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Healing Factor Burnout

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A character's Healing Factor is forced to its very limits, and it fails to cope.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
xxlogos on Mar 18th 2017 at 2:16:34 AM
Last Edited By:
Snowy66 on May 17th 2018 at 6:39:46 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Healing Factor Burnout.

Having a Healing Factor is one of the coolest and sometimes overpowered abilitiy to have. You can heal fast from nearly any injury no matter what, even fatal damage if it's strong enough. But sometimes, you just take too much damage and when you expect it to bail you out, it doesn't, and you are slowly bleeding out as you have the biggest Oh, Crap! in your life. That is what happens when anyone who thinks their Healing Factor is unstoppable and don't realise they are still mortal, they can still take damage and die if the injury is server enough.

When that happens, the individual in question suffers a healing factor burnout. They are finally showing the limit of their healing factor and are losing it from taking so much damage, that it can't handle it and starts to shutdown (although not completely in some cases).

This Trope comes into play whenever a regenerator:

  1. Has been slowly taxing their regenerative abilities by constantly exposing themselves to toxins.
  2. Gets too careless and assume their healing factor will save them from any injury.
  3. Cast from age regeneration. This kind of regeneration is only beneficial in the short term. In the long term, it will just do more harm than good.
  4. Tank an attack that would one-shot anyone else.
  5. Getting the mother of all beatdowns just to make sure they don't come back for more.
  6. Aging: Some regenerators are not the ageless just because they can heal. In fact, they are only long lived because of their healing factor, not the other way around.

In cases where this is a deliberate attempt to kill someone too stubborn to die in a fight, it proves that whoever destroyed their healing factor is not fucking around and that they mean business.

Sometimes burnouts are permanent and cripple the (former) regenerator. Other times they just need some rest as it's their equivalent of suffering a serious injury or in milder cases, a broken arm, as they need time for their healing factor to restore itself.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • As the battle between Vegito and Super Buu drags on, Super Buu begins to regenerate more slowly, signifying that he is suffering lasting damage and that his insane regeneration does have its limits.
    • Later on, when Kid Buu is massacring Fat Buu. He was beaten to the brink of death. Fat Buu, who can reform from smoke and atomization, was out cold from such a merciless beating and so weak that even base form Vegeta could have killed him if not for Mr. Satan's pleading.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, during the Future Trunks Arc, Goku Black and Zamasu fuse to become Merged Zamasu as a last resort. At first it seems he got the best of both worlds, but when he got a couple of his own attacks thrown back at his face, the right side of it melted into gooey flesh. This reveals that not only is he mortal again (as his immortality is now compromised by fusing with a mortal: Goku Black), but that his healing factor and overall power is also taking a nosedive with each hit he takes, to the point where Future Trunks could kill him by slicing him from the bottom up.
  • Naruto
    • This is explored in Naruto. Characters that can regenerate tissue in different ways (Tsunade and Naruto for a few) are subject to the real-life Hayflick limit - i.e cells can only regenerate so many times, after which the cells (and tissues, and organs) will start to fail, limiting how much they could regenerate and also can shorten their lifespan.
    • Later on, it's shown that Truth seeking orbs of a conscious Ten Tailed Jinjuriki can nullify the regeneration granted from Edo Tensei, which is fortune as Sarutobi and Tobirama would have been crippled and incapacitated until they were released from the jutsu.
  • Attack on Titan
    • Titan Shifters experience a burnout of their healing factor burnout once they revert to their base form as transforming into a titan is exhausting. Transforming in quick succession ends up causing the user's titan form to become smaller and more deformed and carries the risk of merging with their titan form, turning the shifter into a regular titan. Eren had to rest for a couple of days because his face was fused to his titan form and had to be cut off before it healed.
  • One-Punch Man
    • Members of Lord Boros's species possess a marble-like "core" in their bodies, and can regenerate From a Single Cell as long as it is unharmed. This makes Boros the first being in the universe who can actually survive one of Saitama's One-Hit Kill punches, though the stress of a protracted battle (during which Boros is struck by Saitama multiple times, and uses multiple Limit Breaks and Cast from Lifespan techniques in a futile attempt to power up enough to hurt Saitama back) eventually causes his core to explode.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
    • In Phantom Blood, Jonathan attempts to kill his adopted brother Dio, who as become a regenerating vampire by setting him on fire. Subverted when the his regeneration begins to outpace the damage. Double Subverted when Jonathan sets the whole house on fire and traps the Dio inside, resulting in hotter flames that are strong enough to kill him. Triple Subverted when Dio later shows up in the rubble, weak and heavily scarred but alive.

    Comic Books 
  • As the Trope Codifier, Wolverine from X-Men experiences a healing factor burnout when Magneto rips the adamantium from his body. After the ordeal, it went on cooldown for a couple of months before it reemerged when he unsheathed his bone claws for the first time in years.
  • In the 1997 series of Deadpool, Deadpool's healing factor began degrading after a swim in gamma ray radiation, requiring him to hunt down his creator to learn how bring it back.

  • In Logan, Wolverine's healing factor has begun to fade over time, and while he can still take a beating, it's clear that it's weakened to the point he now has scars and infected wounds and can be killed with repeated lethal attacks. In his prime, those injuries would not have bothered him at all.

  • In the Wax and Wayne novels, set in The Cosmere, the infamous Fallen Hero Miles "Hundredlives" Dagouter fuels his healing factor by consuming gold, so when he's executed, the firing squad has to keep working until his gold reserves are exhausted. It makes for a messy spectacle.

    Video Games 
  • In Video Games, the effects of this trope are often achieved by offsetting the Regenerating Health with a gradual Maximum HP Reduction accompanying loss of HP: your health always regenerates back. But its maximum is continuously reduced.
    • In the first two Def Jam fIghting games; Vendetta and Fight For NY, a fighter's HP can drop very fast of one is on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle. But if they don't finish their opponent with a pin(Vendetta only), a blazing move or any other means to knock them out such as a weapon or a unique style based attack, they will keep on fighting. The only problem is that their max HP will eventually get low enough to be in the danger zone for the rest of the match,

Feedback: 36 replies

Mar 18th 2017 at 3:43:38 PM

  • Deadpool in the comics exists as this as a default. They tried to give him a healing factor a la Wolverine to start with, but what he ended up with was an imperfect healing factor. He will still heal, but only to a point. His flesh is always going to be ravaged. And if you beat him badly enough, he will require medical assistance to keep him alive long enough for the imperfect healing factor to get to work.

Mar 18th 2017 at 3:55:10 PM

  • This is explored in Naruto. Characters that can regenerate tissue in different ways (Tsunade and Naruto for a few) are subject to the real-life Hayflick limit - i.e cells can only regenerate so many times, after which the cells (and tissues, and organs) will start to fail, limiting how much they could regenerate and also can shorten their lifespan.

Mar 19th 2017 at 3:25:56 AM

  • Corrected spelling (heal fast form -> from, if its strong enough -> it's, you are slowing bleeding -> slowly, and forget to realise -> and don't realise, they are and can taking -> they can take, In the cases were this -> where, burnouts...cripples -> cripple, bring -> brink, etc. etc.).
  • Added punctuation (periods at the ends of sentences, commas).
  • Re-wrote a run-on sentence.
  • Blue Linked (healing factor, Trope Codifier).
  • Added parentheses around an aside comment.
  • Changed * to # to auto-number a list.
  • Re-worded the fourth paragraph.
  • Examples section

Mar 19th 2017 at 8:04:12 AM

Hey thanks for the suggestions, I'll add them to the example of this proto-tropes. I wasn't too sure where there was other examples of the trope I am trying to launch.

@Arivne Thanks for the corrections and polish, even if it's a bit embarrassing to have ones grammar constantly corrected. But still, thanks again for the help.

Mar 19th 2017 at 8:46:08 AM

In Video Games, the effects of this trope are often achieved by offsetting the Regenerating Health with a gradual Maximum HP Reduction accompanying loss of HP: your health always regenerates back—but its maximum is continuously reduced.

Mar 20th 2017 at 4:44:51 AM

Hey all, I'll be adding as many examples as I can that you give me. Credit goes to you guys and I appreciate getting as many as I can.

Mar 20th 2017 at 12:42:06 PM

^ My previous comment wasn't really an example (because it's not specific to a particular work of fiction). Instead, you can add it to the main write-up body, wherever you think it is appropriate.

Mar 20th 2017 at 3:26:55 PM

Kind of an odd example, but:

  • In the Wax And Wayne novels, set in The Cosmere, the infamous Fallen Hero Miles "Hundredlives" Dagouter fuels his healing factor by consuming gold, so when he's executed, the firing squad has to keep working until his gold reserves are exhausted. It makes for a messy spectacle.

Mar 20th 2017 at 7:32:13 PM

Has some overlap with Kill It With Fire.

Mar 20th 2017 at 7:48:34 PM

^^ You're probably thinking of Fire Keeps It Dead

Mar 25th 2017 at 10:55:02 AM

Yeah, that's also worth mentioning. Though, there's a subtle difference between "kill them, then use fire to destroy their body so they can't come back" and "use fire to inflict generalised damage that taxes their regeneration, then kill them through regular means". It depends on how exactly the Healing Factor works.

If someone uses fire to inflict a Wound That Will Not Heal on a regenerator, then that's Kill It With Fire but not Fire Keeps It Dead.

Mar 25th 2017 at 12:09:32 PM

Hey! the Merc with a Mouth here! That is so not how my healing factor works. The reason why I look so ugly all the time is that whatever they did to me makes my stupid cancer keep coming back as soon as I can heal from it.

Jan 17th 2018 at 9:19:53 PM

This appears to have not been successfully launched.

Jan 19th 2018 at 3:17:29 PM

I've alerted the staff to the issue. In the meanwhile, I took it upon myself to fix some formatting issues in the description and refine the laconic definition.

Jan 20th 2018 at 2:54:26 AM

Animorphs: A possibility in the Bad Future Jake is sent into, where a decade or so of fighting has left Rachel with absolutely horrific injuries that leave her confined to a wheelchair and Tobias' Andalite morph has grown older, as morphing normally repairs all injuries (that, or yet another instance of Canon Discontinuity in a ghostwritten book).

Jan 20th 2018 at 3:04:11 AM

The Season 6 finale of Smallville had Chloe unknowningly discover her meteor shower power by healing a dying Lois Lane who was stabbed with a single tear drop. After healing Lois, Chloe died, but she gets better in the following episode.

Jan 20th 2018 at 3:06:45 AM

Averted in Charmed. Whitelighters have the ability to heal the wounded with no limiting factors whatsoever.

Jan 20th 2018 at 4:57:31 AM

Adding on to Wolverine.

  • Even in a normal setting, Wolverine's Healing Factor can only handle so much damage before he exhausts it. If he takes too much damage he needs to actually sit down and heal, otherwise his wounds will remain and impair his fighting ability.

Jan 20th 2018 at 10:26:47 AM

The Wolverine example needs to be rewritten; the reveal of Logan's bone claws was, at a guess, within a week or two of Magneto pulling out the adamantium. Proposed:

  • Wolverine is the Trope Codifier. After Magneto pulled the adamantium out of his body in X-Men #25, his healing factor was stressed to the point of shutting down for a month or two of story time. Incidentally, this also led to the reveal of his bone claws in Wolverine #75, which graphically showed the loss of his healing by tearing through his arms and hands in their first use and then causing bleeding in future uses.

Jan 20th 2018 at 8:16:06 PM

Gold Digger: A were-creature's Healing Factor is pretty powerful (to the point that they can bounce back from such things as getting swords driven into their brain or being set ablaze with dragon fire), but it's still pretty possible to overload it (and stun them greatly) through such things as hitting them with weapons made of Dwarven steel or severe impalement.

Jan 25th 2018 at 3:23:01 AM

  • In Dragon Ball Z, Majin Buu had by far the most superior Healing Factor, being able to return from a single atom. However even this has shown to have limits. Getting into a Curb Stomp Battle with Vegito, where Buu was continually torn apart, pulverised, and disintegrated, it reached a point where Buu failed to heal a gaping hole in his midriff. It took Vegito pointing it out and for Buu to specifically focus on this wound for it to be recovered.

Jan 24th 2018 at 2:31:57 PM

Does this count?

  • In the French comic Les Maitres Inquisiteurs, Inquisitor Orlias ends up facing the rogue student Aziel, whose very strong healing power has combined with a life-draining ability. Orlias sends everyone else out of the room so he can unleash his Playing With Fire powers without holding back, turning the underground chamber around them into magma. Hours later, the room has sufficiently cooled to be entered, and they see Orlias is still alive but has aged by a third of his lifespan, while Aziel is an eyeless not-quite skeleton but definitely dead.

Jan 25th 2018 at 9:33:04 PM

  • In the Warrior Cats books, clan leaders literally have nine lives, with the ability to come back to life up to 8 times before dying for real. Near the end of the first series, the clans encounter a cat named Scourge who has dog teeth embedded in his claws, allowing him to wound Tigerstar so badly that he looses all of his nine lives at once.

Jan 25th 2018 at 11:13:26 PM

Comic Books

  • In Marvel Comics, one tactic to beat symbiotes is to have them produce an excessive amount of their "webbing". As the webbing are extensions of the symbiote itself, passing a certain limit will exhaust them and hinder their ability to regenerate.

Jan 30th 2018 at 8:31:51 AM

Jan 30th 2018 at 4:10:13 PM

  • SCP Foundation: SCP-682, the well-named "Hard-To-Destroy Reptile", comes back from absolutely everything the Foundation does to kill it, adapting to whatever method was last used while keeping the previous adaptations as well. Current storage involves keeping it in a vat of hydrochloric acid (and even that isn't enough, as it's able to move around even with three-quarters of its body mass dissolved), and the only reason they haven't used the on-site nuke on 682 yet is the very real risk that it would survive and become impervious to nuclear weapons. One of the joke SC Ps had the Foundation Hurl It Into The Sun... and it came back on fire.

Jan 30th 2018 at 11:09:18 PM

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Homunculi are fueled by the Philosophers Stone, which grants them incredible regeneration powers (at one point, Roy destroys Lust's physical body, and she is able to regenerate around the stone). Thus, a reliable way to truly kill them is to induce this trope by attacking them so relentlessly that their stones run out of juice.
    Roy: You said it takes more than that to kill you, right? Then I'll just keep killing you until you die!

Feb 2nd 2018 at 7:53:21 PM

Yo thanks for all the examples you guys have brought up. This is if this becomes proper trope for real, i am gonna be so happy since I am a bit of a tv-trope fanatic.

Feb 4th 2018 at 12:18:23 AM

Looks like this trope was launched wrong, as the trope page doesn't exist.

Feb 8th 2018 at 8:00:01 PM

TLP says it launched here, but the page doesn't exist

Apr 21st 2018 at 10:08:52 AM

Yeah, I don't know if it was launched under [[Anti-Healing Factor]] or not. Either way since I got a suspension for poor grammar and I wonder if if it was remade by someone or what it happened. Either way I just want to know if it's launched or not and if it's was renamed that I got the credit for it.

May 17th 2018 at 6:39:46 AM

Need to contact a mod about this