"If it exists as a living creature in an MMORPG, someone, somewhere, will try to kill it."
If a game designer wants an NPC
to be invulnerable, they'd better make sure that it truly is
The Lord British Postulate was coined in this WoW Insider
post, and is the cornerstone of the creativity and ingenuity of the more cunning player. In short, if a NPC
cannot be killed through normal means, then there must
be some abnormal
means to do the job. Quite often, if a character's weapons fail to do the duty, then the task falls upon other NPCs, world objects, or the environment to assassinate the relevant target with some prodding from the player characters. The Lord British Postulate is not restricted to MMORPGs
, but can be applied elsewhere: CRPGs
, even Tabletop RPGs
The name references the fact that there is a way to murder Lord British in nearly every Ultima
game, famously including Ultima Online
, where Lord British was killed by a fire spell because his invulnerability flags hadn't been set properly after a server crash. That said, the Lord British Postulate has less grounding in reality than one would assume. A great number of NPCs are free to walk around unmolested, safe in their invulnerability. However, the more important the NPC is, the more likely it will be the target of a creative assassination attempt. A king is a bigger target than the common baker and much more satisfying to dispatch.
This trope can be an applied form of Loophole Abuse
with how you go about killing Lord British (or any other normally unkillable NPC).
developers will code in what happens
if you do
manage to kill them.
Contrast with Invulnerable Civilians
, which simply can't be killed. A Hopeless Boss Fight
or Invincible Minor Minion
is seen as a challenge to these people. Can lead to the game being Unwinnable by Insanity
if the loss of the NPC screws you over. This has nothing to do with
the other ship from Gradius
open/close all folders
- In Soul Calibur III, the subboss Ceres is supposed to be unbeatable (you are told to endure the battle until time runs out without getting killed), but it is possible to beat Ceres if you attack very quickly and break his guard. Probably because the game designers didn't intend you to beat him, nothing special happens after you do.
- Fighters Destiny and its sequel have a minigame where the objective is to stay in the ring as long as possible against a seemingly invincible bull. In reality, the bull can fall off the stage, though if this happens the round ends as if you fell.
- In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the supposedly invincible Wario-Man, as well as characters using a Starman, can both be KO'd in the conventional fashion by chucking a Team Healer item at them while they're at a high enough percentage and not on your team. On a similar note, while Giga Bowser is completely Immune to Flinching, he can still be star KO'd if he's hit while he's off the top of the screen.
- In stamina matches, both characters still take damage; defeating while in these forms will cause them to revert.
First Person Shooters
- In Golden Eye 1997, a glitch involving using two controllers at once allows the player to fire on characters during cutscenes from the camera's perspective, instantly killing any that are hit. This includes Baron Samedi during his The End... Or Is It? moment. This has no gameplay impact whatsoever, though.
- A similar result can be reached by precise placement of explosives to where a character will appear during a cutscene, and then quickly triggering it before they explode.
- The Jedi Heroes in the first Star Wars Battlefront game were invulnerable to normal weapons; they would deflect blasters and simply get knocked down by splash damage. It is possible to kill them by using grenades or heavy weapons to knock them into environmental hazards: off the edge of Cloud City, into the Sarlacc pit, or into the Carbonite Freezing chamber. It is also possible to kill them by landing aircraft on them or ramming them them with a speeder bike.
- An even easier method is to get them between a few turrets firing at the right rate. The flinch effect will keep them immobilized long enough for you to take them out. Sadly, they'd just respawn like Agents in The Matrix.
- You could also do this by using a vehicle to push said Jedi off the playable area; though this will kill you eventually, it'll also kill the Jedi, which will (for whatever reason) not damage your vehicle whatsoever. This works great with the Galactic Republic's tank.
- Deus Ex has plenty of invincible NPCs, but many can be killed due to a collision bug. Get one to stand on the edge of a piece of furniture, then push the furniture against a wall. They will pass partially through the wall and then die instantly as the game seems to think they've been crushed.
- In Deus Ex: Invisible War, important NPCs aren't coded to be invincible, but are simply placed in areas where you can't use your weapons, or speak with you from behind bulletproof glass. One such important NPC, Billie Adams, can be seen at the beginning of the game running into an inaccessible booth before speaking with you. It's possible to kill her before she gets into the booth. This removes her from the game, but in later encounters there will be gaps in the dialogue where she was supposed to be, because the game was never programmed to deal with her not being alive.
- Interestingly, the engine does support flagging NPCs as unkillable — though any NPC flagged as such is in a place where weapons are disabled, with one obscure exception, so most players will not notice. Why Billie is not flagged this way is unclear.
- One side-quest has a canopy with a weapon and a scientist. Open the canopy with a button press and the scientist gets locked behind an indestructable door. Kill the scientist and the canopy locks down instead, denying you the weapon. To achieve both, place a metal box so that the door cannot close, open the canopy, get the weapon, and then head for the scientist. Get a melee weapon and hack away (which will really take a while due to obscene amounts of health). For your effort, you get chided from one faction for helping the other, but later still get their award as well as the other faction's bonus.
- Prior to being patched out, it was possible to kill Eli Vance in Half-Life 2. The player's attacks don't hurt him at all, but if you grabbed a sentry gun from earlier in the level, carried it all the way to Eli, and set it down facing him, it would quickly blow him away.
- Another fun thing to do? Start a new game, get God mode going, get the HEV suit, THEN use Impulse 101 running. Get ammo and the crossbow, and follow the steps up to the teleport cutscene. As you are transporting from place to place, you can headshot Breen either place; when he first sees you and you fade out, or when he rounds his desk.
- The physics engine can be exploited to kill certain otherwise-invulnerable NPCs using the Gravity Gun and nearby physics objects, and done at the proper times, you can avoid triggering a Nonstandard Game Over where you would otherwise receive one. Observe.
- BioShock 1 features an invincible Splicer named Rosenote that can only normally killed in her final appearance, but it is possible to kill her sooner on Easy if you've stocked up on anti personnel machine gun rounds.
- In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, it is possible to kill Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler himself by noclipping away from the final boss fight to a normally inaccessible part of the level where the cutscene plays, as it is done in-engine, and placing a timed dynamite charge set to detonate at just the right time. Ludicrous Gibs ensue.
- Lord British, of course, from the Ultima series, who just happens to be one of Richard Garriott's two in-game Author Avatars. The postulate itself stems from a time during the Ultima Online beta test where, following a crash, Lord British' invulnerability flag was unknowingly turned off, and a player killed him with a hastily-stolen firefield spell on the spur of the moment during a public gathering. The guards moved in, the players fought back, and the whole thing turned into an in-game riot.
- A special pair of leggings were introduced to "commemorate" the event.
- There was an event during the early weeks of Tabula Rasa that was about killing General British. Well, clones of him, actually; there were dozens of them.
- Most NPCs in World of Warcraft are actually killable to players of the opposing faction, including racial leaders such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore, and the like. However, most NPCs in the neutral city of Shattrath should be invulnerable, as combat from players is forbidden there... unless, of course, one pulls an enemy from outside of the city into it and lets them run loose on the population. The main NPC of the city, a massive naaru named A'dal, was killed in this way several times until it was buffed to nigh-unkillable levels. It seems that the original A'dal had very few HP.
- It's still possible to kill A'dal with a quest mob that becomes immune to everything at 50% health (you need a quest item to kill him). It just takes a very very very long time. In theory, it would also be possible to kite said mob to A'dal, then kite him away, effectively kiting A'dal itself (and every guard in the city). There is a rumor of this being done, but there are no videos to back it up.
- The pre-launch event of the second expansion involved an infection that would turn player characters into zombies that were hostile towards everything but each other. You can use this opportunity to kill NPCs that were otherwise unattackable to both factions.
- In the third expansion, one guild managed to kill Tirion Fordring by luring a mini-boss from earlier in the dungeon to him.
- Invoked with the Whale Shark. An immense boss mob with no loot of any kind and the ability to one-shot anybody that attacks it, Blizzard had to add an achievement for killing it because so many people wanted to.
- Some players expand this to include other players when not in PvP situations that allow deaths. Duels end with the other player having one hitpoint, but using knockbacks or mind control during the duel, it is possible to kill via fall damage.
- Perhaps the worst incident of this behavior was the Corrupted Blood Plague. Players discovered they could bring a highly-contagious disease to their home cities, where it would promptly spread and kill characters who were ordinarily protected from other players.
- Early in the Mists of Pandaria beta, there was a bugged version of Chi Wave. The spell is supposed to bounce between PCs and NPCs, healing if friendly, damaging if an enemy. Earlier versions bugged so it would damage all NPCs.
- In Guild Wars, a well-placed herd of Necromancer minions can sometimes kill exactly the wrong person during a mission cutscene.
- The Eye of the North expansion is far more explicit with this. If an allied NPC is killed, it will either return hale and hearty on the next dungeon level or, more commonly, wait until its aggro circle is clear before standing back up, dusting itself off, and running back to your location. Quite a few NPCs will rubberband back up to about 30% if their health drops below this threshold, even if the damage they receive puts them deep into negative health. Of course, it was possible for decorative player minipets and certain resurrection NPCs to be accidentally killed by rolling ice boulders when they shouldn't, but this was quickly patched.
- One month, it was discovered that a specific buff could be used to spawn minions in some outposts by gaming the system slightly. As players do not have access to skills in outposts, the minions would quickly kill them, and their corpses would spawn more minions.
- Kerafyrm the Sleeper, the Sealed Evil in a Can from the "end" of the original EverQuest. He was supposed to be unkillable, but on one server he was eventually taken down by a group of over 200 allied players in a battle that lasted three hours.
- Also a particularly lasting example of Lost Forever — Kerafyrm could only be awakened once per entire Server, meaning a failed attempt prevented all others on the server from ever being able to do the event.
- The issue here is that Kerafyrm was specifically designed to appear to be killable, so people would trip the sad story event caused by the failure. People were supposed to think they could win, and be on the end of a giant Player Punch when they inevitably lose. They couldn't make him actually unkillable, because once the first group to wake him found out, no one else would do it, because there is no benefit from trying and failing.
- And while we're on the subject, Verant had to make characters used in GM events untargetable specifically because of this problem.
- Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates has El Pollo Diablo, the black ship that appears if players attack ships weaker than themselves too often. It can't be shot, and it's crewed by (noq) 150 skeletons, but it has been defeated multiple times, each matched by a severe upgrade by the developers...
- ... Except the one time they accidentally botched the ship to be crewed by just 8 skeletons.
- Further, the hardest defeat so far, 100 skeletons versus a full Grand Frigate of top players, had one of the Game Masters fighting on the Black Ship, for full Lord British Postulate goodness, no less!
- They are mostly beaten through boarding and stalling.
- In the MMORPG Runescape, one update brought a seemingly invincible enemy called the Vyrewatch. They've got a combat level, so they must be killable somehow, right? Someone went to the trouble of getting one to attack him while a group of friends dropped him rings of recoil and massive amounts of food. Eventually, the Vyrewatch died, with no death animation and no drops, proving that they really were intended to be invincible. However, they have been made killable several years ago.
- Final Fantasy XI has the ostensibly killable Absolute Virtue, which does in fact have death animations, text, and very valuable (and exclusive) drops... but every time it's been killed so far, Square Enix respond with something along the lines of "No, that's not how you kill it" and patch it. Sometimes they ban the players who killed it, too.
- Also notable is the actually newsworthy superboss Pandemonium Warden. When it was first patched into the game, it was deemed truly unkillable, and one linkshell group spent 18 consecutive hours in a single fight against it and could not continue. Since then, SE patched it to make it actually very possible to kill, but it is still comparable to Absolute Virtue in difficulty.
- Part of SE's "fix" was to cause Pandemonium Warden and Absolute Virtue to despawn after so long, preventing the 18 hour long fights that nearly hospitalized some. PW will despawn two hours after being spawned. Absolute Virtue only spawns after killing the Jailer of Love NM, so AV despawns two hours after the Jailer of Love is spawned. This is particularly troublesome as one of the greatest obstacles to killing AV is its insane health regeneration, which can be mitigated by killing a lot of Jo L's pets. This basically means to have any shot of dealing enough damage to override the health regeneration, you have to keep Jo L alive so long you have less than 90 minutes to kill AV.
- Note that Absolute Virtue originally came about when the level cap was 75. The level cap is now 99, and it's still insanely hard to kill, though much more possible than previously. No, they didn't make it harder at any point.
- Of course, there is an intended way to kill Absolute Virtue, he's not impossible to defeat. However, the method will not be described here.
- City of Heroes has the Hamidon, a giant blob monster, which was similarly very difficult to kill. For the first year or so, players kept coming up with strategies only to have the Devs change the rules. Eventually the players found an "acceptable" strategy and raiding began in earnest.
- CoH also has Riechsman, who's supposed to be completely invincible... however, when he first came out, he was still susceptible to Sleep abilities, which, while not killing him, completely mitigated him. Also, later on in the same set of missions, you get the means to defeat him... which you can keep, then do the story over again, and use the same weapons to defeat him when you're supposed to be helpless against him!
- The Rikti Invasion events in City of Heroes feature dropships, which the dev team made virtually unkillable, with oodles of hit points, powerful attacks, and a tendency to simply fly away and escape before anybody can kill it, and which give no rewards for defeat, specifically because they were not intended to be defeated. When the Issue that introduced the Invasion events was in beta, a group of players took this as a challenge, banded together, and killed nine of them. The devs then made them even tougher, but still not unkillable.
- On a smaller scale, the "Magic Man" arc has the eponymous character who, during your battle against him, uses Time Travel to heal himself repeatedly when his health gets low. Mechanically, this is implemented as a new copy of the NPC running in while the low-health NPC copy gets flagged as invisible and untargetable, but not untouchable. Area-effect attacks and pets can still hit the old copy, and you can get XP and drops for defeating him as many as five times.
- The finale of the first chapter of the villain "Who Will Die" arc ends with five high-level, high-rank hero NPCs arriving to drive the player character off. These NPCs are twenty levels above than the player characters (in a game where a seven-level difference is considered insurmountable), but have no special protection. Player speculation is that concentrating confusion attacks on the healer NPC would get her to wipe out the other heroes, but nobody has claimed to have actually done so, and that still leaves the problem of defeating an incredibly tough NPC with self-healing abilities.
- In Champions Online, Justiciar in Canada is positioned dangerously close to a pair of explosive barrels which respawn. So long as no one's Nemesis minions show up to draw him into combat (and thus full heal him when he returns to his default position), a persistent player can kill him with the explosive damage from the barrels.
- Another instance of this were statues in one of the endgame lairs. These statues were immune to all damage types, and shot lasers out of their eyes when approached, which the player had to use a mirror to reflect back at the statue to destroy it to progress through the lair. However, characters who had Parry could actually guard to penetrate the statue's immunity to normal damage, allowing players to bypass complex mirror puzzles by just waiting in front of statues while blocking.
- In EVE Online, CONCORD serves as the police force in high security systems and will attack players who perform certain illegal acts, such as attacking other players without provocation, attacking a CONCORD ship, entering highsec space with a low security rating, etc. If a player commits such an act, an endless stream of CONCORD ships will very quickly enter the system and destroy the player's ship. Due to their weapons and equipment, most Concordokkened players don't even have a chance to fire a shot at them. There was one case, however, called the Yulai Incident, where a well-organized and well-prepared gang was actually able to hold off CONCORD for over two hours, killing over a hundred people in a supposedly safe system.note CONCORD has since been upgraded (and is so every time anybody tries to tank them) and everyone involved was banned (tanking CONCORD is considered an exploit and bannable offense), but the Yulai Incident lives on in legend.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has a number of "invincible" monsters, usually seen but not directly encounted in inaccessible areas of dungeons. Most of them have enormous HP reserves and full health regeneration. This hasn't stopped players from using high-level characters with powerful ranged weapons/attacks to attack Aussircaex, a level 32 dragon (player cap is 25 currently). However, this is usually true only in the first dungeon they're encountered in - most are quest-end bosses in separate adventures, since Turbine is aware that players are going to attack anything targetable.
- The proto-MORPG AberMUD featured a dragon which had 4x the hit points possible for a level capped player, and did approximately the same damage per round as the best weapon in the game. It was, however, a one-hit kill if you had a specific unique (as in, one copy in the entire game world at a time) weapon equipped. Naturally, a few people took this as not a puzzle to be solved but a challenge.
- It also had a unicorn with 4x the hit points of the dragon. This wasn't even in the game proper; it was intended as a GM's "pet," but the mechanics allowed players in certain circumstances to attempt to summon any NPC in the game. Players who thought the dragon wasn't enough of a challenge would have a go at the unicorn. If superbly equipped, it was possible to win this fight, though the odds weren't terribly good. Later GMs learned from this and, if they bothered to create a pet, created one that was either weak enough not to be worth killing for bragging rights, or with hundreds of times as many HP as players and attacks strong enough to kill level-capped players with a single hit.
- In Sly Cooper, the Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist is a fox named Inspector Carmelita Fox who is invulnerable... except in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, the Gadgeteer Genius's "Shrink Bomb" works on her, and takes away her infinite HP.
- Phanto in Super Mario Bros. 2 can be killed by exploiting a glitch. If you have a Toadstool Block (one of those mushroom shaped things you usually need to climb on), you can throw it at the key making it jump in the air. If you do it about a dozen times, the key stops reacting, and instead glows and makes an impact sound. You can see it in action here.
- It turns out that Phanto did not appear in that video because the longer you aren't holding the key, the longer he takes to appear. Why the key did what it did is anyone's guess.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd also found out a way to kill Phanto through a similar glitch. You had to get four cherries, pick four large vegetables, pick the fifth to get a clock to stop time, get another cherry to get an Invincibility Star, and while you're invincible, slam Phanto. However this is a more specific version.
- A staple enemy in the Kirby series is Shotzo, a little cannon that shoots cannonballs at Kirby. Normally, Shotzos are invulnerable, and must be avoided, or dropped into a pit. However, Shotzos sometimes come in from the sky, floating down with Parasols, which are far from invulnerable (destroyed on contact with anything faintly Kirby related). Normally, if Kirby sucks up the Parasol, it'll simply come off; however, the Throw ability found in some of the games will pick up both the Parasol and the Shotzo, and when said Shotzo hits a wall, it pops like any other enemy.
- In Rogue Legacy, traps that are immune to damage from your weapons (bouncing spike balls, spring-loaded floor spikes, and wall-mounted fireball shooters) can be killed using Retribution runes (which return a percentage of damage taken to the enemy that causes it).
- In Jak II the waters around Haven City are patrolled by a sentry bot which will kill the player with one shot if they move too far out. However, Dark Jak can destroy it with a dark bomb, although it may still get a shot off. It won't respawn, but you can only move so far before you fall off the world.
- 39th Slayer in DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold. You're not meant to be able to defeat him until the final level, but the fans have discovered ways to kill him in most rooms that he appears in. (He always comes back....)
- And before him, The Neather in the original King Dugan's Dungeon. If you kill him anywhere other than his final appearance, the game pops up a dialog box apologizing for the developer not allowing for every way he could be killed, and warning he won't die because "the story must go on".
- Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun: Firestorm has two of those. The CABAL Core Defender (a boss actually) who should be unbeatable except when abusing his Super Drowning Skills or using stealthed One-Hit Kill capable WALLS, and the super-charged veinhole monster from a GDI mission, which will die when you fire long enough on it. ("Long enough" being a long time.)
- In Warcraft III, it is possible to destroy the undead camp in the final mission, which completely stops the attack until the scripted event begins where Archimonde scales the mountain personally.
- A mission on the main path of Starcraft II involves racing against the Zerg in an attack on a nearby Protoss base to grab an artifact. If you put off that mission and do many of the side missions and research and upgrade your units, it is possible to destroy the Zerg base. Although the AI cheats with regards to the resources and larvae it has to spend, all attacking units it creates outside the drop pods are built normally, and destroying the base makes it impossible for any units (other than the aforementioned drop pods) to be created.
- Any mission against the Tal'darim in Wings of Liberty that doesn't involve wiping out their forces as a primary objective can still be completed by wiping out said forces. Matt Horner will indicate that the Tal'darim are in full retreat and the mission will end successfully.
- Dwarf Fortress players will do their best to kill anything, and have even gone so far as to survive digging too deep by colonizing hell. This is meant to be impossible, as it's called the "endgame" in the source code. Other examples include draining an entire ocean to trap walruses, digging out undiggable stone, and, in a previous version, causing the extinction of demons and using the portal into hell as a garbage chute.
- Toady's stated design intent to make it possible to annihilate all life on a generated world, ushering in the Age of Emptiness.
- Most creatures can be killed by crushing them under a drawbridge. Large enough creatures however will instead crush the drawbridge. Still these creatures can be killed using drawbridges - by putting them in a cage first.
- Alter Aeon seems to enjoy tormenting players with this: in the starting city, there is an NPC called "The Captain of the Guard". The message for the area explicitly tells the player (paraphrased) "This is the Captain of the Guard. He cannot be killed. No matter how many players you bring, you will not kill him". Naturally, many see this as a challenge.
- In Zelda II The Adventure Of Link, Bubbles are supposed to be invulnerable, but due to programming limitation are actually set to take 255 hits before being defeated. If you have enough patience it can be done for a measly 50 experience.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, chicke... er, Cuccos and dogs can't be killed with the sword, attacking the former enough causes a whole flock of Cuccos to start swarming Link (as is the norm in Zelda games), and attacking the latter triggers a counterattack. Use the Fire Rod or Magic Powder, however, and not only can you kill them, but an active Cucco swarm will stop. (There's loyalty for you!)
- Metroid Zero Mission: During your steath escape through Chozodia, you'll spot a Power Bomb Tank held by a statue in a spot just above the room you're in. A few seconds later, you get there to find it gone, and a Space Pirate a couple screens up above is absconding with the prize. Sadly, not even tool-assisted speedrunners are capable of catching up with him.
- Immortal Defense has a boss at the end of the second campaign who's supposed to be a Hopeless Boss Fight, but players who are just that good have gotten him. The developer didn't think anyone would be able to do it and the game assumes the normal events happened where the boss wins and continues from there. The rest of the game, heavily psychological, goes on to make near-record amounts of no sense.
- In Age of Mythology: The Titans expansion, one level has you scrambling to revive a giant Guardian statue in Egypt, because an equally giant Titan (Cerberus) is coming who is designed such that killing him should only be realistically possible using this guardian, due to his massive damage and hp. However, using vast number of priests, who gain damage bonuses towards creatures of Myth, it is quite possible to kill him without awakening the guardian, though he does tend to kill a lot of them before he goes down.
- You can kill Gargarensis forever, preventing him from resurrecting, by building a house upon his corpse.
- One of the missions of Necropolis scenario in Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East features a fortified Orc town with a huge army* . This army never leaves the town, and the game specifically warns you that you don't have to and shouldn't attack it. However, it is possible to destroy it, by prudent use of Dark magic (specifically, Berserk and Puppet Master spells).
- The supposedly unassailable Inferno fort presents in the last mission of Haven campaign. The growth of creatures in this fort greatly exceeds that of player: for example, player can buy 2 Archangels in a week, while in this fort several Archdevils appear EVERYDAY. But this fort can be taken through a loophole in game mechanics: on each creature's week several of the named creatures spawns of the map and through Diplomacy you can take them in your army. While the growth in the fort is astounding, it is arithmetical. On the other hand, the growth of creatures on the map is geometrical (and higher the difficulty, faster the growth), so it is possible to build an army, which can take the fort. Unfortunately (or fortunately considering the following events), it is impossible to proceed on the plot once you've done that.
- Cap'n Hector from the Escape Velocity games was an NPC who would remind players to register (pay for) the shareware game. After the 30 day trial period ended, the Cap'n would start warping in to attack your starship every chance she got, usually resulting in a very quick death. However, while Hector was invincible to conventional attack, it was possible to kill or disable her with splash damage in the original game.
- Killing Da Vinci in Assassins Creed II is possible by having the guards hit him. Poor Leo.
- Nothing is ever unbeatable in a Nippon Ichi game. With some clever tactics, decent equipment and/or lots of grinding, anything can be defeated, and doing so may even net you special rewards in the form of rare gear, named characters and special cutscenes or endings. Be aware that defeating some enemies you were supposed to lose to may result in Bad Endings.
- The Starfleet Adventures mod for EV Nova has the Kobayashi Maru scenario as the first thing done by the player. Naturally it's supposed to be an Unwinnable Training Simulation but some players managed to pull a Kirk, to discover that the mod had no idea what to do with it.
- Sandbox Game Terraria allows players to kill the neutral/friendly NPC characters in their village under some circumstances. The Clothier drops his red hat when you take him out, and the Guide can be directly killed if you equip the Guide Voodoo Doll and attack him, or if you dunk the Voodoo Doll in the lava in the Netherworld. You HAVE to kill him by the latter method to spawn a certain boss that must be beaten to progress to Hard Mode. Also, the Dungeon Guardian NPC, meant to protect the Dungeon from earlier acess than intended, had 9999 hp, 9999 defense and 9999 damage, aside from being very fast. Yet, many players were able to kill it, using fast shooting weapons (that would deal 1 damage per hit) and reversing gravity in order to be fast enough not to be hit.
- Nothing in Kerbal Space Program is supposed to be destructible, other than your ships and crew, and there isn't much else in the game besides planets. So, naturally, players found physics glitches that allowed them to destroy planets.
- Danger Ranger, the obnoxious jet-engine on skis that pesters you incessantly in Slamscape can be killed with the crushers found in Repsychler or Viva Los Vangrantes.
- In the Freespace series, there are some missions you are supposed to fail, and some ships that are supposed to survive and escape to fight another day. Naturally, some players attempt to Sequence Break the game by killing these ships. There is an "Invulnerability" flag for each ship that can be triggered by a mission designer to prevent this, but many mission creators consider using it to be cheap and sloppy. Thus leading to this trope when they try to engineer a situation in which it seems logically impossible to defeat an enemy, yet some player manages it anyway and breaks the mission.
- The original Metal Gear Solid included a fight with psychic Psycho Mantis, who would dodge all your attacks because he could read your mind. In order to hit him, you were supposed to shut down his mind reading ability by plugging your controller into controller port 2, but there are brief moments where you can make a hit connect even without doing this, letting you (slowly) win the fight with the controller still in port 1.
- In Minecraft, every block in the game is destructible except for bedrock, which forms the indestructible bottom limit of the game world. But just because it's supposed to be indestructible and there's no good reason to want it destroyed, people have figured out how to destroy it, despite the developer's continuing attempts to prevent the exploits.
- When Five Nights at Freddy's was first released, the creator of the game, Scott Cawthon, believed that completing the custom night with all enemies set to maximum aggression was impossible, but he was wrong. It is possible, but you have to be incredibly lucky, be very persistent, have completely mastered the game, and not make a single mistake. After he learned this, he updated the game to give you a third star for beating the maximum custom night difficulty.
Non-video game examples:
- In Star Trek II, the Kobayashi Maru scenario (the original trope namer for the Unwinnable Training Simulation) is designed as a Hopeless Boss Fight for cadets, more as a psychiatric evaluation than a tactical scenario. It involves trying to rescue a stranded ship in Klingon space (later in-universe iterations change the "enemy" race as Society Marches On; a similar scenario depicted in Star Trek: Voyager uses Romulans). Captain Kirk relates the story that, as a cadet, he hacked the program to make it winnable, and received a commendation for original thinking in the process rather than being reprimanded.
- A novel called Kobayashi Maru had Enterprise crew members tell stories of how they dealt with the scenario. Kirk's story revealed that he actually went up against the no-win scenario multiple times in fruitless attempts to beat it. He eventually decided that since the computer was cheating to make the scenarios unbeatable, it was only fair for him to cheat back. So he reprogrammed the scenario to make his opponents recognize him as The Dreaded, allowing him to beat his opponents merely through the reputation he hoped to build in the future. The sheer audacity of the move was what allowed him to get away with it.
- In the 2009 pre-boot, he does the same, but based on his attitude in the changed timeline he gets in trouble for it.
- The Expanded Universe revealed that now cadets are encouraged to find solutions like these.
- One of the "New Frontier" novels revealed that Captain Calhoun's solution was more similar to this trope than the others- instead of trying to rescue the Kobiyashi Maru, he blew it up and ran like hell, reasoning that either a) they were spies, as that's the only reason a civilian ship would be in the neutral zone, or b) even if they weren't it wasn't possible to rescue them, and he was sparing them from being sent to prison camps.
- The Matrix has Agents, entities the Machines use within the Matrix to hunt down runners and rebels. They possess the bodies of normal humans, making them impossible to kill permanently (as they'll just leave the dead body and possess a new one). Even killing them temporarily is all but impossible, as they're very good at dodging bullets. But, at the end of the first movie, when Neo embraces his identity as the cyber-messiah, he actually does kill Agent Smith by directly screwing with Smith's code.
- In the sequels, Agent Smith actually returns from death—rather than submitting to deletion, Smith transforms himself into a computer virus. By the end of the third movie, he's infected every program and human in the Matrix. This makes Smith both impervious to deletion attempts from Machines outside the Matrix, and able to defeat Neo within the Matrix. Smith is finally killed for good when Smith possesses Neo, which makes him vulnerable to a kill-code the Machines inject via Neo's body.
- In Ender's Game, the cadets play a video game as part of their training. In its most notorious scenario, a giant offers the player two cups and the player has to choose the one that doesn't contain poison. The catch is that the game is rigged - no matter which cup the player chooses, it'll end up being the poisoned one. After obsessively playing through the scenario numerous times, Ender opts to gruesomely kill the giant, being the first cadet in Battle School to do so.note
- In-canon example: in Caprica, this is why "New Cap City" players keep on trying to kill Zoe and Tamara, despite the inevitable results.
- An old adage in tabletop RPGs, and similar to this trope, is "If you stat it, they will kill it." This is probably a take-off of the Predator quote, "If it bleeds, we can kill it."
- This may be why various RPGs avoid statting certain characters. For instance, Spirit Of The Century gives only a few ballpark skills for Dr. Methusala, but only as a last resort. GMs are encouraged to treat him as an event, rather than a character.
- One possible risk with this approach is that in tabletop games players may take it more personally than in other media. After all, what looks like an NPC with an "obvious" reason to be invulnerable to one person can easily come across as a blatant Creator's Pet to another — and that goes double if the "creator" is sitting right at the table with the rest of the players.
- Similarly, the tongue-in-cheek First Law of Munchkinism: "Any finite number can be reduced to zero."
- Averted in the Babylon 5 RPG. The rules of combat for Vorlons are essentially "You Lose."
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The Original Edition Gods, Demigods & Heroes and the 1st Edition Deities & Demigods Cyclopedia gave the gods stats. This led a lot of players to treat them just like really tough monsters and try to kill them. Later editions generally avoided statting the gods themselves, and if they needed to make a personal appearance, would send an avatar with a fraction of their powers (but still really tough).
- The 3rd ed book Deities and Demigods contained almost exclusively stats and info on most gods in the game, including the Faerūnian pantheon and the Greek, Norse and Egyptian pantheons. A majority of them are grossly underpowered and badly built, ripe for having player parties kill them and steal their divine powers.
- The Planescape entity known as the Lady of Pain has no stats for this very reason. As the inscrutable ruler of Sigil who can flay an opponent with her shadow and keeps major gods at bay, she's not supposed to be taken down by a bunch of munchkins. The fans wouldn't have it any other way, to the degree that when the 3rd edition Planar Handbook statted her Character Alignment and nothing else it was met with disapproval.
- Writers for the Ravenloft setting split the difference with Gwydion, an Eldritch Abomination: they wrote up stats for his tentacles, but never give the heroes a chance to confront his actual, unstatted body.
- A fourth Edition Ritual called Loremaster's Bargain grants you an audience with one being with information that you need, often a deity or extraplanar being. Part of the ritual description states that they cannot be attacked or physically interacted with.
- The Tarrasque is designed to be the most powerful monster in the world - it's huge, it's strong, it regenerates any damage quickly, and it can't be permanently killed outside of a wish spell when it is at a negative hit point total. However, it can't fly, has no ranged attacks, and possesses no magic, making it easy pickings for any decent mid-to-high level group or monsters like dragons (which are, generally speaking, the most powerful monsters in the game due to their spellcasting abilities, ranged attacks, and ability to fly).
- The Tarrasque's claimed status as being The Dreaded has led players, combined with the relative easy of victory, to come up with creative ways to fight it. One thread on rpg.net described how the rules make it entirely possible to have a city capture the Tarrasque and use it as a neverending supply of food, since it'll always regrow what it loses.
- Pathfinder clarified that their Tarrasque was unkillable, period, even with wishes and instant death spells. It will always regen the damage eventually. Of course, making it someone else's problem is not out of the question.
- In contrast, all major characters in Eberron are quite killable, by design. The Lord of Blades, a major character in the setting, is only level 12. Vol, a being worshipped as a deity by thousands, is only level 16 with some templates. Of course, a level 12 3.5 character is still ridiculously strong by any reasonable standard; even the non-spellcasting classes at such levels are far beyond what a real human could achieve.
- Faerūn's major players are also mostly statted out. Though they're generally higher-level than Eberron's, they're not designed very well, being hastily converted from their AD&D stats. Evil adventuring parties tend to treat Faerūn like a big theme park full of low-hanging branches of XP.
- Achaekek the Mantis God has an ability which stops any mortal dealing him lethal damage... but it doesn't work in an anti-magic field.
- One of the vestiges the Binder class can augment themselves with is Chupoclops, a lampshade of (and possible posterchild for) this trope. Clearly inspired by the long history of the LBP in action among D&D players, this particular spirit is the shade of an unkillable creature from beyond space and time destined to be the harbinger of the apocalypse. Until a band of heros broke into the spirit world the gods had trapped it in and killed it. (by unspecified means probably involving multiple rings of three wishes, an epic level wizard/rogue/ranger/cleric/monk half-dragon pixie, and a bowl of lemon custard.) The universe had no clue how to handle this turn of events and so Chupoclop's spirit was sent to the same planar waiting room as the rest of the vestiges and its corpse remains ignored where it died, for all eternity or until someone figures out what to do with it.
- This is also part of the reason why most (if not all) of the monsters that had been Good-aligned in previous editions got reset to "Unaligned" at best in 4th edition: A creature doesn't need stats if you're not going to fight it, and why would your characters fight Good creatures (seeing as no DM in his/her right mind would allow an openly evil party).
- The crew at Pinnacle would recite the adage about statting things in the first edition of the books. They would refuse to stat certain characters in order to railroad people into sticking with the metaplot. Seems to have been reversed in the Reloaded release, though.
- The character Stone has no stats for this exact reason. In Deadlands Reloaded, he has stats, but takes no damage from anything other than a gun he fires himself, or the bullets that killed him the first time. Neither of which is going to happen.
- The module "Harlequin" refuses to stat the title elf, and explicitly calls this out as the reason. (Great Dragons, meanwhile, avoid the Postulate not by not having stats, but by having a mechanic in their stats that allows them to say The Battle Didn't Count, to appear dead but actually survive, and then destroy the PC party via manipulation from a place of complete safety.)
- Harlequin finally got statted in Steet Legends, which is full of stats of famous Runners. If you though Harlequin was tough, Gwynpaine is much worse. And unless you perform massive overkill, Harlequin will appear later and state he had a nap and may let you off seeing how you amused him.
- One of the Shadowrun developers used to recount an incident when a fan described how his party had set off a briefcase nuke the moment they met Harlequin, thereby sacrificing themselves to kill the unkillable. Their GM had let it work because "there was no way even Harlequin would be walking around with a custom anti-nuke protection spell." The developer responded that he would have ruled that knowing humanity the way he did and being the kind of guy he was, Harlequin would have dropped everything to create an anti-nuke protection spell about 10 min after the first test in 1945 and would not have let it lapse since then.
- As of the fifth edition, all dragons now have Edge and great dragons no longer have stats in the rulebook. There are guidelines for making them, however, but given how fierce a regular dragon is, the concept of fighting one, let alone getting away with it, is a pipe dream for most runners.
- Vampire: The Masquerade
- Berlin by Night features an appearance by Caine, the first vampire. "Don't expect statistics. Anyone foolish enough to tackle him is dead." It's not really Caine in the module, though, "just" a Ravnos Methuselah.
- The third edition of the book made sure to give all vampires of third generation and below at least one Plot Device power to keep the players from just killing them willy nilly. Which is amusingly inverted in the Time of Judgement, which has a couple of scenarios that go out of their way to give players ways to kill (or help kill) 3rd generation vampires (and Caine!) willy nilly.
- The "you lose" rule is also used in the LotR RPG to describe fighting Sauron.
- The older Middle-earth Role Playing gave statistics for Sauron in the Necromancer of Dol Guldur supplement. He's immensely powerful at 240th level (for comparison, Nazgul are 20th level in the original book or 40th in the supplements and Gandalf et al are 60th level), but since Middle-earth Role Playing has open ended rolls and instant-death criticals, even the lowliest hero could get lucky and kill him with a lucky combination of 96-100 attack rolls and a decent critical hit, assuming they could get into combat with him in the first place.
- Pendragon's combat system works on a basic d20 to hit. You have a skill, roll under it and you hit and between you and your opponent, the highest hit wins. Roll your skill exactly and you critical; A critical is better than a hit so it's possible to defeat someone of higher skill in a pass of arms with a critical even if their skill is higher and they roll a higher hit. When your skill reaches 21 you critical on both 20 and 1; 22 is 20, 1, and 2. Lancelot has a 40 skill with all weapons; he always hits and he always crits. Yet it is possible to beat him in a pass at arms and even in an entire fight (as happens once in the entire Morte d'Arthur). If you always crit higher than Lancelot's crit, you can damage him through his usually-amazing armor, his usually-present protection from God, and his slightly-superhuman hit points until he falls. Galahad is another story. Under Galahad, it reads, "Galahad wins."
- Call of Cthulhu
- Great Cthulhu has a stat block. Good luck. The first of the combat abilities of Cthulhu reads: "Each round 1D3 investigatorsnote are scooped up in Cthulhu's flabby claws to die hideously". Through Memetic Mutation, or perhaps from an earlier edition, this often gets quoted as "Cthulhu devours 1d6 investigators per round" or the like. Just seeing Cthulhu forces a character to lose 1d100 SAN (sanity) and the maximum SAN is 100, so do the math. If somehow you manage to kill Cthulhu, he just reforms a few minutes later, fully recovered. Nuke him and he comes back radioactive.
- And, of course, this didn't stop an annoyed player from screwing with his GM and managing to kill Hastur via lots of explosives.
- In the Cthulhu-based boardgame Arkham Horror, it is possible to have to fight and win fights against the Eldritch Abomination the players picked at the start of the game, including Cthulhu himself. The exception is Azathoth. While other bosses may have very nasty and complicated attacks listed on their sheet, Azathoth's attack description is simply this: "The end is here! Azathoth destroys the world."
- Rifts being Rifts, when it added "Pantheons of the Megaverse", the first thing many players tried to do was take on Odin, Ra, Marduk, or whoever was handy. But the book also described beings far more powerful with lines as succinct as "tick them off and it's time to roll up new characters." No stats or names were provided, but presumably the writers were referring to capital-G God and distinguishing Him from those wannabes on Olympus. (It also suggested that Game Masters didn't include Him in the campaign, since constant divine intervention makes the game kind of boring.)
- Full character stats for such in-universe celebrities as Erin Tarn and Emperor Prosek are presumably included in the game just so players can take a stab at offing them; named characters without stats are actually a minority.
- 7th Sea has one of its most infamous villains, Captain Reis, on the cover. He has stats. He's also nearly impossible to hit... with a sword. However, he doesn't wear armor and you can't block bullets. Shoot him and throw in all your drama dice and you can put a hole in his skull.
- In GURPS, it is impossible to kill anything with Unkillable 2 or 3. However, even if the GM gives an NPC one of these traits, player can still attempt to do any number of other nasty things to it, like mind controlling it or chopping off its arms, which kind of exemplifies this trope.
- Warhammer 40,000
- In older editions, Celestine the living saint had an ability which means that she can never be killed — rather, if you do, she would get back up. Players found multiple ways to kill her permanently using specific rules phrasing. In 7th edition, Celestine can be revived only once per game. note
- Dragons in Iron Kingdoms which are closer to Eldritch Abomination have such insanely high stats and powers that most parties wouldn't last a turn in a fight. However they still can be defeated (but not killed, only another dragon can kill one off for real.)
- In the New World of Darkness, it's directly stated that the Leviathan can't be killed or even stopped in any meaningful sense — the stats provided are solely for escaping it, or hurting (more like "annoying") it enough to drive it away temporarily. More generally, spirits or similar entities of Rank 6 or higher have no stats at all and are so much more powerful than playable characters that it is essentially impossible to harm them.
- Promethean: The Created notes that there is no significant way that any creature of this world can hope to damage an Arch-Qashmal. If it can even be bothered to retaliate, it can wipe out the players with a thought. The book that says this does, however, add that intrepid players can destroy it indirectly; all qashmallim are created to fulfill a specific goal, so if they can render its goal impossible, the Arch-Qashmal will cease to exist.
- In the webcomic Kid Radd (which plays with and lampshades a number of videogame tropes) the final boss of the game Mofo was supposed to be only vulnerable to a special ability none of the characters had. It turned out that he just had a lot of hit points and regenerated them each turn, which allowed the team to defeat him.
- In Homestuck, the leader of criminal gang The Felt is named Lord English, after a particular spin put on a cue ball in pool. Creator Andrew Hussie hadn't even heard about Lord British until later and, when he was informed about similarity between the names, decided to make Lord English apply to the Lord British Postulate, mentioning in a character's narration that he can only be killed by exploiting "numerous bugs and glitches in spacetime."
- This particular Retcon surprisingly fits very well within the Time Travel-related powers that the rest of The Felt possess.
- Eridan's NPCs in the Land of Wrath and Angels were supposed to be unkillable, but Eridan believed they were enemies and somehow managed to kill them all through sheer determination. Sheer determination and about a minute apiece of sustained fire from Ahab's Crosshairs.
- Unfortunately, after too much of this, they became hostile and actually did begin attacking him; how he managed to fight off and eventually kill the entire species is a mystery not explored by the comic.
- Karkat even mentions that the Angels didn't drop any loot so it was obvious they weren't supposed to be fought.
- This is Vriska's attitude towards Bec Noir the Omnicidal Maniac created when Becqueral prototyped himself, inadvertently giving the Kids version of Jack Noir (who had already gone insane) a massive power boost. Specifically she wants to be the one to personally kill him (despite how ungodly powerful he is) to "win" the game. Naturally it turns out that she massively underestimated his abilities and Terezi is forced to kill Vriska to keep her from leading Bec Noir to their hiding spot (which, in an alternate timeline, caused the deaths of all the Trolls).
- One of the oldest canons of the SCP Foundation is the long-running and often-disastrous attempt to kill SCP-682, an immortal hostile entity. These attempts have extended to the use of some of the most dangerous SCPs in containment. So far, only few stories manage to kill it. Notable are one that has 173 (the original SCP) multiply, other is drunk driving.
- Additionally, their guidelines on how to kill Physical God Reality Warpers involves a bit of this. They might be able to erase you from existence itself with a thought, but they're still limited by human intelligence - the trick is to come up with ways of killing them that they won't see coming.
- Discussed several times in Counter Monkey by Spoony, who has also described the Trope Namer in his Ultima Retrospective videos.
- In "All Jedi or No Jedi", he mentions having put a cameo of Darth Vader into a Star Wars roleplaying campaign just to add a bit of flavour, only for it to instantly derail as his players become obsessed with trying to kill Vader. Spoony refuses to let them and tries to nudge them into realizing it without stating it, but they still pursue Vader and end up being killed when he escapes and they're surrounded by enemies.
- In "Because He's There" and "If You Stat It, They Will Kill It" he criticizes the use of the D20 system for games involving entities like Cthulhu, because if the designers give something stats, inevitably the party will try to kill them. Even though they are such strong stats that it is almost impossible to actually defeat Cthulhu, and knowing he will just regenerate even if they somehow do, players will still always try because of this trope.
- Similarly, "Thou Shalt Not Fuck with the Lady of Pain" details a Planescape campaign where a player tried to pull a fast one on the Lady by using a mis-remembered racial ability of the Minotaur to easily escape her Maze spell. Spoony's response: make the "maze" a 100 million mile-long hallway that'll take a million years to escape, even with that ability.
- Spoony spoofed this with the original Lord British himself, Richard Gariott! As his "Avatar" self, he tries to attack Lord British, who doesn't even notice he's being attacked.
- NationStates is a political simulator played largely by answering political issues twice a day. That it has a combat system at all is an example of this trope.