I'm not sure when it happened, exactly. Some of it was the release of 4E, in which the not-badass need not apply (hence the shelving of gnomes and bards). Some of it was summer movies, which have become even more "macho guys surrounded by explosions" in the past few years than they were before, which I wouldn't have thought possible. I distinctly remember being in Best Buy, perhaps a year ago now, and I happened to see a clip from Hancock playing on one of the display TVs. Somebody fired a rocket launcher at Will Smith, and he swatted the rocket away with an annoyed look, causing it to explode in slow motion behind him while he adjusted his shades.
Even given that the whole premise of Hancock is "What if Superman were a jerk?", which could be an entertaining premise, my reaction to the clip was just to roll my eyes and sigh. Not because of any problem with that specific movie, so much as just feeling like I'd reached the saturation point and couldn't bear any more badassery.
I think this may be one of the reasons I was so eager to play a hobbit in LotRO over the past year. Hobbits, at their core, are the antithesis of badass. They're twee little bumpkins who go fishing and try to figure out how the cow got up on the roof. Of course, hobbits can be badass when the situation requires it (see also Samwise Gamgee vs. Shelob or Merry vs. the Witch-King), but they don't like it and avoid it whenever possible.
Heck, even Conan the barbarian doesn't seem to hold any appeal for me currently, and certainly none of the ridiculous splatter-porn games currently coming out with Conan's name stapled to the box do. The stuff interesting me at the moment tends to be more sedate, more silly, more esoteric, or even just "more cute." I had a great time recently going through Telltale Games' Wallace and Gromit series, for instance, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment of Tales of Monkey Island — neither of which could exactly be called heart-pumping action. My reading has consisted of tales of jittery antiquarians being horrified by vague hints of scariness (i.e., Lovecraft) or reprints of early Peanuts.
And feh! Don't get me started about vampires. :P
PS: I think that may have been one of the things that bothered me about the recent Star Trek, too. Too ding-dang badass. How about just some competent officers exploring the unknown, not the Explodey Adventures of the Uberkirk.