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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, 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 such a pair like this, The Smart Guy would usually communicate vital information to The Big Guy, so that The Big Guy would utilize this information to his advantage. Other times, The Smart Guy would provide 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 could gain more information and resources from The Smart Guy.


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, and Strong Girl, Smart Guy, for when the Brawn is a girl and the Brains is a guy.

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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Heroic examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 form too) is stronger, while Edward is shown to be more intelligent and perceptive. In actuality 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.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • The partners Smart Girl Teana and Cute Bruiser Subaru.
    • The summoner Corona uses her intelligence and controls her strong Golem, Goliath.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku and Bulma were essentially this early on in Dragon Ball, before it became less about adventure and more about martial arts.
    • Comes up later during the Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z with Babidi as the brains and Buu as the brawn.
  • Code Geass:
    • Suzaku, who pilots the Lancelot, and Lloyd Asplund who maintains it.
    • Kallen and Rakshawta have a similar relationship concerning the Guren II.
    • And much later on, Lelouch and Suzaku team up when the former takes over as The Emperor.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Brave10, Seikai and Benmaru form a Badass and Child Duo, where Seikai plays the dumb muscle to Benmaru's strategist
  • Red and Blue/Green from Pokémon Origins. Red's main goal in the OVA is to fill the Pokedex, with becoming Champion just being a bonus. Blue/Green's main goal is to battle his way to the top, with filling the Pokedex as an afterthought.

    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.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Canary (brawns) and Oracle (brains) in Birds of Prey (the comic book version).
  • Jimmy Tornado: Jimmy is the muscle of the main duo, clobbering baddies with his gorilla strength, while Lupé, as a scientist, is the brains.
  • From Jack Kirby's New Gods: The Happily Married couple, escape artist Scott "Mister Miracle" Free and the massive Big Barda. Also serves as an example of Tiny Guy, Huge Girl.
  • The central characters of Marvel Comics' The Incredible Hercules are the titular legendary Greek hero, 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.
  • Asterix is the Brains and his buddy Obelix is the Brawn.
  • Luke Cage and Iron Fist are best friends and frequent partners. Fist is the brains, and Cage is the brawn.
  • 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 their more enduring couples is 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.
  • Dwight McCarthy from Sin City 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 that handed him a painful asskicking.
  • Though they're not really a team as such, Dilton Doiley and Moose Mason from Archie Comics get on better than most peripheral characters when they do meet — possibly because Dilton has little real interest in girls (beyond anatomy, and that's not a double entendre), so Moose doesn't have to beat him up for hitting on Midge.
  • Rick Jones and the Hulk. Bruce Banner himself, the human side of the Hulk, is usually this trope to himself: he's the Brains, while Hulk, in his many permutations, is usually the Brawn, though some Hulks (notably Joe Fixit, Merged/Professor Hulk, and the Green Scar) are pretty clever themselves.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Whenever Batman and Superman work together, they respectively serve as this to one another.
  • Like their fathers, Damian Wayne and 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.
  • When Supergirl teams up with her love interest Brainiac 5 or her best friend Batgirl she is the Brawn to Brainiac/Batgirl's Brains.
  • Xadhoom and Paperinik does this with a catch: Xadhoom is a Genius Bruiser, but her tendency to be The Berserker means he had to come up with a plan. Paperinik and One form a more traditional pair. 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.
  • In Magekiller, Tessa does the planning, while Marius does the fighting.
  • Wonder Woman
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Silver Age, before they both received extensive backstory overhauls, Giganta played the Brawn to Doctor Psycho's Brains.
    • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the film remake of 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mentioned, in name if not in spirit, in Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang and its sequels — each "brainship" is assigned a "brawn" who acts as companion, ambassador and muscle for the immobile cyborged pilot encased inside the ship. Averted because brawns are also required to be pretty damn smart in order to come close to the pilot's abilities. 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?".
  • 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.
  • Tragic example: George and Lennie from Of Mice & Men.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "Queen of the Black Coast," Belit and Conan the Barbarian. Well, an Anti-Hero pair.
    "Conan agreed. He generally agreed to her plans. Hers was the mind that directed their raids, his the arm that carried out her ideas."
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • The Steampunk novel series The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has the Meaningfully Named Books and Braun; Non-Action Guy Wellington Thornhill Books, Esq. and Action Girl Miss Eliza D. Braun.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rehaek and Torath in the Star Trek Novel Verse; the one-time head of the Tal Shiar and his bodyguard/lieutenant.
  • 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.
  • In The Goblin Emperor the emperor's nochecharei, or bodyguards, are traditionally teamed up like this. There are four of them, two mages and two fighters, and there's always one of each on duty.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • In Smallville, Chloe and Clark fill these roles.
  • 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.
  • Del (Brawn) and Rodney (Brains) in Only Fools and Horses.
  • Don (Brawn) and Charlie (Brains) in NUMB3RS.
  • Finch and Reese respectively in Person of Interest. Reese is more of a Genius Bruiser, however, especially compared with Finch's first partner, who was more brawn and a lot less brain than Reese.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dave Letterman's Late Show had "The Strong Guy, The Fat Guy and The Genius." Watch it here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Greenhouse Academy, the school's Houses tend towards academia (Ravens) and athletics (Eagles) respectively. Students from both Houses need to work together to uncover the villains' plot.
  • 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.

    Myths & Religion 

  • 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 
  • Warhammer 40,000 also have a pairing with Brains and Ox of the Last Chancers.
  • 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 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.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link, a Master Swordsman, is helped by Wise Princess Zelda. That is, when Link is not doing both.
  • Crash Bandicoot: Crash Bandicoot and Dr. Neo Cortex in Crash Twinsanity, 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!"
    • Crash more commonly 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.
  • Happens in Half-Life 2 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.
    • Inverted in the first Half-Life 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.
  • 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.
  • In Halo, the Master Chief, a Supersoldier equipped with Powered Armor, is often teamed up with Cortana, an Artificial Intelligence.
  • 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.
  • Your starting squadmates in all three original Mass Effect games: the introverted but open-minded biotic Kaidan and the gung-ho, slightly racist Action Girl Ashley in Mass Effect, the ruthlessly calculating Miranda 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.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Zaalbar is an adolescent Wookiee exile; two meters and change of brute strength and empty stomach. However, he's painfully shy and unable to speak Basic, so he's more than happy to leave that part to Mission Vao, a petite Twi'lek teenager who grew up on the streets and (while no stranger to defending herself) is better suited to thievery than fighting.
  • 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.
  • Invoked in the manual for the first Mario Party game, which describes Luigi as the brains, and Mario as the brawn.
  • Ratchet & Clank, with Ratchet carrying the BFG and Clank usually figuring out the bigger threat they face.
  • Sly Cooper: Bentley as the brains of the Cooper Gang, and Murray as the brawn.
  • 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.
  • A good karma Chosen One with a high Intelligence teaming up with Sulik in Fallout 2 would be an heroic example of this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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?
  • Star Fox respectively has Slippy Toad and Peppy Hare.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.)
  • The upcoming RPG Maker game The Brains and The Brawn literally 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...
  • This is the exact name of a Pokémon 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.
  • 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.
  • Street Fighter has Ibuki (brains) and Makoto (brawn). Their fightstyles reflect this also.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Freeze Flame: Iggy and Morton from Bowser's Koopalings.
    • Ludwig and Roy also follow this trope.
  • The title characters of The Monster Hunters are Lorrimer Chesterfield, genius professor of occult studies, and Roy Steel, who punches stuff.
  • Sian and Steven from the Chronicles of Syntax. Unusually for the trope, it's the guy that's the brains and the girl that's the brawn.

    Western Animation 
  • Beany and Cecil, since Cecil is a sea serpent.
  • Nathan and Mimsey from South Park.
  • Dr. Venture and Brock Samson from The Venture Bros.
  • 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.
  • Siblings Anne and Tom Chan in The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan.
  • 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."
  • Tex Avery's George and Junior.
  • Borth-Majar from Chaotic.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • A team-up of Brainy and Hefty, or Handy and Hefty, in The Smurfs.
  • 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
  • Noah and Owen in Total Drama 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.
  • On The Powerpuff Girls, Blossom is the brains while Buttercup is the brawn. This is lampshaded in the episode "Three Girls And A Monster," where the two bicker on which element would best a giant lizard monster. (Subversion: Neither do. Bubbles' sweet politeness bests the beast.)
  • 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 afore-mentioned 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 wether 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.
  • Octus/Newton and Lance, respectively, in Sym-Bionic Titan.
  • Fangbone! has Bill as the Brains and Fangbone as the Brawn, and they combine their strengths to defeat the monsters that 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.
  • Green Eggs and Ham: Guy's the mechanic and Sam seems to be the upfront socializer. Or as Sam states, "You're the brains. I'm the other brains."
  • 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.

    Real Life 
  • Usually, at an average house-hold, The Big Guy is usually the breadwinner, going out of the house to work to earn paychecks needed to purchase vital goods for the house. Meanwhile, The Smart Guy is usually the homemaker, staying at home to utilize the vital goods to take care of the house, so that The Big Guy could rest and recuperate from a long day at work or outside the house.
  • Real life militaries are essentially this. For every soldier and vehicle firing a weapon, for every ship that sails and airplane that flies, there is a team of engineers, clerks, suppliers, and other highly skilled specialists responsible for ensuring that everything is in working order. The amount of people and their level of organization in backing up those doing the actual fighting is staggering and that's not getting into strategic and tactical planning...

Villainous examples:

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Danganronpa 3 has the Despair Sisters: Junko Enoshima, the Ultimate Analyst, and her sister Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Soldier.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has the animalistic Gluttony and the manipulative Lust. Gluttony fills this role with the levelheaded Wrath and then the clever Pride after Lust's death.

    Comic Books 
  • Another Neil Gaiman example from The Sandman. Brute and Glob, two 'Major Arcana' (the most powerful and significant of dreams)that go rogue during his 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.
  • Tz'how and his wife Jessica in Bowling King. 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.
  • Early in Daredevil 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.
  • S.S.D.D:

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The George and Lenny gremlins from Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
  • 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.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Beckett and Mercer are the other end of the spectrum from Jack and Will.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Croup and Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
  • Tulip and Pin from the Discworld novel, The Truth.
    • 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..."

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Malcolm Tucker and Jamie, the Violent Glaswegian spin doctors from The Thick of It and In the Loop This is actually an extremely intelligent decesion by Malcolm, by having a strong ally that is less intelligent, he protects himself from his ally turning on him and doing any damage.
  • 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)

  • 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.

    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).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer gives us Vilitch the Curseling, a Chaos special character. Vilitch was born crippled in a tribe of Norsemen, while his brother Thomin was perfectly healthy. After a childhood of abuse and mistreatment, much of it at Thomin's hands and during which Vilitch was apprenticed to the village shaman, Tzeentch responded to his prayers of vengeance by fusing the brothers together, with Vilitch casting spells as his People Puppets brother dices up anyone who gets too close.
    • The setting also has Heinrich Kemmler and Krell, a frail and ancient (but extremely powerful) necromancer and 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 
  • Lash and Flak, two members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. They even get an attack power bonus if you use them together.
  • Zexion and Lexaeus of Kingdom Hearts are a subversion. They certainly look the part, Lexaeus being a muscular giant, and Zexion a tiny (by comparison at least) Bishōnen, but Lexaeus is actually pretty brainy, and Zexion not exactly lacking in brawn.
  • Two examples in Super Mario RPG, 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.
  • There's also Wario and Waluigi. The latter is the brains while the former is the brawn.
  • In Mortal Kombat X, there is the Huge Guy, Tiny Girl team of Ferra and Torr. Ferra is the Brains, Torr is the Brawn.
  • In Metroid while not necessarily shown in game, Kraid and Ridley are a Co-Dragons version of this to Mother Brain.
  • In 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, 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.
  • In The Twins, 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.

    Web Animation 
  • Freeze Flame: Iggy and Morton from Bowser's Koopalings.
    • Ludwig and Roy also follow this trope.
  • Among those serving the Big Bad in RWBY, Dr. Arthur Watts and Tyrian Callows work very well together under this dynamic. When sent on a mission to the Kingdom of Atlas and the impoverished Mantle, Watts uses his expertise with hacking and technology to cover Dance Battler Tyrian's tracks whenever he's on the hunt for someone to murder.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick has the bounty hunter duo of Gannji and Enor. Enor is a towering half-ogre, half-dragon who provides all the brawn they need, but he's also childish and naïve. He wouldn't ever get anything done if not for Gannji, a Street Smart and canny lizardfolk, to keep him on track.

    Web Original 
  • Waclaw and Bogdan from Water-Human, a pair of bandits.
  • 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.
  • While technically not villains, 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Rocky and Mugsy, from a series of Bugs Bunny shorts.
  • Flug and Demencia from Villainous. Demencia even says in the Crossover with Victor and Valentino that Flug's the one who actually makes plans, and she just runs into things without thinking too far ahead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Handicapped kids Nathan and Mimsey in the South Park episode "Crippled Summer".
  • Ratty and Mole from Mr. Bogus.
  • Kim and Konnie from Grojband.
  • 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.

Waldorf: I've always admired the classic struggle of brain vs brawn.
Statler: What's that got to do with this?
Waldorf: Whoever made this page obviously had neither!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!


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