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- Ed does this to Truth at the end of Fullmetal Alchemist by offering the one thing it views as a fair price for his brother. His ability to perform alchemy. And he doesn't mind one bit as long as he has his friends and family. Truth comes across as not just impressed, but proud of him.
- In Dragon Ball, during the climax of Goku's fight with King Piccolo, Goku launches at his foe and tears a hole through his chest. King Piccolo, a Sealed Evil in a Can who is the evil counterpart of Kami, the God of Earth, is simply amazed by his defeat. In the manga version he even praises Goku by saying "brilliant".
- In Dragon Ball Z, whenever one of the weaker characters manages to hurt, survive, or show unusual skill to the seemingly Nigh Invulnerable villain that's curbstomping them.
- In the Saiyan Saga, Raditz gets impressed by Goku and Piccolo being able to amplify their power by taking off weighted clothing, as well as their ability to focus their power in a single attack.
- Frieza gets quite a few in the Frieza Arc.
- Frieza get impressed by Nail showing off a power level of 42,000 (on par with the Ginyu Force), as well as revealing he can regenerate lost limbs.
- He is also repeatedly taken aback by Goku's skill and power. Being shocked when he knocks back Frieza's Death Beams, hitting him with a Kaio-ken x 20 Kamehameha, and seeing Goku generate a massive Spirit Bomb which he narrowly survives. Of course all this changes when Goku turns Super Saiyan and Freeza no longer has Cthulu status.
- Tien being able to hold Semi-perfect Cell at bay using the Neo-Tribeam was an extremely commendable feat, considering how far apart their strength levels are. Cell even remarks how he was stopped by Tien of all people.
- Perfect Cell is willing to do this, as all he really wants is a good fight. He compliments Trunks on his power, and is legitimately impressed when Gohan turns out to be almost as strong as Goku, after initially dismissing Gohan as nothing more than a boy. Of course, once Gohan surpasses him as a Super Saiyan 2, Cell gets less gracious.
- Anyone who fights Beerus and doesn't get utterly curbstomped will elicit this response from him, and even then he just feels like he got a fun workout.
- One-Punch Man: Saitama is the most powerful hero alive, and no monster so far in the series has been able to give him a good fight. However, he does occasionally compliment both heroes and villains on their strength or heroism. Notably, he congratulates Mumen Rider on a nice fight after he is brutally beaten by the Sea King, as he stood up to the monster with no chance of winning.
- Naruto. Naruto is able to gain the nine-tailed fox demon Kurama's trust during his fight with Obito by freeing the Four Tails.
- One Piece. At the end of the Fishmen Island Arc, the Sea Kings catch the boat before hits the island and are notably impressed by the great effort Luffy put up, even saying they were glad they got there when they did or else he would have completely destroyed it.
- Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo, the Big Bad of the movie, is locked in relentless combat with Mew, determined to prove he's the superior one. Ash however sees all the violence between the Pokemon and the legendaries as pointless and horrible and is desperate to stop it. This leads to him performing a Heroic Sacrifice which leads to him being petrified. Fortunately, all the other Pokemon and their clones are brought to tears by this and the tears revive him. Amazed by this, Mewtwo decides the battle is pointless now, finally seeing value in himself and the clones, and decides to stop his storm which would have destroyed the planet otherwise.
- Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life: After Arceus destroys a meteor, Arceus ends up crashing into the Earth and loses its Life Plates. Damos is able to bring one to it, allowing Arceus to revive itself and reclaim its other plates. In gratitude, Arceus creates the Jewel of Life and Damos uses it to bring life to Michina Town.
- In Ranma ˝,
- During the Herb Arc. Ryoga momentarily gets killed by Lime. He enters the afterlife where he meeting his deceased grandparents, who convince him to return. His spirit then returns to his body where he unleashes the most powerful Ki Attack ever shown in the series which crushes Lime. Herb, who borderlines on being a Physical God, watches from a distance and is utterly impressed.
- During the Saffron Arc, Ranma manages to twice wow Saffron, the immortal leader of the Phoenix people. First by mastering the Kinjakan, which was previously believed only Saffron could successfully wield. A second time after Ranma manages to survive Saffron's Entire Empire Instant Annihilation Shot which no mortal should survive, by freezing himself with the Gekkaja.
- In the Marvel comic issue, Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 an alien calling himself the Champion of the Universe challenges every super on Earth to a series of one-on-one Boxing matches, with the fate of Earth at stake. He defeats every one (some by disqualification, such as the Hulk tearing his gloves off and starting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the Champion). Finally it is up to the Thing, who impresses the Champion because he just won't quit. Even after being knocked out he gets back up for more. Eventually, when the Thing is a battered bloody mess and the Champion isn't even winded, the Champion suddenly throws in the towel saying that the Thing won: while the Champion could beat the Thing he could never defeat him. And thus the Earth is saved.
- Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four, issue #288 has Doctor Doom attempt to reconstruct his original body. However, Doom succeeds in bringing forth the godlike Beyonder, who recognizes Doom from the Secret Wars arc. The Beyonder roars that he will obliterate Doom for his impudence, when Reed Richards intervenes. Reed points out that if Doom is destroyed now, there will be no Doom in the future to pluck for the Secret Wars, creating a temporal paradox. "Could you, Beyonder, survive the absolute destruction of time itself?" The Beyonder pauses, then admits, "I ... do not know." Ultimately, the Beyonder casts Doom into the future intact. Reed Richards made a god recant his judgment.
- The Mighty Thor: Pretty much any Marvel character who can wield Mjölnir besides Thor and Odin tends to get this reaction from the two of them the first time, with Beta Ray Bill and Steve Rogers being the best known examples.
- Silver Surfer: Silver Surfer's Origin Story involves a civilian named Norrin Radd impressing Galactus, a Planet Eater, with his devotion to his home planet, Zenn-La. Galactus spares Radd's planet in exchange for him becoming Galactus's herald.
- In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, Tagg manages to convince Yveltal to allow Lucius and Alice's revival by pointing out how their very universe works on narrative causality, and as such their unsatisfying deaths was jarring to near reality-breaking levels by the standards of the work, which impresses the death god after Salvador and Sol's appeals fail.
- Similarly to his comic book counterpart, Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron is really impressed when another character is able to lift Mjolnir. In this film, it's Vision.
- Bruce Almighty: Bruce Nolan, a reporter, suffers a series of unfortunate events. And during the ordeal, he calls God out for not doing his job right, saying several blasphemous lines including his trope naming line, Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!. But eventually God himself does appear and challenges Bruce to do his job better. However, he does admit that the trope naming line was Actually Pretty Funny.
God: "I'm not one for blaspheming but that one made me laugh."
- Hercules: After the battle for Olympus, Hercules goes down to Hades to get Meg's soul back. He offers the god of the underworld his soul in exchange for hers, if he can get her back from the river of death. Hades is stunned when Herc emerges from the river not only alive, but as a god.
- Eris, the Goddess of Discord, halts the execution of Sinbad in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas because he'd correctly answered her question: "Would you forfeit your life to save your friend?" At first, Eris had called him a liar, declaring Sinbad too selfish to be so noble. However, when he returns to Syracuse empty-handed, Sinbad accepts blame for the theft of the MacGuffin, vindicating his answer. Eris seems poised to squash Sinbad like a bug, but instead accedes the MacGuffin, because she gave her word.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: En Sabah Nur has accumulated countless mutant abilities over the millennia, and Professor X's sole superpower is Telepathy, yet the former's face is filled with wonder when he first perceives the latter's gift while Charles is mentally communicating with Magneto. It speaks volumes that a near-invincible, practically immortal "god" can be wowed by Xavier's skill.
Archangel: What do you see?
Apocalypse: The answer.
- The Ellimist, the Big Good, Cosmic Entity of Animorphs charged with watching over sentient life, routinely uses the heroes as pawns (he and Crayak mutually agree not to interfere directly, as the last time they did an entire systems died). Though he claims to only appear omniscient, he is impressed by things like Marco snarking in his presence or Jake's idea for neutralizing Crayak's elite shock troopers (a single memory of him and Cassie kissing makes it into the Howlers' collective genetic memory, which will lead them to stop killing things for fun).
- The Dresden Files:
- In Dead Beat, Harry Dresden is able to summon the Erlking, one of the most powerful lords of the Fae, to a summoning circle and hold him there, in order to prevent the bad guys being able to use the power of The Wild Hunt to their own ends. Later, the Erlking is so impressed by Harry raising a zombie T-Rex that he promises not to seek revenge upon Harry... this time.
- In Skin Game Harry comes face to face with Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, who proves to be a pretty nice guy who is so impressed at Harry's past exploits he just wants to shake his hand.
- In Explorers of Gor a tribe of Fantasy Counterpart Culture Zulu warriors have a massive multi-day battle against the Kurii, a group of 9 foot tall alien beasts. Before the final battle the Kurii give a salute to their human enemies in respect of their bravery.
- In one of Aesop's Fables, (specifically, The Honest Woodman) a workman dropped his axe into the river. The god Mercury found out what was wrong, and offered his aid. First Mercury pulled out a silver axe, and asked whether it was the one the workman lost. He told the god that no, it wasn't. Then Mercury pulled out a golden axe, and asked whether it was his. Again...no. Finally, Mercury pulls out the original axe. The man says yes, this is his. Impressed by his honesty, Mercury gives him the golden and silver one as well.
- David Brin's short story "Thor Meets Captain America". After the Allied team is captured, they are taken before the Norse Mythology deities who rule the Nazis. One of the Free British volunteers defies them and insults them, and is beaten to death by their Nazi captors. Odin orders that the volunteer's body be given full funeral rights and says "We value courage, even in our foes. I want that brave man with me, when Fimbul-Winter blows."
- In The Traitor Son Cycle, after Red Knight, Morgon and Ariosto manage, alone, to take down an undead dragon, the creature's masters are left with a metaphysical equivalent of a Jaw Drop, which the trio exploits with gusto to take them down.
- In Four Roads Cross, junior sorceress Tara impresses an immortal dictator with a history of punching out even bigger Cthulhus by having earned the loyalty of a gargoyle. In this universe, gargoyles are servants of a specific goddess and are normally at odds with the class of magic-using humans Tara belongs to.
- In Stephen King's It, Adult!Bill hears the voice of the Other telling him, "Son, you did real good," after he, Bill, has killed the Spider by physically squashing Its heart.
- Merlin: In "The Poisoned Chalice", Arthur is tricked by Nimueh, an elite High Priestess and one of the most potent magic users alive, into facing a Cockatrice. She watches as he fights and manages to kill it, which impresses her.
- In Game of Thrones, season 5 "Hardhome", The Night's King, an Evil Overlord and veritable Eldritch Abomination who leads the White Walkers and is capable of raising an army from the dead, is surprised when he witnesses Jon Snow survive and slay a White Walker despite having a weapon that can shatter metal. He acknowledges Jon by personally taunting him by resurrecting everyone that died in the massacre in front of him and having them all stare at him in eerie silence.
- Star Trek: The Star Trek universe has many godlike beings. Whether it's a Kirk Summation, a Patrick Stewart Speech or just the Sisko fist, the Starfleet crews always come out on top. And many times the being in question gains a new found respect for the crew.
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- "By Any Other Name": Kirk and company are taken hostage by powerful aliens. They want to take the Enterprise on a 300 year trip home. The aliens have assumed human form, then they try human food, drink and kissing. Soon the aliens and the Enterprise crew have made peace and they give back the ship.
- "Arena". During the first encounter with the Gorn, the Enterprise and the Gorn ship are stopped in space by a mysterious and powerful race called the Metrons, who take Kirk and the Gorn captain to a deserted planet to fight to the death. When Kirk finally gains the advantage, he refuses to strike the final blow which surprises the Metrons, who finally manifest before him, and admit they had not expected him to have the advanced trait of mercy.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- The episode "Justice" (season 1, episode 7) has Ensign Crusher facing execution for trampling a flower bed, according to Edo law. An alien ship in orbit above Edo, which the natives regard as their god, is monitoring the away team carefully, thwarting all attempts to rescue Wesley. It takes a Patrick Stewart Speech by Captain Picard, arguing that law without mercy is tyranny, to spare Wesley's life. The alien ship simply vanishes into another dimension, allowing the young ensign to beam aboard the Enterprise intact. And in the series finale "All Good Things", humanity is at its final chance to prove to Q, a near omniscient Reality Warper, that they are worthy of the Q Continuum lest they face destruction. To test this, Q challenges Picard to solve the mystery of an anomaly which involves Picard having to balance logic across many timelines. Picard is eventually able to solve the complex puzzle and Q tells Picard that he has his respect and that he was a Worthy Opponent, furthermore proving to the Q Continuum that humanity is still capable of evolving.
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- Doctor Who: The Doctor has been known to do this from time to time with his enemies, most notably The Master (a.k.a. Missy) and Davros. There are also countless occasions in the series where the villain recognizes the Doctor as the only person intelligent enough to appreciate their diabolical plan (often leading to the bad guy explaining said plan to the Doctor, opening the door to their defeat).
Mythology & Religion
- In the Book of Genesis, God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham is already about to go through with it when an angel tells him to stop, because it was just a test of his obedience to God. Impressed by his faith, God blesses his descendants by giving them right to the Promised Land.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn". The Great Old One Chaugnar Faugn respects people of courage, even if they're his opponents. In one case the god personally released a captured explorer who suffered through three days of hideous torture without crying out once.
- This is how most Daemon Princes earn their ascension in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, by performing some act of Villainous Valor pertaining to one of the Chaos God's interests (war, hedonism, disease, and plotting). Less impressive feats are still rewarded with mutations or gifts of Chaos.
- Overlapping with Eviler Than Thou, let's take a gander at Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile of the Emperor's Children note . He gets captured by the Dark Eldar, a race of hyper-advanced, hyper-xenophobic jaded cynic Space Elves who have built an entire civilisation on torturing other sentients. He goes to Commorragh as a captive and ends up impressing the sick bastards so much with his knowledge of flesh manipulation that they decide to tutor him and let him go. Also worth pointing out that Fabius is only nominally aligned with the Emperor's Children; he claims the Chaos Gods themselves have nothing more to offer him.
- The Legend of Zelda: Link, being The Chosen One of many stories, does it a lot.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The great Sky Spirit Valoo is most grateful to you after you destroy the monster that was harassing his tail. He repays him with a Big Damn Heroes moment later on in the game.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Link is able to gain the respect of Faron, Eldin, and Lanayru, the three dragon deities of the game and get them to teach him their parts of the Song of the Hero. Faron is the most notable example as she's quite a Jerkass God to Link at first and isn't convinced such a lowly human would be The Chosen One.
- Demon King Demise, also from Skyward Sword, is impressed by Link and Groose's courage when they stand up to him. They are nothing like the cowardly mortals who cowered behind Hylia in the past.
- In the "Leviathan" DLC of Mass Effect 3, the titular Leviathans are a race of Eldritch Abominations that consider themselves to be the apex of evolution in the galaxy. One of them expresses amazement at how the Reapers fear Shepard for defeating Sovereign and the Collectors. This actually motivates other Leviathans to reveal themselves and aid the galaxy in the war against the Reapers.
- As for the Reapers themselves, Shepard is the only being that they have ever feared and the only one they feel has ever threatened their plans. Their massive egos limit their rhetoric, but they do show a grudging respect to Shepard. Notably, they will take their ship-killing guns off entire fleets if they see Shepard on the battlefield.
- World of Warcraft: At the end of the Ulduar raid Algalon the Observer arrives to assess the situation on Azeroth and initiate "re-origination" if he determines that Azeroth has been irreversibly corrupted. The raid party cannot beat him, but if they finish the encounter he stops and considers how these tiny creatures fight so hard for the chance at life and wonders if the inhabitants on other worlds had also felt this way and determines that his own calculations can no longer be relied upon. He gives heroes the means to signal the Titans that Azeroth is well, sparing it from being wiped out.
- At the end of Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, Nyarlathotep is absolutely ecstatic at the party when he reveals his true form saying that they now can die with his highest praise.
- This is almost as common in Zelda Classic quests as it is in the official series:
- The Bonus Boss of To The Top is the Wise Old Man, who turns out to be the guardian deity of the forest and its power. Proving your strength to him is necessary to convince his replacement, Sage, to give you the power to defeat Vespoir without sending everyone trapped in the tower plummeting to their deaths.
- In Isle of Rebirth, dealing enough damage in the Hopeless Boss Fight against Venser in the Prismatic Gate impresses him enough that he gives Link the most powerful weapon in the quest: his cane. Considering that he not only possesses two pieces of the Triforce but also is the closest thing to a Great Old One that would make sense in the Zelda universe, this is no small feat, even though Link can't outright punch him out until later.
- Buttersafe: In this comic, a man manages to get lost walking to his kitchen for a snack, bumbling into his way into the Twelfth Plane of Torment to the astonishment of an Eldritch Abomination.
- Serving as the page picture, in a story of Okashina Okashi which is based off of Tenacious D's song "Tribute", they tell the story of meeting a demon who demands that they play "the best song in the world" or else it will eat their souls. They spontaneously play what turns out to be the best song in the world.
Demon: Be you angels?Tenacious D: Nay, we are but men.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
- In a similar fashion to the JLU example below that came before it, in "Darkseid Descending", Darkseid has his army of Parademons invade Earth. When he finally arrives, he easily repels the combined attack of other JL members, forcing Batman to challenge him to a fist fight. While Batman's actual attacks work as well as you'd expect, he is able to dodge Darkseid's practically unavoidable Omega Beam. Darkseid is impressed that a mere human like Batman was able to do this.
- In "Death Race to Oblivion!", Mongul has an assortment of heroes and villains pitted in a car race, where the penalty for losing is the destruction of their hometown. At one point Green Arrow crashes his car, he leaps out of the wreckage and has his bow drawn in a matter of seconds. Mongul is impressed by Green Arrow's feat, but still teleports him into the loser cage for his trouble.
- Catscratch: Gordon gains the Kraken's respect after he defeats it to save his brothers. He later does again when he impresses the entire Kraken race by defeating the Three Headed Kraken.
- Genndy Tartakovsky created Dial M For Monkey, and scripted its third episode, "Simeon." Simeon started as a chimp, sent into space on a hopeless mission by NASA, where he became exposed to cosmic radiation, and morphed into the godlike Simeon. Simeon is poised to return to Earth and eradicate cruel humans, until Monkey offers him a banana. This simple act of kindness convinces Simeon to abandon his hateful wrath, and pursue cosmic oneness with the universe instead.
- In a straight-up homage to the Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 example listed above, the episode "Rasslor" featured an intergalactic wrestling champion challenging Earth's heroes. Rasslor managed to easily beat every one of them, but Monkey kept getting back up and trying again. Realising he could never break Monkey's spirit, Rasslor chose to forfeit.
- Justice League Unlimited, Batman manages to evade Darkseid's Omega Beams, something no one else has ever accomplished. Darkseid is legitimately impressed, and prepares to see if Lex Luthor could do the same. Luthor flees in terror.
- Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: In the episode "A Stitch in Time", Po's irresponsibleness allows Fenghunang to become a TimeMaster and erase all his friends from existence. Fortunately he catches her before she can do the same to him, and their struggle eventually brings them to the beginning of time where the Tree of Time has bared a new fruit. After a long struggle, Po makes a deal with Fenghunang to spare his friends in exchange for his own life. But before the evil owl is able to take him on his offer, the Tree of Time halts the fight, stating that he's impressed with Po's selflessness. He then banishes Fenghunang to oblivion and pushes the big, temporal Reset Button, returning everything back to normal.
- Regular Show
- In the episode “Dead at Eight”, Mordecai and Rigby have to babysit Death’s son in order to save Muscle Man’s soul after Muscle Man has a fatal accident. Death’s son however is a superpowered Man Child and proves to be quite a handful for the two. Finally, in order to get him to go to bed, Thomas demands that they read him his favorite bedtime story which is about a monster that eats souls. However, once they finish, the actual worm monster bursts out of the book and Thomas wants to feed Muscle Man’s soul to it. Fortunately Rigby and Mordecai are able to thwart the beast, but an infuriated Thomas then refuses to go to bed to get the two in trouble. But then a chandelier falls on him, knocking him out. When Death and his wife return, they’re amazed and happy to see Thomas asleep. Death commends the two, stating that he was certain they would have died on the job and he spares Muscle Man’s soul.
- In "Fists of Justice", Mordecai and Rigby find themselves doing all of Skips chores when Skips redeems his Do-Your-Chores coupon. But in the last job, they are unable to get a harpsichord dislodged from the doorway and ask for Skips help. But they accidentally break his hands in the process and right before they find out why Skips redeemed his coupon: The Guardians of Youth have tasked Skips with using the Fists of Justice to defeat Klorgbane the Destroyer every 157 years. But Skips hands are too injured to use them and he easily gets thrashed. Before Klorgbane can kill him, Mordecai and Rigby step in and volunteer to use the Fists. The Guardians comply and after some initial difficulty, they defeat Klorgbane. Impressed and grateful, the Guardians later help them and Skips with moving the harpsichord.
- Spongebob Squarepants: In an early episode, Spongebob comes face to face with the all-mighty King Neptune, who arrives after Spongebob pulls out the Golden Spatula. The one who draws it is destined to be Neptune's great chef but he refuses to believe Spongebob has the mettle for it so he challenges him to burger frying contest. In terms of quantity, Neptune beats Spongebob by a landslide with several thousand patties versus one from Spongebob. His patties prove to be utterly disgusting, however, while Spongebob's one patty proves to be so delicious that Neptune eats it twice and instantly makes Spongebob his new fry cook. Spongebob, not wanting to give up his old life, declines the offer and instead decides to teach him how to cook for himself.
- Superman/Batman: Apocalypse had Batman threaten to use Darkseid's own superweapons to destroy Apokolips, unless Darkseid backs down. Reluctantly, Darkseid agrees, and admires his refusal to surrender and his willingness to obliterate an entire planet to win.