The Joker: There's nothing "mere" about that mortal.
In a World... with supernatural dealings or superpowers, this character is the one who is able to keep being useful through intellect, martial arts abilities, general ruthlessness, or just being Crazy-Prepared.
They notably have none of the fantastic enhancements, magic, or special powers that others do. It might even be a sore point for them, but that just makes us encourage them more.
It's become increasingly common for the Badass Normal to be a protagonist, as he is easier to relate to for us ordinary Muggles in contrast to the often-unrealistic ideal lead. If they are in The Team, then they are usually The Leader, or at least the brains of the outfit, to compensate.
If a Badass Normal is capable of things that should only be superhuman, then they have a Charles Atlas Superpower. If Badass runs in their family, it's because Lamarck Was Right. If they are given superpowers after being non-powered for a while, you get an Empowered Badass Normal. If they only lost powers they actually used to have, they've been Brought Down to Badass.
The Badass Normal only happens as a Muggle to be compared in a world of superpowers, fantastic elements, gods, widespread genetic engineering, tranhumanism or other artificial enhancements (like magic). Similarly, just dealing with the inhuman or strange (that's your zombies, orcs, Alien Invasion and other invocations of Puny Earthlings) doesn't suffice unless there was some other superhero who showed how they needed their powers for the same job.
Just because someone was able to kill one Supersoldier out of ten in the world does not make them a badass normal. Likewise, this is not a character who is ill equipped with outdated technology, even if their enemies are top-of-the-line. Nor do they qualify if they're undertrained while dealing with a superior trained enemy (unless said training confers superpowers/artificial enhancements that the untrained lack). By all means it should be a topic of debate with anyone they deal with (enemy, ally or even themselves) if their lack of superpowers is an issue with their usefulness.
It's important to note if they have strange or superhuman abilities, they are not normal. There is no "relatively" when it comes to Badass Normal. It doesn't matter if you can "barely" lift a tank, your ki blasts can "only" level cities, your Bio-Augmentation is standard issue, or your ability to alter the fabric of reality isn't as developed as others; you're a badass with superpowers. Not everyone can be the Batman of the setting. A character who chooses not to use their powers in combat (or has powers with no combat application) probably Fights Like a Normal.
Often overlaps with The Team Normal (if this character joins a superpowered team).
Compare Muggles Do It Better, Unfazed Everyman, Weak, but Skilled, Puny Earthlings, and especially Heart Is an Awesome Power. A Hunter of Monsters frequently is one, though there are just as many Hunter of His Own Kind or Fur Against Fang variants.
Contrast with Overshadowed by Awesome, where a character is by reasonable means strong compared to regular people or even superpowerful, but can only be considered "normal" when compared to the people they hang out with, who are vastly stronger. Because of this, they often Can't Catch Up. Also contrast Super Loser, for characters who are anything but badass despite having superpowers. Brought Down to Normal arcs can show a super powered individual can be badass without their powers but that does not qualify them for this trope. This is a character type, not a plot trope.
Note for Tropers: This trope only applies if the setting possesses a significant number of characters with superpowers. In a setting where superpowers are very uncommon or nonexistent, badass characters without superpowers are just badass. If you encounter an instance of a character in a setting without superpowers being called a Badass Normal, please remove or change it. For average people that are forced to be a badass by the situation, see Action Survivor. For costumed heroes without superpowers in general, see Non-Powered Costumed Hero. Anyone from a Witch Species who can't be defined as a Muggle Born of Mages is disqualified.
- Anime & Manga
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- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
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- Western Animation
- In Magic: The Gathering humans tend to be this, especially white mana humans. In the Gothic themed Innistrad block, White Humans decks repeatedly came in second. They were able to band together and overcome Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, Zombies with little more than the power of teamwork and the grace of God.
- Mitos y Leyendas takes this up to eleven with the "Heroes" set, which is based off the War of the Pacific. As a result, ship captains are on the same tiers as Top gods
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: Following Normal Monsters:
- Blue-Eyes White Dragon had the highest ATK back then in the earliest days of the card game, and even to this day, it is the strongest Normal Monster in the game. Though it has been outclassed by many monsters in terms of playability because it is/was impractical to use or because high ATK does not really matter anymore, since powerful effects are more favorable options, its 3000 ATK is still dangerous when it comes to beatstick battles and nowadays, it is a lot of easier to summon it. It is still relevant in Blue-Eyes decks, since many cards can either summon it easily or stronger forms of it require it as Materials.
- Also at the beginning of the Duel Monsters era, Summoned Skull was one of the most famous examples. Being a Level 6 monster, you only need one monster to tribute for his Tribute Summoning, getting a powerful 2500 ATK beatstick on your board. With only 1200 DEF, he was also easily searchable by the Witch of Black Forest until she was banned. Due to Summoned Skull having 2500 ATK, he was the strongest Normal Monster with only one Tribute, making him equal to Dark Magician in terms of power, and he was more favored in decks than Blue-Eyes, since the dragon required two monsters for her Tribute Summoning. However, Summoned Skull has been beaten by Frostosaurus and Trance the Magic Swordsman many years later, but he has become relevant again, thanks to the Red-Eyes archetype.
- Dark Magician has become this after many years. He was initially overshadowed by Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Summoned Skull, due to being a Level 7 monster with 2500 ATK, being weaker than Blue-Eyes who requires the same amount of tribute, and being equally as strong as Summoned Skull who requires one tribute less. But like Blue-Eyes, new support has make him more revelevant to the game, as he become much easier to summon and can be used for different strategies. Additionaly, some of his support cards require Normal Spellcaster-Type Monsters for their effects, so the fact that he is a Normal Monster has its advantages.
- Like Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Dark Magician, Red-Eyes Black Dragon has also become a Badass Normal after many years, despite being weaker than both of them while requiring two tributes like them. Similar like the other two, Red-Eyes gained support cards that require Normal Monsters, and some new members of the Red-Eyes archetype are in fact Gemini Monsters (monsters that can either be Normal Monsters or Effect Monsters). However, in contrast to the other two, Red-Eyes Black Dragon is more required as a Material for its more powerful forms, but its potential as a Normal Monster is used quite well.
- Gem-Knight Pearl is a Rank 4 Xyz Monster with ATK and DEF equal to Alexandrite, the Gem-Knights' ace, and no effect; indeed, Pearl is the first ever non-effect Xyz card. In the storyline, this is what allowed him to defeat the Vylons - Vylon Disigman is able to take control of effect monsters and use them to destroy others, but since Pearl has no effect, he was immune to Disigma's ability and so was able to simply punch it into oblivion.
- Flash Gordon faces off against all the weird beings of Mongo with nothing but his strength and his wits. (Some versions have claimed Mongo is a lower-gravity world, so Earthlings have marginal super-strength there.)
- Lothar, the World's Strongest Man from Mandrake the Magician.
- Prince Valiant fights ogres and sorcerers and the like.
- Syndrome of The Incredibles has no powers, yet his technical skills and smarts allow him to create a robot powerful enough to eliminate dozens of supers. As well as an energy beam that allows him to move anything, regardless of its size, almost exactly like the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2. It may be that he has the one power of the Fantastic Four that no member of the Parr family has: His ability to invent things. He's a Deconstruction of Batman-like Badass Normal superheroes: he is undeniably a genius inventor, and he's hand's-on enough to use his gadgets in the field himself, but his lack of powers causes superheroes with powers to disparage him as just another Muggle who gets in the way. The difference is that Batman uses his genius for the greater good, while Syndrome becomes bitter and instead uses his genius creations to enact revenge on the perceived Smug Supers of the world, when their only crime was not recognising his potential and (perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly) trying to protect what they thought was a reckless kid who was in way over his head. Hence, he hates all "supers" equally, including ones he's never met or ones who weren't even alive to disparage him in the first instance. This leads to the horrifying implication that Pixar's most dangerous villain and the Caped Crusader himself are Not So Different. If Bruce Wayne's life had sucked even more than it already did, who knows what he would've become?
- This also applies to the other villains we see throughout the franchise as well. None of them have any super powers, just technology and the skills to make it work and be a threat.
- And somewhat amazingly, the raccoon in Incredibles 2 qualifies. He's just a random woodland animal, and he puts up a credible fight against Jack-Jack the super-powered baby. (He actually does better in this department than Syndrome!)
- Emmet from The LEGO Movie. Yes, he becomes a Master Builder at the end, but he spent the majority of the movie without powers, and during that time, he accidentally defeated a squadron of Skeletrons, escaped from Bad Cop, built the double-decker couch that save his and his friend's lives, and managed to defeat Lord Business without using his powers.
- Princess Mononoke:
- In a world containing spirits, gods, and a warrior-prince with a possessed super-powered arm, San is just a girl with a spear, knife, and wolf... who can scale 30-foot walls.
- Lady Eboshi, as a female leader in a patriarchal society, only has intelligence and charisma on her side. By the end of the movie, she's taken on everyone up to and including the god of the forest, and he's the only one who got the best of her. And she survives that confrontation.
- White Snake (2019): Xuan is a normal human that manages to keep up with all the supernatural characters in the movie via his agility and guile.
- Red Panda Adventures:
- Outside of the Red Panda's use of hypnosis, neither he nor his sidekick the Flying Squirrel have any significant superpowers to speak of. Their success as crimefighters and superheroes comes from constant training, cunning minds, and gadgets that allow for feats ranging from Wall Crawling to resisting and countering magical attack. They can reliably handle anything that isn't a flat out Kaiju.
- The Red Panda also has a network of agents, men and women who act as his eyes and ears and have fought alongside him both figuratively and literally. In the book "The Android Assassins", several of them are the first line of defense against Captain Clockwork's robot army and, during World War II, many of those same agents formed a unit that gained a reputation for doing impossible things behind enemy lines and, for much of that time, any superhero help they got was either incidental or the acts of an amnesiac Red Panda.
- Any analytical player with the Villager role in Comic Fury Werewolf arguably counts. If they catch the Werewolves, they almost certainly do. If they consistently catch the Werewolves, they definitely do. As such, Ranger used to be one, but later lost his touch.
- In Darwin's Soldiers The nonpowered heroes (villains) usually put up a decent fight against the augmented villains (heroes). They sometimes win. Trinity deserves a special mention. A normal human, she simultaneously fights someone with robotic arms, someone with pyrokinetic powers, and someone with not one but two Psychic Powers: telekinesis, and electrokinesis. Oh yeah, she beats them all at the same time.
- As opposed to the main cast, Agent Travers from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues has no powers to her name. She makes up for it with power nullifiers and years of physical training. When Melissa tries to stab her, she swipes the girl in the neck before she can even blink.
- In Equestria Chronicles, earth ponies hold their own against magical unicorns and flying pegasi.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, several heroes and villains have no special or magical powers and yet they've shown their skills many times against stronger opponents.
- The forum RP Insane Cafe 3: The Curse of the Haunted Hotel has a a group of characters known as the "Pelvanida Group". They are a group of scientists and soldiers who kill a group of very powerful mages with nothing more than a shitload of guns and explosives.
- Marvels RPG has rules for making your character one of these.
- Mazeka is "just" a Matoran, but he can kick any ass he wants.
- To a lesser degree, Jaller and Kongu, who are also Matoran, though they both later became Toa.
- The Barraki, who aside from some unique abilities granted to them by their mutations in the Pit only had strength, durability, speed, intelligence, and literal armies of sea creatures to go on compared to the Piraka. The fans loved them for being terrifying marine monsters with surprisingly complex personalities who came off as just as, if not even more threatening, than many other villains.
- Hydraxon. In fact, he was so badass, the Mask of Life chose to transform the Matoran Dekar into a new version of him.
- The Matoran Resistance: Six Matoran One of whom is admittedly a Great Being, though no one else knows that, up against six guys who took down the Toa Nuva. They put up a pretty good fight. The Chronicler's Company, seven ordinary Matoran who hold off an army of infected Rahi beasts, also most definitely qualify, as do Sarda, Idris, and Defilak. Really, most if not all Matoran who aren't secondary characters-and even a few who are-qualify to some extent.
- Tarduk, an Agori who's even less powerful than the above Matoran, and doesn't have any of the cool weapons that many of the others have, is a pretty good example.
- Animator vs. Animation:
- Victim from the first episode. He has no superpowers yet he put up a good fight to the point that the Animator had to close the program to defeat him: Normally, he just beats them up.
- The Second Coming is another normal stick figure, yet he's still totally badass. Until it turns out he has superpowers and they just never awakened in him.
- All four Fighting Stick Figures count. They don't have any superpowers, they just beat you up.
- Death Battle occasionally has this dynamic:
- "Batman vs. Spider-Man". In this case, the Badass Normal loses. Batman has quite famously beaten superhuman opponents before, but this was with extensive research and tailoring his load-out to specially counter it. Under standard Death Battle conditions, fighters go in with no prior knowledge and iconic, standard equipment. Against an opponent who is even stronger, tougher and faster than a peak-condition human, who can also nullify his stealth and is just as clever as he is, Batman simply can't make up the difference in raw power.
- "Guts vs. Nightmare". In this case, the Badass Normal wins. The given reason? It wouldn't at all be hyperbole to say that in his stories, Guts slaughters demonic entities far more terrifying and powerful than Nightmare on an almost daily basis, triumphing out of sheer dumb luck, ferocity and/or unstoppable willpower. A duel against Nightmare really would be just your average manga chapter for him.
- "Solid Snake" vs. Sam Fisher". In this case, the Badass Normal loses. Sam has his Navy SEAL and Green Beret training, and he has superior technology and weapons. However, Snake is not only also trained by US SF, but is also cloned from the greatest soldier to have ever lived and has performance-enhancing nanomachines coursing through his veins. Combined with Snake's more... unorthodox tactics, and he manages to cinch it.
- "Hercule Satan vs. Dan Hibiki". In this case, the Badass Normal wins. Hercule is Overshadowed by Awesome by the DBZ cast but can hold his own very well against other humans, while Dan is a joke even among normal humans. Hercule's feats are also far more impressive than Dan's, whose Ki Manipulation is inept. With this huge difference in competence, it was only a matter of time before Mr Satan finished off Dan (albeit accidentally).
- "Yang Xiao Long vs. Tifa Lockhart". In this case, the Badass Normal loses. It is true that Tifa is more experienced, and she also possesses a flowing and versatile martial art style that counters Yang's comparatively straightforward berserker punching. However, Yang's Semblance lets her greatly surpass Tifa's strength, and her Aura allows her to stand up to the worst Tifa can throw at her. With Tifa in turn being effectually a Glass Cannon, Yang's victory was only a matter of time and taking enough whacks.
- Compared to his friends, Dylan is very lacking in special powers, but as Keela points out in "An Unofficial Tournament", he makes up for it with his wit and determination.
- Betty has no inherit special powers, especially when you look at her Wicked Witch sister, Melinda. However, Betty can still fight among the best of 'em.
- Red vs. Blue: The Freelancer Project tried to create the forty-nine most skilled and powerful human fighters alive, each paired with an armour enhancement and A.I. to empower them even further. Due to a tragic experience with A.I. in his past, Agent Washington refuses to use any armour enhancements or A.I., and relies solely on skill, tactics and sheer willpower. Despite this, he's still considered one of the most elite, dangerous fighters alive, and never ranked lower than sixth in the Freelancer Project, even when surrounded by enhanced colleagues.
- In Carmilla the Series, humans have been shown repeatedly to be absolutely no match for vampires in a standup fight. Enter Sherman Hollis, Laura's dad, who has formulated a pepper spray that works on vampires. In his first appearance he drives off the vampirized Danny Lawrence, who physically overpowers Carmilla Karnstein as much as Carmilla overpowered her when she was human.
- Diath in Dice, Camera, Action! holds his own against vampires and giants despite being the only non-magic party member.
- Hero House has several examples, which is unsurprising, as it features the entire Batfamily, and several of their rogues.
- In the Nat One Productions story-line, The Last Stage, each of the main characters is really nothing more than a Red Shirt. Despite this, they successfully tackle a surprising number of lethally dangerous paranormal enemies. That's not to say there aren't casualties...