5 Fictional Characters You Didn’t Know Could Kick Your Ass
We’ve all heard the famous idiom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Strangely enough, this is something that holds more true in pretty much any situation outside of a book. Book covers generally do give you a pretty good idea of what's inside. That’s why they’re not all brown cardboard. Not to mention the back includes a straight-up summary most of the time. The saying’s stuck around, though, because making rash assumptions about things based on appearance remains a bad idea.
People also say, “Don’t pick a fight you can’t win.” We can neatly combine these two sayings into a new piece of advice I’d stand by, which is, “Don’t pick fights, because you never know who can whoop your ass.” Because it’s impossible to know if some nerd you decide to shove in a locker is secretly also a nerd about the most painful pressure points on the human body. This applies to fictional characters as well, where even some seemingly sweet fellas could secretly compromise you to a permanent end.
Along those lines, here are five fictional characters who are shockingly competent in battle…
For whatever reason, our human brains seem to be completely incapable of processing someone who is both smart and strong at the same time. We desperately want to file people away as either a sniveling nerd or a drooling troll, and nothing in between. Someone is the brains, and someone the brawn, and never the two may meet. It works both ways, with the fact that Mark Zuckerberg has won a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament, or the fact that Dolph Lundgren received a Fulbright Scholarship from MIT to study engineering, seemingly hard for us to compute.
Maybe that’s why a lot of people naturally imagine famous logic-lover and detective Sherlock Holmes as an all pen, no sword sort of guy. A frail, pipe-smoking dork supreme clad in houndstooth, whose magnificent brain could be spilled across hardwood with a single strike. Canonically, though, this isn’t true. Straight from Arthur Conan Doyle himself, Holmes is a capable martial artist, specifically in an art of self-defense known as bartitsu. Meaning the fight scene from Guy Ritchie’s retelling isn’t just studio-mandated cinematic violence, but in line with Doyle’s character.
There’s also a tendency to write off the elderly as brittle-boned weaklings who couldn’t hurt a fly without receiving equal or greater damage to their own skeleton. It’s something that exists both in real life and in fiction, like in the case of Abe Simpson, forgetful patriarch of the famous Simpson family. Writing him off too quickly suffers from the same mistake you might make in reality: Sure, old men might be cartilage-deficient and not spry of hip, but they’ve also got decades of experience and rage you know nothing about.
So before you decided to take a swing at old Abraham Jebediah, you might want to remember that he’s canonically served in both World Wars, the former at the age of eight. Sure, you might be able to break his glasses, and he’ll probably need to do physical therapy for the rest of his life, but when push comes to shove, this is a man who’s previously taken a life. I imagine, much like riding a bicycle, close combat training and the ability to turn off your empathy long enough to put a man in hell never goes away.
Count Chocula, and the rest of the monster cereal lineup, are fantastic mascots. They’re the perfect mix of fun and slightly creepy, and given their cartoon commercial antics, you’d be forgiven for seeing them as, no pun intended, toothless. This all falls apart, though, if you do the one thing General Mills would beg you not to — dive deep into what the reality of Chocula’s vampirism would mean.
The fact that he’s portrayed as pleasant and nonthreatening means nothing in the context of a true, physical fight. If Chocula, as would be canonically expected, was a target of a vampire hunter such as Van Helsing, we would see a fearsome figure, love for chocolate and milk be damned. Even as far back as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires are described as having the superhuman strength of 20 men. Just because he wouldn’t, doesn’t mean he COULDN’T rip you in twain like a Christmas party popper and litter the floor with your entrails.
Most people familiar with the Simpsons probably know that Grampa was a war veteran. It’s something you could probably guess simply based on his age and nationality, even without his direct admissions and tales. One public figure exists whose confirmed service in World War II remains much less popularly known: Mr. Peanut.
According to a poster put out in the 1940s, canonically, Mr. Peanut fought in World War II. He traded in his monocle and top hat for an M1 Garand and a Brodie helmet, and his facial expression in the very same poster suggests he wasn’t afraid to use the former. Before you decide to pick a fight with the famous shelled fella, know that he’s trained to fight to the death and not against getting a little blood on his spats.
Calling someone “Bambi” is almost guaranteed not a suggestion of toughness or fighting prowess. In most cases, you could assume the opposite, and I get it. Our natural image of him is as a literally doe-eyed baby, frolicking in the dappled woods with various animals. But don’t forget that, as an adult, Bambi is still a buck, with horns capable of ripping and tearing at your soft flesh and inflicting fatal wounds. If you don’t have a rifle handy, or get into the shit in close range with him, it’s far from a guaranteed win. Everybody remembers him prancing, but not as many people remember him rag-dolling his rival, a situation I would not like to insert myself into.
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts.