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Attack Backfire

Calvin: Pack snowballs! Maybe we can knock him out!
(Calvin and Hobbes throw snowballs at the snowlem)
Hobbes: The snowballs just stuck to him!
Calvin: Look, it's given him an idea!
Hobbes: He's packing more snow onto himself!

This is for when something that is used against a particular character is either beneficial and/or pleasant to that character or at least perceived by that character as such.

Subtropes include:

See also Shooting Superman, where rather than backfire it does what the audience expects: nothing.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball GT, Goku tries to take down Super 17 with a variety of ki-based attacks, only to discover that he can increase his strength level by absorbing them.
  • Ranma ˝: Ranma kicks Tarō into a rock. Rock shatters revealing a water spring. Oh Crap moment. Pissed flying minotaur.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Surf's Up, the main protagonist, Cody, tries to beat up a bully named Tank, but his punches are so weak that he takes it as a massage.
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible is at the mercy of a killer robot after throwing out his back celebrating an apparent victory. The robot elects to try to pull him in two, inadvertently fixing his back in the process.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Fifth Element, the big dark planet of evil is attacked by a fleet with several salvos of multimegaton yield missiles, which only cause it to grow larger.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies gives us Mr. Stamper, whose insides are rewired so that any intended painful action he receives (such as stabbing with a knife) gives him pleasure. Conversely, any intended pleasuring action he receives (such as tickling) gives him pain.
  • The 2012 The Avengers movie:
    • Thor blasts Iron Man with a bolt of lightning. The effect on Tony's suit?
    Jarvis: Power at 400% capacity.
    Tony: How bout that?
    • About a minute later, Thor tries using Mjölnir on Captain America's shield. Instead of hurting the Captain, Thor himself is knocked back about thirty feet, and levels the forest around them for about half a mile.
    Captain America: (impatiently) Are we done here?
  • A literal version occurs in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • In the second Crank movie, Chelios is given an artificial heart that requires regular jolts of electricity to function. When he runs into cops and they're beating him with clubs, nothing happens. When the bust out the Tasers, however...

    Gamebooks 
  • In a gamebook from the GrailQuest saga, there's a sort of humanoid insect that you can fight. However, despite having only 25 life points, each of your attacks will give him more health. However, he'll let you go if you give him enough life points.
  • In one of the Blood Sword gamebooks you could try dealing with a huge Djinni by blasting it with the Orb of Fire. He finds it refreshing and it doesn't end well for the character attempting it...

    Literature 
  • Partially averted in The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, the eponymous disease's original massacre site is about to be blown up by atomic bomb when the researchers realize that the disease can directly feed off of radiation. The bomb isn't dropped.
  • The Atrocity Archives has Bob and the OCCULUS team following the threat through to a frozen world where the Nazis summoned a Great Old One to win WWII... and it didn't end well for them. The plan is to retrieve the hostage, then leave a nuke to blow the site, and the threat, sky high. At least, until Bob realizes that the threat feeds off of energy and entropy, meaning blowing up a nuke would give it enough strength to force its way through to our world.

    Live-Action TV 

    Pinball 
  • In Williams Electronics' Joust pinball machine, the middle of the playfield had two spinners, each of which gave points to a specific player, and invoking this trope whenever you hit your opponent's spinner.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy II, attacking enemies with the wrong spell (e.g. Ice monsters with Ice magic, Undead with Drain and Osmose or Blob Monster with Poison) will actually heal the monster. In case of Drain or the Blood Swords, results will be ugly. In fact, all Final Fantasy games after the first one have a system of elemental absorb. At some point, they extended this to the Undead such that hitting one with a One-Hit Kill no only always hits it, but it actually causes it to regenerate.
  • In the Super Smash Bros. games, Ness' and Lucas' PSI Magnets absorb energy projectiles (i.e. Mario's fireballs, Samus' charge shot) and heal by the amount of damage the attack would have caused.
  • In Street Fighter IV, Zangief gets a victory quote against Blanka informing him that his electric blasts helped relieve his back pain.
  • Pokémon
    • The abilities Volt Absorb and Water Absorb not only make Pokémon with these abilities immune to Electric- or Water-type attacks respectively, but also heal them by one-quarter of their maximum HP each time they are hit by attacks of the corresponding type.
    • Likewise, the ability Flash Fire makes the Pokémon with that ability immue to Fire-type moves, but doesn't heal any damage. Instead it powers up any Fire-type moves on the Pokémon with that ability.
    • Another such ability is Sap Sipper; grass type moves inflict no damage, instead increasing the Pokémon's attack stat by one level.
    • Magic Bounce does this not with attacks, but with any status moves. It's quite a backfire to have Toxic do nothing to that Espeon and poisoning your mon or your stealth rock ending up affecting your side of the field.
  • This trope is pretty much what makes Shin Megami Tensei games earn their reputation as fiendishly hard. There are too many monsters that have the ability to absorb one or more elements that yours character can use, and there are too few attacks that are guaranteed deal meaningful damage all the time. On top of it, some games have a system that gleefully punishes you for using the elements the monsters absorb. And note, sometimes, the element list includes "none at all": as in some enemmies can make physical attacks backfire.
  • In Minecraft, throwing a Splash Potion of Instant Damage at a zombie or skeleton will heal them. Likewise, throwing a Splash Potion of Instant Health will hurt them.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • On The Simpsons, one episode was a series of stories from The Bible. When Moses (Milhouse) sends a plague of frogs to vex the Pharaoh (Principal Skinner), the Egyptians enjoy a banquet of frog legs, which the Pharaoh comments must be a reward from Ra for punishing the slaves.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Mermaid Man mistakes Spongebob for evil and attacks with his trademark Water Balls. Spongebob isn't affected by it, because as a sponge, he absorbs it. Then he and Barnacle Boy use their Raging Whirlpool, Spongebob and Patrick only enjoyed the ride because it was just plain weak.
  • One episode of Godzilla: The Series had a Hispanic army use a biological weapon against the Monster of the Week, but it turns out to strengthen it. Then they try it again.
  • In ReBoot, enemies referred to as 'Class-5' such as Gigabyte and the Web Virus cannot be attacked with energy weapons because they will just feed on the energy and grow stronger.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of My Excess", Spike turns into a monstrous version of himself out of greed and confronts Pinkie Pie when he tries to steal her cakes. She defends herself by throwing cakes at Spike, but this only causes him to grow even bigger.

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