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Attack the Tail

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Goku: You punched me in the face!
Freeza: You bit my tail!
Goku: You punched me in the face.

Attacking the tail for extra damage. Common in cartoons, especially for cats.

In video games, cutting off a creature's tail, especially a dragon's tail, often rewards you with a bonus weapon or crafting materials. In some cases however, you have to hit a creature's tail in order to damage it.

Typically a form of Amusing Injuries. Compare Aim for the Horn, Groin Attack, Literal Ass-Kicking, Pain to the Ass. See also In the Back, for a more general form of attacking a creature from behind.

Not to be confused with attacking with tails.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Beastars, Legosi closes a sliding door on his tail while excusing himself from Haru's gardening shed after the rabbit tried to seduce him. He was completely shocked by the act, something that was second nature to Haru.
  • In Blue Exorcist, it's stated that the tail and the "heart" are a demon's weak spots.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In Dragon Ball Z, the Saiyans' tails are their weak point. If you hold onto their tails, they are in so much pain it immobilizes them (e.g., Goku, Gohan, and Raditz). Subverted later, when it turns out that Vegeta and Nappa don't have this shortcoming (because of their training). When the Z Fighters made a break for their tails, it ended up backfiring because it didn't immobilize the Saiyans like they expected, leaving them open targets. Played straight later, though, when Yajirobe cuts off Vegeta's tail to return him to human form after he'd transformed into his Great Ape form.
    • Goku managed to overcome this weakness in Dragon Ball, long before Vegeta was introduced. It's odd how Krillin didn't remember this when he faced them, though it's possible it's simply one of the things Akira 'forgot' as he wrote the beginning of DBZ.
    • In a more amusing case, when Gohan was left in the wilderness to fend for himself he was occasionally hunted by a tyrannosaur, which he managed to fend off by removing the end of its tail. After he had taken a few levels in badass, he turned the tables (or the tails) by chasing the poor dinosaur and cutting steaks off its tail for his dinner.
    • Krillin cuts off Frieza's tail with a Destructo Disc when he is about to kill Gohan.
    • Goku does this by biting Frieza's tail during their fight on Namek, and he does the same thing to Beerus's tail in Dragon Ball Super.
    • Also in Dragon Ball Super, the end of Frieza's tail is cut off by a stray attack during the final fight against Jiren.
  • Mazinger Z: In the Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness feature (that served to conclude the first series and introduce the sequel, Great Mazinger), a serpent-like Robeast had one head on each end. The tinier head, located on the tip of the tail, was the REAL head (Mykene Warbeasts were controlled by grafting the head of a Mykene warrior into a Robeast), so when Kouji cut its tail off, the Warbeast lost control and it was destroyed.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: In the Compilation Movie, Adiane is beating up Yoko with her scorpion tail in their Designated Girl Fight, until Yoko uses her hairpins to stab Adiane's tail, pinning it into the floor.
  • Snakeman in Yaiba has a major weakness in his tail: when Yaiba (accidentally) chops it, Snakeman's unable to keep his balance and stand upright and is forced to withdraw. The next time he appears, he has tied a bush branch on the stump, though he feels that "He's not going to look so threatening anymore..."
  • Tail Star: This is literally the only way to fight the Queen and her Knights; they each have a supernatural tail grafted to the back of their head, giving them divine powers, but also serves as their weak point; slicing off the tail usually results in death or insanity.
  • The☆Ultraman has a mechanical serpentine kaiju called Dragodos, whose tail ends in a buzzsaw, which it uses to rough up Ultraman Joneus in the penultimate battle. It almost works, but the Science Guard Party gives Joneus some much-needed assistance by firing a laser and severing the tail.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 98, Sparky sees Wolffy approaching Tibbie to hurt her and bites the wolf on his tail to divert his attention. Wolffy, unsurprisingly, isn't amused.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: The Rat Creatures are born with long, hairless tails, but have them cut off at birth due to a silly superstition about a monster who would drag them off by their tails in their sleep. In the past, Big Johnson Bone was this "monster", who took down hundreds of Rat Creatures by swinging them around by their tails.
  • Gaston Lagaffe is once hurt by someone stepping on the tail of a kangaroo costume he is wearing. There is no official explanation, but a character speculates that the seamstress forgot a needle in an unfortunate place when sewing the tail on.
  • In My Little Pony: Legends of Magic, Rockhoof retreats from battling a cherufe. As he runs, the cherufe throws molten lava at his tail which singes it.
  • In Violine, Violine's pet mouse, Klaas, gets his tail cut by the claws of Muller.

    Comic Strips 
  • In an earlier Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin freaks Hobbes out by saying there's a giant caterpillar about to bite him before stomping on his tail. Hobbes is not amused.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys (2022): Mr. Snake has to use his tail to manipulate objects, such as when reaching into Officer Luggins' briefcase at the charity gala to get the passcode to the vault where the Golden Dolphin is being kept. The caper is nearly thwarted when Luggins unknowingly shuts the suitcase on his tail, and it isn't until Mr. Piranha starts improvising a song to distract her that he manages to free himself.
  • Cats Don't Dance: Early on the film, Danny accidentally slams the door against Sawyer's tail.
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Hiccup discovers that damaging the tail fin of a Night Fury reduces its stability so badly that it's practically unable to fly. This sets up Toothless as the Androcles' Lion for Hiccup to tame and befriend.
  • Cinderella: When Lucifer traps Gus underneath a cup to keep him from freeing Cinderella, Jaq tries to save him by biting the cat's tail.
  • The Jungle Book (1967): Mowgli defeats Shere Khan by tying a tree branch to his tail; the branch in question caught fire after being hit by lightning, and the tiger is afraid of fire. Unfortunately, it's revealed in the sequel that this was actually a bad idea, and Mowgli learned it the hard way. Similarly, Kaa is often defeated by having his tail being tied to a tree trunk.
  • Kung Fu Panda: During the final battle, Tai Lung is tricked into biting his own tail, causing the giant anthropomorphic snow leopard voiced by Ian McShane to make a comedic kittenish "Mew!" which would be familiar to any cat owner who has trodden on his pet's tail.
  • The Nutcracker Prince: During the Story Within a Story, the Mouse King's tail gets smashed by a collapsing pillar, which was knocked down by a transformed Hans. This later becomes a Running Gag in the film's actual events, in which his bent tail either gets burnt or crushed again.
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Joanna, Percival McLeach's pet goanna, is tricked into biting her own tail at one point in the film.
  • The Sword in the Stone: During the Wizard Duel, Merlin tricks Madam Mim (who is turned into a rattlesnake) into biting her own tail (Merlin, as a mouse, actually attempts to try it himself while Mim is a tiger).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien vs. Predator have this happening to the alien when the titular event finally happens, courtesy of a Predator's arm-blades. Unfortunately, the alien has acidic blood where it then uses it's severed, acid-dripping tail as an impromptu hose to melt the Predator's armor.
  • Pacific Rim: Otachi, the second kaiju defeated in the Hong Kong battle, had her tail frozen solid and shattered by Gipsy Danger near the end of her fight.
  • In Spaceballs, Barf the human/dog hybrid gets his tail caught in the prison cell door when rescuing Princess Vespa.

  • The first time the protagonists of The Belgariad encounter the dragon (there's only one, long story) they scare it away by damaging its tail, which is effective because it's never encountered anything that could injure it before.
  • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin: In this tale about a tail, Squirrel Nutkin has his tail bitten off by Mr. Brown, the owl.
  • Whateley Universe: A common tactic against people with tails. Imp's Berserk Button is having her tail pulled, and it's been cut off a few times, which hurts a lot. Likely also related to how it's a spot that also has Fantastic Arousal.
  • Dragons in Wings of Fire have a weak point on their tails, which several characters take advantage of during battles.
  • In Warrior Cats, cats seem to bite each other's tails in battle often. Kits also often practice pouncing on the tail of an unsuspecting older cat.
  • In The Witches, when the hero is turned into a mouse and carries out his mission in the kitchen, a cook slices off the end of his tail when he is using it to move about.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 90s TVB-adaptation of Journey to the West (1996) have Wukong born in the pilot episode, firstly as a rampaging giant monster until his tail is severed by the heaven's Marshal Heavenly Mugwort turning Wukong back to a child-like, ape-form. In the sequel series, Journey to the West 2, the first story arc introduces the Six Eared Macaque, another monkey demon similar to Wukong, who starts off as a rampaging monster as well whose weakness is his tail (which reduces him to a juvenile monkey form once it's severed).
  • The TVB fantasy-drama, Whatever it Takes have it's main villain being a powerful lizard demon masquerading as a human, whose One-Winged Angel form, a gargantuan lizard monster, have it's main weakness being the tail, which was severed by the hero Long-Gei in the final episode and finally destroying it. In an interesting twist, Lung-Gei's actor Benny Chan also played Wukong in Journey to the West above (Casting Gag?).
  • The Ultra Series loves this trope. If a monster has a tail which it uses for executing a Tail Slap, chances are that it will be severed after a lengthy battle against the Ultra.
    • Gomora from Ultraman is dishing out a Curb-Stomp Battle on Ultraman, until the SSP blasts its tail off, allowing Ultraman to turn the battle around.
    • King Crab from Ultraman Ace has its entire tail shredded by Ace's energy drill, which flies all over the place in chunks.
    • Neosauraus from Ultraman Dyna, whose energy blasts can home in on targets, have his tail grabbed by Dyna and used as an impromptu shield, where the monster's beam ends up severing its own tail.
    • The resurrected Gomora in Ultraman Max get its tail sliced off by the Max Slugger, in a Call-Back to the first Gomora. Said tail gains a life on its own however and blocks Max's Finishing Move on Gomora necessitating Max to try another strategy.
    • Maga-orochi from Ultraman Orb had its tail grabbed by Orb (in Thunder Breaster Form) and forcefully sliced off. Becomes a Chekhov's Gun later when the severed tail gets collected by Juggler into creating a new monster, Zeppandon.
    • Segmeger from Ultraman Taiga, while battling Ultraman Titas, have its tail forcefully pulled off.
    • Ultraman Decker brought back yet another Gomora, and for the third time this one have it's tail severed by GUTS-Select during it's rampage. However, nearby Spheres immediately assimilates the weakened Gomora and turns it into a new monster called Sphere Gomora, as well as regenerating the broken tail.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In one episode of Dinosaurs, Baby notices something small and pink moving nearby, and stabs it with a fork. His moment of triumph is interrupted by the arrival of pain signals from his tail.

    Video Games 
  • Action Man: Destruction X have a boss battle against a T. rex which is being controlled by the villain, Dr. X, via a beacon attached to its tail. The T-Rex itself is invulnerable to all your attacks, and the only way you can hurt it is by shooting its tail enough times to disable the beacon.
  • Dark Souls: This is a way to get cool weapons (normally axes and swords). If you're fighting any giant boss or miniboss with a tail (usually a dragon), you can almost always cut it off and get a special weapon out of it. It also greatly reduces the range of their Tail Slap attack if they have one (which they usually do).
  • Hey! Pikmin: The Armurk's indestructible shell doesn't cover its tail, acting as its weak spot.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West both have a surprising number of machines that have tails you can target, with the tail either serving as a weapon that can be removed or having resource canisters that can also be removed. In both instances, this causes extra damage to the machine and if the tail or tail component is removed rather than destroyed it can be harvested for resources. In the case of machines with tail-weapons it typically removes a powerful melee or sometimes ranged attack from the machine.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Moldorm in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, and A Link Between Worlds has a weak point (usually shaped like a flower or a bulb) in its tail.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • Dodongos have to be attacked from the tail, since the rest of their bodies is too enduring to take damage from the sword.
      • Tailpasarans, a bobbit worm-like enemy found in Jabu-Jabu's Belly. Its Enemy Scan mentions that the tail is its weak point, but it's best to attack it from a distance, such as with the Boomerang, since doing so on contact will deal damage to Link in return. However, the Spin Attack is the only sword technique that can defeat a Tailpasaran without dealing damage to Link.
      • The wolfos, humanoid wolf-like creatures, can be attacked in other ways, but an attack in the tail kills them instantly. They even cover their tails with their hands if you aren't quick about it.
      • In order to defeat Ganon, Link must strike at its tail in order to weaken it enough to reach its head for the finishing blow. Ganon can turn quickly to hide its tail, so Link must stun it using various means, or just roll under its legs.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
      • Dodongos return in this game, and they have to be attacked from the tail.
      • Twinmold are two giant centipedes whose only weak points are the head and the tail.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons: Syger (a rolling tiger), the Mini-Boss of the fifth dungeon, Unicorn's Cave, has to be hit in the globe at the end of its tail to be damaged.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: All three forms of Puppet Ganon share one weakness; a glowing blue ball on the tail that can be struck by Light Arrows.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Like in the Nintendo 64 games, Dodongos can only be killed if Link attacks their tails or throws a bomb at them, though this time you're also given the option of shooting an arrow into their mouth. Likewise, the tail is also the weak point for Darkhammer, a heavily-armored Lizalfos and the Mini-Boss of Snowpeak Ruins guarding the Ball and Chain; doing so with Mortal Draw or Jump Strike will kill it in one hit.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Queenbee's weak point is her abdomen, which is typically protected by her beehive armory above her stinger.
  • Metroid: Other M: Ridley's Clone has the tip of his tail as a weak point, ironic considering his tail is invulnerable compared to the original.
  • Monster Hunter: One of the penultimate tactics in the games against any big monster with a tail is to attack the tail enough that it gets cut off/cracked/broken, among other parts of their body. Doing so rewards you with more rare items and creates more openings in the monster's defenses (like their tail attack's range get shorter, or they flinch more when an attack hits their tail stump.)
  • Onimusha: Warlords: Fortinbras is normally invulnerable, forcing you to hack at his serpentine, coiled tail. After a certain amount of damage is dealt, Fortinbras will roar in pain and fall forward, allowing you to attack the boss' weakpoint, the eye on his head.
  • Oriental Legend has an Attack of the Monster Appendage fight where you're repeatedly assaulted by a giant tail of an unseen monster, who keeps pulling a Tail Slap on you until you sever it.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse has the Steel Maggot, a large, mechanical boss that is completely impervious to damage, save for a weak point that pops out of its tail after meeting certain conditions.
  • Splatoon: In Salmon Run mode, this is the key to defeating three types of Boss Salmonids that players will encounter:
    • Grillers are heavily armored vehicles that have a single fish tail poking out of their back. If it's shot enough, it'll be stunned and more tails will appear, and once these weak points have sustained enough damage, the machine will be destroyed.
    • Scrappers are light vehicles decked in frontal armor, but are completely exposed from the back. If the shields take enough fire, it will be completely immobilized for several seconds, at which point players can head to the back of the craft and kill its exposed driver.
    • Steel Eels function as long, winding, moving barriers, and can splat a player in just two hits. While almost the entire craft is completely impervious to any damage, the weak point on the machine is its driver at the very back end, and if they are killed, the rest of the contraption will be demolished.
  • Star Fox:
    • Star Fox: The tail was one of two ways to damage Monarch Dodora, the other being its two heads. Just shooting it doesn't do damage, though, you needed to make them retract into its body, then shoot the body.
    • Star Fox Adventures: During the start of its battle, Galdon is only vulnerable at his red-glowing tail.
    • Star Fox: Assault: Hitting a character's head or tail does additional damage. Especially Fox and Krystal are vulnerable to tail hits.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario 64: Bowser is defeated by being grabbed by the tail and being thrown across the arena into the bombs surrounding it.
    • Paper Mario 64: Kent C. Koopa, the optional miniboss of Pleasant Path who shows up after clearing Chapter 5, has a defense of 6, which makes him pretty much impenetrable, but his tail is his weakest point. You just need to flip him on his back and keep him asleep long enough to keep attacking it.
    • Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel have the Dino Piranhas (both the regular and the Fiery) and Peewee Piranha, bosses that Mario can defeat only by attacking the bulb at the end of their tails, knocking it up to strike their head. Moreover, in the first game, during the Bowser fights, you have to let Bowser try to crush you on the blue glass, where he ends up burning his tail after breaking it and exposing the lava, at which point Mario has to attack Bowser's tail while it is on fire to damage him.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King: The Earth Vellumental can only be harmed by striking its exposed extremities, but is particularly vulnerable to blows against its weak, tender tail.
  • Terraria: The Crawltipedes can only be damaged in the glowing spot in their tail.

  • Unsounded: Ephsephin grabs Sette by the tail and swings her around by it. She only get out of the encounter with her life and without being enslaved because Duane shows up to save her.

    Web Videos 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: Danny Phantom does this to Jake Long shortly after they both transform, with him flinging Jake against the floor and a diving stomp onto said tail.
  • Final Fighter A+ a flash parody of Final Fantasy has a disgruntled teacher create Bahamut out of a xerox machine as the final exam for a group of school students who refused to fail the class. The White Mage's Study Guido (scan) reveals that its Multiple Choose section (its tail) is its weak point. The Fighter, Pensuke, attacks its tail with his pencil (sword) chopping of the tip, only to reveal the weak point has defenses and he looses Grade Percent (HP). It takes 3 more guesses (attacks) at the multiple choice section (tail), dropping his grade (HP) into the negative, before he gets the right answer and Bahamut blows up violently, taking the school with him.

    Western Animation 
  • Around the World with Willy Fog: Pretty much the only indication that the characters are anthropomorphic animals is having their tails become the targets for attacks:
    • In their first fight, Transfer wraps a whip around Rigodon's tail and drags him across the roof of the coach which Transfer has hijacked.
    • After a "ghost" he encounters in Egypt is revealed to be Transfer, Tico leaps at him and bites his leg several times, before biting him one last time on his tail.
    • In Bombay, a snake-charmer's cobra latches onto Tico's tail when he turns his back on the snake. Fortunately, the cobra lost its teeth ten years earlier and Tico is unharmed.
    • Also in Bombay, Dix and Bully arrest Transfer while he is disguised as Fog, believing him to be the genuine article. When Transfer escapes through a window, he tears off his false tail. The local police commissioner comments that "he must be in great pain" and hands the tail to Dix, who quickly discovers that it is fake.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers has an episode in which Monty's tail repeatedly gets caught in things, causing it to become more and more kinked as the episode goes on. Eventually, Monty can take it no more and flies into a rage.
  • Usually left alone 99% of the time, occasionally Code Lyoko's Odd's tail will get hit by a monster's laser on Lyoko. In "Is Anybody out There?", a Tarantula gets Odd right on the tip, causing him to freeze up and moan in pain for several seconds. Soon the flashing tip goes out on its own.
  • This frequently happens to Mr. Cat from Kaeloo. In one case, he actually gets a bookshelf dropped on it.
  • Near the end, Kitbull has the kitten pounce on and repeatedly bite the pit bull's tail. He manages to get it out of her mouth and playfully Dope Slap her on the head with it to get her to stop it.
  • Once played with in a Magilla Gorilla cartoon. Magilla tries this on a bird and the bird thinks it won't work, but Magilla drops an entire bag of salt on the bird.
  • In the third act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus In Wilderland", Brattus rides on a water snake who tries to get him. Before the water snake can get Brattus, Bogus swings in and saves him, which results in the water snake biting his own tail instead.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Rarity does it to herself in the second episode, cutting off her tail to set it in place of the half of Steven Magnet's mustache that Nightmare Moon tore off, as a demonstration of her generosity.
    • In A Dog and Pony Show, Spike drills Spot's tail with his own, drawing blood.
    • In Green Isn't Your Color, overjoyed that Photo Finish seemingly wanted her to be her star, Rarity flips out (despite stating in the previous episode that ladies do not do so) and jumps up and down, accidentally stomping on Spike's tail repeatedly. While clearly painful for Spike, all he can think about is how much he loves Rarity.
    • In The Last Roundup, Derpy accidentally strikes Rainbow Dash's tail with lightning.
    • Subverted in many instances where the ponies bite each other's tails (most notably Applejack biting Rainbow Dash's tail a total of nine times in the series), given that this does not cause pain, nor is their intent to do so, but usually this is a method of pulling or holding each other back (in one case, in the second episode, Fluttershy bites Rarity's tail to save her from falling off a cliff, and Rainbow Dash does the same to Twilight the same episode, and Applejack to Pinkie in another). There is an aggressive moment, when Chrysalis bites Starlight's tail to throw her, but even then it is unlikely that Starlight's tail felt any pain.
  • Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja: Randy does this twice in "Viva El Nomicon" to destroy two monsters. However, the second time played straight into Viceroy's hands as Randy was fighting a Mexican Death Bear.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Lair of Grievous" Nahdar Vebb cuts off Grievous' pet roggwart's tail in order to free his clone commander who is trapped in the claw at the end of it. It is too late however as the commander had already been bashed to death by the beast.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    • In "Showdown", Splinter defeats Xever/Fishface by duping him into chomping on his own tail.
    • In "Tale of Tiger Claw", it is revealed that Tiger Claw had his tail cut off by his sister Alopex who wears it around her waist like a belt.
  • In Tom and Jerry, there's hardly an episode where a tail isn't crushed, burned, severed, or hurt in any other way. Tom is the usual victim. The short "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse" provides the page image, where Jerry sticks Tom's tail in a waffle iron, and then burns it, causing it to turn into a waffle.
  • There is the tale of salting a bird's tail so that it doesn't fly away. It has been Played With in many cartoons, such as the first Woody Woodpecker cartoon.

    Real Life 
  • Crows are known to employ this trick when confronting other animals in an effort to steal their food, by grabbing hold of their tail and pulling on it to make them turn around and away from the food, often in conjunction with another crow swooping in behind the one pulling the distraction. This trick is also used by crows simply for fun, as they'll yank the tails of squirrels, then jump back so they're just out of reach of the angry rodent.
    • This hooded crow takes the technique to a whole new level, as it tricks two cats into engaging in a full-scale fight, then follows them to watch in amusement!
  • A Prince Rupert's Drop is a drop of glass with a bulbous "head" end and a wispy "tail" end formed by dropping molten glass into cold water. The "head" is incredibly durable, withstanding compressive forces of up to 15000 Newtons. The "tail" on the other hand is easily cut off and will cause the entire drop to disintegrate thanks to a chain reaction of bifurcation events.
  • Cats will often do this when play-fighting, often with one cat flicking its tail around and another swatting at it. Particularly common with kittens. And, much like dogs, they aren't above chasing their own tails.
  • Lizards have detachable tails to help them escape predators.
  • Zookeepers safely collect blood samples from un-tranquilized big cats or large monitor lizards by coaxing them into lying down with their tails - their only appendage that isn't equipped with dangerous claws - protruding through the gap under a holding cell's bars. Distracted by proffered food at its head end, the animal barely notices the needle-stick at its tail end.


Video Example(s):


The Cat in the Hat

During his demonstration of the Kupkake-inator, Chef Cat eventually gets fed up with Host Cat's witty banter and severs what he thinks is the latter's tail. He doesn't realize what he just did until he picks up both halves of his severed appendage.

How well does it match the trope?

4.3 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / CurseCutShort

Media sources: