So we all like punching people in the face, right? But the problem with that is sometimes access to your opponent's face is blocked by the back of their head. The solution: tap your target on the shoulder or otherwise get his attention, causing him to turn around, exposing his precious, punchable face. Ahh, sweet satisfaction!
This is also an exception to the "dishonor" of attacking someone from behind.
It may or may not be a knockout blow as it will just as often lead to a Fight Scene
as it will to an instant knock out. It is also evenly split between being taken seriously and played straight for laughs. If the target doesn't go down, it usually leads to Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...
See also Attack Hello
or Dynamic Entry
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- The Rollo ad in which a brat kid offers a baby elephant his last Rollo sweet and then eats it himself. Years later he's watching a circus parade when a trunk taps him on the shoulder, then the now fully-grown elephant whacks him across the face. An elephant never forgets...
Anime & Manga
- In Full Metal Panic!, Sôsuke does this to the head of the Amateur Karate Club when he is busy flirting with Kaname. Not to be confused with jealousy: they were in the middle of a fight and if he won, the club would vacate the club house so it could be demolished.
- Faye from Cowboy Bebop invokes this trope successfully and captures the Teddybear Bomber as a result.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, this is how Negi introduced himself to Tosaka, upon discovering him hurting his students.
- In Dragon Ball, #16 does this to Cell. Then again with a Rocket Punch.
- Ennis in Baccano! pulls a classic shoulder-tap-to-face-punch combo on one of Dallas' buddies.
- In Digimon Adventure Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon pull this on Piedmon before blasting him into the Gate of Destiny.
- Cromartie High School seems to like this trope. Of particular mention is Kamiyama's use of this against Hayashida, especially since Hayashida is probably his best friend at Cromartie, he has only ever hit someone once in his life, and that he achieves the effect with a slap (prompting a somewhat girly shriek from Hayashida).
- In the anime version of X-Men, Wolverine punches the crap out of Cyclops, which is followed by a What the Hell, Hero? rant from Wolvie.
- In Death Note when L is complaining that he's depressed and unmotivated with the Kira case now that it looks like Light isn't Kira. The following Ensues: Light gets L's attention, L turns around, Light punches him hard in the face.
- GaoGaiGar features what may be one of the most epic examples:
- At one point in Attack on Titan, the Female Titan hears a roar and the sound of rapid footsteps. She turns around in confusion just in time to take a punch to the face from the Rogue Titan.
Films — Animation
- Aladdin: King of Thieves
- Jasmine first taps the shoulder on one of the forty thieves who attacked the royal palace, and then knocks him out cold, much to the shock of the other gawking thieves.
- Al does it in the same movie to Saluk.
- Megamind pulls this on his nemesis with a Humongous Mecha. Doesn't have much effect, though.
Films — Live-Action
- Towards the climax of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Raph yells "Hey, mac!" to a guard. When said guard turns around, Raph cold-cocks him and tells him to "take the rest of the day off."
- In The Dark Knight:
- Also done in 1989's Batman:
- It's also done completely straight in Black Knight, a completely unrelated movie.
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Professor Browne gets the tap-on-shoulder version from a pair of gloves during the Substitutiary Locomotion song.
- Indiana Jones does this to SS Colonel Vogel in The Last Crusade.
Indy: Tickets, please. (beats up the SS officer and throws him out of the zeppelin, to the astonished looks of the other passengers) No ticket!
- James Bond
- In the opening scene of Diamonds Are Forever a Cairo gambler tells the dealer, "Hit me." Bond taps him on the shoulder, then obliges.
- Another funny example in Tomorrow Never Dies, where Bond sneaks up behind a Mook, lights up a cigarette for him, then punches him out, saying, "Filthy habit." Possibly a Shout-Out to the fact that Pierce Brosnan was (at the time) the first Bond actor not to smoke on screen (unless you count Die Another Day).
- And again in the same movie, except without a lighter; he merely pantomimes lighting the cigarette.
- Golden Eye: "Beg your pardon. Forgot to knock."
- In The Abyss, Catfish ends the fight between Bud and Coffey with one of these, complete with Over Crank. The fight began with Bud trying this unsuccessfully.
- In 10 Things I Hate About You, previously mellow Bianca does this to Joey, combining it with And This Is for...: "That's for making my date bleed, that's for my sister, and that's for me!" Yes, yes this is a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- In My Cousin Vinny, Vinny knocks a guy flat on his back after getting tired of posturing when he sees him again.
- In V for Vendetta Evey does this to a policeman who's pointing a gun at V. Except that she doesn't punch, she uses pepper spray. And then gets knocked out by the policeman's flailing.
- In Peter Jackson's horror/comedy The Frighteners, Frank Bannister distracts the Grim Reaper from choking the life out of his Love Interest with a "Hey. Asshole." In this case, however, he "punches" it — repeatedly — with bullets from an ethereal machine gun.
- Mortal Kombat:
Johnny Cage: Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!
- Sirius Black does this to Lucius Malfoy in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- A variation occurs in Race With the Devil. Roger calls out to one of the cultists on the roof of the RV, causing him to stand up and get creamed by the overpass.
- Sean, the protagonist of The Monster Squad, pulls a variation of this. The wolf man is attacking his father, who was planning to blow up Dracula with Dynamite. Lit the fuse and everything. As he's getting his ass kicked, Sean comes up behind him and goes "Hey, asshole!" The wolfman turns to face him and Sean then says "You looked." and hits him in the face with a SHOVEL. At which point his father gets in on the act, shoves the still lit dynamite down the wolf man's trousers and pushes him out the window just in time for the dynamite to go off. The wolf man comes back though.
- Shane Falco of The Replacements pulls one on the man he's replacing, Martel, after the replacement players' first (and only) loss. Notable for his spin on the trope: Falco and Martel had been discussing the replacements' fitness as players, particularly the fact that one of their receivers is deaf. One of the replacement defenders shouts, commanding both Martel's and Falco's attention, and Falco uses a Brick Joke to signal to the former SWAT officer that shit's about to hit the fan. Then Falco then says "Hey, Martel" and delivers the first punch of a Bar Brawl.
- In Hogfather, Susan does this to Teatime. It doesn't work quite as well as she thought it would.
- After being strengthened by temporary (but extremely powerful) belief in Small Gods, Om does this to the Tsortean sun god. With a cornucopia.
- The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden does this in Ghost Story to a Giant Mook near the climax. Made extra special that Harry was still dead at the time and it was the first thing he did after willing himself back into a physical body.
- In an early BattleTech novel that first introduced the Clans, the stubborn but dedicated heir-apparent Victor Davion refuses to leave his men behind on a planet when he is personally ordered to evacuate his royal self in the face of Clan invasion. The solution to get Victor to comply is for his aide-de-camp to get his attention suddenly, turn him around, and knock him out with a punch to the jaw. This scene was also animated in the BattleTech cartoon.
- Either played straight or averted in wrestling. For example, a cowardly heel will often strike his enemy from behind rather than spin them around and punch them; if they do spin them around, it'll be to do their finisher. Faces (good guys) aren't above attacking from behind either, but a lot of faces will spin their opponent around to attack them when they can. For a comedic effect or just to look awesome, a face will wait for the opponent to turn around before destroying them.
- Randy Orton actually has a subversion (aversion?) of this: His European uppercut actually causes him and his opponent to spin away from each other. Also, a few of his RKOs are performed this way (he'll either spin them or tap them lightly). Once they turn around, it's game over.
- The Rock, John Cena, and countless other famous faces will turn their opponent around to land one massive punch on their faces. Although one hilarious example that doesn't involve the usual formula...
This is cold, man! You expect me to pay for this? Get out!
(delivery man leaves; Otunga turns around, and someone knocks on the door again, this time harder
(turning again to open the door
) This guy...! John Cena:
Heeeey! (cue beatdown
- Suburban Knights: Film Brain and Luke to a Cloak. "EXPECTO MY FIST!"
- Idiotsitter: Billie gets two of these in "Fight Day". First, she wakes up and Gene's standing over her. She says, "Happy Ocho de Octo" before whacking her with a therapy bat and then punching her in the face. Then while Billie's brushing her teeth, Tansy says "Morning" and whacks her in the back. Its averted the third time as Mr. Russel just whacks her in the face (sending her falling hard to the floor) and runs away, shouting "Happy Ocho de Octo!"
- In the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited, Superman does this to Darkseid, literally tapping him on the shoulder to get him to turn around before clobbering him.
Superman: Excuse me. *WHAM!*
- Done by a disgruntled Frankie on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Batman does this to a mook at the beginning of "The Fate of Equinox!" At the end, Batman does it again, to Equinox, while they're both the size of skyscrapers.
- Batman also does this to the Creature King in the crossover with Space Ghost.
- Batman tries to do this to Dr. Sivana, but as the Mad Scientist is currently empowered by Shazam's lightning, it fails to do anything.
- From the Green Lantern episode of Duck Dodgers, Kilowog does this with a "Ah, 'scuse me, pardon me" to a Mecha-Mook.
- A supremely pissed-off Kim Possible does this to Drakken in So the Drama, angry that he used Synthodrone 901 to play her.
Drakken: At last I found her weakness; Boys! Boys, boys, boys, who shall I take to the dance, who's the perfect boy?
Kim: You're right, Drakken. Boys, dating, oh, it's hard. But this is easy. (WHAM!)
- Spider-Man: The New Animated Series features our hero giving one to Electro.
- In Storm Hawks, Aerrow and Piper do this simultaneously to a pair of mooks in "Radarr Love".
- Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus to Dr. Doofenshmirtz, during the extended version of the "Gitchi Gitchi Goo" song.
- In Transformers Generation 1, Optimus is fond of doing this to Megatron.
Optimus Prime: Hello again, Megatron! *POW*
- The Fairly OddParents: Abracatastrophe: "Hi mister magic guy! Meet mister FAIRY FIST!"
- Batman does it to a mook on a rooftop in the short pilot/promo that was made for Batman: The Animated Series.
- Futurama does something like this in "I Second That Emotion". One of Bender's arms taps a foe on the shoulder, points in another direction, then the other arm punches said foe in the face.
- The Legend of Korra: "Stay away from my dad's ex-girlfriend!" It's about three thousand times more awesome than it sounds.
- In Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Thing gives one to Namor the Sub-Mariner as he was about to attack Jonnhy.
Thing: I'm the only one allowed to beat him up!
- In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Black Canary uses a variation, whispering "Wanna hear a secret?" to one of the Made Men just before hitting him with a point-blank sonic blast.
- In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Feeding Time", when Parasite is distracted with Jimmy Olsen, Superman calls, "Hey Rudy!" and smacks him with a hanging hook.