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"I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
Attributed to Naval Marshal General Isoroku Yamamoto, after the attack on Pearl Harbor

Everyone knows about the Big Good and Big Bad, but what about the Even Bigger Neutral?

In most conflicts, there are a variety of neutral parties. From the Precursors to the Retired Badass to the King in the Mountain to the Hidden Elf Village, they always exist, and there's usually one that can flatten both the other sides at the same time, using only a kitchen whisk and a sheet of tissue paper. But don't bother asking them for help, because they will refuse to get involved.

That is, unless someone does something stupid or evil enough to repulse them. Whether it was the heroes or the villains, anyone who steps over some inexcusable line will invite their wrath, and this isn't the regular Neutral No Longer give-the-other-side-some-reinforcements wrath... this is "we have an army of Cthulhu clones" wrath. Expect an Oh, Crap! from the receiving end if and when the former neutrals start whipping out the doomsday weapons. On the other hand, for the beleaguered side not subject to the proverbial giant's wrath, this is a moment of celebration as they gain a powerful ally and they will fight alone no more.

There are two key points to look for before and after this trope comes into play.

  • Before: There is an established conflict, of any sort, between any number of parties, with a prominent neutral party that wishes to remain uninvolved.
  • After: When the neutral party enters the conflict, it drastically alters the balance of power.

If the entity is an individual, then they won the Superpower Lottery, and it's likely they are a Martial Pacifist or that they don't see the conflict as something they need or want to get involved in. Sometimes an individual may be involved in the conflict but sees no reason go all out to resolve it. This trope can often cross over with Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass if the character is extremely powerful but doesn't showcase their abilities unless the bad guy(s) set them off. Compare Sealed Badass in a Can, if the "sleeping" is in the character of an involuntary confinement and someone breaks the prison. If the neutral party is actually smaller than the two fighting powers, but still enough to alter the balance of power greatly, this overlaps with Kingmaker Scenario.

A Sub-Trope of Neutral No Longer and related to Heroic Neutral. May serve as a Deus ex Machina and/or Story-Breaker Power (and/or Game-Breaker, if the work is a game) if the giant was an All-Powerful Bystander. Compare Bullying a Dragon and Default to Good.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • The Flying Pussyfoot arc of Baccano!! would already have been a clusterfuck: A cult, a bunch of Ax-Crazy mafia goons, and a gang of delinquents were all planning to attack the train, which also happened to be carrying three immortals, the wife and daughter of an influential senator, and a surprisingly badass agent of The Daily Days. However, one of those mafia guys made a huge mistake: he killed the elderly conductor Tony, then tried to kill a younger conductor when he found out. Unfortunately for him, his would-be victim was Claire Stanfield, a nigh-unstoppable, Ax-Crazy, Crazy Awesome Professional Killer and Torture Technician who did not appreciate someone murdering his mentor. Carnage ensues as the Rail Tracer makes its merry, blood-soaked way up the length of the train.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Durandal attempts to kill the retired Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne so they don't get in the way of his plans. This alerts them to his evil intentions several months before anyone else on earth suspected a thing, causing them to take the Freedom, Archangel and Eternal out of storage, which all become instrumental in his defeat.
    • As a matter of fact, near the end of the series Kira himself says "If not for that attack, we probably would have gone along with anything Durandal wanted."
  • This was Celestial Being's plan to achieve world peace in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. If a large scale military conflict ever erupted, they would show up and decimate both sides. The idea is to discourage war by ensuring that everyone loses, and then to bring unity by becoming the common enemy of all military powers.
  • In One Piece, we learn that the second half of the Grand Line, called the New World, is controlled by four pirates of immense power. These four are known as the Yonkou, or Four Emperors, and that giving one of them grief is basically an act of suicide. following the Time Skip, the Worst Generation, made up of the super-rookie pirate crews that were on Sabaody the same time the Straw Hats were, is making waves by doing just that.
    • Whitebeard, The World's Strongest Man and former equal of the Pirate King Gold Roger, is acknowledged in-universe as a Cool Old Guy who just wants to chill on his ships. But when the World Government announces their intention to publicly execute one of his men, the world panics because Whitebeard is A Father to His Men, and that the Government has basically declared war on a man who can create earthquakes at will, with an armada of powerful pirate crews at his beck and call.
    • Red-Hair Shanks, Luffy's idol, appears at the Paramount War and declares that unless everyone stops fighting, he'll take them on, everyone drops what they're doing and the most epic conflict of the series ends not on a bang, but a whimper.
    • Caesar Clown tries to invoke this when Luffy's about to beat him, saying that attacking the scientist means bringing down the wrath of his Man Behind the Man, Donquixote Doflamingo, and by extension, Kaido, another Yonkou. After the Straw Hats succeed in bringing down Doflamingo's weapons running and Fake Devil Fruit factory, Kaidou becomes roaring mad and roaring for revenge.
    • In Totland, if anyone defeats one of Big Mom's Sweet Commanders, Big Mom's retribution is to unleash all of her forces on the perpetrator. Later on, Brook succeeds in getting into the treasure room. Big Mom is so infuriated that she personally shows up to get him.
  • At the end of Princess Mononoke, Lady Eboshi decapitates the Shishigami, which nearly causes the destruction of the entire forest and nearby town.
  • Done twice in Fairy Tail, by the same person, in the same story arc, and pretty much at the same time. While attempting to simultaneously capture Zeref and annihilate Fairy Tail, Grimoire Heart, and specifically their leader Hades, manage to piss Zeref off to the point where he stops doing his best to avoid all life forms and proceeds to track Hades down with the intent to kill him. It's then revealed that Hades has also managed to draw the attention of Acnologia, a murder happy dragon capable of destroying continents.
  • Kyon of Haruhi Suzumiya plans to invoke this if Nagato's alien boss tries to harm her. Haruhi, everyone's favorite obnoxious Reality Warper, doesn't even know there is a conflict. But in Disappearance, Kyon determines a way to convince her aliens exist, and there's little doubt that she would effortlessly annihilate them if she knew they were after one of her clubmembers. This comes dangerously close to happening in a later novel.
  • After the tournament in Mahou Sensei Negima!, Cosmo Entelechia attacks the Governor's Ball where Negi is currently negotiating with the apparently villainous Kurt Godel, a third party with power on par with Negi or Fate. Jack Rakan, Negi's current teacher who has so far refused to become involved, is also attacked. As a result, both parties become hostile to Cosmo Entelechia since they didn't like them anyway though Jack Rakan is quickly eliminated and Kurt Godel already opposed them. What makes it even sillier is that there was no actual benefit to attacking like this: Cosmo Entelechia's goals did not require them to fight anyone at this point since they already had all the keys they needed to enact the Rewrite ritual to "destroy" the Magic World. Negi's group didn't even know that Asuna was gone!
  • While not so much neutral as extremely lazy, Saitama of One-Punch Man is shown as largely uninterested in finer points of heroism, finding it to be more of a casual hobby than a career. If he doesn't want to go out in search of heroics to perform, he won't do it. Anyone who does finally get his attention, however, tend to get obliterated. Just ask Boros or the Sea King. Or what's left of them, anyway.
  • In K, the first season's plot is the Green King's attempt to bring the immortal Silver King into the conflict after he has been an All-Powerful Bystander in his blimp for decades. This plan is kicked off with the Colorless King's murder of Tatara Totsuka... on the night of December 7th. The Silver King ends up uniting the Red and Blue clans in an alliance against the Green Clan and defeating them.

     Comic Books 
  • In the 1960s X-Men comics, this happened to Magneto when he tried to recruit the Stranger via intimidation.
  • In the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Darkseid is somewhat of a example of this.

     Fanfiction 
  • Moloch from Aeon Natum Engel fits the trope, and it didn't end well for anybody, Moloch included.
  • In Renegade, the Batarian Hegemony did this to the Global Defense Initiative by continuously supporting pirate and slaver raids into GDI territory in an effort to impede their colonization efforts. GDI expressed their disapproval quite violently. In addition, Word of God is that the Scrin are apparently trying to avoid doing this to the Reapers.
    • GDI is outright called "An Awakened Giant" after the Turians woke GDI when they attacked Shanxi. Of course, the Giant was never really sleeping as much as unaware there were other aliens besides the Scrin, given that they have MARVs in fringe colonies.
  • In Child of the Storm, there are several examples of this:
    • HYDRA and Lucius Malfoy unwittingly did this when they let Gravemoss slaughter MI6 and decapitated MI13 - all it achieved was to leave the young, ambitious, and utterly ruthless Peter Wisdom in command of MI13 and in prime position to take control of, essentially, Britain's entire counter-intelligence apparatus and military response to HYDRA's threat. The result is a much leaner, more up to date, and more effective counter to HYDRA that plays a key role in its downfall, and as of the sequel, controls most of supernatural Britain, having the diminished Ministry largely at its mercy.
    • HYDRA doing this again towards the finale proves to be key to their downfall. With careful preparation, they manage to divide and conquer the Avengers (the Avengers plus a Reformed, but Not Tamed Loki), picking them off one by one, with only Clint and Natasha escaping.
    • The Avengers in general are increasingly recognised as this as time goes by - each is minimally a One-Man Army, with Thor clocking in at Physical God power levels, being backed by the Stark fortune they have vast resources, and they're led by a brilliant battlefield commander. Plus, if you do manage to take them down, as HYDRA briefly do, there's an increasingly large and powerful superhuman community of their friends and relations that will take this very badly. And as the series repeatedly demonstrates, they take attacks to themselves or their friends and family extremely personally. For instance, in the sequel, Loki's response to the resurrected Red Room - which is an effective peer of resident super-spy juggernaut SHIELD - kidnapping Harry and Carol, torturing the former and turning him into the Red Son, the sequel to the Winter Soldier is to quietly and methodically kill his way through the entire organisation.
    • Asgard normally stays out of Earth politics, and indeed, politics of the mortal universe at large. However, this trope is the reason that its status as the universe's chief superpower is largely undisputed and most people leave Earth alone (Thanos excepted - and he's on Odin's hit-list), is because when something happens that sufficiently pisses them off (like trespassing on Earth or screwing with humanity), they will not so much step in as step on. For examples, see what they did to the Dheronians after they served as Thanos' pawns in destroying Krypton, those Kree briefly responsible for restarting the Terrigenesis experiments on Earth, and the Red Room after they kidnapped Harry, who, it is to be remembered, is Thor's son and thus a Prince in direct line to the throne. The answers are, respectively, near genocide, demanding the heads of those responsible and receiving them with grovelling apologies, and something that would have fit quite nicely in the Old Testament, plus Loki's methodical murder spree. And then there was the incident with the Skrulls...
  • While the government was favorable to help the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, the Earth Alliance in The Dilgar War is initially neutral between the Dilgar and the League, save for a little tidbit: the Dilgar were to not invade the Markab and the Mentab. When the Warmaster Council vote to invade the Markab to reach the Vree (with Jha'dur saying that attacking the Markab was an immensely stupid act exactly because Earth protected them), the Dilgar curbstomps the Markab fleet only to meet Earthforce and a Macross Missile Massacre of nuclear weapons (about a dozen nukes for every ship the Dilgar had in that battle). The losses sustained in that single battle where more than anything the Dilgar had lost before in the entire war, and cost them the war.
  • In What About Witch Queen?, Tampere Empire is the largest country on the continent, but generally it focuses more on the Far East than Inner Sea (the region where Arendelle and Weselton are). However, the Royal Council of Arendelle fears that if Drachner will manage to take over the entire Inner Sea region, Tampere will end up steamrolling them to stop this.
  • In the backstory of Mass Effect Human Revolution, the Moon colonists tried to take over Earth by carrying out guerilla superfighter attacks and demanding the feuding supranational blocs of Earth cede control. All that did was make the Earthnoids mad.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic novel-length story Without A Hive, this is what Queen Chrysalis does by (unsuccessfully!) attacking Canterlot, the capital of the strongest, most populous and most technologically-advanced nation on its planet, led by a family of Physical Gods. Equestria now knows the Changelings are real, considers them extremely hostile, and begins a systematic attempt to uncover Changeling spies. Congratulations, Chrysalis, on breaking the Masquerade.
  • In Order In Chaos the Minbari are neutral to the war between the Centauri and the Orieni, and immediately warn both sides of respecting their neutrality. The governments are only too happy to obey, given they know just how more powerful the Minbari are... Then a group of Centauri raiders decide to try and make a quick buck by preying on Minbari shipping and steal technology to reverse-engineer, and Orieni explorers seeking to find some alternate routes to Centauri space accidentally violate Minbari territory. The governments find out only when couriers warn them that a Minbari fleet intruded a battle and crushed both fleets at the same time, and then have to convince two other Minbari fleets they had no idea of what had happened and they have no reason to flatten their homeworlds. The governments succeed. Those Centauri raiders... Not so much.
  • The main premise of the fanfic Game of Thrones: Vendetta. When Talisa's father hears about the Red Wedding and of his daughter's death, he heads for Westeros with his sellsword army hell-bent on avenging his daughter, as well as Robb and Catelyn Stark. Admiral Yamamoto's quote also appears at the beginning of the story. Talisa's father wins, and every Lannister except Tyrion dies.
    Bronn: (warning Tywin about Lucian Maegyr and his forces): The proof is right there. He destroyed House Frey and killed the Spicers. Not only is he going to wipe out Roose Bolton, but he will put your entire family to the sword...the Kingslayer, the Queen Regent, the boy King...everyone. He will do what Robb Stark failed to do: see whether or not you can shit gold.
  • A Thin Veneer kicks off when the Federation and Klingon peace negotiations get interrupted by a group of refugees trying to escape the Earth/Minbari War. This wasn't sufficient to bring them into the war. The murder of twenty five million beings from several major nations in a Pearl Harbor-style attack on a Federation colony, on the other hand, brings the Federation, Klingons and Gorn into the Earth/Minbari War with a vengeance.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: At one point during Season 2, Shining Armor reflects on his belief that Ganondorf and Majora have done this with their invasions of Equestria, for while the ponies are peaceful by nature, they will fight to protect what's theirs.
  • For most of Origin Story, Alex Harris — a Kryptonian trapped in the Marvel Universe — is perfectly happy to keep her head down and not get involved in the "civil war" going on across the US between the superheroes. In fact, she only takes a side, finally, because she gets fed up with the fascistic pro-registration side constantly refusing to leave her and her partner Louise alone.
  • In the WWE story, The Return-Remixed, Edge is shown as being friendly with the Divas and the members of DEAR when he first returns. When Ashley Massaro (who had been shamelessly throwing herself at him, trying to get a date with him) tried to take out his girlfriend, new Diva Kennedi Korklan, Edge firmly threw his weight behind the Divas, helping them become the Diva Army and bringing in Jazz to whip them into shape to fight DEAR.
  • In Equestria: Across the Multiverse:
    • The multiversal Storm Empire adheres to Pragmatic Villainy for this exact reason: they're far stronger than anything the Alliance has faced thus far, but are also aware much bigger fish than themselves are lurking out there in the multiverse and will wipe them out should they accidentally disturb them. As such they stick to their own worlds they conquered and avoid actions that may tick off forces stronger than themselves.
    • The My Little Pony Tales version of Chrysalis's attack on the Isle of Pony ends up resulting in that universe's previously hidden populations of Pegasi, Unicorns, Flutterponies, and Sea Ponies to decide they can't stand by doing nothing any longer and make themselves known on the Isle's behalf. They were planning to make First Contact anyway, but Chrysalis's actions resulted in them doing so decisively against her via military force.
  • In Earth's Alien History, the Visitors destroying entire cities is described as this, as it forces Torchwood to dispense with secrecy and unveil hidden weapons emplacements in order to counterstrike and destroy them.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: Archduchess Galiene Sebille was happily retried in an out of the way island... until the Sack of Torus Filney left her daughter and son-in-law prisoners of the Rebellion, which was enough to spur her to action against them.

     Film 
  • Godzilla, frequently (and literally).
  • The United States as per the final voice over of the trope quote in Tora! Tora! Tora!. Maybe Yamamoto never said it — but he should have, and (as noted in the Real Life section below), he did at least hold similar sentiments.
  • Firefox. Gant is infiltrating the Soviet Union as a common smuggler, in the hope that this will attract less attention from the KGB.
    "If you tip-toe past the dragon, it might just raise an eyelid and sniff at you. But if you awaken it..."
  • Several supplementary sources in the Star Wars franchise reveal that Tarkin's destruction of Alderaan may have been the true tipping point in the war, as crossing the Moral Event Horizon in such dramatic fashion led to thousands of worlds that formerly submitted to Imperial rule flipping to Alliance-aligned almost instantly. Alderaan had the reputation of being a peace-loving world that had submitted to the rule of law of the Empire, seeing it destroyed despite all that told other worlds they had nothing to lose by joining the Alliance, as the Empire would probably destroy them anyway.

     Literature 
  • In The Dark Is Rising series, in the novel Greenwitch, the Greenwitch is part of the Wild Magic, which is neutral between the Light and the Dark. She is not powerful enough to present a direct threat to either faction on her own (although Tethys is), but she does end up in a situation where she has something both sides desperately need and can't take without her consent.
  • During the early Honor Harrington novels, both the Manticorian and Havenite forces are very careful to avoid certain activities (such as planetary bombardment) that will attract the ire of the Solarian League, a star nation that comprises 80% of the human population in the galaxy. Later on, as conflict builds between Manticore and the Solarian League, it becomes obvious that the League, though huge, is no longer the military powerhouse it used to be: fifty years of Manticorian/Havenite conflict has left the massive League navy hopelessly outclassed. It is also made clear that if that was the only problem the League was facing, it would still be the this trope — the League is still technologically sophisticated, it's just that it has mostly gone to civilian tech (which doesn't help the military) or the Frontier Fleet (which is severely lacking in larger warships, and the way battle works in the Honorverse means larger ships have a major advantage over smaller ships), and the League is so massive that it has the space and industry to buy time to upgrade their ships of the wall and then roll over Manticore. The real reason why it isn't is that this particular giant is beginning to collapse.
  • The Culture, from the Iain M. Banks novels. From Use of Weapons: "You might call them soft, because they're very reluctant to kill, and they might agree with you, but they're soft the way the ocean is soft, and, well; ask any sea captain how puny and harmless the ocean can be." Or, if that's a bit flowery for you, there's the universal adage of the civilizations which have dealings with them; "Do not fuck with The Culture." See Consider Phlebas and Look to Windward for what happens when those civilizations don't follow that advice. Someone phrased it as "The first rule of dealing with The Culture is that you do not fuck with The Culture. The second rule of dealing with The Culture is that you do not fuck with The Culture. The last rule is that you don't fuck with The godsdamned Culture!"
  • Another Iain M. Banks example: in the non-Culture novel The Algebraist, the Dwellers (in gas giants) have a reputation for wiping out civilizations that piss them off...but they don't care what the inhabitants of rocky Earthlike planets do to each other as long as they leave the Dwellers alone. One of the book's many subplots concerns trying to persuade the Dwellers to help defeat an invasion fleet before they get around to attacking the local gas giant.
    • Banks is fond of this trope. The entire plot of Consider Phlebas is driven by the fact that the Culture and the Idirans have to tiptoe carefully around the Dra'Azon, a very powerful species who happen to have designed the planet they are fighting over as a sort of museum.
  • The Protagonist becomes the ultimate Even Bigger Neutral by the Third (and last) Part of Tranquilium. He has some very long-term plans in operation, but mostly he just sits there, confusing enemies and allies alike with his apparent inactivity. Then a cult kidnaps his son to either use him for or blackmail his father into working with their occult plans. The father arrives and dismantles the entire cult, dashing their last chance to carry out their scheme in the process and finishing with a (jaded) "Break Them by Talking".
  • David Weber's Out of the Dark: when the alien invaders are about to make the human race extinct, someone on Earth (Count Dracula) finally decides to come out of his self-imposed exile and show them what real monsters can do.
  • By introducing late 20th century technology and ideas in early 17th century Europe the time traveling Americans of 1632 have awoken the interest of the Ottoman Empire: the mightiest military power of its time, ruled by a Sultan named Murad the Mad, who is, according The Spymaster Francisco Nasi, as intelligent as he is insane and bloodthirsty.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Used in the books to explain why the various supernatural factions maintain the Masquerade despite their outward contempt of ordinary humanity: they fear what would happen if mortal humanity became aware of what else was out there - and Dresden notes that this fear does not take into account just how powerful mortal weaponry has become in the last century or so. Bringing mortal authority around into a supernatural argument is compared to the nuclear option. At least that's how it's explained in-universe to humans. Most factions have enough additional reasons it's hard to judge their real priority.
    • Still, the big example of this having happened is the tale of how the Black Court of vampires used to be incredibly powerful with many members, until the White Court vampires arranged the publication of Dracula, making all their weaknesses public knowledge. They're not nearly so numerous nowadays.
  • In Harry Potter, the motto of Hogwarts school is "never tickle a sleeping dragon" and would appear to be the wizarding equivalent of this saying. It turns out not to refer to Hogwarts itself as a superpower, but rather the fact that to attack Hogwarts is to put in danger nearly every wizarding child age 11 to 17. This has the rather egregious effect of pissing off every witch or wizard related to someone at the school, which is damn near all of them. Taken a bit further when Kreacher is able to turn the entire house-elf staff of Hogwarts to side with Harry rather than stay out of the fight. Not only do the elves have powerful magic, they are also small and carry very sharp knives, easy for attacking one's knees and shins.
  • In S.M. Stirling's Emberverse, the Provisional Republic of Iowa is far away from most of the action and has no reason to get involved... until the Cutters kill the Republic's ruler and try to kill his family, revealing how far their tentacles extend and infuriating the surviving leadership of the Republic. Since Iowa is a superpower in its own right, and can call on its local neighbors for additional troops and help, this makes the strike at Pearl Harbor look like genius.
  • The Mark of the Horse Lord: a Scottish chieftain has to prevent an enemy queen from drawing The Roman Empire into their tribal war.
  • Star Trek: The Great Starship Race reinforces this as the Romulan view of the Federation. The Romulan commander even outright compares the Federation to a very gentle looking furry giant who was sleeping and the Romulans as hunters after the giant's pelt. They had expected the giant to cower in fear when they attacked with their skinning knives instead the creature roared defiantly ready to fight tooth and claw to the death.
  • Caladan Brood's warhammer in Malazan Book of the Fallen, aptly named Burn's Hammer, is an implement she gave him, so he can awaken her, if he so wishes. Luckily, he is aware what him wielding the hammer will do and he treats his responsibility accordingly. Since Burn is the world itself, awakening this particular giant is generally a bad idea.
  • The concept of "awakening a sleeping giant" may have originated in the Indian epic Ramayana with the giant demon Kumbhakarana being the Ur-Example. Kumbhakarana was an immensely powerful asura who through a case of That Came Out Wrong got a boon of being able to sleep for six months, waking only to eat. When Ravana is facing defeat at the hands of Rama's invading army, he hopes that waking Kumbhakarana early, and thus enraging him will even the odds. In a rare subversion of this trope, it doesn't work. Rama is the good guy, Ravana is the Big Bad and is therefore destined to lose.
  • Domina: It goes both ways with the war between America and Domina. On the one hand, Domina is a very large independent city that greatly values its freedom, with millions of bio-augmented soldiers who are willing to fight to defend it — and they've been fighting each other for decades, so they're very experienced in killing. The American forces were expecting token resistance from criminal gangs, and instead find that they can barely make any headway at all. On the other hand, it is repeatedly pointed out that the only reason America is landing troops at all instead of just shelling the city is because they don't want to kill the entire city. The Dagonites sinking the boats and the unexpected city shield make shelling the city harder than expected, but America still has nukes while Domina doesn't. In total war, America would inevitably win. Luckily for Domina City, the American president didn't want a war in the first place, and was only convinced to when a Dominite exile told him it would be an easy liberation. Once the invasion stalls, he is willing to cut his losses and sue for peace.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Black Sails: Before Charles Vane's execution by the British authorities on Nassau, a certain pirate captain was content to ply his 'trade' elsewhere, unconcerned by his fellows' determination to fight a war against them. Unfortunately, for the British, Charles Vane was like a son to him. So now everything is changed. The 'Giant' part of this trope refers to two things, the first that said pirate captain has a large fleet (including a fifty-gun Man o' War). The second? That said pirate captain's name is Blackbeard.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Quentin rallies the Watchers Council to fight the First Evil, seconds before a bomb goes off and kills off the entire Watchers Council.
  • The Doctor of Doctor Who is almost never looking for trouble and is willing to negotiate wherever possible, but his hand is so often forced that he's probably racked up more kills than anything else in the universe. Despite this, he remains a Technical Pacifist at heart and only uses violence as a last resort. Unless you're the Daleks, in which case it's plans A-Z.
    Son of Mine: He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing. The fury of the Time Lord. And then we discovered why. Why this Doctor who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind.
    • In "Face the Raven", this is narrowly averted when the Doctor learns Clara must be Killed Off For Real within minutes. He threatens to expose and destroy the trap street and its residents over this, even though there's nothing that will accomplish aside from Revenge, and only Clara can talk him down from it. When all is said and done, the Doctor holds a bitter grudge against the person whose plotting with an as-then-unknown Big Bad resulted in this disaster and warns them never to cross his path again. And Ashildr is a functionally-immortal human, so she'll be living in fear until the end of time. As he says in "A Good Man Goes To War"...
    Doctor: Good Men do not need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.
  • In Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo really didn't care all that much about Westeros, until Robert tried to have Daenerys assassinated. Then he becomes hell-bent on vengeance. This was deliberately engineered by Varys, who sent the assassin. But then he dies of an infected wound and a blood magic ritual gone wrong (or right, depending on who you ask) and his horde falls apart.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 pilot, Apophis thought he was just kidnapping a host from a human population, albeit one with rather noisy projectile weapons instead of swords and spears. Business as usual for the Goa'uld. As it turned out, he pissed off possibly the only civilization in the Milky Way with the exact combination of manpower, militarism, scientific knowledge, and insanity needed to end not only his own tyranny, but that of his entire species.
    • The Tau'ri are also guilty of this trope at least twice — first in Stargate Atlantis and the following year in Season 9 of SG-1, in both cases awakening a powerful alien race that rules an entire galaxy (the Wraith, then the Ori), becomes hell-bent on getting to the Milky Way, and at least in the Ori case, actually succeeding.
  • In the backstory episode of Babylon 5, "In The Beginning," Londo is pressured to provide info on the mysterious Minbari for Earthforce so they could do an armed probe of their territory. Londo agrees, but pointedly warns them that the Minbari are not to be underestimated, and comments that "I hope you do not wake the Dragon." Of course, the Human force is led by a trigger happy idiot who does precisely that, and suddenly Earth is in a crushing Hopeless War against an overwhelmingly superior foe on a genocidal crusade against Humanity.
    • For a bit of backstory, humans have only recently entered the galactic stage and have shown their mettle by turning the tide in the Dilgar War. What they didn't understand was that the Dilgar were small potatoes compared to the ancient and powerful Minbari. Londo's suggestion to send a single ship is brushed aside, and they decide to send a commander with a poor First Contact track record.
  • Sisko's efforts to get the Romulans into the Dominion War in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine end up turning the tide of the conflict.
    • This is also a view of Starfleet and the Federation in general by other organizations - the Prime Directive tells them to keep out of the affairs of other species, which includes other space faring races. However, when they are forced to be involved, they do everything they can to end the conflict. Sure, the Federation are the good guys, but when pushed...
      • A specific example comes from Star Trek: The Next Generation — the Federation is determined to stay neutral in the Klingon Civil War, as it is a purely Klingon affair. But when the indications are that the Romulan Empire is involved, that gets Starfleet's attention. When they manage to intercept a group of cloaked warbirds on approach to Klingon space, the Romulans know better than to make their delivery — doing so would make the Federation have to get involved, and the Romulans don't want a war with them.
      • The Romulans are actually something of an odd case, as they do want war with the Federation. However, they want to start it on their termsnote , hence all the subterfuge. They won't start a fight, but they will manipulate the Federation into giving them an excuse.
    • Not just the Romulan involvement in the Dominion War. The entire Dominion War itself could be considered this from the Dominion's perspective, as they severely underestimated Federation technical prowess and industrial capacity, to the point that Federation engineers became an entire army of Memetic Badasses in the eyes of the Dominion, who witnessed the Federation turn just about anything they could get their hands on into a starship and cranking their industrial base Up to Eleven, to the point that one Vorta claimed a Federation engineer could "turn rocks into replicators". Not to mention the original Dominion contingent had no idea how warlike humanity could become when the need arose. (Their Cardassian allies were considerably smarter in this regard, however).
    • The Dominion were considerably more well-informed about the Federation than was believed. The Dominion had however achieved such a string of victories (going from their first attacks on Alpha Quadrant ships and colonies in 'The Jem'Hadar' to encounters throughout Season Five) against Federation ships that they 'knew' their technology was superior. They mainly underestimated the Federation's (i.e. human) resourcefulness to adapt so the Dominion's technological advantages slowly disappeared. Since Dominion tech was older (in terms of when it was developed), the Founders had settled into a pattern that held only so long as no 'equivalent' force could overcome their advantages (such as weapons that ignore shields, sensors that can detect cloaked ships etc). The Dominion's goal prior to the war was to ensure Romulan, Federation and Klingon separation, so that these three Alpha Quadrant powerhouses never formed a coalition against them. Those efforts mainly failed, and after the Romulans were tricked into joining the war, the Dominion faced an almost fully united Alpha Quadrant.
    • The more traditional example was that the Dominion completely ignored the Prophets. The main Dominion armada was more than big enough to curbstomp the allies who were barely holding on against the advance force, and once the minefield blocking the wormhole was down they were coming with a vengeance. They forgot that the wormhole was controlled by the gods of Bajor, and once Sisko convinced the Prophets that Bajor itself was threatened that fleet got itself straight-up disappeared. This conclusively turned the tide of the war.
  • During the Xindi arc of Star Trek: Enterprise, the Aquatics are treated as this by Enterprise and the other four Xindi species. When the Reptilians and Insectoids take control of the weapon, the Primates and Arboreals are no match for them until the Aquatics join them to stop the weapon.
  • Supernatural:
    • Eve, the Mother of All Monsters, was satisfied with the natural order of things, where her children kill a few humans from time to time and in turn a few humans hunt them back. Then Crowley, with the help of the Campbells, set up a base to torture Alphas, which pissed her off enough that she escaped from Purgatory intent on destroying all of mankind.
    • Lucifer binds Death to his will in "Abandon All Hope...". Bad idea. Death was really annoyed by someone as powerful as himself being bound by "a bratty child throwing a temper tantrum" and gave the Winchesters his ring-the key to defeating Lucifer-in retribution.
  • Wonder Woman: Let's just say that the nazi who shot Steve Trevor while the two were parachuting over Paradise Island did more to help the Allied cause than perhaps any single act in World War II.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Axis And Allies the USA has the highest initial industrial capacity of any of the warring powers, but aside from a few cut-off units in China (which are almost guaranteed to fall to Japan) they're on the far side of an ocean from everyone else, limiting their early actions to building up units or airstrikes. However, if they manage to get a beachhead in Europe or Asia it's basically over for the Axis.
  • In Battletech, the states of the Inner Sphere banded together to form a second Star League with the common goal of annihilating Clan Smoke Jaguar. The Clans were descendants of the original Star League's military, and a political schism existed with them between "Warden" (guides and protectors of the Inner Sphere) and "Crusader" (conquerors of the barbarians that play at recreating the Star League). Clan Smoke Jaguar was a particularly brutal Crusader clan; so much so that their response to one case of rampant insurgency in the Clan Invasion was to glass the city from orbit. When the fury of the entire Inner Sphere fell upon them, not even their fellow like-minded Crusader clans came to their aid, and Clan Smoke Jaguar was no more. The Second Star League first took back all the worlds they took in the Clan Invasion, and then followed Exodus Road all the way to the distant Clan worlds to finish the job; a potentiality that the Smoke Jaguars used to fearmonger the rest of the clans to go along with the invasion. The entire Clan Invasion was then repudiated with the "Great Refusal" immediately after the elimination of the Jaguars was effectively complete.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Tau Empire got hit by this when they first encountered the Imperium. The Tau were able to annex some Imperial border worlds without any difficulty, weren't impressed by the Planetary Defense Force troopers who tried to resist, and assumed that the Imperium was comparable in size to their own domain. Then they got hit by the Damocles Gulf Crusade, found themselves fighting the Imperial Guard and Space Marines, and realized that the Imperium of Man was a galaxy-spanning polity that had only allowed the Tau to survive this long because they had so many other enemies to deal with. The Tau were able to adapt to Imperial tactics enough to slow their advance, and the distraction of the Tyranid Hive Fleets convinced the Imperium to agree to a peace treaty, but ever since the Tau have had to time their expansion carefully, lest they provoke another overwhelming response from the Imperium.
    • A weird mutual Awakening moment comes from the 6th edition Tyranids codex. The Tyranids attacked an Imperial world that turned out to be guarding a cursed relic from the Dark Age of Technology. After the Imperial defenders were slaughtered and the Tyranids got down to the business of consuming the world's biomass, the artifact created a Warp Portal that unleashed a horde of daemons, which were none to pleased that there were no more human souls to harvest or Imperial icons to desecrate, and so took out their aggression on the Tyranids. The Tyranids took heavy losses, their Hive Mind was forced to re-evaluate Chaos forces from "prey" to a predator of equal power to the Hive Fleets, and shifted tactics to beat back the Chaos incursion with massed artillery biomorphs and overwhelming psychic power. The Chaos Daemons in turn came to understand the true threat of the Tyranids, and began plotting their revenge.

     Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham City, the Penguin was not Batman's target until Cobblepot decides to shoot a cop in front of him.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • Narrowly averted in Tiberian Dawn, when Seth proposes an attack on the Pentagon as part of a Uriah Gambit to get rid of Nod's rising commander, but Kane intervenes and stops him. Looking at Nod's arsenal, it's clear that the Brotherhood gets most of their equipment (which includes the M2 Bradley, the Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle, the M-110 artillery, and even the Apache helicopter) from US arms dealers, so Kane had doubly good reason to leave the United States alone.
    • Killian Qatar in Tiberium Wars disapproves of Nod's attack on GDI Blue Zones precisely for this reason, and even paraphrases the trope line. She's proven correct and Nod gets hammered hard in reprisal, though Kane was counting on a massive GDI counterattack to fulfill his master plan.
  • In Diablo 3, the Archangel Imperius is a Light Is Not Good Fantastic Racist who couldn't care less that his brother Maltheal has become an Angel of Death and his servants, the Reapers, are trying to Kill All Humans... but when the Reapers attack the High Heavens in an attempt to close a portal to Pandemonium, Imperius realizes that Malthael is insane and needs to be put down, and an Enemy Mine alliance between Heaven and humanity' mightiest heroes is the best way to accomplish it.
  • Given a rather blatant nod in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in the seemingly quiet and inconsequential village of Riverwood. One of the few surviving Blades who are being hunted by the Thalmor is actually the proprietess of the aptly named Sleeping Giant Inn. Once the player character embraces their destiny as the Dragonborn, this character is essential to completing the main plot and defeating Alduin.
  • Exit Fate plays with this to the point that you don't actually realise it's been in effect until the very end. Rather large spoilers ahoy. At the end of the first half of the game, Daniel Vinyard and his Elysium Army manage to defeat the State Union. Then, out of the blue, the Almenga Empire gets up and conquers the hell out of Daniel's homeland: the Kingdom of Kirgard for seemingly no reason. Since no one's quite sure what the Empire is up to, they're not sure why the giant awoke — so everyone from Elysium and the Union bands together and unites under Daniel to take them down... which is exactly what the Big Bad, Emperor Siegfried, wanted all along. You see, Sieg's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wanted to put an end to war forever by creating the world's greatest leader using the Hand of Fate — a powerful demonic spirit capable of influencing destiny. Said spirit resides within the body of his son, who turns out to be none other than Daniel himself and, together, the Hand of Fate and Siegfried have been manipulating events to force the world to unite under Daniel's banner. The empire wasn't the sleeping giant — Daniel's own potential as a leader was. In Siegfried's own words, everything that has happened up until this point was to take away the leaders of the world so that they would be forced to unite under a new one — his son. The Elysium giant then goes on to completely dominate the crap out of Almenga and ends up assimilating it into the Elysium Republic in the ending... just as Siegfried planned.
  • The Boomers from Fallout: New Vegas are descended from a faction that left Vault 34, whose armory was overstocked and couldn't be locked, after the Overseer tried to institute some form of arms control. This arsenal let the Boomers handily defeat the raiders that troubled them as they traveled across the Mojave Wasteland, and now they've taken up residence in Nellis Air Force Base, with a substantial supply of pre-War munitions including rockets and artillery. The Boomers aren't aggressive, but their violent first contact with surface-dwellers has made them intensely xenophobic, so their response to any would-be visitors, no matter their intentions, is to shell them with mortars. But if you're able to recruit them, they turn the Final Battle into a Curb-Stomp Battle by raining death upon an enemy that can do nothing to retaliate. If you don't recruit them, the game's various factions leave them alone out of fear, save for Caesar's Legion under Legate Lanius, who wipe out the Boomers but lose a ridiculous number of men, even by their standards, in doing so.
  • The Minutemen from Fallout 4, should the player help rebuild them, become this. They are the only major faction in the Commonwealth that doesn't want to exterminate someone else. But should the Institute or the Brotherhood try to attack them, they will respond with overwhelming force.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, The Empire wakes up the sleeping magic creatures. They aren't happy about this.
  • Along that same line, in Final Fantasy VII humanity finally pisses of Mother Nature enough that she awakens the Weapons, literal sleeping giants.
  • Among the Godlike Primals of Final Fantasy XIV, Ramuh is very passive, and would rather not be summoned by his Sylph followers unless their forest home is in danger. Fleeing a war of succession in the Garlean Empire, a new influx of refugees attempt to find shelter in the Twelveswood. Interpreting this as an invasion, the Sylphs summon the Lord of Levin to protect them.
  • Begnion in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. There is a war between two similarly sized nations, immediately south and bordering both of them is one three times as big as the two put together.
    • The Dragons count for the sequel Radiant Dawn as well.
  • In the backstory to Galactic Civilizations, the evil Drengin Empire initially had a dismissive view toward humanity, since these galactic newcomers didn't even have a proper starfleet beyond some exploratory and mercantile vessels. So the Drengin secretly sponsored a minor galactic power as it attacked the humans... at which point the humans rapidly mobilized, built a military armada large enough to give the Drengin nightmares, and proceeded to lay waste to the aggressors, to the point in which the Drengin were forced to covertly finish the race's genocide before they could reveal who had convinced them to attack the humans. In the war's aftermath, the humans promptly decommissioned their military and went back to trading and exploring, something the Drengin couldn't wrap their minds around.
  • Marathon 2: A large part of the game revolves around Durandal's comparatively paltry forces (made up of humans and S'pht) trying desperately to defeat a Pfhor fleet. Then the player succeeds in getting a message out to the long-lost S'pht'kr, a very powerful and advanced race of S'pht, about their brothers' plight, which leads to the curb-stomping of the Pfhor in the system (and plants the seeds for a decades-long conflict that eventually leads to the downfall of the entire Pfhor Empire at the hands of the S'pht'kr and humanity).
  • In Mass Effect, the humans are the galactic newcomers with little military to speak of, but our tenacity, bravery and the speed of build-up from token military into a powerhouse really scares the other races. The turians (the resident galactic police race) generally don't harbor a grudge over the First Contact War, but rather because they're the big, bad military. The idea of humans mobilising en masse to fight something leaves many of them silently terrified.
  • Mass Effect 3 has another example. Not that they were exactly sleeping by this point, but Kai Leng stealing the data on the Catalyst out from under Shepard's nose finally pisses the Alliance off enough to focus their entire military might on Cerberus.
    • Also, the Alliance almost invariably forms the bulk of Shepard's War Assets, with only the geth and krogan coming close to matching them (though adding the DLCs puts the miscellaneous alien groups over the top). Nothing like a Reaper invasion to get an entire species motivated.
  • Sort of in Overlord II. The elves futilely try to stop the Overlord from clubbing baby seals. Due to these actions, the Overlord and his horde of Minions decide to kill some elves and knock down their Sanctuary. He then decides to enslave or destroy both the elves and The Empire.
  • The God Wars in RuneScape were a series of conflicts between powerful gods over thousands of years, resulting in mass extinction and great damage to the environment. This awoke Guthix from his sleep, the most powerful of the gods, who proceeded to establish a set of Edicts, which forbade the major gods from interfering in the balance of the world, otherwise Guthix would remake the world without mercy.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: As a general rule, in Megaten, The Great Will and Lucifer Are Both Jerks, and they're jerks with very specific and very differing ideas on how things should be run. Most if not all of the games revolve around them trying to get a leg up over the other and inevitably humanity gets involved, usually when the two factions decide to use our world as their latest battleground and us as food, cannon fodder, patsies, vessels, sacrifices, or worse. Unfortunately for them, the canon Neutral endings have them learn the hard way that there was, in fact, a giant sleeping amongst humanity, A giant who doesn't take kindly to the cosmic entities screwing with their world and the people they care about, a giant who turns the angels and demons to their own side and slaughters gods and demons with them before they're even at the midway point of the games, a giant who stares into the eyes of the gods of old and makes them blink. Who is this giant? You, who usually starts off a Ordinary High-School Student just going about their life when Armageddon hits.
  • The Trade Order in Sins of a Solar Empire had no standing military to speak of. Just local planet-operated defense flotillas mainly consisting of frigates and cruisers in order to protect shipping lanes against Space Pirates. Then the Vasari invade with a massive fleet and thousands of years of technological advantage over the humans. They rapidly take a number of human colonies. Then the Trade Order gets reformed into the Trade Emergency Coalition, using its industrial and financial might to build an unprecedented number of warships, mostly using militarized versions of civilian ships. While the Vasari are still stronger in terms of technology and firepower, they can't possibly match the industrial capacity of the TEC. Even when the Advent join the conflict, the TEC are fully capable of waging a two-front war. Basically, We Have Reserves is in full effect for the TEC.
  • Sonic Unleashed — Despite being a horrifying Eldritch Abomination depicted nearly destroying the earth each millenia since time began, Dark Gaia is not so much evil as simply a force of nature (shown by the fact that whenever it tried to destroy the world upon awakening, it would be rebuilt by its other half, Light Gaia, and start the process all over again). It wasn't until Eggman tried to control the monster's power by firing his beam from space and woke Dark Gaia prematurely that he really put himself and the entire fate of the world in deep shit. Only Sonic and a formerly amnesiac Light Gaia make everything right again.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan and Exile mutally grabbed the Idiot Ball and marched into the most obvious trap ever getting predictably stomped by The Sith Emperor. Thanks to the two former protagonists and their firm grip on the idiot ball, no attempt was made to warn the Republic that the Sith Empire even existed. The Sith Empire merrily sat back and stockpiled everything it could muster for three centuries to strike back at the Republic, ostensibly for their Genocide Backfire a thousand years earlier. The Republic was caught with their pants down as the Empire waged a very successful shock and awe campaign, ending with the Treaty of Coruscant (which both sides knew was nearly worthless, and played right into the Emperor's bigger plan to destroy everything in the galaxy except himself). Predictably, as soon as the truce was declared, the Sith started infighting while the Republic stockpiled and threw everything they could muster at the Empire. The Empire, starting with fewer troops, fewer Force Users, an untenable reliance on slave labor, and the infrastructure of a Third World backwater finds itself in serious trouble by the Makeb story arc, with Darth Marr admitting they're pretty much screwed if their Hail Mary plan with Isotope 5 droids doesn't pan out.
    • As of Knights of the Fallen Empire it's revealed that this was intentional on the Emperor's part; the war was intended to weaken both sides enough to be easy pickings for his other empire. The thousand year history of the Sith Empire and the massive war with it's layers of plots within plots (set up to be foiled by the Jedi so they think they're winning) was little more than a massive feint.
  • The Fallen Empires of Stellaris are too arrogant to pay much attention to the wider galaxy, so long as the younger races don't press any of their Berserk Buttons, which depending on the Fallen Empire in question can be "stay away from our borders," "don't commmit atrocities," "don't research dangerous technology," or "don't colonize our holy worlds." Provoke or attack them, however, and you'll be faced with a highly-advanced fleet that will defeat anything short of a lategame armada. And if a galactic power grows large enough, an endgame Crisis Faction arrives, or somebody goes so far as to destroy a Holy World, the Fallen Empires might Awaken, mobilize and shake off their decline, and start (re)conquering the galaxy.
  • Touhou's setting of Gensokyo has too many Sleeping Giants for its own good. Yukari Yakumo is a powerful Reality Warper who's normally too lazy to get involved in anything, but if something is actively threatening Gensokyo, she won't hesitate to get involved, as Eientei learned in Imperishable Night or Tenshi found after destroying the Hakurei Shrine in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. It's also implied that should Reimu ever fail in protecting the border (which is saying a lot), the dragon of Gensokyo will swoop down to deal with whatever problem there is. And it's not your standard fire-breathing Western fantasy dragon either: this dragon, when he/she/it appeared once in the past, filled the entire sky with his/her/its body. His/her/its presence alone caused extreme rain, enough to flood the entire Gensokyo. The dragon might be Gensokyo itself.
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron"Metroplex heeds the call of the last Prime." Literal and figurative. Before the energon shortage, there was plenty running through Iacon to have him take direct action well before, but he remained uninvolved, seeing no need. Right until the Ark was attacked.
  • In Undertale, if you ride out the No Mercy route all the way to the end, your final opponent is Sans, the lazy, affable skeleton. He chides you for everything you've done, stating he "can't afford to not care anymore" and warns you that if you take another step "You're going to have a bad time", and he isn't lying.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, The Empire was hoping to use the neutral principality of Gallia as a staging ground and supply depot for their war against The Federation. Three guesses as to who sends them packing in the end.
  • World of Warcraft: Word of God gave this as their reasoning for having the Horde destroy Theramore, as a way to bring the Alliance into the war against the Horde proper. Of course, the Alliance fans felt the sleeping giant should have already been awakened by the attacks on Southshore, Ashenvale and Gilneas...
    • In doing so, Horde Warchief Garrosh Hellscream has not only declared war on the Alliance, but also the avowedly neutral Kirin Tor and the blue dragonflight.
      • And on top of that, odds are fairly good that both the Alliance and the Horde will piss off the pandaren, most notably the Shado-Pan, whose leader is outspokenly against the faction hostilities brought to Pandaria's soil, dismissing it as a race war and calling the factions out for trying to pull the pandaren into it. Considering that Pandaria has a built-in defense mechanism called the Sha that react to and spawn from a variety of negative emotions, all of which both Red and Blue bring with them, and whose modus operandi is rampaging through the countryside until stopped, odds are increasingly in favor of Red and Blue getting a handy asskicking before this is all over.
      • That is they'll be giving one considering that A:The sha have more or less been beaten down already and B:Both sides are already studying them for further conflicts (And in the case of the horde, weaponizing).

    Western Animation 
  • Played Straight and Discussed in the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Between Brothers" when the usually pacifist Elephants, previously constrained by a need to meditate on their every dilemma, decide to enter the fight against the Lizards:
    Wilykit: You just woke a village of sleeping giants!
    Anet: Only rarely. But when we do, we fight to win!
  • In BIONICLE 3, the characters are primarily searching for the mythical beast Keetongu because he can reverse their mutations, but since their leader defected to the bad guys and they are under constant attack by the Visorak horde, they also ask for his help in combat. At first he refuses, but with a heartfelt speech, they convince him to join the party. The fact that the Visorak were responsible for his status as the Last of His Kind probably helped. Although he doesn't partake in the grand battle, he does kill the horde's leader with a single blow.
  • Pissing off the Avatar is probably the worst mistake you can do. Ask Chin, Yakone and Zhao how it went.
  • The Bendu from Star Wars Rebels is a literal sleeping giant — he's much larger than everyone else, and he prefers to keep to himself on Atollon while contemplating the Balance Between Good and Evil. When Grand Admiral Thrawn launches his attack on the nearby rebel base, Kanan rouses the Bendu to take action by calling him a coward. Unfortunately, the Bendu's response is to unleash his wrath on both sides.

    Real Life 
  • Adolf Hitler initiated Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union on the 22nd of June 1941 ultimately because he really, really hated Communism. And Slavs. And Jews. Which was a really unfortunate combination of prejudices for the Soviet Union, because it contained more than 2 million people who were all three, 160 million people who were two out of three (Slavic Commies), and another 40 million Central Asians who were at the very least quite inarguably Commies. Which was bad. Given that Germany had a population of fewer than 80 million people, industrial production almost certainly lesser than that of the Soviet Union, war industries dependent upon Soviet resources (tungsten, rubber, petrol) to continue functioning, and that Germany was (politically) unwilling to initiate a total mobilisation of her already lesser aforementioned manpower and industrial resources, there was absolutely no way that this was not a very, very bad idea even given the data available to them at the time. Unless, of course, one assumed that Soviet resistance would be crushed within four weeks and the entire country occupied within six. Or maybe eight, if there was a bit of rain and mud or something. This being exactly what the army said would happen if Hitler just gave them the go-ahead. Then he compounded it with the ultimate diplomatic blunder of the War: declaring war on the United States when he was under no obligation with Germany's alliance with Japan. All Hitler gained from that was to enable his navy to attack American ships who were interfering with his U-Boats' campaign to strangle British trans-Atlantic shipping, while US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to join the fight with complete domestic political support.
  • The actual Trope Namer, featured in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, appears to be a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty!, as there is no reliable record of Yamamoto ever saying it. He did, however, express similar sentiments, saying that Japan shouldn't declare war against the United States unless they thought they could dictate peace terms in the White House, which they obviously never would be able to do, America being much bigger than Japan. Yamamoto also told his superiors that he could "run wild for six months" but couldn't guarantee anything after that—the Battle of Midway ended exactly six months after Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto only turned towards the Pearl Harbor attack after it became clear that the government was hell-bent on war with the United States.
  • Imperial Germany's Foreign Office during World War I managed to, by acting on its own and swallowing (to paraphrase the rest of the entire German government, military, and Reichstag) a massive spoonful of stupid, do pretty much the same thing as Hitler and Japan. In 1917 the Ambassador to Mexico offered the country an alliance with the promise of helping them reclaim Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. He hoped that if the Mexicans invaded, then America would be too busy to join the Entente or send them supplies.
    • The British intercepted the transmission (they had cut all the transatlantic telegraph lines not passing through the British Isles at the beginning of the war, allowing them full control over all telegrams crossing the Atlantic) and passed it along to the Americans, who promptly declared war on Germany, and began churning out massive amounts of weapons and supplies for their new European allies. Within a just a year (they needed to raise and train the troops first), hundreds of thousands of fresh US troops were available to the French Army to bolster its numbers and by the end of 1918, US troops accounted for nearly a third of the Entente force. Starving, abandoned by her allies, and outnumbered on the Western Front by 2:1, Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff gave up dictatorial power in favour of the Social-Democratic Party and advised them to surrender.
    • It should be noted, however, that Woodrow Wilson had wanted to join the war so the US could partially dictate the eventual peace almost from the start, resulting in policies such as turning a blind eye to Britain arming supposedly civilian ships, and running war supplies to Britain on civilian passenger ships while demanding that the Germans not use submarines. The Germans were at a complete loss as to how they should handle such blatant hypocrisy, and at least one cabinet member found the situation appalling enough to resign in protest. By the time America actually declared war on Germany, the US economy had become so invested into the French and British war effort that anything less than a decisive victory would have been economically ruinous to all three Western powers.
  • Pyrrhus (he of the Pyrrhic Victory) did this to Rome. Before facing him, Rome was a regional power in the largely barbaric Italy, mostly concerned to keep the Gauls and other hostiles away, trade with their neighbours and the then-ally Carthage and defend their Italian allies. Then Tarentum got in a squabble with one of Rome's allies and, realizing they were completely outmatched, cashed in a favour that Pyrrhus owed them, and by the end of the war, in which they had defeated a major Hellenistic power whose army was led by the greatest general of their time, the Romans realized they could conquer the Mediterranean, and were now inclined to try.
  • Sam Houston, the governor of Texas, resigned in protest when the state seceded from the Union prior to the American Civil War and issued the following warning to his state:
    After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.
  • Throughout the Syrian civil war and the ISIS conflict, Western governments have been reluctant to get involved due to the grueling experience of The War On Terror. After ISIS murdered 132 Paris civilians (and injured 352 more) on Friday the 13th of November 2015, France has finally begun taking action by bombing an ISIS training camp. ISIS is generally believed to have done this on purpose, and staged the bombing of a Russian flight around the same time to provoke them into attacking as well.
    • Before the Paris Attacks, Britain had stayed out of the bombing campaign, largely thanks to the fact that after the US, it had been the nation most invested in the War in Afghanistan and the Second Gulf War, and considerably less able to afford. It was consequently inclined not to get directly involved in the mess in Syria, restricting bombing raids on ISIS to its troops and bases in Iraq, and a motion to expand operations to Syria by then PM David Cameron had been soundly defeated in the House of Commons, with a significant rebellion from within his own party. Then Paris happened. And everywhere north of the English Channel exploded with fury. A new motion to join the bombing campaign was fast-tracked into Parliament, passing by a comfortable majority, and within hours, RAF Tornado bombers were taking off from RAF Akrotiri to perform strikes in Syria.
    • As a matter of fact, France had been increasing its bombing campaign since September of 2016, and French authorities had announced the redeployment of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Persian Gulf in November. The slaughter in Paris mainly caused the French government to communicate a lot more about its ongoing military effort. Closer to this trope is the fact that Paris invoked Article 42.7 of the Treaty of Lisbon ("If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power"): demanding (and receiving) financial and military assistance from the other EU member states, which is considered to be the final step before the "institutional nuclear option" of Article 46: merging of all the EU's national armies into a single structure.
    • Russia has been a known ally to the Syrian government for a long time, but after the bombing of a Russian flight, they have decided to have a more active role. Now Russian special force are fighting side by side with Syria government troops, while Russian tanks and heavy artillery take part in every major engagements.
  • This is the Bolshevik view of the working class in relation to World War I. The imperialist powers had created an age of untold bloodshed, but if the proletariat could "transform the imperialist war into a civil war", they would sweep away all the capitalist governments and establish a United Socialist States of Europe as a prelude to the World Socialist Republic and finally FULL COMMUNISM!

Alternative Title(s): Waking The Sleeping Giant, Awaken The Sleeping Giant

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