Created By: Unknown%2520Troper on August 6, 2009

The Godzilla Threshold

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The point at which a situation has become so bad that summoning Godzilla could not possibly make it any worse.

Many films reach that point where it's time for one hell of an awesome fight. However, the characters cannot morally justify entering into a battle with such a ridiculous scale of collateral damage. Therefore, before this battle can occur, we must pass the Godzilla Threshold whereby no matter how much collateral damage or friendly-fire occurs, it is still preferable to the alternative. Once the Threshold is passed, ANY plan, no matter how ludicrous, impossible or dangerous, suddenly becomes a valid option - and, if it's handled properly, the audience doesn't even notice.

Often the threshold is engineered and is occasionally so bad as to instigate a Wall Banger or, at least, some serious Fridge Logic.

Named for the old Godzilla cartoons where Godzilla would conveniently emerge from a nearby body of water to combat whatever threat had bested the characters.


- In Michael Bay's Transformers; when the Deceptions are closing in on the All Spark, the preferred military solution is to hide the All Spark in downtown LA - where the deceptions will surely never be able to find it (disregarding the fact that they already managed to trace it to Southern California from a starting point on a completely different planet). Of course, the real reason is Michael Bay's wish to have a massive battle in the middle of Los Angeles, causing trillions of dollars worth of damage and a hefty death-toll in the process - but in order to disguise the ridiculousness of this from the viewer, he invokes the Godzilla Threshold to stop it occurring to them until they reach the Fridge half-an-hour later.

- The Power Rangers managed to pass the Godzilla Threshold in every episode. Oh dear, there's big monster doing some rampaging, we'd better get our big monster to battle it right in the middle of the city (2D cardboard set). Of course, this is criminally irresponsible and they could have easily taken steps to try and move the fight outside the city, but it never occurs to them (or the audience) because they have passed the Godzilla Threshold.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • August 6, 2009
    Maybe call it Never Escalate A Battle?
  • August 6, 2009
    Fittingly enough, Godzilla: Final Wars reaches the Godzilla Threshold about halfway through. Civilization is in ruins and the alien monsters are running rampant, so how could one more make things worse?
  • August 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    "Never Escalate a Battle" applies from some perspectives. But from the perspective of, for example, Michael Bay, the rule is more "Always Escalate a Battle". Besides, Godzilla's been around for a while - consider this his "Lifetime Achievement" award.
  • August 6, 2009
    In Tenchi Muyo In Love, this happens when the characters are discussing using a particular superweapon that is designed to destroy galaxies and galactic clusters on a being that is maybe 30 ft tall (but extremely powerful). At the beginning of the movie, it's a non option, but by the end things are so bad that they use it anyway, albeit with a huge setup. Or So I Heard.

    Also, are you sure we don't have this one? This kind of seems like an obvious one, considering that you're generally passing the point of diminishing returns in the opposite direction, and you have nothing left to lose. I'm amazed Nothing Left To Lose isn't a trope itself.
  • August 6, 2009
    Pretty much any time a highly destructive Dangerous Forbidden Technique is whipped out, it's because this threshold has been crossed.
  • August 6, 2009
    I just need to correct something.

    The reason they crossed this in Micheal Bays transformers was because Megatron was in the next hangar. Not quite so fridge logic.
  • August 6, 2009
    Doc Strangelove
    I'm a little confused... does the Godzilla Threshold refer to an interally logic-consistent point when it really is ok to "summon Godzilla", or to somehow tricking the audience into suspension of disbelief in order to allow for an awesome battle scene?
  • August 6, 2009
    This is very similar to Crossing The Streams.
  • August 7, 2009
    The Godzilla Threshold what happens just before Crossing The Streams. Plus, it applies in situations beyond Crossing the Streams or Dangerous Forbidden Technique. For example:

    Revenge of the Sith: in the intro, when Obi-wan and Anakin are dropping out of orbit in the remains of a space-ship they immediately pass the Godzilla Threshold when you know they're not going to be able to pull up in time. They then proceed to perform a spectacular crash-landing and survive. Hooray. Except that, during their landing, they destroyed a Control Tower, probably killing dozens of people. It isn't mentioned by the characters and the majority of the audience doesn't even notice it. The characters even offer up a few quips despite the trail of destruction and death behind them. The audience doesn't notice or care because the characters were beyond the Godzilla Threshold at the time, so they are immune from judgment.

    The finale of Transformers also doesn't fit into Crossing The Streams. Yes, they have to get the All Spark away from Megatron - but it's a hug leap to "let's get this thing out of here" to "let's take this thing to a heavily populated area". There isn't a Chekovs Gun in sight, so this isn't Crossing The Streams, it's just a miraculously stupid plan that the audience accepts with no Lampshading required - despite it being bloody obvious that the Decepticons will have no trouble tracking the All Spark to LA where thousands of people could easily be killed in the crossfire. The audience accepts it because they are beyond the Godzilla Threshold.

    In essence, it's a near-total pass for the writer because they've conditioned the audience into such a Suspension of Belief that they will accept almost anything.
  • August 7, 2009
    • Sorry, I appear to have randomly put the word "what" in the middle of the first sentence of the above post...
  • August 7, 2009
    I think I see what the author is trying to say here. It's basically a point in the story where any idea other than nothing or what everyone has been doing is a good one, and no one holds anyone accountable for the aftereffects. Awesome self destructive techniques don't always have to be involved. It can also include doing completely random things or things that wouldn't seem to have any destructive effect whatsoever. For example, in one episode of Star Trek, TNG, the crew is faced with an anomalous force wave that crashes into their ship on regular intervals, taxing the shields more and more with every collision. The whole episode is built around finding ways to raise the shields enough to withstand the increasing force. In the last 3 minutes of the episodes, Data tells the captain to drop the shields entirely. Given what we knew, that made no sense whatsoever, but it is considered a plausible idea by the crew because 1) Data said it, and 2) nothing else had worked before.
  • August 7, 2009
    That's not a perfect example, because Data suggested the idea after a kid on the bridge (not Wesley) remembered that his previous ship's crew continued to increase shield power and it wound up being destroyed.
  • August 7, 2009
    The TNG episode is more of another trope, which I don't know if we have. That trope is the idea that fighting the enemy makes him stronger. The way to win is to give up, or relax.

    Also it can be stated as opposition sustains. Opposing something maintains it. To use a simple example, the USSR would point to the actions and threat of the USA as an excuse to maintain a vast military and oppress the population. And vice versa. An arms race only grows worse as each side helps sustain and grow it. The only way out is to "give in" and work out some kind of peaceful solution.
  • August 8, 2009
    The TNG example isn't a good one, because Data is usually right, so he can get away with saying some things that other crew members can't.

    The idea as I see it is, that point in time when the characters can get away with ANYTHING, no matter how ludicrous, destructive, insane, or otherwise, without fear of crossing the Moral Event Horizon. How dangerous the actual action taken is has little to nothing to do with it.

    For example: in one Simpsons Halloween episode, giant advertisements are taking over the town. The solution: just don't look. A ridiculous solution, but as nothing else has worked, everyone does so without hesitation (except Homer).

    Also happens in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: after everything else has failed, the heroes find out that the tomatoes weakness is the song "Puberty Love."