Things are looking bleak. The protagonist and his allies are in a corner; the villain's kung fu is stronger than theirs. Outnumbered, outgunned, the situation calls for heroism, and unfortunately for our heroes, the only people around are all comic relief, sidekicks or mentor figures who've never really stepped up to the plate, when they aren't mere Boisterous Weaklings.
A moment in the story when all the quirky, eccentric supporting cast members, or Super Zeroes, stop being quirky and eccentric and start demonstrating their real skill. In effect, it can often be similar to taking a level in badass, except that really, when you think about it, it makes more sense. It's not so much that they pull the power from nowhere. Rather, these characters have always had that power, and it's simply that now they get to show it in a way that doesn't steal the hero's screen time. In some cases, they may even have been actively failing to demonstrate this much-hyped power before.
This is a bit more realistic than Took a Level in Badass, because the level in badass has already been taken, it's only now, when they won't be stealing the Protagonist's spotlight, that they use their ability.
The Trope Namer is the Catch-Phrase of Darkwing Duck, a bumbling hero whose utterance of the phrase marked the point in every episode where he would set aside his enormous ego and start taking things seriously, demonstrating his true competence as a crimefighter.
Any Retired Badass can pull off this trope if sufficiently provoked. Hobbits are also particularly likely to have it occur every so often. Can overlap with a "World of Cardboard" Speech, The Coats Are Off, The Glasses Come Off, and/or a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner.
See also Giving the Sword to a Noob, The So-Called Coward, Good Is Not Dumb, Scrap Heap Hero, Not-So-Harmless Villain (the Evil Counterpart), Lethal Joke Character, I Am Not Left-Handed, This Means War!, Misfit Mobilization Moment, and Badass/Heroic Bystander. When a whole civilization decides to get dangerous, this is a Superweapon Surprise.
Please do not confuse this with Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, which is when a genuinely ditzy and harmless character demonstrates bouts of superior skill, often accompanied by a change in personality or powers.
- Anime and Manga
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- Fan Works
- Animated Films
- Live-Action Films
- Live-Action TV
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- Web Comics
- Web Original
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- Real Life
- In the first game of Destroy the Godmodder, players were just trying mostly in vain to damage said Godmodder. Then the Terror Zombie and Terror Skeleton joined the battle, and the number of poster-summoned entities went from zero to 5 in just a couple of pages. It never stopped there.
- In Archipelago Exodus, this is Emily Schwartzwald's M.O. She spends the majority of most topics as a whimsical Cloud Cuckoo Lander handing out snacks to the real adventurers, but when the chips are down and her friends are in danger, she cuts loose with a frenzy of pinpoint projectiles that'll give any non-God-tier Power pause.
- Garth Firbolg is also worth noting; due to his powers slowly killing him and his retiring personality, he's usually the Butt-Monkey for whatever plot he's in. But when he cuts loose, he's performed such feats as summoning a forty foot long python made of flames, launching a giant bull spirit into outer space, and gating in a comet the size of Kentucky.
- Ruby spends most of Ruby Quest as an Action Survivor. Then she confronts the Hound Zombie ( Daisy) and finishes the fight in one move by throwing the Hound Zombie through a container of acid and into an exposed electrical panel.
- WWF example: The Stooges (Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson) were retired ex-champions reduced to corporate yes-men for the McMahons. Tag team champions The New Age Outlaws arranged to meet them in a 'hardcore' (anything goes) match, and proceeded to find themselves on the end of 'old school hardcore' (i.e. blinding handfuls of talcum and concealed fist-loads instead of blatant weapons).
- Black Rose has as much to say about herself, but also of pro wrestlers in general. Just because they look happy or friendly when you see them out and about or in photo shoots doesn't mean you should expect that to last when they get in the ring. She said this about a picture taken with Jessicka Havok and Leilani Kai at SHINE, that latter of whom would help crush Rose's throat not long afterwards.