If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This," and kill the advisor.In fiction Conservation of Ninjutsu is powerful beyond compare. One ninja, or frankly any humanoid, will have no problem taking out an entire army. Unfortunately for the army's leader, they're not Genre Savvy. Of course the only thing they can think, and thus shout, when seeing the carnage laid out is, "It's just one man!" or, "What can one man do?" All in all this tends to be a Stock Phrase used whenever a One-Man Army appears, or when the battle becomes One Riot, One Ranger. However this applies to any time a character asks what one person can do, whether it be against his army of Mooks or just his own superior strength. See also Underestimating Badassery and We Do the Impossible. Or perhaps Tempting Fate. Not to be confused with The One Guy. However he may well be The Only One.
— Number 46 on the Evil Overlord List.
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Anime & Manga
- Very common in One Piece, especially during Enies Lobby. The most notable instance is when Luffy knocks out 50,000 fishmen with a glare. A Death Glare powered by awesomeness, but still-a glare.
- At the conclusion of the Wave Mission arc, Zabuza's arms are rendered useless and he ends up attacking an army of mercenaries with just a kunai held between his teeth. A mercenary in the front line mockingly asks what one badly-injured shinobi can do against their numbers... right before Zabuza ventilates his chest and starts carving a path to Gato.
- Near the end of the Invasion of Konoha arc in the anime, around 20 Sand Ninjas surround Hiashi Hyuga and remark that he's just one man. Hiashi then defeats them all with a very large Rotation jutsu.
- Repeated with the Tobi/Obito arc after Kakashi kills Rin. Dead chunin and jonin are soon SMEARED on the battlefield.
- In Code Geass, the Lancelot knightmare frame and its pilot Suzaku goes under this trope multiple times.
- In episode 13 of Cross Ange, Julio is heard yelling this as the Vilkiss tears through his fleet of ships, and right before cutting through the hull of the one he's in.
- Turns up in Dragon Ball, particularly during the Red Ribbon saga, when General Blue is hesitant to attack Goku and company.
Soldier: B-b-but it's just three kids!Blue: Just one of those kids wiped out both Silver Corps and White Corps! Now I've learned that Squad B was pulverized by the old man and the woman! And they didn't even have to unleash the turtle!
- Grant Morrison's JLA. The White Martians have captured the entire League ... almost.
Protex: Batman! Batman! He's only a man!(Close up of the captive Superman. Smiling. You can just imagine the thought balloon above Clark's head going, "I'm going to enjoy watching Bruce screw with you far, far more than I really should." )
Protex: Tronix! Fluxus! What's happening there? Zenturian! He's only one man!Superman:The most ... uh ... dangerous man on Earth.
- Captain America. No single other hero has caused more cries of "kill him, you fools, he's just one man!" from terrified commanders.
Films — Live-Action
- The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Captain Harrison Love: After all, it's only one man...Don Rafael: It isn't just one man, damn it. It's Zorro!
- Batman (who should have learned from all the people who underestimated him) gives this line in The Dark Knight:
- An Invoked Trope in the comedy Water (1985). Sir Malcolm Leveridge is having to explain to the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher how he let an American company get the sole rights to Cascara's mineral water. The Iron Lady decides that the solution is to secretly back a revolution that will nationalise the industry in exchange for granting the Brits the bottling rights.
PM: I have learnt that there is a subversive element on the island, one Delgado Fitzhugh.
Sir Malcolm: Oh, just one person...
PM: There was only one Gandhi once. One anorexic little looney in a loincloth and we lost a whole subcontinent!
- In The Matrix:
Lieutenant: I think we can handle one little girl. I sent two units, they're bringing her down now.
Agent Smith: No, lieutenant, your men are already dead.
- The Six Million Dollar Man had this as almost a stock phrase on many episodes. In one episode the same bad guy had a sequence of schemes ruined by Steve Austin, to the point that at the end, he gets a call from some mooks: "What? ONE MAN?... This has a depressingly familiar ring to it."
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
The Joker: Come on boys! He's just one man! One man dressed like a lunatic and armed to the teeth.
- Breen says this about Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2:
Breen: The man you have consistently failed to slow, let alone capture, is by all standards simply that—an ordinary man. How can you have failed to apprehend him?
- When Desmond claims this about himself in Assassin's Creed II, Lucy replies with: "Sometimes that's all you need."
- Nicole Horne describes the titular character of Max Payne this way in the first game:
"What do you mean, 'he's unstoppable'? You are superior to him in every way that counts. You are better trained, better equipped, and you outnumber him at least twenty-to-one. Do. Your. Job."
- Commander Lockhart says this about Alcatraz in Crysis 2.
- Becomes Arc Words in Modern Warfare 3. Price and Makarov repeat endlessly it against each other.
- You can pick this as a dialogue option early on in The Godfather 2 about the Cuban rebels. Predictably enough, shortly afterwards El Presidente announces his abdication.
- Repeatedly shouted in the FEAR games by assorted human villains as the Point Man and Michael Beckett tear through their troops. Norton Mapes comments on it in the first game while you're blasting through the ATC troops in the Vault ("Come on, he's just one guy? What good are you jackoffs?") and Colonel Vanek berates his men repeatedly while fighting through the labs under Wade Elementary, before finally admitting to Beckett's One-Man Army status. The Phase Commanders and other ATC officers in FEAR 3 are Genre Savvy enough to understand how dangerous the Point Man is, and instead of berating them for being overwhelmed, they just order their men to stay in position under pain of dismemberment.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, towards the end of Pit's rampage through a major installation for Viridi's army, she shouts: "Fight harder, children! He's just one little angel!"
- In Mark of the Ninja, when his lieutenant expresses concern about the player character killing dozens of his men, Big Bad Karajan dismissively replies: "He is just one man."
- Frequently said by the Imperial soldiers in The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, as the player character is fencing his way through dozens of them.
- Said almost ad verbum in a dialogue of the Mooks you kill in a skirmish in Tomb Raider (2013).
- In Mass Effect 2, mercenary leader Jedore uses something to this effect as Shepard and his/her squad are slaughtering their way through her men.
Jedore: There are three of them. THREE! Anything can be killed if you'd just do your damn jobs.
- Star Fox Zero has the Salvadora's commander give this reaction when a single ship approaches with weapons ready. Said ship is an Arwing, piloted by Peppy Hare. No points for guessing how this one turns out.
- Subverted in Rose Guns Days, in the 1947 climax: when Maurice and his 40 men arrive at the hotel (as reinforcements to Caleb, who's fighting Rose a few storeys above), and find Leo sitting all alone in the middle of the lobby, their first reaction is to assume there are snipers hidden somewhere, because no one could be that suicidal. This allows Leo to take down a few of them, before Maurice finally realizes he's alone. The scene after that turns into a bonafide Mook Horror Show.
- Number 46 on the Evil Overlord List
If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This," and kill the advisor.
- Samurai Jack episode "Jack and the Three Blind Archers". The general is trying to discourage Jack. If he actually had done the math, he would have realized that the samurai's victory over the archers was assured.
General: There are only three archers, yet they decimated my whole army. You are just one man. Do the math.
- Filmation's 1960's Justice League of America, episode "Target Earth". While Green Lantern is smashing an invading space fleet, the fleet's commander says "Fools! He is just one man! Destroy him!"
- A subversion took place in the lead up to WW-I, when pretty much everyone knew that war was just a matter of time. The commander of the British Staff College, Brigadier General Henry Wilson, was talking to his counterpart in the French Ecole Supérieure de Guerre, General Ferdinand Foch:
Wilson: What is the smallest British military force that would be of any practical use to you?
Foch: A single British soldier — and we will see to it that he is killed.