"I'm the caster, y'know! It's like I'm a cannon made out of glass. Like a... y'know, like a dainty figurine so ornately decorated you can't imagine how something so fragile manages to exist in this brutal, ugly world... And it makes you weep."
In short: He can dish it out, but he can't take it. Similar to (but distinct from) the Fragile Speedster, the Glass Cannon is characterized by insane attack power coupled with pathetic defensive ability.
Prevalent in RPGs and fighting games, as the cast needs to be big enough that "takes hits like a chump" becomes a viable character trait. In RPGs, the Glass Cannon tends to be a Squishy Wizard. Artillery units in Real Time Strategy and Turn-Based Strategy games also tend to have this trait, as they're meant to be far away from combat, or at least in the back of the formation.
Make the Glass Cannon incapable of taking any punishment at all and you've got a One Hit Point Wonder. Glass Cannons often overlap with the Fragile Speedster; characters of that type, who put out high damage and dodge most incoming attacks, but go down quickly if they do get hit, are called the Paper Ram. Another type of very common Glass Cannon would be an offensively oriented nuker, such as the Squishy Wizard, who is basically like a living artillery piece. Character-wise, The Berserker might also become a Glass Cannon, even if he's not inherently frail, but just doesn't bother whatsoever about defending himself tactically.
A matchup between two of these usually results in a game of Rocket Tag.
Contrast Stone Wall who takes it but can't dish it out, as well as Mighty Glacier, who can dish out and still take it like a man but at the expense of speed, and finally Lightning Bruiser, who can do the same without sacrificing anything. See also: Competitive Balance and PVP Balanced.
When adding an example, think, "If this character were to go against him/her/itself, how long would the fight last?". Not very long - offensive power has to outstrip defensive ability. If the character is just fragile, but not that powerful offensively, or vice versa, it's not this trope.
Also, hit-points vs resources spent is not factored into this trope; if the combatant deals fearsome damage, and still has a decent amount of Hit Points, but is costly to balance it out, then this is more a Mighty Glacier than a Glass Cannon. The character must have relatively sub par health AND fearsome destructive capability, excluding cost factor.
Not to be confused withcannons that launch glass projectiles such as the Glass Cannon artillery unit in the game Rise of Legends.
Fate's Sonic Drive form introduced in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. It improves on her original Sonic Form by giving her a lot of oomph to complement the speed increase, boosting her magic powers to astounding levels and letting her access Bardiche'sRiot Zamber form. But much like the original Sonic Form, all of this comes at the cost of armor, so all it'll take is one good hit to make her fall. Not that it proves to be much of a detriment; so far, only Erio has managed to land a hit during a mock battle in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid, where it indeed wiped out most of Fate' Hit Points.
Hayate has also shades of this : her spells range from nuclear explosion to... bigger nuclear explosion, but it comes with looooooong casting time and inability to take hits. She even said Caro would win against her in one-on-one. This is counterbalanced by the fact that Hayate almost never fights one on one; even without her other allies, most of the time she still has Reinforce with her, who can separate and hold off a target with a slew of not quite as powerful, but quite a bit faster spells while Hayate prepares her Wave Motion Gun.
Lutecia Alpine is an S-rank summoner who, in StrikerS, was capable of summoning insects that rivaled Caro's powers, but had hardly any moves with which to protect herself. However, as of ViVid, she appears to have developed the magical capabilities to fight alone well enough to enter the tournament alongside Vivio and her friends.
In Mahou Sensei Negima! traditional style mages tend to be like this, which is why they have partners to guard them from their opponents while they prepare their big spells. The mark of the highest-level mages is that they grow tough enough to move past this and are powerful enough not to need the protection.
The Big Bad of the final arc of Ranma ˝ has powers bordering on a Person of Mass Destruction and he can tank Ki Attacks, but a rather pampered life has lead him to be rather weak against physical attacks. Of course this is just compared to the completely Made of Iron fighters in most of the series (he was called a wuss for being moderately injured by a boulder... being thrown by tornado winds that were drilling into the ground and altering the course of an underground river).
Cologne has some elements of this as well. Given that she's one of the two most prominent Miniature Senior Citizens and a veryOld Master (three hundred years in the anime), this might be somewhat explainable.
Akane Tendo as well. Though she can dish out punches with the best of them, she has nowhere near the healing speed or toughness of any of the other characters; while she is too skilled to be The Load in an actual fight, she is still regarded by some as a Damsel Scrappy because she insists on getting into a fight, but somebody (mainly Ranma) usually has to keep an eye on her because she can't take the hits they can.
Pikachu fits this trope well in Pokémon. Massively powerful attacks? Check. Tendency to go down quickly in a fight? Oh yeah.
A lot of high-Speed, high-Attack Pokémon fall into this. Weavile springs to mind; blindingly quick and decently strong, but pit it against a Fire or a Fighting type and its toast.
Tieria Erde's Gundam in The Movie, the Raphael, is this. It is equipped with Big Friggin'Wave Motion Guns that can also function as Attack Drones. However, due to said Gundam not being equipped with real GN Drives as well as the lack of resources used while it was being created, all defensive capabilities were sacrificed in favor for its offense. His earlier Gundam Nadleeh qualifies as well: it's essentially a Fragile Speedster with the Exia's close-combat attack power. Naturally, it's only used in emergency as it's a Dual Mode Unit, its other form being Gundam Virtue.
The GN Arms from the first season too. Lockon absolutely owned everyone with it until Ali incapacitated him with a single well-aimed shot at his beam cannon. Then it turned out the Gundam piloting the exoskeleton is tougher than the actual exoskeleton! Setsuna's close-combat GN Arms fared slightly better as it took a couple of hits before finally succumbing. Another example of this trope is the Gadessa: its main weapon is a Wave Motion Gun with ridiculous range... and not much armor. It still has a backup weapon and a beam saber but its defensive capabilities are nowhere near those of the others, as Lockon took it out in the final battle with a point-blank burst from his Gundam's sidearm afterPlaying Possumto lure it close.
On the subject of Gundam, ANY Universal Century unit built after the events of the Gundam F91 movie... since Beam Weapons are so overpowered, by that time, they decided to change plans for future unit development.
Even seen in Mobile Suit Gundam MSIGLOO during the gravity front. Zaku's are portrayed as having tremendous and devastating firepower...but one direct hit from a tiny tank or missile team can still one shot them. Fortunately it seems that even non new type mook Zeke's can Dodge the Bullet.
Tongpu from Cowboy Bebop. The guy can destroy buildings, cause explosions and throw people across rooms, but if ONE little dagger penetrates his leg...
Tongpu ends up being almost a One Hit Point Wonder because of his Minor Injury Overreaction. He has incredible defensive abilities against virtually all projectile weapons, and nobody had ever thought to/lived long enough to stab him. When Spike does manage to get this hit in, he regresses to childhood, crying out for his mommy before he is squashed flat by the Space World robots.
Lillidan Crauser of The Prince of Tennis. He is extremely powerful, able to curb-stomp a bloodshot Kirihara using even greater violent play than him. However, he lacks stamina and defense. Once Kirihara brought out his devil mode...
In Hajime No Ippo, minor character Eleki Battery who fought Kimura is definitely one. He is able to keep up with Kimura's speed and has enough power to knock Kimura down in one blow, however, all Kimura needed to do was land one hit to his body to knock him down.
Also Ryuichi Hayami, who's got very good counters and speed as well as strength... but one well placed punch and he's out. This gets so bad that, when Kobashi manages to deal him a REALLY well-placed hit in the jaw, the injury he sustains forces him to retire.
Ichiro Miyata possesses ungodly speed and techniques, but he's also got a glass jaw inherited from his father that makes him very easy to take down. Hence why he relies so much on counters, which help him develop from a Fragile Speedster into this.
To be fair, said pistol-whip was a special move that could tear through a Heavily Armored Mook at one-fourth power.
The Japanese National Team in Captain Tsubasa. They've got excellent scorers in Tsubasa, Aoi and Hyuga as well as great GK's like Wakabayashi and Wakashimazu, but one of their biggest flaws is how easily their defense can be torn and the rival teams can try their luck at scoring. And since the two Waka GK's are prone to Game Breaking Injuries...
Single player version: Jun Misugi. Excellent strategist, very dedicated, great at teamwork, marvelous scorer... and with pathetic stamina due to being an ex-Ill Boy. Hence why he's seen more often than not in manager positions and doesn't play until it's mandatory.
Similarly, Hisashi Mitsui from Slam Dunk is one of the best 3-point scorers in Japanese HS basketball. But around 3/4 of an intense game, he's almost completely knocked out and unable to merely walk outside the basketball fields.
In the first season if Yu-Gi-Oh! (where the card game was the least like its Real Life equivalent) both Zombie and Machine-Type Monsters were described like this, incredibly strong on offense but really bad at anything else, especially defense. (Of course, the actual game isn't like this at all, at least not all the time.)
Nami from One Piece. Her Clima Tact can make very dangerous lightning attacks, and while they take some time to charge up, her offensive power with these makes her one of the most dangerous Straw Hats. She is one of the very few people who can hurt Luffy with a regular punch, though it is because she "beats up his spirit". Her durability, however, is very puny and no better than that of real life human.
Early series baddie Kuro is this as well. He can slice people up like Salami, and his Shakushi ability makes him damn near untouchable. However, he just can't take a hit. When Luffy slows him down, the fight ends very soon after.
May of Fullmetal Alchemist has quite a few different ranged attacks with her alkahestry, but is one of the least durable characters, partly the result of being a young girl.
Alyssa of Mai-Hime has the ability to cause devastation on a large scale with her Child, Artemis, but unlike other Himes, does not have an Element to protect herself, instead relying on Miyu's assistance.
Shin Kazama of Area 88 fits this trope. He deals a nasty blow to Saki's head during a temporary psychotic rage, but Mickey floors him with one punch.
Itachi Uchiha is basically this in Naruto. Despite having three of the most powerful attacks in the entire manga, Itachi's base arsenal lacks versatility. Not only that, a sufficiently strong character could One-Hit KO if they got close. His stamina is particularly low as well, meaning he can't fight for extended periods. Those three powerful attacks? They cost more than 30% of his total chakra, meaning he can't spam them like his brother Sasuke can. Instead of aiming to beat Itachi in a straight up battle, Sasuke should have aimed to outlast him instead. In essence, the Jack Of All Trades and Lightning Bruiser, Jiraiya and the Lightning Bruiser, A the Raikage are Itachi's worst opponents due to them either being more well rounded than he is, or can hit harder than he can and tank his attacks. He becomes more of a Lightning Bruiser as an Edo Tensei since his Cast from Hit Points Susano'o no longer causes damage to his body, he can use it as freely as Sasuke does with his EMS.
Pandoras are an interesting case. Against each other, they are Lightning Bruisers, but they become this when battling against Novasand Pandoras who have been corrupted by them.
The Grand Cross from Bodacious Space Pirates can be considered as an example of this. It possesses advanced technology and high-tech weapons that can destroy spacecraft instantly. However, it's shielding is very vulnerable to heavy bombardment, and the ship's pilot, Quartz Christie, is overconfident to the point where she tried to operate three of these ships at once to defeat her opponents once and for all, without updating her battle strategy at all. It didn't end well for any of the ships, though she did survive.
Space Battleship Yamato has the Super Battleship Andromeda. All the ships in the Andromeda fleet have double wave motion guns but still get easily destroyed just by the force of the White Comet's vortex.
In Anatolia Story, Yuri is a pretty good fighter when she has her sword and Cool Horse. When an enemy actually gets a hold of her though, she has a hard time fighting them off. Given that Yuri is of small stature and is usually up against taller, more muscular opponents, it makes sense.
There is an old (board and miniatures) gaming expression called the fuzzy wuzzy fallacy (after the Rudyard Kipling poem). Basically it states that a unit's effectiveness goes up proportionate to the square root of any increase in firepower (provided the defense stays the same). For example, the above Mech has roughly 3.5 times the firepower of the old version. FW numbers say that it's about 1.87 (the root of 3.5) times as effective as the old one, given that both die just as easy (and will draw fire like no-one's business).
In the Flying Frog game Touch of Evil, the schoolteacher only has three hit points and no healing factor. However, loading her inventory up with books adds two additional fight dice per book. Collecting all the books on the board gives her three hit points...and up to twenty dice's worth of damage.
Many telepaths in X-Men, such as Professor X, have powerful Psychic Powers but very weak physical attacks, and aren't of much use against opponents immune to telepathy (like robots).
Lampshaded in X-Men: Evolution: He tells Jean that no matter the challenge they can be overcome. Cut to him at the top of a flight of stairs. "Of course some challenges are easier to overcome than others."
Similarly, Cyclops' Eye Beams are devastatingly powerful, but if anyone actually hits him he's just as vulnerable as any non-powered human. Well, any non-powered human in peak physical condition with iron willpower and light body armour, but still — a lot of X-Men fight scenes start with Cyclops getting punched out or shot with regular bullets, because (from a writing perspective) otherwise he could settle the whole business with a look.
And, Storm may have god level power, but up and close, she's just like Scott: Hard to hit, but just as easily hurt as anyone else. Same with most of the other X-Men who's specialty is offensive power.
Much like the X-men with offensive powers is Fantastic Four member Human Torch. His flame powers give him move high movement speed and an offensive edge. Unlike his allies he lacks any way to use his powers to defend himself other than flying out of the way.
In his first few appearances as Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner would often be subdued by a single blow to the back of the head. And he's not the only one; Hal Jordan also fell victim to this more than a couple times. But if you couldn't get behind him stealthily like that, he will fuck you up.
Ah, this explains that scene from Justice League when Batman took out Sinestro with a well-timed Batarang...
Zatanna of The DCU can kill people with a (backwards) word (not that she ever has IIRC, she is a DCU hero). She could turn them into pudding snacks with a (backwards) sentence. Only the stronger magical, divine, or cosmic beings in the DC universe can resist her powers. However, she isn't any more durable than most humans and can be taken down with a single well-placed punch. Overlaps with Squishy Wizard. In Identity Crisis it is even explicitly mentioned in the narration-bubble: She is the most powerful member of the team, if she can get the words out. Slade Wilson (Deathstroke the Terminator, who is possibly the only person for whom that name is not overkill) pokes her the stomach, so lightly that it does not even hurt that much, but once she begins to vomit from the damage to her liver she is out of the fight.
Prism, an on and off member of the X-Men villain Mr. Sinister's Marauders, is literally made of glass. He can store light and energy (such as sunlight or Cyclops' optic blasts) and redirect it to devastating effect. But he is still made of freaking glass. Jean Grey killed him once by throwing him into a wall (not even that hard).
Sizzle from the third Legion of Super-Heroes continuity is practically a literal cannon, needing a steady power source (ammo) to feed her energy projection abilities. The awkwardness in having to both provide power and cover to Sizzle while watching your own back is the reason she was sent to the Legion Auxiliary along with her Stone Wall friend Turtle.
In An Entry With A Bang!, the marauding pirates with their Battletech... uh, tech... are somewhat confused by the fact that while Clancy-Earth has highly effective BVR capability, their warmachines can't take hits worth a damn.
On the other end of the scale, C-Earth technicians are utterly baffled as to why BT doesn't have a gun capable of blowing apart a mech in one shot, since as far as they're concerned, "Any gun that isn't a One-Hit Kill isn't worth having."
The Firefly fanfic Forward puts an emphasis on River being one of these; she's portrayed as fast and powerful but one good hit puts her down - which happens several times in the story.
Lightning Bolt is one of these in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. She is the only pony of the main heroines to have a powerful special attack (Shining Spark), but she is prone to being injured during prolonged battles.
Battleship correctly shows that modern-day missile destroyers are this. They carry lots of missiles and the Aegis system allows them to Macross Missile Massacre an enemy, but they lack any real armor to protect them from return fire. The CIWS guns do an admirable job trying to protect the ships from the alien attack, but the enemy employs the More Dakka tactic to overwhelm the defenses. On the other hand, the mothballed battleship Missouri, completed during the height of World War II and protected by tons (literally) of armor, and being only slightly slower than the missile destroyers, is a Lightning Bruiser, able to take a punch as well as give.
Katniss of The Hunger Games is a quickdraw with a bow and takes out several competitors in seconds. Compared to the opposition she is untrained in how to fight up close and is slowed down significantly by relatively minor injuries.
Star Wars has TIE Interceptors, whose armament - twice or even occasionally thrice that of the more widespread TIE Fighters - means they actually represent a threat... for a short while. Their shielding is no better than that of the Fighters (that is, none whatsoever), so they break apart as soon as someone shines a laser pointer at them.
In Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, the flashback to the DL-6 incident shows that young Edgeworth was able to bite Yanni Yogi hard enough to distract the baliff from hitting his father, and later threw a gun at him hard enough to knock the guy out. When Yogi shoves him hard enough to be knocked against a wall though, Edgeworth collapses almost immediately. Given that he's a kid, it's pretty justified.
In The Dresden Files Harry mentions that wizards are like this; for all of the magical weight they can throw around, they still need all of their squishy internals to work. Harry reasons that instead of being on the defensive, he should punish the other wizard in their back-alley duel. When dropping a car on the guy doesn't work, Harry realizes that he's boxing way out of his weight class. The guy in question is the current most likely candidate to being on the Black Council.
In Honor Harrington there are several ships like this. At one end of the extreme are outdated Solarian Navy ships which put more focus on offensive weapons than counter missiles and point defence lasers. Likewise, Maya's Arsenal ships which are capable of carrying thousands of long range missiles, but are just converted freighters and have no defence at all.
Special mention to HMS Wayfarer and her sisters: converted freighters, sluggish and armored for crap, but carrying super-dreadnought-class main guns capable of carving up a battlecruiser like a roast turkey, a complement of light-attack craft capable of laying down significant hurt in their own right, and, oh yeah, the first roll-out of the Manitcoran Missile Massacre.
Honor's first cruiser, the HMS Fearless was refitted with weapons that would allow it to kill far bigger ships. But the weapons' short range and the lack of any decent defenses resulted in a single resounding success during the first fleet exercise, and getting 'destroyed' in every exercise thereafter once the opponents had realized the threat and decided to give some payback for the first success.
The Manticoran LACs introduced in Ashes of Honor are armed with battlecruiser grade grasers, but other than their speed and relatively small size they're not very survivable should an opponent decide to focus on them. In universe, LACs in general are described as "eggshells armed with hammers".
Not surprisingly the Lensman universe plays with this one, but the vulnerable sluggers are always accompanied by copious numbers of their exact opposite - ships that are all shield and nothing else (sometimes not even a human crew). There are, however, usually large numbers of balanced ships in the same fleet.
In the Bolo books, there are Enemy units that are just counter-grav platforms mounting Hellbores. They can be easily swatted by said supertanks, but can be a problem if allowed to attack. They aren't One-Hit Kill-capable, but the numbers are always on their side.
Coinshots in Mistborn are a kind of Misting who have only one power- the ability to telekinetically shoot metal away from their bodies. This makes them able to dish out a ton of damage, since a Coinshot with a pouch of money is basically a human machine gun, but they have no greater ability to resist damage than anyone else. Have a half-dozen Coinshots protected by about the same number of Thugs (Mistings who can increase their strength, speed, and durability to superhuman levels) though, and you've got yourself a small but very effective army.
In an episode of Lois and Clark, Lex Luthor creates a boxer that he believes can take on Superman. The boxer delivers a flurry of punches that stagger Superman. For a moment it looks like Superman is actually on the ropes, but then he simply flicks the boxer in the forehead and knocks him out.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jem'Hadar Fighters are pretty much this. They're able to deal heavy damage, at least early on, with only a few bursts of their phased polaron beams, but a few phaser cannon shots or a single torpedo are enough to either cripple or destroy them. This is deliberate on part of the Dominion, with the Fighters being cheap but deadly throwaway ships with minimal and expendable crew, and no features that aren't essential to combat.
The Outer Limits episode "The Camp" had super strong robots that were ludicrously fragile.
On the tabletop, Eldar are fast and fragile, and Dark Eldar are even faster and more fragile. The Dark Eldar are more of Glass Cannons than the Eldar, given the amount of firepower that squads of Dark Eldar can pump out for a relatively low cost and the eschewing of even what little armor their cousins use.
Harlequins are even more of a glass hammer/cannon than other Eldar. Absolutely unparalleled in hand-to-hand combat, they can rip right through a unit of Assault Terminators like tissue paper; but one good round of shooting from a basic Marine squad and they're splattered all over the landscape.
The Eldar Fire Prism grav-tank is armed with a Wave Motion Gun that is literally a glass cannon (even called the "Prism Cannon"), but due to holofields and the like Craftworld Eldar vehicles are one of the few things in the army that doesn't qualify.
On the flip side, this is absolutely the case with Dark Eldar vehicles. Unlike the Imperium's variant-based vehicles, their strongest armoured vehicle has armor so bad that they are generally described as 'kites'. It's a rare DE vehicle that can't be taken down with small arms fire. If you get a chance to shoot them, that is.
Also in tabletop, the Space Marine Thunderfire cannon. As an artillery piece, anything shooting at it has a 50/50 chance of hitting either it or the Techmarine manning it. Hitting the Tech is not a huge issue, with a 2+ armour save, but if the cannon itself is hit, either a penetrating hit or glancing hit will completely destroy it. But it has a range of 60', and is heavy 4, with three types of ammo.
And Tau Fire Warriors, who are no tougher than Guard Stormtroopers and suck in close combat. However, they're armed with a gun that will punch through Stormtrooper armour, the Stormtrooper wearing the armour, and keep going out the back.
Speaking of Stormtroopers, their hellguns can punch right through Space Marine armor. Too bad for the shorter than normal range.
The Tau's Vespid allies straddle the line between this and Fragile Speedster. They have a gun that can blast clean through Space Marine armour from 18" away, and can move reasonably quickly, but even with T4 and a 4+ armour save, they still go down like chumps to even a brief encounter with heavy bolter fire.
Oddly enough, this trope can sometimes apply to Super-Heavy vehicles... The biggest, baddest, toughest things in the game! The "Chain Reaction" entry on their damage tables represents the shot hitting a fuel tank or something and doing further damage to the machine, and it then lets you roll on the damage table again. If you roll another 6, you repeat it all over again! With a huge amount of luck and several consecutive sixes, a single damaging shot can obliterate a Titan or Stompa that normally requires you to effectively "kill" it several times in a row to actually score a kill!
Made all the more jarring by the fact that the humble Land Raider still boasts the highest armor rating value, at 3 points higher (in total) than the Imperator Titan (the biggest vehicle you can field in the game, even in Apocalypse).
Ork Boyz borderline this. They have low point-cost, a massive amount of attacks for a rank-and-file trooper (three attacks per Boy, four on the charge), and....paper thin armor. Kinda balanced out by their ridiculously low point cost and high toughness, but when they get showered by bolter fire, expect a lot of Boyz to drop.
Daemons also deserve a mention — most of them pack a punch, but die like flies against standard Imperial weaponry because their "armor" is intentionally designed to be fickle. They have a 33% chance of surviving anti-starship weapons, but a 67% chance of dieing to a single small-arms round to the face.
The Rogue Trader rulebook specifically describes Raider-class spacecraft as "glass cannons, able to throw out heavy fire but unable to take it in return".
Eldar and Dark Eldar spacecraft in Battlefleet Gothic have wimpy armor, no shields, ridiculously powerful engines, and some of the nastiest guns possible.
The Hunchback IIc BattleMech exemplifies this trope in the Battletech universe. It mounts two Ultra autocannon-20s which, more or less, is apocalyptic firepower for any 'Mech (each can do 40 damage, which will destroy any mech its weight or less with a center hit), but sacrifices almost all of its armor in order to do so. Little wonder it's popular with Death Seeker Mechwarriors. In fact, a recent sourcebook clarifies: It was made as pretty much the Clan's equivalent of a Death sentence. Any warrior assigned to a Hunchback IIc was explicitly not expected to come back from their next battle.
It also barely has any ammo for those boomsticks (5 shots each, or 2 "double" shots and one regular). Its predecessor, the Inner Sphere standard Hunchback (circa 3025), has one AC/20, 10 shots, and near-maximum armor for a 50 ton mech chassis. The "new and improved" model, from 3050, has only 5 shots.
It is popular among youngsters trying to get a Mechwarrior status. To do that, you need to destroy at least one Mech in single combat (bonus rank if you take out more). This is just the design needed to take one out quickly if you don't need the bonus. It's also popular in duels - for similar reasons.
In the same vein, the dinky UrbanMech mounts an AC/10, but has only 6 tons of armor—appreciable for its size of 30 tons, but still not very much—and moves like molasses on top of being absolutely tiny. However, any light mech will be cored if Urbie hits it, and more than one Urbie makes things get very dangerous in a hurry unless you outrange them. Plus they're such cute little things! (The UrbanMech isn't a deathtrap so much as it's designed to fight in a very specific environment. Gee, I wonder what that might be?)
There is, however, a variant of the UrbanMech that reduces its armor to put the AC/20 in the same, now less-well-protected frame.
A lot of "support" 'mechs, like the classic Catapult or the frankly ridonkulous-looking Yeoman, will mount a lot of long range weapons like LRMs, but have little armour or weapons for close-and-dirty combat.
The Hollander BZK-F3 light 'mech tonnage is mostly taken up by the gauss rifle on its shoulder. (The mech weighs 35 tons, where the Gauss Cannon takes up 15.)
One of the newest 'Mechs in 3067, the LDT-1 Brigand, used primarily by the pirates, is designed like this. Armor up front is comparable to a regular light 'Mech, the back has a total of 1/2 ton of armor.
There are a few vehicles like this, such as the Hetzer Wheeled Assault Gun (effectively) a BFG mounted inside an armored box on a heavy truck chassis) and the tiny 5-ton Savannah Master - the fact that it was designed to take on an opponent four times its tonnage has to count for something.
In the novels particularly, the old Inner Sphere Rifleman 'mech is notorious as a deathtrap, with rear armour somewhere between cardboard and tin can levels. You don't want to be standing in front of it, though - each arm mounts an autocannon and medium and large lasers.
This is true even in the regular game. Some of the low-tech Riflemen, including the iconic original RFL-3N, have rear torso armor so thin that it's insufficient protection against falling on their back even once and that all but the very smallest 'Mech-scale weapons can punch through for internal damage in one shot. (Their front, to be fair, is a bit tougher, if still not up to par for their weight class.) One of the upgrades for it in the 3050 Tech Manual was to triple the armor on the back at a bit of cost to the legs.
The Hellbringer (Loki) Omni is another fine example of a machine that will slaughter most enemies in its weight class and down if they get too close, but will crumple and burn if anything with a decent gun looks at it funny. Its configurations focus on massed long range hitting power, with things like particle cannons, Gauss rifles, and autocannons coming into play. The primary variant is a highly accurate killing machine with enough firepower on it to literally slag four tons of armor in a single salvo and even includes various equipment upgrades like ECM or anti missile defenses. At 65 tons and with only 8 tons of armor, though, it'll have an extremely bad day if a sufficiently armed 'Mech draws a bead on it. It's so light on armor that it actually can't even absorb an AC/20 shot dead center—something that more than a few 15-tons-lighter 'Mechs can do.
The Adder/Puma is another high grade glass cannon. Its primary configuration carries dual ER-PPC weapons and includes a targeting computer to make them highly accurate. Any 'Mech who takes a Boom, Headshot from one of those guns is down for the count, no matter the size of it. The Adder, however, is all of 35 tons, has about 6 tons of armor, and generally isn't going to stick around very long once an enemy sniffs it out.
Dungeons & Dragons 4E gives us the Striker set of classes (Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Barbarian, though the Barbarian has pretty good HP, if lackluster starting armor): Insane damage output, but rely on the Defenders to hold down the thing they're attacking so that they don't get crushed.
The problem with this is semi related to the 3.5 problem, but still significantly different. No one can take focus fire. No one. Not even the tanks. So what you really want is 1-2 enemies on each person, because anyone they gang up on is going down, no matter who they are. The only reason this doesn't make everyone a glass cannon is because without that focus fire, neither side can do any real damage to the other.
3.5 psionics has the wilder class. Less than a fourth of the powers of a Psion, but can up each powers output by your level, turning a single level 3 character into something capable of cutting down much higher level enemies on average rolls. Has little health and can daze/weaken themselves afterward. Unfortunately, the downsides add up to make it Awesome, but Impractical.
Some 3.5 characters, using a number of different sourcebooks, can become this trope. As an example, take an ordinary fighter and give him Power Attack, a feat which subtracts attack accuracy in exchange for higher damage. Then take a feat called Shock Trooper, which shifts the accuracy penalty to armor class — i.e. it makes you easier to hit. This build, known as the 'Charger build' and often by the name Glass Cannon, results in a character able to do massive damage when he charges in and attacks ... but at the cost of an armor class that a small child throwing rocks could probably hit.
The problem with 3.5 is that due to balance problems, almost everyone is made out of glass. That includes that "ordinary fighter", regardless of whether he goes the charging route or not. Doing so does give him a cannon, but since he'll be smashed easily anyways, there's no drawback to this. After all, if you're going to be super squishy no matter what, you might as well try to take them out with you, or better yet, first.
Meanwhile, many of the classes you'd expect to be glass cannons are actually lightning bruisers.
There are plenty of Magic: The Gathering cards that have high power but low toughness. However, the card Glass Golem seems to deliberately invoke this trope.
In chess, the Queen is strongest because she can move across the board and can move horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. Yet like with all chess pieces, she goes down in one.
There are various Yu Gi Oh cards like: Goblin Attack Force, Indomitable Fighter Lei Lei, Spear Dragon, and Mad Archfiend that have incredibly high ATK, but zero DEF and move into defense position when it is time for your opponent to strike.
Warhammer Fantasy has a few. Night Goblin Fanatics follow it the best — they deal the same damage as a stone thrower (read, giant catapult) but are even easier to kill than a normal goblin and have a chance of killing themselves. There are, however, many others.
All varieties of elves have most of their units as Glass Cannons.
Wood Elves are similar to 40K's Eldar, being both this and Fragile Speedsters. They have little to no armour but can give out a lot of hurt with possibly the best core units compared to their prices (although they only have one real rank and file unit, which forces the player to pick the unit they charge). And to top it off they have the Forest Walking rule, which allows all of their units to walk through woods without any restriction which in other armies was only allowed for scouts. However, this has probably given several players the feeling of They Changed It, Now It Sucks, since in the new edition of the rulebook every army can walk through woods (and a lot of people thinks that the new rules hurt Wood Elves the most of all the armies, to the point where many tournament Wood Elf armies actually use an Elite MookLightning Bruiser build in which a handful of elves turn up to play cheerleader to as many Tree-Kin as they can legally bring).
High Elves have very few units with toughness higher than 3, but they make up for it with Speed of Asuryan, ensuring they always strike first no matter what the initiative values are and gaining attack bonuses if theirs are higher... and at 5 initiative on most of them, it usually is. This rule also ignores striking order penalties for weapons, so they can wield whopping weaponswilly-nilly at no penalty.
The mauler ships, which both avert this trope and play it straight at different times. Before firing, maulers are very difficult to destroy (due to how shield reinforcement works), and are as fast (if not FASTER) than other ships of similar size. After firing, they become much more fragile and sluggish as they struggle to recharge their huge battery banks for another shot.
Fast Patrol Ships (formerly known as Pseudo-Fighters). They can carry devastating armament, but their shields are paper-thin. The rules even refer to them as "eggshells armed with sledgehammers." PFs with Warp Booster Packs gain extra warp-engine power, which they can pump into their weapons for an even bigger punch, but are even more vulnerable to enemy fire.
This is the modus operandi of the Norse team in Blood Bowl. All their human players, including their linemen, start with the vital Block skill, Catchers/Runners get Dauntless to take down opponents far above their own weight class and Blitzers/Berserkers are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. However, every single human team member starts with an Armor Value of 7...the same as a regular goblin. This makes Attack! Attack! Attack! actually a viable strategy for them since they absolutely need to maintain the initiative. If the momentum shifts against them the entire team quickly turns into messy stains on the astrogranite...
The Amazons all start with AV 7 and the Dodge skill, and they have four blitzers with the Block skill as well (which makes them one of two players who start with both these skills, the other being Wood Elf Wardancers). With Dodge negating Defender Stumbles it gives the Amazons a lot of liberties with marking plays that other teams cannot do, and their movement around the pitch is only outdone by stunty players in reliability. This allows their blitzers good access to two-die blocks and allow them wins through KOing a few vulnerable players early on. However, Nuffle help you if you end up playing dwarfs...
Yukiko and Teddie from Persona 4. Both are magic/healing specialists with a focus on respectively fire and ice. They have huge MP pools and get access to high-level fire/ice spells and Boost/Amp skills much faster than anyone (barring the main character). Both have low HP, fairly low Endurance stats, and their personas never get rid of their elemental weaknesses unlike with all the other party members. Naoto also has aspects of this, gaining the insta-kill Hama/Mudo skills, almighty spells and the attack-doubling Mind Charge spell, but is barely better than the above two in HP. Naoto is also dependent on physical skills for high damage on single targets, and physical skills are Cast from Hit Points.
The Dracosage class of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has abilities that can take out entire groups from many spaces away as well as ridiculously strong magic, but has extremely low HP and defense and dies very quickly.
The Myrmidon character class from the Fire Emblem series; very powerful, but dies if a heavy-duty attacker so much as looks at it funny.
Any flying unit, with their really low defense and weakness to arrows.
Kind of subverted in Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War, where Sword Master class excels at just about everything. They have the highest max cap in all categories except magic, magic def, and def; though the only ones with higher def are the heavy armored classes. In any case, they are definitely not fragile but this may be due to the unique pairing system of Fire Emblem 4.
The fighter and pirate classes sometimes fit this definition, they have good strength and average speed, but unimpressive defense. Dart from Blazing Sword comes to mind: absurdly high Strength and Crit ratio, poor defense and resistance, and at the beginning more than one Skill problem.
The Hunter from Left 4 Dead is generally a Fragile Speedster, but if a skilled player can land a pounce from maximum range it can hit like a ton of bricks with claws. Not to mention that it's a guaranteed kill if the player you pounce on can't be rescued by his allies.
The Boomer may qualify too. It's even more fragile than the Hunter, but a skillful puke can nail all four survivors and indirectly do far more for the Infected team.
And in Left 4 Dead 2, the Spitter has the second-lowest health of the Special Infected after the Boomer, but if someone's stupid/experimental enough to stand in a puddle of the goo from start to finish, will be almost downed on Normal difficulty, and being spat at during a horde is NO FUN AT ALL.
Shining Force: units are either incredibly sturdy or some form of this trope. The most prominent two are any promoted mages (they start out not dishing out much more damage than your other fighters, but when they learn level three spells, they become this) and centaurs, who are the strongest in terms of physical damage along with dwarves and have as much durability as a piece of wet tissue paper, even if you equip them with a lot of defensive accessories.
There are some interesting subversions too; from the first game, the monk Gong is half-giant yet has sub-par defense, whole the squid critter Domingo, while starting out with pathetic defense, will not only be one of the strongest mages in the game, but he turns into a total Meat Shield!
Final Fantasy mages tend to suffer from this trope, with characters like Vivi Ornitier, Lulu and Rydia all having powerful magic but suffering from low HP and weak defenses. Occasional subversions occur when the characters are much more resistant to magic attacks than they are physical hits.
The Ninja job in most Final Fantasy games that use the job system (and a couple that don't, such as Final Fantasy IV's Edge) are usually glass cannons, as well. Very powerful, since they can use two weapons, but they tend to have low HP and can't equip shields or heavy armor.
The Black Belt/Monk character from Final Fantasy I has staggering attack power and speed and won't last if an enemy pokes him. The class's physical defense value is equal to their level, which means they can have the highest defense in the game. The trade-off is the fact that their magic defense is pitifully low. There's a head armor item, the Ribbon, which drastically decreases magic damage, but only has a defense value of 1. Considering the other armor the class can equip is almost equally weak in terms of preventing physical damage, and you either have him glass against physical attacks, or glass against magic.
Tifa of Final Fantasy VII attacks fast and can deal impressive damage. Especially with her unique Limit Break wich stacks all the limit breaks she has learned. Notably she is the only character to gain weapons that increase her damage the more delibitating status effects she has, if it weren't for the damage cap she could be doing the most damage in the game.
Black Mages, while practically invaluable for a good portion of the game, can't equip the best armor and have pretty low HP. Summoners are sometimes in this boat as well.
Dark Shiva in Final Fantasy X International. Her most powerful attack will do, to maxed out characters, nearly 90,000 damage, and the others have pretty nasty status-related properties, one of them inflicting Death, Beserk and Confuse, and the other removing * all* positive statuses, both of them doing fairly decent damage too. On top of that, she's lightning fast. However, her HP and Defence are extremely low.
For party members, Wakka has high attack and accuracy, but one of the lowest defense stats of all of the characters.
Actually, Wakka's HP is quite high for a while. Lulu may have low HP, but she has the second highest defense (behind Auron!) and like Yuna, has godly evade. Physical attackers quite literally can't touch this.
Everyone ends up as this after you get them Celestial Weapons (which have Break Damage Limit and ignore defence) but before you can finish the sphere grid, which takes a lot of Level Grinding. When Tidus has 20,000HP and can dish out 99,999 damage, a confuse attack can lead to your entire party murdering itself in one hit each. Just another reason to hate those horrifying Greater Malboros.
Final Fantasy X-2 has a few. Berserkers are very strong but have pitiful defence, Samurai have low HP and Alchemists can mix some powerful attacks but have low HP & Def.
Filo in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. She has one of the strongest attacks in the game, but letting her near ranged enemies typically results in her quick death.
The Parivir job of Final Fantasy Tactics A 2 is offensively, the strongest hume job available, but has the endurance of wet paper if raised as a Parivir. Compliment its growth with that of a Paladin, however...
Hope in Final Fantasy XIII. With some nice weapon upgrades and the potential to throw some killer accessories on him, combined with having the highest natural magic stat in the game, he can slaughter enemies in seconds — and he had better, given his pitiful HP (the lowest in the game by a significant amount). What's more, given the way battles and stats work in this game, lots of players give up on "decent survivability for Hope" as a lost cause and choose to augment instead his damage (and his healing output—he is hands-down the best Medic in the game). Add a few hundred points to his Magic stat and give him the Auto-Faith granting accessory, and watch the fur fly. He even has a weapon that further boosts his magic ludicrously. at the cost of lowering his HP to horrifying amounts.
Lightning is also an example. She has the second best Strength and ties for second best magic, and she excels in both the Ravager and Commando roles, making her an excellent damage dealer in any situation. However, she also has the second worst HP, and when you eventually unlock her Sentinel role, you'll find that she has no Guard abilities (though she does have a great evasion-based setup, thus playing into the Fragile Speedster style).
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, the rare drops of Lightning and Amodar (Coliseum DLC) can turn Serah and Noel into one. The accessories boost Strength/Magic by 66%, but halves their HP and gives them a constant poison effect.
May from Guilty Gear. Although her defense is on par with most of the characters, she can dish more damage than most of the others.
The true glass cannons are Chipp and Millia as most characters can dish insane amount of damage anyway.
Mipsy in NeoQuest II can use many powerful spells (offensive and defensive) and so is of valuable assistance in battle. Her HP doesn't leave the double digits until she hits level 23, though, and coupled her low defense and the fact that many early-game monsters' normal attacks hit for around 10-20 HP at a time...
Romancing Sa Ga had several; Romancing Sa Ga 3 had Muse, Leonid, and Fairy. Muse had 6 LP and no weapon levels but could easily learn techniques, Leonid could remain in your party even when he runs out of LP and has 20 in several weapon types but he only has 1 LP and can only heal by drinking your allies blood (So in the final battle he falters) Fairy had decent levels in weapons but only 7 LP and a piece of permanent equipment taking up a vital slot for equipment, it also was weak against attacks used on flying creatures. Romancing Sa Ga Minstrel Song had Captain Silver, very powerful but only 7 LP and the Dragon Knight which had 5 LP and can only equip one piece of armor...but also can't lose LP from anything but running out of HP, and revives with full health instantly when he does, meaning the enemies have to wear him down all over again to take off another Life Point.
Artillery units in many Real Time Strategy games, such as Reavers and Siege Tanks in Star Craft, Mortar Teams in War Craft III or Katyushas in Rise Of Nations. Powerful, but do not last very long if left undefended. Most of them have a minimum range, too, making them all the more vulnerable (though it makes sense, as if they didn't their splash damage would hurt themselves).
Probably just a coincidence, he Alin have sand and fire units because they're staple's of Arabian Nights fantasy, and glass units because that's what you get when you mix sand and fire.
The Alin Glass Cannon does fall under the Glass Cannon trope like most other siege weapons.
Rogues in many tabletop games and MMORPGs tend to be these. Wizards, of course, are naturally squishy.
Depending on your character build in The Secret World, a DPS oriented character can have less than 1/5th the resiliency of an equivalently equipped tank while dishing out over 5 times the damage, and of course vice versa, making for a huge range of character statistics. Given the flexibility and lack of classes, playing with either extreme would be an example of voluntary Min-Maxing.
Shin Akuma and Ultimate Rugal in Capcom vs. SNK 2 have insane attack power, but they also take far more damage than any of the other characters. Naturally, since they're classified as SNK Bosses, this doesn't seem to be a problem at all for the computer... if they let you hit them.
Akuma had this status in Street Fighter III and IV as well along with player controlled Seth who bruises like a grape.
Makoto, in both SSFIV and to a lesser extent, due to parrying still being possible, in SF3. She has slightly lower than average health and defense, but much better than Akuma or Seth, and in the second highest tier for base damage. But what makes her this is her potential; she has some, if not the best, mix-ups and mind-games out of anyone, and her ultra's and supers are the highest damaging in the game, with a maximum potential of near twice the lowest damage and a good 30% higher than the closest competitor. She dropped from top 5 easy to near bottom, if not actual bottom, due to parrying being removed, as this provided her single real defensive capability, but she still has the ability to cause more damage in a shorter space of time than any other character.
To an INSANE degree of glass skin. He may be a Lightning Bruiser but one good combo and almost any super combo in the game could knock this puss out of his boots.
Phoenix. She dies with two hits...provided that she doesn't kill you in five. And that's not even counting her Dark Phoenixpersona...
Zero. If he even lands a single hit on you, prepared to be trapped in a long and damaging combo, ending with a super move. On the other hand, he has one of the lowest health in the game and can be taken out with a few hard hits or combos.
Magneto is capable of some of the best offense in the series with insane speed and mix-ups, has an incredibly useful projectile, and can deal massive damage even if you aren't willing to use any parts of your hyper meter. He barely has more bulk than Zero or Akuma, meaning that he himself can be taken out very quickly if one of his more unsafe options is countered.
Jigglypuff in the Super Smash Bros. series, particularly with regard to her lethal Rest attack. Mr. Game & Watch from the same series is almost as light (he's a two-dimensional character resembling an old LCD display) but has a multitude of quick and powerful attacks. In Brawl, Zelda has become updated to where she has downright deadly kicks and a powerful long-range attack, but is still easily tossed around.
To add to Jigglypuff's Glass Cannon status, having her shield broken sends her flying off the top of the screen at incredible speed, resulting in an instant KO.
Aqua of Kingdom Hearts. She's the mage, next to a Fragile Speedster and The Big Guy. She ends up with the highest magic, best weapon, and the second best attack. However, being mage-type she still suffers from low health and defense compared to the others. Doesn't stop her from being the most Badass though.
Squishy Wizard Donald too. The good: magic includes healing. The bad: he's relatively easy for the Heartless to stomp.
Both Sora and Riku are this in Kingdom Hearts 3D, thanks to their defensive stats being absolutely pitiful compared to that of their dream eater allies, on top of already taking more damage than them due to the damage formulas (For instance, the dream eaters take 50% more damage on Critical Mode, whereas they take three times as much). Their offensive stats tend to be lower, as well, but the damage formula favors them in that regard, allowing to cause far more damage than their allies.
Mages are this in the same game, but some nifty bonuses from multiclassing can improve that.
Not as extreme as some of the other examples, but Geno from Super Mario RPG. He has got powerful physical attacks and strong non-elemental specials and good speed but joins with below average hp, and weak special attack and defence. One can use the level-up mechanic to take away his weaknesses and turn him into a Lightning Bruiser.
In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, the Daredevil Boots item practically exemplifies the trope. On one hand, your attack power is doubled. On the other hand... you die in one hit. Fail to dodge even the weakest Goomba and you keel over.
Ivan from Golden Sun is the magical powerhouse of the party, and properly equipped, he can do massive physical damage, too. He's got the highest agility, but the lowest defense of the group. The game takes this a little far; He's also the most emotionally fragile party member.
To be fair, the guy's fifteen and has been sheltered his whole life, compared to Issac and Garet, who have been training for years to never be beaten again, and Mia has been training her magic for years as well.
Grimm from Advance Wars: Dual Strike. He has 130% attack power to all units, but only 80% defense day-to-day without using forces. One of the upsides to this is that his CO gauge fills up faster, since he's both doing and taking more damage, but the same could be said of the opponent.
It should be noted that this could work against Grimm, in the long run: because a unit's attack is partially determined by their health, and Grimm's units have such a pathetic defense, their extra attack power will go to waste once the enemy manages to retaliate and deal greater-than-average damage to his units.
Sturm from the first Advance Wars, in Campaign mode, has 120% attack and 80% defense.
In general, indirect units. They can do rather gigantic amounts of damage to anything they attack, but they cannot counterattack should they be hit, nor can they attack things that are too close to them. They also tend to have fairly low movement range. In Gameboy Wars 3, this is particularly true, or at least the parts about low defense and lack of counterattack. But they do have range fire to work with.
The rocket units are probably the glassiest ranged units. They have good range and can hit fairly hard, but can't shoot back if they get attacked and are expensive to repair or replace if they are damaged (which happens easily). They have less durability than the cheaper artillery units. Even the regular infantry can take off about 4/10 of its health if it's on a road (which it often is for movement reasons).
Bombers are monstrously powerful and are out of reach of most units, but pretty much anything that can hit them downs them in 1-2 hits.
Same can be said of all air units, really, given how effective anti-air units are at their job. Newer planes like the Stealth (DS) and Seaplane (Days of Ruin) trade the Bomber's raw power for the ability to attack ALL units ... and having some of the worst supply problems in the game. It's surprisingly easy to trap either one and just wait for it to run out of fuel.
The Mega-Tank also counts as this trope, in a manner of speaking; it can pound most anything to pieces but only gets 3 shots before requiring resupply and is slow as hell, so the moment one gets caught without support it's filled with holes in very short order.
In the Ultima series, a Glass Sword is an insta-kill, but naturally shatters after one use. Clever in the games where these are limited, a bit of a Game Breaker when you can have indefinite numbers.
While Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night is actually insanely powerful in both offense and defense, his ridiculously bloated ego prevents him from taking threats seriously for the majority of fights, resulting in the Glass Cannon effect once he's actually put on the defensive.
Assassin is also very much a glass cannon. His fighting style, unlike most other servants, is entirely dependent on not being hit at all. His toughness score is an 'E', the lowest possible. On the offensive side, his signature attack breaks the laws of physics by hitting an opponent with three sword strikes from different directions at the same time.
Caster also counts, being a Squishy Wizard. In the route she gets into most of her fights, they tend to end in her disfavour if anyone actually gets past her Beam Spam and lands a hit.
A straight Fighting Game example can be found in Tsukihime spinoff-sequel Melty Blood: Tohno Akiha, in her Inverted form (dubbed Akiha Vermilion) has the most damaging set of moves in the game, but the lowest defense. With her in a match, you can expect a round to end in two or three combos.
On the whole, the Terrans are like this in Starcraft. Their units can do fearsome single-shot damage, but they don't have nearly as many HP as comparable Protoss units. With the Terrans don't have many units that have more than 150 HP, while the very first (combat) unit the Protoss builds comes with 160.
On a similar note, the Night Elves from War Craft III are a largely Glass Cannon based faction. Their tier-1 units, the Archer and Huntress, are the most efficient damage-dealers around on their tier, and remain useful throughout the entire game with upgrades, but Archers have pathetic HP and armor, and will begin dying rapidly if a few melee units get close enough, while Huntresses have "unarmored" as their armor type, which means that they will go down fast against ranged fire. Even the Night Elves' late-game heavy melee unit, the Druid of the Claw, is more cannon-like than it's Human, Orc, or Undead counterparts, with a strong attack and useful spells, but lower HP and/or armor than its equivalents and vulnerability to anticasters.
Like any RTS, every faction's artillery unit in Warcraft acts as a long-ranged Glass Cannon, as mentioned above. The Human Mortar Team, Undead Meat Wagon, Orc Demolisher and Night Elf Glaive Thrower all fit the trope.
Similar thing for late-game heavy air units such as the Gryphon Rider, Chimaera and Frost Wyrm, who have powerful magic-type attacks, but are expensive, few in number, highly vulnerable to ranged fire or Anti Air abilities, and slow by air unit standards.
Like Zerglings in Starcraft, fully-upgraded Undead Ghouls act as little fast-moving heavy-DPS melee cannons, although their survival is often aided by dual auras from a Dread Lord - Death Knight hero duo. Still, that doesn't do a whole lot to save them when faced with splash fire from heavy air units or AoE spells from enemy heroes, which will cut through them in seconds.
Several heroes also function as Glass Cannons, especially ranged Intelligence types. The Archmage, Blood Mage and Lich go down particularly fast, yet will also deal devastating damage with their spells if they are allowed to survive long enough. The Blademaster and Warden can also be played like this, though they do have some defensive abilities that allow them to last longer or retreat when under attack.
In World of Warcraft essentially every damage dealer. Plate wearing damage dealers are slightly more durable due to heavy armor, but most raid bosses are noted for their ability to kill anything except a tank in under two seconds.
Katina Tarask from Super Robot Wars. When she first joins, she's one of the few characters you'll have that'll get the dreaded Hot Blooded Spirit command early on. She'll also eventually get the R-Gun, which literally a robot that turns into a giant gun. Too bad her defense is shoddy, and aside from destroying enemy units, the only way to boost her morale is to either have her take hits or miss her shots.
At least in J, Domon Kasshu also seems to be one of these. He has Hot Blood, of course, and once the Super/Hyper Mode activates and he gets his Finishing Moves online, he can do ridiculous quantities of damage in or out of his size range. His Shining/God Gundam is, shall we say, missing the other side of the Super Robot archetype, and his dodging skills are mediocre.
Getter-1 is traditionally one of these as well. While it has all of the powerful boss-killing attacks (Getter Beam, Shine Spark, Stoner Sunshine), it also can't dodge or take hits. Getter-2 and 3 are Fragile Speedster and Tank, respectively, so the usual strategy is to have Getter-2 do all the work until there's only the boss left, then rush in with Getter-1. No one cares about Getter-3 thanks to its Crippling Overspecialisation and no access to Air attacks. Sometime it can change depending on the game(for example, one of the stage in Alpha Gaiden has an enemy in Water. Since the other forms and all of your other good units have crappy Water rating, suddenly Getter 3 become ridiculously useful in that stage.)
Dancougar is the posterchild for this. Four (later five) pools of Spirit commands to work with compiled with very powerful attacks for both close and long range combat. It is much more efficient and practical than Combattler V or Voltes V except for having very thin armor and a very low health bar. Upgrades can alleviate this, however.
Pretty much EVERY Super Robot in Super Robot Wars Destiny is this because of a Game-Breaking Bug that makes higher armor not work properly for damage reduction. Getter 2 and Shin Getter 2 seems to be only ones worthwhile, since they weren't meant for tanking anyways and instead have evasive skills. Thankfully, their possesion of Open Get ability that gives chance of evasion, coupled with 3 pilot seishin make all three form fairly useful, in fact Destiny is the only game where all three forms are fairly balanced when it comes to usefulness.
Ironically the Poseidon is the most useful out of all three forms of Shin Dragon, thanks to its long range weapon. The Armor Bug makes putting Super in frontline rather pointless anyway, so its possession of long range weapon with cheap EN consumption makes it the form that you want to use against grunts.
Perhaps the best example for the whole series would be the Dunbine and Billvine/Billbine. They are incredibly fragile with non-existent armor and are as fast and dodgy as that would imply. The catch is that they also hit like bricks with their "Hype Aura Slash" attacks which are powered by their pilot's "Aura Battler" skills, making the billbine one of the best units to do huge amounts of damage, but a single hit to it means you lose a unit.
The Atreides Sonic Tank in Dune II, Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle For Dune is incredibly powerful, but has practically paperboard armor.
Pyro's and Charnel's units in Sacrifice. Charnel's units are not only weak, they don't regain hitpoints over time.
Oswald in ' is immensely deadly in speed and strength, but has the weakest defense of all the characters. This is meant to reflect his recklessness and disregard of his own cursed life. Funnily enough, this is balanced out by his HP stats being much, much easier and faster to level than the other four protagonists, compensating easily for how much damage he takes.
Mercedes is definitely the Glass Cannon of the game, considering how much damage she dishes out contrasted with her basically non-existent HP. An astonishing number of things will One-Hit Kill Mercedes.
The Ronin class from Etrian Odyssey (and especially its sequel) possess incredibly high attack power, and have exclusive access to one of the strongest classes of weapon, but can equip very little in terms of armor, leaving them quite vulnerable.
The Gunner class can also be considered a Glass Cannon, except Gunners are supposed to be back-row characters anyway, which mitigates their low defense, to an extent. A more proper example, however, would be a Hexer specialized in using Revenge: so long as its HP is low, they'll be able to deal huge damage (up to 255% the amount of damage they've taken). As long as you can keep them alive, of course.
The Blaster archetype in City of Heroes is built around this trope. They have the highest damage output of all the archetypes. However, not only do they share the lowest rate of hit-point gain with a couple of other Squishy Wizard Archetypes, but whereas every other Archetype has at least one power set devoted to defending themselves, boosting their natural abilities, hindering enemy attacks, or summoning pets to protect them, the Blaster's power sets are Ranged Attacks and... Melee Attacks.
Not for nothing do Blasters refer to themselves as the 'Floor Inspector's Union' - a blaster expects to get defeated (and they spend a lot of time face down looking at the floor) at least once per mission.
Supreme Commander features this trope in several experimentals and units, particularly those of the Aeon. The various mobile artillery units, Sprite Striker, Usha-Ah, Czar, and Aurora are among the more prominent.
The extra 43000 HP the CZAR gets in the expansion moves it out of Glass Cannon into Mighty Glacier like most experimental units.
The Hare species from Monster Rancher, especially in the series' earlier incarnations, is an entire race of Glass Cannons. They tend to have extremely high attack and speed, but their HP and defense are quite pathetic. Their speed makes them hard to hit, but if they do, they're in for a world of hurt.
In Team Fortress 2, the Scout, while mainly being a Fragile Speedster, can inflict some serious ouch with his Sawed Off Shotgun. His unlockables tend to enhance this status: the Force-a-Nature lets you fire two shots in half a second, but has little use in prolonged combat. The Sandman lets you stun an enemy to disable their weapon, but significantly reduces your health. Finally, the Crit-a-Cola makes all damage you inflict and take mini-crits.
There's also the Spy, who relies on cloak and disguise to get past the enemy, and can be killed by stray bullets. Successfully getting behind an opponent, however, yields instant death. Speed, distance and stealth, all accounted for.
And the Sniper, for much the same reason as the Spy. Snipers have low health, fairly weak close-to-mid range attack options (unless you're dealing with a Sniper using the Huntsman), and are exceedingly prone to getting backstabbed while scoped. However, a single charged headshot is enough to kill just about anything, and charged body shots are still exceedingly painful. A properly positioned Sniper can be just as devastating to an attacking team as a sentry.
Since the Jarate was added in the Sniper vs. Spy Update, and the Bushwhacka in the Polycount Update, the Sniper can actually perform a two-step critical melee, guaranteed to do 195 damage and destroy any class that would realistically be in his way. But his midrange is weak, even if he's using the SMG, unless he's using the Huntsman.
Colette Brunel from Tales Of Symphonia is, in a way, a Glass Cannon. She's slow, has sub-par HP and DEF, but despite her deceptive ATK, she has easily some of the strongest hits in the game. For example, her Para Ball tech only uses 14 TP, but deals out 4.6 times her normal damage, which is higher than an average Level 3 tech.
Rita Mordio of Tales Of Vesperia qualifies. As a mage, she deals the highest damage out of all the party members and is arguably the cheapest character in the game, but if any bosses get near her she's good as dead. Strangely, this quality isn't reflected in the storyline.
Beryl Benito of Tales Of Hearts. In a game where four out of six characters have spells and everyone has techs, Beryl marks herself as the Squishy Wizard with high Tech Attack and spells in four elements, more than any other playable character, and three of the highest-level spells (there are seven, and only one of each in the whole party). She also has significantly less HP than everyone else, and dies very fast on any difficulty higher than Normal unless she was taken along a growth path that sacrifices either abilities or spells for increase stats.
Hubert Oswell, of Tales Of Graces is an extremely versatile and hard-hitting melee character, putting out some of the strongest numbers among the cast, but his defense is also extremely low, meaning in order to properly make use of him you REALLY need to learn how to dodge.
The mages of Majesty: Fantasy Kingdom Sim are absolutely brutal nuke-machines on higher levels and practically required to knock down some of the most powerful enemies. The problem is actually keeping them alive until they reach the higher levels, with what so little HP that a falling leaf would down them.
This is not an exaggeration (much). At level 1, they have 4 HP. If they get hit even once, there's a good chance that they'll die from it.
Practically all classic fantasy MMORPGs have examples of these in their mages and often also in their rogues. For example, World of Warcraft has a couple of DPS caster variants - mages, warlocks & shadow priests. This is especially true for mages who choose to specialise in Fire magic, which gives them the ability to burn their enemies to death really quickly and die whenever someone looks at them.
Fire Mages are a perfect example of this. It's not about how long you live, but how large a crater you leave behind.
Magi, after being nerfed badly years ago, had their complaints summed by a community manager with "they don't consider themselves glass cannons anymore, just plain old glass".
Balance Druids, on the other hand, have access to a massive armor boost. Which they need, seeing as they can heal and are subject to Shoot the Medic First - or maybe people just hate moonfire spam.
Warlocks take the trope a step further and have a demon to protect them at all times (unless the player is suicidal), while Mages get temporary pets and Shadow Priests get nothing. They also have a larger HP pool on average then other casters but this is double edged due to the fact that after they run low on Mana they must use a unique ability called Lifetap to convert HP into MP (and they have a lower MP pool as a result) and they will also choose equipment that favors their HP stat (i.e. ones that boost stamina) over ones that boost their mana as well.
This is no longer accurate. The Cataclysm expansion changed Warlock dynamics and made them much less MP-intensive for single-target spells (although prolonged use of area effect attacks still drains MP quickly), shifting preference to intelligence as the prime stat. Lifetap now also provides a LOT more MP for much less HP than it used to.
Rogue sorta fits this, especially when the game first came out. They were the highest DPS of the melees but also the most fragile. Their evasion and HP makes them a lot less fragile than the clothies though.
Wizard 101 has the Storm school which has spells that do the most single round damage but has the lowest HP growth
Dynasty Warriors likes this one in varying quantities, due to its large cast that hits each and every gaming archetype shamelessly just so the gameplay can support 70+ characters. The worst was Cao Cao in Dynasty Warriors 3, where he could get a sword that killed Mooks in one hit (and damaged stronger enemies significantly) with a death-based elemental attack on a certain special move (which in turn filled up his Musou gauge nearly instantly), but was extremely weak defensively, to the point where he'd die frequently even though his near constant Musou attacks made him invincible during their use. In Dynasty Warriors 4, a special item could be applied to allow one's character to turn into the Glass Cannon: it halved defense while doubling offense.
Also one of Mori Ranmaru's two special abilities in Samurai Warriors 2 was to lower defense but raise offense, albeit this was as a command move with limited duration.
The Ace Combat's games' use of the F-5 Tiger amounts to this; this also applies to the "Mobius One" version (it's DownLoadable Content) of the F-22 Raptor in Ace Combat 6: dramatically reduced Defense in return for maxed out Mobility, Speed, and Air-to-Air ratings. It also applies to the Yellow 13 version of the Su-33 in that same game. In Ace mode all planes are One Hit Point Wonders to a missile hit (except in X where some planes have enough defence to survive one more), so the question is not how strong the glass, as in lower difficulties, but how much cannon and Speedster/Lightning it's packing.
Airforce Delta Strike has the unusual example of Jamie, whose prop fighters have slow top speed, crazy agility and are loaded with guns, rockets and unguided bombs that—coupled with score multipliers for unguided weapon kills—allow him to rack up insanely high scores on just about every mission you can use him.
Shen Woo from The King Of Fighters. Good speed, incredible strength... and it only takes five or six hits to knock him out.
Bao is an even more blatant example. He's got such awful defenses that a single combo ending in a SDM can either kill or bring him in the red. On the other hand, his specials and Supers do an absolutely sickening amount of damage - he has one of the few Supers that, when used properly, can result in a One-Hit Kill.
Carriage Ballista in Rome: Total War expansion "Barbarian Invasion". Mobile artillery that can tear apart any Mighty Glacier unit but will die if an enemy as much as looks at it funny. Also prone to Friendly Fire problems.
Zero of Mega Man X and Zero qualifies, especially compared to his fellow hunter X. He's a devastating close-range fighter, but he takes lots of damage and there's not much you can do to change that. X, on the other hand, gets tons of upgrades every game, and one of them is always an armor part that cuts the damage he takes in half. Thus Zero starts each game stronger than X but is outclassed heavily by the end. Capcom seems to like it that way, because they've twice provided secret armors for Zero that double the damage he deals and the damage he takes (Black Zero in X8, Junk Armor in Zero 4).
In X8, the Black Zero required getting Zero's other upgrades first, including an armor upgrade like X's and the Sigma Blade which had double the power of his basic sword.
In the RPGMega Man X Command Mission, he eventually obtains a bad-ass looking fire sword called the Red Lotus Saber. Offensively it's so powerful it renders his ultimate combo skill and the secret Absolute Zero armor virtually pointless, but then he takes over twice the damage other party members do from the same attacks when equipping it.
Ironically in X3, the first game where Zero was playable, he was more of a Mighty Glacier. He had a charge shot attack that could allow two charge shots and a charged slash at full power, but was slower than X and couldn't airdash.
Not to mention X's Z sword is far superior to Zero's.
Interestingly enough, when Zero happens to make an appearance in a Fighting Game (Namely SNK Vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom). He still happens to be this among the cast of the respective games. Mind you, there also tends to be worse than him among the Glass Cannons in the cast as well.
In Zero games, you die in a few hits without upgrades. But the game is designed that way and it's easy to avoid hits. It's badass this way.
Proto Man has become this in the later games in the classic series. His charged shots deal a lot of damage (in Powered Up they kill most stage enemies in one hit), but he also takes a lot of damage; about twice as much as Mega Man.
An extreme example is found in Castlevania Circle Of The Moon. With the right DSS cards, Nathan can transform into one of the skeleton enemies; the bones he throws have a small chance of being giant bones that inflict 9999 damage. The catch? Any damage the skeleton takes is worth 9999 too. You'll never have that much HP, so this transformation is very risky.
In Order of Ecclesia, the Death Ring causes all your stats to shoot to impossible levels... but one hit will kill you.
Most of the later games have an unlockable glass cannon that you can play as after beating the game once. You usually get a third of the HP the main character has, and you can't use items or equip new weapons. To make up for it you get bigger, stronger weapons, a faster running speed, and special abilities like double-jumping, super-jumping, and sliding at the beginning of the game rather than gradually learning them. Examples include Richter from Symphony of the Night, Maxim from Harmony of Dissonance, Julius from the Sorrow Games, and Albus from Order of Ecclesia.
In Symphony of the Night the Ring of Ares is an item that turns Alucard himself into a glass cannon, minimizing his defense while drastically increasing his attack power.
There's also an enemy example in the Nova Skeleton, which has as much health as a normal skeleton (which is very little) but shoots a laser that can do at least 90 damage the first time you meet it.
In Wild ARMs 3, you get a sand ship, which you can customize at the cost of moderately rare items. You can increase various stats of your ship, but if you just scrape up enough to buy the best cannon and arrange your party properly so you always go first, you can use the "Fire All Ammo" command and one-shot anything you fight in it. At all. Including the boss blocking you form accessing the larger portion of the sand-sea.
The preview of Diablo III on Gamesradar has this line about a newly unveiled class: "The Wizard is what Blizzard dub their ?glass cannon? class: a ranged spell-flinger with all the armor of a yogurt cup".
The Wizard actually has a passive skill called Glass Cannon (+15% damage, -10% defence and resistance).
The Wizard class in Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords. Players will spend their first twenty or so levels getting punked by enemies the other classes could take out with little trouble, thanks to the Wizard's low physical attacking strength and lower hit points (and lack of the Druid's defensive spells). Aggravated depending on which version you're playing (The PC version has stricter recharge times on spells like Fireball, which is spammable in the DS and 360 versions). By the time the Level Cap is hit, the attack and life points are still low, but the player will have an array of spells capable to taking out most enemies in five rounds or less.
Artillery cannons in general. While they're powerful, have great splash damage, and sometimes possess ridiculously long range, if as so much as a rocket soldier comes near, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye. Well, it's not that bad if you can run over it.
Red Alert 2 has the Prism Tank (which fires long-range Frickin' Laser Beams that can hit multiple units), Mirage Tank (it disguises itself as tree and several of these can take out an Apocalypse Tank easily), and Tesla Tank (which is just powerful, has long range, and ignores line of sight requirements). However, two-three shots from the basic Soviet Rhino Tank will take any of these out.
Red Alert 3 pretty much continues the tradition; artillery units will get hammered even by weak infantry units. Most aerial units are pretty much glass cannons as well; Allied Century bombers can carpet bomb entire bases out of existence, WWII-style, Soviet Twin Blade helicopters pack a lot of firepower, especially in numbers (helps that they're somewhat inexpensive) and Japanese Rocket Angels are one of the few units that can devastate both air and ground/sea targets with equal aplomb, but all three types tend to suck in one-on-one battles against anti-air units. The only real exception to the "aerial unit = glass cannon" rule is the Kirov airship which is just a pure and simple bullet-sponge.
Uprising added the Harbinger and Giga-Fortress as exceptions. The Habringer was more durable than the Kirov, but faster then it and most heavy ground units, though compared to most aircraft it's still pretty slow compared to other aircraft (the thing is already considered a Gamebreaker when it isn't a Lighting Bruiser). The Giga Fortress is as slow as Kirov, but its firepower causes people also consider a Gamebreaker, even though it costs an arm and a leg.
The demolition truck from Red Alert and Red Alert 2. They pack a nuke, so it's a nuke on wheels and I believe they have a faster build time than the nuke's charge time. But if they take any damage...
Against infantry, and sometimes tanks: grenadiers and flame throwers. When in groups, they can wreak devastation. However, when they die, they explode, taking down the rest of their squad mates.
To an extent, the Obelisk of Nod and Tesla coils. Granted they dish a lot of damage, they also have the problem of being only able to target one enemy at a time. They also chew up a lot of power and are expensive. And they're about as flimsy as a house of cards.
In the Red Alert series, capital ships, including the cruiser (RA1), dreadnoughts, aircraft carriers (both RA2 and 3), and Shoguns (RA3), avert this trope by being the most heavily armored naval units in the game. The Grand Cannon in RA2 also averts this trope, although it is immobile and, in skirmish games, it is only available to the French. The GDI Juggernaut/Behemoth of CnC 3 also averts this trope.
C&C Generals has units such as the Chinese Inferno and Nuke Cannons, the GLA Scud Launcher and Bomb Truck and (debatably) the US Humvee, that have tremendously high attack power but are in mortal danger if so much as one or two basic infantry with rifles walk up to them. The Nuke Cannon sometimes even says "Careful, she's fragile" when selected.
But as long as you stick at least one Pathfinder (sniper) in the Humvee - which can carry five infantry, with the ability to shoot from inside - enemy infantry is getting nowhere near it. Add 3 Missile Defenders, and the same goes for light vehicles.
M.U.G.E.N gives us a version of Light Yagami, who has one attack - he reads the enemy's name under their health bar and writes it in the Death Note. Four hits will knock him out, but if you don't get them in before he's done writing, you lose.
Agility carry heroes from the (in)famous WarCraft 3 map Defense Of The Ancients partially fit this archetype. Their primary and damage-determining attribute, Agility, also affects attack speed, thus making them good DPS dealers. The rub comes in the tradeoff on Strength, which affects health maximum and regeneration. However, Agility under the WC3 engine also affects physical damage-reducing armour, thus lessening the "glassiness" slightly.
Kadie from Crimson Tears. Highest innate attack stat of the three playable characters, and exclusive access to the two most powerful types of melee weapon. Lowest HP and Defense of the three characters, as well.
The Archer line of classes in Maple Story fall into this category by the endgame, gaining some of the most powerful attacks in terms of raw DPS, but dying in 2 hits to enemies twenty or more levels below them, and a single hit (without HP-increasing buffs) to many bosses with unavoidable magic attacks.
Myth: The Fallen Lords has Dwarves and Fetch who throw Molotov cocktails/shoot lightning from their fingertips respectively. Devastating to a horde of slow-moving units such as thrall, but it only takes a few arrows or sword blows to kill them.
Mortal Kombat: Deception's Shujinko could acquire moves from multiple characters in the game, giving him the most moves out of everyone else by the time you got them all. The downside is, he has lower defense than most characters.
In Mass Effect, Garrus Vakarian is pretty much one of these. He is one of only three squad members who can use assault rifles - the most powerful and versatile weapon in the game - and one of only two characters who can use sniper rifles. On top of that, his class is Turian Agent, which gives him up to a 30% bonus to assault rifle and sniper rifle accuracy and damage. On top of that, he has access to Assault Training, which gives him an additional 10% boost to all damage, plus the Adrenaline Burst talent, which lets him remove the cooldown timers on all of his talents. On top of that, he has access to the Sabotage, Overload, and Damping powers, allowing him to shut down enemy weapons, shields, and tech/biotic powers. In short, he can lock down an enemy and slaughter the remainder faster than anyone else, and then do it all again a second later, all from a very long range. The only problem is, of all the "combat" characters, he has the lowest health, cannot use the Fitness talent (which boosts health and provides the Immunity power) and can only wear medium armor at best, and that only after significant investment in talent points. Fortunately, the Electronics talent lets him boost his shields several times over to make up for that deficiency.
In Mass Effect 2, Garrus is still a class cannon. However, he is joined by Kasumi Goto, Mordin Solus, and Legion, the last of which has low health and decent shields, but has access to the most powerful sniper rifle in the game, which can one-hit almost anything. Mordin has both hard-hitting offensive tech powers (Incinerate and Cryo Blast), plus Neural Shock (which paralyzes opponents), but has extremely low health and shields. But the crowning glory has to be Kasumi Goto, a thief with fragile health and shields, along with the distinction of having one of the only melee abilities in the entire game. A very effective ability that she cloaks and uncloaks to use, but still.
Don't forget Thane Krios, either, who is essentially Garrus with biotic powers instead of tech. Still very squishy. Also, Legion's Glass Cannon status goes down considerably after a couple of upgrades push his shields from "decent" to "second only to Shepard. Maybe."
And, of course, there's Jack. Her biotic powers may be cranked Up to Eleven, but they're all geared exclusively towards offense. She has one of the lowest defensive capabilities of any of the party members (only Mordin and Kasumi have lower values), and is likely to die if left to hold the line at the game's final battle. If you leave her behind and want to keep her alive, you'd better make sure she's loyal.
The Normandy herself is a glass cannon. The Normandy SR-1 can fire a shot that will pierce a Reaper's carapace; the SR-2 has an added upgrade of a pair of cannons that shoot a hypervelocity stream of liquid metal. But if she gets hit, she is in a WORLD of hurt.
Only if you didn't upgrade the shields and armor along with the gun. She's probably the toughest frigate in the galaxy, and frigates aren't typically sent against dreadnoughts. And the Collector cruiser that destroyed the SR-1 had a directed-energy weapon, something that kinetic barriers are literally useless against.
In Mass Effect 3, it is revealed that the Quarians have fitted their massive "Live Ships" with very big mass drivers. This effectively makes them some of the most heavily armed ships in the galaxy. The fact that they carry no armor and little defensive armament, and that they also carry the Migrant Fleet's civilian population, leaves most people who learn this utterly appalled. Joker actually drops this trope's name when explaining why it was such a terrible idea.
And in the third game's multiplayer, the drell and geth characters fall squarely into glass cannon territory with a healthy dose of Fragile Speedster to boot. Drell characters are blessed with one of the best racial passive powers (Drell Assassin), which pushes their weapon and power damage both to levels higher than most other race/class powers, and receive bonuses to their movement speed from Fitness, but have only half the normal barrier strength of most classes. The geth, on the other hand, abuse Hunter Mode to send their damage output through the roof (the Geth Infiltrator actually has the highest potential weapon damage of all playable classes) at the cost of half their maximum shields. The exception to the geth rule is the Trooper Soldier, which is...obscenely hard to kill.
The Volus are an even more extreme example, having pitiful amount of health and not even able to use cover perfectly (although they are short enough for this normally not to be an issue). They can, however dish out an insane amount of damage, and have a lot of nice abilities (such as the ability to turn invisible) as race abilities, regardless of class.
All Artillery units in Star Wars: Empire at War and its expansion, although the Consortium's artillery at least has shields to let it last longer...
Stealth Bombers, the Tech 2 version of a missile frigate in Eve Online. A half-dozen can take out a Battleship in one volley, but they will die if you so much as look at them funny. Of course, their two best defenses are the Covert Ops cloak (lets you warp around cloaked with no speed penalty, neither of which other cloaks can do) and the fact that large-size guns and missiles (like the ones a BS would mount) have a hard time hitting a target the size of the SB (frigs, both T1 and T2, are considered small-sized targets, and guns/missiles are designed to be most effective against the same size target).
Tier-3 Battlecruisers are practically designed around this trope: nothing short of a full-fledged capital ship can mount more firepower (eight battleship-class guns, matching the most powerful sub-capital battleships in the game), but their defenses are paper-thin. In combat, they'll be priority targets because their massive firepower can be neutralized quickly, but if a squad of Tier-3 battlecruisers warps into a firefight while the enemy's focus is elsewhere...
The Liir are an almost better example. Liir ships are slow tactically, bulky, fragile, have few turret mounts, and have very high mass for their size (because they're filled with liquid). But the Liir's frightful research speed ensures they'll almost always be a level above you in the high-tech weapons, their ships have a lot of special weapons slots (such as for heavy beams and torpedoes), and they can quickly reconfigure their ships to counter your own technological advances. Their ships also turn on a dime and have the highest base strategic speed outside of the Node drive. They're also more likely to get those nice hard-to-get techs, such as point-defense phasers (which can defeat most Macross Missile Massacres) and advanced cloaks (which allows you to fire while being invisible). This is taken Up to Eleven in the sequel, where the Liir-Prester Zuul Alliance gives Liir access to Zuul riders with the More Dakka that implies but no real durability benefit.
Your sword beam in the early The Legend Of Zelda games only works when your health is absolutely full... one hit with the weakest enemy attack will disable it.
The Black Imps in Okami are supposed to be the most powerful of the imp enemies, yet can be killed easily with the more powerful weapons and Brush Techniques in the game.
The Commando class from Battlefield Heroes combines a knife wielding, invisibility-enabled spy with a sniper. Knife attacks can kill other players more or less instantly while the piercing shot ability makes sniper rifle bullets more damaging that a direct hit from a tank cannon, but they have only 80 health and die extremely quickly.
Hunters from Halo are like this, especially in the first one. They are the most powerful enemies with the strongest cannon (even if their accuracy leaves something to be desired). However, aiming for the orange spot is an easy way to kill them, and thanks to a programming error in the first one, it's a one hit kill. They were upgraded to Mighty Glaciers in the second game, and were outright Lightning Bruisers by Halo: Reach.
The Scorpion in Halo Reach (in the Beta at least). It's cannon pretty much slaughters the opposing team with lethal effect... But an Elite rolling/Jet packing up close to board it can take it out with just one measly grenade easily.
Ragnathe Bloodedge from BlazBlue has a very high damage output, but has the second lowest HP in the game and rather sucky defence. Not even the life-draining ability that he has is rectifying much of the problem. He doesn't have ranged attacks or a sword long enough to play keep-away with, either. As a warning, this is the game's main character. Tier Induced ScrappyNu-13 also has very good damage, especially with spam herDrive, but she shares the second lowest HP place with ragna and her defence ain't too hot either. As it is she's reviled already; she would be a full-blown SNK Boss if it got any better.
In the third game there's AmaneNishiki who has even lower HP and defence than Ragna but can take off huge chunks of your own health, even on block. Especiallyon block.
The Jansen Carbon X12 in Burnout Paradise: Very fast, very agile, can turn very sharply into its enemies; but very light, very weak, and very easy to wreck.
The 2004 The Bards Tale game has the Vorpal Rat. Has the highest damaging attack among your summons, but it has only 1 HP.
The Pastamancer and Sauceror classes in Kingdom Of Loathing. Their highest-level spells allow them to hit MUCH higher damage totals than any other classes (except maybe a Seal Clubber at super-high levels), especially since they can use Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors to REALLY lay down the pain (though this is moreso for the Pastamancer, who can use all 5 elements, as opposed to Saucerors, who can only use Hot and Cold spells). However, they also have naturally low Muscle and Moxie, so they're easy to hit and won't take much punishment before getting beaten up.
Saucerors outgrow this by midpoint in development and become Stone Walls, but Pastamancers' offense becomes ever more powerful without any of the defenses a Sauceror acquires.
The Avatar of Jarlsberg special challenge path is an even bigger glass cannon. It gives you almost no defensive or self-healing ability (unless you invest in the Mr. Store item "Jarlsberg's pan"), but it does give you access to some of the most damaging spells in the game.
Stranger himself in the later parts of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, where after being revealed as a Steef, any upgrades he's got have been stolen by him, including health/armor. However he later gains much more powerful versions of his ammo, a charge attack to replace his headbutt and because of the fact that Moolah is no longer of use to him, he doesn't have to pull punches and keep enemies alive now.
The eradicator Unit from Machines Wired For War can wipe out nearly any other unit but is weak, slow and probably will destroy itself in close combat.
Luminous Arc 2's Ayano is one of the strongest and fastest fighters in the game, yet for obvious reasons, her physical defence isn't quite as high. But she can tank against magic, due her high Resistance.
In Warhammer Dark Omen your Bright Wizard is obviously like this, capable of raising inferno on a specific patch of land and soaring across the battlefield on a teleport-like Fire Wings but easily killed (well, as easily as almost any other human combatant in your army, it's just that they fight in squads and he is alone). To a lesser extent this trope is fitted by the flagellants. They are fast, furiously insane and swinging Epic Flails, but on the other hand they are few and cannot wear armor.
In Heroes Of Newerth Puppet Master fits this to a T. 2 of his skills are essentially extra DPS and he has low strength growth. What makes him different than the Agility carries is that their Agil growth boosts their armor significantly; being an Intelligence hero, Puppet gets the short end of that one.
King, an NPC from Cave Story, is like this in the cutscenes. On the one hand, he's able to take out Balrog with one hit (which the player character can't do, even with the same weapon King used). On the other hand, he gets pushed around by Toroko, and a single hit from Misery is enough to mortally wound him.
[Misery blasts King across the room.] The Doctor: My, are they really so fragile before the rage takes them?
Remeer and Ferris, the two selectable playable protagonists from Mystic Ark. Next to the fighter and ninja, they're the best hitters of the game, but have some of the lowest Guard in the game. Getting trapped in the haunted mansion world alone doesn't make this any better.
Buzz Buzz from EarthBound was very powerful for a character that early on in the game. However he is killed (by swatting) easily by Pokey's mother, who apparently thought he was a dung beetle.
In a gameplay example we have Paula, your Squishy Wizard and Fragile Speedster. Jeff could also count; he can take a few more hits than Paula, but he's still pretty soft. His physical attacks, however, are powerful, and he's the only character that can use the Game Breaker bottle rockets.
The Ghost Sniper from Bubble Tanks 2 combines this with Fragile Speedster. It has the least amount of health out of all the final evolution paths, but it is the fastest of them all, can become intangible (and hence invulnerable), and has an exploding piercing sniper round that is the strongest attack in the game (surpassing even that of the Super Heavy'sMega cannon).
The Horseman, which uses a Death or Glory 'charge' attack that causes it to deal and take double damage in melee on it's turn. Good for dealing finishing blows or hitting Squishy Wizards, but can backfire catastrophically against a melee target. Its upgrade, the Lancer, takes this Up to Eleven.
An even more extreme Death or Glory attacker is the Dwarvish Ulfserker, and it's upgrade, the Berserker, pictured above. It will not stop attacking in melee until either it or its opponent is dead. The Ulf is thus extremely effective against Squishy Wizards and other ranged units, but since the ability triggers in the enemy's turn as well, it also makes it extremely vulnerable against almost all standard melee units, which will either defeat it or heavily injure it in a straight fight, and are usually cheaper too.
A more mundane example would be the Mage and it's upgrades, and it's chaotic counterpart, the Dark Adept. These units are just standard Squishy Wizard Glass Cannons, with powerful magical ranged attacks but low HP, no impressive resistances, and pathetic or no melee attacks. A melee Glass Cannon would be the Thief and its upgrades, but they need to Back Stab in order to gain their high damage.
There are also the various offense-oriented upgrade options for units that were, in themselves, not Glass Cannons, but became so upon leveling up. Such as the Deathblade, which deals a good 25% more damage and moves 20% faster than it's counterpart, the Revenant, but has lower HP and cannot level up further. Or the Shadow, which gains the ability to skirmish, nightstalk, and Back StabFor Massive Damage, but loses the defensive edge granted by the life-draining ability of its counterpart, the Wraith. Or the Elvish Marksman, which does very high damage for its level and gets an accuracy-boosting ability, but sacrifices the melee strength, HP, and hiding ability of the Elvish Ranger. The list could go on and on...
The Drakes are an entire race of Glass Cannons. They're super fast with their wings and have powerful attacks - all but one of the drake units have both melee and ranged attacks - but they're exceedingly weak against anything pointy or cold. They're also lawful and very expensive. Fighting undead with them is, therefore, an exercise in getting all of your drakes into defensive positions by nightfall and using horribly weak saurians to try and keep your attacking momentum.
Maria, the protagonist of Knights In The Nightmare, is a variation of this. For context, the only way to regenerate the lost vitality of your party members is to sacrifice the souls of other party members, who you get a long stream of. Since she's necessary for the story, Maria is unique in that she regenerates fully between levels. To keep the player from abusing this, she starts every battle with significantly less vitality than other characters. However, since the main character needs to be special, she can equip every weapon in the game and is quite effective in their use.
A few ships in FreeSpace fall into this. Ironically, it's most apparent in the ship design of the Omnicidal Maniac Shivans, who build their ships with all the firepower in front. They have much more effective weapons, but a ship to the sides or behind will tear them apart. This is not always an exploitable weakness; destroyers like the Ravana can jump in and shred their targets in seconds, leaving it up to the reinforcements to exploit its blind spots, assuming it doesn't just leave.
Alpha Centauri lets you design units like this, and the game's combat mechanics exacerbate it tremendously. When a unit attacks another, the only factors involved are the attacker's firepower and the defender's armor rating (not, as one would think, both sides' firepower modified by the opposing side's armor). So a unit can be utterly unkillable so long as it's doing the shooting, but turns into the Red Shirt Army when on the defensive. Of course, units with both heavy armor and heavy weaponry are exponentially more expensive, so it's often best to built Stone Wall units to stand alongside them on the off chance someone starts taking shots at them.
Helicopter units, which are the only air units able to attack multiple times per turn, epitomize this. Unless the defender has some interceptors or units with anti-air tracking, a few helicopters with decent weapons can rapidly trash a city's garrison and let your ground forces stroll in and take over.
In Eternal Darkness, you can control Dr. Edward Roivas, Alex's grandfather and de facto narrator of the story, in one level. He has probably the lowest health in all the game. However, in his level you can acquire the Elephant Gun, which can be set to fire double-barrels, and often knocks scrawny Edward flat on his ass when he fires it. But you can do massive damage to, if not outright kill a lot of enemies with even one single barrel shot with it.
In the Geneforge series, Shapers and Agents usually prioritize Intelligence and either Shaping or magic skills over Endurance (which raises health) or Strength (which increases the weight of equipment a character can equip). The Gruesome Charm item, which appears in all games after the second, encourages this by raising Intelligence and Dexterity at the cost of lowering Endurance.
The Wingbolt creations have fast and blistering attacks, but are very frail. They're best placed at the back of a Shaper's army, but a Shock Trooper can make best use of these by tanking and healing as they snipe.
Contra has been designed this way all the time, as Bill Rizer and his partner can kill lots of enemies in one powerful shot - especially with the Spray Shot. However, they die by just taking a bullet, making the dodging skill extremely important for players to beat the game. (The Japanese version of Contra Hard Corps gives the heroes an ability to take 3 bullets before dying, but it still applies here.)
Viper II and its descendants from Virtual On can count as this, too. Their models are basically designed to have more powerful weapons and greater speed than Temjin with the downside of having a paper-thin armor.
Jedi Consulars in both Knights of the Old Republic games, along with well as the Prestige Classes Jedi Master and Sith Lord in the second. They get lots of Force powers (three every two levels) and positively silly amounts of Force points to use them with, but they get much fewer Vitality Points than the more combat-oriented class, in addition to getting less feats and skill points.
When Alex Mercer of Prototype starts, he's a Lightning Bruiser. Nothing can hurt him much, and he kills with virtually no effort. Suddenly, only several missions in (after only a few following gaining the armor), his defense begins losing its value. He still kills like nobody's business and can tackle Thermobaric Tanks, helicopters and even entire buildings with little effort on offense, but even with an upgraded health bar he takes HUGE damage and begins realizing how squishy he truly is. The enemy also picks up on this as the game progresses, as he is often interrupted from healing by rocket fire. Although this is not so much that he is glass from the start - he can take multiple anti-tank missiles or tank shells after all - but that the enemy is upping its offensive game faster than he is his defensive.
Red spirits in Eien No Aselia fall into this role. They have a lot amount of actions per round and have poor shield skills, but do damage to all opponents at once. Pretty heavy damage, too. Orpha would be the strongest example as the beefier green spirits or Etrangers normally have at least twice the amount of health she does.
A common ship design choice in Galactic Civilizations 2. With the first expansion, the Arcean Empire's "Super Warrior" ability (which is available to custom races) allows glass cannons to absolutely maul pretty much anyone, especially other glass cannons, by vaporising them before they can shoot back.
They're, essentially, a must when facing the Dread Lords. Their smallest ships outclass anything you have for a good chunk of the game. Until you research some powerful weapons, defenses, and hulls, your best bet is to outfit cargo ship hulls (1 HP) with tons of weapons, an engine or two, and nothing else. You end up throwing fleets of One Hit Point Wonders at a single Dread Lord ship until it's damaged enough to leave you alone.
In Baldur's Gate2Big Bad Jon Irenicus goes down very quickly if you can remove his protection spells. Just hope you can pull it off before he tears you apart with Time Stop and Power Word spells. Contrast with the Made of IronBig Bad of the previous game who could take plenty of hits and had insane magic resistance but is limited to powerful melee power attacks.
The Arcane Horrors from Dragon Age: Origins are pretty fragile, but hit hard with their magical attacks.
In Company of Heroes the British have the Sherman Firefly, which has an extremely powerful 17-pounder gun but still features the same weak armor and lackluster mobility of any other model of Sherman tank. Tank-Destroyers, such as the Marder III, are also examples, as they typically feature powerful guns attached to a lightly armored chassis to improve mobility, as well as to reduce cost. The ultimate example is the American M18 "Hellcat" which has a powerful gun and paper thin armor, but is also one of the fastest units in the game.
Sengoku Basara's third game ("Heroes") has Ishida Mitsunari. While also having aspects of a Fragile Speedster, his extremely fearsome melee range and rapid attacks turn him into this. Mitsunari is capable of tearing most enemies to shreds in melee but can't take it in return: At around level 30 his HP is about the same as most other characters' are at level 1, and his defence score is the second worst in the game after Kotaro's.
He's not the only one. His Dragon Yoshitsugu has very impressive range and crowd control abilities but since he's a sickly leper his health is pretty dinky (luckily both Mitsunari and Yoshitsugu are of the Dark element, meaning that with an elemental weapon they gain health by killing mooks). Also, any characters who use guns like Nouhime or Magoichi, who are pretty much Game Breakers when used properly.
Heroes of Might and Magic's Sorcerors and related classes tended towards this trope, as is traditional for mages in RPGs, though VII and VIII's Liches played with it a bit by combining low HP and an inability to use shields or armor heavier than leather with being the only way whatsoever to become immune to any school of magic.
Halflings in Heroes Of Might And Magic III. They are pretty good ranged attackers but if the enemy gets in melee range with it, you can kiss the guys goodbye.
Fiona from from the Spin-OffClash Of Heroes becomes this when using the Spider Cloak relic. It boosts the attack power of her units by 100%, allowing her to take on enemies far above her level. But she starts the battle with only 10% of her hit points (and depending on the platform, it's capped at 10, rather than reduced).
Chrome Hounds encourages the creation of Glass Cannon heavy gunner units as near-stationary artillery to attack the enemy base rather than the enemy players. A defender class was also encouraged with the express purpose being to defend said artillery piece. While heavy gunners often opted for durable cockpits, their actual capability to defend themselves was non-existent if they only had howitzers.
SPGs in World Of Tanks are glass cannons to an absurd degree. They can blow you to smithereens from the other side of the battlefield, but, if you can get close enough to them, you'll find that shells go through them like tissue paper.
Tank Destroyers, to a lesser degree, are also this. For example, the ISU-152 and Object 704, with their tp gun can kill a great many tanks in one shot, and any tank in, at most, 4, but they have armor that is paper thin, and will not last if they're caught alone.
Breath Of Fire III and IV both have a spell called Last Resort that turns the user into this by converting all of their defense points to attack. Scias in 4 does this automatically if knocked to critical health.
Total War: Shogun 2 has many glass cannons in several varieties.
All the ranged units (the matchlocks, the archerers, European cannons, etc.) all can do quite a bit of damage at range, but will die to just about any melee unit if they are let within range.
The Loan Sword Ashigaru have a high attack (for an ahigaru) and lots of but low armor and moral.
Warrior Monks do have good attack, GREAT moral, and good staying power, but they are very weak to arrow fire.
No Dachi Samuria have only as much armor as a Ashigaru, almost no staying power in melee, and pretty poor moral. However, they have a massive charge bonus, a giant attack, and an ability that makes their moral unbreakable for a short time. The common notion among players is that a No Dachi can kill anything it gets a good charge against, but it is killed by a most if it doesn't get a good charge.
EVERY playable character classified as a Carry in League of Legends is a major Glass Cannon. A carry starts off slowly, but as they gain items and levels, they can start snowballing out of control to the point where they eradicate everything but the most sturdy of tanks. The role is in fact called Carry because when they get going they can effectively carry their team to victory. However to pay off for their massive offensive capabilities most Carries are very fragile. The most ridiculous ones are Twitch the Plague Rat and Vayne the Night Hunter, both of whom go through the game with such pitiful defenses and health that they're going to fall over dead if they are focused by more than one enemy.
DPS (Damage per Second)-type champions also fit this definition to varying degrees. Given enough protection, a highly buffed Caitlyn can take out an enemy Inhibitor in record time.
Vayne in particular can be summed up nicely with the following statement: "When Vayne engages in a fight, someone is going to die in the next three seconds." Essentially, the only way to survive a fight with a late-game Vayne is to kill her first. This is a generally useful description for any Glass Cannon that cannot be escaped from, forcing a 'kill or be killed' situation that is going to be decided very quickly, as the cannon either quickly obliterates the opposition, or the glass shatters at the mildest response.
In the upcoming South Park RPG being made by Obsidian Entertainment, this is the playstyle of the game's Jew class. Essentially, you're a Paladin/Monk character that becomes more powerful the closer to death they are. Basically, they're most powerful when they're only one point away from death.
EYE Divine Cybermancy combines this with Magikarp Power due to the several layers of complication with Polyclones. Not-so-direct copies of the Player that die in a few shots and wield lowly pistols with little use later on. They don't become CANNONS unless you develop your PSI-Force stat to higher levels, which gives them access to more decent weaponry (Like Machineguns incapable of Full-Auto), and at a remarkably high amount; will gain access to anti-tank rifles, grenade launchers, and even a Chain Gun. Your PSI-Force will also determine the amount of clones summoned, so imagine that AND the amount of upgrades they get by then. They STILL have inconsistent accuracy until you can issue a shortcut to "Order" them to "Go Hunt!" to where they will begin to become as Competent as the AI; taking cover fire, lobbing grenades, and shooting VERY accurately. And to top it off, they also share the same movement speed as the player character, so wearing lighter armor would turn them into Fragile Speedsters.
A popular strategy (albeit a more difficult one to successfully execute) in the Armored Core series is to build an ultra-lightweight frame, load the biggest guns that you can fit within the weight limit, and equip high-power boosters to make the fastest mech possible. Defense is outright ignored statistically, but these mechs are usually so fast they can dodge most everything thrown at them. This is especially noticeable in the Armored Core 4 series, where the goal of the game was to go Mach 5 anyways.
In fact, in Armored Core 4/For Answer you could perform a trick with blade lunges while over-boosting which would actually make you almost impossible to hit. Hitting targets moving at 5000 km/h is no simple feat.
Wendy Milan in Brawl Brothers, as well as Rick Norton in The Peace Keepers.
Of the four player characters in Borderlands, Mordecai the Hunter is this trope. He's the only character who doesn't get a skill to boost his health or shields, the only character who doesn't get a skill that regenerates shields, and his health recovery skills require an enemy to take advantage of. On the other hand, his Bloodwing can tear through several high-level enemies when levelled up and he specializes in critical hits, sniper rifles, and revolvers.
Several allies in Shadow Era are this. Allies like Blake Windrunner and Belladonna have far more attack then they have health, able to kill many allies in a single hit but die just as quickly. Other's like Chimera can gain attack points by reducing their health. Shard of Power gives all your allies +2 attack by reducing them to one health.
Goggs in Adventure Quest are definitely this. They always go first in battle and deal abnormably high amounts of damage when they strike. However, their defenses are so awful that any well-equipped character should be able to kill a Gogg in one or two hits on the Counter Attack.
The Sundown Kid in Live A Live deals a lot of damage with his guns and one skill has a random chance of dealing max damage, but he also has the lowest health of any character.
Pink Ostrich in Battle Circuit. She has fairly high damaging moves when used right. In fact her power-up gives her higher chances to dish out critical hits, making her moves even more damaging. But she can only take a few hits with a (non)upgraded life bar. This is especially true against bosses.
Sonic seems to be becoming more of this in his latest games in which he used to be a Fragile Speedster earlier. He wrecks robots like nobodies business and defeats Eggman's most powerful machines with almost as much ease. But after he loses his rings one hit can kill him.
Shadow too. He's got incredible offensive power, but goes down just as easily as Sonic (and in games with actual health bars, even easier than Sonic). Even with Cutscen Power To The Max, he still can't take a hit.
Alpha-152 in Dead Or Alive can be classed as this. She can easily take away half your life bar in a single combo or a well-timed offensive hold, along with being able to critical burst within 3 hits. However, she lacks regular wake up kicks, her counters are rendered useless if the opponent is backed against a wall and her floating stance leaves her floating helplessly long enough for an opponent to attack her. Of course, none of this applieswhen facing her AI.
The Pokémon series has a bunch of these. Competitively speaking, they're often referred to as "sweepers"- 'mons which are built to take down as many foes as they can before going down first. Glass Cannons in the series also tend to overlap with Fragile Speedster.
Archeops. It has good speed and has base Attack higher than Salamence and great Special Attack, but not only are both forms of Defense poor, it has the Ability Defeatist, which halves both forms of attack when it gets below half health.
Attack Forme Deoxys has the highest Special and regular Attack of all Pokémon (and great Speed), but both Defenses are at rock bottom (it has the lowest Special Defense and tied for 4th in regular Defense of all Pokémon).
Another Fossil Pokémon, Rampardos has the highest Attack of all non-Legendaries. It also has access to Head Smash, a move with base power equivalent to that of a Hyper Beam and deals 50% more damage due to being a Rock-type attack. However, said attack deals 50% damage dealt back as recoil. Combine that with its poor defenses and ludicrous Attack, and it'll One-Hit Kill itself with this attack. Its Rock-typing, a type with five weaknesses, doesn't help it much.
Shuckle is a more extreme case when Power Trick is used on it, switching defense with attack stats, and Shuckle has the highest of both forms of defense in the games. Give it a decent Attack (like, say, Rollout, which gains power as the move continues and deals 50% more damage when Shuckle uses it), and it would be devastating- of course, at this point it'll keel over if you look at it the wrong way.
Ice-types and Dark-types, generally. The former is one of the strongest offensive types (super-effective against four types, one of which is Dragon) but the worst defensive type, only having one resistance (to itself) and four common weaknesses. The latter is just this by statistics. Combine the two types, and you have a shining example of the Glass Cannon-Fragile Speedster overlap as well: Weavile. It's the fastest Dark and Ice-type there is (125 base Speed) and has great Attack (120 base), but its Defense is lackluster, its health is below average, and it has a poor typing, making it weak to five different types, one of which is a double weakness.
Also, Fire-types are generally offensive powerhouses but have many common weaknesses. The metagame crippled them when the infamous entry hazard Stealth Rock came out, particularly the Fire/Flying ones that originally were used to defend against Ground-type moves.
Psychic-types in general, really. Alakazam, for example, was a Game Breaker in Gen I, due to high Sp. Attack and an immunity to Ghost-type attacks; however, their Physical Defense is almost always pitifully low — one successful Night Slash or Megahorn and they can cry "Uncle!"
The move Shell Smash can turn the user into this, sacrificing defenses for huge offensive and Speed boosts. As can Power Trick, depending on the user (particuarly Shuckle, as mentioned above).
Instead of a character class per se, the Glass Cannon archetype is a strategy in both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. The idea is to stack items and weapons capable of boosting damage (mostly magic, but physical damage is not unheard of). Usually, there are multiple items that boosts attack either at the cost of defense (eg Monk's Head Collar or Crown of Dusk, which increases magic damage at the cost of magic defense) or only activates when your health is low (such as Clever Rat's Ring, Morion Blade, or Red Tearstone Ring). Combining all of them, and you get a character that is very low on health such that he/she will die in one poke, but deals such absurdly high damage that one good shot is all it usually takes. It works horribly well in both PvE and PvP environments. For bonus aesthetics, when the low-HP buff effect takes place, the character glows with a characteristic aura.
Cole MacGrath of In Famous can generate electrical grenades and rockets and pull lightning from the sky, but will still go down to some gun toting gangbangers. While his healing factor lets him recover from incredible abuse, attempting to get into a punching match with all but the weakest of Conduits will result in Cole dropping after the second hit.
This is a probable playstyle (or problem, depending on point of view) for stealth-based characters like assassins or thieves in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. Stealth-based characters can deal ludicrous amounts of damage: 3x damage with bows, 6x damage with one-handed weapons, and 15x damage with daggers (which can be doubled again with certain equips), so long as the attack is done while undetected. Thus, stealth-based characters are likely to have lower armor skills (because they never or rarely get hit, resulting in very little relevant experience being gained in that skill), and on level-up, are likely to neglect raising health in favor of magicka (for spells) or stamina (for archery zoom time and sprinting to get away from overwhelming force), resulting in characters who regularly one-shot bosses, but will die to a regular mook's Offhand Backhand.
Bomb from Angry Birds, who will immediately self-destruct in a few seconds after using his brute force.
The X Universe has M5 light fighters. They're mostly meant as scout ships and as such carry almost uselessly weak lasers, but there are a few that can mount respectably powerful missiles. As you can shoot rather a lot of them in a short time, this can cause a tiny M5 to actually present a credible threat to even such things as M3 heavy fighters... as long as the enemy ship can't land a shot on them. This is easier to say than to do, due to the M5s' rather impressive speed, but if something does hit them they tend to disintegrate like they were made of paper.
Coffinshaker from Whats Shakin is a fairly powerful fire mage, but without his reliance of fire, is mostly vulnerable to all other attacks. He does seem to have some bit of acrobatic skills though.
Ran in Bob and George uses the Cossack Buster, a weapon of nightmarishly destructive proportions, easily able to cut a scar through a city. Unfortunately, Ran himself will instantly die if he is so much as touched.
Fortunately, due to being made of cheap Soviet components and a convenient teleporter, he can be brought back fairly quickly. In fact, he's pretty much Nigh Invulnerable!
The titular Dominic Deegan shares a handful of qualities with Marvel Comics' telepaths, i.e. physically weak while mentally untouchable. He describes himself as his body being "frail and weak, but [his] mind is a fortress you have no hope of conquering."
In Sluggy Freelance, Torg is capable of killing just about anything when his Cool Sword Chaz is powered up and starts glowing. While his sword is unbreakable and nearly unstoppable, however, Torg himself is as physically vulnerable as your average human being. It doesn't help that the sword's true potential can only be unleashed when it's fueled by the blood of the innocent, a cost Torg is understandably reluctant to pay.
In Suppression, Charlie is a electricity-wielder who was kidnapped by the villains so that he could [i]power their entire facility[/i]. He can give off enough electricity to blow off Maxwell's arm. He is also skinny as a rail and has neither armor nor the ability to take a hit.
Soundwave, of Transformers Animated, can easily take on multiple Autobots at the same time with The Power of Rock, has a massive number of various gadgets, and can control machines, but he's made of Earth machines mashed together, which means that even Sari's little hand-blast can put a hole in his shoulder, and when he is forced into melee combat, he is smashed apart in single blows. This contrasts with normal Decepticons, which are both figuratively and literally Made of Iron.
While Aang in Avatar The Last Airbender is at his most powerful in the Avatar State, he is also at his most vulnerable. If he is killed in the Avatar State, not only does Aang die, but the Avatar reincarnation cycle ends.
This existential vulnerability does not mean that he's more physically vulnerable, though. An Avatar has more defensive potential than any other bender in the world, and with the extra power of the Avatar State is capable of shrugging off devastating attacks (see Aang vs. Comet-enhanced Ozai). But that does not make the Avatar invincible, so most limit their use of the Avatar State to momentary power-draws.
Fire Lord Ozai, as well. Arguably the most powerful Firebender of the world, his fighting style reflects this if not his fragility. Unlike his brother and children who like to mix it up in close combat and are generally almost as dangerous without bending as they are with it, Ozai prefers to stay at a distance and blast his enemies with ranged attacks. (He spends most of the series as Orcus on His Throne.) In the absence of bending he even seems to consider himself outmatched by Zuko.
Of course, most benders don't train with arms and he doesn't have any with him even if he could use them, so without bending Ozai's down to 'punch stuff with my highly developed muscles,' while Zuko's a rather accomplished swordsman who's almost certainly much faster than his father, and could presumably carve him up if he were willing to try.
Also, in spite of his impressive spiritual powers, Aang is just a scrawny little kid. His bending is the only reason he's lasted as long as he has.
Eddy's Brother from Ed Edd N Eddy. Years of torturing small children will do you no good when you're hit by a flying door.
Word Of God has even gone on the record as saying Eddy's Brother had been dishing out pain all his life, but hadn't had it happen the other way around too often, and thus has a very low pain threshold.
In the classic Donald Duck short "Canvas Back Duck", Donald ends up in a boxing match against Pee-Wee Pete, and is only saved from a merciless pummeling when he accidentally discovers Pete has a (literal) glass jaw.
The assassin Curare from Batman Beyond seems this way. She's a deadly combatant with a sword, incredibly fast and agily, and very hard to lay a glove on, but when Batman actually manages to do so, it seems to hurt her badly.
Since the introduction of gunpowder in the High Middle Ages, Artillery Cannons are (probably) the very first and oldest definition of this trope: Deadly when given a chance to attack from a safe distance but easily neutralized by the destruction of its crew and/or the cannon itself.
Tank Destroyers. Popular back in WW 2, they were Exactly What It Says on the Tin - usually armed with a tank-grade BFG to destroy enemy vehicles(esp. tanks) with great efficiency, using the mobility allowed by their lighter armor to flank the enemy tanks and attack from the rear. Nowadays, the role of the tank destroyers has been taking up by helicopter gunships, though a number of lighter vehicles have been adapted to the purpose as well. American tank destroyers during World War II in particular were very lightly armoured, in most cases lacking a roof for their turret which exposed the crew to all kinds of nasty unpleasantness. They usually mounted a bigger gun than friendly tanks and were extremely fast: the M18 Hellcat can clock up to 55 mph on good roads.
The M36 Jackson had the excellent 90mm gun which could destroy any German tank at distance. Sadly, it had a Sherman chassis and a very lightly armored body. The Yugoslavians converted M36 into a real tank by up-armouring it and changing the diesel into that of T-62. They served in the Croatian Army until 2005.
The Soviet IS-2 heavy tank from WWII. Its 122mm gun took ages to reload, but could penetrate a Panther tank - completely. One Panther was observed being hit by an IS-2 shell, with the shell coming out the rear of the tank, going straight through several inches of sloped armour, and several more inches of ablative armour (i.g. the crew). However, Panthers themselves, with much lighter (but still, for the era, very powerful) 75mm gun, could also penetrate IS-2 armour right back.
Another example:This. It's basically a Jeep-like vehicle with a recoilless rifle (think "bazooka") mounted on top. Or how about this: a recoilless rifle mounted on, of all things, a Vespa scooter, designed for airborne operations.
The Swedish Thirty Years' War era Leather Cannon, which could well be the Trope Namer. It was basically a copper barrel wrapped on stout leather, like cow hide. The idea was to make the cannon light enough to be mobile and easily carried, which it was. It weighed 40 kg (90 lb) and could easily be carried by two men. Unfortunately it also was prone on over-heating- leather is a good heat insulator - and tended to burst if three or more shots were shot in succession without letting the barrel to cool. Purely as a weapon it was a failure, but as a concept it revolutionized the role of the field artillery. The Swedes developed then a heavier but more reliable bronze Regiment Gun, which could be considered as Lightning Bruiser, as it was towed by one horse or three men, was durable enough to be towed in gallop, and could be easily moved to new emplacement.
Suicide bombers also tend to fall into this. They don't usually pack armor or a gun, but when they explode, you're in trouble.
Admiral Sir John Fisher is famous for saying "speed is armour," and was a proponent of battlecruisers, ships with large (battleship-size) guns that traded armor for speed. Despite whatever advantages they presented, the Royal Navy's battlecruisers are now mostly remembered for two engagements: The Battle of Jutland, where several British Battlecruisers were blown out of the waternote though this was more due to poor powder handling on the part of British crews and the Battle of the Denmark Strait, where the HMS Hood was lost after a salvo from the German battleship Bismark caused her magazine to explode.
Aircraft carriers exist to operate aircraft. Anything not related to operating aircraft, even to some extent being armed simply to defend themselves without their planes, is usually considered a waste, while the embarked aircraft give the carrier the effective ability to engage and destroy a wide variety of enemies anywhere in a radius of several hundred miles or more.
Light tanks by definition are supposed to be very mobile, protected from small arms and constitute a serious danger. E.g. Soviet BT Tanks: on most BT-5s, 45-mm longbarrel cannon, armour 10-13 mm — price of max speed 52 km/h on tracks and 72 on wheels. Some light tanks just go over the top, however. Look at this◊ experimental monstrosity (1936-1936). It's a launcher for two fortification-busting 245-mm missiles slapped on BT-5. Max range is 1500 m. Failed to hit production run as unfit for real assault due to its crappy accuracy, slow reload and — surprise — fragility from top to bottom. Normally light tanks have nothing to do within visual range from enemy fortification even without extra explosives strapped on top.
Nuclear missiles without silos are arguably the ultimate example of glass cannons in real life, especially in the context of a nuclear war. Ballistic missile submarines have torpedoes, but they would still be in deep trouble if found. Mobile ground based units are even worse, with no defenses at all◊ against the inevitable enemy counterattacks. Of course, you're supposed to just leave before the counterattack anyway.
The torpedo boat was a small but maneuverable ship that had powerful armaments that could be used to sink the much bigger battleships of the era, and relied on its speed, agility, and ability to field a lot of them to avoid not getting destroyed.
Conventional submarines (at least up to and including WW 2 vintage) also qualify — great for crippling or killing enemy surface vessels from ambush, but they have to get fairly close to do it and again their only real defense against anything that can shoot back is not to get hit in the first place.
WWI style Monitors were shallow draft ships of questionable seaworthiness onto which the largest spare gun(s) at hand was crammed. Basically a floating artillery battery, they had the advantage of being cheap and able to get in very close to shore where traditional naval ships could not go, even going up rivers.
Massively subverted with the original Monitor-type ships, which were almost Game Breakers. While they were unseaworthy at first, that rapidly changed even over the duration of the war, and they were equipped with guns that simply obliterated any conventional ship, while still sporting enough armor and low-profile design which made them almost invincible. They were sufficiently good that after the Monitor v. Merrimac duel (in which the Confederate ship actually fought a deliberately undergunned Monitor) that nobody ever really tried to fight them without strong fortifications and a large advantage in firepower.
They are both predated by Bomb Ketches, which where specialised to the point where they were impractical for anything other than attacking coastal targets.
Anything the Finnish Navy can throw in. Their ships are crammed with oversize guns and missiles, and outfitted with minelaying equipment, but have no armour whatsoever - they rather employ hiding in the archipelago as their defensive strategy.
Humans in hunting situations. If the guns fail to bring down that bear before it closes into close quarters, prepare for a trip to the hospital. Or to funeral home.
Humans in warfare are generally a case of glass cannons in that our technological ability to inflict damage is much greater than our technological ability to defend against damage. They had to build NORAD inside a small mountain to maybe protect it against nukes.
Bob Sanders of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. One of the league's hardest hitters, maybe the best safety in all of football... when he's healthy, which is about as rare as the Colts beating the Chargers these days. Sanders frequently spends half the regular season on the injured list, which might be because he plays so hard all the time, running full-force into offensive players on every play.
Another football example - Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. He was the 1st overall pick in the '09 draft, immediately won the Lions' starting QB job...and has started 13 games in 2 seasons since. All because of injuries. Mostly to his shoulders. He hasn't even played a full season's worth of football in 2 seasons!
Good examples, both, but the Eagles' Michael Vick fits the archetype perfectly. With his freakish speed and arm strength, Vick is the single most dangerous playmaker in the league... as long as he doesn't get hit too hard. In 9 seasons, he's played all 16 games only once, and has spent quite a few contests limited due to one injury or another.
Several examples in mixed martial arts, including fighters that have devastating offense and a weak chin, or fighters with ludicrously brilliant skill in one area and none in any other.
Shinya Aoki is one of the most brilliant no-gi grapplers on the planet, but he reacts to punches as though they were illegal.
Similarly, Demian Maia is one of the most decorated Brazilian jujitsu practitioners in MMA. At one point, he was undefeated at 11-0 and had won 5 straight fights by submission, despite having no striking ability. Then he fought◊ Nate Marquardt...
Bob Sapp has enough strength to pick up a 260 pound man literally off the mat and piledrive◊ him violently to the ground. Yes, in MMA, where piledrivers are neither safe nor done with compliance from the victim. He beat one of the best kickboxers in the world (Ernesto Hoost) twice in 2002. Sapp is also known for the trifecta of having a glass chin, possessing very little toughness or heart, and having laughably few grappling skills. He lost in 2009 to a man 150 pounds lighter than him who fancies himself a superhero, sports a mullet, and goes by the name "Minowaman."
Melvin Manhoef, a dutch kickboxer, has truly horrifying punching power. He was the first, and so far only man to ever knock out Mark Hunt, who was famous for shrugging off career-ending strikes to his presumably granite-filled head. Manhoef delivered said KO◊ while moving backwards. Unfortunately, even though he's fought at the highest levels of kickboxing and MMA and can put together beautiful offensive combinations, Manhoef's strike defense is quite lacking, and he has been knocked out by mid-level fighters far more often than an elite striker should. More saliently, his grappling skills are pure garbage. For MMA professionals, fighting Manhoef can either end in Melvin decapitating you with a punch, or with him meekly tapping out 15 seconds after the fight hits the mat.
Many fighters like Melvin Guillard and Houston Alexander have decent striking, scary power and zero grappling skill. Stand with them and they're likely to hurt you, take them down and they'll play you the three-tap symphony.
Julian Jackson was a boxer whose career spanned the 80s and the early to mid 90s, and is boxing's patron saint of the one punch knockout. Being in the ring with Jackson was to always potentially be one punch away from being KO'd. However, some of Jackson's victims were only knocked out because they knew of the weakness in Jackson's chin and tried to knock him out first. The most prominent example is probably Herol Graham, a slick defensive specialist who made his living by dodging punches and countering his way to a decision. Graham was able to hurt Jackson consistently in the first three rounds of their fight, so he pushed the action and had Jackson backing up in the 4th. Then Jackson connected with a single blow and not only was Graham unconscious before he hit the canvas, he remained out for minutes afterward. Final round and aftermath of the Jackson-Graham fight.
Wlad Klitschko has excellent reach and power, but has been stopped several times in his career- and not always by top fighters.
Late in Mike Tyson's career Tyson's old trainer Kevin Rooney who coached him in his prime complained that Tyson was no longer the elusive Lightning Bruiser who had once dominated the boxing world. "His style was to use head movement, be elusive. He's not using the style the way he's supposed to be. He's just... he's just a puncher now. If he hits you, he'll knock you out. If you hit him, you'll knock him out".
Manny Pacquiao became a superstar boxer because of his freakish speed and strength which he used to overwhelm his opponents into submission, despite his small size. However, Manny Pacquiao also has a very fragile chin that can get damage when timed right. Earlier in his career, Pacquiao could easily get knocked down and out. However, after mastering his offense under the training of Freddie Roach (a well known offensive trainer), Pacquiao went a decade destroying some of the top boxers of his generation. That is until his nemesis Juan Marquez who he could never get a clear victory over, once again exposed his weakness by brutally knocking him out in their 4th fight by a well timed counter hook.
Mosquitoes. Their bite can transmit nasty diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Encephalitis and Heartworm, enough to kill or cripple a human for days. On the bright side, a well-timed smack kills them instantly (usually).
Hockey player Eric Lindros was widely heralded as "The Next One" by pro scouts in the late 1980s and early 1990s in reference to Wayne Gretzky, who was in turn called "The Great One" for being the all-time best player to ever put on skates. Lindros was the size of a train and dealt out hits to match, and was a highly skilled scorer to boot. When he made it to the NHL, he was both one of the most dominant and the most injured players in the league.
The Argentina national team was accused of this during the 2010 World Cup. Their dynamic and amazing offense blew teams away, until the Germans, who were able to shut down Argentina's scoring attempts, carved its way through the Argentines' notoriously weak defense in an absolutely brutal match.
Some of U-17 feminine teams in current world cup, being the match between South Korea and Nigeria (4-4 after 90 minutes, 6-5 for Korea after extra time) the maximum expression of this.
Indeed, most teams in the 50's and before could be considered like this comparing current teams. The popularization of catennacio made football/soccer putting an emphasis on defense.
More or less the situation with human-held firearms these days. Armor is bulky and unwieldy and guns and ammunition that can penetrate said armor is readily available, even for common criminals, so often it comes down to trying to make sure that you can shoot first and that your opponent can't shoot back.
Cars. Arguably better at killing people and destroying things than guns, but quickly fall apart if they hit things. Granted the things they're good at destroying and the things that destroy them if hit aren't one and the same, but since you're from Column A, it's still a good idea to look up from your smartphone before you cross the street.
Older cars were sturdier. Modern cars damage easily in an impact because it's realised that what matters is not whether the car is damaged but whether the *occupants* are, so crumple zones are better than a really rigid shell.
Birds of prey. They have sharp and strong beaks and talons, capable of killing their prey in a split second... but if grounded by a broken wing or leg they are very likely to die of starvation.
Venomous snakes also. Sure, they have a very nasty weapon at their disposal, but the instant their venom glands run dry they're reduced to bluff or flight. And if an attacker is too thick-skinned or immune, they're lunch.
Combat Robotics has a surprising number of glass cannons. In Robot Wars, Razer had an almost unstoppable weapon, but often broke down of its own accord. Tsunami and Wheely Big Cheese had immensely powerful flippers (but the latter was very difficult to aim) but lacked the durability to fight Lightning Bruisers like Chaos 2 and Mighty Glaciers like Xterminator. In Battlebots, Nightmare had a massive 4 foot diameter spinning disc, and its destructive power was the original reason for the arena having a ceiling, but its wheels were very vulnerable. It lost after having a wheel (and sometimes the gearbox and part of the motor it was attached to) ripped off by horizontal spinners. Many "shell spinners" have huge destructive power, but if they get flipped over, they're toast. Finally, Last Rites, one of the current top-ranked heavyweights, practically defines this trope. Even the most heavily armored opponents cannot simply shrug off blows from its spinning bar, but it is lightly armored, and its wheels are vulnerable to a solid hit to the side. In fact, because its bar is so powerful, and so much weight is poured into the weapon system, it is frequently defeated by the recoil from its own attacks.
The Prussian infantrymen of Frederick The Great were renowned for their rapid rate of fire (pretty impressive, given the rather slow firing rate of muzzle-loaded muskets) but were pretty vulnerable in close combat, making them a ripe target for cavalry. Fortunately, Frederick was enough of a tactical genius and a lucky man to prevent decisive defeats.
Irukandji jellyfish. They are the size of a fingernail and are so fragile they can't be kept in a tank - they will die from bumping into the glass. They also have a venom that, while it is not lethal, will hurt you so very much that you will wish it was.
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was extremely fragile, with no armor and fuel tanks that would leak continuously from even the smallest puncture instead of sealing like Allied tanks, so that even the most minor glancing hit could destroy it. It also had better armament than any of its rivals and could blast apart most Allied aircraft with a single burst, and a turn rate good enough to get into a firing position against even the most elusive enemy. It was the king of the Pacific skies until faster American fighters showed up that could simply barrel down on a Zero from above, destroy it, and run away before the Zero's wingmates could respond.
The design strategy that American fighters developed to counter this was to make very fast, well-armored, heavily armed fighters that could hit the lighter Japanese planes in head-on attacks. Even with the Zero's 20mm cannons, they would be shredded and set ablaze by the Americans' .50 caliber API barrages before they could deal out enough damage in turn. Japanese pilots were later instructed to avoid head-on attacks with American planes, even when they had a numerical advantage.
The Soviet Union produced a literal example. The 2B1 Oka was the largest self-propelled artillery piece ever built, and could fire a 420mm nuclear projectile from it's 65-foot-long barrel up to 28 miles downrange. Unfortunately, the recoil of such a monster cannon was too powerful, damaging the gun mount, snapping the treads, and tearing up the transmission. Assuming it even could fire a second shot, it would be effectively a stationary artillery piece.
An American nuclear recoilless rifle, the "Davy Crocket" had the opposite problem. The gun could easily survive firing the first round, the crew manning it wouldn't. The range of the nuclear fallout was larger then the range of the gun, which is why it never got out of the prototype stage.
Archers often didn't have armor, so they could do lots of damage at range, but had to be wary about anyone that got close. This could vary wildly though, based on the nation they were fighting for and how much money the bowman had to spare for armor.
In a way, elephants are this; they're extremely powerful, and fairly fast as well. Yet due to Square/Cube Law, tripping can greatly injure them.
War Elephants are not much better. Sure, they seem like they would be a Mighty Glacier at the very least, able to suck up lots of arrows and trample enemies, but they scare VERY easily, uncontrollably running away, often through friendly lines.
Modern Guided Missile Warships certainly count. The CG-47 "Ticonderoga" class cruisers started life as destroyers, but with some design changes (and some meddling from DC) they became cruisers. To give you an idea of what this means, think of it this way. Each 'Tico' is armed with two 5" rapid fire cannons for short range work, as well as Harpoons and Tomahawks for long range work. Both of those missiles are capable of ripping other ships apart from many, many miles away, and the 5" guns can track anything from small boats to low flying aircraft, and reliably take them down. But the armor is made of KEVLAR. Yes, the EXACT same material that soldiers put on to protect them from bullets. This was done to save weight since the hull was never designed for cruiser specs. Those aboard a Tico better hope that the AEGIS combat system doesn't Blue Screen... Not that armor would be of any value against modern anti-ship missiles however, especially as the primary means of damage is fire not the explosion itself.
Also of note is the "Kirov" Class of Battlecruisers. Each ship is armed with a an array of the appropriately named "Shipwreck" Anti-ship Missile, but the armor is only 76mm thick. There's been an ongoing debate over what would win, an Iowa or a Kirov. However, since the Iowas would likely be protected by the aforementioned Ticonderogas, and their GC Brothers the Arliegh Burkes, the Kirov would have to rely on a Macross Missile Massacre to hopefully destroy the battlegroup. If it fails to do so... In this case it would be the destroyers that would be doing most of the work, the armor and big guns of the battleship would be almost entirely irrelevant in terms of winning such a battle.
Most modern warships fall under this design philosophy. Modern anti-ship weapons have such long range and sheer destructive power that it is simply impractical to carry enough armor protection to be useful, except for certain key areas such as the ship's ammo magazine.. Instead, the extra weight is either removed from the equation to allow the ships to move faster, or used on more useful things, such as the aforementioned long-range highly destructive missiles. In short, modern shipbuilders take to heart the saying that the best defense is a good offense.