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One-Sided Arm-Wrestling

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"...I'm sorry, have you two already started?"
Superman (arm-wrestling the gods Samson and Atlas at the same time), All-Star Superman

Somehow, in some over the top fashion, a situation has arisen that can only be solved by one character arm wrestling another. This will almost always result in a character who appears scrawny having to arm wrestle a man far larger than they are.

This never favors the big man, since almost as often, the character only appears scrawny, and is in fact a not-so-harmless Cute Bruiser, or otherwise ends up being more powerful than they look, proving that Muscles Are Meaningless sometimes. Expect some to take full advantage of this misconception to make money, get revenge, or just show off. Often serves as an Establishing Character Moment to demonstrate the character's incredible strength early on.

While unassuming people being able to win at arm wrestling with ease is possible in real life if they have the upper arm strength to back them up - making this trope Truth in Television - prospective arm wrestlers should be very, very mindful of maintaining proper posture, in particular that the forearm should remain in line with the shoulder at all times. As tempting as it is to 'cheat' by leaning your upper body over, you're far more likely to snap either your arm or that of your opponent in half like a toothpick, and the results can be both incredibly painful and extremely gruesome.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kenshiro gets into one of these in Fist of the North Star. It's made even more deadly by having buzzsaws near the bottom of the table that will cut off the arm of the loser. Ken spares the Mook he's arm-wrestling from having his arm cut off... by breaking his arm instead.
  • Gon, Killua, and Leorio actually make money doing this in Hunter Hunter, having Gon arm wrestle a passerby and win. Also, the strongest person he arm-wrestled and forced him to use Nen to win: a Meganekko. The only reason he won was that she used her right hand, and she's left-handed. Which makes this an example of I Am Not Left-Handed, while being an inversion at the same time.
  • Little House with an Orange Roof has Natsumi in this situation in chapter 38. On a whim, she plays an arm-wrestling game and beats it even when her youngest daughter sets it to the highest level. It's later revealed the machine was broken, but Natsumi doesn't know that when she has to arm wrestle a construction worker to get her house worked on. The intervention of the kids warms the hearts of the construction workers and the event is called off.
  • Episode 7 of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor has Bridge Bunny Yuriko facing off with big Marine Lt. Andressen to decide whether or not they clean up the Soyokaze. Yuriko holds out well but is on the verge of losing until Captain Tylor cheers for Andressen. This gets Yuriko mad and, to everyone's shock, immediately pins down Andressen's arm.
  • Done in Pretty Face where the deceptively waifish-looking main character Rando does astonishingly well in such a contest.
  • Ranma :
    • Double subverted when Akane is arm wrestling several arm-wrestling machines. She's winning, but then loses to the Sumo wrestler (the strongest machine) — turns out Shampoo was hiding inside.
    • Played straight in the Super Soba storyline, where Ranma tries to debunk Akane's claims of Super-Strength with an arm-wrestling match... and then another... and so on until there are several Ranma-shaped holes in the floor.
  • Double subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist. In Rush Valley, a big guy is challenging people to an automail arm wrestling contest. He keeps winning until Ed moves to challenge him. Turns out he was cheating to win using Alchemy, but Al then cheats right back to win anyway. Also occurs in the 2003 anime version.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the anime added an original scene to Mitsuri's childhood flashback, to further convey how much of a superhuman she was as a little kid who hadn't even trained under Breathing Styles yet; Mitsuri's ever supporting father casually convinced a grown adult Sumo wrestler to take on his little daughter in a arm wrestling match, to the surprise of the large man and his friends Mitsuri completely overwhelmed him, a kid who's only a fraction of his size and weight. Her unnatural muscle constitution is just on another level.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has an epic arm-wrestling match between Ku Fei and Negi. The "one-sided" aspect is a bit of a Zig-Zagging Trope, as in terms of pure physical strength they're about equal, with Ku apparently having a slight advantage due to her Ki. Then Negi pulls out the Black Magic. Ku didn't have much of a chance after that.
  • Rather hilarious example from PandoraHearts: Gil's hat is riding on the outcome of an arm-wrestling battle between a big, burly tough guy and Alice. Alice is basically an Eldritch Abomination in the form of a teenage girl, and Gil, who controls her Power Limiter, really wants his hat back. Her power-up music even starts playing. In the manga, Alice even breaks the guy's arm.
  • The title character of Great Teacher Onizuka once beat 99 guys in an arm-wrestling contest, including a giant, a nuclear mutant, Heihachi Mishimi and Jason Voorhees.
  • When one of the boys in Hanamaru Kindergarten declares his love for athletic teacher Kusano, she tries everything she can to dissuade the kid, finally settling on an arm-wrestling match... only for Anzu to distract her at the critical moment by talking about wedding ceremonies.
  • In Prison School, in order to buy time for a scheme, the boys all challenge Meiko to an arm-wrestling competition. None of them last a second with her save for Andre, and he lasted as long as he did because she found herself distracted by a single strand of chest hair.
  • Chapter 40 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid features several examples during an arm-wrestling tournament. Takiya gets his wrist snapped like a twig by Ilulu, Kanna is unable to even budge Lucoa's arm despite using both hands, and the only reason Tohru didn't lose to Lucoa in the finals is that she bribed Shouta to distract her.
  • Kaguya does this to Ishigami during an arm-wrestling tournament in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Her years of practicing archery (plus the fact that he wasn't using his dominant hand) mean he isn't able to so much as make her budge.
  • Mai and Yuuko square off in Nichijou, with the loser having to buy the winner a bottle of juice. At the end of the subsequent arm-slamming montage, Mai has won 23 juices off of Yuuko plus "that thing from the station" — poor Yuuko kept thinking she could win if she gave it one more shot.
  • When Raku from Nisekoi asks Chitoge to do an arm wrestling match with him, she instantly sends him flying into the ceiling before he even finishes saying "Ready, set, go." His male classmates ask if he's okay afterward.
  • Seton Academy: Join the Pack!: Yukari Komori, a koala girl, easily beats a gorilla in arm wrestling.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair Kazaha challenges Shirayuki to an arm-wrestling match when she arrives in Lirias and loses instantly. Later Kirito challenges Shirayuki after hearing about it, and after he beats her Zen gets revenge for her by easily beating Kirito. In this case the take-away is mostly that Kazaha is incredibly weak, as all the other matches go about as expected with Zen, an avid swordsman being much stronger than Kirito, a boy just starting training for his planned knighthood.
  • Brynhildr in the Darkness: Ryouta Murakami faces Neko Kuroha in an arm-wrestling match, but she effortlessly slams his hand down hard enough to hurt him. Astonished, Ryouta wonders how she's able to do that when she is so skinny.

    Comic Books 
  • While recounting his past in one part of Preacher, resident vampire Cassidy recalls using this trope soon after traveling to the US (see above). No one ever suspects that the gawky-looking kid has Super-Strength.
  • In All-Star Superman, Superman faces Atlas and Samson simultaneously, and breaks their arms.
  • In #2 of one of the later Red Sonja volumes, Sonja has time-travelled to present-day New York. She is challenged to an arm wrestle by a meathead in a Harlem bar, who obviously thinks he'll Best Her to Bed Her. Instead, Sonja immediately shoves his arm down. He complains that he wasn't ready, so she beats him again just as quickly, this time nearly breaking his wrist. She's then shown easily beating an even bigger guy, with this match going viral on social media.
  • In one issue of JSA, Atom Smasher and Black Adam arm-wrestle. Atom Smasher is over 7 feet tall with a body of solid muscle, and can grow even larger and stronger. Meanwhile, The Rock was cast to play Black Adam — these are huge guys. They get locked in the starting position, with Atom Smasher giving it all he's got and, he assumes, Black Adam doing much the same. They carry on a conversation for a while, until Adam asks "This game, when does it start?"
  • One Lucky Luke story has Calamity Jane wrestle the villain's goon, with the saloon's residents all betting on him. When the goon tells the villain to bet his next salary, Jane asks if all bets are done, and instantly smashes his arm back almost from the brink. Oh, and this version had lit candles underneath each person's arms.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), Princess Celestia set up a hoof-wrestling booth, easily beating everypony who challenged her since she is a Physical God. Even Big Macintosh straining with all his might only made her smirk. Granted, she had to put a bandage on her arm afterward, implying he was strong enough to injure her.
    • In a later issue, Rockhoof, the Pillar of Strength, is seen struggling in a hoof wrestling match against Big Macintosh, who isn't even paying attention. Imagine how strong this makes Celestia.
  • Subverted in one issue of The Mighty Thor, where Thor and Hercules, two characters with comparable super strength, had to agree to call their arm-wrestling match a tie after the force being exerted by their muscles began to push the Earth out of orbit.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side had an implied one where a scrawny guy is challenged to use his right arm... which is a monstrous, gorilla-like appendage bigger than the rest of his body.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, Empath is pushed into an arm-wrestling match with Hefty, which neither Empath nor Hefty like the possibility of performing, but do so anyway. The match lasts for about a few minutes as Hefty strains with all his might while Empath just casually keeps Hefty at a standstill before pushing his arm down.
  • Infinity Train: Boiling Point: Chapter 9 plays it both ways: when Hazel and Tuba decide to test Todd's arm wrestling game, Hazel gets quickly beaten as soon as the game actually starts, while Tuba doesn't have to put much effort before she breaks it.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku gets dragged into an arm wrestling match with the burly Kendo Rappa over a Beebo doll. Fed up with this when he just wants to walk away, Izuku only has to use a fraction of his Kryptonian Super-Strength to slam Rappa's arm down so hard that he flies into the air and twists his arm 180 degrees. Izuku is initially horrified at the result until Rappa laughs in his face and resets his shoulder with his Quirk.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Black Widow: In prison, a long line of prisoners goes to arm wrestle Alexei Shostakov. Since he is a Super-Soldier, he beats them easily, breaking one of their arms.
  • Cool Runnings has Yul Brenner (no, not that one) do arm wrestling matches to raise money for the bobsled team. The strong men fail, but the last contestant, a large woman, succeeds.
  • Probably the most disturbing example in film history is the bar scene in The Fly, in which a newly superpowered Seth Brundle snaps a man's wrist and rips the bone out. With loud cracking sounds and NO Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Revenge of the Nerds during the intergender arm wrestling contest. The male nerds get squashed by the cheerleaders they all had to face except for Booger, who manages to fake out the girl he had to face and get a win.
  • Superman II. Ursa challenges a human male to an arm-wrestling contest. She appears to be totally outmatched (she weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet), but since she's a Kryptonian (and thus has strength comparable to Big Blue himself), she easily beats him, injuring him in the process.
  • In Time Bandits, a member of Robin Hood's merry men tears the arm of the man he's arm-wrestling and throws it into a pile of other arms.
  • Subverted in Two Fathers Justice. The weaker guy uses the opportunity to sucker punch his opponent instead of wrestling him.

  • In the 1632-universe short story "Diving Belle", Per is nervously watching his brother play the deceptively scrawny role when the protagonist, Ginny Cochran, enters the taproom of the Silver Eel bar where the match is taking place.
  • In the story "Medium Tough" by Craig Davidson, the main character Dr. Jasper "Jazz" Railsback is a surgeon. The left half of his body is withered and the right half is buff — he's split right down the middle as a consequence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which caused an in-utero hormonal disorder. Using the right half of his body, he's a champion arm wrestler. With the left half, he's a pediatric surgeon.
  • At a party in Solo Command, two Mon Remonda crewmen decide to have a friendly game of arm-wrestling with Chewbacca. Predictably, Chewie handily beats both of them — at the same time.
  • In Moving Pictures, it's mentioned that Ridcully once arm-wrestled the Librarian (who, for those not familiar with the books, is a full-grown orangutan). He lost, but everyone was really impressed that he still had use of his arm afterward. Note that Ridcully is also known to box bare-knuckled with trolls.

    Live-Action TV 
  • My Secret Identity: A macho man challenged Andrew Clemens to an arm-wrestling match after Andrew got Super-Strength.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Chase, a guest Klingon challenges Data to B'aht Qul (a Klingon challenge similar to arm wrestling). Data wins in 0.47 seconds, then calmly goes back to what he's doing.
  • There's a funny series of examples in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In an episode, an old man challenged Lou Grant to an arm wrestling contest. The old man defeated the bigger Lou. Then, the old man challenged Ted. Ted defeated the old man easily. Filled with confidence, Ted challenged Lou. It turns out that Lou always let the old man wins to give him a drink. So, Lou literally caused Ted to go onto the floor.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the super strong Atalanta challenges Herc to one of these. Herc was winning easily until he spies her cleavage and is distracted enough that he loses.
  • In The Odd Couple, "The Fat Farm", Felix gets Oscar into an arm-wrestling match to prove how much he's let himself go. Felix easily pins him.
  • Katie of Power Rangers Time Force, having been bioengineered with superstrength, does this once, against black Wild Force Ranger Danny in the crossover episodes Reinforcements from the Future.
  • Bones: Zig-Zagged. Mr. Vincent Nigel-Murray, wearing an upper body exoskeleton giving him the proportionate strength of a T. rex, is unable to beat Hodgens in an arm-wrestling contest because the limitations of the T. rex's skeletal structure makes it unable to complete the presumed Curb-Stomp Battle. Hodgens wins.
  • In iCarly, Sam could easily beat Freddie at arm-wrestling, even after he had buffed up so much his arms were twice as thick as hers.
  • Happens in the failed pilot for The Greatest American Heroine (meant to be a replacement for The Greatest American Hero). Although she doesn't inform her partner Bill Maxwell she's got the super-suit on beneath her outfit, at first leaving him to think she's challenging the burly guy without it and making him very nervous.
  • Twin Peaks: Evil Cooper seems like an underdog in the arm-wrestling contest against an enormous gang leader, but it turns out the one-sidedness goes the other way. As a Black Lodge entity, the Doppelganger does not even react to the pain (though he does feel it), and has superhuman strength that dwarfs his opponent's. He spends most of the match toying with the guy before breaking his arm and smashing his face in.
  • In the episode "Comedy of Eros" of Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena and dastardly warlord Draco are shot by Eros' arrow, causing them to fall in love with one another. One scene shows most of their clothes lying on the ground, but the camera draws back to show them having a friendly arm-wrestle. Xena beats the massively muscled Draco with ease.

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video to Good Girls, Elle King arm wrestles a Scary Black Man at least twice her size and not only beats him, she slams his arm against the table so hard he's thrown from his chair, starting a Bar Brawl.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Trish Stratus and Christy Hemme had an arm-wrestling competition as part of the build to their match at WrestleMania 21. Christy, who had just got her job with WWE by winning a contest, squashed Trish, a former fitness model who had much larger muscles. Trish tried to claim she wasn't ready and tried again, only for Christy to squash her again.

    Video Games 
  • Arm Champs: As an arm wrestling game, it is possible for a strong enough player to end a match in mere seconds.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lucky Dog 1 has this potentially happen between muscly Luchino and slender Gian in the spin-off Gian Carlo's Lucky Happy Life, when the former drunkenly challenges the latter to a contest of arm wrestling at the very beginning of his route. In one of the two outcomes of this impromptu match, Gian is somehow able to beat Luchino despite the obvious strength disparity between them, which even he is shocked by. If he ends up losing instead though, his arm becomes seriously sore afterward.

    Web Animation 

  • Happens in El Goonish Shive when Susan (recently transformed into a man) challenges Nanase and loses.
  • Happens twice in Dead Winter, once with Lizzie dishing it out and once with her on the receiving end.
  • This Touhou Project fancomic has Cirno vs Utsuho, ice fairy vs nuclear-powered hell raven. Cirno wins, but not the way you'd expect...
  • Bastard: Distressingly averted in episode 6 when Jin goes up against his father. He still loses, but the fact that he managed to hold on for a little while cues his father into the fact that he's gotten stronger.

    Western Animation 
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Hamhocks and Arm-Locks" has Dexter's dad getting baited into arm-wrestling with a beefy trucker named Earl after Dad accidentally distracts the trucker and breaks his winning streak. Knowing the match is too one-sided, Dexter secretly fits his dad with a mechanical arm to enhance his strength. Once they start arm wrestling, the two seem evenly matched... until Dexter realizes he forgot to push a button on his remote control, at which point Earl is sent flying through a wall.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Duckman of Aquatraz" where Scrooge gets put in prison, a dozen or more burly inmates challenge him to an arm-wrestling match. In a glorious display of his toughness Scrooge effortlessly smashes their huge hands into the table, one by one, quipping "Next!" between rounds. While they all stand in shock and awe rubbing their wrists, one (Mad Dog McGurk) asks Scrooge how did he became so strong, to which the latter replies "By lifting moneybags!" This is when the prisoners start to respect Scrooge.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: One episode has Herc, a gawky teenager in the series, sneaking into a bar to retrieve his school assignment only to get challenged to arm wrestle by a pair of meatheads. The demigod looks rather bored as he crushes their arms.
  • In Disney's John Henry short, there is a montage of him arm wrestling progressively more men simultaneously and winning. When his much tinier wife challenges him, she wins, but only because she distracted him by kissing him.
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons: The cartoon "Harm Wrestling" begins with Yosemite Sam easily winning against his opponents and breaking their arms.
  • Miraculous Ladybug once had Nino try and arm wrestle Nora Cesaire. As Nino is a skinny teenager and Nora an adult and a kickboxer, it's so one-sided Alya fears Nora will end up breaking his arm.
  • The Loud House: The episode "Singled Out" has Lynn Loud challenge every boy in her school to an arm wrestling contest in an effort to find a date who could keep up with her. Not a single boy in school could even come close to matching her strength, and she even yawned when battling one poor kid.
  • ThunderCats: Lion-O is searching for the missing history-holding holoprojector, but finds that a caveman has claimed it. He has to beat the caveman at arm-wrestling to get it back.
  • Regular Show: Skips in a fit of Unstoppable Rage beats Rigby so hard that Rigby gets accidentally killed.
  • In an episode of The Smurfs, Clumsy repeatedly gets into an arm-wrestling match with Hefty, who easily defeats him, but it doesn't deter Clumsy from trying again.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), during their Christmas party Raph and Casey try their luck against Silver Sentry, a Captain Ersatz of Superman. Despite straining with all their might, and even working together, they can't make him begin to put any effort, and when their arms hit the table the force sends them flipping through the air across the room. Then April steps up, and seemingly trounces him with the same result (he threw the match as a joke using his flight ability).


Red Guard Arm Wrestles

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