Follow TV Tropes


Exploited Immunity

Go To

"I'm fireproof. You're not."
Hellboy, Hellboy (2004)

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. This trope is about characters "attacking" by exposing themselves and their target to danger which they only expect themselves to survive.

This can range from the mundane (e.g., an amphibious character forcing their opponent onto land or drowning them) to the more fantastic (e.g., fireproof characters dragging their opponents into a burning building) and more abstract situations (e.g., stranding themselves in the desert when they have more experience surviving in it). It can also cover weaknesses that the target has which aren't shared by most people; what matters is that one character lacks the weakness and exposes them both to it (or they are exposed to it by the immune character's allies). It also counts if the character is only resistant rather than completely immune to whatever they're exposing themselves to (allowing them to claim Victory by Endurance).

This is one of the ways to use a Swiss-Army Superpower or to give a Technical Pacifist a victory. It can also show off an Adaptive Ability if it's used with something that the character was previously defeated with as well as being one of the many ways to use Geo Effects. If it's used against a protagonist, then expect a struggle to either escape in time or for them to end up stealing whatever was allowing their opponent to pull it off (e.g., stealing a mook's parachute after being pushed out of a plane). A monster with a Removed Achilles' Heel will likely use this on a less fortunate member of their own kind to show off their new lack-of-weakness. In many Platform Games, the player takes Collision Damage, while enemies don't, meaning they have but to walk into the Player Character to damage them.

Supertrope to Drugged Lipstick (unless there's explicitly another reason the user isn't affected by the drug) and Give Chase with Angry Natives (where the hazard is a third party). Compare Friendly Fireproof (for when the hazard in question is your allies' attacks), Good Thing You Can Heal, Acquired Poison Immunity, and You Can't Kill What's Already Dead. Contrast Suicide Attack and Deliberate Injury Gambit (where the attacker is harmed), We Have Reserves (where the attacker's allies are harmed — but the attacker doesn't care), Briar Patching (when Alice tricks enemy Bob into doing something helpful to her), Immunity Disability (where immunity to something can be "exploited" against said immune person), Revive Kills Zombie, and Immortal Life Is Cheap. Some versions of the Self-Poisoning Gambit rely on this. If the attacker's "unharmed" because they've already been harmed, this overlaps with Disability Immunity. See also Symmetric Effect, as this trope is one way to exploit mutually damaging variations.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kakuzu and Hidan from Naruto fight by exploiting Hidan's immunity to dying; Hidan recklessly charges down the enemy while Kakuzu bombards them with his area-wide jutsu. Hidan is immortal, so they have nothing to worry about.
  • In Code Geass, C.C. (while fighting in Knightmare Frames) grabs her opponent and tackles them both into the ocean, attempting to crush them both with the water pressure. C.C. is immortal and can regenerate, so she has nothing to worry about.
  • One Piece:
    • Don Krieg puts on a gas mask after launching his MH5 gas bomb, trying to poison Luffy with it. Thankfully, Luffy grabbed a Mook's gas mask to save himself.
    • Mr. 5's Devil Fruit lets him create explosions that don't hurt him, allowing him to use them at point-blank with impunity.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • During his fight with Super Saiyan Goku during the Namek Saga, Frieza, realizing he's no match for him, decides to blow up Namek completely; while both of them are strong enough to survive an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, only Frieza can survive in a vacuum.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Future Zamasu takes advantage of his Complete Immortality by pinning Goku and Trunks in place while Goku Black hits them with a Kamehameha. While both Goku and Trunks are critically injured and can barely stand, Zamasu walks away without a scratch.
  • Rin in Mnemosyne has Resurrective Immortality and takes advantage of this and regenerate any injuries on multiple occasions, but the best demonstration is in episode 4 where she drags a psychotic robot into a jet turbine. Even she worries if it'll be too much for her, and while she does eventually put herself back together it's after 20 years of continuous regeneration and loses her memories in the process.
  • Similarly, several immortal characters in Baccano! deliberately throw themselves into lethal situations to take a non-immortal out, since they'll just regenerate.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yami Marik does this a couple of times. First, his Shadow Game with Mai has both players losing memories of people they knew whenever one of their monsters is destroyed. But he's a sociopath, and she's not, so this has a large psychological effect on her over the course of the match, while he doesn't care at all. And against Joey, each player feels whatever pain their monsters feel and whenever a monster is destroyed, it saps the owner's stamina. Here he is counting on having greater stamina, while he saps away at Joey's strength to the point where he wins by disqualification when Joey falls unconscious seconds before victory.
    • In the Virtual World arc, the monsters and effects are solid so players experience real damage. When Crump duels Tea, he adds a rule where whenever a player receives damage, parts of their body become frozen. Crump is in the body of a penguin, so the cold doesn't bother him, while Tea really suffers. When Noah Kaiba duels Seto and then Yami Yugi, he uses his Virtual-Reality Warper powers to make it so the damage does not apply to him. Seto damages him several times and Yami Yugi hits him with several Direct Attacks and he doesn't feel a thing, while a mere 100 damage is extremely painful to Yami Yugi.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
    • Aki Izayoi, Divine, and other Psychic Duelists can make their cards real, so they basically turn duels into one-sided Shadow Games where any damage they inflict can seriously injure their opponents while nothing their opponents do affects them.
    • Aporia faces Jack, Lua, and Luca in a three on one duel where their cards become real and inflict real damage. Aporia has Feel No Pain, so he is not worried about any damage he takes, while his opponents do.
  • One-Punch Man: As Zombieman fights Homeless Emperor, the latter fires super-powerful explosive orbs, but being a regular human otherwise, cannot actually survive the explosion himself. Zombieman sneaks up on him in a moment of distraction, and puts him in a chokehold - if Homeless Emperor uses his power at this range, both of them would explode horrifically. The difference is, Zombieman would regenerate.
  • 3×3 Eyes, Yakumo often takes full advantage of his status of Wu (which means Complete Immortality)while fighting certain opponents. Examples include killing the first Tu Zhao (by grabbing his opponent and jumping with him in a fountain filled with burning gasoline), Elder Pael (let the monster bite him while carrying a large tank of liquid nitrogen) and during his gloveless match against a more skilled Muay Thai artist (since neither has protections, Yakumo can regenerate any damage, while his human opponent gradually hurts and tires himself while fighting.]]
  • Undead Unluck: Andy's regenerative powers let him survive the lethal accidents caused by contact with Fuuko. There's a delay during which Andy can get up close to enemies so they'll be hurt by the same incidents that he'll withstand.
  • Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon: Moroha is a demon/human hybrid who is unaffected by exorcism materials like purification salt. When fighting demons, one of her tactics is to hide purification salt in her mouth and spit it at them, as it acts like acid to pure blooded demons.

    Comic Books 
  • Daredevil: A favorite tactic of Daredevil is to take out the lights as, being blind and having radar sense, he can fight just fine without them, but it throws his enemies into confusion.
  • Deadpool: The Merc with a Mouth generally Fights Like a Normal and trusts in his Healing Factor to rectify any mistakes he makes, but it also lets him deliberately choose to take crippling or deadly injuries in order to land a surprise hit or escape a difficult situation. The old 'break the bones in your hands to get out of handcuffs' trick, for instance, is very easy for him, and shooting/stabbing through himself to kill an opponent is almost a Signature Move.
  • Great Lakes Avengers: Mr. Immortal's only superpower is coming back to life after dying. He once talked Omnicidal Maniac Maelstrom into a Suicide Pact. To show his commitment, Mr. I went first. After Maelstrom followed through with his half of the bargain, Mister Immortal came back to life and switched off his doomsday machine.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Subverted in issue #102. Mannah (a fish/squid hybrid creature) attempts this during his fights against the hippogriff Silverstream. Seeing she has wings, he creates a torrent of water to drown her, while he would be immune. However, Silverstream uses her pearl to transform into her seapony form, then resumes beating down Mannah.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation graphic novel The Gorn Crisis, Riker is on board a Klingon vessel that is being boarded by the titular Gorns. The Klingon captain is prepared to hit the self-destruct, but Riker convinces him to turn down the temperature on the life support instead. The Gorns, being cold-blooded Lizard Folk, are quickly reduced to torpor while the warm-blooded human and Klingons are merely a bit uncomfortable.
  • Superman: Every human who uses Kryptonite against a Kryptonian is doing this. But as Lex Luthor discovered, they need to beware of Immunity Attrition. Kryptonite may not kill a human in minutes, but it's still a radioactive material, and long-term exposure can cause cancer.
  • Vampirella: Being a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire with none of the traditional weaknesses of a vampire, Vampirella has occasionally used this to her advantage. She once encountered a group of American Civil War era vampires who outmatched her in numbers and had almost two centuries worth of fighting experience. Fortunately, she had brought with her a priest who blessed the falling rain, transforming it into holy water. While the other vampires died, she lived.
  • Wolverine: On one occasion, Wolverine sprayed Sabertooth with gasoline and threatened to light a match. When Sabertooth grabbed the gas pump and sprayed him right back, Wolverine shrugged and lit the match anyway.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • On more than one occasion in Wonder Woman (1942), Diana uses her immunity to extreme temperatures to deal with a foe, with one particularly foolish pursuer not giving up until they'd fainted from the heat.
    • Wonder Woman has repeatedly shown that she doesn't rely on her eyes. which lead to her intentionally blinding herself during her fight with Medusa in Wonder Woman (1987). She was still a better fighter than most of the Justice League in the months she spent blind afterwards. She also on occasion will turn out the lights to deal with hostage situations while leaving the hostage takers in the dark.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge: Anguirus, who is immune to fire, kills Jeog by dragging her into a burning cabin and holding her until she dies.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami and her designated allies can see through her own fog, so she can fill a room with it and fight fine, while her enemies have their vision hindered.
  • Survive the Night:
    • Clark Kent fights Michael Myers and starts losing because Clark is Weak to Magic and the Curse of Thorn makes Michael and any weapon he uses supernatural. Martha Kent opens fire with a gun even though she is a lousy shot. She hits Clark a few times, but she knows Clark is Immune to Bullets and what few bullets hit Michael stun him.
    • In a rematch, Michael shatters a skylight and lets the glass rain down on him and Clark. The now supernatural glass cuts them both and Clark screams in pain, but Michael has Feel No Pain and a Healing Factor.
  • In A wand for Steven, Amethyst is the perfect person to fight the basilisk, because its lethal stare is no more than a momentary setback to her. Looking in its eyes merely causes her to poof and then reform again seconds later, ready for more.
  • In We Can Do This Forever, Twilight defeats Starlight by exploiting her own immunity to aging. As long as Twilight keeps retriggering the time-travel spell, Starlight has not succeeded. And since the spell doesn't reset their personal timelines, each loop costs Starlight a little bit of time. Twilight, as an alicorn, is unaging. If she has to, she can keep fighting Starlight again and again until Starlight grows old and dies.
  • With This Ring: The Mister Atom robot is not only unharmed by radiation, but actually feeds on it to become stronger, so he arranges his confrontation with the Justice League to occur over a lake of radioactive waste, where only the most resilient League members, like Superman and Wonder Woman, can face him. And then, during the fight, he deliberately damages the concrete covering the lake, allowing radiation to leak out and forcing the League to focus resources on containing the environmental hazard, at the same time as Atom himself is rejuvenated by it.

  • In Hellboy (2004), the title character's immunity to fire comes up a few times:
    • Hellboy defeats a demon by grabbing a live subway rail. He's fine (because he's fireproof), but the demon is less fortunate.
    • When Hellboy is fighting swarms of Sammaels, Liz the pyrokinetic releases a fire blast that took all the Sammaels down while leaving Hellboy intact.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood plans an attack on the Houses of Parliament that involves gassing everyone inside with cyanide, leaving his opponents dead and his supporters alive, allowing them to seize power for him while reinforcing his image of being an Evil Sorcerer who protects those loyal to him with dark magic. He secretly immunizes his supporters against cyanide poisoning the night before the attack, by making them drink a toast in his honor.
  • Alien Nation: Due to their Bizarre Alien Biology, saltwater burns Newcomers like acid. A Newcomer drug lord has his human henchmen pull another Newcomer into the ocean to kill him.
  • Mars Attacks!: When the Martians hear recordings of Slim Whitman singing "Indian Love Call" their heads explode. The humans take advantage of this to destroy them.
  • In the original V (1983) movie V: The Final Battle, the humans use a Red Dust chemical weapon that kills the aliens but doesn't harm humans.
  • In Machete Kills, the eponymous character kills a mook by taking him with one hand, and then stabbing an electric box with his machete, making the electrical current go through both of their bodies. There's absolutely no explanation as why Machete got away unscathed while the mook died, besides Rule of Cool, though.
  • Constantine (2005) has the title character flush out some demons that have infested a hospital by having his apprentice perform a holy water ritual on the hospital's fire safety system, then holding a cigarette lighter below a smoke detector, triggering the sprinklers to rain holy water. The holy water burns the demons while leaving the humans inside unharmed.
  • In Death Proof, this is how the serial killer gets away with his crimes. He's an ex-stuntman who drives a specially modified vehicle which protects him even in serious crashes. It's designed for movie stunts, but he uses it to deliberately cause fatal collisions, walking away with minor injuries and without being charged with a crime. (As an additional precaution, he targets victims who've been drinking, knowing that they'll be blamed for the crash).
  • During the final battle in Iron Man, Tony Stark flies skyward while Obadiah Stane gives chase in the Iron Monger suit. When Stane catches him miles above the surface, where the air is freezing cold...
    Obadiah Stane: You had a great idea, Tony, but my suit is more advanced in every way!
    Tony Stark: How did you solve the icing problem?
    Obadiah Stane: "Icing problem?" [the Iron Monger suit freezes up]
    Tony Stark: Might wanna look into it.
  • An accidental example near the end of The Frighteners. Frank (as a ghost) pulls Patricia into the afterlife with him, causing Bartlett to chase them. It turns out that it's "not his time" and he's sent back (and would have had a place in Heaven anyway), but the two serial killers are immediately dragged off to Hell.
  • In Innerspace, Tuck moves his battle with Igoe into Jack's stomach, where the acid dissolves the baddie while Tuck remains unharmed in his minisub.
  • In Revenge of the Sith, the cyborg General Grievous breaches the hull of his own ship in hopes of ejecting the heroes into the vacuum of space.
    Grievous: You lose.

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ):
    • The Gravity Domain spell greatly increases the weight of those in the area of effect — except the allies of the caster. Which means that when Anthony uses it, pinning monsters helplessly to the ground, Tiny can then go around smashing them without any hindrance.
    • Having a much higher Will stat than your average monster, Anthony is better able to resist the effects of Tiny's stunning scream. Several times, he has Tiny scream into a melee that includes him, knowing that he'll recover better than the monsters all around.
  • In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, witches melt in water, and wizards melt in soapy water (with some lemon). At one point a wizard uses the witch Morwen as a shield, so the stone prince gets both of them with the cleaning solution, correctly deducing that "no one who lives in a house as clean as [Morwen's] could possibly melt in a bucket of soapsuds".
  • In The Zombie Knight, the servant Desmond can make parts of his body, or even the whole thing, explode violently. He always makes sure his reaper is clear of the blast zone, and if she's okay she can recreate him, but if he manages to catch his enemy's reaper or a non-servant opponent in the blast...
  • This trope appeared in a few of Larry Niven's stories:
    • In "Smut Talk", a Draco Tavern story, the bartender is infected with a Puppeteer Parasite sentient virus. It warns his friends that there's no way to get rid of it without killing the bartender too, but the friends point out that they can just treat him with antiviral sulfa drugs.
    • In "The Lion in His Attic", a sorceress infiltrates a partially submerged castle by using magic to make the water withdraw. A man breaks her concentration and causes her spell to lapse, resulting in the water flooding back in and drowning her. The man doesn't care because he's a were-sea lion — he just changes to sea lion form and swims back to the surface.
  • In The Princess Bride (and the film), Vizzini and the Man in Black are playing Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo. Unbeknownst to Vizzini, the Man in Black has trained his body to tolerate the poison being used, so when Vizzini offers to let him choose which goblet holds the poison, he puts a half-dose in both goblets, takes a swig and watches as Vizzini drinks himself to death.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the night Mat first discovers he's Born Lucky, he's attacked by a gang of assassins, and in a reckless move hurls himself off a bridge along with one of them, trusting his luck to save him. The assassin breaks his fall and he waltzes off unharmed.
  • Lensman: When fighting the villain Helmuth face to face, Kinnison is wearing nigh-indestructible armour, but Helmuth has the home ground advantage — so Kinnison grapples him and flings them both into the path of one of Helmuth's machine guns. Kinnison's armour survives it unscathed, but Helmuth's doesn't.
  • In The Licanius Trilogy, the exact circumstances of Davian's death have been foreseen, allowing him to take incredible risks because he knows they won't be fatal. Of course, the antagonists know this as well, and use it as justification for very severe and harsh treatment during his imprisonment.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge series, it's common to use a bag of iron filings as an area-effect anti-sidhe weapon that won't hurt human hostages.
  • In The Salvation War, a common tactic when tanks are swarmed by demons is for the tank's fellows to hose it down with machine-gun fire, killing the demons but having little effect against the tank's thick armor.
  • In 1636: the Saxon Uprising, General Stearns (having come from a working class background) is famous for taking care of his troops: enforcing good hygiene, providing ample food, and keeping them outfitted with warm clothing and decent equipment, in an age when most armies were made of underpaid mercenaries who had to buy all their own gear. Stearns uses this as a tactical advantage by waiting until the middle of winter to attack an enemy force. Their opponents have larger numbers, and their commanding officer General Baner has a record of success, but they're dressed in rags, demoralized by months of freezing in the trenches, and many of them are sick or recovering from illness. Then he attacks in the middle of a whiteout blizzard, which paralyzes Baner's centralized army (which is used to sweeping maneuvers requiring an awareness of the whole battlefield) but is much less of an obstacle for Stearns' self-directed regiments.
  • Downplayed by Damon Kronski in Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, who likes organizing meetings in a leather souk in order to give himself an edge over whoever he's meeting. Most people find the smell of the leather-tanning chemicals used in the souk unpleasant or unsettling, but Kronski isn't fazed by this because he was born with anosmia and doesn't have a sense of smell. Holly defeats him by using her healing magic to fix his sense of smell and rob him of his immunity. His First Time Feeling of the chemicals drives him crazy.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Search by the Foundation": The Second Foundationers have near unstoppable Psychic Powers, but Dr Darell discovers that he can disable them by broadcasting a loud psychic static with a special electrical apparatus he calls the "mental static" device, while leaving normal people unaffected. He compares this to flashing a bright light in somebody's eyes; somebody without sight (i.e. normal people, without the psychic powers) are not even aware of the light, whereas people who can see will be hurt and incapacitated.
  • Servant Mage: The mages can take an Extradimensional Emergency Exit through the Spirit World in (relative) safety because their powers come from spirits symbiotically linked to their souls, making them immune to possession. Their non-mage pursuers are vulnerable to a nightmarish Grand Theft Me from hostile spirits.
  • A downplayed version in The Puppet Masters. Humans aren't immune to Venusian Nine-Day Fever. In fact, as the name implies, it will kill a human in seven to ten days if left untreated. However, it will kill a puppet master in five days, leaving a window for the liberated humans to be treated.
  • Daughters of the Moon: Stanton frightens a minor villain into giving up some information by setting their car on a high-speed collision course — they both know that Stanton's immortal and the villain very much isn't.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Lexx: "Battle" features an accidental example; Prince shows up to taunt Xev as she's dying in the desert, however he dies of dehydration almost immediately (since she's a Half-Human Hybrid with DNA from a desert dwelling creature and he isn't).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "For the Uniform", Eddington bombs Cardassian colonies with chemicals that are harmful to them, but not humans. In response, Sisko bombs Maquis colonies in kind with a chemical with an inverse toxicity, to force Eddington to surrender.
  • Tracker: One episode has an assassin who exposed himself to a deadly virus which can kill by touch but doesn't harm him as long as he kills often enough. Except in human form, where it turns into a Mate or Die thing.
  • Highlander:
    • One villain uses a dark room to blind his opponents while he's wearing night vision goggles. Duncan thwarts this by using a lit match to blind the guy long enough to take him out.
    • The recurring villain Xavier St. Cloud uses a variant of this. Early in the 20th century, Xavier, a longtime immortal, developed a fondness for the use of toxic gas in his robberies, and in one scene from the series' present day, he simply walks into a large jewelry shop, drops a vial of the stuff, lets everyone there including him succumb to the poison, then calmly gets back up a minute later when his Healing Factor brings him back to life, at which point he grabs all the loot and leaves.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Doomsday", the Doctor vanquishes the Daleks and Cybermen by opening the Void and exposing the planet to "background radiation", which is found in the void and is self-attractive. The Daleks and Cyberman, who have been living in the void for years, are already soaked in the stuff so they are sucked back in, while humans remain unharmed. However, Rose, who has traveled between her universe and Pete's World, is also covered in a bit of Void Stuff, and is nearly pulled through herself except for Pete's intervention.
    • In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" the Daleks are defeated by detonating an underground pocket of trapped magnetic fields. The resulting surge of magnetism crushes the metal Daleks, while their human slaves are unaffected.
  • The X-Files: In "Nothing Important Happened Today", part 1, a female Super-Soldier who can't be killed lures a man into driving her home, forces his car to drive off a bridge and holds him underwater until he drowns.
  • Daredevil (2015) uses the example from the comic book section: before going in to save Claire from a room full of Russian mobsters, Matt takes out the lights in the room as he's blind and doesn't need them anyway. This serves to a) handicap the mooks who now can't see as well to fight, b) scare the mooks who now have to fight a man dressed in black coming at them out of the dark, and c) inform Claire that he's there as she knows about his blindness.
  • Sanctuary: In one episode, someone who appears to be Dr. Magnus claims that saltwater makes yetis stronger. At the end there are two Magnuses in the same room that's half flooded with seawater and Will mentions what the first Magnus had said about yetis and saltwater. The second Magnus then grabs her double and throws the two of them into the water, which turns out to actually be like acid to yeti skin.
  • Game of Thrones: In "Book of the Stranger", Daenerys Targaryen is in a hut with the Dothraki Khals while they discuss what to do with the rebellious khaleesi, considering gang-rape as an option. Unknown to them, the floor was treated with a flammable coating, the doors were barred shut from outside, and the guards outside were assassinated. Dany casually knocked over the braziers after delivering a scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the khals, eventually engulfing all the hut in an inferno. Dany is Immune to Fire. She walks out of the inferno naked, and the entire Dothraki people gathered around fall to their knees in reverent awe.
  • Burn Notice: Michael and Sam get into a fight in one episode. Knowing he isn't a match for Michael in a typical fist fight, Sam, a former SEAL, tackles Michael into the water, where he has the advantage. It doesn't work, however, as Michael gains the upper hand by pretending to pass out.
  • Heroes:
    • Adam Monroe uses this tactic against Nakamura. He met the victim atop a skyscraper, grabbed him and jumped off. Monroe can regenerate, and apparently isn't afraid of heights.
    • Claire Bennett, who also has regenerative abilities, used this to get back at a Jerk Jock who had tried to rape her (and only stopped because he accidentally "killed" her while she was trying to escape). So she drives a car at full speed against a wall with him in the passenger seat. She walks away, while he ends up in a hospital with severe injuries.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: A spell lacking any Penetration total on the spellcasting die roll can't affect a target with any Magic Resistance, which every Hermetic magus has to at least some degree. Magi can deliberately omit Penetration from their spellcasting to exclude each other from Area of Effect spells.
  • d20 Modern:
    • In Urban Arcana, you can cast a spell on yourself to resist concussion damage. Strap some C-4 to yourself (C-4 (and all explosives) inflicts concussion damage). Then, enjoy being a suicide bomber who actually ditches the "Suicide" part.
    • Similarly, tear gas, which actually is a Game-Breaker at lower levels, since it allows the PCs to just wear gas masks and function normally while their opponents (who are unlikely to be equipped with gas masks a low levels) are exposed to the full effects of the tear gas.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Intelligent undead spellcasters, such as liches, can use Area of Effect magic like cloudkill, sleep and stinking cloud on themselves and their minions with impunity, since undead are immune to these effects.
    • Elven mages can use sleep spells without fear of friendly fire, as elves are immune to Forced Sleep effects.
    • Any PC that is or acquires an immunity to a type of attack can be expected to exploit this. For example, a mage under a minor globe of invulnerability effect, which blocks 3rd-level and lower spells, can use a staff that casts 3rd-level area-of-effect spells at point-blank range.
    • The inquisitor's bracers is a magic item that inverts this, by allowing the wearer to simultaneously make a melee attack against and cast a healing spell on the same target. If used on a normal living person, they'll be hurt by the attack but healed by the spell, leaving them likely angry but healthy. But if used against a vampire or other undead disguising themselves as a living person, they'll take damage from the melee attack and the healing spell, revealing their true nature.
    • Avernus, the top layer of the Nine Hells of Baator, is a Fire and Brimstone Hell where fireballs constantly rain down from the sky. This helps the native devils in their Forever War against the demons — the baatezu have a racial immunity to fire damage, while any invading tanar'ri are merely resistant to fire damage.
    • The yuan-ti are a race of Snake People with immunity to all poisons. They make extensive use of poison traps when defending their lairs, and they sometimes assassinate human nobles and royalty by getting one of their agents hired as a food taster and having them certify poisoned food as being safe to eat.
  • The Burning Woman is a Slasher, a supernaturally-powered murderer from Hunter: The Vigil. Specifically, she's a Mask, a Slasher whose superhuman toughness recalls Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Tough as they are, most Masks aren't immune to fire, but the Burning Woman is, and she takes full advantage of it, coating herself and her weapons with flammable substances and setting them alight before attacking, or sometimes simply setting a building on fire and hunting people through it.
  • Certain vampire swordfighting techniques in Vampire: The Dark Ages involve vampires with Fortitude allowing their opponent to stab them in order to trap the opponent's sword in their body.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle: An early edition has the spell "Wind of Death", which hits every living thing on the table and (statistically speaking) can kill an average human unit 50% of the time. A player who has tougher troops (or, better yet, undead troops, who are immune) can easily find themselves better off than their opponent after using it.
  • Warhammer 40,000: In 2nd edition, the Avatar of Khaine is completely immune to flame and melta-weapons. The Eldar Fire Dragons carry melta-weapons that are devastating against any vehicle or infantry unit. Some players thus deliberately charge in the Avatar at some huge monstrosity like a Hive Tyrant or Carnifex and have a nearby Fire Dragon squad open fire on both combatants. The Avatar comes out unscathed while the enemy is reduced to a smouldering crisp.

    Video Games 
  • Bravely Default has a number of attacks that hit the whole field. There's generally ways to avoid it, but it's usually easiest to set up elemental protection on your party and just spam the attack.
  • Some of the upgrades in Deus Ex: Human Revolution make Jensen immune to area-of-effect weapons he can use against enemies (for example, being immune to poison gas allows you to simply set off traps with it and let mooks suffocate). There aren't many chances to use it this way, but one reason for the sky-high price of Jensen's cybernetics is an equally high resistance to EM and electric shock; no enemy in the game can recover as completely from either as you can.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
    • Being the first game in the series where the player can swim, CJ can evade pursuit by jumping into water. The pursuers will jump in after him, but they have Super Drowning Skills.
    • Finishing the firetruck missions makes you completely immune to fire. So, you can stand in the middle of a burning firestorm and watch your enemies incinerate themselves.
  • Pokémon franchise:
    • Generation 3 introduced the weather effects Sandstorm and Hail, which will cause all Pokemon on the field to take gradual damage for a period of time. This damage is negated if the Pokemon is an Ice type (for Hail) or a Ground, Rock, or Steel type (for Sandstorm), with Rock types actually having their Special Defense stat increased by 50% during a Sandstorm.
    • There are some attacks what will deal damage to every one in the battlefield in Double or Triple Battles. Some Pokémon can either prevent damage dealt from them, like Flying-type Pokémon being immune to Earthquake, or benefit from them, like a Pokémon with the Dry Skin or Water Absorb abilities being healed by Surf.
    • Some of the most powerful moves in the game, such as Take Down and Head Smash, are accompanied by recoil damage that hurts the user. This can be negated by Pokemon with the Rock Head ability.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: The Armageddon spell is one of the most damaging spells available, but inflicts heavy damage on ally and enemy alike. There are a few ways to negate this; some monsters (such as the fire-immune ifreet and the magic-immune black dragons) will be unharmed by the spell, and the Armageddon's Blade renders your entire army immune as one of the perks of wielding it.
  • Borderlands 2:
    • A variation — shields that grant immunity to certain elements encourage players to liberally spread that element around when enemies are affected by it and they are not. Most commonly manifests as the liberal application of fire from flame-elemental grenades or Exploding Barrels, doing considerable Damage Over Time to enemies and leaving the immune player unharmed.
    • Krieg, a Psycho turned Vault Hunter, has two examples in his skill tree.
      • One skill allows him to become an Action Bomb if his HP is depleted. If he manages to kill an enemy in the explosion, he'll come back to life thanks to the second wind mechanic.
      • He also has a skill tree branch dedicated to setting both himself and his enemies on fire. While he does still take damage from setting himself on fire, he heals based on damage he deals with elemental effects, including damage he deals to himself with incendiary weapons, making him more or less immune while still taking full damage, just the way he likes it.
  • One highly effective late-game tactic in Summoner is to load everyone with frost-resistance items, and then have Rosalind cast Blizzard into every melee.
  • The games in the Final Fantasy series have a few examples:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, there are many different enemies that will attack the entire battlefield, including themselves, with powerful attacks. However, as they are either immune to the elements of those attacks or actually gain health from them, the disadvantages of these attacks are lost. This can also be done with playable characters, by equipping them with elemental immune items.
    • In Final Fantasy IX: Vivi's most powerful spell is Doomsday, which inflicts shadow damage on all allies and enemies on the field. Equipping your characters with gear that absorbs shadow will cause them to be healed by the spell instead. The Superboss Ozma also tries this, but it's possible to invert it: it has Doomsday in its arsenal and normally absorbs shadow damage, but one sidequest rewards you by making it weak to shadow instead, so if it does use the spell, it'll harm itself.
    • Calculators in Final Fantasy Tactics have the ability to cast almost any regular spell in the game instantly and at no cost, provided you can find a parameter and multiple that applies to the target (they're basically a whole class based around the "Lv. X" spells from the main games). Unfortunately there is no way to differentiate friend from foe if the selected parameters apply to both. Fortunately, you can outfit your entire team to absorb a specific element (Holy is a popular choice) and blast away.
  • Some Worms games have Armageddon; an indiscriminate meteor storm that targets the whole map. It can be used to invoke this trope if you've prepared a lot of girders and/or dug your team deeply into the ground.
  • Voodoo Vince pretty much uses this trope as a central game mechanic. You play as a voodoo doll, and your strongest attacks are 'voodoo' attacks that get charged up and unleashed, and are randomly chosen from the ones you've learned. They can range from getting halved by a bear trap to getting crushed by a satellite, but they all involve 'killing' Vince in order to insta-kill nearby enemies—Vince can do it all day, but the monsters he's killing would say otherwise.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, the Rockmen aliens are immune to fire. Therefore, a valid tactic for defeating enemy ships is to use a firebomb to light the ship's interior on fire, then send in your Rockmen crew to board the ship and interfere with the enemy crew's attempt to put the fires out. Similarly, the Lanius, with their immunity to suffocation, are perfect for fighting in airless rooms, a tactic that would otherwise be suicidal. Normally, when dealing with boarders, your main options are either venting the compromised rooms or sending in your crew to fight them. With a Lanius crew, you can do both at once.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Argonians have a racial ability which allows them to breathe underwater. They also have a reputation for being skilled at guerrilla warfare, constructing underwater camps (which are naturally hard for non-Argonians to assault) and one of their favorite tactics is to ambush their victims, grab them, drag them underwater, and keep them there until they drown (a feat which, unfortunately, is difficult to replicate in-game due to the lack of grappling mechanics).
  • In both the games and literature for The Witcher, witchers have a greatly enhanced tolerance of body toxins. This is exploited by the witchers concocting and imbibing a variety of potions that would be greatly beneficial to a normal person if they weren't highly (often fatally) toxic. Some of these potions involve no benefit for the witcher but poisons their blood against hematophagic monsters they may expect to face while on the job.
  • In the MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons Online, some classes (ranger, rogue, monk) have good Reflex saving throws and the Evasion ability (take no damage instead of half damage on a successful reflex save for half damage). Some players playing these classes will get the attention of monsters and run them through traps they will easily dodge, unlike the monsters...
    • A variant on the above, usable by every class (though Barbarians and Monks are better at it due to fast speed) is to use careful timing to avoid a trap while the enemy will jump right into it to follow you.
  • In Super Smash Bros., The various "kirby-cides" can be a variant of this. If you have at least two stock and your foe doesn't, bodily grabbing your foe and diving off the edge with them, you'll get a net win, as you'll respawn and they won't. Of course, if you both have one stock, it's a more standard trope, and if you have one stock and your foe doesn't it's just useless.
  • Fallout series:
    • Ghouls are humans who have been mutated into zombie-like creatures via exposure to intense radiation, and are now healed by radiation rather than being killed by it. Glowing Ones are some of the most powerful ghouls, able to store radiation within their bodies and release it in concentrated bursts, which can both heal other ghouls and induce radiation poisoning in humans.
    • Fallout 3 originally averted this. You still had to sacrifice yourself in the chamber of deadly radiation at the end of the game, or take the Evil karma option and convince Sarah Lyons to sacrifice herself instead, despite the fact that you may have one of three possible companions who are immune to radiation tagging along with you, one of whom is a brainwashed slave who is physically unable to disobey you no matter how much he may want to. Yet all of them will refuse and tell you to do it yourself. Purchasing the Broken Steel DLC will allow you to send one of them in, but the narrator still calls you a coward for not doing it yourself.
    • Doctor Brian Virgil from Fallout 4 betrayed the Institute, then turned himself into a supermutant and took refuge in the Glowing Sea, hoping that the intense radiation would deter anyone from following him while not affecting him due to his mutation.
  • Dawn of War: Dark Crusade gives the Mad Dok the Burna Bomb ability, which creates a ridiculously powerful explosive near the dok's position. The dok also has an ability that makes him, an infantry squad, or the squad he's attached to, entirely invulnerable. Do the math.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy:
    • The Cosmic Monolith is rather infamous for this in the third game. It has an attack appropriately called Doomsday that hits the entire battlefield for massive dark damage that is nigh impossible to survive without equipment reducing dark damage. It, of course, absorbs dark, so it also heals itself while putting your party at Death's doorstep at the same time. One wonders whether this is not Shout-Out to Ozma. On the other hand, there are fights where its allies are not resistant to darkness, but it still spells trouble. The next games changed Doomsday so it hits only enemies.
    • The following games also have some spells such as Ashes that puts burn on everyone on entire battlefield. Since the damage from burn here is fiery Damage Over Time that can be absorbed, no points for guessing which enemies use it. Likewise, the Virus from 5 deals Bio damage and can spread by itself from enemies to allies by interaction between them, and this is used by the Final Boss that can spread Virus and absorbs Bio.
  • Into the Breach provides many opportunities for this:
    • Any unit who steps on a flame tile is set on fire for one damage per turn. However, the only mechs actively designed to Kill It with Fire have flame shielding, and can set the whole map on fire with impunity.
    • Vek can drown, while your mechs can't, so it's possible to stand in a tidal wave zone, cause a vek to move next to you, and then watch it drown. Flying Mechs (especially the swap mech) can use this effectively on other terrain types as well.
    • Smoke will prevent any unit from attacking or repairing itself, but any mech piloted by Camilla Vera is immune to both it and webbing, making her a very effective pilot for one of the smoke throwing Rusting Hulks.
    • Some powerful weapons damage both the target and the user, however, a mech with either built in armor or the pilot Abe Isamu won't take damage, significantly improving their lifespan. Putting up a shield before any kind of attack that would harm yourself or an ally (such as lightning whip also works.
  • The Divinity: Original Sin II combat system makes heavy use of Geo Effects, Area of Effect spells, and stackable Damage Reduction for various elements, so the player characters can Invoke this and suffer from it. Standouts include enemies who are Immune to Fire and spam their pyrokinesis and a group of undead who make liberal use of poison effects that either ignore or heal them; the undead playable character Fane can use the same strategy himself.

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • During one of her earlier appearance, Miko Miyazaki refuses to attack a band of ogres in their sleep, but instead wakes them and allows them to surround her... and then orders Vaarsuvius and Durkon to target her with their fire and lightning spells. As a former Monk, she has the Evasion ability and can easily pass a Reflex save to minimize her injuries, while all the ogres take full damage.
    • A minor example occurs in "Rock the Boat", when Elan jumps on Kubota's rowboat. When Kubota complains that he's going to sink the boat and drown both of them, Elan reminds him that he isn't wearing any weighty armor (unlike Kubota, who's wearing a breastplate), so he has a better chance of swimming to safety.
    • During a fight between Vaarsuvius and a Black Dragon, the dragon deploys an Anti-Magic field which robs them both of their spellcasting. As the dragon notes, a Squishy Wizard like V deprived of their magic becomes almost completely useless, while a dragon deprived of magic still retains their brute strength.
    • Xykon has no problem using his area-of-effect Meteor Swarm spell at point-blank range because he has a magic item that makes him immune to fire damage.
    • Simultaneously play straight and inverted in one fight scene in which Roy has Durkon use a Holy Word spell in range of a group of villains, then has Belkar spring an ambush on them. One of the villains attempts to use a Suggestion spell on Belkar, but Belkar was deafened by the Holy Word, causing the Suggestion to fail.
      Roy: It's not a bug, it's a feature.
    • Undead are harmed by Cure Wounds spells and healed by Inflict Wounds. When the heroes fight a group of vampires, the living spellcasters use Area of Effect Cure spells to help their team while harming their enemy, while the vampires do the same with Inflict spells.
  • In Another Gaming Comic, this is Nuclear Dan's tactic of choice. He builds characters that are either immune or highly resistant to fire, and then drops fireballs centred on himself. It gets to the point where he actually forgets that fireball is a long range spell, and he doesn't have to catch himself in the area of effect if, for some reason, he is not immune.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, while fighting Gray Goo during the Oisri mission, the Toughs's armor allowed them to survive tactics like flaming down rooms to fry airborne nanite clouds and killing infested Super Soldiers by opening hull breaches.
    Chisulo: Check with the enemy and see if they'd like to join us outside for a breath of fresh nothing.
  • This was the favorite tactic of the Nidraa'chal in the backstory of Drowtales, where they would open up a nether gate in a populated area and the demons that came through would start possessing the citizens and soldiers sent to oppose them. The Nidraa'chal themselves were unaffected by this because they had already willingly merged with a demon and couldn't be possessed again.
    • As a result of the above the Sarghress clan developed their own counter strategy in the form of the War Meat, a squad of non-fae (humans, orcs, ferals etc.) who due to lacking auras could not be possessed by the demons, so they would be sent in first to kill the nether summoners before the regular troops moved in to finish the job.
  • Big Ears from Goblins carries a magic axe that has a unique enchantment; it cannot be used to harm a paladin, and will pass harmlessly through their body as though it were intangible. In one strip, he takes advantage of this when being grappled by Saral Caine, passing the axe through himself in order to stab Saral through the chest.

    Web Original 
  • In Twig, the rebel forces against the Academy of Evil develop a means of rendering their elite soldiers immune to the Academy's poisonous gasses and plagues, and take advantage of this to deploy troops amidst clouds of poisonous gasses where the Academy's human soldiers can't enter, slaughtering the mindless Stitched with the advantage of human leadership.

    Western Animation 
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In one episode, Valmont attempts to free himself from Demonic Possession by Shendu, by handling the Pan'Ku Box, an object forged using Good Magic, which Shendu can't touch. It hurts both of them, but Shendu suffers more and is rendered unconscious by the pain.
    Shendu: Fool! The Pan'Ku Box was forged using good magic. We cannot touch it!
    Valmont: No Shendu. You cannot touch it!
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: In one episode, Tombstone, who doesn't need to breathe, catches the hero in a chokehold inside a room that's filling up with toxic gas.
  • The Mask: In the animated series, one villain, Kablamus, was originally a children's entertainer attempting to develop a formula to keep balloons from popping. After the inevitable laboratory accident, he became a supervillain with the ability to explode his own body and then regenerate.
  • Justice League: A brawl between Aquaman and Wonder Woman was neck-and-neck for the powerful pair until Aquaman forces Wonder Woman into the water where his ability to breathe beneath it gives him the advantage.
  • Star Wars Rebels, "Rebel Resolve": In his getaway, Chopper spaces himself. While the pursuing stormtroopers helplessly flail about in vacuum and quickly run out of air, Chopper does not breathe and has a rocket for propulsion.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) The turtles and their mutant alligator ally Leatherhead are semi-aquatic by nature and they use this to their advantage on several occasions. The turtles use the water to sneak into areas at several points and one episode has Michelangelo holding his breath for an extended period in order to get through a room full of toxic air. Leatherhead meanwhile hides a kraang energy crystal in an area that's only accessible through a flooded tunnel, and in season four he drags evil mutant dog Rahzar into the ocean and drowns him.

    Real Life 
  • Some species of ants can attack their enemies with formic acid. Birds will sometimes deliberately enrage colonies of these ants, since the acid only hurts them a little but kills off fleas and other parasites.
  • Alcohols are toxic. However, some sorts (most notably ethanol, which can easily be produced with fermentation) can be safely processed by the human body in limited amounts while being very lethal to moulds, bacteria and other assorted nasties. Same could be said with a lot of traditional ways to preserve food, such as with salt or acids that humans can tolerate in small amounts but microorganisms cannot.
  • Narrow-spectrum pesticides and herbicide-resistant crops invoke this trope, killing off pests without affecting valuable or harmless organisms in the same field. Similarly, a lot of modern insecticides are designed to be completely harmless towards humans by using substances that are only toxic to insects, making spraying houses a safer prospect.
  • This is how most of medicine works. Flood your system with something that binds to 50S Ribosomal Subunit? Or the PBPs in the cell membrane? Those sound like some potent poisons. Except to life forms which use different ribosomes and membranes and therefore the poisons have nothing to target (e.g. humans).
    • Penicillin in particular works by inhibiting the growth of bacterial cell walls, causing the bacteria to die when its cell wall disintegrates. Animal cells, unlike plants, fungi, and bacteria, do not have cell walls.
    • Even without medical intervention, many of the human body's inborn defense mechanisms target infections this way. Both lysozyme in our sweat and saliva and the complement proteins in our plasma puncture bacterial cells, but not human cells, because they can only target the bacterial cell wall.
    • Fevers are actually a Downplayed version of this. While a sufficently high fever can be lethalnote , there's a butter zone between "normal body temperature" and "harmful temperature" where humans are at most uncomfortable but the pathogens struggle to survive.
  • Riot Squads usually wear gas masks, so they can exploit this by using tear gas against large crowds (for better or for worse), as can a SWAT Team. Military examples (like the SAS) avert this, however, since while they often adopt the Gas Mask Mook look for intimidation (and just in case someone else renders the air unbreathable), the rules and customs of war mean they're not allowed to use chemical weapons themselves.
  • Trafigura had a "super injunction" note  taken out to prevent the press from reporting on its alleged illegal waste dumping activities on the Ivory Coast. However, MPs in British parliament have a legal version of this trope; "parliamentary privilege". This allows them to say what they want without any legal consequencesnote , so Paul Farrelly MP simply mentioned it as an example in a debate about super injunctions, without any need to worry about being in contempt of court but overturning the injunction and making Trafigura's previously unrepeatable deeds a matter of public record on live TV at the same time.
  • Japanese honey bees protect their nests from hornets by dogpiling them and vibrating, giving off heat and turning the centre of the swarm into a convection oven. The bees have a slightly higher heat tolerance than hornets, so by maintaining the swarm's temperature between what they can cope with and what the hornets can, they cook the hornet to death without endangering themselves.
  • An armadillo's favored means of escaping predators is to simply charge into the nearest patch of thornbushes, which understandably discourages any pursuer that lacks the armadillo's armored skin.
  • Before the advent of electronic detectors to warn of Deadly Gas in mine shafts, coal miners brought canaries with them because the gas would begin to affect small birds before it hurt humans, giving the miners a chance to notice and evacuate. This gave rise to the expression "canary in a coal mine" for early warning signs of an imminent problem, (or, in a slightly darker fashion, someone who's expected to put themselves at risk to assess how dangerous something is).
  • Animals that can breathe underwater/hold their breath a long time are able to drown their prey with relative ease, especially when their panicked prey struggles, wasting precious oxygen. Alligators are an example of this, as well as orcas.
  • Pyrophytes are plants that can tolerate fire. Some actively exploit this by encouraging fires, which they can survive but other competitors can't, such as the Eucalyptus trees and their blanketing of the forest floor with broad, oily dry leaves, while others rely on fires to crack open their seed cones to let their seedlings take advantage of fertile ash and the lack of competition for light and space caused by the fire burning away everything else.
  • One theory on why countries further from the equator tend to be wealthier and more developed is that humans can tolerate colder climates than most pests.
  • Tanks are Immune to Bullets. Infantry are not. This has sometimes led to tanks shooting each other with their coaxial machine guns or even canister rounds to kill infantry trying to plant explosives on them.
  • Persistence hunting invokes this trope; since humans have far better ability to endure continued exertion, heat, and dehydration than most animals - especially when we can cheat and carry extra water.


Video Example(s):


Estarossa feels only pity.

Estarossa's Commandment robs the strength from anyone who faces him with hatred in their heart. Because of this, Escanor is the ideal opponent for him because he never feels hatred for those he deems inferior to himself. He isn't called "the Lion Sin of Pride" for nothing.

How well does it match the trope?

4.64 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExploitedImmunity

Media sources: