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...
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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.
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.
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.
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.
The Brigadier does it in the episode "The Five Doctors", as the Master is holding the Doctors at gunpoint (well, technically TCE-point) but ignoring the humans. The Brig taps him on the shoulder and socks him in the jaw as he turns around, saying "Nice to see you again" as he does so.
Colonel Mace pulls this with a gun in "The Poison Sky", shouting out to his opponent before shooting him dead:
The Doctor: All of creation has just been wiped from the sky. D'you know how many lives have now never happened, all the people who never lived? Your girlfriend isn't more important than the whole universe. Auton!Rory: (punches The Doctor) SHE IS TO ME!
In the TV remake of Flash Gordon, the title character taps a Mook on the shoulder and knocks him out when he turns his head.
In Scrubs, Dr. Cox does this to Dr. Kelso. It was a long time coming, and Dr. Kelso was being more of a jerk than usual, even singling out one of the residents to bully.
He plays this trope straight a few episodes before: having failed to find Buffy, Harmony and her minions are returning to their lair. One of the minions says that he's going to hang out for a while and look for some action - cue an off-screen Spike tapping him on the shoulder before punching him in the face.
Mal: (in response to an insult against the Browncoats) You want to say that to my face? Drunk: (turning to face him) I said you're a coward and a piss-pot. Now what're you going to do about it? Mal: Nothing. I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind you. (Zoe hits the guy from behind) Mal: Drunks are so cute.
Simon finds himself on the receiving end of one in The Pilot. Then he returns the favor in Serenity.
Not quite a haymaker, but in 24 Jack Bauer gets a guard's attention from below with a "Hey" before capping him in the face.
Hatter from Alice is very fond of this. His particular "hey you" is a jaunty whistle before he introduces the unlucky subject of his ire to the sledgehammer that is his right hand.
Similar to the 24 example above, Justified's Boyd Crowder whistles to attract the attention of a guard so he can shoot him in the forehead.
Get Smart inverts this with Agent 99. By this time, she and Max are near the point of marrying each other, so Max sometimes approaches her from behind to do sweet things. Unfortunately, her spy training means she immediately responds with a turn-around haymaker. Which usually results in Max getting decked and 99 apologizing for it.
Barney tries to pull one of these on Marshall's friend Brad when he follows him and Robin to a hockey game and sees them kiss. It doesn't faze Brad much so Barney immediately begins cowering and trying to talk his way out of the anticipated retaliation (which doesn't come, Brad is a chill guy).
He also lays on on Ted in "The Fight" (to give him a convincing black eye that would make it look like they had actually been in the fight)
In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "In the Pale Moonlight", Sisko doesn't even bother to say anything before belting Garak across the face.
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 RK Os are performed this way (he'll either spin them or tap them lightly). Once they turn around, it's game over.
David Otunga: 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) Otunga: (turning again to open the door) This guy...! John Cena: Heeeey! (cue beatdown)