Explaining Your Weakness
Someone tells someone else their weakness or how to beat them


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-02 10:58:58 sponsor: Tifforo (last reply: 2011-09-07 08:54:39)

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"Go ahead--just try to grab me by the tail!"
-- Bowser, Super Mario 64

Do We Have This One??

Sometimes, someone just tells their enemy exactly how to beat them. Needless to say, this usually doesn't turn out well for them.

This can happen for several reasons. It can be a slip of the tongue: "You should just give up. I've been in hundreds of fights and only lost once, and that was to a guy who knew about my blind right eye." It can be a boast: "the only way you can possibly beat me is if you get back to my lair on foot faster than I can in a rocket to get to my MacGuffin before me, and there's no way you could do that!" It can also be a boast by someone who thinks they're protected by a prophesy that relies on exact words if they don't realize that repeating its exact words will reveal the hole in them: "I can never be defeated by anyone who walks on two legs!" When said by a villain, it can be a taunt made against someone not expected to be able to make use of the information: "The only way anyone can prove that I did it is to dig up the murder weapon in Sam's yard... and no one that learns about that will live long enough to tell!" It can be a desperate outburst: "No! Don't keep hitting me there! Anywhere but there!" It can be something said to someone trusted by the speaker (deservedly or not): "It's a good thing no one knows that I'm weak to Phlebotinum." It can be a hint given by someone sporting who wants their opponent to be able to put up a challenge: "come on and take advantage of your superior speed already!" It can be something said by someone who (mistakenly) believes their opponent won't engage in dishonorable behavior: "Don't go hiding snipers in the bushes where I can't see them to shoot me during our duel!" It can be a hint dropped by a trainer during sparring with a student in order to encourage the student to be perceptive and figure the weakness out: "you should watch for the part of the motion during which I'm vulnerable." It can even be revealed by someone who wants to lose but doesn't want it to be too obvious that they're losing on purpose.

The trope can have several purposes. The use of this trope long in advance of the actual exploitation of the weakness can be a form of foreshadowing. In a game, an adversary dropping information about their weakness can be a hint to the player.

When done intentionally so that the character can be taken down in case they are mind-controlled or whatever, it's Kryptonite Ring. Since revealing one's strengths can implicitly reveal one's weaknesses, this trope overlaps with Explaining Your Power to the Enemy. For a particular type of weakness that could be exploited after it's discovered or revealed, see Attack Its Weak Point. See also: Just Between You and Me.


Examples

  • In Super Mario 64, during the first fight with Bowser, Bowser dares you to try to grab him by the tail and boasts that "You'll never be able to swing me around! A wimp like you won't throw me out of here!" The tail is the only vulnerable part of his body; grabbing it will immobilize him. The only way to beat him is by swinging him by the tail and throwing him out from the platform you fight him on and onto a bomb.
    • In the DS version, he's even more explicit: "Go ahead--just try to grab me by the tail! You'll never be able to swing ME around! A wimp like you could never throw me out by circling the touch screen. Never!"
  • In the film Unbreakable, someone brags about how much he knows about the building he works in and mentions that if a fire started in a certain part of the building, it would be devastating. He doesn't realize that he's speaking to a plotter who wants to put large numbers of people in danger to see if anyone has super-powers that would allow them to survive.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, a being who wants to engage you in a riddle match mentions that he was never very good with numbers. When picking which riddle to tell him, one of the ones that can foil him is one that appears to require adding and multiplying numbers. He panics as he tries to make the mental computations and gives up. Ironically, the riddle doesn't actually require any math in order to solve it.
  • One episode of Freakazoid had Freakazoid stupidly tell Guiterriz how to beat him.
Guitierrez: So... graphite bars charged with negative ions. That is your weakness, eh?
Freakazoid: That, or poo gas.
Guitierrez: You know, it's a funny thing. Nobody likes poo gas, my friend. Blagh!
  • Freakazoid also helps Guttierez build a cage for himself, then is surprised when he's caught in it.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Pyro tells Magneto (his enemy at the time before his Face Heel Turn) how his powers work, that they require a flame source to work.
  • Played With in Justice League Unlimited. Galatea informs Supergirl that Boredom is her Kryptonite. Then she corrects herself, pointing out that Kryptonite is her Kryptonite, but that's not the point she was getting at. Justified, in this case, because Galatea is a clone of Supergirl, and thus Supergirl already knows her strengths and weaknesses.
  • In certain chapters in Naruto, most of the zombies reanimated by Kabuto want their former comrades to defeat them so they tell their enemies their abilities and weaknesses mid-combat.
  • Family Guy in the episode where Peter steals the Popemobile; the guy guarding it tells Peter that "even the slightest Tap On The Head knocks me out. I always wake up feeling fine afterwards, but it's just so darned inconvenient." The fellow then demonstrates this by lightly touching his head and knocks himself out, allowing Peter to steal the car.
  • The Bible: Delilah getting Samson to tell her the secret of his strength is one of the earliest examples.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Godot reveals that his vision is "pretty messed up." This later becomes important when Phoenix shows evidence that a crime scene was manipulated by someone with flawed vision.
  • From Dean's hallucination in an episode of Venture Bros:
Insect King: No! Not the ring of power! It's the only thing that can steal my black heart.
Dean Venture: Eat it!
[Dean begins randomly stabbing the Insect King]
Insect King: Ow-eeee that fucking hurts! Ow! Right down to the thorax, Dick! But it missed my Black heart.
Dean Venture: Die!
[Dean severes the Insect King's arm and leg]
Insect King: Ow, dude stop already, you're not even aiming for my black heart!
Dean Venture: I vanquish you!
Insect King: Come on, those are reproductive organs! Will you take the fucking hint and stab me in the heart already?!
Dean Venture: I got it! Your evil black heart is where your power comes from!
Insect King (feigning chagrin): Oh no, you have learned my terrible secret!
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