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Took A Level In Badass / Western Animation

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  • Adventure Time. Cinnamon Bun, the once bumbling and naive servant of Princess Bubblegum, earned himself a level. His time with Flame Princess made him into the new champion of Finn's former flame. He one ups Finn, fights of the mooks of the Fire King, taught his pet fire wolf to fly, and possibly started a relationship with Flame Princess.
  • In Aladdin: The Series, Princess Jasmine was noticeably more of an Action Girl than in the two preceding films. This got even more pronounced when certain spells got put on her:
    • In "Sandswitch", Jasmine is given memories of a life as a street rat. The new Jasmine is introduced effortlessly beating up four of the royal guards to rescue Abu and Iago.
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    • In "Forget Me Lots", Jasmine's memory is removed and she's told that she is Harmless Villain Abis Mal's daughter, and one of the most evil and feared people in the area. This causes her to instantly become a marvelous Dark Action Girl who takes over the palace almost singlehandedly, then gives herself a Klingon Promotion when she realizes how useless Abis Mal is.
    • In "Eye of the Beholder", Jasmine is turned into a naga. Even though she's horrified of her snake tail, she puts it to very good use a few times on the way to find a cure.
    • In "A Sultan Worth His Salt", Jasmine receives warrior training after being kidnapped by a group of Amazons.
    • This carries over into the final sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves, where she holds her own against the Forty Thieves, all of which are at least twice her size.
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  • Cyril in Archer spent the majority of the series as the agency's Butt-Monkey accountant. However in Season 11, it's shown that during Archer's coma he ended up filling in for him as a field agent and became every bit the badass he was, with the first episode of the season showing him in a motorcycle gunfight alongside Archer's partner Lana with him wearing a mask to misdirect the viewer. It's also shown he drinks so many protein shakes the office fridge is filled to the brim with them.
  • Atomic Puppet: When we're first introduced to Mookie, he's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, wannabe superhero, and former Bumbling Sidekick, who is constantly humiliated by the failures of his various attempts to try prove to Mega City he's the hero they deserve, fails to be taken seriously by even his eponymous rival, and has become a Distressed Dude several times. Then comes Season 1's finale, "The Big Shift", in which he is sent to jail and teams up with a good chunk of the Rogues Gallery. He proceeds to mastermind a massive prison breakout and get some Powered Armour with electric abilities, which he uses to beat the crap out of Atomic Puppet.
    Mookie: Isn't it ironic that the city that refused to accept me is now the source of the power that I'll use to destroy it?! (Evil Laugh followed by a Curb-Stomp Battle)
    AP: I can't believe I'm saying this, but Mookie's too much for us!
    Joey: Don't you ever say that again!
  • The Avatar universe:
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
      • Avatar Aang. At first, he's a scared boy who, from his perspective, just learned he was to be the Savior of the World and must leave his home and the only man he knew as a father. Now the world is in danger and so he shirks his responsibilities. Less than a year later, he's a fully competent and skilled Avatar, Master of All the Elements. Even without using the Avatar State, he can hold his own against a super-powered Phoenix King Ozai. When he actually does activate the Avatar State, it's hardly even a contest.
      • Many people found Katara's sudden leap from being second to Aang in waterbending to being Aang's more skilled trainer rather jarring (the fact that her training was handled entirely offscreen and concluded with the use of As You Know does little to rectify). It helps that they point out that Katara is driven to excel, which enables her to get more out of quality training than her Brilliant, but Lazy beau.
      • Sokka, who was previously just the Plucky Comic Relief, took his level in badass when he got his space sword, made actual plans for an army and wore that cool wolf armor. It helps that they show that he learns fairly fast given the opportunity and introduce him to lots of teachers. He and his sister did grow up in an isolated village without access to teachers.
      • Zuko actually takes several levels in badass during the third season. As the first season went on, he could almost be seen as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Throughout the second season, he is constantly outmatched by his sister, Azula. During the third season however, he takes a Heel–Face Turn, stands up to his father, Ozai and tells him exactly what he thinks about him and that he is leaving to train Aang so that he can defeat him. This hits Ozai's Berserk Button and he fires a lightning bolt at Zuko, which Zuko redirects to hit near him, saying it's the Avatar's duty to defeat him, not his own. After that, his fights against Azula were a lot more even, enabling him to hold her off long enough to aid in dramatic escapes. And once she began her Villainous Breakdown, she had to present Zuko with a Sadistic Choice in order to even gain an advantage in their Agni-Kai duel. He was actually winning, managing to knock her to the ground, whilst being calm and collected, until she pulled that move.
      • Zuko's uncle Iroh, already pretty badass, works off the extra weight he'd gained in retirement and manages to burst out of a metal prison while the firebenders have lost their power due to the eclipse.
      • Toph was already a Master Earthbender when the GAang found her. She could take on most any Earthbender, save Bumi, and win easily. How does she become even more badass? By developing Metalbending, something no one in the history of the world had done before.
      • The first scene of Bumi was back when Aang hadn't vanished from the world. He was a scraggly kid with a weird face and a love of pranks. A century later and he is the strongest Earthbender in the series able to do several amazing feats of bending with his head exposed. He later freed his city in the span of 8 minutes when all the Firebenders were powerless.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • This Sequel Series shows that Toph got even stronger in old age, to the point where two of her established weaknesses (Airbending and loose earth mucking with her Seismic Sense) are all non-issues now. She doesn't even need to use hand motions to Earthbend anymore, and with her connection to the swamp her Seismic Sense now spans continents.
      • Korra herself steadily becomes much more competent throughout the series. Becoming the first avatar to Metalbend is the most prominent example.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, the episode "Mad Love" shows the character Harley Quinn taking a level of badass on multiple people. She utilizes a thrown-away plan by the Joker positively, stabs Batman In the Back (of the neck), and has Batman out to the point where he later admits to Joker, "I have to admit, she came a lot closer [to killing me] than you ever did. Puddin'." Her CMOA vanishes when she gets knocked out a five-story building.
    • Charlie Collins. He started out the episode "Joker's Favor" as a bitter, ordinary man who ended up being tormented by the Joker. By the end of the episode, he is the one tormenting the Joker.
  • Remember when Cobra Commander of G.I. Joe was a whiny twit of silly schemes? When he destroys Moscow as a show of force, in G.I. Joe: Resolute, you will know you are dealing with a badass Big Bad who would give anyone nightmares.
  • When he first appears, Willy Watt of Batman Beyond is a typical scrawny nerd. After a few months in juvenile hall, he becomes a buff badboy that even the other kids in juvie are afraid of.
  • Aelita from Code Lyoko spends the first two seasons as a Damsel in Distress needing the protection of the Hero Secret Service (and sometimes picking the Distress Ball herself, to the point of being considered The Load by part of the fandom). Then by Season 3 she gains an attack power and no longer can be killed just by losing all her Hit Points. Then she gains the ability to sprout wings and fly. She also progressively gets more confident, turning into a full-fledged Action Girl. She is still XANA's Designated Victim throughout Seasons 3 and 4 thanks to her MacGuffin Super Person status, but now she's certainly fighting back. William from the same series went from an annoying rival to Ulrich to a badass villain.
  • Danny Phantom
    • Valerie Gray started out as a rather spoiled, superficial girl, and by the end of the second season, could kick major ghost butt without her suit using little more than her housekeys.
    • Arguably Danny himself through Character Development. Compare his first few episodes to the latter ones. In the beginning he was awkwardly stumbling with his powers. By end though, he had enough strength to kick god-like ghost beings!
    • Then there's Jack Fenton. He went from Bumbling Dad to Genius Bruiser over the course of the series.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory movie Ego Trip, Teenage Dexter is portrayed as a complete wuss. Until Mandark breaks his glasses.
  • In the Dora the Explorer Christmas Special Swiper the fox had this little exchange with his future self.
    Swiper: Swiper, No Swiping!, Swiper no swiping, SWIPER NO SWIPING!
    Future Swiper: THAT doesn't work anymore! (steals his Time Travel cape)
  • The Dragon Prince shows Callum. At the beginning of the first season, he was an ordinary boy who was struggling to finish his second spell and had to be rescued several times by Rayla. Towards the end of the second season, he is a true magician who can assist Rayla in combat and in Season 3, he masters a difficult spell he had seen demonstrated once to give himself wings to save Rayla from falling to her death.
  • The Dreamstone:
    • Amberley. Similar to Rufus, Amberley was thoroughly useless in the second season, and even in the first had minimal moments of effectiveness, usually playing a Distressed Damsel. In the third and forth season, Amberley becomes more tactical, often forming team strategies, with her and Rufus being the most consistent reason the Urpneys are stopped.
    • While not as consistent, the Urpneys also had a few more evident cases of being Not So Harmless in the later seasons (they are thoroughly unstoppable in "The Spidermobile" for example). Combined with Zordrak's more ambitious motives for the capturing the title stone (from giving the Noops bad dreams to taking over the universe), there was a fair bit more emphasis on the heroes being in legitimate danger.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "Woo-oo!", Dewey challenges Glomgold to a fight but is easily cowed and backs down before a blow is even exchanged. In "The Spear of Selene!", he takes on Webby in a brawl that lasts for several minutes and manages to hold his own before Webby eventually pins him.
  • The Fairly Oddparents:
    • Played for laughs in the Made-for-TV Movie, Abra-Catastrophe!, where Cosmo briefly helps Timmy combat an all-powerful Denzel Crocker after watching an 11-second workout video and gaining Hulk Hogan pecs. Played straight in the same movie, with Crocker.
    • Also played for laughs in "Knighty Knight", where King Arthur immediately becomes big and muscle bound after getting glasses.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Dial Meg for Murder" Meg Griffin turns into a hardened criminal after three weeks in a prison (due to sheltering an escaped convict) and returns the suffering inflicted on her over the years to her family and fellow students. This is just a one-episode thing though.
  • Futurama:
  • Godzilla: The Series. Sure, it's technically his last-surviving offspring. But, the fact that he has nuclear breath and fights other monsters like his Japanese counterpart really helps.
    • A three-part special has the ORIGINAL American Godzilla being turned into a surprisingly powerful cyborg, becoming the series' version of Mechagodzilla.
  • The Hollow: After developing pyrokinesis, Kai is considerably more powerful, arguably one of the most powerful members of the humans.
  • Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible took a severe level in badass the first movie, the Grand Finale and the episodes where he is turned evil.
    • In the Kim Possible movie, 'A Sitch in Time, the future version of Monique has clearly taken several levels in badass since we last saw her — she's gone from having to duck and weave and run away from every bad guy she faces (when she subs for Ron as Kim's sidekick in the present), to helping Kim kick some serious ass in the future. (Ron is still the one who ultimately saves the day.)
    • Also from the movie, future!Wade is a Gentle Giant badass commando.
    • And so on for everyone else. Especially Drakken, who took many levels in both movies and the Grand Finale, the latter of which is a permanent one.
  • In the Disney short Lambert the Sheepish Lion, Lambert is a lion that is always hiding behind his sheep mommy when the other sheep tease him. Up until a wolf tried to eat his mom.
  • In the animated version of Legion Of Superheroes, the entire series takes a level in badass between the first season and the Darker and Edgier second season. Several of the male characters bulk up significantly, especially Superman, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf, and Lightning Lad (who also Grows the Beard). On top of that, it also introduces a second Future Badass version of Superman. At least in the case of Superman (the original one) this is justified as Brainiac intentionally went back in time to get him, but not as far back in time, so the Superman he brings back is older and more experienced.
  • The Lion Guard has Badili, a kindhearted and timid leopard who is afraid to stand up for himself against another bullying leopard. But thanks to training from the Lion Guard, Badili becomes fiercer, braver, stronger, faster, and more confident. He does briefly start cowering again at one point, but he quickly recovers and stands up against the bullying leopard, chasing him away with a loud roar.
  • Private Snafu, a Wartime Cartoon Looney Tunes character who starred in shorts made especially for soldiers. In his early appearances he was portrayed as the worst soldier in the US military, and the purpose of his cartoons was so soldiers could learn what not to do. By the end of the war, he was behaving much like Bugs Bunny, outwitting enemy soldiers and successfully completing missions.
  • Ofdensen in Metalocalypse, starting with the Season 1 finale. Because sometimes a Liz Lemon Job requires you to kick some ass.
    • Taken even further in Season 3 where he fakes his own death for 9 months to investigate a secret project only 4 people are supposed to know exist, and makes the series Big Bad go into a minor rage because he saw his face. He even manages to avert World War 3 and bring peace to the Middle East WITH SNOWCONES.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: During the events of "Dragonshy", Fluttershy is largely The Load — but when her friends are threatened, she levels up to Badass Adorable. During the climactic battle at the end of A Canterlot Wedding, she is seen physically belting the hell out of the Changelings. Not bad for somepony who in the first episode of the first season could barely speak to strangers.
    • Twilight Sparkle over the course of the series goes from bookworm magical student with poor social skills to one of the most competent magicians in the series, repeated savior of Equestria, and an alicorn princess, and thus, big political figure. Even more so in the final of Season 4, when she takes on power of all four princesses and fights against Tirek, a villain more powerful than Discord, in Dragon Ball-esque battle. Seriously.
    • Spike as well. In Season 4, his fire breath was shown to be more powerful than it was previously portrayed — in "Equestria Games", he used it to quickly melt a huge chunk of falling ice before it could crush the stadium in which the eponymous event was being held. Then he got wings in the Season 8 episode "The Molt Down", and made a Roc back off with a single fire blast to the face shortly thereafter.
    • King Sombra's two appearances really showcase how much stronger the Mane Six have gotten over the course of the series. His first appearance had them running in sheer terror from him, unable to even come close to harming him, hiding behind a barrier while desperately trying to find a MacGuffin to stop him, and he still would have beaten them if not for one final desperate move from Spike, Shining Armor, and Princess Cadance. His second appearance ends with the Mane Six doing a confident Unflinching Walk toward him, with no MacGuffins at all, Twilight effortlessly swatting his blasts away with her horn, and ultimately killing him off for real in a single shot using just The Power of Friendship alone.
    • Hell, the whole franchise got this treatment around 2010. While the 80s pilot specials and the 1986 movie were no slouches in the badassery department, the series got progressively more diabetes-inducing after the movie. And then, after it got as non-threatening as you could get, suddenly this show comes onto the scene and takes the Internet by surprise just from how awesome it could get. And it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes has K.O., Enid, and Rad literally taking levels in badass throughout the series. K.O. in particular starts out as level 0 (making him one of the weakest characters) and come the series finale "Thank you for Watching the Show" he's becomes a level 100 Hero at age 35+, making him possibly the most powerful Hero in the world.
  • ReBoot
    • Enzo Matrix. Even more jarring come Season 4.0, when both the Before (Enzo) and After (Matrix) versions exist simultaneously.
    • Megabyte takes a few levels himself over the series, completely averting the standard Villain Decay. Especially when he gets shapeshifting powers.
  • The main six (the most notable being T.J. and Gus) and Miss Grotke in Recess: School's Out.
  • Scooby-Doo is no stranger to this trope, but Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur comes to mind. Shaggy, acting under hypnosis, beats the crap out of an entire biker gang, wins a motorcycle race after rescuing his opponent, and navigates the gang (plus a few more) through a pit full of snakes during a mine explosion.
    • And at the end, he ends up escaping without the hypnosis, and saves the rest of the gang.
    • Shaggy has another one in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated when Scooby is kidnapped.
  • Prince Desmond, in the "Make Way for Miss Nettle" episode of Sofia the First. He starts out as a coward who fears almost everything, including wet socks, but ends up tackling a powerful fairy to take her wand.
  • South Park:
    • Ike goes from "Don't kick the baby!" in Season 1 to being part of a plan to steal the Hope Diamond by Barack Obama and John McCain. This is before he runs off to be a pirate having grown bored with middle class life.
    • Liane Cartman as of "Coon 2: Hindsight." She's actually refusing to be Cartman's personal servant for once, and punishing him for swearing and beating up his friends. It says something that this is a level in badass for her. (She does fall for the LeBron James Technique, however.) As of "HumancentiPad", she has apparently stopped putting up with any of Eric's attitude, making her one of the few (if only) competent parents on the show. Of course, now Eric has started screwing her over the same way he does everyone else.
    • Kenny as of "Mysterion Rises".
    • Butters on numerous occasions:
      • "Super Fun Time": He will not let go of Cartman's hand. For anything.
      • "Christian Rock Hard": After Cartman's plan to scam the Contemporary Christian community falls flat on his face, breaking up his band and humiliating him in front of a deeply offended audience, Butters (a devoted Christian himself) farts in Cartman's face, then flips him off and says "Fuck you, Eric."
      • "Imaginationland": Freaking becomes the Messianic Archetype of Imagionationland's by turning the war around with his own, well, imagination, and then completely fucking resurrecting it after a nuclear strike by imagining the whole fucking thing back into existence.
      • "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs": "The Reason You Suck" Speech he gives the main characters after the novel they wrote makes him a worldwide celebrity.
      • "Butterballs": His "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his grandma.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with Wendy in "Breast Cancer Show Ever" by standing up to Cartman and then beating the living shit out of him at the end.
    • Heidi in "Splatty Tomato" after she abandons the victim mentality and dumps Cartman, even ignoring his suicide threats that originally kept her from leaving him.
  • Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants by Season 7 and onwards. In Seasons 1-3, he was a very effective villain, in Seasons 4-6 he suffered Villain Decay, then starting with Season 7, he returns to his threatening and menacing self, particularly in the episode "Frozen-Face Off", "SpongeBob's Last Stand" and "One Coarse Meal". In "Frozen-Face Off", he organized an entire race as a distraction so he could steal the Krabby Patty formula without trouble and interference and in order to throw off the suspicion, he placed his robot doppelganger to participate in the race and it took all the main characters to stop his plans. In "SpongeBob's Last Stand" he built a super highway which directly led to the Chum Bucket and it drove away all jellyfish from their fields and took over the entire town and almost all of Bikini Bottom's population supported him. It was so evil that Mr. Krabs was going to give the secret formula willingly. Both episodes were more dramatic and serious than most other episodes in the series. Even in "One Coarse Meal", the episode where Mr. Krabs crossed the Moral Event Horizon by driving Plankton to suicide, Plankton was a very effective villain. He drops a powerful explosive the size of a TV remote on the Krusty Krab's roof; he is said to build a transmutator (a machine with the power to make an element in nature into another element, like iron into gold, fire into air, etc.); and a robotic bomb-shaped object that is actually a disguised, robotic, telescopic claw that can crush a sea creature. And at the end of the episodes, Plankton used a mime to scare Mr. Krabs, who is afraid of mimes, and judging by Krabs' reaction, his phobia of mimes is bigger than Plankton's phobia of whales, since Mr. Krabs was completely irrational, while Plankton managed to stay rational and not go crazy like Krabs did. This unintentionally foreshadows that Plankton will become much more monstrous and effective and this will lead into the events of the movie, which is the Grand Finale of the series.
    • SpongeBob himself takes a rather notable level in "Pets or Pests". In the protection of his new pet baby worms, he tackles Larry Lobster to the ground to stop him from eating them and takes a semi-truck that was about to run them over apart.
    • The episode Spongebob, You're Fired! has the title character saved by a mysterious figure in a Krabby Patty costume known as the Killer Patty, who beats the tar out of competing fry cooks before carrying the little guy off. And who does this masked hero turn out to be? Squidward.
  • Don't expect the show's haters to admit it, but Ben Tennyson did took some level in badass in Ben 10: Alien Force; in the original show, he was a 10-year old immature kid with a very limited control on his powers, who would easily make himself look ridiculous or ending up in distress when the Omnitrix stopped working. In Alien Force, he has grown up into a responsible leader, has much better control over the Omnitrix, and is a competent fighter even without the Omnitrix, as well as much more skilled at using his aliens. As a side effect however, it resulted in some of his allies and enemies, especially Kevin 11 and Vilgax, to suffer Villain Decay. Presumably because of fans' reaction, Ben then Took a Level in Dumbass in Season 3 due to a failed attempt to make him more like his original series' self.
    • Although Kevin did pull a Heel–Face Turn in Alien Force.
    • Also, some of the B-level members of the Rogues Gallery have gotten badder. Dr. Animo temporarily rules a world. Also, Vilgax absorbs the powers of the champions of worlds he conquers, and returns a lot tougher.
  • Here's a fun game: take some buddies who are familiar with the Super Friends and show them either the Justice League episode "The Enemy Below" or "The Terror Beyond". Once they're done, tell them that the crazy blonde badass dude with the hook for a hand is, in fact, the once incredibly lame Aquaman. We would like pictures of their reactions.
    • The Flash starts as basically the team's designated diversion-creator, which would usually last until he inevitably tripped on something. One season later, he manages to take out an entire space-station full of mooks in seconds, and, at the end of Season 4, he destroys Brainiac by taking him apart piece by piece.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks does this to the Pakleds. When they first appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Samaritan Snare", they are only able to hold the Enterprise-D at bay by threatening Geordi La Forge, whom they took as a hostage of sorts. When they come back in the episode "No Small Parts", they're able to create monstrosities out of various ship pieces, nearly tearing the USS Cerritos apart if not for the arrival of the USS Titan.
  • Ludo from Star vs. the Forces of Evil spends all of Season 1 as a Harmless Villain who never fights Star directly, and in the finale he gets kicked out by his own minions, has his castle and army blown up, and finally he's thrown into another dimension. Once Season 2 starts, though, he manages to survive in the wilderness and tame a giant spider and eagle several times larger than him all by himself... and then he finds the other half of Star's fragmented wand crystal, giving him his own wand.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano starts off as a scruffy young Padawan learner who is always the one asking questions and learning lessons. By the time of the Sequel Series Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka is an experienced former Jedi who is one of the founders of the Rebel Alliance, is powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with Darth Vader (who benefits from Adaptational Badass making him the second-strongest Force user in the galaxy short of the Emperor himself) in single combat, and ends the series by being one of only three Old Republic-era Jedi to live long enough to see the Empire burn.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven gradually grows into his powers and gets used to the danger that comes with being a Crystal Gem (though he's still somewhere between an Actual Pacifist and Technical Pacifist whose "weapons" are impenetrable bubbles, a shield and healing saliva).
    • Connie, after taking sword training lessons from Pearl, seems to be becoming a Badass Normal.
    • Happens to Lars after he gets kidnapped by Homeworld, dies saving the Off-Colors, gets resurrected by Steven, and becomes the captain of the Sun Incinerator, with the Off-Colors serving as his crew.
    • Pink Diamond went from an Annoying Younger Sibling to Blue and Yellow Diamond that couldn't be taken seriously, to a Chessmaster who masterminded the Crystal Gem rebellion against herself so the Earth could be free, and ultimately ended up cleverly faking her own death to accomplish this, which fooled everyone.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Certain versions like the 2007 CGI movie, have April O'Neil learning their brand of ninjitsu. She's also been a playable character in a few video games. (Probably because some designers felt a need to include a female fighter.)
    • Serling, a butler robot in Fast Forward, actually saved his master's life in probably one of the most impressive fashions.
  • Teen Titans' Slade took a level in badass come Season 4. After being absent for a season, (Due to being betrayed and apparently killed by his apprentice) he comes back with magical powers and proceeds to beat the Titans senseless without even breaking a sweat.
  • Total Drama:
    • Back in Total Drama Island, Courtney's has a poor record in challenges, even failing to compete in the very first challenge. Subsequent seasons shows that her gaining many skills such martial arts, acrobatics, cheerleading and among others and is tied with Gwen for winning the most number of invincibilities. As for her leadership skills, she fail to lead her team properly in the first season but in the second, the manages to break the Killer Grips' poor record and win the last two challenges prior to the merge.
    • Heather doesn't bother helping out in challenges and always have Beth and Lindsay doing it for her. Without their help, she faces many difficulty to participate in any of her challenges. In subsequent seasons, she is willing to gets her hands dirty and even manages to reach the finale of Total Drama World Tour on her own this time.
    • At the start of Revenge of the Island, Zoey was generally a Damsel in Distress who relied on Mike to save her from dangerous situations. During her 'Commando Zoey' phase however she gains athletic skills, prominent aiming skills, and considerable strength. She retains these skills in All-Stars as she knocks a couple of sharks away from Mike and Gwen using the medallion Mike gave her as a sling shot, lands a torch piece perfectly on a statue from a great distance, and dodges a barrage of leeches fired by Jo at Bullet Time.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers: Generation 1: All the Autobots should qualify for this trope, since they were designed for civilian use. Extensive after-market tuning turned a loser into the Optimus Prime we know and love today.
      • Wheelie of all people took a level in badass after Season 3. He lost the rhyming speech disability, got drunk, and beat up several Decepticons in succession in the Headmasters pilot.
      • After Season 3? Try after The Movie — in the five-part season premiere, he shoots a Sweep right in the face while free-falling, simultaneously breaking from his rhyming to deliver the One-Liner "Galvatron is strong, but Wheelie is mean!"
      • And who can forget Spike Witwicky? The Token Human companion of the Autobots who starts in Season 1 and 2 as a young lad trying his best to help the good 'bots but getting into big trouble more often than not, goes from Distressed Dude and almost bordering on Butt-Monkey status, to (in the animated movie, and then Season 3 onwards) reaching peak adulthood, marrying Carly and being a father to Daniel, being an active (and effective) agent in the war against the Decepticons, to ultimately becoming a Transformer himself and saving the whole universe. Yep. And, woe betide any Decepticon threatening Daniel's life, for he will stop at nothing to save his son. Not even the universe's fate has a higher priority than this man's child.
      • Galvatron. As Megatron, "Decepticons, REEEETREEEEEEAT!" was practically his catchphrase, uttered about three times per episode. His high-pitched voice (second only to Starscream) didn't add badass points, either. Then he gets upgraded into Leonard Nimoy temporarily. Then he goes mad, permanently and becomes a much more interesting villain and unpredictable threat. Unfortunately, crazy Galvatron was as likely to pound his own minions as he was the Autobots. Other versions of Megatron get upgraded into Galvatron as well, but for the first Galvatron, it's about the personality change even more than the increase in power.
    • Keep in mind his final moments as Megatron were actually wiping out a good number of key Autobots, and, after an impressive one on one, mortally wounding Optimus Prime himself.
      • More recent incarnations of Megatron have themselves become far more intelligent and dangerous in their skills and motives to the point where it feels they don't need an army to win. Perhaps the most notable of them is the Animated Megatron, who is so much of a threat that he considers the Autobots as little more than pests for most of the time (even going so far as to not acknowledge them by name).
      • This has been taken to even higher levels (if possible) in Prime, where he's now a nth unstable sadist with A God Am I.
    • Reversing this seemed to be the main point of Transformers Animated, where the Autobots were all workers on a space bridge, and only have a weapon or two each, all of which, with the exception of Prowl's shurikens, had non-combat purposes in mind. This was to keep the Decepticons from suffering from Villain Decay (which is also why there are more human villains). In fact, they're armed to the teeth and it takes all of the Autobots to just take down one or two of them.
    • Prowl was already pretty badass in Animated with the whole Cyber-Ninja thing (though technically he never finished the training), but he kicked it up a notch in "Five Servos of Doom" when he really seemed to get a handle on the Cyber-Ninja powers. Especially when He destroys a scorebord in a baseball field with only his mind, thus saving himself, Lockdown, and the Starscream clone from being flattened into pancakes.
      • Waspinator in Beast Wars: The Chew Toy whose only purpose was to get blown up Once per Episode and the weakest Predicon normally. Fast forwards to Transformers Animated: A vengeful Ax-Crazy techno-organic juggernaut and a major threat. Blowing him up STILL doesn't work, but this time, it's an actual plus for him.
      • During Transwarped, Sari of all people took a level in badass. In fact, she had to take a level out of badass, because powering up her newly-discovered-to-be-technoorganic self made her an out of control juggernaut that nearly killed Bumblebee and endangered most of the city. Now she just shoots energy blasts from her hands, can program space bridges, and is actually mature.
      • In the same episode Bumblebee was, effectively, given a level in Badass, when Ratchet upgraded his stingers to Battle grade.
    • Cheetor from Beast Wars got noticeably more capable with his own abilities. Originally just a scout and little skill in combat, he eventually became The Lancer to Optimus Primal during Beast Machines and a competent leader in his own right.
    • Starscream in Transformers: Prime. After spending most of the first half of the second season doing the Humiliation Conga, he discovers the indestructible Apex Armor. He then loses it not many episodes later, but afterwards he gains Red Energon, which he uses to steal the Omega Keys from the Autobots. Then he rejoins the Cons, makes a tactical decision that ultimately denies the Autobots the Omega Lock, and leads a freaking armada to attack the Autobot base, shooting Wheeljack down in the process.
      • Soundwave would be seen to be this if it wasn't clear in hindsight that he was incredible from the start. For most of the first season, he does nothing but act as the silent communications officer for the Decepticons and leaves the ship all of once. Then near the end of the season, he absolutely embarrasses Airachnid without moving from his spot when she attempts a coup (after the beatdown he goes back to work). Moving into Season 2, he fights Wheeljack to a standstill and displays perfect and instant mastery of Spacebridge technology when he lets Arcee take a flying attack at him and opens a bridge millimeters before him that she flies into. Now in Season 3, he's fought an upgraded Optimus Prime on even air (they were flying) and snagged a 6-inch fossil falling in mid air with another instant portal. Essentially the writers have to be stingy with Soundwave's screentime because he is a veritable force unto himself.
      • There's also Arcee, in most continuities she is mostly The Chick who sits in the sidelines while everyone else does all the fighting. In Prime she is a straight up Action Girl who gets into more fights as much as everyone, and she's not afraid in taking on bots who are thrice her size and win.
  • Henchman 21 from The Venture Bros. is a prime example of this trope. From Season 1 to Season 3, he was blubbery, lazy and inept. But when his best/only friend Henchman 24 was killed, his personality changed radically, and he started training. Now instead of being the Monarch's pudgy, occasional go-to guy, he is officially his most fearsome and competent henchman, now sporting a heavily muscled frame, as well as wrist-blades and greatly improved fighting skill.
    • This is still Henchman 21, and this is still The Venture Bros.. While more competent than he had been in any previous season and arguably more competent than his boss, he's still a fanboy whose Genre Savvy is based more on Rule of Funny than Rule of Cool, making him still prone to solutions that are Awesome, but Impractical.
      • His new nickname, "Two-Ton 21", perfectly reflects this. On one hand it sounds like a reference to a monstrous behemoth, but on the other hand it also refers to him still having a bit of a pudgy frame which 21 even groans a bit over.
    • 21's skills have been even further quantified when he takes on Brock Samson and actually puts up a better than decent fight. Brock himself admits as much after beating him. A Moment of Awesome for 21 to be sure.
    • In the episode "Assasinnany 911," Molotov Cocktease attempts to give the Venture boys a lesson in Bad Ass. It doesn't take.
    • Done in a small way by Sally Impossible after she hooks up with J-J Venture. She goes from a flaky co-dependent (and possibly alcoholic) to a strong-minded young woman who can chew out Richard and co-pilot the Ventron.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender:
    • Keith was portrayed all along as a capable fighter, but also clearly a rookie compared to fighters like Shiro, Lotor or veteran Blade of Marmora members. But after two years traveling on the back of a space whale in the company of his mother Krolia and an energy wolf through the Quantum Abyss, he came out the other side bigger, stronger and clearly in control of his emotions (which held him back more than his lack or muscle or skill). When he takes over for Shiro in the final battle against Lotor, he's far more confident and in control than his last stint as the Black Paladin.
    • Matt. The first time he appears, he is (understandably) terrified at the thought of having to fight a gladiator and the prospect of never seeing his family again, but by the time Pidge finds him, he has become an experienced fighter and a leader in the resistance.
  • Blue in We Are the Strange. She starts out as a justifiably-mopey emo, but turns into a robot-killing Action Girl by the end of the movie.
  • Why, Charlie Brown, Why?: Linus is usually polite and philosophical, and typically becomes passive-aggressive when angry. His badass moments in the comics, TV specials and movies usually involve his prowess with weaponizing his blanket, outsmarting his opponents, or delivering particularly scathing or heartwarming comments when being challenged (thanks to his understanding of philosophy). His following this trope is combined with OOC Is Serious Business; for starters, he yells at Lucy with genuine disgust over her insensitivity to Janice's illness. The most jarring moment is when Linus rips into a bully and nearly tries to deck him after he makes fun of Janice's chemotherapy-induced baldness, making her cry.
  • Bloom, in the Season 1 finale of Winx Club, takes down Icy, an older, more experienced spellcaster who at this point really just wants to kill Bloom once and for all, by manifesting the ability to teleport, and just popping up around Icy until she burns out her magic trying to knock her out of the air. Considering that Bloom hadn't even been at Alfea for a year (and wasn't terribly great at magic up to this point), this definitely qualifies.
  • Matt from Season 2 of W.I.T.C.H. takes lessons in how to fight from resident Badass Normal Caleb. He's still not great in a fight, but at least he's not completely useless. He takes a further level later in the season when he gains full blown magic powers.
  • X-Men: Evolution.
    • True to the name, Spyke went through a major Evolution over the course of the series. He went from being the slacker all the Internet fans hated in Seasons 1 and 2, to being put on a bus in Season 3, to emerging as a new found badass that people suddenly liked in Season 4.
    • Everyone in the opening of Season 3, it started with them breaking their friends out of Area 51, hiding out in a cave (With a box of scraps!) take out several high powered military choppers and beat up Juggernaut (who in Season 1 they needed everyone, plus the Brotherhood to take off his helmet so Chuck could mind blast him), Cyclops especially when they go back to school and has his glasses taken, he beats up the jerks who stole them & then later gets stranded in Mexico without his glasses, & survives fighting Wolves! His quote to Logan shows off their newfound badassy "No Logan you trained us, and you know something? We're good, REAL Good."
    • The Badass level could be rooted back to Season 1's finale, the previous episode had Kurt, Evan, and Kitty getting beaten up by Lance, Pietro, and Blob, they come back from this to then not only beat them, but also Destroy a flying villain hideout which itself included a Take a Level in Badass machine.


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