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Bruiser with a Soft Center

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HULK CUDDLE! (gently)

"My beloved monster is tough
If she wants she will destroy you
But if you lay her down for a kiss
Her little heart it could explode."
Eels, "My Beloved Monster"

The big, burly, super macho guy who is nothing but a stack of muscles is pretty much a brick, right? Not so much. True love or a sweet, touching moment reveals what a big softy he really is under all that hard muscle. Hands that can smash through walls effortlessly now rise to hide the Tender Tears, or remain stoically at his sides as he weeps Manly Tears.

Thugs will limp away nursing cuts and bruises from his mighty fists. Children and small cuddly animals will simply treat his great ham hands like cozy furniture to snuggle up in. Enemies will flee from his mighty roar or battle cry. But he will sit still and quiet if a kitten curls up on his chest purring, and he'll let her stay as long as she pleases.

Some of the bruisers have no embarrassment at having a soft center, but others will instantly try to cover it up; or matter-of-factly inform their companions that "if you tell anyone this happened, I'll deny it"; still others will ensure the silence of those who witnessed their soft heart showing with threats.

While this trope tends to trend mostly male, females are not exempt from being bruisers with soft centers.

This trope also tends to trend mostly heroic, but the occasional villain will also prove he's not made of stone by showing his soft side amongst a trusted few or in private.

This is a trope with a lot of neighbours: Compare with Gentle Giant, Boisterous Bruiser, Genius Bruiser, Real Men Wear Pink, Morality Pet, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, The Soft-Hearted Warrior, and Tsundere. Even a Papa Wolf can turn soft when he's around his children. Super-Trope of Emotional Bruiser. Contrast both Devil in Plain Sight and Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Reiner Braun from Attack on Titan. He's Hot-Blooded, built like a linebacker, ranked 2nd in his class, and is considered one of the biggest badasses around. He's also the Team Dad, looked up to by everyone as their surrogate big brother. Being The Mole, this ends up biting him in the ass.
  • Kai Hiwatari from Bakuten Shoot Beyblade is physically intimidating and one of the most powerful bladers in the world. He also feeds stray cats and has a strong protective streak towards his friends, Max in particular.
  • Berserk, invoked with Guts though you'd have to try extra hard to find his soft side. Still it is amazing to see character go from this to this in a short period of time, it helps that Guts is around his loved ones in the second picture and therefore softer.
    • Pippin looks like a brute but is gentle as angel and is very protective over the younger members of the Band Of Hawk.
    • Skull Knight is the most evil looking character on the side of good in the series but still saved a prostitute from falling to her death simply because he is benevolent.
  • Between Heaven And Hell: Narumi is a voluptuous Badass bordering on Charles Atlas Superpower in how she pulled a Flash Step from one end of the room to another than chained a series of wrestling moves on the protagonist all the way into her room where she seemed primed to kill him for doing her mom and trying to do her 14-year-old that's he's supposed to just tutor. One blind grab of her big tits later and her Deredere side comes out as just being lonely/jealous at being overlooked. She has sex with the protagonist and she's ironically a total pushover in the sack he compares to Jekyll & Hyde.
  • Bleach: Chad is so tough, he was Made of Iron long before his powers manifested into Super-Strength. As a young child, he used to be a bully, until his grandfather corrected his behaviour into someone who uses their great strength to protect. Now he has no trouble admitting he's a tough, physical fighter who won't hurt a fly, and he's not afraid to cuddle soft toys in public... much to Kon's chagrin.
  • Cells at Work and Friends! places this trope at the heart of the manga's story, as this Killer T struggles to balance his softness and desire for companionship with his spartan reputation, toughness and sense of duty.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Android 16 is one of the bigger character in the series, is nearly emotionless, lives to kill Goku, and is the strongest of all the androids outside of Cell. One of the first signs that 16 is more than just a killing machine, he loves to play with animals. He goes against Cell because he is an enemy to all living things.
      • Android 17 and 18 follow his lead when comes to protecting and cherishing life.
    • Piccolo takes longer for this to happen being the reincarnation of his mass murdering evil father but is nevertheless a Nice Guy after bonding with Gohan to point of shedding some Tender Tears. It's still heart warming that Piccolo can brutalize his foes on numerous occasions but then play babysitter with no trouble.
      • The anime actually set this up early with Piccolo as he saved a mother and daughter from debris during a storm in his first appearance even though he was planing to kill Goku and Take Over the World.
    • Vegeta takes even longer than Piccolo but towards the end of Z and during Super and GT he shows unconditional care for his wife, son and daughter. In Wrath of the Dragon Vegeta even protects innocent bystanders from Hirudegarn, a far cry from a man who murdered a village, beat up a child and blew a truck driver in the previous two sagas.
    • Goku to an extent. Goku has the physical body of a Greek god and is one of the strongest characters in the universe. He also one of the softest with his love of animals and life in general. This trait also carried over to his sons once they’ve become teenagers.
    • Future Trunks. He comes from a Bad Future and is the most merciless of the main characters who aren't anti-heroes. He also has a soft spot for animals and is often seen playing with squirrels when relaxing.
  • Dr. STONE: Niki Hanada is a tall, brawny former Judo-ka who describes herself as "tough as leather", but loved Lillian Weinberg's pop music and has very cute and girly handwriting.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star is not afraid to hug children and shed Manly Tears (or even Tender Tears) from time to time.
    • This actually becomes a plot point near the end of the main story, as Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique, Musou Tensei, can only be used by those who know sadness, which in the story is tied to love.
      • Raou attempted to take a shortcut on that — thus letting him stay a "Bruiser with a Hard Center" — by killing the woman that Kenshirou loved, intending for the act to impart knowledge of sadness and love onto him. Thank gosh he was interrupted by her coughing.
      • Finding out that Yuria is dying BECAME the shortcut.
    • Though not explicitly stated, this was pretty much why Yuria loved Kenshirou over Shin and Raou in the first place.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
  • Major Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell is one of the toughest agents in State Sec Public Security Section 9, but also a bit of a broken bird emotionally. She was fully cyberized when she was a little girl and has nightmares of her difficult adjustment to her first android body. Whenever she sees and/or hears of children and their families facing the prospect of an android body, she looks as if she'd cry if her own body could.
  • Moss from Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. Despite being the heaviest and most powerful dog in his pack, he's a Gentle Giant when it came to puppies.
  • The Joestars of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are a family of bruisers to varying degrees. Jonathan Joestar, the first JoJo in the series, is the best example of a powerful built man being a true gentleman. His compassion and heroism would be passed down to his descendants long after his death.
    • Jonathan's descendant, Jotaro may surpass his ancestor as a bruiser, since he's no gentleman, and he's not kind his opponents in the slightest, as they get a nasty beating from his Stand, Star Platinum. All the same, he's got a Hidden Heart of Gold, who cares quite a bit about his family and friends. Just ask Dio what happens when you piss him off by killing his grandfather Joseph, and best friend Kakyoin.
  • In Jujutsu Kaisen, despite his aggressiveness, Toudou is a huge fan of an idol named Takada-chan, and at one point has a handshake with her during the Individual Handshake Event. Also, when someone get on his good side, Toudou will help his friends in need.
  • Sekibayashi Jun from Kengan Ashura is a professional wrestler known for his Large Ham personality who also fights underground for the Kengan Association. Outside the ring, he's jovial and friendly guy who enjoys cooking and treating his friends with their favourite food. Wakatsuki compares him to a grandma because of this.
  • Apachai Hopachai from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is the embodiment of this trope. A hulking man who is psychologically incapable of ever holding back his incredible strength in a fight... but is also one of the kindest people you'd ever meet, and spends his free time either playing with children in the park or feeding birds. He is very popular with both.
  • Sentaro of Kids on the Slope. At first he may come off as a delinquent that likes to beat up bullies. It's so that he can protect those dear to him.
  • Kill la Kill: A badass who defines herself by her quest to avenge her father's death, Ryuko also has a soft side. This is seen when she gets the hang of using Senketsu and is able to take out scores of Two-Star club leaders in a quick montage, before enjoying her lunch with her best friend, Mako. In a touching scene between the two, Ryuko allows her BFF to feed her a croquette while happily chatting with her.
  • Trowa Barton from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a Genius Bruiser, excellent acrobat and master spy, as well as a thoughtful Sugar-and-Ice Personality and one lube away from being a couple with Quatre Raberba Winner.
  • One Piece:
    • Edward Newgate, aka Whitebeard is an absolutely enormous man of incredible power and impossible toughness. When he is stabbed by a turncoat subordinate, he looks for a moment like he's about to reach out with his massive hands and rip the man apart. Instead, he kneels down and gives a tender hug to the much smaller man, and forgives him for his foolishness.
    • Franky the Cyborg. At first, he seems a rough, tough, flashy, barely-clad punk, but then you learn his back story. Behind the brusque Made of Iron exterior is a man with quite a heart, and he can show this in rather unusual ways. Such as his old gang, the Franky Family. He took a bunch of backstreet punks, drifters, even a couple bottle fairies and gave them a purpose in life. In return, they genuinely love their "big bro" for seeing something in them no one could. He stole a bunch of money from the Straw Hats, then they learn it was to buy some rare but very tough wood to use to build a Cool Ship magnum opus, but after seeing the Straw Hats rescue Robin and after seeing their old ship carry herself beyond her limits to rescue them before finally giving out, he realizes there's a lot of heart in this crew, so he dedicates the ship to them, eventually joins them, and then builds a landing craft in the image of their old ship. He's also voluntarily built an elaborate memorial to Brook's old crew, the Rumbar Pirates, and fixed a derelict ship to give some newfound friends a way home.
    • Zoro, despite not having the large build, is tougher and more intimidating than Franky, but has a soft spot for children and animals, so he's a nice guy beneath his hard exterior.
    • Smoker is good early example as he looks like he'd kill a man without hesitation but when a little girl ran into him and got ice cream on his leg, he just bent down and gave her some money for a new one and apologizing that "his pants ate her ice cream". Worth noting Smoker comes from organisation where they give their people permission to kill civilians in the name of "Justice"... Token Good Teammate indeed.
    • Charotte Katakuri is the best example of this post time-skip as he's built like a god and will kill anyone he perceives as threat without a second thought. But on the other hand he is a loving big brother who protects his younger sisters Brulee and Galatte (who are grown women) like their toddlers reducing the latter to tears.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Dawn's Mamoswine in the "Diamond and Pearl" anime series is all about this once he reaches his final stage. He acts all gruff, ignores his trainer for a while, and becomes The Berserker when angered (or when Dawn denies him/is short on Poffins). Yet he's definitely caring and protective towards his trainer and friends (especially after mellowing out), becomes putty whenever food is in question, and steadily shows fascination with Contests. Yet true to being of the emotionally repressed variety, he tries (initially) to deny all this.
    • Latios of Pokémon Heroes is a Legendary Dragon who introduces himself by tackling Ash and Pikachu and shows no signs of backing down when they accidentally stumbled into the Secret Garden. After the others showed it's a misunderstanding and that they didn't mean to intrude, he gives Pikachu an affectionate lick and while playing with his beloved little sister Latias, allowed him to ride on his back and join in on the fun.
    • Pokémon Journeys: The Series has Ash's Dragonite, who is tough enough to go toe to toe with a Mega-Evolved Pokemon, but has a Cuddle Bug personality when not fighting.
  • Makoto Kino / Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon is a tall, brawny girl with almost inhuman physical strength, a reputation for brawling, and zero tolerance for those who pick on her loved ones. She is also very warm, accommodating, and encouraging towards people she likes, and the Senshi refer to her as their surrogate older sister, as do some kids she helps take care of at a daycare. Also, she's emotionally vulnerable due to her past romantic fallout, being a social outcast, and the death of her parents, and is a bit of an easy crier. Her dream is to get married to a man she can care for, and own a flower shop or a bakery.
  • Sha Gojyo from Saiyuki. Foul-mouthed, skirt-chasing, iron-pumping bundle of muscle and bravado who is an absolute pushover for lost kittens, frightened kids having been an abused child himself, and women with hard-luck stories. It's stated that women in tears remind him of his stepmother, but beyond that, he's just a kind-hearted guy. In a flashback story in Burial, he agrees to be held hostage in exchange for an old friend he knows perfectly well is just going to run out on him, because he has to give the guy a chance. After rescuing him, an amused Hakkai comments: "You make a terrible villain."
  • Uozumi Jun from Slam Dunk. He may be a hot-blooded trash talker on the court, but he breaks into tears when he realizes he can't play basketball with his team anymore.
  • In Trigun, Millie "Stungun" Thompson is a seven-foot-two woman who carries around a less-lethal BFG and can kick gunslingers up and down the street, but she's a teddybear. In her first appearance, she orders mille-feuille cake and tea, and one of the bar toughs says that "to do that gag right, you're supposed to order milk." Similarly, the manga-only Livio is pure muscle and is ruthless and brutal in battle, but after his Heel–Face Turn is shown to be very kind and gentle with kids.
  • Kuwabara from YuYu Hakusho is a delinquent willing to do anything for Eiikichi, his kitten.
  • Zombie Land Saga: When introduced, Saki Nikaido is aggressive, quick-to-provoke, and initially refuses to take part in idol activities. She starts to show softer traits as time goes on though; she likes entertaining kids, is a very loyal and caring teammate, and ends up becoming one of the most invested in the girls' idol performances, cute outfits and all.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: Moose, with Midge. In fact, just Moose in general. He's bad news for Riverdale's opponents on the football field, but he's pretty nice to his classmates...unless he thinks they're flirting with Midge.
  • Batman: Batman is stacked like a brick wall, almost always ready to kick villain ass, and many people see him as a cold mofo (even some of the heroes). And yet his primary concern is always the safety of the innocents, be they in Gotham City or wherever he sets foot. He even has his moments every once in a while.
  • Fantastic Four: The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing is very gentle and delicate with his love, Alicia. The Thing is also like this to practically every kid that thinks he's the coolest hero (especially kids who think he's cooler than the Human Torch). The Thing also has a special place in the Marvel superhero community as possibly the most widely befriended hero ever, much like Superman or Nightwing from DC.
  • Get Jiro!: While Jiro is perfectly fine with beheading people for having poor table manners, he is otherwise proven to be a very humble customer when it comes to other people's food regardless of the "quality" of the kitchen it was made in. He enjoys Jean Claude's authentic European cuisine in spite of how filthy the kitchen is and enjoys a street vendor's gyro at a bus stop.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk has been known to cuddle kittens and bunnies, and as seen in the page image, is also good with other animals and children, Depending on the Writer. Notably, one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plans to calm him down is putting him in the same room with a bunch of puppies. Even Hulk at his worst still has shades of this, as in World War Hulk he battles the Earth Mightiest Heroes in New York but was still holding back so civilians wouldn't get hurt.
  • Lobo: Lobo, Tha’ Main Man, is bigger, meaner, and more of a bastich than anybody. He also happens to love space dolphins.
  • Marvel gods Thor and Hercules can fall in here too. Thor has a huge soft spot for children; in one of his series, he goes to a favela in Rio to give the impoverished kids a hearty meal of space melons, elf chocolate and a haunch of roast dragon. As for Hercules, he deeply loves his cuddle toy Amadeus Cho, even tearfully admitting that he murdered his wife and children out of jealousy (not madness like the myths depict) in order to convince Amadeus to go down an ultimately self-destructive vendetta. Hercules also loves striking friendships with fellow immortals because it hurts him deeply to have to keep watching his mortal friends die off.
  • The Punisher: The Punisher is one of the most violent and downright ruthless individuals in the Marvel Universe to point where other heroes (e.g Captain America) openly hate his guts, but beneath his brutal nature is an emphatic man. This shown best when he protects children at all costs and his care for better heroes than himself, like Spider-Man for instance.
  • We have Marv, from Sin City, whose entire story gets kicked off when a hooker showed him some love and kindness and gets murdered, causing him to go on a quest of revenge. This man can snap you in half with his bare hands.
  • Teen Titans: Starfire is a hot-headed warrior princess who can brutally kick the ass of almost any evil doer, but she's as gentle as a lamb with her friends and innocents.
  • Superman: Superman. Possibly the most sensitive and emotive mainstream hero out there, despite being the definitive brick and one of Earth's most powerful defenders. This is often contrasted with the more Proud Warrior Race Guy personality of Wonder Woman, another Justice League member who is (Depending on the Writer) around as strong as he is - though she's often as caring as he is.
  • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman herself, in spite of being tall and a rival in strength to Superman, at least Depending on the Writer will fight only to defend justice and protect the innocent, and is an All-Loving Hero to the point she will tell many of her worst foes she loves them. Played the straightest in New 52 where she is first seen simultaneously swinging a sword around and bonding with a girl over ice cream, and in an even more heartwarming moment defends a little boy who looks up to her from his shallow friends.
  • X-Men:
    • Massive Colossus is a sensitive artist who loves his little sister.
    • Beast frequently quotes poetry and literature, and is a very kind and warm man.
    • Even Wolverine displays this trait at times, especially around his surrogate daughters Kitty Pryde and Jubilee.
    • Cable and Nate Grey both get this from their mother. The former is a burly, grizzled ex-soldier, but also a deeply philosophical and spiritual man who cares deeply for his family (particularly his little brother, Nate, and his daughter, Hope), and for humanity as a whole. The latter is a cosmically powerful psychic capable of breaking worlds, and initially distinctly grumpy and in chronic pain thanks to his fluctuating powers, but also caring, loyal, and determined to save the world no matter what it costs him, even trying to help his enemies. He's also consistently kind to children, even after he seems to have gone off the deep end in Uncanny X-Men (2018).
  • X-Factor: Strong Guy - in a session with Doc Samson he reveals that his wit and banter are how he copes with tremendous, constant pain, both emotional and physical.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Monster X, and most of those heroic Titans who are Protector-class (namely Godzilla and Thor), are ferocious beasts who'll fight tooth and claw to the death, yet they have soft sides for the humans they protect and/or for certain fellow Titans.
  • Absolution: Panacea initially finds Rachel's enlarged dogs terrifying, since they're thousands of pounds, covered in bony protrusions, and will kill on Rachel's command. But when she touches one and senses his brain activity, she's amazed by how excited and happy he is.
    Overflowing with excitement and gratified curiosity and ridiculous unmitigated joy, all in exchange for some lousy scratches. How had I never looked closely at a dog's brain before? He felt everything so simply, so strongly. It was incredible.
    "Who's a good mutant hell-beast?" I cooed, widening and sharpening my nails so I could dig through the thick muscle, his bone-encrusted tail chipping concrete as it thumped against the floor. "You are! Yes you are! Such a good boy!"
  • In Avenger of Steel, the Hulk is a perpetually rabid seven-foot-tall humanoid who enjoys smashing anything and anyone pissing him off. He's also fiercely protective towards Raven, whom he calls "Birdy Girl", outright softly asking if she's okay when the two fight the Beast of the Hand in the Mirror Dimension.
  • Black Crayons: Ironhide is the Trigger-Happy weapons specialist of the Autobots. One of the first things he does once arriving on Earth is half-jokingly asking if he can kill Sam Witwicky's parents because they are an annoyance. Throughout the series, it is shown just how deeply he cares about Annabelle Lennox and is just as much a member of her family as her mother and father are.
  • Child of the Storm has a few, notably canon examples Hulk and Thor - the former is the Strongest One There Is, yet is also compulsively protective of children, referring to Harry Potter/Thorson as 'Little God' and notably calming down when he's around. The latter can go toe to toe with the former and can destroy planets in the midst of Unstoppable Rage. He also enjoys snuggling with his brother and son.
    • Harry himself shoots up height wise, gaining a bit of muscle and by chapter 70, enough raw power to blow up a reasonably sized mountain. He, like his father, is a Cuddle Bug who likes nothing more than snuggling up to loved ones and is generally a sensitive and emotive person, taking care to be kind to those smaller and less advantaged than he is. Even after a Trauma Conga Line in the sequel, when his PTSD makes him a much less pleasant person to be around for a period (he gets better), he still takes care to be protective of those less advantaged than he is. He also adores Tony and Pepper's daughter, Ada, in the sequel (appropriate, since she's his goddaughter).
    • Carol Danvers is less obvious about it, being a Hot-Blooded fighter whose primary tactics in a fight are based around speed and raw aggression with a spiky and defensive personality. She also has a Cool Big Sis streak a mile-wide, usually demonstrated with smaller and younger girls (even though Diana could tear her in half), right down to protective cuddling. She's also deeply and extremely violently protective of her little brothers and, latterly, Peter Parker. She also tends towards affectionately snuggling Harry towards the end of the first book and during the second, and is as emotionally protective of him as she is physically of others.
  • Cross Ange: The Knight of Hilda: Rhino, the leader of the Wildpack, is a huge, muscular man who uses his Mana to reinforce his body to increase his physical strength and make himself Nigh-Invulnerable. During the attack on Arzenal he rescues a little girl named Cynthia from being gunned down by Misurugi soldiers, and becomes her pseudo-guardian in Ersha's absence, caring for her aboard the Aurora. In the epilogue, it's revealed he ended up marrying Ersha and they adopted Cynthia as their daughter.
  • The Desert Storm:
    • Ben Naasade a.k.a. Obi-Wan Kenobi (after a bout of involuntary time travel, several years after Revenge of the Sith) is one of the greatest combatants in the Jedi Order, and the galaxy as a whole. He's a near peerless Master Swordsman, an exceptionally powerful Jedi, and a dangerous hand to hand combatant. He terrifies and/or creeps out most of his fellow Jedi, even Mandalorians think he's crazy (albeit, eventually, crazy awesome), and those who actually know who he really is find him particularly unnerving. Obi-Wan is a sweet, principled, and maybe somewhat emotional kid who wears his heart on his sleeve. Ben Naasade is calm, elegant, charming, with an eerie understanding of the Force, the demeanour of a general, the grey morality of someone who survived a truly brutal war, a knack for passive and active manipulation that beggars belief, and truly epic PTSD, leading more than one person to wonder what the hell happened to him. He is also a Friend to All Children, spoils little Anakin horribly, is most content when playing with children in the Creche, and turns to goo the moment a baby smiles at him.
    • Obi-Wan himself becomes a near peerless Master Swordsman under Ben's tutelage right down to inventing his own lightsaber form, Form VIII, Daosaan a.k.a. 'the Dancing Form', designed primarily for fighting as a group, and an exceptional hand-to-hand combatant under the tutelage of both Ben and Jango Fett. He is also equally fond of children which is probably a good thing, since as of Mirage, he's a father by Satine - not that he initially knows it.
    • Jango Fett is a grumpy variant. He's Mand'alor, a truly terrifying combatant who killed six Jedi with his bare hands, and perhaps the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. He's also capable of beating the pants off of Obi-Wan, by that point a Knight-level Master Swordsman, in a spar with the Dark Saber, despite Obi-Wan's overpowered blade, Ben's rigorous training, and Jango's utter lack of Force-based advantages. He is capable of being an utter nightmare, as he is unhappily aware, and as his Roaring Rampage of Revenge demonstrates. He also cares far more than he wants to admit, something that Ben carefully teases out of him and Obi-Wan unwittingly outright drags out of him. It's noted on more than one occasion in later instalments that he basically just wants to adopt them straight out, and his reluctantly adopted daughter, Bo-Katan, grudgingly notes that Obi-Wan is essentially Jango's first child. Ben, who knows his past, serves as his Morality Chain, but Obi-Wan is his Morality Pet - as, latterly, is Satine.
  • How Bad Can A Little Gossip Be: Alberto is bold, hot-headed and never afraid to resort to physical violence when dealing with bullies and jerks (like Mr Ricci's son), but is also kind, friendly and loyal, especially towards his beloved ones.
  • Last Child of Krypton:
    • Shinji—who, in this story, is Superman—fits this: he can punch a hole through a mountain and has beaten thugs and giant aliens... and he is a nice, kind, caring boy who cares about everyone and is always willing to give a hug and a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech to whoever is crying or upset.
    • Asuka also fits this after her Character Development and her powers' awakening helps her to stop being frightened of displaying her softer, kinder side.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: Bane is an exaggeration of this trope: he is a seven feet tall Huntsman and built like a tank. He is also an excellent cook for his comrades and a florist.
  • Samus Aran should get ready for the next match, but she finds Pikachu to be such a cute distraction.
  • The Seventh Player: Machaira Mekhit, the titular seventh player, is this. She's a Religious Bruiser and a bit of a Blood Knight who worships Bast, a goddess of war (albeit a good-aligned one), but she's also one of the most compassionate, affectionate, and open-minded and gracious members of her adventuring party (the Bad Kids). She also doesn't have much of an issue exposing her softer side to others, although she usually only does so with people that have earned her trust.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Being Supergirl, Asuka is easily capable to bring down a skyscraper with her bare fists. Throughout her super-heroine career she also learns to let her nicer, warmer side out and be more compassionate and more caring. So, she may be beating a thug and the next minute helping a girl to find her kitten.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Yang is a shameless tomboy, but she ends up flustered when Jaune buys her flowers and holds her hand. Her uncle Qrow (who mistakenly believes that Jaune is her half-brother) tries to sabotage their relationship by telling Jaune to take her somewhere super fancy. Yang ends up enjoying being treated like a princess for once.

    Films — Animated 
  • Young MacGuffin from Brave is a gigantic bruiser who can break a hunk of wood with his bare hands and uses a bench as a weapon during a Ballroom Blitz. He's also a very sensitive guy who only wants to impress his dad and in the scene where it seems Elinor has lost her mind to the spell that turned her into a bear, he's visibly and earnestly weeping.
  • Luisa from Encanto has Super-Strength as her gift and uses it to move houses, bridges, and other heavy objects for the family and town. And yet she's easily one of the most supportive members of Mirabel's family (especially compared to her other big sister Isabella), and as "Surface Pressure" shows, has a lot of emotional baggage with regards to her role within the family.
  • Vlad the brawny vulture from Horton Hears a Who! (2008) is tough and evil, but apparently redeems himself on being touched by Horton's noble defense of the Whos and his forgiveness of the Sour Kangaroo.
  • The Incredibles: Bob/Mr. Incredible has Super-Strength and is a tough, experienced Super, as well as a dearly-loving family man. Potentially losing them is the only thing that really shakes the tough-as-nails hero. Luckily, it's combined with a strong moral code, which is literally the only reason Syndrome doesn't watch his Dragon get crushed into mulch in Mr. Incredible's arms when the latter thinks Syndrome just murdered his entire family.
  • Big blue scaremaster Sully of the Monsters, Inc. films is a huge monster whose work provides a substantial amount of the city's scream power. However, he has a friendly, supportive relationship with his coach Mike Wazowski and, while initially terrified of her, as per what he's been taught about human children, he develops a soft spot for Boo, a human toddler who accidentally wanders into the monster world.
  • Tangled: The customers at the Snuggly Duckling look like a tough, brutish crowd, but when Rapunzel talks about having a dream, they break into a musical number about their dreams, like being a concert pianist or a flower arranger. Vladimir, the biggest, most intimidating of the lot, collects tiny ceramic unicorn figurines.
  • Wreck-It Ralph, from the movie of the same name, is nine feet tall, weighs 643 pounds, has a bit of a temper, and demolishes a brick building with his fists for a living. He's also a kind and sensitive guy who just wants some positive attention from his co-workers instead of the usual fear and loathing. And he pretty much becomes a surrogate father to Vanellope, who just melts his heart.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dobermann, Pitbull is the gang's muscle: a hulking bruiser with a willingness to use violence at the drop of a hat. However, he is consistently shown as possessing a soft side; he dotes over his new puppy Godzilla. During the bank raid, he tells an old lady that she can remain standing if it is too difficult for her to lie on the floor. When she complains that she only came into the bank to withdraw 500 francs, he gives her 500 francs from his own wallet. And when Godzilla is accidentally shot by the police, he falls in a deep depression: vowing to make Godzilla the grandest grave any dog has ever had, and debone a cop.
  • Sonny from The Godfather, despite being known for his explosive temper, is a loving (if unfaithful) husband and father who cares about his family and friends deeply.
  • Godzilla. Big, powerful, city-destroying monster and a loving and very protective father. In fact, it's the death of his son that causes the normally tough-as-nails Godzilla to mourn in grief.
  • Hellboy: a massive red demon with a huge stone hand prophesied to bring Armageddon... a big softie who absolutely loves kittens and will fight monsters to protect them.
  • Daniel Craig's incarnation of James Bond. Cynical, ruthless, doesn't give a damn whether his martini's shaken or stirred (at first, anyway)...and he's also a clear-cut Broken Ace.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor is the most obvious example. While he doesn't necessarily show his soft side to everybody, those who know him well enough and/or for long enough understand his deep capacity for love and devotion. He can also be quite funny, especially in situations where he feels outside his comfort zone.
    • Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a. Black Widow) is an interesting spin, as her soft side comes less though overt sweetness and more though vulnerability. A spy, assassin, and something of an Ice Queen, she typically plays things very close to the vest, including her own history. While she is fully capable of compassion towards others, there are relatively few who she is willing to tell even parts of her story.
  • MonsterVerse: King Kong is a ferocious giant ape who doesn't take kindly to any humans who actively cross him, but he's genuinely protective of the humans he considers under his charge (the Iwi and later Jia) to an extent which is even more explicit than Godzilla's protectiveness of humanity.
  • Kikuchiyo from Seven Samurai is an eager and boisterous warrior and the most "macho" of the seven. He's always spoiling for a fight and proves his worth by having the highest kill-count. However, he cares deeply about the farmers and has burst into tears at least twice.
  • Star Wars:
    • Wookie arms are strong enough to pull your arm out of the socket...or give you the biggest hug you could ever have.
    • Before his fall to The Dark Side, Anakin Skywalker was a loving husband, and a natural with children. No wonder the kids in the Jedi Temple turned to him when everything started going awry...
  • Terminator: Dark Fate: Even without her cyborg enhancements that practically make her a Terminator with a human mind, Grace demonstrates quite the violent and antagonizing streak when she first lands in the present. Despite that, she's fiercely loyal to those who have earned her admiration.
  • TRON is a very sweet guy, despite being the biggest badass in Cyberspace. He is visibly shaken and upset when he thinks that Flynn and Ram were killed, and hangs his head sadly when informed He Didn't Make It. With an urgent call from Alan at stake, what does he do? He goes to find and free Yori (and if you factor in that Deleted Scene, have a "private" moment back at her home). In the sequel? Twenty years of brainwashing is overridden with The Power of Friendship. And his Kingdom Hearts version celebrated the team's victory with hugs all around.
  • X-Men Film Series: Wolverine is near-invincible in a fight and he can be very ill-mannered in social situations, but deep down, he's actually quite sweet and caring. Those who are lucky enough to see his softer side include Rogue, Jean Grey, Charles Xavier, X-23 and a grizzly bear. Although there's a part of Logan which will always be "wild," the Phoenix points out to him that Professor X has succeeded in "taming" him.

  • Black Hills Blood Hunt: Tiny is the burliest of the outlaws, but is also the least violent of the group. Between getting out of jail and returning to the outlaw lifestyle, he gets a job as a piano player, gives his piano a name, and is very protective of it. In his final scene, he also admits that he spent the book hoping to talk his partners out of killing their hostages like they planned.
  • Bruce from the CHERUB Series; although he seems to be a hardcore martial arts fan with a thing for blood and gore, he still goes to bed with his little blue teddy.
  • Skeeter Traps from Chronicles of Magic is a tough, bloodthirsty little girl with a disturbing love of guns. However, she is also the one who is most willing to sacrifice her life for complete strangers and even cries when she believes her new friend has been killed.
  • Codex Alera: Varg is considered big, tough and dangerous by his people (who are wolf-men and average eight feet tall) and is also a genius-level strategist, skilled ludus-player and student of military history. Varg is old, grizzled, covered in scars and once tore a political rival's throat out with his teeth. However, whenever his grandkids are around, his façade drops completely and he gladly becomes a combination of play-wrestling partner, storyteller and climbing apparatus.
  • In Daughter of Fortune Babalu the Bad is the enforcer for Joe Bonecrusher, the madam of a traveling brothel during the California Gold Rush. He is tough enough to frighten an outlaw who tries to benefit from the brothel's services with just a few words. He is a Big Eater and thinks "Chile Boy" (really, Eliza the protagonist, pulling a Sweet Polly Oliver) needs to toughen up. He even confides in Eliza that he used to be Babalu the Good, but now that he is known as Babalu the Bad, things go better for him. He also acts very protective toward Eliza and Tom, Joe's young ward.
  • Heiwajima Shizuo in Durarara!! is universally accepted as the strongest man in Ikebukuro, described at one point as "violence in human form," but he's actually a quiet sort who dislikes violence and hates his own hair-trigger temper, and doesn't want to hurt anyone (except for Izaya).
  • Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein is hinted to be this: at heart he's a lonely, sensitive man who yearns to live among other people. However, since everyone views him as a grotesque, hulking monster, everyone is scared of him and either runs away or attacks him on sight. When he hides in the shed of a family for several chapters and talks with their blind father, he explains that he feels love and compassion for them; too bad that when he reveals himself to the family, they immediately attack him and drive him away. Over the course of the book, he begins to hate all humans, but still ambivalently wishes to help them, such as when he saves a girl from drowning in a stream.
  • Great, lumbering Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter is more soft spot than bruiser unless his Berserk Button is pressed, in which case the ratio switches over. Unfortunately, he's enough of a bruiser and can effortlessly No-Sell so much that he has a hard time keeping track of the difference between "harmless to Hagrid" and "harmless to children", which causes certain hiccups in his teaching career.
  • The Hobbit: Beorn is a giant, terrifying were-bear and it is not a good idea to antagonize him. He also has a lot of animals from ponies to bees, all of which he cares very much for, to the point that you had damn well better make sure any animals he allows you to take for assistance get back to him unharmed.
  • InCryptid has "Uncle Al" who owns a pawn shop in Vegas. He's an enormous former wrestler who can give all encompassing hugs from "backbreaking" to "loving". He's a big softy where Verity is concerned, though.
  • Bagheera in The Jungle Book is feared more than Shere Khan in the jungle, but he loves Mowgli dearly, even more than Baloo does. (The Disney movies invert these roles.)
  • In the Land of Oz, no one fits this like Nick "the Tin Man" Chopper. He was cursed to become tin because he was determined to earn enough money to support his fiancee and get her away from the Wicked Witch. He rusted himself crying over crushing an innocent insect. Threaten harm to an innocent or to one of his True Companions and he becomes the scariest fighter in the land.
  • The titular protagonist of Lone Huntress takes this to an extreme. She's a few inches shy of seven feet tall, her cybernetic limb isn't that much stronger than the rest of her body, and she's highly competent at violence. She's also introverted, lonely, and absolutely TERRIFIED of being in large crowds.
  • Lenny from Of Mice and Men is an inversion. Mostly soft spot and a bruiser who doesn't know his own strength to the point he kills the animals he cherishes.
  • Prehistoria has Khan, an adult male Tarbosaurus, who initially looks the part of a Terrifying Tyrannosaur, but is revealed to be this. While a powerful apex predator and ferocious combatant, he's a caring father to his progeny and is nothing but gentle with his symbiotic partner in Ruby.
  • Project NRI has Scarlach "Carl" Platzchen, the muscular, 17-year-old, cookie-baking teenager.
    "Who..." The room was dead silent. He opened up his suitcase. Everybody dreaded what he was intending to pull out. He yanked the item out, and the crowd simultaneously winced at the action. It was... a bag of homemade cookies. "...wants cookies?"
  • Caldris in Red Seas Under Red Skies has been through several wars and will kill you for even mentioning Camorr. Just don't come between him and the kitten he keeps around "just for luck."
  • Slacker: Burly juvenile delinquent Xavier reforms throughout the first book as he engages in good deeds and discovers a passion for art projects and baking cookies.
  • Star Wars Legends contains the novel Shatterpoint, most of which is dedicated to showing just why Mace Windu is a Memetic Badass. He's also a Friend to All Children, and a genuinely good man.
    If it were up to [Mace], no one would hurt anyone. Anywhere. Ever.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime gives us Geld II. An Orc who is a textbook case of Stout Strength and is a Combat Pragmatist in battle, but when he's not fighting, he has skill at replanting and sprucing up some small flowers, or folding a piece of papaer to make an orc face, and around kids he is a Gentle Giant and Friend to All Children.
  • The Unknown Soldier: Sergeant Hietanen isn't just the local Sergeant Rock and Boisterous Bruiser.... he's also The Heart and the All-Loving Hero, in whose warmly beating heart is empathy for enemy soldiers and suffering war orphans alike, and in a world of All Men Are Perverts, he has genuine beautiful romantic love for women.

    Live-Action TV 
  • B.A.* Baracus, The Big Guy and resident Scary Black Man of The A-Team is also a Friend to All Children. Despite how visibly hostile he is to Murdock and Face, he's really Vitriolic Best Buds with both of them.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer immediately establishes himself as this. He comes crashing into town with a bad reputation and a badass flair, shows up at the lair of the Anointed One offering to kill the Slayer... then looks on with concern and goes to wait on his ill girlfriend when she tries to come in with him.
    • The eponymous Angel. Brooding, angsty vampire trying to fight the good fight, within LA and himself. No one would ever think that he dug Mandy and Barry Manilow, or had a fear of dancing (yet a secret desire to, despite how awful he is at it). He also goes on about how much he loves Buffy when pretending to be drunk. And to the absolute shame of his evil alter ego, he saved a puppy.
  • John Casey from Chuck. We've had flashbacks with some of his past.
  • D'Argo from Farscape. He generally has two moods, angry and weepy.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Blackfish Tully is one of the biggest hardasses in Westeros, but he's actually a really good guy who would never actually hurt his nephew.
    • Tormund Giantsbane is a dreaded wildling chieftain, but affectionate to those he is close to, such as Jon Snow.
  • Coach Beiste from Glee has the Face of a Thug who intimidates many students, but shocked many when they discovered she was a victim of Domestic Abuse and forces the football team to bond with the glee club to end bullying.
  • Eliot from Leverage is the Hitter (and The Atoner of his Dark and Troubled Past) who repeatedly tries to keep his teammates from crossing lines he has already crossed, but he is also shown to be a Friend to All Children. Eliot abandons a job in one episode to champion an abused child in a hospital, almost throwing the kid's father down several flights of stairs. He arranges for the team to donate tons of money to mistreated children, mentors an underage miner, and drops character in a con to help an Iranian girl find her family in an airport. He even turns out to have a knack for teaching kids, as shown in an episode where members of the team pose as private school instructors. When he receives a 911 call for a domestic disturbance while disguised as a Boston police officer, he insists on going to the scene on the chance that there are children present.
  • Merlin: He doesn't get a lot of fleshing out, but the hulking, muscular Sir Percival is quite a sweetie. This is epitomized when he risks his life to save three children.
  • Porthos from The Musketeers. He's a soldier and orphaned thief who loves brawling, fighting and whatever dangerous escapades he and the other musketeers get themselves into. He's also a total softie who grins joyously at weddings and baby news, bear hugs his friends and even tears up at Athos funeral, even though he knows the whole thing is just a stunt and Athos is perfectly fine.
    Porthos (sobbing) It's just the thought...
  • The Serpent Queen: For all his aggressive bluster and Jerkass tendencies, King Francis takes a genuine liking to Catherine and makes sure she's decently taken care of. He's also one of the few people who legitimately recognizes her potential as a political strategist, and on his deathbed he forces his son Henri to let her sit on his privy council.
  • Supernatural:
    • Dean Winchester. He may swear like a sailor, go hard on the liquor and sex, and be able to take on monsters and psychos with little problem, but he's got a soft spot for kids, his family, and Castiel.
    • His younger brother Sam might even be a better example, although less overtly macho. He's noticeably taller and just as muscled, and while he's skilled at physically taking down the supernatural creatures they hunt, his forte is researching what they're up against. Hurt his family (blood family or just treated as such) and if he can't do anything about it he just may have a breakdown. And if someone's hurting inside (not uncommon), he'll probably be the first one to see it and try to comfort them.
    • The character Tiny, a very large prisoner who is sensitive because of an abusive father, is seen in the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural.
  • Like his tin counterpart, Wyatt Cain from Tin Man crosses this with Heartbroken Badass. The man is a scary-good fighter both in hand to hand and with his pistol, but his cold facade breaks down in a hurry when asked to do the honorable thing, or when he senses someone needs protection. At the end, he is almost on the verge of tears warning DG that she will have to face her sister alone.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Seth from 9 Chickweed Lane is a ballet dancer who looks like a linebacker but is a low key gay man and a hopeless romantic who went to some effort to get Edda and Amos together.


    Professional Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Asura, the titular protagonist of Asura's Wrath, is a berserker demigod who’s literally powered by his own rage… and an awkward, off-balance Bumbling Dad around his wife and daughter. After the former is murdered and the latter kidnapped, he wages a one-man war against his erstwhile allies, Gaia's Vengeance, and ultimately God himself in order to get her back. Above and beyond the hellhole all three forces have made of the Earth, the thing he finds most unforgivable is the fact that they made his daughter cry.
  • Beyond Good & Evil: Mildly demented Double H comes across as strictly military most of the time, always quoting his training manual...right up to the point where he starts repurposing those trite quotes into ways of saying, "Dude, I'm here for you. No matter what."
  • BioWare has a long and lovely tradition of these guys. Just check out:
    • Dragon Age: Origins, Leliana often comments that Sten is a 'softy' as she finds him picking flowers (which he excuses as 'medicinal') and playing with a kitten (he claims he was training it), although this is never seen by the player. He also comments about how great cookies are.
    • Baldur's Gate brings us Minsc. BIG guy, scary in a battle situation...turns into absolute mush when it comes to his beloved hamster.
    • Knights of the Old Republic: Zaalbar: Two meters and change of walking fur and empty stomach that's a surprisingly sweet guy, and right behind his little Twi'lek buddy when it comes to sticking up for you after The Reveal.
    • Aveline takes this role in Dragon Age II. She's the toughest guard captain Kirkwall has ever seen, but has a tendency to melt when Donnic is in the same room.
    • And Cassandra takes this role in Dragon Age: Inquisition, an incredibly resilient warrior who kicks down brick walls in gameplay, can knock a qunari warrior on his ass, and comes from a long tradition of hunting dragons, is secretly a hopeless romantic.
    • Wrex in the Mass Effect series is mostly angry and bitingly sarcastic, but he does have the occasional emotional moment (the end of his personal quest in the first game and his reunion with Shepard in the second, especially). The latter moment is rather like The Eeyore going Squee. By 3, if you've done everything you can to work with him, he is incredibly happy to tell you that even if everything goes to hell and the genophage cure doesn't work, he considers you a blood-sibling and will make sure that every krogan for the rest of time knows your name.
    • Mass Effect 2: Jack. If she makes it to the third game, she starts teaching a squad of biotic students at Grissom Academy. Then Cerberus tries to kidnap them. Big mistake.
    • Grunt is mostly a Blood Knight who is built like a truck, but upon seeing his Parental Substitute Shepard when they reunite in 3, he shoulder-barges past his squad to give Shepard a bear-hug. If you sacrifice the Rachni Queen/Breeder, he will even send you a cheery but poorly spelt drunken email about how he's got his entire elite company of currently-inebriated krogan warriors chanting your name.
  • According to the character backgrounds Brick from Borderlands motivation is to find his missing sister. Also, despite the fact that he has a $9,999,999 bounty on his head for murder and dismemberment of anything that moves, he just adores puppies. Between the events of the first and second games, Hyperion forces capture him with the help of a traitor. According to the "Sheriff" who caught him, he broke down sobbing after she killed his puppy... before breaking loose and brutally murdering the traitor with his bare hands.
  • The barbarian Bran from A Dance with Rogues is described as being very muscular and strong, and having a bit of a wild appearance, due to his unkempt hair. He's also one of the friendliest companions, who will approve of helping people and, if romanced by the Princess, is shown to be very considerate and gentle.
  • The Doom Marine, a man who singlehandedly invaded and slaughtered Hell three times, likes to collect figurines and had a pet rabbit named Daisy. The forces of Hell definitely regretted being responsible for that "had" part. His reboot counterpart, the Doom Slayer from Doom (2016) may rip demons into viscera but he also collects cute figurines. With The Reveal in Doom Eternal that the Doom Slayer is the Doomguy, they play up his fondness for Daisy, with a trophy room in his Fortress of Doom containing his cute figurines, a framed portrait of himself holding a rabbit... and an empty rabbit cage.
  • Saint-14 from Destiny 2 is the strongest of all the Titans, making him a legend among his fellow Guardians and a bruiser among bruisers. He also has a soft spot for pigeons, even naming his jumpship the Grey Pigeon.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Sabin René Figar from Final Fantasy VI is built like a blonde brick house and pulls wrestling moves on trains, but outside combat he shows deep care and affection for other members of the party like Edgar (his brother), Cyan, Terra and Gau.
    • Barret Wallace from Final Fantasy VII looks and acts like a brutish thug for a lot of the game but this abruptly stops when in the vicinity of his adoptive daughter Marleen and he becomes a Gentle Giant. Barret also cares deeply for his True Companions Cloud and Tifa, though he wouldn't admit willingly.
    • Kimahri Ronso from Final Fantasy X plays this role; the tallest party member, who is usually cold and aloof - to the point that the main character thought he was mute until he spoke up for the first time. His behavior concerning Yuna shows his softer center, which he keeps very well hidden the rest of the time.
      • Similarly Auron acts like an aloof and silent samurai but when it comes to Tidus, Yuna and even Rikku he is essentially Team Dad. Auron does this so well for Tidus that the latter respects him more than his own father Jecht.
    • Snow Villiers from Final Fantasy XIII . He's big, muscly and punches monsters twice his size square in the face! He also has a Badass Adorable girlfriend note  that he dotes on and can take punches from the bad guys just as well as he can give them.
  • Potemkin from Guilty Gear looks very nasty and intimidating, but likes drawing and tries to avoid pointless fighting. Similarly Sol Badguy one of the strongest and buff dudes in Guilty Gear refused to harm Dizzy or Solaria due to their innocence and kindness.
  • Sig from Jak and Daxter, at the end of Jak II, reminiscing about his childhood:
    "Poopsy bear? Buddy, you just ruined your image."
  • Persona:
    • Eikichi Mischina from Persona 2 is quite the thug, but proximity to Lisa Silverman will reveal his softer side fairly easily, as both know each other's Berserk Buttons and are friendly enough with each other to regularly mash them for light teasing. For all his tough image, he is a strict Bully Hunter and protects students of his school quite ferociously. Even those who have personally moved against him.
    • Foul-mouthed, unapproachable tough guy Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3 turns out to have a well-hidden soft center, hinted at in the main game but put on full display in the female protagonist's route in the portable version of the game.
    • Persona 4 introduces Kanji Tatsumi, who embodies this trope and takes it to its logical conclusion - his "Bruiser" side was built around his insecurity regarding his soft side, which he was mocked for mercilessly, making him feel like a disappointment to his late father. This contrast, along with his desperate attempts to hide his "girly" traits, has made him sexually insecure and extremely defensive regarding his masculinity, causing him to be further shunned by others. Naturally, he gets better with the help of the protagonist, and the Golden Ending shows him toning down his "tough guy" antics and getting more in touch with himself.
  • Common character trait in Resident Evil.
    • Barry Burton, gun collector and mostly muscles, is Happily Married and carries a photo of his wife and two daughters in his uniform.note  He is also a Pungeon Master and an ally to Jill Valentine. When Jill becomes missing-in-action in the series, Barry was apparently the most devastated out of the old friend group, as if he saw her as his surrogate daughter.
    • Claire Redfield is a Badass Biker who always has her big brother's back, and a Friend to All Children. When she tells big brother Chris she was so worried about his safety, Chris quips at how out-of-character that was for a "tough girl" like her.
    • Both Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield served several years in the military before becoming police officers (army and Delta Force, and Air Force, respectively), but are both Parents to Their Men throughout the series and are Bash Siblings with each other.
    • Ada Wong is a spy-for-hire who works for dubious people and mostly acts like an Ice Queen with an occasional knowing grin, but notably helps out the opposition frequently to defeat a mutual enemy.
    • Jake Muller is a Perpetual Frowner with a Face of a Thug, but became a mercenary as a teen to afford medical treatment for his dying mother (unfortunately, she didn't make it).
    • Former CIA agent Helena Harper has a reputation for being aggressive and grumpy. One of the reasons she was relocated to Secret Service was because her little sister Deborah revealed a recent ex-boyfriend was abusive, so she shot him in the leg.
  • Knuckles from Sonic the Hedgehog is known for being tough and uses his spiky fists when in combat. He is also shown to be a nice guy and cares for his friends.
  • Street Fighter has many examples.
    • Blanka is a savage monster, who loves his mother and is best friends with Sakura and Dan.
    • Zangief looks like brute and in a few cartoons and one animated movie he is portrayed as a villain. But in the canon Zangief is actually a Nice Guy who entered a tournament partly to win the admiration of a group of school children. Zangief also shows care to his protegee R. Mika and protected her and Ibuki from Murasame-wielding assassin by using Muscle Power to break the kantana in the story mode. At one point he gets tackled by a possessed Abel and Zangief just applauds the strength of attack and pats Abel on the back before knocking him out.
    • Sagat looks more like a villain than Gief above and distrusted by most of the World Warriors for his brief alignment with Shadowloo, however Sagat is more of a Noble Demon as he along with Dhalsim protect villagers and children in Street Fighter X Tekken.
    • Guile is a hot headed, hard faced stoic soldier but he's also a Family Man who cares deeply for his friend especially Charlie, Chun-Li and Cammy. Guile also gets some Character Development as after going a Roaring Rampage of Revenge due to Charlie's supposed death at Bison's hands Guile mellows so much he stops Chun-Li on pursuing revenge.
    • Hugo is mostly Dumb Muscle but he does care for Poison and has Gentle Giant aspects.
    • Even freaking Akuma has some shades of this, while he did kill Gouken and acts like a murderous demonic asshole most of the time, Akuma still doesn't hurt innocents and has been put in softer situations like making friends with Elena so at he's very worst Akuma is only Chaotic Neutral. Oni on the otherhand is another story.
  • Team Fortress 2: In the web made comics there's Saxton Hale's grandfather Barnabus Hale, introduced as randomly fighting a cougar at his employer's, Zepheniah Mann, will reading, wherein he inherits the company. A strip set before shows his employer's wife's death in Childbirth, and while Zepheniah doesn't spare her a thought, Barnabus is in the background crying his eyes out. Saxton seems to have inherit some of his grandfather traits, considering that, when Grey Mann sent his daughter Olivia, to challenge the giant pile of muscle that is Saxton in a hand-to-hand duel, with the ownership of Mann Co hanging in the balance, Saxton ended up losing by forfeit, since he could not bring himself to harm a child. (Although he didn't seemed to mind asking his assistant to do it for him, unfortunately they turned down the offer)
  • In The World Ends with You, Beat is Dumb Muscle with a soft spot for his sister Rhyme.
  • Yakuza: The protagonists of the series tend to all be tough but honorable men who when not beating up thugs can help out random strangers, sing soulful karaoke and play with children. The longtime protagonist-Kiryu-is perhaps one of the strongest examples. He's The Dreaded "Dragon of Dojima" that has beaten down waves of yakuza and shaken the foundation of Tokyo's underworld throughout the series. He's also a loving father, an avid pocket-car fan, and runs a local orphanage after retiring from the Tojo Clan.

  • Kahn from EVIL is a Big Guy who is literally majoring in Asskicking, but is also the nicest character in the series.
  • Rocko Sasquatch in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! Especially with his pet little unicorn, Oogrook (aka Rainbow Sunshine).
  • Kat from Iron Violet: The Shy Titan is a fierce brawler who isn't afraid to give creeps who bug her or her best friend Yuri a beat down, but she's also shown a gentler, sweeter side, tenderly comforting Yuri when she's feeling unsure of herself.
  • Commander Badass from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. Time-traveling Super-Soldier who was possibly synthesized from American soil and grade-A steak. Still finds time to dote on his two children (three, if you count him being Jared's Parental Substitute). And it pisses the hell out of his superior officers, who want him to be a cynical Anti-Hero.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar may be a sexy shoeless god of war, but he has a soft spot for his cat.
    • Enor from the fifth arc is a giant half-dragon half-ogre who works as the muscle for his friend Gannji in their bounty-hunting business. When they're forced to fight each other in a gladiatorial arena, Gannji tells Enor to kill him and take his tail so later on if Enor escapes, Gannji can be revived with the tail. Enor begins to cry at the very suggestion and refuses to hurt his friend.
      Enor: I don't wanna. I don't wanna hurt you. I don't wanna be alone. You kill me instead, Gannji. You're smart, and you're never scared. You'll be better off all by yourself.
  • Tower of God: Rak is giant Godzilla-like upright standing alligator who spends his life hunting stronger and stronger opponents. He also really took a Tsundere-ish liking towards Bam.
  • Val from Val and Isaac is a gun-toting space mercenary who crumbles in seconds when Minnow sniffles and tears up.
  • Ben from Weak Hero. Yes, he's Large and in Charge, one of the strongest boys in the webcomic, and has no reservations about beating thugs into a pulp if he needs to. He's also highly compassionate, cares deeply about his friends, and goes out of his way to look out for others when he can. Forrest successfully riles Ben not by targeting Ben himself, but by targeting his fellow students, guilting Ben into hunting him down.

    Web Original 
  • Momo from Cream Heroes definitely fits. He's a boisterous orange cat who will happily punch cats who manage to annoy him (namely Lala and Lulu). However, he can sometimes be more timid than Chuchu (although he gets rather embarrassed about the fact). Momo also has a soft spot for both Chuchu and Nana, as he comes to check on them when they return home from their respective surgeries. He even comforts the latter by grooming her and showing his belly.
  • Sapnap is portrayed as one on the Dream SMP, where despite being renowned as a bloodthirsty warrior and a Chronic Pet Killer, he is quite sentimental deep down. His friendships with George and Dream mean a lot to him and even after falling out with Dream on the server, Sapnap still wants to salvage their friendship despite the pain he's caused him. Karl and Quackity, his in-universe fiancés, also mean a lot to him and he's fiercely protective of them.
  • Homestar Runner: Strong Mad is one of the biggest examples of the Dumb Muscle trope you'll ever see in fiction. But he really, really likes The Cheat.
  • Allison Buehler of The Jenkinsverse: A marksman who once faced down a fearsome alien mercenary and single-handedly shot three alien gunships out of the sky, confesses that her favorite movie is Tangled and that she likes to sing along. Julian Etsicitty, six-year survivor on the most hellishly dangerous Death World in the galaxy, later reveals much the same thing about Frozen, and that he used to sing "Let It Go" to keep his spirits up.
  • RWBY: Yang Xiao Long is an immensely strong girl who can beat down tough criminals and bloodthirsty Grimm with just her fists. She also maintains an optimistic and chummy attitude around her friends and dotes on her younger sister Ruby, often crushing poor Ruby with her hugs. She probably inherited this trait from her father Taiyang, who is a hulking muscle-man with broad arms covered in burn scars, who nevertheless tenderly brings his daughters breakfast in bed while they're recovering from their injuries, not to mention the sheer glee in his voice upon unveiling his daughter's artificial arm.
  • Agent Dmitri Arkadeyevich Strelnikov of the SCP Foundation. A boisterous, violent Russian soldier with a deep faith in More Dakka. His "agent handbook" contains a surprisingly well-written chapter about how to take care for infants when you're in a battlefield.

    Western Animation 
  • Vi from Arcane is a tough, tomboyish bruiser who prefers to fight with her fists and can be abrasive at times, but she also has a much kinder and warmer side that she readily shows to people she cares about.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • When Aang is arrested in Avatar Day, he is imprisoned next to some threatening looking inmates. A later cutaway reveals them talking out their problems and even encouraging Aang to confess his feelings for the girl he loves.
    • The Hippo has a soft spot for Toph, who actually is an example herself.
    • Toph Beifong is often rude, surly, and a frighteningly powerful Earthbender. Her rudeness and surliness is also a Freudian Excuse to cover her pain at being isolated from the outside world for most of her childhood and being seen as weak and helpless by her parents.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien:
  • All three of the Biker Mice from Mars fit this trope to varying degrees, but there was one time where Modo cried because the Big Bad destroyed a orphanage.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Wheeler is a former street teen with enough fighting experience to scare crooks. However, his aggression is usually channeled into protecting others, and multiple times during the show, Wheeler gets soft moments with one of the other heroes who's suffering physicallynote , emotionallynote  or both at oncenote .
  • El Oso, enemy of El Tigre, is willing to kick the living crap out of every bear in the forest for the bear-girl he loves, but when she runs off with her true love, he breaks down sobbing.
  • Bo of The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants is both the tallest, strongest, and toughest and the gentlest, shyest, and sweetest of the child characters.
  • Jorgen Von Strangle, bully fairy supreme of The Fairly OddParents!, is madly in love with the gorgeous Tooth Fairy. When she dumps him for being a bully, he is completely devastated.
  • Goliath from Gargoyles is devastated when he believes his Angel of the Night has been murdered by humans. Though his grief runs more to Clifftop Caterwauling than displays of tears.
  • Grunkle Stanley Pines from Gravity Falls. He may be a tough, greedy old trickster with a mean right hook, but when it comes to his family he'd do literally anything for them, even sacrifice himself for their sake.
  • This also happens in a couple of Looney Tunes in a Chuck Jones series about a huge bulldog named Marc Antony with a tiny, cute, accident-prone kitten named Pussyfoot (a/k/a Cleopatra). That moment in Feed the Kitty when he thinks she's been baked into a batch of cookies...and is then given a kitty-shaped cookie to cheer him up? Not a dry eye in the house.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rainbow Dash is brash, arrogant, and can be quite blunt and insensitive at times. She is always willing to solve problems headfirst, but underneath her tough exterior lies a softer, caring side best demonstrated with her friends, her surrogate little sister Scootaloo, and her pet tortoise Tank.
    • Applejack counts, too. True to her "cowgirl" demeanor, she's a rowdy and assertive Cute Bruiser, but ultimately friendly and rational minded. She's also a loyal family member and a good friend who regularly uses the endearment "sugarcube" on her True Companions in public.
  • Buford of Phineas and Ferb. He bursts into tears when his goldfish goes missing. He is thrilled when his bear is restored by the boys' teleportation machine, and when helping Baljeet babysit Perry, speaks to him gently and assures that they will take good care of him.
  • Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls. She's tough, argumentative, and can be quite sarcastic at times. But underneath her tomboyish exterior lies a secret soft spot best demonstrated when snuggling with a stuffed alligator while she's asleep, and cradling a green blankie in the girls' closet.
  • Popeye is disproportionately muscled and is a gruff and gritty sailor which easily hides his virtues and his soft side and how considerate of others especially kids he actually is. In the live action movie Popeye's song featured the line "An' I gotta lot o' muskle and I only got one eye, an' I never hurts nobody an' I'll never tell a lie." Which is more or less true, as long as you mentally insert "... that didn't deserve it" after "nobody".
  • Primal (2019): Spear doesn't get to show it that often due to the Death World setting he lives in where every week if not every day is a fight for survival against fauna that are trying to kill you; but this brutish and ferocious survivalist caveman has multiple moments of compassion over the show. From his bonding with Fang's children before the latter quickly died, to his empathy for Fang and the woolly mammoth herd over their losses, to his desire to extend generosity to the cave dwellers and a Ceratopsian herd respectively.
  • Enzo Matrix from ReBoot becomes this after being trapped in the Games and aging to an adult. He is huge, muscular, tough as nails, with a stubborn streak a mile wide, but the mere thought of losing AndrAIa devastates him. (It's also notable that AndrAIa is the only person in the entire Web who can push Matrix around and get away with it.) He also has a major soft spot where his dog, Frisket, is concerned.
  • South Park: Cthulhu. Cartman abuses this shamelessly, and invokes the Looney Tunes example above.
  • Sandman in The Spectacular Spider-Man shows kindness to small children. In his case, it might be Foreshadowing a Heel–Face Turn as happened in the comics.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: "Kayshon, His Eyes Open": The Titan away team all initially seem like stone-cold badasses, but Boimler eventually gets them to admit that they joined Starfleet to be nerdy Science Heroes.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Ruby, and by extension, Garnet. Ruby's emotions are anything but subtle - if she's angry, she's literally fuming, if she's upset, she doesn't hesitate to show tears, and if she's anywhere near her girlfriend, it's almost impossible to stop them from flirting. Garnet is a bit more stoic due to Sapphire's influence, but she still has a huge sweet side to her that mostly shows around her adopted son, Steven.
    • Topaz is introduced as a silent, stoic fusion of two equally silent and stoic Topazes. However, when Steven and Lars start to talk about how they're scared but at least not alone, she breaks into tears, lamenting on how she wouldn't know what to do if her components didn't have each other, and how she hates going on missions. She's even willing to betray Homeworld to let Steven and Lars go back to Earth, since neither of them want to be there. It doesn't work, but still.
    • Bismuth is a grizzled old Gem War survivor who was kept bubbled in Lion's mane for millennia because her go-to strategy during the war was "shatter anyone who gets in my way." When she's freed in the modern day and asked to be a part of Garnet's wedding, she misses her cue to hand over Ruby and Sapphire's rings because she's too busy bawling her eyes out.
  • Teen Titans: Multiple examples are sprinkled throughout the series, but the OAV Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo has these examples:
    • Cyborg gets mad when you mess with his car. Gets mad when you mess with the Tower. But wreck the sofa and he bursts into tears.
    • Scrappy little Robin grabs a spare uniform with determined expression — then folds it up into a pillow for Silkie. He pets the thing affectionately, then heads out.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: this is a major character trait of every iteration of Raphael. As short tempered and hot-blooded as he may be, he's always the most emotional of the siblings, to the point where it's almost always commented on in-serise as well.
  • Thomas & Friends: In "Diesel & the Ducklings", Thomas finds Diesel cooing at a bunch of ducklings by the track. He uses the knowledge to blackmail Diesel into acting nicer, lest his Bruiser friends 'Arry and Bert find out. In the end, the ducklings have the same effect on 'Arry and Bert.
  • Old Soldier Panthro of ThunderCats (2011) reveals his soft center when he warms up to the Ro-Bear Berbils, weeping Manly Tears when they do him a large favor by helping repair his Thundertank. When he openly hugs his new friend Ro-Bear Bill, and is witnessed by the team's Tagalong Kids, this exchange occurs:
    Wilykat: Busted!
    Wilykit: Panthro's a big ol' softy!
    Panthro: *Death Glare* Is that a problem?
    Wilykit: *stiffens nervously* Nope.
    Wilykat: It's cool.
  • The Tick is very much Dumb Muscle but he also has a very soft heart.
  • Spike the bulldog from Tom and Jerry with his pup, Tyke.
  • According to voice actor Peter Cullen, this is how he originally played Optimus Prime in The Transformers. After telling his older brother and Marine veteran Larry about the role, Larry told him:
    Well, if you're going to be a hero, be a real hero. Don't be a Hollywood stereotypical thing with the yelling and screaming. Be strong enough to be gentle.

    Real Life 
  • By all accounts, Ernest Hemingway. According to Papa Hemingway, when he was still a struggling writer in Paris, he would sit alone for hours and cry over rejection letters. Considering the fragile ego of some writers (at the best of times) and the fact the man was seriously depressed, eventually killed himself and could only shut up his inner editor with lots and lots of booze... well, that actually isn't that surprising.
  • Clark Gable tried to hide his sensitive side from his fans due to his characters' reputations of being stoic hunks. Biographers and other movie stars of the time, however, later gushed about Gable's big softy moments, such as his love of reading (Myrna Loy, for example, said in her autobiography that he loved reading poetry, especially Shakespeare sonnets) and how relaxed and romantic he became during his marriage to Carole Lombard. When she died, many said that she'd taken a piece of Gable with her.
  • For someone who does her own stunts and once played action stars like Furiosa and Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron is pretty accident-prone and frequently suffers from Sand In My Eyes if she gets a compliment.
  • MMA fighter Wanderlei Silva is arguably the single most aggressive and intimidating fighter in the history of the sport, bulging with muscles and boasting a disturbing tendency to leave opponents curled up in a puddle of blood and shame after quite literally stomping their faces in. He also adores his fans and has consistently demonstrated himself to be one of the nicest guys in the UFC outside the cage.
  • Due to Small Reference Pools, James Cagney is well-known for his hardcore gangster movies nowadays. In real life, he was a guitar-playing, tap-dancing *, Happily Married, family man.
    Ann Sheridan: (about Cagney) It was always "Hiya, baby!" or "How are ya, sweetheart?" He's a great guy. He didn't smoke or drink. He could get drunk on two drinks of liquor. And he never made the party scene.
  • "Grandpa Mason", a rescued senior feral cat (with advanced renal disease) was very wary of humans and not above swatting people who tried to pet him. But put him around kittens... He was also a fine example of The Power of Love; initially, it was assumed he had a few months to live, but when he finally succumbed to renal failure, he had lived at the rescue center for a little shy of three years, being one of the best kitten caretakers they had.
  • Charles Boyer was said to have a reputation of being cold and unapproachable, but could open up when ready.
    Irene Dunne: Charles really had a rare and genuine warmth, like a fire that starts slowly. He was the kind of log that was difficult to ignite, but then would burn so beautifully.
  • Humphrey Bogart, known for his stoic, no-nonsense characters (particularly in Film Noir), sobbed Tears of Joy when his son went to school for the first time, according to one of Lauren Bacall's autobiographies.
  • When Jessica Chastain was asked about what it was like working with Hollywood "tough guy" actors (e.g. Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Sam Worthington), she replied that the public shouldn't be fooled because they're "kittens" that play tough to hide their vulnerability.
  • This has been elevated to a national stereotype with the Israeli concept of the sabra, a Jew born in Israel. The word comes from tzabar, meaning prickly pear cactus, and alludes to the tough Badass Israeli exterior concealing a sweet interior.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bruiser With A Soft Centre, Big Softy


The Warden

The Second Coming is at the mercy of a terrifying monster called the warden and is trapped at a dead end with nothing but a book, a candle, and a stick. With no choice but to utilize whatever he could use at his disposal, The Second Coming finds that the warden is not really a monster.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / MusicSoothesTheSavageBeast

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