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Graceful in Their Element

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"Put the Normandy in my hands and I'll make her dance for you. Just don't tell me to get up and dance, unless, you know, you like the sound of snapping shinbones."
Joker, Mass Effect

This character is much like a duck: they're awkward and clumsy on land, but put them in the water or in the air? Poetry in motion.

There's a lot of variation in this trope. Usually the character is The Klutz (or at least notably awkward) on land, but if given a chance they're very Graceful In Their Element. The variation comes in on what that more natural element might be. On or in the water, they could be a champion swimmer, skier or sailor. Ice-wise they could be an angelic skater. In the air, they might be an Ace Pilot. If machines are involved, they'll be a Badass Driver with Improbable Piloting Skills, and be able to turn a Humongous Mecha into an Impossibly Graceful Giant. If fighting, dancing or both are involved, they may be a consummate Dance Battler.

This Hidden Depth is used either for humor or to add a level of dichotomy to a character. It can make them seem a bit otherworldly; they're helpless on land, but they're so graceful outside of it that it seems like they don't really belong in this world. This can be further reinforced if the awkwardness is due to a physical disability, so it becomes a case where putting someone in a new medium where they're on a level playing field with everyone else lets them surpass their limitations.

To a certain extent, this is Truth in Television. Moving in a different medium like asphalt, ice, and zero-g vacuum requires an entirely new skill set that doesn't completely map out with bipedal terrestrial locomotion. While being naturally graceful and aware of kinesthetics makes learning skating or piloting easier, it's by no means a free pass.

Sister Trope to Eloquent in My Native Tongue and Bunny-Ears Lawyer (when someone's personality is extremely awkward, but they're an expert at their profession). See also Crippling Overspecialization, Dancing Royalty.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ranma ˝, while Akane doesn't know her own strength on land she is revealed to be a very gifted and graceful skater, unlike graceful-on-land Ranma.
  • Merone from Monster Musume is a mermaid. While she can breathe just fine on land as long as her gills are moistened, her fish tail means she's largely confined to a wheelchair - and even when she is on land, the most she can do to "walk" while upright is carefully hop on her tail (imagine hopping on your tip-toes while your ankles are bound). When the girls go to a gym's swimming pool, she gets to show off how incredibly mobile she can be in the water.
  • Aqua, a filler character in Dragon Ball Z, lumbers about on land like he just got out of bed. His instructor has to constantly remind him what to do. In the water, however, he suddenly looks a lot more alert, able to outspeed Goku like he was standing still and predict all of his movements.
  • Natsu's Edolas counterpart in Fairy Tail, as opposed to the real Natsu's extreme motion sickness. Edolas Natsu is an incredible Badass Driver, but take him out of a car, and he quickly melts down.
  • Akira Renbokoji in Valvrave the Liberator is an extreme Hikikomori, and absolutely hates having to deal with people in person to the point that she starts freaking out and screams until they leave her alone. However, she is an expert computer hacker and can work miracles while online. Her computer skills become increasingly important as the show goes on.
  • Inverted with Kaito in Magic Kaito. Normally a stylish Gentleman Thief, he absolutely has no balance on ice, and would immediately slip and fall over when he enters the skating rink.
  • Suletta Mercury, heroine of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, is normally a timid, socially-awkward, stuttering Country Mouse. Inside the cockpit of her Humongous Mecha Aerial, however, she becomes a serene and at times almost playful One-Man Army, capable of shredding enemy Mobile Suits with terrifying ease.

    Comic Books 
  • In the DC Universe, this is the background of one of the Sea Devils. He's a musclebound oaf on land, but he takes up diving and discovers he's a graceful swimmer.
  • May apply to Awkwardman of the Inferior Five — none of their cases takes place underwater.
  • Manno the Merman, one of Wonder Woman's Distressed Dudes in the Silver Age comics who is pretty much even more useless than Aquaman outside the water. Beneath the waves, he is an excellent swimmer and a capable fighter. On land, however, he can only awkwardly hop around on his tail. At least Aquaman actually has legs.
  • A milder example exists with Namor, the Sub-Mariner. While he is by no means clumsy on land, it's been established he is much more agile and extremely fast (not to mention stronger) when he is in his element: the sea.
    • This is the case for a lot of aquatic-themed heroes, who have to rely on their Required Secondary Powers (such as the Super-Strength for pressure resistance) when on land and end up looking like fairly average bricks. When in the water, though, they're supremely fast and maneuverable, don't need to worry about air, and in many cases even get a further boost to their strength.
  • Another merman example in Guy Guppy the Man Mermaid from Babe Darling Of The Hills, who manages to beat the superhumanly-skilled Babe Boone in a swimming race, but is virtually helpless on land, though he fares better once he gets a pair of crutches.
  • Also applies to Spider-Man, comparatively. On open ground, he can manage a decent athletic run or awkward but effective long jumps... but give him tall things to swing from and bounce off of and his entire mode of locomotion completely changes, and it becomes blatantly clear why people call him 'amazing', 'spectacular', and 'web-slinger'.
  • Ehmte-Ciss-Ronn in Sillage. He is a short, four-legged green alien lawyer, the last person you would expect of any athletic feats. However, he comes from an amphibian race and is a graceful swimmer, a fact that might catch his would-be assassins by surprise when he changes his office into a Shark Pool with a push of a button.

    Fan Works 
  • In Address Unknown (Remedy), Derpy's element actually is on land, as her vision problems cause her bigger problems while flying, but once she's demoted to ground deliveries she proves to be an unstoppable mailmare.
  • Comparatively speaking, Xander in Teal'c's Wish, at least when compared to Slayers. He's certainly athletic but in almost every physical portion of their training, Faith blows him out of the water without trying. The only times he's shown to be better are in swimming and shooting. Not only does Xander beat world records in swimming while seemingly holding his breath forever, he never misses a shot even when asked to shoot a moving target a mile away.
  • Ash's Duskull in Challenger seems to fall under Weak, but Skilled but Ash eventually learns that only applies to the living world. In the Distortion World where ghost types hail from, Duskull can access his full power and utterly wrecks one of Agatha's Gengar.
  • Weiss Likes It Rough: Jaune is an expert camper, particularly compared to everyone else in teams RWBY and JNPR, able to catch, clean, and cook fish, build fires, create herbal remedies, and pretty much anything else they might need to do to survive in the wild. Put him in a city and he can't read a map to save his life.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sid the sloth in Ice Age is hardly graceful on land, but a throwaway gag showed him as a skilled ice skater while Diego and Manny slip and fall. This came in useful towards the end when it turns out he's equally good at skiing. And let's not forget the part where, upon losing part of his makeshift skis, he just starts snowboarding instead, becoming even more graceful. It is awesome.
  • The Secret of NIMH has Jeremy the Crow. Awkward on land to the point of being a ditzy Klutz but in the air, he's a flying ace.
  • Orville the albatross in The Rescuers and his brother Wilbur in The Rescuers Down Under. Landing or taking off is an ordeal, but once in the air, pure poetry. (Truth in Television for many seabirds)
  • The reason the stereotypically unhurried turtle sidekick in The Swan Princess is nicknamed "Speed" becomes abundantly clear the moment he's needed underwater.
  • The very clumsy Alfredo Linguini in Ratatouille turns out to be exceedingly graceful on roller skates, bringing the dishes to every patron in the restaurant within two seconds via a complicated series of hairpin turns.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Jar Jar Binks from The Phantom Menace, being an amphibious alien, while a Lethal Klutz on land, is a fine swimmer in water.
  • Iron Man is graceful and agile while flying through the air, but looks pretty awkward trying to run down an airplane ramp or even walk down a set of stairs.
  • Godzilla tends to be a lumbering Mighty Glacier on land but is surprisingly fast and graceful in water. He deliberately takes advantage of this in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), where he drags King Ghidorah underwater for a Homefield Advantage against the non-swimming dragon.
    • In Godzilla vs. Kong Kong is left virtually defenseless in their first battle: unarmed and on a boat, Kong stands zero chance against the aquatic Godzilla. Their second fight, however, takes place in Hong Kong after Kong acquires his axe: allowing him to even the odds by utilizing an ape's two greatest skills— tool use and climbing.
  • A plot point in Aquaman: Arthur has spent most of his life on the surface, and is severely outmatched when forced to fight Atlanteans of similar skill level underwater. However, the Atlanteans are at a similar disadvantage when fighting on dry land.

  • Philip, the protagonist of the novel Of Human Bondage, was born with a club foot and walks with a limp, but is a strong swimmer.
  • Victor Krum in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is described as duck-like on land, but fantastically gifted on a broomstick.
  • Another sport-related example is Harold "Stinker" Pinker in the Jeeves and Wooster novels; he can't cross a room without tripping over something, but put him on a rugby field and he turns into an unstoppable juggernaut.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, the Quaddies are a species gene-engineered to have four arms and no legs. In a gravity field, they're awkward and helpless, but in zero-G, they excel. Miles has rarely seen anything as beautiful as their zero-G ballet.
  • The Belgariad: Cho-Hag, the Algarian Chief of the Clan-Chiefs, was crippled in his youth but is one of the best horsemen in a nation that's collectively Born in the Saddle. When he and his Arch-Enemy face each other on horseback, onlookers are amazed by how gracefully and effortlessly Cho-Hag dismantles him.
  • A more metaphorical example in Safehold with Allyn Magwair. For a long time, he's considered to be the most useless of the four villains. He's an awful politician, naval commander, and socialite but when land war starts, he suddenly turns out to be one of Safehold's most skilled generals.
  • Vulture of Shaman Blues - he's impossibly graceful in the air, but his manner on the ground is reminescent of a duck with sea sickness.
  • Eric starts the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series as a small town guard and not a very good one. However, all that marching and training and armor still serves him well as he discovers after setting out as an adventurer that much more naturally faster and agile out of armor than in. This ends up making him a better fit as his adventuring party's rogue than their paladin, which he had been originally planning to be.
  • Prince Charlemagne of The Icemark Chronicles walks with a bad limp due to a childhood polio infection, but after some training (and a bit of self-esteem improvement) learns to be a skilled and graceful horseman.
  • During a full-scale battle against Ethniu's army in Battle Ground (2020), Harry notes that his side is fortunate that they're battling on land, as the Formorians are clumsy outside of the water and unable to use their normal tactics to surround enemies from all directions.
  • No One Needed to Know: Donald struggles with fine motor tasks like unlocking a door or carrying a tray of food, but he turns out to be a surprisingly good bowler. He beats all the other kids in his special ed program.
  • In Song of the Dolphin Boy, the half-selkie Finn is awkward and clumsy on land, but can swim as quickly and easily as a dolphin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In one episode Melora Pazlar, a Starfleet officer from a light world, is assigned to the station; because her muscles are designed for a light world she has to wear a special full-body brace in order to get around, which she does very clumsily. At one point some baddies have invaded; the crew turns off the Artificial Gravity, and she's the only one who can move about, quickly taking out the bad guys.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: Malcolm Reed is a socially awkward Shrinking Violet, but put him behind a tactical console and he's an absolute genius at making starships go boom.
  • Farscape: Rygel XVI. A diminutive toad-like creature who rarely even walks on his own, preferring to use his Throne-Sled (hoverchair) for movement. This is because he's aquatic. When we see him swimming in "The Peacekeeper Wars" miniseries, he's extremely graceful.
  • In Firefly, Dr. Simon Tam is often portrayed as a Fish out of Water, a Core-born fugitive trying to get by on the Rim with the rest of the crew of Serenity. But in the episode "Ariel", where he has to infiltrate a Core hospital to find out what was done to his sister River, it is obvious that he is in his element — not only does he blend in seamlessly, but he even takes over an operation and saves a patient's life, before then proceeding to ream the doctor in charge of the operation a new one in Drill Sergeant Nasty fashion.
  • In an episode of Family Matters, Eddie hires his friend Waldo at the Burger Fool he manages as a favor, but Waldo is incompetent at everything he's assigned to do. Carl tells Eddie a story of a police officer he knew who had a similar problem to help Eddie realize the importance of playing to a person's strengths. For Waldo, this was cooking and his performance improved drastically behind the grill. For the officer Carl used to demonstrate the point, it was going undercover in a dress to lure out muggers.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva: Wataru Kurenai has a crippling social anxiety on top of No Social Skills because of his isolated upbringing, so he is absolutely useless when interacting with people and that's only under the assumption he had not abruptly removed himself from the uncomfortable/unknown situation in the first place. When it comes to playing and repairing violins, he has a justifiedly absolute confidence in his skills and a reputation in the field to boot.
  • Perfect Strangers started out portraying Balki this way. When doing things he really knew how to do, he was competent and at ease.
  • Played for Laughs in Kaamelott: Merlin justifies his incompetence in his lab by the fact that he is a druid, therefore his magic is connected to nature and he can't work as well with a roof over his head. He is still incompetent outside.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the Weatherlight is a lousy sailing ship - its two masts and sails extend mostly horizontally from its sides, its hull's cross-section leaves it vulnerable to choppy water, its vanes are right on the waterline making the ship prone to swamping, it requires two rudders to maneuver effectively, and its anchor is awkwardly placed at the rear of the ship right beneath the crew bunks. In the air, however, the Weatherlight is swift and graceful, and capable of planeshifting itself and its crew to any destination.
  • In Mekton Zeta, Ace Pilot Mark Benjamin Michaels is described as being "terminally clumsy outside of a cockpit".
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Rokea (were-sharks) are clumsier on land.

  • Flick-to-Stick Bungees: Muan/Huma from Bionic Bungees is stated to be faster in water than on land, with a motor helping it to move around.
  • Star Monsters:
    • Rinen, an air-elemental bird Star Monster, is better at flying than at moving on the ground.
    • Polin, a penguin who is a water elemental, is an "arrow under water" compared to walking.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Mario Bros. 3, the frog suit is great for swimming, but not for traversing land, where you need to resort to jumping constantly to move at a decent pace, as attempting to walk or dash will just make Mario move with extremely sluggish hops.
  • Kine the Fish in Kirby's Dream Land 2, similarly to the previous example, is good at swimming, but can only move at a normal speed on the land by jumping, and can barely move by walking or dashing. In the sequel, however, he's able to dash around on land just as quickly as any of the other animal friends.
  • Plesiosaurus and pteranodon from Adventure Island are very clumsy on land, but they are very good swimmers and flyers respectively.
  • Joker from Mass Effect. He can only barely walk (slowly) on his feet due to brittle bone disease but is probably the best human starship pilot alive.
    • The hanar are basically sentient jellyfish, and can only move on ground through the use of special fields that hold them up. In their native oceans, however, they can apparently move with astonishing speed and agility - they're actually predators, and their tentacles are strong enough to break a grown man's neck (Zaeed mentions having to wear a neckbrace for months after one tried to strangle him).
  • Rena Hirose from Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere may be a borderline example: she is not extraordinary clumsy but confined to indoors due to allergy to sunlight; flying planes with closed cockpits and external cameras is the only means for her to see the outside—and so she became a distinguished Ace Pilot.
    • Captain Bartlett from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War makes reference to this when he's forced to drive a car while the player supports him from the air, claiming that only being able to move in two dimensions "really cramps my style".
  • Pokémon:
    • Cherrim is an otherwise forgettable Grass-type, but when it's sunny out, it blooms, granting its partners in double and triple battles boosted Attack and Special Defense. There is a reason why the final opponent in Pokémon Battle Revolution uses Cherrim in one of his teams, otherwise filled up completely with Olympus Mons.
    • Rotom is a Fragile Speedster on its own—it can pack some hurt, but it requires a lot of savvy from the player to get a lot of mileage out of one. Once Rotom possesses a household electrical appliance, it becomes a Lightning Bruiser, with greatly increased stats and versatility. Appliance-Rotom has since become a staple Pokémon in competitive battling in all four environments, something very few Pokémon can claim.
    • As more general examples, a number of Pokémon Abilities related to weather reflect this trope: Swift Swim (Speed doubles in the rain), Chlorophyll (Speed doubles in the sun), Sand Rush (Speed doubles in a sandstorm), Solar Power (Special Attack increases in the sun but takes damage), Sand Force (certain attacks do more damage in a sandstorm), Sand Veil (evasion increases in a sandstorm), Snow Cloak (evasion increases in hail), Rain Dish (continually heals in the rain), and Ice Body (continually heals in hail).
  • Sumia in Fire Emblem: Awakening is a Cute Clumsy Girl with a tendency to trip over thin air. On a pegasus, she can pull a Big Damn Heroes move to pull her leader out of harm's way. This is something her daughter also seems to inherit.
  • Red Alert 3: Most amphibious units, while not exactly helpless on land/water, tend to do better in one environment than the other:
    • Collectors, MC Vs, Tsunami tanks, Assault Destroyers and Grinders can only run over enemies while on land (less of a problem for Grinders, since their attack renders the enemy helpless). Particularly noticeable in the Destroyer's case, since their Go Through Me ability makes them unable to attack except by running over infantry and vehicles.
    • Stingrays move slower on land than on water, and can only use their Herd-Hitting Attack in the water.
    • The Giga Fortress can attack any enemy while floating, while their flying form is unable to attack air units and moves slower than a Kirov. Then again, its attack outranges every other unit and turret in the game.
    • Riptides can use their machine gun on any terrain, but can only use their torpedoes in water.
  • A quest chain in World of Warcraft's Western Plaguelands has you take Zenkiki, a novice druid, under your wing for a while. He's incapable of even the most basic of druid abilities until he starts healing and it becomes clear he's a natural restoration druid.
  • Two very strange examples in ARK: Survival Evolved: both Ankylosaurus and Doedicurus (a glyptodont) are heavy, low-set, slow creatures with body armor and tails specialized for mining. Both creatures inexplicably have a high base Oxygen stat, which governs not only the amount of time one can spend under water but also swim speed, making them much faster and more agile in water than on land.
  • The Eelies from Slurpy Derpy are eel-like creatures with ribbon-like appendages. Their humorous flavor text states that they can swim up to 100mph in the water but on land they can only flop at approximately 3mph if the wind is favorable. And unfortunately for them, they make their homes on land.

    Web Original 
  • Starwalker: Starwalker is a pilot and a ship. She can pull miracles in space but is awkward in an atmosphere.
  • Gura Gawr, of the English branch of hololive, struggles with most video games. The exception is Rhythm Games, where she can consistently pull off perfect runs.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Tick, the character Sewer Urchin becomes much less of a Rain Man-like character when a case actually takes the group into the sewers. (The Tick and Arthur, conversely, begin to act the way Sewer Urchin does when he's above ground.)
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender Teo is a master pilot able to outperform Aang without being able to Airbend. He's also in a wheelchair.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Wheeler, a former street teen from Brooklyn, isn't exactly well versed in the environmental problems that most episodes cover, but in the "special" episodes relating to city problems (like drug use, HIV, and gang violence), he's usually the one most understanding and on top of things.
  • In Dinotrux Skrap-It is a Scraptool, by nature made to take stuff apart, being forced to serve as The Medic to Big Bad D-Structs. It is made abundantly clear that despite his best efforts he is not a great mechanic and his repairs on D-Structs aren't as good as they could be. On the other hand, when D-Structs needs another Trux sabotaged as part of his plans, Skrap-It can do that with great efficiency; often able to remove small critical parts from a trux without them even noticing he was there.
  • Normally Donald Duck either has a Universal Driver's License or is equally incompetent with all sorts of vehicles, who only wears the sailor suit. But DuckTales (2017) makes him an actually skilled mariner and houseboat captain - his sister is, conversely, the pilot.
    • Kit Cloudkicker (from TaleSpin) has grown up following in Baloo's footsteps as a pilot. Unfortunately, he's terrible at it, lacking discipline and relying on a crowbar as his "co-pilot." But when he leaves the flying up to someone competent, he can still cloudkick as gracefully as ever, leaving Della in tears at his sheer beauty.
    • For a looser definition of "element," Huey functions very poorly in situations where he doesn't have an authority figure or the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook to guide him, best illustrated in "Terror of the Terra-Firmians!" But put him in a situation where he has a structure to rely on, and he becomes an incredibly competent problem-solver and adventurer. Likewise, Penumbra isn't suited to "Earth fun" and struggles to engage in a single normal activity. As soon as the situation turns dangerous, however, she's able to take control and enact a rescue; realizing how often dangerous things happen on Earth and how much help people need on a regular basis is what helps her adjust.
  • Rick and Morty: Jerry Smith is a total loser in society, partially because he's so spineless that if there's someone to mooch off of he takes no initiative for himself, however when put into a situation where no one else can step up, removed from the modern trappings of society with little or no technology, like post-apocalyptic life or camping, he's a surprisingly competent provider where everyone else flounders.

    Real Life 
  • Quite a few animals that are highly adapted for life in the water, the air or the trees are often very clumsy when on solid ground, even if they're closely related to terrestrial kin:
    • Seals. On shore, they move with a kind of undulating motion that looks almost comical. Once they get into the water, they can give dolphins a run for their money.
    • Most species of Procellariiformes (the order of seabirds that includes albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters) are extremely clumsy on land, due to the large wingspans that make them graceful and efficient in the air. Albatrosses are nicknamed "Goonybirds" while on land.
    • Many swifts and swallows, while among the most fast and deft fliers, are completely helpless if they ever end up on a flat surface. Their wings are too long to simply take off, and legs are only good for hanging on a tree, rock or edge of a nest. At best, they can clumsily hobble along or climb until they face a height enough for a diving start.
    • Penguins as well, they waddle on land but cut through water like bullets.
    • Hummingbirds have weak feet that are only really good at perching on branches, but they are among the best fliers in the bird world. They are capable of hovering in the air and even flying backward.
    • Loons fall within this category too: While they're great on water, they are named so because of their behavior on land, where humans spend most of their time. Their legs are set far back on their bodies, forcing them to clumsily scoot about with their feet pushing their bellies forward.
    • Whenever people see sea turtles on beaches, they're only capable of dragging themselves along with their flippers, but they are much more adapted to life in the sea. The record holder for the fastest non-avian reptile is the Leatherback Sea Turtle.
    • Sea snakes have the same problem that sea turtles have, only worse: They don't have the ventral scales that their land-based cousins have and cannot move on land at all, and all true sea snakes give live birth in water.
      • This also applies to all of the extinct ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pliosaurs, and mosasaurs. They evolved to the point they never came to land at all and would die if beached.
    • New discoveries show Spinosaurus as having had incredibly short legs for a theropod, and likely waddled clumsily on land in a far cry from its Jurassic Park III portrayal. However, a 2020 discovery revealed it to have a flexible, powerful tail equipped with a ridged, eel-like fin, making it far more adept in the water where, instead of preying on other dinosaurs, specialized on aquatic game such as 10-foot sawfish and giant coelacanths.
    • A number of tree dwelling mammals move awkwardly when they find themselves on the ground. Sifaka lemurs need to make sideway hops on the ground since their arms are too short and the legs are too long for a quadrupedal gait. Certain bats and Colugo can only flop about and the Sloth can also only drag itself slowly (but surprisingly, they can swim by dog-paddling).
      • Of course Sloths hang from tree branches not moving at all like the pros that they are.
    • Dragonflies, some of the best fliers among insects, can't walk. They can land for brief periods of time, but about all they can do when grounded is turn around.
    • Birds of prey move rather slowly on the ground, but when they take to the skies they're among the fastest creatures on the planet. In fact, the peregrine holds the record for the fastest animal and fastest predator ever to exist.
    • Pelicans subvert this trope; while they're not nearly as well-adapted to moving around on land as they are water or air, their combination of long necks, even longer beaks, and fast reflexes make them surprisingly effective at ambushing and devouring smaller birds during instances where they can't get hold of (or just don't feel like looking for) their usual food source, fish.
    • Crocodilians in general. On land, they're pancakes with a (very) pointy end. Though you don't want to underestimate their speed, they're still far from graceful in the way they move, an prefer not to do much of it. In water, though, they're more like agile torpedos with a tendency to pull off incredibly sneaky, calculated ambush strikes.
    • Anacondas move rather slowly at 5mph on land thanks to their large, bulky size making terrestrial movement cumbersome. They're much faster in the water, where their bulk is mitigated by water buoyancy.
  • The fastest human runner alive can reach a top speed of just under 28 mph. The fastest human swimmer can reach 6 mph in the water. In contrast, a dolphin can swim at 25 mph. Its movement speed on land is considerably less than 6 mph.
  • Humans in general. Other anthropoids can climb trees much better than we can; frankly, we're beyond ungainly in a tree. On the other hand, no other anthropoid can walk or dance on the ground as we can. We are incredibly weak in close combat; don't ever get into a wrestling match with a chimp; you'll lose. On the other hand, no other anthropoid can throw a rock fast, much less fast and accurately. We are incredibly lethal at a distance; to any chimps reading this, don't ever corner a human if they can find projectiles, you'll lose. Human juveniles can routinely hit a 0.25-square-meter (2.69-square-foot) target with a one-kilogram (two-pound) object thrown at more than 25 meters/second (56 miles/hour), fast enough to crack a skull or deliver a lethal crushing injury. (Human adults make a game of throwing a ball about a quarter that mass about twice that fast at a target that size, and play it for fun.) No other animal can do that.
  • The sedentary enemies of both the Mongols in Asia and the Commanche Indians in North America claimed that they looked like small and awkward physical specimens when seen on foot. In contrast, they seemed to become highly graceful and dangerous when in control of a horse.
  • In the documentary Resurrecting Richard III, a group of historians set out to test whether Richard—whose bones discovered in 2013 confirm that he had a severe deformity of the spine—could have really fought as effectively in the Battle of Bosworth field as the chronicles record. By great luck they find a 26-year old War of The Roses reenactor named Dominic Smee who has the same kind of scoliosis as Richard, who agrees to participate in experiments to find out whether he can do the kinds of things that Richard was said to have done. Things don't look too promising at first when they test Dominic's range of motion and endurance; he doesn't seem like he could swordfight on foot effectively. However when they get him a custom-made asymmetrical suit of armor and put him on a horse with a correct medieval war saddle, instead of giving him an even harder time these things actually correct his posture and support his body, and before long he's becoming a pretty confident rider. The historians conclude that Richard III could have plausibly been very formidable on horseback, but once unhorsed his limitations would have caught up with him.


Video Example(s):


Doomsday Rounds

Womble discovers that the doomsday rounds are useless at ranges beyond 150 meters. Targets WITHIN 150 meters, on the other hand...

How well does it match the trope?

4.96 (27 votes)

Example of:

Main / GracefulInTheirElement

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