"Let the guy be a little fallible. Those are the ones I am interested in watching when I go to the movies. I want to see the flaws, the dirt under the fingernails. If he is invulnerable, how can you identify with this guy? As absurd as it may seem, you have to believe in it, or else the audience won't and they won't get their money's worth."
There's a reason Ban and Ginji are called the "Invincible Get Backers".
Alucard from Hellsing is an immortal Sociopathic Hero, able to survive even near-total bodily destruction. Though whether he's the series' hero is arguable, he receives quite a lot of screen time and plot focus, and few if any situations ever credibly threaten him.
This is the exact reason why Seijuro Hiko very rarely appears in Rurouni Kenshin. According to the creator of the series, he would turn any battle in the series into a joke. Well, no... not so much a "joke" as a really shortone-liner, as any fight would be over in seconds. So, Watsuki keeps him out of normal fights, making him a Showy Invincible Hero instead, with each appearance being a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Kenshin himself is this in the first few stories. The series starts out with Easing Into The Adventure where Kenshin is much stronger than all of the early villains. Later, the series becomes more serious and darker with villains that pose much more of a threat. Even so, Kenshin almost never actually loses a fight to any of them.
One of the biggest problems many Gundam fans had with the ending of Gundam SEED Destiny was that at the end the returning SEED cast had won the final fight without losing a single named character. The new main characters' mecha didn't get a single scratch, and they even went so far as to strike a victory pose at the end to show that they hadn't been scratched. Compare this to every final fight in other Gundam series, including the original Gundam SEED, in which every character can die and the main character often only gains a narrow victory, trashing his machine in the process.
Akagi never loses a game of Mahjong in the anime or the manga. However he is reported to have once been beaten by the main character in author Fukumoto's earlier work Ten.
Further, when Akagi loses a round, it's typically because his opponent either got the better of him ("cheating" doesn't really count because Akagi abuses his opponents like a red-headed stepchild when he cheats, which is often) or because Akagi is purposely laying a trap (RE: The third game, vs. Urabe).
Captain Tsubasa simply never loses. You wonder why people in the anime even think he can. At the very worst, it will be a draw.
Takumi from Initial D starts out like this. In fact, it's the reason why Takumi's dad won't put a new engine in the Eight-Six. He says that Takumi needs to learn what defeat fells like so that he'll appreciate the upgrade. Then again, Takumi has been driving longer than any of his peers, to the point where people think that his car was a ghost. It helps that his dad has been secretly teaching him how to drift since he was 13.
In the manga, he wins virtually every duel, but lost against Koyo Hibiki before coming to the academy (although Koyo was the World Champion, and this was before Judai got Terra Firma and Winged Kuriboh).
The manga also has Judai losing to Manjoume at the final match of the tournament. In fact, just as Manjoume was getting dangerously close this status himself, Kaiser Ryo defeats him when he has all three of his most powerful monsters on the field.
Having Manjyome almost play this trope straight in the manga is even funnier if you compare him to his Anime version, where he never ever manages to beat Judai.
Also inverted in a very cruel way with Fubuki Tenjyoin, who never wins a single duel in the Anime but is a champ in the manga.
Initially subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, of all places. The real bad guys, the Dark Signers, spend most of their arc mopping the floor with Team Yusei. It's not until episode 50 that the Signers really gain momentum in their battle with the Dark Signers.
Played straight with Crow, who has a better deck than anyone else on the show by far, and only has two losses and a draw (not counting a duel he lost on purpose), a fantastic record for him considering he's not the main character and how often he duels, and than those are only show that Yuusei could come in as Team 5Ds' last wheeler.
Yusei's "victory" over Team Unicorn through the sheer power of his super-charisma also has this trope written all over it.
While Yusei's win record seems rather contrived at times, he has had two legitimate losses. First one was against Jack in a flashback shown in episode 2 and the second was against Dark Signer Kiryu, although interrupted at the last second with his D-Wheel crashing and nearly getting himself killed by Ccapac Apu's attack.
Mahou Sensei Negima! usually averts this (Negi generally loses at least one fight with any villain before he beats them), but the Tournament Arc followed the subtrope of getting to the finals and then losing. Although in that case, the victory was in reaching the finals, and what happened then.
Alternatively, his father Nagi Springfield has been explicitly stated to be completely invincible. Through all the flashbacks, we've yet to see him greatly struggle (with the exception of a tie and a climactic battle against someone by the name of "Lifemaker").
In fact, the Myth Arc of the series concerns Nagi's disappearance ten years prior to the start of the series, and his son's attempts to find out what could possibly have happened to him.
Jack Rakan is also effectively invincible. To the point the only opponents who have ever given him trouble are Nagi (who's more... invincible... or something) and the Lifemaker and Fate. Fate had to rewrite reality in order to have a shot, and Jack is still holding his own.
Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star is nearly unstoppable. There are very few opponents that ever won a fight against him, or demonstrated superior skill, and he defeats all of them on second attempts, in one case without even having time to recover from the initial mauling. This trope is very prominent in the anime version, as it adds lots and lots of filler Curb Stomp Battles against Punks of the Week, but much less so in the manga.
When Kenshiro loses, he loses badly. Both Souther and Kaioh really did a number on him, his first battle with Raoh was a close call, and his loss to Shin is the moment that sets the entire series in motion.
Oddly Justified in Flame of Recca. Recca never loses a fight past a certain (fairly early) point in the series, but then again his powers come from a deal he made with the dragons inside him so if he ever loses anything he'll die. His teammates lose all the time though, especially since much of the series is a team based tournament where they just barely win enough matches to move on every single time.
Actually, he simply cannot die, losing is fine. If he dies without fulfilling his duty to his master, he will simply become a useless dragon with no power who will take up unnecessary space in another Flame Wielder's arm. And considering most of his enemies are Ax Crazy, it's probably best to not lose at all.
Similarly, in MÄR (done by the same author) Ginta never loses in the tournament, since if he loses, it's game over. His team mates on the other hand, can and have lost. Some of the rounds come down to a 3-2 win/loss ratios (with Ginta being last fighter to boot).
The witch Dorothy plays this trope straight, however, as she also remains undefeated throughout the tournament. Even though she gets beaten down rather badly several times, she is able to pull through with sometimes seemingly impossible feats. She does die in the anime, but eventually revives along everyone else for the final battle.
Lina, the heroine of Slayers, is less of this trope than it warrants, but it is painfully obvious how fellow mages Zelgadis, Amelia, and Sylphiel are out-classed against her, as she is the only person among them (and probably the entire world) who can both beam-spam the most powerful spell in the verse's Black Magic, and can also draw power from the Lord of Nightmares. She also shows ridiculous insight and intelligence often in random bursts, whereas normally she is fairly smart, but not inquisitive - the reverse happens with Zelgadis, normally book-smart, but fails rather epically with battle strategies. It is her that takes down every single demonic being that the group encounters, which makes Xellos' comment of all four main characters being "Slayers" of demons far less credible - Lina defeated Shabranigdo while the others were taken down in one blow each. Filia, a Golden Dragon, Naga, her alleged rival, and Pokota, a prince, are probably the only people that could rival her, but Filia is a stuck-up, prissy, and naive priestess who often refuses to take part in the group's antics, Naga is incredibly flaky, and Pokota is stuck in the body of a stuffed animal, knocking down his use by a solid margin. This mostly applies to the anime and the novels.
Angelic Layer, although there wasn't much of a choice for the writers outside of maybe a double-elimination round or two—the entire tournament was a vehicle for Character Development and an opportunity for the main to confront her absent mother.
She loses battles outside of the tournament. And every fight was won after taking a beating first while she figured out her opponent's style and tricks, it was never a Curb-Stomp Battle.
Utena, Utena, Utena... lost only one duel, and it was because she froze up. She defeats him in the very next one. While it's more justified in the case of the Black Rose duels, as the fighters are not experienced (and, on a philosophical level, fighting with their emotional rage rather than the well-formed reasons the regular duelists have), seeing her win against Juri for their first duel is positively infuriating (as Juri is about to strike, Utena's knocked-away sword falls straight through the air out of nowhere and rips off Juri's rose).
Utena's victory over Juri is actually far more justified than any other fight - Juri's main motivation is that she wants to experience a "miracle", but has stopped believing in them. Utena's improbable victory was, essentially, a miracle.
On an emotional level, it gets even worse because Utena berates the student council (and a few of those that would become Black Rose duelists) for their emotional issues, yet it's clear that she has some herself. However, she never grows out of her "I want to be a prince that saves princesses" attitude through the entire series, even after The Reveal about Anthy being incredibly passive-aggressive towards everyone. Anthy is mixed with many emotional conflicts, namely the choice to be free in a world that berated her or be stuck in a horrific relationship in a cozy environment - Utena does not see through any of that, and cannot comprehend why Anthy (and the others for that matter) have such emotional reserves. Mikage holds true that she is like him, and unlike her, he admits it.
Noir has its leading ladies usually come out on top, often with ridiculous ease, but considering that they're assassins the other option would end the series. There are a few exceptions, and they do get close a few times: Mirielle nearly dies in the first episode and only survives thanks to Kirika showing up, and Kirika herself gets seriously wounded in an early episode because of a stupid mistake.
Kazuma Azuma is completely stuck in this trope. Despite constantly being sabotaged in the Monaco Cup and being given the "worst possible opponent" over and over again in Yakitate 25, the worst he does is tie, or have his bread judged lower than someone in a different bracket.
Didn't he lose against Miki Norihei in the Yakitate 25 in a seaweed bread contest?
This is actually addressed in-story in Bamboo Blade. Tamaki Kawazoe, or Tama-chan, is a kendo prodigy capable of defeating adults. One character in the series remarks that he thinks Tama should lose a bout, and not to an adult but to a girl her own age. He feels losing to an equal can teach things that no victory can. Ishida-sensei starts trying to get the team into tougher and tougher bouts in part to give Tama a chance to face others of her own level.
Once she does lose to a superior opponent, she does not know how to handle it at all, having never lost before. Unfortunately, the anime at least ends before it properly tackles the consequences of this, but we're given a fair impression that it is an issue that will be dealt with.
Hades Project Zeorymer takes this about as far as it can go. The machine itself is ridiculously fast and can teleport, plus it's armored enough that it can shrug off nuclear weapons without even being at half power. And the few times it's seriously damaged in the manga, it just teleports in replacement parts from a parallel dimension. It doesn't help that the pilot has an Omniscient Morality License and never gets any real comeuppance for all the crap he pulls.
In fact, the only thing stopping the Zeorymer from owning everything within a 100-mile-radius in two seconds is its pilot being a total wuss until his evil side takes over. So how powerful exactly 'is' this monstrosity? Powerful enough to allow it to single-handedly beat the Super Robot Wars games it appears in ALONE. This is in a game (MX) that has Neon Genesis Evangelion, Machine Robo and Rahxephon, by the way.
Saki and Nodoka from Saki both lose ONE time, and against the same opponent, in the same game too.
From Hareluya II Boy, we have Hibino Hareluya, who has yet to even be pushed into being serious during a fight. Manages to not be boring because he's hilarious.
Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass is a perspective flipped version of this trope. He's always able to take down the "bad guys" with his Super PrototypeKnightmare Frame, and always foils Lelouch's plans—but Lelouch is the protagonist. Invoked by the Camelot research team, who name the afore-mentioned Super Prototypethe "Lancelot". Played very straight toward the end when he and Lelouch end up on the same side and he effortlessly defeats the most powerful knight in the series, even after he reveals his future-reading superpower.
Subverted again when Suzaku barely loses to Kallen in their final battle, though he survives and he might have thrown the fight, given that Lelouch's Thanatos Gambit also relied on the world thinkingSuzaku was dead.
Golgo 13 never fails an assignment, or for that matter misses a shot. If he did, he'd lose his reputation as an assassin and there would be no series. Later chapters solve the problem by focusing more on the people who hire him and how their situations deteriorate to the point that they need to bring in a hitman. (Infamously, he doesn't appear in one story at all; the central character merely uses Golgo 13's reputation as a weapon.) The fact that the stories are standalone and bounce around time help in this regard. For completeness' sake, there have been several occasions of him missing, at least once by weapons sabotage creating a misfire, and one complete miss caused by the target's allegedly psychic bodyguard.
Similar to the Golgo 13 example, and the Alucard example, he has reached the level of plot device. The story hinges on the growth and changes of the people surrounding him, and whether it will be a Bittersweet Ending, or a Downer Ending, or a Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is invincible. But since the show and character are both crazy, it's played for laughs and not to be taken very seriously. He does have weaknesses and gets hurt a few times, but never seriously enough to matter. Except during the final battle of the original series, but even then he eventually recovers.
In Sonic X, Sonic the Hedgehog leans into this territory on occasion. He is often presented with a cocky, unphasable Bugs Bunny-esque attitude, treating his often effortless victories against Dr.Eggman as little more than a game.
Subverted in Mushishi. On the one hand, the protagonist, Ginko, always seems to identify the mushi at work in a particular episode with astonishing speed and accuracy, which would fit this trope; however, this doesn't always guarantee a completely happy ending, as other factors, such as his arriving too late, the patients not following his instructions or there simply being nothing to be done in the first place, frequently get in the way of this.
The trope is also somewhat justified in that Ginko is shown to do a lot of research into mushi in his time, probably more than most others in his trade; however, his young age might count against him in this (particularly in the manga, where he seems barely out his teens; the anime places him more in his late twenties or thirties).
Notice that while Yang does win almost any battle as long as he's involved, it's often mentioned and hinted that he'll still lose in some areas. For example, while he nearly kills Reinhard during Battle of Vermillion, Mittermeyer captures Alliance's capital, forcing Yang's fleet to ceasefire. In two other battles he wins over the Empire, capturing back Iserlohn Fortress, but he lost Bucock and Fischer, one being his father figure, and another the "heart" of his fleet. It's even notified that Yang won't stand a chance if Reinhard attacks again after Fischer is killed.
Reinhard, on the other hand, is also considered as Invincible from the beginning of the story to the point that he effectively ends the whole war and unifies the universe half way through the story, but interestingly he'll always feel that his victory isn't complete when Yang is there to disrupt him from getting a total victory. The only real time he gets a crushing defeat is the Battle for the Corridor where he lost two top admirals to Yang's ragtag fleet.
A lot of people complain about this for Ichigo in Bleach; Ichigo has won/tied many of his fights through luck or gaining a new ability, like the use of his Bankai and his mask. If the battle goes badly for him, his inner Hollow takes control and wins the fight for him. How true this is could go either way.
Ichigo is an odd case because he actually has gotten his ass kicked quite a few times. But because so many of his victories have come from last minutesaves, a lot of fans still think he's overpowered.
Ichigo is actually something of an invoked case of Strong as They Need to Be, as it's confirmed in-universe that his power tends to fluctuate wildly between "able to beat Captain-level Shinigami" to "gets his ass kicked by a mook."
Casshern of Casshern Sins, a rare case where it's Played for Drama. Casshern is both immortal and overpowered. He has no choice but to watch everyone around him die, and even when he tries to let someone else win in a fight, it never works out because his berserker mode tends to trigger against his will, leaving an increasing body count on his hands.
Saitama of One Punch Man is a deconstruction of this trope. He is absolutely invincible to absolutely everything, and the ability to defeat anything with one punch sets him as the most powerful hero. As a result, he no longer finds any excitement in villain fights, and hopes for an opponent who can challenge him.
The Hero in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is a level 99 Dragon Quest protagonist, and is practically unbeatable in combat. However, this level of power makes him feel apart from humanity. He and the Demon Queen are trying to find a way to save the world peacefully.
Lampshaded in a comic where he competes against another super-hero character who is dying because of a method he used to rejuvenate himself. Superman's friends point out this strange energy and Superman reveals what he has learned. Because his opponent cheated, said opponent technically loses, making Superman tearfully remark "When you're Superman, what's one more victory?"
I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC uses this quite well to actually make Superman relatable again. He's constantly lamenting how no one seems to care about him anymore, having moved on to the more fallible and relatable characters in Marvel's comics, and is frozen by self-doubt when Lex Luthor's newest scheme wipes out every other superhero in the world. He's finally able to win with the realization that all of those other heroes are relatable because they're all doing the same thing we all are, trying to be more like Superman. (Made slightly humorous/heartwarming in that it is Stan Lee that points this out to him.)
Also prominent early in Morrison's JLA run where Superman briefly muses that he isn't sure if he lives up to his legend. Pages later he restores the Moon's orbit by giving it magnetic poles. Later still, while he's battling the archangel Azmodel:
The Flash (Wally): This is the man who said he couldn't live up to his legend . . . he's wrestling an angel.
And all this while the League is dealing with the actual Big Bad. He got Superman out of the way as the writers often have to do in League stories, but gave him cool stuff to do.
How To Write Superman Well is summed-up in one word in the aforementioned angel-wrestling scene:
Speaking of supporting characters, one of the reasons (non-Silver Age) Superman usually isn't described as a Canon Sue is from the focus of the tension being more on danger to other people rather than danger to Superman. While Superman himself is near-invulnerable, saving loads of people at once is usually made extremely difficult, making the readers concerned about the people Superman can't save and its emotional effect on him.
Long story short, Superman's biggest problem is Depending on the Writer. Some people just don't know how to write him, so he comes across as dull and overpowered.
Joss Whedon talked about the difficulties of WB putting together a JLA movie versus his own massive success with The Avengers. He pointed out that the Avengers are easier to write and film since they all either have relatable problems or are weak enough to write action scenes for, while comparatively, characters like Superman and Wonder Woman are seen as "gods" without many flaws. Add in other powerhouse characters like Green Lantern and The Flash, and it becomes very difficult to write convincing threats for the group in a cinematic setting.
Much like Superman, Batman is memetically thought of as this. While he suffers several personal losses, in the public's eyes he rarely loses battles. What? He's Crazy-Prepared and a master of the Batman Gambit!
Batman is only invincible half the time. His Crazy-Prepared skills obviously only work in situations he's planned for, so if he meets a new rogue or an old one with a new trick, he will typically lose the initial encounter: the villain will get away scot-free and Batman will get his ass soundly beaten. After escaping and researching the new foe, however, he will always win round two. In fact, the bit about him planning perfectly for every situation is mostly Memetic Mutation - most of his victories in the comics come from going into situations technically outmatched but having enough general knowledge to make up a plan on the spot, and getting general knowledge about the situation often involves not making any headway or being straight up defeated until he finds what he needs to know.
Batman is invincible, not always victorious. He often loses, or fails to catch the villain. War Games, Under the Red Hood, Death in the Family are costly losses, the Killing Joke is a Pyrrhic unresolved.
Batman exemplifies this trope in Justice League of America. He has to, since he wouldn't survive his first mistake against a JLA-class menace.
Somewhat averted in The Dark Knight Returns. The first time Batman fights the leader of the mutants, he gets whomped by the guy. As the series progresses, he gets more and more injured. By the end, he even dies... temporarily.
It must be mentioned that this is the entire point of Squirrel Girl. She is a displaced Silver Age comic hero - meaning that no matter how insane, ludicrous, or absolutely useless her power appears to be, she will always win. Always. Silver Age heroes all fit this trope - ridiculous 'powers', immaculate track records. Case in point - the Red Bee. Not even a Badass Normal, just some dude in a stupid costume who had a pet bee. That was his entire schtick. No matter what he was up against, he would always win. Period.
And you always know he isn't going to win against Magneto, who nearly killed him at least once.
Lampshaded in Robert Kirkman's "Brit" comics. The hero's one power is that he's invincible. What makes him not-boring is his personality and the stuff happening around him. That, and the fact that everyone ELSE isn't invincible.
Similarly, Kirkman's character "Invincible", from the same-titled comic, has a main character who's the most powerful person on Earth, because he's the son of that comic universe's answer to Superman (well, sorta). And indeed, he IS pretty invincible... Until his dad beats him nearly to death. While he remains impossible to hurt for most, there're plenty of critters out there more than powerful enough to kill him.
In Lucky Luke, this is very much how Luke evolved in the series... An example of Tropes Are Not Bad: Morris and René Goscinny used this to their advantages, by making the villains (especially the Dalton Cousins) the driving force of many stories. The fun is not watching how Luke will win, but how the villains will lose (and, in the Dalton's case, how will Averell and Joe's interactions ultimately doom Joe's plans).
Tintin in the eponymous comic series. Hergé, the author, was so aware of this trope that he grew uninterested in his lead character and began focusing more on sidekick Captain Haddock halfway through the series.
This trope is often held to be the reason X Man got canceled. By the end, the title character was leaps and bounds ahead of every other telepath and telekinetic in the Marvel Universe, and capable of defeating the strongest foes with a thought. He was killed off in the final issue, and when he came back, as comic characters are wont to do, the writers made note to depower him down to "regular" telekinesis and telepathy.
Herbie Popnecker is this trope taken to its logical extreme. He doesn't look it, but he's quite possibly the most powerful character in all of comicdom. His superpower is mainly "being able to do whatever would be most convenient at the time," whether that be time travel, hypnosis, walking on air...
Captain Marvel, especially during the Golden Age. With having no discernible limits on his strength, speed and invincibility, and only a handful of short-lived opponents able to challenge him in a fight, most stories were about trying to defeat him psychologically or contriving to trap him before he could change to his super-powered form.
This trope is one of the many reasons why Mary Sues are hated. When the character is so awesome, losing is not an option.
Rose Potter from The Girl Who Lived is this. Who cares about all the truths about love, family, friendship, and sacrifice learned over five years of suffering, when "Harry" now has magical druidess powers that make him ten times more powerful than Voldemort could ever be? Critics have noted that Rose has to be handed an Idiot Ball not to just finish off the bad guys outright.
An amazing subversion comes in the plot of a Touhou doujin Koamakyou by Tohonifun. The protagonist for the games is shown fighting through the bosses of one of the games brutally; violently impaling the first to the ground, angrily mocking the second's attempts to fight, simply ignoring the third, and fighting the fourth and fifth at the same time. At the end of the battle with the fourth and fifth, the fifth stabs her in the back, ignoring the rules of the games... and the protagonist turns around completely unharmed. Turns out, she's pissed off because she completely personifies this trope: as the lead of the series, she can't lose. Ever. In anything. In a world where the best way to pass time is the joy of fighting, and you can never conceivably lose a battle...
The Firefly fanfic Forward deliberately averts this with River. The author has stated that he dislikes fanfics that turn River into a solve-everything "easy button" who casually defeats most enemies, and instead portrays River as a Fragile Speedster and Glass Cannon who has managed to get badly beaten when taking on overwhelming odds. One fight actually ended with River getting shot, her back wrenched, and a leg broken.
Invoked in an interesting way in Akatsuki Kitten: Phoenix Corporation Overhaul. There are eleven characters like this... and all of them work directly for the author. She admits to designing them with God Mode Sues in mind. They are meant to be the most powerful beings possible, so that they can "set the story up" for her to write it. Surprisingly, the characters are still fairly popular when they aren't the Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Even then, the author takes into account complaints about them being shown too often and shunts them out of view in favor of canon for a few chapters.
Equilibrium:Word Of God is that Wimmer made Preston a "god of death" because he always imagined his heroes that way.
Ultraviolet has a similar hero. Violet, a super-powerful "hemophage," can defeat mere humans without any effort. When she is confronted by a mob of fellow superhuman hemophage bad-asses, she cuts every single one of their heads off with a single swing.
A prime example: The main hero of the Japanese movie (and MST3K episode) Prince of Space, whose invincibility depends largely on his ability to repel energy weapons (as well as his ability to choose really pathetic enemies.) "Your weapons are useless against me!" becomes something of a Catchphrase for the hero, who uses it no less than seven times during the course of the movie. Interestingly, this line was added by the English dubbing. In the original Japanese film, The Prince is not invulnerable, which is why he occasionally dodges laser fire.
Any character played by Steven Seagal, who destroys all his enemies with insulting and sadistic ease. Enemies spend a good deal of their time talking about how much of a badass Seagal's characters are. This is all a result of Seagal's creative input. He says his characters are "born perfect," making them God Mode Sues. One partial exception comes in Executive Decision, when Seagal pulls a Heroic Sacrifice himself after a boarding action goes bad ("partial," because Seagal spent so much time crying in his dressing room about it, that they had to change the scene to make his death "less certain—" despite that he's sucked out of a moving jet at 30,000 feet... without a parachute). Another exception comes from the film Machete, where he dies, but still manages to no-sell a machete in the gut for a couple of minutes before finishing himself off.
The title character of Ip ManCurb Stomps all his enemies, but the choreography is tight enough to minimise eliminate boredom. More likely a Showy Invincible Hero. Subverted in the sequel, where the Twister actually knocks him down several times and the final victory is very much hard-won.
While Ip mows through everyone else in the first film the Big Bad, while outclassed by Ip, does manage to hold his own for at least half of the final fight, get in a few licks of his own and comes close to winning by Ring Out a couple of times.
Spoofed in Rustlers' Rhapsody, a western-parody starring Tom Berenger. The hero repeatedly lampshades the fact that he's defeated the villains in countless frontier towns without much effort, and always will, because he's the good guy. The villains in this particular town get Genre Savvy and hire another "good guy" to fight him, presenting him with his first-ever challenge.
'Bone' in Blood and Bone, even more than most of the heroes on this page. The only reason an opponent ever gets in a hit that actually leaves a mark is so he can get patched up by his Sassy Black Woman landlady and give her a Tai Chi lesson. It doesn't matter how many opponents he has, or what weapons they have, he pwns them. At least the other examples lose a fight or at least look like they might at times. Not Bone.
Rocky Balboa has an in-world example. The fight between the nearly 60-year-old Rocky and current champ Mason Dixon is set up because Dixon's undefeated streak is making the sport boring.
Neo of The Matrix grows so strong by the end of the 1st movie that when he fights three enhanced Agents alone in the 2nd film, he casually quips "Huh, upgrades" when one of them blocks an attack. The only bad guy who is capable of taking him on equal terms is Smith, who can Zerg Rush Neo with hundreds of copies of himself (and later with a powerful copy of himself that's absorbed the Oracle's powers.)
The Adventures Of Captain Marvel has the title character being the only person with superpowers in the serial, and being Nigh Invulnerable to boot. Surprisingly however, this trope is averted, despite Captain Marvel being immune to bullets, blades and other common types of attacks. Throughout the serial, sufficiently advanced technology is shown to be able to harm him enough to knock him out, and he's placed in situations where its stated that even his invulnerability might not be enough to protect him, such as a death trap involving molten lava.
Captain Amazing in Mystery Men is introduced with a long history of this due to his perfect win record. World-class super powers, a wealthy Secret Identity, photogenic charisma, and the connections to arrange release of his nemesis in order to keep merchandise interest up. Unfortunately he's Wrong Genre Savvy, and is not the protagonist of this story.
Thor, except when depowered by Odin or refusing to fight his brother, it's pretty obvious that nothing can threaten him.
Interestingly, averted in The Avengers, even though he's just as powerful. Having to fight people at his same power level, or wave upon countless wave of enemies during the final battle (to the point he's visibly exhausted), takes away most of the problem.
This was one of the criticisms of The Chronicles of Riddick. In Pitch Black, Riddick was a lot more human but in the sequel, Riddick is suddenly turned into the smartest, strongest, and most skilled person in the movie. Not a single opponent lands a clean hit on him until his climactic fight with the Big Bad.
In The Warrior's Way, the hero Yang defeats every enemy with a single swing, never getting so much as a scratch. In the very beginning, he defeats the "best swordsman in the world... ever" effortlessly.
Largo: Do you lose as gracefully as you win? James Bond: I don't know, I've never lost.
Selene from Underworld is this in spades, starting out as invincible to begin with and even being more powerful than her boyfriend, who was supposed to be the most powerful creature of all time once he became a hybrid, and ends up being little more than her attack dog. Then it snowballs from there when she gets an upgrade in the second film and is made immune to sunlight and possibly to all other vampire weaknesses. In the fourth film this is taken to ridiculous levels and her daughter is just as bad. By the fourth film Vampires pretty much consider her a God. What makes it worse is that in the Underworld series the older you are, the more powerful you are. Despite what should be a massive gap in power, she succeeds in killing The FIRST VAMPIRE in the second film, who himself became a hybrid and as such should be able to beat down everyone in the cast with ease. She never takes more than one two two hits per film— and even then only because the plot demands that she has to in order to keep the movie from more or less dying midway through— and even then just shrugs them off like they were nothing.
Andrew Wiggin from Ender's Game gets banished from Earth for being one of these.
Although he only ever actually got into three actual direct fights (and Mazer gave him a pretty good whomping). Physically he's not really that tough. Mentally however, you give him an army, you WILL win every battle.
"It doesn't matter how bad they stack the odds, if you're on the other side no fight will ever be fair."
Honor Harrington plays with this trope. In earlier novels the ultimate victories are Honor's. She wins at great costs to her crew and ship, but always does the major turning in the end. However, as Haven becomes better characterized, she often just survives Pyrrhic Victories. Until she ultimately spends a year in a POW camp.
Ultimately the original storyline was to kill Honor in 'At All Costs' to fulfill her role as Horatio Nelson In SPACE!, which would have resulted in the second trope.
Subverted in the later books. It's true that Pendergast never loses when he's on the offensive, but cracks and fails badly when he himself, and those he loves and protects, are the ones attacked. The price of Pendergast's intensive training and discipline to obtain his Bad Ass abilities is also explored in depth.
Peekay, the main character of The Power Of One, doesn't lose a single boxing match in the entire book. He does Handwaved this at one point by noting that with such a wide range of opponents in South Africa, it wasn't unusual for someone to go 40-0 at the Junior level, but he's also something of a Determinator anyway.
Any book by Raymond E. Feist, of Krondor fame. While the characters have their fair share of misery, the definition of such people as Jimmy the Hand, Mara Acoma, and Roo Avery is that they always succeed at everything they put their minds to.
Also, many books by Piers Anthony, in particular the Apprentice Adept series. The books revolve around contests in a wide variety of games, styles, and arenas, and the protagonist Stile always wins every single one of them. Except one that is simply a dice roll of pure luck with no skill involved, which is so briefly described and swept under the rug that it's easy to miss.
Well, its a double-elimination tournament, so there's no way the story can have him end as champion except by having him win every single round but one. You are correct in that his one loss in the Games was deliberately scripted to be in no way his fault, ever, it was just pure random chance.
Also, Stile has been training for at least ten years for this exact tournament, as well as for the Metagame (the game which picks which game is played in each round). He (and other serious competitors) are rarely the Olympic-caliber equivalent at anything, and do in fact have weak areas, but can deflect attempts to exploit those into a "nearby" strength. And there's a good amount of unspoken mutual agreement between the more sportsmanlike people to have "honorable tests", as well.
This is Lampshaded to a degree once he becomes a noble. The other nobles have noticed that he never loses anything and start taking bets on who can make him lose first. The winner's victory, however, is short lived, as Stile only lost the bet because he bet another noble (a much larger amount) that somebody would tamper with the last bet to force him to lose.
A metric tonne of implied (and sometimes more than implied) behind the scenes Chessmastering by the Game computer, the other Self-Aware Robots, and the original Blue Adept, among others, are also involved, matching Stile deliberately with opponents he was likeliest to beat, putting him in fields where he excelled, etc.
Feric Jaggar, hero of The Iron Dream, never loses at anything, ever. The pace of the plot is determined primarily by how fast he can swing the "Steel Commander". This is intentional; it's part of the book's Stylistic Suck.
This seems present in Harry Potter, but only so far as Quidditch goes. The Gryffindor team is the "good" team which never loses so long as Harry is playing — the only losses he experiences are ones where he's knocked out or isn't playing at all, because Harry's quidditch skill is so good that no one else can ever rightfully win against him. It's also played straight in that the Slytherins, in Harry's view at least (and most other characters as well, it seems, like Luna, Lee, etc.) seem to cheat gratuitously in every match against Gryffindor, because there is no possible way that any team (including Slytherin) could win against Harry's Gryffindor if they played fairly. While this trope doesn't extend to the rest of the Harry Potter series, this is one example where it seems to hold true every time.
The heroes of any given chivalric romance. Amadis of Gaul and Sir Tristram are particular offenders. Somewhat inverted with Orlando furioso, though, as Orlando eventually turns into The Incredible Hulk because Angelica does not love him, and slaughters hundreds of innocents.
Roland, from The Song of Roland. Although he has to die in order to be the Doomed Moral Victor (and because the actual Roland died in that battle), most of his wounds are somewhat self-inflicted things, like when his temples explode because he's blowing so damn hard on that horn in order to warn Charlemagne's army. Also he keeps fighting even when his brains are running out his ears and onto his army.
Arguably, becoming this is an integral part of Leto's plan to rid humanity of its desire for messianic figures and leaders, by becoming the most insanely powerful dictator ever. Being invincible means the resistance will have to push so much harder and will be forced to evolve far beyond what they would've otherwise achieved.
Some book reviewer once commented that the protagonists of Robert A. Heinlein's later novels never have problems, "only transient difficulties."
Any protagonist from a James Byron Huggins novel. All of them (with the exception of Longinus in Nightbringer) are Badass Normals who no matter what they are facing — superhuman nephilim (Nightbringer), a genetically-engineered government-built dragon (Leviathan), squads of highly-trained Mooks (The Reckoning), prehistoric Hulk analogs (Hunter), or an ancient Egyptian sorcerer (Sorcerer) — they will always contemptuously beat them.
Richard Rahl from The Sword Of Truth flirts with this trope. Every book, he spends his time working himself into a more and more impossible situation, only to casually brush it aside at the climax.
Deacon Chalk of the book Blood and Bullets. He has more preparedness than Batman and can slay vampires better than Buffy and Blade combined even though he is a completely vanilla human. He also apparently lives in the same world as the Winchester boys and Anita Blake, despite them being completely different continuums. It reads like not so good fanfiction despite the fact that it's a published novel.
Matthew Sobol's Daemon from Daniel Suarez' books skirts this trope closely in the first book because of the incredibly complicated Gambit Roulette Sobol puts into place that apparently comes off without a hitch. It's justified by the fact that Sobol put lots and lots of redundancy and backup plans into the system, but that shifts the Invincible Hero status to Sobol. Although he is an Invincible Villain in this case. Or is he? However, there is still enough risk and danger to the plan from all sides to prevent it from ever being boring. The sequel Freedom(tm) ramps up the action to put serious question into the Invincible part as well.
Not a person, but a whole organization: The Service in James Blish's The Quincunx of Time. As the prologue points out:
The press was free... Yet there had been nothing to report but that: (a) an armada of staggering size had erupted with no real warning from the Black Horse Nebula; and (b) the Service had been ready.note With three times as many ships as the enemy armada, perfectly positioned to enfilade it as soon as it broke from cover. By now, it was commonplace that the Service was always ready. It had not had a defect or a failure in well over two centuries.
Subverted in The Most Popular Book in the World, a Twilight parody. The author killed off certain characters whose counterparts in Twilight do not die (including Candy and Hector 2.0) because she found it unrealistic in the original books that vicious battles are fought against the Volturi and yet no one on the heroes' side is killed.
Pick a pulp novel hero. Any pulp novel hero from the 1930s whether it be Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, John Carter of Mars, or Tarzan. They will be far superior to any other human (even those of their own group), irresistibly attractive to females, and the best warrior that ever lived, requiring dozens of other warriors to even stand a chance; and usually a brilliant intellectual. Some writers knew this might be boring so they toned down one of these aspects or got rid of it all together. Other times they were able to make the rest of the story interesting enough that it didn't matter.
John Carter, at least, is occasionally shown as having some doubts about his ability to get out of his latest scrap... though to return to the "invincible" theme, often he's not actually worried about losing, he's just concerned that he may not be able to win fast enough to prevent some other event that's happening at the same time (often, Dejah Thoris being kidnapped). If it's less than 90% of the way through the book, he probably won't win fast enough.
Although also a subversion since he's far from a 'hero', and creates almost as many problems for Xuanzang and the other monks as he solves, either directly or indirectly. He fits this trope better in the early chapters where he's the central protagonist, but it's so much fun to read that he's more of a Showy Invincible Hero; and it's again subverted in that he does eventually lose, twice: once to Erlang Shen and the other gods, then again to the Buddha. Plus, once the journey begins he almost never defeats an enemy in battle, instead relying on trickery or getting help from one of the gods.
The City Watch of the Discworld books has been threating to turn into a collective version of this for some time: the Watch is now so large, powerful and influential - many of its personnel are serious Badasses in their own right - that very few plausible threats are much of a threat to it anymore. Noticeably since Jingo most storylines have involved either actual wars or separating Sam Vimes and the other main characters from their vast resources via distance (Snuff) or time (Night Watch) with the bulk of the Watch functioning as The Cavalry.
In Snuff, Sam Vimes himself has become this, in the eyes of many long-time Discworld fans. In the course of the book, he is never once seriously tested or takes a wrong turn, he has all life's problems sorted out, and, like Peter Parker, he has had the bite from the radioactive spider, so to speak, that confers a superpower on him. And this is worrying.
In the Discworld series as a whole, Vetinari's plans never fail. Never. If Vetinari is involved with the main character of the book in some way, their schemes will turn out successful (even if not in the way the main character expects).
Berserker's Planet features a gladiatorial tournament. One of the contestants claims that he 'has never met a man who could stand against him'. Subverted in that, as one of the more intelligent contestants points out, this being the culmination of a series of to-the-death duels that's true for all the survivors; even those that got killed in the previous rounds must have been undefeated up to that point.
Roran from Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle is the perfect example of this trope. Despite being a farm boy at the start of the series, and never once going through any kind of training (in either tactics or combat), he picks up a hammer in the second book and becomes an instant He-man who is able to defeat almost 200 men by himself in a single confrontation. He never once loses a fight and his daring military plans eventually culminate in him winning the entire war for the rebels, again despite a complete lack of any kind of battle experience whatsoever.
Live Action TV
MacGyver. Earlier seasons were still able to portray him as fairly interesting in spite of his contractual invincibility (if often through Diabolus ex Machina), but after the writers finished turning him into a full-fledged Fixer Sue, it got to a point where it was almost subversive to not have an improvised gadget work to full effect (it would still remedy the situation regardless...).
This is explicitly discussed in Boston Legal's usual Meta way, when Alan gets worried that the lawyers of their firm are winning too much, making their cases less exciting.
Michael Westen in the early seasons of Burn Notice, at least in regards to his non-spy Villains Of The Week. His skills and resourcefulness so vastly outclass his opponents that there simply is no dramatic tension. It's a measure of Mike's usual invincibility that the most effective scene in the series showed him nearly whimpering in the face of one more, notably galling injustice. Michael's more serious opponents put up a better fight, and "beat" him several times. In later seasons, Michael is less invincible, as his plans often hit a major bump halfway through (often because the client does something stupid) that leaves him racing to regain control of the situation.
Michael's invincibility was lampshadedhilariously by a member of a Russian assassination squad in Season 4's "Past and Future Tense"
Also subverted in the very first episode, where Westen's beaten badly enough that he has bruises for days after, which he shows to a client to point out that no amount of training renders you immune to an ass-kicking.
The trope isn't played perfectly straight in the first season. In one episode, Michael has to take on a bounty hunter who is noticeably larger than he. In the commentary, the show's creator and Michael's actor say they wanted to put him in a fight he simply couldn't win. He doesn't.
Eliot Spencer in Leverage. As the group's muscle, he is unstoppable. The bar for his abilities was set high in the show's pilot, as he enters a room full of armed mobsters and defeats them all in a matter of seconds. From this point on, anyone he faces is doomed. The fact that he works completely unarmed only adds to this trope.
Then he is forced to use guns in a season finale, at which point he obliterates a roomful of trained mercenaries without a scratch on him. Just because he doesn't like guns doesn't mean he can't use them.
An episode in the first season has him getting beat up by one of Sterling's men, despite surprising the guy. Then it turns out Spencer was either pretending or just had an off day, when he comes back and pummels the guy.
Subverted in "The Two Live Crew Job", where it's heavily implied that his ex-Mossad opponent is clearly his superior. CueSlap-Slap-Kiss.
Sportacus from Lazytown. He has no character flaws, never fails at anything he tries and is hero-worshiped by everyone (except Robbie Rotten). The only thing that keeps him from being a Mary Sue is that he's as naive as everyone else in the show (except, again, Robbie) to the point where it becomes Adorkable.
Has come close to killing Survivor a few times. Often, one tribe comes into the merge so down on numbers that the members only have a shot at winning if the other tribe breaks. More recent seasons have added extra means of immunity to counteract this.
Boston Rob Mariano. By now has overtaken Russell Hantz as the Creator's Pet, and getting his own Survivor season to himself with the dumbest cast since Samoa. And given that the players in Samoa made stupid move after stupid move, that's saying a lot!
Shawn Spencer in Psych; others might one up him once or twice an episode but it's always Shawn (except maybe for A Day in the Limelight episodes) who makes the final break and solves the case. He's so damn smug about it, you find yourself wishing he'd lose in his own arena at least once.
Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamura in Heroes. Peter could gain any other superhero's ability simply by standing near them. Hiro could stop time, teleport, and travel through time, making him nearly impossible to defeat in battle. However, the problem with these heroes was that they were given too many opportunities to solve all the problems of the plot too quickly. This meant that they had to clutch an Idiot Ball in order to keep the plot moving, leading to many Kill Him Already moments among fans. Even the writers realized this and had both characters significantly weakened for a time.
Subverted by Farscape - the heroes are all on the losing side all the time. Even their wins can't be considered as wins, more of a just-barely-managed-to-stay-alive-one-more-day situation. It's so bad that you might actually get pissed at the show for constantly making them lose.
Patrick Jane from The Mentalist fits this archetype very well. It doesn't matter what manner of outlandish or dickish moves or claims he pulls, he will always be justified in doing them, even if if there would be no reason to do so beforehand. He always wins. A fine example of this is the fourth season premiere, where he manages to drum up a million dollars by himself for bail, while in jail, and manages to get away with murdering a man who had never been investigated prior, by convincing the jury that the man was his arch nemesis, when in reality he wasn't.
Souji Tendou, the titular Kamen Rider Kabuto. He effortlessly defeats every single challenge that comes his way, and any exceptions are either Played for Laughs (such as his obsession with winning a scratchcard game) or because he let the other person win. It got so bad that the show had to introduce an Evil Twin just to give him an adequate challenge, and with that it only took a few episodes for him to overcome it. Of course, his awareness of his utter invincibility is one of the aspects of Tendou's character. Kamen Rider Kiva, on the other hand... has no real excuse once he gets Emperor Form.
Parodied in a sketch of The Mitchell and Webb Look, in which a hero who can summon an army of angels teams up with a hero who can ride a BMX bike really well. The BMX hero keeps suggesting clever ways to fight the villains with his BMX bike, but the other hero keeps pointing out that simply summoning an army of angels would solve all their problems.
Hjältekväde ("Hero's song") is a popular song at swedish SCA gatherings, about the noble duke Caspian (no relation to the Narnia guy) who leads his army to fight the enemy. Except he dies in the seventh verse from a stray arrow. But since the song is (jokingly intended to be) commissioned by "the duke" (maybe a successor or relative, maybe Caspian himself), the songwriter amends this by having a goose land on his head and take the arrow. As the song continues, the hero gets killed in several un-heroic but fairly realistic ways (he gets stabbed by a spearman from behind, crushed by a panicking horse, and butchered by the more skilled enemy leader) and hastily saved by various contrivances (he's carrying a sack of potatoes on his back for explicitly no reason at all, the horse falls in love with a passing moose, and he wins the duel with no description at all). The song continues to sing about how dull it is to have the hero win all the time and never let him even take a scratch, but assures the listeners that when real nobles go out to fight, they're just as vulnerable as anyone else...
Lampshaded and parodied by Blues Traveler in their song "Run-Around": "Like a bad play where the heroes are right/And nobody thinks or expects too much/Hollywood's callin' for the movie rights/Sayin' hey babe, let's keep in touch"
God-Man in the Tom The Dancing Bug strip by Ruben Bolling is this, taken to the ultimate conclusion. God-Man is omnipotent and omniscient and foils supervillain schemes by casually rearranging the universe. The character is mostly used to criticizes organized religion rather than ridiculous comic-book tropes, but there is a large overlap.
At a panel discussion/writer's workshop summarized here, Timothy Zahn, writer of The Thrawn Trilogy, called this trope "Superman Syndrome", where characters were so powerful that there were few challenges for them; he mentioned that a lot of Star Wars Expanded Universe writers have done that with the Jedi, elevating their powers so far beyond what we saw in the movies. He considers it boring, because who could ever really challenge or defeat such characters? Characters had to genuinely surmount whatever difficulties that might create, not use a deus ex machina to escape.
An excellent example of his addressing this, specifically with respect to Star Wars, can be seen in the Hand Of Thrawn duology, with Luke Skywalker finally learning a lesson that it took him from all the way back in The Empire Strikes Back (when he rushed off headlong to save his friends) to learn: the Force can guide a Jedi's actions, if they let it. He needed to let go of the torrent of raw power to hear, essentially, the wisdom of the Force. In doing so, he had to trust that his friends and family could handle themselves without him, as he knew they could, and to trust in his own abilities and his own path (the specific catalyst being to head to the one place where he saw a vision of himself, not just of others). It worked out pretty damn well. (This was promptly discarded by future writers, who went back to the style of superweapons and insane power for good and evil alike.)
This is subverted in Knights of the Old Republic. If you talk to Jolee Bindo, he will tell you about his friend with great Destiny, Andor Vex. He was monumentally strong in the Force, and was prophesied to have a great destiny, which would change the face of the galaxy for centuries. He was captured by a marauding Warlord, and when approached, decided to rely on his reputation and perceived importance to history. This pissed off the warlord, who threw him down a reactor core ventilation shaft. His body hit something sensitive, causing the ship to be destroyed, along with the warlord, freeing the sector from his iron grip. So... yeah, destiny!
To make it even better, Jolee Bindo does not relate the story as a piece of somber wisdom but as a hilarious anecdote, laughing the entire time he's telling it. He already knows what the PC's "great destiny" that everyone keeps alluding to is as well, he just likes openly messing with people.
Triple H gets a lot of this, to the extent that reviewer guidelines for Smackdown Vs. RAW '09 explicitly forbade showing him in a "prone or defenseless position". Guess how that one went.
This is one of the main criticisms that John Cena receives, on multiple levels:
He's been pushed so heavily for so long that he almost never loses, and any loss is always accompanied by a mitigating factor (eg: outside interference, his opponent cheating, Cena tripped and fell, etc.) Furthermore, Cena simply does not care about any losses he incurs, always laughing them off, treating them as a fluke or simply showing up the next night with no injuries whatsoever. The intention was probably to promote good sportsmanship, but when you don't have consequences that characters actually care about then it sucks all the drama from the room.
In the ring itself, he's infamous for having four to five Heroic Second Winds per match at uneven intervals.
In fact, most of WWE's main event faces seem to have this aura of invincibility around them. Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker will lose cleanly once in a blue moon.
Hulk Hogan's actually a fairly interesting example here, as that same aura of invincibility that made him a god in the WWF bored WCW fans to tears (well, that, and the horrible storylines and god-awful gimmicks that surrounded him). Then they turned him heel, and he became more popular than he was since he left WWF. Then he greatly outstayed his welcome and the problems started again.
The Ultimate Warrior is the poster child of an "Invincible Hero." The Ultimate Warrior possessed an arsenal that consisted of clotheslines and shoulder blocks. He managed to beat the Honky Tonk Man in 31 seconds for the IC belt, beat Hulk Hogan for the world belt at the next Wrestlemania, and generally never lost a match unless severe interference was involved. He was eventually fired for extorting Vince McMahon for money. He was eventually rehired by Vince and made a return at Wrestlemania XII. He capped off his career in the WWF by completely no-selling Triple H's Pedigree and remaining undefeated until he was fired again.
Any match between a main eventer (face or heel) and someone lower down the card involving a potential world title change will inevitably involve this. Even if the lower-carder does manage to win, it's usually the result of a disqualification or countout (on which the title cannot change hands); if not, it's a non-title match, often for the lower-carder to "earn" a title shot. Like you would REALLY have Shelton Benjamin win the world title.
The ultimate professional wrestling example of this trope is Goldberg. He had a winning streak of 173 after his WCW debut, finally broken by Kevin Nash after Scott Hall shocked him with a taser. Although many, many fans didn't consider the streak boring at all.
Goldberg could still get outwitted by other wrestlers. And Bret Hart beat Goldberg several times after the streak was broken. And Goldberg lost some of his invincibility once he joined the WWF.
Can also apply to Heels holding championships with designated Face rivals.
Subverted by Pro Wrestling NOAH in the case of heavyweight champion Jun Akiyama vs. challenger Masao Inoue, a perennial heel midcarder who'd unexpectedly won a contender's tournament... since his inevitable doom was so "obvious" — Inoue could neither overpower, outsmart, nor out-wrestle Akiyama — that the match began with him immediately using his signature moves at the beginning and became a race to see if he could outheel his opponent in time, Inoue's "tricky" cheating heel ways against Akiyama's heel brutality...
Ryback, who in this character, has only lost four matches, and only two of which can technically be called "fair." First, a crooked ref low-blows him against CM Punk, then he's against The Shield, a group of three powerful guys, who even then will usually get beaten down by him without the element of surprise. His only "fair" losses were a six-man tag match teaming with Daniel Bryan and Kane, and another TLC match against CM Punk, where there are really no rules to be broken.
In most monotheistic religions, God is an omnipotent, invincible being who can do anything.
One of the calling cards of Catholicism is a larger focus on the Virgin Mary. It has been speculated that the reason is simple: many practitioners can relate more to the Virgin Mary than Jesus or God because of this trope.
Some codices don't take the Invincible Hero approach. Codex: Eldar shows that while they still have much strength in them, they are quite clearly sliding towards inevitable destruction. Codex: Dark Eldar is the same: the Dark Eldar are doomed.
The Ork logic goes something along these lines: "Orkz are never beaten in combat, if we win we win, if we die, we die fighting so that doesn't count and if we run away it's ok because we're always back for anotheranuvver go".
This is criticism that is very often leveled against Exalted, as the eponymous Exalted themselves are always portrayed by the system as completely indestructible übermensch that can outplan Batman, outdrink Tony Stark, outfight Everyone and survive any attack.
Until you grind down their Essence supplies. Most of the main-book Perfect Defenses can also be defeated by manipulating them into a position that exploits the virtue flaw you have to choose.
The fact that you have to be good at a mundane skill to have access to its super-powers means most characters (even NPCs) are going to be bad at something, just due to point allocation. The trick is finding a way to use it against them.
And for most Exalted, their Great Curse gives them a nice, exploitable weak point directly above their neck.
Also, there are thousands of Exalted (three hundred at Solar tier alone), on at least five different sides. This tends to balance it out somewhat, since the guy who can outfight an army by himself is going up against another guy who can outfight an army by himself.
The Challenge Rating system introduced in 3rd Edition D&D was specifically weighted to select opponents that the player characters had a fairly good chance of demolishing, as the expectation was that they'd tackle about four fights in a row before they'd get to replenish resources. That didn't stop game masters from siccing an occasional above-CR opponent on the heroes to keep them from getting cocky, but one who stuck strictly to equal-CR encounters and allowed too many rest-and-recharge breaks could easily turn their campaigns into this trope.
Most videogame characters are retroactively this, thanks to the magic of saving and loading, but Half-Life is one of the few that actively lampshades it.
Toward the end of Persona 3, the characters discuss how they've never lost. Since the game is Nintendo Hard, it's a guarantee that they aren't this trope to the player.
Also especially true for Assassin's Creed. Taking damage causes desynching, and desynching represents how much what you're seeing clashes with what "really happened". So the implication is that the original hero never got so much as a scratch.
Chrono Trigger, or any other game with a New Game Plus that lets you keep your levels and abilities and restart the game over... and over... and over... Although this doesn't apply to all Hopeless Boss Fights; some will simply proceed as if you lost, but some will give you a new ending if you beat them.
Disgaea spoofs this as characters are well aware that this trope is one of the privileges of the Main Character/Hero and will try to steal the spot when they can. However, in the actual storylines, the main character usually has his ass completely handed to him by a character a thousand levels higher at least once.
In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Mao wants to defeat the overlord. He's been studying tropes, so he figures his best bet is to become a hero, since heroes never lose.
Valkyria Chronicles: Welkin is never wrong about anything, ever (even if he's being loopy about it), and because losing him constitutes a game over in every mission, he never retreats or dies. He's also usually in the Edelweiss, which is expensive to activate and has very limited movement, and so for many missions it's easier and more efficient to have him sit pretty in the tank and have your squad do the dirty work.
Ever use a Game Genie code for infinite lives, infinite health, or anything else that will ensure that the "Game Over" screen never appears? Nice for kids, but older players may prefer a little challenge and suspense.
A lot of games include God Mode cheat codes anyway nowadays, but they do things like disable the ability to get achievements or turn off scoring or only become available after beating the game normally or something similar. Sometimes this can be more fun than playing the game the way you're "supposed" to, especially in Sandbox-style games. (Crackdown is one. "God Mode" involves being invincible, opening up all weapons, being able to spawn any vehicle or enemy, etc, and is a lot of fun.)
Now, since the option to winning a battle is losing a battle, and losing generally means death, it's natural that every soldier alive has won every battle they've been through. Unless they've retreated or been captured, but this never was an option for Ike. Other strategy games DO make games with a condition being 'survive until X amount of time, or 'retreat successfully', making the hero seem less invincible.
When it's possible to eliminate all of the enemies before the time runs out on a survival mission, it sort of defeats the purpose.
The Professor Layton series fits this trope. Aside from being a puzzle master (depending on the player's difficulty with the game) he can sword fight, build massive guns out of casino equipment, rescue damsels in distress, and solve cumbersome mysteries that not even the detectives can figure out.
Grotesque Tactics - both the first and second game - is generally an RPG parody, and plays with tropes all the time, but nothing as much as Holy Avatar - he is the proverbial knight in shining armor, with cool shades and three maidens all fawning over him, and he has been everywhere, done everything. Adding to this trope is one of his special attacks, which is a one-hit-kill for weaker enemies, actually stating so in the description of the skill!
Some in the Touhou fandom depict Reimu Hakurei as this, an unstoppable force not unlike a Determinator but with much less motivation required. It's at least implied that Reimu should not die lest some nasty things happen; the main purpose of the spellcard system is to let anyone have a fair go at Reimu while ruling out the possibility of accidentally killing her. It doesn't help that her stated power - Fantasy Heaven - is specifically worded thus that she "becomes invincible" while using it, making her effectively unbeatable if the spell timeout phase were to be lifted.
This has been averted in canon though, where Reimu is said to frequently lose against her opponents spellcards and has to ask for multiple attempts in order to capture the spells she failed. Basically, she's asking for continues.
In most of the Fallout games, by the time you reach endgame you are most definitely this. Practically nothing can hurt you and you have weapons that can level entire cities.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. In the second human campaign mission, you build a base and train an army to kill the Blackrock Orc leader. Uther the Lightbringer helps defend your base from orcs that periodically attack it. Oh yeah, he also has a 45 second shield that he pops whenever somebody hits him. So the orcs start attacking your towers instead. Thanks, Uther.
There are rare cases where the orcs run away and Uther decides to chase them. An even rarer occurrence is that he will chase the orcs all the way back to their base (which is separate from where the leader is) and will just start leveling everything in sight. You might think that he will die up there. Nope. Even with a battalion of orcs attacking him, his 45 second shield enables him to just bash their skulls in while the only thing they can do is run away.
Just in case you haven't played Warcraft III, his shield makes him invulnerable (meaning he can't be the target of attacks and/or spells).
Amusingly enough, the player can invoke this in Bangai-O, since the game's Japanese title has "Muteki (Invincible)" in it. Once the cheat menu is accessed and the invincibility option is turned on, the title robot is effectively impossible to destroy. Then again, it helps since Bangai-O is actually quite vulnerable and the game is Nintendo Hard.
The duo of protagonists from Skullkickers certainly qualify. They don't seem to take as much as a scratch in any fight, both are nigh invulnerable and beat any odds with ease. They also come equipped with a handgun in a medieval setting- for the short while they lost this edge, a deus ex machina reunited the characters with their lost gear almost immediately.
Rocky from Pokémon-X has fainted a grand total of twice, and this was so notable that it was actually pointed out when it happened that it was the first time it had ever happened. 596 pages into the comic. This also lead to Brendan's first ever defeat in the comic — but he's an Idiot Hero, so we tend to overlook his invincibility. (What's more, the second time Rocky fainted, Brendan technically tied.)
An alternative view is that Bun-Bun works as a way to establish an enemy as 'top tier', and the rarity of beating him is so it keeps its credibility and doesn't suffer from The Worf Effect.
Fans are stil bored to death of him, though.
The Goblins B-comic Tempts Fate has the hero perform based on the amount of donations the readers send in. Needless to say, Tempts Fate wins every battle with extreme ease, and the readers can feel the accomplishment of having helped along this overwhelming victory.
Interestingly, for all of a God Mode SueAuthor Avatar that he is, Comic!Chris of Sonichu subverts this greatly, mostly in his earlier stories. Most of his battles seem to have him on the ropes, end up rescued by someone else before he turns the tables on his opponents. He doesn't get into Invincible Hero territory until his last (published) issue, where he systematically destroys his opponents with ease.
Parodied in Basic Instructions with Rocket Hat; he dishes out constant effortless beat-downs of the Moon Men and their emperor, but when the reader can actually see him, he never moves or even speaks. The Emperor's fighting style has been described by his own loyal followers as "cringing" and he seems to be an example of Asskicking Equals Authority among them...
The Sisterhood in Sinfest. They repeatedly raid the Devil's facilities and get away with it effortlessly and without retaliation.
Tennyo, in the Whateley Universe, was looking like this until she got curb-stomped in "Boston Brawl 2", this trope is slightly deconstructed: people who don't know her personally tend to find her terrifying, between her power and her temper its not unjustified.
And then she got hammered in "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy" and had a Heroic BSOD.
There has been discussion on the Whateley forum boards to the effect that Team Kimba as a whole may be turning into this, though; they're uncommonly powerful for a group of freshmen (and that power has only grown considerably since their introduction about a single in-universe semester ago with no sign of slowing down yet), have so far suffered only temporary setbacks at worst, and their adversaries keep underestimating them to the point where the suspension of disbelief starts to show stretch marks.
They survived their one real loss ('Birthday Brawl') intact, with the purpose of the story being to replace the 'Cardboard Prison' and 'Offscreen Villain Dark Matter' tropes with onscreen events that serve the same narrative purpose.
Chuck Norris. His M.U.G.E.N incarnation has both infinite health and a plethora of one-hit kill moves, and any statement that this is the slightest bit cheap is met with cries of "BLASPHEMY!"
Ironically, said character is an incarnation of the abovementioned Reimu Hakurei.
In the GameFAQs Character Battles, Linkalways wins. While the other characters have seen their strength fluctuate over the years, Link started as a God tier character, and just kept on climbing. He was removed from the main bracket in 2005 to give other characters a chance to win. Due to a Re Tool changing the format to four way free-for-alls, Link returned to the main bracket in 2007, but by then, the rest of the the Noble Nine (the nine characters considered to be the strongest) couldn't even touch him, never mind anyone else who got in his way. He was Kicked Upstairs for good at the end of the 2011 tournament, but this was a case of too little, too late, as Link's invincibility meant the 2011 tournament ended up being a Franchise Killer.
Bugs Bunny has spent the whole of his career as a Karmic Trickster effortlessly outwitting and humiliating B-listers and icons alike in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies pantheon, such as Beaky Buzzard and Daffy Duck respectively. So untouchable is Bugs, that of the many adversaries he faced over the roughly 172 cartoons he originally starred in, the number of characters able to best the trickster rabbit can be counted on one hand; Elmer Fudd and Cecil Turtle being the most successful examples.
Yosemite Sam was actually created as a response to this trope; Elmer Fudd is many things, but intelligent is not one of them, and consequently, there were only so many ways Bugs could outsmart him before it got old. Sam was created with the intent of giving Bugs an adversary smart enough to give him trouble. Another explanation is they wanted character assholish enough to get the audience back on Bugs' side. Fudd was so hapless and Affably Evil that Bugs was starting to come across as an unheroic bully.
Or revert to it. Some of the very first early Bugs cartoons show him causing trouble for Elmer for no reason other than he feels like it. "Elmer's Candid Camera" is a classic example — Elmer isn't even "hunting wabbits", but Bugs still teases him mercilessly.
And when it turned out that Sam ended up being portrayed not that much more intelligent than Elmer, the soft-spoken, but incredibly technologically advanced and dangerous Marvin the Martian was created, who, more likely than not, fought Bugs to a tie (such as both being left hanging on a crescent of moon, a gag repeated in Marvin's better known Duck Dodgers' appearance.)
Incidentally, one of Bugs' greatest defeats happened off-screen, in a cartoon he only cameoed in. In "Porky Pig's Feat", Daffy and Porky are trapped in a hotel room because they can't pay the bill. Hilarity Ensues. Finally, Porky suggests they call Bugs for advice. It turns out Bugs is locked in the next room over (he tried all the stuff they did).
Most Looney Tunes protagonists leaned into this trope, perhaps even more so Speedy Gonzales, whose Super Speed made him near untouchable by antagonists such as Sylvester (the odd occasion the cat actually placed the mouse in his mouth he often merely charged with enough power to rip (harmlessly) through his tail, suggesting it was actually physically impossible for Sylvester to eat Speedy).
On the other hand, Speedy was perhaps the one character to gain positive Character Development during the De Patie Freleng era, being placed in more incidental roles where he was occasionally shown to have more difficulty gaining a victory. Despite this however the short Mucho Locos seemingly counts as his sole true loss (ironically against Daffy Duck, who at that point was often viewed as Bugs' polar opposite).
Actually, Bugs lost more often than other Looney Tunes protagonists like Tweety or Speedy.
Somewhat justified in that Tweety and Speedy were more or less fighting for their lives all the time, whereas the occasions where Bugs lost were either him being a Jerk Ass or a situation that he had no control over. Tweety and Speedy never fought minor battles, so they never had minor losses.
The odd occasion Speedy lost was usually when he took his gloating a little too far, and an already defeated and harmless villain got a final laugh (eg. "Panchos Hideaway"). The one alternate is in "Mucho Locos" when Daffy (who for once isn't antagonising Speedy) hears him mocking him behind his back and mallets him on the head. Tweety's appearances however never went outside evading a hungry cat, thus he became the only protagonist to never lose (outside possibly the Road Runner).
Speedy also suffered a pretty significant loss in "Chili Con Corny." Not only do one of Daffy's traps knock him silly enough to make him see stars (arguably the only time that happened to him), the episode also ends with him on the losing side, as his ally turns against him to side with Daffy.
Captain Planet. The show becomes somewhat better since the Planeteers are the main stars, but the Cap himself often feels more like some sort of Deus ex Machina who can just fix anything. Some episodes have him immobilized by pollution (or hate), forcing the Planeteers to help him, but usually he's just called within the last five minutes to easily defeat the villain and magically repair whatever damage has been done.
Made slightly more interesting whenever he is forced to fight his evil twin, and gets his ass handed to him.
Oban Star-Racers averts this so much it can be considered an inversion: the Earth team seems to get by winning as few races as possible. At least one time their continuation hinged on a match they weren't even in.
The Silver Skeeter in Doug's comic book episodes: He's made of liquid metal (thus Nigh Invulnerable) and can fly through space on his skateboard, which is extremely overpowered compared with Quail Man's intellectual "powers of the Quail." Doug, frustrated that Skeeter's God Mode Sue is taking over his story, calls Skeeter out with this trope.
Skeleton Warriors's biggest failing was the complete invincibility of its antiheroes.
The 1967 Hanna-Barbera series Shazzan featured an all-powerful Genie as its title character; the writers professed difficulty with the series, because Shazzan was so powerful that they couldn't think up any difficulties for him to face.
In one episode, Nancy was trapped in The Underworld and Shazzan couldn't just teleport her back. In another, the kids were trapped behind a forcefield that Shazzan couldn't affect. That was about it.
Lampshaded — or should it be Mirrored Disco Balled? — in Batman The Brave And The Bold with the Ear Worm "Drives Us Bats", in which the Music Meister —and eventually the entire DC Universe — expresses hilariously the frustrations of dealing with the omnipotent god-dammed Batman.
Your sympathy is supposed to lie with Wile E. Coyote. The thing of it is, he could stop the pain at any time by not chasing the Roadrunner.
Tom occasionally got a victory over Jerry (especially in later shorts), often when the mouse started their Escalating War without provocation. Add to that as often as Jerry won, he was still vulnerable to Amusing Injuries, albeit not nearly as often as Tom.
Jerry's Invincible Hero status is partially owed to Weird Al Effect. There are a deceptively large amount of shorts where Jerry wasn't the clear victor (either due to Tom getting the last laugh, or the two falling into a stalemate where neither was better off). Even in the instances Jerry was victorious, the times he won handily were rather uncommon, with him often shown struggling against Tom, or taking nearly as much slapstick pain and humilation as he did.
Averted in the TV series version of Disney's Hercules. After the movie became a hit, the mouse house decided to make a weekday afternoon toon based on it. Except that by the end of the film, Herc is incredibly powerful and has handily defeated nearly every major threat mythological ancient Greece had to offer. The solution was to make the tv show an interquel taking place during Herc's high school years (a period skipped over entirely in the film) with Hercules always self-identifying as a "hero in training," and looking a tad scrawny compared to his adult self from the latter two-thirds of the movie.
A sort of in-universe example happens in one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, when Jimmy is actually banned from the school Science Fair because everyone is sick of him winning year after year.
After 21 took a level in Badass, Brock was given a run for his money.
One episode played with this trope, as a villain used Brock's sheer invincibility in a Evil Plan.
The Mask. He's invincible due to deliberate cartoon physics as a given superpower. His only weakness is that his mask can be removed, but even then he can fool his adversaries with trick mask removals.
Cartman tries to act like one on South Park, in the "Good Times With Weapons" episode. Every time the other kids give their ninjas a power, Cartman immediately jumps in and declares that he has a better version of the same power.
The ¡Mucha Lucha! episode "Doomien" has Rikochet and Buena Girl as a tag-team who always seems to win, to the point that no one is actually rooting for them in the tag-team matches.
The eponymous character of Kim Possible. The writers were very much aware of this, however, and included in-universe arguments that sidekick Ron is a superior hero because he's fallible.
Mandy in The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy claims that she "never loses." Over the course of the series, she seems to have backed up that claim pretty well. She's gone up against all sorts of things, and anything she couldn't take out on her own, she could with Billy's help. Every competition she enters, she takes the top spot. Several times, she becomes the Evil Overlord of the universe. It's no wonder she's a Deadpan Snarker—it's the only thing left that amuses her. She did lose to the Kids Next Door once, though.
That about sums up Phineas and Ferb's whole situation. When you have to build your own super-intelligent AI and program it to trap you repeatedly in order to have a little fun, and then you defeat it effortlessly, well, it's difficult for us to ever feel afraid for you. (Accordingly, if there's any tension in Phineas and Ferb, it's nearly always emotional tension, such as Phineas being angry at Perry in The Movie.) Candace is in the opposite situation.
Felix the Cat. In the comics, he always had some Applied Phlebotinum (magic beans, magic carpet, magic potion, magical gnome servants, etc.) on hand when he needed it. The 50s series condensed all these items into his signature magic bag, which can turn into or produceanything. (It also served as a convenient MacGuffin to get the bad guys after him.)
The titular hero of Hanna-Barbera's Atom Ant (1965-1968). In one episode only it was revealed (and subsequently forgotten) that he could be involuntarily distracted by the presence of a picnic.
Rufus and Amberley themselves were either this or Invincible IncompetentsDepending on the Writer. At the very least, there were very rarely points the heroes had to exert much hardship and effort into stopping the Urpneys, even the odd time they were actually being competent.
Professional sports suffers from a lack of drama when one or a select few teams dominate for too long a period of time. The sports media seems to love this for some reason, but for fans of all the other teams it can make following the sport pointless. North American sports has taken measures to correct this (amateur drafts, salary caps) in ways that European sports have not, and as a result there are far fewer perennial dynasties. However, they still occur — the periods of basketball dominance of the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers being perhaps the best example. If you were a fan of anyone else, why bother?
The same goes in college sports. A good example is the NCAA basketball tournament. It's hyped for several months in advance, everyone fills out their brackets, people set aside work to watch the games... and the same five or six teams end up dominating. For example, when's the last time you DIDN'T see Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State or Syracuse in the Final Four?
After the controversy over Northern Illinois automatically qualifying for a BCS bowl in 2012, one blogger observed that college football seems to be the only sport where people hate underdogs.
Motor racing can also have this helped that the richest constructors build the best cars - so much that every ruling body forbids or imposes something for balance, and the top racing drivers are very often the most calm and unflappable ones; ie the ones with "dull" personalities. In Formula One, ratings dropped as Michael Schumacher won five years in a row (2000-2004) and broke most records. In NASCAR Jimmie Johnson also won five straight years. In World Rally Sebastien Loeb won nine times in a row. In Indycar the Penske and Ganassi cars win more often than not. Le Mans is also prone to periods of dominance; Ferrari and Ford in the 1960s, Porsche in 1980s, and Audi in the 2000s.