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Glacier Waif

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A character whose lithe, lightweight appearance suggests a Fragile Speedster (or, at the least, a character of average size compared to others) but it turns out this character is a Mighty Glacier, fully capable of carrying a BFS or a huge war hammer.

Compare with Cute Bruiser, where a fragile-looking character is strong, but not slow. Also, like that trope, this trope is not confined to female characters. Often feature Muscles Are Meaningless. This trope is the inversion of Acrofatic. May be a Super-Strong Child depending on age.

Not to be confused with an Ice Queen, which has more to do with personality than toughness. For large firearms counterpart, see Small Girl, Big Gun.

Related to Pint-Sized Powerhouse, a character whose small stature contrasts their enormous power.

A Sub-Trope of Stronger Than They Look.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pretty much the whole premise of Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense.. Kaede Honjo doesn't want to get hurt in her first time playing a new MMO, so she dumps every starting point into VITALITY to maximize her defenses (netting her two powerful perks as a result). This, combined with various synergizing game mechanics (that prove so broken they get patched out), and a lucky armor drop, not only make her virtually indestructible even against the most powerful players, but also give her access to some very deadly weapons and attacks that obliterate most enemies. All of this is in place while Maple's avatar retains her real-life small and muscle-deficient build.
  • Shiori from Galaxy Fraulein Yuna does everything extremely slowly but is nearly indestructible in her revealing battle armor. In the second OVA, her force field blocked several large laser blasts from opponents that easily knocked out her teammates.
  • Koneko Toujou from High School D×D has the body of a short and particularly slender underclassman. However, as a Rook, she's Nigh-Invulnerable and has the most raw strength of Rias' team, routinely tossing around debris several times her size like pebbles and managing to throw a Stray Devil dozens of times her size across the room.
  • Vita from Lyrical Nanoha is rather petite (even if her armor makes her appear bigger) but wields a giant hammer.
    • There's also U-D/Yuri Eberwein in The Gears of Destiny whose attacks are slow but powerful and is one of the tankiest mages around in spite of her waifish build.
  • Asuna of Negima! Magister Negi Magi has a relatively average size in the cast (taller than most, but far leaner than the other warriors). Despite that, she carries a BFS, wears thick armor, and is nowhere near as fast as the other warriors in the cast.
  • Flandre of Princess Resurrection is easily one of the shortest in the cast (she appears as a young girl). Being a gynoid, she's incredibly strong as well as quite slow due to her heavy weight.
  • Queen's Blade:
    • Claudette qualifies since she is thin like the rest of the cast but she feels no need to use much speed in battle when she can simply summon lighting strikes on her enemies.
    • Ymir is the smallest fighter, being a dwarf princess, but swings a massive axe that's twice her size.
  • Kokoa Shuzen in Rosario + Vampire is a 15-year-old girl who's on the small side for her age. She swings around her 100 kg Morph Weapon with about as much effort as a normal human would need to swing a flyswatter. She's also by a significant margin the slowest of the main characters.
  • Virgo Shaka from Saint Seiya looks like a lean woman. He barely moves in a fight while he mops the floor with those fools enough to fight him.
  • King Solomon, a former player in the RPG Mechanics 'Verse of She Professed Herself Pupil Of The Wise Man has the avatar of a skinny little boy, yet serves as the tank of his group of friends. He can even defend against the power of a raid boss, which comes in particularly handy in the last episode of the first season. The mage Luminaria even Lampshades this.

    Films — Animation 

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The Orville, Security Chief Alara Kitan is an alien Heavy Worlder with full-blown Super-Strength. Despite being a petite young woman she is fully capable of knocking a vault door right out of the concrete wall it is mounted in.

    Video Games 
  • The Arcana Heart series gives us Fiona Mayfield, a 13 year old Meido who has the highest power and defense of the cast but moves like molasses.
  • In Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, the follower Mazzy Fentan is a halfling, meaning she's lucky to top four feet tall in heels. She's also a fighter, which means she can and does wear the heaviest armor in the game, and in fact, with her 18 Dexterity, she is one of the best tanks amongst your followers.
  • If you haven't seen or played BlazBlue, Makoto from the Arc Stars in Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D doesn't appear to be a batting threat... but she can hit as hard as a Macho player.
  • In games with build customization like City of Heroes and Phantasy Star Universe, build is often purely aesthetic, so as long as your weak-looking character is of the correct class, they can deal out more punishment while moving more slowly than stronger-looking characters that went with another class.
  • Fuuka Kazamatsuri of Disgaea 4 is a skinny middle-school girl with no demonic lineage or combat training. This does not stop her from being the resident Mighty Glacier.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: The demure, taciturn Meido Idea. Also a magical homunculus created to defend Mayard's earthly mansion. Despite her small appearance, she can take hits like a tank and can crush enemies in her hands.
  • Cloud in Dissidia Final Fantasy is one of the shorter heroes and skinny as hell. He also carries a ridiculous BFS, is slow moving for a Cosmos warrior, and uses slow, telegraphed, predictable bashing attacks that send opponents crashing into walls for extra damage.
  • Guan Yinping of Dynasty Warriors 8, a Badass Adorable that swings around an extraordinarily large dual-headed Chuí / Chinese mace. Her Musou attack involves handing it to one of the soldiers, who then drops to the ground under its massive weight as if struggling to hold up a barbell before she takes it back and swings it about like a baton.
  • Ness from EarthBound (1994) has the build of an ordinary 13-year-old boy, the highest offense out of all the party members, and is quite slow.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The Deuteragonist Mash Kyrielight is an otherwise simple, ordinary, sweet girl (with armor no skimpier than most females in the game). However, as you might guess by her Agility stat of D, her Endurance stat of A+, and the massive shield she carries, her role in any party is almost purely defensive.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening has Cherche. Both her portrait and in-game model show her as smaller than many other characters, but her best stats are Strength and Defense while her maximum Speed is below average. One piece of official art even has her posing with a battle axe that's almost as big as she is.
    • Edelgard from Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes this a step further, having a complete set of armor, the highest overall growths in the game with especially great numbers in Strength and Charm, and a good defense stat despite her canon height of 158 cm.
  • Genshin Impact: happens a lot when an otherwise unassuming female character has her power scale off of HP or Defense.
    • Don't let Barbara's image as a White Magician Girl fool you—she is one of the tankiest characters in the game when built properly as her healing is boosted by her HP.
    • Despite her armor, Noelle's Battle Ballgown doesn't do much to emphasize how incredibly sturdy she actually is in-game, as she is one of the few characters who wants as much Defense as possible.
    • Aside from Qiqi being a Cryo character, her small stature belies the fact that she mechanically leans closer to a Stone Wall due to her high durability and healing-focused abilities. Her backstory and profile states that Qiqi's zombification gave her an immortal body.
    • Yun Jin is surprisingly tough for someone with a lithe body frame, and improving her viability requires making her even more durable with lots of defense.
  • Heroes of the Storm has Yrel, a relatively thin Draenei in plate armor, as one of the flat-out brickiest characters in the game through a combination of one of the highest base-healths, self healing, armor granting and other self-protection abilities. Considering some of the other warrior characters are giant monsters, wear extremely bulky power armor, or are otherwise huge or even more visibly defended, the difference is striking!
  • Hinako Shijo in The King of Fighters looks much like the rest of the female cast (she's thin, short and only 16 years old). Despite that, she's one of the slower characters who uses strength to her advantage. Why? Her style is sumo wrestling.
  • In the more recent Kirby games, Kirby can take a pretty solid hitting before dying (Not to mention Kirby's Epic Yarn, where he's just straight-up invincible.)
  • League of Legends
    • Poppy, Keeper of the Hammer is a Yordle, a small, lightweight race. She has a hammer twice her own size and is one of the hardest champions in the game to kill on top of sporting respectable damage.
    • Rell, the Iron Maiden is a 16-year old girl who can switch between two forms- riding around the battlefield on a horse-shaped golem made of metal plates controlled by her Ferromancy, or stomping around on foot after dispelling her steed into its components and plating them to her body. When she's dismounted she is the slowest champion in the game (with her base move speed reduced to 250 in a game where the base movement speed for the next-slowest champions is 325note  but she also gains a powerful shield and bonus defensive stats (which stack with her ability to steal defensive stats from opponents she attacks) which makes her incredibly hard to bring down, and she's still tough even when unarmoured on horseback. Meanwhile her weapon of choice is a large jousting lance that she wields one-handed and can use when mounted to impale enemies and hurl them over her shoulder or smash the ground when she leaps off her steed, knocking everyone nearby into the air.
  • Mirke from Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. She is an orlan — essentially a furry, big-eared hobbit — half the size of most party members. She's also a Drunken Master Pirate who has as much Constitution as Edér and decent Might despite Orlans' penalties to that stat. Depending on how she's built, she can either be a Mighty Glacier or an outright Lightning Bruiser.
  • Pokémon:
    • Glaceon is like this, with amazing Special Attack and low Speed. Another Eeveelution that fits the bill is Umbreon. Despite being as big as a mid-sized dog and looking like a black cat with glowing rings on its fur, it has sky high defensive stats and works very well as a Stone Wall.
    • Scizor looks like a Fragile Speedster as it's rather scrawny and seems capable of moving at high speeds. It even learns moves like Bullet Punch and Agility. Its highest stats are actually Attack and Defense with well below average Speed, which is quite a bit lower than its earlier form, Scyther. Scizor's lasting power in spite of its Speed makes it popular to use.
    • Azumarill is a cute Aqua Rabbit Pokémon that's a bit under 3 feet tall. It has high HP, low speed, an Ability that doubles its Attack stat, and access to the move Belly Drum to quadruple it further, making it an extremely potent physical attacker.
    • Mawile is similarly short (only 2 feet tall) and only weighs 25 pounds. However it has the stats of a Mighty Glacier, one of the best defensive type combinations in the game (Steel and Fairy) and when it Mega Evolves, gets slightly bigger (3 feet and 50 pounds) but its defenses get decent boost and its attack becomes the highest of any Pokémon in the game (it gets Huge Power, the same ability Azumarill gets). Its speed remains the same (really slow).
    • Mesprit is very cute and absolutely tiny (1 foot tall and 0.7 pounds). While its Speed stat is not terrible, it will nonetheless be outpaced by a decent number of foes and is the slowest of the Lake Guardians. In contrast, its offenses and defenses (both Physical and Special) are quite good.
    • Absol looks like a cute, fluffy Fragile Speedster with a slim build. While Absol has a very good Attack stat, its Speed is actually mediocre at best. Averted by its Mega Evolution, which receives a considerable boost to its Speed.
  • Itsuki of Sengoku Basara, despite being a little girl lugs around a giant hammer and has the slowest attack speed of all the characters, even the definitive Mighty Glacier Xavi. However, she also has the option of tossing her Hammer and resorting to her fists, which while faster leaves her unable to block.
  • Skullgirls has two examples in its cast:
    • Marie, the Final Boss, is a floating Undead Child who doesn't even look like she weighs a hundred pounds. But she's also a Damage-Sponge Boss able to endure ridiculous amounts of brutality before finally dying. As her Powers Do the Fighting, she rarely moves, usually just push the player into a corner or get out of one herself.
    • Umbrella is an improbably small eleven year old wielding Hungern, a massive mutant umbrella-creature. She holds Hungern upright, giving her a silhouette comparable to other playable characters, and moves slowly as she hauls the ever-hungering creature around. However, when Hungern hits, Hungern hits hard.
  • Alongside Knuckles (whose inclusion in this category is controversial, considering he's still bulky for Funny Animals standards), the Sonic the Hedgehog Fan Game Sonic Robo Blast 2 features one unlockable character who fits this category better: Amy Rose, who has her classic design which makes her look like a small, pink colored Sonic in a miniskirt. She can't fly, bounce, or float and climb walls like other characters, she can't even spin, and she runs slower than others, but she holds an extremely powerful hammer and she knows how to use it: she can destroy enemies at short range on the ground and in the air, spikes (something only a full speed Metal Sonic can match) and she can destroy walls and floors with it (Knuckles can only destroy the former and Fang the latter by using his spring tail). An interesting case is that she jumps higher than other characters naturally (though this is not much useful compared to other characters' previously mentioned powers).
  • The rather petite Ashlotte from Soulcalibur IV is a reskin of Mighty Glacier Astaroth (as is obvious from her name). She shares his moveset, strength and low agility despite being barely more than half his size. She entirely made of an unknown metal alloy, powered by dark magic, and is the second heaviest character in the game (only Angol Fear, who's an Eldritch Abomination of sorts and thus shouldn't be judged based on looks alone, is heavier), so her hitting like a dump truck and being about as fast in spite of being tiny compared to Astaroth makes sense - all that steel can't possibly move fast, and with so much mass behind her blows, getting hit by her is roughly equivalent to getting run over by a car.
    • From Soul Calibur V onwards, one can make such a character via Character Customization if they feel like it. Seeing a small girl lug a huge axe around and toss people larger than her about is clearly a sight to behold.
  • Makoto in Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. She's one of the shortest characters in the franchise at under five feet, but when she hits you, you're going to notice. Unfortunately, she also moves pretty slow and her small size means she's got low reach and her dashing attacks leave her vulnerable if executed poorly.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In platform games:
      • In Super Mario Bros. 2, the little mushroom guy Toad is an interesting case: he has the best lifting strength, meaning he pulls up vegetables and sand extremely quickly, almost instantaneously, and he is the fastest of the four heroes... only on land, however. His jumping ability is the worst of the lot, however, so vertical adventuring slows down a lot with him as he will need to do more power jumps than the rest of the cast in order to make his way around.
      • In Super Mario 3D World, the tall but thin Rosalina is a straighter case, being the slowest character in the team, but the only one capable of attacking enemies without power ups. An interesting fact about her is that she can jump as high as Luigi too, but she falls faster, making this power less practical.
    • Mario Kart:
      • Rosalina's case comes from Mario Kart Wii where she and Waluigi are classified in the same rank as the massive heavyweights despite their thin figures; this is because Rosalina, as explained above, is a Statuesque Stunner, while Waluigi is Lean and Mean, making both of them too tall for smaller vehicles. They appear as Cruiser characters in later games, with Rosalina being more balanced and Waluigi almost being on par with the heaviest characters in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
      • King Boo and Dry Bowser are downplayed examples: while both of them are too large for other categories, the first is a ghost (who's supposed to weight nothing but his crown) while the second is a living skeleton. This contradiction is partially solved in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe while King Boo is in the same Cruiser category as Rosalina while Dry Bowser is partially lighter (but still as powerful, if not more) than his living counterpart.
      • Mario Kart Wii has a vehicle falling in this category: the heavyweight kart Honey Coupe actually is the third heaviest vehicle in the game (it's even heavier than the bulkier Flame Flyer) despite being the smallest in its weight class, and like many Mighty Glaciers in this game, its speciality is drift and turbos (it actually is the heavyweight karts' champion in these categories) with a good top speed. Otherwise, it's the classical "slow to start, hard to stop" vehicle.
      • In Mario Kart 7, Metal Mario became a High-Tier Scrappy because of his heavyweight stats coupled with his middleweight size.
      • In the following game, he and Pink Gold Peach are weirder examples: despite being the same height and shape as Mario (again) and Peach, both of them are the sole Stone Wall characters in the franchise, having the weight of characters like Bowser, the traction of other heavyweights like Wario, the top speed and the acceleration of Cruisers like Waluigi and the handling of lighter Cruisers like Rosalina, all of this in middleweight sized vehicles which make them harder to hit.
      • In Mario Kart 8, Link, who has a lean Bishōnen build, is classified as a Cruiser heavyweight. Probably has to do with him being a realistically proportioned human of realistically average height in a game where squat, cartoonish builds are the norm. This is downplayed in Deluxe where he is on the light end of the Cruiser category alongside Rosalina; the Booster Course Pass does the same with Pauline for similar reasons.
    • Outside of the Mario Kart series, Waluigi tends to be rather slow and defensive despite his thin build; falling into a combination of this and Weak, but Skilled.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Ike is a pretty standard (if respectably muscled) human swordsman in a cast full of creatures, which he makes up for with a One-Handed Zweihänder and an appropriate moveset. This was downplayed in For 3DS/Wii U when he takes on his more muscular Radiant Dawn appearance, though Ultimate makes his Path of Radiance appearance from Brawl his default costume.
    • Despite being human-sized and possessing a Hyperspace arsenal, Snake is classified as a heavyweight. In Brawl, he's the third heaviest character behind Donkey Kong and Bowser, and is even heavier than Ganondorf. When he returned in Ultimate, he became significantly lighter, but he is still on the heavier side.
    • Mr. Game and Watch looks like a lightweight and is knocked back like one, but his moves are on the "strong and slow" side.
    • Mega Man is the size of Ness and Lucas, but he moves pretty slow. However, due to him being, well, a robot, he's almost as heavy as Captain Falcon, and possesses some of the strongest moves in the game.
    • Shulk in For 3DS/Wii U. Despite being of average height, Shulk is classified as a heavyweight, with below-average speed (outside of Speed mode) and above-average attack power (especially when in Buster mode). It's no longer the case in Ultimate, where Shulk is instead a middleweight and sped up compared to 4.
    • Bonsly, as a Pokémon, is pretty small, but try to lift, carry, or throw it, and you'll notice it's surprisingly heavy (because it's actually made of stone). If the throw connects with anyone else, it hits like a truck, potentially knocking the victim off the screen.
    • Piranha Plant in Ultimate is the straightest example of this trope. It's got average size, but has below average speed and is one of the heaviest characters in the game.
    • Byleth is lacking in the mobility department and isn't high in the weight class, but has good reach and hard-hitting attacks.
    • Min Min looks normal-sized herself, but she is actually a heavyweight fighter who is quite slow overall, though she makes up for it with the range of her ARMS.
    • Pyra's attacks hit harder but moves a lot slower than her other half, Mythra, despite having a very similar moveset.
  • Tales Series:
    • Presea from Tales of Symphonia. The in-universe reason she looks so fragile is that her aging process has been intentionally stunted; she looks like a twelve-year-old girl, but she's actually twenty-eight. That, and her Exsphere enhances her already-impressive strength. In battle, Presea wields large axes as her weapon of choice, some of which are bigger than she is. She also has the highest attack power and the most HP.
  • Audrey Heitinga from Valkyria Chronicles, a 17-year old Lancer in Squad 7. Despite how well-armored, heavily built, and low-mobility her class is known for being, she's quite slender yet can crush a watermelon with her bare hands. She also has the highest potential for anti-tank damage in the game, meaning at her peak she could theoretically tear through the Batomys in a single shot.
  • Raquel Applegate from Wild ARMs 4 is a small to average sized young woman with a BFS. She is slow enough that the other party members often get 2-3 turns for each of her turns, and hits hard enough to, with the right setup, defeat even Ragu O Ragula in a single blow.
  • Lin from Xenoblade Chronicles X is a slip of a 13-year-old girl yet fills the role of the party tank, carrying around a huge shield and minigun.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Toph Beifong from Avatar: The Last Airbender, being the The Big Guy of the Gaang despite being youngest, smallest and blind. She's actually an earthbender, and a powerful one. Before she joined the Gaang, she was participating in the underground local-type-wrestling league, fighting against bigger and tougher people. In the end of her introductory episode, she sweeps the floor with six of them at once. She doesn't fit the "glacier" part of the definition until she invents metalbending, which allows her to bend metal into an impromptu suit of armor at the cost of movement speed.
  • In TRON: Uprising, the slender Paige isn't as fast or as agile as Beck, but she's a lot stronger than him and can leap a lot farther.