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Of course, being a clone of Wolverine makes it more possible for her to do this to a bear. In reality, a woman her size would be dead.
"Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a 90-pound girl, 'cause... I don't think that's ever getting old."
Wash, Serenity (2005)

An Action Girl appears otherwise slender, svelte, or "waifish", with a near-total lack of visible musculature. Despite this, they are capable of holding their own or even overpowering warriors many times their size, while utilizing "Waif-Fu", a ballet-esque fighting style that goes out of its way to show off their curves and feminine assets.

This is a tiny bit Truth in Television as women, even ones with big looking muscle, usually can't match men for upper body strength and speed. However, women are often more flexible, so it makes some sense they might want to use that advantage. This still doesn't eliminate the lack of mass and power thus a woman's hits won't pack as much of a punch (the reason why weight categories exist in combat sports).

Related tropes: A subtrope of Pintsized Powerhouse. Often used by Little Miss Badass, Mama Bear, Weak, but Skilled, Cute Bruiser, and Lady of War. Contrast and compare with Amazonian Beauty, Brawn Hilda, Statuesque Stunner, Glacier Waif who uses a completely different style of combat and Vasquez Always Dies where the females who do look like they can wipe the floor with you ... don't. The female version of Charles Atlas Superpower and often associated with Muscles Are Meaningless and Awesomeness by Analysis. Normally used with a lot of She-Fu acrobatics and turns, implying mystic martial arts.

Not to be confused with waifu, although there definitely is plenty of overlap there.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan features a large amount of this, as people who fight the Titans (which range in height from four to fifteen meters) have to make use of Le Parkour if they want to strike their weak points without getting eaten.
    • Annie Leonhart likes to claim that she's just a "weak maiden". Eren points out her tendency to curb stomp guys literally twice her size as evidence that this is a blatant lie.
    • Mikasa, who is still slender, is also shown to be very muscular under her clothes. Her washboard abs are something of a meme amongst the fandom.
  • In the case of Alita from Battle Angel Alita, one would argue that her being a Full Conversion Cyborg justifies this... except that the vast majority of her opponents are as well, and are almost invariably much bigger than she is (frequently by a factor of 10 or more) and often just as advanced or nearly so. However, as Alita herself states at one point, Panzer Kunst (her fighting style) was created to fight larger opponents, especially larger cyborgs.
  • In Blade of the Immortal the deadliest swordsman is not Manji, the immortal main character, or Anotsu, the Big Bad, but Makie, a skinny, waif-like former prostitute who killed sixty wolves in one night at the age of ten. The trope is ultimately averted when Manji comments on how Makie's muscles are weaker than his and that her true advantage is her speed combined with her skill that she uses to give her segregated spear more power through sheer momentum.
  • Bleach:
    • Yachiru Kusajishi is able to carry her captain, Kenpachi Zaraki, without much trouble despite her being about 33 pounds (15kg) whereas he weighs in at a Tyson-esque 237 pounds (108kg).
    • Ururu, the little girl that helps out at Kisuke Urahara's shop, also deserves a mention here. When the arrancar first invade the real world, she snaps and starts kicking ass, much to everyone else's shock. She also showed off some of her skills back during Ichigo's Training from Hell.
    • Sui Feng is the captain of Squad 2. She's under 5-feet tall, fast as hell, and her zanpaktou is essentially a hornet's stinger. At least until she unleashes her bankai, which turns it into a giant missile that she hates because it's no good as a weapon for an assassin.
    • Yoruichi, who is known as the "Goddess of Flash" and laid Yammy Rialgo out with no help at all. She also gets points for drilling Aizen into the ground not once, but twice.
    • Hiyori Sarugaki. Despite, according to her bio, weighing 57lbs and standing a grand total of 4'4" tall, she is not only an Vizard but was the former 12th division lieutenant and she regularly smacked Ichigo around.
    • Rukia Kuchiki is pretty beefy in comparison - at 4'8½" and 73 pounds.
  • A 15-year-old schoolgirl named Saya Otonashi may not be particularly intimidating, but there's a very good reason she's often mistakenly referred to as Blood: The Last Vampire.
  • Deconstructed in Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!. The slim and unmuscular Kujioka Mika makes it to the quarterfinals in the Tournament Arc by defeating heavier wrestler Anastasia Ibrahimov with Combat Pragmatism (a Delayed Causality strike to the kidney that forced the victor to drop out) and another with a fair knockout. However, she still took significant beatings in both fights, and the injuries last and cause her problems in the final rounds a week later.
  • Meow from Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran is a very slender young lady, who takes out entire gangs of armed mooks barehanded if sufficiently provoked. She still often plays the role of Damsel in Distress to the protagonist though, if the plot so desires.
  • Eri Kisaki of Case Closed, in her first appearance, literally throws a muscular opponent three times her size across rooms and through walls. Her daughter Ran is also skilled in karate, but she's more of a Cute Bruiser variety.
  • In Code Geass, Kallen generally does her ass-kicking in a Mini-Mecha, but is quite formidable in hand-to-hand combat as well... even wearing a bunny suit.
  • Subverted in The Daughter of Twenty Faces. Although the titular 90-pound heroine Chiko is an Action Girl, her action mostly involves acrobatics and escape, not fighting people directly. Her trainers even defy this trope by pointing out that she can't hope to fight big burly men directly in hand to hand combat and if she must fight she has to rely on using their opponents' momentum against them and the like. Being explicitly told during training to aim directly at the groin area also helps. Eventually double subverted as her fighting becomes more Waif Fu-like later in the series.
  • Nona from Death Parade is a slender, frail-looking girl with the appearance of a young teenager, but she's capable of knocking out a man twice her size and she can do some rather impressive flips and somersaults when trying to avoid being captured by another. However, given that she's ageless and not entirely human, it's justified in the show proper.
  • Gatomon from Digimon, at least in the first season of Digimon Adventure. She may look like a small kitty cat, but she's also a champion-level Digimon that was able to effortlessly defeat three other champions, all of them many times her size.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Chi-Chi (more in Dragon Ball) also qualifies when she held her own against Goku at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament.
    • Zangya, a Space Pirate from Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound, also qualifies. She is very slender and attractive but makes easy work of Krillin and the other Z Fighters whenever she gets a chance to fight, and her moveset is also ballet-esque.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, we get the Universe 6 Saiyanesses, Caulifla and Kale, who both play this straight and subvert it. In their normal forms, they're some of the skinniest characters in the series and appear largely unassuming and young (perhaps even teenaged), but are stated to be extremely powerful regardless. When Caulifla transforms, she gains absolutely no extra musculature. Caulifla initially fails to achieve Super Saiyan 2 and instead transforms into the bulky and extremely muscular 'Super Saiyan Grade 3' state before achieving Super Saiyan 2, where she manages to match Super Saiyan 2 Goku for a short time. Kale, on the other hand, becomes a hulking muscular berserker before she too slenders down tremendously.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Izumi Curtis. She looks like a typical housewife but manages to set off her Hair-Trigger Temper (which isn't hard) and you're in for a pretty solid ass beating. Better pray you don't make her angry enough to use her alchemy.
    • And then there's May Chang, a young teenager approximately the size of a toddler. She kicked the ass of Edward Elric, an uncannily ripped (at least for his size) master of martial-arts and alchemy, as well as that of Ed's brother Al, who is a SUIT OF ARMOR.
    • Catherine Armstrong is a tiny, sweet young lady (especially compared to her older siblings Alex and Olivier). She can throw pianos at people.
  • Yuno Gasai of Future Diary is a fourteen-year-old girl, and she's capable of slicing full-grown men twice her size clean in half. She racks up the highest body count in the series by a mile, all while wearing her rather terrifying trademark cross between a stare and a Slasher Smile. Unsurprisingly, since she is a justified example due to using blades over her fists. She's the very definition of this trope, among others.
  • Slender fifteen-year-old Kaoru Konoe of Gate Keepers has the ability to heft battle tanks and throw buses for hundreds of yards, thanks to her Gate powers.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Justified by Major Kusanagi. She's not only a Hollywood Cyborg, she's got a military-grade full prosthetic body, making her much stronger and tougher than even a normal cyborg would be.
  • Kagura from Gintama fits this trope nicely. From the outside, she is the epitome of a cute and petite 14-year-old girl. However, we soon find out she belongs to a race of super-strong fighters and can take down villains many times her size with sheer strength alone.
  • Several characters from Gokusen learned the hard way not to underestimate one Yamaguchi Kumiko.
  • Although skilled primarily in the use of firearms, the child assassins from Gunslinger Girl are capable of punching a guy in the face hard enough to break his neck. Justified in that they're cybernetically enhanced to the point of having superhuman strength/speed/reflexes and being virtually bulletproof save for their eyes.
    • While they are fast and strong, Triela's training scene implies that they are not really that skilled. Triela's the best hand-to-hand, and a burly instructor kicks her butt comprehensively. He then asks for (and gets) two weeks to teach her properly. After which she kills a trained assassin with a two-finger strike.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
  • Ayumi from Hatsukoi Limited has the build of an ordinary schoolgirl and the kicking power of a martial artist. Even the thug-like Misao is impressed with her kick.
  • Itsuki of HeartCatch Pretty Cure! is a judo practitioner (her grandfather owns the school and she was planning to take over when her brother fell ill). She effortlessly tosses Kumojacky over her shoulder during an encounter way before she became Cure Sunshine!
  • Koneko of High School D×D is the shortest member of the group and looks like she should still be in grade school. She also has the power of The Rook, which supernaturally enhances her strength several times over and makes her the team's muscle. Not to say she's unstoppable though; even with the power of The Rook, opponents with Queen or even King-level power can overpower her, and for good reason.
  • Aiz Wallenstein from Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is the strongest fighter of her family. On the basis of her physique, you can not see her power.
  • In the second half of the first episode of Kimagure Orange Road Madoka shows how well deserved her scary reputation when she takes down about five times her mass in juvenile delinquents intent on beating up Hikaru-chan.
  • Morgiana from Magi: Labyrinth of Magic looks like an ordinary, red-haired girl of thirteen years. At least until she single-handedly defeats a group of robbers.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid has Vivio, Einhalt, Rio, and Corona, who are all 10 to 11-year-old little girls that practice Strike Arts, the Mid-Childan Martial Art. For fun, they play "Who can displace the most water from a lake with a single punch above the water". Einhalt was able to make a five-meter tall waterspout with hers, temporarily making it rain in the area, complete with accompanying rainbow. In fact, before the series, Einhart spent her days picking fights with experienced fighters who are all bigger than her even when she's in her Adult Form, and all of whom proved no match.
  • Naruto:
    • Sakura learns it from Tsunade, who also breaks the ground with simple punches - Tsunade in her true form is actually a frail elderly woman with even less muscle size than Sakura. This Super-Strength is apparently achieved by perfect chakra control.
    • Hinata also falls into this category. Her clan's specialty is the "Gentle Fist" technique, which rather than using crippling damage delivers a short, intense burst of energy to block a chakra point, preventing the use of ninja techniques (and potentially the use of limbs, or organs). In the anime, she's also shown the ability to improve the "near perfect defense" technique to a "truly perfect defense", and turns the Gentle Fist into something that would make Kenshiro start to shed Manly Tears. For the longest time, she did this occasionally. She would have demonstrated her strength more often earlier on, had it not been for her crippling self-esteem issues, which were only sporadically overcome by following Naruto's example. By the Fourth Shinobi World War Arc, after she becomes assertive and has gained a lot more confidence, she starts actively showing off her strength, especially when she masters the Sixty-Four Palms and combines it with her Twin Lion Fists.
  • The Little Miss Badass of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Evangeline A.K. McDowell, fits this well. During the Tournament arc, she tosses around all her opponents with ease using Aiki-jujitsu, a real martial arts technique, and strings. Using the two, she completely pins down Setsuna, who is one of the strongest characters in the main cast. But then she is a 500-year-old vampire and has been learning the art for the last 100 years or so. It's even implied that she learned the art from the man who originated it.
  • Asuka of Neon Genesis Evangelion displayed this trope in the manga version. After bumping into a gang member in an arcade, she manages to easily kick him out the way and hold her own against several other big, burly men alone, with backflips and all. Admittedly she used the "Look over there!" trick first. She never displays these moves again in the series, apart from a brief moment near the end of the same book.
  • Played with in Noir, adding credibility to a show with an implausible body count in most of its fight scenes. The whisper-thin ur-waif Kirika is one of the two most lethal human beings on Earth. However, the writers never have her indulge in the sort of waif-fu that involves tossing grown men around like ragdolls without using their own weight and momentum to do so. She always uses weapons to make her kills—including, in one case, a plastic high school ID card, never her hands or feet, and rarely shows more physical strength plausible for her body frame. Her weapon of choice is a Beretta M 1934, which fires .380 ACP, a fairly small round, typically used for backup guns only. The only common rounds weaker are .32 ACP and .22 Long. Much less recoil than a .45, or even a 9mm, usually.
  • Ouran Highschool Host Club:
    • The following presents a subversion. Haruhi, dressed as a boy, tries stopping two guys messing with some girls. Of course, she's quite short and rather thin, so five seconds later they chuck her into the ocean, and she can't swim either. The host club and Tamaki especially get really pissed at her for it.
    • Hunny is a good male example; looking like an elementary student, he's a fierce fighter who once took down six or seven armed and armored private police officers with no weapons, and they didn't even stand a chance.
  • In the first episode of Pokémon: The Original Series, Misty pulls Ash out of the water with a fishing rod, throwing him over her head in the process. A massive case of Fridge Logic.
  • Rage of Bahamut: Genesis shows the nephilim Amira. She looks like a young, pretty girl, but she is by far the strongest in her team. This is justified by the fact that she has Super-Strength.
  • Technically, all female fighters in Ranma ½ save Cologne, as they're small, slender Japanese teenagers - and Akane and Ranma themselves are the tiniest of the bunch. Made explicitly obvious when they take on the humongous Dojo Destroyer and Pantyhose Taro.
  • Anita of the R.O.D the TV is very strong, capable of stunning a "vampire" by throwing a book into his face breaking his nose from five meters away without using her paper powers, and she can knock out grown men 3 times her size. Her fighting style was developed by animators via "observing monkeys and the Chinese Royal Acrobats." This is likely due to her being created in a lab by the British Library.
    • Anita was actually the only paper sister in that episode who could use her paper powers because they are simplistic and do not require the paper to take shape and are therefore immune to the subtle sound vibrations that permeated the castle grounds. Didn't she kill that "vampire" by the way?
    • Anita does this trope again and is also shown to be a walking "Got Milk?" advertisement when she plays sports at school and throws a scorching fastball across two fields into the catcher's mitt. In the dub at least, this was further emphasized by the catcher himself, as he said, "Dear God," in a very stunned voice.
  • All girls from Tsukune's harem qualify in Rosario + Vampire for this, but Moka stands out. In the first few episodes, the fight was such that they beat each opponent in their vampiric form with just one shot.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Makoto Kino isn't that huge a Huge Schoolgirl, but can take out grown men when provoked. She's explicitly shown studying martial arts (Judo in the manga and Crystal, Jeet Kune Do in the first anime).
    • Also, the petite Minako Aino. She doesn't show it as often as Makoto and is actually weaker (Makoto having actual Super-Strength), but Minako is just as devastating, in the anime. And in the manga, she actually knocked out Makoto herself (who was Brainwashed and Crazy at the time), with a single kick. It's hinted she learned Savate and has far more experience with it than Makoto.
    • In the anime, Michiru Kaioh. While tall as Makoto and only a few months older she's much slimmer... And then, when confronted by a horde of Germatoid clones, she proceeded to maul them with her bare hands before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The only foreshadowing we had were the many times she has been swimming (thus developing muscles) and her instinctively assuming a Pankration stance when she sees their numbers.
  • Sgt. Frog: Natsumi, an average high school girl, is able to take on giant mecha, alien monsters, intergalactic mercenaries, devious deathtraps, etc. It's hinted that her mother is even stronger.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Shana is superhumanly strong as Flame Haze, though she looks like a normal teenage girl.
  • The titular heroine of the anime SoltyRei is a young, seemingly defenseless, robot girl with a Mysterious Past who "adopts" a bounty hunter who "saved her life" - who is able to take out a fifty-foot mecha piloted by two Mooks in the second episode. With one punch to its fist, which was in the process of trying to punch through her to her adopted protector. You don't want to mess with her. And don't forget her very next move, where she hurled it into the stratosphere.
  • Played for Laughs in Spy X Family with Yor Forger, a Yamato Nadeshiko who's secretly the World's Best Warrior and strong enough to wrestle cattle or send grown men flying.
  • In episode 18 of the Tenchi Muyo! OVAs, Sasami—armed only with a staff she apparently kept in her hair—effortlessly defeated an armed and highly trained Galaxy Police operative, despite appearing to be no more than 12 years old and having shown no martial prowess whatsoever at any prior point in the series.
    • It's All There in the Manual. Sasami does possess martial arts prowess, it just wasn't mentioned in the OVAs before — after all, her mom is the head of Emperor's security and uncontested martial arts champion of the whole Jurai Empire. And it was mentioned in the supplements that Sasami DID train with Misaki, so she could take out a couple of GalPol mooks even without Tsunami's powers.
  • Rinka from Tokyo ESP is a good martial artist before she gets her special powers. In fact, she meets the hero as she rescues him from three bullies who were about to ambush him.
  • In Toradora!, Taiga's doll-like appearance doesn't prevent her from handing out Megaton Punches. In a way, it's subverted later when in an actual contest of strength, Ryuji easily pins her to a wall.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, Shinobu displays low-level super-strength when sufficiently provoked. This developed from what was originally comic relief slapping and hitting.

    Comic Books 
  • Cassandra Cain, aka Batgirl III. You could fit her in a backpack with a little folding, and yet she's been known to flip seven-foot-tall five-foot-wide monsters around by their teeth, punch through foot thick stone walls and be among the greatest martial artists on the planet (and even defeated some of them). Even when she is drawn as ripped enough to pass for Bruce Lee with (small) breasts she would have trouble making 120 pounds. Her successor as Batgirl, Stephanie Brown, is also an example, but to a lesser extent; she's about the same size as Cass, though while she's probably a better fighter than anyone in real life, she's Overshadowed by Awesome in the rest of Gotham, and during her days as Spoiler, she had to rely more on Combat Pragmatism and stayed out of direct fights with harder targets. However, her size isn't typically the reason given for her comparative lack of badassery, but rather her lack of training (which everyone refuses to give her, despite repeatedly demonstrating her natural potential).
    • Cass's mom is Lady Shiva. She's almost always drawn as either a slim Asian woman, or a slightly curvy Asian woman, and is often called the best martial artist on the planet. She's just that skilled.
  • Black Canary: At least traditionally, both Dinah Drake and her daughter, Dinah Lance, are drawn as pretty, petite woman, who easily pass for being a simple florists in their day job, and happen to also be expert hand-to-hand fighters; moreso Dinah Jr, who is shorter than her mom and also billed as being in the top-five fighters in the world. Increasingly, the last two decades have seen artists make effort to draw Dinah Lance as having lean, but toned muscle, though it's Depending on the Artist.
  • In a late chapter of Bone, Thorn effortlessly lifts a Vedu warrior (easily twice her weight) over her head and throws him, presumably aided by her powers as the Awakened One. Then a squadron of 15 Vedu warriors appears and beats the tar out of her.
  • Button Man: Adele primarily uses her highly trained martial art skills to take on opponents several times her size.
  • Song in the Image comic book Epic Kill is shaping up to be this. As an individual who doesn't really use weapons, she's considered a national security threat.
  • Harley Quinn almost all the time, as a short, slim woman who fights like a brawler, sometimes with a comically large hammer. Slightly justified in the main DC continuity, as although this is seldom brought up, in her first mainstream-canon appearance Poison Ivy gave her a Super Serum that gave her moderately superhuman strength, agility, and durability. Or some people might see her complete insanity as justifying it.
  • Robin: Each incarnation is typically a male example (except the aforementioned Steph when she took the role briefly), as they're mostly young pre-teens who are rarely drawn as being impressively built, but are capable combatants who can be Back-to-Back Badass with Batman, usually showcased with them fighting like this. Damian Wayne might be the worst example of this of anyone, though, as he's only 10, looks it, and has been shilled as being the best fighter of them. note 
  • In the comic Serenity: Better Days, River kicks an Alliance commando in the teeth while he's sneaking up on her. Without looking.
  • Sin City has Miho, who is described as being 90lbs and barely clearing 5 feet. She has thrown men through the air with her kicks and is strong enough to leap off a rooftop and shove swords through a car roof. Apparently, she's one of the "gods" of Sin City. Being a deity might be the only way to explain her 90 foot vertical or surviving a grenade going off under her feet without a scratch.
  • Spider-Man:
  • Superman: Lois Lane has a Military Brat background, which helps explain why she can get away from the occasional mugger on her own, but it was carried to ridiculous levels in one story when she single-handedly storms a guerilla base commando-style to save a Brought Down to Normal Clark.
  • An unusual take on this is The Wasp, a character whose primary ability is to shrink down in size. Henry Pym devised a form of martial arts that takes full advantage of being several millimeters tall while retaining normal human-sized strength and mass, but Wasp can still kick ass at normal size which is over five feet tall, thanks to Captain America.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Priscilla Rich (Cheetah) is by far the most petite member of Villainy Inc. but she's their second hardest hitter, coming in second only to Giganta who has actual Super-Strength, and most skilled combatant. Her Super-Speed helps, but her flexible unpredictable Dance Battler style is what makes her so effective.
  • X-23. She's even shorter than her "dad," Wolverine, and is much more gracile, though still athletic. Partly justified: As with Logan, Laura's Healing Factor gives her denser muscle, bone, and connective tissue than a normal human being, granting her a degree of Super-Strength.

    Fan Works 
  • Partly subverted and partly justified in Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm: All the Sailor Scouts have enhanced strength while in their Combat Modes, but some are stronger than others. Sailors Venus and Jupiter in particular are stronger than the others, but this is because they work out and actually have visible muscles. While not as strong physically, Sailor Mars makes up for it by expelling fire jets that propel her punches at high speeds.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: Inquisitorial agent Hecate is a very short and petite woman described as looking almost sickly thin, but is easily one of the most dangerous Imperials present at the Second Battle of Axum. During her fight scenes, she is shown being able to grapple with and easily knock around fully-grown adult Jedi Masters more than twice her size. Being a former Eversor Assassin hopped up on combat drugs, and possessing some degree of Force-sensitivity, makes underestimating her a lethal affair.

    Films — Animated 
  • In the climax of The Book of Life, Maria managed to flip kick Chakal, the biggest person in the story.
  • The women of Despicable Me tend to be very slender, but are able to kick much ass, notably Lucy Wilde and Scarlet Overkill.
  • Dragons: Fire & Ice: Kyra, who looks like a series of toothpicks in a red catsuit and only 5 pieces of armor plating, fights against a massive horde of exceptionally large Vorgans.
  • Shark Tale: Lola is shown to be able to completely overwhelm Oscar and be able to lift him and swing him around like a rag doll when she viciously beats him up despite over half of her entire body being a flimsy tail fin.
  • White Snake (2019): Blanca and Verta are shown to be extremely strong despite the lean body type they both possess.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pretty much every martial arts film starring 5'3" Cynthia Rothrock, a multiple World Karate champion. In most films, in true Rocky fashion, she will get the stuffing beat out of her by much larger opponents before eventually emerging victorious.
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010): Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska dons a shining suit of armor, and beheads the friggin' Jabberwocky (who, to add even more to the "Holy Shit!" Quotient, is voiced by Christopher Lee).
  • From Balls of Fury, Maggie (played by Maggie Q) takes out a handful of martial artists, prompting Agent Ernie Rodriguez (played by George Lopez) to actually say "What does she weigh? Like 40 pounds?"
  • Subverted by Catwoman in The Batman (2022); while she can use surprise, agility, and trickery to get the better of foes, in a direct physical confrontation with much larger and stronger men like Batman, it doesn't get her very far.
  • The teen/tween in the archive in Blade (1998) looks about 12 or 14, and even plays helpless, scared, and cute when Blade first sees her. She then kicks Blade so hard that he falls back through some Soft Glass.
  • Presumably due to Unstoppable Rage, the titular character in Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet manages to kill at least six asylum employees (five of them orderlies and/or security guards) barehanded. It's averted in the case of her daughter (played by the tiny Danielle Harris) though; once disarmed, the Final Boy easily overpowers and strangles her to death as she rather ineffectively wails on him.
  • The Angels in the Charlie's Angels (2000) film series use martial arts to defeat whole roomfuls of enemies. In the TV series, the Angels rely on more realistic tactics, but Drew Barrymore Doesn't Like Guns.
  • Chocolate (2008). Zen, a small Thai autistic girl whose Disability Superpower is to absorb martial arts from movies and TV shows. The entire movie is her beating up hundreds of people larger than her with a variety of styles. At various points, she "mimics" Tony Jaa, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan, as well as fighting with capoeira, Muay Thai, and even dual katana sheaths. The actress, who works under the name Jee Ja Yanin, was a 3rd Dan in taekwondo before being discovered by Panna Rittikrai (who did the stunts for Ong Bak) during casting for his first film. She spent 2 years training with his stunt team before making her film debut. They often handled her smaller size well, she uses it to her advantage by taking the fight into narrow spaces where her opponents have trouble moving. But throughout she's not shown to be "super strong", she uses circumstances, agility, and blunt objects instead.
  • Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, most memorably in the restaurant scene in which she owns everyone and the restaurant itself.
  • Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, though the disarming front she presents is more psychological than physical—she's played by 5'9" Anne Hathaway. It's not so much that she's tiny as it is her ability to come off as meek.
  • One of Sandra Bullock's early roles, in Demolition Man. She takes out one of the big strong super-violent thugs with a single kick. And how did she learn this move, living in the ultra-pacifistic society that has outlawed violence? She watched a Jackie Chan movie.
  • Pulled off rather believably in Doomsday. When Eden Sinclair (played by Rhona Mitra) gets into close combat, she either dodges most attacks from opponents bigger than her (rather than parrying them) and/or uses some kind of weapon that's realistically useful against a stronger opponent.
  • Drunken Master:
    • Wong Fei Hung's skinny old aunt
    • Also, the whole Eighth Drunken God's being the most bad-ass and being a woman flaunting her body, with moves such as "putting on make-up" and "pretty girl looks in the mirror". Although in some versions of the actual myth, "she" is actually a man in drag.
  • In some movies, i.e. Freddy vs. Jason, Crime And Punishment In Suburbia, and even Man of the House, 5'1" Monica Keena seems very capable of taking down someone at least twice her size, though in her case, it's less Waif-Fu, and more Waif Brawl.
  • In The Grandmaster, Zhang Ziyi is cast as Gong Er, the daughter and heiress to the most skilled master from northern China. She is able to fight evenly with Ip Man and later defeat the ferocious and ruthless Ma San- all while hardly disturbing the style of her hair.
  • Hanna uses Le Parkour to confuse and separate her enemies, her agility to dodge their stronger blows and her Tyke Bomb Training from Hell to exploit any opening instinctively. She is also something of a Super-Soldier as well, somewhat justifying her abilities. This is deliberately contrasted with the style of her dad (who trained her), which takes advantage of his greater size, and strength.
  • The basic premise of Heroic Trio was to cram the three most popular waifs in Hong Kong into one kick-ass movie.
  • Hobbs & Shaw: Subverted when the diminutive Hattie starts brawling with Hobbs, the mountain of muscle. She gets in a bunch of good licks and seems to be holding her own until Hobbs just picks her up and holds her in the air until she agrees to stop fighting.
  • In the Cuban Horror Comedy Juan of the Dead Juan arrives to his place, worried about having left his daughter Camila by herself. To Juan's surprise, he finds the petite young woman fighting back against the "dissidents", even vaulting unto a zombie's shoulders and sinking her claw hammer into his skull, then walking away with a grin.
  • In Kick-Ass, the heroine Hit Girl takes this to Matrix-like levels of combat skill. She is by far the best fighter in the film, much more skilled than the protagonist. This does come to bite her in her confrontation with Frank D'Amico however, as she makes the mistake of engaging him in a confined space and he uses his much greater size and strength to quickly overpower her.
  • As with her comics counterpart, Laura from Logan. In fact, it's exaggerated further because in this film she's an eleven-year-old girl happily taking on trained, heavily armed, cybernetically enhanced Reavers twice or more her size! When confronted with X-24, a clone of Logan himself, she immediately goes into attack mode, using her speed and small size to keep him completely off balance. If not for his Healing Factor, she would have torn him apart. However, when a mook or X-24 actually manages to land a hit, it tends to hurt, since she is still an eleven-year-old girl fighting grown men twice her size, but she can still carve through an army of Reavers with terrifying effectiveness.
  • The Losers. One of the Losers fights off a woman, and she's just as hard as nails as he is, and both fight really dirty.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Introduced in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff blows through a building with a combination of non-lethal weaponry and improbable martial arts — all in the time it takes Happy Hogan to take down one guard with conventional boxing technique. Subsequently, she goes on to fight small armies throughout the rest of the films using a wide array of styles, to the point that she's able to fight alongside the other Avengers. She's played by the 5'3" Scarlett Johansson.
    • In Iron Man 3, Pepper Potts is suddenly able to do this, courtesy of experimental drugs that enhanced her strength.
  • Prey (2022): Naru is a slender young woman who uses acrobatic moves to take down significantly larger and stronger opponents, even coming out ahead in grappling exchanges with the Predator, who is strong enough to break a grizzly bear's neck with a single punch.
  • Alice in the Resident Evil Film Series takes this to ridiculous extremes, with even an unpowered Alice sending full-grown adults (and zombies) flying with moves straight out of The Matrix.
  • In Serenity (2005), River's Super-Soldier programming forcibly implanted by The Government manifests when she receives her activation signal (a "Fruity Oaty Bars" commercial) at the Maidenhead bar. She proceeds to wipe the floor with everyone in the bar, including resident Big Guy Jayne, who takes a shot at restraining her but gets a painful Groin Attack and a serving tray to the head that knocks him flat for his trouble. She is only deactivated when her brother Simon speaks a code-phrase that serves to knock her out. Her impressive capabilities come from a combination of Psychic Powers, extreme intelligence, and intense conditioning, which drove her insane. That's not even mentioning what she does to the Reavers at the end of the movie.
  • Kate Beckinsale's Selene in the Underworld series. Her counterpart in the prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Rhona Mitra's Sonja, however, is a Faux Action Girl.

  • Zoe Durant in the Ahriman Trilogy, though she explicitly uses arts designed to allow someone with her small frame to be effective in combat. She's also not above using tasers.
  • The first book in the Alice Long series is called "Perilous Waif". The main character, Alice Long, is tiny and delicate looking but is also one of the deadliest creatures in the galaxy. She also hates looking the way she does as her predatory mentality tells her she should look fierce and powerful. She is also physically 12.
  • In Angelfall, Penryn, a starving teenage girl, fights trained soldier Boden with her various martial arts techniques. Nobody expects her to win. She does so nonetheless, though with realistic difficulty.
  • Nellie of The Avenger. Weighs maybe a hundred pounds sopping wet, tosses men more than twice that weight easily, thanks to her extensive knowledge of jujitsu and other martial arts. Her job is made easier by the attitudes of the 1930s making it hard for male opponents to realize how effective a combatant she could be.
  • Played realistically in the Belisarius Series: Shakuntala is extremely fast and nimble, the prize pupil of India's most lethal martial artist and phenomenally strong for her size. However, she is tiny (about 90 pounds soaking wet) and that bites her on the arse a number of times.
  • Jacky Faber of Bloody Jack fame often uses her skinny young waif act to get out of tight situations. Most of her adversaries who fall for this are fooled into thinking she's a Just A Girl, to their detriment since she's a former street rat/war veteran with a "shiv."
  • Justified in R.A. Salvatore's The Cleric Quintet with Danica Maupauissant. She's described as "barely topping 5-ft and 100 lbs., with a mop of bouncing strawberry-blonde hair." And she kicks the tails of everyone. Priests of Oghma, who are very accomplished wrestlers (and most are at least three times her size) make her wrestle them before they tell her where to find what she wants in the Edificant Library. She always wins. The reason this is justified within the series is that she's a Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition Monk. Loosely translated: Shaolin monk on crack.
  • Codex Alera:
    • The Vord Queens look like slender, beautiful women due to the fact that the original was exposed to Kitai's blood and thus was altered in the first book. They are also incredibly fast and strong and are able to take hits from titanic crossbows that can punch through heavy armor or horses and keep going. Then again, they're not human, but the powerful, monstrous leaders of a species that has eaten entire worlds.
    • Also, Kitai, a young girl with the strength of a grown man and the ability to take almost anyone in a fistfight. This is justified by the fact that she's a Marat, not a human, and she's pretty well-muscled to boot.
  • Bast the Wood Elf John Ringo's Council Wars series who's about five feet tall and looks like a fourteen-year-old girl although she's not. Justified in that she's a genetically engineered killing machine with about a thousand years of combat experience.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Lieutenant Karrin Murphy is 5 feet tall and a hundred pounds soaking wet. She's also The Big Guy. This is because she's highly skilled in Aikido, which uses an enemy's weight and momentum against them, while also preserving their well-being. It goes Up to Eleven when she picks up one of the Swords of the Cross, especially in Changes.
      • Although, on some level, she also averts it. In the short story "Aftermath," which is told from her perspective, she mentions that she works with several different martial arts (, Wing Chun, Jujitsu, Kali, Savate, Krav Maga, Taekwando, Judo, Boxing, and Shaolin Kung Fu,) and also points how size and strength go a long way. She's mentioned that, despite her skills, she (like most people) always walks around with a slight nervousness in knowing that half of the population could easily overpower her.
    • There's also "Lydia", the mysterious client in Grave Peril - when possessed by a demon, she's easily able to throw Harry around, even though he's much bigger. Being Harry, he comments that this shouldn't work.
  • Jo Clayton's The Duel of Sorcery Trilogy: Serroi is maybe four and a half feet tall. Justified in that she does have extensive martial training, and relies more on speed and agility than strength.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard series, Gender Is No Object, so female fighters are just about as common as men. Many of the female toughs encountered are described as being skinny or downright petite, yet this never seems to be a detriment to their fighting abilities.
  • Ingrid Brady in Get Blank is a kung fu master, though it appears to be because of her physique rather than in spite of it. Her skinniness is because of a bizarre ascetic commitment and appears to have given her slightly superhuman strength, agility, and reflexes.
  • Matty Roh of The Heritage of Shannara is quite tall, but her slender build and reliance on a rapier make her fit this trope. Her strategy relies on dancing around her opponents before going in for the kill. Makes things rather interesting when she teams up with the much more physically powerful Morgan Leah.
  • The Heroes of Olympus shows Thalia, Annabeth, and Piper. These three girls are half-goddesses, and despite their girlish stature, they are good fighters.
  • Ami from Dianne Duvall's Immortal Guardians series is five foot one...and yet she took down dozens of vampires in one fight. It helps that she's been trained by people who literally have centuries of experience in fighting. And her enhanced healing abilities and other perks of being an alien from the planet Lasara don't hurt either.
  • The Valkyrie of Immortals After Dark live and breathe this trope; as one of the books puts it, they are "small and delicate-looking. It's a biological advantage. You'll never believe what they can bring to a fight".
  • Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium Series is 4 feet 11 inches tall and looks like a child. She's no ninja but happens to be very good at avoiding getting hit, sneaking up on people, and incapacitating her opponents, whether it's with stones, golf clubs or nail guns.
  • Vin in Mistborn is a tiny teenaged girl who, by the time the trilogy ends, has taken out just about everything nasty the Crapsack World can throw at her. She is one of the titular mistborn, and as such possesses powers including but not limited to superhuman strength, speed, senses, telekinetic control of metals, and a Jedi-like ability to see the immediate future. Vin has an advantage even over other mistborn, not just because her small form gives her greater agility and balance, but because her super-strength is more concentrated, giving her a proportionally stronger punch. She basically uses the Square-Cube Law to her advantage. Her small size is also useful for stealth since mistborn are typically assassins and spies. The only disadvantage is in the manipulation of metals, since if one is too heavy she will be moved instead. Though it should be noted that she is still weaker than a muscle-bound bruiser with the same powers as her, which bites her in the behind at least once when she gets pinned by such an opponent.
  • Clary from The Mortal Instruments is a rather small red-haired girl. As a shadowhunter she is superhumanly strong, and in the middle of the plot of the first trilogy she becomes an action girl.
  • One of the People's Republic novels by Kurt Schlicter deconstructs this: a woman raised on TV shows that showed a small woman hero beating up racist homophobic patriarchs tries punching a man twice her size; it's a good attack but barely does anything to him. This being Schlicter's work, she learns that shooting them is much more effective.
  • Oana Constantinescu from Mr Blank, the bronze medalist in the women's gymnastics all-around in Sydney, is a practitioner. She's not really described as slender — she's a solid block of muscle — but it's repeatedly stated that she's roughly hobbit-sized.
  • Redwall:
    • Mariel. She's a mouse, probably aged about twelve in the first book, and has been kept as a slave for quite a long time, yet she's able to beat up seabirds with nothing but a length of knotted rope.
    • A lot of the Dibbuns, most prominently Baby Dumble, who was fighting crows in diapers. (Though admittedly he wasn't actually very good at it.) Or Bragoon and Saro, who left home to kick ass when they were still Dibbuns and don't come back 'til they're old, after which they kick more ass before dying epically.
  • Ninette from Reserved for the Cat; she's a trained ballerina, and knows that jumps, spins, and kicks can be useful both in dancing and fighting.
  • From Diane Duane's Rihannsu series, we get at least three:
    • Ael i-Mhiessan t'Rllaillieu, commander of the Romulan warbird Bloodwing, who is described as "tiny", yet takes out a much larger opponent with a single punch. Twice.
    • Her crewmember "little" N'alae, a master of llaekh-ae'rl ("laughing murder"), is able to throw Mr. Athende, an eight-foot-tall Sulamid (whose hobby is hand-to-hand combat).
    • Starfleet medic Lia Burke, who holds her own in a mass melee.
  • Pity from the Spider-Man: Sinister Six Trilogy was able to give Spider-Man quite the beating despite being very petite.
  • Arya from A Song of Ice and Fire novels is a bit of a subversion. In the first book, she is specifically trained to fight in this kind of style but attempts to take on actual experienced and armed male combatants throughout the series usually end with her being disarmed readily. Fortunately, she is able to actually kill many of her targets using skill and surprise, mainly by exploiting the fact that no one tends to see her as a threat.
  • Spenser novels: The detective encounters small-framed women who are highly trained in martial arts, and who because of their training assume they can defeat anyone they come across in a fight. Spenser instructs them otherwise when the women try to beat him down, managing to willpower his way through a Groin Attack to beat one of them. He even goes so far to tell one of the women after the fight that, all other things being equal, the bigger, stronger person will beat the smaller person every single time so she shouldn't be upset over not winning their fight.
  • Nico from The Spirit Thief in the Legend of Eli Monpress series. She's small and painfully thin, but her demonseed abilities give her inhuman strength, speed, healing, and the power to step through shadows.
  • Arkay in Urban Dragon is barely 5'3" and can pass for a high-schooler, but she can also punch through cinderblock and lift a car in a pinch.
  • Ivypool in Warrior Cats is a small and slender cat but thanks to her determination, efficient use of her agility, and the training she received from the Dark Forest, she is one of the most skilled fighters in the Clans.
  • Tuon from The Wheel of Time is a petite bald woman who can be easily mistaken for a little boy, but it would be unwise to underestimate her ability to kill you with her bare hands.
  • Young Wizards:
    • Dairine Callahan from the series. At eleven she offers to take on her fourteen-year-old sister Nita's biggest adversary, Joanne, and beat her up (Joanne and her cronies had just beaten Nita up pretty badly)— and although she doesn't do it, it's made quite clear that she can, and even Nita admits it.
    • Nita and Kit are both also examples. The reason Nita doesn't fight back is that although she has the skills, she knows that she's outnumbered and fighting back will only make it worse. But when she gets a hold on wizardry she gains self-confidence— and a much, much bigger adversary than Joanne. And she kicks butt. Magic is just as cool as a physical skill because fighting with magic costs you just as much energy and strength as fighting physically. Magic is just more... dignified. Well, aWoM kind of subverts that in Nita's battle with Aurilelde, but still.
    • YW has so many examples of this, you can't name them all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Seems to be a requirement for joining the agency. With only some exceptions most of the cast are under 6 feet, so both the women and the men fall into this, leading to the implication that being short gives some unique advantage in combatnote . Specific examples include:
    • From the start of the show, the 5'4 Agent Melinda May is presented as a legendary agent who explicitly refuses to go out on missions armed, preferring to disarm people and use their's when she needs one. Throughout the show she's presented as unquestionably one of the toughest unarmed fighters, the only competition being Bobbi Morse, who avoids being one herself by being a Statuesque Stunner (standing at 5'11, making her the third tallest character on the team).
    • Though not at first, the show's main character Daisy Johnson, who's only about an inch taller than May, grows into an Action Girl thanks to training from May, which is boosted once she's revealed as an Inhuman and develops superpowers. For the most part, this is justified; Daisy's fights are typically high on Combat Pragmatist tactics (using Gun Fu (and later, her powers mixed in with regular combat) and the environment, moving around the room and ducking under tables, generally avoiding hits), but she's also got some advantages from being an Inhuman, as she's shown to have a much higher pain threshold (continuing to fight even with a broken arm) and some level of Super-Toughness.
    • Phil Coulson himself, who after being Overshadowed by Awesome in the films, proves to be an effective male example of this. Standing at 5'8 he's rather short (when the above women wear heels they stand at the same height) and looks rather unassuming, but is shown to be quite a martial artist himself (though it is stated that when on missions, May typically carries the heavy lifting in their fights). Later, he gets a cybernetic arm that gives him some level of super strength and a hard light shield, giving him some justification.
    • Fitz and Simmons (respectively 5'8 and 5'4), the last of the original cast, actually started off explicitly as non-action characters, with harming them being seen as the ultimate Kick the Dog moment for a villain, but thanks to their experiences the two became capable fighters. They're still the weakest in combat on the team, but they've become pretty good at the Combat Pragmatist thing, using improvised weapons and the like.
    • Outside the team, Anti-Villain Agent 33 was a Dark Action Girl version of this. Standing the same height as the women, she was a pretty vicious fighter who could kick Daisy's ass prior to Daisy getting her powers and gave May one of her toughest fights in the show, one she just barely won. Agent 33 was actually once a loyal SHIELD agent before being brainwashed, so its evident that SHIELD trains its female fighters pretty damn well.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Superpowered figures aside, the two best candidates for World's Best Warrior in-universe are Oliver Queen and Sara Lance, the latter of whom is played by Caity Lotz, who is billed at 5'5" but is visibly shorter than that, and is consistently the shortest character in most of her scenes. Justified somewhat, as Caity Lotz is actually an accomplished martial artist who has No Stunt Double because she actually can kick the amount of ass she does on TV. Also, unlike most examples, though she's lean and small she's visibly very well toned.
    • Thea Queen is a straighter example, who's tiny size is even lampshaded, but she's also more-or-less the heir to the League of Assassins, and in only a few months went from a Damsel in Distress club going teen to an Action Girl immune to pain. In-universe, the League of Assassins' training regime is apparently that good.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy and some of the rest of the Slayers. Justified, as the slayers are supernaturally powered female warriors, so their physical build is far less important.
  • Fiona from Burn Notice is a petite woman and no stranger to combat, but this trope is averted as she is a Combat Pragmatist. On one occasion she was supposed to take down a large man to interrogate him later. She tried using a stun gun but he disarmed her in the attempt. She managed to get it back while he was trying to wrestle her down. After the narration explained that stun guns will shock you if your target is holding onto you, Fiona proceeded to stun the guy anyway, knowing her backup was nearby. Leaving him having to deal with two unconscious bodies in a public parking lot.
  • Phoebe from Charmed does this occasionally but it's justified since she'd been shown practicing martial arts. In a few season 3 episodes Prue gained this for no apparent reason, even with Piper trying to keep up. Unfortunately, these scenes are made rather unconvincingly.
  • Comes up quite a bit in Chuck:
    • Although Sarah is played by 5'9" Yvonne Strahovski, who certainly has the build to make her Action Girl spy believable, she nonetheless relies mostly on this since she's frequently pitted against men who are significantly more massive (for example, Michael Clarke Duncan). With a handful of exceptions, all of her actual drag-out brawls on the show were with other women.
    • Anna Wu (played by 5'2" Julia Ling) once beat up a bully from the local sporting goods store (played by 6'5" Michael Strahan) relying on her speed, agility, and judicious use of a camera tripod. Her skills even impressed Casey.
    • The same often goes for many of the other lady spies that turn up, such as Carina (played by the slim tall drink of water Mini Andén) and the rest of the CAT Squad. They have no trouble taking on men much more massive than themselves by relying on She-Fu rather than raw power.
    • Ditto for the actually short (comparatively speaking) Morgan while he had the Intersect. Joshua Gomez's 5'8" height was often exaggerated for comedic effect, and much like Chuck relied on speed and the Intersect's extensive martial arts database to fight much larger opponents.
  • Continuum: Emily is a fairly petite and unassuming young woman, but when faced with large, muscular thugs, she can toss them around and hit them hard enough to knock them down.
  • Max from Dark Angel, although she was a transgenic trained-from-birth Super-Soldier.
  • In the Doctor Who episode The Mind Robber, Zoe gets the super-powered Karkus to work for her by defeating him in hand-to-hand combat, despite being much shorter, having no powers, and showing little tendency towards physical combat before. One explanation is that they're in a dimension where Your Mind Makes It Real, and Zoe does have a very good mind.
    • Alternatively, she had seen the Karkus is comic book form and knew he didn't truly exist, so he had no power over her. The Doctor had never heard of him, so he wasn't able to fight the Karkus the same way, but he could confidently claim that the Karkus' "anti-molecular ray disintegrator" gun was complete rubbish and couldn't possibly work, at which point it ceased to exist.
    • The diminutive Jo Grant is a trainee UNIT agent, and puts her martial arts training to good use when she's up against rioting prisoners in The Mind of Evil.
    • The titular character in the episode The Doctor's Daughter displays this.
    • Anji from the Eighth Doctor Adventures has met thirteen-year-old girls who are taller than her, but in Timeless she basically functions as a bodyguard to a man whose friends, family, and acquaintances have started attacking him. And none of them stand a chance against Anji Kapoor, petite futures trader and surprise badass.
  • Echo, Sierra, and November from Dollhouse depending on what imprint they're loaded with. Although even in fights where Echo has the right imprint, she still gets her small size used against her, as in she gets picked up, carried and shoved or thrown against something. In one fight to the death, Sierra got into it was half luck that she escaped alive. November seems not to feel pain in assassin mode.
  • Game of Thrones: Arya who is trained in a Braavosi fencing style well-suited to her size and can work a bow. However, she realistically knows her limitations and never fights grown men head-on, instead resorting to poisons and sneak attacks.
  • Sam of iCarly despite being a 5-foot-tall tweenager, is somehow strong enough to take down several security guards, a girl bully much taller than her and move a giant piece of a destroyed wall with one hand.
  • Detective Alexandra "Alex" Eames of Law & Order: Criminal Intent is five feet and two inches of slim, blonde, unadulterated badass. Despite the Huge Guy, Tiny Girl aspect of her relationship with partner Bobby Goren, she does most of the physical asskicking.
  • Parker, having incredible strength for someone so small thanks to lots of time hanging from tower blocks by nothing but her fingertips, in Leverage: Normally avoids combat, but cracks open a case of waif fu to fight a Serbian gangster. As per the trope, when he gets a grip on her she's in serious trouble, but when she breaks free she's able to use her greater speed and agility to knock the crap out of him. Later in the series, she seems to primarily use stun guns whenever she needs to engage in combat - though she is able to deliver a beatdown to protect Hardison.
  • My Name Is Earl: Joy Turner may come off as a typical trailer park mom, but years of Springer and a mean right hook make her a force when she gets really pissed. Just ask Earl's ex, a trained bounty hunter.
  • Pick any of the female Power Rangers. They tend to be noticeably shorter than the male rangers, but they can hold their own in a fight, even with the occasional kidnapping.
  • Sense8: the best fist-fighter of the cluster is Sun, a skinny woman with Rule of Cool-fueled martial arts abilities.
  • Smallville:
    • Happened to Lana Lang in season 8, with the very brief and none-too convincing explanation that she had taken a self-defence course. She had had a waif-fu moment as early as Season 4, but she was possessed by Isobel Thoreaux, a Wicked Witch and Dark Action Girl, at the time, thus justifying it at that time.
    • Lois is also prone to this, although it's somewhat more believable thanks to her Military Brat status, although it is still stretching things a bit as she basically beats anyone without a gun, and would knock the gun out of the hands of whoever has one.
    • Tess a) is more of a bruiser, and b) just plain cheats, thus averting the trope.
    • In Season 10, Chloe Sullivan, after returning from working with Batman and Wonder Woman (albeit obliquely referred to) which neatly explains her well-honed fighting skills, allowing her to defeat multiple secret agents with guns without breaking a sweat.
  • Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1, while 5'9" and so not precisely short, is blonde, adorable, shorter than all her SG-1 teammates by at least three inches, and at least twenty pounds lighter to boot. And yet she kicks at least as much ass as they do on a regular basis. Remember when she blew up a sun??
  • Kira in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is only of average size and build for a woman and doesn't seem very threatening from her appearance alone (her behaviour is another thing, though). However, she practically grew up as a resistance fighter and in the last season is a certified Colonel Badass. She's the best hand to hand fighter on the entire station until Worf shows up.
  • Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Justified by the fact that she is a Terminator. Cameron is played by Summer Glau, the same actress who played the "90-pound girl" seen in Firefly. Interestingly enough, Cameron's small size, when compared with other Terminators, does actually play into the fight scenes; when she tackles another, larger robot in a straightforward slugging match she typically loses unless someone is helping her. It's only when she outmaneuvers or surprises a Terminator (for example, the "water delivery" Terminator, or Stark, or Cromartie the first time) that she wins without outside assistance.
  • Scully from The X-Files often fell into this trope, seemingly capable of holding her own in a throw-down until the writers needed her to be kidnapped (which also usually means when they needed Mulder to suffer).

  • In "Game of Death", an animated short featuring the band Gorillaz, Noodle (a 10-year-old girl) effortlessly throws Russel, who is extremely large.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jacqueline as a baby face. As a heel in USWA she wore down men with Choke Holds but was somewhat reliant on the fact the male faces were reluctant to actually hit her. As a heel in WCW she beat men around with strikes and slams, but mostly after Kevin Sullivan (who himself was something of an example) had already softened them up. As a baby face, Jacqueline tended to use a lot of momentum throws and aerial maneuvers to keep men off balance, though she did still take some mean thrashing from guys before managing to lock in a pinning combination or land a "martial arts kick". Jacqueline was fairly muscular too, it was her lack of height that qualified her for this trope.
  • Daizee Haze developed such a style after going through Mexican promotions such as LLF but gradually started phasing the moves out after leaving, especially after an infamous case in SHIMMER where she missed three dives at Nicole Matthews, causing her to immediately abandon that approach for the rest of the match and the next three volumes.
  • Prior to Gail Kim's original WWF debut, there were plans to bring her to compete against the guys using her waif-fu like high flying abilities. Unfortunately, there's a difference between hype music videos and actually performing in the ring, and while her moves may have been impressive, her unreliability at hitting them properly and consistently (read: she botched a lot) put an end to those plans.
  • WWE also had plans to bring Shantelle Taylor in wearing a bodysuit, win matches against guys, and reveal herself as a girl after she'd been winning. They never did this, however, and she ended up wrestling in TNA as Taylor Wilde - then retiring because of how little money she was making there.
  • Ivelisse Vélez used this whenever she competed as a face in intergender matches on the independents. She was out tumbled by Samuray Del Sol though.
  • WWE Divas that employ this style - Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Eve Torres, A.J. Lee, and Naomi. In Eve and Kelly's case, it's justified since they're both former gymnasts (and Eve is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) while Naomi is a former dancer.
  • Silvie Silver, flabbergasted by Santana Garrett's flippy stuff, swore she'd eventually find some way to defeat her on the reasoning she was twice Garrett's size.
  • During ZERO1 Dream Series ~ Growth three big dudes James Raideen, Hartley Jackson and TARU were defeated in a Tag Team match by Takumi Iroha (who is kind of big for a woman athlete but over sixty lbs lighter than Jackson, the smallest man), Miki Tanaka(who is small for an athlete) and Mio Momono (tiny by any standard) when Momono caught Jackson in a knee lock. Most opponents since have tried to find a way to catch Momono, with varying levels of success, or just refused chase after her.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Effectively canon in BattleTech and more specifically the Role-Playing Game version Mechwarrior, where player characters can take significant risks to bring down Battlemechs on their own. The canonical example is Cassie Suthorn of the Camacho's Caballeros mercenary regiment, a petite woman described as unable to weigh a hundred pounds without wearing a soaking wet bathrobe first. She knows the agile and evasive Indonesian martial art pentjak silat, and the skills that come with knowing the art have proven handy in helping her hunt and kill the enemy 'Mechs more or less singlehandedly. She has a kill count of over a battalion of Battlemechs of varying weights without riding one of her own—it's noted that the vast majority of her 'Mech-piloting comrades, even the ones in Assault 'Mechs, don't have a kill record that high. She is also no slouch in hand to hand combat, regularly defeating the setting's equivalent of Secret Police Space Ninja.
  • Warhammer 40,000's Eldar, despite being thinner than the average human, are at least as strong as one. This is explained partly by different muscle configuration, and partly by their speed; since net force equals mass times acceleration, this means that they can actually hit fairly hard, even if their lifting capacity is not all that great.
    • While regular Eldar hit as hard as regular humans, they have several special rules, psyker powers, and weapons that increase their hitting strength. Without psychic powers (as they can be applied to anyone), we have the Howling Banshee Exarch, armed with what is essentially a naginata, striking at strength 5 note  and the Striking Scorpion Exarch with a powerfist hitting on strength 7. All of those hit at Eldar initiative, meaning that they strike faster than supersoldiers with genetically enhanced reflexes. Then there is Phoenix Lord Fuegan, who can hit at strength 10 (the highest possible strength value) while possessing the same physique as any other Eldar.
    • Dark Eldar have a tendency for this. Wyches, mostly female shock assault troops, can outmatch Space Marines in melee despite having the base strength of a regular human. They also fight wearing virtually no armor, being showy pit fighters. The Incubi are infamous for hitting harder than Space Marines in full Powered Armor, to the point of being able to reliably kill a Terminator before he can react. Lelith and Drazhar take it further, being the single most skilled Wych and Incubus, respectively. Both are capable of taking down entire squads of dedicated melee units or completely tear apart regular troops.
    • Tau Ethereals are physically very weak by the setting's standards but are excellent melee fighters thanks to their practice of fast, precision-focused ritual dueling. On the tabletop, while they are nowhere durable enough to take on dedicated melee units, they can definitely outmatch regular humans and are more than a match for even the Astartes.

    Video Games 
  • City of Heroes allows you to make any class any size, but since they can all kick ass it's not impossible to meet up with tiny female front-row fighters.
  • Just about any Fighting Game allows even the smallest girl to throw the biggest and fattest man. One example would be the Dead or Alive series where you can kick/punch/throw a character into a wall (or right through it, breaking the wall) from quite some distance, or down to a lower stage, defying the laws of physics.
  • Etna, Yukimaru, Sapphire...Oh to hell with it; just about every young female character from the Disgaea series. Muscle is entirely optional
  • Female Elves and Dwarves in Dragon Age are both much smaller than Humans (either in build or height), but aren't to be reckoned with. The Warden in particular. Subverted in Dragon Age II - Merrill (who is very small/thin) is a mage, but she can be built to withstand a lot of punishment (making her a weirdly effective Stone Wall), especially compared to Anders, the fragile human male mage.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, any melee light armor female build effectively becomes this. It's particularly noticeable in Skyrim, where you can choose the physical build of the Player Character for the first time in the series. Thus, you can make a female Player Character of an already waify race (Breton, Khajiit, Bosmer, etc.) even wispier, though still quite deadly. In addition, you can learn the Slow Time, Whirlwind Sprint, and Elemental Fury Thu'um Shouts to really bolster the effect. Conversely, a melee heavy armor female build heads into Glacier Waif territory and that same slider can allow you to make her a large (and busty) Amazonian Beauty or Beast Woman (depending on race).
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. Hard to tell in the original game due to blocky polygons, but the upgraded graphics in Advent Children show she doesn't have any noticeably big muscles, despite being a martial arts master, and facing off against Loz.
    • Penelo from Final Fantasy XII is very petite compared to the rest of the party, but she can be formidable in her own right, and you can even give her a BFS. Although, her stats do favour magick rather than combat, so it's up to the player's discretion. Fran is perhaps a straighter example: she is basically a playboy bunny species, and (in cutscenes and quickenings only, natch) shows dexterity and martially artistic moves.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Nearly every Myrmidon/Swordmaster from the series is a waif, as the class focuses on typically weak, fast and precise hits that are still capable of taking out fully grown men in full suits of armor in very few hits while avoiding any directed at them. A notable example would be Fir, a girl in her mid-teens who travels the world constantly fighting and typically beating veteran soldiers and mercenaries in an arena just to claim the title of her late mother.
    • In Fire Emblem Fates, Charlotte, despite being said to have enough strength to punch down a tree with her bare hands, has a very un-muscular build for someone so strong.
  • The King of Fighters series has Hinako Shijo, a half-Russian Japanese schoolgirl... who is a sumo wrestler! And yes, she can toss people like Chang into the ground!
  • Officer Denise Marmalade from Mega Man Legends' The Misadventures of Tron Bonne has the build of a teenage scarecrow (and might actually be a teenager, as she still lives with her mother) and probably weighs around fifty pounds soaking wet. However, she's also able to fight Tron's Gustaff bare-handed, shrugs off bullets and bombs from the thing without armor, can casually give the thing a reverse-suplex if you let her get close, and is actually the first genuinely difficult boss in the game (at least comparatively speaking). After declaring how she'd been taking self-defense courses since the last time they met, Denise proceeds to manhandle Tron's Humongous Mecha by judo throwing it around town.
  • No one is saying The Boss from the Metal Gear Solid series is a waif, but compared to Volgin, she is lighter, a little shorter, and has 10 million fewer volts of electricity flowing through her. None of that stops her from throwing him to ground very easily. In fact, the only time Volgin is visibly scared is when he inadvertently insults The Boss. Also of mention is Paz in Peace Walker, if Snake is too...forward on their date, she sends him flying with a slap.
  • Konoko, the slightly-built protagonist from Oni, makes a habit of beating up on burly stormtrooper types.
  • Emmy Altava from Professor Layton. Just watch these cutscenes from The Last Specter.
  • In the Soulcalibur series, petite pre-teen Amy can apparently block blows from weapons delivered by enormous men wielding axes, swords, and maces. As well as Talim, Xianghua, and Taki.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope in Street Fighter, as Depending on the Artist and game the female cast members alternate between slender waifs and Amazonian Beauties.
    • Sakura Kasugano and her rival, Karin Kanzuki, who is out to prove that her Waif Fu is stronger than Sakura's. Canonically, she succeeds but decides that the real importance lies in the thrill of the fight.
    • Also applies to Cammy, who at 5'4 1/2" is one of the smallest members of the cast (two inches shorter than Chun-Li, by comparison), but she can still knock the block off the likes of Zangief or T. Hawk.
    • Chun Li's height is 5'6½", and her weight has not been disclosed, which enables her to pull off some powerful moves and impressive legwork.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of Symphonia:
      • Presea Combatir. That axe has got to weigh more than she does.
      • Colette. You don't see as much of it with her as you do with Presea, but if you can watch her pick up a huge, muscular man that probably weighs twice as much as her without ANY effort whatsoever, then say she isn't strong, you're insane. Granted, she has angel powers, but still, it's damn impressive.
    • Sophie from Tales of Graces, despite being only about 5 ft. tall and looks like a skinny little twig, can plow all her enemies into the ground with her gauntlets like there's no tomorrow.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge has none other than April O'Neil. The 1987 version of April is known for being built like a supermodel at 5'8" so she's not quite short, but she had little indication of any combat prowess. Here, she's more than able to keep up with the Turtles, Splinter and Casey Jones, as she's skilled enough to fight anyone, from Foot Soldiers, to mutants twice her size, to Triceratons (which are a challenge to the Turtles themselves), all the way to Shredder himself.
  • Kunimitsu in Tekken has a character model with a somewhat muscular build but it also shows her to be the shortest woman in the series. It doesn't prevent her from fighting evenly with the other characters. Xiaoyu, Miharu, Eliza, and Lucky Chloe who are almost as short and are even slimmer don't have any extra difficulty either.
  • There are also have Gnome and Goblin females in World of Warcraft who are just the tiniest of the females out there in the Alliance and Horde respectively. But when played as a warrior they become tiny titans who can tank raids as well as any Draenei or Tauren male... the largest player characters possible on the same sides of the fence as the aforementioned females. And with the application of the proper talents, these mighty minis will wear full plate armor, and wield a gigantic two-handed weapon in each hand, all the while moving like a ballerina on the battlefield. Not to mention what they can do with straight-up DPS as rogues, death knights, or other melee combat classes. Forsaken females may also qualify for this trope as well when one considers that there is literally little left to them but skin and bone, looking as if they could fall apart with a good hit from a thick stick. Granted, the difference in size can be completely negligible compared to some bosses such as dragons, demons, elemental lords, and the occasional Humongous Mecha. Each of these looks like they could crush an entire raid group with one stomp, thus making this trope apply to just about everyone.
  • Yakuza 0 has Miss Tatsu, who teaches the "Beast" style. Despite her being a relatively unassuming, svelte-looking woman, she's shown capably beating the seven shades of shit out of a group of armed thugs, and is infamous in the game world as a highly-effective debt collector.
  • Nessiah, from Yggdra Union, is one of the exceedingly rare male examples of this trope. Not only is he tiny—he's stuck in a set of heavy chains that should by all rights make any form of combat impossible. And yet he manages to thrash the player's entire army with ease. The fact that he's a mage isn't even an excuse, as most magic-users in Yggdra Union have very low attack stats to match their lack of physical strength.

    Visual Novels 
  • Mukuro Ikusaba from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is 5'7"(169cm) tall, but only 97lbs (44kg). Despite this, her Ultimate title is Ultimate Soldier. While she doesn't get to display much in game, in other sources, she gets to show off her badassery. In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc IF, after being found out to be one of the people responsible for locking them in the school, she fights 6'4" (192cm) 218lb (99kg) Ultimate Martial Artist Sakura Ogami nearly equally for ten minutes, though she thinks that Sakura was holding back. Later, when Mukuro got "in the zone", she was explicitly stated to be able to fight equally with her and fought over 100 Monokumas at once, while also dodging bullets from the turrets near the school entrance. In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, she also bests Ultimate Swordswoman Peko Pekoyama in a bladed weapon battle.
  • Saber from Fate/stay night. To her credit, when she isn't buffing herself with magic strength, she's actually a good deal weaker than either Shirou or Tohsaka. It'd be even harder to believe otherwise from her considering she's about five feet tall and weighs ninety pounds. Although she can be physically weakened that does not reduce her insane skill.
  • Ciel from Tsukihime usually just chucks swords. Okay, kinda believable. But then she lugs around a gun that weighs more than she does, and it doesn't seem to slow her down that badly? Uh, okay. At least Arcueid is a vampire and has magical super strength or something. Actually, Arcueid admits outright that most of her strength has nothing to do with muscle mass and only considers herself as 'athletic' without it, enough to dodge Shiki's knife if he were to try something.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Neo is the smallest adult human and stands around 4'11" tall when including heels. She is also one of the most expressive, graceful and acrobatic of all fighters, dodging the blows of enemies with ease, using moves such as pirouettes, somersaults, kicks, and fencing or parrying with her parasol. She also appears to deflect attacks with her parasol or legs the rare few times they do appear to connect. She easily defeats the much taller, super-strong Yang, who can't even land a blow on her; she fights evenly with a villain as dangerous as Cinder in non-magical combat; and she can easily defeat multiple opponents. If she does ever end up in a corner, she can fall back on her Semblance... creating illusions that can fool multiple opponents at the same time.

  • In 70-Seas, on only the second page we see Nikol Mimagi (a.k.a. Mimagi Niku), a 13-year-old ninja who is easily the most lethal of the three main characters even though the other two are adults.
  • Tristan from Angel Moxie. This is unexplained at first; later she discovers she's the reincarnation of the Warrior, one of the three destined to save the world.
  • Ciem Webcomic Series. Candi Levens, and just about everyone else female in her world except for Claire Rauscher.
  • Everyday Heroes: During her childhood, Jane got tired of getting picked on by her older brothers. (Of course, it helps that her mom was a ninja.)
  • Girls of the Wild's is built on this trope. A large majority of the recurring cast is female, and everyone can easily knock men twice their size to the ground through a variety of means. In fact, the only female character that can't do this is Jaegu's younger sister.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Jones is a small, slender woman who can casually go toe-to-toe with the massive Sir James Eglamore and easily defeat him in close-quarters combat. Of course, the fact that she's an indestructible entity who has been around since the geological formation of Earth helps quite a bit.
  • Chen-Chen in Harkovast is a lot more dangerous then she looks, at one point smashing a man's skull with her fist!
  • One of the main female characters of the Polish Kokoart, Kitty, shows her powers at Waif-Fu many times. The first time it's in the 13th and 14th strip where after being insulted by calling her "nuts" by the main character, Cherry, she chases him and his friend. Cherry ends up in hospital (2 arm fractures) after being hit with a truck. When the friend (still unnamed after 3 seasons of the comic!) tells her that the truck was maybe just little too much, she responds, "The truck was by accident".
  • MegaTokyo has several examples:
    • Ping, who is a robot girl.
    • Miho. In addition to various improbable acrobatic feats such as dodging an electric ray, disabling it, instantly vacating the scene in a matter of seconds, and walking quite calmly on telephone lines, she also grabbed a car by the hood and crushed it by flipping it over with one hand.
    • Yuki as well. Although she has not displayed excessive strength or combat skills she also can walk normally on telephone wires (until she realized where she was and promptly fell). She also apparently possesses the power of teleportation which she used to steal, among other things, a whole rent-a-zilla...twice. She also defeated a small horde of Zombie Rangers by throwing appliances at them. Including a washing machine. A remarkable feat, considering most conventional weapons would most likely have been unequal to the task. It has been directly stated that Yuki is indeed a Magical Girl, as always suspected. Very likely Miho is one as well.
  • Lourdes of Mystic Revolution manages to throw novice player L33t Ninj4 hard into a wall, with a whip, from across a gorge. She also hits a Dryad Berserker (claimed the strongest class-race combo in the game world) clear off the ring, with her bare fist. Granted that she is built like a moderator.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, most military personnel and mercenaries are equipped with soldier boosts, which boost strength and other attributes, and low-profile power armor, which looks like your standard space clothes but block bullets, allow flight and further increase strength. This means that most of the women in the comic can pull this off, with one example being 19-year-old Teen Genius Para Ventura taking out a small mob on her own.
  • Slightly Damned has Kieri, who spends much of her debut injured and unable to speak, right up until the point where someone says the magic words, breaks a binding enchantment and gets stabbed.
  • Subverted with Tetsuko, before her permanent transformation into a 6'3 hulking woman she looked very thin for someone who could bench press 250 pounds and beat up large burly men. However, it turns out that she was way more muscular than she appears and could double her bicep size by flexing.
  • There a bunch of Action Girls and other ass-kicking ladies in Tower of God, but none have a frame like an Amazonian Beauty.
  • Rain from Triquetra Cats. Even before getting her magic powers, she is still a black belt champion in 9 different martial arts (including one not normally taught to humans) despite being a 14-year-old girl with the build of a 10-year-old girl.
  • Twice Blessed has Pella Brightwing, a pixie warrior princess who in her first fight in the comic takes out two robots the size of houses.

    Web Original 
  • A Grey World - Short, skinny, you could mistake her for a 12-year-old boy, but don't get on the wrong side of Alexis. Implied LEGO Genetics gives her above-average strength. Being absolutely ruthless doesn't do any harm.
  • Being a Super Hero School full of mutants, Whateley Academy has several examples, including:
    • Toni Chandler (Chaka) is fourteen, female and slender, but her superpower is control of Ki, and the ability to pull extra Ki out of the Earth. In the short story "Duel Damsel", she challenges a superstrong upperclassman who looks like a blond Sasquatch, because of what the guy did to her friend. She pummels him without even using her most powerful techniques. She's also beaten an unstoppable super-werewolf, clobbered people wearing power armor, taken out a superpowered ninja...
    • If you must mention Chaka, you must mention Chou Lee. Bladedancer isn't even a mutant, just a "baseline" imbued with the Tao, trained in awesome Wudan martial arts skills, and a wielding a sentient sword that can cut anything. She's taken down the same aforementioned ninja, people in armor, demons, cyborgs, random attackers, and just about everything she's fought since she arrived at Whateley. The reincarnated Olympian gods and goddesses decide to take Bladedancer on together. She wipes the floor with them.
    • Ayla Goodkind (Phase) is 5ft tall and weighs anything from nothing to a little more than a ton, according to her mood. This mutant ability allows her to toss around opponents many times her size. In "Boston Brawl II" she beat up a forty-foot giant and then used his body like a flail, much to the other supervillains' regret.

    Web Videos 
  • The premise of Fantasy Heroine is that writer Caroline was casting for a "generic white girl fantasy heroine"—particularly a 16-year-old waif who adheres to this trope. Instead, she got Rosamund, a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, who can handle a sword… but only one that's proportionate to her size and musculature.
    Caroline: As a fantasy heroine, we do need to know: Can you handle a sword?
    Rosamund: Uh, yes. What kind?
    Caroline: You know, a sword! Giant metal thing, pointy end goes in the other man, weights about 4.5 kilos.
    Rosamund: You're asking if I can wield a sword that represents about 7.5% of my body weight?
    Caroline: Yes!
    Rosamund: Do I have magic powers?
    Caroline: Not currently.
    Rosamund: Then no.

    Western Animation 
  • Sue Ellen from Arthur is only 8 and one of the smallest kids in 3rd grade, yet has good enough martial arts skills that she can flip Binky, the biggest and heaviest kid in her class as if he weighed nothing.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph is a little, blind 12-year old. She routinely kicks everyone's tails. In fact, the only fight she's ever in where she loses is against the protagonist, and that's only because she had never fought an Airbender before. Hell, the only time she ever really gets injured is by Zuko, when she walks up to his camp and is caught by surprise by his fiery defense. It's true that she almost never makes direct contact with those she fights and uses Earthbending instead, but still. Hell, she's the most powerful and talented Earthbender in the entire Avatar universe. In the final episode, she metal bends the bridge door of a Fire Nation's zeppelin, wraps it around herself as a second layer of skin, and becomes Iron Kid.
    • Ty Lee has no Bending ability, she carries no weapons, she's a skinny, perky cutie ... and she can totally incapacitate you by hitting you in the pressure points while remaining impossible to hit.
    • Then there’s June. She’s a badass bounty-hunter, who can effortlessly beat a man twice her size in arm-wrestling.
    • To a lesser degree, the Kyoshi Warriors when they aren't under The Worf Effect.
  • Gwen from Ben 10 is a ten-year-old girl, yet still capable of holding off the Monster of the Week on her own if needed, thanks to some martial arts lessons.
  • Valerie from Danny Phantom is a minor version being a girl but reasonably hefty. Aside from being stated to be a ninth degree level black belt (despite being only fourteen), she routinely kicks powerful ghosts' butts on a daily basis. At one point she engaged combat on her own battle suit, possessed by a ghost (and managed to hold herself in said battle pretty durn well).
  • Dora Standpipe in the classic Chuck Jones short The Dover Boys, despite her beanpole appearance, is able to casually fling villain Dan Backslide across a room.. even as she pounds on the door and calls for help.
  • Rayla from The Dragon Prince is a very skinny elf. Nevertheless, she is at least initially the best fighter in her group (granted, since the other two members are a pair of ordinary human boys, this isn’t saying much). Justified in the context of the show, where elves almost always have a slender build and are born with a connection to Primal Magic, which enhances their speed and strength.
  • Jade Chan of Jackie Chan Adventures through some yet-to-be-discovered law of physics is able to bring down people fairly easily at times. One time she brought down a strong government agent in one kick that her uncle was having trouble with. She brought the big sumo Tohru down in one kick as well, causing the house to shake. Despite all this, she still has to be contained by the villains and/or Jackie. This is probably due to her being the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Zig-zagged, since there are also running gags where she'll attempt this only to be caught and held harmlessly in the air where she can't get any leverage.
  • Kim Possible calls on "sixteen kinds of kung fu" and a lot of cheerleading practice to batter armies of henchmen twice her size — despite her looks, she truly is that strong.
  • Rarity on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a delicate fashion designer and obsessed with high society. That doesn't stop her from beating down Applejack (Physically the strongest of the main cast), or knocking out a changeling with one well-placed sucker punch.
  • 5-year-old Mackenzie from Rocket Power once threw Twister into the air and punched out Lars.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): The heroes were realistically limited for the most part, but Sally Acorn periodically managed to jump-kick or toss a seven-foot robot in a way that a three-foot rodent probably shouldn't.
  • Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars first did this to Cad Bane, after he knocked her lightsaber out of her hands, and later when captured and disarmed by Trandoshan hunters, she defeated three of them this way (not all at once). Said Trandoshans are capable of fighting Wookies hand-to-hand if needed.
  • Teen Titans: Starfire who was much stronger than the much bigger, cybernetically-enhanced Cyborg. Interestingly, this was explained as not being a superpower in as much as an ability of her species.
  • Total Drama: Izzy looks unassuming at first (until she starts talking), but it's a terrible idea to underestimate her because she proves strong enough to flip the 297-pound Owen over her head with one hand, and regularly fights Chef to a standstill with her bare hands.
  • Zak Storm: Despite her slender build, first mate Cece is a skilled martial artist and marksman who has defeated a number of bigger opponents.

    Real Life 
  • In a realistic example, Edith Garrud, the main bodyguard for the British suffragist movement, who learned Bartitsu - a hybrid martial art of boxing, Japanese jiu-jitsu, cane fighting, and French kickboxing - and used that knowledge to pummel the police twice her height and triple her bulk who kept trying to break up suffragist meetings and arrest their leaders. Even made her own Badass of the Week entry. Rather interestingly, after the suffragist movement fulfilled its purpose, Garrud became a close-combat instructor for the Metropolitan Police, who realized that the skills that allowed a woman half their size to kick their asses would be highly useful in preventing crime.
  • Subverting this trope is the goal of high-level ballet, in which you're expected to look dainty and delicate while also performing startling feats of athleticism. The level of strength and control needed to balance your entire body weight on your toes, while also walking and dancing and making it all look effortless for the audience, is nothing to sneeze at.
    • Similarly, many gymnasts, runners, martial artists, volleyball players, and swimmers don't look like they should be as strong as they are. The need to maximize efficiency of motion over raw force tends to result in "invisible" muscles that lie flat against the body—until the person flexes to show off and you realize they're absolutely jacked under that svelte exterior. Bruce Lee, who at the height of his martial arts career only weighed about 140 pounds, is a prime example.


Video Example(s):


Is That All?

Among the sensates, Sun is the best hand-to-hand fighter, despite being smaller than most of her opponents and her male cluster mates.

Here, Will is concerned about having to face four guards. Sun manifests, having no reservations.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / WaifFu

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