Follow TV Tropes


Mugging the Monster

Go To
"That's not a knife... that's a knife."

"They had the heavy, stolid look of those thugs whose appearance in any narrative means that it's time for the hero to be menaced a bit, although not too much, because it's also obvious that they're going to be horribly surprised."

So, Fingers McStealy is lurking in an alleyway waiting for a victim. Ah, here comes someone, and that fetching hat and coat look expensive. He's smiling too, so maybe he just came into money? Ooo, he even has something shiny under his coat. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Basically this is when some random crook (and often a pretty stupid one at that) has the misfortune of targeting someone or something that's a lot Stronger Than They Look. When the Super Hero/monster/alien assassin/robot/Sorcerous Overlord from the future/other world/space appears, the criminal acts as a disposable victim they can demonstrate their powers on for the benefit of the audience. Alternatively, The Hero is held up while going about their business. If they have a Secret Identity, then it can lead to a Bruce Wayne Held Hostage scenario, but if the criminal attacked them in costume or the hero is just some badass Walking the Earth, then it typically just serves as an introduction. Bonus points if the would-be victim looks particularly vulnerable.

When an assailant targets a crowd of people not knowing that Everyone Is Armed, you get this trope with strength of numbers replacing individual dangerousness.

Tends to make a good Establishing Character Moment, depending on how (and how easily) the crooks are dealt with. It can be particularly useful for more heroic or sympathetic characters, as it enables them to demonstrate how effective they are in a fight without being the ones to start it, as well as criminals and bullies being easily and quickly established targets. Occasionally this can lead to them recruiting a sidekick or other allies. Can be deeply satisfying. When the person looks vulnerable due to chronological endowment, it's likely a mighty old person.

When a Video Game character does this without the game acknowledging how hopelessly outmatched they are, it's often due to Suicidal Overconfidence. See also Dude, Where's My Respect? when this keeps happening with no signs of anyone figuring out the pattern. Compare Colliding Criminal Conspiracies and Unintentionally Notorious Crime. Supertrope of Robbing the Mob Bank.

Please note: the trope need not include actual mugging (though it is a popular method). As long as the provocateurs intentionally and excessively antagonize someone much more powerful than they are without knowing beforehand what they are screwing with, and get fixed accordingly, then it fits.


  • Assassin Outclassin': When it's a Professional Killer who gets owned by their intended target.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Messing with a powerful entity that you know can destroy you.
    • A Mugging The Monster situation can evolve into this if the attacker is not instantly demolished, yet doesn't have the sense to back down and retreat after finding out what they're up against should the opportunity present itself.
    • Mugging The Monster and Bullying a Dragon can exist simultaneously if the obviously dangerous-looking individual is hiding something that makes them even more dangerous.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Showing defiance to something you know is about to kill you.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: If they immediately stomp you into a pancake.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: The target does not want to fight, even though they know they will win. They try to get the foolish attacker to back down peacefully.
  • Fearless Fool: The character routinely gets into these situations because he's just too dumb to know better.
  • Mook Horror Show: The bad guys are on the receiving end of a heroic character in a horrifying way, an inversion of a Slasher Movie.
  • Paper Tiger: An inversion. However, even the Paper Tiger can be dangerous if pushed hard enough.
  • Shooting Superman: Attacking a target who can just shrug it off.
  • Underestimating Badassery: This situation depends on the attacker underestimating someone's ability to defend themself.
  • Very Punchable Man: Pretty much the whole crux of this trope, as it's about some unimportant, unappealing character getting their ass handed to them in a very satisfying way.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • One of those bewilderingly insane Arinamin V commercials starring Arnold Schwarzenegger has two punks come up to Arnold — who is cleverly disguised as a nerd — and start harassing him and his lady friend. Arnold nips off to chug a bottle of Arinamin, and one "Daijo BUI!!" later, well, just look. Could even count as Bullying a Dragon, since according to the simple formula provided here, Arnold Schwarzenegger + Nerd Glasses = still Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • A Ford Icon commercial has a guy in a bear mascot costume standing outside of an air conditioner store when four punks walk up and start harassing him, like kicking him in the butt or generally mocking him. He then puts one of his paws on the "leader" of the group, and another of them slaps the head of the costume off... revealing a real bear. They quickly lose any sense of mirth at this revelation, and three of the four run in terror, leaving the "leader" staring down the bear. Has to be seen to be believed.
  • This Anti-Road Rage PSA. A man in a pickup truck gets cut off by an SUV. He promptly chases it down, blocks it, and starts menacing the driver. The driver gets out... and is revealed to be Heavyweight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield. Don't give in to Road Rage, kids. You might end up on the wrong side of a boxing legend.
  • Messin' with Sasquatch: Many commercials have humans pretending to offer Sasquatch something, only to yank it away for fun. Cue him pulverising them.
  • One Sci-Fi Channel commercial has a man collecting signatures to protest against the Sci-Fi Channel airing Star Trek shows. One old woman whose door he knocks on offers to get her son - "He's in the basement." Cue a massive man dressed as a Klingon coming upstairs and knocking the protester out with one punch.

    Audio Plays 

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Tormented Pariah shows a group of village hooligans tormenting a helpless victim. When the card is flipped, the art shows the moon rising and the victim turning into a snarling werewolf.
      Hey lads, the moon's rising. All the better to watch him beg for mercy. Just look at him, groveling on all fours! What a pathetic — uh-oh.
    • "The Witch of the Woods" opens with a Falkenrath vampire, a member of a bloodline who embraces savagery and can take on monstrous forms, leading an angry village mob on a chase after having killed their village elder. As night falls, he stops to let them catch up and, as he shifts into his bestial shape, gloats about how this has been fun, but they were never a threat to him and they should have heeded the old warnings about not hunting at night. The hunters just laugh and, as the full moon rises and they start growing fangs and fur, remark that those warnings only apply to humans. The vampire is only left with a short while to contemplate the complexities of supernatural food chains before the werewolf pack tears him to pieces.

  • In one of his stand-up shows, Dara Ó Briain recounts a story told to him by a member of the audience once when he asked whether anyone had ever managed to foil a crime. In this story, two men had attempted to steal the audience member's car and attempted to lock themselves in it when cornered — upon which the audience member punched in the car window, dragged one of the thieves out, forced him into the house, tied him to a chair, and threatened him with a carving knife. The other car thief was subsequently forced to summon the police in order to rescue his friend. Needless to say, Dara was a little taken aback by the story.
  • Sebastian Maniscalco once gave a hypothetical situation about the "poor bastard" who breaks into one of his friend's house, unaware that the owner is not only ex-military, but keeps a compound bow for such situations.
  • In his "Road Rage" TV Special, Ben Bailey relates an incident that took place during Cash Cab. In a traffic jam, an electrician stuck behind his cab tried to have an altercation with him, and clearly did not expect the big, intimidating, pissed-off Ben Bailey to step out to meet him. And then have the production crew — 8 big guys, one of whom was a NYC police detective — step out of their vehicle nearby to back him up.
  • Richard Pryor once talked about an incident where he was the mugger. In his younger years, while he was MC'ing at a strip club owned by The Mafia, he found one of the dancers crying. She told him the club owners weren't going to pay her. He decided to help her by scaring the owners, but unfortunately for him, didn't understand what the Mafia even was. ("My father was the baddest motherfucker I'd ever seen!") When he burst into their office waving a cap pistol and demanding the money, they all laughed themselves silly, not even realizing he was serious.
  • Redd Foxx once told a joke about getting mugged by a guy who threatened him by claiming to know Karate:
    Mugger: "This here's a stickup! I got a black belt!"
    Foxx: *pulls a gun* "Well, they gonna need it to lower your ass in the ground!"

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: In this strip, two bullies decide to beat Dilbert up for wearing glasses with a camera. Little do they know, he's made a few "modifications".
  • Of all character combinations, this happens in the Doctor Who Magazine Twelfth Doctor comic strips when the Delgado Master goes up against Twelve. He's clearly unprepared to come up against a later Doctor who is much more battlescarred, much more ruthless, and much less tolerant of his usual schtick of trying to gain godlike power, killing people for lulz, and using silly foreign-language aliases.
  • The Far Side:
  • Garfield:
  • Jump Start: Jojo intended to use a small, nerdy-looking kid as a living practice dummy for a martial arts demo during a summer camp talent show. Said kid turned out to be a viral sensation as a wrestling prodigy.
    Benny: Tap out, Jojo! Tap out!
  • In one Knights of the Dinner Table story, Bob takes the Untouchable Trio's tendency to mistreat hirelings to a new low, declaring his intent to slap them around until they are psychologically broken and desperate for their master's approval. B.A. sets him up with an NPC hireling named "Skinny Stiltskin". When Bob pushes Skinny to the point of fighting back, B.A. describes him as a hulking brute who easily beats the tar out of Bob's character. When Bob protests, B.A. points out that Bob never asked for a description but merely assumed that Skinny's physique fit his name — in fact, he was exactly the opposite, like Little John from the Robin Hood stories. This case is thus an example of Mugging the Monster for Bob, but would be Bullying a Dragon in-universe for Bob's character.
  • Scary Gary has an almost literal example, when a robber attempts to steal money from the convenience store Gary was working at. Gary politely explains to him why that would be a bad idea.
    Gary: Sir, I'm a vampire. If you rob me, I'll just laugh maniacally, drain all the blood from your body and then feed you to my flesh-hungry henchman.
  • In U.S. Acres, you wouldn't think Sheldon, an egg that refused to hatch, would be dangerous. But...

    Films — Animation 
  • Early in Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature, a motorcycle gang chases down what they take to be a woman in a trench coat. She packs quite a scratch, leaving all but Ryo wounded with no wounds herself. It's later revealed that this woman was the titular Bagi and that she was a cat previously owned by Ryo, explains why she didn't attack him.
  • Batman and Harley Quinn: Harley has been keeping a low profile by working at "Superbabes", a diner with waitresses dressed in sexed-up versions of superheroine/villainess costumes, wearing a skimpy version of her own outfit. A customer decides to cop a feel, and finds out the hard way that she's the real Harley Quinn.
  • In A Bug's Life, near the end, Hopper attempts to antagonize a bird that he believed to be "another one of Flik's bird tricks". He realized his mistake when he discovers the bird is actually real.
  • Superman/Batman: Apocalypse features a naked Kara Zor-El wandering confused into an alley just after arriving on Earth and being spotted by three workers. One decides to play Lothario and gets his ass kicked. The second tries to help his friend. The third wisely proclaims he's not with the other two and offers her his coat.
  • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo has Robin on the run from the police who wrongfully accused him. He hides in an alleyway and notes that he needs a disguise to escape. Suddenly a thief appears, pulls out a gun, and says "Give me your money." We don't get to see the fight, but we do see a tied-up thief in his boxers, and Robin wearing his clothes (and shades).

  • In Appointment with F.E.A.R., the main character (who is a superhero) is approached by criminals who want to mug him/her. If you fight them, you out yourself and have to give up your career as a superhero, which leads to a bad ending (albeit one that's quite a bit less dark than the other bad endings); only by letting them mug you can you continue playing.
  • In the Lone Wolf series, when in "civilized" parts of the world rather than evil fortresses or the wilderness, various rogues (robbers, thieves, bandits, pirates, backstabbers, grave diggers, pickpockets, brigands...) trying to mug the hero is a common type of fight encounter. More often than not, it's the hero who ends up richer and the cutthroats dead. Later in the series, the book may not even involve the player in such encounters. You get an off-hand paragraph that you're set upon by bandits, demanding gold but instead "receiving a harsh lesson in the powers of a Kai Master".

  • It happens so often in Iron Ladies, it's practically become a Running Gag. It usually goes about this way: Some snobbish Upper-Class Twit sees our protagonist and decides because he looks poor, it would be an easy target to bully, kill and rape his companions. Our protagonist usually asks calmly if they're going to commit a blatant crime in broad daylight, twit answers "Hell yeah!" and sicks his goons on him. Our hero proceeds to show why he's the World's Strongest Man, with thousands of loyal followers that will gladly tear the mooks and twit to pieces. Other antagonists instead love Bullying the Dragon, brimming with Suicidal Overconfidence, and they all fare as well as the mooks.

  • In Chapter 7 of The Demon King Who Lost His Job, a pair of bandits who turn out to be disguised goblins decide to go after Merlin Lucifer, who to them is merely a diner-and-dasher. He is actually the former demon king who quickly decapitates the senior and sends his lackey running.

  • The premise of the song "Earth's Fire Breathing Daughter" by Leslie Fish. The titular sort-of-demigoddess entity buys a house in California with her coven and start enacting pagan rites. Neighbors complain and send the police after them on false drug charges. She triggers an earthquake and mudslide that kills the entire police force and destroys all the surrounding houses, while of course leaving hers entirely intact. (They deserve it.)
  • Joe Bethancourt's "I'll See Your Six" recounts just such a situation. In this case, the "monster" was a young lady who's not only carrying a broadsword, but knew how to use it, and was wearing chain armor. (See Real Life section for details - yes, it happened.)
  • Mercedes Lackey wrote a song called "Threes" about the trope, then reworked it and used it in the novel "Oathbound".
  • In the Big L song "Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous", he boasts that "once a burglar broke into my house, and I robbed him!".
  • Jim Croce's "Leroy Brown" and "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" had the titular tough guys taken down by tougher guys than them.
    • Leroy was so badass he could have any woman he wanted, and their boyfriends were too scared of Leroy to stop him; until he kissed a girl named Doris and her husband beat Leroy to a pulp.
    • Jim was a pool hustler who also intimidated everyone by being very large. When he hustles a country boy nicknamed "Slim", Slim tracks down Jim, and the song becomes "You Don't Mess Around with Slim".
  • In Voltaire's "Mechanical Girl", a tinker builds the titular mechanical girl in memory of his deceased daughter. When he presents his masterpiece to the king, the king has the tinker thrown into the castle moat and takes the mechanical girl to be his queen. All goes well until he kisses her on the cheek that night... whereupon the mechanical girl transforms into a Humongous Mecha with a Hyperspace Arsenal, obliterates the kingdom, and goes back to live happily ever after with her father.
  • In the early Insane Clown Posse (when they were still called "Inner City Posse") song "Gangsta Codes", Violent J, almost immediately after obtaining a pistol, goes to rob a cafe, only to find out that the owners are packing AK-47s and shotguns. He runs immediately.

    Music Videos 

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism: This happened to Odysseus a few times in The Odyssey.
  • Theseus basically started his heroic career by dealing with a series of robbers on his way to Athens.
  • Contrast with Oedipus, who was much the same, only it was people who cut him off in traffic instead of robbers.
  • In Roman mythology, the son of the Etruscan king of Rome took it into his head to rape a respectable Roman woman. Rome soon became a republic.
  • Greek Mythology:
    • Hm, who is this impossibly beautiful woman surrounded by several almost as beautiful women, in the middle of the forest, bathing? Oh who cares, let's peep on them some more. It's not like they're an impossibly powerful goddess and her followers who could turn me into a stag and set my own hounds on me because she's incredibly protective of her chastity...
    • Dionysus was seized by pirates, who took him for a young nobleman and planned to either ransom him or sell him as a slave. However, one of the crewmen recognized him as a god and begged his companions to set him free. Unfortunately for them, they refused to listen and soon found their oars bound by ivy and themselves attacked by panthers and lions. To save themselves, they jumped out of the ship and were changed into dolphins. The only one spared was Acoetes, the one man who argued for freeing Dionysus. When they got back to shore, Acoetes become one of Dionysus' priests.
    • The unkillable bronze giant Talos had the habit of throwing rocks at all ships coming close to Crete, as he couldn't tell seafarers from invaders. Then one day he started his act with the Argos... And the witch Medea, that was on board with her husband Jason and his Argonauts, killed him with a look (either by hypnotizing him so he'd pull the pin keeping his Ichor in or causing him so much pain he pulled the pin and killed himself rather than getting looked at anymore).
  • Geirrod, a Norse robber-king, nearly rode down a lone wanderer on the road to his castle. When the same wanderer came to the castle asking for food and drink, Geirrod allowed him entry as per custom, but demanded he sing for his supper; displeased by the traveler's song lambasting cruel leaders and thieves, he ordered the man burned to death. Unfortunately for Geirrod, Odin the All-Father is fireproof, and very unforgiving of false hospitality: he turned the bandit-king and his vassals into wild beasts, and raised Geirrod's good-hearted brother to the throne.

  • In Darwin's Soldiers, some punks tried to pick a fight with Aimee. She looks completely harmless, as she is missing both arms and has them replaced with prosthetic limbs. They found out the hard way (IE death) that not only is she a skilled fighter, her artificial arms give her enough strength to crush the barrel of a pistol with almost no effort.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: Most people with the Gift of magic innately inspire distrust and dislike, doubly so with the Blatant Gift flaw. Coupled with the secretive nature of Magical Society, this means that even an Archmage who visits a mundane town needs to make special arrangements not to be treated like garbage or barred outright.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Metallic dragons intentionally invoke this trope. One of their favorite tricks in combating evil is to use their Shapeshifting ability (many metallics have this upon birth) to turn into something that seems weak. When some evil idiot takes the bait, they don't have very long to live. It's actually a part of their mythology: one story involves an apparently harmless old man who would entertain travelers with his seven trained canaries. Then a band of ogres, led by an ogre mage, started down the road to kill or rob all the folks on it... and found that the old man was the metallic dragon god Bahamut, and those canaries were all great wyrm gold dragons in disguise.
    • Al-Qadim has a tale about "why dragons so rarely appear over the place". A big red from the North flew in, only to immediately get himself into troubles with the local populace. Eventually, he was reduced to telling his woes to the next creature he met. The "child" heard the story, gently told the dragon those people did in fact go easy on him because he doesn't know better and there's folk whom they obey without question — and helped the poor battered, hungry, and tired lizard, returning him to his sweet home. On an intercontinental guided whirlwind. The moral, of course, is "try not to annoy genies or, just in case, anyone."
    • Forgotten Realms: On top of "usual" dangers (such as archmages going about their private business in magical disguise or creatures that would send townpeople into a screaming run if they didn't resort to mimicry), there are many people who are well aware of their world's trends and hold a lot of power while not caring at all to advertise it.
      If you accost a barefoot laborer digging in the mud of a turnip field and stained glass golems suddenly lurch out of nearby sheds or the columns of a barn come to life, and gemstones float out of the man's pockets to circle his head and spit lightning at you — well, you've found one of those fabled jewelers of Irl...
    • There's also a possibility of Urban Encounters with Muggers all being multiple levels below the party.
  • Exalted:
    • Unfortunately for the various monsters, hostile beings, and generally unsavory types across Creation, conditions and circumstances can result in this being an easy mistake to make. There are charms that allow the titular Exalts to disguise themselves in impossible ways and others which let them keep their weapons and armor hidden in Elsewhere, ready to be used at a moment's notice with only a minor expenditure of essence. As a result, attackers might not discover that the short, cute, small-framed teenaged girl they are trying to mug/capture to sell as a slave/etc., is actually a someone who can beat up gods, wields a ginormous golden sword, and is perfectly capable of reducing them to paste — or, if they're an Infernal and/or feeling like indulging in a little overkill, a smoking crater in the ground — until it's too late. If said muggers are lucky and possessed of a moderate amount of sense, the Exalt will just flare their Caste Mark or Anima Banner and scare them off. Jury is still out as to whether or not it's more satisfying than simply beating the stuffing out of them. Or flashing your caste mark and kill them while they are too busy soiling themselves...
    • This happens in a pre-chapter comic in one of the sourcebooks; a sea god and his giant talking dog/fish steed come across a shipwreck survivor and discuss whether or not to keep him as a Sex Slave, only for it to turn out the survivor was Cathak Drogath, a Dragon-Blooded. The last panel shows the fishdog with a new black eye and issuing the latest of several apologies, with the Drogath standing on his back and the sea god nowhere in sight.
  • GURPS: The 4th edition of GURPS Magic introduces the chapter on fire magic with a story about a wizard in a modern setting having a knife put on her throat in a mugging. Unfortunately for the mugger, she can breathe fire.
  • In Nomine: An angel or demon's abilities remain the same regardless of what their earthly Vessel happens to look like — which means that 9-year-old girl on the playground you just tried to abduct could actually be a 700-year-old Malakite warrior angel who considers you practice. At best. This becomes even more so with Kyriotates and Shedim, who possess ordinary mortals, using their celestial abilities through a host. So that 90-year-old grandpa who really was so sweet and helpless five minutes ago is now anything but when a Shedite of Death is in the driver's seat...
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, most Garou look like normal human beings while in homid form and normal wolves in lupus form; however, an attacker will get a nasty surprise when their would-be victim transforms into an eight-foot-tall clawed killing machine. Variants of this apply to all fera save perhaps the Kitsune (werefoxes), who find it more effective to just start tossing spells.
    • In Spiritual Successor Werewolf: The Forsaken, this is significantly more inevitable due to shifting being significantly less voluntary. After a drop or two on the morality meter, a simple insult can be enough to turn a player character into a spree-murdering rage beast without the player having any control over the scene.
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade, it's very satisfying to, after your Ventrue businessman has been stopped in transit by robbers with shotguns, take their blast in the chest, get up without any visible effect, and rip them into shreds. This is noted to be one of the main reasons why Ventrue take Fortitude.note 
    • This is bound to happen in the New World of Darkness games: it's a Crapsack World with half a dozen flavours of human-looking supernatural. Special mention goes to the Prometheans: soulless reanimated corpses, trying to learn how to be human, but who are inhumanly powerful and spread a Hate Plague against themselves wherever they go. Most of their alchemical Refinements require prolonged study; the inevitable Dragon-bullying they face is why any Promethean can instantly adopt the Refinement of Tin and say to hell with you all.
  • Shadowrun:
    • Considering how ultra-antagonistic gangs are in-universe, random encounters for new players is pretty much all about this. The Halloweeners are this trope invoked for even the squishiest of mage or decker.
    • Subverted in Kaloon's Walled City. The place is so vicious that literal monsters like Insect Spirits actually do get successfully mugged if they make the mistake of going there.
  • In any of the Star Wars RPGs, a Jedi can look like anything. Keep that in mind when the off-world stranger you're harassing in a bar says, "You really don't want to do this." It only gets more fun if the hapless dopes tick off a disguised Sith instead.
  • In Traveller, Vargr hardly ever raid Zhodani. The reason why is that when they do, they know that the Zhodani will take years tracking down the perps. Then when they do this, their retribution will be sure, whether it takes the form of Death from Above or the more frightening form of kidnapping Vargr and brainwashing them.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In the RPG Dark Heresy, this is actually the PCs' job. And it has the expected results until you figure out that flipping off a Daemon is a Bad Plan and maybe you should try shooting the guy that just summoned it in the head. From over there. Waaay over there.
    • A more human example, the fluff sometimes makes notes of many former Imperial Guardsmen settling down on planets they conquered. This led to some robbers finding out the hard way that a bar called The 127th is named after a certain platoon, that the grumpy old men are veterans of battles against unimaginable horrors, and that the lasgun above the bar is not a replica.
    • The Tau Empire saw these Imperial worlds right next to their territory, annexed them without much difficulty and figured that the Imperium must be comparable to their own domain in scope and size. That is, until they got hit with the Damocles Gulf Crusade, realized that the Imperium of Man is several orders of magnitude larger and more powerful and the Crusade was but a mere fraction of their strength, and that the only reason the Tau is still alive is because The Imperium is too busy fighting wars with everyone else in the galaxy. The arrival of Hive Fleet Behemoth forced the Imperium into a peace treaty with the Tau and letting them go as buffer states, but ever since that the Tau must tread lightly lest the Imperium sends a larger Crusade that might actually wipe them.

  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, the sailor Richard Dauntless introduces himself with a song about how his own ship (a revenue sloop) attacks what they think is a French merchantman, but turns out to be a frigate (i.e., a warship far better armed than a sloop) with some accurate gunners on board. In charming rhyme, he explains how their captain decides to spare the poor Frenchies by running away very, very fast.

    Urban Legends 
  • Speaking of pirates, as late as 1630, there were two recorded villages in England that had the skin of a captured raider nailed to their church door. At least one of those villages wouldn't actually count as this trope, since a few years ago someone decided to run some tests on a fragment that had survived around one of the nail and found that it was actually de-haired calf skin. It was probably nailed to the door and the rumour spread around as a form of psychological warfare against potential raiders.
  • There is also a famous story under Aikikai (practitioners of Aikido) that one of Osensei's original students was nearly robbed in the Paris subway... emphasis on the "nearly." Imagine a seventy-something year old Japanese man sitting alone in the subway, when three would-be muggers showed up with knives, demanding his money. Then imagine the old frail man simply snapping their wrists in precise, efficent motions.
  • The U.S. military holds very large areas of desert in the southwest that are used for training exercises. The areas are bigger than they really need, so some parts are used rarely. Meth labs sometimes move in and fight small-scale gang wars... until they accidentally fire on real soldiers, and then they learn about things like indirect mortar fire and air support.
  • One story that's made the rounds on the internet is as follows; a group of Ku Klux Klansmen in Texas heard that some Pagans were holding a ritual out in the woods somewhere and decided to go and harass them. Finding the spot where the other vehicles were parked, they donned their hoods, assembled a cross, and strode off into the woods, confident that they'd scare any remaining pants off the fluffybunny Pagans. To their surprise, they ended up staring down the business end of at least two spears, a couple of swords, assorted knives, and more than one firearm. They'd crashed an Asatru note  blot, and didn't realize that not all Pagans are pacifists. From somewhere behind the hardware, a voice called out: "If that cross goes up, you're getting nailed to it. I've got my hammer note  right here..."
    The Klansmen left in a bit of a hurry, it's said.
    • The Ku Klux Klan ended up at the receiving end of something much more unexpected in 1933, when they tried to run Italian immigrants out of from Vineland (New Jersey). Until then, Italian immigrants in the US had taken discrimination and lynching with little resistance, because they were outnumbered by a too much large margin. This time, however, the Klan took on 20% of Vineland's population, and the Italians ran the Klan out. The Klan's influence in Vineland disappeared overnight.
    • When the Klan went to Robeson County, NC, and tried conclusion with the Lumbee Indians' tribal lacrosse team, something similar happened. In most of the languages of the Eastern Woodlands tribes, the word for lacrosse translates as "younger brother of war".
  • There is a story popular in the SCA about a female member who was walking home from an event in Central Park in the 1980s. She hadn't taken off her armor, just wrapped a cloak around herself and put her helmet in her bag. She was accosted by a disreputable sort wielding a switchblade and making threats. She said "A six-inch knife?", opened her cloak, and drew her sword. "I'll see your six and raise you thirty-five."
    • Another SCA story; A group wanted to hold fight practice with functional replica weaponry. This required a few permits and a change of venue from their regular park. There was one available, but the police warned them that the local motorcycle gang considered it their turf and may not take too kindly to strangers. Seeing no other options, the SCA risked it. Sure enough, the motorcycle club showed up and started hassling the re-creationists. Seems that the battle pikes and other implements that were useful for removing mounted knights from their horses worked just as well for taking riders off their hogs.
  • An obsessive stalker (the genders change with every telling) sets their sights on a target they're supposedly in love with. They ignore every warning they receive, work tirelessly around every obstacle, be it well-meaning friend or family member, police officer trying to do their job, even rumors about the object of their affection. All the while the stalker dreams of taking them and torturing them — all out of love, of course. Then, after overcoming everything in their way, the stalker finally has the one they desire most alone and in front of them. Then, something goes wrong. Instead of being afraid, the victim is smiling. As it turns out, they're an even worse monster than the stalker and by getting them alone, the stalker has ensured that no one will be able to hear them scream. The stalker is never seen again.
  • An often-repeated and likely-apocryphal tale from the Vietnam War involves a US Navy frigate, usually said to be the USS Barbey or USS Bronsten (the former is unlikely, as it wasn't commissioned until 1972), patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin off the North Vietnamese coast during the war. NVA shore batteries and patrol boats sometimes attacked US ships near the coast, which invariably resulted in a curb-stomp battle at sea but still posed a threat to unwary US warships, so the frigate was on high alert. At some point during the night, the frigate's surface-search radar picks up a large contact closing in on them. Lookouts soon confirm a silhouette in the darkness. The frigate has been ordered to operate under radio silence, so a signal light is used to hail the unidentified ship with Morse Code: "UNIDENTIFIED VESSEL, THIS IS USS BARBEY. IDENTIFY YOURSELF." There is no response. The frigate repeats her message, again no response. Finally, the frigate signals a warning: "UNIDENTIFIED VESSEL, THIS IS USS BARBEY. IDENTIFY YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY OR WE WILL OPEN FIRE." By now, the "scope-dopes" can tell that the radar signature is REALLY big, and the lookouts are saying the same thing. After a pregnant pause, the other ship finally replies: "USS BARBEY, THIS IS USS NEW JERSEY. YOU MAY FIRE WHEN READY."
  • There are innumerable versions of this, usually jokes on neighboring countries. The most popular tends to be a battleship or carrier from a country of the teller's choice vs. a mysterious intruder off the teller's own coast. The carrier declares its credentials, lists its wide variety of fire- and airpower, and demands the intruder move aside before it is run down. The response: "This is a lighthouse. Your move." So many versions of this were told about the US Navy that the Navy's website used to have a page debunking it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ikemen Sengoku: This turns out to be an important part of Hideyoshi's backstory; when he was living as a vagabond and desperate for money, he attempted to rob a rich young man passing by. Said man happened to be Nobunaga Oda, who promptly kicked his ass and gave him a lecture on wasting his life instead of trying to better himself that inspired Hideyoshi to turn his life around and work his way up to become Nobunaga's right-hand man.
  • In Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! S, a poor robber tries to hold up a restaurant. Who's currently in the restaurant? Among others, Momoyo, Tsubame, Yoshitsune, Benkei, Shakaido, Tesshin, Lu, Hume & Claudio. Basically, all the absolutely strongest fighters in the game. Oh, and the girl he took hostage, Seiso, just sent him flying out the door with a light shove too. Poor bastard then gets run over by her robot bike.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Maruhashi picks a fight with the protagonist Akira at the start of the game, bolstered by his connection to the Amanome family. He's unaware that a) Akira has years of experience as an underground street fighter, and b) Akira is best friends with Seiji Amanome, aka Maruhashi's superior. He quickly goes down, and later on, apologizes profusely to Akira for his mistake.
  • Tsukihime: Nvrnsqr Chaos believes Shiki Tohno to be an ordinary high school age boy with a knife, and torments him a bit, finding pleasure in the kid pathetically struggling against the inevitable before he eats him. What Nvrnsqr doesn't know is that Shiki is probably the only person on the planet who can bypass his regeneration mechanism, and is thus among the few capable of killing him. Which is exactly what Shiki proceeds to do.

    Web Animation 
  • ASDF Movie 4, to the mugger's confusion.
  • ATTACK on MIKA:This chapter has an example where the "monster" actually wants to help. Hideo demands an unsuspecting Jin to take him to the hospital for "tripping" him. When Jin turns to help him, Hideo sees the latter's scary face and changes his mind, running like hell.
  • In the third episode of Bro Trip 40,000, a spinoff of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, a Commissar attempts to execute an unruly Ogryn in the usual manner. Said "Ogryn" is actually Son of the Emperor Corvus Corax, who simply shrugs off the explosive bullet. And the firing squad. And the BFG. Corax doesn't kill the Commissar because he's a Death Seeker who doesn't care enough about his own life. But he does care about the people suffering under the planet's soul-crushing system, and easily persuades them to rise up in arms. The Commissar who orders his execution is the first casualty of the revolution — by his own firing squad, no less.
  • DEATH BATTLE!: Most of these fights occur with the loser instigating a fight and seriously underestimating their opponent. They paid the price with their lives.
    • Barry Allen vs. Quicksilver starts off with Quicksliver gloating about his racing prowess and punches the Flash in the attempt to cheat. Once over the pacfic ocean, Barry proves that he was holding back the entire time and gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. It ends with Quicksliver accidentally dying by being impaled on a Japanese statue.
    • Carnage vs. Lucy starts off with Lucy (as Nyu) waiting for a train... whose passengers have been slaughtered by Carnage. As soon as the doors open, Carnage immediately lunges at the innocent-looking horned girl. He bites off more than he can chew when she stops him midair and tears him to pieces with her vectors (which didn't stick at all) and when she later hits him with a nuclear bomb-level attack (which did).
    • Aang vs. Edward Elric has Edward falsely accusing Aang of calling him short and tries to kill him for it. He pays the price when Aang goes into the Avatar State and obliterates him with an attack of all four elements.
    • After getting his ice cream destroyed when Sailor Galaxia blew up the Earth while he was on it, Beerus confronts her. Her response? Insult him by poking his eyes. He quickly teaches her he was not to be messed with by turning her into Ludicrous Gibs and having her pieces be sucked into a black hole.
    • Venom vs. Crona has Venom encounter Crona and Ragnarok entering the church while he was praying and thinking Crona would be easy prey, attack them. Unfortunately for them, Crona's sound-based weapon ensured Venom's demise (although the first attempt was shrugged off due to Venom being a distance away and had a Healing Factor, the next attempt succeeded with Venom being pinned down unable to escape a close-up max power attack from Crona's soundwave attack).
    • The Incredible Hulk vs. Broly starts off with Hulk going out of his way to deliberately provoke a meditating Broly for no reason other than simple bull-headed bravado. When the fighting starts, Broly quickly closes the power gap between them and rips his head off. It evolves into Bullying a Dragon when the Hulk continues to attack and goad Broly despite this, who later proceeds to overwhelm and obliterate him so thoroughly that even his Resurrective Immortality couldn’t bring him back.
    • During their match up, Homelander provokes Omni-Man via breaking into his home and killing his wife, assuming that he could just intimidate Omni-Man into obeying his demands to leave. Omni-Man, however, is barely phased by Homelander's threats and quickly shows the Number One Supe just how outclassed he in one of the shortest fights of the show's history, which results in a very nasty death for Homelander, who only realizes how royally he screwed up seconds before Omni-Man ends him. The hosts point this out in the post-fight analysis, comparing the fight to a bully picking a fight with a trained soldier. Also doubles as Bullying a Dragon, as Homelander was aware that Omni-Man was powerful but falsely believed his own powers were superior.
    • After pulling a Kill Steal on him, Michael Myers attempts to make Jason Voorhees his next victim. As he quickly learns, however, Jason is borderline unkillable and has zero problems matching Michael in both strength and speed. In the end, Jason winds up making Michael his own victim.
    • Killua VS Misaka has Misaka telling Killua to give back her lost Gekota badge. He, not knowing who she is, smugly taunts her to take it. The resulting fight ends with him blown into Ludicrous Gibs and the badge falling right into the exhausted Misaka's hand, and the post-analysis reiterates that Misaka is a Person of Mass Destruction with output and arsenal far outclassing his own.
  • Gossip City: Two bullies forcibly pull up Amane's long-sleeved shirt only to reveal tattooed arms. Much to their dismay, Amane herself tells them that she is the daughter of a Yakuza boss.
  • Helluva Boss: In the episode ”Western Energy”, a trio of cowboys decide to gang up on and antagonize a small imp at a gas station just because the imp is wearing the same hat as one of them. Said imp happens to be Moxxie, a weapons expert and Professional Killer by trade. The end result of that confrontation is three dead cowboys and one exploded gas station. What makes this impressive from Moxxie’s side is that he’s been firmly established to be the physically weakest member at I.M.P, as his specialty lies in using firearms, but he takes on the cowboys on his own without firing his gun even once and still wins not only easily, but almost casually.
  • MoniRobo: Harumi kept bullying Takuya on her wedding day and bragging about her wealthy husband. However, Takuya's cousin Kenta revealed via loudspeaker that he is the grandson of Choten Mobile's CEO, and thus wealthier than the groom. Harumi tries to get back with him, only for his girlfriend Yurika to show up.
  • In the prologue for a 1 Minute Melee, Dio Brando, the loser of a previous melee, tries to suck the blood of the first person to get near his beaten body. Unfortunately for him, that first person is none other than Kenshiro, who counters The World and dropkicks Dio out of the scene.
  • Revenge Films:

  • RWBY: In the very first episode, some thugs are robbing a store that main character Ruby Rose just happens to be in. When one of them brings her attention away from her headphones and magazine by trying to get her to put her hands up, she responds by throwing the offending man across the room and attacking the entire group.
    Ruby: Are you... robbing me?
    Thug: Yes!
    Ruby: Ohhhh... [smiles]
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers:

    Web Original 
  • In Aim High, bullies of Fairview High are not aware that the guy that they pick on is a government spy and assassin.
  • In Dead West, this sometimes happens. Nice examples include a bunch of thugs attacking a group of aristocrat doctors-in-training on a charity night (they were making rounds in the worst part of Paris, treating everyone who needed their services). Most of the group were harmless enough, but on that particular night the Porcelain Doctor, a Hungarian amateur, and a firegun enthusiast engineer student decided to tag along (and the former two had bodyguards nearby). The incident ended with the "Soft" members of the team patching up their attackers, but we never get a full recount of the action. Usually, some idiots try to harrass the Porcelain Doctor, since he is a bit effeminate, and doesn't look really menancing (he is very short for an aristocrat, but average for a commoner, and has a very slim build). The wanna-be-muggers sometimes are able to get off with a warning, but several times it ends badly for them, as Niall has a pretty short fuse, and he is armed with a sword-cane and Psychic Powers.
  • In The Fire Never Dies, three deputized Klansmen accuse a black sailor of espionage, beat him up, and throw him into jail. On his own, Seaman Carl Johnson was no threat to them. However, they did not reckon with his CO, one Ernest J. King, who was infamous (both IOTL and ITTL) for his temper, as well as being A Father to His Men. Cue King showing up at the police station the next morning with his ship's entire Marine complement, demanding Johnson's release.
  • In the first chapter of Ra, four muggers attempt to kill Laura Ferno, a drunk but very talented mage. Only about two and a half of them survive.
  • The trio of bullies that torment Taylor in Worm would probably reconsider what they're doing if they knew that she was secretly a supervillain with a reputation for ruthlessness. Well, two of them would.

  • Not Always Right:
    • Rude customers periodically find out that the employees they are harassing are not to be messed with.
    • Still others apply for jobs and then discover that the employee they were rude to earlier is from human resources... or the manager.
    • A naval lieutenant decides to throw his weight around in a civilian restaurant and makes the mistake of antagonizing another diner... who happens to be a Rear Admiral stationed at the same base.
      "Well, I'm HIS superior, and as soon as I'm out of here, I'll make sure he lights your a** up."
    • Similarly, lousy employees often discover that they've been acting like a Jerkass in front of a secret shopper or an upper-level manager.

    Web Videos 
  • In Break Quest Club, the party gets ambushed in their first ever adventure by bandits. Naturally, they're not remotely prepared for the adventurers to stomp them. It later turns out that Magnus and Freya, their escorted merchants, were actually skilled at magic and trained with a crossbow respectively, and went around as a Bonnie and Clyde style duo, meaning the bandits couldn't have picked a worse target if they tried.
  • In the short video "Angela" by DeniseVlogs, a hitchhiker named Richard convinces a woman named Angela to drive him to his destination, but eventually his comments make her uncomfortable and she demands he leaves. He then pulls a gun on her and tries to force her to get into the trunk of her own car — but upon opening the trunk of her car, he finds there is already a dead body in there, immediately after which Angela shoots him in the neck.
  • Played with in "Silent Night," another video by DeniseVlogs. When the three burglars chloroform a woman to steal from her house, a man knocks them out and ties them up, threatening them with a gun when they wake up. Initially, the burglars (and the audience) think he's the woman's husband, but he explains that this isn't his house, and they weren't his present they were stealing. He's actually a sadistic serial killer who intended to kill two children, cut up their bodies, and wrap the parts in presents for the parents to find in the morning, but when the burglars came in, he had to kill both parents. Now the people he was intending to scar for life are all dead, so to "fill the void", he intends to kill the burglars. This all gets subverted when the cops arrive, get welcomed in by the woman the "serial killer" supposedly killed, and arrest the burglars. Turns out this man was actually the police chief, and he just wanted to terrify the burglars before they were arrested. This gets subverted again when the police chief and his wife go upstairs and kill a pair of people they'd kidnapped beforehand.
  • Gordon Freeman in Freeman's Mind never goes out of his way to attack other humans (aliens are different; that's community service and stress relief) and just wants to escape Black Mesa, but the army still tries to kill him as part of an ill-conceived cover-up. At which point they learn that he's carrying a massive arsenal, is wearing an impenetrable suit of armor, and is totally capable of murdering any soldier not killed by the others' stupidity first.
  • In this video called Overpowered from side quests, the thieves guild leader accosts the player character. Problem for him is that said character has done every sidequest and mission before doing the main quest. He doesn’t last long and even gets the dishonor by being defeated by a simple backslap.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged a player-killer guild lures Kirito into a trap without realizing his level. One of them does pick up on a worrying sign, but is ignored.
    Um boss? A thought occurs. This guy thought he was going up against Laughing Coffin but he still just brought himself and a...small child. We sure we wanna mess with this guy?
  • During the Oingo and Boingo mini-arc of Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Oingo kicks Broly in the face because something about Broly's face ticked him off. Unfortunately, this bites Oingo in the ass, as Broly plans on killing Oingo and Boingo.


Mugging The Shredder

The minute he returns to Earth, Shredder is beset by some two-bit hoods. He scares them off by slicing a tree branch down single-handedly, reminding viewers that while he has no chance as a conqueror, he's still a master martial artist.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / MuggingTheMonster

Media sources: