Created By: EpicEbi on July 31, 2012 Last Edited By: EpicEbi on September 7, 2012

Begin With A Finisher

Someone uses their strongest attack almost as soon as a fight starts. Results vary.

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You have two characters with giant swords or any weapon you can think of, and lots of different powers, fighting each other for whatever reason. One of them decides to finish the fight as soon as it begins and unleashes their strongest attack on their opponent.

Huh. Well that was easy...

This is basically where you have a character use the strongest thing they know against their opponent immediately once they start fighting, obviously resulting in the other guy getting smashed into tiny little pieces. Video Games can have this if the player saves their best attack for an incoming boss battle, and then uses it straight away. In Anime, this results in one of the coolest things you'l ever see, or a complete failure to kill the opponent that may or may not include one of the most hilarious parts of the show. Unless it's played for drama.

Compare Curb-Stomp Battle, where the opponent doesn't really need to use their best attack all the time to kick someone out of the atmosphere. See also Alpha Strike. Subtrope of For Massive Damage. Related to The Worf Effect, The Worf Barrage. No Sell is what happens when any attack fails to work on the other guy.
Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • July 31, 2012
    tryourbreast
    See also Alpha Strike. Subtrope of For Massive Damage.
  • July 31, 2012
    EpicEbi
    Edited. Thanks.
  • July 31, 2012
    Astaroth
    The failure variant is used in one boss fight in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. The spectre begins the fight by attempting to cast a powerful Megido spell, which fizzles out since it doesn't have the mana reserves to cast it. For the rest of the fight, it uses MP Thief spells on your party until it has enough mana stockpiled to cast it properly.
  • July 31, 2012
    Koveras
    • Forbidden by the mechanics of Functional Magic in the Lyrical Nanoha universe for the title character: her most powerful Signature Move only works after a considerable number of magical blows has already been exchanged in the airspace.
      • Defied more explicitly in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S manga bonus chapter: the starting distance between Nanoha and Signum in a mock battle is chosen so that neither can effectively use their respective One Hit KO moves (long-ranged and close-ranged, respectively).
  • July 31, 2012
    SKJAM
    IN the Super Robot genre of anime, the hero suddenly doing this mid-season almost always fails--because the latest Monster Of The Week will be immune to it, requiring our hero to learn a new ultimate attack.
  • July 31, 2012
    Chabal2
    Chrono Trigger: Lavos' first form always uses "Destruction rains from the heavens!" (a Herd Hitting Attack) as its first move.

    Needs a link to The Worf Effect and The Worf Barrage, as this is usually the effect this has if the heroes use this.
  • July 31, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ And No Sell.
  • July 31, 2012
    Astaroth
    The Final Boss of Breath Of Fire IV, Fou-Lu shapeshifted into his Astral Dragon form, will always begin combat with a Soul Rend attack which sends your party's HP To One.
  • August 2, 2012
    EpicEbi
    I edited The Worf Effect and The Worf Barrage, along with No Sell. I also changed the description to better captivate what I mean by the trope. I also added One Hit KO to things it's related to. Because the attack is meant to kill the opponent in one hit.

    I'll add the examples when I figure out how to do it.
  • August 2, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Not sure if this counts, but:

    • In Enders Game, this is Ender's primary philosophy when it comes to fighting (and warfare): overwhelming shock & awe. Basically, thoroughly and savagely attack your enemy to the point where they never attempt any kind of retaliation out of outright fear. He uses this several times throughout the novel.
      • Happens near the very beginning of the novel, when he's being picked on by bullies. He knows that they'll never leave him alone if he just takes their abuse, so he brutally beats (and, unbeknownst to him at the time, kills) the leader of the gang to intimidate the rest of the group.
      • In the Battle School, when he's confronted by a gang in the showers. He goads the leader into fighting him one-on-one, then proceeds to once again brutally defeat him. After that he gets a reputation for not being messed with...
      • And finally, at the end of the book when he's leading the fighters in the simulation, he instructs a fighter to, instead of engaging the enemy fleet directly, to bypass it completely and just directly destroy the home planet of the enemy. Works better than expected...until it turns out it wasn't a simulation at all, but a real-time feed to the actual, real battle, and Ender just committed genocide against the alien race. Oops.
  • August 2, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    In the science-fiction short story "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", the hero has to fight a much larger opponent who is also a trained-from-birth warrior monk. The hero puts everything into a single do-or-die strike, which fortunately works.
  • August 2, 2012
    Treeckosawesomeness
    Not sure if this counts, but the famous scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark where Indy pulls out his gun as opposed to entering a sword fight.
  • August 3, 2012
    EpicEbi
    I guess it could count since Indy's gun is the strongest thing he has on him. But what I'm trying to say with the trope is that someone uses their strongest attack out of many different abilities they have. Indy (as far as I remember) only has a gun and a whip.

    But I'll keep your example up here until I can edit this properly.
  • August 3, 2012
    Arivne
    TV Tropes How To Guides
    I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
  • August 3, 2012
    MorganWick
    As the Evil Overlord List is not original to TV Tropes, it probably belongs best in Web Original.
  • August 3, 2012
    EpicEbi
    Excellent example. Thank you.
  • August 5, 2012
    Arivne
    ^^ @Morgan Wick:

    So: Which type of Web Original is the Evil Overlord List a part of?
  • August 5, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Evil Overlord List falls under the "lists of cliches" section of Books On Trope -- perhaps not the best name for that list.
  • August 5, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I would think the failure to kill someone with said attack would be a Worf Effect.
  • August 6, 2012
    EpicEbi
    ^ Ah yes, I added that a while ago.
  • August 6, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Too bad we can't call it Round One Knockout, because that would be misleading. But the current title is just too long.

    Ultimate Attack First?
  • August 7, 2012
    EpicEbi
    I don't think the title is that long. There are longer titles out there. And there aren't that many title ideas that capture what the trope is trying to say.

    But everyoe's free to come up with ideas.
  • August 7, 2012
    ElementX
    Despite supposedly having plenty of other spells up his sleeve, Lord Voldemort would often just fire The Killing Curse at anyone who dared to oppose him.
  • August 7, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ The "everyone else is doing it" argument never actually works in your favor. Six words, nine syllables and 37 characters is definitely on the long side.
  • August 8, 2012
    EpicEbi
    ^ If anyone has ideas, I'll gladly look at them. But until then, the title stays the same, because I can't come up with anything else.
  • August 8, 2012
    DracMonster
  • August 9, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ I already suggested one....
  • August 9, 2012
    CrankyStorming
    In the finale of Power Rangers Turbo, they use their finishing move to open the fight with the Monster Of The Week. It doesn't work and they wind up losing all their Zords in the ensuing battle.
  • August 10, 2012
    EpicEbi
    ^^ I know you did. You yourself said for the first idea that it's misleading, and I agree with you. And the second one understandably is just the same as the original title except shortened, but I think we can still come up with something better.

    I got something: Go All Out In One Shot.
  • August 10, 2012
    EpicEbi
    Or perhaps Begin With A Finisher.

    I'll change it to this, actually.
  • August 14, 2012
    ElementX
  • August 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Would it count if someone suggests starting with a finisher, but the actual combatant refuses (for whatever reason)? I'm thinking specifically of the scene in Soldier where Captain Church says they should just Nuke Em From Orbit. "My daddy always said, 'When you want to insert a nail into a piece of wood, don't do anything fancy or glamorous. Just take the damn hammer and hit the son of a bitch until it's in.'" But he's overruled by a pompus Colonel who wants to use his new genetically modified soldiers. Natuarlly this leads to the deaths of the soldiers, the Colonel, and the Captain.
  • August 16, 2012
    EpicEbi
    ^^ That seems like it's saying, "First off, Finisher." Good try, though.

    ^ Sorry, but they have to use it for this trope to take effect. It could be a subversion (did I use that right?). If not that, then some other x-version that I can't remember what they do.
  • August 30, 2012
    EpicEbi
    Getting this back up to discuss.
  • August 30, 2012
    Rognik
    I think Sailor Moon did this once or twice. For the yellow gem crystal monster, Sailor Moon used her tiara, formerly her finishing attack, to defeat the monster, but it didn't work, especially since she had a new finisher now. I think she's tried her wand attack as a finisher once or twice, and then found out the monster was just too strong and needed to be weakened first.
  • August 31, 2012
    EpicEbi
    Yeah. That's a good example. When I figure out how to bloody make examples pop up, I'll add it in.
  • August 31, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime

  • September 1, 2012
    Rognik
    ^^Simple. Just click the pencil icon above the write-up, then add all the examples at the end with appropriate mark-up code. A simple sort by genre should be good enough to start.
  • September 2, 2012
    EpicEbi
    ^ Thank you. When I find the time, I'll see what I can do.

    ^^ I like the example because it's funny. And thinking about it, I guess it does fit in with what I'm trying to say with this trope. Thanks for the contribution.
  • September 2, 2012
    Generality
    • In The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess, the most powerful attack Link can learn is the Mortal Draw, which does critical damage while drawing the sword. Against unarmored foes, it can end a battle as soon as it begins.
  • September 2, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ I'm not sure to what extent that qualifies as an example, but note that two of the requirements for using it are (1) you have to have your sword sheathed, and (2) you have to do it without target-locking your opponent. Which are normally the first things you'd do (draw sword and lock on) when engaging an enemy in combat.
  • September 3, 2012
    Rognik
    ^^I think it's more of an "ultimate attack" or "one-hit KO" than a finisher. It's his most powerful move, yes, and will kill most enemies at full health, but it's not really a finisher move itself. Also, and I don't know because I haven't played that game, if his sword has to be sheathed, then it would be an opening move anyway, unless you can somehow sheath the sword in mid-battle.
  • September 3, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ Yes, you can put your sword away mid-combat. But since you mentioned it, what is the difference between a really powerful move and a Finishing Move?
  • September 6, 2012
    Rognik
    ^Well, it's pretty clearly defined in Magical Girl series: it is the last attack that ensures the Villain Of The Week no longer terrorizes the city. If you've seen more than one episode of any magic girl series, you will be able to tell the finishing move from the stock footage and the fact that there's only 3 minutes left in the show. Goku's kamehameha would probably count for a shonen series; Goku has to power up the move, so that it's powerful enough, and ensure that it will hit. He never does this at the beginning of the fight, though, and it's usually the last attack that he needs.

    Outside of anime, though? I'm not willing to define it. Ask someone else, like the OP, to define it.

    Which reminds me. I'm pretty sure Lina Inverse from The Slayers used her penultimate attack, Dragon Slave, when she had plenty of weaker spells available to her, just to end the fight before it could begin or drag out.
  • September 6, 2012
    Generality
    Link in "Twilight Princess" has a Finishing Move, (by the same name), which can't possibly be used at the start of battle because it requires the enemy to be knocked down. However, the page for Finishing Move mentions both techniques.

    In any case, the description says "strongest attack", and the Mortal Draw is definitely that. It can be used in the midst of battle but is most practical at the beginning.
  • September 6, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@Generality - Link's strongest move is his "Great Spin", which is suped up version of his spin slash tech. It covers twice the area of his regular spin slash and kills everything except armored enemies and bosses in one shot. And, as per the trope, can be used at any time, even off the bat, so long as Link has full health.

    Bonus: it's also the final technique the Hero's Shade teaches him.
  • September 6, 2012
    chicagomel
    It's not uncommon to use a Pokemon 's strongest attack of a given type when you're up against something it's strong against, particularly bosses, which are always stronger than random NPC trainers. The exception is if you choose to use an attack that confuses or inflicts status before going in for the faint.
  • September 6, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Iron Man 2, Rhodey points that Tony should have used his deadly laser attack at the beginning of the battle. Tony's response is he was saving them, since they're one-time use only.
      • A moment later, when Vanko arrives, Rhodey decides to use his most powerful weapon immediately: the bunker buster missile "the Ex-Wife". It completely fails.
  • September 7, 2012
    Q
    I think that, when it comes to video game characters under the player's control, this is a Chair. Otherwise, you'll have a long list of video games.

    For example:

    That template covers practically every video game which has combat, from Final Fantasy (due to limit breaks) to even Super Mario Bros. (Super Star and fireballs, which work just fine on Bowser).

    For this reason, you may want to add a note restricting video game examples to games in which an NPC uses this strategy, or where it takes place during a Cut Scene.
  • September 7, 2012
    EpicEbi
    ^ Hmm... I see where you're coming from.

    But the hard part about NP Cs is that they probably NEVER use their strongest attack and succeed at the very beginning. Cut Scenes are a good idea. But it isn't often you'll have a character kill an enemy with their best attack in a cut scene as soon as a fight begins. It can't be any old attack, because that's a Curb-Stomp Batttle. No, what would happen with a game is that it would usually let you take control of the character and do the move yourself. But even then that happens near the end of a fight.

    I'll keep this in mind at least.
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