You're fighting your opponent in armed combat, and you lay a finishing move across his neck with your Absurdly Sharp Blade
. The announcer declares your victory: "Knockout!"
— Wait, what?
A character in a fighting game is not "dead"; he's just... unconscious
... even though you've been hitting him with a sword for 30 seconds... and broken both his arms... and impaled
him on your blade before kicking him off at least twice. For that matter, why are you
still alive, after being whacked in the head with his axe a few times? It seems all that stuff saying you should Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight
was complete baloney. (Well, except for the not dying part.)
Compare Strong Flesh, Weak Steel
, As Lethal as It Needs to Be
and Made of Iron
. Contrast Nerf Arm
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Anime and Manga
- Played with a bit in an episode of Slayers. Zelgadis tries to knock someone out by hitting him with the blunt side of his sword, then remembers too late that his sword is double-edged… This was a parody of Escaflowne, where such confusion didn't happen.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin has a reverse blade sword made specifically so he can stun or knock out opponents with it to keep his vow that he'll never kill again. How he doesn't cause severe crushing wounds is better left unasked. He nearly does at one point, but the hilt proved to be weaker than the man he was fighting at that point and gave way, dampening much of the impact.
- The Mahora Festival arc of Mahou Sensei Negima! ended with a giant fight between the student body and an army of killer robots firing guns and Wave Motion Beams. At first, their weapons only served as stripper rays, but eventually they were upgraded to hurl whoever they hit forward in time to after the battle, effectively taking them out of the fight without killing them.
- When Allen's Innocence in D.Gray-Man is upgraded to a BFS, it works this way against Noah, hurting only the Noah part of the victim but leaving the human part intact.
- In Tenchi Muyo GXP, Seiryo Tennan knocks out Tarant Shank with a single stroke of his lightsaber. He then says not to worry, that he'd hit him with the flat side of the blade. Fellow Space Pirate Kyo Komachi is openly confused, because energy blades don't have a flat side.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid introduces the DSAAnote Contact System, which lets Device users safely deal non-fatal and non-permanent damage to one another while still receiving simulated battle injuries for strong hits through "Crash Emulate". This allows participants of the Inter-Middle Championship to use swords, claws, and other normally fatal weapons without accidentally bisecting or decapitating their fellow competitors.
- Fairy Tail has Erza Scarlet, capable of summoning all sorts of armor and weapons, who will unleash storms of blades at her opponents without spilling any blood at all.
- Musashi Gundoh does this literally, with the protagonist wielding an electric stun sword along with a gun full of "sleeping bullets".
- In Pokémon Special, Viola shoves Y out of the way of an attacking Honedge and merely gets knocked out with nothing more than a nasty bruise on her head. Considering that Honedge are living swords, the top half of Viola's head should have been sliced off.
- Justified by Marvel Comics' Black Knight. He sometimes uses a photonic sword which cuts through inanimate objects like a solid blade would, but acts like a high-powered taser when used on humans.
- In Teen Titans, Robin once gave Ravager a pair of literal "stun swords" so she could use her otherwise very lethal fighting techniques to the fullest without actually killing anybody.
- Conspicuously inverted in the Alcatraz Series, where swords are one of the very few weapons that don't have a stun setting.
Live Action TV
- The Jidai Geki drama Abarenbou Shougun makes an important plot point out of this. Our titular hero has to storm the castle and bring someone in, resulting in him using the dull edge of his katana for a series of nonlethal takedowns. This has turned into a Stock Shout-Out of sorts, to the extent that the actor, Ken Matsudaira, makes an appearance in the Kamen Rider OOO movie just to do this... despite not actually fighting humans.
- Dungeons & Dragons had several iterations of this across its several editions.
- The 1st edition Monster Manual had a rule specifically for dragons that allowed players to try subduing them rather than killing them.
- 2nd edition featured an optional rule that allowed standard weapons to do nonlethal damage (normally the province of unarmed combat and a few particular weapons) in exchange for an attack penalty, since you're purposely using your weapon wrong in order to not seriously harm your enemy.
- 3rd edition has the same rule. It also extends to inflicting lethal damage with nonlethal weapons (such as saps and non-monk unarmed strikes), justified by needing to seek out the most vital regions to strike.
- 4th edition finally simplified it all by allowing a player to declare whether a monster is killed or unconscious when reducing its hit points to zero, even if this was done with an explosion or disintegrate spell. Just let the players make up a reason for why it works.
- Alchemical Exalted can install a Charm that allows them to keep all members of their unit alive in a war, despite damage done to a unit. An upgrade — the Riot-Dispersion Attack submodule — allows them to extend this benefit to the enemy unit they're attacking. Lunars, on the other hand, have a Subduing the Honored Foe Charm that ensures that they only cause bashing damage — even if they wields First Age chainsaw katana while being a 12-feet tall man-beast monstrosity.
- Mayfair Games' DC Heroes RPG featured two styles of gaming, one "gritty and realistic", and the other more in keeping with the Silver Age mentality where nobody dies. This is spoofed in one of the modules where the characters are left at ground zero of a nuclear explosion, but it's all okay because of the game mode!
- Hero Clix characters are KOd at the end of their dials. It doesn't matter what you're using on them, from powers named "Blades/Claws/Fangs" or "Big Uzi" or even "Death Comes Swiftly", whatever it is that hits you, it just knocks you out.
- Cheapass Games features Spree, a game where looters with guns raid a mall for the best presents this Christmas. Being shot only makes you "fall down." You get up shortly thereafter. There are no health meters or character wounds.
- The Dresden Files stipulates that any Taken Out result has the player who won the exchange getting to decide how this plays out, meaning any kind of attack can be non-lethal, though given the abstract nature of the game's mechanics, a fireball taking out someone non-lethally can be something like the target dodging but running into something and getting knocked out, or they're forced into surrender.
- One of the less known jokes for Warhammer 40,000 is that no matter how the models died, they are going home. Yes, even from being made swiss cheese, exploded, incinerated or vaporized from a plasma shot.
- Games in the Soul Calibur series. Soul Calibur 3 is an especially bad offender, considering that Sigfried uses an incredibly large sword, and is frequently seen to drive the pointy end directly into an opponent's skull, yet sometimes after a match, he remarks, "I avoided your vitals. You'll live."
- Not only that, but any throw would be fatal. Any throw. And yet, it takes roughly six or seven to "K.O." your opponent (and sometimes more than that). To clarify, Siegfried/Nightmare (either or both, depending on the game) throws his opponent by ramming his 6 foot long, 2 foot wide BFS straight through the opponent's body, lifting them into the air, and slamming them to the floor. Ouch. Of course, this is only the most over-the-top ones. The more subtle ones involve simply snapping the opponent's neck.
- The cake goes to Ivy Valentine in II — her throw from behind involves wrapping her bladed whip around her opponent's neck, kicking them to their knees, and stomping on their back, causing their spine to very audibly snap. Then they get back up and fight.
- Taki has one by the same virtue. One of her throws has her grab her opponent by the neck and shove her sword straight through their neck clear to the other side.
- Or Raphael, who stabs his opponent roughly 10 times in the chest.
- Actually averted by Guest Fighter Link, whose most oft used throw is just a painful (and overly flashy) arm twist. It proves to be one of the most lethal anyway.
- In other words, Siegfried is saying there's nothing vital in our heads.
- A particularly bad example has to be the lightsabers in IV. They're shown clashing with swords, despite being shown in the films to cut through almost anything.
- Battle Arena Toshinden
- Star Wars games are often examples, as lightsabers do only a small amount of damage with each strike, despite being used to cut through metal several times.
- Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II nicely avoided this problem, though, making the lightsaber nearly a Disc One Nuke. Hit anything with the saber (Well, anything smaller than a truck), and it goes down.
- Later Dark Forces games — Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy — went back to the usual patheticness, but a simple and popular *.cfg option restored the instant deadliness of a lightsaber. Even grazing an unshielded character, whether you were attacking or not, would sever limbs, heads, or torsos on contact. Best of all, this applied to the player too, so while Mooks became much easier, battles against multiple Dark Jedi became much more challenging.
- Jedi Academy multiplayer servers use house rules when dealing with lightsaber damage. Occasionally, one will find a server where damage behaves just like one would expect a condensed plasma stream to behave. For extra simulation, there is a dismemberment-on-death flag that can be toggled in the *.cfg file.
- The lightsabers in Star Wars: Galaxies did bashing damage in their first incarnation. It has then been changed to energy damage.
- Knights of the Old Republic treads the line a bit. Lightsabers are still the deadliest melee weapons by far, and can be used to break open doors and containers effortlessly, but many weapons and armors of this era are made with "cortosis weaves" (something that's supposed to be much rarer than KoToR implies) that enables them to resist a saber being sliced right through them. They are still far less deadly than they really should be, though.
- Somewhat justified in that the Old Republic is, well... older than most of the other Star Wars properties, timeline-wise. The time between it and the Skywalker era represents a long, steady decline of the empire with lots of lost technology. Cortosis going from common to rare follows the same trend of medical science going from miracle gels that can cure the most debilitating injuries to women dying easily in childbirth and having to use prosthetics to deal with burns, things that real-life medical science today would consider hopelessly low-tech and crude. This is actually a continuation of an even longer trend; Rakata technology from thousands of years before the Old Republic directly used the force without human interference and could store sentient minds, eat stars to make fleets in a matter of days, and reduce entire star clusters to ionized dust.
- Similarly for Star Wars Battlefront, where lightsabers are the strongest weapon in the game, yet it took at least 2 hits to kill the average mook.
- Super Star Wars: Tusken Raiders can sometimes survive a full-contact swing with the lightsaber. Also, Stormtroopers can survive one laser blast from your gun, while in the movies, they usually died when that happened.
- Unlike the above, The Force Unleashed has the lightsaber as the ONLY available weapon. Some players have referred to it as the "lightbat" because of its inability to cut through anything. Indeed, hitting a stormtrooper only creates a small glow on the point of impact and causes them to fall over. Some enemies don't even die on the first hit. This complaint has been addressed in the sequel (at least as far as enemies go). Stormtrooper heads and limbs will be lost this time for sure. As for slicing up the rest of the level... probably not.
- Sword Of The Samurai 2 is both an example and a subversion, in that, on Extreme mode, any hit from any weapon could kill you.
- Aversion: Bushido Blade has no life bars, and matches can be decided with a single well-aimed strike.
- Hell, if you wound your opponent properly, he'll beg you to kill him to end his misery.
- Rune goes halfway here (especially in multiplayer matches), as while its Health Points work just like most other games, a lucky swing at an opponent's head that gets through means decapitation and is always an instant kill.
- Mortal Kombat
- Mortal Kombat 3: Technically, you can hit an enemy 5 or 6 times in a round with Stryker's hand grenades. His pistol attack (only in Ultimate MK3) is curiously a ranged one and consists of firing 3 bullets from point-blank range. It does a bit more damage than a grenade, but still, the other character should be dead on the spot.
- Cyrax and Sektor use bombs and rockets respectively. They inflict about the same damage as Stryker's hand grenades.
- Mortal Kombat 4: All characters have weapons that do significantly less damage than one would think. This trope applies to Sonya for example, who is a regular human, yet a full-on swing with a sword can't kill her on the spot. You can also throw stones and skulls at your opponent, and these items also could hurt a bit more.
- In Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, though, some characters had an "Impale" feature for their weapons, which allowed you to, well... impale the enemy with your weapon, causing them to leak blood and reduce their health gradually at the expense of losing the ability to use your weapons for the rest of the round.
- Mortal Kombat 9: Once and for all, it is proven that swords are indeed sharp, because all character models show damage. By the end of a close fight, both fighters will have missing skin and exposed innards to go along with the bones that were shown being physically broken. It doesn't affect your fighting ability, though. (And then you stand up for round 2, and your health is refilled but the damage is still visible.)
- The worst part is the X-Ray moves. Over the course of the match, Sub-Zero can freeze and shatter his opponent's liver several times. Baraka's move involves using one blade to impale and lift the opponent through the stomach, while using the other to impale him through the throat and then through the head. Some Kombatants break their opponent's skulls, legs, spines, whatever, and the opponent just gets up and keeps fighting after all of this.
- In the Samurai Shodown series, only the last strike of the round can be fatal.
- Particularly bad in The King of Fighters games, as many characters have attacks that could level a building, yet leave no lasting damage anyway. One really nasty example is Orochi (a god), who can apparently steal and destroy his opponent's soul, yet if said opponent is not KO'd by this attack, then they can still get up and fight, despite the fact that they should be a hollow shell. Whip has a gun and, in some games, it doesn't even deal damage. She has another one as an HSDM and at least deals a good amount of damage. Other characters even have missiles, lasers, a gigantic drill, an iron ball... Hell even the flames should be enough to deal third-degree burns but don't.
- Justified in Way of the Samurai 3: you can use the blunt end of your sword to knock out opponents as opposed to killing them.
- Another frequent offender is Zero from the Mega Man X series. It's especially noticeable in his own games, where most enemies have a special animation for being cut in half by his Z-Saber. Okay — so why didn't that happen until the final hit? Because the kill shot is always the final hit.
- Melty Blood is a particularly strange case. The victory screens, the character portraits, the backgrounds, etc. can all show as much blood as they want to, but absolutely no blood comes out from anyone. Makes sense, they're all being punched and kicked... except by the characters that have claws and one in particular who uses a fruit knife to devastating effect. The rerelease of Melty Blood: Act Cadenza even removes what little blood was present (one character throwing a knife into someone and ripping it out, and a young vampire ripping into someone barehanded). Also add to the fact that, much like Soul Calibur, certain attacks should be fatal. Shiki not killing anyone by simply knife-fighting is justified and plausible... but his Arc Drives use his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, one of which slices the opponent into seventeen pieces. Though granted, he never seems to use the truly, unquestionably fatal attack... which his Enemy Without, Nanaya, does use - on top of slitting his enemy's throat.
- In the Tekken series, characters frequently suffer broken arms, legs, necks, etc., dislocated shoulders, hyper-extended joints, crushed gonads, and occasional impalement, only to get back up off the floor and jump back into battle, unless the round is over.
- Particularly bad in the case of Lee, many of whose moves are flat-out murder. One, for instance, is a snap-kick to the opponent's nose; in the game, it merely stuns the opponent for a moment and does less damage than a standard kick. In real life, that move, called fouetté à figure ("whip-kick to the face") is banned from sport savate, for its tendency to snap people's necks.
- And then there's Kuma, Panda, Yoshimitsu, Kunimitsu, Devil Kazuya, Devil Jin, Angel, True Ogre and Alisa.
- In Darkstalkers 3, certain attacks by each character can kill, by slicing the opponent in half... but only if they're the last blow in the last round. If it's not, the killing effect is seen regardless but the damage done to the characters' bodies is instantly fixed in a cartoony manner, like for example the upper body of the character being cleaved clean off, only for it to perform a quick somersault and land back on the waist with no lasting damage. Likewise, these attacks don't always line up with what should be fatal — Bulleta/B.B. Hood's throat-slit grab is, understandably, fatal, but her various guns, missiles, and mines aren't.
- The Last Blade games follow the same mold as Samurai Shodown, in that attacks can only be lethal on the last hit of the round, and some of the characters are surprised when slashing their foe to itty-bitties manages to kill them dead. Hibiki is downright horrified when she kills someone... unless she does it too many times.
- Dynasty Warriors has a K.O. count instead of kill count. In Musou Mode, a general will live or die depending on if his character is needed, meaning that most generals will only die on the last level. Justified in that, because not every general uses a weapon capable of killing, from staves to the power of wind, it's easier just to tack "K.O." on the counter and the bladed weapon just wounded them badly or they suffered blood loss.
- The Japanese version of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage also had the same KO counter, despite the fact that dozens of Mooks are turned into red paste or getting cut up into ribbons every time you use a Signature Move on them or hit them with a heavy attack, and even when you don't, they leave a large pool of blood under them as they collapse. Changed in the US/PAL version where the counter now reads "Kills", although the trophy/achievement icons are unchanged and still read "KO".
- The High Frequency Blade in Metal Gear Solid 2 is lethal, inasmuch as Raiden can kill any human enemy with it (the reason that it takes several strokes to kill is that the enemies from that point in the game wear extremely heavy armor). However, he can reverse his grip so that he smacks foes around with the dull edge instead of slicing them to kibble, knocking them out in order to allow the player to complete a "No Enemies Killed" play-through. You still kill them if you stab, though. Raiden uses the same technique again in Metal Gear Online.
- Super Robot Wars can't seem to decide on how lethal the attacks are. Defeating a given character, so they explode entirely, may result in that character dying, that character ejecting, that character running away. There are missions in which you 'capture' an enemy unit by bringing it down below 10%... and in the same mission you capture another unit by blowing it up completely. Additionally, there are some characters with weapons designed to cleave battleships in single strikes, but you still won't necessarily kill targets with it. Lampshaded in one chapter of Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2, where, Kyousuke uses his "Trump Card" against Wodan's Thrudgelmir (and hit him straight in the cockpit, no less!) leaving the other protagonists to wonder how Wodan could have survived that. To be fair, Wodan is a cyborg zombie samurai.
- Played straight in Super Robot Wars L, where "killing" a boss unit won't show the animation of it getting destroyed. They simply escape afterward most of the time, exploding only if it's actually destroyed during the storyline.
- Counter-Strike: Can you survive a shoutgun blast from point-blank range? In Real Life, even with kevlar, the answer is no. In the game, you might.
- Unreal Tournament: An automag bullet in the brain? No problem, it hurts a bit, but it only takes away 25 HPs. Shock Rifle blast to the face? More dangerous, you lose 50 HPs. The ultimate weapon, the Redeemer, should be a nuke, but it also tends to underperform. There are however weapons that can insta-kill.
- Avoided partially in Bio Freaks. Your characters could take explosive rounds, rockets, and chainsaws to the face surprisingly well, but most characters had moves that could strip your enemy of one or both arms, or the head, the first two greatly limiting their fighting abilities, and the latter instantly killing them. Similarly, getting tossed into some of the hazards, such as industrial grinders, would either kill you outright or strip you of your arms.
- Time Killers allowed you to perform instant amputations and decapitation moves that could end a fight in one blow. However, only decapitation was fatal.
- This got even more extreme in the Spiritual Successor Blood Storm, where you could cut your opponent in half, but again, only decapitation was fatal. The game would actually credit you if you somehow managed to win a fight without any limbs at all.
- In City of Heroes, you can "defeat" opponents with a katana, broadsword, battle axe, gigantic mace, or Netherworld-energy punches... but they are just arrested. And that's just counting the melee weapons, not the assault rifle, lightning bolts, or Atomic Blast.
- Technically, "Defeated" is intended to be a vague, blanket term that allows the player to decide what happens to everyone. Considering the genre...
- Also note that they have the uber medical system. The basic assumption is that someone is slapping them with some sort of teleport system recall chip that sends them directly to the zigg's hospital wing.
- While some of the franchises in Magical Battle Arena have the benefit of possible in-universe justifications, such as how the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha characters may be using Magical Damage or how the lethality of Cardcaptor Sakura's Sakura Cards may be based on Sakura's intent, others do not. Somehow, getting sliced by a Ragna Blade or being drilled repeatedly wouldn't end with death.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on the SNES has Leonardo as a character you can choose, but his Katanas — which should slice the advancing foot soldiers in half at each swing — are not performing as well as their Real Life counterparts.
- An example of Non-Killing Bullets: In Terminator 2 for the Sega Genesis, enemies are described at the end of a level has having been "immobilized" due to "non-fatal wounds." Despite being shot. In the chest. With a shotgun. At point blank range. Of course, this comes from a joke in the movie: John Connor tells the Terminator not to kill anybody, and so the Terminator shoots a man in the knee. ("He'll live.") Doesn't explain how a chest shot could be non-fatal, though.
- In Neverwinter Nights 2, characters don't die, they merely go unconscious. This makes one wonder why the King of Shadows, despite being an ancient evil capable of destroying entire civilizations, seems utterly incapable of killing your gang of misfits. This also explains why no-one knows how to resurrect a party member who suffers a plotline death well after the spell should be pretty casual; it never came up before (before the expansions there were no resurrection spells in the game).
- Averted in the second expansion Storm of Zehir, which follows the pen-and-paper rules more closely in this regard. Party members that lose all their HP fall unconscious and will bleed out if not treated.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, everyone's beating the crap out of each other with giant swords and explode-y magic, the same ones that can reduce monsters into a pile of ashes in the original games, yet nobody seems worse for wear because of it. Final battles are fatal, however. It isn't explained how your final battles with them should be any different than the dozen or so times you've beaten them before. During their death scenes, none of them seem particularly injured at all, they just fade away.
- Of course, in the original games, the characters were extremely resilient to begin with, beginning with shrugging off bullets and ending with being relatively unfazed by the destruction of half the solar system.
- Of particular note is the specific mechanics of the game. There are two attack type, brave attacks and HP attacks. Brave attacks drain your foe's brave, and HP attacks expend all of your brave to do that much damage to your opponent. Brave attacks do absolutely nothing, but make your next HP attack do more damage (And make your opponent do less). Which means characters can get hit infinitely by bravery attacks (Which involve guns, fire, lightning, and all manner of sharpened melee weapons) and never die.
- Though Crisis Core doesn't specify whether enemies die or not, Zack goes out of his way to use the dull end of his sword (except in the battle animation) to prevent "wear and rust" because his sword is an heirloom. Therefore he's probably just knocking them all out.
- Paladins in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance can learn the skill "Subdue", which makes them hit their target with the flat side of their sword, dealing one point of damage. You're supposed to use this on charmed and confused allies, to break their trance.
- BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, ironically, subverts the hell out of this — each and every fight that the players play can not only result in a character's death, but can be argued to be canonically possible as well. The reason? The entire game is stuck in an insanely long "Groundhog Day" Loop. Any killed characters simply return once the loop resets. This being said, the particular brilliance of this isn't present in the sequel, Continuum Shift.
- This varies. In story mode, quite a few characters survive the battles against other characters (indeed, some of the alternative plot lines can only be accessed by losing certain battles). In fact, some characters are canonically "defeated" by having the player character hold their own in the battle (even though they still have to be beaten the same way). For example Rachel never suffers any harm from being defeated and either leaves or kicks the character out of her garden when she's met in story mode, Arakune always flees or is spared at the end of a battle (or Litchi appears and talks down whoever defeated him), while the best any character can hope for while fighting Nu-13 is to survive long enough to note that their attacks haven't been doing anything before being killed Or suffer a Fate Worse than Death in Ragna's case. The most amusing example is probably Bang (who every other character treats as an annoyance), who fails to beat anyone (sometimes justified, for example; by Ragna basically muttering about how he let Bang defeat him so he wouldn't have to kill him).
- A version occurs in the Dungeon Keeper series. Enemy creatures are 'knocked out' by such things as steel claws, spiked balls hung from the horns, hurled dwarves and imps, huge swords and generally lethal weaponry. This is so they can be dragged to your prisons, and used or abused
appropriately. However, if left untouched by your or enemy imps (which drag them back to their own base to recuperate), the creatures will actually die. So it's easy to assume that they are wounded too badly to keep fighting, but might survive given medical attention. In the first game, you can toggle whether enemies are stunned rather than killed on or off.
- Played straight and averted in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, with story/quest important characters merely being "knocked unconscious" rather than killed, no matter if they got mauled by a bear, gored by a minotaur, or gutted by bandits. You can try to kill them, but that'll just piss them off. Non-vital characters are all fair game though.
- In Fallout 3, during your escape from Vault 101 in the beginning, you cannot kill Amata. No matter what. Shooting her in the head five times at point blank range renders her "unconscious." James likewise is a Determinator of the grandest scale for walking across the wasteland in only a ratty vaultsuit and taking down super-mutants with a lead pipe (or, when the pipe breaks from excessive wear, his fists.) He's the protagonist's father, so badassery may be genetic.
- If you're not using hardcore mode, companions in Fallout: New Vegas cannot be permanently killed — they go unconscious and wake up when the fight is over. (Some extremely powerful enemies may avert this — for instance, the enemies at the Deathclaw Promontory can tear ED-E into scrap and make him vanish, although the game still thinks he's in your party.)
- All melee weapons in the first Gothic were set to stun, requiring the player to administer a Coup de Grâce to every human enemy before it would be considered dead. Zig-Zagging Trope: Magic and arrows (except blunt arrows in 3) are always lethal which makes some duelling side-quests Nintendo Hard for characters that specialize in those.
- An unusual in-universe example occurs in Fire Emblem 6 (the last one to not be released outside Japan) with the eponymous Sword of Seals. Although it doesn't affect Roy's battle capabilities when he ultimately gets to use it, its strength evidently depends on the resolve of its wielder. Its original owner, Hartmut, had used it to slay a great number of dragons during The Scouring, but, upon discovering that their leader had assumed the form of a frail young girl, didn't have the heart to kill her, so, when he struck her with the blade, it ensured that the attack would only knock her out.
- Semi-justified in Eternal Darkness in that, for the most part, you're using medieval (or earlier) weapons against anything from The Undead to Eldritch Abominations. It also allows you to perform a Coup de Grâce to a downed monster to regain some sanity points. The one time you're in a modern day story and get a fully-automatic assault rifle with underslung grenade launcher, it's much easier to take the nasties down.
- In Chrono Trigger, during the prison escape sequence, it's possible to sneak up behind many of the guards and slash them in the back of the neck with your katana. This knocks them out. Note that this makes sense if Crono is using the Wood Sword from the start of the game. (He'll likely have picked up at least a metallic upgrade by this point, though.)
- In Mount & Blade, a leader with the Surgery skill has a chance to convert any friendly casualty into a KO. Even if it was inflicted by a knight's full-speed couched lance charge, which usually hits for about 2-3 times the maximum hit points of any unit.
- Inverted in one (and only one) notable case in Touhou. All Spellcards do non-lethal damage, it's strongly implied that all those lasers and knives are just illusion. But during the fight against Mokou, Reimu and friends bring out the real stuffs, because Mokou is an immortal.
- Characters in the Super Smash Bros. series like Link and Fox can come equipped with blasters, bombs and the Master Sword, yet they never even knock people out - just send them flying away until they fall off the edge of the screen.
- Several Capcom vs. Whatever game s include characters like Strider Hiryu (and his Absurdly Sharp Blade), Wolverine (and his claws), Doctor Doom (and his variety of energy weapons), Dormammu (master of black magic) and many others, yet no-one gets anything more serious than a KO. Granted, Strider and the various versions of Mega Man do have actual death animations, but this is just a Shout-Out to their original series rather than portraying actual death.
- The DC Comics fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us has many characters with lethal weaponry, like the guns that the Joker, Deathstroke, and Harley Quinn wield, as well as Badass Normal types with no special protection, such as the Green Arrow. The game justifies this in the story mode: every character who isn't already Nigh Invulnerable takes some kind of Kryptonian nano-tech pill to compensate. In one scene, the Joker takes a burst of gunfire to the chest and says "I should be dead! Thanks, happy pill!".
- Erus and Zenka in Super Cosplay War Ultra have rather Egregious examples of this. One of Erus' super attacks has her ripping out her opponent's heart and crushing it in her bare hands. It only deals about 1/6th of a life meter of damage. And then there's Zenka's MAX, which, while one of the most devastating attacks in the game, isn't necessarily lethal. When used against male opponents, it acts as The Nudifier, but if used against girls and certain male characters, it flat out bisects them.
- Parodied in RPG World, where Deadpan Snarker Cherry reacted like a normal person would when she saw Hero (yes, the main character's name is just Hero) get shot in the face with an assault rifle. She's in disbelief until the next enemy takes his turn and she gets shot in the face too, to the tune of a few minor points of damage.
- In Monty Oum's web video series Dead Fantasy, the girls are beating the crap out of each other with swords, Rachel has her War Hammer, Yuna is using guns, and the Final Fantasy girls in general are using potent magic. What do they have to show for this? Not even a bruise. Averted with extreme prejudice from episode IV onwards.
- In Tales of MU, "mockboxes" used during class create phantasmal copies of real weapons, which generate disappearing injuries. Justified in Callahan's classes, as the roster would be drastically reduced after each class otherwise.
- Used for every blade in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), notably Leonardo's katanas and the Shredder's claws. If used on a non-living object, like a Mouser robot or a water tower, swords and blades are ludicrously sharp. If used on other characters, swords and blades simply knock people unconscious or seem to inflict the same damage as a direct hit with a blunt object. However, exceptions are made in certain situations, such as when Karai stabs Leonardo in the back or when Leonardo decapitates the Shredder.
- Truth in Television: In the eighteenth century, officers would use their swords to keep order in the ranks. Naturally, they would seldom wish to kill their own Redshirts and so would use the flats.
- Professional juggling knives are designed to seem sharp but are really blunt. This does not mean, however, they won't hurt like hell if you get hit with one.
- They are certainly sharp enough to cut vegetables, something that almost every knife juggler does at the beginning of their show to demonstrate that the knives aren't blunt.
- One routine by Penn & Teller lampshades this, demonstrating that juggling torches are specially weighted to be very difficult to catch by the lit end, and that if you do, all that happens is that you drop it and calmly walk to the nearest fire extinguisher. Penn then breaks the ends off three bottles and says that, being of irregular weight and having a sharp edge that could actually do some damage, these actually are difficult and dangerous to juggle. Then he does it anyway.