So the big Fight Scene
is kicking off. Bob vs Charlie. Maybe Bob is a powerful Mentor
sparring with his pupil (and everyone wants to see some of his true power
), or maybe it’s an actual battle between rivals
, or even a Mook Horror Show
, although you’ll rarely find this trope against Big Bads
or other very serious opponents.
Then Bob threatens or just randomly uses
this “special” attack. It often has an ominous name, and sometimes Alice
or Charlie says “Oh Crap
” or gives a Big "NO!"
Maybe Bob's been training to use the new attack (mostly offscreen, or in a Training Montage
), and everybody's terrified of the predicted results of his supposed Training from Hell
. Or maybe Bob has just called
but fearfully named attack out of the blue
while posing dramatically.
When this "horrific" attack is actually used… it’s far less than impressive. Maybe Bob's alleged Finger Poke of Doom
is just an inert poke to scare Charlie and rub Bob's victory in
. Maybe Bob's "ultimate" transformation
is just a bikini-clad girl
whose only power is the Most Common Superpower
. Maybe Bob's BFG
shoots Red Boxing Gloves
or is an oversized water gun. Maybe his supposed Death Ray
is just The Nudifier
. Maybe part or all of the attack is an illusion. Maybe all
his power is in his huge Battle Aura
and he's bluffing. Maybe the lightshow is just a distraction from something else, like a Villain Exit Stage Left
. Maybe... no, I'm done.
In any case, the attack has a humorous non-effect. When used (more) seriously, it’s often used as If I Wanted You Dead
to showcase Bob's ability to overwhelm Charlie (and avoid showing Bob's legendary true power
, while implying there's far more where that came from). Another more serious version is the humorous attack is to get the enemy to waste energy preparing to block it, let their guard down, or otherwise leave them vulnerable long enough for a real
attack to be used.
It’s not The Worf Barrage
; that’s when Bob uses an attack that is meant to, and does
, do something big… which Charlie then laughs off
or otherwise frustrates
. A Fake Special Attack threatens
to do something big… then does something silly and (mostly) harmless (Amusing Injuries
being a common effect).
A quick litmus test is to think about the average Muggle
. If the attack would totally overwhelm the Muggle
and is played seriously, it’s likely the Worf Barrage
. If the average in-universe Muggle
could survive it and it’s Played for Laughs
, you’ve got this.
Compare/contrast Care Bear Stare
, where an attack looks like this but isn’t. Joke Item
and Joke Character
are this in videogames
, only with a character or item instead of an ability. Clipped Wing Angel
is this with transformation, but not always humorous. If the whole of your fighting skill is like this, then What the Fu Are You Doing?
. Heart Is An Awesome Power
is when a power - that would become this if used to attack directly - is put to creative and effective indirect use. Can be Subverted
with You Are Already Dead
, where the attack seems to do nothing, but its serious effects are about to be felt.
Because many of these attacks are played up as serious until The Reveal
, expect minor spoilers.
Anime & Manga
- The Thousand Years of Death, from Naruto, looks like you're about to use a powerful Jutsu, but is really just an Ass Shove.
- Naruto’s Sexy Jutsu is similar. In this case, it is an actual Jutsu... but all it does is transform the user into a Shameless Fanservice Girl.
- Subverted: Naruto plans to use a powerful attack to defeat Kiba, but ends up farting in his face (which is made to look like the big "attack" Naruto was planning). The fart actually causes Kiba difficulty because of his heightened sense of smell... which then allows Naruto to use his true plan, the Uzamaki Barrage (an effective combo Doppelgänger Attack).
- Subverted again with later abuse of the Thousand Years Of Death; Naruto uses the attack in an until-that-point deadly serious fight. Beat... and then it's revealed he used not his fingers, but an explosive-loaded knife. Ouch.
- Most of Genma’s Anything-Goes Techniques, as well many other Ranma ½ moves.
- The Bakusai Tenketsu (Breaking Point), a Finger Poke of Doom capable of shattering the target. It is only effective on rocks and dirt.
- The Saotome School Ultimate Attack/Finishing Move consists of distracting the opponent by pretending to be about to use an ultimate technique, then running away to think of something better.
- Crouch of the Wild Tiger, which is just bowing down and begging for mercy.
- Howl of the Demon Dog, which is taunting your opponent from a safe distance.
- Cradle of Hell, which is an embarrassing, loving embrace.
- Both of the attacks used by Lin Lin and Lun Lun, which supposedly defeat powerful fighters offscreen, but are really just bad mechanical constructs.
- In an anime filler, Happosai and Genma use up all their power growing to giant size, subverting what seemed like a show-down.
- In another filler, Happosai fights another master, both of whom have invisibility techniques. Neither can attack while staying hidden. Stalemate ensues, subverting another would-be showdown.
- The Happo Fire Burst could be this or a Subversion. For most of the episode, it’s played up as a horrifically powerful Ki Attack. Eventually, Happosai uses it. Genma and Soun panic. Ranma calls it out as mere fireworks. However, in later episodes it becomes Happosai's signature move and is rather effective (for the genre, anyway); the technique is implied to be conjuring these bombs from Ki energy, which would make it a legitimately powerful technique, since it can bring a bomb to a fistfight.
- Tiger & Bunny: The eponymous duo have a special feature built into their Powered Armor called "Good Luck Mode". It does nothing but looks cool.
- In Bleach, Don Kanonji's "Kanonji-Style Final Super Attack: Kanonball" is a tiny ball of energy that creates a surprisingly powerful explosion on impact. However, it moves about as fast as a snail, making it almost impossible to hit enemies with, and Kanonji isn't strong enough to threaten anything after the first arc.
- In the Discworld novel Sourcery, Nigel and Rincewind confront some very angry harem guards. Nigel then goes to demonstrate an impressive piece of swordplay "A triple orc thrust with a backflip". At first it looks impressive, right until the sword embeds itself in the ceiling.
- Monstar in the first Paper Mario game charges up a huge aura attack with plenty of light effects while taunting Mario. The attack only does a single point of damage.
- Disgaea 2: The Prism Rangers gain the ability to launch into a long, drawn out attack that unites all of the rangers into one, huge beam attack. It does absolutely pitiful damage, and can only be used two or three times.
- Street Fighter: Alpha 2: Dan Hibiki's "super taunt" is a level.3 super that's true to its name; all he does is a series of taunts that not only wastes your super meter, it also leaves you open to attack.
- Gilgamesh in the Final Fantasy games will often claim to possess the Excalibur, a legendary sword that should by all rights do lots of damage. Then he attacks your party with it, and it does.....1 damage. Turns out it's a cheap knockoff called the Excalipoor
- Yoshio from Tokimeki Memorial 1 has a Limit Break in his repertoire during the excursion trip battle phase, the "Great Yoshio Kick"; he tries to make it sound and look cool, but, not only it does zero damage on the opponent, it also breaks Yoshio's leg and put him out of the remainder of the fight.