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The Badass and Child Duo in its purest form, occurs when a badass (more often than not male, but female examples are on the rise) takes it upon himself, out of goodness, interest, or circumstances beyond his control, to protect an orphaned, unrelated young child.
The Badass and Child Duo is made up of two parts:
- The Badass is a jaded, cynical, and very often male Anti-Hero with a Dark and Troubled Past, age anywhere between their mid-twenties to mid-forties. They will generally be a Jerkass or very serious and stoic in personality. Even if they have a more sensitive side, they will not talk about their emotions, past or what bothers them if they can help it. They're brutally practical and Street Smart, cynical, but they will still hold the hope for a more idealistic world somewhere in their (broken) heart, even if on the surface they deny its existence. In combat they're always a veteran and often a One-Man Army, usually well known in-universe, often with a badass nickname to match. Easily able to mow down dozens of Mooks, one after another without too much effort, their dangerous reputation is sometimes the cause of half the problems the two face, as at least some of their opponents will be there to defeat him/her, rather than snatch away the child they're protecting. The Badass often sees the child as a Morality Pet, as a way to atone for the sins of the past, or as a Replacement Goldfish for a deceased loved one that they've lost. It's not uncommon for them to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in order to protect the child.
- The Child is a Hero, who is very often female but may be of either gender, between toddler-age and tween-age who has been orphaned in the dangerous world these two very different people are trying to survive in. Either the child's proximity to the Badass will constantly bring him/her into dangerous situations, or the Child themself is valuable for some other reason and will have one or more organizations vying to attain them, usually to exploit them in some way that is immoral. It is not uncommon for the child to be supernatural or otherwise special in some way to justify this. If very young the child may not have much of an actual personality, but if a little older they will usually be The Pollyanna, with a smile on their face despite their circumstances. S/he will trust the Badass completely and insist upon their goodness even with complete knowledge, and sometimes even acceptance or approval, of the violence he has done to protect them; if not, they will feel guilty for all the lengths that the Badass takes to protect them, and fear that the Badass will someday be lost to them for it. The Child will at least begin as a Non Action Kid, on the sidelines, not involved in battles at all, perhaps not even present if the badass can find a safe place to stow her for the length of it, though it's also not uncommon for them to develop powers or abilities as they remain in contact with The Badass, especially if they are older, which allows them to participate in combat. The Badass and The Child are nearly always Walking the Earth, either trying to defeat whatever organization is after The Child, to get out of whatever horrible place they are in, or to carry out some Revenge.
If they are not the main characters, their meeting will have taken place off-screen before the story even started. If main characters their meeting will take place very early in the story, and their relationship will develop almost instantly into a Promotion to Parent Papa Wolf (or Mama Bear if the Badass is female) or Big Brother Instinct and an adopted child/sibling. Assuming heterogeneous genders, if the child is a little older (tween-age) the child may develop a Precocious Crush which is usually not returned (although in the future it may be).
Gender inverted versions and same-gendered version occur, but the pure "male badass and female child" version is the most common. This is probably because of their effectiveness at being foils of one another. Females are generally expected to be physically weaker and "purer" then men, and as a youth or child, the vulnerability given off to the audience is enhanced Up to Eleven. This juxtaposed with the adult, physically strong male who is in some way broken by their dark past of terrible sins, is a potent contrast.
Not to be confused with Badass and Baby, when a hero fights while holding a baby, usually to underscore how badass and heroic he is.
Anime And Manga
- Anime Trope Codifier, pictured above: Dororo, where the titular character is a tiny thief who gets himself (or better said, herself) more or less adopted by the teenaged Handicapped Badass Hyakkimaru.
- Pokémon: Houndoom and Togepi.
- Lone Wolf and Cub is probably the Ur Example, though the child in this case is the Badass's baby son.
- Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto and his little brother Shiro. Since their parents' death -supposed death in the case of their father- he was Promoted to Parent for Shiro, even if their very busy grandfather was their guardian. After their grandfather's murder, Shiro was the only family Kouji had left and vice versa (as far as they knew). And even if they often drive each other crazy (due to Shiro using common sense to explain his brother the stunt he tried to pull was dumb, or Kouji making something stupid or being a jerk), if you want to get Shiro, you WILL have to go through Kouji first. A Hot-Blooded Badass perfectly capable to hold his own on a fight and pilots a Humongous Mecha. Get your will ready only in case.
- Until Death Do Us Part features badass blind samurai Mamoru Hijikata protecting the Waif Prophet Haruka Touyama, who is wanted by an evil organization who killed her parents to obtain her power to see the future. She has a Precocious Crush on Mamoru, and has seen that in the future they will be married. She really wants that prediction to come true.
- Bleach has the pair of badass Kenpachi Zaraki, who found the baby-aged Yachiru Kusajishi when he was a nameless murderer in the most lawless, dangerous areas of Rukongai, and took her in. Yachiru is rather unusual for a child of this type of duo, since during the story's present day, at a (seeming) age of about eight, she's become a Killer Rabbit and is well on her way to being at least as badass as Kenpachi.
- Ichigo looked after Nel throughout the Arrancar arc. This paid off when it turned out she was an amnesiac former Arrancar stuck in Sleep Mode Size.
- The Sword Beasts arc had Hisagi's sociopathic (to the point that it was still trying to kill him after despite no longer being controlled by the previous arc's Big Bad) zanpakuto Kazeshini looking after a child whose father was killed in an attack. The experience leads him to surrender to Hisagi.
- Blood Alone has Kuroe, a badass Vampire Hunter who has taken in tween Misaki, an unawakened vampire girl whose vampire hunter parents were killed by vampires who then turned her. He is trying to keep her human personality to stay as long as possible, protecting her from her vampire-self and other dangers as best he can out of guilt and devotion. She has a precocious crush on him, but he is either Oblivious to Love or Obfuscating Stupidity on the matter.
- Soul Eater has a Badass Normal Samurai named Mifune who protects who loves children and protects a child witch named Angela and in the manga, he pays for it with his life.
- Sword of the Stranger has a same-gender version with nameless Ronin Nanashi who goes through hell and back to save a little boy named Kotaro who is wanted by the Chinese emperor because some prophecy says his blood can make him immortal. Whether he lives through it is left unknown, as at the end he was alive but dying in a race to get medical help.
- Michiko to Hatchin is a a same gendered female version, with Michiko Malandro protecting the fuck out of her snarky ward Hana Morenos.
- Daizaemon and Takeshi in Gantz
- El Cazador de la Bruja has two such duos: one is the main couple, Nadie and Ellis (at least until the latter learns to use her magic effectively); the other is Ricardo and Lirio, whose similarities to Lone Wolf and Cub are Lampshaded early on. First is a same gendered pairing, the second is a pure example.
- Inuyasha: Sesshoumaru and Rin fit this trope to perfection. She is the orphaned, troubled young human girl who approaches the wounded taiyoukai with a smile. He is the taciturn, cold, badass Lord of the West who acts like he barely tolerates her presence, and has his subordinate Jaken become her Parental Substitute... Yet he's willing to literally storm Hell itself to rescue her, and as shown in the sequel, Hanyou no Yashahime, they marry when she's older.
- A rare gender inverted example, from Claymore, Claire who is a claymore who protects a tweenage boy named Raki. It is later revealed that Claire herself was protected by Teresa of the Faint Smile, in the same way in a same-gendered example.
- Twisted and subverted in To Aru Majutsu no Index: Accelerator and his Morality Pet Last Order. Twisted because Accelerator is a teenager only a few years older than her. Subverted because while he's undeniably badass, his brain injury means he can't use his power without her assistance.
- Berserk enjoys this trope. The most prominent example is Guts as the badass and Schierke as the child. It's not the purest example, though, since the latter isn't so helpless, and is the one who protects the former from his Super-Powered Evil Side. A straighter example would be when he (reluctantly) had the dynamic going with Jill for a time. Guts also has something like this for Casca, who isn't a child, per se, but has regressed into infancy as a result of horrible trauma suffered during the Eclipse, but circumstances force him to keep his distance from her.
- Dragon Ball: Tien and Chiaoutzou in Part 1.
- Piccolo and the child Gohan, when Piccolo finally lets himself be Licked by the Dog
- Gunslinger Girl is built on this, with each male Handler—a military, police, or intelligence veteran of Italy's mafia and terrorist wars—assigned to the management and instruction of a female cyborg Child Soldier.
- One Piece: Zoro and Chopper appear to be this; the stock badass swordsman and the more innocent diminutive reindeer. Though Chopper is a capable fighter in his own right, Zoro is still stronger and thus more protective of him. He didn't take it well when Ohm hurt Chopper.
- Darker Than Black season II: Hei and Suou definitely qualify.
- Naruto has Haku and Zabuza. Haku's mother was killed by his own father and fellow villagers after learning that the woman and child he supposedly loved were inheritors of a bloodline limit that was used extensively in the previous Ninja War. Orphaned and alone, Zabuza picked up Haku for his special powers. The two became a murderous duo, with Haku willingly becoming Zabuza's "tool" to serve his purposes. Though Haku made it a part of his character never to kill anyone outright, preferring to incapacitate them instead. In the end, when Haku sacrificed his life to save Zabuza, Naruto caused the ex-Mist ninja to admit that yes, he did have a soft spot for the poor kid. Zabuza then ends up doing a Heel Face Turn just minutes before death.
- Scar and Mei in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- Kazuhiko and Suu fit this trope in the first two volumes of Clover.
- Gingetu and Ran may count as a same-sex example, though they don't walk the earth.
- Yasha and Ashura in RG Veda.
- The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird: Yuutaro "Fighbird" Katori has this with Kenta Amano. To a smaller degree, he also has it with Kenta's cousin Haruka (who of course has a Precocious Crush on him).
- X-Men: Wolverine with Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and Laura aka X23 (and Rogue in The Movie).
- He teamed up with Katie Power, the youngest member of Power Pack, at least twice too.
- There's also an android Wolverine named Albert with an android little girl named Elsie Dee as his partner. Basically, people really want Wolverine to do this trope.
- The Marvel Comics character known as Nomad went through this phase in the 90's when he turned into a Vigilante Man with a baby strapped to his back. It's a long story.
- The Savage Dragon had elements of this when he had an adopted daughter.
- Cable and Hope for about 15 years, starting out as a Badass and Baby. Which gave us the rare spectacle of a grizzled middle-aged warrior winning a brutal gun battle, then changing his partner's nappy.
- Leon (a.k.a. The Professional) hooks up with Badass Adorable Mathilda to avenge the murder of her family.
- Shoot Em Up is an example, though the child is only a baby and the Badass gets a little help from a lactating hooker.
- True Grit is this, although ironically it is the child who is far more bloodthirsty than the badass.
- Sadly averted in Saving Private Ryan. One of soldiers tries to take a kid to save it from war and the parents wanted it to happen, but were ordered not to. He didn't listen, but was shot as he was taking the girl in hands.
- Speaking of Terminator expies, Terminator 2 has the titular robot, which we previously saw as an unstoppable nemesis, become the very capable protector of a young boy.
- Bruce Willis's character in Mercury Rising.
- Bruce Willis' character in the Sin City film protects Nancy as a child (and later when she is an adult).
- A same gendered female example in Ripley of Aliens. You only have to look at the theatrical release poster to realize it's this trope.
- Road to Perdition, although the two are in fact related.
- The heroes of The City of Lost Children are a circus strongman and a streetwise urchin.
- Once Upon a Time In Mexico. Likely the inspiration for a blinded Sheldon Sands hooking up with a Mexican street kid to shoot some mooks—though we'll have to wait for a sequel to see if there's a full realisation of this trope.
- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. mob enforcer Big Chris and his son Little Chris.
- Dennis Quaid's character in Savior goes to every length to protect and take care of a newborn girl.
- John Ferrier and Lucy in A Study In Scarlet.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Sandor and Sansa, though he only protects her in the sense of not actively hurting her, with the exception of when he saves her from gang rape, which is kind of cancelled out by what he almost does later. Sandor and Arya, though he only takes her under his wing through kidnapping her for the purpose of ransoming her. Jorah and Dany, though mostly because he falls in love with her.
- The Graceling Lady Killer, Katsa, takes down fifteen men (admittedly with some help), crosses previously-thought impassable mountains and commandeers a ship taking care of the ten-year-old Princess Bitterblue.
- Grendel-Prime to Jupiter during the Grendel: War Child story arch. Interestingly, as the child Jupiter was royalty his deceased father, Orion I, actually created the cyborg Grendel-Prime to specifically play this role, kidnapping the boy so that he could be raised in an environment free of political influence, privilege, and the threat of assassination.
- "The Archive" and her bodyguard Kincaid from The Dresden Files. Played with the twist that Ivy, though physically a child, has the experience and magical power to curb stomp your average badass without breaking stride.
- Jean Valjean and Cosette in Les Misérables—except that in this case the badass is not really a cynic.
- Essentially the entirety of The Road, in which a man treks southwards with his young son in tow. For a post-apocalyptic novel, some of the interaction between them can be pretty heartwarming.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Stargate Atlantis revolves around such a duo. Doctor Keller is kidnapped by a runner (a strong human warrior who is implanted with a tracking beacon and released so the Wraith can hone their hunting skills) to treat a young girl in his care. He later reveals that he stopped briefly in the girl's village which brought the Wraith who then slaughtered them all. Since he blamed himself for the carnage, he took it upon himself to save and protect her.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots features Snake and Otacon, the former of whom is one of the biggest badasses on the planet (according to the latter), serving as foster parents to the six-year-old Sunny Gurlukovich, Olga's daughter who was snatched away from her by the Patriots soon after her birth.
- Jack, the Terminator Expy from Tekken, carries around a little girl named Jane, whose parents he killed and who he subsequently adopted. After the Time Skip and the original Jack's destruction, she grows into a Hot Scientist and decides to dedicate herself to rebuilding him. . .
- Final Fantasy IV has Cecil, the Dark Knight, and Rydia, the sole surviving summoner from the village of Mist, on the run from the forces of Baron after Cecil was tricked into destroying her village.
- Darkstalkers has Donovan Baine, a reluctant Dhampyr who hunts other monsters, and Anita, an Emotionless Girl with psychic powers.
- The Bioshock games have this in the form of the Big Daddies and the Little Sisters.
- Gungrave has Beyond the Grave, the series' undead silent protagonist, and Mika Asagi, a young girl who sought his aid after the death of her parents.
- The adaptation of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games has escaped convict and Badass Bookworm Lee as the badass, and the orphaned Clementine as the child. They meet when he tries to find help in her house, and she gives him a weapon to use against her zombified babysitter.
- Dead Rising 2 has Chuck Greene and his daughter Katey, a Zombie Infectee that needs a dose of Zombrex every 24 hours.
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves has policeman Kevin Rian, wo is always accompanied by his dead partner's son, Marky.
- The Blind Weaponmaster Kenshi Takahashi and a boy (his son) named Takeda get a scene like this in the Mortal Kombat X comics. As they run away from the Red Dragons and especially Hsu Hao, Kenshi carries little Takeda on his back and Takeda tells him where any attacks come from so he can dodge them.
- The God of War game of 2018 has Kratos travelling through the world of Norse Mythology with his young son Atreus.
- In Fire Emblem: Heroes, Hector's Halloween alter is a Duo unit where an Older and Wiser version of his is joined by the younger version of his canon daughter Lilina.
- Chirault has Kiran, a demon and a Hunter of His Own Kind, paired with Teeko, a young Catgirl. In this case, Teeko had been doing fine on her own even though she was orphaned, until a stray magic spell reduced her to a few inches in height, so Kiran has agreed for her to accompany him until they can find a mage to reverse the spell.
- Unsounded's Sette and Duane, though Sette is hardly innocent.
- Bob's Burgers features Bob and Louise's favorite movie series, which stars a badass ninja and his young, equally badass daughter. The episode's plot revolves around trying to reunite their actors, a real father and daughter who stopped talking to each other when the latter quit movies and became an accountant.
- There seems to be this relationship with the band and the little girl in My Chemical Romance's latest music videos, although she seems to be pretty Badass herself.
- In Team Starkid's musical Starship, Up and Taz fit this Trope. We're given a list of times when Up has saved her (that was tough!), and at one point he goes so far as to let the giant mosquitos that were sucking her dry drink his blood instead. In case there was any doubt of his badassness, he kills the mosquitos by making his heart beat so fast that they explode from the extra pressure.
- Which considering he is an expy of the trope page image (cough Solid Snake), isn't too surprising.
- The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park, Berlin has a statue that might have this trope written on it: a 12-m tall soldier with a huge sword in hand holding a child on his other hand. According to the Soviet Marshal Vasily Chuikov, the statue commemorates the deeds of Sergeant Nikolai Masalov, who during the final storm on the center of Berlin risked his life under heavy German machine-gun fire to rescue a three year old German girl.