Follow TV Tropes


Fragile Speedster

Go To
You've heard of Glass Cannons,
how about Glass Choppers?
"...I've always found it a mystery. When you're huge and bulky, with heavy arms and armour, why do you think that makes you stronger? You're all... Too slow."

The Fragile Speedster is fast. If you blink, they're not there anymore. They appear, strike, and vanish in the blink of an eye. Nine times out of ten, their occupation is a thief, a Ninja, or some other type of The Sneaky Guy or a girl with acrobatic fighting style. Anyone whose Elemental Power is air or wind is almost guaranteed to land in this position.

Still, being fast has its downsides — what you gain in mobility, you lose in durability. After all, it's hard to keep up that kind of speed when your armor is weighing you down. As a result, the Fragile Speedster is often forced to rely on dodging abilities to avoid getting struck in the first place, and if they do take a hit, down they go.

A Fragile Speedster often relies on Hit-and-Run Tactics or Confusion Fu to gain an advantage over slower foes. They tend to have a quick attack speed (and thus possibly a high attack rate). If the character makes up for a lack of durability by using speed as a way of evading attacks, they may even function similarly to a Stone Wall via a tactic referred to as being a "Blink Tank".

The Fragile Speedster could be either a Red Oni or Blue Oni depending on what they prioritize most. A Red Oni version, would desire absolute speed and face their opponents up close-and-personal relentlessly. The Blue Oni version, would function more like a Combat Pragmatist, focusing more on versatility and adapting new techniques, to get an edge over the opposition (like real Ninjas did).

Though exaggerated in fiction, this trope has some basis in Real Life. Armor is heavy.

They tend to play as Skill Gate Characters in video games, especially fighting games, where they tend to lend themselves to Button Mashing. However, they just as often dominate the tier lists — having poor defense doesn't mean diddly-squat if you never get hit. Racing games often have a variant where the lighter vehicles have high acceleration and turning, but have a less powerful engine, lower top speed, and are also generally much easier for other racers to knock off the track in collisions due to their low mass.

Often overlaps with Glass Cannon, creating an archetype that sacrifices durability for strength as well as speed, and Fragile Flyer. Contrast Mighty Glacier, who sacrifices speed for strength. Heavy characters can sometimes turn into Fragile Speedsters via Shed Armor, Gain Speed. Contrast the Lightning Bruiser, who is fast and powerful without any loss to durability. See also Catching the Speedster, which tends to put them out of commision.

A form of Competitive Balance.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Bamse: Lille Skutt, the small white rabbit from the Swedish comic, is extremely fast, but also extremely small and fragile. He's very aware of this, and as a result is afraid of most things that move and quite a few things that don't.
  • The Flash: All the various speedsters. Depending on the Writer, the Speed Force, and the day of the week, the Flash can be taken out with a well-timed punch from an average woman because their endurance is simply that of a normal peak-level athlete. When his Required Secondary Powers are working properly, Flash is more of a Lightning Bruiser; able to deal incredible damage and take it, too.
  • She-Hulk: The speedster interns at the main law firm have a clause in their contracts that requires their employers to provide hazard pay if circumstances require them to fight, because they do not have combat training and any injuries they suffer could result in accelerated blood loss.
  • Sin City: Kevin is fast but fragile, compared to Mighty Glacier Marv. Marv has to handcuff himself to Kevin to land a single punch, but it knocks Kevin out cold.
  • Spider-Man: Depending on who writes him, Spider-Man is much sturdier than the average non-powered civilian, but compared to some of his superpowered pals (e.g. Hulk and Thor) he's a lightweight. His fighting style is all about using his speed and reflexes (and his Spider-Sense giving him a few crucial seconds' warning of incoming attacks) to dodge around using Hit-and-Run Tactics not to mention constantly running his mouth to annoy opponents and break their concentration. However, subverted as Spidey has taken powerful blows from the Juggernaut and survived a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Phoenix-Enhanced Colossus, and Spider-Man is much stronger than the likes of Wolverine, Captain America, Luke Cage and Black Panther; so overall Spidey walks the line between this trope and Lightning Bruiser.
  • Wonder Woman: The villain Mayfly has superspeed without all of the Required Secondary Powers. In Volume 2 this led to her rather gory death when she ran into a gate at nearly full speed while trying to escape prison.
  • X-Men:
    • X-23 is faster, more agile, and more acrobatic than her gene donor Wolverine, frequently utilizing Combat Parkour to dodge enemies and bring her foot claws into play. However because only her claws are bonded with adamantium she's much more vulnerable to being disabled by broken bones or severed limbs, and a clean head shot can put her down until she heals. Laura therefore relies mainly on just plain not getting hit in a fight, though she's recently taken to wearing an armored costume to help make up for her lack of durability. She does also heal faster, as well.
      • Ironically Wolverine was actually this in his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk #180-181; both Hulk and The Wendigo could've smashed the crap out of him if they could land a hit, but Wolverine was simply too agile for both of them (Hulk even calls him "little rabbit"). It's worth mentioning this was before Wolverine's Adamantium skeleton was established, which made him a Lightning Bruiser from then on.
    • Angel from the original X-Men. His mutant ability grants him Flight an incredible aerial advantage and speed but compared to the villains he's facing and his fellow Mutants (e.g. Beast), one powerful attack will put him down. Subverted when Apocalypse turns him into Archangel who has metal wings and is much tougher.
    • Banshee has great speed and an aerial advantage but once he's been downed, he's out for the count.
    • Nightcrawler has teleportation powers aka "Bamf" which mean getting a hit on him is near impossible but strong foes can overpower him if they get a good attack in.
    • Jubilee is pretty speedy and has strong attacks (especially as a vampire) but she's one of the physically weakest X-Men. Especially in the 90s.
    • Gambit while certainly above Badass Normal doesn't display any extreme Super-Strength or durability, so his melee fighting prowess comes from his agility. This is how helped Gambit was able to survive a one on one fight with Gladiator, who acknowledged his mobility before grabbing Gambit's foot and overpowering him. However, Gambit still turned the tables with a kinetic energy blast created from a full deck of cards.
    • Pietro Maximoff alias Quicksilver may be able to break the sound barrier and deliver punches at the speed of light, but if a Tank does manage to land a hit, he's usually down and out. Depending on the writer, he might be presented as more of a Lightning Bruiser having taken some serious damage on multiple occasions, which logically should be the case all the time, as a body that can withstand the stress of traveling at the speeds he regularly hits should be immensely durable. This trope definitely applies for Quicksilver in X-Men: Evolution. Getting hit once by any attack (regardless of its strength) usually sent this guy down for the count.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Buffy/Stargate Crossover fic All Your Base are Belong to Her, Dawn's extreme mobility is derived via Teleportation, but in all other respects she's still a slender, untrained, and definitely non-athletic girl who is in serious trouble if anyone manages to land a solid hit.
  • Vapors has Aiko Uzumaki, who can take a hit if she has to, but ends up injured relatively often. However, she uses her size and speed to avoid most hits, especially when she learns Hiraishin.
  • Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles has Quick Chaser, who can easily outmaneuver slower opponents, but may get crippled if his wings are as much as scratched by a bullet.
  • In Power Rangers Mythos, Ogma, a monster seemingly made of paper, is very fast in a fight, but once the Zords manage to make contact with him he goes down relatively quickly.
  • Cycles Upon Cycles: The Piranha buggy. Based on the Hellion frame, it's fast but lightly armored. It has enough room for an armored Marine and his gun or his shield, but not both, so if they have to bail out for whatever reason, they will be relatively unprotected.
  • Dragon Ball Reboot: The spin-off establishes that Gine could move at an impressive speed for a Saiyan but couldn't dish out a lot of damage or take more than a few hits due to her petite and slender build. Also, with her physically weak attacks, Gine often has to strike her opponent in the same spot multiple times before she can inflict any meaningful damage. This is even reflected in her fighting style which consists of Hit-and-Run Tactics that rely on Gine being able to move fast enough to dodge anything her opponent can throw at her.
  • Due to Luffy training her, in Supernova (One Piece) Nami knows the three movement based Rokushiki (Soru, Geppou, and Kami-e) well enough that she can take on the likes of Don Krieg and easily dodge every attack. However, the one attack that does land nearly takes her out of the fight due to Krieg's sheer strength.
  • In the Naruto fanfic Sugar Plums Ume is wind natures and the fastest person in her class, created a jutsu that allowed her to double jump, and uses a quick draw sword style. She is also physically the smallest member of her class and has abnormally low chakra for a shinobi that makes her much more vulnerable to harm the longer a fight goes on. Which lends to why she has a quick style because the moment someone turns a fight into a test of stamina she is sure to lose.

    Film - Animated 
  • The Incredibles: Dash can outrun damn near anything that tries an attempt on his life, but often gets knocked around like a ragdoll if he is involved in physical combat. The latter part is justified in that he's only 10 years old.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Death Race: In the opening scene, Frank drops his "tombstone" leaving his gas tank exposed to Joe's rack of missiles. However, Frank does have speed as an advantage and tries to finish the race. Joe blows him up on the last lap. He does however, manage to achieve a Pyrrhic Victory as his burning wreckage slides over the finish line in 1st place.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla (1998): Godzilla. Unlike his other incarnations, in which the main difficulty for the humans is finding anything that even puts a dent in him, this time the difficulty is keeping him in one place long enough to get a decent shot at him (not helped by an extreme case of A-Team Firing), and even basic military ordinance causes him to bleed. At the end, they tangle him up in the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, and unable to escape this time, Godzilla goes down very easily.
    • Godzilla (2014): The male MUTO, thanks to flight and its relatively small size, is able to employ hit-and-run tactics against Godzilla but goes down instantly when Godzilla manages to get a direct hit in. The female, which is flightless, is a Mighty Glacier. This actually complements their separate fighting styles, allowing the two to work together well enough to gain the advantage against Godzilla: While the male is distracting Godzilla, it allows the much bigger and stronger female to attack Godzilla from behind. When Godzilla reacts to this and begins to overpower the female, the male flies around and attacks Godzilla again from behind, distracting him and repeating the cycle.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): While Mothra is still an Alpha Titan and powerful Kaiju, compared to Lightning Bruisers Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah, Mothra definitely leans towards the fragile flying-type similar to the aforementioned Male MUTO. She makes her Big Damn Heroes moment in the Final Battle blitzing even Rodan who can outpace fighter jets, but she gets greatly injured during her bout with the pterosaur and unlike her partner Goji is killed when hit with Ghidorah's Gravity Beams.
    • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus: Megaguirus is among the fastest kaiju, using her speed to outmaneuver Godzilla at every turn, but is frail and easily destroyed once Godzilla adapts to her style.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Prince Nuada. While much faster and more agile than the titular character, he suffers from a condition akin to hemophilia that leads to him having to dodge rather than tank Hellboy's attacks.
  • Kick-Ass: Hit-Girl can defeat criminals only because she is very fast, agile and skilled. When facing Frank d'Amico, however, she's immediately outclassed because he too is a skilled martial artist while also being an adult while she's a child.
  • Jurassic Park: The Gallimimus are among the fastest dinosaurs in the park, but lack any other defenses against predators and as such are easily killed by the Tyrannosaurus rex (who is a Lightning Bruiser). Similarly the Velociraptors are speedy killers towards similarly sized prey, but anything bigger than them are perfectly capable of taking them down (the aforementioned T. rex and the Indominus rex from the fourth film).
  • Lightspeed: The titular character. Unlike most, this speedster shows actual negative effects from his power, ranging from windburn to problems with his metabolism and heart.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: When Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver) appears, he's the only character with superspeed, but even no-powers Clint Barton can knock him out in one punch. He's also the last one to die in the battle.
    • WandaVision: Pietro's nephew Tommy shares his uncle's speed but is even more fragile, even his brother Billy can subdue him by holding out his hand at the right moment and telekinetically stopping him in his tracks.
    • Sam Wilson/the Falcon is a Badass Normal type fragile speedster. In the air he's fast enough to serve as a blink tank against the full firepower of a Helicarrier, at one point being the only person drawing their fire while Cap and his other allies are occupied elsewhere, but tends to suffer when forced into close-quarters combat without his wings. Sam does manage to overcome this in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier thanks to a new armoured suit from Wakanda and implementing Cap's Vibranium shield into his fighting style.
    • Downplayed with Spider-Man; he's still a Lightning Bruiser compared to most of the cast but when up against bigger and stronger foes, he falls into this. As seen when he fought Giant-Man, Cull Obsidian and Thanos, Spidey can swing and jump circles around them and dodge their blows due to his small teenage frame. But when he does get caught by them, he tends to get slammed down very hard and needs time to recover, although keep in mind, most other Avengers would be greatly injured — if not killed were they in Peter's place.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket Raccoon. Like a Real Life raccoon he can jump four feet and is extremely agile, but nevertheless he's still a small animal at the end of the day and can be easily picked up or overpowered by the average human-sized enemy.
  • Pacific Rim: Raiju is the fastest Kaiju on record, moving so quick it can barely be seen by the good guys. But the moment it charges head on it gets ripped in half, compared to other kaiju that can survive getting stabbed in the head or a nuclear detonation.
  • Rob Roy: Archibald Cunningham is a shrimpy fop who gets tossed on his ass whenever someone gets his hands on him. On the other hand, he's a Master Swordsman who makes sport of his opponents by running circles around them.
  • Sin City: Kevin is fast and hits hard, but can't take a single punch from Marv before going down.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Zigzagged. While renowned for his supersonic speed, Sonic's small height and lithe figure keep him from hurting a huge, burly biker at a bar even with a bottle. There's also the fact that being in close-proximity to some explosions knocks him out cold, even to the point of nearly dying. However, this was due to Sonic not understanding his powers or how they work, but he eventually unleashes his full strength once he gains the will to actively fight Robotnik in the climax, hitting his ship with enough strength — while powered by conducted electricity — to send him flying through a portal and send him packing into the Mushroom Planet.
  • Star Wars:
    • The TIE fighters have no shields, instead focusing on being fast, maneuverable, and cheap to mass-produce. Their high casualty rate is considered acceptable by the Empire. The TIE Interceptor is a newer model built according to the same philosophy, which is to say it's even faster. The Rebel equivalent is the A-Wing, which does have shields, they're just not as strong as those of the X-Wing.
    • Jedi tend to favor these, with many of their personal ships lacking even shields and focusing heavily on speed. This is because, thanks to being Jedi, they can push the capabilities of the ship to its limits; shields are dead weight when you can basically dodge rain.
  • Tombstone: Doc Holliday is dying of consumption and can often barely stand due to illness, but he's still damn fast on the draw.
  • Transformers Film Series: The Arcee Sisters, particular emphasis when in the final battle of Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, one of them is easily shattered after one hit. The same goes for Jazz from Transformers (2007). He's even smaller than Bumblebee, fast, and agile to the point of being able to pull a Colossus Climb on Brawl, but is launched and downed by a single shot then easily torn in half by Megatron. For the Decepticons themselves, there are also two notable examples: Frenzy and Alice. Both are comparatively very small for their kind and can as a result move very, very quickly. However, this comes with the downside that when they're actually directly hit, they go down for the fight almost as fast.
  • Whip It: The main character is the roller-derby version of a Fragile Speedster. Very fast and good at scoring points, but very tiny and easily knocked down if her opponent can catch her.

  • Animorphs:
    • Cassie prefers to fight as a wolf. As a wolf, she is fast and skillful, but not particularly strong or resistant when compared to the combat morphs of the other animorphs (grizzly bear, tiger and gorilla).
    • Tobias is permanently trapped in the body of a hawk. In combat, he dives from the sky and attacks one of the opponents as he swoops past. But a single strike of an opponent can incapacitate him.
    • Later in the plot, the Yeerks can also morph. And many of them choose to fight as cheetahs and then fight with great speed but little strength and resilience.
    • Andalites are very fast, but they are completely defenseless without their tail blade, and they do not suffer much damage in combat.
  • AMara in Codex Alera, whose primary abilities give her Bullet Time Super-Speed, but who doesn't have much in the way of earth — or metalcrafting to let her ignore damage she takes. In fact, the lack of Required Secondary Powers limits just how fast windcrafters can move without injury. Tavi nearly liquefied his arm at one point.
  • Annabeth Chase and Piper Mc Lean from The Heroes of Olympus are not as strong and resilient as the other demigods they fight with, which is why they rely more on agility and speed in combat. However, though they are not as strong and tough as other demigods, they are still physically superior to ordinary humans.
  • LACs in Honor Harrington have very high acceleration, but they're dead meat to anything that actually manages to hit them.
  • The Hunger Games: Rue can move through the treetops like Spider-Man, but is far too small and physically frail to face anyone in a one-on-one fight.
  • Unlike his fellow Main Characters, Fletcher Renn in Skulduggery Pleasant has virtually no combat training or ability whatsoever, and his only asset in a fight is his teleportation. He will go down from one solid punch, but as long as he keeps moving, he can hit his opponent again and again from every angle until they drop.
  • Trickster's Duet: Aly herself is a highly acrobatic knife-wielder like her dad (who is more of a Lightning Bruiser), but she's not as hardy as her mother the knight and doesn't take being hit hard well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The final season of Blake's 7 replaces the Liberator ("the most powerful fighting ship in the galaxy") with Scorpio (a nearly defenseless freighter whose experimental stardrive makes it the fastest ship in the galaxy.)
  • Deadliest Warrior: The two African warriors, the Zande and Shaka Zulu, go into battle with no armour whatsoever, and their rawhide/wicker shields offer little protection. However their very lightweight weapons, superb stamina and experience as hunters and fighters on the plains make catching and killing them quite difficult. The Aztec Jaguar warriors were historically renowned for their speed and agility, but in the show they are judged as still only on par with the Zande. In the fight, the Zande wins because he can outrun the Jaguar, but his real trump card was his weaponry; the Jaguar's layered cotton armour was proof against the Zande's arrows but was useless against the iron blades.
  • The eponymous protagonist of The Flash (2014) is this comparatively. Despite being more resistant to harm than the average person thanks to his Super-Speed, Barry will still injure himself if he runs into something at that speed, as part of his inexperience. Joe West outright tells him in the second episode, "You think because you can run real fast that you're invincible?".
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Several duels hinge on the Competitive Balance between this trope and Mighty Glacier, most notably the Viper (unarmored Fragile Speedster) vs. the Mountain (heavily-armored, freakishly strong Mighty Glacier, at least in comparison to the Viper; compared to most knights he's not even all that slow).
    • The overall battle doctrine of the Dornish people, though not to the extent of the Dothraki (who wear no armor at all). A knight would cook inside of heavy steel plate armor in the hot deserts of Dorne, so Dornish tactics opt for lighter leather or copper armor, and rely more on speed and agility. This is a real-life principle about armies fighting in arid regions: Saladin's armies in the Crusades similarly had lighter armor and similarly had to rely more on speed and agility.
    • Justified with Arya Stark, as she's a young girl. Arya's very light on her feet and quick with her sword, but a blow from someone bigger will often leave her incapacitated. The Hound has stunned her with one punch more than once, and this was how Polliver managed to get Needle off her. However later on Arya has averted this as she got back up from a kick from Brinne (who beat The Hound) quickly winning the latter's respect.
  • The titular Cool Starship of The Orville. As a mid-level explorer, it's stated that she's not as powerful as a heavy cruiser, and she tends to take considerable damage if she's hit, but she can literally fly circles around a Krill destroyer courtesy of Ace Pilot Malloy (a maneuver he calls "hugging the donkey").
  • The Future Predator from Primeval is so dangerous because he is so fast. Not even trained soldiers chasing him with their rifles are fast enough to shoot him. However, he is (by the standards of other predators), not particularly strong and tough. A Future Predator is capable of hunting a lion, but he has no chance against a Gorgonopsid.
  • Mighty Mouse from Robot Wars is lighter than just about every other robot in the field, but is fast enough to spend entire fights running away, much to the amusement of the audience, because one hit from most of them would disable Mighty Mouse completely. This trope is otherwise extremely rare in combat robotics. The material properties of rubber only let a robot accelerate so quickly without the aid of downforce-enhancing fans or magnets, and the size of the arena means that the fastest robots can never actually reach their top speed in a real fight. To make matters worse, the most destructive weapon types, spinners, tend to be difficult to avoid, with shell spinners and overhead spinners, surrounding a robot in all directions, making it ''impossible'' to hit them without getting hit yourself. For this reason, fast robots tend to have either a powerful Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon (which must also be fairly durable to avoid destroying itself) or a heavily-armored front wedge or plow, even if the rest of the chassis is lightly armored.
    • Chaos 2 started as a Lightning Bruiser in the early series, but gradually became this trope, as captain George Francis was a self-employed mechanic and didn't have the money to spend on upgrading the polycarbonate and titanium armour. It could still zip around the arena at 20mph and flip a robot over the arena sidewall, but in its last appearance it was defeated by a newcomer in the heats stages and the increasingly powerful spinning weapons its contenders packed could easily tear right through its outdated armor.
  • Star Trek:
    • There's the ship that attacks the Enterprise in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel". It's so fast and maneuverable that the Enterprise's phasers can't hit it, forcing Kirk to play dead to make it slow down and come in close enough to get in a single hit. Fortunately, that one hit cripples it.
    • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Hope and Fear" features the (fake) Starfleet ship Dauntless, which has an extremely fast quantum slipstream drive. Her Deflector Shields, however, are no match for a few photon torpedoes from Voyager (which has just been temporarily upgraded to use the slipstream drive).
      • Voyager herself oscillates between this and Lightning Bruiser Depending On The Episode. As a comparatively small science vessel she is much faster than other Starfleet ships and her maneuverability is on par with the Defiant. Her armaments and durability, though, are not. (Her occasional Lightning Bruiser status can be justified when going up against comparatively primitive Kazon or Mallon ships.)
    • Degra's ship on Star Trek: Enterprise is the fastest Xindi ship, but it's small with sub-par weapons and armor.
    • And the Romulan drone ship from Season 4. It maneuvers like no other ship ever seen, but as an Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway prototype, it's prone to system failures and takes a lot of damage when it actually gets hit.
    • The titular Cool Starship of Star Trek: Discovery is equipped with an experimental "spore drive" that allows her to instantly jump anywhere in known space, making her very useful for Hit-and-Run Tactics. However, the fact that she's designed as a science vessel instead of a warship means that in a protracted battle, she will take considerable damage.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Cruiserweights are usually a fair bit smaller than heavyweights and capable of many faster and more acrobatic stunts and moves. However, most of them will be beaten with just a couple of power moves by a big guy. The real-life fragility of the cruiserweights is what led WWE to eventually end their cruiserweight division, as the frequent injuries made booking and having enough talent in the division too much of a headache.
  • The Amazing Red is perhaps one of the fastest people in the ring and can perform many moves in an instant. However due to his size, all it really takes is one hit to knock him out even against fellow cruiserweights and X Division wrestlers.
  • Zip Zap, who wrestles in All-Star Championship Wrestling, boasts to be the fastest man alive. Unfortunately for him, wrestling is a contact sport that usually requires prolonged contact if you want a pin or a submission and the relative fragility of his 5'7 frame becomes apparent when a larger wrestler manages to grab him.
  • Elix Skipper is ridiculously fast and agile with incredible athleticism. His light frame, however, assured that he was at a disadvantage against most power wrestlers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Light 'Mechs tend to fall into this role; being lightweight, they can get potentially high speeds out of a relatively small engine, yet that same low weight limits how much armor and firepower they can carry, so speed (possibly augmented by jump jets) is frequently their only real protection against heavy weapons. Several entire classes of non-BattleMech units also qualify for the role: Hovercraft are pretty much the fastest type of land unit, but highly prone to finding themselves abruptly grounded and vulnerable to being pounded to pieces in short order, VTOLs are light and fast but susceptible to losing their rotor and crashing, and conventional fighters, while being really extremely fast relative to anything that usually operates on a ground map, suffer from both poor armor and the aerospace critical hit rules (short version, pretty much anything that hits such a fighter may go critical). In fact, during ground support missions any kind of fighter, including the more solid aerospace versions, qualifies because taking any damage whatsoever forces them to make a 'control roll' to avoid abruptly losing altitude and potentially imitating a lawn dart; this together with their capacity to carry quite a bit of firepower plus an external bomb load actually pushes the larger models into Glass Cannon territory.
  • Blood Bowl: Elf teams have universal AG 4 across their team roster, and their Blitzers also have a very high MR of 8. This makes their positional play incredibly scary, as everyone can dodge, catch and pass and it is very easy for anyone in the elf team to penetrate your defences and score. But they're weaker than average armour means that bashing them can easily result in a KO or an injury.
  • Champions: Speedsters are one of the major build types — one of the sourcebooks was even called The Ultimate Speedster. They can be very powerful — a high speed stat is very powerful in the game, and certain builds can give them damage outputs that even dwarf that of the Mighty Glacier — but they tend to be Glass Cannons.
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark:note  Jain Fairwood has a movement rate higher than any other hero save one, but she's got as few Hit Points as the Squishy Wizard. Her heroic feat allows her to move twice in a turn and still attack, and with the obvious choice of the bow-using Wildlander class, she gets access to other abilities related to movement, avoidance and fast reactions.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Elves. High Dexterity, meaning they move faster and dodge more easily, is countered by reduced Constitution, which renders them far less resilient than a human of the same class and level.
    • Wood elves, at least in 3.5, are however closer to Glass Cannons given they also have a higher Strength — and their favored class being the ranger, a Glass Cannon itself.
    • Classes such as Thieves and Assassins emphasize speed and Dexterity, doing their damage with bonuses from flanking and sneak attacks rather than large weapons and high Strength. Under the right conditions, they can dish out much more damage than a Fighter, but cannot wear heavy armor and receive fewer hitpoints per level.
    • Bladesinger Wizards in 5th Edition are this when their Bladesong is active. They gain additional movement speed, proficiency in acrobatics, the ability to add their Intelligence modifier to their weapon attacks and Armour Class (which when paired with their Shield and Mage Armour skills makes them very hard to hit), and the chance to reduce some damage when they do get hit. But they are still wizards, they have the lowest hit die in the game and cannot wear medium or heavy armour, so you will hurt them quite badly if you do manage to get a hit in; their speed also does nothing to protect them from area effects or save-or-suck spell effects.
    • The quickling, an evil fey creature, is a monster version: very few hit points and an extremely short lifespan, but capable of giving the Flash some serious competition in a sprint. Don't even bother rolling initiative for this one.
  • Exalted: While most Exalted are Glass Cannons, Scourge caste Infernals are inclined to be speedsters. Adorjan's charmset doesn't contain soak improvers, bonus health levels or parries (Scourges tend to avoid damage by being somewhere else), but a Scourge can reach speeds without trying that a Solar has to expend a lot of effort to hit.
  • Full Thrust: The Federal Stats Europa's missile-heavy fleet strives to be Lightning Bruisers. In practice, while their ammo lasts they're more like fast-moving Glass Cannons, during which time they can pretty much wreck your day, especially if your ships are Point Defenseless or they (the FSE) get even a little lucky. But once their missiles are spent, they're pretty solidly this trope.
  • Kings of War: Elves have a move of 6, 50% higher than dwarf infantry, but rarely have a Defense better than 4+, meaning that any hit will hurt them half the time.
  • The Others (2015): Kanga can move five spaces per turn, greatly outspeeding her teammates. Unfortunately, she is practically the only character with no defense, and dies easily against bosses.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Craftworld Aeldari are fast and fragile, but more specialized than weak - they are good shots (on par with Space Marines) and competent close combat fighters, but every member of a given Aspect Warrior squad (barring maybe the Exarch) is armed with the same weapon, leaving them little options if caught out of position in a bad engagement. Averted by their Wraith units which are lumbering but very resilient, and by their skimmer vehicles which are very fast with massive firepower and decent defenses but expensive.
    • Their evil cousins, the Dark Eldar (or Drukhari) fit even closer. Their basic troops are as tough and well-armoured as Guardsmen, and even Guardsmen lasguns can threaten their vehicles in sufficiently large volleys. Bolter fire smears these evil elves across the landscape. But it's an army where everything flies or hovers or at least can be shoved into something that does, and they have insane close combat killing power and anti-tank firepower coming out of their pointed ears. Consequently they are considered Warhammer 40,000 on Nightmare difficulty.
    • Eldar Harlequins are also masters of fragile speedster combat, relying heavily on speed, agility, and stealth to compensate for their almost complete lack of armor. They even have the unique ability to vault over terrain and screening troops.
    • The Tau tend to rely heavily on mobility to cover their frailness in close combat, though their primary emphasis is on picking their enemies apart with superior firepower.
    • Tyranid Genestealers combine this with Glass Cannon. They can cover a tremendous distance per turn and have excellent initiative and weapon skill stats, comparable to a lot of the Eldar and Dark Eldar's close combat specialists. Once they get in melee, they can deliver a massive amount of rending high-strength attacks that kill enemy units extremely quickly. Of course, their poor armor save means that they can be easily shot to pieces, and their high points cost ensure that any player must be careful with them.
    • Ork Warbuggies and Trukks are among the game's flimsiest vehicles, but they make up for it in speed, while also packing a decent punch for their size and being mercifully cheap.
    • The Raider ship class in Rogue Trader is the fastest and most maneuverable ship class by a fairly significant amount, it also packs a decent amount of forward-facing firepower and an excellent turning radius compared to heavier ship classes. However, Raider-class ships have only average armor and the smallest health pools of any ship in the game, so if they're getting targeted by a larger ship's main guns, they're kind of screwed. The Raider class's biggest advantage in terms of being a Fragile Speedster is that the number of ships that can fire behind themselves without using bomber craft is tiny — there's a grand total of one among the enormous list of standard Imperial hull types, and it's a speedy transport that thinks it's half-Raider — and between their speed and maneuverability, Raiders have a relatively easy time staying in that back arc (and can actually outrun pretty much any non-Eldar bomber craft if they really need to).
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    • The Throne of Chaos presents Imperial gunnery in this manner compared to the Chaos Dwarves. Chaos Dwarf artillery is meant for prolonged siege warfare and slow to reload and bring to bear, so that Imperial cannon can strafe its Chaos Dwarf equivalent multiple times between the latter's volleys, and Imperial mounted pistoleers are described as firing off their salvos faster than anything the Chaos Dwarfs had ever seen. However, Chaos Dwarf cannons are extraordinarily powerful, and cause far more damage per volley than anything in the Empire's armory.
    • Skinks. They're among the fastest infantry in the game, with a move score of 6 and initiative 4... but their toughness score is so low even elves consider them fragile. Ranked-up units tend to be used for flanking enemies, while the skirmishers tend to run around picking off war machines and chariots in a hail of poisonous blowdarts.
  • X-Wing Miniatures: TIE Fighters aren't very manoeuvrable, have only three hull points each, and lack shields. However, they are capable of blistering speeds and they're cheap — you can buy two Academy Pilots for the price of the most basic T-70 X-wing. Interceptors are even faster thanks to the Boost action, and are much more agile with a ridiculous amount of green on the dial, but are no more durable than a basic TIE Fighter. On the Rebel side, A-Wings are absurdly fast, having a green 5 move (most ships have that as either white or red, and many don't have it at all), but only 2 hull and shield. Scum, meanwhile, have the knife-fighting Protectorate Starfighter, which is basically a 4-hull TIE Interceptor that come with a handful of upgrades dedicated solely to point blank knife-fighting. On a tactical level, this is the idea of Arc-Dodger lists, which tend to be small, elite and fragile, but counter straightforward jousting lists by never being in their fire arcs to begin with; they fall apart against turret lists, which don't care about fire arcs.

  • A number of older Tamiya Mini 4WD chassis are derided by some to be more prone to breakage despite allowing for better acceleration, like the Super-1 chassis in particular with its weak bumper and flimsy frame. Pair it up with a sufficiently fast motor such as the Hyper Dash or Plasma Dash and you've better prepare to shell out money on a spare chassis. FRP plates which serve as both reinforcement and a platform to attach optional accessories such as rollers and brakes amongst other things have been made to mitigate these shortcomings, however, though Tamiya has since released chassis like the FM-A and AR that are beefier and able to take a beating better than previous-generation platforms.

  • Everyday Heroes: Dot Dash can punch her opponent multiple times before he even knows she's there. However, she can be knocked down if caught off-balance.
  • Jungle Juice: Suchan's top speed makes him nigh-untouchable once he's moving and in-flight, but he can't do a thing if his wings are bound and he's not nearly as tough as he is fast. In fact, he injures his hands multiple times while punching much tougher insect humans.
  • Outsider: Loroi warships are very fast and maneuverable compared to those of the Umiak, but aren't as robust. As a result, the Loroi military tends to favor running battles and hit-and-run engagements against Umiak forces.
  • Roomies!, It's Walky!, Joyce and Walky!: Robin can probably create a sonic boom if she felt like it. She's only physically fragile compared to super-strong people like Sal or Beef, though, but her main vulnerability is her emotional and mental stability. Hence, still fragile, just in a different way.
  • Scurry: Wix is said to be the fastest of the mouse scouts. How fragile he is compared to the other mice is yet to be seen. But considering he's generally pitted against cats, he's VERY fragile.
  • Weak Hero: Alex's main strength in battle is his speed. He can overwhelm his opponents with Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs, hitting too swiftly for them to counterattack. However, he's nowhere near as powerful or durable as his friend Ben, and is liable to get ganged up on since he has a bad tendency to rush into every battle.

    Web Original 
  • Brackenwood: Bitey relies on his immense speed to wreak havoc, but isn't especially strong or capable in a fight. When he gets caught, he doesn't really pose a threat unless he can get free.
  • Filthy Frank: Parodied when the titular Frank summons the lightning-fast Speed Lord in a fight against Evil Dade, who moves at incredible speeds... and dies in one hit. Apparently he had a strength stat of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000.
  • Mahu: The Commonwealth's mounted guard are a force of elite, lance-wielding horsemen. Alongside more veteran forces, they are the best troops the young Republic can deploy, fast and devastating whenever they charge. At the same time however, they can be swiftly cut down by bayonet-wielding infantry or several volleys of musket fire.
  • RWBY:
    • Reese's hoverboard grants her exceptional aerial mobility, and between it and her inherent agility she's more than fast enough to keep up with Blake, who is no slouch in the speed department herself. Once Blake gets a hit in courtesy of the aforementioned trap, though, Reese gets slammed into the ground outside the arena, and her Aura crashes to almost zero, taking her out of the fight by both ring-out and Aura loss.
    • Neon is extremely fast and easily evades all of Yang's attacks, especially coupled with constantly taunting Yang to make her too angry to fight properly. Ultimately, however, when she moves too fast for her own good and trips into a geyser, it makes it easy for Yang to hit her. A single shot from Yang's gauntlet-guns immediately puts Neon out of the fight.
    • Octavia skates around the desert effortlessly, but even taking the brutal kick that Sun landed on her face, he takes her out in seconds.
  • Whateley Universe: Scrambler, Quickie Go-Go, Accelerator, and — what the heck, most of the speedsters at Whateley Academy. Hyper actually broke a couple of his own fingers punching a 'brick' in the eye as he ran past at about a hundred miles an hour. Note that while it is a common trope in the series, it isn't an enforced trope by any means; certainly the likes of Aries and Stormwolf are anything but fragile.
  • Worm: Pretty much anyone with Mover powers who isn't also a Flying Brick or otherwise Lightning Bruiser, since the Mover classification covers all powers that improve one's mobility. Specific examples:
    • Velocity has Super-Speed fast enough to move in a blur, but lacks Required Secondary Powers in the form of being mostly unable to interact with the outside world. During his fight with Skitter, she notes that his punches are little more than hard taps, and it only takes one blow from her to take Velocity down.
    • Oni Lee is no more durable than a regular human, but his power — a combination of Teleport Spam and Self-Duplication — makes him nearly impossible to hit, especially since his clones are short-lived and feel no pain, making them eminently expendable. They also copy all his gear, and grenades are one of his preferred weapons, so his go-to tactic is using them as massed suicide bombers.

    Western Animation 
  • Angel Wars:
    • Paladin's Fly-Cycle has terrific speed and agility, but very low armor compared to, say, The Seven.
    • Eli's and Kira's wing boards are also considered vehicles by the supplementary materials, and they have great stealth and agility and medium speed, but zero armor or firepower.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Aang, until he learns earthbending. In general, airbending is the Fragile Speedster to earthbending's Mighty Glacier, focusing on agility and tactics but with hardly any defensive abilities.
    • Azula is usually too quick for Team Avatar, but, on the few occasions they manage to land a blow, she gets knocked back pretty hard.
    • The Legend of Korra: In Season 4, Kuvira is exceptionally fast and agile, able to dodge most attacks and strike back before her opponent can go on the defensive. However, she lacks Korra's stamina and fights between the two tend to even out rather quickly whenever Korra lands a solid blow. She's also notably vulnerable against air attacks, which are harder for her to anticipate or sidestep.
  • Ben 10: XLR8 can run so fast that he becomes invisible to the human eye. And, although his resistance is slightly above human level, he is still pretty frail compared to Ben's other forms and ends up knocked out almost everytime he is used for direct combat.
  • The Dragon Prince:
    • The elven assassin Rayla mainly uses speed, agility and nimbleness in combat. Although she is not a weakling, she cannot endure much harm. In battles her opponents are often able to easily knock her over and to the ground, although she typically jumps up quickly.
    • Sky mages can enhance their speed and agility to perform incredible acrobatics, but from their depictions in official material (and Ibis in the show), they don't wear that much armor, making them highly vulnerable when hit.
  • Justice League: The Flash (Most of the time). He sometimes leans towards combining it with Glass Cannon, or even becoming a full-on Lightning Bruiser depending on how serious he's getting and how well his Required Secondary Powers are working this week. Especially early on, though, he's often taken out of the fight with one lucky hit.
  • While Hunter from The Owl House is stronger than your average 16 year-old, he's still physically quite scrawny, and not nearly strong enough to best the skilled adults he often goes up against, especially since he can't cast magic without a staff. Instead, he prefers to use Super-Speed and Teleport Spam to take his enemies by surprise and strike at them with his staff.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra. Not counting her claws, she's not particularly strong, and she's a rather petite young woman. However, she is quick, extremely agile, and can jump impressive heights, meaning she can hold her own against much bigger and stronger opponents because they can't get a hit in on her. When she's forced to engage in close-range combat, she fares much worse.
  • Teen Titans (2003):
    • Más y Menos are very fast, but very squishy if the villain manages to slap them down. They have the bonus weakness of having to touch each other to use their speed.
    • Kid Flash. He has the typical Flash speed and connection to the Speed Force, but he doesn't know much about how to use it to defend yet, and his personal durability is "average teenager". It takes a while for Jinx and Rouge to catch him, but when they do they find him very easy to hurt.
  • The Transformers: Swoop is the smallest and fastest of the Dinobots and the only one capable of flight in every version. While the rest of them are heavily armored and mostly invulnerable in their dinosaur modes, Swoop is still very vulnerable to enemy fire when transformed in his Pteranodon form.
  • TRON: Uprising: In comparison to more well-trained programs like Tesler and Paige, Beck is faster and more agile than both, but far less resilient and with less punching power. In comparison to the normal Programs, he's a Lightning Bruiser. Acknowledged by Pavel in "Price of Power". He boasts that he was always stronger and smarter than the Renegade, but with the Upgrade Artifact he is faster, too.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender:
    • As part of the lion's Divergent Character Evolution, the red lion has become one of these. It's explicitly stated to be faster and more agile than the other lions but also less armored and more unstable. We've see this in action as it flies circles around opponents but goes down fairly quickly; in addition it's also rocking some pretty serious firepower. The Green Lion also falls under this, but to a lesser extent.
    • Among the Paladins, this role goes to Pidge. Pidge is the smallest and most nimble of the Paladins, and her bayard doubles as a Grappling-Hook Pistol, giving her exceptional mobility. This makes her great at hit-and-run tactics, but in a straight-up fight, she's physically the weakest Paladin and has the least combat training, which coupled with the short range of her Bayard's blade form means she often struggles against even baseline Mooks.
  • Young Justice (2010): Kid Flash is actually an aversion. He is super-fast, but while he's not as tough as Aqualad or Superboy, he is tougher than Robin or Artemis. The truly fragile speedster of the show is his cousin. Impulse being faster than Kid Flash means that he's also more fragile; while Kid Flash can't tank hits, he often uses himself as a cannonball or a battering ram, with his speed giving him leverage, force, and impact. Impulse doesn't, as evidenced by the fact that his costume doesn't have as much padding, so he tends to use 'hit, then run' tactics. Kid Flash is also physically stronger, he's shown carrying Artemis, Robin, and Miss Martian at different times, without visibly tiring and with no detriment to his speed. When Blue Beetle asks if Impulse can carry someone, Impulse answers "I'm fast, not strong."


Video Example(s):


Splatoon 2 - Dapple Dualies

The Dapple Dualies are a lightweight weapon designed for high mobility and damage to make up for their poor range and defense.

How well does it match the trope?

4.57 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / FragileSpeedster

Media sources: