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"See that girl with the silly pigtails? When she runs toward the ball there's just the slightest hesitation in her left foot. I'm willing to bet a childhood injury has weakened her. Keep serving the ball to her left and we'll destroy her and the rest of her team."
Azula shows how she can turn even a friendly game of volleyball into warfare, Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Combat Pragmatist uses any tools at their disposal. This means going after any weak points. People have plenty of those built in, whether it be that oh so sensitive groin, those soft and squishy eyes that can be damaged so easily, especially if you have something to toss at them, etc. And if the natural weaknesses that we all have aren't enough, some people get new ones. For example, have you noticed that your enormous opponent over there is holding his arm kinda funny? Maybe if you punch him hard in the shoulder you'll make him scream like a tiny child and shorten the fight (so long as you get clear of him fast).

All that said, it's not just the Pragmatist who does this. Sometimes it's more a move of desperation by someone who prefers to fight fair, but this is the only way out of a predicament. In any event, you can usually expect this to come up precisely once in a fight. After all, doing the same thing over and over is boring, no matter how effective it might be.

You can also expect this to show up during Cold-Blooded Torture. Why make a new wound when you can take advantage of one that already exists? Bonus points in that it lets the victim (and audience) cringe in anticipation as your weapon of choice inches closer to a spot that already hurts like the dickens.

In video games, this is usually the implied in-universe justification for Injured Vulnerability gameplay mechanics.

A Sister Trope to Attack Its Weak Point, which it often overlaps with. Compare and contrast with tropes such as Untouchable Until Tagged, Injured Vulnerability, Achilles' Heel, Flaw Exploitation, and Subsystem Damage. This may be a follow up to an attempt at Crippling the Competition. Organ Dodge can operate as the inverse of this, as due to an old injury an attack at a specific spot may no longer work.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baki the Grappler: Hatanaka Kouhei threatens to do this to Chiharu Shiba after breaking his arm. Shiba responds by smashing his broken arm against a wall to show that he doesn't care about pain, then delivers a No Holds Barred Beat Down to Kouhei.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Subverted in the manga. At the end of the fight between Alex Louis Armstrong the Strong Arm Alchemist, and Sloth, Armstrong is severely weakened by a dislocated shoulder, but Armstrong is able to catch what would be Sloth's finishing blow on his injured shoulder, which pops it back into place and puts him back into the fight.
  • Gundam: In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Domon dislocates his shoulder trying to save a boy who attempted to steal the God Gundam. Domon's next opponent in the Gundam Fight, Neo India's Chandra Sijiema, witnesses him getting injured as part of his "stalking the enemy before the fight to learn of any weaknesses or just murder them" deal. So when their battle comes, Chandra has his Cobra Gundam target the God Gundam's shoulder so that the Mobile Trace System will transfer the pain to Domon's already-injured shoulder.
  • One Piece:
    • In the earlier chapters, Zoro is fighting Cabaji of Buggy Pirates, where the latter always aims at the wound on the stomach that Buggy inflicted earlier on Zoro. Zoro, getting pissed off, decides to cut the wound deeper just to prove that he'll win even with that big wound — and he does.
    • When Kin'emon and his fellow samurai fight Kaido, they notice that, even in Kaido's dragon form, he still has an X-shaped scar on his chest sustained decades earlier. Knowing of Kaido's massive strength advantage, they decide to use their strongest attacks at this scar at every opportunity. It doesn't work, but it does buy Luffy enough time to arrive and fight Kaido one-on-one.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: When Saitou first encounters Sanosuke, Saitou first wounds Sano's shoulder and then, when the sword breaks due to the strength of Saitou's thrust, attacks Sano's wound in order to incapacitate him. It's later subverted in a sparring match between the two when they become quasi-allies, as Sano realizes after the match that Saitou actually deliberately avoided hitting the wound, and despite that Saitou was still too much for Sano to handle. This proves to Sano that he is not ready for the battles he is about to face.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo: Subverted. The one-eyed Bontenmaru claims that so many people have tried to attack his eyepatch that he might actually be better at parrying from that side.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: Touka Bergatt's assassins target his brother Tariga's injured shoulder when trying to kill him. They themselves had injured his shoulder previously to divert suspicion from the family before Touka decided he needed to be killed outright.
  • In Space Adventure Cobra, this is not an improvisation but an actual well-thought tactic. During the Rugball arc, Cobra obtains the medical files of the Opposing Sports Team, positing that Rugball being such a Blood Sport, long-time practitioners naturally have some old injuries that aren't fully healed even by futuristic medical science. Thus he makes his teammates learn the specific weak spots of every opponent; it doesn't insure victory against the champion team, but it definitely gives the underdogs an edge.

    Comic Books 
  • Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen: When Kelly refuses to throw his fight against the Nazi champion, the Nazis rough him up and break his ribs, giving their boxer an easy target to aim for during the bout.
  • The DCU:
    • Bruce Wayne: Fugitive: In Gotham Knights #31, Batman uses this as a Badass Boast, calling out each of his opponents by name and listing the injuries each have that make them vulnerable: knee injury from playing football, bad shoulder from copping a piece of shrapnel, and so on. (Of the last one, he observes: "Perfect medical record. So far.")
    • Identity Crisis (2004): Several Justice League reservists are getting their asses kicked by Deathstroke, until Green Arrow jabs Deathstroke in his previously-wounded eye with an arrow, which throws him off and allows the Leaguers to pile onto him.
  • In the first volume of The Good Asian, Edison Hark suffered a bad wound from a hatchet in his shoulder the first time he tangled with Hui Long. Near the start of the second volume, he gets into a fight and reopens the wound, and immediately thinks that he needs to end the fight before his opponent can notice the heavy bleeding and take advantage. As soon as he has finished thinking that, the guy he's fighting notices and promptly jabs a finger right into the wound.
  • Onslaught: During the final battle with Onslaught the Hulk manages to crack Onslaught's armor, which up until then was impervious, allowing him, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four to enter Onslaught's non-corporeal form in order to defeat him/it.

    Fan Works 
  • Fate/Harem Antics: Archer/Francis Drake kicks Gunner/Oda Nobunaga in a torso wound during a Blade Lock to make her stagger back.
  • For the Want of a Nail brings two examples:
    • Mastermind: Strategist for Hire: Izuku kills All Might during the USJ attack with two stabs to his old injury.
    • Deku? I think he's some pro...: During their fight against All Might in the Final Exam, Izuku aims to shoot him directly in his injury, whilst Bakugou, on Izuku's advice, aims for his left side (where his injury is located).
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: When Jon Snow gets in a fight with a Norscan berserker, he sees the Norscan's arm has been injured recently and badly healed (it was broken by the Wolf during the attack on Euron's ship a few weeks earlier) and chops it off. Unfortunately, it barely slows the berserker down, and the fight only ends once Jon manages to decapitate him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Batman, ever the Combat Pragmatist, strikes the Mutant leader’s bandaged nose three times during the fight, the last strike being a vicious headbutt that disorients him long enough to deliver the finishing brutal beat down.
  • The Transformers: The Movie: At one point in the Optimus Prime vs. Megatron duel, Megatron wounds Optimus by throwing a sharp piece of debris and then slashing him with a Laser Blade. Much later, when Megatron appears defeated, he spots a fallen blaster, and shoots Optimus multiple times in his earlier wound. This ultimately proves fatal for Prime.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): When Black Manta's father dies fighting Aquaman, literally caused by him attacking a leaving Arthur and getting himself crushed by debris, he vows to plunge his father's knife into him. Problem is that Aquaman's superhuman durability means no human weapon can meaningfully hurt him. Manta's solution is to use Atlantean weapons to cut Arthur's skin and stab the wound, a tactic that does take a lot of fight out of the superhero.
  • Bet Your Life: During their fight in the lift bridge control room, Joseph kicks Sonny in his bad knee: the result of his Career-Ending Injury.
  • At the climax of Black Rain, the villainous Sato had been forced to commit Yubitsume just before the final chase, but despite having recently lost a finger he is more than a match for Detective Nick Conklin in a fist fight, and is happily beating the stuffing out of Nick. However, once Nick manages to aggravate the injury, he turns the fight around and quickly has Sato dazed and then beaten into submission.
  • The climax of D-Day has Gelda shooting Ivan in the leg before deciding to take him on in a fistfight. The subsequent battle has Gelda occasionally kicking Ivan's leg wound to further cripple him.
  • In the martial arts movie, Delightful Forest, the hero, Wu Song, having killed all his enemies, faces his last opponent, Chang the "Door God", while suffering an injury from having a sword shoved through his left shoulder in the process. In the subsequent duel, Chang repeatedly grabs, tears and mains Wu Song's left shoulder, making him bleed.
  • Dirty Harry: Harry tortures Scorpio by pressing his boot into a knife wound he received (from Harry) within the past hour. It's enough to make him give up his hostage's location, but also gets him released due to Harry's illegal conduct.
  • Downplayed in Escape from New York. The fight is more or less over, but Snake took an arrow above the knee and the Duke of New York has his minions hold Plissken down for questioning. The Duke forces the arrow in deeper when Snake refuses to talk.
  • Every Last One of Them: When Bobby sasses him, Nichols grabs his broken nose and squeezes. Later, Hunter employs a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique by tying him to a wall and kneeling on the gunshot wound in his abdomen until he talks.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: When Godzilla has Kong pinned by a foot on his chest, Kong tries taking a shot at the axe wound he made in Godzilla's leg earlier. It definitely hurts Godzilla, but he retaliates by stomping even harder on Kong's chest to take the fight out of him.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: At the beginning, the Guardians are fighting a beast that has a hide too thick for their weapons to harm. Then Peter spots a small cut on its neck and has Gamora attack it with her sword, opening a large gash down to its belly.
  • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters: During the climactic brawl, Hansel delivers several punches to Muriel's gut wound that he had caused with his gun at start of the fight as he tries to hang her with a chain.
  • Early in High Risk, the Dark Action Girl henchwoman Fai suffers a gunshot to her shoulder while killing an undercover cop. She spends the whole movie posing as a hotel worker until revealing her true nature near the end, trying to shoot one of the good guys, but Joyce managed to subdue Fai by grabbing her shoulder precisely on the spot where she's hit by a bullet.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: To kill Smaug the dragon, Bard has to shoot a Black Arrow into a gap on Smaug's underbelly that is missing a scale. In the book, this is a random flaw as Smaug has protected himself with metal treasure embedded in his scales but missed a spot. Whether as in the movie, it's caused by an arrow wound that Smaug sustained during the destruction of the Dale a century prior.
  • Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. During the sequence where Indiana Jones hijacks the truck carrying the Ark, one German soldier shoots him in the left arm and shortly afterwards a different soldier repeatedly punches him in the wounded shoulder.
  • A ways into Inglourious Basterds, Aldo finds it a wee bit too convenient that they just happened to get attacked by the Nazis in the bar their Mole specifically wanted them to meet in, and suspects she might be playing them. When she protests, pointing out she was shot in the ensuing firefight to insist she's innocent, Aldo responds by calmly inserting his finger into her bullet wound to pressure her into being honest.
  • Ip Man 4: When Geddes notices Ip Man's left arm is injured, he kicks it several times and later tries to break it.
  • James Bond: Bond receives a shoulder injury during The World Is Not Enough. Later, the villain Renard gets a Bond One-Liner to torture Bond: "I knew you couldn't shoulder the responsibility". This makes Bond realize that Renard was working for Elektra, who told him about Bond's injury.
  • Jupiter Ascending: In the climactic action sequence, Jupiter shoots Balem in the leg. Later, when she tries to climb the structure as the whole refinery collapses, Balem catches up to her and pins her down, to which she presses her thumb on the injury she caused earlier, gaining the upper hand against him in the process.
  • The Karate Kid: During the All-Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, Kreese orders Bobby Brown to deliberately injure Daniel's leg in order to knock him out of the tournament. Bobby reluctantly does so and gets himself disqualified. When Daniel is able to participate in the final match after all due to Mr. Miyagi's Healing Hands, Kreese then orders Johnny to target Daniel's injured leg. Johnny had been ignoring Daniel's injury to this point, and although he's clearly reluctant to follow Kreese's advice, he does start attacking Daniel's leg and nearly wins the match by doing so.
    John Kreese: Sweep the leg.
    [Johnny Lawrence makes a confused/horrified face]
    John Kreese: You have a problem with that?
    Johnny Lawrence: [reluctantly], Sensei.
    John Kreese: No mercy.
  • Lethal Weapon:
    • During the first film, When Murtagh is tortured in the first movie, not only is he beaten until he's a bloody mess, but salt is literally rubbed into the bullet hole in his shoulder.
    • In the final fight of the fourth film, Jet Li's character dislocates Riggs's shoulder and then repeatedly punches Riggs right in that same shoulder.
  • Monster Party: When Jeremy and Cameron attack Iris in the kitchen, she slices Jeremy's cheek open with a kitchen knife. When he grabs her arm, she jabs her fingers into the cut, forcing him to let go. Later, Milo goes a step further; digging his fingers into the cut and ripping off a chunk of Jeremy's cheek.
  • Moonrise Kingdom: Suzy stabs one of the Khaki Scouts with lefty scissors. Later on in the film, the Khaki Scouts pull a Heel–Face Turn and try to help Suzy and Sam elope — except for the guy she stabbed, who betrays them and initiates a chase. To incapacitate him, Sam punches him in his open wounds.
  • Never Back Down: During their fight in the film's climax, Ryan hits Jake's ribs which had been injured in a prior fight with a different opponent.
  • Pacific Rim: While fighting Leatherback, Gipsy Danger gets around the monster's armor by blowing a hole in its armpit, then sticks its arm cannon in the wound and blasts deep into the Kaiju's chest cavity.
  • Planet of the Apes: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. During the battle between Caesar and Koba for control over the ape colony, Caesar repeatedly targets the gash in Koba's side that he had gained at the start of the fight.
  • Rob Roy: Before the climactic Duel to the Death, Archie takes note of Rob's rib injury, a wound Rob suffered when escaping from captivity not long before. As a result Archie makes sure to aim several slashes at Rob's torso during the Sword Fight, and to force Rob to exert himself and breathe heavily by making him chase after Archie, who employs Hit-and-Run Tactics throughout the bout. This leaves Rob in serious pain and winded before long.
  • Romeo Must Die ends with a Battle Amongst the Flames between Han and the main villain, where Han had his palms badly incinerated by the fire. The villain took advantage of this by purposely grabbing Han's hands and ripping out chunks of skin and flesh, and taunting him "Gimme some skin, come on!"
  • Saw III: Amanda's fight with Detective Matthews pretty much ends when she kicks his broken foot (which he purposely crushed to avoid being shackled in the last movie) causing it to break even further.
  • Serenity offers an inversion: in the final battle between Mal and the Operative, the Operative tries to disable Mal by attacking a pressure point that would normally cause temporarily paralysis - only for Mal to reveal that he previously took some shrapnel there during the war, so the pressure point doesn't work.
  • The infamous ending of A Serbian Film, where Milos the protagonist (who's in the nude) fights his last opponent, the overweight Fat Bastard Rasa, somehow still standing despite being shot twice in the stomach because of Kevlard. Rasa tries to strangle Milos in a last-ditch move, but Milos managed to turn the battle by repeatedly punching the spot on Rasa's belly where he shot at a few seconds earlier, successfully knocking Rasa off his feet. Death by skull-fucking ensues.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • Sherlock: Case of Evil: During their fight in the Underground tunnel, Moriarty kicks Holmes in the shoulder he has just been shot in.
    • Sherlock Holmes (2009):
      • Holmes uses his Sherlock Scan to tell that one of Blackwood's guards has a floating livernote  and an injured knee. Holmes punches him hard in the liver and dislocates his knee to take him down in seconds.
      • In the hypothetical fight played out in the minds of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty at the climax of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Moriarty wins due to his ruthless exploitation of Holmes' existing shoulder injury. Realizing there is no way he can win, Holmes surprises Moriarty by grabbing him and jumping over the balcony.
  • Star Wars:
    • Revenge of the Sith: During his brawl with General Grievous, Obi-Wan pulls apart some of the armor surrounding the cyborg's abdomen, exposing his organs. Shortly thereafter, he fires multiple blaster shots into this exposed region, causing a chain reaction which burns Grievous alive from inside his own casing.
    • The Force Awakens: Self-administered. Kylo Ren, during his lightsaber fights against Finn and Rey at the climax, repeatedly punches himself in the spot where Chewbacca had shot him with his bowcaster. No canon reason has been given, although one popular fan theory suggests that he was using the pain as a way to tap into additional dark side power.
  • Scream: When fighting Billy at the end, Sidney gouges her fingers into the wound that she gave him when she stabbed him with an umbrella earlier.
  • Tango and Cash: while storming Perret's warehouse, Cash takes a bullet in his arm that exits clean. During a fistfight with Requin minutes later, Requin gouges the wound with his thumb and makes Cash scream in pain.
  • Transit: While interrogating Nate in the swamp, Marek grinds his heel into the bullet wound in Nate's leg. Later, during their fight in the cabin, Marek hits Nate's injured leg with a length of chain.
  • Triangle: When Jess is being strangled by the wounded Victor, she manages to break his grip by jamming her finger into the hole at the back of his skull.

  • Ciaphas Cain:
    • Caves of Ice: When the ork gargant is going through the facility wall, Cain notices a relatively small hole in its armor from a previous attack, and orders all heavy weapons to fire at it, successfully disabling it by exploding an ammo dump inside.
    • The Last Ditch: A tervigon is hit with two anti-tank missiles and Cain immediately orders the troopers with him to target the wound. Justified in that nothing the troopers were carrying could have punched through the tervigon's armor before the missiles opened it up for them. Overlaps with Untouchable Until Tagged.
  • Headhunters: In the final battle, Roger Brown shoots Clas Greve in his badly-damaged groin.
  • Moby-Dick: At one point, the crew of the Pequod hunt down an old and sickly whale, and Flask insists on lancing it in an abscess, which proves to be an agonizing death stroke. Another iron harpoon and a stone one are both found embedded in the flesh nearby, indicating that an earlier whaling crew and (Ishmael speculates) a Northwest Indian had both tried the same attack.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: In one episode, Wesley, Fred and Gunn get into a fight with Skip, an extremely strong demon with a near-impenetrable exoskeleton. He pretty much wipes the floor with them until Wesley manages to shoot him in the spot where Angel broke a spike off the side of his head in an earlier fight. It turns that Skip's impenetrable exo-skeleton is no longer impenetrable at the site of the injury, allowing the bullet to penetrate Skip's brain and kill him.
  • Agent X: John Case engages Volker in a fist fight during a terrorist attack in Paris. During the fight, Volker takes advantage of Case's gunshot wound near the stomach by punching it a few times to give him the advantage.
  • Castle: One episode has Javier Esposito extract information from an injured criminal by sticking the hot barrel of a gun in the hole that gun just made in the man's shoulder.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • Much like in The Karate Kid, the first season features a member of the Cobra Kai dojo injuring his opponent in the tournament semi-finals, and in the finals another student from the dojo takes advantage of it by attacking the injury. The key difference here is that unlike Johnny and Bobby in the movie, neither was Ordered to Cheat. Hawk attacks Robby Keene from behind purely due to frustration that he's losing and happens to separate Robby's shoulder. Then in the finals, Miguel focuses on the shoulder due to a combination of combat pragmatism and wanting to cause Robby pain because he thinks that Robby is a romantic rival for Samantha. Johnny Lawrence, who remembers being put in that position by Kreese, and who is also Robby's father, is appalled by the actions of both of his students, and harshly reprimands Miguel and Hawk afterwards. Miguel slowly weans himself off the thug mentality during season 2 and never succumbs to the mindset of Kreese, Hawk goes all-in, at least until the very end of season 3.
    • In the season 3 finale, Kyler goes after Miguel seeking payback for the cafeteria fight in season 1, and repeatedly targets Miguel's still-recovering spine.
  • CSI: NY: In the second part of the Vegas/NY crossover, while in the interrogation room, Mac tries to get one of Christine's kidnappers to reveal her whereabouts by squeezing the man's arm where he had just been shot right before being apprehended. Unfortunately, the guy's awfully stoic and all Mac accomplishes (at this point) is to soak the man's bandage with blood and to get himself cussed at.
  • When an extremist OPA faction tries to take over Tycho station in the second season of The Expanse, the leader of the rogue faction shoots Camina Drummer in the gut as part of an attempt to make either her or her boss Fred Johnson give them critical weapons and supplies. When they still won't comply, he puts pressure on her torso to torture her, making her scream in agony. When the plot is foiled, Drummer stops in the middle of being helped to medical bay to grab a gun and summarily execute the guy who did it by shooting him in the head. And then she makes a point of walking off on her own without help to get medical care.
  • In the Forever (2014) episode "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths," the killer has stabbed Henry through his chest with a long antique knife, and the handle is protruding from Henry's back. While struggling, the killer swings Henry around so that the knife hilt is pushed sideways by the edge of a door frame. Then, Henry and the killer tumble down a flight of stairs, landing with a sickening crunch. After a few moments, the killer gets up again, but Henry is unable to move. The killer comments that it looks like Henry's back is broken, then places his boot on Henry's shoulders and grinds down with significant weight. Henry emits an agonized groan, and even that cuts off as the injury is aggravated, leaving Henry unable to move anything but his eyes.
  • Friends: When Ross agrees to play Rugby with his British girlfriend Emily's pals, he proceeds to get the stuffing beat out of him. Refusing to back out of the game for fear of losing face, Emily begins telling him what old injuries her friends have that he can exploit — including one on Ross's own team.
  • Gotham: In the second season, Alfred escapes being pinned by the Tabitha by attacking her arm, wounded a few episodes previously in a gunfight.
  • Journey to the West has the Long Armed Ape, who's The Assimilator and have absorbed the powers of his various victims, one of them being the sacred elephant, Ting-di. However, by doing so he inherits Ting-di's sole weakness, a scar from the sole of his foot, his only weakness. Sun Wukong emerged victorious by tunneling underground, and shoving his golden staff into said injury, which kills the Long Armed Ape mere minutes later.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva eventually reveals that the Rook Fangire had suffered a Game-Breaking Injury back in 1986 when Kamen Rider IXA, operated by Megumi Aso, managed to damage the left shoulder by first tricking Rook into using IXA to cause his left shoulder to be damaged, then attacking that spot with the Broken Fang. In 2008, the perfected IXA, this time operated by Megumi's daughter Yuri, eventually managed to kill Rook for good by striking that same shoulder with the IXA Judgement.
  • Leverage: In "The Stork Job", Parker gets a group of children past the human trafficker keeping them prisoner by attacking him where she had previously stabbed him with a fork.
  • Necessary Roughness: Towards the end, Terrance King is facing his former teammates for the first time since defecting to a new team. Enraged by his defection, one of them deliberately attacks his previously-injured shoulder, tearing it and effectively ending his football career.
  • Quantico: Vernon James of the High-Value Interrogation Group authorizes the brutal torture of FBI Special Agent Ryan Booth by having his gunshot wound punched several times in addition to the risk of being infected in order to get Alex Parrish to talk about the possibility of another bomb in New York. When the rest of the FBI finds out about this, they're pissed off.
  • Person of Interest
    • In "The Devil's Share", when an injured Fusco is taking on Simmons the HR cop has the upper hand until Fusco jams his thumb into the bullet wound Simmons got from Detective Carter.
      Fusco: Carter got you good, huh?
    • On two occasions ("Aletheia" and "YHWH"), one of our heroes is being held prisoner and the Machine sends a Public Secret Message that one of their guards has a bum knee, which they then hit to take them down easily.
  • Stargate Atlantis: In "The Prodigal", after being disarmed by Michael, Sheppard is having trouble in a fistfight against the super-strong hybrid. Sheppard manages to regain the advantage, though, by hitting the bullet wound he'd inflicted to Michael shortly before.
  • Supergirl: In "Survivors", Kara has trouble taking on an Draaga until Mon-El tells her he has an old leg injury
  • Super Sentai: In Choujin Sentai Jetman the giant One-Winged Angel form of the villain Radiguet at first glance seems to be Nigh-Invulnerable to the attacks of the Jetman's mecha. However, a chance hit on his lower back revealed that he had a weak spot, a stab wound that Radiguet sustained earlier while human size, with the wound not only not having healed, but grown in proportion when Radiguet became his giant monster form. With great difficulty, the Jetman defeat and kill Radiguet by having the Jet Garuda grabbing a hold on him long enough for Jet Icarus to impale him in the wound with the Birdonic Saber.
  • Ultra Series: This is sometimes done by Ultras who tend to be more of a Combat Pragmatist.
    • Ultraman 80 had Ultraman 80 fighting Zatan Silver, a powerful Cyborg monster whose body is layered with impenetrable armour. After repeatedly kicking the monster's side, Ultraman 80 managed to break away part of its armour, revealing Zatan Silver's internal circuitry, at which point 80 decides to unleash a freezing mist into the monster's damaged surface, damaging its circuits enough to eventually destroy it.
    • Ultraman Tiga: An episode had Tiga fighting the nigh-invulnerable Juggernaut kaiju, Fire Golza. After the monster shrugged off most of Tiga's attacks, Tiga decides to launch a concentrated, energized punch into Fire Golza's chest cavity, finally, finally penetrating the monster's thick hide. Tiga was then able to turn the battle around to his favour by repeatedly attacking the wounded spot and finally firing his Zeppelion Ray into Fire Golza's chest wound.
    • Ultraman Mebius: The Big Bad is Alien Empera, who is invincible and easily delivers one Curb-Stomp Battle to every single one of the good guys of the series... until Ultraman Hikari, Mebius' mentor, manage to land a lucky slash in Empera's side re-opening an old injury (inflicted by Father of Ultra with Ultimate Blade). In the final confrontation, Ultraman Mebius (in his Super Mode) and Zoffy can finally defeat Empera when they unleash their attacks on the now-visible injury on Empera's side.
    • Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends: The aformentioned Father of Ultra confronts Ultraman Belial, and has the upper hand for most of their fight, until Belial attacks his scars he got from fighting the aformentioned Alien Empera, turning the tide in the fight into his favor.
    • Ultraman X: Greeza, the Big Bad who is also The Assimilator and can absorb all attacks into its body, is finally wounded when Ultraman X, in a last-ditch attack, manage to stab Greeza's core, finally exposing its vilnerability. A few more attacks on Greeza's now-vulnerable core is what finally took down the monster for good.
    • Ultraman Orb: In the second episode, Orb fights the Demon Beast of Earth, Grand King, which deflects all of Orb's attacks single-handedly until Orb manage to deflect Grand King's energy beam back into itself, opening a hole in the otherwise indestructible monster's torso. Orb then focus his Spherion Ray into the monster's exposed interior which eventually destroys the monster.
  • The Walking Dead: Glenn and Nicholas's fight in the climax of Season 5 starts with the latter luring the former out into the woods and shooting him in the shoulder. When Glenn ambushes him later and turns the confrontation into a fist fight, Nicholas gets the upper hand over the fiercer fighter by grabbing onto Glenn's wounded shoulder. Fortunately, Nicholas also runs off when some zombies show up, and Glenn (after fighting off the zombies offscreen) catches up to him and ambushes Nicholas a second time, without giving him an opportunity to pull the same trick again.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • UWF: Discussed during an interview with Chris Adams shortly before he and Terry Taylor break up. Adams tells their opponents from a recent match that everyone knew Taylor's leg was injured, so they should have focused on his leg rather than the general brawling style that they had used. Taylor gets upset with this.
  • It's a common Heel tactic to go right for a taped-up injury or for a part someone's had problems with in the past.
  • This tactic is one of the most basic forms of Wrestling Psychology out there. If early in a match one of the wrestlers seem to be selling an injury, you can make a solid bet that their opponent exploiting that fact will play into a major spot or the finish. This is especially true for wrestlers who use submission moves as their finisher. Ric Flair would attack the knee to set up the figure four, Bret and Owen Hart focused on the legs and back for the sharpshooter.
  • One time in 2008, Shawn Michaels hit Chris Jericho with his finisher, Sweet Chin Music, a kick to the chin, then Jericho immediately had to face Umaga in a match. Umaga spent most of the match hitting and grabbing Jericho's chin, making him scream in agony. Jericho won the match, but walked to the back clutching his chin.
  • Invoked in the infamous 2022 Hell in a Cell match between Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins. Just a day before the match, Rhodes had suffered a legitimate and severe tear of his right pec the day before, but chose to continue with the match as planned despite the considerable pain. Rollins made the most out of it during the match by targeting it as often as possible, with the fact Cody's shoulder was visibly purple and looking like the result of a zombie bite made it both conveniently easier to see and horrifying to witness.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: This is the in-game explanation for Knight Commander Pask's increased ballistic ability: he looks for weak spots like repair seams and aims for them, even on alien tanks.

  • BIONICLE: Mata Nui defeats Tuma by striking at a back injury Tuma suffered before their battle, which supplementary materials reveal that it was from a Baterra attack.

    Video Games 
  • Altered Beast (2005): In the Final Boss fight, Luke is caught in the boss' big hands until his comrade/rival Brad slashes at the boss with his weretiger claws, leaving a huge gash that serves as the boss' weak point for the later part of the fight.
  • Deponia: towards the end of the third game, one of the two remaining Rufus clones has a gunshot wound. As the clone you play during this scene disagrees about pushing the switch of a car, you have to punch him in this wound in order to proceed. It's a case of Apologetic Attacker, but still very painful for the wounded clone.
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance pulls a plot-based one. When battling Demon General Bloodis, a stray shot from Seraphina hits him in the ribs, forcing the nigh-unbeatable general to retreat after a follow-up strike from Killia. When it's revealed that Bloodis is actually Goldion, Killia's mentor and father to the Big Bad, Void Dark, they decide to free him from his brainwashing with Killia and Zeroken performing a Double Avidya Holy Water. The first step in the plan is, after another lengthy battle, hitting his rib wound again to keep him from retreating long enough for the plan to go off.
  • Dwarf Fortress: This is recommended in Adventure mode, as even bruises are cumulative enough that repeated attacks upon the same spot will cause compounding damage. With enough repeated hits, the limb or body segment can be sliced, shattered or even outright pulped into uselessness, which compounded with the pain and bleeding will likely win you the fight. As the Kisat Dur manual says:
    An ineffective strike dissuades novice practitioners. This need not be so. Focusing on an area of attack has compounding effect. Muscle and bone are imperfect and enough impact will cause them to yield.
  • God of War 3: During his spectacular battle with Cronos, Kratos has to slash a pimple on the big fella's arm, rip off his usured fingernail and hit a wound opened by an undead cyclops.
  • The Legendary Starfy: King Ping's weak spot for the first half of his boss fight is a bandaged lump on his belly.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: When Ganondorf turns into his beast form, the scar from when he ripped the Sages' sword from his body is not only still there but much bigger. But as it's on his underside, you have to toss him aside first. Link also finushes off Ganondorf in his human form by impaling him in that same wound.
  • Monster Hunter: World: The Clutch Claw mechanic introduced in Iceborne allows players to grapple onto a monster and "wound" the grappled body part. The wound will take increased damage and won't deflect blows, even if the body part is normally hard enough to do so.
  • Rimworld: Body parts have individual hit points and the more injured a body part is, the more pain it causes. Cumulative injuries can easily destroy a body part (and everything connected to it). Additionally, scars reduce a body part's hit point maximum making those body parts easier to destroy.
  • Splatoon: Most bosses have their weak point indicated by an X-shaped scar with a Sickly Green Glow.
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version One): Attempting to grab Carson Moss in the bonus mission will cause him to manage to resist Fisher by sheer strength, until Sam knees him in his knee that was injured from playing football in high school. This causes Moss to fall from the pain and gives Sam an opening to snap his neck.
  • Star Fox Adventures: During the Galdon boss battle, after Fox gets Eaten Alive and makes Galdon spit him up by attacking the Spellstone in his stomach, Galdon gets a slit on his throat. Whenever his wound opens wide when he starts breathing in for his fire breath attack it can be blasted with fire from Fox's staff.
  • The Walking Dead: Season Four: In episode three, Clementine stabs Lily in the leg with a knife during their struggle, and kicks the handle while it's still embedded in her thigh.
  • Watch_Dogs: When Aidan sees Damien shortly after the start of the game, Aidan immediately takes a cheap shot at the brace on Damien's leg. Sure enough, Damien is dropped to the ground in pain.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Geralt has the option of attacking Dijkstra's injured leg, which he had previously caused in the books.
  • The Wolf Among Us:
    • In Bigby's fight with Gren, during the first episode, Bigby focuses some of his attacks on Gren's previously injured right arm.
    • During the fight at the Jersey Devil's pawn shop in episode 4, Jersey claws at the bandaged part of Bigby's arm.

    Web Animation 
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: In the climax of "The Future", Mystery and Shiromori go at each other, injuring them both. When Vivi realizes just how Mystery injured her — tearing off part of her back, exposing her heart — she pulls herself up and goes in swinging, separating Shiromori from her heart; without it, she falls apart and dies.

  • Girl Genius: Zola keeps striking at the stab wound she gave Higgs earlier in their fight as the fight progresses and he catches back up to her in a different room.
  • Unsounded:
    • Ephsephin gets his cheek cut while fighting Duane. When he attacks Sette days later she slashes him across the same poorly healing cheek and then bites it when he tries swinging her by her tail.
    • Toma's arm is injured when a ceiling collapses on him in the tunnels of Ethelmik. When he's captured later Hetr tortures him by continuing to injure it, leaving it as a compound fracture with the bone sticking visibly out of his arm.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula utilizes this tactic when planning her strategy for a friendly game of volleyball. She recognizes from the way a member of the other team moves that the girl must have suffered an injury in the past, and looks to exploit it. See the page quote.
  • Justice League: During his fight with Wonder Woman in "Another Shore", Devil Ray squeezes the shoulder where he shot her with a poison stringer earlier in the episode. It doesn't do much to slow her down, but she does let out a very pained sounding scream.
  • ReBoot: In season 3, Megabyte holds Matrix at his mercy and is about to stab his wrist blades on his face. Matrix then savagely punch Megabyte's wounds the virus has received earlier, causing him to lose his grip on Matrix.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In the final season, Netossa is revealed to be a Crazy-Prepared strategist with plans for how to defeat most members of the Princess Alliance, which comes in handy since at that point in time most of them have been implanted with a brain washing chip from Horde Prime. Her plan for defeating Spinerella is to take advantage of an old ankle injury by repeatedly attacking it until Spinerella's ankle gives way under the assault. Combined with the emotional pleas that Netossa makes throughout the fight, it works.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Revival", Obi-Wan resorts to this after being cornered by both Darth Maul and Savage Opress at the same time. Jedi master Adi Gallia attacks a weak point on one of Savage Opress' knees, seeking to dislocate it. Savage no-sells the attack, apparently, and Master Gallia is killed. Seeing that Savage's knee was already injured, Obi-Wan continually kicks at it during the gaps in their offensive until Savage's knee breaks and Obi-Wan then cuts off his arm, allowing Obi-Wan to retreat as Maul tends to his brother.


Video Example(s):


Squeezing the knife wound

Hayama punches Ota after the latter knifes his leg and squeezes it with his hand while being punched.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / AttackTheInjury

Media sources: