himself, and kills all but one of the men in an instant with a flick of his eyes. The surviving man dies less than two minutes later, again by Merlin.
This actually happens to Merlin a lot, as in this version of the legend he's a peasant teenager who often goes unarmed. By Series 5, he's grown so tired of this that when a group of bandits tries to mug him and his companion, he just tells them to back off and sends their leader flying when they don't comply. Give them credit, though, they're Genre Savvy enough to get out of there once they realize who they're up against.
The Torchwood episode "Sleeper" had two men attempt a home invasion on a nice young couple. The wife turned out, unknown even to herself, to be an alien sleeper agent sent to prepare for a planetary invasion. The burglars didn't survive.
In one episode of Covert Affairs, some Somali pirates just happen to capture and hold for ransom Auggie, a brilliant CIA agent on vacation... who's hampered only by the fact that he's trying to avoid blowing his cover.
On the Fringe episode "The Human Kind" two highwaymen kidnap Olivia, quickly learn that she's a fugitive, and attempt to turn her over to the Observers for a bounty. They don't seem to know the details of why there's such a big bounty on her, and they don't keep watch on her and... it ends badly for them.
An episode of Hawaii Five-0 starts off with Steve McGarret picnicking with his girlfriend in his car... and a mugger shows up, trying to carjack them at gunpoint. Smash Cut to an annoyed McGarret dragging the scum to the police station — after ripping off his nose ring. The sergeant welcoming them, good ol' Duke a.k.a. the guy who gets to watch Five-0 in action all the time, finds this very funny, and comments to the perp that he picked the wrong guy.
"The Devil is Not Mocked", a story on Night Gallery set in Transylvania had an SS unit hunting partisans invade a castle that turned out to be Count Dracula's stronghold. 'Nuff said.
The Seinfeld episode "The Opera" has Elaine's ex "Crazy" Joe Davola attending Pagliacci dressed as the titular clown. A group of punks surround Davola and begin to threaten him, only for Davola to wipe the floor with them.
An episode opens with Barry being mugged at gunpoint immediately after getting coffee. After being utterly baffled by Barry's cheerful amusement at being targeted, the mugger finds himself disarmed, stripped to his underwear and suddenly standing in front of a cop.
A later episode sees a homeless youth being targeted by a pair of muggers, only for it to turn out that it's Ronnie, and he not only survived the explosion of the particle accelerator, but was empowered by it.
In season four, this happens to Barry and Ralph (just starting out as Elongated Man). Barry sees this as the perfect chance for some on-the-job training - until the mugger loses patience and shoots Ralph, whose rubbery body deflects the bullet into the mugger.
iZombie: Liv is a waifish medical examiner who can't help joining in the police investigation and confronting the killers. She is also a zombie, and on this show, that means a Healing Factor, superhuman strength, and other benefits. In the pilot, she rode on top of a fleeing murderer's car, got shot, grabbed the steering wheel through the windshield, forced him to drive into a tree, and walked away. Other encounters with people who underestimate her have gone little better for them.
In the third season of Orphan Black some gangsters decide to try to force Donnie and Alison to continue dealing drugs for them, by threatening to kill their children. Unfortunately, "Alison" is actually her clone-sister Helena in disguise, and Helena is a highly-skilled assassin with no qualms about killing people and a huge Berserk Button about children being threatened or harmed. She pushes Donnie out of the building, slams the door, and comes out a few minutes later soaked in the gangsters' blood.
The New Avengers: In "Dead Men are Dangerous", a mugger attempts to mug a ex-spy and trained killer. The spy slams him around and then recruits him as a henchman.
Fallen Angels. In "Tomorrow I Die", adapted from a short story by Mickey Spillane, the protagonist played by Bill Pullman is taken hostage by a gang of robbers who mistake him for a local politician. Turns out he's actually a Professional Killer when he produces twospring-loaded derringers and guns down the criminals. And the remaining hostages so he can take the loot for himself.
One Step Beyond has an interesting version. In "The Burning Girl", Alice is a quiet, put-upon young woman accused of starting fires and getting into (sexual) trouble. Fires do start when she's around, but not the way people think, and she doesn't remember what happens. It's only after a row with her aunt and a near-rape by a local that the truth of her pyrokinetic abilities comes out.
In Penny Dreadful, the Putney family, who run a waxworks, unknowingly employ Frankenstein's Monster, thinking he's just a deformed man. They seem to accept and make friends with him, but are actually plotting to imprison him and use him as the first exhibit in an abusive freakshow. Unfortunately, he's strong enough to rip the bars of his cell out of the walls and floor without breaking a sweat, and then kill Mr. and Mrs. Putney in seconds, leaving their equally evil daughter as a blind orphan standing over her parents' corpses.
The Cold Open of the first episode of Cleverman has four drunk hooligans sexually harassing a young woman on a late-night bus, only for her to turn out to be a superpowered Hairy Person, slash the face of one of them, and terrify the others.
In Murder Most Horrid a bank robber takes a hairdresser hostage and forces her to drive him to safety in her own car with her murdered husband in the boot, which the ending strongly implies the bank robber will be convicted over.
Iron Fist (2017): Colleen Wing is ambushed by four people, she easily fights them off... and then it turns out they were her students, and this was a field exercise. She gives them a severe tongue-lashing for failing. This serves as foreshadowing for later revelations. Most kendo classes don't teach stealth-ambush and pursuit tactics.