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The Flash: ...You lose.

Brainthor: Hardly. Look around you — the Justice League is completely defeated, and so are you. For all your efforts, you have but inconvenienced me, speck.
Justice League Unlimited, "Divided We Fall"

Okay, so you've just gotten into a brawl with your local Eldritch Abomination, just after you deliver the Knockout Punch against him. Apparently as a final "screw you," something bad happens to you, or the world you live in, in such a way there is almost no way to solve that problem that will be done without sacrifice.

Congratulations, you just broke your arm punching out Cthulhu.

This trope is called upon as a way of showing the true futility of trying to stop the physical or literal manifestation of an all-powerful being. It really doesn't matter if you have powerful mythical weapons or giant galaxy destroying guns; the physical form of him is irrelevant to his powers to utterly smack you aside with merely a nod. It just can't really be done. Eldritch Abominations such as the namer of the trope himself do not feel much pain from being punched out, since all you did was merely destroy his physical manifestation, and punching him out will only delay your demise as you:

  1. Stop him for now; when he wakes up, he is going to be pissed.
  2. Find out your punch didn't even graze him.
  3. Have a broken arm, so when he wakes up, you will be screwed.
  4. Are now possessed or infected with The Virus as a result of touching or killing him, and will eventually become him...
  5. Actually do defeat him, but only at the cost of almost everything you were trying to save, up to and including your sanity or your soul.
  6. Actually do defeat him, but have drawn the attention of even worse things that want revenge on you.
  7. Kill his weak form, then he transforms...
  8. Set off his back up plan - can be anything from a child with a water squirter to a bomb to the awakening of a giant demon.
  9. Find out that he was the sanest of the bunch; without him, the smaller fry are now beating up one another and the brawl takes out the world since there is no one to lead them. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.

This trope can also extend to normal all-powerful organizations, or an alien race where it is only a temporary victory and the next battle can be for sure a total defeat. For endings related to this trope, either 1) A close call, or 2) all for naught!

Sub-Trope of Pyrrhic Victory. Unlike Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?, this one will happen in a Cosmic Horror Story.

Examples of Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu include:

Anime & Manga

  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Slow-acting, but inevitable.. If you gain the power to fight Witches, you will become a Witch. Played straight in one timeline, to world-ending proportions, averted in another Mercy Kill, and invoked in a third. Arguably, this trope is the driving reason for the plot of Homura's entire story arc.
  • In perhaps a literal example, in Rurouni Kenshin, Sanosuke punches Shishio so hard that he shatters all the bones in his hands. Shishio, however, is barely even temporarily inconvenienced, and answers by punching Sano back, and defeating him instantly.
    • It should be noted that Sanosuke's hand by that point was practically begging to be shattered in its next punch (especially if used with the Futae no Kiwami), after the toll it had suffered in the previous fight.
  • In Princess Mononoke, a giant boar-demon attacks an Emishi village and the protagonist, Ashitaka, is forced to fight and kill him. In the struggle, Ashitaka receives a curse on his right arm, which grants him superhuman strength but will eventually kill him.
  • In Pokémon the First Movie, Ash pulls a Shut UP, Hannibal, and proceeds to try to punch Mewtwo out. It fails, miserably. Then pulls himself off the ground and tries to punch Mewtwo out again. He dies on the third try to stop Mewtwo.
  • In Zeta Gundam, Camille defeats Scirroco by crashing his waverider into Scirroco's cockpit and crushing his body. With his dying breath, Scirroco mentally attacks Camille and leaves him catatonic.

 Scirroco: "You may take my life, but I will take your soul!"

    • Eventually, he got better. Well, a little bit. Can't ever pilot again, but all it ever brought him was pain either way, right?
  • In Slayers Amelia tried to punch out the Physical God Ruby Eye Shabranigdu but broke her arm instead.
    • And of course there's the Dangerous Forbidden Technique Lina often relies on to defeat such demon lords with. Each use risks destroying the universe if executed poorly ( by attracting the attention of The Lord of Nightmares, leaving the fate of the entire universe to the erratic whims of its now cognizant Demiurge,) like when Lina was swallowed up mind, body and soul to fuel it, only returning through a mixture of sheer luck and (in the anime) The Power of Love.
  • Dragonball Z does this roughly every time it turns around. One moment which comes to mind is when Goku uses his Kamehameha at Kaioken x4 in a Beam-O-War against Vegeta, with the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, and ultimately sends Vegeta flying into the stratosphere. Then Yajirobe gives Goku a light congratulatory slap on the back, and Goku screams in pain due to the Heroic RROD brought about by the Kaioken. Vegeta falls to earth, hurt but not nearly as badly as Goku is, and just transforms...
    • Tien often pulls this trope, over-exerting himself to near death (and in the fight with Nappa, complete death).
  • Arguably the Sailor Moon Manga ends this way. Eternal Sailor Moon does a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the Anthropomorphic Personification of Chaos from rising. After she gets better, we're told that Chaos was not completely destroyed. Sailor Cosmos confirms that Chaos will be reborn as a Sailor Senshi itself, and that it will instigate a huge cosmic war that will tear the galaxy apart and that the damage and sacrifice necessary to destroy it will be just as bad as losing the war. While Cosmos traveled to the past to prevent its rebirth, she realized that Chaos' rise was inevitable and that there WAS no Third Option. Oddly the characters don't seem to perturbed by the bleak future that awaits them, preferring to enjoy their happy present lives taking comfort that life will always go on even if the galaxy is destroyed by war.
    • To be fair given how Cosmos's plan to stop Chaos would basically kill the galaxy its understandable that they where alright wit their win.
    • I think this interpretation of how the future will play out is kinda Completely Missing the Point of the entire series. Usagi has been told that there is no third option every single time she faced a new enemy. Every single time, she found a third option anyway. When Chaos rises in the future, she'll just Befriend it or something.
  • Asuka feels the full weight of this trope after defeating the SEELE invaders and the Eva Series in End of Evangelion. The last shot of her half-devoured mecha juxtaposes it with the regenerated Eva Series joining Shinji's Instant Runes, heralding the Endofthe World As We Know It.
    • Technically, Shinji Broke His Mind Punching Out 15 Cthulhi.
  • In Bokurano, the dimensional robots are so powerful that conventional militaries stand no chance. You do have Zearth, your own dimension robot which proved to be more powerful than some of them but it's run on your lifeforce and will drain you dead. Don't want to punch them? Your universe will perish. You can't lose a single fight, either.
    • And if you try to reverse-engineer the robots, the guys in charge will just eat everyone on your planet.
  • This ends up happening to Jaden during his final duel with Yubel in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX; thanks to the nature of Yubel's monster effect, each time Jaden destroys (or forces Yubel to destroy) her copy, it merely evolves into a stronger version of itself. Eventually, Yubel becomes so powerful from Jaden's attempts to stop her, that the only way he could take her out is to intercept a Fusion Dance attempt of hers that would've resulted in The End of the World as We Know It and use it to scrub the duel prematurely by fusing his soul with Yubel's, having the monster in his head for all eternity.
    • It's not that bad; since Yubel was purged of the Light of Destruction when she and Judai got fused, and had all her Yandere urges satisfied, she calms down significantly and becomes friendly, if not a Deadpan Snarker.
  • During the Skypeia arc in One Piece, the Badass Normal Skypeian, Wiper, goes one-on-one with God Eneru. After a tense fight, Wiper manages to kill Eneru by using the Reject Dial, at the cost of severe damage to his own body. Unfortunately for Wiper, Eneru's electric Devil Fruit immediately acts like a Magical Defibrillator, restarting the tyrant's heart. Sorry Wiper, looks like killing him once just isn't enough.
    • Later on, Luffy faces Big Bad Magellan, who's coated in an armor of deadly poison. Luffy manages to get some hits in, but ultimately he isn't strong enough to keep Magellan down and succumbs to the poison.
  • The beginning of the HGSS arc of Pokémon Special starts off with Gold facing off against Arceus. Needless to say, his team is getting their asses kicked, though Gold says that they just have to hold out 'till Silver arrives. How that's going to make a difference is yet to be seen.
  • Taken to the Logical Extreme in Bleach where Gin epically destroys half of Aizen's chest with a hidden Bankai. Aizen's inevitable retalliation involves, among other things, ripping Gin's arm off.
  • In Hunter X Hunter, Netero nearly kills the Chimera Ant King Meryem—possibly the most powerful lifeform on the planet at that time — by stopping his own heart to trigger the incredibly powerful bomb implanted in his own body. This desperate move only fails because two of Meryem's strongest minions sacrifice most of their power and body mass to restore him. Later, Gon utterly destroys Neferpitou, the second strongest Chimera Ant alive by forcefully aging himself to vastly increase his power. Said powerboost comes at the cost of a shortened lifespan and the possibility that Gon will never be able to use nen again. In a more literal example, Gon's right arm is torn off by zombie!Pitou when Gon lets his guard down thinking the battle was over after he crushed Pitou's head. Gon pins the monster down with his own ripped off arm and finishes it off with a final "rock" attack that apparently leaves Gon on the brink of death.
    • However this is subverted when it's revealed the deadliest part about the bomb implanted in Netero is the poison that will kill everything that comes in contact with the bomb or people poisoned by it. That kills Meryem for good.
  • Transformers Cybertron: Destroying Unicron has the side effect of creating an unholy abomination of a black hole that unless stopped using the series' Plot Coupons will annihilate the entire universe, possibly even the multiverse.

Comic Books

  • Thor managed to slay the Midgard Serpent - a giant dragon among giant dragons - with a massive hammer blow to the head. He was already in constant pain and obliged to wear a full-body armor suit for support due to a curse by the goddess of death, but the death blow literally reduced him to a pulped (yet still living) mass of flesh contained within said armor.
    • Given he was prophesied to die after killing the Midgard Serpent, as per Norse Mythology; this is actually a plus.
    • A more graphic example was when he hit an invulnerable Viking named Herald Jaekelson so hard it nearly tore his hands off.
    • In Fear Itself, Thor's battle against his Evil Uncle Cul Borson aka the Serpent aka the Norse god of fear — who turned out to be the true serpent destined to kill him — ends in a Mutual Kill.
  • The only way for Dr. Strange to beat Shuma-Gorath on his home turf was to tap into the demon's power source. Using Shuma's power started to make him become another Shuma-Gorath though and "killing" Shuma only sped up the process, so Strange had to commit suicide. Luckily someone else was able to save the Doctor, which was good a while later when we learn Shuma hadn't died and reformed his body.
  • In Hellblazer, this is pretty much the only way the only kind of win John Constantine ever pulls off. To get rid of this issue's monster, chances are either someone he loves has to die, or his actions set up an even greater problem to be dealt with at a later date.
  • One Exiles arc features Galactus attacking earth, and for once he's actually at full strength rather than nearly dying from starvation. Eventually team powerhouse Thunderbird manages to break Galactus' skin and insert a device specifically made by that earth's Reed Richards to hurt the creature. Thunderbird is left brain dead from the shockwave though he does manage to get Galactus to flee.
  • At the climax of Marvel Comics' Generation One Transformers series, Circuit-Breaker, a.k.a. Josie Beller attacked Unicron with all her power, paralyzing him long enough for Optimus Prime to destroy him with the Creation Matrix. Sadly, however, Beller was left catatonic as a result.
  • Played straight litterally in Les Légendaires, where protagonist Jadina attempts to punch the God of Evil Anathos. Anathos stops her attack with one finger, and causes her arm to break in the process. Even worst, he mentionned she is lucky he needed her alive at that point, because otherwise he would have let her kill herself punching him. Then immediatly subverted when Jadina Out-Gambits him.
    • And before this, Danael already suffered a case of The Virus against Anathos when coming up with a scheme to prevent him from reincarnating into Shimy, only to serve as the host instead of her.


  • Occurs in nearly every successful attempt to stop Godzilla:
    • Godzilla's first fight with Mothra left the adult Mothra dead before the larva sealed itself off in a cocoon, and even that wasn't enough to stop him forever. The only thing keeping this trope from being played entirely straight is that Godzilla ends pulling a Heel–Face Turn in the later movies.
    • Godzilla vs Biollante is a case of this being played for Godzilla himself. He manages to kill Biollante, but the anti-nuclear bacteria he's infected with starts acting up so much he has to return to the sea and can't leave.
    • In the same film Col. Gondo shoots Godzilla with a rocket launcher right in the mouth. Gondo is then killed when the building he's in is collapsed by a royally pissed off Godzilla. At least he went out with one pretty epic one-liner.
    • In Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, the cyborg pilot of Mecha-King Ghidorah isn't able to kill Godzilla and while she survives, Mecha-King Ghidorah is wrecked by Godzilla when it drags him out to sea, meaning all the fight did was temporarily slow him down before he returned for another attack.
    • The remake of Godzilla vs Mothra has both Mothra and her Evil Counterpart Battra teaming up against Godzilla. They manage to defeat him, but all they really do is drag him

out to sea again where Godzilla kills Battra, meaning in the future Mothra would have to face him alone. She's not strong enough to stop him by herself, though Mothra didn't appear in the later films in this series as it is.

    • In Godzilla vs Space Godzilla, the humans built Humongous Mecha

MOUGERA to stop Kaiju attacks. It fails completely its first fight with Space Godzilla. The second fight, it manages to destroy the crystals on his shoulders, which prompts him to wreck the thing so badly the crew is forced to abandon it. Godzilla later finishes the job and completely destroys the robot after killing Space Godzilla.

    • In Godzilla vs Megaguirus, humans try to kill Godzilla using a Kill Sat that fires an Unrealistic Black Hole. Not only does this manage to do little more than inconvenience him, it causes a horde of giant insects to appear, including the titular Megagerius. The only thing that stopped them was Godzilla himself. The humans try the weapon again and it apparently kills him, up until the last scene of the movie, where we hear him roar again indicating he survived.
    • Godzilla All Monsters Attack, has all three of the Guardian monsters that were meant to stop die trying. Some quick acting by humans manages to seemingly kill him, but his heart survives and starts to regenerate his body, meaning he'll return, and this time there won't be any Kaiju to stand in his way.
    • Godzilla Final War, a rare case of this not involving

Godzilla. Instead it's when Mothra fights Gigan at the climax of the movie. Mothra manages to keep Gigan out of Godzilla's fight with Monster X, but he injures her fatally before she can kill him.

  • In The Astronaut's Wife - a Recycled in Space version of Rosemary's Baby - the heroine tricks the alien possessing her husband by acting like she's going to commit suicide through a variation - an awesome variation - on the Electrified Bathtub, only to electrocute him instead. Unfortunately, the alien manages to flee her husband's body and possess her instead, for a Downer Ending.
  • The third film in the series has The Amityville Horror house getting destroyed, though this fails to stop the evil, with it just living on in the form of mundane objects like lamps and clocks salvaged from the rubble, which allows the evil to spread out all over the country and establish "new homes" when people obtain the junk.
  • The 1998 film Fallen is about a demon that can leap from one body to another instantaneously. It ends with the lead character leading it into the middle of the woods, then poisoning himself before shooting the demon's current host. Cut to a nearby cat, and the narration picks up again: "Oh! You forgot something, didn't you? Back at the start, I said I was going to tell you about the time I almost died. [chuckles] Be seeing you."
  • Damnatus. All the heroes give their lives to try and stop G'guor, an Eldar spirit accompanying them pulls a Thanatos Gambit, and inquisitor Lessus invokes exterminatus on the planet, but the outro voiceover implies that G'guor will still be back someday.
  • Implied for the inevitable sequel to Avatar; There is literally nothing stopping humans from coming back and bombing the shit out of Pandora, and they could even arguably justify it as retaliation. In the original script this was addressed by Jake bluffing about some super virus that would kill any human who set foot on the planet.
    • However, given the transit time between Earth and Pandora, they have at least a decade to prepare.
      • And, honestly, do you believe that Cameron would doom his so beloved cute environment-friendly Science-is-Bad Na'vi for a Downer Ending?
      • And there is one thing stopping them. The insane amounts of money they need to go back that they may not be able to spend without the unobtanium to fill their wallets.
      • And the obvious fact that attacking the planet on that scale could easily cause irrepairable damage to said unobtanium, making the mission all for naught.
        • No damage would occur to the mineral AT ALL, because the weapon used will be an engineered bioweapon that will wipe out everything compatible with Navi neurochemisty, which is damn near EVERYTHING. Seriously, if they can engineer the Avatars, which combine human and Navi physiology, they must know the entire biochemistry of the planet inside out.
      • Considering Cameron is planning on filming two more sequels, it's highly likely that the army will step in to help the poor innocent corporation who got kicked out by the evil natives, despite the prohibitive costs of sending a large armed force 4 light-years away (it's mentioned in background material that most of the equipment used by the corporation had to be assembled on location).


  • In The Silmarillion, when Fingolfin sees all his army defeated, he rides to the very gates of Angband to defy Morgoth himself, inflicting several wounds to him. It doesn't end well. However, he did inflict wounds on Morgoth that would never heal. There's a reason why this is one of the greatest Crowning Moments of Awesome ever.
    • The final battle of the First Age could qualify too, sure the hosts of the Valar have destroyed Morgoth's forces and he's captured and beaten, but the entire continent that everyone not living in Valinor has called home since pretty much the dawn of time ends up so damaged it breaks apart and gets swallowed by the sea. AND even though Morgoth is sealed beyond the Void, it turns out one day he will escape leading to the Dagor Dagorath, the final battle the will destroy everything.
    • Melkor essentially writes suffering and imperfection into fate before the world's creation, and after he becomes Morgoth pours his essence into Middle Earth itself, so that even after his spirit gets banished his presence remains; he is the evil that exists in the world.
    • Two examples occur in The Lord of the Rings. First, Gandalf's famous Heroic Sacrifice, when he killed the Balrog but died from the ordeal. Second, Eowyn actually did break her arm fighting the Witch-King, but that wasn't the worst wound she suffered; just touching the Witch-King is enough to seriously harm you, so when she and Merry stabbed him, their respective weapon arms were hurt and they needed special medicine to recover.
      • Eowyn wound up so deeply comatose she was at first mistaken for dead.
  • One interesting example is from one of H.P. Lovecraft's own short stories. In The Dreams in the Witch House, a fellow manages to stop a servant of said Eldritch Abomination, but is unable to save the child from sacrifice. And even though he manages to stay sane throughout the ordeal, he is later killed by an Eldritch Abomination drilling itself out of his body as punishment, and his friend, seeing this, ends up in a mental institution.
    • This also happens in The Thing on the Doorstep.
    • Even the original Call of Cthulhu had a textbook example of this. When the titular Thing attacks, a sailor rams him with a yacht, forcing him to retreat back to R'lyeh. The problem is, Cthulhu is still very much alive, having reformed soon after getting punched out. As for the sailor, not only does the entire ordeal push him off the deep end, but it's hinted that Cthulhu's cultists kill him soon afterward.
      • Ironically, Cthulhu himself isn't even all that high on the power-scale of Lovecraftian abominations. Yes, he's bigger than a Deep One or Mi-Go, but he's really just a mouthpiece for the real cosmic-caliber deities like Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth.
    • Any kind of victory over Lovecraft's Eldritch Abominations, is, at best, delaying the inevitable.
      • Which is the point of the expansion to the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, Delta Green. An entire task force, that doesn't officially exist, whose entire duty is to 'delay that inevitable' for another few years, and continually.
  • A literal case in the first book of War of the Dreaming: Peter Waylock attempts to use Thor's hammer against an enemy sorcerer, and ends up breaking both his arms—not good, considering he also can't walk.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Dragon (no, not that one) took independent action and led a strike force of male channelers in storming Mordor and sealing the hole in the Dark One's prison. (He disregarded the original plan, to include females and use certain absurdly-powerful power-enhancing artifacts, after the forces of evil overran the locations of the access keys to said artifacts and political strife among the channelers resulted in all female Aes Sedai refusing to participate.) Good news: mission accomplished. Bad news: the Dark One subsequently tainted the male half of the One Power, thereafter driving anyone who used it insane and thus causing the Breaking of the World—the face of the world reshaped, billions killed, and the entire utopian society crushed into mythology. Though the society was kind of in the crapper from a decades long war against the forces of darkness anyway, though at least not entirely broken up.
  • In Abhorsen by Garth Nix, the only way to seal the Big Bad would result in the death of the caster of said seal thanks to a backlash effect and the Big Bad trying to take her with him. Our fearless borderline-suicidally depressed heroine goes through with it anyways, but survives when the Disreputable Dog bites off her hand, saving Lirael's life.
    • In Sabriel, the first book of the series, the titular character's father uses the bell Astarael, which sends anyone who hears it deep into Death, to try to permanently kill the book's undead villain. It doesn't work. It does, however, delay him enough for Sabriel to get away and find a better way of killing him. Which also doesn't work. So she seals him away instead.
  • A frequent Downer Ending in Philip K. Dick short stories. In one case, the Eldritch Abomination in question turns out to be God, and the minor wound the hero received in the encounter ends up being fatal.
    • That would be Faith of our Fathers I assume? In that sense it is seen as a vaguely optimistic outcome, as it's hinted rebellion is impossible, so his minor act of defiance (in literally punching Cthulu in the face) is a victory for the human spirit. After he is 'branded' as a result with a deadly sore, which slowly spreads over his body, he chooses to ignore it and spend his last night making alive love with his girlfriend as an act of humanity, denying Cthulu a moral victory.
  • In a short story by David Brin (which was made into a comic book) a soldier broke the spear by which he ought to have been killed over his knee. The spear belonged to Odin, and his knee didn't really like the treatment.
  • In the Warhammer 40000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, Rafen manages to slay the Eldritch Abomination Malfallax. However, Malfallax's death comes with a curse that triggers the Black Rage in all of the nearby Blood Angels, and while Rafen manages to free them of it, Malfallax's true form is still alive in the Warp, plotting vengeance on him.
  • The first arc of the Deathstalker series ends with the protagonist delaying the Recreated long enough for them to be restored to their true forms. However, the stress of doing so leaves him too exhausted to return to his point of origin or even fight effectively. Instead, a man who destroyed countless armies is murdered by a pack of half-mad drug addicts, far from friends and allies. They even took his boots.
  • In Azure Bonds, the red dragon Mist lays down her life to destroy the vile god Moander.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry's origin story arguably goes both ways.
      • Voldemort as Cthulhu: Harry survives Voldemort's attack, but both his parents had to die in the process, Voldemort is left alive as a wandering spirit with a big grudge against Harry, and Harry is now a Horcrux, carrying a piece of Voldemort's soul around with him.
      • Harry as Cthulhu: Voldemort kills both Harry's parents. But when he tries to kill Harry, who is protected by The Power of Love, his spell backfires, destroying his body and forcing him to wander as a spirit until someone can forge him a new one.
    • In Chamber of Secrets, this almost happens to Harry--he kills the Basilisk, but is poisoned by its venom, and he would have died if it hadn't been for the restorative properties of phoenix tears.
    • In Deathly Hallows, [[spoiler: Harry is forced to give his life to stop Voldemort (who, due to his extensive use of Horcruxes, is now a borderline Humanoid Abomination). The reason for this sacrifice is that during his failed attempt on Harry's life, Voldy accidentally transferred a bit of his soul into Harry's body, turning Harry into a Horcrux. This means that as long as Harry is alive, Voldemort can't die either, because a bit of his soul will be tethered to Harry's body.
      The good news is that the reverse is also true--that due to a complex bit of magic that occurred during Voldy's resurrection, Harry's soul is bound to Voldemort's body, allowing Harry to return to life without the soul fragment in him.. This means that after Neville destroys the final Horcrux, Harry can finally kill Voldemort.]]
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston and Julia break their souls failing to punch out Cthulhu.
  • In the Chronicles of Prydain book The Black Cauldron, the only way to destroy the eponymous Artifact of Doom is for someone to willingly throw himself/herself into the Cauldron, an act that would kill that person as well. Prince Ellidyr, who for most of the book was a Prince Charmless, saves the day by making the sacrifice.

Live Action TV

  • The seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies take on The First Evil, who cannot take corporeal form and therefore can't be killed. They manage to defeat its army, but only after destroying the Hellmouth by literally blowing up Sunnydale and after the deaths of Spike, Anya, and several potentials. Even then, they never truly defeated it. How can you defeat pure evil?
  • In the season five finale of Supernatural, Sam Winchester deliberately breaks his arm punching out Lucifer when he, after inviting the Devil to possess him, somehow manages to throw the both of them back into the Devil's Cage. The upside: the Apocalypse is averted. The downside: Sam's soul is trapped, for the foreseeable future, in an abyss with an enraged and betrayed Satan. The personal kickback is nonexistent.
  • Pretty much the basis of the Wraith conflict in Stargate Atlantis. The tech level of Earth and its allies is enough to hold them off, but there are so many of them each victory is just delaying the inevitable.
  • The first 8 seasons of Stargate SG-1 consist of the Tau'ri and their allies trying to avoid (and sometimes causing) Type 6(ish). As the Tok'ra are fond of saying, lots of warring Goa'uld are preferable to one all-powerful Goa'uld.
    • In season 10, SG-1 manages to "kill" all of the Ori (they're energy beings so "kill" isn't quite the right word), but this doesn't stop their followers from continuing their war on the galaxy.
  • This trope very nearly comes to pass in the Season 4 finale of Angel, when Angel narrowly succeeds in thwarting rogue Power Jasmine's attempt to brainwash the entire human race for its own good by breaking her powers of illusion. While this does weaken her somewhat, it mostly just convinces her that humanity should die instead. Thankfully, Angel's son Connor (who is Jasmine's mortal father) turns up and manages to punch her out for good. Hey, being Cthulhu's dad has its advantages.
    • And the trope then does come to pass, as with her out of the picture, the human race goes from its Jasmine-induced state of perfect understanding and empathy with all other human beings to normal. The crash brings out suicidal and homicidal tendencies in most of the population, including Connor himself. The good guys are forced into a Deal with the Devil for a Reset Button and the Devil in question claims to be dealing with them out of respect for their demonstrated aptitude for inflicting pain and suffering on levels its own minions had failed to match. The messenger of said Devil starts out by congratulating the heroes for "thwarting world peace". Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • The series finale features Angel and his gang causing as much damage as they can to Wolfram and Hart, having determined there is no way to take down the Senior Partners themselves. They successfully destroy their agents on the mortal plane and disrupt operations enough to set back the apocalypse significantly. However, the time they purchased for Earth costs them heavily and the Big Bad send an army to make their displeasure known.
      • And the comics show that this results in L.A. being cut off from the rest of the world and plunged literally into Hell. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of the Curious Camera. The protagonists destroy the camera by making it take a picture of a mirror, but the demon possesses a video camera instead. Then they smoke it out of that, only for it to invade the computer.
    • In Pinball Wizard, Ross wins the life-size pinball game, but is doomed to replay it forever.
    • In Super Specs, the attempt to close the portal to the parallel universe results in that universe taking over "our" space and trapping the heroes in a Pocket Dimension.



  • In Greek Mythology, Sisyphus managed to cheat death by chaining up Thanatos. However, doing so messed up the whole cycle of life and death. So eventually the impulsive Ares frees Thanatos, and Sisyphus was dragged to the underworld. His punishment? Sisyphus must roll a boulder up a steep hill... But it will always roll back down again whenever he's almost at the top, forcing him to perform this pointless task forever.
  • Ragnarok, the end of the world in Norse Mythology, is full of this. The gods kill the giants and monsters, but almost all of them get killed in the process. Odin gets killed by the giant wolf Fenrir, but is avenged by his son Vidar. Thor kills Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent, but dies of the monster's poison. And Loki gets killed by Heimdall, but not before bringing Heimdall down with him.

Tabletop Games

  • In Exalted, the Exalted killed the Primordials. Their Death Curse has led to two apocalypses so far and counting.
    • Also, She Who Lives In Her Name's last act before being sealed away was to Ret-Gone vast swathes of Creation into nothingness. According to accounts by The Fair Folk, who witnessed the whole sequence of events from outside creation, even the splendor of the First Age was just a tiny, burned-out remnant of what Creation used to be.
      • To be more specific, the Ret-Gone didn't just destroy physical area, it supposedly annihilated nine-tenths of Creation on a conceptual level. Whole principles of being ceased to exist, leaving only what players and characters understand as conventional reality. It's a reality with magitech, super-sorcery and god-given Elder God-smacking heroes. But the implication is that the time before the Three Spheres Cataclysm is more or less impossible to wholly comprehend.
  • The whole business of fighting Chaos in Warhammer 40000. Any really powerful daemon simply cannot be destroyed by physical means, as they live in the Immaterium, and there's exactly one psyker powerful enough to fight them on their turf... and he's on the life support for the last ten millennia. All that He Who Fights Monsters could do is to banish the daemons back to the Warp, for them to return again later. Even though such banishments aren't exactly the bed of roses even for the Daemon Princes, and many lesser daemons could be vanquished entirely with proper procedure, this fight is essentially a defensive one, with no chance of a true victory. And the Enemy is dangerous indeed.
    • For example, take Lucius the Eternal, Champion of Slaanesh, one of the aforementioned Great Champions. If he is killed in battle and the foe takes even the slightest satisfaction from or pleasure in his death, he possesses his killer and eventually takes him over entirely, with the former victor now nothing more than another screaming face on Lucius's armor...
      • What if the Necrons or other mechanical beings manage to kill Lucius?
    • Since the Immaterium is implied to not view time the same way as the material universe, it's very possible that the only thing this accomplishes is to protect the physical universe. Daemons, on the other hand, can very likely make a jump to a later timeline, starting anew with little (if any) visible wait.
  • This is why you can't kill a Titan in Scion - Fate, being an utter asshole in the Scion universe, will go berserk if something that big is taken out of reality. When Ymir died, the Ice Age ended, causing worldwide catastrophe. The best the Gods can do is make the Titans into Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Kult plays with this. Humans are actually super beings who are unaware of their power. Various supernatural forces try to prevent humans from being awakened, yet their efforts seem to be futile.
  • In Call of Cthulhu, it's possible (if your investigators are insanely brilliant and cunning) to hit Cthulhu with a nuclear weapon. The game has rules for what happens when you do this. What are the rules? Cthulhu regenerates about 15 minutes later... but now he's radioactive.
    • That can't be good!
    • There is literally nothing that humanity can do which will kill Cthulhu for more than 1d10+10 minutes. When the stars are right, everything is over. Until then, you might be able to put him back to sleep until next time, at the cost of your sanity and probably your life.
      • and as an added bonus, in the event of Cthulhu's death (which there is no known way to cause) he will be immediately reborn from one of the other eldrich abominations.
  • The entire premise of the Arkham Horror Board Game. You can stop the Big Bad, but they'll always be back some other time.

Video Games

  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, in a literal interpretation of the trope, Dunban loses the use of his right arm after using the Menado to repel the Nigh Invulnerable armies of Mechon not once, but twice.
  • Call of Duty 4 's ending pretty much ends up with everyone dying, whilst trying to escape from saving everyone in America from a nuclear death, killed by the man that set off the nuclear devices in the first place
    • Apparently, its sequel Modern Warfare 2 also suffers this with almost everyone dead because of General Shepherd's betrayal in an attempt to write his name in history, thus revealing him to be the Big Bad and having all those who know about it and pose a threat to him killed off. Luckily, He gets killed but now the protagonists are branded as terrorists and are hunted across the world.
      • Doesn't really matter that he's dead. He got what he wanted (a call to action in order restrengthen America's fighting force), he's just too dead to take command of the subsequent fallout. That duty will fall to someone else. But he got the blank check and the war he had envisioned, which is all that really had to succeed in his plan (him being alive would simply be a perk, and if anything, two rogue soldiers who were supposedly working under him now being responsible for his death could only amp up the call to action). The very essence of the trope exemplified.
  • X-COM follows this trope with Terror from the Deep. X-COM forces manage to destroy the Eldritch Abomination that the aliens were attempting to revive that definitely would have killed humanity (being effectively invincible once awoken). Unfortunately, the alien city T'leth (in which the abomination was sleeping) managed to rise above the waves before the final victory, and explodes rather spectacularly. This first of all kills all the aquanauts who secured the final victory, and second, severely poisons huge swaths of the ocean and setting off cataclysmic cascading environmental disasters, such that by the time of the final game in the series, X-COM Apolcalypse, the earth has almost completely been reduced to a wasteland.
    • And by the end of Apocalypse, humanity's last bastion of hope, Mega-Primus, has been devastated by the extended interdimensional war.
      • Except that, by that time, humans already have a number colonies on other worlds, including Mars, as per Interceptor. Furthermore, the original plan was to build a number of Mega Cities to hold all of Earth's population, but the enormous costs only allowed them to build the prototype - Mega-Primus. It's possible that they may build others eventually.
  • Resistance follows this trope, as in the sequel, you find out despite your effort to take down the spire in London, they managed to get to the United States, and most of the United States has fallen against the Chimera.
  • The process of defeating Lavos in Chrono Trigger resulted in it absorbing the Mysterious Waif who had power over space and time. Now in Chrono Cross, the result is far worse, an entity that consumes time itself, who cannot die because somewhere, there is a dimension where you failed to kill it.
  • Most of the defeats of Dark Matter in the Kirby series seemed to be type 1 of this, with Dark Matter just coming back meaner and with an even more grand attack on the Kirby universe in the next game. So far, it looks like he finally is dead for good after Kirby 64.
    • Humorously, Kirby doesn't really care; as long he carries his MacGuffin weapon all he does is smack the shit out of Dark Matter and return to eating and sleeping.
  • Just about everyone in Eternal Darkness, with the exception of the main character, it seems.
    • Not really, since each character's actions added up and destroyed all three evil abominations at the end, thanks to Mantorok's Taking You with Me scheme.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, it is likely that the person who kills the spirit-eater will receive the curse next.
    • Also, you can try to devour the soul of Myrkul, but Kaelyn will advise against it, warning that doing so might result in this.
  • In Gears of War, the game ends with the heroes dropping the Light Mass Bomb on the overwhelming Locust Horde. However, when Gears of War 2 begins they find themselves pushed back to their last defensive position with a new sickness called Rust Lung spreading among the human population.
    • Gears of War 2 also ends with humanity sinking Jacinto, the last refuge they have against the Locust. Good idea! Problem: it might not have worked, so humanity is now pretty much defenseless if the Locust are still alive in any shape or form.
  • Persona 3's heroes defeat the avatar of Nyx, but unfortunately, Nyx just keeps on coming, responding to humanity's subconscious wish for death. The main character has to sacrifice himself to hold Nyx at bay permanently. Then in the Expansion Pack, the heroes end up just going ahead and beating up humanity's subconscious wish for death itself - but even then, it's stated that it's going to take a lot more work to solve the root problem.
    • This is a very common theme in Shin Megami Tensei games.
      • Yes, but it's not usually taken to this extent. Nocturne, for example, ends on a fairly upbeat note if you get the Freedom ending (if we ignore the fact that you have simply given this incarnation of the universe some time until God decides to reboot it again). Persona 4 completely averts this, and strongly hints after beating Margaret that Persona 3's main character's death might be somehow reversible
      • Actually, that's pretty much the extent it's always been taken to in Persona. In the first one, Defeating Pandora causes Maki's ideal world to disappear, along with ideal Maki. Which means the actual version of Maki that the characters got to know and care for disappeared into the ether. In Persona2 Innocent Sin, they fight and defeat the literal incarnation of humanity's malice, only to have one of their allies die, which in turn fulfills a prophecy that causes the end of the world. The only way to fix it? Strike a deal with an entity of immense power to rewrite history... effectively undoing all the personal growth the characters have experienced and significantly weakening the side of good. Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, in a rematch against the big bad, one of the main characters has to be sacrificed because his mere presence gives tips the scales in the big bad's favor.
      • Nocturne implies that the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei II was cursed with a Fate Worse Than Death for killing YHVH in the climax of that game. It didn't even stick, as YHVH/God will keep coming back as long as anyone believes in him. The Demi-Fiend can put himself in a position to help take down God for good... By allying himself with Lucifer, discarding his humanity and then destroying all of Creation, leaving no humans left to resurrect God with their faith. Even then, the ending doesn't say if you succeed, merely that Lucifer is preparing for a second Rebellion — and you just invoked It's Personal against God.
  • In Castlevania, Dracula curses Simon Belmont just before he is killed, giving him wounds that would never heal. Subverted in Castlevania II when Simon gathers up Dracula's body parts and resurrects him to kill him again, releasing himself from the curse. Yes, that's right. He punched out Cthulhu, broke his arm doing so, then brought back Cthulhu and punched him out again with the broken arm.
      • Julius also paid a hefty price for his victory against Dracula. While he does kill Dracula for good (reincarnation doesn't count), he loses his memories and becomes an amnesiac wanderer that gets trapped in Castlevania for decades.
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, one of the main heroes literally breaks his mech's arm to pieces trying to punch out Ingram Plisken's new mech.
  • In Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, one thousand years ago, a group of four adventurers sealed the game's Sealed Evil in a Can - only to find that once they hid the keys to that evil's power away, they each became trapped in a black box. And the seal only lasts a thousand years anyways...
  • In the ending of Killzone 2, Visari is dead, but at what cost? Most of ISA's military force is destroyed and its remnants are stranded on Helghan and Helghast has some of the ISA's nuclear arsenal ready to use on them, and the bulk of their forces were just in hiding.
    • However, ISA being invaded is the least of the characters concerns since Visari's death has effectively started a civil war...oops
  • In Supreme Commander: the means by which the war was ended by the unspecified victors comes back to bite everyone in the ass in Forged Alliance.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, Golbez and Fu So Ya manage to take out Zemus, which only succeeds in releasing his spirit, Zeromus. This also severely weakens them to the point where their most powerful attacks do absolutely nothing.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Celes manages to stab Kefka... it just happens to coincide with him becoming a God and destroying the world. It's a long, long time before the heroes are able to try a second time.
  • In Final Fantasy X, the traditional Final Summoning kills the Summoner who performs it and only temporarily gets rid of the monster Sin, which is why the heroes look for another way, hoping to eliminate Sin once and for all.
    • And when they are able to find one it causes the main character (the saved summoner's Love Interest) to cease to exist, since he was from a dream world sustained by the same entity responsible for creating Sin. Of course FFX-2 makes this all better by bringing Tidus back in the best ending.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, where you kill the Immortal Guardian Caius, and everything seems to be well, only to be kindly reminded that the heart of the goddess of time and death was beating inside his chest and by literally stabbing it you killed her, making time, life and death cease to exist. Which was Caius' goal all along. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • The game also sheds a new light to Final Fantasy XIII, when you find out that, in fact, your arm should've been broken when you killed Orphan, and the only reason it didn't was because the Goddess took pity and resurrected everyone, thus creating the time rift that caused all the events in the sequel to happen. Which means that if the benign Cthulu that you accidentally murdered in XIII-2 hadn't saved everyone in XIII, she wouldn't die and... break everybody's arm. So to speak..
  • The hero of the first Diablo game winds up with a case of The Virus, since the only way he could come up with to utterly stop the Lord of Evil was to shove a chunk of it into his face. The hero of Diablo II figures out a better way... and hits it with a hammer.
  • The ending of Mass Effect, regardless of whether you save the Council or not, sees the Citadel fleet smashed, and possibly the human fleet with heavy casualties, in exchange for destroying Sovereign. Gets very ominous when you realize that Sovereign was only one Reaper, and that the rest of the Reapers are still coming, even if you stopped their usual strategy.
    • Entirely likely in Mass Effect 2 as well. Depending on how well or poorly you prepare, your entire team of lovable squadmates may very well die helping you stop the Collectors... and even if they don't, congratulations! You just pissed off an entire race of mechanical Eldritch Abominations so badly that every last one of them knows your name... and they're all coming after you now. Not to mention that you either destroyed your best chance at understanding their technology enough to fight them effectively, or you left it in the hands of a terrorist organization.
      • You know what the worst part of that is? The one Cthulhu you meet that can give you the worst arm breaking if you're not careful? He was a Cthulhu baby, just barely out of his equivalent to a womb, and he was born prematurely. You can be scared now.
    • This all gets blown out of the water by the Controversial endings of Mass Effect 3, which go so far as to call into question whether Mass Effect is Lovecraft Lite as generally assumed or Cosmic Horror crossed with Space Opera. To begin No matter what endings you choose, or what choices you make, the mass relay network is destroyed, which in ME lore would mean supernova sized explosions in every system containing a relay. That would mean that virtually all life in the galaxy would be destroyed, in addition to the many nasty effect society losing its main form of intergalactic travel. Each ending has its own flavor of Grimdark consequences as well; in the "Destroy the Reapers" ending, a nondescript amount of the galaxy's technology is destroyed as well; it's implied that all mass effect based technology is destroyed, meaning the end of galactic civilization is assured. This is also the only ending in which Shepard can live. In the other two, "Synthesis" and "Control" Shepard dies, and in the former case, has forcibly converted everyone into cyborgs; essentially what Saren wanted from the reapers in Mass Effect 1. Depending on the interpretation, the "Control" ending might be no better.
  • Mega Man X: Sigma's first defeat of Zero causes Sigma himself to "inherit" what was later known as the Sigma virus.
  • This is the basic tone of the ending to the 2008 Prince of Persia. A sequel might change it, though.
  • In Halo lore, the Forerunners were forced to activate the Halo Array and commit mass suicide to stop the Flood from taking over the galaxy. The downside? It only sent the Flood to sleep, and now the galaxy is defenseless. And also, because every species that was picked to survive the firing eventually discovered the Halos, the Flood are released again, and nearly take over Earth once they're able to infect a Slipspace-capable ship. Though they are stopped by glassing part of Africa, they then begin a Xanatos Gambit to have the humans and Covenant Separatists deactivate the Halos and then double cross them, hoping to kill them all.
    • Of course, they are then fittingly taken down by Cortana's own Xanatos Gambit, having lured the Flood to the one place in the universe where the replacement Halo (which was destroyed in the first game) can be fired to kill the Gravemind without actually hitting the rest of the galaxy.
    • However, this trope comes back if Cortana's story in Halo Legends: Origins (in which she was a Rampant Unreliable Narrator) is true in certain respects. If the right parts are true, the Flood are still around, and our heroes can't use that plan again.
  • In the E3 video demo of Scribblenauts, God, riding a skateboard and holding a shotgun, fights Cthulhu. As per the trope, they both die at the end of the fight.
    • The question is: which one was supposed to be the Cthulhu, given the choices?
  • In the lore surrounding Warcraft, Aegwynn, the super-powerful Guardian of Tirisfal, comes up against the Dark Titan Sargeras (or, some argue, only his avatar) and defeats him with surprisingly little effort. The downside? Sargeras' spirit escapes his dying body and enters Aegwynn's womb, possessing her unborn child who later becomes the first game's Big Bad.
  • Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories's worst ending is essentially this: After Rozalin/Overlord Zenon awakens again, she's not in the mood to listen to any reason and Adell is forced into fighting her. He accidentally kills her in progress, which doesn't inconvenience her spirit too much as she possesses Adell and the first thing she does is to make him eat/brutally kill his siblings.
  • An inevitability in Warning Forever, in which your tiny ship fights an enemy that comes back bigger each time after it dies. It evolves to cover whatever weakness you exploited last time, so no matter how skillfully you defeat some ultimate form it had developed, it will be back, and while you'll be exhausted from the last fight, it will only be strengthened by your efforts to destroy it last time.
  • In the Family Guy video game, there is a sequence in Peter's level where you can punch God. This goes about as well as one would expect.
  • Two out of the three Dragon Age endings feature this trope. In order to slay the Archdemon, a Warden must be sacrificed. You can take the blow yourself, or send either Alistair or Loghain to do it for you. You can also Take a Third Option, but the jury's out on what consequences this will have for Thedas in the future.
  • World of Warcraft has the Lich King Raid as its epic moment, after your party broke their arms trying to punch them. Tirion goes in and helps do him in. Yes Arthas is dead, but there is still a need for another Lich King so Bolvar offers himself to the throne. So much for a victory feast with the Alliance and Horde as Azeroth celebrates the lich king's defeat
    • Arthas himself has an origin story involving versions 4 and 5 of this from trying to defeat the Scourge...
      • Or more specifically to kill Mal'Ganis. Which he didn't.
    • Kael'Thas' defeat at Tempest Keep was "only a setback," which you learn when you fight him again at Magister's Terrace.
    • The Old Gods are THE Eldritch abominations of warcraft, unfortunately, they're also burrowed into azeroth's core, permanently killing even one may result in the planet dying.
      • Actually, Word of God confirms that it's basically not possible for us players to permanently kill any of the Old Gods at all, the best we can do is force their influence out of Azeroth. Temporarily. At best.
        • There appears to be a way to permanently remove the effects of the Old Gods (and probably expel them permanently, or at least force them to start from scratch). However, it would result in the death of literally every living being on the planet by activating the Reorigination Device (a planet-wide Reset Button). There may be other problems with this, as the Titans chose to not use it between when they noticed the problem and their departure from Azeroth.
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep: One of the main characters, Ventus, loses his heart as a result of defeating the Unversed once and for all.
    • Of course, Vanitas was partially to blame.
  • Kings Field II sees the character's father, the former hero and saviour from the first game, get possessed by a demon and release waves of Eldrich Horrors upon the world. Your character must pick their way through this bleak hellscape, and hunt down and kill his own father. Best part - if you fail to get a particular magic sword (obtainable only by sacrificing your one and only friend), then the demon then possesses you. The final narration informs you that peace returns to the land, and life returns to normal... only for your character to slowly fall to the demon and eventually re-release the demons, repeating the cycle - only this time, there's no one to stop you.
  • In the Japanese version of Breath of Fire IV, The Emperor Soniel (largely via his head priest Yohm) attempts to kill Fou-lu (who not only happens to be the King in the Mountain that founded the empire Soniel is head of, but is also a literal God-Emperor coming to reclaim the throne) in increasingly savage ways (including, at one point, the use of a Fantastic Nuke with Fou-lu's girlfriend as the warhead; this merely was the major point in the Trauma Conga Line that shoved Fou-lu over the edge to being a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds). The final attempt involved Soniel back-stabbing Fou-lu with a sword made from the decapitated head of a god whose full summoning failed; this pisses off Fou-lu, who proceeds to decapitate Soniel with the very sword he was back-stabbed with.
  • Breath of Fire II ends with a sour note, even in the Best Ending however, the "normal" ending is the most egregious case of this, and the best ending doesn't help a lot either
  • Gradius is BUILT on this trope. Congratulations on killing the final boss and blowing it up into a bunch of pieces! Too bad that each of those pieces will regenerate totally into another Big Bad. Each with their own army.
  • Killing the Bonus Boss of Throne of Baal Demogorgon Prince of Demons is an understandably daunting and challenging ordeal. All this does is free him from his prison in Watcher's Keep and sends him back home to the Abyss. Thanks to the rules governing demons and devils, he will be free to invade the material plane in a hundred years if he feels like it. Defeating it is still preferable to letting it roam free of course.
  • In God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Kratos and his brother Deimos kill Death. It comes at a terrible price: Deimos loses his life saving Kratos during the battle, and Kratos loses his brother again. Especially tragic since Kratos' goal throughout the game was to save Deimos.
  • The Downer Ending of Galerians invokes this trope in multiple ways. Yes, the protagonist Rion succeeds in destroying the Master Computer gone wrong, but the effort of it breaks his brain. Plus, the Master Computer has a backup plan. Queue sequel.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: Literally, in fact, considering Batman sprays explosive gel on his glove before decking Titan Joker across the face. But because Batman is badass and will never let the Joker win, never, the "punching out" part actually sticks.
  • Depending on how you interpret the Silent Hill series, even the good endings mean that whatever malevolent entities surrounding the place just lie dormant until the next schmuck with a Dark and Troubled Past comes around. And then, of course, there are the bad endings, where you defeat the Big Bad, but your own sanity has suffered beyond repair.
    • In Silent Hill 4, Henry is implied to have literally broken his arm in the good ending.


  • In Order of the Stick, the Order of the Scribble's attempts at sealing the Snarl may count as this. They successfully manage to patch up the holes in the Snarl's prison with the gates, but one of them dies and the survivors break up for good, with bad blood between many of them. Said bad blood ends up destroying any united plan they may have had for protecting the gates, allowing Xykon to attack them piecemeal.
    • Further arm-breaking occurs when it turns out their solution to containing the Snarl allows for someone to access and control the power of the Snarl without setting it free, which is essentially the main plan of every major villian in the series.
  • Charon McKay's first punch against Deep One Prime was a massive Shoryuken that splintered some of the shadow-armor on her hand.

Web Original

  • In Draw With Me, it becomes did you just lose your hand trying to punch out Cthulhu (in this case, an instantly regenerating glass wall).
  • In Peasant's Quest from Homestar Runner Rather Dashing gets burninated after throwing the trogsword at Trogdor.
  • Phase, in the Whateley Universe, fighting a tiny aspect of a demon trying to gain a foothold in this dimension. She stalled it long enough that it could be sealed off again. For now. But she ended up with broken bones, life-threatening injuries, psychological damage and hideous nightmares that required intervention to stop.
    • Halloween at Whateley, since killing Sara was the whole point. Not only did it fail, but the two commanders of the force that attacked are now wanted by the criminals as well as the law, and the one who ordered the attack got into deep shit, and a good portion of the attacking soldiers were killed or taken into MCO custody.
  • Jay from Marble Hornets in Entry #52 tackles the Operator/Slender Man, but in doing so he loses the last seven months from his memory.

Western Animation

  • The page quote is taken from an episode of Justice League Unlimited, after the titular league knock themselves out in the process of destroying the Doomsday Device of a near Physical God Nano Machine-controlling Brainac/Lex Luthor fusion. The villain, able to rebuild it a matter of minutes and being utterly undamaged, shrugs it off with the above comment. It is then subverted, when Flash taps into the Speed Force and uses it to demolish the villain atom by atom, faster than his nanomachines can compensate.
    • The Justice League episode The Terror Beyond featured a team of Defenders-expies set up to beat back an incursion of Eldritch Abominations, which they end up doing by killing Ichthultu... but Solomon Grundy dies in the process.
    • A much less serious version of this trope happened in "This Little Piggy" when Batman and Zatanna picked a fight with Circe. The two make a fair account of themselves until Circe actually starts fighting back, at which point she reveals that she's basically just humouring them. Since Circe is basically a Screwy Squirrel, they manage to talk their way out of further confrontation.
  • Anything, and I do mean anything used to try to stop the Beast Planet; turn your whole planet into an energy gun? Not even a scratch. Ram it with another planet? It's annoyed. Turn a planet into a bomb and blow it up when The Beast is eating it? Doesn't even get heart burn. The best the heroes do is send it somewhere else, so it just attacks another system.
  • Something similar happened with Alpha Q's planets in Transformers Energon. When Unicron came to eat their world Scorponok set off a bomb in the center of the planet in order to destroy him, since their own lives were forfeit anyway. Unfortunately the bomb only sent Unicron into a temporary coma, and when he woke up Alpha Q was trapped inside him, alone and slowly going mad.
  • In Gargoyles, the heroes (and anti-heroes) find themselves up at one point against Lord Oberon, ruler of The Fair Folk. They try various weapons against him, which do nothing, until finally hitting him with an iron harpoon that does some serious damage. Unfortunately, even an injured Oberon is stil the most powerful character in the series, and now he's really mad.

 Oberon: I am... vulnerable... to iron. You have hurt me. Hurting me was a mistake!

    • Should've made another bell.
      • Though keep in mind the bell was used when his powers were greatly reduced. Given he was at full power by this point, chances are the bell would have done very little to weaken him.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Admiral Zhao manages to kill Tui, the Moon Spirit. La, the Ocean Spirit, gets pissed, fuses with Aang into an enormous One-Winged Angel, and lays an absolute smackdown on a massive Fire Nation fleet. After Tui is revived via Heroic Sacrifice, La parts with Aang, grabs Zhao, and drags him underwater.
    • Later in the series, the Gaang is fighting knowledge spirit Wan Shi Tong, who's trying to sink his library and trap them forever so they won't try to use his knowledge to hurt people. Sokka manages to knock Wan Shi Tong unconscious by hitting him over the head with a book. The Gaang barely manages to escape the sinking library with knowledge that can help them win the war. But unfortunately, the library still disappears, Appa gets stolen during the fight, and worst of all, the Gaang's new friend Professor Zei gets dragged down with Wan Shi Tong and the library. Presumably, Zei stays trapped there forever.

Real Life

  • Honeybees die whenever they sting a human, or anything else with thick skin.
  • Eleazar Avaran, one of the leaders of the Maccabean revolt, where the Jews fought for and won their freedom from Seleucid rule. Eleazar killed a war elephant with a spear, but the elephant fell on him and he was crushed to death.
    • This is also a crowning moment of awesome. Having no idea how to deal with Elephants he ran under the thing when it reared... and allowed it to fall on him, spear planted firmly in the earth.