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"That's not a knife." (pulls out massive bowie knife) "That's a knife!"
Mick "Crocodile" Dundee (to a would-be mugger), Crocodile Dundee

So Fingers McStealy is lurking in an alleyway waiting for a victim. Ah here comes someone, and that fetching hat and coat look expensive, he's smiling too, so maybe he just came into money? Ooo, he even has something shiny under his coat. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Basically this is when some random crook, and occasionally a pretty stupid one at that, has the misfortune of targeting someone much more powerful than he anticipated. When the Big Bad monster/alien assassin/robot from the future appears, the criminal acts as an Acceptable Target (specifically, an Asshole Victim) for them to begin their massacre. Alternatively The Hero is held up while going about their business. If they have a Secret Identity then it can lead to a Bruce Wayne Held Hostage scenario, but if the criminal attacked them in costume or the hero is just some Badass Walking the Earth then it typically just serves as an introduction. Bonus points if the would be victim looks particularly vulnerable.

When an assailant targets a crowd of people not knowing that Everyone Is Armed, you get this trope with strength of numbers replacing individual dangerousness.

Tends to make a good Establishing Character Moment, depending on how (and how easily) the crooks are dealt with. Occasionally this can lead to them recruiting a sidekick or other ally. Can be deeply satisfying. When the person looks vulnerable due to chronological endowment, it's Never Mess with Granny.

When a Video Game character does this, it's often due to Suicidal Overconfidence. Compare Bullying a Dragon, when the perpetrator knows full well how dangerous their victim is (but is reckless and/or stupid and/or drunk and/or desperate enough to provoke a confrontation anyway). See also Dude, Where's My Respect? when this keeps happening with no signs of anyone figuring out the pattern. Compare Colliding Criminal Conspiracies. Supertrope of Robbing the Mob Bank.

Please note: the trope need not include actual mugging (though it is a popular method). As long as the provoker or provokers intentionally and excessively antagonize someone much more powerful than they are without knowing beforehand what they are screwing with, and the provoker or provokers are thrashed because of it, then it's Mugging the Monster.

Not quite what it sounds like....

Examples of Mugging the Monster include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Hajime no Ippo it's shown during his fight with Takamura that Brian Hawk was nearly mugged in the streets of New York. Of course, it wasn't successful as Hawk proceeded to beat the mugger nearly to death with his bare hands.
  • Trigun: A bunch of slavers to try and intimidate Legato, and become increasingly angry when he keeps ignoring them, asking a waiter for a new spoon when the bandits shoot the first one out of his hand. And then he stops ignoring them...
    • There's also the episode 'Quickdraw' in which an official with few morals hold a small boy hostage to force Wolfwood to kill Vash for him, since he recognizes the hazard of going after Vash outright. Problem is Wolfwood is actually the more dangerous on an average day, and if Vash hadn't been there a lot of the guy's deputies would probably have died.
    • Also the time Vash takes on a bank robber gang without his gun, and every single person in town turns out to be armed because of a Chekhov's Gun incident mentioned earlier in the episode. They just needed his example to make a stand. (Incidentally, the baddies are using his name here.)
    • And people really ought to expect this every time they attack the infamous Vash The Stampede. That lynching scene with the truck--are you stupid? You're trying to lynch him because he blew up two cities and a chunk of the moon. What do you think is protecting you?
    • That time Vash was taken hostage by the vengeance people, nonlethal example. Possibly also the resolution of the sandsteamer thing. Vash gets underestimated a lot.
  • Ax Crazy Psycho for Hire Blood Knight Kurudo Akabane of GetBackers fame gets so much of this. People have attempted to mug and antagonize him so many times...including, occasionally, the protagonists. Considered that Akabane is considered one of the, if not the, most powerful characters in the series' universe, it usually ends pretty badly for the muggers.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: This is actually how Robert E.O. Speedwagon (stop laughing) and Johnathan Joestar meet and become friends. John is looking for the antidote to a poison in a rough part of town and is accosted by a gang of thugs led by Speedwagon. John gives them a speech telling them that no matter what, he's getting the antidote, so they best move on. As a display of resolve he takes a knife through his hand and Speedwagon declares him to be his new best friend on the spot.
    • Later on, a senator has the misfortune of having his car commandeered by Dio Brando and tries to push him around by mentioning how important he is. Dio is not impressed.
  • How many times has this happened to Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star? Every page. Every single page. Everywhere he goes, he is instantly attacked by crazy maniac Road Warrior people whose destiny is to literally explode after he strikes them. You would think word of this man would get around.
    • That would require some bad guys being left alive to spread said word. Given what usually happens to them when they mess with him... yeah.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, some street thugs try to mug Aizenji in an alley. He promptly slices them in two with his BFS, and eats them.
  • The Slayers. Lina Inverse's stock in trade. The first series and at least one of the movies (Slayers the Motion Picture) begins with bandits trying to rob Lina. Magical butt-kickings ensue. She didn't get the title "Lina the Bandit Killer" for nothing.
    • Hellmaster Phibrizzo's attack on Lina after he screws up her casting of Giga Slave certainly counts. Pressing the attack after Lina remained standing led him to the realization that he'd just attacked the Lord of Nightmares (aka God) by mistake. Cue justified panic.
      • Worse in the novel. He reveals he had a back-up plan to destroy Lina's heart. He does so. Lina no-sells it. He realizes who he just attacked.
  • Episode 2 of Full Metal Panic Fumoffu has a gang of delinquents picking a fight with main character Sagara Sousuke, a paranoid 16 year old sergeant of a top-secret UN counter-terrorist force who is undercover as a bodyguard for main heroine Chidori Kaname.

 Kyoko: You're really woried about Sousuke, aren't you.

Kaname: (Face Palm) No. I'm more worried about those guys surviving.

  • In Soul Eater, Death The Kid (the "son" of a Physical God) met the Thompson Sisters when they tried to mug him. The encounter apparently (based on flashbacks) ended badly for them, but luckily his Super OCD meant a pair of identical weapons was exactly what he was looking for and they became partners.
    • Also happens when Soul and Maka go to Italy and are harassed by some of the locals. Said locals end up in a heap. It doesn't get much better for them, since later they try more or less the same thing with the Demon Swordsperson Chrona. They end up having their souls harvested. Baaaad idea.
    • Chapter 73 reveals that Kid actually went looking for the pair known as the Demons of Brooklyn (or somesuch). A boy of around 13 goes looking for violent, criminal EquippableAllies because he liked their aesthetics. Good job he's a young god because otherwise he's hopelessly naive.
  • Late in the Chunnin Exam arc of Naruto, a group of shady types confront one of the competitors on his way to the arena floor for his fight and demand he take a dive because someone is betting on his opponent. Said competitor is Gaara. It does not end well for them.
  • Early in Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature, a motorcycle gang chases down what they take to be a woman in a trench coat. She packs quite a scratch, leaving all but Ryo wounded with no wounds herself.
  • One Piece, in the "Water 7" arc. First, a band of one-shot pirates try to take advantage of the Galley-La company, only to get thrashed by the Dock 1 shipwrights. Then, the Franky Family try to rob the Going Merry — while Zoro is watching it.
    • Then, when Franky Family actually do succeed in their mugging (in this case Usopp) they ended up triggering the Straw Hats' Berserk Button, leading to one of the most massive beatdowns of the series.
    • Shortly after Enies Lobby, Zoro (of course) gets lost while trying to make his way back to the crew to warn them about some Marines in the area. Some random dudes try to rob him. After an off-panel beatdown they're quite apologetic and more than happy to help him get back to the crew.
    • In a flashback, Ace is shown being harassed by bullies as a small child, who are talking smack about Ace's dead dad, the former pirate king. Cut to Ace sitting on a rock, being asked what happened in town, a bunch of thugs were beaten half to death!
    • During a flashback very early in the series, we see some random bandit harass Shanks... who actually more or less ignores them to avoid trouble. When they mess with Luffy, however... Turns out Shanks is one of the four pirate Emperors, and Shanks is apparently the Badass Normal of the group yet on par with a guy that can (supposedly) destroy the world with his earthquake causing devil fruit power.
    • This turns into a Crowning Moment of Awesome when Luffy and Zoro play this out when Bellamy and crew beat them up before they get word that Luffy's bounty is 100M and Zoro is 60M. Luffy returns to show them exactly how he earned a bounty that large.
    • Then, after the timeskip, Luffy gets mugged by an imposter pirate crew claiming to be the Straw Hats. He knocks them out effortlessly. Earlier the same people were harrassing Nami and Usopp when he came later. Both promptly show them why you don't mess with them.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index opens with a group of tough customers trying to harass a middle school girl. The hero intervenes and then leads the punks on a merry chase. It was then that it was revealed that he was trying to save them from being electrocuted by the girl they were harassing, who was actually one of the strongest espers in the city. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun shows their first meeting under similar circumstances.
  • In the first episode of Baccano!, Firo has his fingers cut off by a random beggar after he sees just how much money Firo is carrying around. The fingers in question instantly reattach themselves, and he asks: "Did you do this knowing that I am Firo Prochainezo of the Martillo family?" Following this, the beggar promptly has his face rearranged by his would-be victim.
    • Not to mention the two different would-be villains who, one immediately after the other, try to murder that one redheaded conductor, not realizing that he's everyone's favorite Heroic Sociopath Claire Stanfield. Bad idea. Really bad idea.
    • In the Light Novels, Ennis remembers an incident in which someone tried to mug her and wound up getting killed by her master/"father", the immortal Mad Scientist Szilard.
  • Elfen Lied: Lucy had a pretty miserable childhood due to other kids constantly bullying her because of her horns. Lucy hardened her heart and stoically put up with their abuse for a long time... until they realized they'd get more of a reaction out of her if they beat her puppy to death while she watched helplessly. What they didn't know was that Lucy had horns because she was a diclonius, a condition that also came with the ability to tear people apart with her mind. And thus, a cute little girl who could theoretically wipe out humanity in a matter of years was filled with an overwhelming hatred for people.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Some school bullies tell Tirawit to jump as it's part of the "traditional Japanese greeting," but obviously so the change in his pockets will jingle. As the head guy closes his eyes and explains, Tirawat jumps about twenty feet straight up and then crushes the coins between his fingers ("And this is a traditional Thai greeting.") and makes them his minions.
    • And any time that someone unknowingly picks a fight with one of Kenichi's masters. The foremost example is when Freya's Amazon Brigade decides that it would be a great idea to attack Shigure. Good thing Kenichi talked her out of using an actual weapon. Instead, she disarms all of her enemies with a wooden spoon. And by "disarm" we mean "sliced all their weapons into pieces and cut their clothing in places that made Kenichi bleed out from his nose" naturally.
    • Subverted hilariously by Kenichi after the end of D of D arc. Kenichi and co have returned to school after fighting their way through life-threatening battles against opponents who had the skill, ability and mentality to kill them. Kenichi is promptly approached by a group of incoming wannabe delinquent freshmen and shows the fruits of his training and experience by... averting his eyes and cowering away. Nijima and the Shinpaku alliance have to bail him out and Nijima expresses his disbelief that Kenichi can still be afraid of common thugs. Kenichi responds that he's still traumatized from all his years as a professional bullying victim.
  • In Angel Densetsu, it's a small wonder Ryoko or Ikuno still finds people bothering them. You'd guess that after beating up half the city's delinquents, the other half would smart up a bit.
  • In Monster a pair of hoodlums attack old, slightly chubby Doctor Reichwein, who promptly disarms the first and knocks the other unconscious with a headbutt. As he tells the former, while choking him out, "I used to train with the Swiss Guard!"
    • Also Japanese surgeon Dr. Tenma has the balls to walk into a bar frequented by neo-nazis and ask about the gang's boss. He wouldn't take shit from anyone.
  • "Death Glasses Takamichi" in Mahou Sensei Negima! is capable of using air pressure to simulate the force of a punch from about 15 meters away without magic. The people on campus thus have tremendous respect for his problem-solving abilities...but not visitors to the school festival. They are all flattened in seconds when they refuse to stop trying to pick a fight.

 "You're rushing at me? You must not go to this school."

    • Random guys in a magic world bar also try picking on Negi thinking he's a weak pretty boy. Not so much.
  • Dragon Ball has an episode where some random crook shoots Tao Paipai. Without warning. From behind. Tao Paipai deflects the bullet straight at the attacker with his hand.
    • In fact, this is how Son Goku meets several of his future friends in the first series. Both Yamucha and Oolong first attempted to rob or take advantage of him because he was "just a little kid", only to be taught very quickly that Goku is no one to trifle with. Fortunately for them, Goku will forgive almost anyone.
    • During the Crossover with Dr. Slump, General Blue tried to prevent Goku from attacking him by holding Arale at knifepoint. It did work at first, as Goku didn't know about Arale's strength either, but then he tried to kill Goku, and Arale sent him flying to Egypt.
    • Then in Dragonball Z, the androids C17 and C18 are attacked by a group of gangsters. Those are thrown into the sky.
    • Finally, in an anime-exclusive filler, Majin Buu, now a nice guy, is shot during a hold-up in a jewelry. Being The Blob, he absorbs the bullet, spits it out, then playfully throws it back with enough strength to put a crater in the wall behind the crooks. Said crooks promptly gave up and surrender to the police. Gohan and Videl show up and strike a pose reminiscent of the Ginyu Force only to be completely confused about why the bad guys are surrendering before they beat anybody up.
  • In Darker Than Black, one unruly client wants to leave a restaurant without paying and beats those who try to stop him. Including the waiter, a guy who was nicknamed "the Black Reaper" before he got super powers. And the place was owned by Yakuza to boot. The only reason he didn't get zapped senseless or stabbed within seconds of his first punch was that Hei was undercover.
    • Also none-too-bright: Goons are meeting November 11 to arrange a deal. He brings a bunch of money as a down payment. They break off negotiations halfway through, and he goes to pick up the money and leave... at which point a thug slams his hand down on the briefcase and blows smoke in November's face. Whoops. He gets his arm frozen off. The second guy gets stabbed through the eye with the contents of a cup of coffee. Their boss tries to get away, but April causes a rainstorm and November froze his feet to the ground. November 11 gets his information, and said boss ends into a much more fatal than usual Human Popsicle. See, that's why you should cooperate with the nice sociopaths.
  • Happens a few times in Kaze no Stigma, most noticeably when a guy comes up to Kazuma and Ayano as they walk through some street. Defeated in seconds. Also, since members of the Kannagi family are pretty strong, Ren easily beats one of his classmates older brother who happens to be sort of possessed by a youma.
  • In Blassreiter, young harmless Malek and his only friend Johann are bullied by the upperclass German natives, who look down on them for being immigrants. When Malek becomes an Amalgam, this turns out to be a bad move.
  • In the Cowboy Bebop two-part episode "Jupiter Jazz", the same group of thugs try to mug Faye and then Spike. It doesn't end well for them either time, particularly since their leader makes the mistake of calling Spike by the name of his rival Vicious.
    • Happens in at least another episode when a thug tries to mug Spike using a knife. He is dispatched with no effort whatsoever. Spike in general seems to attract this, because people just assume thin equals weak, and he's definitely not weak.
  • This is practically a Running Gag in Inuyasha, as 95% of the time you ever see bandits (or arrogant feudal lords leading dozens of armed men), you know in five minutes they're gonna be scraped off the floor after meeting the Monster of the Week. The rest of the time, they'll last just long enough to harass one or more of the heroes. Sango is a popular target, being a beautiful woman living in deeply misogynistic feudal Japan, but her complete lack of superpowers didn't stop her from slaying demons for a living.
  • This happens to Armitage, in what is possibly her most dehumanizing and — dare I say it — monstrous scene in the first OVA. In the defense of the muggers, once she drops her cloak and they can see the battle damage she sustained earlier in the series, they realize they've made a huge mistake.
  • Everything that happens in Yu-Gi-Oh!! before the children's card games kick in revolves around this trope. Yugi frequently gets the crap kicked out of him or gets taken advantage by someone with decidedly evil intentions, and his tormentors then inevitably suffer the consequences when Yugi's Super-Powered Evil Side challenges them to karmically-appropriate Shadow Games, which usually leave the loser dead or insane.
  • In the first episode of the first season of Koihime Musou, Kannu is accosted by a group of bandits. She beats them easily.
  • In Durarara a panicked Nasujima tries to rob the first person he sees after running from Anri. The first person he sees happens to be Heiwajima Shizuo. The same author created Baccano (see above); it would seem he's fond of this.
  • An odd example in the detective series Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro wherein a boy who is being horribly bullied decided to kill his bullies. In the typical style of the manga he uses a strange over-the-top method of murder by creating an animal-head shaped mask that sprays flesh-dissolving acid from the snout. However, when finding one of the boys, knocking him to the ground and attempting to melt his face he finds the boy just calmly smiling at him and talking through the melting bloody gloop that is his head. Turns out he just attacked Kaitou Sai, a shapeshifter whose already killed the boy and taken his shape so he could murder a pedophile teacher for the giggles. Strangely he isn't killed for this attack, instead the villain seems to agree with what he had done, reassure him that he had never bullied him since he had stolen the shape very recently and eventually basically hired the kid.
  • In Eyeshield 21 when Sena and Monta try to get a table at the local McDonald's ripoff so they can start talking about who should be in the Japan National Team, the guys they ask to move basically tell them to screw off and start taunting them. But wait a minute... OH SHIT they're Deimon's Superstars! AND THEY'VE GOT SHIN, GAOU, AND AGON WITH THEM! RUN!!!
  • Bleach, Kenpachi Zaraki vs Nnoitra Jiruga. Nnoitra ripping off the eyepatch is probably the biggest mistake in all of anime.
  • As a beautiful woman in a crapsack and crime-ridden feudal Japan, Oyuki, a.k.a. Lady Snowblood, is frequently targeted by would-be rapists. They do not survive their attempts.
  • In Digimon Frontier a Sagittarimon tries this on the digidestined, but they were saved by Angemon, still he comes back with some Centaurmon to back him up, only to be beaten up by the digidestined.
  • Tokiko was trying to invoke this trope in the first chapter of Busou Renkin, but was thwarted by Kazuki's Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Hanaukyo Maid Tai episode 5. While Taro and Konoe are out of the mansion they're approached by three thugs who proposition Konoe and grab Taro. Konoe responds with martial arts attacks that quickly drive the thugs off.
  • Gunsmith Cats: Anyone who attempts to rob the home of Irene "Rally" Vincent will quickly learn why breaking into the residence of a gun shop owner/bounty hunter and the lover/apprentice of the mob's #1 bomb specialist is a very bad idea.
    • Then there was that guy who tried to steal Bean Bandit's cargo from him. It's amazing how many people keep trying to double-cross or con him, even though it's common knowledge that entire gangs have disappeared overnight after trying to make a fool of him.
  • Kumiko Yamaguchi of Gokusen is very short and thin. What idiots who attack her don't know is she grew up in a house full of Yakuza who taught her how to fight.
  • In Gantz Nishi classmates are calling him a psychopath and are constantly bullying him (going as far as throwing him of the second floor window), then they find out that he really is a heartless killer that has no real problema with killing others and have both the equipment and fighting experience of super-soldier.
  • Semi-comic example from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman episode 'The Secret of the Birdstyles.' Jun goes out by herself as bait for Galactor agents. Two men, one armed with a knife, force her into an alley. We hear sounds of a beat-down, then she comes out unharmed and gripes, "Just a couple of street thugs. I thought they were Galactor!"
  • In Fairy Tail, some street punks mistake Gajeel for his wimpy alternate universe counterpart. He kicks their asses.
  • During an episode of Last Exile, the crew of the Silvana end up having shore leave at Walker Palace, conveniently at the same time as the crew of the Anatoray battleship Goliath. Thinking of the newcomers as average renegades, the Goliath crew make the mistake of picking multiple fights with the Silvana bunch, leading to a brawl between the two crews. This brawl is only stopped upon Alex's entrance, but upon his attempt to call it off, the Goliath captain makes the even bigger mistake of throwing his glove at Alex, instigating a duel. Needless to say, when the Goliath people come to realize that they just picked a fight with the Silvana (literally known as "Kill Em All Silvana"), and the captain himself realized he just talked down to the one and only Alex Row, the expressions are just priceless. And then they made their last mistake by trying to shoot the Silvana in the back, before the order to fire was given... making them the ideal test subjects for the Silvana's new jet propelled shell cannons.
  • Most Gundam series start off like this: the antagonists invade the colony that the protagonist faction is testing the resident Gundam in, whether to search out for said Gundam or to attack the colony itself. After the antagonists make mincemeat out of the defending forces, the main hero will "accidentally" end up in the Gundam's cockpit and activate it. The trope kicks in when the antagonists notice the Gundam's activation and, thinking it's like any other mobile suit, attack it... only to realize that their weapons can't penetrate the Gundam's armor, and much more the Gundam is either packing more heat than their suits or is able to rip apart their MS with its bare hand manipulators.
  • A slightly more realistic example happens in Kodomo no Jikan. It's revealed that the previous teacher was a serious Jerkass who insulted, cussed out, and generally made all of Rin's class miserable. Then his torment of them made her friend Mimi stop coming to school. She proceeded to harass him so much that he quit and was seriously ill because of it. The Aesop? Don't fuck with Rin, she's willing to ruin (or end) your life.


  • The Marvel Comics version of Godzilla had this happen when the big G was temporarily shrunk by Hank Pym's Applied Phlebotinum. The Tagalong Kid had "disguised" the lizard in trenchcoat and hat, then lost Godzilla in New York City. Godzilla wanders down the wrong back alley, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Ultimate Marvel, a bunch of thugs tried to mug Captain America and the Wasp (not in costume, of course) on their way back from a date. The next panel simply panned up and showed a scream.
  • In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, a couple of unfortunate criminals try to mug the Corinthian. Oh shit. Whoops. It would be a great establishing scene for what his character is like, if his very first scene had not been so... memorable. (It helps that they mistook his sexual interest in young men as a good reason to target him, when it's really a very good reason to avoid him.)
  • In Watchmen, while Dr. Manhattan is giving the interview, Laurie and Daniel fight off a group of muggers. Not a word of dialogue is written for this event, and instead it is overlaid with the aforementioned interview. It's a subtle bit of foreshadowing and character development, that illustrates what makes Watchmen great.
  • It happened to Superman... he'd gone into a dark alley and a guy jumped on him ("Hmmph! What are you, a bodybuilder or something?"). Guy gets thrown into the sacks of garbage, tries shooting at the shadowy figure, and then nearly pees his pants when the bullets bounce off the big red "S" and a big Kryptonian fist starts hurtling towards his face. Fortunately for him the fist was catching a ricochet.
  • In an early issue of Hellblazer, a bunch of punks racist skinheads get ready to beat up a hunched over bald guy in a trenchcoat, thinking he was a homosexual. He turned out to be the demon Nergal, the first real Big Bad of the series. It didn't end well for them.
  • In a similar vein, one issue of Ghost Rider features a bunch of bikers harassing a piggish-looking good ol' boy while he is cruising down the open road. Said good ol' boy is a demonic bounty hunter from Hell named Hoss. He promptly lights the bikers' heads on fire and forces their leader to crash and break his neck. When the leader agrees to serve Hoss in exchange for his life, Hoss takes the liberty of "altering" his body to suit his new position in life.

 Hoss: Oh, and by the by, your new name's Butt-view.

    • Similarly, when local police put the Scarecrow and Madcap in the drunk tank with a bunch of rowdy relatives in town for a wedding with the intention of scaring them straight... there were no survivors.
  • In Marvel's Avengers, two thugs once tried to mug someone walking in Central Park (I think it was) at night. Someone wearing a trenchcoat and hat. It was the Vision.
  • Incredible Hulk: Naturally, this has happened to Bruce Banner a few times. In one instance the Grey Hulk was nearly mugged, which is odd considering he's taller than most people and almost as wide.
    • The moment where Bruce Banner is nearly raped by two men in the shower of the YMCA takes the cake. It's an aversion, though, as when Banner threatens to turn into the Hulk, they doubt him but decide not to risk it.
    • She-Hulk had a similar experience, although it was an unruly protestor rather than a mugger. After the Stamford disaster an angry mob of anti-superhero agitators had formed outside of the courthouse where Jennifer Walters was defending two surviving members of the New Warriors in court. One guy recognized Jennifer and grabbed her, shouting "I've got She-Hulk!" Cue Jennifer turning green and growing eight feet tall. "Okay, you've got She-Hulk. Now what?"
  • In Secret Six, Deadshot and Catman are discussing the potential Heel Face Turn that Catman underwent in Africa when they enter a convenience store that is in the process of being robbed. They completely ignore the brandished weapons and pick up some cigarettes and ice-cream and even go to pay for their items, all the while being screamed at by the skinheads who are doing the robbing. After a little while, Deadshot takes a break from the conversation to easily disarm the skinhead behind him and then berates him for his amateurishness. As he explains, it is fine if the skinhead does not respect him, but he will damn well respect the gun. Deadshot gives the thug a few pointers (start the robbery by placing the gun against the victims head in order to give him a primal fear reaction, but then speak slowly and calmly in order to keep anybody from panicking and reacting, etc.) and then shoves his head through a glass case, taking out one of his eyes, as punishment. Of course, Deadshot then finishes the robbery, taking the cash from the register, to punish the store for "lax security precautions." After Catman and Deadshot leave they resume their previous conversation, but Deadshot immediately points out that Catman, despite what he may think, has not become a good guy. When Catman asks why, Deadshot points out that he just left several defenseless witnesses in the same room as a group of bloody and angry thugs who will be looking for vengeance and to cover their tracks after their humiliating fiasco of a robbery. Catman pauses for a moment, sighs, and walks back into the store.
    • See also Too Dumb to Live: The thugs (The Zyklon-B Boys) deliberately attack Deadshot a few weeks later when one of them sees him walking into a restaurant. He follows Deadshot, looking for revenge, and is viciously beaten again, only surviving because Deadshot had made a promise not to kill anybody that night (he was on a date). Instead of taking the hint, he waits for the rest of the gang to gather and attacks one more time; this time he and the other skinheads are not so lucky, and Deadshot's date kills them all, explaining that she did not make any promises that night.
  • In Garth Ennis's Welcome Back Frank, the world's unluckiest thug tries to mug The Punisher. Frank kills him.
  • In a recent issue of Detective Comics focusing on the origins of Kate Kane, the Post-Crisis Batwoman, Kate is on the phone to her girlfriend outside a bar when a thug with a pipe tries to take her for an easy mark. Unfortunately for the thug, he does not know that Kate was recently a student at West Point, where she was first in her class, and that she is in an extremely foul mood. Kate promptly beats the crap out of him, pointing out that he thought she was just a victim, but that she is a soldier. She is only prevented from really messing the guy up by the timely intervention of Batman, who had presumably intended to sweep in to save the socialite from the thug, only to find himself doing the opposite instead. With the fight essentially over, all that Batman can do is extend his hand to Kate before leaving to answer the Bat Signal.
  • Early in the "Grasscutter" story arc of Usagi Yojimbo, Gen finds the remains of a bandit gang who apparently tried to rob Jei. Thank goodness for Bloodless Carnage...
    • It is highly arguable that Bloodless Carnage made the scene any less horrific. What Gen finds are a multitude of corpses strewn like so many broken dolls, their faces frozen in abject terror, their eyes wide and staring out into nothing in horror that is plain and striking even (especially) with Stan Sakai's deceptively simplistic art style. Adding blood to the scene would have arguably detracted from it by, ironically, making it far more cartoonish.
  • A Running Gag in Asterix, with the poor pirates who always end up attacking the ship the Gauls are on.
    • Before the pirates even made an appearance, in Asterix and the Golden Sickle, Asterix and Obelix are traveling toward Lutetia and are attacked a few times by brigands or barbarians. The two Gauls don't even deign making a pause in their conversation and keep walking while they casually slap around the first group of muggers.
  • In one of the Street Fighter comics by UDON, this happens to some thugs and Chun Li.
  • A pervert mistook Supergirl for a prostitute (to be fair, she was completely naked) only to have his hand crushed and be slammed through a wall.
    • A guy groped Mary Marvel, and it took Supergirl to stop her from tearing him limb from limb.
  • Early in the year long Batman No Mans Land storyline, there were a series of interludes starring a character called "The Punk". His M.O. was trying to steal supplies by threatening people with an empty gun. The twist was that all his intended victims knew that no one had any supplies, including bullets. The last of the stories was titled "The Punk and The Stranger;" it features the title idiot attempting to rob a strange, pale man in a purple raincoat who seemed inordinately happy with everything. I think you can guess why this is the last "Punk" story.
  • A Wolverine solo adventure had a variation of this. A young woman was on a subway train with no one else around besides a sleeping homeless man with a newspaper over his face. Two muggers approach her and attempt a routine mugging, then the homeless man woke up, and you'll never guess who he turned out to be!
  • Career Killers: Many are the unfortunate (now dead) bikers who thought Lady Shiva would be an easy target.
  • In an issue of Spider-Man, Spidey saw several gang-bangers with knives surrounding a short man in a trenchcoat and swung down to the rescue, his thought balloon going "I have to save that guy from being killed by those muggers!" When the man in question popped his adamantium claws, Spidey (in mid-swing) immediately shifted his internal monologue to "I have to save those muggers from being killed by Wolverine!"
    • Similarly, Wolverine and Spiderman were both in a bar, in costume, having an intense argument. Just as they were about to start trading punches instead of words, a group of thugs burst through the door with weapons drawn, noticing the angry superheroes only after they're inside. Cue the thug in the back "Next time, I choose the place we rob."
  • On several occasions in One Hundred Bullets, people have tried to mug Lono. He either kills them on the spot or tracks them down later for some graphic on-panel fun.
  • Lucky Luke sometimes defeats random bandits casually. In one case, he travels through a mountain pass, casually disarming indians and bandits while monologueing to his Cool Horse. When he arrives at his destination, he expresses surprise at being told there were bandits in that pass, and can't explain where the arrow in his hat came from. But then again, he is an Invincible Hero...
  • In Volume 2, Issue 1 of Witch Girls Tales, a group of gang members try to mug a group of the eponymous witch girls. Most of the girls respond by using flashy but harmless magic to scare or force them into submission, but Princess Lucinda — the team's Heroic Comedic Sociopath — responds by turning one of them into a bug and another into a frog, with the expected results; to be fair, the one that got turned into a bug was Too Dumb to Live because he actively charged Lucinda after all his other friends save one were summarily dispatched by the girls' magic and he knew just how dangerous they actually were. Then, just to seal the deal, he taunted his friend who had been turned into a frog.
  • The Dutch cartoon Humor in Beroepen: Politie ("Humor in Jobs: Police") cortains a number of "unlucky crook" tales. But the best one is about a crook whom first tries to rob an elderly lady and gets beaten into submission with an umbrella, then tries some car-jacking while the (very large) owner is standing behind him, and finally tries to rob a young lady only to be sent flying with a karate kick. In the last panel he is at the police station complaining that his neighborhood has gotten too dangerous.
  • The setup of Freak Angels is somehwere between this and Bullying a Dragon. The government obviously knows that the children are dangerous. That's why they are going after them, they're concerned they are a national security risk. But no-one, including the Freak Angels themselves, realize just how world-wreckingly dangerous they are.
  • There is a comic where a gang of thugs try to mug a blind man wearing a $300 suit. It was Daredevil.
  • A group of muggers saw a depowered Thor and Enchantress and attacked them. They quickly defeated them while talking about how helpless they are. It should be noted that although Thor technically was depowered, he still was a six-foot-six five-hundred-pound mountain of muscle who had never been sick a day in his life. And he could still use his hammer. Not the kind of guy any sane mugger should mess with in the first place.
  • The Darkness: In an interesting variation, Jackie Estacado's Sidekick Wenders is threatened on two seperate occasions for being openly gay. Wenders himself has no powers, but he is saved each time, first by the surprising ability of Darklings to leap out of his Cell phone and devour the muggers and the second time by everyone in the diner he was in spontaneously catching on fire.
  • Averted in Iron Man Issue 173. A gang mugged Tony who didn't have his armor. If it weren't for the fact that he was drunk, he could have taken them down since he was trained by Captain America.
    • Played straight in a few other instances where people have tried to beat him up, whether because he's just some rich playboy who needs a bodyguard[1], or because he's helpless without his armor. You'd think they'd learn.
    • This is a general trope for armor-wearing superheroes. People tend to think the armor does all the work. While the current Iron Man armor is lightweight, Tony had to spend years working in heavy armor, and he still performs the equivalent of Olympic gymnastic routines every time he fights a serious villain. Which is at least once a week. A great subversion of Clothes Make the Superman.
  • In an early chapter of Bone, Phoney Bone, lost in the Valley, decides to ask directions from the Great Red Dragon, a powerful being who is also the only thing that strikes fear in the hearts of the sinister rat creatures who are after him. He proceeds to ask for information in the most condescending way possible, insulting the dragon with every syllable, as the dragon gets more and more visibly irritated, with ever greater amounts of smoke rising from his nostrils. Luckily, Ted comes along and steers Phoney away before he's burnt to a cinder.
  • Mortadelo Y Filemon's comic El Bacilón has the title character (a gigantic, anthropomorphic green monster) walk around the seedy parts of the city, and a mugger targets him, but since he is waiting behind a corner, he only hears it walking. He becomes a Running Gag along the episode and eventually turns mad due to both the monster and Mortadelo disguised as a big animal.
  • In Garth Ennis's Preacher (Comic Book), Sheriff Root and his squad of heavily armed men, backed up by a helicopter, threaten the Saint of Killers, an invincible, immortal, merciless killing machine with a pair of revolvers that never run dry, never miss, and always kill. Needless to say, it ends badly for them.
  • A more intellectual variation occurs in an issue of JLA when Lex Luthor, highly successful billionaire business tycoon, launches a plan to cripple the JLA using non-criminal techniques from the business world. Unfortunately for Lex, he's completely ignorant that one of his adversaries is really Bruce Wayne, a highly successful billionaire business tycoon in his own right (and one who does it as a sideline). The art highlights this, showing Batman sitting at the computer with his cowl down, making it quite clear which persona is fighting this battle.
  • Near the end of Alan Moore's run on Miracleman, some kids bully Jonathan Bates at an orphanage until he can't take it anymore and unleashes his murderously psychotic superpowered alter-ego Kid Miracleman.
  • In one issue of Gen 13, as Fairchild is walking along by the street, a group of guys decide to "invite her into their car", and when she turns them down they make it clear that they're not asking. Cue their shock as she drags the car behind her to the police station while they're trying to gun it in reverse.
  • Darkseid got mugged once when he visited Earth in disguise. He didn't really do anything to resist and just analyzed the whole experience, finding it rather interesting to be on the receiving end of this kind of behavior for a change.
  • Another one involving Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters: In a Mister Miracle issue, a mook tries to kidnap Big Barda in order to force Scott Free (Mr. Miracle's alter ego) to sign an insurance policy for his Mob Boss. After his Hot Amazon wife tells him what happened, Scott asks her if the mook is OK. The mook is OK, but very afraid of the possibility of seeing Barda again.
  • In the first issue of Cerebus the Aardvark, someone makes the mistake of grabbing Cerebus's tail. I am not sure it is his last mistake but he was bleeding pretty badly from the stump where Cerebus cut off his hand.

Fan Works

Films — Live-Action

  • Crocodile Dundee has the scene referenced in the page quote. The second film has a similar sequence with a would-be hit man.

 Dundee: You know, for a guy who supposedly makes a living killing people you ain't very good at it.


 Goons point handgun at Jed for cutting them off on the freeway.

Jed draws down on them with double barrel shotgun: "That's nice son... This here's what I carry!"

Goons panic and drive off.

  • Collateral has a scene where a couple of thugs steal a briefcase from a ziptied-up Max. Vincent confronts the two, one of whom brandishes a pistol right at him. A few double-taps to the chest and one in the head later, Vincent has his briefcase back.
  • In a throwaway scene in Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog, a hoodlum tries to mug an elderly Asian man carrying two grocery bags. It doesn't end well. Later, two poachers threaten the main character for asking too much questions. It ends worse.
  • In Blade Trinity, a gang of vampires attack a woman pushing a baby carriage in a subway station. The "helpless" victim turns out to be Jessica Biel, resident Action Girl, and the baby turns out to be a booby-trapped doll. Unusually for this trope, she was deliberately trying to get attacked.
  • In Blade 2, vampires running a blood bank attempt to strap down a homeless man for a generous and involuntary donation, but the homeless man turns out to be a far greater monster than they are.
  • The Book of Eli does this very frequently. It becomes much more hilarious/embarrassing when you realize that Eli might have been, in fact, a blind man all along.
  • At one point in Friday the 13 th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, a bunch of punks threaten Jason Voorhees after he kicks their stereo. He turns around and lifts his mask. They take off at top speed.
  • A classic example occurs in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, when a mook tries to take a vampire hostage. It ends about as well as can be expected for him.
  • An elaborated one in The Godfather II; Senator Geary tries to extort and bully Michael Corleone for a gambling license. A nonchalant Michael bides his time and turns the tables with a cold frame-up.
  • A History of Violence: Two small-time criminals try to rob an Indiana town coffee shop with the intent to rob/murder/rape everyone inside it. The restaurant owner, Tom Stall, is an ex-Philadelphia Mafia hitman/enforcer, who, in the words of one his former associates, "Is very good at killing people."
  • In Men in Black II, the alien Big Bad takes the form of an underwear model. "She" is then immediately attacked by a rapist, who ends up as the prop in a Throwaway Gag about bulimia.
  • As Near Dark proves, trying to carjack a couple of vampires is a really bad idea.
  • In the Jackie Chan movie Shanghai Knights, Jack the Ripper tries to attack Chon Wang's younger sister. Now we know why the killings stopped so suddenly.
  • In Streets of Fire, a gang member pulls a knife on Tom Cody, who takes it away from him — and then returns it, lets the mook try to attack him, and takes it away again. Then he throws him through a plate glass window.
  • In The Terminator, a trio of hoodlums decides that it's a good idea to pick on a Herculean naked man walking around at night. While it's generally not a good idea to start fights with crazed weightlifters, the punks probably would have been at an advantage had their intended victim not been a killbot from the future.
  • In Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, the contract killer Mr. Shh (played by Steve Buscemi) stumbles upon a mugging in progress. When the muggers turn their attention to the weasely guy in the fedora, they end up on the receiving end of some Kung Foley.
  • In Undercover Blues, a nasty knife-wielding punk insists on one more score, who turns out to be Jeff Blue (Dennis Quaid), who beats the would-be assailant into submission while holding his baby in one arm.
  • In the Wayne and Shuster, "Dr. Jekyll and Mrs' Hyde", Jekyll is on the comical rampage as the clownish villain Mrs. Hyde and is about to be attacked by Jack the Ripper. Hyde easily beats him up and robs him, followed by a headline, "Jack the Ripper Ripped Off!"
  • Happens a lot to the Djinn in Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies where he's in prison. Everybody is just screaming verbal abuse and threats at him, and he just smiles through all of it before doing his thing. He's disappointed when they eventually stop.
  • Seen in a deleted scene from Young Frankenstein, where a highwayman calling himself "Jack Spratt" (he tells this straight to the camera. There's a reason it's a deleted scene) tries to mug young Frankenstein's monster. Bad move.
  • In Pulp Fiction, when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny try to rob the diner, Pumpkin goes to get the wallet of a dorkily dressed guy with a briefcase, demanding that the guy hand over his briefcase and threatening to shoot him when he refuses. Unfortunately for Pumpkin, said dorkily dressed guy with briefcase is Jules, badass hitman, who quickly gets the drop on Pumpkin, resulting in a Mexican Standoff. Unusually, however, this example ends without bloodshed, Jules having tired of his life as a professional killer.
  • In one of the RoboCop films, a guy attempts to rob a doughnut shop. He gets lit up by twenty laser-sighted police firearms, from all the uniformed officers sitting in the shop at the time. The clerk turns to the robber and says "How does it feel to be a rocket scientist?"
  • Towards the end of The Alibi, one of the bad guys is trying to elude the cops in a hotel, so in the corridor he grabs a woman coming out of her room in the corridor, stucks his gun in the small of her back and forces her back in the room to take her hostage. He locks the door, turns around... and discovers about fifteen cops pointing their guns at him. Turns out the woman's a detective, on a loosely related stakeout in the hotel. Whoops.
  • Carrie. Though at least, not even the eponymous character knows she's a Person of Mass Destruction until too late.
  • Damien: Omen II: A bully attempts to pick a fight with Damien Thorn. Not a good idea, as Damien is the Antichrist (although he didn't know it at the time).
  • Near the beginning of House of 1000 Corpses, armed robbers makes the mistake of targeting the Monster Clown Captain Spalding and his truck stop of horrors. It doesn't end well for them, but does result in Crowning Moments of Awesome and Funny.
  • Transporter 2 opens with a violent gang of carjackers attempting to steal Badass courier Frank Martin's car. When they try to beat him into giving them the code to start the car, Frank opens a can of whoopass that leaves the four men on the ground and their female accomplice fleeing in terror.
  • Happens repeatedly in Trick 'r Treat. One kid steals candy from the house of a Serial Killer, and get killed. The Serial Killer is himself a victim of this when a young woman he's stalking turns out to be a werewolf.
  • In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie, two thugs try to rob Irene Adler. Bad move.
  • In the French movie Didier, some skinheads harass a mixed-race couple (nicknaming them "John and Yoko", as they look like the famous couple) driving a van. Only to find out the van is carrying a bunch of martial artists from the local "Tae Kwon Fu" [sic] club. Cue Neo-Nazis whomping.
  • A comedic version occurs in The Mask, when a street gang makes the mistake of targeting protagonist Stanley just after he puts on the eponymous artifact for the first time. ("And last but not least, my favorite: a tommy gun!")
  • Kill Bill: a drunken salaryman solicits the serafuku-clad assassin Go-Go Yubari. He ends up the one being "penetrated."
  • In Love at First Bite, Dracula's coffin has been misdirected while being shipped to New York City, and he has to walk the night streets to get to his hotel. Some muggers see this rich-looking white guy and think he's an easy target...
  • This also happens in the David Niven movie Old Dracula. In that one, Dracula doesn't even need to use his powers; he has a swordcane that is quite well up to the job.
  • A humorous example occurs in Secondhand Lions that also serves to illustrate Uncle Hub's Retired Badass / Badass Grandpa status. Four teenagers start harassing Hub in a diner, whereupon he decides to teach them a lesson in respecting their elders.

 Hood: Hey, who do you think you are, huh?

Garth: Just a dumb kid, Hub. Don't kill him.

Hub: (to Garth) Right.

(grabs Hood by the throat)

Hub: I'm Hub McCann. I've fought in two World Wars and countless smaller ones on three continents. I led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I've seen the headwaters of the Nile, and tribes of natives no white man had ever seen before. I've won and lost a dozen fortunes, KILLED MANY MEN and loved only one woman with a passion a FLEA like you could never begin to understand. That's who I am. NOW, GO HOME, BOY!

  • A fantastic version in Snatch when Bullet-Tooth Tony is threatened by two robbers carrying replica pistols. While he is carrying a Desert Eagle. Point. Five. Oh.
  • A man steals Miss Piggy's purse in The Muppets Take Manhattan. She screams after his retreating form, and then, very politely, walks up to a gentleman sitting on a bench and asks to borrow his roller skates. Hilarity ensues as the thief frantically tries to get away from Miss Piggy, who, of course, has her trademark psychotic look on her face. Later, when she gets him, and a cop takes him away, he makes a valiant effort at revisionist history:

 Thief: She stole my purse!

Miss Piggy: What?!

Cop: Nice try, buddy.

  • In The Lady Killers, two robbers try to shake down a convenience store owner. It turns out the man is an ex-Vietnamese General Ripper. The General and his no-nonsense wife quickly dispatch the muggers with two fingers to the nose and a pot of scalding coffee.
  • Played for surprise in Observeand Report when the seemingly clueless Ronnie is abandoned on an inner-city street corner, far from his familiar suburban mall. He's soon accosted by a group of tough drug dealers. After some cowering and pleading, he suddenly unleashes the fury with a telescoping baton.
  • In the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie, a mugger points a gun at Lois Lane and... Clark Kent. (Since Lois was around, however, ol' Kal El couldn't open his special Kryptonian brand of whoop-ass on the crook for fear Lois would notice — although he did snatch the mugger's bullet out of midair when it otherwise would have hit her.)
  • A deleted scene from Ghostbusters (never filmed, but the storyboards appear on the DVD) has Lewis, possessed by the Keymaster, warding off some muggers with fire breath.
  • In Bourne Identity, Swiss police wake a man who is sleeping on a park bench. Instead of a bum, it's Jason Bourne, who takes down both cops in seconds. Bonus points for the fact that as an amnesiac he had no idea he was capable of doing that. This trope actually happens quite a few times in The Bourne Series as people either do not know what Bourne is capable of or underestimate his abilities.
  • In Rambo: First Blood, the local small-town cops see Rambo as just a disreputable-looking drifter and start pushing him out of town. This turns out to be the last straw. (In the original novel, it's more a case of mutual misunderstanding than a real example of this trope.)
  • Death Wish: When Charles Bronson's character Paul Kersey becomes a mysterious vigilante, anybody who approaches him armed will get shot.
  • Big Trouble has the film's hitman making a call from a pay phone. When gangstas approach him, he drops a napkin and, while bending down to pick it up, he produces a revolver from his ankle holster, points in their direction and says: Not right now. Okay?
  • Gone in 60 Seconds had some car thieves with their recent steal. A carjacker attempts to steal the car at gun-point. The car thief slammed the driver's door into the carjacker, then berates him for his lack of skill at stealing cars.
  • Speaking of car-jacking, this is how Terrance meets depressed Nick Beam in Nothing to Lose. Boy did you pick the wrong guy on the wrong day.
  • Almost happens in Vampires Suck, when the trio menaces a fisherman. He knows Tae-Bo and punches one of them in the face repeatedly. Unfortunately for the fisherman, the vampires kill him anyway.
  • The climactic burglary scene in Home Alone can definitely qualify for this.
  • A classic example occurs in the film Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson. Jack's character, Will Randall, is taking a nighttime stroll through Central Park (as a Werewolf), a trio of hooligans attempt to mug him. Needless to say, Will found a finger in his pocket the following day.

 Mugger: Hey buddy, can we borrow some cash?

Will: All of ya? Well I've got about a thousand dollars on me, how much would you like to borrow? Five? Ten?

(carnage ensues)

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow flees to the blacksmith shop to get his shackles removed... only to find out that the blacksmith is Will Turner, who is not only the best swordsman in Port Royal but also the true love of the woman Jack just used as a human shield. It's only by "cheating" that Jack manages to escape intact.
  • Played with in Pee Wee's Big Adventure. While Pee-Wee is wandering the streets at night looking for his lost bicycle, he's attacked by a street gang. He quickly opens his mouth and hisses like a vampire. They run off in terror.
  • In the original Thai version of Bangkok Dangerous, two random street thugs make the mistake of targeting an unarmed deaf mute while on a date with a woman, not realizing he is a skilled hitman.
  • A lot of direct-to-video martial arts and action films will feature an early Establishing Character Moment where some bikers or rednecks in a bar harass the hero or a waitress or local girl and he teaches them the error of their ways.
  • In Rob Zombie's Halloween II a redneck duo decide to pick a fight with Michael Myers when they find him crossing their property on his way to Haddonfield. It doesn't end well for them.
  • In Home Sweet Home, a character tries to steal gasoline and the battery from the killer's seemingly abandoned car, only for the killer to hop out and slam the hood down on his head while he's trying to get the latter.
  • In The Fifth Element, some lunatic tries to rob Korben Dallas at his door. He is quite calmly convinced otherwise, and even hands over his gun.
  • in Falling Down, D-Fens is having sort of a bad day, and he doesn't take getting mugged by two gangsters too kindly. Revenge ensues and they get what they asked for a second time.
  • Two inner-city high school students decide to pick a fight with the new substitute teacher during his first day on the job. The "teacher" is actually a Vietnam veteran and mercenary who is undercover to investigate the conspiracy leading to his girlfriend's attack in The Substitute.
  • A gang of thugs attempt to rob a subway passenger in the second Predator film, leading him to pull a gun on them. While this fails to disuade them, every passenger in the entire subway car proceeds to pull guns to back him up.
  • In the Jeff Speakman vehicle The Perfect Weapon, a group of thugs attempt to mug Speakman's character, not realizing that: 1) he is a kenpo karate master; and 2) he had just been chasing down the man who killed his sensei and failed to catch him. What happens next is pretty much what you'd expect to happen to a bunch of thugs who catch a martial arts master in the worst of all possible moods.
  • In Supergirl, Kara is accosted by two truckers seemingly intent on raping her. Attacking a Kryptonian goes about as well as you'd think.
  • In Killer Klowns From Outer Space, the misanthropic Officer Mooney performs an act of Police Brutality on a klown, thinking it's a prankster in a costume. The klown, which had been playing along with Mooney's attempt to arrest it, instantly bashes his head against the cell bars hard enough to kill him.
  • In Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze is arrested for the destruction he inadvertantly caused the first time he transformed into the Ghost Rider. Despite Johhny's insistence that he should kept far away from other people, the cops toss him into a large cell with about two dozen extremely rowdy criminals who immediately turn their attention on their newest cellmate. When it's all over, the only survivor is the one kid sitting in the corner minding his own business, who Ghost Rider claimed was an innocent, with his newly ruined jeans and a classic Oh Crap expression permanently frozen on his face.
  • In Killshot, a fancy-talking hoodlum and wannabe Badass decides to steal the cadillac of a middle-aged man who looks dressed like a modern-day cowboy after the man grabbed a bite at a cheap diner. After driving around for a while at gunpoint they park the car somewhere, and the hoodlum peruses through his wallet. Then the man shoves a gun in his face and reveals that he's a contract killer. Interestingly he doesn't kill the punk, but hangs around with him for the remainder of the film.
  • The first Dirty Harry movie has a group of muggers making the mistake of setting upon Callahan while he's running around with Scorpio's ransom money.
  • In the Hellboy movies, the backstory for Liz Sherman has her as a young girl running from a group of attacking kids who throw rocks as she tries to escape over a fence. It ends badly. She accidentally burns down the fence. And the kids. And the entire city block. Then again, since they were deriding her as a freak, they may have known about her powers and thus deserved to die.
  • In Kick Ass, two bullies try to shake down Hit-Girl for lunch money when she's out of costume. Cue Hit-Girl cracking her knuckles. The bullies no doubt had a hard time living the result down.
  • This is the premise of The Perfect Host: An attempted bank robber on the run threatens a random guy with a knife. Throughout the rest of the film, the thief learns why he would have been better off messing with someone else.
  • Star Wars a New Hope. Two cantina thugs attempt to pick a fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Knight with a lightsaber. One of them loses an arm.


  • In the Lone Wolf series, when in "civilized" parts of the world rather than evil fortresses or the wilderness, various rogues trying to mug the hero is a common type of fight encounter. It rarely ends well for them. In later books, some of those fights aren't even played out — there is just an off-hand mention of Lone Wolf leaving a few dead brigands behind.
  • In Appointment With FEAR, the main character (who is a superhero) is approached by criminals who want to mug him/her. If you fight them, you out yourself and have to give up your career as a superhero, which leads to a bad ending (albeit one that's quite a bit less dark than the other bad endings); only by letting them mug you can you continue playing.


  • The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft. Some burglars decided to go for an easy target. Oh! And who is this easy target? It’s The Terrible Old Man…. Yeah.
  • In the first chapter of Artemis Fowl, A man tries to pickpocket Butler. Due to Butler being hugely strong, said pickpocket gets his fingers broken.
  • A flashback in Billy & Howard features this. Three goons decide to pick on Billy's friend. Billy goes nuts (and more than a little racist) and brutalizes all three.
  • Happens twice in Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy: first when Azoth's gang try to ambush Durzo Blint, the most accomplished wetboy (magical assassin) ever, and again in the third book when the next generation of child gangers try to ambush Kylar who has taken Durzo's place.
  • In David Eddings' Polgara the Sorceress, the titular character is riding alone through a forest when two bandits attempt to rob/rape her. She calmly states that she is glad that she finally found some food and disguises herself and her horse as monsters with an illusion, sending the pair running.
    • Eddings averted this early in the Elenium. Some street thugs decide to mug that guy on the warhorse who just rode into town. Sparhawk tells them he's not interested in playing, as he throws back his cape to reveal armor and broadsword. The thugs decide to go elsewhere.
    • And then played it straight (but as a non-mugging example) in the sequel, the Tamuli. A character makes a not-quite-audible, but clearly offensive remark about Ehlana, Sparhawk's queen and also his wife. Another character calls for a moment of silence in memory of the loud-mouthed oaf who made the comment; the oaf doesn't get the hint until he's told just exactly who Sparhawk is.
  • In Good Omens members of The Mafia would routinely comment on how Aziraphale has such a lovely bookstore... and then would never be seen or heard from again...
  • Happens a lot in the Discworld novels.
    • In Guards Guards , a crook tries to rob what turns out to be a fire-breathing dragon. It doesn't go well. This trope is also part of why Carrot Ironfoundersson had an uneventful 500-mile journey from the Copperhead Mountains to Ankh-Morpork.

 People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind a rock then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

    • In Reaper Man, a gang tries to rob Windle Poons, who is not only an elderly wizard but one who has recently come back from the dead as a zombie.
    • In Maskerade, some muggers target a pair of frail old ladies, one of is Granny Weatherwax.
    • In Feet of Clay, a group of crooks tries to rob The Bucket, the local pub for coppers. They bust in only to find it full of off-duty police offers who don't take kindly to having their boozing interrupted. And then, to top it off, they take Angua hostage, presuming that she wouldn't be as dangerous as Carrot or Vimes. No-one told them that she's a werewolf. The audience calmly ignored them (apart from a few who made quips to the effect of "Don't play with your food.").
      • Some jewel thieves later make the same mistake about Angua in Jingo — they end up confessing to any crime suggested (even in cases where they have to guess what was stolen or lie about their gender) while begging to be let out of the vault.
    • And in Men At Arms, members of the Assassins' Guild gather in their courtyard to threaten the Watchmen, or possibly kill them "for trespassing" if Vimes won't back off and leave. Then they realize that one of the Watchmen is Detritus... and their elegantly-crafted stilettos and sophisticated poisons will do diddly-squat to a troll.
    • In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, a Genre Savvy highwayman robbing the coach Keith, Maurice, and the rats are on goes through a sort of checklist to see if there are wizards, witches, trolls, werewolves, or vampires on the coach[2]. Too bad he didn't check for Talking Animals...
    • It happens twice in Lords and Ladies; first, Casanunda, the "World's Second Greatest Lover", attacks a coach full of wizards. After a display of octarine fire conrol, the dwarf joins them, whereupon they are attacked by a band of highwaymen — the leader of which is turned into a pumpkin for his trouble, retaining his hat in accordance with the Universal Laws of Humor.
    • In Carpe Jugulum, a highwayman tries to rob the visiting Count and his family of vampires, and that doesn't end well. Then his ghost tries to rob Death. Death is more amused than anything, complimenting the man on his (relative) vitality in trying to stick to his guns post-mortem.
    • The New Firm in The Truth end up on both sides of this trope — they're attempt-mugged by a member of the Thieves' Guild, which does not go well for the thief, and later walk the into Biers during business hours and openly try to intimidate a Werewolf to work for them, which does not go well for them.
    • In the original past of Night Watch some thieves tried to rob John Keel; he made short work of them. In the modified past, Carcer claims that some thieves tried to attack HIM — "at least, they had some money with them". He was among the thieves who attacked Keel and killed him.
    • Andy Shank and company trying to beat up Nutt in Unseen Academicals.
    • There's also a variation in Jingo, where the (relatively) good guys Colon and Nobby try to mug some Klatchians in an alleyway to get their clothes in order to go undercover, but the Klatchians get the better of them and they lose their own clothes instead.
    • Happens between the Summoning Dark and Vimes in Thud. A subversion, as Vimes unconsciously drives the anicient hate monster from his mind...In later books, it's his FRIEND!
    • Yet another one in Hogfather where Susan Sto Helit stops for a drink in a bar popular among various kinds of supernatural monsters. A drunken bogeyman mistakes her for a human girl slumming among monsters for a thrill and makes increasingly scornful and lewd comments to her, despite the warnings of the bartender, who knows that Susan is only mostly human. The bogeyman gets an unpleasant surprise both in the bar and later when he hides under the beds of the children Susan is caring for as a governess. Perhaps the bartender should have told him whose granddaughter he was messing with.
      • Susan's father got subjected to this trope first in Mort. Lampshaded by the author: Three men had appeared behind him ... They had the heavy, stolid look of those thugs whose appearance in any narrative means that it's time for the hero to be menaced a bit, although not too much, because it's also obvious that they're going to be horribly surprised. They threaten to kill him. Mort is Death's apprentice. It goes about as well as you imagine.
    • In Going Postal Moist von Lipwig is discussing a special mail coach to Genua. The danger of bandits is brought up, and one of the brothers operating the coaches points out that there aren't any bandits on that road any more, which is good. The other isn't so sure, since they never found out what wiped them out. This is the road through Uberwald, no less.
  • Subverted in Lawrence Watt Evans's Ethshar novel The Misenchanted Sword. The protagonist has a magical sword that won't let him die till he's killed 98 more people, and he wanders back alleys looking for trouble, acting like an old man, a big purse of gold on his hip, expecting this trope. He doesn't run into anyone.
    • Doubly subverted when he later runs into some thugs robbing an elderly lady. Also played straight with said elderly lady.
  • In one of the Troubleshooters books, someone attempts to mug Jules Cassidy, who's short, gay, and looks like he could be in a boy band. Jules, however, is an FBI agent.
  • Happens to Repairman Jack about once every book, starting in the first installment where he does it on purpose to draw out the mugger who stole a MacGuffin from his client.
    • A later novel reveals that Jack goes out and gets himself mugged in the park each year, to raise money for the Little League in the form of his would-be muggers' wallets and jewellery.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Children of the Night, a shapeshifting souleater vampire who leaves a group and comes back sated is said by the group's leader to have been "trolling for rapists" in the form of an attractive young woman. The doubting member of the group, who is repulsed and uncomfortable about basically murdering random people but needs to feed, thinks this sounds like a good idea, and so he wanders Central Park until a junkie attacks him and is killed.
    • In Mercedes Lackey's Brightly Burning, Lavan is cornered by a pack of school bullies who pin him down and beat him with a lash. His panic results in a violent breakthrough manifestation of his Firestarting gift that he's the only survivor of.
    • Lackey likes this trope. In The Last of the Season, what could be more helpless than a cute six year old girl holding a teddy bear?
  • The Warlock has a couple street thugs attempt to mug Mars Ultor.
  • Iron Fist starts with an attempt by Imperial elements to capture or kill the Wraiths; they send a cyborg to the bar where the Wraiths are enjoying themselves, have the cyborg start a fight, and then show up dressed as the local police to arrest everyone. But the Wraiths cotton on to the fact that something's not right. The roster at the time included Runt, Piggy, an expert in hand-to-hand combat, and Phanan, who promptly cut someone's throat with a laser scalpel.
  • In Diane Duane's Spider-Man novel The Octopus Agenda, three punks try to assault Venom. With switchblades. Yeah, that doesn't go so well for them.
  • In Tanya Huff's Blood Debt, an unfortunate car thief makes off with a van, moments before sundown... unaware that there's a vampire asleep in the back.
  • In Jhereg, young Vlad turned out to be the Monster when accosted by a drunken old Dragaeran sailor. The belligerent Easterner-hater took a header off a cliff, as Vlad scored his first confirmed homicide.
    • Later, while on the run from the Jhereg, he gets his money robbing bandits. The beginning of Iorich suggests that this is usually a consequence of their failed attempts to rob him.
    • And in the Viscount of Adrilankha, Piro and company attempt to rob a merchant wagon that turns out to contain his dad and Pel, who'd set the whole thing up with the express intent of getting attacked.
  • An Italian pickpocket is compelled by an unscrupulous police detective to stage a botched theft from a gentleman whose fingerprints the cop wants to collect covertly. The detective doesn't warn the soon-to-be-late filcher that the target is none other than Hannibal Lecter, with entirely predictable consequences.
  • In a related variant, the house of Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I., is occasionally broken into, as it's situated in a bad neighborhood. Only out-of-town criminals do so lightly, however, due to the resident Dead Man's vast telekinetic powers and nasty sense of humor.
  • The Six Sacred Stones. The team crash land in Darkest Africa, and run into a rape gang. Zoe decides to draw their attention while Wizard sneaks out the back with the kids. Did I mention she used to be called Bloody Mary in the Irish Army? Those poor souls didn't stand a chance.
  • In Maximum Ride, Max takes a stand to protect a girl being threatened by several bigger boys, one of whom is carrying a gun. Max is a genetically engineered hybrid with superhuman strength and agility and has been trained for some time how to use it. The boys basically tell her to bugger off. Cue the buttkicking.
    • Although to be fair, she did end up getting shot by one of them later. Doesn't tend to work as well when someone has a gun.
  • In Rainbow Six, three Spanish terrorists attempt to hijack a plane. A plane that has a former SEAL, former SAS major, and former Army Special Forces on board. The end result: three unconscious Spanish terrorists.
    • In an earlier Tom Clancy novel, Without Remorse, that same former SEAL is much younger and going about his Roaring Rampage of Revenge for his murdered Love Interest. He is staggering down the street disguised as a wino when a cop grabs him by the shoulder, thinking he might be the serial crook-killer they're looking for. Said cop finds himself pinned face down on the concrete before he can figure out what happened.
    • In an earlier scene in the same novel, a mugger is assaulting a woman when Kelly happens along and intervenes. In an excess of drug-fueled bravado, the mugger turns on him, only to find himself stone cold dead in a matter of seconds. Ironically, this good deed is what gives the cops a clue about Kelly's identity and modus operandi.
  • Elminster in Myth Drannor:

 Brigand: (stopping a lone rider) Get down or die.

Elminster: (knocking down three men with a spell) I believe a more traditional greeting consists of the words "well met."

    • At the beginning of Elminster's Daughter, a thief named Narnra Shalace again tries to rob Elminster. He easily fends her off and is about to knock her out when a weird magical interaction reveals that she's his daughter.
  • In Star Trek Deep Space Nine novel The Siege, a Psycho for Hire Shapeshifter Meta turns into a girl and befriends a Bajoran girl and her mother. At this point a Cardassian barges in and decides to rape them all, starting with Meta. The Cardassian is ripped apart. From the inside.
  • The Clark Ashton Smith short story "Monsters in the Night" has a monster (a werewolf) mug another monster: a Terminator-esque robot.
  • In Snow Crash, a white supremacist hick picks on the super-swordsman Hiro Protagonist. Hiro waits just long enough for the hick to threaten his life so he can decapitate him with just cause.
    • One reason Hiro prefers his swords is their tendency to avert this trope; skinheads aside, most lowlife types aren't dumb enough pick fights with someone who is obviously carrying a pair of swords. And even the skinhead might not have tried it without a roomful of buddies, not that they improved his life expectancy any.
    • The Japanese businessman who picks a virtual swordfight with Hiro is another example: while the businessman isn't nearly as good as he thinks, Hiro is awesome in real life and also wrote the code for swordfighting in the virtual world.
  • Has bittersweet results for Lale in The Assassins of Tamurin. The sweet — she kills the guy. The bitter — the subsequent "My God, What Have I Done??"
  • The first chapter of a novel bridging a film and its sequel has a Somali pirate attempting to plunder a ship with a black pickup truck and a light green emergency-crew Hummer on deck. Oh, did I mention the films this novel was bridging were the Transformers movies?
    • It specifically notes that one man who survived not only quit piracy, but, for the rest of his life, crossed the street whenever he encountered a pickup truck to maximize distance from it.
  • In Raven's Gate, someone tries to mug the witch that goes to pick up Matt at the beginning. He appears to have committed suicide involuntarily.
  • Either inverted or played straight in Oleg Divov's Night Watcher: a vampire decides to stalk a drunken cop, whom the readers already know to be a Badass Normal and The Big Guy. The cop mistakes the fruity vampire for a gay stalker and decides to teach him a lesson before he causes any trouble, preemptively attacking, beating him up and dragging him off to the station. Mind you, the vampire was mostly taken by surprise, and might have turned the tables later, if not for this cop encountering his colleague Captain Kotov along the way; Kotov quickly realizes what's going on and finishes the vampire off.
  • In the Antony Horowitz novel Raven's Gate, someone tries to mug Mrs Deverill, who is basically an Eldritch Abomination. She mind rapes him into committing suicide with his knife. One inch at a time.
  • Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell has a group of street thugs gang up on Saul. He then breaks their fingers, takes their wallets, and comes up with seventy dollars.
  • Happens in the Star Wars book Shatterpoint. Corrupt police think they can steal Mace Windu's things while he is in customs because he is naked and unarmed. They soon learn that a Jedi Knight does not need clothes or a lightsaber to kick ass.
  • In Jack Vance's The Demon Princes cycle, there's a brief description of the time a thirteen-year-old Kirth Gersen — who is being trained for his eventual Roaring Rampage of Revenge — and his grandfather — who is doing the training — are attacked by a mugger. Gersen breaks a number of the man's bones, ending with his neck, while grandfather watches.
  • In Wolfblade, a Warhammer 40K novel, while on Terra 3, Space Wolves are out at a pub having a quiet dinner. Some morons try to start a brawl with them. Note, said Wolves are Astartes, are about 8 or 9 feet tall, are superstrong and fast, and were wearing their power armor. Needless to say, the morons got their brawl.
  • In the Stephen King short story "Popsy", Sheridan, who has been abducting and selling children to pay off his gambling debts, kidnaps a young boy from a shopping mall. Unfortunately for him, the boy is a vampire and manages to break his restraints and turn the tables on his kidnapper just in time for his grandfather, the eponymous Popsy, to come pick him up. The two vampires exsanguinate Sheridan.
  • Thieves' World book 3 Shadows of Sanctuary, story "Looking for Satan". Wess, a naive young woman just arrived in Sanctuary, goes out for a walk at night. She is attacked by Bauchle Mayne (a criminal her group had run into earlier) and his accomplice. After she knees Bauchle Mayne in the groin and slashes the accomplice with a knife, the accomplice drags Bauchle Mayne away as fast as they can go.
  • Happens somewhat early on in Jack Higgins's On Dangerous Ground when a Neo-Nazi thug grabs a woman. She responds by kissing him, turning out to be a distraction ploy for her to grab her flick knife tucked up her skirt, which she later uses to cut his face. It is revealed later on that she is a former member of a loyalist paramilitary force in Northern Ireland.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, a few chaps threatened to carve up a scrawny "pretty boy". Then Jack got "funny light" in the eyes, pulled out of his pocket a big knife gleaming with starlight — indoors — and grinned...
  • "The Last Defender of Camelot" by Roger Zelazny begins with a trio of muggers picking on a harmless-looking old man who turns out to be the last surviving Knight of the Round Table — and not just any knight, but Sir Lancelot du Lac, who never lost a fight in his entire life.
  • Happens a few times to Fleming in The Vampire Files series, both in the city and when he's jumped by tramps on his parents' unoccupied farm. A Vegetarian Vampire, he doesn't actually hurt such attackers, just scares the living shit out of 'em.
  • In The Visitor, the second book in the Animorphs series, a young man attempts to persuade Rachel to get into his car. When the creep doesn't take no for an answer, she scares the living daylights out of him by morphing halfway into an elephant. Considering that she could have completed the morph and stomped him flat or just gone grizzly bear on him, the jerk got off easy.
  • Happens on a species level in many science-fiction stories, a noteworthy one being Turtledove's "The Road Not Taken". Aliens, who note that humans are so primitive they don't even have antigravity or FTL (which is so easy to discover that on some planets hunter-gatherers have stumbled onto it) figure it will be a routine invasion. So they march out of their landing ships, arrange themselves in rows, and raise their blackpowder muskets. On 21st century Earth. It is a very short invasion.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer',' a group of thieves try to rob everyone at the Requiem Ball. Said Ball contains all sorts of magic-users whose abilities range from wielding various elements to other fancy abilities such as Shapeshifting and 'Sensitivity' (precognition). An arse-kicking ensues.
  • 1632: Doesn't it sound like a nice recreation for overworked sixteenth-century mercenaries to Rape Pilage And Burn around this small peaceful town in which everybody just happens to own and know how to use twentieth century firearms?
  • In one of the Judge Dredd novels, bad things happen whenever Dredd tries to take a bath including one incident when some thieves attempted to burgle his apartment. Needless to say they ended up serving long sentences.
  • Curse of the Wolfgirl has a couple of rather yobbish Alpha Bitches relentlessly bully Agrivex, a young fire-demon currently pretending to be human to attend college, which surprisingly works out all right for them since 'Vex is a sweet natured girl who really doesn't understand nastiness or is prepared to hurt people. Then they try it on 'Vex's friend Kalix. Kalix is a werewolf with anger issues. This works out substantially less well for them.
  • In Septimus Heap, Ruper Gringe shouts at Simon Heap when the latter is attacking the Dragon Boat Rupert is on, taunting him to fight "like a man". Only being thrown into the water by Nicko Heap saves him from being incinerated by Simon's subsequent ThunderFlash.

Live-Action TV

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. One of Terry Gilliam's animations had a mugger saying "Hands up!" to a victim. The victim puts his hands up — and then another pair of hands (and arms), and another... then slams all of his hands on the mugger's head.
  • Alias Smith and Jones likes this one. The scenario usually goes that some random tough decides the too-clever-for-his-own good dark-haired cowboy is winning far to much at poker and accuses him of cheating. The cowboy's baby-faced blond partner then suggests that said accusation is taken back, the local tough declines the option and tells him to go for his gun. In the ensuing fast draw stand-off said gun is the pointed at the local tough before he has even had the chance to touch his own. Well done, you have just tried to draw against Kid Curry, the fastest gun in the west.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is built on this very trope. Joss Whedon has often stated that he felt sorry for that pretty, blonde girl in every horror movie who is inevitably monster food and wanted to make a movie (which later became this show) about letting her finally be the one to open up a can of whoop-ass on her attacker. Announcing this switcheroo of intent, it opens with a pair of apparent high school students, a nefarious young man who lures a timid, helpless-looking, blonde girl into a darkened school building. Once he assures her they are completely alone, that no one is going to catch them, she (Darla) turns on him and drinks his blood.
    • Faith is actually introduced this way. A vampire seemingly seduces her in a club, and Buffy follows them out to an alley, only to see Faith stake the vampire and walk off.
    • Played with in one season 6 episode, where Buffy rescues a woman from vampires... and holds back the lethal force at the last second when she realises the "vampires" are just ordinary muggers.

 Buffy: But come on, rush me. It'll be funny.

  • Angel: Rogue Slayer Faith arrives in Los Angeles, homeless, broke, and shivering from the cold. A pimp at the bus station spies her predicament and tries to prey on her vulnerability in order to lure her into his employ. Cut to Faith leaving the station with his wallet full of cash, his leather jacket, and the keys to a flat whose owner won't be returning anytime soon. Bonus points are awarded for attacking him while his arms are trapped in his sleeves, as he attempts You Must Be Cold.
    • When Connor first arrives in Los Angeles, he finds a drug dealer and his henchmen brutalizing an addict who won't pay up. They tell him to leave, and when he won't, attack him. Of course, Connor is also known as The Destroyer in a hell dimension, and has spent his entire life hunting down demons we couldn't imagine...
    • In Las Vegas, two bouncers of a rather shady casino attack Angel. Cue vamp face.
  • And to complete the Whedonverse trifecta: In Firefly, a gang of thieves holds up a family in a wagon... unaware that they're our Big Damn Heroes in disguise. A crossdressing Malcolm Reynolds utters the memorable line "If your hand touches metal, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you."
  • The episode "The Big Wheel" of Criminal Minds had a pair of thugs trying to rob the episode's Serial Killer, an unstable obsessive-compulsive. The leader of the mugger duo gets knifed in the chest.
  • Towards the end of an episode of Homicide: Life On the Street Munch and some of the other detectives are walking out of a bar after having had a few post-work drinks when they notice a youth loitering around them, clearly with the intent of getting some easy money from these easy targets. After first sn****ring about the youth's obvious lack of intelligence, Munch brazenly walks up to the kid, flashes his badge and sneers "Yo, we're cops. Go mug someone else."
    • In another episode, in response to a series of murders of priests, members of the homicide unit are acting as decoys dressed as priests in various parts of town. Two youths accost Detective Munch at a bus stop.

 Mugger: Hey Father, you know what time it is?

Munch: (pulls out gun) It's Glock time, you son of a bitch.

  • The X-Files episode "Terms of Endearment" involves a part-demon man who would extract the demonic fetuses of his wives before they could be born and reveal his secret. Until he tries it on one woman who wakes up during the extraction process. "I said, what are you doing, Wayne?" In the end, she escapes with the baby, and Mulder and Scully conclude that he finally found someone more evil than he.
  • In Being Human, Owen is a scum of a man who murders Annie and, even after seeing her as a ghost, continues to hurt her going so far as to indirectly tell her that he cheated on her before her death while comfortingly holding his new girlfriend (and Annie's old friend). He believes that Annie can do nothing to him since she is shy and insecure. Until she digs up some courage and has George and Mitchell stand behind her. Suddenly, Owen finds himself confronted with a werewolf, a vampire, and his former fiancée who stare him down before Annie tells him "the secret only the dead know", which is apparently horrific. Sometime shortly after, Owen is incarcerated into the nut house.
  • In the pilot episode of Burn Notice, a drug dealer named "Sugar" learns to his everlasting detriment that one does not mess with Michael Westen, no matter how much of a pushover Michael may look like.
    • In another episode a groups of Russian mercenaries are quite aware how dangerous Michael is and come prepared. However, they do not realize that the man they kidnap alongside Michael is actually an important business associate of one of the heads of the Russian Mafiya. No matter how things turn up they are royally screwed either way.
  • In one episode of Dexter this was toyed with, as though both Dexter and the perp knew one another (he being a member of an escaped victim's gang). Dexter plays it off as an attempted mugging, leading to many trope-invoking comments from the other Miami PD.
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, similar to the Terminator example, the three protagonists teleport to the future and arrive naked. Three street thugs confront the naked hot girl Cameron, who turns out to be a powerful robot. She beats them up and steals their clothes.
    • Later on, the leader of an organized crime group threatens the Connors by saying he's got an assassin watching Sarah's children and, if they don't comply with his demands, will have them both kidnapped/killed. Unfortunately for both the crime boss and his luckless assassin, they have no idea that one of Sarah's "children" is Cameron, and she is far better at spotting lurking threats than the assassin. The next scene we see of Cameron has her nonchalantly stuffing the assassin's brutalized corpse in the trunk of his car.
    • Lampshaded by Derek, who amusedly points out that the assassin has no idea what he's walking into.
  • Jekyll: "He's got a knife. Minimum necessary force." Of course, it's Mister Hyde's definition of minimum necessary force.
  • In the Doctor Who story "Silver Nemesis", a pair of men try to mug the time-traveling 17th century villain Lady Peinforte and her criminal servant Richard. The next time we see the men, they're hanging by their ankles from a tree, Bound and Gagged, in only their underpants as their clothes burn in a pile beneath them.
    • The expression on Richard's face when the robber demands money and pulls a knife on him is actually quite charming. After a long time being a Fish Out of Temporal Water, he's finally encountered a situation he understands.
  • From 1000 Ways to Die, a mugger tries to rob a sweet, friendly-looking old woman... who happens to be a fifth degree black belt and has been practicing for most of her life. Needless to say, it's a Curb Stomp Battle, and ends with the old lady punching the mugger in the throat, crushing his larynx with his Adam's apple. Crowning Moment of Awesome also applies. Also from this show, a rapist attacks a crossdresser, who happens to be a champion boxer. "I ain't NO lady!" Cue the rapist on the asphalt in the alley and dead.
  • NCIS
    • In the episode "Blowback", Ziva and McGee are out on an Op when three punks try to sexually harrass Ziva. As in, a lady who used to kill terrorists for a living.
    • In another case a hitman was hired to kidnap Abby. By the time Gibbs and Tony found them, Abby has subdued him with her taser.
  • Star Trek Voyager has the episode "Scorpion". In the opening credits two Borg Cubes advance on something offscreen, while saying their usual "You Will Be Assimilated" greeting. Just as the cubes get to "resistance is...", said something blows both cubes up. And then It Gets Worse.
  • Happened several times on Charmed.
  • In Babylon 5, the Streib are a race that kidnaps specimens from other races and experiments on them. Then they tried that on the Minbari. As Delenn puts it, the Minbari "made sure they understood the depth of their mistake."
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Memento Mori", Vala, an intergalactic con artist and mercenary, loses her memory and settles into a "life" as a diner waitress in a small town. Two armed thugs decide it is a good idea to rob from everybody there. Vala knocks one of them unconscious and holds one of their weapons against another one's head without breaking a sweat (as the detective questioning her puts it).
  • In the Farscape episode "I-Yensch, You-Yensch", a couple of petty crooks try to rob a bar and grill where Scorpius, Braca, D'Argo, and Rygel are attempting to engage in tense negotiations. However the crooks' incompetence ends up making the situation even more dangerous and volatile, despite how superior the regulars are to them.
  • Human Target introduces Baptiste, notorious talented assassin for hire, by having a mugger ask for his wallet and watch. Baptiste takes the mugger's gun, removes the clip in about half a second, hands it back, and tells the mugger to run along.
    • It was worse than that. Baptiste doesn't even take it out of the mugger's hands. He just waits until he is distracted by something then dismantles the gun in a fraction of a second by hitting the magazine release, the slide release, and pulling the slide off. He does this so fast it looks like he just touched the gun and it fell apart on it's own.
  • In an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, an alien race called the Husnock attack a Federation colony which happens to be inhabited by an omnipotent entity posing as a married, elderly man. The pacifistic entity refuses to fight, until he discovers his human wife among the casualties. The entity reacts by utterly obliterating the entire Husnock species.
  • In Volume Five of Heroes, a Rabid Cop locks the door of an interrogation room, disconnects the camera, and threatens to beat a murder confession out of his rather mild-mannered suspect. Too bad for him the suspect in question is Sylar (currently suffering Laser-Guided Amnesia, which is why he's so mild-mannered), who instinctively uses his telekinesis to toss the cop through the room's one-way mirror.
    • A pair of muggers target Mohinder after he injects himself with a Super Serum.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, a pair of low grade messenger boys for a local crime boss try to mug Jimmy Darmody (Jimmy's a World War I vet, has been The Dragon in two different major mobs already, is a ruthless personal friend of Al Capone, etc.) when he's coming out of a poker game a few bucks richer. Jimmy kills both of the gunmen with his combat knife and bare hands.
  • This occurs on Leverage when a Loan Shark targets Nate's favorite bar. Nate's father was also a loan shark, making things worse.
  • On an early episode of The West Wing a few guys get a bit aggressive when flirting with Zoey Bartlet and promptly end up arrested after Josh presses a panic button.
  • The pilot of Person of Interest. Some wannabe toughs start hassling a hobo on a New York subway. When one gets rough, the hobo, a Special Forces-trained ex-CIA operative named John Reese, takes them down with alarming rapidity.
  • A random passerby, while texting, brushes the tall, cadverous man in black, then has the nerve to tell him to watch where he's going. Nice job provoking Death, dumbass.
  • In Knight Rider, many a random criminal has tried to steal or damage KITT, who looks like a cool but normal car, but is actually both sentient and super tough. KITT's responses range from snapping at the crooks for disturbing him to deliberately freaking them out to simply sitting there and confusing them with his invulnerability all their attacks.
  • This is Omar's occupation in The Wire as a stickup boy. The best example is when he steals from drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield.


  • The premise of the song "Earth's Fire Breathing Daughter" by Leslie Fish. The titular sort-of-demigoddess entity buys a house in California with her coven and start enacting pagan rites. Neighbors complain and send the police after them on false drug charges. She triggers an earthquake and mudslide that kill the entire police force and destroy all the surrounding houses, while of course leaving hers entirely intact. (They deserve it.)
  • The music video for Skrillex's "First of the Year (Equinox)" is about a pedophile choosing the absolute worst victim possible.

Myths & Religion

  • Older Than Feudalism: This happened to Odysseus a few times in The Odyssey.
  • Theseus basically started his heroic career by dealing with a series of robbers on his way to Athens.
  • Contrast with Oedipus, who was much the same, only it was people who cut him off in traffic instead of robbers.

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games

  • A little forgivable if some conditions are present in Exalted. There are a few charms that allow the characters to keep their weapons and armor Elsewhere, and as a result bandits might not discover that the short, blonde, small-framed teenaged girl they are trying to mug/capture to sell as a slave/etc., is actually a Demi-God wielding a six feet giant golden sword capable of completely eradicating them (and the floor they are standing on) until it's too late.
    • That said, any Exalt ought to be able to warn off most moderately sensible muggers simply by flaring their Caste Mark. Jury is still out as to whether or not it's more satisfying than simply beating the stuffing out of them.
  • Also can happen in Old World of Darkness. It's very satisfying to, after your Ventrue businessman has been stopped in transit by robbers with shotguns, take their blast in the chest, get up without any visible effect and rip them into shreds. This is noted to be one of the main reasons why Ventrue take Fortitude.[3]
  • Considering how ultra-antagonistic gangs are in-universe, Shadowrun's random encounters for new players is pretty much all about this. The Halloweeners are this trope invoked for even the squishiest of mage or decker.
  • Metallic dragons intentionally invoke this trope in Dungeons and Dragons. One of their favorite tricks in combating evil is to use their Shapeshifting ability (many metallics have this upon birth) to turn into something that seems weak. When some evil idiot takes the bait, they don't have very long to live.
    • It's actually a part of their mythology. One story involves an apparently harmless old man who would entertain travelers with his seven trained canaries. Then a band of ogres, led by an ogre mage, started down the road to kill or rob all the folks on it... and found that the old man was the metallic dragon god Bahamut, and those canaries were all great wyrm gold dragons in disguise.
    • Al-Qadim has a tale about "why dragons so rarely appear over the place". A big red from North flew in only to immediately get himself into troubles with the local populace. Until he was reduced to telling his woes to the next creature he met. The "child" heard the story, gently told the dragon those people did in fact go easy on him because he doesn't know better and there's folk whom they obey without question — and helped the poor battered, hungry and tired lizard, returning him to the sweet home. On an intercontinental guided whirlwind. The moral, of course, is "try not to annoy genies, or just in case, anyone".
    • Forgotten Realms on top of "usual" dangers (such as archmages going about their private business in magical disguise or creatures that would send townpeople into screaming run if they didn't resort to mimicry) has people well aware of their world's trends and holding a lot of power while not caring at all to advertise it.

  If you accost a barefoot laborer digging in the mud of a turnip field and stained glass golems suddenly lurch out of nearby sheds or the columns of a barn come to life, and gemstones float out of the man's pockets to circle his head and spit lightning at you — well, you've found one of those fabled jewelers of Irl...

    • There's also a possibility of Urban Encounters with Muggers all being 4 to 6 levels below the party.
  • The 4th edition of GURPS Magic introduces the chapter on fire magic with a story about a wizard in a modern setting having a knife put on her throat in a mugging. Unfortunately for the mugger, she can breathe fire.
  • In the Warhammer 40000 RPG Dark Heresy, this is actually the PCs job. And it has the expected results until you figure out that flipping off a Daemon is a Bad Plan and maybe you should try shooting the guy that just summoned it in the head. From over there. Waaay over there.
    • A more human example, the fluff sometimes makes notes of many former Imperial Guardsmen settling down on planets they conquered. This led to some robbers finding out the hard way that a bar called The 127th is named after a certain platoon, that the grumpy old men are veterans of battles against unimaginable horrors and that the lasgun above the bar is not a replica.
  • In Traveller Vargr hardly ever raid Zhodani. The reason why is that when they do they know that the Zhodani will take years tracking down the perps. Then when they do this their retribution, will be sure, whether it takes the form of Death From Above or the more frightening form of kidnapping Vargr and brainwashing them.
  • In any of the Star Wars RPGs, a Jedi can look like anything. Keep that in mind when the off-world stranger you're harassing in a bar says "You REALLY don't want to do this."
  • Tormented Pariah from Magic the Gathering's Innistrad set. The flavour text says it all, really:

 "Hey lads, the moon's rising. All the better to watch him beg for mercy. Just look at him, groveling on all fours! What a pathetic--uh-oh."


Urban Legends

  • Speaking of pirates, as late as 1630 there were two recorded viliages in England that had the skin of a captured raider nailed to their church door.
    • At least one of those villages wouldn't actually count as this trope since a few years ago someone decided to run some tests on a fragment that had survived around one of the nail and found that it was actually de-haired calf skin. It was probably nailed to the door and the rumour spread around as a form of psychological warfare against potential raiders.
  • Paul Hager, a pro-gun Libertarian from Indiana related this anecdote:

 The most interesting — or bizarre, take your pick — story was told by an acquaintance with whom I took a defensive pistol course. Late one evening he got onto an elevator in a parking garage to go to his car. A man who had been waiting in the shadows quickly got on the elevator behind him. Just as soon as the doors closed, the man pulled a knife. Before the man had time to say anything, my acquaintance pulled his own pistol. There ensued the proverbial pregnant pause. The man then said, "Do you want to buy a knife?" A moment later, with nothing else being said, the doors opened and the man got off.

  • There is also a famous story under Aikikai (practitioners of Aikido) that one of Osensei's original students was nearly robbed in the Paris subway... emphasis on the "nearly." Imagine a seventy-something year old Japanese sitting alone in the subway, when three would-be muggers showed up with knifes, demanding his money. Then imagine the old frail man simply snapping their wrists in precise, efficent motions.
  • The U.S. military holds very large areas of desert in the southwest that are used for training exercises. The areas are bigger than they really need, so some parts are used rarely. Meth labs sometimes move in. And fight small-scale gang wars. Until they accidentally fire on real soldiers, and then they learn about things like indirect mortar fire, and air support.
  • Ever wonder why you so seldom hear about Russian diplomats being kidnapped? According to tales it is because when that happens, the Russians simply abduct terrorists and or their relations-and start mailing fingers to the terrorists who claim responsibility. You do not want to mess with Mother Russia. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.

Video Games

  • Several RPGs feature highwaymen (or similar) as an encounter/enemy. Once you get powerful enough, they start following this trope.
  • In Oblivion, merely being the Hero of Kvatch, Archmage of the Mage's Guild, Guildmaster of the Fighter's Guild, Champion of the Arena, the Divine Crusader, Champion of Cyrodiil and, (in the expansion) Sheogorath's heir, the new God of Madness, isn't enough to make highway robbers leave you alone.
    • It could be a bit of a subversion: thanks to the feature that makes the enemies level up with you, bandits can still be quite tough for a while (although most NPCs have their levels capped, so at higher levels this trope is still in effect).
    • Though the robbers get downright silly at high levels. They always ask for 100 gold, no matter when it is that you face them. At low levels, this can be a burden to pay. At higher levels, 100 gold is practically spare change. Plus, since the robber's equipment levels with you, the people demanding one hundred gold are wearing glass armor that's worth thousands.
    • In Skyrim, you can actually respond to a random highwayman ambush by telling the moronic robber that "I don't have time for this" and walk away.
      • Or intimidating them into letting you go. Or pointing out that you run the Thieves' guild...
  • Random brigands attack all through Baldur's Gate I and II, despite the fact that you're equipped with glowing weaponry, armor made from dragonscales, and frequently outnumber them.
    • They finally get wise in the Throne of Bhaal expansion, when the closest thing to random bandit encounters is when a group of vampires lure you in, then realize who you really are, and their leader gives a Rousing Speech that includes something about her and her allies being mercilessly slaughtered.
      • Also, while in Saradush you can make thugs and ruffians piss their pants by announcing that you are a Bhaalspawn.
    • In Baldur's Gate II you will occasionaly encounter thugs while moving around in the city, who will try to kill and mug you. If you are strong and well-known enough, the thugs will have half the brain to say "It's CHARNAME, run for your lives!!!"
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has serial killer Eddie Low have much hype about being a terror in Liberty City (he's killed a dozen people, most either unsuspecting joggers or hitchhikers). The optional encounters with him ends with his trying to kill Niko, who fought in the Balkans and is now a freelance "problem solver" (read:he's killed a few hundred people, at least, most of which include armed thugs and police). It's pretty obvious how this one turns out.
  • Somewhat averted in World of Warcraft: The range from which NPCs attack you depends on the level difference between the attacker and the "victim". With enough levels, players practically have to walk into enemies to get them to attack. The mechanic also works the other way around, creating a powerful incentive for low-level characters to stay away from high-level areas.
    • Similar rules in City of Heroes, where an opponent of sufficiently low comparative level will simply pretend you aren't there unless you attack them first. (Presumably your heroic reputation precedes you and they're thinking "Oh shit, it's Hyperman; please don't see me mugging the old lady, PLEASE don't see me...")
      • Although in some cases a player would be ambushed by mooks following certain missions, who would follow the player until defeated or left behind by zoning. Usually at a player-appropriate level. Sometimes...not so much. Leading to scenes involving a group of high level (30+) characters standing around as their players chat, surrounded by mooks of level 1 attacking them relentlessly and futily.
    • And in Fusion Fall, where the difference in level between you and a monster directly relates to the range at which they will become agressive. Naturally, if a monster is ten levels tougher than you are, he'll chase you down and grind you into paste, but won't so much as notice you if the reverse is true.
  • The Darkness has a hilarious example. Whilst walking relatively peaceful streets of New York City, the player, a mafia hitman turned world killing god of darkness with Combat Tentacles and worse, can be attacked by a simple mugger. The results are... predictable.
  • Deus Ex Invisible War has this at the very beginning. You encounter a group of thugs who then threaten you into handing over some money. You are an augmented super agent, armed with at least a few guns. Leads to one of the best lines in the game. "You picked the wrong person to mug, punk."
    • There is another part later on that might count as this. You need to buy tickets to gain access to the laser guarded WTO HQ. The main ticket seller has been killed and replaced with a thug who grossly overcharges. You can sneak in through a vent, kill all the thugs, and press the button to deactivate the lasers yourself.
  • Whenever you have to backtrack far in Pokémon, the wild mons hit this. "Oh my, a Level 5 Caterpie. Do your thing, Level 62 Charizard."
    • Also, grinding early on makes for funny situations. You can also skip some early trainers, who then say that you look pretty easy and challenge you, only to find that you have a team of Level 100's.
      • In Heart Gold and Soul Silver, the first Pokémon in yout party follows you around on the overworld, outside of its Pokéball. This trope approaches Too Dumb To Live levels when Youngster Joey decides to take on you and your Olympus Mons.
  • Fallout 2 averts this with the New Reno crime families. If you are a made man of a family the other families will attack you on sight - unless you are wearing a Power Armor, in which case they will treat you with respectful politeness.
    • Fallout 3 plays it straight, though. No matter how well armed, armored, and guarded by followers you may be, Talon Company or the Regulators (or both if you've been both good and evil) will not hesitate to attack you if you fast travel in certain locations. May be somewhat justified in that they are hired guns. Played even straighter with one of the Random Encounters, which features what has to be the most suicidal mugger in the entire freaking universe. He will try to rob you with a shotgun that isn't loaded. Although finding this guy early in the game would have made sense, being a random encounter means you're far more likely to find him when you've already beaten half the game. You have the choice of either turning him into hamburger or telling him to jog on, and you can even point out that his gun isn't loaded. Seriously, by the end of the game, any time pretty much anyone short of Enclave troops or Super Mutants attacks you would count as this.
    • Fallout: New Vegas takes this a step further with the Freeside Thugs. When you first show up, you are attacked by 2 or 3 unarmored and unwashed thugs armed only with pool cues. They pose very little threat even at low levels, yet they will attack the Power Armored wearing bad ass with an Avenger Minigun, followed by a Nightkin Super Mutant with a BFS and heavily modified Eyebot. They last roughly the amount of time it takes for you to decide which of the numerous means of killing them you feel like using at that moment in time.
  • Early in Return to Krondor, two random muggers attempt to rob legendary thief Jimmy the Hand — who in fact scolds them for not recognizing a dangerous mark when they see one, yet they try it anyway.
  • Early in Dragon Age: Origins, you come across some bandits trying to extort "tolls" from refugees. When they try to pull this on your group (typically at that point consisting of a mage, a mage-hunter, a war dog and whatever the player character rolled as) one of your possible responses is basically "Are you serious? Look at us!"
    • You can actually turn the situation on its head, and demand that the bandits pay up.
    • You can, alternately, reveal to them that you're a Grey Warden. The Grey Wardens are, by the by, wanted for treason and apparently murdering the king, which you can point out to the bandits, at which point the leader will immediately crap himself, stand aside and bid you a good day and to "continue on with your king-killing ways."
    • And, if you're playing a mage, you can make this known to them. Cue the whimpers of "I don't wanna be a toad!"
    • Much later on in Dragon Age, when you've leveled up a lot more and your personal reputation has been well established, you can talk to a city guardsman named Sgt. Kylon in Denerim. Although there's still a bounty on your head for your supposed treason, he explains that he has no interest in attempting to arrest you. "If I asked my men to apprehend you, they'd all run and cry big, sobby tears in their courtesan's bosoms and leave me all alone to be skewered." You can then discuss collecting bounties on bandits. He asks you incredulously: "And people actually voluntarily attack you? Are they just stupid?" Finally, one of the side quests he can give you involves roughing up a local criminal organization. "I said beat down, not kill. Let me make that really clear. Not on fire, or exploded, or Maker knows whatever type of grisly death you can dream up... Sorry, used to giving orders to my boys."
    • If you imported your Fereldan Warden in Awakening, any non-Darkspawn trying to kill you will pretty much be trying this out, especially Bann Esmerelle and her lackeys. From before the start of the expansion, half the nation of Ferelden led by a hero, the Antivan Crows, (a faction of) the Blackstone Irregulars, some Orlesian assassins, a dragon-worshipping cult (and their dragon), the Witch of the Wilds, some Tevinter smugglers, a forest full of werewolves, a dwarven political faction, some maleficars, some golems, some demons and Maker only knows what else have all tried to kill you and all have failed. This isn't counting the countless darkspawn that all but died by your hand, and the archdemon itself, and some ass-headed jokers from Amaranthine think they could do any better?
      • While going as an Orlesian Warden means you have no such accomplishments under your belt, the conspirators and everyone else are forgetting something: (1) you're a Grey Warden and (2) you're Orlesian. Orlais is known for its Deadly Decadent Court, where assassinations, conspiracies and backstabbings are the order of the day, alongside some fancy new shoes and a cleavage enhancing dress, if we're to take Leliana's word, and you could strike back at your enemies like an Orlesian (like by taking people hostage). And being a Grey Warden is never something to take lightly, as there is a reason you were made one. And putting those aside, your first feat in Vigil's Keep is to near-singlehandedly take it back from the darkspawn, where everyone else was pretty much getting slaughtered until you pulled their bacon out of the fire.
    • And in Dragon Age II, if you wander around Kirkwall at night, you are routinely set on by muggers from various gangs. Sort of makes sense when you're a penniless refugee, less so when you're the champion of Kirkwall having singlehandedly dealt with dozens of threats to the city, and even less so near the end of the game when you are so ridiculously powerful that the local Knight Commander treats you with kid gloves.
      • Noteable for being able to actually wipe out all the criminal gangs, essentially ending the problem completely.
      • It actually sort of makes sense as the game progresses; in the first act, they're just standard bandits. But by the third act, the gangs have been replaced by brainwashed cults and slaver bands led by demons and blood mages.
    • The DLC Mark of the Assassin has Baron Arlange foolishly attempt to murder Hawke for being the first person to kill a Wyvern, when Arlange had bribed the competition so that he would be the winner. Lampshaded as everyone points out how idiotic this move is and warn him that he is nothing in comparison to the Wyvern you just killed, particularly if Hawke at this point is The Champion.
  • In Far Cry 2 randomly encoutered enemies may cower in fear and flee when they realize that their intended target is the legendary mercenary who is said to slaughter whole camps and maim opponents just for laughs. Provided your reputation is high, of course.
  • An unintentional version used to happen in City of Heroes. Certain missions would spawn an ambush waiting for the players when they exited the mission. What was supposed to happen is that the spawned mob would be at the appropriate level for the characters. On rare occasions, however, the ambush would be composed of critters of a rather lower level than the player(s). Like Level 1. Even if the player or group was level 50.
    • This bug was in or around Issue 5. All ambushes would spawn at the minimum level available for that group (Council - Level 1, Circle of Thorns, level 5). This also lead to an unintentional spoiler for anyone who hadn't completed the level 35-40 Rikti story arc if they got an ambush, as the game would through level 5 Lost at them.
  • Notably averted in Earthbound, where enemies will actually run away from you instead of engaging you in combat if you're powerful enough.
  • In Splinter Cell: Conviction, there is a flashback to 20 years ago when three of the world's unluckiest home invaders try to rob Sam Fisher's house. This flashback also serves as the tutorial to the "Mark and Execute" ability.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption this is how, after spending a thousand years asleep, your character gets his modern day clothes. He was lucky enough to be targetted by a mugger of similar size to him.
    • There's also an amusing encounter in the Middle Ages: as you get ready to storm the Big Bad's castle you are ambushed by three generic mooks, the leader of which snarls that he's going to avenge the True Deaths of more or less all of the ancient and powerful vampires you've defeated so far. As he's done enumerating them (which takes some time), his cronie wonders aloud if this is such a good idea after all...
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines includes a similar scene much later with an unofficial patch: the PC gets mugged by a member of the local gang in Chinatown down a dark alleyway, with no witnesses... One dialogue option is to Dominate him into giving you all of his money. Otherwise, he makes a good snack.
  • In The Witcher Geralt of Rivia is lured into an abandoned house by a thug who attempts to ambush him with a small pack of friends. Right before he butchers them all, Geralt points out that it was pretty stupid of them to pull that scheme on a Witcher.
  • The first groupings of mooks you fight in Tales of Eternia tend to be bandits and rogue mages. Why they choose to mug a kid carrying a two-foot long bowie knife and a buckler and his buddy who clearly knows several forms of karate is a mystery.
  • The list of people who threaten Commander Shepard and crew and are obliterated shortly thereafter in Mass Effect could fill a short book. In the first game, it's excusable, as Shepard doesn't have much of a reputation outside of the Alliance. In the second game, after Shepard saved the Citadel and killed Sovereign, opposing him/her in any way is probably grounds for a Darwin Awards.
    • The Reapers are justified being ridiculously powerful, Cthulhu-esque ships of extinction. Others, not so much. The best example of this in Mass Effect 2 has to be Warden Kuril of Purgatory. When Shepard goes to pick up and recruit Jack, not only does he refuse to release Jack into Shepard's custody, he attempts to capture him/her, hold him/her for ransom for the Illusive Man or sell the Commander to the highest bidder on the black market as a slave. Can you say Too Dumb to Live?
    • For Warden Kuril, that was Bullying a Dragon. Samara's loyalty mission, however, features a turian named Meln in the VIP area of a nightclub who will crassly proposition FemShep when she intervenes to keep him from sexually harassing (and possibly assaulting) an asari dancer. Cue Meln being punched, then thrown in the general direction of the door. And if Shepard is wearing a certain DLC outfit, then this is done by a woman in high heels and a Little Black Dress.
    • Lampshaded by Doctor Chakwas saying the Commander "doesn't have many enemies, alive ones anyway"
      • Garrus does it again if you pick the Renegade options when recruiting Jack:

 Shepard: I'm offering you the chance to be my friend. You don't want to be my enemy.

Garrus: They have a way of dying.

  • In Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, there are randomly encountered robbers who attack Ezio Auditore because he looks like a rich nobleman (which he essentially is, to be honest) and an easy mark (which he is hilariously not). This sometimes occurs even when he's on horseback, in which case he could just ride away... but him getting off of his horse only gives him more varied ways to butcher them. Worse yet for them, they somehow all have various baubles, trinkets and items he could make use of...
    • It only gets worse for the poor sods when Ezio starts recruiting Assassin apprentices, and as a result can wipe out the entire ambush party with a wave of his hand and a flurry of Hidden Blades or a storm of unseen arrows. (According to the community manager the apprentices are actually tailing Ezio discreetly, so they're actually ambushing the would-be ambushers.)
    • It's implied by the Thief Assignments (or rather that completing them all causes the attacks to cease) that the robbers are from the Cento Occhi ("Hundred Eyes") gang in Cesare Borgia's employ, though none of them seem to recognize Ezio as an Assassin despite him (and his apprentices) being the only one(s) in Rome to "show their colors."
  • In Mount and Blade, several of the unaffiliated wandering parties (read, bandits) can and will do this. The game seems to only read party size and occasionally the quality of troops in said party as the trigger for whether the bandits will pursue or flee from the player. This can lead to situations where Looters (the weakest NPC in the game, even below the much-abused peasant farmers and villagers), will attempt to pursue a lone player whose weapon alone is worth more than the belongings of the entire Looter party combined wearing armor that ignores an overwhelming percentage of the damage done by the Looters' bottom-tier weapons. Seriously. A handful of stones and a stick versus a guy in plate armor carrying a Sword of War. You might almost pity those Looters.
  • Occurs in the advertisement for Hybrid Heaven. The first page shows a little old lady about to be mugged. The next page shows the lady walking away from the mugger's remains.
  • Happens quite often in Red Dead Redemption. Even when people recognise Marston in the streets and his name is considered synonymous with badassery, people still love trying to mug him.
  • A frequent occurence in Pokémon games is for the enemy Mooks to demand your Pokemon if they win. Depending on how well you've trained and what Pokemon you have, this trope might apply more in some cases than others, but often their dialog consists of whining about how you were far stronger than they thought you'd be.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic a trio of Rodian punks start hassling the bounty hunter Calo Nord, who calmly tells them to go away and begins counting to three when they don't. Calo then blasts them all in under fives seconds and warns you to go away if you bother him as well.
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, it's justified since the various bandit gangs in Amalur have no way of knowing their lone mark is a Back From the Dead Badass capable of beating them to death with their own Fate. It does get a little ridiculous if you happen to be completely decked out in full Prismere gear.
  • Khelgar Ironfist's backstory in Neverwinter Nights 2 features him picking a Bar Brawl with a group of what turned out to be traveling Sun Soul monks. Mainly because they were (in his mind) insulting the establishment by drinking water. (Yes, he was somewhat inebriated at the time.) Long story short, they beat the crap out of him. Ironically this inspired Khelgar to try and become a monk himself.
  • In Police Quest II when Bonds is pursuing Bains in Steelton Park, you encounter a mugger who will mug you with his bare hands. Radioing your partner will scare him away and get arrested.

Visual Novels

Web Comics


 Mugger: AAAAAAAA!!! Demon Girl!!! Repent!!! Repent I Say!!! AAAAAAA!!!


 Durkon: One a' these days, yer just gonna end up trying ta rob like a level 16 fighter by accident and get massacred.


 Xykon: ...and it turned out oops! He was also an archmage! Needless to say, hilarity ensued.


Web Original

  • In the Whateley Universe, this happens from time to time:
    • A mugger tries to rob Jade and Jinn. The knock him unconscious, destroy his gun, and steal his wallet.
    • A pair of stick-up artists bump into Chou "Bladedancer" Lee while attempting to rob a diner.
    • A third-rate punk is silly enough to call Jadis "She-Beast" Diabolik a "little skank".
  • In Darwin's Soldiers, some punks tried to pick a fight with Aimee. She looks completely harmless as she is missing both arms and has them replaced with prosthetic limbs. They found out the hard way (IE death) that not only is she a skilled fighter, her artificial arms give her enough strength to crush the barrel of a pistol with almost no effort.
  • ASDF Movie 4, to the mugger's confusion

Western Animation

  • On Avatar: The Last Airbender, a mugger tries to rob Iroh. Who promptly takes him down, teaches him a proper fighting stance, has a talk and some tea and convinces him to get a job. benificent, yes, but since he's earned the name Dragon of the West, still a monster.
  • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra a Power Trio of protection racketeers from the Triple Threat Triad attempt to extort a Republic City music store owner, just as a teenaged girl tourist from the Southern Water Tribe is walking past. When she calls them out, they try to put her in her place, and make the mistake of attacking her with their respective Elemental Powers, only to learn the hard way that she's the current Avatar Korra, already master of three of the four elements. Cue a Curb Stomp Battle, made more hilarious by Korra taking out each mook with their respective element, with grinning gusto.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • An episode of the 1980s cartoon has Shredder being jumped by a mugger upon being teleported into Central Park after a long imprisonment in Dimension X. It is one of the few occasions on the show where Shredder actually gets to kick someone's ass.
    • Another episode has a mugger try to mug the disguised turtles, which is delt with in a similar way to the Crocodile Dundee example shown above. The mugger demands "Give my your wallet!". Leonardo replies "I've got a better idea *draws huge katana blade* give me your knife!"
  • In one episode of The Powerpuff Girls, a thief — not a supervillain, just a regular, common burglar — actually tries to rob the Girls, because he had somehow never heard of them. Needless to say, it does not go over well, though they couldn't just kick his ass immediately because they didn't want to wake the Professor.
    • At the end of the episode, the thief was heading towards Mojo Jojo's house intending to rob him.
  • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo has Robin on the run from the police who wrongfully accused him. He hides in an alleyway and notes that he needs a disguise to escape. Suddenly a thief appears, pulls out a gun and says "Give me your money." We don't get to see the fight, but we do see a tied up thief in his boxers, and Robin wearing his clothes (and shades).
  • Happens several times in Gargoyles with Elisa Maza. She's an NYPD detective, skilled in hand-to-hand combat, and an expert markswoman. And then there are her very protective friends....
  • Batman Beyond
    • The two-parter "The Call". In an attempt to escape Terry, Inque takes an approaching bystander hostage... who turns out to be Superman. On the whole, not her finest hour.
    • Something similar also happens in the very first episode, when a group of Jokerz (a street gang patterning themselves after the original Joker) decides it would be a good idea to intimidate a certain old man by saying "We're the Jokerz!" Unfortunately, said old man was Bruce Wayne. Cue the Curb Stomp Battle.

 Bruce: Sure you are.

    • A small group of Jokerz harrasses Willy Watt midway through "Golem". They try to put the squeeze on him, but Willy calls out his little friend...
    • And in "Bloodsport", a lone Joker tries to mug Terry when he's chasing the Stalker — and gets dismissed in an especially pathetic fashion.
    • Continuing with the Jokerz in a crossover with Static Shock: the Jokerz lure two teens onto their turf... but one of them is Terry and the other one is Static. Uh oh.
  • In the Spawn Animated Adaptation, when Angela is first introduced, a couple of thugs follow her into an alley to rape her. Naturally, only she leaves the alley.
  • In the Fantastic Four cartoon (the one that took place in the Iron Man Hour), a mugger tries to rob a guy in a trench coat with a young woman. That guy turns out to be the Thing. Alicia points out that with Ben, she feels safe walking in the park at night.
  • Season's Greetings, the cartoon short on which Trick 'r Treat is based, is also about this. A man chases the adorably creepy trick-or-treater Sam into an alleyway, and, for whatever reason, attacks him. Sam is then seen walking out of the alleyway with bag full and a big smile on his mask.
  • Superman/Batman Apocalypse features a naked Kara Zor-El wandering confused into an alley just after arriving on Earth and being spotted by three workers. One decides to play Lothario and gets his ass kicked. The second tries to help his friend. The third wisely proclaims he's not with the other two and offers her his coat.
  • Knight Time from the DCAU featured another Superman/Batman crossover in which Superman had to disguise himself as Batman in order to help Robin (Tim Drake) find out where his boss had gone. At one point, Superman also found it necessary to round up Bane, the Mad Hatter, and the Riddler. The Mad Hatter and the Riddler, who knew they were no match for Batman physically, wisely tried — unsuccessfully — to make themselves scarce at once. Bane, who did have reason to think he might do better, ended up having "Batman" beat the CRAP out of him while the Riddler (detained by Robin) watched in utter disbelief.

 Robin: He's been working out.

  • G.I. Joe: Renegades features James McCullen attempting to play hardball with Cobra Industries CEO Adam DeCobray, saying he'll save Dr. Mindbender (who he put in danger by luring the Joes to the building) if Cobra gives in to his "proposal". Cue DeCobray revealing his true identity as Cobra Commander and making the arms dealer a "counter-proposal" with a giant, hungry, mutant cobra.
  • Used nonviolently (but very sadly) in a Russian cartoon "Maska". It's Halloween, and a little pretty girl walks down a street, alone. Then two blokes with huge monster masks jump from the corner and attempt to scare the little girl. The girl first watches indifferently, then she has enough, and tears down her face — which turns out to be a mask concealing her real face, scarier than both monster mask combined. The blokes, horrified, drop their masks and run away, leaving the girl weeping — by their scare they reminded her of her own face.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had the Rodeo Clowns kidnap Heloise. The results were obvious.
  • Transformers Prime has the organization MECH attempt to steal a nuclear device from "an unarmed civilian truck". The Autobots trash the attacking cars, without bothering to transform.
  • An episode of Futurama had Bender constantly harrassing a thin robot sitting in front of him at the movies. Finally he has enough and challenges him to "fisticuffs". Bender laughs...until he transforms into a much scarier form. Turns out he was a professional robot fighter.
  • Batman: The Animated Series episode "Birds of a Feather" proves that just because Penguin always loses to Batman doesn't mean he is a bad fighter. He is able to hold his own against three muggers before Batman intervenes and defeats all four of them (Batman thought he was with them until it was funnily resolved.
  • In Invader Zim, Iggins learns the hard way why it is not a good idea to withhold the Game Slave 2 from Gaz. How? She follows him all the way to his house, writes "the game is mine" on the bathroom mirror, appears in the door, steals all the batteries in the house to keep him from getting to the save point on the game, causes the elevator to malfunction when he's still in it, and finally throws him down said elevator shaft.

Real Life

  • A variation occurs in nature, but with predators instead of muggers. Tiger Beetle larva feed on ants, and the Methocha wasp looks like an ant. When the larva attacks, the wasp wriggles out of the larva's grasp, paralyses the larva and then lays its eggs, which hatch and devour the larva alive.
    • The Portia Spider will go to another spider's web and tap on it, most likely imitating a trapped insect. When the spider approaches, Portia rushes it and quickly kills and eats it.
  • In a particuarly amusing example of this trope, two yobs attacked a pair of crossdressers only for said crossdressers to turn out to be a couple of cage fighters in fancy dress. Full story here.
    • Speaking of Drag Queens, a valuable lesson is to never pick a fight with one. You will probably lose. To paraphrase a famous queen, "A guy doesn't dress up like this unless he's prepared to get shit for it." Also, two words: Combat Stilettos.
  • Somali pirates attacked a French navy command ship, mistaking it for a cargo ship, leading to the swift arrest of the pirates.
    • And more recently, Somali pirates in a small skiff fired on what they (presumably) assumed was an unarmed freighter. The US Navy guided missile frigate Nicholas promptly returned fire with its deck-mounted, water-cooled, .50 caliber machine gun. (The pirates were captured, their ship sunk, and their "mother ship" subsequently tracked down and also captured.)
  • In 1993, somewhere in the Pacific, two pirate boats fired machinegun warning shots in the direction of unidentified dry-cargo freighter. And got an auto-cannon warning shot in return, which dissuaded them from trying to board a vessel that's supposed to carry 440 marines. It was "Nikolai Vilkov" - Russian large landing ship. Being a remake of civilian project it resembles a freighter with its big crane.
  • A man attempted to mug a 77-year-old Air Force veteran, who beat his attacker off with a Pepsi bottle after being shot in the balls. Apparently he's okay except for a slight limp.
  • There's a case mentioned in one of John Douglas's true crime books where a serial killer broke into a ranch house and assaulted the couple that lived there. As it was a ranch house on a ranch, and in Montana no less, the killer should've at least considered the possibility that the residents would keep guns at home. Douglas cites it as one of the few known instances in which a serial killer got killed by his intended prey in real life.
  • In 2008, two men with machetes tried to rob a club in Australia. Inside were fifty members of a motorcycle club, who promptly grabbed the bar stools, chased down the thieves and hogtied one of them.
  • In 2010, three men in South Africa, armed with a firearm and and knife, attempted to rob some schoolchildren. The schoolchildren responded by stoning one of the assailants to death.
  • Dressing up policewomen like Ms. Fanservice and sending them out to troll for johns is standard practice for vice squads worldwide. Muggers and psychos occasionally fall for their act, and get snapped up by the decoy or her backup.
  • This is the entire basis of pedo-hunting, whether by the FBI or Anonymous. You pose as a gullible young girl, wait to be solicited by a child molester, track them down, and either arrest them or just ruin their life.
  • In the late Roman Republic a young Upperclass Twit was captured and held to ransom by some Pirates. Guess who he turned out to be?
    • The story gets better. While being held prisoner on the ship, the personable Julius Caesar befriended the pirates, and made jokes that when he was ransomed he was going to come back and kill them all. The pirates laughed at their captive's great sense of humor. Later, they found out he wasn't joking.
  • In 1890 the three Dalton brothers and two henchmen came riding into Coffeeville Kansas in order to gain fame by robbing two banks at once across the street from each other. Of course there were problems with this scheme notably that before their job was done word got out among the townsfolk. And a typical Western town had a lot more than five people, and an awful lot of guns.
    • They were attempting to outdo Jesse James... who had come to grief trying to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota in the 1870s. Unfortunately for Jesse, he had forgotten that he was no longer in his usual hunting grounds of Eastern Kansas/Western Missouri...and the locals not only did not include any sympathizers of his, but had their life savings in the bank he was targeting and no sense of humor about losing those savings. Oops...
  • On September 2, 2010, Bishnu Shrestha was on his way home in East Bengal when forty gangsters stopped boarded it, and started robbing the passangers. Bishnu complied, knowing fighting these gangsters wasn't worth his life - up until the leader of the train-robbers decided to rape a girl. At this point, Bishnu drew a kukri, took the gang's leader as a human shield, and started hacking down thugs left and right. You see, Bishnu Shrestha was a Corporal in the 7th Battalion of the 8th Gurkha infantry. In the subsequent torrent of ass-kickings that followed, three gangsters were killed and eight more disabled by Bishnu's knife, and the rest of the robbers took off in sheer terror. It should be noted that they all had guns, and all he had was his kukri. There's a reason that Gurkas are some of the most feared and respected soldiers out there.
  • An April 2011 incident in Britain had 3 burglars in for a shock when they broke into a house only to find out it belonged to a soldier who, completely naked, gave chase to one who tried to make off with his car, complete with breaking open the driver's window with his bare hands!
  • Skunks are quite unassuming to predators who have never run into one before, and some see them as an easy meal, only to be sent running with a face full of musk.
  • Two teenage thieves broke into a van parked in a council estate in Manchester, only to find that inside there were four SAS men on a night-time counter-terrorism training exercise.
  • Some young men were routinely killing dogs on their neighborhood and killed one small Labrador. The owner came home, pursued them in his car with a gun, then held them at gun point until the Texas Rangers appeared and arrested them. The men threatened the man who had held them at gunpoint, saying he did not know who he was messing with. The man then had the Texas Rangers reveal to the men who had killed his dog that he was Marcus Luttrell, an ex-Navy SEAL, who had won a firefight against roughly 80 Taliban fighters and was the only survivor of the battle, after dispatching every enemy fighter.
  • Two "tough guys" tried to rob Chuck Norris with knives, under the assumption that what he did in Walker, Texas Ranger was all fake. The two ended up with arms so broken that bones were sticking out. The police didn't even handcuff them, partly out of concern for the thugs' injuries, and partly because they were laughing too hard.
  • Shooting Back recounts an incident where some Islamic terrorists tried to shoot up a church, presumably expecting that they'd be able to slaughter people without resistance. Much to their surprise, Charl van Wyck returns fire, thwarting their attack.
  • An example out of Ferdinand von Schirach's Verbrechen (a book of cases he precided over as a lawyer). Some skinheads decide that a wimpy looking man in a neat suit would be a nice diversion. They ended up dead. It was hinted later, that the guy in the suit was a contract killer on his way home. He had no papers on him, no mark that could identify him - he didn't speak a single word. They had to let him go because they had no evidence and the thing they had on him was clearly self-defense - there were several witnesses to clear him.
  • In February 1997 near Warsaw, highway robbers stopped a car. The men in the car turned out to be the coaches of the Russian and Belarussian teams driving home from the world biathlon championship - as in "skiing and shooting". The car was followed by the team bus - as in "fifty Olympic-class marksmen and equipment". Seeing athletes leaving it with rifles, the robbers guessed it's a good time to exit stage right, and quickly.
  • A man asks a driver for a lighter then pulls out a gun. His victim complied initially...until the mugger let his guard down and showed him why it's a bad idea to mug a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. He ended up with two black eyes cuts all over his face and a self inflicted gunshot wound to the ankle.
  • In 2008, a suspected serial killer and his crew invaded the home of Lloyd Irvin, Muay Thai and Combat Sambo expert and trainer to UFC fighter Brandon Vera.
  • Charles Bronson once related a story in which he was vacationing in Italy, and a mugger came up behind him with a knife and said "You give me money". Bronson turned around and said "No, you give me money." The mugger ran upon realizing he'd just tried to mug the star of Death Wish.
  • One such incident has become fondly-recalled lore in the Society for Creative Anachronism: After a Society event in New York City, a lady who uses the name "Sir Trude Lacklandia" was walking home late at night and assaulted by several muggers. When she refused to hand over her cash, one tried to stab her with a six-inch knife - only to have the blade turned by the chainmail she was wearing under her woolen cloak. She then drew her (very real) sword, said "I'll see your six, and raise you thirty-five!" before chasing the muggers off. A bard in the SCA afterwards wrote a humorous song about it, which has become quite popular.
  • In the 1920's a group of five men attempted to mug a well-dressed man and his two female companions. When the police arrived, the sidewalk was covered in blood, none of it belonging to the intended victim. The victim was Harry Greb, a boxer, usually ranked either first or second on all-time pound-for-pound lists who had by this time acquired a 261-20-17-1 record.
  • Around 2008 in Canada, two rednecks in a pick-up truck come across a guy and his girlfriend in a fancy car. They heckle him with lots of cursing and insults while driving right behind them and filming the incident on their camera the whole time. The guy in the fancy car is eventually cornered by the two rednecks at a dead-end; when the rednecks get out of their truck with a baseball bat and walk toward the guy, the guy pulls out a handgun and tells them to back off. The guy's girlfriend takes the camera, and the guy takes the rednecks' truck key and tosses it in a nearby sewer before driving off and later uploading the camera footage to YouTube.
  • In the early 1700s, Dick Turpin, famous highwayman, once stopped a gentleman on a coach road and threatened him with a pistol. That 'gentleman' turned out to be Thomas King, another famous highwayman. King was so impressed that he took Turpin as a partner and they robbed and murdered on the Essex roads together for two years.
  1. If his identity was a secret at the time.
  2. All of which have been the subject of this trope in previous books.
  3. One of the Vampire: The Masquerade books listed this as being the result of a botched roll while hunting for blood. The character ends up setting upon someone who is too much to handle (either another supernatural being or an inordinately prepared mortal), and a beating takes place instead of a meal.