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David Versus Goliath

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"Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. "Am I a dog," he roared at David, "that you come at me with a stick?" And he cursed David by the name of his gods. ... As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground."

Broadly speaking, this trope is any climactic combat or competition where the hero is the underdog. More specifically, it refers to conflicts where the hero is of much smaller in physical stature than the villain. The hero will usually win if he's Weak, but Skilled in contrast to the Unskilled, but Strong foe, or otherwise very good at Deadly Dodging. If the villain is much larger, the hero may attempt a Colossus Climb.

This trope is named after the biblical account of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel, chapter 17. (Note that in that story, David claims to have won only through Divine Intervention, so ironically, the Trope Namer is not an accurate example of the Trope.)

Villainous Underdog is when the villain is the underdog instead of the hero. If a monster is underestimated, see Killer Rabbit. Brutes easily lend themselves to being Goliaths, but they're disqualified from this trope if they're also Large and in Charge. When Goliath's superiority is in the numbers, a one-off victory for David against individually formidable opponents is Conservation of Ninjutsu, while systematic victories against any number of opponents makes David a One-Man Army. Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight is when Goliath's superiority is having a weapon against the unarmed David. A sufficiently confident Goliath may see fit to start Just Toying with Them.

If the villain is literally physically larger than the hero, that's Evil Is Bigger. Up the scale and You Just Punched Out Cthulhu. See also Pint-Sized Powerhouse. In some works, this trope is why Elephants Are Scared of Mice, as their prey is a Resourceful Rodent.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Uniquely for a depiction of the famously disadvantaged David, this is an Averted Trope in Michelangelo's David. We get no sculpture of Goliath for reference, but David is certainly larger here than any man could expect to be. There is no attempt here to portray David as an underdog or less physically endowed. The implication of Goliath remains, however, in David's expression of disquiet and concern—his brow is furrowed, his glance is sidelong and slightly raised towards something above than him, and there is a slight downturn to his lips.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has a few abilities that contribute to this; the first example is probably Elvish Archers (2/1, first strike) vs. Ball Lightning (6/1, trample). The Ball Lightning's power is three times greater than the Archers', but the first strike ability means the Archers do their damage first, killing the Lightning. However, Magic being Magic, the attacker can intervene, and the defender can intervene in that as well.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! game, the Marauding Captain is a Warrior-Type monster seen on many cards fighting monsters that are larger and stronger (as far as points go) than he is, such as "Despair from the Dark on "Staunch Defender," Terrorking Archfiend on "Battle-Scarred," (explaining where he got the scar on his cheek), Inpachi on "Double Attack" (where he clearly destroyed it), Blazing Inpachi in "Two-Man Cell Battle," and Goblin Attack Force on "Assault on GHQ" The ultimate outcome of most of these battles is not clear, but he obviously survived each one, at least.

    Comic Books 
  • The Marvel Comics storyline Acts of Vengeance worked in this manner as a team of villains gathered together to pit heroes against foes they likely never faced before. This saw oddball match ups such as Daredevil against Ultron, Alpha Flight against the Scorpion, Power Pack against Typhoid Mary and more.
  • Asterix: The Gauls who remain undefeated against the entire Roman Empire. Asterix, in particular, is also an example of a very small man defeating opponents who are taller than he is.
  • Doctor Strange routinely fights above his weight class (and he's a borderline Reality Warper on a good day, so you can imagine how powerful his foes must be) to defend Earth. He's taken on and beaten Physical Gods, Eldritch Abominations, and Dimension Lords, largely by outthinking them or maneuvering them into a position where he has a fighting chance.
  • There have been times where the Hulk is in the David position. Of course, he's usually still the stronger one.
  • Popeye's foes, especially Bluto, are far taller than him, but of course they always regret taking on the smaller sailor-man.
  • The Smurfs versus Gargamel, or versus any human that is their designated villain.
  • Spider-Man versus The Rhino. Taken Up to Eleven in two instances where he fought an enemy outside his Rogues Gallery. One with Fire Lord, a Herald of Galactus. For the most part, he tanks everything Spider-Man throws at him and Spider-Man only wins at the end through Popularity Power allowing him to KO Fire Lord even though it didn't make any sense. The hardest case of it being played straight was when he fought the Juggernaut, a villain who has fought the X-Men's entire lineup single-handedly and proven too strong for them to take head even for their strongest members. Naturally, their first fight ends with Spider-Man flattened and Juggernaut only stops because kidnapping his target would require taking her off life support. Spider-Man's second attempt fares no better and only wins by getting Juggernaut to walk into a pit of cement.
  • Unintentional evocation of this trope is the reason it's hard to write good Superman villains. Unless you make them even more powerful than Superman (which gets boring after a while) or have them regularly exploit one of his weaknesses (The Kryptonite Man, Metallo, Ruin, etc.), many of Supes' villains end up looking better by simply being able to go up against him — most notably normal humans like the Prankster, Toyman, and of course Luthor. Prankster and Toyman are generally in it for the laughs (the Prankster has been seen complaining to Black Canary that she hit him harder than Superman ever does). Lex has been accurately described as "a man fighting God".
  • In the Transformers comic book, Omega Supreme managed to beat up eight Decepticons by himself, including Megatron, and was able to stand up to the even bigger Trypticon. Despite this, in a later arc, he was attacked and knocked down by Buzzsaw, one of the smallest Decepticons. (A small robot bird of the same model as Laserbeak; the narrator seemed to think he was really in trouble when it happened, although he was later actually destroyed by an Underbase-powered Starscream.)
  • Wolverine pings this trope quite often, especially when fighting alongside the X-Men. He is considerably shorter than average and while he is very hard to effectively damage due to his regeneration and unbreakable bones all he has going for him offensively are the blades in his arms, literal Invulnerable Knuckles, very low-end Super Strength, and lots of experience. His successor X-23 is in a similar situation, only she has less than two decades of experience and is vastly more delicatenote .

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes features a strip where Calvin says to Moe, "You're so dumb you probably never thought about how a sparrow's smaller size and greater maneuverability is an advantage in fighting off big crows." Calvin is then punched by Moe.

    Eastern Animation 
  • In Masha and the Bear, Masha faces against a big grizzly bear in a tennis match. She wins.

    Fan Works 
  • Happens a lot with Harry in Child of the Storm. While he's won the Superpower Lottery, his powers are taking a long time to fully develop. Unfortunately, this makes him a MacGuffin Super-Person whom many villains want to either capture and use, or get out of the way, before he can grow into his full abilities. As a result, in almost every major battle he's in, he's up against villains at least as powerful as him, usually much stronger. The cases where he wins pretty quickly are usually cannon fodder for something worse.
  • Fairly literal example in Harry and the Shipgirls. The Destroyer Fubuki having self-summoned during Blood Week, goes one-on-one with a Battleship Princess, who outmasses her by many tons, and wins due to an extremely lucky shot.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Bleach crossover A Hollow in Equestria has a fight between Ulquiorra and a colossal dragon, who the David and Goliath is relies on what you know about Arrancars.
  • The Ranma ˝/Dragon Ball Z crossover Human Saiyajin gives us Ranma Ranko Saotome vs Perfect Cell. Even after several power-ups, Ranko doesn't even have the ki levels necessary to level a few city blocks, where Cell is far past being capable of causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. This difference in power also translates into their physical attacks; Cell can KO Ranko in one solid hit, where Ranko has to resort to Death by a Thousand Cuts just to annoy Cell... but Ranko isn't the greatest martial artist in the world for nothing, and she manages to keep up with Cell by invoking Weak, but Skilled HARD, capitalizing on her knowledge of the art to predict where Cell is going to move and strike, basically fighting the entire battle a step ahead of Cell and using every trick in her arsenal to keep her opponent off balance and unable to counterattack. It's only after Cell figures out how to see through the Umisenken that Ranko goes down, but not before she snaps off a Hiryu Shoten Ha powerful enough to spawn a gods-be-damned hurricane.
  • Juxtapose: All it takes for Izuku to take out a giant Zero-pointer robot in the Sports Festival is to Portal Cut its AI cord within its internal circuits, thanks to Kensei's scanning and Megumi's telepathy.
  • Kings of Revolution features Lelouch vi Britannia, posing as Zero, going up against Nanoha Takamachi. Overall, the fanfic is about the Black Knights going up against Britannia while also having to deal with police interventions from the Time Space Administration Bureau. And even they are confronting one another with an organization that is Playing Both Sides.
  • The Night Unfurls: Occasionally, the Good Hunter fights foes so massive that they loom over him, like ogres. Even so, from how the former has fought numerous hunters, beasts and abominations that are taller and larger before, it is very obvious to figure out who has the upper hand.
  • The Ponies of Olympus series has Spike's fight with Garble (who by this point is a fully grown dragon) during the preliminaries of the Atlas Strongest Tournament.
  • Fanmade Death Battles on DeviantArt have a few of note:
    • Ezio Autidtore vs Lu Bu. Ezio is badass by the standards of Assassin's Creed, but Lu Bu is a One-Man Army with Charles Atlas Superpower to an insane degree, but fortunately for Ezio, he's also impulsive, not too smart, and very arrogant. This allows Ezio to barely win since Lu Bu's overconfidence prevents him from killing Ezio immediately, leading to a Ezio manages to get some hits in, also helped by Ezio refusing to give up despite losing an arm and getting beaten half to death, and narrowly kill him. Also helping Ezio is that he's actually durable based on his own merits, with most of Lu Bu's health coming from his armor.
    • Showa Godzilla vs GMK Godzilla has a version of Godzilla, the Showa specifically, of all things in this role, against his bigger, stronger GMK incarnation. The Showa version ultimately wins thanks to his greater agility, intelligence, and that he's a much more experienced fighter.
    • Finn and Jake vs Bowser. Bowser is much stronger than the two heroes, apart or together but their teamwork and more flexible arrow abilities allow them to narrowly win.
    • Gispy Danger vs Godzilla. While both combatants are gigantic, Godzilla is even bigger. In the end, Godzilla's greater size, power, coupled with the fact that Gispy Danger's best weapons are radiation-based and would make him stronger as opposed to hurting him, Godzilla wins.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Hanna regularly fights opponents far larger than herself — Bane, the Toxic Avenger, the Korean Sasquatch — but she's enough of a Blood Knight to enjoy doing it, and has moderately enhanced strength and toughness, letting her fight them on a reasonably even footing.
  • The Simpsons: Team L.A.S.H. has the fight between Anastasia Burns and Maggie Simpson. Despite Maggie having the advantage in terms of height, weight, and physical strength, Anastasia manages to use her gymnastics training to outmaneuver Maggie with acrobatic moves and win the fight.

    Films — Animation 
  • Inverted in Boogie where Boogie, a huge man, faces off against rival assassin, Blackburn, who is considerably smaller, faster, and far more agile. Both their fights have Blackburn nimbly sweeping all around Boogie while Boogie tries to knock down Blackburn.
  • Toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon movies is middling sized at best by dragon standardsnote . In the first film, he and his rider faced down what could best be described as a flying kaiju capable of swallowing them both whole, while the climax of the sequel involved an even bigger aquatic creature with mind-control powers.
  • Played with in Monsters vs. Aliens, where the David is the nearly 50-feet tall Ginormica, pitted against a 350-foot Humongous Mecha.
  • Bernard and Bianca in The Rescuers and its sequel are a pair of regular-sized anthropomorphic mice. In the first film, they faced down a pair of alligators and outsmarted both them and their master in their attempts to rescue a young girl from their clutches. The sequel sees Bernard face down an Evil Poacher and his pet goanna using his wit and an assist from gravity to defeat them both singlehandedly.
  • In Turning Red, the climax features Mei's bear-sized red panda form against Ming's kaiju-sized one.

  • All for the Game pits the main characters, the Palmetto State Foxes, against the Edgar Allen Ravens. Palmetto State is the worst team in the league and the laughingstock of college Exy. The Ravens are the undefeated champions.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Compared to Garralosh, a twenty-metre-long fire-breathing crocodile, Anthony is tiny, weak, and fragile. However, he's reasonably fast, he has a potent Healing Factor, and his gravity bomb spell lets him punch above his weight class.
  • In the climax of second book of The Dinosaur Lords, Karyl — a regular and currently mightily exhausted man — is pitied against Raguel, a three-metres-tall avatar of destruction mounted on a Tyrannosaurus Imperator.
  • Played with in the Dale Brown novel Flight of the Old Dog. Near the end, the Old Dog is hounded by a MiG-29 Fulcrum. Although the Old Dog is a massive bomber and the Fulcrum is a much smaller fighter, the Fulcrum is clearly the Goliath because the Old Dog is not only less manoeuvrable or speedy, but also Can Barely Stand, with damaged/malfunctioning equipment and crew members far from their best.
  • Scout-Sergeant Oan Mkoll, Chief Scout and bone-deep badass, goes one-on-one with a Chaos Dreadnaught in a Gaunt's Ghosts short story. Granted, it was blind and distracted, but this is a Mini-Mecha weapons platform capable of laying waste to Space Marine Squads, and Mkoll soloed the damn thing. Then refused any recognition for it.
  • In Gorgo the Ogre, the titular hero, a small ogre child, has to face the Slobbering Monster, who's so big it fills a whole giant crevice with his body. Gorgo manages to kill it using his wits, bravery and a good dose of luck.
  • Harry Potter: The main conflict of the series is Harry Potter, an average and normal (for a wizard) teenager who must face off against Lord Voldemort, a much older and more powerful dark wizard, potentially one of the most powerful wizards to ever live. It started back when Harry was a baby, as Voldemort tried to kill him then due to a prophecy saying that this trope was going to come into effect with regards to Voldemort.
  • The Hobbit, together with its sequel The Lord of the Rings, is one long series of David (the Hobbits, and the small groups they accompany) vs. Goliath (trolls, masses of orcs/goblins, Smaug the Dragon, and of course Sauron and his armies) plots. And in both cases the little guys win with one well aimed surprise blow.
  • Imminent in the Honor Harrington series: the Star Empire of Manticore and the Republic of Haven vs. the Solarian League. The Solarians comprise two-thirds of the total human population of the entire setting, but Manticore and Haven have the most advanced militaries and tactics.
    • The earlier Manticore / Haven war was an even more one-sided affair, if you just looked at numbers.
    • Many of Harrington's earlier battles, as a mere ship captain: taking her smaller ship against much larger, and better-armed ships. Fearless vs Sirius, and Fearless II vs Thunder of God.
    • The Elysian navy versus the People's Navy and State Sec task force sent against Hades. The remnants and captures from a few squadrons of battlecruisers, plus a bunch of formidable but immobile orbital defenses that weren't even in range at the time, against an entire major Naval task group. Unconventional, extremely risky tactics for the win. And stupidly predictable State Sec flight patterns for the loss.
    • In the Manticore/Solarian case, it's debatable which side is David, and which Goliath. The Solarians indisputably have the numerical advantage (roughly 110 to 1 in terms of ship counts), but Manticorian technology is so far ahead that the only way Manticore can lose a fight is to run out of ammo. In fact, the latter is one of the strategies employed by the Solarians, as some are willing to exchange entire fleets in order to get the Manticorans to expend valuable missiles, which they can't replenish at first after the Mesans blow up all their orbital facilities. On the other hand, the League is not likely to last that long, as its own internal issues are likely to cause it to collapse before long.
  • In Horatio Hornblower novel Hornblower and the Hotspur, Hornblower's little sloop ends up fighting against a large French frigate, the Loire. Despite being in a tricky area to navigate in weather that gives the Loire an additional advantage, Hornblower's maneuvering is so clever that he not only evades the bigger ship, he actually gets it into a position where he can fire a broadside unopposed. Although he doesn't destroy it, he confounds its attempt to chase him away from his station and forces it to run off home.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric often phrases his battles in terms of himself being small and his foe being large. For instance, when he triumphs over a certain orc his victory thought is "And the wasp defeats the lion!" This also happens when fighting mages with greater experience, raw power, or knowledge (which is most of them).
  • In Licence Renewed, James Bond must prove himself to the Big Bad whose organization he is infiltrating by taking on his towering right-hand man in a wrestling match. Bond brings up the comparison in his mind after the match.
  • In Star Trek: Ship of the Line, the USS Bozeman, a Soyuz-class border cutter, faces off against a Klingon heavy cruiser several times her size (the class isn't specified, but it's either a D7 or a K't'inga). The Klingon goal was to sneak across the Neutral Zone and attack Starbase 12, which is experiencing power failure thanks to Klingon saboteurs. The loss of a full-sized starbase would be a huge blow to the Federation. The Bozeman is the only ship that can warn Starfleet of the Klingon plot, but the cruiser is jamming comms, while the Bozeman's warp drive is damaged from a previous engagement. At the same time, the Klingons can't simply go on their way, as the Bozeman would be able to send a distress call, allowing other Starfleet ships to intervene. The Bozeman ends up launching a time-delayed comm buoy while distracting the Klingons with a chase. In desperation, they find a strange-looking cloud and try to lose the Klingons in it. They come out and nearly collide with a giant ship that later identifies itself as the Enterprise-D, learning they've been catapulted 90 years into the future. The only consolation is that their gamble succeeded. Their messages reached Starfleet, and the original Enterprise chased away the Klingons. The entire crew of the Bozeman are considered heroes in that sector.
  • In the second book of the Starship's Mage series, Damien has to take down a corrupt government that is perfectly willing to blow up its own planet's cities to further its political goals. He has a ragtag resistance made up of ex-politicians, some gear smuggled in as part of a bigger conspiracy, a series of government overrides that no one knows that he has, and his own powers as a mage. The government has a planetary military, a fleet of spaceships, and a communications blackout.
  • Prince Oberyn vs. Ser Gregor in A Storm of Swords. Doesn't end well for either man. Oberyn is initially able to dodge all of Gregor's attacks, and inflicts poisoned wounds that eventually lead to Gregor's death, but he lets down his guard and is killed by Gregor.
  • Two of the Nemean games in The Thebaid pit a hulking brute against a tiny underdog:
    • In the boxing match, the blasphemous Capaneus scares off any challengers due to his sheer size until Alcidimas stands up. Trained by the legendary boxer Pollux, the smaller boxer is able to dodge most of Capaneus' lethal blows and jab him until he nearly goes down. Its the humiliation of that near-knock out that enrages Capaneus to the point of beating Alcidimas to death. His comrades stop the brute and Capaneus is rewarded a palm branch while Alcidimas gets the compensation prize of his life.
    • In the wrestling match, one of Hercules' fatter kids goes up against the Pint-Sized Powerhouse Tydeus. The Herculean is explicitly as big as his dad (although not nearly as strong) and expects his bulk to win the day, which allows Tydeus to totally outmaneuver and exhaust him throughout the fight. Even crushing the little man with his whole bulk doesn't save the big guy, since Tydeus just slips out of his grasp, puts his arms around him, and throws the giant man so hard into the ground that he doesn't get back up.
  • Zig-zagged at one point in Uprooted when we see Warrior Prince Marek, a physically powerful man in full armor who has trained for battle most of his life, is on trained warhorse, and has minions behind him to pass or toss any weapons that he does not have on him; attacking Kasia, a teenaged peasant girl who hardly knows more than what end of the only sword she has to hold... and whose strange woodlike flesh will turn any weapon Marek can hope to get his hands on atop granting her at least as much strength as his warhorse.
  • In H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, the advanced Martians with their massive three-legged walking tanks and heat rays threaten to destroy civilization until they are killed off by the "humblest" of creatures—Earth's bacteria.

  • An archeological team unearthing an ancient mausoleum is inspecting a 3,000 year-old mummy when a senior archeologist deduce that it belonged to a man who died of a heart attack.
    "How could you tell?" one of the junior archeologists questioned.
    "I deciphered this scroll the mummy is holding." the older archeologist replies. "It's a betting slip that says, 5 million bucks on Goliath."

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The trope namer is the aforementioned story in the Old Testament Book of 1 Samuel, where David kills the large and fearsome Goliath first by knocking him down with a rock launched from a sling and then cutting off the giant's head with his own sword. Goliath, depending on translation, was either just under seven feet tall or just under nine feet tall and clad in nearly 150 pounds of bronze armor; David was in his late teens and completely unarmored.
  • Antigone begins after Creon, the new king of Thebes after an unsuccessful attempt by Polinices and others to conquer it, declares that the bodies of the coup leaders be left to rot rather than be buried. Polinices' sister, Antigone, insists upon burying him to honor custom and divine law, challenging the secular laws of the city. Creon has all the apparent power behind him, while Antigone seems weak and defenseless, but when he imprisons her he sets in motion a train of events, doubtless orchestrated by the gods, which destroy his family and his rule, so Antigone's resistance prevails in the end.

  • In The Pinball of the Dead, the "Cemetery" table has Ricky, a massive zombie who reaches up from underneath the playfield.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • ECW made this the gimmick of Spike Dudley. Despite being only 150 lbs at 5'8, he'd be put in matches with much, much, larger wrestlers such as the 6'9 600 lbs Big Sal E. Graziano and find some way to win pretty much every time.
  • At 5'4" and 170 lbs, this is a constant obstacle for Rey Mysterio Jr. WWE has put on several matches between him and Big Show (who is billed as 7 feet tall and 500 lbs.), and even promoted them as "David versus Goliath" matches. Later, Mysterio was pitted against The Great Khali, who is even taller than Big Show. Mysterio has feuded with Kane, who is about Big Show's height but weighs less. WCW also quite liked this idea, pitting Mysterio against the near-seven foot Kevin Nash.
  • Chris Hero, claimed to be the savior of CZW, the David to the Goliath that was Ring of Honor.
  • To the 5 foot 90 lbs Angel Dust, every one of her challengers while she was the Absolute Intense Wrestling Women's champion was Goliath, even the 5'4 128 lbs Portia Perez. However, her second successful title defense against the 6'3 331 lbs Super Oprah Mustafa takes the cake.
  • Of course, in wrestling, Goliath tends to win most of the time, or at least wrestle to a draw.
  • Heidi Lovelace. At only 5'4, this is inevitable. Zig-zagged depending on who her opponent is and on whether or not she wins.
    • During her match with Alexia Nicole at A1 Final Act 6, the announcers said that Heidi was only about 5'3 but that Alexia made her look like a giant.
    • She won the OVW Women's Title #1 Contendership Femme Fatales Battle Royal on the August 3, 2013 episode of OVW TV by eliminating the 5'11 218 lbs. Lei'D Tapa, who had singlehandedly eliminated everybody else from the match except for Holly Blossom.
  • The Oddities brutally inverted this when they won, most evidently in their win over Kaientai at SummerSlam 1998.
  • Paige Turner: Inverted, with a large dose of Redemption Demotion. She got a Face reaction for her entrance before her match with Bree Ann at TOP (Texas Outlaw Promotion) Wrestling's February 20, 2016 show at the Mineral Wells Expo Center...and pretty much got squashed. Aside from a senton and working over Bree Ann's neck, her offense proved much less effective as a Face than as a Heel.
  • Marko Stunt of All Elite Wrestling is 5'2" and 123 pounds — and he wrestles all of his opponents (generally in the 5'8" — 6'3" range) as if they were seven foot monsters that he can only take down with titanic effort.
  • During his epic rise to the top of the WWE, Chris Benoit faced off against Big Show in a Number One Contender's match, with the winner challenging for the WWE World Title. Show was more than twice Benoit's size, but Benoit used his brains to triumph over Show's brawn. He used his fantastic technical wrestling skills to maneuver Show into a position where the big guy was forced to tap out.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Grudge Match", the eponymous boxing match between 5'6 Walter Denton and 6'5 three-letter Dumb Jock Stretch Snodgrass. A different spin on the issue, as the teenagers were best friends fighting over a girl. Walter Denton challenged Stretch to the fight, and it was common belief at Madison that he'd be clobbered. Mr. Conklin, refereeing the match, is struck by mistake

    Tabletop Games 
  • Every scenario in the Gray Death Legion and Black Thorns sourcebooks for BattleTech has the player, as the protagonists, constantly outnumbered and outgunned, sometimes by a considerable margin. The best example of such an underdog battle is the Gray Death Legion battle "Alone on Trellwan," where a lone Gray Death Shadow Hawk piloted by Grayson Carlyle himself is challenged by a Crusader and a Marauder and is expected to escape alive as well as destroy the Crusader on his way out.
    • In the lore, the Reunification War is generally seen as this, pitting the 1000+ world-sized Star League, backed with the latest technology from the Terran Hegemony and no Ares Accords holding them back, against the Periphery realms of the Magistracy of Canopus, the Outworlds Alliance and the Taurian Concordat (combined having around 130 worlds, and stuck on opposite sides of the Star League with no ability to form a united front). The war took the Star League 20 years, mostly from having to fight the Taurians inch by inch. The Rim Worlds Republic, also a hypothetical target, averted the trope by surrendering almost immediately.
    • The attempted invasion of Alshain by rogue Draconis Combine units canonically featured a 100-ton Atlas defeated by a single Elemental. While an Elemental already quite fearsome to a normal person—being a genetically engineered Super Soldier raised to be a warrior from birth wearing a literal ton of Mech-grade Powered Armor—a single Elemental is normally no match for an Atlas. However, this Elemental, Jake Kabrinski, would use his agility to close inside the Atlas' own movement arcs, becoming too nimble to accurately hit at close range and tricking the Atlas into overextending and falling off balance, crushing its side and allowing him to climb up to the cockpit to kill the pilot.
  • Most battles between the Tau and the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000 fluff; the Tau have better standard equipment and are faster to respond to threats, but the Imperium is many times larger than the Tau Empire and is more willing to throw wave after wave of men into the fight if it ensures victory, however they often send soldiers to fight in a war that has already ended, for example the Damocles Crusade. The Tau often get lucky in that the Imperium, being so massive, has plenty of other, more pressing problems to deal with.
  • While all smaller races from The Witcher: Game of Imagination can fit, halflings take the cake, since they are cute little gluttons able to smash you into pulp with sneak attacks and slings if pushed too hard.

  • The script for 1776 specifically notes that John Adams is 5'7" and Thomas Jefferson is 6'3", as this is crucial for a sight gag in the "But Mr. Adams" musical number. With both of them standing on a staircase, Adams vows that he will MAKE Jefferson stay and write the Declaration of Independence instead of visiting his wife. Jefferson moves to the same stair as Adams and steps very close:
    Jefferson: How?
    Adams: ...By physical force, if necessary!
The movie version turned this Up to Eleven as William Daniels is 5'7" like Adams but Ken Howard is 6'6" — even taller than the historical Jefferson.

    Web Animation 

  • Karate Bears are generally the larger combatant but not always.
  • Mass Effect 3: Generations has Harbinger, a two-kilometre long Reaper, blown up by a single raid done by the Volus Bombers fleet. For a reality check, Sovereign managed to endure A LOT more punishment inflicted by several fleets (including dreadnoughts) before it got blown up.
  • In Nip and Tuck, in the movie within a movie storyline "Rebel Cry," it is first subverted at the beginning of the storyline when the small, scrappy Rebel forces are thoroughly trounced by the Federation military... then played straight through the rest of the arc when the the pilot of the Rebel Cry, pushed one step too far by the Federation's punitive rules, steals back his own ship and proceeds to make monkeys out of (in order) a Federation battleship commander, an Federation battle fleet, and the all-powerful Federation itself...
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has done a few takes on the original story. One comic had David trying to point out that killing a guy, even a really big guy, by putting a rock through his head isn't really that impressive. Another has God intending the story to be a parable about technology beating brute strength, only for humans to instantly misinterpret it.

    Web Original 
  • In The Fate of Paul Twister, Paul muses that seeing trained slingers in action gives a whole new perspective to this story:
    Paul (narrating): It’s actually not at all surprising that David won! The only surprise is that the big, slow-moving guy in the heavy armor never seemed to realize just how screwed he was until it was too late! He had about as much chance of winning that fight as that poor fool who pulled a sword on Indiana Jones, and for the same basic reason.
  • In Twitch Plays Pokémon Red, one of the attempts at the battle with Lance included a one-on-one match between Red's Venomoth, ATV, and Lance's notoriously powerful Dragonite twenty-six levels higher than it. ATV poisoned Dragonite, and proceeded to take it down without suffering so much as a scratch. It did not end up being the winning run, but ATV had suddenly earned a lot of respect by the mob.
  • Taylor, the protagonist of Worm, frequently goes up against characters who massively outclass her in Super Weight, and wins (or at least survives) through analysis, improvisation, manipulation, and a sizable helping of viciousness.
  • As discussed by Seanbaby in one article, this is a common gimmick in various forms of MMA where a massively heavier competitor battles a relatively small one. However, he came to the conclusion that in the overwhelming majority of cases, befitting the trope, the smaller fighter tends to win—even in cases where they weighed only half as much as their opponent. He cites this as a mixture of factors: that level of Stout Strength only gets you so far, and it has its detriments (for instance, extremely large fighters tend to have low stamina, and while Kevlard may protect against body blows, the head remains vulnerable), and many large fighters are Unskilled, but Strong or specialized in the wrong sport (particularly sumo, which is hilariously ill-fitting as an MMA skillset). He cites the majority of victories as coming from Bob Sapp and Butterbean—the former (in his prime) being a rare case where most of his 400-pound weight was muscle, and the latter being a professional boxer; even with those two taken into account, the "little guy" fighter wins about two out of three times.

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Alternative Title(s): Giant Killing, David Vs Goliath


Holmes vs Dredger

Holmes may be a top-notch fighter, but he's no match for the enormous Dredger, whose implacable pursuit of his diminutive opponent is played for laughs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DavidVersusGoliath

Media sources: