The only viable option.
He's the most lethal video game creature ever! He towers above you with fists like anvils! Skulls litter the ground at his feet! And you're not supposed to even try
to take this guy on in a fight??... Wow, talk about counter-intuitive. Paige:
Refresh my memory, you spend how
many nanoseconds in the real world
You've entered a boss fight. It seems like nothing you do to the boss can faze it, and anything you try
to do results in it counterattacking with deadly force. But then the player character hears something. Perhaps sage advice from a Spirit Advisor
, or perhaps the boss itself is taunting you by informing you that anything you do to attack it will only make it stronger. Either way, you've just been told to stop trying to fight
So you do nothing but sit there and defend yourself. Eventually the boss fades away, or becomes bored, or whatever, and you attain a victory through pacifism. This is the trope in a nutshell — where the only way to win is to stop trying to beat
the boss, and wait for it to give up on its own accord.
A type of Waiting Puzzle
. Compare Puzzle Boss
, where you're not necessarily fighting the boss
, but still need to take action to defeat it (perhaps indirectly), Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay
, and Why Isn't It Attacking?
. Contrast Violence is the Only Option
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Anime & Manga
- In The Vision of Escaflowne, dragons are empathic and respond to human (or possibly just Draconian) emotions. Come at them all aggressive-like and they'll tear you a new one (unless you're just Badass enough to take them on). Throw down your sword and make with the peacefulness, and they'll get bored and wander off.
- Used in the Brave Story movie during the climactic battle against their respective doppelgangers. The hero Wataru ends up winning the fight by accepting that his shadow is a part of himself, all the parts of himself that he was afraid to acknowledge. The anti-hero Mitsuru wins the fight by stabbing his shadow through the chest... and you guessed it, dies of a self-inflicted stab wound.
- Naruto did pretty much the same thing against his inner darkness, and even acknowledges that it actually helped him in some points of his life.
- Fairy Tail has this during the S Class trial arc. Natsu has to fight Gildarts in order to advance. After putting up a good fight, Gildarts says that Natsu is just missing one critical element to pass... and then he stops holding back his power. Natsu is so scared that he falls to his knees and admits defeat, which is exactly what Gildarts was hoping for.
- Mysterious Girlfriend X: Best option to use against panty scissors, unless you have your own special attack.
- In Bleach Ichigo enters some last minute training with Zangetsu before his final battle with Aizen. Zangetsu explains that he won't simply tell Ichigo the ultimate technique of his power and proceeds to fight him. After a bit of swordplay that doesn't seem to go anywhere, Ichigo figures out he won't learn the secret by pure force by fighting, but, rather, by letting Zangetsu stab him. This is exactly what the spirit wanted and gives Ichigo his power for the final confrontation. To be noted is how Zangetsu's second purpose was to get Ichigo to accept his Superpowered Evil Side as part of him.
- in Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin has to fight one of Shishio's Elite Mooks in front of his archenemy. Not wanting to reveal any of his techniques, he wins the battle... by running away from him until the guy breaks his leg from chasing after him. But it's then subverted when Kenshin is forced to reveal one of his techniques to save the mook himself from Shishio.
- In Umi Monogatari, the Big Bad, Sedna, is a force of darkness that has corrupted the island and will consume both land and sea. Marin and Kanon are told throughout the series that they must seal her away with the Spear of Light, and to not hesitate to defeat Sedna even if it means attacking their friends. However, when they find out that Sedna is really the islanders' combined sorrow, they accept the darkness within their hearts and deal with it rather than throwing it away.
- Many card games, including Magic The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!, list running out of cards to draw as a lose condition. This has led to the "Deck out" style of play, where you force your opponent to excessively draw until they run out of cards, and do nothing else but defend against attacks. The downside to this is, of course, giving your opponent immense resources and could possibly allow him to pull off a powerful combo.
- Superman once defeated the Hulk by allowing him to whale on his indestructible body until the Hulk wore himself out and reverted back to Banner. Doubly so, he also spotted and destroyed a microscopic irritant that was keeping the Hulk enraged.
- He defeated Spider-Man this way too in a very early inter-company crossover. Once he realized that he likely would have killed Spidey if he had hit him, he just let Spidey punch him until Spidey realized it was pointless and gave up. (Then they finally realized they were on the same side, and joined forces against Lex Luthor and Doc Ock.)
- Arguably the way Scott Pilgrim deals with The Negascott.
- One incarnation of Justice League of America villain Amazo could adjust to duplicate the powers and abilities of any incarnation of the Justice League, so the more reserves they call in the more powerful he becomes. The Atom realized that this Amazo was a "one-man-Justice-League" on a conceptual level, and therefore Superman had the one power that could defeat him; the power to disband the JLA.
- As one of his trials to become Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange had to meet Death in combat. After doing everything he could to fight or escape Death, he resigned himself to defeat and surrendered entirely to it — becoming immortal.
- Referenced in a FoxTrot strip. Jason, frustrated that he'd tried everything he could think of to beat a boss, leaves the room for a minute. When he returns, he finds out that his sister Paige "beat" the boss... by simply walking past it. Their mother tells Jason that the message is obviously "Discretion is the better part of valor", but he's too upset to care.
Films — Live-Action
- Used in the movie version of Prince Caspian, when Caspian, after seeing an entire squadron of Telmarine assassins downed by something underfoot, is himself tripped and set upon by the unseen assailant... Reepicheep the Mouse. Reepicheep orders Caspian to retrieve his sword and face him in honorable combat, as he refuses to kill an unarmed man. Caspian's reply: "Then I'll live longer if I don't." Reepicheep doesn't have infinite patience, though, so this tactic doesn't last Caspian forever.
- Joshua's lesson in WarGames. To elaborate: Joshua is a Supercomputer in charge of NATO's missile. He was hacked and tricked into playing Global Nuclear War by the teen hero David, with David playing the role of the USSR. So Joshua ends up going all out and as the movie progresses, he works at starting this war and winning. At the end, David, with the help of Joshua's creator, gets Joshua to play Tic-Tac-Toe against himself. Since Joshua plays to win, every move is the optimal move, resulting in a tie game. Joshua goes through every permutation of the game and then correlates this to Global Nuclear War, realizing if everyone everywhere launches all the nukes, there will be no survivors and thus no winners. This leads to Joshua's conclusion, "the only winning move is not to play."
- At the end of The Matrix Trilogy, Neo defeats Smith by allowing himself to be assimilated, thus providing the Source with a direct line into its rebellious ex-servant.
- In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, LJ is confronted by Nemesis. LJ drops his weapons and puts his hands up. Nemesis' HUD designates him a non-combatant and leaves.
- When Duncan has The Guardian at his mercy in Highlander The Source, he insists that Duncan behead him and take his place. Duncan refuses and goes to claim the prize. This makes The Guardian explode.
- At the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, after nearly killing Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker realizes that his aggression is turning him to the dark side, and throws his lightsaber away.
- Hulk Hogan's movie Suburban Commando had a situation like this. Early in the story, an old veteran tells the protagonist about a soldier he knew who did something like this to save his buddies during a war, saying, "Sometimes you have to lose in order to win." At the climax of the movie, where the villain is holding his friends hostage and demanding he show himself, he decides that it's sound advice, and does the same thing. (Fortunately, one of them decides to return the favor.)
- In the Choose Your Own Adventure series World of Lone Wolf book 4, Beyond the Nightmare Gate, the Chaos Master sends against the hero Grey Star his evil doppelganger; both seek the Moonstone, and he attacks you when you finally find it. If you win the fight, you die, but if you don't fight, or if you lose the fight, he dies and you win.
- In the RPG-inspired book, manga, and movie Brave Story, the hero, Wataru, gets thrown into a Mirror Boss with a shadowy version of himself. He and it proceed to beat each other up, with neither side truly winning, until Wataru realizes that he can't fight it. It's made up of all his fear, anger, hatred, and sorrow — his negative emotions. And no matter what he does, all his negative emotions will always be part of him. Instead, he accepts it, and he comfortably takes it back into himself. Mitsuru isn't so lucky...
- In the game-within-a-story of Enders Game, Ender consistently reaches a tower in the game, crushes a snake that tries to kill him, and gets himself killed trying to proceed. Fed up, he eventually picks the snake up and tries to get it to bite him—but he screws up the control input and accidentally kisses it. It turns into his sister, because the Rule of Symbolism is weird like that.
- In John Scalzi's The Android's Dream, two Virtual Ghosts argue over the proper way to deal with a situation, and the more experienced one proposes to make her point with a simulation of the battle in which the less experienced one originally died. She'll take control of the enemy forces, he'll control the forces he fought in, and his job is to keep it from becoming a bloodbath like it did in real life. His forces are too badly outgunned to ever win, so in the final iteration he surrenders at the first sight of the enemy, preserving the lives of all his troops.
- In Witches Brew, the fifth book in the Magic Kingdom of Landover series, one of the champions sent by Lord Rydall, the fake Big Bad of the book, is a knight resembling the Paladin, the champion of Landover and King Ben Holiday's personal protector. (And his other persona — it's complicated.) The Paladin fights the knight but finds his opponent can perfectly match him blow for blow. The knight is only defeated when the Paladin sheathes his weapon and disappears, causing his doppelganger to do the same.
- In The Death Gate Cycle series by Weiss and Hickman, the evil dragons feed on violence and hatred : Haplo and Alfred can't win against them by fighting. They still win, though, by renouncing to fight and letting the place they're in at the moment (which has been cursed to ban any violence) use the dragon's own violence against him.
- Drizzt does this in The Dark Elf Trilogy when fighting his father's raised corpse. First, he fights him in a manner that brings out his personality, then he sheathes the swords. His father managed to regain control long enough to exchange a few words, and then jump into the conveniently close acid lake.
- In the novel 1636: The Saxon Uprising, this is how the USE remains intact when Axel Oxenstierna tries to stage an uprising to seize power. The USE members stay strictly within the bounds of the law, despite enormous temptation to fight, thus preserving the USE.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory The only way to get out of the spring traps (which are literally coiled springs) was to stop struggling at which point they just break apart.
- In Space Demons, this turned out to be the way to win the eponymous video game.
- A Planescape quest titled The Deva Spark features a battle with a demon who only grows stronger if the players attack it. The only way to win the encounter is to avoid fighting the fiend.
- A short story in the Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game supplement Tales of the Jedi Companion gives the story of the fall of Freedon Nadd, an extremely powerful and promising Jedi apprentice (and later one of the strongest Sith Lords ever to live). He is passed over for promotion to Jedi Knight when the time came, despite being the most powerful apprentice of his era. He angrily confronts his master, demanding an explanation. She tells him that if he is truly a Jedi Knight, to prove it, as she ignites her lightsaber. Nadd takes that as a challenge to a duel, and engages her in a massive duel, which she loses, and plunges her former apprentice thoroughly to the dark side, as he failed to realize that the way to prove he was a Jedi was to refuse to respond with violence to the issue.
- On a general note, many strategy guides — particularly unofficial ones — advise this strategy against a Hopeless Boss Fight in order to conserve resources - in which case you should not only sheathe your sword, but not do anything. This strategy falls apart if the player has to keep the party alive for a certain amount of time or number of rounds before the game's script allows for the loss to not count as a Game Over, however.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura
- Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy IV had Cecil go through this to cast off his dark past and become a Paladin. Considering the message that you got if you attacked, this is probably the Trope Namer. The literal reason behind this working becomes a Guide Dang It moment in the US port of the SNES version. You win because you're fighting yourself, but still as a Dark Knight who he keeps using its "Darkness" ability, which damages every unit at the cost of its own HP until it kills itself. However, in the US version you didn't have this when Cecil was still a Dark Knight, so you'd have no idea that he was losing health. Of course, with sufficient Level Grinding, you could get bigger healing potions that could restore all of your health at once, leaving you free to attack. With enough of these, you could whittle down the Dark Knight quite easily. Yes, you can defeat your inner darkness by beating the crap out of it!
- In the sequel Final Fantasy IV The After Years, you can try this with Kain, but his dark side is a bit too powerful for it to work, kicking off the main plot thread of the Prologue.
- The Bonus Dungeon in the GBA remake also features a similar situation for Kain. After a few turns of defending, Dark!Kain turns into Lunar Bahamut, and then you can whale on him.
- The EU version of the PS1 remake, Final Fantasy Anthology, which holds both FF 4 and FF 5 has a hint appearing during Cecil's fight, outright saying "A TRUE PALADIN... WOULD SHEATHE HIS SWORD." And Cecil has the Dark-ability in that version too, but since it's highly flawed, most players don't realize that's the way to beat him.
- Final Fantasy V
- The game makes your party "fight" the Mimic by mimicking the Mimic mimicking you — i.e doing absolutely nothing. He would congratulate you, and yield if you did so for awhile. Of course, there's that Oxygen Meter in the corner to keep an eye on...
- Gogo can be beaten with proper tactics, but if you waste too much time reaching the boss and escaping, you'll drown — unless you simply use Teleport to escape once you've beaten Gogo.
- Final Fantasy IX also has Ozma, a bonus boss that can be defeated this way, by letting your characters counter attack, since inputting actions causes it to have an immediate turn.
- In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, getting the best ending requires that you do nothing, and let Lloyd and Marta defeat you at the end before being able to proceed.
- In The Darkness, you are required to combat a dark version of yourself, whom you defeat by putting your weapons away.
- The final boss in the Flash game Inquisitive Dave becomes aware of his "role" as a final boss and becomes stronger for it. Your refusal to fight him robs him of his purpose, and he eventually fades.
- The final duel in Suikoden II... providing that you have fulfilled a number of other requirements, the Best Ending requires you to never attack, but just block for a number of rounds. If you attack even once, you get a Bittersweet Ending. You also get one if you Sheathe Your Sword, but haven't met the other requirements.
- The Empathic Manifestation under Athkathla in Baldur's Gate II has to be defeated by not fighting him... Although in this particular case you have to actually HEAL him. Would be a case of Revive Kills Zombie if it weren't for the fact that it explicitly states feeding on hostility and hostile emotions (and so the implication goes that it was your kindness that beat him, not the healing per se).
- The dancing zombies in the fifth level of Monster Party for the NES — do nothing, and you win.
- In a non-winning way, this is how Dororo's special ends in Keroro RPG.
- Prince of Persia
- In Prince of Persia, the Prince's mirror reflection would kill you if you tried to fight it, but if you sheathed your sword and walked into it, it would absorb into you. This was especially tricky since the Prince always put away his sword automatically after killing an enemy, and putting it away during combat was a move that was never necessary anywhere else and easily suicidal.
- Something similar happens in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. When finally facing off against The Dark Prince, hitting him causes him to duplicate. The only way to win is to walk away from the fight.
- In the Mecha fight at the end of Escape from Monkey Island, both Guybrush's robot and LeChuck regenerate health too quick to be able to defeat each other, so the only way to win is by tying in the Monkey Kombat three times, so LeChuck gets tired and Elaine is able to escape.
- In the Knights of the Nine quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you are given a test of character in which you are told you must show respect to nature. A huge bear appears and attacks you. To pass, you must not fight back.
- In Mysteries of the Sith, the expansion to Jedi Knight, the only way to defeat Kyle after his fall to The Dark Side is to deactivate your lightsaber and basically dare him to kill you. There's a helpful hint in the form of a wall carving of a female Jedi with her saber deactivated in front of her, something you wouldn't expect to find in a Sith temple.
- In Beyond The Beyond, you can do this when you face off against the Black Knight close to the end of the game. The Black Knight in question is really Annie's brother Percy, who was earlier presumed dead after fighting off a group of Imperial guards. If you decide not to attack him for several rounds, he'll run from the battle and rejoin your party. Should you decide to fight him anyway, his mask will crack, revealing his true face to the party before he dies.
- Mother 3 has a very, very tragic variation of this. The last battle with the final Big Bad comes only moments after the reveal that the said big bad is your long lost twin brother, who was kidnapped, forcibly turned into a robotic chimera, and brainwashed. During the battle the knowledge of this leaves you unable to attack (later on you can try but those attempts are pretty much you closing your eyes and half heartingly swinging) so all you can do is defend and heal as you, your father, and the spirit of you dead mother tries to reach him. In the end he regains senses but then turns his own attack on himself and dies in your arms.
- In fact, no final boss in the MOTHER series is ever defeated through attacking it directly, though MOTHER 3 is the only one in which you do nothing but defend. In the first game, you have to sing all the parts of the song that you'd been gathering throughout the game to remind Giegue of the people who raised him and to get him to surrender of his own will, and, in the second game, Paula has to use the up-to-then practically useless Pray command in order to allow the prayers of every other character in the game, plus the player themself, to overpower Giygas.
- In The Legend of Dragoon, the fight against the corpse of Lavitz in disc four. Defend enough and your party will talk him into turning his back, allowing you to take out the demon possessing him.
- Before that, there is the encounter with Shirley, who can only be "beaten" by answering her questions correctly. A common fan belief is her "fight" is to recover from the rather brutal encounter with Drake seconds earlier.
- Rise of the Triad has the first form of El Oscuro. Attacking him causes him to eat your missiles and regain energy. You're supposed to run away and let him wear himself out and revert to his snake form, which you chase down and kill. Except that every other challenge in this game essentially boiled down to shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everyone's dead, try to ask a question or two, which made this a bit counterintuitive.
- Alone In The Dark 3 has Edward Carnby, soon after coming Back from the Dead, fight a version of himself dressed like a cowboy. He'll match you blow for blow and shot for shot, and the solution is to drop your weapons. He'll merge with you after that.
- Ikaruga has an optional variation on this. Your ship can absorb light or dark bullets (and flip freely between being able to absorb either.) The reason to do this is to build up power for your Beam Spam, but it's possible to make it through a whole level without firing a shot. In fact, if you can survive each level bosses barrage of light and dark bullets without shooting back for 100 seconds, then the boss will just fly away and you'll be awarded the rank of 'Dot Eater!' Not to mention that you must survive against the final boss this way.
- In Persona 4, Shadows are the coalesced negative emotions and true feelings that people hide in their innermost hearts. When a Shadow manifests itself, it is typical for its creator to deny it, resulting in it absorbing power and turning into a monstrous abomination —cue the boss fight. But even after you and your teammates defeat it, the Shadow will just stand back up again and again until the character willfully stops fighting and accepts it as part of him/herself. Or apparently reject it so hard it disappears on its own, in Mitsuo's case.
- Lost Odyssey features a scene where the Big Bad mind-controls one of your party members to attack you. Killing him will end the game, so you have to hold out until the Big Bad decices to blast you himself and leave.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the player cannot damage The Sorrow — He's already dead! The only option is to wait for him to kill you, then use the Revival Pill. Getting as far as possible before being instant killed will net you some special camo though.
- In The Force Unleashed Jedi Temple Downloadable Content, when you face the Sith Warrior, at certain points he will transform into a duplicate of Starkiller. When he does this, you must block and/or avoid him until he changes back. If you attack him in this form, his health will be replenished and Starkiller will take the damage instead.
- The first time you fight Darkrai in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, this is the strategy you should use to conserve resources and activate the Vatonage Styler.
- In Live A Live, choosing to fight the final boss's final form results in a Zero-Effort Boss fight, and the "bad" ending (where nothing happens except the credits roll). You have to choose to walk away from the fight for the real ending to occur.
- In BIT.TRIP FLUX, this message is to the player, from the player character in the ending. His journey is over, but yours isn't. Put down the controller and live your life.
- Super Smash Bros.
- In the original, the best way to defeat Pikachu is jump to the tower at the player's right and avoid all attacks, jumping if necessary. Sooner or later, regardless of difficulty, Pikachu will use agility and be rendered unable to jump, falling to his demise.
- In the sequel, it's possible to beat a level 9 Ness in a single 2 player stock match on Jungle Japes by... standing there. It works every single time.
- Sort of played with as one of the special attacks in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Mortal Draw, in which you must walk up to the enemy with your sword and shield both put away, and then use a button prompt to spin around while drawing the sword, slashing your front and killing nearly any mook in the game with one shot.
- In Xenogears, during the Inevitable Tournament, you can get Alice's wedding dress from Dan during Fei's boss fight with him by constantly defending and healing instead of attacking. You can attack him too, but then you won't get the item.
- In Mortal Kombat 9, this is how Raiden defeats Shao Kahn. By letting Kahn merge Earth and Outworld without winning Mortal Kombat, Raiden is able to finally spur the Elder Gods into action, and use their power to destroy Kahn. "He must win!"
- The XBLA indie shooter Shoot 1UP features shields that form and expand around your ships when you refrain from shooting. Firing while an enemy is inside a shield unleashes a "shield attack," which earns you much higher bonuses than shooting around blindly. It's essential in order to rack up huge scores.
- In Pokémon Platinum, Cyrus warns you that Giratina's power will destroy the universe whether you defeat it or capture it to end its rage. Should you do either of these, it will be revealed that Cyrus was lying to demotivate you. However, it is possible to just run away from the scripted battle with Giratina, which will actually calm it down.
- The final battle of the second part of the ero-game Monster Girl Quest gives the player the option to do this after the last of the damage is inflicted to the target. Alice, who the player learns much earlier on is the Monster Lord, intended to commit Suicide by Cop in order to carry out her mother's wish of ending the conflict between monsters and humans. Once her HP is reduced to 0 in the fight against her, the player can choose to slay her with one final attack, which triggers a Non Standard Game Over in which peace is achieved, in a sense. However, it's clear that Luka really doesn't want to kill her, and believes that her death in such a manner would be pointless anyway, given that her mother tried the exact same method before her. So, by not attacking for a few rounds once she's at 0 HP, Luka spares her life, and events come into play that set up the upcoming third and final part.
- This is done in some Sonic the Hedgehog games. Well, to an extent.
- The Flying Battery Zone Act 1 Miniboss in Sonic 3 And Knuckles involves you just making him hit himself. Technically speaking, you did NOT attack him!
- As well as this, Lava Reef Zone Act 2 Boss. You just avoid falling in the lava or touching the bombs and eventually he will bomb himself to defeat.
- The Quartz Quadrant boss in Sonic the Hedgehog CD involves you just avoiding his attacks, running toward him and letting the treadmill scrape off the floor of his machine. For someone with an IQ of 300, Eggman isn't very smart...
- Averted in Sonic Advance 3. Egg Jack-in-the-Box, boss of Toy Kingdom Zone, slowly crawls toward one of the pits, and the way you defeat is by making them fall in the pit. But, if you let him approach the pit he is facing... He'll simply slie back and forth in the arena for a while, and chances are that you will get hurt and killed in a blink. Or thrown into a pit.
- In Dawn of War: Winter Assault, the Imperial Guard Escort Mission requires that you follow a convoy very close to two enemy bases. While the convoy will last longer than most examples, being composed of a high-end Awesome Personnel Carrier and Space Marines, they will soon die to the relentless waves targeting it. One solution is to instantly switch over to the Eldar base: this greatly reduces the number of attacking units (and as the Eldar have teleporting builders and jump tanks, you can easily send support to the convoy with little risk), then switch back once the convoy is safe.
- Attacking Bibi Love in Dead Rising 2 will cause her to kill herself and the trapped survivors in her crowd with a bomb wired to the stage. The only way to settle this is to fulfill her demands.
- To get the good ending in Pom Gets Wi-Fi, you must spare the Clipped Wing Angel Shibe. This is only possible if you make all the moral decisions prior to it, otherwise your character will attack for you.
- When facing an Evil Twin made up purely of his aggression and negative emotions, Samurai Jack realized he could only win by not fighting and returning to true peace inside himself.
- Batman The Brave And The Bold: The normally unrestrained OMAC eventually manages to defeat the supervillain Shrapnel by using a force field to protect against Shrapnel's blows while refusing to counterattack — which meant that Shrapnel had no source of power to replenish himself with.
- Justice League Unlimited: Wonder Woman, Hawk, and Dove face an unstoppable magical robot that feeds on aggression. Dove beats it by... not fighting, or rather by getting analogues of North and South Korea to stop fighting. The next time the machine starts up, they remember and use it, but unfortunately, there has been a very Obvious Rule Patch.
- In the Adventure Time episode "Tree Trunks", Finn, Jake and Tree Trunks find the Crystal Gem Apple but are confronted by a Crystal Guardian, who copies everything they do — and since it's a great deal harder than either Finn or Jake, they only manage to hurt themselves when they try to attack it. Tree Trunks, in the meantime, starts playing with some mildly disturbing skull-faced butterflies, and when the Crystal Guardian starts copying her as well, Finn and Jake realize that the Crystal Guardian will only attack them if they attack first.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
- In the episode "The Ancient One", Leo is set to fight a losing battle against a group of demon ghosts, who can't be touched or harm, but who can touch and kill him. Although Leo is initially reluctant to follow the titular Ancient One's advice and just give up, he eventually does so, which saves him, as the demons immediately cease their attack.
- In one episode of "Fast Forward" Darius Dunn and Cody Jones are battling each other in mechs and Cody is unable to take him head on due to Dunn's robot being much more powerful, so he shields himself and lets Darius attack him repeatedly until his power runs out, enabling Cody to counterattack and defeat him.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
- The Turtles decide to fight a reactivated Technodrome by sitting down and doing nothing. The Technodrome ends up crashing itself.
- In another episode, when Splinter becomes a Brainwashed and Crazy pawn of the Rat King, the Turtles find themselves on the losing side of a Curb-Stomp Battle. Leonardo eventually decides to simply throw down his weapons and refuse to fight his sensei, hoping it will help him snap out of it. This was admittedly a risky gamble, but it worked.
- In Spongebob Squarepants, when Flats tries to beat up Spongebob, all of his blows are absorbed by Spongebob's body. Spongebob survives without a scratch, and Flats collapses from fatigue several hours later.
- The Boxing Episode of The Simpsons shows that Homer had an extra layer of fluid around his brain, allowing him to take more hits without being injured. Homer becomes a boxing champion who just waits until his opponents tire themselves out before KOing them. Unfortunately, when Homer tries fighting the heavyweight champion, his stamina is too much for Homer to deal with.
- This is basically the premise behind the martial art of Aikido, both philosophically (if you fight, you will lose against someone, it's only a matter of time) and pragmatically (the techniques emphasize the fact that you should not fight the opponent i.e. oppose his intention/movement or try to struggle with him). YMMV whether this is a straight example of Sheathe Your Sword or an atypical approach towards, well, fighting.
- A lot of martial arts that are applicable towards self defense seem to recommend the Screw This, I'm Outta Here school of self-defense: when confronted by (for instance) a mugger, you turn the hell around and run your ass off. The "martial" part of the martial arts regimen only comes into play when cowardice doesn't cut it. To be fair, martial arts like Tai Chi and Aikido delve into a lot of philosophy and lifestyle choices that reinforce the training and are designed to steer you in that direction by default. A battle won is a battle not fought, as the saying goes.
- Gandhi's resistance to the British empire. If the citizens had actively fought back against the empire (instead of resisting passively), they would have been violently suppressed by Britain's superior military, and the rest of the world would have thought it justified, since the soldiers were only defending themselves. This only worked because of the British Moral Dissonance not really registering how brutal their regime was until they had to enforce it on people who refused even token resistance. Gandhi himself admitted it wouldn't have worked on someone like the Nazis that just didn't care.
- The U.S. Black civil rights movement of the '60s. Fighting would have given their enemies ammunition.
- There is a Zen parable where a samurai asks a master if there is an afterlife and what it is like. The master challenged him, saying what sort of question was that for a samurai, and what a worthless samurai would ask it. The furious samurai grabbed his sword and began to draw it, to which the master shouted, "Here open the gates of hell!" The shamed samurai, realizing his error, sheathed his weapon and asked for forgiveness to which the master whispered, "And here open the gates of heaven."
- Nuclear war can be said to be this: The minute one nuclear weapon launches, it triggers a retaliatory strike by everybody with nuclear weapons.
- Chief Joseph's famous "I will fight no more forever" speech.