Created By: Stratadrake on March 10, 2013 Last Edited By: Stratadrake on March 31, 2015

Eleventh Hour Handicap

inverse of the Eleventh Hour Superpower

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Do We Have This One?? Description needs ideas to help flesh it out. And it Needs More Examples of the non-videogame variety, if you please!


Fate can be a cruel mistress around the climax of a narrative. Sometimes, when The Hero is gearing up to finally take down the Big Bad or save the world from that Eldritch Abomination, destiny decides that the hero hasn't suffered enough (or has gotten a bit too cocky), and deals him one last calamity right before the throwdown.

The actual form of this handicap has many variations: It's often an actual physical injury (broken arm, loss of sight or hearing, etc.), but it could be a magic- or Phlebotinum-based handicap, such as having his superpowers nullified (or worse, stolen) by the Big Bad. It can also potentially result from other means, such as a villain calling the hero out on a bad bet made earlier.

And if the hero hasn't faced his Darkest Hour yet, he certainly will now; the final test of his Heroic Resolve is about to begin and he has to face it with one proverbial hand tied behind his back.

Note that while this is in many ways the opposite of an Eleventh Hour Superpower, the two can (and sometimes do) overlap: Sometimes Power Loss Makes You Strong, with the handicap being what enables the superpower to occur (often borne from a non-handicapped source, like Love or Friendship). Or maybe the only thing lost was a Magic Feather, and the hero only needs to realize that he actually did posess the needed strength all along.

It can be subverted if the hero is Not Left-Handed; but most of the time the handicap is for real.

Note that, like many other tropes occuring near the climax of a work, many examples will contain spoilers. You have been warned!


Video Games

  • Upon entering The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in Final Fantasy VIII, the player quickly discovers that all of their skills (barring basic attacks) have been sealed; they must find and defeat bosses throughout the dungeon to break the seals before they have a chance of facing down the Final Boss.
  • In the Gameboy Color RPG version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry loses access to most of his spells and his party (barring the revived phoenix) and must use the rather disappointingly weak sword of Gryffindor and card combos.
  • The Freeware RPG Middens, many of the Nomads moves are removed for the final fight for plot reasons.
  • Right at the start of the Final Boss battle in Ōkami, a Total Eclipse of the Plot deprives the player (the sun god) of all their brush powers, and they spend most of the battle earning them back ... only for the boss's final form to snuff out the player's powers again, and it's the people's faith that gives them the necessary power to fight and defeat the boss for good.
  • Nearing the end of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, an upgrade program given to the player earlier finally activates, granting Jehuty teleport abilities (and a few Attack Drones). However, right as the final battle against Anubis starts, Jehuty takes severe damage, losing basically everything except its basic sword attacks and newly-acquired teleport ability -- the bare minimum needed to face the final boss on an equal field.

Western Animation

  • In the third-season finale of Dragon Booster, Artha is injured in a fight against the Shadow Booster the day before a final game to determine whether he or his rival will be admitted to the city's prestigious racing academy, forcing him to play through the game despite his injury.

Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • March 11, 2013
    32ndfreeze
    In the last episode of Merlin, Merlin loses his magic in the first half of the episode after getting attacked by a magic draining creature.
  • March 11, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I think this is covered by Deus Exit Machina (formerly Break The Gamebreaker)
  • March 11, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Wow, a snowclone already. It's definitely relatable, but not the same.
  • March 11, 2013
    SalmonPunch
    Added some examples as it was requesting them. and I'd say this is different than "Break the game-breaker" because this could apply to non game-breaking things as well. Such as almost all your moves in the Harry Potter GBC game.
  • March 11, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Additionally, a Deus Exit Machina doesn't have to happen during the eleventh hour. Take Professor X in the three X-Men films: He was poisoned, mind-controlled, and ultimately killed -- all three being a Deus Exit Machina, but all three happening well before the climax.
  • March 12, 2013
    aurora369
    Final Fantasy VIII: When Squall and co enter the Castle of Ultimecia, they discover that the magical guardians of the castle block all their powers except Attack Attack Attack. They have to beat the guardians before taking on Ultimecia, because without their nifty powers they coudn't beat the Final Boss.
  • March 18, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Needs more (non-videogame) examples! Eleventh Hour Superpower is not videogame specific (never was, really) and neither is this.
  • March 18, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Iron Man 1, Tony's upgraded arc reactor is stolen and he has to make do with his prototype. However, that one wasn't designed to integrate with his newest suit, so it loses power faster. By the time he's suited up and arrives for the final battle, he has only 19% power left.
  • March 18, 2013
    Koveras
    Dunno if it counts since it does not exactly happen at the end:

    • The fight with the penultimate (and already the hardest) boss in Deus Ex Human Revolution becomes exponentially harder if he manages to disable all of your augmentations beforehand (only if you replaced your control chip in Heng-Sha).
  • March 19, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Description: A lot of the time this setback comes about as an injury inflicted on The Hero near the climax, or loss of senses like sight and hearing. Maybe The Hero made a bad bet, and the villain took him up on it. The The Hero might also be Brought Down To Normal, by the villain too, either by sealing his powers so he's unable to use them, or outright stealing them away.

    Fortunately sometimes Power Loss Makes You Strong, and The Hero can usually find a solution to defeat the Villain with his handicap, and return everything to normal at the end.

    compare: Absurdly High Stakes Game, where the characters often have a handicap while they make life or death gambles.

    Film
    • The Karate Kid (1986): In the first film Daniel's legs are badly injured just before his final fight in the karate tournament. He gets better though. Mr. Miyagi heals him

    Anime And Manga
    • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure: In part II Jojo makes a bet with the pillar men that if they let him live for one month he'd be able to train enough to defeat them. To ensure he keeps his end of the bet, 2 out of 3 of the pillar men attach wedding rings to Jojo that will infect him with a deadly poison if he doesn't kill them, and drink their antidote in 30 days. Leading up to the final battle for each.

    Light Novels
    • In Accel World: A new enemy Dusk Taker steals Silver Crow's wings that give him his aviation ability, and uses it for himself, forcing Silver Crow to find a way to fly again so he can defeat him for real. Silver Crow has to regain his aviation ability twice to defeat Dusk Taker, once with special equipment, and Training From Hell to learn how to use it. And the second time when Lime Bell rollback's Dusk Taker's and Silver Crow's avatars to how they were before his wings were stolen.
  • March 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    • The final Night Elf mission in Warcraft III prevents you from using Chimeras, their most powerful flying unit (on a Hold The Line mission, it'd be a Game Breaker).
      • The final Night Elf mission in the Frozen Throne also prevents you from using either Night Elf or Naga flyers on the grounds that the Undead's "flying horrors fill the sky!". Nevermind that a halfway competent player could easily take on the units seen with their flyers...
      • The final Blood Elf mission takes place inside a demonic fortress, preventing you from using flyers (and Kael'thas' ultimate spell, which summons a phoenix).
  • March 20, 2013
    Stratadrake
    @Koveras: Where videogames are concerned, if the handicap is only a possibility (not a plot-mandated requirement) then I'd say it isn't an example.
  • March 20, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ OK. It wasn't the straightest example, anyway...
  • March 20, 2013
    thewriter
  • March 20, 2013
    Generality
    They all touch on it, but none cover this specific plot scenario. It could be a subtrope of Brought Down To Normal, though, which is in turn a subtrope of Depower.
  • March 21, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^^ At a quick surface glance, none of those match (they are related, though). GBI is already a Sub Trope of DPH, and Depower says it requires that the character already possess super powers to lose.

  • March 21, 2013
    McKathlin
    Films - Animated
    • In Disney's Hercules, Hades' foretold day for unleashing the Titans to take over Olympus arrives, so he makes a deal with Hercules: Meg will be set free and come to no harm, in exchange for Hercules' giving up his Super Strength for a day. Hercules accepts, so he's no match for the rampaging titans, until Meg gets hurt, which makes the deal void and Hercules' strength returns.
  • March 22, 2013
    xanderiskander
    After thinking about it I don't think Eleventh Hour is an accurate descriptor for the title. Since eleventh hour basically means for it to happen at the last minute, and the handicap can also happen at the middle of a narrative or toward the beginning of an arc in an episodic work.

    I'd maybe find a way to fit Darkest Hour into the title somehow? Like Handicapped Dark Hour or something similar.

    I'd also note that the handicap can lead to Heroic BSOD for the character it happens to.

    by the way why didn't you add any of the non video game examples others gave?
  • March 22, 2013
    Generality
    If it doesn't happen at the end, though, it's just Brought Down To Normal.
  • March 22, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^It can also happen before the end if it's a result of Crippling The Competition or The Bet.

    I could see how Handicapped Dark Hour wouldn't sound quite as good as Eleventh Hour Handicap though.
  • March 22, 2013
    CrankyStalfos1
    Possible example: he's not the main hero, but on Supernatural Castiel has lost all his angel mojo by the time the finale of the Apocalypse rolls around.
  • March 31, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump, who wanna grab this?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=q204vzipays4pvcnp8d15q2l