Protip: if your opponent has dark energy radiating from their body, don't block; run. *
Some characters are defensive powerhouses, like the Barrier Warrior
who raises the use of Deflector Shields
into an unassailable art form. One popular tactic for dealing with such a formidable defense is to use an attack that their defenses can't block, an Unblockable Attack. It can be a punch, weapon, or spell that if it connects breaks whatever defenses the target has and leaves them reeling. This attack is so
powerful that even a perfectly timed Block
won't work, the only choices the target has are dodging (thus dropping their defense) or preemptively attacking before
their assailant finishes their attack.
The Unblockable Attack usually has one or more drawbacks to keep it from being naturally overpowering. It may have a Charged Attack
mechanic so the defender can potentially survive either by immediately dodging or jabbing very fast
to stop the charge-up. Another limitation is it doesn't usually have a lot of Area of Effect
or "splash" damage, giving the target plenty of space to run to in order to avoid getting hit. Similarly it will not be an Always Accurate Attack
that can home in on targets wherever they may be and even if they dodge (in fact, an Always Accurate Attack
will probably do less damage as a tradeoff)
. If the unblockable attack lacks these drawbacks it gives the attacker an Instant Death Radius
that makes the game Nintendo Hard
and the opponent akin to a god.
The Unblockable Attack is similar to how a spell with No Saving Throw
will No Sell
a target's mystic and mental defenses... provided it hits. The difference is that No Saving Throw
attacks can be prevented from hitting by certain defenses, while an Unblockable attack can never be intercepted, only avoided or interrupted.
This works equally well on actual physical defenses like fists, swords and shields, as well as intangible ones like a Beehive Barrier
. The Boss Battle
is likely to have this, and Mooks
probably have attacks like this to make sure the player doesn't spend all the fight just blocking. The Unblockable Attack is usually signaled with a special animation.
In fighting games, grapple/throw maneuvers tend to be unblockable attacks as a rule, to encourage a player to use their defenses wisely; it also creates a Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors
where Defend beats Attack, Throw beats Defend, and Attack beats Throw.
See also Worf Barrage
. Compare Invulnerable Attack
and Armor-Piercing Attack
Anime and Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima! (and Love Hina) has Zanmaken: Ni no Tachi, a sword attack designed to ignore all and any magic barriers.
- In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, when the titular hero fights against Ethan Stanley, he wins with a technique that he learned from The Elder himself and for which there is no defense, at least when the opponent is a non-master-class fighter. However, when Kenichi uses the same technique against Tirawit Koukin, Kenichi's Genre Savvy opponent, instead of trying to defend himself, simply launches a counter-attack.
- In A Certain Magical Index, One of Fiamma of the Right's powers via the Holy Right is to annihilate anything it hits without any destructive force, resulting in this. And there's no known drawbacks to using it.
- In A Certain Scientific Railgun, a minor villain has the ability "Equal Speed", which cause anything he throws to never lose momentum unless he breaks his concentration. He demonstrates by throwing a marble at a steel door. The marble plows right through it despite it moving so slowly.
- Fate/stay night gives us Gae Bolg, Lancer's spear which has an Always Accurate One-Hit Kill attack. When its ability activates the spear pierces the target's heart and reality is then rewritten to match that outcome. If you have a high enough Luck Stat or Divinity it's possible to avoid having your heart pierced and 'only' take an almost-unhealable hit elsewhere on your body.
- In Turn A Gundam, this is one reason the Moonlight Butterfly is so powerful: it cannot be blocked. At best, some extremely powerful energy barriers were deployed against it and barely slowed it down; the ships generating the barriers succumbed to the attack and were forced down within minutes. And forget about avoiding it: in the backstory, the Turn A covered the entire Earth with it. The Turns are the only MS's that can resist it, due to their own nanomachine repair systems, and even they ended up sealed for eternity by each other's MB.
- In Bleach:
- Äs Nödt's Fear thorns can pass through any barrier, even a wall of ice. The only defense is to dodge or be immune to them.
- Lille Barro wields a sniper rifle with blockable bullets. However, when he activates his special ability, The X-Axis, his rifle doesn't fire a projectile. Instead, his target and everything between his target and rifle's muzzle simply gets a hole punched through it.
- The Crane kick from The Karate Kid. Completely unstoppable in the first film, but when Daniel tries it in a real fight in the first sequel his opponent just sidesteps it and uses his momentum against him.
- Avada Kedavra from Harry Potter cannot be blocked by shielding spells, and moves too fast for most wizards to get something in the way in time. It's also unsurvivable under normal circumstances, meriting it the rank of Unforgivable. The only way to stop it is to dodge it or put something like an immortal phoenix or a magical statue between yourself and it.
- Legend of the Seeker is the TV version of the Sword of Truth books. In the book, the Sword cuts through everything. TV dropped that because sword fights are more exciting.
- Additionally, subtractive magic. Any subtractive magic.
- Dungeons & Dragons, particularly older editions, reveled in all kinds of "no-save" spells, i.e. spells that offered the target no chance to avoid, defend, or even mitigate damage or other effects.
- Exalted has various Charms that make an attack unblockable, undodgeable, or both. Of course, attacks like this will always fail before a perfect defense.
- Art of Fighting's Ryuko Ranbu couldn't be blocked and was so devastating that only Ryo, Robert, and the game's secret boss Mr. Karate had access to it. It was toned down in The King of Fighters, particularly the later installments where it was made blockable and did considerably less damage. At least, until 2002, where Robert gained a HDM version that has short range (as opposed to the usual fullscreen dash animation), but is again unblockable and drains just over half the opponent's energy.
- Worth noting that Art of Fighting was the first fighting game to feature unblockables along with desperation attacks in general.
- Michelangelo pays homage to Ryuko Ranbu with his own rendition of it in the SNES version of TMNT: Tournament Fighters. As is the case in Art of Fighting, Mikey's "rage guage" must be full, resulting in a full screen dash and an unblockable beatdown.
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow gives every monster this mechanic.
- In Distorted Travesty, "death wheels" (late game obstacles/attacks) cannot be dashed through.
- In the Gundam Battle Assault line of games, Beam Saber attacks are unblockable, but slower to strike (and more telegraphed) than normal attacks. Deathscythe Custom's beam scythe, which it uses for its regular attacks, are also unblockable.
- The Mega Man series has attacks that can damage Shielded mooks:
- Mega Man 4 has the Rain Flush, which is a rare case of an Unavoidable Unblockable Attack. It even enemies like Metools that re under their helmets!
- Mega Man 6 has the Power Adaptor's charged attack.
- Mega Man 9 has the Black Hole Bomb and the Tornado Blow. The former sucks in regular Mooks (including shielded ones), the latter blows everything off the screen (and is also unavoidable).
- In Iji, mercy invincibility won't protect you from being hit by the Velocithor, Nuke or Phantom Hammer.
- Ralf Jones (originally from Ikari Warriors) gains in later installments of The King of Fighters a (S)DM (that's KOF terminology for a super) called Galactica Phantom. It's unblockable and does absurd damage off the bat. Using it as a counter deals even more damage to opponents (it can even result in an instant KO), and the move can even bite a chunk out of the bosses' lifebar. The tradeoff? It takes quite a few seconds to fully charge, making it something of a Death or Glory Attack. And even if your opponent gives you the time to muster up your strength, a simple jump or roll is all that's needed to dodge it. The only exception to this is EX2: Howling Blood, where the move has a much shorter charge time (at the expense of some power) and is included as one of Ralf's normal specials.
- The Legendary Pokémon Giratina has a hugely powerful Signature Move called Shadow Force. Giratina disappears on the first turn and strikes on the next. The only way to not get hit by Shadow Force is to Dig or Fly, or be a normal type immune to Ghost attacks.
- Similarly (but less impressively), the move Feint can hit through Protect and Detect.
- A lesser example is Brick Break, which hits through Reflect and Light Screen for full damage and dispels them.
- In Mabinogi's Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, the Smash attack can break through the Defend move. No melee attack works against the Counter Attack move, though.
- The (melee) Windmill attack is uncounterable... but it's very blockable.
- In Vindictus, smash attacks cannot be Guarded by Fiona's shield, but they can be blocked using Heavy Stander.
- These are a staple of the Soul series, with virtually every character having at least one unblockable move. They are typically slow, highly telegraphed, and can be easily ducked or dodged by an alert opponent. Should it land, however, the resulting damage is often quite high.
- The Soul Charge ability also present in the games makes some more common attacks unblockable as well.
- This is also the case for Tekken, another Namco fighting series that preceded Soul Edge and Soulcalibur.
- In Street Fighter IV every character has access to the Focus Attack. When charged to full power, it is unblockable. It also will ignore the first hit you take. Every character also has access to one attack that shutsdown the Focus Attack, though.
- This actually appeared earlier than IV, in the form of the Guard Break from Street Fighter EX. By using up a portion of the super bar, the character in question would wind up and deliver a strike that would nullify the opposing player's guard and cause them to stagger around while dazed for a few seconds. If it connected with an airborne player, they would instead be relaunched into the air for another juggle. Like the Focus Attack, these moves could also be countered.
- Two Dark creatures Spiral Knights have attacks that cannot be completely shielded. Grimalkins main attack ignores shields and Apocrean Harvesters which deal reduced damage though shields, in a game where shields usually completely block attacks.
- There are quite a few of these in Mortal Kombat. Sheeva is practically a specialist in this, with a jump move that crushes the opponent (but can be easily sidestepped), a ground stomp that hits the entire level (but anyone in the air avoids it), and four separate grab moves.
- Fear Is Vigilance has the body-slam attack — which is slow, but breaks through blocking.
- On top of the usual throws, almost all Final Smash attacks in Super Smash Bros. Brawl are unblockable, even by characters with special countering attacks.
- Many of the stronger enemies and bosses in Dark Souls have attacks that will hurt you no matter how good your shield is, and many of them ignore parrying.
- Although if you boost your Endurance enough and carry a high stability shield, you can block pretty much anything, even from things five times your size.
- Elemental damage also works this way. If your shield doesn't block magic damage, even the most pathetic Soul Arrow will punch straight through.
- Also played with a little with some attacks. Getting hit with a high-powered attack (such as a hit from a sword the size of a bus) will always knock you over unless you're using some form of enchantment to keep you stable. However, if you get your shield in front of it and have high enough Endurance, you'll flip in midair and make a Three-Point Landing, taking no additional damage and recovering almost instantly. Of course, you'll probably take a beating to your stamina, but it still looks cool.
- This also goes for your attacks on enemies as well. An upgraded Zweihander will one-hit crushbliterate any Hollow soldier right through its big, black shield.
- El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron has a Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors weapon system for the player, with a sword, bow and shield. The shield is slow, has a minuscule range, and has no super speed moves, but it not only allows to move while blocking, it can block otherwise unblockable attacks even from bosses! Granted, some of the bosses do have unblockable attacks (or that eventually wear down the weapon's durability and break it mid block) but the shield averts this trope in relation to the other weapons.
- Low blows in Fight Night are unblockable because there is no "Guard Family Jewels" button. While ordinarily this will get you disqualified, it often take 2-3 for the ref to do it, so you can safely knock a guy out once with a cheap shot. Or you can turn Disqualification off entirely and crotch-punch your way to the championship.
- Some artes in the Tales Series have the ability to break through guards at a certain rate, and abilities that allow you to charge your attacks can often add this property to them, as well. Bosses also frequently have them to encourage to use of side/backsteps or free run to avoid damage instead.
- Exists in the fighting game installments of Touhou, usually come from Remilia (ginormous penetrator spear), or Marisa (Wave Motion Gun).
- The wall of fire Dogadon creates in his battle with Chunky Kong in Donkey Kong 64 (it can still be dodged).
- Playstation All Stars Battle Royale has Charged Attacks, like Kratos' Head of Helios and Spike's Magic Punch. Cinematic Level 3 Supers (like the ones used by Spike, PaRappa and Heihachi) combine this with Always Accurate Attack and Smart Bomb.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy has multiple tiers of priority for attacks and blocks, so determining what constitutes a proper Unblockable Attack is a bit tricky. But if your character has no moves with blocking property, then all HP attacks and some Braves are unblockable, if your character has a good-priority blocking move then HP attacks are unblockable, if you're Jecht, then nothing is unblockable but the high-priority ones will stagger you too, and if you're Exdeath, nothing is unblockable, full stop. And to mix things up a bit, there's the Emperor's Starfall attack: essentially no matter who you are, if he finishes casting Starfall, you are getting hit. If he finishes—Starfall requires about eight seconds to charge.
- Pick a Shin Megami Tensei game and you'll spot this trope. Persona 3 has the infamous (and aptly named) "Armageddon" attack, which cannot miss, cannot be blocked, and can destroy almost any opponent in a rather spectacular fashion. If it's a That One Boss, it almost always can inflict Almighty damage, giving the boss the option of wiping out the party immediately or — in the more sadistic variant — when the boss gets bored and the player has come to believe victory is possible. The bonus bosses break the game's damage limit. Aside from Armageddon, however, it is possible to miss and/or dodge an Almighty attack; these attacks simply can't be blocked by anything.
- About 40% of all attacks in Final Fantasy VI are this. Doesn't necessarily make any given attack stronger, though.
- World of Warcraft: While any attack can become this if the attacker has enough hit rating, tanking classes generally get abilities that always hit to ensure that they can keep the attention of bosses. The Warriors Overpower is notable for being usable mostly AFTER an enemy has avoided one of their other attacks.
- Flechette of Worm can make any object she touches completely ignore most of the laws of physics for a short time, which allows any projectiles she uses to bypass any and all defenses until they are already inside her target.
- Note this falls into Reality Warper territory as it even overrides other No Sell powers like "automatically undo my death with time travel". This allows her to kill Gray Boy and Scion. It's revealed her power was originally a sting super-powered Eldritch Abominations used to kill each other.