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Not So Weak

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"So, there are two people. Both are very strong, but one puts out a more intimidating image. Bullies, not wanting to fight him, attack the other, who proves to be just as strong. So, while the big guy is scarier, the other is the one with his fists soaked in blood."

Someone who is Not So Weak is shy and a natural target for a bully. The person looks harmless. You, as the bully, think that you can just walk all over this person without their raising an objection. And you will find you're right.

Go ahead, take their stuff or break it. They won't stop you. Are you angry at them? A scolding or outright abuse is bound to be effective — they have little self-esteem. This person simply can't or won't defend themselves.

And yet. They tolerate it if you hurt them; but if you hurt anyone else, and they see you, then they're not going to stand for it. They will step in. Humankind is their Protectorate.

This person places no value on themselves, but they will do whatever they can for anyone whom they feel needs help. They'll usually avoid outright violence, thus maintaining the appearance of weakness. But they will sometimes use violence (proving themselves Not So Weak) to protect a loved one or Innocent Bystander. They just will never feel the need to protect themselves.

May overlap with The So-Called Coward, but not always. The So-Called Coward simply avoids fights of all sorts, except for the ones with the highest stakes. Someone who is Not So Weak does not believe they themself are worth defending and is more likely to end up either as a punching bag or as the person escalating a fight involving someone else. Or both in turns.

Often overlaps with Cowardly Lion. Compare Mama Bear for an example with a more specific protectorate involved.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subaru in .hack//SIGN, who founded the Crimson Knights to help the admins uphold peace in The World but is nearly scared into submission by a single stalker-like fan. And then she kills said stalker — despite being under-leveled — so she can get to Tsukasa.
  • Pick on Baccano!'s Jacuzzi Splot, and he'll lie down and take it. Beat the crap out of him, and he'll insist it was his fault. Kill him, and he'll probably have it stipulated in his will that no harm shall come to you. Hurt any of his True Companions and, well, you're fucked.note 
  • Chad in Bleach, though this is not because he is afraid to fight so much as because of a promise with his grandfather and to himself that he would not fight for himself. Before that, Chad was aggressive and got into fights a lot and presumably, he fears becoming too violent and wild again.
  • Ren Kannagi from Kaze no Stigma is a sweet kid who never wants to hurt anyone unless you take a swing at his friend and then he will slam a boy taller and stronger than him against a wall with a murderous expression on his face. Not to mention he's a member of the Kannagi family whose standard operating procedure for evil spirits is Purify It With Fire.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is essentially defined as someone who is a coward on his own but will not stand for slights or attacks against his friends. Or enemies.
  • One Piece:
    • In the very first chapter (the fourth episode in the anime), Luffy's pirate idol "Red-Haired" Shanks allowed Higuma, a small-time mountain bandit, to thoroughly abuse him and casually laughed it off after the fact. When Higuma came back later and threatened Luffy, on the other hand, he learned Shanks and his crew were not to be taken lightly.
    • Shanks' Number Two Ben Beckman stated if one makes the mistake of challenging them, they could at least have the courtesy to bring a battleship.
    • Luffy would later emulate that example with Bellamy in Mock Town and will generally not worry about someone unless they're threatening his crew or otherwise obstructing his path.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: During his high-school years, Peter knows he could knock bully Flash Thompson into next weekend, wait until next weekend, and then kick him right back. He knows that with a bit of restraint, he could even do it without compromising his Secret Identity. However, because with great power Comes Great Responsibility, he refuses rather than risk harming him, even though he feels the humiliation of constantly backing down from him. Of course, being a Super Hero, protecting the innocent is how he spends his afternoons.
  • Young Avengers: Wiccan of the Young Avengers was the target of a bully before becoming an Avenger and wouldn't stand up to the bully for himself, but when the bully found a new target he laid down the smackdown.

    Comic Strips 
  • Get Fuzzy: Satchel constantly puts up with all sorts of abuse and manipulation from Bucky. When Bucky finally calls Satchel's friends "Eurotrash" though, he finally snaps and epically yells at Bucky that he doesn't care if he gets picked on, but his friends are far better than any of the sort Bucky hangs out with, and to leave them alone. This is so shocking that Bucky is actually at a loss for words and acts meek and cooperative towards Satchel for some time.

  • Animorphs: Prior to his Mode Lock, Tobias was a scrawny kid, described as basically wearing an invisible "please bully me" sign throughout his life. After being given the means to be human again (but he has to return to his hawk body), he's still scrawny, but his raptor instincts like not moving much and staring murderously at things stay with him, so he's not picked on anymore (well, the fact that he's no longer in school helps too).
  • Nita in the first Young Wizards book. Character development gives her more self-confidence by the end, but several books later she still retains many of the same character traits.

  • In the Kenny Rogers song "Coward of the County", Tommy, the eponymous coward, spends his life avoiding conflict and refusing to fight because his father, a violent criminal who died in prison, told him not to repeat his mistakes. This continues until his wife is raped by a trio of outlaws and Tommy hunts down and kills them all.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Masayuki in A Profile is an occasional victim of bullying, generally passive in his interactions with others and an unfailingly nice person, leading him to be taken as a lightweight. However, in the past, he was a feared street fighter and can be very scary. What's pretty much the only way to make him mad? Threatening his little sister, which gets him so angry and scary that an entire gang backs down and tells him what he wants to know.
  • Phoenix Wright, of the Ace Attorney series, is a perpetual Butt-Monkey who gets no respect at all from the witnesses, prosecution, and even occasionally his own clients, assistants, and the flipping judge! While he doesn't really like this, he basically takes it in stride. But he will go to insane lengths to prove the innocence of his clients and to get the truly guilty parties behind bars.
    • Adrian Andrews in Justice for All believes herself to be insecure and lacking in confidence due to her extreme dependency in others, to the point where she was once willing to follow her beloved mentor to the afterlife after Celeste's suicide. However, she shows a surprising act of initiation and determination to take her revenge on Matt Engarde and Juan Corrida while bringing peace to Celeste Inpax, who had taken her life because of the two, while drawing enough attention towards Matt Engarde to convince Phoenix Wright that his client is not as innocent as he seems, all by herself. Even Matt Engarde of all people, who considered her to be a weak person, seemed rather impressed with Adrian's plan to take revenge on him and Juan.
  • Nagisa in CLANNAD, who won't even let Sunohara go undefended. The only one in the cast who tries to say nice things about him as well.
  • Sakura Matou and Shirou Emiya in Fate/stay night, for different reasons. But basically, they don't value themselves in the slightest due to immense emotional trauma in their childhoods, but won't stand for anyone trying to do so to others. Well, Sakura did until going all yandere, anyway.
  • Mai in Kanon, who never defends herself or explains her actions but is so kind that she's willing to let a dog try and eat her hand because she has nothing to feed it. After defending everyone around her from being attacked by it. Who then proceed to mock her.

    Web Original 
  • Sparadrap from Noob spends earlier installments being the cast Stupid Good Manchild who really, really likes his virtual pets. Then, in Season 3 finale, someone thinks it's a good idea to bully Sparadrap's friends, destroy his pets and insult his grandmother (who basically raised him). That is how characters and audience alike found out that Sparadrap can get quite serious and dangerous in the right circumstances.

    Western Animation 
  • Philly Phil on Class of 3000 is shown to be this in Season 2. His low self-esteem is revealed, and he generally just allows people to walk over him. However, when someone he cares about is in danger, particularly if physical harm will likely result, he will stop it.
  • Bobby Hill of King of the Hill uses his "weakness" as a strength to survive military school while being drilled by Cotton who is hell-bent on toughening him up. He's too passive and soft to be toughened up, but it also lets him easily take everything Cotton throws at him without cracking and he lasts one day longer in the hole than Cotton himself with no apparent effort on his part. It's even discussed at the end:
    Hank: Well, I guess you could say that, but maybe mush isn't so bad. You can keep stomping on it, but it's all give. It just stays mush. You can't build it up, but you can't break it down either. In a funny way, mush has the edge.
    Cotton: (Starts laughing) Can you imagine that pile of mush in the P.O.W. camps? He would've driven them Tojos crazy! Three days with Bobby and they'd have quit the war!
  • Fluttershy from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. She is the ONLY adult character to be bullied effectively but is still capable of Talking the Monster to Death with her verbal and body-language-based shaming, known as The Stare.
    • In the comics when one of the Nightmare Force's mooks asked why didn't it take Fluttershy as a host, this is the given reason.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons with "Undercover Nerd" with Rainer Wolfcastle. Wolfcastle is a Schwarzenegger Expy, with the giant, muscular physique that entails.
  • In the Jetlag Productions version of Sleeping Beauty, the tomboyish good fairy Primrose comes across as this despite seeming to be somewhat clumsy. While she couldn't fully remove the evil Odelia's death curse on princess Felicity, she was strong enough to not only ensure Felicity would just fall asleep, she swore Odelia herself would be the one to die when Felicity woke up. To that end, the film is no longer about a prince vanquishing Odelia, but Odelia trying to save herself from Primrose's death spell. When Felicity inevitably pricks her finger on a spindle and falls to sleep, Primrose then exhausts her magic freezing the entire kingdom in time until Felicity awakens until her physical body is reduced to a flower. She then spends the next century waiting for Felicity's prince to finally arrive so she can serve as a Spirit Advisor. When it finally comes down to Odelia versus the prince, all the prince has to do is toss Primrose's flower form at Odelia to hold her off long enough for him to waken Felicity as her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Willow from The Owl House starts out as this. Her magical powers developed late and she was widely considered a weakling; and when she went to Hexside she was made to study the Abomination Track, which she had no talent for and was dominated by her former best friend Amity Blight, who broke off their friendship because she wasn’t powerful enough. In her first appearance she has incredibly low self esteem and lets Amity and her new friends push her around, but when Luz’s life is in danger she steps up and uses her immensely strong plant magic to protect her. Over the course of the series she becomes gradually more confident and assertive as she’s switched to and excels at the Plant Track in school, patches things up with Amity and has adventures with Luz.