Back-to-Back Badasses. It would celebrate the joys of spinning around like idiots. Sometimes, to show how much stronger their kung fu is, one fighter turns around condescendingly to expose their weak spot. The other, incensed by this, runs up and starts throwing everything they have at them. However, their attacks are all avoided or parried easily, usually with a single hand, and without even looking. Similarly, for a finishing move in a sword fight, the user can thrust their sword under their shoulder, stabbing the opponent in the process. Characters with super regeneration have even been known to stab the enemy through themselves. This displays how badass they are, in that they have no problem with being so close to their dying enemy. In a Single-Stroke Battle, started and finished as his opponent charged him, the victor can sheathe his sword and walk away, paying no mind to the lifeless body of the person he defeated in seconds as it falls to the ground. Compare Offhand Backhand (suddenly striking someone behind you without even looking), Unflinching Walk (which can overlap with this trope), and also to In the Back.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In a flashback in Naruto we saw that, as a kid, Killer Bee thwarted an assassination attempt against himself by simply turning around to deflect a kunai with the handle of a sheathed sword on his back, which he apparently did completely by accident without even realizing what was going on.
- Subverted in the first chapter of Mazinger Z Go Nagai manga. Sayaka sorties in Aphrodite-A to stop a mysterious Humongous Mecha that is trashing the city that mysterious Humongous Mecha being Mazinger-Z, "piloted" by a Kouji Kabuto that had just gotten into the robot and had absolutely no idea of how to actually control the damned thing. When she strikes it, the Humongous Mecha easily withstands its attack, heaves Aphrodite-A and throws her away... and then it turns its back towards her. Sayaka is incensed, believing that robot thinks Aphrodite is not good enough to fight and is making fun of her. Her father is worried and requests her to be careful because it is a monster is dangerous even if he has its back turned to her. She gets ready to attack, when the Humongous Mecha suddenly turns around... and Kouji manages to communicate with her and explain that he did all that because he did not know how to pilot the robot.
- In Trigun, an encounter between the hero Vash and the villain Brilliant Dynamite Neon, ends with BDN having his back turned towards Vash while firing a surprise gun underneath his shoulder.
- Ranma ˝
- In an extreme example, Ranma Saotome defeats rival Ryouga while asleep, without ever consciously being aware that he was in a fight.
- Another example is when Ryoga is able to counter any attack thrown at him in two episodes/chapters, even when completely unguarded, shackled to steel prison balls, (which admittedly wouldn't be heavy for him anyway) and with his back turned. This is, however, completely justified in that a Martial Arts Calligraphy master has given him "the mark of the battling gods", which amps his fighting abilities to ultra high levels but is also an immensely embarrassing doodle that can only be removed if someone defeats him.
- In a one-shot manga by Tsugumi Ohba, famous for Death Note. The main character has made a reputation for always fighting with his back facing the enemy. The reason? If people recognized who he was everyone would be constantly looking for a fight. And that's just too troublesome.
- In D.Gray-Man, General Cross Marian is so badass that he can one-shot three Akuma that try to jump him from behind at once, without looking. Do not mess with Cross.
- Balalaika from Black Lagoon also gets in on this in the Washimine Arc. When the leader of the Washimine Clan tries to kill her by drawing a sword and attempting to kill her from behind he finds himself having been stabbed instead and with a knife at his throat. She throws in a Pre-Mortem One-Liner, which she asks Rock to translate, just before snapping the leader's neck in a display of pure evil badass.
- In the first season of Slayers, Gourry pulls this off while alone and searching for Lina after she gets kidnapped by Zelgadis. Accidentally disturbing a huge Beast Man in the form of a cat-man with horns and sabre fangs, he turns his back to it upon realizing it isn't Lina and, after effortlessly dodging its blows, reaches back with one hand and breaks a fang clean out of its mouth with a single flick of the finger. Said Beastman promptly decides to beat a hasty retreat.
- Done by Teana during the final battle of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S. Expecting the ambush-happy cyborg Deed to attack from behind, Teana blindly blocks Deed's Twin Swords with her own daggers, then guides an energy bullet to Deed's head while she's staring in shock.
- Anyone noticed that in Haruhi Suzumiya, Yuki defeated Asakura with her back turned to her? The fact that she kept her stoic attitude despite being pierced through by metal spears and energy lances doesn't exactly lower the awesomeness.
- In Tsukihime, Nrvnqsr's back literally sends Shiki flying without the former even realizing it.
- Rosette does this in the very first chapter of Chrono Crusade, shooting a humongous demon while in the middle of conversation without bothering even to turn around and then nonchalantly chiding it for interrupting.
- In Zatch Bell!, Tia and Megumi were amazed to see that Kiyo cast Zaker on Maruss and his book holder without even turning around to face them.
- The readers' first indication that Ruby of Pokémon Special isn't as wimpy as he looked? When he performed this trope against the not-so-unconscious Seviper after he had finished treating Sapphire's wounds.
- Apparently deciding that taking out a dragon wasn't enough for proving her badass credentials, Yue Ayase of Mahou Sensei Negima! managed to do this to a demon trying to sneak up on her by stabbing it in the torso with a BFS she pulled out of thin air.
- Gin of Bleach once released his extending sword from its sheath without looking behind him.
- There is a Running Gag with Kurara from Dancougar Nova destroying enemies behind her mech, then saying "Don't stand behind me." or some variant. Aoi eventually gets on the act as well.
- A technique that puts a football-spin on this is used in Eye Shield 21. It's called the "Devil Bat Backfire," and is used by Monta. By memorizing Hiruma's passes to perfectly, he can catch the ball from behind, obliterating pretty much every cornerback he'll ever face.
- Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Anyonenote who approaches Miu from behind normally finds themselves on their back.
- Batman and his various protégés are rather fond of this one, to the point where it almost seems as though thugs are less likely to hit him if their attack comes from behind.
- In a Star Wars Expanded Universe comic, Vader fights a clone or copy of Darth Maul, and in order to win stabs himself through the torso to get at Maul, who's behind him at the time. It's an attempt at symbolism through the trope, because the Dark Side Adepts who provided his opponent say he is unworthy as a Sith, as he doesn't hate purely enough - they say that his love for Padme is still there and weakens him. After he's defeated their champion, said champion asks in his last breath who or what he can hate so much to defeat him. Vader's answer? "Myself."
- There's a moment in Episode I when Darth Maul finds himself with his back to the two Jedi, and flips his double-bladed lightsaber back and forth to perfectly deflect both their attacks in quick succession.
- In an early X-Wing Series comic, agent Winter dodges a Stab the Scorpion moment and fires behind herself without looking◊ to hit the creature sneaking up on her. A little later she splashes another one in the face with the equivalent of scalding coffee, but she turned around◊ to do it.
- In DC Comics' Identity Crisis, Deathstroke manages to skewer the Flash on his sword with a blind strike behind him, despite the fact that the Flash at that point is moving so much faster than Deathstroke that the villain must have looked like an inanimate statue to the hero.
- And of course Gwen Di Marco finishes off a mook of the week in just such a way in the intro sequence to Galaxy Quest the series.
- The Soft Master from G.I. Joe (Marvel series) does this against Destro...who had just fired rockets at him.
- In Ronin, the main character actually stabs himself through the side in order to kill a demon who was attacking from behind.
- Sin City: Miho purposefully shows her back to a mob enforcer in order to enrage him enough to attack. The fight ends with her kicking his head off his shoulders.
- Blindness, a built-in radar and keen enough senses to follow an opponent's moves through scent or air displacement, makes this a standard routine for Daredevil. For years the word on the street was that he was telepathic.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Legolas drops Wormtongue's final henchman with a casual backhand blow in Peter Jackson's The Two Towers.
- Achilles blocks several arrows without looking by throwing his shield on his back in Troy.
- Riddick does this ad nauseam.
- Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy will occasionally step past his opponents, blocking their final shot over his shoulder, and then arrogantly saunter away before re-engaging. This exposes one of his Fatal Flaws: overconfidence, and nearly gets him killed in his very first scene when Guthrie makes to backstab him after their duel.
- The Avengers (1998). While Mrs. Peel is swordfighting with Steed, she briefly turns her back to him but continues to block his blows over her shoulder.
- The almost-final scene in The Matrix. Doubly Badass because the rest of the film was pretty much establishing how awesome the Agents were, and triply Badass because Neo (NOT Mr. Anderson) looked utterly bored while doing it.
- Elizabeth does a backward under-shoulder thrust with two swords in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, impaling two of Davy Jones' men behind her.
- Ash in Army of Darkness kills his first deadite with an over-the-shoulder boomstick shot.
- In The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, John Bigboote knocks a guy out with a solid punch while standing perfectly still, without even turning or looking in his direction.
- Sword man Zatoichi routinely impales attackers coming from behind without turning or looking. But then again he does the same to all attackers since he is blind.
- Pulp Fiction has this as well. Butch slashes the pawn-shop owner with a katana, walks past him, then finishes him off by thrusting it behind him.
- Iron Man 2: After plowing through a wall while fighting Rhodey (and landing with an elegant palm-thruster-boost while Rhodey sprawls on his ass amongst Tony's gym equipment), Tony does this along with an equally condescending "Now, put that back where you found it before somebody gets hurt." Rhodey responds by chucking a barbell weight disc at Tony's head. Tony glares at him over his shoulder, and the fight is back on.
- John Preston in Equilibrium does this a lot, only with guns.
- The climactic drug factory shootout in RoboCop (1987) features the titular character shooting a thug standing above him by firing over his own right shoulder, and explicitly being able to shoot a mook while looking in the opposite direction.
- Having a targetting system helps. Prior to becoming Robocop, Murphy was a terrible shot.
- The Moonwalker version of "Smooth Criminal" has Michael Jackson shooting down the bad guys from behind while grooving and flirting with the ladies.
- In The Fifth Element Leeloo gets several of these during the opera scene. The most amusing example is at the end: she's lining up a dazed mook (in front of her) for a final blow when another approaches from behind, seemingly unnoticed. She takes them both out with a one-two punch right in time with the music.
- In Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Han Solo manages to shoot a First Order Stormtrooper without even looking at them. Goes to show that even old age won't stop Han from shooting first.
- Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40,000: Ciaphas Cain novel The Traitor's Hand sees Cain catch a glimpse of a cultist trying to attack him from behind, elbow the cultist ineffectually and then use his chainsword for an under-the-armpit stab.
- Battle Royale, at least in the book, has Kiriyama pull one of these. When Inaba Mizuho tries to sneak up on him from behind and stab him, he points his gun behind him, shoots her, and walks off without even looking at her once.
- Technically, he does something similar with Sho, who thought he was stalking Kiriyama without having been noticed. Instead, Kiriyama leads him into a trap that gets his collar detonated, with Sho not realizing Kiriyama even knew he was there until the very end.
- Pierson's Puppeteers from Larry Niven's Known Space are naturally evolved masters of this art: their eyes are on the end of long flexible necks and can easily look behind them to aim a disemboweling kick with their powerful hind leg. Of course, "badass" is the last word most people would use to describe the cowardly Puppeteers. (Louis Wu speculates that they originally developed the instinct "turn your back on danger and kick it", but it was gradually forgotten over time, degenerating into "turn your back on danger and run from it".)
- The Dog Stars: Bangley kills a raider with a blast of submachinegun fire while looking directly at his sniper partner in the distance. He does it to make a point.
- In The Dinosaur Lords, when one of the nobles standing behind Falk declares general retreat before the battle even begins, Falk decapitates him without even looking back, then dares anyone else to defy Emperor's orders. The others, predictably, fall silent.
- There are many cases of characters turning their back on an enemy after delivering the finishing blow but not seeing the consequences. This almost never backfires. The Power Rangers are particularly guilty of this.
- It's eventually lampshaded in Power Rangers Samurai, where the monsters find it insulting.
- The one time it does backfire is in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. The Rangers turn, and don't see that the monster was staggering but recovering and not about to fall down go boom as usual. The Rangers get blasted from behind, possibly a first in all of Tokudom.
- Atherton Wing does this to a sorely outmatched Mal, who tries to attack and gets stabbed. Despite this, Wing later gets distracted and loses.
- River also pulls this one a couple of times in the famous Maidenhead bar fight in Serenity.
- In a blink-and-you'll miss-it moment in the final battle with the Reavers, River turns her back to most of the Reaver horde. Six of them close in on her from behind, at which point she suddenly leans over backward, her sword slicing around in a single motion, and kills all of them.
- Earlier, in War Stories, she takes out three enemies each with a single shot with only a single glance several seconds earlier to check their locations. She even says "Can't look" as she does this.
- A variant of this is done in a season 3 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fencing, Giles is reading, his head turned away from his opponent. Of course, his opponent is Wesley.
- A flashback from True Blood features Eric killing one of the werewolves attacking his family with a backward sword thrust. Mind you, this is before he became a vampire.
- The sixth series of Doctor Who does this with River Song shooting one of the Silents from behind whilst in mid-conversation. Doubly awesome because she can't remember that it's there or that there's even an enemy.
- In an episode of Stargate SG-1 a Brainwashed and Crazy Teal'c is fighting off a Replicator invasion. He has defeated seemingly all of them. Then one quietly crawls along the wall behind him. Teal'c doesn't even bother turning around. He turns his staff weapon (notoriously difficult to aim) around and blasts it. It helps that the Replicators make a distinctive metal-on-metal clang when moving. The very next episode showed flashbacks of Teal'c being trained to fight blindfolded by his Old Master Bra'tac.
- On Person of Interest Root is able to do this against Hersh when escaping from the mental institution. It helps that she has Improbable Aiming Skills courtesy of a supercomputer.
- Used by both Chris Jericho and Christian in their entrances.
- If Diamond Dallas Page, Steve Austin or Randy Orton are showing their back to you, do not run up on them. All three use a Finishing Move that's a variation of "grab opponent's head while it's over your shoulder and drop", and are in fact easier to perform when approached/grabbed from behind.
- Lara does this to Larson in the original Tomb Raider.
- Link from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess gains the Mortal Draw late in the game. He performs it by sheathing his sword and shield, not targeting an enemy, and turning his back to them. When they attack, he spins and delivers an instant kill.
- The blind warrior Voldo, in the later Soul Calibur/Soul Edge games, is the only fighter in the series who can fulfill this trope. He has a full array of moves he can use with his back to an opponent, including throws, and, unlike every other member of the cast, can block attacks directed at his back (at least, as a normal part of his gameplay. Other CPU-controlled characters who shouldn't be able to do this can in Soul Calibur III).
- Another fighter, Yoshimitsu, is a kind of... undead cyborg alien samurai... thing. Anywho, one of his attacks is turning his back to his opponent, and stabbing his sword through his gut (which does also hurt him). The attack has a very short range, justified in that it is hilarious every time it is pulled off.
- The most badass version? Yoshimitsu in the Tekken series and his same-named ancestor in the SoulCalibur games. Why is it the most badass? Well, the move's English names are Suicide and Turning Suicide ...
- The series also has several characters who enter a different series of moves based on having their back turned. Keep in mind that with Feng Wei (Kempo), such techniques do exist.
- In the Dead or Alive fighting game series, several of Ayane's most powerful attacks require her to have her back turned towards her opponent before they can be executed.
- In the same series, Brad Wong has a whole slew of attacks that are only effective when his back is turned, or even when he's laying down. This is more the result of his fighting style: Drunken Boxing, than badass-ness.
- Street Fighter II's Akuma does this after successfully pulling off his one-hit-KO special attack, Shun Goku Satsu. His back glows with the symbol for what amounts to "GODLIKE" for good measure.
- Samurai Shodown: Tachibana Ukyo fights like this all the time. He's pretty good at it, too.
- Part of SSJ4 Gogeta's ultimate move in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
- Practically all of the characters in Capcom's fighting games back away in a defensive retreat, but Dio/Shadowdio of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure will turn his back on his opponent to casually saunter away. Many of his special moves include the back-turning animation, crossing his arms over his chest before unleashing the power.
- Inverted in many shooting games. Due to the computer being a cheating bastard and/or poor programming in many games it is possible for enemies to shoot at you despite facing the opposite way.
- Especially frustrating example: Halo 2, where the Jackal Snipers do this. It doesn't help that the beam kills no matter where it hits, and ricochets off of walls.
- Played straight in that the player can do it too, but it takes serious practice to get the angle right (mis-firing can result in shooting yourself in the head, several YouTube videos give a good example).
- While playing multiplayer, even players can appear to be doing this if there is a glitch in the game or there is lag such that you can get shot before it actually shows you the other player turning around.
- Especially frustrating example: Halo 2, where the Jackal Snipers do this. It doesn't help that the beam kills no matter where it hits, and ricochets off of walls.
- ZOE Commander in Ace Combat 2 and Mobius One from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War's bonus mission, The Gauntlet, of fly birds that can fire missiles backwards at the presumably tailgating player. They aren't the only ones, though. Truth in Television: Some AAMs, like the Python 4/5 and AA-11/R-73, have 360-degree targeting capability.
- In the The King of Fighters series, one of the characters, K' has a backward walking animation which is just him turning around and walking the opposite way.
- Similar to the above example, in Melty Blood Act Cadenza onwards, Kishima Kouma's backward walk is just turning around and walking away. He doesn't even look directly at his opponent when he guards.
- The Eternal Fighter Zero character Unknown, takes this trope even further by having her default standing animation face away from the players and her opponent.
- In Gradius V, a few bosses, most notably the third boss in the boss rush of Stage 2, can fly behind your ship and attack you. Unless you have a tail gun or directional aiming, our only hope is to dodge until they fly back in front of you.
- In Devil May Cry 4 Nero impales the final boss with a sword held backhand while facing away.
- Dante also has Shotgun skill, which lets him literally shoot behind himself without looking there.
- The above is a Mythology Gag. When we first see Vergil draw Yamato in Devil May Cry 3, he slices a Hell Vanguard into several pieces without even turning to face it, establishing himself as every bit the badass his brother is. Makes sense, since Word of God confirms that Nero is Vergil's son.
- Bloody Roar: While Shenlong's backward stance doesn't give him a lot of options and is mostly for comboing into moves that you can't perform facing forward. However, his backwards punch is abnormally fast and hilarious to spam. It works great against human players who don't see it coming.
- Both he and Long also have a powerful beast-form attack where they smash the opponent with their back. Naturally, a few of their combos end with their backs turned.
- Zappa of Guilty Gear spends most of his fights facing away from his opponent and bent over backwards. His backwards-walking animation is him standing up straight and walking away; he also has several attacks in the vein of this trope, most notably his back growing a face and vomiting on his opponent.
- Also, Johnny does this with his Mist Finer moves.
- Archer of Fate/stay night has a sprite that features him facing away from the camera. When you see this, you know he's about to say something incredibly badass and do something incredibly badass.
- Ezio can do this in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. One kill animation involves him killing one guard, attacking a second, moving on to a third, then finishing the second off with a throat stab.
- It's not turning his back on an enemy but in the introduction to Vagrant Story we get to see Ashley Riot striding into certain danger, his back to the camera (and the person he's talking to) while delivering my favourite badass line ever. "Reinforcements? I am the reinforcements."
- Zero teleports in facing away from his opponent in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
- Starting with Halo 2, the Hunters in Halo acquire a behind-the-back melee, which is an instant kill on Legendary difficulty.
- In Tales of Graces F, once all of the conditions are met, Malik can perform the Blast Caliber Malik Beam, which has him turning his back to the enemy and FIRING A HUGE LASER AT THEM WITH HIS BACK.
Malik: A man speaks with his back! MALIK BEAM!
- There are a number of Pokémon that keep their backs turned towards the enemy in battle for varying reasons:
- Ogres in Dragon Age: Origins are able to deliver backward kicks in combat, which makes flanking them with a rogue something of an unrewarding experience...unless your rogue considers serious bruising to be "rewarding", anyway.
- Rigwarl the Bristleback from Dota 2 has a back covered in quills. One of his abilities means he takes 40% less damage from attacks that hit his back and if he takes enough damage from the back, he sprays some of his quills, damaging anyone close enough. Considering he can also cast the Quill Spray independently every 3 seconds and that the damage from the quills increases each time an enemy is hit, it is not unheard of for Bristleback to take down multiple enemies with his back to them.
- Szark from Dominic Deegan does a lot of things from behind.
- In this Sluggy Freelance strip, Torg stabs the zombie in front of him with one hand while tasering the zombie coming up behind him with the other.
- In one Legostar Galactica strip, Belinda kills a Sith by activating the back half of her double-bladed lightsaber without looking around while he tries to stab her in the back.
- Sparks from Girl Genius do this a lot, when they're absorbed by a problem and someone attacks them.
Bang DuPree: Look at me when I'm trying to kill you!
- Taking a peg from its Watanabe inspiration, the Sword Fight that occurred between Zuko and Jet on Avatar: The Last Airbender come to a close with the two fighting with backs against each other. With the camera doing plenty of spins for them.
- King Bumi had what may be the most over-the-top example ever when he uses earthbending to pull this off against eight tanks at once.
- See Also: Aang, whose specialty is evasion, doing this in many of his big fights: vs. Zuko in "Bato of the Water Tribe", vs. the bully kid in "The Headband," a hilarious Offhand Backhand against Sokka in "The Runnaway" which foreshadows how he beats Ozai in the finale. The latter two he learned from Toph, where it's completely justified for the same reason as Voldo above.
- From the first book's finale, "Admiral Choi, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR FATE!" At which point Admiral Zhao casually tosses him overboard without moving from his spot.
- In Beast Wars, when Cheetor reaches Transmetal 2 level, he shows off how bad ass he is by casually shooting Waspinator, who was sneaking up behind him, over his shoulder without looking.
- Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown does this several times, mostly while fighting/"training" Omi during Seaason 2.
- Karate includes a tactic that presents your back to an opponent, goading him into attacking, then countering with a reverse kick.
- Genki Sudo, a retired Mixed Martial Arts fighter, would often turn his back to opponents in the ring, as well as do the robot.
- The spinning backfist is one of the few exotic techniques that proved to be highly effective in MMA. So effective, in fact, that fighters will sometimes present their backs to the opponent for the sole purpose of throwing a spinning backfist.
- Modern air-to-air missiles are able to lock onto and attack targets behind the host aircraft.