Summon Bigger Fish
"Sometimes the best way to deal with a mad man is to send in another madman..."There is Always a Bigger Fish, but sometimes they aren't willing to pop up out of nowhere and get you out of the current mess. That's where this trope comes in. Summon Bigger Fish is when you get another monster/god/whatever to fight the current one, and hope that once the smoke is cleared the one you called will leave you alone or at least be weakened enough by the fight to be taken out with less insane tactics. Sadly, the odds of this making things worse is 50/50 — Evil Is Not a Toy, after all— but then again, once you've crossed the Godzilla Threshold, anything is a viable option. Remember, this has to be a conscious use of getting another monster. If it appears by accident, or by the monster's own choice, put that example in Always a Bigger Fish instead. Named for a Running Gag in Darths & Droids. Compare Mons, Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?, Let's You and Him Fight, Enemy Mine.
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Anime & Manga
- It doesn't seem that way in Neon Genesis Evangelion until it turns out that the Evas are clones of the First Angel and "mother" of them all, Adam.
- In Higurashi: When They Cry the heroes eventually need to call the Banken, a military group, for assistance against the weaker Yamainu.
- In Slayers, Lina calls on power from Shabranigdo, the God of Evil, to defeat lesser monsters. Twice Lina calls on power from the Lord Of Nightmares, the creator of the Slayers multiverse. This is the Giga Slave spell, which, if miscast or if control is lost, could unmake the world. She's just that badass.
- A definite example in Naruto is Manda, the giant snake. Orochimaru and Kabuto summon him to fight Jiraiya and Tsunade, but these summons have a tendency to be rather unreliable, and Manda is by far the worst; once demanding 100 human sacrifices to pay for his service. Considering Orochimaru lost his arms and was incapable of using jutsu, they were desperately hoping he didn't betray them . Ultimately, Sasuke summons Manda and mind-controls him to act as a shield against Deidara's ultimate jutsu. Manda is killed by the resulting explosion, effectively preventing any betrayal.
- in Dragon Ball, Vegeta's still powerful enough to kill Goku, Krillin, Gohan and Yajirobe even after all the unGodly punishment he took in the climactic battle of the Saiyan saga. In a desperate gambit, Goku tells Gohan to look at the Power Ball in the sky, which transforms him into a raging, uncontrollable giant were-ape (oozaru). Initially, having lost all reason, Oozaru Gohan presents just as much of a threat to the heroes as Vegeta does, but Goku is able to telepathically communicate with him, and sics him on Vegeta.
- In an early episode of Pokémon (The Ghost of Maiden's Peak), when Ash attempts to fight a Gastly using his Squirtle and Bulbasaur. The Gastly summons an illusion of Blastoise and Venusaur, and then goes so far as to combine them into Venustoise, turning his already bigger fishes into one sort of... biggerer fish. It's explained that the pre-evolved forms fear their fully evolved forms to an extent due to some kind of instinct. So making them bigger and more badass is going to cause them to panic.
- Digimon Adventure had Tai force Greymon to evolve to defeat an opponent Greymon, resulting in SkullGreymon. Said SkullGreymon proceeds to kill the Greymon and run wild, blowing stuff up and curbstomping the other partner Digimon's attempts to restrain it.
- In Digimon Tamers, Takato orders Guilmon, both enraged by the murder of Leomon, to digivolve to the Mega form in order to revenge-kill Beelzemon. The result is Megidramon, whose very existence threatens to cause the Digital World to collapse... and Beelzemon thrashes him anyway. Then Guilmon gets a second wind, slide digivolves into Gallantmon, and wins.
- The fight between Marcus and Thomas in Digimon Savers, when Thomas betrays DATS, has their partners ShineGreymon and MirageGaogamon roughly equal in strength, and so an attempt by Marcus to invoke the more powerful Burst Mode is influenced by his rage at Thomas' betrayal; this results in ShineGreymon Ruin Mode, who runs wild before reverting to a DigiEgg; Thomas and MirageGaogamon are forced to retreat.
- Digimon Xros Wars Taiki has access to DigiMemories which allow him to summon powerful digimon to use their special abilities, like Leviamon and DarkDramon.
- In Hellsing we have the enslaved vampire Alucard who works for the Hellsing organisation by hunting vampires. Vampires are overwhelmingly bloodthirsty, superpowered monsters that laugh off human efforts to fight back. Alucard is no exception - if anything, he's worse, and he'd say so himself. In OVA III, he gleefully shreds a small army of innocent police officers because they were ordered by their corrupt bosses to attack him. The only thing that differentiates him from what Hellsing fights is that he's bound to serve Integra, his master, and he's perfectly happy to kill other vampires. Integra says herself in the OVA dub that the best weapon against a vampire is a second, more powerful vampire, and there are none on earth greater than Alucard. There is practically nothing that can stop him, with very few exceptions.
- The World Government in One Piece get it in their heads that the only way to compete with the power held by the big wig pirates in the new world is to enlist the Seven Warlords of the Sea, who are essentially government sanctioned pirates, to fight for their side. So essentially, they're privateers. If you'll recall many of the most famous pirates started out as privateers and then were retconned into pirates by the governments withdrawing support. In One Piece, that happened backwards.
- Quent in Wolf's Rain fights wolves with Blue... Who's a wolf. Well, half-wolf half-dog, but she looks exactly like one. To be fair, he also uses a shotgun.
- Used in Attack on Titan by Armin during the Battle of Trost, after the discovery of an Rogue Titan attacking other Titans. They lure it towards the horde of Titans laying siege to the armory, and hope it'll take care of the problem for them. Once the Rogue Titan is revealed to actually be Eren, his Lovecraftian Superpower becomes a significant tactic when all else fails.
- When he's not being used as a villain, this is the major role played by Marvel Comics character Galactus — the Fantastic Four have summoned him to defeat cosmic villains like the Sphinx, his rogue herald Terrax, Hyperstorm, and Abraxas, and various space-based franchises have used the character for this as well.
- Similarly, DC Comics often shows lesser superheroes calling on The Spectre when mystical evils get way out of hand. In most modern versions of the Justice Society of America, this is essentially the Spectre's role on the team.
- Used in the Legion of Super-Heroes V3 comics. The Time Trapper is, among other things, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the theory that the universe only goes 'round once. There's another villain, the Infinite Man, who is the embodiment of the theory that the universe runs on an infinite loop. Brainiac 5 brought in the latter to defeat the former.
- In Blackest Night, when faced with a Black Lantern version of The Spectre, the heroes come up with the really desperate plan to sic Parallax on him (using Hal Jordan as his host once again).
- Earlier, the Green Lanterns on Oa are overwhelmed by a Black Lantern swarm, so Guy Gardner decides to release a Red Lantern from the Oan prison and throw it at them. This works for about three panels before the Alpha Lanterns kill the Red Lantern for "escaping". And then the red ring goes after Guy.
- At the climax of Wrath of the First Lantern, the only way the heroes manage to defeat Valthoom is by Hal Jordan becoming a Black Lantern and summoning Nekron.
- In Hellblazer's All His Engines, John Constantine is charged with killing several demons. He succeeds by feeding them to an Aztec god.
- Similarly, an early arc has a cult succeed in summoning a truly ancient dragon-god by creating a lesser fear-deity. In this case, the dragon-god summons itself to eat the lesser god.
- John must really like this strategy. In the Dangerous Habits story arc, he's already pissed off the First of the Fallen, who's waiting for him to die of cancer, so John summons two other Lords of Hell and sells his soul to BOTH of them without the other knowing. Which leads to an early CMOA for Johnny, as he gets to flip off all three of them◊ and walk away smiling.
- In the Season 8 comic-book continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy and her slayers are depowered and must fight against the US Army. When all hope seems lost, Buffy summons the goddesses they had previously given their power to in a (ultimately vain) attempt to hide. The goal is two-fold: to have the ginormous goddesses attack the army, and to get their powers back. The plan backfires, however, as not only do the slayers not get their power back, but the goddesses attack both group indiscriminately. Buffy is finally able to defeat the goddesses after gaining Superman-like powers.
- In one episode of De Rode Ridder ("The Red Knight"), fairy of light Galaxa does away with prince of darkness Bahaal by summoning what is hinted to be Satan himself. (Yes, De Rode Ridder is that much of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink.)
- During DC's Our Worlds at War storyline, in order help defeat the forces of Imperiex, Doomsday is released from the can Superman had sealed him in.
- Umar is the sister of Dormammu, the Lord of the Dark Dimension. When she confronted Doctor Strange, he, on advice of the Ancient One (his mentor) freed the demon Zom to oppose her. Now, Umar is... pretty bad-ass. She and her brother are the only survivors of the race of energy beings, the Faltine, mainly because they destroyed all the others. She rules the bad half of the Dark Dimension, which is why she is pretty ornery most of the time. She once bedded the Hulk and... exhausted him to the point where he turned back to Bruce Banner and couldn't Hulk out again. She cracked the world in half rather than travelling around it to get to the Ancient One, the Sorceror Supreme and therefore the most powerful magician in the world, and defeated him soundly. That's how bad-ass she is. When she clapped eyes on the unleashed Zom - who automatically homes in on the most powerful magic-user in the vicinity - she fled like a startled deer, declaring she wouldn't leave the Dark Dimension ever again. Of course, Zom was in turn just as scared of the Living Tribunal, but the latter wasn't summoned, so he doesn't count.
- In Nick Fury's files regarding Marvel's Secret War, he plans for a worst case scenario of open attack on Latveria that includes using Jessica Drew to control the Sentry and dropping the Hulk and the Punisher on either side of Latveria and seeing who reached the middle first.
- In The Umbrella Academy, The Rumor's solution to a giant berserker Abraham Lincoln statue: A giant John Wilkes Booths statue, complete with a stone derringer. Afterwards, the Booths statue is seen escaping, with the police chasing after him.
- Pinkie Pie takes care of the giant spiders in issue #2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) by bringing in Jim the troll.
- Boxer decides the only course of action in the Godzilla ongoing IDW comic when Hedorah, Monster X, Space Godzilla, and Gigan attack Earth is to release the trapped Kaiju from Monster Island and free Godzilla from an experimental cage (though he frees himself first).
- To destroy the Avatar that lives under the Pentagon when Flex Mentallo's Reality Warper powers proved to be insufficient, Doom Patrol member Dorothy Spinner summoned the Candlemaker, a far worse Eldritch Abomination to destroy it.
- During Final Crisis, with the vast majority of the human and metahuman population under Darkseid's control, the remnants of Checkmate made a deal with the sentient A.I.s that it had captured over the years - the A.I. would be allowed to roam free in exchange for delivering the "Go" code that would activate over 11 million latent OMACs around the world. Michael Holt then allowed all the O.M.A.C.s to go about their business of neutralizing or killing every metahuman they encountered.
- In the wake of Civil War, in which they were targeted by a bunch of unusually sadistic "cape killers", the Runaways tried to make an alliance with the Kingpin in hopes of keeping the various superhero factions off their backs. It didn't last very long.
- In an issue of Rat-Man our hero was confronted by a robot made specifically to kill superheroes. What did Rat-Man do? He opened a book, an act that summoned Chuck Norris. The robot was promptly destroyed.
- In Scott Pilgrim, when Roxy and Mr. Chau both want to kill Scott, he lures Mr. Chau to Roxy and tricks them into fighting each other. The ploy ultimately fails and Scott is forced to defeat Roxy. Fortunately, Mr. Chau drops his grudge against Scott afterwards.
- Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things: What do you do when a Corrupt Politician has killed everyone who stood in between him and power? Courtney summons Tommy Rawhide back from the dead to give him a taste of his own medicine.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Godzilla crossover, The Bridge, this pops up in chapter 5. Garble and his gang undergo greed-growth, rapidly forming into full sized dragons busy leveling a campground and trying to devour its occupants. Cue Rainbow Dash accidentally causing the currently pony-transformed Anguirus to revert to his true form... which is taller, bulkier, and far stronger than the drake pack.
- This is later done intentionally with both Mothra and Godzilla, respectfully, in two consecutive fights with flocks of gyaos, giving them power surges in order to transform them back into their true giant forms in order to fight off the gyaos.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans fic A Shadow Of The Titans, when Jade is sent to break Machete out of prison, only for it to turn into a fight with Raven and Starfire, Jade lets Cinderblock out of his cell in order to keep the Titan girls busy.
- Jade ends up on the receiving end a few chapters later. After aging herself into an adult and gaining a massive power boost as a result, Jade becomes too tough for the Titans to handle. So, they call in Green Lantern John Stewart to deal with her, Needless to say, she reverses her condition the first chance she gets.
- Godzilla vs Cthulhu is a clear example.
- Nobody Dies gives us Cthulhu vs ADAM. ADAM wins, but Cthulhu put up one hell of a fight.
- The Unity Saga contains an example, when Thrawn advises the Alliance (or, at that point, New Republic) forces to engage a third (& very hostile) party. He then orders them all to withdraw, at which point a Borg fleet, at his behest, decimates the third party.
- Luminosity has Bella do this to establish her as a Guile Heroine. James is going to kill her, but has enough flair for the dramatic to leave her alive long enough to talk. She convinces him to take her to the Volturi, who rule vampires and don't like being disturbed.
- The Pony POV Series has this pop up in the Dark World timeline. How does Apple Bloom's spirit manage to break Discord's control over Applejack? By getting one of the only four beings in existence stronger than Discord to help. While the Father of Alicorns doesn't simply overpower Discord's control, he's still wise enough to help Apple Bloom convince Applejack to change.
- In the finale of Tealove's Steamy Adventure, the heroes are menaced by a giant, mobile pear tree. They can't take it in a fight, so they ask Fluttershy to summon a flock of fruit bats, who eat the pears. Which somehow kills the tree.
Films — Animation
- Essentially the plot of Monsters vs. Aliens.
- At the end of A Bug's Life, Flik actually summons the very bird that attacked him earlier in the film to kill Hopper.
- At the end of Watership Down, the protagonist rabbits release a dog and lure it into the Efrafan army (all of whom run away, except for Woundwort, whose body is never found).
- In the movie version of The Black Cauldron, the Horned King (Big Bad of the movie) attempts to use the power of the evil spirit trapped in the eponymous Cauldron to rise an Army of the Undead. Despite his gigantic magical powers, the Horned King is apparently unable to do that by himself and needs the Cauldron for it.
- This eventually backfires against he King: the spirit at first seems content with the Horned King's payment for the service — throwing a corpse in the cauldron —, but when a Heroic Sacrifice causes the spirit in the Black Cauldron to lose his powers forever, the spirit blames the Horned King for it and destroy him as his last move before becoming forever inert.
Films — Live-Action
- Clash of the Titans, has Perseus using Medusa's head to defeat the kraken.
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Return of the King has the capital city of Gondor under attack by a Badass Army of evil orcs and trolls. Fortunately for the good guys, Aragorn gets an Army of the Dead to come to the rescue. Given that there's no (known) way to defeat the undead, some consider this a Deus ex Machina outcome.
- There's also the Great Eagles who come in to save the good guy's armies from the Nazgul and their flying beasts.
- When the heroes teleport the giant rock monster onto the enemy starship in Galaxy Quest.
- Arguably the tactic employed in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, when Calypso is summoned in hopes that she'll take out the East India Trading Company and Davy Jones.
- Quite a few of the Godzilla films had plots based on this trope.
- Ebirah, Horror of the Deep had the humans wake Godzilla from his nap and lead him to Ebirah and Red Bamboo.
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah did it twice: the humans release Godzilla to deal with Ghidorah, then Mecha-Ghidorah to deal with Godzilla.
- Godzilla Final Wars uses this trope as its basic plot. Long story short-humans release Godzilla from imprisonment so he can fight the other giant monsters so that the humans can stop the evil aliens from destroying the world. To be more specific, Godzilla didn't care about fighting the aliens, he was just chasing after a flying submarine/battleship that he fought before getting buried in a glacier; the humans knew he would follow it so they just lured him into where the other monsters were.
- Godzilla (2014):
Dr. Serizawa is Genre Savvy enough to know that humanity needs Godzilla to stop the MUTOs.
Sort of coincidental but the male Muto, who is significantly smaller than Godzilla, calls to the female for the purpose of mating, who happens to be almost as large as Godzilla.
- Mal and his crew provoke a horde of Reavers to take on the Alliance in Serenity.Then it turns around and bites them in the ass when Wash is killed by the same Reavers, and the entire crew is badly wounded in the subsequent battle, only saved by River declaring You Shall Not Pass. Though in the end the Alliance win, making this more of a "Summon smaller fish" or "Summon distraction". And given that the Alliance created the Reavers to begin with Mal makes the case that the Alliance has to clean up its own mess.
The Operative: There's a lot of innocent people dying up there.
Mal: You have no idea how true that it is.
- The title character in Constantine summons Lucifer to defeat Mammon and Gabriel.
- This doubles as a form of The Only One Allowed to Defeat You. Lucifer ultimately intervenes because he's going to be the one to destroy the world, not his son.
- Demolition Man
- The future San Angeles view the release of John Spartan like this. To them he's just as much a criminal as Simon Phoenix and his worldview and behavior is just as alien.
"Send a maniac to catch a maniac."
- Simon Phoenix, in turn, was summoned by Dr. Cocteau to kill Edgar Friendly.
- The future San Angeles view the release of John Spartan like this. To them he's just as much a criminal as Simon Phoenix and his worldview and behavior is just as alien.
- Boa vs. Python: Send a giant snake to kill a giant snake. For some reason. Apparently the plot doesn't make terribly much sense.
- The plot of The Chronicles of Riddick. The Necromongers, a strange cult of Omnicidal Maniacs, is threatening the Galaxy. What do the good guys do in response? Track down convicted killer Richard B. Riddick in the hopes that he'll take care of them.
Aereon: In normal times, evil would be fought by good. But in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil.
- It worked because of a prophecy that foretold the Grand Marshall would be killed by a Furyan, and Riddick is the last one there is.
- Backfires horribly in Stargate SG-1 movie, The Ark of Truth. Merrick, on the orders of the IOA, plans to unleash replicators on the Ori ships, wait for the replicators to destroy the Ori, and then deactivate the replicators. Sam and Cam think this is a terrible idea; they're right.
- The protagonist of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell tries this by wishing for the aid of the Archangel Michael. It only partly works. Michael has a sword that can kill the Djinn, but only the summoner can actually kill the Djinn and can only use the sword once they become worthy. Michael spends most of the film with her running. Still, his healing powers are useful.
- In Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon sees a fellow student being bullied and tells him "Pedro (who is running for class president) offers you his protection." The guy thinks Napoleon's just trying to nab his vote, but sure enough, when the bully returns to steal his bike, Pedro's "cholo" cousins come to save him.
- Prometheus: The surviving Engineer is defeated by a giant proto-facehugger set loose on it by the last survivor (Elizabeth Shaw).
- In Men In Black II, J is chased by the Big Bad into the subway tunnels - and leads her straight to Jeffrey, the giant space slug that had been terrorizing a subway train at the beginning of the film. Jeffrey promptly swallows her whole. Temporarily.
- In Transformers: Age of Extinction, with Lockdown coming after them, along with the human villains and an army of drones controlled by Galvatron, and their numbers reduced to just five, Optimus declares the Autobots "need a new army". He gets the Dinobots.
- In The Mummy, the Scorpion King awakens and plan to use the army of Anubis to destroy the world. A cult resurrect Imhotep because as Rick puts it, "Imhotep's the only guy tough enough to take him down". The army also works on a You Kill It, You Bought It mentality. Imhotep would use the army to conquer the world, presumably with them as his aides. Ultimately fails when Anubis depowers Imhotep just before the showdown with the Scorpion King.
- In Jurassic World, once the Velociraptors aren't enough to take the Indominus rex down, Claire sics the Tyrannosaurus rex at her. And they conclude the battle by literally summoning a bigger fish, dragging the I. rex close enough to the Mosasaurus pond.
- In The Heroes of Olympus it's summon Hyperborian giant, actually. (Or at least run underneath one.)
- Daine attempts this in Wild Magic with an enormous kraken. Despite her apprehensions, it works out pretty well.
- To clarify: Daine summoned it knowing that she wouldn't be able to send it away again - it's too powerful and - more importantly - too intelligent to be fully controlled by her wild magic. However, she took a calculated risk, keeping in mind that she had a pair of seriously overpowered magical allies, who were merely out of the game for a while. Sure enough, once they've recovered, they're able to 'convince' the Kraken to scoot out of their harbor so quickly that its enormous body actually drained the harbor briefly.
- At the end of Watership Down, the protagonist rabbits release a dog and lure it into the Efrafan army (all of whom run away, except for Woundwort, whose body is never found).
- The Dresden Files: At the end of Dead Beat, Harry is facing down a bunch of necromancers and an army of zombies. His solution? Animate himself a tyrannosaurus zombie and stomp the bad guys flat of course!
- Bonus points because, even though there are strict rules forbidding the spirit of his solution, they only apply when such spells are cast on humans.
- Later, in Cold Days, Harry is in an even worse bind as Queen Ladies Lily and Maeve are trying to unleash several Eldritch Abominations from their prison. To finally stop them, he summons Queen Mab who stops them with one sentence.
- Same author, different series: In the final book of the Codex Alera, Tavi has to find a way to deal with the insanely dangerous Vord Queen, while at the same time she's putting a lot of effort into dealing with him. He just plain old can't face her head-on. So he flies up to the summit of Garados and deliberately irritates the Great Fury. Chaos ensues. But hey, it did work in the end.
- In Guards! Guards!, after Wonse loses control of the dragon he summoned, Vimes encounters him planning to summon another one to fight it. (He's about 90% insane by then.)
- This done with confidence tricksters is essentially the plot of Going Postal, where Vetinari uses Moist von Lipwig to work against Reacher Gilt. In this case his insurance is that Good Feels Good and by the time it's over Moist will have reformed sufficiently to no longer be a problem. Vetinari being Vetinari, of course, he hedged his bets a bit by setting a golem to watch over Moist to ensure that he was neither threatened by assassins (who don't really have anything in their arsenal capable of inconveniencing a golem) nor tempted to run (since Mr. Pump can magically track him across a continent and eventually run him down to drag him back).
- Also referred to in Making Money, where Moist explains that the mongooses were bred in the postboxes, to keep down the snakes; who were introduced to reduce the number of toads; which were put there to keep down the snails. The snails had gotten in on their own accord to eat the glue on the stamps. He admits that they "were a bit too creative in our thinking".
- And Nanny Ogg, being Genre Savvy, uses this to good effect in Lords and Ladies when she invokes Oberon, the Spear Counterpart to the Queen of Elves.
- Near the end of Shiver, the protagonists determine that lycanthropy may be curable through elevating the victim's internal body heat to extreme levels, comparable to a massive fever. They attempt to do this by injecting two victims with bacterial meningitis Results? Mixed. One character is cured, the other dies from the meningitis.
- Used in one Cthulhu Mythos story. The protagonists in the story are investigating a series of unusual events, the cause of which turns out to be an avatar of Nyarlathotep. They find some notes left by a professor with experience in the mythos that came to the place before them and was killed. The notes contain instructions on how to perform a ritual to summon the Great Old One Cthugha, so that the two beings (who apparently don't like each other) will fight, resulting in both being banished. The notes also suggest that as soon as the ritual is complete, everybody should get at least several miles away from the site.
- "The Belgariad", has an excellent example. In it there are a tribe of people called the Morindim who worship demons. Their wizards settle disputes between each other by summoning demons and making them fight each other. The demons are constantly trying to escape their control in order to eat the wizard who has summoned them. So if your demon loses then you get eaten by the opposing demon and even if your demon wins, you then need to banish it quickly before it turns on you and eats you as well. This is all seen by the main characters of the book who are sorcerors as being fairly bonkers. Unfortunately things escalate in the sequel series "The Malloreon" with the evil Grolim sorcerors trying to one-up each other by summoning demons to supplement their own powers of sorcery. When faced with a demon your main options are: to summon a bigger demon that you hope you can control in order to fight the first one; or to summon a God in order to banish the demon. The latter option requires one to be on pretty good terms with a God, as the only God who tended to intervene directly in mortal affairs was evil and was killed at the climax of the first series. Things continue to escalate further, with the different factions of evil sorcerors summoning Demon Lords who are more evil, powerful and cunning than the basic demons and who ultimately plan to take advantage of being summoned by plunging the entirety of reality into hell. Remember kids:this is your archetypal fantasy world; this is your archetypal fantasy world on demons.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione Granger does this by bringing Dolores Umbridge into part of the Forbidden Forest where the centaurs live. She hopes to trigger Umbridge's hatred of "half-breeds", which will enrage the centaurs and get them to take care of Umbridge for her. It sort of works.
- When the centaurs are about to turn on Harry and Hermione, Grawp appears, looking for Hagrid, and gets into a fight with the centaurs, allowing Harry and Hermione to escape.
- In Stanislaw Lem's The Tale of the Computer That Fought a Dragon, a robot king accidentally makes a robot dragon; he gets his battle computer to get rid of it—which, of course, it does by making larger and larger robot dragons. Eventually the computer tries to turn itself into an electrosaur and rule the planet, but the king hits it with his slippers and it accidentally turns itself into electrosauce. So Yeah.
- This is the basis for Hiccup's Fiendishly Clever Plan in How to Train Your Dragon.
- In Welkin Weasels: Gaslight Geezers, Maudlin accidentally acquires a magical ocarina which summons a demon if played and can't be thrown away or destroyed, but can only be passed on to another owner. Naturally, he decides to simply not play it. However, he and Scruff are later attacked by the dreaded manless horsehead (the ghostly head of a riderless horse) and use the ocarina to summon the demon to fight it while they run. Later, when they're captured and enslaved at an ironworks, Scruff manages to trick the overseer into taking and playing the ocarina, summoning the demon, which eats the guards (who are mink, and therefore larger and better prey than the weasel slaves, who escape).
- Used twice in The Heritage of Shannara.
- Druid: Being hunted by a gigantic cyborg spider? Drop it down a pit. Right on top of the even bigger and grumpier Eldritch Abomination.
- Talismans: Being attacked by several smaller, but still huge and tough, magical cyborg spiders? Lure them into the Mist Marsh, where they can piss off the huger and tougher tentacled horrors within.
- In the Wizard of Rondo, after the protagonists have learned that Eldritch Abomination the Strix is really the Blue Queen, Tye summons the real Strix. It is not amused.
- The main premise of Forgotten Gods. The characters ask The Fair Folk for help, and it goes horribly right.
- One of the Silver John stories has a warlock trying to control John by using Sympathetic Magic on a picture of him. John tries to distract him with a silver quarter, but it lands in the center of the spell. The end result is that the spell summons the embodiment of the heroic myth of George Washington (it locked onto the face on the coin), which instantly figures out the warlock's a bastard and beats him into the dirt before leaving.
- In Star Trek: Immortal Coil, the Enterprise and a space station owned by the immortal Flint come under attack by rogue androids after a sophisticated prototype android (long story...). Luckily for Picard and company, Flint has spent the last century or so collecting other artificial life-forms and AIs, including Richard Daystrom's M-5 computer. Data plugs the M-5 into the station's weapons array, and turns it loose to engage in its primary objective - survival. It mops the floor with the android fleet.
- Data: Under the circumstances, it seemed like our best chance to stop the androids.McAdams: Yeah, not to mention our best chance to get killed in the process. You know that M-5 is crazy, don't you?Data: Crazy is an imprecise term. It is...single-minded.
- A fantasy novel set in modern times had one of its plotlines deal with the efforts to stop the demoness Lamashtu (as noted under Mythology below) after she was summoned to Earth by a self-deluded worshiper by summoning up her nemesis Pazuzu, in hopes his hatred of her would see them both leaving earth as the one chased after the other (it succeeds, naturally).
- Midnight Never Come has the protagonists deal with the dark faerie version of Queen Elizabeth by summoning the Wild Hunt, actually the faerie kings of England that Invidiana had displaced. It's something of a distraction for the Plan A, but it's a big enough threat that she has to go meet it.
- In one of the Stranger In Black stories, a clay golem has gone berserk and a magician summons three other-plane beings (who appear as a young man, a middle-aged man and an elderly man) to take it away. Averted because for some unexplained reason, they silently refuse (although with an air of "sorry we can't do that") and instead drag the magician (screaming hysterically) who summoned them away into the portal he created and back to their own plane.
- In F. Paul Wilson's short story "Tenants", the old man in the cabin claims that there are crickets, toads, snakes and snapping turtles living under his floor. The crickets' chirping had been keeping him awake, so he let some toads loose to eat them. Then the toads croaked all night, etc.
- Invoking this can be a property of the Cursed Blade in The Death Gate Cycle. Normally it's a Morph Weapon that will turn itself into any weapon (or creature) that can defeat the enemy its wielder faces. Sometimes, however, the enemy is more powerful than the Blade, in which case it will summon something capable of defeating it rather than become it. This rarely ends well for any involved parties.
- In Alien In A Small Town, Nuada has Paul and Indira cornered, and Paul desperately prays for help. It's left ambiguous whether or not it's literally an answered prayer, but that's when the Great Striped Hoon shows up and proceeds to eat Nuada, and gets killed by Indira before it can eat her and Paul.
- Primeval has what has to be one of the most epic uses of this trope: Lester is chased by a future predator. He can't defeat it, so he manages to make his way back to the main room of the ARC and tells Leek, who's commanding it, that since he won't beg for his life, Leek may as well just kill him now. Unknown to Leek, Lester opened the door to the cage holding a giant freaking mammoth. Said mammoth does not like the future predator. Said mammoth kills the future predator with extreme prejudice.
- Played by the villain Crustaceans in the final episodes of Beetleborgs. In response to the Beetleborgs finally acquiring the giant Roboborg, the Crustaceans respond by creating the equally giant Boron.
- Babylon 5: When the Vorlons aim to destroy a planet with a population of six billion, Captain Sheridan, who knows too well that his fleet cannot take them on and win due to severe firepower and technological disadvantages, summons a fleet of ships belonging to the other "First Ones", who then proceed to destroy the Vorlon planet killer.
You really believe you can handle that kind of horsepower? You're delusional! They'll both mash us like peas.
- In the Season 7 premiere, the Winchesters and Bobby summon Death to deal with God!Castiel. Cas merely snaps Death free of their binding spell, defusing the situation. The potential danger of doing this is beautifully lampshaded by Crowley:
- On one Saturday Night Live sketch Ben Stiller and Tim Meadows play small-town politicians in a series of dueling campaign ads on the topic of "the bat problem," (bat attacks on the citizenry.) The competing candidates advocate such solutions as soldier monkeys, erupting a volcano under the bat cave, and getting larger and more aggressive bats to eat the bats.
- Doctor Who:
- The Second Doctor finds himself forced to summon the Time Lords at the end of "The War Games", since he's incapably of solving everything on his own. They appear, sort everything out without much fuss... and execute him for being a renegade with a stolen TARDIS.
- In "Ghost Light", the Seventh Doctor tries this and gets in really bad trouble. The enemy at this point is a rather stupid Human Alien with a few hypnotised human minions. The Doctor unleashes a Sufficiently Advanced Omnicidal Maniac.
- In "The Time of Angels", River summons the Doctor to help deal with the Weeping Angel responsible for the crash of the Byzantium.
Father Octavian: You promised me an army, Dr. Song.
River: No, I promised you the equivalent of an army. This is the Doctor.
- An inversion occurs in Star Trek: Voyager when the Borg ask for Janeway's help in eliminating Species 8472.
- Technically the Borg were just going to assimilate Voyager and it's crew until Janeway talked them out of it, it's complicated.
- Since Janeway was the one who wanted to ally with the Borg for safe passage through their space, and felt that Species 8472 gave them leverage, it may fit. Then again, because 8472 was kicking Borg ass bigtime, it may have been Summon Smaller Fish.
- Technically the Borg were just going to assimilate Voyager and it's crew until Janeway talked them out of it, it's complicated.
- On Justified Harlan crime lord Boyd Crowder is threatened by a group of local corrupt businessmen who want him to work for them. If he refuses, they will use their political connections to have him arrested and thrown in jail. Boyd instead calls Detroit mob boss Theo Tonin and asks his help in neutralizing the threat. Tonin obliges him and the businessmen soon find that all their political contacts refuse to talk to them. However, Boyd now owes Tonin a bid favour and if he does not deliver, Tonin will have him killed. Boyd considers calling in someone bigger to deal with Tonin but the only group with more power is the US government.
- Arrow: In Season 2, Moira finds herself once again being threatened by Malcolm Merlyn. What does she do? Well, after researching a verbal slip-up on his part, she gets help from the one person who scares everyone who knows of his existence — Ra's Al-Ghul, who, for bonus points, happens to want Malcolm's head for his actions in the previous season.
- Constantine shows what happens when the fish is too bigger. Drunk on his own ego, John decided to exorcise a little girl by summoning a bigger demon to kill the one possessing her. Said demon was Nergal. In the end, the girl was dead, damned to hell, and the event haunts everyone who was involved.
- Kongu did this in BIONICLE, during the Pit story. He used his Mask of Summoning to summon a giant Eldritch Abomination-style Rahi to kill a 300-foot Matoran-eating Eel. It was an interesting battle. This is Kongu's mask power, to summon monsters ... the only problem is he doesn't get to control the monster ... nor can he choose what monster arrives. This ends up biting him and the other Toa in the ass later on, as the Rahi and the Eel team up with each other and the mutated Gadunka during the Męlée ŕ Trois at the end of that arc.
- The children's song "The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly", wherein the woman in question keeps swallowing bigger and bigger animals to catch the one she swallowed before. Ultimately, she swallows a horse. She dies, of course.
- The song "Better Metal Snake" by Fake Band Dethklok tells the story of a fantasy themed kingdom attacked by a Metal Snake. The countermeasure is to build a Better Metal Snake to defeat the first one.
- In Assyrian and Babylonian mythology Pazuzu was an evil wind demon who brought drought and storms. However, pregnant mothers often invoked him with amulets to ward off his enemy and, in some versions, wife, Lamashtu, who killed children in childbirth and kidnapped newborns.
- In Egyptian Mythology, Set - God of Chaos, usurper of his brother Osiris' throne, Arch-Enemy of his nephew Horus and all-around bad guy - was nevertheless the one charged with protecting Ra's sun-barge from the serpent Apophis. Some argue that this is The Artifact of Set previously being a positive chaotic figure embodying destruction and renewal like that of a desert storm.
- One Indian folktale was about a king whose palace was constantly infested by mice. The king then orders his servants to send in cats to get rid of the mice, but then the king gets fed up with the cats, and first tries to get rid of the cats with dogs, then tigers, and finally an elephant. When the king becomes annoyed with the elephant, the servants get rid of it with yes, a mouse. Made into a Looney Tunes short
- In FoxTrot, Paige is writing a fairy tale where she is a self-insert. Her character comes across a trapped troll that suspiciously looks like Jason, and is faced with the choice of freeing it or hoping a boar would come along and eat it. The last panel is Paige asking if they make "boar whistles" that work, presumably, like dog whistles.
- In the The Wizard of Id, the wizard uses this to deal with a bandit literally with a summoned big fish.
- In Dungeons & Dragons:
- Summon Magic is all about throwing things like dragons, dinosaurs, elemental spirits, and angels onto the battlefield. At its pinnacle is the Gate spell, which can call up creatures much more powerful than the caster, some of which can cast Gate themselves.
- An interesting case is summoning a Bebilith. It's a demon who is best summarized as "a demon who hunts and kills smaller demons". There is even one specific spell which summons an uncontrolled Bebilith that will attack whatever is next to him, but will go for other demons first at all times.
- In First Edition AD&D Pit Fiends are powerful Devils whose abilities include unlimited use of the Gate spell, which can summon up more Pit Fiends.
- This became a plot point in the Forgotten Realms setting, where the mythic Elven city of Cormanthor/Myth Drannor was destroyed and became a demon-infested ruin due to the accidental release of three powerful demons who proceeded to summon whole armies of their kin.
- Summon Magic is all about throwing things like dragons, dinosaurs, elemental spirits, and angels onto the battlefield. At its pinnacle is the Gate spell, which can call up creatures much more powerful than the caster, some of which can cast Gate themselves.
- A similar version of this could happen in older versions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, as the old Realms of Chaos books (Slaves to Darkness and Lost and the Damned) included rules for releasing daemons bound into weapons. The daemon released would be a bog-standard example of the type, with the standard equipment. It was possible to get a daemon weapon containing a Bloodthirster of Khorne, whose standard equipment at the time included... an axe containing a Bloodthirster of Khorne. In terms of balanced points battles, it was a game-breaker, with the number of Greater Daemons you fielded (in addition to your army) limited only by the number of turns you were playing, and the number of Bloodthirster models you owned...
- This currently possible again in the Storm of Magic expansion with scrolls of binding that allow you call in any monster from the earlier rulebooks, including greater daemons, as well some monsters created for the expansion. These monsters are "biggest fish" available, including stronger version of the greater daemons, a supersized giant, a giant mammoth, and super versions of the dragons, some of which can be made lord level wizards. This is more balanced than old means of bringing out bound daemons since the controlling player has to pay for the monsters in point cost like they do everything else.
- A variation of this trope occurs in the Warhammer 40,000 background: with Hive Fleet Leviathan rapidly closing in, the higher-ups of the Imperium decided to divert the swarm into an Ork-held star system as a last-ditch delaying effort. As of the current lore, they're still going at it (Tyranids replenish their forces by eating corpses, while Orks reproduce asexually and the fighting is drawing in more Orks like a magnet), but Imperial generals (rightly) fear that whoever wins will have become much stronger, and will be coming after them next...
- The recently introduced Khorne Daemonkin army lets players collect tokens by wiping out enemy units (or having your own wiped out, it doesn't matter which). The player can then spend these tokens to summon more units, up to and including the mighty Bloodthirster of Khorne.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror From The Stars. The "Field Manual of the Theron Marks Society" says that when facing extremely powerful monsters, "The only hope in this situation is to summon another deity or monster with a natural hatred for whatever it is that is attacking."
- The Jurassic Park card game allowed you to summon a Tyrannosaur to scare off the smaller predators, the venom-spitting Dilophosaurs and pack-hunting Velociraptors. Or even another Tyrannosaur. But then you would have to fight off the T-Rex as well, after it scared the others off.
- Changeling: The Lost features a Goblin Contract known as "Call the Hunt." Unless you're a Loyalist (or truly, truly desperate), use of this Contract is considered a very bad idea.
- To further elaborate: most Goblin Contracts have some kind of drawback to go with their main effect. In the case of Call the Hunt, the main effect is that drawback.
- Mutants & Masterminds has a summoning power. A drawback you can take for it makes everything you summon hostile toward you. You might summon a bigger fish to deal with your foes, only to have to summon another when the first turns on you.
- In the storyline of the Deadlands CCG Doomtown, the Big Bad was eventually defeated by waking up the manitou who brought Abraham Lincoln back as one of the Harrowed. Lincoln's willpower had long since beaten it down, but shooting him with an enchanted gun firing the same bullet that killed him before finally pissed it off enough to rise again.
- Happened in the BattleTech Expanded Universe. The mercenary Northwind Highlanders are contracted to raid a world held by Clan Smoke Jaguar, perhaps the most brutal and bloodthirsty of the Clans. Instead of the inferior second-line opponents they were told they'd be facing, their DropShips are shot down by an entire front-line force of Jaguars. The Guile Hero protagonist's plan is to masquerade as Jaguars and go besmirch the honor of the Nova Cats, a clan of mystical but no less impressive warriors, to attack and destroy the Jaguars on the planet and free the trapped Highlanders. It works stunningly, as the Highlanders escape and all the Jaguars are destroyed.
- Magic: The Gathering:
- This is the backstory for the Planeswalker Kiora. Her homeland, Zendikar, was torn apart by the Eldrazi. Her plan? Travel around the Multiverse to learn how to summon some eldritch abominations of her own to defeat them!
- Reef Worm is an almost literal example. When it dies, it summons a bigger monster, which summons an even bigger monster when it dies, which in turns summons a downright enormous monster when it dies.
- Scribblenauts will allow you to put God vs Cthulhu.
- You can also summon an Arapaima if you literally just want a bigger fish.
- Also Cthulhu vs. Satan. Cthulhu wins.
- Additionally "God vs. Vampire". Vampire wins.
- "God vs. Death" Death wins.
- This trope constitutes much of the gameplay in the final level of Eternal Darkness. Naturally this leaves one of the Eldritch Abominations wandering around unopposed, so the ghost of Alex's grandfather has to subsequently bind the Bigger Fish.
- Then in the Real Ending we learn that essentially all three fish have swallowed themselves, because Mantorok has been invoking this trope over a span of thousands of years, simultaneously, in three different timelines.
- GrimGrimoire has this as well in the infamous battle. After Lillet steals the Lemegeton and releases Calvaros, she gets right to work summoning Grimlet to erase him — as you learn, the two had a deal, but Grimlet was sealed away before he could collect his "fee". After holding off the worst from Calvaros for thirty minutes, Grimlet appears, takes Calvaros' soul... and then gets owned by Lillet herself shortly therafter. What a bitch...
- Doom II has a special level just for this purpose. In it, you are presented with both a Cyberdemon and a Spider Mastermind, the two most powerful monsters in the entire game, at the same time. The only way you will survive this is if you provoke one into firing on the other, then take out the survivor.
- That's just the easy way to kill them. For the same reason you are able to singlehandedly defeat either of them, however, you are also perfectly capable of defeating both. You just need more ammo.
- There's also an earlier non-secret level in Doom II which features a room with at least twenty Barons of Hell and a single Cyberdemon. Due to the way they are positioned, the Cyberdemon will immediately shoot at you as soon as you open the door, but since the Hell Knights are standing in the way, they'll get hit and turn on the Cyberdemon. It's very likely the Cyberdemon will win this fight, but by the time he does, he's so weakened that it won't take much to kill him.
- In the original Doom, there was a secret level with this premise. In the room you start with there are half a dozen Barons of Hell. In the next room are a dozen Cacodemons. The best survival strategy involves running from room to room, allowing the monsters to mix and get caught in each other's crossfire, which will make them turn on each other as long as you aren't fool enough to draw their attention.
- The Elder Scrolls
- In the Grand Finale of (the main questline of) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Martin Septim summons the Freaking Dragon God of Time, Akatosh, to fight off Mehrunes Dagon, who enters the Imperial City in the flesh.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gives you scrolls that can summon animals to your aid, spells that can summon atronachs (embodiments of the elements) or a Dremora Lord to fight for you, and a shout that can summon a dragon, Odahviing when far along in the main quest.
- Shortly after the Dragonborn defeats their first Dragon and their powers manifests, the Greybeards unleash a shout that shakes all of Skyrim, calling them to High Hrothgar for training. This is because the Dragonborn is the bigger fish to the Dragons, being the only one capable of permanently killing them by absorbing their souls.
- One quest in Skyrim has you discovering an abandoned Dwemer city that has been taken over by the Falmer, and awakening the Steam Centurions (Steam Punk Golems built by the Dwemer as weapons of war) to drive the Falmer out.
- A popular way to train weak Pokémon is to let them face more powerful mons and then switch to an even more powerful creature who can defeat the enemy; your two pokemon then share the experience equally between them, except in the 5th Generation games, where the weaker Pokémon will always get the lion's share of the Exp.
- Early in Iji the plan with dealing with the Tasen is to alert their much more powerful enemies about their presence. They're worse.
- In Dragon Quest VI, about halfway through the game a kingdom summons a legendary demon in the hopes that it will kill their world's Crystal Dragon Satan for them. Normally, what happens is the demon is too powerful to control and ends up destroying the kingdom for their arrogance. However, if you have an insanely overpowered party (we're talking months of grinding or the use of a gameshark here), you can beat the demon in combat and gain its respect, resulting in a funny bonus ending in which the demon flies over to the final boss and curbstomps him for you.
- Whenever Super Robot Wars include Neon Genesis Evangelion, a strategy that can be useful against powerful enemies is to let EVA01 be destroyed. Instead of getting removed from the tactical map, it will go berserk, gain massive stat boosts, and will destroy most enemies with ease. However, it's uncontrollable and might attack your units instead (and you still need to pay its 40000 repair cost.)
- The Metroid species have this as their entire purpose. When the X Parasites were discovered to be insanely destructive and dangerous, the Chozo genetically engineered the perfect predator to get rid of them. Decades later, when Samus kills all the Metroid species, the X parasites' population explodes.
- Across the whole series, Samus herself is the bigger fish. The Galactic Federation calls Samus after the standard galactic troopers, orbital bombardment, and even other near superhuman/alien bounty hunters have failed.
- Bayonetta slays all bosses (and many of the larger, normal mooks) by summoning greater and greater demons. This includes the final boss, Jubileus. Always a bigger fish, indeed. And she does it with her hair.
- Also in the battle against Father Balder she summons several demons of growing strength in a sort of summoning style Worf Effect.
- BioShock 2 has Summon Eleanor Lamb (in a big sister suit) as a plasmid.
- In the final battle of Bioshock Infinite, you gain the ability to control Songbird and can command it to attack the various airships coming in or certain areas that enemies are likely to be grouped up in.
- Fossil Fighters: When an ancient elemental dinosaur of power is called up, you not only Summon Bigger Olympus Mons, you summon the one with an Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors advantage!
- In Mass Effect 3, at one point, all the heavy artillery is destroyed before a Reaper can get blasted with it, and the heroes appear out of options for dealing with said Reaper. They use the Maw Hammers at the Krogan proving grounds to summon Kalros, the "mother of all Thresher Maws", who is very angry that a Reaper is intruding on its territory...
- Note that they were doing this just to distract the Reaper. They didn't count on the Thresher Maw to actually kill it!
- Throughout the whole series, rule of thumb seems to be that if there's a problem, send Shepard to deal with it.
- This trope is in used full-force with the Leviathan DLC, which reveals that the Leviathan entity is what killed the Leviathan of Dis Reaper. And you see a Leviathan kill a Sovereign-class Reaper firsthand!
- Human colonies typically consist of only a small token military force on hand and rely on summoning the Alliance for protection. It helps that the Alliance keeps their fleet strategically positioned at key junctions in the Relay network so they're never more than a jump or two away.
- The titular rifts of, well, Rift can sometimes be triggered by specific actions. Since all six of the elemental planes hate each other, this can be a quick way to get out of a hairy situation.
- In Dead Space 2, Isaac has to get past a government security force with orders to shoot him on sight. How does he do it? By powering down the lights and door locks, leading to a massive army of necromorphs slaughtering their way through the government forces.
- In Hyrule Warriors, Lana's Summoning Gate weapon allows her to summon scaled down versions of the game's larger boss enemies such as King Dodongo and Argorok, with her Special Attack summoning a giant Cucco. Played for laughs in the weapon style's victory animation, where Lana summons a large flock Cuccos who immediately starts chasing after her.
- In Guild Wars Prophecies, after fighting your way through the fortress of the Mursaat, who were conquering the entire continent at that time, you (unknowingly) release the Titans which come under the control of the Lich Lord, who has been manipulating the Players for some time by then. You have to kill the Titans too of course.
- In Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn, a powerful wizard can summon various massive demons like Cacofiends and Pit Fiends to face whatever the enemy is. But unless you cast Protection from Evil on your party, it will then go after you. The expansion pack takes it Up to Eleven. First, there's the Summon Elemental spell that high level druids get. It normally summons a powerful elemental, but occasionally it will instead summon an Elemental Prince who's not only more powerful than the previously mentioned Pit Fiend, it's also not hostile so you don't have to worry about it turning on you. Then there's the wizard spell Summon Solar. A Solar is the highest rank of angel who again isn't hostile to you and combines awesome physical might with powerful spellcasting ability. It doesn't matter who or what you're fighting, the Solar is going to put the hurt on them.
- In Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich you summon your greatest enemy, the Time Master, an insane supervillain with complete control over time and space to fight Entropy, an insane supervillain who grows more powerful as things become more chaotic while she's in the process of ripping the universe apart.
- The Immortal. So, you end up in a flooded dungeon. You row left, you get sucked and drowned by a whirlpool. You row right, you get chased and drowned by tentacled monster. Solution? Lure tentacled monster into a whirlpool. You get better.
- The 'Summon Baatezu' ability given to Hellfire Warlocks in Neverwinter Nights 2 works like this. A powerful Devil will fight by your side for a number of rounds, but if you keep it around too long, it might turn on you...
- Played with in inFAMOUS, the reason the ray sphere was made was because Kessler needed to make Cole strong enough to be able to stop the Beast, which Kessler himself had already failed to beat, therefore he went back in time to power his former self up until he became a "bigger fish". Zig Zagged Trope. indeed
- That's not even the end of it. In inFAMOUS 2, it's revealed that during the events of the first game, one of the helpful NPCs was accidentally turned into the fish that Cole was supposed to be bigger than, before he had a chance to become bigger than it!
- Subverted, and then paired with Nice Job Breaking It Villain, in Tales of Phantasia. Dhaos needs a Mana Seed to revive his dying homeworld but the only way he can get it is from the World Tree; which humans are bleeding dry through their use of Magitek. So he sends (what he thinks) is an even stronger army of monsters out to smash their weaponry, resulting in the biggest conflict in the world's history. However, not only do his efforts completely fail (because the humans have the Five-Man Band on their side), but it's implied that the war he kickstarted led to the version of the present where Mana is all but gone; making it impossible for him to fulfil his goal anyway.
- Done twice in the Golden Sun series.
- An antagonistic, but not evil, example occurs for the final battle of The Lost Age, wherein the heroes are the "Big Fish". So, what Bigger Fish does the Wise One summon to stop them? Why, a three-headed dragon made from their parents, of course! The heroes win, obviously, but the intention was still there.
- Part of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn revolves around you hunting down and activating the biggest BFG in Weyard's history so it can be used to destroy the Grave Eclipse; which has blanketed half the world in darkness, from which Demonic Spiders are appearing to kill everything.
- In the ending of the normal path in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, the heroes face the finalboss, three Physical Gods merged into a single monster. After initially beating it, said villain devours the souls of a bunch of its followers and creates two clones of itself. With no other options, the main character Revya gives Gig, a Physical God who was also living inside him/her, full control the body, while Gig assuring that they'd both still be alive after he gave up control to convince Danatte to agree. Gig easily kills all three monsters, but dies since not taking control of Revya left him without a body, but Heaphness revives him in the ending anyways.
- In Monster Hunter Tri, A relatively low-level monster known as the Qurupeco has the ability to mimic the calls of other monsters and summon them to its aid. In higher-level hunts, this usually involves monsters much nastier than it is.
- If they have hunters of lower ranks, sometimes a group will intentionally try and make the Qurupeco summon said bigger fish.
- In Dragon Age II, it's implied that one of the reasons Knight-Commander Meredith lets Mage!Hawke roam free is because she recognises that someone who single-handedly managed to curb-stomp the Arishok is not to be trifled with and would be better used as a weapon to turn against Kirkwall's enemies.
- Star Bound allows you to literally summon bigger fish using the admin command /spawnmonster largefish.
- StarCraft: Arcturus Mengsk used the Confederacy's own psi technology to manipulate the Zerg into attacking the Confederacy.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, at one point during the Sith Inquisitor storyline on Corellia, they have the option to unleash a horde of zoo animals into Darth Thanaton's complex to wipe out his guards, while they hide behind a column and enjoy the show.
- Sometimes happens in World of Tanks with platoons. Players who select light tanks will sometimes run out, spot enemy tanks, and then try to run back towards friendly tanks hoping the enemy tanks will be stupid enough to follow. Given the random nature of the match making system, it can either lead to an idiot that died for nothing, and caused his whole team to fail, or, half the enemy team, including some of their best tanks being baited into an ambush.
- Jagged Alliance Almost literal if playing JA 2 in Sci Fi mode during the side quest to kill the Crepitus. While exploring the mines, the character of M.D. will comment that he wished that he had some giant krill eating fish to deal with the party's giant bug problem.
- You can do this with the Halloween bosses in Team Fortress 2. Is there a player on the enemy team giving you a hard time while you try to fight the boss? Play as a Scout or Spy and bait one of the various goofy abominations over to him and make them his problem, since no one player has the power to tackle a Halloween threat on their own...just be sure to run away before the monsters decide to come after you next.
- In Alien: Isolation, surviving humans aboard the Sevastopol station are usually hostile, armed, and travel in groups, making it a poor choice to attack them head on. Throwing a scratch-build noisemaker device in the middle of their ranks will summon the titular Xenomorph, who can tear through them like so much tissue paper. However, this leaves you in the room with a relentless hungry super-predator who can adapt to your behavior, is faster than you, and is immune to all of your low-powered weapons. If you can't sneak past them, sometimes taking on an armed mob is the smart option.
- In Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, the threat of this trope can be used on the Big Bad if you know how the Fortune Engine works. True to form, you can point out you've crossed the Godzilla Threshold in the process: If you don't do it, the Big Bad kills you and turns Kowloon into her own private hellscape. If you do, every single Yama King kill you and the Big Bad and turn Kowloon into a series of public hellscapes. Functionally there's no difference to you since you'll die horribly either way and Kowloon is hardly going to get much worse from having several Demonic Invaders fighting each other over territory than a single one owning the whole pot.
- The story mode of Terrordome the Game: Rise of the Boogeymen has two instances of this:
- Knowing that they can't beat the Cenobites by themselves, Ash Williams and Herbert West summon Pumpkinhead to fight them.
- At the end of The Tall Man's story mode, Cenobites are unable to beat him since an another version of him will simply appear whenever he is defeated, forcing them turn to their master Leviathan for help. When confronted by Leviathan's power, The Tall Man decides to retreat from their dimension.
- Darths & Droids is the Trope Namer. Ironically, this never happens with the character who is convinced he can do that. (Except in two non-canon bonus strips). In this later strip Han says he did it on purpose with the giant space wyrm, but he could be lying or delusional like Qui-Gon.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Garland has the innate power to summon any kind of monster. Problem is, he's not very smart.
- Nukees: Gav, when in the after life and faced with a giant snake, decides to summon the god of alcohol, who has sworn to kill Gav.
- After Bun-Bun first shows up in Sluggy Freelance Torg and Riff try to get rid of him by hiring a grizzly bear to be the new Team Pet, on the condition that he gets rid of Bun-Bun first. Turns out grizzly bear < mini lop.
- Lightning Made of Owls has Summon Bigger Cthulhu. As if one wasn't enough.
- When Mike of College Roomies From Hell gets attacked by a large octopus, he realizes the small knife he has won't be enough to win the battle so he cuts himself, attracting a shark with the smell of his blood to attack the octopus for him.
- This happens in It's Walky! when SEMME is attacked by the Britjas (British ninjas; don't ask). After getting fought to a stalemate, they use the Power Booster Rod (a tree branch containing absurd amounts of extradimensional energy; again, don't ask) to summon The Wanderer, a being with god-like power who is very interested in keeping dimensional travelers out of his dimension. The Britjas are travelers from another dimension. Guess what happens.
- Done as Parody in Nodwick, the heroes are going to make a barbeque for the locals so they go out hunting. The first thing they catch is a rabbit, which they use as bait to start climbing the food chain until they catch a tarrasque, one of the biggest and most fearsome (and also most foul smelling) animals in the world.
- Done in Grim Tales from Down Below. Twice. The first time wasn't so effective and the second time got copied and lost the effectiveness of his best attack. Then the monster got serious only to be beaten by The Power of Love.
- Dominic Deegan pulls this off here
- Done to some interesting effect an early Apple Valley. In an attempt to counter a giant rampaging Apple of Chaos (evil cousin to The Apple of Discord), Doctor Hubris uses a magic wish to summon Gayzilla from a sister comic by the same author. A careful read-through of the archives shows that Gayzilla did *not* exist as part of the Apple Valley continuity beforehand, but has ever since.
- What do you say to an angry god to keep from getting killed? If you're a character in User Friendly, the answer is "Hastur Hastur Hastur."
- In The 10 Doctors, the Ninth Doctor utterly defeats the Black and White Guardian... by warping into the same time/place location with so many selves that it summons the Reapers.
- Slight variation in Exterminatus Now: The bigger fish (a greater daemon) had been summoned previously. When the Big Bad becomes an ascended daemon prince, the heroes trick him into going into the room with the bigger fish.
Morth: I see you mortals! Ha, "mortals"! I love it! You fools, that's a dead end! You have nowhere left to run. [Harry and Rogue, who were hiding behind the door, shut it behind him.] Where are you Harry? Ho ho! The fox has gone to the ground.Cerberus: Then release the hounds!
- Tower of God: To dispose of Lurker, Ja Wangnan calls upon the help of the only guy who can help: an admitted religious fanatic and terrorist who proclaimed before that he'd fail everyone in the current batch of Regulars. The subversion kicks in the moment you remember that said terrorist is former main character 25th Baam, probably one of the nicest guys around.
- In Kickassia, the resistance invoke this trope onto Spoony, convincing him to give into the Dr. Insano inside him to combat the Nostalgia Critic. Note that Linkara thought it was a stupid plan and asked if Angry Joe was high when he planned it. Also, it didn't work and indirectly caused Santa Christ's death.
- In one Global Guardians story, the Crimebusters (a bunch of well-meaning low powered heroes in the same vein as the Mystery Men) encounter the Fatal Five, a team of rather high-powered villains. The various members of the Crimebusters flee after taunting the villains, and then lead them on a chase across Manhattan... and right into the publicly-accessible lobby of Global Guardians headquarters.
- In the "Super Best Friends" episode of South Park David Blaine has brought the giant stone statue of Abraham Lincoln to life and it is terrorizing Washington, DC. The SBFs solution: build a giant stone statue of John Wilkes Booth, which sneaks up behind the Lincoln statue and shoots it in the back of the head.
- In the first segment of Futurama: "Anthology of Interest I", a 500-foot Bender is attacking New New York City. According to Prof. Farnsworth, the only thing that could stop him would be "an even more equally big monster", and so he uses his growth ray on Zoidberg to battle him.
- In the Grand Finale of Jackie Chan Adventures, Shendu is freed to combat his son Drago, who had absorbed the powers of all of Shendu's siblings. While they are battling, Uncle sends them both into another dimension.
- There were a few occasions where The Real Ghostbusters had to let the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man out of the containment unit to fight another huge ghost hand-to-hand while they figured out how to put it down for good.
- The Venture Bros.' Brock Samson engineered a situation like this when he and the Ventures were simultaneously hounded by the OSI and the Monarch, pitting the two against each other as a double use of the trope.
- Jerry from Tom and Jerry sometimes sought protection from Tom in Spike the bulldog. Odd, since in Real Life dogs also kill mice and rats, sometimes just for fun.
- One of the great moments in Robot Chicken: The Peanuts gang have almost all been killed off by The Great Pumpkin, and Charlie Brown, fleeing for his life, cowers at the base of the tree. The Great Pumpkin notices all the half-eaten kites and has time for an Oh Crap! before this Crowning Moment of Awesome:
Charlie Brown: Meet the kite-eating tree, you ugly son of a bitch!
- In Jonny Quest The Real Adventures, the Quests enlist the aid of an Animal Wrongs Group they had a run in a few episodes earlier, to stop Surd who happens to be brainwashing whales.
- In the episode "The Shrieking Madness" of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Scooby and the gang face Char Gar Gothakon, The Terror that Hath No Name, a creation of H.P. Hatecraft. In the course of defeating the Cthulhu stand-in, they get assistance from Harlan Ellison. Seriously. (This was easily the weirdest Scooby doo episode ever.)
- From an episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. After getting it handed to her pretty well by her crazy, full anodite cousin Sunny, Gwen admits she can't beat her. And promptly calls her other full anodite relative, her Grandma Verdona, who easily puts Sunny in her place.
- Done in the original series too, during Secret of the Omnitrix. When Vilgax and his giant robots are set to annihilate Ben and his friends, Azmuth unlocks Way Big, Ben's strongest alien form, a giant who throws Vilgax into space like a softball.
- The Simpsons did this 4 times in a row: in "Bart the Mother" Bart accidentally kills a bird and nurses her eggs out of guilt. When the eggs hatch, they turn out to be of a voracious species of lizard that eats birds and leaves eggs in their nests. Bart releases them and Skinner tells him he has no idea what he has unleashed ...and later is commended for it because the lizards wiped out the pigeon population, which the town considered a plague.
Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
- An episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog has Eustace turn into the Monster of the Week; a kangaroo monster, which was known for jumping onto things to death (and is extinct as the dinosaurs). As he's jumping all over the world with Muriel hostage, Courage's computer tells him that "the only thing that can stop a kangaroo monster, is ANOTHER kangaroo monster". Reluctantly, Courage undergoes the same transformation Eustace did (kangaroo monster bone transplant) and proceeds to fight him in Paris, France.
- The American Dad! episode "Bully for Steve" has Stan act as Steve's bully in an attempt to toughen him up. Steve, after getting fed up with his dad, contacts Stan's former bully, Stelio Kantos, who proceeds to beat his dad up.
- Of the "immediately bites you in the ass" variety in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 1". Discord gets sent to deal with Tirek, but it backfires when Tirek talks him into switching sides.
- The Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 1 episode "Bombad Jedi" culminates in Jar Jar Binks (who else!) befriending a gigantic alien fish on Rodia and summoning it to take on Nute Gunray and his droid soldiers that have Padmé captive. Looks like someone on the writing team was a fan of Darths & Droids.
- Discussed in the Wander over Yonder episode "The Brainstorm" when Lord Hater asks what Peepers' plan is should Wander impede their attempt to conquer a planet with a picnic:
Lord Hater: What if Wander throws a picnic, and invites the Watchdogs, and because his pie is so good they all go?
Peepers: We'll bring giant ants.
Lord Hater: What if he knows a giant anteater?
Peepers: We'll bring a giant anteater eater.
Lord Hater: What if he brings a—
Peepers: And so on!
- At one point in Young Justice, several low tier heroes are pinned down by Black Beetle, easily a Superman level threat. Arsenal responds to this by releasing Mongul. You know a guy who tried to exterminate all sentient life on Earth a week ago and was barely stopped.
- The Flamin' Thongs: After accidentally summoning the alien Kevins - who plan To Serve Man - to earth, the Thongs solve the problem by summoning another alien race who eat Kevins.
- In one Samurai Jack, Jack is being chased down by the Minions of Set, Nigh Invulnerable demons who completely outclass Jack. He wins by summoning Ra, who obliterates the Minions of Set with ease.
- Gravity Falls; in the episode "Fight Fighters", Dipper pisses Robbie off and the two agree to have a fight. Knowing he'll lose against the teen, Dipper ends up summoning a character from the titular Fighting Game to proxy for him. Things go wrong when the character takes the job seriously and tries to kill Robbie, forcing Dipper to fight.
- In Dan Vs. "Canada", Chris saves Dan from a yeti by transforming into a bear.
- Has happened a few times with invasive species. An example is in Australia, where rabbits had become a serious problem, so foxes were imported to try to kill the rabbits. As often with this trope, the foxes became a problem in themselves, while having little effect on the rabbits.
- While we're on the subject of rabbits, it's theorized that the reason they scream bloody murder when seized by a predator is because it just might invoke this trope, causing a rival predator to intervene and giving the rabbit a slim chance to get away or at very least make predators too scared to hunt the rabbits.
- Also, dinoflagellates light up when they are being eaten, in order to literally summon a bigger fish (that presumably does not eat dinoflagellates) to consume their current attacker.
- When eaten by a turtle, the Portuguese man-of-war releases a shark-attracting chemical.
- Some deep-sea jellyfish light up when being eaten by fish as so they will attract bigger fish or squid to eat the other fish.
- Can often happen in geopolitical situations as well. See, for example, the U.S. supporting mujaheddin in Afghanistan.
- A reason a great many people in many nations supported Nazi Germany was because they wanted to build it up to oppose the U.S.S.R.
- The best example that comes to mind is Finland. The Soviets were looking over the border and remembering the White Terror, and soon enough invaded. The Finns put up a good fight; ironically, their performance was caused largely by the Soviets, and then they signed up with the Nazis, whom the USSR was just not ready to deal with quite yet. A bigger fish indeed. The Finns wanted to join up with the UK and the US, but the USSR, being on the side of the allied powers, prevented it.
- The USSR in general was this with the allies; had the Nazis and USSR simply gone to war with each other, most of the rest of Europe would have been happy to let them kill each other. The net result was the occupation of half of Europe by the Soviets after the war ended and forty years of Cold War.
- The Aztec and Incan empires were so brutal to the people they ruled that many of the lesser Indian nations were more than willing to join the conquistadores in conquering those empires.
- An example of this Gone Horribly Wrong happened in mid-18th century Texas. In 1749, several Apache bands rode into San Antonio and announced to the Spanish colonial authorities there that they wanted to make peace, convert to Christianity, and become loyal subjects of Spanish crown; They would do this if the Spanish would come and establish a mission and a fort in their territory. This smelled fishy from the start and many Spaniards doubted the Apaches' sincerity, but eventually the padres and the optimists in the government won out and by 1757 the fort and the mission were established on the bank of the San Saba river. The Apaches had been losing their war with the Comanches, and in fact they had tricked the Spanish into building their settlement in the territory of the Comanches—who they knew would consider this an act of war—in the hope that the Spanish would deal with the Comanches. In March 1758 a huge force of Comanches came and massacred the padres on the mission while the soldiers and civilians cowered inside the fort, and in October 1759 the Spaniards' punitive expedition of 600 men encountered such a large force of Comanches that they scattered and ran almost immediately, resulting in the most humiliating defeat the Spanish had suffered in the New World.
- A very popular video shows some lions attacking a cape buffalo calf near a watering hole. The struggles of the calf in the water attract a crocodile, which tries to fight the lions for their prey and gives the calf a chance to escape. However, the crocodile loses and the lions are about to set upon the calf. Then the entire cape buffalo herd masses on them...
- When Kuwait was invaded by Iraq and completely overwhelmed, it resorted to asking the United States to push Iraq out knowing America had interests in it. This mostly worked as intended, with America and its coalition allies beating Iraq easily despite initial fears, though Iraq getting desperate during the coalition air campaign pummeling for weeks sadly resulted in them dumping a large amount of Kuwait's oil into the sea and setting its oil wells on fire in a desperate attempt to force the coalition to attack.
- Troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban invoke this trope with a side of Death from Above in the shape of the Apache attack helicopter.
- And if that does not work, bring on the A-10s. Still not working? Call for an AC-130. Still in trouble? Have a B-2 swing by and deliver a 5,000 pound JDAM. Really, the U.S field manual on air support ought to be called How To Summon Bigger Bomb.
- In The Korean War South Korea was getting steamrolled by North Korea, when they called the UN for help more than a dozen nations come in to their help and turned the tables on the North, then the USSR and China had to come in and help North Korea. To this very day, North Korea's defensive military strategy is, "Help! China, save us!" This has gotten to the point where some Chinese leaders think it's high time that they just make it clear that this big fish refuses to be summoned.
- The "King Cotton" doctrine was the South's attempt to invoke this trope during The American Civil War. In essence, they figured that British and French industry were so dependent on Southern cotton that they would come to the Confederacy's rescue and secure its independence. However, the Union understood this, threatening Britain with war if it started to aid the South, practicing assiduous diplomacy to persuade Europe to keep out of the conflict, and tailoring rhetoric and policy decisions—such as the Emancipation Proclamation—to win British and French public opinion to the Union side. It worked—Britain and France stayed out.
- It helped that Britain in particular saw what was coming, and began looking to Egypt and (especially) India as a source of cotton to avoid having to deal with the wartime disruption of cotton supplies from North America. The Raj in its final form was an unintended consequence of The American Civil War.
- Large amounts of Dark Ages history in Europe can be summarised as 'Local King Hires Mercenaries', 'Local King Fails to Pay Mercenaries', 'Unpaid Mercenaries Take Over Kingdom'.
- The entire concept of NATO is this. Invade any NATO country or declare war on one of them, and the entire rest of NATO promptly declares war on you.
- Some insects such as caterpillars obtain protection from ants against their predators by secreting sugar to the ants.
- Some plant species can, when attacked by insect pests, send out chemical calls to summon wasps, which eat the other bugs.
- Ravens have been reported to mimic the howling of wolves when they find a deer or other large prey animal trapped in snow or underbrush. The howling attracts the attention of real wolves, who come to check out the possible intruder; instead, they find and kill the deer, and the ravens get to scavenge the carcass's remnants.