"A foe with no known superpowers, who somehow survives being crushed by a car not once...not twice...but four f***ing times!"
Damage is frequently done to characters that should hurt or incapacitate them, but is easily shaken off. Nobody ever breaks a rib or other bones unless that specific broken bone becomes important later on
This isn't Super Toughness
, where the character is
supernaturally protected from harm. This is the ability to shrug off blows that would disintegrate a human body when you technically shouldn't be able to do so. Robots, Mutants, Mages, Ki using Martial Artists
, etc. do not count.
Having a story-enabled reason for not being a bloody smear immediately takes one out of the running for this trope.
Certain Required Secondary Powers
may also induce this and it is particularly true for Super Hero
characters to have "increased strength and endurance" in their portfolio, even if never outright explained or stated. How else can someone whose sole power is throwing flame
take being thrown off a multi-story building as no big deal? The line gets fuzzy between Badass Normal
and Charles Atlas Superpower
where somehow a "normal" person has become invulnerable to the effects of Real Life
by willing themselves uninjured
. Modern special effects are somewhat to blame for this, as they frequently up the forces involved to look more dramatic. This sometimes approaches cartoon-esque extremes, such as a person getting smashed through concrete or brick walls
and being able to get right back up again with only negligible injury.
By extension, blunt damage, concussions
, and other side effects of "non-lethal" fights or a Tap on the Head
never have unintended fatal consequences — death can only happen with intentionally-lethal weapons, like swords or guns. Even with normally-lethal weapons
, the hero may intentionally inflict flesh wounds
instead of shooting to kill.
This trope also enables our hero to take a bullet in some critical area (chest, shoulder, etc) and continue to fight as though nothing had happened
, even if they should be Overdrawn at the Blood Bank
It makes you wonder why, for all the supposed beatings they have received themselves over the course of a show, the hero/heroine never suffers any long-term scarring or lasting physical injury
. One especially tenacious example is the lack of punch drunkenness. Indeed, unrealistic lack of damage from head injuries leads to the widely prevalent subtrope: Hard Head
Punch-drunk boxers are the classic real-life example of what happens to someone who takes repeated pummeling damage in many fights year after year. However, the American National Football League presents a better sampling. To survive more than a couple of seasons in the league is a guarantee of a lifetime of painful, lingering damage to battered joints, bones, and connective tissues. That life is also going to be about ten years shorter than that of the average adult American. The heart and body organs build up scar tissue likely to fail when the athlete is in his fifties and sixties. This condition is known as Dented Iron
Between them, Made of Iron
and Hollywood Healing
cover the two main varieties of action hero — the Terminator-type
that can walk unscathed through a bomb-blast, and the hero who does
get hurt badly but somehow always comes back to triumph in the end.
The polar opposite of this is Made of Plasticine
. A character who doesn't just shrug off extreme damage, but doesn't sustain any damage at all, is Made Of Diamond
, a subset of Nigh-Invulnerability
. Characters who are Made of Iron, if they die at all, often die Rasputinian Deaths
. If two Made of Iron characters go up against each other, it often leads to How Much More Can He Take
fights. Not to be confused with Maid of Iron
A character who is Made of Iron isn't necessarily literally made
. If he happens to sink in water and die as if he were, that's Super Drowning Skills
If a person has this kind of durability as a superpower, it's Super Toughness
. When the character does
sustain grisly, incapacitating injuries but keeps going anyway, it's Normally, I Would Be Dead Now
See also; Charles Atlas Superpower
, as being Made of Iron
is one of its more common effects.
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- In the Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans crossover fic A Shadow Of The Titans, Jade lampshades how tough the Titans and other inhabitants of the TT world are. Subverted with Kitten, who foolishly insults Jade in the Tournament of Villainesses, hitting a Beserk Button and causing her to get blasted by the Dragon Talisman, nearly killing her and giving Jade an My God, What Have I Done? moment (she lampshades the inconsistency).
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen Of All Oni by the same author, this version of Jade has increased strength, a Healing Factor, and increased durability after her transformation, and has been thrown through walls and down hills and gotten right back up afterwards (she claims she DOES bruise, but it can't be seen against her skin).
- Shadow from Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, who at one point survives several blasts of fire, the Scream Horn, and several lasers from the heroes.
- Clash of the Elements: Alex Whiter has a ridiculous record of getting hit with attacks that would kill any normal human, which is a bit crazy considering that in spite of his flight he only has an above-average level of strength. Of course, when one takes into considering his Determinator status...
- The two best examples of this trope in You Got HaruhiRolled! are Haruhi surviving a blimp crashing on her, and Kyouko surviving get thrown under a trolley, much to Sasaki's annoyance.
- In Toy Hammer, you would think Mike would kill two dozen of the miniature soldiers a day just walking though his house, and that any of the scouts trying to hide in his handbag would get liquefied in a matter of seconds. You'd be wrong.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Dark Kuyumaya is able to take such things as being impaled by Sinister Scythes, having his blood drained by a crazed Tsukune, and having his fingers broken and his leg shredded by Ceal, and keep on going like nothing happened. He even outright says he has a high pain tolerance.
- In the fanfic Tails of the Old Republic, a crossover/ Fusion Fic between Sonic the Hedgehog and the videogame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Tails the fox averts his usual One-Hit-Point Wonder status even without Power Rings, and takes damage like anyone else. However, he can take a crapload of damage nonetheless, surviving even getting torn to shreds by a rakghoul swarm and even getting eaten by a rancor monster!
- The fanmade Death Battle Mario vs Link has Link taking a pounding for most of the fight thanks to Mario's various power-ups, but still has enough strength to kill Mario and win the fight win Mario runs out of power-ups.
- Astorath the Prince of Darkness from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is called the Lord of Battle for a reason. During his battle with Sonic in Episode 66, he gets hit full-blast by the Sonic Driver, takes a barrage from the Blue Typhoon's lasers, nearly blinded by Cream and Cheese, and then Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on a field of rock spikes. All it does is make him angry. JustifiedTrope as the Nephilim have both extreme strength and a strong Healing Factor.
- The Twilight Child: The main character is capable of taking several beatings, despite by all indication being a regular Unicorn. She gets knocked off a building, and lands incredibly hard. It barely phases her. She gets kicked through a door and into a wall. She just gets right back up again to fight the guards who kicked her. She gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that outright breaks several bones. She heals what she can and ignores the rest. Then she gets hit by a blast of magic capable of knocking out Princess Celestia. It doesn't completely kill her, but it does render her Only Mostly Dead. The fact that her mother is Twilight Sparkle might have some hand in this.
Films — Animation
- In The Book of Life, thanks to the Medal of Everlasting Life, Joaquin has invincibility.
- Gru from Despicable Me. He was able to survive the rockets and missiles from Vector's base, with the exception that he's completely covered with ash.
- Nigel from Rio.
- First he accidentally flies into a transformer (which causes the whole city to plunge into a blackout) with only some burnt feathers and the sparks shocking him as he flies off.
- After the climax, although he survived the turbines of the smuggler's plane, he lost most of his feathers and was made fun by the marmosets.
- Kent Mansley of The Iron Giant is always getting bashed into things but manages to pop back up again. Maybe he's just that serious about stopping the robot.
- Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas manages to get shot down by anti-aircraft flak guns without being blown to pieces. This could be justified, however, by the coffin sleigh taking most of the blow. However, this does not explain how at least a mile-high fall onto a stone angel didn't break any of his bones (the impact from the fall did seem to be strong enough to knock off his jawbone, however). This all still could be justified by the fact that Jack's undead, so he would not feel pain, if it weren't for an earlier scene where Sally accidentally pokes Jack's finger with a needle, and he yelps in pain. It's a little confusing.
- The Fox and the Hound: Tod, a 13lb fox, takes multiple hits from a 1200lb bear, and takes a plummet off a waterfall with said bear. He lived. The bear didn't.
- The Proclaimers in the video for "There's a Touch", who walk away only moderately harmed from falling a lethal height off a building, getting hit by a car, and having a helicopter land right on top of them. One of them has his trouser leg set on fire at the end of it, but he continues walking away ignoring it.
- Because he personifies most bruiser tropes, it's no surprise that Popeye was Made of Iron back when he got his start on Thimble Theatre. In his first few story arcs, Popeye takes some brutal beatings and manages to come out on top. When in one fight he takes several handgun rounds in the gut, he manages to still win the fight before passing out. In the hospital, in addition to the bullets that put him there, knife blades, tips of pool cues and many, many other indications that you should see the other guy.
- The animated cartoons take this even further. Bullets bounce off him.
- In This Is War, Dragons, Angels are Demons all embody this trope, no-selling pretty much everything that comes their way, while many other species are somewhat more this than puny humans
- Olympic skier Hermann Maier's spectacular crash at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. High winds caused an unintentional ski jump. He flew through the air, hit the ground headfirst at 70 miles per hour, bounced, tumbled, and smashed through two wire-and-slat fences before coming to a stop. And then he picked himself up and walked back up the hill, rubbing his shoulder (he also had a minor leg injury). A few days later, he won gold medals in two events. A news article about the event began with the words, "The Tough Man contest is over. Forever. The winner is Hermann Maier." And he almost lost his leg after a traffic accident but continues to win — his nickname "Herminator" is well deserved.
- Hockey player Gordie Howe was said to get a goal, an assist, and a fight in every game. He continued playing in the NHL into his fifties, even through its notoriously violent era, long enough to play with his grown sons. After his retirement, he even suited up for a charity game in the minors, whereupon a local radio DJ offered a large cash prize to any player on the opposing team who fought Howe, by then in his seventies. No-one was stupid enough to take up the offer.
- In a similar vein, Toronto Maple Leaf Bobby Baun scored the game winning goal of game six of the 1963-1964 Stanley Cup finals after sustaining a broken ankle earlier in the game.
- This classical fencing article discusses how unreliable a sword-inflicted wound could be in ending a duel.
- Jake Brown, 2007 X Games skateboard contender, lost control of his board and fell 45 feet to the deck below (clip is here). After a dazed few minutes, he got up and was able to walk out under his own power.
- George Chuvalo, a former heavyweight boxer, was known to have one of the toughest chins in history. He faced some of the most devastating punchers in history and was never knocked down as a professional in 93 fights (his two technical knockout losses came when the referee stopped the fights). In fact in his fight against George Foreman (a man whose punch normally sends mere mortals to the moon), Chuvalo complained to the referee after the fight was stopped.
- Though both have become more vulnerable as they've aged, Mark Hunt and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira were each known for this. Hunt was known for shrugging off life-threatening strikes as mere annoyances, while Nogueira was known for taking immense amounts of punishment, but still somehow managing to not only survive, but to win.
- Bert Trautmann, football (soccer) goalkeeper active in the 1950s. During the 1956 FA Cup Final, he was injured in a collision with an opponent. With 17 minutes to go, and no substitutes allowed, he shook off the injury and continued. He saved several goals, preserving his team's lead and helping to win the match. The injury? Merely a broken neck.
- Jack Youngblood played the entire 1979 playoffs and Super Bowl, AND the meaningless Pro Bowl game with a broken tibula. Because of this, he was called “the John Wayne of football”.
- Steve Yzerman played on essentially on one leg due to having a blown out right knee during the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs.
- He didn't just show up in his uniform and serve as a backup, either. He was The Captain of the eventual champion Detroit Red Wings that year, and was the second-leading scorer of the entire tournament with 23 points in 23 games.
- Donovan McNabb played on a broken ankle for most of a 2002 regular season game.
- Fedor Emilianenko vs. Kevin Randleman. Fedor got hit with possibly the most perfect suplex in history, impacting the mat with all of his own weight plus all of Randleman's weight directly onto his spinal column. He calmly turned around and made Randleman tap out.
- Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre set an NFL record by starting 297 consecutive games (321 including playoffs). He also was sacked an NFL record 525 times during his career and played through numerous injuries, including sprained ankles, sprained knees, concussions, a separated shoulder, and a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Despite all of this, his various backups virtually never saw the field until they moved on to other teams; Favre failed to finish merely 8 games due to injury during the streak.
- Jacob Starr of Survival of the Fittest is (in)famous for this trope, to the point of handlers referring to its use as "The Jacob Treatment". The character in question, over the course of his tenure on the island, was hit by arrows, burned, shot, cut and stabbed, all without seeming to flinch or even lose any mobility.
- V3's Rick Holeman also took an absurd amount of injuries before dying. These included getting shot in the chest while still being able to run right over to his attacker, knock her over and starting to beat her down. All the while being stabbed with a knife - then he survived long enough to deliver some last words before finally kicking the bucket.
- Justified in Broken Saints: Gabriel, The Dragon, can handle the pain of his spear wound so easily because he been genetically engineered to have enhanced physical endurance, among other attributes.
- Usually averted in the Whateley Universe, even if it is a comic book universe. Even the Nigh Invulnerable characters get injured. Lancer is a Flying Brick, and in his combat final, he got a dislocated shoulder that sent him to the hospital. He still won, though. Phase seems to be in dire need of her roommate's healing salves on a regular basis.
- Randall Octagonapus of The Lazer Collection 3 survives falling from the roof of a tall building and with no reaction other than "Ugh... I'm fine... but this is personal."
- The most obvious example from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe would be The Shield, whose only superpower was a complete and total immunity to being injured. It didn't matter what you used on him... his power would let him survive it uninjured. Bullets? He laughed at bullets. Drowning? Sorry, can't drown, though he doesn't quite breathe water in those circumstances. Having a skyscraper collapse on top of him? Granted, he'd get bored waiting for you to dig him out, but in the meantime he'd be fine. Exposure to vacuum? Doesn't faze him. Drop him to the ground from orbit? Been there, done that.
- The superheroic Stuntman from the same setting is an interesting variation. His powers revolve around luck rather than simply being immune to injury, so as a result he gets banged up all the time... but never as badly as he should be. Stuntman once was thrown from the roof of a twelve story building, and through a series of lucky breaks and coincidental events managed to walk away from it with a skinned knee and a twisted ankle.
- Infinity is amazingly hard to hurt as well because of her mutation. Her bones are made of metal and her musculature is far more dense than normal flesh. She gets hurt all the time, but it takes a lot to do it.
- Anvil is literally Made of Iron. Imagine Colossus of the X-Men, except permanently transformed and iron instead of steel.
- Darwins Soldiers has a surprising amount of Made of Iron characters.
- Pelvanida experiments are extremely hard to kill.
- Alfred shrugged off at least two point blank gut shots from a pistol and continued engaging Marcus in a fist fight.
- Marcus is an ordinary human Dragonstorm agent. He was capable of taking on two beings with Super Strength, even after he had been punched several times by them.
- Corbin from Splinter Cell: Extinction gets surrounded by a SWAT team, sedated, takes a Magic Antidote, his Mission Control provides him a distraction via Hollywood Hacking that leads to a Darkened Building Shootout, Corbin gets shot in the chest while totally murdering everyone in the room, then beats the crap out of four more armed commandos and escapes.
- The Nostalgia Chick can get her head exploded and only need happy pills to cure the minor headache she got.
- Marik Plays Bloodlines. While Marik was in the wrong crowd's house, one interrupts his Badass Boast. All the other wrong crowd members got down within 2-3 hits, this particular one got hit 16 times total by a Bat-wielding-Vampire!
- In Worm, Skitter. Her sheer toughness is demonstrated on several occasions, but the most vivid demonstration comes in 19.2 when she walks up to a hero who uses his power to sort-of cure her, a power which as a side effect transfers her injuries to him. She was prepared to fight without healing, but Tattletale convinces her to go through with it anyway. Afterwards, the hero needs the help of two people just to stand.
- Grif from ''Red VS Blue. He is repeatedly shot and killed by Sarge and others, to the point of almost being a Running Gag, but always appears alive and fine later on. He's even survived a shot from a tank with no ill effects.
- SCP-682 could be the ultimate example. Experiments have exposed him to all kinds of weapons and chemical agents. Then they started siccing other SCP on it: Nigh Invulnerable and literally invulnerable predators, lethal quantities of infectious poisons, acids, and objects that alter the very laws of the universe. And it keeps.Coming.Back.