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Strong Girl, Smart Guy

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Virtually everyone loves badass female characters. Whether they are an Amazonian Beauty, a Lady of War, a Glacier Waif, or a Kick Chick, it's immense fun watching an Action Girl at work. However, she can't be good at everything, as that would end up rather boring.

If a writer wants to give an Action Girl a partner in asskicking or even a Love Interest, but wants him to be more than just a Satellite Character, he can be given a skill set that complements her combat prowess, making him the smart guy. He needn't be a Non-Action Guy or a full on Nerd Action Hero, but he is defined far more by his intellect than his fighting abilities. In short, another take on The Smart Guy and The Big Guy (or in this case, The Big Gal).

May coincide with Female Fighter, Male Handler, Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl; Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy; or Action Girlfriend.

If he is a Badass Bookworm or Minored in Ass-Kicking, they might be a Battle Couple. If she's a policewoman or a detective, and his intellect tends to manifest as snark, they're a Female Flatfoot and Snarky Guy.

A Sister Trope to Brains and Brawn and Sub-Trope to Brains Versus Brawn. While not a direct inversion, contrast Male Might, Female Finesse.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • To everyone's surprise, Ciel Phantomhive and Elizabeth Middleford from Black Butler—the latter having turned out to have Implausible Fencing Powers while the former was always known to have been The Chessmaster.
  • Bakuman。 has Akito Takagi, who used to be the best student in his class before he became a mangaka alongside Moritaka Mashiro, get together with Kaya Miyoshi, an athletic but not too bright girl.
  • Black Lagoon: The heroine Revy is a tough girl who scores with criminal organizations on daily basis, while her partner Rock is her group's negotiator who helps them communicate with "business partners" peacefully, and is an ace of psychological play and sweet-talking.
  • Case Closed: Shinichi Kudo and his Childhood love-interest Ran Mouri. The former is a soccer ace, but is more well-known for his brilliant deductive abilities. The latter is a karateka who is able to punch through concrete.
  • This is the modus operandi of the fratello units in Gunslinger Girl: the young girls are augmented combat cyborgs, while their handlers are older men who, while generally no slouches themselves, mostly stick to directing the girls' fighting skills and conducting negotiations.
  • Hungary and Austria from Hetalia: Axis Powers.
  • Nanoha and Yuuno had this dynamic during the second half of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Nanoha is by no means stupid, but her primary skill lies in offensive magic, while Yuuno is an archaeologist who's talented with support magic but has virtually no offensive capabilities. Later seasons would see Yuuno be Demoted to Extra as Mr. Exposition, since he works as an academic while Nanoha becomes a combat instructor for the TSAB.
  • Shikamaru and Temari of Naruto are close friends with each other and they eventually end up as husband and wife. The former has an IQ of 200 and fights with deep tactics, utilizing his Shadow Pin technique to take control of his opponent's body, and his techniques are used more for submission or incapacitation rather than doing heavy damage. The latter is a girl of strong personality and fights by blowing massive cutting winds at her opponents to overwhelm them.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets features a somewhat realistic example. Male lead Fuutarou Uesugi is a straight-A student whose physical capacities are below average, while the quintuplet he eventually marries is Yotsuba, who is the most athletic among her sisters, but also the one who struggles the most with her studies.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • There's a villainous example: Dr. Tomoe is reputable science authority in his civil form, but in secret he is a mad scientist that uses Fantastic Science to summon an evil inter dimensional god. Said god possessed his daughter Hotaru, who became insanely powerful but doesn't truly rely on logic.
    • Usagi and Mamoru is also an example. Usagi is Book Dumb and childish (particularly early on in their relationship). Mamoru goes to medical school (K.O. University School of Medicine), gets to go to Harvard for a semester in Stars, although he never arrived, and the only one whose signature attack in canon isn't only Gratuitous English but also a Hurricane of Puns. note  However, she's the one who wields world-saving/shattering power, while he's her emotional support.
    • Usagi is also the Strong Girl to her brother Shingo's Smart Guy. Usagi is an Action Girl who ends up rescuing her brother a few times, while Shingo gets good grades and makes fun of Usagi for being Book Dumb.
  • SPY×FAMILY: Loid Forger, aka Twilight, is the greatest spy of the country, using his high intelligence, incredible observation skills, and impeccable disguises to deceive his targets and eliminate any threat that may lead to war. His wife Yor, on the other hand, is something of a clueless ditz, but she's also a professional assassin with the strength of an elephant and the ability to single-handedly slay terrorist groups.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX features muscular gal Tania falling in love with brainiac Bastion. Though Tania forces Bastion to be her boyfriend at first, the two eventually develop genuine feelings for each other.

    Comic Books 
  • Amulet: Emily and Trellis, whenever they are paired together in a scene. Emily relies more heavily on action and her agressive power while Trellis serves more as exposition and support.
  • Batman: When Cass came to Bludhaven to help out Tim, Batgirl and Robin had this dynamic.
  • Black Panther: The Black Panther is one of the best fighters of Marvel but he's also one of the most intelligent and strategical, while Storm is an Omni-Level Mutant and Physical Goddess with Superpower Lottery.
  • Fantastic Four: Mister Fantastic is a genius in nearly every field while Invisible Woman has been repeatedly noted to be the most powerful of the Fantastic Four.
  • Inferior Five: The parody comic featured Dumb Bunny, a superheroine described as "strong as an ox and almost as intelligent", and Merry Man, the 98-pound weakling son of the world's two most powerful heroes who used his intelligence to to survive as a costumed hero. They were teammates and an on-again-off-again romantic couple.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: Brainiac 5 is a 12th-level intellect, meaning he's one of the bigger geniuses in the galaxy. His longest romantic partner is Supergirl, one of the strongest beings in the galaxy.
  • New Gods: Mister Miracle uses his genius intellect and various gadgets to become the world's greatest escape artist. His wife, Big Barda, is an Amazonian Beauty who was once the head of the Female Furies, an elite squad of female warriors.
  • Teen Titans: Nightwing and Starfire if paired up. He's a highly skilled fighter but is also a trained strategist while she's an alien with firebolts, super strength, super durability, and flight.
  • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman, one of the most powerful superheroes and her well-known love interest, Steve Trevor, an ordinary human who also happens to be an intelligent, crafty spy.
  • X-Men: Cyclops is known for being a manipulative strategist and Jean Grey is one of the most powerful psychics in the world, especially when possessed by the Phoenix Force.

    Fan Works 
  • Fuzzboy Total Pokemon Series: Tempest is easily the strongest contestant across the entire series, and yet she's in a happy relationship with Zetsu, resident geek and known potential genius.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Brainiac 5, supreme scientist, inventor and tactician, gets romantically involved with Laurel Kent, a physically powerful Kryptonian hybrid.
  • Son of the Sannin, aside from the canon couple of Shikamaru and Temari, has the following:
    • Jiraiya and Tsunade are a downplayed example. He's far from a wimp, and she's far from unintelligent, but Jiraiya is somebody who specializes in ninjutsu, seals, spying and intelligence gathering, while Tsunade is better known for relying in her Super-Strength in combat, despite also being a prodigial medic.
    • Shino Aburame and Fu are a straighter example. He has a sharp and analytical mind, and prefers to fight from a distance using his clan's kikai beetles, while she's an overly excitable Amazonian Beauty with Super-Strength on par with Tsunade (granted by being Chomei's jinchuriki) who mostly fights in close combat (even if she's no stranger to ninjutsu).
  • Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus has the Girly Bruiser Chloe Cerise and Child Prodigy Yuri Ichiro. Downplayed on Chloe's side as she is not an idiot and has extensive knowledge of demons and has a creative mind, but most of her achievements on the Infinity Train are her tackling everything head on with a pipe. Meanwhile, Yuri is known for his analytical mind and solving puzzles. This is best seen in the Boutique Street Car arc: while Chloe sets off to fight Gentleman Thief Indigo, Yuri is the one trying to figure out his riddle through the Calling Card.

    Films — Animated 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Kida and linguist/explorer Milo Thatch. She's defended the borders of Atlantis for thousands of years, while he's the first person to accurately pinpoint the sunken city in centuries.
  • The Croods have Eek and Guy. She's a Neanderthal, with enough strength to wrestle creatures five times her size, while he is a Cro-Magnon, who knows how to make fire and always has a new idea to try out.
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • Astrid and Hiccup. She was the most promising young dragon hunter in Berk. He was the first viking to befriend a dragon and, in doing so, became Awesome by Analysis.
    • Even in the second movie, she's the best dragon rider in Berk, while he spends his days inventing and exploring.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Going from rivals in the first movie to best friends and confidantes in the second, Po and Tigress fit this trope. She is the leader of the Furious Five and the fiercest fighter in the Valley of Peace. He is an Ascended Fanboy with an encyclopedic knowledge of kung fu history and trivia, along with the ability to learn new techniques incredibly quickly (at least when properly motivated).
  • Minions: Supervillainess Scarlet Overkill is proficient in Waif-Fu, can take on dozens of foes at once, and has a penchant for armored dresses armed with missiles. Her husband, the evil, but chill, Herb is a prolific inventor, makes all of Scarlet's gear and seems to find her megalomania incredibly attractive.
  • Treasure Planet: Captain Amelia and Doctor Doppler. She's a hardened war veteran with the scars to prove it. He's an awkward astronomer, frustrated with how little his intellect can actually help people.
  • Zootopia: Rabbit officer, Judy Hopps, is not an imposing figure, but can use her speed and agility to take down opponents ten times her size. Nick Wilde, on the other hand, is a shifty Con Artist who knows the titular city and its citizens like the back of his hand and can talk his way out of almost any situation.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Kentucky Fried Movie segment "Cleopatra Schwartz". The title character is a strong black Action Girl who can beat up bad guys or shoot them dead. Her husband is a short Hasidic Jew who studies the Talmud at night.
  • The Dark Crystal: Kira is an energetic and worldly girl who knows how to talk to animals, navigate the wilderness and slingshot predators. Jen was educated by the Mystics in math and writing.

  • Durarara!! has Celty Sturluson and Shinra Kishitani. Celty is a Badass Biker with Super-Strength while Shinra is a Back-Alley Doctor and Non-Action Guy.
  • Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Waver Velvet/Lord El-Melloi II is a detective who has magical powers, but is non athletic and has no talent for combat, so he depends on his assistant Gray to fight for him.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Yuji Sakai, despite having the truth of the world only recently revealed to him, manages to figure out how his enemies' Unrestricted Methods work and find the weaknesses in them, and excelled in both analysis and long-term strategy. Shana, meanwhile, was raised to be the perfect fighting Flame Haze with vast power, but had a tendency to rush her opponents head-on. This is even reflected in their signature Unrestricted Methods by the end. While Shana manifests her fire to do solid physical damage, Yuji's own unique spell allows him to do basically anything by deconstructing the principles of the world and then reconstructing it as he sees fit.
  • Encyclopedia Brown: The titular Kid Detective got his nickname because of his Encyclopedic Knowledge. His best friend, Sally Kimball, is a Cute Bruiser who acts as his bodyguard and frequently beats up male bullies (one of whom called them "Mr. Brains and Miss Muscles").
  • Lindsey Davis uses this trope in her crime novels of Ancient Rome. The primary pairing is strong-minded aristocrat Helena Justina, who finds her smart guy in streetwise private investigator Marcus Didius Falco. A sub-plot involves the romance between Falco's clever but socially disadvantaged sister, Maia Favonia, who shucks off a deadbeat husband to take up with tough street cop Lucius Petronius. The third significant pairing, in later books, concerns Falco's spiky private investigator daughter, Albia, and her on-off almost-romance with magistrate Tiberius Faustus (a rare uncorrupt lawman).
  • The Hunger Games feature this dynamic with Katniss, the physically powerful and talented archer, and Peeta - The Social Expert (while he is quite strong, he isn't very skilled in battle).
  • Urban Dragon's Arkay is strong enough to pick up a car and regularly fights off crowds of people twice her size. Meph has military training and isn't half bad with a gun, but his first love was paperwork and almost all his contributions are intellectual.
  • Cryptonomicon: Amy Shaftoe is an Action Girl from a long line of adventurers. Randy Waterhouse is a bookish tech genius. They get into a romance.
  • Courtney and Mark from The Pendragon Adventure. She's an athletic jock, he's a smart and unathletic nerd.
  • In The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Wellington Thornhill Books is the Ministry's archivist and a Gadgeteer Genius. Eliza D. Braun is a field agent who was trained in hand-to-hand combat and firearms from childhood. Note the Meaningful Names.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agent Carter:
    • The titular Agent Peggy Carter has no qualms over solving a problem with Good Old Fisticuffs, and Howard Stark provides her with intel and gadgetry, every bit the inventor his son would become.
    • Peggy and Jarvis, as well. He is a decidedly Non-Action Guy, but Peggy spends a lot more time around him, since Stark is hiding from the SSR, and Jarvis shows some skill as a pilot, forger, and people-person. It's worth nothing that Peggy and Jarvis' relationship is entirely platonic, as Jarvis is a Happily Married man.
    • Peggy's eventual love interest in Season 1, Agent Daniel Sousa, did fight in World War II, but was injured severely. He needs a crutch to get around and walks with a pronounced limp. Despite that, he uses his injury to catch opponents off-guard and was even able to outsmart Dr. Faustus.
    • Season 2 introduces Jason Wilkes, a black scientist trying to make it in 1950s California. He gets inadvertently roped into this season's conspiracy, and the sparks fly between him and Peggy.
    • The Arc Villains of Season 2 are Calvin Chadwick, a Sleazy Politician, and his wife, Whitney Frost, who has been infected with an extradimensional substance called Zero Matter.
    • Dr. Samberly is a Mad Scientist working for the SSR, who is constantly hitting on Rose Roberts, who has been charged with manning the SSR's talent agency front, as well as guarding the secret entrance to the agency itself. She isn't very fond of him, though.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to really love this trope.
    • Resident badass Melinda May and her psychiatrist ex-husband Andrew. She was the muscle on the original Team Coulson and had earned the nickname "Cavalry" long before then. He was one of SHIELD's staff psychiatrists, and specialized in helping cope with the supernatural.
    • Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, and her ex-husband Hunter. Bobby almost matches May in hand-to-hand combat, and her batons let her hit extra hard. Hunter, while no slouch in a fire fight, would rather talk his way out of a sticky situation, and his ties to the criminal underworld are immensely valuable to SHIELD.
    • Played With by Daisy Johnson and Lincoln. Both are smart and both are strong. Lightning-powered Lincoln was one of the Inhumans' best guidance counselors who helped Inhumans adjust to their transitions. Daisy's shockwave powers allow her to level a city block with little effort; however, she was conscripted into SHIELD long before she experienced Terragenisis, as her skills as a hacker had caught their eye.
  • Firefly: Ex-revolutionary Zoe and Ace Pilot Wash. She's a warrior who still makes her former CO, Mal, nervous. He's useless in a firefight, but can pull incredible stunts with Serenity.
  • Leverage: Parker and Hardison. The Thief and The Hacker.
  • Dexter: Played with. At first sight, Action Girl police officer Debra and forensics expert Dexter Morgan fall into this. However, even if the other characters aren't aware of it, Dexter is actually quite strong and can handle himself in a fight (he's also skilled in jiu jitsu).
  • Legion (2017): Kerry (the girl) has superhuman fighting abilities, while Cary (the guy) is a genius inventor. They sort of share the same body.
  • Stranger Things: Eleven and Mike. Eleven is a powerful Little Miss Badass with psychic powers but, due to her isolated upbringing, she can barely speak. Her love interest Mike is a smart, nerdy boy who essentially takes over the Science Hero role whenever Dustin isn't around.
  • The Walking Dead: Rosita and Eugene. She's a tough and resourceful Action Girl; he's a highly intelligent but hapless Non-Action Guy. Even after Eugene steps up his game later in the series, they're still very much this trope.

  • In the song "Alice of Human Sacrifice", Rin and Len Kagamine are noted to have this dynamic.
    A stubborn elder sister
    A smart younger brother

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty: Zombies has Misty, the Action Girl who serves as Russman’s Lancer within Victis, and Marlton, Victis’s Smart Guy. They get a fair bit of Ship Tease.
  • Professor Layton prequel trilogy has this with Emmy Altava and the titular professor. She is the physical combatant, while he is the genius investigator. However, she can also solve puzzles and he is no slouch in combat (especially with a sword).
  • Deltarune has Susie and Ralsei respectively in the main trio. Susie plays the muscle of the group, being the most muscular and most likely to attack, while Ralsei is the person most knowledgeable about the Dark World and always seeks to use nonlethal methods of defeating opponents.
  • Symphony of War has Diana the mighty giantess and Stefan the cunning rogue.

    Visual Novels 
  • Pretty much the dynamic between Celeste and Tyrion in Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane from Case 2 onwards. He's the brainy lawyer with deduction skills so good that his mentor is jealous, while Celeste is his really powerful bodyguard (formerly a well-known mercenary).

    Web Animation 
  • Married couple Moxxie and Millie in Helluva Boss. Millie's a bruiser with an arsenal of blades, Moxxie's a ranged weapons expert and Only Sane Man of the entire cast (and a theatre geek).
  • Red vs. Blue: The original Leonard and Allison Church were this, with the former being the Director of Project Freelancer, and the latter being a UNSC Marine who died fighting the Covenant. This carries over somewhat to their AI counterparts, Church and Tex but in that case she is still much smarter than he.

    Web Comics 
  • Bozzok and Crystal from The Order of the Stick are a villainous take on this. Bozzok is a half-orc rogue and crime lord who relies primarily on his subordinates and his overestimated wits for his dirty work. Crystal is a hyperviolent assassin with more confirmed kills than brain cells and Haley's rival. Their dynamic is one of convenience: she would not survive a week in Greysky City without his guidance and he sees her as a weapon or attack dog to point at people, an sentiment that becomes amplified when he has her revived as a flesh golem and he notes how easier she is to control since she's not impeded by her petty bloodlust. This backfires when Haley is able to point out this dynamic to get Crystal to attack Bozzok and then relying on Bozzok's ego to infuriate Crystal to finish him off.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: An experienced, but poorly educated female Hunter of Monsters is the Team Dad, an Unskilled, but Strong male Bookworm is the Team Mom.
  • I'm the Grim Reaper: Scarlet is an Action Girl grim reaper, while Chase is a detective with a manipulative streak. This is strengthened when they team up, as Chase is in charge of telling if a sinner is lying, and Scarlet does the actual killing.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • Marie Kanker is the Abhorrent Admirer to Edd and the Strong Girl to his Smart Guy; Marie is a thuggish, belligerent lout while Edd is a mild-mannered child genius.
    • Sarah is the Strong Girl to Jimmy's Smart Guy. While Sarah can be manipulative, Jimmy has proven himself to be an extremely cunning mastermind, as shown in the episodes "If It Smells Like an Ed," "Stuck in Ed," "Cleanliness Is Next to Edness," and "Tinker Ed".
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Brother–Sister Team Dipper and Mabel. Mabel's strength is rarely brought up, but she is a lot stronger than most girls her age. Dipper is obsessed with the titular town's mysteries and secrets.
    • Dipper and his Precocious Crush Wendy also fit, as she was raised by a family of very manly lumberjacks and is just as good at it as they are.
  • Hamster & Gretel: Gretel is a Flying Brick and her brother Kevin is The Strategist.
  • An interesting case with Arnold and Helga from Hey Arnold! While she's quite smart, Helga is mainly known as a Cute Bruiser bully who does not hesitate to use physical force. Arnold, however is mature, never resorts to violence, and gives advice to everyone.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, the Huntress, an Action Girl, and The Question, an apopheniac sleuth, team up regularly to take down the bad guys, before ending up romantically involved with each other, as well.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Kim is the Strong Girl to both her brothers' Smart Guys. She's a strong fighter who saves the world, Jim and Tim are annoying brats who are also scientific prodigies. Kim is very smart but lacks the scientific knowledge of her brothers and doesn't understand many of their terms, phrases or inventions.
    • Kim is also the Strong Girl to Wade's Smart Guy. Wade is a Non-Action Guy, but provides Kim with all the gadgets and information she needs to fight her foes.
    • Drakken and Shego are a villainous example: He invents plans to Take Over the World, she beats up people in their way. An unusual case in that Shego is far more intelligent than Drakken at everything except inventing bizarre gadgets — she simply prefers to let somebody else do the planning while she does the fighting.
  • The Legend of Korra: Metal-bending prodigy Kuvira and her fiancé, the Evil Genius Baatar Jr.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Ginger (like the rest of the Fireside Girls) and Baljeet. They have their moments in the main series, and are shown to be an official couple in the Distant Finale "Act Your Age".
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Princess Star Butterfly has lots of magic power at her disposal, while her human best friend Marco Diaz is a safety-obsessed Neat Freak who tries his best to teach her about Earth culture.
  • Teen Titans: Alien Berserker Starfire, who hails from a planet of Proud Warrior Race Guys and adopted son of Batman Robin, who learned to fight crime from the world's greatest detective.


Video Example(s):


"You're human, Charlotte."

After bonding with her even more due to their experiences on the battlefiend, the Avatar (here, a default Male Corrin), reaches out to Charlotte to confess his feelings to her. Outright baffled that anyone would take interest in her after her boorish ways were made clear in an earlier encounter, the Avatar nonetheless reaffirms her that its her humanity that he loves the most about her. This brings Charlotte to tears, to which she happily accepts his proposal and marries him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre

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