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Godzilla Threshold / Live-Action TV

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Godzilla Thresholds in live-action TV.


  • 24: Crossed in every season.
    • On Day 2, CTU locates the terrorist nuke before it detonates, but is unable to disarm, forcing George Mason to fly it into a remote area of the Mojave desert to safely allow it to explode. This still kills a small number of people who couldn't be warned in time.
    • On Day 4, President Keeler authorizes a cruise missile strike that will kill his own secretary of defense, reasoning that it's better for him to die in that manner before terrorists can execute him on a live internet stream.
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    • On Day 6, Wayne Palmer orders a nuclear strike on the terrorists' home country to force the prime minister to get off his ass and start working with America to prevent further terrorist attacks on American soil. The strike turns out to be a bluff, however.
    • In Live Another Day, President Heller offers himself up to be executed by terrorists to prevent further drone attacks on London.
  • The TAHITI Protocol in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which somehow saves Coulson from his near-death in The Avengers. TAHITI infused him with alien blood, risking insanity to save the Agent.
  • Angel: Season 4. The world is on the verge of an unexpected Apocalypse when the Beast blocks out the sun over LA to create a 24-hour demon playground. The only thing that can stop it is Angel's Superpowered Evil Side, Angelus, the greatest mass murderer in recorded history and one of the worst vampires ever heard of. Even Angel agrees it has to be done and Angelus is freed. Then the only way to then stop Angelus is to break out a convicted murderer note , Faith the Vampire Slayer, who has to use her Death Seeker nature to almost commit suicide because Angelus is that hard for even a Slayer to defeat.
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  • Arrow: In the penultimate episode of Season 5, Prometheus and his allies capture all of Oliver's friends and inner circle members. Desperate to save them, Oliver has no choice but to turn to several past enemies for help, including Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson — the respective Big Bads of Seasons 1 and 2, and before Prometheus came along, the top two contenders for the title of Oliver's Arch-Enemy.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the first season, the station's dockworkers go on strike. Faced with a complete shutdown of the station's operations, Commander Sinclair is authorized to end the strike "By any means necessary". He does the unthinkable and reallocates part of the station's military budget to meet the dockworkers' demands.
    • In Season 4, first the Vorlons, then the Shadows decide to stop playing around and start laying waste to each other's allied planets all across the galaxy. They only solution they have left is to locate the rest of the First Ones, each a Sufficiently Advanced Alien on the level of the Vorlons and Shadows, and convince them to come back and engage the Vorlons and the Shadows in one last elaborate gambit.
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    • The Earth-Minbari War was one for Earth Alliance. As shown in In the Beginning, realization of the Minbari's power caused Earth Alliance to start freely fielding nukes (usually kept in reserve), buying alien weapons (something they don't usually do, preferring to reverse-engineer technologies to not become dependent on the sellers and to understand how they work e.g. so they don't blow up in their face), and even ramming Minbari ships to just try and slow them down enough to evacuate a sizable part of Earth's population away from the genocidal enemy. Even ten years after the Minbari decided to spare Mankind and surrender, Earth is still trying to put together a more powerful fleet, even fielding Wave Motion Guns and collaborating with the Shadows.
    • The backstory has the Dilgar War as one for the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Attacked for no apparent reason by the Space Nazi and being slowly overwhelmed, the League begged for help from the Centauri Republic, the Narn Regime and Earth Alliance... In spite of being an alliance formed specifically to defend from Centauri expansionism, having added the Narn to the list after seeing they were just as bad as the Narn, and Earth apparently being either a Centauri client or another expansionist regime. The Centauri and the Narn, having other issues (including the resurgence of the old enemy of the Centauri) and some kind of agreement with the Dilgar, refused, but Earth Alliance didn't, and proved crucial to save the day... And non-expansionist.
  • In Chernobyl, all kinds of Godzilla Thresholds are crossed. Most of the plot comes from the main characters desperately trying to convince the Soviet Government that yes, all these extreme measures are totally necessary.
    • To put out the reactor fire (which was spewing radioactive smoke), Legasov dumps several tons of boron and sand on the reactor. This melts the stuff into lava, which causes its own problems, but at least the reactor is no longer on fire.
    • Draining the water in the basement was necessary to prevent a nasty steam explosion, but said basement was so horribly radioactive that setting foot there would doom whoever did it. Scherbina still manages to find three volunteers. Who all survived.
    • The radioactive lava created from the aforementioned fire solution was slowly melting through the floor of the building, so they got a bunch of miners to dig a tunnel and install a heat exchanger, exposing all of them to serious radiation in an attempt to not contaminate the groundwater. The lava did not melt through the concrete floor and the heat exchanger was unnecessary, but given that there was a 60% percent chance of the opposite happening, better safe than really sorry.
    • The optimum solution for clearing the intensely radioactive graphite debris from the roofs is robots (they got ones used for moon landings, since those were already hardened against radiation from space). But one roof, 'Masha', was so radioactive that even this didn't work, which forced them to resort to human cleaners, who had to wear lead clothing and spend only 90 seconds each on that roof.
    • In the final episode, during the trials of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin (the guys in charge of Chernobyl at the time of the explosion), Legasov bluntly reveals the serious design flaws of the RMBK reactors, publicly admitting that the Soviet authorities had covered up the reactors' tendency to have power spikes when the control rods were inserted (which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen). This despite the Soviet government being very brutal on people who embarrass it. He then seals it by writing memoirs about the accident and then committing suicide, foiling the KGB's attempts to have him fade into obscurity.
    • Really, just being near Chernobyl after the explosion was this. The area was so radioactive that it gave Legasov and Scherbina about five more years to live, but if no one went close enough to enclose it, it would irradiate all of Europe.
  • In Continuum, one particular Bad Future has a band of post-apocalyptic raiders attacking the base of the Freelancers, an organization dedicated to suppressing time travel, as a last-ditch "Hail Mary" play to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Then the sergeant hands one of his men an experimental device.
    Sergeant: That's right. The Hail Mary now has a Hail Mary.
  • In The Defenders (2017), the Hand plans on sinking New York City into the ground, three of the titular heroes resolve that to stop them they must explode their headquarters while all their leaders are inside. This coming from Matt Murdock (who has spent two seasons staunchly standing by his no-kill rule), Claire Temple (who derides murder being the only answer to anything) and Colleen Wing (who refuses to kill Bakuto because she won't be much better than he if she does so), and it takes a lot of from each single one of them to convince Luke to agree with their plan.
  • These moments in Doctor Who usually involve the Daleks, the Time Lords, or both.
    • "The Evil of the Daleks" has a scene in which the usually compassionate-to-a-fault Second Doctor (who tried to Save the Villain in an earlier story and successfully negotiated monsters into leaving Earth alone in the previous story), informs Jamie and Victoria that if the choice comes between saving their lives and stopping the Daleks, he is not going to save their lives. They are reasonably comfortable with this, as well.
    • "The War Games" (and with it, the end of the Second Doctor's era and the black and white era of Doctor Who) concludes with the Doctor, confronted with a problem he admits he could not solve on his own, asking for help from the Time Lords. This act would result in his regeneration and his exile for three real life years. Again, The Needs of the Many...
    • At the end of "The Invasion of Time", the Fourth Doctor takes up a fearful ancient Time Lord superweapon called the De-Mat Gun. He does so in order to stop the titular invasion of the Time Lord homeworld, Gallifrey.
    • The Last Great Time War, fought between the Time Lords and the Daleks, ended with the Doctor making a sincere effort at double genocide just to end the carnage. As expanded on in "The End of Time", it was either that or let the corrupt Time Lord leadership destroy the entire universe to escape their fate.
    • The Osterhagen keys in "Journey's End"; people who know about them start crying at the mere mention of their use. It's revealed that UNIT strung a series of nuclear warheads beneath the Earth's crust, with the stated aim of destroying the entire freakin' planet. It is only to be used when death is considered better than the alternative.
    • In "The End of Time", we finally learn what it takes for the Tenth Doctor to pick up a gun: the return of the Time Lords and all the horrors sealed away with the Last Great Time War.
    • "Victory of the Daleks": In a reference to Winston Churchill's real-world invocation of this trope in defense of allying with Stalin, Churchill says he would ally with anyone, even the maniacal Daleks, if it meant defeating the Nazis.
    • "Nightmare in Silver" shows that by the end of the Cyber Wars, the Cybermen were such a threat it was worth obliterating a galaxy to finish them. Collateral damage numbering in the trillions. Standard procedure dictates that any encountered survivors must be terminated, and if you can't manage that the entire planet is to be destroyed.
    • In "The Night of the Doctor", the Eighth Doctor, once he learned just how bad the War had gotten (to the point that innocents could no longer see any difference between Daleks and Time Lords), consented to direct his regeneration into creating someone willing to discard his self-imposed restrictions.
      8th Doctor: Make me a warrior now.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": The Doctor's second attempt at ending the Time War still breaks every rule of the Time Lord military. He summons ten other past incarnations of himself to shift Gallifrey into a different universe.
    • "Resolution": The Thirteenth Doctor is dedicated to the principle of Thou Shalt Not Kill, more so than many of her previous incarnations. When dealing with a Dalek, that goes out the window — although she does confirm with her companions that she gave it every reasonable opportunity to surrender before killing it.
  • Farscape:
    • In Season 1 during the first appearance of Maldis, Zhaan, who has the capability to defeat him, fears to unleash that power due to her violent past and discusses the trope with D'Argo. It's not until a few episodes later when the crew encounters a planet full of Delvians who indiscriminately use their powers on others under the direction of their Knight Templar leader, that we learn just how bad an out-of-control Zhaan could be. Maldis's excuse is he's an energy vampire and needs to eat. Zhaan would be Ax-Crazy and go on a rampage just for the giggles.
    • Played with in season 4 when John finds out that playing with wormholes is fucking about with the entire fabric of reality. The only reason he reenters the system is that he has no choice. He still messes up though.
    • At the end of season 4 John does this with a home-made nuke in order to try to pull a fast one on the Scarrans and Peacekeepers. Done again on a much bigger scale in Peacekeeper Wars; John holds the entire galaxy to ransom with the wormhole weapon. This time, he really wasn't bluffing.
    • The Peacekeepers begin as the Big Bad of the series. This only lasts until the emergence of the Scarran Imperium, and just why Scorpius is so desperate to get his hands on wormhole weapons. The Scarrans are such a major threat to the rest of the galaxy that for a brief moment near the end of season 3, Crichton was genuinely considering helping Scorpius. Harvey, who by this point is actively helping Crichton and, in his own words, "[shares] his intellect, but not his passions and his fears," thinks Scorpius is right.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The reason the wildlings are banding together to attack the Seven Kingdoms for the first time in living memory is because there are fucking ice zombies coming for them.
    • Invoked in so many words by Tywin when he justifies the Red Wedding to Tyrion as an action that, although it crossed the Moral Event Horizon, effectively ended a war and prevented many deaths that might otherwise have occurred without it, implicitly contrasting it with the wildfire Tyrion deployed, unsucessfully, which claimed thousands of lives until Tywin and the Lannister cavalry arrived.
    • In "The Children", Cersei informs Tywin that she is content to burn their House to the ground before she will let her son be taken from her.
    • Davos invokes this when negotiating with Lyanna Mormont by pointing out the North has got bigger problems heading their way than just the Boltons.
      Davos: The real war is between the living and the dead and make no mistake, my lady...the dead are coming.
    • Ghost seems to be the Godzilla for the Night's Watch, given how Jon sends Sam to let him out of his kennel when the siege on Castle Black starts going sour.
    • Later in Season 5 Stannis, at Melisandre's urging, decides to sacrifice his own daughter to the Lord of Light in order that the bad weather preventing his attack on Winterfell be lifted.
    • In Season 7, Jon tells the assembled Lords of the North that the White Walker threat is so serious that women must be trained to fight as well.
    • Subverted by Cersei, who apparently agrees to help Jon and Daenerys fight the White Walkers after seeing the wight they brought to prove the threat was real. However, she admits to Jaime later she has no intention of keeping her word on this. Jaime thinks that she's an idiot for this particular decision.
  • In Haven, Duke Crocker has the power to completely erase a Trouble by killing one person who has it. Duke never willingly uses it, since he finds killing abominable and Audrey and the others usually find a non-lethal solution to Troubles. Duke was willing to use it on a guy whose unknowing Reality Warper Trouble was about to destroy the town with an Alien Invasion he imagined, but Nathan then solves the problem before he can. Later, they face a guy whose organs progressively fail, forcing him to harvest organs from his family members, as well as trigger the same affliction in anybody who escapes from him. Audrey tells Duke he has no choice, he has to use his ability. Duke eventually relents and kills the guy. Even later, he resorts to killing a baby's father (with the father's permission) to end the child's ability to kill people with his cries.
  • An Hour to Save Your Life, a medical documentary series on The BBC, showed two people receiving surgery under general anaesthetic at the roadside because they were dying of internal bleeding after being severely injured in road accidents. One had open heart surgery, and the other was given the REBOA treatment, which is risky in an operating theatre, never mind at the side of a road. The medics decided that the patients could not wait to be taken to hospital.
  • The Great Legend War in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger invokes this when Akaranger has the other Super Sentai to sacrifice their powers to drive off the Zangyack. They get better at the end of the series.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga has his Ultimate Form, which is powerful enough to destroy the planet with a single Rider Kick, and only appears on screen in the penultimate episode to face off against the Big Bad.
    • Fittingly, enough, to bookend the Heisei Era of Kamen Rider that started with Kuuga, Kamen Rider Zi-O has Zi-O's true and future final form, Ohma Zi-O, which just sits in 2068 for most of the series, but is finally used in the final episode when the Big Bad turns out to be way too strong. Like Ultimate Kuuga, it's an apocalypse-level power on account of being a Physical God.
  • Played for Laughs on Parks and Recreation. When Ron's first ex-wife Tammy ("Tammy One") takes a hold of him again, Leslie tries to recruit his second, equally manipulative ex-wife Tammy ("Tammy Two"). Leslie explains "When you are fighting Godzilla, you need Mothra." Unfortunately, Tammy Two is far too terrified of One to proceed... so Leslie is forced to go even further and recruit Tammy Zero, Ron's mother, as a final emergency measure.
  • Person of Interest:
    • The first example is when Root is let out of her cage to help save Reese.
    • The second is when The Machine gives them an interesting number, it wants them to kill a high ranking US Congressman to stop the creation of a second machine whose first directive is to kill Finch. Throughout the entire series Finch refuses to allow the Machine to act without restriction, even in response to Samaritan, fearing that without limits the Machine would end up being no better than Samaritan. After Samaritan agents kill Elias and Root, Finch finally decides to unleash the full power of the Machine.
  • Power Rangers usually reaches this point at least twice per season. At some point, the villain's Evil Plan will be so destructive, or a Monster of the Week so powerful that the old code of "match force with proportionate force" just stops applying. It's usually at this point that all out assaults, calling in old favors, and even sacrifices become valid options.
  • In "The Last Sontaran", an episode of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, despite the fact that Sarah Jane Doesn't Like Guns and distrusts the military, the presence of a Sontaran ship on Earth prompts her to make plans to call in UNIT.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • When things get really desperate in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, the higher-ups are usually willing to give the green light to plans that involve ridiculous things like blowing up suns.
    • The Replicators are so bad that every single one of their appearances has the line being crossed to further limits. Indeed Thor says that the reason the Asgard ask humans for help so often is that they lack the stupidity necessary to devise a plan that crosses that Threshold. Said crossing involves such things as crashing ships into planets, using a one-of-a-kind state-of-the-art warship as bait for an explosion, and luring every Replicator in existence to the Asgard homeworld (and then collapsing the planet's star into a black hole, just to be thorough).
      • The Replicators have invaded the Milky Way, wiped out the System Lords and have begun attacking Earth. SG-1's final plan depends on an Ancient device designed to create (or destroy) all life, properly re-configuring it to only target the Replicators, and simultaneously firing it through every Stargate in the galaxy. And to do it, they have to team up with Ba'al, who was trying to reconquer the planet they were on at the time.
    • In the Season 6 finale, Anubis hovering with his finger on the trigger of an Ancient superweapon ready to blow up Abydos causes Daniel to break the non-interference rules of the Ascended beings and try to destroy Anubis using his godlike powers. He only fails because the other Ascended beings stop him.
    • In The Ark of Truth, one of the weapon systems the humans bring with them to the Ori home galaxy as a fallback in case their primary plan fails is a Replicator with reprogrammed failsafes. The failsafes turn out to not be as fail safe as hoped.
      • The Ark of Truth itself was a last-resort weapon for the ancestors of the Ancients who were suffering persecution from the ancestors of the Ori: using it would have saved them, but would have also caused them to compromise their principles of free will and intellectual growth. Ultimately they step back from the Threshold and decide not to use it, instead choosing to leave their homeworld to the Ori. In retrospect, this was not the smartest idea. But at least they kept the Ark around for our heroes to find and use at a later date when there really is no other choice.
    • In a later arc of Atlantis, Rodney creates a reprogrammed humanoid Replicator to act as a delivery system for a computer virus to destroy the rest of the Asuran Replicators. Surprisingly, the reprogrammed Replicator is perfectly content with her purpose in life as a "living bomb", delivering her payload without a hitch when finally deployed on the Replicator homeworld.
  • Star Trek:
    • Whenever a single omega particle is detected, Omega protocol authorizes the captain of the vessel to use any means (even breaking the Prime Directive) to destroy it. Why the panic? The decomposition of just one killed a bunch of scientists and rendered warp travel impossible for a radius of several light years.
    • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate!" involved them considering passing the Threshold to prevent the spread of an alien pancake parasite. Kirk demanded they find and Take a Third Option.
    • But he didn't always. In "Where No Man Has Gone Before", he tells the ship's medical officer, Dr. Fix, that if the ship hasn't heard from Kirk within 12 hours after Fix and Spock beam back up, it is to proceed to the nearest starbase and pass along Kirk's "recommendation" that the entire planet be subjected to lethal radiation in order to kill Gary Mitchell.
      • And earlier in that same episode, the fragmented, incomplete data from the USS Valiant''s ejected logs end with the captain ordering his ship to self-destruct, which from the reaction it evokes in the crew was definitely more this trope than it became later in the series.
    • At the end of "Obsession", Kirk sets off an antimatter bomb that basically renders the cloud creature's (admittedly desolate to begin with) home planet uninhabitable in order to destroy the creature.
    • Kodos the Executioner/Anton Karidian in The Original Series episode "The Conscience of the King" used this as his excuse to execute half the colonists of the Tarsus IV colony when a fungus destroyed most of their food supply. It's worth noting that he was wrong about one of his assumptions: It turned out that the Federation did manage to get relief supplies to the colony in time. Had he turned out to be right...
    • Deep Space Nine discusses this several times during the Dominion War arcs, both at a governmental level (with Section 31, that thinks the Federation is constantly living on the edge of the Threshold and this gives them reason to do every single thing they do, no matter how monstrous) and a personal and moral level (such as in the episode "In The Pale Moonlight").
    • While we've never seen it enacted, the existence of Starfleet General Order 24 shows the Federation's awareness that such situations can arise: General Order 24 is an order to destroy all life on a planet (and it does not require Starfleet Command's approval to be enacted, although obviously a captain that ordered it without due cause would be liable to be found unfit for duty by the CMO, and probably relieved of duty even before the order is followed through, to say nothing of courts martial afterwards, etc.).
    • The Borg Collective's very existence is considered the threshold for the Federation. Whenever they've shown up in any of the TV series or movies, Starfleet has been willing to employ whatever means necessary to stop them from assimilating the Federation. The TNG episode "I, Borg" included the deployment of a computer virus that would kill every single Borg drone, a violation of the Federation's sacred principle of not using genocidal weapons or tactics. The Enterprise crew don't go through with it because of their moral qualms, but Admiral Nechayev later makes it clear the Starfleet Command wanted them to and is furious that they didn't.
    • Also from the Borg, Deep Space Nine reveals that after the battle of Wolf 359, where a single Borg Cube routed an entire Federation fleet, they authorised the creation of the Defiant, the first ever Federation space ship with no other purpose than combat.
    • Officially, the Federation has laws that forbid its citizens from going back in time and/or messing with the timeline in any way. However, if a situation has become so bad that the only solution is time travel, then the Department of Temporal Investigations is generally willing to look the other way.
    • In Star Trek: Discovery, the war with the Klingons is going so badly that the admiralty is willing to allow the former Terran Emperor Phillipa Georgiou to cause an extinction-level event on Qo'noS, just like she did with Mirror Qo'noS. It takes Burnham to point out just how wrong such an action would be to get Admiral Cornwell to change her mind. Burnham hands over the detonator to L'Rell, who uses the threat of genocide to force the 24 Houses to unite under her banner and ends the war.
  • Supernatural:
    • In season five, after seeing a future in which Lucifer takes over the world, Dean's willing to let the Archangel Michael have him even though it will mean most of the world is destroyed. Sam convinces him not to.
    • By the end of season five, the only option left is let Lucifer take over Sam's body. While this option risked annihilation, the apocalypse would have to happen if they did nothing.
    • In season six, a good guy decides that the only way to prevent the Apocalypse from being restarted by the angels is to make a Deal with the Devil and take in the power of all the souls in Purgatory.
    • Yet another example involving Lucifer is in Season Eleven, when the heroes are desperate enough for allies against the Darkness that they are willing to consider letting Lucifer out of his cage, and ultimately Castiel agrees to be his vessel.
    • At the end of Season 13, the threat of Lucifer stronger than ever after absorbing Jack's Grace is great enough that Dean allows Apocalypse Michael inside.
  • Threshold:
    • In "Shock", the Department of Homeland Security has an infectee in lockup, because he may know how to find two terrorists. Threshold is convinced that he is am imminent escape risk unless he is in their own (higher security) lockup. They're right, by the way. After Caffrey fails to convince the Secretary of Homeland Security to hand him over, Cavanaugh seriously proposes that they capture him by force - in other words, that they assault a US government facility. The plan isn't implemented, but that it was even discussed shows how serious the threat is.
    • In "Pulse", when the signal begins to infect cellphones and other computers, Threshold detonates an EMP weapon in Miami, wiping out every computer within 40 miles of the city.
    • At the end of "Outbreak", when the number of known infectees has jumped from a dozen or so to over 200, Threshold implements new protocols, including a citywide wiretap in Washington, DC. Molly explicitly states that the people's civil rights will be curtailed until the threat is resolved.
  • Basically every episode of Ultraman. When everything else the anti-monster team tried has failed, they hit a point where having another giant guy wrestle around with the monster and shooting laser beams isn't such a bad option.
  • The first half of Warehouse 13 season 4 is built on this. The artifact the team spends episode 4.01 searching for unleashes an evil into the world. Considering that the alternative is the whole world being completely drained of all hope, this is the better alternative. Of course, the evil they unleash decides to invoke the Godzilla Threshold as well in hopes that the team will undo what they did.


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