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Strong Ants

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Vi: It must be rough picking up berries all day...
Leif: Ants are extremely strong, are we right?
Kabbu: Indeed. Objects even I would find heavy are quite manageable for them.
Leif: Then, this job must be like child's play to them.
Vi: This went from worst job to best job pretty quick... If you're an ant, at least.

Ants are able to carry several times their own body weight. In fiction, especially in cartoons, this is exaggerated for fun, making them able to carry a whole pie/banana/chicken/watermelon/whatever. Often, they'll steal some picnickers' food.

This sometimes applies to giant ants, in blatant defiance of the Square-Cube Law that itself is responsible for the fact that normal-sized ants have such good lifting abilities. Essentially, Hollywood Logic goes, "If normal ants can carry big loads despite their small size, huge ants can carry enormous loads!", whereas Real Life Logic goes, "Ants can carry relatively big loads because of their small size."

Ants are usually the only species to get this distinction, despite most small insects having similarly high relative lifting ability. In the most extreme cases, humans shrunk to ant size will recruit ants to do heavy lifting despite humans actually being better built for lifting proportional to their size.

Frequently overlaps with Ant Assault. Compare Tough Beetles.


    open/close all folders 

  • There's a Hard Yakka ad that features ants chanting the name as they carry away large food items.
  • In a Toyota commercial, a procession of ants carrying food items come to a highway. The sergeant-type leader spots an approaching car, but determines that it's "only" a Corolla (commonly considered to be Boring, but Practical) and that they should just keep on marching. Little did they realize that the Corolla now had an upgraded engine!
  • McDonald's has a super-strong ant as part of its "Funky Farm" character lineup.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Arachnid has a few ant-themed characters as dangerous antagonists.
    • Sara Kurokawa represents Army Ant queens. She is harmless on her own, but turns the entire student body of her school into mindless zombies for her to command. Her minions form barriers and chains to fight, and spread their condition by raping people.
    • Paraponera, named after the ants with stings that deal massive 24 hour-long pain, was an extremely aggressive and infamous mercenary who only lived for the sake of killing people in times of war. His upbringing of war orphan Dinoponera turned out oddly well, all things considered.
    • Dinoponera, named after the largest ant species (though her motifs are mixed up with her father's and most people have no idea what distinguishes the two "bullet ant" genera from each other), is a cute Genki Girl who wants friends. She's also a psychotic Lightning Bruiser of a Child Soldier who sees no value in anyone she deems weak and really enjoys torturing people with her poisonous stings and armored fists. She is consistently portrayed to be practically immune to blunt damage, and can knock out musclemen way larger than her in a single hit.
    • The Caterpillar spinoff has three boys based on green tree ants, and out of all the ant-based characters they're the ones shown to have abnormal grip strength thanks to being cloned in some fashion from Kabutomushi, a crazy-strong girl, and wearing a device on their hands that helps stick things to them.
  • The Chimera Ants from Hunter × Hunter. The Chimera Ant Queen eats other animals and crosses their DNA to born Mix And Match Critters. The Chimera Ants introduced in the series are human sized and the queen ate humans as well, so most Chimera Ants who appear in the story are humanoid animals who don't look like ants at all. Not only they have the traits of (strong) animals, they also gained the ability to control Nen, thanks to the human DNA, that makes them the most dangerous beings in the world. The queen's son, the Chimera Ant King, is the most powerful being ever until he's killed by a cruel, toxic, atom bomb-like bomb, The Poor Man's Rose: Miniature Rose.
  • Parodied in Yaiba with the Ant Soldier, the third guardian of the Pyramid: Emerald describes him as one of the strongest Soldiers ever produced, with a body harder than diamond and herculean strength, capable of lifting weights several times bigger then him. Upon opening the room's door we see the Soldier welcoming Yaiba with a huge throw boulder... only to reveal that the Ant Soldier, while hard and strong, is also small, barely the size of Yaiba's foot. After an awkward pause, the group walks around him and proceed to the next door, while the poor guy begs them to wait.]]

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • Referenced in Antz, where the protagonist Z mentions he's one of the weakest ants, as he's barely able to lift 10 times his weight.
  • The heroic black ants in Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants spend the first half of the movie carrying a large box of sugar cubes to their anthill. Once the box is rendered unusable after crashing into some rocks, one of them carries a comically disproportionate amount of cubes (six, while the others have one each).
    • The sequel features ladybugs able to singlehandedly lift apples into the air.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens in a horrifying manner in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where a horde of carnivorous ants carries an unfortunate Soviet soldier into their nest. While colonies of ants are known to carry large prey back home, an entire human being getting dragged head-first into an ant nest is a bit much.
  • The kids recruit an Ant to help them in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids after specifically citing their lifting strength. This being despite the fact that their using the Ant to pull them like a horse, not lift them, which ants are not at all built for, and that humans who were the size of ants would likely be stronger then ants anyways (if you ignore the inevitable death that shrinking a human to ant size would cause in real life).
  • Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp have Scott using his powers and some helpful nanotechnology to control Strong Ants. Semi-realistic in that he still needs a large swarm of them to carry anything that's large enough to be useful when he's full-size.

  • Animorphs:
    • The Animorphs once turn into ants to steal a tiny component of Yeerk tech for Ax, comparing the ants carrying the thing to three people carrying a bus. It is unpleasant.
    • The series also acknowledges the Square-Cube Law when three of the gang are shrunk to ant-size by the minuscule alien race of Helmacrons. They find that they can now lift relatively huge objects (Tobias, now a hawk their size, believes he might be able to carry one of them).
  • Mark Twain once wrote in a story that although ants are very strong, they're also very stupid.
  • It is mentioned more than once in the Discworld series that while it is well known that an ant can lift many times their own body weight, there is no known limit to the lifting power of the average peasant grandmother.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Eyewitness episode about insects, there is a segment about ants. In it, they are shown carrying various pieces of food, including one lucky ant who gleefully carries a big slice of cake!
  • On My Name Is Earl, Randy muses about ants being able to lift things, and how they must be so ripped and get laid a lot. This inspires Earl, who is temporarily broke after being let out of prison and married to Billie, and needs to get Joy's trailer up after he tipped it over on a bender. He enlists the help of other people in Camden, who would never have done anything like that for him before he did The List.
  • One episode of Power Rangers Turbo has Justin getting bitten by a radioactive ant, and he gains Super-Strength proportional to it. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of not being able to morph, so he gives it up.
  • Mentioned during one clip on World's Dumbest... — when a man in a nightclub lifts a much larger woman, Brad wonders out loud if the man's partially a carpenter ant.

In Neil Cicierega's song "Spiral of Ants" off of Spirit Phone there is the line of "Lift up and carry your weight"

    Video Games 
  • In the game Anthill you can have your ants bring gems back to the anthill, something that's probably too heavy for real ants to pick up.
  • In Bug Fables, the characters meet several ants who can carry huge stuff around without displaying any sign of stress, such as Amber, the Ant Storage Service worker who carries the explorers' possessions around inside a huge bag on her back, and the ant farmers who carry huge baskets full of weighty berries. In fact, the strength of ants is noted in the Spy dialogue on one of the ant farmers; in it, the team notes that even things Kabbu would find too heavy to carry, ants can carry with ease.
  • Gravity Antonion from Mega Man X8. Besides being a Gravity Master, he can also create large metal boxes that are about 4-5 times his size, pick them up from below, and throw them at the player!
  • Fifth-gen Pokémon include Durant, which is quite powerful, quite durable, and also a Steel-type, so pretty much the only thing that works against it at all is fire. Naturally, there's a fire-spewing anteater Pokémon in the same dungeon (Heatmor, for those keeping track) which, according to the Pokédex, does indeed feed on Durant.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ant and the Aardvark, by the makers of The Pink Panther cartoon series.
  • Taken to extremes with The Atom Ant Show.
  • Some Donald Duck cartoons have this trope, including one in which a whole colony of ants comes and picks up a sleeping Donald and carries him away.
  • Launchpad McQuack of DuckTales (1987) and Darkwing Duck fame isn't impressed by this: "Who cares? Anybody could lift 10 times an ant's weight."
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In one episode, Ed ends up releasing all 5239 ants in Double D's ant farm, much to the latter's horror. They are later seen taking a tub of ice cream and a spoon.
  • On The Flintstones episode "The Snorkasaurus Hunter", Wilma and Betty had a picnic which was invaded by ants. The ants march to the tune of the Colonel Bogey March as they abscond with all the food except for one olive. note 
  • In the Looney Tunes short Ballot Box Bunny, Bugs tries to woo voters by hosting a picnic. His opponent, Yosemite Sam, releases a package of "Assorted Picnic Ants" to spoil it.
    • More relevant to this trope, the foods are carried off by groups of ants— except for a watermelon being held by a single determined ant.
    • Friz Freleng liked this trope: it shows up not only in Ballot Box Bunny but also 1947's The Gay Anties.
  • Sesame Street:
    • An animated insert had a woman laying out a picnic of "p" foods (pumpkin, pot roast, etc.). Unknown to her, ants carried the foods away as she took them out of the basket. At the end, a group of ants carry the woman away.
    • In another Sesame Street sketch, the Count counted the ants that invaded his picnic and took his food away.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Fraducast News", after Mr. Burns projects a laser of Lisa kissing Milhouse on the moon, he says it's "as easy as crushing an ant". He then tries to actually step on an ant to prove his point, only for the ant to grab his foot and topple him over. In this case, the gag is more to make fun of Burns's comical weakness than highlighting the ant being ridiculously strong.
    Mr. Burns: (frightened) Take my wallet and leave me alone!
  • Three Tom and Jerry shorts (Cat Napping, Pup on a Picnic and Barbecue Brawl) have ants who are not only strong but whose synchronized marching can set up destructive vibrations.
  • Discussed in The Venture Bros. by Dr. Entmann.
    Dr. Entmann: And let me tell you somethin' about ants! You know that whole "Ants can lift a hundred times their own weight" thing? It's a myth! Think about it. What's an ant weigh? Like, nothin'. What's nothin' times a hundred? ...It's nothin'!
  • Ant of WordWorld is very strong.


Video Example(s):


Moving Lindsay

When Lindsay doesn't walk down the aisle, Tchotchke summons ants to move the shoe and keep Shel from being disappointed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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