Counter Attack

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
My Name is Miyazaki Nodoka, Treasure hunter and member of Ala Alba. My counterattack begins here!

The patient warrior who waits until their opponent commits to an attack will be rewarded with a good opportunity to smack the other guy, hard. This is the principle behind counter attacks in games and other types of fiction. Often, in exchange for the cost in tactical opportunities (and need for good timing), these attacks will be significantly more powerful than normal attacks or even One Hit Kills.

See also Action Commands and Cross Counter. Some counter attacks require the user to not care about surviving the attack being countered. However some attacks, like the Unblockable Attack, can't be countered, only evaded. May lead to Death or Glory Attack if used to (try and) stop a particularly strong move. May also result in Awesome but Impractical if the timing is too strict. Characters built around this may become Difficult but Awesome.

A necessary strategy for defeating any Tennis Boss.

Examples of Counter Attack include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi does this against Rakan, absorbing his attack then sending it back along with his own lightning spear in a convoluted yet awesome fight scene. Although it still wasn't enough to take the lunkhead down.
  • Sensui's entire close combat fighting style revolves around this, deflecting the enemy's punches and kicks with his arms, then while their guard is down, counters back with a kick. This fighting style allows him to completely demolish Yusuke, a physically much more powerful and very skilled fighter, effortlessly during their first encounter.
  • Rumiko Takahashi seems fond of giving these to her male protagonists. Inuyasha uses the devastating Backlash Wave technique which requires an attack of significant strength to be thrown at him first. Ranma's Hiryuu Shoten Ha technique goes a step farther than most techniques in fiction and requires a psychological component: to use this counter, Ranma must maintain a state of mind with no aggressive intent while his opponent or opponents must be attacking with aggressive intent. The Hiryuu Shoten Ha works on a yin and yang mechanic where two battle auras meet like bodies of cold and hot air to form a tornado. When properly employed the blast of energy can send multiple opponents at their full strength into lower Earth orbit.
  • Series thick with Sword Fights don't hesitate to use these frequently, although they are rarely named. Le Chevalier d'Eon is rife with ripostes, notably at the climax of D'Eon's first fight channelling Lia and Durand's first match with Tiellagory. Served Durand right for messing with Tiellagory's hat.
  • Vega Obscura, the pilot of the Berserk Fury in Zoids: New Century Zero, is shown to fight this way. When he gets knocked out while fighting Bit and the Liger Zero in the final episode, the Berserk Fury itself takes over and begins fighting more aggressively, leading to its eventual defeat.
  • Baki the Grappler has Kaku Kaioh who can absorb punch from the world's strongest man and send the power of that attack back.


  • One piece of Sky Masters tech introduced in the Dale Brown book Rogue Forces is a system that allows a plane to blow up incoming missiles with Frickin' Laser Beams, then attempt to fry the missile-launcher as well.
  • In the Star Wars Extended Universe, there is a lightsaber style called Soresu which revolves around waiting for an enemy to make a mistake...or simply get tired.
    • It should be mentioned that Obi-Wan Kenobi is a master of this lightsaber style, which made him the council's top choice for the mission to hunt down and defeat General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith.

Tabletop Games

  • Feng Shui's Path of the Healthy Tiger is built upon counterattacks. The second power on the list, Tiger Stance, activates when you take damage from a martial arts attack, and Unyielding Tiger Stance, the next one down, requires only that you get attacked with a martial arts attack, and in both cases allows you to make a free martial arts attack on the opponent out of sequence. Most characters who are serious about Tiger style take the full three-schtick Tiger package which includes both major powers.
  • Exalted has a whole slew of combat charms that grant one or more lightning-fast counterattacks. The stronger ones often combine the simple counterattack with a particularly nasty bonus effect.
  • Mage Knight, in its second iteration, had a Counterattack special ability, though it was activated by the initial attack missing. It was frequently paired with the Parry ability, which gave the defender a better chance of being missed by a melee attack (and thus triggering the Counterattack).
  • D&D 3.5 has the feast Karmic Strike and Robilar's Gambit, used to great effect in the famous "Jack B Quick" build, which hit back up to 6 times for every hit it received.
  • D&D Minis had a Riposte ability, which did allow the target to make a Counterattack prior to the initial attacker's attack. When two critters with Riposte were fighting each other... it got ugly. And confusing.
  • GURPS: Martial Arts telescopes most varieties of counterattack into a single difficult to pull off technique. There are also rules for trying a riposte or a stop hit .
  • Stars Without Number dynamic background system (essentially Turn-Based Strategy Lite) gives factions' Assets (whether military, intelligence or economical) both Attack and Counter values. When the attacking asset doesn't win the opposing roll, Counterattack damage rolled by the defender applies; thus a tie allows both to wreck each other simultaneously. Counterattack isn't triggered by other actions, even with opposing rolls. It's sometimes tweaked by Asset's special features and may work differently with other properties.
    • E.g. Force assets include most Military Unit and Starship type assets, with attack and weaker counter. Some have attack, but no counter: Guerrilla Populace (Military Unit), Hitmen and Psychic Assassins (Special Forces) and Blockade Fleet (Starship, special feature: plunder on a successful attack). No attack, but counter: Hardened Personnel (Special Forces) — just like a Militia Unit, but without attack and doesn't need a special permission from local government, Planetary Defenses (Facility, special feature: defending only against attacks by Starship type) — with Hit Points and counterattack damage second only to Capital Fleet (the single most expensive Force asset), Integral Protocols (Facility, special feature: defending only against attacks versus Cunning, but with bonus) — a surveillance/authentication net only uncovers active subterfuge. No attack, no counterattack: Heavy Drop Assets, Beachhead Landers, Extended Theater and Deep Strike Landers (Facility, special features: moving themselves and other assets).
    • Mandate Archive: Martial Arts has "Tempter’s Hand" style allowing a defensive stance that gives attackers a penalty, and when they miss allows the martial artist a free counterattack.

Video Games

  • Fable II has these as a buyable ability although the timing can be tricky.
  • Found in too many fighting games to count. Many fighting games will have 'Counter' appear if you land your attack while the opponent is attempting their own. Some even give boosts.
    • A lot of fighting games feature an ability that lends itself to swift counterattacks—parrying. In the ones that have it, you typically parry an attack by either pressing a button or pressing the joystick forward the exact moment the attack would hit you, and you'll negate the damage. Projectile-based super attacks and other multi-hit moves may have to be parried multiple times in a row, as showcased by insanely-skilled Street Fighter 3 player Daigo Umehara in his Crowning Moment of Awesome against Justin Wong at EVO 2004.
    • Carefully timed dodges, blocks, counters, and reversals are the core of Lugaru's one-button fighting system.
  • Bloodline Champions has a multitude of abilities that do this.
  • Immaterial and Missing Power gives a knockback boost which can lead to (stronger) wallslams and (stronger) groundslams, a lot of juggle points, and the inability to tech when a counter on anything stronger than a poke lands. This allows for some massive aerial combo strings if you're good enough. The sequel, on the other hand, had counters launch the opponent 50 feet in the appropriate direction.
    • In addition, Sakuya has an attack that automatically counters melee attacks, but leaves her vulnerable to projectiles, Iku has an attack that reflects projectiles, and Youmu has both.
    • In the main games, deathbombing/Final Spells can be seen as this.
  • The Pokémon series is replete with examples:
    • The moves "Counter" and "Mirror Coat" return twice the damage incurred from physical or special attacks, respectively. "Metal Burst" can counter either type of attack (but with a 50% increase in power), and "Bide" makes the user to wait two turns before countering all the damage received during that time.
    • "Endeavor" reduces the opponent to the same HP as the user, while "Destiny Bond" causes the opponent to faint if the user was KO during the same turn.
    • Wynaut and Wobbuffet are built entirely around counterattacks, their repertiores consisting of the aforementioned Counter, Mirror Coat, and Destiny Bond.
    • The move "Sucker Punch" is unusual in that it hits hard and strikes first, but only if the opponent was readying a damage-dealing attack on the same turn. Likewise, the move "Me First" can mimic the opponent's move with stronger power, but only when the user is fast enough to act first.
    • Two moves, Revenge and Avalanche are moves that double in power if the user takes damage first. The move Payback is actually an aversion rather then an inversion: it doubles in power if the opponent moves first, regardless of whether damage was dealt.
    • Inverted by the move Focus Punch, which is a powerful move but always goes last and fails if countered (i.e. the user gets hit on the same turn).
  • Also common in the recent Zelda games. In addition to frequent use of the sword or shield to reflect enemy projectile attacks, The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess have melee counters. The "Mortal Draw" in Twilight Princess is especially risky as Link must have his sword and shield put away to use it, though it's still worth using despite that.
    • Many tough enemies are almost impossible to harm when they aren't trying to hit you, as well. Especially Darknuts.
    • The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword outright added a parrying ability, used by shaking the nunchuck for Link to thrust his shield forward. Learning to parry attacks is worth it, since timing it right can stun enemies or knock their projectiles right back at them, and it doesn't wear down your shield's durability.
      • Mastering the Shield Bash's parrying ability is also just about the ONLY way to survive the final boss fight's first stage without a ton of healing and damage reduction potions; just attacking outright will take him down eventually, but you'll lose nearly all your hearts to his counter attacks in the process, while LINK's counter attack strategy can prevent the boss from ever regaining the initiative until he gets serious for the second stage.
  • Assassin's Creed uses counterattacks to make up most of its fencing system. Altaïr only shoves away foes when countering a grapple, but countering foes' weapon strikes are instantly fatal. This is the best way to depopulate the city guards of the Holy Land given the kindness of the guardsmen in generously waiting their turns to attack you one at a time.
    • There are times when countering with either sword only knocks an opponent back unless it's followed up by another button press at the correct moment. The Hidden Blade will always be fatal on the counter attack, though. As for waiting for the guards... the more skilled professional soldiers will gladly let you sit back—and then guard break your weapon and beat the hell out of you.
    • In II, the tougher enemies (correlating to how much armor they wear) have a different animation when a counterattack isn't lethal and can even counterattack you (albeit without damage), but counters remain the best technique to kill everything. The Brutes (wielding axes or bastard swords) and Seekers (wielding polearms) cannot be countered by the longsword/mace/hammer (shared weapon slot) or the short blade, but can be countered by said axes, bastard swords, polearms, the Hidden Blade, or disarmed (as a well-timed "counter attack" with your Fists) when using your hands—at which point you can kill them with their own weapon, or just time your side step/dodge and you're be instantly behind your enemy, at which point any weapon is lethal.
    • Brotherhood is supposed to encourage taking the initiative and attacking first, as the developers felt that the effectiveness of counter kills led to time-consuming encounters due to this encouraging defensive play especially since you could now block with the Hidden Blade equipped. Part of the changes to the combat system is Executions, which allow Ezio to chain One Hit Kills after killing an enemy normally. In practice, a counter is still a perfectly legitimate means of getting that first kill. Also, aggressive countering - staying on the attack and tapping the block button to counter the wiseguy trying to interfere - as opposed to defensive countering - holding the block and waiting for enemies to strike - is now the way to go.
  • Connor, the protagonist of Assassin's Creed III can counter two attacks at the same time, a la Batman: Arkham City.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time uses this heavily. Beware, however, since some sand creatures are capable of countering the Prince's counter. Luckily, the Prince can counter the counter of his counter, which can itsef be countered, and so on and so forth. Successfully countering a sand creature knocks them down and leaves them open to be Retrieved.
    • Also used in the sequels Warrior Within and The Two Thrones. The effects of successfully countering an opponent change because of the Free Form Fighting system, but they will always give the Prince an advantage.
    • Timing a block correctly in the 2008 Prince of Persia leaves an enemy open to attack.
    • The most common tactic in the original Prince of Persia games is to wait for the opponent to attack, then defend and counter the attack. One of the enemies actually utilizes this tactic himself, and will not attack until the prince attacks him first.
  • In Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slicked Precipe Of Darkness, Episode 1, Counter Attacks results when you get 'perfect timing' on a block-trigger. Completely nullifies damage, and hits the opponent with a basic attack instead. In the X360 version, there's even an achievement for winning a battle using nothing but counter-attacks.
  • In Achaea, the Monk-class has access to the mother of all counters. Once you activate it, the next person to hit you is insta-killed, with a very nice description that involves hovering, Glowing Eyes of Doom, and Eye Beams.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, if you set the EX skills for Collette in a certain way, she can sometimes counter hits by flinging a toy hammer into the air (which can lead to a nice side effect if lucky).
    • Estelle from Tales of Vesperia can learn the same hammer flinging counter. Rita from the same game has an ability that allows her to instantly fire off a basic magic spell while she's flinching from being struck. Hilarity Ensues if she becomes the victim of a weak multi-hitting attack.
  • In Super Smash Bros., multiple characters have moves of this nature.
    • In Melee, Peach, Marth, and Roy have moves of this nature, though the last of the three is most noteworthy, due to his counter's strength being based on how much damage the countered move would've caused.
    • Brawl replaces Roy with Ike, whose counter functions in the same fashion. Marth's counter was upgraded to function similarly, but isn't as strong, due it triggering faster. It also adds Lucario, whose Double Team counter can become an extremely powerful KO move if he's at a high damage percentage, but is less reliable due to its physics.
  • Also common in console RPGs. Chrono Trigger had two accessories, the RageBand and the FuryBand, that would give the equipped characters a 50% and 70% chance to counter any attack that targeted them, and the DS Updated Rerelease adds a few more. In this case, to 'counter' meant to slap the foe with a normal attack after they had already damaged you. Fortunately, the game had a broad definition of 'attacks' in this context; the final boss would ocassionally change the Amazing Technicolor Background, and while this did no damage, it could still provoke attacks from characters equipped with these items. Apparently, wearing these headands made people very critical of others' tastes in interior decorating.
    • They also let you counter other non-attack moves, such as the Black Tyranno's roars during its countdown. Apparently, these headbands also cause loud noises to enrage the wearer.
      • Its roar did damage, just in single digit range.
  • Final Fantasy and its many derivatives often use this trope, usually with the Monk class if there is one:
    • The Monk class in Final Fantasy III's DS version has the "Retaliate" ability which causes the monk to counterattack with double his normal attack damage every time he is hit with a physical attack that turn.
    • The DS remake of Final Fantasy IV has items that teach abilities with one being a counter ability.
    • The Monk job in Final Fantasy V comes with a Counter ability, which gives a (fairly high) random chance for the character to respond to any physical attack that hits them with one of their own. Giving this ability to characters in other jobs (or in the Bare or Mimic jobs, each of which automatically give the character all non-command abilities from classes they have mastered) allows this ability to be effectively combined with other useful combat abilities, such as 2-Swords.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, Cyan's second SwordTech ability, Retort, causes him to respond to the next physical attack with one of his own. This ability is the final trigger for the Psycho Cyan glitch., the short version of it being that it causes Cyan to consider his own counter attacks as an attack from the enemy, leading to an endless loop that won't end until every enemy is dead.
      • Retort actually responds to any physical attacks between when it's activated and when Cyan's ATB bar fills up again, allowing him to counter multiple moves if he's attacked more than once. Considering the fact that Cyan is the Mighty Glacier, this can be an effective way of getting him to hit powerfully multiple times in a single turn if the enemy keeps attacking him.
      • Shadow also randomly blocks certain physical attacks and counters with his dog Interceptor.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, certain materia, when equipped, enable counter-attacks. The Counter Attack materia does as it says: every time the character is struck with a physical attack, s/he has a 10%-50% chance (depending on the level of the materia) to hit the attacker right back with a physical attack. If the enemy's physical attack is part of a multi-hit combo, s/he can potentially counter each blow. Additionally, multiple Counter Attack materia can be equipped onto a single character, allowing him/her to counter every physical blow multiple times.

There was also Counter materia you could link to another materia, so you'd counter with a specific spell or command. If used right, multiple pairs of Counter Command + Mime can have you counter attack with a Limit Break equal to how many pairs you have equipped! Even up to 8 OmniSlashes can be done in a single turn this way. Though the materias in question are one of a kind and you need a lot of Level Grinding to get multiple copies of them.

    • Final Fantasy X lets characters equip weapons with various perks, including Counter (which triggers when hit with physical attacks), Evade&Counter (which triggers upon dodging physical attacks, AND increases the character's evasion rate), and Magic Counter (which triggers when hit with magic attacks, but the character counters with a physical attack).
    • The Monk class in Final Fantasy XI has a Counter trait, which cancels an enemy attack and has you use an attack of your own. There's even an ability that boosts this counter rate, but it also removes most of your defense, so most of the time using the ability is paramount to suicide. Warriors also have a countering move, but it requires them to actually take damage before hitting back.
    • The first bosses of IV (Mist Dragon), V (Wing Raptor), VI (Whelk) and VII (Guard Scorpion). They have two phases, one of which is a defensive state that will counter with a strong attack if you hit them.
    • Sentinels in Final Fantasy XIII have the abilities Vendetta (endure damage for a set amount of time and deliver a powerful counter afterwards), Entrench (similar, but trades a weaker counterattack for being in guard state the whole time) and can learn a passive ability which lets them auto-counter after dodging at an attack. In fact, counters are their only method of dealing damage at all.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics has a number of counter-attacks, one of the most useful being Hamedo. A guy goes to hit you, and you hit him first...hard. (Sometimes enough to kill him. You can actually survive a surprise attack while at near-death by virtue of the fact that he never actually landed his blow before you countered). Unfortunately it only works against humans and even then only physical attacks, making it of dubious usefulness at best.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also has several variations: Counter, which works against all physical attacks whether they hit or not; Bonecrusher (commonly considered the most useful), which deals 50% more damage than Counter but requires that the attack hits and Strike Back which lets you evade and counter but only against basic attacks. There is also a version for spells too (called "return magic") which hits the enemy with the spell they just used on you, but only if you have the mana. And against enemies like the flans which are healed by the element they use, this can backfire badly.
    • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, Exdeath's move set is built around countering and blocking. Firion also has the "Shield Bash" attack, which lets him counter attacks with deadly combos.
  • Super Robot Wars has a Counter skill, but it works differently, seeing as the defender makes an attack anyways (as long as it can). This variation makes the unit that Counters go first.
    • In Super Robot Wars in general, every attack done leave the attacker open for a counterattack. In fact, sending a powerful robot alone among an army of weak mooks will allow you to defeat them much faster that if you attacked them one by one. On the other hand, when facing more powerful foes, you will start to realise that if you don't finish your opponent, it would be wise to outrange them, be able to avoid their counter attack or repair the damage afterward.
  • Live a Live has Loads And Loads Of Counters, both on the Player Character and enemy side. Cube, the robot, even has a counter that heals itself and nearby allies.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots introduces this for the first time in the series, letting Snake return fire if he gets knocked onto his back. There's something very satisfying about reclining comfortably while blowing messy holes in the person that put you in that position to begin with.
  • Sonja in Advance Wars somewhat specializes in counterattacks (which are automatic for all units in the game anyway, but the first strike is generally stronger as the counterattacking unit will take losses first). However, Sonja's units during her super power gain the ability to strike first on defense, and even gain a boost.
  • Some abilities in World of Warcraft work as counters, although most of them require the caster to block, dodge or parry the attack first. The Parry mechanic also works like this. It prevents the attack from hitting, and causes the person who parried make their next attack faster, in a clear representation of a parry-riposte.
  • The Mark of Kri had a counter move that only worked with your sword sheathed and caused Rau to kill the enemy with their own weapon.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the Superguard, an Action Command which negates all damage from an attack and damages the attacker for 1HP. It can also deflect some projectiles.
  • In the Heroes of Might and Magic series counter-attacks are usually treated as normal attacks and deal the same damage. However some spells specifically increase the counter-attack damage, making it more potent than the regular attack as long as the spell is active.
    • Some units also have special abilities for counterattacks. Griffins especially have a history of being able to counterattack multiple times and may be given abilities like dealing more and more damage with each counterattack within the same turn.
  • In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Bazett's Noble Phantasm, Fragarach, is considered "the ultimate counter-attack", and instantly kills any opponent who tries to use their Noble Phantasm against her. Using it as anything but a counter-attack however, makes it little more than an irritation.
  • The Onimusha series lives by this trope. Central to the combat system is the 'Issen' technique, which requires the player to hit the attack button at the precise instant before an enemy attack would connect with you, thus resulting on a one-hit kill of the opponent. When pulled off correctly, it was possible to wipe out an entire room of enemies in under 2 seconds. However Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams simplifies it so that a simple strike from the magic attack button can start off an Issen chain (though doing it the classic way nets you more souls).
  • While the Royal Guard style from Devil May Cry 3 and 4 does not need perfect timing to use normally, blocking or releasing at the moment the enemy attack hits completely nullifies the damage and, in the latter case, dramatically boosts the damage dealt. This is one of the ways of pulling off the really difficult No Damage Run and killing the hardest-difficulty bosses much faster.
    • By extension, Bayonetta also permits you to counter enemy attacks once you have the Moon of Malaa-Kalaa accessory. If you just tap the left stick towards an attack before it hits you, Bayonetta will parry it and negate the damage. The timing with this isn't very strict, since you can rapidly tap towards an attack and still parry it, but if your timing is exactly right, she'll automatically counterattack after parrying. This is the only way to get Witch Time when fighting some enemies, and it's just as difficult to time correctly as using Bat Within (pressing the dodge button the exact moment you get hit to negate the damage).
  • Happens automatically for certain classes in Disgaea. Some classes can perform a counter-counter, and some can counter that, and so on. This can go on for minutes at a time.
    • In the second game, Fist weapons add on 2 extra counters and have a higher counter chance, and the Item World can add extra counters to a weapon. The Nekomata class dealt more damage when they countered, and in the third game could counter specials. There are also Geo Blocks that give extra counters.
    • Gets cranked Up to Eleven in the fourth game. There is a Geo Effect called Forever Counter. Guess what it does.
  • All physical attacks in Jeanne D'Arc are automatically countered, provided the attacker is in weapon range of the original target. The only exception is with the Archer class, which can't counter anything at all.
    • Additionally, there are the Skill Stones Counter and Counter II, which enable the target to preempt the foe's attack and cancel it with one of their own (as long as they're both within weapons' range, again). Attacking a character equipped with Counter II, even with special techniques, is usually an exercise in futility.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3, delivering a finishing blow using a Battle Chip properly timed to be a counterattack sounded a chime and awarded Bugfrags (a second and much more valuable form of currency) if you went on to win the battle. If the chip can hit multiple enemies, multiple Counter Hits on multiple enemies stack.
    • In 4, this was changed to be more intuitive—any properly timed chip counterattack can award a Counter Hit regardless of whether or not it was the finishing blow, but chips which darken the screen are not eligible. The reward was also changed; a Counter Hit briefly paralyzes the enemy or enemies, makes your next chip attack do double damage (which is a lot more valuable than doubling the attack that scored the Counter Hit itself, since the attacks you want doubled are often hard to counter with or not even eligible), and bosses don't get the usual Mercy Invincibility after a Counter Hit. However, the double damage doesn't stack with multiple Counter Hits on multiple enemies, and you lose it if you get hit before your next chip attack, plus Bugfrags became Random Drops and therefore harder to obtain.
  • The counters in Dead or Alive 4. It's amazing how much damage some characters can do with them.
    • Really, the whole series. Counter attacks are probably one of the most notable aspects of the series...besides that other feature.
  • Much like the Jeanne D'Arc example above, Fire Emblem has automatic counterattacks as long as the attacked unit has a weapon with the proper range. Most of the damage you deal will probably be from counterattacks.
  • Yagyu Jubei as depicted in the Samurai Shodown games. Starting from the second game onward becomes especially dangerous with the Yagyu Shingan-to, a powerful Counter Attack maneuver where he parries and traps an opponent's weapon with his wakizashi, leaving the target open to an immediate strike from his katana.
  • The original Kingdom Hearts had a move literally called counter attack. It was only usable in the quarter of a second immediately after blocking an enemy attack.
    • The second also had "Counterguard," which was more forgiving in its timing. Was also technically usable without the Guard ability (attacking at the right moment can yield the same effect), just much more unreliable/risky.
  • The key to victory in Punch-Out!! is to dodge and counterattack. In early fights, the enemies tend to hang open for quite some time; the window rapidly closes as the game goes on. In addition, launching your own attack successfully just before the opponent does theirs deals extra damage and grants you a Star.
  • The Witch in Left 4 Dead will only attack if you attack first. Protip: Do not attack her.
    • Well, if you attack her, or annoy her, or fart in her general direction...
  • Guarding in the right way into an enemy's attack in Soul Calibur will Guard Break them, knocking them off balance. They can recover in time to guard break your own attack. There are also several more direct counters, when the attack is blocked and prompts a very quick attack in response. The most dramatic may be in Soul Calibur 3, when the Katana and Shuriken style counters by blocking and then hitting their opponent in the face with a giant fiery shuriken.
    • Soul Calibur 4's custom abilities meant you could increase the potency of this strategy; with a combination of high level Auto-Impact combined with Impact Edge and Impact Heal, the "offensive counter" strategy mentioned above works quite effectively; so equipped, the character can rush in and do their offensive moves, but with good timing they will do even MORE damage and regain health every time they parry an enemy's attempt to fight back. In the hands of a player who's really good at Guard Impacts, this can turn nearly any fight with special abilities enabled into a Curb Stomp Battle.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum's combat system is based upon Attack and Counter-Attack, rather than the more traditional Fast and Strong attack buttons. Some of Batman's counters are wince worthy, like grabbing a thug's leg in mid kick, then giving them a kick of your own straight to the groin.
  • Hakumen from BlazBlue has several moves of this sort. His standard Drive has him retaliate with various kinds of throws, Yukikaze is a Single-Stroke Battle, while Akumetsu pays awesomely transparent Homage to Shun Goku Satsu.
    • Makoto Nanaya's Space-Counter is a command parry rather than a drive like Hakumen's. Successful use will daze the opponent, leaving them open to a direct Impact reprisal that blows through them and sends them spinning skyward. An Extend Nerf prevents this from being used too rapidly in succession.
    • Bang Shishigami's drive, Burning Heart, also functions as a counter attack by absorbing hits and striking back with a fiery punch. Unlike Hakumen and Makoto, Bang doesn't need to counter to use the attack.
  • The Dark Step is a manuever in No More Heroes that's triggered by dodging just as you block an attack. The background goes black, and Travis can launch a series of hits on the enemy without retribution.
  • With the right timing, Kratos could counterattack in the God of War games. The first required a certain level of the Blades of Chaos, while the second required the Golden Fleece to be obtained. The ability to counter is given to you from the beginning since Kratos keeps the Golden Fleece from the last game.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Pyro can essencially do this by reflecting projectiles with the airblasts produced by his default flamethrower. This can be particularly devastating against a critbuffed Soldier, but also works on Demomen, Snipers with the Huntsman, another Pyro's flaregun and even sentry rockets, but it's harder to pull off.
  • Zafira's Iron Wall Stance in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Battle of Aces, which allows him to block long-ranged attacks and immdiately counter with one of his own. In addition, all characters have a generic counter attack when fighting in melee range.
  • In Breath of Fire II, Ryu is capable of countering attacks.
    • Breath of Fire III has the reprisal attack which your party and the enemies are capable of doing. Peco has the highest reprisal rate and can be used as a front line tank since he has the highest HP growth.
  • In Fire Emblem, if a melee unit attacks another melee unit or a ranged unit attacks another ranged unit, the defending character will counterattack. If the defending unit's speed is high enough, it will attack twice. If the attacking unit's speed is high enough, thenit will counterattack after the defending unit does.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei franchise often provides skills of this nature, even outside the natural "Reflect" abilities that demons/Personas can be imbued with. They usually have names such as "Counter" (low chance,) "Counterstrike "(medium chance,) and "High Counter" (high chance.) When these skills activate, the targeted character receives zero damage and the attacker is hit back with damage greater than what would have been inflicted, which makes them essential against physical powerhouses with high defenses.
  • Half the moveset of Ryuhaku Todoh and Geese Howard revolve around this. "PUREDIKUTABU!"
    • Also Ryuhaku's heiress and daughter Kasumi. Makes sense since they both practice Aikido, a martial art based heavily on redirecting the attacks that you receive.
  • Guild Wars has the skills riposte and deadly riposte which automatically counter any attack used against the character.
  • Mabinogi has the Counterattack skill, which takes an incoming melee attack and sends part of it[1] right back, with the defender's attack added to it. Extremely useful against certain bosses.
    • And in the prequel, Vindictus, it is a key skill for Fiona, requiring a smash immediately after guarding against a non-smash attack to deliver a vicious attack against the enemy that attacked her (as well as everything else within range!). The skill eats shields for breakfast, though, meaning that a good Campfire skill (which regenerates the quality of your armor and shield after sitting at it) is essential for her.
  • Deus Ex had a nano aug that would cause explosive munitions to detonate prematurely within a certain range of the aug's user. Leveled up high enough, it can even make missiles blow up inside the launcher when fired.
  • Golden Sun has the djinni Reflux, which when used will attach to a chosen party member and counter every attack inflicted onto that character during the turn.
  • Dragon Quest IX gives you the shield ability Back Atcha, which protects against normal attacks and counters with an attack of your own. Available to both ally and foe (the shield using ones), your counter may not always hit the attacker if there are more than one opponents (rather, it'll hit one of them at random).
    • The Warrior's Workbook item acquired through a sidequest grants a counter-attack ability to the Warrior class when they're holding the item.
  • In SaGa 2 / Final Fantasy Legend II, using the "Counter" and "Revenge Sword" items ("Cross Counter" and "Grudge Sword" in Japanese) would allow the character using it to immediately attack any enemy that attacked him/her/it during the turn. Several monsters also have specialized counter abilities.
  • Though the timing is precise to the point where even if you time it right it may just fail outright anyway (if you're lucky it will consider it a block if you're using a shield) it's possible to pull off a counter attack in Demon's Souls by parrying an incoming weapon strike with a small shield, certain weapons, or even your own empty hand, if you immediately press the attack button afterwards your character will dish out a brutal riposte, the style of which are the most damaging physical attacks possible in the game. Even more damaging than sneak-attack backstabs. Gets ridiculous when you learn the timing to parry the BFS wielding Golden Skeletons with nothing but your open hand...
  • Parry & Riposting returns in Dark Souls, but with a slightly more forgiving timing window.
  • At least one WWE video game had a feature where, if you were able to counter the Stone Cold Stunner, had a special icon available, and had the ankelock as a Finishing Move, your character would grab the opponent's foot and drive him to the ground for the anklelock, in homage to how Kurt Angle defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin at Unforgiven 2001.
  • In Dragon Age II, the shieldmaiden Aveline's unique ability Retaliation allows her to instantly counter every melee attack aimed at her for a short time.
  • Some of the Ultra moves in Street Fighter IV must be pulled out when your chara is attacked by their opponent, otherwise they won't work. (If they're blocked, also, you'll be open for a counterattack.) When they conntect, however? Total beatdown. The most obvious examples are Fei Long's Gekirinken and Cammy's Cammy Quick Combination.
  • Kinnikuman: Muscle Fight
    • Jesse Maivia specializes in counter attacks. Many of these use super meter, though. As a result, Jesse Maivia has the largest super meter[2] in game.
    • To show off how the game pays attention to the small details, the game even includes counters to certain moves. In fact, the Kinniku Buster and its copies has the most counters in this game.
    • The Ninja and Brocken Jr. have the Jungyaku Jizai no Jutsu. It lets them counter techniques by switching places with their foes.
  • Desire Dungeon has the Counter skill, which causes you to negate the enemy's next melee attack and respond with your own.

Web Comics

  • The Twin Rose Style in Flipside solely consists of counter attacks. This is parodied in an omake, where, when faced with an opponent who won't attack (flipside) she's reduced to hurling random objects instead.

Real Life

  • Epee fencing. The best times to attack are either right as an opponent lowers their guard to attack or right after a successful parry. The lack of pesky right-of-way rules helps too.
    • Ripostes are useful in foil fencing too, you know. A successful parry cancels the attacker's right-of-way.
    • Parry-riposte-parry-riposte-parry-riposte... continue until someone screws up or gets bored.
  • Played with in medieval European swordsmanship. Many of the most effective defensive movements are designed to simultaneously strike your opponent in the face or groin.
  • "Soft/internal" martial arts fall under this category, with Tai Chi being the poster boy for this in most kung fu flicks. Aikido counts as well. A saying among kung fu sigungs goes, "The first one to strike wins the fight. The first one to commit to a strike loses the fight."
  • The whole point of counter-battery fire. Heavy artillery and rocket positions are somewhat risky to use near the frontline as their trajectory (or in the case of rockets the smoke trail) can be followed back to the source which is then shot to hell with More Dakka.
    • Sniper hunting in WWII usually took the form of this: put something tempting (like a scarecrow dressed in an officer's uniform, as the Finland Winter War demonstrated) to a place where the sniper sees it and hope he takes a shot at it. Once he's revealed his position, you have several options available: artillery, anti-material rifles... bad thing is, snipers have caught up with it pretty quickly and nowadays they never take two shots from the same position.
    • The Vietnam war was the first conflict that saw widespread use of the Wild Weasel. Basically, bait the enemy into firing a SAM at you then haul ass while the others bomb it. Even better, first-generation Wild Weasels only had unguided bombs and no radar-detecting gear, needing them to either wait for the SAM to fire and follow the smoke trail or find the SAM with their eyes.
  1. The exact percentage of the attack that gets returned depends on the defender's Counterattack skill rank.
  2. He has 9 super meters, while Akuma Shogun, Kinnikuman Super Phoenix, Strong the Budo, and Neptune King only have 5 super meters.