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Cycle of Hurting

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The distressing scenario in a video game when you're caught in an inescapable Death Trap and have to watch your Life Meter gradually be reduced to nothing — or, if you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder, exhaust your supply of One Ups one by one as you keep respawning in a very unfortunate position.

This is basically what Mercy Invincibility (or Combo Breaker, or hitstun scaling in fighting games) is supposed to prevent. It can even be utilized as a cheap method of taking down enemies by attacking the moment they recover from being stunned, known as stunlocking.

This can be considered a Game-Breaking Bug when accidental.

Not to be confused with the Cycle of Vengeance or The Chain of Harm, two narrative tropes related to the philosophical concept that harmful interactions between individuals or groups easily begin to resemble this sort of self-perpetuating loop of harm. See also Unstable Equilibrium, a design feature that effectively rewards good performance or punishes poor performance.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: Chisel Barrage can break through Zangetsu's Blocking Stops All Damage guard, while his Artificial Stupidity keeps it up, and somehow, Zangetsu gets to move towards a little bit, but not attack. If Miriam has enough mana and the chisels hurt enough, Zangetsu might never get an attack in, meaning an easy No-Damage Run.
  • Metroid:
    • The original Metroid has a particular area deep inside Norfair where it's possible to fall into lava between two eyeball columns tall enough that you can't jump back out.
    • This trope is still heavily in play in the remake, Metroid: Zero Mission. The Mother Brain fight is just outright unfair at times with unpredictable turret fire and the Rinkas (the energy Cheerio things) which are constantly targeting you. You'd be lucky to stay standing in one spot for more than two or three seconds.
    • In Metroid II: Return of Samus, Samus hangs in air for a bit whether by falling, jumping or getting knocked into it, suffers noticeable knock back but has a very short Mercy Invincibility window. The small screen means you usually can't see much ahead, below or above her, Samus's weapons can't hit enemies off screen, and some areas are very cramped, meaning otherwise weak enemies can easily juggle her to death if you're not careful. Once you find an energy tank and the varia suit you can probably avoid outright death, provided you take care to keep that tank close to full.
    • The Hive Mecha from Metroid Prime floods the room with poisoned water except for a small platform in the center, and sends out War Wasps to knock you into it. Since this is the beginning of the game, you have neither a large supply of Energy Tanks nor the Gravity Suit, and thus, if the wasps knock you into the water, it's game over about 80% of the time, unless you somehow find a way to jump out. One of the biggest advantages of Sequence Breaking to fight Flagghra before the Hive Mecha is that the water becomes non-poisonous, though it will still impair your movement without the Gravity Suit.
  • Good luck living if you happen to get caught by the 11th or 14th colossi in Shadow of the Colossus; they'll ram into you the second you start getting up again, and again, and again... It's even worse than just instant death, because it takes a considerable amount of time until you actually run out of health and die and are able to reload the last save.
  • In Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, you can achieve this thanks to the quick save feature if you happen to quick save right before your inevitable death. Thankfully, the devs foresaw this and added an autosave feature at the start of every screen.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night:
    • Spikes of Doom are not immediately lethal, but some spike pits are arranged so that you can end up bouncing from one spike to another until reduced to Ludicrous Gibs. This becomes less of a problem later in the game, as you can simply turn to mist, or pause the game and equip the Spike Breaker Armor. The later games don't have this particular problem... but you're still likely to get petrified before landing in spikes, at which point you're pretty much boned. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin actually codes spikes specifically to ensure that this happensnote .
    • There is a room of rapidly spawning octopi, well known amongst some Muramasa power levelers, that can also be an example of this for anyone unlucky or clumsy enough to land on top of one in the middle of the pack and get tossed like a ragdoll until you die from the damage, or if you're lucky enough to fall outside and recover.
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is one of the most notable examples ever, really. While most of the noise around the game has been made about the obtuseness of the townspeople leading many people to consider it Nintendo Hard, the enemies always going into stun-lock whenever hit — which even includes Death and Dracula — suggests otherwise, or perhaps just a plain schizophrenically balanced game.
  • In The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Redeads in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are often accompanied by half a dozen goddamned mini-skeletons; the skeletons knock you down, when you get up the Redead paralyzes you and hits you with their BFS, then the skeletons hit you again, lather, rinse, repeat.
    • Swarms of ice keese, which will flap over, freeze you, and then freeze you again the instant you thaw.
    • Even after the final boss of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is killed, its arms still do damage — 1 heart, no Mercy Invincibility. If you happen to be in contact with them when you deal the final hit, you will get your health drained throughout its final speech.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
      • At Great Bay Temple, it's possible to aggro all of the Bonefish in any given room in such a manner that causes them to repeatedly attack you. Since the animation for Link climbing out of the water is slow enough that the mercy invincibility will wear off before it can complete, this can result in your health draining faster than you can get out of the water to avoid having your health drained. Fortunately, running out of health just makes you respawn at the last door you went through.
      • Near the 4th temple, there is a cave that contains a troubled and vengeful spirit. The ghost attacks Link on sight and he hovers over a pool of water. As the ghost plays his deadly music, Link takes damage on every tick. Should you jump into the pool during this time, Link will be unable to climb out because the damage tick knocks Link back into the water and Link's climbing animation is slower than the damage ticks he receives in this event. Link will eventually die and respawn. It's not a guaranteed death; it is possible to get out, but likely with a large amount of damage taken.
      • There are certain places in Ikana Castle where you can become trapped by several Redeads. You can pacify them with the right masks, but if you don't have any of the masks that can do this, you have little choice but to watch them repeatedly paralyze and then suck the life out of you until you die. (Thankfully, without using glitches, it's impossible to enter the area of Ikana until you have possession of one such mask.)
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if a Guardian sends Link ragdolling with a laser blast, they can lock onto him again while he's still reeling, giving him less than half a second to move by the time he gets back up. And they'll have closed the distance, so the blast might as well be hitscan. Good luck surviving much longer.
    • In Hyrule Warriors, "Juggling" is a special tactic that requires knocking an enemy into the air and keeping them airborne by continuously performing attacks with little starting or ending lag. The primary benefit is that the airborne enemy cannot block or dodge until they touch the ground which makes this the best way to whittle down an enemy captain's or enemy playable character's health to nothing. The lightning element is specifically dedicated to increasing the damage output of juggling attacks.
  • The Oregon Trail II's river-rafting minigame sometimes respawns you right behind a rock, causing you to repeatedly hit it until you drown.
  • In the "Eke Reloaded" pack (and its old predecessor, the Eke Pack) of Clonk, this is what makes stippels dangerous. A stippel dies after one, or at maximum three hits from any firearm, and its bite deals mere Scratch Damage, but in masses, they tend to fling you against a wall with the Knock Back of their bite and stunlock you. If you don't have a jetpack or something to kill all of them in one hit, Death of a Thousand Cuts is certain.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury, if you return to Hercule City after beating the game, you can still fight the enemies around the carnival area. There's also a golden tank in front of the tent. Even though any of the characters can destroy it in a few punches, if it pushes one against a wall, they constantly take damage and can't move from being stuck in the flinch motion. At this point in the game, everyone's defense is so high that the tank only does 1 point of damage on every touch. Plus most of the characters' HP is well over 1000, so watching them die could take a while. The only way to escape is to restart, and God forbid you have a Lazarus crystal...
  • The combat in the Little Big Adventure games is pretty frustrating because of this, as Twinsen will reel back uncontrollably any time he takes damage and can still get hit while doing so, often leading to an endless loop until his health runs out.
  • In the Sundown Path level of Bastion, the tiles in the ground disappear over time. Falling causes you to take a bit of damage, go prone, and land on a nearby piece of ground — which is likely to fall down again before you're able to move.
  • Can easily happen in Ecco the Dolphin, if you get lost in one of the underwater tunnel areas, or trapped by the hold of the giant tentacle in some levels and can't figure out how to get loose from it.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, it's possible to get mobbed by enemies, knocked down, and then wailed on repeatedly as you try to get back up.
  • The lawnmower guys in Toe Jam And Earl are notorious for milking this trope for all it's worth. The game only grants Mercy Invincibility after you die, so because they're fast and persistent, once you get hit, you'll just keep getting hit until you die. They'll go away for a second, but as soon as you respawn, they'll be all over you again, ready to land another cheap kill as soon as the after-death invincibility wears off. Unless you've got a present that can let you escape quickly once you respawn, rinse and repeat as you watch your lives slowly dwindle away to nothing.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, this can happen against Margaret Moonlight on higher difficulty levels. Her sniper shots are strong enough to knock you down, and she reloads quickly enough that you'll get hit right after you get up again, although depending on where you are and how much health you have, the knockback might eventually push you out of her range.
    • Alice Twilight also has a dangerous stun lock move — if you stay too far away from her when she's standing on her pole, she'll chuck her katanas at you, which will knock you down if they hit. She'll then reload them just to throw them again just as you stand up. In addition, she has a close range attack where she'll slam down, flooring you, just to stand back up and do it again.
  • Tokyo Jungle: Act 12 pits your Tosa against a Smilodon boss that has a unique attack involving spinning and then pouncing on the player. If you fail to dodge even once, it may spam the attack until it kills you or at least does a lot of damage. There is another boss right after this one (hyena), and if you fail, you have to fight this Smilodon again. There is another story mode level that pits you against two Smilodons, but this fight is ironically much easier because you're given a far better animal (a robotic dog).
  • [PROTOTYPE] loves to throw a lot of attacks and enemies at you, especially in the later stages. This can lead to instances where a Hunter knocks you away, just for you to recover roll into a tank blast, only to be swatted out of your subsequent recovery roll by a completely different Hunter. The Leader Hunter in particular has an attack where it repeatedly slams its fists as it advances towards you, which can easily lock you in a stun combo.
  • In Legacy of the Wizard, several places with spikes and pits can become this if you don't have the means or don't know how to escape. The bottom-most area of Pochi's dungeon comes to mind.
  • Spider-Man (2000) features a basement level with a giant furnace. Falling into the fire causes your health to slowly drain, but it's impossible to move Spider-Man in any way while he's taking damage. One slip and you'll have to watch Spidey slowly and painfully burn to death.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • Enemies in Battletoads use the same quick jabs + finishing knockdown punch combo as you do. If you get stuck between two of them, you're hosed; they'll both continually jab at you without ever throwing the last punch, chipping your life down to zero while you can't react.
  • In the arcade Double Dragon, the Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom at the beginning of the final mission kill you in two hits and also knock you backwards. Thus, you get hit once, knocked into the path of another moving block, lose a life, get hit again, repeat until Game Over (and you're probably on your last life by this time anyway). The same thing can happen with the gargoyle spears.
  • The biggest danger in Dynasty Warriors games and their derivatives. An enemy officer on his own is usually no more than an annoyance, even if he has soldiers with him. A small group of officers, however, can lock you into an almost permanent juggle. Combine this with fire elemental weapons (which drain your health so long as you are in the air), and you can see your health go down surprisingly quickly, all while being able to do nothing. This is apparent in the first PSP game, where the AI often goes all out and rarely blocks.
    • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a chronic offender because every Mook unit in the game has a ranged attack as its basic strong attack (IE, pressing triangle once on a Playstation controller). These can be beams, machine gun bursts, or bazooka shells, but the composition is irrelevant—at lower levels, such shots just splash off your Ace Custom's armor with hardly a scratch. At higher difficulties, though getting hit in the air next to a group of mooks and a wall (invisible or otherwise) is a recipe to watch your suit get nibbled to death without so much as an escape opportunity due to the sheer volume of fire putting your suit in a state where the 'Escape Dash' function is not available.
  • Completely possible in Castle Crashers, as seen here.
  • A famous glitch in Godzilla: Monster of Monsters! will have Gezora trap you in the corner and repeatedly slap you with his tentacles until the timer runs out and takes you back to the board. Depending on how much health you have left, this is either an annoyance, or a chance to go to another stage, get some health power-ups, then return to fight Gezora again.
  • An especially annoying example occurs in the Sega Master System port of Streets of Rage 2, where the enemies will frequently hit you the instant you get back up and will continually do this until you lose a life.
    • The 3rd game added a slowly replenishing meter that allows Special Attacks — the one thing you can use to prevent this trope from happening when ganged up on — without costing any health. To keep this from becoming too strong and risk free an option, some enemies were given rapid fire attacks that both stunlock you and drain your health away fast, forcing you to use them fairly frequently.
  • In Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, this can end up happening to both you or your enemies, and like most games, this is infuriating if it happens to you. Homura is the worst offender of stun-locking you, although Mirai comes in as a close second because of her long-range attacks.
  • Every single non-vehicle enemy in Ride to Hell: Retribution can be stunlocked by the forward launching kick. Including bosses.
  • The converse (using hit stun to prevent an enemy from ever hitting you) happen a lot in beat 'em ups. The most famous example is probably Final Fight, where Cody's infamy for doing this (jab two times then turn away from the enemy and jab so it resets the combo but doesn't let the enemy escape — although all three characters are capable of doing this in some way) was turned into a Super Combo by the time of Street Fighter Alpha 3.
  • X-Men (1992) has a brutal one with Stage 7's boss Mystique disguised as Magneto when playing in 1 player mode. If you are already on the ground knocked out and in walking range, Mystique as Magneto will quickly kick you immediately with no timing window to rebound until you die. During this fight, players will forcefully use all of their Mutant Power until they are 1 HP to mitigate that problem; at least if the player gets attacked, they have done at least a few hits of damage rather than none at all.

    Driving Games 
  • In Driver, getting spun out leaves you a sitting duck to be rammed to death by the other cops chasing you. This rears its ugly head on the first game's final mission, The President's Run, where your wanted meter starts at max, so the cops drive at maximum speed, while you're stuck with a slow limousine. On slippery icy roads that don't affect the cops' handling.
  • In Twisted Metal 2, each enemy vehicle AI uses only a few specific weapons but uses them all the time. Two of them (Mr. Slam and Mr. Grimm) include the freeze missile in their rotation at a rate of fire well beyond what a player can achieve. If either one hits you with a freeze missile and you don't have enough initial speed and inertia to coast out of the danger zone while frozen, you'll find yourself trapped in place getting frozen over and over and over with no way to escape while having your life very slowly chipped away by machine gun fire.
    • In Twisted Metal III, the first boss's (Darkside) special is a flamethrower/freeze missile combo which he likes to spam and has seemingly infinite ammo. If you get unlucky, being hit by it guarantees you'll lose one of your extra lives.
    • Twisted Metal Black is the king of this. Prepare to be stuck and beaten to death at any given moment. They synchronize attacks with yours to screw them up. Use Minion's special? They'll freeze you with Computers Are Fast reflexes. Use Mr. Grimm's? They'll hit you with a rico and tilt you or with a power missile and stun you. It never ends.
    • Sweet Tooth as the Final Boss in TM 4 has a homing attack that follows you through walls, paralyzes you, and pummels you to death.
    • In Vigilante 8 and its sequel, outright stunlocks are rare, but Molo's choking exhaust can stall an enemy and deal enough damage to wreck them if you have enough special weapon ammo, though this is very hard to pull off because he's a lumbering bus and the exhaust is at the back. Also, there is an infinite loop on one of the Second Offense maps where cars that fall into a water hazard respawn right in front of the water where you can repeatedly blow them in again with Convoy's horn blast weapon.

    Fighting Games 
  • Infinite combos in fighting games are this. Due to what is almost always likely an oversight, some characters are able to chain a sequence of attacks where they recover faster from their attacks than the opponent out of hitstun. Even with games have preventive measures against infinite combos, sometimes even that gets worked around. The legality of infinite combos in fighting games are treated as a case-by-case basis: some ban them because of their unsportsmanlike nature and how games can hinge on who can land their infinite first, some keep them legal due to the extremely high execution it requires. Some infinite combo bans are conditional, such as not allowing players to use them to stall matches.
  • Guilty Gear:
    • Until it was nerfed, Sol Badguy's infamous Dust Loop was a textbook example of this. Now the ability belongs to Eddie's corner screw potential.
    • Worse still, the Dust Loop made a triumphant return in Accent Core Plus, but this time not for Sol. Instead, EX Order-Sol (more or less GG1!Sol with added stats from #Reload) received it. The cycle of TEYAH! lives on.
    • Harder to utilize without proper execution but just as deadly is Slayer's Bite Loop with his command throw, an intricate sequence using forward dash cancelling to continuously bite and stun the opponent, then following up with a few choice attacks to dizzy them, ensuring an Instant Kill to end the round. It was nerfed in #Reload (Slayer could only get off 6 or 7 bites as opposed to the required amount, which was usually 10+), but remains a viable tactic due to the large amounts of Tension it nets him, plus its health regen properties.
    • Xrd -SIGN- saw the return of both the Dust Loop and Zato/Eddie's 50/50 unblockable Touch of Death corner combos, much to the dismay of many players. Naturally, the next installment, -REVELATOR-, toned down the absurdity once again.
  • Guilty Gear's Spiritual Successor BlazBlue saw the baton passed to Carl and his infinite Clap Loop (in Calamity Trigger, at least).
  • Jinpachi in Tekken 5, if luck isn't on your side. Stun, fireball, stun, fireball, die, throw controller.
  • Virtua Fighter 2 has the Pai Loop, so called because a close-range high-kick from Pai, if repeated, is uncounterable by anyone except Akira (and even that requires frame-perfect timing). The good thing about this is that CPU opponents rarely if ever accomplish this loop, but a cheap player...
  • Super Smash Bros. has a few infinite combos at the pro level, such as chain grabs (most notoriously from the Ice Climbers). In the original game's Hyrule stage, the "Rapetent" allows many characters to pull off infinite combos.
  • Because of the way new characters enter the fight following a down in Marvel vs. Capcom (unlike a raw tag, there is no entry attack so the character simply jumps into the battle defenseless), aggressive opponents can lord over the entry point and meet the new character with a mix-up or a combo setup, which means the player who just lost a character has to contend with potentially eating another combo just because they lost their first character. The similarly structured Dragon Ball FighterZ remedies this by having a short cinematic of the replacement character hitting the battle and clashing with the opponent in the middle of the stage before both characters jump backwards and stand as they were at the beginning of the fight, thus protecting the entering character from being mixed up on start.
  • Dan in Street Fighter V, in a move that proves that he's a true Lethal Joke Character, was able to use a series of medium/heavy punches and a puny light Gadoken with V-Skill 2 to taunt cancel his moves into an infinite combo. While the timing is very strict and requires the exact right position at the corner, it was the only true touch-of-death infinite combo in the game. Capcom nerfed the infinite in a very unusual way: Dan now has a random chance to fire an enhanced Gadoken, which is a buff in almost every other scenario but makes him unpredictably drop his combo loop.
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3 is notorious for its Crouch Cancel infinites. If you launch your opponent into the corner during a Custom Combo, the next attack that hits them will grant an incredibly long juggle window. If you hit the opponent with an aerial, hold down as you land, then jump again before the crouch animation ends, you'll bypass the neutral state, which prevents the juggle window from ending. If you're quick enough, you can use this to juggle your opponent until they're KO'd or you run out of time.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • In Left 4 Dead, if you've been pinned by a hunter or smoker and nobody's available to save you, there's little to do except watch your health drain. On lower difficulties, it can take a decent while to actually get killed in this situation.
    • Being hit by a Tank's attack stuns your character for a moment, making them unable to move or use a weapon. This can get incredibly annoying as you are struggling to get away or trying to reload and get stuck in a cycle of being hit, reloading, being hit, having to start the reload over, repeat. Did you get cornered? You might as well shoot yourself to save you the trouble if you could.
      • This is the main power of common infected as well, locking your character in place until you kill every zombie in the tight circle around you. Easy to do with weapons and the shove attack, except if you're in the state of climbing a ladder, whereupon you are at the mercy of your teammates eliminating the threat.
    • And the sequel, of course, brings us the Spitter - so woe betide any foursome that gets charged in a narrow hallway while a Spitter's nearby.
    • A variety of cooperative first-person shooters in Left 4 Dead's vein has similar "special" enemies inflicting helplessness upon a player they hit. They exist as an intuitive way to encourage players to actively stick together and, well, cooperate so as not to lose from being rendered unable to play. Naturally, some players still don't.
  • Halo:
    • It's even worse if you never run out of lives; in co-op, you can spawn into a pit infinitely. Fortunately, it's only an unbreakable cycle if your partner's a jerk - as soon as they move, you'll spawn in a different spot.
    • Unfortunately, it is an unbreakable cycle in Halo: Combat Evolved's single player. There are spots where a checkpoint can register while you're in the process of falling off a cliff. All you can do is restart the level, so that's a good two hours of work down the toilet if you're playing Legendary. However, dying enough times at a checkpoint in later games, regardless of whether you're falling down a pit or not, will throw you back a checkpoint. Not particularly a bad thing, but some of the game's checkpoints are widely spread out, making getting back to that particular section a little more difficult.
    • In later games, since charged plasma shots temporarily paralyze vehicles, enemies or other players can repeatedly do this while cherry tapping you to death with plasma pistol or rifle shots, as well as leaving you a sitting duck for One-Hit Kill attacks such as those from Hunters or Wraiths.
  • Doom: There are many inescapable pits of poison or lava. If you fall in, you can either wait until it drains all your health, or just reload your last saved game. Some pits have a way out hidden inside, or even some bonus items as a reward for taking the plunge (good thing falling doesn't actually hurt you).
  • Doom³: Some enemies such as Pinky Demons and Shotgun Z-Secs can stun-lock you, especially if you're trying to reload.
  • Descent:
    • In some levels on Insane difficulty, Demonic Spiders such as Red Hulks and Class 2 Missile Platforms can pin you in the starting area and blow you away every time you respawn, similar to multiplayer spawn-camping, or otherwise prevent you from reclaiming the weapons you droped wherever you died.
    • Descent 2 has a small room with 5 force field walls and an invulnerability powerup, but a sixth wall activates when you grab the powerup. There are several switches to disable the field, but flying into a field before you've shot all the switches to disable the extra field causes you to rebound uncontrollably off the walls until the invulnerability wears off and you're forced to watch youself take gradual damage until you die.
  • In GoldenEye (1997) and Perfect Dark, you are stunned and knocked back when hit. If you'e being shot by a large group of enemies, they can stunlock you to death, especially on 00 Agent.
  • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 often has this when stuck under a descending elevator.
  • Glider PRO isn't too smart about respawning gliders in safe spots. Respawning locations are either fixed or where the glider entered the room. If the latter happens to be inside the floor, you'll lose all your lives; this is a Game-Breaking Bug on one house released on the Glider PRO CD.
  • Call of Duty 2 has a segment where you had to defend a town from a large group of German mortar teams. Your play area is confined to the small tower you have to snipe from. If you aren't able to take out the enemies fast enough, the game can sometimes autosave just before a mortar shell lands directly on top of your head.
  • Get flashbanged in a Modern Warfare game on Veteran, and watch helplessly as the enemy takes you out execution-style when you regain your vision. As in other Call of Duty games, an autosave can be triggered in an imminent death situation or otherwise bad position.
  • Tron20 - Due to the relative scarcity of checkpoints, you will be using the autosave frequently. Unfortunately, it is also just as easy to hit that autosave at exactly the wrong moment (like during a fall or when you're about to lose at a Protection Mission), meaning you have to play the entire level over again.
  • Overwatch has Mei, whose Freeze Ray first stops you in your tracks by gradually freezing your movements to a standstill only to carefully aim at your head and dish you out with an icicle, which kills most Heroes in the roster. The most terrifying thing about being killed in that way is that very often you will see Mei smile as she looks you in the eyes before your demise.
  • The Drill in Bioshock 2 can stunlock almost any enemy in the game while doing consistent damage, and with enough fuel you can usually kill most any enemy you can get close enough to use it on. The catch is that the game rarely puts you in one-on-one fights, and you're a sitting duck as long as you're using it.

    MOBA Games 
  • Defense of the Ancients has the Cranium Basher, an item with a chance to stun the target on every melee attack. Get enough attack speed and the unfortunate enemy player is unable to do anything. Changes were made to prevent endless stunlock, but you can still achieve near-endless stunlock instead and when you throw in a few allies with some of the many X second stun spells in the game it's pretty much GG for the enemy. Note that, while the Cranium Basher cannot endlessly stunlock an enemy (the stun has a cooldown that's longer than the stun itself), heroes with built-in bashes (such as Faceless Void and Slardar) can theoretically do so if they have enough attack speed and get lucky with the RNG, as there's nothing stopping them from getting another stun before the first one wears off.
    • Stunlocking was a common complant for players due to its RNG nature, and while it's not the only RNG element in the game, it was the most noticable and potentially game-changing. Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth handled the issue differently. Dota 2 uses pseudo-random distribution, so while getting something to proc multiple times (or not at all) in a row is possible, it's highly unlikely. On the other hand, HoN uses far less RNG effects, with some older chance-based effects being changed to activate on a cooldown.
    • A particularly sad (yet hilarious) example can result from Clockwerk's Battery Assault ability, which mini-stuns a nearby enemy at regular intervals for its duration. If he manages to catch a hero whose cast animation for spells is longer than the interval between stuns, he can potentially lock the enemy into their cast animation and chip them to death as they try fruitlessly to cast a spell.
    • Woe betide anyone who gets caught with exactly 1 teammate by Witch Doctor's Paralyzing Cask, which hits the first guy and stuns him before bouncing to the second, then stuns that guy and bounces back to the first... Especially since he'll most likely be using the opening to channel a Death Ward to kill both of them off before the Cask runs out of bounces.

  • In Guild Wars it's possible for a group of monsters to patrol or be lured to a resurrection shrine where they can trap players in a cycle of spawning and dying, creeping closer to the death penalty cap each time. The only ways to escape are to whittle your opponents down between wipes until you beat them or map travel back to an outpost.
    • This cycle has actually been exploited by some players due to NPC enemies gaining XP when killing players and eventually leveling up. This in turns makes them yield more XP when killed.
  • Perfect World has this... sort of. There is a certain status effect called "Stun", which keeps you from moving or attacking for a few seconds. Axe-using Blademasters have three stunning moves, and some people have figured out how to chain them in a certain way that keeps their enemies from moving forever. If you happen to be in PvP mode, well, I hope you brought a resurrection scroll, a good cleric, or, if you're a Barbarian, some popcorn, cause this'll take a while.
  • In World of Warcraft, if a rogue gets the first hit on someone, it's pretty much over. There are a couple of ways to break a stun, but all they have to do is reapply it again and again and again and again...
    • Certain stuns (as well as crowd control) have diminishing returns, so that after four instances of a similar ability (each application being reduced by 25% in duration) you are immune within 1 minute of the first application. However, if you don't wear plate by then you're pretty much screwed anyway...
    • Battlegrounds have fixed graveyards where players spawn. In some, mainly Alterac Valley, positioning a group at the graveyard to kill enemies as they resurrect is seen as a valid tactic as it prevents them from participating in actual objectives.
    • The original version of Zul'gurub had a room full of trolls and tigers. The trolls have a whirlwind type ability that can be that can apply a 2 second stun which refreshes every 1.5 seconds. The trolls can stagger their usage of the ability keeping the player stunned while being wailed on by a number of tiger cubs. While not dangerous for raids, solo players of much higher level could be slowly killed without fighting back.
    • The Essence of Desire phase of the Reliquary of Souls in Black Temple can keep a solo character permanently stunned.
    • Shannox in Firelands has a pet dog named Rageface whose special ability is "Face Rage", jumping on a player to stun them and tear them apart. The only way to break free is for another character to hit the dog hard enough. While simple for raids, solo players without a pet can end up trapped on the ground without any ability to fight back.
    • Beth'tilac, also in Firelands, spawns a large number of spider adds who can channel a long stun. While this can be dealt easily enough, solo players who don't clear the adds will find they take turns applying the stun and do so immediately on it ending. If enough are active it's possible to be trapped for several minutes until killed.
    • Firelords and Molten Giants in Molten Core have silence and knockdown attacks that recover about as fast as their duration. Once again, solo players who rely on magic can be prevented from attacking completely if these get too close.
  • In Phantasy Star Online, casting Deband (raises the defense of yourself and allies) and/or Jellen (lowers enemy attack) can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help on higher difficulties where enemies both move and attack very fast. A strong enough attack will knock your character to the ground and give them some brief Mercy Invincibility upon getting back up, while the weaker attacks do neither. If you're buffed and surrounded by debuffed enemies on one of the higher difficulties, then they can juggle you back and forth, attacking too fast for you to break free, and not doing enough damage per hit to knock you down.

    Platform Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) does this embarrassingly often during the Boss Fight against Silver. It's perfectly possible for him to grab you with his telekinesis, throw you across the stage and take all your rings, then grab you again before you can react for an instant kill. Even worse, if Silver gets you right next to wall, you'll be locked into a never-ending Hell of repeatedly losing and then re-collecting the same ring.
  • It's possible to end up in such positions in I Wanna Be the Guy, such as falling into a deep pit in the process of shooting a save point, so that death is inevitable by the time the bullet hits it and saves the game.
    • The evil save point at the end of the game turns evil again when you restore, so if you saved so that respawn in the middle of it, you're screwed.
    • The fangame Pickory lets you undo saves for precisely this reason.
  • In Impossamole, Monty's Mercy Invincibility doesn't protect him from being knocked back by Spikes of Doom, so you can end up being bounced back and forth in certain areas.
  • Thing On A Spring just loves to throw inescapable DeathTraps at you, filled with floating enemies and/or electric beams that slowly drain your oil energy-meter. In the worst case, the trap is just an empty hole where you have to watch the oil-meter depleting by itself at a painfully slow pace. But if the trap has a low-hanging ceiling, you're at your own mercy to drain the oil yourself by rapidly jumping and ramming your head against the walls, chipping the oil away bit by bit!
  • Because of the way extra lives work in Blinx: The Time Sweeper, it's quite easy to land yourself in one of these. When you lose a Retry, the game rewinds everything, including you, by a few seconds. Of course, if you were already stuck during those seconds, you have no choice but to restart the level.
  • Ninja Gaiden (NES) has this, owing to the lack of Mercy Invincibility. In levels overloaded with Goddamned Bats, such as the first game's Stage 6-2, they can juggle you until you run out of HP or fall into a Bottomless Pit.
  • In Spelunky, yetis, Chieftains, and unarmed shopkeepers attack by throwing the player. Occasionally, they will toss the player against a wall only to rebound back into the enemy who then tosses the player into the wall again only for the player to rebound back into the enemy... you see where this is going. To add insult to injury, they'll continue doing this even after the player has died, only stopping once the character has been gibbed or the player exits to menu.
    • This can also happen with an object (such as a rock) bouncing on a bounce pad (found commonly throughout the Ice Caves level). If it hits you, you are temporarily stunned, which lands you on the bounce pad, where you then continue to get hit by said object until you die, getting re-stunned each time and unable to move off the bounce pad.
  • In Altered Beast (1988) there is no Mercy Invincibility. This is especially bad on the third level, which has Bottomless Pits, which you often spawn right next to, on top of an enemy. Rinse, repeat.
  • In Atlantis no Nazo, if you take the wrong door in one stage, you wind up in the 42nd Zone, "Black Hole!" It's basically a giant Bottomless Pit which you fall into as many times as you have lives remaining.
  • In Iji, the most powerful weapons (specifically, the Nuke, Velocithor, and Phantom Hammer) bypass your Mercy Invincibility, specifically to prevent you from deliberately taking damage from a weaker attack to avoid them. The Nuke and Phantom Hammer are single-shot weapons, but the Velocithor produces a continuous beam, so if you get caught in it, your continually-restarting knockdown animation prevents you from doing anything beyond pausing the game. The good news is that the Velocithor is only used by two people besides yourself, and one of those is hidden. The bad news is that, on the harder modes, the beam can last longer than even a completely full health bar.
  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Console), some of the toxic plants in the Compy levels are positioned so that if you land between them you'll get bounced back and forth by recoil damage until you die. In the first Raptor level, some of the human hunters come equipped with nerve gas, which stun-locks you and deals massive damage. The hunters have a habit of waiting until you're stuck in a pit or have fallen through a collapsing balcony before firing multiple canisters at you.
  • In Mega Man X series, it's often easy to keep the bosses in a loop with the weapon they're weak at, especially if they tend to perform a specific action after getting hit by a weakness weapon; basically a case of tricking the AI. But the worst case of it is Spark Mandrill of the very first game - his weakness weapon is Shotgun Ice, which will freeze him if it hits; it's possible to hit him again with it as soon as he comes out of his frozen state, outright stunlocking him in the process.
  • What makes Koindozer from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! such a Demonic Spider is that if he runs into you, or you don't land perfectly on top of him, he'll lock you into a cycle of getting bounced off his shield repeatedly until you fall into a Bottomless Pit.
  • Jet Set Willy:
    • In the first game, when you died, you started your new life where you entered the current room. Unfortunately, if you had just fallen to your death from the room above, prepare to watch helplessly as every single one of your remaining lives goes splat.
    • The sequel would restart you on the last solid surface you were on. Which was arguably worse, since half the time you would repeatedly respawn on top of a monster. Hello, Rage Quit!
  • Earthworm Jim: In the final level, Jim has to drop down a narrow hole lined with Spikes of Doom. If he hits one spike, he takes damage and his animation bounces him into the next spike, which he gets hurt again. His Mercy Invincibility is extremely brief, so more likely than not you will bounce off the spikes until you die if you can't reorient yourself.

    Puzzle Games 
  • If you're very unlucky, Paganitzu episode 1 can end up in a cycle like this, as a result of dropping your hat. The hat persists even after dying and restarting the level, and will disrupt the paths of spiders, so on levels like 13 and 14, where there's no obstacle between you and the spiders, it's theoretically possible to have them come at you and kill you faster than you can retrieve the hat, over and over again until you run out of lives.

  • Ancient Domains of Mystery had enemies that paralyze on a hit. In earlier versions of the game, such enemies could paralyze the player for an extended period of time, where at least one player had to hold space to wait for the character to die.
  • Angband has enemies that paralyze. Older versions had infinite paralysis cycles, with a change in version 2.8.2 to guarantee that paralysis inflicts a minimum of 1 damage to avoid infinite paralysis without death.
  • In the early days of Darkest Dungeon, it was a common exploit to kill all enemies of a group save for the weakest one, and then stun it repeatedly. Not only did this allow for healers to do their job with absolute impunity, the player could go for repeated crits on the stunning attacks, as those mean a party-wide stress heal and could be spammed several times since stunning attacks typically deal low damage. This was later all but completely eliminated, both by stressing the heroes out if they're in a regular fight for too long, and applying a 20% and later 40% buff once the stunned character (be it hero or enemy) skips their turn that can stack if the character is successfully stunned again.
  • If you get knocked out by pain during a fight in Dwarf Fortress, you are over. The enemy will keep hitting you until you die a Death Of A Thousand Bruises, which is, obviously, painful.
  • In Noita, if the player takes damage while flying they can become Dazed, causing them to fall to the ground and temporarily lose the ability to move. This leaves them vulnerable to additional attacks which can also cause Dazed if attempting to fly to safety, preventing any attempt to escape.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Due to certain bugs in the first two Fallout games, it's possible to have a save game stuck in an area full of previously non-hostile people, who will now all be hostile and in combat from the beginning of each load. A sure kill for non-combat or squishy players.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Your character can glitch out in VATS and be unable to fire back while the enemy hacks away at you. Also, certain enemies can knock the player down; if they are attacking in a group, this can result in fatal stunlock. Third, as with many other games, the game can autosave right before or when the player receives a killing blow, leading to a looping death reload. This glitch also occasionally happens in Fallout 3.
    • The golf clubs in New Vegas can turn a fight into a Cycle of Hurting for whoever's against them because of the "Fore!" special ability. Its damage is only average, but always knocks the target down, probably to represent the inherently debilitating effects of taking a 9-iron shot between the legs. Anyone hit by it stays down for longer than it takes to wind up another swing, so by the time the victim finally gets up, you are ready to use "Fore!" again. This can turn one-on-one melee fights against human enemies into a post-apocalyptic rendition of "Ow! My Balls!" Unfortunately, this can go both ways, with the player getting knocked down by constant "Fore!" hits regardless of armor. This is best exemplified by the terrifyingly fast and tough King Mook Driver Nephi, who employs a custom driver club and can tank waves of rifle rounds and buckshot to get up close enough to start the cycle and if you want the full bounty on him, you can't shoot him in the head. Then again, you can still blow his legs off.
    • Characters caught in an explosion's blast radius but not killed are usually knocked down for a few seconds and are helpless until they're completely standing up again, leaving some time to keep on receiving damages while they're unable to fight back. Jackals and Vipers are especially annoying due to them spawning in large parties and often including grenade launchers, which they are able to use accurately at long range. Grenade launchers are single-shot but they reload fast, which means once hit by one, you probably won't be able to get back on your feet quick enough before being hit by another grenade... Then, there's the grenade machinegun, basically the same thing but even worse (an automatic grenade launcher with the fire rate of a machinegun), and once an enemy using one starts firing at you, you're already dead.
    • A player character exclusive-one. The Super Slam! and And Stay Back perks add a knock down effect to every attack of a specific kind (respectively melee/unarmed for the former and shotgun for the latter), making enemies helpless against them since attacking again through them again on the ground. Rinse and repeat.
  • Fallout 4 revamps the Feral Ghouls' Deadly Lunge into a power attack. Power attacks stagger the opponent when hit and feral ghouls just love to travel in packs of 3-5 at the least and hordes of over 10 so when a feral gets that good lunge in it lets the rest of the back close in and try to lunge as well. It's easiest to deal with charging ferals by dropping mines while running back as they grow far more docile when forced to crawl and shooting them in the head is far more difficult in a frantic fire fight for your life.
  • This is the way Secret of Mana works. Getting hit stuns anything that isn't a boss for exactly as long as the attacker has to wait to attack again. This mostly gets used against the enemies, but having this happen to your characters is still the most common form of death in the game.
  • Diablo (1997) has this in spades. Getting hit with enough damage will stun you (or an enemy), and you can get stunned repeatedly, which leads to a stunlock. Avoiding stunlock is pretty much the basis of all warrior's strategies, and is important to ALL characters. If you do get stunlocked, all you can do is mash healing potions hoping for a chain of misses. Meanwhile, your equipment is taking damage along with you, can break completely in just a few seconds once the durability alarm appears, and once broken will vanish forever. But then this is the game where clicking the wrong shrine takes away mana permanently and some monsters cause permanent life damage, so it's fair.
    • On the bright side, this makes even the boss fight against Diablo a cinch. To elaborate: monsters can get stunned by spells they are not resistant to, usually dooming them because the cast speed of any character that wants to cast spells exceeds the hit recovery speed of the monster, but past the midgame just about everything is indeed resistant (or immune) to everything. Well, except Diablo himself, who for some reason is the only non-undead in the whole game that can be hit by the lowly Holy Bolt spell. And Holy Bolt deals pure damage that cannot be resisted...
  • In Diablo III one of the abilities elite packs can possess is to spawn ice crystals which shatter, freezing any player too close. The stun itself lasts only a few seconds but prior to patching in a global cooldown it was possible for other elites to spawn crystals during the stun phase, extending the stun. Elite packs come in large groups so the stun could end up significantly longer than intended. There was still enough of an individual cooldown to prevent a permanent stunlock, but this could prove devastating for more aggressive playstyles.
  • In Tales of Phantasia, the Yeti on the lower floors of the Moria Gallery can surround itself with ice spikes that render it invulnerable to weapons and damage anyone who touches it. Cless has a tech that involves dropping straight down onto his opponent and following it up with a Sword Rain tech. Try this against the Yeti when he pulls up the ice barrier, and Cless will instead get stuck in a lightning fast cycle of hurting that will kill him almost instantly.
  • In The Last Story, this is mostly averted since all party members, including the protagonist, can die up to 4 times in any battle with no repercussions...then you meet the Forest Spider, which can hit you with a web you have to button-mash your way out of, and if you're not fast enough, not lined up right to retaliate, or are hit by the boss's flunkies, it gives the boss the time to remove one of your party member from the remainder of the battle. It can do this until you're left with your protagonist alone, by which time you can be permanently locked in the Paralysis status for the rest of your five lives.
  • In Paper Mario 64, the Dark Koopa enemies can inflict Dizzy on Mario with their Dizzy Shell. It's very likely for Mario to be stun-locked by them if he gets dizzy, and cost him a lot of HP if not outright stun-locking him into Game Over. Luckily, a Dark Koopa that is about to use Dizzy Shell will have a different idle animation, and you can prevent this by having Mario or Goombario jump on these Koopas to stun them first.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the X-Yux (pronounced "Cross-Yux") inflicts stunning with every attack. That means if it lands one non-guarded attack, it can stun-lock you to Game Over. It can also summon Mini X-Yuxes, and if it has four active at once, it releases a near-unblockable attack that hits both characters and stuns. Get hit by that and it's over.
    • Also to a lesser extent, Crazee Dayzees. Their attack can put both Mario and his partner to sleep, and even though there's a possibility to be woken up after being hit, it's just as likely, if not more, to have the sleep status re-applied. Even worse is that at one point during the chapter where you fight them, Mario will be alone.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins the Ogre has an attack that grabs and holds a character, and beats it to death while you watch the Life Meter slowly decrease when you can only be bailed out by one of your party members doing something to make it let go. Sometimes it uses this technique twice in a row on the same character. They can also spam their headbutt attack, which does a lot of damage and knocks you down.
    • Many enemies have such incapacitating moves, from ordinary wolves to High Dragons. The best you can do is to try to stun them while spamming Heal with your mage. There is also an ogre-like demon in the Fade-level that will do two different stunning actions in a row, potentially putting you to a situation where you stand up only to be knocked down again repeatedly. Normal Ogres thankfully can't do this.
    • Perhaps the single most irritating instance of this trope in the game stems from the spell "Crushing Prison." This spell immobilizes the target and does significant spirit damage while allowing the caster's allies free hits throughout the spell's duration. The game has no end of enemies who just love to stack this with the aforementioned mortality spell and other effects to make absolutely certain that you lose members quickly.
    • Blood Wound is the worst, though - a blood mage spell that incapacitates and wears down the HP of your ENTIRE PARTY at once. Always, always Shoot the Mage First.
  • Attack a Floating Eye in NetHack without making certain preparations, and watch your character get nibbled to Permadeath by a gecko or something equally nonthreatening. And then of course there's being mobbed in the open by lightning-fast ants and bees.
  • The Dreamcast adaptation of Record of Lodoss War notoriously has this; Flying Omelette calls it "Record of Lodoss War Syndrome".
  • In Oblivion, it's possible to be caught in a never ending cycle of being shot with an arrow, stumbling, and then being shot again, followed by stumbling. Its is painfully annoying.
    • In its predecessor, Morrowind, you can be knocked down by unarmed attacks and as soon as you get up, get knocked back down. Over and over again. Plus, unarmed attacks do very little damage, meaning it takes forever to die.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Shout FUS RO DAH results in the target being Blown Across the Room. Normally the player is the one using it, and is restricted from using it as a Spam Attack by its Cooldown period. However, get three or four high-level Draugr alternating it at you (especially if you're stuck in a corner), and you may never be able to stand up again.
      • There are a couple ways players can pull this trope on their enemies as well. A Dragonborn with the right high-level Destruction perks can zap their helpless, stunlocked foes to death with chain lightning Palpatine-style, while a melee-oriented character equipped with a shield and mace can endlessly pound away on a foe by alternating power and shield bash attacks, both of which cause flinching.
  • In Final Fantasy X, you can fight a monster known as the Malboro (there's also a tougher variant in the hidden Omega Ruins). His Bad Breath move hits the entire party with a wide variety of status ailments, including Darkness (can't hit physically), Berserk (you can't control the character and he must attack, deals extra damage), Poison (character loses 1/4 max HP every turn) and Confuse (character attacks self and party members at random). Needless to say, if these stack, you're forced to watch your entire party flail uselessly trying to kill themselves before the poison does. The one in Omega Ruins always gets "Ambushed!", which gives it the first turn unless someone on your side has the First Strike ability - and a 90% chance of using Bad Breath.
    • Bad Breath gets taken to eleven in Final Fantasy IV with Lunasaur. On turn one, you are stuck there, praying for one of your characters to eventually hit someone (which they won't, because they're blinded) until eventually the AI decides that it has humiliated your party enough and starts one-hit-killing your party. Oh, and guess what it's guarding? Two Ribbons, which make you immune to status effects... Thankfully, the DS version of the game isn't quite this cruel, as your Paladin is immune to these effects.
    • Malboros are also very nasty customers in Final Fantasy VIII, even moreso than in FFX. They almost always get the first turn, and they always lead with Bad Breath. Unless the player has taken the time to ensure that at least one person in the party is immune to both Confuse and Berserk, they're entirely likely to lose control of the whole party and be left unable to keep the characters from either killing one another or succumbing to Poison or Petrification.
    • One not involving Malboros: Crisis Core has a rather badly-designed combat system, such that Zack swings his sword faster than most enemies recover from their damage animation, and they don't have Mercy Invincibility (neither does Zack, but he tends to get knocked away when he's hit). Tapping "Attack" over and over again will usually lock an enemy in place - multiple enemies if you place yourself properly. The only way for an enemy to break out is to use a special attack (one that puts up its name in a dialog box), as the animation for preparing a special attack overrules damage animations.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the first generation of games, the move Wrap immobilizes the target for 2-5 turns, while doing pitiful damage. Tentacool, a Pokemon that is essentially the Water-type equivalent of Zubat, can and will spam this. Wrap was nerfed in the later games so that it only does damage and prevents switching.
      • There are also certain move/ability combinations in the metagame that can tear opponents to shreds without even giving them a chance to move. The ability Serene Grace, which doubles the likelihood of a move's secondary effects, can be combined with the moves Body Slamnote , Air Slash note  and Iron Head note . That makes for a greatly slowed enemy with an infuriatingly small chance of being able to move while you wear it down by spamming flinch-inducing attacks (known as "Paraflinching" in the metagame). It also tends to cause Rage Quits when used successfully.
    • For a non-gameplay example, Whismur can get caught in one of these when they start crying. Whismur are Cute, but Cacophonic Pokémon whose cries are so loud, they actually scare themselves, causing them to cry even louder until they tire out.
    • You can easily get caught one of these in the Pokémon Rumble series if you're facing multiple enemy Pokemon with moves that cause a lengthy stagger animation like Rock Slide or moves that induce paralysis or flinching like Dragonbreath and Fake Out. In the former case, there's absolutely nothing you can do to escape, while the latter necessitates that you button mash with the right timing to break out of the status effect at a moment that provides enough time for you move away without getting hit and inflicted with the status again.
  • Kingdom Hearts games are usually good about avoiding this, but there are exceptions:
    • The Mysterious Figure bonus boss in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is infamous for this: every single one of his attacks does more damage than it is possible to have HP, meaning they'll always bring the player down to their Last Chance Hit Point, and he has virtually no pauses between one attack and the next, meaning the player will usually have just enough time to cast Cure to recover from his first attack before getting blindsided by the next, leaving the player in a constant loop of casting Cure until he finally does something slow enough to escape. When he clones himself, since his clones attack just as quickly as he does, the player can spend nearly a full minute watching their character be repeatedly smacked around by dozens of attacks without any input possible from the continuous stunlock.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], the abundance of enemies with moves that can stun, freeze, or otherwise keep you from acting can lead to this occasionally. It's most common with the Skelterwilds, thanks to them being able to freeze and stun you on top of having an annoying bite and shake attack that keeps you from doing anything until it ends and leaves you in position for more abuse afterward.
  • In the Geneforge series, this is the main purpose of the glaahk creation. Getting hit by two glaahks in one round will inflict so many levels of stun that it will leave the victim completely unable to act the next round, which is useful for locking down bosses but a pain to receive. Ghostly enemies also frequently inflict a lot of stun and often inflict the "slowed" effect.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, prior to a slight retool (that also introduced a Tutorial Level), frustrated players once they got to Flotsam, as the Endregas had a very nasty habit of knocking you over mid-swing, then charging again as soon as you got back up... on normal difficulty, at that!
  • Corruption of Champions has satyrs on the Plains. One of their attacks is a headbutt - which stuns you, since they have horns. You can't do anything on the next turn but recover (you can't even run). Nothing stops the satyr from headbutting again. Most fights with satyrs either end with you taking them out in two turns or you getting raped... and that's not meant figuratively.
  • Gothic 3 and Risen 2 (both of the same developer) in their original, unpatched incarnations made fairly easy enemies (boars and giant crabs respectively) into killers that could take you down even late in the game. If you didn't dodge the first attack, you were turned into mincemeat because the cringing animation of being hit was longer than the time it took the enemy to start the next attack. Thankfully, later patches fixed this problem.
  • Area-effect spells in Baldur's Gate can very easily be used to create situations like these, especially with the Cloudkill spell, which knocks targets unconscious while continuously dealing damage (and every time they regain consciousness, they have to make another roll to avoid getting knocked out again) and lasts a very long time. Prep some ranged attacks to speed things along, and many enemies that are knocked out by it are as good as dead (though even if they aren't, casting Web or Entangle in the same area can help hold them in place.)
  • Dragon's Dogma has several enemies (notably, the Ogre and Maneater) that will grab you. This initiates a Smashing Survival moment of frantically waggling the left stick. Unfortunately, both of these enemies can easily inflict lethal damage before you waggle free, and your pawns don't always help you out.
  • Shin Megami Tensei I has the Bufu and Zio lines of spells, which freeze and stun the target(s), respectively. A human or demon with high enough Agility can just spam them to stunlock enemies until all enemies are dead or their MP runs out. This is why A. later games that grant these sorts of spells the ability to cancel enemy actions give these spells a non-zero chance of failing to inflict the associated status effect, and B. the concept of enemies nullifying elements was introduced in later games.
  • Transistor: Applying Switch() in sufficient quantities, when mixed with some way of turning that Non-Damaging Status Infliction Attack into dealing damage, can lock enemies into being charmed and hurting during it, such as an upgrade to Luna, means they won't attack, since they're constantly Charmed, but will eventually lose all their Hit Points due to damage.
  • Undertale. So the bad guy has consumed all of the human souls, but you choose to fight him anyway. A difficult battle ensues, and he frequently abuses the SAVE/LOAD mechanic to trick you into hitting attacks that have already passed. You eventually succeed in defeating him. After a short period of disbelief about being mortally wounded, he reloads to the beginning of the battle, and proceeds to obliterate you with an undodgeable attack. Death animation (cracking in two and shattering) plays. He reloads and does it again. And again. And again. In the end, killing you about six times a second, then holds you at 1 HP to deliver his monologue. He did warn you that he'd "save over your death to tear you to bloody shreds over and over and over again". Bonus points for defiantly running into the attacks as he's talking.
    • The part of the game colloquially referred to as 'the Bad Time' or 'Getting Dunked On'. Sparing the final boss of the game when given the opportunity will invoke this. If you've been doing well in the battle up to this point (or have eaten something, as this is a breather period in which no attacks will happen), it will take a while for you to be killed. Of course, this requires that you subvert your own character at the last moment (showing mercy for once), so some people can miss this experience.
  • The World Ends with You is actually fairly nice about avoiding this; all four Players have a mid-air recovery, and enemy attacks are usually pretty slow and clearly telegraphed. Only if you get inflicted with Immobilize is there a real concern of dying before you regain control. On the other hand, as shown in this Let's Play, with the right pins, you can stunlock the Superboss.
  • Monster Hunter: World has the potential for this due to monster attacks knocking down and potentially stunning or otherwise incapacitating players. It's possible for a chain of attacks to wear away a player's entire health bar without ever giving them the ability to move.
    • Players can inflict this on monsters if they put out enough damage. Once a monster crosses a damage threshold it becomes temporarily downed and unable to defend themselves. If enough damage is dealt during this phase or a vital body part is broken, the monster can trigger another downed phase before they can get up.
    • The Tobi-Kadachi has a self-inflicted version of this due to its AI design. Periodically it will jump onto a tree in preparation for a leaping attack, but if attacked while on the tree it can be downed easily. Once it regains its footing, the monster is then likely to jump back onto the tree only to be downed again.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, the enemies are capable of stun-locking you if enough of them are beating you at the same time.
  • Sword of Rapier not only gives players the potential to juggle and attack enemies in the air for absurd lengths of time through the use of Katharine's rapier attacks and magic spells to propel them upwards, but also rewards players with extra EXP by dealing massive damage to their foes with their Thrust finisher. The only thing stopping them from chaining combos ad infinium is their MP.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • In Event Horizon, this is what the strategy of using Energy Siphons and EMP Torpedoes revolves around. If you can drain enemy ship's energy meter all the way down to 0 and keep it that way, they'll be drifting aimlessly in space unable to do anything. The same applies to you when the enemies are firing these, so beware.

  • In MechWarrior 4 and Mechwarrior 3, high-caliber ballistics and large missile salvos (and sometimes even lasers) can knock smaller BattleMechs off their feet, causing them to collapse onto the ground and lay almost totally helpless (sometimes they will fall in a way that allows them to fire back) for a few seconds on the ground as they start to rise back up onto their feet. Often times as soon as the mech is back onto its feet, another salvo from the high-powered weapons will knock it back onto the ground.
    • In MechWarrior Online, mechs won't fall over from damage, but in early versions of the beta, running into a mech would basically tackle it to the ground. The Dragon is a very fast, well armored, well armed heavy mech that, in one patch, had effectively infinite mass, allowing it to go plowing through enemy battle lines, smashing everything in its way to the ground without missing a step... then turn around, and repeat it again as the enemies are starting to get back on their feet, and again, and again, slowly wearing down the enemy's armor while they are totally helpless. The ramming/tackling mechanic broke the gameplay (and netcode) so thoroughly that it was removed entirely.
    • Weapons that generate heat on whatever they hit are often prime causes of the Cycle of Hurting. In the Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries free release, Inferno Rockets have a huge splash area that does almost no damage but creates huge amounts of heat on whatever is in the blast area. Combine this with the fact that they have an almost instant refire rate, and you get a weapon that can keep an enemy shut down for minutes at a time - either until the guy with the infernos gets bored or runs out of ammo. In Living Legends, the "Flamasser" variant of the Harasser hovercraft came loaded with 6 flamers, on a chassis that is extremely nimble, small, and cheap. A duo of Flamassers could keep an enemy shut down indefinitely, though said enemy would usually melt to death after a couple seconds under both Flamasser's flames. However, the Flamasser was balanced out by the asset being as dangerous to enemies as it was to itself - a top-heavy, unstable firing platform with very little armor and weapons that generate so much heat that it often shuts itself down right as it shuts down an enemy.
  • Satisfactory is a factory simulator that lets you produce nuclear power, but then you have to deal with your reactors' lethally radioactive waste. Dying in such an irradiated environment respawns you where you fell, only to die again before you can take a step, as this Let's Game It Out video hilariously demonstrates near the end.
  • Jurassic World: Evolution has missions where the objective requires you to keep dinosaurs contained for a period of time, which sounds simple enough, but then the game forces some of the dinosaurs to become 'agitated' and attempt to break out of their enclosures even if their comfort meter is high. Should you let them break out, the countdown will stop and you have to tranquilize and bring them back to their enclosures in order to continue the countdown. This can be a nasty problem when multiple dinosaurs break out at the same time (and they often do) and you have to put all of them back to where they belong so you can continue with the objective. Worse, transporting the dinos takes a lot of time. By the time you get one dino back into their enclosure and is working to transport another, the first dino might attempt to break out again, forcing you to recapture it again while the same thing could happen to the other dinos you have sent back in the meantime. Not only that, you have to fix up those fences and keep visitors inside shelters while all this is going down, which means a sharp drop in rating and income, not to mention a myriad of other problems like sabotages or storms as well. Unless you micromanage like crazy and your ACU and Ranger teams are good at their jobs, you're gonna have a hard time getting through these missions.

  • Punch-Out!!:
    • In Glass Joe's title defense rematch, you can Star Punch him to stun him, gain a star at the end of the stun period and then Star Punch him again.
    • In the original NES game, it's possible to beat Don Flamenco with a series of quick 1-2 jabs to the face. This was carried over into the Wii version, though the combo to do this is slightly more complex.

    Survival Horror 
  • In Alone in the Dark (1992), enemy attacks can cause your character to flinch. In the second game, being overwhelmed by enemies or even one enemy with a Tommy gun can stun-lock Carnby until he is dead.
  • In the early Resident Evil games, you can find yourself being repeatedly attacked by an enemy while hopelessly trying to reload your weapon. The 1996 original, in particular, only allows you to shove off one zombie at a time, so if two or more manage to get in your face, death is all but certain; the second will have a go at your neck as soon as you push away the first, which will close the gap again right as you're shoving the second one off you.
  • The very last appearance of the Sadist in The Evil Within has him show up with a rocket launcher. It probably won't kill you in one shot by this point, but it doesn't need to; the bastard is able to time his shots so well that the next rocket will hit you just as you're getting back on your feet, repeated until you hit Critical Existence Failure.
  • In Silent Hill 3, there's a room containing nothing but a sink and a mirror on the wall. The door locks behind you and you can only watch as the tendrils of blood on the other side of the mirror seep into that side's sink and leak out of the sink on your side, eventually starting to smother you. Players of the console versions might not realize that the blood slowly sucks out your health because, unlike the PC version, your health is only displayed on the pause screen. Luckily the door unlocks and you can leave as soon as you start taking damage, but the game gives no indication of this, so most players die in this room, unless they're unaware that the door locked in the first place because they never tried to leave before.
    • The Slurpers knock you down, rape you, knock you down as you get back up, repeat.
  • In The Last of Us, any hit on a human-sized enemy staggers the target for several seconds, leaving them open to follow-up attacks while they recover. This applies to the protagonists just as much as it does to any hunter or infected short of bloaters. A single runnernote  or stalkernote  can be enough to stunlock Joel to death if you're unlucky, and two or more whaling on him are practically a death sentence regardless of difficulty, especially when Ellie is not around to help him out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In multiple editions of Dungeons & Dragons, it is possible for spellcasters to do this with the right combination of area control spells. A Third Edition example would be combining Evard's Black Tentacles with Stinking Cloud. The tentacles root you in place until you take a standard action to free yourself, and the cloud smells so bad you have to spend your standard action fighting back nausea.
    • Not to mention the infinite tripping strategy, which involves tripping an enemy on your turn, then on their turn, when they stand up, taking an attack of opportunity to trip them again, leaving them lying on the ground unable to take many actions (they can still perform many actions from the ground, but for a melee character being prone is not a good thing, and if the tripper has reach and you don't they can put themselves outside of your range and continually trip you). This technically doesn't work; you can't trip someone who's standing from prone, because he's still prone when your attack triggers. However, you can disarm them, trip them when they pick up the weapon, and then disarm them again when they stand up.
    • In 4th edition, this is the main reason solo monsters suck compared to a group of enemies. They get surrounded, tagged with a bunch of different effects, and aren't able to spread their actions out like a group of monsters can, greatly reducing their effectiveness. Later monster books gave solos various counters to this; for example, dragons get an extra action each round on a different initiative count, plus the ability to quickly shrug off stun and daze effects.
  • Anyone who plays Yu-Gi-Oh! and has dealt with anyone with Neo-Spacian Grand Mole knows that either you disable the little bugger, or you'll watch your Life Points whittle away.
    • Several combos that don't rely on dealing 8000 damage to your opponent in one turn ends up resorting to this. The most infamous of all is the Yata-Garasu + Chaos Emperor Dragon combo. Basically, Chaos Emperor can wipe the field and your opponent's hand of anything useful, which combined with another card allows you to get Yata-Garasu onto the field. Yata's effect forbids your opponent from drawing on the next turn. Since your opponent has no cards, all he can do is either watch his life points drain away (and very slowly at that, since Yata only has 200 attack points, which is pitifully low) or bow and surrender. It surprised no one when both ended up banned.
    • The straightest example in the game is probably the infamous interaction between Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons (a monster that gains attack whenever its controller takes damage) and Red-Eyes Flare Metal Dragon (a monster that deals 500 damage to the opponent whenever they activate an effect). If these two end up facing each other, then any damage dealt to Beelze's player will cause them to take infinite damage in increments of 500 until they lose. That one is surprisingly legal, probably because it's nigh-impossible to reliably set up.
  • Many deck designs in Magic: The Gathering, often called "prison" or "lockdown" decks, rely on setting up a situation where the opponent can't do anything. They tend to be fairly frustrating to duel against. It gets even worse if you're dealing with a Blue/Black mill-crazy deck, especially considering the number of counter-spells Blue is known for and the number of kill spells that Black has.
  • GURPS has this as a basic tenet of any combat. Being injured causes shock, which makes it difficult to defend against subsequent attacks. Since GURPS lies squarely in the Simulation corner of GNS theory, this is perfectly intentional.
  • Battletech at least in Mechwarrior 4th or "A Time of War", has characters and NPCs inflicted with a Stunned status, which not only makes them more vulnerable to further attacks later in the turn (turns are not completed simultaneously but individual actions are resolved in sequence) but also requires up to half of their turn to dispel, and no actions whatsoever can be taken before ridding the status. Fortunately, a character can only be Stunned or not-Stunned, true Stunlock isn't possible.
    • This can also happen in the tactical board game. For one, MechWarriors can take damage somewhat independently from their machines, with a rising chance of knockout after each successive hit — and a 'Mech with an unconscious pilot is helpless and an easy target, which among other things increases the chances of the pilot taking more hits (or being flat-out killed if an attack takes out the 'Mech's head) before he or she can come to again. The other main example is falling, since a 'Mech needs to pass a die roll to successfully get up again (with penalties for things like leg damage, of course) and failure results in it just falling down again and taking more damage in the process. It's not necessarily common, but a 'Mech can potentially dash itself (or its pilot) to death that way.
  • The Stun rules in Star Wars d20 are so exploitable. An enemy that fails a save against stun drops their items and is stunned for one round, so characters can easily do this to any single, beefy foe. If they fail their save, the enemy is toast.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Cultists of the Doomsday Clock learn a unique Time Master power that automatically rewinds time by three seconds when they die, reviving them and giving them another chance. If they're in an unsurvivable situation, however, it just forces them to die as many times as they have Mana Points.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • In many of the early Tomb Raider games, saving in the wrong spot can get Lara killed at every reload, forcing you to start the level all over again.
  • In Warhawk, an incompetent, Jerkass, or worse teammate can drive a 4x4 out-of-bounds with you as a passenger, at which point you start taking damage. If you jump off and try to walk back in-bounds you almost certainly won't make it in time.
  • In the early Syphon Filter games this can happen if you trigger a checkpoint in a bad situation (eg impending One-Hit Kill).
  • In Mass Effect, getting hit by biotic powers knocks Shepard down. If you're in a room full of biotics, you'll get knocked down, get up, get knocked down again, get up, get knocked down again, and repeat ad infinitum until your squadmates either free you or you die.
    • In Mass Effect 2, melee attacks stun the victim, and the Vanguard's Biotic Charge does the same. It's very possible to charge an enemy and beat him to death. Husks (cybernetic zombies) are melee enemies and tend to attack in groups, so watch out or they'll do the same to YOU!
  • Possible in the third Max Payne. If you get sent into Last Man Standing in a bad position with multiple enemies covering Max, you can kill one guy and exit LMS only to have the others send you back. Repeat until death.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II: Getting hit by a lightsabre causes knockback, so if you're not killed outright you tend to be open to a followup swing.
  • Splatoon:
    • While spawn-camping is certainly possible in the first two games, players have the benefit of their team's spawn point having an unbreakable shield that enemies can't attack through, but you and your teammates can. Splatoon 2 would make it impossible to even reach the enemy spawn point on several maps, while Splatoon 3 would eliminate the issue entirely by giving each player their own airborne "spawner drones" that shoot the player onto the stage and grants them temporary invincibility upon landing.
    • Zig-Zagged with Super Jumping. Players can jump to any other active teammate, spawn, or Squid Beakon via a Super Jump, enabling quick escapes when they realize they've been cornered or are in any other tough scenario, but poor timing will mean that you just jumped to someone who just died in the middle of a fire-fight, causing you to get splatted anyway by an enemy awaiting your arrival. And if several teammates do this at once to get back into the action quickly...
  • This is why getting caught against two or more enemy Mobile Suits in Gundam Battle Operation 2 is a death sentence. A number of attacks (especially bazookas and cannons) have the ability to automatically stun your mech. Against a lone suit, this is usually enough to leave you open for them to rush in and knock you down with a Melee attack. Two or more Mobile Suits with the right timing can have you continuously stagger until one of them finishes you off.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Disciples, any unit with mass Paralyze/Petrify attack is a priority target explicitly because of this. In general, fighting and failing to kill one of those before they attack is a fail state because they can and will keep your units stunlocked and let the rest of enemies chop them to death. To a lesser extent Succubi with their mass Transformation, but thanks to how Transformation works, and a quirk in how they can't hit more than three units at once (the rest will automatically miss) means they are much less of a threat.
    • This is also the way to kill capitol guardians as Undead (or, to a lesser extent, Legions of the Damned), since you only really need to survive one attack, and then you can keep the guardian paralyzed/petrified as you deliver Death of a Thousand Cuts.
  • In Jagged Alliance 2, Mustard Gas grenades work like this. If your character is not wearing a gas mask, and walks into a Mustard Gas cloud (or, more commonly, a Mustard Gas grenade is lobbed at him), the character will likely suffer a lot of energy damage and pass out. At this point, the character cannot be moved (he's passed out) and his inventory cannot be accessed, so he cannot be told to wear his gas mask if he has one at all. Each turn, the gas will drain a large amount of health and breath points from the character, making sure that he cannot escape. To make matters worse, it is even impossible to move the body out of the cloud by having another mercenary drag or lift it, so the afflicted mercenary just lies there in the cloud, completely helpless, until death. If you're fortunate though, the gas may dissipate before the character actually dies.
    • You can counter it by throwing a smoke grenade to replace mustard gas with regular smoke (physics wasn't that great back then) or applying an energy regeneration item with another soldier.
  • 7.62 High Calibre has the adrenaline mechanic, where situations that increase your adrenaline (seeing a target, seeing lots of targets, being shot at, being shot, etc.) make actions take less time to perform, but also makes your shots more likely to miss. If your adrenaline is maxed, you'll rarely hit an opponent more than ten feet away. On top of all this, anything that results in "shock" (see the previous list and subtract "being shot at" only) makes your character freeze for a few seconds if they're in the middle of performing an action. Since those few seconds can make a big difference between getting shot and shooting first, generally speaking if you get hit with shock, your adrenaline will shoot up, which, if you're lucky enough to get a shot off, means you'll miss, and if you then get shot, well, that character is dead. It's just a matter of time, really.
    • To try and avoid this, mercenaries can carry syrettes of morphine and inject themselves to forcefully lower their adrenaline levels.
  • Star Control 2. If you get stuck in Hyperspace between several hostile ships (especially common in Ur-Quan space), you'll end up fighting one, wasting fuel on escaping/losing your crew, then immediately encountering another one, and then another, and another...
  • Several enemies in the Shining Force series can stun your party members, but none as often as Shining Force II's Soul Sowers. These baddies appear in the fight to the west of Hassan and in Taros' Shrine, and hit very hard on their own. If they stun any of your party, they can and will kill them, and heaven forbid if they stun one of your healers.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • ARK: Survival Evolved 's Baryonyx, when underwater, is capable of using a tail spin attack that stuns you and some of your tamed creatures for 10 seconds. As the tail spin’s cool down is shorter than 10 seconds, you have to hope something else, hopefully immune to its stun, attacks the Baryonyx.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • In the 3D universe GTA games, being inescapably crushed by a car drains your health to zero in about five seconds in order to keep the player from being indefinitely stuck. Grand Theft Auto V solves this problem by having your character crawl out from underneath stationary vehicles if they end up stuck under one.
    • In Grand Theft Auto V this can happen if the character begins rolling down a particularly steep slope. While falling, the player has no control, so on a long and steep enough slope the only option is to watch the fall damage accumulate.
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, should the player get knocked down by a car (or ejected through the windshield of a car they're driving) and survive while being chased by the police or other hostile pedestrians, there's a good chance the attackers will give you a fatal dose of lead into the back of your head before you can get back up.
  • In Minecraft:
    • Falling into the Void at the bottom of the map is a one-way trip to a place of the game where items and entities cannot exist, and the player takes damage continuously.
    • A glitch in the potion that allowed you to walk in lava made it so that you would still build up falling damage while swimming in it, meaning that a player that was in it for more than a couple seconds would either burn up once the potion's effect was gone, or die instantly as soon as they touched a flat surface.
    • Being surrounded on all sides by Bedrock at least two blocks tall, with no blocks to use as steps, leaves no other choice but to spend all your energy until you starve to death.
    • Being stuck on a tiny deserted island with no access to wood or food usually means either a quick death in ten minutes from the enemies that spawn during the night, a significantly slower death from starvation, or taking your chances by swimming across the open ocean where, if you don't find land that can actually support you, you run the risk of drowning, being killed by enemies, or (again) starving.
    • Expect this if you Aggro a Zombie Pigman. Zombies can also call for backup if they are injured.
    • This is very likely to happen if you're being attacked by a Skeleton while in a large body of water without a ranged attack of any sort. Their arrows prevents you from approaching it since you can't swim the distance of their arrow's knockback between attacks.
  • Saints Row 2 has a egregious example with the Fight Club activity. What basically happens is that you are in a fist fight (until the audience start throwing objects you and your opponents can pick up and use), knocking each other down and then trying to break each other's necks. Thing is, later levels of Fight Club add in more opponents, and due to Gang Up on the Human, opponents can pick up said objects and knock you down, putting you in a loop of getting hurt while knocked down and then knocked back down again by the opponent wielding the object. The objects thankfully break over time, but expect this a lot.

    Other Games 
  • Do not insult the A.I. in AI Dungeon 2, or imply the story it's generating is stupid/idiotic/dumb in any way. If you do, be prepared to be stuck in an infinite death loop that can only be undone by starting up a new story.
  • This happens in Soulcaster if you get surrounded by enemies and you have no Smart Bombs left.
  • The metagame of Gems of War appears to favor goblin teams, who all get an extra turn on top of whatever spell effect they have. The particular team includes the Nobend Brothers (either destroy X gems, decrease all enemy attack by X, or deal X damage to all enemies), Princess Fizzbang (either explode all green gems or grant an ally +X to a random stat; +2X if ally is a goblin), and Queen Grapplepot (deal X damage to all enemies, multiplied 3x for each goblin ally), with the non-goblin Siren (deal X damage to an enemy and create 9 gems of their color; she can learn a trait that lets her start with full mana) often filling out the last spot. Letting either the brothers or Fizzbang fire off their spell has a good chance of starting a Cycle of Hurting as they blow up gems, boost their stats and/or drain yours, or just deal damage to everyone at once. Defeating the cycle often requires either judicious application of the Frozen status (can't gain Extra Turns) or a traited-up Gob-Chomper (double damage to goblins and a 50% chance to Devour one [instant kill and gain its stats as a boost] if it's the target of his spell).
  • The ZX Spectrum port of Marble Madness has a glitch that causes your marble to repeatedly respawn over a Bottomless Pit until you run out of time.
  • Pac-Guy: Because only Pac-Guy's position is reset upon death, it is possible for an enemy to creep up on his starting position and steadily kill off the rest of the player's lives. Mostly averted in some of the later installments.
  • In many games in the Richman franchise, you can place a landmine at the entrance of a hospital, jail or hotel, causing the character to step on it and be hospitalized as soon as they're freed. If you manage to keep placing landmines, the character will keep being locked in the hospital! Being sent to the hospital will not cost the victim any cash and will actually make them safe from losing money for most of the time, but using this strategy will will buy you a lot of time to buy as many properties as possible. This has been removed in later installments.
  • In the old ZX Spectrum game Jumping Jack, falling down a floor briefly stuns you, getting caught by a monster (or, as the game puts it, "hazard") stuns you for twice as long, and miscalculating your jump and hitting the ceiling stuns you for three times as long. While you are stunned, you can't avoid holes and monsters, and each hit increases the stun time. This may cause you to fall all the way down to the bottom of the level, losing a life. (And good luck getting back to the top - each jump creates an additional hole.)

    Non-Video Game Examples 
Anime & Manga
  • Tomorrow's Joe features Genius Bruiser Kim Yongbi, and his Signature Move (or more like Finishing Move due to how utterly brutal it is) is the "Chom-Chom", which is essentially the following: push the victim on the ropes and hit them until they start fall, then uppercut them back up and continue until the referee realizes he's witnessing an attempted murder and stops him. Everyone who suffered it before Joe went out in a stretcher, and in the anime two guys died.


  • The Old Guard: A few hundred years before the movie starts, Andy's immortal partner Quynh was captured, accused of being a witch, locked into an iron coffin, and thrown into the sea. She's been trapped there ever since, drowning to death, coming back to life, and then drowning again. This is a large part of why the immortals keep their nature secret.



Light Novels

  • Accel World: The Unlimited Neutral Field (Brain Burst's "overworld") can be entered from anywhere, but only exited through special portals, and death results in an avatar respawning in the same place a short time later. One of the most dreaded scenarios for any Burst Linker is the "Unlimited EK" - becoming trapped inside the territory of a powerful Enemy, which kills them over and over until they run out of Burst Points. Canny players can escape by connecting to the Accelerated World through a proxy that automatically disconnects after a set period of time... but even this scenario is considered equivalent to a Career-Ending Injury, as while they can still participate in duels, they can never re-enter the Unlimited Field without getting trapped back in the cycle. Exploiting this mechanic is the easiest way for Burst Linkers to assassinate their rivals, though thankfully the Year Inside, Hour Outside nature of the system makes timing such attacks difficult.

Live-Action TV

  • Taskmaster: In "Think About the Spirit", a task was to complete seven smaller tasks laid out in front of them: assemble a jigsaw puzzle, hide all the jigsaw pieces, put the wheelbarrow in the caravan, put 20 larger-than-tennis-ball items into the wheelbarrow, knock down bowling pins from the driveway from behind a velvet rope, assemble a tower 26 inches tall, and finally, put your hand on your hip for the rest of the task(s). As the contestants could only open a single task at a time, doing said tasks in the wrong order would make subsequent tasks much more difficult (hiding the puzzle pieces before setting the puzzle, filling the wheelbarrow before moving it into the caravan, having to build the tower with one hand on your hip, having to bowl around the tower while attempting to knock down pins, using the bowling pins to fill the wheelbarrow), and failing a sub-task (letting items fall out of the wheelbarrow, taking your hand off your hip, etc.) forces the contestant to restart the entire task, catching them in a Cycle of Hurting if they can't figure out the correct order. Ed Gamble got hit particularly hard, having to start from scratch multiple times. He still ended up winning the task, as he was the only contestant to actually complete all of the sub-tasks properly, even though it took him quite a long time.


  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Lv 2 Time Cutter is effectively a stunlock move, it freezes the damaged target for a random amount of time, but enough to continue attacking consequently. One drawback is that it's Cast from Hit Points.
  • Kid Radd, which features the titular hero and his companions in a Street Fighter-esque environment. Both Radd and Bogey are able to set up inescapable cycles; Radd via Beam Spam, and Bogey by walking up to his enemy and snuggling them to death by Collision Damage.
  • Another Gaming Comic: Joe Chaos's character in the Second Evil Campaign is built around this trope: using a complex combination of feats and class abilities to turn a low-level, spammable spell into a stun attack with No Saving Throw. On top of that, adding another magic item to the mix lets him stun a target for two rounds, still with no save, and get in a proper attack in between each stun.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stun Lock


Charge Cancel Infinites

The way the first Guilty Gear's Charge mechanic worked meant that a significant portion of its cast had access to infinite combos like this one.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CycleOfHurting

Media sources: