Sometimes, it's the cute ones that are actually the strongest, or at least that's what I've been trying to convince girls for the last five years (still not going well). More often than not, you'll find people will surprise you with their hidden mental and physical strengths. Like, who knew Donny from HR can do 30 pull-ups? Or that Gwen, your Starbucks barista, does trigonometry problems for fun?
Maybe these situations are few and far spread, at least more than I'm making them out to be — regardless, it's fun to see this timeless idiom seep into our video games. You know, those times when you totally underestimated an enemy or ally because they just looked so darn cute and harmless?
Who would've thought that a round, pink puffball would've saved his world from villainy on several occasions; or those seemingly innocent, anthropomorphic bombs from the Mario franchise play nice until they're sitting in your laps waiting to explode! In most cases, these characters look like they couldn't harm a fly, yet, in their respective series, they're well known for packing a wallop.
It can be frustrating at times encountering this in our games, especially when you're up against an enemy that you thought would be cake; we're looking at you talking turrets from the Portal series!
But it's still fun to be reminded of the age old idiom, "don't judge a book by it's cover." That's why today we're going to look at 15 characters who embrace this ideology, while also scrutinizing 15 who are just disappointingly weak, and sometimes laughably so.
30 Stronger Than They Look: Grunts From Halo (Specifically The Ones That Go Boom)
If you’re a Halo fan, which you should be, you’ll always remember the always iconic, and very weak, grunts. Grunts are one of those enemies that you just start to fall in love with for their stupidity, except for when you’re introduced to the group that try to blow themselves up along with you — those guys, I fear.
They say such cute phrases like "I see bad guy!" and "Wake up! He's here!" But don’t let it fool you.
Grunts might not be the strongest on their own, but when they stick plasma grenades to their bodies kamikaze style, you run, and you run quick.
29 Laughably Weak: Miles “Tails” Prower
It’s fun to watch Super Smash Bros. fans demand that Sonic characters like Knuckles and Shadow make the final roster, while almost all of them ignore Tails. And you know why? Pardon our French, but Tails kind of sucks.
In Sonic 2, he was constantly being left behind, and in every game since, he’s been what you would call, deadweight.
Tails has a somewhat cool design, but that’s all we’re giving him. His voice, his gameplay mechanics (in most games), and his usefulness are beyond mediocre.
28 Stronger Than They Look: Ness From Earthbound
Most people, including me, are going to know Ness from the Smash series rather than his original game of Earthbound. But, coming from a former Ness main (don’t want to brag or anything), I can definitely say Ness is way stronger than he looks.
Having not played much of Earthbound, you can still be astounded that this 13-year-old kid can smack around enemies with ease.
Ness is as innocent looking as it gets, with that big goofy smirk and sideways cap, yet he’s still one character you don’t want to mess with.
27 Laughably Weak: Glass Joe (Punch-Out!!)
With a record of 1-99, and a look of cowardice that would make the Cowardly Lion look cool, Glass Joe is a weak character that is pretty hard to beat, in terms of weakness that is. Glass Joe is a French boxer in the early Nintendo game, Punch-Out!!, and is treated more like a punching bag.
As I witnessed my dad struggle with other fighters like King Hippo or Piston Hondo, I always saw him take out Glass Joe with ease.
I’m pretty sure I could’ve beaten the fighter while I was still in the crib, and with my eyes closed!
26 Stronger Than They Look: Wheatley From Portal 2
Portal 2 delivered a twist that we doubt anyone was prepared for when they first turned on the game. Your dimwitted sidekick, Wheatley, turns on you midway through the story and becomes the villainous overlord you were both trying to destroy.
So, you’re forced to take on your former friend with the help of a witty little evil potato (play the game if you don’t know). It looks like the monstrous power was just too much for Wheatley to handle.
25 Laughably Weak: The Meme Himself — Waluigi
To be brutally honest a bit here, I don’t get all the hype around Waluigi. Sure he’s cool, I guess, but cool in the same way that you find your still live-at-home uncle cool — yeah, so not very cool at all.
Waluigi has virtually no personality, aside from being a lanky Wario that none of the good guys ever even have to waste their time with.
Waluigi will forever be the weakest mainstream Mario character, and he isn’t changing my mind until he proves otherwise.
24 Stronger Than They Look: Meat Boy
Meat Boy is the type of character that just doesn’t know how to stay down, and you’ll find that obvious from the cover of his game: Super Meat Boy. He’s desperately trying to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, and no amount of deadly traps, razor-sharp saws, and dangerous platforming will stop him.
By the time the first chapter is over, you’ll almost be begging to stop seeing the screen covered in Meat Boy’s severed meaty body parts. But, you and the Meat Man, or Boy, or whatever, will just keep pressing on through the torture.
23 Laughably Weak: Big The Cat From Sonic
Two Sonic characters this early? Yup, because most of the characters other than our spiky blue hedgehog friend are kind of lame — well, not counting Knuckles and Shadow, we’ll give them a pass. Despite his large stature, Big the Cat is pretty much useless.
We would label him the worst character in the series, but in a series with lousy games and characters, there’s a lot to choose from.
Big the Cat looks like a meme that someone created to parody the poor cast of Sonic characters, and his uselessness isn’t helping his case.
Fan art by: Light-Rock
22 Stronger Than They Look: Sans From Undertale
Undertale is packed with characters that are stronger than they look — the quaint Tamriel, the hot headed Papyrus, and one of the strongest, the always punny, Sans. The funny half of the skeleton brothers meets your acquaintance early on and appears to be nothing more than the game’s primary source of comedy.
But, like most characters in the game, Sans is complex, and surprisingly enough, is one of the strongest characters in the game. If you want to find out for yourself, take the evil route in Undertale, but trust us, you’ll regret it by the end.
21 Laughably Weak: Aggron (Pokémon)
Yeah, we’ve said it probably a million times already, but seriously, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, especially when it comes to Pokémon.
Magikarp turns into Gyarados, Mew is a cute little alien baby that can bring total destruction, and Jigglypuff is an absolute beast in Smash.
But, this system works both ways, and Aggron gets the shorter end of the stick. He might look big, even indestructible in some sense, yet if he gets a splash of water on him, he’s instantly defeated — hope you brought your water gun.
20 Stronger Than They Look: Mario
Say hello to our most obvious pick, but this is just one plumber that we can’t overlook, especially for a list like this. At his barebones, Mario is simply a plumber that can jump pretty high and takes a ridiculous amount of mushrooms.
Yet, Mario has beaten Bowser roughly over 20 times, saved beautiful princesses even more times than that, and is a pretty good karter, too.
Sure, we now see Mario as this untouchable video game legend, but he really deserves a lot more credit for being stronger than he looks.
19 Laughably Weak: Baby Mario
Well, Mario wasn’t always the devilishly handsome video game mascot that we know him for today — though it does seem a bit mean to list his baby form as “laughably weak.” The reason we just have to throw this baby in is for that infamous, anxiety inducing cry that gamers still loathe to this day.
Baby Mario made his debut in Yoshi’s Island and in that game, he did nothing more than let out high-pitched screams. We’re still surprised that Yoshi didn’t decide to leave that baby behind.
18 Stronger Than They Look: Sackboy From LittleBigPlanet
Sackboy is by no means the strongest character on this list, as you could probably sneeze and knock over his entire universe. With that being said, he certainly stays true to being a video game character that is much stronger than he looks.
Sackboy is basically a stuffed toy that has gone on to save his deranged, little world on three separate occasions.
Not sure how Sackboy would hold up in a battle royale with the other cute, yet strong characters, but he’s a tough cookie nonetheless.
17 Laughably Weak: Shaq (Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn)
For a guy that was breaking backboards and making grown men look like children, Shaq seems a little washed up in Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn. Ok, so he’s not incredibly weak in his game, but who didn’t want to play as a Shaq reminiscent to his glory days on the Orlando Magic.
Instead, we get a Shaq that closely resembles his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, or even worse, his season with the Celtics — I’m trembling just thinking about it.
16 Stronger Than They Look: Villager From Animal Crossing
Ah, who could forget the days of digging up fossils, shaking trees, and hitting rocks with shovels — GameCube and Animal Crossing donations are welcome. Back in the early days of Animal Crossing, I don’t think anyone saw the Villager as a fighting force in Smash.
Villager went from being a nonchalant, peaceful town resident to a blood thirsty newcomer in Smash.
Now, it feels as though the character has been a veteran for years, and that’s a testament to their hidden strengths.
15 Laughably Weak: Negative Man (Mother 3)
Probably should’ve apologized for all the Nintendo characters in advance, but Nintendo is just too good at making cute characters who are strong, or ones that are pathetic in terms of their strength — enter Negative Man.
Here’s some truly “inspiring” Negative Man quotes: “Life is but a moment, a meaningless grain of sand.”
And who can forget: “There’s just no way I can win” — Negative Man truly lives up to his name. But, you do gotta feel bad for a guy who is supposed to be an enemy, yet gives up as soon as you encounter him.
14 Stronger Than They Look: Queen Of Rest — Jigglypuff
If we’re talking Pokémon games, then it’s no secret that Jigglypuff is pretty much less than a Magikarp, and for any of you that don’t speak nerd, that’s really bad. But, leave it once again to the Smash series to bring the character into new light.
Jigglypuff might not be good in all the Smash games, yet the gal truly shines in one of the most popular entries: Melee. Most, if not all, the thanks has to be paid to eSports player “Hungrybox” for turning Jiggly into a force to be reckoned with.
13 Laughably Weak: Marines From Halo
“Game over man, game over,” these words perhaps perfectly describe the uselessness of the marines from Aliens, but they also describe their video game counterparts in Halo.
The Marines from Halo might be the best example of A.I. that is bad, like run in front of your bullets or stick you with grenades type of bad.
It’s really a toss up as to whether the marines or the grunts are more idiotic, but at least the grunts have those kamikaze dudes.
12 Stronger Than They Look: Flowey From Undertale
Man oh man, was this a pretty good twist, and one that occurred pretty early on, too. The first character you meet in Undertale is a lone flower, aptly named Flowey, and he’s quite possibly one of the most evil characters in all of gaming.
Never did I think a flower could make me so petrified — creator Toby Fox deserves a ton of praise for that alone.
Flowey instills nightmares in children, probably adults, too, so don’t expect an easy battle from him.
11 Laughably Weak: Ash Ketchum Or Pokémon Trainer
Yup, we’re going that route, because in the Pokémon universe, a human's only real strength is the one that they put in their Pokémon. If Ash Ketchum had no Pikachu, then he’d likely end up as the town mailman or who knows what.
Most Pokémon trainers like Ash are pretty clueless and bring little to nothing of value to the table other than a competitive spirit, we guess.
Without those cute little critters they keep enslaved in those balls, the Pokémon universe would be filled with some plain Jane people — just like us.
10 Stronger Than They Look: Pikachu
Guess there’s no better time than now to bring up Pokémon’s, and one of Nintendo’s favorite mascots, Pikachu. The electric-mouse, who sounds more like Deadmau5, based on that description, is honestly so popular it’s annoying.
You see Pikachu’s face plastered all over the place, and this particular Pokémon is responsible for inspiring a slew of terrible knockoffs.
But, you can’t deny this guy or gal’s cuteness, plus in some games, and especially Smash, Pikachu packs a pretty good punch.
9 Laughably Weak: Hakan From Street Fighter
Do you see this guy? He looks like he ate Ivan Drago from Rocky IV and Red Hulk, yet he was still hungry for dessert. Despite his intimidating demeanor, Hakan is one of the most made fun of characters in the Street Fighter series.
From a competitive standpoint, he has a terrible defense and is only good when he enters into his “oiled-up” mode — yeah, that’s actually a thing.
Regardless, he’s the laughing stock of the series for being this awesomely-designed character who can’t fight for squat.
8 Stronger Than They Look: Techies From Dota 2
Bet you didn’t expect a Dota 2 character to pop on this list — well, to be honest, most of them look way too cool to be on here; everyone except Techies. Imagine the kamikaze grunts and make two of them, then give them a cart with mines and that pretty much sums up the character.
He’s pretty much a meme on wheels that’s strictly meant to annoy the other team, but when played right, you can give your opponents a hard time.
Techies are a hard character to master, but if you put in the time, they can be nuts.
7 Laughably Weak: Lester The Unlikely
Granted it’s the only game I’ve never played on the list, but it harbors an infamous reputation for the main character being one of the weakest across all games. Here, you take control of Lester, a kid who got roped up into an adventure that he wanted no part of.
Lester makes groans as you complete any task, his face is always one of worry, and he has the posture of a 90-year-old Grandma. It’s like they wanted to take the stereotypical nerd and give him his own adventure.
6 Stronger Than They Look: The Prince (Katamari)
First off, can we talk about the bangers that make up this masterpiece of a soundtrack? Because, if you haven’t heard the music from this series, then you’re seriously missing out. Ok, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the game’s protagonist: The Prince.
You play quite possibly the smallest character on this list, yet you have the power to destroy worlds! Or at least roll them up.
That’s right, you start with a small ball of dust and it slowly builds up to include people and skyscrapers too!
5 Laughably Weak: Toad From The Mario Franchise
We really don’t want to paint Toad in a bad light because he’s had his fair share of great moments. But, when it boils down to it, most of those moments usually include him running away or crying hysterically.
I still can’t get the image out of my head of Toad crying uncontrollably to Luigi while inside that ghost-infested mansion.
Granted, it was one spooky place, but if Luigi can hold his own, then we don’t see why Toad can’t either.
4 Stronger Than They Look: Steve From Minecraft
Steve is what happens when one man has so much determination that he basically transcends into being a god. Sure, in the beginning you’re equipped only with your trusty pickaxe and a pocketful of wood, but by the end, you can be the ruler of a kingdom.
That’s not even mentioning that with the help of some diamond armor and weapons, you can take on big baddies like the Enderman.
Steve is nothing without his ambition, and we guess his pickaxe too, but he can quickly turn from regular dude to ruler of his universe.
3 Laughably Weak: Tingle From The Legend Of Zelda Series
Tingle is a character that most Zelda fans tend to hate. He doesn’t really do much, and when he does want to do something, it usually involves getting you to do most of the work for a reward that is usually not even worth it.
What we have here is a failed Nintendo mascot — and not the prettiest one at that.
The best part is that Tingle is deluded and dresses like a fairy/elf to try and imitate them. Oh, and he uses a balloon to get around — definitely not driving in style.
2 Stronger Than They Look: Kirby
Quite possibly the king of being stronger than he looks, Kirby is one pink puffball who you don’t want to mess with. For starters, he can eat anything in his path, and yes, that does technically include people, as I'm sure you’ve seen in his games and the Smash series.
Then, after he eats you, he gains your power, so for me, he’d obtain a steady coffee addiction and student debt — those count as powers right?
Kirby manages to be one of gaming’s oldest cuties that still knows how to throw a punch, or really just suck one up.
1 Laughably Weak: Magikarp
There’s no disputing it, in our minds at least, Magikarp is definitively the weakest of all the video game characters ever created. His only move is literally splashing in water, and if you send him out, you can best believe he’s gonna take a beating.
Granted, he does evolve into the be-all and end-all bringer of destruction: Gyarados! But you gotta wait till level 20 for that party. So, for the time being, turn on that EXP share, or throw your Magikarp out into the fray only to switch it a turn later.