Created By: MarqFJA on April 7, 2011 Last Edited By: rudyards on May 11, 2011
Troped

Super Toughness

The power of unambiguously superhuman durability.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Tags: Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples, Rolling Updates, Seen It a Million Times, How Did We Miss This One?.

Redirects: Super Tough

The power of unambiguously superhuman durability, ranging from being "merely" capable of taking a dozen gunshot wounds and keeping walking like they were nothing, to getting hit by a train car and only suffering a few shallow cuts and minor bruises, to having enough explosives to take out a skyscraper strapped to your chest, have them detonate, and get a few second degree burns and maybe a couple of broken ribs for your trouble [[hottip:*: Well, assuming that you don't get buried under enough rubble that you suffocate to death, that is]].

This is a Required Secondary Power to be able to do anything with Super Strength; without it, Newton's Second Law would result in you breaking your hand every time you threw a super-punch, and every bone would snap under the tension of lifting a car.

Nigh-Invulnerability is this trope's big brother, where almost nothing is able to harm the character. Compare Made of Iron, where an explicitly non-superpowered character can take a lot more punishment that is normally possible for no apparent or explained reason.

Often takes Nigh-Invulnerability's place in the Flying Brick package for "lower-tier" superhumans. Sometimes a side-effect of particularly adaptive Healing Factors. Most Super Soldiers possess it. Combine it with Super Strength, and you're likely to end up with the Implacable Man.

Examples

General

Anime and Manga
  • In Ghost in the Shell, Mokoto Kusanagi, courtesy of bionics.
  • In InuYasha, Yokai and Hanyou can take more damage than a human can.
  • In Macross, lampshaded by Bretai:
    "I am not built as weakly as you are"
  • This is basically Shioon's power in The Breaker.

Comic Books
  • Rogue of the X-Men, when she was a Flying Brick (due to a certain instance of power absorption), was usually tough but not fully invulnerable. One comic had her taking a bullet to the head, which knocked her out (whereas such things would simply bounce off of other Flying Bricks).

Film
  • In the case of Robocop, this arguably is his main superpower, with super strength and justified Improbable Aiming Skills as his secondary ones.
  • Not sure if King Kong or other Daikaiju count or not, since relative to size, human weapons are rather puny.
  • The Terminator, especially in its debut film. It's not indestructible, it takes damage throughout the film. Actually getting what's left of it to stop is another story.

Live-Action TV
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer gives us Buffyverse vamps, Slayers and many species of demons. All of them can take quite a beating, ranging from being able to take a full-force beatdown from someone with super strength to needing a specific way to be killed.
  • Firefly gives us the Reavers. They're basically rape-obsessed Space Zombies. Fighting them just isn't done, and a pretty weak one beat Janye.

Video Games
  • Master Chief of Halo fame is a Spartan-II who can survive atmospheric reentry and subsequent impact with the ground almost unaided. The fact that he didn't turn into a squishy soup like mixture is a testament to his Super Toughness.
  • [PROTOTYPE] gives us Alex Mercer. He isn't unkillable, but multiple RPGs, choppers, tanks and zombies aren't going to do the job unless the player is playing the game wrong.

Real Life
  • It's now believed that Martial-Art experts actually develop denser bone structure with training, allowing them to break objects with their bare hands with reduced skeletal injury.

Tags: Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples, Rolling Updates, Seen It a Million Times, How Did We Miss This One?.

Community Feedback Replies: 56
  • April 7, 2011
    Ekuran
    About time someone made this.
  • April 7, 2011
    Rolf
    Superman. Theres very few people or things that can hurt him, and games that had superman usually sucked because of it. :P
  • April 7, 2011
    Ekuran
    Naw. Supes is Nigh Invulnerable.
  • April 7, 2011
    Speedball
    The Terminator, especially in its debut film. It's not indestructible, it takes damage throughout the film. Actually getting what's left of it to stop is another story.
  • April 8, 2011
    MarqFJA
    About the Halo example... Is Master Chief's feat done without his Power Armor being the main reason he actually survives?
  • April 8, 2011
    Ekuran
    He's hard enough to survive impact, which will get transfered through kinetic energy into his body. If he wasn't a Super Soldier, he'd basically be soup in his armor.
  • April 8, 2011
    dalek955
    This is Nigh Invulnerability and Made Of Iron. Between them they cover all the different levels you mention, albeit not in the same words. We didn't miss this one.
  • April 8, 2011
    batgirl1
    To clarify the Superman example: Golden Age Supes was orinially meant to be this. From the intro: "Nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin". Implication: a bursting shell or anything stronger would leave a scratch. (I could be wrong, but since they tried to pass his Super Strength off as being reasonable by comparing him to ants, it makes sense they would've been aiming for this route.)
  • April 8, 2011
    Elihu
    ^^Seconded. Already covered.
  • April 8, 2011
    Ekuran
    Nigh Invulnerability-Near-impossible to hurt.

    Made Of Iron-Character is WAY tougher than is possible in Real Life, and there is no fictional reason either.

    Super Toughness- Character is harder to hurt than Real Life people, but for a reason.
  • April 8, 2011
    Elihu
    How does Implacable Man fit into this?
  • April 9, 2011
    MarqFJA
    Well, a high enough Super Toughness (in comparison to the current threats/hazards, anyway) combined with sufficient Super Strength (to quickly take care of any physical obstacles) can result in Implacable Man; if you're tough enough to take direct gunshots and only suffer shallow wounds, a gunman firing away with a Desert Eagle would be a slight annoyance - unless you're unlucky enough that your Super Toughness does not include vital parts like the eyes, inner cavities like the mouth, et cetera.

    ^^ I'd like to add that Nigh Invulnerability might vary from one individual case to another, but the general minimum is that you need the equivalent firepower of enough explosives to take out an entire city to have a good chance at taking them out - though not necessarily kill them outright.

    As it is, I've noticed quite some misuse of Nigh Invulnerability and Made Of Iron for cases where it's actually Super Toughness that applies instead.
  • April 9, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In the Comic Book The American Way New American is invulnerable but has normal pain receptors - so for example if he gets shot it doesn't injure him but it does hurt like hell. If he's subjected to enough pain he'll die even though his skin won't be broken.
  • April 9, 2011
    Deboss
    This sounds like Nigh Invulnerable.
  • April 9, 2011
    Ekuran
    That's almost impossible to hurt (ie. a nuke might slow them down). Super Toughness is about people who aren't near-impossible to kill, just tougher than real people.
  • April 10, 2011
    MarqFJA
    It's still Nigh Invulnerable, just a deconstruction that shows what happens if it isn't combined with Required Secondary Powers. Super Toughness isn't about "superhuman resistance to pain", it's about "superhuman resistance to physical damage".

    And no potholing the category headers, please.
  • April 10, 2011
    c0ry
    This is a Required Secondary Power to be able to do anything with Super Strength; without it, Newton's Second Law would result in you breaking your hand every time you threw a super-punch, and every bone would snap under the tension of lifing a car.
  • April 11, 2011
    MarqFJA
    I was wondering... Do robots really count as in-Real Life example?
  • April 11, 2011
    Ekuran
    They're literally made of metal. And military robots can survive things that would kill a human, like a 100 foot fall or something.
  • April 11, 2011
    MarqFJA
    A few problems with that approach:

    • Not all metals are as strong as, say, industrial/military-grade steel.

    • Super Toughness is supposed to be specific to characters (or any sufficiently close approximation to such, like humanoid robots). Which to the next two points...

    • I have heard of no Real Life android/gynoid - which is still an experimental field of robotics - that is actually made of particularly strong metal. They pretty much could be totalled by any force capable of killing a human being.

    • All military robots that I know of are distinctly nonhumanoid in shape; they're technically remote-controlled military vehicles that may happen to possess humanoid appendages like "arms" for manipulation.

    Any counterarguments?


    BTW, does my addition to the tail end of the Prototype example's description look okay?
  • April 11, 2011
    Ekuran
    I particularly meant the industrial grade steel non-humanoid remote-controlled military vehicles.

    Let's not be humanoidocentric here now.

    Edit: Point2^Oh...
    Seems fine.
  • April 12, 2011
    MarqFJA
    So we are in agreement that, pending the emergence of superhumanly durable people/humanoid robots (preferably ones with "strong" AI) in the future, the Real Life examples section should be axed, right?
  • April 12, 2011
    Ekuran
    Unless you can count people that have an advanced prosthetic that may be more durable than regular human flesh, then yes.
  • April 13, 2011
    MarqFJA
    Don't count, trope implicitly requires the entire body to be affected, unless deconstruction about Required Secondary Powers is in effect.
  • April 13, 2011
    Deboss
    What about Achilles Heel?
  • April 13, 2011
    Ghilz
    Alex Mercer falls under nighInvulnerable though. That trope covers people who can regenerate from anything just like how Mercer can regenerate from A Nuke
  • April 13, 2011
    MarqFJA
    I wouldn't know precisely, since I don't own the game nor have played it. However, from what I hear around...

    1) He at least initially starts with Super Toughness, and eventually graduates to Nigh Invulnerability.

    2) His Healing Factor requires consumption of bio-organic matter in order to kick in. In the example you mentioned, his gooey remains have to take over a bird that attempted to devour them before they start regenerating.

    Can anyone who has actually played the game confirm if that's true?
  • April 13, 2011
    Ekuran
    Yeah, after he eats Elizabeth and her dragon he gets tough enough to survive a nuke, or at least regenerate from like a pound of flesh.
  • April 14, 2011
    MarqFJA
    But does he still requires biomass consumption?
  • April 14, 2011
    Ekuran
    No bird = No Alex regeneration. If Blackwatch found his few pounds of flesh they would have burninated him out of existence. So yes, he needs biomass.
  • April 15, 2011
    MarqFJA
    So, not quite the traditional sort of Nigh Invulnerability.

    Does this look launchable?

    PS: I have no idea what changed after Unstoppable Avengers made his edit to the OP. Does anyone notice anything?
  • April 15, 2011
    Rolf
    No idea. I can see why people dont like their orginial posts being edited.

    I hope history gets implmented soon.
  • April 16, 2011
    MarqFJA
    I don't mind if it's just something minor or helpful like spelling/grammar fixing, adding an example, etc. I just like to know what the change is.
  • April 16, 2011
    Ekuran
    Bumping for launch, cause this looks good.
  • April 20, 2011
    Speedball
    Yeah, I got another example. Rogue of the X-men, when she was a Flying Brick, was usually tough but not fully invulnerable. One comic had her taking a bullet to the head, which knocked her out (whereas such things would simply bounce off of other Flying Bricks).
  • April 21, 2011
    MarqFJA
    I just got an idea on how to handle listing all comic book superheroes with Super Toughness: The ones whose Super Toughness is simply part of the standard Flying Brick package and does not get much spotlight get listed by name only in one entry (or a Comic Book subpage, if it gets too long). The ones whose case is more like Rogue's, or whose Super Toughness has an unusual trait in some way, get their own entries.

    How does that sound?
  • April 22, 2011
    randomsurfer
    That turns them into X Just X though, doesn't it?
  • April 22, 2011
    MarqFJA
    Hmmm, maybe. So we only go with the second part, then?
  • April 22, 2011
    jaytee
    I still don't see how this isn't Made Of Iron. The Same But More Specific.

    The only post explaining the difference basically said it is Made Of Iron, but with justification. Other posts seem to indicate that this YKTTW goes beyond Made Of Iron and approaches Nigh Invulnerabilty.

    I don't think this is ready yet-- it just asking for too much overlap with the other "super tough" tropes.
  • April 23, 2011
    MarqFJA
    Made Of Iron explicitly describes itself as "Character is WAY tougher than is possible in Real Life, and there is no fictional reason either". On the other end, Nigh Invulnerability bills itself as, to quote its laconic description, "near-impossible to hurt". This creates a gross ignorance of a vast number of characters who do have a "super durability" power (thus disqualifying them for Made Of Iron) but are far from Nigh Invulnerable.

    Spider-Man character Venom is a good example. Sustained small arms fire doesn't do much effective damage to him, but heavier firepower or relatively low-level Super Strength can quickly bring him down. And that's not mentioning his twin Achilles Heels: fire and high-frequency sonic waves.
  • April 29, 2011
    Ekuran
  • April 29, 2011
    Earnest
    ^^ I like the above distinction.
  • April 29, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Film:

    Manga and Anime:
    • In Ghost In The Shell, Mokoto Kusanagi, courtesy of bionics.
    • In Inu Yasha, Yokai and Hanyou can take more damage than a human can.
    • In Macross, lampshaded by Bretai:
      "I am not built as weakly as you are"

    Real Life:
    • It's now believed that Katate experts actually develop denser bone structure with training, allowing them to break objects with their bare hands with reduced skeletal injury.
  • April 29, 2011
    jaytee
    Ok, so I understand the distinction now, but the examples list is still all over the place. Stuff like Reavers or the Real Life martial artists are Implacable Man. Master Chief sounds more like Nigh Invulnerability crossed with Gameplay And Story Segregation.
  • April 29, 2011
    jaytee
    Basically this page is going to need constant supervision to make sure it doesn't get overloaded with Made Of Iron and Nigh Invulnerability and that it doesn't just get potholed for anyone the troper likes.
  • April 30, 2011
    MarqFJA
    ^^ Well, I wouldn't know about the Reavers, since I never watched Firefly. If you're certain that they don't qualify, you're free to take them out.

    As for Master Chief, the entry explicitly clarifies that the character survives due to a combination of Powered Armor protection and innate Super Toughness. Without the former, he'd be a smear on the ground; without the latter, he'd be soup inside his otherwise unaffected armor, since it does not dampen the kinetic force of the impact by any meaningful margin.

    ^Yeah, it would need to. I'm not sure why we can't simply revamp Made Of Iron into Super Toughness and make the original Made Of Iron an Internal Subtrope, however.
  • May 2, 2011
    Ekuran
    Maybe you should name it Super Tough for convenience's sake, or at least have it as a redirect.
  • May 5, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^I think a Made Of Iron revamp sounds like the best solution, actually. The main problem I have is not so much that this isn't tropeable, but that the titles of this and the other strength/durability tropes do not clearly indicate the differences between them. For instance, without carefully reading each trope page, it would make sense to describe Superman as Nigh Invulnerable, Made Of Iron or Super Tough.

    Should changing Made Of Iron be taken up with the Trope Repair Shop?

    Or alternatively, could we come up with a Sliding Scale-type trope? Level 1 would be something like Badass Normal, level 5 or 10 would be Nigh Invulnerability? What do you think?
  • May 6, 2011
    Ekuran
    Yep, we need a sliding scale on toughness. In fact, we probably need one for any kind of physical power, since Super Weight is only for power in general.
  • May 6, 2011
    thewriter
    • Piper from Charmed seemed to gain this in later seasons. She survived taking fireballs and energy balls straight to the stomach despite those attacks instantly setting everyone else on fire if they were hit with them. She also had the power to blow stuff up and the times that those powers were used against her, she survived with minimal damage.
  • May 6, 2011
    MarqFJA
    @jaytee: No objections here. Knock yourself out.

    @Ekuran: Agreed.
  • May 6, 2011
    jaytee
    Hoo boy... I could work on a YKTTW for the sliding scale of physical power later tonight or this weekend maybe, but I've never worked on a big project like this. Should we go to the forums and try to get the Trope Repair Shop involved, since it'd probably require work on the existing tropes?
  • May 9, 2011
    MarqFJA
    That would be a good idea.
  • May 9, 2011
    Ekuran
    I've decided to make it.
  • May 10, 2011
    Ekuran
    Bump.
  • May 11, 2011
    MarqFJA
    Who the hell gave Tippy Toe Zombie the go-ahead to unilaterally launch this article? He didn't even bother to actually add the text to the page, or at least posting a comment to the effect of "launching this".

    In any case, I just made the proper article. Can someone help with adding the examples to the works their linking to?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3op78at74vtjobrk1nuhjftq