Follow TV Tropes


Begin with a Finisher

Go To

[Kung Lao throws his hat]
Dashie: Ok, I'm gonna pick, I'm gonna pick Liu Kang—
[Kung Lao's hat chops off Geras's head]
Dashie: —What?! Hold up, it didn't even say "finish him" or nothing! He just did a fatality like that? That's against the rules!

Two characters are getting ready to fight each other. They might have any weapon you could think of, supernatural powers, or just Good Old Fisticuffs. One of them decides to finish the fight as soon as it begins and unleashes their strongest attack on their opponent.

Huh. That was easy...

This is when a character uses the strongest attack they know against their opponent at the beginning of a fight, which either results in the victim being outright destroyed, the striker painfully realizing that this opponent is much more powerful or, in rare instances, the victim taking the loss to lower the striker's guard for a later encounter.

In anime, this is either one of the coolest things you'll ever see or an Epic Failure to kill the opponent. The latter case might be one of the most hilarious parts of the show... unless it's Played for Drama. Video Games can have this if the player saves their best attack for an incoming boss battle, and then uses it straight away; an enemy might also use this tactic, in which case it often overlaps with Press X to Not Die. In Professional Wrestling, this is referred to as a Squash Match. Tabletop RPG communities call the tactic a "nova", likening it to a star going supernova and burning itself out.

In Toku however, it’s a general convention for heroes and mechs to never use a finishing move as their first strike against the opponent.

May be combined with Deliberately Jumping the Gun to really up the effect.

Compare and contrast the Single-Stroke Battle, in which the decisive blow needn't be an especially powerful attack; Rocket-Tag Gameplay, a gameplay trope where characters' offensive powers are so great that any attack is either this trope or a No-Sell; Curb-Stomp Battle, where the opponent doesn't really need to use their best attack to kick someone out of the atmosphere; and Combat Pragmatist, a character who typically resorts to this.

See also Alpha Strike and Death or Glory Attack, which needn't be the first attack; and HP to 1, which doesn't quite finish off the opponent on its own. Related to The Worf Effect and The Worf Barrage.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Sorta. Ichigo, Hitsugaya and especially Komamura often tend to activate their Bankai from the get-go, so it's more like a "Begin with Super Mode". Depending on the opponent, that's more than enough. Ichigo later gains the ability to strengthen his power via his Hollow Mask, but because of his time limit, he normally doesn't wear it right away. There are three battles which he begins with his Bankai and his Hollow Masknote , but ironically enough, he doesn't win any of them. After the Time Skip after regaining his Shinigami powers, Ichigo makes less use of this trope and actually saves his Bankai for later.
  • Dragon Ball Super: Vegeta explains this to be the secret of Invincible Villain Jiren's strength in The Movie Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. He theorizes that Jiren isn't that much more physically powerful than they are, but instead utilized superior technique that allowed him to conserve as much energy as possible with no wasted movements until unleashing it all with one attack. With this, Jiren was able to defeat Hit with one strike and Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta with two during the Tournament of Power.
  • Most of Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken arsenal in Fist of the North Star is composed of killing moves, meaning that this is more often than not the default for him.
  • Hajime no Ippo has the titular character do this to Takeshi Sendo in the rematch, as Ippo charges out of his corner within the first seconds of the match and hits the Dempsey Roll as soon as possible. Sendo was able to get back from it, though.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Satoru Gojo takes the first shot in his duel against Sukuna by having Utahime buff him up before firing a 200% Hollow Purple from behind a Curtain, leaving the King of Curses with very little time to dodge and not get anything beyond his right arm utterly disintegrated.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Forbidden by the mechanics of Functional Magic for the title character: her most powerful Signature Move only works after a considerable number of magical attacks have already been exchanged in the airspace, for the simple reason that it feeds on the magical energy that lingers in the area from said attacks.
    • Defied more explicitly in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS manga bonus chapter: the starting distance between Nanoha and Signum in a mock battle is chosen so that neither can effectively use their respective One-Hit KO moves (long-ranged and close-ranged, respectively).
  • My Hero Academia: All For One's standard tactic in a fight is to crush his opponents with one overwhelming attack before moving in to steal their Quirks while they're down. All Might exploits this in their final rematch by having no Quirks to steal and by surviving his initial attack, after which he moves closer to counterattack with a suit of Power Armor.
  • One Piece: King Elizabello II has a move called the King Punch, whose mere shockwave is enough to defeat anybody who comes in contact with it and cannot be dodged, so he will always begin any fight with it. Played with, however, in that the King Punch needs a charge time of at least one hour during which he can't defend or move from his spot, and he literally knows no other moves, requiring his retainer Dagama to find ways to not let Elizabello get interrupted during that time. Hence, while he begins with a finishing move, said move takes a little over one hour to play out.
  • Overlord: Zero, the leader of the Six Arms, starts his fight with Sebas by using up all of his buffs at once before charging up his strongest attack and punching Sebas with all of his might. Sebas doesn't even bother putting up his guard, and the attack still fails to deal any damage. It's not that Zero is weak (not by New World standards, at least): it's just that Sebas is beyond the standards of the New World.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! likes to do this by having a character bring out their strongest card or some kind of game-winning combo as their opening play. Needless to say, this generally means that they are either going to win that turn, or that they are going to lose their strongest card (and possibly the duel) on that same turn.
    • In the original series, Ryuzaki and Haga bring out their two best cards, Insect Queen and Black Tyranno, on their first turns. They then get outdone at their jobs by Siegfried von Schroeder, who wins the game on the following turn.
    • Prince Ojin versus Saiou in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Ojin brought out his main card, Satellite Cannon, and used a combo to boost its ATK considerably and enable it to attack, which would clinch him the win on his first turn. Needless to say, not only did Saiou block the attack, but he used it to activate a combo of his own that redirected Satellite Cannon's attack to Ojin—winning the game before his first turn.
    • Also in GX, Doctor Collector versus DD. The Doctor uses a clever combo involving banishment-based cards to bring out five strong Spellcasters on his first turn, creating a field that will block all attacks, give him a sizeable amount of offense, and burn the opponent considerably with each turn, complete with a strong Trap for insurance. DD brings out Bloo-D—we don't see the resolution, but it's clear he won immediately after. We get another taste of this when Edo fights DD: Edo brings out his own ace monster, Dogma Guy, which is immediately consumed by Bloo-D on the next turn, showing he'll be in for a rough match.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Lawton has a deck that revolves around winning a first-turn kill with the card "Gatling Ogre" by Setting 5 cards to his Spell/Trap Zone then sending them all to the Graveyard with Gatling Ogre's effect to deal 4000 points of effect damage. This proved frighteningly effective against other opponents, so when Yusei dueled him, immediately after Lawton summoned Gatling Ogre, Yusei activated the effect of "Effect Veiler" in his hand targeting Gatling Ogre, negating its effect for the rest of the turn and forcing Lawton to Set the 5 cards in his hand and pass.

    Comic Books 
  • Astonishing X-Men: Cyclops' famous "I want this thing off my lawn" moment. The X-Men are attacked by a giant Sentinel robot. This would normally result in a controlled tactical escalation while working to minimise civilian casualties — but on this occasion the Sentinel has attacked them at the X-Mansion, and there's nothing in the line of fire except trees. So Cyclops simply takes off his visor and unleashes the full power of his optic blasts, leaving nothing but a crater.
  • Spider-Geddon: Invoked by the Superior Spider-Man, who tells Takuya Yamashiro that he should just use his finishing move, Sword Vigor, right at the get-go. Takuya protests that doing so would be dishonorable, but does so anyway to kill Solus and pay him back for having destroyed Leopardon in Spider-Verse.

    Fan Works 
  • Ashikabi of Thunder and Lightning: Amebane uses his Limit Break technique at the beginning of his fight with Shiina. He drastically overestimates his place on the power spectrum, so is hopelessly outclassed despite this.
  • Clone Story: Hikari's first move during her encounter with Orochimaru is to spawn shuriken inside of his heart. To her disbelief, he has the Healing Factor to shrug it off.
  • Compulsion (Lead Zeppelin): One of Alex's most consistent lessons to the new superhero Taylor is to hit as hard as possible with the opening attack.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z Abridged related "Cell vs." videos (where Big Bad Cell is challenged by various anime and video game characters in the week leading up to his duel with Goku to decide the fate of the world) some challengers try and pull this, with varying results:
    • The first to try is Ken Masters from Street Fighter: as soon as the bout begins, Ken launches into his super combo... and due to the unimaginable difference in power (Ken is barely above a Badass Normal on the Dragon Ball Z power scale, while Cell is a nigh-immortal Physical God who can blow up planets without even trying) Cell effortlessly parries every blow as soon as Ken goes to throw it. And then turns Ken into A Twinkle in the Sky with a punch that is probably a love tap for Cell.
    • Ken had come with Ryu, who, at the sight of his easy defeat, couldn't stop the Dark Hado from taking him over, turning him into Evil Ryu, who attacks with his most powerful move, the Shun Goku Satsu. By the time the screen is visible again, Evil Ryu is down and Cell is wondering what happened, having countered it accidentally. Then Ken falls down.
    • Later Light Yagami shows up, and since his ability is to kill anyone by writing their name on his Death Note he defaults to this. However he didn't note a cause of death, so the Death Note simply stops one of Cell's hearts. Cell then disintegrates Light.
    • Finally, there is Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, or rather its abridged version, whose style consists almost exclusively of these. Thus Kenshiro uses the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken, to Cell's hilarity given Kenshiro isn't much stronger than Ken Masters or Evil Ryu... Then the attack takes effect and Cell explodes. And then quickly regenerates, utterly pissed at the sheer pain Kenshiro put him into. And then Cell explodes again.
  • Ennea Series: Hawks' first move when facing Overhaul is to throw a feather straight into his eye. It doesn't work because of his Healing Factor but points for trying.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: Darth Nihilus does this twice during the fic's climax.
    • In "Vengeance", he opens up his fight with Adam Taurus by immediately trying to drain his life. In a flashback, this attack resulted in a One-Hit Kill on both occasions where Nihilus had used it. Unlike Nihilus' previous opponents, Adam is able to dodge the attack at the last second thanks to his natural Super-Reflexes.
    • He does it again at the start of the final battle in "Sorry". Since Nihilus knows that two of his opponents (Pyrrha and Ozpin) are powerful magic users, he drops his usual Smug Super act and doesn't waste time trying to toy with them, instead opting to kill them from the get-go by unleashing a massive Force Drain. Ozpin blocks the attack by using his magic to generate a forcefield.
  • In A New Jedi in an Old Republic, Tarkin opens the fleet action by firing all guns of his squadron at a single ship of Grievous' to gain not only the tactical advantage of having an enemy ship effectively start the fight destroyed, but also the psychological one in demonstrating that he could do that. It fails, as Grievous had ordered his expendable droid fighters to shield his fleet from such a stunt, but it costs him a hundred fighters and can't do it again as they're immediately engaged by Tarkin's manned ones.
  • Vow of the King: Ichigo's "fight" against Cirucci starts and ends with him impaling her and immediately blasting her with his Sword Beam.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Sofina begins the Final Battle by casting the 9th level spell Meteor Swarm. While the heroes are able to completely avoid the spell's effect, it shows how utterly furious she is at them for ruining her plan to turn Neverwinter's population into an army of undead thralls.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): When the Guardians confront Big Bad Ronan on his flagship, they immediately hit him with a missile from a BFG said to be capable of destroying moons. He emerges from the Smoke Shield completely unscathed, forcing them to use more creative measures.
  • Iron Man 2:
    • Rhodey points out that Tony should have used his deadly laser attack at the beginning of the battle. Tony's response is he was saving them, since they're one-time use only.
    • A moment later, when Vanko arrives, Rhodey decides to use his most powerful weapon immediately: the bunker buster missile "the Ex-Wife". It completely fails, bouncing off without exploding. When Tony asks if he got it from Hammer, Rhodey sheepishly admits that he did.
  • In both Karate Kid and its sequel series, Cobra Kai builds itself around the concept of "strike first, strike hard, no mercy". Based on Tang Soo Do and incorporating elements of Shotokan, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, and even American CQC, it focuses almost entirely on hard-hitting overwhelming attacks to brutally and mercilessly take your opponent down before they even have the chance to fight back.
  • Snatch.: Mickey likes to open his boxing matches with devastating haymakers to the face. In his first two bouts, this results in him knocking down his opponent on the first swing, which is a problem when he's supposed to throw the match.
  • Defied in Soldier after Captain Church says they should just Nuke 'em from Orbit. "My daddy always said, 'When you want to insert a nail into a piece of wood, don't do anything fancy or glamorous. Just take the damn hammer and hit the son of a bitch until it's in.'" He's overruled by a pompous Colonel who wants to use his new genetically modified soldiers, which leads to the deaths of the soldiers, the Colonel, and the Captain.

  • In The Archonate novel Majestrum, we see a flashback to a wizards' duel where one combatant begins by attacking with everything he's got, and doesn't have the slightest effect.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia: Early in his efforts to restore the Jedi Order, Luke Skywalker faces off against Gethzerion, a powerful Dark Side user who, unlike the Empire, has no interest in capturing or turning him. She immediately gives him a massive brain aneurysm and leaves him for dead.
  • Ender's Game: This is Ender's primary philosophy when it comes to fighting (and warfare): overwhelming shock and awe. Basically, thoroughly and savagely attack your enemy to the point where they never attempt any kind of retaliation out of outright fear.
    • Happens near the very beginning of the novel, when he's being picked on by bullies. He knows that they'll never leave him alone if he just takes their abuse, so he brutally beats (and, unbeknownst to him at the time, kills) the leader of the gang to intimidate the rest of the group.
    • In the Battle School, when he's confronted by a gang in the showers. He goads the leader into fighting him one-on-one, then proceeds to once again brutally defeat him. After that he gets a reputation as someone not to be messed with...
    • And finally, at the end of the book when he's leading the fighters in the simulation, he instructs a fighter to, instead of engaging the enemy fleet directly, to bypass it completely and just directly destroy the home planet of the enemy. Works better than expected...until it turns out it wasn't a simulation at all, but a real-time feed to the actual, real battle, and Ender just committed genocide against the alien race. Oops.
  • Harry Potter: Despite having plenty of other powerful spells up his sleeve, the Big Bad Lord Voldemort usually just fires a Killing Curse at anyone who dares oppose him.
  • The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious: Parodied when the Improperly Paranoid title character uses a There Is No Kill Like Overkill special attack as soon as he sees a low-level slime in the starter town, then firebombs the empty ground where it used to be for good measure.
  • In the science-fiction short story "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", the hero has to fight a much larger opponent who is also a trained-from-birth warrior monk. The hero puts everything into a single Death or Glory Attack, which fortunately works.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Moiraine is a powerful, talented, and versatile member of the Aes Sedai Magical Society, who uses a wide range of combat spells. The instant she sees one of The Dreaded Forsaken, she opens with the Dangerous Forbidden Technique of Balefire and utterly annihilates him.
    • Most of Rand's fights against the Forsaken involve tactical strikes and/or protracted Wizard Duels. When he locates Graendal, however, he drops a Fantastic Nuke on her stronghold without further ado. She teleports away by the skin of her teeth.

    Live-Action TV 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Sami Zayn kicked off Extreme Rules 2016 by Helluva Kicking Kevin Owens right in the face. The reaction shots of Miz and Cesaro, the other two competitors in the match, really make it.
  • Shawn Michaels started his match at Survivor Series 2009 with a Sweet Chin Music to Triple H, to send a message to their other opponent, John Cena. To make things more interesting, Triple H was Michaels' tag partner at the time.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was famous for this, especially in battles with many enemies (like a battle royal, where the entire ring is full of wrestlers hitting each other) and specifically with Mr. McMahon, in which his first move is none other than his Stone Cold Stunner.
  • Sting was forced to do this to Jeff Hardy at TNA Victory Road 2011 due to Hardy showing up intoxicated on muscle relaxers and in no shape to compete: he pinned Hardy with his signature Finishing Move after one minute and 28 seconds.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The combat system introduced in the third edition of Exalted can make this a fully-viable option, though not without risk. A Dawn Caste Solar who does well on their Join Battle roll could opening with Thunderbolt Attack Prana (a Charm that both lets you close the gap to your opponent and then double the damage on a decisive attack) and a bunch of combat Charms and either kill their target outright or leave them so badly injured that their wound penalties will leave them on the defensive for the rest of the fight. Or they'll miss with the attack, waste the Essence they used to fuel it, and lose a chunk of initiative because they missed a decisive attack.
  • The recharge system in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition encourages this by giving certain powerful attacks (such as a dragon's Breath Weapon) a single use, with a chance (usually 1/6 or 1/3) for the use to recharge each turn. Since you can't 'store' multiple uses, you're best off using the ability in the first round of combat since that gives you the highest chance of getting it again before the fight ends. Additionally, creatures' challenge ratings are calculated with the assumption that they will always use the most powerful attack available, meaning a lich is expected to open with finger of death or disintegrate, not magic missile or ray of frost.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate III: If the player character persists in taunting the eternal god-queen Vlaakith, she uses a Wish — the setting's most powerful Reality Warping spell — to strike down the entire party in a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Black & White 2:
    • A Creature can use its unique Finishing Move at the beginning of a fight if its opponent is far smaller or already wounded, virtually guaranteeing a one-hit knockout.
    • In the final level, the villains open hostilities by casting a Volcano on your town — the same top-tier Epic Miracle they use to destroy your capital city in the prologue. It's an unstoppable scripted event, but at least they don't aim it well.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter: After unlocking Ryu's D-Dive, it's possible to go dragon mode on the first turn and annihilate any enemy with his D-Breath... but doing so isn't recommended since if Ryu's D-Counter reaches 100% it's game-over.
  • Chrono Trigger: Big Bad Lavos' first form always uses "Destruction rains from the heavens!" (a Herd-Hitting Attack) as its first move.
  • In Dark Elf Historia, Vanessa usually uses all of her strongest magical attacks first, for all the good it does — by the time you fight her, you're likely to be too powerful for her to be defeated by a handful of magical attacks.
  • Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare: The Mechanic opens his fight with a sledgehammer attack that does a triple-damage Critical Hit, then switches to a wrench. At Level 13, he gains a Chain Lethality Enabler that lets him reuse the sledgehammer attack as long as he kills his target with it, allowing him to go on massive kill sprees.
  • Digital Devil Saga: If you enter battle with the Part 1 Optional Boss breaking one of his rules, you won't even get to see your battle menu open because he'll immediately cast Gaea Rage as soon as everyone finishes spawning, dealing several times the HP cap in damage to the entire party.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The insane, undead witch Alice Alisceon can't be reasoned with and begins combat with a devastating firestorm that can wipe out a closely grouped party in one hit. It's an immensely difficult fight compared to the rest of her quest, but at least the ability has a long Cooldown.
  • In DOTA 2 and other Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games, the entire point of the "Initiator" character type is to do this as a Dynamic Entry. Their job is to open a fight by jumping into the enemy team and firing off the biggest spell they have, aiming to incapacitate all (or at least most) of them for their teammates to clean up. Also common practice for most other character types, since if you don't use your best ability right away you might die before getting a chance to.
  • Elden Ring: Played With by Malenia, Blade of Miquela, the Super Boss of the game who enters her first phase by simply walking towards you in an ominous fashion and holding off on her ultimate ability, the Waterfowl Dance, until you bring her down to 80% HP or so. However, after you "defeat" her, her second phase, as Malenia, Goddess of Rot, opens with her other ultimate, Scarlet Aeonia, very likely killing you in a single hit as soon as the cutscene stops playing. This is because at the start of the fight, Malenia barely takes notice of you, since you are a lowly Tarnished and she is a warrior demi-goddess who has never been bested in combat. It's only after you defeat her regular techniques that she takes you seriously enough to tap into the Scarlet Rot — and to nuke you where you stand.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Initial Evil Gloating notwithstanding, the Necromancer Mannimarco opens the fight against the Player Character with a spell that would instantly kill and reanimate them. Fortunately, the previous quest wins the character an artifact that No-Sells the effect.
  • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth: The True Final Boss (Star Devourer), fought at the very end of the Bonus Dungeon (Empyreal Bridge), will begin the fight by performing a Total Party Kill with a skill called Full Burst. If you somehow survive this (i.e. using Hygieia's Bowl to fully protect the party), all parts of the boss minus the core will disintegrate, giving you a chance to inflict damage onto it while it spends the next turns regenerating the lost parts. Another option is disabling (i.e. binding or ailing) one or more of the parts in the first turn, since the Full Burst move will only work when all parts of the boss are available and active.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • There are a number of equippable "Craft Essences" for your Servants that give them a number of Noble Phantasm charge at the start of each battle; during the beginning of the battle you can also activate skills that give a certain Servant some NP charge, so that when they enter attack phase, their Noble Phantasm will be available at the first turn. Using this strategy is key to quick farming, as well as dealing a lot of damage on bosses in the first turn.
    • The Final Boss for Part 1 opens the fight with his Noble Phantasm, which is so strong that your frontline Servants are likely to die right away. Before the attack he uses a buff (among others) that makes his attacks pierce invincibility unless you use a "skill sealing" skill on him beforehand. Even then, you still need a invincibility/evasion buff (or hefty amount of attack debuffing/defense buff) to survive it.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V: The Optional Boss Shinryu always opens the fight with Tidal Wave/Tsunami, a powerful water-elemental attack that hits the entire party for massive damage.
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • The "Sneak Attack" materia lets you automatically cast a spell at the start of a battle. You can choose to have said spell be the ultimate summon, which will kill almost all enemies several times over.
      • Defied by the gargoyles, who No-Sell every attack until shortly after the battle has begun.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake: The best Magical Accessory in the game, Götterdämmerung, grants you a Limit Break at the start of each combat, allowing you to open up with your ultimate move.
    • In Final Fantasy X, characters build up Overdrive as they fight, to be released in a big, flashy attack. However, since Overdrive stays banked after a fight ends, it's a common tactic to raise it to max fighting Mooks before you go up against a boss. And against some bosses with an annoying initial form, blasting the Overdrive immediately can be the best strategy.
    • The first thing Zodiark from Final Fantasy XII will do is using Darkja, a powerful dark-elemental attack that hits whole party and has substantial chance to inflict Blindness and Instant Death. This is why players usually start fight with single party member, calling others in once this attack is over.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: the optional Duel Boss Menenius sas Lanatus begins his fight by summoning four invincible magitek bits which will open fire after a short delay, catching the player in a deadly crossfire. This attack is a One-Hit Kill unless the player uses a Light Curtain to reflect the shots back at the bits and destroy them, at which point Menenius decides to take the fight seriously.
  • Happens offscreen in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Ferdinand fancies himself The Rival to Edelgard, who is the heir to the throne of the Empire. They fight a duel upon reaching a B-Support ranking, and Ferdinand is stunned and dismayed that Edelgard defeats him almost immediately. She responds that she felt she had to use her best techniques right out the gate, because while Ferdinand was overconfident and too inexperienced to know what a real duel was like, he was also too good a fighter for her to take any chances.
  • Genshin Impact: While in the open world (including fighting bosses) you can always open a battle with an Elemental Burst. Certain places directly encourage this: in the Spiral Abyss domain and in some events like "Hypostatic Symphony" and "Energy Amplifier Initiation", your characters always start with their Elemental Bursts ready even if you have not collected energy for them before.
  • Golden Sun: By holding enough un-equipped Djinn, a character can unleash a powerful Summon attack, at the cost of those Djinn becoming unusable for several turns. An effective strategy for bosses throughout the series, up to and including Optional Bosses, is to un-equip all the party's Djinn before the battle and fire off every Summon available to take the boss down on the first turn. (However, since equipped Djinn provide stat boosts and abilities, any boss that isn't overwhelmed by the Summon barrage can easily take down the weakened party - and the final bosses of each game have multiple stages specifically to block this strategy.)
  • Granblue Fantasy: Characters with "C.A. Instant Standby" skills can have a full Charge Bar right at Turn 1, ready to unleash a Charged Attack.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic, the Armageddon spell is meant to be a Rage Quit mechanic, where you use an über-powerful spell that completely deals massive damage both your and your enemy's armies in the case of an unwinnable scenario. However, if you take along a creature that's immune to fire magic (e.g., Efreets, Fire/Earth Elementals, Phoenixes) or a creature that's immune to magic in general (e.g., Black/Gold Dragons, Magic Elementals, Battle Dwarves) you can nuke your enemy's army at the start of a battle without losing any of your own.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd:
    • Lightning Empress (one of Mei's battlesuits) has a passive skill where, if she's set as the leader on a team, she'll give her whole team 50/60/70 SP (depending on her suit's rank) at the start of the battle, letting the team use their Ultimate Skill sooner (especially if the team's members have Ultimate Skills that use 50 SP or less).
    • In Coop Multiplayer, Valkyrie Bladestrike (one of Mei's battlesuits)' Team Skill is to fill SP for the whole team the more they have done hits in their combos; this can be done at the start of a battle, letting them use their Ultimate Skills sooner. Valkyrie Chariot (one of Bronya's battlesuits)' Team Skill is to create a small Area of Effect that quickly fills the team's SP when they stand in it; this can also be done at the start of the battle. Valkyrie Chariot herself also has an Ultimate Skill that gathers enemies around with only 50 SP, so that beginning team stages with her Ultimate Skill (especially when there are a lot of enemies around) would greatly help with finishing the stage faster.
    • The QS and Dirac Sea modes automatically set the starting SP of all your Valkyries to 90 at the start of every fight, regardless of how much you were above or below 90 in the previous encounter. Needless to say, most Valkyries can either use their Ultimate Skill immediately or are close enough that they can gather the remaining SP to do so not long after the battle starts.
  • Honkai: Star Rail: Any accumulated Ultimate energy is carried over in between battles, so it's possible for a party member to enter a new fight with a readily-available Ultimate on their first turn. There's even an achievement to have all four current party members unleash their Ultimates on the first turn.
  • Iron Marines: The Dreaded Big Bad Nexus has a Meteor-Summoning Attack that causes a One-Hit Kill if any of the meteors hit your Tortugon. He attempts to use it at the very start of battle.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: Renne, Angel of Slaughter is quick to use her S-Craft in her boss fights in The Second Chapter, which can cause a Total Party Kill due to its high chance to inflict Deathblow.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the most powerful attack Link can learn is the Mortal Draw, which does critical damage while drawing the sword. Against unarmored foes, it can end a battle as soon as it begins.
  • Lords of Magic: Once a player using the Fire Faith learns Fire's ultimate attack spell, "Inferno", he'll most likely start every fight with it. Inferno does 2 times the spellcaster's Level Fire damage to EVERY unit on the combat map. A Level 6 or higher mage can kill just about anything besides warrior champions in 2 casts of Inferno. Sure the mage will die with the second cast but you'll usually kill far more than their value in enemy units. Plus Fire has the benefit of relatively cheap Sorceresses and magic creatures that have 100% Fire Resist.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions, Ludwig von Koopa explicitly states that he's going all-out right from the start. He gets the first (and only!) turn of the fight, not letting Mario and Luigi attack at all. Ludwig starts by launching a giant, slow-moving One-Hit Kill fireball into the air and then bombards the Bros. with smaller fireballs while the giant fireball arcs toward them. To survive, Mario and Luigi must use their hammers to fend off the barrage of smaller fireballs and then swat the giant fireball back at Ludwig, defeating him instantly.
  • Medabots: Metabee and Rokusho: A troublesome issue with the Final Boss. Since all three of the Mega Emperors start with full MF Gauge they'll blast both Ultra Shot and Spiral Bolt on their first turn if you don't block it.
  • Metroid Dread: Many major enemies and bosses can be dealt tremendous damage or killed outright if you slam into them with the Shinespark. There are ways to charge a Shinespark during or even right before some boss fights, causing extreme pain or skipping a phase entirely.
  • Minecraft: When a Wither awakens, it lets out a gigantic explosion that can be enough to kill players twice over depending on difficulty. Fortunately, players are given ample time and warning to get out of the area in the time it takes for a Wither to awaken after being constructed.
  • Mortal Kombat 11: Chapter 3 of the Story Mode has Liu Kang and Kung Lao face off against Geras, who is stealing from the Jinsei (the life energy of Earthrealm). When Geras states that Kronika intends to use it to remake history, Kung Lao responds by throwing his hat at him, chopping his head off, and catching it, complete with him wiping his hat off with two fingers and smirking.
    Kung Lao: That was easy.
    [Cue Geras's head turning into sand and reforming onto his body]
    Geras: I, Geras, am a fixed point in time. With every death and rebirth, I grow stronger!
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution: Downplayed in some game modes.
    • In Ultimate Jutsu mode, it's entirely possible to attempt an Ultimate Jutsu from the word go, but using it at the very start isn't likely to work; a character not caught in any other animation (or merely moving) can simply block it.
    • Instant Awakenings can be used from the get-go when playing in Awakening Mode, but the much more powerful True Awakenings require filling a Limit Break gauge.
  • Persona 3 and Persona 4 have their strongest Optional Bosses periodically cast a Megidolaon that will do 9999 damage to the party in a game where the HP cap is 999. However, if you start the battle breaking one of the unwritten rules, the very first action they'll take is this very One-Hit Kill attack. Even if you use a method to avoid dying to it, the boss will simply keep spamming it until you die.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time:
    • All-Star Zombies enter the field with a high-speed tackle, moving extremely quickly and one-shotting the first plant they meet (except Primal Wall-Nut). After tackling a plant, they move and eat as fast as any basic zombie, though much more durable.
    • Rodeo Legends will pause a bit, then run at your plants with a powerful and fast charge attack that will not only deal huge damage to the plant it hits (instantly killing most non-defensive plants), but is followed by throwing their rider imp forwards. If this happens near your house and you lack Tall-Nuts, that Imp will cost you a lawnmower, or worse, eat your brains.
  • Punch-Out!!: Mike Tyson (or Mr Dream) infamously opens his fight in the NES game's finale with his most powerful attack: 90 seconds of nothing but One-Hit Kill uppercuts. If you avoid them all, he'll switch to fighting you more traditionally, but he'll still pepper in the uppercut.
  • Shizuka, the final boss of Samurai Shodown (2019), will charge up a powerful energy beam the moment she enters her second phase. If you don't start blocking immediately, you'll lose a large portion of your health and be put at a severe disadvantage.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: The failure variant is used in one Boss Battle. The spectre begins the fight by attempting to cast a powerful Megido spell, which fizzles out since it doesn't have the Mana reserves to cast it. For the rest of the fight, it uses Mana Drain spells on your party until it has enough mana stockpiled to cast it properly.
  • Small Saga: The second fight against the Royal Blademaster has him use Fleche Fatale on his first turn, the same One-Hit Kill move he used on the player character Verm in their first duel. This time, Verm can either attack and fatally wound him before he gets the chance, or use Nimblefoot to dodge the attack entirely.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Dramatic Battle Mode in Street Fighter Alpha 2 (and Alpha 2 Gold) not only grants the player a full bar of meter right off the bat; it gives them (and their partner) infinite meter. Considering the final opponent in this mode is none other than Shin Akuma and fighters share a lifebar, this was probably the developers being merciful.
    • Alpha 3 is the first game in the series where the fighters begin a 1-on-1 match with the Super Combo Gauge full (translating to 3 bars of super meter), which allows players to whip out a LEVEL 3 SUPER as their first move. This includes Akuma's Shun Goku Satsu.
  • Time Killers: The player can attempt a Death Move at any time, so they have a chance to decapitate their opponent with their opening move.
  • In both Touhou Labyrinth games, Yuyuko has a nasty tendency to open the fight with Saigyouji Flawless Nirvana, a massive teamwide nuke that also carries a high chance of Instant Death, should you neglect your Death resist while gearing to tank the actual damage.
  • In Undertale, the final boss of the Genocide route, Sans, opens his fight by unleashing a huge barrage that's extreme even by the game's Bullet Hell standards. This is even more surprising since he also gets the first move in the fight, unlike every other enemy in the game. This turns out to be his second strongest attack—the strongest requires you to take his Schmuck Bait. If you lose the fight and try again, there's a chance he'll interrupt his intro speech to launch the attack.
    "Huh. Always wondered why people never use their strongest attack first."
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, the Flash Fencer skill Capable Hands fully charges the user's Talent Art gauge at the start of the battle once you've mastered the class*. This is particularly game-breaking on Noah because of his unique Talent Arts, especially Unlimited Sword, which lets him use Lucky Seven as basically a mini-Monado, complete with new Arts and passive effects that adapt to Noah's class role, which can include Invincibility and applying Doom with his normal attacks. While normally Unlimited Sword is balanced by its long charge up time, Capable Hands lets you use it immediately at the start of a fight and tear through most enemies (even those way above your level if they don't have Contractual Boss Immunity) in seconds. And conveniently, Noah just happens to be Flash Fencer's class inheritor, so the skill was practically designed with him in mind.


    Web Original 
    • "Luke Skywalker vs. Harry Potter" has Harry immediately try to cast the instant-death spell Avada Kedavra on Luke. Luke uses the Force to prevent the first spell from coming out, and easily dodges and blocks the following attempts at the curse.
    • As soon as the fight starts out in "Carnage vs Lucy", the latter immediately uses her psychic vectors to tear the former to shreds, an attack which would have normally killed most people in an instant. However, Carnage easily survives this thanks to his extremely powerful Healing Factor. Lucy still wins however as her vectors' nuclear capability proved more than enough to overpower Carnage's healing factor and disintegrate him.
  • Recommended by the Evil Overlord List:
    40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
  • Subverted by the Dragon Ball Z Abridged Broly special. When Broly starts immediately beating up Goku, Trunks, and Gohan, Goku thinks that Broly is starting the fight at full power. Then Broly reveals that he's taking it easy and just getting warmed up. Goku is left nearly speechless.
    Goku: [after he, Gohan, and Trunks are getting beaten easily at the start of the fight] Listen Broly, I don't want to tell you how to be the Legendary Super Saiyan, but you're not supposed to start all out. You're supposed to start small, and then work up to it.
    Goku: [weakly] ... oh. Good for you. Holy crap.
  • In Video Game Championship Wrestling, the match between Sans and Monokuma at Killscreen V began this way, with Sans interrupting Monokuma's monologue by using every single one of his signature and finishing moves in rapid succession.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, episode "It's Hokey Mon!" Mandy creates a monster that turns all the other monsters into slices of toast. It shows up while the other monsters are out destroying the city and immediately and simultaneously turns them all into toast. They are then eaten by a flock of hungry seagulls.
  • Referenced in Season 2 of Invincible. The first time Rex tries to fight a supervillain after getting out of the hospital and getting a new artificial hand, he starts off with his normal method of fighting, which is to charge small objects with energy and toss them at opponents as explosives. However, there's no sign that this is doing anything more than annoying the guy he is trying to fight. At the end of the fight, Rex finally decides to try out the Arm Cannon built into his artificial hand, and it takes down his opponent in one shot. A shocked Rex stares at it in disbelief for a moment and then says that next time he's starting by using the gun built into his hand instead.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Eclipsa opens her fight against a Solarian Warrior with Black Velvet Inferno, the same spell that instantly took down Meteora, the Big Bad of the previous season. Unfortunately, it harmlessly pings off the Solarian's armor.
  • Transformers: Generation 1: Computron is aware of his own stunted reaction time due to his immense processing power. Thus, when he does make his move, it's often a very decisive one based on a Fatal Flaw he notices in his opponents. For example, when he finds Abominus physically stronger than him in a direct grapple, his solution is to grab Abominus by the shoulders and vibrate him so hard his joints give out and forcibly disengage the Terrorcons.

    Real Life 
  • Falcons hunt their prey by opening with a high-speed dive, the momentum of which allows them to deal massive damage. If the attack misses or the prey survives, all subsequent attacks from the falcon are far weaker thanks to no longer having the momentum behind them.


Video Example(s):


Ikki vs Todo

Easily one of the most hyped single-stroke battles in history.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SingleStrokeBattle

Media sources: