"I'm fireproof. You're not."Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. This trope is about characters "attacking" by exposing themselves and their target to danger which they only expect themselves to survive. This can range from the mundane (e.g., an amphibious character forcing their opponent onto land or drowning them) to the more fantastic (e.g., fireproof characters dragging their opponents into a burning building) and more abstract situations (e.g., stranding themselves in the desert when they have more experience surviving in it). It can also cover weaknesses that the target has which aren't shared by most people; what matters is that one character lacks the weakness and exposes them both to it (or are exposed to it by the immune character's allies). It also counts if the character is only resistant rather than completely immune to whatever they're exposing themselves to (allowing them to claim Victory By Endurance). This is one of the ways to use a Swiss Army Superpower or to give a Technical Pacifist a victory. It can also show off an Adaptive Ability if it's used with something that the character was previously defeated with as well as being one of the many ways to use Geo Effects. If it's used against a protagonist, then expect a struggle to either escape in time or for them to end up stealing whatever was allowing their opponent to pull it off (e.g., stealing a mook's parachute after being pushed out of a plane). A monster with a Removed Achilles Heel will likely use this on a less fortunate member of their own kind to show off their new lack-of-weakness. Supertrope to Drugged Lipstick (unless there's explicitly another reason the user isn't affected by the drug) and Give Chase with Angry Natives (where the hazard is a third party). Compare Friendly Fireproof (for when the hazard in question is your allies' attacks), Good Thing You Can Heal, and Acquired Poison Immunity. Contrast Elemental Ignorance, Suicide Attack (where the attacker is harmed), Briar Patching (when Alice tricks enemy Bob into doing something helpful to her), Immunity Disability (where immunity to something can be "exploited" against said immune person), and Immortal Life Is Cheap. If the attacker's "unharmed" because they've already been harmed, this overlaps with Disability Immunity.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Kakuzu and Hidan from Naruto fight by exploiting Hidan's immunity to dying; Hidan recklessly charges down the enemy while Kakuzu bombards them with his area-wide jutsu. Hidan is immortal, so they have nothing to worry about.
- In Code Geass, C.C. (while fighting in Knightmare Frames) grabs her opponent and tackles them both into the ocean, attempting to crush them both with the water pressure. C.C. is immortal and can regenerate, so she has nothing to worry about.
- Don Krieg in One Piece puts on a gas mask after launching his MH5 gas bomb, trying to poison Luffy with it. Thankfully, Luffy grabbed a Mook's gas mask to save himself.
- In Dragon Ball Z when Frieza realizes that he is completely outmatched against Super Saiyan Goku during the showdown on Namek, he decides to blow up the planet itself because although both of them can survive an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, only he can survive in space.
- Great Lakes Avengers: Mr. Immortal (whose only superpower is coming back to life after dying) talks a supervillain into a Suicide Pact. To show his commitment, Mr. I goes first. The supervillian follows through with his half of the bargain, after which Mr. I comes back to life.
- A favourite tactic of Comic Book/Daredevil is to take out the lights as, being blind, he can fight just fine without them, but it throw his enemies into confusion.
- In Hellboy, the title character's immunity to fire comes up a few times:
- Hellboy defeats a demon by grabbing a live subway rail. He's fine (because he's fireproof), but the demon is less fortunate.
- When Hellboy is fighting swarms of Sammaels, Liz the pyrokinetic releases a fire blast that took all the Sammaels down while leaving Hellboy intact.
- In Sherlock Holmes, Blackwood plans an attack on the Houses of Parliament that involves gassing everyone inside with cyanide, leaving his opponents dead and his supporters alive, allowing them to seize power for him while reinforcing his image of being an Evil Sorcerer who protects those loyal to him with dark magic. He secretly immunises his supporters against cyanide poisoning the night before the attack, by making them drink a toast in his honor.
- Alien Nation. Due to their Bizarre Alien Biology, salt water burns Newcomers like acid. A Newcomer drug lord has his human henchmen pull another Newcomer into the ocean to kill him.
- Mars Attacks!. When the Martians hear recordings of Slim Whitman singing "Indian Love Call" their heads explode. The humans take advantage of this to destroy them.
- In the original V movie V: The Final Battle, the humans use a Red Dust chemical weapon that kills the aliens but doesn't harm humans.
- In Machete Kills, the eponymous character kills a mook by taking him with one hand, and then stabbing an electric box with his machete, making the electrical current go through both of their bodies. There's absolutely no explanation as why Machete got away unscathed while the mook died, besides Rule of Cool, though.
- Constantine has the title character flush out some demons that have infested a hospital by having his apprentice perform a holy water ritual on the hospital's fire safety system, then holding a cigarette lighter below a smoke detector, triggering the sprinklers to rain holy water. The holy water burns the demons while leaving the humans inside unharmed.
- In Death Proof, this is how the serial killer kills his victims. He's an ex-stuntman with a special stunt car, the driver's seat of which is 100% safe no matter what happens to it. He lures women into his car and intentionally gets into terrible accidents. He'll survive, since he's in the "death proof" driver's seat, but his victims don't.
- During the final battle in Iron Man, Tony Stark flies skyward while Obadiah Stane gives chase in the Iron Monger suit. When Stane catches him miles above the surface, where the air is freezing cold...
- In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, witches melt in water, and wizards melt in soapy water (with some lemon). At one point a wizard uses the witch Morwen as a shield, so the stone prince gets both of them with the cleaning solution, correctly deducing that "no one who lives in a house as clean as [Morwen's] could possibly melt in a bucket of soapsuds".
- In The Zombie Knight, the servant Desmond can make parts of his body, or even the whole thing, explode violently. He always makes sure his reaper is clear of the blast zone, and if she's okay she can recreate him, but if he manages to catch his enemy's reaper or a non-servant opponent in the blast...
- This trope appeared in a few of Larry Niven's stories:
- In one Draco Tavern story, the bartender is infected with a Puppeteer Parasite sentient virus. It warns his friends that there's no way to get rid of it without killing the bartender too, but the friends point out that they can just treat him with antiviral sulfa drugs.
- In "The Lion In His Attic", a sorceress infiltrates a partially submerged castle by using magic to make the water withdraw. A man breaks her concentration and causes her spell to lapse, resulting in the water flooding back in and drowning her. The man doesn't care because he's a were-sea lion - he just changes to sea lion form and swims back to the surface.
- In The Princess Bride (and the film), Vizzini and the Man in Black are playing Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo; the Man in Black puts poison in both glasses, having spent years developing a tolerance to the poison being used.
- In The Wheel of Time, the night Mat first discovers he's Born Lucky, he's attacked by a gang of assassins, and in a reckless move hurls himself off a bridge along with one of them, trusting his luck to save him. The assassin breaks his fall and he waltzes off unharmed.
- In Second Foundation, a "mental static" device is used to hunt second foundationers. It has no effect on people without psychic powers.
- In the SERRAted Edge series, it's common to use a bag of iron filings as an area-effect anti-sidhe weapon that won't hurt human hostages.
- In The Salvation War, a common tactic when tanks are swarmed by demons is for the tank's fellows to hose it down with machine-gun fire, killing the demons but having little effect against the tank's thick armor.
Live Action Television
- The Lexx episode "Battle" features an accidental example; Prince shows up to taunt Xev as she's dying in the desert, however he dies of dehydration almost immediately (since she's a Half-Human Hybrid with DNA from a desert dwelling creature and he isn't).
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the episode For The Uniform, Eddington bombs Cardassian colonies with chemicals that are harmful to them, but not humans. In response, Sisko bombs Maquis colonies in kind, to force Eddington to surrender.
- One Tracker episode had an assassin who exposed himself to a deadly virus which could kill by touch but didn't harm him as long as he killed often enough. Except in human form, where it turned into a Mate or Die thing.
- One villain used a dark room to blind his opponents while he was wearing night vision goggles. Duncan thwarted this by using a lit match to blind the guy long enough to take him out.
- Recurring villain Xavier St. Cloud used a variant of this. Early in the 20th century, Xavier, a longtime immortal, developed a fondness for the use of toxic gas in his robberies, and in one scene from the series' present day, he simply walks into a large jewelry shop, drops a vial of the stuff, lets everyone there including him succumb to the poison, then calmly gets back up a minute later when his Healing Factor brings him back to life. At which point he grabs all the loot and leaves.
- Doctor Who:
- In the story "Doomsday", the Doctor vanquishes the Daleks and Cybermen by opening the Void and exposing the planet to "background radiation", which is found in the void and is self-attractive. The Daleks and Cyberman, who have been living in the void for years, are already soaked in the stuff so they are sucked back in, while humans remain unharmed.
- In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" the Daleks are defeated by detonating an underground pocket of trapped magnetic fields. The resulting surge of magnetism crushes the metal Daleks, while their human slaves are unaffected.
- The X-Files episode "Nothing Important Happened Today" part 1. A female Super Soldier who can't be killed lures a man into driving her home, forces his car to drive off a bridge and holds him underwater until he drowns.
- Series/Daredevil: before going in to save Claire from a room full of Russian mobsters, Matt takes out the lights in the room as he's blind and doesn't need them anyway. This serves to a) handicap the mooks who now can't see as well to fight, b) scare the mooks who now have to fight a man dressed in black coming at them out of the dark, and c) inform Claire that he's there as she knows about his blindness.
- Dungeons & Dragons has several:
- Intelligent, spell using undead (such as liches) can use spells that produce persistent effects over a large area (such as Cloudkill, Sleep, Stinking Cloud, etc) without worrying about being caught in the area of effect, as undead are immune to these effects.
- Elven forces with mages can use Sleep spells with impunity, as they are mostly immune to them.
- Any PC that is or acquires an immunity to a type of attack can be expected to exploit this. For example, a mage under a Minor Globe of Invulnerability spell (which blocks 3rd level and lower spells) can use a staff which casts third level area effect spells at point blank range.
- An early edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle had the spell "Wind of Death", which hit every living thing on the table and (statistically speaking) could kill an average human unit 50% of the time. A player who had tougher troops (or better yet; undead troops, who would be immune) could easily find themselves better off than their opponent after using it.
- In 2nd edition Warhammer 40K, the Avatar of Khaine is completely immune to flame and melta-weapons. The Eldar Fire Dragons carried melta-weapons that were devastating against any vehicle or infantry unit. So some players would deliberately charge in the Avatar at some huge monstrosity like a Hive Tyrant or Carnifex and have a nearby Fire Dragon squad open fire on BOTH combatants. The Avatar comes out unscathed while the enemy is reduced to a smouldering crisp.
- Bravely Default has a number of attacks that hit the whole field. There's generally ways to avoid it, but it's usually easiest to set up elemental protection on your party and just spam the attack.
- Some of the upgrades in Deus Ex: Human Revolution allow Jenson to do this (for example, being immune to poison gas allows you to simply set off traps with it and let mooks suffocate).
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Being the first game in the series where the player can swim, CJ can evade pursuit by jumping into water. The pursuers will jump in after him, but they have Super Drowning Skills.
- Finishing the firetruck missions makes you completely immune to fire. So, you can stand in the middle of a burning firestorm and watch your enemies incinerate themselves.
- In the Pokémon series from Generation 3 onwards, the weather effects Sandstorm and Hail will cause all Pokemon on the field to take gradual damage for a period of time. This damage is negated if the Pokemon is an Ice type (for Hail) or a Ground, Rock, or Steel type (for Sandstorm), with Rock types actually having their Special Defense stat increased by 50% during a Sandstorm.
- There are some attacks what will deal damage to every one in the battlefield in Double or Triple Battles. Some Pokémon can either prevent damage dealt from them, like Flying-type Pokémon being immune to Earthquake, or benefit from them, like a Pokémon with the Dry Skin or Water Absorb abilities being healed by Surf.
- The Armageddon spell in the Heroes of Might and Magic series is one of the most damaging spells available, but inflicts heavy damage on ally and enemy alike. There are a few ways to negate this; some monsters (such as the fire-immune ifreet and the magic-immune black dragons) will be unharmed by the spell, and the Armageddon's Blade renders your entire army immune as one of the perks of wielding it.
- In Borderlands 2, one of Krieg's skills allows him to become an Action Bomb if his HP is depleted. If he manages to kill an enemy in the explosion, he'll come back to life thanks to the second wind mechanic.
- One highly effective late-game tactic in Summoner is to load everyone with frost-resistance items, and then have Rosalind cast Blizzard into every melee.
- The games in the Final Fantasy series have a few examples:
- In Final Fantasy VI, there are many different enemies that will attack the entire battlefield, including themselves, with powerful attacks. However, as they are either immune to the elements of those attacks or actually gain health from them, the disadvantages of these attacks are lost. This can also be done with playable characters, by equipping them with elemental immune items.
- In Final Fantasy IX: Vivi's most powerful spell is Doomsday, which inflicts shadow damage on all allies and enemies on the field. Equipping your characters with gear that absorbs shadow will cause them to be healed by the spell instead. The Bonus Boss Ozma also tries this, but it's possible to invert it: it has Doomsday in its arsenal and normally absorbs shadow damage, but one sidequest rewards you by making it weak to shadow instead, so if it does use the spell, it'll harm itself.
- Some Worms games have Armageddon; an indiscriminate meteor storm that targets the whole map. It can be used to invoke this trope if you've prepared a lot of girders and/or dug your team deeply into the ground.
- Voodoo Vince pretty much uses this trope as a central game mechanic. You play as a voodoo doll, and your strongest attacks are 'voodoo' attacks that get charged up and unleashed, and are randomly chosen from the ones you've learned. They can range from getting halved by a bear trap to getting crushed by a satellite, but they all involve 'killing' Vince in order to insta-kill nearby enemies—Vince can do it all day, but the monsters he's killing would say otherwise.
- A core tenet of many Platforming Games is that the player takes Collision Damage, the opponents do not. Therefore, there are many types of enemies whose only way to damage the player is simply by walking into them. The plyaer gets hurt, the enemy does not.
- In FTL: Faster Than Light, the Rockmen aliens are immune to fire. Therefore, a valid tactic for defeating enemy ships is to use a firebomb to light the ship's interior on fire, then send in your Rockmen crew to board the ship and interfere with the enemy crew's attempt to put the fires out. Similarly, you can use similar tactics with the Lanius aliens and their immunity to suffocation.
- Argonians from The Elder Scrolls series are a race of Lizard Folk with Super Not-Drowning Skills. They also have a reputation for being skilled at guerrilla war, constructing underwater camps (which are naturally hard for non-Argonians to assault) and one of their favorite tactics being to grapple their victims, drag them underwater, and keep them there until they drown (a feat which, sadly, is difficult to replicate in-game due to the lack of grappling mechanics).
- The Order of the Stick:
- Xykon has no problem using his area-of-effect Meteor Swarm spell at point-blank range because he has a magic item that makes him immune to fire damage.
- During a fight between Vaarsuvius and a Black Dragon, the dragon deploys an Anti-Magic field which robs them both of their spellcasting. Vaarsuvius, being a Squishy Wizard, becomes completely useless within the field, while the dragon retains all of her brute strength.
- A minor example occurs in "Rock the Boat", when Elan jumps on Kubota's rowboat. When Kubota complains that he's going to sink the boat and drown both of them, Elan reminds him that he isn't wearing any weighty armor (unlike Kubota, who's wearing a breastplate), so he has a better chance of swimming to safety.
- In Another Gaming Comic, this is Nuclear Dan's tactic of choice. He builds characters that are either immune or highly resistant to fire, and then drops fireballs centred on himself. It gets to the point where he actually forgets that fireball is a long range spell, and he doesn't have to catch himself in the area of effect if, for some reason, he is not immune.
- In Schlock Mercenary, while fighting Gray Goo during the Oisri mission, the Toughs's armor allowed them to survive tactics like flaming down rooms to fry airborne nanite clouds and killing infested Super Soldiers by opening hull breaches.
Chisulo: Check with the enemy and see if they'd like to join us outside for a breath of fresh nothing.
- In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Valmont attempts to exorcise himself of the demon Shendu, by handling the Pan'Ku Box, an object forged using Good Magic, which Shendu can't touch. It hurts both of them, but Shendu suffers more and is rendered unconscious.
- In an episode of the 1990s Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Tombstone, who doesn't need to breathe, catches the hero in a chokehold inside a room that's filling up with toxic gas.
- In The Mask animated series, one villain, Kablamus, was originally a children's entertainer attempting to develop a formula to keep balloons from popping. After the inevitable laboratory accident, he became a supervillain with the ability to explode his own body and then regenerate.
- Some species of ants can attack their enemies with formic acid. Birds will sometimes deliberately enrage colonies of these ants, since the acid only hurts them a little but kills off fleas and other parasites.
- Alcohols are toxic. However, some sorts (most notably ethanol, which can easily be produced with fermentation) can be safely processed by the body in limited amounts while being very lethal to moulds, bacteria and other assorted nasties.
- Narrow-spectrum pesticides and herbicide-resistant crops invoke this trope, killing off pests without affecting valuable or harmless organisms in the same field.
- This is how most of medicine works. Flood your system with something that binds to 50S Ribosomal Subunit? Or the PBPs in the cell membrane? Those sound like some potent poisons. Except to life forms which use different ribosomes and membranes and therefore the poisons have nothing to target (e.g. humans).