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Eleventh Hour Handicap
inverse of the Eleventh Hour Superpower
Description Needs Help Needs Examples

(permanent link) added: 2013-03-10 21:14:50 sponsor: Stratadrake (last reply: 2013-03-22 20:38:54)

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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.

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