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Sickly Prodigy

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This character is extremely skilled in a fight, often applying brains over brawn in order to win with little effort. However, when pushed too hard he may collapse in a coughing fit, or pass out post-battle. He may find it hard to train, as he has to take it easy, but his talent allows him to keep up with other characters.

This may be caused by a weak immune system and frequent sicknesses that sap his strength, a single disease such as consumption or epilepsy, or just being born with a weak body (such as a malformed heart).

This character might depend on Waif-Fu and is likely to be a Fragile Speedster. Expect him to be Weak, but Skilled and said to possess The Gift.

A common occurrence would be for this character to be ambushed because of his weak appearance, then fight off his attackers, only to collapse after the fight has ended

It is a subtrope of Handicapped Badass. If this character is old then they may be Feeling Their Age. They may or may not be a Teen Genius or a Child Prodigy.


Anime & Manga

  • In Fist of the North Star, Toki is a master of Hokuto Shinken whose skills in their prime actually surpassed both Kenshiro and Raoh. However, when the bombs fell, he ended up outside of shelter (he was closing the doors for other survivors), resulting in him contracting radiation poisoning. Consequently, he has white hair, and his abilities declined enough that he abdicated his position as the master of Hokuto Shinken for his brothers.
  • Captain Ukitake from Bleach. Even though he's one of the most powerful Soul Reapers, his illness seems to prevent him from fighting for very long, and he appears to lapse into coughing fits at inopportune moments.
  • Suekichi Kaneda in Kengan Ashura. Despite an ability to read fighters that allows him to pull off Combat Clairvoyance, his weak body keeps him from excelling.
  • Kurogane Hiroto in Kurogane (2011). Because of his weak body Hiroto was always the worst at sports. But when he takes up kendo his excellent eyesight allows him to avoid being hit by his opponents. At one point he faints because he's unused to the weight on the kendo armor. Waiting to see if he can strengthen his body or not.
  • Naruto:
    • Kimimaro is dying from an incurable disease which should have left him unable to move let alone fight, yet has no problem taking on a Kyuubi-empowered Naruto, Lee, and Gaara. The only reason he fails to deliver a death blow to the latter two is that his body simply gives out mid-strike.
    • Also applies to Itachi, who contracts the Incurable Cough of Death at some point after leaving Konoha. He seeks medical treatment so that he can meet up with Sasuke again, in hopes that the latter would kill him in battle. While Itachi does die in a battle with Sasuke, it's from overexertion, not the direct result of anything Sasuke does.
  • Kashitarou in Gamaran. So weak he can't swing a full katana, he uses a wakazashi instead and focuses on extreme control of his movements, in particular eliminating wasted movements.
  • Buso Renkin: Koushaku Chouno was a Teen Genius who excelled at studying until his Incurable Cough of Death resulted in him twice being held back a year at school and disinherited by his family. In an effort to cure himself, Chouno took up alchemy and eventually became the superpowered homunculus known as Papillon with a near-immortal body and is capable of stabbing his hand straight through an opponent's body. As the transformation wasn't complete, however, Papillon is still physically frail and coughing, despite his inhuman abilities.
  • Izumi from Fullmetal Alchemist, despite her insistence to the contrary, is a powerful alchemist and all-around badass who famously survived for a month in the frozen wastes of Briggs by raiding the military outpost there for supplies. However, she lost several of her internal organs to the Portal of Truth when she attempted human transmutation in order to resurrect her baby; she's still no less badass than before, but tends to break down coughing up blood if she exerts herself for too long. In the first anime, she dies in between the end of the series and The Movie; in the second series and the manga, Ed and Al's father Hohenheim gives her an "alchemy punch" of sorts that cannot restore her lost organs, but does stop the bleeding more or less permanently.
  • Li Xingke from Code Geass, said to be the equal of The Chess Master Lelouch in intelligence, and the equal of Suzaku Kururugi in combat prowess. He can pilot a physically demanding Knightmare Frame despite having the Incurable Cough of Death, but doing so worsens his condition.


  • The Elric Saga: Elric of Melnibone is physically frail and weak, requiring him to depend on either herbal medicine or his Life Draining sword Stormbringer for the strength necessary to fight. However, when he has the strength he's an excellent fighter.
  • The Infernal Devices: Jem is addicted to a drug that kills him slowly but the withdrawal will kill him if he doesn't take it. So he takes as little as possible, but as the drug also gives him energy this causes him to appear very frail. Yet he is more than capable of fending for himself against the demons he frequently encounters.
  • The Dragonlance series of books has Raistlin, at least when he's human in the earlier books. Ridiculously powerful mage from a very early age, but also sickly and prone to coughing up blood.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School series has Minoru, who was born out of incest for the purpose of Superpowerful Genetics. His magic is actually too strong to be contained by his body: he can cast very powerful spells, but even so he spends a third of his life bedridden, and has no physical ability to dodge or fight off a non-magical opponent. He is extremely bitter about this, and ditches his "family" at the first opportunity he gets.


  • Subverted in The Breaker: while Shi Woon originally has such bad ki circulation that he can't exercise without fainting, the Applied Phlebotinum fixes his health issues.

Tabletop Games

  • Teclis in Warhammer Fantasy is one of the greatest mages on the planet, but is extremely squishy, requiring potions just to stay alive. His frailty is caused by a Hereditary Curse that manifests differently in each member of his ancestor's bloodline.

Video Games