Created By: Prime32 on January 8, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on December 6, 2015

Touch The Untouchable

The ability to interact with or harm an [[IntangibleMan intangible being]]

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A being or object with this ability can, for whatever reason, interact with intangible beings as if they were solid. Maybe they're a Physical God, maybe they're so in tune with the Spirit World that they effectively exist in both worlds at once, or maybe they're just wrapped in a force field that ghosts can't pass through.

Anti Intangible Attack is a subtype for things which can damage or disrupt intangible beings without necessarily being able to, say, shake hands with them. This is a common aspect of a Holy Hand Grenade or Pure Energy.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • In Berserk, Guts's Dragon Slayer is a completely mundane (if large) sword, but whenever it's used to kill an Apostle some of their demonic power rubs off on it (and Guts has killed a lot of Apostles). This eventually results in it being able to wound a Super Smoke Apostle who even other Apostles cannot harm.
  • In Bleach, living people need a certain amount of spiritual power to interact with spiritual beings, and vice versa. Slightly less is needed for living people just to see spiritual beings.
  • YuYu Hakusho. Living people need to have spiritual power to interact with spiritual beings.
  • In One Piece channeling Haki through an attack lets it harm the setting's Elemental Shapeshifters, most of whom are otherwise Nigh Invulnerable.
  • In Shaman King, Anna's prayer beads have this effect, which she sometimes uses to tie up Amidamaru.
  • The Shinmeiryu school in Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima! possesses the "Zanmaken"Translation  and "Zanmaken: Ni no Tachi"Translation  sword techniques, which are capable of cutting spirits and magic.

     Comics 
  • In Kingdom Come The Flash is able to use his Super Speed to exist between dimensions since, according to DC Universe physics, dimensions are separated from each other by the frequency of their vibrations.

     Film 
  • The Ghostbusters's "Proton Packs" can be used to damage ghosts or yank them into containment.

     Literature 
  • In The Dresden Files, ghost dust is a magical substance which feels "extra-real". It can be thrown at ghosts to disable them, or incorporated into a wall to prevent them from passing through. Harry's recipe includes depleted uranium for weight.
  • The Lord of the Rings: In Return of the King, Aragorn can parry an attack from the leader of the Army of the Dead with Anduril, though this has more to do with Aragorn's (and Anduril's) connection to the one who laid their curse than anything else.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Ghost Touch items (most commonly weapons and armor) have this effect. Magical attacks can harm incorporeal beings, but have only a 50% chance of working each time.
    • In Pathfinder, magical attacks always work, but deal 50% damage.
    • Force effects (such as forcecage and magic missile) are even better as they extend into the Ethereal Plane, allowing them to affect even ghosts that aren't physically manifesting.
    • 1st-2nd Edition
      • Mixing gorgon's blood into the mortar used to create a building prevents creatures on the Ethereal and Astral planes (who are intangible WRT the Prime Material Plane) from passing through its walls.
      • Creatures on the Prime Material Plane can use the Staff of Ethereal Action to attack creatures on the Ethereal Plane.
  • A number of Point Build Systems include this as an option when creating powers:
    • In Hero System games it's called "Affects Desolid". This costs 50% of the power's base cost, or 25% if restricted to a single type of incorporeal targets (such as ectoplasm).
    • In Mutants & Masterminds this appears as the "Affects Insubstantial" power feat (2e) or flat-value modifier (3e), which grants 50% effectiveness the first time it's taken and 100% effectiveness the second.
  • New World of Darkness. Blessed objects allow mortals to harm ghosts (and potentially spirits).
  • The powers of the titular vampires in Vampire: The Masquerade are almost completely focused on the material world, so anything from the spirit world or the afterlife is essentially an Outside-Context Villain for them. That said, a rare few bloodlines and Disciplines are capable of allowing communication and combat with ghosts and spirits. The Khaibit bloodline being one such bloodline.
  • Shadowrun. Both solid earth and the bodies of living beings (plants and animals) can block the passage of entities in the Astral plane.

     Video Games 

     Western Animation 

Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • January 8, 2013
    JohnnyCache
    • in Hero System games, the advantage "Affects Desolid" may be applied to any power. This costs 50% of the power's base cost, or 25% if restricted to a single type of incorporeal targets (such as ectoplasm).
  • January 8, 2013
    KZN02
    So did you get the title name from See The Invisible?
  • January 8, 2013
    Koveras
    • In The Elder Scrolls you generally need silver or higher-tier weapons to hurt non-corporeal enemies (like ghosts and will-o-wisps). They, on the other hand, can always hurt you just fine.
  • January 8, 2013
    MokonaZero
    In Blaz Blue, Jubei's Nox Nyctores can cut things that aren't normally able to be cut.
  • January 8, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    In Yu Yu Hakusho, the title character grabs an imp right out of the air. The imp remarks on this very fact.
  • January 8, 2013
    Earnest
    • The New World Of Darkness has blessed objects be the only thing available to mortals capable of harming ghosts (and potentially spirits).
      • The powers of the titular vampires in Vampire The Masquerade are almost completely focused on the material world, so anything from the spirit world or the afterlife is essentially an Outside Context Villain for them. That said, a rare few bloodlines and Disciplines are capable of allowing communication and combat with ghosts and spirits. The Khaibit bloodline being one such bloodline.
  • January 8, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^^^^^ That or Beyond The Impossible ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAH as for examples:

  • January 9, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Shadowrun. Both solid earth and the bodies of living beings (plants and animals) can block the passage of entities in the Astral plane.
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • In earlier editions mixing gorgon's blood into the mortar used to create a building prevents creatures on the Ethereal and Astral planes (who were intangible WRT the Prime Material Plane) from passing through its walls.
  • January 9, 2013
    rodneyAnonymous
    I associate "the untouchable" with leprosy. Better name?
  • January 9, 2013
    riotlancer
    The flash did this in kingdom come, I believe. Explained as the flash moving so fast he exists between dimensions
  • January 9, 2013
    Mozgwsloiku
    In One Piece, this is one of the haki abilities, essential for fighting the Elemental Embodiment logia users.
  • January 9, 2013
    Noinord
    If you need a better name, how about "Intangibilty Ignorance"?
  • January 9, 2013
    Prime32
    That sounds like a ghost who tries to go about his day-to-day life without realising he passes through walls.
  • January 9, 2013
    omega05
    Return of the King has a scene where Aragorn's sword Anduril stops the blade of the leader of the Paths of the Dead (after the ghosts are shown as non-corporeal when Legolas' arrow flies right through them).
  • December 21, 2014
    jormis29
    Bump
  • December 21, 2014
    maxwellsilver
    Would The Untouchables count, even if they're untouchable in a metaphorical sense? Because it has a scene where a member of Elliot Ness' team is killed and the word "TOUCHABLE" is written with his blood on an elevator wall (which is hilariously inaccurate, as none of Ness' eleven man team died during Prohibition).
  • December 21, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    Not sure if it counts, but:
    • Kevin from Welcome To Night Vale can see the face of the Faceless Old Woman who Secretly Lives in Your Home. She is very unsettled by it.
  • December 21, 2014
    DAN004
    Half of these would be related to Soul Cutting Blade.

    Btw do we have a trope for "hurting the invincible", "anti invincibility attack" or "an attack/thing that harms metaphysics"?
  • December 22, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Doctor Who: In "The Name of the Doctor" the astral projection of River Song is ranting at the Doctor, assuming he can't see or hear her. She goes to slap him and he catches her hand.
    River: How are you even doing that? I'm not really here.
    Doctor: You are always here to me. And I always listen, and I can always see you.
  • March 31, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump, still sounds tropable to me.

    Grabbing this
  • March 31, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump, still sounds tropable to me.

    Grabbing this
  • April 1, 2015
    Koveras
    • In Kara No Kyoukai, after Shiki loses her left arm in the battle against Asagami Fujino, Touko crafts a prosthetic arm for her that has the ability to interact with (read: "grab") intangible beings. It becomes very useful in the (chronologically) next episode, when Shiki has to fight ghosts.
  • April 1, 2015
    Arivne
  • April 1, 2015
    Chabal2
    • Warcraft III: Ethereal units can only be hit with magic (spells and the Magic attack type), taking extra damage from it.
    • Twilight Princess: Link's wolf form is the only one that can see and attack ghosts thanks to its Super Senses (otherwise they're invisibl and intangible though they can still damage you). The midboss of the Arbiter's grounds, however, is detected and attacked in wolf form but when it starts flying around needs to be brought down with arrows.
  • April 1, 2015
    dalek955
  • April 1, 2015
    KZN02
    Phlebotinum Handling Equipment may have this property.
  • December 1, 2015
    DAN004
    • Blaz Blue: Nirvana, Carl's guardian automaton, has the ability to touch seithr directly and rip them apart. Ignis, Relius' own automaton is based on Nirvana and can do the same thing. Relius demonstrates it when Ignis tears apart the very fabrics of the Embryo by its own hands.
  • December 2, 2015
    Omeganian
    The Lord of the Rings part is movie only.
  • December 2, 2015
    DAN004
    What about touching things that are normally insubstantial? I remember Kuma of One Piece being able to touch and push out pain out of someone's body.
  • December 3, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
  • December 3, 2015
    Chabal2
    The Authority had an arc where Baby Jenny is kidnapped by a Mad Scientist whose base (and henchmen, and himself) is right in the middle of a city thanks to existing at different vibrational frequencies. He brings this up when one of the team is flying right outside the door and suddenly goes in, revealing that she can see and touch them just fine.

  • December 3, 2015
    randomsurfer
    I keep going back and forth as to whether these count.
    • The Incredible Hulk: Hulk goes up against Unus the Untouchable, whose mutant power is he can keep anyone from touching him via some kind of force field/aura, but the Hulk manages to power through anyway, socking Unus in the jaw.
    • During Secret Wars Molecule Man is recuperating in bed behind an "impenetrable" force field, which fails to stop the light-based Captain Marvel. "It's not 'impenetrable,' it's translucent. And what light can get through, Captain Marvel can get through!"
  • December 3, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Hulk counts, Captain Marvel definitely doesn't.
  • December 3, 2015
    Prime32
    IIRC Hulk actually has the explicit power to touch ghosts and the like. It just... doesn't come up very often.
  • December 5, 2015
    MetaFour
    • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, pegasi (and griffons) can walk on clouds and otherwise interact with them as if they were solid. Other ponies can't do that without a magic spell specifically for cloud-walking.
  • December 5, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^I know he can see ghosts/astral projections, etc. in situations where they're normally invisible, but I don't remember him being able to touch them.

    ^^^Pardon me if I don't take your say-so as the final word DAN.
  • December 5, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Well I myself is confused as to if Hulk can really touch ghosts or not. But the Captain Marvel example doesn't say anything about touching an untouchable...
  • December 5, 2015
    Arivne
    Neither the Hulk nor Captain Marvel examples count as written, because the Description clearly limits this trope to touching intangible beings. Unus and the Molecule Man weren't intangible, they were solid and untouchable because they were surrounded by force fields.

    Prime32's "Hulk actually has the explicit power to touch ghosts" would count if it's correct.
  • December 5, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Ah yeah.

    If I were to grab this, I'll slightly broaden this to touching intangible substance and "insubstances". But not for Captain Marvel's cases, tho - that's following the title too literally. Gotta change the title, too.

    Though, I feel that "Touch the Untouchable" played like in Captain Marvel example is tropable too, in their own right. But I wonder if it is already Not So Invincible After All.
  • December 6, 2015
    Prime32
    Not to be confused with Defeating The Undefeatable. Compare Unblockable Attack.

    I think the Captain Marvel example would just be a case of No Sell or Logical Weakness.
  • December 6, 2015
    BrokenEye
    I can't for the life of me remember if it happens in the novel, but in the film version of John Dies At The End, there's a spectral door no one can touch, until Amy (who lost her hand in a car accident before the start of the story) removes her prosthetic and is able to open it with her phantom limb

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=e97t9uwq1trd539ojcw28hod