This Cannot Be!

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"I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line 'No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!' (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)"
The Evil Overlord List, #24

Stock phrase uttered by the villain when everything is going wrong, often soon after he declares that nothing could stop his plan, especially not those puny heroes (and the heroes have shown up to disprove the statement). He screams that it's impossible, despite the evidence staring him in the face. May be a sign of a Villainous Breakdown, or the villain's Last Words before Critical Existence Failure (or, on a more existential level, Puff of Logic). This phrase is often coupled with a Big No. May be accompanied by an Oh Crap.

The equivalent Japanese phrases are "masaka" and "sonna bakana". Such words are used so much in anime, it's fairly common to hear "this can't be!" in English dubs. Monsters in Toku are prone to yelling this just before they explode.

This phrase is most commonly said by arrogant characters when the tables turn on them, especially Smug Snakes, Smug Supers and/or Arrogant Kung Fu Guys since they are, as a matter of fact, overconfident. Said types of characters will often shriek in disbelief when their arrogance ends up proving to be their Fatal Flaw by having them end up defeated by their opponents. "I can't believe it!", "How can this be?!", "You can't do this to me!", "This can't be happening!", "It can't end like this!" and "I cannot be defeated!" are among some examples of the best variations of this trope, and a good fan knows when it hits someone with Smug Snakery or Smug Superiority anyway. Also, in a classic fashion, most often after saying "This Cannot Be!", a villain will vow vengeance by saying such phrases as "I'll get you next time!", "We Will Meet Again!", "I will have my revenge!", or even "You'll pay for this!"/"This Is Unforgivable!" before leaving to plot anew. Some Complete Monster villains are also prone to screaming this stock phrase when they're given a certain punishment for all their terrible atrocities as well as their own vileness.

Oddly enough, a heroic character can also utter this when something shocking or horrible happens revolving around him/her or those close to it. Such a phrase may even be a sign of a Heroic BSOD. The phrase can also be uttered by one character as an expression of surprise when another character actually succeeds in doing something that no one else has ever been able to do in the past.

This is often used when a villain is destroyed or humiliated or meets an unpleasant fate or his Evil Plan is foiled, so beware of spoilers.

Examples of This Cannot Be! include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Tsuna is clearly beating Xanxus towards the end of their fight in Katekyo Hitman Reborn. Xanxus is not happy about this and says such things like, "Not possible! This is impossible!"
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! GX dub frequently translated this as...

Duelist: It can't be!
Jaden: Oh, it be, all right!

    • The original also had this, though often used a simpler verison

Duelist: Oh no!
Yami Yugi: Oh Yes!

    • ...though it was also fond of taking it a bit more straight. And Kaiba preferred this exchange:

Duelist: No way! You can't [do that!]
Kaiba: I just did!

    • Used by Yami Bakura when Yami Yugi switches him and the regular Bakura around so Yugi can destroy him. (He got better though...)

Yami: Melvin, no!
Melvin: Melvin yes!

    • Panik: You survived! How can this be? It's impossible! (After Yami Yugi's millennium puzzle protects him from Panik's flames, which actually threatened death instead of the Shadow Realm), and seconds later Yami uses Mind Crush, either to destroy him or banish him to the Shadow Realm for eternity.)
  • Asakura utters "It can't be!" in Suzumiya Haruhi, right after Yuki started terminating her. While she looked desperate while saying it (and for some reason, had Puppy Dog Eyes... What the?), she gets a hold of her Stepford Smiler face again, after that.
  • Saionji in the first episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena. This seems to be the standard reaction of anybody losing the Rose Bride, which always happens to somebody who has started to take her (or their "right" to her) for granted.
  • Dragonball Z:
    • Both Cell and Freeza of have this reaction to their deaths/defeats. Freeza keeps his insistence of superiority even as Goku beats the ever loving crap out of him, and keeps it until right before his last attempt at a sucker punch blows him into a million pieces (He Gets Better, but only briefly). Cell, goes on a similar tract after attaining his "Perfect Form," and especially after going a step beyond that. His last words: "Impossible... It can't be... I'm invincible!"
    • Garlic Jr. says "What! No! It can't be!" before Gohan blows up the Makyo Star, causing him to lose all his power and get sucked into the Dead Zone, to remain for all eternity. (never to die because he wished for immortality with the Dragonballs).
    • Cooler shouts "It can't be!" when he notices Goku sending his Supernova attack directly back at him with his Kamehameha Wave, which also pushes him along with it directly into the sun, where he dies.
    • "Over 9000? That's impossible!"
  • Almost every friggin villain in Saint Seiya.
  • Several of the earlier antagonists of Yu Yu Hakusho (particularly Hiei) say this or something similar when the heroes defeat them, mostly since the heroes are nearly always the underdog anyway. The last time the heroes get enemies that do this is a few times the Dark Tournament, though (after which most of the enemies are either Spirited Competitors or Death Seekers).
  • In Code Geass, these are Charles' last words, quite understandably as he was immortal and dying only because Lelouch managed to mind-control God.
  • The dub of Sailor Moon had Queen Beryl yell this right before she died was banished back to the Negaverse.
    • Wiseman says a similar line when Serena and Rini destroy him. "WHAT?! THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! NO ONE IS AS STRONG AS THE DOOM PHAN..."
  • In the first Pokémon movie's dub version, Mewtwo uses a variety of this as he kills the scientists who created him and then later when he breaks free of Giovanni's control.

Mewtwo: This cannot be...my destiny!

    • Its a different kind of "This cannot be" though. For example, if you listen to the Japanese dub, he will not say "sonna bakana." Essentially, its worded the same in English but the contextual meanings are different.
  • Justified in Tenchi Muyo!. After he's pretty much won the battle, Kagato fires a deadly blast of energy at Tenchi, only to be stopped by Tenchi's Light Hawk Wings, to which he responds, "Impossible!" It's justified because he had just cut Tenchi off from Tsunami's power, and he quickly realizes that the wings are not Tsunami's doing but in fact Tenchi's, a phenomenon that really should be impossible.
  • Sent up in overly dramatic fashion in one episode of K-On!.
  • Kuki's reaction in RahXephon when he realizes that the dying Kunugi is about to create a second Tokyo Jupiter - and he's well inside the blast radius. His expression is simply priceless.
  • Kikyo says this when her body is decaying while fighting Inuyasha.
  • In Naruto, like many other anime, this is said a lot, but Pain just loves saying it.
    • The same Shinra Tensei that destroyed the entire home village was rendered useless by Naruto twice, leading to that phrase.
      • Naruto, while in his six-tailed fox form, not only blocked it with a massive amount of chakra, but he reflected it, hurling Pain into a cliff 2–3 miles away.
      • He also resisted the attack a second time after coming out of his rage... using a hundred shadow clones.
    • Pain's final resort to containing 6-tailed Naruto didn't work. Naruto broke out, with Pain saying "I can't believe it." upon seeing him in his skinless eight-tailed state
  • Bleach Soifon in her fight with Yoruichi. She banked everything on the belief that, having spent a hundred years obsessively training, she would now be able to surpass Yoruichi. When she realises that she still can't defeat Yoruichi even though Yoruichi's skills have stagnated for a century, she screams this before dissolving in tears and revealing the real reason why she's so angry with Yoruichi.
    • In anime episode 197, Espada #7 Zommari Rureaux says "This cannot be happening" while Byakuya Kuchiki is attacking him with his bankai.
    • In chapter 420, Aizen's Villainous Breakdown during his final battle with Ichigo.
  • In part 2 of the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time manga, Ganondorf says these words after being defeated by Link for the first time:

Ganondorf: Impossible... I can't... Dark Lord Ganondorf cannot be defeated... by this boy!

    • Of course, Ganondorf isn't the only one who mutters such a phrase when beaten - other villains also like using this trope when they get bested by Link.
    • Also, in the A Link to the Past manga, Agahnim gets a big shock when Link absorbs his magic with the Master Sword, just before repelling it right back at him in an unforgiving act towards him for sending Zelda to the Dark World encased in a crystal and making him think he sacrificed (and therefore killed) her.
  • In the fourth episode of Shaman King, Tao Len mutters such a phrase after being bested by Yoh.

Tao Len: It can't be... I've been defeated...!

    • In a much later episode, Len says such a phrase again while he's fighting Mikihisa, Yoh's father, in a match to prove his worth and determine whether he will stop or continue searching for the grains of rice scattered across the desert by him. When Len makes many futile attempts to hit Mikihisa after recreating his copies from his spirits using faster and stronger versions of his Rapid Tempo Assault, he simply says "Impossible...!" before the Mikihisa copies move in to attack him from everywhere around him while saying "Use your Oversoul (Furyoku in the dub) to see."
    • Also, in the finale, Hao doesn't actually say anything when he's defeated, but the shocked expression on his face when he and his Spirit of Fire are cleaved in half by Yoh and Amidamaru, who were both given everyone's power and support, just before the fire spirit explodes and takes out Hao with it, suggests that he can't believe that he lost to those two.
  • In Touhou Musoukakyou: A Summer Day's Dream, Reimu freaks out and has her Berserk Button pressed in a "This Cannot Be!" fashion when she sees that her beloved donation box has gone missing!

Reimu: Wh-wh-WHAT?! H-How can it...! U... U-u-u... U-u-u... WHERE THE HELL IS MY DONATION BOX?!?!

  • Uttered by Vajramon in Digimon Tamers when he is destroyed by Renamon in her ultimate form, Taomon. "What's happening? This can't be!" The entire episode Vajramon was infatuated with her but disgusted that she preferred to defend humans and have a human tamer rather than join Zhuqiaomon in his quest to destroy them. Vajramon, as well as Zhuqiaomon and the other Devas, viewed humans as inferior, and was even more put off that her ultimate form resembled a human in appearance.
    • Makuramon also says it when Beelzemon destroys him. May not have been the strongest Deva but he lasted the most episodes out of any, besides Antylamon, who survives up to the final episode and the end of the movie set afterward due to her Heel Face Turn.
    • Apocalymon back in Digimon Adventure has this reaction when the Digidestined use Heroic Resolve to not only reassemble themselves after he digitized them but allow their Digimon to Digivolve to their strongest forms without their crests.
  • King Gorge says this in Fighting Foodons when Chase and Palator overwhelm and destroy Devouron, making it his last few seconds of being an Evil Overlord before being redeemed by them.
  • Sirica of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, oddly enough, counts as well. She uses this trope when she hears a familiar roar and sees, to her horror, the legendary Demon Beast/monster Kirisakin, whom King Dedede had bought from Holy Nightmare Co./Nightmare Enterprises out of fear of her, appearing in Kabu Canyon and making his way towards her and Kirby and company.

Sirica: ...It can't be. It's Kirisakin the great monster!
Meta Knight: Kirisakin is here to reclaim the Galaxia sword. We must stop it!

    • Escargoon screams this in an earlier episode, "Sweet & Sour Puss", when he, despite not knowing that Togeira took away his ability to get angry, finally realizes that nothing that happens to and around King Dedede can make him angry and he stays calm and nice through it all.
  • In the finale of F-Zero Falcon Densetsu, Rick Wheeler successfully destroys the Dark Reactors prematurely, therefore ruining Black Shadow's plans to destroy and remake the galaxy. Black Shadow tries to escape the destruction of the exploding reactors, repeatedly shrieking "I do not die! I will not die!" along the way, so he can lick his wounds and plot anew. Of course, his escape is prevented by a meme-tastic Crowning Moment of Awesome in the form of a Heroic Sacrifice courtesy of Captain Falcon himself, who FALCON PUNCH!!!!!es Black Shadow right back into the radius of the explosion of the exploding reactors themselves (which many may argue that the Falcon Punch caused, if the scene is taken out of context), incinerating them both and at the same time saving the galaxy.
  • In One Piece, Don Krieg isn't too happy about getting his ass handed to him on a plate by Luffy towards the end of their fight and in response repeatedly shrieks that no one can defeat him.
  • Giroro from Keroro Gunsou winds up catching this phrase from an enemy who thought he'd killed him. In this case, however, "Sonna bakana!" might be better translated as "This is madness!", since Giroro's response is to scream "This Is Sparta!!" in Gratuitous English and Megaton Punch the bad guy straight through about a dozen walls.
  • Zatch Bell has Clear Note, at least. The Complete Monster who serves as the last Big Bad of the series, he intended to commit genocide on the Mamodo if he won. Right before he was taken out by Zatch's strongest spell, this trope was utilized.
    • Said spell was the result of a Deus Ex Machina, without which it would not have been possible to defeat him. To elaborate, Clear merged with his strongest spell, becoming a colossal monster, about the size of a mountain, that annihilated anything it touched with a bottomless supply of power. Zatch's strongest spell was the result of EVERY SINGLE MAMODO aside from Clear lending him their power. This was the result; kindly bear in mind the aforementioned description of how big Clear is.
  • SD Gundam Force: As he's being pulled into a limbo between dimensions, Talgeese cries, "This can't be happening!" Before admitting, "...Well, I suppose it could, but it shouldn't be happening!"


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Matthew Patel in the first volume of Scott Pilgrim: "This is impossible! How can this be?!" promptly before Scott causes him to explode into coins.
  • The Joker screams exactly this trope name in Batman: The Devil's Advocate after he learns in court that he's just been found guilty of multiple counts of first-degree murder, and now will almost certainly get sent to the electric chair. (He'd assumed that he'd always be thought too insane to ever be convicted by a jury, let alone receive the death penalty.)
  • In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared says something to this effect moments before his downfall.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

"Impossible," breathed Felix.
"Not impossible," Garet whispered with a grin. "Just very, very unlikely."


Films -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • Maleficent utters the line almost exactly in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, when she realizes that Prince Philip has very nearly reached Princess Aurora's castle. She teleports to his location and declares:

Maleficent: Now shall you deal with me, O Prince... and ALL THE POWERS OF HELL!

Mok: You can't do this to me! I... AM... MOK!

Hades:This is-- this is impossible! You, you, you can't be alive! You'd have to be a, a--
Pain and Panic: A god?

    • He also does this whenever you beat him in the Kingdom Hearts games. It's immensely satisfying to hear, really.

Hades: This... isn't... happening!

Tai Lung: You...You can't defeat me. You're just a big...fat...panda!
Po:I'm not a big, fat panda. I'm THE big, fat, panda.

Auto: Not. Possible.

  • In Aladdin: The Return Of Jafar, Jafar's reaction when he sees Aladdin and Abu and Abis Mal fighting over his lamp and realizes that Aladdin himself avoided death by beheading thanks to the Blue Genie:

Jafar: The street rat? Still aliiiiive?! NO!

  • The Lion King inverts this. When Simba arrives just in time to witness Scar fighting with his mother Sarabi, he steps in to protect her. A terrified Scar replies to that with "Mufasa? No. You're dead."
    • And he's right. Earlier on in the film, Scar killed Mufasa by shoving him back into the wildebeest stampede, therefore resulting in his death. With Simba's return, Scar ends up mistaking him for Mufasa until he reveals to his mother that he's her son, causing Scar to be both relieved to know he's correct and surprised to know that Simba is indeed alive.

Scar: Simba? Simba! I'm a little surprised to see you... (angrily looks at the hyenas) alive. (the hyenas gulp and back away)

  • Subverted in Atlantis: The Lost Empire in which Milo is warned that Rourke is never surprised. Case in point: Milo and the Atlantians, which Rourke's company was supposedly sure were stranded in the city, pursue and attack them not as an army, but as an air force and the villain just happens to have his own fighter planes to counter that.
  • In the finale of the 1986 Transformers The Movie, Unicron in his death-throes is heard saying "Destiny... You cannot... destroy... my... DESTINYYYYY...!" before exploding.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

Kane: Susan. Please don't go. No. Please, Susan. From now on, everything will be exactly the way you want it to be, not the way I think you want it, but - your way. You mustn't go. You can't do this to me!
Susan: I see. It's you that this is being done to! It's not me at all. Not what it means to me. I can't do this to you? Oh, yes I can.

  • Vizzini from The Princess Bride is fond of the word "inconceivable" to explain things that should not go wrong but inevitably do.
    • Count Rugen displays a similar attitude. That rare villain who is both a Dirty Coward and a Smug Snake, he keeps taunting the badly wounded Montoya as the Spaniard stubbornly blocks every blow from the Count's sword and continues his quest for vengeance despite barely being able to stand. ("STOP SAYING THAT!") By the time Rugen finally realizes Montoya's status as The Determinator, Inigo has cut him numerous times and has him begging for his life.
  • Nicely played with in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, when Jack Sparrow waltzes into the pirates cave on Isla De Muerta after Barbossa maroons him on an unescapable island for the second time.

Barbossa: It's not possible!
Jack: Not probable!

  • The Prestige, when Borden shows up after having apparently been hanged.

Angier: Impossible...a brother, a twin?

    • Of course, this is pretty rich when you consider what Angier's been up to.
  • The one in the MST-worthy Riding With Death is delivered oddly:

Dr. Hale: No. This can't BE?! You're DEAD?!
Mike: No I'm NOT?!

  • The Matrix, when Tank reappears with the lightning gun trained on Cypher.
  • Played straight in Van Helsing, when the titular character starts transforming into a Werewolf( the only creature that can kill Dracula ), Dracula says just this.
    • Considering ol' Vlad had just recently SENT a werewolf after Van Helsing et all, you'd THINK he might have considered this possibility.
  • A rare heroic version comes from Luke in The Empire Strikes Back:

Vader: No, I am your father!
Luke: No. No. That's not true. That's impossible!
Vader: Search your feelings, you know it to be true!
Luke: Noooooooo! Nooooooo!

    • Luke's Big No nails it. However, quite literal example of this trope is Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith discovering the records from the Jedi Temple where Anakin killed the younglings.
  • Speed 2 when the hero is able to keep the runaway ship from crashing into an oil tanker, causing Willem Dafoe to yell "IMPOSSIBLE!"
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: This is impossible/How can this be...
  • Shanghai Noon: As the sheriff realizes he's been shot fatally THROUGH HIS BADGE by notoriously bad shooter Roy, who also had only one bullet to boot and endured a hail of six-shooter gunfire: "...How the hell did that happen?"
  • In The Wizard of Oz: How could a little girl like you destroy all of my beautiful wickedness?
  • From Flash Gordon:

Galahad: This cannot be! I am sworn to chastity!


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in Soon I Will Be Invincible: Doctor Impossible is a cape-and-mask supervillain who declares his nefarious plot to the world by saying "Greetings, insects!" But in quieter moments he reflects "No matter how good the science is, sooner or later, some Special Forces reject will scale the wall and punch you in the stomach." He only rejoices when there really does appear to be nothing between him and his goal. He's wrong, but doesn't seem amazed by it, or even, after thirteen tries, really surprised. Very disappointed, obviously, but it was always a possibility, and next time he'll win, no doubt about it.
  • Senna Wales, late in the Everworld series.

Senna: It couldn't end here. It couldn't end like this. This was to be my universe. Everworld was mine; it couldn't end like this.

  • Ishamael says something along these lines each of the three times Rand "kills" him in the first three books of the Wheel of Time series. He may have a point, though, since he survives the first two times and is quickly reincarnated the third.
  • Subverted in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (the book) by Mr. Crouch when his house-elf, Winky, is discovered underneath the Dark Mark, having disobeyed his orders. He's really reacting to the much bigger problem of his son returning to his evil ways and fighting the Imperius Curse under which he has placed him, however. Still, he's not really the villain and they weren't his final words, although he is killed later in the book by that very son.
  • In most English translations of the Polish folktale "The Two Babies Cast Into The Water," the father of the two babies (who have been put through the Moses in the Bulrushes treatment by their Wicked Stepmother) screams exactly this trope when the stepmother lies to him that his former wife has given birth not to human children, but to a dog and a cat. (The two children survive their ordeal and grow up to become a Brother-Sister Team, with the sister a little more competent than the brother.)
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar the villain's last words are "You're a Betan! You can't do--"
  • In Septimus Heap, this is about the reaction of DomDaniel when he sees Princess Jenna on top of the Dragon Boat's head when the Dragon Boat is attacking him.
  • At the end of The Falcon Strikes by Mark Ramsay, the hero summons up strength beyond what's normally possible and breaks through a thick, tough door. The villain on the other side is so shocked that he simply says in a matter-of-fact way, "No man can do that."


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Doctor Who episode, "The Parting Of The Ways", the Dalek Emperor declares "I cannot die!" just before Rose destroys him and his army.
    • Davros also declares "I cannot die! I CANNOT DIE!" in "Resurrection of the Daleks". And follows it up with "No! This CANNOT be!" in "Remembrance of the Daleks".
    • As a heroic inversion, the Doctor himself has been known to say this, on occasion:

Rose: That's a black hole.
The Doctor: That's impossible.
Zach: I did warn you.
The Doctor: We're standing under a black hole.
Ida Scott: In orbit.
The Doctor: But we can't be.
Ida: You can see for yourself—we're in orbit.
The Doctor: But we can't be!

      • It can, as long as you're outside the event horizon.
  • In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, one of the main villains was a creature name Grizzaka, who was so arrogant about his immense power that he claimed no one would ever be stronger than him or that he would never be defeated. Needless to say, he received a big shock when, after a huge battle with the rangers, they delivered the fatal blow to him.

Grizzaka:(As his body prepares to explode) IMPOSSIBLE! I AM INVINCIBLE! NO ONE IS STRONGER THAN GRIZZZAKKKAAAA!!!
(He blows up)

    • Another good example of a villain from the Power Rangers franchise who also says such a phrase is - yep, you saw it coming - Goldar from the very first Power Rangers (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, to be exact), who gets as much of a big shock as the above villain when his personal war Zord, Cyclopsis, is overloading and when it is finally destroyed for good by the Ultrazord.

Computerized voice: Overload! Overload! Too many changes! System locked!
Goldar: NO! I don't believe it!
(The Ultrazord blasts Lokar and Cyclopsis)
Goldar: It can't be! ABANDON SHIP! (teleports back to Rita's palace just before Cyclopsis explodes)

      • And, not too much later after that...

Rita: Ohh, I can't stand it!!
Baboo: Ohh, I certainly regret your displeasure!
Squatt: It wasn't my fault! I was asleep!
Finster: You can't blame me! This time it's all Goldar's fault!
Goldar: Never mind that! Rita! Get us out of here before Ultrazord blasts us!
Rita: *laughs* (her palace takes off for the moon) Yes! ...Goldar?
Goldar: Yes, empress?
Rita: DON'T EVER TELL ME WHAT TO DO AGAIN!!!
Goldar: (growls)

Diabolico: This can't be happening!
Carter: Oh, sure it can, Diabolico! [Opens fire; insanely massive barrage of laser-Dakka ensues. Diabolico go boom. He gets better midseason.]

    • Power Rangers Samurai: This is Serrator's reaction to Xandred leaving the Netherworld and coming after him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 4's Big Bad, Adam, was like this all through his final fight with Buffy, unable to comprehend how she is defeating him. His last words are a disbelieving "How can you?"
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Riding With Death, a bad guy had just found out the main hero had survived what should have been a deadly crash. He exclaims, oddly, "This cannot beeeeeeeee? You're deaaaaaaaaaad?"

Mike: No, I'm nooooot.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • An especially funny installment of The Far Side showed a group of Old West pioneers who are completely baffled by an Indian attack involving flaming arrows. ("Hey, they're lighting their arrows! Can they do that?!")


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep once he sees that even though he just took over Terra's body, Terra's armor reanimates through sheer force of WILL and seals the battlefield.

Xehanort: Your body submits, your heart succumbs-- so why does your mind resist?!

Dracula: COMPLETELY impossible!! BEATEN...by a LITTLE GIRL!!

Dracula: What's happening?! NO! It can't possibly be my- *Written Roar*

        • Oddly enough, from the same game, Shanoa herself counts, as well. The fight with Barlowe gives us the simple line "It can't be!" as Barlowe uses the power of Dracula to free the Prince of Darkness from his prison.
    • As the quotes link above shows, Graham and Dimitri also do this in the Sorrow games.
  • At the beginning of Tales of Phantasia, Dhaos shouts "Sonna... sonna bakana!" when the Indignation spell is successfully cast at him; he says it again if you cast it on him during the actual game, at least in his first boss fight. And if you cast it at his cameo in Tales of Eternia as Sekundes, Summon of Time and Tales of Vesperia in the coliseum, he says the same thing.

Dhaos: It can't be!

Ragnos: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! This is IMPOSSSSIBLE! I shall return, Jedi! One day I will return, AND AHNIHILATE YOU ALL!!!"

Axem Red: This isn't possible! We are...invincible!
Axem Pink: Can this be happening to the AXEM RANGERS?

  • In Super Mario Advance, Birdo utters such a phrase in her pink and red forms.
  • Then there's the Shadow Queen of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, who mutters these words after being defeated:

Shadow Queen: Impossible... Unthinkable... How could I... I cannot be beaten by lesser beings such as these... and I had just been reborn into this world... I cannot... I must not... AAAAAIIIIYYYYEEE!!!

  • Vigoro (and Piastol in the Updated Rerelease) of Skies of Arcadia fame does this upon his (or her) defeat, complete with slow motion falling down in defeat. (Although the actual line they give is "How can this be?!")
  • Konishi Mitsuki from The World Ends With You, being the Manipulative Bastard that she is, says this as if you defeat her in battle.
  • M. Bison in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Like... all the time.
  • When the audio is set to Japanese and Juri is defeated in Super Street Fighter IV, she yells sonna bakanaaa!
  • World of Warcraft bosses just love to do this, the hammier the better. One of the classic examples is Nefarian, who upon being killed yells, "This cannot be! I am the Master here! You mortals are nothing to my kind! DO YOU HEAR? NOTHING!"
    • Kael'thas Sunstrider's Last Words is more of a Nothing Can Stop Us Now though.
      • "My demise accomplishes nothing! The Master will have you! You will drown in your own blood! The world shall burn! Aaaghh!"
    • Archimonde in Caverns of Time
      • "WUT!? UNPOSSIBLE!! You face Mogor now! Mogor destroy!"
      • The Lich King utters a very shocked, "Impossible..." after Tirion uses Ashbringer to shatter Frostmourne.
  • In Star Fox 64, both Leon (first encounter) and Pigma (second encounter) of Star Wolf exclaim "This can't be happening!" when defeated.
    • Wolf himself also gets in on the action, yelling "No way! I don't believe it!" and "I... can't... LOOOOOSE!" when he gets shot down.
  • In Sonic Adventure, after you defeat the Egg Viper, Dr. Eggman says "No way! I can't believe this!"
    • This same soundclip is also used when fighting the Egg Walker, and Eggman barks his disbelief every time you hit his machine's legs. Since the four legs are all meant to be hit in quick succession, this leads to "NO WAY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!"
    • And in Shadow the Hedgehog, Black Doom's One-Winged Angel form, Devil Doom, states this when Super Shadow defeats him. Since Black Doom is a Complete Monster, he had it coming anyway.

Black Doom: I-Impossible! I am the supreme being that rules this universe! I AM THE IMMORTAL LIFE FORM! I AM THE ULTIMATE POWER! AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!

    • Also in Sonic Battle, when fighting Dr. Eggman during the Emerl's story. Whenever you beat him he shouts "IT CAN'T BE!"
  • A more famous use of this from Final Fantasy VI on the Floating Continent.

Emperor: Very well, Kefka. So be it. You’ve become useless, and I’m afraid it’s time to end this.
Kefka: *double take*
Emperor: Don’t think of me too badly. As a final comfort, I’ll put you to sleep with your own magic.
Kefka: *erupts into laughter*
Emperor: What's so funny? *pause* No matter. It is only fitting that you die laughing. Firaga! *pause* Flare! *pause*
Kefka: *jumps around, acting jolly*
Emperor: Im... impossible... Why doesn’t the magic strike!! Meltdown!

  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, almost every villain has at least one variation of this to cry upon their defeat, either when the final blow is dealt or when they collapse afterwards:

Garland: "Impossible! I cannot be defeated!"
Emperor: "This...this can't be real..."
Exdeath: "No...this is not happening!"
Kefka: "Inconceivable!"
Ultimecia: "How could this be?"
Kuja: "I will not accept this result!"

    • In fact this trope is so popular, even a couple heroes employ it.

Terra: "It can't end like this!"
Cloud: "How could this happen?"
Zidane: "What? This can't be!"

Arkham: I have the true power of Sparda!
Vergil: Not very classy for someone's dying words.

  • In Jade Empire Emperor Sun Hai says this after you defeat him, exclaiming 'I am a god' just to further seal his fate.
  • Some units in Dawn of War shout things to this effect when routed (also, some characters when their armies are defeated in campaign mode).
    • The Chaos Sorcerer literally says "This cannot be!" when you frag him.
  • Subverted by The Big Bad in Fable II when the Heroic Sociopath ends his rant midword. Complete with laconic sarcasm.
    • Though the player can beat said sociopath to the punch if he likes.
  • In The King of Fighters Maximum Impact, Alba's defeat quote is translated in the dub as "How can this be?!?" Duke, on the other hand, gets a shout of "How can I...!".
    • Earlier in Ko F '94, knocking Rugal out nets you a "Ma... masaka...".
    • Iori Yagami's staple cry of defeat is "Konomama de wa owaranzo!" ("This can't be the end!")
  • In Final Fantasy X, Wakka declares "This can't be happening," after the party views Jyscal's Sphere and learns that Seymour murdered him. He says it again after Auron states "We will protect Yuna from anyone, even a maester" and yet again if the player has Wakka use the Talk command to talk to Seymour during the battle. Later, Lulu declares "This...this cannot be!" when Yunalesca tells the party that there is no way to truly defeat Sin.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, Logos has this as his death quote. The voice acting makes it sound rather silly, to say the least.
  • Legend Entertainment's Shannara gives Brona a speech like that when you attack the Ildatch with the Sword of Shannara:

Brona: What is wrong? My magic! It is gone! I CANNOT DIE AGAIN! I... i... deeeeaaaad...

  • The Kingdom of Loathing's Naughty Sorceress says "This cannot be! This is not possible! It cannot be the case that this is the case!" when you defeat her second form.
  • Uka Uka in Crash Bandicoot 3 uses this after you beat him and Cortex for the real ending.

Uka Uka: No... It cannot be! Not a prisoner of time again! AAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHH!

Tess Conway: Impossible! I'm immortal! ...I'm immortal!

Tanya: No! This can't be happening! I...

    • Also, even more spectacularly, Cherdenko gets a different one in each campaign.
  • In Nethack, if you sufficiently anger your deity, he will smite you with a bolt of lightning. If you survive, he will throw a wide-angle disintegration beam at you. If you still survive, he will simply say "I believe it not!"
  • No! It cannot be! NOOOOOOOO!
  • In Fire Emblem, every chapter has a boss which is stronger than most units. However, not every boss is completely vital to the plot, some are just random people of high rank in opposing armies. Every boss has a death quote, so there's a countless number of random bosses who use some variations of "This Cannot Be!" when defeated.
  • Champions Online:

Teleios: This Cannot Be!! I am Teleios! I- I cannot fail!

    • And then he explodes.
  • Barbarossa's death speech in Valkyrie Profile.
    • A heroic example:

Lorenta (after her DME hits 0): No! This Cannot Be!!

  • Uttered in Legend of Dragoon by Rose when, at the end of Disc 3, "the emperor" reveals himself to be Zieg, another dragoon from the old, old days. Of course, this isn't the only "cannot be" moment LOD offers.
  • Shiro Tagachi, after dying in Guild Wars Factions.
  • In the remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver, Clair screams this after the Master in Dragon's Den reveals that you passed a test that even she didn't. This was actually to teach you a lesson as she won't give the Rising Badge to you even after you beat her, and has to be ordered by the master (her grandfather) to hand it over.
    • In Red/Blue and the remakes of it, your rival will say this after he loses the final battle.
    • Ghetsis in Pokémon Black and White pretty much loses his mind over this very trope. After N is beaten, foiling Ghetsis' plan that took years to plan and impliment, Ghetsis seems in denial over the fact the it happened. After he himself is beaten, he's left ranting about how he is "perfect" and it's impossible that his plan has failed.
      • It happens to him AGAIN in the sequel, only this time it's even worse. N offering him forgiveness and trying to tell him why he has been wrong this whole time only sends him further into it to the point where he gives himself heart failure and we later find out he's gone catatonic.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Battle of Aces has Material-L, Fate's Chaotic Evil Twin who tends to scream the Japanese equivalent of "Bakanaaa~!" shortly before she ceases to exist.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom; After you've defeated Deimos he proclaims "No! No! No! This is impossible! I am destined to conquer, to rule! How can I have possibly been beaten by whelps like you?"
  • Adventure Quest Worlds has Chaos Shogun Kitsune, the fourth Chaos Lord, who is confident that the hero will have no idea how to deal with illusion, trickery and lies. Naturally, of course, in the final cutscene of the Yokai Island storyline, he receives a big shock when, while he's running around invisible leaving the hero trying to figure out how to defeat what he/she can't even see and rapidly swinging the Hanzamune Dragon Koi Blade around trying to hit him, the hero accidentally tears open a rift leading to the Yokai world in front of him. Unable to stop in time, Kitsune screams, "No! Not like this! It can't end like this! I won't go back to the Yokai world!", lets out a Big No, and gets sucked into the rift, after which the hero closes it back up with the Hanzamune Blade, sealing Kitsune in the rift.
    • Also, during the cutscene after solving the mystery at the Sleuthhound Inn, the hero and Curry, the inn's manager, get a big shock when, after taking off the mask of the randomly-selected culprit they apprehended that was responsible for causing the furniture to come alive, they see that the culprit is none other than, in disguise... a magical armoire called the Harmoire.

Hero: But... how is this possible... you're an absolute closet case!
Harmoire: That I am! I had to transform into a human in order to control the furniture with the magically infused weapon! Do you believe how hard it is to hold anything without opposable thumbs?! Now it's time for you to see the durability of an all-oak armoire!

    • Also, Spork-ion's text after defeating him in the Dragon Koi Tourmanent: "...How is this possible? No utensil is more powerful than the Spork! One of these days, I'll be sure to deliver your just desserts!"
    • Maximilian Lionfang is sure that he destroyed the Spirit of Frostval when he kicks the snow globe containing her out of the hero's hands. But, needless to say, he receives a huge shock when he hears her voice and realizes that she survived the breaking of the snow globe.

Lionfang: WHAT?! IMPOSSIBLE! I destroyed you!

    • Gravelyn, oddly enough, counts as well. She reacts with "Im... im... impossible!" when Noxus and Vordred take control of all of her undead soldiers.
      • And soon enough, it's Noxus' turn. He's quite the Magnificent Bastard who turned all of her undead minions to his side, took her throne, and enslaved her. Almost everything up to that point has gone according to his plans. Then Chuckles attacks him out of nowhere and frees her, which is something he didn't expect. He receives a big shock and states this trope because he controlled all of her undead but couldn't accept that Chuckles, of all undead, couldn't be controlled by him. And that's because Chuckles himself was created by Gravelyn, not Noxus.
    • Imagine Vordred's surprise when he realizes that Artix was right about the Spirit Orbs that were once enslaved and are now free not being able to be re-enslaved as the Spirit Orbs cause his armor of skulls to self-destruct within him and destroy the ShadowReaper of Doom. And even better. Guess what word Vordred himself says...
  • Also, villains in other Artix Entertainment games such as Dragon Fable seem quite fond of using this trope when defeated by the hero. For example:

Drakath: NO!!!! IMPOSSIBLE!
Hero: You say that word a lot.

    • Necromantic Anti-Villain Vayle counts as well. When she realizes that Artix recognizes her as the same Vayle he saved during their childhood, she gets a big surprise and reacts with such a phrase as "Impossible! This cannot be that little boy I met during the..."
  • Several Mega Man X villains are quite fond of using this trope when they're defeated, such as Vile in Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X when he is defeated by X in Sigma Stage 1 and he screams "Noooo... I can't lose to X...!" before exploding.
    • Also, Sigma's last words in Mega Man X8:

Sigma: (being defeated) Impossible! How... could you... You couldn't... Destroy... the old... world... new age... Hrrgh! NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo!!! (then he blows up)

  • In Guilty Gear, Justice sometimes screams "IMPOSSIBLE!" when defeated.
    • On one of I-No's Guilty Gear XX story routes, after defeating Dizzy, I-No talks about "preparing a special welcome" for her friends, the Jellyfish Pirates. Naturally, Dizzy, not about to allow her to hurt her friends, unleashes a massive attack on I-No much to her surprise, burning her to a cinder as she hopelessly attempts to cover herself from the huge attack.

I-No: (being obliterated by Dizzy's attack) What is this power?! My body... it's burning! Impossible! I'm I-No! I can't die! Someone! Please...hel...p...

    • I-No also mutters such a phrase after being bested by May.

I-No: How could I have lost... Lost! To a little kid!

  • BlazBlue has quite a few "cannot be" moments as well. For example, whenever Bang Shishigami is hit, he sometimes screams "How can this be?!?!?!"
    • Also, in Noel's Gag Reel in Continuum Shift, Carl gets shocked when he sees Hazama eating the Kagutsuchi puffer fish simmered in peppers and spices as cooked by Lethal Chef Noel herself, which wiped out every other member of the Blaz Blue cast and left them puking in a mess so disgusting it had to be censored.

Carl: Im...possible! How can you possibly eat THAT?!

    • Hakumen counts as well, as he has this reaction when Jubei informs him of Terumi's return.
  • After you beat her in System Shock 2, SHODAN says a calmer, more elaborate version of such a quote:

I don't understand... how could you have done this? You weren't meant to be so important... and now you think to destroy me? How dare you, insect? How dare you interrupt my ascendance? You are nothing. A wretched bag of flesh... what are you, compared to my magnificence?

  • In Rosenkreuzstilette, Iris Sepperin, a little girl of a Complete Monster in her own right who is so arrogant about her absolute power and unparalelled brains that she claims to have transcended humanity and have become a god, panics in a "This Cannot Be!" fashion when Spiritia destroys her Iris Machine.

Iris: Impossible! Where did all that energy come from!?

    • Then, after Tia defeats her in the final battle, she mutters, "To think I'd lose to a single mage fighting by herself..." Of course, she doesn't realize that Tia actually won with the love and support that her friends gave her, and that it was because Iris couldn't believe in others nor love her fellow man that she lost.
    • Also, when Grolla in her alternate mode confronts Iris in the final stage, Iris becomes shocked as she can't believe that Grolla is standing on such holy grounds. Her reaction? "...Impossible. There's no way a simple commoner can set foot here..." And, after Grolla kicks Iris' ass in the final battle, as she moves in to finish her once and for all, just before Iris self-destructs her palace and gets away and Grolla escapes as well...

Iris: No... this... can't be...!
Grolla: Die.
Iris: ...I won't let that happen!

    • Spiritia, oddly enough, counts as well. She says this when, after coming across Raimund Seyfarth's Devil Scythe Grassense, she realizes that Graf Michael Sepperin brought him Back from the Dead as The Grim Reaper.

Lilli: You're kidding, right? He's a ghost!?
Spiritia: I can't believe it...! The Count is even using the forbidden arts!?
Lilli: This is freaky...!

  • Captain Vul's reaction in Kirby Super Star when he finds out that Main Cannon #2 has been destroyed by a certain cute pink spud.

Axe Knight: Ahh! Main Cannon #2 was destroyed!
Mace Knight: The cannon's a wreck! We can't use it!
Captain Vul: What?! How could this be?

    • Interestingly, the above reaction was used in its remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, as the reaction he used in the original game was said as "Holy cow! What happened?" It was a simple mistake that they corrected in the remake, which is supposed to be funny, to say the least.
    • And in Revenge of the King in the same game, Dedede reacts like this as well after Kirby defeats the Grand Wheelie in The Revenge stage.

King Dedede: Unthinkable! He beat that one too?!
Bandanna Dee: Kirby is approaching here, your majesty!
King Dedede: Cursed pink lump! I can't believe it!
Bandanna Dee: Great King, pull yourself together!

Ganondorf: The great evil king Ganondorf ... beaten by this kid?!

Doctor Doom: "FAILURE IS BENEATH DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!"

Malefor: You can't defeat me! I am eternal!


Webcomics[edit | hide]

Carson: I've learned that just because something is "impossible", doesn't mean it can't happen.

  • Used by the good guys in this The B Movie Comic strip.
  • This was the reaction of the Fae Princeling in Tales of the Questor when discovered to his horror that he called The Wild Hunt on Quentyn. In that world, it is specifically forbidden by Lord Oberon himself to do so on a Raccoonan and to make matters worse, Quentyn's Skunk Stripe means he's favored by the White Stag, and such people cannot be hunted either. So, the Princeling is in trouble with two offenses simultaneously.
  • Eight Bit Theater plays this hilariously straight in #1179.


Web Original[edit | hide]

Lear: "But this was the design! I have given my life to it! God has brought me to this moment!"


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Dr. Drakken: "It is impossible!"
Ron Stoppable: "Actually, it's possible. Kim Possible. But that's a common mistake."

  • He doesn't actually say anything, but when Matrix dents Megabyte's chest with a punch in Re Boot's season 3 finale, the look on Megabyte's face needs no words.
  • On Jonny Quest, in the episode "The Curse of Anubis," the villainous Kareem has the line, "No! It cannot be! The spirit of Anubis, walking, following me!"
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Members Only", the Villain Of The Week Mascumax says this word for word when brought down by the girls' combined attack, Ferocious Flaming Feline.
  • Birdman episode "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness". Right after Birdman has his solar powers renewed by the nearby passage of a comet, the title villain says "No! It cannot be!"
  • Perhaps one of the best examples of this trope was seen in Samurai Jack episode "Jack and The Assassins", when Jack defeated the sword-wielding leader of said Elite Mecha-Mooks by enhancing the power of his ancient sword with the aid of the gods.

Lead Assassin: (as he is sliced in half by Jack's enhanced sword) Unbelievable.
(He explodes)

Lord Darkar: Noooooooo!!! This can't be happening!! Nooooooooooooo!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Many, or some, villains are quite fond of using this trope when bested by the Turtles. Especially the Big Bad, the Shredder.
    • For example, in the finale of Season 3 of the 2003 cartoon, Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder, gets a big shock when the Utrom council finds him guilty for all the crimes he had committed across the galaxy in his many aliases, including but not limited to his Oroku Saki and Shredder aliases. He screams, "NO! I am the Shredder! I am invincible!" just before the Utroms give him the punishment of banishing him to his new home on the ice asteroid belt surrounding the frozen planet Mor Tal, where he does very little but let loose a Big No because he is not too thrilled to be trapped on his new home.
    • Sh'Okanabo, one of the main villains of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward, is another good example; for example he receives a big shock when, in the episode "The Freaks Come Out at Night...", his plan to take over Earth and cover it with his Kanabo drones backfires on him. All thanks to the Sun. And then he goes back to his spaceship and throws a temper tantrum complaining that all of his efforts have been in vain and saying that Earth could sustain his race for centuries if not for the accursed sun.

Sh'Okanabo: This is impossible! The Kanabo have thrived before on countless planets under countless suns!

    • In the episode "Timing is Everything", the Shredder gets a big shock when he sees for himself how much more skilled the Turtles have gotten since their first battle with him, as well as how powerful Sh'Okanabo is in overwhelming and sending his Foot Soldiers back to the Shredder's original time period.

Shredder: Impossible! You are not this powerful!
Raphael: Dude, we put the ka-bosh on ya a long time ago. You're history! (he and Leonardo kick the Shredder back to his original time period)

    • The 1987 show had this when they defeated Krang in his giant robot body:

Krang: I am Krang, the all powerful! I have never been defeated!

Vlad Plasmius (post massive beatdown): This isn't possible! You're an idiot! An idiot!
Jack Fenton (smugly): Maybe so, but I'm the idiot who beat you.

Aardvark: I'll say it in two words: Im...possible!