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- Pretty much the entire theme of Soul Eater (particularly the anime version). Indeed the Big Bad's main failing was cowardice.
- One Nurse Joy was so afraid of Water types that she wouldn't go near or touch one. Despite saving one's life in a crisis later she admits that she's still afraid of them, but won't let it get in the way anymore.
- Chimchar had to face its fear of Zangoose to save its new teammates in "Tears for Fears!", the episode after it switched Trainers from Paul to Ash.
- Gligar had to face its Acrophobia and fear of battling others so that it could evolve in "Fighting Fear with Fear!", five episodes after its loss against Paul's Gliscor.
- Pokémon Adventures:
- During the tournament that caps off the RGB saga, Professor Oak fights Blue using bird Pokémon (he knows that Blue has a phobia of birds). Later, in the GSC saga, Karen and Will taunt Blue with the legendary Pokémon Ho-oh and Lugia, the former of which was what caused her fear in the first place. What the villains didn't know was that Blue has long since conquered her fear, capturing three particular bird Pokémon: Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.
- In the Emerald saga, one battle at the tournament set in the Battle Dome pits Sapphire against Tucker. It was a complete Curb-Stomp Battle because Sapphire is terrified of Tucker's Salamence, stemming from a trauma she experienced when she was younger.
- This is the whole point of the Trial of Heart in an early ElfQuest story: Savah probes Cutter and Rayek's minds to discover their deepest fears, and then devises challenges based on those fears. Whoever succeeds will win Leetah's hand.
- Green Lantern:
- This is basically a major theme of it and its adaptations (especially the Live-Action Adaptation). Basically, there's a warning to the worshipers of Evil's might: when a Green Lantern learns to do that, beware his power!
- The Sinestro Corps work using the opposite. Just like Green Lanterns must face their worst fears, so they can overcome them and use the full potential of their rings, the Sinestros must embrace them. Usually, they fight using their own fears as well as the ones of their victims.
- In Batman comics, one wiff of The Scarecrow's Fear gas and you can expect anyone with enough will power (namely, Batman himself) to have to do this. It's been a theme whenever the two face off in the comics, the animated series, and Video games.
- The mane 5 are all confronted by their nightmares yet again in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) #6, but are all able to face them with help from each other, as well as Princess Luna and Spike.
- Berserk Button: Even one tomato can't keep Pinkie Pie down. It just causes her to rip into the nightmare audience and end her nightmare in a flash.
- During the Joker's Last Laugh event, Superman ends up confronting a resurrected Doomsday, fresh from being burnt to a skeleton during Our Worlds at War. Up until that point, Superman has always been afraid of Doomsday because he knows Doomsday can kill him. However, once he finds out that he's gained intelligence and that his fights are now more about feared survival, Superman finally puts that aside and trashes him.
- Asuka finally confronts her pediophobia in chapter 8 of The Second Try after she ends up scaring her daughter when she has a panic attack.
"It's about time that I bury my demons. Especially if they're starting to hurt my daughter as well..."
- Early on in With Strings Attached, when the four realize that someone was watching them attempt to play music on the beach, they have to decide whether to follow that someone when it runs off. George is the first to go, nervously citing, “Look fear in the face and it won't bother you any more.” This is something he said in Real Life.
- The Somewhat Cracked Mind Of Uchiha Itachi: Having to endure years of assassination attempts and emotional and verbal abuse means Gaara fears as much as he hates his father, the Fourth Kazekage — which is a lot to say the least. After siding with Konoha during the Invasion, he has a brief Freak Out! when he has to defend a hospital alongside his friends against the man. When they manage to drive him off, he's so happy he goes as far as to hug the ANBU who fought with him during the battle.
- Zombieland: Columbus fears a whole bunch of things, but the big fear is clowns. So naturally he has to face a zombie clown in order to save the girl he is interested in.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Indiana Jones finds the Well of Souls, he discovers that it's full of snakes, which is a problem because he has a severe phobia of snakes. He decides to go in anyway because it's the only way he can get The Ark of the Covenant.
- Harry Potter averts this: Ron has a fear of spiders, which he doesn't lose even after being tied up by giant spiders and nearly eaten. If anything, that probably enhances it.
- Played straight however in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Ron gets the honour of destroying the locket horcrux while Voldemort's soul taunts him and tries to break him with his biggest insecurities taking form and shape, that his mother didn't love him and that Hermione preferred Harry over him.
- This is a major theme in Batman Begins, where Henri Ducard tells Bruce Wayne to breathe in his fears, to become fear so as to conquer it, makes him open a case of bats during training, etc... but after Bruce leaves the League of Shadows he decides to walk into a cave where he surrounds himself with bats, and he learns to not let fear get in his way... hence his later courage in confronting crime.
- Kevin has to face his fear of his basement furnace in the first Home Alone movie. He manages to overcome this fear, and incorporates the basement into his battle with Harry and Marv at the end of the movie.
- In Mortal Kombat, Raiden talks to Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage and Liu Kang about confronting their fears: Sonya's fear of admitting the need for help, Johnny's fear of being a fake, and Liu Kang's fear of his own destiny. The latter is important to the plot, though, as Shang Tsung tries to exploit it near the end, with no results.
Raiden: Goro can be killed. Shang Tsung's power can be destroyed by mortal men and women. You can overcome any adversary, no matter how bizarre their powers may seem. Only one thing can defeat you: your own fear.Johnny Cage: So who says we're afraid?
- Jason Voorhees ends up facing his fear of water in Freddy vs. Jason, and Freddy has to face his fear of fire... sort of. It should be noted that Jason in previous Friday the 13th films did not exhibit such a thing.
- Freddy, of course, customizes his victims' dreams to exploit their individual fears and hang-ups, starting with his third film. Usually subverted, as even those who initially overcome their personal anxieties tend to get killed anyway.
- This is a pervading theme in Boogeyman 2, since the movie is about phobias. The doctor played by Tobin Bell who has this philosohpy takes this to the extreme when he locks a patient afraid of the Boogeyman in a closet.
- In Take Shelter, Curtis' wife is pushing him to overcome his fear and open the door to the storm shelter which he finally does.
- Marianne from Strange Magic develops a fear of the Dark Forest after being attacked by goblins there, so much so that she receives traumatic flashbacks when she goes near it. After her sister is kidnapped by the King of the goblins, she's forced to enter it to save her.
- In Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe, this is the purpose of the Chamber of the Ordeal. Prospective knights (and monarchs) are required to enter it for a night, and it will test them to their limits. A heroic character will emerge stronger, having confronted and conquered his or her greatest fear. An unworthy character will be utterly broken by the experience, which may include actually dying.
- In Protector of the Small, Kel has a Face Your Fears moment four years before going through the Ordeal when she's forced to climb down Balor's Needle with her more terrified maid at the end of Page. In the next two books, it's mentioned that this broke her fear of heights (although she still dislikes them).
- The Litany against fear expresses this trope perfectly:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
- There is the nerve-induction box, better known as the Gom Jabbar test. A student must place his hand in the box, which makes flesh feel like it's on fire. If he removes the hand, he'll be killed by the Gom Jabbar, a poisoned needle. The purpose of the test is to prove that the student is truly "human", in that their reason is more powerful than their instincts. The test is more about pain and instinct than fear, but fear plays into it somewhat.
- The Litany against fear expresses this trope perfectly:
- In The Wheel of Time, the test to become Accepted involves going through three archways which produce scenes that reflect the girl in question's fears.
- In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane is afraid of cows until one day, as she is going about their pasture rather than face them, she realizes that she is wrong to scorn her mother for being afraid to face down her own mother when she's afraid of cows. So she faces them and is so cured that later, when her cousin is afraid of cows, Jane doesn't even remember it.
- In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, Freckles's nerves are much restored when he lives to collect his first paycheck, and then when he first kills a rattlesnake.
"After a few weeks, when Freckles learned that he was still living, that he had a home, and the very first money he ever had possessed was safe in his pockets, he began to grow proud. He yet side-stepped, dodged, and hurried to avoid being late again, but he was gradually developing the fearlessness that men ever acquire of dangers to which they are hourly accustomed. His heart seemed to be leaping when his first rattler disputed the trail with him, but he mustered courage to attack it with his club. After its head had been crushed, he mastered an Irishman's inborn repugnance for snakes sufficiently to cut off its rattles to show Duncan. With this victory, his greatest fear of them was gone."
- Invoked in Galaxy of Fear when the characters go to a theme park and find the Nightmare Machine, a new attraction in which people are scanned and presented with excruciatingly realistic simulations of their worst fears, and 'win' by making it through to their last fear. They're a little appalled at the idea that anyone would try this attraction out and are told that basically it's just another continuation of theme park attractions in general - people like being scared in a safe setting. Of course, the two mains end up trapped in a dire simulation, the bailout phrase doesn't work, and they have to Win to Exit - and as soon as they realize this is the case, they stop running. The greatest fear of both siblings is losing the other one. It works.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane is terrified of fire, but he manages to win when Berric Dondarrion fights him with a Flaming Sword.
- In BIONICLE Legends #5: Inferno, Irnakk, an evil bogeyman-like figure from the folktales of the Piraka's species, is brought to life in the Zone of Nightmares and defeats five of the Piraka by subjecting them to their worst fears. Zaktan, however, stood up to him after realizing that this Irnakk was only an illusion (albeit with real powers) and threatened to kill himself and his team, proclaiming that his horrible life had made him lose his fear of even death. Since Irnakk, being born out of their collective fears, could only exist as long as the Piraka lived, suddenly began fearing death and disappeared, allowing the Piraka to progress.
- In Last Sacrifice, one of the trials Lissa faces as a candidate for the throne, forces her to face her worst fear in realistic visions.
- In Firefight, it turns out David is terrified of open water; he was completely unaware of this before he he went to Babylon Restored, aka Manhattan. In the climax, he has to shoot out an underwater window to escape in the desperate hope that he'll be able to swim to the surface. It doesn't work (the glass was built to survive a bomb), but the intent is enough to give him immunity to Calamity's influence. Megan braves fire (her weakness) to save David, and is reborn completely sane.
- Subverted in Divergent. Four has exactly 4 fears, but doesn't overcome any of them and instead just makes sure they don't dominate him.
- In Malediction Trilogy troll prince Tristan promises to meet half-blood leader Tips in any place of his choosing. Tips chooses the mines - and this is the only place in the whole city of Trollus that the prince is absolutely afraid of. Still, he desperately needs to convince Tips, so he goes down and while he is still afraid, at least he does not run out screaming.
- Harry Potter: In the backstory, Albus Dumbledore's greatest fear was his former friend, the previous Dark Lord before Voldemort, and his first and only love, Gellert Grindelwald. Though, it wasn't his magical abilities and combat prowess he feared — Dumbledore and Grindelwald were equals, more-or-less. No, what he feared was, as he puts it, "the truth". The end of their brief friendship during their youth came when Grindelwald and Aberforth, Dumbledore's younger brother, got into a fight and Albus intervened, with the ensuing melee resulting in the death of Ariana, Albus and Aberforth's younger sister. It was unknown who cast the curse that snuffed out her life, and neither Dumbledore nor Aberforth wanted to know, for fear it was one of them. Dumbledore specifically avoided Grindelwald even as the man grew in power specifically because he feared that Grindelwald knew the truth and would tell him — but after the man grew so powerful that no one else but him could hope to stop him, Dumbledore faced his fear for the sake of both muggles and magical folk alike, dueling and defeating Grindelwald.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Xander punch an evil knife-wielding clown right in its evil knife-wielding clown face during the season 1 episode "Nightmares". In fact all the characters had to face their fears - even the Big Bad, who laid his hand on a cross to make a point - but he was the only one who literally knocked his out.
- Joey advocated facing your fears:
"The way I see it, you face your fears same as anything else, you've got a fear of heights, you go to the top of the building. You've got a fear of bugs... get a bug. In your case you've got a fear of commitment so you go in there and be the most committed guy there was."
- In later season episode, it's revealed that Rachel suffers from a swing phobia and is afraid of letting her daughter Emma swing. Ross thinks it's ridiculous, but Rachel reminds him of his irrational fear of spiders. They both try to face their fear for Emma's sake at the end of the episode, but they are both extremely uneasy.
- Joey advocated facing your fears:
- Game of Thrones: The pyrophobic Sandor Clegane when he fights against Beric Dondarrion's Flaming Sword in "Kissed By Fire."
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The only way to escape a Dominion internment camp is for Garak to rewire an old computer system hidden inside a narrow gap inside the walls. Eventually, he experiences a full catatonic breakdown because he suffers from acute claustrophobia (which he'd been trying to keep secret). As the other debate a new plan, Martok contemplates getting a poem written about about Worf's fighting prowess and Bashir's medical skill. Garak suddenly reveals his presence by quipping that a verse about the Cardassian who panicked in the face of danger would ruin Martok's song before promptly returning to the computer system to finish the job he started. For this, he earns the respect of the Klingons who believe facing one's personal fears is the greatest enemy anyone can ever fight.
- Happens a couple of times in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, with Zack's fear of spiders, Trini's fear of heights, and Billy's fear of fish. The "Island of Illusion" two-parter was largely built around this.
- An episode of Boy Meets World had Rachel forced to confront her fear of garbage disposals (caused by the childhood trauma of putting her beloved stuffed bunny down the "rabbit hole" in the sink and then flipping the wrong switch when she tried to turn the light on so he could see the carrots inside) when Eric made climbing over one the only way out of the homage to The Truman Show he had trapped her and Jack in. Rachel succeeded, both "for Bunny Baby," and so she could get to Eric and beat him up.
- Hornblower: It's established that sailor Hornblower is afraid of heights. In the last episode of series 1 "The Frogs and the Lobsters", he climbs atop of the mast for no particular reason other than enjoy the sail, and he smiles and looks fairly happy. In series 2 episode "Retribution", he volunteers himself to descend from a high cliff. However, when his friend mischievously reminds him of his former anxiety, he says that nothing has changed and that he's still frightened.
- Boston Legal - Brad urges Alan to do this during a case involving a professional clown. Alan, who's spent most of the case terrified of wetting himself, manages to deliver his closing, shake the clown's hand and tweak his fake nose.
Brad: At some point, every man, even the half-evolved kind, needs to confront his fears. You need to stand up and deliver this closing.
Alan: Will the clown be there?
- Parodied in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song "Face Your Fears", in which Paula urges Rebecca to do this but in terms of incredibly bad advice, like "Run with scissors!" and "Swim right after eating!"
- Space: Above and Beyond forces its main characters to do this when they are exposed to an alien weapon affecting the amygdala, the brain's fear center.
- An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation reveals this to be part of the Starfleet Academy entrance exam, forcing prospective cadets to face their greatest fears. When Wesley Crusher takes the test, he is confronted by a (staged) accident and must choose which of two victims to rescue, his greatest fear being that he would be paralyzed by indecision.
- An episode of The Orville deals with Alara's previously-unknown fear of fire (due to a traumatic event when she was too young to remember). While she deals with that, strange things start happening on the ship, with common fears (e.g. heights, isolation, alligators, spiders, clowns) manifesting aboard. It turns out the whole thing is a holo-simulation, created by Isaac at Alara's request, who then had Dr. Finn wipe her short-term memory, so that she doesn't know it isn't real. The final test for her is to fly through a wall of fire, as the ship is being destroyed by a Negative Space Wedgie.
- According to "The Far Side", a professor Gallagher has developed an apparently controversial technique of simultaneously confronting acrophobia, ophidiophobia and achluophobia by locking the sufferer in a small box filled with snakes and darkness, and then suspend said box from a great height.
- Rikku has a major Fear of Thunder in Final Fantasy X. We're told in Final Fantasy X2 that she camped out for a week in the Thunder Plains and got over it, sure enough in X-2 she's walking around the Thunder Plains merrily.
- Not necessarily fears, but most of Persona 4 has to do with the main characters facing the manifestations of their insecurities. Although this is after they've rejected them, and then the rest of the party has to beat the crap out of the shadow to keep it from killing the original.
- Devil May Cry 3 invokes this trope, among others, with the Shadow boss battle. The Shadow, as is often the case in classic heroic tales (and Jungian Psychology) is meant to invoke Dante's doubts and fears (giving the boss fight distinct shades of Battle in the Center of the Mind), but when confronted by it, Dante simply responds with:
Dante: I know why you're here. You're here to ask me some questions, aren't you? Well too bad. I already answered them myself. I don't need you anymore.*The Shadow draws its sword.*Dante: Tch. Get lost. You poser.
- Red from Solatorobo has to face the idea of losing control and killing everyone he loves during a Virtual Training Simulation Journey to the Center of the Mind. As a warm-up, he faced Elh's greatest fear, which is bugs.
- Haunting Ground: Fiona is forced into a position where she has to face her pursuer and fight at the end of every chapter. Arguably, the best time she is seen doing this is the A Ending, where she realises Debilitas is behind her, turns, looks him square in the eye and leaves without a word.
- The entire plotline of Nightmare Ned. The story of the videogame reminds one of a Stephen King story and while there is a TV series this belongs in the videogame section as only here does Ned get the chance to genuinely overcome his anxieties and become a happier person with his newfound confidence.
- The plot of Evil Dead: Hail to the King is kicked off by the main character Ash, with his girlfriend Jenny, returning to the cabin which is the source of his fears and nightmares, in order to get rid of them. Unfortunately, his evil possessed hand is still present there, and it lets loose the deadites which forces him to fight them once more.
- Sonic from Sonic Boom is terrified of water, and as a result never learned how to swim. In the episode "I Can Sea Sonic's Fear From Here", Eggman exploits this fear by building a destructive robot under water, forcing Sonic into the ocean to stop him. And while Sonic does beat Eggman, his near-death experience caused by Eggman cutting his air hose causes his fear of water to get even worse. The episode ends with him declaring he never wants to see water again.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In order to claim possession of Horror's Hand (which makes people see their worst fears come to life). Billy, Mandy, Irwin and Grim must face their fears to overcome it. Billy is afraid of Spiders, Clowns, and the mailman, so he has to encounter a Spider-Clown-Mailman. Irwin is afraid of bears and stand-up comedy. Cue him doing stand-up comedy in front of a pack of bears, then promptly getting mauled by them. Mandy must overcome her fears of the possibility of growing up to become a nice person and marrying Irwin. Once she gets away from that, she also gets mauled by the bears. Grim's biggest fear, not just playing second-fiddle to another power but being used as a slave and tormented by those two brats forever, was realized throughout the series via his "friendship" to Billy and Mandy, so the Hand was ineffectual against him.
- Scooby-Doo has some moments when the titular character would realize he was the only thing standing between his friends and the villain, and promptly curbstomps them in an incredible display of courage. One example is the second live-action movie, Monsters Unleashed, where, backed into a corner he pretty much saves the day.
- Recess: When TJ develops a fear of "The Box" (which is basically solitary confinement), Gretchen suggests framing TJ for a crime so he'll have to face his fear. However, she does lampshade the fact that this would either force him to face his fear or just make things worse.
- Parodied in Chowder. In the episode The Meach Harvest, Mung Daal refuses to harvest the queen meach due to his fear of the meaches guarding her whilst Chowder keeps trying to encourage him to face his fears. This would be considered playing the trope straight, except for the fact that meaches are vicious bloodthirsty living fruits with More Teeth than the Osmond Family that maul anything that gets within 100 yards of them en masse. He has good reason to be afraid of them. Lampshaded at the end of the episode.
Mung: Thank you Chowder for giving me the courage to foolishly face my entirely rational fear!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Pinkie Pie's "Giggle at the Ghostly" song:
When I was a little filly and the sun was going down,
the darkness, and the shadows, they would always make me frown.
I'd hide under my pillow from what I thought I saw,
but Granny Pie said that wasn't the way to deal with fears at all!
She said, Pinkie you gotta stand up tall, learn to face your fears,
you'll see that they can't hurt you, just laugh to make them disappear!
- Scootaloo is taught this by Princess Luna in "Sleepless in Ponyville" when Rainbow Dash's scary stories give her nightmares.
- Although that episode played with the trope a bit, as initially it doesn't work. Why? Because Scootaloo actually had a bigger fear than the monsters in Rainbow Dash's stories: the fear that telling Rainbow Dash about the "monster fears" would cause Rainbow Dash to reject her. The nightmares don't stop by confronting the monsters, they stop when Scootaloo finally tells Rainbow Dash that there's a problem in the first place.
- Pinkie Pie's "Giggle at the Ghostly" song:
- The Legend of Korra: Korra is terrified of Amon and spends an entire episode in fear of potentially facing him. Once she starts to gain her confidence back, she decides to face him. Unlike most instances of this trope, this actually makes it WORSE! Amon and his Equalists easily subdue her and Amon proceeds to psychologically rip her to pieces leading to a Heroic B.S.O.D. right afterwards.
- Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable has to confront his fear of monkeys when he faces off against Monkey Fist alone, by absorbing the Mystic Monkey Power that Monkey Fist coveted for himself. Ron's fear of monkeys is still present in later episodes, but lessened over time; in "A Sitch In Time", when ten-year-old Ron panics at the sight of a giant stone monkey, teenage Ron brushes it off while saying, "Dude, personal space."
- Spongebob Squarepants: In "I had an Accident", Spongebob becomes terrified of going outside after his accident. Patrick an Sandy resort to faking a gorilla attack to convince Spongebob to come out and rescue them. Then a real gorilla (played by a live actor in a gorilla costume) shows up and starts beating the tar out of them. Spongebob then musters up the courage to go outside again. After a few seconds outside Spongebob wonders why he was ever worried in the first place, forgetting about the rampaging gorilla until it grabs him and tears him in half. He apologizes to Sandy and Patrick for the trouble he caused, and assures them that he's not afraid of going outside anymore. Though he's terrified of gorillas now.
- A lot of the early Rugrats episodes had Chuckie being the recipient of this trope, a few notable ones dealing with slides, getting a haircut and exploring his father's greenhouse (kid had problems).
- One of the most defining examples is Courage the Cowardly Dog whose entire role revolves around overcoming his cowardice in every episode in order to fight some truly horrifying villains and save his family. He shows that real courage come from the inner fighting of the fears first.
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: The segment Moondreamers had a memorable episode about a young boy who was afraid of horses and had to deal with a star-horse that transformed into a gruesome dragon-monster, in order to save his new friends. In short it was his darkest night-mare in flesh. He overcame his fear by seeing that the monster was as afraid as he was of the terrifying plane they were stranded in and managed to bond with it and become friends.
- Sometimes this approach is Truth in Television, using anxiety exposure for the goal of response reduction. Although normally, it is done carefully by psychologists as therapy in very slow steps like drawing schematically the object of your fears and facing it in small dosages and gradually.
- What ISN'T Truth In Television is when well-meaning friends attempt to force another friend to "get over their fear" by throwing them smack dab in the middle of the thing that scares them. This usually does not work and can make the problem worse due to the person now having anxiety attacks or may trigger a condition they already have, such as asthma, and makes them fear the thing that scares them even more.
- Some methods of taming animals involve acclimating the animal to the condition that frightens it, by repeatedly and gradually exposing it to the frightening thing. If successful, this can lead to the animal ignoring the former source of fear; done wrong, it can cause unnecessary stress or panic, so it's seldom the first choice if other options are available to soothe its frightened state.