The difference between courage and stupidity lies in the ability to react appropriately to fear: to know when to fight it and when to listen to it. Those who risk their lives for a worthy cause are brave; those who flee when they should stand are cowardly; those who risk their lives for a trivial gain are idiotic, and those who don't respond to fear at all are just plain fools.
Feeling scared in a dangerous situation is the necessary condition for courage. Fearless Fools are never afraid, but that's not because they are braver than everyone else; they're not afraid because they don't know they're in danger, meaning their survival (if they do survive) will come down to blind luck.
The opposite of this trope is the Dirty Coward, who is often scared but never brave. Also compare Miles Gloriosus, who are happy to talk about their bravery when they'll never be called on it, and Cowardly Lions, who never think their actions are brave because they have to fight their fear the entire time.
Frequently the Aesop of Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb. Often a case of Attack! Attack! Attack!. May sing a Bravado Song. Compare Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"! and Suicidal Overconfidence. Also compare Perilous Old Fool, who is frequently this. Contrast Fearless Undead, where reanimated dead beings — for obvious reasons — no longer have a survival instinct.
- Discussed in Attack on Titan, with many people considering Eren Yeager to be exactly this. His classmates even refer to him as being a "suicidal idiot", with Jean accurately predicting that anyone assigned to Eren's squad will end up dead. However, Eren explains that it isn't actually that he's not afraid, but that he believes he has a responsibility to fight.
- Claire Stanfield from Baccano! not only knows no fear (apart from the fear of Claire he puts in others), he's convinced himself that he's immortal (despite being one of the few characters that aren't) simply because he can't imagine what it'd be like to be dead.
- BanG Dream!: During an event story where the girls of Afterglow are accidentally locked in the school trying to retrieve Himari's homework, it ends up a Scare Dare with the girls invoking the seven mysteries" of Haneoka High School. Moca, self-described "genius", is utterly unfazed, even as everyone around her starts panicking.
- Taichi "Tai" Kamiya from Digimon Adventure gets shades of this after being told that everything in the Digital World is made of computer data, including him. When it finally gets drilled into his head that if he dies here he still dies for real, he goes to the opposite extreme and becomes petrified with fear. Part of his character development is finding the balance between the two, true courage. Takuya Kanbara from Digimon Frontier had a similar arc, although he was a tad less Hot-Blooded
- A more completely straight example would be Tai's successor Davis from Digimon Adventure 02. He's nearly fearless and is generally a complete idiot. The effectiveness of this tended to vary from episode to episode. Curiously enough, unlike Tai and Takuya (and Takato, who was never like this) he never really grew out of this. At least not on screen.
- Dragon Ball:
- In Dragon Ball Z Vegeta qualifies for this trope, as he is the first to charge into battles against opponents that are far more powerful than he is, and even lets them power up because of his arrogance.
- Videl sometimes, as shown when she tries to charge against Spopovitch and Yamu when they attacked Gohan.
- Gotenks. When he was first born, what's the first thing he tries to do? He rushes into battle with Majin Buu without thinking of the consequences and ends up getting himself beaten to a pulp.
- Chi-Chi. She usually tries to charge into battles to save her sons, without thinking of the possible consequences of her actions (with the other characters having to hold her back). She plays this straight when she walks up to Majin Buu, the scourge of the universe, and slaps him in the face for killing Gohan. She gets turned into an egg and killed as a response.
- Even Goku falls to this at times. Frieza outright refers to him as one in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', stating his power made him overconfident and too willing to forgive his enemies.
- Bulma can be this way in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Super, being the Ditzy Genius she is. Like Chi-Chi, she is not afraid to insult Beerus, a Destroyer Deity, and Frieza, a galactic overlord who can destroy an entire planet. Vegeta has to close her mouth to prevent the planet from getting destroyed! Justified for Beerus becoming friends with Bulma, but Frieza would destroy her.
- In Fairy Tail, during the S-Class promotion test, Gildarts uses the overwhelming difference in strength between himself and Natsu to beat this trope out of the latter and teach him that sometimes it's okay to be afraid since fear helps one know their weaknesses. Notably, he only allows Natsu to pass after he admits that he can't win against Gildarts.
- While Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex doesn't do this in the way ascribed to most shonen heroes, she is still equally guilty of it. As the episodes go on it becomes more and more clear that she does things even her hardened comrades consider incredibly reckless, and one loses count of the number of times she nearly gets herself killed over the course of the series. It's almost a running joke that Batou will specifically tell her to "not do anything stupid" and she'll do it anyway. In-universe, it's actually quite common for heavily cyberized individuals to begin to have loss of emotional response, and the Major muses on it frequently, wondering if she still counts as "real" when only her brain is organic.
- Hunter × Hunter: Gon's single-minded determination to defeat someone his way or prove his point to the point he grievous injuries himself puts him in this territory, like the time he uses Zetsu on an arena filled with Battle Tops that can break bones if hit at that state for 50 minutes (which put him out of commission for 2 months) and the time he fights Genthru his way to scoring a hit on him (at the cost of losing his left hand, most of his right hand and throat). It's later shown that this attitude is his Fatal Flaw, as his tendency to charge in scenarios that would leave even experienced Nen users hesitating has a few characters call him out for this, like Wing slapping him for his stunt at the arena and Tsezguerra chewing him out for endangering his friends while they're injured.
- Misaki Yata from K. Lampshaded in the movie when Kuroh and Neko are looking to save a hostage from inside of a tower, and Kuroh runs through all of the ways the tower is guarded, and finishes with, "Only a fool would try to break in through the front."... and two seconds later, Misaki comes around the corner, charging in on his skateboard, screaming.
- In Naruto, the titular character fits this to a tee at first glance, as he pretty much leaps into danger with a smile, ready to punch or (as necessary) headbutt his enemies without fear of his own safety. While his lack of fear indeed started out of recklessness, after the encounter with the Demon Brothers (one of the only times he's scared for his life) and his "Oath of Pain", it came out of a desire to prove himself and protect his loved ones.
- One Piece:
- The hero Monkey D. Luffy is pretty much the embodiment of this trope. He charges headlong into dangers great or small without once thinking of his own wellbeing. This includes leading a small army in a siege against the World Government stronghold Enies Lobby, punching out a World Noble, who are treated as walking gods, engaging in a battle in The Alcatraz known as Impel Down, heading to the Marine Headquarters with a large group of dangerous convicts to fight the entire Navy! One of the only things Luffy is shown to be scared of is his own grandfather Marine Vice-Admiral Garp, due to the fact that he was raised by him in near-constant Training from Hell and Punches of Love. After meeting the old man, his friends concluded that the grandfather is responsible for his lack of fear, as very few things compare to him.
- Luffy's sworn brother Ace. He never runs from a fight and is willing to defy explicit orders to avenge his friends, risking his own life. Unlike Luffy, he fears absolutely nothing, and his bravery and foolishness lead to him losing to all the top fighters of the story. He ends up submitting to Whitebeard, being captured by Blackbeard, and getting killed by Akainu.
- In Parasyte, despite being repeatedly stated as incapable of feeling human emotions, the parasites obviously care about their well-being enough to avoid any unnecessary danger (even showing visible fear on occasion). The only parasite who fits the bill is Mr. A, the lover to fellow parasite Reiko, who admits that he is "not one of our smart ones". Indeed, Mr. A is repeatedly shown to have no capacity for subtlety or deception, even using his shapeshifting abilities in front of the public by reasoning that he can get out of trouble by fighting, running away, or changing into a different form. This comes to bite him in the ass HARD, as his open attack on Shinichi and his parasite companion, Migi, leads to him getting critically wounded and then disposed of by Reiko when he threatened her undercover lifestyle. At one point, during his attack on the school, when he tried to punch a random student, he missed and punched the wall which completely and permanently shattered his (human) arm.
- Hareta from Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, who often laughs in the face of danger because he figures it's another opportunity for an awesome Pokemon battle.
- Saint Seiya: The hero Pegasus Seiya has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever, often veers into Too Dumb to Live territory, and will happily sacrifice his life on multiple occasions for his friends/goddess. When asked how he manages to keep on living, he most often responds with "I don't know."
- In Sengoku Basara's anime adaptation, this trope is invoked when Takeda Shingen lectures his Hot-Blooded servant Yukimura on how the absence of fear does not mean courage... while punching him into a wall repeatedly.
- Naoe Kanetsugu is no better, except unlike Yukimura, he's a Boisterous Weakling with no fighting skill to back up his hilariously overinflated ego. He proudly claims to be the only member of the Uesugi's undefeated First Squad, all while charging alone at Honda Tadakatsu. Tadakatsu is Japan's greatest warrior...reimagined here as a god-damned Gundam. This ends about how you might expect, but true to the trope, even being smacked into next week does little to dampen Kanetsugu's enthusiasm or ego.
- Soul Eater: Black Star is the man who will surpass God! Of course he's not afraid of anything! It's a good thing Tsubaki is around to keep him out of trouble.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Kamina's Establishing Character Moment involves him challenging a Humongous Mecha to a fight while armed with nothing but a katana. Played with later on, when he confides in Yoko that he knew exactly how stupid he was being at the time, but did it anyway in order to inspire Simon. He has such absolute trust in Simon's abilities that he feels comfortable doing such incredibly stupid things knowing they will give Simon the courage to step up and save everyone.
- Subverted on another occasion: when Simon implored Kamina to run before an apparently superior enemy, Kamina says that he can't run. Simon starts to invoke this trope, but Kamina interrupts him to state turning his back on the enemy would be a poor tactical choice which would result in his being cut down before he could reach safety.
- Jaden Yuki from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is like this, but it generally works for him...until Season 3.
- Zombie Land Saga: Saki Nikaido, Franchouchou's Badass Biker babe is hot-headed and brave, but this trait of hers ended up being her Fatal Flaw because she was so determined to win a game of chicken against a rival biker gang that she just kept speeding on and was mortally injured by the ensuing crash. She does get a second chance as a zombie... and she does the exact same thing all over again. She survives this time thanks to her undead nature, even though there was no guarantee that she would've survived the crash intact enough to keep functioning
- In Asterix and the Normans, the titular Normans literally don't know the meaning of fear, even as children. The Gauls teach them, by making their awful bard Cacofonix play his music at them. They came to Gaul to learn fear because they heard "Fear gives you wings", and took it literally.
- Obelix himself also qualifies to a certain extent. Justified because there aren't really many things that can harm him but it becomes really obvious in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix where he doesn't quite grasp the concept of monsters or ghosts and that's why he remains unafraid. That makes for a contrast with Asterix who understands perfectly but is just as brave and can be cautious when necessary.
- Daredevil is called the Man Without Fear, though this may be because of his name. In truth, he doesn't seem to have many fears, as befits a blind man who goes out superheroing... but usually, those few he has are found and exploited by anyone who can manage to become the Big Bad of an arc.
Daredevil: If I could see what I was doing, I'd be terrified.
- Once in a Marvel Comics Presents story arc, this trope was taken literally with him. That was when an alien parasite who feeds on fear tried taking over various Marvel Universe Super Hero characters, only to be driven out each time by them overcoming their fears. In desperation, the starving parasite tried taking over a random human, only to die when he discovered to his horror that this human had no fear, and that turned out to be Daredevil.
- Once, when Daredevil went charging in despite the presence of hostages, Spider-Man told him that that sort of thing is why nobody likes to team up with him and that some caution some of the time might not hurt. It turned out in that case that the hostages were an illusion, and Daredevil hadn't even known that Spider-Man was seeing them. However, it does mean at least one hero thinks Daredevil is a bit too fearless and has heard of others thinking so as well.
- Daredevil is called the Man Without Fear, though this may be because of his name. In truth, he doesn't seem to have many fears, as befits a blind man who goes out superheroing... but usually, those few he has are found and exploited by anyone who can manage to become the Big Bad of an arc.
- Green Lantern:
- The Green Lantern Corps are supposed to be fearless. Taken literally, that means they're, well, dangerously insane. Of course it's understood that "fearless" is an emphatic way of saying "courageous". The Green Lanterns are not, in fact, "The Men [and Women and Nonsexual Aliens] Without Fear"; rather they have the ability to overcome great fear, and in that ability find the power to wield the Green Lantern Ring. Sometimes the description has been taken more literally than other times; one currently-ignored story had it that rings removed all fear from new Green Lanterns. Canonically, the rings now state that the owner can "overcome great fear".
- However there is one Lantern that's insane, to the shock of his partner (who just thought he was a Cloudcuckoolander). Depending on the Writer... there was a Green Lantern/Flash story by Mark Waid, which made much of the fact that Hal Jordan had never experienced fear until he thought Barry's life was in danger because of him.
- Guy Gardner in his early appearances was usually described as being too stupid to realize he's in danger. In Guy's earliest (Silver Age) appearances he was pretty much just a normal guy. And then he developed brain damage, which (among other things) made him a more literal example of this trope.
- An early Tales of the Green Lantern Corps story features a search for a Green Lantern candidate on a planet full of cowards. One was eventually found — in an insane asylum.
- It was lampshaded a few times during Kyle Rayner's stint, as he was chosen despite his fear. This paid off when his awareness of fear left him able to fight off Parallax's influence. Even Dream of the Endless noted this, telling Kyle it would help him surpass the other Lanterns.◊
- In Locke & Key, Kinsey uses the Head Key to remove her senses of fear and sadness. This leads her to do some dangerous things — both physically, like exploring a flooded cave, and emotionally, like getting into a Love Triangle between her friends.
- Whirl in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye combines this with Blood Knight and Death Seeker for all your stuff-getting-dismembered needs. There's no fight he won't challenge, and if you order him to retreat or otherwise avoid a fight, it's unlikely that he will pay attention. note
Whirl: So this is what running away feels like? I'm not keen. It's like fighting, but in the wrong direction.
Cyclonus: Rodimus told us not to engage.
Whirl: He did, yes, he absolutely did. And I'm going to interpret that as a veiled order to attack... Care to join me?
- The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was doesn't know what fear is because he's The Fool. He spends three nights in a Haunted Castle, with increasingly-terrifying events happening each night, in an attempt at learning about fear, but none of it works. In the end, he inherits all the treasure of the castle and becomes king, but still hasn't learned fear. When he's woken up by being splashed with water filled with still-living fish, he thinks that his shivering means he's finally found fear.
- The Boy Who Found Fear At Last has a young boy who's confused at why his mother is scared when a gust of wind slams their cottage door open. Seeking to learn what fear is, he goes on an adventure, during which he encounters a gang of bandits, a greedy ogre, and three separate ghosts (who he later meets again), none of whom scare him in the slightest. In the end, he does find fear... when he's crowned king through a random selection ritual, which makes him panic as he realizes this means spending the rest of his life saddled with responsibility.
- Rainbow Dash, in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Luna's Power and Rainbow's Love, defies this, while presenting a front that looks like this.
- Deconstructed with Mei in Game Theory. Due to being from a berserker lineage, she lacks a functioning fear response, which causes her to pull all kinds of crazy, reckless stunts that put herself or others in danger. It's treated as a mental disorder, and she eventually starts taking medication that mitigates the problem.
- Deconstructed in Harry's New Home where due to his abusive upbringing with the Dursleys, Harry lacks a sense of self-preservation and self-defense, allowing him to place himself in danger without a thought, much to Snape's annoyance and horror.
- Defied in Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic Going Another Way. After the battle against Shamshel, Shinji comes to the conclusion that he needs to be afraid of the Angels. After all, if you are not afraid of the towering monsters, then you are bound to screw up and won't live for much longer. The trick is, to not let the fear take over.
- Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Exemplified and weaponized by Human Lightning Dust, whose Schrift "The Daredevil" makes her stronger the more danger her life is in, allowing her to perform feats against otherwise superior foes others wouldn't be able to. As a result, she's a Leeroy Jenkins and a Death Seeker who throws herself into combat without fear, admitting that she would rather die young in a blaze of glory than waste away in old age. By the end of her fight with The Smooze's Resurreccion, she's victorious after basically infecting herself with every life-threatening disease known to life and unlife in the process to unleash a Death or Glory Attack that almost completely incinerates him, but in exchange her body's so screwed up she would have dropped dead were it not for Hoity Toity's "The Xenomorph" dealing with the worst of it. Even so, the internal damage was so intensive that she had to retire from being a Sternritter after the battle, with her grumbling she would have preferred otherwise since he "ruined" A Good Way to Die.
- The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Hanna was genetically engineered to lack the normal fear response, leading her to throw herself into danger for fun. She almost gets kicked off the team after she ignores orders to flee from a cave full of giant spiders.
- Discussed in The Return of Hatsune Miku, when Kaai Yuki ends up in the Reaper's Game. When she and her partner run into a Reaper, the Reaper calls her brave for not being scared; Yuki points out that "being brave isn't not being scared; it's not letting being scared stop you".
- Luis and Carmelo from The Book of Life, like other Sanchez members, were very brave but unfortunately very foolish as well, so much so that they allowed hubris to get the better of them.
- Henry from The Good Dinosaur. Justified, he wants his son to be brave until he ended up pushing it too far by going through danger until it was too late for him to realize it. The T-Rex Butch even lampshades the trope later in the movie. Heck, this trope is sort of the movie's message, that sometimes courage has its limitations and people need fear in order to live.
- Young Simba in The Lion King (1994) gets a speech to this effect when he goes into the elephant graveyard to prove how fearless he is only to be accosted and nearly eaten by hyenas. Mufasa explains that being brave doesn't mean he doesn't have fears, only that he overcomes them, and this becomes a running theme for the film.
Mufasa: I'm only brave when I have to be. Simba, being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.
- Barley from Onward tends to be reckless when facing danger. He has a Freudian Excuse for this however, he saw his dad dying in the hospital but didn't get to say goodbye on account of how scary he looked, hence why he is so reluctant to be scared.
- In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, this is Puss's Fatal Flaw. Thanks to the fact that Cats Have Nine Lives, he arrogantly believes he is the legend that will never die. Unfortunately, due to his cocky attitude, he ends up losing eight lives and doesn't realize he only has one left until he's made to count. Adding to his trouble, the Grim Reaper himself, in the embodiment of The Big Bad Wolf, was fed up with Puss disrespecting him and that he had needlessly wasted his lives, and chose to chase down Puss and claim his final life personally.
- Shaggy ends up becoming this thanks to hypnotism in Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur, turning him from his famous cowardly persona into a tough-as-nails, one-liner-spouting macho man capable of going toe to toe with a gang of bikers every time he hears the word "bad".
- The main Toad in The Super Mario Bros. Movie is noted as being a rare brave Toad but it crosses over into foolishness at times, like when the gang is being taken on a wild kart ride to see Cranky Kong, Toad's having the time of his life even as he's nearly flung out the kart several times, all while Mario and the otherwise unflappable Peach are screaming in terror.
- Batman in The Dark Knight Rises initially has no fear of death, which he thinks gives him power but is in fact why he can't find the motivation to escape Bane's prison. He needs to find something to be afraid of or he'll be useless. Bane points this out by saying, "You don't fear death. You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe."
- The titular hero of Eragon is described as "one part brave, three parts fool".
- Forrest Gump is this when he runs through the jungle in Vietnam rescuing his comrades, being completely oblivious to the bullets and explosions around him.
- Skylar Lewis in Girl vs. Monster, but she later develops a sense of fear and grows out of this.
- Grizzly Man chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast Tim Treadwell. Three guesses how the guy met his end and no, it wasn't by choking on a pretzel.
- The Skullcrawlers, due to being driven by singular Horror Hunger. Although they can be smart about it, they'll charge and attempt to eat virtually anything they encounter that isn't them, even Kong despite the latter's superior physical prowess, and they won't stop until either they or their opponent is dead.
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) essentially features several:
- One of King Ghidorah's three independent-minded heads (the right head, Ni) in particular shows signs of this, as Ni at one point attempts to fight back a charging Godzilla with nothing but his jaws while the other two heads are incapacitated, and it goes as well as you'd expect.
- Downplayed with Rodan: he has an Oh, Crap! and initially pulls back when he ends up flying into Ghidorah's storm, but a few moments afterwards, Rodan charges straight at Ghidorah in a territorial match despite the three-headed dragon significantly outclassing Rodan in power. Rodan also opts to bow to Godzilla at the end rather than fight him, but he only shows clear signs of submitting after receiving an intimidating snort and Death Glare from Godzilla.
- This is a big influence on Emma Russell's actions, which the tie-in graphic novel Godzilla Aftershock further expands upon. When Emma sets her mind on pursuing a hot trail towards what she believes to be a solution to whatever serious problem she is trying to solve, she'll head for it and ignore all the signs of mortal danger or of it being a bad idea in favor of getting to what she wants. This leads her to, whilst enacting a Utopia Justifies the Means plot (looking to release all the dormant Titans and then use the ORCA to manipulate them), unwittingly releasing a rival alpha Titan who actively threatens to create an even more rapid extinction event than the one Emma was trying to prevent, never mind the Creative Closing Credits' implications that Emma trying to use the ORCA to control the awakened Titans long-term would have backfired severely if her plan had worked out without any hitches.
- In Bambi, Faline's brother Gobo is taken from the wild as a fawn, raised to adulthood by humans, and then released. He returns with no survival instincts at all, believing humans are now his friends — an attitude which eventually gets him killed.
- Mandorallen of The Belgariad is the pinnacle of knighthood: honourable, courteous, fearless, and incredibly badass. The problem is that he is also completely unable to accept the premise that it is possible for him to be hurt or killed. The one time he actually does experience fear, it leads to him putting a bit more discretion in his valour... for about six pages, and then he goes right back to proposing things like taking a handful of friends and attacking the united armies of a continent-spanning empire. There's a reason the heroes rarely use strategies proposed by Mandorallen.
- In Sandy Mitchell's Cain's Last Stand, Ciaphas Cain tells the cadets that he is afraid, in order to urge prudence on them. But when he describes himself as a Dirty Coward, Amberley Vail cites that a brave man is one who overcomes his fears, not one who has none, to say that Cain may not be giving himself enough credit.
- At one point, earlier, Cain's aide Jurgen offers to come on a mission. Cain is not sure whether this is courage or being too stupid to realize the danger.note Amberley Vail, having seen much of Jurgen over the years, isn't sure either.
- Jenit Sulla, a Leeroy Jenkins who leads her men into heroic charges no matter what the sensible action. Her unit takes the highest losses of the regiment but also has the highest morale.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan charges a man with a stunner, and Tej pronounces him either very foolish or very brave. Ivan explains that it was his own stunner, which is set up so only he could fire it.
- In City of Ashes, Jace gets a Fearless rune put on him by Clary. After a few minutes of fighting The Legions of Hell, he notes that the rune might be a little bit of too much of a good thing. In particular, he notes how blase he was becoming in regard to injuries.
- In Divergent, one of the factions, Dauntless, values bravery. They show their bravery by jumping on and off trains and performing crazy stunts, many of which do result in death or injury.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Blood Rites, Trish/Trixie is not afraid of getting blacklisted because she's so dumb she really thinks she's indispensable.
- In Death Masks, several warnings get thrown about, about confusing courage with stupidity.
- In Blood Rites, when he is rescuing the puppies, one rears up in the box to bark at their former captors. Harry describes it as either more brave or more stupid.
- Gaia Moore of Fearless. Having been born without the capability for fear, she repeatedly finds herself in over her head because she lacks the ability to judge that a situation is beyond her.
- In A Game of Thrones, Ned Stark tells his sons that the only time a man can be really brave is when he's afraid.
- In Harry Potter, Gryffindors have a tendency to be this.
- Done unintentionally in most James Byron Huggins novels. Even though most of his protagonists are Badass Normals, when your opponents are ancient Egyptian undead sorcerers, giant shape-shifting Nephilim, prehistoric Hulks, a genetically-engineered dragon, and Satan himself, for them fear is never the appropriate response, and every time, they win against these threats, but the first two acts they don't react with fear.
- Michael is this in the first book of the Knight and Rogue Series. Any point in later books where he chooses to flee rather than fight includes a line about Fisk having finally gotten it through his skull that in some situations it's a much better idea to run.
- One version of Plato's Laches argues the definition of cowardice, courage, and recklessness, illustrated by a soldier dropping his sword so he can better cover himself with his shield as he runs, the soldier facing the enemy with sword and shield, and the soldier throwing his shield behind him so he can get to the part where he stabs people faster.
- In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Billy Toyodo is unafraid of death because he thinks life is just a computer simulation and he'll just get another run-through. The captain feels ashamed to ask him to volunteer for something dangerous because of it. (Still does, though.)
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, when asking Jane Geary why she changed, Geary explains to her that he was afraid, and her brother was afraid while making their heroic stands.
- In Max Frei's Labyrinths of Echo becoming this is a necessary step for any wizard wishing to progress beyond a certain point. For most, it just means that they've come to the Eldritch Abomination/Physical God level, and literally have nothing to fear, as they've embedded themselves into the fabric of the Multiverse, becoming completely indestructible.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen:
- Crump's incredibly high tolerance for dangerous conduct and general disregard for his own life is not only a family trait but undoubtedly stems from his Ax Craziness and love of grenades which he gleefully demonstrates in The Bonehunters.
- The Bonehunters also gives us Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas, who is blessed by the twin gods of luck and also a Glory Seeker par excellence — which makes for an explosive combination of accidental awesomeness in delicate situations.
- Patricia A. McKillip:
- In The Book of Atrix Wolfe, they send off Saro to deliver the tray of food to the prince in his half-ruined and haunted towers, on the grounds she wouldn't understand it enough to be afraid.
- In The Riddle Master Trilogy, Morgan had, in the Backstory, casually won a riddle game where hundreds of others had lost their lives. He came home with his reward (a crown) and hid it under the bed because he wasn't sure that he wasn't a complete idiot.
- In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Sybel is too young and too powerful to know fear. She proves the fearless part when she summons The Rommalb, a creature that destroys any who fear. She proves the fool part when she continues to steal Spell Books from other wizards, despite Maelga's warnings.
- The second-in-command in Moby-Dick tells the crew a fearless man has no business being on a whale hunt.
- In Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, Chronicler tells Kvothe that they say he's fearless. Kvothe disclaims: only priests and fools are fearless, and he's not been on good terms with God.
- In The Pillars of the Earth King Stephen went into battle and was fearless but, because of that, he didn't retreat when necessary and was captured.
- Used as the twist in Rowan of Rin. John is beaten by the mountain not because he was afraid, but because he wasn't and should have been. Exhausted and slowly freezing he realises that Sheba was right, only fools do not fear, and admits this to Rohan.
- In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the Brute is the only one not afraid, he's too stupid.
- In The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, Jim repeatedly expresses confidence that the military authorities will be fooled by his latest trick, despite the fact that the MP's have already displayed detective work that would be a credit to Sherlock Holmes.
- Marvin Russell in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears. At first, the terrorists using him as a useful fool are impressed by his fearlessness, but they quickly realize that they are dealing with a crazy person. (Doesn't stop them from still using him as their fool, though.)
- In C. S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Lucy agrees to go into a magician's tower for invisible beings who are threatening to massacre them, and the boys can't dissuade her, the boys appeal to Reepicheep, confident that he will tell her not to do it in order to save them. Reepicheep, however, does not play the Fearless Fool: he observes they have no hope of saving her, and that she is not being asked to do anything dishonorable, so he will not speak against it. The boys are rather embarrassed.
- Warhammer 40,000 Expanded Universe novels:
- In Dan Abnett's Brothers of the Snake, when a young Marine tries a forbidden challenge, and an older one comes after to ensure that he lives, the younger one says he must think him a fool, and the older one, that courage and folly are not always easily divided.
- In William King's Space Wolf, Ragnar is unable to tell whether the nightgangers attacking them are that brave or that mindless. In Grey Hunters, when one Marine speaks of a heroic death, he is rebuked for not knowing the difference between heroic and stupid.
- In Ben Counter's Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, Tarvitz explicitly thinks that while it is said that Space Marines know no fear, the truth is that they are trained to master it, not to not feel it.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Kolding plays possum when Maggs goes berserk and attacks him. Gaunt says this was wise; Kolding says it was not very courageous. He had survived a Blood Pact attack by the same method as a child — the sole survivor.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, after an attack that drove many Blood Angels into the black rage — Unstoppable Rage — that resulted in their horrible deaths, Arkio accuses veteran Blood Angels of being afraid. They counter that they had all seen those deaths and are horrified and, yes, afraid. Sachiel claims that dying for the Emperor ought to negate that, but Arkio concedes that they would not be human if they did not feel as they did — and weeps Manly Tears over the deaths — before urging them to fight anew.
- In Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, Granny tells the Nac Mac Feegle that they need The Hero to go to the underworld because they themselves would not be afraid of doing it, and The Hero needs to be — so she sends them after the Baron's son Roland, who would be afraid.
- Other characters are shown to be almost fearless as well, Cohen and his 'horde' foremost among them. Ridcully and Vetinari are also practically without fear, but they are far from foolish.
- In Unseen Academicals, Dave Likely, at least in Trev's eyes. Nutt points out that he was only human, and furthermore people who did foolish things that could kill them have been important to humanity.
- In Night Watch, Vimes describes Lord Rust this way. "He thought idiot stubbornness was bravery."
- A variation in Wulfrik, when Wulfrik's warband raids a Chaos dwarf fortress guarded by (among other things) statues enchanted to cause fear in intruders. The Norscans don't cower in fear, they attack the statues in berserk fury... but all they do is blunt their weapons and bloody their fists against the stone.
- The ogres of Xanth are famous for being too stupid to fear anything. But this is played with — it combines with their great strength to ensure that every living creature smarter than them (and that's everyone, including a number of plants) fears them. Even dragons know they can't match the sheer power-to-weight ratio of an ogre and that an ogre wouldn't be afraid of coming after them, and avoid picking fights.
- Jason in Tom Holt's Ye Gods!
Being a Hero, he didn't know the meaning of fear, just as the average person doesn't know the meaning of the word fourmart* .
- Later, this is invoked several times with the observation that what he felt couldn't really, therefore, be fear.
- Doctor Who:
- In the serial "Planet of the Daleks", the Doctor explains to a Thal, a fellow captive, that his heroic action of leading off the enemy was heroic despite his fear, and that everyone else who does heroic things is the same.
- More than once, the Doctor has expressed that knowing when to get the hell out of the way of the Dalek extermination rays is a good thing, and how much running his life involves is a Running Gag. We have also seen him truly, properly afraid more than once. At one point, when cornered by a monster that kills at a touch, he said "I said I was afraid of dying, and that's no lie. Advantage, me!" and makes escaping (through a method he was actually testing the viability of with a series of apparently meaningless actions earlier) a moment of awesome. As he once said to Clara, "We don't walk away. But when we're holding on to something precious, we run. We run and run, fast as we can, and we don't stop running until we are out from under the shadow."
- In Gotham, after Johnathan Crane's father gives himself a treatment to help rid him of fear, upon being cornered by Gordon and Bullock, despite them being armed, he attacks them, claiming that he no longer has fear. He's almost immediately shot and killed.
- When Ralph Malph from Happy Days became paralyzed with fear over an upcoming tornado, they had a doctor hypnotize him to be brave. It ended up working too well and turned him into this trope, deliberately putting himself in danger for the sake of it. They managed to snap him out of it before the tornado hit, only to discover he truly was brave all along when he pushed Richie out of the way when a bookshelf almost fell on him.
- Captain "Dreadnought" Foster in Horatio Hornblower is shown to be a man with no fear — in his first scene he takes command of the supply ship he's on and orders it to fire on a Spanish frigate, in one of his last heroically climbs aboard a fire ship to steer it away from the British fleet. But though Foster bravely disregards his own life, he disregards the lives of everyone around him, too — most of the schooner's crew is killed and Horatio, initially an admirer, realizes how foolish his hero is when Foster insists on taking supplies from his own supply ship, which is under quarantine for plague.
- The Jackass crew while performing stunts.
- Raylan Givens of Justified is a badass, no doubts about it. However, he tends to let his reputation go to his head a little, and pick fights with people he really shouldn't. Like two giant guys in a bar while he's wasted, or Coover Bennett. Then in Season 3 he goes and pulls a gun on Limehouse seemingly forgetting that he is all by himself in a remote community where everyone is extremely loyal to Limehouse and would have no problem with killing a white law enforcement official and making the body disappear. Having a dozen rifles and shotguns pointed at him in response, Raylan luckily clues him in that he has gone too far and instead makes a deal with Limehouse that lets them both walk out of there alive.
- In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Blink", the main culprit is a high-functioning psychopath who does not experience fear like a normal person. His lack of self-preservation instincts lead him to feel he's invincible, and to engage in risky sports (cave diving, base jumping) and work (high-steel construction), in addition to committing crimes without fear of arrest and making dubious deals with mobsters who are likely to kill him if he slips up. He eventually does experience fear when he learns that his own wife, whom he'd believed had faith in his invincibility, has secretly taken out extra life insurance on him because she's 100% convinced he's going to get himself killed.
- Mahou Sentai Magiranger: Kai Ozu starts out as this, with his Establishing Character Moment being him climbing up a post to retrieve a balloon. It's not until he learns the true meaning of courage that he's granted his powers, being the last of his siblings to do so.
- Alan Davies on QI, whose job is to leap in with the obvious answers where a wiser panelist might hesitate. Has been working in his favor lately, as the panelists have started to assume the obvious answer will be incorrect and go to great lengths to avoid giving it — when it was correct all along, giving Alan easy points.
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Polymorph", Lister has his fear removed by the Polymorph beast, which feeds on emotions. He wants to charge in recklessly at the beast and volunteers to be the bait, so the others can kill it "while it's eating me to death".
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- The episode "Coming of Age" explicitly references the trope, even though it doesn't show an example of the character in that episode. Wesley is worrying about the final test for his Starfleet Academy entrance exam: a psychological test designed specifically to stoke their fears and test how they face them. Worf helps him, much to Wesley's surprise — he saw Worf as the bravest man on Enterprise and thought that meant he had no fear. Worf's response seems to echo the trope name quote: "Only fools have no fear." He then explains that even Klingons, known as a "fearless" warrior race, know fear, but only those who overcome it ever go on to greatness.
- In "Rightful Heir", this trope is explained in an anecdote by Kahless, who's basically the Klingon Messiah. Once, Kahless was staying in a village that was about to be ravaged by a powerful windstorm. All the Klingons who lived there took shelter in a cave, save for one man who stood at a cliff facing the storm. When Kahless asked why the man didn't hide with the others, he replied, "I will not run away from this danger. I will stand here and make the wind respect me." Kahless honored his wish and went inside to hide. When the citizens came out the next day, they quickly found the man's body among the wreckage. "The wind does not respect the fool."
- Star Trek: Picard:
- In "Nepenthe", Elnor declines to return to La Sirena because he wants to assist Hugh and the other ex-Borg drones on the Artifact rise up against their Romulan oppressors. His crewmates believe that he's both nuts and courageous for doing so.
Elnor: Go without me. [The massacre of xBs] will not happen again. My help is needed here.
Rios: Everyone here thinks you're crazy.
Jurati: And brave.
Rios: And brave.
- Invoked by a Centurion in "Broken Pieces" when Narissa asks if the Borg frighten him.
Centurion: I'd be a fool if they didn't.
- In "Nepenthe", Elnor declines to return to La Sirena because he wants to assist Hugh and the other ex-Borg drones on the Artifact rise up against their Romulan oppressors. His crewmates believe that he's both nuts and courageous for doing so.
- An episode of The Storyteller adapts the folktale of "The Boy Who Set Out To Learn What Fear Was," mentioned above, but with the heartwarming twist that, after a parade of grotesqueries, what finally gets Fearnot to genuinely shudder is the fear of losing his sweetheart.
- Supernatural: Dean can be this at times. Pamela's response to an especially powerful entity warning her to turn back from psychically contacting him is, "Sorry, Castiel, I don't scare easy." It costs her eyes.
- Max of Wizards of Waverly Place. Lampshaded in the Zombie Prom episode.
- Arguably, Mulder of The X-Files. He tends to rush into dangerous situations without thinking, leading to several instances in which Scully has to come save his butt. Some have speculated that he has subconscious self-destructive urges that play into this.
- The Order: The Emperor Demon Rogwan creates these after he eats the fear of various people. Being he's an Emperor Demon and part of the cause of World War 2 in-series he's bad news. But that fear you feel to him only makes you all the more visible to him.
- It is quite common that a good guy, or "babyface" is said to have "more guts than brains" (as Jim Ross would say), because they continue to fight back despite being beaten down time and again, refuse to submit to submission moves, have no problems with accepting a 3-on-1 challenge, etc.
- The "Rate Tank" Kellie Skater (weighing in at 68 kilograms of pure adamantium) of SHIMMER was a heel version — she blithely walked up to every badass woman on the roster, registering no fear whatsoever as she disrespects them and challenges them to matches. Every single time, she got obliterated — but at no point did Kellie ever catch on that she was being destroyed. She kept on taunting her opponent and bringing the fight even as she got smashed against the barricades, tied into a pretzel, or back-fisted in the face. Fellow heel Tomoka Nakagawa did teach Skater, better tactics, if not necessarily fear, and in the process, the two performed a Heel–Face Turn as the still-but-nowhere-near-as-foolish Global Green Gangsters.
- Hyeon from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. When snake-like apparitions invade the school and start spearing students, Hyeon's response is to attack them with a fire extinguisher rather than run away like everyone else. A few days later, when he sees Daigo strangling Harriet, he doesn't hesitate to attack him with a guitar case. In the ensuing fight, where spears and bullets are being flung around, he's much more focused on getting Carlie to safety rather than any fear for his own well-being.
- Hank Samson, a playable investigator from Arkham Horror has this trope as a built-in game mechanic. Normally, whenever a Player Character encounters a monster, they have to pass a Horror check at the beginning. Not Samson. Thanks to his unique "Thick-skulled" ability, he only has to pass it after the fight, only realizing what a horrifying Eldritch Abomination it was after taking some time to mull it over.
- In the Dragonlance setting for Dungeons & Dragons, kender suffer the quadruple afflictions of an extreme sense of curiosity, low tolerance for boredom, zero understanding of property ownership, and a very limited capacity for fear — most kender only ever experience it through magic designed to terrify people, such as that broadcast by dragons or powerful undead, and even then, it's very muted. This unholy combination of traits makes them prone to doing very Chaotic Stupid things and is one of the reasons why they are The Scrappy for D&D players. Both in and out of universe they're considered Too Dumb to Live, and in-universe humans are baffled by the fact that they're not going extinct given their combination of high childhood mortality rates and adult kenders rarely understanding how reproduction works (or how to take care of their offspring).
- In the Dragonlance: The New Adventures novel series, Koi Fearbreaker has made it her goal to become the first kender to experience fear, after seeing how many of them have died because they weren't afraid when they should have been.
- This likewise shows up when a character needs to fail a Valor roll or else spend Willpower to avoid doing something foolhardy. And if they do spend Willpower, then they'll accrue Limit, and when it finally tops off, something stupid and horrifying will happen.
- Various Charms can turn even the wimpiest of losers into a Fearless Fool. One Infernal Charm in particular, Cosmic Transcendence of Valor, makes you unable to feel any kind of fear — even when you're staring at the depth of Oblivion.
- One demonic, gluttonous race called the Gordians (imagine a cross between an ogre and a dwarf that has been fed on a steady diet of lard) in Palladium's Land of the Damned One: Chaos Lands are described as having eggshell thin egos and going to insane lengths to prove themselves worthy ("You call Throka coward? Watch, Throka kill Dragon!").
- Scion has Virtues that divine beings possess. Two of these are Courage and Valor. The higher your score, the more power you can draw from them... and the harder it is to resist them. If you want to act against them, you either need to fail a Virtue roll or spend Willpower. (So if you're half-dead and someone is attacked by Titanspawn, you roll Valor — and if you succeed, you have to save them even though you'll probably die trying.) This also comes with the Virtue Extremity — if you somehow manage to keep avoiding your higher Virtues, you will eventually snap and pursue them without any thought towards your own well-being.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Imperium of Man as a whole can be seen as this. However, humanity is not just a Fearless Fool, but an extremely well-armed fool, too.
- The Orks too, arguably. Although the only reason for their lack of fear is they were the only race not affected by the Nightbringer, they definitely appear Fearless Fools to the rest of the galaxy. One savvy (insane even by Ork standards, but still savvy) ork boss knows that Orks aren't afraid to die. So, when da boyz piss him off he tears their arms off instead. THAT intimidates them.
- "And they shall know no fear" — except that that would indeed make Space Marines fools. So often enough in the fluff, a character will admit that they do know fear, they just don't let it rule them.
- The rule "And They Shall Know No Fear" ups the odds that the Space Marines will rally after falling back from combat. With their latest codex, it combines with "Combat Tactics" to let them escape fights they can't win, hop back to a safe firing range, and continue blasting away. Fear is just their way of knowing when they need to change tactics.
- In the Deathwatch RPG, Space Marines really don't know fear. Fear that can kill humans or make them insane just makes Space Marines lose cohesion as a fighting unit. The lack of fear is one reason why Space Marines have difficulty understanding humans. The closest thing to fear that they feel is disorientation and discomfort.
- By contrast, there's a universal special rule called Fearless. It used to come with the "No Retreat" clause (which has since been abolished), which caused extra casualties when a Fearless unit lost a close combat.note The most famous example of "Fearless" units are Khorne Berserkers, who undergo lobotomies to remove their frontal lobes, completely removing their ability to feel fear.
- The Space Wolves invoke this with their assault units. Where most Chapters have their Marines progress as both Devastators and Assault Marines before having demonstrated they have the skill to stand and the sense not to rush in are moved to the main battle line as Tactical Marines, the Bloodclaws and Skyclaws are the Wolves' newest recruits, being both young and stupid enough to try Crazy Enough to Work tactics. By contrast, their Long Fangs are much Older and Wiser, having abandoned the Glory Seeker ways of their youth.
- Dawn of War gives these two quotes:
Foolish are those who fear nothing, yet claim to know everything.
Brave are they who know everything yet fear nothing.
- The Tyranids are similar — while they aren't capable of feeling fear, they can and do retreat if the Zerg Rush tactic doesn't seem to be working. In fact, it might be said that "fearless" in most 40K terms is not synonymous with "lacking common sense". The vast majority of 'nids probably do fall into this trope, but only in the sense that without their psychic synapse creatures to guide them, they are little more intelligent than dogs.
- The (pre-6th edition)note Necron codex explains that while they don't actually feel fear, they still need to take morale tests for pinning and such because the best tactical move would be to stay down.
- Over in classic Warhammer, frenzied units often fall into this due to Unstoppable Rage — units with frenzy are totally immune to psychology effects like terror or panic and get bonus attacks, but at the same time, they automatically surge forward at enemy units, even when this would involve running through Hollywood Quicksand, over a cliff, into a necropolis occupied by swarms of the undead, or into a position where a unit of Chaos Knights led by Archaon, Lord of the End Times has a flank charge open. Of course the survivors lose their Frenzy after suffering a bad round of combat, but against some opponents, that's not going to leave a whole lot of sadder but wiser units.
- Also in the fantasy version, we have Dwarf Slayers who intentionally invoke this in-universe. Occasionally, a dwarf will do something that so destroys his honor (like, say, leading a troop into a blazingly obvious trap that kills everyone else) that their only recourse is ritual suicide; not quietly in their own homes, of course, but rather by finding the largest, most dangerous thing in the land and charging at it shirtless with a hand-axe. They start as Troll Slayers, and eventually move up to Giant, Dragon or Daemon slayers. Note that these aren't badges of armor; they're warnings to not come between this orange-mohawked ball of death and something large and nasty enough to actually kill them. This is because the dwarves are so stubborn as an entire race, that they're psychologically incapable of suicide in any other fashion than "at the hands of a ridiculously dangerous enemy". Gotrek, the most famous Slayer and most "successful" was only finally killed when the entire universe was destroyed by the Chaos Gods, and even then it's implied he was resurrected as one of the new Dwarven Pantheon.
- Units with the "Stupidity" rule are also immune to psychology (fear and terror effects). They are literally too dumb to realize they should be frightened.
- Magic: The Gathering: Knights of Embereth, one of the five courts of Eldraine, zig-zag this; they believe courage to be the highest and most important virtue, and as such refuse to carry shields, and take on especially dangerous or frightening quests, especially ones that require them to face their own personal fears. However, they're not stupid. They know full well that recklessness is not courage, and is in fact a good way to get yourself killed; instead, view fear as a motivating force, and a few even learn to channel it into a rare form of magic called "phobomancy." A favored saying of theirs is "Fear is proof that foe is worthy of the end of your lance."
- Wagner's Siegfried. Wagner explicitly described him as The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was (the name of an old fairy tale). And it's what kills him in the end...
- In The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios, the guests themselves are this in the context of the ride's story, where they all willingly agree to go out into the city that's currently infested with some of Spider-Man's most deadly villains just to get J. Jonah Jameson the scoop on what's happening out there.
- In Banjo-Kazooie, almost nobody is safe from Kazooie's wisecracks and snarks. This includes larger and scarier bosses and this often always gets the duo into trouble. Especially for Banjo who would rather settle things peacefully than fight.
- In Darkest Dungeon, any hero with the "Risk Taker" quirk becomes this, gaining increased damage but also having reduced Dodge. The Ancestor will also sometimes warn you not to become one of these.
"Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer."
- Final Fantasy XIV: The Lancer storyline revolves around this. Guildmaster Ywain teaches adventurers that a lancer must have courage in order to effectively fulfill their role as a damage dealer; he specifically points out that courage is not an absence of fear, but a combination of composure and resolve. In contrast, the questline's antagonist, Foulques, wholeheartedly believes that true courage is the willingness to throw yourself into danger sight unseen. Ywain decries Foulques' mindset as "vainglorious tripe", and Foulques ends up proving him right in the Level 20 and 30 quests, when he finds himself outmatched (by the Lord of the Bramble Patch at Lv.20 and upon challenging the player at Lv.30) and shows that for all his showboating, he is not as immune to fear as he would like to think.
- Boyfriend and Girlfriend from Friday Night Funkin' take on demons, red-headed hitmen, and eldritch abominations with nothing less than optimism and unbridled cheer. The only thing that either of them actually seems to be afraid of is thunder, which is especially hilarious when you can see Girlfriend freaking out over it in the background during Week 2, and not over the giant, terrifying lemon-headed monster bleeding from its eyes and mouth that her boyfriend is currently rap battling.
- God of War, Magni and Móði have this combined with a bit of Suicidal Overconfidence. The two of them were fated to survive the events of Ragnarok itself so they're completely convinced that they are invincible. As far as they are concerned they have nothing to fear from some random dude and his kid. Big mistake. After Kratos axes Magni, this attitude goes into a complete 180 and turns Móði into a Dirty Coward who runs whenever the tables are turned on him.
- Hollow Knight: The Thirteenth Precept of Zote the Mighty is 'Never Be Afraid'. As he explains it, feeling fear can only hold you back, facing your fears takes too much effort, so you should just not be afraid in the first place. Zote follows this precept faithfully by being only irritated in such situations as being chewed on by a Vengefly King, facing the Knight in single combat, and being webbed up in Deepnest. And showing no gratitude to the Knight for saving him in these situations.
- The eponymous Kerbals of Kerbal Space Program are fearless enough to want to go to space and foolish enough to fly there in the spacecraft you built. Special mention goes to Jebediah Kerman, Valentina Kerman, and any random 10% of the white-suit Kerbals, all of whom bear a hidden "BadS = true" attribute — these men and women will never show any trepidation about the craft, its current explodiness or trajectory. They will all wear their same gleeful smiles all the way to whatever landing awaits them. Jebediah's Steam trading card lampshades this perfectly.
Fearless? Brainless? Who can tell?
- In Medieval II: Total War, this is brought up in a general's speech, when he describes anyone who is genuinely not afraid before a battle as a "moon-struck fool."
- Might & Magic VIII, with the artifact Berserker Belt. It raises the Might stat to obscene levels and grants immunity to fear... at the considerable expense of both Accuracy and Armor Class. The trope is mentioned in the Flavor Text, describing the belt as a failed attempt to create an ultimate warrior.
- Monster Hunter:
- In Monster Hunter 3 (Tri), part of the reason why the Great Jaggi and the smaller Jaggis that accompany it are the series Butt-Monkey is a combination of this, Bullying a Dragon, and Too Dumb to Live. It has a tendency to pick fights they can't win, even in large numbers. This contrasts the Great Maccao, its replacement in Monster Hunter Generations which is a Dirty Coward that tends to avoid any real danger.
- In Monster Hunter: World, this spot is taken by Odogaron, a huge, lean, speedy dog-thing with way too many claws. Odogaron is a legitimately dangerous monster, being the apex predator of the Rotten Vale and is so vicious it can shred most other monsters it gets into fights with... but it will also pick fights with Deviljho (who will pick it up and use it like a chew toy), and Vaal Hazak (the resident Elder Dragon, who fends off Odogaron with its passive defenses).
- Orcs Must Die!:
- The player character. Throughout the levels, he constantly shows no fear and continues to taunt the invading Orcs, despite the fact that the world appears doomed as there are not enough Warmages to stop the Orcs.
Old Warmage: Now she's bound the numberless horde to her will and returns to teach the Order harsh lessons in humility and subservience. But she's in for a surprise; I'm reasonably sure my apprentice is unteachable.
- The Old Warmage shows a bit of grudging respect for his Apprentice in the end, admitting that the Apprentice was the only member of the Order brave enough, or foolish enough, to sacrifice magic to save the world.
- The player character. Throughout the levels, he constantly shows no fear and continues to taunt the invading Orcs, despite the fact that the world appears doomed as there are not enough Warmages to stop the Orcs.
- Touhou Project has this in the form of fairies.
- Justified with the Spellcard rules making official fights nonlethal, but you would think that, given that fighting is still painful, to the point where even true immortals just give up rather than keep getting hurt, some fairies would learn not to die in relentless Redshirt Army wave attacks at heroines who are functionally impossible for a basic nameless fairy to kill, no matter the odds, especially since some don't even have offensive powers, and essentially can only harm a heroine by simply standing there as the heroine blindly collides with her. As a justification for the fearlessness (if not the aggression in the first place), fairies have lives tied to nature, and as long as nature exists, they will regenerate From a Single Cell.
- Cirno deserves special mention. In spite of being a fairly weak character (normally), she proudly boasts about how she's "The Strongest" (of the fairies, which isn't saying much, as most fairies are weaker than unpowered ordinary humans), and trying to prove it by repeatedly challenging beings far more powerful than herself, even though those characters have already easily curb-stomped her in the past. Apparently, The Fog of Ages is on extra strength for Cirno, and she can't remember the numerous humiliating defeats she seems to suffer on a regular basis.
- Likewise, though a heroine herself and of formidable power, Marisa Kirisame is an ordinary magician in a realm full of living goddesses and freakishly powerful monsters, performing such feats as casually stealing from ancient vampires, challenging goddesses to fights, stealing spells from Youkai that Cirno is able to recognize are very dangerous, and threatening to skin a live tiger. Suffice to say, the spellcard system has likely been the only thing keeping her alive.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, some of Akira's more reckless actions — such as continuing to stay in an apartment that he knows is haunted — are attributed to his unwillingness to be scared of the spirits that are haunting him.
- DSBT InsaniT: Troubling Unchildlike Behavior aside, Bear doesn't seem to notice when in a situation that will get him killed, as long as there is some fun to be had with it.
- Downplayed in the case of RWBY's Clover Ebi. His Semblance is Good Luck, meaning that the odds are always tilted in his favor. While he's not completely reckless, he always straddles the line between confidence and arrogance, doing things that would otherwise end badly like tossing a dust crystal in a mine full of unstable crystals, or falling out of an airship when there are flying Grimm in the air. He pushes his luck, literally, when arrest orders for Qrow go out, and he decides that he can take on both Qrow and Tyrian at the same time. Unsurprisingly, he dies by the end of the episode.
- Shrapnel: The Ugandan Knuckles warrior pride gives them a sort of bravery that makes them kinda dumb at times, rushing off on their own and putting themselves in danger. Sometimes their assessment of the situation actually isn’t half bad, such as the Commandah doing recon without telling Reznya first, but only because he’s seen firsthand how terrifyingly effective she is in combat and trusts that she will get to him in time if he calls for help. It also can lead to cases of them Bullying a Dragon with predictably bad results.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Ysengrin says something to this effect when Antimony admits she was scared during a fight.
Annie: In truth, Ysengrin, I was scared back there.
Ysengrin: Haha. Good. Scared is good. It sharpens your senses, increases your resolve.
- Five Waves Fury in Keychain of Creation has a Valor score of 5...and doesn't it just show. All characters have four Virtues: Compassion, Conviction, Temperance and Valor. Each Virtue is ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 being low and 5 being extremely high. In fact, a Virtue of 4 or above is overpowering, and compels someone to action (or inaction) even if they know it's a bad idea. In the case of Fury, her absurdly high Valor means she is scared of nothing, not even her Deathlord boss, The First and Forsaken Lion.
- No Rest for the Wicked: The Boy. (Since he's The Boy Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was, and The Fool — what a surprise.)
- Oglaf provides the current page picture with this strip, where an Emotion Eater wraith eats the character's fear.
- In The Order of the Stick, Miko Miyazaki calls Xykon (a lich) an unholy abomination. Redcloak proceeds to explain why Xykon's far more natural than she is. Specifically, he became a lich to continue to survive, survival being a basic instinct. Miko, however, has a class feature removing fear, which Redcloak argues is such a fundamental instinct that the act of removing it makes the paladin far more unnatural than Xykon.
- Tikoloteo from Restaurante Macoatl, fits this trope perfectly he usually takes the most dangerous path, even worst because he used to be a Tour guide.
- Jareth in Roommates is thought to be this in-universe. In reality, he acts this way because he is so powerful that he rarely is in any actual danger (if he looks concerned Oh, Crap! is on the horizon) so he is an inversion.
- Rak from Tower of God. In a test where the wrong decision would cost his head, he figures that the lack of clues must have meant that he had to gamble. That was one of his smarter moves.
- In Yokoka's Quest, after Yokoka has finished her training in the underground village, she just wants to fight, without regard for how dangerous her opponent may be.
- Vax of Critical Role uses the line between "brave" and "foolhardy" like a skipping rope, frequently rushing into dangerous situations without waiting for backup, going toe-to-toe against much stronger enemies, or pranking the goliath barbarian. He generally hears about it from the rest of the party after the fact.
- Rob from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes seems to go out of his way to pick fights with Creturians who invade his city.
- Leeroy Jenkins Video: Leeroy certainly doesn't care that he's aggroing a lot of whelps that can lead to his death. All he cares about is that he's not chicken and will face those threats singlehandedly without any silly plans. Time's up, let's do this, LEEROOOOOOOOY JEEEEEENKIIINNNNSSS!!!
- Denied by Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
374. I am not to combine the advantage Fearless and the disadvantage Curious in the same character again.
- Arcane: Going hand-in-hand with some of her Fatal Flaws, Vi has a tendency to just jump into action and start punching people. She never shows any hesitation in starting a fight even when she knows she's outmanned and outgunned. This has some seriously negative consequences for her. Though on the flip side of this, Vi is only fearless when it comes to herself, when it comes to others, especially those she cares about, she can often become distracted and overwhelmed by fear of them being harmed.
- Sterling Archer from Archer often displays nearly suicidal levels of overconfidence and certainty that whatever he does will work out with no consequences for him, no matter the odds against him. This frequently leads him to charge headfirst into danger against the advice of other, more level headed people, and be shocked when he needs to be saved from his own recklessness. This and his general immaturity are probably his greatest flaws.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Paco lampshades this as applied to the Green Lanterns, saying that "a man without fear has a serious mental condition."
- A Bonkers short has a messenger service with Fawn Deer as the clerk and a customer comes in wanting their most fearless rider to deliver his item. Fawn Deer notes "Our most fearless rider is right over there," and points to a grave, complete with headstone; when the customer reacts into confusion and Fawn notes in complete earnestness, "Sometimes, it's smart to show a little fear!"
- Danny Phantom: Jack Fenton to a tee. He has a very bad habit of rushing off into battle whenever a ghost appears. Unfortunately he's only semi-competent when it comes to fighting, being he's the Bumbling Dad and all. He's often saved either through his superpowered son or just plain luck. Though once in a blue moon, he will show above-average skills.
- Dave the Barbarian suffered this while wearing the Red Sweater of Courage. He becomes so confident and fearless, he arranged for three of his worst enemies to team up against him to give himself a challenge. Rather than think of a plan to beat them as he normally would, Dave just charged in head first and got pummeled for it. Repeatedly.
- Dewey Duck in Ducktales 2017 takes after his mother's love of adventuring. And her impulsiveness as well, unfortunately, which often causes him to rush headfirst into danger without ever considering the consequences. In the very first episode, he tries to dance through a laser grid and, predictably, triggers every single trap. The only reason he survives is that his uncle Donald is nearby and prepared to disable them before he's hurt.
- An episode of Earthworm Jim where Jim ends up in a world similar to The Wizard of Oz, where all his friends and enemies play the roles of the characters, has the Hamsternator playing the role of the Cowardly Lion... However, instead of always being afraid, he never feels any fear whatsoever, leading him to do outlandish, dangerous things that almost always end with him getting injured. This includes running out in front of an (offscreen) big truck.
- Invoked in Fat Dog Mendoza. As Fat Dog himself puts it, "Being fearless and being dumb usually go hand-in-hand."
- The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: In "F.O.N.A.A.", Scratch decides to curse Molly with fearlessness for twenty-four hours, mostly so she'll get over her fear of the creepy mascot of the local dentist's office. It backfires when Molly decides to go around recklessly facing her various fears, culminating in Molly launching herself across town with a trebuchet.
- Max Goof from Goof Troop is very clever when it comes to coming up with ideas. When it comes to thinking the ideas through... not so much. Over the course of the series, he wanted to help a baby bear find its parents, go to the big city unsupervised, skate on a ramp that even a famous professional thought was too dangerous, try to save his dad from The Mafia by himself, among other things. He treats his more sensible friend, PJ, as The Drag-Along. In multiple episodes, Max ends up in serious danger because he was being too careless.
Max: Remember the three rules of camping. Be clean, be courteous, and be careful. Helping this little guy is the courteous thing to do.
PJ: You let me know when we hit that part about "careful".
- In an episode of Hilda two Viking clans are fighting over a medallion that makes those who touch it lose their fear. Each night they fight over it, and the next night both clans are resurrected and they fight again. Whichever clan has the medallion inevitably loses the fight and gets slaughtered by the other clan, because completely removing their fear and caution makes them fight recklessly, while the clan who doesn't have possession of the medallion fights with better tactics and prevails.
- Kaeloo: Violasse keeps running head-first into bad situations because she's curious to explore new places and lacks the intelligence to realize that she's in danger, and the danger is augmented by her terrible luck.
- Miraculous Ladybug: Chloé's mother, Audrey Bourgeois, isn't fazed in front of Akumatized people, even though she definitely should be. It's not exactly bravery on her part; it's just that Audrey is so arrogant that the idea that things might go poorly for her doesn't even register, and she has no sense of danger as a result.
- Molly of Denali: "Molly and the Great One" introduces Mac McFadden, a celebrity outdoorsman who has done multiple dangerous stunts, including diving into an active volcano. In the special, he tries to make it to the top of Denali amidst a blizzard and to make a long story short, it does not go well, and by the end, his leg is in a cast.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Rainbow Dash is the most willing to face whatever conflict happens in an episode, but her brashness when trying to solve the problem has her make impulsive decisions that more-or-less make the problem worst than it was.
- In The New Batman Adventures episode "Never Fear", the Scarecrow creates a toxin that removes fears and inhibitions, making everyone who falls under its influence — Batman for one — thoroughly reckless... and worse. In Batman's case, it also renders him rather heartless, as he no longer fears what will happen if he breaks his own rule and murders a criminal. The writers thus make the point that fear is necessary to the very survival of civilization, as it keeps people from acting on their worst impulses most of the time; we would not want to be around to see what would happen if Scarecrow had succeeded in turning everybody in Gotham into fearless fools with his gas as he was threatening to do.
- The Penguins of Madagascar:
- Mort, the butt-monkey of the show doesn't feel pain because, according to Kowalski, he's simply not aware that he's in danger.
- An episode has the penguins deal with a dodo cloned from Kowalski's inventions from a feather they mistook to be from an extinct species of penguin that they wanted to fight on their team. Although the penguins found his fearlessness appealing at first, they very soon realize that with fearlessness comes a complete and utter disregard for personal safety as the dodo repeatedly gets himself killed in a variety of ways, forcing the penguins to resurrect him numerous times.note
- Rocket Power features the rebellious Otto Rocket, a Competition Freak who is willing to take risks even under the warning of how dangerous it could be. Unsurprisingly, he would pay for his foolishness every time.
- Scooby-Doo: When faced with a monster Scrappy Doo always says "Let me at 'em!" and punches the air, while Shaggy and Scooby grab him and run.
- Averted a few times like in "The Nutcracker Scoob", Scrappy has zero problem defeating a cat that's bigger than him and throwing it right out the building. He also dispatches a larger human Farquard in Boo Brothers.
- Also averted in "South Seas Scare" where he throws an honest-to-goodness lava monster back into the volcano at the end of the short.
- Not to mention at the end of "The Scarab Lives!" he manages to get a one-up on The titular Scarab by jumping on his head and holding his paws over the Scarab's eyes, allowing, Shaggy and Scooby to barrel into them and subdue the Scarab.
- At the end of "The Ghoul, The Bat, and The Ugly" when the Monster of the Week tries escaping through a revolving door, Scrappy runs after him and spams it so that it spins it right back out again and causes it to crash into a pool table.
Velma: You got him alright, Scrappy! Right behind the 8-Ball!
- Also, in "Mummy's The Word", where Scrappy takes on a bunch of crocodiles by leaping from croc to croc, forcing each one's mouth shut.
- Subverted in "Gem of a Case", where Scrappy hears Shaggy out after he's pulled back.
- And in "The Chinese Food Factory", made a lasso out of nothing but cooked noodles to catch the main antagonist. It worked.
- The Tick: The Tick himself is Nigh-Invulnerable and completely insane. This means that no amount of danger can stop him from serving the evildoers a hot justice sandwich (no toppings necessary!)
- Hank Venture from The Venture Bros., as opposed to his Cowardly Lion brother Dean. He idolized his bodyguard Brock Samson and tries to emulate him whenever he can. Unfortunately for him, Brock is an ultra-violent badass and Sociopathic Hero, leading Hank to make foolishly suicidal choices.
- Urbach-Wiethe Disease is a very rare condition that causes calcium deposits to form in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the fear response. Thus, those with the condition experience no fear or other traumatic symptoms even in dangerous situations such as being held at knifepoint, though they still do recognize intellectually that it is a good idea to (say) get out of the way of oncoming traffic. An interview with one sufferer, identified only as "S.M." for safety reasons, was featured on NPR's Invisibilia podcast, describing symptoms that sound remarkably like this trope.
- This is frequently an issue for animals living in isolated ecosystems which are unfamiliar with mainland predators. They do not understand that these are dangerous animals that should be avoided, especially if the environment in which it normally lives has no or few predators to begin with. For example, Antarctic land animals like seals and penguins are comfortable around humans because there are no large land predators on the entire continent. This allowed early explorers to easily kill droves of them simply because they didn't know they should flee. The isolation of the dodos on Mauritius is believed to have contributed to their extinction since they couldn't recognize the sailors and the predatory animals they brought as threats to their well-being.