-->"Once there was this girl who swore that one day she would be a figure skating champion\\
And when she finally made it, she saw some other girl who was better\\
And so she hired some guy to club her in the knee cap"
-->---'''Music/WeirdAlYankovic''', "Headline News" (see the Real Life folder for the incident that inspired this)

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.

Crippling the Competition 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, Crippling the Competition is always a deliberate act done with malice and forethought. Can overlap with GameBreakingInjury if it occurs during the final showdown.

Sometimes, the opponent to the crippled competition isn't actually the one who did the deed, and said opponent may not even have desired it. In these cases, the person responsible for crippling the competition generally is either [[UnwantedAssistance a misguided fan trying to help]], or a third party that stands to gain from a certain outcome of the match.

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.



[[folder:Anime & 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 ''Manga/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 ''Manga/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 Kunō tries doing this to Ranma before their big match. However, Akane thwarts each effort. Ryōga 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.
* ''Manga/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.]]
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh'', before reaching Pegasus's island. Insector Haga throws Yugi's Exodia cards off the ship to sabotage his chances off winning. He also does this to Joey, in the Battle City arc.
* ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa'' has some players who invoke this trope as much as possible in the soccer fields, with Makoto Souda as the most infamous example. [[BreakTheHaughty It doesn't end well - for *them*]].

[[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 ''ComicBook/{{Hawkman}}'', ComicBook/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 ''ComicBook/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 ''ComicBook/{{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.
* In an issue of ''[[ComicBook/BuckyBarnes The Winter Soldier]]'', a bad guy arranges for a ballerina to suffer a leg injury in a car accident so that ComicBook/BlackWidow can take her place as an understudy.
* In ''ComicBook/RobynHood'', Cal King cuts out Robyn's left eye to destroy her ability as an archer.

[[folder:Eastern Animation]]
* In episode 3 of ''Animation/RimbaRacer'' Tag is whacked on the head with a wrench and spends a couple days in the hospital but recovers in time for the next race, where he discovers that his car was sabotaged as well.

[[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:Fan Works]]
* In the pro wrestling story, ''A Ring of Their Own'', Wrestling/TheBeautifulPeople attack Wrestling/TaylorWilde 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:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheKarateKid'' gives one of the most famous examples when the evil instructor [[OrderedToCheat orders a student to intentionally injure Daniel's leg]] in the semi-finals match. This means the guy will be disqualified for an illegal hit, but injury will prevent Daniel from facing the instructor's prize pupil in the actual Final Round, guaranteeing victory. The plan only fails because Mr. Miyagi has HealingHands and Daniel has learned the iconic Crane Stance, which lets him keep his weight off the injured leg when the injury is aggravated in the finals. Notably, both Cobra Kai students are appalled at Kreese's order even if they go along with it.
* In ''Film/TheQuickAndTheDead'', Ratsy breaks Cort's right hand before his gunfight with Herod, forcing him to fight with his left hand.[[note]]In a small twist, Herod did not order Ratsy to do this, and gets PISSED when he finds out, declaring that Ratsy has ruined the gunfighting competition and then shooting him dead.[[/note]]
* 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 ''Film/{{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 Joe's hands while beating him.
* In ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'', Sanjuro is beaten senseless for rescuing the family that Ushitora's gang was holding hostage.
* 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. [[spoiler:It ''still'' isn't enough to hinder him.]]
* In ''Film/BladeRunner'', Roy Batty breaks Deckard's fingers to hamper his ability to use his gun. Deckard starts using his other hand instead.
* ''Franchise/StarWars Episode I: Film/ThePhantomMenace'' has champion podracer Sebulba "accidentally" bump another podracer, messing it up and making it unable to race.
* At the end of ''Film/ElMariachi'', the main antagonist shoots the mariachi's hand, preventing him from playing guitar.
* ''Film/SinCityADameToKillFor'': After Johnny beats him at poker, Senator Roark breaks the fingers of his game hand with a pair of pliers. Shooting him in the knee is just an act of pure sadism.
* In ''Film/HappyGilmore'', Shooter's psychotic and devoted fan hits Happy with a car during the final showdown. The injury doesn't prevent him from competing, but it does eliminate his incredible long shot, forcing Happy to rely more on the skills he's been developing for his short game.
* ''Film/AKnightsTale'':
** First discussed, then played with, then played straight:
--->'''Count Adhemar:''' How would you beat him?\\
'''Advisor:''' With a stick. While he slept. But on a horse, with a lance? That man is unbeatable.
** Following this, Adhemar plays with the trope by striking at Will ''politically'', exposing him as a false-knight so he can't compete. When ''that'' doesn't work (because Will actually gets knighted), Adhemar resorts to straight up cheating by using actual pointed lances ''disguised'' as the tournament-legal blunted ones. The stabbing injury he inflicts on Will with one forces him to shed his armor and risk ''death'' to continue competing.
* In ''Film/TheLongestYard'', the warden of the prison orders a former football player named Crewe who has set up a "convicts vs. guards" game to give the guards a 21-point advantage or he will frame him for involvement in a murder. Essentially having no choice, Crewe agrees provided the warden will have the guards not injure the prisoners. The warden agrees, then double crosses Crewe by later telling the head of the guards once they have a 21-point advantage to "inflict as much physical punishment on the prisoners as humanly possible."
* Mr. Washington does this to the anti-heroine Alex in ''Film/{{Momentum|2015}}''. Realising just how badass this particular ActionGirl is, Washington stabs her in the leg to prevent her running or fighting effectively. The wound leaves Alex physically crippled to the extent she's left with a limp. Washington's mistake [[spoiler: is underestimating Alex's mental capacity - and since she's TheChessmaster extraordinaire that proves to be fatal.]]

* 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).
* Myth/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''.

* ''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 Creator/BrianDaley's ''Literature/HanSolosRevenge'': 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.
* In ''Literature/AllForTheGame'', Kevin's broken hand, expected to be a CareerEndingInjury, wasn't really from a skiing accident. It was actually [[spoiler: Riko's]] fault.
* In ''[[Literature/MatthewHawkwood Ratcatcher]]'', Hawkwood gets in a TenPacesAndTurn duel with a young bravo. After his opponent misses, Hawkwood deliberately aims and shoots to cripple his gun arm and prevent him fighting any further duels.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/{{The Twilight Zone|1959}}'', 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.
* ''Series/BeverlyHills90210''. Incensed when Brenda gets the lead in the school play, her rival first starts rumors that she used the CastingCouch to get the part, then suggests to her boyfriend that he physically harm her so that she'll have to give it up.
* In ''Series/FleshAndBone'' someone involved with the American Ballet Company tries to do this to [[spoiler: Claire]] by putting broken glass in her pointe shoes. [[spoiler: WordOfGod says it was the company's artistic director Paul. Ironically, not to harm her, but to get the best performance possible.]] Fortunately, they have underestimated her [[TookALevelInBadass new-found drive]] to overcome her series-long TraumaCongaLine.
* Subverted in a ''Series/LawAndOrder'' episode based on the Tonya-Nancy saga. When a tennis player's wrist is broken, suspicion falls on her rival. It turns out that the girls were actually friends and arranged the attack because she wanted to quit but knew that her [[StageMom Stage Dad]] wouldn't let her otherwise.
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'': In "The Studio Job", an unscrupulous record producer breaks both hands of a songwriter so he can never play an instrument again.
* ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'': In "Delicate", a shard of broken glass is inserted into a ballerina's shoe that causes a lingering injury that threatens to derail her career.

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

[[folder:Video Games]]
* A self-inflicted example from ''VideoGame/ArcanumOfSteamworksAndMagickObscura'': 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.
* A self-inflicted example in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance]]''; [[spoiler:late in the game, it's revealed that Ike's father Greil had crippled his own arm so that he could never use his sword again--as atonement for slaughtering a great number of people (including his beloved wife Elena) while under the influence of a certain pendant (which only said wife could hold without succumbing to its influence)]].
* 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 ''VideoGame/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.
* In ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'', during Chapter 3 (the BoxingEpisode of the game), at one point someone sends you a poisoned cake ''just'' before you start a fight. If you fall for the SchmuckBait, you're forced to fight the next battle alone, without any of your partners. (Ignore it, and a different fighter is crippled by the poisoned cake instead.) It turns out to be the work of [[spoiler:the champion, Rawk Hawk, in response to a perceived slight against him by your character]].

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

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

[[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 ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003'' 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]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': In "Team Homer", 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 Earl, a direct ShoutOut to the Harding-Kerrigan fiasco.
* ''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.
** It's also used against Bender in an episode where he's entered a tap dancing competition and his opponent busts up one of his kneecaps.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "Flight to the Finish", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon ''emotionally'' cripple Scootaloo so that they can win a contest to carry the flag at the Equestrian Games instead of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Notably, their insults are more biting and hurtful, something they acknowledged because their usual throwing of the "blank flank" slur wasn't working anymore.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' episode "Next of Pin", Stan shivs Steve in the ankle to prevent him from beating him in a bowling competition.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Figure skater Tonya Harding's then-husband, Jeff Gillooly, hired someone to attack her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, with a metal police baton. The extent of Harding's own involvement remains debatable.
* A journalist asked former UsefulNotes/{{Tennis}} player Rod Laver (a contender for the Greatest of All Time title) how he would go about beating current player Roger Federer]] (another contender), if they had been professional at the same time. Laver replied "Hit him over the head with a tennis raquette."
* Also in tennis, an obsessive Steffi Graf fan infamously stabbed her rival 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".
* During the Cold War, the Soviets were known to punish {{Turbulent Priest}}s by cutting off their hands, since that was the only disability that disqualifies one from sanctifying the Eucharist.
* Also during the Cold War, specifically the Summit Series between the Soviet Union's Red Army hockey team and the NHL's top Canadian stars, Bobby Clarke famously broke Soviet star player Valeri Kharlomov's ankle with a slash. An Assistant Coach had called Clarke to the bench prior and suggested Kharlamov "needs a tap on the ankle."