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Analysis / Badass

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The below is a list of what Badass could be depending on the person and the situation.

Badass as "Cool, awesome"

The word "badass" is quite often used as yet another synonym to "cool, awesome, sweet, rad, etc". The usage can range from contexts overlapping with other uses listed on this page ("that stunt was badass", "this is a badass fight") to absolutely anything ("what a badass guitar solo", "that's a pretty badass car", "bro, your gran's embroidery looks fucking badass, man"). This is Not a Trope in itself, but we do maintain specific sections to list awesome characters and moments in fiction: see Gushing About Characters You Like and Moment of Awesome.

Badass as Fighter

Any competent warrior; from the best fighter in the universe to just any trained fighter. If fighting is required, it's best if you can handle it well enough to avoid embarrassing yourself. A Badass is a character that is known for their ability to fight and carry their own weight. If Alice can defeat three grown men attacking her at once, that's pretty impressive. However, she might be outclassed by the Badass characters who can defeat three hundred grown men at once.

Badass as Escapist Character

An idealization of the author or the audience. These characters are exceptionally brave, strong, skilled etc. Some might accuse them of being too perfect or powerful. A Marty Stu is basically an extreme badass. Quoting from the page, "He's an unstoppable fighter, a rogue agent, a fearless freedom fighter, a master of disguise." Also, quoted from the page, "devastatingly handsome (or if not, possessed of a strange, saturnine magnetism) and desired by all significant women".

Badass as Tough and Resilient

"The character stays strong despite pain and hazards due to strong willpower". This is where the Badass Pacifist comes from. They don't fight back but their opponent can't hurt them anyways. Determinator covers those characters who are renowned for their limitless willpower; Made of Iron for characters who can't be slowed down by physical injury and don't have an ability like Super Toughness.

Badass as Rule of Cool

This was the definition
we had for a while. This is a character who does improbable stunts because it is cool.

Typically, Badass will come down to presentation. Often, even supposedly "normal" badasses can pull off stunts that would be considered highly unlikely in real life, such as fighting off a dozen soldiers at once or shrugging off what should really be a fatal or incapacitating injury. However, many badasses are not limited to what would be passingly reasonable in real life, allowing all sorts of superpowers to come into the equation as necessary, or perhaps their appearance or role is drastically at odds with their ability, such as a little girl tossing adult men like rag dolls.


Badass as "Character who is formidable: inspiring awe and respect in allies, and fear in enemies".

The character gives an influence to the surrounding people which emphasizes how much of a big deal the person is. This can be achieved by being strong in general, being skilled, or achieving something great. See also The Ace, The Dreaded, Famed in Story, Hope Bringer, and Living Legend.

Badass as "Character who's very brave; 'got huge balls'".

The character, especially if driven with a purpose, will not waver even if facing a very big threat. They'll ignore pressure and stay calm and collected, or better yet, stay as happy-go-lucky as they usually are. See Brass Balls and Nerves of Steel. If the character is not competent enough to match their daring do, then they are a Darwin Award winner and a Fearless Fool.

Badass as stock character

The Other Wiki calls this kind of character the "hotshot" archetype. As quoted, this character is "known for taking more risks, action and pain than the other characters in the story." Their characteristics are listed as arrogance, abrasive manners, aggressiveness, a tendency to prefer to be alone even to the point of working alone, sometimes at odds with the group they are part of.

Badass as "Macho, stereotypically manly"

Many definitions above are often seen as "macho" as it is considered a good man's quality to behave/be like such. I Want to Be a Real Man is a desire to be seen as this; typically, the character will try to display "badass" qualities in order to qualify. Do note, however, that females are equally likely to display similar qualities. See Rated M for Manly. When it's exaggerated for parody, see Testosterone Poisoning.


Badass as "Character who constantly takes risks and prevails against unlikely odds"

The character always finds themselves in dangerous situations and uses all his abilities to come out safely, or even on top. They may draw themselves to it (being a Blood Knight, likes to be In Harm's Way, it is part of their quest or of their day job) or they may be drawn into it (they're being dragged by other people or circumstances). They tend to go beyond expectations. See We Do the Impossible; when this is done when they don't intend to, see Action Survivor, Badass Bystander, and Badass Unintentional. If they survive due to their luck, see Born Lucky.

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