Created By: EarnestOctober 15, 2013 Last Edited By: EarnestJanuary 19, 2014
Troped

Untouchable Until Tagged

One lucky stab or shot leads to a death-ensuring dogpile.

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Trope

Has a name crowner, please vote! =3

"The more that hit you, the more that will."
Callista Ming, Star Wars: Children of the Jedi

This is when a hero, usually the hero or a top-billed friend of theirs, seems to be doing absolutely great in a fight — no enemy even so much as grazes them— only to suddenly get an unlucky stab/shot get through their defenses. And just like a Dutch dam, one little leak (of blood) is all it takes for their whole defense to come down and every enemy Mook to land dozens more attacks and quickly ending them.

Normally the initial attack was already lethal and everything else was just icing on the cake. Usually they still manage to kill a few dozen more enemies before being felled by injuries. This is often caused by enemies (either intentionally or through luck) exploiting the character's Achilles Heel (whether Attack Its Weak Point, Kryptonite Factor or other things).

A couple of subversions are to have the character survive the onslaught and show up some time later, have the lucky hit cause a Minor Injury Overreaction, or become akin to a wrecking ball pin-cushion that's more destructive for having been put so close to death (without actually dying). An aversion is to merely have them take grazing damage throughout, or have lethal attacks kill instantly or post battle.

A side wide version of this trope that replaces the lone hero with a Mook Maker structure is a common occurrence in Real Time Strategy games, especially in mods similar to DOTA or AOS. Units can keep slaughtering each other for all eternity, but losing a single unit-producing structure almost guarantees that side's doom as their defenses are swamped (unless they manage to balance out the numbers).

See also Keystone Army. Contrast Minor Injury Overreaction. Compare One Hit Point Wonder. Compare Injured Vulnerability, Lowered Monster Difficulty, and Not So Invincible After All.

Comic Books
  • At the end of the Marvel Comics Onslaught crisis the Hulk hits Onslaught so hard there's a tiny crack in his armor, which is more than anyone else could do. This is all the other heroes need to finally get through to defeat him.

Film
  • The Matrix Reloaded. For most of the "Burly Brawl" fight between Neo and Agent Smith Neo does quite well, not defeating the Smiths but holding his own. Near the end, as Neo is jumping from one Smith to the other, a Smith jumps out of nowhere and takes him down, allowing all of the other Smiths to dogpile on him. Because he's the One he throws them off and escapes, but it's a near thing.
  • When Boromir is fending off the Uruk-Hai in Lord Of The Rings he is killing them non-stop with nary a lucky hit, until their leader manages to snipe him from afar.
  • Mars Attacks Near the end Byron Williams faces off against a horde of Martians in hand to hand combat so the others can escape. He repeatedly punches the Martians until one of them jumps on his back and prevents him from defending himself, whereupon the rest swarm over him and take him down. Watch it here.

Literature
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • October 16, 2013
    DAN004
  • October 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    At the end of the Marvel Comics Onslaught crisis the Hulk hits Onslaught so hard there's a tiny crack in his armor, which is more than anyone else could do. This is all the other heroes need to finally get through to defeat him.
  • October 16, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Mars Attacks. Near the end Byron Williams faces off against a horde of Martians in hand to hand combat so the others can escape. He repeatedly punches the Martians until one of them jumps on his back and prevents him from defending himself, whereupon the rest swarm over him and take him down. Watch it here.
  • October 17, 2013
    kjnoren
    This isn't a Montage. The trope name made me think of the montage where all the Jedi are killed in Revenge of the Sith.
  • October 17, 2013
    Koveras
    How about that scene where Boromir is fending off the Uruk-Hai in Lord Of The Rings until their leader manages to snipe him from afar?
  • November 29, 2013
    DracMonster
    Compare Critical Existence Failure, where a (usually Video Game) character keeps operating at full efficiency no matter what damage they take until they drop dead. (This is a Sister Trope, I think.)

    This also goes hand-in-hand with Plot Armor and Conservation Of Ninjutsu — it's basically where they stop working because the Hero Killer said so.

    Current title works good, but as an alternative, Plot Armor Piercing Round.
  • November 29, 2013
    StarSword
    Page quote:
    "The more that hit you, the more that will."
    Callista Ming, Star Wars: Children of the Jedi

    Literature:
  • November 29, 2013
    DAN004
  • November 30, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
  • November 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • The Matrix Reloaded. For most of the "Burly Brawl" fight between Neo and Agent Smith Neo does quite well, not defeating the Smiths but holding his own. Near the end, as Neo is jumping from one Smith to the other, a Smith leaps out of nowhere and takes him down, allowing all of the other Smiths to dogpile on him. Because he's the One he throws them off and escapes, but it's a near thing.
  • November 30, 2013
    DAN004
  • November 30, 2013
    kjnoren
    I think Plot Piercing Round or Plot Piercing Bullet sounds better than Plot Armor Piercing Round. Or Plot Piercing Projectile, if one is set on alliteration.
  • November 30, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Metaphorgotten much? :P

    It isn't "plot" that is being pierced, it's Plot Armor.
  • December 1, 2013
    kjnoren
    The trouble with snowcloning Plot Armor is that [Armor Piercing] binds harder than [Plot Armor], due to the pre-existing term.

    Come to think of it, I'm not sure this trope has that much to do with Plot Armor. This is one way that the cessation (or cancellation) of Plot Armor happens, but the trope is really about a specific sequence of events, that really isn't related to the plot at all.

    Escalating Smackdown maybe? (Can certainly be improved.)
  • December 1, 2013
    DAN004
    I kinda remembered about one proverb/saying that involves a crack that's getting bigger with each pressure, but I forgot how exactly it sounds.

    BTW subtrope of Advantage Ball? I thought we also have a YKTTW called "Victory Ball" that sounds similar to this one.
  • December 1, 2013
    Earnest
    ^The straw that broke the camel's back? May indeed be a subtrope Advantage Ball, in that the character loses it at the worst possible time.

    I've been giving it some thought, and Plot Armor is a relevant consideration to the trope. Even if the story doesn't use it (and the most skilled fighters really can just wade fearlessly through waves of mooks) using this trope would cancel out the (non-inflated? Naturally ocurring?) Plot Armor to cause a dramatic death. Still, I think most examples are going to come from series with pretty thick plot armor, we'll have to see if further example bear this out.

    I think I'll keep the current title of Plot Armor Piercing Round for the time being. Escalating Smackdown doesn't really convey the character having the sudden reversal of fortunes. That said, I'm open to the idea of using names without Plot Armor in it.
  • December 1, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    Wafer Thin Plot Armor? snowclones the existing Wafer Thin Mint which is about "the last straw that broken the camel's back", so it shows the trope at least. that's still better than the Did You Just Index Cthulhu snowclones if you ask me.
  • December 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    Do not try to make a Plot Armor snowclone - it's currently in TRS, and the more I consider things, the clearer it is that this trope has nothing to do with Plot Armor.

    If anything, this trope is about dramatics in death, not with the plot.
  • December 2, 2013
    DAN004
    Compare Lowered Monster Difficulty.

    The more I see this, the more I think this is indeed Victory Ball. :P
  • December 2, 2013
    Chabal2
    See also Keystone Army.

    A common occurence in DOTA or AOS-type games: units can keep slaughtering each other for all enternity, but losing a single unit-producing structure almost guarantees that side's doom as their defenses are swamped (unless they manage to balance out the numbers).
  • December 2, 2013
    DracMonster
    @kjnoren: I disagree. This is about someone who's untouchable until the Hero Killer gets his shot in, then suddenly he's an easy target. It's not always Plot Armor (if he's driving an actual tank, for instance) but 99% of the time it is.

    Plot Armor is in many ways about dramatics too - its basically a side-effect of A Million Is A Statistic. Protagonists have Plot Armor because we care about them and don't want them to die like a punk. This is the logical endpoint of that in a tragic episode.

    Again, sometimes he has some kind of literal armor or other ability to justify it, but it's rare.

    Now having said that, there may be enough of the "other" cases to justify a different name, I'm not stuck on that one. Untouchable Until Tagged was fairly clear too.
  • December 7, 2013
    Earnest
    ^^^ Do you mean Advantage Ball?

    Also, any more thougths on the name?
  • December 7, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^^ Plot Armor is that a character can't be killed (or otherwise permanently removed from the plot) since he or she serves a plot purpose. In a way, every character in a work serves like this—it really only becomes noticeable once you have a multi-creator setup, or when writing prequels.

    The way I read this trope is that it more concerns itself with a single scene. Overpowering the enemies first, then getting hit once, which leads to being mobbed and killed.

    So I view the two tropes as orthogonal, and Plot Armor is in TRS, and might have its name changed or definition changed, so I see two strong reasons for not making a snowclone here.

    I think Untouchable Until Tagged is both clearer and more concise in this case.
  • December 7, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    name idea - Tagged For Death
  • December 7, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Earnest: We have a YKTTW called "Victory Ball" (and both that and this one are related to Advantage Ball).

    Adding to description: This is often caused by one's Achilles Heel (whether Attack Its Weak Point, Kryptonite Factor or other things).
  • December 10, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Possible Live Action Film example:

    District Nine: The Prawn Mini Mecha appears to be Immune To Bullets until it gets hit with a BFG (specifically, a South African 30mm anti-tank rifle), and from that point onwards it gets more and more easily damaged until it gets shut down by a simple 9mm pistol. Wikus still gets his fair amount of mileage out of it, though.
  • December 10, 2013
    StarSword
    ^It's spelled Wikus, not Vikus. (It's Dutch.)
  • December 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Maybe not "Untouchable" - although that my fit a Fragile Speedster who managed to get hit. :P

    So what would be the right word? I kinda wanna suggest Unstoppable, but...
  • December 11, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    ^^Thanks. (headdesk). Edited.
  • December 11, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    while Untouchable Until Tagged is exactly about the trope. it sounds too much like a gameplay element, where someone playing a variant of tag is the it and cannot be touched (?) until someone tags him.
  • December 11, 2013
    kjnoren
    By that logic, almost every trope here has an ambigious name, all other alternatives given so far has been less clear and less concise. And we haven't received any wrong examples yet here in YKTTW.
  • December 11, 2013
    DAN004
  • December 13, 2013
    Earnest
    Reading through Mortality Ensues, I think it could work.

    We've got enough name suggestions that I'm making a crowner for it. Crowner link.
  • December 14, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^^ it's not a bad nor confusing name. it's just exactly as i said it is (to me).

    Not That Theres Anything Wrong With That.

    downvoted both leading names. there's gotta be better options.
  • December 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Maybe something like Fateful Firstblood or Defence Breaking Wound?
  • December 16, 2013
    Earnest
  • January 19, 2014
    Earnest
    Bumping for hats and crowner votes. =)

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable