Heroic RROD

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

When a hero has pushed him/herself too hard physically and abruptly starts a physical breakdown. That one of these is coming may or may not be clear in advance, but when it starts, it will hit all at once.

Causes vary. It could simply be the hero wearing him/herself out after a good case of Heroic Resolve—or Bottled Heroic Resolve—or it could be the consequence of using a Dangerous Forbidden Technique. Some works even directly support this via Cast from Hit Points. Often caused by Phlebotinum Overload or Deadly Upgrades, especially if the hero is a Flawed Prototype. It might be represented with burning Tron Lines, Tainted Veins, Volcanic Veins or actually turning red. If it's done on purpose, it may be a Heroic Sacrifice, but it is at least as likely to be accidental.

Injuries sustained during Heroic RRODs should range between serious and fatal if left untreated (although rarely crippling), possibly leading to a case of You Are Already Dead. Also a common cause of You Can Barely Stand. This is the Heroic Red Ring Of Death.

Named after a warning signal on Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles.[1]

A Sister Trope to Power Strain Blackout (when the cause is not as serious).

Compare Heroic BSOD (the mental and emotional counterpart), Power Degeneration, Post Dramatic Stress Disorder, Explosive Overclocking (the Phlebotinum version), Powerup Full-Color Change (often used as visual and literal indicator).

Contrast Superpower Meltdown, which is equivalent to a failing Xbox 360 setting a house on fire. Normal Heroic RRODs only directly affect the person having them.

Not to be confused with Rings of Death.

Examples of Heroic RROD include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Armitage III: Dual-Matrix, Armitage has a Super Mode, complete with a glowing red circle on her back, that would have killed her if she used it too much. Her daughter managed to stop her with the movie's Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • The Prince of Tennis likes this one a lot—the main character never suffers from it, but Tezuka does, and there's at least one minor character with a super special tennis move that will mess him up if he uses it too often. Then there's the character who winds up in the hospital for reasons unrelated to tennis, but even he works himself to the point of collapse on the courts before admitting (or finding out?) that there's anything wrong with him.
  • Happened to Nanoha of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, between the second and third series. The teachers in StrikerS spend quite a bit of energy convincing the kids that no, consistently overdoing it is not good for you.
  • Rolo Lamperouge in Code Geass R2 overuses his Geass to escape/fight off a veritable army of pursuers, causing so much strain on his heart that he dies soon after. He knew exactly what he was getting into, and it's considered by some to be his Crowning Moment of Awesome and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming... which is all the more impressive considering he previously crossed the Moral Event Horizon by casually murdering his own allies for knowing too much.
  • Souma Oogami in Kannazuki no Miko repeatedly uses his Orochi-induced power against Orochi and it eventually petrifies him.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has this happen to Asuka, at the worst possible moment.
    • The fact that it happens during a Crowning Moment of Awesome makes it even worse.
    • It also happens to Rei.
    • Usually, achieving a higher plug depth results in a higher sync ratio but more risk of mental contamination/absorption (Shinji goes over 280 depth/400% synch during the Zeruel battle). When Mari uses Beast Mode, it undoes her Eva's restraints, causing her plug depth to go into the negative. And she actually survives it!!
  • Chrono Crusade - Given that the mostly normal main characters are fighting against high-caliber demons, they battle to exhaustion almost every time.
    • There's a specific example in the manga, where Rosette decides to release Chrono's seal (which eats away at her life force) and fight her brother at the same time. The stress of it is so great that her soul disconnects from her body and she dies. She gets better, though.
  • This is what seemed to have happened to Angelica in Gunslinger Girl, until the second season set the record straight.
    • Or just retconned it away, depending on how you look at things.
  • Lumiere goes through this late in Kiddy Grade but gets better.
  • Chise from Saikano literally falls apart for the entire series duration.
  • Kouta almost suffers an RROD in the final episode of Stellvia of the Universe but the doctors manage to quick-fix him.
  • The Chakra Gates in Naruto have this trope as the consequence of pushing the body beyond limits. How much the body can actually take depends on the user, but opening all 8 gates will absolutely bring death. Happened otherwise in the show, too.
    • For bonus points, opening the third gate actually turns the user red.
    • So do the higher stages of Naruto's Kyuubi form, which gives him third degree burns all over his body while at the same time regenerating the wounds fast enough to shorten his lifespan. He really should get some cream for that. Full 9-tails form would mean that he dies, and Kyuubi is released. Some other demon hosts have been shown not to have this problem, but they had managed to befriend their sealed demons. Given Naruto's track record, many fans expect him to replicate this feat, even though Kyuubi is said to be the most malevolent of the demons. In fact, in one chapter Naruto tells the Kyuubi he plans to do exactly that.
    • Anyone who tried to use Chouji's colored food pills (or Chouji himself, if he didn't fuel up first) would end up looking like a victim of the Wraith.
    • Naruto developed the Wind Release/Wind Style: Rasenshuriken, an upgrade to the Rasengan that is vastly more powerful, but does cellular damage to his hand. Tsunade forbids him from using it, but eventually he fixes the problem by throwing it, so that only his enemy is hit.
    • Kakashi is made of this trope. At one point other characters are actually shocked when Kakashi doesn't have to go to the hospital after a fight..
    • The Mangekyo Sharingan makes the user go blind eventually.
  • Near the end of Tekkaman Blade, D-Boy uses the Blaster Mode so often that his mind gets completely screwed up. So much so, that he starts forgetting everything, ultimately ending with him forgetting everything else except his hatred towards Radam. He still won like that, but ended up in a coma.
  • Rurouni Kenshin has a villainous example: Kyoto Arc Big Bad Social Darwinist Shishio Makoto over-exerted himself in the battle against Kenshin and spontaneously combusted, sparing Kenshin the difficult decision of whether or not to break his Thou Shalt Not Kill vow.
    • The main cast isn't immune to this. After the villainous example mentioned above, Kenshin himself collapses and his friends have to carry him away. Due to his lack of muscle, Kenshin's body goes through serious stress when using Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. The repeated overuse throughout the series inflicts hell upon him, and by the end of the series he is completely incapable of fighting at his old level.
      • In a sense it is a concept of "the straw that broke the camel's back". Kenshin's style mastery was incomplete so he fought mostly with what he had. He usually showed no sign of slowing down before. However, once he learned the ultimate technique, it all snowballed since it put a lot more strain on his body than any other technique.
    • Sanosuke's hands get broken whenever he uses Futae no Kiwami after the Kyoto arc.
  • Dragon Ball Z has several:
    • Tien/Tenshinhan's Tri-Beam/Spirit Cannon attack, which is supposed to kill the user if used too long; nevertheless, Tien is able to master it so that it can be used repeatedly. In Z, given the exponential power rise of the opposition, it quickly becomes Tien's first-choice technique, and using it, he's even capable of pinning Semi-Perfect Cell down for a while before getting incapacitated.
    • Goku's power-multiplying Kaioken technique, which is also supposed to be crippling if the multiplier is set too high. After learning x2, however, Goku takes it up to x3 and even x4 for short bursts in his battle with Vegeta; at the climax of his pre-Super Saiyan power, he is able to practically sustain x2 and has mastered the use of levels up to x20 by activating it only in precisely timed pulses just before landing a blow or dodging an enemy attack. However, it is rapidly rendered So Last Season by the advent of the Super Saiyan transformation, and it may be that using it in tandem with the transformation would result in severe enough damage to make it impractical - the last time it's seen, and the only time it's used in tandem with Super Saiyan, is in the anime filler Otherworld Tournament mini-arc where Goku no longer has a physical body. Turns out the energy limitations make it so if he tried using both for more than a few seconds, he'd have completely used up his energy reserves and disappeared. Something even the Dragon Ball's can't fix.
    • The Super Saiyan 3 transformation. It is only attained by Goku harnessing the unlimited energy supply of the Otherworld, and he can never sustain it for very long in the physical world because of its massive energy consumption. This is a major factor in his fight against Kid Buu, where he can match Buu's power but can't maintain it for long - eventually being rendered unable to power up due to the strain, losing all his remaining energy, and downgrading into a heavily weakened normal state.
    • Vegeta's Super Explosive Wave/Final Explosion, where he just fills the space around him with as much energy as he can muster. He unsuccessfully uses it early on in Z in his fight against Goku, Gohan, Krillin and Yajirobi having lost too much energy, and ends up only weakening himself further. Many seasons later, as a Super Saiyan 2 in his fight against Fat Buu, he spends all of his life energy on the attack and dies, disintegrating Fat Buu... for all of thirty seconds before the latter regenerates.
  • This is the result of firing the unlucky-numbered caster shells in quick succession in Outlaw Star. While firing two is survivable (though not recommended), a third shot is likely to kill the shooter as much as it is the target. Naturally, Gene fires all of them in the final battle and survives.
  • Scaled down in One Piece: Luffy's Gear Second and Gear Third, while kicking some serious ass, wreak havoc on his body. Gear Second shortening his lifespan and Gear Third causing a small period of recovery by turning Luffy into an adorable helium-voiced pint-size version of himself.
    • There are also Emporio Ivankov's Tension Hormones, which energize and relieve pain for a period of time, at the cost of suffering all of it later.
    • The Energy Steroid pills also grant immense power at the cost of the lifespan of the one who consumes them. Hody Jones pops them like it was candy, but he and his New Fishmen Pirates plan to kill all of the World Government kings, including their own, and die right afterwards, so it doesn't matter to them.
  • In Slayers Next Lina seems to go into shock after overcasting, getting just enough healing to overcast again, having both arms broken, then flung into a mountain with enough force to leave a crater. Somehow though she gets better with no further healing.
    • Casting the Giga Slave, meanwhile, turns her hair white, and exhausts her. Fortunately, the first time was at the end of the novel, so it wasn't as big of a deal. Casting it again, meanwhile, is a different Trope.
  • In the original Ghost in the Shell, Major Kusanagi tries to pry the hatch of a very heavy-duty tank open. She pushes her superhuman cyborg body to the limit...at which point her limbs shatter. In the second movie, a sex doll possessed by Kusanagi does the same to its arm when she yanks out a heavy computer device from a wall; as it's not really her body, the scene is played for a small laugh and the Shout-Out to the original that it is with her simply moving on to the next part of what she's doing. In Stand Alone Complex, the second episode contains a Shout-Out to this with Kusanagi again jumping onto a huge tank and trying to pull the hatch open, with similar cinematography. This time, however, she simply can't do it, and pulling as hard as she can is just a non-event.
  • The Trans AM system in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 gives a huge boost to a Gundam's power output, multiplying its combat prowess several times over. However, it's only designed for limited usage (measurable in minutes), and will leave the Gundam and its pilot defenseless when it runs out, or if it's used up too quickly.
    • Two different cases here. The Gundams themselves have enough power left to stay aloft with all systems running but with reduced performance. The imitation system introduced by the antagonists actually shuts the suit down altogether when it runs out.
    • Essentially, true GN Drives produce nigh-infinite power. Trans-Am simply runs out the GN Condensers (think capacitors), thus making all systems pull directly from the main power source as well as recharging the condensers. In the GN Tau Drives, there is a limited amount of fuel and thus once they run out, it's over.
  • This happens to Lucy herself in Elfen Lied, whose flesh almost literally melts off her bones due to overexerting her powers after she finds a way of circumventing the limitation on the length of her vectors.
    • In general, whenever a Diclonius loses their horns, they cannot use their vectors. This is due to their horns having an organ that is a part of the pineal gland, which controls said vectors. Also, if they endure constant pain, they will not be able to use their vectors. Varying levels of pain happen throughout the series to almost every character, not just to Diclonius.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's Simon has this problem after Kamina dies. He suffers what appears to be a mixture of Heroic BSOD and "Berserk Button Syndrome" as his personality starkly changes from his usual timid self into a crazed Beastman killer, even going so far as to repeatedly stomp a felled Gunman into the ground. His RROD moment comes as his anger peaks, causing his uncontrolled Spiral Energy to build up and overflow. Gurren Lagann starts literally puking it up.
  • In Solty Rei, Integra Martel had an ability of Super Speed, but she was limited to three uses before risking neurological damage. Against the Big Bad, she pulls out four before collapsing.
  • In Berserk, this is basically Guts' super power, especially after he starts using the berserk armor.
  • In Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, Muhyo typically has to sleep after using major magic laws, which take away from his body's tempering, but if he pushes himself too far and uses up all his tempering he goes into an unconscious state, and his life is endangered unless he gets rest or drinks tempering water (which can be poisonous).
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Chao Linshen's red rings of death are actually magical runes engraved on her body which allow her to use powerful magic, but have a deadly strain on her body.
    • It's also later revealed that, after learning magia erebea, Negi will experience similar effects.
    • Mind you, the person who tells him that doesn't seem overly concerned; he just mentions to make sure to get help sooner or later. Of course, that guy is also pretty much immortal...
    • The problems effects eventually manifest as a Super-Powered Evil Side, and it's implied that the Magia Erebea is getting really unstable. When Negi pulled it out for the first time, he's clearly fatigued immediately afterward, despite not actually taking much damage. He very briefly activates it again later, and despite not actually using it for anything, he faints soon after it's deactivated.
    • Later, it turns out that he's being so weakened by it because it doesn't work well being used by humans. Since he's using it so much, its literally converting him into a demon, and the conversion process is painful. Its implied that when he finishes transforming, the problem will end. He finished. It ended. Now guess where Chao's magical runes come from?
  • Claymore turns this into a regular plot point. Almost every major bad guy except the Organization itself is a direct result of it.
  • In Digimon Savers, when Shine Greymon uses Burst Mode for the first time, he goes mad (Digimon characters have this happen at least once a season, usually due to bad emotions on the part of the Mons' human partner.) and attacks wildly, until he finally runs out of power and reconfigures, reverting to an egg.)
    • Angemon in Digimon Adventure did a similar thing after using up all his power to fight Devimon.
      • A variation with Greymon happened when Tai first got his Crest. Tai decided that Agumon needed a huge amount of energy, so he forced him to eat a huge amount of food, leaving him overfull and sluggish. When Etemon set a brainwashed Greymon on them, Agumon was the only one able to fight it (at least partially because the other Digimon had to give up their food for Agumon), and Tai keeps pushing him to fight in spite of his disadvantage and the other kids pleading with him to call him back. The kicker comes when Tai deliberately puts himself in danger in order to force Greymon to Digivolve, and he does so into Skull Greymon (an undead Digimon).
    • Also the reason why Digimon tend to revert to one of their baby forms after being in a high evolution level. At least in the first two series; it's not so common in later ones.
  • In Tegami Bachi, Letter Bees who fire their "Heart Guns"- guns that fire bullets from their "hearts" become fatigued over time, and need rest and food. If they fire their entire heart, they completely lose their personality and emotions.
  • In Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, in order to breach the Big Bad's fortified bunker, Heero repeatedly fires his buster rifle at it. However, the Gundam sustained a good deal of damage over the course of an earlier battle, so the recoil of each shot begins breaking chunks off of it until the third and final shot causes catastrophic failure.
    • Also arguably a Crowning Moment of Awesome for, not Heero, but the Wing Zero itself as this is the best Gundam 'death' in the Gundam Wing universe, if not the entire franchise.
  • This happens in Metropolis. Tima goes Ax Crazy after engaging the weapon of mass destruction in order to prevent the death of Keiichi. But she pretty much is destroyed at the end because the power is too much for her to handle.
  • It happens to wielders of Witchblades and Cloneblades in Witchblade the anime. Reina tries to fight off Maria and reaches her limit, turning to dust, while Masane uses up all the strength left in her in the final battle, and meets the same fate.
  • Happens to Usagi twice in the manga: the first time was at the end of the Dark Kingdom arc when she gathers all the power she had to defeat Metallia, causing her broach to shatter and Usagi herself to fall over stone dead. The second time was in the fight with Chaos in the Galaxy Cauldron: she channels the power of hundreds, if not thousands, of Sailor Crystals within the Cauldron through her body to dissolve Chaos into the Cauldron, hopefully not to be reborn from a long long time. This act causes Usagi's body to totally disintegrate.
  • Giant Robo, of the Giant Robo OVA, has a link with its controller, Kusama Daisaku. If he is ever in mortal danger, Robo will immediately take off to save him. At 50 times normal output. While this would normally be enough to, say, punch a hole in the moon, Robo can't actually control this output. So when it tries to get to Daisaku through an impenetrable barrier... he has to order Robo to stand down or explode. There's a damn good reason Daisaku wants to avoid this.
  • This happens to Ciel in Black Butler. Already a pampered, but somewhat frail boy he joins Noah's Circus to find out the whereabouts of children that have recently been disappearing. He's only there a day before the mix of the cold weather and the new strain being put on his weak body takes its toll and he ends up vomiting violently. As it turns out he has asthma and although its symptoms haven't turned up in the three years Sebastian has been with him the sudden stress on his body on top of a cold he caught takes him out with a high fever and he's forced to rest, despite his retaliation. Keep in mind the series takes place in the 1880's and that such a condition would be much more life threatening than it is today.
    • Sebastian gets one in chapter 65, nearly collapsing after being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by the Undertaker, getting Ciel off a ship that's been chopped in half, and eradicating the zombie horde, while on a rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic.
  • Kurapika from Hunter X Hunter suffered from this once in the first OVA; he passed at least 4 days without sleeping or eating, he overused his Nen by fighting and killing a Ryodan,kidnapping another and using his ultimate weapon in 3 people at the same time,including himself and stayed altered too much time.What happened?He entered a coma, with no possibility of treatment due the circumstances,and when he finally woke up, he entered a BSOD and started having hallucinations. Sometimes, a Level in Badass has too much of a price.
    • Gon, too, undergoes major setback after essentially using every ounce of his potential growth in nen all at once to demolish Neferpitou, resulting in turning the tables of the Curb Stomp Battle in exchange for his future inability to use nen. While it's not yet known exactly how permanent and thorough the damage is, but needless to say, he's now missing an arm on top of all of that...
  • The "Codes" (super-powered humans) of Code Breaker suffer from this if they use their powers too much: Okami loses consciousness; Toki becomes a child; Yuuki and a villainous Little Miss Badass become tiny animals (a cat and a turtle, respectively); Sakura and The President shrink. The Codes can recover, but "Rare Kinds" Sakura and the President require a special liquid made from the President's blood.
  • Shizuo from Durarara!! is a rather exaggerated example of what the human body is capable of when it overcomes its unconscious limiters (read: Super Strength). He's also a perfect example of why those limiters are there in the first place, as his childhood was filled with painful trips to the emergency room for everything from dislocations, to torn ligaments and muscle, to a shattered spine and pelvis. It's only by virtue of Hollywood Healing that he didn't completely cripple himself before his body finally grew strong enough to handle the strain.
  • Mahoro in Mahoromatic has this as the principle reason for her leaving military service and becoming a super powered maid. However, she is coerced into resuming 'full combat mode' at the end of the series, which if used will drain all her remaining power and end her life immediately.
  • In Change 123 the described risks of fighting as Zero are scarily similar to the real life example below. Zero doesn't seem to have the mental block everyone else has and could easily rip her body apart by fighting all-out. Luckily she usually over-exerts herself and passes out before anything like that can happen.
  • In Macademi Wasshoi, it's implied that George's supermode is this, though on a less serious scale.
  • In Holyland, this occurs following Yuu's Heroic BSOD. Although the cause is more psychological than physical, the result is that Yuu loses his form, and with it, most of his fighting ability. The local thugs, many of whom were afraid of him until that point, take advantage of this.
  • In Heroic Age, the Heroic Tribe members, which are insanely powerful, can fall in a state of "mental chaos", in which they get even more powerful, but may kill themselves if they snap out of it.
  • The signature move of Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho is the Dragon of the Darkness Flame, which summons demonic energies in the form of a dragon made of black and purple flames. While technically not deadly, the only way to lure the Dragon of the Darkness Flame from whatever hell it is in is to use a piece of one's own Soul Power as bait, although actually letting the Dragon have the soul is not required.
    • Yusuke's fight with Suzaku winds up draining all his spiritual energy, leading him to use his life energy instead. He manages to kill Suzaku, but the act of doing so nearly kills himself as well.
    • Kurama has the ability to put all his remaining energy into one final attack to summon one of his demonic plants, and does so to try and kill Karasu during the Dark Tournament. Thanks to some recent transformations into Yoko Kurama increasing his strength, it makes him able to survive the act.
  • In Soul Eater, Black*Star had the Uncanny Blade that could devour his soul and put a strain on his heart.
  • Bleach: Ishida and Ichigo get one of these when they voluntarily engage in acts that they know will end up destroying their powers forever (they both eventually get them back).
    • When Ichigo first uses Bankai, he pushes his body so hard that his bones start disintegrating.
  • Yuki from Haruhi Suzumiya is coming dangerously close to RROD in the preview of Book 10 of the light novels.
  • D Gray Man: Lenalee after the fight with Eshi. Also happened to Allen when he pushed his arm too far.
  • In Innocent Venus, overuse of the mechas leads to side effects for the pilots... unless they're terrible people. This is due to the fact that they're Powered by a Forsaken Child, and those trapped souls aren't happy.
  • In Eureka Seven, Holland had to consume drugs in order to pilot the LFO typeB303 "Devilfish" seen from episode 43 onwards. Overdose of the drugs could shorten lifespan or even result in death.
  • Whoever uses the power of "Eye of Aeon" in 11eyes will end up causing great pain and strain on the user. Protagonist Kakeru at one point have his entire body nerve cords severed because of it. With each use means danger to the user as it sucks the soul of its user.
  • In GetBackers, it is hinted that if Ban Mido uses his "Evil Eye" 4 times within 24 hours of the first usage will result in his death.
  • In volume 22 of A Certain Magical Index, Accelerator uses the magical grimoire lambskin to heal a sick Last Order who was slowly dying due to the strain of the summoning of Aiwass since he is an esper, using magic caused his body to essentially start self-destructing
    • Tsuchimikaido does this as well, though his esper ability (level 0 auto-regenerate) allows him to live through more spells than most.
  • Chapter 46 of Rosario + Vampire Season II reveals a new technique for Ruby-- A magical iron maiden themed armor that greatly boosts all her capabilities in exchange for putting massive strain on her body, to the point that it could potentially kill her.
  • Yoite in Nabari no Ou lives this trope. Using his Kira technique slowly kills him (by draining his chi/ki/lifeforce), and there are points in the series when he'll use it repeatedly until he is too weak to stand. Eventually it kills him, turning his relationship with Miharu into the ultimate Tragic Bromance
  • Happens twice in Ashita no Joe. Both times are are fatal.
  • Abel Nightroad of Trinity Blood suffers an abrupt one during his fight with Dietrich's Radu-puppet at the climax of the "Night Lords/Queen of the Night" arc. He tries to step up to 80% power...and completely collapses. Dietrich implies that it's a result of not feeding properly, but...
  • In Getter Robo Armageddon, the Shin Getter and Shin Dragon combine their Getter Energies to perform the powerful Final Getter Tomahawk attack, obliterating the Getter Sun (formerly Jupiter), Jupiter's moons and Big Bads Cohen and Stinger. When the explosions die down, Shin Dragon is out of power and Shin Getter's missing its arms. Then, when the two machines are tossed into another dimension and the Shin Getter ejects them out of said dimension, Shin Dragon's left as a skeleton-like husk.
  • All over the place in Rave Master. Haru nearly kills himself in an early battle from using his explosion technique too many times, and again towards the halfway point when he tries to use the Sacrifar sword. Resha famously died from overusing her magic, and when Elie finally blasts the enemy with Etherion the combine stress of the choice to do so and the strain of her powers wipes her memory.

Comic Books

  • Spawn has a limited amount of necroplasm in his body, which he needs to use his powers. If he uses it all, he gets sent back to Hell. It happened to him at least once. He got better.
  • In the Knightfall arc of the Batman comics, this was Bane's key strategy in handing Batman a rare and devastating defeat: Releasing all the inmates of Arkham Asylum at once and letting him wear himself out trying to recapture all of them, then easily crumpling the exhausted superhero.
  • This in fact was exactly why Superman died fighting Doomsday. Of course, being Superman (and a comic book character), he got better.
  • In Exiles, Thunderbird (a version of John Proudstar who became Apocalypse's Horseman of War) rips a hole in Galactus's armour and shoves an anti-matter bomb inside, saving the day - as Galactus then runs away. As a consequence of his exertion, Thunderbird suffers a Heroic RROD that sends him into a coma.
  • During Daredevil's first encounter with the Kingpin, he broke into Kingpin's vault which had the weight of the vault door as it's only defense. It's worth noting that a teenage Spider-Man had previously struggled hard to open the very same vault and that this was back in the day when Kingpin was still a house-wrecking, Spider-Man-pummeling monster of a mobster. DD decided to give it a try and pulled beyond his breaking limit (much like the Real Life example below). Using sheer willpower to pull until his limbs were literally about to come off. He got it open and when cornered by Kingpin himself, still managed to put up enough of a fight to hurt the big man... before running out of breath and being one-punched into oblivion.
  • The Flash can run faster than sound without too much difficulty. When he runs faster than faster than light, he risks being permanently absorbed by the "Speed Force" that powers all DCU speedsters. A number of other speedsters, such as Johnny Quick and Savitar, have met with this fate (which isn't considered a bad way to go; sort of like reaching nirvana). Wally West is the only person to consistently be able to return; his love for his wife Linda provides a sort of "tether" to the real world.
  • In a classic Iron Man story, back when his armor was also life support, Tony overrides his suits Power Limiters to put all his power into one punch. A punch that knocks out the Incredible Hulk. He then proceeded to pass out from a heart attack.
    • This trope is a regular thing for Tony, especially pre-Extremis.

Fan Works

  • In The Spice Girls/Ace of Base Real Person Fic, Just Taken, Melanie has a habit of pushing the levels of pain she often in. This has an effect on her body, but she's doesn't seem to mind. The medical staff at the hospital she's in doesn't see it that way.


  • In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah the Big G practically embodies this trope.
  • By the last 30 minutes of Brick, Brendan has been a victim of so many beatdowns and had so little sleep or food that he's barely able to stand and can't go more than a minute without coughing up blood. It's not pretty. Every second or third line of dialogue from the other characters is something along the lines of "Dude, go to the hospital, now."


  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit—Will Travel, Kip damages himself so badly trying to set up the homing beacon on Pluto that it takes the Vegans (folks from Vega, not folks that eschew animal-based products) months to rebuild his body.
    • In The Long Watch, Ezra Dahlquist, a young nuclear weapons officer, foils a military coup by disassembling the nuclear weapons and smashing the warheads. In doing so he suffers a lethal dose of radiation. He is given a lead casket and a Geiger counter "that never was quiet."
    • In Heinlein's The Green Hills of Earth, the poet Rhysling makes critical repairs to a nuclear core, but sustains fatal radiation poisoning. He composes the title song as he dies.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, Mages and those using Gifts run the risk of overexerting themselves and going into "backlash shock". This can sometimes be done deliberately as a form of Cast from Hit Points; taken to the ultimate conclusion it's known as a Final Strike, as in it's final for the mage attempting it.
  • One of Fritz Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" stories the villain fights the lightning-quick Mouser to a standstill for a while. When defeated the tremendous overstrain caused the villain's corpse to go into immediate rigor mortis.
  • In the New Jedi Order book Star By Star, Anakin Solo dies of this.
  • Harry Dresden mentions in one of the early books that over doing magic could essentially burn out your brain and render you unable to use magic again.
    • It's also possible for mages to do this intentionally, by drawing on all of their life force, and all available forces around them. Upside, one really really powerful spell. Downside, the witch or wizard who uses this method WILL die.
    • And since Small Favor Harry has had access to Soul Fire. A heavenly force of creation that he can use to power his spells. Unfortunately if he uses it too much, he'll burn out his soul and die. Without a soul...
  • Jaenelle Angelline, when trapped in a village with Lucivar, villagers and insufficient supplies. Her power begins to consume her body as it is used. Afterwards, she can barely walk under her own power.
  • In the original Stephen King novel Carrie, Carrie died after her final vengeance upon Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan caused her heart to give out through overdoing the use of her power. She's not really heroic, though..
    • Andy McGee in Firestarter does this, pushing his Mind Control power further and further until eventually he gets a brain aneurysm.
  • John Henry, the legendary American folk hero, died this way, proving that he could out-tunnel a power hammer all by himself armed with just a pair of 20-pound hammers. He won the contest but died immediately afterward.
  • In Mistborn, a magical ability that sharpens the senses can also sharpen thoughts. The idea is that increased input shocks a faltering mind into full orientation and awareness. This can be combined with other magical abilities in any number of clever ways, all of which hinge on being able to brutalize oneself and stave off passing out from the strain.
    • The final Mistborn novel has a strange inversion, in that a destructive superhuman feat depends on the sudden loss of an ability. A character who's been using the sense-sharpening power the way most people breathe turns it off and runs into a burning building. The narrative goes on about the way "everything is cold, dull, and distant, and blast it, my hands stopped working and I can't work this handle, let's try the elbows..."
  • In Brazilian novel A Droga da Obediência (The Obedience Drug), one of the teen test subjects of the title drug dies after doing much work and exercise (the drug doesn't let him feel exhausted, but the body doesn't think that way...).
  • Miles Vorkosigan's seizure disorder. Technically, it's a sort of epilepsy due to neurotransmitters instead of electrical impulses, a relic of his cryofreezing...but really, it's his body's payback for what he did to it for thirteen years. Not that he let up afterward, of course...
  • In Belgariad, it's possible for sorcerers to strain their powers to the point where they can suffer permanent damage, or even die from depleting their bodies' will to stay alive. This comes very close to happening to both Belgarath and Polgara at different points.
  • Wencit of Rum is the only White Wizard left in the WarGod series because setting up The Strifing killed, drove insane, or drew out all the powers of every other remaining wizard. Wencit survived only because he's a once in thousand years Wild Wizard who's not dependent on his own magical powers.
  • In the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series, children of the Big Three are more powerful then most so they can use stronger attacks. Percy at one point uses water from his own body to defeat a group of enemies. Afterward, he was very dehydrated and spent a few weeks recovering.
    • There's another time when he taps into Poseidon's earthquake abilities inside Mt. St. Helens and nearly causes it to erupt but he does begin to break the seal on Typhon. The drain on him is so strong he slips into a coma for a little while.
  • During the climactic space battle in Larry Niven's Footfall, construction worker-turned-spacecraft-repairman Harry Reddington stays to fix a leaking steam shunt despite the fact that the steam escaping around him is raising his body's internal temperatures up above the point at which the human brain shuts down. He gets the job done, and manages to die shortly thereafter from exhaustion, just before a leak in his pressure suit would have killed him anyway.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords the sword Townsaver essentially forces its wielder into RROD. You can't succumb to your wounds during the fight, but the sword doesn't help you avoid fatal wounds. Once the fight is done, so are you.
    • Something similar happens with Shieldbreaker when its wielder is faced with unarmed opponents. The user can't put the sword down and, eventually, has their life energy drained. This is something that can even affect a god.
  • Eisenhorn keeps pushing himself far beyond the limits of human endurance to chase down and destroy the enemies of mankind, generally without giving himself nearly enough time to rest in between. Today his facial muscles have been destroyed, his legs have been replaced with crude augmentic units, and he's killed or driven off all of his allies except for Cherubael, all through his utter refusal to compromise or stop fighting.

Live Action Television

  • When the First Doctor regenerated into the Second on Doctor Who, it was directly stated that it was physical breakdown. In the past few adventures, he'd been: aged by the Time Destructor, vanished by the Celestial Toymaker, had his life energy drained, been in the same time and city as a future incarnation, and suffered in a planetary energy drain.
    • The Ninth Doctor became the Tenth by taking on energy so strong that it would have killed Rose.
    • The Tenth Doctor became the Eleventh by absorbing a critical amount of radiation.
    • Donna's exit can also be considered this. Donna absorbed the Doctor's intelligence and saved the multiverse. Afterwards, however, the extreme amount of information started to kill her because it was too much for her human brain. In order to save her, he had to erase all of her memories of him so that the information would remain locked away.
  • If Ultraman (or his many successors) ever completely runs out of power, he will never rise again.
  • In Engine Sentai Go-onger, three Engines in The Movie use the last of their power to defeat the Big Bad who'd been misusing their Engine bodies while they'd been trapped in human form.
  • Phillip in Kamen Rider Double suffers something of the sort in the last arc, since he's actually a mass of data that, in the previous arc, was infused into Wakana. After being forcefully extracted, he begins an irreversible defragmentation/disappearing process that would hasten to its end the next time he becomes Double. They use this overflow of emotion and data to its advantage to effectively defeat the Utopia dopant. Cue Tear Jerker farewell.
  • The Medal Combos in Kamen Rider OOO cause Eiji to collapse due to the stress they place on his body. As the series goes on he's slowly getting used to it but a Combo still leaves him exhausted and unable to fight effectively for a period afterward.
  • Seems to be part of why Hiro is dying in Heroes.
  • Top Gear does this to many of the cars they use in stunts and challenges if they aren't destroyed by the stunts themselves. The amount of stress they go through on race tracks just cause the car to slowly break down. Except the Toyota Hilux.
  • Invoked in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episode "Wild West Rangers". Zordon tells Kimberly that too much pink energy is dangerous. Also used in Power Rangers Zeo; humans can't handle the Gold Ranger powers. This being Power Rangers, though, Jason survives.
  • In Twenty Four, Jack Bauer is usually on the verge of a complete physical breakdown by end of the season, as a result of the punishment he's endured and from simply going at least twenty-four hours without sleeping, drinking, eating or using the bathroom. Being The Determinator, it (usually) doesn't stop him from laying the smackdown on terrorists. Notable examples:
    • Day 2, where Jack is having heart attacks in the final hours as a result of being tortured earlier in the day.
    • Day 7, where Jack is exposed to a fast-acting bioweapon and spends the remainder of the day showing more and more symptoms: shakes, memory loss, collapsing in the middle of FBI headquarters...
  • In Roswell, Max is forced to make an old man young again, since he's a "healer". Since Valenti's life is on the balance, he does it, but in the process he ages and destroys his own body. He also faints at a hospital after healing five kids from cancer. After the first one, he seems okay, but by the last one he can barely stand, has tunnel vision, and is sweating. Hence, the fainting.
  • In Lois and Clark, Superman stops a space station from falling out of orbit, which he later describes as the heaviest thing he has ever lifted. He returns to Earth with over-strained muscles, and is in pain for a short time.

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 brings us Transcend Mortality, an Asian-character-class-only spell that does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The caster is given tremendous power, nigh-insurmountable defensive abilities, and essentially becomes unstoppable (to varying degrees depending on what level you were when you cast the thing). But after the spell runs its course, the caster crumbles to ash. And while resurrection magic exists in the game, only three very high-level spells can bring back a character who has died in this fashion. Two of them are called Miracle and Wish, to give an idea of the scale.
    • The proliferation of 3.5 sourcebooks brings quite a few of these. There's the Frenzied Berserker, who is capable of ignoring any amount of negative hit points while raging - but the full effects are applied immediately when the rage ends. The Corrupt and Sanctified spells, which are extremely evil and good respectively, take a toll on the caster; the most powerful ones cost the caster's life, in more or less painful ways - generally "more" for the evil ones. Then there are the Epic spells; creating one is a fairly involved process that includes determining the difficulty for the spell. The difficulty can be lowered significantly by including a "backlash" that hurts the caster.
  • In Talislanta, this is almost guaranteed to happen to a Vajra who unleashes the Dark Fire.
  • BattleTech, being the basis for the Mechwarrior video games, also has alpha striking as a powerful attack with dangerous drawbacks, but features a few other systems and weapons that also fall into the same category. Inferno missiles dish out a consistent 6 levels of heat (20% of the maximum heat scale in the game) for 3 turns with just a single hit on a target 'Mech, and are death to vehicles and infantry. They also come loaded in numbers large enough to afford using them liberally. Unfortunately, any pilot using Inferno rounds has to be extra aware of their heat; Infernos have an unfortunate tendency to explode with even less provocation than normal ammo when heated up, which causes both the napalm and the rocket fuel to cook off, instantly overheating the 'Mech and often blowing off a good chunk of its chassis. Jump jets grant extra movement options and agility, but they also allow a 'Mech to pull off the infamous Death From Above maneuver, dropping anywhere from 20 to 100 tons of bipedal war machine onto another. It's every bit as devastating as it sounds, but the attacker risks incurring a lot of damage to their legs and is almost certainly going to be helpless on the ground afterwards, until they can make it back to their feet—and jumping onto an enemy usually means that 'Mech is near the enemy's line. The enemy might be feeling a bit vindictive towards the flying collection of armor and weapons that just landed on one of their own. Finally, triple strength myomers actually gain strength and speed when heated up, ultimately allowing 'Mechs to cause double damage with physical attacks. That same heat causes the 'Mech's targeting computers to suffer, lowering weapon accuracy, and if the 'Mech overheats too much, the speed bonus is lost entirely. If the heat can be kept in a certain range and the 'Mech comes equipped with a dedicated melee weapon, however...
  • The Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide gives us the Monk of the Healing Hand variant class. At max level, such a character can resurrect all nearby dead allies...by completely obliterating not only himself, but essentially all memory of his existence. Which seems more than a bit counter-intuitive, if you think about it.
  • In the backstory of Magic the Gathering this seems to happen with some regularity, especially with the Planeswalkers. One of the most prominent examples is Barrin, who during the Phyrexian invasion loses the last of his family, his daughter Hanna. Grief-stricken, he draws in enough magical power to completely destroys the Phyrexian-infested island of Tolaria, killing himself in the process. See http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=23098.
    • Now that Planeswalker is a card type, you can witness this yourself. Unlike creatures, which have power and toughness, planeswalkers only have a loyalty stat, which can be increased or decreased by using printed abilities. They can also be attacked, directly, like players. Now, most planeswalkers have an ability that uses up a large amount of loyalty for one big effect, but leaves them open to being cherry-tapped by a lowly 1/1 goblin. Here are a few examples.
  • 7th Sea has the (nigh-extinct) El Fuego Adentro ("The Fire Within") school of Sorcery. It allow the character to start, control, and feed fires, even when there is no logical fuel present. However, using said Sorcery, especially the Feed knack, damages the Sorceror constantly. This is more severe than normal Cast from Hit Points because healing is much trickier in 7th Sea than in most games, as there is no healing magic and surgery is invasive and time-consuming.
  • Happens more than a few times in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Warhammer 40,000 worlds, but tends to be more villainous than heroic, being as only the evil races tend to be willing to risk body and soul for victory, especially when victory entails simply keeping body and soul. Notable examples are Dark Eldar combat drugs that run the risk of ravaging the user's system, Slaaneshi spells that cause enhanced performance at the cost of bodily shutdown, and a whole swathe of Skaven items and spells that give bonuses in exchange for members of the unit simply dropping dead afterwards.
    • Yriel, Grand Admiral of Craftworld Iyanden, defeated the Tyranid horde that was ravaging his Craftworld by grabbing a cursed spear out of stasis and using it to drop the Norn Queen at the heart of the swarm. Unfortunately, the spear is now slowly killing him.
  • In Exalted one of the Charms for the Air Aspect Immaculate Monks is Hurricane Combat Method, which gives you a boost to attack power, but chews up your health.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has a mechanic built in that allows a werewolf to keep going after suffering injuries that would kill them. But only by burning points of Rage, which are not only in very limited supply, but using them prompts berserk rage. Characters rarely survive after reaching this threshold, but the heroic Last Stand usually makes for a great story.
  • Spellcasters in Shadowrun can do themselves serious injury by overusing their powers, up to and including killing themselves.

Video Games

  • A constant risk of the Phazon mode in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots makes it clear from the start that Solid Snake is running on sheer willpower and nothing else. His health is in a constant state of deterioration, but it doesn't really hit him until the fifth act. After fighting off the last of the Beauty and the Beast Corp. and a squad of Elite Mooks, Snake finally hits his limit all at once and collapses just outside the entrance to the microwave corridor, with enemies moving in for the kill. Thank goodness Raiden catches up with him.
  • Limiter Release mode from Armored Core 2. When activated, your AC is provided with unlimited energy for about 50 seconds. But once those 50 seconds are up the generator goes into low power mode for about a minute to a minute and a half, which prevents you from being able to dodge effectively or use energy weaponry. Death usually follows if your enemies were not wiped from the field during your assault.
  • D-Dive mode in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Keep this going too long, and your game automatically ends.
  • Gulcasa from Yggdra Union gets a Deadly Upgrade halfway through the game that closely resembles Dragon Quarter's D-Dive mode. He RRODs twice from using it—the first time, his little sister saves him, but the second, the entire intent is for him to die, and he does no matter what the player's actions are.
    • And after the first incident, Gulcasa is out of commission for two entire chapters.
    • In Blaze Union, he is revealed to suffer from similar, albeit less severe, collapses and illnesses due to his constant use of Genocide putting too much stress on his body. One onscreen incident has him become so sick that if he does not kill a human with Genocide immediately, he will die. Further upgrading his demonic powers in Yggdra Union seems to push this beyond what Gulcasa and the Imperial Army can handle, which is even worse because The Caretaker isn't there to nurse him back to health anymore.
  • The Rune of Punishment from Suikoden IV. It can annihilate entire navies, sure, but the rune will punish its wielder for such an abuse of power. Most of the previous wielders simply died from overuse, causing their own obliteration, and the rune's transference to the nearest valid host. The hero of the game, Lazlo, naturally winds up having to use it, too, saving La Résistance several times, and spending days in a coma as a result. If you don't get the best ending, he winds up killing himself with it at the end.
    • Suikoden V has a few similar concepts... Raging Nostrum,a drug developed by the assassin organization "Nether Gate", sends the user into a powerful and violent rage... and then causes them to collapse dead when it's all over.
    • When Sialeeds unleashes the full power of the Twilight Rune, she ends up dying soon after. It also claims the already mortally-wounded Lyon's life later, as she was mainly only kept alive by the Dawn Rune to begin with. If you collected all 108 Stars of Destiny, she'll be revived. If you didn't, she dies permanently.
  • Arguably, the ARI glasses used by Norman Jayden in Heavy Rain. Basically, they make his life way easier, but in the same time ARI destroys Norman's brain, almost killing him multiple times in the game. It is also implied that if he doesn't stop using them, he WILL die.
  • Any strenuous use of the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception tends to leave Shiki with horrible headaches and brain damage. The most notable examples are when in Ciel's route he uses his power to kill nature itself around the school he goes to in order to partially depower Arcueid. The other example is where he forces his eyes to not only be able to see the death of the concept of poison in someone's veins, but also work as X-ray eyes. The latter sends him blind for a large chunk of time, and both are strongly implied to have shorted his lifespan by a great deal.
    • The end strongly implies that Shiki will die shortly after the events of Tsukihime because he pushed himself too far (and having that whole shared life thing with Akiha and SKIKI)
      • Actually, the later chapters say straight out that anyone but Akiha killing SHIKI results in Shiki's life force returning to him, thus bringing his lifespan back to a reasonable amount in the first two routes. Shiki sharing his life with SHIKI is only an issue in the Far Side routes.
      • Epilogue confirms it, however. Shiki's lifespan is still on the level of 'death uncertain', but he's not likely to die immediately after.
    • This happens a lot to Shirou in Fate Stay Night as well, due to his affinity for a certain kind of magic and his tendency to push his body beyond the limits of what any normal human body should take, usually causing him to collapse from Post Dramatic Stress Disorder and requiring magical healing to get back up again. It reaches its natural conclusion in the endings of Heaven's Feel, where Shirou's over-dependence on a Dangerous Forbidden Technique for projection magic causes his body to be gradually converted into swords -- without Ilya to bail him out in the Normal Ending, this kills him. Well, technically, he dies anyway, but...
  • White Knight Chronicles: Done in a particularly slow and heart-wrenching fashion in the second game. The Hero, Leonard, finds himself gradually weakened by the use of the titular White Knight. Eventually, it gets so bad that he collapses in the middle of a major battle and needs to be carried back to Balandor. The next time he's seen, he's in bed, grunting from the sheer pain caused by his Heroic RROD. After that, he's either shown unconscious, intensely struggling with his condition, or laying around, too weak to move and completely out of it. We're not kidding! He's gone for about a fourth of the game!
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume does this - the titular plume raises a character's stats to ten times normal, makes them immune to status aliments and elemental damage and casts a character-specific Game Breaker ability The Hero learns after the battle, instantly turning any battle into a Curb Stomp Battle, but having their potential unlocked in this manner kills them permanently.
  • Aigis of Persona 3 can activate her Orgia mode during a battle, which makes her attacks stronger for a few turns, but you better hope the current battle ends before she has to cool down for a few turns making her totally vulnerable. One cut scene shows what happens if she doesn't cool down.
  • In Shadow Hearts II, this is the insult to injury of the Mistletoe Curse. The harder Yuri fights against it, the faster it develops and kills his memories. But if doesn't resist at all, it'll gradually overtake him anyway. Fortunately nothing. There's no cure. There's a happy ending anyway, though. Kinda.
  • Tellah's Meteo from Final Fantasy IV.
    • Ceodore's Awaken in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Heals him completely and doubles his stats for three rounds, which translates into him temporarily becoming a powerhouse, but drops him to single digit HP afterwards.
    • The series' Dark Knight class may be susceptible to this in the hands of a reckless player.
  • Batman comes dangerously close to this by the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the game progresses, his suit slowly becomes more and more tattered (tears on his suit and cape, scratches on his face and cowl, five-o'clock shadow, bloodshot eyes), culminating in Batman intentionally punching out a Titan-infused Joker with a fist covered in explosive gel, mangling his gauntlet.
  • The villainous example happens to Genesis in Crisis Core, who proceeds to hijack the plot. Also happens to Angelo's clone and Zack
  • In World of Warcraft, warlocks have a spell called hellfire that will instantly and continuously do massive amounts of damage in a radius around the caster (literally, red rings of death.) However, doing this also damages the warlock, and will kill him if used for too long.
    • A similar but less extreme example is the Life Tap spell which allows the warlock to directly convert health to mana, but it is impossible to life tap to death.
      • Making this more of an HP -> MP situation
    • In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Mages have the Cauterize talent that saves from instant death. Unless they're tended by a healer immediately afterwards, they'll burn to death.
  • In Baldurs Gate II, one of the main limits to using the Super-Powered Evil Side mode your character eventually gets is that if you keep it on for more than a while, it will start heavily damaging you. Death ensues quickly.
  • The Spirit-Eater curse in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer starts draining the user's soul. If you keep using it to consume spirits, it drains your soul faster. You become slowly more inhumanly powerful as your hunger level grows, though it causes your energy meter to deplete faster as well.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Riku during his fight with Roxas. Throughout the entire time between Chain of Memories and the final fight in Days Riku had been holding Ansem's Darkness deep within his Heart to prevent another bout of Demonic Possession. After a fairly even match Riku acts defeated before striking Roxas down. Feeling victorious he then drops his weapon (which is actually one of Roxas's Keyblades). Roxas then picks it up and attacks, summoning his second. After getting his ass handed to him Riku decided the only option is to stop suppressing his Darkness. When this happens he takes the physical form of Ansem and can't turn back of his own free will. It isn't until the end of Kingdom Hearts II that he returns to his real form.
    • Would Sora's anti-form in Kingdom Hearts II qualify for this trope? Sora always runs the risk of going into this form whenever he goes into a drive form (With the lone exception being Final Form, where the chance to turn into Anti-Form is decreased for the next several Non-Final drive forms),[2] he doesn't have his keyblade in this form (nor can he use magic or items), and while he's not gradually losing HP or anything while in anti-form, he takes double the damage that he takes in any other form making him easier to kill, if you can catch him that is.
  • Mechwarrior games have Overheating: you can easily alpha-strike[3] a single target and take him out in one hit, but you'll shut down and be a sitting duck. Some mechs are also set up specifically to do this, only popping out of cover to fire everything they've got.
    • Generally, this trope applies to every powerful energy weapons: they deal nice damage, has a long range but generate so much heat that excessive use in combat is dangerous, regardless if you escheved armor for extra heatsinks or not. Not to mention that while flushing coolant can help, you only have access to a very limited supply; once that runs out, you have to go easy on the heat.
    • Equipping a Novacat in MW4 with a quartet of ER PPCs will result in a mech that can oneshot light and some medium mechs without ammunition issues. However, not even spending all other tonnage on heatsinks can save you from overheating after each shot - perfect for snipers, suicide for everyone else (gauss cannons have a similar damage output and longer range, but very limited ammo). On the other hand, shutdown due to overheating will hide you from enemy radar while you are cycling for the next shot.
  • In one of the bad endings in Odin Sphere, Oswald overuses his dark power while fighting Onyx and turns into a Revenant. The game indicates that this is the usual fate of wielders of Oswald's sword Belderiver.
  • Ikaruga: After absorbing a minute's worth of projectiles from the Stone-Like, the Ikaruga releases the restraining device on the craft to unleash all the energy back at him, destroying them both in a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In SaGa Frontier, The Mind Magic skill Awakening increases the users power considerably, but drains 1 LP from them after four turns unless the battle ends beforehand. In the same vein, T260's Omega Body has a skill called V-MAX, which gives a much larger power boost than Awakening and unlocks two borderline Game Breaker skills. After 4 turns, T260 loses 1 LP and takes a massive hit to their stats for the remainder of that battle, unless of course the battle is ended before that.
  • In SaGa Frontier 2, once your characters run out of WeaponPoints (WP) or SpellPoints (SP), they'll lose their Life points (which are different from regular Hit Points) if they try to use a Technique or a Spell, which can result in a permanent death once they run out of Life points. However, the lower WP or SP they get, the stronger their attacks become, hence the RROD.
  • In the Backstory of the King's Quest II Romancing the Throne Fan Remake, this happened to Legenimor, the first King of Daventry. In a great war, he Cast from Hit Points and saved the kingdom at the cost of his life.
  • Happens in Pokémon with the moves Selfdestruct and Explosion, though due to the Never Say "Die" nature of the series, your Mons merely faint.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, this is how Starkiller dies in the Light Side Ending. Being shocked by Emperor Palpatine's lightning, Starkiller marches forward and bearhugs him, shocking the Emperor. Seeing his friends about to be shot by stormtroopers, Starkiller opens his body to The Force, creating an enormous Force Repulse that wipes out the stormtroopers and knocks Darth Vader and Palpatine out cold, allowing his friends to escape. The strain ends the Jedi's life.
  • In the first .hack game series, overuse of Data Drain (without killing enemies normally) can eventually kill you. Instantly.
    • And, of course, risking this is the only way to finish one of the bonus dungeons in the fourth game.
  • In the Asura's Wrath demo, Asura disintegrates his original and added arms while defeating Wyzen. Though he regenerates one for the killing blow, the subsequent cutscene shows him facedown without any. Apparently this won't be the last time it happens in the full game.
    • Asura's Wrath form is a dangerous form Asura enters after his Berserker Form which is so dangerous to him that if he is not stopped his own power would tear his body apart.
  • In Heavenly Sword the opening scene depicts Nariko's death at the hands of a sword so powerful it kills the user. Throughout the course of the game it is revealed that the sword slowly drains the life of anybody who uses it for extended periods of time.
  • The Berserk status in Parasite Eve 2, which grants Aya more strength in her powers and guns, but every attack she makes is Cast from Hit Points, which can cripple her extremely fast and lead to swift death from enemies if you are reckless in attacking.
  • Torque's monster form in The Suffering depletes a special "Insanity" bar. However, he will only return to human form when the player explicitly switches back—if the bar empties completely, the monster simply starts to drain his Life Meter instead, and this will kill him if not manually disengaged.
  • Hisao from Katawa Shoujo suffers more than one of these, due to having severe heart arrhytmia. The majority of these are relatively light, but some specially severe ones happen in: the Prologue (setting the plot), in Act 1 (if he has very high points with Emi) and in Lilly's route (one comes up when he's having sex with her and the other when he's trying to catch her and Akira in the airport).
  • In Kid Icarus Uprising, Pit decides to fly beyond the five-minute limit to save Dark Pit from Chaos Kin. In the process, his wings burn up, leaving the bones behind.
  • In Kinnikuman: Muscle Fight, Kinnikuman Soldier has the True Burning Inner Strength mode and Muscle Spark techniques. If he doesn't kill his opponent with his Muscle Spark, he loses a majority of moves because his page is being burnt. Getting hit in this state causes Kinnikuman Soldier to reenact his death scene with Kinnikuman Super Phoenix. Somehow, winning in this mode will get Kinnikuman Soldier and Kinnikuman to don their royal armor in a reference to one of the manga covers.

Web Comics

  • This seemed to be happen to Vaarsuvius of The Order of the Stick, after the party split up following the battle of Azure City. (S)he's been unable to locate or communicate with the missing members, and has become obsessed with succeeding, such that that V began to work literally nonstop on the problem. Though elves have no physical need for "trance" (their equivalent of sleep), weeks of intense effort without any rest have turned V into a pale, veiny, shaky, irritable wreck. It was eventually revealed that V had been forgoing trance because of guilt and nightmares. When fleeing Azure City, (s)he ran into a group of retreating soldiers who pleaded for his/her help. Because V had no power left to help them, the soldiers were horribly slaughtered. Every time V trances, that memory replays. If you were forced to watch something like that every time you dozed off, you might try to avoid sleep too.
  • In the EverQuest based WTF Comics if Straha Ironscale pushes his power too hard it can be fatal. His daughter, Kaitis, has the same powers but lacks the control he has causing concern that she could die using it.
  • In MSF High, Forum Continuity, anyone who has the "Mana Body" disadvantage can do this to themselves! (You don't have HP, only MP...So each time you cast spells...) Luckily, you heal up to 100% every day. Unluckily, dying still hurts.
  • MS Paint Adventures: Problem Sleuth: There's a reason Sepulchritude is a Dangerous Forbidden Technique
  • A mild case happens to Nanase in El Goonish Shive. Her "angel form" powerup uses up so much mana that she's Brought Down to Normal for a while, with a side effect of temporary hair color change.
  • Coga Suro: Steve's Super Suit Mark 3 has a generator that produces more power than his body could handle if it was at maximum output continuously. Releasing a 'limiter' [first time by removing a fuse-like item from his belt and overdramatically crushing it, subsequent times by voice command] allows Steve to use this greater energy output for a limited time, acting as a Power-Up that leaves him physically battered and exhausted after using it.

Web Original

  • More literal than most of the versions here, Lollerskates uses this as an attack to keep the Master Chief from helping in the final fight against him in Life in A Game.
  • In an event in an ORPG(think about it) called Dragonfable, which is advertising on this site, your mentor/mission control-ish character Warlic is revealed to have one. After a long "war" in which players have to collectively whittle down the huge number of enemies(standard practice), the generals confront his spoiled apprentice, who killed him and stole his power, and a fight occurs with the player controlling said apprentice. Now, normally the fight screen has a list of all your abilities with the mana cost, like "15", on the corner. In this fight, you start out with zero mana, and all the mana costs say things like "-350." When your mana meter fills, you DIE. After said apprentice realizes that Warlic was right in that she can't control his power, she resurrects him and apologizes. He forgives her, and uses his power to scare off said generals, who happen to be GODS.
  • DC Nation's universe has a few. One Original Character is a 9-11 firefighter who used up the last of his oxygen evacuating survivors from the first Tower. Death was impressed enough to recruit him as an agent. Another OC can absorb and use ambient magic, and always runs the risk of burning himself out by absorbing (or using) too much power for his mostly-human body to withstand. A third OC has "freak outs" or "bad trips" if pushed to a Heroic BSOD. It makes her a VERY impressive combatant, but burns her out afterward.

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang is so freaked out about fighting the Fire Lord, he goes without sleep for three nights, practicing. Fighting, talking pets, dancing rocks, and singing sheep are the result.

Aang: (When Toph drinks water): DON'T DRINK THAT!!
Toph: (Spitting it all out on Katara): Why?! Is it poisoned?
Aang: No, but I had a dream we were in the middle of the invasion, and you had to stop and use the restroom. WE ALL DIED BECAUSE OF YOUR TINY BLADDER!!!

  • This is what happens to the protagonist of "World Record" short story in The Animatrix: he almost frees himself from the Matrix on his own, but is caught just before he can get out and ends up disabled. Except you can't just forget that. At the very end, he demonstrates he isn't completely disabled...
  • On Teen Titans, Cyborg sometimes falls prey to this. Fortunately he's as Strong As He Needs To Be, so he always survives, if only just.
  • In Beast Wars, the Transformers have a fail-safe mechanism that forces them to power down if overworked, to prevent this very trope from happening. Unfortunately, Dinobot, the show's primary antihero, ended up in an uphill battle against the Big Bad and ALL OF his minions. Being at his limits, the only way he could keep fighting was to override this safety feature and just fight himself to death. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened, though he managed to foil the Big Bad before going kaput. It became both his Crowning Moment of Awesome and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, as he accepted a more idealistic worldview.
    • To elaborate on how awesome this was; his token emotionless computer voice, when it is telling him of the danger and trying to activate his automatic shut-down, sounds worried.

Computer: "Warning. Power reserves 96% depleted. Stasis lock commencing."
Dinobot: "Override."
Computer: "Repeat: power loss critical. Further expenditures will result in loss of spark. Stasis lock must commence."
Dinobot: "OVERRIDE!"
Computer: "...acknowledged."

  • A possible explanation for Bruce's heart condition in Batman Beyond (besides simple aging). He simply pushed himself too far for too many years, and his body paid the price.
    • Which doesn't make sense because constant physical training at peak health on the scale of Batman's should have given him the strongest healthiest heart of any normal human, beyond that of an olympic athlete. Also remember his heart condition only hit him in his 60's while he was still operating at the same level of exertion that he was used to all his life. Age probably had much more to do with it.
      • It actually makes perfect sense, yes it would have given him an extremely healthy heart, but constantly pushing himself beyond that heart's limit is what finished his superhero career. As an old man, he was pushing himself the same way he did when he was in his prime, which was an absurd task. Even the strongest heart is only as strong as it's limit. Without people such as Alfred around to keep an eye on him, he went beyond them.
      • A key missed point is that he explains, in the episode "Disappearing Inque", that it was an experimental exosuit he had designed, which increases the amount of force one's effort puts out and increases stamina, that put the strain on his heart to begin with. This leads to an Oh Crap moment for Terry when Bruce arrives to bail him out in a fight with Inque while wearing the aforementioned exosuit.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob enters his Pet snail Gary into a race. Preparing for the race, he puts Gary through a brutal training regimen, giving him no break whatsoever. On the day of the race, Gary is already tired. During the race, Spongebob harshly orders Gary to move on until Gary's eyes blow up and he has a "Blown head gasket." Then he literally crashes like a racecar.
  • This is how we lost Bunny, the fourth member of The Powerpuff Girls. She was unstable to begin with, then pushed herself too far too fast in defense of her sisters, making it a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Narrowly averted in Justice League Unlimited with the Flash. During his fight against Luthor/Brainiac, Flash kept pushing himself faster and faster, literally circling the globe to build up enough momentum to damage his Nigh Invulnerable foe, and after the fight ended, Flash appeared to suffer from a Heroic RROD, abruptly fading into the speedforce, but his teammates literally pulled him back. Flash was convinced that if he ever went that fast again, he couldn't possibly return.
  • Jeremie attempts this in Code Lyoko with a device that enhances his intelligence with every trip to the past. Prolonged use actually puts him in a coma, although naturally he gets better.
  • In the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Changeling," Shane was already taxing his Shapeshifting abilities to infiltrate a prison during a riot. A crossfire between inmates leaves him injured, so he ends up taxing it even more. He finally gets control of the prison and its security systems, but the communications systems are fried, and his bio-defenses are literally tearing him apart. Worse, the Laredo was set to open fire and blast the whole prison to atomic dust unless the stand-down order was given. In a last, desperate gamble, Shane uses the last of his charge to send a telepathic shout to Niko. The strain came really close to killing him (Never Say "Die" was an averted trope with the series). The fact he was able to use telepathy, as well as the continuing Ship Tease between the characters has led to some interesting speculation.
  • Ben 10 Alien Force uses this on some occasions as well (mostly with seasons 1 and 2) and its brethren new series as well; Ben 10 Ultimate Alien. Mostly when Ben wants to transform into a particular alien, the device tends to be non-responsive.
  • In the 2002 reboot of He Man and The Masters of The Universe, in the origin of the power of Grayskull, King Grayskull, the original wielder of He-Man's sword, fought with everything he had to save his kingdom from the evil Hordak, at the cost of his own life.
    • What makes it really bittersweet was the fact that he was told by an oracle this would happen. Despite knowing his fate, all that Grayskull cared about was that his kingdom would be free. That just shows how much a guy will lay down for his people.
  • In ReBoot, Bob suspected this would happen when he fused with Glitch, which was broken at the time. Overuse of his new powers nearly kills him later, with a transparent and static visual effect when it happens.
  • In the South Park episode "Margaritaville", Kyle uses a credit card with no spending limit to pay off the town's debts. This task turned out to be so exhaustive that when he collapsed, everyone begins to fear that he had died.
  • Happens to Applejack in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Applebuck Season". She tries to harvest her family's entire apple farm by herself, and refuses to rest or accept help. As the episode progresses, she gets more and more exhausted, her vision and hearing become blurred, and she slowly goes insane from sleep deprivation (and this is after a whole week of non-stop work). She finally accepts help when she assumes she was finished, but finds that she only harvested about half the orchard.

Real Life

  • A (surprisingly common) cause of death in Japan is karoshi, or death by overwork. It's a rather sad example of Japanese working habits.
  • Humans are capable of using only one-third of their muscles' potential strength (even when hyped up on steroids) due to a biologically implemented mental block. Only a few people have gone past this with even fewer reaching full potential. Every one of those situations was a life or death situation, when hormones are able to allow us to override the block. The reason the brain has this limit is that any amount of exertion above the one-third limit causes our muscles (and even tendons) to tear themselves from the bone, rip themselves apart, or even start to liquefy. Of course, the severity of the damage depends on how far beyond the limits one goes, and for how long.
  • Some athletes that use "blood doping" (i.e. removing blood, then putting it back in later) to raise their red blood cell count (and thus provide more oxygen to their muscles) have simply keeled over dead because thickening the blood like that greatly increases the risk of clot-related complications such as heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, and strokes.
  • James K. Polk worked himself into an early grave due to the fact that he didn't like to delegate work to other people.
  • One of the theories behind Lenin's early death. It took an attempted assassination and three strokes to bring him down. Even after his second and third strokes he would work continually, despite being unable to talk or feed himself properly.
  • Some say that creative overwork was the death of composer and organ virtuoso Max Reger. He was found in full rigor mortis at the writing desk in his hotel room while on tour, performing; he had been up to the wee hours of the morning writing music and his heart failed around 2 AM.
  • Pheidippides ran all the way to Athens from the city of Marathon to announce the victory of Greek forces over Persians at that city. Upon delivering his message, he immediately dropped dead of exhaustion. This happened in 490BC, making this Older Than Feudalism.
  • Oddly enough, this is the goal (thought not the only goal) for some military branches.
    • The infamous US Army Rangers use starvation, sleep depravation, and extreme physical work load to push potential recruits past the point where the body benefits from their "training" and many simply collapse from accumulated fatigue. This does NOT disqualify you. This is expected. What the Rangers want to know is, are you Badass enough to keep on trying?
    • US Navy SEAL/Coast Guard Rescue training includes pushing you so hard you drown. Then you "die". Then you are revived and then tossed back into the water again. If you complain about it, they'll fish you out and fail you for not being Badass enough to ignore something like dying from completing your course objective.
  • Many many pop stars (Britney Spears), pop star actors (Rihanna), acting singers (Demi Lovato) and many many more people in Hollywood get this at least mentally.
  • Some dog breeds, such as border collies, have been known to work themselves to death.
  1. They normally have a green four-part ring when they power on; when one gets the red ring instead, it usually means that the system can no longer physically function. The red ring generally doesn't appear until it's too late to do anything about it, at which point it's usually time for a new console. Originally there were 4 red ring codes in total, three red lights being the classic RROD and indicating the dreaded hardware failure. One red light indicates another kind of hardware failure, and two red lights mean the console is overheating. Four red lights (the only actual *ring*) is known as the Fake-out Red Ring and appears when the console is turned on without plugging the AV cables into the TV. But that just confused people and led to a lot of unnecessary returns, so now the red ring always means something has Gone Horribly Wrong.
  2. According to the Brady Games Strategy Guide, you get one invisible point to an Anti-Form probability counter every time you "Drive", the counter resets to zero whenever you earn a new drive, and Final form drops these invisible points by ten, though there aren't any negative points. The chances, however, don't ever increase higher than 25% chance, with the exception being against Xemnas, where there is a 10x greater chance of getting Anti
  3. A.K.A. use all your weapons in a single salvo