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Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu / Literature

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  • H. P. Lovecraft:
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  • Subverted hilariously in a non-canon short story by George R. R. Martin, where Jaime Lannister is due to fight Cthulhu himself. He still wins, but only because he killed the cultists trying to summon Cthulhu. You can read it here.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Nazgûl, one of Sauron's most powerful servants, says that "no man can defeat me". He is then stabbed by Merry (a Hobbit, and therefore not of the race of Men) and killed by Éowyn (a woman), so his prophecy gets bypassed two different ways. It nearly killed both of them though.
    • Samwise Gamgee sent the daughter of an Eldritch Abomination in Giant Spider form crawling back to its lair with nothing but a couple of swords, an elf-light, and The Power of Friendship. Standing up to her successfully was so impressive that when the orcs discovered the aftermath, they concluded a fierce Elf warrior was on the loose.
  • The Silmarillion: Luthien hands Morgoth in his ass with no punch but a soothing melody that lays him flat on his face along with the rest of the entirety of Angband....Just look at this passage from the book. Describing the event is far too inefficient to give one a true grasp of this CMOA.
    The dark and mighty head was bowed;
    like mountain-top beneath a cloud
    the shoulders foundered, the vast form
    crashed, as in overwhelming storm
    huge cliffs in ruin slide and fall;
    and prone lay Morgoth in his hall.
    • What makes this feat also particularly amazing is that Fingolfin from before the tale of Beren and Luthien also challenged Morgoth's might (although he issued forth a challenge while Luthien duped him-and approached him under the pretenses of offering her services via. a dance) but died in the process while Luthien along with Beren walked away relatively unharmed from the confrontation.
  • From the Discworld series:
    • Eskarina Smith kicked her way through the Discworld Dungeon Dimension creatures in Equal Rites. Mind you, Discworld Dungeon Dimension creatures are described as being very weak against purely physical threats — they do, however, eat magic that is used against them to become much stronger.
    • Rincewind has done this at least three times. Most of the time, Rincewind is just as surprised as anybody else that he's capable of it.
      • In The Colour of Magic, he accidentally beats Bel-Shamharoth with Twoflower's picturebox's flash.
      • In The Light Fantastic, he punches out a dread horror who had taken the form of Trymon, eventually beating it to death while it was trying to retake its original form. He couldn't quite believe it worked, either.
      • In Sourcery, he challenges the most powerful magic user on the planet, who himself had just magicked away all the gods. His weapon of choice? A brick in a sock. By the time he got to the Dungeon Dimensions all he had was sand. Luckily, socks come in pairs. This is justified in-story because a real object, like a brick, has an edge against a magical thing. So when the Cthulus of the Dungeon Dimensions attack him, being creatures of pure magic, sand in a sock is a deadly thing to them.
      • In a Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu subversion, when Rincewind whacks away Coin's staff with the half brick in a sock, the staff flies off the edge of the tower, then levitates back up, speeds forward and injures him on the side of the head. The subversion is that Rincewind simply gets back up and continues the fight, eventually succeeding.
    • In Witches Abroad, one of Discworld's immortal vampires (can even come back from staking, sunlight, etc.) is accidentally thwarted by one witch with a window shutter, accidentally again by another witch with a garlic sausage, and finally deliberately eaten (in bat form) by Greebo, Nanny Ogg's cat.
      Vampires have risen from the dead, the grave and the crypt, but have never managed it from the cat.
    • In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents Maurice (a talking cat, but otherwise just a cat) catches the Death of Rats, Anthropomorphic Personification of the death of small rodents. The Death of Rats' superior is not amused and orders Maurice to let his associate go.
    • In Thud!, Vimes' will to not cross the line is so powerful that it manifests as a spectral watchman that proceeds to kick the Summoning Dark out of his mind.
      • He is also told that he is the only person known to have been host to the Summoning Dark and still have both his life and his sanity once it left, most likely because he's the only one to make it flee in terror.
      • In the next book of his personal storyline it turns out that while he did drive off it's attempt to possess him, it was so impressed that now it just casually hangs around him and gives him little boosts like being able to see in pitch darkness.
  • Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga series (and the Eternal Champion, et al.) have great fighters slaying sons of gods, and then eventually the gods themselves, in an escalating arms race.
  • In the Dragaera series, Morrolan kills a Physical God with a Great Weapon, and a Jenoine goes the same way at the hands of Vlad and Godslayer. Tazendra manages to defeat a Jenoine in single combat without a Great Weapon, and Devera, in dragon form ate one.
  • Justified in the Conan the Barbarian novels. It is explicitly stated that Eldritch Abominations and demons lose much of their power when they enter reality. They still tend to be the strongest opponents Conan faces.
  • In C. S. Lewis' Perelandra, Dr Ransom acts as the Good Angel when the Queen of Venus is tempted by a literal demon towards falling from grace. With the salvation of the entire planet hanging in the balance, Ransom realizes the demon's possession of an astronaut (which enabled it to enter the planet in the first place) was its Achilles' Heel — he could simply pummel the thing into submission.
    • It's also almost Lampshaded in the actual fight. Ransom realizes that despite knowing, rationally, that the Un-Man was limited to the physical abilities of its host body, up until the moment they actually made contact he had been subconsciously expecting inhuman strength and power.
  • Subverted and played for a good laugh in John Dechancie's Red Limit Freeway. After traveling for lightyears along roads built by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens the heroes meet a handsome, slightly androgynous man in flashy clothes. One of the heroes, convinced the man is responsible for his alien abduction, hits him with a sucker punch. Cue the protagonist: "I think you may have just punched out God." Other guy: "Nah, God has a beard."
  • The His Dark Materials trilogy sets up God, AKA the Authority, as the enemy of free will and human interest, but in the third book he proves to have been so weakened by old age that he gets turned to dust by a strong breeze. A more threatening villain is his Second, Metatron, who himself can only be defeated when he is hurled into the void between universes, and thus destroyed forever.
  • John Taylor from the Nightside books does this approximately every five minutes. No sooner does he hype how much of a terrifying unbeatable badass so-and-so is, then half a page later he beats them.
    • Admittedly, it's usually through the Inherent Gift inherited from his vanished mother who eventually turns out to be Lilith, who was the ancestor of 95% of the Eldritch Abominations in the series in the first place. Given that his Gift enables him to find and hit any beings' Achilles' Heel, it's interesting that the series managed to maintain the necessary Dramatic Tension to keep going.
  • Eddie Drood has also done this on a regular basis, both to full-blown abominations as well as lesser higher-dimensional monsters. In his case, possessing Powered Armor designed by a friendly Eldritch Abomination helps. Pretty much the only thing preventing him from being an Invincible Hero is that his challenge is not beating the bad guys, but finding them before they bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Stephen King's novel IT features this, in which seven childhood friends unite to destroy the eponymous entity, an ancient cosmic shape-shifter from a dimension called the Deadlights.
  • Done repeatedly in Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice, Deptford Histories, and Whitby Witches series.
  • In an eventually undone timeline in the third novel of the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, Raistlin, a mortal man, albeit the most powerful wizard in the history of Krynn, had killed Takhisis, the chief goddess of darkness, whose primary form was a five-headed dragon.
  • In The Dresden Files, part of Harry Dresden's backstory is that, at the age of sixteen, he beat a kind of demonic bounty hunter sicced on him by his Evil Mentor. He later discovers to his shock that the demonic bounty hunter called He Who Walks Behind is an Outsider— in Dresdenverse terms, an Eldritch Abomination. Fully trained wizards spend centuries learning how to defeat Outsiders. To avoid accusations of Beginner's Luck, Harry was born under very specific circumstances which give him the ability to affect Outsiders in ways that normal wizards can't. Any wizard born under similar circumstances would have the same abilities.
    • When Morgan gets his Character Development we find out that he killed a skinwalker, a horrifyingly evil Native American Eldritch Abomination/demigod, by luring it to a military testing range in Nevada then teleporting out just before they set off a nuke.
    • In Summer Knight Harry took out an insanely powerful fae by having a bunch of pixies he'd made a habit of bribing attack said faerie with box cutters. It was probably around this point that he started attracting the attention of everyone and their grandmother in the supernatural world, since there can't have been more than a handful of times that someone managed to take out a Faerie Queen.
      • As of Cold Days Murphy has done so as well when she kills Maeve.
    • In Changes, Harry and his buddies kill the Red King and the Lords of Outer Night. They posed as the pantheon of the Mayans, Aztecs, and other Central American gods for thousands of years, and have the power to make a convincing argument of it. Mitigated by his backup of Odin and his Valkyrie, together with Blackstaff's tremendous power, who together turn the battle into an epic slugfest.
  • In Glen Cook's series The Instrumentalities of the Night, the main character, "too ignorant to know he can never prevail over such a thing," discovers that even the most powerful gods are vulnerable to a mix of iron and silver hurled — this is the key point — by the newly developed gunpowder weapons. After a while, he's got troops trained to do it almost routinely.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, they manage to kill the Grotesquery, a creature partially constructed from the corpse of a Faceless One, albeit with great difficulty and several casualties. In the third book, Valkyrie kills two Faceless Ones using a weapon designed to do so. Skulduggery manages to force one back through the door to their prison using a strong gust of wind. In the process, the weapon is destroyed, and Skulduggery is dragged along with the Faceless One.
  • In Paradise Lost, Abdiel hitting Satan. Although an Angel, in Paradise Lost Abdiel is far below in glory the illustrious figures of Lucifer, Michael, Raphael, etc. His only distinction is loyalty, being the one angel to hear and reject Satan's offer to revolt. In the opening salvo of the War in Heaven, mighty Satan appears bedecked in his warrior-king regalia, ready to smite on all sides. Instead, Abdiel pops out of the fray and clocks him on the head, knocking him cold before he can strike a blow.
  • In a Night Watch (Series) novel Face of the Dark Palmira by Vladimir Vasilyev, a powerful Other (i.e. wizard) is in a magical stand-off with the agents of the Odessa Day Watch. He is punched out by a half-dazed, naked Dark Other with a regular torchiere over the head. It is explained later that the baddie attempted to maximize his magical potential by entering the Gloom (the magical dimension) half-way, which, ironically, left him vulnerable to physical attacks.
  • The Percy Jackson and the Olympians has Rachel Elizabeth Dare, who throws her hairbrush at the bad guy's host, hitting him in the eye. Not only does this give the good guys enough time to get away, it is her crowning moment of awesome, at least until she becomes the Oracle of Delphi.
    • As a result of this, blue plastic hairbrushes have become the inside joke of the Percy Jackson fandom.
      • Except for dams.
      • Are y'all talking about that dam hairbrush again?
  • The Everworld series of novels has several instances of humans attacking gods, with varying amounts of success.
  • At the end of the story Interlink, Trent, the villain, and Lonny, the protagonist, fall from a plane and hit the ground, creating a crater. Lonny gets out, unharmed since Trent broke his fall, and reunites with Maggie, Kay, and Jack. Although Trent seems to be dead, he gets up and is about to kill the four when Lonny tells him that his cell phone, which gave him his godlike powers and the ability to control the Interlink, shattered after the fall. Trent's eyes scream "Oh, Crap!" as he realizes he is now only human, and is suddenly shot in the back of the head by Evan, who was believed to have died earlier. After shooting him, Evan says "God Mode... deactivated."
  • In a rather literal example, Scott does this to Fulcrum in The Interloper: Home Couldn't Be Farther. After challenging Scott to a battle to prove that he can't beat him, Fulcrum is punched in the face and immediately killed. For context, Scott is a normal human, while Fulcrum is, in his own words, an "outer-multiveral, nigh-omnipotent, universe-devouring dude".
  • Only one of the gods actually die in Dan Simmons' Illium, but the Greek heroes send several teleporting away with injuries, Hockenberry tasers Hera with 50,000 volts, and Mahnmut (who is a kind of sentient non-combat android) steals a flying chariot by jumping in kicking out the goddess driving it.
    • Achilles can't really kill Zeus, but since the gods are very carefully recreating mythology Achilles is protected by destiny. Specifically they made sure that he could only be harmed by an arrow fired by Paris at his infamous heel. By this point Paris is slightly deader than he's supposed to be. Things go poorly for Zeus.
  • At the end of the first book of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, the protagonist (a 15-year-old scullion with barely any formal training with weapons, noted by several characters as having not stopped growing) kills or at least seriously wounds one of the last remaining dragons in the world, which had already killed two of his much stronger/faster/more skilled/generally better at killing things comrades.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • In Deus Sanguinius, Rafen manages to kill the Lord of Change Malfallax. However, to do so he had to use the Spear of Telesto to do so and Broke His Arm Doing So.
    • Considering one of the major villains of the universe are unstoppable daemons, this tends to turn up in books focusing upon Chaos. One specific series, the Soul Drinkers, got to the point where this tended to happen in at least once per book.
    • Ciaphas Cain makes something of a habit of fighting and beating opponents that are way tougher than a normal human should be able to beat. The Traitor's Hand is probably the best example, he defeats two Chaos Space Marines and a daemonhost — with backup all three times, of course (and the second Space Marine was severely injured before Cain crossed chainswords with him). It's still impressive enough that a soldier who witnessed two of those fights went on to found an official sect of the Imperial Church that worships Cain as a Prophet of the Emperor.
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • The defeat of Typhon the Storm Giant from Percy Jackson and the Olympians, though this is an interesting case, as it was the gods themselves who defeated him. Though that just goes to show how monstrously strong he was.
    • Percy in The Lightning Thief when he beats the god of war in a sword fight.
  • The climax of Blade of Tyshalle sees a superhumanly intelligent Physical God possessed by an even more powerful Eldritch Abomination come up against a Combat Pragmatist with a magic sword.
    "I have always been fortunate in my enemies- * shhhnk* hurk -" "Happy Assumption Day, fucker." * stab*
  • In Warrior Cats, a series where Humans Are Cthulhu, SkyClan defeating an abusive Twoleg is much like this.
  • In The Jehovah Contract a terminally ill hit man is hired by Satan to kill God. He succeeds.
  • In the last The Black Company book by Glen Cook, Croaker kills the goddess Kina by setting off a giant magical explosion in the chamber where she is sleeping.
  • In The Elenium, Sparhawk manages to kill one god. Then he follows it up in The Tamuli by slaying another. Granted, both times he had the help of powers beyond those of a god, as he is in fact the Chosen One of The Maker.
  • The climactic battle of Paul Kidd's Queen of the Demonweb Pits involves a small band of very angry people laying into Lolth (demon-goddess of the Drow) with everything they have. She tries to escape (bruised, bleeding, and badly burned), and falls into a pit of holy water (which burns demons like acid) a few feet from the portal out of the plane.
  • In The Book of the Dun Cow, the final battle is between Wyrm, an enormous, ancient serpent as large as a planet who can easily kill angels, and the dog Mundo Cani, whose only weapon is a cow's horn. Mundo Cani wins by blinding Wyrm's vulnerable eye, but at the cost of his own life.
  • The Young Wizards series is about teenagers fighting an undefeatable being who is basically Satan. Naturally, Punching out Cthulhu and crowning moments of awesome happen on a regular basis.
  • In the Monster Hunter series by Larry Correia, the protagonists fight against Cthulhu-like aliens and their cult followers and defeat them. In the second book, Monster Hunter Vendetta, the protagonists not only fight directly against the so-called 'Old Ones' they use a doomsday weapon made by Sir Isaac Newton against the Cthulhu-like Overlord. The weapon not only kills the alien, it seems to unmake its entire reality.
  • In one of the most awesome scenes in The Horse and His Boy, ten-year-old runaway slave Shasta jumps off a fear-maddened horse to confront an attacking lion. And, being completely unarmed, all he can do is yell at it. And to everyone's surprise, the lion backs down and leaves. That's pretty badass, but not quite this trope... until it turns out the lion in question was actually Aslan. It probably helps that Aslan had finished what He was there for, but Shasta still basically chased off God Himself by yelling at Him.
  • In the climax of the Morcyth Saga by Brian S. Pratt, James sets up a feedback loop to set off the magical equivalent of a nuke using the power of the evil god Dmon-Li. Weaker versions of the same spell have been shown to rip holes in reality, and it is implied that he completely destroyed the reality Dmon-Li was invading from.
  • Forever Gate: Invoked. When Hoodwink sees the Grim Reaper approaching, his first thought is "lightning blast!"
  • The Inheritance Cycle has Eragon and company killing Galbatorix and his Eldritch Abomination dragon Shruikan.
  • Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" (a crossover between the Cthulhu Mythos and the Sherlock Holmes stories) has Sherlock and Watson killing a minor Eldritch Abomination/Bohemian noble.
  • This is what the Five are destined to do with the Old Ones in The Power of Five. They pulled it off in their previous incarnation by sealing them behind the Gates. Matt, with a little help from Pedro, manages to single-handedly incapacitate them for a little while when they finally break free. Finally, due to a quirk of timing at the climax of Oblivion, the Five banish the Old Ones one last time and - just before the portal closes - the British Navy accidentally nukes Hell, and this seemingly kills or permanently imprisons them for good.
  • In Those That Wake, Mike does this in an illusion. Upon breaking free, he does it for real by proving Man in Suit wrong and destroying him through noble self-sacrifice.
    • In the sequel, Laura singlehandedly frees the captive minds from the Old Man, reverting him to a feeble old man that Mal destroys with one blow.
  • Played with in the original Doom novels. When Flynn Taggart finds himself confronted with stereotypical demons, but then discovers they're made of flesh and blood and can be killed with a big enough gun, he realizes that whatever they are, they're fakes (because he was raised Catholic, and knows better). He's right. They're aliens who took that form because they knew it would scare us. So he proceeds to blow up lots and lots and lots of them.
  • In "Sixth of the Dusk", seeing someone killing a Nightmaw with a Hand Cannon has this effect on Dusk.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric, a mortal human mage, squares off against a reaper, a Physical God who is not only much more powerful than him physically but has the divine power to kill him with a thought. Eric steals this power and then punches him hard enough to knock him over. He is strangled for his efforts and has to be saved by another, higher ranking, reaper.
  • Pretty much the point of the Titus Crow novels by Brian Lumley. Titus Crow, Henri de Laurent, and Hank Silberhutte regularly end up smacking around the Cthulhu Mythos' monsters. They even manage to send Great Old One Ithaqua fleeing by using an Elder God death ray.
  • Happens in Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps a few times. John Booth is a Badass Normal who manages to stab to death a nightgaunt with a Deep One knife, destroy a shoggoth with a pair of Elder God blessed revolvers, and kills Alan Ward (implied to be the reincarnated Joseph Curwen) after he becomes a Eldritch Abomination. This is because John is actually a Half-Human Hybrid and doomed to become one of the Cthulhu Mythos' creatures himself.
  • In Kushiel's Legacy, this becomes the goal of Phedre, when her oldest friend is bound by a curse laid by Rahab the Angel of the Deeps. Well over a decade later, she finds the True Name of God and breaks the curse by banishing Rahab with a single word.
  • The main conflict in The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign is between Kyousuke and the White Queen, the latter being an Eldritch Abomination who is by far the most powerful being in the setting. At the end of each volume (except the fifth) Kyousuke manages to find some way to defeat her, or at least thwart her plans. However, the only reason he's able to do this is because the White Queen is madly in love with him, and considers it just as enjoyable to let him win.
  • My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister: On several occasions, Satori manages to defeat vastly more powerful Archenemies. He kills a Valkyrie by stabbing her in the neck with a pen (though only with the assistance of a powerful AI) and knocks out Lilith by electrocuting her.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Touma repeatedly does this, and thanks to his Anti-Magic right hand, it's usually literal. In his very first fight, he punches out a regenerating construct made of 3000 degrees Celsius flames. He later punches out Accelerator, the strongest esper who can No-Sell a nuclear explosion. At the end of the first series, he drops the Star of Bethlehem on Archangel Gabriel.
    • In one of the side stories, Itsuwa disrupts a spell that has summoned Nyarlhotep by driving her spear straight through him.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • Really more of a rule than an exception in this series. A lot of gods go down like absolute chumps once some Badass Normal or another manages to get within arm's reach of their physical forms. What keeps most of them alive is that they hide in their personal Warrens and act as The Powers That Be. In Deadhouse Gates, God of War Fener is exiled from his realm for complicated metaphysical reasons and spends several books fleeing for his life, because the mortal realm is filled with people who's got both the means and the motive to kill him.
    • In The Bonehunters, Captain Paran incapacitates of Poliel, the Mistress of Pestilence, with the help of a shard of Otataral, setting the scene up for the Deragoth to kill Poliel.
    • In Dust of Dreams, man child Ublala Pung literally punches out the jerkass God of Fate known as the Errant when the latter is about to kill Brys Beddict in the open street and Ublala runs into them.
    • Also in Dust of Dreams, Amby and Jula Bole fight off and heavily injure a flying raptor that just demolished their carriage and killed three people inside it. Apparently, they jumped on its back and punched it into submission.
  • Done literally in The Labyrinth Index, where Mhari punches (proxy of) Cthulhu in the face.
  • Done three times in the final book of the Fablehaven series, with Seth killing two super-powerful demons: Graulas and Nagi Luna, and Kendra killing Grogrog, the freaking demon king. And all this with a single magic sword.
  • In gamebook series Way of the Tiger, the world's mightiest wizards and warriors, primordial beastgods, giants, ifrit, an Eldritch Abomination or two, demigods and demons - all have died under the fists and feet of your character, the ninja Avenger.


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