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Crouching Moron Hidden Badass / Literature

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  • Accel World: By Word of God, Haru was written as "weak on the outside, strong on the inside" in order to be the exact opposite of Kirito from the author's previous series Sword Art Online (who is The Ace in normal situations, but prone to breaking under emotional pressure). Haru is short, fat, has low self-esteem, and his avatar Silver Crow gained the power of Flight as a manifestation of his desire to escape from bullies... but he's only meek when it comes to his own problems. If someone threatens his friends, he'll come down on them like a hawk made of lightning.
  • A Practical Guide To Evil has two examples:
    • Kairos Theodosian, Tyrant of Helike. At first he just looks like some kind of insane Royal Brat in the mold of a Joffrey Baratheon. It takes him less than a chapter to show how he earned his name. And, he keeps his foot on the accelerator. His cackling font of ostentatiously Classic Evil is quite deliberately hiding a metric tonne of meta-awareness under all that ham. For starters, he's actively using his appearance of being "just another nutso Tyrant" to hide the extent of what he's capable of not just from the Calamities, but the Wandering Bard as well. Every hard-core, very nasty trick he's pulled has been a shell game used to attain goals beyond the obvious ones, yet others have been slow to realize this thanks to the show he makes of juggling obvious villain balls.
    • Almorava of Smyrna, The Wandering Bard. An Ashuran hero who joins The Lone Swordsman's party before the rebellion begins in southern Callow. Ridiculously dressed, constantly throwing back enough alcohol to kill a herd of livestock and a less-than-competent musician and singer, The Bard at first appears to be little more than comic relief. The jury's still out on how much of her silliness is an act, but there's certainly more to Almorava of Smyrna than meets the eye. She has the Genre Savvy that is the hallmark of her profession, with an understanding of the workings of fate rivaled only by the Black Knight. She has a tendency to appear (literally) whenever anything particularly plot-relevant is going on; no matter how much violence is directed her way she always manages to escape just in time; she seems to know intimate details of events she should be far too young to have witnessed and if nothing else, her liver must be superhuman. The epilogue of Book 2 reveals that The Wandering Bard is actually some kind of body-hopping immortal entity that has lived since long before elves arrived on Calernia. The precise nature of this entity is still mysterious but it seems to always exist as a storytelling-based Name and although it switches bodies and identities it retains all of it's memories. It's also apparently scary enough to bully the Forever King. At the conclusion of Book 2 Almorava of Smyrna dies (apparently of alcohol poisoning) and the name passes on to a new host named Aoede of Nicae.
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  • The novel Armor by John Steakley follows two storylines set about five years apart, with the earlier one framed by the discovery of the Powered Armor used by the earlier protagonist on a distant, non-wartorn colony in a crashed escape pod. The armor's owner, Felix, is quite literally an unstoppable killing machine: in a war where no one has survived more than ten major missions, armor notwithstanding, Felix makes it through over twenty before being killed by another human soldier. Meanwhile, in the present-day, a rebellion is brewing right underneath the nose of the colony's drunken, dimwitted owner, Lewis, causing great consternation to the present-day protagonist...especially when it breaks into open war and a nearby space pirate decides to capitalize on the situation. With a military grade dreadnought. Fortunately, Lewis is Felix, lying low and enjoying life. At least, until he decides to save his colony by putting his armor back on, slaughtering an army's worth of pirates, and then takes down the dreadnought with his bare damn hands.
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  • Somewhat of a subverted trope, but Orion in Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex. During the penultimate scene, Artemis realizes that his brains are useless and uses electricity to switch back to Orion. As Holly states, "Artemis can't shoot." But Orion can.
  • The Belgariad and Malloreon have several of these and several subversions. Played straight with Silk who normally plays the thief/rogue member of the cast, but in the Malloreon when Bethra is murdered, he tortures the killer into revealing who hired him and then proceeds to assassinate half the family before being stopped by his companions. Later, when the Dagashi assassin Brill pisses him off at Rak Cthol, he beats the hell out of him and kicks him off the mountain. He then coolly informs Belgarath that Brill was learning how to fly, and not all that successfully. Also in the same series, when Belgarath gets pissed he has been known to destroy entire mountains and also buries Zedar, who betrayed him and his master, alive, forever – the horror here coming from the fact that Zedar is effectively immortal and no wizard can undo what another wizard has done, so Zedar will be entombed in solid stone for all eternity. He likes to let the world think he is a Dirty Old Man, and he likes to make remarks of his time with the fully female Dryad race and of the very open-minded Marag women. He also tends to become badass when his family is threatened.
    • Brill himself also counts. For the first two books he appears to be a footpad and hired thugh for Asharak, the starter villain. He's easily evaded by the cast, and the only remarkable thing about him seems to be his ability to catch up with them. And then in book three he reveals that he's a freaking ninja. And that Asharak was probably working for him and not the other way around. This culminates in his battle with Silk, which is pretty epic for both combatants.
  • The Acts of Caine: Blade of Tyshalle: Orbek Black Knife. The irony lies in that Caine originally targeted Orbek first when breaking up Orbek's old gang because he thought the young ogrillo was the gang's weakest point.
  • Benjamin Burrow from Chronicles Of Magic is a timid, ignorant boy who has never even held a kitchen knife because his mother forbade it— but by the end, he is welding a sword.
  • Nick Moss of City of Devils and its sequels, Fifty Feet of Trouble and Wolfman Confidential is a nervous little man... who was a decorated paratrooper in WWII and survived eight years of being hunted by every kind of monster.
  • The Codex Alera series gives us the slave Fade. He's not just a moron, he's obviously severely brain-damaged, and is generally not much good for anything but some minor blacksmithing. Except that he's actually a legendary swordsman believed dead by the rest of the country, and he will miss you up bad if given a reason to do so. He's also much, much smarter than he acts, and the only reason he's acting as a slave is to keep an eye on Tavi.
  • The Culture is normally regarded as being hedonistic and extremely eccentric by most members of the galactic community. This doesn't just include the biological citizens, but the godlike AI's with 6 figure IQ's, and almost every single one of their starships are like this too. Most non-Culture sentients consider it strange that the Minds can be bothered to care about beings so intellectually below them. Similarly, a lot of starships give themselves silly / ironic names, and are often fully developed personalities. Despite this apparently goofy, peaceful image, if you threaten the lives of the Culture's citizens, pray that they only declare war on you. You WILL lose, but are most likely to be killed in a swift and conventional way. If not, then you can look forward to being killed in the most obscenely painful manner possible.
    • "Do Not Fuck With The Culture".
    • And you know you're completely fucked when you've attracted the attention of Special Circumstances. Completely fucked. You'll be lucky if they don't just destroy your entire civilization from the inside out and re-make it.
      • That includes any of their happy-go-lucky agents.
    • Just to add, do not ever try to pull one over on a Mind. Especially the Eccentrics (Grey Area, anyone?)
  • Eddie Dean in The Dark Tower is a washed-up cynical junkie loser when he first falls into Midworld, and seemingly dependent upon the Last Gunslinger for basic survival. He reveals himself to be a talented gunfighter when provoked.
  • The character of Alfred from The Death Gate Cycle, written by Weis & Hickman, is an over the top example of this trope. He first appears as a stumbling, clumsy butler, but in dire circumstances, at times off-screen, he is the pinnacle of his wizarding tradition and can perform miracles in Functional Magic up to and including resurrecting the dead, the right way, whereas other mages can do so only by draining the life of another being of the same race, somewhere in the multiverse. Of course, a lot of people want to get hold of Alfred for his magical prowess. Problem is, he doesn't remember how he pulls his magic off, pulling a complete black-out, more than often enough accompanied by an undignified fainting. It eventually turns out that he originally just used Obfuscating Stupidity to avoid revealing his powers to the world – but over time, it became so in-grown that he practically forgot how to use his powers at all.
    • In the same series, a character named Zifnab appears to be a senile old man who can't remember the color of his own robe. He is later discovered to be one of the oldest living beings in the universe. Although he is afflicted with Alzheimer's, he is questionably the most powerful magician in the series, complete with his own pet dragon.
  • From the Discworld series:
    • In Maskerade, there's Walter Plinge, who pulls a double Homage to Michael Crawford by being a bumbling Frank Spencer clone who badasses into the suave Opera Ghost by putting a mask on.
    • Lords and Ladies – When Lancre is under siege by elves, perpetual milquetoast Magrat gets her Hidden Badass moment after she dons the war armor of Queen Ynci the Short-Tempered. She then proceeds to kick elvish ass (including shooting a crossbow through a keyhole) and ride off for a showdown with the Queen of the Elves. Near the end of the novel, we learn that Queen Ynci was a fictional creation of a former Lancre monarch.
      • Magrat isn't a "moron," but she is usually timid and woefully naïve.
      • Also in the volume before that, Witches Abroad, where two scary snake-women look upon shy Magrat as some kind of small furry animal, but when they corner her they find out to their cost that the small furry animal she resembles is a mongoose.
    • Men at Arms – Detritus, a particularly dumb troll, becomes temporarily hyper-intelligent when he's locked in a cold room and his silicon brain starts super-conducting.
    • A.E. Pessimal from Thud! has his badassness hidden so deep that even Vetinari himself is completely surprised and confused when he hears Pessimal attacked a troll. With his teeth.
    • Meanwhile Cheeri turns out to be be surprisingly athletic in Feet of Clay taking a number of chips out of the king golem (which is more than most people could manage), although to no real effect.
    • A constant example given are the wizards; Seen one way, they are rather large, simple minded men who like big dinners and tend to argue with each other, with a tendency to regard the end of the world as a minor curiosity. In another light, they are an elite group of men who are given quite a bit of leeway in return for consistently and conscientiously refraining from causing the laws of causality and physics to metaphorically do handstands and jump through hoops. It's not difficult at all to refrain from turning people into small amphibians when you can't, but it's much much harder when you know exactly how easy it is. On top of that, the natural number of wizards is one, and the arguments they have are harmless ways of expressing that, rather than, as it was in the past, all out thaumonuclear war. There are places on the Disc where the wizards weren't quite so harmless and simple minded; grass may never grow there again and you're lucky to leave one the same shape as you went in.
      • Sourcery states that historically the plural of "wizard" has been "war". And while UU has sufficed to largely sublimate the natural tendency of wizards to leave large smoking craters in the landscape in favor of petty arguments about who took the last macaroon, occasionally the faculty will decide to work more or less together, and when they do they are indeed a potent force.
      • Ridcully in particular takes this a step further, for while most wizards are surprisingly fit despite their size, he's quite capable of delivering a knockout blow, well grounded enough to save a man's life, and firm minded enough to invite Susan (while she's being Death's stand-in) to breakfast.
    • Lieutenant Blouse from Monstrous Regiment. Oh, he's just as useless at fighting as he appears from the start, but he's also able to reverse-engineer the enemy communication system and throw wrenches in their operations - he's basically an intelligence agent when his own army has yet to develop such a concept.
  • Telnan, introduced in the Dragaera novel Dzur may carry a terrifying soul-destroying Empathic Weapon, but he's a cheerful, ditzy guy, and not too bright. However, he still very much fits the Proud Warrior Race Guy and Blood Knight credentials of the Dzur, and he's somewhat more competent than he initially seems.
  • Then of course there's the absent-minded, bumbling elderly mage Fizban, from Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance series. Though occasionally his spells prove useful, this is mostly by accident. Later you learn the truth: he's actually the God the protagonists are fighting to bring back...
  • Title character Harry of The Dresden Files, to those who do not know who he is and what he is capable of. He tends to utilise this and a constant stream of sarcasm to pull Obfuscating Stupidity on his opponents, many of whom are in strict terms far out of his weight class.
    • People consistently underestimate him, or are utterly terrified of him. You kidnap his girlfriend, he'll destroy you and your servants horribly, starting a war in the process. Take his daughter, and he will commit genocide .
    • This is really brought home in a short story set after "Changes," where Karrin Murphy, Harry's long time close friend, describes him (paraphrased):
      • Harry looks like an awkward nerd, most of the time, taking extra care to avoid running into someone, speaking mildly to put people at ease. Then, he notices something, his quick eyes note it and he investigates. But, when things get dangerous, his voice becomes deeper, commanding. And he starts throwing fire and lightning around as if they were his personal playthings. Quirky nerd, gone. Terrifying icon, present. When you see this, you see the next evolutionary step, and it's scary. I had come to terms with this. Not many ever would.
    • In his first appearance, Mort the ectomancer had been seriously letting his talents atrophy, and even when he gets his act together later, he's quite adamantly not a fighter. Because of this, while Harry says repeatedly that Mort has a huge amount of power in his field, we don't really see him doing a lot with it. And then along comes Ghost Story, and... we do. Perhaps most notably, toward the end Corpsetaker kidnaps him and trusses him up over a pit full of minions, only to realize a little too late that leaving someone with the power to control ghosts dangling above a small army of crazed, murderous spirits was a terminally bad idea.
    • Harry's dog Mouse, though the "moron" is all Obfuscating Stupidity. Mouse plays Dumb Big Friendly Dog as hard has he can, both to make people comfortable and because people like big friendly dogs, and give them bellyrubs and treats. However, when the gloves come off, he has gone toe to toe with high-ranking Fae, fallen angels and crazed vampires, and walked away without so much as a scratch. It's outright stated that Mouse is orders of magnitude more powerful than Harry (who is the most powerful wizard in his generation), and significantly more intelligent, to the point that Mouse considers Harry to be his familiar, rather than the other way around.
    • Butters, starting in "Dead Beat", and going Up to Eleven by "Skin Game"

  • The North Polar Bear in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Father Christmas Letters is normally bumbling and cheerful ... until the goblins attack. Then watch him Hulk Out.
  • Lovable the raven, from the Firekeeper series, is described as a "bubble head" and has a love for anything shiny. This is in stark contrast to her far more serious mate, Bitter. However, in the fifth book, Wolf Hunting, when Bitter and Lovable are ensnared by magic vines that can kill their victims, Lovable forgoes her shot at escape to stay and keep the vines from getting Bitter completely. She manages this for quite some time until help arrives and is the only reason that help wasn't too late for Bitter.
  • Lubber the dog in the Dick King-Smith novel Find the White Horse is often presented as lazy, but when pushed he manages to single-handedly hold off a whole hunting-party of hounds who had been chasing his love interest Coleen after they mistook her for a fox (the narrative does note that he would have lost if the human hunters hadn't called the other dogs off, but the fact that he held his own for any length of time against the numbers implied shouldn't be overlooked).
  • Fraser pulls it again in the Flashman series, with Flashman's wife Elspeth. Flashman regards her as a dunce, and she certainly seems shallow and vapid, but in Flashman's Lady and even more in the The Subtleties of Baccarat, she proves to be a vicious little minx that you trifle with at your peril. Irony is that Flashman never figures this out, even though he's usually so perspicacious about others' strengths and weaknesses, and he's married to her for sixty years.
    • Flashy himself is a subversion: He is The Big Guy, strong for his size, a good swordsman, excellent lancer, and recognized by Arabs and Apache alike as a horseman without peer... but an abject Dirty Coward of the first water. With his back to the wall, he fights like a wounded tomcat, but he will most likely be over the wall with your valuables and girlfriend long before it comes to that.
  • Dax from Greystone Valley is introduced as a crazy old man who does nothing but complain and possibly eats bugs. Then it comes time to break out of a dungeon, and it turns out he can hold off a veritable army on monsters single-handedly.
  • Harry Potter:
    The prophecy nominating Harry as "the chosen one" easily applied to Neville as well. The fan meme is, "Neville is the Boy-That-Could-Have-Been-But-Did-Anyway."
    • Let's face it; this trope could easily be renamed "The Neville."
    • Luna "Loony" Lovegood may act like she ain't playing with a full deck, but when it comes down to an actual battle... watch yourself. She participates in several battles, but the only time she gets injured the entire series is when a door gets blown off its hinges into her face and she flies across the room.
    • Even Ron a few times if one takes into account how much he detests studying.
    • And Umbridge, in the reverse. Basically, a Hidden Moron, Crouching Badass.
    • Vain, old, fat Professor Slughorn. He fights Voldemort head on in the final battle in Deathly Hallows.
    • Sybil Trelawney was almost a complete joke from the moment she was introduced. During the final battle, she utilized an extremely basic levitation spell and a crystal ball to take out the most dangerous werewolf of the time.
    • Wormtail. As extremely average as his teachers and his peers thought he was; he was capable of the Animagus transformation as a child which is one of the most difficult and complicated pieces of magic that there is, levelled an entire street with a single curse, faked his own death for decades and then was instrumental in resurrecting Lord Voldemort.
  • Fishlegs from the How to Train Your Dragon series. He's described as looking like a 'stick-insect with asthma, eczema, and the face of a fish', and doesn't really like adventuring. However.....Fishlegs happens to be a Berserk, one of the wildest and most respected types of Viking.
  • Johanna Mason's whole strategy for winning in The Hunger Games, and it worked like gangbusters. She pretended to be a complete non-threat to the other tributes so they just left her alone until there were only a handful left. Then she whipped out that axe...
  • The Infernal Devices:
    • Jessamine, who despite trying all she can to be The Load can't deny her Shadowhunter heritage.
    • Bridget. She's just a cook and someone who makes depressing poetry/songs, yet is arguably the best fighter who isn't of supernatural(werewolf, vampire, etc.). Even Will got stunned.
  • The wizard Schmendrick of The Last Unicorn is, at times, capable of awe-inspiring magic...the trouble is, he can hardly ever get it to work, and usually it doesn't do what he expected. But he gets it under control in the end.
  • Zhong Botong, the Old Urchin from The Legend of the Condor Heroes. He's a very old man who behaves like a little kid, throwing tantrums at the most absurd things and enjoying causing confusion. When it comes to kung fu, however, run for your life: by the end, he's among the top five martial artists in the world.
  • The Clutch Turtles from Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's Liaden Universe aren't really morons per se, so much as they appear to be large and slow, with a child-like innocent naivety regarding human culture. But those who get on their bad side discover, very briefly, the error of their ways.
    • Their space drive could be considered a metaphor for the Turtles themselves: normally slow, quirky, and meandering, it can move very quickly and directly if the Turtles see sufficient need.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • This is a characteristic of Hobbits as a whole. As a race, they spend most of their time eating, drinking and making sure they have enough to eat and drink (the only function of their police force – the Shirriffs – is to chase off wild animals). Yet as Wolves, Orcs and Saruman have found out, there's only so far you can push them.
    • Tom Bombadil. Goofy, playful, and easy-going Tom presents very little of a threat, at first. He's called "Master of wood, water and hill" for a reason and commands great power and wisdom in his domain. It's implied that he is in fact the oldest person in all of Middle-Earth and the One Ring of Sauron has no effect on him; when Frodo wears the ring he can still see him, the ring cannot corrupt him, and he can make it vanish and reappear on a whim. The only reason the council doesn't just give it to him is because they think that he'll just misplace it.
    • The Ents are an entire species of Hidden Badasses. At first glance, they look like a race of Gentle Giants who just want to hide in their forest and wait for the danger to go away, so much so, that Saruman doesn't even consider them a threat. However, when Saruman starts invading their forest and chopping down their trees, they decide enough is enough, take the fight to him, and send their trees after his Uruk-Hai, pretty much ending the war in the Rohan all on their own.
  • In George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan stories, Private McGlinchy is, in a football game, either completely useless or completely amazing, depending on factors that other characters are trying to figure out.
  • Ceallio, in Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, is a mute simpleton when he is discovered by the protagonists working in an inn in the marsh town of Kwanitupul. However, it turns out that he's really the famous knight Camaris, who suffered a Heroic BSoD and attempted suicide many years ago. When sorely provoked, he displays incredible strength and fighting skill, first beating up a group of thugs and then defeating a Nabbanai nobleman in a swordfight, but remains in a childlike daze. It is not until he's brought to Prince Josua that he finally recovers his wits.
  • From Yahtzee Croshaw's Mogworld.
    • The inept thief Slippery John. Since the appearance of the Syndrome had taken all of the competent adventurers (the "Syndrome" being the name assigned to characters who had been taken over by Mogworld players) he decided to act as neurotic, creepy, and bad at thievery as possible to avoid catching it. Shows his true colors at Mount Murdercruel, where he is revealed to be Crazy-Prepared with the most bizarrely specific items for his character up to that point.
    • Thaddeus the priest spends all his time dismissing his fellow undead as affronts to his LORD (he acts like a southern pastor, and LORD is always in all-caps), all the while claiming that he isn't a zombie but was brought back to life because of his piety. He's delusional like this to the end, where he fights Barry the Vicar, who has access to development tools. It turns out that, in life, he was the legendary high priest of his religion (Barry wrote his thesis on him) and an incredible powerful mage hidden under mountains of crazy and religious dogma.
  • From L.J. Smith's Night World series, Iliana Dominick spends most of the story as The Load and The Ditz, but when her friends and bodyguards are threatened at the end of the book, she finally unleashes the magic in her blood that she's been denying her entire life.
  • Lennie from Of Mice & Men may be a mentally impaired Gentle Giant, but that doesn't mean you can just push him around. Curley finds out the hard way.
  • Pedro from The Power of Five. He's The Medic and The Heart, and the only one of the Five with no combat-useful superpowers. But when he has to, he's perfectly capable of escaping a Nightrise-run prison specifically designed to break his spirit, using a combination of Sherlock Scan, Batman Gambit, Impossible Thief and Groin Attack.
  • In the books Operation: Red Jericho and Operation: Typhoon Shore, Posh Charlie has a very minor role and is known for his constant stuttering and nervousness. Put him in a combat situation and he becomes a confident soldier, immediately dropping the stutter. This may possibly be Obfuscating Stupidity due to the knowledge in the latter book that he is actually a very competent researcher.
  • Redwall: King Bull Sparra does this really well. Maybe a little too well...
  • In Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Cycle, a gibbering, mindless beggar barely capable of feeding himself is later revealed to be the mortal shell of Macros the Black, the most powerful sorcerer in the world. His mind was not in his body, until suddenly it was imperative for him to be present to fight the darkness and chaos.
    • And then there's Nakor, a wandering con man and chronic goof-off who just happens to know more about magic, the nature of the multiverse, and beating down evil than anyone else in the series, with the possible exception of Pug.
  • Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel – pretty much all the time.
  • Lieutenant Panga in Someone Else's War.
  • Vulture in Shaman Blues. He looks like The Pig-Pen, acts like an idiot and his entire knowledge of the world comes from MTV, and either his magic knowledge is non-existent or he can't be bothered to talk. But in the afterlife, he's powerful enough to blow the door to the great beyond wide open and threaten the Old Ones into retreating.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire doesn't lack for badasses. And it includes a dyed-in-the-wool one of these, too. Westeros doesn't have polite phrases for "intellectually challenged" or "educationally disadvantaged" since both get put under "lackwit", but it's pretty clear that most people immediately conclude that he isn't very bright when they come across Podrick "Pod" Payne. This isn't true: Pod has issues that could well be quite dark in nature, for all he means well (think "the Cleganes"); most Westerosi only seem to take amusement from his genuinely embarrassed social befuddlement, however. The guy barely speaks full sentences and has the self-confidence and social bearing of a particularly bemused starfish (although, Tyrion does try working on those — with some results even after a short time). But, give him a sword or knife and put him where the action is hottest and... wow — you can't believe this is the same lad. He's a lot more eloquent with his actions than he'll ever be with his tongue.
    Pod to a shocked Brienne: "I told you I could fight!"
    • Tyrion's squire Podrick Payne is tongue-tied and incompetent most of the time to the extent that Tyrion suspects the boy was inflicted on him as a joke, but when Tyrion is caught on a bridge of wrecked ships on a burning river with Ser Mandon Moore, one of the elite Kingsguard, trying to kill him, Pod somehow manages to kill Mandon and drag the unconscious Tyrion to safety. He's also seen cutting down a few enemies when Tyrion storms out to meet Stannis's men.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series has JonTom Merryweather, the spellsinger of the title. A modern human in an alternate, medieval-equivalent universe filled with Talking Animals, who is pretty much useless in a fight, at least in the first few books...except for his spellsinging, which is the ultimate wild card and capable of doing anything he can sing about. The only trouble is that 1.) he has to know the right song, 2.) sometimes nothing happens, and 3.) even he's not sure what's going to happen when he starts. It's done everything from switching the entire party's genders, to changing a wizard's apprentice into a phoenix, to summoning a god.
  • In the Sword of Truth novels, Zedd is initially known to the reader as a goofy old man who's introduced talking to clouds. Naked. What the reader finds out later is that he was once known as the "Wind of Death," is a wizard of the first order, and in the past earned that nickname by winning a magical war.
    • Other wizards in the series fit the mold in one way or another, such as Warren who's a total nerd and Non-Action Guy until he and Zedd go to show an opposing army "an old fashioned firefight", and Nathan, who is described at one point as a "1,000-year-old child", but is as clever and deadly as they come.
  • Stephen King and Peter Straub's collaborative book The Talisman has Wolf – a lovable, simple-minded Gentle Giant who serves as a shepherd in an alternate Earth and tags along with Jack in his quest to save his mother. He's also that dimension's version of a werewolf. And has adopted Jack as his new "herd". And is impossibly strong even when he isn't transformed. Which means that you really, really want to think twice about hurting Jack.
  • Jack the Ripper in Time Scout forms a rare duo. He's two people, one a patsy being hypnotically controlled and turned into a weapon by the mastermind.
  • When we meet Matrim Cauthon in The Wheel of Time, he plays pranks, jokes around and generally serves as the comic relief in the group of main characters. He then gets cut by an evil knife and gets infected by said evil. Barely out of his sickbed after a major healing, he stumbles out on a training field where arguably the finest swordsmen in the world are training, and needing money, challenges two of them at the same time to a fight. With a quarterstaff, he wins. The he takes a level in badass.
  • Those who grew up reading the books of Lloyd Alexander will remember the bard and minor king Fflewddur Fflam, who at first seems like only a half-trained musician with a gift for exaggeration and a magic harp that calls him on it every time. But drop him in a fight with something important at stake and you realize he's also a capable and dangerous warrior...though still one with his heart in his mouth until the battle is over.
  • Some stories of Ganesha present the jolly Big Eater god as equal in power to his fearsome father Shiva, capable of stopping the sun and destroying the world, but luckily too nice to do so.
  • In The Supervillainy Saga, Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain without Mercy, is considered one of these in and out of universe. A Pop-Cultured Badass with the power to slay demigods, he's also a dorky ex-bank teller with no ability to shut up once a fight begins.


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