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Strength Equals Worthiness

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Suppose there's some great powerful being that you want on your side. It might be some magical or elemental creature, someone who's a really great fighter, or maybe something that you can summon. You seek it out and try to convince it to help you. Its reply? "You must first prove your worthiness by besting me in physical combat!"

Can be justified if Tell Me How You Fight is involved. May imply a Proud Warrior Race Guy like mentality or at least Spirited Competitor tendencies in the being in question.

When used in romantic terms, between an Amazon who wants Hercules and her Amazon Chaser, it's Best Her to Bed Her.

See also Asskicking Leads to Leadership, Might Makes Right. Related to Violence is the Only Option and Sister Trope to Defeat Means Friendship.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A variation in Fairy Tail, where the person is someone other than the one fighting. Elfman requires that anyone who wants to date his sister be capable of besting him physically, without magic.
  • In Ginga e Kickoff!!, Erika challenges Shou to a heading contest for the right to recruit her into his budding soccer team.
  • In Transformers: Cybertron, the Proud Warrior Race Guys of Jungle Planet believe this, and won't listen to the Autobots warning them about the need to save the universe until they prove themselves in combat. In the end, the heroes learn that sometimes you have to respect the cultures of others even when they don't make sense to you if you want to establish relations. (However, that's not to say their philosophy is portrayed as good. Their leader Scourge sides with the 'cons due to their superficially similar thinking, and it takes him much of the series to learn that he at least believed in things like fair play and honoring agreements back on Jungle Planet while Megatron lost his last shred of decency long ago. He sides with the Autobots for the final arc.)
    "Strength is what leads the masses, commands their respect! My strength united an entire world! Now it seems it's not enough?! Impossible! Strength will save my world! Strength must be enough! It must be! It's all I have!"

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Chrono Reflect, Standard Fluttershy eventually comes to believe this, thinking that if she makes herself strong nobody will ever look down on her for being weak again. Unfortunately, she takes things too far and becomes a bully.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar's Banshees revolve around this. Basically, when a hunter is deemed ready, they travel to a nest of Banshees, and try to form a bond with them. They know they've found the right banshee when it tries to kill them. If the hunter succeeds, the Banshee will ride with that hunter and only that hunter for the rest of its life.
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron the Avengers are having a drink and seeing who can lift Thor's hammer. Iron Man, Captain America etc. are unable to do so, and they float various theories, like microchips geared to Thor's fingerprints. He comes up with a simpler solution- they are all unworthy, which is met with jeers from the assembled group.

  • In the fourth GrailQuest book, Voyage of Terror, the protagonist Pip can meet with the god Hephaestus himself, who has just forged an enchanted breastplate which is the best armor in the whole game. Hephaestus offers to give it to Pip — but only if you best him in combat. You can refuse, as when he starts announcing his stats, it looks like a completely unwinnable fight. But the god is actually fair-play, and notably allows Pip to wear the breastplate before starting, and to give him the win if Hephaestus lose a set number of Hit Points (instead of his huge total).

  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Sweet Lord Of Light, is this ever averted. Power, particularly of the "raw strength/combat skill" variety, is never an indicator of competence, or even of peoples' respect. The best example is Robert Baratheon, who won the war with strength and charisma but became a terrible king because all he wanted to be was a warrior, a glutton and a pervert.
    • Another good example is Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain Who Rides. He is an eight-foot slab of muscle and psychopathy who wields a zweihänder the way most men wield a dagger and is perfectly capable of bisecting people and breaking a pike wall single-handedly. His greatest claim to fame is the rape and murder of a defenseless woman and her infant son, so everyone knows that in spite of his title he is nothing more than a hatchetman and most people hold the muck under their boots in higher regard.
  • Averted in the Hurog duology. Ward is very strong, but that is not what makes people follow him. Instead, he proves his worth by being Nice to the Waiter and caring about his country. As for supernatural beings, he earns the loyalty of a dragon by ... being a decent person. His father, who was likewise a giant of a man, was horrible.
  • The Executioner. In "Flesh Wounds", the contact for an Underground Railroad for political dissidents is a boxer who insists that anyone wanting to use his services get in the ring with him. Mack Bolan is able to hold his own, though it turns out the goal is not to defeat the boxer, but to convince him you have enough conviction for your ideals that you're willing to take a beating.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the Ramayana, King Janaka of Mithila offers his daughter's hand in marriage to any man who can draw the bow he got as a present from the god Shiva. The only one who can is Prince Rama of Ayodhya, who cracks it in half when he tries to fire it.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The Fey clan is a Matriarchy whose spiritual channeling is only held by women. Because of this, only the most powerful and experienced channeler from the family's main branch can rule Kurain Village. This led to a Big, Screwed-Up Family as jealous women tried backstabbing each other for power. The strong emphasis on their power also left their completely normal men deeply unappreciated, as they're forced to live outside the village and are only needed to give the Fey clan female heirs. As a result, Kurain Village has a high number of divorces.
    • Subverted in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney; while Phoenix won his poker game against Zak Gramarye (a rare outcome, as Zak pointed out), Zak was more concerned about Phoenix's play style. The previous attorney, Kristoph Gavin, had a dangerously ruthless streak that Zak noticed during that game.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • If you want to use Summon Magic, chances are you're going to have to fight the creature first — and they'll probably say something along the lines of "you need to prove your strength/worth!" too.
    • Both subverted and played straight in Final Fantasy VIII, as you have to draw most of the summons from bosses - and not the actual summons themselves. There are a few summons where this trope is played straight, though. However, one Guardian Force, specifically Bahamut, will challenge you to answer why you fight and seek strength, and only when you have given an answer that satisfies him will he actually fight you directly.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Frederick decides to test Lianna and Rowan's combat prowess to determine if they're worthy enough to receive the Shepherds' help.
  • Very annoyingly happens in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. You have to beat the infuriatingly skilled Hilary in a difficult race before he'll agree to be the getaway driver for your bank job. Not only is this mission possibly the hardest in the game, but Fridge Logic dictates that if you could beat him then you wouldn't need him to be your driver in the first place. Of course, none of that matters, because he dies during the job and you have to drive the getaway car anyway.
  • The sentient Sand Prince Gem in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is quite gung-ho about helping the player characters with his/its power, but demands that they first prove they can handle his/its power by fighting his/its spirit. Subverted with a hint of Fridge Horror when you meet his/its counterpart the Ice Queen Gem, who doesn't want to help you, who enslaves her/its would-be users, and whom you have to beat into submission before gaining the Upgrade Artifact form.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Gorons have become something of a Proud Warrior Race, and equate physical strength with strength of character. Therefore, they refuse to let you help until you beat them in a sumo match (which you win by cheating).
  • In Octopath Traveler, there are 12 shrines throughout the world, one for each god of the land, that unlock secondary hero classes. For the last 4 advanced classes, you have to prove your worth by fighting the gods guarding them as they use their respective class's skills on you. Only after beating them in battle will they give you their powers.
  • In Pokémon, catching Pokemon is based on this principle. Pokemon you obtain in a trade won't obey you until you possess the right gym badge since defeating a gym leader takes a lot of strength and skill, which would make you worthy in the Pokemon's eyes. It's even Enforced in Sword and Shield: getting a trainer badge increases the max level for Pokémon to listen to you, but also increases the max level of Pokémon you can catch. If you try to catch a level 36 Pokémon while you only have the Fire badge (which allows catching up to level 35), the Pokémon "won't let its guard down" and you don't even bother to throw a Poke Ball.
  • In The Reconstruction, Moke assumes this when he is told he will be put through a "test" by a mysterious stranger; he quickly objects, but it turns out the test is of a different nature.
  • The three Flute Guardians in Solatorobo operate on this principle, telling Red that if he can't solve their riddles, he must beat them in combat instead. Red, being Red, chooses to fight.
  • Star Ocean:
    • The game likes to rub your face in this trope. You have a set of trials to pass, including the Power and Courage trials. Power Trial? Defeat a boss, fair enough. Courage trial? Defeat a boss, to prove you have the power to back your courage! What the... The exact same boss, at that...
    • Star Ocean: The Second Story subverts it. When the party goes to get a Psynard, they're told they'll have to do this. Instead, they rescue it from another creature, and Claude then shows it mercy by refusing to fight it — and that convinces the Psynard to help them.
  • Pretty much the entire premise of unlocking characters in the Super Smash Bros. series (though, in Brawl, many are unlocked as you play through the campaign mode).
  • Subverted in Tales of Phantasia; The first five summons need to be fought before they'll join you, but when the party gets to Luna, they're ready to have a match with her ("We don't mind if you want to test our strength!") but she decides to simply join them without a fight. Also justified with Volt, who had gone berserk. Once you beat him into submission he calms down and becomes lucid again. (to a degree)
  • The Divine Danans in Treasure of the Rudra need to be defeated to "prove you're worthy of their knowledge". Justified with Meifa, who is already willing to ally with you, but in this case strength is a big deal, since they want to know if you're strong enough to defeat the Big Bad.
  • In Uncommon Time, the elemental spirits all want to "test" the party to determine if they're worthy of receiving the Grand Score. Naturally, this means a Boss Fight. Toward the end of the game, this is lampshaded as being a part of fairy culture.
  • In Yakuza 3, to use certain weapons you need a certificate, which you earn by defeating your weapons master while he, not you, is using said weapon.
    • This also describes series regular Goro Majima's mindset to a T. In his own words: "I don't take orders from weak shits".
  • World of Warcraft: In the Legion expansion, acquiring some of the artifact weapons works this way. Particularly the protection paladin weapon (a shield called Truthguard). You have to fight the previous wielder of it to prove you are worthy.

    Web Comics 
  • As a JRPG homage, Aetheria Epics features this as well (to gain the more powerful summons, Allete has to beat them in battle).

    Western Animation 
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, women are considered to be the dominant sex on Mewni because they tend to be stronger with magic, and they have the ability to turn into a powerful butterfly-like creature after undergoing a process called "mewberty". On the other hand, men can have magical abilities, but they're rather weak and unfocused. Because of this, only Queens can rule Mewni. The only way for men to gain power legally is they marry a Queen, and even they're considered lesser than the Queen herself. In supplementary material, it's revealed that Queen Skywynne attempted to subvert expectations by encouraging her son, Jushtin the Uncalcuated, to practice magic and naming him her heir to the throne so he can become a good king and a powerful mage like her. However, her subjects didn't like this, and they pressured her into having another child. Once Skywynne turned out to be pregnant with a girl, Jushtin was shortly forced to give up his claim to the throne, resulting in him having weaker innate magic compared to his female relatives.
  • In Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Lois Lane recruits the Suicide Squad to her resistance movement by beating Harley Quinn in a semi-regulated MMA fight.