• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
File:Tvt-bruisersoftcenter 8042.jpg

The Incredible Hulk may smash and communicate in Hulk Speak but he is good with children and animals.


'My beloved monster is tough

If she wants she will destroy you

But if you lay her down for a kiss

Her little heart it could explode'
Eels, "My Beloved Monster"

The big, burly, super macho guy who is nothing but a stack of muscles is pretty much a brick, right? Not so much. True love or a sweet, touching moment reveals what a big softy he really is under all that hard muscle. Hands that can smash through walls effortlessly now rise to hide the Tender Tears, or remain stoically at his sides as he weeps Manly Tears.

Thugs will limp away nursing cuts and bruises from his mighty fists. Children and small cuddly animals will simply treat his great ham hands like cozy furniture to snuggle up in. Enemies will flee from his mighty roar or battle cry. But he will sit still and quiet if a kitten curls up on his chest purring, and he'll let her stay as long as she pleases.

Some of the bruisers have no embarrassment at having a soft center, but others will instantly try to cover it up; or matter-of-factly inform their companions that "if you tell anyone this happened, I'll deny it"; still others will ensure the silence of those who witnessed their soft heart showing with threats.

While this trope tends to trend mostly male, females are not exempt from being bruisers with soft centers.

This is a trope with a lot of neighbours: Compare with Gentle Giant, Genius Bruiser, Real Men Wear Pink, Morality Pet, and Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Even a Papa Wolf can turn soft when he's around his children. Super-Trope of Emotional Bruiser .

Examples of Bruiser with a Soft Center include:

Anime and Manga

  • Kuwabara from Yu Yu Hakusho is willing to do anything for Eiikichi... his kitten.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star is not afraid to hug children and shed Manly Tears (or even Tender Tears) from time to time.
    • This actually becomes a plot point near the end of the main story, as Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique, Musou Tensei, can only be used by those who know sadness, which in the story is tied to love.
      • Raou attempted to take a shortcut on that—thus letting him stay a "Bruiser with a Hard Center"—by killing the woman that Kenshirou loved, intending for the act to impart knowledge of sadness and love onto him. Thank gosh he was interrupted by her coughing.
      • Finding out that Yuria is dying BECAME the shortcut.
    • Though not explicitly stated, this was pretty much why Yuria loved Kenshirou over Shin and Raou in the first place.
  • Buccaneer of Fullmetal Alchemist is a tall and burly guy with a chainsaw arm, but in one notable scene from the manga/Brotherhood anime, gets Cuteness Proximity when Winry starts squeeing over his automail and acts gently toward her. Then he punches Ed out of jealousy.
  • Yasutora "Chad" Sado from Bleach. The Big Guy from Ichigo's Five-Man Band, with fearsome Super Strength (and a penchant for lying in a pool of his blood). A sweet Gentle Giant who loves cute things and wouldn't hurt a fly if he can help it.
  • Trowa Barton from Gundam Wing is a Genius Bruiser, excellent acrobat and master spy, as well as a thoughtful Sugar and Ice Personality and one lube away from being Yaoi Guys with Quatre Raberba Winner.
  • Heiwajima Shizuo in Durarara is universally accepted as the strongest man in Ikebukuro, described at one point as "violence in human form," but he's actually a quiet sort who dislikes violence and hates his own hair-trigger temper, and doesn't want to hurt anyone (except for Izaya).
  • Edward Newgate, aka Whitebeard from One Piece. An absolutely enormous man of incredible power and impossible toughness. When he is stabbed by a turncoat subordinate, he looks for a moment like he's about to reach out with his massive hands and rip the man apart. Instead, he kneels down and gives a tender hug to the much smaller man, and gives a tearful hug, forgiving him for his foolishness.
  • Gian from Doraemon, pretty much in its movies
  • Sha Gojyo from Saiyuki. Foul-mouthed, skirt-chasing, iron-pumping bundle of muscle and bravado who is an absolute pushover for lost kittens, frightened kids having been an abused child himself , and women with hard-luck stories. It's stated that women in tears remind him of his stepmother, but beyond that, he's just a kind-hearted guy.
  • Uozumi Jun from Slam Dunk. He may be a hot-blooded trash talker on the court, but he breaks into tears when he realizes he can't play basketball with his team anymore.
  • Pokémon: Dawn's Mamoswine in the "Diamond and Pearl" anime series is all about this once he reaches his final stage. He acts all gruff, ignores his trainer for a while, and becomes The Berserker when angered (or when Dawn denies him/is short on poffins). Yet he's definitely caring and protective towards his trainer and friends (especially after mellowing out), becomes putty whenever food is in question, and steadily shows fascination with Contests. Yet true to being of the emotionally repressed variety, he tries (initially) to deny all this.
  • Moss from Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. Despite being the heaviest and most powerful dog in his pack, he's a Gentle Giant when it came to puppies.
  • Sentaro of Sakamichi no Apollon At first he may come off as a high schooler that likes to beat up bullies. It's so that he can protect those that're dear to him.

Comic Books

  • The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing of Fantastic Four fame is very gentle and delicate with his love, Alicia.
    • The Thing is also like this to practically every kid that thinks he's the coolest hero.
      • Especially with kids who think he's cooler than the Human Torch.
    • The Thing also has a special place in the Marvel superhero community as possibly the most widely befriended hero ever, much like Superman or Nightwing from DC.
  • We have Marv, from Sin City, whose entire story gets kicked off when a hooker showed him some love and kindness and gets murdered, causing him to go on a quest of revenge. This man can snap you in half with his bare hands.
  • Archie Comics: Moose, with Midge.
  • Massive Colossus from X-Men is a sensitive artist.
    • Beast frequently quotes poetry and literature, and is a very kind and warm man.
    • Arguably, even Wolverine displays this trait at times, especially around his surrogate daughters Kitty Pryde and Jubilee.
  • The Incredible Hulk has been known to cuddle kittens and bunnies, and as seen in the page image, is also good with other animals and children, Depending on the Writer.
  • Lampshaded by Huntress in the 2010 Birds of Prey comic. "Just don't expect the marshmallow center."
  • Superman. Possibly the most sensitive and emotive mainstream hero out there, despite being the definitive brick. This is often contrasted with the more Proud Warrior Race Guy personality of Wonder Woman, the only other Justice League member who is as strong as he is.
  • Strong Guy of X-Factor - in a session with Doc Samson he reveals that his wit and banter are how he copes with tremendous, constant pain, both emotional and physical.


  • Vlad the brawny vulture from Horton Hears a Who is tough and evil. It's not true love in his case that brings on the tears; it's being touched by Horton's noble defense of the Whos and his forgiveness of the Sour Kangaroo.
  • Big blue scaremaster Sully of Monsters, Inc. has a soft spot for Boo, falling in love with her when most of his kind have been taught to regard small children with terror.
    • Arguably, it's the point of the titular company's tagline: "We scare because we care". They don't have anything against the kids,[1] they're only scaring because they need to power their homes.
  • Robert "Bob" Parr aka Mr. Incredible is tough as nails against anything Syndrome can throw at him except the possibility of losing his family. The mere thought reduces him to being barely able to speak.
  • Sonny from The Godfather, despite being known for his explosive temper, is a loving if unfaithful husband and father who cares about his family and friends deeply.
  • Godzilla. Big, powerful, city-destroying monster and a loving and very protective father. In fact, it's the death of his son that causes the normally tough-as-nails Godzilla to mourn in grief.
  • And, of course, there's the "Friend To All Children" himself, Gamera.
  • Hellboy: a massive red demon with a huge stone hand prophecised to bring armageddon... a big softie who absolutely loves kittens and will fight monsters to protect them.
  • Tron is a very sweet guy, despite being the biggest Badass in Cyberspace. He is visibly shaken and upset when he thinks that Flynn and Ram were killed, and hangs his head sadly when informed He Didn't Make It. With an urgent call from Alan at stake, what does he do? He goes to find and free Yori (and if you factor in that Deleted Scene, have a "private" moment back at her home). In the sequel? Twenty years of brainwashing is overridden with The Power of Friendship. And his Kingdom Hearts version celebrated the team's victory with hugs all around.


  • Lenny from Of Mice and Men is an inversion. Mostly soft spot and a bruiser who doesn't know his own strength to the point he kills the animals he cherishes.
  • Bruce from the CHERUB Series; although he seems to be a hardcore martial arts fan with a thing for blood and gore, he still goes to bed with his little blue teddy.
  • Great, lumbering Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter is more soft spot than bruiser unless you make him mad, in which case the ratio switches over.
  • In Oz, no one fits this like Nick "the Tin Man" Chopper. He was cursed to become tin because he was determined to earn enough money to support his fiancee and get her away from the Wicked Witch. He rusted himself crying over crushing an innocent insect. Threaten harm to an innocent or to one of his True Companions? The axe comes out, and he becomes the scariest fighter in the land.

Live Action TV

  • John Casey from Chuck. We've had Flash Backs with some of his past.
  • D'Argo from Farscape. He generally has two moods, angry and weepy.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer immediately establishes himself as this. He comes crashing into town with a bad reputation and a badass flair, shows up at the lair of the Annointed One offering to kill the Slayer... then looks on with concern and goes to wait on his Ill Girl girlfriend when she tries to come in with him.
  • Coach Shannon Beiste from Glee is a rare female example.
  • Dean Winchester from Supernatural. He may swear like a sailor, go hard on the liquor and sex, and be able to take on monsters and psychos with little problem, but he's got a soft spot for kids, his family, and Castiel.
  • Like his tin counterpart, Wyatt Cain from Tin Man crosses this with Heartbroken Badass. The man is a scary-good fighter both in hand to hand and with his pistol, but his cold facade breaks down in a hurry when asked to do the honorable thing, or when he senses someone needs protection. At the end, he is almost on the verge of tears warning DG that she will have to face her sister alone.

Newspaper Comics

  • Seth from 9ChickweedLane is a ballet dancer who looks like a linebacker but is a low key gay man and a hopeless romantic who went to some effort to get Edda and Amos together.

Video Games

  • Sig from Jak and Daxter, at the end of Jak II, reminiscing about his childhood:
    • "Poopsy bear? Buddy, you just ruined your image."
  • According to the character backgrounds Brick from Borderlands motivation is to find his missing sister.
  • In The World Ends With You, Beat is Dumb Muscle with a soft spot for his sister Rhyme.
  • In Dragon Age, Lelianna often comments that Sten is a 'softy' as she finds him picking flowers (which he excuses as 'medicinal') and playing with a kitten (he claims he was training it), although this is never seen by the player. He also comments about how great cookies are.
    • BioWare has a long and lovely tradition of these guys. Just check out Minsc. BIG guy, scary in a battle situation...turns into absolute mush when it comes to his beloved hamster. There's also Zaalbar. Two meters and change of walking fur and empty stomach that's a surprisingly sweet guy, and right behind his little Twi'lek buddy when it comes to sticking up for you after The Reveal. Shame on you Dark Side players!
    • Aveline takes this role in Dragon Age II. She's the toughest guard captain Kirkwall has ever seen, but has a tendency to melt when Donnic is in the same room.
    • Wrex in the Mass Effect series is mostly angry and bitingly sarcastic, but he does have the occasional emotional moment (the end of his personal quest in the first game and his reunion with Shepard in the second, especially).
      • Wrex meeting Shepard in the second game is something like The Eeyore going Squee.


    • Jack in Mass Effect 2 is a prime example. If she makes it to the third game, she starts teaching a squad of biotic students at Grissom Academy. Then Cerberus tries to kidnap them. Big mistake.
    • Heck, Renegade!Shepard him/herself has got a few softer moments.
  • Potemkin from Guilty Gear looks very nasty and intimidating, but likes drawing and tries to avoid pointless fighting.
  • Foul-mouthed, unapproachable tough guy Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3 turns out to have a well-hidden soft center, hinted at in the main game but put on full display in the female protagonist's route in the portable version of the game.
  • Mildly demented Double H comes across as strictly military most of the time, always quoting his training manual...right up to the point where he starts repurposing those trite quotes into ways of saying, "Dude, I'm here for you. No matter what."
  • Snow Villiers from Final Fantasy 13 . He's big, muscly and punches monsters twice his size square in the face! He also has a little girlfriend that he dotes on and can takes pucnes just as well as he can give them.

Web Comics

  • Rayne from Least I Could Do is an inversion. He was a scrawny teenager who got his heart broken, and is now a big brawny man-slut who doesn't seem inclined to seek true love anymore.

Western Animation

  • All three of the Biker Mice From Mars fit this trope to varying degrees, but there was one time where Modo cried because the Big Bad destroyed a orphanage.
  • El Oso, enemy of El Tigre, is willing to kick the living crap out of every bear in the forest for the bear-girl he loves, but when she runs off with her true love, he breaks down sobbing.
  • Jorgen Von Strangle, bully fairy supreme of The Fairly Oddparents, is madly in love with the gorgeous Tooth Fairy. When she dumps him for being a bully, he is completely devastated.
  • Spike the bulldog from Tom and Jerry with his pup, Tyke.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Hippo has a soft spot for Toph, who actually is a Bruiser with a Soft Center herself.
  • Goliath from Gargoyles is devastated when he believes his Angel of the Night has been murdered by humans. Though his grief runs more to Clifftop Caterwauling than displays of tears.
  • This also happens in a couple of Looney Tunes in a Chuck Jones series about a huge bulldog named Marc Antony with a tiny, cute, accident-prone kitten named Pussyfoot (a/k/a Cleopatra). That moment when he thinks she's been baked into a batch of cookies...and is then given a kitty-shaped cookie to cheer him up? Not a dry eye in the house.
  • Teen Titans: Multiple examples are sprinkled throughout the series, but the OAV Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo has these examples:
    • Cyborg gets mad when you mess with his car. Gets mad when you mess with the Tower. But wreck the sofa and he bursts into tears.
    • Scrappy little Robin grabs a spare uniform with determined expression—then folds it up into a pillow for Silkie. He pets the thing affectionately, then heads out.
  • The Tick is very much Dumb Muscle but he also has a very soft heart.
  • Sandman in The Spectacular Spider-Man shows kindness to small children. In his case, it might be Foreshadowing a Heel Face Turn as happened in the comics.
  • South Park: Cthulhu. Cartman abuses this shamelessly, and invokes the Looney Tunes example above.
  • Tohru from Jackie Chan Adventures.
  • Kevin Levin of Ben 10 Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
  • Old Soldier Panthro of Thundercats 2011 reveals his soft center when he warms up to the Ro-Bear Berbils, weeping Manly Tears when they do him a large favor by helping repair his Thundertank. When he openly hugs his new friend Ro-Bear Bill, and is witnessed by the team's Tagalong Kids, this exchange occurs:

 Wilykat: Busted!

Wilykit: Panthro's a big ol' softy!

Panthro: *Death Glare* Is that a problem?

Wilykit: *stiffens nervously* Nope.

Wilykat: It's cool.

  • Spinelli from Recess
  • Buford of Phineas and Ferb. He bursts into tears when his goldfish goes missing. He is thrilled when his bear is restored by the boys' teleportation machine, and when helping Baljeet babysit Perry, speaks to him gently and assures that they will take good care of him.

Real Life

  • Chuck Norris.
  • By all accounts, Ernest Hemingway. According to Papa Hemingway, when he was still a struggling writer in Paris, he would sit alone for hours and cry over rejection letters.
    • Considering the fragile ego of some writers (at the best of times) and the fact the man was seriously depressed, eventually killed himself and could only shut up his inner editor with lots and lots of booze...well that actually isn't that surprising.
  1. except for the Propaganda Machine teaching them that kids are virulently poisonous and you should touch as little as possible while you're in their rooms