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  • The Trope Namer himself, Darkwing Duck. He's goofy, grumpy, and has an ego the size of a small planet. But tick him off, and the guilty party will find itself on the receiving end of Quack-Fu and an intelligent, strategic brain that understands both chemicals and criminals. Simply put, he's Disney's equivalent of Batman, only more psychologically stable. Mess with him and you will lose.
  • Popeye would spend a considerable amount of time each cartoon getting his butt kicked by Bluto/Brutus. Then he got his spinach on and it was over. Sometimes, this point came when he really got angry, and said, "That's all I can stands, 'cause I can't stands no more!"
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  • Parodied as a Noodle Incident in The Simpsons episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love," where Mr. Burns and his team try to subdue the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. When all else fails, Mr. Burns himself approaches the monster with a stern look in his face. The scene then unexpectedly cuts to Burns' helicopter in the air, with the monster tied up and swinging below. Mr. Burns explains to his admiring team:
    Burns: I was a little worried when he swallowed me, but then, well, you know the rest.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • Uncle seems like an eccentric weirdo who's too old to fight effectively, but when he wears the Dog Talisman, an artifact that makes the user immortal of sorts as well as restoring their youthful energy (while still remaining the same age), he shows off his martial arts skills by pulverizing a specially hired assassin who beat Jackie to within an inch of his life.
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    • Jackie himself would prefer to live quietly and spends most of every episode running away. Then you threaten his family (or the world) and he starts handing you your ass. Bad day. Bad day. Bad day.
  • In Hulk vs Wolverine, after Logan gets a supreme ass kicking by the big green guy himself, he wakes up a few seconds later and goes "ok bub, lets try that again" and proceeds to own. This is actually embarrassing considering the other film has Thor getting pounded into oblivion. Course the son of Odin isn't to blame for lack of skill
  • Teen Titans, goofy, silly Beast Boy occasionally gets pissed off and reminds both villains, viewers, and his own allies that he is capable of turning into any animal alive or that had ever lived.
    • In one episode, he thoroughly thrashes Slade or rather a Robo-Slade, though the two were usually interchangeable - despite the fact that this was someone who regularly whooped the team's designated badass, Robin.
    • This is especially evident in "The End", where he uses his "patented wet-willy maneuver" to hurt Trigon more than anyone had ever managed before.note 
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    • Another example is "Titans Together", where the Titans, both organized and honorary, have been decimated, and it's up to Beast Boy to lead the handful that remain against the Brotherhood of Evil.
      Brain: (to Robin) You will fall, one by one. Who among you can possibly stop me now?
      (cut to Beast Boy, surrounded by the destroyed parts of the robot drones sent to capture him)
      Beast Boy: Now try and follow me.
      (presses a button, blowing up his ship and everything around it)
    • To a lesser extent, this trope is invoked whenever Beast Boy shapeshifts. Unlike the comics, he generally can't speak in his animal forms, so when he takes to all fours, it's clear that the jokes are over and he's getting down to business.
  • Happens with Flash in Justice League Unlimited. Twice. The first time has him destroying his robot double by punching through its chest and then making it explode by vibrating his arm super-fast, and then taking down a Brainiac/Lex Luthor fusion by drive-by, getting a run up for each punch so quickly he travels around the world (multiple times) and then PUNCHES EVERY MOLECULE OF BRAINIAC OUT OF LUTHOR while he screams in agony. The second time comes in the next season, when his mind has been swapped with Lex Luthor, who does the vibration trick on some walls and threatens to do the same to someone's head (Flash doesn't make a habit of this due to the property damage it tends to cause, thus proving that despite appearances, he is more conscientious than pretty much the rest of the Justice League). Another moment of The Flash Getting Dangerous would be when he sabotaged Luthor's plans for the robbery of the century, kept any innocent bystanders from getting killed...and to top it off, thoroughly cuckolded the completely oblivious Luthor with Tala, to the point that the only one unhappy with the mutual restoration was Tala herself.
    Tala: Is that you, Lex?
    Luthor: Of course it's me, you idiot.
    Tala: ...Oh.
  • In Gargoyles, Broadway and Lexington were typically the comic relief and the Smart Guy in most plots, respectively. But every once in awhile, they'd be pushed a little too far, and remind their enemies (and the audience) that they were full-fledged warriors that could bend steel and break through concrete with their bare hands. Especially if you try to pull a gun on Broadway.
    "What's this?! A new type of gun?! A NEW WAY TO KILL?!" (thrashes the villains)
  • At the very end of the real last episode/movie for Kim Possible, Ron steps it up and masters his Monkey Kung Fu in time to completely destroy the aliens and save Kim.
  • Metalocalypse's Charles Foster Ofdensen, Dethklok's mild-mannered manager/lawyer/accountant. Hints are given throughout the first season that Ofdensen is more than what he seems, but we don't see this full until the finale. A somewhat unique example, in that the villains make a point of taking his awesomeness into account by season 2 and adjusting accordingly.
  • Dib of Invader Zim is an almost perpetual Butt-Monkey trying to tell a Cassandra Truth, but under the right circumstances he's able to unleash his inner awesome and defend the Earth like never before. Like the time he piloted Mercury. Indeed, Jhonen Vasquez remarks in the DVD commentary that "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom" is pretty much just an excuse to show Dib as he leads Earth's defense fleet against the Irken armada and single-handedly brings down the Massive.
  • Edward in "Thomas the Tank Engine" was often the subject of mockery and ridicule for his age, thought of as a slow and weak engine constantly running late with his trains. Come "Old Iron", James finds himself a runaway, speeding up with no driver on the main line, rescued by Edward speeding up the line with his crew to bring James back under control. Other examples include pushing Gordon's freight train up a steep hill with at most half-hearted help in "Edward and Gordon", and pulling a heavy tourist train with a failed sanding gear, no side rods, and a broken crank pin in "Edward's Exploit".
  • Sewer Urchin of The Tick is a semi-scatterbrained guy who talks like Rain Man and gets knocked around pretty often. However, this is because he's out of his element. In the sewers, he's badass to the bone, to the point where The City's sewer workers talk about him with hushed tones of awe.
    Urchin: Down here, I'm considered the apotheosis of cool.
    Arthur (to The Tick): Did he just say "apotheosis?"
  • Transformers Animated:
    • Starscream is usually a comedic figure, as exemplified by his death montage, being killed over and over again by Megatron in the span of a single speech. However, when it comes to actual combat, he is a badass, taking down Ultra Magnus, head of the Autobot Elite Guard and the entire Autobot army, with one shot.
    • Bumblebee and Bulkhead qualify for this as out of the main line-up they are the youngest and most comical of the Autobots. Particularly in the series' finale when they take on Shockwave, who is mostly owning them in the first part of the fight, until Bulkhead rushes him and floors the guy so hard that his chest smashes, his weapon is knocked away and he even has to resort to pleading for his life. And he did it with one punch.
  • One episode of Recess features an inter-grade dodge ball match, with one kid staying out of it. However, when the older kids nail a kindergartner, this mild-mannered boy shows up in a serape, calling himself "El Diablo". He proceeds to take down an entire GRADE in the span of 6 seconds. Said kid happens to be Gus, the mild meek kid of the gang.
    • The awesomeness is heightened by the fact that the injured kindergartner was Hector, who hero-worships Gus, so there was a hefty dose of Big Brother Instinct thrown in there.
  • Arnold's grandma in Hey Arnold!. Most of the time, she's a crazy and eccentric old woman. However, sometimes she takes matters into her own hands and solves problems when even Arnold can't, such as repairing the underground subway's wiring or stealing a bulldozer (on two occasions).
  • American Dragon: Jake Long:
    • Jake Long has a level of danger inversely proportional to the density of his slang. If he's casually hurling trash talk and indecipherable jive, expect him to recklessly endanger himself or someone he cares about, or otherwise trip over himself. If he drops the slang altogether, it usually means something horrible has happened or is about to happen, and he's ready to administer an epic beatdown to stop it.
    • Jake's muggle dad gets his own such moment when he does some on-the-fly research in the middle of a battle against the Dark Dragon's shadow monsters, finds the weakness of said monsters, and improvises a method of unleashing said weakness (light). The summoned creatures which had been giving the gathering of dragons all they could handle are wiped out in a matter of seconds. Jake taunts the Dark Dragon by lampshading this.
  • Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He gets to do this a number of times, the first being when he is kidnapped by earthbenders just before the winter solstice. He nearly manages to escape on his own, buying time for Zuko to show up. They proceed to lay the smackdown on them without even firebending (that would have been unfair). Another is at the North Pole, after Zhao destroys the Moon Spirit. Then, there is the second season premiere, in which he redirects Azula's lightning and kicks her overboard just as she's about to finish off Zuko. Finally, there is the scene when Iroh demonstrates how he got the nickname "Dragon of the West." Moral of the story: do not underestimate someone who once broke through the outer wall of Ba Sing Se, no matter how harmless he may seem now.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • In episode 10, this is proven to be true of all three of Tenzin's children. Jinora sent the Lieutenant flying, Ikki took out a bunch of chi-blockers with her air-scooter, and Meelo gassed the rest of them. Oh, and they did this to protect the series' token badass, Lin Bei Fong.
    • Then there's Bolin for that matter. When he's not being the Butt-Monkey, he kicks a fair amount of ass with his own Earthbending, and he even becomes one of the few Earthbenders ever shown to be capable of bending lava.
    • The Avatar State, depending on your POV, can be seen as this trope. Basically, when the Avatar's life or loved ones are in danger regardless of personality, meaning that even if the Avatar is as gentle as Aang, or on the opposite end as Hot-Blooded as Korra, their bending power increases considerably and they go into an epic state of destructive fury. So if the Avatar's eyes go solid white and you're not the guilty party, take cover - and if you are, well, please stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.
  • The Toiletnator in Codename: Kids Next Door pulls one of these in a rage-filled, paranoid moment against the very villains who constantly belittle him. Mainly applies because he is fought seriously by most of the villains he takes down in the sequence. Unfortunately, he essentially runs out of ammo by the time the heroes show up.
  • Ding-A-Ling Wolf, Hokey Wolf's little sidekick once bashed a robot repeatedly with a massive stick longer than he was because the robot was trying to kill Hokey.
  • Winx Club: An S2 ep shows Griselda blocking every single attack from her students as part of Magical Defense Class, including Bloom (though to be fair, she was thinking about her phone call with Sky from earlier in the episode). Then you get to the fridge and realize that she didn't have any significant role in the final battle of the previous season, when that ability would have been useful. The Secret of the Lost Kingdom makes up for it by having her putting up a shield for Stella, Flora and Tecna during an attack from Mandragora.
  • Robot Chicken does this a lot, but the best example would probably be the sketch in which Mafia-installed union reps are brutally killed... by Bob the Builder and crew.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • In the episode "Octi-Evil": Blossom and Buttercup, having spent the better part of the episode bickering, bury the hatchet to save Bubbles.
    • Also, The Movie, which had the girls becoming pariahs for their role in not only trashing Townsville but helping Mojo Jojo take over with an army of apes. The girls serve a self-imposed exile on an asteroid 'til they hear the Professor being threatened. They return and kick monkey tuchus.
    • "Not So Awesome Blossom" has our redheaded heroine in a state of shell shock throughout, the episode as she is incapable of having anything go right for her. But she steps up and hits it out of the park at Mojo Jojo's lair when Mojo has Blossom's sisters and the Professor in dire straits.
    • Bubbles is normally the most timid and ditzy of the 3 girls, but as the pilot and episode Bubblevicious show, push her too far and she WILL kick your ass.
    • When Blossom's brains and Buttercup's brawn fail to down a giant monster in Three Girls And A Monster, Bubbles uses the only tactic left: disarming charm and politeness.
    • Blossom gets another shining moment of utter badassery in Seaspn 2's "Stuck Up, Up and Away", when Princess Morebucks debuts. Blossom spends the majority of the episode trying to politely dissuade Princess from trying to join the team (as she has no powers), and when Princess finally gets the hint, she uses her father's vast wealth to obtain Powered Armor. The supercharged suit initially enables Morebucks to swiftly Curb Stomp Bubbles and Buttercup (the team's designated badass) in shockingly short order. But when she faces down Blossom (who has entered a state of Tranquil Fury), the Princess finds all her moves dodged, deflected and parried, and Blossom's counterattack utterly disarms the spoiled rich girl, setting her up for defeat by her recovered siblings.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack sees washed-up sailor Cap'n K'nuckles beating up a crew of pirates three at a time in "One Hundred Percensus": "I can't count to four, but I can count to three."
  • The Mighty Heroes seem like ineffectual stumblebums in the first half of an episode, but once they escape the Death Trap and regroup, they are unstoppable!
  • In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Yoda spends most of the time offscreen in the Jedi Temple. When the Separatist invasion of Coruscant begins, he heads to the front lines and starts Force-pushing colossal troop carriers.
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Walter "Doc" Hartford spent most of the series as a Deadpan Snarker and "computer guy" who was nowhere near the other three when it came to a fight. But when a Evil Chancellor steps in and threatens to kill the king with whom they're trying to ally? Doc picks up a sword, brawls him, and hands said evil adviser his ass - all the while admitting that he learned fencing from "Miss Abercrombie's Charm School!" This came up again when he was back on Tarkon and took down the show's nastiest villain singlehandedly using stuff he picked up in "charm school." Which has led a great many fanfic authors to wonder just what kind of Charm School Miss Abercrombie was running in the first place.
  • Donald Duck is typically the Butt-Monkey of the Disney Universe. Either through his own fault for acting like a jerk, or just plain bad luck, it's very rare for things to go right with him. That being said, like in the comics, he does have his moments, with DuckTales (2017) being the source of a few.
    • When the Beagle Boys had kidnapped Huey, Dewey, and Louie along with Webby, Mrs. Beakley teamed up with Donald to try and rescue them. Thinking she would have to handle most of the fighting herself, Mrs. Beakley was surprised when a very, VERY angry Donald squawked "WHERE ARE MY BOYS?!" and proceeded to beat the crap out of the Beagle Boys on his own.
    • In the season one finale, when Magica DeSpell had trapped Scrooge in his own Number One Dime, and taken over Duckberg, it was Donald who ended up leading the family to rescue Scrooge and save the day.
  • DuckTales had a few examples:
    • Launchpad McQuack often filled out this trope. Sure, he was typically bumbling and accident-prone, but when necessary (especially to protect the nephews), he could pull off some amazing feats of aeronautical skill, as well as general badassness. Perhaps this is what led them to team him up with Darkwing Duck.
      • In the 2017 reboot, Launchpad is a huge fan of the In-Universe Darkwing Duck TV show, even having a bobblehead that says his iconic catchphrase. And when he gets dangerous, he'll let Darkwing say it for him.
    • Fenton Crackshell should be mentioned as well. While he was smarter than Launchpad, he still had a tendency to screw things up. But he was the superhero Gizmoduck, and he occasionally showed that he was heroic and could save the day even without the Gizmo suit.
    • Uncle Scrooge himself could fall into the trope now and then, especially if his beloved boys or Webby needed him.
  • Scooby in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is the same loveable dog as in all canons. However, when a Monster of the Week actually tried to kill the gang for real, he pilots a forklift and beats the living crap out of it before dispatching it with one of the most badass lines ever uttered:
    Scooby Doo: Play dead.
    • Scooby and Velma take the mystery of episode 33 upon themselves when Shaggy, Fred and Daphne are otherwise preoccupied.
  • Ickis from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters' had a lot of flaws: Parental Issues with his famous father, incredible arrogance coupled with crippling insecurity, a tendency to slack off with his scaring and panic when that inevitably came back to bite him...yet whenever put into the position where he was the only one who could face a crisis, he could pull off some amazing Big Damn Hero moments.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight Sparkle is the neurotic nerd of her friend group, with her having to learn social skills being the initial driving force of the series. But if you threaten her, her friends, or her town, she'll remind you that she's a magic prodigy who had the tutelage of a solar god-empress before ascending herself. This is especially the case when she temporarily gains the powers of every other alicorn, delivering an anime-style beatdown that would not be at all out of place in Dragon Ball Z.
    • Doubly so Fluttershy. She's generally incredibly timid and unable to stand up for herself. But if you threaten or endanger others, expect her to become angry enough to unleash Death Glares powerful enough to cow actual deities and showcase sudden flying skills on par with her best friend Rainbow Dash.
    • Pinkie Pie provides a more mundane example, as even her more serious moments have her weaponize or making some pragmatic use of her usual slapstick antics, such as her Pinkie Sense allowing her to save civilians.
      • The episode "Maud Pie" introduces Pinkie's older sister, Maud. Even after prolonged contact, she is quite clearly an Emotionless Girl who is only interested in rocks. But when Pinkie gets caught in an avalanche, Maud immediately springs into action while everypony else is still gaping in shock, covering several hundred yards in seconds to pound a house-sized boulder into gravel with just her hooves. Jaw Drops all around.
    • Seriously, don't screw with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. When they've finally been pushed too far by Babs Seed, the A-Team music plays, they build an entire motorized parade float in less than a night, fit it with a booby-trap (made from an egg timer) that will send it careening off a cliff at precisely the right time, and lure Babs into stealing it with a Batman Gambit. They even plant a mattress to land on when she shoves them out of the way, and the only reason it fails is because they have a sudden attack of conscience and save her (the plan itself works beautifully).
    • Discord is normally a quirky and egotistical trickster who can't be bothered to help with other ponies' problems or do anything in a straightforward way. Even prior to his Heel–Face Turn, when he was a major threat to the safety of Equestria, he took to his world domination schemes with an almost lackadaisical attitude. But when he learns that Fluttershy has been taken by the Changelings, he immediately becomes deadly serious and focused, and teleports directly to the Changeling hive. The only reason the plot isn't resolved right then and there is because said location negates most types of magic.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Isabella is already competent as it is, but the kid gloves come off if Phineas is in danger of being hurt.
    • All of Phineas and Ferb's friends and inventions get to do this during the climactic battle in The Movie.
  • For the first season of Transformers: Prime, Soundwave kept away from the front lines. The only fight he got into was with the kid sidekicks of the Autobots (his drone also fought a single helicopter once). In the finale, Airachnid (who by this point has had plenty of screen time fighting other Autobots and even some of her fellow Decepticons) tries to convince the Decepticons to abandon Earth, and Megatron, and most everyone from the Mooks to the other main Decepticons are at least willing to consider it. Soundwave makes his disagreement clear, and when she tries to force him, he effortlessly tosses her around, forcing her to abandon her mutiny. No wonder Starscream wanted to stay on his good side. He's since dethroned Wheeljack as Most Badass Character in the show by kicking the everloving slag out of him. Soundwave Superior, indeed.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: When the usually idiotic Cosmo finds his wife and godchild in danger, he gets serious to the point of becoming GODZILLA.
    • Poof qualifies as well, in the episode "Poulter-Geeks". Like father, like son, apparently.
  • Family Guy: When Quagmire plots to kill Jeff, Joe refuses to go through with it, since it would be murder. But once he hears Jeff abusing Brenda next door, Joe responds with this:
    "Let's waste this dick."
  • Ben Tennyson in every incarnation. Most of the time, he is a narcissistic person who, as a child, more often took on the role of hero for the glory of it more than because it was the right thing to do. It is even to the point that in the first show's grand finale, when he questions why someone didn't tell him that his malfunctioning Omnitrix was liable to destroy the galaxy, not just himself, that person expressed shock that Ben would legitimately care about anyone but himself dying. But make no mistake, try to threaten, hurt, or kill any innocent people, especially his family, and he can deliver quite amazing performances. Some of the most notable examples include delivering a quite creepy Mook Horror Show to Zombozo, delivering an Unstoppable Rage on Captain Nemesis, and getting an entire army of Forever Knights to leave with nothing more than a single Badass Boast.
  • Mr. Bogus will very often swing around into this trope, due to his status as the Butt-Monkey, despite being the main character of the show. However, when push comes to shove, he will face off against any threat that comes his way. In fact, he once took on a rather hideous Evil Knockoff of himself that threatened him and pushed him around repeatedly while he was experiencing a streak of bad luck.
  • Clue Club: In "The Walking House Caper", a mysterious monster figure locks Larry, Pepper and D.D. in a house. Larry uses his communicator to contact Dotty at home base in hopes she'll call the police. Dotty and the show's two dogs, Woofer and Wimper, take it upon themselves to lure the monster away from the house so they can rescue the others. And Dotty does have the foresight to call the police as well.
  • In SheZow, you know (s)he's serious whenever SheZow says "No more mister nice girl!" or "Time to get SheZow-y with it!"
  • The entire Pines family from Gravity Falls is this when other family members are in danger, but special mention goes to Cloud Cuckoolander Mabel and Lovable Rogue Grunkle Stan, who are more often than not incredibly self-absorbed.
    • There's also Wendy, who normally acts pretty laid back and doesn't typically seek out trouble the way Dipper and Mabel do... but she's more than capable of handling herself in a fight if she has to. She is related to Manly Dan, after all.
  • Beetlejuice is a lazy, conniving, greedy prankster. But while "Ghost With the Most" may well be a name he gave himself, he does have the power to back it up. Anyone foolish enough to mess with his beloved human Morality Chain learns this the hard way.
  • The seven heroes on Class of the Titans are shown to do this on quite a few occasions, especially when any of their number are in trouble; the others will stop at nothing to help them.
  • Wander over Yonder: Lord Hater, who is implied to have been a legitimate evil threat prior to him getting distracted regularly by Wander causing his empire to slowly crumble and respect from other villains lost by the series' start. However, he does get to prove that he is "The Greatest in the Galaxy" when taking on Lord Dominator in the Grand Finale. By the end of that season, she had destroyed every single planet in the galaxy, forcing their inhabitants to either flee to other galaxies or, you know. She has broken Lord Hater's heart and ridiculed him for it, on top of taking over his entire empire. As for now, the only remaining people in the galaxy are Wander, Sylvia, a bunch of past characters hidden on a small undetected planet, Lord Hater and Commander Peepers along their army of Watchdogs and Dominator herself. So, what is Hater to do?
    • He uses his extensive knowledge on thermodynamics and gravity to locate the planet of the refugees.
    • When he finds out Wander is on the planet, instead of chasing after him and ruining his own plan like always, he uses Wander's presence as a distraction to keep Dominator busy while he attacks.
    • He turns his ship into a far more badass-looking one (THE SKULLCRUSHER!) (which is rather pointless in the end, as Dominator one shots it anyway).
    • When Dominator is about to impale Sylvia with a massive drill Lord Hater protects the entire planet with a force field created by himself. Dominator then gives him a breaking speech, which is countered by Sylvia and the rest of the survivors chanting Hater's name, which provides him with the confidence to amplify his force field's potency to the point Dominator's ship is impaled by its own drill, finally defeating her.
    • Everyone there, including Peepers and the people whose planets he tried to conquer in the previous season cheer for him. All it took Hater to accomplish this was not being distracted by Wander's antics. So, basically, whenever he is focused, he is indeed the Greatest in The Galaxy.
  • PJ Masks: Has this once per episode, and marked by their catchphrase "Time to be a hero!". Whatever personal problem was holding them back before, when they say this they have learned the Aesop of that episode and can finally tackle the problem they're facing head on.
  • The eponymous marsupial of the DreamWorks Animation short Bilby is initially introduced as living in constant fear, hiding and running from predators. However, an albatross chick he finds lost in the middle of the desert brings out his parental instincts, culminating in an epic fight with an eagle.
  • Eda from The Owl House goes into most fights only half-trying and constantly has a playful attitude even against evenly matched enemies. But when Lilith holds Luz hostage in "Agony of a Witch" to lure Eda to her, she actually cuts loose and we see exactly why she's known as the most powerful witch on the Boiling Isles. Lilith only survives the ensuing fight by using Luz as a Human Shield to prevent Eda from landing attacks and even then it's clear Eda would have gotten around the problem through sheer power, speed, and skill. Lilith is the leader of the Emperor's Coven, made up of the best and brightest in the Boiling Isles, and Eda could have turned her to ash years ago if she felt like it.


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