Created By: MetaFour on October 21, 2010 Last Edited By: MetaFour on October 25, 2010

Unstoppable Force vs Immovable Object

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I'm starting to think there's two possible tropes here. One about opposite absolute forces, and one about the use of "unstoppable force meets immovable object" as a Stock Phrase. I need better titles for both.

Two diametrically-opposed forces exist in the same 'verse. Both forces are stated to be absolutes. Naturally, someone (if not in the story, then in the fandom) will wonder what happens when the two forces clash.

There's two conceivable outcomes of this hypothetical clash:
  1. One (or both) of these forces proves to be less absolute than advertised. This can play out a few ways:
    • One of them is simply stronger.
    • Both of them destroy the other, which could be interpreted as a win or a loss for both of them. For example, when you block the Unstoppable Sword with the Unbreakable Shield, both will simply break.
    • Both of them remain completely evenly matched until some outside force intervenes. Sealed Evil in a Duel works on this principle.
  2. Both these forces are absolute, and the logical paradox destroys the universe.

  • Shield and Sword from Suikoden: Shield can withstand anything, and Sword can destroy anything.
  • The X-Men foes: The Juggernaut's superpowers boil down to being an Unstoppable Force, and The Blob's powers boil down to being an Immovable Object.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • October 21, 2010
    • A classic example comes from the Han Feizi. A merchant selling spears and shields claims that his spears can pierce anything and his shields can't be broken. When someone asks him what would happen if he were to strike the shield with the spear, he is unable to answer. This is where the Chinese word for "contradiction" comes from, and there are a lot of examples that reference this story directly.

    And three video game examples:
    • The Han Feizi story is retold in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The "King of Prosecutors" trophy is a broken shield and knife, showing the result of the truth being pursued to its conclusion.
    • One mini-boss in The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages is defeated this way. You have to trick it into hitting its unbreakable shield with its unbreakable sword to destroy both.
    • The Iron Clefts in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door claim that their bodies can withstand any attack and their spikes can pierce anything. To defeat them, you have to knock them into each other with Yoshi's Gulp attack.
  • October 21, 2010
    The Incredible Hulk #272. Hulk and Sasquatch ram Wendigo using downed trees, with Wendigo in the middle.
    The Wendigo becomes the immovable force between two irresistable objects.

    Not exactly what you're getting at I know.
  • October 21, 2010
    • This is invoked by name in a Superman comic in which Superboy travels forward in time -- Superman is the irresistible force, Superboy the immovable object. The result is that Superboy gets sent back to his home time.
  • October 21, 2010
    i still feel like Unstoppable Vs Immovable sounds better as a trope name, but then again that's what years of debating Marvel comics does to a person. xD
  • October 21, 2010
    3) As a corollary of (1), these forces cancel each other out: The irresistible force is stopped, but the immovable object is moved.
  • October 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Another Superman example coms courtesy of Grant Morrison's All Star Superman. His solution? "They surrender."
  • October 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    The Case Of Untstoppable Force V Immovable Object may be too long, but I like it.
  • October 21, 2010
    There is Russian joke about it:
    Vovochka, what will happen if unstoppable force will affect unmovable object
    Vodka price will rise?
    Why do you think so?
    'Cause my dad always says: First some weird crap happen - then vodka price will rise.
  • October 22, 2010
    The old Johnny Mercer standard sung by Fred Astaire to Leslie Caron in 1955's Daddy Long-Legs:

    When an irresistible force, such as you,
    Meets an old immovable object like me,
    You can bet just as sure as you live,
    Something's gotta give --
    Something's gotta give --
    Something's gotta give!

  • October 22, 2010
    I think there are actually three possible outcomes to this trope:

    1. One ends up being simply stronger than the other. (eg, I believe it's been stated that the Juggernaut would be able to move the Blob, simply because the Juggernaut is more Unstoppable than the Blob is Immovable)
    2. The two end up destroying each other, which can be construed as both a win and a loss. (eg, the shield does stop the sword, but is destroyed in the process -- likewise, the sword does break the shield, but is also destroyed in the process)
    3. The two end up cancelling each other out, leaving them both unharmed but impotent. Less common with literal unstoppable/immovable, but happens with other equal-but-opposites. (eg, Sealed Evil In A Duel works on this principle. They can't defeat each other, so they effectively cancel each other out.)
  • October 23, 2010
    Modified the OP. I think a separate trope is needed about "unstoppable force, immovable object" as a Stock Phrase.

    On that note, the Joker compared himself and Batman to this in that one movie.
  • October 24, 2010
    4. Chuck Norris dies.
  • October 24, 2010
    In Wo W there is a Mace called Unstoppable Force and a shield called Immovable Object, both were one of the easiest to obtain Epic gear and really good, before the first expansion pack was released then they became next to useless.

    They became sort of a running gag when facing off vs each other if it will come to this trope.
  • October 24, 2010
    ^ There were also the grey Stoppable Force and Movable Object.
  • October 25, 2010
  • October 25, 2010
    ^^ I knew about the stoppable force but I have never seen a movable object lol
  • October 25, 2010
    You could rename this to something along the lines of Yin Yan Clash, and have the Stock Phrase one as Unstoppable Force vs Immovable Object.
  • October 25, 2010
    Yin Yang Clash. Me likey.