Hey, that guy is going to Mind Control
you or try to fool you with an illusion! Maybe, if you focus and struggle against his power, you can — !
Normally in fiction, powers have some chance of failure, whether through lack of skill, Heroic Willpower
on the part of the would-be victim, or some other factor
that does not make the power 100% effective. But some powers are such that they work automatically if they hit, regardless of any special defenses, resistances, or countermeasures the person on the receiving end may have. You can't see through the illusion
, you can't cure the poison
, you can't resist the mind control
, people hit by the Disintegrator Ray
die instantly 100% of the time no matter how important they are.
The Trope Namer
here is Dungeons & Dragons
, where normally, harmful effects such as mind-controlling magic, dragon breath, illusions, or other supernatural nastiness allows the character affected to make a saving throw of the dice to negate or minimize the effect. Some spells and effects, unfortunately, such as the Level Drain
ability of a wraith, do NOT allow a saving throw to be made against them: if the move hits at all, it hits full effect
, end of story. In more modern editions of the game, these effects almost always have a chance to miss instead.
Contrast Always Accurate Attack
. Complete opposite of No Sell
. May overlap with Evil Is Not a Toy
. See also Unblockable Attack
. Compelling Voice
is a Sub-Trope
of this. As would Gameplay and Story Segregation
in certain cases.
Do not confuse with Author's Saving Throw
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Anime And Manga
- Geasses in general work like this in Code Geass. The only thing that even has a chance of countering one is another Geass, but that's more of a case of bypassing some aspect of their Geass, like a telepath not being able to read something that the target doesn't know about, or thinking that something is true because their target believes it is. A Code Bearer seems to have some ability, but it's not elaborated on, or Jeremiah's Geass Canceller, which also has no saving throw, but that's like how healing spells don't.
- There are two exceptions to this: In the first season, Euphemia manages to resist for a moment, which Lelouch later deduces was because the command was just so completely against every facet of her character. In the second, Nunnally also manages to break out of a geass; her father's artificially-induced blindness, but that took years.
- There's also that it may be that Charles is dead at this point, and that his ability is not blindness, with that particular one being a side-effect of some sort and said character's never being said to recover from the actual affliction.
- Happens in Dragon Ball GT during the Super #17 arc. Regular #17 is being mind controlled by a second version of himself, and attacks #18, his sister. Krillin tries to bring him out, and he nearly goes back to normal before the other #17 enters his mind again and makes him shake off the good influence, at which point he kills Krillin instead.
- This is the reason Aizen's Zanpukutou in Bleach is considered overpowered. If you've seen his sword, he's hypnotized you and can control all your senses as he pleases. It's essentially permanent, undetectable, and it's not even the final form of his sword.
- Tsukishima from the Full Bring Arc has a similarly broken power, he inserts himself into the past of anything he cuts. For a person, this could mean anything from, "Tsukishima is my best friend forever and I don't want to fight him," to "Tsukishima has known me for a long time, therefore he knows all my powers and weaknesses." All it takes is a nick, and it's in effect.
- It still fails against Byakuya because the latter considers his honour-debt to Ichigo more important than anything else. He therefore kills Tsukishima while acknowledging that he was the most important person in his life. His actual method for killing him was something he invented during the battle, after Tsukishima used his ability to learn all of Byakuya's existing techniques.
- There's also Barragan's deathly aura. As Sui Feng found out the hard way, anything it touches will decay unto dust, and like the Amaterasu example below, the only way to stop it is to cut off the afflicted body part. Indeed, his skill was so far into this trope that it allowed him to be Hoist by His Own Petard when the attack was turned against him.
- The Mangekyo Sharingan's Amaterasu attack in Naruto works like this. Everything in its range catches fire, and there's no way for the fire to be put out... ever. If it gets on you, the only way to stop it is to sever that limb. Really, a lot of other effects of the Mangekyo work in this manner (almost exclusively among Genjutsu-type attacks in the series) in that there's really no resisting their ability to penetrate your consciousness. This no-saving-throw nature of the Mangekyo is what leads the main villains to their ultimate plan.
- Once your name is written in the Death Note, you're going to die. No exceptions.
- Even in the original manga there was one exception - the Note can only target humans in a specific if broad age range. (The story just never includes anyone old enough or young enough to be immune.) This trope applies in that once the Note is going to kill you, the basic fact of your death is unavoidable.
- In the first book of The Dresden Files, nothing can protect you from the Big Bad's lightning-powered heart-ripping spell. Except, of course, striking first.
- The RPG rulebook clarifies that this is the result of the absurd amount of powernote in the spell, measured in shifts of power. A typical "attack" spell used in combat can have between 3-10, which can kill, but the target has the chance to mitigate it or negate it via his defensive roll and taking consequences instead. The heart-exploding spell generated over 35 shifts, which is enough to simply overwhelm each and every way a character can mitigate damage.
- The rules for a lethal Entropy Curse are similar, in that to avoid it, you'd have to roll somewhere in the mid 20s to dodge the "attack," with a skill that likely maxes out at 5, and dice that on their best roll will only add a +4.
- All that said, the RPG book is explicit and insistent in averting this trope inasmuch as you always get a defense roll. Some tactics might effectively reduce or augment the defense roll, and in situations such as the Entropy curse a defense roll might, in fact, be meaningless, but you always get the chance to defend.
- Most spells in the Harry Potter series seem to work this way; the Imperius curse is a notable exception that a strong-willed person can shrug off, as Harry learns to do.
- There is also a basic spell that can protect from some others, but notably not from the Killing Curse.
- Really, nothing can. Except for love. Or a physical object. And even for love to protect you requires a specific series of events that would be rather difficult to intentionally duplicate and that no decent person would ever want to duplicate.
- There's also a very evil form of ritual magic that can be used to survive the Killing Curse, but part of you would still die and what's left would be something less than fully human even when (or rather if) you recover your physical form.
- In The Wheel of Time, balefire is this. Anything it hits- whether that be a physical object, a person, a city- will be instantly and irrevocably erased from existence. The only way to survive is to dodge it or kill the person making it before they let loose.
- In Xanth, this trope is the reason the Magician Trent is considered so dangerous before his Heel-Face Turn. His Baleful Polymorph powers work on everyone, period. When he tries to use them against Bink, who has permanent Anti-Magic, the only possible counters the antimagic can create are for Trent to miss or to hit something else, and it has to cause increasingly implausible events in order to blog Trent's attacks. The transformation magic is that powerful, there's no defense against actually getting hit. Notably, this is the first time Bink's antimagic is ever forced to reveal its own existence in order to protect him from magical harm; for his entire life up to that point it had operated subtly enough that nobody even suspected Bink had a magical ability.
Live Action Television
- In the Power Rangers Turbo movie, when Kimberly and Jason were Brainwashed and Crazy they tried The Power of Friendship which had a very minimal effect, and the only solution was some magic from the local wizard.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Picard in "The Best of Both Worlds" told the Borg hive he would fight them with all his strength. The Borg replied "Strength is irrelevant." In the follow-up episode after the two-parter, Picard tearfully confessed that he was completely helpless.
- In Tsukihime and Kara no Kyoukai, if someone bearing the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception hits you in your point of death, you die. Doesn't matter if you can reincarnate, you are a gestalt entity of 666 different beasts that ordinarily have to all be killed at the same moment, you can locally reverse time to instantly repair any damage done to you, the world itself actively works to sustain your continued existence, or if you aren't even alive to begin with, you die. Period. At best, you can hold on for about thirty seconds if you've lived for a really long time before this. The only way it can fail is if the target's "concept of death" is too alien for the person with the Eyes to comperehend, in which case the result is instead a No Sell. The extraterrestrial ORT is by Word of God an example of this.
- In at least one timeline, Shiki had to fight a creature with no point of death. He still killed it by giving it a point of death.
Actual games and references to games
- Warhammer 40,000 has many weapons that bypass Armor Saves and a few ones that bypass Invulnerable Saves. The wording on one of these attacks simply states that the affected model is "removed from play with no saves of any kind allowed".
- Warhammer tends not to have outright remove-from-play spells, instead using spells that require rolls against characteristics not typically used for resisting damage (often Initiative); of these the much-maligned Purple Sun of Xereus (stays on the table and moves randomly, everything in its path must save on Initiative or die) is probably the most famous.
- Warhammer 40,000 has since jumped on the "unorthodox saves" bandwagon with Fifth edition Blood Angels and Necron codexes.
- The Tomb Kings as of Eighth Edition have a unit that can hit a target's Initiative instead of their regular stats. The attack is at Strength 1, but it ignores saves - and if it hits, you turn to sand. No coming back from that. In the Battle Report that introduced them, they took out an entire unit (squad with 20+ members) this way.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- If you are level 4 or below in Rules Cyclopedia Dungeons & Dragons, if someone casts a Sleep spell upon you, you're as good as sleeping, as it doesn't give you a saving throw against it. If you don't have any friends to protect you or wake you up when you're under the spell's influence, you're pretty much at the mercy of whoever cast the spell on you, as anyone can use a bladed weapon to kill you instantly no matter how many HP you have.
- As mentioned above, the Level Drain attacks of many undead do not allow a saving throw, except for special circumstances.
- Do not look at a Catoblepas straight in the eyes unless you want to die.
- Do not touch a Sphere of Annihilation unless you want to be blasted out of existence. Notably, an upgraded and sentient version (the Blackball) released to fight characters of level 38+ (out of a possible 20) was still less scary, since it allowed an (admittedly, very difficult) save.
- In the 1st edition, a Nightcrawler's sting attack has a 1 in 8 chance of killing a character outright, without a saving throw.
- The only defense against Holy Word and its sister spells (Dictum, Word of Chaos, and Blasphemy) are being a high enough level, spell resistance (which is not quite the same as a saving throw), and having the right alignment.
- The Power Word spells' success is based on how many hitpoints the target has. If you're too tough, it's a No Sell, but if you're not, it's No Saving Throw.
- 3rd edition contains the spell Cloudkill, which summons a cloud of gas which, on contact, kills everything level 3 or lower, no save required.
- Forcecage traps a creature inside it with no saving throw or spell resistance, keeping them trapped unless they have magical means of escape.
- And, of course, the old standby Magic Missile. Automatically hits, bypassing armor and damage reduction, allows no save, hits even incorporeal creatures. The tradeoff is that it doesn't do very much damage. And there are a few spells that can block it.
- Mutants & Masterminds second edition has No Saving Throw as a extra you can apply to one of your powers. When the power resolves, the target is treated as though they failed their saving throw by one point. For damage effectsnote this results only in Scratch Damage. But for Save-Or-Lose effects like Mind Control, Transform, or Power Control, this ability becomes a Game Breaker. It's typically reserved for NPC Villains.
- A different example from the same game is the Perception range commonly seen on mental powers. While not a literal example (as the target is still allowed a Saving Throw), it automatically hits any target the user can perceive. A Perception Range power with the No Saving Throw modifier is unavoidable and irresistible unless you can find some way to avoid being seen.
- In GURPS 4e the radiation rules are almost a parody of this. A very large dose of rads still lets you roll to resist but all the results, including a critical success, are death.
- Generally speaking, any videogame attack that inflicts a One-Hit Kill. It may not hit very often, but when it does...
- In The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising, there's another literal example. Two PC's encounter a death demon, and his compelling fear aura is so powerful they can't roll high enough to resist so the DM assumed that they were compelled. However, the Rules Lawyer says that on a 20 any action is an automatic success, and insists on rolling... a 1. He becomes completely compelled.
- The most basic magical attacks from the wizard's staves in Dragon Age: Origins can't be run away from, regardless of the target's defences. On the downside, their damage is not that high, and it's impossible to land a Critical Hit with a staff.
- In Magic: The Gathering, spells with Split Second prevent almost all possible responses from even being attempted, so anything you could normally do to save the target doesn't work. Uncounterable spells could also count, since countering a spell is sometimes the only way of stopping it.