You're surrounded by bad guys, outnumbered many to one. What do you do? Call for back up? No, it's time to split up! Detachment combat happens when a character, robot, monster, or spaceship has the ability to break into sections, with each piece capable of fighting separately. A Rocket Punch is a form of this. Helping Hands is also a form of this if it's voluntary. Distinct from Pulling Themselves Together in that detaching is a feature and an attack, not the result of damage. Contrast with Combining Mecha. See also Disposable Vehicle Section, Losing Your Head and Drone Deployer. Does not mean that the combatant appears not to care about the fight — that's Cavalier Competitor.
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Anime & Manga
- Majin Buu of Dragon Ball Z takes this Up to Eleven: being made of bubblegum-like goo, he can control any piece of it that's been separated from his body. Apart from using his legs to knock out Tien, he takes advantage of this so he can catch his enemies by surprise and absorb them (which he does by engulfing them in a piece of his goo and reabsorbing it into his body).
- Nana from Elfen Lied got her arms and legs torn off by Lucy, but her Papa gave her fake ones she can control with her vectors and she will sometimes shoot them at people for a long range attack.
- Big Volfogg of Gaogaigar fame could split back into his smaller form along with his support units Gundober and Gunglue for a rush attack, then re-combine.
- Gatchaman, called Battle of the Planets in the West. The five heroes can either go into battle in their individual craft, or combine into their super vehicle.
- In Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, The Alpha - Beta heavy fighter splits into the light Legioss (Alpha) fighter and the Tread (Beta) fighter - bomber.
- Getter Robo has used "Open Get" (decombining) to escape from enemy attacks as well as to split up and deliver a barrage of guns or wipe out a horde of minor enemies. Also, they have been known to Open Get, then combine into Getter-3 in midair and fall on the enemy as an attack.
- Go Nagai woks:
- Several of the giant robots fought by Mazinger Z had this ability: Deimos F3, Velgas V5 (its parts had individual rocket propulsion and could attack separately), and a third one.
- Mazinger Z itself and one of its successors, Mazinkaiser, also did it sometimes (detaching the Scrander Jet/Scrander Kaiser off themselves. Moreover, Mazinkaiser used its wings like a cutting, oversized boomerang).
- Great Mazinger and UFO Robo Grendizer also did, not only by shooting their punches but also by detaching their MidSeason Upgrades and attacking with them.
- Kotetsu Jeeg is an expert in this. Given that it uses magnetism to combine its body parts, replace them or shoot them, Jeeg can use any of them to attack (including its head). Also, it employs of variants or Rocket Punch!
- Gundam series:
- The Turn-X Gundam from Turn A Gundam has this as its most notable ability - its limbs can break off, and divide into smaller pieces, to fly around and attack the opponent from many directions at once with beam attacks and a strange power that dries-out the energy of opponent mechas. Recreated on great detail in Super Robot Wars Z
- The Great Zeong from the G Generation video games, apparently the original plan for the Zeong from Mobile Suit Gundam but nowhere near feasible for its time, does the same (and in fact, its various "segments" are based on Zeon mobile armors: the legs on the Bigro, the waist on the Big Zam, and the chest on the Apsaras). The regular Zeong can send its arms out on cables, and its head is an escape craft, but it's not quite the same.
- Hisoka of Hunter × Hunter allowed an opponent of his to cut off both his arms during combat. He then used the Functional Magic of his world, Nen, to control one of the detached arms to punch his opponent in the face. He had to get both arms surgically reattached later though.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- In part 1, Zeppeli explains that this is sort of how his Zoom Punch works: he temporarily dislocates his arm to extend the range of his punch, while using the power of the Ripple to block the resulting pain and heal himself.
- In Part 5, Buccelatti can do this with his zippers, detaching an arm and reeling it out on a length of zipper. Also Ciocolatta can do this with some improvisation from his stand Green Day and this leads to one of the nastiest, most gruesome usages of this trope.
- In Part 6, Jolyne Kujo pulls this off while fighting Enrico Pucci due to her ability to unravel herself.
- In Macross, the Zentraedi command ship can detach the forward weapons section to use as a separate flagship leading the assault, while the rear section acts as a rear command post.
- One Piece:
- Buggy the Clown's abilities from the Chop-Chop Fruit. All parts of his body can fly around at will, but only if his feet are grounded. He's also immune to stabbing and cutting weapons.
- Inverted with Trafalgar Law, who has the ability to detach other people's body parts and combine them with other people/objects.
- Marine captain Berry Good also has this as his power, but by becoming bouncy balls.
- Raideen: God Bird, Change! Head Cutter!
- In his fight with Sunny, Tommyrod from Toriko loses his hand. Then turns out, he deliberatly let this happen, so his hand (which can live on it's own for few hours, due to insect-like nervous system of Tommyrod) can attack enemy from behind. Surprisingly, Sunny been doing exact same thing with strains of his hair, that Tommyrod ripped off earlier
- "Arm-Fall-Off Boy" of Legion of Super-Heroes infamy. It should be noted that Arm-Fall-Off Boy was just a joke in the comic's letters page, but he became a Canon Immigrant in at least one 'boot.
- When attacking Daxam with multiple yellow power rings, Mongul used his own severed arm wielding their own rings as a partner.
- MF Enterprises' Captain Marvel could separate any of his limbs from his body by yelling "Split!", as shown in the page pic; to reunite, he'd shout "Xam!". (No relation to Fawcett's or Marvel Comics' characters with the same name.)
- Hollywood Cyborg Garrison Kane of Marvel Comics could send his limbs out to attack people. A disembodied hand slapping him in the face managed to severely gross out Deadpool.
- Many versions of the Fantastic Four's Fantasticar are able to separate into mini-vehicles each of the Four can pilot.
- The Puzzler from Superman could split into living puzzle pieces, which she could then propel at her foes.
- Steve Ditko worked on a hero that combined this power and being a Rubber Man. His name was Jigsaw, not to be confused with two villains sharing that name.
- Wildguard featured the Segmented Man, who could detach his body parts at the joint and become a living tornado, debris and all.
- In A Good Compromise, the USS Black Prince is a Hephaestus-class advanced escort, a variant of the Prometheus-class, so naturally it has multi-vector assault mode. The fic deals with some of the practicalities of having three independently operated sections: each section requires an independent warp core, and coordinating the three sections is more than a mortal captain can handle, so Prince's shipboard A.I. Edward, is in charge of flying Beta and Gamma. Tyria Sark uses MVAM in part 3 to even the odds against a squadron of Jem'Hadar attack ships.
Films — Animation
- Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story can move each of his body parts separately and takes advantage of this when he has to fight. Due to his potential for sight gags though, he always gets creamed in a comical way.
Films — Live-Action
- Inspector Gadget 2: G2 can break apart at the waist so that her torso and limbs work as separate combatants. Since she's a robot it's no problem.
- There's an alien from Men in Black II who starts out looking like a single tall humanoid. But when it begins to fight Agent Jay, it turns into five or six smaller aliens that fly around and attack Agent Jay by dive-bombing him.
- Arcee from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen does this, but there is a degree of ambiguity as whether she's this or a Combining Mecha. The writers of the film initially conceived her as being one robot made of three bikes which would even combine together into a larger robot mode but the appearance of the combined mode was ultimately dropped and Michael Bay changed her into three separate robots which the toys agree with. HOWEVER, the novelization and comics portray her in the way the authors intended, with the combined mode appearing briefly in each.
- The alien in The Thing (2011) does this; its arms drop off and scuttle about assimilating people. This only happens once, and may be a response to its body being fatally injured.
- An early conceptual storyboard from Star Trek: The Motion Picture had the Enterprise facing off against the three Klingon cruisers that V'ger had assimilated at the start of the movie. During the fight the Enterprise is damaged, and she ends up separating her saucer section in order to avoid being a single target.
- Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas can detach her sew-together arms or legs, although she's a noncombatant who uses this power for escape or distraction.
- The animated suits of armor in Bedknobs and Broomsticks do this during their skirmish with the invading Nazis. One suit's upper half is lifted off for examination by a perplexed officer, so its legs boot him from behind. Another suit's upper torso, head, and arm keep popping off to avoid harm when a German soldier jabs at it with a bayonet, then settle back into place. Justified because they're Animated Armor, so their various parts are no less enchanted to move than the whole.
- The Fighting Fantasy world has the Living Corpse, a shabby zombie-like being that, when hit for the first time, splits into six parts, all floating around and attacking independently. Thus leading to a long, frustrating fight, as each time you won an attack round you randomly roll to see which part you hit, and if you hit a part you'd already disabled the hit is wasted.
- Star Trek:
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation the saucer of the Galaxy-class can separate and fight independently of the stardrive. However the saucer section is only seen participating in combat in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". On all other occasions it is used as a large escape pod for the non-combatants like the families of the crew. Which was the original intention of the saucer separation feature; using it as an actual weapon was a tactic of desperation.
- Star Trek: Voyager introduces the Prometheus-class escort, a "one-ship task force" capable of separating into three independently warp-capable sections for combat. Once split apart, the three component ships can surround an enemy vessel to create a devastating crossfire.
- The villain in the Angel episode "I Fall to Pieces" could do this.
- Kamen Rider Double's forms that possess the Joker Memory have Finishing Moves that involve Double splitting in half vertically and striking the opponent with both halves.
- Power Rangers:
- In Power Rangers RPM, Tenaya 7 can detach her (robotic) hand and send it out. Early on, she snuck it into the Rangers' HQ and pulled an All Your Base Are Belong to Us. With just her hand.
- In Power Rangers in Space, Ecliptor once detached his head, which promptly started floating around, blasting Andros while his body was in the middle of swordfighting him.
- Cluster bots in Robot Wars, going into the arena as one unit, splitting up when the battle starts. The first and most notable was Gemini, and in the middleweight division, there was Typhoon Twins - which consisted of the lightweight bots Typhoon Lightning and Typhoon Thunder connected with essentially a piece of string and a sheet of paper at the start of the match. Originally a cluster bot was judged to have lost if one of the units was rendered immobile, but this was later changed...and then changed back.
- Ultra Hawk 1, a fighter jet that can split three ways (Alpha, Beta, and Gamma) from Ultra Seven.
- Wild Cards has an Ace who can do this. The parts can even regrow if not reattached in time.
- Displacers from The Beyonders can do this by "displacing" their body parts.
- The titular character of the Orson Cart series, a boy who was hit by a radioactive lawn mower and can now seperate his body parts at will.
- The H'rulka in the Star Carrier books fly around in gigantic ships (a necessity, given that H'rulka themselves are enormous gasbags that evolved on a gas giant) that turn out to be composed of smaller individual ships, with each of these being, essentially a one-man fighter. Of course, each of those one-man "fighters" is larger than a human frigate, but the H'rulka find them incredibly claustrophobic (a H'rulka doesn't even notice a human SEALS team entering his "fighter", the same way as a human might not notice an ant crawling around in his car).
Myths & Religion
- Nukekubi can detach their heads, which then fly off to suck peoples blood.
- The classic (fourth edition!) Magic: The Gathering card Tetravus functions much like this. It has slightly more modern descendants such as Pentavus and Triskelavus.
- Lebendtod, a variant undead from Ravenloft, have this trope as their signature ability, although it's more useful to compel Horror Checks than to fight.
- The Anatomic Separation power in Mutants & Masterminds.
- In Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, shard minds can break into shards and use it as movement and disorientation. It's not very effective though.
- Take a few feats and you can do it twice an encounter, throw it, and increase the aura.
- An epic feat makes it deal damage.
- Oh, and it doesn't have to roll to hit.
- One ability by a Prestige shard mind class has your character explode into a hurricane of shards, covering several squares, able to move the hurricane, and still being able to attack anyone inside the field. Much, much more effective.
- Take a few feats and you can do it twice an encounter, throw it, and increase the aura.
- An Infernal artifact armor in Exalted allows the wearer to split their body into pieces that may float around and fight independently.
- BIONICLE had an example in the heavy crowd-control Vahki model, the Kraahu. Intact, it could spray stun gas; when that was impractical, it could detach its six limbs and send them off to fight. This was a viable tactic for two reasons: a) all Vahki, including the Kraahu's individual parts, could fly, and b) said parts could give off a powerful electric charge on contact.
- Undead creatures of Evil biomes in Dwarf Fortress have the bad habit, when dismembered, to keep fighting as any part that has a grasping limb. Cut their hand off, and the hand may come to life and strangle you. Behead them, and the head will chase you and bite at you.
- The second boss in Wolverine: Adamantium Rage had four bladed arms, which he would detach and fling around at will.
- One of the bosses of G-Darius, Eternal Triangle, could split its body into three segments, attack separately with each of them, and trap the player in an electric triangle barrier that his namesake suggests.
- Unlike Rayman, whose power is merely a Rocket Punch, Plok can throw all four of his limbs at enemies.
- Dead Space had this twisted example of a type of necromorph (Undead-like monster enemies that attack you throughout the game). This type of necromorph attacks similarly to most other necromorphs (get close enough and slash), but distinguishes itself by being tall and spindly in build. Once you 'kill' one of these by doing enough damage to it, however, it splits up into its head and four separate limbs and continues crawling, slithering (yes, the head slithers) and attacking the player via these appendages.
- And if you get overwhelmed by them your head gets torn off and it's head replaces it.
- One particularly irritating foe in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a mantis-like robot that tossed out its bladed arms when the player got too close. Thankfully, he could only do it once.
- Kingdom Hearts series
- The Guard Armor boss in Kingdom Hearts has autonomous limbs, which move and battle on their own when taken enough damage. It is necessary to defeat each of the limbs before finishing off the torso to beat it.
- Finkelstein's Experiment from the second game shares this ability.
- The Trinity Armor in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is much like the Guard Armor, except its individual parts actually turn into what resemble flying machines (i.e. its arms become a helicopter, etc.)
- In Metroid Prime: Hunters, Weavel's body splits apart at the waist, and the bottom half becomes a turret, while the top half starts bouncing around and slashing at you with a sword. Justified, since he is mostly robot (he just has a brain and spinal cord left).
- The game allows you to detach your (and your opponents') limbs through powerful enough strikes or pulls (using grabbing arms). Although you will get the equivalent of a stun if you lose a limb/body part, on your next turn you will still be able to control that body part, along with your fighter. As with nearly any situation that spawns out of the game, this can create some...interesting situations. For example, if someone tears off your arm, you better damn well grab his arm (or other body part) with the severed limb so he can't throw it down to the ground to disqualify you.
- There are several game modes. Most of them are about not touching the ground outside the ring or with body parts which aren't feet/hands. One of them replaces your hands with long, thin sticks that instantly cut off every part they touch - essentially, swords. Due to arms being connected to pectoral muscles that are two orbs making up the whole chest, taking a cut or a stab to there causes the whole arm from shoulder down to fall off. But, to the point - that arm is fully capable of twitching around with its elbow and wrist, and its hand-sword is as lethal to the enemy as it was. You also don't get disqualified for it landing on the floor. Sometimes an enemy running into your severed arm is what decides of the ultimate victory of yours.
- The Yellow Devil and its variations in the Mega Man games primarily attack by breaking their bodies into pieces and flying across the screen. They rarely stay fully formed for long, which is also generally the only time you can harm them. This tends to make them difficult fights.
- Skullgirls: Any place where Miss Fortune has a scar on her body is where she can detach her parts, owing to her being dismembered by the mob after she swallowed an immortality-granting gem. She utilizes this extensively in battle, especially with her head.
- Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion's Alisa Bosconovitch can remove her arms during a battle. She can also detach her head and use it as an explosive.
- A specific challenge in Mortal Kombat 9's Challenge Tower requires the battle to be conducted by throwing your arms, legs, and head at your opponent. After you do, your flung limb will regrow after a certain period of time.
- Sir Daniel Fortesque from MediEvil can rip off his own arm and use it as a weapon, though it isn't very effective and is usually meant to be used a last resort if your weapon is stolen. He can also detach his head and place it on a severed hand.
- Monsoon of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is capable of separating his entire body due to his body being made up of magnets. He can make use of this ability to avoid Raiden's sword attacks, and to attack Raiden with his various body parts both independently and from a distance.
- Sekibanki of Touhou. Her spell cards has her head flying off from her body to shoot at you. One series of spell cards even has her creating duplicates of her flying head to fight you with.
- Star Trek Online features unique consoles for saucer separation on the Galaxy- and Odyssey-class cruisers, multi-vector assault mode in the Prometheus-class escort, and dual vector separation on the Haakona Advanced Warbird (a Romulan ship built using stolen plans for the Prometheus). The Odyssey-class and Bortasqu'-class can also equip consoles that allow them to separate an independent section that is also available as a ship on its own, respectively the Aquarius-class destroyer and HoH'SuS-class bird of prey.
- In The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, one boss is a daruma doll whose stacking segments try to slam into you by sliding across the screen one by one.
- The Legendary Pokémon Zygarde has the ability to do this. It is comprised of several autonomous Cores that serve as the creature's brain and non-autonomous Cells that respond to the Cores and normally comprise its whole body. Normally it remains in its 50% form which only contains 50% of its whole cells, but it can send out a Core and some of its Cells as a canid 10% "drone" to attack for a short time.
- In TOME, one of the "Ranks of Sanctuary" has this as his primary attack method. His secondary attack method is a giant cloud of poison gas which fills the entire arena to kill enemies who try to take their time and counter. He eventually ends up fighting an Evil Twin, leading to the line:
"Why didn't you tell me my attack patterns were so annoying?!"
- Megas XLR: The RECR could separate its limbs and torso and later recombine.
- The Teen Titans could separate their T-Sub, much like the Fantasticar. Cyborg occasionally remote-controlled his hands or limbs for various purposes, though it was never his first option.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series: In the episode "Bem", the titular character was a colony creature who could separate his head, upper torso, and lower torso (at least).
- The Transformers (Generation One). One episode saw Optimus Prime forcibly detached, his parts spread across New York City when the Decepticons attempted to convert Manhattan into their new base. His right hand (armed with his weapon) was used by the Decepticons as a turret.
- Devastator, Superion et al. are actually Combining Mecha, but Sky Lynx is a notable exception: His vehicle form is a space shuttle, but he splits into a bird AND lynx in robot mode, two separate bodies that share one mind.
- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit does this often.
- Code Lyoko has the Skidblamdir, carrying four Navskids. Hilarious in Hindsight when Moonscoop produced Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes.
- This was the main gimmick of Fallapart Rabbit in Bonkers, though he always did it by accident and it was played for laughs.
- In Futurama, Bender once beats the slime out of sewer monster after it tears his arms off — the arms just crawl up the monster's back and punch it in the face.
- In a sense, this is how aircraft carriers operate: one large, slow section with living quarters and maintenance, sending out relatively small and fast pieces of metal (airplanes and helicopters) to carry out or fend off attacks then return.