[[quoteright:281:[[Webcomic/ImpureBlood http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ImpureBlood_Flaw_4686.JPG]]]]
[[caption-width-right:281:How to deal with a WrenchWench]]

->''"Gentlemen," said Aramis, "the principal question is not to know which of our four lackeys is the most discreet, the most strong, the most clever, or the most brave; the principal thing is to know which loves money the best."''
-->-- '''Alexandre Dumas''', ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers''

Heroes have moral standards; villains exploit that. Villains have [[ItsAllAboutMe no concept of loyalty]]; heroes abuse that. Sometimes, villains have [[EvenEvilHasStandards standards]]; both heroes and worse villains can use that. FlawExploitation is the action of either a Hero, {{Villain}}, or even InnocentBystander to take advantage of the inherent flaws (or to be more charitable, character) of their opponent in order to win.

This is similar to the HeroBall and VillainBall in that both deal with the inherent limits heroes and villains have or place on themselves, but differs in that the former deals with the two tripping themselves up, whereas Flaw Exploitation is someone else doing so. Neither the hero nor the villain need to make mistakes for Flaw Exploitation to occur, just act in character.

A SmugSnake abusing a hero's [[CharacterAlignment Lawful Good]] morality to avoid getting punched in the face would count. Said hero being LawfulStupid wouldn't. A villain's henchmen being talked into doing a MookFaceTurn in the face of their bosses' [[YouHaveFailedMe policy on failure]] would count, but a villain doing a RevealingCoverup wouldn't.

Most villains will do this by snatching some completely random InnocentBystander off the street to use as a hostage, because the hero just ''can't'' ShootTheHostage, no matter how many million lives are at stake. Bonus points if it's [[WouldntHitAGirl a woman]], [[WouldntHurtAChild a child]], or for the 4X multiplier, a little girl. But if it's the OldMaster...

Exploiting an opponent's character and flaws is a tactic as old as time and thus TruthInTelevision. There's a deeper level to this in literature. In some settings this means that evil is fundamentally flawed and incapable of long term gains, since a competent hero can use its very nature to defeat it. On the other hand, a clever villain can make a hero set for destruction because his ethical code and a MoralDilemma are [[ToBeLawfulOrGood in violent opposition]], creating a TragicHero.

It's worth noting that neither the hero or villain would see the flaws exploited as, well, ''flaws,'' but as character traits. Character traits of such importance you cease to be a KnightInShiningArmor or a stylish CardCarryingVillain if you change them. If they do recognize them as weaknesses that can be abused, they'd all the same see them as inherent to being good/evil and [[DramaPreservingHandicap necessary.]] If they don't, say ''"Hello AntiHero and AntiVillain!"''

When used against a hero, will often lead to a SadisticChoice. The ManipulativeBastard finds this easy as breathing, while the GuileHero will have to utilize this out of necessity. TheFettered is a type of character that can frequently find their self-imposed limits exploited - and by contrast, one of the reasons TheUnfettered is so terrifying is that it's nearly impossible to do this to him.

FeedTheMole runs on this. BatmanGambit is based on this. XanatosGambit is arranged to work regardless of the mark giving in to the flaw or not. FantasticFragility relates to magical weaknesses. See also ComplexityAddiction.


* In the Bount Arc of ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', Yoshi takes a hostage and pulls off an astounding 16X Multiplier[[note]]2 hostages (x2), one is female (x2), both are children (x4) = x16[[/note]] during her battle against Rukia -- by grabbing a little girl ''who is holding an infant child in her arms''... a truly max-powered [[KickTheDog Dog Kicking]], that.
** Aizen also exploits Ichigo's saving-people-thing by kidnapping Orihime, which leads to him, Ishida, Chad, Renji and Rukia going to Hueco Mundo to save her. While there they all get their asses kicked, and have to be saved by four shinigami captains. Aizen then uses this opportunity to lock them all in Hueco Mundo while he goes to Karakura Town, leaving the shinigami forces several men down.
* In ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'', the first villain that appears tries this with a policewoman. Alucard asks the girl if she's a virgin (in the manga) or if she'll go with him (in the [[Anime/{{Hellsing}} anime]]). He then shoots her right through the chest to kill the vampire. When the mission is over, he turns her into a vampire. Alucard is not exactly a KnightInShiningArmor (except literally, in volume 8).
* All over the place in ''Manga/DeathNote''. Light exploits anybody who places trust in him (a pretty serious flaw) for all it's worth. L and company exploit Light's ego, Misa's carelessness, Mikami's strict routine, and so forth. And then Light, at a couple of points, exploits his minions' very ''exploitability'' by playing on a deeper level.
* In ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'', during Tsuna's fight with Mukuro, the fight between them is prolonged ''much'' longer due to Mukuro's [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty dirty fighting tactics]] that completely exploit Tsuna's [[AllLovingHero kind-hearted nature]]. (Tactics that include [[GrandTheftMe taking over Tsuna's friends' bodies]] to fight him, making it difficult for Tsuna to defeat them without harming their bodies, and [[ISurrenderSuckers pretending to surrender]] only to attack [[InTheBack Tsuna's back]] when Tsuna decides to [[TurnTheOtherCheek spare him]], etc.)
* Both fans ''and'' characters in ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'' accuse Ranma himself of [[CombatPragmatist abusing enemy weaknesses with utter abandon]], such as [[BalefulPolymorph triggering their curses]] or taking advantage of their [[BlindWithoutEm near-sightedness]]. Of course, "anything goes" in his "indiscriminate" school of martial arts. On the other hand, when an enemy exploits ''his'' flaws, he calls foul.
** [[FridgeBrilliance Ah, but their styles aren't 'anything goes'.]]
** Also if calling a foul (even if it makes you look like a hypocrite) works, [[FridgeBrilliance why not use it?]]
* In ''Anime/TransformersRobotsInDisguise'', the Predacons take advantage of Side Burn's obsession with red sports cars to lure him into a trap.
* In the Golden Week arc of ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'', Gilbert Kent, Sakuya's illegitimate brother, tries to use this with a dash of BoobsOfSteel and fails, picking Hinagiku (at least, she sees it as a [[EvenTheGirlsWantHer flaw]]) as Hayate's partner for a beach volleyball match. He thinks that she's the weakest of the girls. Hayate wins against an army of volleyball robots, presumably without even touching the ball.
** Hayate himself also does this to Hinagiku during the Marathon Race earlier in the manga. He sent Nagi on ahead to finish the race while he kept Hina busy...by luring her out onto a rope bridge where her fear of heights effectively rooted her to the spot. This led to Hinagiku switching from "Hayate-kun" to the more distant and formal "Ayasaki-kun", a change which lasted until the end of her Birthday Arc (a period dubbed "the ice age" on the forums due to her giving him the cold shoulder for six months to a year real time).
* In [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist the 2003 anime version]] of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', Edward and Alphonse Elric are taken advantage of multiple times by a cat burglar by the name of Psiren who pretends that she is only stealing to save a hospital scheduled for demolition, and then later a school, and finally a church. All three of which get demolished during their stay.
** During a fight between Edward and Colonel Mustang, the latter begins by trying to blast the former with flame alchemy. Edward tries to avoid it by hiding in the crowd of spectators. Mustang manages to locate him by pushing Ed's BerserkButton, which gets him to act accordingly and make himself visible.
--> '''Mustang''': If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate.
* In ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' Cell exploits Vegeta's pride by appealing to his desire to fight the most powerful opponent possible. This leads to Vegeta allowing Cell to absorb Android 18 in order to achieve his "perfect" form instead of just killing him when he had the chance. Bonus points for getting away with it despite Vegeta knowing exactly what he was doing, but letting it happen regardless. Needless to say, Perfect Cell was [[CurbStompBattle a little much for him]]
* In ''Manga/{{Holyland}}'' chapter 129, some envious seniors pressed Masaki's BerserkButton to lure him into a trap.
* In ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'', the God Hand exploit Griffith's pride and ambition to tempt him into a DealWithTheDevil. Of course, they would probably say that they didn't "exploit" him so much as [[AppealToInherentNature appeal to his true nature]].
* In ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', the Incubators often exploit humans' flaws to make them [[DealWithTheDevil contract]]. Not coincidentally, their favourite prey is young girls- a demographic that is easily manipulated.
** The Incubators themselves all [[HiveMind share]] one flaw: none of them can understand or predict emotion. This blind spot makes it possible for humans to outmanoeuvre them, and has been responsible for all of their defeats to date.

* In ''The ComicBook/FantasticFour,'' Reed periodically is able to bait [[DoctorDoom Doom]] into getting careless by playing to his overwhelming ego.
* In the Franchise/{{Batman}}[=/=]ComicBook/ThePunisher CrossOver, SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker is cornered by the Punisher, and tries to use Batman's usual "flaw" of not killing his foes. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't know how Frank operates, and his realization of "You're really going to do it" as Frank puts a gun to his head is among the most awesome OhCrap moments ever.
* Part of Comicbook/DoctorStrange's bag of tricks, particularly when dealing with massively overpowered enemies. DimensionLord Dormammu, for example, wants to beat Strange in a way which gratifies his pride, so Strange can usually trick him into fighting 'fair' (when he could annihilate Strange with a single glance).
* In the DCU, this is the villain Prometheus's shtick. In his first appearance, he used it to take down every single member of the Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica, with the exception of {{Superman}}, who was going through his "[[EnergyBeing Superman Blue]]" phase. Since he was immune even to [[KryptoniteFactor kryptonite]], Prometheus threatened to kill several hundred innocent bystanders [[SadisticChoice unless Superman committed suicide]].
** Prometheus took this trope into overdrive when he was used as the main villain for the 2010 miniseries ''[[ComicBook/JusticeLeagueCryForJustice Cry for Justice]]''. The sixth issue features him infiltrating the Watchtower and effortlessly taking down half the League all by himself. By this time he's refined his technology to the point where his helmet can effortlessly pinpoint the weaknesses for each Leaguer he faces and which he then capitalizes on - shooting Supergirl with an Amazon-forged bullet, silencing Zatanna before she can use her magic, and so on.
* In the climax of ''ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW'' mini-series ''ComicBook/TransformersLastStandOfTheWreckers'', human sidekick Verity is confronted by the AxCrazy BigBad Overlord. She figures that Overlord's main motivation is to fight Megatron, so she exploits it by claiming that Megatron is dead. This pushes Overlord into a [[DespairEventHorizon deep state of depression]].
** In the Overlord arc of ''ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW'' next mini-series ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'', Chromedome notes of Overlord's fear of defeat (when he's defeated by Megatron on several occasions, and his defeat at the hands of [[ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye the Wreckers]]). So, he plants a subliminal phrase during each of Overlord's failures as an insurance policy. After Overlord inevitably escapes, the phrase "Till All are One" is used as a trigger against him to temporarily send him into [[VillainousBreakdown shock]] - enough so for the Autobots to get him off their ship.
* Attempted by [[spoiler: Phobos]] in the fourth saga of ''ComicBook/{{WITCH}}'': knowing that Will fears remaining alone, he [[MindRape subjects her to illusions of a false future in which she would be left alone by everyone she cares]] if she didn't surrender the Heart of Kandrakar to him. She believes him... [[TheDeterminator And then nearly electrocutes him to death]], sparing him only because [[spoiler: [[GrandTheftMe he had switched bodies with Endarno]] and she wished to revert the situation]] and, once done that, she planned to bring him back to his cell, AFateWorseThanDeath for him.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* In the ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' fic ''FanFic/WinterWar'', it's established very early on that [[TheBadGuyWins Aizen won the Fake Karakura Town battle]], and Rangiku died of her wounds on the retreat. Gin refuses to believe that she's dead (it helps that the last he heard was that Kira had been able to stabilize her). LaResistance lures him out of his stronghold by having one of their members impersonate Rangiku and allow herself to be seen by some of Gin's men.
* In the ''[[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic MLP]]'' fic, ''[[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/119688/1/you-obey/the-interrogation You Obey]]'', The interrogator notices that Shadowfax is quite susceptible to pride. Guess how he gets her to spill the beans.

* Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine of ''Franchise/StarWars'' is the master. He creates a rebellion based on real anger people have with the central government, exploits Amidala's anger at the Republic to get the Chancellor out of the way, and exploits the Senate's fear of rebellion to give him dictatorial power. He exploits Anakin's ego and fear of losing loved ones to tempt him to the Dark Side, exploits the Jedi's aloofness to sow distrust. He exploits the Rebellion's fear of galactic [=WMDs=] by using the second Death Star as bait for an ambush, and nearly manages to exploit Luke's concern for his friends to tempt him as well. His one mistake was forgetting that he'd originally exploited Anakin's fear and anger at losing loved ones, so killing Anakin's son...
** Who, of course, exploited Vader's feelings to turn him against Palpatine. Not ''consciously'' (he went to try and rescue Vader, not kill Palpatine, according to the [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse EU]]).
*** It could be said that Luke certainly USED his father's feelings for him. But he used his father's positive (Light Side) emotions to help Vader/Anakin turn and free himself from the Emperor's control . Also, Luke's intent seemed to be for his father's own good and redemption, not JUST to topple the Empire for the Rebelion.
* In ''Film/SupermanII'', General Zod realizes Superman's weakness is that he cares for the humans he's protecting. Zod and his minions start attacking and endangering the people of Metropolis. Superman finally realizes that fighting his enemies in the middle of the city is endangering innocent lives and takes off.
** [[FeedTheMole Superman tells Luthor about the molecule chamber and then secretly reverses its mechanism to irradiate the exterior rather than the interior, because he knows Luthor will betray him, telling Zod how it normally works.]]
* Averted in ''Film/{{Speed}}''. Shoot the hostage.
* In ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', one of the reasons why the Joker is so effective a villain is that he's very good at pointing out the flaws in the principles of others, and exploiting those flaws to his advantage. Some examples are: 1) He immediately recognizes that Batman is the real reason why organized crime is threatened in Gotham and points this out to the mob, which causes the mob to hire the Joker when they realize he's right, giving the Joker access to Gotham's underworld. 2) He exploits the fact that Batman really is an unlawful vigilante by promising to kill people until Batman unmasks, turning the city and the cops against Batman. 3) He convinces Harvey Dent to become Two-Face by telling Dent that the so-called justice system that he supports is filled with corrupt people who constantly tolerate corruption and profit from crime, which is true since Jim Gordon is forced to work with suspect cops in order to have enough men to do his job. 4) He constantly iterates that people are complacent and corruptible and backs up his beliefs by putting people in a position where they have to choose to obey the law and their principles, or lose something they dearly love (only Batman consistently demonstrated his incorruptibility).
* Kirk [[IShallTauntYou taunted]] Khan in ''Film/{{Star Trek II|The Wrath of Khan}}'' in order to get him to enter the Mutara Nebula, which gave Kirk the advantage and ultimately victory. The result is that Khan was undone by his own massive ego.
* Lampshaded during Sid's EvilGloating in ''Jake Speed''
-->'''Sid''' (William Hurt): "Heroes... you're so predictable. Always doing the right thing.")
* A rare hero-on-hero case occurs in ''Film/RobinHoodPrinceOfThieves''. Azeem, newly arrived in England, needs to turn toward Mecca to pray, but it's too cloudy for him to tell which direction it is. Rather pettily, Robin won't tell his friend which way is East until Azeem confesses the name of the woman he was imprisoned for loving.
** In the movie, Azeem says her name was "Yazmeena", which was considered more likely than the book, in which her name is "Barbara".
* ''Film/TheAvengers''. This is Loki's favourite tactic but it is used against him in the climax Tony realizes that he and Loki are NotSoDifferent and this helped him figure out that Loki would sacrifice pragmatism for showmanship, which would end up biting Loki hard.
** Black Widow manipulates Loki's love for TheReasonYouSuckSpeech to get important information from him. The Chitauri use his thirst for revenge and "worthiness" to have him fetch the Tesseract.
* ''{{Disney/Hercules}}'': Hades tricks Hercules into giving up his strength by exploiting his one "weakness," his love for Meg.

* This is what makes SixthRangerTraitor David from ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' so deadly. He has the same powers the kids have, far fewer morphs, and a year's less experience. Despite this, he's capable of homing in on each Animorph's respective weaknesses in order to defeat them - luring Jake into a one-one battle between his lion and Jake's tiger, splitting up Ax and Rachel by using Rachel's opinion of him as a crook to trick her, and so on. Ironically, David is himself defeated this way, with Cassie exploiting his ego and need for revenge against Rachel to lure him into a trap. And as the only Animorph he had trusted, David never saw it coming.
* A good example of this is ''Literature/HarryPotter''. Half of Harry's triumphs come from the fact that Voldemort has no concept of loyalty to his men; thus, many of them will abandon him the moment there's something better to be loyal to. Dumbledore turned Draco Malfoy in [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince book six]], and his father and mother switched sides (his mother being the more important of them) pretty much at a drop of a hat, because a choice between an uncaring vindictive bastard who would likely kill them for their past failures or the life of her son wasn't a hard choice.
** Flipping it right around for another good example: half of Voldemort's triumphs come from the fact that Harry has an especially fierce sense of loyalty, and thus will go to any lengths to help his friends. It's even [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix Book 5]], when Hermione points out to Harry that he's got a "saving people thing", and raises the possibility that Voldemort could be deliberately taking advantage of that. [[spoiler:He is.]]
** Voldemort's problem isn't that he doesn't appreciate true loyalty. He does. He rewards his two most loyal servants, Bellatrix and Severus Snape with his greatest trust. His problem is that he's terrible at ''creating'' loyalty. Bellatrix was loyal due to her obsession over Voldemort. Severus was loyal due to a seeming brotherhood with him, through similar shared childhood experiences. [[spoiler:Up until Voldemort tries to kill Lily Potter. Then all loyalty goes out the window.]] At no time does he do anything that a reasonable person would find inspiring of real loyalty. [[ItsAllAboutMe He seems to want people to feel loyalty towards someone who's a raving sociopath and is incapable of returning that loyalty]].
*** Since some raving sociopaths actually ''think'' like that, this may not be a surprise. Plenty of historical rulers were the kind that no sane person would willingly follow... and then railed against the treachery and disloyalty of their followers.
* Sauron in Creator/JRRTolkien's ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' is defeated because he was incapable of imagining that someone who could wield the One Ring wouldn't want to, and would instead send it away to be destroyed. Thanks to the palantír, Gandalf convinced him Aragorn had the Ring and was headed towards him to buy enough time for Frodo to destroy it. Ironically Sauron was right when the moment came Frodo didn't have enough willpower to destroy the Ring and it was only destroyed [[NiceJobFixingItVillain when Gollum tried to take it back]]. So, the Ring was in fact destroyed because of its overwhelming possessive power.
* By the same author in ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'': The chief god, Manwe, is floating on his own goodness so high above ground level that he is incapable of imagining why others would prefer to be bad. That's why he releases the evil god Morgoth from captivity. Morgoth does not hesitate to exploit this tremendous naivety to the fullest.
* Subverted in Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/FeetOfClay''. A trio of thieves discovers that the bar they're trying to rob is populated entirely by off-duty members of the Watch. They take hostage a pretty blonde woman, figuring that the others will let them go free as they [The Watch] won't want to risk injuring her. [[spoiler:Fortunately, depending on your point of view, she's a werewolf--and a cop--and she can take care of herself.]]
* Kellhus in ''Literature/SecondApocalypse'' exploits the flaws of ''everyone'' around him. In most cases, this flaw is religion, but he also exploits love several times. [[{{Ubermensch}} His morals aren't exactly in line with the rest of the world]].
* This is par for the course in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. Littlefinger is especially good at Flaw Exploitation, playing on the weaknesses and foibles of pretty much everybody: Eddard Stark (honor), Lysa Arryn (obsessive love), Robert Baratheon (impatience with the mundane issues of running a kingdom), Joffrey Baratheon (wanton cruelty), Tywin Lannister (pride)... and so many, many more. In fact the only person who might be better is Tyrion, who did most of the above as well as handling his sister Cersei (hunger for power,) his brother Jaime (fear of being betrayed by his lover,) Varys the Spider (multiple, delicately-balanced loyalties,) the Dornish royal family (collective thirst for revenge,) Pycelle (greed,) and even Littlefinger himself (reliance on people underestimating him.)
* In the ''Literature/{{Redwall}}'' series, badgers are known to be fiercely (perhaps feverishly) dedicated to [[LawfulGood Justice and Good]] in general. ''Salamandastron'' has the BigBad [[LampshadeHanging acknowledge this]] outright:
--> '''Ferahgo''': I've dealt with big badgers before. Oh, they're fierce fighters, sure enough, but they lack cunning and suffer from silly little things, like honor and conscience.
** Later in the story, the villains capture a pair of the Badger Lord's finest fighters and have fun messing with him over what they want for their hostages before making an impossible demand for the entire mountain fortress. They even give the badger a couple days to give his answer, knowing full well they plan to kill their hostages before the time elapses. [[spoiler: Fortunately for the two hostages, the series is prone to [[TakeAThirdOption softening the consequences]] of such [[DebateAndSwitch difficult choices]], and they end up surviving anyway. Partially this is because [[BadassArmy hares]] are invariably awesome in a pinch.]]
* In JamesSwallow's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Literature/BloodAngels novel ''Deus Encarmine'', Inquisitor Stele exploits this when trying to corrupt the Chapter, as they believe they owe him. Fortunately for them, he believes they hold HonorBeforeReason a little more strongly than they do; he thinks it [[DueToTheDead forbidden to use the gear of the dead]], when it is only forbidden except in the direst circumstances. When a Blood Angel gets off a message with a dead man's gear, he doesn't think to investigate who had access.
* [[Literature/{{Allegiance}} Baron Choard]] wasn't exactly a hero, but his assistant Disra did spend a long time finding all of his buttons, and influenced his boss into planning to secede violently from the Empire. Disra, as it turned out, was orchestrating all this so he could report the treasonous activity and get promoted. Given that twenty or so years later he's a [[HandOfThrawn Moff]] of no small power, we can assume that he did.
* In Creator/DanAbnett's Literature/GauntsGhosts novel ''Blood Pact'', [[spoiler:Rime]] jeers at Gaunt: he's read his files, and knows he won't execute him without ''proof''. [[spoiler:Fortunately, he hasn't read [[ShootTheDog Rawne's file]].]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' novels, Kitiara plays Laurana like a fiddle, when she uses Laurana's obsessive love for Tanis Half-Elven to lure her into a trap.
* In Suzanne Collins's ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', Katniss exploits the Capital's [[spoiler:need for a victor]].
* In Creator/AaronAllston's ''Literature/GalateaIn2D'', they know Kevin will come to the convention even when they are gunning for him, and he knows it, because he can't miss the chance to bask in the admiration.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ConanTheBarbarian story "Literature/ThePhoenixOnTheSword ", Ascalante gloats at how he will deal with the men who think he is their tool.
-->''by the clay in each, I will crush them when the time comes.''
* After technology fails in the Literature/{{Emberverse}}, history professor and Society for Creative Anachronism member Norman Arminger founds the Portland Protective Association, a society whose motif is based on the 11th-12th centuries. He's described as a "Period Nazi" obsessed with recreating that era accurately. This leaves him unprepared when his enemies start using weapons and methods that, while workable in a non-technological setting, hadn't been created in his chosen period. Arminger's in even more trouble later when Mike Havel uses the PPA's concept of honor (carefully fostered by Arminger himself) to force him into a fight that he might not [[spoiler: and doesn't]] win.
* In JackCampbell's Literature/TheLostStars novel ''Tarnished Knight'', Drakon poses as over-confident in his ability to protect himself. ISS agents will believe that he doesn't bring his guards out of {{Pride}}. Later, he knows Hardrad is bluffing because he is offering a deal, not just using what he's threatening to use; he taunts him with being more familiar with him than he is with Drakon.
* In AndreNorton's ''[[Literature/{{Warlock}} Forerunner Foray]]'', Yasa exploits the Guild's orders to hide from them that she wants to leave the planet for purposes of her own.
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''Literature/ChroniclesOfChaos'', every magical paradigm is vulnerable to another, while a third is vulnerable to it. Exploiting such loopholes is a major plot thread. At one point, Glum is magically keeping Amelia helpless, but because his magic can do whatever he wants -- but he has to ''want'' it -- she suggests that this will not do what he wants. He weakens for a moment, and empowered, Amelia tweaks something to rescue her afterward.
* Played with in the Literature/CharlieParkerSeries: Amoral assassin Louis has one major redeeming feature: his love for Angel, who acts as his moral compass. Louis is aware of this "flaw", and fears that his enemies may use it against him. However, the one and only time Angel is threatened by an enemy, it is in an attempt to get at ''Parker'', not Louis. Faulker had no idea that by kidnapping Angel, he was bringing Louis' wrath down upon himself.
* A notable example from ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'': Cadsuane Sedai is overseeing the interrogation of one of the Forsaken, [[TheDreaded Semirhage]]: an extremely powerful, immortal, experienced channeler from the Age of Legends, and a sadistic torturer who was so feared in her own time that prisoners would kill themselves rather than face the smallest part of her wrath. Cadsuane notes that the Aes Sedai who have her under guard are getting nothing from Semirhage, who almost seems to be enjoying herself, and realizes it's because that Semirhage's reputation and power are still things that people in the present time know, fear, and above all ''respect.'' [[spoiler: She winds up breaking that spell by [[HumiliationConga taking Semirhage over her knee and spanking her like an unruly child, forcing her to eat off of the floor like an animal, and other petty little punishments]] in order to BreakTheHaughty in the eyes of her jailors.]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', this is one of the Doctor's main tactics. He is ''repeatedly'' underestimated about how [[LetsGetDangerous dangerous]] (for those people, who don't ''know'' about him) or how [[TranquilFury ruthless]] (for some who do) he can be, and he plays on this to ManipulativeBastard levels. That's only if everyone else involved isn't already scared stiff of him...
* In the ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' episode "Objects In Space," [[PsychoForHire Jubal Early]] takes advantage of Simon's love for his sister River ''and'' his attraction to Kaylee by presenting him with a SadisticChoice: either he helps Early hunt down River, or Early will kill Simon and then go back to the engine room where he has Kaylee tied up and then rape and kill her.
* In ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', it didn't take long for Morgana to pick up on Arthur's devotion to Guinevere and use it to her own advantage on at least two occasions: "The Castle of Fyrien" and "Queen of Hearts". The latest footage from season four suggests that Arthur's enemies aren't done exploiting this weakness.
* In ''Series/RobinHood'', Marian attempts to use Guy's genuine feelings for her to get information about the Sheriff's evil schemes so that she can pass it on to Robin. [[ShippingGoggles It works less often than the shippers would have you believe]], and it ultimately [[spoiler:costs her her life]].
** However, one notable instance is when both Marian ''and'' Robin acknowledge Guy's weakness for Marian by executing a perfect DecoyDamsel ploy in order for them to escape a tight situation. Guy falls for it hook, line and sinker.
* Kivas Fajo uses this against Data in the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "The Most Toys", while Data has a disruptor weapon pointed at him, convinced that Data will not fire it because he's programmed with a "fundamental respect for all life, and an inhibition against harming living beings". Subverted [[spoiler:in that Data ''does'' actually prepare to shoot, reasoning that killing Fajo would save more lives in the long run, and would have done so if he hadn't been beamed out of there in the nick of time. He then tells a near-lie to his commanding officer about it; he suggests that the disruptor may have discharged due to the transport. He never says that this is what happened, only that it is a possible explanation.]]
-->'''Fajo:'''If only you could feel ''rage'' over Varria's death... If only you could feel the need for revenge, then maybe you could fire. But you're...just an android. You can't feel anything, can you? It's just another interesting, intellectual puzzle for you--another of life's curiosities.
** Of course, this was only after Fajo had ''successfully'' used this against Data to get him to sit in his assigned chair by, ironically, threatening to kill the aforementioned Varria if he didn't comply, on the same hunch that Data's "fundamental respect for all life" [[ThreeLawsCompliant wouldn't even let him allow someone to die, through his inaction]]. In case the above quote wasn't obvious, it was Fajo's killing of Varria at the end of the episode that prompted the subversion.
* In ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'' when Sykes puts Myka in the Chess lock chair to make HG give the right answer...if HG fails 3 times the one person she cares about will die.
* ''Series/TheAquabatsSuperShow'' episode "Cobraman!" has a RunningGag in which the MC Bat Commander will eagerly take on any bet that is given to him - especially a bet made a long time ago about him not seeing the Cobraman. Later on in the episode, when the Battletram is stolen, the thief, Carl, bets the Commander that he can't beat the Cobraman in a fair fight. If the Commander loses, the team forfeits the Battletram. [[spoiler:He beats the Cobraman, but the Cobraman makes a bet to the Commander that he wouldn't let him go, which the Commander loses. The Cobraman plans to return to break Carl out of prison.]]
* By its very nature, ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' runs on this trope. For example, "Puppetmaster" Russell Hantz: great at the mechanics, horrible at the core. He had absolutely no idea just how bad he was at that last part. But Natalie White did, and guess what happened.
* In season 3 of ''Series/{{Breaking Bad}}'', Walter exploits Gus and Hector's mutual hatred and desire for revenge, trusting that Gus will go to the retirement home to gloat [[spoiler:when Walter has fixed a bomb to Hector's wheelchair]]. Likewise, in season 5, Jesse successfully manipulates Walter into showing him [[spoiler:the location of his money,]] as he knows Walter is both too arrogant and too paranoid about it being stolen to think he might be being played.

* In ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'', [[MagnificentBastard Iago]] is the ''master of'' this, playing Brabantio's racism and paternalism, Cassio's low alcohol tolerance, Othello's [[GreenEyedMonster jealousy]], and Roderigo's lust (and lack of grey matter) all to his own advantage.
* In ''Theatre/ThePiratesOfPenzance'', the titular pirates won't hurt orphans. Everyone seems to know this and use it to escape from them, even ModernMajorGeneral Stanley.
-->'''Frederic'''. ''Then, again, you make a point of never molesting an orphan!''\\
'''Samuel'''. ''Of course: we are orphans ourselves, and know what it is.''\\
'''Frederic'''. ''Yes, but it has got about, and what is the consequence? Every one we capture says he's an orphan. The last three ships we took proved to be manned entirely by orphans, and so we had to let them go. One would think that Great Britain's mercantile navy was recruited solely from her orphan asylums, which we know is not the case.''
** That's just the best known one. The entire play is about this trope. For example: [[spoiler: Fredric's loyalty (by the pirates), the pirate's patriotism (by the police), Fredric's naivete (by Ruth), Stanley's patriotism (by the pirates)]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'' [[spoiler: your beloved Master Li]] strikes the main character/you through a series of holes in your defense [[spoiler: '''that he built into your techniques himself!''' [[ManipulativeBastard Glorious Strategist]], indeed]].
** Bioware has another good one with [[spoiler:[[NiceJobBreakingItHero Mephistopheles engineering circumstances to make you free him to wreak havoc on the surface world]]]]
* Injured pride is a great weapon indeed: if you're able to convince the [[BigBad Master]] from ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 1}}'' that his plan for WorldDomination has or will fail, he will [[DrivenToSuicide commit suicide]].
** In the ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' DLC ''Lonesome Road'', Ulysses can tell you that if you're going up against Lanius that you can take advantage of his fear of defeat in order to make him back down. Most of the [[TalkingTheMonsterToDeath Speech options]] do involve convincing Lanius that he has no long-term hopes for a campaign after this battle or bluffing him into thinking that he's walking into the kind of trap that felled his predecessor Joshua Graham.
* This is practically a requirement in any ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'' game. Partly because the enemies will exploit ''your'' flaws for all they're worth ''and then some''.
* In ''VideoGame/RadiantHistoria'' one of the side quest has this. The bad guy grabs hostage the inn keepers' daughter.
* The final puzzle in ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice: Culture Shock'' turns villain Brady Culture's "ItsAllAboutMe" egotism on his head. [[spoiler: Brady orders the {{Brainwashed}} Soda Poppers to attack Sam; interestingly enough, the Soda Poppers aren't brainwashed to follow Brady ''specifically'', and so Sam can order them around as well. The end result ''appears'' to be a stalemate, but if Sam orders the Soda Poppers to "worship me!", Brady petulantly yells at them to "worship ''me!''" instead of ordering them to attack Sam as usual. If Sam then orders the Soda Poppers to "attack me!", Brady's knee-jerk reaction is to scream "no, attack ''me!''" - [[HoistByHisOwnPetard the last order he's in any condition to give them.]]]]
* Ganondorf does this so often that's it's practically one of his defining characteristics. Countless times he's [[DistressedDamsel kidnapped Zelda]] knowing that Link would [[AlwaysSaveTheGirl come rescue her]], and in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' (and to an extent, ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker Wind Waker]]'') his plans were actually based around the idea that Link and Zelda would try to stop him. And then there's ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'', where he exploits Zant's anger and ambition, using him as a tool to free himself from the Twilight Realm and conquer Hyrule.
** And in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks'', Chancellor Cole uses Zelda's [[EekAMouse fear of mice]] to [[CrowningMomentOfFunny interrupt a battle]].
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', the Thalmor goad Ulfric Stormcloak into seditious acts against the Empire through a combination of his malcontent towards a [[WonTheWarLostThePeace lopsided "peace" treaty]] the Empire and Thalmor have, and his own impatience and brashness. They know all his buttons and just which ones to push, thanks to him being a prisoner of war to them. He's not a ManchurianAgent, but still manipulable. The end result is that the Stormcloak Rebellion impedes the Empire's preparations to [[TheDogBitesBack heat the cold war back up again]].

* Subverted mightily in ''Webcomic/AntiheroForHire'', where Shadehawk fully is [[http://antiheroforhire.com/d/20081017.html greatly disappointed]] to learn a room full of unaffiliated villains did not in fact fight over their treasure at all, though it's immediately DoubleSubverted as they fight over killing him.
* During the ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' arc "Aylee" [[spoiler:Leono is defeated because the same FantasticRacism that drove him to wipe out humanity means he never suspects a member of his own species would betray him]].
* Happens a number of times in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''...
** [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0205.html Durkon exploits Hayley's greed]], to get her to come with the rest of the Order to a court case.
** Shortly thereafter, when the assassin threatens to blow up the inn, Roy deduces that if he cared that little about killing innocent bystanders, he'd have already done it. It worked, too, and then Belkar ran by. . . .
** Vaarsuvius [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0397.html resolves]] a SpotTheImposter situation by offending the EvilTwin's {{Pride}} and zapping the one that takes offense.
** More recently, V's own {{Pride}} has been exploited by [[spoiler:fiends aware that V would rather [[DealWithTheDevil rent out his soul]] for the power to do things without help than rely on others to accomplish the same thing without obligation.]]
** The team exploits Belkar's evil even though he's on their side; [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0860.html the Holy Word deafened all the evil people on the opposing team, and Belkar, so he's immune to suggestion.]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheDreamlandChronicles'', the {{pirate}}s exploit the PowerNullifier of fear, terrifying the children they abduct to keep them from flying off.
* ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'': How Mega Man defeats the robots, [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/020409c sometimes by accident]]. [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/000827c Sometimes on purpose.]]
** [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/050103c How Proto Man gets George to defend Mike]], even if he's a title character and Mike's just a MauveShirt
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue4PAGES/ib094.html Dara]] wants [[WrenchWench Mac]] out of the rigging and down below. So she points out that's where the engine room is.
* In ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure'', [[http://danielscreations.com/ola/comics/ep0212.html escaping into city limits means a paladin can't just kill you.]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2005-12-30 Slick discovers the sales clerk hates Love. So he throws around the word.]]
* In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'', [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2000-10-17 the superior forces don't fire on them because they are not murderous mercenary scum like them. Tagon puts it as they have something to lose: the moral high ground.]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'':
** Florence gets Sam out of the ventilation duct he was stuck in by saying "Money." He hops out, looking around for it, even though moments early he had been stuck.
** Then Sam has been known to get food cheap by showing up minutes before the food court closes, knowing they have to throw away what they don't sell; [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2200/fv02118.htm get Florence out of her room]] by asking if she's more afraid of the mayor than everything that could happen to the robots; and [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1700/fc01683.htm distracts Mr. Kornada]] from recognizing him by suggesting such recognition should indicate bonus time.
** [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2400/fc02307.htm Max uses Raibert's sense of responsibility against him]] to help avert a robot armageddon courtesy of [[spoiler:Gardener in the Dark]], even though it's after midnight for Raibert and he's worn out from earlier activity.
** [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2400/fc02362.htm Encouraging Edge to make his views known]]. Given his ItsAllAboutMe attitude, that would encourage humans to destroy him.
*** [[spoiler: Backfires on Blunt. The humans find Edge's rude narcissism charming compared to the other more obsequious robots.]]
* In ''Webcomic/RustyAndCo'',
** [[http://rustyandco.com/comic/level-6-46/ Mimic deduces how the vampire is controlling Madeline because Madeline can't do anything against her fundamental nature.]]
** [[http://rustyandco.com/comic/level-6-48/ Cube exploits the vampire's ability]] to [[PullingThemselvesTogether pull herself together]], to get it done wrong.
* In ''Webcomic/DocRat'', [[http://www.docrat.com.au/default.asp?thisItem=1370 take off the pack alpha, and the rest of the wolves will do nothing.]]
* In ''Webcomic/QuentynQuinnSpaceRanger'', Quentyn exploits [[http://www.rhjunior.com/QQSR/00030.html exclusive use of force fields in cells]] and [[http://www.rhjunior.com/QQSR/00032.html the integrated computer system to take over the ship]].
* In ''Webcomic/DragonMango'', [[http://dragon-mango.com/comic/chapter04/dm04-41.htm Mango exploits how budgets put Cherry to sleep.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* At the SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy in the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, there are Combat Finals at the end of the Fall 2006 term. In one chapter of Joe Gunnarson's ''Call the Thunder'', Diamondback finds herself teamed with the Supervillain Hekate, who everyone in the entire school knows will backstab Diamondback first chance she gets (and who is much more powerful magically than Diamondback). Diamond lays a very cunning BatmanGambit that only works ''if Hekate shafts her as soon as she gets the chance''. Hekate grabs the VillainBall for everything she's worth, leading to a very satisfying demonstration of this trope.
** Double example: In "Boston Brawl 2", power-armored Ironhawk grabs a little girl and holds her at knifepoint to stop the heroes, to exploit the classic hero flaw. It fails horribly because of the second example: the little girl he grabs is Generator. She uses her power (she can animate things if she can touch them and they aren't too big) to take over the control switches for his power armor, and she beats on some of the other villains using Ironhawk like a remote controlled toy.
** In "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy", one of the antagonists in the big trap (it's a simulation they can't get out of) is a power mimic. Phase beats him by giving the mimic a copy of his powers and then using Flaw Exploitation to take advantage of the weaknesses of ''his own powers''.
* In ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', Taylor targets [[spoiler:Scion's]] psychological weak points by [[spoiler:reminding him of the death of his counterpart]] and taking advantage of [[spoiler:his inability to deal with loss, driving him past the DespairEventHorizon so that he would allow himself to be killed.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** Azula, in "[[BeachEpisode The Beach]]", has her team concentrate on a single player of the opposing team that she deduced had a childhood knee injury to win a volleyball game.
** In the first season, when Aang is fighting Zhao he uses Zhao's lack of self-control to trick him into setting his own boat on fire, leaving Aang free to escape.
* In ''TheSpectacularSpiderMan,'' Doctor Octopus pegs Spider-Man as "weak" because he's obliged to save [[InnocentBystander Innocent Bystanders]]. Ock then grabs a nearby [[DistressedDamsel damsel]] and uses her in a HostageForMcGuffin ploy to get Spider-Man to fork over some desirable AppliedPhlebotinum.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'': Cartman's revenge plot against Scott Tenorman relies heavily on this. If Stan and Kyle didn't rat him out to Scott, or Scott himself had reacted differently, the whole plan could have fallen apart.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheTransformers'':
** One episode has Megatron executing a plan to teleport Cybertron (the Transformers' homeworld) into Earth orbit, the presence of which would disrupt Earth's gravity and ultimately destroy the planet. The Autobots try to stop him, but when Optimus finally does prevent Megatron from pressing the button to complete the teleport, Megatron gloats, and insists that ''Optimus'' will be the one to push the button -- because if he doesn't, the teleport will fail, destroying Cybertron in the process. Optimus, true to form, reluctantly pushes the button, rather than let his homeworld perish. (Which is kind of opposite of other characterization he's had since, where he would sacrifice the rest of his species if it means the Decepticons would not be able to threaten any other sentients ever again.)
** In an earlier episode, Megatron goads Optimus into a one-on-one duel in which the loser's faction will exile themselves forever, knowing the Autobot leader's sense of honor would never allow him to refuse a chance to end their war peacefully. Naturally, he cheats during the competition, but at least he was just GenreSavvy enough to send troops into the Autobot base to disable their computer and prevent the deception from being noticed (and he would've gotten away with it, too, were it not for those meddling Dinobots...).
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'':
** [[HarmlessVillain Dr. Drakken]] is known to have exploited Kim's teenager flaws, like making Kim disappear if she's too embarrassed or sending in a perfect boyfriend for Kim to fall in love with.
** [[DarkActionGirl Shego]] takes over the world by exploiting the major flaw that Kim Possible is nowhere near as effective without her sidekick Ron Stoppable, Shego splits them up by offering Ron's mother a new job in Norway.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'':
** ManipulativeBastard Vlad constantly pulls this on Danny, usually by making him his personal UnwittingPawn. Danny however, does the same thing against him, too! One example is in "''Maternal Instincts''" where Danny tricked Vlad by using his desire for the boy as his son. Calling him "new dad", Danny slaps a PowerNullifier on him, then proceeds to beat the crap outta him.
** Technus also used Danny's emotions to keep him busy or enraged in one episode while he worked on his ultimate plan.
** This is [[EmotionEater Spectra's]] MO, as she feeds off misery, and thus manipulates people's flaws to make them as miserable as possible.
* [[ManipulativeBastard Discord]] from ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' uses the mane cast's flaws to [[BreakTheCutie break them]] and turn them against their Elements. It fails on Fluttershy, however, because she ''knows'' she has flaws and is perfectly accepting of them [[spoiler:so he brainwashes her the old fashion way. Ironically, the heroes do this right back at him to ultimately defeat him, as [[SmugSuper his ego]] and [[EvilCannotComprehendGood inability to truly understand friendship's strength]] is ultimately what allows them to get the final blow.]]
** Amazingly, Fluttershy shows some serious [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastardness]] by pulling this on Discord ''again'' while Discord thinks he's pulling this on her. He uses her "friendship" as a free ticket to run completely rampant while she sits back and deals with it, thinking he has her wrapped around his little talon. She's ''aware'' of his plan, and exploiting it because it's the easiest way to get close to him.
* ''WesternAnimation/BuzzLightyearOfStarCommand''
-->'''Zurg''': We need to get him to come out... *''to a minion''* Target the Planet of Widows and Orphans!
-->'''Buzz''': You fiend! *''flies out''*
-->'''Zurg''': I ''knew'' that would get him!
* Chase Young may be a NobleDemon in ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'', but that doesn't stop him from being ManipulativeBastard as well. Wanting to take the young Omi as his apprentice, he uses Omi's biggest flaws to bring the boy over to his side...his naivity, his over-trusting nature, and then even after his friends save Omi from the dark side...Chase also previously had Omi swear his loyalty to him, knowing Omi would have no choice but to stay, because like Chase, the boy [[HonorBeforeReason always]] [[IGaveMyWord honors his word]].
* WesternAnimation/{{Bravestarr}} once reluctantly agreed to a bargain with Tex Hex, because he knew that Tex was such a compulsive backstabber that he would never honor his own end of the deal, which would then leave Bravestarr free to break it as well.
* As a counterpart to what happened in the comic book, the second season of the animated series of ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' has ''Will'' [[TheChessmaster using Phobos' own arrogance and sense of superiority to manipulate him like a fiddle]], also [[spoiler: convincing a few {{Noble Demon}}s among his men to pull an HeelFaceTurn by exposing his lack of honour]]. Again, it fail, but for different reasons: Phobos ''did'' fall for it, but [[spoiler: Cedric saw through it and choose the moment before it would have paid off to pull a {{Starscream}}...]]