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Badass Bookworm

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"Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than the sage amongst his books. For to you the Kingdoms and their armies are things mighty and enduring, but to him they are but toys of the moment, to be overturned by the flicking of a finger."

These characters are quiet, smart, and seemingly physically unimposing, but with Hidden Depths of formidable physical and practical skills. In terms of Brains Versus Brawn, they Took A Third Option and combined the two, becoming brains dominant, if not quite Strong and Skilled.

Their physical abilities might result from applying their genius to solve physical challenges like they were math problems. Their attention to detail might also result in a Diagnosis from Dr. Badass. While some badass bookworms are surprisingly strong, others might be Weak, but Skilled, relying on flawless technique or supernatural abilities. Sometimes a bookworm can lack any special physical traits, but has access to an Impossibly Cool Weapon or enough firepower to make toe-to-toe combat, as they say, academic. A favorite weapon of the bookworm might even be what's always close at hand.

Elderly examples are often Old Masters who have spent decades contemplating philosophy and punching trees in half. Another common type is the Adventurer Archaeologist, who spends as much time studying in the University as that type does evading the poison-tipped arrows of angry natives. If the bookworms are a bit ditzy or talented but lack common-sense/etc, expect them to be Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. If they prefer not to fight, doing so only when they must, then they have Minored in Ass-Kicking. They are very likely to wear Specs of Awesome. In a team specializing in Brains, a Badass Bookworm might as well be The Big Guy.

The trope is the converse of Genius Bruiser. A Badass Bookworm looks like your standard geek, but then displays a surprising amount of physical prowess, whereas a Genius Bruiser looks big, strong, and tough, then unexpectedly shows off an intellectual side. See Muggle with a Degree in Magic if their bookworm side is what's making them impressive. May take the place of the Brain in a Brains and Brawn duo.

Note this is a different trope from the typical Secret Identity superhero like early Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, as no one suspects the nerd to be the superhero. See also Nerd Action Hero. Often overlaps with Dork Knight. Book Dumb is sometimes the Evil Counterpart to this trope, as they're badass but idiotic in academics. Compare Cowardly Lion.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Myth & Religion 
  • Greek Mythology:
  • Thoth was the Egyptian god of wisdom and writing who INVENTED MAGIC! Given that this is a religion where magic constitutes some of the most important ritual rites, this is a huge deal; Thoth is the guy that even Top God Ra and all-important God King Osiris come to with their problems, up to and including the latter's death. He is also, because of this, responsible for everything without a soul. He can kill demons with a thought, or force them deep into the Duat.
  • Lug, an Irish or Celtic deity. He was a historian, sorcerer, musician, artisan and expert warrior, among other things.
  • Older Than Feudalism: David in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible was a harp virtuoso and psalmist who also knew how to beat up men and beasts much bigger and stronger than himself.
  • The Apostle Paul. Though he was a Badass Pacifist (at least after his conversion, prior to which he was more of a Knight Templar), he lived through adventures as dangerous as any in the Old Testament, from shipwrecks to being fed to lions to facing down evil sorcerers and demons. Not bad for a bookish theologian.

  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • Twelve-year-old Tamika Flynn, student in the Night Vale Summer Reading Program, managed to survive the entire week and lead the other children to safety, emerging from the Night Vale Public Library clutching the severed head of the Head Librarian and a blood-spattered sticker chart. Also, she completed Cry, the Beloved Country, which was very advanced for her reading level.
    • Also Carlos the scientist, who's apparently a bit on the shy, awkward side, but who's very brave when it comes to doing science and generally saving the day. But he's not a hero. He's a scientist.

  • Ather City: At first, Nick seems like an annoying nerd who tries to make people scared of him by having better weapons than them. Then he throws a building at you.
  • If there is a scientist in Darwin's Soldiers (who isn't named Shelton), there is a very high chance they can hold their own in combat.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Richelieu wears glasses, looks somewhat unkempt, has a fragile-looking body and spends considerable time reading dusty tomes in his tower. However, when push comes to shove, he shows his opponents exactly why he is one of Alent's most powerful mages.
  • The main character of Polyhistor Academy, Mikelle's spend most of his time in Library, and when he's not got his head stuck in a book, he's usually painting. He's got the body of an Olympic Athelete, is good at fighting, and tends to come out of fights with only the most minor of injuries.

    • Nuju is a crabby seer/stargazer with his head in the clouds, but can be rather scary when in battle. It turns out that his Ice power is the one thing that the mighty Morbuzakh plant is afraid of, and while he and the rest of the Toa Metru are being suffocated by its tendrils, he manages to get away and rescue the others using basic physiology. He also has a lot of hilariously sarcastic one-liners that nobody else in the series could pull off.
      Nuju: "Whatever it is, leave it. If you can't leave it, then take it back out with you. If it's too heavy to carry back out, then how did you get it in here in the first place?"
    • Mutran and Chirox can also count as this, being that they are both mad scientists responsible for several of the more destructive Rahi (animal) species in the world - Chirox’s in particular are described as “adding nothing to the ecosystem beyond death and destruction”. Chirox is also a devastating warrior, even after being rendered completely blind by the Mask of Life’s explosion of power.

  • From Not Always Learning, we have this security guard and self-taught electrical engineer.
  • The antagonists of the fourth arc in Psychronicles literally consists of battle scientists. Kind of justified since they took performance enhancement to a much more advanced level, developed high electricity generating spears, powerful armor and kept it to themselves.

    Web Videos 
  • In Episode 48 of campaign 2 of Critical Role, Fjord suggests going after a very old mage to interrogate, rhetorically asking if anyone ever met a dangerous historian. Beau, having been trained by an entire monastic order of warrior historians, basically answers with a blunt yes.
  • Derek the Bard, of Warning! Readers Advisory! — magical librarian extraordinaire.

Alternative Title(s): Crouching Nerd Hidden Badass