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Delayed Causality

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.

Examples

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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.

    Comics 
  • Subverted in this strip of the French comic Game Over: the protagonist gets the time to retaliate... not that it does any good.
  • 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.

    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.

    Literature 
  • Done in one of the Honorverse prequels to a hexapuma.
  • 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.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.


Deadly DodgingFight SceneDesignated Girl Fight
UnderworldImageSource/Live-Action FilmsStairwell Chase

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