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Brains and Brawn

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You've got the brawn, I've got the brain
Let's make lots of money
Pet Shop Boys, "Opportunities"

Teaming up The Smart Guy with The Big Guy (or the Evil Genius with The Brute). Sometimes, Brains and Brawn serve as heroes, but other times they're villains (forming an Evil Duo, often the Quirky Miniboss Squad or part of a Terrible Trio, sometimes being Bantering Baddie Buddies, and very frequently a Bumbling Henchmen Duo). Either way, there tends to be some element of comedy inherent in their natures. If the Brain is ever condescending or mean to Brawn, it's because Dumb Is Good.

Usually, in a pair like this, The Smart Guy communicates vital information to The Big Guy, so that The Big Guy can utilize this information to his advantage. Other times, The Smart Guy provides items and equipment for The Big Guy to utilize. Regardless, while The Smart Guy provides resources and information, The Big Guy must protect The Smart Guy with his life, so that he can gain more information and resources from The Smart Guy.

Typically, since one person has brains but not brawn and the other brawn but not brains, the brawn half of this trope is also an example of Dumb Muscle.

When you have one character with both Brains and Brawn, you've got yourself a Genius Bruiser or a Badass Bookworm, depending on which element is dominant. Sometimes both characters form this dynamic.

If combined with Big Guy, Little Guy, the Little Guy is almost always the Brains and the Big Guy the Brawn. See also, Beauty, Brains, and Brawn, a feminine variation of the Trope with a third member — a Beauty — added, Strong Girl, Smart Guy, for when the Brawn is a girl and the Brains is a guy, and Smart Jerk and Nice Moron where the Brains is the Smart Jerk while the Brawn is the Nice Moron. A Technician/Performer Team-Up often has the "technician" as the brains and the "performer" as the brawn.

A Sub-Trope of Brains Versus Brawn.

Be sure, when adding examples, that the non-brainy one does have great strength. If he's not superior when it comes to physical activity then they're not an example.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sora and his twin brother, Nike, in Air Gear are the two official leaders of Genesis. Sora being the brains behind all of Genesis' operations and Nike being the brawn that goes out and does the more physical work. Before Genesis though, it seemed that they were more Bash Brothers.
  • In Brave10, Seikai and Benmaru form a Badass and Child Duo, where Seikai plays the dumb muscle to Benmaru's strategist
  • Code Geass: Suzaku, who pilots the Lancelot, and Lloyd Asplund who maintains it.
  • For his final form in Digimon Frontier, Lucemon becomes two separate entities; a powerful and gigantic dragon that is no more intelligent than an animal, and a smart and relatively small insect that resides within a sphere carried and protected by the dragon.
  • Subverted with Edward and Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. It initially appears that Edward is the brains and Alphonse the brawn, supported by the fact that Alphonse (in his human or armored forms) is stronger, while Edward is shown to be more intelligent and perceptive. Furthermore, Edward is the only one of the two who is a state alchemist, and admits he had never once beaten Alphonse in a sparring match. In actuality, both brothers embody both types. Edward is a Badass Bookworm, the more physical and belligerent (especially where his height is concerned), while Alphonse is a bit of a Shrinking Violet Genius Bruiser. Izumi taught them both that one needs to train their body in order to train their mind.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, Kindaichi and Kenmochi has this dynamic between them. Kindaichi is a genius Amateur Sleuth with prodigious deduction skills that help Kenmochi solve many a murder case while lacking strong physique for melee confrontations, whereas Kenmochi is a police detective equipped with black-belt in judo that he utilizes Charles Atlas Superpower well in and serviceable but not excellent deduction skills that are often needed to solve elaborate murder plots.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (2005):
    • Link is something of The Fool, relying on improvisation and luck while Ghanti makes use of whatever weapon is available. This is best shown in their confrontation with the Armos; Ghanti breaks her scimitar trying to cut it, while Link lures it into a fountain to sink.
    • It is revealed that Link's father and Agahnim had this dynamic in their youth, with the former being a swordsman and the other a scholar.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • The partners Smart Girl Teana and Cute Bruiser Subaru.
    • The summoner Corona uses her intelligence and controls her strong Golem, Goliath.
  • Choji and Shikamaru from Naruto could also count as it is Shikamaru's intelligence and Choji's strength that is the main focus of their attacks especially when they work together.
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica has the titular Oriko and her (girl)friend Kirika. Oriko is a seer and only fights at the very end of the series. Kirika is batshit insane and rather talented at killing things. Together they cause the plot.
  • Rebuild World:
  • A description used for Maka (brains) and Soul (brawn) from Soul Eater, which appeared to be the case only initially. Soul's understanding of insanity and music has given them the upper hand on several occasions, showing that he does take time to think and come to useful (at times life-saving) conclusions. While Maka's attempt at gaining "strength" through brute force originally got her nowhere (except off of London Bridge), her recent victories have demonstrated her increased physical ability. Tsubaki and Black Star are a better example, where it is the Weapon who is the sensible one, and the meister the brash — but ultimately effective — bruiser.
  • Ransack and Crumplezone from Transformers: Cybertron. In a slight subversion, Ransack often comes across as not especially bright either, and being the brains only because Crumplezone is several times thicker than a titanium-reinforced brick.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Motu Patlu, Motu is a strong dimwit who is such a Big Eater that he literally cannot think on an empty stomach, leaving his smarter friend Patlu to brainstorm most of the ideas for him.

    Card Games 
  • In Chaotic, Borth-Majar is one creature in regards to the rules of the card game, but consists of two entities: A super-smart midget with no offensive power who rides on the back of a dumb-as-rocks rock monster who is barely able to cast spells on his own. Be sure to practice before using "divide and conquer" tactics with them in the Dromes, though, as trying to be in two places at once can be highly disorienting.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Okaun and Zndrsplt are a tag-team from Kylem, consisting of a giant, brutal cyclops and a tiny homunculus who used to be one of the judges. Both have coin-flip synergies: Okaun gets temporarily more power every time you win a flip, while Zndrsplt draws you cards.

    Comic Books 
  • Bowling King: Tz'how and his wife Jessica. Tz'how is a bowler with powerful arms, but he thinks it's an astonishing coincidence that Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson resemble one another and has a pretty advanced case of amnesia. Jessica, meanwhile, uses his lacking intelligence to keep him from regaining his memories of their past together and constantly plots to live comfortably with him.
  • Daredevil: Early in the comics, Mr. Fear specifically hires the Ox and the Eel as his enforcers because they're, respectively, incredibly powerful but too slow to challenge his leadership and cunning but lacking the strength to oppose him.
  • The Incredible Hercules: The central characters are the titular legendary Greek hero Hercules, one of the strongest men to ever walk the Earth, and his teenaged travelling companion, Amadeus Cho, who is inexperienced but incredibly smart; they often work for/with Herc's sister Athena, another genius, though of the Chessmaster type.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner himself and his various alters also act as this to each other as an actual dynamic: when he's more cooperative with his alters, Bruce takes on the role of Brain to their Brawn, and a moral compass as well. At times, Bruce has even been suggested to be working in Hulk's mind to direct all his actions to ensure there are no casualties. Joe Fixit (while also a Hulk and bruiser in his own right) sometimes has this dynamic compared to the more powerful but less streetwise Hulks, since he's more willing to think smart and strategically.
    • This is also Rick Jones dynamic with the Hulk, with Rick generally being the smarter one of the two, directing the Hulk what exactly he needs to smash.
  • You could likely count Peppermint Patty and Marcie from Peanuts here. Marcie, being a nerdy "book smart" type, would be brains, helping her friend with any intellectual situation. Patty, however, is a tomboyish "street smart" type (brawn) who has to help Marcie any time they're outside of school, defending her (and often anyone else) in any physical confrontation.
  • Jimmy Tornado: Jimmy is the muscle of the main duo, clobbering baddies with his gorilla strength, while Lupé, as a scientist, is the brains.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Xadhoom and Paperinik does this with a catch: Xadhoom is a Genius Bruiser and perhaps the smartest person in the universe, but she is also carrying around the power of the sun, so her strategies rarely go beyond being The Berserker since she very rarely needs anything else. Paperinik, on the other hand, is Book Dumb but also a Badass Normal who knows how to think on his feet and figure out plans that don't require Xadhoom to detonate half a solar system.
    • Paperinik and One form a more traditional pair. One is a Badass Normal superhero, the other is his Mission Control and artificial intelligence.
    • There is also a whole planet (Vanium) where each member of the strong but dumb race lives in symbiosis with a member of the weak but smart race.
  • Super Sons: Like their fathers, [[Characters/{{Robin Damian Wayne Damian Wayne]] and [[Characters/{{Superman Jonathan Samuel Kent Jon Kent]] have these respective roles when working together in the field, with Damian being the Teen Genius Badass Normal to Jon's Naïve Newcomer Flying Brick. Interestingly enough, their personalities invert the traits associated with this trope from time-to-time, with Damian being prone to "punch first and ask questions later" to Jon's greater willingness to slow down, negotiate, and think things through.
  • The Sandman: Brute and Glob are two 'Major Arcana' (the most powerful and significant of dreams) who go rogue during Sandman's imprisonment. Exploiting Dream's law against killing mortals, they manage to create a barrier inside the mind of an abused child even Morpheus can't easily penetrate.
  • Sin City: Dwight McCarthy is capable of handling himself in a fight but if he can help it, he likes to think his way through problems while his friends kill the bad guys. He often has Miho do all the dirty work but the story that introduced him, A Dame to Kill For, involved him enlisting Marv's help to handle the Scary Black Man who handed him a painful asskicking.
  • When Supergirl teams up with her love interest Brainiac 5 or her best friend Batgirl she is the Brawn to Brainiac/Batgirl's Brains.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1987):
      • The khund Ectreba plays the brawn to Sakritt's brain. The two started out as antagonists who'd decided they would jump at the opportunity to kill other slaves in order to provide more food for their faction but quickly allied with Diana during the Slave Revolt and stayed loyal to her throughout the war against the Sangtee Empire even if they questioned her tactics.
      • Rough, tumble and superstrong Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark is best friends with clever hacker extraordinaire George Redmond. They've even teamed up to take on supervillains before, though George prefers to act as Cassie's confidant and avoid heroics herself.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men allies-and-sometimes-enemies, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, has B'nee and C'cill, two symbiotic mechanoids who could have inspired MasterBlaster. One is big, clunky, armored, and sub-sentient, the other is small, agile, and has tactical skills. They are apparently named after Beany and Cecil.
    • Among the X-Men themselves, one of the more iconic romantic pairings was between computer geek Kitty Pryde and team powerhouse Colossus.
    • And their enemies, Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy. They're of comparable intelligence, but Black Tom is a plotter and Juggernaut is an enforcer.

    Fan Works 
  • Arc Corp: Discussed, with Blake viewing her and Jaune's dynamic as such. Since she has Aura, combat training, and a semblance that's applicable for most fights, she sees herself as the brawn who handles the more dangerous anomalies and bodyguards Jaune. Meanwhile, Jaune is the brains that focuses mainly on the investigation and research side of things due to his years of experience and knowledge. Granted, Blake learns to handle investigations herself as time goes on, and Jaune can defend himself if he really has to, but it's shown that the duo feel most comfortable in their respective roles.
  • Better Bones AU: Loyal childhood friends/ambiguously romantically involved Brokenstar and Runningnose have this dynamic, with Brokenstar being an angry and passionate, brutish cat who prefers solving his problems with physical fighting, and Runningnose being a clever Non-Action Guy who comes up with strategies to bolster Brokenstar's conquest and remove enemies within his Clan.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In later stories of the series (after Rhino passes away), Bolt and Mittens often exhibit elements of this trope dynamic. Bolt is bigger and stronger than the cat, while Mittens is the smaller and more worldly-wise member of the pair. Mitigated somewhat given that Bolt is shown as naive or Comically Missing the Point rather than dumb.
  • Jack and Balrog are a very bizarre and loosely connected variation of this in Cave Story Versus I M Meen; Balrog is a complete and utter neanderthal and also an extremely hyperactive ditz who never seems to think things through, while Jack is a ridiculously intelligent and downright Badass Adorable Nerd Action Hero who happens to be only 16 years old.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the Oirish Bible-thumping bartender Tapper and the Brave Scot Duncan McSmurf are this kind of duo, as are the twin brothers Handy and Hefty.
  • Sun & Moon: Ascending Star sets Celestia and Luna up like this. The elder sister is an intellectual/magical prodigy and a Chessmaster, but she's next to useless in a physical fight, so Luna has to be the one to defend her.
  • In The Fifth Act Zack is the physical powerhouse who has the habit of not thinking things through while Kunsel is a perceptive Knowledge Broker who tends to overthink before acting.
  • In Imaginary Seas, Percy and Chiron form this duo. Percy is the Brawn, having been supercharged by the Klironomia he's been taking in as well as his wide array of Noble Phantasms and skills that make him a One-Man Army. Chiron is the brains, as he is still the wiser and more calculating of the two of them and has more knowledge of what exactly is going on in the Lostbelt.
  • Koi No Yokan: Majima describes Kiryu and Nishiki's old dynamic as such, with Kiryu being the most-of-the-time Gentle Giant with a strong sense of justice while Nishiki was the charismatic Street Smart yakuza-thinking type. He figures that everything started going horribly wrong when the two were seperated.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Zigzagged with regard to the Wolf and his Tzeentchian sorcerer Sven Swordeater. While it's obvious the Wolf is the stronger of the two (being bigger than Gregor Clegane) while Sven has powerful magic, the Wolf isn't as stupid as he appears to be. Sven thinks himself able to manipulate the Wolf to their advantage, but the Wolf knows Tzeentchians well enough to know you can never trust one, and his frequent mistreating of Sven is justified with the fact that Sven will betray him someday, so he might as well do something to deserve it.
  • In Persona: The Sougawa Files, the two main villains are Nobuyuki Itou and Yuudai Honda, who have this dynamic. Nobuyuki is extremely strong and exceptional in combat to the point where he can keep up with the Freedom Fighters on even footing even without using his Persona, while Yuudai only really has gadgets to help him in a fight but is extremely intelligent and constructs all of the Shadow Syndicate's devices.
  • Prison Island Break gives us the frail genius Tails and the powerful, if dim, Knuckles. A variation occurs with Sonic, who is both intelligent and strong.
  • A romantic example in The Story of Apollo, Daphne and Luca: An Italian Tragedy with Luca and Alberto. Luca is a scholarly and Constantly Curious Lovable Nerd with an endless thirst of knowledge, while Alberto is more physically active, especially since he works both as a fisherman and a lifeguard.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Japan is the brains while Germany is the brawn. Despite this, Japan is very skilled at fighting too while Germany is also quite smart. Ironically, instead of working together, they fought each other over Italy.
  • Played straight and subverted, in the My Little Pony story We Rent The Night, with Privates Trixie Lulamoon and Melon Rind, the former being the brains of the two, while latter being the muscle. Subverted both ways however, as Trixie only comes off as smarter, because she is more experienced and less naive than Melon Rind. Melon meanwhile may be physically stronger, but Trixie can more than make up for it with her magic.

    Films — Animation 
  • The 3 Little Pigs: The Movie: Downplayed with Rublad and Big Boss as the Brains and Brawn respectively. While Big Boss isn’t a complete idiot, and Rublad doesn’t do half bad in his fight against Big Boss, Big Boss can still be incredibly stupid at times, falling for tricks that Rublad would likely have seen through, and Rublad tries to use the canning machine he made to finish off Big Boss, instead of doing it himself.
  • Hiccup and Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon. Astrid is very smart, but not like the nerdy and innovative intellectual that Hiccup is. Astrid is the rough-and-tumble warrior whose goal is to become a dragon fighter, and Hiccup uses his intellect to train a dragon. Together they get rid of the dragon pest problem and by the end of the movie become boyfriend and girlfriend.
  • Monsters University: By the standards of their society, Mike and Sully count as this. Mike knows all about the tactics and psychology to scaring kids, but Sulley actually has the power and talent to scare them. The film also explores what happens when such a pair don't work together; Mike, for all his knowledge, can't actually pass muster for a scarer due to his utter lack of scariness, and Sully starts falling behind in grades when he doesn't change adapt to the (mock) child he's supposed to be scaring.
  • Horace and Jasper from 101 Dalmatians are a downplayed example. Jasper is the leader and marginally smarter than Horace, not that that's saying much. Horace does seem to be stronger given that he can carry the bag holding the 15 puppies with one hand, breaks down some boards that Jasper was having trouble with, and accidentally rips out their vehicle's steering wheel in the climax. His strength doesn't help him out against the adult dalmatians however, and despite being generally dumber than Jasper, he is shown to accurately guess most of the dalmatians decisions in a case of Dumbass Has a Point, only for Jasper to shoot down the assumptions.
  • Zootopia has Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps. While certainly not stupid, Judy isn't as savvy as Nick and is much more prone to physical derring-do.
  • The Lion King. Timon certainly thinks this is the case with him and Pumbaa, but in reality Timon is closer (but not quite all the way) to the Know-Nothing Know-It-All and Pumbaa has plenty of Dumbass Has a Point-moments. Timon, just like real meerkats, is also spectacularly scrappy when he needs to be. It in general seems that Timon, being far more proactive and dynamic than the rather laid-back and happy-go-lucky Pumbaa, calls the shots based on that, and Pumbaa is content to let someone else do it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 21 Jump Street, a brains-and-brawn combo help each other get through the police academy (one helps the other learn the law, the other helps the first to pass the physical) and become best buds.
  • Jake and Tom from Aliens in the Attic could count as this, with the latter as the brains and the former as the brawn.
  • Subverted by Castor Troy and his brother Pollux in Face/Off. At first glance they appear to be the brawn and brains respectively, but Castor is more than capable of cunning, and Pollux has a high IQ, but also an ambiguous disorder that causes him to screw up simple things. Castor is the one who does most of the enforcing, but Pollux, being a Mad Bomber, has the higher body count. Furthermore, Castor is the main villain and the one who switches faces with Sean Archer.
  • Chunk and Sloth make a weird sort of comic/heroic pair in The Goonies. Chunk isn't exactly brainy, but he is when compared to Sloth, and he does lead them to the rest of the Goonies. Along the way Sloth demonstrates his incredible strength, for better or worse.
  • Green Street: Matt and Pete fall into this dynamic quite nicely. Matt, the Harvard dropout, brings the genius-level intellect, and Pete, the born street-brawler, the muscle and capacity for unflinching violence. Together, they turn the GSE from a has-been firm to a force to be reckoned with.
  • Masterblaster in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. The contract killing that Max accepts from Aunty is to break up this arrangement by killing the brawn, leaving the useful "brain" alive so he can continue to run the methane plant that provides power to Bartertown.
    Aunty: Have a look. Tell me what you see.
    Max: I see a big guy giving a little guy a piggyback.
    Aunty: Masterblaster. They're a unit. They even share the same name.
    The Collector: The little one is called Master. He's the brains. He runs Underworld. The other one is Blaster. He's the muscle. Together they can be very powerful. We want to keep the brain, dump the body.
  • Little Nicky: Satan's two evil sons have this dynamic going between them. Cassius is an enormous Scary Black Man, whereas Adrian is a much weaker-looking but more cunning Evil Brit.
  • Downplayed in The Man Who Would be King. The protagonists are Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan, two quick-witted battle-hardened veterans of the British Army who want to carve out a kingdom for themselves in the remote country of Kafiristan. Both of them can hold their own in a fight, but Peachy is smarter and more likely to solve a confrontation by means of his ingenuity and wit. Among other examples, he is the one to see that they can use the fact that the locals have mistaken Daniel for a god to their advantage. He has also enough good sense to advise Daniel to get out of the country with their booty as soon as possible before their deception is discovered. Conversely, Daniel is more quick-tempered and impulsive. He also has difficulties with basic math.
  • Ygor and the Frankenstein's Monster are teamed up like this in Son of Frankenstein and The Ghost of Frankenstein, as the Monster is a Manchild and thinks of Ygor as his friend.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Arnold is socially awkward but highly intelligent, and Rowdy is the toughest kid on the reservation who beats up people just to get his anger out, and frequently defended Arnold from bullies by beating them up.
  • Artemis Fowl and (Battle) Butler. Butler is actually pretty smart, but standing next to Artemis (Who, as far as we know, is the smartest person on, or under, the Earth) even he looks dim.
  • Aubrey-Maturin: Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are a subversion that seems played straight at first. Stephen Maturin is a 5'6" ill-looking physician and naturalist who can never grasp details of life at sea. Jack Aubrey is a tall, heavily-built naval war hero, whose body is covered with scars from various boarding actions he commanded, and who constantly fails hilariously at quoting The Bible or classical literature. However, Stephen routinely kicks Jack's lieutenants up and down the deck during fencing practice, and sometimes follows it up with shooting the pips off a playing card at twenty paces. Meanwhile, Jack has very little natural curiosity and sees no value in learning for its own sake, but will hurl himself head first into any academic pursuit he believes to be useful. When the series ends, he is one of three RN captains chosen for their astronomical skills to observe the passage of Venus (a once-in-a-millennium occurrence), his papers and lectures on astronomy and oceanography have won him a Fellowship in the Royal Society, and he always builds all his own telescopes and spyglasses.
  • Captive Prince: Downplayed between the protagonists Damen and Laurent; neither is dumb and neither is a pushover on a fight, but they both have their areas of expertise. Damen is a warrior prince who is huge and muscular, and fights both as a calling and as a sport, but he has no head for the complicated court politics he is embroiled with, while Laurent has a much lither frame and Damen beats him when the two fight, but he has been playing court politics all his life and embroiled in a fight of wits to assert his inheritance and power for years, making him the brains of the operation. That being said, Damen is not stupid, he just has a very Good Cannot Comprehend Evil morality that makes him blind to the ruthless and manipulative measures others, including Laurent, are willing to take; and Laurent is not weak, as his skill with a sword is still very impressive to the point he takes down a man much larger than even Damen with a mix of hit and run attacks and Combat Pragmatism.
  • Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, to some degree. While Cain does kick copious amounts of ass with sheer skill and light weaponry, physically he is no match for Jurgen, a sturdy Valhallan who skips wussy laser pistols in favor of a BFG melta gun. Cain is a Guile Hero while Jurgen is socially stunted, Literal-Minded and largely considered ignorant by most (though Jurgen has a decent case for more being Book Dumb and is very capable in the areas of scrounging and being prepared).
  • Mr Pin and Mr Tulip, a pair of villains in the Discworld novel The Truth. Pin is a sharp-dressed, skinny gangster who makes all their decisions, while Tulip is essentially a troll in human form.
    • Terry Pratchett, writer of said novel, has had fans point out to him that it's "obvious" that Tulip and Pin are based on Croup and Vandemar, and had this to say:
      "Fiction and movies are full of pairs of bad guys that pretty much equate to Pin and Tulip. They go back a long way. That's why I used 'em, and probably why Neil did too. You can have a trio of bad guys (who fill roles that can be abbreviated to 'the big thick one, the little scrawny one and The Boss') but the dynamic is different. With two guys, one can always explain the plot to the other..."
  • Played with in Dragonlance with Raistlin and Caramon Majere. They are twins, and early in their lives they are described as one person split in two. Raistlin is sickly and slight of build but possesses a particularly keen intellect, while Caramon is powerfully built but appears dull. However, by the end of the War of the Lance, the two have fully become their own people and go their separate ways. As the most power archmage in Krynn's history, Raistlin no longer relied on his brother's brawn. In contrast, Caramon's friends realize that he is not stupid, he simply weighs all options overly cautiously, preferring to trust in his twin's cleverness and decisiveness. As Caramon gains confidence in himself, he loses this indecisiveness and proves himself to be a particularly skilled general.
  • The eponymous pairing in the novel, Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick: Freak is a short handicapped kid (but brainy), Max (the narrator) is a Gentle Giant that people assume is stupid, and together they are Freak the Mighty.
  • There's a minor example — they're human kids who're thirteen and twelve respectively - in Tash and Zak Arranda in Galaxy of Fear. Tash is a bookworm and more thoughtful and insightful, and also gradually develops her skills with the Force. Zak is twelve but stronger, and is more direct and physical as well as being Book Dumb. By the end of the series, Zak is aware that Tash's skills have just become more useful than his - next to her telekinesis and their uncle being a scientist and a Shapeshifter, he doesn't feel like much.
  • The Gentleman Bastard series has a complex relationship with this trope.Small guy Locke Lamora is, for most of the series, partnered with muscle-and-fat bruiser Jean Tannen. Locke is a Satisfied Street Rat, cunning, quick on his feet and knows con artistry the way Mozart knew music. Jean is less quick-witted than Locke, and while a competent enough grifter, he's nowhere near Locke's level. However, Jean has a far better formal education, is something of a math prodigy and loves classical literature and theatre.
  • In The Hardy Boys, whenever Frank and Joe Hardy were allowed to have personalities, they frequently got compared this way. Frank was taller, leaner and more calm and logical. Joe was shorter, more muscular, and prone to being impulsive and hot-headed. Only a partial example as they're both shown as very tough and very clever, they just finally started to complement each other's personalities better.
  • Holmes on the Range: Big Red is the tougher brother, Old Red is the smarter one, although Big Red isn't stupid, and Old Red can handle himself in a fight.
  • Fisk (brains) and Michael (brawn) from the Knight and Rogue Series. Fisk is actually good with knives, but prefers to stay out of fights, and Michael, who does have some bright moments, actually has more of an education than Fisk, but you'd never notice it.
  • In Galactic Patrol, the quartermaster deliberately rigs a drawing to pair the captain Kimball Kinnison (brain) with marine sergeant Peter vanBuskirk (brawn). Definitely a case where it's only relative: Kinnison is pretty big and muscular except when you stand him next to a Heavy Worlder space marine, and vanBuskirk is far from stupid, even if he does have a mental block when it comes to higher mathematics. Lampshaded as the two fight through a hostile jungle:
    VanBuskirk: But we're quite a team at that, chief — brains and brawn, huh?
    Kinnison: Uh uh. Grace and poise; or, if you want to be really romantic, ham and eggs.
  • George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men are a tragic example that explores the deeper implications of such a relationship. Lennie is seemingly cognitively impaired to some extent, and George has to act as his friend's de facto caretaker in a world where nobody else will; meanwhile, the fact that Lennie Does Not Know His Own Strength eventually has awful consequences.
  • Mentioned, in name if not in spirit, in The Ship Who... — each "brainship" is assigned a "brawn" who acts as companion, ambassador and muscle for the immobile cyborged pilot encased inside the ship. Downplayed since brawns are also required to be pretty damn smart in order to come close to the pilot's abilities, though the brainships do tend to regard themselves as the smarter partners. As mentioned below, they also serve as someone to say to the other, "why are we heading to [planet/space station/Negative Space Wedgie] again?".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Bran and Hodor make what is probably the most extreme example on both ends, Bran being a 7/9-year-old lordling who gets crippled at the beginning of the first book., Hodor being the gigantic oaf that only knows how to say his name (and it's not even actually his name) who is put to the task of carrying him around wherever he goes.
    • Tyrion, a genius dwarf, and his sellsword friend/bodyguard Bronn (which even sounds like brawn), though Tyrion has fought in battle twice and Bronn is Street Smart. Subverted when Bronn decides that working with Tyrion has too many risks. It's nothing personal, just that sellswords can't afford to be eternally loyal.
  • Haru and Jun in Tadgifauna. Haru's a weedy high schooler with a knack for clever strategies. Jun's a massive, genetically engineered serpent. Jun's all the more dangerous for Haru's guidance.
    • In the prequel series Tales of Dunk and Egg, Dunk is the brawn and Egg is the brains. Dunk is a travelling hedge knight from Flea Bottom, who is seven feet tall (less an inch) and a powerful fighter, but can't read and is a little slow on the uptake. He's painfully aware of this and frequently berates himself for being "Dunk the lunk, thick as a castle wall" in his inner monologue. Egg, his squire, is highly literate and makes a hobby of studying heraldry, which comes in handy when he needs to serve as Mr. Exposition when they meet someone new, but is 9-11 years old (in each story he tends to be a year older than the one before) and small for his age besides. Egg also happens to be Prince Aegon Targaryen, the youngest son of the youngest son of King Daeron the Good, who readers of the main series know will grow up to be King Aegon the Unlikely, the last really good king Westeros has had.t
  • In Sparrow and Bright Hope has been trained in ancient magical knowledge, sciences like biology and astrology. Her barbarian companion can clothesline a horse.
  • In The Steerswoman series, Rowan and Bel downplay it. As a steerswoman, Rowan is the brains, but she's also a skilled swordswoman who can handle herself in a fight. As a barbarian Outskirter, Bel is the brawn, but her mind is nearly as sharp as Rowan's. Bel is the better fighter, and Rowan is the better thinker, but they have much more overlap than the usual brains-and-brawn duo.
  • In Navigating Early, Jack and Early take these roles while rowing. Jack does all the physical work, while Early acts as a coxswain. When Jack tries to row without Early's instructions, he ends up crashing and sinking.
  • Blaze: George and Blaze are a duo of con-men who make their livings off of scams and stick-up robberies; George is street-smart and serves as the brains of the duo while Blaze is mentally disabled and serves as the brawn. The plot kicks off when George is killed and Blaze decides to carry out one of George's plan: kidnapping the infant son of a millionaire and holding him for ransom. Tragedy ensues.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Generally describes the friendship between High-School Hustler Walter Denton and his best friend, Dumb Jock Stretch Snodgrass. Sometimes applies to Stretch's brother Bones as well. In the two different radio episodes titled "The Moving Van", the two teenage pals go into the moving business. Walter outright states that he's the brains of the operation. In one version, "Stretch" is the brawn. In the other, "Bones.
  • In Big Wolf on Campus, Tommy Dawkins is the school's quaterback in addition to being a supernaturally strong and fast werewolf. His best friend is Goth nerd Merton J. Dingle, whom Tommy sought specifically because he believed Merton was the only guy weird enough to know what to do about his new wolfy condition. When its time to fight the Monster of the Week, Tommy will do the fight part while Merton will inform him of the monster weaknesses.
  • Doctor Who: It's been lampshaded that the Doctor and Companions fall into this, as the Doctor (brains), shapes his Companions into weapons (brawn). The Seventh Doctor and Ace tended to be one of the better examples. Seven was a consummate master of Xanatos Speed Chess who rarely dirtied his hands with a fight. Ace was a juvenile delinquent fond of homemade explosives who shot one Dalek in the face with a rocket launcher, clobbered a second to death with a charged baseball bat, and shot Cybermen with a slingshot.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tyrion to Bronn. As a dwarf, Tyrion has had to use his wit and intellect to overcome the prejudice he has faced throughout his life and Bronn is his bodyguard-turned-friend who is a skilled and dangerous sellsword.
    • Bran to Osha. Bran is a cripple after an accident left him paralyzed but is very perceptive and is also a "warg" - meaning he has the ability to enter the mind of animals. Osha is his protector and is a wildling spearwife who is from the barbaric lands outside of Westeros, meaning that she is extremely capable in a fight.
    • Tyrion also alludes to this with him and his brother, although Jaime is by no metric dumb.
      Tyrion: My brother has his sword and I have my mind.
  • Heroes had the firestarter siblings, of whom the stronger brother was told by his father that God gave him a sister instead of a brain. The sister wasn't all that bright either.
    • Topher and Dominic have tension between them as two of the bad guys running the "Dollhouse." Dominic, a bodyguard, regularly uses threats of physical violence on Topher to ensure he's doing his job well. Topher, a programmer, regularly uses witty barbs on Dominic to rub it in that he's smarter.
  • Justified: While Harlan County gangster Dickie Bennett is nobody's idea of a genius, he's certainly an ambitious schemer and is far brighter than his gigantic thug of a brother, Coover.
  • Kamen Rider Build has Sento Kiryu and Ryuga Banjo. The former is a genius theoretical physicist with amnesia, while the latter is a former prize fighter who doesn't have much when it comes to critical thinking skills.
  • Eliot Spencer and Alec Hardison of Leverage act like this sometimes, most notably when Elliot is taking one of Hardison's flash drives over to Nate in prison. Eliot, however, is implied to be somewhat of a Genius Bruiser. Hardison... fights the injured, although he appears to have slowly taken a level in badass and made himself into a Badass Bookworm.
  • Merlin:
    • Merlin (brains) and Arthur (brawn). Merlin is sort of defaulted into the position of brains because (unlike Arthur) he usually knows what's actually going on. Amusingly, Arthur seems to consider himself the brains and the brawn of their two man band and takes delight in calling Merlin an idiot, useless buffoon, girl's petticoat, etc. — although, if you don't know that Merlin has magic, his antics do seem a bit strange. Although in the later episodes, Arthur seems to be realizing how clever/talented Merlin is, but is extra mean to hide his fondness of his servant.
    • In fact, as far as the magical side of the series goes, Gaius is the brains and Merlin is the brawn — Gaius knows everything there is to know about everything but doesn't like to use magic, while Merlin, the most powerful warlock of all time, manages to consistently not know anything about the evil magic of the episode until Gaius does the research for him. Granted, Gaius is his mentor, so it's sort of in the job description.
  • Prison Break's protagonists are Lincoln Burrows, a street tough thug framed for murder, and his brother Michael Scofield, an engineer with a genius escape plan. The "brains/brawn" comparison is made several times.
  • Return of Ultraman gives us the most dangerous enemies of Ultraman Jack: the wicked, cunning, and sadistic alien Nackle (who knew all of Jack's weaknesses and how to psychologically defeat our hero) and his hulking brute of a lackey, the super-strong, super-armored saurian kaiju Black King.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Narek is the Brain to Narissa's Brawn. He always analyzes something (or someone), then he slowly and carefully tinkers with it until he gets the desired result, but she believes that any problem can be solved with the immediate application of brute force. Their contrasting natures are evident when they discuss their attitudes towards the tan zhekran, a Romulan puzzle box.
    Narissa: I've never understood your fascination with this toy.
    Narek: It's not a toy. It's a tool. It helps me think.
    Narissa: The only thing it ever made me think of is smashing it open with a hammer to get the prize inside.
    Narek: The key to opening the tan zhekran is taking the time to understand what's keeping it closed. Listen, feel, move each piece ever so slightly, and then once you're sure... (he shows her the tan zhekran with the pieces in the right place)
    Narissa: Am I supposed to be impressed?
    Narek: Patience, sister. A quality you never had. (The tan zhekran then opens)
  • Supernatural: Sam (brains) and Dean (brawn) Winchester. Sam is a Badass Bookworm and Dean is something of a Genius Ditz, Depending on the Writer.
    • May be a subversion in later seasons, in that Sam is (much) bigger and stronger than Dean, but they still function this way.
    • Turns out to be a family trait as their mother is from an old hunting family while their father descended from a line of supernatural Knowledge Brokers. Sam lampshades this trope.
      Sam: The Winchesters and the Campbells—the brains and the brawn.
  • Malcolm Tucker and Jamie, the Violent Glaswegian spin doctors from The Thick of It and In the Loop This is actually an extremely intelligent decision by Malcolm, by having a strong ally that is less intelligent, he protects himself from his ally turning on him and doing any damage.
  • Young Sheldon: In "An 8-Bit Princess and a Flat Tire Genius", Sheldon and Connie show aspects of this when playing The Quest for Adeera, as Sheldon easily solves the puzzles but panics in combat, while Connie takes charge in combat but gets frustrated from the puzzles.

  • MF DOOM and Madlib in the video for Madvillain's "All Caps"; Both are mutated scientists, with DOOM being a hulking monstrosity and Madlib being a pocket-sized supergenius.

    Myths & Religion 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Back in the territory days, the managers were more or less permanent fixtures. They helped with continuity (eg: "[Face champion], you may have beaten my protege this time, but wait until you see who I am bringing next time!"). They also served as mouthpieces because, aside from Dusty and Flair, they were all just terrible talkers. It's all scripted now. (No need for natural talkers when everyone can sound equally wooden.)
    • The old-style managers, namely Blassie and Albano, would walk their guys out to Madison Square Garden, but they didn't tour. (Wrestlers move from place to place.) They cut promos and were there for the squash matches on TV, but then they would leave before the match started. Heenan and Hart were the next evolution of managers who were at ringside every show, took bumps from Hogan over and over again, and still came back.
    • Also, unlike today, managers were linked to numerous wrestlers all up the card, many of whom weren't linked or related. Heenan had Haku, Brain Busters, André the Giant, Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude. When we do get to see managers today, they are always exclusive to their talent (Heyman and Lesnar, Ellering and Authors of Pain, etc).

  • Our Miss Brooks: Generally describes the friendship between High-School Hustler Walter Denton and his best friend, Dumb Jock Stretch Snodgrass. Sometimes applies to Stretch's brother Bones as well. In the two different radio episodes titled "The Moving Van", the two teenage pals go into the moving business. Walter outright states that he's the brains of the operation. In one version, "Stretch" is the brawn. In the other, "Bones.
  • Riders Radio Theater has the villainous duo of criminal mastermind Slocum and his muscle, Charlie.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Ivy is a physically unintimidating nerd and her superpower allows her brief bursts of genius. Her best friend, Luna, is a confrontative bruiser whose strength was enhanced by her lightning power.
    • Daigo is the face of his gang, and like Luna has had his strength enhanced by his superpower. By contrast, his girlfriend Melissa serves as the brains and manipulates the gang through him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Mind Flayers are among the most intelligent beings in existence, but they loath physical labor, choosing instead to make use of physically powerful but less-intelligent beings as slaves whenever they need muscle. A very common team up is a Mind Flayer with one or more Umber Hulks, ogre-sized creatures that resemble giant beetles with flesh-rending claws.
  • Warhammer:
    • It wasn't a consistent thing, but more often than not, army books in older editions would go for two special characters, generally a clever mage (or mage-equivalent in the case of the Dwarf army, who cannot use magic) and a big, beefy fighter hero: Lord Kroak and Kroq-Gar for the Lizardmen, Wurrzag and Grimgor for the orcs, and so on.
    • The best known example in the lore is Tyrion and Teclis, High Elf brothers who are a physically gifted weapon master and a mystically powerful but physically weak (as in, needs healing potions just to stay alive) mage. They're also brothers.
    • Darkly subverted with Vilitch the Curseling, who could have been part of one of these pairings with his brother (with Vilitch playing the "brains" role), except that his tribe spat on him for being a mutated weakling and adored his handsome, powerful brother...until Vilitch made a Deal with the Devil, fused his body with his brother's, and used dark magic to control his mind.
    • Heinrich Kemmler is a frail and ancient (but extremely powerful) necromancer, and Krell is his physically imposing wight sidekick. In the fourth edition Kemmler could actually defeat Krell in hand-to-hand combat, but later editions would firmly put them in this dynamic. Krell can fight challenges for Kemmler, and gets more powerful if he does.

  • Nidhiki and Krekka from BIONICLE are Dark Hunters defined by this kind of relationship. Krekka is a brutish mass of Dumb Muscle who keeps the highly ambitious Nidhiki in check while in turn being properly directed around by Nidhiki.

    Video Games 
  • In Awesomenauts, the characters Vinnie and Spike are a classic criminal pair, with Vinnie as the brainy gangster and Spike as the dumb muscle. In game, Spike technically is the one you play as while Vinnie rides on his back and does all the talking, see?
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • The smart, sensible witch Dynaheir travels under the protection of the Dumb Muscle ranger Minsc.
    • The cunning wizard Xzar and the violent fighter/rogue Montaron form an eviller pair.
  • One of the many heroes in Dota 2 is Razzil Darkbrew the Alchemist, a small but intelligent character, who rides on the shoulders of a large unnamed ogre, who does the majority of the combat. They even refer to themselves as the brains and the brawn respectively:
    Razzil: I'm the brains!
    The ogre: And I'm the brawn!
  • Elizabeth and Booker in Bioshock Infinite as Elizabeth spent the majority of her life reading while Booker spent a lot of his life killing.
  • In Borderlands 2's "Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty" campaign, one of the main villains is Scarlett's arch-rival Sandman. When you finally meet Sandman, it turns out he's a midget with a massive bodyguard called the Big Sleep. Sandman's Boss Subtitles note that he's "totally the brains of the operation."
  • The RPG Maker game The Brains and The Brawn features the trope with the title characters being named after it. Brains, a nerd who tends to be smart and confident, and Brawn, a tall, red haired bully who messes with her along with several other characters, including a prestigious boy known as the Gambler and the ice cream obsessed girl Jeanne. They really like to mess a lot with Brains...
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Crash often plays this with his little sister Coco, who, being an expert hacker and Gadgeteer Genius, often provides technology and directions for Crash as he treks through each adventure. Coco regularly provides physical assistance as well, though Crash usually plays the main bulk of the game due to either stronger abilities or being able to access more areas and vehicles.
    • Crash Twinsanity: Crash Bandicoot and Dr. Neo Cortex share this relationship, though Cortex initially considers it a combination of his brilliant intellect and Crash's vacuous stupidity at first. In the end, most of the time, Crash just winds up whacking things with Cortex.
    "With my brains and your brawn, we'll make an excellent team!"
  • Cuphead: Wally Warbles' son is the brains to his father's brawn. It's even lampshaded when his son beats you. Although, to be fair, they are more Anti-Villains than true ones, since they made their Deal with the Devil but didn't want to work with him, so they ran off with their Soul Contracts along with almost all of the inhabitants of the Inkwell Isles.
  • Elden Ring: This is the dynamic held by demigod twins Miquella and Malenia. Malenia isn't stupid (being a brilliant Four-Star Badass capable of projecting an invasion force across a continent, a feat much harder than it looks) and Miquella isn't helpless (he's known to have created several combat incantations), but Malenia is best known as an undefeated swordswoman and Miquella is best known as a scholar and inventor. Their curses also hamper them in opposing ways; Malenia can't focus since she has to constantly divert her attention to holding back the Scarlet Rot, and Miquella's eternal childhood means he will always be physically weaker than other demigods.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the races of Men display this dynamic. The Imperials are the diplomatic brains while the Bretons are the magical brains to the Nords' Horny Vikings/Barbarian Hero and Redguards' Master Swordsman/Scary Black Man brawn. (Of course, they're only "heroic" from their own perspective...the races of Mer/Elves very much believe that Humans Are Bastards instead.)
  • In Ensemble Stars!, Akatsuki have this kind of aesthetic going on with Keito (cunning student council vice president who is also kind of a nerdy Non-Action Guy) and Kuro (a Gentle Giant karate expert who obediently carries out Keito's orders). However, Kuro is dutiful rather than dumb - and is more than willing to tell Keito when he thinks he's wrong - and while Keito isn't especially strong he's very capable at the physical idol work they do together.
  • A good karma Chosen One with a high Intelligence teaming up with Sulik in Fallout 2 would fit this trope.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Encyclopedia Eorzea says this is the relationship between Godbert and Julyan as co-owners of Manderville and Manderville. Godbert is the Brawn, bringing the goldsmithing expertise and acting as the face of the company. Julyan is the Brains as his most important economic advisor and manager.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: The Evil Sorcerer Iago and The Brute Hans act as Co-Dragons to Big Bad Garon. They are even fought together as a Dual Boss in Conquest and back-to-back as a Sequential Boss in Revelation.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Michael and Trevor, respectively, are a Villain Protagonist variant of this dynamic. This is in relative terms, however; Trevor's an intelligent man in his own right despite his instability, and Michael is certainly no slouch when it comes to the physical stuff.
  • Half-Life:
    • Inverted in the first game regarding Gordon. When you ask a scientist to follow you, he may say, "With my brains and your brawn, we'll make an excellent team." Which is quite the backhanded remark if there ever was one, considering Gordon is just as educated as any of them.
    • In Half-Life: Blue Shift, Barney Calhoun is the Brawn to Dr. Rosenberg and his team's Brains. It's Rosenberg and his companions who are able to build the functioning teleporter that allows the group to escape Black Mesa. However, without Calhoun there to act as their bodyguard and retrieve vital equipment for their progress while killing every alien and soldier in the way, they all would have died.
    • Half-Life 2: This happens when MIT grad Gordon Freeman is teamed up with Action Girl Alyx Vance for some of the game and practically all of Episode 1 and most of Episode 2. Of course, Gordon is nowhere near unable to hold his own in a fight.
  • In Halo, the Master Chief, a Super-Soldier equipped with Powered Armor, is often teamed up with Cortana, an Artificial Intelligence.
  • Heroes of the Storm plays with this. Cho'gall is a two-player hero, with Cho using physical attacks and controlling movement while Gall casts dark magic and goes wherever Cho takes them. Despite that, Cho is the Only Sane Man and Gall is insane to the point of being Chaotic Stupid. It does come back around in a less traditional way, though; Cho is the brains, making all of the plans, while Gall is the brawn, dealing all of the damage.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Zexion and Lexaeus are a subversion. They certainly look the part, Lexaeus being a muscular giant, and Zexion a tiny (by comparison at least) Pretty Boy, but Lexaeus is actually pretty brainy, and Zexion not exactly lacking in brawn.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: Skabb is too dumb to even speak, but is an extremely powerful fighter. His parrots Scratch and Sniff are quite intelligent (well, mostly Scratch, but Sniff is still much smarter than Skabb) but too small and weak to be physically threatening.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In many games, Link, a Master Swordsman, is helped by Wise Princess Zelda.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Bokoblins and Moblins have a species-wide relationship of this sort. Neither is portrayed as especially bright — they're at a Stone Age level at best — but Bokoblins are portrayed as more technically skilled than Moblins; they're the only ones of the two to make ranged weaponry (Moblin will use other races' bows, but on their own only make crude clubs and spears) and to tame and ride horses. Additionally, while both purely Bokoblin and Bokoblin-Moblin groups can be found inhabiting structured camps and forts, Moblins found by themselves simply live in the wilderness without even the simplest shelter, implying that only Bokoblins know how to build and maintain even crude buildings and structures. Moblins, however, are a lot bigger and a lot stronger than Bokoblins, and serve as the main combat muscle and damage sponges in mixed bands.
  • Your starting squadmates in all three original Mass Effect games fit this trope to balance out the player character: the introverted Kaidan, who mixes tech skills with his biotics, and the gung-ho, slightly racist Action Girl Ashley in Mass Effect; the ruthlessly calculating Miranda bioengineered to be a genius and the straightforward biotic-for-hire Jacob in Mass Effect 2; and the archaeologist-turned-information broker Liara and the Alliance grunt James in Mass Effect 3.
  • Max and Da Silva in Max Payne 3. Without Da Silva, Max would have long lost the trail, making his gunfighting skills little use, and as Da Silva notes, without Max to act as an iron fist, he would at best be ineffectual and at worst made an example of.
  • Medievil 2: Lord Palethorn has a pair of of Co-Dragons, Dogman and Mander. Dogman, the brawn, is a working class thug who talks in Hulk Speak, while Mander, the brains, is a smarmy aristocrat who went to some of the best schools in England.
  • Metal Gear has Solid Snake, the Badass Shell-Shocked Veteran serve as brawn for his Hacker/Engineer friend Hal Emmerich.
    • As for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PSP, usually the combat-team are considered The Big Guys, who leave Mother Base to complete various fighting/sneaking missions. Meanwhile, the R&D team, Intel team, Mess-Hall team, and First-Aid team are usually considered TheSmartGuys, in that they stay behind at Mother Base to provide food, medicine, equipment, and information for the combat-team.
  • Metroid: While not necessarily shown in game, Kraid and Ridley are a Co-Dragons version of this to Mother Brain.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Abra line are Psychic-type Squishy Wizards who use telekinesis more than their actual muscles, while the Machop line are muscular, Magically Inept Fighting-types. They're similar in many ways; they both have three stages, reach their final evolution when traded, and are more likely to be male.
    • This is the exact name of a trainer duo, consisting of a Black Belt and a Psychic. Such a duo also appeared in the anime in a double battle against Ash and Paul.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduces the duo Tatsugiri and Dondozo. Tatsugiri is described as being highly intelligent but physically weak, while Dondozo is very large (one of the largest Pokémon, in fact) and powerful but lacks in brains. Tatsugiri lives in Dondozo's mouth and issues orders to it, while also helping Dondozo to catch food which the latter otherwise does poorly at despite being a glutton. This even extends in battle, as if the two are sent out together in a Double Battle, Tatsugiri can use its ability Commander to hide inside of Dondozo's mouth, protecting itself from damage while allowing Dondozo's signature move Order Up access to an additional buffing affect based on the variation of Tatsugiri that entered its mouth. The two Pokémon together act as the False Dragon Titan at Casseroya Lake, albeit not as a Double Battle.
  • Ratchet & Clank, with Ratchet carrying the BFG and Clank usually figuring out the bigger threat they face.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • The Consular and Qyzen Fess in most cases. Consulars, in-lore, are diplomats and strategists who rely heavily on Force abilities to defend themselves and their charges if diplomacy fails. Qyzen is a Trandoshan big gamer hunter and ex-Bounty Hunter on a spiritual quest and was originally specced as the Consular's tank.
    • The Sith Inquisitor and Khem Val are the Consular and Qyzen's Shadow Archetype. The Inquisitor is an ex-slave who was shipped off to Korriban as glorified target practice once their Force Sensitivity was discovered, and therefore Had to Be Sharp to just survive. Khem isn't stupid, but he has been stuck in stasis for the last few centuries and is behind the curve on current events as a result. Played very straight if the Consular or Inquisitor are heal spec, but Subverted if playing an Shadow or Assassin tank spec.
    • A Bounty Hunter, particularly of the Powertech tank class and Mako. Mako is a small woman who worked as Mission Control and an information broker for her adoptive father Braden (the Hunter's mentor), and was specced as the healer companion.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Invoked in the manual for Mario Party, which describes Luigi as the brains, and Mario as the brawn.
    • In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the two-character-kart system uses this dynamic. The driver is the Brains, being the one who navigates the kart, while the rider is the Brawn, being the one who throws the items.
    • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: Two examples, both cases of a Dual Boss:
      • The first one is Queen Valentina (brains, seeing as she's the Evil Genius attempting to usurp the throne of Nimbus Land) and Dodo (brawn, as he's her Dumb Muscle bodyguard). This is also true as far as gameplay is concerned; during the Boss Battle, Valentina has powerful magical attacks, but is rather weak physically, while Dodo (brawn) has powerful physical attacks.
      • Cloaker and Domino is the second pair. Domino (brains) has powerful magical attacks, but cannot use or withstand physical attacks, while Cloaker (brawn) has powerful physical attacks, but cannot use or withstand magical attacks.
    • Wario and Waluigi. The latter is the brains while the former is the brawn.
    • Bowser and his son Bowser Jr. counts when it comes to fighting. Bowser tend to rely on his natural strength and abilities (brawn), while the physically weaker Jr. mainly uses vehicles and gadgets (brains). This is especially notable in games such as Super Mario Sunshine and New Super Mario Bros. U, where the two fights together, as well as the Super Smash Bros. games, where Bowser never uses any kind of gadgets or weapons note  while Jr. fights entirely from inside his Clown Car with only two physical attacks. Otherwise, things aren’t played as straight; Bowser is generally the one who makes the schemes and leads the troops, while Jr. is a leader-in-training who follows his dad most of the time.
  • Team Fortress 2 features The Heavy and The Medic, who are paired in almost every possible way in almost every medium. A Heavy is a powerful short-range combatant benefits from a Medic's healing and Ubercharges more than other classes that would run out of ammo or end up out range even with the enhanced survivability.
    • Likewise, The Pyro and The Engineer are often seen close together, in this case it's the Pyro acting as a bodyguard for the Engineer and his buildings with his ability to deflect projectiles and root out spies.
  • Tomb Raider Chronicles: Larson is the brawn to Pierre's brains. Whilst the latter forms plans and makes strategies, it's obvious that Larson is there simply to rough Lara up.
  • Total War: Pharaoh: The wife-husband pair Tausret and Seti are portrayed like this. Tausret is a strategic genius, and her mechanics are particularly focused on using political and economic maneuvering to turn her enemies' schemes against themselves and make her faction into Egypt's dominant economic power. Seti is impatient, ferocious, and aggressive, and has little interest in diplomacy when he can simply crush his foes on the battlefield.
  • The Twins (2020): Bob is the brawn, being the larger one who can turn large cogs with his bare hands and being Dumb Muscle that can be tricked into drinking coffee laced with rat poison, while Buck is the brains, speaking in a less moronic voice and likely being the one who did most of the work reconfiguring an abandoned prison into their hideout.
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has the brawn/brain team of Nathan Drake and Victor "Goddamn/Sully" Sullivan, if only because Sully acts as a father-figure to Nathan Drake, always providing words of wisdom to help Drake survive each adventure, while Drake protects Sully with his muscles and guns.
  • Any matchup between the game's resident memes, Rhino and Loki in Warframe tends to become this, since Rhino is a direct-damage strict offense frame while Loki is a pure utility support frame. Their abilities can combine to utterly devastating effect. It can also apply in match-ups between Rhino and other Support Frames, or Loki and other Combat Frames, but they do it best.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: This is how Junko describes her relationship with her twin sister Mukuro. Junko, as the Ultimate Analyst and the one to orchestrate the Tragedy, is the Brains, and Mukuro, the Ultimate Soldier who's an Extreme Doormat to Junko and acts as her muscle, is the Brawn.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, protagonist Akira is remarkably strong and can throw a mean punch, but he's not too bright. His companion characters make up for it, with Seiji being generally intelligent, Ban having good journalism skills, and Kaoru and Rosé having knowledge of the supernatural spirits that they're investigating.

    Web Animation 
  • Two pairs of Koopalings from Bowser's Koopalings have this dynamic.
    • Iggy is the brains, being a Mad Scientist with an IQ of 180, while Roy is the brawn, being very strong despite being a Fat Comic Relief, and isn't known for being the sharpest tool in the shed.
    • To a lesser extent, Ludwig and Morton have this dynamic. Ludwig is well-read and the Only Sane Man compared to most of his siblings, while Morton is the Dumb Muscle, with his only spoken word being "brick" for the first few years of his life.
  • RWBY:
    • When the students first arrive at Beacon Academy, there are rumours they'll have to form teams, but they don't know much else. Weiss attempts to form a team with Pyrrha, who is open to the idea. Weiss' intention is to be the smartest girl in class and she knows that Pyrrha will be the strongest girl in class. She therefore believes that their "brains and brawn" combination will ensure they receive perfect grades. Her plan is scuppered by the process the headmaster actually uses to create the teams; as a result, Weiss ends up paired with Ruby on Team RWBY while Pyrrha ends up paired with Jaune on Team JNPR.
    • For her plan to destroy the Kingdom of Atlas, Salem pairs together Dr. Watts and Tyrian Callows. Watts works through technology and hacking while Tyrian targets those they need murdered. Together, they sow chaos throughout the kingdom, turning the wealthy Atlas and impoverished Mantle against each other.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • "Masky and Hoody" take on an antagonistic role during Marble Hornets. Hoody takes on the role of the brains, being the one to set up the totheark puzzles, whereas Masky is the one to take up the brawn role, often going out of his way to attack things. Troy Wagner has said in pannels that Masky is basically like 'I'm gonna tackle that with my face', able to get Alex onto the ground, even with a bad leg. It should be noted that he often does this without thinking, leading to his right leg being broken and his identity being revealed.
  • The title characters of The Monster Hunters are Lorrimer Chesterfield, genius professor of occult studies, and Roy Steel, who punches stuff.
  • Minerelle and Joey try to be this during a Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons Paragon Tier session, conducting a hilariously terrible investigation of the town they're in while trying to sniff out a shape shifter. They aren't very good at it, due to a combination of some terrible dice rolls and neither of them being particularly smart.
  • Stampy's Lovely World: Veeva Dash is the brains to Hit the Target's brawn. Most of Hit the Target's tactics rely on brute force, while Veeva Dash is a skilled machinist and potion maker. After the two joined forces, the plans to take over the world noticeably became more technologically advanced.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Scratch and Grounder are a downplayed example. Scratch is marginally more intelligent than Grounder (not that that's saying much), while Grounder has an assortment of weapons at his disposal. The downplayed part is that neither Scratch's slightly higher intelligence or Grounder's weapons help them much.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Teaming up Doc and Goose usually results in this. Goose is the heavy hitter on the team while Doc is The Smart Guy.
  • Big Shorty and Short Biggie, antagonists from Bozo: The World's Most Famous Clown follows the smart short guy (Short Biggie)/dumb big guy (Big Shorty) routine. It doesn't guarantee their plans will succeed.
  • Fangbone! has the title character and his Bash Brother Bill. Fangbone is a Book Dumb Barbarian Hero trained in swordplay and strong enough to smash rocks with his head, while Bill is a Badass Normal kid who uses his observation skills and quick wit to formulate plans on the fly. Together, they combine their strengths to defeat all the monsters that Venomous Drool sends their way.
    Fangbone: Every barbarian has his role, Bill. You are the brain-sword of this brotherhood, and I am the sword-sword.
  • Zig-Zagged in Gargoyles by the husband and wife villain team Xanatos and Fox. They're both equally brilliant and martial arts experts, but Xanatos is more intellect-oriented, and generally prefers to manipulate events from behind the scenes and work through intermediaries, although he can handle himself in a fight even without his Power Armour. Whereas Fox is a former mercenary, and is much more directly combat oriented, and tends to use her physical skills to achieve her goals, although she's been shown to be able to match and even beat her husband in cerebral scheming.
  • Glitch Techs: Five is The Brains in his and Miko's duo team, being a more puzzle-oriented gamer means he usually comes up with the plans and strategies to fight glitches. While Miko is The Brawn in and Five duo team, her first, second, and third option in most situations is to hit things or blast them.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Dipper and Mabel. She is a Cute Bruiser who cheerfully walks around with axes, grappling hooks and random blunt objects, while her brother is physically wimpy but usually the one who does the planning or utilizes the various supernatural objects they come across to their advantage. Eventually deconstructed as we see that both of them have become pretty fixated on their respective roles to the detriment of their individuality: Mabel is still very imaginative and by no means stupid, and Dipper once took down a Humongous Mecha unarmed while deprived of his usual source of arcane knowledge.
      Dipper: I mean, I'm supposed to be the smart guy! If I'm not the smart guy, then who am I?
    • Their great-uncles also used to fall into this dynamic, complete with the aforementioned caveat, with Ford having genius-level intelligence and Stan having been the mentally and physically tougher one when they were children. (As adults, they proved roughly on par in a physical brawl). By the time they were teenagers, however, years of being treated like a failure by teachers and their abusive father led the latter to develop a major inferiority complex toward his brother. When Ford considered going to a prestigeous college on his own, Stan doubted whether he could make it out in the world without his brother, and a few rash decisions later, their once close relationship was shattered for over 30 years. However, now in their 60, it has become more balanced. Grunkle Ford endured and survived in a hostile nightmarish dimension for several years and has become more physically impressive. Grunkle Stan also taught himself enough science to rebuild, operate and restore the Portal. Furthermore, Grunkle Stan is also Street Smart; hence why he has been a successful businessman and being able to con anyone, including Bill Cipher.
  • Kin and Kon Kujira from Grojband. Kin is The Smart Guy of the eponymous garage band and a Gadgeteer Genius, while Kon is a Fat Idiot who acts as the muscle for the band's Zany Schemes
  • Dr. Drakken and Shego from Kim Possible: He invents plans to Take Over the World, she beats up people in their way. An unusual case in that Shego is far more intelligent than Drakken at everything except inventing bizarre gadgets — she simply prefers to let somebody else do the planning while she does the fighting. She does take over the world on her own in A Sitch in Time.
  • Looney Tunes: While neither one of them is exactly smart, the gangster duo of Rocky and Mugsy are clearly an example of this trope, with short Rocky as the brains and Big Guy Mugsy as the brawn.
  • Rath and Armon of Mummies Alive!. The former is the smartest of the titular mummies and extremely adept at different kinds of magic, though he can be arrogant at times. The latter is the biggest and strongest of the four, is a master of hand-to-hand combat and loves to eat.
  • Peridot and Jasper from Steven Universe: Peridot's the robotic technician who operates the ship and keeps tabs on the Kindergarten, while Jasper is the big, muscular warrior/guard who keeps the prisoner Gems in line. Notably, though, Jasper displays both brains and brawn, directing Peridot both in combat and out to efficient results. Aquamarine and Topaz in Season 4 also qualify.
  • T-Bone and Razor in SWAT Kats are something of a subversion: Razor invents all the gadgets and weapons, but he's a martial arts expert and arguably the better fighter of the pair, while T-Bone is a Boisterous Bruiser who's also an excellent mechanic and genius pilot.
  • Spoofed on TaleSpin. While concocting a plan with his barfly buddies Baloo assures them that they can't fail, "With my brains, and your...whatever."
  • Octus/Newton and Lance, respectively, in Sym-Bionic Titan.
  • Total Drama:
    • Noah and Owen in World Tour and Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race. Noah is Brilliant, but Lazy and loaded with snarky wit, while Owen is a big fat goofball who can demonstrate a surprising amount of Stout Strength.
    • Cameron and Lightning in Revenge of the Island are frequently paired with this dynamic. Cameron is an Impossible Genius with a knack for making gadgets but is quite small and weak, Lightning is a jock and The Ace when it comes to all forms of physical challenges but also shows himself to be Dumb Muscle. Both end up in the finale titled "Brain vs. Brawn: The Ultimate Showdown" where Cameron's technological smarts are pitted against Lightning's brute strength in a gladiator style match.
  • Robin and Superboy are often teamed up this way in Young Justice, though Robin is still good in a fight and Superboy is still plenty intelligent. The best example would be their take down of Batman and Superman in the finale, where Superboy throws Robin hard enough that he knocks Batman into a wall and stuns him, then pulls out the Kryptonite to stun Superman while Superboy has him in a hold.
    Robin: We're not gonna beat 'em one-on-one!
    Superboy: Plan B, then!
  • Flug and Demencia from Villainous respectively. Demencia even says in the Crossover with Victor and Valentino that Flug's the one who actually makes their plans, and she just runs into things without thinking too far ahead.