Created By: GlennMagusHarvey on October 26, 2011 Last Edited By: GlennMagusHarvey on March 26, 2015

No Pain, No Gain

You\\\'re forced to get hurt to get through.

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Trope
Previously named "Mandatory Damage". Should we get a better title to avoid using the stock phrase "no pain, no gain"? If so, what should it be? REQUESTING COMMENT ON TITLE

Sometimes, in order to progress, you have get dinged up a bit. Or possibly to within an inch of your life, depending on the circumstance.

This feature is particularly noticeable in videogames, where there are easily-identifiable situations where you can't get around obstacles without losing health or hit points. Such situations may sometimes involve Cast from Hit Points.

Can be cheapened if immortal, as in Immortal Life Is Cheap. This trope is NOT just the Stock Phrase "no pain, no gain"; it also does not necessarily apply to situations where one character says that to another as encouragement.


Fanfiction
  • In chapter 9 of Mutant Storm, a crossover fic between Harry Potter and X-Men. Harry has an Heroi BSOD after having to kill Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy. Badly injured, he surrounds himself in a magical shield that is lethal to anyone who tries to pass through it. Logan ends up jumping through it, temporarily dying before his healing power kicks in, to talk Harry out of his Heroic BSOD.

Film
  • Die Hard: John McClane has to run across broken glass in his bare feet.
  • In the Will Smith I, Robot movie, Sunni is told that he has thicker alloy on his end effectors compared to other robots. It turns out to be this trope when he realises it's so he can withstand the damage from reaching through a force field to retrieve some AI killing nanites (since the villain is the one with the ability to lower said field and said nanites are the only means of killing it).

Literature
  • In Harry Potter, one of the Horcruxes was guarded this way, in addition to the island within the cave and Inferi in the water. In book 6, Dumbledore needs to give an offering of blood from his own hand to continue in a dungeon with Harry.

Live action TV
  • In Angel the Series, Angel goes through a series of trials to win a new life for Darla, one of which involves him running through a hallway every surface of which is covered in crosses only to encounter a locked door, having to run back to a pedestal in the middle of the hallway and plunge his hand into holy water to get the key.
  • Kung Fu: in order to leave the temple (after he was able to Snatch The Pebble) Caine has to move a brazier full of red hot coals, which burns the dragon and tiger brands into his forearms.

Tabletop RPG
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". In order to succeed in the adventure the PCs must acquire the Crystal of Noa. Anyone who removes the Crystal of Noa from its Elder Sign protection takes 1d6 points of electrical damage.

Video games
  • Some RPGs have damaging floors. Subverted in that some of them provide ways to negate the damage.
  • While not technically "mandatory", some players of videogames who engage in speed running often take damage intentionally in order to save time.
  • In Battletoads, if you are playing 2 player, a glitch causes you to have to kill off player 2 until he or she gets a game over. This is a case of Unwinnable by Mistake.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: You're forced to use the Dominus glyph union in order to defeat Dracula. Doing so at any other point in the game would kill you.
  • Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers! has this as its gameplay gimmick: Donald gets increased abilities and attack power the lower his health is. Many areas require him to get hurt by enemies and obstacles to be able to proceed.
  • In one of the many, many jarring scenes of Heavy Rain, you have to crawl over broken glass, inevitably wounding yourself. Your choices are to crawl too fast and pass out from the pain or to crawl slowly and endure the pain all the way. In another scene, you have to cut off your pinky to proceed.
  • La-Mulana forces you to take damage from the water in the Spring of the Sky area before you can get the item that negates damage taken by being submerged in water.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 has the microwave hallway, which combines this with the Once An Episode torture minigame.
  • In Monster Force's first Desert Level, one of the three paths you'll need to take to get keys is lined with spikes at the beginning of the path. Unless you happen to have the invincibility powerup, you'll have to pass this with a combination of your healing items and finger speed.
  • A level in Planescape: Torment consists of elaborate Death Traps that the Nameless One has to disarm the hard way to proceed. Good thing that he always comes back. A case of Immortal Life Is Cheap.
  • In World of Warcraft, Corpse Hopping is a valid strategy to get through areas with high level mobs. You take of your clothes, buff yourself up, run through an area while maintaining buffs till you die. You return as a ghost, and go as far as you can so you can ressurect, ressurect and start running. Rinse&Repeat. Also a case of Immortal Life Is Cheap.

Real life
  • This is often the case with the recovery process in some medical conditions, such as broken bones and severe wounds. Less dramatically, pulling all nighters to get things done. Some people even see athletic training, military training, and even education as this trope.


Rolling Updates
Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • October 26, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    Video Games: Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers! has this as its gameplay gimmick: Donald gets increased abilities and attack power the lower his health is. Many areas require him to get hurt by enemies and obstacles to be able to proceed.
  • October 26, 2011
    GreatHylianKing
    In Harry Potters 6th book, Dumbledore needs to give an offering of blood from his own hand to continue in a dungeon with Harry.
  • October 26, 2011
    Arutema
  • October 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Kung Fu: in order to leave the temple (after he was able to Snatch the Pebble) Caine has to move a brazier full of red hot coals, which burns the dragon and tiger brands into his forearms.
  • October 27, 2011
    isk2837
    Saw what I think counts as an example of this in Chapter 9 of Mutant Storm It's a Harry X Men crossover fanfic. In the chapter in question, Harry has a Heroic BSOD after being forced to kill Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange in very gory ways to protect himself and some goblins. He is injured and bleeding to death, but has surrounded himself in a magic shield which will kill anyone who tries to go through. After trying to talk to him from outside the shield fails, Wolverine jumps through the shield, temporarily killing himself until his healing factor kicks in, to talk to Harry.
  • October 27, 2011
    isk2837
    Chapter 9 of Mutant Storm might count. It's a crossover fic between Harry Potter and X Men. Harry has an Heroic BSOD after having to kill Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy. Badly injured, he surrounds himself in a magical shield that is lethal to anyone who tries to pass through it. Logan ends up jumping through it, temporarily dying before his healing power kicks in, to talk Harry out of his Heroic BSOD.
  • October 27, 2011
    Waterlily
    Is this just for video games? If films can be included, how about John Mc Clane from Die Hard having to run across broken glass in his bare feet?
  • October 27, 2011
    Koveras
    Compare Immortal Life Is Cheap, which may be abused for mandatory deaths.

    • In one of the many, many jarring scenes of Heavy Rain, you have to crawl over broken glass, inevitably wounding yourself. Your choices are to crawl too fast and pass out from the pain or to crawl slowly and endure the pain all the way. In another scene, you have to cut off your pinky to proceed.
    • Overlapping with Immortal Life Is Cheap: A level in Planescape Torment consists of elaborate Death Traps that the Nameless One has to disarm the hard way to proceed. Good thing that he always comes back.
  • October 27, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
    • In World Of Warcraft, Corpse Hopping is a valid strategy to get through areas with high level mobs. You take of your clothes, buff yourself up, run through an area while maintaining buffs till you die. You return as a ghost, and go as far as you can so you can ressurect, ressurect and start running. Rinse&Repeat.
  • October 27, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    @GreatHylianKing Yes, one of the Horcruxes was guarded this way, in addition to the island within the cave and Inferi in the water.
  • October 27, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    ^^^^ That's a good question, actually--whether this trope ought to apply to videogames only or just to situations in general, with videogames being a notable subcategory.

    Also, I'm considering renaming this to No Pain No Gain.

    Rolling updates in a bit; I'm busy right now.
  • October 27, 2011
    Bisected8
    • In the Will Smith I Robot movie, Sunni is told that he has thicker alloy on his end effectors compared to other robots. It turns out to be this trope when he realises it's so he can withstand the damage from reaching through a force field to retrieve some AI killing nanites (since the villain is the one with the ability to lower said field and said nanites are the only means of killing it).
  • October 27, 2011
    DragonQuestZ
    RPGs with damaging floors.
  • October 27, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    ^ Not necessarily; some provide ways to counteract that, such as one of the geomancer's passive abilities in Final Fantasy V.

    Okay, I'm going to change the name and update the examples list. This is gonna take some reworking.
  • October 27, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Okay, updated. It's now a general trope, and has been renamed to "No Pain, No Gain".
  • October 27, 2011
    GreenMachine
    Action 52? I don't remember if getting hurt actually let you progress in any instance though. Oh, in Battletoads, if you are playing 2 player, you will have to kill off a player until he or she gets a game over. [I know someone has to game over, but I don't know if it specifically has to be Player 2...]. Still, that's more of a glitch, and someone actually has to die, so I don't know if that counts...
  • October 27, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    I want more comment on the name.

    Does "no pain no gain" mean anything that this trope does NOT mean?
  • October 27, 2011
    jatay3
  • October 28, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    That seems like a subtrope.
  • October 28, 2011
    sareteni
    Isn't this covered in "Earn your happy ending" ?
  • October 28, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Call Of Cthulhu campaign Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". In order to succeed in the adventure the PCs must acquire the Crystal of Noa. Anyone who removes the Crystal of Noa from its Elder Sign protection takes 1d6 points of electrical damage.
  • October 28, 2011
    isk2837
    The first "Heroic BSOD" in the part of the description that covers Fanfiction is missing a C, making it "Heroi BSOD"
  • October 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    Sister trope: Cast From Hit Points
  • October 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Calling it No Pain No Gain may evoke the wrath of Fast Eddie and his "no names that sound like dialog" Berserk Button.
  • October 28, 2011
    Akamia
    What about Lucario in Smash Bros?
  • November 2, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Sorry I was busy the past few days. Gonna go update and thus bump this YKTTW now. Last call for comment before launching in about an hour.
  • November 2, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    One major concern I have is this: Does this trope take on an oddly specific form in videogames, or is this just my gamer self thinking about this too hard?
  • November 2, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Can someone please elaborate the Lucario example? I'll put it in; someone else should update it.

    I just added a Castlevania example as well.
  • November 2, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Never mind launching tonight; I'll give this another evening to cook before launching. I really want comment on some of these issues.
  • November 3, 2011
    Nibbles2
    Lucario in Super Smash Bros Brawl doesn't count. His special ability is that, the more damage Lucario takes, the more damage his attacks deal. However, this is just a passive ability, and a fairly weak one at that. Players are under absolutely no obligation to damage themselves when playing as Lucario, and can win fights just as easily regardless of their damage taken.
  • November 3, 2011
    surgoshan
    • In Angel the Series, Angel goes through a series of trials to win a new life for Darla, one of which involves him running through a hallway every surface of which is covered in crosses only to encounter a locked door, having to run back to a pedestal in the middle of the hallway and plunge his hand into holy water to get the key.
  • November 3, 2011
    hevendor717
    There should be a note that this is broader than the Stock Phrase.
  • November 4, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Either Needs A Better Name or Needs A Better Description, because using a preexisting Stock Phrase for a meaning that is more narrow than how it is used in Real Life is just asking for trouble. This will be in TRS, guaranteed.
  • November 4, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    I picked the stock phrase because it is iconic.

    What ideas do y'all have for a better title?

    (And so much for launching last night; the power was out all yesterday.)

    ^^ Will do. Though as Auxdarastrix suggests, this might still be a problem.

    ^^^ Will add.

    ^^^^ Will remove. Thanks.
  • November 4, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    How about Gain From Pain, which references the Stock Phrase but doesn't give it outright? Though that's sort of awkward. Could also go further in this route, with Felt Pain Made Gain.

    Or we could drop that altogether, and go with something like No Progress Without Pain.
  • November 5, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Bump, requesting comment on title.
  • November 5, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    The problem with using iconic Stock Phrases is that people will start using it for what the Stock Phrase actually means instead of what your trope actually means. Even right now, your examples are all over the place. All I can really get from this is "people have to do something unpleasant in order to accomplish something" which is Not A Trope at worst or, at best, so generic as to be so universal and omnipresent that collecting examples is kinda pointless.

    The description needs to be a lot more clear before I can even begin to suggest a title. "Make progress" is utterly generic and meaningless. Same with "dinged up". Also, if this is intended to be beyond videogames, you should have a lot more to your description than one example of how it applies to videogames.

    Might I suggest starting off something along the lines of:

    Proposed Trope is when X and Y happens under circumstances Y.

    Then list several varieties of this. Also try to explain what role this plays as a story telling device.

  • November 5, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Hmm, you're right in that this borders on being a mere "existence trope", which is something I've criticized in the past.

    The main reason I started with the videogames trope is that the situation somehow felt different from the rest of these examples. I'm not really sure how to describe it, but I think it has to do with the notion of playing a game versus oneself experiencing something directly.

    That said, this YKTTW is getting kinda long. Should I launch it and then fix it up in TRS? Though unfortunately TRS isn't really keen on accepting new threads right now.
  • November 5, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Launching something just to send it to TRS is bad form.

    Is this just about situations where you have no choice but to accept not just possible, but certain damage/injury in order to accomplish an immediate goal? That would be more specific than just the idea of pain/discomfort. It would also suggest a name that reflects the idea of injury instead of merely pain and discomfort.

    No Injury No Gain perhaps?

    If you can't think of a way to clarify this right now, just let it lax a bit and come back to it latter.
  • November 14, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    The name should probably depend on whether this trope is restricted to videogames (where the idea of dodging enemy attacks and obstacles is actually a notion that's different from merely avoiding things in real life) or not.
  • November 18, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Since there's no more comment, I'm thinking of launching this anyway, and then reconsidering things from there.

    One thought I have right now, though, is this: It's possible that this trope may not stand on its own, but it does have a subtrope that definitely can, that being Mandatory Damage (applying only to videogames, defined as "a situation where you are forced to take damage in order to progress, such that this obligatoriness is not suggested by the fact that you can normally avoid damaging obstacles".

    Should I propose a YKTTW anew with that idea?
  • June 29, 2012
    Noah1
  • June 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Duke Nukem I you can either kill the Rabbitoids for 200 points or let them run into you (costing you 1 health) for 5,000 points.
  • June 30, 2012
    Koveras
    Don't the Saw movies all count? The eponymous villain's traps are all designed to put people through enormous pain and injury to teach them that life is worth fighting for.

    Also, to expand on the already listed example:

    • Almost all of the Origami Killer's trials in Heavy Rain revolve around Ethan getting hurt to obtain clues to his son's location, but especially the Butterfly (which involves crawling over broken glass and through naked power lines) and Lizard (where you have to cut off Ethan's finger) trial. In the Bear and the Shark trials, it is possible to avoid any injury but it is extremely hard. And in the Rat trial, you have to drink poison outright, though it turns out to be harmless in the end.
  • August 13, 2013
    DAN004
    Pain Gate? (We have Beef Gate and Cash Gate)
  • August 13, 2013
    313Bluestreak
  • March 26, 2015
    DAN004
    I thought we already have a ykttw called Forced Damage or something. It's similar to this.
  • March 26, 2015
    Arivne
    ^ It's called Unavoidable Damage.
  • March 26, 2015
    DAN004
    Now, which to keep?
  • March 26, 2015
    DracMonster
    You Shall Not Pass Unscathed?

    Edit: Damn, dialogue. Never mind.
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