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Badass Bystander

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Bank robberies go differently when the manager is in the mob.

— The Daily Record headline, summing up what cab driver Alex McIlven did during the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack.

Sometimes, even Bystander Syndrome reaches its limit.

Movies, anime, cartoons, even books have an unspoken (or in some cases, explicitly stated) fighting power curve where the hero and villain are at or near the top. The Muggles and Innocent Bystanders? They're waaaay down there at the bottom, duh! Otherwise they wouldn't really be Innocent Bystanders in need of protecting, now would they?

Except for this guy. The Badass Bystander is a background or minor character who shows significant or surprising fighting prowess or strength against a major threat. Whether it's a doddering old man beating the DeathWalker 9000, going toe to claw with a werewolf, making a Defiant Stone Throw, or purse-whacking the Giant Mook into submission.

Shows up frequently in martial arts movies, Western Bar Brawls, and various Tabletop RPGs, in which random wandering monsters or random NPCs occasionally kick a PC's or villain's ass, depending on how the dice roll. NPC shopkeepers are pretty tough too.


This can result in Fridge Logic. Why aren't they helping you, The Only One who is trying to save the world? It's Up to You only? Then again, maybe there's a lot going on, and you've just had a brush with the Hero of Another Story.

Frequently done for comedy, with the Bystander being either Weak, but Skilled or otherwise seemingly harmless. These minor characters may be so powerful they qualify as Sidekick Ex Machinas, with the hero "beating" their opponent by tossing him to the Badass Bystander to finish them off.

By their nature, plots involving Zombie Apocalypse tend to include Badass Bystanders – out of the normal civilians in harm's way, the only ones left standing are likely to be unusually badass.

If you have a whole crowd of armed Badass Bystanders, you get Everyone Is Armed and World of Badass.


A Sister Trope to The Real Heroes.

Compare Heroic Bystander, Mugging the Monster, Suddenly Always Knew That, Let's Get Dangerous!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Frequently happens in the Digimon series. Usually, The Hero and The Lancer are the ones to gain the highest evolutionary levels, with the rest being one level lower. That doesn't, however, mean that the others are helpless, and still are able to contribute to battles.
    • In Digimon Tamers, the Drunk with Power Mega-level Beelzemon has his gun point-blank at Gallantmon's head. The Champion-level Guardromon fires his attack at Beelzemon. It doesn't hurt him, but it does distract him long enough for Gallantmon to regain control of the fight and win.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In the fourth chapter, Ed is fighting terrorists on a train in a hostage situation. When he makes it to the coal room, he quickly takes out one of the two terrorists, but the other manages to aim a gun at him... when the two stokers (the people who shovel coal into the train's furnace) suddenly come out of nowhere and start bashing the guy's head in with their shovels. It's to be expected from a World of Badass.
    • Ed's involvement itself is an example of this. Originally, the trainjackers' purpose was completely unrelated to Ed and Al... and then one of them made the mistake of calling Ed "short".
    • In Episode 58 of Brotherhood, while Wrath is hanging from Greedling's leg, a nameless Briggs soldier (with a mustache) manages to shoot Wrath in the shoulder. This is a man who was never even touched throughout the first 59 episodes out of 64.
    • Concurrently, there are some shots from a random Amestrian soldier's point of view, as he and his men rush up a staircase, and are swiftly shot with a machine gun in this enclosed space, and he goes behind a pillar while the others die or run. He just stays behind the pillar under heavy fire, and eventually kills the gunner and gets to the top despite being shot, and manages to shoot Greedling through the head, seeing him as a monster before falling over.
    • The real one comes when the heroes have been taken out by Father's Wave-Motion Gun alchemy. He then is this close to absorbing Ed and Izumi to replenish his Philosopher Stone, when a random sniper bullet comes out of nowhere and nails Father right in the head! It doesn't kill him, but it does knock him down for a few seconds, saving Ed and Izumi, and setting up the good guys counterattacks and effectively leading to his defeat.
  • One is played for laughs in the Hyper Dolls manga when she appears; one of the title Lovely Angels duo teases the other that the Badass Bystander is a possible Sixth Ranger... one of many to come... "Just like Sailor Moon..." "NOOO! (Knocks out bystander)"
  • Yuuna 'the Kid' Akashi in Negima! Magister Negi Magi starts decimating robot invaders during the Mahora school festival to the utter astonishment of everyone around her. When the really really big stuff starts coming out, she does get outclassed though. Just like everyone except Negi, really.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns has Ash and all of his friends captured, Jessie and James forced on cleaning duty, and Mewtwo forced to submit to Giovanni, and it all seems hopeless...until Team Rocket meddling with nature awakens the local Bug Pokemon, who attack the base and allow the heroes to regroup and win the day.
    • In Pokémon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened has a wild Feraligatr commanding many Pokémon to defend their home from the invading Genesects. Notably, though, is how this Feraligatr did more than the main trio did as they were just standing around and repeatedly trying to get to Red Genesect and FemTwo when in the end they both realized their error of their ways... by themselves.
    • Similarly, Pokémon: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel has the Pokémon living at the Nebel Plateau. When the Big Bad tries to obliterate them and their homeland by means of Wave-Motion Gun, they choose to rally together and fire back one of their own. Beam-O-War ensues. Luckily, they have some last-minute assistance from Squishy/Zygarde, who assumes its Complete Forme to help them overpower the attack.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: A Gentle Giant sumo student left the academy after being bullied by a combination of The Bully and Jerk Jock. Rather than taking down the bully, Kenshin encouraged the bully's victim to stand up, and Kaoru helped him train. It turns out the student had an incredible untapped potential, so the Jerk Jock bullied him out of fear; when the student knocks the Jerk Jock over, the owner of the academy reveals this to everyone.
  • Sailor Jupiter's debut in the Sailor Moon anime. She initially appears to be just some random Huge Schoolgirl who held her own against one of the Quirky Miniboss Squad with just her bare hands. (To the viewers who ignored the clues. Her debut episode even mentioned Sailor Jupiter in the title).
  • Henaro in The Tower of Druaga is just a random tavern patron who's forced to go along with the main characters when the military raids the building, and proves to be quite capable of standing up for herself. Ultimately subverted, as it turns out she was planted there to infiltrate the group.
  • Variable Geo: Nerdy Washio is a Nice Guy with no fighting ability to speak off. Yet, in the final episode, he somehow made it past the security at the Jahana research facility undetected and saved Reimi, as the building was going up in flames. Moments later, they're seen safely outside, with Washio's jacket draped around her shoulders, to protect her modesty.
  • This was how Rinne initially met her martial arts instructor Jill during a flashback in ViVid Strike!. When she was a victim of a Vehicular Kidnapping, Jill proceeded to chase down the car on foot and beat her way into the kidnappers' hideout to rescue her.
    Kidnapper: Who are you?!
    Jill: Just a martial artist off the street.
  • In Wonder Egg Priority, sometimes a Victim of the Week will help a protector defeat the Wonder Killer:
    • In episode 2, Minami Suzuhara has spent the episode blaming herself for her gymnastic coach's abusive treatment of her. But when Ai gets blinded by goop during the fight against the Wonder Killer, Minami suddenly defies her coach by shouting directions to Ai so that Ai can still dodge attacks and land hits even while blinded.
    • At the beginning of episode 4, Miko and Mako prevent the Wonder Killer from skewering Ai by playing a video of the idol Yu-Yu, because since the Wonder Killer is based off Yu-Yu's stalker, the Wonder Killer would never skewer a girl while her idol is watching. Simultaneously, while Momoe is fighting the Wonder Killer based off the executive who harassed Miwa, Momoe starts to have trouble when the Wonder Killer fires a red square of energy and she needs to block it with her umbrella. Suddenly, Miwa pretends to give into the Wonder Killer's advances, causing the Wonder Killer to let its guard down so Momoe can break through the red energy square and stab it to death.

    Comic Books 
  • In Diabolik the title character is rightly known as the King of Terror for, among other reason, his enormous body count and the fear he inspires, but once in a while he has to deal with random citizens who take a stand against him. Some notable examples:
    • In "On the Morgue's Table" there's an insomniac guy who, upon seeing him and Eva actually two very convincing impostors, but this insomniac man believed them to be the real deal), first called the police and, upon seeing they would get away before the police arrived, grabbed a precision rifle and gunned them down.
    • In another story the police knew Diabolik was on a certain mountain road, and broadcast a warning on the radio. Two truckers on the same road heard the broadcast, realized they would run into him in minutes, and occupied the entire road with their trucks to try and kill him, nearly succeeding at the job.
  • The Marvel Comics story Fear Itself. Insane murder god Cul, allied with supernatural Nazis in giant mecha suits, is about to start mass murdering everyone on Earth, starting with the citizens of Broxton, Oklahoma. The Broxton citizens form a line with pickup trucks and shotguns. The citizens of Broxton have stood up to all sorts of insane nonsense, because they are friends with the Asgardian gods. Many times the citizens have fought back against overpowering evil while the Asgardians were elsewhere.
  • In Final Crisis: Revelations, Cain (yes, that Cain) is about to unmake reality with The Spear of Destiny by forcing The Spectre to say the Anti-Life Equation. He then gets tackled by the three men who killed Sister Clarice, giving Renee Montoya enough of an opportunity to save The Spectre. Also falls under Dying Moment of Awesome and Redemption Equals Death.
  • In the Justice League of America arc "Syndicate Rules," the Antimatter Universe Johnny Quick and his teammate Power Ring (disguised as the Flash and Green Lantern) are having their asses handed to them by Computron and the Rainbow Raiders. The civilians are thoroughly stunned to realize the two "Leaguers" are having a hard time with these D-List (at best) supercriminals, and immediately rush in and beat the crap out the Raiders with makeshift clubs, shovels, and two-fisted bystander action.
    Bystander 1: They're—
    Bystander 2:losing??
    Bystander 3: GET EM!!
  • Knightfall: When Victor Zsasz takes a group of college students hostage, one of them repeatedly calls him a monster and tells the other girls that they can overpower Zsasz if they rush him together. The others repeatedly refuse out of fear, but she still tries to take on Zsasz alone when he decides to pick more victims (which nearly gets her killed).
  • The Mighty Avengers (2013) tie-in to Infinity, sees Proxima Midnight, one of Thanos's generals, leading an army into New York City and demanding everyone's surrender. One old woman's response is to pick up a brick and chuck it at Proxima's head, shouting "No pasaran!" It touches off a mass response from the gathered crowd, and while "No pasaran!" doesn't have much effect, "Avengers Assemble" does.
  • Robin (1993): When Tim has to flip off the semi Riot Act is speeding down the highway to avoid getting shot onto the roof of a random sedan the Gothamite driving it leans out their window to make sure he's okay, then speeds up and pulls alongside the out of control semi so he can get back to apprehending the villain.
  • A random Lacroix resident in Swamp Thing stands up to Jason Woodrue with his chainsaw, "Evangeline." It doesn't work, but points for trying.
  • In What If?: House of M, every superhero and villain loses their powers. This leads to the Red Skull, with the combined forces of the Hand, A.I.M., and Hydra to try and take over New York, now that they have no competition. Iron Man tries to save the day, with the help of the other un-superheroes in new iron suits, but gets their asses handed to them. This leads Peter Parker, formerly known as Spider-Man, to jump into the fray with a Badass Speech and, with his old web shooter, smashes the cosmic cube the Red Skull is holding. The result: the entire city of New York Zerg Rushes the Red Skull and his minions.
  • In the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, main villain and Sinister Minister William Stryker is about to shoot Kitty Pryde after she gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech on live TV. In the book's climax, Stryker aims his gun and the X-Men stand their ground. A shot is fired, but it's Stryker who falls over, as he was shot (non-lethally) by a police officer working security. The cop states rather obviously that Stryker was about to shoot an unarmed little girl, which is not the Word of God.
    Officer: If that's the Word o' God, it's sure changed some since Sunday school.

    Fan Works 
  • In Boldores and Boomsticks, a group of Grimm attack Golden Valley, and team RWBY leaps into action, but Ruby is worried that four trainee huntresses will not be enough to defend an unprepared town from the assault. Cue the crowd of pokemon trainers stepping up to the fray; while they initially leave themselves open to attack, she quickly protects them from ambush and rallies them into a proper defense.
  • Chasing Dragons: At one point, an Assassination Attempt is made on Robert's wife Serina, his former paramours, and their children. Their bodyguards do their jobs and protect them, but they hardly have to do anything, as the crowds of civilians surrounding them surge forward and subdue the assassins.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the one guy who manages to overpower Chrysalis by activating her magic suppressor as she tries to escape custody (she was on her way to stand trial before the International Criminal Court) is some nameless USAF pilot.
  • In The Fight we Chose, the Gate opens up at Dallas, Dealey Plaza, unleashing a fantastical pseudo-Roman legion to invade Texas, USA during The '60s. Naturally this being Texas, several hundred armed citizens join the Dallas Police Department in holding off the otherworldly invaders until the National Guard arrives to take back the city.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Fox Rain, this is how Lila meets Master Fu: as she was going back home after her original Akumatization she spotted four delinquents her age trying to mug Master Fu and scared them off by pretending Ladybug was about to jump them-and was actually ready to physically beat them up if that failed (and hopeful it happened and gave her the chance to vent some of her anger on them). She then escorted the old man to his home.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, on the Flying Island of Tipaan, a disguised George and Ringo are jamming along with the Six Step Combo (and having a damn good time doing so). Things abruptly stop when one of the "Punk Cowboys" stands up and accuses the two of being members of the Awesome Foursome. When George and Ringo just sit there looking incredibly guilty and with no clue as to how to plausibly deny the accusation, the three Punk Cowboys get up on stage to unmask them. The Six Steppers, all civilians, promptly beat the crap out of them. Ranala, the group's drummer, does for one of the Punk Cowboys all by herself, beating him over the head with her drum until he falls over. Turns out the Six Steppers knew they were outworlders in disguise but didn't care; indeed, they had good reasons for coming so swiftly and decisively to Ringo and George's aid.
  • In Chapter 30 of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Ash is confronted by two of the Eevee Brothers, who are worried that, having seen a recent tournament where Ash won using Pikachu, their little brother will try to emulate him and fail (context: trying to win his battles using unevolved Pokémon instead of evolved ones), and decide that the only way to avoid that is beating him in a battle. However, a woman steps up saying that if they're going to challenge Ash together, she will team up with him. Said woman is Elite Four member Karen, thus Curb-Stomp Battle ensues.
  • Two examples in My Ridonculous Race. The 1st is Anjel Williams, who offers to drive Jordan and Fabian throughout London when they blow all their money on a hospital visit. 2nd are the Gym Rats Gabriella and Nekota, an already eliminated team who not only find one racer's stolen passport but also offer to drive their team around Washington DC.
  • Recommencer: When Luka gets akumatized into Restarter during Marinette's first day at her new school, two of her new classmates, Ashli and Félix, get involved in the fight. Both prove far more useful than Chat Noir, who spends the incident complaining about Ladybug getting help and proving that she needs outside aid by refusing to cooperate with her plan unless she 'admits that she loves him'.
  • Rose's Stand, a Recursive Fic for LadyBugOut, centers on Rose using the self-defense tips she got from the titular blog to defend herself against an akuma, knocking them out cold before Ladybug gets there.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: The Macks get kidnapped, but before the kidnappers can drive off, they're confronted by the neighbours. Turns out that traces of GC-161 have been getting into the town water supply, giving superpowers to a significant fraction of the population.
  • Izuku in It Takes a Child to Teach a Village stops a robbery by yelling at the would-be robber about an English test he failed. Turns out, the criminal was one of his students.
    Films — Animation 
  • The driver in 101 Dalmatians whose van the dogs hide in to escape from Cruella, who keeps ramming him several times in the climax, hoping to first send him in the snow and then off a cliff. Not realizing that there's a bunch of Dalmatians hiding in the back of his van, the man merely yells at her, mutters "Crazy woman driver," and focuses on keeping his van on the road (which he succeeds in).
  • In Barbie: Mariposa, a pink Flutterpixie helps Mariposa recover the antidote from Henna. The Flutterpixie isn't even named, but it's her contribution to the fight that helps save the Queen.
  • Most of Paris gets to be this in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when in the climactic battle scene the crowd that had gathered to protest Esmeralda getting burned at the stake undergoes a mass Took a Level in Badass as a result of a Rousing Speech by Phoebus; they all join Phoebus in kicking the tar out of Judge Frollo's goon squad while Quasimodo is busy tending to Esmeralda (who is fighting for her life after having inhaled too much smoke). And we had actually seen hints of this earlier at the Festival of Fools, when Frollo orders his guards to arrest Esmeralda and the Street Performers in the plaza do their part to help her escape.
  • In Incredibles 2, Winston refuses to let his sister murder all the supers and ambassadors left behind on the Everjust. He jumps off the escape plane, frees the Supers and ambassadors, and orders them to the back of the ship to be as far from the impact zone as possible.
  • In Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, John Henry Irons (who in this verse is just a construction worker) clobbers one of the attacking Atlantean soldiers with a sledgehammer. It should be noted that in the original comics, he tried to do the same to Doomsday before a building fell on him.
  • The grandma from Madagascar beat Alex, a tamed lion, which is only amped up in the sequel into an all devouring Deus Ex Grandmachina.
  • In Mulan, there's the Chinese soldier from the intro, who... well, just watch.
  • In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Derpy/Muffins sees one of the villains' petrification grenades heading for Twilight and shoves her out of the way.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword has a samurai sushi chef who casually takes out a horde of robot ninjas when they attack Shaggy and Scooby in his restaurant.
    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anna and the Apocalypse: A pair of teenage girls (neither of whom have any dialogue or are even named) swat at a pack of zombies with their backpacks for several seconds while trying vainly to get the Distracted from Death Anna's attention and warn her to get to safety.
  • The Avenging Disco Godfather has the Title Character (played by Rudy Ray Moore) yell to a random jogger while fighting drug pushers, "Howard, these men are angel dust dealers!" The jogger replies, "Okay, Godfather," and joins the fray. "Howard" was actually Rudy Ray Moore's martial arts instructor in real life.
  • Baby Driver: When Baby and his crew flee the scene of the money truck heist, a witness to the robbery begins relentlessly pursuing them, proving himself to be nearly as much a Badass Driver as Baby himself while spraying their vehicle with submachinegun fire. He's implied to be some sort of crazed war veteran and is far more dangerous than the actual police.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, one of the civilians being evacuated by the Marines, Mr. Rincon, is doing his best to help the troops as they escape. During the freeway battle scene, he spots an alien flanking the Marines. Despite his lack of training, he grabs a fallen rifle and sprays the alien from the hip, taking it out, but taking a shot to the gut in the process. He eventually dies a few hours later.
  • Best Seller. A criminal tries to hijack a car, brandishing his .38. The black man in the driver's seat turns round with a .45 and tells him he can't oblige as he's on his lunch break. The criminal gets an Oh, Crap! look and flees.
  • In Black Sunday, Kabakov and Corey use a Flashed-Badge Hijack to commandeer a helicopter to chase the blimp. Despite being shot at, and in danger of being blown up, the pilot does an excellent job of holding his nerve and is vital in saving the day.
  • Blind Fury: When Lyle and Tector carjack an elderly couple, the wife pulls a gun out of her purse and shoots after them as they speed away.
  • The priest from BrainDead, who just ran into some zombies by complete accident: "I kick arse for the Lord!"
  • There are several movies where the character Jackie Chan plays is just some random guy that happens to know martial arts—however, his characters could also be considered to be Right Man in the Wrong Place.
  • Matheson in Cliffhanger. The villains are conducting a daring plane-to-plane hijacking in midair, and Matheson is one of the doomed Redshirt FBI agents on board. He's shot multiple times in the chest, but gets back up while they're transferring the money cases over to their plane by cable, grabs an Uzi, shoots one of the hijackers, then riddles the bad guys' plane with bullets, mortally wounding another one of them and making them lose the money cases and crash their plane because his bullets hit the hydraulic system. Long story short: this one random guy manages to screw over the villains singlehandedly!
  • The old Mexican lady in Cloud Atlas whose dog Mr. Smoke shoots, only for her to beat him to death with a wrench before he can shoot the protagonists of that particular subplot.
  • Diary of the Dead has the dynamite and scythe wielding, deaf, Amish zombie killer Samuel who introduces himself amidst blowing up the undead. Likewise the female paramedic who karate-kicks a standing zombie in the head.
  • The Dark Knight: At the beginning of the film, a bank gets robbed by a gang of masked goons. The nameless bank manager, played by William Fichtner, hangs his head in apparent dejection when they arrive, only to blow one of the goons away with a hidden shotgun. He then goes on an irate rampage, shooting at the goons while screaming about how the bank is owned by the mob. He runs out of ammo before he can kill any more, but he puts up an impressive show.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Wonder Woman: One of the completely random German soldier Mooks during the village fight manages to dodge the bullet Diana deflects at him, runs in and tries to shoot her at point blank range, and even manages to duck one swing from her before hitting her with his knife. Diana picks him up and chucks him out a window for his trouble, but hey, points for effort.
    • SHAZAM!: The first time Billy attempts to be a superhero (instead of just messing around with his powers) is when he hears someone screaming and finds a mugging in process. When he goes to intervene, it turns out that it's the mugger screaming. The "victim" pepper sprayed him before he got a chance to take her purse. She keeps her composure until Billy demonstrates his powers and she realizes she's out of her depth (not that Billy was trying to mug her, of course, but when you're alone in an alley with an invulnerable guy you don't know, it's best not to take chances).
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League: In the Final Battle, one of the Parademons manning the defense cannons of Steppenwolf's base manages to stop the Flash mid-race with an incredibly well-timed shot.
  • Destroyer: When Petra is attempting to stomp Erin to death in the ice cream parlour, one of the customers grabs her and pulls her off.
  • There's the black guy in From Dusk Till Dawn, a random guy who can punch a vampire's chest and pull out his still-beating heart on the first try. It turns out that this badass grandpa is Fred Williamson of '70s exploitation movie infamy. His war story about how he chopped up an enemy platoon with a bayonet after getting his face blown off by a land mine probably sheds a bit of light on how he could rip fat vampire's heart out, bare-handed and throw vampire Tom Savini through an oak door. Meanwhile, the named characters still needed to use weapons to slay their vamps.
  • When a gang of Yakuza pull swords on Bae-dal in Fighter in the Wind, some guy in a hat (later revealed to be an old friend) leaps out of the crowd and fights them to a standstill, despite only having one hand.
  • Subverted in Gnaw: Food of the Gods II. During the giant rats' attack on the synchronized swimming competition, an audience member grabs a gun from a policeman and begins shooting, except that all he succeeds in doing is shooting other people. Lt. Weizel has to grab the weapon away from him before he can do any further damage.
  • Nigel James in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. For a jerkass minor character, he proves himself surprisingly capable at handling supervillains. When Storm Shadow breaks out his water containment, James manages to stun him by electrocuting the leaking water. He then attempt to get things back under control by rallying his guards, but another Cobra crashes the party and kills everyone. Now heavily wounded, James still manages to pull off one last act of defiance by destroying a fuel tank and wounding Storm Shadow, thus depriving the Cobras of their best assassin.
  • In the Jim Jarmusch film, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, there's a short scene where the title character witnesses a mugger getting ready to attack an old man from behind. Just as it seems like Ghost Dog's about to intervene (presumably to help the old man), the old man begins slowly putting down his groceries with almost arthritic movements...and then effortlessly floors the young mugger with a pair of martial arts kicks. After that the old man picks his groceries up again and merrily goes about his business. We never see him again.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy: One of the guerrillas who attacks the president is knocked unconscious by a potted plant a female office worker throws at him.
  • Gunless: The local blacksmith that Sean thought was a good idea to try an intimidate. Also the entire town shows they are not afraid to stand up to the ruthless bounty hunters.
  • In Haywire, during the diner fight, a male bystander wrestles Aaron away from Mallory, and seconds later the waitress smashes a coffee pot over Aaron's head.
  • At the end of The Hideous Sun Demon, an anonymous policeman tenaciously pursues the Sun Demon to the top of a gasometer, where they fight. Although the Sun Demon nearly kills the cop, he survives, resumes his pursuit, and ultimately succeeds in sending the monster toppling to his death on the street.
  • In the original Highlander film, a Crazy Survivalist/Vietnam War veteran comes across the Kurgan decapitating another Immortal, and empties a magazine from a submachinegun into him. The Kurgan recovers and impales him, but in an additional badass move, the vet survives.
  • Subverted in Hobo with a Shotgun by a random doctor, who flips out and opens fire on the Plague when they first burst into his hospital. While he does get killed in the end, he still at least had the guts to face (and attack) The Dreaded head on.
  • In the Korean film The Host (2006), when the monster first rampages through a public area, an American man takes it upon himself to mount a valiant attack on the monster before getting mauled. A news report later reveals that he's a soldier. This is probably done to compensate for the otherwise anti-American slant of the film.
  • In The Island (1980), one of the sailors on the schooner turns out to be a martial artist and takes down several of the pirates, before one of them gets sick of his antics and guts him with a cutlass.
  • James Bond:
    • In Goldfinger, Bond attempts to disarm the nuclear bomb in Fort Knox and has no idea how to do it. Luckily, a random nuclear scientist happens to show up just in time to save the day.
      • Since the specialist is brought, for that reason, by Felix Leiter, the CIA equivalent of Bond, he isn't really a bystander. Doesn't make him, or the detonation scene, any less badass.
    • In The Living Daylights, The Dragon Necros, a dangerous assassin, infiltrates an MI6 safehouse, quietly murders his way through numerous guards...and is discovered by a random security officer known only by his radio callsign (Green 4), a One-Scene Wonder who immediately gets in a fight with him and manages to give Necros a very serious challenge, and is only defeated when Necros knocks him out with a frying pan. Green 4 not only held off the man who gives Bond himself trouble for several minutes, but also (probably) survives the attack.
      • An honourable mention must also go to an unidentified airbase security guard in the title sequence, who sees a SAS trooper on exercise run down by an enemy agent in a stolen Land Rover and comes running out of the guardhouse in time to put most of his sub-machine gun's magazine into the fleeing vehicle, nicking a crate of incendiaries in the back and ensuring the killer wouldn't get away. 007 ultimately did most of the work offing the guy, but still.
    • In Licence to Kill, a nameless, seemingly-ordinary truck driver manages to hold his against Bond himself when Bond attempts a High-Speed Hijack on his truck. He survives, and is thrown from his truck.
  • The badass waitress Vicki from Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Who valiantly tried to defend the patrons of the dinner from Jason, by whooping his ass with a barbecue skewer and a shotgun!
    Vicki: (after being impaled on the skewer and right before getting her head crushed) Go to hell!
  • The bathroom brawl scene in Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter involves one of the vampires being killed by some random guy on the toilet. Using a plunger.
  • An example of this is seen in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. After 'Mr. Frying Pan' accidentally drives into a food stall in the park, he leaves his car and attempts to shoot at Gay Perry, only to be shot in the back by the angry stall owner.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, low-life crook Sing discovers too late that everyone in Pig Sty Ally could kick his ass all goddamn day. Then the shy, effeminate tailor turns out to be the most badass martial artist of the lot. Later on, Sing and his accomplice harass a salaryman on a trolley until he grabs both of them by the collar and starts pounding their heads into the seats.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: When Quatermain's attacked at his club, one of the other hunters there gets out his own rifle, getting a shot at the assassins which lightly injures one of them. After being forced to dive for cover, he still yells out a warning to Quatermain when another killer comes at him from behind.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man 2, when the Hammeroids go haywire and start attacking people, everyone immediately starts running away in a full-on panic—well, everyone except for one little kid wearing toy replicas of Iron Man's mask and repulsor. The kid stands up to one of the Hammeroids at the Stark Expo and manages to distract it long enough for the real Iron Man to show up and defeat it (Iron Man also thanks the kid before the leaving). When you really think about it, that kid likely prevented massive collateral damage and saved the lives of numerous people.note 
      Iron Man: Nice work, kid!
    • In Thor, Jeremy Renner plays one of these in a cameo as Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, a member of The Avengers.
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger a kid gets grabbed by Heinz Krugernote  and used as a hostage/human shield during the chase scene after Steve's transformation. Kruger eventually chucks the kids into a nearby river to keep Steve from chasing after him—but when Steve goes over to the kid (presumably to help him out), said kid yells up to Steve, "Go get him! I can swim!", which ultimately helps Steve in catching up to Kruger.note 
    • The Avengers has a minor character (credited simply as "Old German Man") who decides that he'd rather be Defiant to the End against Loki instead of kneeling before him. Taking several things into considerationnote , that guy was probably old enough to remember when this same situation happened before in Germany—and he'll be damned if he just sits around and lets it happen again.
      Loki: You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.
      Old German: [slowly stands up] Not to men like you.
      Loki: There are no men like me.
      Old German: There are always men like you.
    • In the third act of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Brock Rumlow goes up to a random nerdy-looking S.H.I.E.L.D. IT guy and orders him to launch Project Insight. He refuses, even though the expression on his face makes it abundantly clear that he fully expects Rumlow to shoot him for refusing.
      S.H.I.E.L.D. Tech: Sorry. Captain's orders.
    • Played for Laughs in Captain Marvel. After the titular heroine arrives on Earth, she follows a Shapeshifting criminal onto the Los Angeles subway, where the opponent takes the shape of an old woman. Captain Marvel pulls no punches, and the Wrong Genre Savvy passengers immediately try to restrain her and protect the old lady.
    • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the two Coldstream Guards at the Tower of London launch into action and take on the high-end Attack Drones with ordinary assault rifles destroying one and heavily damaging another.
  • The prison break by Luke Santee's gang in More Dead Than Alive is foiled by one of the prison guards who does not go down as easily as expected. He instead kills several of the gang and buys the rest of the guards time to rally and repel the assault. This character has no lines and is not named.
  • Mother: The mother spies two teen boys threatening a girl with a knife, so she drops a bottle to get the attention of a cook who happens to be walking by. He sees what's happening and immediately rushes to the rescue, driving off the teens and saving the girl. He's never seen again.
  • In the early '90s Cyberpunk film Nemesis, protagonist Alex Rain is fleeing some heavily-built, cyborg assassins on the streets of Shang Loo, "a low-tech Asian shithole". After he ducks around a corner, one of his pursuers runs into an old lady crossing the street and tries to muscle her out of the way. She mutters, "goddamned cyborg!", produces a large pistol from her handbag, and shoots the assassin three times in the back, then shoots him five times while he's on the ground.
    Alex Rain: [chuckling] Shang Loo takes no shit. I love this town.
  • The Richard Linklater biopic The Newton Boys has quite a bit of interference from heroic citizens when the gang tries to simultaneously rob three different pairs of Canadian bank couriers as they leave a money exchange.
    • When Willis Newton's shotgun briefly jams, the two middle-aged bank couriers he's holding at gunpoint manage to wrestle his shotgun away just as he fixes the problem, forcing him to shoot one man in the shoulder with his sidearm.
    • Willis's eldest brother Dock is forced to pistol-whip both of the couriers he's fighting, and one of them pulls a gun on him. Then a young doorman watching from a nearby doorway jumps onto his back and tries to choke him. By the time Dock overpowers the doorman, the armed courier has recovered enough to shoot after him, and a well-dressed bystander tackles Dock to keep him from shooting back at the courier.
    • Another Newton, Jess, ends up with one of the couriers he held up grabbing onto his leg. Even after being pistol-whipped multiple times, the man refuses to let go until another courier runs over to take up the struggle with Jess. That man puts Jess in a headlock before Joe, the final Newton brother, races up to knock him out.
    • Several people throw glass and ceramic objects from second and third-story windows at the brothers' accomplice, Brent Glasscock, causing him to retreat.
    • When a police car arrives on the scene, the fleeing Newtons disable it with a gunshot, and a cop standing on the running board is sent roughly tumbling onto the street. He fires a shot from the ground that hits their car. The Newtons return fire, injuring the man in the side, but he is mostly unaffected and keeps shooting at them until they make it out of range.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge: One of the guests at Lisa's party tries talking Freddy down while he is on a killing rampage.
  • Patriot Games:
    • Although he's the main character, Jack Ryan is effectively an example, being an ex-CIA, ex-Marine who happens to be standing right beside an IRA assassination attempt in London. He leaps to the rescue, foiling the assassination. The bulk of the film is taken up by the terrorists' attempts to kill him in retaliation, which gets the weight of the American government dropped on them.
    • The IRA's attempt to murder Jack Ryan in Annapolis would have succeeded if not for the intervention of a Naval Academy guard who makes a split-second assessment of the situation and shoots the would-be assassin in the chest. Ryan doesn't even thank the young man or explain what just happened, and we never see or hear from the hero again.
  • The scientists in the first chapter of the Commando Cody serial Radar Men from the Moon are surprisingly good fighters. They hold their own for a while against a pair of hired thugs as seen and commented on in this MST3K episode.
  • Early on in the cheap RoboCop rip-off R.O.T.O.R., the female hostage in a convenience store robbery unexpectedly busts out some martial arts moves and beats the last robber into submission.
  • In Shaolin Soccer the main character envisions a world where everyone uses kung fu in their day to day lives. In the end, we see a bunch of random people in the street performing amazing feats of Wire Fu.
  • In Sharknado 2: The Second One, all of New York's citizens pitch in and help kill the sharks.
  • In Shotgun (1955), Ed and Al, the two guys manning the stage station, put up quite a fight against Thompson's henchmen Perez and Greybar. They very nearly win, but Thompson arrives and tips the odds.
  • The lady at the bookies in Snatch., who deftly makes a fool of Sol and Vinnie when they try to rob the place. Not that that takes a lot of effort, mind you, but her complete nonchalance at being robbed by two men with a military shotgun takes some minerals.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • In the first film, Spidey is about to be finished off by the Green Goblin when he is saved by... a crowd of New Yorkers on the Queensboro Bridge throwing bricks, pipes, etc. at the bad guy.
    • Subverted in the second film when Spider-Man nearly kills himself stopping a train from driving off the end of the tracks. After he's pulled back inside the tram by the passengers, Doctor Octopus shows up to finish him off, at which point everyone in the car stands up and proclaims that he'll have to get through them first. He casually knocks them all aside. At least they tried...
    • Played straight with Aunt May. She sees Octavius setting up to ambush Spider-Man, and clubs him around the back of the head with an umbrella cane hard enough to cost him his shot. Shame on you, indeed.
  • At the end of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, a merry-go-round is careening wildly out of control, endangering the lives of dozens of people. The hero who volunteers to crawl under the rapidly spinning death trap, reach the mechanism at the center, and switch it off is...some random old guy who was never seen before and who is never mentioned again. We don't even find out if he survives.
  • When Sam in TRON: Legacy is cornered in the bar by four black guards, he's clearly outmatched, even with Quorra helping him. Bartik and several resistance members take on the guards, but are swiftly derrezed. As the fight plays out, bar patrons and resistance members get involved, one guard is derrezed by a patron stabbing him in the back, and two more are overpowered and killed by other bystanders.
  • Two blood suckers assault an ambulance in The Twins Effect that holds the heroine. Thinking the vampires are hurt, the driver stops and gets out to help them, not understanding what the heroine means by "undead". Despite his ignorance, the super humanly strong duo with the power of flight prove to be no match for the ambulance driver. At least not until they decide to attack together, then they manage a stalemate. The ambulance driver was played by the film's producer, Jackie Chan.
  • In Unknown, Gina's a mere taxi driver and waitress, but she ends up killing three assassins (the first by sneaking up on him while he's strangling the hero and then injecting him with his own poison, the next two with Car Fu). The hero, on the other hand, only manages to kill one.
  • Vigilante: Vickie is a house wife uninvolved in the vigilante movement, but she intervenes to stop Prago and his thugs when they viciously assault a gas station attendant over a slight. They take it poorly, follow her home, and shoot her eight-year-old son (the latter fatally). This leaves Vickie bitterly regretful about her earlier heroics and triggers her husband's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Werewolf (featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000) includes a random citizen that can kick a werewolf's ass.
  • In X2: X-Men United, one of the random kids at the school turns out to be Siren. When the spooks invade the school, she starts screaming, nearly paralyzing everyone in the entire building.
  • The two hunters in Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, who first save Linda from the pack of vampire dogs, and then later reappear to help Michael and Branco destroy the pack. Unlike Drake and Branco they have no connection to Dracula, and no idea about vampires. They just happen to be in the area and step in to do the right thing when they see someone in trouble.

  • Meg Cabot's All-American Girl examines this from the point of view of the bystander. She just happens to be present at the scene of an attempted presidential assassination, and tackles the assassin, injuring herself in the process. She does nothing else heroic or extraordinary over the course of the book, and does not view herself as a hero, but the resultant fame changes her life in a variety of ways, good and bad.
  • Parodied in The Clone, by Theodore L. Thomas. In a mall, a guy never seen before finds himself face to face with Blob Monster that is terrorizing Chicago, and he figures out in minutes more of the monster's weaknesses than the protagonist has since the beginning of the book. He dies moments later — before he's had the chance to communicate his findings to anybody — because he was too busy getting a suit to stay away from the monster.
  • The Dreamside Road: Orson is initially frustrated by the presence of the Wintertide Festival guests trying to join in the brawl against the Liberty Corps. However, they ultimately prove essential in his efforts to get close enough to Master Nine to battle the Shaper one-on-one.
  • The Dresden Files: In Battle Ground the Fomor decide to take their magical army and slaughter the entire population of Chicago. They do not expect the normal muggle humans who live there to do much but roll over and die. Instead the locals take up arms pretty much instantly and become one of the major contributing factors to the Fomor's defeat despite how many of them are killed in the fighting.
  • In Executive Orders, Terrorists storm the day care where the presidents' pre-school aged daughter is being held. The only man there to pick up his kids that day is an armed FBI agent in plainclothes, who manages to kill both of them.
  • Used a few times in the badass-saturated Malazan Book of the Fallen, sometime to introduce a character that will become important a few books down the line.
    • Traveller first shows up in House of Chains accompanying a group of nameless soldiers, defeats a hundred Elite Mooks off-screen, and leaves the narrative by the end of the chapter that introduced him.
    • In Gardens of the Moon, the major point-of-view character Adjunct Lorn, who is the Empress's personal mage killer with her Anti-Magic longsword, faces off against a random soldier named Corporal Blues who is guarding her real target. He quickly overwhelms her with his remarkable swordsmanship, forcing her to flee. Blues remains a fairly minor character through the rest of the series.
  • Badass Bystander: In "Death Shall Overcome," the exposed murderer flees through the halls of the New York Stock Exchange and is overpowered by an unnamed U.S. Steel specialist who takes in how he's running from the cops.
    U.S. Steel Specialist: My boy, I don't know why they want you, but...
    With that, he pivoted and landed a competent rabbit punch. He followed this up with a short, powerful jab. The murderer folded. He did not slump to the ground since he was held erect by the crushed tangle surrounding him. The U.S. Steel specialist might be sixty and overweight, but he had not boxed at Dartmouth for nothing.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric Watley lives in the Warrior Town district of Roalt and so every single one of his neighbors is capable of beating down monsters. This becomes most relevant in Transcending Limitations where they trounce the assassins sent after Basilard and Zettai.
  • Junior Jedi Knights: In Lyric's World, several young Melodies help Anakin and Tahiri fight back against a snake monster by throwing rocks at it. Given how they've grown up on a Death World, they have quite a bit of practice.
  • The Paladin of Shadows book A Deeper Blue has Will Carter, a former National Guardsman who helps Mike load his LMG and punches out a terrorist.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • Percy's mom and stepdad are surprisingly badass when faced with a horde of monsters. This despite the fact that neither has any kind of supernatural fighting skills, and Percy's stepdad can't even see the monsters thanks to the Weirdness Censor.
    • Rachel Elizabeth Dare, who covers for Percy (who at the time was a perfect stranger) and puts the pursuing monsters on a false trail.
  • Richard Cole from The Power of Five. He rescues Matt from a bog and sets an Eldritch Abomination on fire.
  • Klaus Rosenthal and Francis De la Cruz from Rainbow Six (the novel, not the game). One's a seventy-something Holocaust survivor, the other a theme park employee and former Spanish soldier. Klaus, while being taken hostage, hides a paring knife up his sleeve, and when the Rainbow troops set up their ambush, he spot them lying in ambush (something the highly-trained terrorists failed to do, mostly because he was intimately familiar with his lawn). When the Rainbow troops pull the ambush, he stabs one of the terrorists with his knife, giving them a clean shot. Francis De la Cruz, meanwhile, is dressed up as a Roman centurion when the terrorists start taking hostages, and he goes after them with his sword. This is not a prop blade, either; this sword is made from genuine Toledo steel, and he cuts up one of the terrorists pretty well before another shoots him in the leg. (seriously, the last thing anyone expects while a terrorist plot is unfolding is for a freaking Roman centurion to flip out and start chopping the bad guys up) In both cases, the Rainbow troops, themselves just about the most badass people on the planet at the time, honestly consider both of their actions to be pretty badass.
  • Robin Hood ran afoul of one of these men in the course of his adventures; when waylaying a beggar with a large bag because he was curious what was in the bag, Robin got pissed off by the beggar's insolence and nocked an arrow to threaten him. The beggar proceeded to take his staff and, in rapid succession, break Robin's bow, numb his sword arm, and knock him senseless before proceeding on his way. When Little John and George-A-Green attempt to avenge Robin's injury, the beggar pretends to surrender, offering them the money in his bag; instead it turns out to be full of meal, which the beggar throws at their faces before beating the crap out of both of them. The nameless beggar, who never appears again, remains one of the few to soundly thrash the outlaws and walk away unscathed.
  • Victoria has several examples, but the most iconic is an old woman who beats down an armed gangster with her umbrella.
  • Invoked in The Wheel of Time, in which the world's most famous swordsman is said to have only been defeated by a random farmer with a staff. This is used as a lesson not to underestimate your opponents.
    Live-Action TV 
  • In Season 4 of 24, Jack and Paul Raines take refuge in a gun store while being hunted by mercenaries. The two Arabic brothers who owned the store say they have lived here all their lives and refuse to abandon it, and help them repel the attackers.
  • Banshee: When two armed criminals hold kids hostage at the school, Deva's friend is able to temporarily incapacitate one of them.
  • In Chuck, Big Mike ends up, on two separate occasions, completely owning enemy special agents that had been giving Team Chuck major problems earlier in the episode.
  • In Desperate Housewives, a nameless extra is the one who ends up taking down and killing the insane gun wielding murderer holding a grocery store full of innocents hostage, after all evidence seemed to be implying that one of the main characters was going to.
  • One episode of Dragnet features a bank robber whose MO was to force his way into a car with a woman and force her at gunpoint to serve as his accomplice for the robberies. At the end of the episode, he inadvertently picks a karate teacher, who is in the process of kicking the crap out of him when Friday and Gannon show up. Played with in that she's shown to be badly shaken afterwards.
  • The F.B.I.: In "Special Delivery", the manager of a car rental yard shoots and critically wounds a bank robber who has just shot his mechanic and stolen one of the cars.
  • Simon does a medical version of this in Firefly. Disguised as a bystander in a hospital, he saves a random patient's life when the patient's normal doctor didn't do it right, and just keeps on walking.
  • Deconstructed in Flashpoint when every time an untrained bystander tries to intervene, it made things worse such as in "Grounded" where Parker would have been able to talk down the hostage takers if a passenger didn't try to be a hero.
    • In one episode, Jules' new boyfriend, a paramedic, enters a hostage situation to help an injured man. This results in him and Jules being taken hostage, and he ends up with a (fortunately non-lethal) gunshot wound for his trouble.
    • Occasionally, the SRU will coach someone through a situation if there's a reason they can't handle it directly or if they suspect the subject will react better to a third party, but it's always under their guidance, and the most they'll ever have the bystander do is talk the subject down.
    • The one time it's played straight, the bystander in question is an SRU officer himself. Even then, he uses a hidden radio to get help from his team.
    • Deconstructed in one episode with an ex-cop who deliberately engineered a hostage situation in order for him to appear as a Badass Bystander to defuse a situation as a way to regain his career, join the SRU after failing to be accepted and prove specifically to Parker that he was SRU material. Unfortunately for him, things spiraled out of his control and he ended up accidentally shooting the hostage.
  • Hobb from Game of Thrones, who is mentioned in passing a few times as the Castle Black cook but is basically just a background extra, gets a whole sequence dedicated to him fighting off several Wildling raiders with kitchen utensils during the siege of Castle Black.
    • Hobb and Glenn replace Donal Noye, the one armed blacksmith who dies in mutual combat with Mag the Mighty.
  • Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger has a scene possibly inspired by the Bike Thrower example under Real Life below, with some differences — the bike belonged to Akagi Nobuo, who tried to help but couldn't, and the bike was hurled at the robber by the victim herself.
  • In Jonathan Creek, a little old lady witnesses a group of men nailing another man into a coffin and attacks them with a tree branch and pepper spray. She takes down four men, and knocks at least two of them into an open grave before using her security whistle to call for the police. It's just a shame that she was actually interrupting a perfectly innocent magic trick...
  • Kingdom (2019): In the fifth episode of Season 2, an unnamed servant armed with only a club and what appears to be the lid to a large pot manages to briefly hold off the undead horde while protecting a group of other servants. He is ultimately overwhelmed, but it was still impressive.
  • In Merlin an undead wraith crashes into Camelot and throws a gauntlet down before King Uther and Prince Arthur's feet. Though it is clearly intended for a member of the royal family, on two separate occasions a knight of Camelot grabs it before Arthur can in order to protect him.
  • In the first season finale of The OA, the school shooter is taken out by a random cafeteria worker.
  • The citizens of Angel Grove become this in the finale of Power Rangers in Space. Firstly, when Astronema holds the Earth hostage, she demands that the Rangers step forth or she will start killing people. The citizens then proceed to re-enact the I Am Spartacus scene. Then when the Rangers appear and morph in plain view of the citizens, Bulk and Skull of all people, lead them in a charge against the Quantrons. After six years of monster attacks, it was clear the people of Angel Grove decided enough was enough.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 pilot episode "Children of the Gods", when the team breaks out of Apophis' prison along with a bunch of slaves, one of the random unnamed slaves kills a Jaffa with his bare hands and stands alongside the military personnel covering everybody else's escape through the Stargate to Earth.
  • One episode of Taggart features a deconstruction; a suspect in the murders of some members of a criminal gang is the daughter of a man who tried to be one of these and got beaten to death with a baseball bat for his trouble.
  • Twin Peaks: When two Professional Killers are staking out the house of their target Dougie Jones (a.k.a. Agent Cooper), a pugnacious neighbor arrives and accuses them of blocking his driveway with their van. The killers try to scare him off by firing a round into his windshield, but he simply retrieves a Glock-17 from his trunk and sprays the assassins' van with bullets, killing both of them and inadvertently saving Jones/Cooper. Bonus points for doing all of this right in front of the FBI.
  • Vikings: In the episode "Kill the Queen", a random Mercian Mook is ordered to kill queen Kwenthrith. He makes a mad dash to the tower, ignoring an arrow shot to the leg in the process. At the tower he takes on Prince Aethelwulf, and damn near defeats him in a knockdown-dragout brawl which has to be seen to be believed, only to felled by a dropped rock from his own side.
  • The Wheel of Time: After the initial panicked flight, the Emond's Fielders under attack from the trollocs begin to gang up against them, wielding farming implements, and manage to kill a few this way. They still need help from Lan and Moiraine to turn the tide of the battle, but they're not helpless.
  • Played with to great effect in the original Whoops Apocalypse. A major sub-plot in the early episodes has the Soviets brutally interrogating a sweet, harmless elderly husband and wife whom they believe to be undercover agents for the West. The audience laughs merrily along at this, until suddenly... they beat the crap out of their interrogators, produce various spy-tech gadgets, and stage a jail break.
    Pro Wrestling 
  • The occasional nasty bump is one of the most important jobs of any valet worth his/her salt.
  • Any time a wrestler is assigned to call a match as the guest referee (and isn't blatantly biased in favour of one of the competitors) they qualify as this, pointedly averting the Glass Jaw Referee trope. The most famous example would be Ken Shamrock during the legendary Bret Hart vs "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Submission Match from WrestleMania XIII, where after Bret won by making Austin pass out, Shamrock hit him with a German suplex to stop him from beating down the helpless Austin further.
  • Dramatic Dream Team: A random photographer won the Ironman Heavymetal Weight Championship belt by hitting Aja Kong with a hammer while she was coming out for a match. After the match, she tracked him down and gave him a uraken.
  • Glamour Boy Shane serves as a referee for TNA, but in a classy move on their part, TNA recognized that he was one of the Caribbean's most popular wrestlers, which was most obvious with his work for somewhat rival IWA Puerto Rico, and treated him as a man not to be messed with, as opposed to the typical wrestling referee.
  • Terry Funk was present at ROH Glory By Honor IX, but he was only their to ensure Tyler Black did not go through with his threat and bail during his title defense against Roderick Strong.
  • Avernite civilians from Embers In The Dusk are always armed and are almost all members of a militia with a skill level above that of the stormtroopers of most other human forces.
    Tabletop Games 
  • By definition, EVERYONE in second-edition's version of Dark Sun that isn't a specific monster or named NPC falls into this category. To whit: in all other campaign settings, average NPCs had no level and anything done to them was "critical fail or total success." In Athas, a world with Everything Trying to Kill You being as literal as possible, the average person on the street is a level 3 Fighter. Later editions toned this down rules-wise, but it's still generally accepted that, with levels and such being a "relative" thing, everyone walking the blasted desert of a planet is functionally tougher than anyone from any other D&D world.
  • GURPS Supers mentions these as one possible way of saving the heroes if the villain is getting the upper hand, pointing out that to avoid stealing the heroes' thunder it's better not to let the bystander beat the villain on their own, but rather contribute just enough to turn the tide.
  • Every Hunter started out as one of these, it's their willingness to be so that persuades their mysterious patrons to give them a level or two in Badass.
  • A prefab scenario for having the team meet in Shadowrun involves the player characters being this when thugs attack a convenience store they are patronising, looking for another patron.
    Video Games 
  • Sakupen, creator of the Dad Series, appears in the Dad Game as a random bystander in the middle of a panicked crowd in an early level. If you attack him enough times, he suddenly turns into the hardest boss in the game.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, Bodahn Feddic's adopted son Sandal is just an Idiot Savant with unusual skill at enchantment. Except at the endgame, he murders over a hundred Darkspawn, including several Ogres, by himself. In the sequel, he does it again, and then adds a pile of massacred demons on top of it. Precisely how this happens is not clear.
      Warden: What happened here?
      Sandal: Enchantment!
    • And mind-bogglingly in the second game, among Sandal's victims is an Ogre that was somehow frozen solid without any other enemy or thing in the area being similarly afflicted. Naturally Hawke can ask Sandal what happened to the Ogre, his response?
      Sandal: Not Enchantment!
  • In Dwarf Fortress, human and dwarven merchant caravans will keep visiting your fort even during a siege. And since they all have bodyguards proportional to the quantity of carried goods, they can often dispatch a whole sieging force by themselves, and then just start bartering with you as if nothing had happened.
    • The Forgotten Beast that attacked the fortress of Bronzemurder was ultimately slain by human caravan guards.
    • In Adventure mode, if you're attacked and manage to make it back to a town, everyone will wake up, gather around you, and beat your assailant to a pulp.
    • This can also happen in Fortress mode if things go to hell and one or more dwarves decide not to run away. The usual manifestation is a dwarf gone Berserk being put down by everyone nearby, but there's also the occasional Werebeast getting mauled by a bar's worth of patrons and their cups. Miners in particular are known for ending any shit started nearby in seconds with a carefully-applied Powerful Pick.
  • In the Fallout series, as well as Oblivion, random people will try to take you out if you try to do something evil close to them, and will pick up random weapons like assault rifles and submachine guns lying around nearby to do it with. Sometimes (especially in Oblivion) overlaps with Shoplift and Die.
    • The willingness of random people to take on the dragons in Skyrim has reached memetic levels among fans. It is quite distressing (or perhaps heartening) to note the number of people who will charge straight in a torrent of flame in order to beat a dragon to death with their bare hands. Though this might explain all the random people who tell you they think they might be the Dragonborn.
    • In Fallout 4, every member of your settlements can become this. And depending on how well you arm them, they can potentially take on Raiders, Gunners, Super Mutants, and even Deathclaws on their own.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: 3-13 Archer. While most of the time the other army units are useless, one archer in this level is able to take on three laguz at once without dying. Best of all, he doesn't even have to do this. If he would simply remain at his starting position, the beasts would be unable to climb the ledge to attack him.
  • There is a cheat in some of the Grand Theft Auto games that causes every civilian to try to kill the player and another one that gives them weapons. Both cheats in tandem is a recipe for awesome.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, if you try to go upstairs or shot someone in the Malibu Club without owning it, the female bartender will immediately draw a stubby shotgun and try to kill you on the spot.
    • Grand Theft Auto V features random citizens who pack heat by default, so the absence of police in an area doesn't necessarily mean the coast is clear.
  • In Halo 3 during the assault on Covenant Anti-Air positions around Voi, a group of construction workers takes up arms and joins the Marines attacking the last battery.
  • The Wastelanders in Jak 3: Wastelander qualify, as not only will they shoot at you if you hit them, but when Spargus is overrun by Dark Makers, they fight back.
  • In L.A. Noire, you come across shop owners once and a while who have actually managed to scare the shit out of their robbers beforehand. Also occasionally pulled by ordinary beat cops.
    • In one occasion, if you spend enough time chasing a perp, a random resident standing on his lawn will throw a decking punch and stop him for you.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The giant pig at Link's home island in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Pigs are Wind Waker's replacement for Cuccos in that they attack Link if he attacks them enough times, and the giant pig acts the same way, only he does more damage to Link in a single hit than any other enemy in the entire game.
    • Attacking most unarmed civilians in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild usually makes them flinch back or duck in fear. Attacking Gorons, however, will usually get them to attack Link back.
  • In the school level of Lollipop Chainsaw, one student in the background actually fights back and defeats a few zombies before getting overwhelmed, unlike the others, who are mostly Too Dumb to Live.
  • In Mafia II, if you rob a store there's a distinct possibility (which increases, the rougher the neighborhood) that some civilian will pull a gun and try to take you down. They just might, too, if you're not quick enough getting into cover or shooting them down.
  • Mass Effect has the well-renowned Commander Shepard, who has plenty of opportunities for this across the entire trilogy, though it is most prominent in the War Hero backstory, where they single-handedly pull a You Shall Not Pass! on an entire army of Batarians, and the only reason they were there in the first place was because they were on shore leave.
  • Common in Max Payne, but hey, it's New York.
    • In 1, Max can shoot a random SUV as it drives by the alley he's sneaking through. The car will crash and the driver will come at Max with guns blazing.
    • In 2, Payne gets attacked by assassins in his own apartment, and has to fight his way through the tenement building to safety. On his way, an elderly woman shotguns one of the assassins through her door and gives Payne her other rifle. Then Payne rescues a hobo from a burning corridor, and said hobo unpacks two pistols, claiming to be an ex-cop himself. Then Payne encounters a random prostitute who got locked in the lobby by the perps. But she also draws a gun of her own, and so both she and the hobo proceed to help Payne to take down all the assassins.
    • In 3, Max's neighbor will kill several of the mafiosos raiding Max's apartment complex.
  • Octopath Traveler: Nearly every NPC in the game has individual stats for the sake of the effect that Path Actions have on them, with their power ranging from 1★ to 10★.
  • In one cinematic trailer for Overwatch, while the heroes and villains are fighting over Doomfist's Gauntlet, the older kid seen takes the gauntlet himself and punches Widowmaker across the exhibit hall.
  • Paper Mario has the Master and his students, residents of the game's dojo which are just as powerful as the game's bosses. The Master in particular can be optionally fought 3 times, with his final form being the game's superboss, even stronger than Bowser's final fight. Why he doesn't just take Bowser out himself or at least join the party to help is rather odd.
    • The opening of Paper Mario: Sticker Star shows several Toads grabbing Bowser by his tail and trying to pull him away from the Royal Stickers. Unlike the Master from above, these are just average Toad civilians without any special training or powers.
  • Postal 2 makes many jokes towards the Second Amendment, one of them including the fact that most civilians in Paradise, AZ have plenty of weapons in their house that you can pick up in case you break into them. Some civillians will also effectively pull out their guns and try to take you down in case you start causing trouble, or, in harder difficulties, they just come after you the moment they see you!
  • Blue in Red's quest in SaGa Frontier. When the Cool Ship gets attacked by pirates, Blue easily takes out the one who charges into his room. But because he's kind of a dick, he refuses to help Red because he doesn't like his name. In fairness, it differs only in language from his Evil Twin. His Good Twin, actually.
  • In Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, an upgrade allows you to invoke this by getting nearby husks (the civilian-equivalent) to join you in fighting Satan's minions.
  • Be careful which civilians you pick a fight with in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Some of them are tougher than the final boss.
  • Space Rangers allows you to pull off a version of this. You can hail any ship in a system to joint attack a target. They won't always agree, but situations where a trader, passenger liner, and diplomat team up to help you take down a troublesome Space Pirate are fairly common. Attacks by a Klissan/Dominator fleet tend to make even the pirates drop everything and pitch in.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy 2, there's a Gearmo who purposefully stands in the path of rolling Chomps and lets them collide right into him. The Chomps invariably explode apart on impact, but the Gearmo remains unscathed, despite enduring god knows how many Chomps.
  • In the opening minutes of Wolfenstein: The New Order, a crack team of Nazi commandos sweep through a mental asylum and slaughter every single person inside without resistance... With the notable exception of one badass nurse who presumably shouldn't have been fucked with. You find her dead body slumped up against the wall, with a shotgun at her side and a Nazi commando's dead body lying a few feet in front of her.
  • X-COM:
    • Civilians and VIP's in the newer games aren't slouches, and have the same mobility as a trained XCOM operative. That includes climbing drainpipes at full speed, leaping through closed windows and doing perfect hang-and-drop jumps off of ledges as high as 15 feet with no ill effects.
    • The Resistance fighters in XCOM 2, who pick up assault rifles to fight the ADVENT troops attacking their camps. They're pretty damn good at it, too, scoring more hits (and critical hits) than the average squaddie.
  • As opposed to other such games, in Xenonauts, some of the terrorized civilians are actually armed, which can lead to police officers and shotgun-toting farmers killing space lizard commandos, rare a sight as it may be.
  • Yakuza 0: The doctor in the epilogue, who charges into the street, seemingly perfectly prepared to throw down with the one-eyed, heavily tattooed man whom he thinks has been harassing one of his patients. It's all a misunderstanding, but even the one-eyed, heavily tattooed man in question is impressed by the little guy's pluck.
  • Any student in Yandere Simulator who catches you committing murder. Those with a Heroic personality will try to take you down on the spot. Any others will report you to a teacher or the police, and if you thwart that by cleaning up the crime scene before they get back, they'll still call you out to your face, telling you that they're making sure the whole school knows what you did. Telling you about it is perhaps imprudent, but you have to admit it takes serious guts.
  • In Daughter of the Lilies, a random fire mage and his friend manage to distract a monstrous demonic frog thingie before it can complete a gigantic Drath summoning circle.
  • Drowtales:
  • Airman Higgs from Girl Genius is a low-level soldier who never distinguished himself, despite unreal stamina, enough strength to hold his own in a barfight with Jägermonsters, and a bit of a silver tongue. Subverted: Higgs is one of the immortal creations of the Heterodynes temporarily sworn to the baron's service, implied to be the spycraft-focused Jäger general. That his career prior to this point in the story was mundane to the point of invisibility is not a coincidence, nor is the fact that he is willing to bend his cover to the breaking point to aid the Heterodyne and the Baron, who is keeping the Jägers alive. Essentially, he's anything but a bystander.
  • Officer Tod from Sluggy Freelance, a seemingly useless cop, actually manages to go toe-to-toe with the assassin who killed Oasis.
    Web Original 
  • In the third RP of Darwin's Soldiers, the heroes end up getting ambushed by Dragonstorm soldiers. They are assisted by some nearby loggers, who do remarkably well in battle against them.
  • Early in The Salvation War, a demon attacked a mall. A security guard died to give others time to escape and a pair of hunters who happened to have big game rifles in their truck finally took it down. Similar scenes occurred elsewhere, especially in Detroit. Given that Humans Are Special and Humans Are Warriors are big themes in the work, it's to be expected.
  • In chapter 4 of T.O.T., an elderly man and regular home owner nearly kills Maximus Slade with his shotgun after the werewolf breaks into his house. He even manages to save a teenager after Maximus took her hostage and successfully mangled his face with his shotgun. He still ends up getting killed, b
  • Worm:
    • Forrest, a civilian with no powers and a refugee in Brockton Bay who, upon seeing local supervillain Skitter fighting the serial killer Mannequin in order to protect the civilian survivors of Mannequin's teammate Shatterbird, steps in and hits him with a cinderblock to help take his head off. Mannequin having relocated all important organs to his torso, this doesn't kill him, but it does drive him off. Forrest goes on to become Skitter's second in command.
    • Later, during the Chrysalis arc, the students of Arcadia High do this, helping Skitter escape by mobbing the superheroes that were coming for her.
  • In an interesting variation, SCP Foundation's usual Red Shirts are "D-class agents": death row criminals apprehended from all over the globe who nobody is going to miss, used as test subjects for anything that they can't use to their advantage, terminated if they survive through enough experiments. So, by Foundation standards, they're Bystanders. SCP-2439 is... the latest number that the D-class knew wasn't taken when they scrawled the Containment Procedures on the wall where the lamp is kept. It's an Eldritch Abomination that causes victims to start Hearing Voices, designated as Keter (same ranking as 682) by the last D-class who knew what Keter meant. If it infects someone long enough, it'll turn them into People Puppets. If it gets ahold of Foundation staff, the D-class reckon that the entire world is fricked. So they keep the information just between themselves, wreck anyone who tries to tell the Foundation staff about it, kill the Foundation staff who manage to find out about it anyways, and make sure that some of the other D-class agents know about it before their termination comes up. Every D-class who knows about it is (a) containing it voluntarily as The Atoner, (b) containing it voluntarily For the Evulz, or (c) is about to get his head bashed in because he's not willing to contain it.
    Just in case you're the eldritch thing: Fuck off, squidface. We're worthless, sure, but we can get shit done just as well as the others. You're not getting in.
    • There's also SCP-1983 which is another Keter that got straight-up neutralized by one of the D-class.
    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • In "Chemistry" from Batman: The Animated Series, Poison Ivy's just revealed she set up Gotham's wealthiest to fall for a bunch of plant people she created to get their attention, marry them, and kill them to get their fortunes. Ivy planned to kill all the respective millionaires during their honeymoon cruise, but gets momentarily distracted when she realizes Susan Wayne (the plant woman who married Bruce Wayne) hasn't joined them yet before the ship's destroyed. It's at this point a rich woman asks her compatriots why they're simply letting Ivy do this and incites them to fight back against Ivy's plants.
    • Also from Batman: The Animated Series, Charlie Collins, an innocent office worker who had the misfortune of running into the Joker and being forced to do his bidding. He eventually gets fed up, and, having grabbed one of the Joker's bombs, reduces the Clown Prince of Crime to a terrified wreck screaming for Batman to come save him by threatening him with what he fears the most; Dying unremarkably, killed by a random civilian in a back alley. To top if off, the bomb was fake and Charlie was faking it, which even Batman lets out a laugh at. Charlie Collins managed to beat the Joker by first terrifying him into submission, then making Batman laugh, something the Joker never could accomplish.
    • Subverted in the Justice League Unlimited finale. Wonder Woman, Shining Knight, Vigilante, and Star Sapphire are having a difficult time fighting an army of Parademons when one of the Chinese bystanders stops running, says goodbye to his wife, and runs to help. Wonder Woman tries to talk the old man out of it, until he one-hit K.O.s not one, not two, but THREE parademons, turns into a dragon, and whups several more, much to the heroes' surprise. The subversion comes in when the old man turns out to be J'onn J'onz, aka Martian Manhunter.
    • Played straight several times earlier in the series, though. The most memorable episode is "Patriot Act".
    • Earlier, when Dan Turpin single-handedly turns the tide against Darkseid in Superman: The Animated Series. With Superman captured and publicly humiliated in order to cow humanity into hopelessness, Dan Turpin alone flips off the triumphant Darkseid and rallies the crowd behind him. Dan leads a counterattack, singlehandedly frees Superman, defeats several Parademons, and helps fend off the forces of Apokolips until the forces of New Genesis arrive to liberate the Earth. Now, while it's true that the viewers already knew Turpin was a tough cop, Darkseid had no clue who this guy was and thought he'd conquered the Earth by defeating its greatest champion. Unfortunately, this also counts as a Dying Moment of Awesome, as the fleeing Darkseid kills Turpin out of spite.
    • In Batman Beyond two-part episode "The Call", Inque caught a bystander to use as a hostage and Terry tried to talk her out of using innocent bystanders like that. In a similar subversion as the one presented at the finale of Justice League Unlimited, the bystander turned out to be a disguised Superman... unfortunately for Inque.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Equestria Games", the pegasi from the stands who rushed in to help avert catastrophe via giant spiked ice-cloud that was falling upon the crowded stadium, at least from the perspective of the ponies sitting next to them, unable to do anything as an anti-magical spell is placed on every single alicorn and unicorn to prevent them from using magic to cheat in the games. Imagine you're at a sporting event and something horrible happens on the field/track and the guy next to you immediately runs down to help while you feel comparatively useless, then multiply that feeling by the Olympics.
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 1", during the montage of Tirek and Discord steamrolling over Equestria, quite a few background ponies are shown bravely trying to fight back. Noteworthy is the first to fire off a magical blast at them, while a mob of pegasi (including the Wonderbolts and Derpy) try to swarm them.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Cassidy and the Gang hang out by the Clam Cabin and discuss the newest monsters, robots programmed to terminate her. When one of them climbs out of the water and attacks them, the shop owner, Skipper Shelton, sneaks up behind it, and shoots it with a harpoon gun, disabling it. After cursing at it, he offers the kids free food for the inconvenience.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of The Simpsons when a hired assassin tries to kill Grampa with a machine gun. When Grampa runs to the retirement home's nurse and begs her for help, she initially reacts by trying to double his medication, but when the assassin bursts in and continues firing the nurse pulls a shotgun out of nowhere and repeatedly blasts him, yelling "OUR RESIDENTS! ARE TRYING! TO NAP!" with each exclamation point being a shotgun blast.
  • In one of the episodes involving the Lizard in The Spectacular Spider-Man, a little old lady saves Spider-Man's life by attacking the Lizard with her handbag.
  • One episode of Static Shock begins with the Quirky Miniboss Squad of metahumans robbing mallgoers. One promptly gets a face full of pepper spray from an old lady.
    Real Life 
  • This guy, a Mixed Martial Arts practitioner who defended a cashier from an irate customer.
  • Ronald Reagan once saved a 22 year old nurse from a mugger in 1933. He scared away the mugger by pointing a 1911 pistol at him, saying "Leave her alone or I'll shoot you right between the shoulders." Later, he would tell the woman he saved that the gun was empty.
  • John Smeaton, who kicked a burning terrorist in the balls so hard he injured his foot.
  • A Delaware woman told USA Today that she had been walking home from church when her purse was snatched. A nearby man who had witnessed the attack jumped out of his car, chased the purse-snatcher through several backyards and over fences, and got the purse back. The man in question? Just happened to be her senator (and future President of the United States) Joe Biden.
  • A Milwaukee man picked the wrong time and place to get into a "domestic dispute" when Mayor Tom Barrett was nearby.
  • Rukhsana Kausar, a farmer's daughter from India, living near the Pakistani border. After three armed militants invaded her home and began beating her father, she attacked the leader with an axe, disarmed him, and shot him dead with his own gun while his gang ran away in pants-wetting terror. The dead man turned out to be a high-profile wanted terrorist commander. Kauser was shortly thereafter named Badass of the Week.
  • Elvis Presley was on the way to his hotel after arriving in Madison as part of a concert tour in June of 1977. He spotted two guys attacking a seventeen-year-old gas station attendant, and grumbled "Look at those two punks, I don't like this two-on-one deal." He got out of the limo, assumed a kickboxing pose and said "If you want a fight, let's fight." The three young men were so astounded they stopped immediately and began to ask for pictures and autographs instead. Before leaving he said "I found you as enemies; I leave you as friends."
  • When he was the mayor of London, Boris Johnson encountered a woman being attacked while out riding his bicycle. He proceeded to take their pipe and chase them down the street calling them "Oiks!!!"
  • The French have always loved Dime Novel type writing and American popular fiction. James Thurber relates a story he heard about a tourist set upon late one night by Paris thugs, until he assumed a belligerent stance and bellowed "JE SUIS NICK CARTER!!!" They ran like hell.
  • Professional wrestler Perry Saturn, a former US army ranger, once got shot in the neck trying to save a woman from getting raped and by the time the police arrived he had beaten the shit out of all three lowlifes by himself.
  • Rob Van Dam chased down a mugger outside his comic shop, and Bam Bam Bigelow ran into a neighbor's burning apartment to save them.
  • The "Bike Thrower" in China. He stopped his bike in the middle of the road after seeing a lady being mugged by two assholes on a motorbike. Then as the robbers rode past him, he threw his bike at them, knocking them down and leaving them for the cops. Then the hero just picked up his bike (trashed by the throwing) and walked away carrying it.
  • Retired Gurkha soldier Bishnu Shrestha sat quietly while forty bandits robbed the train he was in, until the bandits decided to try and rape the young girl next to him. Bad move. He pulled out his service kukri and proceeded to kill 3 of them, and injure 8 more, until the rest ran for their lives. As a result, he was briefly un-retired so he could get a medal.
    "Fighting the enemy in battle is my duty as a soldier. Taking on the thugs on the train was my duty as a human being."
  • Mixed martial arts Jon Jones chased down and apprehended a mugger in New York, then went on to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title that same night.
  • Adam West, one day, was chilling at the beach. He saw a man swearing at a topless girl and chasing after her with a knife. As West tells it, while he knew it probably wasn't going to help his reputation for mental stability, he still managed to take the attacker down, with a beach chair.
  • Daniel Lewin.
  • Richard Ramirez (AKA the serial killer known as the Night Stalker) was caught when he tried to steal a car. The car's owner, along with two neighbors and their sons, chased him down. As they ran, they recognized him from police photos that had been airing on the news and realized just who they were chasing. Once they caught him, they proceeded to beat the crap out of him in the street. When the police showed up, they did stop the men from outright killing him, but didn't bother to arrest any of them for the assault. Nobody was the least bit upset.
  • Adam Kinzinger. For the record, he has since been elected a U.S. Congressman. Just goes to show, everyone loves an Action Hero.
  • Senator Cory Booker:
    • During his time as the mayor of Newark, he was on his way home one night when he saw that his neighbor's house was on fire and their daughter was trapped inside. He immediately ran into the flaming building and carried the girl out safely. People immediately started joking about the new standard for government service.
    • This follows a well publicized incident where he chased down a robbery suspect on foot while out for a jog and several instances where he went around the city getting people's cars and homes unstuck after snowstorms (which he continued to do even after being seated as a Senator). May be disqualified from this trope since Mayor Booker seems physically incapable of actually standing by.
  • From Cracked,
  • Some time in the 90s in Canberra, Australia, a man held up a public swimming pool with a shotgun. The manager refused to go along with the man's demands, and just when the man was about to shoot him, he pushed the gun downwards and took a shot in the leg. The assailant panicked and ran. The manager just happened to be an ex Special Forces Vietnam vet.
  • The 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings produced several of these, who can be seen on video of the event running towards the explosions, tearing down metal barricades with their bare hands and pulling people out, and several of them were credited with saving people who might have otherwise bled out by using makeshift tourniquets. One particular bystander named Carlos Luis Arredondo (who it turns out was already a badass in his own right) could be easily spotted wearing a distinctive cowboy hat in videos of the event and, in one particularly famous photograph (warning: graphic, though it's the cropped version of another that's much worse), running alongside and helping a man being wheeled away who had most of his leg blown off. He became an icon overnight.
  • Tank Man, whose identity is still unknown. Also a Badass Pacifist.
  • Most people wouldn't know that Steve Buscemi was a firefighter before eventually becoming an actor — he happened to be in New York during the 9/11 attacks, and the first thing he did was run all the way to his old fire station to volunteer for the rescue effort. It's quite likely he saved a number of lives that day.
  • Also on 9/11, a fourth plane was hijacked and headed towards DC. The passengers, at first, reacted in the way you're supposed to when a plane is hijacked (sit down and shut up), before they found out what happened with the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Todd Beamer rallied some of the passengers to fight back, saying "Are you guys ready? Okay, let's roll." They managed to crash the plane in an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Their heroics kept the plane from hitting it's intended target (either the Capitol or the White House).
  • In 1871, the James-Younger gang attempted to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota. Unfortunately for the gang, the town just happened to be chock full of these. The bank teller refused to open the safe, even when threatened with a knife and pistol whipped (Cole Younger murdered him in revenge, one of two people killed by the gang that day). When the rest of the town noticed something was going on at the local bank, they armed themselves and fought back against the famous outlaws when they attempted to escape. Between the shootout and the manhunt that followed, only Jesse and Frank James managed to get away. It is almost universally agreed upon that this was the event that led to the downfall of the infamous outlaw and his gang.
  • This would-be robber probably should've checked to see if one of the customers happened to be an off-duty police officer.
  • A would-be rape victim broke the assailant's knife and put him in a stranglehold. Turns out she was a sailor.
  • Tameka Brown, who was riding a Philadelphia train when she noticed a man trying to attack a woman carrying a small infant. Brown stood up, put herself in front of the assailant, and successfully got the woman and child off the train to safety. But not before delivering the following Badass Boast to the attacker:
    "I said Satan, the Lord God, rebuke you in the name of Jesus, you will not touch this woman."
  • A few schoolchildren were once mugged on a public train in Munich, Bavaria by two teenage junkies, who wanted to take their money. A middle-aged businessman, Dominik Brunner, intervened and escorted the kids off the train at the next stop. When the teens decided to go after them, he tried to hold them off with his bare hands. They beat him to death.
  • This Swedish gas station employee stopped a gas thief by latching on to his car like the T-1000. The kicker? The thief was a prospect member of the Bandidos club of outlaw bikers and armed with several knives.
  • While filming a night scene for the first episode of Person of Interest, actor Jim Caviezel spotted a woman being beaten by her boyfriend in the street; he immediately ran off set and "intervened".
  • During the 1966 University of Texas Tower Shooting, an armed citizen named Allen Crum was one of the group who stormed the tower to take down the shooter. In addition, there were also numerous citizens who got their own rifles and returned fire.
  • During the 2016 Munich shooting, a gunman massacred ten people inside a shopping centre before climbing onto the roof in an (apparent) attempt to snipe some more. Then Thomas Salbey, an owner of a next-door tenement, took the chance, stepping out on his balcony and hurling insults down at the gunman and draw him into an argument — both in an attempt to keep him from shooting anyone else, and to alert the police of his presence. A neighbour captured this bizarre exchange on film. And when the gunman threatened to walk away, he threw a bottle after him.
    Gunman: I am German!
    Balcony man: A wanker's what you are!
  • In 2015, a gunman attempted to open fire on a crowded train in France. As soon as he exited a lavatory with weapons ready, two French passengers who happened to be nearby tried to disarm him, followed by a Briton and three Americans (two of whom happened to be US military personnel on leave).
  • A man known only as "The Hunter" or "The Deer Hunter" killed the man who fatally shot Patrolman Sammy Long.
  • Pro wrestler Shawn Daivari choked a drunk, disruptive passenger unconscious on a lightrail in October 2012.
  • Actress Daryl Hannah is 5'10" and twice used her long legs to hold down muggers.
  • In August 2019, two bystanders rescued a special needs baby from a car wreck in Los Angeles. One of those bystanders was Danny Trejo. Yes, that Danny Trejo.
  • On November 29th, 2019, a man wearing a (fake) explosive vest attacked members of the public on London Bridge with knives, killing two and wounding four. Two men retaliated with a fire extinguisher and a decorative narwhal tusk pulled from the wall of a nearby restaurant, and held him until armed police arrived and shot the attacker.
  • During the riots in Seattle following the death of George Floyd, some of the rioters got the idea of stealing rifles that were stored in the trunk of some parked police cars. An armed marine veteran who was guarding a news crew covering the event had other plans.
  • H. P. Lovecraft seems to have regarded himself as lacking courage. This may be part of the reason he had his Author Avatar Randolph Carter serving in the French Foreign Legion during World War I. However, people who knew him expressed confidence that he was not cowardly and wouldn't lose his head in a crisis. Sometime in the late 1920s, while he was living at 10 Barnes St. in Providence, his neighbor's house caught fire, and the old gentleman was seen calmly assisting to remove furniture and making sure everyone was safe.
  • In 2001, a young boy named Jessie Arbogast was swimming at a Florida beach when he was attacked by a bull shark that bit off his right arm and tore out a piece of his right thigh. His uncle, Vance Flosenzier, grabbed the shark by the tail and dragged it to shore where a park ranger shot it. Flosenzier's actions prevented the shark from attacking anyone else and also allowed Jessie's severed arm to be recovered from the shark's mouth and eventually reattached.
  • Trolley-Man, a Melbourne-based man who used a shopping trolley to ram a homicidal maniac in 2018.
  • A similar act of heroism occurred a year later in Sydney when three men pinned another Knife Nut using a chair and milk crate.
  • In 2019, Toni Doherty from New South Wales charged into a bushfire in order to rescue a koala.


Video Example(s):


Bank Manager

"Do you have any idea who you're stealing from?!"

How well does it match the trope?

4.81 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / BadassBystander

Media sources: