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"Just because somepony is ladylike doesn't make her weak. In fact, by using her wits, a seemingly defenseless pony can be the one who outsmarts and outshines them all."
Twilight Sparkle, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, "A Dog and Pony Show"

The Proper Lady, a delicate flower. Her manner and appearance suggest meekness and submission. She has perfect etiquette, never speaking out of turn, and her voice is an ephemeral whisper. She is kind and pure, someone who is neither capable of performing, nor even understanding the brutish ways of others in the world. She is a beautiful maiden, clothed in fine dresses and soft gloves and she holds a silk fan... made of sharpened blades. Beware the proper ones.

She is Silk Hiding Steel, a Proper Lady with an iron core. She might look like The Ingenue, perhaps even purposefully, but this rose has thorns. She may never show it publicly, but she has a cunning mind with sharp intelligence and a strong will that won't bow for anyone. She never loses her cool and can take anything life throws at her. Should the time come to fight, she won't hesitate.

Others may think she is powerless, but she knows how to be subtle and operate within the means her role grants her. A word here, a look there, add a little subterfuge with Politeness Judo and often no one ever finds out they were manipulated. Things she approves of always somehow get done, things she disapproves of are somehow never accomplished. She never appears to be anything but the perfect lady, and yet she's far more than a wall flower, Home Maker or trophy wife.

And when the time comes when subtlety isn't an option? She fights. Bravely, courageously, and without holding back. She won't turn away from danger or pain. She'll deliver the final blow herself with violence if necessary.

Related character tropes:

Compare Cultured Badass, see More Deadly Than the Male, Kicking Ass in All Her Finery.

Contrast with the classical version of Tsundere, which could also be known as 'steel hiding silk'.

Examples of Silk Hiding Steel include:


Anime and Manga

  • Captain Unohana Retsu from Bleach is this to a T. On the surface she seems to be the kindest, most motherly character in the entire verse. And then you realize she's a captain, so she must be Badass, and you find out she's the second strongest captain behind Yamamoto... and then she makes the entire eleventh division plus their captain back off with chilled horror, by smiling kindly at them...
  • Marino You of Star Driver.
  • Such is the unconditional love and compassion of Yuria, the fiance of Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro, that even the tyrant Raoh, whose fists could shatter Heaven and Earth itself is utterly helpless before her redemptive kindness.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Lithuania, who would be a Yamato Nadeshiko if he were not from Europe and male. He's sweet, hard-working, and shown to not only be excellent at cooking and house-cleaning (to the point where he actually works as America's housekeeper for some time) but also formidable in battle. However, he also happens to be the main Woobie of the cast, which tends to overshadow his other traits, especially considering that his deference, loyalty, and humility might actually be one of the causes of him tending to be pushed around by Poland, Russia, and Belarus.
  • Fairy Tail presents Mirajane, who runs the guild from behind the scenes and holds the rank of Class S. She's also the most feminine member of Fairy Tail in addition to being adorable and capable of cooking.
  • Cyborg 009 Lina, a Sugar and Ice Girl and mother figure for Phil. Both of them are Psychic Assassins.
  • Lenalee from D Gray Man falls somewhere between this trope and Yamato Nadeshiko. On one hand she's a chinese girl whose devoted to friends and family and likes serving tea. On the other hand, she's a professional exorcist with a unique Innocence so she doesn't fit the 'domestic Housewife' aspect.
  • Gundam has a few
  • Crest of the Stars: Lafiel, polite and proper even when threatening someone. By her strength of will and cleverness, she manuvered her way from 'prisoner' to recruiting Klowal's pet-like maids in rebellion against him. As for 'being in charge' she may be a princess but she's still a 'pilot trainee' and must obey the hierarchy. BTW, She Cleans Up Nicely.
  • Lind from Ah! My Goddess, a polite and proper goddess whose job description is "Heaven's One-Man Army"
  • Demon Hammer Marie Mjolnir, in Soul Eater. A goofy version but nontheless a feminine Death Sycthe and one of the few who listens to Shinigami's orders. One of them is quietly reigning in Stein's madness. As for the steel, well, her nickname is "Crushing Weapon." when confronting Justin Law on BJ's murder, she reacts to the possibility of him harming her students by landing a punch on his chest so hard he's thrown into the air. This comes after Justin, having clearly forgotten what series he's in, points out that though he and Marie are both Death Scythes, she has only a "woman's power"..
  • Corrector Yui's Haruna. A corrector (i.e virus basher) who eventually overcomes her Shrinking Violet tendencies and becomes a semi Team Mom.
  • Demon City Shinjuku: Sayaka, a lovely Ojou who travels into the most dangerous place in the story, by herself, and defeats a demon with her kind hearted will power. Point in fact, she did not go into Sinjuku to defeat Levi Rah, but instead to try and redeem him.
  • Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku is much more independent-minded and tempermental than her sweet, proper demeanor suggests, as Godai soon discovers. Her resolve is probably the only thing that keeps Maison Ikkoku from descending into complete chaos.
  • Matoko Sayama from Karakuridouji Ultimo is a very polite girl but there's some cold steel underneath. It sharpens after she contracts Regula, the doji of disipline and memory wiping
  • Thorfinn's mother, from Vinland Saga with elements of a Mama Bear back when Thors was still an arrogant warrior.
  • Ryougi Shiki from Karano Kyoukai crosses this with Lady of War. Raised as both The Ojou and a competent swords-woman, she generally wears a kimono.....with her favorite knife tucked behind the sash.
  • Jenny Doolittle of Bodacious Space Pirates is initially portrayed as The Ojou, but then displays major nerve when facing down the Lightning 11. She later plays this trope rather literally, concealing a pistol in her (silk) wedding dress.
  • It's been suggested by soome readers/viewers that Usagi Tsukino of Sailor Moon is this without being particularly aware of it.
  • Elizabeth Midford from Black Butler fits this to a T. During the Luxury Liner Arc she reveals that she had been hiding her skills to remain cute in Ciel's eyes. Then grabs a pair of swords and murders a crowd of zombies entirely on her own.

Comic Books

  • The mother of the eponymous heroine in the Furry Comic Albedo: Erma Felna EDF, Eda, is a non-human example.
    • Inverted. Not so much in her earliest appearances (she once shocked Sonic in retribution for shaking her), but since obtaining her lynx form she's been nothing but shy, sweet, and nurturing... when she's not Brainwashed and Crazy.


Fan Fiction


Film


Literature

  • In the Vorkosigan Saga series:
    • The best embodiment is Lady Alys Vorpatril. She is the perfect Barrayaran Lady. Very concerned with being Right and Proper, in the old tradition of Barrayaran high society, but she also has enough leverage to bend that society to her will without their even realizing it, and she's not above playing dirty pool at need. One Upperclass Twit absently dismisses the value of her opinion, offhandedly remarking to Miles Vorkosigan that she "holds no vote in Council". The next we hear from Alys is a polite letter to Miles letting him know that thanks to some judicious social networking on her part, the twit in question is now down half a dozen votes (out of sixty total).
    • Ekaterin Vorsoisson, though it took some time for the steel to appear.
  • Edith Stone from The Rolling Stones. She's a quiet Housewife who appears to have no strong opinions, but her kids point out that no family debate is resolved until she weighs in, and she politely but firmly dismisses her husband's objections to her going on a dangerous mission.
  • Lady Jessica in Dune.
  • Katerina Montescue and Francesca De Chevreuse in Heirs of Alexandria. Katerina develops into this, while Francesca begins as a High Class Call Girl.
  • Kinzi Keen-Eyed, the last Knorth Matriarch, and her granddaughter Aerulan, in Chronicles of the Kencyrath.
  • Lady Sybil Vimes (nee Ramkin) of Discworld more attempts this trope than succeeds in any conventional fashion, but the intent is there. She's convinced that there are certain duties a woman does for her husband based solely on the fact that she's his wife, so she does them, even though she's not very good at them. So she cooks and darns his socks even though she (and, since the wedding, Sam as well) is reckoned to be the single most valuable individual in Ankh-Morpork and could hire someone different to do it every day of the week. In Thud, the iron comes out when everyone is suggesting she stay behind where it's safe, and she silences everyone by naming every time one of her female ancestors has assisted their husband during times of conflict. In other words, her steel shines through, but she does try for the silk.
    • Also in Discworld, we have Margrat Garlick. Normally, she seems like a New Age version of a witch and always seems worried about something. However, in Lords and Ladies, when she is imprisoned, she picks up the armor of a battle-hardened imaginary ancestor, imbues her immense strength and fearlessly fights for the kingdom.
  • Velvet claims to be this in the Malloreon, but any woman who has graduated from the Drasnian spy academy probably doesn't qualify for Proper Lady status even if she is a Margravine.
    • Possibly inverted to a certain extent in that she clearly resents the necessity of pretending to be a Proper Lady, and at one point does go off on a minor rant about people thinking she's harmless.
  • Herald Talia in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar. One of her two single most significant moments in the series involved epic babysitting -- specifically, being the only person in the kingdom kind enough, patient enough, and domestically talented enough to un-spoil the Royal Brat, Princess Elspeth. Which, given Elspeth's importance to the plot later on, saved the world at least twice over. She also holds the position of Queen's Own Herald -- the monarch's entirely loyal, completely dependable friend and advisor. However, Talia is not tall, her hair is chestnut, curly, and short, and she can fight with a knife as well as a bow.
    • A slightly stronger example of the steel that Talia hides comes near the end of the second book in the series when confronted with a man who had repeatedly abused and raped his step daughters and finally murdered one who was trying to escape, she with no hesitation and no remorse then or later Mind Raped the perpetrator into reliving all that he had done from his step daughters point of view until he had accepted what he had done was evil.
  • Anna Cornick in the Alpha and Omega side stories of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson universe. As an Omega wolf, she also has the bonus of soothing empath powers over other werewolves.
    • Also Mercy Thompson herself. As a female coyote shifter in the sexist werewolves' world, she can't directly confront or even disobey the stronger werewolves, so she smiles and nods to their faces, but somehow she always gets her own way in the end.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us several; notably, Lady Catelyn Stark, Lady Olenna Tyrell (aka the Queen of Thorns), Princess Arianne of Dorne, and Queen Cersei Lannister, all of whom are Not To Be Fucked With. There's also a subversion in Brienne of Tarth, who discovered as a young girl that she was terrible at the silky parts, dispensed with them entirely, and became a warrior instead.
    • Daenerys Targaryen, a beautiful, demure 15-year-old girl, who has so far sacked three cities and is bent on reclaiming the Iron Throne.
    • Sansa Stark has been slowly becoming this over the course of the books. Margaery Tyrell is a subtler version, having been taught by her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell.
  • Katie Rommely from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has elements of this. She fits the trope pretty well, but is a little too willful and rebellious to fulfill it entirely. It's implied that her daughter, Francie, will grow up to be exactly the same: Beautiful and seemingly docile, but utterly iron-willed and intelligent.
  • Lady Teldra from Steven Brust's Dragaera books. Patient, kind, loyal, courteous to the point of magical to friends, strangers, and enemies alike, will never speak ill of anyone... and once just up and stabbed a being whose power was beyond that of gods to protect her friends. If that isn't "core of steel", then I don't know what is.
  • Percy's mother Sally from Percy Jackson and The Olympians. She's endlessly sweet, kind, patient and loving, rarely ever gets mad or even raises her voice, and while she puts up with her husband Gabe's verbal (and physical) abuse to almost Extreme Doormat levels, Percy notes that she still shows subtle signs of defiance against Gabe and it's revealed later on that she stayed with Gabe solely to mask Percy's demigod nature with his stench and hence keep him safe from the monsters who would otherwise have hunted him down, and that once she no longer needs to protect Percy, she deals with Gabe on her own (with Medusa's head). Now that's being true Silk Hiding Steel.
    • Don't forget her blasting a monster with a shotgun in The Last Olympian.
  • Many in the Tortall Universe.
    • Thayet, a model court lady who could insult and frustrate her would-be suitor (and future husband) Jon while remaining impeccably polite. She's also the founder of the Queen's Riders, a branch of Tortall's military.
    • Sarai, the most popular belle in the Copper Isles. One time she talked down a poorly planned noble revolt while making it seem like she was only interested in a date for the Summersend ball. Also she's no slouch with a sword.
    • A relative of Kel's who poured hot oil on besiegers, just like 'any delicately raised country lady' would.
    • Alanna, the original heroine, tries to be this but she's just no good at the silk part.
    • It is implied that most of the women from the Yamani Islands (aka Japan/Asia) are this, being taught to fight as well as the boys because of the frequent pirate attacks. They're also experts at hiding emotion and being unfailing polite and friendly even when plotting someone's murder. The Yamani women we do see in the books are definitely this. The domestic side doesn't show as well because they're fighting their enemies or guiding their allies.
    • A particular Yamani example is "A shukusen--a lady fan. If a lady thinks she is in danger, but doesn't want to complicate things by openly carrying a weapon, she takes a shukusen". Its a fan with steel ribs that are razor sharp on the end--slice through wood with ease sharp.

 Yuki: Beware the women of the warrior class, for all they touch is both decorative and deadly

    • Kel's mother appears so nice and motherly now, but as part of the Tortall delegation to the Yamani Islands, she, in fact, was the reason an agreement was reached by matching their stoicism and protecting the Yamanis' most sacred items from being stolen by pirates (by herself).
  • The Famous Five. Anne is a Proper Lady but every once in a while... well you know how the Trope goes.
  • The Trope Namer comes from The Wheel of Time series, where Always Female Aes Sedai are frequently described in these terms. In order to master the female half of the source, one must "surrender" to it, and likewise the most masterful manipulators show every sign of being submissive... while somehow discreetly guiding people to their goals. Rand uses this exact term to describe Moiraine, and says the more forceful Elaida is similar but has "dispensed with the silk".
  • Destructive Harmonics. Zandra's not quite a straight example, as she is a punk rocker, but she's both the most traditionally feminine and the best at holding everything together in adverse circumstances.
  • Safehold gives us two stellar examples:
    • Sharlyean Tayt-Aharmahk, empress of Charis. A skilled diplomat, a dedicated ruler, and a caring wife and mother. She's also perfectly willing and capable of helping her armsmen shoot a horde of attacking fanatics, or continuing to sentence traitors to death after getting shot by an assassin.
    • The second is Madame Ahnzhelyk Phonda, who is a highly-cultured courtesan who caters to the most prestigious members of the Church of God Awaiting. Behind the scenes, she's a master spy and schemer who manages to sneak hundreds of people out from under Clytahn's nose. And did we mention that she later trains and leads a small army of counter-revolutionaries?
  • Elizabeth Callahan, Nita's mother, from the Young Wizards series. Former ballet dancer, dedicated homemaker, accomplished cook - but fully capable of facing down the Lone Power itself, without an ounce of wizardry to her name, when her daughter is at risk.


Live Action TV

  • Babylon 5 uses this trope with Londo's third wife Mariel, whom one of his other wives describes as follows:

 Timov: Still the iron claw in the velvet glove, Mariel?

    • Delenn as well. Sweet, polite, The Heart, kind, generous -- and able to make the most powerful beings in the galaxy do exactly what she wants, whenever she wants.
  • Given the status Companions hold, Inara from Firefly.
  • Guinevere "Gwen" in Merlin has aspects of this; as the future queen of Camelot she is not your typical Housewife, but considers her job as a lady's maid and castle servant a worthwhile one and doesn't hesitate to call out Arthur when he belittles the role. She is patient and understanding, was incredibly devoted to her father before he died, but will take up arms to defend Camelot or her loved ones at a moment's notice.
  • In a subversion, Emma Mastin in NCIS: Los Angeles is at first presented as this but she proves that when her son is threatened, she has other qualities. It turns out that she had once been one of the best operatives among Chechyan rebels but had retired on her husband's supposed death.
    • Maybe it's not a subversion. Maybe Emma had just seen so much of her old life that becoming a Housewife was a very attractive thought.
  • Hazel Bellamy on Upstairs, Downstairs is one. Normally gentle and retiring, she does show back bone when she believes something strongly.
  • Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory. Despite her height, her apparent meekness and her mannerly behaviour, she's among the rare characters able to make Sheldon shut up and abide. She can even handle Howard's mother, which is NO easy feat.
  • Lily Bell from Hell on Wheels epitomizes this trope. Beutifully mannered, elegantly dressed and coifured and capable of killing her husbands killer with his own arrow, trekking Miles across a prairie and sewing up her own wound. Also capable of slapping down a sneering sister-in-law both verbally and physically.
  • Almost every major woman on The Borgias has elements of this, but former ingenue Lucrezia Borgia is perhaps its epitome. She may look and act innocent and adorable--yet she can also outwit kings without blinking and seduce Wide-Eyed Idealist boys in a heartbeat. And don't forget that she has her brother, sociopath and Sinister Minister wrapped around her little finger and ready to do her bidding.


Tabletop Games

  • In Dungeons and Dragons Book of Exalted Deeds there is a goddess named "Estanna" who is the goddess of the hearth and home. Her clerics are literally the clerics of home keeping, but keep in mind this is a game where the cleric is regarded as one of the most powerful classes in the game so any Player Character who is a Cleric of Estanna is likely to end up like this.


Video Games

  • Suikoden V has Luserina Barrows. She's sweet and graceful and apparently stays home while her dad and brother politic in the capital. However, if you talk around Rainwall, you'll find out that she is the one running the place. She also takes part in the coming battles as 'morale', in other words, encouraging them to victory.
    • From the same game, Miakis. Ever careful and polite; she can make an offhanded comment about a river into a death threat. Her steel is a little more obvious, though, being a Queen's Knight.
  • Final Fantasy VII's Tifa and Aerith both fit this trope, but for different reasons. Tifa is the sweet and domestic Bare-Fisted Monk, while Aerith is the feminine mother figure whose HOLY spell is the greatest threat to the Big Bad's Evil Plan.
  • Gym Leader Jasmine from Pokémon Gold and Silver. The first time you meet her, she's caring for a sick Ampharos in the local lighthouse, and she seems very gentle and feminine. And then you actually fight her. Oh, and remember that "touch of iron" mentioned in this trope's description? Jasmine happens to specialize in Steel types.
  • The Mysterious Waif Ninian from Fire Emblem 7. Also, Fiora the eldest Peg Knight sister: more evident seen in her supports with her teenage sister Florina, whom she adores and overprotects. And there's a male (if girly-looking) example, too: Lucius the Monk.
  • Leliana, French-accented bard of Dragon Age seems to be this at first glance, but proves to be a subversion: she deliberately adopts this façade so people will drop their guard around her (as she puts it, men are all too willing to believe that a woman is docile and harmless). She's actually a confident and aggressive Action Girl.
  • Flora/Nera, (Flora in the illegal ROM Hack, English, fan translation, and Nera in the official English translation done by Square-Enix on the Nintendo DS) one of the potential marriage candidates in Dragon Quest V. Contrary to the usual, however, she's significantly less popular than her more tomboyish counterpart Bianca -- as evidenced in an episode of Lucky Star where this choice is referenced. Kagami's choice of Bianca is treated as being more sympathetic... and Konata's brief discussion of why you might pick Flora is purely about gameplay advantages, not character traits.
    • Neris from Dragon Quest VII counts too. Gentle and loving demeanor complete with that unmistakable steel will.
  • Princess Zelda in most of The Legend of Zelda games. Depending on the game you're playing, she'll be a Proper Damsel, a Ninja a Pirate or this trope. She switches into Tsundere mode in pretty much all of the cel-shaded games.
  • Princess Maker: One of the paths for the player to educate the main character.
  • Suikoden Tierkreis has Erin, a sweet, gentle, caring young woman who only wants to help her father run his inn in peace. To do so, she acts as a Reverse Mole to expose the local Corrupt Bureaucrat, and when the main party reveals that all might not be well in the outside world, she insists on joining and helping them. While she isn't a combat character, she does have a cooperative attack with her father, which shows the two of them beating up the target.
  • Chrono Cross features Lady Riddel. A sweet and elegant girl, daughter of General Viper, who is hands-down one of the strongest magic users in the game.
  • Setsuka from the Soul Series, first appearing in Soul Calibur III. Her oil-paper parasol is actually a sheath for her sword.
  • Hisoka Mizushima of Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 2 fame. Though feminine and ladylike she has a way of manipulating the people of her high school for her own benefit without them realizing it.
  • Tales of Symphonia's Collete; a girl so sweet and eager to please, yet capable of redirecting her very specific quest into detours by making them sound like they're part of the quest.
  • Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica: Luca refers to it as 'attacking with smiles'. Pretending to be sweet and submissive when she's really luring someone into a trap.
  • Ace Combat 5 has Kei "Edge" Nagase, the only female pilot in the Wardog squadron. She's gentle and soft-spoken, often compared to a princess by her comrades, and the most idealistic character in the game. She's also the only trainee to survive the massacre at the beginning of the game. When she gets shot down, the narrating reporter Genette thinks that she did so deliberately to avoid having to kill any more enemies; after she's rescued, they find out that she captured the enemy soldiers sent to capture her, and he says he has to rethink his image of her.
  • Golden Sun Dark Dawn gives us a male example: sweet, sheltered, scantily-dressed Prince Amiti of Ayuthay turns out to really know his way around a battlefield. Justified, since Ayuthay is in the middle of an ongoing war, and in some cutscenes Amiti even mentions his combat training.


Visual Novels

  • Slightly subverted in Princess Waltz with Shikikagura Suzushiro, who looks, acts and tries very hard to be one of these. Stand in her way, however, and she shows a much more ruthless and bitchy side to her personality, and also possesses a powerful and brutal fighting style.
  • Two in Kanon Akiko Minase the gentle and assertive mom, and Sayuri Kurata an Ojou who stands up to demons despite being a Muggle for her friend Mai.


Web Original

  • Grandmaster of Theft: Julia, the shy assistant that takes care of all the details of Vincent's business. This gives her a lot of power, martial arts aside.
  • Imperium Nova: An ideal for House Suzumiya albeit with a female supremacy twist and a touch of Pragmatic Villainy on the side.
  • The Lord Of the Supreme Council of The Questport Chronicles is usually an Iron Lady, hence the name, but occassionally indulges in this trope.
  • Maria Delacroix from Eerie Cuties - a real lady and nice hostess: worldly, polite, helpful, showy, playful and a bit openly kinky... most of the time. When she thinks something is unacceptable or a point must be made, she switches to flat statements (and/or Full Name Ultimatum) and application of vampire strength without any transition. And after whatever issue she had with someone is closed, switches back just as quickly.

Western Animation

  • Rarity from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has traces of this. Always prim and proper, but she doesn't shy away from a fight with a manticore, gets into an EPIC pillow fight, and single-handedly turns the tables on the Diamond Dogs who try to enslave her.
    • Fluttershy too. She definitely fits the character-type (humble, loyal, wise, nurturing, etc. but with a clear touch of iron).
    • Princess Celestia as well. Granted, she generally desires a less formal relationship with her subjects and has a rather puckish sense of humor, but she clearly is a mare of great elegance and refinement. At the same time, when the chips are down, the steel comes out, as when she orders the mane six to do away with Discord. Or when she and her sister dealt with Discord themselves a few thousand years before that.
  • Dana Tan from Batman Beyond as the affluent girlfriend of the new Batman, Terry. Sweet, supportive and the one of two people who can strike fear in him (the other being the original Batman). Unfazed when he tells her his secret. When in danger she can hold her own until he shows up.
    • Even Bruce doesn't unnerve Terry as much as Dana as he'll sass the old man to his face but only really gets worried when Dana is mad at him.
  • In Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Gaia is wise and respectable and generally above lying, but one time she twisted a Freaky Friday Flip to get a villain's minion to do her bidding even after she switched back. On a daily basis, she'd have to be steel willed to put up with the pollution of the villains.
  • Toph Bei-Fong of Avatar: The Last Airbender, daughter of one of the richest families from the Earth Kingdom....isn't this. She's crude, rude, and out-spoken. But she had to act like a demure, helpless blind girl for 12 years so she can definitely act the part on occasion. Such as when the group neeeded to get into Ba Sing Se and she manipulated the clerk in check to get free passports.
  • From the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, Asami is the Spoiled Sweet daughter of a prominent industrialist, pretty and proper... who is also a race car driver and has had the best self-defense training money can buy. And she'll electrocute her own father if it means doing the right thing and saving authority figures and her friends from terrorists.
  • In The Ferals, Mixy is generally the most reasonable and sweet-tempered of the gang, yet quite capable of bullying the others into following her lead when she felt inclined to stand up for herself.
  • Several female leads from various Disney films such as
  • From Swat Kats: Calico "Callie" Briggs. Beautiful and compassionate, her official title is "Deputy Mayor" as Mayor Manx's Hypercompetent Sidekick. In reality, she's the one running Megakat City (a good thing, considering Manx's laziness and incompetence) and can become an Improvised Weapon User if one of the Rogues Gallery attacks her.


Real Life

  • Truth in Television: Mary Ann Patten, the teenage ship captain's wife who navigated the clipper Neptune's Car around Cape Horn while pregnant and caring for her sick husband. She wasn't the only one like this. Rich New England shipping princesses of the nineteenth century were a tough breed despite their outward show of propriety.
  • Theodore Roosevelt's famous "Speak softly but carry a big stick" can be interperted to mean this trope: Be polite and gentle, etc, but have force behind your words. He himself was an inversion of course.
  • Jael of Heber, whose account is recorded in the Book of Judges, is the trope. An enemy general, worn out from a long day of generalling, imposes on Jael's hospitality while her husband is out fighting. He asks for bread and water; she provides milk and a heavy meal. And a nice place to nap, since naps after big meals are nice. And while he sleeps she, ever the proper hostess, drives a tent stake through his head and the man's own sword through his neck.
  • There is an expectation that aristocratic and middle class British women will develop into this trope at some point in their forties, if not before. To do otherwise is a sign of bad breeding.
  • A Yamato Nadeshiko is supposed to be this, rather than a mere Extreme Doormat. In fact, there's a derisive term dedicated to portrayals of Asian women as submissive and spineless: "china doll".
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