John: "We've never found a casualty at a Hulk site before, so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised."
This is when a character, lets call her Alice, starts acting recklessly in ways that should cause the deaths of others through her negligence, or even intentional effort, yet the story goes out of its way to show us no one got hurt. This is generally done to keep Alice from becoming unlikeable because of the results of her careless behavior. For example, if Alice topples a Godzilla sized
monster in the heart of a city, it won't kill a building full of people, or even lead to an Inferred Holocaust
, instead someone will comment that thanks to the economic recession the monster went down on an abandoned building.
In cases where Non-Lethal Warfare
is also enforced, anyone Alice shoots down will always escape via parachute and the like. Or if Alice goes on a destructive car chase (especially one where the police are chasing the protagonist) the story will go out of its way to show people climbing out of wrecked cars unscathed.
Alternately, it can be used to keep a Token Evil Teammate
evil while denying them a chance to actually do evil things. Alice will poison drinks, drain brake fluid, or even lunge at someone with a knife, but the target always manages to spill the drink, bike to work, and use a Coincidental Dodge
. If Alice really does get her murderous way, it will be on an unintended target who deserves it, like the Asshole Victim
. She may even end up facing a Self-Disposing Villain
or another bad guy who will do the dirty work.
This is similar to No Endor Holocaust
, but rather than become Canon Discontinuity
it's explicitly built into the story. Likewise, Non-Lethal Warfare
attempts to avoid this trope by having all violence be patently non-lethal. See also Could Have Been Messy
, where character's actions don't cause physical harm in order to avoid the dreaded PG rating. Comparatively, Bloodless Carnage
has actual death and mayhem without much blood.
Can involve Set Swords to Stun
Anime and Manga
- Monkey D. Luffy in One Piece has a lot of techniques that allow him to strike a lot of people at once and cause a lot of property damage but makes sure that no one dies at his hands. This reaches its peak in one story where Luffy storms a Marine fort: Towards the beginning of his one-man siege, the Marines report approximately 6,000 of their men have been incapacitated by Luffy, but not a single one has died.
- Invader Zim has the titular Zim plan to destroy / enslave the Earth and humanity, and is typically very dismissive of human (or any life). Yet throughout the series he never really manages to kill anyone despite going on at least one huge rampage with a destructive giant killer robot.
- Happens all the time in Megas XLR. Collateral damage is indicated to have happened to a clearly-labeled "Conveniently-Empty Building" or "We Were Going to Demolish This Tomorrow." Slightly averted with the contextual button "Destroy the World" (and its counterpart, "Destroy the World More").
- You'd think Pokémon battles would involve lots of collateral damage (just look at the move lists, and possibly the Accidental Nightmare Fuel page for examples). I mean, earthquake, fissure, hyper beam, dig...and that's just what I remember from the first gen (the only gen I played). Awkward Zombie has some nice comics involving collateral damage from Pokemon battles, if looking for a page image (or an image link). I know there's an example of Earthquake (on the Battle Subway), and Hyper Beam (missing the Pokemon and hitting the city beyond it).
- This is hilariously subverted in the episode of Powerpuff Girls "Live and Let Dynamo". The professor creates a robot called Powerpuff Dynamo to help the girls fight crime, and insists the girls use it to fight off a monster attacking Townsville. After a very lengthy battle and a LOT of collateral damage, instead of the Mayor thanking them, he shouts at them for destroying the entire city.
- Transformers Animated and the franchise in general: lots of property damage, but few if any humans ever seem to die, and the cities aren't completely paraliyzed with terror everytime there's a Decepticon/Autobot confrontation.