Invincible Hero

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"Let the guy be a little fallible. Those are the ones I am interested in watching when I go to the movies. I want to see the flaws, the dirt under the fingernails. If he is invulnerable, how can you identify with this guy? As absurd as it may seem, you have to believe in it, or else the audience won't and they won't get their money's worth."
Brendan Fraser

Heroes win. It's a general rule of fiction. Sometimes, though, you want the hero to lose a few battles; this is a good way of establishing conflict and drama. A hero may well consistently lose but learn valuable lessons out of it, get Character Development, and grow strong enough to win for the series finale.

And then there are heroes who never lose. Ever. Not only that, but they win handily, especially in life threatening situations. If any "losses" occur, they're typically ambiguous and open ended, brought about by clear cheating on the villain's part, or as a forfeit from the hero due to external causes (kidnapped Love Interest, etc.). This of course tends to rob a given episode or movie franchise of dramatic punch when the viewer's reaction to a hero being lowered into a mortal Death Trap is "Like You Would Really Do It!" This type of hero is basically a walking personification of Victory Is Boring.

Behind this is usually the idea that the hero is "just that good". Plus, he's the hero; good guys never lose! Doesn't matter how hard The Determinator trains, the hero is always two steps ahead. This is especially common in episodic series where the Monster of the Week is a regular occurrence (Lowered Monster Difficulty when the hero comes to fight it), or in fighting series (whether kung fu, Mons, or card games) where the protagonist is on a quest To Be a Master. If taken to extremes, this trope turns into God Mode Sue.

Compare with Immortal Hero, where the heroes can and often do lose, but hardly ever die, the less suspenseful Showy Invincible Hero, that would be this except that it focuses on the Rule of Cool, and the Comically Invincible Hero or The Ace, which follows Rule of Funny. See also Invincible Villain, their Evil Counterpart. The Hero Protagonist is especially at risk to this. If hero has his invincibility granted to him by any specific object of his posession, that object is a God Mode Item. In that case Rule of Drama indicates that he will lose it in some way, sometimes to an opponent, and have to regain it right before being defeated at last once.

Contrast with Failure Hero, who never wins at anything.

Compare Invincible Incompetent, where the hero is still usually untouchable, but more due to dumb luck and Laser-Guided Karma than any real competance of their own.

Sub-Trope of The Good Guys Always Win.

Contrast Kryptonite Factor and Good Flaws, Bad Flaws, the main ways to make an Invincible Hero more... vincible?

Examples: Spoilers Ahoy


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • At least in the first anime, Alucard from Hellsing is an immortal Sociopathic Hero, able to survive even near-total bodily destruction. Though whether he's the series' protagonist is arguable, he receives quite a lot of screen time and plot focus, and few if any situations ever credibly threaten him.
  • This is the exact reason why Seijuro Hiko very rarely appears in Rurouni Kenshin. According to the creator of the series, he would turn any battle in the series into a joke. Well, no... not so much a "joke" as a really short one-liner, as any fight would be over in seconds. So, Watsuki keeps him out of normal fights, making him a Showy Invincible Hero instead, with each appearance being a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Kenshin himself is this in the first few stories. The series starts out with Easing Into the Adventure where Kenshin is much stronger than all of the early villains. Later, the series becomes more serious and darker with villains that pose much more of a threat. Even so, Kenshin almost never actually loses a fight to any of them.
  • One of the biggest problems many Gundam fans had with the ending of Gundam Seed Destiny was that at the end the new heroes had won the final fight without losing a single named character. The new main characters' mecha didn't get a single scratch, and they even went so far as to strike a victory pose at the end to show that they hadn't been scratched. Compare this to every final fight in other Gundam series, including the original Gundam Seed, in which every character can die and the main character often only gains a narrow victory, trashing his machine in the process.
  • Oban Star-Racers averts this quite nicely. The main characters are frequently shown to be only keeping through the tournament by the skin of their teeth. The best example of this is the Grand Finals, in which they are actually in last place for... pretty much the whole time.
  • Akagi never loses a game of Mahjong in the anime or the manga. However he is reported to have once been beaten by the main character in author Fukumoto's earlier work Ten.
    • Further, when Akagi loses a round, it's typically because his opponent either got the better of him ("cheating" doesn't really count because Akagi abuses his opponents like a red-headed stepchild when he cheats, which is often) or because Akagi is purposely laying a trap (RE: The third game, vs. Urabe).
  • Captain Tsubasa simply never lose. You wonder why people in the anime even think he can. At the very worst, it will be a draw.
  • Takumi from Initial D starts out like this. In fact, it's the reason why Takumi's dad won't put a new engine in the Eight-Six. He says that Takumi needs to learn what defeat fells like so that he'll appreciate the upgrade. Then again, Takumi has be driving longer than any of his peers, to the point where people think that his car was a ghost. It helps that his dad has been secretly teaching him how to drift since he was 13.
  • The Prince of Tennis's Ryoma Echizen has almost yet to lose a match.
    • A match that counted for something. He has lost before to the captain of team, who he had never previously played, to knock him down a peg and keep him from getting over confident.
    • If we count the anime, Ryoma lost in an unofficial match against Genichirou Sanada so badly that he went into an Heroic BSOD. Akutsu has to force him play against him to snap Ryoma out of it.
    • Early on, he actually reveals that he gets trashed in tennis every day. But he's playing his dad, who is like the strongest player in the world (unofficially).
  • Yugi of Yu-Gi-Oh! has "lost" only five times, and only once 'fairly.'

Panik: Why aren't you dead?
Yugi: As I explained earlier, I'm the main character. You, however, can just go right ahead and die.

    • To take it a bit further, Yami!Yugi (AKA Atem) only lost one legit game in the manga, and that was to Normal!Yugi.
  • Judai of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX takes after Yugi. He lost the first battles he had against Ryo and Edo and his match with Kaibaman, and tied several times. He won on all other occasions. Several Big Bads and rivals pointed this out, leading him to believe he needed some inner darkness to be a true hero. Be Careful What You Wish For...
    • In the manga, he wins virtually every duel, but lost against Koyo Hibiki before coming to the academy (although Koyo was the World Champion, and this was before Judai got Terra Firma and Winged Kuriboh).
      • The manga also has Judai losing to Manjoume at the final match of the tournament. In fact, just as Manjoume was getting dangerously close this status himself, Kaiser Ryo defeats him when he has all three of his most powerful monsters on the field.
      • Having Manjyome almost play this trope straight in the manga is even funnier if you compare him to his Anime version, where he never ever manages to beat Judai.
      • Also inverted in a very cruel way with Fubuki Tenjyoin, who never wins a single duel in the Anime but is a champ in the manga.
  • Initially Subverted Trope in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, of all places. The real bad guys, the Dark Signers, spend most of their arc mopping the floor with Team Yusei. It's not until episode 50 that the Signers really gain momentum in their battle with the Dark Signers.
    • Played painfully straight with Crow, who has a better deck then anyone else on the show by far, and only has two losses and a draw (not counting a duel he lost on purpose), a fantastic record for him considering he's not the main character and how often he duels, and even than those are only show that Yuusei could come in as Team 5Ds' last wheeler.
    • Yusei's "victory" over Team Unicorn through the sheer power of his super-charisma also has this trope written all over it.
    • While Yusei's win record seems rather contrived at times, he has had two legitimate losses. First one was against Jack in a flashback shown in episode 2 and the second was against Dark Signer Kiryu, although interrupted at the last second with his D-Wheel crashing and nearly getting himself killed by Ccapac Apu's attack.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima usually averts this (Negi generally loses at least one fight with any villain before he beats them), but the Tournament Arc followed the subtrope of getting to the finals and then losing. Although in that case, the victory was in reaching the finals, and what happened then.
    • Alternatively, his father Nagi Springfield has been explicitly stated to be completely invincible. Through all the flashbacks, we've yet to see him greatly struggle (with the exception of a tie and a climactic battle against someone by the name of "Lifemaker").
    • In fact, the Myth Arc of the series concerns Nagi's disappearance ten years prior to the start of the series, and his son's attempts to find out what could possibly have happened to him.
    • Jack Rakan is also effectively invincible. To the point the only opponents who have ever given him trouble are Nagi (who's more... invincible... or something) and the Lifemaker and Fate. And even then it should be noted that Fate had to rewrite reality in order to have a shot, and even then, Jack is still holding his own.
  • Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star is nearly unstoppable. There are very few opponents that ever won a fight against him, or demonstrated superior skill, and he defeats all of them on second attempts, in one case without even having time to recover from the initial mauling. This trope is very prominent in the anime version, as it adds lots and lots of filler Curb Stomp Battles against Punks of the Week, but much less so in the manga.
    • When Kenshiro loses, he loses badly. Both Souther and Kaioh really did a number on him, his first battle with Raoh was a close call, and his loss to Shin is the moment that sets the entire series in motion.
  • Oddly Justified in Flame of Recca. Recca never loses a fight past a certain (fairly early) point in the series, but then again his powers come from a deal he made with the dragons inside him so if he ever loses anything he'll die. His teammates lose all the time though, especially since much of the series is a team based tournament where they just barely win enough matches to move on every single time.
    • Actually, he simply cannot die, losing is fine. If he dies without fulfilling his duty to his master, he will simply become a useless dragon with no power who will take up unnecessary space in another Flame Wielder's arm. And considering most of his enemies are Ax Crazy, it's probably best to not lose at all.
    • Similarly, in MAR (done by the same author) Ginta never loses in the tournament, since if he loses, it's game over. His team mates on the other hand, can and have lost. Some of the rounds come down to a 3-2 win/loss ratios (with Ginta being last fighter to boot).
    • The witch Dorothy plays this trope straight, however, as she also remains undefeated throughout the tournament. Even though she gets beaten down rather badly several times, she is able to pull through with sometimes seemingly impossible feats. She does die in the anime, but eventually revives along everyone else for the final battle.,
  • Lina, the heroine of Slayers is less of this trope than it warrants, but it is painfully obvious how fellow mages Zelgadis, Amelia, and Sylphiel are out-classed against her, as she is the only person among them (and probably the entire world) who can both beam-spam the most powerful spell in the verse's Black Magic, and can also draw power from the Lord of Nightmares. She also shows ridiculous insight and intelligence often in random bursts, whereas normally she is fairly smart, but not inquisitive - the reverse happens with Zelgadis, normally book-smart, but fails rather epically with battle strategies. It is her that takes down just about every single demonic being that the group encounters, which makes Xellos' comment of all four main characters being "Slayers" of demons far less credible - Lina defeated Shabranigdo while the others were taken down in one blow each. Filia, a Golden Dragon, Naga, her alleged rival, and Pokota, a prince, are probably the only people that could rival her, but Filia is a stuck-up, prissy, and naive priestess who often refuses to take a part of the group's antics, Naga is incredibly flaky, and Pokota is stuck in the body of a stuffed animal, knocking down his use by a solid margin. This mostly applies to the anime and the novels.
  • Angelic Layer, although there wasn't much of a choice for the writers outside of maybe a double-elimination round or two—the entire tournament was a vehicle for Character Development and an opportunity for the main to confront her absent mother.
    • She lose battles outside of the tournament. And every fight was won after taking a beating first while she figured out her opponent's style and tricks, it was never a Curb Stomp Battle.
  • Utena, Utena, Utena...lost only one duel, and it was because she froze up. She defeats him in the very next one. While it's more justified in the case of the Black Rose duels, as the fighters are not experienced (and, on a philosophical level, fighting with their emotional rage rather than the well-formed reasons the regular duelists have), seeing her win against Juri for their first duel is positively infuriating (as Juri is about to strike, Utena's knocked-away sword falls straight through the air out of nowhere and rips off Juri's rose).
    • On an emotional level, it gets even worse because Utena berates the student council (and a few of those that would become Black Rose duelists) for their emotional issues, yet it's clear that she has some herself. However, she never grows out of her "I want to be a prince that saves princesses" attitude through the entire series, even after The Reveal about Anthy being incredibly passive-aggressive towards everyone. Anthy is mixed with many emotional conflicts, namely the choice to be free in a world that berated her or be stuck in a horrific relationship in a cozy environment - Utena does not see through any of that, and cannot comprehend why Anthy (and the others for that matter) have such emotional reserves. Mikage holds true that she is like him, and unlike her, he admits it.
  • Noir has its leading ladies usually come out on top, often with ridiculous ease, but considering that they're assassins the other option would end the series. There are a few exceptions, and they do get close a few times: Mirielle nearly dies in the first episode and only survives thanks to Kirika showing up, and Kirika herself gets seriously wounded in an early episode because of a stupid mistake.
  • Kazuma Azuma is completely stuck in this trope. Despite constantly being sabotaged in the Monaco Cup and being given the "worst possible opponent" over and over again in Yakitate 25, the worst he does is tie, or have his bread judged lower than someone in a different bracket.
    • Didn't he lose against Miki Norihei in the Yakitate 25 in a seaweed bread contest?
  • This is actually addressed in-story in Bamboo Blade. Tamaki Kawazoe, or Tama-chan, is a kendo prodigy capable of defeating adults. One character in the series remarks that he thinks Tama should lose a bout, and not to an adult but to a girl her own age. He feels losing to an equal can teach things that no victory can. Ishida-sensei starts trying to get the team into tougher and tougher bouts in part to give Tama a chance to face others of her own level.
    • Once she does lose to a superior opponent, she does not know how to handle it at all, having never lost before. Unfortunately, the anime at least ends before it properly tackles the consequences of this, but we're given a fair impression that it is an issue that will be dealt with.
  • Hades Project Zeorymer takes this about as far as it can go. The machine itself is ridiculously fast and can teleport, plus it's armored enough that it can shrug off nuclear weapons without even being at half power. And the few times it's seriously damaged in the manga, it just teleports in replacement parts from a parallel dimension. It doesn't help that the pilot is a Complete Monster with an Omniscient Morality License and never gets any real comeuppance for all the crap he pulls.
    • In fact, the only thing stopping the Zeorymer from owning everything within a 100-mile-radius in two seconds is its pilot being a total wuss until his evil side takes over. So how powerful exactly 'is' this monstrosity? Powerful enough to allow it to single-handedly beat the Super Robot Wars games it appears in ALONE. This is in a game (MX) that has Neon Genesis Evangelion, Machine Robo and RahXephon, by the way.
  • Saki and Nodoka from Saki both lose ONE time, and against the same opponent.
  • From Hareluya II Boy, we have Hibino Hareluya, who has yet to even be pushed into being serious during a fight. Manages to not be boring because he's hilarious.
  • Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass is a perspective flipped version of this trope. He's always able to take down the "bad guys" with his Super Prototype Knightmare Frame, and always foils Lelouch's plans—but Lelouch is the protagonist. Invoked by the Camelot research team, who name the afore-mentioned Super Prototype the "Lancelot". Played very straight toward the end when he and Lelouch end up on the same side and he effortlessly defeats the most powerful knight in the series, even after he reveals his future-reading superpower.
  • Golgo 13 never fails an assignment, or for that matter misses a shot. If he did, he'd lose his reputation as an assassin and there would be no series. Later chapters solve the problem by focusing more on the people who hire him and how their situations deteriorate to the point that they need to bring in a hitman. (Infamously, he doesn't appear in one story at all; the central character merely uses Golgo 13's reputation as a weapon.) The fact that the stories are standalone and bounce around time help in this regard. For completeness sake, there have been several occasions of him missing, at least once by weapons sabotage creating a misfire, and one complete miss caused by the target's allegedly psychic bodyguard.
  • Vampire Hunter D cannot be stopped, only slowed down. Despite of being early on mentioned to have half of vampire's strength and half of the weaknesses, he has since become such a Marty Stu that literally nothing that the most powerful entities in his world can dish out at him can even can even make him change his expression. The only one who could even remotely threaten him is his daddy dearest.
    • Similar to the Golgo 13 example, and the Alucard example, he has reached the level of plot device. The story hinges on the growth and changes of the people surrounding him, and whether it will be a Bittersweet Ending, or a Downer Ending, or a Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo is invincible. But since the show and character are both crazy, it's played for laughs and not to be taken very seriously. He does have weaknesses and gets hurt a few times, but never seriously enough to matter. Except during the final battle of the original series, but even then he eventually recovers.
  • In Sonic X, Sonic the Hedgehog leans into this territory on occasion. He is often presented with a cocky, unphasable Bugs Bunny-esque attitude, treating his often effortless victories against Dr. Eggman as little more than a game.
  • Subverted Trope in Mushishi. On the one hand, the protagonist, Ginko, always seems to identify the mushi at work in a particular episode with astonishing speed and accuracy, which would fit this trope; however, this doesn't always guarantee a completely happy ending, as other factors, such as his arriving too late, the patients not following his instructions or there simply being nothing to be done in the first place, frequently get in the way of this.
    • The trope is also somewhat Justified Trope in that Ginko is shown to do a lot of research into mushi in his time, probably more than most others in his trade; however, his young age might count against him in this (particularly in the manga, where he seems barely out his teens; the anime places him more in his late twenties or thirties).
  • Played for Laughs in Tentai Senshi Sunred, in which the villainous organization Florsheim are way below the league of their mortal enemy Sunred, who inevitably defeats whoever they've scrounged up to defeat him in a single hit. Considering the show is a sitcom, adding actual battles and drama wouldn't fit in anyway.
  • Played with in Legend of Galactic Heroes, with Yang Wenli, who never actually militarily loses anything in which he plays a part, even against incredible odds. Ever. To his allies he's a Hope Bringer, to his enemies he's a Hero-Killer, and on both sides he's Famed in Story. However, his role as the Invincible Hero is subverted often and Played for Drama by Yang himself when he candidly admits that the moment he stops being invincible is also the moment he stops being a hero. By the end we find he's Not So Invincible After All.
    • Notice that while Yang does win almost any battle as long as he's involved, it's often mentioned and hinted that he'll still lose in some areas. For example, while he nearly kills Reinhard during Battle of Vermillion, Mittermeyer captures Alliance's capital, forcing Yang's fleet to ceasefire. In two other battles he wins over the Empire, capturing back Iserlohn Fortress, but he lost Bucock and Fischer, one being his father figure, and another the "heart" of his fleet. It's even notified that Yang won't stand a chance if Reinhard attacks again after Fischer is killed.
    • Reinhard, on the other hand, is also considered as Invincible from the beginning of the story to the point that he effectively ends the whole war and unifies the universe half way through the story, but interestingly he'll always feel that his victory isn't complete when Yang is there to disrupt him from getting a total victory. The only real time he gets a crushing defeat is the time Battle for the Corridor where he lost two top admirals to Yang's ragtag fleet.
  • In Sailor Moon, the poor monsters of the week shouldn't even try attacking the Senshi - they might be able to bring in one or two luck hits, but that's all they can expect, and they all die (without exception) when hit by any attack from the protagonists (one-hit kill). Only subverted in the next-to-last episode of Series 1, where the DD Girls actually do kill off 4 of the Senshi for real - naturally they are resurrected in the next episode, but still, that's more then any other Monster of the Week had ever achieved.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Superman, with a few exceptions, such as never being able to beat archvillains such as Darkseid or Lex Luthor, though that's mostly due to Joker Immunity.
    • Lampshaded in a comic where he competes against another super-hero character who is dying because of a method he used to rejuvenate himself. Superman's friends point out this strange energy and Superman reveals what he has learned. Because his opponent cheated, his opponent technically loses, making Superman remark "When you're Superman, what's one more victory?"
    • I'm A Marvel... And I'm A DC uses this quite well to actually make Superman relatable again. He's constantly lamenting how no one seems to care about him anymore, having moved on to the more fallible and relatable characters in Marvel's comics, and is frozen by self-doubt when Lex Luthor's newest scheme wipes out every other superhero in the world. He's finally able to win with the realization that all of those other heroes are relatable because they're all doing the same thing we all are, trying to be more like Superman. (Made slightly humorous/heartwarming in that it is Stan Lee that points this out to him.)
    • Grant Morrison has saved him from this multiple times by making him the Showy Invincible Hero and making him fun to watch. The All Star DC Comics run being the most prominent example.
      • Also prominent early in JLA's run where Superman briefly muses that he isn't sure if he lives up to his legend. Pages later he restores the Moon's orbit by giving it magnetic poles. Later still, while he's battling the archangel Azmodel:

The Flash (Wally): This is the man who said he couldn't live up to his legend . . . he's wrestling an angel.

      • And all this while the League is dealing with the actual Big Bad. He got Superman out of the way as the writers often have to do in league stories, but gave him cool stuff to do.
        • How To Write Superman Well is summed-up in one word in the aforementioned angel-wrestling scene:

Asmodel: "Yield!"
Superman: "NEVER!"

    • Speaking of supporting characters, one of the reasons (non-Silver Age) Superman usually isn't described as a Canon Sue is from the focus of the tension being more on danger to other people rather than danger to Superman. While Superman himself is near-invulnerable, saving loads of people at once is usually made extremely difficult, making the readers concerned about the people Superman can't save and its emotional effect on him.
    • Long story short, Superman's biggest problem is Depending on the Writer. Some people just don't know how to write him, so he comes across as dull and overpowered.
  • Batman likewise has no trouble catching crooks; it's the justice system's fault for not being able to keep them behind bars. Also, while he suffers several personal losses, he rarely loses battles. What? He's Crazy Prepared and a master of the Batman Gambit!
    • He lost pretty often in the old days. In fact, almost every episode of the 1960s Batman show had a cliffhanger in the middle where Batman was captured and had to escape a villain's deathtrap.
    • Note that Batman is only invincible half the time. His Crazy Prepared skills obviously only work in situations he's planned for, so if he meets a new rogue or an old one with a new trick, he will typically lose the initial encounter: the villain will get away scot-free and Batman will get his ass soundly beaten. After escaping and researching the new foe, however, he will pretty much always win round two.
    • Batman is invincible, not always victorious. He often loses, or fails to catch the villain. War Games, Under the Red Hood, Death in the Family are costly losses, the Killing Joke is a Pyrrhic unresolved
    • Batman exemplifies this trope in Justice League of America. He pretty much has to, since he wouldn't survive his first mistake against a JLA-class menace.
    • Somewhat averted in The Dark Knight Returns. The first time Batman fights the leader of the mutants, he gets whomped by the guy. As the series progresses, he gets more and more injured. By the end, he even dies...temporarily.
  • Mad has a character who is basically a lampshading of this trope named "Fantabula-man".
  • Fletcher Hanks' Stardust the Super Wizard, who has super-strength, flight, invulnerability and basically any power that would be useful in a situation, and no weaknesses. A large part of the entertainment value comes from the utterly bizarre punishments he doles out to evildoers.
  • Squirrel Girl, with her powers consisting of enhanced Squirrel abilities and being able to talk to squirrels, has yet to lose a single match. Accounting her wins are Thanos with the combined power of the entire universe and Deadpool; even Doctor Doom is dead scared of her. This is entirely Played for Laughs.
    • It must be mentioned that this is the entire point of Squirrel Girl. She is a displaced Silver Age comic hero - meaning that no matter how insane, ludicrous, or absolutely useless her power appears to be, she will always win. Always. Silver Age heroes all fit this trope - ridiculous 'powers', immaculate track records. Case in point - the Red Bee. Not even a Badass Normal, just some dude in a stupid costume who had a pet bee. That was his entire schtick. No matter what he was up against, he would always win. Period.
  • Wolverine, thanks to his ridiculous regenerative abilities, can now regenerate from only a few cells in a matter of minutes. While still a very popular and interesting character, his ability pretty much kills any dramatic tension.
  • Lampshaded in Robert Kirkman's "Brit" comics. The hero's one power is that he's invincible. What makes him not-boring is his personality and the stuff happening around him. That, and the fact that everyone ELSE isn't invincible.
  • Similarly, Kirkman's character "Invincible", from the same-titled comic, has a main character who's the most powerful person on Earth, because he's the son of that comic universe's answer to Superman (well, sorta). And indeed, he IS pretty invincible... Until his dad beats him nearly to death. While he remains impossible to hurt for most, there're plenty of critters out there more than powerful enough to kill him.
  • Monica from Brazilian comic Monica's Gang falls into this sometimes. Sure, a 7-year old superstrong girl is funny. But beating up people with a plush bunny is the only way to defeat every villain in existence? Especially when she's not the protagonist of the story?!
  • In Lucky Luke, this is very much how Luke evolved in the series... An example of Tropes Are Not Bad: Morris and Rene Goscinny used this to their advantages, by making the villains (especially the Dalton Cousins) the driving force of many stories. The fun is not watching how Luke will win, but how the villains will lose (and, in the Dalton's case. how will Averell and Joe's interaction doom Joe's plans).
  • Tintin in the eponymous comic series. Hergé, the author, was so aware of this trope that he grew uninterested in his lead character and began focusing more on sidekick Captain Haddock halfway through the series.
  • Subverted hard with the Legendaries; despite the fact they have the reputation of being invincible heroes, they actually appear as goofy and clumsy most of the time, having trouble with quotidian tasks such as protecting a potion from an mere thief, only to reveal how badass they truly are when a real threat shows up. Even then, they are usually over-powered by said real threat and have to earn their victory, especially during the Anathos Cycle.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • This trope is one of the many reasons why Mary Sues are hated. When the character is so awesome, losing is not an option.
    • Rose Potter from The Girl Who Lived is this. Who cares about all the truths about love, family, friendship, and sacrifice learned over five years of suffering, when "Harry" now has magical druidess powers that make him ten times more powerful than Voldemort could ever be? Critics have noted that Rose has to be handed an Idiot Ball not to just finish off the bad guys outright.
  • An amazing subversion comes in the plot of a Touhou Project doujin Koamakyou by Tohonifun. The protagonist for the games is shown fighting through the bosses of one of the games brutally; violently impaling the first to the ground, angrily mocking the second's attempts to fight, simply ignoring the third, and fighting the fourth and fifth at the same time. At the end of the battle with the fourth and fifth, the fifth stabs her in the back, ignoring the rules of the games... and the protagonist turns around completely unharmed. Turns out, she's pissed off because she completely personifies this trope: as the lead of the series, she can't lose. Ever. In anything. In a world where the best way to pass time is the joy of fighting, and you can never conceivably lose a battle...
  • The writers of An Entry With a Bang! are trying to avert this, but the discussion to this end can and has gotten inflammatory at times.
  • This is to be expected in most Warhammer 40,000 crossovers, being that most of the inhabitants of that universe are as they are. One exemplar of this is God of Death which puts a Space Marine on Azeroth, with predictable results. Few fanfics can handle this well enough so that it won't be one-sided, like Chains of the Kindred which crosses W40k with Halo.
  • The Firefly fanfic Forward deliberately averts this with River. The author has stated that he dislikes fanfics that turn River into a solve-everything "easy button" who casually defeats most enemies, and instead portrays River as a Fragile Speedster and Glass Cannon who has managed to get badly beaten when taking on overwhelming odds. One fight actually ended with River getting shot, her back wrenched, and a leg broken.
  • Twister from the definitive 1990s self-insert series Twisted Path is granted immense power at the start of his travels thanks to being thrown into a cosmic maelstrom to dispose of him and never really stops getting more powerful through his adventures.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Equilibrium: Word of God is that he made Preston a "god of death" because he always imagined his heroes that way.
  • Ultraviolet, by the writer/director of Equilibrium, has a similar hero. Violet, a super-powerful "hemophage," can defeat mere humans without any effort. When she is confronted by a mob of fellow superhuman hemophage bad-asses, she cuts every single one of their heads off with a single swing.
  • A prime example: The main hero of the Japanese movie (and Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode) Prince of Space, whose invincibility depends largely on his ability to repel energy weapons (as well as his ability to choose really pathetic enemies.) "Your weapons are useless against me!" becomes something of a Catch Phrase for the hero, who uses it no less than seven times during the course of the movie. Interestingly, this line was added by the English dubbing. In the original Japanese film, The Prince is not invulnerable, which is why he occasionally dodges laser fire.
  • Any character played by Steven Seagal, who destroys all his enemies with insulting and sadistic ease. Enemies spend a good deal of their time talking about how much of a badass Seagal's characters are. This is all a result of Seagal's creative input. He says his characters are "born perfect," making them basically God Mode Sues. One partial exception comes in Executive Decision, when Seagal pulls a Heroic Sacrifice himself after a boarding action goes bad ("partial," because Seagal spent so much time crying in his dressing room about it, that they had to change the scene to make his death "less certain--" despite that he's sucked out of a moving jet at 30,000 feet... without a parachute). Another exception comes from the film Machete, where he dies, but still manages to no-sell a machete in the gut for a couple of minutes before finishing himself off.
  • The title character of Ip Man Curb Stomps all his enemies, but the choreography is tight enough to minimise eliminate boredom. More likely a Showy Invincible Hero. Brutally subverted in the sequel, where the Twister actually knocks him down several times and the final victory is very much hard-won.
    • While Ip mows through everyone else in the first film the Big Bad, while outclassed by Ip, does manage to hold his own for at least half of the final fight, get in a few licks of his own and comes close to winning by Ring Out a couple of times.
  • Spoofed in Rustlers' Rhapsody, a western-parody starring Tom Berenger. The hero repeatedly lampshades the fact that he's defeated the villains in countless frontier towns without much effort, and always will, because he's the good guy. The villains in this particular town get Genre Savvy and hire another "good guy" to fight him, presenting him with his first-ever challenge.
  • 'Bone' in Blood and Bone, even more than most of the heroes on this page. The only reason an opponent ever gets in a hit that actually leaves a mark is so he can get patched up by his Sassy Black Woman landlady and give her a Tai Chi lesson. It doesn't matter how many opponents he has, or what weapons they have, he pwns them. At least the other examples lose a fight or at least look like they might at times. Not Bone.
  • Rocky Balboa has an in-world example. The fight between the nearly 60-year-old Rocky and current champ Mason Dixon is set up because Dixon's undefeated streak is making the sport boring.
  • Neo of The Matrix grows so strong by the end of the first movie that when he fights three enhanced Agents alone in the second film, he casually quips "Huh, upgrades" when one of them blocks an attack. The only bad guy who is capable of taking him on equal terms is Smith, who is able to literally Zerg Rush Neo with hundreds of copies of himself (and later with a powerful copy of himself that's absorbed the Oracle's powers.)
  • Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, to the point where opposing teams have to raid Formula One so they can defeat him.
  • The Adventures of Captain Marvel has the title character being the only person with superpowers in the serial, and being Nigh Invulnerable to boot. Surprisingly however, this trope is averted, despite Captain Marvel being immune to bullets, blades and other common types of attacks. Throughout the serial, sufficiently advanced technology is shown to be able to harm him enough to knock him out, and he's placed in situations where its stated that even his invulnerability might not be enough to protect him, such as a death trap involving molten lava.
  • Captain Amazing in Mystery Men is introduced with a long history of this due to his perfect win record. World-class super powers, a wealthy Secret Identity, photogenic charisma, and the connections to arrange release of his nemesis in order to keep merchandise interest up. Unfortunately he's Wrong Genre Savvy, and is not the protagonist of this story.
  • This was one of the criticisms of The Chronicles of Riddick. In Pitch Black, Riddick was a lot more human but in the sequel, Riddick is suddenly turned into the smartest, strongest, and most skilled person in the movie. Not a single opponent lands a clean hit on him until his climactic fight with the Big Bad.
  • In The Warrior's Way, the hero Yang defeats every enemy with a single swing, never getting so much as a scratch. In the very beginning, he defeats the "best swordsman in the world... ever" effortlessly.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Andrew Wiggin from Ender's Game gets banished from Earth for being one of these.
    • Although he only ever actually got into two actual direct fights (and did win both) Physically he's not really that tough. Mentally however, you give him an army, you WILL win every battle.

"It doesn't matter how bad they stack the odds, if you're on the other side no fight will ever be fair."

  • Honor Harrington plays with this trope. In earlier novels the ultimate victories are Honor's. She wins at great costs to her crew and ship, but always does the major turning in the end. However, as Haven becomes better characterized, she often just survives Pyrrhic Victories. Until she ultimately spends a year in a POW camp.
    • Ultimately the original storyline was to kill Honor in 'At All Costs' to fulfill her role as Horatio Nelson In SPACE!, which would have resulted in the second trope.
  • Aloysius Pendergast, at least in the book Brimstone, is the very essence of this trope.
    • Subverted in the later books. It's true that Pendergast never loses when he's on the offensive, but cracks and fails badly when he himself, and those he loves and protects, are the ones attacked. The price of Pendergast's intensive training and discipline to obtain his Badass abilities is also explored in depth, making him rather similar to the Batman example earlier.
  • Peekay, the main character of The Power of One, doesn't lose a single boxing match in the entire book. He does Handwaved this at one point by noting that with such a wide range of opponents in South Africa, it wasn't unusual for someone to go 40-0 at the Junior level, but he's also something of a Determinator anyway.
  • Pretty much any book by Raymond E. Feist, of Krondor fame. While the characters have their fair share of misery, the definition of such people as Jimmy the Hand, Mara Acoma, and Roo Avery is that they always succeed at everything they put their minds to.
  • Also, many books by Piers Anthony, in particular the Apprentice Adept series. The books revolve around contests in a wide variety of games, styles, and arenas, and the protagonist Stile always wins every single one of them. Except one that is simply a dice roll of pure luck with no skill involved, which is so briefly described and swept under the rug that it's easy to miss.
    • Well, its a double-elimination tournament, so there's no way the story can have him end as champion except by having him win every single round but one. You are correct in that his one loss in the Games was deliberately scripted to be in no way his fault, ever, it was just pure random chance.
    • Also, Stile has been training for at least ten years for this exact tournament, as well as for the Metagame (the game which picks which game is played in each round). He (and other serious competitors) are rarely the Olympic-caliber equivalent at anything, and do in fact have weak areas, but can deflect attempts to exploit those into a "nearby" strength. And there's a good amount of unspoken mutual agreement between the more sportsmanlike people to have "honorable tests", as well.
    • Also, Stile sweated blood in several of those competitive rounds. Arguably one of his key victories, the football game vs. the Rifleman, was won by him pretty much on pure luck -- he was getting his ass kicked for all four quarters until squeaking it out with a miraculously successful onside kick in the last three seconds of play.
      • Another one, the marathon run vs. Hulk, required friends of Stile to make (admittedly rules-legal) off-course arrangements on his behalf and without his foreknowledge or planning in order for him to win. (The course was set up so that competitors had to either take a several-mile detour or else run through a low-atmosphere area. Hulk had done his research ahead of time and realized that by the Exact Words of the rules, the competitors were allowed oxygen tanks. Stile hadn't... but his girlfriend, after seeing Hulk pull into the lead via this trick, immediately ran out and bought one and then had it delivered to him at a pit stop.)
    • This is Lampshaded to a degree once he becomes a noble. The other nobles have noticed that he never loses anything and start taking bets on who can make him lose first. The winner's victory, however, is short lived, as Stile only lost the bet because he bet another noble (a much larger amount) that somebody would tamper with the last bet to force him to lose.
    • Not to mention that a metric tonne of implied (and sometimes more than implied) behind the scenes Chessmastering by the Game computer, the other Self-Aware Robots, and the original Blue Adept, among others, are also involved, matching Stile deliberately with opponents he was likeliest to beat, putting him in fields where he excelled, etc.
  • Feric Jaggar, hero of The Iron Dream, never loses at anything, ever. The pace of the plot is determined primarily by how fast he can swing the "Steel Commander". This is intentional; it's part of the book's Stylistic Suck.
  • This seems present in Harry Potter, but only so far as Quidditch goes. The Gryffindor team is the "good" team which never loses so long as Harry is playing—the only losses he experiences are ones where he's knocked out or isn't playing at all, because Harry's quidditch skill is so good that no one else can ever rightfully win against him. It's also played straight in that the Slytherins, in Harry's view at least (and most other characters as well, it seems, like Luna, Lee, etc.) seem to cheat gratuitously in every match against Gryffindor, because there is no possible way that any team (including Slytherin) could win against Harry's Gryffindor if they played fairly. While this trope doesn't extend to the rest of the Harry Potter series, this is one example where it seems to hold true every time.
  • The heroes of any given chivalric romance. Amadis of Gaul and Sir Tristram are particular offenders. Somewhat inverted with Orlando furioso, though, as Orlando eventually turns into The Incredible Hulk because Angelica does not love him, and slaughters hundreds of innocents.
    • Roland, from The Song of Roland. Although he has to die in order to be the Doomed Moral Victor (and because the actual Roland died in that battle), most his wounds are somewhat self-inflicted things, like when his temples explode because he's blowing so damn hard on that horn in order to warn Charlemagne's army. Also note that he keeps fighting even when his brains are running out his ears and onto his army.
  • Leto Atreides II in the last third of Children of Dune when he becomes a nigh immortal Half-Human Hybrid capable of curb-stomping even his aunt Alia. Essentially a superhero without a supervillain.
    • Arguably, becoming this is an integral part of Leto's plan to rid humanity of its desire for messianic figures and leaders, by becoming the most insanely powerful dictator ever. Being invincible means the resistance will have to push so much harder and will be forced to evolve far beyond what they would've otherwise achieved.
  • Some book reviewer once commented that the protagonists of Robert A. Heinlein's later novels never have problems, "only transient difficulties."
  • Any protagonist from a James Byron Huggins novel. All of them (with the exception of Longinus in Nightbringer) are Badass Normals who no matter what they are facing—superhuman nephilim (Nightbringer), a genetically-engineered government-built dragon (Leviathan), squads of highly-trained Mooks (The Reckoning), prehistoric Hulk analogs (Hunter), or an ancient Egyptian sorcerer (Sorcerer) -- they will always contemptuously beat them.
  • Richard Rahl from The Sword of Truth flirts with this trope. Every book, he spends his time working himself into a more and more impossible situation, only to casually brush it aside at the climax.
  • Matthew Sobol's Daemon from Daniel Suarez' books skirts this trope closely in the first book because of the incredibly complicated Gambit Roulette Sobol puts into place that apparently comes off without a hitch. It's justified by the fact that Sobol put lots and lots of redundancy and backup plans into the system, but that shifts the Invincible Hero status to Sobol. Although he is an Invincible Villain in this case. Or is he? However, there is still enough risk and danger to the plan from all sides to prevent it from ever being boring. The sequel Freedom(tm) ramps up the action to put serious question into the Invincible part as well.
  • Not a person, but a whole organization: The Service in James Blish's The Quincunx of Time. As the prologue points out:

The press was free.... Yet there had been nothing to report but that:
(a) an armada of staggering size had erupted with no real warning from the Black Horse Nebula; and
(b) the Service had been ready.[1]
By now, it was commonplace that the Service was always ready. It had not had a defect or a failure in well over two centuries.

    • The story then reveals that in this setting the future is fixed, and that the Service has access to a radio that can transmit signals back in time. At this point, it is literally impossible for them to lose.
  • Subverted in The Most Popular Book in the World, a Twilight parody. The author killed off certain characters whose counterparts in Twilight do not die (including Candy and Hector 2.0) because she found it unrealistic in the original books that vicious battles are fought against the Volturi and yet no one on the heroes' side is killed.
  • Discussed Trope in the Black Widowers story "Northwestward"
  • Pick a pulp novel hero. Any pulp novel hero from the 1930s whether it be Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, John Carter of Mars, or Tarzan. They will be far superior to any other human even those of their own group, irresistible attractive to females, and the best warrior that ever lived requiring dozens of other warriors to even stand a chance, and usually a brilliant intellectual. Some writers knew this might be boring so they toned down one of these aspects or got rid of it all together. Other times they were able to make the rest of the story interesting enough that it didn't matter.
    • John Carter, at least, is occasionally shown as having some doubts about his ability to get out of his latest scrap... though to return to the "invincible" them, often he's not actually worried about losing, he's just concerned that he may not be able to win fast enough. If it's less than 90% of the way through the book, he probably won't win fast enough.
  • Sun Wukong of Journey to the West is a classic example. He's a shapeshifting, immortal, super strong, super agile, kung-fu hero. The gods had to put a magic circlet on him just to so he wouldn't destroy everything. Later variations grew wary of this trope and began to tone him down a bit, but the original Monkey King was an unstoppable Invincible Hero.
    • Although also a subversion since he's far from a 'hero', and creates almost as many problems for Xuanzang and the other monks as he solves, either directly or indirectly. He fits this trope better in the early chapters where he's the central protagonist, but it's so much fun to read that he's more of a Showy Invincible Hero; and it's again subverted in that he does eventually lose, twice: once to Erlang Shen and the other gods, then again to the Buddha.
  • The City Watch of the Discworld books has been threating to turn into a collective version of this for some time: the Watch is now so large, powerful and influential - many of its personnel are serious Badasses in their own right that very few plausible threats are much of a threat to it anymore. Noticably since Jingo most storylines have involved either actual wars or seperating Sam Vimes and the other main characters from their vast resources via distance (Snuff) or time (Night Watch) with the bulk of the Watch functioning as The Cavalry.
    • In the Discworld series as a whole, Vetinari's plans never fail. Never. If Vetinari is involved with the main character of the book in some way, their schemes will turn out successful (even if not in the way the main character expects).
  • Berserker's Planet features a gladiatorial tournament. One of the contestants claims that he 'has never met a man who could stand against him'. Subverted in that, as one of the more intelligent contestants points out, this being the culmination of a series of to-the-death duels that's true for all the survivors; even those that got killed in the previous rounds must have been undefeated up to that point.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • MacGyver is practically the posterchild of this trope. Earlier seasons were still able to portray him as fairly interesting in spite of his contractual invincibility (if often through Diabolus Ex Machina), but after the writers finished turning him into a full-fledged Fixer Sue, it got to a point where it was almost subversive to not have an improvised gadget work to full effect (of course, it would still remedy the situation regardless...).
  • The leads in courtroom dramas tend towards this, especially Perry Mason and Matlock. This is usually to prevent Karma Houdini because no one else can ever figure this shit out for themselves.
    • This is explicitly discussed in Boston Legal's usual Meta way, when Alan gets worried that the lawyers of their firm are winning too much, making their cases less exiting.
  • Michael Westen in the early seasons of Burn Notice, at least in regards to his non-spy Villains Of The Week. His skills and resourcefulness so vastly outclass his opponents that there simply is no dramatic tension. It's a measure of Mike's usual invincibility that the most effective scene in the series showed him nearly whimpering in the face of one more, notably galling injustice. Of course, Michael's more serious opponents put up a better fight, and "beat" him several times. In later seasons, Michael is less invincible, as his plans often hit a major bump halfway through (often because the client does something stupid) that leaves him racing to regain control of the situation.
    • Michael's invincibility was lampshaded hilariously by a member of a Russian assassination squad in Season 4's "Past and Future Tense"

Russian assassin: He's Michael Westen! There's only four of us!

    • Also subverted in the very first episode, where Westen's beaten badly enough that he has bruises for days after, which he shows to a client to point out that no amount of training renders you immune to an ass-kicking.
    • The trope isn't played perfectly straight in the first season. In one episode, Michael has to take on a bounty hunter who is noticeably larger than he. In the commentary, the show's creator and Michael's actor say they wanted to put him in a fight he simply couldn't win. He doesn't.
  • Eliot Spencer in Leverage. As the group's muscle, he is unstoppable. The bar for his abilities was set high in the show's pilot, as he enters a room full of armed mobsters and defeats them all in a matter of seconds. From this point on, anyone he faces is doomed. The fact that he works completely unarmed only adds to this trope.
    • Then he is forced to use guns in a season finale, at which point he obliterates a roomful of trained mercenaries without a scratch on him. Just because he doesn't like guns doesn't mean he can't use them.
    • An episode in the first season has him getting beat up by one of Sterling's men, despite surprising the guy. Then it turns out Spencer was either pretending or just had an off day, when he comes back and pummels the guy.
    • Subverted in "The Two Live Crew Job", where it's heavily implied that his ex-Mossad opponent is clearly his superior. Cue Slap Slap Kiss.
  • Horatio Caine from CSI: Miami, to such an extent that it has become a worldwide Snark Bait.
  • Sportacus from LazyTown. He has no character flaws, never fails at anything he tries and is hero-worshiped by everyone (except Robbie Rotten). The only thing that keeps him from being a Mary Sue is that he's as naive as everyone else in the show (except, again, Robbie) to the point where it becomes Adorkable.
  • Has come close to killing Survivor a few times. Often, one tribe comes into the merge so down on numbers that the members only have a shot at winning if the other tribe breaks. More recent seasons have added extra means of immunity to counteract this.
    • Boston Rob Mariano. By now has overtaken Russell Hantz as the Creator's Pet, and even getting his own Survivor season to himself with the dumbest cast since Samoa. And given that the players in Samoa made stupid move after stupid move, that's saying a lot!
  • Shawn Spencer in Psych, others might one up him once or twice an episode but it's pretty much always Shawn (except maybe for A Day in the Limelight episodes) who makes the final break and solves the case. He's so damn smug about it, you find yourself wishing he'd lose in his own arena at least once.
  • Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamura in Heroes. Peter could gain any other superhero's ability simply by standing near them. Hiro could stop time, teleport, and travel through time, making him nearly impossible to defeat in battle. However, the problem with these heroes was that they were given too many opportunities to solve all the problems of the plot too quickly. This meant that they had to clutch an Idiot Ball in order to keep the plot moving, leading to many Kill Him Already moments among fans. Even the writers realized this and had both characters significantly weakened for a time.
  • Horribly subverted by Farscape - the heroes are all on the losing side pretty much all the time. Even their wins can't be considered as wins, more of a just-barely-managed-to-stay-alive-one-more-day situation. It's so bad that you might actually get pissed at the show for constantly making them lose.
  • Patrick Jane from The Mentalist fits this archetype very well. It doesn't matter what manner of outlandish or dickish moves or claims he pulls, he will always be justified in doing them, even if if there would be no reason to do so beforehand. He always wins. A fine example of this is the fourth season premiere, where he manages to drum up a million dollars by himself for bail, while in jail, and manages to get away with murdering a man who had never been investigated prior, by convincing the jury that the man was his arch nemesis, when in reality he wasn't.
  • Souji Tendou, the titular Kamen Rider Kabuto. He effortlessly defeats every single challenge that comes his way, and any exceptions are either Played for Laughs (such as his obsession with winning a scratchcard game) or because he let the other person win. It got so bad that the show had to introduce an Evil Twin just to give him an adequate challenge, and even with that it only took a few episodes for him to overcome it.
    • If course, his awareness of his utter invincibility is one of the aspects of Tendou's character. Kamen Rider Kiva, on the other hand...has no real excuse once he gets Emperor Form.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Hjältekväde ("Hero's song") is a popular song at swedish SCA gatherings, about the noble duke Caspian (no relation to the Narnia guy) who leads his army to fight the enemy. Except he dies in the seventh verse from a stray arrow. But since the song is (jokingly intended to be) commissioned by "the duke" (maybe a successor or relative, maybe Caspian himself), the songwriter amends this by having a goose land on his head and take the arrow. As the song continues, the hero gets killed in several un-heroic but fairly realistic ways (he gets stabbed by a spearman from behind, crushed by a panicking horse, and butchered by the more skilled enemy leader) and hastily saved by various contrivances (he's carrying a sack of potatoes on his back for explicitly no reason at all, the horse falls in love with a passing moose, and he wins the duel with no description at all). The song continues to sing about how dull it is to have the hero win all the time and never let him even take a scratch, but assures the listeners that when real nobles go out to fight, they're just as vulnerable as anyone else...
  • Lampshaded and parodied by Blues Traveler in their song "Run-Around": "Like a bad play where the heroes are right/And nobody thinks or expects too much/Hollywood's callin' for the movie rights/Sayin' hey babe, let's keep in touch"


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]


Other[edit | hide]

  • At a panel discussion/writer's workshop summarized here, Timothy Zahn, writer of The Thrawn Trilogy, called this trope "Superman Syndrome", where characters were so powerful that there were few challenges for them; he mentioned that a lot of Star Wars Expanded Universe writers have done that with the Jedi, elevating their powers so far beyond what we saw in the movies. He considers it boring, because who could ever really challenge or defeat such characters? Characters had to genuinely surmount whatever difficulties that might create, not use a deus ex machina to escape.
    • An excellent example of his addressing this, specifically with respect to Star Wars, can be seen in the Hand of Thrawn duology, with Luke Skywalker finally learning a lesson that it took him from all the way back in The Empire Strikes Back (when he rushed off headlong to save his friends) to learn: the Force can guide a Jedi's actions, if they let it. He needed to let go of the torrent of raw power to hear, essentially, the wisdom of the Force. In doing so, he had to trust that his friends and family could handle themselves without him, as he knew they could, and to trust in his own abilities and his own path (the specific catalyst being to head to the one place where he saw a vision of himself, not just of others). It worked out pretty damn well. (This was, of course, promptly discarded by future writers, who went back to the style of superweapons and insane power for good and evil alike.)
      • This is subverted in Knights of the Old Republic. If you talk to Jolee Bindo, he will tell you about his friend with great Destiny, Andor Vex. He was monumentally strong in the Force, and was prophesied to have a great destiny, which would change the face of the galaxy for centuries. He was captured by a marauding Warlord, and when approached, decided to rely on his reputation and perceived importance to history. This pissed off the warlord, who threw him down a reactor core ventilation shaft. His body hit something sensitive, causing the ship to be destroyed, along with the warlord, freeing the sector from his iron grip. So... yeah, destiny!
      • To make it even better, Jolee Bindo does not relate the story as a piece of somber wisdom but as a hilarious anecdote, laughing the entire time he's telling it. Of course, he already knows what the PC's "great destiny" that everyone keeps alluding to is as well, he just likes openly messing with people.
  • Professional sports suffers from a lack of drama when one or a select few teams dominate for too long a period of time. The sports media seems to love this for some reason, but for fans of all the other teams it can make following the sport pointless. North American sports has taken measures to correct this (amateur drafts, salary caps) in ways that European sports have not, and as a result there are far fewer perennial dynasties. However, they still occur—the periods of basketball dominance of the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers being perhaps the best example. If you were a fan of anyone else, why bother?
    • The same goes in college sports. A good example is the NCAA basketball tournament. It's hyped for several months in advance, everyone fills out their brackets, people set aside work to watch the games...and the same five or six teams end up dominating. For example, when's the last time you DIDN'T see Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State or Syracuse in the Final Four?
    • Motor racing can also have this (helped that the richest constructors build the best cars - so much that every ruling body forbids or imposes something for balance). In Formula One, ratings dropped as Michael Schumacher won five years in a row and broke most records.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Triple H gets a lot of this, to the extent that reviewer guidelines for Smackdown Vs. RAW '09 explicitly forbade showing him in a "prone or defenseless position". Guess how that one went.
  • Most of the animosity John Cena receives from Smart Marks stems from this, as most of his matches seem to have him get into a seemingly hopeless situation, only to miraculously come back and win (usually with the same sequence of five moves).
    • Smarks have started joking that John Cena "runs on odds"—the higher the odds (in other words, the less likely it is for Cena to win on paper), the more certain his victory becomes, and generally when he loses it's against an evenly-matched or lesser foe.
    • The attitude outside of his matches has also earned him this reputation...he's been known to 'no sell' various things. He's taken a beatdown and come back smiling and running to the ring the very next week...or even day in some cases, without so much as tape on his ribs. The only time he showed any sign of lingering injury was when The Big Show chokeslammed him through a spotlight...an action that probably would have put anyone else out for months.
      • Even funnier after facing Sheamus for the championship at "Tables, Ladders, Chairs". Nobody thought Sheamus stood a chance in hell. Sheamus won. Although, as Spoony pointed out, it was tables match and it didn't necessarily mean Sheamus was capable of beating Cena so much as it showed Sheamus was capable of lifting a 240 pound man and putting him through a cheap table.
        • Not even that much, Sheamus never even lifted him, he pushed him from a top rope into a table, and the announcers spun it to make it seem like Cena fell on his own.
        • And then Sheamus continued to beat him. Granted he has yet to beat Cena cleanly, but outside of non-televised house shows, Sheamus is the one heel Cena has yet to beat.
  • In fact, most of WWE's main event faces seem to have this aura of invincibility around them. Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker will lose cleanly literally once in a blue moon. (For those wondering, a blue moon is an actual occurrence: the second full moon in a month.)
    • Hulk Hogan's actually a fairly interesting example here, as that same aura of invincibility that made him a god in the WWF bored WCW fans to tears (well, that, and the horrible storylines and god-awful gimmicks that surrounded him). Then they turned him heel, and he became more popular than he was since he left WWF. Of course, then he greatly outstayed his welcome and the problems started again.
  • The Ultimate Warrior is the poster child of an "Invincible Hero." The Ultimate Warrior possessed an arsenal that consisted of clotheslines and shoulder blocks. He managed to beat the Honky Tonk Man in 31 seconds for the IC belt, beat Hulk Hogan for the world belt at the next Wrestlemania, and generally never lost a match unless severe interference was involved. He was eventually fired for extorting Vince McMahon for money. He was eventually rehired by Vince and made a return at Wrestlemania XII. He capped off his career in the WWF by completely no-selling Triple H's Pedigree and remaining undefeated until he was fired again.
  • Any match between a main eventer (face or heel) and someone lower down the card involving a potential world title change will inevitably involve this. Even if the lower-carder does manage to win, it's usually the result of a disqualification or countout (on which the title cannot change hands); if not, it's a non-title match, often for the lower-carder to "earn" a title shot. Like you would REALLY have Shelton Benjamin win the world title.
  • The ultimate professional wrestling example of this trope is Goldberg. He had a winning streak of 173 after his WCW debut, finally broken by Kevin Nash after Scott Hall shocked him with a taser.
    • Although it should be noted that many, many fans didn't consider the streak boring at all.
    • It should also be noted that Goldberg could still get outwitted by other wrestlers. And Bret Hart beat Goldberg several times after the streak was broken. And Goldberg lost some of his invincibility once he joined the WWF.
  • Can also apply to Heels holding championships with designated Face rivals.
  • Subverted by Pro Wrestling NOAH in the case of heavyweight champion Jun Akiyama vs. challenger Masao Inoue, a perennial heel midcarder who'd unexpectedly won a contender's tournament... since his inevitable doom was so "obvious"—Inoue could neither overpower, outsmart, nor out-wrestle Akiyama—that the match began with him immediately using his signature moves at the beginning and became a race to see if he could outheel his opponent in time, Inoue's "tricky" cheating heel ways against Akiyama's heel brutality...


Religion[edit | hide]

  • In most monotheistic religions, God is an omnipotent, invincible being who can literally do anything.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Warhammer 40,000, pretty much every army is this... when appearing in their own codex. When they are appearing in other races' codexes, they tend to get beaten...
    • It is also worth noting that some codices don't take the Invincible Hero approach. Codex: Eldar shows that while they still have much strength in them, they are quite clearly sliding towards inevitable destruction. Codex: Dark Eldar is basically the same: the Dark Eldar are doomed.
    • And the Imperial Guard... well you know...
    • The Ork logic goes something along these lines: "Orkz are never beaten in combat, if we win we win, if we die, we die fighting so that doesn't count and if we run away it's ok because we're always back for another anuvver go".
    • Tyranids avert this rather painfully, being the only army whose own rulebook goes into vast description about all the times the Tyranids lose. (Granted, nearly every single one of these cases serve as textbook examples of Pyrrhic Victory.) The logic is supposedly "if they won, you wouldn't be hearing about it." Of course, as the Tyranids measure it the entirety of their invasion so far has been a reconnaissance mission before the bulk of their forces arrive.
  • This is criticism that is very often leveled against Exalted, as the eponymous Exalted themselves are always portrayed by the system as completely indestructible übermensch that can outplan Batman, outdrink Tony Stark, outfight Everyone and survive any attack.
    • Until you grind down their Essence supplies. Most of the main-book Perfect Defenses can also be defeated by manipulating them into a position that exploits the virtue flaw you have to choose.
    • The fact that you have to be good at a mundane skill to have access to its super-powers means most characters (even NPCs) are going to be bad at something, just due to point allocation. The trick is finding a way to use it against them.
      • And for most Exalted, their Great Curse gives them a nice, exploitable weak point directly above their neck.
    • Also, there are thousands of Exalted (three hundred at Solar tier alone), on at least five different sides. This tends to balance it out somewhat, since the guy who can outfight an army by himself is going up against another guy who can outfight an army by himself.
  • The Challenge Rating system introduced in 3rd Edition D&D was specifically weighted to select opponents that the player characters had a fairly good chance of demolishing, as the expectation was that they'd tackle about four fights in a row before they'd get to replenish resources. That didn't stop game masters from siccing an occasional above-CR opponent on the heroes to keep them from getting cocky, but one who stuck strictly to equal-CR encounters and allowed too many rest-and-recharge breaks could easily turn their campaigns into this trope.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Most videogame characters are retroactively this, thanks to the magic of saving and loading, but Half-Life is one of the few that actively lampshades it.
    • Except if one has a Hopeless Boss Fight in it in which the trope won't be played. This happens a lot in RPG.
    • Toward the end of Persona 3, the characters discuss how they've never lost. Of course, since the game is Nintendo Hard, it's pretty much a guarantee that they aren't this trope to the player.
  • Chrono Trigger, or any other game with a New Game+ that lets you keep your levels and abilities and restart the game over... and over... and over...
    • Although this doesn't apply to all Hopeless Boss Fights; some will simply proceed as if you lost, but some will give you a new ending if you beat them.
  • Disgaea spoofs this as characters are well aware that this trope is one of the privileges of the Main Character/Hero and will try to steal the spot when they can. However, in the actual storylines, the main character usually has his ass completely handed to him by character a thousand levels higher at least once.
    • In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Mao wants to defeat the overlord. He's been studying tropes, so he figures his best bet is to become a hero, since heroes never lose.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: Welkin is never wrong about anything, ever (even if he's being loopy about it) , and because losing him constitutes a game over in every mission, he never retreats or dies. He's also usually in the Edelweiss, which is expensive to activate and has very limited movement, and so for many missions it's easier and more efficient to have him sit pretty in the tank and have your squad do the dirty work.
  • Ever use a Game Genie code for infinite lives, infinite health, or anything else that will ensure that the "Game Over" screen never appears? Nice for kids, but older players may prefer a little challenge and suspense.
    • A lot of games include God Mode cheat codes anyway nowadays, but they do things like disable the ability to get achievements or turn off scoring or only become available after beating the game normally or something similar. Sometimes this can be more fun than playing the game the way you're "supposed" to, especially in Sandbox-style games. (Crackdown is one that comes to mind. "God Mode" involves being invincible, opening up all weapons, being able to spawn any vehicle or enemy, etc, and is a hell of a lot of fun.)
  • Ike in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. He even tells the Final Boss before fighting her that in every battle he's been in, he always comes out on top. Of course, that's because you, the player have to make him win every battle, because otherwise, y'know...Game Over.
    • Now, since the option to winning a battle is losing a battle, and losing generally means death, it's natural that every soldier alive has won every battle they've been through. Unless they've retreated or been captured, but this never was an option for Ike. Note that other strategy games DO make games with a condition being 'survive until X amount of time, or 'retreat successfully', making the hero seem less invincible.
      • Of course, when it's possible to eliminate all of the enemies before the time runs out on a survival mission, it sort of defeats the purpose.
    • Then again, in both of his games, Ike is pretty much a Game Breaker.
  • Refer to the Game Breaker list. Some heroes that aren't invincible on their own can be made that way with some creativity.
  • Planescape: Torment inverts the trope with The Nameless One and his overarching goal - to find out how and why he became immortal. It also averts the trope by ending your adventure if you do things you can't regenerate from - like annoying a Medusa.
  • Grotesque Tactics - both the first and second game - is generally an RPG parody, and plays with tropes all the time, but nothing as much as Holy Avatar - he is the proverbial knight in shining armor, with cool shades and three maidens all fawning over him, and he has been everywhere, done everything. Adding to this trope is one of his special attacks, which is a one-hit-kill for weaker enemies, actually stating so in the description of the skill!
  • Some in the Touhou fandom depict Reimu Hakurei as this, an unstoppable force not unlike a Determinator but with much less motivation required. It's at least implied that Reimu should not die lest some nasty things happen; the main purpose of the spellcard system is to let anyone have a fair go at Reimu while ruling out the possibility of accidentally killing her. It doesn't help that her stated power - Fantasy Heaven - is specifically worded thus that she "becomes invincible" while using it, making her effectively unbeatable if the spell timeout phase were to be lifted.
  • In most of the Fallout games, by the time you reach endgame you are most definitely this. Practically nothing can hurt you and you have weapons that can level entire cities.
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. In the second human campaign mission, you build a base and train an army to kill the Blackrock Orc leader. Uther the Lightbringer helps defend your base from orcs that periodically attack it. Oh yeah, he also has a 45 second shield that he pops whenever somebody hits him. So the orcs start attacking your towers instead. Thanks, Uther.
    • There are rare cases where the orcs run away and Uther decides to chase them. An even rarer occurance is that he will chase the orcs all the way back to their base (which is separate from where the leader is) and will just start leveling everything in sight. You might think that he will die up there. Nope. Even with a battalion of orcs attacking him, his 45 second shield enables him to just bash their skulls in while the only thing they can do is run away.
      • Just in case you haven't played Warcraft III, his shield makes him invulnerable (meaning he can't be the target of attacks and/or spells).


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Rocky from Pokémon-X has fainted a grand total of twice, and this was so notable that it was actually pointed out when it happened that it was the first time it had ever happened. 596 pages into the comic. This also lead to Brendan's first ever defeat in the comic—but he's an Idiot Hero, so we tend to overlook his invincibility. (What's more, the second time Rocky fainted, Brendan technically tied.)
  • In the dozen plus years Sluggy Freelance has been around, there have only been a handful of characters who aren't horribly outclassed when facing Bun-Bun, and only three who have ever actually beaten him in one-on-one combat: Aylee's evil clone, Blacksoul (who is actually Bun-Bun from the future), and Oasis (who had to suddenly unveil pyrokinetic abilities to pull that off). Of course, Bun-Bun only barely qualifies as a hero.
    • An alternative view is that Bun-Bun works as a way to establish an enemy as 'top tier', and the rarity of beating him is so it keeps its credibility and doesn't suffer from The Worf Effect.
    • Fans are stil bored to death of him, though.
  • The Goblins B-comic Tempts Fate has the hero perform based on the amount of donations the readers send in. Needless to say, Tempts Fate wins every battle with extreme ease, and the readers can feel the accomplishment of having helped along this overwhelming victory.
  • Interestingly, for all of a God Mode Sue Author Avatar that he is, Comic!Chris of Sonichu subverts this greatly, mostly in his earlier stories. Most of his battles seem to have him on the ropes, end up rescued by someone else before he turns the tables on his opponents. He doesn't get into Invincible Hero territory until his last (published) issue, where he systematically destroys his opponents with ease.
  • Parodied in Basic Instructions with Rocket Hat; he dishes out constant effortless beat-downs of the Moon Men and their emperor, but when the reader can actually see him, he never moves or even speaks. Of course, the Emperor's fighting style has been described by his own loyal followers as "cringing" and he seems to be an example of Asskicking Equals Authority among them...


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Tennyo, in the Whateley Universe, was looking like this until she got curb-stomped in "Boston Brawl 2", this trope is slightly deconstructed: people who don't know her personally tend to find her terrifying, between her power and her temper its not unjustified.
    • And then she got hammered in "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy" and had a Heroic BSOD.
    • There has been discussion on the Whateley forum boards to the effect that Team Kimba as a whole may be turning into this, though; they're uncommonly powerful for a group of freshmen (and that power has only grown considerably since their introduction about a single in-universe semester ago with no sign of slowing down yet), have so far suffered only temporary setbacks at worst, and their adversaries keep underestimating them as a matter of course to the point where the suspension of disbelief starts to show stretch marks.
    • Notably, they survived their one real loss ('Birthday Brawl') entirely intact, with the entire purpose of the story being to replace the 'Cardboard Prison' and 'Offscreen Villain Dark Matter' tropes with onscreen events that serve the same narrative purpose.
  • Chuck Norris. His MUGEN incarnation has both infinite health and a plethora of one-hit kill moves, and any statement that this is the slightest bit cheap is met with cries of "BLASPHEMY!"
    • Until you find out that there are much deadlier characters than him, some of which have beaten him before. For instance, there's one that can defeat anything (including Chuck!) before the round even starts.
      • Ironically, said character is an incarnation of the abovementioned Reimu Hakurei.
  • Cracked.com's 3 Reasons It's So Hard to Make Superman Interesting spends a page deconstructing the boring invincible hero and then another reconstructing a hero faced with the Sadistic Choice of whom to save at any given moment.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Bugs Bunny may be the biggest manifestation of this trope in western animation. He has spent just about the whole of his career as a Karmic Trickster effortlessly outwitting and humiliating B-listers and icons alike in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies pantheon, such as Beaky Buzzard and Daffy Duck respectively. So untouchable is Bugs, that of the many adversaries he faced over the roughly 172 cartoons he originally starred in, the number of characters able to best the trickster rabbit can be counted on one hand; Elmer Fudd and Cecil Turtle being the most successful examples.
    • Yosemite Sam was actually created as a response to this trope; Elmer Fudd is many things, but intelligent is not one of them, and consequently, there were only so many ways Bugs could outsmart him before it got old. Sam was created with the intent of giving Bugs an adversary smart enough to give him trouble. Another explanation is they wanted character assholish enough to get the audience back on Bugs' side. Fudd was so hapless and Affably Evil that Bugs was starting to come across as an unheroic bully.
      • Or revert to it. Some of the very first early Bugs cartoons show him causing trouble for Elmer for no reason other than he feels like it. "Elmer's Candid Camera" is a classic example—Elmer isn't even "hunting wabbits", but Bugs still teases him mercilessly.
      • And when it turned out that Sam ended up being portrayed not that much more intelligent than Elmer, the soft-spoken, but incredibly technologically advanced and dangerous Marvin the Martian was created, who, more likely than not, fought Bugs to a tie (such as both being left hanging on a crescent of moon, a gag repeated in Marvin's better known Duck Dodgers' appearance.)
    • Perhaps to balance this, it is often Bugs' most pitiful foes that manage to score a victory over him, both Elmer Fudd (Rabbit Rampage, Hare Brush) and Daffy Duck (counting this obscure Tang endorsement from The Bugs Bunny Show, Looney Tunes: Back in Action and Cartoon Network's The Big Game from 2001) have got the upper hand over Bugs a couple occasions in a rather spectacular fashion.
    • It should be noted that writers were often careful to balance Bugs' victories with the odd Butt Monkey role (eg. Falling Hare, Rabbit Rampage, the Tortoise Beats Hare trilogy of shorts). It was made all the more apparent due to Bugs' inexperience to being on the losing end of an Escalating War and thus his carefree attitude tended to fade the moment he was on the receiving end of a gag rather than making one, Bugs could dish it out, but he sure couldn't take it.
    • Incidentally, one of Bugs' greatest defeats happened off-screen, in a cartoon he only cameoed in. In "Porky Pig's Feat", Daffy and Porky are trapped in a hotel room because they can't pay the bill. Hilarity Ensues. Finally, Porky suggests they call Bugs for advice. It turns out Bugs is locked in the next room over (he tried all the stuff they did).
  • Most Looney Tunes protagnists leaned into this trope, perhaps even more so Speedy Gonzales, whose Super Speed made him near untouchable by antagonists such as Sylvester (the odd occasion the cat actually placed the mouse in his mouth he often merely charged with enough power to rip (harmlessly) through his tail, suggesting it was actually physically impossible for Sylvester to eat Speedy).
    • On the other hand, Speedy was perhaps the one character to gain positive Character Development during the De Patie Freleng era, being placed in more incidental roles where he was occasionally shown to have more difficulty gaining a victory. Despite this however the short Mucho Locos seemingly counts as his sole true loss (ironically against Daffy Duck, who at that point was often viewed as Bugs' polar opposite.
    • Actually, Bugs lost more often than other Looney Tunes protagonists like Tweety or Speedy.
      • Somewhat justified in that Tweety and Speedy were more or less fighting for their lives all the time, whereas the occasions where Bugs lost were either him being a Jerkass or a situation that he had no control over. Tweety and Speedy never fought minor battles, so they never had minor losses.
      • The odd occasion Speedy lost was usually when he took his gloating a little too far, and an already defeated and harmless villain got a final laugh (eg. "Panchos Hideaway"). The one alternate is in "Mucho Locos" when Daffy (who for once isn't antagonising Speedy) hears him mocking him behind his back and mallets him on the head. Tweety's appearances however never went outside evading a hungry cat, thus he became the only protagonist to never lose (outside possibly the Road Runner).
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The show becomes somewhat better since the Planeteers are the main stars, but the Cap himself often feels more like some sort of Deus Ex Machina who can just fix anything. Some episodes have him immobilized by pollution (or hate), forcing the Planeteers to help him, but usually he's just called within the last five minutes to easily defeat the villain and magically repair whatever damage has been done.
    • Made slightly more interesting whenever he is forced to fight his evil twin, and gets his ass handed to him.
  • Oban Star-Racers averts this so much it can be considered an inversion: the Earth team seems to get by winning as few races as possible. At least one time their continuation verged on a match they weren't even in.
  • Lampshaded and mocked in Futurama when Fry writes a superhero comic;

Leela: If I could offer a little constructive criticism - there was never any real peril. Delivery Man has like 30 superpowers!
Fry: That's because he was bitten by a radioactive Superman!

  • The Silver Skeeter in Doug's comic book episodes: He's made of liquid metal (thus Nigh Invulnerable) and can fly through space on his skateboard, which is extremely overpowered compared with Quail Man's intellectual "powers of the Quail." Doug, frustrated that Skeeter's God Mode Sue is taking over his story, calls Skeeter out with this trope.
  • Skeleton Warriors's biggest failing was the complete invincibility of its antiheroes.
  • The 1967 Hanna-Barbera series Shazzan featured an all-powerful Genie as its title character; the writers professed difficulty with the series, because Shazzan was so powerful that they couldn't think up any difficulties for him to face.
  • Lampshaded in Batman the Animated Series when, after Batman returns from yet another seeming demise, the Joker shouts "Why won't he stay dead?"
  • Lampshaded—or should it be Mirrored Disco Balled? -- in Batman the Brave And The Bold with the Ear Worm "Drives Us Bats", in which the Music Meister—and eventually the entire DC Universe—expresses hilariously the frustrations of dealing with the omnipotent god-dammed Batman.
  • In Tom and Jerry or Road Runner cartoons the Designated Villain is always condemned to failure. It gets tiresome after a while and makes one want to go Rooting for the Empire.
    • Your sympathy is supposed to lie with Wile E. Coyote. The thing of it is, he could stop the pain at any time by not chasing the Roadrunner.
    • Tom occasionally got a victory over Jerry (especially in later shorts), often when the mouse started their Escalating War without provocation. Add to that as often as Jerry won, he was still vulnerable to Amusing Injuries, albeit not nearly as often as Tom.
  • Averted in the TV series version of Disney's |Hercules. After the movie became a hit, the mouse house decided to make a weekday afternoon toon based on it. Except that by the end of the film, Herc is incredibly powerful and has handily defeated nearly every major threat mythological ancient Greece had to offer. The solution was to make the tv show an Interquel taking place during Herc's high school years (a period skipped over entirely in the film) with Hercules always self-identifying as a "hero in training," and looking a tad scrawny compared to his adult self from the latter two-thirds of the movie.
  • A sort of in-universe example happens in one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, when Jimmy is actually banned from the school Science Fair because everyone is sick of him winning year after year.
  • Played for laughs in The Venture Brothers.
  • The Mask. He's invincible due to deliberate cartoon physics as a given superpower. His only weakness is that his mask can be removed, but even then he can fool his adversaries with trick mask removals.
  • Cartman tries to act like one on South Park, in the "Good Times With Weapons" episode. Every time the other kids give their ninjas a power, Cartman immediately jumps in and declares that he has a better version of the same power.
  • The Mucha Lucha episode "Doomien" has Rikochet and Buena Girl as a tag-team who always seems to win, to the point that no one is actually rooting for them in the tag-team matches.
  • The eponymous character of Kim Possible.
  • Mandy in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy claims that she "never loses." Over the course of the series, she seems to have backed up that claim pretty well. She's gone up against all sorts of cosmic horrors, and anything she couldn't take out on her own, she could with Billy's help. Every competition she enters, she takes the top spot. Several times, she becomes the Evil Overlord of the universe. It's no wonder she's a Deadpan Snarker—it's the only thing left that amuses her.
  • Phineas and Ferb has Captain Implausible, a superhero on a show within the show. The whole premise of his show is he's impossible to beat.
    • That about sums up Phineas and Ferb's whole situation. When you have to build your own super-intelligent AI and program it to trap you repeatedly in order to have a little fun, and then you defeat it effortlessly, well, it's difficult for us to ever feel afraid for you. (Accordingly, if there's any tension in Phineas and Ferb, it's nearly always emotional tension, such as Phineas being angry at Perry in The Movie.) Candace is in the opposite situation.
  • Felix the Cat is made of this trope. In the comics, he always had some Applied Phlebotinum (magic beans, magic carpet, magic potion, magical gnome servants, etc.) on hand when he needed it. The 50s series condensed all these items into his signature magic bag, which can literally turn into or produce anything. (It also served as a convenient MacGuffin to get the bad guys after him.)
  • The titular hero of Hanna-Barbera's Atom Ant (1965-1968). In one episode only it was revealed (and subsequently forgotten) that he could be involuntarily distracted by the presence of a picnic.
  1. With three times as many ships as the enemy armada, perfectly positioned to enfilade it as soon as it broke from cover.