Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?


"It's a funny thing about the old gods. You think that just because they're old, they must be difficult to kill. But when the fighting starts, they go down just like anybody else. They're not stronger, they're just older."
The Beast, The Magicians

So, along passes the Eldritch Abomination: Incomprehensible, omnipotent dark gods who instill gibbering insanity in anyone in their presence; Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who have obliterated countless worlds since time immemorial; Cosmic Entities whose thoughts encompass the very fabric of the universe and infinities beyond, on which humanity is just a subatomic particle. You know the type. Eternal, infinite, harbingers of the End of Times, impossible to even understand, let alone think about opposition...

And then along come a fellowship of plucky heroic badasses, who were never told that the Abomination is impossible to beat (and even if they were told, they wouldn't care.) Through some combination of skill, brains, courage, Heroic Spirit, and occasionally raw world-shattering Awesomeness Is a Force, maybe some kind of incredibly clever strategy, maybe trap, maybe Applied Phlebotinum and/or sheer dumb luck, or hey, When All You Have Is a Hammer, they go to work and... they defeat the abomination.

In short, you just killed a god. Not a Mook, not an Elite Mook, not The Dragon... A GOD! Anything much higher in Super Weight scale than the character.

This appears in videogames (especially RPGs), where the Final Boss is inevitably some kind of ultimate evil unleashed upon the world, or the Big Bad has gone One-Winged Angel... only to be defeated by the heroes by whittling down its health points. Particularly jarring if the horror in question is allegedly so powerful that according to the backstory the Precursors were only able to seal it away, or if the heroes claim it was defeated via The Power of Friendship (when it's obvious they won via the Power Of BFS, More Dakka, and Nuke-Level Summon Magic). Sometimes, you actually do kill God Himself, which is commonplace in JRPGs.

Maybe the heroes have found some rule stating that the power in question has limits or a Necessary Drawback, and then proceed to exploit it ruthlessly. Maybe Worf Had the Flu. Sometimes what they defeated was just part of the being which existed in our reality at the time, in which case reducing its Hit Points to 0 just temporarily banishes it: they were Fighting a Shadow.

This is generally the result of whenever you put an Eldritch Abomination from a cynical world in the same room as a Super Hero from an idealistic world, or anyone or anything else capable of hitting for massive damage. Do not expect this trope to appear in any Cosmic Horror Story worth its salt, except perhaps as a Hope Spot that will most likely end with you getting your arm broken punching out the abomination.

A common justification in video games (RPGs in particular) is to have something happen that relates to the story and limits the Big Bad's power and/or brings the heroes up to its level... then pummel it with extremely large swords and nuclear-apocalypse-level magic.

For the most extreme video-game examples, where the game designers intended for a character to be indestructible and players manage to kill it anyway, see Lord British Postulate.

Compare Cutting the Knot, Rage Against the Heavens, Power Creep, Power Seep, Strong as They Need to Be, New Powers as the Plot Demands, God's Hands Are Tied, Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?, Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?, Staring Down Cthulhu, Wowing Cthulhu, Reasoning with God, Always a Bigger Fish, Defeating the Undefeatable, Summon Bigger Fish (the latter two are when it's essentially a real god, like Thor or Zeus, doing the punching out), The Worf Effect, Lovecraft Lite. Overlaps with Kill the God when the punch is fatal and a god per se is the victim.

Contrast Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu, Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?, Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?, Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh....

Not to be confused with The Worf Effect or Creator Killer.

Also see Do Not Taunt Cthulhu and Olympus Mons.


Alternative Title(s): Punch Out A God, Most Likely To Punch Out Cthulhu, Oh My Kenny They Killed God, Did You Just Mop Out Cthulhu