• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
  • The main man himself is (temporarily) thwarted in "The Call of Cthulhu" when he is run down by a steamship (he begins regenerating but becomes stuck in R'lyeh). Though the heroic sailor doesn't come out of the encounter in the best of mental health...
    • In August Derleth's The Trail of Cthulhu, the above sequence is one-upped when Cthulhu is thwarted (again temporarily) by having a nuclear bomb dropped on him.
    • And if memory serves, in Derleth's "The Whippoorwills in the Hills", the same thing was achieved with dynamite. ...Okay?
    • There's also The Dunwich Horror. While the horror may not actually be a god (he's a spawn of one of them), the characters manage to banish him. As all three characters neither die nor become cripplingly insane (they're not so bad off as to be locked up), this is probably the only happy ending in the Cthulhu Mythos as penned by Lovecraft.
  • Averted hilariously in a non-canon short story by George R. R. Martin, where Jaime Lannister is due to fight Cthulhu himself. He still wins, but only because he killed the cultists trying to summon Cthulhu. You can read it here.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Nazgûl, one of Sauron's most powerful servants, says that "no man can defeat me". He is stabbed by Merry a Hobbit, and then killed by Éowyn, who is a woman, so not a man.
    • Did Gandalf just slay a Balrog? Yes he did, although it cost him his life. He gets better, though.
    • Gandalf himself was a maia, though, essentially an angel and on roughly the same level as the Balrog (though clothed in human form), so it wasn't really anything beyond his ability.
      • Except that 'clothed in human form' is important here, as function follows form in the cosmology of Middle Earth. Gandalf was intentionally required to wear the form of an old man when he was sent forth, as his mission was to provide wisdom and counsel, not match power with power. Thus Gandalf had most of his power limited when he fought the Balrog which, having chosen a form of demonic flame and shadow, had much greater access to its native power. When he is later sent back as Gandalf the White, much of his power is returned to him.
  • From the Discworld series:
    • Eskarina Smith kicked her way through the Discworld Dungeon Dimension creatures in Equal Rites. Mind you, Discworld Dungeon Dimension creatures are described as being very weak against purely physical threats—they do, however, eat magic that is used against them to become much stronger.
    • Rincewind has done this at least three times.
      • In The Colour of Magic, he accidentally beats Bel-Shamharoth with Twoflower's picturebox's flash.
      • In The Light Fantastic, he punches out a dread horror who had taken the form of Trymon, eventually beating it to death while it was trying to retake it original form. He couldn't quite believe it worked, either.
      • In Sourcery, he challenges a the most powerful magic user on the planet, who himself had just magicked away all the gods. His weapon of choice? A brick in a sock. By the time he got to the Dungeon Dimensions all he had was sand. Luckily, socks come in pairs.
    • In Witches Abroad, one of Discworld's immortal vampires (can even come back from staking, sunlight, etc.) is accidentally thwarted by one witch with a window shutter, accidentally again by another witch with a garlic sausage, and finally deliberately eaten (in bat form) by Greebo, Nanny Ogg's cat.

  Discworld: Witches Abroad "Vampires have risen from the dead, the grave and the crypt, but have never managed it from the cat."

  • Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga series (and the Eternal Champion, et al.) have great fighters slaying sons of gods, and then eventually the gods themselves, in an escalating arms race.
  • In the Dragaera series, Morrolan kills a Physical God with a Great Weapon, and a Jenoine goes the same way at the hands of Vlad and Godslayer. Tazendra manages to defeat a Jenoine in single combat without a Great Weapon, and Devara, in dragon form ate one.
  • Justified in the Conan the Barbarian novels. It is explicitly stated that Eldritch Abominations and demons lose much of their power when they enter reality. They still tend to be the strongest opponents Conan faces.
  • In CS Lewis' Perelandra, Dr Ransom acts as the Good Angel when the Queen of Venus is tempted by a literal demon towards falling from grace. With the salvation of the entire planet hanging in the balance, Ransom realizes the demon's possession of an astronaut (which enabled it to enter the planet in the first place) was its Achilles Heel—he could simply pummel the thing into submission.
  • Subverted and played for a good laugh in John Dechancie's Red Limit Freeway. After traveling for lightyears along roads built by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens the heroes meet a handsome, slightly androgynous man in flashy clothes. One of the heroes, convinced the man is responsible for his alien abduction, hits him with a sucker punch. Cue the protagonist: "I think you may have just punched out God." Other guy: "Nah, God has a beard."
  • Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy sets up god, AKA the Authority, as the enemy of free will and human interest, but in the third book he proves to have been so weakened by old age that he gets turned to dust by a strong breeze. A more threatening villain is his Second, Metatron, who himself can only be defeated when he is hurled into the void between universes, and thus destroyed forever.
    • Calling Metatron "his Second" is kind of misleading - Metatron has actually been running things for quite some time.
  • John Taylor from the Nightside books does this approximately every five minutes. No sooner does he hype how much of a terrifying unbeatable badass so-and-so is, then half a page later he beats them.
    • Admittedly, it's usually through the Functional Magic inherited from his vanished mother who eventually turns out to be Lilith, who was the ancestor of 95% of the Eldritch Abominations in the series in the first place. Given that his Gift enables him to find and hit any beings Achilles Heel, it's interesting that the series managed to maintain the necessary Dramatic Tension to keep going.
  • Eddie Drood has also done this on a regular basis, both to full-blown Cosmic Horrors as well as lesser higher-dimensional monsters. In his case, possessing Powered Armor designed by a friendly Eldritch Abomination helps. Pretty much the only thing preventing him from being a Boring Invincible Hero is that his challenge is not beating the bad guys, but finding them before they bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Done repeatedly in Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice, Deptford Histories, and Whitby Witches series.
  • In an eventually undone timeline in the third novel of the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, Raistlin, a mortal man, albeit the most powerful wizard in the history of Krynn, had killed Takhisis, the chief goddess of darkness, whose primary form was a five-headed dragon.
  • In The Dresden Files, part of Harry Dresden's backstory is that, at the age of sixteen, he beat a kind of demonic bounty hunter sicced on him by his Evil Mentor. He later discovers to his shock that the demonic bounty hunter called He Who Walks Behind is an Outsider-- in Dresdenverse terms, an Eldritch Abomination. Fully trained wizards spend centuries learning how to defeat Outsiders.
    • To avoid accusations of Beginner's Luck, Harry's mother specifically had Harry under the appropriate signs which give him the ability to affect Outsiders in ways that normal wizards can't. Any wizard born under similar circumstances would have the same abilities.
    • When Morgan gets his Character Development we find out that he killed a skinwalker, a horrifyingly evil Native American Eldritch Abomination/demigod, by luring it to a military testing range in Nevada then teleporting out just before they set off a nuke.
    • In Changes, Harry and his buddies kill the Red King and the Lords of Outer Night. They posed as the pantheon of the Mayans, Aztecs, and other Central American gods for thousands of years, and have the power to make a convincing argument of it.
      • Mitigated by the fact He unwittingly is backed up by Odin and his Valkyrie, let alone the power Blackstaff possesses. So this is really an epic slugfest.
    • Earlier (Summer Knight), Harry took out an insanely powerful fae by having a bunch of pixies he'd made a habit of bribing attack said faerie with box cutters. It was probably around this point that he started attracting the attention of everyone and their grandmother in the supernatural world, since there can't have been more than a handful of times that someone managed to take out a Faerie Queen.
  • In Glen Cook's series The Instrumentalities of the Night, the main character, "too ignorant to know he can never prevail over such a thing," discovers that even the most powerful gods are vulnerable to a mix of iron and silver hurled — this is the key point — by the newly developed gunpowder weapons. After a while, he's got troops trained to do it almost routinely.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, they manage to kill the Grotesquery, a creature partially constructed from the corpse of a Faceless One, albeit with great difficulty and several casualties. In the third book, Valkyrie kills two Faceless Ones using a weapon designed to do so. Skulduggery manages to force one back through the door to their prison using a strong gust of wind. In the process, the weapon is destroyed, and Skulduggery is dragged along with the Faceless One.
  • In Paradise Lost, Abdiel hitting Satan. Although an Angel, in Paradise Lost Abdiel is far below in glory the illustrious figures of Lucifer, Michael, Raphael, etc. His only distinction is loyalty, being the one angel to hear and reject Satan's offer to revolt. In the opening salvo of the War in Heaven, mighty Satan appears bedecked in his warrior-king regalia, ready to smite on all sides. Instead, Abdiel pops out of the fray and clocks him on the head, knocking him cold before he can strike a blow.
  • In a Night Watch series novel Face of the Dark Palmira by Vladimir Vasilyev, a powerful Other (i.e. wizard) is in a magical stand-off with the agents of the Odessa Day Watch. He is punched out by a half-dazed, naked Dark Other with a regular torchiere over the head. It is explained later that the baddie attempted to maximize his magical potential by entering the Gloom (the magical dimension) half-way, which, ironically, left him vulnerable to physical attacks.
  • The Everworld series of novels has several instances of humans attacking gods, with varying amounts of success.
  • At the end of the story Interlink, Trent, the villain, and Lonny, the protagonist, fall from a plane and hit the ground, creating a crater. Lonny gets out, unharmed since Trent broke his fall, and reunites with Maggie, Kay, and Jack. Although Trent seems to be dead, he gets up and is about to kill the four when Lonny tells him that his cell phone, which gave him his godlike powers and the ability to control the Interlink, shattered after the fall. Trent's eyes scream "Oh Crap" as he realizes he is now only human, and is suddenly shot in the back of the head by Evan, who was believed to have died earlier. After shooting him, Evan says "God Mode...deactivated."
  • None of the gods actually die in Dan Simmons's Illium, but the Greek heroes send several teleporting away with injuries, Hockenberry tasers Hera with 50,000 volts, and Mahnmut (who is a kind of sentient non-combat android) steals a flying chariot by jumping in kicking out the goddess driving it.
    • Actually, in Olympos Hector decapitates Dionysos and feeds his body to the dogs and Paris's funeral pyre.
    • Achilles can't really kill Zeus, but since the gods are very carefully recreating mythology Achilles is protected by destiny. Specifically they made sure that he could only be harmed by an arrow fired by Paris at his infamous heel. By this point Paris is slightly deader than he's supposed to be. Things go poorly for Zeus.
  • At the end of the first book of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, the protagonist (a 15-year-old scullion with barely any formal training with weapons, noted by several characters as having not stopped growing) kills or at least seriously wounds one of the last remaining dragons in the world, which had already killed two of his much stronger/faster/more skilled/generally better at killing things comrades.
  • In the Warhammer 40000 novel Deus Sanguinius, Rafen manages to kill the Lord of Change Malfallax. However, to do so he had to use the Spear of Telesto to do so and Broke His Arm Doing So.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa saga, we have Hidetsugu, an ogre warlord who has every qualification to be categorized as a badass, including serving a ancient demon-god with the conspicuous moniker of 'All-Consuming Oni of Chaos'. Eventually, Hidetsugu turns on his employer-unspeakable horror for wussying out of an epic fight, and thus proceeds to fist said Oni into submission. In an subversion of breaking his arm while doing so, he actually merges with the god and takes his place.
  • The defeat of Typhon the Storm Giant from Percy Jackson and The Olympians.
    • Does that really count? As I recall it was most of the olympians who finished him off. Doesn't it need to be at least a semi-regular person for it to be an example?
    • On the other hand, Kronos in Luke's body was hit in the eye with a plastic hairbrush, thrown by Rachel Elizabeth Dare.
  • The climax of Blade of Tyshalle sees a superhumanly intelligent Physical God possessed by an even more powerful Eldritch Abomination come up against a Genre Savvy Combat Pragmatist with a magic sword.

 "I have always been fortunate in my enemies- * shhhnk* hurk -" "Happy Assumption Day, fucker." * stab*

  • In Warrior Cats, a series where Humans Are Cthulhu, SkyClan defeating an abusive Twoleg is much like this.
  • In The Jehovah Contract A terminally ill hit man is hired by Satan to kill God. He succeeds.
  • In the last Black Company book by Glen Cook, Croaker kills the goddess Kina by setting off a giant magical explosion in the chamber where she is sleeping.
  • In The Elenium Sparhawk manages to kill one god. Then he follows it up in The Tamuli by slaying another. Granted, both times he had the help of powers beyond those of a god, as he is in fact the Chosen One of The Maker.
  • The climactic battle of Paul Kidd's Queen Of The Demonweb Pits involves a small band of very angry people laying into Lolth (demon-goddess of the Drow) with everything they have. She tries to escape (bruised, bleeding, and badly burned), and falls into a pit of holy water (which burns demons like acid) a few feet from the portal out of the plane.
  • Harry Potter, a sophomore wizard of mediocre skill defeats Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard of all time in no less than three books: Philosopher's Stone where he defeats his human vessel, Chamber of Secrets when he destroys his Soul Jar, and Goblet of Fire when he beats him in a magical duel although he kind of had the advantage because Voldemort was sort of being attacked by an army of ghosts at the same time. Long story. Neville Longbottom destroys another of his Soul Jars right in front of him in the final book. Poor Voldemort has a pretty tough time, no wonder he's always so angry.
    • The Weasley twins unintentionally do this in the first book by enchanting snow balls to fly after Professor Quirrell (who is possessed by Voldemort), bouncing on the back of his head where Voldemort's face is situated, hidden beneath Quirrell's turban, thus beating the Dark Lord in a snowfight.
    • I'm not sure Harry actually is mediocre in skill. IIRC, only Snape ever sdaid anything, and said he had "no particular talent", and that was from someone who actively hated him. Harry might not do well in theory, but he is highly skilled in practice.
      • It is true that Harry's combat skill is very high, and is shown by the result of his exams: Hermione got an "Outstanding" (the absolute top grade) in everything except Defence Against the Dark Arts (though she was still well above average), whereas Harry's marks had the full range from good to bad in every subject except Defence Against the Dark Arts, where he got an "Outstanding". However, while Harry is clearly a very good duellist (especially for his age), nobody, least of all him, doubts that Voldemort is vastly more powerful, so this trope still applies.
  • In The Book of the Dun Cow, the final battle is between Wyrm, an enormous, ancient serpent as large as a planet who can easily kill angels, and the dog Mundo Cani, whose only weapon is a cow's horn. Mundo Cani wins by blinding Wyrm's vulnerable eye, but at the cost of his own life.
  • The Young Wizards series is about teenagers fighting an undefeatable being who is basically Satan. Naturally, Punching out Cthulhu and crowning moments of awesome happen on a regular basis.
  • In the Monster Hunter series by Larry Correia, the protagonists fight against Cthulhu-like aliens and their cult followers and defeat them. In the second book, Monster Hunter Vendetta, the protagonists not only fight directly against the so-called 'Old Ones' they use a doomsday weapon made by Sir Isaac Newton against the Cthulhu-like Overlord. The weapon not only kills the alien, it seems to unmake its entire reality.