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Not Badass Enough for Fans

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"How the hell
Did it do so well?
When the main character is totally gay?
He whines like a girl!
And he fights like one, too!
Crying "I must not run away!"
I always thought that an anime hero was meant to have big hairy balls!
But then this guy, Shinji, seems quite unable to get up whenever he falls!"
LittleKuriboh in a parody of the Neon Genesis Evangelion intro

The idea of a fandom and/or characters in a series disliking someone simply for not living up to the level of badassery that would be expected of the series or genre. Even more so if a little Angst is involved: expect that someone to be called out as wangsty. Even more so if they, oh, are pacifists. Even more so if the character isn't supposed to be that badass (their importance as a character lies in something else, such as being a strategist or moral support) and then gets compared to other characters who actually are badasses in the story.

This trope also leads to something of an Anti-Intellectualism attitude: The hard, grumpy, antisocial badass will be worshipped for being manly and tough, while The Smart Guy, even if they're just as awesome, will be regarded as a pussy because they dare to resort to anything other than their fists (even though the smarter character will often use certain tropes that are seen as awesome such as being The Gunslinger, coming up with The Plan, or Cutting the Knot to solve a problem). Especially if they appear in the same work or even the same scene. This trope is also often a side effect of Badass Decay, where the moment the character is less of a badass, they’re now a terrible character in the eyes of the audience.

If the character in question is far more badass than the fandom gives them credit for, they may well be Underestimating Badassery. They may have a lame/stupid-sounding power (or maybe even none) when others have cooler powers. In a video game, they may become a Low-Tier Letdown, and/or suffering from a personal Scrappy Mechanic. In rare cases, the fandom knows that a character is badass, but dislikes them all the same, either because the character isn't "badass enough" or because they are badass for reasons other than, for example, fighting ability. A quick way to test this is to think about what a character does in fiction and wait to see if any Fridge Logic emerges. This often stems from how people have different ideas on what "badass" even means - see Analysis.Badass for explanation.

Compare Real Women Don't Wear Dresses, A Real Man Is a Killer. See also American Kirby Is Hardcore; both that trope and this are fueled by Values Dissonance when it concerns what makes a badass. It may invoke Double Standards.

This trope is possibly a consequence of I Just Want to Be Badass. The Wish-Fulfillment aspect of fiction generally makes people want to see characters they identify with do things that are cool/heroic/manly, which allows them to experience badassery via a proxy of themselves. When the audience is denied their Wish-Fulfillment, they may dislike it and displace that dislike onto a character. Generally, any character (though main leads are hit with this especially hard) in a genre that tends to demand raw badassery from its characters that isn't a nail chewing badass with an attitude (and/or is capable of showing... *eugh* emotion) tend to be instantly dismissed as a Scrappy or Creator's Pet - try contrasting Rated M for Manly with any of the Hidden Badass tropes, and you get the gist of this trope - at least for the Western audience.

Compare with Memetic Loser, when the fandom exaggerates the character’s weakness, and contrast with Memetic Badass, where someone gets more reputation of being a badass than they should.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Armin is sometimes the target of this trope. He starts out as a Cowardly Lion that is physically weak (by military standards) but possesses a brilliant mind, often comparing himself negatively to his much more physically-gifted comrades. His lack of confidence and tendency to doubt himself wears on some fans, prior to him realizing his strengths and becoming a Manipulative Bastard. This extends even into the marketing of the series, with Ensemble Dark Horse Levi frequently replacing him alongside Eren and Mikasa. This gives the impression that Armin is a minor character, as opposed to the third member of the series' main trio.
  • Bleach: Most characters in the story that have suffered from breakdowns and moments of giving up entirely tend to receive sympathy, justifications, and forgiveness by the majority of the fandom, who regard it as good character development in a story about constantly warring spiritual factions. Orihime is a pacifistic healer with shielding powers, who is singled out both in-universe and out as being unsuited for battle, leading to a kidnapping that split the fandom due to abuse of different kinds being heaped upon her without respite until it reaches breaking point. Part of the fandom believed this to be the natural outcome of her type of powers and personality, given that even talented fighters were struggling to succeed. Part of the fandom believed this made her irredeemable for not transforming into a warrior character to fight back in a successful way. (Yes, it's only okay to get a break-down if you have proven yourself to be a bonafide badass.) The debate became high profile enough to reach the creator's ears, whereupon he stepped in to explain that Orihime's experience is a natural human reaction to the level of abuse and stress she had suffered. The fandom uses the author's statement on both sides of the debate.
  • A Certain Magical Index: One of the reasons why many fans like Mikoto more than main heroine Index is that the former is a living rail gun and the latter is a living library. Sure, their difference in personality has something to do with it but the fact that Index is a more passive and usually non-combat character while Mikoto is an Action Girl definitely had impact. Thing is, Index can be Badass Adorable when she wants to. People just ignore that.
  • Ganta from Deadman Wonderland is often lamented to be a useless, cowardly pansy, with many fans much preferring Crow (who is often declared the most badass character in that series). They seem to be ignoring the fact that Ganta is only 14 (compared to Crow, who is obviously much older than him) and was just a normal student who never really got into fights, and who is also new to Deadman Wonderland.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Humans cannot compare in strength or combat ability to alien species, especially if the measuring stick is the Saiyans or the god-like entities. Consequently, barring the pureblooded or half-blooded Saiyans, most of the Z Warriors get this treatment to varying degrees. In particular, Krillin and Yamcha — with Yamcha having turned into a Memetic Loser at this point. Because they get more focus and screen-time than the rest of non-Saiyan Z Warriors, their deaths and the power gap in relation to aliens are the more glaring (at least, to a good chunk of the fandom).
    • The Dragon Ball franchise being a shonen and, furthermore, heavily action-loaded, kind of demands that its characters are all competent fighters in constant training to improve themselves and eager Blood Knights. For most of them, it's justified since these personality traits are in their Saiyan blood. Gohan, however, has never enjoyed fighting as much as his father and kin — something that the Cell Saga events only aggravated. As a result, Gohan quit training and decided to focus on his studies and, later, to fully dedicate himself to his wife and child. Unlike Goku, who technically didn't raise his children and was fighting or training far from his family more often than not. Regardless of this, Gohan very severely receives this treatment from the fandom despite being still one of the strongest characters (he's just not the unfused strongest fighter anymore). Although there's a certain subset of fans who understand his situation, they do bemoan the fact that at times, he clearly gets the shorter end of the stick.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Alphonse Elric gets hit pretty hard with this in the 2003 anime version. He's not weak but he's much more reluctant to fight than his brother and has a much quieter personality in general. He's still a main player whose actions have a direct effect on plot development, but more than a few fans dislike him for not being proactive or badass enough.
    • The 2003 anime's version of the Homunculus Wrath, while he was popular back in the anime's early days, has become a Base-Breaking Character in the years since due to his highly emotional personality, with many arguing that he's "too whiny" and thus "too weak" to like. This is disregarding the fact that he is a roughly eight to eleven year old child who spent his formative years in an And I Must Scream hell that has given him a legitimate case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and left him desperately craving maternal affection, not to mention the fact that he's more than capable of holding his own in a fight, which gets conveniently ignored by fans who decry him as "just a crybaby momma's boy".
  • Fushigi Yuugi:
    • Miaka as the Priestess of Suzaku gets a lot of flak for not being a badass. She's a regular middle-school student about to take her entrance exams when she ends up in the Universe of the Four Gods, she has no combat training (aside from some moves she copied from Wrestling she watched on TV) and often doesn't take part in the action, with her warriors often having to rescue her. Yet, despite that, she still managed to talk back at Nakago, still believed in her friend, and successfully summoned Suzaku, even earning her happy ending with Tamahome after more trouble comes her way.
    • Anti-Miaka Fans got worse when Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden came out and gave us Takiko. She's more action-oriented, actively tries to reach out to the warriors who all have their share of baggage, often suffering physical injuries to help other people and knows how to save herself out of situations. A big problem in comparing the two in terms of Badass Protagonists is the fact that Takiko lives in The Roaring '20s of Imperial Japan and Miaka comes from The '90s, with a lot of cultural and socially established norms having changed since.
    • Even Seiryu's Priestess Yui can't run from this, though she gets it less than Miaka. Despite her role as the antagonistic priestess toward Miaka, she is often not out to search for her warriors. They seem to just gravitate towards her as she lays around, doing nothing while pining after Tamahome and mistrusting her friend. Her action-less role was a sore point for readers, who thought she would be a polar difference to Miaka.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Canada! Many Western fans have a tendency to turn Canada into a Memetic Badass and Deadpan Snarker instead of the fairly nice, unassertive guy he is in canon.
    • China is also bashed once in a while because of his "girly" looks and voice, and he also gets some "revision" to make him more snarky and assertive (though not nearly as much as with Canada). Even though he's shown to have martial arts skills in canon and Super-Strength rivaling America's in the anime.
    • Poland's Keet behavior and penchant for ponies and skirts makes him hated in some circles. Him being one of the few nations who will fearlessly stand up to Russia will be conveniently ignored by them.
    • In an odd case of this, fans of this kind don't hate Greece for being sleepy and laidback; they just want him to be with Turkey all the time because Turkey is the only thing that causes him to lose his calm, easygoing nature and hence makes him a Hot-Blooded Tsundere who's "stronger" and "cooler" than the calm Nice Guy he is with Japan everyone who's not Turkey. Some of these fans even seem to believe that Greece waxing philosophical, taking care of numerous cats, and being affectionate and respectful toward Japan makes him a "personality-devoid Satellite Love Interest" because apparently he can't be a strong or complex character if he isn't constantly angry, fight-happy, short-tempered, or otherwise "manly" like he is with Turkey.
    • Lithuania gets this sometimes, due to his Woobie tendencies... as with Poland, the fact that he definitely has shades of Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, and that it's the fandom itself that ukefies him, tends to go ignored.
    • Hungary is sometimes used as THE example of a "strong female character" and as a yardstick to measure all the other Hetalia girls with, with her fans then bashing the other girls for "not being strong enough". Conversely, she's also bashed due to the trope: many "feminist fans" believe that she was only a good female character when she was a little kid, due to thinking that she was a boy. They then state that when she became girlier and later became Austria's Violently Protective Girlfriend she "lost her strength" and "betrayed feminism" for hanging around Austria's Big Fancy House and protecting a Non-Action Guy like him.
    • ALL the female characters have been smacked around with this trope, no matter how their personalities and roles are. For the "fandom feminists" Belgium is a weak whore for wearing a cute dress once and using flowing skirts sometimes (nevermind that she's a self-made woman and a Plucky Girl who doesn't let her brother Netherlands and other guys boss her), Belarus is a psycho bitch for dressing like an Elegant Gothic Lolita and chasing after her brother Russia (while Russia is fetishized and adored for being even more psychotic than she is), Taiwan is a stupid bitch who wants to be Japan's "child bride" and nothing else (even when she interacts with the Asian boys as an equal and without fear, and that she NEVER clings to Japan), Liechtenstein is a weakling whom everyone takes pity of (despite how she can handle someone as grumpy as Switzerland without even blinking), etc.
    • The Nyotalia cast, when not being bashed for being too "girly" or "useless" compared to their male counterparts, are also sometimes used as a way to bash on the canon female characters, deeming them to be less badass and compelling than whatever potential the Nyotalia characters could have. The male Nyotalia characters are also sometimes deemed better than their canon female counterparts, simply because they'd appear stronger.
  • A complaint regarding a number of Demoted to Extra characters from Lyrical Nanoha. Prime example is Yuuno Scrya, but many would also level the complaint regarding Chrono Harlaown, who has shown himself to be genuinely Badass on occasion. Some people would even say this about Nanoha herself, because she seems to be nonlethal no matter how much property damage she ends up inflicting, up to and including blowing through a large portion of a warship from inside. It's actually supposed to be a sign of Nanoha's power that she has enough self-control to only inflict nonlethal but very, very painful magical damage.
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion has many moments of angst, cowardice, selfishness, and reluctance and outright refusal to fight, but also has some moments of heroism, bravery, and awesome feats. But according to some people he is always the former and the latter are anomalies. (Or, in the instance of some famous pieces of fanfiction, have him take several thousand levels of badass.)
  • Penguindrum: Shouma Takakura gets potshots that range from mere affectionate jokes to straight-up bashing for not being as action-geared as his older brother Kanba. Even more so after episode 19.
  • Pokémon Adventures: Never mind that White has her own dreams (which boils down to making people happy nationwide with the added bonus of boosting the economy), knows what she has to do to achieve them, and can do it as well (which involves running her own business, an impressive feat for a girl in her mid-teens); she gets constantly bashed for not knowing how to battle right off the bat. Fans seem to ignore that Yellow and Platinum initially didn't know how to battle in their respective arcs.
  • Mytho from Princess Tutu sometimes gets flak for this from the fandom, thanks to being a Distressed Dude for most of the first season... despite the fact that in the second season once he regains most of his heart he's revealed to be a better, more capable swordsman than fan-favorite Fakir. Given the ending, it's possible that the way this gets fans to prefer Fakir is intentional.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Madoka Kaname is condemned by much of the fanbase for being emotionally crushed by all that happens to her at the start. These fans focus on Madoka's justified grief at the situation without taking into account that Madoka is a firmly proactive protagonist, saving people from unwittingly killing themselves at the hands of a witch, singlehandedly trying to stop Sayaka from fighting, and trying to convince Homura to team up with Sayaka for her benefit; all of this meant to establish that trying one's best to do what's right doesn't always result in a happy ending. The ending makes it a Defied Trope, as she rescues herself from the scrappy heap without becoming a badass, although what she actually did is awesome in itself: She essentially saves everyone with The Power of Love, by Rules Lawyering herself into goddessdom. Although there is the occasional vocal minority that still doesn't think that's enough or too much if the accusations of her being a Canon Sue are anything to go by.
    • Sayaka also has this issue, for different reasons. She does fight, initially, and wants to be cool and confident in battle like Mami; but a combination of her lack of talent and perfectionistic expectations for her skills and moral conduct cause her to take a sharp turn towards angst and depression, until she hits rock bottom and becomes a witch. Her story is meant to be tragic, but some viewers see it as pointless because she never gets to do anything particularly cool, and insist that she overreacted to unwittingly having her soul extracted and put in a Soul Jar, Kyousuke not falling for her after she made her wish for his sake, and other things that caused her rapid Badass Decay. She became more popular after The Movie, where she's more mature and less angsty... even though she only got that way through her original unpopular Classical Antihero arc.
    • Iroha Tamaki from the Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story mobile game was hit with this due to the Magia Record anime's Compressed Adaptation left her Out of Focus compared to Yachiyo. While Iroha didn't have an amazing track record in the game, she made up for it by being a plucky Determinator despite her shy nature and by befriending several allies. In the anime, she loses fights constantly and has to rely on Yachiyo or the convenient appearance of her Doppel to get her out of trouble and move the plot along, leading to many people wondering why the hell she was the protagonist rather than Yachiyo when Yachiyo does everything.
  • Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in the OVA is regarded as useless because she doesn't have any shining moments in combat. However, she gets a lot of jobs done with shamanistic magic outside of combat: finding a way out of a trap in the pilot, guiding the group through the Forest Of No Return, protecting them from the hot air vents in the ancient fire dragon's lair, and guiding the others to Parm's location after he gets his ass handed to him by Wagnard.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kaoru is the head of her own dojo and a national-level fencing champion. In other words, she's plenty badass when it comes to regular fighters. The problem is that hanging around Kenshin and Sanosuke and the caliber of villains they fight means she is constantly outclassed. It doesn't mean she deserves the utter SHIT she gets from fandom.
  • Sailor Moon: Ami/Sailor Mercury suffered a bit from this in the first season. Her bubble attack only temporarily fogged the area and lowered the temperature, making her the only member without an offensive attack. Cue cries of What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? and claims of her being useless despite still playing an important role as The Smart Guy.
  • Samurai Champloo: Fuu gets a lot of hate for having no fighting prowess and being The Heart of her group. There's some Misaimed Fandom in this opinion, in that while her co-protagonists, Jin and Mugen, are certainly badass, it's quite clear that they really lack social/life skills (Jin starts out stoic to the point of apathy and isn't good at anything except kendo; Mugen is a hotheaded Sociopathic Hero who doesn't plan ahead at all), and wouldn't have developed as people had Fuu not roped them into serving as her bodyguards.
  • Sands of Destruction: Kyrie gets a lot of flack for being an Action Survivor and Distressed Dude who tries to calm everyone down and talk his way out of fights instead of jumping in blade first. It doesn't help that his companions are both extremely skilled in combat while his skills lie in the culinary arts (and, unlike the game, he never weaponizes poisonous food). That time he defended a fellow human prisoner from an abusive feral prison guard? Totally didn't happen. He's even derided for wearing a suit of armor (you know, being sensible) when forced in a colosseum. He finally takes a level in the finale, which led to quite a few fans wondering why he couldn't be like that for the whole series.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • Many of Kamina's fanboys (which are many fanboys of the show itself), refuse to acknowledge Simon as the main character, simply because, according to them, he's not as badass as Kamina... despite the fact that the show made it clear that Simon far surpassed Kamina by the end of the show, and without Simon's help, Kamina wouldn't have made it as far as he did. In the Lotus-Eater Machine, Kamina himself admits that Simon has surpassed him. Misaimed Fandom at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.
    • Rossiu is considered The Scrappy by a large number of fans because he's the Only Sane Man and more subdued and cynical than the rest of the cast. This wouldn't be so bad, were it not for how 1) the verse of Gurren Lagann literally running on hot-bloodedness and determination, 2) Rossiu himself actually trying to subdue his comrades' hot-blooded antics (and while that in and of itself wouldn't sound bad, he eventually enables a Tyrant Takes the Helm plot with him as the tyrant), 3) he's a reasonable person when his comrades would rather, in their own words, "kick reason to the curb".
  • A couple of fans had this complaint about Canute in Vinland Saga. Many hoped he'd be killed off eventually. Which is moronic, since he is a historical figure that lived to be quite old, and thus the only guaranteed survivor amongst the heroes. There is a very good chance that people who are complaining don't even know he's a real person.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: One of the key reasons some Seto Kaiba fans find Yugi and his friends unlikable. He's stoic and ruthless and doesn't give friendship speeches. This is despite the fact that he's as successful as Joey Wheeler when it comes to fighting villains. This trope also sums up the attitude to non-dueling main characters who are sometimes seen as useless or unnecessary in a world where Duels Decide Everything.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Hawkeye, despite being one of the most popular of the group and one of the most badass heroes in the Marvel Universe, he's often seen, in-universe and out, by some as being 'the weakest' of Avengers, since while his teammates include Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man (who also is a normal most of the time, just with Powered Armor), he's 'just a guy with a bow and arrow'. The fact that he can keep up with these guys without faltering is sadly lost on some people.
  • Batman: The Bat Family, Batman's partners, Robins, sidekicks, and mentees are all hit with this trope. While Batman has the same stigma, he's still seen as an incredible badass. So, his sidekicks, who unfortunately are limited in how many levels they can rise to or risk overshadowing him, tend to appear this (Dick Grayson was the poster child of Distressed Dude during the Silver Age). With the exception of Cassandra Cain, they're occasionally hit with this by someone, the worst being Stephanie Brown. While each member has at least one skill they excel at (Dick's leadership and acrobatics, Tim's detective skills, Babs' intelligence, Jason's homicidal violence, etc) Steph is a realistic portrayal of a Badass Normal: She's got an average intellect and reasonable training and skills in fighting and athletics, she lacks Photographic Memory and Training from Hell the others possess. So, while she is as badass, if not more so, than many real-life people or action heroes, she's limited in what she could reasonably achieve. To this day there's many a Hate Dumb that will decry her as 'weak', 'pathetic', 'stupid', and call her 'incompetent' for not having Charles Atlas Superpowers and being The Pollyanna.
  • Green Arrow: Green Arrow and his protégés also suffer from the same stigma of "just a guy with a bow and arrow" as his Marvel counterpart Hawkeye. It doesn't help that Oliver and Roy (the original Speedy) have been negatively compared to Batman and Nightwing, both in and out of universe. Oliver is not a skilled detective, Science Hero, or tactician, and overall lacks Bruce's mystique and intimidating factor, instead being known as an insufferable, self-righteous jackass who often puts his foot in his mouth. Meanwhile, Roy is clearly not the natural and charismatic leader that Nightwing is, and his history with drug addiction is often used against him by fans and writers.
  • Teen Titans: Though some of the "weaker" characters will have their fans, they are generally hated for not being as badass as the major members of the team. A few examples come from this:
    • Aqualad/Tempest took heat from some fans and DC editorial for having "lame" powers (similar opinions exist about his mentor, Aquaman), and for coming off weaker, less "manly", and less proactive than the other male Titans. Even after he got an upgrade in power, his role gradually diminished and he was killed off. Phil Jimenez (who wrote the Tempest mini-series) has stated that the current editorial team wasn't too fond of the character.
    • Flamebird, for being ditzy and more obsessed with Robin at first than actually fighting seriously. Even after her character development, her hatedom still considers her "too useless", "girly", "stupid", and a waste of space that could be given to tougher characters.
    • Jericho, for being too sensitive, a "wuss", not being much of an action guy, and having a flamboyant costume and weird hair in his early days. The showrunners of the animated series had stated they felt the need to try to make him look more badass, as they considered him to be pathetic in the comics.
  • Watchmen: Nite Owl II definitely qualifies for this. Since he decided he didn't want to be involved in a futile battle of good against evil for the rest of his life and retired, he's clearly the "worst" of the main characters. Even Rorschach held this view for a period of time. And considering his popularity with readers, his view of Nite Owl II probably contributed to the way a lot of fans saw him. Rather ironic considering how Moore intended the exact opposite effect. Parodied in I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC, where Dan and Cyclops discuss this trope.
  • X-Men:
    • Cyclops holds his own against Wolverine in hand-to-hand combat, takes out the entire team when they're brainwashed and he's injured, beats up six men at once with his eyes shut, pulls off impossible trick shots, earns the nickname Fearless Leader... and a lot of X-Men fans still think of him as a pussy, because he dares to not get along with Wolverine (which, when you think about it, is pretty badass in its own little way).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blood Diamond: Maddy accomplishes just as much in the narrative as Danny and Solomon, saves their lives several times, writes the article that exposes the blood diamond trade, and is shown to be strong-willed and capable of taking care of herself. Unlike Danny and Solomon, though, she doesn't wield guns and shoot everyone, so she's usually dismissed as a useless token American who's only there so that the film can have a romantic subplot between her and Danny.
  • The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren, the newest villain. The guy, as this picture says, can stop laser blasts in midair with seemingly no concentration, tank a shot from Chewbacca, chew out his generals freely, and many more. He's Darth Vader's second coming. However - partly because of that - he's also seen as not badass enough, as fans think his face below his mask looks "emo" as well as how he has some daddy issues with Han Solo. And, unlike Luke, who couldn't really hold his own against Vader until much later, here Rey (who's about as much of a newbie as Luke back then) can fight Kylo Ren to a standstill, which not only undermines him as an effective villain but also diminishes Rey as a compelling hero, since he provides no serious challenge for her to overcome. Fans are also divided on his temper tantrums- while some feel that it makes him new and different, others feel that it makes him look weak and pathetic compared to previous antagonists, all of whom were The Stoic, and many Affably Evil as well.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Rodan gets this. He performs not only competently but impressively when he's up against Monarch's squadron of trained aerial fighters and against Mothra; the former is a Curb-Stomp Battle and Rodan's very much the one who's winning for most of his fight against Mothra until she gets the drop on him at the very end. But when he's up against Ghidorah (an alpha-class Titan, meaning one of the very few Kaiju who are officially in Godzilla's weight class as an apex Titan), Rodan is simply outclassed, and when Godzilla defeats King Ghidorah at the film's end Rodan chooses to bow to Godzilla without a fight (bear in mind Rodan is still injured after losing his fight with Mothra). Because of his poor performance against Ghidorah and Godzilla, Rodan is very much portrayed by the fandom as a Memetic Loser — though to be fair, probably not helping is that Rodan went down during his fight with Mothra, crippled with pain, after being impaled once through the shoulder by her stinger.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Gamora. Detractors dislike the fact that she's not a god-level murder machine that kills everyone and everything the group comes across in two seconds flat (which she isn't in the comics they champion as an example of her badassery, either), and exaggerate her into being "borderline incompetent and constantly needing to be rescued" despite her being anything but.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968): Barbara is attacked for being The Load and a Hysterical Woman, even though she witnesses her brother's death, has to run for her life and the first place she takes shelter has a dead body in it - all things that would probably make one in every four people behave the way she did. Judith O'Dea feels that Barbara simply had to retreat into herself to properly deal with the situation and would then help when she was ready. She does snap out of it towards the end and tries to help when it's sadly too late.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon got flak for Megatron, who in the first film was touted as being an unstoppable badass and in the second film easily tore apart most threats, being unable to fight during the third film due to his grievous injuries from the last film, namely, the large hole in his head from being shot at point-blank range by Optimus. As he's too injured to do much by himself, he gets essentially bullied around by Sentinel and is later Curb Stomped by Optimus, and people see this as an insult to their childhood or call him Anti-Climatic, all the while ignoring the reason for this.

  • This trope is behind much of the Fan Dumb dislike of characters (especially the women) in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Badass characters can get away with murder, while characters who are decidedly not, such as twelve-year-old Sansa, incite a negative fan reaction from both the moronic fanboys and the misogynistic fangirls who believe that it's anti-feminist to be girly and like it.

    Although a lot of people who don't like Sansa cite Wide-Eyed Idealism and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero as the reason why her "uselessness" is such a problem. In spite of her general inaction, she still managed to be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap for many of them her once she wised up and became more worldly, without needing to take badass actions.
  • Harry Potter: Ginny Weasley. Molly Prewett-Weasley. Nymphadora Tonks. Lily Evans-Potter. All of these women are bashed endlessly by the Fan Dumb and called "weak", "slutty", submissive to men", "submissive to gender roles" and other misogynistic insults for one or another "reason" and this is one of them.
    • Ginny becomes more outspoken, blossoms into a fine Cute Witch plucky girl and Harry falls for her? It doesn't matter, she only developed to be more "desirable" to Harry and steal him from Hermione who deserves him so much more! (This one partially comes from fans who have only seen the films, where she loses much of her Character Development and has a very rushed, forced romance with Harry).
    • Molly has gained the liking of many, many fans after her duel with Bellatrix Lestrange in which she manages to kill her, especially for her epic Pre-Asskicking One-Liner. Thus proving this trope.
    • Ron Weasley also gets an unjustified amount of hate (heck, he's the Trope Namer for the phenomenon), which is part Die for Our Ship and part this - unlike Harry and Hermione, Ron doesn't have any obvious exceptional abilities.note  It doesn't help that he's overshadowed in-universe by his five older brothers (and younger sister). Ron's cleverness (in spite of being Book Dumb) and ability to keep the trio's morale up are often overlooked.
  • In-universe near the end of Barrayar, Cordelia is furious when she realizes that she's respected for ordering a man's head cut off when other women who endured much more are dismissed.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Lord of the Rings: This may contribute to Frodo's poor reputation. While most of the characters including the other hobbits get badass moments, Frodo's progressive weakening while carrying the One Ring means that he is able to do less and less (despite the fact that he carried the Ring 24/7 for several months and didn't succumb, while clearly visible badass Boromir succumbed just by being near it for not nearly as long). This is also exacerbated by Tolkien's comment that Sam was the real hero in the end, which has been interpreted by Frodo's detractors to mean that Frodo made no meaningful contribution.
    • The Silmarillion: Beren is certainly a badass, but his contributions to the quest for a Silmaril are... less than heroic (though no doubt courageous). He immediately gets captured (so Lúthien has to save him), had no plan on how to get into Angband (so Lúthien did it for him), got his stupid hand bitten off (so Lúthien had to heal him) by Carcharoth, which also caused an epic wave of destruction in its wake, then later got his ass handed to him again by the same monster (so Huan killed it instead and Luthien had to bargain with Mandos to bring him back). It's also important to remember that he was a mortal surrounded by gods, demigods, and angels/demons in that quest. Prior to that, he fought a one-man guerilla war against Morgoth's forces for several years with only woodland creatures for allies, like some combination of Batman and Snow White. And he did it so well, his head was worth the same bounty as that on the High King of the Noldor. Years later, he would come out of retirement to lead the Green-elves to victory against the Dwarves of Nogrod who had killed Thingol and destroyed Doriath. In a quest full of some of the most legendarily badass elves on record, a God of Evil opposing them, and several unique beings that existed in this time only, it's hard not to be Overshadowed by Awesome.
    • The Silmarillion also gives an in-universe example in Brandir. Although technically lord of the Haladin, he's disabled and can't fight, and his great skill as a healer (which should be every bit as valuable in their circumstances) earns him little respect from his people. When Túrin shows up, he inadvertently usurps Brandir's leadership just by being the mighty warrior and military leader the Haladin need to drive off orc raids.
  • Circle of Magic: Sandry's the most feminine of all the main characters, with a very sweet personality and a love of fashion. Her magic over thread is an obvious case of Heart Is an Awesome Power — she uses it to defeat whole troops of soldiers, hold a person's very life-force to their body, and joins the minds of the four main characters together, just to start. Despite this, numerous fans express an intense dislike of her compared to other characters, who are more masculine.
  • The Hunger Games: Peeta occasionally receives this because of Die for Our Ship. Because of his upbringing, Peeta lacks the survival skills of many of his fellow tributes, and it's a common accusation to hear people saying that Katniss should've chosen Gale over him because he's "more badass."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost:
    • Because of the mystery surrounding the character and his agelessness, many fans built up Richard Alpert as the answer to the entire show, the most powerful character, and, among some fans, a literal Memetic Badass and the show's version of Chuck Norris. Fans on GameFAQs and Lostpedia even developed a joke episode dealing with the idea that he is a superhuman badass. So when the end of season 5 revealed Richard to be an ordinary person with realistic flaws and personality (as well as being an Unwitting Pawn), the fandom reacted violently and Richard suddenly became unpopular.
    • The beginning of season 6 had "Fake Locke"'s first act after killing Jacob being to beat up Richard in front of the Others for no apparent reason other than to establish his authority. That didn't go over well with the aforementioned people.
  • Survivor: This often happens where people make it to the finals but are told they're not badass by the jury despite that the game's Slogan is "Outwit, Outplay", and "Outlast". They tend to forget that last "O"...
    • Amber Brkich in Survivor: All-Stars was the first major example of this. Many felt that Boston Rob should have won for ruling strategically and physically. However, Rob's game left three angry jurors who were against him and he did poorly under questioning. Amber, on the other hand, did well and only had one person against her. This was even pointed out in Winners at War, where she fully believed that Rob was a better player despite her own accomplishments in All-Stars.
    • Sandra Diaz-Twine in Heroes vs. Villains had this by the fans as well as Russell Hantz himself. Russell claims that Sandra being able to win twice is somehow proof that the game's rules are flawed, because she would be terrible at physical challenges and have zero personal immunities under her belt, yet was good enough with people to know what was up, and was able to play the lesser of three evils. ("I hate Russell, too.") Meanwhile, Parvati already had a pretty loyal fan base and played a game more people approved of, as opposed to Sandra who went with the flow. Mario Lanza (a foremost columnist on Survivor) pointed on his second "The Fall of Russell Hantz" entry on his The Funny 115 that she and Russell taunted the heroes with J.T.'s letter. Some Sandra supporters even pointed out that Sandra had more allies in the jury (including the entire Heroes tribe) and Russell should have considered that — Parvati did realize this and tried to get Russell to see this too, but he kept on insisting that Sandra had no chance of winning... just like he insisted that Natalie had no chance of winning in Samoa. Cue the Humiliation Conga.
    • Michele Fitzgerald in particular deserves special mention for getting hit with this twice, both from the audience and in-universe. When Kaoh-Rong aired, Michele was somewhat of a controversial winner in part due to the editing favouring Aubry and Aubry's moves being more in the background (In fact, allegedly a few jurors said that if they had known this, they'd have voted for Aubry!). In Winners at War, she was also not taken seriously in part because of this, yet despite that managed to outmaneuvre and survive her way to the final three. To date, she is one of two players to have played twice, made it to the end both times, and won once (An honour shared only by Sandra). But despite this, the jury was largely voting against Natalie on principle despite several of them stating they felt Michele deserved it most - thus giving the impression that for all she did, nobody felt she deserved any recognition.
    • In-universe, several of the winners from Winners at War were underestimated by their fellow winners and frequently talked down to/dragged along. In addition to Amber and Michele, this includes Wendell, Ben, and Adam who all won their respective seasons. Some of them even attempted to bond or appeal to each other as "Controversial winners".
  • Merlin: On the surface, Guinevere is essentially portrayed as a Shrinking Violet, a stark contrast to Morgana's spunky lady. Morgana gets to do lots of cool things: sword-fight, telekinetically throw people through the air, and stand up to King Uther. However, this is a huge simplification of each woman's characterization and Character Arc: namely that Morgana's fall into evil was marked by her It's All About Me attitude in which she ranks her own grievances and pain against the needs of others and begins a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against not just Uther, but everyone, including innocent people. In contrast, Guinevere (who is also deeply wronged by Uther when he has her innocent father executed) rises above her inner turmoil and explicitly refuses to wallow in hate. Many fans seem to have completely missed the juxtapositioning of Guinevere's declaration that she would never seek vengeance against Uther because: "that would make me just like him" with the observations by several characters that Morgana is now no different from Uther. It also fails to take into account the fact that Guinevere's attempts at proactivity have a far higher success rate note . Though Guinevere has played the Damsel in Distress a few times, Morgana has been in similar situations just as often (as have all the male characters) and is extremely Weak-Willed given the consistency with which she is placed under enchantments. Guinevere, on the other hand, has the unprecedented move of removing an object of enchantment from her body of her own free will (and thus breaking the spell she was under).
    • The reactions to "Lancelot and Guinevere" are a perfect example of this trope. Most of the complaints about the episode state it as Guinevere's biggest Damsel in Distress moment, and that she needed three attempts by Morgana, Lancelot, and then Arthur and Merlin to rescue her due to her extreme incompetence. 1) It was Guinevere's You Shall Not Pass! moment that saved Morgana, not the other way around, 2) In Lancelot's rescue, we never see her get captured, so we don't know if she tripped or ran into a group of bandits, and 3) All of that would have been for nothing had Gwen not kept up a Morgana impression throughout the duration of her imprisonment, which kept her alive until help could come. Uther even mentions that it would take a small army to beat the number of bandits in the fortress she was held in, so unless you're expecting her to spontaneously turn into River Tam, there was no way she could have escaped without help.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: An in-universe example appears with characters such as Willow, Xander, and Dawn being derided for not being badass. Buffy eventually bitches everyone out because they aren't, which comes back to bite her when her nemesis Faith appears and treats the potential Slayers as though they will be badass, in time.
  • In The Challenge, competitors were taken from shows outside of The Real World and Road Rules. Sometimes from shows like Big Brother or Survivor, but other times from shows like Love Island, Paradise Hotel, Ex on the Beach, or Are you the One?. Sure enough, the ones from the more "dating" and "Romance" oriented shows were often seen as much "Lesser" despite how physically fit or competent they showed themselves to be. Things have changed over the years however - after multiple competitors from those shows performed fairly well.
  • A major reason why Juken Sentai Gekiranger failed in Japan. The main characters having comical personalities and engaging in silly activities that supposedly constitute “training” (the first seven episodes have them cleaning the floor, washing windows by walking on the walls and dancing), made them far less worth investing in than the more serious villains and their actual strength-building training methods.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • After Lita and Trish Stratus kick-started the WWE Divas' division as we know it today, many of the other Divas were disdained for not quite measuring up to the in-ring standards of the first two, even if they trained at a level roughly equal to Lita and Trish - and even though when most of these Divas (including Lita and Trish) started their careers in the late 1990s, many fans considered it impressive when women wrestled at all. Even more so is when the women come from athletic backgrounds that are more feminine - dancing, cheerleader, gymnastics, etc - and even on This Very Wiki are treated as such, never mind how athletic one needs to be to have dancing as a career.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons forums, you are worthless if you can't deal lots of damage. Thus metagaming pros like Divination Wizards are overlooked and so are smooth-talking Bards and Rogues who can stealth and sneak and talk their way out of anyone who wants to listen. However, in other D&D-oriented optimization forums, this trope is inverted, with the typical "badass" mundane classes such as Barbarian, Monk, and Fighter being considered weak and useless for being only half-decent even in combat and pretty much useless anywhere else. In general, they're being considered far weaker classes than most spellcasters or even more skill-oriented mundane classes
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Tau and the Craftworld Eldar get a lot of stick from the fandom for not being as overtly manly as the other factions, although they are no less awesome. It should tell you something that the biggest factions in terms of sales are the Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Orks. In words, all armies where everyone is bulging with muscle and has "run at the enemy shouting and brandishing an oversized and rusty melee weapon" as their main battle strategy. The Dark Eldar ever so occasionally get this treatment as well, although they avoid the worst of it by being Wicked Cultured and having only about twenty people in the world play as them.

    Video Games 
  • In a game like BlazBlue, it seems that the only way you could attain fan interest if that if you have Godlike, reality-breaking powers or can stand up to them, or for the fans of 'good morality', can go toe-to-toe with the two broken villains: Terumi and Relius (and always refusing them). Therefore:
    • Platinum the Trinity, who could be considered The Scrappy, was alleviated a bit from it, because she's the host of Trinity Glassfile, one of the Six Heroes.
    • Back in the old days, Jin Kisaragi was widely hated in favor of his more badass and more 'morally straight' persona Hakumen (in spite of Hakumen being a Knight Templar, apparently being a badass means that everything you do is more righteous). It's only after Jin either move past from his past disliked characterization and moves a bit closer to be like Hakumen that the derision stops.
    • Fans enjoy morally questionable characters like Rachel and Kokonoe because they oppose Terumi and are some of the most powerful individuals in the verse.
    • Characters like Arakune are largely ignored or derided even with their tragic story ongoing... solely because they seem to never get past of being Cannon Fodder types Mook in the eyes of many.
    • Noel is always considered a whiny crybaby, because of her acts in the earlier games, and only after Chronophantasma that she gains confidence that fans started looking up to her more, though not everyone (and eventually when she once again became central of the plot in Central Fiction as a... terrified MacGuffin Girl... a portion of the fandom that warmed up on her turned cold on her AGAIN),
    • Makoto Nanaya is praised like hell because if anything, she tanks up everything Terumi threw to her, continues being a 'good guy', and wrecked his plans (even by accident) in her CS EX story. As opposed to that, Litchi Faye-Ling, who ended up being Forced into Evil unwittingly by Terumi who manipulated her feelings for the aforementioned Arakune, ended up being derided and eventually largely forgotten by the fandom for not measuring up to the badass standard (The current holder of top 'big boobed lady' happens to be Nine the Phantom, one of the Six Heroes).
  • In Dynasty Warriors, one of the biggest reasons Guan Suo gets backlash from fans is solely for his character design (Or more specifically, having a flower in his hair). The majority of the backlash comes from fans from the west, who only tolerate characters with a bishounen appearance if their actions or relevance screams badassery. Since he fits neither note , he is seen as a Scrappy in their eyes.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Terra Branford got this when many were unhappy with her characterization—while her timidity and fear of Power Incontinence is in line with how she behaved in the early game, they didn't like that she seemed to be hiding behind the half-pint Onion Knight when she got to be a serious Mama Bear in her home game.
    • Final Fantasy IV:
      • This is the main reason people hate Edward/Gilbert. All things considered, Cecil and Kain are about as spoony as he is, but they're powerful frontline fighters and Edward is a support character who was not useful at all before his abilities were rebalanced in later editions. It certainly doesn't help that he spends the majority of his introduction whining about his love interest's death and has to be dragged into the plot kicking and screaming.
      • Rosa suffers from this. She's a white mage/archer and while her one offensive spell is on par with Meteor, it is just the one and takes longer to cast; her archery gives her the best damage output of all the mages but her white magic is usually more needed. She also gets hit with the Distress Ball for a big chunk of the story and is in love with Cecil from the start. (hatedom insists this is her only interest; never mind the many times she adds relevant commentary on the plot and politics.) Black Mage Rydia — with her arsenal of spells and summons, Big Damn Heroes moment and UST with Edge — gets far more attention from the fandom.
    • Among the women in Final Fantasy V, Lenna is the one most often dismissed as boring. Faris is a badass pirate captain whose Sweet Polly Oliver status also gives her an LGBT Fanbase, and Krile is a Badass Adorable who bravely takes her grandfather's place after he dies, giving her The Woobie status. Lenna is also brave, fighting in the cause that her father died for, and adventurous, but because she is a Princess Classic who is hit with the Distress Ball to parodic levels, she is the one who is frequently dismissed.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has Minfilia, the leader of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn whose goal is to unite the city-states of Eorzea against The Empire and finding a way to get rid of the primal and ascian threat for good. She also handles a lot of the political affairs between her group and the city-states, which gives her a ton of responsibility and duties. Many fans declare her to be useless because she is "kidnapped a lot" and doesn't fight back, even though Minfilia is only captured twice and in both cases, she refused to give her captors what they were looking for and knew that she could be killed for resisting; her captors were a ruthless general and a Physical God, both which clearly overpowered her and she would stand no chance against them in an actual fight. Most people give Minfilia grief because, in comparison to the other Scion members that are more active in the field, she is seen as passive. In patch 3.2, it's revealed that after disappearing, Minfilia performed a Heroic Sacrifice by giving up her life force to Hydaelyn so that the goddess would have enough strength to tell the player character an important message. Most players saw the scene only as relief that a "useless" character was finally killed off.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • The King of Fighters: One of the reasons why Yuki was hated. Since she was a mix of Barrier Maiden and Ordinary High-School Student who didn't fight (it's a fighting game), fans of other female characters thought she was stupid, useless, weak, and stole Kyo from "more deserving" strong females (and/or other males). It doesn't help that she herself isn't really prominent in the story.
  • Mega Man X: The title character of the series gets this a lot. His viewpoint (except for in the seventh game, where he tries a completely pacifist route until late in the game) is that he'd rather not fight, but does because he feels he has to. Because he wishes he didn't have to go to war, he's usually portrayed as a pansy and/or gay (though the latter has more to do with the Ho Yay between him and Zero). Zero, by contrast, is a badass killbot with a laser sword, who never hesitates in fighting his opponents, and is thus much more popular. Fans also like to completely ignore the fact that once X has all his upgrades and armors, he's an unstoppable One-Man Army who is much more powerful than Zero. Not only that but both he and Zero have climatically fought each other to a tie, Zero outright says X is the better Hunter, and a bad guy killed millions so X would fight him all-out (and had no interest in fighting Zero). But no, still a pansy because he realizes that after 8 wars, more fighting doesn't solve anything. It's truly amazing how many people can dismiss him technically beating Zero in X5, while surrounded by a virus that weakens him and renders Zero Nigh-Invulnerable, and only succumbs to its effects after beating the death machine into the ground. In regards to the Mega Man franchise as a whole, X is often viewed as the most "adult" Mega Man of them all and thus derides the other incarnations (like the original Mega Man or Mega Man Volnutt) as being not as badass. Despite them potentially being just as powerful, if not more, than X is.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Raiden got a lot of flak for being a Replacement Scrappy for Solid Snake and for being a "weak, overly-feminine character". This is despite the fact that he fought well, taking down several Metal Gears, killing the Big Bad, and did far better than most people could have done in his profoundly shitty situation, leaving with renewed purpose, the respect of his mentor, a renewed relationship with the woman he loved, and with the child of a castmate still alive. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots reinvented him to be a cyborg ninja, and these days, he's a lot more popular.
  • Pokémon:
    • From the Pokémon Black and White fandom are people who view N Harmonia as "weak and stupid" because he doesn't go around doing a ton of evil stuff like the other main-series antagonists before him did (this despite the fact that he does use a Legendary Pokemon far more effectively than the others, and he still controls the story to a greater extent than any villain before him except Cyrus).
    • "Nice Rivals" in general get this treatment from more hardcore critics of the game series. Contrast to early rivals like Blue or Silver who were insufferable to the player but still put up a challenge, rivals who are friendly to you from the start or don't hold grudges are generally seen as weak, especially if their team isn't constructed as well as a player's and they have a life-defining goal that the player can easily resolve for them. Later gen rivals, such as Hau or Hop, will often be the subject of this.
  • Rebecca Chambers from the 1996 original Resident Evil quickly became The Scrappy for her annoyingly chirpy demeanor and need to be rescued by Chris in most of his story paths, even though she can also end up having to save him depending on the choices the player makes —possibly twice!— and the optional segments where she is playable show her to be as combat-capable as Jill (albeit with only a pistol and no spare ammo). This only applies to the original game, though; Rebecca became Rescued from the Scrappy Heap after the 2002 remake changed her characterization to better reflect the fear and emotional stress she's been suffering since her ordeal began, which does a far better job of tapping the player's protective instincts toward her, but she still never undergoes Xenafication, even though Resident Evil 0 promotes her to a main character and gives her plenty of opportunities to kick zombie ass. In fact, Rebecca canonically retires from fighting after the mansion incident to devote herself full-time to being a Science Hero, studying bioweapons and developing countermeasures for them.
  • Kyrie from Sands of Destruction isn't the most manly of men: he Apologises a Lot, he's a Reluctant Warrior, he follows the whims of a very destructive girl because he fell in Love at First Sight but never tries to get in her panties, favoring verbal confessions of love to anything physical. If you flipped the genders of the leads, you'd have a very typical story about a gentle soul whose Love Redeems, but with the male as the patient Love Martyr, fans get annoyed. This is despite the fact that, unlike the anime, Kyrie is a legitimate fighter here and is capable with his knives; he would just really rather not use them.
  • Touhou Project has Rinnosuke, the only named humanoid male character in the entirely of Gensoukyou that isn't missing or dead who happens to completely lack any combat ability. If he isn't ignored entirely in favour of more badass characters, the fandom portrays him as a Memetic Badass (known as MANnosuke) who all of Gensoukyou fears. Furthering the trope, this may be linked to how Rinnosuke is the oldest and closest friend of Marisa (regularly considered the manliest character in the series), and a badass character having a non-badass friend is clearly blasphemy.
  • World of Warcraft. When "war" is in the name of the game, you expect every character to fight: except for maybe children. This is further reinforced by Azeroth being a Death World: not only is the native fauna absurdly dangerous but it's also the only world not yet consumed by the Burning Legion, who are constantly looking for a way to get in. So not fighting seems like a bad idea. Now, not every character chooses to fight all the time of course: and there are definitely heroic moments when characters choose peace. However, even most of the characters who preach pacifistic philosophies end up having body counts in the high hundreds out of sheer necessity. As of the Battle For Azeroth expansion, there was only one character who had never killed: Anduin Wrynn. This led most characters in the game, and most fans of the game, to assume that he was a wimp and a coward. Actually however, you don't need to fight when you can talk your way out of most battles, mind control your way out of others, survive having several tons fall on you, and heal an entire battlefield all at once. In fact, it's Anduin's ruthless commitment to pacifism that makes him so powerful: both what he is willing to sacrifice and what he's willing to do to achieve peace. He isn't a goody-two-shoes though: he's willing to overlook genocide in the interest of making peace.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, the protagonist’s PTSD rubbed a lot of players the wrong way, as it makes him think and act in ways that are disconcerting for a jock.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • For viewers of the 2006 anime adaptation, unfamiliar with the VN, Shirou wasn't Rescued from the Scrappy Heap until he finally subverted this trope. The early part of the series lacked the justifying and mitigating motivations behind Shirou's behavior and revealed relatively late in the story how painful and potentially life-threatening his independent practice of magic was to him.
    • Sakura in general. She is a Damsel in Distress who receives very little characterization outside of her route unlike the other main characters, and in her route, she doesn't kick ass at least when she's not being the Apocalypse Maiden trying to destroy the world and causing the suffering of the main cast, including corrupting Saber into a villain and forcing Shirou to kill her, like Saber or Rin, but that doesn't mean it's her fault that she's horrifyingly abused by the Matou family, as well as raped constantly by her stepbrother Shinji. And yet fans continue to bash her, with some of them implying it's her own fault that she's an abuse and rape victim!

    Web Animation 
  • An in-universe example: in Season 10 of Red vs. Blue, Church claims that Washington has gone from being a badass Freelancer who could fight toe-to-toe with Tex to Carolina's whipping boy - yet he is still a skilled fighter and has in fact turned the Blues into a much more effective fighting force. The Badass Decay is relative when compared to Carolina. Then it gets completely revoked when he puts a gun to Carolina's head when she threatens Tucker and shoots her an Ironic Echo before walking out on her.

  • Homestuck: Some fans are enraged at trollwoobie Tavros for failing to stand up to Vriska, who enjoys killing people and crippled him. Also for being impaled on his own lance when he finally decides to confront her. Which leads to a horrible pun of the wheelchair bound Tavros not being able to stand up to Vriska.
  • Survivor: Fan Characters: The creator has a very dim view of the tendency of some parts of the Survivor fanbase to blast players as "undeserving" just because they weren't as strategic as their opponents, especially in regards to claims that Russell Hantz "should" have won over Natalie and/or Sandra, and has criticized this mindset repeatedly in his comic. Whenever he sets up a strategic player to be beaten by a less strategic one, he'll make sure to point out that the winner might not have had the best strategic game but played a much better social game (Montana from Season 3, Ker from Season 7, Cherman from Season 9) and that their "strategic" opponent alienated members of the jury by either backstabbing more than they needed to (Baxter from Season 3) or turning off people with their sociopathic gameplay (Wrecker from Season 7, Bonnie from Season 9). This hasn't stopped some fans from complaining about these winners having "no game", especially in regards to Ker, but the SFC fanbase by large seems to be more accepting of these winners with Montana and Cherman easily being among the series' most popular winners.

    Web Original 
  • Demo Reel: Effeminate bisexual Donnie DuPre got the comments sections flinging homophobic insults like "pathetic f*g" because he ending up crying after being kidnapped, left in the woods to die, his every attempt at getting food failed, he was missing his dead mommy and he thought nobody would mourn him.
  • RedLetterMedia: Played for Laughs In-Universe. In "Mr. Plinkett Reacts to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer", Mr. Plinkett makes fun of Emperor Palpatine for not being badass enough. At least by today's standards, mainly because he doesn't look the part.
    Mr. Plinkett: Look, Palpy, just get lost. No one cares about the emperor anymore. We care about new cool robotic sith lords with 16 lightsaber blades and robot faces and prosthetic arms that flip around and explode. By all standards today, you're an old outdated grandpa who couldn't even beat up Yoda. Everyone could beat up Yoda!
  • Keyleth on Critical Role, to the point that Marisha Ray, who plays her, has to deal with incessant bullying from certain corners of the fanbase. Though Keyleth's magic makes her the most powerful member of the group, and thus a Badass on Paper, Marisha plays her as insecure, doubtful, and socially awkward, so these fans consider her weak in comparison to the stone-cold badasses that allegedly make up the rest of the party—never mind that the other characters are just as insecure, doubtful, and socially awkward, they just deal with it in a brooding, angsty, badassful way.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Canon Love Interest Dana Tan is often called weak and useless, compared to the two Fan Preferred Love Interests, Max Gibson and Melanie Walker, a would-be sidekick and a former criminal respectively. While Dana has fewer Action Girl attributes and moments than the other two, she's also not involved in the action as often. The times when she is, she handles herself pretty well for a civilian, averting the Neutral Female and Damsel in Distress tropes by actively trying to get herself out of trouble.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: Julie Yamamoto gets incredible amounts of hate from the fandom, being called a Satellite Love Interest, a Damsel Scrappy and a useless character, to the point the writers ended up Pandering to the Base having her break up with Ben. In truth, she was very rarely a Damsel in Distress (it happened only three times over the course of five seasons, each season being at least of 15 to 20 episodes) and Took a Level in Badass over the course of the show; she just happened to be less frequently involved in the whole "saving the world" thing than the three protagonists.
  • BIONICLE: Toa Vakama, the supposed leader of the Toa Metru has built up an unrelenting hate-base for his Wangsty portrayal in the second movie, where even his own fellow Toa pushed him around. This, despite that he defeated the Big Bad all by himself (through trickery) and that his depiction in the comics and novels (which were written by the "official" writer, not the hired movie-writers) made him out to be far more competent and far less emo. One of the main reasons for this hate is that the previous Fire Toa, Tahu, was a very badass, battle-hungry hothead. Vakama Took a Level in Badass in the third movie, but by then, the fandom's opinion had already been settled.
  • Castlevania (2017):
    • Hector and Isaac. Isaac is sharp-witted, hypercompetent, and a badass fighter, so despite him being openly evil and seeking to wipe out humanity, he receives a lot of audience praise and sympathy. Hector, on the other hand, is equally sympathetic. As of Season 3, however, Isaac only grows in competence and fandom praise, whereas Hector is manipulated and brutally enslaved by Lenore, with many fans and critics alike dismissing him as incompetent and stupid.
    • Similarly, Lenore and Hector receive this. Lenore is a demure woman who is threatening and competent, effortlessly beating him in a Curb-Stomp Battle fight and stringing him along in her plans. Due to this coolness, many called her a highlight of the season and disliked Hector. This is despite her being a cruel and manipulative woman who openly states she intends to sexually abuse him, though we don't know if she actually went through with it.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Korra has gotten heat, bashing, shaming and false Faux Action Girl accusations for daring to angst and cry when she feels she can't live up to Avatar Aang's awesome legacy, and especially for crying and maybe even considering suicide to allow for a better Avatar to be reborn (according to some) when Katara couldn't restore her bending in the first season's Grand Finale. Among the more understandable criticism of how this was dealt with in-story, loud screams of "sexism" and "misogyny" were heard from "fandom feminists" everywhere. When the final season came, one of the loudest complaints amongst the fandom was that Korra spent what felt like "way too much" time dealing with the PTSD and mercury poisoning after-effects that the previous season's finale had left behind (having a Time Skip of several years between apparently didn't help) and these effects made her a true Failure Hero.
    • Fandom only started to lighten up in the Asami hate when she showed herself as an Action Girl Badass Normal. And yet the moment she showed human reactions to the Love Triangle business, some people were and still are quick to accuse her of being "nothing but Mako's Clingy Jealous Girl" (despite how she mostly defies said trope.)
    • There's the passive-aggressive and insidious war between Korra fans and Asami fans, in which the trope is thrown back and forth to make one girl look better than the other. Fandom truly is unpleasable.
  • This mentality gave rise to the "Applejack is a background pony" meme within the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom, because she's the only one of the group not able to fly, use magic, or have Pinkie Pie's borderline reality warping abilities. Needless to say, it's also something of a Fandom-Enraging Misconception because most fans will be quick to point out she's pretty damned badass without them.
  • Thunder Cats 2011: Lion-O gets this treatment both in and out of universe. His more pacifistic and merciful attitude is dismissed and mocked by his own race for not adhering to their warrior culture values. On the fandom side, many fans have expressed a disliking of Lion-O for losing a lot of the battles he gets into, especially in contrast to his brother Tygra who beats him every time they fight. When Lion-O does overcome his enemies, it is usually done through cunning or seen as being done too easily or without any real skill. What's ironic is that a major theme of the series is showing how someone doesn't need to be badass to be heroic, nor do they even need to be a good fighter to be badass, and how ultimately ruling through strength instead of kindness causes more problems than it solves. In fact, it could be said that the series subtly deconstructs this trope and that many fans miss this point. Lion-O's real victories don't come from simply defeating Mumm-Ra, but through his ability to unite the races of Third Earth, some of whom have hated each other for centuries.

    Real Life 
  • "Fabian strategy" is a term for a military strategy in which battle is avoided in favor of wearing down the enemy by misdirection, denying them resupply, and other generally non-violent tactics. It was named for the Roman commander Fabius Maximus, who knew that fighting Hannibal head-on was a losing proposition. He also knew that Hannibal was operating in enemy territory, making resupply difficult, and had virtually no ability to besiege Rome itself. Fabius therefore simply did not march out to fight. As time went on this seemed more and more cowardly to the Romans, who eventually removed Fabius and installed someone more aggressive as commander. Hannibal then crushed the Roman army at the Battle of Cannae, one of the worst defeats in military history. The Romans wised up and went back to denying Hannibal battle, and he achieved few other significant victories over them. The Fabian strategy has been utilized at other periods in history, such as The American Revolution and the Russian defense against Napoleon. Despite the proven success of the strategy in certain situations, commanders who implement it are often seen as weak and cowardly. To add to the irony Fabius still had to be incredibly violent, just not towards Hannibal's standing army. Hannibal was actually able to recruit large numbers of allies among the tribes and city-states of Italy, who, after all, were hardly thrilled about Roman domination. Fabius' strategy was to deny Hannibal supplies and reinforcements from these allies by directing his troops to a place after Hannibal had left and massacring the town or towns that had helped him.
  • Stalin felt this way about his son. When said son tried and failed to shoot himself, Stalin remarked that "he couldn't even shoot straight."
  • Jimmy Carter has frequently faced ridicule for being "soft" or "wimpy", despite having served as the crewmember of a submarine in the early years of the Cold War. He has been one of the few modern US presidents — along with Gerald Ford and Donald Trump — who didn't lead the country into or escalate any major armed conflicts (although that may be due to the backlash against The Vietnam War).
  • Towards the end of World War I, Germany had to surrender due to economic asphyxiation and food shortages, with the latter being the result of the Allied blockade. This defeat was rendered even more humiliating by the fact Germany didn't lose any territory during the span of the war. Years later, the Nazis exploited the Germans' bitterness about this to gain political power and the population's support.
  • The Russian Army in World War I is often seen as being weak and nothing but a German punching bag due to the Russian factories being incapable of producing enough arms and ammunition to equip the Czar's 1.4 million-man army. Apparently, the roughly 6 million casualties the Russian Army took down with it died laughing at its weakness.

Alternative Title(s): What Measure Is A Non Badass, Not Badass Enough For The Fandom, Not Badass Enough For The Fans, Fails Fandom Badassery Standards