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Underestimating Badassery

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Col. Bagley: They have no rifles; they're savages with bows and arrows!
Cpt. Algren: Whose sole occupation for the last thousand years has been war.

We, the audience, know just how awesome the badass is, whether they look the part or not. Unfortunately, not everyone else in the story does, even when the former is the case.

So maybe our hero walks into a bar, where some of the regulars don't take too kindly to him. Or maybe a couple of thugs accost him on the street. Sure, he might look dangerous, but he's outnumbered and outgunned, so he shouldn't be a problem, right?

The viewers watch with bated breath for the moment that these guys find out that they've woefully underestimated the level of badassery involved. Let the curb stomping begin.

Compare Beware the Nice Ones; Good Is Not Soft; The So-Called Coward; Mugging the Monster; You Wouldn't Shoot Me; Dude, Where's My Respect? and Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. Underestimating Intelligence is the intellectual version. One of the worst times to do this is when offering someone One Free Hit, since the last thing you want is to foolishly offer someone strong enough to KO or kill you with one blow a chance to hit you with their best shot. For the villainous example, see Not-So-Harmless Villain and Do Not Taunt Cthulhu. For the video game version see Suicidal Overconfidence. Contrast with Bullying a Dragon, where the perpetrator antagonizes someone despite knowing full and well how Badass they are and without any perceived advantage, and Badass on Paper and Mistaken for Badass, cases of Overestimating Badassery.

No Real Life Examples, Please! noreallife


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    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Squadron: During Crisis on Earth-Prime, Power Ring of Earth-Three defeats Hawkman and Johnny Quick, but completely leaves Huntress alone, figuring since she has no powers she's not even worth attacking. She knocks him out with a single Batarang to the head.
  • Aquaman gets this a lot, especially since the "all he can do is talk to fish" meme is widespread even in-universe. What many of his opponents tend to forget though, is that he has Super-Strength and speed, and happens to be one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet. Needless to say, people who underestimate him usually end up regretting it.
  • In Astro City, interdimensional conquerer Krigari Ironhand's second defeat came about because he abducted all the members of the Honor Guard except Mermaid, whom he didn't think was worth bothering with. She managed to free everyone else.
  • Batman:
    • Countless supervillains think Batman's just a guy in a costume. One of the most famous examples being when the Hyperclan, really White Martians, capture or incapacitate the entire Justice League, except Batman who they dismiss as Just One Man. Batman proceeds to find out their secret, reduce them to paranoid wrecks and practically dismantle their entire plan.
    • Many heroes and villans typically think The Joker's just a lowly clown with too much free time. When the Midnighter faced the Joker, he naturally assumed he'd kill the clown in seconds as the Midnighter is able to take one look at a guy and figure out a thousand ways to defeat him by how he thinks. When the Midnighter tried it, he was struck dumb to realize there was no way possible to figure out the Joker's next move as even he doesn't know how his mind works. In general, Joker is written off as a joke, but this Monster Clown is far more unpredictable than expected, having upstaged the likes of Gorilla Grodd, Darkseid, and Brainiac in terms of villainy.
    • Psh, Robin and Batgirl are just some tag-along Sidekicks. And Nightwing's just a pretty boy in spandex. Except of course they're not.
    • In Batgirl: Year One, Barbara Gordon is underestimated by everybody, including her own father. She considers it annoying, but also a weakness which she can — and eagerly does — exploit.
      Barbara Gordon: Dad thinks I'm too short. My Sensei thinks I'm too "girly". But just like the principles of Jujitsu— I use their expectations against them. That will be their weakness. Not mine. Let them all underestimate me.
    • During the aftermath of the Knightfall story arc, a couple of thugs cut the power to Barbara's apartment to kill her. They hadn't figured out that she was Oracle, but they had learned (because she allowed them to) that she'd interrupted their criminal activities. The figured that one girl alone in a wheelchair wouldn't give them any trouble. She proceeds to demonstrate the Filipino art of Escrima on them. She then turns to a dark corner and asks if "you plan on helping out". Dick Grayson, as Batman, steps out of the shadows and says it looked like she'd had the situation well in hand already.
    • Robins are generally trying to be underestimated, or at the very least exploit it, Tim Drake in particular is stated to do so.
    • Batman '66: The Legion of Super-Heroes underestimates Batman's detective skills because he's from a "primitive" era and doesn't expect Robin to be useful to them because he doesn't have superpowers.
    • In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Doctor Randolph Porter believed that he had successfully manipulated Batman into becoming a junkie dependent on the early samples of venom he had been giving the Dark Knight, to the extent that he reasons that Batman will be nothing more than a whimpering wreck after a month without access to the pills, incapable of considering the idea that Batman could have beaten the addiction. Even after Batman tracks Porter to his island base, Porter attempts to force Batman into a scenario where he will have to take the pills again to survive to prove Porter's own belief in his drugs, underestimating Batman's strength of will to resist the temptation and never even considering the idea that the other man is smart enough to find another way out of the trap that doesn't require the pills.
    • Batgirl's first encounter with Batwoman was of the Let's You and Him Fight variety, with Batwoman barging onto the scene and roughing up the woman Batgirl was talking to. Batgirl decides to subdue Batwoman to get things under control, with her narration stating that while she's heard Batwoman's tough, she "never heard that [Batwoman] was all that trained as a fighter." When Batgirl moves forward with that plan, Batwoman curb stomps her.
    • Everyone underestimates Alfred Pennyworth, seeming at first glance to be The Jeeves at most. Then you learn he was a combat medic with the British Special Air Service and saw combat in Burma. He can bare-knuckle box with the best of them, is a skilled espionage agent, and slings a mean shotgun (much to Batman's chagrin). Just to drive the point home, in Injustice: Gods Among Us, he takes a Super Serum which grants him Super-Strength and resilience, and effortlessly kicks the shit out of a tyrannical Superman. Superman doesn't even get a counterattack in; a furious, super-powered Alfred is not a man but a Curb-Stomp Battle wearing a fine suit.
  • The Black Widow runs into this from time to time. There are adversaries who dismiss her for being a woman, lacking in superpowers, or who just don't think the Black Widow was anything other than a Cold War myth. In issue 3 of Black Widow and the Marvel Girls, she says that she prefers when people underestimate her and fears that anyone knowing her full potential puts her at a disadvantage.
  • Captain America really shouldn't have told Selene Gallio to get up, after he and Falcon knocked her on her ass. Steve's behavior was a bit odd given earlier she was The Dreaded for him and he mentioned that she had single-handedly crushed X-Men teams before. Underestimating her was a big mistake, as unknown to him - she beat his Hydra doppelganger in hand to hand before executing "Stevil". And she beat this Steve too by giving him a vicious combo of scratching, biting and a kick to the head.
  • This is why Apollo and Midnighter lose to Captain Atom in Captain Atom: Armageddon. The pair think Atom is just another super-powered mook, not realizing that Atom is more powerful than all the members of The Authority combined, including Jenny Quantum. The only reason they last as long as they did is that Cap refuses to go all out against people he barely knows, even ones who are currently trying very hard to kill him. Really, just about every superhero in the Wildstorm universe was guilty of this. Midnighter and Apollo were just the most egregious case because they were the last. They knew, or should have known, that Cap had already beaten Mr. Majestic, the Wild CATS, and the Engineer, all of whom were also guilty of severely underestimating Cap, to the point where the Wild CATS deliberately attacked one at a time, as if it were a game.
  • The second Night Thrasher shows up in Contest of Champions (2015), Elektra and Maestro regard him as some guy from the '90s riding into battle on a skateboard. In reality, he's a veteran superhero, experienced field leader, and Gadgeteer Genius riding into battle on a skateboard that's actually pretty damn useful. Thrasher's casual showing up of everybody who mocks him pretty much turns into a Running Gag.
  • People who don't know Deadpool tend to dismiss him as a scatterbrained lunatic with the attention span of a gnat. And he is a scatterbrained lunatic with the attention span of a gnat. Most of the time. Opinions are divided as to whether he's really that way, or if he just pretends to be that way in order to manipulate opponents into underestimating him. Either way, he's still a scarily efficient mercenary, multilingual, an expert with just about any weapon he can get his hands on, an effective planner, and consistently shows he's able to grasp complex situations very quickly.
  • Happens surprisingly often in Diabolik with the titular protagonist, Ginko, Eva Kant, and Altea. While understandable with Eva (who doesn't look that dangerous, even if she's a Killer Rabbit) and Altea (a socialite and not that good a fighter, but damn smart and determined), it's pure Bullying the Dragon with Diabolik, AKA the King of Terror, and Ginko (the one cop who can actually hold Diabolik in check, and who has personally punched him out in more than one occasion).
  • Happens very often in the Disney Mouse and Duck Comics, especially with the shorter characters:
    • Many a newcoming villain has thought they could easily outsmart Mickey Mouse, even when Pete warns them specifically against this, or that they could take him in a fight. Then a squadron of cops walk on them with a warrant for their arrest procured on Mickey's deductions, or they attack him and find out that he can go toe-to-toe with Pete.
    • Pete himself is sometimes mistaken for Dumb Muscle. That tends to end with Pete showing just why Mouseton's police considers him public enemy #2, surpassed by Phantom Blot but surpassing Doctor Vulter, a terrorist.
    • Happens twice to Phantom Blot in the "Darkenblot" saga:
      • In "Darkenblot 2.0" new villain Mr. Me breaks him out of prison to use him in his plan to become Robopolis' mayor, and, fearing a betrayal, tricks him into drinking nanites that will incapacitate him with a horrible toothache the moment he says the password. Right when Mr. Me's plan is about to come to fruition, PB reveals he hijacked his entire organization, and when he activates the nanites he finds out the hard way that PB saw his trick coming and made him drink them.
      • In "Darkenblot 3 — Nemesis" it's shown that Robopolis' police, knowing that Phantom Blot always improves his Darkenblot Powered Armor, has built four armors of their own, each capable of thrashing the Darkenblot 2.1 and expected to go toe-to-toe with the 3.0, and in the first encounter the four of them drive the Darkenblot 3.0 off. Then in the second confrontation Phantom Blot stops holding back and thrashes all four armors in less than a minute — and without using the onboard weapons.
    • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: In his youth, Scrooge McDuck was constantly underestimated because he's just a short guy. Poor Argus Whiskerville found out the hard way why Sitting Bull couldn't walk for a week after their knife fight at the Wild West Show, and over a dozen's baker of assorted thugs (and at least one baker) were beaten up as Scrooge trashed the riverboat they were on.
    • Donald Duck gets the same treatment. This is the same Donald that can do anything whenever he gets serious enough, has beaten up dozens of foes when provoked enough and laughed in the face of the Grim Reaper just to brag that "Donald Duck LAUGHS in the face of Death."
  • Poor Empowered is often dismissed because her superpowers depend on an easily ripped suit. Thing is, she's really smart and Genre Savvy, and more than one supervillain found themselves defeated in ways they could have never seen coming. Most devastatingly, she picks up on any little piece of information supervillains mention in her presence whenever they capture her, has no qualm using it or putting it into the superhero database, and is smart enough to not gloat about it.
  • In Eternals, Thanos initially gets caught by this. Twice. Thanos has dealt with the great powers of the universe, so doesn’t see a handful of Eternals as a more significant threat than any other earth heroes. But, as the narration points out, the Eternals have been killing monsters for a million years.
    • In their first encounter, Druig briefly traps him in a telepathic prison and Thena promptly stabs him in the back, forcing him to flee and tend his wounds.
    • In the second battle, the Forgotten One rams him face-first into a pool of fiery cosmic energy, Sersi weaves poisonous, incendiary fungi through his flesh, Ikaris sears him with eye beams and Kingo and Thena stab him repeatedly. He is very nearly "kicked to death by the family he never knew, in a dark alley", as the great machine’s narration puts it. Only the teleportation of everyone involved saves him.
  • Even a big gun like a Green Lantern is vulnerable to be underestimated. Many villains are under the impression a Green Lantern can easily be Curb-Stomped as long as you bring something yellow to the fight. Rarely does it occur to them Green Lantern might be smart enough to go around his weakness to yellow.
  • This is Hit-Girl's entire gimmick. Who would think a 10-year-old girl is capable of wielding anything from an automatic rifle to samurai swords to kill a dozen seasoned mobsters?
  • Immortal X-Men: After the events of Sins of Sinister, Hope gets into a fight with Exodus which starts by disabling both their powers. Bennet thinks that if nothing else he has a height advantage over Hope. She points out two things: He was trained to fight as a knight, not a martial artist, and two; she was raised by Cable, who is also bigger than him. She kicks his ass.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman has taken over the world. He's crushed almost all resistance, including Batman. He has armies cowering before him. So who is the one person who actually gets the most success against him? Plastic Man. To free his son, Eel breaks into the supposedly unbreakable prison, takes out all the guards, and frees all the prisoners.
    • Notable is that in this world, all the heroes actually know and respect how dangerous Plastic Man is. Sinestro dismisses him as a clown but is quickly proven wrong.
    • In Injustice 2, Batman declares Plastic Man is the only choice to break into Ra's al Ghul's lair. Green Arrow just offers up a "seriously?" but sure enough, Plas pulls it off.
  • In Volume 2 of The Invisibles, a stereotypical redneck learns the hard way not to insult a sexy transvestite and then go pick a fight with her bald associate...
    King Mob: [after taking the unlucky local firmly in hand] I'm telling you you're in the wrong film, Fatboy. You're not in the cowboy film you thought you were in. This is a different kind of movie. And you're in the scene where the redneck shitkicker picks on the stranger in town, only it's Big Arnie or a gang of vampires. I'll bet you've seen that a million times, Cowboy.
  • Iron Man:
    • It has happened a few times to Tony Stark, whether because his identity was still secret and therefore it's assumed that he's just a rich playboy who needs a bodyguard to protect him, or because it's assumed that he's helpless without his armor. The thing is, it's generally a bad idea to attack someone who's been taking lessons from Captain America for about a decade unless you're a professional, considering Tony once beat the crap out of a bunch of Skrulls who were pretending to be The Avengers, and he did so with his bare hands while naked and while his heart was slowly giving out. And then there is, of course, this immortal exchange:
      Tony: [to his kidnapper] I was just wondering, does your guard here know what a clavicle is?
      Guard: Huh?
      Tony: [karate chop] Surprise! It's what I just broke!
    • Iron Man, in turn, tends to do this to villains he considers beneath his own paygrade, most notably Dr. Octopus, whom he sees as a flabby pushover. Naturally, this has led to him being humiliated by Doc Ock on a few occasions, most notably being totally demolished by Otto's Adamantium tentacles, having to beg Otto publicly not to set off a bomb, and getting taken out by Dr. Octopus using future tech to EMP him.
  • In the fourth and final issue of the JLA/Avengers crossover, the supervillain Prometheus, who can pretty much download any fighting capabilities he wants, confronts Captain America and says, "I've just uploaded Batman's fighting skills. That'll be more than enough to defeat you." Cap replies, "Oh?" On the next page, Cap is seen hitting Prometheus hard enough to break his helmet.
  • Les Légendaires:
    • Most people of Alysia mainly remember the Legendaries as a bunch of failed heroes who caused the infamous Jovenia Incident that turned everyone into a child when trying to save the world. As such, in the first books, their name isn't even impressive to anyone, to the point two thugs are shown laughing when they introduce themselves. What those people tend to forget is that the Legendaries also foiled several times the plans of a much feared Sorcerous Overlord with a massive body count, and actually succeeded in defeating said Sorcerous Overlord. They fortunately get their respect back after the Anathos Cycle.
    • One especially hilarious example is during the fight between Razzia and Dark-Razzia when Razzia announces he is going to kick his ass in memory of his sister:
      Dark-Razzia: Ah Ah Ah! You, kick my ass? I would like to see tha... (Razzia punches him through the face with Amy, sending him flying meters away]
      Razzia: I warned him, didn't I?
      Amy: I confirm!
  • In Marvel's murder mystery book Models, Inc., thugs tend to assume that the models will be an easy target. One of the models in question is Patsy Walker, the civilian identity of the Badass Normal superhero Hellcat. Although Patsy's not actively publicising her dual identity, that doesn’t stop her from flattening them while out of costume.
  • Red Sonja frequently comes across opponents who think she is harmless because she is a woman. Every single time the She-Devil with a Sword shows how she earned her nickname.
  • The Scrameustache: The Stixes abducted Scrameustache when he was still just a baby animal. When he grew up, the Stixes went after him again thinking he was easy prey. Now an accomplished astronaut, Scrameustache used his abilities to disable the Stixes who kept their guard down.
  • In The Hard Goodbye arc of Sin City, the bouncer for Katie's Bar throws out a customer, looks at Marv, and tells him to leave. Marv calmly grabs his face, breaks his nose, and goes in. The rest of the staff apologizes for the bouncer. That entire story is set up by the fact that the all-powerful Roarks thought it would be a piece of cake to frame a murder on a big, ugly drunk, unaware that he was extremely dangerous.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Happens to Spider-Man quite frequently. He's a lithe guy who swings around a lot, wears silly pajamas, and makes stupid jokes. New villains tend to forget that he's held his own with the Avengers, the X-Men, and fought just about every villain in the Marvel Universe. (The rule of thumb is, when he stops cracking wise, start running and don't stop till you're out of New York state.)
    • In Go Down Swinging, Peter Parker accepts Norman Osborn's Deal with the Devil because he's realized that Osborn doesn't care about Peter Parker at all, he just wants to be rid of Spider-Man. So Peter's going to fight him on his own terms, putting the "Genius" in Genius Bruiser.
    • During one storyline, minor villain Fusion (whose only power is the ability to create detailed illusions that can be thrown off once the other person realises what he's capable of) believed that he had successfully intimidated long-time Spidey foe Doctor Octopus into acting as his flunky as he tried to acquire the control device for an advanced tracking satellite. However, once they have acquired the control device, Octavius reveals that he was actually feigning weakness and just letting Fusion do the hard work until he was ready to take over the other man's scheme.
    • Usually, The Kingpin is the one underestimated. First, by various super-villains with powers who think they can easily beat a regular human, not grasping Fisk is an utter genius and Chess Master of the highest order. Second, by thinking he's just a fat guy, not getting it's all muscle and he's an expert martial artist.
    • The Kingpin fell into this himself when he discovered HYDRA was trying to attack his territory. Fisk treated it as if it was another gang war and he could handle it easily. In the space of five minutes, HYDRA has emptied the Kingpin's bank accounts, destroyed most of his business fronts (legal and illicit) across the city, and sent a helicopter gunship to blow apart his office.
      Garrote: You are merely a criminal, Mr. Fisk. And we...we are conquerors.
    • He also thought he could always take on superpowered characters, based on how he went toe-on-toe with Spider-Man. Then in Back in Black a sniper at his orders mortally wounded Aunt May, and Spidey for once did not hold back. Before thousands of criminals, Kingpin was beaten within an inch of his life and survived only because Spidey decided not to.
    • A "What If?" scenario of Back in Black has the sniper kill Mary Jane, and when Spider-Man tracks him down he has Aunt May as hostage with two corrupt cops keeping her at gunpoint. He comes near to beat him to death... And Spidey rips his heart out and makes the cops stand down by pointing out that if they kill Aunt May they won't be paid, and they'll suffer the same fate. This shows just how much Kingpin underestimated Spider-Man's strength and smarts.
  • Superman:
    • Many villains assume Superman is a brainless strongman, and fail to realize he's also Super-Intelligent, learns faster than the average human, and has access to Kryptonian technology. Many of them also are under the impression he can easily be curb-stomped as long as you bring Kryptonite, magic, or red sunlight-powered weapons to the fight. Rarely does it occur to them Superman might just bring a Kryptonite-Proof Suit or Fight Off the Kryptonite through sheer Heroic Willpower. He also is frequently mistaken for naive and not that scary because of his reputation as a boy scout. These people will usually learn the hard way that he can be downright terrifying when you piss him off.
    • Several examples in Krypton No More: one-time villain Radion traps Superman in an energy sphere which increases his atomic weight to a hundred thousand tons. He thinks Superman is helpless, but the Man of Steel manages to rip his prison apart. Later on, Superman busts a gang's lair. A thug thinks Superman's reputation is overblown and he can kill Supes with a flamethrower. He finds out — painfully — he cannot.
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: At the beginning of their mandatory introductory fight, Spider-Man has unknowingly been bathed by Lex Luthor in red sunlight which weakens Superman. Spidey connects several hits and is thinking Superman is an overrated pushover when the red energy wears off and Peter nearly breaks his hands as punching Clark.
    • War World gives several examples:
      • Mongul forces Superman and Martian Manhunter to fight each other... and both Leaguers underestimate each other. Superman thinks J'onn is no match for him and J'onn thinks a Kryptonite weapon is all he needs to tackle Kal-El.
      • Mongul steals a planet-buster super-weapon and Superman and Supergirl face up to it. Mongul thinks they are a pair of idiots and have no chance... shortly before they blow Warworld up.
    • In The Third Kryptonian, Amalak sends his minions to destroy the Superman Family, expecting an easy victory. Instead, all of his men are defeated.
    • Last Son: Unlike Superman, who has battled them all before and is accordingly aware of their powers, Zod's Kryptonians are completely unaware of what skills and abilities the Superman Revenge Squad bring to the table. They don't realize that Bizarro is as strong as they are, that closing with Parasite is a really bad idea, or that the pretty green rock in Metallo's chest can hurt them. The crowning moment comes when one of them grabs this skinny, bald human and tries to intimidate him into giving the plan away. It ends about as badly as you're expecting, with Luthor absolutely destroying him.
    • Superman: Brainiac: After capturing Superman, Brainiac gloats that he's nothing but a brute who could never stop him. Several pages later, Superman is quite literally stomping over the Coluan.
    • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, villain Solarman thinks he can run the world's greatest hero out of the town only because he has developed a sunlight-absorbing suit. When he engages Superman, Solarman thinks he's actually winning only because Superman is letting him get a pair of punches in while he overloads his power suit by feeding it solar power in excess.
    • Supergirl gets this a lot. Because she's a temperamental teenager, her enemies assume she is an easily manipulable, naive little girl. Because she's a super-strong Kryptonian, her enemies assume she's dumb muscle. She always shows she isn't a pushover.
    • In Justice League of America #134, Supergirl joins the League to help find a missing Superman. They find an alien race called the Krill, who force the Leaguers to fight Despero, one of their worst and oldest enemies. Despero is sent up against Supergirl, and one of the Krills thinks she can't possibly win... and then she trashes him. First she grabs him and throws him hard enough to put him into orbit, and then she flies out of the planet, meets Despero in space and knocks him out with one punch.
    • In New Krypton, Reactron brought golden kryptonite (which nullifies the powers of a Kryptonian) to the fight, thinking he'd kill Supergirl easily. It turns out that Supergirl has been trained by both Batman and Wonder Woman and knows Klurkor (a Kryptonian martial art).
    • In Who is Superwoman?, General Sam Lane declares his daughter Lucy Lane — a. k. a. Superwoman — is a real soldier and will not be bested by a "teenage hussy" two minutes before Supergirl mops the floor with Superwoman.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, Lobo thought that Supergirl would fight worse if he pressed her buttons. It turned out that Kara doesn't get careless when she gets angry: she gets more dangerous.
    • Later, Guy Gardner orders Supergirl not to let Bleez — who was wounded — leave med bay. Bleez states that she has no time to socialize with children, and tries to shove Kara out of the door she was blocking. Yup. Good luck with that.
    • Worldkiller-1 thought that Supergirl couldn't do anything to stop him. But it appears that fighting a Kryptonian after she's just taken a bath in the Sun isn't a good idea.
    • In Many Happy Returns, Post-Crisis Linda Danvers sees Pre-Crisis Kara trying to push Earth out of its orbit. Linda thinks Kara is being ridiculous, believing she can move a planet, but that feat is possible to an Earth-One Kryptonian.
    • Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom:
      • Maelstrom is convinced that she can kill Superman, even though everybody tells her she is out of her mind to believe she can take on any Kryptonian.
      • When Supergirl is ambushed by a pack of hominid-like predators, Superman tries to warn her that one of them is about to attack her from behind. Kara clobbers the monster, without even turning around, and reminds her cousin that she has been trained by Amazons.
    • Power Girl gets this often. People see her and think: "Blonde, buxom, and muscled equal dumb". One of her enemies — Ultra-Humanite — calls her brainless and quips that her brain is her least used body part... even though she always, always, always outsmarts him. It irks Power Girl, but she admits that it's good being underestimated.
      Power Girl: He believes he's already won. He thinks I'm stupid. It's okay. I like being underestimated.
    • The Great Phantom Peril
      • Faora Hu-Ul does not take Superman's might, combat skills, and fighting experience seriously, and she wastes time gloating instead of finishing him off at the first chance. When he flies away, Faora doesn't bother chasing after him because she is certain that "not a single person on Earth can avoid becoming the helpless victim of [her] master plan. And that includes Superman!" Meanwhile, Superman was taking steps to completely foil her plans.
      • When Superman flees, everyone believes he fears Faora. Even Supergirl, who should know better, thinks he has gone into the Zone out of fear, although to her credit she thinks something is amiss).
      • As the Galaxy Network crew is reviewing tapes of the battle between Superman and Faora, Steve Lombard expresses disbelief at Superman being defeated by a woman. Lois Lane — who is a Klurkor practitioner — guesses Faora knows some type of martial art that uses pressure points to disable and hurt her adversary. Then she demonstrates it on Lombard.
    • In Two for the Death of One, Lord Satanis never takes Superman or any of his enemies seriously, even though they prevail against him over and again. Ironically, he accuses Superman of underestimating his power.
      Lord Satanis: I have not forgotten your powers, Superman, but it seems that you underestimate mine! That is not your first mistake in dealing with me, my mortal friend. But I do promise it shall be your last!
    • Last Daughter of Krypton: During the final battle, Reign is happy to sit back and watch her soldiers ganging up on Supergirl while boasting that only a Worldkiller can defeat another Worldkiller. However, Kara mulls over her words and comes up with the idea of grabbing Perrilus' poisoned tentacles and stabbing Deimax with them. Disgruntled and unwilling to lose one soldier, Reign concedes defeat and leaves with her mooks.
    • In A Mind-Switch in Time, Lex Luthor demands to know how Superboy broke out of his time loop trap. Superman replies he decided to test whether Einstein was right about time working as a gigantic loop. Lex admits grudgingly he was wrong about his nemesis' head being full of air instead of brains.
      Lex Luthor: All right— So maybe there is more between your ears than cottage cheese as I always thought, Superboy
    • The Killers of Krypton: Upon being informed that Supergirl is investigating the truth behind Krypton's destruction, Empress Gandelo calmly states she will be unable to find out anything evidence, or she will be easily dealt with anyway. Not only does Supergirl find out the truth, but also she defeats Gandelo with little trouble when the Empress decides to "deal" with her personally.
    • Superman vs. Shazam!:
      • Karmang believes that Mary Marvel's interference cannot possibly ruin his master plan. Yet still, she does exactly that.
      • At the start of their battle, Marvel hits Superman with a brickwall that shatters upon impact. As he is being blown off by a single gust of Super-Breath, Marvel admits he has underestimated Superman even though he knew beforehand the Man of Steel is his equal.
        Captain Marvel: He's blowing me off the rooftop— with a blast of super-breath! Looks like I've underestimated the Big Red S— But that's one mistake I'm going to correct pronto!
    • The Plague of the Antibiotic Man: After blinding and capturing Supergirl, Amalak gloats that he can kill her whenever he wants because she is less clever than Superman. Smirking, Supergirl dares him to try. Amalak pulls his plasma weapon's trigger and discovers several unpleasant facts: first, his ray-gun has been damaged and is useless; second, Supergirl can break her chains easily despite his assumption that she could not; and third, her fist on his face really hurts.
      Amalak: If I cannot take Superman's life...I shall settle for his career! You, however, are less resourceful than your cousin— I can kill you— easily!
      Supergirl: Can you? Your weapon merely stunned me earlier!
      Amalak: I shall be happy to lay your doubts to rest...along with your dead body!
      One punch later
      Supergirl: (thinking) Amalak never had a chance!
    • The Death of Luthor: After verifying that Supergirl is real, Luthor declares he will destroy her easily. By the end of the story, he has been bested (repeatedly), humiliated and once again jailed.
      Lex Luthor: With my great knowledge of psychology, I'll destroy her by playing on her feminine traits!
      Lex Luthor: You made me live again, so I'd be a gangland laughing stock!— Before, I was respected! Now the other criminals will laugh at me behind my back because I was saved by you!!
    • The Legion of Super-Heroes!: Superboy must compete with Saturn Girl to pass his first initiation test, and he thinks he will best her easily because she cannot possibly haul a sunken statue out of the ocean with mere telepathy. When he arrives at the place, he learns telepathy has many uses, including dominating large sea monsters into doing your bidding.
    • "Those Emerald Eyes Are Shining": One Legion Cruiser is being attacked by three Blitzers (unipersonal combat ships). One Blitzer eludes Supergirl and Sun Boy -who are frying their partner- and heads towards Colossal Boy, who looks an easier, helpless target. Colossal Boy goads the ship into attacking him, and then grows to a humongous size and crushes the Blitzer with one single punch.
      Colossal Boy: Come on, pal— Don't I look nice and small and harmless? Good— A little closer— And you can find out you've made a big mistake! What's the matter? Don't like five-foot-wide knuckles?
  • In an early issue of The Unbelievable Gwenpool, the titular character laughs in the face of M.O.D.O.K. when he threatens her life, because she's a comic book fan who somehow wound up in the Marvel universe and, consequently, she's fallen for M.O.D.O.K's modern reputation as a stupid-looking loser. Unfortunately for her, the Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing may look stupid to modern readers, but he is and always has been a deadly serious threat in-universe. She is given a very firm demonstration of this fact when he casually vaporizes her then-only friend in the Marvel world with a psi-bolt, leaving her on her knees weeping in grief and fear as she clutches her dead friend's skull and meekly telling M.O.D.O.K that she'll be his henchgirl when he conversationally asks if she'd rather serve or die.
  • This happens a few times in Watchmen, especially a number of times with Rorschach: attacked by bullies when he was a kid, when he and Nite Owl hunt for info in a bar, when he's attacked in prison...
  • Wonder Woman occasionally runs into this, particularly from misogynists or those who think her role as an ambassador makes her soft.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Emperor of Saturn thought the chains Mephisto Saturno had placed Wonder Woman in were overkill for such a "delicate" feminine prisoner and ordered her to be put into more appropriate bindings. When Diana tore through the new chains like they were wet paper and started tearing through his slavers, the Emperor revised his opinion.
    • In the Golden Age villains had a bad habit of writing off Etta Candy as a stupid, short fat girl. Given that she regularly fights and wins against multiple opponents at once underestimating her and insulting her in one go was a good way to ensure Wonder Woman wouldn't have to worry about a villain since Etta had already wiped the floor with them.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Medusa learned that Diana's role as ambassador had not softened her up when she attacked Diana in Greg Rucka's run and was soundly defeated.
  • X-23 gets sexually harassed pretty regularly. Yes, X-23, Opposite-Sex Clone of Wolverine. Of course, she appears to be a normal and quite attractive teenage girl, but still...

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker has a lot of this going on:
    • When Terry McGinnis as Batman interrupts the Jokerz' attempted robbery, he seriously underestimates them, with the result that he gets beaten up pretty badly. It's not a curb-stomp — he gives almost as good as he gets, and stops the robbery to boot — but he pays for it.
    • When Terry/Batman comes after the gang's hideout, the Jokerz think they can take him down like they did in the beginning of the film, but he casually curb-stomps all five of them.
    • The Joker also drastically underestimates Terry, contemptuously dismissing him as a "Bat-fake" before their final confrontation. While the Joker knows Bruce, Terry makes it a point to let Joker know that he doesn't know much about himself while kneeing Joker with a Groin Attack.
      Joker: You're out of your league, McGinnis. I know every trick the original Batman and Robin knew at their peak.
      Terry: Maybe. But you don't know a thing about me.
      Joker: You?! What's to know?! You're a punk! A rank amateur! A costumed errand boy taking orders from a senile old man!
    • Terry, for his part, inverts the trope: at first, he seriously over-estimates the Joker, seeing him as the monster out of Batman's old files, the psychopathic genius who nearly beat Batman multiple times and left permanent scars on the entire Bat-family. However, during their final showdown, Bruce's description of the Joker gives Terry a flash of inspiration: use the Joker's own tactics against him! He does it with a vengeance, describing the clown as just a stupid manchild who always failed to break the Bat and has nothing to offer but corny, lame jokes and a ridiculous motive for his villainy. It drives the Joker into a spectacular Villainous Breakdown. Ironically, Joker isn't entirely wrong when he furiously shouts that Terry isn't Batman — Terry is his own Batman.
  • In The Book of Life, Manolo gets this treatment from Xibalba, when the god arrogantly believes that Manolo can't warn La Muerte about his cheating or pass his final test. He's proven wrong both times.
  • Po Ping of the Kung Fu Panda franchise tends to get this a lot due to being, well... a panda. The underestimating isn't limited to the bad guys, either, as even his own allies tend to be surprised by what he can actually pull off.
    • Tai Lung in particular really underestimates Po in the first movie. About a minute later, Po actually does sit on him, on the stairs.
      Tai Lung: [to Shifu] Him? He's a panda! [to Po] You're a panda! What are you going do do, big guy? Sit on me?
      Po: Don't tempt me.
      • Also, Vachir really thinks the defenses of his prison can hold Tai Lung in. To cut a long story short, they don't.
    • The sequel has Lord Shen do this as well, despite him literally being destined to lose to him. Although Shen does kill a far more well-known kung fu master at the beginning of the film, so he can at least be forgiven.
  • The Lion King (1994): When Simba and his best friend Nala get into an argument over who deserves credit for their plan to ditch Zazu, Simba attempts to win by pouncing on Nala and forcing her to admit he deserves the credit, and expects it to be easy thanks to his earlier pouncing lessons from his dad. To his surprise and shock though, Nala easily flips him over and pins him down instead in one fluid motion. Simba shoves her off him in embaressment, and shortly afterwards when she turns her back on him and he sees she is distracted, he tries to get revenge by pouncing on her again from behind. But he accidentally sends them both rolling down a nearby hill and while he struggles to stay on top of her, she is just laughing the whole way down, and upon reaching the bottom she once again ends up flipping and pinning him down, smugly rubbing her victory in his face.
  • Monsters University, seemingly the majority predicted, including dean herself, that team Oozma Kappa would have no chance of winning the "Scare Games". And to be fair, the team initially did lack developed skills with its members and shown poor teaming namely from front-runners Mike and Sully (only luckily winning the first round due to one of the other teams' disqualification). However, the team gradually got better and improved as the games went on, eventually coming in second place to Roar Omega Roar.
  • A villainous variant happens in Osmosis Jones, when Thrax walks into a "sauna" in Frank's armpit that's occupied by a group of germ gangsters. Their leader Scabies threatens him, telling him to "take your little hustle someplace else". Thrax then proceeds to utterly annihilate him.
  • The Prince of Egypt shows Rameses and his priests initially viewing the Hebrew God with careless contempt. Then the Plagues start.
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2: Snowball expects Little Sergei not to be a match for him and pays dearly for that mistake. He knows better during their next fight and wins.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Scorpion, after being the victim of an Anvil on Head gag, doesn't think of Spider-Ham as major threat due to being a "silly cartoon". Scorpion then learns the hard way that you do not want to mess with someone who's not only a Spider but also uses Toon Physics as well.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The kidnappers in Big Jake assume, just like everybody else in the movie, that Jacob McCandless (grandfather of the boy they kidnap) is dead. Naturally, it never occurs to them that he might be the one coming after them. Had they known, it is very likely that they would have chosen to kidnap somebody else's grandson. The head kidnapper (Richard Boone) can tell that the man following them is a badass, and says as much; what he doesn't know is just how much of a badass he is, or how personally invested he is in the outcome of the situation.
  • Billy Jack catches a lot of this. See the Quotes page.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Considering the reputation Riddick has, being more or less the single most wanted person in the galaxy and arguably the most dangerous, it's amazing how many people seem eager to pick a fight with him. Bounty hunters, lawmen, criminals, Necromongers. Even when they have superior numbers, they're never enough. Even when all he has is a teacup, that just means he gets creative with how he kills. Eventually, the survivors learn, until the next batch shows up.
  • Crimson Peak: Lucille is dismissive of Edith, describing her as very pretty, but frail and easy pickings for a predator. The film ends with Edith caving Lucille's head in with a shovel.
  • Cruz Diablo: At the start of the movie, Commander Rocafuerte calls his men wimps for fearing Cruz Diablo, who promptly appears and defeats him, leaving his mark on his forehead. Rocafuerte excuses himself saying his guns were out of ammo.
  • Almost a running gag in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, even among people who theoretically know what they're dealing with:
    • The Dark Knight: When the Joker appears, Batman, somewhat hypocritically, dismisses him as just one man who couldn't possibly be more dangerous than the mob. He ends up destroying quite a bit of the city, putting the last nail into the mob's coffin, almost doing the same for Batman, and drives Harvey Dent to madness.
    • The crime boss Gambol seems to think of Joker as a mere annoyance that he casually orders a hit on just to satisfy his own ego. He doesn't stop to consider that a guy who's willing to steal from you, confront you and joke about it in person, and effortlessly kill one of your enforcers with a gruesome "magic trick" just might be someone you really don't wanna fuck with. By the time Gambol finally realizes that he's grossly underestimated just how dangerous the Joker is, he already has a knife in his mouth.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: Batman, who has been out of action for roughly eight years, gets back in the batsuit, and is able to hunt down and capture several League of Shadow members who were trying to escape a bank robbery. The primary villain Bane manages to get away. Batman dismisses Bane as just another one of Ra's al Ghul's flunkies. When Bruce and Alfred review tapes of Bane's assault on the bank, Bruce brushes away Alfred's assessment of Bane's combat abilities, stating that he'll simply "fight harder". He teams up with Catwoman to go underground and take out Bane, only to be outsmarted by Bane and lured into a trap. It's only thanks to the ensuing Curb-Stomp Battle that Batman realizes just how dangerous Bane really is.
  • When Rose the Hat infiltrates Abra's mind in Doctor Sleep in order to rifle through her memories, she sees her as nothing more than a child to be devoured. She ends up getting trapped in Abra's mindscape while her memory search is used against her, and her hand is severely mangled as well. From then on, Rose takes her young archnemesis very seriously.
  • In Dracula Untold, the Ottomans dismiss Vlad's past as "the Impaler" as being "what [he was]". Several of them get impaled for it.
  • Sheriff Teasle in First Blood contemptuously dismisses Col. Trautman's repeated warnings of just how dangerous Rambo really is. One could understand Teasle's attitude since Trautman does come off a bit hyperbolic, if not for that fact that Rambo had already effortlessly taken down an entire police search party and, with a knife pressed to Teasle's throat, made it very clear that the only reason they're all still alive is that Rambo didn't want them dead. Since Teasle should know better by this point, he edges on Too Dumb to Live territory.
  • In The Fly II, Bartok and Co assumed that Martinfly would be like his father (Seth Brundle, The Fly (1986)), who wasn't actually that much of a threat against anything more than an untrained man with a shotgun, and needed the element of surprise to do even that much damage to him. When Martinfly emerges from the cocoon that preceded his final stage, unlike his father, he is a pure hybrid, rather than a genetic mishmash. Martinfly is a powerful, towering monster, with all of his mental faculties intact, with none of the weaknesses that were present in his father. Bartok orders a capture, and it backfires horribly because Martinfly cannot be stopped.
  • Freddy vs. Jason: Freddy spends most of the film utterly contemptuous of Jason, calling him "a big, stupid dog who won't stop eating." He begins to realize his mistake when Jason effortlessly tanks his initial assault in the dream world, then completely falls apart when he finds himself in the real world, with a very angry Jason bearing down on him.
  • One of Jerry's students in The Hammer gets the bright idea to pretend to be gay and sign up to enter the Gay Games as a boxer, figuring it'd be a cakewalk. Jerry points out that isn't the foolproof plan the guy seems to think it is:
    Jerry: "I dunno, man. Some of those guys are pretty ripped."
    Student: "Jerry, c'mon; you think I'm gonna lose to some guy who enters the ring to Barbra Streisand?"
    Jerry: "Uh, I think you'd lose to Barbra Streisand."
    • When he see the same guy again later in the movie, he has a busted lip, a black eye, and a huge bandage crisscrossed over his nose.
  • When the title character of Hancock is serving time in prison, he is accosted by some thugs he'd gotten thrown in there. They attempt to threaten him, apparently forgetting that Hancock is a superhero on par with Superman, but with none of his sense of fair play or justice.
  • The main character in Harry Brown is a retired Royal Marine played by Michael Caine, spurred into vigilantism when street scum on his estate murder his old war buddy. Harry ends up killing several of them because they just see an old man with a bad back and keep letting their guard down around him. It also doesn't help that these teenagers are just arrogant wannabe-tough guys no match for the real thing, and often out of their minds with alcohol and drugs too which impairs their judgement further.
  • In Ip Man 2, the friends of Wong Leung who he calls to challenge Ip think he looks like a laundryman, while one of the Hong Kong masters thinks his name sounds lame. They have no idea.
  • Jaws: The crew of the Orca simply assume that the great white shark terrorizing Amity Island is just a large rogue shark and a mindless eating-machine. They soon realize that 1) the great white they're hunting is 25-feet long, 2) it's strong enough to pull down three barrels with little issue, and 3) it's intelligent enough to develop a vendetta against them. This leads to the sinking of the Orca and nearly the deaths of all onboard.
  • In Kaamelott: Premier Volet, slave merchant Quarto (Clovis Cornillac) goes after an enslaved King Arthur (Alexandre Astier) for a big bounty with just himself and two dumb Germanic mercenaries at the beginning. That might have been the last mistake of his life, as he's seemingly taken out via a scorpion thrown in his robes by Arthur and then Arthur dispatches one of the two mercenaries.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service:
    • Galahad is underestimated by a group of thugs who tell him to leave so they can jump Eggsy. Instead of leaving, he locks the doors and knocks them all out.
    • Arthur himself gets this treatment when he underestimates Eggsy, who had switched out his poisoned drink.
    • Eggsy is underestimated by his stepdad and accompanying thugs, none of whom realise that Eggsy is fresh from Kingsman training and saving the world. The thugs get worried after they see him lock the doors like Galahad did earlier.
  • In Knockaround Guys local big shot Brucker seriously underestimates Taylor, and gets this little speech and a serious beat down for his trouble:
    Taylor: 500.
    Brucker: 500 what, douche bag?
    Taylor: 500 fights, that's the number I figured when I was a kid. 500 street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy. You need them for experience. To develop leather skin. So I got started. Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point. You get past the silliness of it all. But then, after, you realize that's what you are.
  • In The Last Samurai, Omura and Colonel Bagley think little of Katsumoto and his Samurai followers as they have no guns or artillery (Bagley: "The rebels don't have a single rifle among them. They're savages with bows and arrows."). Then the newly-trained Imperial Army is easily destroyed by the samurai in a cavalry charge through heavy fog. When they fight the samurai again later in the Final Battle, Bagley has learned his lesson but Omura certainly hasn't.
    Omura: You see! Even the mighty samurai cannot stand up to the howitzers! Signal the attack.
    Bagley: I advise sending in skirmishers first.
    Omura: Nonsense! Full attack!
  • Elle in Legally Blonde is constantly underestimated and looked down on, simply because most people see her as a Dumb Blonde. She proves them all wrong when she gets into Harvard with a 179 (one mark away from the perfect test) score on the LSAT and again when she uses her knowledge of hair care to win her first case. And she's only a first-year law student!
  • The entire plot of Major Payne is fueled by the R.O.T.C. Boys repeatedly underestimating just how Badass Major Payne actually is. They hit him with enough laxative to "take out an entire football team" and it merely makes him gassy. They try to snap incriminating photos while he sleeps, but he sleeps with his eyes open. They send a biker after him, and Payne calmly claims he's going to "put his boot across the left side of the biker's face" and proceeds to do exactly that.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger, shortly after becoming a Super-Soldier, thanks in part to Dr. Erskine's death, he is pretty much placed onto a USO entertainment group seeing how they don't really have much of a use for the supersoldier program. When entertaining American troops in Italy, the soldiers are not impressed with his performance (one of the soldiers is also implied to have mooned him, and they eventually pelt tomatoes at him while demanding for the girls to return). Of course, after he single-handedly rescues 400 soldiers in one of Schmidt's bases, they begin to realize he really is that badass.
    • In The Avengers, Loki starts ranting at the Hulk as a mindless brute and his inferior. While this is a stupid act on anyone's part, Loki is quite arrogant, and most importantly, a god. The idea that the Hulk could defeat him probably never entered into his mind. The Hulk proceeds to beat the "puny god" down like a rag doll.
      • At the beginning of the movie, some Russian mobsters thought that Black Widow would be defenseless while tied to a chair. She proved them wrong, kicking their asses while still tied to the chair. Even before that, they underestimated her intellectual badassery as well: they thought they were interrogating her, but she was the one extracting useful information from them.
    • Captain America: Civil War: At the beginning of the airport battle, nobody on Team Iron Man seems to take Ant-Man's size-change powers seriously. Before the fight is over he manages to overpower Black Widow, nearly disable every weapon in Tony's suit, and almost single-handedly enable Cap and Bucky's escape by unveiling his new growth powers to turn into a giant and force Team Iron Man to focus all of their attacks on him.
      • On the flipside, Bucky and Falcon didn't think much of Spider-Man upon first seeing him, writing him off as another hero "with a gimmick". Cue the Curb-Stomp Battle between a 15-year-old in underoos and two grown men, in the former's favor.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne had been acquiring the tech they needed to build the quantum tunnel from Sonny Burch. When Hope goes to get the last part that they need, Sonny reveals that an FBI Agent who works for him had informed him of who she is, and he tries to convince her to do business with him. When Hope refuses and proceeds to wipe the floor with Sonny’s goons in her new suit, Sonny then tries to go after Hank, Hope, and Scott Lang but quickly gets shoved to the side by Ghost. And when he persists, Sonny is ultimately taken out by Scott’s friends by the end of the movie, who weren’t even taking him seriously when Sonny was trying to interrogate them for Scott's location.
    • Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), greatly underestimated the heroes, and thus was shocked that bunch of ragtag idiots could hold an Infinity Stone.
      Ronan: You're mortal! How...
      Star-Lord: You said it yourself bitch, we're the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, truly underestimated love and friendship as his son Peter Quill/Star-Lord uses those feelings to break free from his control and gave him the strength to fight back.
    • Thor: Ragnarok does this several times:
      • Thor and Loki aren't intimidated at all by Hela, their older sister when they meet her face to face despite Odin’s warnings when she tells them to kneel Loki just says "Excuse me?". It’s only when Hela crushes Mjölnir like a tissue box that Thor and Loki fully appreciate how powerful Hela is and Loki opts to flee.
      • Loki also does this earlier with Doctor Strange, despite having been sent falling through a portal for 30 minutes by the good doctor, he still mocks the mere mortal for being a "second rate" sorcerer and tries attacking him. Strange in response just tosses the Royal Brat through another portal. Also knowing how powerful Strange’s magic is compared to Loki's makes the scene funnier.
    • Iron Man has a very bad habit of this. He's focused on major cosmic threats such as the Chitauri and Thanos, but keeps underestimating local threats and dismissing ordinary criminals as "below the pay-grade," both his own and that of the Avengers as a team:
      • In Iron Man 2, he argues that he had privatized world peace and believes he was untouchable, with no one able to match his technology or trigger a real arms race. Ivan Vanko arrives and proves him wrong, and backed by Hammer does manage to field a force that rivals his.
      • In Iron Man 3, he goads the Mandarin to attack his house and gives him his address on live TV, believing that Mandarin won't be able to touch him. He ends up with his house destroyed, a fugitive on the run, captured by Killian, the real Mandarin, and in the end is nearly killed by him.
      • In Spider-Man: Homecoming he underestimates the Vulture, believing that the feds can handle a guy who has operated Beneath Suspicion for four years evading both the Avengers and law enforcement, and whose technology easily outplays and outmatches the FBI in their only confrontation. Had Spider-Man not intervened, the Vulture would have succeeded in robbing the vein of the Avengers' big weapon cache right under Stark's nose.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
      • The Black Order seriously underestimated The Avengers, Smug Snake Ebony Maw wrote Iron Man and co off as puny earthlings, thus became genuinely angry when they wounded him, kicked his brother Cull Obsidian's ass, and halted his goal of getting the Time Stone. Thanos is guilty of this too (as Doctor Strange notes), as he assumed taking on Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy would be a cakewalk, therefore probably wasn't expecting them to be able to incapacitate him and almost pull the Gauntlet off his hand. Subverted with 2014 Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, as having knowledge of his future's self demise was savvy enough to nuke the Avengers at their base and bring his entire army along this time. However, Thanos still underestimated Tony, at the cost of his life.
      • Inversely many of the heroes such as Cap, Thor, Black Panther, the Guardians of the Galaxy (especially Starlord) gravely underestimate Thanos and what he’s capable of. When the Mad Titan arrives in Wakanda, Cap and co decide to go with the tried and true “Throw everything at him with all your determination and courage and hope for the best” course of action and it fails miserably forcing them to fall back on Vision’s Heroic Sacrifice to just put the Mind Stone out of his grasp, but that doesn’t go well either. Thor is interesting case as he came well prepared with Stormbreaker, but he still underestimate how smart and tough Thanos is not imagining that the Titan would still carry out his plan even with an axe lodged in his torso. It’s for this reason in Avengers: Endgame the heroes refuse to take any chances at the start of the movie and carefully ambush Thanos in Sanctuary.
    • Another inverted example with Spidey and Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home, who both underestimate Green Goblin. Having dealt with massive threats like Thanos, a garish Mad Bomber on a glider isn’t all that concerning to them on the surface, with Peter describing him as a “flying green elf” at which Strange replies “he sounds jolly”. By the end of the movie the Goblin has almost killed both of them, murdered Aunt May and damaged the entire multiverse forcing Peter to sacrifice his identity, suffice to say there wasn’t anything jolly about that elf.
    • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: The Illuminati, heroes of Earth-838, make the very deadly mistake of dismissing Scarlet Witch as a non-threat to focus on Doctor Strange's multiversal travel (due to previous experiences), not realizing just how insane and powerful Wanda has become thanks to the Darkhold. They pay for it with their lives when she unleashes her full power and gruesomely kills them all with her chaos magic.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: Kang the Conqueror provides a glorious case of this towards to titular bug-themed hero. Having slaughtered countless heroes and Alternate Universe Avengers across the multiverse (even casually mentioning he’s killed numerous Thors) Kang outright states that he’s out of Scott’s league and doesn’t remotely consider Ant-Man a threat. Making it all the more shocking for Kang when Scott almost single handedly destroys his empire and his dimensional engine in a single Papa Wolf rampage over Cassie’s capture. During his Villainous Breakdown afterwards Kang has a real Tempting Fate moment screeching contemptuously that Scott and co just “Talk to ants” — just as Hank arrives with an army of thousands super ants to wreck Kang raw and prove how absolutely badass talking to ants can be.
  • The opening scene of The Matrix has this with the cops ignoring the Agents' orders and trying to apprehend Trinity themselves.
    "No, Lieutenant, your men are already dead."
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla (2014): Admiral Stenz has some doubts about Godzilla's ability to defeat the Mutos, in spite of chasing one of the Muto out of Honolulu and hardly being affected by the Navy's gunnery in San Francisco Bay.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): The government wants to kill all the Titans indiscriminately, and if Senator Williams in the senate scene or the military's rash firing of the Oxygen Destroyer are any indication, they're confident they could succeed if they could get past Monarch to try. This despite the fact that Monarch's own direct attempt to euthanize the male MUTO in the previous film using measures they'd had years to put in place, failed to so much as scratch it.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong:
      • Zig-Zagged by Dr. Ilene Andrews. She somewhat underestimates the extent of Kong's intelligence and emotion. She also recognizes to a greater extent than Lind that humans can't make Kong do what they want him to. She's also certain that if Kong were to leave Skull Island, Godzilla would invariably defeat and kill him (she's proven right about the defeat part).
      • Mark Russell seems to think Madison is Just a Kid who doesn't know what she's talking about when she goes to him with common-sensed points about Godzilla's rampage that he hasn't considered, and he dismisses everything she has to say; this despite her brave and world-saving actions in the previous film that have definitively proven that she is not some naive schoolgirl. Justified by protective fatherly instinct and the fact Mark isn't one of the most unbiased characters in the films.
  • The Next Karate Kid: Ned is shocked to the heavens when Julie, his Butt-Monkey for much of the film, utterly wrecks him in the climax.
  • In Queen of Outer Space, Queen Yllana led a successful uprising in which she wrested control of the planet from men because they didn't take her seriously.
    Patterson: How did she manage to overthrow the men?
    Talleah: Tey didn't take hair seriously. Tey vere preparing for var. After all, she vas only a voman.
  • In Quigley Down Under, the eponymous character says he doesn't have much use for pistols, and uses a rifle to wreck the villain Marston's thugs throughout the whole film, so at the end the latter thinks he can gain the upper hand by forcing Quigley to duel him with pistols. When Quigley turns out to be a Quick Draw virtuoso and shoots Marston dead, he says, "I always said I never had much use for one. I never said I didn't know how to use it."
  • The Princess (2022): The entire enemy army thinks they're just dealing with some pampered princess..right to the moment she starts killing them in droves.
  • In Rob Roy, the main character has only seen Cunningham act like a fop and not put himself in any sort of danger unless he has an army at his back, and as such he is taken completely by surprise when he turns out to be a master swordsman.
  • Romeo is Bleeding: When Jack first meets Mona, he's expecting to be impressed due to her fearsome reputation, but he "doesn't see it." She deadpans, "Keep lookin'."
  • In The Rundown, The Rock plays a "retrieval expert", and in the opening scene, a client has sent him to collect a debt from a professional football player. Having approached the player in a club, he gets a drink thrown in his face before looking round to see that half the team has surrounded him. Sighing, he explains that they can do this the easy way or the hard way — they choose the hard way. Cue one guy beating up seven or eight huge athletes with ease.
  • Secondhand Lions: When Hub is harassed by a group of ne'er-do-well greasers in a tavern, he not only kicks their asses (FOUR to ONE) but takes them home with him and teaches them what it means to be a man. Bad. Ass.
  • Shaolin Soccer:
    • Mighty Steel Leg is beaten up in a bar because he's not allowed to fight back. The same thugs meet him on the street and throw insults. One of them throws a football at him, he kicks it back HARD.
    • Later, the film's antagonist actually pays the Shaolin team's entry fee because they look too pathetic to be any threat to his team.
  • In the climax of Sky High (2005), Layla squares off against Cruel Cheerleader and The Dragon to Royal Pain Penny, who believed she was no threat since she had been relegated to the Hero Support track. The truth was she had been deemed a sidekick because she refused to show off her powers on principle because she disapproved of the school's Power Placement system, leading to Coach Boomer automatically shuffling her off to Hero Support. Her Green Thumb powers were actually as strong as any hero's, as Penny learned the hard way when Layla decided to cut loose.
  • The Specialist. The bus is crowded. Ray Quick gets up from his seat to give it to a nice pregnant strap-hanging lady. One member of a group of punks instantly jumps into the seat. Even though Ray is built like a refrigerator with a head, the punk tells him "Fuck you" when Ray says "That seat's taken." His boys have got his back, after all. Hilarity Ensues and the lady gets the seat.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Another "punk on a bus" moment. This guy likes his boombox loud, and he's not going to turn it down for anybody, let alone this older guy in his pajamas or his weird friend wearing a bathrobe and headband. So he responds to the guy's request to turn the thing down by turning it up, and giving him a one-finger salute. Then he becomes aware that the bathrobe guy is reaching for his ne—
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, when being questioned by Kirk, John Harrison makes a snide comment about Spock being a Vulcan and how Spock wouldn't know savagery like him. Spock proves him wrong when he delivers a brutal beatdown on Harrison/Khan after Kirk's death. There is a good reason why Vulcans suppress their emotions.
  • Star Wars:
    • The cantina scene in A New Hope. A couple of criminals don't take too kindly to Luke Skywalker, and probably don't think the old guy with him would be much help in a fight. A few seconds later someone's lost an arm.
    • A few higher ranking Imperials are arrogant and sheltered enough to think Darth Vader is just some toady of the Emperor or that their high positions shield them from his notorious wrath. Vader proves them wrong on both counts when Admiral Motti gets a little too lippy in a meeting and is immediately Force-choked for it, only surviving because Tarkin — who is actually on Vader's level rank-wise — tells Vader to knock it off.
    • Shortly afterwards, Greedo the Rodian bounty hunter thinks he has smuggler Han Solo helplessly cornered. Unfortunately for him, Han prepares his blaster under the table, with which he fries him.
    • Jabba the Hutt came to power during the Republic's heyday. He survived the Clone Wars. He was positively thriving with the Empire. The Rebellion and Luke Skywalker probably seemed small potatoes compared to them. He was wrong.
    • Yoda is severely underestimated by both Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones and by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith. While the latter manages to take the win, it isn't an easy one and more due to luck.
    • Palpatine himself is on the receiving end of this when Mace Windu — in a rush after learning of Palpatine's true nature and believing that the Chancellor is a fairly average if intelligent Sith and an old man besides — goes to arrest him with a team of only four Jedi (Mace included) in the dead of night with no witnesses. They end up learning the hard way that Palpatine is exceptionally more powerful than an average Sith Lord and very capable in battle despite his advanced age, as Palpatine proceeds to cut down three of the Jedi in seconds and it takes all of Mace's considerable power and skill to overcome him… a fact which Palpatine then exploits to push Anakin into his last jump towards the Dark Side and manipulate him into helping kill the exhausted Mace.
  • Tap (1988): "But since you ain't got no legs..."
    Mo: You know what this young man said? We ain't got no legs! Dat means, I ain't got no legs, you ain't got no legs, and dem men in there ain't got no legs! Now what's dat sound like to you?
    Sandman: A challenge!
And the rest of the gang comes storming in to show Max a thing or two.
  • Terminator
    • The biker punks of the original The Terminator learn the hard way that they are Too Dumb to Live when the naked big guy wants clothes. They're lucky that the Terminator in question just let them live. Well, mostly.
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The T-800 walks into a bar in the buff and tells some punk to give him his clothes and his motorcycle. The punk starts a fight. Guess what happens?
    • This was also infamously used on the audience when Judgment Day came out, as there was no indication Robert Patrick's character was the villain and people assumed the villain would be Big Arnie again rather than the much smaller and leaner police officer. Cue the T-1000 going toe-to-toe with the T-800, and winning, and this is before he even reveals how creative he is with his liquid metal...
  • This happens to Frank Martin a lot in The Transporter movies. No one seems to expect a chauffeur to be a Badass. Frank and Lai do it to The Dragon in the first film, whom they believe to be a sleazy Amoral Attorney, and not the Blood Knight he really is.
  • True Lies: Harry has been captured by the bad guys and is tied up. The torture technician asks him if there is anything he would like to tell him before the torture begins. Harry, unable to lie, gives a detailed description of how he intends to escape and kill his captors. All through this, his captors listen in amusement. Until he proceeds to do exactly what he said he would.
    Samir: "And what makes you think you can do all that?"
    Harry: "You know my handcuffs?"
    Samir: *smugly* "Hm."
    Harry: "I picked them." *cue massive Oh, Crap! look from Samir*
  • Under Siege: Casey Ryback? Yeah, he's just a cook.
  • In Valdez is Coming, Tanner thinks that because Valdez is old and Mexican, he must be a pushover. He punishes Valdez for having the audacity to suggest that he give $100 to the widow of the man he had killed in a case of mistaken identity by having his men tie a heavy cross to Valdez's back and drive him into the desert to die. Unfortunately for him, Valdez is The Determinator and a One-Man Army, and he returns to cut a swathe through Tanner's men until he gets the $100.
  • In Valentine, four of the five main characters framed a classmate for assaulting one of them in middle school and got him sent to a mental institution. Then someone starts sending them threatening Valentines and bumping them off, with none of them taking the threats seriously; the worst of them is Paige Prescott, who admits to the cops she thought the Valentine sent to her was a joke and when the truth comes out that the initial accuser lied, she has this to say:
    "Dorothy, I really wouldn't worry about this. Jeremy Melton couldn't manage a water fountain without screwing up. I don't think he's capable of an intricate revenge plot."
  • Napoleon Bonaparte in Waterloo disparages his opponents several times throughout the film, from their commander (mocking his generals with "You let Wellington chase you around the Peninsular!") to the soldiers ("Has Wellington nothing to offer me but these amazons?"), and even as the battle is deteriorating rapidly, he is still adamant that Wellington is beaten and that he can rescue the situation. Not here, not today.
  • The Zatoichi series in Japan lives on the basis that people are always underestimating Zatoichi because he is blind, but is really an extremely deadly swordsman.

  • Kenny Rogers's "Coward of the County" — a man who took an oath to never resort to violence, comes home and discovers that three men had gang-raped his wife. He tracks them down to the bar they were drinking at. One goes to confront him and he turns right around and, as they laugh, walks back to the front door. Then he locks it so they won't be able to run away from the aggression he's been bottling up for 20 years. When he's done, not one of them is still standing.
    • He then stands there and apologises to the soul of his dead father for not being strong enough to walk away from this one.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Pretty much anyone who picks a fight with a pro wrestler thinking it's going to be easy because wrestling isn't real. First of all, even though the finishes are decided beforehand, the levels of strength and toughness required to be a pro wrestler are immense. Second, although pro wrestling has been predetermined and show biz for about a century, catch-wrestling techniques form the base of pro wrestling, and catch-wrestling is absolutely a real style of fighting. There are far too many stories of wrestlers winning bar fights against football players and boxers and other assorted hooligans to recount here individually — the point is, don't start trouble with a wrestler unless you want to get dropped on your head.
  • The only Canadian Wrestling Revolution women's champion, Sara Del Rey, had reason to be confident in her abilities, but not enough to call a match against The Super hardcore Anime (aka, LuFisto) easy, much less a title defense. LuFisto was in earshot and immediately interrupted Del Rey's promo to call her out.
  • Gregory Helms, aka The Hurricane, is a Lethal Joke Character so this is to be expected... But his match against The Rock takes this to its zenith point. The first part of the match is a very uphill battle for Hurricane with Rock and the announcers treating the match as little more than a joke. Every time the Rock assumes that Hurricane is finished he manages to shoot back to life and fight back with some damn fine wrestling, but even then the Rock seems more surprised than actually hurt. But near the end of the match, Hurricane EXPLODES out of a near-minute-long chokehold and proceeds to spend the next five minutes pounding the ever-loving crap out of the Rock and making him look like an amateur. Rock manages to survive the three count only by the slimmest of milliseconds. Stone Cold makes an appearance a little later and Hurricane uses the distraction to once again spring to life and land a schoolboy on the Rock for the win.
  • In NWA Ring Warriors, Sienna Duvall relished at the chance to beat Su Yung, whom she viewed as a "diva" due to training in the WWE revived FCW. La Rosa Negra, who was already in a prolonged feud with Duvall, had little to say about Yung, just told Duvall to remember she was not a diva. After La Rosa initially brushed Yung aside though Su ended up becoming the top contender to her title and one of her most respected adversaries (though Yung's big moment was slightly spoiled by the champ actually being hospitalized from it)
  • Cheerleader Melissa did not think much of Ivelisse Vélez, whom she had to defend her women's title against when Pro Wrestling Revolution sent her to Puerto Rico to get them more exposure with the World Wrestling League and made this feeling clear by beating her all around the ring and even canceling what would have been a successful pin to slap her around some more. Vélez rallied and ended up pinning Melissa for the title belt. Her reign lasted only three weeks but in that time she successfully retained against Melissa again before she finally learned to take Vélez more seriously. Ironically, Melissa had to face Sarah Stock, whom she had previously underestimated in SHIMMER to get back into title contention.
  • This became the death knell for Bart Gunn's career (At least in WWE). While there are reports that the WWE Brawl for All was being used as a vehicle for "Dr. Death" Steve Williams that would eventually lead to a feud with Steve Austin, Gunn, who himself had a background of being a toughman, noticed this and suggested to hold off the match between them until the end, but was condescendingly told that they believed in Williams's ability to win. This mockery likely fueled his drive to win as, after Williams tore his hamstring in the match, Gunn managed to win via knockout. After winning the Brawl for All Gunn was sent home, having heat with management for ruining their plans for Williams, as he would only be brought back at Wrestlemania 15 to be fed to Butterbean in a Brawl for All match as a punishment before being fired afterward.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: Has the Battle of Tukayyid as an example, then the Clans, a ridiculously militaristic society of warriors born from hundred years of eugenics programs were challenged by semi-religious interstellar telecommunications company ComStar in a desperate attempt to save Earth from conquest. The Clans brought every single one of their Khans, barely caring about even studying the tactics of their opposing commander, Anastasius Focht, treating it more like a formality rather than a battle and dismissing Focht as paper general and his army as a bunch of bureaucrats playing at war. As a result, when the clans landed on Tukayyid, Focht, himself a lifelong general, who had been diligently studying Clanner tactics, led his relatively green but very well trained ComGuard forces in absolutely mauling the clan forces through well thought out tactics and prepared defences. In the words of a particularly insightful lore youtuber:
    Tex of the Black Pants Legion: The Clans did the worse thing they could when looking at an opponent, they dismissed him as a joke and failed to respect him, and for that, he fucking broke them.
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
  • During Magic: The Gathering's Alara block, Nicol Bolas is an eons-old Elder Dragon Planeswalker (there is only one other Planeswalker older than him in the entire series). Ajani Goldmane is a newly Ignited leonin Planeswalker. Bolas taunts Ajani with a badass boast about how old he is, and Ajani responds by using his soul magic to create the one foe Bolas would never be able to ignore: a copy of Bolas himself.
  • In Traveller one of the main reasons the Terran Confederation defeated the Vilani Imperium was that the Vilani, at first didn't think much of Terra and effectively thought of themselves as trying to "arrest" it rather than trying to "conquer" it. They found out that Terrans were warriors.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: A common meta example — often, many fights are between the player characters and human gangbangers who don't know that the people in front of them can, among other things, punch through walls, take a shotgun blast to the face, outrun a high-speed train or swing a longsword with one hand. And how the players love it.
    • In-Universe The Nosferatu get this. They're hideously ugly and spend most of their time in the sewers, so they're easy to ignore. The thing is, they're also impossibly good at information collection, and are masters of Obfuscate, which lets them change their appearances and outright disappear at will. They know more about you than any other sapient creature on the planet, and there's nothing you can do to stop them learning it. Never piss off the people who can hand the people who want you dead an itemized list of your weaknesses...
    • Clan Toreador gets this a lot. The Clan of the Rose are generally dismissed as artsy hipsters more interested in wallowing in mortal pleasures and whiling away the nights with art of all kinds than being predators of the night. These people forget that every Toreador possesses Super-Speed and Super-Senses, meaning that they can all be above-average brawlers and gunslingers in a pinch. Furthermore, the Toreador inclination towards social pursuits makes them excellent interrogators, which, coupled with Super-Senses, makes them capable of investigating things no others can. A disproportionately high number of Sheriffs (including The Dreaded Qadir al-Asmai, Sheriff of New York) are Toreador. Then there are those Toreador who are martial artists... let's just say that everyone minds their manners around them, and those that don't die horribly.
    • The Ventrue tend to be thought of as just doing nothing but accumulating money and trading favors, but this has granted the Clan of Kings countless allies to use against their enemies. It has been emphasized that you never fight against a Venture, you fight against a Ventrue and everyone they have working for them, even people who simply made eye contact with them considering the Ventrue also have access to the Dominate and Presence Disciplines. Even then, they are far from helpless in a direct fight as they also have Fortitude which allows them to shrug off attacks that would be fatal to other Kindred.
  • Warhammer:
    • Many opponents think that the young troopers of Ricco's Republican Guard are more interested in looking good and parading through the streets than in fighting. When they get into battle, however, the Republican Guard prove that they are an elite and highly skilled unit of pikemen who, in game terms, have a higher Weapon Skill characteristic than regular basic infantry.
    • Most people tend to have a hard time believing that Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks, a band of rotund halflings in jaunty clothes, can possibly be all that dangerous. The Fighting Cocks are, in fact, that dangerous, being expert trackers, skilled fighters, and nearly fearless, and have won their fair share of battles against foes that underestimated them.
  • Warhammer 40,000: This happens absurdly often, to the point where one wonders how these individuals have managed to survive for so long considering they tend to die horribly after severely underestimating their opponent. Examples include but are definitely not limited to Imperial Guard thinking that Orks are mindless brutes, Orks thinking Imperial Guard are just squishy wimps, Space Marines thinking filthy Eldar are no match for their zeal, Eldar thinking Space Marines are foolish primitives, everyone else thinking Necrons are just machines, Necrons thinking everyone else is just defenseless food... it happens a lot, is the point.
    • The most ironic example is Ciaphas Cain, who honestly believes he's an abject coward. Except events and his own better nature keep conspiring to make him a hero. Despite his claims, he is genuinely brave on more than one occasion. At one point, he tries desperately to get back to an isolated friend who's about to be overrun and blames it on some sort of head injury.
    • One time, a squad of Orks and their gigantic Warboss see an unarmed Space Marine with broken armour digging his way out of a pile of rubble. Thinking this is going to be an easy skull on his boss pole, the Warboss and his boyz attack. Rather than being a quick kill, the Space Marine instead charges into the fray and starts killing Orks with his bare hands. It finally ends when the Space Marine hoists the Warboss up and yanks out his heart. This is the first appearance of Mephiston, the Blood Angels' Lord of Death.
    • The planet Nocturne was a frequent target of Dark Eldar raids until the superhuman primarch Vulkan came along and decided to fight back. Inspiring the natives humans, ordinary people who up until then had given up fighting in favor of hiding to give their super-advanced, nigh immortal and better-equipped tormentors such a beating that they never came back.
    • The T'au and the Imperium were both hit by this when T'au expansion ran into imperial space. The Imperium though the T'au were a tiny, insignificant Xenos empire they could just roll over like they have many times before; meanwhile the T'au though the Imperium were a decrepit, dying civilisation on the brink of collapse that they could bring down with a lightning strike. To a certain extent they were both right, the T'au are tiny but far more competent that the Imperium gave them credit for; meanwhile the Imperium is rotting from within but can still field armies larger than anything the T'au could dream of. They ended up fighting each other to a bloody stalemate and settling into a state of Space Cold War.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown's DLC mini-campaign, two characters notably underestimate Player Character Trigger's badassery, though by the end both come around in their own way.
    • Prior to the second mission, analyst David North's AI assistant Alex runs a combat simulation of what would happen if Trigger and Arc Villain Matias Torres were to fight and says the simulation failed, giving three explanations as to why - North's parameters are trash, Norths's hypothesis is trash, or Torres is a "singularity". When North suggests a fourth possibility: that Trigger is a "singularity", Alex dismisses this as outside the confidence interval, prompting North to dig up more data to feed to Alex.
    • During the second mission, Torres himself dismisses Trigger as not actually being a threat to him or his plans, particularly stating his belief that Trigger lacks the vision he has and as such can't hope to beat Torres's drive and vision to "save ten million lives at the cost of a million".
    • At the end of the second mission, pilots Rage and Scream of Mimic Squadron underestimate not Trigger's badassery, but wingman Count's, responging to him saying that it's two-on-two that he doesn't count and it's two-on-one. While Count isn't up to bringing them down, he quickly proves himself far more skilled than they expected, dodging their missiles and formulating a plan to help Trigger take them down.
  • Assassin's Creed II: Duccio de Luca picking a fight with Ezio Auditore da Firenze thirty years after Ezio publicly beat him for infidelity against Ezio's sister. The reason Duccio dares to do so? He's got a few unarmed thugs for muscle, while Ezio's alone. Veers into Too Dumb to Live though, that Ezio by now was the man who fought off the would-be killers of Lorenzo de' Medici, participated in the Forli succession conflict, killed Girolamo Savanarola, fought the Borgia family guards at the bridge to the Vatican district, and even openly took to the streets to drive Cesare Borgia from Rome; all of these incidents being in public, with witnesses, and Ezio wearing the Assassin Robes. On top of that, before this Ezio was (even after his exile from Florence) had been a recognized absentee lord of the castle-town of Monteriggioni, making him a semi-public figure.
  • Villains in the Batman: Arkham Series are bad at this.
    • The ones in Batman: Arkham Origins are arguably justified, as this early in Batman's career and before he became a legend, so they have no reason to really fear him.
    • The Joker is a curious case, as he tends to be aware his men have no chance against Batman (which he taunts them over); and his plans almost work and run the entire game, so his constantly thinking he'll defeat Batman may be justified. The other villains who constantly lose to Batman but still think this time they'll win have no such excuse. The Mooks who talk about Batman breaking their bones the last time they fought, but still taunt Batman about how they'll "kick the living crap out of you" are simply Too Dumb to Live.
    • In Batman: Arkham Knight, the titular Arkham Knight boasts that he knows everything about Batman, including every trick he has; and then spends the entire game underestimating and losing to him. Given that he's Jason Todd, he has the least excuse out of everyone. It even gets lampshaded by Halluination!Joker.
    "What kind of villain thinks a bullet to the stomach and a handful of tanks will stop the Batman?!?"
  • In Belladonna, the mad scientist who killed and reanimated his wife didn't think she was even fully conscious, let alone learning his secrets and plotting to kill him.
  • This trope is twisted in the BlazBlue series in the sense that the underestimating is on a tactical level than a physical one. While one could easily chalk up Makoto as a Spanner in the Works due to her effing up Hazama's plans in Slight Hope, she was also conducting a survey of the Ibukido ruins on Hazama's orders, gathered information during her trip to a parallel Kagutsuchi, and used that information to reshape her plans — you know, the things an Intelligence officer should be doing. The reason it counts as this trope is simple: not only is Hazama an extracontinuual entity who witnessed multiple timelines, but in every one of them, Makoto was his lieutenant, meaning that if he was competent at his job as her Captain, there is no excuse for him to not know better. In fact, the mission to Ibukido sealed a Stable Time Loop he was trying to destroy by killing her in a Uriah Gambit, and that mistake continues to find new and inventive ways to haunt him. By the end of Chronophantasma, that mistake along with others almost costs him his life and only his own backup plans save him from getting erased from existence.
  • In Borderlands 2, Marcus reveals that the entire reason he's fat is that Moxxi advised him to put on weight when they were married so that his enemies would underestimate him. He also implies that Moxxi is Ms. Fanservice for the exact same reason.
  • In the Civilization games, the NPC leaders will often make disparaging comments such as "your army is the laughingstock of the world" if you happen to have a smaller military than they do. They tend to fail to take into account things like technological advances.
    • This also happens in Galactic Civilizations, despite the designers claiming that their AI is markedly superior to that of other 4X games. A computer player may have a bigger fleet than you and may even be slightly more advanced but will completely discount your industrial capacity. What this means is that you can build a fleet twice the size of his in the time it takes him to get his fleet to your planets (and computer planets are notorious for declaring war first and preparing for it after).
  • In Darksiders II, quite a few people who bump into Death seem to be under the impression that just because he can't use his full powers as a Horseman due to his quest being personal rather than sanctioned by the Charred Council they can take him in a fight or send him off on missions that'll get him killed. Death proceeds to show them how wrong they are, fatally so for their troubles in some cases.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Dante frequently runs into enemies who assume he will be easy prey either because of his humorous personality or human heritage. Every single time, he proves them wrong.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, Dante underestimates Nero's abilities and he even admits it after their first fight. He didn't expect that the young man had a demonic arm that turned the tide of their battle.
      Dante: Looks like you've got a trick up your sleeve.
      Nero: I thought the cat had your tongue. But if it's the trick that you want, then try this!
    • Devil May Cry 5:
      • Dante does this to Urizen, the Big Bad of the game. While he is mildly impressed at Urizen defeating Lady and Trish, it is not until the villain destroys Rebellion that Dante finally understands the severity of what he is dealing with and he can only cry out for Nero to run.
      • Crew Cut's entire squad just got slaughtered, he himself is severely wounded, and the guy he sees charging in to fight the demons is wearing a prosthetic arm, so he tries to get this seeming amputee to run away. Thankfully for everyone but said demons, this amputee is Nero, equipped with the new Devil Breaker courtesy of Nico, and he's a One-Man Army more than capable of demon slaying.
  • In the Dragon Age series:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, there are only two Grey Wardens remaining. One is you, the other one is in your party. Everybody still thinks they got a chance against you. Lampshaded by a guard after witnessing you fight:
      Sergeant Kylon: And people actually attack you voluntarily. Are they just stupid?
    • In Dragon Age II, this tends to happen as well, despite the entire point of the start of the game being about increasing your reputation/infamy. You still get people thinking you're "all hype" even after you get to Act 2, wherein you've reclaimed your family's noble status and bought back your ancestral home through acts of sheer heroism — specifically delving into parts of the Deep Roads that make everyone short of the Legion of the Dead soil their armor — and have everyone up to the Arishok respecting you... Or at least having a "growing lack of disgust" for you. The fact that anything short of an entire army is willing to stand up to you and your comrades by Act 3 is the height of foolishness.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, one of the bad guys is actually counting on this. Grand Duchess Florianne, cousin and lady-in-waiting to the Empress of Orlais, is secretly in league with the Big Bad. She has a reputation for being quiet and retiring, rarely any sort of focus in court politics, and is easily overlooked. She's using all that to her advantage, fully convinced that no one will suspect her of being the assassin prowling the ballroom. And she's almost right.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • One would think that a memo would have been sent to all of the Nine Holds warning everyone not to threaten the Dragonborn, who routinely fights Dragons single-handedly. They generally learn their error within a few moments of hearing "FUS RO DAH!"
    • Taken to an extreme by the Thalmor, who despite having the military strength to threaten the Empire, only ever bother to send up to 3 mooks after you at a time, even though they potentially may have suffered dozens of casualties at your hands.
    • The Vigil of Stendarr, while noble in their cause, seem to consistently underestimate their villainous enemies. The Vigil, despite their best efforts, are often unprepared for just how nasty their enemies can get. The Vigilant investigating a cultist's house in Markarth is dominated and driven to murderous violence by Molag Bal, and the entire Hall of the Vigilant, the group's headquarters, is wiped out by the Volkihar vampire clan at the start of the Dawnguard DLC.
  • In the Fable series, even after the history of superhuman exploits you have well into the game, common thugs and bandits will still voluntarily attack you. This is particularly Too Dumb to Live-ish in Fable 3, where people will attack you when you're King, despite knowing of your Badass lineage and the fact that you are the only thing capable of saving Albion from certain doom.
  • After spending most of Fate/Grand Order being as severely underestimated by your allies as by your enemies, the enemy Crypter in Lostbelt Olympus instead greets you with his most powerful Servant, a military force, and an orbital Wave-Motion Gun on standby. When that fails, he takes to the battlefield himself — and yes, he can match your Servants for power. All this still isn't enough to stop you, but it's refreshing to see somebody take you seriously, and very clearly demonstrates why he's The Ace of the Crypters.
  • The Godfather 2: Every one of the enemy mob bosses you meet talks smack to you, with Michael himself joining in at times. Regrettably, there's no Enemy Chatter for you to get the satisfaction of hearing them take their words back as you kill them off.
  • The Organization XIII elite assassin and second strongest member of the Organization, Axel is underestimated by many characters in Kingdom Hearts. They always turned out to be their worst (and often last) mistakes. All the Organization members who were sent to Castle Oblivion except Lexaeus underestimated him. Axel tricked them all and killed them one by one, by both direct and indirect means.
    • Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, and rest of the remaining members of the organization underestimated Axel, after his treachery. He alone destroyed the biggest part of the Organization's army and paved the path of their fall.
    • The main villain of the franchise, Master Xehanort, did not take note of his return in his human form, eventually allowing him to spoil the evil genius' plan.
    • Master Xehanort underestimated Master Aqua, which was why his first plan failed.
  • Pretty much every foe that Kirby comes into contact with is baffled at the idea of this pink gumdrop being able to so much as find his way to their evil lair, let alone effortlessly defeat them as well as the Eldritch Abomination they summon/turn into at the end of the game. Magolor is easily the worst of these types of foes, as it's hinted he outright knew how strong Kirby was and yet still tried to take him down. One bigger than normal Ultra Sword to the face later and Magolor decides that it might be a better idea to pull a Heel–Face Turn than try that again.
  • You'd be surprised how many people think they can take on Shepard and his/her Badass Crew, even after s/he is Famed In-Story, in Mass Effect 2. (It never ends well for them).
    • For example, Jedore, the leader of the Blue Suns on Korlus:
      Jedore: There are three of them. THREE! Anything can be killed if you do your damn jobs!
    • During the mission to track down Morinth, a pair of turian muggers are convinced Shepard is just a puny human. Beatdowns ensue.
    • During the same mission Shepard can order a turian to stop harassing an asari. If Shepard is female, the turian will even make an advance on her. No matter the gender, it ends with said turian being thrown across the room.
    • Despite knowing that Wrex, the most powerful krogan on Tuchanka, has nothing but respect for Shepard, that Shepard has the balls (regardless of gender) to headbutt a krogan chieftain to get him to shut up (a species strong enough to snap a human's neck by backhanding them) and has personally witnessed Shepard and buddies not only survive but possibly kill a thresher maw on foot, something that has not been done in centuries (and the last time was by Wrex), said aforementioned chieftain still thinks he can take Shepard in a fight.
    • In the Arrival DLC, Shepard is captured and sedated by an indoctrinated scientist, who has him/her locked up with a small army of indoctrinated soldiers outside. This... doesn't work out.
    • Shepard was the last person for who knows how long to kill a Reaper. The Reapers and the Collectors still believe him/her to be just one person... at least until the end of ME 2.
      Garrus: Honestly? The Collectors killed you once and all it did is piss you off. I can't imagine they'll stop you this time.
    • The Illusive Man, even after being indoctrinated by the Reapers, has a great deal of respect for Shepard. His underling Kai Leng, on the other hand, ignores his advice on how dangerous Shepard can be. It ends badly for Kai Leng.
    • Less destructively, Vega challenges you to spar when you get the Normandy in 3, on the logic that you're just as human as he is. After the opening to 2, as a result of which you're 30% cybernetics and able to wield shotguns and sniper rifles with enough recoil to break a normal human's arm... yeah, you're not quite as human as he is, and despite Vega's massive muscle development, it's almost certainly going to end with him getting flipped, quite possibly by the comparatively slim female Shepard.
    • The salarians tend to get this treatment a lot. As Mordin points out, salarians may not look very physically imposing, but being easily dismissable and also highly adept at stealth and subterfuge means that nobody ever sees them coming. The salarians were the forerunners of the Citadel's Spectre program, basing it heavily on their already existing STG force and even drawing on STG agents to be the first members. In 3, you actually uncover a Prothean Popsicle who expresses surprise that the salarians actually evolved at all, let alone that they became one of the dominant species of this Cycle. In fact, given the fact that the salarians discovered the Citadel only a few decades after the asari did, it's possible that if the protheans didn't intervene in the asari's evolution, that these unassuming skinny amphibians would've been the rulers of the galaxy.
      • Among the salarians, Dr. Mordin Solus stands out in particular as this, one can easily assume the good natured, scrawny, cartoonishly hyperactive doctor is pretty harmless, but, dig even a little deep and one would find out that along with genetics and medicine, Mordin dabbled in being an STG operative. He can also effectively kill things with anything from firearms and melee weapons to farming equipment.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Not to anywhere near the same extent as Shepard, due to Ryder not getting a full badass reputation until halfway through the game, but they still have a lot of criminals who think it's a good idea to try and kill them for the loot.
  • Mega Man X suffers from this quite a few times. Being a centuries-old "robotic relic" who is also a Technical Pacifist, many reploids think he'd be a cinch to defeat despite the fact he's a famous Maverick Hunter. They're more than a little surprised when he destroys them.
    • The Day of Sigma OVA basically centers around Sigma vastly underestimating X.
    • Many Mega Man Zero bosses mock Zero's "Legendary Hero" status and the fact that he was out of commission for about 100 years since the X era. How wrong they are.
  • A heroic example in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance with the Final Boss. When Senator Steven Armstrong steps out of his destroyed Humongous Mecha to challenge Raiden, Raiden assumes he's just some Non-Action Big Bad getting in way over his head.
    Raiden: Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!
    Armstrong: Let's go!
    Raiden: The hell are you thinking... [Armstrong tackles him 10 feet in the air]
  • In the backstory of Star Trek Online, Ja'rod, son of Torg, a Klingon Defense Force officer and a minor nobleman, was on vacation when a trio of Undine infiltrators attempted to Kill and Replace him. He killed two of them and tortured the third into revealing its species' Evil Plan. For reference, the Undine (also known as Species 8472), as large, three-legged creatures who have engineered their bodies to be powerful bioweapons. Even a scratch from an Undine is a death sentence, as its cells will spread through your body like cancer in a matter of minutes.
  • Star Wars:
    • An aversion in Knights of the Old Republic: When the protagonist closes in on Malak in the Star Forge, Malak unleashes an unending army using the Star Forge's limitless resources. Given that he knows what the protagonist has accomplished and that the protagonist is his former master Revan, he doesn't expect his forces to kill the protagonist, only slow them down so that he can fully prepare for the final showdown.
    • Anyone who looks down on or doubts the Bounty Hunter in Star Wars: The Old Republic, particularly force users, are quickly set straight.
    • The Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords gets this a lot for someone whose status as a Jedi Knight and ex-war general is common knowledge. Early on in the game, your party is being held under arrest on Telos and a bounty hunter breaks into your cell to try and take you in to collect on a bounty. Because it's not as if a Jedi Knight has the power of the Force or anything, ri—...oh wait...
      • Averted on one occasion when s/he's Storming the Castle — a pair of mooks who just witnessed the carnage panic and start fleeing. One of the possible answers to that is approximately:
        The Exile: Finally, someone's sane. Run while you can!
    • In The Force Unleashed, General Rahm Kota seriously underestimates Starkiller in their first meeting.
      Kota: A boy? Months of attacking Imperial targets, and Vader sends a boy to fight me?!
  • Shantae is routinely underestimated by foes, with all of them assuming the same thing: she's Just a Kid who's in way over her head. Naturally, every single time, she proceeds to kick their butt. The only villain who actually learns from this is Big Bad Risky Boots, and even she had this problem in the first game (although now she views Shantae as a Worthy Opponent).
  • The Mario Brothers tend to be underestimated by villains when Mario, Luigi, or both first meet them. Even the villains who recognize them underestimate just how strong they are.
  • Touhou Project characters never seem to realize that fighting Reimu or Marisa is a bad idea. Considering the former can make herself completely invincible at will, the latter can obliterate continents, and both of them have fought and won against some of the most horrifically powerful beings in existence, it is no wonder the string of pathetically weak individuals that keep challenging them to fights don't exactly leave unscathed.
  • Trails Series: Many characters have a tendency to underestimate the capabilities of Lloyd Bannings. In a world with super-geniuses, people with mystical powers, and elite fighters who have been undergoing harsh training since they were children, Lloyd's adversaries are often surprised that a fairly ordinary police detective is giving them so much trouble. This is largely because they are unprepared for Lloyd's sheer levels of determination, that lead him to be able to repeatedly stand up to stronger opponents and relentlessly pursue the truth of a case.
  • A rather interesting example in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: for most of the game, all of your enemies underestimate the "newbie vampire". It's subverted near the end when everyone seems to realize "holy cow, how is this days-old vampire surviving all of these suicide missions?!" By that point, half of the Elder vampires want you on their side, and the rest think you're enough of a threat to need to be exterminated.
    • Potentially a Justified Trope. The relative power of vampires is usually a combination of generation and the amount of time since being embraced. Typically, the player character would be expected to be thirteenth generation, at best, which used to be believed to be the weakest possible generation for a vampire for most of the setting's timeline. The blood points at character creation indicates the player is an eighth-generation vampire (although this is never explicitly mentioned). It has been over 700 years since it was common for newly embraced vampires to be eighth generation, so it's hardly surprising there is a tendency to underestimate them.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon; in the penultimate chapter, Ichiban warns the mysterious stranger who's standing in his way that he really doesn't want to fight, as Ichiban's so riled up he's liable to kill the guy. That guy is Kazuma Kiryu, who wouldn't have it any other way before he takes Ichiban to the cleaners.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Voltaire knew Tara was dangerous. It just never crossed his mind that she would be dangerous to HIM.
  • Erfworld: As the quote on the quotes page indicates, Parson Gotti is subjected to this a lot, mainly because, coming from Earth to, well, Erf, he doesn't know anything the "perfect warlord" should know. They get enlightened. Forcibly. Apparently, Rules Lawyering is the greatest ability a warlord on Erf can possess.
  • Girl Genius: This happens with a significant number of characters.
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach. Check yourself. Incidentally, this also happens to be his Berserk Button, making it an even bigger mistake than it usually is.
    • Gilgamesh had that trope reversed on him later on, not realizing that Vole was holding back to avoid seriously hurting the Baron's son. However, he is no longer worried about that. The end of this fight also makes him one of the very few people who managed to scare a Jäger.
    • Later, Tarvek happens upon a crying woman cradling the bodies of two dead animals that she failed to save. They are attacked again. This happens. He apparently didn't learn though as five minutes later he needs to be reminded.
    • How dangerous could Gil's valet be? First Bangladesh DuPree and then Boris Dolokov find out.
    • Zola makes the mistake of stabbing someone the apparently ordinary Airman Higgs was just starting to like, prompting a truly EPIC beatdown.
    • And of course, who would ever think a fluffy white cat was an evil mastermind?
    • Even the title character frequently gets underestimated, though she also has almost as many problems with people OVERestimating her and reacting accordingly.
  • In Gosu this typically happens to those that face Gang Ryong without knowing who he is, sometimes even after finding out. This is mainly due to the fact that he is a chubby young man whose day job is a dumpling delivery boy.
  • Magick Chicks: Faith counts as both an In-Universe and meta example.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Tsukiko assumes she can threaten Redcloak to his face, figuring he is the spineless wimp Xykon always treated him as. Further boosting her confidence is her belief that Xykon would side with her over Redcloak (he probably would too, if only to cheese off Redcloak, but he doesn't have any emotional investment beyond that), as well as several other advantages ranging from her ghoul entourage, her massive spell selection, and her comparative advantage in terms of teleport spells. Instead, Redcloak proceeds to take control of her wights, counter all her spells, block her teleportation, give her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, and have the wights kill her.
    • Xykon runs into this a lot. Most people who meet or see him for the first time assume that, as a "walking villainy cliché", he must be very easy to get rid of. And while Xykon is in no hurry to prove them wrong, he's incredibly powerful and devious. Both Roy and Vaarsuvius thought they could take on the lich single-handedly, and nearly paid the price. Roy died in his second attempt, but got better. So far, the only real threat to his existence was the ghost-martyr of Soon Kim.
    • During his occupation of Durkon's body, the High Priest of Hel dismissed him as a threat to his plans, constantly belittled him, and said he was powerless to stop him. Through a combination of strong will and inviolate morality, Durkon managed to overwhelm the vampire spirit and gave Belkar an opening to finish him off.
  • Schlock Mercenary: When General Tagon comes at the crime boss Damico with a knife-wielding remote-controlled headless cybernetic monkey, she is a bit nonplussed, but resolves not to underestimate it, so she orders a sergeant (wearing full Powered Armor) to handle it. The sergeant notes that he doesn't want to be known as the guy who died because he underestimated a monkey, so he orders his best marksman to shoot it. Then a robot cuts everyone's hands off while they're distracted by the guy about to shoot a monkey.
  • In Spying with Lana, Lana's opponents tend to do this to her. They usually get a physical (or verbal) smackdown in return. Sometimes, they get both.
  • Survival Story of a Sword King in a Fantasy World: Protagonist Ryu Han-Bin is a walking, talking, shirtless dude carrying a BFS as long as he's tall and built like a brick Shithouse. Despite this, people continuously underestimate his combat prows because he has a faulty guideline that says he's level 5, in a world where the average adventurer is supposed to be level 20 starting off. This leads many people to assume his intimidating appearance is just for show, and his actual strength is pitiful, based on his low level. Whilst it's true that Hanbin's level is low, his stats are actually astronomically high for a 'beginner', basically making him the World's Strongest Man when he's pushed into combat situations, which he handles with comical nonchalance whilst his enemies realise that his looks really do match his danger level, and they've walked into a fight they can't win.
  • Tales of the Questor: Quentyn gets this a lot when he first starts out. Chances are it'll happen again; he does, after all, look like an animate plush toy...
  • TwoKinds: A group of hooded, alleged Templars attacking a village gathering spot the approach of the village's guardian, the dragoness Reni. One of the "Templars" tries to calm the rest, saying that Reni's only a juvenile and that their magic shields will stand up to even a dragon's fire. Cue Reni swatting one of them (and a chunk of the wall he was standing on) to the ground with her claws.note 
    Templar: ...We've played our part. [teleports out]
  • In Weak Hero, even those who are aware of Gray's fearsome reputation often find themselves underestimating the skinny, pale kid when they meet him in the flesh. They always, without question, come to regret it.
  • We Live In An MMO?!, a group of players insult and look down on the main party due to the "2nd tier equipment", believing them to be beneath them. When they finally step over the line, they're subject to a merciless beat-down by Rando, the party's warrior.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: "You know what we pirates do with naked tied-up women, don't you?" SMACK. "Underestimate them, apparently."

    Web Original 
  • Cobra Kai: About halfway through Season 1, Yasmine tries her "mean girl"-routine on Aisha. Since Aisha out-bulks Yasmine by six inches and fifty pounds, this is borderline "Too Dumb to Live" to begin with, but Aisha has at that point been through Cobra Kai's Training from Hell, is counted as the dojo's second-best student, and managed to impress the intensely sexist Johnny Lawrence with her capacity for swift, uncompromising brutality to the point that he called her "... a natural cobra.". Aisha proceeds to deadlift Yasmine off the ground, one-handed, by her panties, and leave her in a fetal ball of pain and failure on the ground.
  • Epithet Erased: The Banzai Jennifers assume that pointing guns, which are canonically pretty low-impact in EE, will allow them to make everyone hold still, including Howie Honeydew, who's busy with construction work and just ignores them. When one fires a shot at the clock he's installing into a building facade, Howie - a Badass Normal whose stats are the second-best in the animated episodes, outdone only by Zora - bends a wrench into a boomerang with his bare hands, knocks down all three with it in one throw, catches it, and straightens it out again.
  • Helluva Boss: In "Exes and Oohs", Moxxie's father Crimson grows increasingly frustrated that his henchmen cannot kill a rampaging Millie, who effortlessly tears through the lot of them in a matter of minutes right in front of him as he repeatedly cries out that she's "just a broad". By the end of it all of Crimson's mooks are reduced to sushi, forcing him to let Moxxie go if only to save his own skin.
  • Red vs. Blue: During the first PSA video showcasing the then-recent Halo 3: ODST title, seeing as the ever-limelighted Master Chief won't be in said action, they scoff, laugh/jeer and think of their "competition" regarding these "ODST" guys they've heard about is just some "regular soldiers" like them. Boy, are they EVER wrong... As they don't realize that ODSTs are the UNSC's hand-picked best-of-the-best troops right behind the legendary Spartans. Needless to say, as they watch the showcase they exchange nervous looks toward eachother as they realize that they're witnessing non-Spartan-based badassery that they clearly weren't expecting whatsoever, after the showcase film ends they are reduced to wondering if they really got the right tape regarding these so-called "regular soldiers" while silently pissing their pants afterward.
  • This is a recurring problem with members of the Atlasian Elite in RWBY:
    • General Ironwood, for all his paranoia, frequently underestimates just how cunning and capable his enemies are. His obsession with strength-based tactics consistently leads him to be flat-footed by more covert methods. For example, when he brings a massive army to safeguard Vale during Volumes 2-3, he boasts that the intimidation factor alone will dissuade the villains from attacking. Qrow bitterly laughs, "You think she's scared of your little ships?" and during the Fall of Beacon Torchwick uses a computer virus to turn the Atlas robots against the people.
    • In "With Friends Like These", Team RWBY's disgust with Ironwood's heartless methods results in a fight against the Ace-Ops, Ironwood's premier agents. Despite working and training with them throughout the Volume, Harriet scoffs at the idea of some "kids" beating the best Huntsmen in Atlas...only for Team RWBY's better teamwork to systematically take down every one of them. And on interesting note, when Clover chooses to pursue his orders to arrest Qrow as opposed to re-capturing Tyrian, Word of God says it's because he thinks Qrow is the more dangerous of the two, as he knows Qrow is a veteran Huntsman but knows nothing of Tyrian, despite Tyrian killing numerous Huntsmen in Mistral. Clover ends up being killed by Tyrian's hand by the end of the episode.
    • Cinder Fall gets hit after Volume 4, as she's a master manipulator, planner, and improviser, but was traumatized during the Fall of Beacon and is a definite case of Sanity Has Advantages. Arthur Watts in particular seems fond of dismissing her as Dumb Muscle and mocking her intelligence, and even when she's dangling him off a rooftop decides to give her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about all the ways she's failed thus far. Said speech winds up being the Sanity Strengthening she needed, and she proceeds to play him like a fiddle, making him do all the work for her by playing to his ego and spite before tricking him into staying aboard a burning Atlas, only for him to realize too late that she's locked him in. In Neo's case it's much less justified as she has personal experience with how dangerous Cinder can be, but in the same volume she tries to blackmail her into giving her what she wants. Cinder plays along until Neo outlives her usefulness, and then tosses her into a void.
    • In Volume 5, Cinder clearly thinks she can bully and intimidate Raven Branwen like she did with Torchwick and Adam during the Beacon Saga. During the Battle of Haven, Cinder mocks Raven, claiming that the stories about how strong and clever the bandit was were clearly wrong. As it turns out, Raven was actually the Spring Maiden, but instead of displaying her gifts openly, she had one of her bandits pose as the Maiden as a decoy, which Cinder completely fell for. The ensuing battle shows Raven utterly schooling Cinder, and ends with the Fall Maiden being frozen solid and left for dead.
    • In "Amity", Neo pulls Maria Calavera out of a mech, grinning smugly at the cane-using, elderly woman. What she doesn't know is that Maria is the retired Grimm Reaper, her cane is a collapsible kama, she possesses Spider-Sense, and age has not dulled her skills. Neo, who is difficult for even talented fighters to handle, finds herself being tossed around by a laughing Maria.
  • In Tales Out of Tallis, Rutger tries to manipulate the situation to get his brother Lammert executed, only to learn Lammert had outplayed him before Rutger even got started.
  • "Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny" ends with Mister Rogers as the ultimate victor. It also features Abraham Lincoln and Jackie Chan being taken out by a Care-Bear Stare.
  • Erin's chess skills in The Wandering Inn. A crooked shopkeeper tries to con her into playing against the best player in the city. Back on Earth, she was a borderline chess prodigy. In her new reality, chess has only been around for a couple years...making Erin probably the best in the world.
  • Jade Sinclair (Generator) of the Whateley Universe gets this a lot, because she's a petite, pretty teenager who looks like a 10-year-old Japanese girl. When she is attacked by Bloodwolf and Maggot and Killstench simultaneously, she knocks two out (breaking one's jaw) and takes out the unstoppable Bloodwolf (who can heal from any injury) by nailing him to a tree. With railroad spikes.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Cell Games videos for Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Cell considers Kenshiro to be a crazy homeless person... Up until the point where Kenshiro makes Cell explode. Twice.
    Kenshiro: (uses Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken on Cell)
    Cell: My god, how did you know I was deathly allergic to tickling? (starts laughing)
    Kenshiro: You are already dead.
    Cell: Ha ha ha ha ha— AAAGH!!! (explodes)
  • Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Abridged: Shirou Emiya assumes that Rin Tohsaka would logically be a Squishy Wizard and that all he'd have to do to win is close the distance. He's shocked when she reveals herself to be a Kung-Fu Wizard capable of Le Parkour.
  • In Final Fantasy II In A Nutshell, Emperor Palamecia is this for round one with Firion's party.
    Emperor: I'm a pretty bad man. I've killed a lot of people.
    Dark Knight: Firion has killed dragons, giants, chimeras, ghouls, half of our soldiers and elites. What the hell are you thinking, man? You can't take this guy.
    Emperor: Naw, man. I got this. (Later... Firion is stabbing the Emperor to death) Aaah, oh god this sucks! Why didn't you let them directly take them on!? (and he dies)
  • Jreg: In Centricide, Nazi and Commie think the Horseshoe Centrist poses no threat to them, especially since they have him outnumbered 2-to-1. But their teamwork only proves his point for him, allowing him to use his abilities to put them both on the ropes.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia:
    • In "All In", King Andrias admits to Anne that he had underestimated her when they first meet. But after fusing herself with the Calamity Box's magic, he also says that it made her a worthy component...but only when she activates her powers.
    • The Core does this as well in "The Hardest Thing". When they mockingly asks Anne if she could defeat them with Amphibia's "greatest treasures", the human responds that family and friends are the greatest treasure!
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • At the beginning, Commander Zhao regards Prince Zuko as a weak, bratty teenage punk. They get into an argument, and Zuko challenges him to a duel, which Zhao fully expects to win. Not only does Zuko soundly beat him, but he spares his life as well.
    • Zhao does it again against Aang in a later episode; when warned by his former master that he is not ready to fight the Avatar, Zhao arrogantly replies "I think I can handle a child." The result? Aang makes him look like a fool by tricking him into destroying his own fleet, thus defeating him without landing a blow. Obviously, Zhao never learns.
    • On the surface, Zuko's Uncle Iroh looks like a quirky old man who'd rather do little else besides sleep and drink tea. Of course, he's exactly that, but he's also the Dragon of the West and will kick your ass six ways from Sunday if you give him a reason to. There's more than a few of his foes who don't seem to get that.
    • Long Feng saw Princess Azula as a smart and potentially dangerous teenager who was still in way over her head, believing that she would be easy to manipulate and betray. Unfortunately for him, she was actually a full-fledged Magnificent Bastard beyond even his level, who only played along with that idea before turning his own men against him with her cunning and ruthlessness.
  • Avengers Assemble: During the "Civil War" arc, the Mighty Avengers get the regular Avengers to surrender, save for Black Widow, who'd split when she realized one way or another they couldn't win the fight. Captain Marvel dismisses this, complete with a "what can she do". In the next episode, Nat's infiltrated the super-secret prison the Avengers have been stashed in and freed them in the first five minutes.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
    • When Captain America escapes imprisonment inside the Skrulls' ship, the Skrull commander immediately assumes there is no need to bother because "This man isn't a threat. There is nothing special about him." A few minutes later, Cap has freed all prisoners on board, convinces all of them (some of them being villains) to team up, and leads them to a ship which they use to escape. The Super-Skrull even lampshades his commander's stupidity and tries to kill Captain America, declaring him too dangerous to be left alive.
    • Similarly, in The Deadliest Man Alive, Red Hulk pulled out a plan to forcibly make the Hulk act even more violent than he usually does in order to get rid of him, be accepted as a replacement for him amongst the Avengers, and gradually take control of the team. When his act is revealed after a failed attempt to frame Captain America, he arrogantly mocks the Avengers, calling them a joke and gloating about how he could have easily taken over had he not been discovered... then Iron Man reveals he never trusted him in the first place and put a failsafe in his ID card to neutralize him should he be a traitor. Next second, Red Hulk is immobilized by the failsafe and forcibly turned back into his human alter ego, General Ross.
  • Ben 10:
    • The title protagonist tends to get this a lot, especially in the original show, because he is 1) a human in a universe where his species is considered primitive and 2) a kid who happened to end up accidentally in charge of the most powerful weapon in the universe which he barely understands. However, he turns out to be quite good at using it and only gets better with time. Eventually, the villains who already clashed with him before are smart enough to warn their minions about not underestimating him (Ghostfreak once beat up his Dragon Dr Vicktor for believing Ben was not worth killing). In the sequels, however, Ben's multiple exploits ended up making him a Living Legend, and most villains are careful about not underestimating him.
    • One of the most noticeable cases of this trope is Simian, an Arachnichimp Con Man who wrongly assumes he could easily fool Ben into doing his job for him by making up a sad story to gain his sympathy. Ben goes along with it, but, by the end of the episode, we find out he actually had started to figure out the truth about midway through the episode, and already Out-Gambitted Simian. The poor alien con man ends up finding out about that far too late, when he is already in the presence of his very pissed-off employer...
    • Ben himself severely underestimated Vilgax's lackey Psyphon twice, seeing as Vilgax is basically The Juggernaut, while Psyphon would almost never fight and just built tech for his master or advised him. Due to this, Ben assumed he wouldn't be much of a threat once his master was absent. The first time they fight, Psyphon actually proves a challenge to Ultimate Spider-Monkey; the second time, he messes with his nerves, forcing him to go back to human form in order to not hurt anyone. Both times, Ben survived mostly thanks to an interruption of the fight.
    • Ironically, Psyphon himself underestimates Rook during their first fight:
      Rook: The Body Armor is not for sale, Psyphon!
      Psyphon: [shooting at him] Oooo, I don't want to buy it! I will pry it from your lifeless body. How green are you?
      [Rook dodges his Eye Beams and tricks him into causing the whole place to collapse on him]
      Rook: Not so green that I let a tunnel collapse on me.
    • In a moment of Bond Villain Stupidity, Dr. Psychobos assumes Ben isn't a threat to the Faction's plan... even though at this point, Ben has pretty much already become a Living Legend who saved the Universe several times. Malware even calls him out for it.
  • Castlevania (2017):
    • Alucard upon meeting Trevor Belmont says the latter has nothing but insults, at which Trevor holy whips his Dyampir ass across the room.
    • Carmilla in Season 2 being The Starscream assumes she and her army can just take down Dracula by force. Considering the heroes got utterly trounced by Dracula in combat and only "won" thanks to his Heel Realization, Carmilla may have overestimated her chances a bit.
    • The Corrupt Church is the biggest offender, as they ignored Dracula's threats that he would rain hell upon them for killing his wife in two years if they didn't repent. When the time came and the church celebrated instead, claiming "the devil lied" they only had themselves to blame when The Legions of Hell showed up.
    • While trying to get to the harbor Isaac is accosted by a group of Tunisian guards that want him to leave the city immediately and threaten him with weapons. While he is surrounded by a large group of vicious monsters. The guards don't last long when they press the issue. Happens again with the guards in Genoa with pretty much the same result.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman: The Animated Series: Batman once does this when first dealing with the bespectacled and nerdy efficiency expert Temple Fugate in "The Clock King". Rather than hitting fast and hard, he announces his entry and declares that he's going to "clean [Fugate's] clock". After a brief bit of boasting, Fugate says "en garde" and proceeds to visibly shock Batman by giving him an impressive fight. As it turns out, Fugate had prepared for this by studying news footage of Batman's fights. He practically chases Batman around the clock tower, only "losing" because Batman manages to get the guy's own sword stuck in the clockwork mechanisms, making the clock tower collapse. The next time Fugate appears in "Time Out of Joint", Batman has learned from his prior mistake, setting up a trap to blind Fugate and then tranquilize him. It still doesn't work, partially because Fugate Offhand Backhands him away when he tries to grab him from behind, but points for trying.
    • Superman: The Animated Series:
      • This is one of the primary themes behind "World's Finest", which brings Batman and the Joker into the picture. Both Superman and Lex Luthor see both the Joker and Batman as non-superpowered beings not worth their time and energy. By the end, Batman has scared the crap out of Luthor (something even Superman never even managed) by breaking into his penthouse, and the Joker comes closer to killing Superman than just about any other villain had previously, almost kills Luthor, takes over the mob, and almost levels a good portion of Metropolis to the ground.
      • "A Fish Story", which introduces Aquaman, has him attacking Luthor's assets for endangering seal life by testing explosives in international waters. While Luthor doesn't question Aquaman's powers, he does sees him as nothing but an eco-terrorist who should just be taken care of and is a nuisance at best. Cue The Reveal that Aquaman is the king of Atlantis, his army showing up to wreck a ship in a matter of seconds, and Luthor realizing he just almost started a war with an entire nation whose technology is more than capable of slaughtering humanity.
    • Justice League:
      • Batman sometimes this too, just like in the comics — notably from Dr. Destiny in "Only a Dream":
        Dr. Destiny: But you're different. You don't have any special powers.
        Batman: Oh, I have one, Johnny: I never give up.
      • There's also Batman's attempt to intimidate Amanda Waller in "Ultimatum". He expects her to crumble like most supervillains do, and she effortlessly shuts him right up:
        Waller: We know more than you think... rich boy.
      • Batman gets one back later on Waller in "The Doomsday Sanction" when he reveals that if his identity is outed, he'll drag Waller's secrets out into the public as well, and which one of them is going to look worse? Bonus points for telling this to Waller while they're standing in her bathroom, where she's just emerged from the shower in her supposedly secret and secure home to find the "rich boy" standing there.
      • In "Divided We Fall", Lex Luthor has just taken out the founding members of the Justice League and is smirking at the Flash. Cue one of the greatest awesome moments of the whole show.
        Luthor/Brainiac: Are you going to fight me, boy?
      • Killer Frost and Toyman in "Alive!". She's a stone-cold killer with ice powers, and he's a dwarfish man with toys. It's an easy win, right? She doesn't even get a single hit in.
    • Elderly Bruce Wayne does this all the frickin' time on Batman Beyond. Proof? Go to the Batman Beyond CMOA page and find all of the Old Bruce Entries. 99.9% of those are this, the other .1% is ass-kicking resulting from this.
      Jokerz Leader: Who do you think you're talking to, old man? We're the Jokerz!
      Bruce Wayne: [dryly] Sure you are.

      Payback: You're a mean old man, you know that?
      Bruce: Mm-hmm. And what are you?
      Payback: I'm your worst nightmare!
      Bruce: You have no idea what my nightmares are like.
  • Hazbin Hotel: Possibly invoked and definitely played for tragedy in Masquerade. Angel Dust angrily drives Charlie out of the porn studio he works in largely out of fear of what his abusive pimp would do to the embarrassingly misplaced Princess Classic otherwise. However, his deep-seated terror of Valentino prevented him from recognizing that his intervention was the only thing between the third most powerful being in all of Hell and the low-level Overlord that managed to push her past her Rage Breaking Point.
  • In Invader Zim, Dib's sister Gaz was the only other person besides him who knew Zim was an alien. However, she felt that he was not a real threat since he was so terrible at being an invader. In Enter The Florpus, she learns just how threatening Zim could be when he tried.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable is constantly considered a fool and harmless by least until he causes their lairs to blow up. The ones who really underestimated him and paid the price were the Alien Invaders that attacked the Earth in the Grand Finale, who planned to make Kim into a trophy. Big mistake.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • While Yakone wasn't exactly a poor villain (he was a dangerously skilled Bloodbender and a Crime Lord), he did underestimate Aang according to the flashbacks, mocking him and telling him he dealt with people like him before and would do it again. Apparently, he forgot Aang was the Avatar, meaning a guy connected to the Spirit World and controlling all elements. So it's not that much of a surprise when, during their confrontation, Aang just went Avatar State to brute-force his way out of Yakone's uncanny bloodbending, immobilized him, and took away his bending.
    • Similarly, Yakone's son Tarrlok severely underestimated Amon when confronted by him and ended up with the same fate.
    • Also from Legend of Korra, Vaatu disregards Wan, saying that a mere human is no match for an immortal spirit like him. He's right, until Wan fuses with Vaatu's Arch-Enemy Raava and becomes the First Avatar.
    • The Season 3 Episode "Long Live The Queen" has two; first, the Earth Kingdom soldiers do everything they can to restrain Korra, but only chain Asami to a loose pipe, from which she proceeds to break free with ease. The second example involves Earth Queen Hou-Ting and Zaheer's gang, whom she thinks are nothing more than common bounty hunters she can push around. They kill her.
    • The Red Lotus planned to end the Avatar cycle by suspending Korra in platinum chains and poisoning her with mercury. The idea was that the Avatar State would activate to try and save her, but ultimately fail. They didn't count on Korra being able to rip the chains from the rock, fly after and subdue Zaheer, and survive the poison altogether thanks to Suyin's metalbending.
  • A unique case of someone underestimating the potential of one of their own creations appeared in Lilo & Stitch: The Series where Mad Scientist Jumba believed Experiment 523 aka Slushy wasn't very dangerous and could only make things cold and snowy, until he discovered that Slushy was capable of taking the entire island into the next ice age.
    Jumba: It's very evil after all! Hahahahaha!
  • A recurring occurrence in Miraculous Ladybug is that Lila Rossi is continuously underestimated by everyone who may have to fight her:
    • In her debut, Ladybug, angry at her falsely claiming to be her friend to get closer to her crush Adrien, humiliated her in front of the latter, and when Lila gets Akumatized into the illusion-powered villain Volpina, she dismisses her as having the power of making her lies visible. This is right after Volpina almost bluffed her into giving up her Miraculous and only being foiled by bad luck. Needless to say, Volpina does it again later and is only foiled by choosing an illusion Chat Noir knew was fake (namely taking hostage Adrien, Chat Noir's Secret Identity).
    • In "Chameleon", Lila gets Akumatized again, this time with the ability to turn into anyone she kisses, and when she fights Ladybug as Chat Noir, the heroine thinks she has won once she destroyed her staff. Turns out Lila knows kickboxing and just beats Ladybug up, coming this close to win.
    • In "Onichan", Hawk Moth gets angry at Lila's latest lie, and Akumatizes Kagami into the titular villain and sicks her on Lila. To Hawk Moth's surprise, Lila talks Onichan into going after Ladybug, pushing Hawk Moth into deciding to use Lila's services in his secret identity to have her push people into Akumatization.
    • In "Chameleon," Lila had threatened Marinette to ruin her social life and turn all her friends against her if she didn't leave her alone and stop trying to expose her lies, and Marinette dared her to. Come the episode "Ladybug", and Lila, prodded by Gabriel, not only does that but also gets her expelled, and it takes Adrien appealing to her pragmatic side and offering her the one thing she was after to have Marinette's reputation restored and expulsion rescinded. This is also when Lila apparently figures that Gabriel is Hawk Moth due the timing of Marinette and most of the school getting angry and/or sad enough to be Akumatized and a swarm of Akuma showing up.
  • The Owl House has Emperor Belos/Phillip Wittebane doing this to Luz Noceda. From the start of the series, Luz started off as an optimistic, but naïve, teenager who dreamed of being a witch. However, reality hits Luz hard when she comes to realize that the Boiling Isles is not like the fantasy world in her favorite franchise. But as time went on, she, along with her newfound friends and surrogate family, she soon adapts to the Demon Realm's customs and learns magic in her own way. In the series' finale, Belos tries to trick Luz one last time, but the human decides to leave him to his demise in the Boiling Rain as she now knows that, after everything he has done to her and her friends throughout the entire series, he is not worth saving.
  • This ends up being the entire plot of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode, "Bubblevicious". Given that she is often the one who is easily scared and most Prone to Tears, nearly everyone, including Blossom and Buttercup, underestimates how tough Bubbles can actually be, something that starts to irk at her, as she continually insists that she can be "hardcore". Things come to a head when she's kidnapped by Mojo Jojo, who plans to blast her with a laser until she cries, summoning her sisters to come save her and luring them into his trap. Things don't go according to plan, as he just ends up angering her to the point that she proceeds to break free and beat the snot out of him all on her own. It's pretty telling that in a later promo for when the movie came out, it's not so subtly hinted that out of the Girls, the one Mojo now fears the most is Bubbles.
  • ReBoot: At the end of Season 3, Megabyte encounters Enzo Matrix, now an adult. Still thinking he'll be the same weak boy he was before, even as Matrix draws his gun and is preparing to shoot, Megabyte goads him into discarding the gun and fighting like a "real Sprite." Matrix obliges, and promptly punches Megabyte across the room, bashing a dent in his chest in the process. Megabyte promptly goes Oh, Crap! when he realizes that Matrix didn't toss his gun aside out of bravado; he tossed it aside because he doesn't need it.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks:
    • "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie": Mariner doesn't believe that Boimler's three months on the USS Titan prove that he's ready to handle dangerous missions, and asked Ransom to reassign him to a safer mission. After Agimus reveals what Mariner did, he gets into a physical fight with her, which completely catches her off-guard. When Boimler aims his phaser at her, she thinks that he doesn't have to guts to shoot her, but he does and she gets stunned. She's later impressed when Boimler reveals that it was all a trick to gain Agimus' trust and have him power a ship to send a distress signal without his knowledge.
    • "I Have No Bones, Yet I Must Flee": A team from Cerritos visits a menagerie where one of the exhibits is a cute, pink, marshmallow-like creature called a moopsy. Nobody understands why the curator is terrified to see it outside its cage — until it reveals itself to be a Killer Rabbit when it jumps onto a much larger and fiercer-looking Pyrithian swamp gobbler and sucks out its bones.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Lair of Grievous", despite just viewing Grievous' creepy trophy room filled with things taken from Jedi he's killed, the clone commander says they could take him "easy" since he doesn't know they're there. Kit disagrees and reminds them not to underestimate Grievous, but given that they cannot leave without alerting Grievous to their presence and Nahdar is right to say it would be a major blow to the Separatists to lose Grievous, Kit tries to come up with a plan to ambush Grievous that uses everything they have to their advantage. While they have the upper hand for a few seconds, Grievous quickly turns things around.


Charlie Murphy vs Prince

"It ain't I'm that great, he's just so bad!"

-- His Royal Badness

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnderestimatingBadassery

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