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Deliberate Injury Gambit

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"Let an opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let an opponent smash into your flesh and you fracture his bone; let an opponent fracture your bone and you take his life! Do not be concerned with your escaping safely; lay your life before him!"

Bob is in a sword fight with Emperor Evulz, and things don't look good for Bob. Emperor Evulz is much faster than him, and Bob just can't land a blow.


Oh no! Emperor Evulz just stabbed Bob's shoulder! Once Evulz pulls his sword out he'll be able to finish Bob.

Not so fast. The hero let himself get impaled on purpose. And now that he's got the villain's sword restrained, the hero has him right where he wants him.

This trope occurs when a character deliberately allows himself to be injured, injures himself, or takes advantage of the fact that he's just been injured and uses it to gain an advantage against an opponent.

In video games, there may be certain abilities/perks which activate when the user gets hit, or when they've lost a good part of their HP. Naturally, some players may try using this gambit to unleash those abilities. In some other cases, you might be fighting an enemy or boss whose attack will leave them vulnerable even if you get hit by it, or when they're normally impenetrable until they lower their defenses when they try to attack you; this leaves a room for you to exploit this to attack them.


More extreme cases of this can result in Death Is the Only Option, a Heroic Sacrifice, or Mutual Kill. Frequently exploits Good Thing You Can Heal. Compare Taking You with Me, Death or Glory Attack, Life or Limb Decision. One possible motive for doing so would be to get the opponent Left Stuck After Attack. May be used in order to trigger a Critical Status Buff.

Typical in cases of Bizarre Alien Biology. Compare with Wounded Gazelle Gambit (pretending to be hurt so that they can make a third person attack their target), Exploited Immunity (getting both yourself and your target injured in a way you know won't harm you as much), Attacking Through Yourself (in which the attacker deliberately attacks himself to get at his opponent, rather than just letting an enemy attack hit him), Self-Poisoning Gambit (Consuming something that is poisoned in order to lure someone else into also doing so) and Pull Yourself Down the Spear (pulling oneself down a spear to get closer or to make the enemy stuck) Related to Failure Gambit and Confound Them with Kindness.



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    Films — Animated 
  • Osmosis Jones subverts this (the main character is a white blood cell and he splits his entire body to escape).

    Mythology and Religion 
  • This is how the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca lost a foot. He and his archenemy/brother Quetzalcoatl were trying to make a new world after the fourth apocalypse, they came across the little snag that all the land was on the bottom of the ocean on the back of a monster called Cipactli. Tezcatlipoca dangled his foot in the water as bait, and while he would probably have preferred not to lose it in the process, it did get Cipactli where the two of them could strangle it.
  • This is how the Norse monster Fenrir was tied up. The wolf grew wise to the attempts of the gods to tie him up and refused to let the gods try it for a third time. Therefore, the war god Tyr placed his hand into Fenrir's mouth, saying that the wolf could bite it off if the gods did not untie the wolf after a while. They didn't, and so Fenrir bit Tyr's hand off. Tyr had anticipated this, and it didn't seem to bother him.

    Standup Comedy 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Jace Beleren from Magic: The Gathering does this distressingly often. Only, as a telepath, he is taking the injury with his mind instead of his body. He defeated his Evil Mentor (a giant Sphinx) into going deep into Jace's mind to rearrange the furniture, but Jace effectively burned down the house around him. Jace forgot his mother's face, the sound of his own name, and where he was born, while the Sphinx forgot how to breathe.
  • Common in Warhammer 40,000 in the cases of Tyranids, Orks, and Space Marines.
    • With Space Marines it is partly because they have two hearts and three lungs, and three kidneys too. Tyranids do it because they are disposable drones while Orks have decent regenerative abilities and live to fight.

    Web Animation 
  • The Chimney Chickens episode "Date Envy" has a variation where the injury is to cars, but thankfully not characters. Blaze, driving Buzz's car, deliberately crashes it into a girl's car to manufacture an excuse to get her phone number.
  • In DEATH BATTLE!, some of the more daring combatants pull this off in order to get an advantage over their opponent or catch them off guard:
    • Guts vs. Nightmare. Guts is known to do this in canon, and in the fight itself, he lets his face get cut by Nightmare so he can shoot the demon point-blank with his Arm Cannon, and later on leaps through a wall of flames to perform a surprise attack on Night Terror, slicing off Night Terror's sword arm followed by splitting Night Terror's head in two.
    • Lucario vs. Renamon: Lucario runs right through Renamon's Diamond Storm to attack her, sustaining great damage from several shards in the process. It catches Renamon off guard and allow him to finish her off with a Bone Rush.
    • Dragonzord vs. Mechagodzilla ends on one of these: The Dragonzord has impaled Mechagodzilla on its spear, making it look like the match will go to Tommy. Then Mechagodzilla pulls the spear even further in and starts charging the Absolute Zero Cannon. Tommy doesn't dodge in time, and both he and the Dragonzord are completely frozen on a molecular level by the blast and shattered into nothingness by Mechagodzilla's roar.
  • In RWBY, this is used in the end of Fall. From Yang's viewpoint, Mercury was jumping at her to kick her after she defeated him in a match, and so she turned around and countered it. However, a look at the cameras reveals it was an illusion and it really looked like Yang blasted him in the knee unprovoked. This results in Yang being arrested while the crowd boos and her teammates look on in bewildered horror. Though somewhat subverted since Mercury has prosthetic legs that could take the hit.
  • The Thwomps: After almost getting killed, Thwomp 1's last wish is The timewarp.

    Web Comics 
  • Jordi in Cuanta Vida protects himself from a backstab and disarms the red spy by impaling his own hand on the knife.
  • Everyone Is Home: "The Things We Do for Love" has the various guys of Smash Bros. coming up with different ways to injure themselves to see Pyra/Mythra in the hospital after a bad drinking game against Bayonetta.
  • Von Pinn in Girl Genius traps Bangladesh's sword by impaling her hand on it here.
  • In Shadownova, when Fury is blinded by a flashbang Jacob decides to punch him as he escapes, which only results in Fury calculating where he is from the punch and stabbing him.

    Web Original 
  • Sociopathic Hero Belphanior from The Adventuresis quite prone to that tactic, thanks for his Evil Weapon which eats souls of slain enemies and heals wounds of wielder at the same time.
  • Dragonball Z Abridged: In the Lord Slug movie, Piccolo rips his own ears off when capture by Lord Slug. Then he yells at Gohan to start whistling, which apparently is hideous torture for Namekians.
  • Penny Arcade Dungeons And Dragons Podcast: Binwin falls victim to this several times, surrounding himself with enemies so Jim can unleash a fireball on the lot of them.
  • The Spoony Experiment: Spoony, in his Highlander 2 commentary, wonders why no immortal ever does this in any of the movies or any episode of the tv show. After all, the only blows an immortal cares about are any blows to the head, so an immortal could theoretically take a crippling attack to the gut and then take his opponent's head.
  • This has happened at least once in Shack Tactical videos, where script-triggered injuries could not be healed, meaning that players had to be shot in order to heal them. Due to the absurdity, Hilarity often Ensued.
  • In Whateley Universe, Phase pulls this on Chaka while sparring, since Phase can change the density of parts of her body. The weapon goes right through her intangible chest to nail Chaka. Lancer lampshades this immediately afterward.
    • Generator broke Ironhawk's hostage-taking ploy - and concentration - by intentionally stabbing herself onto the knife he was holding against her. This approach works best when you have a Healing Factor, needless to say.
    • Murphy often combines this with Death from Above and/or Teleport Spam attacks; again, high regen is a key part of this for her.

    Western Animation 
  • Heroic ninja Snake Eyes pulls one off in his duel against rival ninja Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: Resolute: pinned down and about to be struck down, he allows his enemy's katana to pierce through his left palm, redirecting the blow to hit the ground rather than his head. He then uses his right hand to break the sword in a Moment of Awesome.
  • Glitch Techs: In "I'm Mitch Williams", Mitch's siblings keep breaking their gaming tech so that it forces Mitch to give them more and hope that he can hang out with them more.
  • In Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Skeletor allows He-Man to run him through with his sword, because by doing so He-Man unlocks the Chamber of Wisdom that Skeletor is leaning against, allowing Skeletor to access the orb of magic contained within.
  • Popeye and Bluto were known to have tried to deliberately hurt themselves so they can get close to Olive Oyl, who in both cases was working as a hospital nurse. In each case, Popeye force-feeds his spinach to Bluto so he can beat Popeye senseless.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Mugato, Gumato", Tendi breaks her arm while chasing T'Ana through the Jefferies tubes, then scans her when she comes back to help. She couldn't simply fake it because T'Ana wouldn't be fooled.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: When the Gungans find themselves in battle against Grievous in "Shadow Warrior", Tarpals winds up getting stabbed by him. Grievous mocks him, but then Tarpals reveals that he did it deliberately. Grievous got a shock staff to the gut and the Gungans actually captured him. Unfortunately, due to the series' Foregone Conclusions, it winds up being a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Steven Universe: In "The Zoo", Steven and his dad Greg are trying to escape from the titular People Zoo. After hearing a story from two of the residents that a Gem once came into the Zoo because someone got hurt, Greg agrees to take one for the team, but it doesn't work. However, Steven and Greg later find out after disrupting "The Choosening" that hurting the Zoomans' feelings does.

    Real Life 
  • American President Andrew Jackson famously performed this trope in a duel. He wanted to kill his adversary so much that he deliberately waited until after his opponent had fired (and hit him) so that he could take his time and aim for a killshot; combatants only loaded one bullet per round. It worked, and he survived.
  • This occasionally appears in self-defense courses which recommend such tactics as redirecting the knife into your shoulder to get rid of the weapon. For obvious reasons, this is a bad move unless you know what you are doing, are very desperate, and really, really have no better options.
  • There is an old fencing tactic for dueling with smallswords where you allow your left palm to be impaled by the enemy sword, thus preventing the enemy from parrying your deadly blow. You need to be pretty desperate to try this though, and there is a better alternative where you have a piece of fabric (cloak, piece of linen, etc.) hanging from your arm, and you let the enemy pierce that instead.
  • This trope is why boar-spears have crosspieces: they prevent an impaled boar from running up the spear to gore the hunter.
  • There is a legend that the Russian Warrior Monk Alexander Peresvet killed the Tatar warrior Chelubey that way. Chelubey's lance was longer than anyone else's, so when jousting, no man could even strike him before being knocked out of the saddle. Peresvet removed his armor, allowing him to remain sitting despite the strike. Both were lethally impaled, but Peresvet managed to return to the Russian camp before dying.


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Alternative Title(s): I Have Two Kidneys


Yatori Igsem v. the Mutineers

"Watchdogs of the Spirit Tree". Yatorishino Igsem is the first of the protagonists to intercept a group of mutinous Imperial knights who took Princess Chamille to avenge their general who was sent to die for political reasons. The leader briefly overpowers her by impaling his hand on her saber and getting his hand on her throat -- only for Torway Remeon to arrive and shoot him in the neck from the forest, freeing Yatori to singlehandedly kill a dozen men including two airgunners with her sword and main-gauche.

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