Godzilla Threshold

Stand back.

Loki: How desperate are you, that you call on such lost creatures to defend you?
Nick Fury: How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk about peace and you kill 'cause it's fun. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did.

There is wisdom in facing a threat with a proportionate response. Sure, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, but it'll likely cause a lot of avoidable collateral damage, and it'll guarantee that tomorrow the next threat is stronger. But every so often, the time comes when the threat is so great, the situation has gone so horribly wrong, that there is no proportionate response. When circumstances are so dire as to justify the use of any and every thing that might solve it, no matter how reckless, nonsensical, or horrific, regardless of cost. When even the summoning of Godzilla, king of the monsters and patron saint of collateral damage, could not possibly make the crisis any worse. Every so often, the situation crosses the Godzilla Threshold.

Once the Threshold is crossed, any plan, with even the smallest possibility of success, no matter how ludicrous, dangerous or abhorrent, suddenly becomes a valid option. This serves both narrative and authorial purposes. Suppose the heroes have an awesome weapon that nonetheless causes a lot of property damage, like a Kill Sat. Or a captured or dormant monster. Or one knows a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that will put their life at risk. Or the only ones left who are in a position to try and save the day are the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who've been bumbling their way in the background the whole time. The powers that be have to use it, but it can't be done lightly without portraying them as either careless or cruel. So the author contrives to make the situation call for its use in such clear terms the audience understands this was done as a last resort — and, if it's handled properly, the audience doesn't even notice.

Sometimes, the threshold is engineered or handled poorly. This is can be the case when the heroes' actions or failures to act cause the situation to cross the threshold. General Ripper is also a likely candidate. For situations like this there's an Idiot Ball (or Idiot Plot) or Poor Communication Kills to thank for the dire mess of things. Some plots center around avoiding the Godzilla Threshold and keeping the trigger happy person in charge of the "failsafe" from pushing the button. Sometimes, they even succeed.

Note that, as the Real Life section below attempts to show, using such options tends to create more problems; if the solution ultimately causes more/worse problems than you had before, you may have a case of Pyrrhic Victory. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! and Won the War, Lost the Peace can be related in larger-scale stories. Of course, these only apply when the consequences are shown — if they pull it off without problems, you may have an Informed Flaw.

Named for the Godzilla films of the late 1980s and 1990s, where Godzilla was evil again (in contrast to his heroic characterizations during the '60s and '70s), but people were still happy to see him because he was usually fighting something far worse.

Situations of this nature include the Willfully Weak character giving the "World of Cardboard" Speech and turning the Power Limiter off, using the Forbidden Chekhov's Gun, using lethal powers, turning to the Nuclear Option, or casting Summon Bigger Fish. When begged, the All-Powerful Bystander may even be willing to lend a hand. In video games, this is the time to use items that are Too Awesome to Use.

Compare Lesser of Two Evils (which Godzilla Threshold could be a subtrope of), and Enemy Mine, for situations where it may be useful to team up with a lesser foe to combat a far greater mutual threat. Also compare The Tyson Zone, Disproportionate Retribution, and Evil Versus Oblivion (where the "Godzilla" of the situation is likely to be the "Evil"). Contrast The Unfettered, who lives and acts as though the situation is always past the Threshold, even when there's no good reason to do so. On the other axis is Once Is Not Enough, where a character clings to their limits even when they should be beating down the villain with everything they have, and usually pays for it. Batman Grabs a Gun is a subtrope for cases where the threat convinces a character to set aside an otherwise rigorously obeyed personal rule.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Anything that justifies unleashing the eponymous duo of Dirty Pair on a situation. Lampshaded in Adam Warren's original Amerimanga miniseries, Biohazard, by an official leaving a memo about their impending arrival. (For the record, they do, indeed, stop anyone from deliberately releasing a bioweapon, but one canister they were trying to bring as evidence survives an explosion and — accidentally — drops onto the planet in the last panel.)
    Director Goldin: However, despite their —ahh— shortcomings... the facts are simple. If the terrorists do release experimental bioweapons, this planet will become a sterile desert. Whereas, with the involvement of the Dirty Pair, there is a chance — a remote possiblity — that some people may be left alive. We have to play the odds, gentlemen... God help us.
  • In Tenchi Muyo! In Love, this happens when the characters are discussing using a particular superweapon that is designed to destroy galaxies and galactic clusters on a being that is maybe 30 ft tall (but extremely powerful). At the beginning of the movie, it's a non option, but by the end things are so bad that they use it anyway, albeit with a huge setup.
  • Slayers crosses the threshold in three Big Bad situations, just before Lina lets fly with a Giga Slave. Said spell carries a significant risk of ENDING THE UNIVERSE should she lose control of it.
  • Hellsing: Releasing the last of Alucard's restraints in the final arc is only done after London is overrun by baby-eating vampire Nazi super-soldiers and fanatical Catholic secret service armies. The results, while utterly horrifying (essentially feeding most of the souls in London, human or otherwise, to Alucard) cannot be argued with.
    • Integra's father Arthur considered using Alucard at all to be crossing the threshold and sealed him away after WW2, declaring Alucard to be "medicine too strong to be used for every ailment".
  • Humanity in GunBuster, once they realized that the Space Monsters were coming to Sol, famously resorted to transforming Jupiter into a Moon-sized Black Hole Bomb as part of Operation Carneades: piloting said bomb into the center of the Milky Way, where they would hit the Button. The result was a monstrous implosion that consumed the entire Galactic Core, along with roughly 65% of the Galaxy.
  • In the sequel, DieBuster, the only hope humanity had to defeat the last Space Monster was to use the Earth itself as a weapon.
  • It's said on several occasions in Neon Genesis Evangelion that the Angel attacks had pushed humanity's situation past the Threshold, necessitating the use of the Eva units. The JSSDF only authorized the deployment of the Evas when Sachiel took an N2 mine to the face and survived. After the first three Angels, they even funded the construction of their own nuclear-powered Humongous Mecha. The reality of the situation is not so simple.
  • One Piece:
    • The Buster Call is a villainous version of this. When a situation is so threatening to the World Government that even the slightest leak would cause irreparable damage, the Buster Call is summoned. Ten massive warships essentially glass the target island, wiping out any trace of whatever threat they were called to deal with. They can't be called off, either, not even by the person who summoned them in the first place.
    • The blueprints for Pluton were passed down through a line of shipwrights. Pluton is a legendary battleship that could wipe out whole islands in a single shot, one of three relics from a long-lost civilization. So why do the blueprints exist? Because the weapons are still out there, and if some idiot were to find and unleash them, an opposing power would be needed. During the Enies Lobby arc, Franky burns the blueprints, claiming that it would be too dangerous to let them exist if Spandam was going to keep seeking them out. Plus, he just found out that Nico Robin, the only scholar who can decipher the ancient records to find the weapon was less a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and more a Broken Bird. It was a gamble, to be sure, as Spandam could just use Robin to get Pluton, but Franky was betting on the Straw Hats saving her from the World Government.
    • This also occurs in the Impel Down arc. By the time the arc is in full swing, two groups of people are on the attack while trying to break out of the prison and another group is trying to break in. With two of those groups containing people only Magellan himself is capable of stopping and one being a Zerg Rush, Magellan gambles and releases Shiryu, a former Warden that was put on death row due to being severely Ax-Crazy, thinking that Shiryu might stop some of the prisoners. This severely bites Magellan in the ass later, as Shiryu later saves Blackbeard from being poisoned and joins Blackbeard's crew, which leads to Magellan receiving a massive beating at their hands offscreen. It didn't even do anything to help stop the jailbreaks.
    • In the Fishman Island Arc, when Hody Jones reveals more and more of who he is and what he plans to do, the citizens eventually turn to calling on Luffy to stop him. What makes this a Godzilla Threshold is that their resident soothsayer, who is never, ever wrong, predicted that Luffy would destroy all of Fishman Island, not to mention Luffy being an extremely notorious pirate. They still decided that they would be better off with him than Hody.
    • In the Dressrosa Arc, Doflamingo is forced into this when Luffy and crew shatter The Masquerade that he had been using to keep control of the country while maintaining his underground deals as The Don of perhaps the entire world. He can't let the truth get out, so he uses his Devil Fruit's ultimate technique: the Birdcage, imprisoning the entire island and letting nothing in or out. But that's not the extent of it: in order to ensure that nobody ever learns the truth, he plans to kill everyone on the island.
    • Pre-timeskip, Chopper's Monster Point was this as, despite it being powerful, it was uncontrollable and caused Chopper to attack friends as well as enemies, not to mention dangerously depleted Chopper's energy. This was lampshaded in the Fishman Island Arc where, after seeing Chopper in the form, Usopp cried that the situation hadn't reached a point for Chopper to lose control of himself...before Chopper revealed he was in control.
  • Bleach: Yhwach is a being that exists by destroying the souls of others. He places shards of his soul into people, which helps empower them to achieve their full potential. Yhwach then claims back his shard, gaining the victim's powers. It empowers him and kills the victim. A thousand years ago, he was so powerful, even Yamamoto could not kill him; he was placed inside a seal that could only contain him for a thousand years. When he becomes fully active again, his determination to destroy the Soul King, the lynchpin of all worlds, threatens existence itself. His invasion of Soul Society therefore sets off a series of extreme measures that the Shinigami would never willingly undertake under normal circumstances:
    • Yamamoto has a picture on his wall of a humanoid figure wreathed in flames. As a young child, Kyouraku once asked what it was a picture of. Yamamoto explained that, in the past, that monster appeared when Soul Society was desperate need, but made things worse instead of better. He adds that monster ever appears again, Yamamoto will not survive. It's strongly implied to be Yamamoto's last fight against Yhwach a thousand years ago. When Yhwach returns, Yamamoto doesn't hesitate to use the Bankai even Aizen couldn't make him unleash. The Bankai wreathes his body in flames and churns out a heat equal to that of the Sun's core. It immediately begins destroying all moisture - even in people's bodies and the atmosphere; when active, the Bankai has to be used quickly or it will destroy the world just by accident. As prophecised, Yamamoto does indeed not survive the Bankai fight.
    • When Zaraki joined the Gotei 13, the Central 46 forbade Yamamoto from formally training him. Without formal training, Zaraki is capable of wreaking havoc in Soul Society in his pursuit of challenging fights. He is so powerful in an untrained state that he's a match for even Captains in full Bankai. With combat training, the Central 46 fears he will be unstoppable if he ever rebels. Yhwach's return forces the Central 46 to rescind that order. Yhwach's killing of Yamamoto is what forces them to acknowledge that they need something — anything — of equal or greater power to Yamamoto if they're to survive Yhwach.
    • Aizen's attempt to reach the Royal Realm fails, and he's only imprisoned instead of executed because he is immortal and therefore impossible to kill. He has to be locked inside a special prison which incarcerates only those uniquely dangerous criminals who are too powerful to be killable. Yhwach's invasion of the Royal Realm is easy compared with Aizen's failed attempt. He then defeats the five members of the Royal Guard, whose combined strength is greater than that of the entire six-thousand strong Gotei 13 and succeeds in destroying the Soul King, beginning the destruction of all the worlds. Kyouraku, who replaces the deceased Yamamoto as leader of the Gotei 13 and who convinced the Central 46 to empower Zaraki, convinces the Central 46 to allow him to do one more impossible thing: unleash Aizen to help defeat Yhwach. Aizen's power turns out to be a key ingredient in how Yhwach is eventually defeated.
  • In Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Chief Chujo is a walking example of this trope; the mere suggestion of him breaking out his powers to use in the fight is enough to send fear and panic through his own allies, most of whom remember "the last time" he used them. When he does, we see that they are justified in their fears.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • The Athena Exclamation is taboo. It is a technique performed by three Gold Saints of Athena, who focus their Cosmo into a burst of power as powerful as the Big Bang and deliver it on a single opponent. But by the "Hades" arc, Saga, Shura, and Camus perform it because they figure they are already damned by their alliance with Hades. Then Athena's loyal Saints use another Athena Exclamation against them because it is the only thing that can stop it. It was claimed that two colliding Athena Exclamations can wipe out the whole universe.
    • In the Sanctuary arc, the bronze knights learned to use their seventh sense. Shun decided it was necessary to use it after a "World of Cardboard" Speech.
  • Digimon Tamers has Juggernaut (Shaggai in the original Japanese version). Before his HeelĖFace Turn, Corrupt Corporate Executive Yamaki used this devastating program in an attempt to destroy all Digimon by creating a black hole between their worlds. He had no intention of using it again after he saw the lightÖbut then the D-Reaper came to the real world. Immune to destruction, they had to infuse Terriermon with the program and send him and the other Tamers into the D-Reaper's core in order to activate it, regressing the D-Reaper back to a program less complicated than a calculator. But using the program resulted in the Tamers' partners being forced to return to the Digital World to avoid being deleted, meaning that they may never see each other again.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
  • In GaoGaiGar FINAL, we get the Goldion Crusher, used on a sun that is also an infinite regeneration machine keeping alive an evil solar system.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • The presence of the Book of Darkness in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, which kills planets, prompts the Bureau to equip the Athra with the Arc-En-Ciel, a weapon capable of wiping a significant chunk of Japan off the map.
    • The rise of the Saint's Cradle during the JS Incident in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S is the only occasion when all five Aces' Power Limiters were removed simultaneously. While objectively speaking, the Aces aren't really much of a danger to anyone except the bad guys, a combination of regulations and office politics prevent Section Six from having unrestrained access to more magical power than Hayate's rank allows her to command, at least until the situation is completely out of hand already.
      • Speaking of the Saint's Cradle, it should be noted that the entire reason that TSAB was forced to let all of their strongest mages fight at full power as well as bringing their entire navy to destroy it is that it's a giant battleship that can raze the entire planet to the ground should it reach a certain distance up in the atmosphere. This is also the same battleship that was key to ending the Unification Wars during the Ancient Belkan era. To elaborate, the wars during the Ancient Belkan era have gotten to the point that the planet and its people was being slowly destroyed by the various factions' use of chemical and biological warfare. Seeking to end the war, the Saint King Alliance decided to use the Saint's Cradle, which indeed resulted in the end of that era.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto forms the 4th tail, the 6th tail, the 8th tail, and then proceeds to willfully tear off the seal keeping the Kyubi in in order to defeat Pain, who had killed Jiraiya and (albeit indirectly) Kakashi, destroyed the village, and severely wounded Hinata, in addition to having him at his mercy.
    • With Madara being immune to ninjutsu and genjutsu, and the only senjutsu users being incapacitated, only taijutsu can harm him at all. But Madara is also ludicrously durable, so Guy opens the Gate of Death.
  • InuYasha: Such a situation occurs in the very first episode. With Mistress Centipede on the warpath, and having obtained the Shikon Jewel for herself, Kagome has no choice but to free Inuyasha from Kikyo's seal to fight her off. Inuyasha slaughters Mistress Centipede in mere seconds before attacking Kagome in order to take the Jewel for himself.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • The Spirit Bomb is largely considered to be this ultimate technique. King Kai (or North Kai) described it as this trope to Goku, explaining that because the Spirit Bomb involves collecting the energy from the environment around the user, up to and including the energy released from the Sun (or any nearby star to the planet), using it has the risk of destroying the planet the user is on, and advised against its usage unless the situation is dire. If things have gone so far south that the person Goku is fighting not only is too strong, but his victory threatens either the world, the galaxy, or even the universe, Goku will use the Spirit Bomb, risking the planet's very destruction along with his opponent, and himself. One proposed gambit near the end of the series involved convincing every person on Earth to sacrifice energy in order to power it up against against the villain that had been casually blowing up planets left and right. It works, but barely, and everyone on Earth is exhausted as a result.
      • Along with the Spirit Bomb is the Kaio-Ken, a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that could increase a user's power by multiple levels. Goku is told to only use x2, but fighting Vegeta forces him to go x3, then x4 during a Beam-O-War between the Kamehameha and the Galick Gun. When he's fighting Frieza, Tien and Yamcha are shocked when King Kai tells him that he's been using the Kaio-Ken the entire time and Frieza's still too powerful.
    • In the Frieza Saga, with said tyrant mere minutes from arriving and killing everyone, Krillin is convinced that the best thing to do to potentially stop him is to use their last wish to make Vegeta immortal. And at this point in the series Vegeta was still in his ultra-violent Blood Knight stage and would very likely kill the rest of the Z Warriors he'd allied with once they weren't of any more use to him. The only reason he ultimately doesn't get it is that at the last second before Dende can complete the wish, Guru, the Namekian who created the Dragon Balls, dies of grief, which causes Porunga to disappear.
    • In the Buu Saga, Potara fusion becomes this for Goku and Vegeta, both very proud fighters. Goku was willing to fuse with both his own son, and when no other option looked available, even Mr. Satan forever just to get a chance to defeat Buu. As for Vegeta, when told that this method is permanent, initially refuses until he's told that Buu had killed his family.
    • Goku being revived in the first place was this to the Kais. Old Kai gave his life to bring Goku back to life after Gotenks and Piccolo were absorbed by Buu and was smacking Gohan around despite his huge power-up. Until this moment, a Kai has never given their life to a mere mortal.
    • Vegeta's revival also qualifies. With the fight against Buu getting more and more dire, King Yemma and Fortuneteller Baba pull Vegeta's soul out of Hell, restore his physical body, and send him to Earth to help Goku out.
    • During the Android Saga, Dr. Gero activates the rebellious 17 and 18 once his attempt to defeat the Z Fighters himself went south and he had them literally at his door. Oh, sure, they easily manage to defeat the Z Fighters... but not before turning on Gero and killing him.
    • Piccolo despises the idea of merging with Kami to the point that he says he wouldn't do it, even to fight Frieza. Once the androids prove too much for him, he swallows his pride and goes to Kami's Lookout to do just that.
    • Frieza's revival in Resurrection 'F' is only brought about by his empire falling apart following his death, and his minions, while not happy about the idea, see his fear factor as the only way to restore it to its former glory. Sadly, Frieza is concerned only with getting revenge on Goku, and goes so far as to kill one of his minions simply for suggesting that he focus on rebuilding his empire and leave Goku alone.
    • Frieza's men going to Earth also count. Before the empire began to completely fall apart, they were searching for New Namek to no avail. They wanted to avoid Goku at all costs, and when they finally went to Earth, stayed just long enough to find the Dragon Balls and make their wish before getting the hell off the planet.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, we're shown the Super Kaio-Ken, a fusion of the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan/Super Saiyan Blue form and the Kaio-Ken technique. The technique is insanely powerful and pushing it to x10 makes Beerus, the God of Destruction, go Oh, Crap! However, because it's an incomplete technique, it's extremely dangerous as it has a 90% failure rate, a short timespan, if done wrong, it could kill Goku, and even when it's done right, it can render Goku unable to effectively use his ki for some time after. He brings it out to full face the equally powerful Hit, who was improving himself at a frightening rate.
    • Upon Future Zamasu having a Villainous Breakdown as a result of the Mafuba seal, he decides not to play around anymore and decides to fuse with Black Goku. The latter, despite having the situation under control obliges and as a result, Fusion Zamasu has been born.
    • Despite unleashing the power of Vegito and Trunks somehow harnessing the power of the Spirit Bomb, Zamasu still won't go down and threatens the multiverse by merging with it itself. This forces Goku to call in the Future version of the God of Gods Zen-O, who decides this universe is just too corrupt and just eradicates it.
    • Back in the original Dragon Ball, Pilaf realized he could never take over the world with Goku around (or, using the Dragon Balls, keep it), so he resorted to track down the rice cooker where the Demon King Piccolo had been sealed in centuries before. King Piccolo is an Ax-Crazy Card-Carrying Villain with more power than anyone in the world was known to have at the time, and if he got back his youth he'd become even stronger. King Piccolo being called a Demon King for a reason, his reward to the Pilaf Gang for freeing him and helping restore his youth is to force them to jump from their own airship without parachutes.
      • Muten Roshi's original plan to deal with King Piccolo had been to recover the Dragon Balls, including the two Piccolo had already in his possession, and wish him dead. Upon witnessing Piccolo swallowing his two Dragon Balls specifically to prevent such a trick, Muten resorted to the Mafuba, the same technique that had sealed Piccolo away, fully knowing it would kill him and seal those Dragon Balls away with the demon.
    • With Majin Buu asleep, and thus unable to participate in the Universal Survival Tournament, the Z fighters are forced to attempt to recruit the last person anybody expected; Frieza!
    • Jaco the Galactic Patrolman introduces the Galactic Patrol's Extinction Bomb, capable of killing off any life form on the planet. It's used if the danger on the planet is that bad... Or whatever is attacking it is unstoppable, as this quick death will be faster and less painful than the attacking enemy murdering everyone. When he came to Earth to deal with an impending Saiyan invasion, Jaco had orders to use it if the Saiyan was too strong (that is, an adult as opposed to a child)... And he admitted it would have killed only the Earthlings, as the Saiyan are immune.
  • Although a little drawn out, this is used in a minor way in Haruhi Suzumiya at the end of the "Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya" arc. After Haruhi spends a few days royally screwing with reality during the filming of the culture festival video, Kyon restores reality by making Haruhi read a disclaimer, thus distancing the movie from reality. In the epilogue, Kyon tries to make future events easier by flat-out telling Haruhi the identities of the SOS members (which was theorized to possibly cause her to rewrite reality on a conscious level), only to be be completely ignored.
    • In The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon reveals that he has a Godzilla in breaking The Masquerade to Haruhi if things ever get bad enough. Considering this risks destabilizing reality, it's not something he says lightly.
  • This has come up once or twice in Rosario + Vampire when unleashing Tsukune's uncontrollable - and potentially irreversible - ghoul aspect was the only way to give the final beat-down to the current Big Bad.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The council declares the events of the S-class arc this, with Lahar saying they'll probably have to resort to using their Kill Sat, the only weapon they have that can effectively take out one of the top three guilds and the Ultimate Evil Zeref. That the area they'd fire down at happens to belong to an be populated by a large portion of the guild is something of an unfortunate bonus.
    • When they do fire the Kill Sat on Jellal's Tower of Heaven, in order to destroy it before he can use it to revive Black Wizard Zeref. It backfires horribly when they realize that the Tower of Heaven is actually a giant lacrima, and Jellal was counting on them firing it so he could absorb the energy.
    • After Jackal of Tartarus assassinates the entire Magic Council, including Laharl, Doranbalt frees the entire Oracion Seis Dark Guild from prison in exchange for Cobra's intel on Tartarus, but he also takes measures to nip any future problems in the bud by sending Jellal and Meredy after them.
    • It's later revealed that Etherion and Face were Ishgar's deterrents against an invasion from the western continent's Alvarez Empire which otherwise completely outclassed Ishgar in terms of military might. Too bad the actions of the antagonists of the previous arcs resulted in the loss of those weapons.
  • In Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, the US has a backup plan in case of BETA landfall in Alaska called "Red Shift". It involves setting off several hundred hydrogen bombs, which would create a strait and a new line of defense, and allow the US to shore up a new defense line. Unfortunately, this plan would also kill just about anyone living in Alaska at the time, namely the main characters as well as the remnants of the Soviet Union.
  • In the last couple of episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Walpurgisnacht is busily rampaging around and destroying the city — much like Godzilla. Mami, Sayaka, and Kyoko are dead, and Homura is on the verge of becoming a witch, so Madoka decides to make a dubiously legitimate contract specifically to eliminate all witches despite the risk that the entire planet could be wiped out if things didn't go how she planned. It works out pretty well, but the risk was certainly there, since in a previous timeline, Madoka's own uncontrollable "potential" turned her into a planet-destroying superwitch almost immediately after making a contract.
  • Homura's final battle with Walpurgisnacht eventually boils down to this. Homura is capable of exterminating witches with her time-stop powers coupled with a magazine clip of bullets and a grenade. When she fights Walpurgisnacht, she brings out what is basically the entire JSDF arsenal all at once and doesn't waste any time throwing all of it at the giant witch. Too bad for her, Walpurgisnacht is nigh-unkillable by anyone other than Madoka.
  • Muhyo and Roji:
    • Against Face-Ripper Sophie, as Rio has betrayed them and Muhyo is still weak from the previous battle, Muhyo has to take a potentially poisonous tempering elixir from Biko to recover the tempering he needs to fight.
    • In order to defeat Teeki, Muhyo decides to form a contract with Hades, one of the Six Kings of the Underworld, eliciting shocked reactions from his friends Yoichi and Biko, who don't even think it possible.
  • In Getter Robo Ark, Hayato decides to open "The Gates of Hell" — the containment cell holding the gathered Getter Energies of the ever-evolving Getter Robo G.
  • In Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3, using the Prism Flower for one last attack against Black Hole is this, knowing that never becoming Pretty Cure again and losing their fairy companions is better than letting him win. Things get better after the credits, though.
  • In The Animatrix: The Second Renaissance, in a mix of Godzilla Threshold and Too Dumb to Live, mankind decides to implement Operation Dark Storm, which would block out the sun with no apparent ways to reverse the effects. This cuts off the machines' power supply, but also kills all vegetation and phytoplankton, destroying the foundation for the Earth's biosphere (Hence the Too Dumb to Live, as things humans need require the sun). They were willing to perform a Class 4 Apocalypse, without any logical thinking or objections, just to beat the machines. Because of this bad planning, this doesn't work, and mankind eventually loses the war anyway.
  • Nasuverse: The Counter Force works In Mysterious Ways to counter possible threats to humanity (Alaya) or Earth's (Gaia) existence. If the subtle method fails and there are no mortal agents left to counter a threat to humanity, Alaya's Counter Guardians are dispatched to eliminate the threat and everyone even slightly related to it. Counter Guardians will destroy entire nations to complete their mission. On the other hand, if the threat is one to the Earth, instead, the Counter Force manifests through Gaia instead. Gaia's Counter Force started out with the True Ancestors (with the last one around being capable of destroying the world on a whim, if she were so inclined), and culminated in a dog-like monster known as Primate Murder, said to be capable of killing more humans in a faster timeframe than anything else in existence. And yes, it is possible that the two aspects of the Counter Force could end up in all-out conflict with each other; the result would likely be The End of the World as We Know It (such an occurrence might be the reason the planet is dead in Angel Notes). In most timelines, however, no threat has escalated to that point.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Moon pulling out the Silver Crystal to pulverize the Big Bad is usually a death sentence. The first time, it was. The second time, a second Crystal spared her.
    • This is the express purpose of Sailor Saturn, who has the power to destroy the world should it be overrun by evil forces.
  • In A Certain Magical Index:
    • The threat of Archangel Gabriel during the Angel Fall arc is so great that Kaori Kanzaki opens the fight by revealing her magic name to unleash her full power. She normally considers doing this a last resort and makes a point to avoid doing this, since she fears her own power. She has been compared to a nuke when going all out.
    • Generally speaking, Touma is unwilling to rely on the full power of Imagine Breaker, which has only been released by accident a couple of times. Even during World War III, against Fiamma of the Right, he suppressed it rather than use it. But at the climax of New Testament 13, facing a quite literal Physical God who is currently riding a meteor toward Academy City, Touma has finally run out of options and seems to be preparing to purposefully unleash that power for the first time in the franchise. Fortunately, the threat is dealt with by others before he has to go that far.
  • The human race in Attack on Titan lives here and has for over a century. Every side and faction in the story embraces methods that are normally horrifying and even downright wrong, including the heroes, although some are more evil than others, and it's all in the service of their own causes. It's much less morally grey than that all sounds. The bottom line is the heroes resort to things 'heroes never should', for practical or moral reasons, because there's no other choice.
  • In Magical Girl Apocalypse, faced with a Zombie Apocalypse and homicidal magical girls, the survivors resort to releasing a corrupt, rapist cop who had already tried to rape and murder them when they first met him from custody, since he's the only one among them who can competently wield a gun. Now that he's free, they have to weather his horrible nature, since he's completely unrepentant and only helping them because he wants to live, and will gladly kill or abandon them as soon as he thinks it's the better option.
  • In Episode 5 of Plastic Memories, the retrieval team's failure to locate and find Marcia prompts their bosses to call up R-Security to assist. Unlike the retrieval teams who attempt to talk the Wanderer down, R-Security's only concern is to shoot them to death. This doesn't go well with either Michiru or Kazuki when they find this out.
  • Pokťmon: In the episode "Pallet Party Panic", when Pikachu was taken by Team Rocket, Ash was forced to release Charizard to chase after their balloon since he had no other options left (the only other flier on Ash's team was incapacitated by Poison Sting). However, he refused to rescue Pikachu until Team Rocket destroyed a fruit stand, forcing Charizard into action.
    • Evolution is also considered at several points to be crossing the threshold. Usually, when a Pokémon evolves, it's often under more dire circumstances than in the games, such as when facing a tough trainer or a region's villain team. Even more, if a Pokémon refuses to do so, it instead manages to cross it a different way by surpassing its limit and learning a powerful new move.
    • Pikachu disliking going into his Poké Ball may be usually be a Running Gag, but it's often considered to be this whenever he's told to go in there; notably in Pokťmon: I Choose You! when Ash is able to get Pikachu into the Poké Ball right before he's disintegrated by the attacks of a bunch of mind-controlled Pokémon to protect him from the same fate.
  • In Saiyuki, any situation that justifies taking off Goku's diadem and unleashing the Seiten Taisei. In that form, he is Nigh Invulnerable, capable of healing himself with Earth's energies, and has an easy time beating the crap out of any enemy, but is also Ax-Crazy and unable to recognize his friends. As a result, the diadem only gets deliberately removed (as opposed to breaking) twice: once by Goku himself when he is forced to fight Kougaiji to get the antidote for Sanzo, and another time by Hakkai and Gojyo in a desperate attempt to revive Goku after the latter is mortally wounded.
    • Hakkai removing his own Power Limiters to stop the Seiten Taisei after the latter incident also qualifies. While he has fought a couple of battles without them before, during this one he seriously risked succumbing to the Minus Wave and going Ax-Crazy himself (to the point Gojyo has to interfere when Hakkai starts to enjoy violence a little too much). Hakkai's youkai powers ultimately prove not to be enough against the Seiten Taisei; he only wins the battle by teaming up with Gat to turn the Seiten Taisei's abilities against their user, which also nearly kills Hakkai in the process.
  • Blue Exorcist practically starts with this being crossed by Rin as he chooses to go against his foster father's warnings against breaking the seal on his demonic nature to attempt to save him and get out of the Gehenna Gate they are both stuck in. He fails to save his father but frees himself from the Gate by destroying it with his unleashed power. He then later goes on to do it again 12 chapters later to save his friends from his powerful half-brother Amaimon. He succeeds, but nearly gets his head chopped off for existing by the True Cross Order, only saved by his other half-brother Mephisto arguing a case for him.
  • Death Note: Having run out of plans and been exposed as Kira, Light begs Ryuk to help him by writing the names of Near and the task force in his Death Note. Instead, Ryuk writes Light's own name in the Death Note, outright saying that since Light was desperate enough to turn to him for help instead of having a backup plan, then it was all over for him.
  • In Hellstar Remina, the situation is so dire that the Godzilla Threshold is crossed almost immediately. An unspecified nuclear armed country lets fly with the nuclear weapons as soon as Remina shows up near the Earth. Unfortunately, it fails spectacularly.
  • Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! feels this way about the Egyptian God Cards. Unlike Kaiba, who's obsessed with power, or Marik, who loves destruction, Yugi is fully aware of how dangerous the cards are and only uses them against his most serious opponents.
    • The Wicked God Cards note  from the Spin-off Manga Yu-Gi-Oh! R were developed as a countermeasure against the Egyptian God Cards, should the latter end up in the wrong hands, with each Wicked monster being able to counter its Egyptian counterpart's effects. Though conceived for this purpose, they were never created, not only out of fear they would be misused, but unlike the Egyptian Gods, which chose their wielders, any duelist could use a Wicked God, at cost of the wielder being corrupted by the God's evil influence. Eventually, the main villains of this story would end up having the Wicked Gods created to use against Yami Yugi.
  • In Macross Zero. the UN force involved in the conflict deploys a Destroid Monster equipped with reaction weapons when the Bird Human goes on rampage and proves unstoppable with normal means, fully knowing the fallout may well make the nearby Mayan Island uninhabitable — and that they would die all this way, either killed by the blast or in the landing after the thing keeping their seagoing ships at hundreds of meters in the air was destroyed. Fortunately, Shin had calmed Sarah (who was in control of the Bird Human) just as the Monster was being deployed, so the blast is contained and the ships are deposited on the sea gently.
  • Interestingly, in One-Punch Man, it's the antagonists who frequently have to cross the point of no return when they realize how freakishly powerful Saitama is. It never works, to Saitama's dismay.
    • Dr. Genus, leader of the House of Evolution, unleashes as his last card — his most dangerous creation, Asura Rhino, a powerful but extremely unstable mutant that he had kept locked away after deeming it a failure. The only reason Asura Rhino lasted more than 2 seconds was because Saitama wasn't really all that focused on the fight.
    • Boros, the leader of the alien invaders, and easily one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy, was forced to use a technique that drastically augmented his strength at the cost of the shortening of his lifespan during his battle against Saitama and threw him at the moon. Saitama "simply" jumped back to Earth without a scratch, so Boros followed with his ultimate, planet-busting attack... which Saitama dispelled with a single blow, the shockwave of which actually killed Boros.
    • For Saitama, it's when he has to use his Serious Series moves that the threat has become dangerous enough. To elaborate, Saitama is so obscenely strong that every opponent explodes into a mass of gore when he punches them, despite the fact that he rarely put effort in his attacks. Serious Series is when he decides to actually exert effort into his attacks. One of the times it was used was during the above fight with Boros, in which Saitama split the sky for miles after punching Boros' ultimate attack and killing him.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman Vampire trilogy, Batman is turned into a vampire, and when he succumbs to his bloodlust by killing the Joker, he has Alfred and Gordon stake him to prevent him from killing anyone else. In the final story, Crimson Mist, a massive crime wave has hit Gotham in Batman's absence, causing Alfred to return to Batman's resting place and remove the stake from Bats' heart in the hopes of giving Gotham a savior again.note  Unfortunately, Batman, having spent months fully conscious but immobile as his body decayed and his bloodlust ran rampant, has been driven completely insane by his condition, and does so by slaughtering the crooks for their blood.
    • Gordon crosses a similar threshold near the end, willingly forming an Enemy Mine with Two-Face and Killer Croc after Batman has killed all the other villains.
  • In Final Crisis, it takes the impending end of existence, facing Darkseid at the height of his power and with no other options left for Batman to finally use a gun.
  • In Batman Eternal, things have gotten so bleak for Gotham and Batman's still clueless as to who's pulling the strings and ruining his city and his allies. He seeks out several Big Bads of previous New 52 Batman-related story arcs including Riddler, Ra's al Ghul, and the remnant of the Court of Owls, not only to challenge them on their relation to the massive attack on Gotham, but for help finding the true culprits. If the Joker had been present during the events of Eternal, it's highly likely Batman would've gone to him.
  • In The Ultimates, Nick Fury gives "Permission to traumatize Banner" when things have gotten that bad during a Chitauri invasion.
  • In another Hulk-related example, during World War Hulk, Tony Stark gives his second-in-command the authority to send the whole of Manhattan into the Negative Zone if things with the Hulk get out of hand. Meanwhile, they repeatedly attempt to bring in The Sentry to fight the Hulk, and Doctor Strange sees fit to drink in the essence of a universe-destroying demon. Both of these options end up making the situation worse.
  • Doctor Strange has to pull out these options quite a bit. In one memorable multi-part storyline from the late 60's, he went through a whole chain of these; to defeat Dormammu's sister, Umar, he had to free the awesomely powerful demon Zom; to defeat Zom, he had to yank out some of its hair, which spread evil magic all over the world and also summoned the Living Tribunal, who threatened to destroy Earth unless Strange could remove all the evil magic he had unleashed; to gather together all the evil magic, he had to give it all to Baron Mordo, giving him a tremendous power-up; to defeat the empowered Mordo, he had to use an Artifact of Doom given to him by the Obviously Evil entity Nebulos, which gave all the evil power to it instead. Finally, he aided the Living Tribunal in defeating Nebulos, and the Tribunal then declared Earth was safe, ending the chain.
  • Large-scale Blackest Night example: the heroes release the Parallax entity and allow it to repossess Hal Jordan in order to defeat Black Lantern Spectre. This is the same entity who nearly destroyed the entire universe with Jordan the first time. And then Wrath of the First Lantern sees the heroes unleash not only Parallax again, but also Nekron, the Big Bad of Blackest Night, to defeat Volthoom.
  • It's implied that this is Commissioner Gordon's attitude toward Batman, at least in the early adventures before they became friends. In a Wretched Hive like Gotham, where crime and corruption are rampant, and you can count the number of good cops and competent authority figures on one hand, letting this weirdo who likes to dress up like a bat and fight crime lend a hand couldn't make things much worse...
  • Superman:
    • The Doomsday Protocol was a backup plan in case of a threat similar to Doomsday (i.e., it can't be stopped by the JLA combined), which was meant to avert this trope. It was never brought up again after Superman's return.
    • From Superman: Red Son: "What have we got to lose? Release all those supervillains Luthor created over the years!" Doomsday was set loose on the National Mall in hopes of damage control.
    • In H'el on Earth, Superman fears he may have to break his moral code and kill H'el to stop him from trying to resurrect Krypton at the expense of Earth. However, it's Supergirl who defeats H'el.
    • In The Supergirl Saga, Superman is forced to break his moral code to execute three Kryptonian criminals. He... doesn't take it very well.
    • In Superman: Doomed, Superman is being turned into a Doomsday-like out-of-control monster. Fearing hurting anybody, he leaves Earth. Supergirl -who back then was using her rage to protect the galaxy as a Red Lantern- suggests he merely needs to learn how to channel his anger properly and takes him to a planet which is being devoured by a planet-eater so he can cut loose. When Superman objects he doesn't want to make everything worse she asks "How?"
      Superman: They're... evacuating?
      Supergirl: Yes. Something down there's destroying the Moon. Everyone here's about to die... unless you help them. What's the problem, Kal?
      Superman: I... I don't want to make things worse.
      Supergirl: I don't see how that's remotely possible...
  • In Avengers Assemble, when Thanos shows up on Earth looking for the Ultimate Nullifier, Iron Man calls the president and tells him to invoke the Cosmic Protocols (which are only for when the destruction of the planet is possible; Iron Man calls this "DEFCON 1000"). They then proceed to detonate the atomic core of a helicarrier on top of Thanos, nearly killing the Avengers, certainly killing some of Thanos' lackeys, and barely inconveniencing Thanos.
  • The opening arc of Jonathan Hickman's New Avengers is the discovery of a chain of collapsing universes, which begin when two parallel Earths 'incur' into each other and can be slowed if one of the Earths is destroyed. The Illuminati agree that this crosses the Godzilla Threshold, with a single dissenter who is promptly expelled from the group. But when confronted with the reality of an entire planet of people dying, the Illuminati ultimately realize they can't stand back and let them die.
  • Nick Fury's worst case scenario plan for if Doctor Doom ever gets too out of hand is to drop the Incredible Hulk on one side of Latveria and The Punisher on the other, and see who gets to the middle first.
  • In the Crossed story arc The Fatal Englishman, the last surviving soldiers in Britain have agreed that the only sane reaction to the Crossed virus is to set off a base full of chemical weapons and hope enough of the uninfected survivors (which they estimate at about 50,000, from a population of 60 million) have access to biohazard gear to rebuild in the aftermath.
  • In the IDW Publishing Godzilla comic, Boxer, former SAS soldier and leader of the team that captured most of the kaiju, decides it's time to free the monsters to battle Hedorah, Gigan, Space Godzilla, and Monster X when they appear and attack.
  • In Supergod, an Eldritch Abomination is released in a desperate attempt to get it to communicate with another Eldritch Abomination who's wreaking havoc on the world.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • When Sonic is roboticized into Mecha Sonic, the Freedom Fighters are forced to do the same to Knuckles, though they take precautions to make sure he keeps his free will.
    • The "Enerjak Rising" storyline was just one big conga line of Thresholds being reached. When Knuckles couldn't be found, the first thing they did was stop Dr. Eggman and called a truce in order to capture Enerjak. Sally was barely able to contact G.U.N. and they ended up sending their Threshold, Shadow the Hedgehog. When Enerjak proved to be too much, Shadow reached his own and removed his limiters in an attempt to stop him. Locke grabs Sonic and Julie-Su and gives them a new version of the Chaos Siphon in an attempt to stop Enerjak, knowing it'll kill him (and knowing it's Knuckles in reality), but Sonic smashes it. Then, Sonic throws himself on the cursed Master Emerald in an attempt to become Super Sonic (which works). All of this leads to the last Threshold: Locke sacrificing himself to end the curse and rescue Knuckles.
  • Transformers: Stormbringer:
    • The mere presence of Thunderwing is enough for Megatron to order his flagship to hit Cybertron with everything they have. Even the Predacons balk a little at this order. For that matter, Thunderwing's original rampage resulted in the Autobots and Decepticons resorting to Enemy Mine.
    • A smaller scale version occurs in Spotlight: Arcee, where the Decepticon siege of Garrus-9 is bad enough that Jetfire and Fortress Maximus decide to release Arcee in order to prevent the Decepticons getting their hands on Monstructor. While the Cons are still able do so, her presence does insure that they're driven off before they can slaughter everyone else.
  • An issue of the original 1980s GI Joe comic had a Cobra base at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico using ultrasonics to kill the local sea life. The base was so heavily armored that the government almost called in a nuclear strike against it. Averted at the last minute when someone realized they could just drop enough conventional explosives to achieve the same force.
  • While so much as looking at Eldritch Abominations in Death Vigil is enough to drive a normal person mad, the sight of Mia going One-Winged Angel will outright kill them. This is part of the reason why the Pale Court launches its attack in the middle of downtown New York City; the presence of so many innocent witnesses hamstrings the Vigil by preventing Mia from involving herself in the fight, thus stripping them of one of their most powerful assets. However, the Vigil decides the threat presented by the Court's public attack is so great that they have no choice but to unleash her despite the risk of collateral damage.
    • Bernie's nature actually invokes this: No matter how much she might like to, her scythe won't even touch a monster that's below a certain power level. Once again, the Pale Court takes advantage of this by sending a monster to New York that's too far below that threshold, and sends one that she can fight as a distraction to draw her away as part of Maria's plan.
      • Bernie's own One-Winged Angel form falls under this as well; as apparently even her Death Knights can't tolerate the sight of her, so she's only "seen" using it once against a sufficiently powerful threat.
  • Birthright: In the world of Terrenos, there are purifying spirits of light known as Diviners that are summoned to destroy the minions of Lore. However, these are beings of terrifying power who destroy everything on their path, twist nature all around them and possesses innocents and it will not stop until all Lore agents are destroyed. Only madman would think about summoning a diviner because the price is not worth the risk, yet there are those desperate enough to do it anyway.
  • Invoked in Lady Death when a resistance group against the Death Queen are seriously considering releasing Satyricon, a powerful and terrible demon he nearly devastated the the Underrealm and he had to be sealed inside a cave because it was impossible to destroy him. Wargoth, who was responsible for locking him up in the first place, strongly opposes this idea but he is overruled, the rebels in favor say they prefer a quick destruction than a slow one. In the end, they decide to not go through releasing him and Death Queen is later defeated through other means, with that said Satyricon manages to find his own way out...
  • The Boys: Parodying this and Crisis Crossover, the Homelander tells the press that the appearance of a massive alien battlestation is causing every super, hero and villain alike, to go into space to fight it. Naturally, this being The Boys, it's really an excuse for every super to go to Herogasm, a nonstop orgy on a tropical resort.
  • One one particularly bad day in Clean Room, a leader of the anti-demon army is shot. With mere minutes to live, someone proposes allowing a demon to possess the body and use its flesh-shaping abilities to remove the bullet and fix the damage. There is no precedent for trusting a demon, nor any leverage over its result.

    Fan Works 
  • The Nurglite incursion in Age of Strife, which included no less than three Great Unclean Ones, almost drove Mirande to daemon summoning herself in her attempt to stop it.
  • Daemon from the Tamers Forever Series is considered to be such an unbeatable opponent that the Tamers only hope is for Takato to die before Daemon can absorb the power of a god.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire Of Steel, the Scooby Gang is facing a Kryptonian vampire. Since it's mightier than Supergirl -and we're talking about the Pre-Crisis version who was known to kick moons out of and back in orbit here-, the Girl of Steel gets tools capable to kill or banish a Kryptonian and tells the Gang to use them if things go South, no matter what. Note that she's usually against killing but she's willing to make an exception for Zol-Am.
    Buffy: And this is...what?
    Giles: I do believe I know. Iím not quite sure Iím comfortable with it. At all.
    Supergirl: (nodding) These are our two last lines of defense. This is a Phantom Zone ray. Just worry about the white button. If you touch that, whatever you point this at will be instantly banished to the Zone. This one Iíve set to burn out its power element just two minutes after activation. That should prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. If all else fails, use this on Zol-Am. I donít want him back in the Zone. I donít know if he can infect other inmates there with vampirism, and I donít want to find out. If I donít have to.
    Buffy: Yeah. One vamp with powers to change the course of mighty graveyards is all we need for now. And whatís in this little box?
    Supergirl: (grasping her wrist) Donít.
    Giles: I know what is in there. Kryptonite.
    Buffy: Kryptonite? Youíre serious?
    Supergirl: What do you think? If even the Zone projector fails, you have to use this against Zol-Am. It must be in close proximity to him for several minutes to kill him. If it gets knocked too far away, or he manages to fly off, or lead gets between it and him... he can recover. Also, donít expect him to be too pleased.
    Buffy: We canít use that against him while youíre around.
    Supergirl: Buffy. Youíll only use this as a last resort. But if that happens, you will use it whatever the circumstances.
    Buffy: But...
    Supergirl: Whatever the circumstances. Am I clear?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum has two instances of this — first is when Princess Celestia decides to consult Discord about The Bag of Tirek, which has corrupted the Mirror Universe Equestria into carrying out a genocidal campaign against earth and humanity, which he agrees to because even he is disgusted with what Queen Celestia is doing to the humans; second is that humanity has rigged the Yellowstone Supervolcano with several nukes to detonate and likely destroy the world as part of a Taking You with Me plan, if only to avoid living as brainwashed slaves to a xenocidal tyrant.
    • I Am Going To Save And/Or Destroy Equestria: In this alternate universe, Princess Celestia and Nightmare Moon fought each other to a Mutual Kill. Without them, the sun and moon get out of wack and Equestria is overrun by the fiends of Tartarus and other villains. A group of pony survivors decide their only option is to resurrect King Sombra and hope he'll hate the villains for taking over "his" kingdom more than he'll hate them (the resurrection spell requires the subject's remains, so it couldn't be used on Celestia or Luna). Fortunately, the spell brings back Sombra's body with a human named Ambrose's soul in control, and he's willing to help them after getting over the initial shock and confusion.
    • In A Dream of Dawn, Nightmare Moon's reign over Equestria is so disruptive that summoning Discord actually makes life better.
    • The Immortal Game: The Mane Six become so desperate to defeat Titan that Twilight comes up with one final contingency in case the Elements of Harmony fail, or they die before being able to use them. That contingency? Releasing Discord to fight him.
    • Pony POV Series:
      • Celestia comments that The Elders would only directly intervene (rather than through Their children or Avatars) in something happening in mortal reality if it was a threat to all of existence, because that is the only situation where the damage would be greater than that caused by Them entering reality. To put this in perspective, Nightmare Paradox's "Groundhog Day" Loop plan completely screwed up the Dark World timeline and cost countless trillions of lives, and even that wasn't enough for Them to intervene. Such a threshold is finally crossed in the Finale Arc, when Discord's endgame proves terrible enough that Havoc and Entropy, at least, step in to lend aid.
      • It turns out that the Equestrian military has specific protocols in place for situations like this, including Kaiju attacks, that require direct interference from the Princesses. Fittingly, it's called Article 1954.
      • During the Wedding Arc, things get so desperate that Twilight and Cadence seriously consider the possibility of releasing Discord to fight Chrysalis, but only as an absolute last resort. Of course, they don't realize that he's already free...
      • As the heroes prepare for one final battle with Discord, Celestia persuades Mother Deer/Harmony to upgrade the Elements of Harmony to their full potential. She comments that normally, she would not have done this for several years, until the Mane Six had fully mastered them, but considering they're about to face Discord, they need all the help they can get.
    • The Powers Of Harmony: The use of forbidden Lifeforce magic is considered to be an absolute last resort, due to the fact that it leaves the user an addict who grows more uncontrollable over time. During the War of the Sun and Moon, Libra had to use it to immobilize Nightmare Moon's undying army; his Echo Blair is still carrying that burden a thousand years later.
    • In The Stars Ascendant, Celestia notes that had she realized just how powerful Tirek had become, she would have ordered Twilight to rip the Elements of Harmony out of the Tree of Harmony. Given that the tree had been withering without the Elements of Harmony, it might kill the tree, but Celestia felt it would have been justified in order to defeat Tirek. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary.
    • The Stars Will Aid Their Escape: The last time Nyarlathotep emerged in Equestria, Celestia was only able to stop him by calling down the power of the sun and incinerating everything for miles, sacrificing the lives of every pony in the affected area (most of whom were rendered hopelessly insane by Nyarlathotep anyway) in order to stop him from spreading. And all that succeeded in doing was temporarily banishing Nyarlathotep back where he came from — he describes it as having been inconvenient.
    • Literally crossed in Persona EG. Flash Sentry and several of his friends are backed into a corner when Sunset Shimmer uses shadow versions of every persona Flash has ever used. Exhausted and about to be killed, Flash summons the only persona in his collection that he has not used yet, Gojira. Complete with Giant Foot of Stomping entrance and a giant Atomic Breath attack that nearly roasts Sunset alive.
    • During her battle with Discord in Knights of the Realm, Twilight Sparkle resorts to remove all her restraints. Considering the last time that had happened (during training) and that in this fic she's a master of Chaos magic, it's obvious why, even facing Discord, it took her a while to resort to that.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis is what happens when crossing the Threshold is exactly the wrong thing to do, as the different characters implementing their own contingency plans just escalates the situation, going from "bad, but manageable" to almost Cosmic Horror Story levels. Fittingly, Cirno gets to perform the stupidest one, reckoning that her friend Rumia is in such desperate peril that getting Yuuka involved is a reasonable idea.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover the Reaper invasion causes the normally-benign-if-ineffective Citadel Council to be replaced by the United Defense Command, a huge believer in Straw Civilian among other things which are all shown to be negative In-Universe. Nobody really argues because the Reaper threat is just that big, even though afterward people realize what a mess it made.
  • In A Midsummer Night's Dream chapter 8, with Midsummer Night rendered inoperable after the fight with Rasputin, the previously reluctant brothers decide that they should share Jaeger schematics with the Equestrians.
  • In Ashes of the Past, Blast Burn is treated like this, as its nature as a Fire Type equivalent of Hyper Beam means the only thing more destructive is the local equivalent of a nuclear strike. Exactly because of its power, any Pokemon that learns it has an artificial mental block created to prevent it from using it on their own volition, and must be ordered to do that.
    • Early on, Charizard mentions Victini using V-Generate was the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, putting it on par with an actual nuclear strike.
  • Worldwar: War of Equals: The threat of pending invasion by the Race is enough for Switzerland to abandon its long-standing neutrality and join the European Coalition, and for Israel to join forces with its Arab neighbors(primarily Egypt). After the war begins and grows desperate for some, we see more examples — when Ukraine is nearly completely overrun, its military starts using nerve gas, while President Viktor Yanukovych asks for Russian aid; Syria breaks out its chemical weapons program in light of neighboring Iraq being overrun; and China, desperately trying to Hold the Line against the Race, is the first nation to use nukes against the invading forces.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index fic Twist Of Fate, Moses uses his Time Master powers to defeat Teitoku Kakine by making him suffer Rapid Aging. Moses explains that he would normally not do something this horrible, but the situation they were trying to stop is extremely desperate, Kakine wouldn't get out of their way, and he was strong enough to shrug off Moses' attempts to freeze him.
  • In the first story of the Facing the Future Series, Dark Danny's return results in Clockwork bringing in Danny and Sam's future selves and Sam getting ghost powers of her own in order to stop him.
  • In Eugenesis, Prowl and Perceptor are perfectly willing to meddle with time travel, knowing what time travel can unleash (in Prowl's case, from first hand experience), simply because they feel the current situation is that bad. This earns them a serious What the Hell, Hero? from Nightbeat, although he still ends up agreeing with them. Later on, a revived Optimus Prime agrees to take part in the fight against the Quintessons, knowingly risking his life, not to mention using time-travel himself, for the same reasons.
  • MLP Next Generation: Know Fear!: The war against the griffons is going badly enough (even with the aid of Starburst's new powers) that Celestia decides to have one of Equestria's godly rulers (herself, the other alicorns and Discord) unlock their full power and join the battlefield as a show of force. Everyone else is horrified by the potential consequences of this, but they go through with it anyway, with Twilight being the one whose power is unlocked, and she proceeds to take on an entire griffon army by herself only for it to turn out that the griffons already had plans prepared to neutralize her.
  • In White Devil of the Moon, when a combination attack of Nanoha, Fate and Hayate's strongest attacks don't work on Queen Metalla, Nanoha is forced to load up the Silver Crystal into Rising Heart, despite the fact that Nanoha could die going all out.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index/Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover Walpurgisnaught, when Touma learns of the abominable system the Incubators do with Magical Girls and Witches, he breaks his no-killing code with sentient beings and obliterates Kyubey.
  • In The Bridge, 200 something Gyaos flying straight towards Canterlot with nothing else to stop them? Time to revert the ponified Godzilla back into his true form. Princess Luna was not happy about it. Thankfully it's a heroic version of the character.
  • Shadows Awakening: During the penultimate battle in the Forge of Shadows, Daolon Wong is empowered to the point of nearly defeating the J-Team singlehandedly. This forces Jade to remove the Tiger Talisman, which has been keeping her growing corruption by the Queen in check — this allows her greater control of her powers, enough to fight Wong evenly, but risks her being fully corrupted by the Queen. In fact, the Queen grows strong enough to separate from Jade entirely, thus becoming the new Big Bad.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos crosses the threshold a few times.
    • Episode 63 has a villainous example. Sonic, Shadow, and Eric turn into their Super forms and are on the verge of defeating Tsali once and for all. So what does Tsali do? He summons Lord Maledict himself for backup. Cue Maledict showing up, rescuing Tsali, and utterly curbstomping Sonic and friends.
    • When Dark Tails nearly annihilates the fleets of both sides, both the Demons and Angels separately devote all their attention to taking him down, to the point where the Demons reactivate a galaxy-destroying superweapon just in case. And then Dark Tails achieves godhood in Episode 75 and nearly decimates the entire galaxy, they both decide to take it on together- the threshold is taken to the the point where Jesus Christ and Satan pull an Enemy Mine and decide to (temporarily) help each other.
  • Symbiosis, the act of calling the Elite Four from the Pokemon League is a sign that everything has gone to hell. Team Rocket successfully mind rapes and mind controls Sabrina and force her to kill everyone in her gym and destroy Saffron City. It gets so bad that Agatha and her massive Ghost Pokemon entourage have to called in.
  • Life After Hayate mentions the Time-Space Administrative Bureau's General Order #27: "The capture of or possession of dimensional flexure equipment by any non-Bureau person or group is unacceptable. Any normal rules of engagement may be suspended at the discretion of the guard force as necessary to prevent it falling into the hands of others." Leti Lowran stresses to the Wolkenritter that this is the one circumstance where they can do anything if they think they have to.
    • Later on the story mentions the Carneades Protocol, which amends the normal rules of engagement to include the statement "any level of collateral damage necessary to complete the mission is acceptable." It is essentially the Godzilla Threshold given form: no matter how much damage you might be able to do if you put your mind to it, your failure is considered worse.
  • In the DC Comics fanfic The Apokolips Agenda, virtually every pre-Crisis hero is battling on Apokolips in a desperate struggle to prevent Darkseid from learning the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid, who has been summoning more and more powerful villains to slow the heroes, finally reaches the threshold and resurrects Trigon, who turns all of the heroes to stone. In response, Kid Eternity, whose power allows him to resurrect a deceased person briefly by saying their name, speaks a name before he turns to stone: Jim Corrigan. Cue the Spectre materializing and killing Trigon with a single blow. Now that's Summon Bigger Fish.
  • In A New World, when faced with the imminent Lunarian invasion and everyone who could stop them burying their heads in the sand, Kanako arranges for Suwako to release the Mishaguji.
  • The Infinite Loops
    • One example where viruses got into the Equestrian Loop, creating a loop so horrifying that Sleipnir, the admin for the Equestrian Loop, personally entered the loop, rescued Twilight, fought their way into the lower levels of Hell, locked Hell from the inside, and then crashed the loop by causing the apocalypse. How horrifying is something when creating further multiversal instability is better than letting it continue to exist? Also note the Sleipnir is portrayed as one of the most responsible and levelheaded of the admins.
    • There was also an example of Twilight and Pinkie Pie ending up in a 1984esque version of Equestria, Twilight's response?
      Twilight Sparkle: Pinkamena Diane Pie?
      Pinkie Pie: Yes Twilight?
      Twilight Sparkle: You know all those things I normally ask you not to do? Do them.
  • Thousand Shinji: When the race of killer robots known as Necrons were taking over the galaxy and killing literally everything, the Emperor of Mankind was desperate enough to agree to a truce with the Ruinous Powers and let Earth fall to Chaos. Usually he'd never, ever, consider such a scenario.
  • With This Ring: When Earth is falling to an alien invasion with the Justice League and several members of Young Justice dead. Orange Lantern gets desperate, so desperate that he wanted power more than he wanted to remain himself, which he gets by summoning the Ophidian the Embodiment of Avarice.
    • OL tells Martian Manhunter, it could have been worse: he has the Grimorium Verum, a guide book for extremely powerful demons, which he would have used to summon an actual demon if the Ophidian had fell through.
  • In Touhou Ibunshu, the events of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and Imperishable Night are construed at this: both times, it merely served as a delaying tactic that ultimately only helped make enough time for the heroines to step in as unexpected reinforcements. In the first, Flandre had begun to gather enormous amounts of energy in an effort to cast a massive spell to annihilate Gensokyo; Remilia delayed her by taking the energy and dispersing it as the scarlet mist. In the second, Mokou attempted to use the moon as a catalyst to energize a vast undead fairy army, and Eirin used a powerful spell to hide the moon and stop time in a desperate gambit to block her.
  • In This Bites!, Vivi fiddles with the Sirocco-charm container that her father gave her whenever she is faced with a particularly terrifying enemy, as if contemplating crossing a threshold there is no going back from. It contains the seed of an active Logia Devil Fruit.
  • In Mater Familias Bulma, trapped in the Capsule Corporation by a hacked Android 16 with Imperfect Cell and Gero coming there, decides to do something she admits was insane or truly desperate: add cell samples from Android 17 and 18 to the still coccoonized Present Cell, hoping that, having been recovered before Gero's machine could properly brainwash him, he'll help. It works, partly because he's actually grateful for that and partly because Cell manages to disgust him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens plays this for laughs: the giant alien machine is unstoppable, so they release their monsters - a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits.
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Salvatore Valestra tries to hire the Joker to take out Batman, under the belief that Batman is knocking off people connected to Beaumont (it's someone else), and hopes that since Joker is one of these people he will take the job. He laments having been pushed to the point where it's necessary, and Joker kills him to bait the real killer.
  • Same thing happens in Batman: Under the Red Hood when Black Mask breaks Joker out of Arkham in order to deal with the Red Hood. What he didn't know was that this was exactly what Red Hood wanted.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Most 1950's monster flicks often had nuclear weapons as a last resort, from The War Of The Worlds to Beginning of the End. So did Ang Lee's Hulk for that matter; they bombed a lake, though, and so there were no collateral casualties, but it was certainly the last available option once Hulk and Banner Dad had unleashed all their rage.
  • The teenagers in Freddy vs. Jason wanted Jason, the guy that killed 20 of their friends, to win the fight against Freddy— if only because Jason would go back home, since he has no other reason to be in Elm Street. These kids also save Jason from drowning in a dream. He kills the black girl later.
  • In Sadako Vs Kayako, the two main characters are cursed by their respective ghosts. Yuri is cursed by Sadako and Suzuka is cursed by Kayako. Keizo, a psychic they know, decides the best way to permanently get rid of both curses is to pit them against each other by double cursing both with the other's curse.
  • Godzilla, the Trope Namer:
    • Perhaps the best example comes from the original Gojira itself, where the Japanese government decides to deploy Dr. Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer in Tokyo Bay to kill the monster. The Oxygen Destroyer also kills all other marine life in the bay, but the government considers this an acceptable loss in exchange for killing a monster that's just devastated the city. Serizawa himself is reluctant to even let anyone know about the Oxygen Destroyer's existence, even while Godzilla's rampaging, because he's afraid of how horrible a weapon it might be. He crosses his own threshold after a montage of the destruction the monster caused shows him what's at stake — and even then he takes steps to ensure his creation can't be misused.
    • 1966's Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster provides a rare Showa example for the trope namer. The main characters, stuck on an island with their exit barred by a secret terrorist cell, opt to awaken a sleeping Godzilla when their escape attempts fail. Predictably, with the big guy awake and angry, the terrorists don't last much longer.
    • Godzilla Final Wars reaches the literal Godzilla Threshold about halfway through. Civilization is in ruins and the alien monsters are running rampant, so how could one more make things worse? Godzilla turns out to be fiercely territorial when near other monsters...
    • In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, King Ghidorah causes Japan to reach this Threshold. They bring back Godzilla (or so they thought) and juice him with radiation. Of course, after King G is defeated, he starts rampaging too, but if you think about it, the situation didn't really get any worse. At which point they bring King Ghidorah back to fight Godzilla, which Oddly enough actually works.
    • Godzilla (2014):
      • Invoked. Serizawa suggests that the only thing that can stop the MUTOs is the legendary Godzilla, and that the US military should just get out of his way.
      • Admiral Stenz believes that utilizing nuclear weapons is the least costly way of dealing with the MUTO. He's aware that they feed off of radiation, but believes the sheer strength of the explosion will be enough to kill them, noting that, while the H-Bomb didn't kill Godzilla in 1954, it's a firecracker in comparison to what is at their disposal six decades later. (Weirdly the Castle Bravo bomb dropped on Godzilla was actually 15 megatons. This is stronger than any bomb in our aresenal today and is the most powerful explosion America ever produced. The "this is megatons, not kilotons" line is just wrong.)
    • In Shin Godzilla, the UN decides to try and drop a thermonuclear bomb on Godzilla to try and kill him after he decimates several cities and kills most of Japan's higher government (including the Prime Minister), and attempts to eliminate him through conventional means have just made the situation worse, despite the fact he is currently standing in the heart of Tokyo.
  • In the first Transformers film, when the Deceptions are closing in on the Allspark, the preferred military solution is to hide the Allspark in the middle of a city - where the Decepticons will have trouble getting to it until large-scale military assistance could be attained and keep them busy while the Allspark was moved to another location.
  • Independence Day:
    • The revelation that the aliens' only interest is the complete and total destruction of earth serves as the Godzilla Threshold moment that convinces the president to authorize use of nuclear weapons against the invaders. Naturally, it doesn't work on the intended target, though it completely destroys the already-doomed city of Houston below.
    • Played for laughs when Jeff Goldblum drunkenly decides to trash the lab saying if we screw up this planet enough they won't want it anymore as they are there for its resources.
  • Early on in Ghostbusters (1984), Egon goes into some detail as to how important it is to never cross the streams fired by their weapons. There is apparently a very good chance of "total protonic reversal," which would result in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Once Gozer manifests (as a 100 foot marshmallow man) and tramples downtown New York as a warm-up to The End of the World as We Know It, the team decides to do it anyway. The protonic reversal goes off, alright... but inside Gozer's little pocket of its universe.
    • Crossing the streams is used a few more times in the video game and comic book continuities, although each time it was used successfully, there were usually extenuating circumstances involved, such as being inside of (or at least firing into) another dimension where the laws of physics work differently. In the IDW comic book series, NINE streams were crossed when fighting Tiamat in her home dimension. Later on however, the idea was rejected when fighting the Megaspook, since they were still in New York City and this time they didn't have an extradimensional portal to skew the odds.
  • Cloverfield: The Hammerdown protocol. Though not explained in the movie, it appears to involve either nuking Manhattan or "merely" dropping multiple superheavy conventional bombs on it. To quote the radio operator, "If you can hear the [air raid] sirens, you're inside the blast zone."
  • The climax of Galaxy Quest—The Big Bad has killed or fatally wounded everyone on the ship and the ship is hurtling towards Earth and will probably cause a mass extinction on impactnote . Jason gives the order to activate the secret superweapon, the Omega 13. The problem is, nobody knows what the Omega 13 actually does, since the Galaxy Quest TV show was cancelled before it properly appeared. The two common Epileptic Trees are that it either destroyed all matter in the universe in 13 seconds, or created a 13 second time-warp to the past. Fortunately for everyone involved, it's the latter.
  • In The Core, the heroes reach the outer core of the Earth and discover that the nuclear weapons they've brought along won't be enough to restart it. In response, the general decides to fire up Project DESTINI to restart the core — which was the very thing that had stopped the core in the first place. The predicted devastation to the Earth's surface would be almost as bad as the lack of a geomagnetic field they were trying to fix.
  • Aliens has the space marines, with Ellen Ripley in tow, arrive at the colony they are supposed to investigate only to find that said colony has been overrun and the colonists are all monster chow. In the process of evaluating the situation, most of the marines also become monster chow. With the mission screwed and the colony beyond help, Ripley suggests that they "Take off and nuke the entire site from orbit." Corporal Hicks (now the ranking soldier) agrees with her.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick:
    • Lampshaded by Riddick in Pitch Black when the survivers of the crashed spaceship managed to capture him, but then releases him due to the alien fauna.
    Riddick: Finally found something worse than me, huh?
  • The Dark Knight Saga:
    • The Dark Knight has several scenes musing about how much power is appropriate to stop a threat, citing things like Ancient Rome's ability to grant emergency powers to one man. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear that Batman himself has become the threshold for Gotham's criminal underworld. Their response is The Joker.
      Bruce Wayne: I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.
      Alfred Pennyworth: You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand.
    • Towards the end of the film, Batman hacks every cell phone in Gotham into a listening device/sonar array. Lucius Fox is horrified at how unethical it is, and Batman seemingly agrees, as he puts the self-destruct option in Lucius's hands instead of his own, to be used as soon as they thwart the Joker.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: Towards the end of the film, Batman uses the Bat's weapons with lethal intent, in order to stop a nuke from going off. To a lesser extent, he appears in broad daylight for the first time in the series.
  • The science facility in The Andromeda Strain is set up to nuke itself if anything gets past the containment seals. The scientists later learn that the energy would only fuel the strain's reproduction, wiping out life on Earth in short order.
  • Tremors 2: Aftershocks: Earl is completely surrounded by Shriekers and is standing in the back of Burt's truck. His response: Set a timed explosive to go off and toss it down in the truck. That 4.5 tons of Burt Gummer approved high explosives, parked in an oil refinery.
    Burt: (panics) That's 4 and half tons of high explosives!
    Earl: (worried) Is that not going to be enough?! Please, Burt! Don't tell me that's not going to be enough!
    Burt: Not enough?! It's... Nevermind! RUN!!! It's goinna be BIIIIIG!!!
  • Tremors 3: Back to Perfection has this when Burt blows up his entire bunker to kill a single Ass Blaster, only to learn that they go into a coma when they eat too much.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    Banner: So, this all seems... horrible.
    Natasha: I've seen worse. [referring to Bruce's last Hulk Out]
    Banner: Sorry.
    Natasha: No, we could... use a little worse.
    • Judging by JARVIS' tone (the Deadpan Snarker AI), the "House Party protocol" in Iron Man 3 is too dangerous to use. Tony uses it at the climax to summon thirty suits to imprecisely fire on the villains.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, the Threshold is the Dark Elves threatening the entire universe, and Godzilla is Loki himself. He is fully aware of the irony.
    • Echoing the first film, Avengers: Age of Ultron has the Hulk being brought out in battle a general crossing of the threshold; referred to as "Code Green." Ultron is then able to exploit this by forcing his hand in the battles of South Africa and the final battle in Sokovia. The former even has Iron Man's own threshold, the Hulkbuster armor - which Banner himself helped develop.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man, knowing that the power could kill him.
    • Discussed in Doctor Strange, time magic is forbidden for being too destructive. Strange ends up resorting to time magic when he fails to stop Dormammu from being let into their universe and forces Dormammu to leave Earth with time magic. As the dust settles, Mordo quits over these actions, believing that the sorcerers are doing the wrong thing.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Asgard is prophesied to be destroyed by Surtur the fire giant, when his crown unites with the Eternal Flame and initiates Ragnarok. When Hela the Goddess of Death conquers Asgard, and intends to use it to conquer all the rest of the galaxy, Thor and company's efforts to defeat her conventionally fail because she draws her power from Asgard itself. The only solution? Summoning Surtur to bring about Ragnarok and so destroy Asgard and Hela with it.
  • In Dirty War, DS Drummer, an otherwise good man who genuinely desires to understand the people he is investigating, tortures a suspect after a dirty bomb is detonated in London. The movie also underlines the uselessness of this strategy as it is documents found in the house, not torture, which leads to the clues that prevent further attacks.
  • Star Trek films:
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The Enterprise crew finds out through Lt. Valeris that there's a conspiracy between members of the Federation and the Klingon Empire to disrupt peace talks between their leaders. When Valeris refuses to share the names of all the co-conspirators, Spock forcibly mind-melds to get them. It's clear from Spock's reaction that he didn't want to do this.
    • Future Spock from Star Trek (2009) reveals information about the future to Kirk and a transwarp formula from a century later because he considered stopping Nero's genocidal campaign to be more important than keeping the time-space continuum stable.
    • Star Trek Into Darkness:
      • Spock Prime has a vow to never reveal anything of his timeline. He considers Khan enough of a threat to break his vow in order to warn the Enterprise.
      • The Vengeance so outclasses the Enterprise that unleashing the superhuman ex-Evil Overlord on it is actually the best option Kirk and co. can come up with.
  • In the DC Extended Universe,
    • Man of Steel: After being defeated, General Zod confesses he has nothing more to live for and vows to make the people of Earth suffer. There is nothing they can do to stop him or restrain him. Superman comes to the hard decision that the only way to stop him is to kill him.
    • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman justifies stealing Lex Luthor's Kryptonite by pointng out Superman "has the power to wipe out the entire human race," making his existence to great a risk.
    • In Suicide Squad, El Diablo absolutely refuses to ever use his fire powers to harm anyone or anything ever again. When the Squad are pinned down and facing certain death, El Diablo unleashes his power, saving them. Later on, in order to fight a giant monster, he goes even further, transforming into a giant flaming skeleton.
    • In Wonder Woman, Diana had tried everything to minimize the fallout from using her powers in battle except as a last resort; but she decides to cross the threshold in the "No Man's Land" sequence as well as the final battle against her adoptive brother Ares, realizing how dangerous his desire to keep the conflict going and how he must be stopped.
    • Justice League (2017) reveals that an alliance between the Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, the Olympian Gods, and aliens was forged to stop Steppenwolf from taking over the planet millennia ago. When Steppenwolf proves to be more powerful than the League combined, it's also why Batman decided to use the Genesis Chamber and a Mother Box to resurrect Superman.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • Most of the Jaeger battles take place in the water, well away from the city that is currently being targeted by a Kaiju. The 10 miles out line is referred to as the "miracle mile" and mostly they try to intercept the kaiju before it crosses the line. Fighting in the city is usually only a last resort because of the massive collateral damage, but considering the alternative it's unlikely that people will complain.
    • If you pay attention during Mutavore's attack on Sydney and happen to have a map handy, you'll notice that a big chunk of the city would be on the Kaiju side of the wall. The tie-in comics reveal that that's because they had to nuke the heck out of that area to fend off the first Kaiju attack on Sydney. Not all of the civilians were able to evacuate beforehand.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, the military decides to deal with the aliens by evacuating the civilians then bombing the coastal cities being invaded. The aliens thwart this.
  • Defied in Men in Black. The bug impersonating Edgar is getting close to stealing the Arquillian galaxy, so when Agent J sees him, he tries to shoot in broad view of dozens of New Yorkers with his fancy ray gun, earning K's fury.
    Agent J: Hey, we ain't got time for this cover-up bullshit! Maybe you've forgotten, but there's an Arquillian battle cruiser-
    Agent K: There's always an Arquillian battle cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that's about to wipe out life on this miserable little planet. The only way these people get on with their happy lives is they do. Not. Know about it!
    • The real threshold is with the Arquillians, who think a Bug in control of a Galaxy is enough of a threat to destroy the planet both are on, even if most of the inhabitants of said planet have no clue they're about to die.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the main characters' plan is to erase themselves and everyone else from existence, because in the new future they would be different people with different experiences and no memory of the originals. Everybody understands it, yet they go through with it without question anyway.
  • In Evolution, the military plans to destroy the alien lifeforms with "tons and tons of napalm". One of the general's subordinates hints that a nuke may be a better option. It's specifically mentioned that, if the alien lifeforms aren't stopped, they will take over the planet in a matter of months, driving Terrestrial lifeforms to extinction. Of course, as the heroes find out by accident, fire speeds up the Hollywood Evolution process.
  • In Dracula Untold, all the people of Transylvania are about to get annihilated by the Turks. Vlad can only prevent this by turning into a vampire. Vlad becomes nearly unbeatable, but faces the drawbacks of being a vampire. It is still better than your entire population being wiped out.
  • In The Cabin in the Woods, after Marty and Dana find the research facility, they get cornered by the armed security in a control room. The only answer they find is to open the cages and release all the monsters in them, which quickly start slaughtering every person on sight. The entire movie is clear about being built around this trope, almost from the beginning. As an exploration of how horror/slasher tropes make sense, the BIGGER threat is the Cthulhoid apocalypse that the trope invocations are attempting to avert. Even if that means utilizing the placeholder-villains of the genre to do so.
  • In Jurassic World, the I. rex has shrugged off everything that the heroes have thrown at it — tranquilizers, bullets, rockets, Velociraptors, it's all failed. Claire orders Paddock Nine opened, releasing the Tyrannosaurus from the original film.
  • In The Stranger, Mr. Wilson decides to free imprisoned Nazi war criminal Konrad Meinike so that the latter can be tailed by secret agents. Wilson's colleagues in the Allied War Crimes Commission are appalled at the idea of letting a war criminal free; he retorts that it's a necessary evil he must commit so that Meinike can lead them to an even more important target: Franz Kindler, one of the chief architects of The Holocaust.

  • The Dresden Files:
    • The second book, Fool Moon, had Harry view his use of the Hexenwulf belt this way, with its possibility of turning him into a mindless feral killer.
    • In book seven, Dead Beat, Harry is faced with several necromancers competing for the chance to be the one to perform a dark ritual that makes its performer into a new god by sucking the life from anyone unfortunate enough to live nearby. In order to bypass the protective magical barrier surrounding them, Harry creatively reinterprets the Laws of Magic, and almost literally enacts this trope, by reanimating a frelling tyrannosaurus (it's not human, so he wasn't technically breaking the law).
    • In book twelve, Changes, after suffering (in something of a personal best) a broken back, a kidnapped daughter, and a host of vampires old enough to qualify as gods in their own right about to perform an effectively unblockable curse that will destroy his entire family, he turns to one of his final options: swearing his allegiance to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Harry was even desperate enough to consider performing the Darkhallow rite or becoming a Denarian if Mab didn't accept him.
    • In book fourteen, Cold Days, Harry discovers that, in an as-yet-unused Chekhov's Armoury Demonreach is a prison created by the original Merlin for thousands of incredibly powerful and malevolent entities, so much so that there is a failsafe in place that will vaporize most of the continent should the prisoners ever escape, and it won't even kill them. All it will accomplish is to slow them down for a while, but that's still the lesser of two evils.
      • There's more. As the warden of the prison, Harry has the option of releasing any or all of the prisoners at his discretion. If the situation gets bad enough, he could open the cages and let them run free.
    • A situation dire enough to involve Harry Dresden usually means you've crossed the Threshold. When the necromancers threaten Chicago, the response of the White Council is to send every available Warden, including the Captain — who recruits Harry (a man they have been fearing is secretly a warlock for the last 10 years) the minute they see him.
    • It's been mentioned that exposing the existence of the supernatural to humanity is considered the nuclear option of the supernatural community, not least because humans have actual nukes.
  • Codex Alera:
    • Tavi thrives on plans that are so crazy they might just work, reaching a peak at the final battle in which he lures the Big Bad to a place where two of the world's most powerful Furies sleep and then provoking them. His lover Kitai figures where he went by thinking of a place only an absolute fool would go to, and a lunatic would follow.
    • In the last book, Tavi had to get all of his armies to reach a main battlefield in a few days — moving several hundred thousand almost at the speed of flight. Then Alera warns him that his plan will cause untold weather devastation thousands of years later, he concludes the devastating long term consequences must be borne if anyone in Alera is to survive.
  • In Stephen King's Under the Dome, the government does everything in its power to free the town of Chester's Mill from its predicament. This includes firing a cruise missile at the invisible dome surrounding the town, then a second missile when the first one fails, using specially modified acid which can melt through two miles of bedrock, despite the possibility that it could set the dome on fire, and then attempting to use a 'pencil nuke', only to have it melt down and kill fifteen people before it could be used. The government continues, trying to build a second pencil nuke, but by that point, things are so bad they finally decide they don't have time.
  • The Worldwar series — about an alien invasion hitting Earth right in the middle of World War 2 — is chock full of these. Allying with Nazis, sometimes used even by Jewish partisans who have to choose between the Nazis, and all of humanity getting enslaved. Nuking your own cities. Deploying chemical weapons against your own territory.
  • In World War Z, the government is so stumped as to how to fight the zombie hordes that they are forced to implement the "Redeker Plan", using large parts of the population as zombie bait to give the government a chance to regroup and plan, and it worked. The Redeker Plan itself was adapted from South Africa's own "Plan Orange", for how to deal with an all-out armed uprising by the native black Africans against the Apartheid government.
  • The Laundry Files:
    • When CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (a.k.a, the stars coming right) ensues SCORPION STARE is initiated, a program that loops a basilisk frequency through every CCTV camera in Britain. Similarly, in The Jennifer Morgue, Mo is given access to "a big white one" in the case that the Bond villain wannabe manages to resurrect an ancient Chthonian war god — and is none too pleased to find out "a big white one" is a tactical nuke.
    • "The Concrete Jungle," the story that dives into the origins of SCORPION STARE, shares a historical example - evidence that the Nazis were planning to weaponize gorgons (humans who produce the basilisk frequency as an observer effect due to a rare brain tumor) was enough to get the British military to threaten chemical attacks on civilian targets if they didn't knock it off.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series: in the War of Power, the good guys constructed the Choedan Kal, two devices (one for use by a male, one for use by a female) that could draw astronomical amounts of the One Power in order to seal the Dark One away in his prison. Later used to cleanse the poisoned male half of the Power during the climax of book 9, Winter's Heart (during which the female Choedan Kal is destroyed). In The Gathering Storm, Rand at first thinks that the male Choedan Kal is the key to defeating the Dark One, but eventually realizes that it won't work. At the end of the book, he destroys it, knowing there may well be another (and better) way to defeat the Dark One this time around. He turns out to be right: the solution is (manipulating The Dragon into) using another power he had previously decided was too dangerous.
  • In David Weber's Out of the Dark, the alien commander of the forces invading Earth eventually concedes the use of genocidal bioweapons as the only option against a planetful of humans who refuse to submit, and are rapidly depleting the invader's reserves.
  • In another David Weber work, Honor Harrington, the Havenites cross this threshhold when they realize that the Manticorans' new weapons mean inevitable defeat for the Republic of Haven, and decide to capitalize on their dwindling numerical advantage by launching a desperation attack on the Manticoran home system. The resulting battle results in over a million dead and leaves both star nations virtually unable to continue the fighting — Manticore wins, but at the cost of over half its wall of battle. Later on, things deteriorate so badly between Manticore and the Solarian League (a power that, on paper, is much bigger and more powerful than Manticore and Haven combined), that the Manticorans sue for peace with the Havenites and declare war on the League. By this point, the Manticoran and Havenite governments have both realized that they were being played by the true Big Bad, The Mesan Alignment, and have signed a military alliance. At that point, things start to go downhill for the Solarian League (and the Alignment) rather quickly.
  • In Weber's second "Dahak" book,The Armageddon Inheritance, the only power source great enough to drive the incredible defensive installations that might enable Earth to survive the attack of an oncoming genocidal alien horde is nearly uncontrollable and could itself ravage the planet if containment is lost.
  • In Footfall, this happens twice during an alien invasion. The first time, they nuke the territory the aliens took over (which was still populated by humans). The second, and significantly less significant time, they build and use a nuke-fueled spaceship. They did get most of the nearby area into bomb shelters before they took off, though.
  • Gaunt's Ghosts:
    • In Traitor General Feygor gets very badly sick and Curth has nothing left to help him. When Ezrah offers the use of a paste that contains normally highly-toxic - as in scratch a man with it and he dies - poison as a remedy like his tribe did, the team reluctantly decides to use it. It barely works.
    • One of the flashbacks in Ghostmaker has a group of Ghosts encounter a summoned daemon in one of the buildings they're clearing. With little hesitation and less time to flee, the Ghosts promptly request that one of the kilometres-long ships in orbit fire on the building.
  • In Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity, there is a time traveling group that safeguards humanity over a period of billions of years. The problem is that humanity never leaves the Solar System, and after at least millions, maybe billions of years humanity dies out. The protagonist goes back to the twentieth century, and there manipulates the timeline so that time travel never arises, wiping out millions of years of human existence and destroying everyone and everything he ever knew.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    LaForge: Repeat it as many times as you like, it won't make any difference. I will not resurrect that...that abomination. I won't be party to whatever atrocities it winds up being used for. When Shinzon had one, you were ready to die to stop it. Data gave his life to destroy it. For me to rebuild it now would be an insult to his memory and a betrayal of his sacrifice. I can't do that. I won't.
    • In Uhura's Song the Federation Council finds the plague sweeping across the Federation so serious that they suspend the Prime Directive and tell Kirk that they're trusting his judgement on how to get the cure that legends say exist on a planet he has only vague information about the location of. Spock misunderstands the reasoning and says they seem rather optimistic about their chances of finding the cure, despite his attempts to emphasize how flimsy their information is. Kirk explains that their apparent optimism is really grasping at straws because the situation is much worse than they (on the Enterprise) know. (It is strongly implied that the existence of the Federation and the survival of multiple member species is at stake. General Order One is not suspended lightly.)
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the arrival of the Others is considered this for people on both sides of the Wall. Mance Rayder, the King Beyond The Wall, is willing to march the Free Folk south of the Wall to find shelter in the despotic Seven Kingdoms. Jon Snow, for his part, is willing to allow "Wildlings" to settle on the Night Watch's lands and even join the Night Watch to bolster their ranks against the Others. Both plans are considered pretty shocking, and not everyone agrees with them.
  • In Timothy Zahn's The Conquerors Trilogy, the arrival of a dangerous alien threat starts everyone talking about dusting off a superweapon the humans used once as a last resort and never used again on the grounds of how barbaric the results were. Subverted in that the weapon doesn't actually exist; a freak accident where a solar flare wiped out the enemy fleet was spun by the human government into the fearsome superweapon. It doesn't take long before everybody wonders why the human government doesn't use it, since the Godzilla Threshold has obviously been long passed.
  • Dale Brown's books:
    • Villainous example in Sky Masters. His flotilla in shambles after a Filipino ambush, with only death or dishonourable retreat on the cards, Big Bad Admiral Yin decided to Nuke 'em. Things go downhill from there.
    • Battle Born has two. The Korean General Ripper, seeing all conventional attempts failing to stop a Chinese invasion, carries out a coup so he can get the nuclear launch codes. In turn, to stop him from making things go nuclear, McLanahan has Dreamland forces attack his command centre even though Korea is supposed to be America's ally.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, when the Heart of Gold is about to be blown up, Arthur Dent decides at the last second that activating the Infinite Improbability Drive without proper calculations (which can cause literally anything to happen to the ship) can't possibly make things any worse.
  • The Silmarillion:
    • Middle-Earth reached the Threshold at the end of the First Age. Morgoth ruled over all of Beleriand and to defeat him the Valar unleashed a war that sank all of Beleriand.
    • When Ar-Pharazôn sought to take Immortality from the Valar, the Valar, unwilling to actively kill men, who as Children of Ilúvatar fall under their protection, instead give up their stewardship of the world and let God handle it, and the World is changed for it.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • The Imass came to a racial consensus that after the latest in a long string of Jaghut Tyrants, the Threshold had been crossed. They transformed themselves into nigh-immortal undead and proceeded to hunt down every Jaghut they could, killing or binding them.
    • High King Kallor was so hated by a cabal of wizards that they chose to summon forth and bind a god to be used as a Fantastic Nuke against him. It destroyed an entire continent, created the Crippled God, and Kallor survived.
    • In the course of the books, there can be so many gods drawn to a nexus of power that drawing in more hostile gods becomes a viable plan because they might start countering each other.
  • In Revelation Space, the Mademoiselle considers destroy an entire populated planet with the Nostalgia For Infinity's Hell-Class weapons to be preferable to allowing Daniel Sylveste to travel to Cerberus and unwittingly re-awaken the Inhibitors, for a very good reason.
  • When the Polypond attacks the Great Ship in A Well of Stars, the crew decide it's preferable to burn away the entire fuel supply of the ship by firing up all of the ship's 14 world-sized fusion rockets, rather than allowing the enemy to rendezvous and take over the ship.
  • In the Animorphs prequel The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, the Andalite war-prince Alloran who eventually becomes Visser Three's host knew the Andalites had lost the war over the Hork-Bajir. Desperate to prevent the Yeerks from acquiring the Hork-Bajir, he unleashed a Quantum Virus, a horrific disease of space-time that breaks living beings down into molecules. He targeted the Hork-Bajir to deny the Yeerks their prize. All for naught, since the Yeerks had already captured enough Hork-Bajir to breed a sustainable population for their use. The Andalites covered up this horrific war crime to save face, and Alloran was left a bitter disgraced Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • The protagonists in Larry Niven's The Ringworld Engineers are faced with the problem of Ringworld's increasingly unstable 'orbit'. The Ringworld has, or rather had, Ramscoops fixed around its circumference to act as station-keeping jets, using the solar wind as fuel. The Ringworld's inhabitants, presumably not knowing or not caring why the ramscoops were there, had 'borrowed' most of them to use on spaceships. The remainder could no longer keep the Ringworld centered on its star. There is a solution, but even the Pak Protector who discovers it is too horrified to enact it. They use the solar magnetic controls built into the Ringworld to temporarily increase solar wind output enough to provide the remaining ramscoops with enough fuel to re-center the ring. This has the unfortunate side effect of sterilizing a third or so of the Ringworld, killing trillions of humanoids via slow, agonizing radiation poisoning.
  • In Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark, the Turkish siege of Vienna is only the visible manifestation of a magical struggle between West and East to determine which form of civilization will go on to dominate the planet. At one point Merlin the Magician considers a "desperately sure" move: summoning an arch-demon that could easily win the war, but it would forever be a taint on the West that it had stooped to using such aid.
  • in The Broken Crescent, Nate Black/Azrael is the Angel of Death sent by a god who hates Mankind to bring them down. The Monarch and his Shadow College consider using him to still be a lesser evil than allowing the College of Man to continue to run things.
  • A Mage's Power: The shaman of Kyraa gives Eric the spirit of Dengel, an ancient and legendary mage. Then she warns him to never ever give Dengel full control of his body; not under any circumstances, because if he does, the result would be Grand Theft Me. Near the climax, Eric is imprisoned and about to be tortured and executed. Dengel explains that relinquishing full control is his only way out.
  • In Crysis: Legion Alcatraz discusses this, stating that with nothing else having worked to stop the Ceph, going for the Nuclear Option is worth a shot.
  • The Secret of Platform 13 has a less dangerous version of this: the King and Queen are desperate to get back their son, who was kidnapped as a baby, but only have nine days before the Portal Door closes for nine more years. Though they first send a team of quirky, nice rescuers to try to bring him back willingly, when that seems to fail they finally consent to send a second team of harpies and Hellhounds to drag their son back, even though they fear traumatizing him in the process.
  • In Noob, Sin is greatly against Sources (basically the universe's gods), including himself, meddling with the lives of mortals after Lys and Ark'hen isolated an entire contient from the rest of the world to cover up his existence. However, when a 1000 meter-hight Eldritch Abomination from the planet of which Olydri is a moon shows up, he ends up giving a hand in getting rid of it.
  • In Hammerjack, the characters repeatedly emphasize that the highly unstable AI Lyssa must never under any circumstances be allowed to escape confinement, as she would cause a data singularity that could destroy the whole Axis. In the sequel Prodigal, however, the SEF Hive takes over the Axis and prepares to launch nuclear missiles, and Lea decides that releasing Lyssa and crashing the Axis is the least-bad of their options.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Millennia ago, the Knights Radiant betrayed their oaths, severing their bonds with their spren and nearly killing whole species of them. The spren withdrew from humanity, and the powers of the Radiants were not seen for thousands of years. The spren only began to return when they sensed the True Desolation coming, giving powers to humans as a simple act of self-preservation. The few people who understand what is happening are therefore very worried; how desperate do you have to be to go back to the people who committed genocide against you? A few crazy cultists (and at least one insane Herald) have gotten it into their heads that if they can kill the new Knights Radiant before they come into their full powers, it will avert the Desolation. It probably wouldn't have worked, but they're not successful at killing them off anyway.
    • The Parshendi are a people able to morph between various "forms" for different jobs: mateform for breeding, workform to do labor, and warform to fight. Through research, they discover a new form: stormform, which will make them even stronger and tougher than they are in warform, but this will result in their possession by Odium. When faced with likely extinction by their Hopeless War with the Alethi (who are justifiably angry, as the Parshendi were forced to kill their king for very complicated reasons), the Parshendi turn to stormform as their only way out.
  • Midway through The Belgariad, C'tuchik crosses the threshold - when it becomes clear that Belgarath and his posse are going to successfully reclaim the Orb of Aldur - by breaking the first law of sorcery and trying to remove it from existence entirely. Unfortunately, nothing can be unmade, so the spell backlashes and gives him a Cruel and Unusual Death that also nearly levels the entire city they were standing in at the time.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, when the Big Bad finally shows his hand and quickly asserts his status as a Hero Killer, the heroes respond by unleashing their not-exactly-trustworthy ally's One-Winged Angel form.
  • Worm:
    • The Endbringers are three Nigh Invulnerable, superpowered monsters who have collectively brought humanity to its knees over the course of decades of city-destroying and superhero-slaying attacks. Nuclear weapons are the least of the measures attempted against these monstrosities, as demonstrated when one parahuman makes a plan to attack one with a weapon capable of destroying India. It doesn't work.
    • When the fight with Khonsu drags out far longer than usual without humanity being able to force it to retreat, the world's power players agree to pay the tribute a powerful supervillainess demands in order to get her assistance: thousands of innocent lives.
    • The possibility of opening the Birdcage is discussed several times, as it contains some of the worst and most powerful parahumans in the world — villains sufficiently horrifying that even the aforementioned Endbringer attacks are not sufficient cause to permit their release. The characters finally agree to do it when Scion pulls a FaceĖHeel Turn and begins wiping out humanity.
    • After the above event, Taylor and her followers manage to recruit the Endbringers.
    • In turn, it demonstrates just how dangerous the Sleeper must be that even with all the above going down, still no one thinks the situation bad enough that trying to bring him into the fight won't make it worse.
    • The Slaughterhouse 9 are considered a slightly lesser version of this, to the point where the superheroes have issued a kill-on-sight order, and a wanted supervillain can kill any of them in public with the superheroes doing nothing more than asking them for details for the sake of paperwork.
  • In The Twilights Last Gleaming, the prospect of a new Ice Age leads the rulers of Western Europe to launch a completely unprovoked invasion of South America so they can resettle their populations somewhere that won't turn into a frozen wasteland in the next few decades.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The reason the wildlings are banding together to attack the Seven Kingdoms for the first time in living memory is because there are fucking ice zombies coming for them.
    • In "The Children," Cersei informs Tywin that she is content to burn their House to the ground before she will let her son be taken from her.
    • Davos invokes this when negotiating with Lyanna Mormont by pointing out the North has got bigger problems heading their way than just the Boltons.
    Davos: The real war is between the living and the dead and make no mistake, my lady...the dead are coming.
    • Ghost seems to be the Godzilla for the Night's Watch, given how Jon sends Sam to let him out of his kennel when the siege on Castle Black starts going sour.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • When things get really desperate in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, the higher-ups are usually willing to give the green light to plans that involve ridiculous things like blowing up suns.
    • The Replicators are so bad that every single one of their appearances has the line being crossed to further limits. Indeed Thor says that the reason the Asgard ask humans for help so often is that they lack the stupidity necessary to devise a plan that crosses that Threshold. Said crossing involves such things as crashing ships into planets, using a one-of-a-kind state-of-the-art warship as bait for an explosion, and luring every Replicator in existence to the Asgard homeworld (and then collapsing the planet's star into a black hole, just to be thorough).
      • The Replicators have invaded the Milky Way, wiped out the System Lords and have begun attacking Earth. SG-1's final plan depends on an Ancient device designed to create (or destroy) all life, properly re-configuring it to only target the Replicators, and simultaneously firing it through every Stargate in the galaxy. And to do it, they have to team up with Ba'al, who was trying to reconquer the planet they were on at the time.
    • In the Season 6 finale, Anubis hovering with his finger on the trigger of an Ancient superweapon ready to blow up Abydos causes Daniel to break the non-interference rules of the Ascended beings and try to destroy Anubis using his godlike powers. He only fails because the other Ascended beings stop him.
    • In the The Ark of Truth, one of the weapon systems the humans bring with them to the Ori home galaxy as a fallback in case their primary plan fails is a Replicator with reprogrammed failsafes. The failsafes turn out to not be as fail safe as hoped.
      • The Ark of Truth itself was a last-resort weapon for the ancestors of the Ancients who were suffering persecution from the ancestors of the Ori: using it would have saved them, but would have also caused them to compromise their principles of free will and intellectual growth. Ultimately they step back from the Threshold and decide not to use it, instead choosing to leave their homeworld to the Ori. In retrospect, this was not the smartest idea. But at least they kept the Ark around for our heroes to find and use at a later date when there really is no other choice.
    • In a later arc of Atlantis, Rodney creates a reprogrammed humanoid Replicator to act as a delivery system for a computer virus to destroy the rest of the Asuran Replicators. Surprisingly, the reprogrammed Replicator is perfectly content with her purpose in life as a "living bomb", delivering her payload without a hitch when finally deployed on the Replicator homeworld.
  • Power Rangers usually reaches this point at least twice per season. At some point, the villain's Evil Plan will be so destructive, or a Monster of the Week so powerful that the old code of "match force with proportionate force" just stops applying. It's usually at this point that all out assaults, calling in old favors, and even sacrifices become valid options.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Evil of the Daleks" contains a scene where the usually compassionate-to-a-fault Second Doctor, who tried to Save the Villain in one earlier story and successfully negotiated monsters into leaving him alone in another, informs Jamie and Victoria that if the choice comes between saving their lives and stopping the Daleks from finishing their plan, he is not going to save their lives. Both of them are reasonably comfortable with this, as well.
    • The Last Great Time War, fought between the Time Lords and the Daleks, ended with the Doctor making a sincere effort at double genocide just to end the carnage. As expanded on in "The End of Time", it was either that or let the corrupt Time Lord leadership destroy the entire universe and become beings of pure thought.
    • The Osterhagen keys in "Journey's End"; people who know about them start crying at the mere mention of their use. It's revealed that UNIT strung a series of nuclear warheads beneath the Earth's crust, with the stated aim of destroying the entire freakin' planet. It is only to be used when death is considered a preferable alternative to whatever shitstorm has enveloped the human race.
    • In "The End of Time", we finally learn what it takes for the Tenth Doctor to pick up a gun: The return of the Time Lords and all the horrors sealed away with the Last Great Time War.
    • "Victory of the Daleks": In a reference to Winston Churchill's real-world invocation of this trope in defense of allying with Stalin, Churchill says he would ally with anyone, even the maniacal Daleks, if it meant defeating the Nazis.
    • In "The Night of the Doctor", Eight, once he learned just how bad the War was getting, to the point that innocents could no longer see any difference between Daleks and Time Lords, actively directed his regeneration into creating someone willing to discard his self-imposed restrictions.
    8th Doctor: Make me a warrior now.
    • "Nightmare in Silver" shows that by the end of the "Cyber Wars", the Cybermen were such a threat it was worth obliterating an entire galaxy to finish them, with collateral damage numbering in the trillions. Standard procedure dictates that any encountered survivors must be immediately terminated, and if you can't manage that the entire planet is to be destroyed.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": the Doctor's second attempt at ending the Time War still breaks every rule of the Time Lord military. He uses a forbidden superweapon that gained sentience to summon 13 incarnations of himself to shift Gallifrey into a different universe.
  • Supernatural:
    • In season five, after seeing a future in which Lucifer takes over the world, Dean's willing to let the Archangel Michael have him even though it will mean most of the world is destroyed. Sam convinces him not to.
    • By the end of season five, the only option left is let Lucifer take over Sam's body. While this option risked annihilation, the apocalypse would have to happen if they did nothing.
    • In season six, a good guy decides that the only way to prevent the Apocalypse from being restarted by the angels is to make a Deal with the Devil and take in the power of all the souls in Purgatory.
    • Yet another example involving Lucifer is in Season Eleven, when the heroes are desperate enough for allies against the Darkness that they are willing to consider letting Lucifer out of his cage, and ultimately Castiel agrees to be his vessel.
  • Farscape:
    • In season 1 during the first appearance of Maldis, Zhaan, who has the capability to defeat him, fears to unleash that power due to her violent past and discusses the trope with D'Argo. It's not until a few episodes later when the crew encounters a planet full of Delvians who indiscriminately use their powers on others under the direction of their Knight Templar leader, that we learn just how bad an out-of-control Zhaan could be. Maldis's excuse is he's an energy vampire and needs to eat. Zhaan would be Ax-Crazy and go on a rampage just for the giggles.
    • Played with in season 3 when John finds out that playing with wormholes is fucking about with the entire fabric of reality. The only reason he reenters the system is that he has no choice. He still messes up though.
    • At the end of season 4 John does this with a home-made nuke in order to try to pull a fast one on the Scarrans and Peacekeepers. Done again on a much bigger scale in Peacekeeper Wars; John holds the entire galaxy to ransom with the wormhole weapon. This time, he really wasn't bluffing.
    • The Peacekeepers begin as the Big Bad of the series. This only lasts until the emergence of the Scarran Imperium, and just why Scorpius is so desperate to get his hands on wormhole weapons. The Scarrans are such a major threat to the rest of the galaxy that for a brief moment near the end of season 3, Crichton was genuinely considering helping Scorpius. Harvey, who by this point is actively helping Crichton and, in his own words, "[shares] his intellect, but not his passions and his fears," thinks Scorpius is right.
  • Angel: Season 4. The world is on the verge of an unexpected Apocalypse when the Beast blocks out the sun over LA to create a 24-hour demon playground. The only thing that can stop it is Angel's Superpowered Evil Side, Angelus, the greatest mass murderer in recorded history and one of the worst vampires ever heard of. Even Angel agrees it has to be done and Angelus is freed. Then the only way to then stop Angelus is to break out a convicted murderer note , Faith the Vampire Slayer, who has to use her Death Seeker nature to almost commit suicide because Angelus is that hard for even a Slayer to defeat.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Last Sontaran", despite the fact that Sarah Jane Doesn't Like Guns and distrusts the military, the presence of a Sontaran ship on Earth prompts her to immediately make plans to call in UNIT.
  • Star Trek:
    • Whenever a single omega particle is detected, Omega protocol authorizes the captain of the vessel to use any means (even breaking the Prime Directive) to destroy it. Why the panic? The decomposition of just one killed a bunch of scientists and rendered warp travel impossible for a radius of several light years.
    • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate!" involved them considering passing the Threshold to prevent the spread of an alien pancake parasite. Kirk demanded they find and Take a Third Option.
    • Kodos the Executioner/Anton Karidian in The Original Series episode "The Conscience of the King" used this as his excuse to execute half the colonists of the Tarsus IV colony when a fungus destroyed most of their food supply. It's worth noting that he was wrong about one of his assumptions: It turned out that the Federation did manage to get relief supplies to the colony in time. Had he turned out to be right...
    • Deep Space Nine discusses this several times during the Dominion War arcs, both at a governmental level (with Section 31, that thinks the Federation is constantly living on the edge of the Threshold and this gives them reason to do every single thing they do, no matter how monstrous) and a personal and moral level (such as in the episode "In The Pale Moonlight").
    • While we've never seen it enacted, the existence of Starfleet General Order 24 shows the Federation's awareness that such situations can arise: General Order 24 is an order to destroy all life on a planet (and it does not require Starfleet Command's approval to be enacted, although obviously a captain that ordered it without due cause would be liable to be found unfit for duty by the CMO, and probably relieved of duty even before the order is followed through, to say nothing of courts martial afterwards, etc.).
    • The Borg Collective's very existence is considered the threshold for the Federation. Whenever they've shown up in any of the TV series or movies, Starfleet has been willing to employ whatever means necessary to stop them from assimilating the Federation. The TNG episode "I, Borg" included the deployment of a computer virus that would kill every single Borg drone, a violation of the Federation's sacred principle of not using genocidal weapons or tactics.
    • Also from the Borg, Deep Space Nine reveals that after the battle of Wolf 359, where a single Borg Cube routed an entire Federation fleet, they authorised the creation of the Defiant, the first ever Federation space ship with no other purpose than combat.
    • Officially, the Federation has laws that forbid its citizens from going back in time and/or messing with the timeline in any way. However, if a situation has become so bad that the only solution is time travel, then the Department of Temporal Investigations is generally willing to look the other way.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the first season, the station's dockworkers go on strike. Faced with a complete shutdown of the station's operations, Commander Sinclair is authorized to end the strike "By any means necessary". He does the unthinkable and reallocates part of the station's military budget to meet the dockworkers' demands.
    • In Season 4, first the Vorlons, then the Shadows decide to stop playing around and start laying waste to each other's allied planets all across the galaxy. They only solution they have left is to locate the rest of the First Ones, each a Sufficiently Advanced Alien on the level of the Vorlons and Shadows, and convince them to come back and engage the Vorlons and the Shadows in one last elaborate gambit.
    • The Earth-Minbari War was one for Earth Alliance. As shown in In the Beginning, realization of the Minbari's power caused Earth Alliance to start freely fielding nukes (usually kept in reserve), buying alien weapons (something they don't usually do, preferring to reverse-engineer technologies to not become dependent on the sellers and to understand how they work e.g. so they don't blow up in their face), and even ramming Minbari ships to just try and slow them down enough to evacuate a sizable part of Earth's population away from the genocidal enemy. Even ten years after the Minbari decided to spare Mankind and surrender, Earth is still trying to put together a more powerful fleet, even fielding Wave Motion Guns and collaborating with the Shadows.
    • The backstory has the Dilgar War as one for the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Attacked for no apparent reason by the Space Nazi and being slowly overwhelmed, the League begged for help from the Centauri Republic, the Narn Regime and Earth Alliance... In spite of being an alliance formed specifically to defend from Centauri expansionism, having added the Narn to the list after seeing they were just as bad as the Narn, and Earth apparently being either a Centauri client or another expansionist regime. The Centauri and the Narn, having other issues (including the resurgence of the old enemy of the Centauri) and some kind of agreement with the Dilgar, refused, but Earth Alliance didn't, and proved crucial to save the day... And non-expansionist.
  • Played for Laughs on Parks and Recreation. When Ron's first wife Tammi ("Tammi One") takes a hold of him again, Leslie tries to recruit his second, equally manipulative ex-wife Tammi ("Tammi Two"). Leslie explains 'When you are fighting Godzilla, you need Mothra.'
  • In Haven, Duke Crocker has the power to completely erase a Trouble by killing one person who has it. Duke never willingly uses it, since he finds killing abominable and Audrey and the others usually find a non-lethal solution to Troubles. Duke was willing to use it on a guy whose unknowing Reality Warper Trouble was about to destroy the town with an Alien Invasion he imagined, but Nathan then solves the problem before he can. Later, they face a guy whose organs progressively fail, forcing him to harvest organs from his family members, as well as trigger the same affliction in anybody who escapes from him. Audrey tells Duke he has no choice, he has to use his ability. Duke eventually relents and kills the guy. Even later, he resorts to killing a baby's father (with the father's permission) to end the child's ability to kill people with his cries.
  • The first half of Warehouse 13 season 4 is built on this. The artifact the team spends episode 4.01 searching for unleashes an evil into the world. Considering that the alternative is the whole world being completely drained of all hope, this is the better alternative. Of course, the evil they unleash decides to invoke the Godzilla Threshold as well in hopes that the team will undo what they did.
  • The Great Legend War in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger invokes this when Akaranger has the other Super Sentai to sacrifice their powers to drive off the Zangyack. They get better at the end of the series.
  • Basically every episode of Ultraman. When everything else the anti-monster team tried has failed, they hit a point where having another giant guy wrestle around with the monster and shooting laser beams isn't such a bad option.
  • Person of Interest:
    • The first example is when Root is let out of her cage to help save Reese.
    • The second is when The Machine gives them an interesting number, it wants them to kill a high ranking US Congressman to stop the creation of a second machine whose first directive is to kill Finch. Throughout the entire series Finch refuses to allow the Machine to act without restriction, even in response to Samaritan, fearing that without limits the Machine would end up being no better than Samaritan. After Samaritan agents kill Elias and Root, Finch finally decides to unleash the full power of the Machine.
  • The TAHITI Protocol in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which somehow saves Coulson from his near-death in The Avengers. TAHITI infused him with alien blood, risking insanity to save the Agent.
  • In Continuum, one particular Bad Future has a band of post-apocalyptic raiders attacking the base of the Freelancers, an organization dedicated to suppressing time travel, as a last-ditch "Hail Mary" play to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Then the sergeant hands one of his men an experimental device.
    Sergeant: That's right. The Hail Mary now has a Hail Mary.
  • An Hour To Save Your Life, a medical documentary series on The BBC, showed two people receiving surgery under general anaesthetic at the roadside because they were dying of internal bleeding after being severely injured in road accidents. One had open heart surgery, and the other was given the REBOA treatment, which is risky in an operating theatre, never mind at the side of a road. The medics decided that the patients could not wait to be taken to hospital.
  • 24: Crossed in every season.
    • On Day 2, CTU locates the terrorist nuke before it detonates, but is unable to disarm, forcing George Mason to fly it into a remote area of the Mojave desert to safely allow it to explode. This still kills a small number of people who couldn't be warned in time.
    • On Day 4, President Keeler authorizes a cruise missile strike that will kill his own secretary of defense, reasoning that it's better for him to die in that manner before terrorists can execute him on a live internet stream.
    • On Day 6, Wayne Palmer orders a nuclear strike on the terrorists' home country to force the prime minister to get off his ass and start working with America to prevent further terrorist attacks on American soil. The strike turns out to be a bluff, however.
    • In Live Another Day, President Heller offers himself up to be executed by terrorists to prevent further drone attacks on London.
  • Threshold:
    • In "Shock", the Department of Homeland Security has an infectee in lockup, because he may know how to find two terrorists. Threshold is convinced that he is am imminent escape risk unless he is in their own (higher security) lockup. They're right, by the way. After Caffrey fails to convince the Secretary of Homeland Security to hand him over, Cavanaugh seriously proposes that they capture him by force - in other words, that they assault a US government facility. The plan isn't implemented, but that it was even discussed shows how serious the threat is.
    • In "Pulse", when the signal begins to infect cellphones and other computers, Threshold detonates an EMP weapon in Miami, wiping out every computer within 40 miles of the city.
    • At the end of "Outbreak", when the number of known infectees has jumped from a dozen or so to over 200, Threshold implements new protocols, including a citywide wiretap in Washington, DC. Molly explicitly states that the people's civil rights will be curtailed until the threat is resolved.
  • Arrow: In the penultimate episode of Season 5, Prometheus and his allies capture all of Oliver's friends and inner circle members. Desperate to save them, Oliver has no choice but to turn to several past enemies for help, including Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson — the respective Big Bads of Seasons 1 and 2, and before Prometheus came along, the top two contenders for the title of Oliver's Arch-Enemy.
  • In The Defenders, the Hand plans on sinking New York City into the ground, three of the titular heroes resolve that to stop them they must explode their headquarters while all their leaders are inside. This coming from Matt Murdock (who has spent two seasons staunchly standing by his no-kill rule), Claire Temple (who derides murder being the only answer to anything) and Colleen Wing (who refuses to kill Bakuto because she won't be much better than him if she does so), and it takes a lot of from each single one of them to convince Luke to agree with their plan.

    Multiple Media 
    • The Toa's Nova blasts. It's been attempted two times in the known story for such purposes — when Toa Jaller and the Toa Mahri faced all six of the Barraki and their army of sea beasts and tried to stop them from reaching Matoro (who was at the time busy resurrecting the entire fricken' universe); and when Toa Helryx tried to create a flood inside the resurrected but Makuta-possessed Great Spirit's brain, thereby causing the robot and the universe inside it to shut off, effectively killing every being in it — both attempts were hindered, thankfully.
    • When the Bohrok-Kal were about to free their masters the Bahrag and re-unleash the Bohrok swarms upon Mata Nui, Tahu broke out his secret weapon that he was never supposed to use: The Kanohi Vahi, AKA the Mask of Time. Using it buys the Toa a few more critical seconds but also nearly destroys the universe.
    • In the prequel novel "Time Trap", Vakama has the Mask of Time, but is stuck in a fight between the Big Bad and the leader of a league of assassins. What does he do? He threatens to destroy the Mask, and with it all of reality.
    • When Botar teleported the Tahtorak onto the industrious island of Xia out of fun, it started wrecking the place, so they released the similarly giant Kanohi Dragon to fight it, which in turn lead to even more destruction.

  • In Judaism, the principle of pikuach nefesh states that almost any religious consideration or law may be broken in order to save a specific human life from an immediate danger. For example, although it is forbidden to do work on the shabbat, including driving a car, you can use a car to drive someone to the hospital if they need immediate treatment. Similarly, if a pregnant woman has a craving for a non-kosher food, she is allowed to eat it, as it is assumed that not eating it will have negative consequences for the fetus. There are only a very small number of laws that cannot be broken, including killing another human being, and even that is permitted in cases of self-defense (or the defense of others).

  • In ice hockey, a team that is down a goal or two near the end of the game or so may elect to pull their goalie to put another attacker on the ice. It gives the possibility of tying the game, at the risk of the leading team having a much easier chance of scoring again. On average, the leading team scores an empty net goal about 1/3 of the time while the trailing team scores a goal about 1/9 of the time — in the long run this strategy is detrimental to the team that pulled its goalie. However, in most cases, what matters is that you've lost the game and not what the margin of defeat was. In addition, recent developments in professional-level play have indicated that it may actually be more beneficial to pull the goalie earlier than was considered normal. In an example of this turned Up to Eleven, in a 2015 NCAA playoff game, the Miami RedHawks played 12 minutes and 48 seconds with an empty net down 4 goals. The RedHawks managed not to give up a single goal with the empty net and managed 3 goals, losing 6-5.
  • In Association Football (soccer), a team that's a goal down in the dying minutes of a game may choose to send their goalkeeper up front for a set play, such as a corner kick. The downside to this is that if the other team manages to gain possession of the ball, the goalkeeper probably won't be able to sprint back to his own goal in time to prevent the opposition from scoring easily. Therefore, this tactic is only used in times of urgent desperation. In the indoor version futsal, the alternative is a combination of this and hockey: the goalkeeper is removed, and a line player that can play goal becomes a "line keeper", guarding the net but more focused on attack.
  • In American football, the Hail Mary (having every receiver run to the endzone and throwing the ball up for grabs with a long forward pass) is an incredibly risky play that's just as likely to give the opposing team the ball as it is to succeed. As a result, it is rarely called. However, on occasion, when a team is losing with little to no time left on the clock, it becomes their only real chance of winning the game — and sometimes it works.
    • If passing isn't an option, the offense can try to continuously lateral the ball to keep the play alive. This is often referred to as the "Stanford band play" after a 1982 football game in which California University completed five laterals on a kickoff return to win the game, but the Stanford marching band had run onto the field believing that the game had ended. Due to the insane risk of this play (as failed attempts often end with the defense recovering the ball), this is reserved for the absolute last moment of the game. On the rare occasion it works, it can be magnificent: a Division III college football game ended with one team making 15 laterals on the final play to win the game.
      • Slightly averted in a 2003 NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars. Down 7 with a few seconds remaining, the Saints completed a lateral play to score a touchdown as time expired. The Saints just needed an extra point to tie the game and send it to overtime (which, prior to 2015, was extremely easy and had about a 99.5% success rate), but kicker John Carney missed and the Jaguars won the game by a single point.
  • In Basketball, fouling an opponent in the act of shooting (or in certain other situations) gives the opponent free throws, which are generally much more efficient than regular offense (most players make around 75% of free throws, meaning two free throws will yield 1.5 points on average, while regular offense yields about one point per possession). However, doing this also stops the clock and (most likely) gives the ball back to the other team. In late game situations, the team that is behind will intentionally foul the opponent and hope that they will miss their free throws in order to stop the clock and get the ball back. This rarely works, but it's the last option for a team that is losing to try and prolong the game to tie or even win.
    • A similar strategy is the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy, wherein a team continually fouls a player who's really bad at making free throws (the strategy is named after Shaquille O'Neal, who was infamously bad at free throws) in the hopes that their opponents score less from the stripe than in regular play. There have been calls for the rule that allows this strategy to be changed, however.
  • In Handball the goalie can be pulled just like he can be in Ice Hockey. However, due to a 2010s change of the rules, he can also be replaced in a "flying exchange", making teams much more likely to pull the goalie outside of "down a lot, seconds left on the clock" type situations. It even happens that both teams pull the goalie.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium has Exterminatus, a type of orbital bombardment deliberately designed to kill everything on the target planet. Despite Memetic Mutation about Inquisitors who order it for minor heresy, it's only used when something so dangerous is on the planet that Kill 'em All is the best solution. Such as:
      • Chaos. A cult uprising is one thing, but if daemons are rampaging around at will, the world may be past saving. Even if the Imperium managed to cleanse the planet, the taint of Chaos would remain, like lingering radiation that's also sentient and teaches people how to build dirty bombs. As Ciaphas Cain, note  notes, the problem with destroying a planet in the grip of Chaos is that past a certain point the world isn't quite physically there anymore, so the best you can do is try to quarantine it.
      • Tyranids. If a Hive Fleet conquers a planet, even at a staggering cost, it will just add the world's bio-mass to the swarm and recycle the corpses of its dead, emerging only stronger. A controversial but effective tactic is to bait the Tyranids into committing most of a swarm to taking a world, only to blow it up before they can set about harvesting it, with any friendly casualties being acceptable losses. Unfortunately, the ever-evolving Tyranids have bred burrowing organisms capable of riding out such an orbital apocalypse.
    Inquisitor Kryptman devised a "scorched earth" strategy against Hive Fleet Leviathan, exterminating not just worlds undergoing Tyranid attack, but those in the fleet's path. While his gambit arguably succeeded in slowing the Tyranid advance, battlezone morale plummeted, billions died in the largest act of genocide since the Horus Heresy, and Kryptman himself was excommunicated. Though the Imperium is perfectly willing to sacrifice tens of billions of men to win a war, humans are a renewable resource. Habitable worlds are not.
    Kryptman outdid himself with his second plan to deal with Leviathan, capturing a bunch of Genestealers (already horrendously dangerous as a single escaped specimen could doom a planet) and dropping them in the Ork Octavius Empire to lure the fleet away from Imperial space. It worked, given the Imperium time to regroup, and Orks and Nids from all over the region began flocking to Octavius. But because Nids absorb traits from those they eat and Orks get bigger and tougher the more they fight, whoever wins is going to be stronger than both initial forces combined.
    It's worth noting that really desperate alliances can be formed when the 'Nids come calling. Yes, it's possible for the Imperium, Eldar and Chaos working together to fend off the 'Nids. They're that bad.
    • In Space Marine, Exterminatus is mentioned as a solution to an Ork invasion, but is dismissed immediately. The world in question is one of the dozen or so worlds capable of manufacturing Titans and has a nearly completed Titan in storage, the loss of which would set back Imperial operations for centuries. Put together, it means that in this case, Exterminatus is not an option.
    • The individual planets in Dawn of War II: Retribution are not beyond saving, but all of the sub-sector has been under attack for the past ten years and they're being attacked by nearly every major threat in the Imperium. The region has devolved into such a clusterfuck that most in the Inquisition see Exterminatus as the only viable course of action.
    • Codex: Grey Knights describes something called "the Terminus Decree." Knowledge of its existence is restricted to the Supreme Grand Master, who is only to access it when all of humanity is in peril of extinction or corruption.
    • The Necron Tesseract Vault is essentially a weaponised device caging a Transcendent C'tan shard. When things really go to hell, the Nemesors can disable the seals and allow the C'tan loose, an act which could be loosely defined as "suicidally reckless" given that the C'tan have no reason at all to be fond of the Necrons, and which is spelled out in the fluff as being just as dangerous to the Necrons as to their enemies.
    • As the Eldar become more desperate, they start deploying more technology that they consider abominable to ensure their survival. Weapons like the D-Scythe (which literally strips the target's soul from them) are deployed by Craftworld forces, and Wraith constructs (Golems controlled by a dead Eldar, a process akin to Necromancy that permanently strips them from the Craftworld's infinity circuit) are used more and more often. The Dark Eldar actually rescued a Craftworld who had resorted to using constructs since they were amused by the Craftworld Eldar desecrating their dead in that manner and wanted them to live with their decision. The most desperate tactic is to activate the Avatar of Khaine, which requires the willing sacrifice of an Aspect Warrior Exarch.
      • These measures have now been topped by the actions of the new Eldar subfaction, the Ynnari, on two occasions, no less. The first was bringing forth the avatar of the slowly-awakening God of the Dead, Ynnead, at the cost of literally breaking Craftworld Biel-Tan. The second is less horrifying to the Eldar, but could still come back to bite them, and that is that Yvraine, the Herald of Ynnead, helped revive Roboute Guilliman to lead the Imperium. Yes, he's mostly going to be focused on fighting Chaos, as the Ynnari intended, but if the Imperium has a reason to oppose the Eldar in anything, they're now going to be doing it with the leadership of the most strategically-minded of the Emperor's Primarchs.
    • The deployment of Imperial Titans is a mild version of this trope, as even the most basic Warhound Titan requires a good few centuries to construct. As a result, Titan Legions tends to be confined to the Forge Worlds they're built at as a purely defensive force, so that if one were to fall it would be easy to retrieve it's shell. Generally, their deployment is one sign that the world is on it's way to Exterminatus, as if the titans were to fail, there would be little else the Imperium can do for the planet at that point.
      • And even Titans are old tech; if things get even worse than that, the Adeptus Mechanicus may see themselves forced to, Omnissiah forbid, innovate and actually build something new to take care of the threat that's driven them to this point. The results are usually Ordinatus war machines, which are absolutely gigantic Military Mashup Machines that are specialized to take care of the threat in question by way of equipping them with a couple small weapons (rather than the giant arsenal of a titan), and one ludicrously huge and powerful piece of armament as the main gun, designed around the problem. Previous Ordinatus weapons have included a massive sonic cannon that melted a previously impregnable fortress to the ground in a single shot, a Macross Missile Massacre dispenser that shredded a huge WAAAGH in a week, and a plasma slinger that vaporized entire tank battalions with every blast. The Admech are very reticent to even create these things, let alone use them, and they are likely to keep them mothballed forever unless a threat of similar nature and caliber shows up again.
    • In the tabletop game, this is represented by the "Come the Apocalypse, but Not Before" level of the Allies matrix in the rulebook, which designates how factions can work together. In the 6th edition rules, this level was reserved for the Tyranids and kept them from allying with any other faction. In the 7th edition rules, this was tweaked to mean factions so antithetical to each other that teaming up is only done as the most desperate of measures ó or, depending on how you play it in the narrative, two enemies who just happen to attack a third mutual enemy at the same time. This is represented by these allies following the Desperate Allies rulesnote  but with the further restriction of not being able to deploy within 12" of each other on the battlefield. Tyranids are still at this level with all other factions, but Imperial forces are also here with anything Chaos-related. This has caused the fandom to come up with some truly threshold worthy scenarios: Grey Knights allying with Daemons from all four Gods of Chaos to defeat something even more horrible, or the Eldar willingly ally with Slaaneshi forces to destroy something of even greater threat. In both cases, the forces are mortal enemies of each other.
  • Warhammer: In the End Times, Teclis engineers the revival of Nagash because he needed someone as powerful and as intimately tied to magic as him to become the Incarnate of Death, so that they may command the winds of magic to defeat the Chaos Gods. Similarly, several other races have such moments as well. Such as the revival of Sigmar and the Skavens finally uniting as a single coherent force. Unfortunately, in a subversion, these were still apparently not enough as the Chaos Gods still win in the end due to Mannfred's betrayal.
  • As the Old World of Darkness drew to a close, the Antediluvian vampire Zapathasura (sire of the Ravnos clan) rose in India and began wrecking things. The Technocracy responded with a Code Ragnarok, their contingency plan for 'if we don't win this, the world ends today' events. It involved solar mirrors (to direct the equivalent of five suns at the super-vampire), Prime-enhanced spirit-shredding nuclear weapons, weather control machines, and more. Ragnarok authorized the use of the entire Technocratic arsenal, a 100% civilian casualty rate and a 100% operative casualty rate — had Ravnos not been killed by the orbital solar mirrors, God only knows what they'd have used next, if they had anything else to use. This being the World of Darkness, things did indeed get worse thanks to Code Ragnarok. The Shadowlands were destroyed, the Fallen escaped from the Abyss, and the Time of Judgement began. Still, it beat the world ending that afternoon.
  • New World of Darkness:
    • Changelings in serious trouble who cross this Threshold can make use of a Goblin Contract titled "Call The Hunt" — you summon The Fair Folk to your location and they'll arrive soon, expecting one of their own to be in danger. On a critical failure, they'll arrive anyway, but they'll know who summoned them. The fluff mentions that while other Goblin Contracts have a drawback, this one doesn't — its effect is already its own drawback.
    • A villainous example in Princess: The Hopeful with Dethroned, Nobles who have crossed the Despair Event Horizon, turning them into warped, uncontrollable monsters. While they are technically creatures of the Darkness, Darkened and Darkspawns find them terrifying, as they constantly warp the dark around them, destroying sentience in Dark beings and turning them into their slaves. As such, they typically avoid Dethroned, and only lure them on the battlefield when they are desperate.
  • Exalted:
    • Elementals take on increasingly draconic forms as they grow in power, culminating in a transformation into a Greater Elemental Dragon. The Kukla is a Greater Elemental Dragon of Earth, whose mere presence is so destructive that he's been sealed away until the Unconquered Sun, ruler of Heaven and arbiter of justice, decides that the situation in Creation is so far past the Threshold that the general apocalypse resulting from the Kukla's release cannot possibly make things worse. Just to be perfectly clear: the Kukla is several miles long, utterly indestructible, completely insane, and possibly destined to destroy the world. Things have to be REALLY bad for "Release the Kukla!" to be a good idea.
    • Glories of the Most High revealed that the Unconquered Sun also has the authority to temporarily (if lucky) release a Yozi from Malfeas/Hell. Do mind that the Yozis are insane, world-making, world-sized Titans that have been seeping in divine amount of hatred and misery for several millennia. One of the Yozis, before being defeated by the Exalted, destroyed 90% of Creation — and the remaining portion is several times larger than Earth. Creation is liable to suffer several disasters where their presence is preferable to the alternative (and the Player Characters are tasked with taking care of it).
    • Beyond all of those is the Eschaton Key. When Malfeas created the Unconquered Sun, he granted him the power to utterly annihilate Creation in the event that any of its worst enemies should gain control over it. It's been used only once; to destroy the rival Creation that an enemy Primordial attempted to supplant the original with. After that, the Unconquered Sun sealed his world destroying power within a broken device that is beyond the ability of anyone less than the most powerful Solars to repair and operate.
    • Return of the Scarlet Empress revealed that if things get really, really, Ebon-Dragon-just-signed-his-name-on-the-Moon bad, there are certain world-shaking Astrology charms that can be unlocked for the Sidereals. These allow them to do things like give gods or Exalts battlefield promotions - to Celestial Incarnae.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Vengeful Gaze of God from the Epic Level Handbook is an epic level spell that will almost certainly kill whatever you're casting it on... but the chances of the caster surviving to is slim to none. Even the book says "The backlash damagenote  will almost certainly kill the caster, but most would consider this cost worth it."
    • In 3e/3.5e, anything in the Elder Evils rulebook. By the end of the plot arc involving (insert featured superboss here), a spell that obliterates your section of the Multiverse would probably be deemed an acceptable course of action to stop those creatures, especially in Atropus's case.
    • 3.5e's wu jen spell transcend mortality. When you cast the spell, you become nigh indestructible for the duration. The cost? You burn out the rest of your life force to cast the spell, and when the effect ends, turn into a small pile of ash.
    • It is generally known that if someone tries to put one extradimensional storage device (e.g., a Bag of Holding) inside another (e.g., a Portable Hole), the result is a catastrophic rending of the fabric of the universe. The extent of this rip depends on the GM's whim, but by and large the result is usually miles in diameter, cannot be done from range, and kills everyone and everything within the "blast" zone (okay, there's a slim chance of being cast into another plane instead). Adventurers have been known to do this anyway, if the situation is dire enough.
    • The artifact called the Bringer of Doom opens a massive cross-rip into Hades and releases thousands of hordlings over a radius of several miles. The user never survives.
    • A mage with one of the most powerful magical staves in the game - a staff of power or staff of the Magi - can perform what is euphemistically called a "retributive strike" — breaking the staff itself, killing herself (...usually...) and making a very big mess of the surrounding area.
  • Players in Call of Cthulhu with a bent towards magic can summon Azathoth to Earth. Azathoth, the boss of bosses of the Cthulhu Mythos, the blind idiot god that sits at the center of reality and is best described as a cross between an titanic amoeba and an ever-expanding nuclear explosion. Presumably, a sane player would only do this if the stars have become so right that Cthulhu and his pals are tap-dancing down Main Street. Keeping the mechanics of the game in mind, any situation where summoning Azathoth wouldn't make the situation significantly worse will almost certainly already have rendered all the player characters irretrievably insane.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the Duel Terminal storyline, the Ice Barrier tribe fought against the invading Worms and Fabled by progressively unlocking seals on a series of powerful Ice Barrier monsters. Eventually, they wound up pushed so far back against the wall that they released Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barriernote . In its berserk rampage, Trishula wiped out nearly everybody, friend and foe alike, including the Ice Barrier tribe themselves. Later expansions on the storyline show that there were survivors, just not very many. The only know survivors from the Ice Barrier were those who weren't present at the time.
  • In Witchcraft, the Mad Gods are seen this way by the Mocker covenant. The point is made that if an incarnation of a Mad God is imminent, a Mocker will stop at nothing to prevent it ("If doing so requires him to detonate a nuclear device in downtown New York, so be it").
  • Trinity almost had this as part of the backstory. When the Aberrants were truly ruining the world, China politely informed them that if they didn't leave the planet immediately, the entirety of China's orbital platforms would perform a simultaneous nuclear bombardment on every surface of the earth until it was turned into glass. Rather than preside over an empire of smoldering, irradiated, fused carbon and silicon, the Aberrants decided to take off, and China took its proverbial finger away from the Big Red Button.
  • One high-clearance Paranoia NPC, faced with the prospect of another one blowing up all of Alpha Complex with an Old Reckoning antimatter bomb, gives the PCs his ID card (the equivalent to the Director of the FBI giving you his ID; essentially, the insane computer in charge of the facility can't stop you from anything) before running away from the approaching interrogators.
  • In Strike Legion, each Strike Team has access to the "Ultimate Solution": a piece of weaponized nanotech so powerful it can destroy an entire Dyson Sphere in seconds. Use of this weapon is considered an extreme last resort, for obvious reasons; Legionaires are usually sent in for more covert missions where outright annihilation of a target is not acceptable, and typically pack planet-ending firepower as standard kit, which puts the need for them to have a "last resort" weapon in perspective. If the Ultimate Solution becomes necessary, things have gotten really bad.
  • In Eclipse Phase, Firewall deploys "erasure squads" to eliminate existential threats that have gotten out of hand and can no longer be contained by the sentinel teams. Erasure squads' tactics range from assaulting and killing everything in a building to nuking an entire habitat with a kinetic strike. Furthermore, Firewall is fully prepared to cover the tracks of an erasure squad's actions by forging evidence proving some other faction was responsible for the atrocity in order to maintain Firewall's own operational security, even if this means burning the sentinel team that was unable to contain the x-threat.
  • In Mutants & Masterminds 2nd and 3rd edition, the supplement Hero High, which contains rules for making teenage heroes presents a character drawback (2nd)or advantage (3rd) called Holding Back, where the character is far more powerful than the campaign power level describes, but they don't use it because doing so is dangerous. The level of power gained is fairly significant (typically jumping the character from a city or regional hero to a cosmic level threat), but unlocking it is fairly difficult. In order for the player to use it, half the party must be dead or otherwise incapacitated/occupied, or not doing it will result in a catastrophic loss of life. Even then, the character will need to make a Will check to temporarily remove the mental barriers the character had put in place for so long. The result is a significant boost in power, but with a significant cost, such as the character simply exploding from the sheer volume of energy, or the character entering a Berserker Rage, or even becoming possessed by the character's less-than-friendly benefactor, providing a mechanical risk to using their power.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Godzilla, the literal Godzilla threshold is crossed when the Japanese government decides to awaken and control Godzilla in order to fight aliens and the monsters they send; later, when making Godzilla stronger by way of injecting King Ghidorah cells; and in the final two stages, where it becomes necessary to pour huge amounts of energy into Big G in order to turn him into Super Godzilla.
  • In the Geneforge series, the rebellion which breaks out in the 3rd game is on the edge of defeat by the 4th. While the humans and serviles in the rebellion could survive being ruled by the Shapers again, the drakons know they will not be allowed to exist under Shaper rule. To turn the war, they create the Unbound, which are massively powerful but completely insane, and release them into Shaper lands to rampage around.
  • Halo:
    • Ordering the creation of the SPARTAN-II program was considered this by ONI Command. The Insurrectionists on the colony worlds commonly used coordinated terrorist tactics in order to forcibly declare independence from the UEG. The UNSC military wasn't able to keep up, even though they had far greater numbers, due to the collateral damage that a large scale military intervention would have been caused. Thus, kidnapping and manipulating six-year-old children into sociopathic walking tanks was considered preferable to the potential loss of innocent life that a drawn-out civil war would have caused.
    • The SPARTAN-III program was also this for ONI. The Covenant war was going so poorly for humanity that the idea to recruit traumatized war orphans and turn them into suicide super soldiers by their early teens was actually approved, with over nine hundred Spartan-IIIs trained and deployed over the course of the war.
    • The Flood evoke this reaction in every species that has encountered it.
      • When a Flood-infested ship crashes in New Mombasa during Halo 3, Commander Keyes proposes to overload a slipstream engine inside the city and wiping out everything in the area. Though usually rather cautious in his decisions, Lord Hood only replies with "Do it!"
      • Later, when the Elites, who had shown up in a Big Damn Heroes moment, torch a good chunk of Africa to get rid of the infestation, Lord Hood protests this action. The Elite Shipmaster responds that he fully intended to burn all of Earth just to make sure that every last Flood spore was absolutely dead, and only the Arbiter arguing against it stopped him from doing so.
      • The Forerunners built the original version of the Halo Array in the first place to keep themselves in power as the supreme species in the galaxy. When the Flood came to the galaxy and overran every defense they could muster, the Forerunners activated the Array, frying the nervous system of every creature in the galaxy capable of hosting Flood spores. In a way, they did defeat a threat to their power.
      • Even before the Halos were built, this was why the Advanced Ancient Humans started wiping out Forerunner colonies with massive orbital bombardment. They weren't trying to start a war they couldn't win. They wanted to stop the Flood, but they knew that they wouldn't be able to convince the Forerunners of the threat (especially since they were eliminating all the evidence).
  • It's a relatively minor and easy to miss one, but in Armored Core 4: For Answer, you can become one, if you kill hundreds of millions of people by bringing down the cradle, Otsdarva will be one of the 5 NEXT teaming up to take you down as payback.
  • The Big Bads of [PROTOTYPE] are ready to nuke Manhattan to stop the spread of Redlight. This is supposed to be the chocolate syrup on their villainy sundae. The problem is, Redlight is so apocalyptically dangerous — it has to be far past the Godzilla threshold, or Alex could never be the "hero" — that to the player this can seem like a reasonable, if grim, last-ditch effort to save the rest of the world.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • World in Conflict: Nuking Cascade Falls to prevent the Soviets from finding out about SDI (the only thing stopping the Soviets from using nuclear weapons... and a fake reassurance, since it's completely non-functional), and at the end of the game, nearly nuking Seattle to prevent the Chinese, coming to reinforce the failing Soviet invasion, from landing there.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Bowser can only be turned into Giant Bowser when his life is in mortal danger, e.g. when he is flattened by an enemy far too big to fight normally.
  • At one point in Tales of the Abyss, Jade suggests that the only way to save the world is to sacrifice the lives of 10,000 replicas, which in game basically boils down to sacrificing 10,000 babies. A few hours later, you really don't get a choice otherwise.
  • Star Fox 64: As you're facing down a battalion of Andross's ships, the enemy general is throwing everything at you, save for a prototype the scientists insist is too dangerous. At the end of the level, he yells "Deploy it now!", and the prototype serves as the boss — a biomechanical dimension-hopping battlecruiser with free will.
  • Wild ARMs 2:
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Any situation in which the Black Box-laden Demon Summoning Program is authorized for use by a higher authority.
    • In Devil Survivor, the government has a 'final option' that it will unleash on the Yamamote Line if they can't take control of the situation taking place inside, and is why nobody inside has more than six days to live. It's a chip installed in all japanese electronics that lets the government control them remotely, and use it to create enormous amounts of EM radiation which would fry every electric circuit and every living being inside. Incidentally, this is the smallest of three Thresholds in the game.
    • In Devil Survivor 2, on Friday, you discover a giant magic circle. Later that day, you encounter the Asteroids Monster Mizar. Attacking one of its blobs with anything short of a One-Hit Kill causes it to split, and leaving them alone allows them to grow and split at their leisure. At the rate it's growing, Mizar will be everywhere in a day. When you mention the magic circle to Yamato, he reveals that its power would suffice, but it's currently preventing the last few steps of The End of the World as We Know It. He forces you to work it out yourself, but it does turn out that Mizar is now the bigger threat to existence.
  • StarCraft:
    • Starcraft:
    • The Protoss consider the Threshold crossed when they find out the Zerg have infested a world. Their standard solution is an orbital bombardment that burns everything on the planet to a crisp. Even this turns out not to be enough, as the Zerg are perfectly capable of digging burrows deep enough to avoid destruction and hibernating until more prey arrives.
    • Arcturus Mengsk uses the Confederacy's corruption as an excuse to justify using a psi emitter to lure the Zerg to their capital world, then lets the Protoss burn the Zerg and Confederates both. Everyone else sees it as Mengsk revealing his true colors as a power-hungry psychopath who will do anything to establish and keep his rule. The Threshold had not been crossed in anyone's opinion but Mengsk's.
    • Then along comes StarCraft II, when it turns out that the Zerg need to be allied with, against an oncoming threat even more terrible — a fallen Xel'Naga, and an army of even more lethal Protoss/Zerg Hybrids. This is enough to get Zeratul, who had previously sworn an oath of vengeance against Kerrigan, to start arguing that they need to keep her alive at all costs.
    • Archons are the pinnacle of Protoss psionic power, made from two High Templar sacrificing themselves to form a being of Pure Energy that deals high damage to everything in sight. Of course, that's in-story. In-game, most players use their High Templar to cast Psionic Storm twice, then merge them into Archons.
    • Dark Archons can't attack, instead casting spells such as Mana Burn, a mass stun, and the ever-popular Mind Control. Their creation was banned, allowed only in order to defeat the new Overmind, and banned again until Zeratul's visions proved they were up against a galaxy-destroying Eldritch Abomination.
    • Colossi are both this and Old Shame: They were war machines created by the Protoss but used in planet-wide massacres. The Protoss were so ashamed they locked up the Colossi in asteroids, only bringing them back online to fight in SC2.
    • The Spear of Adun was one of these, made while the Protoss had their Golden Age at their peak, when a few of their higher castes realized it wouldn't last forever and a situation that would qualify for this trope would arise. They sealed it away just to make sure they wouldn't break it out for something petty, too. And when the Darkest Hour came, they had to go into a massive Zerg infestation in the ruins of Aiur, sustaining some awful casualties, just to retrieve it (its sister ships were destroyed in the fall, so they were not an option).
  • In World of Warcraft, the Threshold is pretty consistent: for really, really bad threats, the Horde and Alliance work together. Most of the time they're at each others' throats in a Cold War or even proxy war. Against pests or regional threats, the Alliance and the Horde ignore each other or even try to backstab each other so their own people can claim the glory of beating the threat first. But against an awakened Old God, the beachhead of a demonic invasion, the Lich King, or the biggest and most evil dragon ever, they ally. Temporarily. Unfortunately, after the Cavalry Betrayal at the Wrathgate, the level of danger required to set aside their differences has risen significantly, due in part to the enmity of Garrosh and Varian. Ultimately, where the Lich King, Deathwing, and Thunder King were all not enough to truly unite the two factions, Garrosh himself manages to cross the threshold.
    • In Warlords of Draenor, your first mission is to depower the Dark Portal. In order to do that, you are forced to free three dangerous warlocks, including Gul'dan, the orc responsible for the corruption of the orcs and the events of Warcraft in the original timeline. After that, he becomes one of the biggest threats.
  • The Enclave in the Fallout series sees the proliferation of mutants in the wasteland as their threshold. Unfortunately for everyone, to the Enclave, "mutant" doesn't just mean the super mutants and deformed ghouls, it includes any human who has been exposed to radiation for an extended period of time — in other words, everyone not a member of the Enclave or living in a Vault. Their solution is to use a modified strand of the FEV virus and release it into the air currents and later water supply to kill them all.
  • Capcom loves this trope, from the total destructions of Raccoon City in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Fortune City to the massacres at Santa Cabeza and Willamette in Dead Rising.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Templars, when faced with a dire situation when confronting a rebellious or imperiled Mage Circle, have the option of calling for a "Rite of Annulment," which basically means completely and utterly purging the offending Mage Circle in question. The Rite is only called in only the most dire of circumstances, usually when it is determined that a circle has been too compromised to save, and that purging it is the only way to prevent further casualties.
    • The Blight has played this role for over a millenium, to the point where the Chantry is willing to look the other way when the Grey Wardens recruits criminals and apostates or dabble in blood magic. The games show several cases where the Wardens' habit of breaking the Chantry's laws with impunity backfire, however, like the mess left by Sophia Dryden's rebellion, or what happened with Corypheus's prison or, the most obvious case the Warden Commander of Ferelden taking Anders under his/her wing.
    • Some mages fighting for their freedom or life decide to use Blood Magic or make a deal with a demon. These situations usually end up badly - with the unfortunate mage getting possessed or driven insane with power. There are also shades of Then Let Me Be Evil, since many mages believe that if templars are going accuse them of Blood Magic anyway, they can as well go along with it and use the best weapon they have on their disposal.
    • Some Exalted Marches, note  have begun like this. While not strictly a Godzilla Threshold move, the Chantry has at times declared Marches in order to defend against a perceived direct threat to their faith, such as the first war with the Qunari, where the Qunari's technological superiority over the nations of Thedas meant that the land truly was at risk of being overrun. When the Exalted March was declared, every faithful and able Thedosian, even mages, who were often oppressed by the Southern Chantry, was mustered against the Qunari, and only through the use of that magic were they able to turn the tide
  • Dragon Age II:
    • During the Qunari invasion of the Kirkwall the situation gets so dire that when Knight-Commander Meredith discovers that Mage!Hawke has been operating as an illegal apostate under the Templars' very noses for the last four years... she does the smart thing and immediately declares a truce until the crisis is dealt with. At this point, she needs all the help she can get in retaking the city, even if it comes from an Apostate Mage.
    • At the end of Act III, the threshold is crossed deliberately to instigate a Lensman Arms Race between factions. A lone terrorist blows up a church, massacring hundreds. This also killed the only person holding Meredith back from the genocide she had wanted to commit all along. With the threat of The Unfettered Meredith, Orsino had no choice but to match her with all the forbidden magic he could get his hands on.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition sees the Big Bad deliberately exploit this when he makes the Grey Wardens think that they are all hearing the Calling. Their belief that they are all going to die soon leads to them using Blood Magic and performing Human Sacrifice to summon a demon army to help them wipe out the last two Old Gods before they are all gone. That demon army would eventually become his army.
    • There's a second, more subtle example in the game. The Qunari, who are the Scary Dogmatic Aliens of the setting, are so concerned by the Breach and resulting Rifts that they approach you looking to form an alliance to combat the menace. According to Iron Bull, this is the first time in recorded history that the Qunari have ever voluntarily considered an alliance with anyone not of the Qun for any reason.
    • The backdrop of the game, the Mage/Templar War, is the result of the abuse of the Godzilla Threshold. The threshold pertaining to the Rite of Annulment and Rite of Tranquility slowly lowered over the centuries to the point where it was being abused quite blatantly in many cases.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite: Ultron-Sigma is such a threat to reality itself that the heroes are left with little choice but to enlist the aid of one of the most dangerous warlords in all of the known cosmos: Thanos!
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Many failed, incomplete, or patently unworkable Doomsday Devices get activated as a last ditch effort to hold off invaders when all other methods have failed; a common version is digging straight down through adamantine veins as a final "screw you" to the would-be conquerors.
    • Upon discovering what lay beyond the adamantine the hard way, Bay 12 forumgoer SpiralDimentia decided to release his captive (hostile) bronze colossus in hopes of it fighting the... you know. This didn't work, but was applauded as sufficiently dwarven, especially since he tried to resettle the place twice after losing everything, despite the bronze colossus and the... you know... still being in residence there.
    • Failed miserably in one fortress that was being attacked by husks, and decided to Breach the Circus; it turns out that DEMONS are insufficiently Godzillaesque to defeat husks.
    • In Boatmurdered, one of the leaders created a lever that would flood the entire entryway and fields near the fortress with lava. For some reason. It is used once as a last-ditch way to get rid of a combined elephant-goblin invasion, in project "Fuck the world". However, with a bit of refinement it eventually becomes the standard method of dealing with any threat. The elves were not pleased. Nor was the human trading caravan that got caught up in it.
  • Modern Warfare:
    • Captain Price's plan to fire a Russian nuclear missile at the US Eastern Seaboard in order to use the EMP to stop the Russian invasion:
    You want to put out an oil fire, Sir, you set off a bigger explosion right next to it. Sucks away the oxygen. Snuffs the flame. (...) We've got ourselves a pretty big fire. Gonna to need a huge bang...
    • When the team has to take Makarov's bomber, Volk, out of Paris alive so he can be interrogated, they get held up on the bridge over the Seine when they meet a Russian barricade that won't let them through. They can't take care of it on their own, but they're also hesitant in calling in the AC-130 again because that much firepower would bring down the Eiffel Tower in the process. Ultimately, they're given direct authorization from the President to do what they need to to get that bomber in alive. Cue massive air strike at the end of the bridge and the Tower coming down into the river as the smoke is clearing.
  • BlazBlue:
    • Litchi crossed this in two phases on a personal case. The first phase, on realizing that Lotte Carmine was inflicted with an extreme corruption of the Boundary which practically has no normal permanent cure and begging for Kokonoe to help does no use, she sees it fit to corrupt herself with the Boundary to find symptoms and develop the cure from experience. The second phase is when she found no cure overall and her own corruption was getting to her, she sees it fit to join the NOL for the small hope of cure, despite the organization storing someone who's pegged as extremely shady and suspicious (Hazama), or blatant monster of a father (Relius).
    • In BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, Kushinada's Lynchpin is a device that disrupts seithr on a global scale, and Houyoku: Rettenjou is the Nox Nyctores designed to activate it. Lord Tenjou refused to activate the Lynchpin during the Ikaruga Civil War, however, because the world had become dependent on seithr-fueled ars magus to function. By the end of the story, Relius had rigged every cauldron in the world to vomit ridiculous concentrations of seithr, which resulted in casualties the world over with every lost soul being dragged into the Ibukido monolith as a means to summon Master Unit: Amaterasu, which made activating the Lynchpin mandatory, and in some ways preferable to allowing this Doomsday to continue.
  • In Mortal Kombat 9, after most of the heroes to die, Raiden sees it fit that the only option left is to offer his allies' souls to the lord of the Netherworld so he'll fight Shao Kahn. The bad news, Shao Kahn had already made a similar deal with Quan Chi, leaving Raiden to fight Kahn alone.
  • The threats from Revan, the returning Sith Emperor and then the Eternal Empire of Zakul forces the Republic and Sith Empire to work together in the expansions to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The galaxy was being threatened on all fronts by the Rachni leaving the Galactic Council so desperate that the Salarians decided to find their own tough, relatively primitive, hyper-aggressive race, the Krogan, and give them spaceships and high tech weapons. It worked, but then the Krogan became aggressive expansionists, leading the Salarians to unleash a biological weapon on them to drive them to near sterility. In Mass Effect 3, you're faced with undoing the sterility plague so that the Krogan can be the galaxy's shock troops once again.
    • The Krogans' rapid breeding was itself a Threshold for the designers of the genophage - their fertility was so powerful that they couldn't touch it with the genophage, and instead had to reduce infant viability. The Krogan still conceived just as many children as before - but the vast majority were stillborn.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • The Illusive Man tells you that a Reaper was killed (with the round eventually hitting another planet) by a mass accelerator round, and that the race who fired the shot didn't fare much better.
    • In the DLC Arrival, this is invoked, as the Reapers are set to arrive at the Alpha Relay in mere hours. There is only one viable solution to stop it from happening: destroying the Relay, and thus setting off a supernova-level explosion that wipes out a nearby colony world with over 300,000 batarians. It isn't pretty, but it has to be done.
  • Mass Effect 3 races past the Godzilla Threshold before the player even presses start.
    • Due to Shepard's actions in "The Arrival", they have been branded a war criminal and terrorist throughout Citadel space. Then the Reapers arrive. The charges are immediately dropped because not only does everyone realise that Shepard was right, but they are the only person who's ever been capable of actually killing them!
    • The continuity's equivalent of Godzilla, the literal mother of all Thresher Maws, is summoned and it proceeds to kill a Reaper.
    • By the end of the game, your coalition can include several of the biggest threats in galactic history.
    • Admiral Hackett points out that there is no way in hell that a super weapon as powerful as the Crucible would ever be seriously considered under normal circumstances, but the Reapers have forced humanity's hand. Indeed, no one even knows what the Crucible even does, all they know is that it can generate an immense amount of energy. The fact remains that the Crucible is the only thing in the galaxy with enough raw power output to defeat the Reapers, though, so...
    • The Codex entry "Desperate Measures" discusses different ways that are being considered to stop the Reapers that would never be considered in normal warfare, such as destroying mass relays to strand them in distant systems (they'd just go the long way) or ramming them with starships traveling at FTL speeds (integral safety protocols make it impractical at best).
    • One planet decided to blow itself up so they didn't suffer a Fate Worse Than Death and become indoctrinated.
    • In the Leviathan DLC, Shepard brokers an truce with the last surviving members of the Eldritch Abomination race that inadvertantly created the Reapers, gaining their help to defeat their errant progeny.
    • Three of the four possible endings of the game involve this in one way or another. Because of the situation, the Catalyst offers the only real way out, so either Shepard has to go with one of three options - none of which are a clear-cut victory and all involve some sacrifices - or doom the galaxy. If Shepard takes too long, the Crucible is destroyed. If Shepard refuses any of the above options, the galaxy falls and it's up to the next cycle to do the job using what Shepard's people left behind.
    • Ironically, Shepard appearing on the battlefield becomes this for the Reapers, as they will turn their dreadnought-killing guns away from entire fleets in an attempt to finally kill him/her.
  • In WarCraft 3: The Warsong clan and their leader Grom Hellscream went to Ashenvale to acquire lumber for the new settlement of the orcs. As it turns out, this was the home of Cenarius and the night elves, who believed that the orcs were servants of the Burning Legion. While the orcs had been servants to the Legion in the past, they had thrown off the Legion's enslavement by this point. However, the elves and Cenarius were quickly pushing them to their limits, leading to the orcs having to drink the blood of Mannoroth, rebonding them to the Legion, in order to survive and win.
  • Has happened at least once in Touhou. At some point in recent history, humankind's disbelief of anything supernatural had grown enough to threaten the very existence of supernatural beings. Seeing this situation, the youkai sages decided to erect the Hakurei barrier to rip Gensokyo from real world, so that the land become the final haven of everything supernatural. They knew that they were going to offend the Dragon of Gensokyo, and the Dragon did appear in all its catastrophic glory, covering the sky from one horizon to the opposite, while downpouring from the Dragon's body threatened to drown the land. Amazingly, the Dragon was willing to listen to the sages, and it agreed to their plan. Then it disappeared, and (thankfully) never seen again since then.
    • It happened again in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom - the Lunarians, a race of moon-based immortals, are functionally immortal, having fled from Earth's impurity and thus made themselves incapable of dying. Then large amounts of fairies start spreading across their lifeless world, bringing lifeforce, and with it, death. Worse yet, their fantastic tech is worse than useless, since it's entirely based off the concept of purification, and the invading fairies are purified lifeforce, rendering them 100% immune to anything the Lunarians could throw at them. It reaches the point where their leadership begins desperate preparations to purify and invade Gensokyo, which at the time the Lunarians consider enemy territory.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The Aedra, the et'Ada ("original spirits") who sacrificed much of their divine power during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane, typically reserve direct Divine Intervention for only the most dire of situations, such as averting The End of the World as We Know It. They prefer a much lighter touch in mortal affairs otherwise, at most typically working through a mortal agent. Because of this, many in Tamriel openly question their existence while considering them inept and/or lazy.
      • A prominent example of what happens when the Divines get more aggressive is Pelinal Whitestrake, an Aedric being sent as an answered prayer by the Divines to Alessia, the "Slave Queen" attempting to liberate her Nedic (ancestors of Men) people from the cruel tyranny of the (primarly) Daedra-worshiping Ayleids. Pelinal was The Berserker with an extreme hatred of all elves and a habit of slaughtering entire kingdoms. The Divines were so horrified by his actions that they nearly left the mortal world altogether, only remaining after Alessia appeased them with prayer and sacrifices. Pelinal would be the last (known) direct divine agent to act in Mundus, and since, have only acted through mortal agents with divine blessings, like the Dragonborn, instead of direct intervention.
      • There are very rare moments where the Divines fully intervene in events within Mundus, usually in response to an attack by one of the Daedric Princes. The most notable example is against Mehrunes Dagon during the Oblivion Crisis, where Akatosh manifested an avatar when Martin Septim sacrified himself, and defeated Mehunres Dagon's avatar. The result of that battle was that there were no longer any Dragonborn Emperors, and without Dragonborn to lead it, the Septim Empire began its slow decline and disintegration. Another example is the Vestige during the events of The Elder Scrolls Online, who gained the direct blessings of Akatosh to allow them to fight Molag Bal in the heart of his realm of Coldharbour. In that case, Akatosh did not even consider granting his blessings and power until the Vestige had left Nirn entirely and was inside Coldharbour, due to the damage that their battle would cause to Nirn.
    • In the series' backstory, the event that led to the disappearance of the Dwemer may have been this for the Dwemer. The Dwemer uncovered the Heart of Lorkhan, the still-beating "divine center" of the "dead" god who helped create the mortal plane, deep beneath the Red Mountain volcano. Kagrenac, the Dwemeri "Chief Tonal Architect," created the tools needed to tap into the power of the Heart and planned to do so with the goal of allowing the Dwemer to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. Their enemies-turned-allies, the highly religious Chimer, found out and believed this to be a blasphemy, so they attacked. According to one telling of the Dwemer's final days, Kagrenac only used the tools on the Heart as a last-ditch effort when the Chimer successfully infiltrated the Dwemer's Red Mountain stronghold. In his haste, he got something wrong, which caused the Dwemer to disappear from all known planes of existence in a single instant.
    • The Bosmer (Wood Elves) have a ritual known as "The Wild Hunt", in which a number of Bosmer transform themselves into nightmarish beasts, and then rampage through Valenwood destroying their enemies. Because there is no known way to reverse the transformation, the ritual is considered a taboo subject by Bosmer and is sanctioned for use only in dire circumstances. (Only twice in history has it actually been sanctioned, and both times, it achieved its intended goal.)
    • A possible result in Skyrim. Your character may be the leader of the Thieves' Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, have completed each Daedric quest (even the ones that involve murder, betrayal, torture, and cannibalism), and murdered hundreds of innocent people. But the Graybeards will still teach your character the way of the Voice, despite being someone that will doubtlessly abuse this power, because you're still the world's only hope at defeating the dragons.
  • In Saints Row: The Third in one possible ending, after a beloved monument is destroyed, Senator Monica Hughes allows STAG to deploy the much hinted-at Daedalus, an Airborne Aircraft Carrier that begins indiscriminately attacking Steelport in a desperate attempt to wipe out the Saints.
  • Pops up in the final GDI mission of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Faced with a grueling assault on an enemy stronghold in hopes of ending an Alien Invasion, Director Boyle will urge you to use the Liquid Tiberium bomb to wipe out the foe with a single press of a button - even though doing so will set off a chain reaction in the world's largest Red Zone, killing millions if not billions of civilians, causing irreparable environmental damage, and annihilating your own army. However, as hard as the fight is, your forces are still capable of winning without using the bomb and thereby destroying southern Europe.
  • Gears of War: In the backstory, the Locust invasion was so devastating that the Hammer of Dawn Kill Sat was used to destroy all the major cities to slow the advance. In Gears Of War 3, you deal with the aftermath of this when you visit Char, a city that was leveled by the attack.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The Darkwraiths sealed under the flooded city of New Londo caused a Godzilla Threshold. The Darkwraiths you see are corrupted, evil monsters who devoured humanity (the precious, ethereal substance, not actual people). There were such a threat to anything that possessed a soul that the Sealers, a group of pacifists, flooded an entire city, drowning its entire populace just to seal them away.
    • The fading of the First Flame is the threshold for the gods. The Fire is so sacred, that they are willing to do anything to keep it burning just a little while longer. The Witch of Izalith attempted to use her Lord Soul as a replacement. When that went horribly wrong, Gwyn divided his Lord Soul up and plunged into the First Flame himself to reignite it. He's been burning alive in it ever since. And now that it's fading again, what remains of the pantheon is ready to sacrifice one hapless Undead and the remaining scraps of the Lord Souls to keep the Flame lit.
  • Dark Souls III: The First Flame is coming closer than ever before to dying, which has made the Fire Keepers and other followers of the old gods very desperate to keep it going, to the point that they are now resurrecting past Lords only to sacrifice them again to keep it going, some of whom were very evil indeed. And then there's the Untended Graves and what it suggests. One theory is that, in Ludleth's time, the First Flame actually did die, and Ludleth somehow broke causality and time travelled to feed the Flame himself, which may be one explanation for how extraordinarily convoluted the timeline in the third game is.
  • Blast Corps has a truck with a pair of defective nuclear missiles. The truck's computer goes on the fritz and winds up locking the controls while going on auto-pilot mode and goes directly straight to its destination, regardless on what is its way. The slightest jolt will cause the missiles to explode and destroy everything in a several mile wide radius. The solution? Destroy entire towns and cities by using machines and vehicles designed for destruction so that the truck has a clear path. The game even keeps track on how much damage you caused, which can easily skyrocket to the millions and billions of dollars. You will level entire towns, but it's a small price to pay to avoid a nuclear winter.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the backstory of the Jedi Exile is that she confronted this at Malachor V. The situation became so dire she was forced to unleash a superweapon, which ended up not only killing every single thing on the planet, but the entire fleet in orbit! The sheer scale of the destruction caused the Exile to become severed from the Force and lead her to willingly accept exile on the Outer Rim for over ten years.
  • In the Super Robot Wars Original Generation, there are two Godzilla Thresholds. The first is the usage of Only One Crash and the creation of the Super Robot SRX and the powerful Hyper Tromium Buster Cannon. The second? Unsealing the RTX-008L Huckebein L, one of two robots powered by a black hole and basically weaponizes it.
  • In one conversation in Assassin's Creed III, Rebecca suggests presenting all of the information the team has gathered to Abstergo so they can help avert the solar flare. Desmond replies that he actually considered that option, and only refrained from doing so because he believes Abstergo already knows about the threat and is trying to take advantage of it. The very idea of Assassins seriously considering working with Templars, in particular Desmond (who has been their prisoner and test subject), shows just how dire the situation is. Later, Minerva will actually encourage Desmond to allow the solar flare to wipe out most of humanity rather than set Juno loose. Juno is apparently that dangerous.
  • In Shin Super Robot Wars, Ryouma Nagare, for his part, is rather reluctant to invoke the potentially catastrophic might of the Shin Getter, but will admit the aliens pose an even greater threat.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, one possible ending revolves around the main character deciding the threshold has been crossed, though the rest of the party disagrees. After Nepgear goes through with the "godzilla" move (by traumatically murdering all her friends, including a pair of children, and then her own sister), she confronts the Big Bad, only to find out she's just committed the same catastrophe she was trying to head off. Yes, she can kill the Big Bad, but it's so inconsequential now there's no point. Roll credits.
  • Dialogue and flashbacks hint that training Spyro and sending him to fight in The Legend of Spyro trilogy could be seen as crossing the threshold; his full power is capable of destroying and remaking the world and at least one other purple dragon before him went mad with power and became the Big Bad. Unfortunately, the Dark Master's follower, Cynder in particular, are too much for the aging Dragon Guardians and their allies.
  • In Star Trek Online, the war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire was already coming to an end after Va'Kel Shon, captain of the Enterprise-F, saved Qo'noS from the Undine. However, the arrival of an Iconian and its casual murder of the entire Klingon High Council save for Chancellor Jm'pok leads to the outright end of the war and the unity between the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Republic.
  • NetHack, along with other roguelikes, is a game that rewards carefully weighing your options and building a toolkit to deal with any situation. So when it all goes wrong and the player's back is to the wall, it's all the more jarring to break out all those blatantly stupid actions, like drinking unidentified potions or zapping an empty wand for that 1/128 chance for it to work.
  • Arc The Lad 2 has a villain be the one who gets pushed too far. With his evil empire defeated and the heroes closing in on him, he decides to break the last remaining seal and let The Dark One out of his prison. Needless to say, this does not work out well for anyone.
  • The climax of Eternal Darkness: In order to stop the Eldritch Abomination that Pious summons, Alex Roivas uses the City of En'gha's nine-rune Circle of Power (player characters are limited to seven-rune Circles at most) to summon another Eldritch Abomination capable of defeating it. Once the former is defeated, she realizes that it's just as likely to destroy humanity. Luckily, her grandfather's ghost is on hand to seal the latter one away.
  • Near the end of Shadowrun Returns, the threat at hand is so existentially dangerous that the player character and allies decide it's worth it to conduct a raid on a major Mega Corp., with all the retributive death squads and other consequences that will entail, if it means they can get the resources needed to defeat the current threat. The fact that you crossed the threshold in the first place draws the attention of said Mega Corp.'s CEO, who decides to actually ask you why you went to such an extreme risk rather than kill you out of hand, which leads to him supporting you in saving the entire city from the impending spirit insect invasion.
    • In Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, threatening to do this is key to getting the best ending. How do you stop an Eldritch Abomination trying to tunnel into reality and start a reign of sacrifice and chaos? Threaten to open the tunnel for it. The reason being that the other Yama Kings that get through the new door can't make the situation any worse, but they will definitely kill the first one for trying to keep the tunnel a secret from them.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Regular!Batman gets Regime!Batman to cross his own personal Threshold by using the dimensional transporter to bring Regular!Superman to fight Regime!Superman and his army. Fortunately for Regime!Batman, this turns out to be a very wise move, considering Regular!Superman single-handedly saves the day.
  • Injustice 2: Braniac comes to destroy Earth, and Batman's heroes struggle to do anything to stop him. With most of the biggest hitters in the their universe dead, this makes the idea of releasing the thoroughly evil and utterly unrepentant Regime!Superman very tempting. About mid-way through the game, Batman finally gives in and does it.
  • Crysis
    • In Crysis, this happens all the time throughout the series. In the first game, the US Navy decides to nuke an energy dome that the Ceph have erected over the Lingshan Islands even after being warned it will just make them more powerful. Considering the Ceph just overran an entire Marine division while barely taking a lick of damage it's fairly justified.
    • In Crysis 2, the Pentagon does it again by bombing out the flood barriers of New York City and trying to drown the Ceph. It's pointed out that this is a really bad idea considering the Ceph are aquatic creatures, but nobody else has any better ideas. Later on in the game the Ceph are on the verge of deploying a virulent spore weapon into the atmosphere which will likely kill the entire human race so the Department of Defense authorizes a tactical nuclear strike on the weapon site in Central Park. Even though it probably won't work and will kill thousands of civilians left in the city, it's their last best hope.
  • In the backstory of Mega Man Battle Network 6, the Cybeast Falzar was created in order to defeat Cybeast Gregar, except Falzar itself went out of control, becoming as much of a threat as Gregar was.
  • Talks by the developers after City of Heroes was shut down revealed that the invasion by Battalion was supposed to be this: the plan for fighting them involved summoning Rularuu the Ravager.
  • Civilization: Using nukes will irradiate the terrain in the blast radius, drastically reducing the resource yield while making your units on those tiles move slower and fight noticeably poorer. Furthermore they don't distinguish between enemy and friendly but will severely hurt both alike. If you have a large enemy army on the way that you know your own conventional forces can't hold off, though, it may be worth taking the hit. In fact, even having one will make other countries wary of crossing you unless they have no other recourse.
    • Planet busters in Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri are even more dangerous, as they completely obliterate anything in the blast radius and leave huge craters behind. The power of a planet buster depends on the type of reactor used in its constructions. Singularity planet busters (i.e. using the energy of a black hole) leave a giant crater behind and can become a new sea. Unlike Civ's nukes, they don't leave fallout, though. Still, it's entirely possible to completely wipe out several cities that are located close together with a single planet buster. However, using them is considered such an atrocity that all other factions automatically declare vendetta (war) on you. Ah, and you also will piss off Planet itself, so be ready to face groups of angry Mindworms.
  • In Dragon Quest VI, the threat of the Dread Fiends was enough to convince the King of Graceskull to try to summon a legendary demon to fight them off. Naturally, it ends poorly for Graceskull. It is possible for the party to convince said demon to do their job for them.
  • Surprisingly subverted in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. An Ork invasion on a Titan-producing Forge World seems like the kind of situation which would warrant an Exterminatus (total planetary annihilation), but that option is discarded in the opening cinematic. It's stated that the Titan Manufactorum is priceless, and the loss of a completed Titan awaiting deployment would hamper Imperial military operations for centuries and is completely unacceptable.
  • Undertale:
    • In the "Alphys ending" achieved by doing most of a No Mercy run and aborting it at the last minute, Alphys reveals that she corraled up all the surviving monsters someplace safe, and crossed a personal threshold by allowing them to find out her darkest secret (experimenting on innocents), which she decided that was preferable to you killing all of them.
    • Due to the death of Asriel, King Asgore decided that humanity had gone too far and the only solution was for him to absorb seven human souls and destroy humanity, as much as the idea repulsed Asgore personally. As pointed out by Toriel in the Pacifist ending, Asgore's unwillingness to follow through with the plan ended up drawing it out so much that it never reached completion, in any route.
  • DOOM: It's eventually revealed that retrieving Doomguy in the first place was the threshhold-crossing plan UAC had if Hell's incursions got too bad. While that would most definitely deal with the demons, it'd also wreck their whole Argent Energy operation, which is why they were tampering with Hell in the first place, and the demons would put up a lot of resistance if they tried it, leading to horrible casualties. Naturally, things get bad enough, and Doomguy does indeed wreck their Argent Energy operation, enraged at the fact people are still trying to fuck around with Hell forces even in this day. Still, it got the demons dealt with.
  • In Guilty Gear Xrd, the in-canon reason for Elphelt being a playable character is that Ramlethal's plot is the threshold, and El herself being Godzilla (reason being that both are Valentines, and the last Valentine shown in the series was the Big Bad).
  • At the end of South Park: The Stick of Truth, despite the Gentlemen's Oath, Dovahkiin solves everything by farting on someone's balls (specifically, Kenny's).
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, when attacking the SPPD, Sergeant Yates eventually decides to release the one prisoner he deems capable of dealing with a pack of ten year olds: former Subways spokesperson and convicted pedophile Jared Fogle.
    Cartman: Oh fuck, it's Jared.
    Yates:(escaping down an elevator) You'll forgive me if I don't want to see what's about to happen.
  • When the titular Trillion: God of Destruction manages to effortlessly kill him in the prologue, Zeabolos promptly considers this threshold crossed. He sells his own soul, lets his minions sacrifice themselves to manufacture troops, and puts his family members and childhood friends through hellish training regimens; anything to kill Trillion and make sure there's still a Netherworld for the survivors to live in.
  • The threshold is crossed instantly in Starsiege when the Cybrids appear, despite the fact that numerous human colonies were actively rebelling against Earth's government at the time. Everyone knows the Cybrids are the greatest existential threat ever faced in history: tireless, merciless, and unequivocally committed to the complete extermination of humanity.
  • Super Robot Wars V: After realizing that the Invaders are a threat not only to the Yamato but to all sapient life in the universe, Captain Okita authorizes the use of the Wave Motion Gun against them in combat.
  • Spec Ops: The Line is all about crossing that threshold over and over again. First, they had to send in the CIA to put the rogue 33rd Division under control. Then you and your team bomb it with white phosphorus, because it's (supposedly) the only way to stop an entire army division gone nuts (shortly before that, you and your team narrowly avoid a white phosphorus bombing just so you know what you're going to unleash upon the Damned 33rd). And then you find out that the CIA has already crossed that threshold all along: the situation in Dubai had gotten so amazingly bad, they decided to just give the city the coup-de-grâce, by sabotaging what little remained of the city's water supply in order to make everyone leave the place or dehydrate to death.
  • Certain cards in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft have powerful effect combined with absolutely horrible drawbacks. In times of desperation though, the drawbacks can be made moot, and playing these cards can give you a fighting chance or win the game outright. The most iconic is Deathwing, a 10-mana Minion with absolutely terrifying stats of 12/12, but forces you to discard your entire hand and kills every other minion on the board. But if you only have a few cards in hand left and the enemy has strong board presence, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain by summoning him.
  • The backstory of RayForce consists of the artificial intelligence Con-Human corrupting the Earth's ecosystem to wage war on Earth life so badly that humanity is reduced to destroying the planet to stop it. The player character succeeds in the ending, though not without getting caught up in the ensuing explosion and dying.

    Web Comics 
  • Tower of God: None of the others taking the tests on the 20th floor with Jyu Viole Grace wanted to deal with him. To them, he was a villain, the most dangerous enemy. But when Lurker brutally murders Wangnan's friend Nia, Wangnan goes and practically begs Viole on his hands and knees to stop Lurker.
  • In Bob and George during the fifth Mega Man game the Bass and Mega Man alternates deem Bob to be such a great threat to The Multiverse that they decide to sacrifice the Earth (of one dimension) in order to stop him. And it doesn't work.
  • Homestuck:
    • By Act 5, all the kids' plans to deal with how screwed up their Sburb session are potentially suicidal. By the end of the Act, the plan they go with is all of them.
    • Much later, some characters feel that sending dozens, perhaps hundreds of other ghosts to certain doom is an acceptable price to pay for access to a means to kill the universe destroying Lord English.
  • Floyd had this exchange when our heroes were scheduled to stew for giants:
    Carmen: Now... Floyd, it's time for you to learn a spell that may get you out of this mess.
    Floyd: Um, Carmen? You said that me casting spells was a bad idea!
    Carmen: It is, but you two being eaten is marginally worse.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the Gates are all that hold back the Snarl supposedly. If all of them are destroyed, the Snarl would be unleashed. It's still better than letting someone evil gain control of one, since it would theoretically give them the power to threaten and blackmail the gods themselves.
    • The repeated destruction of the Gates to prevent Evil from controlling them ends up giving rise to a new threshold. The gods are having a serious discussion on whether or not destroying and remaking the entire universe with one Gate still intact would be a better alternative than waiting for the final gate to be destroyed and risk not being able to reset the world before the Snarl permanently kills a significant portion of the world's inhabitants or even the gods themselves. By destroying the universe themselves, they can at least preserve the souls of its inhabitants and place them in the new world.
  • Played for dark humor in Super Stupor: the superhero Mind's Eye has a little-known power that will force anyone to tell the truth, despite moral alignment or brainwashing...as long as his penis is currently inside of them. And he notes that, yes, using this against a supervillain would pretty much necessitate rape (though you'd be unpleasantly surprised by who will consent), which is why he'll never use it except in the most extreme emergencies. (Naturally, he is eventually forced to in one of the physical comics. And with a zombie, too.)
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: In "The End: Part 1", when King Radical is minutes away from accomplishing his goal of wiping out most of the Earth's population in order to save the Radical Lands from destruction, Dr. McNinja crosses two thresholds in quick succession. First, he summons Sparklelord, a powerful unicorn who's so twisted and evil that McNinja previously decided to trap him in a time vortex rather than teaming up with him against Radical. Then, in order to secure Sparklelord's help, he tells him his first name (which he's kept secret for decades), releasing an evil ghost wizard who proceeds to lay a curse on him. This does work, but at the cost of making Dr. McNinja Public Enemy #1 and convincing some of his greatest enemies to unite against him.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, the alien Nemesites' Godzilla Threshhold is any threat big enough to warrant creating a "Butterfly of Iron," a sort of artificial Energy Being that they can just barely control, with the power to destroy entire star systems. Galatea goes ahead and creates one as soon as she hears about it, thinking it will jumpstart The Singularity. It doesn't.

    Web Original 
  • What the SCP Foundation are prepared to do to contain some items. Then again, an awful lot of the things they deal with really are that dangerous. Most foundation sites must have a several megaton strong nuke armed at all times for exactly this kind of situation. Meanwhile, their opposite-number the Global Occult Coalition has Emergency Procedure "Pizzicato" for massive emergence of Threat Entities (and also covers the Foundation itself massively losing control of its own contained objects, and the literal end of the world). Force authorisation states that "All restrictions re: NBC weaponry, Memetic Cascade Sequences, and Nanotech Grey Goo items withdrawn" and "Acceptable Collateral Damage: 90% of worldwide human population".
    • "SCP" semi-officially, by way of motto, stands for "Secure, Contain, Protect". The former two words refer to securing and containing anomalous entities, and "protect" refers to protecting the general populace. Since securing and containing SCP-682, a powerful and hard-to-destroy reptile hellbent on destroying everything and everyone it sees, has proven to be a total crapshoot, the Foundation wants to destroy it instead of keeping it in containtment, as its existence is a mortal threat to anyone it sees.
    • One of their plans involves the release of all prisoners regardless of why they were imprisoned in the first place (so the worst of the worst: serial killers, sociopaths, etc.), the idea being that it's better to have what remains of mankind be Always Chaotic Evil than having no mankind at all.
  • This is how Kickassia regards convincing Spoony to become Dr. Insano.
  • The Director of Red vs. Blue creates Godzillas just so he can be ready for this:
    Director: When faced with extinction, every alternative is preferable!
  • Every plan to deal with Tennyo in the Whateley Universe. One we saw in a holographic simulation destroyed the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and plunged the planet into nuclear winter, which was still considered a reasonable alternative to an uncontrolled Star Stalker possibly destroying the planet. Tennyo's best friends have Plans A-Z, and Tennyo approves.
  • The Yogscast encountered one (by the standards of a group of Let's Players that play games like Minecraft most of the time) when Duncan Jones forgot to prepare for a trip back from the moon to the Overworld. Lewis Brindley rushes to Duncan's office in real life to help him, since they didn't want to have someone trapped on the moon all over again.

    Western Animation 
  • Young Justice:
    • With most of the team imprisoned by the powerful Black Beetle, Roy Harper releases the Galactic Conqueror Mongul from his cell first, allowing Roy to free the rest of the team while Mongul and Black Beetle fight.
    • Anyone who puts on the helmet of Dr. Fate gains incredible magic power, but runs the risk of having their body stolen permanently by the Lord of Order, Nabu, who is tired of being stuck helplessly in the helmet while the forces of chaos have their way with the world. Wearing the helmet is considered an absolute last resort, but even so it's worn by three different members of the team, each time because it was clearly the only viable option.
  • The DuckTales episode "The Uncrashable Hindentanic" revolves around Uncle Scrooge and his new airship. His sidekick and perennial crasher of aircraft Launchpad desperately wants to fly it but is told that Scrooge actually wants to keep the airship in one piece. When the events of the episode conspire against this Scrooge eventually relents and tells Launchpad to take the wheel. They crash, but Launchpad accidentally takes out the opposition while saving the passengers.
    "If we are going to crash anyway, we may as well crash with style."
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "The Ultimate Enemy" Clockwork actually alters time—consider that he is in charge of maintaining the proper flow of time—to stop Dark Danny from coming into existence.
  • Ben 10:
    • In the last few minutes of the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Forge of Creation", Aggregor defeats the heroes and is moments away from acquiring Reality Warper abilities that will grant him eternal power over the universe. Kevin then absorbs energy from the Ultimatrix to go One-Winged Angel to stop him, knowing that this will make him evil again. Thankfully, Ben's younger self is able to guilt-trip Kevin out of trying to steal the Reality Warper powers for himself.
    • In the Ben 10: Omniverse episode "Mystery, Incorporeal", the odd battles around campus repeatedly cause Ben's Omnitrix to glitch and only offer Ghostfreak - the form whose DNA sample comes from an evil mastermind named Zs'Skayr who can regenerate From a Single Cell, including the Omnitrix's sample of him. If Ben uses Ghostfreak, it may control him and not the other way around. When Darkstar's plans to gain ultimate power begin to come to fruition, Ben gives in and actually uses him. He has no problems since Zs'Skayr has already regenerated elsewhere.
  • Megas XLR:
    • Earth is being invaded by the almost unkillable metal-devouring robot R.E.G.I.S. Mk 5, which had been scheduled to be thrown into a black hole until Coop accidentally rammed the ship transporting it. Coop discovered that the R.E.G.I.S. Mk 5 was solar powered and would forever stay active so long as there was light to power it. Coop's solution was to block out all sunlight so it couldn't operate. He does this by creating a nuclear winter scenario by belching enough smog out of his engine to block out the whole damn sky.
    • In the second S-Force episode, Targon believes that enlisting Coop's help qualifies as the trope.
  • In Hot Wheels Battle Force 5, Sage was forced to freeze the entire Red Sentient race to stop her Evil Twin brother Krytus from leading them on a multiversal conquest. When Krytus and her have their final confrontation, she tells him she did it because he was a threat to not only her entire race but the multiverse and she had to. Krytus' response? "You were right!" It says a lot when the guy she used it on is well aware that she was justifed for doing so and doesn't care.
  • In the Grand Finale of Jackie Chan Adventures, Drago has devastated San Francisco and is preparing to release the demon world unto Earth. To stop him, the heroes have to free his father Shendu from his imprisonment to fight him. Fortunately for them, Shendu is more angry at his son for trying to take over "his" world than at the heroes for his previous defeats at their hands, and he keeps Drago busy long enough for them to figure out how to banish both of them.
  • In Beast Wars Megatron tries to destroy Optimus Prime. He muses that he was hesitant to make such a drastic change to the timeline but realizes that he now had no choice but to make the ultimate gamble.
  • The "TransWarped" episode of Transformers Animated sees the Autobots' human friend upgrade herself into a more powerful form, but the upgrade goes wrong, nearly destroying her best friend and the city. Her powers are eventually bypassed, but when Megatron shows up in control of the Autobots' tide-turning, war-winning weapon, Optimus Prime is forced to consider the option of removing the bypass and unleashing the girl, in an uncontrollable state.
  • In the second season of ReBoot, a web creature evades capture and deletion to open a massive invasion portal from the web. This jolts the entire Mainframe system into survival at all costs protocols, Phong uniting with both Megabyte and Hexadecimal to build a portal closing supercannon and building a massive common army to hold the invaders at bay long enough to use it.
  • South Park, "It's a Jersey Thing": When over half of America is taken over by New Jersey, the nation eventually turns to Al Qaeda for help.
  • Johnny Test: In the episode "JX5: The Final Ending" Johnny, while in an Enemy Mine situation with five of his archenemies who have gained his powers, suggest that they form one huge Power Poot to destroy Dark Vegan's flagship after he rips out the self-destruct button. It works, destroying the entire fleet.
  • In the final episode of W.I.T.C.H., the Guardians are forced to use the Zenith forms, basically becoming their trademark elements, to battle a massively powered up Cedric. It nearly goes sour as the girls lose themselves in this form.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode "Revenge of Murray the Mantis", a giant supernatural praying mantis goes on a rampage through New York, and to stop it the boys release The Big Guy. Who is "the big guy"? Everyone's favorite 100-ft. Marshmallow man, Mr. Stay-Puft himself! Don't worry, "he's all better now", and the fight between him and the mantis is one of the series highlights.
  • In season 1 of Wakfu, Sadlygrove has to be careful not to let the Shushu Rubilax imprisoned inside his sword from possessing him. Otherwise, he becomes a hulking gray monster that attacks everyone around him. After some further training with his master in the desert and defeating Rubilax in a duel, Sadlygrove can only be possessed if he lets Rubilax possess him. In episode 25, Nox unleashes his most powerful creation, a clockwork monster called Razortime. Razortime proves to be so dangerous that Sadlygrove willingly lets Rubilax possess him when the Shushu practically begs Sadlygrove to let him help. Unfortunately, Razortime is too much even for Sadlygrove's demon form.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 1", since Lord Tirek has the power to drain ponies of their magic (and in effect take away their cutie marks), local Mad God Discord is tasked with catching him. Discord's ability to sense magical disruptions makes him the only one capable of finding Tirek before his power grows too great, in addition to being so powerful that Tirek does not yet have the strength to drain him as he does ponies.
  • On two occasions in the 90s Fantastic Four cartoon, once when Doctor Doom manages to steal the powers of the Silver Surfer and again when Earth was menaced by Ego the Living Planet, the Four are forced to lure out Galactus to set things right.
  • In the final episode of Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz informs Vanessa and Perry that his machine has a fifty percent chance of tearing the entire universe apart, but if they didn't try using it that was going to happen anyway.
  • Deploying the universe portal from Gravity Falls risks tearing the universe apart, all so that Grunkle Stan can be reunited with his long-lost brother.
  • In the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "The Edge of Yesterday", it is revealed Dr. Benton Quest developed a method of time travel in hopes of going back in time and stopping the death of his wife Rachel. Before he could go through with it, he decided changing history was too dangerous and unethical, so he scrapped the project. When Ezekiel Rage sets a nuclear bomb to go off deep in the Earth's crust, likely to wipe out humanity and the world, Benton sends Jonny, Jessie, and Hadji a message to find the method so that they can go back and stop Rage before he plants the bomb.
  • Discussed in Xiaolin Showdown. The Sapphire Dragon is the most dangerous of all Shen Gong Wu because it cannot be controlled; after use, it will transform the user's enemies into a sapphire statue... and then turn the user's friends into statues, and then the user, and will keep going until it has done the same to everyone on Earth. Dojo says that it "is only to be used as an absolute last resort."

    Real Life 
  • Quite a few medical treatments, both current and historical:
    • Both chemotherapy and radiation treatment are poisonous and can cause significant side effects - elevated risk of secondary cancers, bone marrow destruction, hearing loss, brain damage. But when the alternative is death from cancer, and especially when there's a reasonable chance of curing it with the chemotherapy...
    • Thalidomide, originally developed as a sedative and anti-nausea drug, causes horrific if not deadly birth defects in infants and has been generally banned by most countries since the 1960s. However, it has been shown to be effective at treating serious conditions like drug-resistant leprosy. When prescribed to fertile women for a serious enough condition, the patient uses multiple contraceptive devices and is carefully monitored.
    • In the modern era, syphilis may not seem like a terribly frightening disease. Yet it was the HIV of its era, potentially causing a dementia-like condition if left untreated. One of the only somewhat effective treatments was mercury injections, which certainly caused significant side effects but were preferable to tertiary syphilis.

      The first fully effective treatment for syphilis was to literally burn it out of the patient's body by inducing a very strong fever, and the best way to do that is giving them malaria. It was a widely accepted treatment for a time (apparently into the 1950s), even netting its discoverer Julius Wagner-Jauregg a Nobel Prize in 1927.

      Simultaneously (1910s), Arsphenamine/Salvarsan was developed and used against several diseases including syphilis - an organoarsenic compound the preparation of which involved adding an NaOH-solution (lye) prior to injection, causing internal chemical burns.
    • Overprescription has led to the Godzilla Threshold being lowered (sometimes a bad idea in many cases) but before overprescription, the only way one could get an antipsychotic (what used to be called the major tranquilizers) was to be frankly, overtly schizophrenic or manic and in an episode with complete loss of touch with reality, and before overprescription for stimulants, someone had to be so unfocused that no coping strategy worked and they were practically bouncing up and down the walls.
    • Antibiotics are also subject to a lowering of the Godzilla Threshold, mostly though ignorance. They're intended to fight serious infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis, but some doctors will give them out to a patient if the person complains about a viral infection (cold or flu)... which is completely impervious to antibiotics. Leading to some antibiotics losing their effectiveness, and the rise of "super bugs" which are completely immune to all known antibiotics. This is further exacerbated by the misuse of antibiotics in the agricultural sector, where it is used to boost the growth of otherwise healthy livestock, which is then consumed by humans. Arguably, the Godzilla Threshold is simply being ignored outright.
    • This does exist for drugs if they are specifically known as drugs of abuse. In extreme cases, sometimes requiring being enrolled in a trial, one could be prescribed: ecstasy for PTSD and major treatment-resistant depression,note  opiates for treatment-resistant depression, psilocybin for intense migraine or cluster headaches. The condition has to be so severe that all other medication approaches (everything from antidepressants to antipsychotics to anticonvulsants to every possible cocktail of them) and doses and all non-medication approaches (everything from cognitive behavioral therapy to electroshock) have either failed, are failing, or bear too much risk for the patient and the addiction that will result from opiates or the potentially fatal side effects of a dose of ecstasy are better outcomes than suicide or disability so severe the individual is literally bedridden or suicidal.
    • The "ibogaine cure" for alcoholism or drug addiction where nothing else has worked. Ibogaine itself is toxic (more so than psilocybin or LSD which have had similar effects) but legal in some areas. It is unique for producing scary and bad "trips" but at the same time, often triggering something in the brain that reboots the mechanism of addiction, if the process is managed correctly (and if it is managed incorrectly, death may result).
    • Treating addictions with a substitute addiction or substitute substance also falls under this. A lot of people would be the first to agree that being an addict to anything isn't good, but moving someone to one that is less damaging to their health from one that is objectively worse is sometimes the only workable option. For example, getting The Alcoholic to become The Stoner or even a junkie might seem absolutely counterintuitive and unethical - but if said alcoholic is developing liver disease, cannabis is far less hepatotoxic than alcohol, or if they are developing chronic alcoholic encephalopathy, cannabis or even opiates are far less permanently damaging to an adult brain than alcohol. A similar variant of substitution can actually be seen with the prevalence of coffee and soda and cigarettes in many recovering addict spaces.
    • The Milwaukee Protocol is an experimental treatment for rabies, once symptoms appear in an unvaccinated individual. Given that rabies is invariably fatal within only a few days of the onset of symptoms, putting the patient into a coma and shooting them up with a myriad of drugs can literally do no more harm. And even then, the survival rate stands at 4 out of 35 treatments performed to date.
    • There exists a drug called Melarsoprol, often informally nicknamed by the layman's-terms description of its recipe: "Arsenic in Antifreeze". Yes, that's mixing two poisons, each lethal in different ways, and the resulting substance is still every bit as lethally toxic, but it's the only consistently effective cure for African trypanosomiasis, also known as "sleeping-sickness", a parasitic disease caused by microbes that are spread by specific insect-bites, most famously the tsetse fly.
    • Many kinds of surgery can be extremely dangerous. After all, surgery tends to involve cutting someone open and messing with their internal organs - sometimes even the heart or the brain. And before anesthesia was discovered, surgeries had to be performed with the patient fully conscious. You'd have to be pretty desperate to undergo that kind of thing willingly. Easily one of the most drastic, last-resort surgeries is hemisphectoromy, which involves either disabling or completely cutting out an entire half of the patient's brain. This is usually only done on children, and only when they suffer from severe seizures that refuse to stop despite numerous other, less invasive treatments.
    • Quarantines. The safest and surest way to keep an outbreak of a highly communicable disease from turning into an epidemic is to isolate the patient (and anyone else you suspect may be infected) from contact with the outside world. Advances in reliable treatments and hygiene have raised the threshold considerably and allowed doctors to administrate care safely themselves for the duration, but in the bad old days, quarantining an infected population often meant cutting contact completely and hoping that someone was still alive when it was safe to let them out.
  • This is pretty much the definition of Total War, where all economic resources of a combatant are mobilized for the war effort and the any constraints towards the prosecution of said war are rescinded. Constraints can include such mundane things as social taboos about women and children working in typically male professions or possibly even in combat rolls.
  • Any scenario that could theoretically lead to a Global Thermonuclear War. (And to a lesser degree, anything that causes extensive use of biological weapons.) The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction however is an attempt at averting the trope, proposing that no-one could win any large scale use of nuclear weapons and that there is no possible way the Threshold could actually be reached.
  • The scenario that did lead to nuclear war. That invading the islands of Japan would be incredibly difficult and bloody for the US (experience at Iwo Jima and Okinawa as well as the increase in Kamikaze attacks demonstrated that Japanese were culturally geared to be Defiant to the End) was their primary argument for detonating two atomic weapons over Japanese cities in August 1945.
  • Another crossing of the threshold was Operation Downfall - if the Japanese hadn't surrendered, then the Allies would have launched the largest amphibious/naval operation in history: Hundreds of capital ships, thousands of aircraft, millions of men, chemical weapons, and, most chillingly of all seven atom bombs. (That's right—the contemplated alternative to dropping two A-bombs was dropping seven.) The estimated dead for the conquest of Japan was .5 million for the US and 5+ million Japanese.

    By way of illustration of the commitment of the US military to this plan there was a standing order that the atomic bombs should be used as soon as they were "made ready". The expected rate was calculated to be three bombs per month up through at least November. At the time of the Japanese surrender, a third atomic bomb was being loaded for transport at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. When the surrender notice came in, the shipment was stopped and President Truman asserted that there was to be no further use of nuclear weapons without his direct approval.

    So many Purple Heart medals were made in anticipation of an invasion of Japan that the US military didn't start to run low until the 21st century.
  • Inverted during the development of the atomic bomb: Physicist Edward Teller informed Robert Oppenheimer that there was a chance that detonating an atomic bomb could ignite Earth's atmosphere. Oppenheimer insisted that the figures be re-checked, and if there was a greater than 3 in 1 million chance of that happening, the project would not go ahead. Quoth Oppenheimer, "Better to accept the slavery of the Nazis than run the risk of drawing the final curtain on mankind."
  • The Trope Namer is a nuclear metaphor. In fact, Godzilla started as a purely antagonistic force and a metaphor of having a nuke used against you, then became metaphor for the idea of having to use a nuclear weapon once it was realized it would be cool if he fought other monsters.
  • World War I: The German Reich, being an authoritarian, militarist Monarchy, hated and feared Communism with a fiery passion. But when the Western Front bogged down for several years, they smuggled Vladimir Lenin into Russia, hoping he'd screw that country up even further and force it out of the war. It worked, leading to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, whereby Germany got huge swathes of territory ceded to them by Russia in exchange for peace, and the entire Eastern Front army could be transferred to the Western Front for the Spring 1918 offensives. Of course, the cost was the creation of the USSR and (later) the rise of Josef Stalin, which led to...
  • The Midwives of the Birth of Nazism. Fearing the Dirty Communists of Josef Stalin's USSR, many in the West looked favorably on the rise of Adolf Hitler and Those Wacky Nazis, because their blatant anti-Communism made them seem like a good buffer zone between the Soviets and the West. Paradoxically the Soviets saw a rearmed Germany as a valuable buffer between themselves and the West dating back to Seeckt's proposals for joint defense, so the USSR played a leading role in recreating the German military in the 1920s. Things changed after Hitler rose to power in the 30s, with Germany and the USSR supporting opposite sides in the Spanish Civil War. Then they abruptly changed again in 1939, when Hitler and Stalin hashed out an agreement to expand to their mutual benefit at the expense of Eastern Europe's independent states. This, of course, led immediately and directly to...
  • World War II: Winston Churchill was one of those rabidly anti-Communist leaders in the West, but he also realized that the Nazis were worse. So, when Hitler backstabbed Stalin and invaded Russia in 1941, Churchill went back on a lifetime of opposing Communism by immediately offering alliance and aid to the Soviets. When questioned on the wisdom of this by his political allies, Churchill famously stated that "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."
  • The sheer amount of War material delivered by the United States is simply mind boggling. Hundreds of thousands of aircraft, hundreds of thousands of armoured vehicles, millions of small arms. One ammunition plant alone produced over a billion bullets in under a year. In 4 years American shipyards mass produced more Aircraft Carriers than the rest of the world had combined. The single minded focus the United States took towards war production resulted in guns baring the mark of such un-gun companies as IBM (computers) and Smith-Corona (Typewriters).

    The threat of the Axis powers didn't just provoke the United States into using nuclear weapons, but to create them effectively from scratch based only on theoretical arguments from prominent scientists at the onset of the war. The inflation adjusted cost of the Manhattan project was $20 billion dollars for the weapon and another $20 billion for the delivery system (the B-29). Neither of which had any guarantee of working when the projects commenced in 1942.
  • In a strange subversion of this trope, Nazi Germany didn't itself pass the Godzilla Threshold until late in the war, well beyond the point where it would do any good. The perceived weakness of their enemies combined with the string of early victories convinced the Germans that the war could be won with only a partial economic mobilization. Such investments as long range heavy bombers and a nuclear weapons program were never seriously considered because a "short" war would have no need of such things. The Nazis also never broke with tradition and tapped their female population to work in the factories as it was deemed more important for them to raise the next generation of Nazi super-children. Despite all the heavy bombing, Nazi war production only reached its peak in 1944(!) after all the slack industrial capacity was finally turned over to the war effort and after the Fascist, but Inefficient prior organization of the economy got replaced by the - equally ruthless but at least somewhat competent - Albert Speer.
  • The Cold War. Western nations often couldn't think of anything worse than seeing another nation fall to Communism, so if keeping the Dirty Communists out meant backing ruthless right-wing military dictatorships in third world nations, so be it. The Commies for their part didn't have any problems with working with ruthless left-wing dictators to keep American Puppets out of power in various nations. Of course, even by those calculations, sometimes, the Godzilla Threshold wasn't quite met to the extent that going nuclear was worth it, which is why we didn't end up fighting nuclear war over Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Angola, or any of a dozen other brushfire wars and proxy conflicts during that era. One of those conflicts was Afghanistan, where American political leaders basically thought, "A bunch of Fundamentalist Islamic guerrillas with terrorist tendencies can't possibly make the situation any worse than the Commies are, so let's give them a bunch of free guns."

    Communism clearly represented an existential threat to the ruling upper and middle classes of the United States. Through the mid-1960's, fully half the Federal government's total budget was for defense. This government spending was funded by upper income marginal tax rates of 50-90%, something considered unthinkable today without the specter global communism. Much like in World War 2, the United States took arms production Up to Eleven, producing over 30,000 nuclear weapons and the bombers, missiles and submarines needed to deliver them.
  • The Middle Eastern situation: On both sides with both Iran and Iraq. The West, especially the United States, thought that the Middle East falling to Communism was bad enough that they would rather prop up an unpopular leader (the Shah of Iran) who opposes them than risk the Communists falling in. That led to the Iranian people crossing the threshold, preferring the radical Shi'as to Western-propped dictators. Still fearing the Soviets taking Iran, the US propped up the president of neighboring Iraq, one Saddam Hussein, who already had a reputation for brutality... again, figuring that even at his most brutal, Saddam couldn't be any worse than the Communists. This would come to bite the US in the behind when Saddam invaded Kuwait, almost overnight changing from the US's Godzilla threshold to a power they used the Godzilla threshold on. And when 9/11 happened, they crossed the threshold again and invaded Iraq a second time.
  • If a plane is heading for a civilized area, won't respond to attempts to contact it, and all other attempts to stop it fails, the United States Air Force will shoot down its own country's civilian aircraft. We've already seen what happens when we fail to get there in time. (Though the first thing done is the fighter jets are ordered to close within visual range to inspect the plane, for certain reasons.)
  • A more positive example came about immediately after the 9/11 attacks: experts were suggesting one response to Afghanistan was to Nuke 'em. Thankfully George W. Bush shot the idea down, averting the threshold.
  • In a modern conventional firefight, the US military has the call of "broken arrow". A "broken arrow" scenario means that a battle has effectively gone much worse than anticipated and a unit is on the verge of being overrun. What the call entails is to direct all available attack aircraft and artillery fire on the area being attacked. Because of the close distance nature and general disorganization happening during a "broken arrow" call, Unfriendly Fire (also known as Blue On Blue) from airstrikes and artillery is basically expected rather than actively avoided. (A realistic demonstration of this was used in the movie We Were Soldiers.) There's also the related call of "danger close", which basically means "I know that I'm close enough to the target that I'm just as likely to get hit as it is, but I want you to fire on it anyway."
  • Singapore's reserve funds are, proportionate to her market size, one of the world's largest, largely thanks to their usage being handled this way. The one time they have (publicly) been known to be used since independence was during the 2009 credit crunch, which is the worst recession since the Great Depression.
  • Necessity in Law, which essentially means damage to property and other activities that would normally be against the law may be justified by necessity to prevent some bigger trouble, and a person who has done it is not accountable for it. Factory burning and the only way to get access to one side is through a full car dealership parking lot? Bulldoze the brand new cars out of the way. Sea water bad in the long term for the precision materials and equipment inside the nuclear reactor and will undoubtedly make it unable to be used in the future? Fuck it, we need to cool it down now.
  • Self-defense is a subtype of this; if you or someone else is in imminent danger of physical harm, you are legally allowed to commit assault and battery against your attacker up to the point where you are safe. If they are using lethal force, you can use lethal force in response, sometimes resulting in justifiable homicide - about 400 per year are recorded by civilians in the United States alone. There is a strict line here, though, as they must be presenting an imminent threat to you or someone else - so if someone attacks you, you can legally defend yourself, but if they turn to run or surrender, you cannot continue to attack. Likewise, if someone throws a punch at you, you cannot pull out a gun and shoot them. Self-defense is an affirmative defense, as you are outright admitting to committing an otherwise illegal act but claiming that it was justified under the law - if your actions are found to be unjustified, then you are guilty of whatever crime you confessed to. Note also that if you provoke an attack (so-called fighting words), you are not eligible for self-defense, because you started it.
  • The King of Swaziland attempted to invoke this, declaring a five-year moratorium on sex with girls under 18 due to the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa. Then he broke it with a seventeen year-old girl.
  • The United States' Declaration of Independence described political revolution in essentially these terms, and the bulk of it consisted of a list of reasons why the signers felt the actions of the British crown had crossed the threshold.
  • After World War II, the new German constitution includes an article that makes it the duty of all German citizens to use any means neccessary to prevent any government from overthrowing the constitution and establishing another totalitarian regime, which includes the use of armed resistance. Part of this may have been due to an earlier invocation of this trope that ended catastrophically for Germany — in the Weimar Constitution, during emergencies, the Chancellor could be allowed to rule by decree if the Reichstag consented for the duration of the emergency. Hitler took advantage of this to take over power following the Reichstag Fire.
  • In the UK the military maintains a tradition of letters of last resort. In effect these are the "final orders" to the Captains of the four nuclear-equipped Vanguard-class submarines to be opened in the event of a complete breakdown in command and control as a result of nuclear attack and which nobody knows except the Prime Minister himself/herself. Technically ANYTHING can be ordered but in general the possibilities fall into four categories. One of which is to accept that deterrence has failed and not retaliate and one is to place the submarine under the command of an allied nation. The last two basically amount to the Godzilla threshold in that either a full nuclear retaliation is ordered or, perhaps most horrifyingly, for the Captain to simply "use their best judgement" which in effect amounts to a freedom to do anything he deems necessary.
  • In the Thai flooding crisis of 2011 they dug up Bangkok's roads to try and channel away the floodwaters despite the cost in future rebuilding. If you're wondering how that made any sense at all, understand that many of Bangkok's roads are paved-over canals.
  • Ancient Rome had provisions for this during the Republic: when an enemy appeared invincible and on the verge of overrunning Rome, the Senate chose the man best suited to deal with that enemy and made him a dictator, giving him absolute power for six months and with no legal way to make him pay for anything he did during his term. It usually went well, as they would follow the example of Cincinnatus, who, upon defeating an enemy coalition that had surrounded the Roman army (thus prompting him being named dictator) within the first half of his term, resigned and returned to his farm, and, after being named dictator AGAIN to deal with a coup, he defeated the coup in one day and immediately resigned AGAIN.

    Then the Second Punic War: with their army was almost completely destroyed at Cannae, many of their remaining allies defecting to Hannibal and the previously neutral Kingdom of Macedon declaring war, the Romans went so far as to perform human sacrifices and raise legions among the landless and the slaves. To put it into perspective, Romans despised the very idea of human sacrifices, while the landless people and slaves they were arming and training had good reasons to rebel. Amazingly, it worked: when the new legions proved fiercely loyal and realization set that the most powerful and richest allies were staying with Rome, Hannibal realized his chances of victory were extremely slim, and the Macedons deciding the price of the war wasn't worth it sealed the deal.

    Even worse than both was the situation at the start of Pompey's pirate war, with the pirates of the Mediterranean having outright control of numerous fortified cities and entire countries, posing a dire threat to Rome's wheat supply from Egypt, and having raided Ostia, Rome's harbor. After the latter, most of the Senate (including almost all of Pompey's worst political enemies) voted a law that gave Pompey the Great greater powers than a dictator: they assigned him the equivalent of thirty legions (effectively the entirety of Rome's army), control of a fleet of either 270 or 500 ships with full crews, an initial budget of 144 million sesterces and full authority to draw from the public treasure if it wasn't enough, authority to choose 25 Senators and make them legates that answered only to him, and full authority to do anything he deemed necessary on the sea and on the land to up to 50 miles from the coast (and most of Rome's territory, including Rome itself, was at less than 50 miles from the coast), and a term of three years to solve the pirate situation. Pompey solved the situation in three months, celebrated his triumph, and then resigned.
  • Thanks to the lessons learned during The Great Depression, central banks now treat financial meltdowns as threshold moments. In order to prevent a complete economic collapse, all the normal rules of banking are thrown out the window and central banks will do whatever it takes to stop both panics and deflationary spirals. For example, in order to halt the 2008 financial crisis, the United States Federal Reserve went to what was described as "crazy town", by lending over $1 Trillion at very low rates and backed by collateral of dubious value.
  • Locusts. Old school but still armageddon to farmers if a swarm manages to grow to Biblical proportions. Crop loss is often expected to be 100%. Methods used to combat locust swarms are usually using enough poison to kill every living thing in the area... except the locust, whose numbers will take a dent but as a hive being several miles wide and thus, can move around, over, or through the poisoned areas. Worse, it was only in 2009 that scientists even figured out what causes locust swarms to appear. Locusts are grasshoppers - the same grasshoppers that are living in the area already. But if their numbers grow too large, this causes them to literally morph into locusts, swarm, and start eating everything in sight.
  • Fire. A sufficiently big fire will turn anything in its path into a smouldering ruin and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Fires can get so bad, that perhaps the only way to deal with it is to set your OWN fire in the hope that your fire will consume enough fuel/air to fight the original fire. Of course, things CAN go wrong where the fire just merges into one Super Fire.
    • During the Chicago Fire, dynamite was used to demolish entire blocks of buildings in an attempt to create fire breaks. It was partially successful in some areas, but ultimately they couldn't work fast enough and the fire outflanked the demolition crews.
    • In an attempt to fight the fires set in the wake of the San Francisco 1906 Earthquake, the same technique as Chicago was used, but all the people experienced in doing this were dead, and the demolished buildings would themselves catch fire (proper demolition techniques would collapse the building on itself in such a way that most potential fires would be smothered), making things worse. At least 80% of the damage to the city was fire damage, and not direct earthquake damage.
    • Lighting backfires (which burn towards the original fire, consuming all the fuel) is still a technique in use for fighting forest or brushfires. Setting backfires is reportedly as much art as science, and as previously mentioned is in no way guaranteed to work, making it a controversial tactic at best. Conversely, as a number of countries have learned the hard way (the US included) the absolute worst forest fire management policy is to stamp them all out as fast as possible. This leads to build up of fuel until it reaches the stage where it is no longer possible to suppress further fires, resulting in a titanic wildfire, such as the 1988 Yellowstone fire. The better option is to allow natural fires of limited scale to burn, suppressing only fires of large size or human origin. This allows a safe burn-off of the naturally accumulating fuel.
    • Sometimes the threshhold for fire can be crossed before the fire even starts. After the Americans started their fire-bombing raids against Japan (causing far more destruction and casualties than even the nuclear bombs would later on), the government in Kyoto ordered two large firebreaks to be created in the city by demolishing two wide strips of the city perpendicular to the river (which itself formed another firebreak). Those firebreaks still exist to this day in the form of a pair of wide avenues, alongside some of the oldest urban buildings in Japan (the war ended before Kyoto could be bombed, meaning the firebreaks were ultimately not necessary).
    • Using large explosions on huge fires that can't be put out by conventional means (like oil rig fires). The physics behind it is explosions create a void of air, starving the fire of oxygen.
  • Culling. As stupid as killing an entire farm of livestock or entire yield of crops because ONE animal/batch was found sick sounds, it's because of this trope that it is done. Depending on what the animal was sick with, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, SARS, or just plain old Foot and Mouth, it is often seen as a good idea to use the Godzilla Option early rather than wait for it to become a Godzilla Necessity. Because as wasteful as culling perfectly good stock is, the potential losses from not doing so are just too great to risk.
    • In the early 2000's in Wisconsin, Chronic Wasting Disease (the Deer equivalent of Mad Cow) was starting to spread and become a problem. If left unchecked, the disease risked wiping out the deer population to the point where it may not recover. The Wisconsin DNR first tried to find a cure for the disease, or at least find what was causing it in the first place in hopes of preventing further infections. The methods didn't work, so they had no choice: They extended Deer Season by a week and ordered for hunters in the state to shoot more deer than usually allowed in order to thin the numbers to extremely low populations (and to make sure that nobody consumed the infected deer.) Thanks to careful monitoring by the DNR, the deer would recover to normal populations within a few years, and now the disease is barely even a problem anymore.
    • In 2001, when a single case of foot and mouth was detected at an Irish farm, not only were all the animals at said farm culled, but the Irish Special Forces were sent in to kill all the wildlife in the area that could potentially be infected.
  • The Crusades started when the Patriarch of Constantinople asked the Pope for help to fight off the Turks. However, at that point the Great Schism between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity was in living memory, and the Pope and the Patriarch had mutually excommunicated each other, each sect considering the other to be heretical. For a religious leader to even consider the help of people he considered heretics, you know it's this trope. The aftermath was exactly how you'd expect this trope to go.
  • If a rocket launch goes really seriously wrong, there comes a point where the best thing that can happen is for the rocket to detonate right now, rather than crashing onto a town and detonating there. It is the job of the range safety officer to recognize when the Godzilla threshold has been passed and push the Big Red Button. Averting this is why the USA launches rockets from Cape Canaveral, Florida: rockets are launched from West to East, to take advantage of the earth's rotation, so launching from the East Coast puts the ocean underneath the rocket if it comes crashing down, instead of (potentially populated) land.
  • Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital rocket has a launch escape system which fires a solid fuel rocket directly into the booster stage, in order to push the capsule and its crew away from a (potentially exploding) booster. This certainly terminates the mission and all but guarentees that the reusable booster stage will be destroyed by the combination of facing a hot jet of exhaust gases and the supersonic airstream to a bulkhead that was only designed to hold the capsule in place. If the escape system is activated, the control software has given up on saving the booster and is just trying to save as many lives as it can.

    Despite this, the New Shepard booster survived the in-flight test of that Launch Escape System, and successfully achieved a controlled, soft landing. Even though the engineers both expected and accepted that the booster would probably be lost in the in-flight test of the escape-system, they wrote software code for the booster's flight-computer to attempt to keep controlling the booster anyway (which was already done to prevent risk of collision with the escaping capsule) and programmed the booster to attempt to fly itself to a controlled, intact landing, just in case the booster somehow did survive the in-flight test of the escape-system.
  • The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 got so bad and so damaging to the environment that some Russian officials suggested ending the spill permanently by detonating a nuclear weapon at the site of the leak. The reasoning was that the spill had gotten so severe that the damage caused by just nuking it would be less than the damage caused by allowing the spill to continue unchecked. Surprisingly enough, it's actually worked a few times.
  • Scarily enough, this is what the human body will do to itself when facing a severe infection. The immune response starts with proportionate responses like antibody production or fever... but when that doesn't work, the response gets cranked up to such high levels of inflammation that tissue damage ensues. At a certain point the person might actually die, but can't do anything about their automatic bodily processes shutting down an infection at all costs. What most people don't know its that the majority of modern disease-causing pathogens don't kill in and of themselves- the body does itself in, sort of like how it's Not the Fall That Kills You.
  • The point of Kate Bornstein's book Hello Cruel World, meant to provide alternatives to suicide for teens; some reviewers complained that said alternatives include things like drugs, alcohol and making a deal with the devil, but the idea is that if someone is considering killing themselves, almost anything, even if not the best choice in general, would be a better option. Then again, the point of the book is not to make the teens self-harm, but to distract them and keep them alive long enough for more "medically accepted" interventions to take place.
  • For patrol officers in the United States, any situation that requires going to the squad car and grabbing the shotgun or AR-15 carbine is this. It is typically in response to the worst possible situations an officer can encounter, such as a suspect with an automatic weapon shooting at them, or anything else a sidearm isn't capable of handling. (Calling in S.W.A.T can also be this, but S.W.A.T teams are also called to situations that simply require additional protection, such as high-risk warrants and security for high-profile operations like major sporting events or visiting dignitaries.) That's the theory, at least; police departments all over the US are regularly accused of excessive force, particularly against unarmed citizens.
  • In the human body, the activation of cytotoxic T-cells is this, with multiple signals, because cytotoxic T-cells have a license to kill human cells based on presented surface proteins.
  • New York City's Board of Education encompasses all five boroughs, and it is in the mayor's command. School closures are all-or-nothing affairs. Because of their implications, they only happen when the city is brought to its knees.
  • Italy hit this the very moment it entered World War I on the side of the Entente due a combination of appalling military readiness (there had been little time to recall the reserves, and the incompetence of the bureaucracy had caused scarcity of artillery, machine guns (many had been bought from Britain in 1914 and paid in advance, but were never delivered due the start of the war and Italy being nominally on the other side, if still neutral), rifles and even uniforms), the few military assets being either still in place to invade France or tied up in the colonies, the recently acquired colony of Libya being in full revolt and having pushed the Italians to the coast, and Italy's low industrialization. The commander-in-chief Luigi Cadorna dealt with it by establishing a military dictatorship in everything but name, thus making himself capable of forcing a greater industrialization that managed to produce enough materiel (by the end of the war Italy even had the largest artillery park of any power in the war), employ a variation on the concept of Child Soldiers (the trainees would be drafted an year early, but would be trained and employed as militia for about a year before being sent to the front), and ruthlessly send his troops in frontal attacks against Austro-Hungarian lines because he knew they'd run out of soldiers before him. Then, after the Russian collapse freeing the Austro-Hungarian reserves, Cadorna's ways as overly-disciplinarian General Ripper and the incompetence of some of his subordinates caused the utter defeat at Caporetto, Cadorna's successor Armando Diaz resolved to send in the Child Soldiers early. These measures ended with causing a temporary collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Army and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but also nearly caused a civil war in the aftermath of the peace (as the soldiers returning home were most disgruntled with what they got and tended to join either the Anarchists or the movement of disgruntled veteran Benito Mussolini) and paved the way to the rise of Fascism and the suppression of the Libyan revolt with means that could be described only as war crimes.
  • Switzerland (because of the Conscription army still being relevant) is quite crazy about worst-case scenarios contingency plans.
    • Because of the Conscription any civilian is potentially a soldier, and a very large fraction of the population has had military training and can potentially be called up as a member of the militia. Militia members are also allowed to keep their service rifle after their term ends. Prior to 2007, this was taken Up to Eleven with the government providing each member of the militia with a sealed box with 50 rounds of ammunition - just in case. Since 2007, all ammunition has been stored at military armories except for members of the military police and special rapid deployment reservist units.
    • This was even crazier during World War II and later the Cold War, at which times the country could be sealed into "the Redoubt", effectively a chain of fortresses in the mountains staffed with half a million men and equipped with anything from heavy weapons and tanks to DCA and artillery, all camouflaged in the Alps' charming scenery. Plus 2 months worth of supplies to hold a siege.note 
    • In the spirit of the redoubt, bridges and tunnels were set-up with demolition charges during the Cold War to cut off all easy entries to the country, basically leaving potential invaders with the choice between mountains, lakes, rivers or more mountains.note 
    • This all might seem excessive for a nation that hasn't been to war in three centuries, but considering their position right in the middle of what was until recent history the most volatile continent on the planet, being Crazy-Prepared starts to make sense as a defensive strategy.
  • The Pope: The head of the Catholic Church, he is a symbol of peace, love, and holiness. Certainly (at least, not since the decadent times of the Middle Ages and Renaissance) we don't expect the pope to take out a hit on someone, right? Except recently uncovered evidence shows that Pope Pius XII did just that — against Adolf Hitler. Yes, Hitler was so evil and dangerous that the Pope ordered him assassinated!.
  • In retrospect, this is how the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978-79 has been viewed. While a hardline Communist government is not ideal (especially a hardline Communist government that the United States and its allies had very recently lost a major war to), what the Vietnamese invasion and occupation replaced was unarguably worse.
  • People who do things like shoot up their schools or rob businesses consider themselves to have crossed this when society gives them no incentive to obey the law. Cracked writer David Wong sums this up in two different articles:
    And as you get colder and lonelier and more powerless, you decide you'll find ways to be powerful. If the system is going to try to ignore you in hopes you'll just wither away and die, then you'll make yourself impossible to ignore. If that means throwing a brick through a window at school, that's what you do. If it means getting really good at insulting people, or fighting, or stealing, then so be it. When you've been frozen out of the system — or perceive that you've been frozen out, to the point that swallowing a bottle of your grandma's pain pills seems like a reasonable exit — what else do you have to lose?

    If those dominoes hadn't fallen in just the right way, instead of Editor of Cracked I'd be behind the counter at Denny's, getting wrestled to the ground by cops because I don't actually work there. Before this happened to come along I had lost hope and lowered my expectations over and over and over[.]