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Boisterous Weakling

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"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.


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, or Super Loser. 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. 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.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Team Rocket in Pokémon 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Vizard 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rebuild World: There is a struggle within a Private Military Contractor 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 tigers. 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 Red Shirt 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.

    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!
  • Normally, getting angry turns the scrawny geek Dr. Banner into the savage brute called The Incredible 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.

    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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Harry from Home Alone. His partner Marv wishes he could be this, but he's not that threatening even on a superficial level.
  • A perfect example of this trope is Wimp Lo from Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. 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"...
  • "Ol' Cigaret" in Emperor of the North 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.
  • Ike Clanton in Tombstone is a loudmouth who starts several gunfights, but he's always the first to fall or flee despite his bravado. The obnoxious, bullying casino employee at the beginning, played by Billy-Bob Thornton, is another example.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • When "Happy" Hogan and the Black Widow infiltrate Ivan Vanko's hideout in Iron Man 2, 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.
  • 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!"

  • 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 & 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 Bad Ass.
    • Gilderoy Lockhart he is constantly boasting his achivements, but he is clearly incompetent and it is later revealed that he stole all of his achivements from actual heros.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 AJ Lee are more literal examples, with Spike (usually) being the heroic variant.

  • 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 take this Up to Eleven 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 .

    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.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park: Eric Cartman has consistently proven himself to be a bully that's all talk. 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 mild slap from Kyle sends Cartman into Inelegant Blubbering, crying to 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.
    • Cartman got his ass thoroughly kicked by Wendy after spending an episode saying offensive things about breast cancer survivors. When Wendy stood up to him about it, Cartman tried to back down, but Wendy wouldn't have it.
    • 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 doesn'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.
  • 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 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).
  • 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 
  • Small dogs fit this trope. Vets call it BDLDLDL: Big Dog, Little Dog, Little Dog Lost.
  • 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. They've 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 Il Duce Benito Mussolini is the biggest example of this trope. While Mussolini talked a big game about rebuilding the Roman empire, Italy couldn't back up his aspirations. Italy's lackluster industrial capability meant that the nation couldn't produce modern equipment.note  Even when they had the upper hand in certain battles, the Italian military suffered numerous setbacks like the Battle of Bardia in which Italian forces lost the battle to the British and Australians despite holding a 3:1 numerical advantage. In most of Italy's campaigns, 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 during the Battle of France and Conquest of Singapore. In contrast, Italy never had the moments of triumph that would earn respect from their friends and foes.
  • This is a common behavior pattern with drunks, especially mean ones. Most of them couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag and are generally aware of it when sober, but once inebriated, they either forget or stop caring and will loudly attempt to start fights or just out-and-out attack people with no regard for the consequences. Given that alcohol also tends to give them Determinator tendencies and resistance to pain, it's not a good idea to fight them unless you want to potentially cause crippling or lethal injuries by accident.
  • 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.
  • Many martial arts "masters" attempt to teach "no-touch takedowns": that is to say, the ability to knock someone out without even touching them using nothing but the energy of the body, with notable examples including George Dillman and the Yellow Bamboo School. They put on grandiose displays of punching the air while their students writhe and fall, but mysteriously, their powers seem to have no effect on anyone who isn't a planted volunteer.
  • Chechen forces under 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 neigboring 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.

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Example of:

Main / BoisterousWeakling

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