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Defeating the Undefeatable
"Well, that was unexpected..."
A regular scourge in the ring: a character so powerful, so unstoppable, that not even the greatest of fighters can overcome his wrath. Be it a Gentle Giant
, an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy
, or the The Big Guy
with a mean streak, this character is an unbeatable scourge that other fighters either dread facing or anticipate fighting in order to gain fame for being the first to beat him. However, they all fail. But nothing lasts forever...
Basically, this is a character who is introduced as and/or is famous for being brutally unstoppable, and, for a long time, they continue to be so, until that one hero (or villain) can finally show the world what he's made of by defeating him. These characters appear in varied roles: they can be a Big Bad
, The Dragon
, or, sometimes, just some seemingly unobtainable goal. Often, such a character will also be either a Jerkass
or somewhat intimidating to give the hero even more support for beating him, but not always. This character may also play a role of the Goliath
if the one who beats him looks to be totally outmatched at first glance.
Said undefeatable may come in the form of an Implacable Man
or Hero Killer
Depending on the character, the fighter can still stay as powerful as they were after being beaten, but, occasionally, once beaten, they lose their power and become a regular fighter just like the rest. See Too Powerful to Live
, and Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
. Compare The Worf Effect
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Anime and Manga
- The East is burning red! Master Asia's first appearance on screen in G Gundam involves destroying 3 giant robots with his bare hands by catching and returning artillery shells, picking up the ground one was standing on, and tearing one to pieces with a headband. He is in fact explicitly titled "The Undefeated of the East"
- One Piece fans theorize that this is the reason Captain Whitebeard was rarely characterized as anything but 'the world's strongest man'. Obviously someone's going to rise to his level and beat him in battle, most likely the main character or a future Big Bad. It actually took an entire army, including all three Admirals and five of the seven Shichibukai, an (regretted) ambush from one of Whitebeard's allies, and Blackbeard's entire crew to kill him.
- Shown example includes when Luffy defeated Eneru, due to being a Rubber Man which Eneru's lightning powers couldn't directly harm. Up until then, the Skypeians, some of the Shandians, and possibly even Nami believed, from seeing what he could do, he was as he said literally an invincible god.
- Another example is when the Straw Hat Pirates raided Enies Lobby and defeated CP9, who have never failed a mission, exist only in rumor, and as far as Marines were concerned, were the reason Enies Lobby had never fallen to anyone. In fact, this generation of CP9 were the strongest in its history. More specifically, Monkey D. Luffy defeating Rob Lucci, the strongest individual in CP9's history, who had such a reputation that the Marines leading the Buster Call were more than willing to bet that he would win for sure. Only for him to be put in a coma by Luffy. Even Bartholomew Kuma did not see coming that Lucci would be defeated at all, let alone by Luffy.
- Crocodile definitely counts. He's introduced to us as the first Big Bad of the Grand Line, belonging to the same group as Mihawk (who had curbstomped Zoro a while earlier). Luffy challenges him... and gets almost killed. Crocodile proceedes with his plan, but Luffy turns up again, knowing Crocodile's weakness... and gets almost killed again. In the end the rubber man manages to defeat the sandman - who had fought with a poisoned hook. If it weren't for his extreme luck, Luffy would be deader than dead.
- Which makes the one guy of this type that remains all the more awesome: Mihawk. He is always referred to as "the World's Greatest Swordsman", has never been defeated and used to spar with Shanks until Shanks lost his left arm, after which he didn't see enough of a challenge in him. Just a reminder, Shanks is one of the four guys the entire Marines are supposed to counteract.
- Beating one of the seven Shichibukai or four Yonkou in general is this trope. The Shichibukai rely on their reputation just to help cull the pirate population, while the Yonkou have been stated to be the four most powerful pirates in the world. Defeating any one of them could throw the balance of the Three Great Powers off the kilter.
- Kazu from Air Gear was already getting some serious Badass cred from his fight with Sleipnir, but he finally proves, once and for all, that he's no longer the little bitch who needs Ikki to fight for him when he takes out Nike, a ridiculously powerful Hero Killer who's never lost a fight. Sure, he had help, but he still stood alone for most of the battle.
- In Hajime No Ippo, we have WBA Featherweight Champion Ricardo Martinez, the "living legend", who is just made of this trope. Point. by. point. Eiji Date, the former Japanese champion, local Retired Badass and the only person to defeat Ippo was defeated twice by him.
- Takamura, one of the protagonists, is this trope to all of his opponents. He has the reputation of being unbeatable and his opponents do fear and respect his strength. In fact, Word of God outright says he is the best boxer in the entire series, above even the aforementioned Ricardo.
- Three villains in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z (King Piccolo, Frieza, and Buu) were known to be nearly unstoppable and had been terrorizing the world/galaxy/universe for ages; eventually all three of these were defeated and killed by Goku.
- Frieza in particular was referred to by every character who knew him as the undisputed strongest being in the universe, such that he has (at least by his claim) never had to use anything close to his maximum power to defeat an opponent before he faces the Z-fighters, and even the arrogant Vegeta didn't want to fight him without the power of immortality on his side.
- Don't forget Broly.
- Cell is a unique case of a villain who goes from being a simple minded man-eating monster to the closest thing to a god at that point at the time and he was also stronger than Goku at the time. In fact he is this until Gohan kills him.
- The role is reversed with Bills, the Big Bad of the 14th movie defeating Goku even at the legendary Super Saiyan God state, subverted as the former would normally be this trope as the universe's designated God of Destruction
- In Naruto, Gaara had never been injured before his fight with Lee, and Naruto defeated him for the first time. Pain also never lost a battle, even against the leader of the Rain Village, one of the strongest ninja in the world who defeated the three Sannin, until he loses to Naruto.
- In the .hack// franchise, just about anything created by Morganna might count: the Dawn Wanderers (aka "Guardians") went undefeated throughout .hack//SIGN, except at the end, where one was taken down by a large team of players (that included one of the most powerful players in the game, bar none). The eight Phases (Skeith in particular) also wreaked havoc throughout The World, being completely unstoppable by way of having infinite Hit Points.
- From A Certain Magical Index, Accelerator. The most powerful esper in Academy City, no one has ever managed to land so much as a single blow on him. Then Touma Kamijou comes along, manages to negate Accelerator's power, and defeats him in combat by punching his lights out. Touma has a tendency to do this to other people as well, all thanks to his power to nullify anything.
- Shizuri Mugino was ranked the fourth most powerful esper in Academy City, then Shiage Hamazura, a guy with no powers at all, tricks her into blowing herself up. All thanks to his ingenuity and determination, he beats her in both rematches as well.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid has Sieglinde Jeremiah, a tournament veteran who had never been defeated in battle, and whose single loss was due to her not appearing for her match. Einhart gets a shot at breaking her streak and eventually fails.
- Pokémon: The Elite Four, as well as several other characters.
- In Special A Hikari's goal is to beat her rival/Love Interest, Kei at something. Anything. Unfortunately, Kei's The Ace and is undefeatable at everything. The only person to ever beat him is Big Bad Yahiro, who cheated.
- Lina Inverse and her True Companions are finally called Slayers at the end of Evolution-R, after killing (part of) Ruby-Eye Shabranigdu.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise's protagonists tend to make a habit of this, starting with a duel against Seto Kaiba...
- Played with in the manga version of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Judai keeps the habit early on, including a 2-on-1 victory against Manjoume (because the latter refused to work with his spirit card, whereas Judai and Winged Kuriboh are inseperable). Manjoume then returns the favor in the Tournament Arc... only to be defeated by the much more undefeatable Marufuji Ryo.
- Kaito had this attitude during his duel with V in Yu Gi Oh Zexal. (Of course, while V's card, Number 9: Dyson Sphere, was a very powerful card that sure seemed undefeatable, V's claim that it was never defeated had an obvious flaw: he clearly could not have used it more than once or twice in the past, seeing as a duel using a Duel Monster the size of the sun would likely have been witnessed. So his boast that it had "never been defeated" was probably meaningless.)
- Definitely meaningless. In a later duel, Kaito used Number 9 against Tron, and Tron defeated it with a Monster that was not even his strongest card. Clearly, there are far stronger Numbers than Number 9, and V's claim was complete BS.
- Raiser Phenex from High School D×D was supposed to be undefeatable because of his Healing Factor, but Issei defeats him with holy water and a Christian cross, both are devil weaknesses. It helps that Issei has a dragon arm that makes him partially immune against those weaknesses.
- Champion of the Universe: a Marvel Comics character who goes around the universe challenging people to boxing matches, who was undefeated until The Thing stood up to him. Not that Thing beat him physically; Thing was just too stubborn to stay down after getting knocked out, so the Champion conceded. More recently She-Hulk beat him too.
- Champion of the Universe is considered by many fans to be a subversion (or very bad example) of this as he has pretty much never defeated anyone with a name.
- He has defeated Adam Warlock, Beta Ray Bill, Drax the Destroyer, the Silver Surfer and Gladiator. He handily beat She-Hulk as well; however, she then spent a month working her ass off (in human form) and bulked up impressively...and realized the Infinity Gem he was using could be counted as a "weapon" - and was therefore against the rules - and beat the tar out of him. With the Gem, he is undefeatable. Without it, he's tough, but not impossibly so. Gladiator is quick to note that any of them could have beaten him at that point, to which She-Hulk responds by... saying something outrageously sexist.
- He is apparently defeated for good when Titania, armed with the Gem, picked up a mountain and squashed him under it. He's immortal, but without the Gem, he's not strong enough to free himself.
- Manute from Sin City was The Juggernaut of the series. At the end of A Dame To Kill For, Dwight had to resort to shooting Manute several times, kicking him off a roof, and then having Miho pin him to the pavement by shoving swords into his arms. This did not kill him, nor did it even knock him out. It got him out of the way nonetheless. He's killed in a hail of gunfire in the next volume, The Big Fat Kill. In the extended cut of the movie, this was changed to being bisected by Miho.
- This is Squirrel Girl's shtick, since she's a Silver Age hero in a Modern Age setting.
- In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman defeats Superman. An old Batman versus a Superman who hasn't aged a day. It takes missiles, an overpowered supersonics gun, Powered Armor, electrical gauntlets powered by the whole Gotham City, the Bat-Tank, and a kryptonite-tipped arrow, but he actually does it.
- Although, as per usual, Superman really wasn't fighting to kill or seriously injure Batman. Also he recently had a nuke explode on his face, and was still recovering.
- As mentioned in the page quote, Varan the Undefeatable from the Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand, whose reputation largely stemmed from his use of a Warp-derived Compelling Voice to force his opponents to defect to his cause. This being a Ciaphas Cain novel, you get no points for guessing who wins the inevitable confrontation between the two.
- Admittedly, this is one of the few times that the day was not in fact saved by a "Jurgen ex machina" swinging the odds in Cain's favor.
- Though Jurgen he did even the odds by allowing the fight to happen in the first place.
- And strangely enough, it's not even in the right context: Varan actually says that to mock Cain when the short, weedy guy with a bad mustache suddenly reveals he has Femme Fatalons and is mutated to the point of having a thick exoskeleton Cain's chainsword can't pierce.
- Robb Stark never lost a battle in the War of the Five Kings. He still ended up losing the war (and his life) because treacherous allies turn on him and join his enemies. Together, they hatch a plan that becomes the backbreaking and traumatic Red Wedding.
- In Time Scout, Wagers of Sin, Skeeter Jackson steals a small fortune from an undefeated champion of the Roman arena. Guess who Skeeter ends up facing there? Guess who wins?
- In The Excalibur Alternative, there is surprise all around when a hitherto untouchable Federation battle squadron gets utterly Curb Stomped by Avalon Empire forces.
- Parodied in Discworld, where an up-and-coming Barbarian Hero decides to call himself Voltan the Invulnerable, goes into the Mended Drum to announce this, and lasts about twenty seconds.
- A folk tale or legend is used by the trainer of Warders in the Wheel of Time, as a warning not to get cocky. He asks his class who the greatest swordsman of all time was. They all respond immediately and in unison. He then asks who handed him his only defeat. They are silent. "A farmer with a quarterstaff!" This particular lesson was delivered after Mat Cauthon, a farmer with a quarterstaff, had just defeated Gawyn and Galad, two of the best students in the group. At the same time. While recovering from an injury.
Live Action TV
- An important figure in the story of the Japanese hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune's life was the warrior-monk Benkei. His goal was to defeat a thousand warriors, but after 999 victories, his thousanth opponent was Yoshitsune, who bested him. Benkei swore loyalty to Yoshitsune, serving as his retainer and companion for two years, at which point Yoshitsune was betrayed, and committed Seppuku. Benkei died defending him from enemy soldiers while he did so, and was still standing and holding his weapon long after he had actually died from the onslaught of arrows. (Many of his foes actually thought he was a demon from hell., he was such a terror in battle.)
Professional Wrestling and MMA
- This is a common storyline in Professional Wrestling, where a fighter is famous for being unbeatable, and is known as the most powerful wrestler of them all until that one Face can eventually defeat them.
- An old and famous example of this type of character is André the Giant (whose final "beaten" storyline closed out his long career), and a few newer characters who got their start this way are The Undertaker, The Boogeyman, and The Great Khali (who is still relatively unstoppable even after being defeated).
- Goldberg was also given one of the biggest streaks in WCW history, starting from his introductory match as a Jobber against Hugh Morrus, going all the way to defeating Hollywood Hogan for the title. His 173 match winning streak was finally ended by Kevin Nash, with the aid of his newly obtained booking superpowers and a taser by Scott Hall.
- Nothing could beat Umaga. Not Viscera, not John Cena, not Jeff Hardy, not Kane, not even DeGeneration X. It got to the point his manager, Armando Estrada, began to refer to Umaga as "The Undefeated". It finally took having John Cena using a STFU with the detached ring ropes to defeat him.
- Vader was also an example of this in early '90s WCW, with faces lining up to take him down — and all failing, until Sting came along.
- This trope was particularly noticeable in 80s WWF, where every new big bad heel destroyed everyone in his path until they finally got a shot at Hulk Hogan who took them down with his Five Moves Of Doom. Hercules Hernandez, King Kong Bundy, and Zeus come to mind, but there were definitely others.
- The Undertaker has a perfect 21-0 winning streak at WrestleMania, and his upcoming Wrestlemania opponents (most recently, CM Punk) will often talk about how they will become legends by ending said streak; with JBL once mentioning (prior to losing the opportunity to even face Taker) that ending the streak would be a bigger accomplishment than winning a world title.
- Nearly every Japanese promotion has one such "undefeatable" wrestler, referred to as the "ace." Aces range in Kayfabe ability from the relatively beatable Hiroshi Tanahashi of NJPW to the staggering, unbeatable might of NOAH's Kenta Kobashi. Mitsuharu Misawa was probably Japan's most consistently unbeatable wrestler - during any given year, Misawa's pinfall losses could be counted on one hand.
- Not at all an unheard story in MMA, although all-around badass Fedor Emelianenko has had the most success at remaining undefeated, with a record of 31-1-1, the loss coming from a controversial stoppage due to a cut on his head and the no-contest from an accidental headbutt.
- Unfortunately, the other side is that in a rematch the former "undefeatable" may show that the loss or draw was actually a fluke, leading to an unfortunate Curb-Stomp Battle. Cases in point: Matt Serra against Georges St-Pierre, Tsuyoshi Kousaka against Fedor (the cut loss), and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (the accidental headbutt no contest).
- Pretty much Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's claim to fame in the modern UFC: after two poor first performances in the company he showed renewed form in knocking down Chuck Liddell and slugging him out in the fist round, then gave the performance of a lifetime against legend-in-the-making UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, only to lose the highly controversial decision that almost everyone except the judges thought was Shogun's. He then goes on to knock out Machida in the first round in their rematch, winning the Light-Heavyweight title.
- Frankie "The Answer" Edgar recently took the UFC lightweight belt from the previously considered "unbeatable" B.J. Penn at UFC 112. Penn hadn't lost in the lightweight division in eight years, but Edgar managed to upset the champ with a set gameplan; mixing up his offense, and pushing the pace with his speed.
- It finally happened to aforementioned Fedor Emelianenko, who just recieved his first legitimate loss to Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was suitably exicted.
- It happened again the fight after that, with Antonio "bigfoot" Silva dominating him and beating him by TKO.
- Most recently, Chris Weidman knocking out Anderson Silva, who had a 17 fight winning streak, with his last loss being a DQ.
- Exalted is all about doing this to the extremely powerful people you don't like. You can even do this to The Unconquered Sun. Unconquered does not mean Unconquerable.
- In Street Fighter, this role is filled by Sagat in the first game, The King of Muay Thai (alternatively, the God or Emperor of Muay Thai), who, at the end of the game, is eventually defeated by Ryu, and, afterwards, loses his entire reputation, joins the Big Bad's organization, and, after a little soul searching, does a Heel-Face Turn and focuses on becoming stronger. Storyline-wise, he's still one of the most powerful characters in the game, and he's only lost three times, and each time he technically didn't lose giving his all (the first time, Ryu was consumed by his desire to win, briefly losing himself to Satsui no Hadou and sucker punching Sagat with a Metsu Shoryuken, which is how Sagat has that scar across his chest, and the other two times he either was too distraught to give his all note , or let the opponent win note ).
- Gameplay wise, he has consistently been top tier in every appearance, to the point that many fans have labeled it either a "tradition" or a "running gag" for Capcom.
- Akuma has also only been "defeated" once, by Gouken in his youth. He would later turn up for a rematch in which he killed Gouken (well, not quite), and hasn't outright lost a match since (he has, however, forfeited against people who have potential to get stronger if he leaves them alive, since his honour code won't let him fight people who aren't at their strongest).
- Speculation has it that Akuma did lose to a Not Quite Dead Gouken upon their reunion in IV (given that Gouken No Selled the Shun Goku Satsu with the Power of Nothingness), which is why he no longer hounds Ryu by the time of III.
- This is a large part of the main plot of the first Mortal Kombat game. Goro had dominated the competition for centuries prior, and was a seemingly unstoppable force, and defeating him was a vital step in paving the way for Shao Kahn's defeat.
- In BlazBlue we have an interesting variation of this trope: How do you beat a supercomputer with three omniscient minds that has manipulated the countless Groundhog Day Loops the world has gone through to its own perfectionist ends in a game of chess? Believe it or not, Hazama/Terumi Yuuki knew how to cheat his way to victory, and we, the players, are left to ask ourselves: Why him? Why, of all people, him? Why, of all the possible outcomes, did HE, the embodiment of the worst possible outcome, have to win the Continuum Shift? Why? Because he ensured that there was no other possible outcome than his victory.
- The Elite Four fill this role in every Pokémon game (as well as the anime), while Red, the protagonist from the first game, fills this role somewhat in the game in which he appeared as a boss.
- Giovanni from the Special Manga fits this trope extremely well, as it is said that no one has ever defeated him in his time as a gym leader. The Elite Four in the Kanto Arc also fit this trope as they are constantly called undefeated more so than in the games. The Legendary Pokemon in the anime and games are constantly implied to be undefeated as well. And then we have Pikachu.
- Giovanni is even stronger in the Pokémon Origins special. How strong is he? In their first battle, his Nidoqueen (not his most powerful Pokemon) trounces Red's Charizard with barely an effort. In the following battle at the gym, Giovanni decides to use his two strongest Pokemon against Red's team made specifically to take on the invincible Ground-type gym leader, and the first one, Rhyhorn takes down four of them before being eliminated in a Double Knockout (said opponents were a Victreebel, a Kabutops, a Snorlax, a Jolteon (taken down by a single electric attack), and an Hitmonlee). Then Charizard, now stronger, faced Rhydon, and managed to scrape a victory.
- Volkner has this reputation as a gym leader. It doesn't translate very well to the anime, though, considering the regional conference typically requires its entrants to defeat the gym leaders to make it in. And that's before he got bored of crushing everyone's dreams and started giving away his badges for free.
- In the original Knights of the Old Republic, you can rise all the way up in the gladiatorial ladder on Taris, eventually, defeating and killing the undefeated champion who killed every challenger in the last decades, so that nobody dares to challenge him any more.
- The Ravager is the undisputed champion of the arena in Jade Empire... he gets a lot of hype, and it's all freaking justified. The bastard is the second/third hardest fight in the game.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, in a similar subplot, you can defeat the Gray Prince, the undefeated Grand Champion of Cyrodiil Arena. However, there is also a subquest that allows you to kill him without any fight and claim the title...
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Alduin is supposed to be unbeatable. The best the old heroes of Skyrim could do is cast him forward in time, and even when the Dragonborn kills him, Alduin's is the one dragonsoul the Dragonborn doesn't absorb upon death.
- The Gear fighting champion Rico in Xenogears.
- Not a fighting series, but the Ace Attorney series has this with prosecutors with perfect conviction records, at least in the Phoenix Wright era. Combined with the fact some of them were a bit obsessed with getting the defendant guilty, it made winning the client's freedom that much sweeter. Subverted one time, when Godot announces that he's never lost a case... and then reveals that that's because he's never prosecuted a case before.
- From Iji, Annihilator Iosa, who is known as "Iosa the Invincible" for surviving a Planetary Extinction event.
- In Armored Core games, Nineball is known for having held the position of #1 pilot the longest, thus those who can beat him are famed as "Ninebreakers".
- The arena champion from Armored Core 3, Ace, reached his position without suffering a single loss.
- Crawmerax the Invincible from Borderlands. The mission for beating him is called "You. Will. Die." and the achievement earned for putting him down is called "Vincible".
- Mass Effect presents the Reapers as undefeatable. They've spent countless millions of years wiping out all advanced organic life in the galaxy every 50,000 years. Finally, at the end of Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard ends their reign at great cost. ...we think.
- In Asura's Wrath, the Seven Deities are repeatedly described as undefeatable gods. Well, Asura puts them to the test on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge....and finds them wanting. Shortly afterward, he goes up against Ghoma Vlitra, which is described as a force so powerful it cannot be killed, only subdued temporarily. No prizes for guessing what Asura does to it. Finally, the game's last, DLC-specific chapters, culminate in Asura fighting Chakravatin, who is effectively God, and is so powerful that his supreme fortress is literally larger than entire galaxies and he uses stars and planets as projectiles. Three guesses what happens to that theoretically indestructable asshole.
- In Persona 3, it's repeatedly drilled into your head that Nyx is unbeatable. Minato beats her.
- Bioshock Infinite goes to a great deal of effort to emphasize how invincible Songbird is. Elizabeth refuses to even let Booker fight him, insisting that it would be a completely hopeless fight. In the end, she's right. It's a deconstruction of the standard player expectations when hearing about an invincible enemy. When Elizabeth says "You can't beat Songbird," the game isn't setting up an awesome boss fight, it's setting up the fact that you can't beat Songbird. Elizabeth does eventually kill him in a cutscene though, but only after her Power Limiter has been destroyed and she's basically a Physical God.
- In Emerald City Confidential, Petra defeats Mombi, the resident champion of the wizard arena. Mombi, who is a Sore Loser, calls Petra out after the match for using parlor tricks rather than just magic to win.
- In Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, you get special titles for defeating a player with a long-enough win streak.
- Punch-Out!! for the Wii does this for the Final Boss Mr. Sandman. Not only does he have a whooping 31 wins - 0 loses record, but his introduction cutscene shows him knocking out every other boxer in the game like it was nothing.
- Bun-Bun is like this throughout Sluggy Freelance. The main characters seem confident he can beat just about anyone or anything, including immortal assassins and world-destroying demons. He gets beaten a few times over the comcic's run however.
- Old Man Death in Girl Genius, a Badass Normal human who used to ride with the Blood Knight Jagers and never lost a fight. Due to his reputation, Jagers constantly try to defeat him for his Nice Hat, but never managed to do it even in his old age. He finally lost the hat when Maxim challenged him for it, and even then, Maxim only succeeded by being "sottle", ordering a hat sandwich to go, forcing Old Man Death to prepare the hat and hand it to Maxim lest the old man risk his reputation as the Supreme Chef of his gourmet sandwich shop.
- The Arena Champion in The Order of the Stick, who has a perfect win record and has killed 37 gladiators in a row, including a stone giant with PC Class Levels. Naturally, Roy has to try to beat him in a death match, a chance that he looks forward to when he learns that the Arena Champion is Thog.
- Tiger Woods was 14-0 in golf's four major championships when he held the lead (by himself or with others) after 54 of 72 regulation holes...but that came to a stunning end when he lost the 2009 PGA Championship with a two stroke 54 hole lead to unheralded Y.E. Yang. And then three months later he crashed into a fire hydrant outside his home in Florida, and the rest has been history.
- Mike Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion who was mowing down everyone who came into his path, including previously unbeaten champions like Michael Spinks...in 91 seconds. James "Buster" Douglas was supposed to be just another speed bump to the champ (in fact, the February 1990 fight was held in Tokyo because no American venue would have it). No one told Douglas, though, who proceeded to knock out Tyson in the 10th round and become one of the unlikeliest heavyweight champions in boxing history.
- The Miracle on Ice, where the USA ice hockey team of the 1980 Winter Olympics manage to defeat a Soviet team that was nigh-unbeatable in the world scene for more than a decade. For bonus points, the USA team was made up of collegiate ice hockey players and had been crushed by the Soviets in an earlier exhibition game 10 to 3. "Do you believe in miracles?"
- Tennis star Rafael Nadal entered the 2009 French Open as the World No. 1 and 4-time defending champion who had never been beaten on French clay ever since his debut at the 2005 French Open, not even by the legendary Roger Federer, and had just set a record streak of 31 wins at the French Open. His fourth-round opponent, Robin Soderling, was all set up to become yet another one of his conquests as the 23rd seed who had never even reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament before and had been steamrolled by Nadal in all of their previous matches. Soderling apparently hadn't read the script, however, as he proceeded to turn in the game of his life and defeat Nadal in one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.
- A literal example in the 2007 Super Bowl match between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The Patriots had an undefeated regular and playoff season. They seem to have the best offense and defense ever assembled in NFL history, or so the many sports commentators kept saying.. Superstar quarterback Tom Brady completed 50 touchdowns throughout the season, running up the score and completely dominating most defenses he faced. The whole country believed they'd be the second team besides the 1972 Miami Dolphins to have an undefeated NFL season, complete with a Super Bowl victory. At the same time, the New York Giants had an up and down season. There were times when the fans demanded that the managers fire coach Tom Coughlin and replace quarterback Eli Manning, whom many football fans regarded as not being as talented as his older brother Peyton Manning. However they fought and clawed their way to the playoffs and the Super Bowl game. During the game, millions who watched were in shock as not only did the Giants stop the Patriots dominating offense, but they were able to only hold them to 14 points, winning the game. Eli finally escaped from his brother's shadow by matching him with a Super Bowl win, and Tom Coughlin had his coaching contract extended. And just to show the win wasn't a fluke, they beat the Patriots again in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season, and Eli Manning surpassed his brother with two Super Bowl wins.
- When chess grandmaster Jose Capablanca was defeated by fellow grandmaster Richard Reti in the 1924 grandmaster tournament in New York, it was his first loss under tournament conditions in eight years.