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Of course he can win! Who the hell do you think he is?!

"Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)"

Sometimes, The Hero is described as fearless.

This, however, is invoked far more often than it is presented straight. More often, fear is presented as the wise and prudent reaction to danger (courage is the ability to act despite your fear), making the fearless person — if he exists — a fool. Sometimes, Fear Is the Appropriate Response. It is the mark of a Naive Newcomer to think that his fear means he's a Dirty Coward; a character who cannot seem to learn it, no matter how bravely he acts or the greatness of the dangers he has faced, is the Cowardly Lion. In these situations, the Fearless Fool is either protected by dumb luck or Too Dumb to Live.

Assuming, of course, situations of real danger (or needles — you can always be afraid of needles). Only a Dirty Coward would gibber in terror at some trifling or distant danger.

Frequently the Aesop of Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb.

It can also be used by the character treating the injuries in the After-Action Patchup — to berate the hero for his stupidity in getting into trouble in the first place.

Examples of Fearless Fool include:

Anime and Manga

  • Pictured above: KAMINA. Ultimately subverted - Kamina was always just as frightened as anyone else when thrust into dangerous situations. But he knew that everyone else was relying on him to be the front of courage and recklessness, especially his beloved adoptive brother Simon, and so he played the part faithfully to the very end.
  • In Sengoku Basara's anime adaptation, this trope is invoked when Takeda Shingen lectures his Hot-Blooded servant Yukimura on how the absence of fear does not mean courage... By punching him into a wall repeatedly.
  • In Naruto, main character Uzumaki Naruto fits this to a tee, with one noticeable (read: glaring) example when against the Demon Brothers. Before and after that, he pretty much leaps into danger with a smile, ready to punch or (as necessary) headbutt his enemies without fear of his own safety. He matures somewhat post-Time Skip though. Who could have predicted that ninjas would leap out of hiding and attack you?! It seems so un-ninja-like!
  • One Piece: The hero Monkey D. Luffy is pretty much the embodiment of this trope. He charges headlong into dangers great or small without once thinking of his own wellbeing. This includes leading a small army in a siege against the World Government stronghold Enies Lobby, punching out a World Noble, who are treated as walking Gods, engaged in a battle in the Alcatraz known as Impel Down, headed to the Marine Headquarters with a large group of dangerous convicts to fight the entire Navy!

    One of the only things Luffy is shown to be scared of is his own grandfather Marine Vice-Admiral Garp, due to the fact that he was raised by him in near-constant Training From Hell and Punches of Love.
  • Claire Stanfield from Baccano not only knows no fear (apart from the fear of Claire he puts in others), he has managed to convince himself that he's immortal (despite being one of the few characters that aren't) simply because he can't imagine what it'd be like to be dead.
  • Saint Seiya: The hero Pegasus Seiya has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever, often veers into Too Dumb to Live territory and will happily sacrifice his life on multiple occasions for his friends/goddess. When asked how he manages to keep on living, he most often admits that he doesn't know. To near everyone's knowledge, he's never been visibly afraid of anyone-not enough to say so, anyway.
  • Yuuri Shibuya of Kyo Kara Maoh.
  • Taichi Yagami gets shades of this after being told that everything in the Digital World is made of computer data, including him. When it finally gets drilled into his head that if he dies here he still dies for real, he goes to the opposite extreme and become petrified with fear for some time.
  • Black Star from Soul Eater.
  • While Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in The Shell Stand Alone Complex doesn't do this in the way ascribed to most shonen heroes, she is still equally guilty of it. As the episodes go on it becomes more and more clear that she does things even her hardened comrades consider incredibly reckless, and one loses count of the number of times she nearly gets herself killed over the course of the series. It's almost a running joke that Batou will specifically tell her to "not do anything stupid" and she'll do it anyway.
  • Saliphie from Niehime to Kemono no Ou talks back to the King's courtiers when they point out how thin she is, pokes the King's soft paws, refuses to plead for her life even when she's told to, tells the King to his face that she doesn't mind being eaten by him... The King himself is baffled yet impressed by the girl's absolute lack of fear, and rather than having her as a Virgin Sacrifice, he marries her.

Comic Books

  • The Green Lantern Corps are supposed to be fearless. Taken literally, that means they're, well, dangerously insane. Of course it's understood that "fearless" is an emphatic way of saying "courageous". The Green Lanterns are not, in fact, "The Men [and Women and Nonsexual Aliens] Without Fear"; rather they have the ability to overcome great fear, and in that ability find the power to wield the Green Lantern Ring.
    • Sometimes the description has been taken more literally than other times; one currently-ignored story had it that rings removed all fear from new Green Lanterns. Canonically, the rings now state that the owner can "overcome great fear".
      • However there is one Lantern that's insane, to the shock of his partner (who just thought he was a Cloudcuckoolander).
    • Depending on the Writer .... there was a Green Lantern/Flash story by Mark Waid, which made much of the fact that Hal Jordan had never experienced fear, until he thought Barry's life was in danger because of him.
    • Guy Gardner in his early appearances was usually described as being too stupid to realize he's in danger.
      • Actually, in Guy's earliest (Silver Age) appearances he was pretty much just a normal guy. And then he developed brain damage, which (among other things) made him a more literal example of this trope.
    • An early Tales of the Green Lantern Corps story features a search for a Green Lantern candidate on a planet full of cowards. One was eventually found--in an insane asylum.
    • It was lampshaded a few times during Kyle Rayner's stint, as he was chosen despite his fear. This paid off, when his awareness of fear left him able to fight off Parallax's influence. Even The Sandman noted this, telling Kyle it would help him surpass the other Lanterns.
  • Similarly, Daredevil is called The Man Without Fear, though this may be because of his name. In truth, he doesn't seem to have many fears, as befits a blind man who goes out superheroing...but usually, those few he has are found and exploited by anyone who can manage to become the Big Bad of an arc.
  • In Asterix the Gaul comics, the Vikings literally don't know the meaning of fear, even as children. The Gauls teach them, by making their awful bard Cacofonix play the bagpipes at them.
    • They came to Gaul to learn fear because they heard "Fear gives you wings", and took it litterally.

Fairy Tales


  • Grizzly Man chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast Tim Treadwell.
  • Young Simba in The Lion King gets a speech to this effect when he goes into the elephant graveyard to prove how fearless he is only to be accosted and nearly eaten by hyenas. Darth V... — I mean, Mufasa explains that being brave doesn't mean he doesn't have fears, only that he overcomes them, and this becomes a running theme for the film.
  • This is Parker's fatal flaw in Alien. He decides to charge at the Xenomorph with a club, even though the Xenomorph is much stronger than a human. He DID attempt to scare the Xenomorph away with a flamethrower first (but wasn't able to do because Lambert was too close to the alien), but it was still a very foolish thing to do.


  • Done unintentionally in most James Byron Huggins novels. Even though most of his protagonists are Badass Normals, when your opponents are ancient Egyptian undead sorcerors, giant shape-shifting Nephilim, prehistoric Hulks, a genetically-engineered dragon, and Satan himself, for them fear is never the appropriate response, and every time, they win against these threats, but the first two acts they don't react with fear.
  • In The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, Jim repeatedly expresses confidence that the military authorities will be fooled by his latest trick, despite the fact that the MP's have already displayed detective work that would be a credit to Sherlock Holmes.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Cain's Last Stand, Ciaphas Cain tells the cadets that he is afraid, in order to urge prudence on them. But when he describes himself as a Dirty Coward, Amberley Vail cites that a brave man is one who overcomes his fears, not one who has none, to say that Cain may not be giving himself enough credit.
    • At one point, earlier, Cain's aide Jurgen offers to come on a mission. Cain is not sure whether this is courage or being too stupid to realize the danger. Amberley Vail, having seen much of Jurgen over the years, isn't sure either.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40000 novel Brothers Of The Snake, when a young Marine tries a forbidden challenge, and an older one comes after to ensure that he lives, the younger one says he must think him a fool, and the older one, that courage and folly are not always easily divided.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40000 novel Space Wolf, Ragnar is unable to tell whether the nightgangers attacking them are that brave or that mindless.
    • In Grey Hunters, when one Marine speaks of a heroic death, he is rebuked for not knowing the difference between heroic and stupid.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy In Flames, Tarvitz explicitly thinks that while it is said that Space Marines know no fear, the truth is that they are trained to master it, not to not feel it.
  • Fearless by Francine Pascal is about a teenage girl unable to comprehend fear.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, Granny tells the Nac Mac Feegle that they need The Hero to go to the underworld, because they themselves would not be afraid of doing it, and The Hero needs to be — so she sends them after the Baron's son Roland, who would be afraid.
    • Other characters are shown to be almost fearless as well, Cohen and his 'horde' namely, but also Ridcully, Vetinari, and a few others.
    • In Unseen Academicals, Dave Likely, at least in Trev's eyes. Nutt points out that he was only human, and furthermore people who did foolish things that could kill them have been important to humanity.
    • In Night Watch, Vimes describes Lord Rust this way. "He thought idiot stubbornness was bravery."
  • In CS Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Lucy agrees to go into a magician's tower for invisible beings who are threatening to massacre them, and the boys can't dissuade her, the boys appeal to Reepicheep, confident that he will tell her not to do it in order to save them. Reepicheep, however, does not play the Fearless Fool: he observes they have no hope of saving her, and that she is not being asked to do anything dishonorable, so he will not speak against it. The boys are rather embarrassed.
  • In Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, Chronicler tells Kvothe that they say he's fearless. Kvothe disclaims: only priests and fools are fearless, and he's not been on good terms with God.
  • The ogres of Xanth are famous for being too stupid to fear anything. But this is played with--it combines with their great strength to ensure that every living creature smarter than them (and that's everyone, including a number of plants) fears them. Even dragons know they can't match the sheer power-to-weight ratio of an ogre and that an ogre wouldn't be afraid of coming after them, and avoid picking fights.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Blood Rites, Trish/Trixie is not afraid of getting blacklisted because she's so dumb she really think she's indispensible.
    • In Death Masks, several warnings get thrown about, about confusing courage with stupidity.
    • In Blood Rites, when he is rescuing the puppies, one rears up in the box to bark at their former captors. Harry describes it as either more brave or more stupid.
      • Said puppy eventually becomes Mouse. This troper is fairly certain he would have won the fight.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, after an attack that drove many Blood Angels into the black rage — Unstoppable Rage — that resulted into their horrible deaths, Arkio accuses veteran Blood Angels of being afraid. They counter that they had all seen those deaths and are horrified and, yes, afraid. Sachiel claims that dying for the Emperor ought to negate that, but Arkio concedes that they would not be human if they did not feel as they did — and weeps Manly Tears over the deaths — before urging them to fight anew.
  • Jason in Tom Holt's Ye Gods!

 Being a Hero, he didn't know the meaning of fear, just as the average person doesn't know the meaning of the word fourmart* .

* polecat

    • Later, this is invoked several times with the observation that what he felt couldn't really, therefore, be fear.
  • The entire Kender race from Dragonlance.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40000 Gaunts Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Kolding plays possum when Maggs goes berserk and attacks him. Gaunt says this was wise; Kolding says it was not very courageous. He had survived a Blood Pact attack by the same method as a child — the sole survivor.
  • The second-in-command in Moby Dick tells the crew a fearless man has no business being on a whale hunt.
  • In City of Ash, Jace gets a Fearless rune put on him by Clary. After a few minutes of fighting The Legions of Hell, he notes that the rune might be a little bit of too much of a good thing. In particular, he notes how blase he was becoming in regards to injuries.
  • In The Pillars of the Earth King Stephan went into Battle and was Fearless but because of that, he didn't retreat when necessary and was captured.
  • In Harry Potter, Gryffindors have a tendency to be this.
  • Marvin Russell in Tom Clancy's The Sum Of All Fears. At first, the terrorists using him as a useful fool are impressed by his fearlessness, but they quickly realize that they are dealing with a crazy person. (Doesn't stop them from still using him as their fool, though.)
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe, they send off Saro to deliver the tray of food to the prince in his half-ruined and haunted towers, on the grounds she wouldn't understand it enough to be afraid.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle-Master of Hed, Morgan had in the Backstory won a riddle game where hundreds of others had lost their lives. He came home with his reward (a crown) and stuck it under the bed because he wasn't sure that he wasn't a complete idiot.
  • Michael is this in the first book of the Knight and Rogue Series. Any point in later books where he chooses to flee rather than fight includes a line about Fisk having finally gotten it through his skull that in some situations it's a much better idea to run.
  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Billy Toyodo is unafraid of death because he thinks life is just a computer simulation and he'll just get another run through. The captain feels ashamed to ask him to volunteer for something dangerous because of it. (Still does, though.)
  • Used as the twist in Rowan of Rin. John is beaten by the mountain not because he was afraid, but because he wasn't and should have been. Exhausted and slowly freezing he realises that Sheba was right, only fools do not fear, and admits this to Rohan.
  • In AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh, when Pooh has made a hum about Piglet, Piglet feels honor-bound to point out it's not quite true, he was frightened, and Pooh tells him that it's the best kind of courage.
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, when asking of Jane Geary why she changed, Geary explains to her that he was afraid, and her brother was afraid, while making their heroic stands.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the Brute is the only one not afraid, he's too stupid.

Live Action TV

  • An early episode of Star Trek the Next Generation explicitly references the trope, even though it doesn't show an example of the character in that episode. Wesley is worrying about the final test for his Starfleet Academy entrance exam: a psychological test designed specifically to stoke their fears and test how they face them. Worf helps him, much to Wesley's surprise--he saw Worf as the bravest man on Enterprise, and thought that meant he had no fear. Worf's response seems to echo the trope name quote: "Only fools have no fear." He then explains that even Klingons, known as a "fearless" warrior race, know fear, but only those who overcome it ever go on to greatness.
  • In Red Dwarf, Lister has his fear removed by the polymorph beast that feeds on emotions. He wants to charge in recklessly at the beast and volunteers to be the bait, so the others can kill it "while it's eating me to death".
  • Alan Davies on QI, whose job is to leap in with the obvious answers where a wiser panelist might hesitate. Has been working in his favor lately, as the panelists have started to assume the obvious answer will be incorrect and go to great lengths to avoid giving it — when it was correct all along, giving Alan easy points.
  • Arguably, Mulder of The X-Files. He tends to rush into dangerous situations without thinking, leading to several instances in which Scully has to come save his butt.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "Planet of the Daleks", the Doctor explains to a Thal, a fellow captive, that his heroic action of leading off the enemy was heroic despite his fear, and that everyone else who does heroic things is the same.


  • Wagner's Siegfried. Wagner explicitly described him as The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was (the name of an old fairy-tale).
    • And it's what kills him in the end...

Professional Wrestling

  • It is quite common that a good guy, or "babyface" is said to have "more guts than brains" (as Jim Ross would say), because they continue to fight back despite being beaten down time and again, refuse to submit to submission moves, have no problems with accepting a 3-on-1 challenge, etc.
  • The "Rate Tank" Kellie Skater (weighing in at 68 kilograms of pure adamantium) of SHIMMER is a heel version - she blithely walks up to every Badass woman on the roster, registering no fear whatsoever as she disrespects them and challenges them to matches. Every single time, she gets obliterated - but at no point does Kellie ever catch on that she's being destroyed. She keeps on taunting her opponent and bringing the fight even if she's getting smashed against the barricades, tied into a pretzel, or back-fisted in the face.

Tabletop Games

  • The Imperium of Man as a whole in Warhammer 40000 can be seen as this. However, humanity is not just a Fearless Fool, but an extremely well-armed fool, too.
    • The Orks too, arguably. Although the only reason for their lack of fear is they were the only race not affected by the Nightbringer, they definitely appear Fearless Fools to the rest of the galaxy.
    • One Genre Savvy (Insane even by Ork standards, but still Genre Savvy) ork boss knows that Orks aren't afraid to die. So, when da boyz piss him off he tears their arms off instead. THAT intimidates them.
    • "And they shall know no fear" — except that that would indeed make Space Marines fools. So often enough in the fluff, a character will admit that they do know fear, they just don't let it rule them.
      • The rule "And They Shall Know No Fear" ups the odds that the Space Marines will rally after falling back from combat. With their latest codex, it combines with "Combat Tactics" to let them escape fights they can't win. Fear is just their way of knowing when they need to change tactics.
    • By contrast, there's a universal special rule called Fearless; it often causes extra casualties when a player loses a close combat.
      • Khorne Berserkers even undergo lobotomies to remove their frontal lobes, completely removing their ability to feel fear. Of course, in game terms, the above rule applies.
    • Dawn of War gives these two quotes:

 Foolish are those who fear nothing, yet claim to know everything.

Brave are they who know everything yet fear nothing.

    • The Tyranids are similar-while they aren't capable of feeling fear, they can and do retreat if the Zerg Rush tactic doesn't seem to be working. In fact, it might be said that "fearless" in most 40K terms is not synonymous with "lacking common sense".
      • The vast majority of 'nids probably do fall into this trope, but only in the sense that without their psychic synapse creatures to guide they are little more intelligent that dogs.
  • Scion has Virtues that divine beings possess. Two of these are Courage and Valor. The higher your score, the more power you can draw from them... and the harder it is to resist them. If you want to act against them, you either need to fail a Virtue roll or spend Willpower. (So if you're half-dead and someone is attacked by Titanspawn, you roll Valor - and if you succeed, you have to save them even though you'll probably die trying.) This also comes with the Virtue Extremity - if you somehow manage to keep avoiding your higher Virtues, you will eventually snap and pursue them without any thought towards your own wellbeing.
    • This likewise shows up Exalted, where a character needs to fail a Valor roll or else spend Willpower to avoid doing something foolhardy. And if they do spend Willpower, then they'll accrue Limit, and when it finally tops off, something stupid and horrifying will happen.
  • One demonic, gluttonous race called the Gordians (imagine a cross between an ogre and a dwarf that has been fed on a steady diet of lard) in Palladium's Land of the Damned One: Chaos Lands are described as having eggshell thin egos and going to insane lengths to prove themselves worthy ("You call Throka coward? Watch, Throka kill Dragon!").

Video Games

  • Might & Magic VIII, with the artifact Berserker Belt. It raises the Might stat to obscene levels and grants immunity to fear... at the considerable expense of both Accuracy and Armor Class. The trope is mentioned in the flavor text, describing the belt as a failed attempt to create an ultimate warrior.
  • Orcs Must Die: The player character. Throughout the levels, he constantly shows no fear and continues to taunt the invading Orcs, despite the fact that the world appears doomed as there are not enough Warmages to stop the Orcs.

  Old Warmage: "Now she's bound the numberless horde to her will and returns to teach the Order harsh lessons in humility and subservience. But she's in for a surprise; I'm reasonably sure my apprentice is unteachable"

  • In Medieval II: Total War this is brought up in a generals speech, where he describes anyone who is genuinely not afraid before a battle as a "moon-struck fool."
  • Touhou Project has these in spades. Partially justified with the Spellcard rules making official fights nonlethal, but you would think that, given that fighting is still painful, to the point where even true immortals just give up rather than keep getting hurt, some fairies would learn not to die in relentless Redshirt Army wave attacks at heroines who are functionally impossible for a basic nameless fairy to kill, no matter the odds, especially since some don't even have offensive powers, and essentially can only harm a heroine by simply standing there as the heroine blindly collides with her. As a justification for the fearlessness, (if not the aggression in the first place,) fairies have lives tied to nature, and as long as nature exists, they will regenerate From a Single Cell.
    • Cirno deserves special mention. In spite of being a fairly weak character (normally), she proudly boasts about how she's "The Strongest" (of the fairies, which isn't saying much, as most fairies are weaker than unpowered ordinary humans), and trying to prove it by repeatedly challenging beings far more powerful than herself, even though those characters have already easily curb-stomped her in the past. Apparently, The Fog of Ages is on extra strength for Cirno, and she can't remember the numerous humiliating defeats she seems to suffer on a regular basis.
  • Setsuna from Fire Emblem Fates is The Ditz, but a ditz who fears absolutely nothing. It works well for her, since she's also a skilled archer and Lady of War in training so she doesn't back off from battle at all and snipes the enemy perfectly without ever being intimidated by their numbers or their might.
  • Ling Xiaoyu from Tekken 3 strong-arms her way into the plot via sneaking into a very feared Corrupt Corporate Executive's yatch, beating up his bodyguards, going up to him, and demanding that he fulfills her dream to build her her own amusement park. The old man's amused by the girl's spunk and tells her that he'll do it if she wins his King of Iron Fist Tournament, plus he enrolls the girl in his own school and trains her AND her pet panda in martial arts. (As a bonus, she befriends the man's Troubled but Cute grandson and falls for him)

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Rob from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes seems to go out of his way to pick fights with Creturians who invade his city.

Western Animation

  • The Penguins of Madagascar have Mort, the butt-monkey of the show who doesn't feel pain because, according to Kowalski, he's simply not aware that he's in danger.
  • Used in an episode of The New Batman Adventures: The Scarecrow creates a toxin that removes Batman's fears and inhibitions, making him much more reckless than usual--and it doesn't stop there. The writers are savvy enough to even make him more heartless, as he doesn't fear what his own reaction will be if, say, Robin gets killed or if he breaks his one rule and murders a criminal. Scarecrow is making a point that fear is necessary, not just useful, and then in his usual mad fashion extends that to mean that he is necessary to have around.
  • Hank Venture from The Venture Brothers as opposed to his Cowardly Lion brother Dean. He idolized his bodyguard Brock Samson and tries to emulate him whenever he can. Unfortunately for him, Brock is an ultra-violent Badass and Sociopathic Hero, leading Hank to make foolishly suicidal choices.
  • Danny Phantom: Jack Fenton to a tee. He has a very bad habit of rushing off into battle whenever a ghost appears. Unfortunately he's only semi-competent when it comes to fighting, being he's the Bumbling Dad and all. He's often saved either through his superpowered son or just plain luck. Though once in a blue moon, he will show above-average skills.
  • The Tick: The Tick himself is Nigh Invulnerable and completely insane. This means that no amount of danger can stop him from serving the evildoers a hot justice sandwich (no toppings necessary!)
  • Scooby Doo: When faced with a monster Scrappy Doo always says "Let me at em!" and punches the air, while Shaggy and Scooby grab him and run.
  • Kim Possible: Averted with Ron Stoppable. He's still a fool, but one whose foolish exterior belies a more badass nature. It could be argued that this makes him more of a hero than the titular Kim, who really doesn't seem to fear anything (except bugs). The creators certainly seemed to think so, as by the end of the series it was pretty much all about him. It should be noted, however, that even when approached from this perspective, Kim also averts this trope, being both unrealistically brave and smart. The only reason she isn't normally called out as a Mary Sue is because Ron is the creators' favorite.
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold: Paco lampshades this as applied to the Green Lanterns, saying that "a man without fear has a serious mental condition."
  • An episode of Earthworm Jim where Jim ends up in a world similar to The Wizard of Oz, where all his friends and enemies play the roles of the characters, has the Hamsternator playing the role of the Cowardly Lion... However instead of always being afraid, he never feels any fear whatsoever, leading him to do outlandish, dangerous things that almost always end with him getting injured. This includes running out in front of an (offscreen) big truck.