"You're already dead."A Dramatic Pause used for action scenes. The hero (or villain) punches his foe. Dramatic Pause... and a giant explosion obliterates him. Or, the hero swings his sword. Dramatic Pause... object/opponent falls to two pieces. This is not like using a Time Bomb, where a delay is deliberate. This is ignoring the laws of physics for the sake of dramatic effect. For all intents and purposes, the attack was over when the punch landed... the resulting effect simply decided to wait a few seconds before showing up. The Delayed Causality is almost always used in a Single-Stroke Battle. The target of the attack doesn't have time to, or simply won't, react to it until the final explosion occurs. The only reaction, if there is one, is to acknowledge how the opponent bested him before he dies. The can also be used simply as a display of skill. For example, hero throws a block of wood into the air and slashes a few times. The wood block falls down... Dramatic Pause... and breaks apart into the shape of a peacock. See also You Are Already Dead.
— Kenshiro, Fist of the North Star
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Anime & Manga
- Hayate the Combat Butler, when Isumi destroys the Koi Herpes Virus.
- Parodied in Dragon Ball: Mr. Satan pays no. 18 to take a dive in their tournament match. Mr. Satan punches 18, who is completely unaffected. She asks Mr. Satan whether that was his most powerful attack, and he says yes. She jumps backward off the arena, and the audience misinterprets it as a Delayed Causality punch.
- Claymore just loves this trope.
- In Code Geass, this happens in the fight between the Knight of One and Suzaku
- Saint Seiya loves this one. Foes don't drop dead until they realize they've been hit.
- Frequently played straight in YuYu Hakusho. In what was possibly the earliest example in the show, Hiei slices an opponent something like sixteen times; said opponent has time for some gloating before he finally slides into pieces.
- In Japan, that pause where nothing is happening is called "Mu", something like "emptiness". It's important as a punctuation in Japanese theatre and is used most famously (to the point of being parodied in countless other anime and manga) by Goemon Ishikawa XIII in the Lupin III Franchise. Goemon even has a Catch Phrase that he says before the items he has just cut fall into pieces: "Again, I have cut a worthless object."
- In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, after Goemon slices apart boats and telephones, they continue to hold together for several seconds afterwards. As does General Headhunter, before turning into a pile of gold dust.
- Fist of the North Star: Whenever Kenshiro says "You Are Already Dead", there's a good chance this trope is taking place.
- In One Piece this is Brook's signature fighting style.
- Highlander: The Search for Vengeance does this twice. First with cutting off the head of Malik (who even manages to have a conversation after his head is flying through the air) and again at the final battle.
- Subverted in this strip of the French comic Game Over: the protagonist gets the time to retaliate... not that it does any good.
- Played straight here.
- There is an issue of Sin City where Miho slices her sword across a mobster's wrist. There's a moment before the hand falls off where the mobster is looking down, wondering what just happened.
- In a fight scene of Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, the Operative gets into a swordfight with one of his former fellows named Denon. He ends the fight with a Clean Cut through Denon's entire head, front to back; it takes a couple panels for the top of Denon's head to fall off.
- After Scott Pilgrim defeats Ramona's evil ex-girlfriend Roxanne there's a delay before the pieces fall apart.
Films — Live Action
- In Cube, one of the rooms slices up a character with Razor Floss but the pieces don't fall apart for a few seconds.
- In Equilibrium, the Dragon to the Big Bad is on the receiving end of one of these.
- Pictured above is the climax of the first Underworld movie, wherein Seline does this to Viktor. It's particularly ridiculous because not only does he fail to realize the two halves of his head aren't connected anymore, he actually manages to whip around and draw his weapons before reality kicks in.
- In HERO, during the demonstration of "death within ten paces", Nameless cuts up all the bookshelves in a single move. Naturally, the bookshelves don't actually fall apart until a few seconds after he's returned to the center of the room.
- A form happens in The Three Musketeers at the beginning when the dragon slices through three candles with one stroke, and then calmly pushes the top halves off naming the musketeers in turn.
- How Darth Maul dies in The Phantom Menace; he stands whole for few seconds before falling, which shows that he was cut in two.
- Two members of the Umbrella Special Forces Team in Resident Evil are killed by the Red Queen computer with lasers. They stay perfectly standing until their injuries start to show; one of them has her neck sliced open while the other one is cut into tiny cubes.
- Happens in The Ice Pirates during the swordfight between Maida and Dogbite. Maida swings her sword, Dogbite stops fighting and simply stands and grins. "Feeling better?" she asks. Dogbite raises his head to nod, we see a red mark across his throat....and then his head just topples off his neck.
- Done in one of the Honorverse prequels to a hexapuma.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Shagga, son of Dolf claims his axe is so sharp that he once cut off a man's head without the man realizing it until he went to brush his hair. Tyrion muses that this is why Shagga never brushes his.
- In Interesting Times, Lord Hong is discussing with an underling when he suddenly lashes out with his sword. The underling cautions himself to stand very, very still to keep his head from falling off, as Hong's blades are known for their incredible sharpness. (It turns out a moment later that he struck an assassin posing as the tea girl.)
- Again used in Discworld by Granny Weatherwax, who can deliberately invoke this trope. She catches a sword bare-handed to no apparent injury, only allowing the injury to happen later when she's more prepared for it.
- Justified and Played for laughs in Red Dwarf, when Lister and Rimmer are under the effects of a time-manipulating device, so when two bruisers start pummeling them, it doesn't have any effect... until several hours later, when they're in the captain's office and suddenly start getting beaten and tossed around by thin air.
- Yojimbo from Final Fantasy X's Zanmato.
- Starcraft II has a cinematic sequence where Zeratul cuts off one of Kerrigan's blade-wing things. It takes a few seconds to fall off. In the next game, he does it again to Artanis' nerve cords, snapping out of his possession by Amon. He doesn't survive this time.
- Most heavy attacks in Super Smash Bros. Brawl send foes flying a few frames after they connect.
- Ninja's dash attack in Kirby: Triple Deluxe doesn't deal damage until after Kirby's sheathed his katana.
- This happens in some form or another in almost every episode of Samurai Jack.
- Also occurs in Star Wars: Clone Wars, the animated micro-series from Jack's creators. Ventress does it to her final opponent in Count Dooku's "tryout".
- In Wakfu, Sadlygrove's sword slashes often go according to this, but similarly often split stuff immediately too. Rule of Drama applies. Exhibit: Dream Sadlygrove slices up the dragon monster in Evangelyne's dream sequence in the Sadida Tree of Life.