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David vs. 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 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.)

If the villain is the underdog, you may be looking at Villainous Valour. If a monster is underestimated, see Killer Rabbit. Brutes easily lend themselves to being Goliaths but they are disqualified from that trope if they are also Large and in Charge. Conservation of Ninjutsu is when Goliath's superiority is in the numbers, while 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 Toying With Their Enemy.


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.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The basic premise of Angelic Layer revolves around Misaki coming to terms with being small and choosing a small Angel. Hikaru, naturally, never fights anyone smaller than she is; they're all bigger, heavier, and initially have a strong upper hand.
  • Nagisa vs. Takaoka in Assassination Classroom.
  • Deconstructed to absolutely horrifying degrees in Attack on Titan. Humanity are the underdogs in every way to the Titans, and this usually means a very gruesome death. On the other hand, the trope is played absolutely straight with Mikasa and Levi Ackermann, both coming from family line with Superpowerful Genetics. This allows them to devastate the ranks of normal Titans and even present a credible threat to the more dangerous Human-controlled ones. On the outside world, this is pretty much what non-Marley nations are when they're up against Marley, that is until technological improvements starts to level the playing field.
    • This image nicely sums up the entire concept.
  • Battle Angel Alita:
    • Alita is a female cyborg 5 foot tall and that doesn't appear to be more than 20. She routinely defeats foes many times her size (however, her battle style being designed to handle larger foes, said foes' overconfidence, and the fact that her bodies are most of the time advanced combat models are important factors). In almost every important battle she fought, she was stated as Weak, but Skilled (and lost to more skilled and stronger opponents), and the 2 important battles she was stronger, one she only won because her flesh-and-blood opponent though it'd be appropriate, and the other she toyed with her opponent until her body was hijacked by the superpower she was stealing her power source, and got punched to pieces. She survived and may get better...
    • Sechs taking on the Jovian seeded team by him/herself and putting up a fight (the first form of said "team" was about 500 meters wide, and got larger), Zazie and her relatively weak body (and tons of guns) fighting in the ZOTT semifinals and finals (where 2 superpowers try their latest MDW, and those LOST before the finals), and Caerula Sanguis fighting a cyborg with Chinese Swords.
  • Asta from Black Clover is very short, standing at 155 cm (5'1"), and fights against the tall and beastly Vetto, whose brute strength has to be sapped by Asta's anti-magic sword before he defeats him with Finral and Vanessa's help. This trope happens again when faces off against the tall, imposing Dante. Even moreso when Dante uses his Body Magic to turn gigantic and muscular when Asta fights him alongside Yami.
  • Diva's Chevaliers in Blood+ are more powerful than Saya's as the former receive much more blood.
  • Touma in A Certain Magical Index. Seriously, complete invulnerability to all supernatural powers sounds awesome, but let's think about this. A. It's his only power. B. Against non-powered opponents, if anything it works again him by influencing his luck. C. It doesn't protect him from the effects of said powers such as shrapnel. D. Using this ability means he can't use any sort of weaponry and therefore has to get into punching range of his opponent. E. It's only a single limb, not his entire body. Opponents so far: An esper with extremely potent electric abilities. An essentially all-powered magician able to draw on what is apparently the entirety of magical knowledge. A Reality Warper who can literally kill with a thought or do anything he thinks of. Accelerator, who can not only take a nuke head on but hit you back with it even harder. Fiamma of the Right, a magician who has an undodgeable and always lethal attack and can level cities without effort. The Archangel Gabriel, second most powerful angel in existence who can end all life on Earth in minutes. Basically, a partial immunity to their abilities on his side and street fighting skills. David Versus Goliath much? And naturally, any opponents who don't rely entirely on these abilities tend to crush him. Kanzaki and Tsuchimikado, basically, who go for a wide range of abilities instead of relying on the raw power of whatever their ability is.
    • Shiage is an even bigger underdog in his fights against superpowered enemies, he doesn't have any superpower at all. He becomes very interested in magic when he learns of it, but is quickly told that he can't use magic: while he's a Level 0, he's still an esper, and therefore incompatible with magic. Sucks to be him.
  • While most fights with the outclassed characters in Dragon Ball results in a straight up Curb-Stomp Battle, the exception occurs at the end of the Saiyan Saga. Son Gohan and Krillin end up having to stop Vegeta when Goku wasn't able to. Krillin and Gohan were no match for Vegeta's flunky Nappa (who Goku flattened), and even though Vegeta is injured out from his fight with Goku, he still has enough fight the two of them can't even scratch him. However, despite the odds, they manage to narrowly win after hitting him with leftover energy from Goku's Genkidama and Gohan using the artificial moon Vegeta created to turn into an Oozaru and injures him enough to force him to (barely) retreat.
    • In fact, Dragon Ball is one of the ultimate subverters of the trope. Vegeta, Freeza, Majin Buu and Beerus were either small characters or their final forms were not their largest. Not to mention Goku as a kid, who for most of his childhood looked like an eight year old, took down characters much bigger than him, especially Great Demon King Piccolo.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • The titular Eyeshield 21 vs. just about anyone he goes head to head with, especially Shin and Agon. In reality, however, neither Agon or Shin are especially tall, Sena's just that short.
    • A better example would be the lanky Mizumachi vs the stout Komosubi. Their entire challenge is about who is more stronger between a tall end a short guy.
  • Fist of the North Star: Kenshiro isn't exactly a small guy, but he usually takes on huge people, sometimes twice his size, and wins handily most of the time (keeping in mind that Raoh is also bigger than him).
  • Soccer manga and anime Giant Killing is basically about this: the protagonist is a coach whose mission is to bring a bottom-feeder Japanese team (for which he played in his professional career and was an idol before moving to an English team in the same situation) up to top contender level. The term "Giant Killing" redirects here because it is a common saying for this trope as applied to association football.
  • Kuroko's Basketball: Kuroko versus Murasakibara. To put this into perspective, Kuroko is 168 cm (5'6") and 57 kg (~126 pounds). Murasakibara is 208 cm and 99 kg (6'10" and 218 lbs). It's like pitting an adult against a child. If that wasn't bad enough, Murasakibara is physically the most gifted player in the league by an enormous margin, while Kuroko is inarguably the weakest starter Serin has, possibly the weakest player, physically, in the series. In real life, a mismatch of that degree wouldn't just be sad, it'd be outright dangerous for the smaller player. Nonetheless, Kuroko wins their one-on-one by using their disproportionate strengths and his lack of presence to make Murasakibara forget that he's being marked, and then ducks into the path of his movement to draw a foul as Murasakibara turns around carelessly.
  • Repeatedly for the eponymous character of Lyrical Nanoha. Fate: More experienced. Reinforce: More powerful. Vivio: More powerful. Thoma: ...Yeah. Bonus points for all of them being taller than her (in Fate's case, a little bit).
    • Nanoha's Expy Miura also tends to face Goliaths, all of them (Micaiah, Vivio and Erie) happen to be much taller than her. Both, Micaiah and Erie are much older and more experienced than her and they are also Inter-Middle favorites with a pretty good Inter-Middle record history. Micaiah is a One-Hit Kill expert, while Erie is a Beam Spam specialist, but Miura manages to defeat both of them with a very strong Finishing Move while she's on the edge of defeat. And her other opponent, Vivio, is only a little more experienced than her, but Vivio is also the main character of ViVid, who should be protected from Plot Armor. Even that isn't enough to make Miura fall. It does help that Miura is a Lightning Bruiser, while her opponents are either a Glass Cannon, a Fragile Speedster or a Squishy Wizard; with her being tough, fast and strong, she can endure most of their attacks until she retaliates with fast and powerful moves.
    • ViVid tends to avert this trope in general. Characters who are weaker or less experienced than their opponents cannot win against them.
  • Whenever Izuku "Deku" Midorya has to fight a supervillain in My Hero Academia; while monstrously strong, Midorya doesn't have complete control over his Quirk, and even if he did he's still a scrawny teenager going up against villains in their twenties and thirties who are a few heads taller than him. The most notable examples would be his fight against Muscular (who almost crushed him to death until a distraction gave Midorya a chance at a Heroic Second Wind) and Overhaul (who had used his Quirk to morph himself into a building-sized Kaiju; Midorya only won that fight because the little girl he was protecting had a Quirk that could heal the damage he causes to his limbs when using One For All at 100%, allowing him to cut loose without risk of crippling injury).
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Negi's fight with Jack Rakan. Negi was training most of the series to defeat a Knight of Cerebus named Fate Averruncus, and through some circumstances, he's fighting Jack, a character so overpowered that not only does Fate actively avoid fighting him, but considerable humor is made from how invincible he is. For the most, Negi is losing, Jack No Selling everything he does, Negi only surviving because Jack only wants to test him, not kill him, but he does manage to fight to draw by prodding Jack's ego and causing him to use an attack that Negi uses his new Energy Absorption trick that he came up with to take the power from and injure him enough that with the power he has left after putting everything into his Titan Slayer Spear move, he and Jack end up KO'ing each other.
  • One Piece has the protagonist Monkey D. Luffy do this constantly when he takes on foes who are renowned for their might.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • Parodied constantly when the main character Saitama goes up against creatures many times his own size, quite often reaching Kaiju proportions, nevertheless keeping him the overdog of every fight he's in because he defeats every opponent with no real effort. Some fights involving the stronger S-class heroes are portrayed like this as well.
    • Played straight with Saitama's fight against Crablante, as it was before he had his powers. Same goes for Mumen Rider vs. The Deep Sea King.
  • In many Pokémon battles, Ash's Pikachu is the David to Goliaths that include Dragonite, Tyranitar, Metagross, Regice, etc. Either Pikachu will pull off an underdog victory, or he'll go down after a grueling fight.
  • Referenced by name in Robotech where it compares the battle between the SDF-1 and the Zentraedi fleet to this.
  • In ∀ Gundam, this sums up the tense stand-off between Earth-bound humanity and the Moonrace. Which wouldn't be so bad except that the Moonrace is a technologically advanced society while the people on Earth have at best little more than World War I technology. Even though biplanes, artillery and concentrated attacks do some damage, it's not until the Turn A steps into the picture and the discovery of mobile suit caches from the Dark History that they actually stand a chance. We later find out that every single fight in the series is a David to the Turn A's Goliath since it's essentially the most powerful mobile suit ever built.
  • Thorfinn versus Thorkell in Vinland Saga, with no clear-cut victor in either of their two fights, though Thorkell concedes the second fight after Thorfinn tears out his eye.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Generally, this trope comes in whenever there is a duel between Yugi and his expies against Kaiba and his expies. Kaiba, Kaiser, Jack, Kaito and Reiji usually use monsters with high ATK, but none of them is Unskilled, but Strong — they are highly skilled. Yugi and his expies usually use monsters that are weaker in battle, but they use more combos to overcome their powerful foes. In the end, the winner is who is more skilled.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Manjoume's duel against his Corrupt Politician (and complete jerk) of a brother Chosaku clearly fit the Trope, but whether it was a straight example or an inversion is hard to determine, because it's hard to say who was David and who was Goliath. Chosaku was using a deck full of powerful Dragon beatsticks, while Manjoume had a deck full of monsters will only 0 Attack Points, and seeing as Manjoume won, the obvious answer is, the Trope was played straight. On the other hand... Seeing as Manjoume had built his deck using a careful and clever strategy, while Chosaku was sloppy and used almost no strategy other than "hit him with everything you have", you might argue that the opposite was true, and that Manjoume was more of a Goliath here than his Small Name, Big Ego brother ever could be.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V gives the straightest example the franchise can give with the Big Bad Zarc not only being the World Duel Champion but also has the power of a god due to fusing with his dragons vs Rei, a pro duelist armed with four cards meant to counter Zarc's power. Despite all odds, she was able to defeat Zarc, kick starting the series.

  • 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.

  • David Haye at 6'3" and 215 pounds took on the 7'0" over 22 stone (310 pounds) Nikolai Valuev, the heaviest boxer in history - 'Goliath Versus Bigger Goliath' if you will. Even though he broke his wrist in the attempt he came out on top.
    "He is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. I have watched Lord of the Rings and films with strange looking people, but for a human being to look like he does is pretty shocking." - Haye
    • Every match David Haye had at heavyweight, really. Audley Harrison, Monte Barrett, John Ruiz, Dereck Chisora, Mark de Mori, and Arnold Gjergjaj all outweighed Haye by between 10 and 40 pounds in their respective fights- and all of them got crushed. His athleticism, skill, and insanely disproportionate punching power carried him to victory. The exception was when he challenged unified world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who was actually faster, harder-hitting, and at least as skilled as Haye, on top of being 6'6 and 245 pounds. Haye lost handily, though it should be noted that unlike most of Wladimir's other opponents, Haye did manage to put in a decent showing by winning a few rounds and finishing the fight on his feet without major damage, which is a small victory.
  • Possibly the best example in boxing was Evander Holyfield vs Nikolai Valuev. Holyfield was a bit smaller than Haye; Valuev, as noted, was seven feet tall and weighed over three hundred and ten pounds. Valuev also ended his career with a 50-2 record (having never been knocked down, stopped, or even UD'd) and 34 knockouts, so Muscles Are Meaningless was definitely not in effect. On top of this, Holyfield was 46, practically ancient by boxing standards; even taking on a respectable contender his own size at that age would have been considered extremely impressive, much less a world heavyweight champion over a foot taller than him, whose weight advantage over Holyfield was bigger than the advantage Holyfield would hold over a flyweight. Despite this, Holyfield put up a damn good fight and only lost by a close majority decision- and many commentators still contend that he won the fight.
  • Inverted by Manny Pacquiao against the taller, longer-reaching Oscar de la Hoya on their December 8th, 2008 "Dream Match" for eight rounds. As ESPN's analysis put it in round 5, "Forget pull the trigger, De La Hoya doesn't even have a gun."
    • Inverted again, this time against Antonio Margarito in the Pacquiao Versus Margarito fight. Pacquiao did such a good job in the fight that pictures of a Asian boxer are currently going around while people claim it's really Margarito. It is.
  • Perhaps the most extreme examples (and one of the earlier ones caught on video) was the title bout between Jess Willard and Jack Dempsey in 1919. Many people thought the fight would be a mismatch as Willard had about 6 inches and 60 pounds on the smaller Dempsey. Instead Dempsey unleashed perhaps the most savage and brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in boxing history on Willard and forever etched his legend into boxing lore. To this day Dempsey's name is synonymous with the words ruthless and relentless in boxing circles, and many latter days fighters such as Mike Tyson purposefully adopted and imitated a number of Dempsey's mannerisms.
  • Speaking of Mike Tyson, he was exceptionally short for a heavyweight, with a short reach, meaning he was often the smaller fighter and yet routinely destroyed his opponents. While him losing to mid-level contender Buster Douglas at the height of his career is shocking, it is less so when you consider that Douglas had 4-5 inches of height, a lot of reach, and around 20 pounds of muscle on Tyson. Even more so when you consider that the death of Douglas' mother inspired Buster to make a once in a lifetime effort in the ring that night.
  • Rocky Marciano vs Joe Louis in 1951, both ways. On one hand, Louis was more experienced, stronger, and much bigger, at 6'2 and 214 pounds to Marciano's 5'10 and 184 pounds (that fight wouldn't even be allowed today due to the weight disparity; the cutoff for heavyweight was changed to 191 pounds in 1979 and 201 pounds in 2003). On the other, Marciano was younger by nearly a decade. Louis had in fact come out of retirement the previous year to fight Marciano, and while Louis wasn't totally out of practice (he had beaten eight fighters in the preceding year) and still possessed his signature power, his stamina and speed had noticeably degraded. Louis was slightly favored to win, and got in a few good licks early on, but Marciano came to dominate the fight and knocked Louis out in the eighth round.
  • Similar story with Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman in 1991. Both were top-ranked heavyweights, but Foreman had such a big advantage in both experience and size on Holyfield that it was ridiculous- he went into the fight at 257 pounds with a 69-2 record, while Holyfield was 208 pounds with a 25-0 record.note  The disparity is even greater when you consider only heavyweight experience, i.e. fights where their opponent weighed over 200 pounds (Holyfield was a former cruiserweight champion, not heavyweight, and Foreman's career started in an era where heavyweight started at 175 pounds instead of 200 pounds as it does today); in that case Foreman's record was 52-2 and Holyfield's was 7-0. Balancing this out was that Foreman was 42 years old while Holyfield was just shy of 30- while Foreman was if anything even stronger and tougher than he was in his youth (he did gain forty pounds, after all), he was also slower. While it wasn't totally one-sided, Holyfield consistently beat Foreman to the punch with his superior reflexes and had him severely hurt in the later rounds, while not allowing himself to fall victim to the One-Hit Kill Megaton Punch of his giant opponent as future champ Michael Moorer would. He outboxed Big George for a win by unanimous decision.

    Comic Books 
  • 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".
  • There have been times where the Hulk is in the David position. Of course, he's usually still the stronger one.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Smurfs versus Gargamel, or versus any human that is their designated villain.
  • 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.
  • Popeye's foes, especially Bluto, are far taller than him, but of course they always regret taking on the smaller sailor-man.
  • 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 .
  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.
  • The Ranma ½/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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Fighting Sports 
  • Randy Couture's Mixed Martial Arts victory over Tim Sylvia, a man seven inches taller, forty pounds heavier, and thirteen years younger. "Big man versus small man" MMA fights are very popular in Japan. Fedor Emelianenko (183 cm and 100 kilos) has faced and defeated the aforementioned Tim Sylvia (203 cm), Mark Hunt (125 kilos), Zuluzinho (201 cm and 177 kilos!), and Choi Hong-man (166 kilos and an unbelievable 218cm)... all in one round each. He also has a notable win by decision over Semmy Schilt (212 cm and 133 kilos). However, the smaller man in these matches is invariably far more skilled than his opponent and highly favored to win.
    • Eventually inverted in both men's cases. Couture moved back to Light Heavyweight after losing Heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar and Fedor was completely dominated by Antonio Silva (194 cm and 130 kilos). In early days of MMA big fighters usually coasted on their size (or in case of Hunt and Schilt were kickboxers with almost no grappling skill) and could be defeated by smaller, skilled guys. Modern Goliaths like Lesnar, Alistair Overeem, and Antonio Silva bring both size and skill, meaning former Heavyweight greats who weigh around 100 kg (Fedor, Mirko Cro Cop, Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira) are no longer as dominant as they used to be.
    • The secret is that unlike kickboxing an MMA fight can go to the ground, where the height and weight can sometimes be a disadvantage when grappling there. While Fedor basically slugged out Zuluzinho and Sylvia on their feet, Choi actually took Fedor down and Hunt almost submitted Fedor on the ground before he eventually came back to beat them on the ground.
    • There was also the 2009 Super Hulk Tournament where four guys of varying lighter weights were put up against four apparent behemoths — middleweight Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa against Bob Sapp, middleweight Gegard Mousasi against Mark Hunt, light heavyweight Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou against Jan "The Giant" Nortje, and the debuting ex-Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco against Choi Hong-man; with the exception of the untrained, mid-40s Canseco all of the "Davids" won, complete with Bob Sapp (getting a bye thanks to the "injured" Mousasi withdrawing) being eliminated twice, and the finals are between the middleweight Minowa and light heavyweight Sokoudjou.
  • These fights happen all the time in K-1 kickboxing, where the only weight classes are at 70kilos and unlimited. This has lead to such notable matchups like Mighty Mo (slightly over 6 feet) vs Choi Hong Man (towering over 7 feet), where Mo KO'd the Korean giant with a single punch, Kaoklai Kaennorsing (80 kilos) vs Mighty Mo (at 130 kilos), where Kaoklai knocked Mo out with a flying kick to the head, and Nicholas Pettas (at less than 6 feet) vs Kim Young Hyun (almost as big as the aforementioned Choi Hong Man) where Pettas thrashed the Korean giant with a fury of ruthless kicks.
    • Speaking of K-1, Kid Yamamoto of the now-defunct K-1 Hero's and now, DREAM promotions made it a point to fight at the 155 lb. weight class, while he walks around at 143 lbs and 5'4. He fights people who weigh in at 155 lbs. and regain all their water weight before the actual fight (We're talking 10 pounds or so, here). He has a record of 17-1 - I think you can figure out the rest. 20 pounds isn't that huge of a number but size definitely matters in this sport. That's why there ARE weight classes.
  • Somewhat a case of "Goliath Versus Bigger Goliath," but Cain Velasquez (6 foot 1, weighed in at 244) defeated Brock Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight championship (6 foot 3, weighed in at 264) when his wrestling skill was at least roughly on par with Lesnar's but his striking skill was that much better. (It should be noted that heavyweight has a much, MUCH wider range of allowed weights than any other weight class.)
  • Played straight and ultimately inverted by Royce Gracie. With an unimpressive-looking physique and anywhere from 175 to 180 pounds (he'd be a middleweight under the modern weight classes), he didn't look very imposing. In fact, that's why Rorion Gracie, the founder of UFC, chose him instead of Rickson to be their torchbearer, to prove that the style could overcome physical limitations. For a while, it looked like the classic scrappy-little-guy-finds-a-way-to-prevail story. Then a few ugly facts entered the, while he may not have been massive, he had tremendous speed, flexibility, stamina, and toughness, and he had tremendous strength for a middleweight. Not to mention that he was a master of ground fighting, something most of his opponents didn't know the first thing about. By the time UFC 5 rolled around, he was downright legendary, so much so that Ken Shamrock was frightened of him. This was almost certainly the main reason Gracie was able to escape with a draw in their matchup, as Shamrock (who actually had a pretty good chance of winning) was too intimidated to get any real offense going.

    Films — Animated 
  • Played with in Monsters vs. Aliens, where the David is the nearly 50-feet tall Ginormica, pitted against a 350-foot Humongous Mecha.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This trope makes frequent appearances for comedic effect in martial arts movies, where the hero must fight a towering character who cannot be affected by his "weak" attacks.
  • In the Hindi film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Surinder, a mild-mannered geek, engages in battle with a sumo wrestler in order to win a trip to Japan for his bride. After taking some abuse, Surinder won by hanging onto the wrestler's ankle and at just the right moment, when the wrestler had all his weight on the opposite leg, he was able to overbalance him and topple him to the ground like a ton of bricks.
  • Hoosiers is based on the true story of the tiny, country school of Milan (Hickory in the movie) defeating the big city school of Muncie Central (South Bend Central), a very rare feat given the advantages a bigger school would have. The movie even included a prayer before the championship game that featured the Bible verses of David versus Goliath.
  • The documentary Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story features Bruce Lee battling a demon clad in samurai armor.
  • During the climax of TRON, the villain Sark is enlarged by the Master Control Program until he towers over the hero, re-enacting "David Versus Goliath" quite literally.
  • Pretty much every Rocky movie have him as the underdog, against world champion Apollo Creed, rougher fighter Clubber Lang, downright murderous Ivan Drago, and the decades younger Mason "The Line" Dixon. Creed follows suit with both a world champion and Ivan Drago's equally strong son.
  • You would have thought the story of impoverished orphan newsboys going on strike against newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer was already an obvious David Versus Goliath story, but just so we didn't miss it, one of the main characters of Newsies is named "David", another character draws his attention to the coincidence ("As in David and Goliath?"), and then there's a further reference in one of the songs ("We'll slay the giant!").
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: Kitty Pryde, played by 5'1" Elliot Page, humiliates the Juggernaut, portrayed by 6'2" Vinnie Jones, by taking advantage of Leech's Power Nullifier ability. She tricks her much bigger foe into using his own momentum to knock himself out when he smacks his head against a wall.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: On a mental battlefield, Professor X faces off against a behemoth-sized Apocalypse, and unlike most other examples, this good vs. evil clash goes horribly wrong for the underdog hero. However, Xavier's situation is a little closer to the biblical tale because in the trope's description, it's stated that David admits he had won only because of Divine Intervention, so it's fitting that a "goddess" in the shape of the Phoenix comes to Charles' aid and becomes his weapon in his time of need.
  • Subverted in Avatar, where size and power differences are generally respected. Trudy's Scorpion plane realistically loses against Quaritch's Dragon flying fortress after he manages to flush her into open air (she was holding her own when hiding in the rocks), and the bullet-proof giant rhino things absolutely crush the tiny powered armor suits the humans use. It is played straight with Jake and the toruk, though.
    • Inverted at the end with Quaritch's last stand.
  • In Jurassic World, Owen's remaining Velociraptors take on the Indominus rex near the end of the film. In the end, it takes a Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, and Mosasaurus to finally bring the beast down. Also in the first film, with the aforementioned Tyrannosaurus taking on the last two raptors of Isla Nublar, allowing the humans to escape.
  • Used in many different ways in the Transformers Film Series. First off it depicts the human military as having reasonable success fighting against the Decepticons and thus depicts regular soldiers going up against robots that are, on average, 20 feet tall or bigger. It is also the first time in the franchise that they actively avoided Your Size May Vary and realistically showed that the highway vehicles the Autobots typically turned into would be dwarfed by the military and construction hardware the Decepticons became. Their largest warrior, Optimus, was a massive semi-truck and was still much smaller than most of the 'Con forces.
  • Star Wars:
    • Both times Luke Skywalker went against Darth Vader, who's taller, stronger, more experienced, and more powerful than him. He's more the underdog in The Empire Strikes Back than in Return of the Jedi, as by the latter film he's more or less Vader's equal in the Force, but in both cases, he's still a 5'7" man going up against a 6'7" cyborg, living up to the name.
    • Strictly going by size, 2'2", 13 kg Yoda vs 6'4", 86 kg Count Dooku, a man three times his height and seven times his weight. In terms of Force power, they're pretty even, but Dooku's greater reach gives him a distinct advantage, as Yoda has to expend tons of energy leaping around to fight him.
    • And the Death Star is very David and Goliath. Here, we have a couple dozen Rebel fighters, versus a space station the size of the moon.
    • Taken Upto Eleven in The Force Awakens when the Resistance (who were made even smaller after the First Order destroyed the system housing the New Republic) destroys Starkiller Base, a planet converted into a star-powered superweapon, which they show in the film as many, many times bigger than the Death Stars were. Though they do lose the majority of their fleet
    • In the Battle of Endor, Admiral Ackbar apparently didn't expect to destroy the Super Star Destroyer. As its bridge tower is on fire and it careens out of control into the Death Star, his bridge crew cheers and he just flops into his chair, jaw agape in disbelief as he watches it erupt into a fireball.
  • Like the title says, Facing the Giants has the Giants as the Eagle's Opposing Sports Team. Bonus points too, as the Giants contained 85 players compared to the Eagles' thirty-or-so players.
  • Ip Man versus the Twister in the second film is this very straight. The Hero may have got his badass cred down pat earlier, but the Twister is not only physically larger, he had destroyed the Old Master who fought Ip to a draw and killed him, so there is a definite underdog vibe.
  • The Verdict has a washed-up attorney representing a small family in their malpractice suit against the Archdiocese of Boston and a high-payed attorney with a large legal team.
  • The final fight of Real Steel with Atom, a Good Old Robot built specifically as a sparring robot souped up by a young Gadgeteer Genius and Zeus, the undefeated reigning champion that has always won within two rounds. The announcers even advertise it like this; while Atom doesn't win the fight, he's still considered the moral victor as he lasted longer than any prior opponents.
  • Invoked in Tower Heist when Miss Iovenko states her intention to essentially blackmail the FBI- and by extension the United States Government- in order to get a favourable outcome for the rest of the Tower employees on her third day as an officially-qualified lawyer.
  • Indiana Jones is usually the "David" in a fist-fight against a bigger opponent. It's particularly Played for Laughs in the "Arab Swordsman" scene from the first movie — Indy faces a large swordsman who pulls some Weapon Twirling with a Sinister Scimitar and calmly pulls out a gun and shoots him.
  • James Bond is often the David in his movies, facing a The Dragon often either stronger - Oddjob - or bigger - Jaws.
  • An inversion of this appears about halfway through The Incredible Hulk (2008 film), when the still-human SAS agent Emil Blonsky goes toe-to-toe with the Hulk in melee combat (thanks to a dose of Supersoldier serum). Similar to the Superman example, despite being the villain, Blonsky looks much cooler simply for being able to go up against the Hulk without being instantly killed (although the point where he abandons his mobility advantage is the point he ends up in a body cast).
  • Avengers: Endgame has this when Captain America, who's just a human with enhanced durability and strength, is forced to singlehandedly fight Thanos, one of the strongest beings in the universe, once his fighting partners Iron Man and Thor are taken out. However, once Cap manages to combine his borderline indestructible shield with Thor's hammer Mjölnir, he manages to stand his ground until Thanos overpowers him.
  • The Punisher (2004) with Frank Castle as the David. The Goliath is The Russian, a hulking brute of a man at least a head taller than Frank, who is Made of Iron and doesn't even flinch from being stabbed by Franks' switchblade or being hit by a crowbar. The battle finally, finally turns in to Frank's favour when both combatants crashes into a kitchen, and Frank managed to fling a saucepan of boiling water into the Russian's face.
  • Everyone vs the Giantess in Into the Woods.
  • Tommy Jarvis vs. Jason Voorhees
  • Referenced in It's a Wonderful Life, when a real estate agent warns Mr. Potter that the Bailey Building and Loan is cutting into Potter's business; "Your Potter's Field, my dear Mr. Employer, is becoming just that. And are the local yokels making with those David and Goliath wisecracks!"
  • Yin Yang vs. Gunnar Yensen in The Expendables, with Yin Yang as the David and Gunnar as the Goliath. Later, Barney vs. Paine and Toll Road vs. Paine. In those fights, Barney and Toll Road are the David and Paine is the Goliath.
  • Max vs. Rictus in the climax of Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Miracle is the story of the United States men's ice hockey team consisting of college-aged players from several very heated rivalry schools (especially Boston University and Boston College) in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid as major underdogs, especially when facing off against the Soviet Union. A Soviet Union team that had won gold at every Olympics since 1964 and less than two weeks prior had kicked their ass in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden 10-3.
  • Independence Day has an invincible fleet of alien spaceships proceeding to wipe out human cities, and after the world's militaries fail to stop them, the person who figures out a clever way to defeat the aliens is a nerdy Jewish cable repairman named David.
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), relatively speaking, Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra are all significantly smaller in size compared to Ghidorah. This backfired against Rodan when he engaged in aerial combat against Ghidorah, with Ghidorah easily overpowering Rodan.

  • Jack the Giant Killer
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Hop-o'-My-Thumb
  • The Brave Little Tailor
  • Hansel and Gretel versus the Witch
  • The Three Little Pigs versus the Big Bad Wolf
  • Peter versus the Wolf
  • Renfield vs. Dracula
  • 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.
  • 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 lose.
    • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the episode "Valiant", the titular Defiant-class ship goes up against a Dominion super-battleship in every way their superior, confident that they (a literal cadet crew, caught behind enemy lines when the war started and the senior officers killed) can exploit a design weakness to destroy it. However, it doesn't work, and the ship is appropriately stomped. That's what happens when your crew is called Red Squad.
    • In another episode, Sisko takes a parallel-universe Defiant and defeats a much larger, much heavier armed battleship. The Defiant's smaller profile and maneuverability win out over the larger ship, flying so close to the thing they couldn't get a lock on it. The main difference is that Sisko is the one in command, and his skill and experience (and some backup from the Mirror Bashir and Dax) allow him to pull off what Red Squad would later fail at.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Absolute Candor", La Sirena versus Kar Kantar's Bird-of-Prey, with a surprise assist from Seven of Nine; the heroes in their small vessels manage to disable the warlord's larger ship.
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", the Coppelian Orchids are dwarfed by the Borg Cube, but three of them are able to neutralize the Artifact and drag it down to the planet surface.
  • In That '70s Show Kelso attempts to beat up a guy who Jackie kissed (totally ignoring the fact that he's done far worse with other girls at the drop of a hat), but he and his friends are quite shocked to find he's just picked on a black belt.
  • Most ancient matches of Deadliest Warrior have a fast, lighter warrior fighting a larger, stronger warrior.
  • The series Kings is a modern-day retelling of the David story. In the pilot, plucky young soldier David Shepherd goes behind enemy lines to rescue some hostages - one of whom turns out to be the crown prince - and single-handedly goes up against a "Goliath" tank.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus "Scott of the Antarctic" sketch. Scott does this while facing the 20-foot high Electric Penguin, even the extent of taking off his jock strap and using it as a sling.
  • Villainous example, inverted: In the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, normal-size Tommy has a typical Curb-Stomp Battle with four Rangers (Jason being captured), and they summon the Megazord, which quickly overpowers him. When he is later grown to giant size by Rita, he returns the favor.
  • Prince James vs. The Brute in Once Upon a Time. Like Oberyn vs. Gregor, this doesn't end well for either man.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Pretty much every fight the Mountain gets in is one of these (the actor is a multiple-time World's Strongest Man, the book version is medically speaking a giant at eight feet tall). While he does messily destroy Oberyn Martell (a Fragile Speedster), it was a Mutual Kill that ended in his returning as an even stronger Technically Living Zombie, and ruling out anyone relying on Trial by Combat to overturn Cersei's decisions. As of the final season he gets into another such fight with his brother Sandor, who ends up dropping the both of them hundreds of feet into a burning city.
    • Lampshaded and averted when Littlefinger gives his backstory, in which he fought a duel for the hand of the woman he loved. Unfortunately, Littlefinger lost out to the betrothed of the woman he loved, and he realises he's got to play things his way.
    "So I challenged him to a duel. I mean why not — I'd read all the stories. The little hero always beats the big villain in all the stories. In the end, she wouldn't even let him kill me. [snip] Do you know what I learnt, losing that duel? I learnt that I'll never win. Not that way. That's their game, their rules. I'm not going to fight them, I'm going to fuck them. That's what I know, that's what I am. And only by admitting what we are can we get what we want."
  • Knight Rider: Garthe Knight drives a Big Badass Rig he named Goliath, which is made of the same nearly indestructible alloy KITT is made of. In their first battle, Goliath wrecked KITT, but Michael and KITT were able to win both rematches.
  • Survivor did David vs. Goliath as a theme for their 37th season of Survivor, pitting a group of underdog people with hard lives against people who live successful and rich lives. Much like the biblical story, a David ultimately managed to win.
  • The first episode of World on Fire features the Real Life example of the Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig (now Gdansk). This trope is also name dropped when Nancy Campbell comments on the inequality between the German Army and the Polish Army:
    Nancy: You know what the Poles have got? Bicycles. You know what the Germans have got? Tanks! Panzers. I reported on David versus Goliath in Spain, it didn't turn out like it did in the Bible.
  • In the Ultra Series, more often than not the main Ultra will be pitted against the Monster of the Week which is at least a head taller than the Ultra. And sometimes, they will be fighting against Dai-kaiju, monsters which absolutely towers over the various Ultramen.
    • From Return of Ultraman, there is Ultraman Jack defeating Vacummon, a planet-devouring monster the size of galaxies, by flying into the monster's mouth and destroying its guts from the inside.
      • In the same series, later on Jack fights against Paragon, an Illusion Master kaiju which, although not the size of a mountain as it initially appears, is at least 4 times larger than Jack and towers massively over the Ultra. Jack defeats Paragon nonetheless.
    • In Ultraman Story, which is the compilation film of Ultraman Taro, Taro single-handedly defeats the hulking and nigh-unstoppable behemoth of a kaiju called Grand King by absorbing the powers from all his brothers.
    • The final arc of Ultraman Tiga have Ultraman Tiga unlocking his Golden Super Mode, which allows him to completely obliterate Ghanathor, an ancient evil that existed before time and absolutely dwarves the Ultra.
    • From Ultraman Gaia comes Zogu, the Big Bad and Fundamental Destruction Angel, whose true form is a bipedal, dragon-like monstrosity capable of stomping Ultramen like ants. Ultraman Gaia and Ultraman Agul eventually defeats her despite the sheer differences in size.
    • The final kaiju of Ultraman Max is Berserkes, an ancient juggernaut of a machine created by the Delos civilization, and can be described as a city-sized mechanical dai-kaiju. Max defeats it after an insane amount of effort in the end.
  • Season 3 of The Expanse has the former MCRN frigate Pinus Contorta (formerly the Rocinante) engage an unnamed UNN Leonidas-class battleship. While MCRN ships are typically better than their UNN counterparts, it's still a fight between a frigate and a battleship — completely different weight classes. Through some ingenious maneuvering and novel use of torpedoes, the Contorta is able to outmaneuver and disable the larger warship.
  • Happens all the time in Doctor Who, with the Doctor (a lone Martial Pacifist who Doesn't Like Guns, with almost no powers beyond Super Intelligence and Resurrective Immortality) against armies and empires. Result? Almost every time, the Doctor wins.
    Dalek 1: But you have no weapons! No defenses! No plan!
    The Doctor: Yeah! And doesn't that scare you to death?
  • In Robot Wars the House Robots were producer-created enforcer robots that weren't built with any regard for the restrictions placed on competitors and used as rolling hazards and executioners of competitors that had been counted out. Occasionally the contestants would have a go at the House Robots themselves and sometimes even beat them, particularly the lighter ones like Shunt and Matilda, but the big boys Sir Killalot and Mr. Psycho were normally too much for even the most foolhardy roboteers to take on. However, during the Commonwealth Carnage event in the Extreme 2 series, the 99kg Firestorm IV tried to get under Mr. Psycho (who weighed 750kg) as he was disposing of Firestorm's beaten opponent, Panic Attack, and, well... it's the page video for a reason.
  • In MasterChef, season 9 contestant Shanika refers to the story after being picked to go head-to-head in episode 14 in a black forest cake challenge where the odds were against her (her opponent Emily is a strong cook who also specializes in baking, she was chosen by Emily specifically to be knocked out, and was allergic to the main ingredient (chocolate) so she couldn't taste her dish to be sure it was presentable)...and winning.
    Shanika: David has beat Goliath.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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. note note  The application of this trope in the story has suffered somewhat from Technology Marches On; a sling is not a slingshot, it hits like a bullet. What David did was essentially the same thing as pulling out a pistol and shooting Goliath in the face; compare the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones immediately grabs his revolver and disposes of the goon waving a sword at him. It was also something of a cultural in-joke; Hebrew militia units frequently deployed slings in large numbers thanks to shepherds using them against predators.

  • How David Beats Goliath is an article in The New Yorker about this trope and its subversions. It talks mainly about a girls' basketball team reaching the National Junior Basketball Championships due solely to the full-court press (Instead of the 'normal' method of immediately retreating to guard your own basket when the other team has possession, the full-court press is aggressively defending against the other team in their own court.) The main reason that the full-court press worked is that it wears down both teams' stamina much faster - and the girls' team had worked almost solely on building stamina. The girls' team rode roughshod over other teams with taller girls and better shooting technique due to the fact that the other team couldn't get shots off due to having the ball stolen when they weren't expecting it, or losing possession for not bringing the ball back into play or in the other team's court fast enough. In some cases, they had 25-0 leads over other teams. The girls were then castigated by the other teams for playing 'unfairly' and not letting the teams 'develop basketball skills' - to the degree that fights nearly broke out. The team then lost its final game by caving to pressure and playing the 'proper' way after the referee (supplied by the opposing team) called excessive amounts of fouls. The general moral of the story is that when David plays by Goliath's rules, David usually gets crushed. However, by changing his tactics, David can become the favorite over Goliath. However, Goliath will respond in kind by using social pressure to force David to fight by Goliath's rules.
  • Essentially the reason why a lot of people dislike or even hate certain successful sports sides like Manchester United (association football) or Australia (many sports, but especially cricket). Also part of the reason why "Stop Having Fun" Guys get on people's nerves: many if not most people prefer siding with underdogs.
    • Any team playing the New York Yankees, but specifically, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • Super Bowl III. The AFL was largely considered a second-rate league behind the NFL and had lost the previous two Super Bowls to that league. The AFL champion New York Jets were now handed the daunting task of taking on the Baltimore Colts, a 13-1 team that would overwhelm opponents with stingy defense and potent offense. The Colts were favored by a ridiculous 22 point spread, but that didn't stop Jets quarterback Joe Namath from guaranteeing a win. The Jets would go on to shock the world, winning 16-7.
  • Super Bowl XXXVI. The St. Louis Rams were coming off a 14-2 season with the NFL's top offense, the league MVP Kurt Warner, and the Offensive Player of the Year Marshall Faulk. They were just one year removed from winning one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time, and were largely considered a better squad than 1999. They would have to play against a scrappy New England Patriots squad that came in at 11-5, barely (and controversially) won their two playoff games to reach the big game, was led by a backup quarterbacknote  after their starter severed an artery in his chest, and were 0-2 in Super Bowls prior. The Patriots had to play 60 minutes of near-perfect football to do it, but they escaped with a 20-17 win in the final seconds.
  • Super Bowl XLII is an absolutely perfect example of this trope. The New England Patriots (boasting what many called the greatest offense in NFL history), led by quarterback Tom Brady (league MVP by a large margin, with stats worthy of some deeming his 2007 season the best ever of any NFL quarterback) and Randy Moss (who had scored the most touchdowns of any wide receiver in NFL history that year), went undefeated in the regular season, a 16-0 mark that no other team had ever accomplished, and on top of that, defeated the same New York Giants they would face in the Super Bowl in Week 17 of the regular season in what was an extremely climactic battle. Their opponents, the aforementioned Giants, were a Wild Card team who had barely made it into the Playoffs, had to eke out wins in the post-season on the road by slim margins, and had many players sidelined by injury. The Giants, however, used their effective pass rush to force Tom Brady into quick throws. The Patriots were unable to score the large amount of points they were accustomed to, and this kept the Giants in the game. Despite Brady still performing at a high level in the game, his team scored only two touchdowns (in ironic fashion, before the big game, Brady literally laughed at the fact that Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress claimed that the Patriots would only score 17 points in the Super Bowl— the team averaged roughly 35 points per game in the regular season). The Giants would win the game after an improbable play in which Eli Manning escaped the grasp of numerous would-be New England tacklers and hurled the football down the field, which was caught by David Tyree by pinning it against his own helmet as New England's Rodney Harrison forcefully tackled him and attempted to pry the ball loose. New York would then score the winning touchdown and force a turnover on downs as the Patriots attempted to get in field-goal range with 29 seconds remaining.
  • Super Bowl XLIII: The Arizona Cardinals, a franchise known for its inability to go to the playoffs and who has the second longest championship drought in American professional sports, facing off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, quite well known for their ability to make it to Super Bowls. In fact, they've been to more Super Bowls than any other team in the league minus the Cowboys. The Cardinals nearly won on a valiant, almost inhuman fourth-quarter effort by receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but the Steelers came back and earned a 27-23 win to obtain their sixth Super Bowl.
  • In college Football September, 1 2007 Appalachian State (a Division I-AA school) defeated #5 ranked Michigan. At Michigan!
  • Also in college Football, 2006 Fiesta Bowl. Boise State-Oklahoma. Heck, when the broadcast team openly acknowledge the trope ("This is truly a David and Goliath situation" etc), and an undefeated team goes up against one of the winningest teams in the history of the sport. And pulls off one of THE most improbable and thrilling wins....yeah, I think it qualifies.
  • In College Basketball March 26, 2006. University of Connecticut, a team with 6 players that would be drafted in the NBA, a 1 seed in their bracket in the NCAA tournament, and the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing, takes on George Mason, a school that had only 3 tournament appearances before the 2006 tournament. The Patriots, no relation to the cheaters from New England mind you, shock everyone with an 86-84 overtime victory, sending them to the Final Four and UConn players to the coldness of the NBA.
  • The ultimate David in the 1980 US Hockey team, a bunch of College kids that defeated the all mighty Soviet team...after getting creamed by THE SAME TEAM 13 days earlier.
  • Baseball has this at times, but the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays have to take the cake. They play in the AL East division, home to the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (teams with virtually limitless coffers and very solid teams; their payrolls are about $200 million and $150 million, respectively). With a payroll of ~$40 million, they win the AL East outright, and they make it to the World Series before losing to the Phillies after being tabbed as the underdogs in every round (especially the AL Championship Series, which they barely took over the Red Sox).
  • Football (Soccer) has a version of this which is known by fans and insiders as Giant Killing, where a small team who would usually have no chance of beating a huge team will pull it off. The FA Cup is usually where to find it, happens more than you might imagine...
    • Great example was the 2011 Women's FIFA World Cup. Two times champion United States, home of great players such as Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe, pulled many victories such as defeating the strong Brazilian team in a 122 minute plus penalties match, was in the finals against Japan, which reached there mostly through upsets (including defeating home team and defending champions Germany). Amazingly, the American Amazon Brigade that towered over the Japanese (literally. Some of the above-listed names are almost 6 ft, while the average height of the Japanese players was under 5'5'') failed to score only on seemingly endless opportunities and the Nadeshiko Japan resisted until the penalty shootouts, which they won.
    • The 2004 European Championship saw an extraordinary feat of serial giant-killing. Greece arrived as rank outsiders, having only qualified once before when they were knocked out at the group stage. They were widely expected to repeat this feat. But they won their first group match against the hosts, Portugal. Still, they only just reached the quarter-finals ahead of Spain and Russia, and only beat Spain on goals scored. Nobody expected them to win their quarter-final against France, the defending champions and one of the pre-tournament favourites. But they did, and found themselves up against the Czech Republic in the semi-final. The Czechs were considered the form team, having won all three of their group matches and having won their quarter-final 3-0. Surely Greece couldn't beat them? They could, and reached the final. Could they somehow possibly be able to beat Portugal on their own soil for a second time? Yup, somehow they did, and took the trophy home.
    • The legendary Alcorconazo, in which the most successful European side in history, Real Madrid, were swept away by third-tier Alcorcón in the Spanish King's Cup. By the 50th minute of the first leg, the score read Alcorcón 4 - 0 Real Madrid. Madrid, in fact, did not score until the 80th minute of the second leg, when the outcome was already all but settled.
  • Not entirely uncommon in roller derby; some smaller players have made an art out of taking out larger ones. It involves a certain level of momentum and landing a shoulder check in just the right place, in such a way as to lift the other player into the air without very much effort. And, since most jammers are the smallest, lightest players on any given team, pretty much every jam involves a certain level of David v. Goliath for them to get through the pack in the first place.
    • Roller derby also has inversions at times; while jammers are typically small, super fast players who can get through the pack without being hit at all, some teams have "heavyweight jammers," large women who are nearly impossible to knock down, who can clear their own path, or who can wipe smaller jammers clean off the track.
  • The 2010 Seattle Seahawks were the first NFL team in a non strike shortened year to win a division with a losing record. Their playoff game was against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. How much of an underdog were they? Before the game The Onion posted a picture of the Seahawks with the caption, "Saints get first round bye." Despite being double-digit underdogs, Seattle pulled out the victory propelled by an amazing touchdown run, leading to the infamous headline, "New Orleans Saints Lose First Round Bye."
  • The 2001 World Series featured The New York Yankees who were playing for the 4th consecutive World Series vs the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were playing their fourth season. Despite multiple comebacks from the Yankees and having to face the greatest closer in baseball history, the Diamondbacks prevailed
  • The Louisville women's basketball team faced several Goliaths during their 2013 NCAA tournament run.
    • A 5-seed entering the tournament, the Cardinals won their first two games to make the Sweet 16. There they met Baylor, the reigning national champions who were 74-1 over the past 2 seasons (with the only loss coming against #4 Stanford when their second best player was injured). Bonus points for Baylor having a literal Goliath on their roster, 6'8" player of the year, Brittney Griner. Louisville played a very physical game to limit Griner, and made a tournament record 16 3-pointers to find themselves up late in the game. One of the game's signature moments was when Louisville point guard Shoni Schimmel, nearly a foot shorter than Griner, drove on her, scored, drew a foul, and turned to briefly stare Griner down. After Schimmel fouled out with 4 minutes to go, the Cards remained in the game, but fell behind with 9 seconds to go. They then drove the length of the court and drew a foul. Monique Reid, a player who had missed a key free throw only minutes earlier, was taking the shots. She made both, and Louisville pulled off what many thought was an impossible upset.
    • In the Elite 8, they met Goliath #2, Tennessee. The Lady Vols had won 8 national championships in their history, more than any other team of the time. It was an admittedly down year for the program, but they were still a very good team. Louisville built up a lead and managed to hang on in the second half to get another upset, and advanced to the Final Four.
    • In the Final Four, they faced Cal. Not as much of a Goliath as the other two, but still a good team and favored to beat the Cardinals. After falling behind by 10 points at the half, Louisville made a comeback and took the lead late in the game, ultimately winning and becoming the lowest seed ever to reach the championship game.
    • In the National Championship, they faced powerhouse UConn, a program with (at the time) 7 national championships, and a team that had beaten Louisville handily during the regular season. A win against this Goliath would secure their run as the greatest in tournament history. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, reality ensued, and they wound up on the losing end of the largest blowout in championship game history.note 
  • The NCAA Men's Tournament in general features several opportunities in the early rounds for David to fell Goliath before Goliath gets a chance to make a deep run. More often than not, another Goliath restores order as early as the second round, though David occasionally runs as far as the Final Four.
    • The 1985 Villanova Wildcats were a rare David to run the full March Madness gauntlet. The Big East emerged as a powerful conference in short order after their inception in the 1979–80 season. The Georgetown Hoyas and St. John's Red Storm pressed forward as championship favorites while the Wildcats were an afterthought, entering the Big Dance with an 18-9 regular-season record (9-7 vs Big East opponents).
      • The Mideast 8-seed Wildcats first edged out 9-seed Dayton 51-49. Dayton played on their home court in the game.
      • Nova then took down 1-seed Michigan 59-55. Michigan featured eventual first-round selections Roy Tarpley and Gary Grant.
      • Nova then upset 5-seed Maryland 46-43 in a Mideast semifinal.
      • The Wildcats defeated 2-seed North Carolina, a perennial power, 56-44 in the Mideast final.
      • In the semifinals, they bested Midwest 2-seed Memphis State (since renamed the University of Memphis) 52-45.
      • In the national championship game, the Wildcats faced off against Georgetown, who featured Patrick Ewing, David Wingate Jr. and Reggie Williams in their starting five. The Hoyas became heavy favorites after settling one final score with West 1-seed St. John's 77-59. Behind two late free throws and an intercepted pass in the closing seconds, Villanova upset Georgetown 66-64 and emerged with the program's first national title. They were the lowest seed ever to win an NCAA Tournament.
    • Other notable Davids:
      • The 1986 LSU Tigers, the first 11-seed to reach the Final Four, still tied for the lowest seed to do so. It took them two overtime periods just to get past their first opponent, 6-seed Purdue, but they kept rolling after that, and unlike future 11-seeds, they went through the toughest possible path, facing the 3-seed, 2-seed, and 1-seed in the following three rounds (the three later ones would face a 7, 10, and 7, in chronological order, in the Sweet 16 rather than a 2, and the most recent one played a 9 in the Elite Eight instead of a 1).
      • The 2002 Missouri Tigers, the only team seeded 12 or lower to reach the Elite Eight. While this accomplishment is slightly dulled by the fact that unlike most 12-seeds who reach the Sweet 16, they were spared from playing a 1-seed, it should also be noted that the 8-seed that took care of said 1-seed the previous round was UCLA, the most successful program in the sport's history.
      • The 2011 VCUnote  Rams. Five years after George Mason's run (see above), the Rams, coming from the same conference,note  were considered a controversial at-large pick, but due to the newly expanded field, they had to play in the "First Four", forcing them to win just to reach the Round of 64. They easily handled their fellow borderline at-large selection, then crushed their next two opponents, 6-seed Georgetown and 3-seed Purdue. They struggled with fellow low seed Florida State, a 10-seed, in the Sweet 16, but rebounded to beat top seed Kansas, 71-61, to reach the Final Four, whereupon they ran into...
      • The Butler Bulldogs. Already notable after losing in the Championship Game the previous year as a 5-seed, the Bulldogs, like the Rams a "mid-major" team, were an 8-seed in 2011. The 8-vs.-11 was by far the lowest seeding matchup ever in a Final Four game. The Bulldogs lost the Championship Game to Connecticut, who was a "mighty" 3-seed from a power conference... in which they'd been the 9-seed in the conference tournament, forcing them to play the maximum five games to take the conference title, which they did.Postscript 
      • The 2013 Wichita State Shockers, another lower-half-of-the-bracket, mid-major team that made the Final Four. They aren't as strong an example since their path through the region featured a pure David (13-seed La Salle, which managed to pull a pair of upsets of their own to reach the Sweet 16, also having to get through the First Four to even make the Round of 64) and a David-turned-Goliath (Gonzaga, a mid-major darling in the late 1990s, had seen their rise to basketball powerhouse culminate with a 1-seed in 2013, which ended with the 9th-seeded Shockers sending them packing in the Round of 32).Postscript 
      • The 2013 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. They became just the seventh 15-seed in tournament history to upset a 2-seed (Georgetown) in the Round of 64, then took it a step further than the previous six by upsetting 7-seed San Diego State to reach the Sweet 16.
      • The 2016 Syracuse Orange. Unlike the other members of this list save for the two sets of Tigers, the 10th-seeded Orange came from a major conference, and their run was at first seemingly a fluke of getting upsets to happen in front of them: 2-seed Michigan State, which was actually considered the favorite to win the region, was bounced in the first round by Middle Tennessee (the first 15-2 upset since FGCU's run), and Gonzaga, back in their old stomping grounds as a dark horse, reached the Sweet 16 as an 11-seed. Even their first opponent, 7-seed Dayton, wasn't from a major conference. Then they ran into the champion of their own conference, top seed Virginia, in the Elite Eight, and won, becoming the first 10-seed to reach the Final Four.
      • The 2018 tournament was loaded with these... especially in the South Region, which we'll get to in a bit.
      • The other three regions had a few surprises, though they were ultimately won by two 1-seeds (Villanova in the Midwest and Kansas in the East) and a 3-seeded traditional power (Michigan in the West). In the Midwest, Syracuse made the field as a very controversial 11-seed (i.e., not a few commentators believed they shouldn't have been in the tournament) in the Midwest and got to the Sweet 16; Marshall scored a big upset over Wichita State in the East; and Michigan beat 9-seed Florida State in the regional final after the Seminoles had taken down 1-seed Xavier and 4-seed Gonzaga in the prior two rounds. Now, we'll get to the South...
      • In Thursday's first-round action, Loyola–Chicago took down Miami (the one in Florida) on a buzzer-beater in an 11-over-6 upset, and 13-seed Buffalo blasted 4-seed and trendy Final Four pick Arizona.
      • Friday's first-round action saw unquestionably the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA (men's) tournament. Ever since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no 16 seed had ever beaten a 1 seed.note  Enter UMBC.note  The Retrievers faced top overall tournament seed Virginia... and didn't just beat them, but turned it into a Curb-Stomp Battle, never trailing in the second half on their way to a 20-point win.
      • In the second round, Loyola used another last-second shot to beat 3-seed Tennessee, and Nevadanote  took down 2-seed Cincinnati. Reality ensued for UMBC, which lost a hard-fought game to 9-seed Kansas State. Still, all this made the 2018 South the first region in the history of the men's tournament in which none of the top four seeds made it to the Sweet 16.
      • The insanity continued at the regional site in Atlanta. In the Elite Eight, K-State took down the region's top remaining seed, traditional superpower Kentucky, and Loyola scored another last-second win over Nevada. This resulted in the first 9-and-11 matchup ever in a regional final... which Loyola won by double digits. Loyola's run not only made them the fourth 11-seed to get to the Final Four, but also turned their team chaplain, 98-year-old nun Sister Jean, into a national and even international media sensation.
  • Marion Bartoli does this with some regularity. Her 2013 Wimbledon win, however, is not a good example; Bartoli won the title over lower-seeded Sabine Lisicky, who arguably did most of the giant-killing by beating Serena Williams and 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwańska.
  • The 1960 World Series: The Pittsburgh Pirates were grossly outmatched by a New York Yankees team who outscored, outhit and outplayed them in almost every category except wins. The Yankees defeated them in three of the games with scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0 but the Pirates' victories were close (and the Yankees still outhit the Pirates in 3 of those 4 wins). Game 7, which the Pirates won 10-9, was the first to have the series end on a game-winning home run.
  • The 2019 Washington Nationals had this happen twice during their postseason run:
    • After making the playoffs as the first wild card, few expected the Nationals to get past the Los Angeles Dodgers, the number one seed in the National League and the team with 2nd best record in the 2019 MLB regular season, especially because they had a history of underperforming in elimination games and had not made it into the National League Championship Series in their franchise history; indeed, the Dodgers shut out the Nationals in Game 1 of the Divisional Series. However, the Nationals took Game 2, and after a loss in Game 3, the Nationals won two straight to advance to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history; where they proceeded to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals.
    • And then the Nationals faced the Houston Astros, who had the best record in the major leagues. The Nationals took Games 1 and 2 in Houston, and returned home to lose the next three games. Returning to Houston, the Nationals won Game 6 and 7 back in Houston for their first World Series championship in franchise history.
  • The 2020 Carolina Hurricanes had this happen during a regular season NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after both of their goalies went down with injuries and they had to resort to the EBUG -Emergengy Back-Up Goalie- who was a 42-year-old Zamboni driver who worked for the Leafs note . David Ayres -the EBUG in question- allowed goals on the first two shots that he faced before stopping the next eight shots on goal and Caroline won the game 6–3, David Ayres becoming the first emergency goaltender to record a win in NHL history. The match lives in infamy with the Leafs fanbase to this day.

    Tabletop 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • The entire premise of Shadow of the Colossus. The hero, an ordinary young man, fights a series of creatures ranging in size from a large bull, to a literal skyscraper... and wins, mostly due to being clearly Made of Iron. Plus some help from a horse that's apparently Made of Adamantium.
  • Empire at War: The Rebel Alliance specialize in using fighters and bombers to destroy menacing star destroyers (indeed, bombers are the only way to take out a Super Star Destroyer) and also small fast corvettes for Hit-and-Run Tactics. On the ground, a few rebel infantry with rocket launchers can annihilate an AT-AT walker, only to get stepped on or run over by it's supporting units.
  • In Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, protagonist Little Mac fights a series of boxers who are all at least twice his size.
  • In House of the Dead, there's always at least one fight, most times more than once, where the two not-so-physically-imposing AMS agents face off against a giant behemoth (Chariot in the original, Strength in II, Death in III, and Temperance in IV).
  • Kishima Kouma as Goliath vs. Nanaya Kirei as David. Kouma has essentially no skill whatsoever because he doesn't need any. His skin is tougher than steel, he can punch through trees effortlessly and doesn't tire. Kiri is essentially the most skilled assassin on Earth. Unfortunately, he's an assassin and not a magus or anything like that, so he's reduced to hammering at one side of Kouma's neck and then hitting the other to try and break it. The difference in skill is so huge that his opponent doesn't even realize he almost died with that attack. Key word: Almost. Goliath wins. Foregone conclusion, though, if you've played Tsukihime.
  • Two major fights in Fate/stay night. The first on the horribly unbalanced seeming nature of the fight is Shirou Vs Berserker which is won due to an 11th-Hour Superpower projection of Caliburn plus Saber's assistance. The second is less jarring in appearance but a far bigger upset in actuality when Shirou takes down Gilgamesh essentially singlehanded, chopping his arm off and about to deliver the final blow before the Grail opens on him and Archer has to save Shirou from trying a Taking You with Me.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Climax UC. Have fun fighting the Psyco Gundam with your Gundam Mark II.
  • Final Fantasy XIII. The Adamantoises and Long Gui are ridiculously huge compared to the party.
    • Hell, just about everything is significantly bigger than your party. Behemoths, anyone?
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • No More Heroes and its sequel: we have bosses using huge laser cannons (Speed Buster), a huge sentient earthquake machine (Letz Shake) and a crazed tycoon that first bloats into a hulking bloke, and eventually inflates to the size of a blimp(Jasper Batt Jr.)
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, you have the battle between the outdated, and damaged Metal Gear Rex, versus the Anti-Metal Gear unit, Metal Gear Ray. Despite having the better machinery, Snake still manages to defeat Liquid and his Ray. However, it's only because he let him win.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Scout and the Heavy have a fierce in-universe rivalry. The Scout is a beanpole-thin, short guy, while the heavy is a huge muscleman. Of course, which is the hero and which is the villain depends on which team each is on, and whether or not the Scout can actually defeat the Heavy in a fight depends on how good (or how poor) a player is using one of them, but one good example where the Scout does win occurs in "Meet the Scout".
  • Generally averted in Sword of the Stars. Superior micro will only take you so far in a tactical encounter when the enemy outnumbers or outmasses - or both! -you, at least in a straight fight as opposed to repeatedly throwing ships at the enemy to wear them down. To reinforce the need to outnumber, you get extra command points for every so many ships of each class more than the enemy you have, up to a certain limit, allowing you to field more ships than the Arbitrary Headcount Limit would normally give you. Get enough and you can deploy extra dreadnoughts. While destroyers can occasionally beat dreadnoughts, this relies on swarming and the dreadnought-user failing to include light weapons on his ships and is far from foolproof.
  • The plot of inFAMOUS 2. It begins with The Beast, an incredibly powerful Conduit, nearly killing the main character, requiring him to retreat to increase his powers. Once you finally confront him again you can pull a Heroic Sacrifice and use the RFI to kill all conduits on the planet, sacrificing yourself to stop The Beast from annihilating the human race.
  • Bosses tend to be much bigger than the protagonist in a lot of games, especially 2-D side scrollers.
  • Super Mario Bros. has Mario (and Luigi) vs Bowser. Especially evident when he does Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever.
  • In the final route of Duel Savior Destiny you're required to beat Downy with Sel. Not only is your opponent way stronger in terms of story, he's also at a much higher tier than the character you have to use. In fact, Selbium is actually significantly weaker than the normal units you use, though his style matches up against Downy fairly well.
  • Most of the bosses in Bayonetta fought by the heroine are the size of skyscrapers (at least!). Ironically, to humans, Bayonetta is quite the Statuesque Stunner.
  • The bosses  in the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
  • The Legend of Zelda is all about a small boy/young man named Link who defeats Ganondorf, a large man from the desert, who often becomes a giant boar monster named Ganon. Most bosses in the series also qualify.
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron ends up having this on both ends. For Autobot segments, most anything that tries to stop Grimlock (who dwarfs most everything in the game) is the David to his Goliath, particularly with the target of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge Shockwave, one of the smaller characters in the game that doesn't even come up to Grimlock's knee, but is much smarter than his adversary, though it isn't enough to stop him. For when the player is the David, using Jazz against Bruticus, the former being the shortest playable character in the game, and the latter being by far the largest.
  • The first two stages against Otto Destruct in Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters shows him towering over the titular heroes. In the third and final stage, though, the size differences are similar.
  • Happens often throughout the Kingdom Hearts series, though noticeable examples include Ursula in Atlantica and Destiny Islands, Sark in Space Paranoids and Gantu in Deep Space.
  • You can get mods for Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War which allow you to play as the tiny emergent factions, such as Scotland, Punjab, or Mexico. Surpassing the major world powers is very difficult, but certainly doable.
  • In Fallout 4, the Railroad is made up of a loose confederation of idealistic Wastelanders operating from underground safehouses, with a handful of Synths and scientists of note. Their main rivals, the Institute, are arguably the single-most powerful faction in the entire Commonwealth, with vast stockpiles of resources and a monopoly on advanced technology. Then the Brotherhood of Steel turn up with their Cool Airship and armies of knights in Powered Armor. It's possible for the Railroad to smack down both of these factions in their ending.
    • One possible outcome features the Minutemen, an army of wastelander militia with weapons which qualify as jury-rigged Schizo Tech, versus the Brotherhood of Steel with their Vertibirds and high-tech armoured Knights. Depending on how much you built up the Castle, it can either be a hard-won fight or an absolutely humiliating thrashing for the Brotherhood.
  • Sunrider: Depending on the player’s choices, the three-kilometre long PACT dreadnought Legion can finally meet its end when the Sunrider, a ship less than a quarter of its size, fires its Vanguard Cannon straight down the barrel of the Legion’s own Wave-Motion Gun at point-blank range.
  • Shining Song Starnova revolves around the conflict between Starnova (a small, recently-formed idol group whose members are complete newbies or washed-up has-beens) and Quasar (a massive, highly-experienced and well-funded idol group which has dominated Tokyo’s entertainment industry for over a decade).
  • Ever played Dark Souls? Nearly every boss fight is against something massively bigger and more powerful than your puny undead warrior character. But no matter how mismatched or daunting the fight may seem, you can win with clever tactics, great reflexes and a Determinator attitude.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Ibuki, a tiny lightweight weak but skilled female fighter who stands at 5'3 and weighs 101 pounds, but battled the massive 8 foot Abigail in the latter's story mode. The height difference is remarkable and he is taller than a fully standing Ibuki while crouching on his knees.
    • Ibuki also has a battle with final boss Gill, who while massive in his own right at 6'10 isn't as tall as Abigail, but outweighs Ibuki by an entire 644 pounds, and no that massive weight difference isn't caused by Obesity. Those Psycho Lariats are going to hurt.
    • Her rival battle teaming with Rolento against King and Craig Marduk in Street Fighter X Tekken is based on this. While Rolento is no small man, being a full head taller than Ibuki, King and Marduk are both among the tallest humans in Tekken. Both dwarf Rolento and Ibuki herself looks pint sized in comparison to them. In the cutscene from the Tekken character's size Ibuki has to jump to try and hit Marduk in the head, which he easily proceeds to knock back the petite ninja.
  • The final boss fight of Struggling pits the hero against a giant... duck?
  • Resident Evil has an interesting example. While pretty much any main character vs boss can qualify an interesting example happens in chapter 3-4 of Resident Evil 4. Common mooks that both Ada and Leon can dispatch very easy become more dangerous as the player has to play as the civilian Ashley. Leon is already taller than her and the male mooks are taller than HIM! Furthermore since Ashley has no combat ability seeing Ashley facing one is a sight to behold.
  • Enter the Gungeon has the Sling weapon as an allusion to the trope namer. It's stated that the weapon should only be used as a last resort but it does decent damage the larger enemies are, and gives a massive 4X boost to its already respectable damage when fighting a boss.
  • No Straight Roads includes battles against a DJ that turns into a giant, a giant digital mermaid, a child prodigy's mother that's already turned giant, and a cyborg admiral that pilots a robot dispenser.
  • Monster Hunter. Big scary wyvern (or gorilla, or dragon, or Giant Enemy Crab, etc.) the size of a truck takes on a human. The human, with their advanced armor and weaponry, wins regularly (though it helps that said gear is made from another one of said beasts.)

    Web Animation 
  • A Day With Bowser Jr: Bowser Jr is insecure, clumsy and socially awkward, but has a good heart and is able to defeat Ludwig, who is bigger, stronger, and a formidable magician.

    Web Comics 
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 

    Western Animation 
  • Mickey Mouse versus any foe he may come across, be it Pete, Willy the Giant, or someone else entirely.
  • In Gargoyles, the leader of the New York gargoyles is named Goliath and their first major antagonist is David Xanatos.
    • Something of an inversion, though, at least in the beginning. David Xanatos is the one with the resources and the smarts, while the Gargoyles hardly have anything besides their natural abilities. On a purely physical level, it's played straight.
      • Also inverted in that you are expected to be rooting for Goliath.
      • This fits perfectly into the show's Fish out of Water premise. Much like in the biblical story, Goliath is a warrior who fights with brute strength, while "David" survives by his charisma and smarts. Goliath comes from the Middle Ages, where the stronger warrior always triumphs...but he finds out that in the Twentieth century, the Goliath, not the David, is always the underdog.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy regularly contends with The Bully Francis. The episode "Kung Timmy" has them actually fight.
  • In the Grand Finale of Kim Possible, the sidekick Ron Stoppable had this moment when he took down two alien invaders three times bigger than himself. In retrospect, this concept is amusing when you consider Ron's Jewish heritage.
  • JT Marsh vs Emperor Phaeton at the end of Season 1 of Exo Squad. Marsh's jet-type frame is completely outclassed by the unit Phaeton is using. It shrugged off his missiles. It survived being dipped in lava. Marsh only won through a clever gambit and superior piloting.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy was a wrestler in one episode, often in this situation. It was a Curb-Stomp Battle until Heloise stepped in.
  • One fight featured in Celebrity Deathmatch was quite literally a David vs. Goliath match: David Spade vs. Steven Seagal (a Goliath compared to him). The "literal" aspect even applies to the killing move: Spade using an improvised slingshot.
  • Subverted in ReBoot. During the start of the third season its Enzo as David and Megabyte as Goliath, and Enzo completely fails to beat him. Megabyte could kill Enzo anytime he wants to, and there's nothing Enzo can do about it. Enzo needs a Time Skip just to reach Megabyte's level, which renders them the same size.
  • The Powerpuff Girls vs. just about anybody and any monster, but most notably the mega-Mojo Jojo in the movie.
  • Many of the foes that Mr. Bogus faced off against were all three times bigger than he was.
  • During the climax of the Season 3 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Ahsoka had to fight Garnac, the trandoshan leader. The guy was 2 meters tall, weighted 178 kilograms, had a very thick reptilian hide, and was armed with an axe and a knife in addition to his claws, not to mention his species are on the same scale of physical strength as Wookies. Ahsoka is an average height and a bit skinny teenager, and all she had were her Waif-Fu and Force-skills.
  • Often occurs in Batman: The Brave and the Bold when Batman has take a superpowered enemy without the help of the guest hero. Despite the show's Refuge in Audacity, he has often ended losing, notable instances being against Professor Zoom, a temporarily evil Superman, and Darkseid, which ended with a flat Curb-Stomp Battle against him.
  • X-Men: Evolution at the start of the show's third season when the X-Men go to stop The Juggernaut, who in their previous fight, the most they could do was remove his helmet and allow Xavier to use his Psychic Powers to telepathically knock him, which they only were able to pull off with the Brotherhood's help. Now they were on their own, with no help, and despite their teamwork, the most they can do is avoid dying till Rogue manages to use her Power Parasite ability to knock him out.
  • Transformers: Prime,
    • Any fight against Predaking turns into this ( except for Unicron's fight with him in "Predacons Rising" where he gets flattened), since while Predaking isn't stupid, he has no experience fighting having been a recently created entity, thus he gets by through his raw power and ability to No-Sell everything, while whoever is fighting him, mostly the Autobots, tries to get by through quick thinking and team work, which, is never enough to stop him. The closest to a subversion is his fight with Optimus Prime since Optimus is closer to his power, and size, than everyone else is, but Optimus still loses regardless. Subject to Villain Decay and the show's well-known inconsistent depictions of strength (e.g. Insecticons dying
    • Megatron is, of course, one of the biggest, toughest, and nastiest bad guys in the Franchise. Who finally does him in? Bumblebee, the smallest of them all.
  • Transformers Animated has this at its core, as the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, outmatched by even a single Decepticon, must fight together with their unique powers (e.g. Ratchet's EMP + Bumblebee's stingers = weapon), grit and determination to prevail. In particular, the series itself opened and each season closed with one-on-one fights between Optimus Prime's David and Megatron's Goliath.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has few cases of this:
    • "The Waterbending Master", Katara, angry with Pakku's sexist belief in not teaching women waterbending meant for fighting. As Katara is still learning waterbending herself and has had no formal training and is going up against a master, it ends as well you'd expect although making Pakku exert himself at all before witnesses proves Katara's point even before recognizing her necklace reminds Pakku of what his sexism drove away decades ago.
    • "Sokka's Master", Sokka can't take hiding from the Fire Nation Master Swordsmen Piandao that he's from the Water Tribe, leading to Piando challenging him to a duel. Sokka, only having a day of training with the sword and was never that good at in the first place, goes up against the man regarded as the best swordsmen in the history of the Fire Nation. While he ultimately loses (and Piando spares him, having always known where he was from and not caring), he manages to hold out for surprisingly long period by blinding Piandao and using his quick thinking to stay away from him.
    • Both fights in the Grand Finale "Sozin's Comet." As Zuko is taken out his fight with Azula thanks to diving in front of lightning attack aimed at Katara, Katara is left to fight Azula while Sozin's Comet has greatly enhanced her firebending to the point where Katara can barely block a single strike from her. But thanks to Azula's overconfidence and mental instability, Katara manages to lure her over grate over water and restrain her, barely stopping her.
    • The Final Battle between Aang and Ozai, which also combines a Kid Hero facing a Large and in Charge villain. While Aang has learned to use all four elements, Sozin's Comet made Ozai so powerful that even though Aang has learned firebending he can barely slow him down, with the closest thing he gets to winning being able redirect Ozai's lightning attack, which thanks to Aang's refusal to kill, he blows. Aang only wins because a hit from Ozai accidentally allows Aang to enter the Avatar State.
  • Hanna-Barbera has what must have been the two tiniest heroes—Atom Ant and Inch High, Private Eye. While Atom Ant had atomic superpowers, Inch High used his wits, ascribing to the adage "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."
  • A week after Atom Ant premiered, Hal Seeger's Fearless Fly surfaced on ABC's Milton the Monster show.
  • In an episode from The Smurfs, Clockwork Smurf becomes the proverbial David to the Goliath that is Gargamel and Balthazar's wrecking machine giant that they use against King Gerard's castle. Clockwork attempts to fell this machine giant with just a rock and sling. It bounces off the machine with no effect. The two wizards use the machine to pound Clockwork to a pulp. Fortunately, Bigmouth the ogre, whom Clockwork befriended in the episode, comes and picks up the machine giant, tosses it, and destroys it in one throw, sending Gargamel and Balthazar swimming away in fear.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • The confrontation between She-Ra and Catra in the first season finale has very heavy overtones of this. While Catra has her own share of Super Strength she would have no chance of winning an extended exchange of blows; so she relies on speed, agility, a talent for getting into her oldest friend's head, and superior tactical acumen to gain an advantage in the greater battle for Bright Moon. The visual element is also present, with She-Ra being a broad shouldered giantess who looms over most of the cast while Catra is a wiry catgirl of middling-for-humans height at best.
    • The fight between Catra and Hordak at the end of season 4 has elements of this. Hordak is twice her size, endowed with Super Strength due to his cybernetic exoskeleton, armed with a laser cannon, and enraged. At first, Hordak has Catra on the run through the Fright Zone, but she subdued him through a combination of superior agility and exploitation of his Achilles' Heel (ripping out the First Ones crystal powering his cybernetic armor).
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Temporal Edict", Commander Jack Ransom is dwarfed by the humongous Vindor, but the former defeats the latter during the Trial by Combat.

    Real Life 
  • Physics act just the way they do in the biblical story. A sling stone has as much kinetic energy as a pistol bullet, and a skilled slinger can achieve uncanny accuracy. (That said, the slung stone was not the last blow; having felled Goliath, David decapitated him with his own sword. Likely because of the giant helmet he was wearing.) Agatha Christie traveled in the Middle East during the 1930s; after seeing shepherds at this time still protecting their folds against predators with deadly precision slingshots, she just remarked that the actual Aesop of David and Goliath story seemed to her like the ancient version of 'Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight'.
  • Humans. During the Ice Age and the time after, in which Humans first started diverging from their arboreal ancestors, were specialized to hunt large prey, such as mammoths, giant sloths, and similar, through a combination of throwing weapons, large numbers, and traps allowed humans to hunt down megafauna that relied on their size and bulk for protection with devastating effect. Outside of African species like the elephant, rhino, and hippo, which had evolved alongside humans, whenever humans migrated to a new area, that area's megafauna quickly became extinct. (Indeed, Mammoths survived all the way to 2000 BC on islands with no humans, until said hairless apes arrived, disproving the claim that these animals died out as a result of Climate Change).
  • The Vietnam War. No matter how many casualties the Allies inflicted on them, the Communists just would not give up. Most of Vietnamese history is like this when it comes to foreign invaders and occupiers. Despite Vietnam being occupied and invaded by several powerful empires and countries in the past that include the Mongols, the Ming Dynasty, the French empire, the Japanese Empire, and even the United States during the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese manage to successfully repel the invaders or kick the occupiers out despite the fact that many invaders and occupiers often have superior military equipment than the Vietnamese. One of the major factors to this is because of the Vietnamese geography of dense forests, high mountains, and cliffs makes it relatively easy to the Vietnamese to utilize Hit-and-Run Tactics and makes it incredibly difficult for empires to maintain control of the region.
  • Afghanistan has a similar reputation to Vietnam, having earned the nickname "The Graveyard of Empires" for the number of times it has been invaded and tossed said invaders out (a short list includes Persia, the Greeks, the Mongols, the Mughals, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States).
  • In its 2009 general election, Japan had the reiging Liberal Democratic Party (in power since the Fifties!) as Goliath versus the 13-year-old Democratic Party of Japan. Despite the LDP's clout, they were still beaten by the smaller and younger DPJ. Then subverted in 2012 when the DPJ's perceived inexperience (and possibly also the Fukushima nuclear disaster) allowed the LDP to be voted back into power.
  • Nazi Germany vs. the Soviet Union... both in the size of the countries AND the number of people in said countries. The Soviet Union being the Goliath in the size of the country and the David in the population of the country.note 
    • In fact, it was the Soviets who were the David in this circumstance, at least for the first couple of years. So said the other wiki: "Germany had far greater resources than did the USSR, and dwarfed its production in every matrix except for oil, having over five times the USSR's coal production, over three times its iron production, three times its steel production, twice its electricity production, and about 2/3 of its oil production." From the initiation of hostilities it also had over three times the USSR's GDP. The Soviets did have a larger population than Germany, but that was a minor advantage at best (just ask China), and the disparity wasn't as big as is often thought.note 
    • Not only were they much weaker on paper, but the Soviets' reputation was far worse than that of the Germans' and no one seriously expected them to hold out. In the year just prior to Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany had overwhelmed France in a mere six weeks. France had, in World War I, held off most of the might of Imperial Germany and taken a lead role in defeating it. Germany also occupied or subverted pretty much the whole rest of Europe over the last two years. Meanwhile, Russia's last world war performance (in the first one) was comparatively pathetic, as the Germans and Austro-Hungarians were able to totally defeat them with the lesser part of their power. The last two decades hadn't done them any favors either: the fragile new Soviet Union had lost wars to minor powers like Poland, the Baltic states, and most famously, Finland. The embarrassing latter incident had only happened a few months prior to Barbarossa. Suffice to say, there was good reason for these reputations.
    • Yet, despite all of the above, the Soviets took on the brunt of the German war machine for two years, and while they suffered grievous losses and lost much of their territory, they eventually halted the German offensive at Moscow, rolled it back somewhat at Rzhev, and stumped their second strategic offensive at Stalingrad. Starting around the time of Kursk, in 1943, the Americans and British intensified their air and naval campaigns and opened up the first ground front in western Europe (Italy, to be followed the next year by France and the Low Countries). This resulted in the bulk of the German air force and 40% of the German army being redirected to fronts other than the Eastern Front. Faced with only half (roughly) of the German war effort, and invigorated further by American Lend-Lease aid, the Soviets were no longer the David, and with their allies collectively constituted the Goliath. Germany wasn't as successful as the David and were crushed by the Allies within the next year and a half.
  • On a national scale, there was the Winter War of 1940 between Finland (a relatively small Nordic nation) and the Soviet Union (a colossal nation with one of the world's largest militaries, 30 times as many planes, and 100 times as many tanks). Thanks in no small part to exceptionally cold (even for Russians) winter and extremely well-entrenched defense line judged later to be impenetrable sans for with nuclear weapons, Finland was able to hold off the Soviets for far longer than anyone expected.
  • During The American Civil War, the Union blockaded the entire Confederate coastline. To counter this, they posted a bounty to anyone who could break the blockade. The most popular method to try were small torpedo boats that sat low in the water called, wait for it... Davids. No, they never managed to break the blockade.
  • The Battle of Rorke's Drift, during which a platoon of around 150 men - a considerable proportion of which were ill - successfully stood off between 3 and 4,000 veteran Zulu warriors for over twelve hours with few casualties... after an army of British veterans had been massacred almost to a man (barely 50 of over 1700 troops) by the army of which said Zulu warriors were but a detachment (one that hadn't seen action) earlier the same day at the Battle of Isandlhwana.
  • Taffy 3. If there was ever a naval battle that fits the description of David vs Goliath, it is the Battle Off Samar. 6 Escort Carriers, 3 Destroyers and 4 Destroyer Escorts against 4 Battleships,note , 6 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Light Cruisers and 11 Destroyers. The flagship of the attacking fleet weighed more then the entirety of Taffy 3. Ironically, the Yamato played almost no part in the battle with most of the damage inflicted on Taffy 3 coming from the battleship Kongo. Not only did the Kongo sink the Roberts but it also is the ship that damaged the Johnston's engines as well. The smaller American force fought so tenaciously that the Japanese force ended up retreating. The unit received the Presidential Unit Citation as a result of their heroics in this action.
  • Wolverines are said to be able to kill a moose.
  • Torpedo Boats (and later on, attack aircraft) versus battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. These small craft were very fragile, and their targets very heavily armed, but they could deal out catastrophic damage with a successful attack. Swarm tactics were heavily favored in hopes of overwhelming the defenders. By the end of World War II, the list of warships that fell due to these small attackers would include Arizona, Oklahoma, Bismark, Repulse, Prince of Wales, Yamato, Musashi, Akagi, Lexington, Yorktown, Szent István, Knyaz Suvorov, Housatonic, and many others. The capabilities of anti-ship missiles in the modern age allowed the Soviets to fit them even on small corvettes / large torpedo boats, turning them into gnats with boxers' fists, able to strike down the largest warships if caught off guard.
  • Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa in an SBD Dauntless dive bomber (not built for dogfights) against three Japanese Zero fighters (which were created for the express purpose of being pinpoint superiority fighters). He engaged them in a maneuvering fight, rendering his tail gunner useless, and still managed to take down all three on his own, the last one by ripping its wing off with his own aircraft's wing when they made a close head-on pass. How? Sheer raw guts, surviving twenty minutes of constant nine-G turns (which would have ripped the wings off the more lightly-constructed Zero and would have knocked a normal man unconscious after one turn), until he could finally get some shots off. It certainly helped that the Dauntless carried a pair of nose-mounted M2 .50 caliber machine guns, a respectable if not overwhelming amount of firepower. Vejtasa later transferred to fighter piloting and became one of the Goliaths, shooting down seven Japanese aircraft in one day during his first engagement, making him one of the rare "Ace in a Day" candidates.
  • Cracked cites some cases.
  • Five-year-old girl with lemonade stand is challenged by the Westboro Baptist Church. Church loses.
  • During the Falklands War of 1982, Royal Marine Commandos as good as sunk an Argentinian Navy frigate that came close to shore in South Georgia by shooting at it with anti-tank bazookas. The Marines hit it repeatedly under the waterline with Carl Gustav weapons, from such a close range that very few weapons on the frigate could be brought to bear on them. In any case, individual Marines are a hard target for a warship's weapons systems to target. The Argentinian ship was deliberately run aground by its captain to prevent it from sinking, and surrendered later to the Royal Navy.
  • In a nutshell, Battle of Okehazama in the Sengoku Period. Oda Nobunaga's forces of 2500 men, against Imagawa Yoshimoto's forces of 25000 to 40000 men. The Oda forces took advantage of the rainstorm to launch an ambush straight to Yoshimoto's head, killing him and sending his other men to chaos and not only did the Oda scored their greatest victory, but the Imagawa fell to ruin, and the name 'Oda Nobunaga' became known as one of the most fearsome warlords in the era, instead of just 'The Fool of Owari'.
  • Wolves can take on large animals such as bears and moose, but the victors in such conflicts are always hard to determine.
  • The Chilean corvette Esmeralda was something of a David. She was a little bright green fully rigged sailing ship, which even in 1855 looked quaint. She did have two smoke stacks: few observers could have guessed however that she had four boilers, letting her achieve a speed of 8 knots. She had a history of capturing or at least giving a tough time to ships much larger than her. She notably captured a schooner, a ship almost a fourth larger, called the Virgen de Covadonga (of Spain). This was during the Chincha Islands war in 1864-66. Ultimately though, she was sunk by the Peruvian ironclad Huáscar. Only however because Esmeralda's captain Arturo Pratt let honor (or perhaps frustration) get the better of him. For 3 hours, Huáscar bombarded Esmeralda with her 300lb Armstrong gun to no effect. Captain Pratt's fatal error was putting Esmeralda in boarding range of Huáscar.note  He and his boarding party were killed by Huáscar's Gatling gun, while the ironclad proceeded to ram Esmeralda repeatedly until she sank.
  • The First Italo-Ethiopian War saw Ethiopia, a country of allegedly backwards and uncivilized black people, defeat Italy, a European country with a modern military and economy. The twist in this case was that Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II had used diplomacy with Italy's European rivals (specifically, France and Russia) to acquire an arsenal of modern weapons. The Ethiopians were arguably better-armed than the Italians, who were equipped with outdated weapons and ammunition that they were trying to use up. The Italians also suffered from poor morale and inaccurate maps, while the Ethiopians knew the terrain well and forced the Italians to fight on terrain of their choosing.


Video Example(s):

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


Millie vs Monster Fish

Millie single handedly takes down a giant monster fish, to save her husband.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / DavidVersusGoliath

Media sources:

Main / DavidVersusGoliath