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Cute Bruiser / Literature

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  • Lisbeth Salander of The Millennium Trilogy. Described as being five feet tall and weighing ninety pounds, and at one point she beats up two bikers.
  • Sally Kimball of the Encyclopedia Brown books, a 10-year-old who can beat up any guy, any size; hence, she's the bodyguard of the titular Non-Action Guy.
  • Juliet of Artemis Fowl, especially in the third book.
  • Arya Stark at the start of A Song of Ice and Fire, before becoming an increasingly sociopathic Dark Action Girl.
  • Karrin Murphy from The Dresden Files. Despite being five-nothing, blonde and adorable, she can chip a man's molar with one punch. There's nothing supernatural about her strength, though, as she's been studying aikido since she was eleven.
    • The Denarian Tessa fits this trope — when she's not a disgusting half-mantis demon.
      • Absolutely, Tessa.
    • The Fey Ladies, the youngest of the Three Queens, are pretty, young women with the third largest punch of their court, Summer or Winter. YMMV on Maeve, though.
    • Ivy, the Archive. Several members of the White Council are under the belief that she has the power equal to one of the Faerie Queens. It's heavily implied that they are severely underestimating her.
    • Warden Commander Luccio, the senior-most combat wizard in existence, considers Harry this. She also counts as this, once she is trapped in the body of a cute twenty-something co-ed.
  • Monster, a Hulk parody that showed up in the McGuiness issues of Batman/Superman comics. A cute eight year old girl that can transform into a muscle-bound brute at will. Batman is soundly horrified at the concept of taking her into combat; he might have recruited a few fairly young and inexperienced sidekicks himself, but at least they were all out of high school.
  • Luisa from Sho-shan y la Dama Oscura. She's described as a 15 years old girl, with curly blonde hair, dressed in a Lolita fashion and even that she knows how to defend herself. Add the fact than when she was 4 years old she managed to escape from an hospital with her sister, attacking a lot of doctors on the process.
  • Foundation: Dors Venabili. The cute slicer.
  • Kirsty in Terry Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell Trilogy. In Johnny and the Bomb, she even took down a soldier thanks to her karate training (granted, she caught him by surprise after successfully playing a scared girl).
  • In the Mistborn trilogy, Vin, who is barely over five feet tall is one of the most powerful of the titular Mistborn, including the use of pewter which gives her super stamina and strength. This is often used to her advantage, as her opponents are less likely to see her as a threat.
    • Although, surprisingly, the drawbacks of being so petite are also commented on and even shown. Because Pewter scales with physical strength, Vin is nowhere near as strong as a person with comparable allomantic ability and a larger build. Also, her speed is negated if she is forced to grapple and her short stature also limits her reach.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians has the Goddess Artemis, the Token Mini-Moe. A twelve year old girl in appearance, she holds up the sky and fights Atlas on equal footing, who is said to be one of the strongest Titans. She's sort of a Ensemble Dark Horse for a reason.
  • Ali from The Red Vixen Adventures. Ex-pirate bodyguard with a troubled past, and four and a half feet of black and white furry fury.
  • Downplayed in Cassandra Kresnov. Sandy and other GIs are shorter than average, and Sandy explains that combat myomer doesn't handle well in large volumes - if she were a foot taller, she'd suffer chronic tension and be unable to control her own strength.
  • Urban Dragon Arkay is so petite she could pass for a teenager, or even a child. She could also punch through a brick wall if properly motivated.