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Speed, Smarts and Strength

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"The world's first bionic super humans, they're stronger than us. Faster. Smarter."
Lab Rats, Title Sequence

For a Fighting Series, the way characters fight can be rounded down to 3 general styles: One who fights with brute force (the Strength), one who fights by swift attacks and moving quickly (the Speed), and one who fights with his wits and intelligence (the Smarts). Individually, they're The Big Guy, The Sneaky Guy, and The Smart Guy.

For a Role-Playing Game especially (though this can be found in other games, naturally), this can form a common Three-Stat System, where characters/jobs will specialize in one of the three.

These characters will often form a Big, Thin, Short Trio, in which the big one is almost invariably the strength.

Compare with Fighter, Mage, Thief, which may overlap with this (The fighter uses strength, the mage uses smarts and the thief uses speed). Compare Force and Finesse, where Force represent Brawn while Finesse can mean either Speed or Brains. Compare also Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth, where the three qualities of this trope are used in not just combat situations. Compate Beauty, Brains, and Brawn, which is basically this trope but with beauty instead of speed, and Balance, Speed, Strength Trio.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • There's the key players in Hakushuu Dinosaurs: Marco (the captain) as the brains, and his two trusted friends, Kisiragi (the speed; specializing in snatching the ball away and running) and Gaoh (the brawn; among the best linemen in Japan, often called a "dinosaur").
    • The core three members of the Deimon Devil Bats at the start of the story, Sena, Hiruma, and Kurita, embody Speed, Smarts, and Strength respectively. Sena is an absurdly gifted runner who can keep up with top-level NFL players, but is so small and scrawny that he struggles to tackle or shrug off being tackled. Hiruma is the smartest person on the Devil Bats and formulates all of their strategies as the quarterback. Kurita is a massive and powerful linebacker, but his frame makes him slow and lumbering and he leaves all the thinking to Hiruma.
  • The main Power Trio of Inazuma Eleven GO consists of: Tenma, whose speed is incorporated in most of his special techniques, Tsurugi, the hard-hitting Ace Striker, and Shindou, the strategic game maker.
  • In Log Horizon, the protagonist Shiroe is The Strategist and brains, his Bromantic Foil Naotsugu is The Tank and thus brawn, and their new friend Akatsuki is a Ninja and thus speed.
  • Ranma ½ has Ranma, Ryōga and Mousse. Ranma is the fastest of the group and usually wins his fights by avoiding their more dangerous attacks and getting in more hits than the other guy. Ryōga is the strongest of the group and usually wins his fights by soaking most of the damage and dealing out large scaled powerful techniques. Mousse is the smartest of the group and usually wins his fights by planning them out in advance and fighting dirty.
  • One Piece follows this dynamic within the Monster Trio, with Luffy being the Speed, Zoro is the Strength, and Sanji is the Smarts.

    Comic Books 
  • Young Justice: The original Young Justice team consisted of Impulse who is part of The Flash family and has Super-Speed, Robin (Tim Drake) who is part of the Batman family and exceptionally smart and Superboy (Conner Kent), who is a clone of Superman and thus super-strong. The three also formed a Freudian Trio as noted by Red Tornado in the very first issue of the series.
  • The Flash: The New 52 series introduces more dimensions like the Speed Force that power different powersets. First is the Strength Force, which makes channelers hulk out, granting super strength, control over earth, gravity powers and density powers. The other is the Sage Force, which grants super intelligence and a wide variety of telepathic powers.
  • Bamse: Bamse is well-known for being the strongest bear in the world. Lille Skutt has speed as his greatest skill. Skalman is very smart and wise and a gifted inventor.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Angry Birds Movie: Red, who is the most sensible and the one who comes up with the plans, is the smarts; Chuck, who can run incredibly fast, is the speed; and Bomb, who is The Big Guy and can make explosions, is the strength.
  • In Puss in Boots, Humpty Dumpty's Dream Team for the Cloud Castle heist consists of himself (brains), Puss (brawn), and Kitty (skill). Technically, both Kitty and Puss are great fighters but Kitty is consistently shown to be a tick faster.

  • In Deltora Quest, the core trio has Lief as the strategic leader who uses his mind, Barda as the brute strength, and Jasmine as the most agile and nimble member.
  • The Princess Bride: The trio of baddies who kidnap Buttercup is initially comprised of Vizzini (the mastermind, representing Smarts), Fezzik (a giant strongman, representing Strength), and Inigo (a master fencer, representing Speed).

    Live Action — TV 
  • Arrowverse: The Trinity is comprised of this:
    • Barry Allen/The Flash is the resident speedster who serves as Speed.
    • Oliver Queen/Green Arrow who is the Badass Normal tactician serves as Smarts.
    • Kara Danvers/Supergirl is a Flying Brick who serves as Strength.
  • Lab Rats: The Lab Rats is also comprised of this:
    • Adam Davenport is the Super Strong one of the siblings and despite being the oldest he is not the most bright of them on most occasions.
    • Bree Davenport is the Super Fast one of the siblings. She is also the middle child and only girl who is in between smart and dumb.
    • Chase Davenport is the Super Intelligent of the siblings, the youngest and the most arrogant of them.

    Video Games 
  • The Cheetahmen from Action 52 have this dynamic. As their comic book would go into more detail on, Aries is the smallest and most nimble, Apollo spent much of his upbringing reading books and learning all about the ways of the world, and Hercules has the most raw strength.
  • BlazBlue: Among the "3 Stooges of Torifune", Noel emphasizes speedy attacks and unpredictability, Tsubaki the book smart uses her special tome "Izayoi" to store power, and Makoto uses her sheer strength to deliver hard punches.
  • In Blue Port J: Summer Sky Prelude, the three girls you control will either start with or gain abilities based on this dynamic. Honomi's skill is dolphin kicking for faster swimming, Chie's skill is pushing heavy underwater blocks for puzzle-solving, and Kokono's skill is Item Crafting. Near the end of the game, Kokono also gains the ability to see invisible numbers scattered throughout the island, numbers that can be used on the final big level puzzle in the game.
  • Out of the main bandicoot trio in the Crash Bandicoot series, Crash is generally depicted as the most dexterous and agile, while Coco is the tech genius, and Crunch is the powerhouse.
  • In Defense of the Ancients, the characters are grouped based on one of the three stats they're focusing on: Strength, Intelligence or Agility.
  • In the Bloodmoon expansion of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Final Boss will ask the player which of these qualities they would favour the most, then assumes a different form based on their response.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The 3 attack card types go like this - Quick are weak but speedy attacks that drop a lot of Critical Hit stars (which are required for scoring crits), Arts are controlled, medium-powered attacks that help charge the Noble Phantasm gauge, and Buster attacks are strong attacks that deal high raw damage but only drop few critical stars and do not fill the NP gauge at all. Thusly, characters who focus on Quick attacks (especially Assassin-class) are the speedy attacker types, those who focus on Arts attacks (especially Caster-class) are brainy/skilled types, and those who focus on Buster attacks (especially Berserker-class) are brawny/brutish types.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: The three protagonists play like this - Ventus relies on high speed movements and moving around the enemy attacks, Aqua is the intelligent mage that attacks with wide area magic, and Terra conquers oppositions with his sheer strength.
  • Kirby: Squeak Squad: Beyond Daroach, The Leader of the Squeaks, there's Spinni, the fast and agile Ninja, Storo, the huge Dumb Muscle, and Doc, the Squeaks' brainy Gadgeteer Genius.
  • Mega Man X2: The X-Hunters are a Terrible Trio consisting of Serges, the smart professor-like robot, Agile the lean speedy robot, and Violen, the huge, strong robot.
  • In Path of Exile, the three core attributes are Dexterity, Intelligence, and Strength, so a Player Party consisting of a Ranger, a Witch, and a Marauder (classes associated primarily with those respective attributes) fills in all three roles nicely.
  • Pokémon X and Y: The fully-evolved starters mix this trope with Fighter, Mage, Thief. The Water/Dark-type Greninja is Speed, the Fire/Psychic-type Delphox is Smarts and the Grass/Fighting-type Chesnaught is Strength.
  • The Quest for Glory series makes use of this in combination with Fighter, Mage, Thief. While each class can Stat Grind all of their abilities and skills to the maximum level for that game, each class has one main stat that gets focused on, and is easier to level up, than the others. For the Fighter and Paladin it's Strength, the Thief has Agility, and the Magic User has Intelligence. This is also reflected in the gameplay for the solution to many puzzles: The Fighter primarily uses brute force and feats of strength, the Thief relies on his speed and agility, and the Magic User a clever application of spells, (for example to break into the Brigand Fortress in the first game, the Fighter simply bashes the door down, the Thief climbs over the wall, and the Magic User casts a spell) with many of the solutions set specifically based on class.
  • Sly Cooper: Sly is the agile thief, Bentley is the Gadgeteer Genius, and Murray is the Boisterous Bruiser.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Appears with the three main characters - Sonic the fastest, Tails the Gadgeteer Genius and Knuckles the strongest. Made the core game mechanic of Sonic Heroes, with "Flight" replacing "Smarts."
    • The Babylon Rogues from Sonic Riders consist of Jet, the speed-obsessed leader, Wave, the tech-savvy genius, and Storm, the Dumb Muscle.
  • Warcraft III: The game uses three stats for its heroes, which increase damage if it's the main one: Strength (increases health and regeneration), Agility (increases armor and attack speed), and Intelligence (increases mana and regeneration). They don't affect the damage of the heroes' spells, but most custom maps do so in order to increase their usefulness. While only one of the four factions (the Horde) has all three types, the expansion allows the hiring of mercenary heroes to round it out.
  • In Warframe, the three starting Warframes: Volt, Mag, and Excalibur have this dynamic. Volt is Speed, ramping up his speed dramatically to Bullet Time and strikes first thanks to his ability to produce massive bursts of Chain Lightning. Mag is Smarts, manipulating enemy positioning and stripping them of their armor before turning their own weapons against them. Excalibur is Strength, being the melee-oriented Master Swordsman who can produce a sword made of energy that can fire Sword Beams.

  • In Demon Fist, Shaise, Crag and Dither (the three demons that live in Rory's arm) fit this to a T. Shaise is blindingly fast, Crag is huge and can hit extremely hard, and Dither is easily the smartest and most thoughtful of the four.

    Western Animation 
  • The Backyardigans episode "The Legend of the Volcano Sisters" gives us the Luau brothers Tyrone the Strong, Pablo the Swift, and Austin the Smart.
  • The Powerpuff Girls has Bubbles as the fastest (particularly proven during her race with E-Male in the episode, "Members Only"), Blossom as the Child Prodigy, and Buttercup as the toughest fighter.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy has it’s titular trio, Eddy is speed, Double D is Smarts & Ed is strength.
  • Quack Pack: When Huey, Dewey, and Louie get superpowers in the first episode they become The Really Incredibly Fast Guy (Super-Speed), Brain-Boy (super intelligence and psychic powers), and Captain Muscle (Super-Strength) respectively. Invoked in their theme song The T-Squad has 'muscles, brains, and speed to spare'
  • The Power Trio of Filmation's series Space Sentinels are composed of Hercules, a Nordic blond male with tremendous strength; Mercury, an Asian male with phenomenal speed; and Astrea, and African female with pleomorphic powers. Since Astrea, in most of her forms, is still the most vulnerable of the three, she's also an excellent tactician.
  • Beast Machines features a villainous version in Thrust (smarts), Jetstorm (speed), and Tankor (strength)