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Pathetically Weak

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Perhaps he should lift with his legs.

Drill Sergeant: All right, men, you're going to take a 20-mile field hike with full field packs. [the platoon groans] Oh no, don't thank me. Thank Private Urkel. You see, men, an infantry unit is only as strong as its weakest soldier. And this soldier is the weakest man in America.
Steve Urkel: Oh yeah? He hasn't met my dad.

You would think that a normal-sized person who is capable of moving around in regular life should be capable of doing some mildly strenuous activities from time to time. But you would be surprised, carrying a 20-pound box up one flight of stairs and they are winded beyond belief. They can barely lift objects or confront obstacles even children would scoff at. They are on the lowest end of Super Weight.

Typically this ends up on certain characters to show that they have other priorities than hitting the gym, or it's just funny. Usually, sick or disabled people can escape this trope even if they're "weak" because they have an excuse, but this character does not. Compare This Loser Is You. If they're pathetically fragile, it's a case of being Made of Plasticine. Also compare Geek Physiques and Sickly Neurotic Geek, as geeks almost always have little muscle mass.

Often times present in Real Life because of a variety of diseases, infirmities, and disabilities that can cause this trope, a lot of which are not visually obvious. On a darker note, this has led to people being abused or even assaulted for parking in handicapped/disabled spaces when they "look" able-bodied.

If a character feels this way while exercising next to stronger characters, see Outclassed at the Gym.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Spandam is shown as this in One Piece despite being the leader of the Cipher Pol Assassins. While his subordinates are monstrously strong, it's noted that he's weaker than even an average mook Marine soldier.
  • Ranking of Kings: One of the challenges the protagonist Boji faces in qualifying for this trope while living in an environment that greatly values physical strength. He can't use a real sword because even those made for children are too heavy for him and the same can by said for a rock that a full grown adult could hold in a single hand. A flash-back to a fire that once happened in his kingdom shows Boji trying to help with the fire by pouring the contents of an adult-size dinking cup on the flames because it's the heaviest thing he can hold while it's full of water. Boji's father had him specifically because he acquired a magical means of siphoning the physical strength of others, but could only use it on blood relatives and didn't have any existing family.
  • Hikaru Gosunkugi of Ranma is a weakling, and not just in comparison with the super-strong martial artists that populate the setting. He's explicitly less athletic than the average Fūrinkan student, unable to maintain a brisk jog for long. This bites him in the ass with some of his ill-thought schemes, like during the Romeo & Juliet play where he manages to chloroform Akane... but proves unable to follow up by kidnapping her because he's not strong enough to drag her anywhere.
  • King is often this in The Seven Deadly Sins. One of the titular Sins, King is quite formidable when wielding a magical form-changing spear; but he is utterly useless in a fight when unarmed, losing in pathetic fashion to even the weakest of non-magical opponents.

    Comic Books 
  • Early Gaston Lagaffe strips portrayed Gaston as this (one strip had him training with ridiculously tiny weights), but his strength became more average later on. He's at least able to carry around a bowling bowl, or to lay his Exploding Closet down, shovel the contents in, and put it back upwards.
  • Inferior Five: Team leader Merryman, described as a 98-pound weakling... before he lost weight.
  • The Lucky Luke: story "Athletic city" starts with young man Chet being so light and weak he was unable to move forward against a strong headwind, couldn't lift anything heavy, and ended up inventing machines to serve breakfast in his place. On Luke's advice he puts his ingeniosity towards making training equipment, leading to him getting ripped in the span on one month and later on opening a gym.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Foxtrot, both Jason and Peter suffer from this, though it's more obvious with Peter who tries to work out and has delusions of being able to play sports with any degree of competence. Jason is 10 and can barely throw a baseball more than a few feet, while Peter is 16 and can't even gain weight no matter how much he eats.
    Jason: Pushups?
    Peter: Yes, pushups. Do you have a problem with that?
    Jason: I have a problem with your using the plural.
    Peter: I'll have you know I did three before you came in.
  • A common gag in Garfield with Jon. Whether it's lifting weights that are comically tiny or just trying to open a jar that Garfield has no trouble with, Jon struggles with most anything that requires physical exertion.
  • Softy Walter in the British Dennis the Menace was at one point so pathetic he was show to have been knocked unconscious by the slightest breeze from a butterfly's wings.

    Fan Works 
  • A Ranma fanfic that crossed over with the World of Darkness game world has wimpy Gosunkugi "ghouled", which doubles his strength. He still can't lift Cologne.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence has this distinction in Full Metal Jacket, being unable to do even one pushup or pull himself up over obstacle course walls.

    Gamebooks 
  • In Sorcery!, the fourth book, The Crown of Kings, shows you can get into a fight against a huge, ogre-like champion who lunges at you with an ax. You can choose to fight it, run from it, or cast a spell. If you choose to fight, to your surprise, he goes down automatically in one hit.

    Literature 
  • One Where's Wally? book features two builders who can't even lift a small rock between the two of them.
  • In Dante's Inferno, the diseased fraudsters at the bottom of Circle 8 are largely so weak, emaciated, or obese that they can't even move an inch in a century. Master Adamo is somehow all three, yet he wants to crawl inch by inch across eleven miles just in order to beat an old political rival damned with him.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: The protagonist's condition leaves her so physically weak that she struggles to do manual tasks that children the same age as her accomplish effortlessly. It sometimes becomes a source of self-deprecating humor because of her First-Person Smartass. Freida, a sufferer of the same condition who is about half a year older than her, lasts about as long as she does when mixing cake batter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Most of the male characters from The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon once ironically labeled Leonard as being "The Muscle" of the group, as while he is still not very strong he seems to make more of an effort towards exercise than the others. During a "Battle of the Sexes" wrestling match Penny ended up pinning Sheldon in about 5 seconds.
  • Steve Urkel is constantly presented as this in Family Matters. He once tried picking up an 8-year-old to set her on a counter and could barely get her there, wondering if she ate nails and bolts. He can also be picked up easily and is often manhandled by the most unassuming of characters. This is rather amusing because actor Jaleel White was really skinny when he was first cast but grew up into an athletic adult, making this an unintentional Muscles Are Meaningless in later seasons.
  • In Monk, Monk's Arch-Enemy Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck, an enormously fat criminal mastermind, suffers this fate at the end of his first episode—he tries to strangle Monk in rage, but he's too weak to close the six-inch gap between them (Monk even gets in a little gloating by deliberately leaning closer to Dale). It's justified in that Dale weighs in at over 800 pounds and hasn't been able to leave his bed in eleven years; while Stout Strength is definitely a trope, his immobility has caused all of his muscular strength and endurance to waste away.
  • J.D. from Scrubs. While maybe not excessively weak (he got through about 90 percent of a triathlon even though he didn't train) the show plays a lot of humor in the fact that Elliot and other Love Interests are significantly stronger than him. He once tried a shoulder bump against Dr. Cox and ended up hurting himself.
  • Despite his stoat, husky build, Woody from The Suite Life on Deck is presented in terrible shape and being unbelievably weak. In one episode he is effortlessly beaten by Alison in an arm-wrestling contest, a girl who Zack outright describes as "could fit in a keyhole" and boasts at only being "63 pounds". In another, it's revealed he can't actually get himself out of bed without a pully bar for support. Another time he punched Cody (himself presented as a scrawny nerd) the blow hurt his fist just as much if not more than it hurt Cody.
  • In Parks and Recreation, April Ludgate tries to push her way into a party past Anne Perkins, who is fairly petite, and is completely unable to do so. Anne, a nurse, wonders if she has an iron deficiency.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mac tends to be portrayed as this at his lowest. His crowning achievement is likely "Frank Retires", where his attempt to put a limp, nonresisting Charlie in a hold results in him exhausting and suffocating himself.

    Music 
  • In the music video for "Attitude City" by Ninja Sex Party, Danny attempts to weight-train with an improvised barbell made from a broom handle, which crashes into his chest as soon as the weights (two doughnuts) are added. Another shot in the same video has him running out of breath after jogging about 15ft.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Spike Dudley in WWE, a guy with 5'8" and 150 lbs., most known for being the third (and weakest) member of The Dudley Boys, being mostly defeatable material by any other wrestler. However, his WWE persona is a downplayed version of Spike in ECW, where he was known as a Weak, but Skilled wrestler, being known for making incredible moves and defeating giant opponents, known there as "The Giant Killer".
  • Other famous WWE examples are Hornswoggle, El Torito (also known as Mascarita Dorada in AAA and CMLL, also a midget as Hornswoggle) and recently James Ellsworth, who's a normal guy with a Small Name, Big Ego personality and being mostly defeated by women wrestlers.

    Video Games 
  • Cragne Manor: Naomi, as explained when she tries to take the bell out of a phonograph.
    It's heavy and you have tiny baby-person arms. Seriously they're like angel hair pasta. You tried to do a bicep curl once and your elbow folded the wrong way, and you weren't even holding a weight.
  • Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny: Cerberus likes to point out that before Zed went through many Super Reincarnations to get to where he is now, he was the weakest zombie out there. He was bullied all the time and had his limbs torn off for fun but he was too weak to fight back yet too nice to even go through with it. Even a level 1 Prinny could've beat him up easily. Zed going from being that weak to being able to put up a fight against the God of Destruction is the result of his effort and determination. He was the total opposite of what he was back when he was alive as a Majin, the template for the Gods of Destruction.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, M'zhet Tia is vying for the position of nunh in his tribe because he believes his father, the former co-nunh was chased out by the current nunh. The problem is that M'zhet is so incompetent at fighting that he doesn't even get the dignity of a solo duty when sparring with the Warrior of Light, going down in the span of a Smash Cut. Everyone around him can shove him around with ease and he's never shown winning a fight even after training himself to withstand (underpowered) grenades.
  • In Henry Stickmin Series, Reginald Copperbottom is unable to take on Henry Stickmin in a fight unless he has a significant advantage and even that doesn't always work. He pretty much always runs away from confrontation and relies on his Right Hand Man to do all of his fightings. And this is despite him being above average height and having a gun, which is immediately disarmed by Henry when they have to fight.
  • Zote from Hollow Knight is incredibly weak. Every time he faces any kind of threat he falls pathetically short and the player has the option to save him. Furthermore, if the player saves him twice, he becomes the final boss of the first trial of the Colosseum of Fools. Of course, his attacks deal no damage. Even the Hunter considers Zote to be too pathetic to kill:
    Hunter: Some rare creatures are so weak, so helpless, so inept and so irritating that hunting them gives no pleasure.
  • Monkey Island: In Escape from Monkey Island, when Guybrush has to qualify to enter the diving competition, one of the judges comments that "you'd have to be a palsy-ridden grandmother to fail." Later, when Guybrush shows the qualifying score to his competitor, the diver says that he's "seen palsy-ridden grandmothers with better scores."
  • Teddie from Persona 4 is initially so weak that the protagonist can knock him over with a light tap. He eventually gets stronger.
  • The Player is presented as this in Undertale. In the Pacifist route, Undyne gives the Player Character a cooking lesson, during which the player is instructed to punch a small assortment of vegetables in order to make some sauce. Even if they choose to punch as hard as they can, they only manage to knock over a tomato.
  • Sou is presented as this in Your Turn to Die. When Sara tries to forcibly take away a phone from Sou, she notes that his resistance is extremely feeble, and he quickly proves himself unable to open a cabinet door. In Your Time to Shine, he has the lowest fighting stat out of everyone in the cast, with even Gin, an elementary school student, being stronger than he is. Supplementary drawings has this aspect Played for Laughs by depicting him struggling to open a bottle and being blown away by a sneeze.

    Web Animation 
  • hololive: Despite being marketed as an "idol group", some of its members are comically lacking in stamina.
    • Marine gets tired entirely too quickly when doing dance routines, as seen when she attempts to practice with Matsuri and when she tries Coco's dance routine from her 3D debut. To rub salt in the wound, Matsuri asks Marine if she's a 40-year-old after needing to sit down in mere minutes of dancing.
    • Luna somehow manages to be even worse, getting worn out after a few seconds while playing a Dark Souls-like minigame during her 3D debut. Suisei's retrospective of that particular stream has her noting that Luna "runs out of breath immediately" and jokingly claims Luna looked like she was "going to die" after 10 minutes of simply standing up. Unsurprisingly, during Luna's first stream of Ring Fit Adventure, she was already worn out before even finishing the tutorial.
  • In the Strong Bad Email "Lady Fan", Strong Bad can't even do a single push-up.

    Webcomics 
  • Played with in Paranatural. During the game of hitball (basically dodgeball except one of the balls causes players to switch teams), Cody does phenomenally well when it comes to dodging, but when he fights with Isabel, she is surprised to find he's pathetically weak.
    Th-the heck?! This strength...!! Th-this guy is... a dweeb
  • In Poetry 4 Kids, the poem "Wendy Wise" involves a little girl who's so frail as a result of lack of exercise that she dies as the result of a feather landing on her.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In contrast to his physically active father, Steve Smith is so wimpy that when Francine tries to teach him how to fight, she gives up in violent frustration when he can't even ball a fist (after nearly two and a half hours of trying).
  • Beavis and Butt-Head are so weak they can't even lift a barbell without weights.note 
  • Gene is shown as this in Bob's Burgers. In the episode "Synchronized Swimming", the Belcher kids con their way out of gym class. Gene in particular asks "Who needs it?" before struggling and failing to push open an ordinary door.
    Gene: Huh. I need to exercise.
  • Duncanville: The eponymous Duncan is so weak that he can barely do a single sit-up and hold his breath for 4 seconds.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • Edd suffers from Geek Physiques so much that he can't even pick up and throw a football. He also has extreme difficulty in PE, such as not being able to do a simple sit up.
    • Jimmy "broke" his foot after a clothes peg lightly tapped it. In another episode, he's apparently so weak that he can't even move snow or make a snow angel without getting hurt.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: In a bid to take over the Underworld, Hecate creates a hulking abomination by stealing and combining the traits of numerous heroes. Ironically, despite its muscular appearance, the monster is unable to do something as basic as tearing off a piece of paper, inspiring its creator to target the super-strong Hercules as the next component.
  • Kamp Koral: SpongeBob. In "Hill-Fu", he's so bad at karate that even an adorable little bunny can effortlessly defeat him and slam him against the ground repeatedly.
  • Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, at the beginning of her Training Montage in the episode "Hurricane Fluttershy", loses at a tug-of-war match with a butterfly.
  • On one Pink Panther short, the Panther is selling strength potions on a Wild West town and one of his customers uses his newfound strength to rob banks. When the potion runs out, Pink gives him another potion that makes him weaker instead, so weak he can't even open the bank door; a little kid is not only able to open the door, but also knocks him down with barely a nudge.
  • In The Replacements, Shelton Klutzberry has an utterly scrawny figure and is shown to be unbelievably weak. At one point he is offended at the suggestion that he was too weak to have crushed Todd's robo-cat with his foot (which he didn't do, his offense more being everyone immediate assumption he wouldn't) and attempted to prove it by breaking an egg (seemingly believing it to be some sort of feat). First he wasn't strong enough to open the refrigerator door to get one, and when given one, he proves he really can't break it not even by jumping upon it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr. Burns varies between being about as strong as you would expect from an old man or so weak that he has great difficulty crushing a paper cup or that a single sponge placed on his head causes him to sink into a bathtub and nearly drown. This trait actually becomes a plot point in the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns" where Burns is completely unable to steal candy from baby Maggie and in the ensuing struggle the gun he was carrying went off. The way Burns screamed "get your hands off..." as he did added to the initial assumption that it was a bigger, nastier assailant.
    • Homer occasionally flits into this: while doing boxing training in "The Homer They Fall", he throws a punch so weak that it fails to kill a fly that landed on the mitt. Other times, he's written as more realistically out-of-shape or even having Stout Strength. A more consistent issue of his is very poor stamina, such that he's out of breath after running very short distances.
  • Depending on the Writer, SpongeBob SquarePants may fall into this. He is occasionally seen training with plush animals as weights, and once was barely able to lift a stick with two marshmallows stuck on it. Highlighted in the episode "MuscleBob BuffPants", where he wears Fake Muscles to look stronger but is unable to even lift an ordinary drinking glass, and after the fact his arm gets sore just flipping through TV channels on the remote. In other episodes like "Imitation Krabs" and "Can You Spare A Dime?", he can lift Mr. Krabs up no problem, while in episodes like "Karate Choppers" not only he's able to practice karate with Sandy, but to chop things in half with his bare hands!
  • Cameron from Total Drama struggles to keep his balance when a monarch butterfly lands on his head and is shown to weigh less than a doll in one scene.
  • In The Venture Bros., while The Monarch's butterfly-themed henchmen may seem the most likely candidates, they are routinely up against murder machine Brock Samson. The real prize goes to novice supervillain Augustus St. Cloud, whose one and only physical fight was with an octogenarian lady with arthritis who messed him up so bad he needed make-up to hide the bruises.
  • Woody Woodpecker: In "Under the Counter Spy", Woody needs a regular strength tonic in the morning; without it, he can't even squeeze toothpaste out of the tube. He accidentally takes a stolen Super Serum instead, which gives him Super Strength.

 
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Fang's Mongol Test

Fang goes through a Mongol test to demonstrate her strength, but she's so weak that even smaller things are stronger than her.

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