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Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?

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"Shapeshifting master of darkness"? Pfft. Pull yourself together.note 

"It's a funny thing about the old gods. You think that just because they're old, they must be difficult to kill. But when the fighting starts, they go down just like anybody else. They're not stronger, they're just older."
The Beast, The Magicians

So, along passes the Eldritch Abomination: Incomprehensible, omnipotent dark gods who instill gibbering insanity in anyone in their presence; Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who have obliterated countless worlds since time immemorial; Cosmic Entities whose thoughts encompass the very fabric of the universe and infinities beyond, on which humanity is just a subatomic particle. You know the type. Eternal, infinite, harbingers of the End of Times, impossible to even understand, let alone think about opposing...

Then along come a fellowship of plucky heroic badasses, who were never told that the Abomination is impossible to beat (and even if they were told, they wouldn't care). Through some combination of skill, brains, courage, Heroic Spirit, and occasionally raw world-shattering awesomeness, maybe some kind of incredibly clever strategy, maybe a trap, maybe Applied Phlebotinum and/or sheer dumb luck, or hey, When All You Have Is a Hammer…, they go to work and... they defeat the abomination.

...Wait, what?

Did... Did you just punch out CTHULHU?

No, seriously! You just killed a god! Not a Mook, not an Elite Mook, not The Dragon, not even a run-of-the-mill Big Bad... A GOD!! note 

This appears in videogames (especially RPGs), where the Final Boss is inevitably some kind of ultimate evil unleashed upon the world, or the Big Bad has gone One-Winged Angel... only to be defeated by the heroes by whittling down its health points. Particularly jarring if the horror in question is allegedly so powerful that according to the backstory the Precursors were only able to seal it away, or if the heroes claim it was defeated via The Power of Friendship (when it's obvious they won via the Power Of BFS, More Dakka, and Nuke-Level Summon Magic). Sometimes, you actually do kill God Himself, which is commonplace in JRPGs.

Maybe the heroes have found some rule stating that the power in question has limits or a Necessary Drawback, and then proceed to exploit it ruthlessly. Maybe Worf Had the Flu. Sometimes what they defeated was just part of the being which existed in our reality at the time, in which case reducing its Hit Points to 0 just temporarily banishes it: they were Fighting a Shadow.

This is generally the result of whenever you put an Eldritch Abomination from a cynical world in the same room as a Super Hero from an idealistic world, or anyone or anything else capable of hitting for massive damage. Do not expect this trope to appear in any Cosmic Horror Story worth its salt, except perhaps as a Hope Spot that will most likely end with you getting your arm broken punching out the abomination.

A common justification in video games (RPGs in particular) is to have something happen that relates to the story and limits the Big Bad's power and/or brings the heroes up to its level... then pummel it with extremely large swords and nuclear-apocalypse-level magic.

For the most extreme video-game examples, where the game designers intended for a character to be indestructible and players manage to kill it anyway, see Lord British Postulate.

Users of this trope are usually also users of some combination of the following tropes: Cutting the Knot, Rage Against the Heavens, Power Creep, Power Seep, Strong as They Need to Be, New Powers as the Plot Demands, God's Hands Are Tied, Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?, Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?, Staring Down Cthulhu, Wowing Cthulhu, Reasoning with God, Always a Bigger Fish, Defeating the Undefeatable, Summon Bigger Fish (the latter two are when it's essentially a real god, like Thor or Zeus, doing the punching out), The Worf Effect, Lovecraft Lite, Hanging Up on the Grim Reaper. Overlaps with Kill the God when the punch is fatal and a god per se is the victim.

Contrast Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu, Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?, Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?, Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh....

Not to be confused with The Worf Effect or Creator Killer.

Also see Do Not Taunt Cthulhu and Olympus Mons.

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Other examples:

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  • Blood Sword has your character or party (a unique feature of the series is using 1 - 4 characters) can fight several and defeat them either in combat or instantly through other means. Among them is Nebularon, an Anti-Magic (which can be used against him) Living Shadow who's a diminished demigod. There's also Umborus the Dark, an ancient demon of primordial darkness. Conjured by the flame of a dreamworld altar, it's so powerful that it will automatically mutilate or kill your character(s) with impunity unless you splash out the flame with milk or you have Shadowcleaver, a unique magic falchion that kills Umborus. The most terrible is when Susurrien summons Azidahaka, Nasu and the Yazir - the trio of monstrous "monomyths", avatars of demon gods from the Qlipothic realms and powered by lingering belief in an ancient pseudo-Babylonian mythology. These 3 together are almost impossible to beat by raw numbers (the Enchanter's Servile Enthrallment spell does work on 2 of them) and that's why there's an option to run.
  • In Michael J. Ward's DestinyQuest series, the books were heavily influenced by video games especially loot. So even a common goblin may have a decent magic dagger to take. Between constant magical loot and your character being an immortal former champion to dark forces, it's not too hard for you to take down an Eldritch Abomination. These will come in the form of Legendary Monsters (optional unique monster of great power and treasure) or Boss Monsters (monster that's necessary to defeat to continue your quest). One example is Ixion, the Wheel of Pain. This is a charred man affixed to a flying demonic torture wheel and it flies out to burn you to death in a difficult fight. You still have a good chance of winning and if you win while hexed, there's an extra piece of magical armour you can take.
  • This is commonplace in the long-running Fighting Fantasy series, examples include:
    • Beneath Nightmare Castle, the Sorcerous Overlord Xakhaz has been revived by a cult into an extremely disgusting Eldritch Abomination - a giant spheroid with multiple faces and complete with talons, crab claws and tentacles. Xakhaz has the honor of having the best stats ever of any enemy in Fighting Fantasy and if your character's Willpower is to low and you see Xakhaz for the first time, you'll be to terrified to fight back as he advances on you.
    • Island of the Undead has the Master of Fire, who was originally the foremost of 4 elementalists dabbling with other magic on a remote island. These wizards botch it and the Master of Fire becomes possessed by the unholy spirit, the Dire Specter. This unnatural mix of wizard and specter would go on to create mutants and fusions of elementals and the undead.
    • Night Dragon where you fight one of the first dragons in existence - a being so powerful it was at the War of the Gods, panicked the lesser dragons and even made trouble for the god of dragons itself. The first time you kill it, it's decapitated head sprouts spider legs for another fight - that's how unnatural the Night Dragon is.
    • Averted in Talisman of Death which is set on Orb from Way of the Tiger, you can have the misfortune of encountering Damohl, a son of the god Nil, Mouth of the Void. This serpentine chimeric abomination is immune to anything you have and will automatically kill you. Otherwise any other gross supernatural thing can be killed in this book.
  • It's almost the titular Lone Wolf's job in Lone Wolf as he kills Darklords and the alien god, the Chaos-master "a vaguely humanoid giant composed of the many parts of various animals... which keeps moving and changing shape unceasingly".
  • In gamebook series Way of the Tiger, the world's mightiest wizards and warriors, primordial beastgods, giants, ifrit, an Eldritch Abomination or two, demigods and demons — all have died under the fists and feet of your character, the ninja Avenger.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Alcestis, Herakles (Hercules) visits Admetus, a man famous for his hospitality. Learning that Admetus just lost his wife, he decides to pay his host back by beating up Death, thereby bringing her back to life. Herakles' whole existence revolved around being physically strong enough to ignore physics and punch out whatever he damn well pleased.
    • Herakles also beat Ares in a straight-up fight (not that this is impressive; for being the god of war, he's pretty much a sissy), and later on fought Apollo over a temple and managed to stand on even ground with him, and Herakles didn't have anyone backing him up for that fight. He also intimidated Charon into helping him, and almost shot Helios out of the sky until the sun charioteer gave him a boat. This in addition to all the monsters he took out. It's not surprising, though. He was pretty much bred to beat the hell out of things that other mortals couldn't.
  • The Bible: In the Book of Genesis, Jacob wrestled with an angel. After a long stalemate, his opponent realized that he would not give up and touched Jacob's hip, dislocating it. For this, Jacob gains the new name "Israel" ("Struggled/Persevered-With-God") as a reward for his stubbornness. Also, because of the way in which the angel defeated Jacob, observant Jews do not eat the sciatic nerve. Since the sciatic nerve is remarkably difficult to remove, most Jews simply do not eat the hindquarters of the animal, selling it to their Gentile neighbors instead.
  • In the Epic of Mwindo, Mwindo kills the god of the Underworld twice, resurrecting him both times.
  • In The Iliad, Diomedes goes on a god-stabbing rampage with the help of Athena. First he slashes Aphrodite when she tries to spirit away Aeneas. Feeling his oats, he attacks Apollo two times, but Apollo blinds Diomedes temporarily to save Aeneas (Aphrodite's demigod son). So essentially Apollo just throws a flash grenade at him, takes the guy, and runs. When Apollo and Aphrodite return to Olympus complaining about Diomedes, Ares descends to the battlefield on a mission. Athena leads Diomedes towards the god of war and guides his spear cast to take him directly in the gut. Ares screams and flees the field. Diomedes thus becomes the only mortal to wound two gods in a single day.
  • In The Odyssey, Menelaus was able to successfully capture the sea god Proteus, despite his opponent's legendary shapeshifting powers, and get him to answer his questions.
  • The Northern Frog. The Nigh Invulnerable titular beast is speared through its mouth, chained down, then has its head bashed in with a rock with the help of the invisibility-giving Ring of Solomon.


    Print Media 
  • Played for Laughs in a one-page, six-panel comic by the late Don Martin, in MAD Magazine. A man sees a bug on the street in front of him, and stomps on it. We see the guy endure a little Metronomic Man Mashing (BWAPPPPPP! FWADAPPPPP!). As the man lays unconscious, we see an extreme closeup of the bug walking away, wearing a karate gi, dusting off his hands (making this an offbeat example of Humans Are Cthulhu as well!).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Vince McMahon once booked a tag-team match between himself and his son, Shane, against Shawn Michaels and God. Yes, God. And yes, of course Vince's team won.
    • It helps that during the course of the storyline, Vince was capable of minor miracles, like walking on water.
    • It also helps that everyone knew perfectly well that God had better things to do than manifest physically at a wrestling event and that it was basically a glorified handicap match against Shawn.
    • It's even worse when you realize that Michaels is a born again Christian.
    • Also, God was portrayed by a spotlight, meaning that Vince and Shane had to start throwing themselves around whenever the light got near them.
  • At the unsanctioned ROH A Night Of Hoopla, Truth Martini's guest, "Satan", was punched low and dropped on his head by Hoopla Hotties Scarlett Bordeaux and Seleziya Sparx for being too rude.
  • This was likely to be the reaction of the WWE announcers if anybody ever managed to break The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak. The Undertaker is considered somewhat of a demi-god in kayfabe storylines and has been compared to The Grim Reaper or the Devil. After winning 21 matches, it finally happened. The streak was broken. Just look at the crowd (and Paul Heyman's) reaction once it happened.
    • Maven learned this the hard way after taking advantage of a distraction to eliminate Taker from the Royal Rumble. Suffice to say, the Dead Man was not pleased.
    • Hell, this the reaction of announcers any time someone manages to beat The Undertaker period. The best example probably has to be when The Great Khali did it, because the announcers' reactions for the next five minutes was them basically shouting at the top of their lungs, "WTF? HOW THE SHIT DID HE MANAGE TO PULL THIS OFF?"
  • The Lucha Underground Season 2 premiere features Pentagon Jr., who is known in the Temple to break the arms of fellow wrestlers. The first time you see him in the first episode of the second season? He breaks Mil Muertes' arm. Mind you, Mil is an undead luchador and the current LU champion.
  • In Boogeyman's PPV debut, at Royal Rumble 2006, he defeated John "Bradshaw" Layfield in a mere 1:56. JBL acknowledged this after, talking about how he had been so dominant as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and Boogeyman just beat him with ease. JBL even called himself "A Wrestling GOD," thus making the trope even more relevant.
  • InterSpecies Wrestling featured Lloyd Cthulowitz, based on you-know-who. He didn't win very often.
  • Well, 3.0 ("Big Magic" Shane Matthews and Scott "Jagged" Parker) came close. At CHIKARA Eye to Eye, September 18, 2010, they challenged Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Ares and Claudio Castagnoli) for the Campeonatos de Parejas. The BDK won the first fall in five seconds due to Delirious attacking before the bell. During the second fall, Jagged ducked a kick from Claudio, causing him to hit Ares, and rolled Claudio up for the pin. That was the first time the BDK had ever lost a fall in a CdP match. Along with Frightmare defeating Lince Dorado in the final of the Young Lions Cup Tournament on August 29th, this was a sign that the BDK were not invincible.

  • Destroy the Godmodder is a great place for this. Many such creations have died, up to, and including, Cthulhu himself.
    • There is, of course, the godmodder, who, despite being powerful enough to take on gods, dies at the end anyways.
  • Tripocalypse plays with this trope by having unnamed NPCs Punch Out God as part of the prologue (and promptly get out of the spotight), which allows the setting to exist in the first place.

    • This is basically the premise of the serial "The Powers That Be". Kopaka and Pohatu are trying to figure out who's been murdering some of the most powerful beings in the universe, Including the local Lovecraft-Shout-Out, Tren Krom.
    • Though it's subverted in the case of Carapar, who tries to kill the Lovecraft Shout-Out Tren Krom and gets disintegrated by the thing's Eye Beam for his efforts.
    • In another serial, "The Kingdom", an alternate-universe Makuta Teridax has become Eldritch Abomination-like by absorbing as many of the other villains as he can, since in this universe, Mata Nui (and therefore, the entire Matoran Universe) died before Matoro could pull off his Heroic Sacrifice. Matoro eventually allows himself to be absorbed by Teridax, combining Heroic Sacrifice, Mind Rape and the Cthulhu-punch all at once; since Teridax couldn't take over the universe, he had nothing really left to live for, and it weakened his mind to the point that Matoro could make him kick his own ass.
    • The basic premise of the entire story, is its Big Bad, Makuta Teridax, pulling one of these on Mata Nui, the Bionicle god, by poisoning him and casting him into a deep sleep, allowing him to rule over the Matoran people.
    • In the film Mask Of Light, Takanuva, the Toa of Light fights Teridax (who is basically Satan) and wins by pulling off his mask and dragging him into a pool of protodermis, fusing the two of them together. They emerge fused together as a single being named Takutanuva with Takanuva in control due to Teridax being weakened by the loss of his mask. They get seperated when they're flattened by a giant door. Long story. Anyway, Takanuva is resurrected but Teridax survives as a spirit.
    • The Toa Metru and Toa Hagah both managed to defeat the Makuta as well. Unlike his later defeats by the Toa Mata and Takanuva, Makuta's Gambit Roulette did not have his defeat planned for at the time. Especially noteworthy is that the Toa Metru were highly inexperienced at the time, though they did get a massive power up in the Mask of Time.

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Punch Out A God, Most Likely To Punch Out Cthulhu, Oh My Kenny They Killed God, Did You Just Mop Out Cthulhu


Hulk Punch

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