Sometimes someone is just too good at something. There is no way you can beat them at it. Or they have humiliated you once too often in their field of expertise. You decide to fix it so they can never beat you ever again.

CripplingTheCompetition is when someone, usually a villain, injures someone in such a way to prevent them from doing what they are best at. A SubTrope of CareerEndingInjury, CripplingTheCompetition is always a deliberate act done with malice and forethought. Can overlap with GameBreakingInjury if it occurs during the final showdown.

When applied to superpowered beings, this trope may lead to them being BroughtDownToNormal.

Often overlaps with {{Fingore}}. Frequently leads to ThrowingOffTheDisability. A SubTrope of RemovingTheRival. It's commonly the purpose of UnnecessaryRoughness, unless the roughness has no purpose and is just ForTheEvulz.

Different from MakeAnExampleOfThem, where in some cases the victim's punishment might deliberately target their ability to perform, but the motivation is not the fear of competition. For example, in CripplingTheCompetition, a bunch of mobsters might break the legs of a championship marathon runner so the guy they're betting on will win, whereas with MakeAnExampleOfThem, the mobsters break the marathon runner's legs because he failed to pay his gambling debts.

Not to be confused with BlastingItOutOfTheirHands. If the person being crippled attempts to compete or fight anyway, this may lead into YouCanBarelyStand.

!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Early in ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'', Kenshin encounters a thug posing as Kenshin's old assassin persona and creating a lot of trouble. When he defeats the guy, Kenshin smashes his fingers with the hilt of his sword so that the thug will never be able to use a sword again. Also, early in his days of being a TechnicalPacifist, Kenshin chopped off an opponent's arm instead of killing him. The opponent thought this was a deliberate CruelMercy (as opposed to killing him honorably), and comes back for revenge with an ArmCannon.
* In ''RoseOfVersailles'', Oscar shoots a guy's gun hand in a duel, as this is the only way she can punish him for shooting a peasant boy in cold blood.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'':
** Anime episode 28. During the fight between Uryu Ishida and the Soul Reaper Jirobo Ikkanzaka, Uryu fires an arrow into Jirobo in such a way as to prevent him from using spiritual pressure and thus making it impossible to continue as a Soul Reaper.
** Anime episode 156. Uryu Ishida does the same thing to the arrancar Cirucci Sanderwicci, firing an arrow into her chest to seal off her power.
* In ''GunsmithCats'', Rally has a habit of shooting the hands (specifically the trigger fingers) of opposing gunmen. Some have come back looking for revenge because of their crippled hands.
* ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'': Kodachi Kuno tries doing this to Ranma before their big match. However, Akane thwarts each effort. Ryoga also tries to beat up Ranma before the match, but the fight lasts the entire night without a winner.
* In the anime of ''Manga/DeathNote'', Matsuda, upon finding out that [[spoiler: Light is the guy behind all of the Death Note incidents, shoots Light's hands to prevent him from ever writing into a Death Note again. Not that it matters much, as Light dies shortly afterwards.]]
* An early episode of ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' depicted such a scenario; to increase his chances of winning an upcoming Pokémon race, a man named Dario hires Team Rocket to do this to his rival Lara Laramie, which they do by spooking her Ponyta, causing it to throw her off and break her arm, leaving Ash to win the race in her stead. In ''Manga/TheElectricTaleOfPikachu'', this plotline is retained with one difference: Dario spooks said Ponyta and knocks Lara off of it himself.
* ''IceRevolution'': The slashed thigh that nearly ended Saaya's career is implied to have resulted from a skating rivalry gone bad similar to the RealLife Harding/Kerigan affair. Subverted when we meet the so-called perpetrator and learn that it truly was an accident and she's still haunted by guilt.
* In ''Manga/PingPong: The Animation'', Coach Koizumi shares a tale with Smile: In his youth, he ended up playing the finale of a tournament, which would have have made his career, against his best friend. Said best friend had a hurt knee and Koizumi knew he could probably win if he intentionally kept playing towards that knee with the intent of overburdening it, but chose not to and therefore lost. In the climax of the anime [[spoiler:Smile and Pedro are put against each other in the BigGame's finale, but Pedro hurt his knee in the quarter-finals. The last thing we see [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome before the match]] is Smile telling Koizumi "[[CallBack I can do it]]". Cut to the WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue and we learn he didn't.]]

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* In ''ComicBook/JonahHex'' #11 (original series), a gambler Jonah caught cheating hires thugs to ambush Jonah and breaks his hands with a sledge hammer.
* In an issue of ''{{Hawkman}}'', GreenArrow stops the villainous archer the Spider by shooting out the Spider's eye, destroying his ability to aim unless he manages to switch handedness.
* In ''TheDarkKnightReturns'', it's strongly implied that Superman amputated Green Arrow's arm to force his former ally to abandon his vigilante activities. Subverted in that GA can still shoot his bow using his teeth to draw the string and gets a bionic arm in the sequel.
* In a ''{{Thorgal}}'' comic, Thorgal and his friends, excellent bowmen taking part in an archery competition, are jumped by a group of thugs led by their competitor, who says that there's no need to kill them... just break their wrists.

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[[folder: Fairy Tales ]]

* In "Literature/TheGratefulBeasts", Ferko's brothers think he's too good-looking and everyone takes a fancy to him; they will get on better without him. So they break his legs and put his eyes out before abandoning him.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction ]]

* In the pro wrestling story, ''A Ring of Their Own'', the Beautiful People attack Taylor Wilde in the locker room, making her unable to wrestle in the finals of the FWF Tag Team Title Tournament, making them the winners by default.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* In ''Film/TheQuickAndTheDead'', Ratsy breaks Cort's right hand before his gunfight with Herod, forcing him to fight with his left hand.
* In ''[[Film/TheMightyDucks D2: The Mighty Ducks]]'', Wolf "The Dentist" Stanson whacks Gordon Bombay's bad leg, keeping Bombay from winning a game of three bar against him.
* In ''Film/ShootEmUp'', Hertz tortures Smith by breaking his trigger fingers and then threatens to cut his eyes out. This ends very badly for Hertz.
* In the film version of ''Film/{{Daredevil}}'', Bulls Eye's hands are injured in the climactic battle with Daredevil, and he says, "You took away my hands! Show mercy!"
* A possible inversion (or just unusual example) in the ''Mariachi Trilogy''. In the backstory shown in ''{{Desperado}}'', the Mariachi received a hand wound that ruins him as a guitar player. However, it doesn't do anything to impair his later ImprobableAimingSkills as a gunfighter.
* Not exactly a Western, but the same philosophy is shown in the film version ''Film/StarshipTroopers''.
-->'''Ace Levy:''' Sir, I don't understand. What good's a knife in a nuke fight? All you have to do is press a button, sir.
-->'''Career Sergeant Zim:''' Put your hand on that wall, trooper. [Ace hesitates] PUT YOUR HAND ON THAT WALL! [Zim throws a knife and hits Ace's hand, pinning it to the wall] The enemy cannot press a button... if you have disabled his hand. Medic!
** Note that his answer was completely different in the book.
* In ''Film/TheHustler'', 'Fast Eddie' Felson has his thumbs broken by a pool shark who doesn't like being hustled.
* In ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars'', the bad guys stomp on Clint Eastwood's hands while beating him.
* In ''Film/{{Django}}'', bandits ride over Django's hands with horses in retaliation for stealing gold from them.
* ''Film/KungFuHustle'': the Harpist manage to cut the palms of Donut, whose specialty is with [[SimpleStaff staffs]].
* In the 1949 FilmNoir ''The Set-Up'', a washed-up boxer wins a fight he was supposed to lose. The mobsters who put the fix on the fight retaliate by breaking his hand so he can never box again.
* In ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'', Commodus restrains and stabs Maximus [[GameBreakingInjury just prior to their final, climactic arena duel]] in order to gain the upper hand during the fight.
* In ''Film/BladeRunner'', Roy Batty breaks Deckard's fingers to hamper his ability to use his gun. Deckard starts using his other hand instead.
* ''[[StarWars Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace]]'' has champion podracer Sebulba "accidentally" bump another podracer, messing it up and making it unable to race.
* At the end of ''Film/{{El Mariachi}}'', the main antagonist shoots the mariachi's hand, preventing him from playing guitar.

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[[folder: Folklore ]]

* A popular (but questionable) etymology for the profane variant of the VSign is that it came from archers taunting enemy soldiers who would cut off the middle and index fingers of any archers they captured (Welsh archers taunting Englishmen or English archers taunting Frenchmen tend to be the most common).
* PecosBill is often reputed to have shot off his opponents' trigger fingers in gunfights. He can be seen doing this in the movie ''Film/TallTale''.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''/''Series/GameOfThrones'': [[spoiler:Jamie Lannister, one of the top swordsmen in the Seven Kingdoms]] has his hand cut off by Vargo Hoat.
* In the backstory of ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'', the main character was a hacker who was caught stealing and punished by being given a treatment that destroyed his ability to interface with [[{{Cyberspace}} the matrix.]]
* The "Waxahachie Smith" series by Creator/JTEdson is about a gunfighter who had his trigger fingers amputated by vengeful foes.
* In Creator/JulesVerne's ''Michel Strogoff'', the eponymous character is blinded by having his eyes exposed to a heated iron by his foes.
* One of the ''[[Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo 1632]]'' novels had a violinist who had had his left hand crippled by a jealous rival.
* In the backstory of ''Assassin of Literature/{{Gor}}'', a [[CallASmeerpARabbit chess]] player was blinded by a powerful man whom he had beaten in a game. But he is still able to play because he can visualize the board.
* A rare heroic example occurs in BrianDaley Brian Daley's ''Han Solo Adventures'' after Han gets roped into a formal duel against the notorious gunslinger Gallandro he conspires to stun both of their right hands. This forces Gallandro to concede since Solo is ambidextrous and Gallandro isn't.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In the ''[[Series/TheTwilightZone Twilight Zone]]'' episode "Mr. Denton on Doomsday'', the title character, a washed up Retired Gunfighter faces off against a young wannabee in a duel, both using a potion granting quick draw abilities. Both men manage to inflict hand injuries preventing each other from ever using guns again. Denton sees this as a blessing, as it will prevent either from engaging in any more reckless duels.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Bones}}'' the VictimOfTheWeek had done this to himself shortly before he was killed: he slammed his right hand with a desk drawer to break it, in order to remove the temptation of going to a music school to study piano.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Coach}}'' the Orlando Breakers are in Buffalo to play the Bills when Luther accepts a dinner of Buffalo Wings from a bar/restaurant called "Buffalo Billy's." The entire team comes down with food poisoning and Coach Fox has to draft anyone he can find to fill the uniforms. Afterwards, Luther goes back to "Billy's" and asks the owner if it was intentional. The owner says no, but isn't too convincing about it.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]

* A very regular occurrence, usually where the heel will attack his face opponent before a big match to gain the upper hand.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* A self-inflicted example from ''{{Arcanum}}'': William Thorndop, formerly the world's greatest marksman, has [[TheAtoner taken a vow of non-violence]], and cut off his own trigger fingers to make sure he can never hold a firearm again.
* Throughout the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series, you can use target shots to aim at enemy body parts. Shooting the eyes or head lowers their accuracy, shooting the arms may prevent them from using certain weapons, and shooting the legs lowers movement speed.
* In ''JadeEmpire'', an early sidequest requires you to heal an injured fellow student so she can take part in a competition against you. The Open Palm choice is to get her a medicine that actually heals her, but if you prefer the Closed Fist, you can give her an ointment that only removes the pain, resulting in her starting the fight with much less health and ending up crippled for life. For extra adherence to the Closed Fist ideology (one of the few cases when it's actually used correctly) you can reveal to her what you did afterwards, and tell her that relying on you made her weak - she should have dealt with her problem on her own.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/CuantaVida'', this turns out to be the [[spoiler:modus operandi of the BigBad, Rojo]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* ''[[http://vimeo.com/8019775 Sticks to the Wall]]'', a parody of spaghetti westerns, opens with it.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In the finale of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', [[spoiler:Aang uses Spiritbending to rob [[BigBad Firelord Ozai]] of his firebending ability, taking away the threat he poses to the world without breaking Aang's ThouShaltNotKill policy.]]
* One of the [[MonsterOfTheWeek villains of the week]] in ''[[TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]'' (2003 series) is Mephos, an [[WingedHumanoid Avian]] who was punished for crimes against his race by having the wings torn from his back and being forced to live as a human.
* On ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' Sinestro (accidentally) cuts off both of Green Lantern's hands. Green Lantern counters by finding [[PhallicWeapon someplace else to wear his ring]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode where Mr. Burns forces his way onto Homer's bowling team (for which he was tricked into writing a $500 check), the team is disgusted at the old man's complete ineptitude but cannot simply kick him off. Moe hatches a plan to bash in his knee with a lead pipe so he can't play. Unfortunately, he does so when Burns is already indisposed and his whack on the knee has the exact opposite effect: the injured Burns is able to play again.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/CowAndChicken'', the Red Guy injures Chicken's ice skating partner, which is most likely a ShoutOut to the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan fiasco.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', Bender drugs a bunch of race horses (and a jockey who caught him) so the only one he hasn't drugged will win and net him a big payoff.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Figure skater Tonya Harding's then-husband, Jeff Gilooly, hired someone to attack her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, with a tire iron. The extent of Harding's own involvement remains debatable.
* A journalist asked former {{Tennis}} player [[{{Tennis}} Rod Laver]] (a contender for the Greatest of All Time title) how he would go about beating current player [[{{Tennis}} Roger Federer]] (another contender), if they had been professional at the same time. Laver replied "Hit him over the head with a tennis racquet."
** Also in tennis, an obsessive [[{{Tennis}} Steffi Graf]] fan infamously stabbed her rival [[{{Tennis}} Monica Seles]] during a match in 1993.
* Twenty-seven members of the New Zealand national rugby team developed food poisoning two days before the grand final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, where they were to play host nation South Africa. Legend has it, it was deliberate act by a mysterious waitress called "Suzie".

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