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Minored in Ass-Kicking

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"My eleventh Ph.D. is in Applied Ass-Kicking!"
The Engineer, Team Fortress 2

For this guy, fighting ability is secondary. They're Mission Control, The Face, The Team Benefactor, anything except outright combat, and so they are assumed to be a Non-Action Guy. Then in a special situation, they show how physically mighty they are. After displaying this prowess in combat, they go back to being the unassuming scholar. Both characters and audiences might forget he's stronger than the Lightning Bruiser because their "major" is in something else.

The Smart Guy who Minored in Ass-Kicking is a character who, like targets of The Worf Effect, is among the strongest in the cast. The difference is that not only do they rarely get beat up, most anyone challenging them gets their ass handed to them.

Despite this, they probably aren't an Invincible Hero because they prefer to use their brains and/or diplomacy to solve a problem, and will gladly let the rest of the cast flex their own muscles, only intervening directly when the situation is dire. It's this emphasis on non-combat that saves them from The Worf Barrage, by keeping their combat skills as a hidden depth they pull out maybe every fourth episode.

Despite their lifesaving combat skills, they may pose a danger to their friends when they aren't fully in control of themselves. When mind controlled they are unbeatable because they are unrestrained. If angered they are unstoppable, and all this usually comes wrapped up in a Nice Guy package. Beware the Nice Ones, indeed.

Compare Badass Bookworm (for whom this is not an unusual trait), and the more extreme version Genius Bruiser. Contrast Dumbass No More. See also Martial Pacifist. See also Underestimating Badassery if one thinks this guy is all brain and no brawn.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baccano!'s Luck Gandor, as the social face and "strategy" of the Gandor family, prefers talking his way through situations, and reads poetry in his spare time. Having a philosophical bent doesn't mean that he's not capable of some remarkable feats of badassery when properly motivated, however.
  • From Bleach, Aizen Sosuke. Too bad he's evil.
    • Also, Urahara Kisuke. He very rarely fights - but if he does, you are dead. The only one able to defeat him was Aizen, and that doesn't count because it was part of Urahara's plan.
    • Still further, Retsu Unohana. She inverts this in a sense because in-universe she was the most vicious killer in all of Soul Society as the First Kenpachi before she joined the Gotei 13, so really she was a badass who minored in medicine, eventually taking up the latter full time. In the story as told, however, she's a very matronly figure who everyone in Soul Society is kind of scared of for (until the spoilered part of this entry) unexplained reasons.
  • Yukio from Blue Exorcist. His Hot-Blooded older twin brother Rin always protected him as a child; now that they're in exorcist academy Rin learns just how badass his brother is: not only is he the smartest freshman at school but also Rin's professor and a highly skilled exorcist who could see demons since childhood (and always knew something was up with his brother) wielding anti-demon guns and (at least for a moment) coldly determined to send his brother back to his biological father for the death of their beloved foster father.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Tsuchimikado Motoharu is primarily a wisecracking spy and onmyouji, but has the combat skills to beat the protagonist in hand-to-hand combat.note 
  • Played straight with Hattori Heiji in Detective Conan: He is more hotheaded than the other high school detectives (a fact remarked upon in the series), but he always keeps using his brains, confronting armed killers with his logical conclusions rather than just knocking them out and calling the police. Attack him or his friends, though, and you'll find out just who can beat the entire police kendo club of Osaka. Or stop a sword with a cell phone.
    • Ranís father Kogoro is an accomplished judo fighter, however like Hattori above Kogoro only busts out the flips when the situation calls for it.
  • Digimon Tamers: Lee Jianliang is a computer nerd trained in the martial art of Tai Chi. He mostly leaves the fighting to his Digimon partner Terriermon, though his martial arts expertise is best exploited when they biomerge into MegaGargomon.
  • Son Gohan! Dragon Ball Z being the show that it is, he doesn't get much of a chance to show off his intelligence, so he tends to hide more behind his pacifism.
    • Fillers of the Anime and The Movies do show his smart side, being able to read complex entomology book and building a sand-surfer/Nice Boat (with complex equations to calculate its dimensions and proportions) before turning 5. Seriously, if he doesn't define Child Prodigy, who knows what does!
    • In Dragon Ball Online, its revealed that Gohan actually wrote and published a book explaining in great detail the principles of ki. This alongside Trunks and Goten's martial art school fending off an invasion was what led to the massive rise in ki-using martial artists in the setting of the game.
  • From Golden Boy, Kintaro Oe is an everyman who can learn just about any skill in short order, from programming to swimming. Though he much prefers not to get into a fight, he is also more than capable of demonstrating that he learned some martial arts in his travels.
  • Yuki Nagato from Haruhi Suzumiya is a perfect example of this. She appears to be nothing more than a waifish bookworm who rarely moves or says a word, but is capable of distorting reality, moving at impossible (for a human) speeds, and surviving otherwise fatal wounds without even wincing. When the fight's done, she just sits back down and continues reading silently.
  • Isumi from Hayate the Combat Butler, a quiet Yamato Nadeshiko Cloud Cuckoo Lander who can banish demon hoards without even breaking step.
  • Akisame of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, who spends his free time dabbling in sculpture, music, calligraphy, and just about every kind of artistic expression imaginable. It's implied that he's quite good at most of it too.
    • During the arc where Ryozanpaku invades the American army base on Okinawa, Akisame takes this trope learns how to hack a complex computer system on the spot by first asking for help from and then just copying Niijima. It's seriously scary how competent that man is.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Yuuno Scrya would be one of these, being both a very powerful Barrier Warrior and the chief librarian of the Infinity Library, but Nanoha, being the kind of series it is, doesn't give him too many opportunities to establish his badass credentials. To make it clear, he is capable of fighting on equal terms with the Wolkenritter through using Barrier Magic in unconventional ways. Despite being the only mage in the series to lack any form of artificially intelligent Device to help him.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has a number of these but Albireo and Negi are probably the foremost examples.
  • In Soul Eater, Maka spends most of her time reading books and studying for exams. However if you call her on it, she and Soul will beat the ever-loving crap out of you (kinda subverted in that they do get beat up a bit until they Took a Level in Badass). Also, Kid counts - obsessed with perfection and generally thinks his way out of situations... however, he's a freaking Shinigami!
  • Yoko, the poster girl for Fanservice in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, decides to retire halfway through the Time Skip to become a teacher. In one memorable scene, she silences the classroom by throwing a piece of chalk so hard across the room, it embeds itself into the wall. Without taking her eyes off of her book. When the students get attacked by a pair of rogue Beastmen in mechs, we quickly find out she hasn't lost her snipin' skillz.
    Yoko: Class dismissed. You fail! (Mechs go BOOM)
  • Trinity Blood: A bit of a throwaway scene in the anime has an elderly Gadgeteer Genius and resident Smart Guy in the church anti-vamp squad beset by a dozen zombie vampire assassins who are like vampires, but much more powerful. We cut to other adventurers, and when we cut back they're all dead on the floor while he calmly lights a pipe.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Juxtapose, Kensei and Megumi have no intention on becoming Pro Heroes, but train alongside Izuku and Hitoshi in support of their goals. By the Sports Festival, they're able to take on the Hero Course students in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Like her canon counterpart, Zelda's greatest assets in Zelda and the Manacle of Cahla are her logic, book smarts, and puzzle solving skills. She only learned how to fight so her aunt would let her explore beyond their village's safe borders, but, with her years of training, Zelda is good with a sword, better with a bow, and becomes an Instant Expert with a whip.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King (1994): Rafiki. He's not a fighter, but when push comes to shove, he can more than hold his own.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tej, in The Fast and the Furious movies is The Smart Guy for Dom's team, noticeably smaller than the other men, and never attempts to fight any of the villains directly (though he does participate in car chases). Never the less, when a security guard corners him in the seventh film, Tej casually annihilates the guy in a matter of seconds with a series of blows so fast, the guard is unconscious before he hits the ground.
  • Dale Arden, from Flash Gordon.
    "Hey, I'm a New York City girl! I took karate at the Y!" (as she beats up a couple of Ming's mooks.)
  • Indiana Jones: It may not seem like this trope because we only ever see the Badass parts of his life, but he has "professor" as his day job. From the perspective of his students (as well as others who meet him as the "professor" first), this trope is played straight:
    Henry Jones Sr.: You call this archaeology?!
    "Mutt" Williams: You're a... a teacher?!
  • Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid fits this trope along with Martial Pacifist. Despite being an Okinawan karate master and highly decorated U.S. World War II veteran, Daniel finds him spending his old age working as the South Seas apartment complex's maintenance man while enjoying peaceful hobbies such as cultivating bonsai trees. He teaches Daniel karate in a way that heavily emphasizes restraint and self-control, and only fights on the very rare occasions where self-defense is justified. Despite this, he can still fight so well that he wins using a minimum of force. He beats John Kreese without even really fighting him, basically letting the man beat himself up.
  • In Man of Steel, during Zod's attempted coup, Jor-El manages to kick the crap out of Zod in a fistfight. Unfortunately, while Jor-El's distracted by the launch of Clark's ship, Zod pulls a knife and stabs him.
  • Yoda from Star Wars is the diminutive, centuries-old leader of the Jedi order. The original trilogy depicts him as a frail and peaceful hermit (with a dose of Obfuscating Stupidity) to whom Luke goes for training in the spiritual and supernatural aspects of the force. The prequel trilogy initially shows him as slightly younger and more active, but still mainly serving as the leader of the Jedi council and a revered teacher. Then, at the climax of Attack of the Clones, he reveals his dormant warrior prowess by holding his own against Count Dooku in lightsaber combat, defending against Force lightning, and lifting colossal objects using the Force. He spends much of Revenge of the Sith as an outright Action Hero, but fails to destroy Darth Sidious and is forced to go into hidden exile, eventually becoming the unassuming hermit whom Luke meets many years later.
  • Minor character Shinobu Kojo, from Sister Streetfighter, may be a ballerina, but she's quick to aggressively defend those under her protection from any dangerous person or group of people, as seen when she and Tina Long, who had earlier shown up on a tip from the former's boyfriend, Sonny Hibachi, double-team on a group of Kaki's Mooks.
  • Iguchi Seibei in The Twilight Samurai. By the Bakumatsu era, most samurai were bureaucrats, so fighting skill was not a foregone conclusion. Seibei, in particular, prefers his drama-free existence, and plans to become a farmer when the Shogunate is overturned. However, after he trounces his friend's abusive, alcoholic ex-husband in a duel armed with only a bokuto, the new daimyo wants Seibei's skill in settling a succession dispute.


By Author:

  • A number of Tamora Pierce characters.
    • Tris: Redheaded glasses-wearing crosspatch bordering on genuine Jerkass, but is a sweet heart underneath. Constantly reading, slightly overweight, brilliant, and always picked on. Has weather magic that can literally rip you to bits.
    • Numair: Veritable Cloud Cuckoolander and always lost in some scholarly pursuit. Someone doubted his prowess as a war mage and that someone is now a tree. (As a consequence, somewhere, a random tree is now a somebody.)
  • The science-fiction version of Maturin is Adele Mundy in the David Drake RCN series. She'll always be clumsy on a starship, she's uncomfortable dealing with people rather than computers or books and she'd much prefer collating information to anything, but she's extremely protective of her True Companions and a remarkably good shot with a pistol.

By Title:

  • Animorphs: Arbat-Elivat-Estoni from The Arrival.
  • Surgeon/natural philosopher/spy Steven Maturin of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. In the course of 21 books, he never learns larboard from starboard and shows a general disdain for heated combat. But he repeatedly demonstrates he's more than capable of taking care of himself in a duel or assassinating rival spies.
  • Dallben and Coll of The Chronicles of Prydain. Coll is a Retired Badass, while Dallben spends most of his time napping, grouching about young people these days, and occasionally doing a bit of light meditation... and when someone invades his home in Book 5, he shows just why he's "the most powerful enchanter in Prydain" and one of two Big Goods.
  • Codex Alera: The Cursors. Yeah, they're couriers, and spies, and occasionally, they're called on to defend themselves, so it's one of the things they train in.
  • The Cosmere:
    • Mistborn: Sazed is a teacher first and foremost dedicated to preserving knowledge, but his ability to perfectly store memories of entire books also allow him to store his strength, speed, weight and endurance, to be accessed in large quantities whenever he needs them. His scholarly lifestyle ends up helping out in this respect, as he is able to operate at a lower percentage of his full strength on a daily basis, storing up massive amounts of strength for when he needs it. He's also the first character in the series to actually take on a Steel Inquisitor head on, although the encounter happens off-page. Lampshaded in the third book, where he begins to protest that he's a scholar, not a fighter, for something like the eightieth time before accepting that he's seen more fighting than most actual fighters.
    • The Stormlight Archive: The ten orders of the Knights Radiant were charged with protecting humanity from the Voidbringers. By the modern era, the common assumption is that all the Knights were frontline fighters, but the truth is that many of the Orders were scholars or healers. However, no matter the Order, every Knight had a Shardblade, Shardplate, and the enhanced strength, speed, perception, and Healing Factor of Stormlight, making them extremely dangerous when they did need to fight. Considering that the Wars against the Voidbringers were world-wide wars of extinction, it makes sense that even the support staff are deadly warriors.
  • Edmond Dantès from The Count of Monte Cristo. The greater part of the story involves him infiltrating the French aristocracy multiple times under different guises, and trapping his enemies in various plans. But he's also a hardened ex-con, seasoned buccaneer, and hellbent on revenge.
  • A few examples from the Dresden Files:
    • Charity Carpenter. The wife of the Fist of God makes his armor (which is kevlar reinforced chainmail) and is his sparring partner. As shown in Proven Guilty especially, you really don't want to mess with one of her kids.
    • Mortimer Lindquist (after Harry helps him get his act back together) turns out to be very dangerous with a bunch of spirits at his command, though he often complains that he's not a fighter and has no interest in it.
    • Molly's tutelage under Lea could be considered this, since combat is one of the disciplines of magic she's least good at. She mostly learned to use what she was already good at (illusions) in combat situations.
  • Harry Potter: The staff of Hogwarts, notably in Deathly Hallows.
    McGonagall: We teachers are rather good at magic, you know.
  • The Hunger Games: Peeta Mellark is very strong, a wrestler, skilled with a knife, holds his own at the Cornucopia and against Cato and kills Brutus, one of the toughest tributes in the Quarter Quell. All the same he prefers diplomacy to violence and only uses force when his life, or Katniss', is on the line. He does most of his damage through being a Magnetic Hero and a master of the Wham Line.
  • Dracula: Dr. Seward is an intelligent and educated psychiatrist and general practitioner, but he's perfectly capable of vaulting out of windows in pursuit of escaped inmates and, when attacked by the knife-wielding Renfield, knocks him over with a single punch and escapes with only a slight cut to the wrist.
  • El Greco of In Fury Born:
    The academics of El Greco warmed up their computers, set up their data searches, and turned to the study of guerrilla warfare, sabotage, and assassination as if preparing to sit their doctoral orals.
  • Journey to Chaos Unlike others in the Dragon's Lair mercenary guild, Mia's job is purely clerical but she can still subdue thugs with ease.
  • Judge Dee is an Imperial Judge, meaning his day-to-day routine involves running a city and solving crimes small and large through intellectual means rather than "torture first accuse later". He also happens to be a first-rate swordsman able to fight a pair of bandits to a standstill, his much more experienced lieutenants (including the aforementioned bandits) think him a respectable foe in hand-to-hand combat, engages in quarterstaf fights for recreation, and he can credibly pass for an itinerant martial arts instructor. Even an actual martial arts teacher believes that the judge could certainly achieve the tenth and last degree of kung-fu, which requires mental fortitude.
  • In Jin Yong's The Legend of the Condor Heroes, the guy with the most powerful martial arts is not the abbot of Shaolin, not the series' protagonists, not the Big Bad... but the guy, completely forgotten to even his fellow monks, who sweeps the floor in the Shaolin library, and has probably read some that even the abbot hasn't heard of.
  • Paul Blofis, father-in-law of the titular hero of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, seems at first like a pretty cool and laid-back guy, even if he is a math teacher. Then, during the Final Battle, he picks up a sword from a fallen hero and defeats a dracaena in a one-on-one duel, brushing it off as having done Shakespeare in college and picked up a little swordplay. It should be noted that due to the Mist, he literally can't even see it properly.
  • Revanche Cycle: Dante Uccello presents himself as a completely cerebral manipulator, until it comes to a showdown with three bounty hunters — at which point he demonstrates what he learned from years as a city militia captain.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, Kurda Smahlt is the one character like this in a mountain full of Proud Warrior Race Guy vampires. He's a pacifist and prefers not to fight unless he has to... and a vampire can't refuse a challenge during the Festival of the Undead.
  • The first thing Richard notices about Henry in The Secret History is his size and how carefully he carries himself. It turns out he's a softspoken genius and even more terrifying for his mind—in addition to being a stoic killer.
  • Stenwold Maker, hero of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series, scholar, artificer, spymaster and War Master of Collegium.
  • Sherlock Holmes solves mysteries with his vast intellect, but he is occasionally given the opportunity to showcase his martial arts prowess. His wiry frame also hides incredible strength.
  • Doctor Impossible in Soon I Will Be Invincible wouldn't have survived as a genius supervillain if he couldn't also tear the armor off a wannabe Iron Man with his bare hands when the occasion calls for it. It's suggested most people don't even realize how strong he is because his physical abilities are completely overshadowed by people who have superstrength as their main power.
  • Sword of Truth:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Mack is a self-taught engineer (and a good one), but whenever things get hairy, he demonstrates exactly how he survived the HYDRA uprising. Eventually he becomes a front line agent full-time, but he would much rather be fixing the agency's cars and quinjets.
    Mack's Brother: You're really good at this stuff, huh?
    Mack: Reuben, I'm a mechanic. I hate "this stuff."
  • Noah Kuttler, The Calculator, in Arrow is a genius hacker. He's no match in combat for most of the show's other villains, but when Damien Dahrk sends Brick and others after him, he proves skilled enough with a shotgun to hold out until he's rescued by Team Arrow.
  • Most of the Babylon 5 philosophical characters are capable of beating the living hell out of anyone given enough provocation. None of Delenn, Lennier, Sinclair or Sheridan appear to be particularly physically intimidating—until the moment they decide that the universe would be best served by beating someone into unconsciousness. This trope particularly fits the Minbari as a whole, who look like average-build humans in physique, but when sufficiently provoked will demonstrate that they're physically more powerful. In one scene, Lennier grabs Marcus by the lapel and lifts him off the ground, saying:
    Lennier: Do not touch me in that fashion. We may sometimes look like you, but we are not you. Never forget that.
  • Bones: Brennan primarily uses her brains in her work, but do not underestimate her in a fight. Booth may be the military guy, but Brennan is an accomplished martial artist and she has no problem getting physical with people who threaten her or her family.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • While Castle is usually a Non-Action Guy, as a civilian writer shadowing the NYPD, we are occasionally reminded that he can occasionally be angered enough to punch a sniper out and that he is also a hell of a good shot.
  • Dexter, the eponymous protagonist, is a "Lab Rat" (who almost got an MD) who took "courses in advanced jujitsu". While he usually strikes by surprise, he was able to clash with a heavily muscled police sergeant who is ex-special forces, and able to best him while Dexter was handcuffed and the cop had a pistol drawn.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor is shown to abhor unnecessary violence and is generally a Guile Hero, but even his gentlest incarnations will usually get one big direct physical fight scene:
      • A brilliant example is the Fourth Doctor ó he was intended as, and fans remember him as, a less aggressive incarnation than the Third Doctor (who had been a martial arts master), but he is actually a lot more physical than the Third Doctor was, although he has a looser, more chaotic, brawling fighting style. Even after the introduction of Action Girl Leela forced some Cast Speciation, it only caused him to switch to guns.
      • The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Doctors have all shown themselves to be master swordsmen (in "The Sea Devils", "The Androids of Tara", and "The King's Demons", respectively).
      • The First Doctor might look like a frail old man, but he managed to beat an assassin in a direct fistfight in "The Romans" and killed or knocked out multiple characters by clobbering them over the head with a solid object ("The Reign of Terror", "The Time Meddler", almost "An Unearthly Child"...). And then there's his ability to resist the Time Destructor in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".
    • The First Doctor's companion, Barbara. Usually, Ian would be the Action Hero, the Doctor would be the crazy-clever one, and Barbara would be the insightful-clever one who would pick up on things the Doctor was too arrogant or unobservant to notice. However, she'd get physical on occasion ó she knocks a Mind Controlled Ian off his feet in "The Keys of Marinus", kills a bunch of nasty alien brains in the same story, battles super-fast growing foliage, kills a Dalek by running over it in a speeding lorry, shoots a "sand beast" in the face with a rocket, kills a Lovecraftian monstrosity...
    • K-9 is a genius computer and usually supplies useful facts and figures. And is also equipped with a laser.
  • Scorpius of Farscape wins most of his battles by outwitting his opponents, but when pressed, he has immense superhuman strength. He hates relying on it, though, and would much rather be remembered for using his brain than his brawn.
  • Firefly: Shepherd Book is especially this trope, delivering a half-fist to the throat to Dobson in the first episode. At one point Book picks up a gun, and someone asks him if The Bible prevented him from killing. His response? "It's a little fuzzy on the subject of kneecaps." Note that kneecaps are themselves hard to hit, and he does it offhand.
    • Also, it appears that on his way to becoming a respected doctor Simon Tam learned to throw one hell of a punch. Which makes a good deal of sense if you've ever had the misfortune to attend a hospital emergency room on a Friday or Saturday night after the bars close.
      • He has also incapacitated a man, literally with his hands tied behind his back, by calmly kneeling on his windpipe.
    • Inara seems to have some combat training, given her fights with Saffron (in "Our Mrs. Reynolds") and the Operative (in Serenity), and the fact that she has a personal laser-bow-thing that she uses against the Reavers (also in Serenity), landing at least some hits. Makes sense given that her Companion work presumably leaves her in at least some dangerous situations.
  • On the surface, Simon Campos of Flash Forward is a brilliant particle physicist (not to mention short and wimpy-looking, which has been pointed in-show). However, you do not want to bully, threaten, or hurt him, or he will go psycho and kill you without hesitation. Preferably with his bare hands.
  • Game of Thrones: Despite being a Guile Hero who relies primarily on his wits, Tyrion has killed someone with just a shield. Tyrion's definitely taken some night classes since becoming Hand of the King, to the point where he proves a reasonably competent fighter in the Battle of the Blackwater. Bronn witnessed his killing with a shield, figured he'd make good use of a war axe, and offers one to him in recommendation. He does in the battle.
  • Methos from Highlander, at least from about 1800 till modern day. He's spent two hundred years hiding out and spying on the Watchers, and running away from every fight he can run away from. But just because he doesn't like to fight doesn't mean he can't. After all, he's not the world's oldest Immortal for nothing.
  • Milton in Kickin' It is a Teen Genius who started taking karate lessons to defend himself from bullies - if not the fully formed version of the trope, he's at least Minoring in Asskicking.
  • Megan Reeves of NUMB3RS. She may be primarily the psychologist, but she's also a black belt in Krav Maga, and one of the best shots in her entire FBI office. Do not make the mistake of thinking she's soft or won't fight back.
  • Sanctuary: Helen Magnus is most often seen utilizing her abilities as an Omnidisciplinary Scientist and diplomat to solve problems and save the day, but her coworkers in the Sanctuary are always quick to point out that she can handle herself in a fight and she has shown the ability to do so many times. The entirety of "Monsoon" is basically Helen evading the bad guys and saving the innocent bystanders through a combination of wit, stealth, and hitting people in the face. The following exchange sums it up quite well, clearly with the trope in mind:
    Charlotte: What are you, a spy, an agent or something?
    Magnus: A doctor.
    Charlotte: Of asskicking!
    • She spent an entire episode fighting with Adam and decisively kicked his ass despite his ability to teleport.
  • Jor-El on Smallville. Renowned scientist and scholar, legal mind par excellence...and a former Kryptonian soldier—complete with dog tags—who can nerve pinch most enemies into submission.
  • In the later few seasons of Stargate SG-1, Dr. Daniel Jackson falls into this trope. Keep in mind he was always The Smart Guy (well, he shared with Sam), but only later did he take a level and fit.
  • Star Trek:
    • Mr. Spock of Star Trek: The Original Series fame was a Crouching Scholar. As a half Vulcan, he was much stronger than his human peers, had combat training, could nerve pinch most enemies into submission, and aside from bantering with McCoy never lorded his abilities over anyone. This is made very apparent in Star Trek (2009), where when Kirk manages to break Spock's Berserk Button, he is thrashed from one end of the bridge to another and is very nearly choked to death (Kirk did this to make Spock realize he was not in the best state to command a ship. In the sequel, he proceeds to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and go toe-to-toe with One-Man Army Super-Soldier Khan Noonien Singh, who had previously massacred an entire platoon of Klingons single-handedly and was only mildly annoyed at Kirk's best attempt to beat him up. He even fully used the nerve pinch to make Khan suffer. The only reason Spock didn't kill him was because Khan's blood could revive Kirk.
    • Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation also fits the trope - he has the strength of ten men, nanosecond reflexes, perfect aim, and other superhuman body feats. And he is a science officer. Excels at it, having perfect memory, infallible logic and being faster at data processing than the ship's computer. He isn't defeated in hand-to-hand combat once. (For the record, he can use the nerve pinch too, as demonstrated in "Unification", pt. 2. He learned it from watching Spock use it. Once. Most non-Vulcans don't have the dexterity to pull it off at all, and even Vulcans have to be trained in it.)
    • Data's commanding officer Jean-Luc Picard has shown enough combat and survival ability that he could easily be a one-man commando unit. This is the man who prefers diplomacy and peace above all else, enjoys a glass of tea and some classical music while reading a 19th century novel, plays a flute and studies archaeology in his spare time, and is in his 60s. Oh, and a throwaway line in Q Who, combined with one of John de Lancie's later roles, establishes Picard as a scholar of early 21st century TV drama.
      • In fact, he does serve as a one-man commando unit in the episode "Starship Mine". The villains of the week try to take over the Enterprise during a maintenance stop when they expect the ship to be deserted. Picard, who is present only by accident, single handedly takes out the entire team. No one even seems all that surprised by his success. Oh, and he uses a Vulcan nerve pinch. (How he knew how to do it, we don't know, but Fanon has it that it's a holdover from his mind-meld with Sarek.)
      • While the episode "Tapestry" shows that Picard was quite a bit quicker to get into a fight as a newly-commissioned ensign, it also indicates that he was a science officer, rather than security as might be expected for someone who's already a skilled fighter at a young age.
    • This is a hat of the Federation really. Starfleet officers pride themselves for their non-combat skills, with engineers that can turn rocks into replicators and doctors who can synthesize a cure for a virus in a few minutes, but those specialists still have extremely powerful sidearms that can vaoprize a person and generally know how to throw a punch.
    • It's also a hat of their ships. The idea is to be Crazy-Prepared for whatever may be out there, and it's evident that it's necessary seeing how many episodes end with the crew surviving only by the skin of their teeth. The original Enterprise could devastate an entire planet, and each Enterprise is more weapon-laden than the last. This is even more true after DS9 's Dominion War, where every ship built during that time or after is either like the starships Enterprise (an exploration vessel or what-have-you that doubles as a superweapon) or like the Defiant and Prometheus (the Federation supposedly doesn't have warships so we'll call it something else, but its true purpose is to shove quantum torpedoes down the bad guys' throats with extreme prejudicenote ). Every ship that wasn't built that way is being brought up to that standard, as seen with the Lakota (one of a type of ship that really shouldn't be able to stand up to the Defiant, but was upgraded.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Every game with a level-based system gives the primarily trick or skill-based classes some combat prowess with level, just not as much as genuine combat-oriented classes. For instance, a Dungeons & Dragons wizard at high levels can still quite reliably land a hit with potential critical damage using a spear, which is quite devastating to the average mook, and has the defense to dodge many physical attacks even without magic.
  • Forgotten Realms: The Drow in Menzoberranzan. Particularly the wizards in that, in addition to ten years in Sorcere, they also spend six months in the school for fighters for martial training with all kinds of weapons. Likewise, the fighters go to Sorcere for six months of training there.
  • The Spycraft system has the "martial arts" feat, which allows a character to change the stat on which unarmed attacks are based, meaning that a weak character designed to have strong social skills can pull out a surprisingly damaging sucker-punch even if otherwise entirely devoted to talking their way out of things.

  • Of the Mata Nui Matoran in BIONICLE, stand-out examples include all of the Chronicler's Company, Nuparu, Matoro, and Hahli. While not fighters by nature like Jaller, Hewkii, or Onepu, they prove well able to take care of Rahi and other threats to their island—they have, after all, had a thousand years of practice. Matoro and Hahli continue this trope as Toa Inika/Mahri. Hahli ends up as one of the most dangerous Toa Mahri, given that she's a Toa of Water surrounded by water, and Matoro ends up almost destroying Teridax, the Big Bad (and would've ended the story right there, except for an inconvenient flame blast from Jaller).

    Video Games 
  • City of Heroes gives us the head of Arachnos, Lord Recluse, the game's Big Bad. He mostly stays in his tower, outlines plans and creates nigh-perfect tactics and Xanatos Speed Chess level counter-attacks for the forces of evil. If you actually manage to beat his four Co-Dragons, endanger a major operation or, heaven-help-you, actually bring the fight to him, he will leave said tower and proceed to beat the ever-loving-hell out of you himself, before going right back into his tower and calling one of his armies to come clean-up the mess.
    • Lord Recluse's attendants the Arachnos Arbiters take after their boss to a lesser degree. They are more or less law-enforcers for the City of Villains (because the few base-laws that do exist there are crucial to their society). To qualify as an Arbiter one must be a veteran soldier of Arachnos and submit to Arachnos brain-conditioning to be both a worthy enforcer and psychologically incapable of corruption. Almost none of the Arbiters ever need to resort to raising anything more heavy-duty than a pencil, which is because assaulting one prompts an army sized man-hunt. But when one is actually given kill orders you will see all those years as working up the military-chain put to terrifying effect.
  • Throughout The Elder Scrolls series, the Thieves' Guild enforces that murder (and combat in general) is a last resort only. However, members are still expected to be capable of defending themselves. Thus, Guild services often include training in Cloak and Dagger style combat skills, such as bladed weapons, light armor, and marksmanship.
  • In Final Fantasy V, Ghido the turtle sage mostly just provides exposition...but when the Big Bad attacks him, he fights him off with surprising ease. "You think I sat around seven centuries munching on pizza?"
  • Canas of Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword is an easily-missed, slightly klutzy and very calm shaman who spends his days studying and traveling to learn more about the dar- sorry, arcane arts. Recruit him and train him up, and he'll be able to take down the final boss in a turn or two on his own.
  • Half-Life and its sequel both have Gordon Freeman. A Smart Guy with a PhD, who is strong enough to bludgeon armored Combine soldiers to death with a crowbar.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Liara T'Soni claims to be a regular archaeologist, not even of the adventurer type... then, with some training, becomes the single most powerful biotic in the game. All while retaining her rather timid personality.
      • And in the sequel, she becomes a Knowledge Broker dedicated to getting revenge on the previous top player in that field, and has apparently done well enough by the time you meet her that she actually has said previous top player on the run. Also, she threatens to flay someone alive with her mind. Not exactly all that timid anymore.
      • Keep in mind, though, that since said archaeological ruins potentially hold amazing technology, they get 'visited' quite often by pirates and mercenaries. Add in that Liara's done nothing but study these ruins, by herself, for at least fifty years, and that adds up to a lot of practical combat experience.
    • The asari species as a whole. They are actually the galaxy's diplomats and mediators, and their military generally consists of semi-organized militia... but said militia are proficient in a vast array of killing and usually spend several centuries practicing their trade, and thus are the deadliest fighters in the galaxy.
    • Mordin Solus in the sequel. Originally a doctor helping out plague victims in a clinic, you're told that mercenaries who attempted to threaten him and his patients were soon killed and hung outside as a warning. In the words of the man himself; he helps people. There are many ways to help people - and sometimes the best way to help people is to kill other people.
      • While working in the salarian Special Tasks Group, Mordin once killed a krogan while armed only with a pitchfork.
  • Mei from Overwatch is a climatologist first and a fighter never. Every other character in the game's roster has at least some reason to pursue a combative approach to a problem, but Mei only had to build her Freeze Ray weapon out of necessity to survive her grim conditions down in Antarctica. She has no reason to use it in combat and freeze her enemies solid, yet she eagerly does so anyway.
  • Professor Layton usually doesn't need to fight, given that his adventures are predominately mysteries. But when he does have to fight, remember that he is an expert fencer with a broadsword or lead pipe.
  • Rabbi Russell Stone, the protagonist of The Shivah, manages to talk a knife-welding crook, send to kill him, into a fist-fight. The would-be assassin laughs at the challenge, thinking that the Rabbi is just a harmless, old Jew, until Stone's right fist hits his face, and the Rabbi reveals that he used to be in a boxing league before proceeding to completely beat up the crook. Even after taking bullets to both arms, he's able to put up enough of a fight against Amos Zelig to knock him unconscious.
  • The Keepers of the Thief series. Sure, they may be stealthy and unfathomable Badass Bookworms, but... why endanger themselves when they can beg Garrett to do their dirty work once in a while? At least they usually award him for the trouble he goes through.
  • Lara Croft from Tomb Raider is just searching for ancient artifacts, but if a T-rex, dark entity or Super-powered queen of an ancient civilization gets in her way, she will take it out.
  • Sans from Undertale is just a Lazy Bum who happens to be Right Hand Man to Asgore, but is the Final Boss of the Leave No Survivors path. the Big Bad Flowey who is the most powerful character in the game besides Sans, is scared of him and apparently Sans caused Flowey to hit the Reset Button multiple times. Also he is a genius who figured out that the world was stuck in a Groundbog Day Loop without having Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. Hidden Depths indeed.
  • Citan Uzuki of Xenogears is an eccentric Omnidisciplinary Scientist, the main healer for much of the game, very polite...and an almost game-breakingly powerful fighter with bare hands or a sword. He is also a secret agent. A viable combat strategy for some of the latter giant robot fights is to remove Citan from his robot and hit the giant enemy with his sword.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Arthur Watts is a thinker first and foremost, but in volume 7, he manages to hold his own against the series' resident Four-Star Badass James Ironwood.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Gil. He's more or less constantly underestimated by most of the cast, but trip his Berserk Button or threaten the woman he loves and you'll see another side of him.
    • Surprisingly, Tarvek. Even his own bodyguard's mouth was hanging open when it turned out he can match even with Gil, to the point that they both just collapsed in exhaustion (and illness) at the end of a brawl that was supposed to just be a staged one.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Raven. Most people know him as a strict old teacher with an off-putting (occasionally creepy) interest in certain students, particularly the main characters. It turns out that walking cane of his is actually a concealed sword. Also, he's an elvish mage.
      Raven: I can act directly if the situation involves magic or is an immediate threat to myself or others. You are a homicidal wizard invading a public school. No one will care if I kill you.
    • Also, Noah. Androgynous and slight, and speaks very precisely and without contractions. He wore Elliot out racing and playing basketball.
      Noah: I am good at controlling my temper now. But I was suspended on my first day of high school for beating up two seniors who were playing keep away with my backpack. I heard they are offensive linemen on a college football team now, whatever that means.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea is primarily an inventor and a schemer, but as Riboflavin painfully learned, given sufficient incentive she will prove that "There's a significant difference twixt my sister and I. I understand how my claws work."
  • Jane Doe from Nobody Scores! has actually attended "The Courtney Love School of Just Hauling Off on a Motherfucker."
  • Kevyn from Schlock Mercenary. A scientist and engineer who would really be happiest messing around with cutting edge technology. Happens to wear antimatter grenades as epaulets, one of which might as well be a nuke. Technically, they both may as well be nukes. The one he threw at the tank just used up most of its destructive power to get through the shield first.

    Web Original 
  • The title character in The Saga of Tuck is a math and Unix geek and D&D nerd who can jump more than three meters off an escalator and punch an abuser in the back of the head. Without thinking it over beforehand.
  • Most Garzoni in Twisted Cogs can fight very well, but it is only second to their true passions in art.
  • Headmistress Elizabeth Carson of Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. She was the head of the English department before she became the acting headmistress. It turns out there's a reason she's the headmistress of a school that has around 600 superpowered mutants: she's really Lady Astarte. She's the greatest superheroine of the 90's. And under a different codename she was also the greatest superheroine of the 80's... and the 70's... and the 60's... and the 50's... and... At Halloween, she flexes her muscles and takes on the most deadly killer in the Whateley Universe, and the army he brought with him, convincingly demonstrating why you don't mess with her.
  • DanTDM is one in Wonder Quest, where he makes uses of his knowledge of meteorology and uses it to help him and his friends escape from prison. He also knocks out a guard with one punch during the escape, to which Stampy mentions to Keen to "never get on [Dan's] bad side".

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Walter "Doc" Hartford is usually the Plucky Comic Relief, Gentleman Snarker, or Deadpan Snarker compared to his more frighteningly-enhanced teammates. His Technopath Series 5 ability is utterly useless in combat. However, "Heart of Tarkon" revealed that he learned acrobatics and fencing from "Miss Abercrombie's Charm School". Considering he has used the stuff he learned in "charm school" to break out of a dungeon, hand an Evil Chancellor his ass, take down one of the most frightening villains on the show single-handedly and impress the local princess? Yeah, Doc. That's some "charm school".
  • Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most skilled fire benders alive but usually restricts himself to drinking tea unless fighting is really necessary.
    • According to Zuko, he may be able to beat the Big Bad Fire Lord Ozai (although Iroh said he doesn't know if he can).
    • Sokka is well on his way to being the same, except replace "tea and pai sho" with "corny jokes and science".
  • Generator Rex: For much of the show, White Knight is seen as the head of Providence, and the one human not contaminated with nanites. Then the events of "plague" puts most of the country to sleep, and White is forced out of his bubble to help Rex, and the viewer learns that White can kick ass with the best of them.
  • Jackie from Jackie Chan Adventures is an archeologist, and when he's not fighting the Dark Hand, he seems like he couldn't hurt a fly. Of course, since he is Jackie Chan, the viewer can tell he's a strong fighter just from the name.
  • In Liberty's Kids, Thomas Paine has a brief badass moment in "American Crisis". Say you're a brilliant propaganda writer in The American Revolution, you're wandering the streets of Philadelphia at night looking for a printer, and some British loyalists threaten you and your young friends with bodily harm. What do you do? Pick up the nearest log and charge.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "By Word of Mouse" the professor mouse is able to fend off Sylvester.
  • From Metalocalypse, Charles Offdensen mostly functions as Dethklok's manager/CFO/lawyer/Parental Substitute/god knows how many other administrative tasks for the band; usually handling their legal and financial matters and acting as the voice of reason, but as the series progresses we see that he's a skilled military commander, fencer, and has gone toe-toe with an expert assassin twice his size and has won 2-3.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight Sparkle is a student and a librarian a socially awkward dork, and a immensely powerful mage.
    • Rarity is also an example. Unlike Applejack (rough and tumble cowgirl known for her athleticism) or Rainbow Dash (a Boisterous Bruiser who's always the first into a fight) Rarity is a fashion designer, who hates getting dirty or sweaty. She's still proved herself to be one of the most effective fighters in the cast on several occasions, and is certainly not afraid to defend herself should she or her friends be threatened. She's the only one we've seen get into an actual fighting stance when it's time for hooficuffs. She thought nothing of attacking a manticore many times her size in the two-part premiere.
    • The Mane Six as a whole. Universe wise, they are all ordinary ponies who do not engage in heroics on daily basis, since they're busy with their definitely non-heroic, down-to-earth jobs (Applejack is just a farmer, Pinkie Pie — a baker, Rarity — a businessmare and fashion designer, et cetera). Nevertheless, they are more than ready to get into action the moment their friends, families or entire Equestria are in danger and more than capable of ass-kicking any villain that stands in their way. They don't even get much recognition for their world-saving deeds. Nor they want to — they do what they do just because it's the right thing to do.
  • Ferb of Phineas and Ferb is usually a quiet Gadgeteer Genius, but took down bully Buford in one Vulcan-inspired move after he "got all in [his] face". Likewise, while "Vanessasary Roughness" showcases Vanessa as an Action Girl, he has more than his share of cool moves as well.
  • Master Splinter in many incarnations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He usually leaves the fighting to his sons, because of his age and that his sons need to fight their own battles. When pressed, however, he demonstrates just exactly who taught the turtles to be tough ninja warriors in the first place.
  • Transformers:
    • Rhinox in Beast Wars is head technician and pilot of the Maximals. When brainwashed into being evil, he took over the Predacon army. By himself.
    • Optimus Primal is a space explorer. Doesn't stop him from kicking ass.
    • In Transformers: Prime we find that Optimus Prime was basically a librarian before gaining the Matrix of Leadership. Other series have him as a dock worker, a space bridge repairman, or anything but a master warrior before gaining his current station. Decepticons majored in asskicking and Prime still kicks their afts left, right, and center.
      • Let us not forget Soundwave, who got into exactly 5 fights in the show and won 3 of them. The two he lost: shot out the air by an upgraded Optimus Prime (though this may have been part of a Batman Gambit for him given what happens later); and trapped in the Shadowzone (which he had no experience with and no way to combat) by Jack, Miko, and Raf. The three he won: handing Airachnid her skidplate so hard she never seemed truly intimidating ever again; incapacitating Wheeljack in a struggle for the Resonance Blaster; and knocking out Bulkhead, Smokescreen, and Fowler before kidnapping Ratchet, all without breaking a sweat. Background materials explain that before he became the chief spymaster and communications officer of the Decepticons, he was a gladiator and nearly defeated Megatron in the arena before he was recruited to the cause. The fights he gets into are effectively him "coming out of retirement," so to speak.
      • Soundwave reappeared in season 2 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise as a Villain of the Week who was also The Dreaded. Compared to the usual stuff the show throws at us, his introduction was downright terrifying! (He comes out of a special portal to the Shadowzone, knocks out Bumblebee, Strongarm, and Grimlock in 30 seconds, tosses Bumblebee through the portal, and would have done the same to the others if it hadn't timed out. Then he chases Fixit, Denny, and Russel with his Combat Tentacles. The techno-sounding music didn't help matters any.
  • Hank McCoy, AKA Beast of the X-Men has always been a capable fighter belying a brilliant mind, regardless of the media portraying him. Yet his incarnation in Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) states early on that he's "a pacifist by nature." Push comes to shove, however, he'll knock you down.

Alternative Title(s): Crouching Scholar Hidden Badass