Follow TV Tropes


Boisterous Weakling

Go To

"They do say that the weakest dogs howl the most."
Miguel Kurashiki, Rose Guns Days

Some characters like to brawl, mock authority and protocol, and will fight eagerly.

This character is just as loud and doesn't like to be ordered around. But despite acting with the confidence of a Boisterous Bruiser, he doesn't really have much to back it up. He is physically (and maybe emotionally) weak but that doesn't stop him from constantly calling out those who glower at him (or so he thinks). Sure, he may pick on people weaker than him, but if he happens to realize his opponent can effectively kick his ass, either he will find a lame excuse to get out of it, or he'll stubbornly refuse to back down and get his ass kicked just for the sake of form. Don't expect that to make him think twice the next time, though: the Boisterous Weakling shows an astounding inability to acknowledge his own impotence. Even if he tries to bite, he has no fangs. Every once in a while, you'll encounter ones who do not back down as long as they have an unfair advantage, usually in the form of weapons or a group of buddies whom they can set loose on their target. That, or they really do believe their own hype, and suffer the consequences — in stories with sufficiently lethal stakes, this is a common way for a character to end up being Too Dumb to Live.

Often Played for Laughs. If the author likes the character enough, he may pull out a Not-So-Harmless Villain/Let's Get Dangerous! moment or even Take a Level in Badass.

Can overlap with Fearless Fool, Miles Gloriosus, Small Name, Big Ego, Dirty Coward, Smug Snake or Super Loser. Commonly found Bullying a Dragon. They may also be a Kid Samurai or Young Gun who knows how to talk themselves up just enough to get themselves into serious trouble, or, at the opposite end of the age range, a Perilous Old Fool who either hasn't realised how badly the years have caught up with them or has a severely overinflated opinion of how capable they used to be in the first place. Compare Fake Ultimate Hero and Feet of Clay, when the character is alleged to be strong by other people. Contrast Gentle Giant, Cowardly Lion, and The So-Called Coward. Also contrast the Smug Super, who will usually have very good reasons to be smug, as well as the Awesome Ego.

An intellectual equivalent would be Know-Nothing Know-It-All. Compare Inferiority Superiority Complex.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kuroda in Angel Densetsu is a shining example of people who only pick on people weaker than them. Irony bites because he is strong, big, and tough but too stupid and cowardly to capitalize on his advantages.
  • Black Lagoon.
    • The Neo-Nazis that Revy and Dutch face, so much so that they go down without shooting a single bullet.
    • Chaka brags about having a bodycount when in reality, he's at the bottom of the food chain. When he actually fights, he ends up on the receiving end of a humiliating Curb-Stomp Battle that ends in his death.
  • Brave10 and its sequel Brave 10 Spiral has Yuri Kamanosuke: While he's indeed a supernaturally skilled Blood Knight with wind-based powers, he has the tendency to eagerly jump into fights screaming about how he's going to kill everyone... and usually failing to keep his promise against strong opponents and getting defeated himself. To the point that when Saizo, his main target, inflicts him a truly one-sided Curb-Stomp Battle, Kamanosuke briefly leaves the Braves.
  • Bleach:
    • D-Roy, one of Grimmjow's Fracciones. His fellows note with annoyance that D-Roy talks a big game to opponents but he had to beg to be allowed to come along on the Karakura expedition. While D-Roy nearly kills Chad (who was recovering from his fight with Yammy at the time), Rukia, an unseated Soul Reaper who's on par with a seated officer, almost effortlessly defeats him. All of Grimmjow's other Fracciones besides Nakeem are only defeated with the help of Bankai, as well as releasing the limiter, and in Nakeem's case, Rangiku (a lieutenant) was losing badly before her limiter was released.
    • Hiyori also counts, since she's easily the most aggressive of the Visoreds, but is always getting curb stomped whenever she tries to fight anybody and tends to require Shinji or the others to bail her out.
    • Tatsufusa Enjoji. He's the third seat of Squad 8, making him the third strongest member, and hammily challenges Chad to a fight when Chad passes by his territory. Despite that, he can only fight by wildly flailing his sword, and Chad defeats him in one punch. In stark contrast to him, his boss Shunsui Kyoraku is an unassuming fellow who turns out to be one of the strongest captains and easily defeats Chad.
  • In Daily Lives of High School Boys, Sanada North's Student Council President starts a fight against Sanada East's counterpart Ringo only to get his ass kicked without landing a single punch.
  • Mr. Satan in Dragon Ball Z is actually rather strong for a normal human, but inevitably fails to notice that the monsters he taunts and challenges can disintegrate him effortlessly or destroy planets on a whim. He becomes more aware of his relative strength near the end of the series but keeps pretending he's the strongest to maintain his image. Lucky for him, the Z Fighters are willing to let him keep the spotlight, and he winds up being important in the Buu saga, redeeming Fat Buu and using his clout with the populace to get them to help Goku make the mother of all Spirit Bombs toward the end.
    • He does finally get the message as of the end of the Kid Buu arc, as in GT and in Super, he's much more humble around the heroes, especially Goku. Even goes as far in Super as to give Goku all the reward money he got for "defeating Buu" because he knows Goku was much more deserving of it.
  • In Fairy Tail, Elfman was this early on in the series. In spite of his preaching the value of manliness, he could only manage partial transformations, which only amounted to punching someone a bit harder, and his guildmates saw him as something of a joke. He largely overcomes this when he masters Full-Body Take Over and defeats Monsieur Sol.
  • Girls und Panzer:
    • Alisa of Saunders is hot-tempered and arrogant, but an ineffective tank commander, especially when she is panicking. Her tank isn't necessarily weak, since it's strong enough that the Type 89 most likely could not have penetrated its armor, but she doesn't put it to very good use.
    • Mizushima's twitter describes the bandaged teddy bear in Miho's room as this type of character. It's nicely demonstrated in Der Film, which shows him getting beaten up by the other animals when he challenges them to a fight, and even with The Power of Friendship, he can only throw a single ineffective punch that misses.
      The name is "Bokorare-Guma series". He likes to fight and has a loose temper, but is weak. He gets bashed up all the time, so you can see why he wears bandages in so many different places.
  • Pretty much every student attending Shirokin in Gokusen. If someone even so much as looks at them funny, they quickly pick a fight and, nine times out of ten, get their asses handed to them and/or have to be rescued by Kumiko.
  • Yagi from Holyland shouts a good shout but can't back it up with his fists at all. If he doesn't have a better fighter to cower behind, Yuu or another good guy will usually do him in with a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • The protagonist of Kengan Omega, Koga Narushima, is hardly a bad martial artist early on: he's definitely good enough to win a street fight or take on the master of a local dojo. However, he thinks he's one of the greatest fighters in the world, and an absolute master of combat who could take on just about anything. Whenever he takes on an actual professional fighter, he invariably mocks them as an inferior, then gets his ass kicked. He finally gets his wake-up call when he fights Jose Kanasaki, a wrestler who decides to simply stand still and No-Sell every single attack Koga throws at him.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Patrick Colasour, who brags about being undefeated in over 2000 simulation matches even as his mecha is being sliced apart. Throughout the series, he talks big and acts like an ace pilot, but always gets shot down with little fanfare. His miraculous survival of all the times he's been shot down earns him the disparaging nickname of "The Immortal Colasour", but he misses the point and thinks it's genuine praise. In a subversion, he actually does grow more competent as the series goes on, and by the end is a respectably skilled pilot, though still nowhere near Ace Pilot status.
  • Haruka in My-HiME, despite being a totally normal, powerless human and totally overwhelmed by the situation, will not let you forget that she is in command. She doesn't hesitate to face tanks and soldiers and even provoke a HiME while her own body is fading away. In her case, these guts are actually what makes a good part of the fandom like her.
  • The titular character of Naruto was this as a child and at the very beginning of the series. As soon as he learns the Shadow Clone Technique though, he takes levels in badass for breakfast.
  • One Piece:
    • Buggy the Clown becomes this by sheer accident—although he's considered a lightweight at best and a nuisance at worst by any notable pirate who has actually seen him fight, the World Government does some research on him and finds out that he was a crewmate of the legendary Gold Roger and a former good friend of Shanks, one of the strongest living pirates. When Buggy finds out, he plays up this new reputation and receives a crowd of admirers, all of whom are much stronger than he is, some of whom are notable pirates themselves. He's still just as bad in combat as ever, but his loyal fans will decimate anyone Buggy wants.
      • Buggy IS a credible the calmest area of the least dangerous sea. His Devil Fruit power makes him immune to slashing attacks and is very difficult to deal with if you're not a highly skilled or similarly superpowered fighter with a good strategy. His problem comes from pushing his luck and going into seas where mere mooks have a decent shot at taking him out, relying on his unearned reputation instead of training or developing his powers like Luffy.
    • Kelly Funk of the Dressrosa Arc is also this though, in a bit of a subversion, his Jacket-Jacket Fruit powers allow him to take over the form of his meek, but genuinely powerful brother Bobby Funk, upgrading him to an actual threat, albeit one that's still quickly worfed.
    • Luffy himself could often be this when he was young. Shortly after eating the Gum-Gum Fruit, he angrily confronted the mountain bandits who'd made fun of Shanks and his crew, resulting in him quickly getting overpowered and nearly being killed. By the time he goes out to sea, he has become strong enough to back up his confidence, but occasionally picks fights with opponents he obviously can't defeat.
  • Team Rocket in Pokémon: The Series is a trio of this, although Jessie and James use their Pokemon instead of doing the actual fighting themselves. This ends up getting zigzagged starting with the Advanced Generation series, where they both show themselves to be competent in pursuits that don't involve stealing other people's Pokémon, with James taking part in Pokémon sports competitions and doing well (including winning the Pokémon Orienteering competition) and Jessie winning quite a few contests in Sinnoh under her Jessilina alias (including one that James won for her because she was sick).
  • Rebuild World: There is a struggle within a Private Military Contractors company named Drankam between the grizzled veterans on one side, and these on the other. Armchair Military bureaucrats keep on pushing praise and rewards onto these younger hunters, while the older members and non-members see them as a Paper Tiger. Reina and Togami get some Break the Haughty experiences and each become a Humble Hero. Many others, however, die in droves under Katsuya's command as a Redshirt Army. Katsuya seems to be the main exception while still prideful. In truth, Katsuya is the biggest Paper Tiger of them all, and Akira is able to kill him despite severe handicaps. Katsuya had unconscious More than Mind Control making people think he was strong.
  • Rurouni Kenshin uses this trope a lot with its Mook characters to contrast with the titular protagonist and his allies. The protagonist Kenshin is a smaller man than most of his opponents but is a nearly unrivaled Master Swordsman. Gohei Hiruma in particular fits this trope, while Gohei is a big and burly man strong enough to defeat Kaoru and Yahiko, he is no match for Kenshin or his Lancer Sanosuke and later becomes somewhat of a joke later in the series.
  • Slayers: Jeffrey is thoroughly convinced that he is an awesome warrior and constantly bragging about himself. He uses excessive Flynning and can't hit anyone even if they are standing still, gets exhausted after a few sword swings, and often trips and knocks himself out or gets knocked out with one hit.
  • Black☆Star is essentially this at the beginning of Soul Eater, constantly boasting about his strength and announcing his strategies out loud, which then leads to his ass getting kicked.
  • Vinland Saga's second arc introduces Olmar, son of Ketil, a rebellious punk who dreams of making his living by the sword, gets into arguments for nothing, and is always talking about the "honor of Nordic warriors". But whenever he has to actually use a sword, it's painfully obvious he has no skills whatsoever. When we first see him, he can't even draw his sword properly and balks at the prospect of actually harming someone with it. After he actually kills someone by accident, Olmar is horrified and stops trying to be a warrior entirely.
  • Kuwabara at the start of YuYu Hakusho. He initially acts like a thug/bully to Yusuke, despite the fact that he's the one getting his ass kicked. He gets better, becoming a real Boisterous Bruiser.
  • Zombie Land Saga has Maria Amabuki, the daughter of Saki's old motorcycle gang leader Reiko Amabuki (nee Kirishima). Maria wants to inherit leadership of her mother's gang and feels that her mother has lost her nerve, but despite talking a big game, doesn't have the toughness to back it up. When Maria's gang of herself and two friends who merely seem to be along for the ride attracts the attention of the tougher leader of a much larger gang, Saki and Reiko become extremely concerned.

    Comic Books 
  • Many minor Batman villains of the early Silver Age turned into this in The Dark Age of Comic Books, since they remained active supervillains but had their skills downplayed and their ridiculous motifs played up. Typically, they'd show up, full of bluster, and be dropped within a page or even a panel. Killer Moth, Catman (before writer Gail Simone rescued him), and the 1940s version of the Cavalier all got such treatment at various points. In both the comics and one of the animated Batman series, Killer Moth eventually took a skyscraper in badass, mutating into a deadly and carnivorous actual moth named Charaxes.
  • Guy Gardner, while he's legitimately powerful with his ring, became this when he challenged Batman to a fight without it. He got knocked out with one punch. One punch!
  • The Incredible Hulk: Normally, getting angry turns the scrawny geek Dr. Banner into the savage brute called the Hulk. When he becomes the Genius Bruiser Professor Hulk, getting too angry changes him into a savage Banner. He has all of the Hulk's usual aggression, but he's back to being a scrawny geek.
  • Many criminals in Judge Dredd talk tough...but they can never stand up to a Mega-City Judge.
  • In The Golden Age of Comic Books, this was the role of many a teen sidekick.
  • The vast majority of the criminals seen in Garth Ennis's Punisher comics are tough-talking, gun-happy street criminals...but when they go up against Frank Castle, a trained soldier with military equipment, they're far less powerful and dangerous than they imagine. It's even lampshaded in the first issue of the MAX series.
    The Punisher: Most wiseguys are one part street-smarts to two parts muscle. Enough to terrify the mooks that owe them money, but not much more.
  • One of the characters in L.E.G.I.O.N. (DC Comics) is a guy called Giganticus who is the premier hero of his planet, and clearly believes he is doing L.E.G.I.O.N. a favour by joining them. He has his own theme song, with a video which shows him towering over everyone as the singer declares "Look up there, it's Giganticus!" The discovery that his species is extremely short by most humanoid standards, so that Giganticus's own stature is closer to very short, doesn't affect his attitude in the slightest.

    Fan Works 
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • The Wolf accuses Euron of being this when they fight, initially dismissing his claims of kingslaying as being done in his sleep and through poison or assassins, and killing a dragon from a nice safe distance using a ballista invented by and paid for by other people. The Wolf defeats Euron handily, but then he is considerably larger than even the Mountain (who he also killed while insulting his courage and fighting ability).
    • The Wolf himself can come across as this after he fights Drogon. In the end the fight ends on a draw since despite the Wolf's taunts, Drogon has more important things to do.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cats Don't Dance has Pudge. He is an adorable young Penguin who is ready to fight anyone and anything that hurts his friends. His excuse for not fighting the Big Bad's henchman? "I didn't wanna to hurt the guy." Never mind the fact that said henchman is a hulking gorilla who is at least six feet taller than Pudge. To his credit, he does try to fight the film's Big Bad during her much-deserved Humiliation Conga, but she beats him with one swing of her arm.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the Penguin King's defenses are too weak to get past Bowser, with the Underequipped Charge being a Snowball Fight with a large ice projectile that hurts one of his Koopas, but no one else. The Penguin King still talks big like he's made a good impression on Bowser afterwards.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alpha Dog: Johnny acts like and thinks he's a tough guy but is rather hopeless in a fight with no one to back him up. Early in the film, he tries to kill Jake, only for Jake to immediately gain the upper hand and nearly drown Johnny in his own swimming pool.
  • Come and See:
    • The Nazi troops revel in the cruelty that they inflict on the Belarusian villagers, all the while mocking them for their supposed genetic inferiority. When they go up against Kosach's partisans rather than the scared, defenseless civilians that they're used to terrorizing, they get slain to a man. This is Truth in Television, as these types of death squads were intended to sow terror amongst civilians rather than fight organized resistance effectively and were little more than psychotic rabble.
    • The "Little Policeman" is an extremely small Nazi collaborator who is the loudest and most aggressive member of the group, but he's also the victim of the others' constant abuse.
  • Death Wish: One of Paul's more conservative coworkers who is a supporter of the vigilantism doesn't take him up on a dare to walk though a bad part of town and see if crime really is down.
  • Emperor of the North: "Ol' Cigaret" is always boasting about how he's the toughest hobo riding the rails, but the real veteran 'A-No. 1' has his number right from the start. At the end of the movie, he's so fed up with Cigaret's bragging that he just picks him up and throws him off the train into a lake.
  • Freaky: The Blissfield Butcher gets put into a "Freaky Friday" Flip with one of his intended victims. He's just as kill-crazy as ever, but now he's in the body of a 90-pound teenage girl. He's frequently tossed around and knocked out cold by the very people he's trying to stalk. When he utterly fails to break down a door between him and another victim, he gripes, "This body is useless!"
  • Grease 2: The T-Birds in the first movie are already pretty laughable Bad Butts, but here they're nothing but tough-talking wimps who run away from any fight they might provoke.
  • The King of Kong: Brian Kuh boasts at length about how he is competing at the very top of the arcade gaming world and that he's utterly dedicated to achieving the Donkey Kong world record. As portrayed in the film, however, his own high score comes nowhere near the actual record, his attempts at unnerving Steve Wiebe go nowhere, and he primarily acts as Billy Mitchell's lackey rather than actually gaming.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist: Wimp Lo. He constantly taunts the actual hero, getting beaten up easily and unable to do even the simplest combat move. According to Master Yang, Wimp Lo is "an idiot who was trained wrong on purpose, as a joke". He thinks getting kicked in the face is "face to foot style", as an example. And then there's "my-nuts-to-your-fist style"...
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man 2: When "Happy" Hogan and the Black Widow infiltrate Ivan Vanko's hideout, Happy comes off as this in comparison to the more skilled Natasha; he wins his fistfight with a single Mook, but she easily takes down the other dozen or so in the meantime. Though to be fair to Happy, it's more an example of Overshadowed by Awesome, as he is a competent boxer in his own right.
    • Corvus Glaive in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Although he likes to humiliate his opponents, the reality is that he is the weakest member of his group, to the point that normal humans like Okoye and Black Widow can beat him with relative ease.
  • Mortal Kombat (2021): Kano has a rather big mouth for somebody that demonstrates inferior skill compared to the other champions.
  • Nobody: Charlie acts like a tough guy, even forcing Hutch to accept a gun because he thinks Hutch is a wimp incapable of defending his family. This later gets stripped away, with Charlie being revealed as a Manchild who only survives thanks to nepotism and can be taken down with a single punch.
  • Tombstone: Ike Clanton is a loudmouth who starts several gunfights, but he's always the first to fall or flee despite his bravado.

  • There is a joke about a small animal (told in Russia about a hedgehog) standing and shouting "I am strong! I am strong". A passing bear gives it a kick. The hedgehog flies a few meters, stands up, brushes itself off, and shouts "I am light but strong!"

  • A.E. Pessimal from Terry Pratchett's Discworld is described as a small, deferential accountant with very clean shoes, thrust onto the front lines of a barricade partly as a joke. He proceeds to attempt to attack a troll with his teeth in his first appearance in Thud!. After this, he works for the watch full-time, mainly on paperwork, but every now and then getting the chance to walk the beat while staring down any troll he can see.
  • Curley in Of Mice and Men is small and verbally confrontational. Candy theorizes his attitude is basically a manipulative way to get people's admiration or sympathy one way or another.
    Candy: S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an' licks him. Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is. And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked. Then ever'body says the big guy oughtta pick on somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy.
  • The Iron Teeth web serial has a lot of guys like this. They're called goblins. Every goblin thinks it's the toughest thing around, even when it's obviously not.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Joffrey Baratheon may talk a good game, but while his alleged father is a well-known Boisterous Bruiser famed for his skill as well as his bravado, Joffrey himself is a weak, cowardly bully who can only get away with continually punting puppies because of his status as king. He claims to be vicious and manly but is often put in place by his dwarf uncle Tyrion for his Stupid Evil antics, and when he is disarmed by Arya Stark and Nymeria, he pitifully pleads for his life. Although he could potentially be a remarkably skilled warrior if he weren't such a spoiled coward. After all, his real father is one of the best natural swordsmen in the world and he at least holds his own against Robb Stark, who was two crucial years older than him.
    • Viserys Targaryen is very much the same, he keeps boasting that he would reclaim his kingdom one way or another, but he doesn't have the skills or the means to back it up. All he ever does is bully his sister and is generally kicked around by the Dothraki.
  • In Harry Potter:
    • First we have Draco Malfoy. He talks big game but has been unable to defeat Harry at anything, he is usually humiliated at Quidditch, and the one time they faced off in a duel, Harry nearly kills him. And even when bullying people like Neville, he ends up humiliated when the shy boy fights back and that was before Neville Took a Level in Badass.
    • Gilderoy Lockhart. He is constantly boasting his achievements, but he is clearly incompetent and it is later revealed that he stole all of his achivements from actual heroes.
  • Clip from Malazan Book of the Fallen isn't a bad fighter per se, but every onscreen fight he is in, he gets his ass handed to him. Of special note is his encounter with Trull, wherein he boasts that he has never been beaten by a spear-wielder. Well, he has now.
  • I'm Coming to Get You! by Tony Ross has a terrifying monster as its Villain Protagonist who constantly terrorises other planets and even eats them, then setting his sights on Earth as he prepares to fight the humans, Until it's revealed that he's only the size of a small toy compared to a child.
  • Macdonald Hall: Calvin loves bragging about his skills as an athlete and fighter, but has to leave a football game after getting a bruised elbow and begs for his mother on the school camping trip when he thinks there's a leopard nearby.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, at least before he Took a Level in Badass in the Spin-Off Angel. Even there, it took some time for him to become as formidable as he initially thought he was.
    • Gachnar the Fear Demon, who calls himself "The dark lord of nightmares! The bringer of terror!" and demands that everyone cower in fear before him. He's six inches tall. He barely gets a minute of screentime before Buffy slays him... with her boot.
  • Friends: Zigzagged by Ross. He's the tallest cast member, apparently fairly strong and quite scary when angry, but he's also shown to be quite cowardly and the others find the idea of him in any kind of fight ridiculous and scoff at his professed karate prowess. Chandler bursts out laughing when Ross tries to give him an If You Ever Hurt Her speech before his wedding to Monica (who also laughs at the idea of Ross beating up the fairly wimpy Chandler), and he is easily overpowered by Phoebe and Rachel.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Like in the books, Joffrey seems to have picked up Robert's boisterousness but his disastrous upbringing means there's none of the bruiser to back it up, and instead he's an arrogant, sadistic coward.
    • Hot Pie projects strength this way but is mellow enough once Arya gets to know him.
  • In Lie to Me, Cal Lightman is thwarted at any bit of assault toward him. He is occasionally battered.
  • Justified:
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Mac likes to pretend that he knows karate. He's always looking for the chance to prove that he's a badass until one turns up, then he just runs away.
  • Kenny Wangler from Oz is constantly acting like he's the ultimate badass and bullying other inmates, in spite of being scrawny and easily pushed around himself; the one time he gets into a fight, he immediately gets his ass kicked.
  • The International Wreck-Crew team and their Plunderbird series of robots on Robot Wars were consummate entertainers, affecting tough-guy personas, always big-noting themselves and talking about how they were going to destroy all opponents they faced, but apart from managing to reach the semifinals in Series 2 their robot was usually a Joke Character and regularly simply failed to work at all. Despite that, they would dismiss the beatings they took as "a slight mechanical malfunction" and usually go out singing or rapping about how great they are. They were actually very popular as a result.
  • Stranger Things: Steve is a star athlete and thinks he's a tough guy, but he's pretty lousy in a fight, getting his ass kicked several times over the first two seasons. His only success is when he puts his baseball skills to good use against the Demogorgon. In season 3, Dustin points out how he keeps getting beaten up and eventually congratulates him for finally winning a fight.

    Music Videos 
  • The boyfriend of Taylor Swift from the "I Knew You Were Trouble" video.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Despite being the god of war, Ares of Greek Mythology is this. He's known to be a braggart who will gladly bully those weaker than him and boast of his power to anyone who will listen, but he's something of a jobber among the Olympians. Multiple myths featuring him show him getting his ass soundly kicked by his opponent, whether they're another god, a giant, demigod, or mortal with a god-gifted stat boost. And as soon as he's injured or outmatched, he turns into a simpering coward.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In professional wrestling, this is thrown around a lot with heel characters. While how pathetic they actually are varies, almost all heels are cowards to some extent and tend to suffer some mild Badass Decay when they make a Face–Heel Turn. A very common running concept is for a heel to mouth off and boast at a face about how he is going to kick the latter's ass, only to be quickly knocked down or sent running when the face decides they've heard enough. Even legitimately dangerous current faces such as Kane and Randy Orton had to pay their dues this way. Chris Jericho and The Miz are key modern examples (even if they prove to be more than all talk on occasion). Spike Dudley and A.J. Lee are more literal examples, with Spike (usually) being the heroic variant.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Sir Andrew Aguecheek from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. According to Maria, he loves arguing so much that the only thing saving him from an early grave is the fact that he's a coward. Sir Toby gets a kick out of urging him to write a highly insulting challenge for a duel, then feeding him false information to the effect that his opponent is a skilled and ruthless swordsman. (In reality, his opponent is the local Sweet Polly Oliver, and Toby is intentionally setting up a Wimp Fight for his own amusement.)

    Video Games 
  • In Cave Story, the protagonist goes in search of Sue and finds her at the end of the Egg Corridor, where she seems to be starting a Boss Battle with a huge monster. She tells the mutant beast to bring it on and boasts "even my brother's never beaten me!" The monster shuffles forward and hits her once, whereupon Sue gives up and desperately apologizes.
  • Dan Hibiki from Street Fighter likes to boast about how strong he is and invites people to learn martial arts from him. While he may be a skilled fighter to a normal person, he is very weak when compared to the rest of the cast.
  • Sir Prancelott of Scufflewick in Drakensang always talks about his wondrous deeds.... except that he's the biggest egotist in Aventuria, his sword skills are useless, he can barely hold his own against a wolf and runs away from some goblins (later claiming that he was taking their attention away from you) and the only time he tries to take on a Linnworm (huge multi-legged reptile), he's knocked unconscious by the beast's breath.
  • Von Kaiser in both of his appearances in the Punch-Out!! series, where despite acting like an imposing military man, he's only the second opponent and is barely more challenging than Glass Joe. The Wii version ups the ante further, by showing that, as a boxing teacher, he got PTSD from getting beaten up and ridiculed by his students - who are children. He can actually back it up a little in the Title Defense mode, though.
    • Even Glass Joe gets in on it in Title Defense mode. Along with his sudden skill bump, the headgear makes him a bit more confident.
  • In Mother 3, the Mole Crickets are an entire species of this, at least until their champion is defeated with ease by the protagonist.
  • Naoe Kanetsugu the INVINCIBLE from Sengoku Basara. He's the games' official Chew Toy Joke Character who is about as endurable as your average mook (and is in fact a retextured generic officer), but that doesn't stop his boasting.
  • Qing China from Victoria: An Empire Under The Sun. Huge population and equally enormous armies to draw on, as well as a huge territory to conquer, but they're technologically backwards with a mostly agrarian economy, and their government is quite poor as well. So, in any actual war, an equivalently-sized industrial superpower like the United States or The British Empire will roll them rather easily. The Opium Wars come to mind. In a similar vein, the Ottoman Empire. It starts out as a Great Power, up there with France, Britain, and the US, but its highly illiterate and conservative population often refuse to move forward like the rest of Europe and eventually they become pushovers. They act like a Great Power from beginning to end, however, which is potentially hilarious.
  • Self-proclaimed "strongest in Gensokyo" Cirno from Touhou Project, a stage 2 boss on a good day and a stage 1 miniboss on a bad one (in a game that usually has seven stages). Not entirely a "weakling" (considering that she is a fairy), but not hot stuff by any means either. Fans will often exaggerate this and make her even weaker than she is depicted in canon (others go the other way and make her a Memetic Badass).
  • Hollow Knight has Zote the Mighty, a pompous weakling that you'll encounter during your adventures (and usually have to save) who acts as if he's the hero of his own saga and treats you as some random guy following him.
  • Dragon Quest V: Dwight Dwarf likes flaunting his physical prowess, but for all of his talk, he gets beaten relatively easily by a young boy. And when they meet up again years later, he's no stronger than he was before.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: For as cocky and macho as he acts, Johnny Deepend's one of the weakest enemies in the entire game. He only has two moves that can actually deal damage, he's almost completely defenseless once the pool is drained and to hammer the point home, he has less health than a Goobnote .
  • The Battle Cats:
  • Paper Mario has Jr. Troopa, who fights Mario several times throughout the game. He talks tough and threatens to beat Mario up for entering his turf, but doesn't have the strength to back it up. When fought early on, he's completely impossible to lose to, and even though he gains some new tricks every time he's fought, he's still not particularly threatening.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lucifer in Umineko: When They Cry is acting like the boss of the Seven Sisters Of Purgatory and often scolding them (as the eldest sister), but she is actually the weakest among them and is painfully aware of it. Leviathan outright calls her a "blusterous weakling" after she loses against Kanon.
  • Maruhashi from Spirit Hunter: NG knows how to talk big and throw a mean glare, but he falters when Akira refuses to back down and promptly gets his ass kicked. He learns a lesson and is much less of a braggart in his later appearances.

  • In Rusty and Co., Anti-Madeline is the Evil Side of Madeline The Paladin, and about three inches high (there was just not that much evil to be found in Madeline). Can be extremely belligerent, though incapable of fighting just about any character.
  • Weak Hero:
    • Double Subverted with Rowan. He talks big, but Eugene is convinced that he's all hot air and couldn't actually handle himself in a fight- an assumption that's backed up by Rowan mysteriously disappearing when a conflict does seem to be stirring. Then he actually gets in a fight and wins with a single blow from his elbow. Very impressive... and also his only decent move. He's pretty much useless in a fight if he can't use his elbow, and relies on posturing to get him out of sticky situations.
    • Phillip Kim isn't actually strong at all, and instead relies on his money to bribe stronger people into fighting for him. He still upkeeps the facade of being a tough guy but is quick to crumple when he actually ends up in a fight.

    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Captain Hammer is perfectly happy to beat up nonpowered folks. He's not actually that talented a fighter, continually lets his enemies escape, and once he's actually injured he becomes a blubbering mess. Well, said injury came in the form of an exploding death ray — it's just that Captain Hammer was such an Invincible Hero that he'd never actually felt pain before. He's seen in the end credits laying on a therapist's couch crying about the physical trauma, blithely ignoring the death of his girlfriend.
  • In SMPLive, Schlatt has a tendency to make threats he can't back up. This usually ends in him combat-logging immediately out of panic.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park: Eric Cartman has consistently proven himself to be a bully that's all bark and no bite. He can talk a big game, but when it comes to actual combat, he can't follow through.
    • After realizing that he'll miss Christmas from trying to help Kyle, Cartman challenges Kyle to a fistfight. One light slap from Kyle sends Cartman into Inelegant Blubbering, crying for his mom.
    • During an argument over Family Guy, Cartman fought Kyle again. The scene is set up as rather dramatic, saying "let this be our final battle!" It turns into a Wimp Fight when Kyle and Cartman just lightly push and slap each other for a few seconds.
    • After Cartman spent an episode saying offensive things about breast cancer survivors, Wendy stood up to him about it. Cartman tried to back down, but Wendy wouldn't have it, resulting in Cartman being on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • When Cartman's girlfriend Heidi broke up with him, he threatened to kill himself if she left him. Heidi told Cartman to go ahead, since she was done being responsible for his happiness, and she knows that Cartman didn't have the guts to do it. Sure enough, when Heidi walks away, Cartman can't bring himself to actually do anything. He then threatens Heidi, but she's already gone.
  • Daffy Duck (and of course, Duck Dodgers by extension) zigzags this. Despite being a self-proclaimed "craven little coward", he has a tendency for flapping his big beak about his bravado and smarts and trying to place himself in the role of The Ace, usually getting in the face of someone way out of his league. The only time Daffy shows any competence in a fight is when his money or a treasure he wants is being threatened. At that, Daffy will usually turn into a rather good fighter, but only until he gets his hands on what he wants.
  • The Box Ghost from Danny Phantom. Possessing the powers of box manipulation, and Rob Paulsen's classic Simpleton Voice, the Box Ghost is little more than a Silly Spook joke character compared to the other fearsome villains of the show. That is until he becomes a juxtaposed Future Badass.
  • Dermott in The Venture Bros. talks about fighting much more often than he actually fights, but it's been demonstrated that when actually challenged, he has no hand-to-hand capabilities whatsoever. Even Dean can beat him. This is a big hint that he isn't actually Brock's son.
    • In the past, Rusty was once kidnapped by a boxing-themed villain named Turnbuckle for no reason other than to pick a fight with Team Venture. In response, Jonas Venture's enforcer The Action Man pistol-whipped the piss out of him before blowing his brains out. This also lead to the Guild of Calamitous Intent to establish the Equally Matched Aggression system to ensure that villains don't get themselves by punching above their weight.
  • Family Guy: When drunk, Peter Griffin boasts he can beat up Liam Neeson. Unsurprisingly when it happens, Liam Neeson beats the ever-living shit out of the fatass. It wasn't even a fight, it was a one-sided beatdown.
  • In Beast Wars, Quickstrike was often proclaiming himself to be the toughest 'bot on the planet, but in reality he has suffered defeats ranging from being beaten by an already-battered Dinobot to being driven back by primitive humans; the closest he has ever come to defeating one of the Maximals in combat was when he knocked out Depth Charge after his arrival, and Depth Charge had already taken a beating from Rampage and didn't know there was anyone else to watch out for.
  • In her very first appearance, Trixie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic proclaims to be a great magician and lies about having defeated the giant bear called Ursa Major. Later, when she actually has to face Ursa Major, she doesn't stand a chance. To make things even more painful for her, at the end of the episode it is revealed that the bear she tried to fight wasn't even Ursa Major, but Ursa Minor, which is several times smaller and weaker.
    • In "No Second Prances", after constantly boasting about being better than Twilight and getting an ego boost from kicking her out of Ponyville in "Magic Duel", Twilight ruining the friendship between Starlight and Trixie (which the latter only formed for personal gain) is enough for Trixie to sob, pathetically deny there's anything wrong, and slam her wagon door like a teenager throwing a temper tantrum. Notably, she's grown out of this after several occasions where it's bitten her in the butt. While still boastful and unrealistic about her actual skills, she is very quick to deny she has any talent in magic or fighting (though she still loves to antagonize those who do).
  • Scooby-Doo: Scrappy is this, full stop. Despite being a tiny puppy, he wants to fight every monster or criminal the gang comes across and it inevitably falls on Scooby to grab him and carry him off before anything can happen to him. This, of course, led to his becoming the Trope Namer for The Scrappy.
  • Steven Universe: Peridot starts out as a Dirty Coward afraid to step out of line or get into any kind of fight. After getting the courage to insult her superior and join the Crystal Gems, she eventually starts training for combat, but her usual ego and a few lucky breaks cause her to vastly overestimate her progress. During the fight against Blue Diamond, all Peridot can do on her own is toss empty soda cans at her, but still brags about how well she fought. She even has the gall to walk up to Yellow Diamond and try to chase her off by insulting her. Peridot instantly gets poofed.
  • Transformers: Animated: Sentinel Prime. He's Autobot Elite Guard and very proud of his combat skills, but his combat record is abysmal. It seems like he's not a bad fighter, but he's also a lot worse than anyone he fights.

    Real Life 
  • Mike Pendergast, who (along with his brothers) ran the infamous Pendergast political machine in Kansas City just after World War I, was both this and a Fighting Irishman of sorts. He was so skinny that he had to wear both suspenders and a belt to hold up his pants, but he loved to antagonize the rival faction in the city, even though they were fellow Democrats. He had a habit of picking fights with large gangs of rivals and then receiving a severe beatdown, the satisfaction of having gotten his assailants to lose their temper being good enough for him.
  • North Korea, with all the trash-talking they give to the United States, have repeatedly been caught photoshopping images of their military to look stronger and, in one case, painting civilian aircraft to pass as military planes.
  • This is/was a common pattern in Flaunting Your Fleets: the less industrially capable the country is, the more ambitious super-battleship it attempts to produce or order.
    • One example of this logic is the ill-fated Rio de Janeiro, the only dreadnought with seven turrets, which was not completed by the time the South American dreadnought race was over, was sold to the Turks, and then appropriated by the Brits with Battleships who were building it at the outbreak of the Great War.
    • Another is the infamous Yamato-class. Yes, it was the biggest, baddest, and with the biggest guns. But at the time the two ships (one more was finished as a carrier) were ready to sail against the Yanks with Tanks, the latter had smaller, faster, more efficient battleships with guns quite capable of hurting the Japanese giants — as well as radars linked to electromechanical computers allowing them to do so at night and from over the horizon; and there were several times more such Allied battleships. The fact that carrier aviation had obsoleted battleships altogether was incidental to their defeat. And just to pour salt in the wound, they consumed so much fuel the Japanese couldn't even afford to send them out to fight when they might have actually made a difference. The one time the Yamato itself actually saw ship-to-ship combat (in the Battle of Samar) it was handed a humiliating defeat by light escort ships.
    • Bismarck is another good example: while it outmatched anything the Royal Navy had on a ship-by-ship basis, it was confronted by the entire Royal Navy. She was actually supposed to be a convoy raider, designed to outrun anything she couldn't defeat by out-ranging it; unfortunately for her crew, her engines and keel were damaged in the first engagement and the British fleet cornered her almost immediately.
    • And that's just the battleships that were built. Both Japan and Germany had grand plans for even more ambitious (and impractical) battleships that their deteriorating war situation scuppered.
    • Have you ever heard of the Sovietsky Soyuz-class battleships? It was supposed to be quite a bit bigger than the Bismarck, with bigger guns and thicker armor, but none of the four hulls were anywhere near completion by the time of the German invasion, and they were likely to be plagued by technical problems since the Soviet Union was rebuilding its capital ship design school from scratch while permitting extreme size creep.
  • On a much more general note, the entire credo of Axis powers in World War II was this: Germany, Italy, Japan, and their ally of convenience the Soviet Union were unsatisfied by themselves having less power than the established colonial empires and the United States, so they started a war.
    • Of the Axis powers, Fascist Italy under the leadership of Il Duce Benito Mussolini is considered a laughable joke despite its aspirations to rebuild the Roman Empire. Italy's lackluster industrial capability meant that the nation couldn't produce modern equipmentnote  and failed to take advantage of its own natural resources.note  Even when having clear advantages in battles, Italian forces suffered embarrassing losses like the Battle of Bardia in which they lost to Commonwealth force despite outnumbering them 3 to 1. In most of Italy's campaigns in North Africa and the Balkans, they only succeeded because of German military assistance. Even worse is that the Italian leadership was aware of such shortcomings with Mussolini privately confiding to Hitler in 1939 that his nation couldn't wage war until 1942. While the other Axis powers made embarrassing mistakes that ultimately costed them the war, Germany and Japan were at least able to achieve some major wins over the Allies like capturing Paris and conquering Singapore. In contrast, Italy never had the moments of triumph that would earn respect from their allies and foes.
  • Richard Gale, a short, skinny bully who decided he was tough enough to start punching Casey Heynes, a bigger kid, with impunity. Then Casey, thereafter known as Zangief Kid, suplexed him into the pavement with a lack of effort bordering on laziness. Half the reason the video went viral was because of this trope (the other half goes to Bully Hunter, probably).
  • Iraq under Saddam Hussein's rule, while he boasted of having one of the largest armies in the world, all he had was numbers, as his military was composed mostly of unwilling conscripts, and equipped with outdated weapons since the Cold War. Needless to say, Iraq got easily curb-stomped in the Persian Gulf War, and in the US invasion of Iraq. Even in a surprise invasion against Iran, which had recently gone through a revolution and had its army in what was largely an even worse state, Iran still gave as good as it got and managed to reverse the tide in only two years.
  • Despite currently being under the very visible threat of military intervention, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his cohorts never cease to boast about the power and loyalty of their Bolivarian National Guard. Then on August 4, 2018, the whole army went running for the hills due to the explosion of a single drone.
  • Chechen forces under Ramzan Kadyrov fighting on the Russian side of the Russian invasion of Ukraine talked big promising to Rape, Pillage, and Burn, but faced a Curb-Stomp Battle within hours of entering the country. They proceeded to post Tiktok and many other social media posts talking big about being 'super soldiers' and badasses who are fighting right near Kyiv... and then analysis found all these social media posts were coming from neighboring peaceful Belarus. And that's besides all their Bling of War equipment not having a speck of dirt on it. They have the Embarrassing Nickname of the Tiktok army because of this.


Video Example(s):



Kuwabara may act the tough guy, but Yusuke easily knocks him down to the curb without a sweat. And it turns out Kuwabara has been beaten by Yusuke 156 times by this point. But you gotta give the guy props for not giving up.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / BoisterousWeakling

Media sources: