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These are heroes that actually prefer their boring, uneventful lives, and wish to remain nobodies. Or it could be that saving the day is just not high on their list of priorities. However, fate forces them to step up, and they do, even if they're bitching and moaning the whole time. After saving the village, town, or world, they go right back to being, well, themselves. Until the next crisis.
What makes them particularly amazing is that they accomplish badassness by way of doing something particularly un-Badass. No radioactive spider bit them and they don't possess a BFG or BFS. Think of the housewife whose home is invaded and beats the bad guys with a frying pan. Or a guy who works at a burger joint who uses his french-fry-making skills to foil a robbery.
There are many methods to creating a Badass Unintentional. These include:
a) A Badass Bookworm... who uses his/her smarts.
b) A Spanner in the Works or an Unwitting Pawn is guaranteed to become a Badass Unintentional if he/she takes a level in badass but only temporarily. Otherwise they'd simply become a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
c) A Right Man in the Wrong Place who saves the day through means other than gunplay or fisticuffs, probably because he/she is no good at either.
d) A Loyal Sidekick who suddenly finds him/herself without The Hero because he's incapacitated, on vacation, kidnapped or whatever.
e) A Distressed Damsel who realizes The Hero ain't coming any time soon and thus has to make do on her own.
Anime & Manga
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, Izumi refuses to acknowledge her badass status, despite occasionally being forced by circumstance into conflict to protect the ones she loves.
Greed: Who are you?!
- In Naoki Urasawa's Monster, before shooting at Roberto and earning his status as a full-fledged Badass, a traumatized, paranoid Tenma jumps off a bridge to save himself from potential enemies.
- That was actually as much to save Nina as his own hide. He pulls her off the bridge with him.
- From Legend of Galactic Heroes, Yang Wenli, also known as 'Miracle Yang' or 'Magician Yang', is quite possibly the most brilliant and widely feared military commanders in the entire universe, to the point where enemy forces will hesitate in their attack at the mention of his name. Despite his fearsome reputation, however, the man himself is mild-tempered, hates warfare, and really just wants to retire with a nice, fat pension and become a historian.
- Ironically, when his enemies finally push him to his snapping point, he delivers a curb-stomp of epic proportions.
- Sawada Tsunayoshi in Katekyo Hitman Reborn REALLY doesn't want to be a Mafia boss. He just wants to live his lazy, average life. That is, until he learns how to beat up bad guys with flaming HANDS as well as flying with them and getting repeatedly gutted, shot, etc and then brushing it off. And only when his friends get hurt, see.
- While in To Aru Majutsu no Index one could argue Touma as this, Hamazura is more this trope. Just a level 0 thug made to work for the "darkness" of Academy City, he defeats the #4 Level 5 by himself, twice, fights off Russian and Academy City forces during World War 3, and storms a building taken hostage by a counter-intelligence unit via helicopter all to save the girl he loves.
- In Wanted one of the stories revolves around a samurai named Ryuuma who seeks to become a great swordsmen fight the 'King, who is considered the strongest warrior in the world. Thing is, Ryumma IS the 'King', unknowingly given the nickname by all the people he's saved in his quest to be the best.
- Kanata Sorami of Sora no Woto joined the Army to learn to play the trumpet. And what do you know, that's how she prevented a war.
- Issei Hyodou in Highschool Dx D really just wants to have a harem of his own and not wanting to fight anybody at all seeing as he loves peace. Unfortunately, he gets dragged to other people's problems and yet kicks ass so much he gets promoted from being a low-class devil to a middle-class in just six months.
- Ellen Baker in Animal Man. A supervillain breaks into her house to get at her superhero husband... and she beats the crap out of him.
- Similarly, Mary Jane from Spider-Man once beat up the Chameleon with a baseball bat and talked down a hostage-taker while wearing nothing but lingerie. Though really, wearing nothing but lingerie is probably how she got away with it in the first place.
- Proving that the Chameleon really shouldn't mess with the Parker women, Aunt May once saw through his disguise (he was being Peter). So she pretended nothing was wrong, gave him cookies, and had a nice chat... then revealed that the cookies had tranquilizers in it, she'd put in some almonds to make the Chamelon think she had dosed him with cyanide, and as he passed out, Aunt May revealed that sampler she'd been knitting the entire time had "GOTCHA" sewn into it.
- In the Donald Duck tales of Carl Barks and Don Rosa, this describes Donald himself. The thirty-cent-an-hour odd jobs that Uncle Scrooge throws him are the closest he gets to regular employment—but frequently end up with him dragged along in search of ancient treasures and lost cities. Rosa's final Donald story, "The Magnificent Seven (minus 4) Caballeros", draws a bright red line under this, as Donald's two old chums are repeatedly stunned by his casual, off-hand references to things like finding El Dorado or Lost Atlantis.
- Jimmy Olsen is badass enough to survive anything, no matter how insane or horrific, that he gets dragged into, just by the sheer magnitude of his Seen It All. Also, if he does get into an unsolvable situation, either he will gain whatever superpowers are necessary to escape, or everything will explode or degenerate into comparable chaos to allow his survival. Jimmy Olsen and the laws of reality have a weird relationship that way.
- The 1992 movie Accidental Hero is about a guy who is the epitome of this trope: Bernard Laplante is the opposite of the muscled blonde man-god that everyone wants a hero to be like, but is extremely able and cool-headed in a crisis. He accidentally becomes the center of media attention after he rescues a female TV reporter along with other survivors of a plane crash, but it causes more trouble for him than it solves because of his criminal record, so he lets his good-for-nothing Vietnam veteran friend take the credit.
- The entire cast of Police Academy (except Hightower. He's just a Badass). Pick any installment, but especially the first one.
- Johnny Five in Short Circuit. Just a wacky computer that realized he was "Alive!" The hero part just happened to come along.
- The Donkey in Shrek.
- Dory in Finding Nemo. (Arguably Marlin as well. But he's more a case of the Berserk Button being pushed, namely, his son being kidnapped).
- The protagonist of the Home Alone movies.
- Pretty much all the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. Frodo was the only one actually looking for an adventure (though not one like this). Hobbits view the desire for adventure as an extremely odd trait (even Bilbo had to be dragged out of his house for his first adventure) but always prove capable when the time comes, making them an entire race of this trope.
- R2-D2 in the original Star Wars trilogy. He's waaaayyy more Badass in the prequels (hopping on a rocket pack, seriously??)
- Jeff Goldblum's character in Independence Day. His only concern the whole movie was getting his ex-wife back. But he still saved the world... with a Mac virus.
- Forrest Gump. Notably, he doesn't even notice that his most impressive actions are exceptional.
- He knows that OTHER people seem to be impressed by SOME of his exploits, but he really doesn't understand WHY.
- Jamie Lee Curtis's character in True Lies. She has quite a few Badass moments in the movie, especially the way she cleans out a dozen terrorists by dropping a MAC-10.
- Shaun of the Dead loves fighting zombies—in video games. Or doing anything in video games. He's rather dim and unambitious, and it takes him a long time to recognize the Zombie Apocalypse as a real threat, but he makes the transition to Badass Action Hero surprisingly quickly once the chips are down.
- Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movies. He really hates being dragged into all this crazy crap. Reluctant Badass might be a better term.
- Sam Witwicky of Transformers has the Unintentional part down pat in the first movie. The Badass doesn't really kick in until the sequel.
- Bruce Willis has said that he's always played John McClane as "somebody who never really wants to do what he has to do."
- Will and Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean start out this way. Neither want much to do with pirates (Elizabeth's wish to meet one vanishes quite quickly when she's actually kidnapped by them). By the end of the first movie, Will has engaged in piracy, Elizabeth has successfully tricked and escaped a few times from Barbossa's crew, and both join Jack Sparrow in a fight against the pirates. They become full-on badasses in the sequels, though they never truly want to devote their lives to piracy and they both end Happily Married and settled down.
- Jason Mc Cullough, played by James Garner, in Support Your Local Sheriff is a badass gunfighter who actively avoids getting a reputation as it's a good way to get killed. Unfortunately, taking the Sheriff's job, ostensibly to earn enough money to get to Australia, leads to a succession of challengers. This annoys him more than anything else.
- Rincewind, the "Wizzard" from Discworld. Continually gets into (and survives through) adventures despite wanting nothing to do with adventure, being completely terrified of adventure, and actively trying to avoid adventure whenever possible. Is also the world's least accomplished wizard, having only ever known one spell (and that one having left him as soon as possible). His list of actual accomplishments, though, includes falling off the world, bringing several new worlds into existence, defeating a sourceror (who are essentially living fonts of magic), being instrumental in taking down a demon lord, and bringing down one of the most powerful armies of the planet.
- Most of the heroes from Discworld fall into this category: Sam Vimes (City Watch) just wanted to be a copper, and ended up stopping wars, time traveling and changing history, and becoming (to his horror) a nobleman. Brutha from Small Gods was just a novice, but ended up becoming the eighth prophet of the Omnian Church. Susan Sto Helit just wanted to be normal and get on with her daily job, despite being Death's adopted granddaughter. Even Death just wanted to do his job, but ended up in conflict against the enemies of humanity several times.
- The witches of the Disc have this as their modus operandi, realizing that what people most often need isn't heroics or magic but just someone willing to take charge and do difficult, mundane work. To date, they've stopped several Eldritch Abominations through little more than stubbornness, headology, and creative use of cookware.
- Like Rincewind, Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!! tries to avoid danger whenever he can, but he is often forced to confront his fears through a combination of wanting to keep up appearances and simple pragmatism (a Million-to-One Chance of survival being reasoned as better than no chance at all).
- We are informed by the editor that despite his negative character traits, Cain is one of the best swordsmen in his corner of the galaxy. Given the types of horrors he seems to attract, all that practice time wasn't wasted at all.
- The remarkably Genre Savvy Apropos. Born crippled and suffering abuse from basically everyone but his mother and best friend, all he really wanted to do was (paraphrasing) "Live an excitement-free life and die of old age in my bed." Against his wishes, however, he ends up becoming a knight, hijacking a phoenix from--and by default becoming--The Hero, saving his kingdom from siege, saving the world from an evil and amorous goddess, and basically leading a coup on an Expy of Feudal Japan (he blew it up.)
- Ender of Ender's Game is not only a Badass Unintentional, he's a Badass Counterintentional, often wishing explicitly that he wasn't such a badass.
- Harry Potter himself, although he has done some pretty badass things facing Lord Voldemort several times and ultimately defeating him, thus saving the wizarding world it's stated several times throughout the series that Harry wished he never would have had to be in a place to do those things. As evidenced in book 1, in the mirror of Erised, all he wanted was a happy family he got one in the end.
- A majority of the people who fight in the seventh book's climax would count as well. Sure, a number of them were in the Order of the Phoenix or were Aurors, but just as many were regular students who didn't want to get involved in a battle, but did so anyway because they wanted to help. And by the end of the fight, it was just thrown out that everyone - friends and family of the students, the shopkeepers and people who lived in Hogesmeade, etc - showed up, presumably for the sole purpose of defending their loved ones and homes.
- There are a few examples in The Dresden Files, but the most appropriate is Waldo Butters, who doesn't mind helping Harry, but ends up dragged into the world of the supernatural courtesy of the events in Dead Beat. Thomas even predicts that Waldo will freak out and abandon Harry when he really needs him. Waldo chooses to come rescue Harry instead, saving his life.
- Skeeter Jackson, of Time Scout, finds himself in medieval Mongolia. Imagine learning Mongolian, how to fight, how to ride a horse, how to use a bow, how to survive a harsh Mongolian winter, while under the strict scrutiny of the father of Genghis Khan. Now imagine doing that at the age of eight.
Live Action TV
- The above paraphrase is from Chuck, a series about a true Badass Unintentional. Chuck actually can't wait for the government to rebuild its database so that he can go back to being just another wage-worker. However, he constantly foils numerous evil plots and often succeeds where his Badass Normal partners fail, precisely because he's a geek. In one episode he finds the codes to stopping a nuclear weapons satellite by defeating an old arcade game that only a fanboy would be able to recognize, let alone beat. Even after Character Development sets in and he decides to become a real hero and download the new Intersect into his head, he retains Badass Unintentional sensibilities.
- Amanda King of Scarecrow and Mrs. King is a good example of this. She's pretty much an ordinary housewife, but she can handle herself in a crisis, which is why she's chosen to partner Agent Scarecrow. She once evaded kidnappers using only the contents of her grocery bag (as I recall, a bottle of Cheez Wiz featured prominently).
- Another notable incident occurred when she and Scarecrow were framed as traitors and on the run. He commented that she had done at least as well at evasion as anyone he'd ever seen. She downplayed it, saying that it was just her neighborhood and she knows where all the fences and mean dogs are. (This only reinforces the trope, however, since a Badass Unintentional is pretty much going to HAVE to use whatever advantages they do have, since they're usually up against someone rather more powerful, at least on paper.)
- Nearly every companion in Doctor Who is a normal, unimpressive individual that when given the opportunity are capable of regularly thwarting the horrors of the universe and save lives and planets.
- Rory Williams especially. He just wanted to settle down with his wife, keep working as a nurse, maybe become a doctor, grow a pony-tail and raise a child. Now he's thwarting aliens every other day. Also, if he has need (like someone kidnapping his wife and child) he will literally change, becoming the Last Centurion, and opening up 2,000 years of memories.
- The heroine of the series Cover Up started out like this, literally wandering into a very dangerous area of espionage because she was trying to find out why her husband was killed, and ended up being recruited as his replacement. In the job that killed him.
- The song "Falso Toureiro" ("Phony Bullfighter"), by Brazilian artist Jackson do Pandeiro (stage name), tells us a first-person story of a guy that went to a bullfight (there are none in Brazil, mind you) and, upon the bullfighter not being there, was shanghaied into being the replacement. He's none too happy about it, as shown in his last line: "Eu mato o cabra que disse que eu sou toureiro!" ("I'll kill the guy that said I'm a bullfighter!").
- Feng Shui does this with one of the character archetypes: The Everyman Hero. Actually, quite a few of the characters do this.
- It's possible to do this with Player Characters in Don't Rest Your Head.
- Jimmy in Bully. He just shows up at school and just tries to get people to like him, and ends up being "King of the School" because of it.
- Kurt from the MDK series of video games. He's just a janitor (not even an Almighty Janitor) who just so happens to save the universe on many occasions.
- Harry Mason of Silent Hill just wanted to find his daughter, and on the way manages to kill plenty of nasty, nasty things and even stop an Eldritch Abomination. There is a reason most fans were pissed when he was killed off-screen halfway through Silent Hill 3.
- Alan Wake is a lot like Harry Mason, except replace "daughter" with "wife". He's also on vacation at the time. Also, he wrote the story he's participating in, and thanks to the magic around Cauldron Lake, which allows artists to rewrite reality, he wrote a way outof said story as well.
- Jun Kazama from Tekken 2. She is a wildlife protection officer and pacifist but she enters the tournament to stop Kazuya Mishima smuggling endangered animals. She is an unintentional badass because she will stop at nothing to protect the animals, including sleeping with Kazuya (resulting in their son, Jin). Her badass level has increased since she was Put on a Bus, due to the Fanon that surrounds her disappearance and fans desperate for her to return.
- Haar from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. He just wants to take a nap...
- Hawke from Dragon Age II. He or she is just a penniless refugee who happens to have some talent as a warrior/mage trying to make a new peaceful life for his or her family in Kirkwall. Hawke's efforts to this end make him/her into a legend.
- And also unintentionally started a civil war between mages and the templars that guard them. Hey, being a Badass Unintentional doesn't mean everything works out for you.
- Garret from the Thief series would like nothing better than to be, well, a simple thief. The world in danger is Someone Elses Problem. Unfortunately for Garret, whatever peril The City finds itself in invariably becomes his problem, either because he's the only person in a position do stop the Big Bad or because things become personal.
- The Nostalgia Critic is by and large a Failure Hero who can't do anything right. However, he can angrily blow up cities without meaning to, and Optimus Prime thought he was worthy of bringing back to life.
- Butters is this, repeatedly. Most pronounced in his Season 15's episode "Last Of the Meheecans" where he inadvertently ends up leading a movement of Mexicans back to Mexico and being heralded by the entire nation. The episode ends with the mere raising of Butter's hands to cause a rallying cry from EVERY Mexican in North America.
- Danny Phantom is also one. He was turned half-ghost by accident.
- The emperor Claudius of Rome. A stuttering, limping, "alleged" fool, he never wanted to lead Rome, and truly just wanted to write. In a wonderful turn of irony, he wound up becoming Emperor AND surviving to old age (most Emperors got killed) precisely because he seemed so harmless. He did a good job running the country too. Oh, and conquered Britain while he was at it.
- He probably survived because he was good at the job, rather than because he seemed harmless. Nobody controlling the apparatus of the Roman State could EVER qualify as 'harmless'.
- Similarly, the story of Cincinnatus, who was given dictatorial powers in 458 BC during a war with the Aequians. He personally led the infantry (in a time when anyone of social standing was on horseback), defeated the Aequians in 16 days with minimal bloodshed, and immediately gave up his powers to return to his humble farm. And then he did this again in 439 BC.
- Sam Cowley, the Desk Jockey FBI man who killed Baby Face Nelson.
- Susan Kunhausen, who returned to her house to find a hit man looking for her. The Hit Man was unfortunate.
- Rukhsana Kauser. She and her brother, children of a local farm family personally chased away a pack of bandits who had come visiting their home in the Indian-Pakistani border.
- Major Richard Winters, of Band of Brothers fame. Major Winters led Easy Company through World War II, was hugely popular with the men, and was a natural military leader. He was also raised a Mennonite and didn't really want much more than to go home to Pennsylvania to his sweetheart and get himself a nice quiet farm somewhere.
- George Washington could have made himself King of the United States or kept the Presidency for the rest of his life if he wanted to. Instead he left after two terms, made sure there was a peaceful transfer of power to his successor, then lived the rest of his life in peace.