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Face Your Fears

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"Embrace your worst fear; become one with the darkness."

Everybody has something that scares the ever-loving crap out of them. Thunder, reptiles, or maybe bloody, painful death. Sometimes even something unusual, like potato chips, trumpets, etc. Rest assured that in fiction land, if it scares you, you will either end up somewhere where said fear is everywhere, or be relentlessly pursued by said fear. Reactions will not vary, with said character wanting nothing to do with this terrifying thing in any way, shape, or form.

And then something changes.

Maybe they've run as far as they can and are now trapped, so they say something cool then face it head on. Maybe in order to accomplish a goal, they have to go through the Monster Clown blocking their path. Or maybe their friends are in danger, and only by knocking Cthulhu the hell out can you rescue them. So they do it.

For added drama, this is a secret fear that we only learn about when they face it for the first time, and when they fail there are drastic consequences for other people, resulting in It's All My Fault - which it is. The second time, they must overcome the fear to avoid more of the same horrible consequences. It may result in death.

Said scared person for whatever reason mans (or womans) up, bitch-slaps his fears into submission, and saves the day. Maybe he or she hasn't totally conquered his fear, but at least you know they can overcome it when it matters. Often a Moment of Awesome. Has been known to cure Anxiety Dreams.

This is a Subtrope of a "What Do They Fear?" Episode, and a Super-Trope of Cowardly Lion, who deals with this often. See also Not Afraid of You Anymore which is a verbal invoking of this trope. Something similar, with an ability rather than courage, is Crisis Makes Perfect. See also Fear Song, when someone sings about their fears, which they may do to cope with said fears. They may also sing a Bravado Song or a "Gaining Confidence" Song. Compare Motivated by Fear.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the climax of Digimon Adventure's second arc, Tai has to face his fear of dying in the Digital World that left him too scared to go through a fake wall to rescue Sora. As proof of this, his Crest of Courage truly glows for the first time.
  • A downplayed version happens at the start of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. When we first meet Josuke Higashikata, he's trying to conquer his fear of reptiles by working up the courage to touch a turtle that lives in a local fountain. After a group of upperclassmen break the turtle's shell and insult Josuke's hair, he picks up the fallen turtle without a moment's hesitation (healing it with his Stand) and puts it back into the fountain before giving the upperclassmen the beating of a lifetime.
  • In Maison Ikkoku Mitaka is deathly afraid of dogs, which complicates the fact that he's interested in Kyoko since she has a large dog named Soichiro, after her late husband, which is something in Godai's favor. At one point, the other tenants of the boarding house try to get him to lose his fear after he asks them for help, and he gets close to becoming fearless of dogs when he goes into a doghouse and plays with a puppy, but then the tenants sic an aggressive dog on him. However, when he adopts a Pomeranian, Mitaka does lose his fear of dogs for good.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • One Nurse Joy was so afraid of Water types that she wouldn't go near or touch one. Despite saving one's life in a crisis later she admits that she's still afraid of them, but won't let it get in the way anymore.
    • Chimchar had to face its fear of Zangoose to save its new teammates in "Tears for Fears!", the episode after it switched Trainers from Paul to Ash.
    • Gligar had to face its Acrophobia and fear of battling others so that it could evolve in "Fighting Fear with Fear!", five episodes after its loss against Paul's Gliscor.
  • Pokémon Adventures:
    • During the tournament that caps off the RGB saga, Professor Oak fights Blue using bird Pokémon (he knows that Blue has a phobia of birds). Later, in the GSC saga, Karen and Will taunt Blue with the legendary Pokémon Ho-oh and Lugia, the former of which was what caused her fear in the first place. What the villains didn't know was that Blue has long since conquered her fear, capturing three particular bird Pokémon: Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.
    • In the Emerald saga, one battle at the tournament set in the Battle Dome pits Sapphire against Tucker. It was a complete Curb-Stomp Battle because Sapphire is terrified of Tucker's Salamence, stemming from a trauma she experienced when she was younger.
  • Rebuild World:
    • The Shell-Shocked Veteran Colbert had a fear of monsters ever since they devoured his arms, resulting in him working in the underworld to get by instead of being a proper hunter. However, working under Sheryl's gang sees him eventually going on a mission where he kills an obviously much bigger and tougher monster than the one that took his arms, helping him recover.
    • Carol's Predatory Prostitute behavior as a Hope Crusher due to her fears seems to start coming to an end after Akira acts as The Confidant about her dark secret and she learns more about the truth of it. Carol considers quitting prostitution as a result.
  • Pretty much the entire theme of Soul Eater (particularly the anime version). Indeed, the Big Bad's main failing was cowardice.

    Comic Books 
  • Angry Birds Comics: Game Play: In Sakura Ninja, Red convinces Chuck to face his fear of water. It doesn't work out, but they get some ninja gear out of it.
  • In Batman comics, one whiff of The Scarecrow's Fear gas and you can expect anyone with enough willpower (namely, Batman himself) to have to do this. It's been a theme whenever the two face off in the comics, the animated series, and Video games.
  • This is the whole point of the Trial of Heart in an early ElfQuest story: Savah probes Cutter and Rayek's minds to discover their deepest fears, and then devises challenges based on those fears. Whoever succeeds will win Leetah's hand.
  • Green Lantern:
    • This is basically a major theme of it and its adaptations (especially the Live-Action Adaptation). Basically, there's a warning to the worshipers of Evil's might: when a Green Lantern learns to do that, beware his power!
    • The Sinestro Corps work using the opposite. Just like Green Lanterns must face their worst fears, so they can overcome them and use the full potential of their rings, the Sinestros must embrace them. Usually, they fight using their own fears as well as the ones of their victims.
  • The mane 5 are all confronted by their nightmares yet again in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) #6, but are all able to face them with help from each other, as well as Princess Luna and Spike. As with Pinkie Pie, even one tomato can't keep her down - it just causes her to rip into the nightmare audience and end her nightmare in a flash.
  • During the Joker's Last Laugh event, Superman ends up confronting a resurrected Doomsday, fresh from being burnt to a skeleton during Our Worlds at War. Up until that point, Superman has always been afraid of Doomsday because he knows Doomsday can kill him. However, once he finds out that he's gained intelligence and that his fights are now more about feared survival, Superman finally puts that aside and trashes him.

    Fan Works 
  • 221B: "Badly" sees Watson having to fight down his fear of water in order to retrieve the captive Holmes from a watery cave before he drowns in the rising tide.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku gets over his fear of heights and falling by forcing himself to jump off Bepsi Tower, a more than 2,000-meter-tall skyscraper. Despite some initial apprehension, it works so well that he's excited to start jumping off buildings on a regular basis thanks to the thrill he gets while web-swinging.
  • Boldores and Boomsticks: Lillie asks Team RWBY to train her as a Huntress to help get over her fear of the Grimm.
  • Codex Equus: This happens to Moon Ray Vaughoof. Because he was abused as a colt by his birth father, Sunny Mane Vaughoof, Moon Ray developed a crippling, persistent fear that made him run and hide whenever he thought his father was there and ready to violently lash out at him again. Even after dying and realizing that he needed to move on, Moon Ray still ran away rather than face Sunny Mane's spirit in the Hell-Realms. Fortunately, the Trimortidae helped Moon Ray see that by doing this, he let his birth father win by clinging to his foalhood fear and pain. This helped him gather the courage to finally confront his birth father for real and forgive him for his foalhood abuse, triggering his Ascension to demi-godhood then and there.
  • Dragon Ball Z Elsewhere: Yamcha is chosen by Ashrin, the sealed son of a Kaioshin, to become his vessel because of his strength. However, Yamcha can't tap into Ashrin's power nor receive training for him because he's subconsciously repressing him out of an inferiority complex. Consequently, Yamcha is told to face his inner demons — his sense of worthlessness, his trauma over nearly dying at Gero's hands, and his awkwardness around (fear of) women.
  • In Eleutherophobia: How I Live Now, Tom's plan to save Rachel involves getting Cassie to morph a Yeerk and infest him so he can pretend to be a controller. He's squicked out by the whole process, and Cassie accidentally opens so many traumatic memories that he has a panic attack, but it works.
  • One of the subplots of Manehattan's Lone Guardian involves Ebony Evening working to overcome her pediophobia so that she can interact with Leviathan, who looks enough like a mannequin in her mind to set it off, normally.
  • In the WWE story, The Return-Remixed, Kelly Kelly gets this advice from her assigned bodyguard, CM Punk. He tells her that as long as she fears DEAR, they will always have power over her.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles expands on the canonical use of the Boggart in Defence class: rather than simply teaching the students to overcome a Boggart, Remus uses it as a tool to help them understand their own fear responses, which is critical preparation for handling any stressful and dangerous situation without freezing or panicking.
    Professor Lupin: Before I teach you how to combat the Dark Arts, then, I am going to teach you how to overcome fear. Only when you can act in the face of terror, in the midst of surprise and uncertainty, only then can you defend yourself against anything, much less the darkest of our magical arts.
  • Asuka finally confronts her pediophobia in chapter 8 of The Second Try after she ends up scaring her daughter when she has a panic attack.
    "It's about time that I bury my demons. Especially if they're starting to hurt my daughter as well..."
  • The Somewhat Cracked Mind Of Uchiha Itachi: Having to endure years of assassination attempts and emotional and verbal abuse means Gaara fears as much as he hates his father, the Fourth Kazekage — which is a lot to say the least. After siding with Konoha during the Invasion, he has a brief Freak Out when he has to defend a hospital alongside his friends against the man. When they manage to drive him off, he's so happy he goes as far as to hug the ANBU who fought with him during the battle.
  • True Potential: Why Hinata accepts to act as the Hokage's bodyguard during his meeting with the Raikage: to show everybody that she isn't afraid of him or Kumo from what happened during the Hyuga Affair.
  • Early on in With Strings Attached, when the four realize that someone was watching them attempt to play music on the beach, they have to decide whether to follow that someone when it runs off. George is the first to go, nervously citing, "Look fear in the face and it won't bother you anymore." This is something he said in Real Life.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Puss gains an extreme case of Mortality Phobia after losing to The Wolf in single combat at the beginning of the film. This develops to such a point that the thought of The Wolf even being near causes him to have a panic attack. This is made even worse after The Wolf reveals himself to be the physical incarnation of Death itself, who has come to claim Puss’ last life. Puss’ realisation, that life being impermanent makes it worth cherishing and fighting for, eventually gives him the strength to drive back Death in the climax.
  • In The Secret Life of Pets 2, Max develops anxiety due to wanting to keep his owner's child safe. As a result, he develops many irrational fears. These fears get worse when he and his family take a trip to a farm. Luckily, a Welsh Sheepdog named Rooster helps the pooch face his fears. During the climax, Max is able to use his newfound courage to help Snowball and Daisy save Hu from Sergei and the wolves.
  • Sing 2: Rosita discovers to her own unpleasant surprise that she's afraid of heights, which at first interferes with the astronaut role she needs to perform in the show. She finally overcomes her fear of heights to catch Buster when Jimmy Crystal tries to kill him by throwing him off a catwalk.
  • Marianne from Strange Magic develops a fear of the Dark Forest after being attacked by goblins there, so much so that she receives traumatic flashbacks when she goes near it. After her sister is kidnapped by the King of the goblins, she's forced to enter it to save her.
  • In Yellowbird, Sam and the flock initially believe the rumor that birds are eaten by planes, which they refer to as "iron birds." Towards the end of the film, Sam realizes that the iron birds merely "eat" humans and "spit them out" unharmed at another location. Armed with this knowledge, he assures the flock that they aren't a threat, and they all board a plane bound for Africa.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • This is a major theme in Batman Begins, where Henri Ducard tells Bruce Wayne to breathe in his fears, to become fear so as to conquer it, makes him open a case of bats during training, etc... but after Bruce leaves the League of Shadows he decides to walk into a cave where he surrounds himself with bats, and he learns to not let fear get in his way... hence his later courage in confronting crime.
  • A deleted plotline from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey would have revolved around this trope. In order to keep the real Bill and Ted from reaching the Battle of the Bands in time, the Evil Robot B&T would have used devices to bring the boys' worst fears to life and sent them to attack. The only way to beat their fears was to confront them: Bill gets over the memory of his creepy grandmother by finally giving her a kiss on the cheek, Ted conquers a nightmarish Easter Rabbit by calling up his younger brother and confessing to stealing some of his Easter candy when they were kids, and together they vanquish a copy of Colonel Oates by treating him with friendship and kindness.
  • This is a pervading theme in Boogeyman 2, since the movie is about phobias. The doctor played by Tobin Bell who has this philosophy takes this to the extreme when he locks a patient afraid of the Boogeyman in a closet.
  • Jason Voorhees ends up facing his fear of water in Freddy vs. Jason, and Freddy has to face his fear of fire... sort of. It should be noted that Jason in previous Friday the 13th films did not exhibit such a thing.
  • The Great Escape: Tunnel King Danny is actually severely claustrophobic but pushes down his fear by focusing on getting out of the POW camp. After the tunnel collapses on him during construction he temporarily loses his ability to manage his fear. His fellow digger manages to talk him down and supports him throughout the final escape. They end up being two of the only escapees who aren't captured or killed.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Averted with Ron Weasley's arachnophobia, which he doesn't lose even after being tied up by giant spiders and nearly eaten. If anything, that probably enhances it.
    • Played straight however in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Ron gets the honor of destroying the locket horcrux while Voldemort's soul taunts him and tries to break him with his biggest insecurities taking form and shape, that his mother didn't love him and that Hermione preferred Harry over him.
  • Kevin has to face his fear of his basement furnace in Home Alone. He manages to overcome this fear and incorporates the basement into his battle with Harry and Marv at the end of the movie.
  • In Mortal Kombat: The Movie, Raiden talks to Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, and Liu Kang about confronting their fears: Sonya's fear of admitting the need for help, Johnny's fear of being a fake, and Liu Kang's fear of his own destiny. The latter is important to the plot, though, as Shang Tsung tries to exploit it near the end, with no results.
    Raiden: Goro can be killed. Shang Tsung's power can be destroyed by mortal men and women. You can overcome any adversary, no matter how bizarre their powers may seem. Only one thing can defeat you: your own fear.
    Johnny Cage: So who says we're afraid?
  • Freddy Krueger customizes his victims' dreams to exploit their individual fears and hang-ups, starting with A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. However, it's subverted as even those who initially overcome their personal anxieties tend to get killed anyway.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Indiana Jones finds the Well of Souls, he discovers that it's full of snakes, which is a problem because he has a severe phobia of snakes. He decides to go in anyway because it's the only way he can get The Ark of the Covenant.
  • In Take Shelter, Curtis' wife is pushing him to overcome his fear and open the door to the storm shelter, which he finally does.
  • Zombieland: Columbus fears a whole bunch of things, but the big fear is clowns. So naturally he has to face a zombie clown in order to save the girl he is interested in.
  • Ultraman Zearth: In the climax, Ultraman Zearth has to face his crippling natural Hypochondria and cross a pool of slime, to save Tohru and the children and battle Alien Benzene and Cotton-pope.

  • Early in the narrative of An Outcast in Another World, Rob faces two of his specific traumas one after another. His fear of darkness is tested when he plunges himself into pitch-black darkness in an attempt at shock therapy. Soon after, he is ambushed by a legion of hundreds of oversized spiders, which sends his Arachnophobe self – already stressed from everything else going on – into a blind panic.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe, this is the purpose of the Chamber of the Ordeal. Prospective knights (and monarchs) are required to enter it for a night, and it will test them to their limits. A heroic character will emerge stronger, having confronted and conquered his or her greatest fear. An unworthy character will be utterly broken by the experience, which may include actually dying.
    • In Protector of the Small, Kel has a Face Your Fears moment four years before going through the Ordeal when she's forced to climb down Balor's Needle with her more terrified maid at the end of Page. In the next two books, it's mentioned that this broke her fear of heights (although she still dislikes them).
  • Dune:
    • The Litany against fear expresses this trope perfectly:
      I must not fear.
      Fear is the mind-killer.
      Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
      I will face my fear.
      I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
      And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
      Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
      Only I will remain.
    • There is the nerve-induction box, better known as the Gom Jabbar test. A student must place his hand in the box, which makes flesh feel like it's on fire. If he removes the hand, he'll be killed by the Gom Jabbar, a poisoned needle. The purpose of the test is to prove that the student is truly "human", in that their reason is more powerful than their instincts. The test is more about pain and instinct than fear, but fear plays into it somewhat.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the test to become Accepted involves going through three archways which produce scenes that reflect the girl in question's fears.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane is afraid of cows until one day, as she is going about their pasture rather than face them, she realizes that she is wrong to scorn her mother for being afraid to face down her own mother when she's afraid of cows. So she faces them and is so cured that later, when her cousin is afraid of cows, Jane doesn't even remember it.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, Freckles's nerves are much restored when he lives to collect his first paycheck, and then when he first kills a rattlesnake.
    "After a few weeks, when Freckles learned that he was still living, that he had a home, and the very first money he ever had possessed was safe in his pockets, he began to grow proud. He yet side-stepped, dodged, and hurried to avoid being late again, but he was gradually developing the fearlessness that men ever acquire of dangers to which they are hourly accustomed. His heart seemed to be leaping when his first rattler disputed the trail with him, but he mustered courage to attack it with his club. After its head had been crushed, he mastered an Irishman's inborn repugnance for snakes sufficiently to cut off its rattles to show Duncan. With this victory, his greatest fear of them was gone."
  • Invoked in Galaxy of Fear when the characters go to a theme park and find the Nightmare Machine, a new attraction in which people are scanned and presented with excruciatingly realistic simulations of their worst fears, and 'win' by making it through to their last fear. They're a little appalled at the idea that anyone would try this attraction out and are told that basically it's just another continuation of theme park attractions in general - people like being scared in a safe setting. Of course, the two mains end up trapped in a dire simulation, the bailout phrase doesn't work, and they have to Win to Exit - and as soon as they realize this is the case, they stop running. The greatest fear of both siblings is losing the other one. It works.
  • Something Might Happen involves a paranoid lemur called Twitchly Fidget who hides in his house for fear of things that could happen. His Aunt Bridget makes Twitchly do things that scare him, beginning with small things like eating popping cereal, which allows him to see that he has nothing to fear.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane is terrified of fire, but he manages to win when Berric Dondarrion fights him with a Flaming Sword.
  • In BIONICLE Legends #5: Inferno, Irnakk, an evil bogeyman-like figure from the folktales of the Piraka's species, is brought to life in the Zone of Nightmares and defeats five of the Piraka by subjecting them to their worst fears. Zaktan, however, stood up to him after realizing that this Irnakk was only an illusion (albeit with real powers) and threatened to kill himself and his team, proclaiming that his horrible life had made him lose his fear of even death. Since Irnakk, being born out of their collective fears, could only exist as long as the Piraka lived, suddenly began fearing death and disappeared, allowing the Piraka to progress.
  • In Last Sacrifice, one of the trials Lissa faces as a candidate for the throne, forces her to face her worst fear in realistic visions.
  • In Firefight, it turns out David is terrified of open water; he was completely unaware of this before he went to Babylon Restored, aka Manhattan. In the climax, he has to shoot out an underwater window to escape in the desperate hope that he'll be able to swim to the surface. It doesn't work (the glass was built to survive a bomb), but the intent is enough to give him immunity to Calamity's influence. Megan braves fire (her weakness) to save David, and is reborn completely sane.
  • Subverted in Divergent. Four has exactly 4 fears but doesn't overcome any of them and instead just makes sure they don't dominate him.
  • In Malediction Trilogy troll prince Tristan promises to meet half-blood leader Tips in any place of his choosing. Tips chooses the mines - and this is the only place in the whole city of Trollus that the prince is absolutely afraid of. Still, he desperately needs to convince Tips, so he goes down and while he is still afraid, at least he does not run out screaming.
  • Harry Potter: In the backstory, Albus Dumbledore's greatest fear was his former friend, the previous Dark Lord before Voldemort, and his first and only love, Gellert Grindelwald. Though it wasn't his magical abilities and combat prowess he feared — Dumbledore and Grindelwald were equals, more or less. No, what he feared was, as he puts it, "the truth". The end of their brief friendship during their youth came when Grindelwald and Aberforth, Dumbledore's younger brother, got into a fight and Albus intervened, with the ensuing melee resulting in the death of Ariana, Albus and Aberforth's younger sister. It was unknown who cast the curse that snuffed out her life, and neither Dumbledore nor Aberforth wanted to know, for fear it was one of them. Dumbledore specifically avoided Grindelwald even as the man grew in power specifically because he feared that Grindelwald knew the truth and would tell him — but after the man grew so powerful that no one else but him could hope to stop him, Dumbledore faced his fear for the sake of both muggles and magical folk alike, dueling and defeating Grindelwald.
  • Discussed in The Mysterious Benedict Society. The Big Bad, Mr. Curtain, has invented a machine called the Whisperer. In explaining how his Whisperer handles fears, Mr. Curtain explains that it simply buries them by sending powerful messages which deny the fears. They come back because the only way to truly get rid of a fear is to face it and, as he says, who would ever want to do that? Later, Reynie, the main protagonist, does just that by facing and overcoming his fear of betraying his friends.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Cueseg advises Lyrah that the best way to overcome her Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality is to face her fears, which she doesn't particularly like hearing. She later thinks that he was right after she confronts the man who raped her and subjects him to some Extreme Mêlée Revenge, which she takes as proof that she's mastered her fears and feelings of weakness.
  • In Fire Engine By Mistake, a new fireman is afraid of heights and is shocked to discover that he is expected to climb ladders to rescue people. He overcomes his fear by practising climbing ladders at night.
  • Deeplight:
    • Selphin confronts her fear of the sea twice; first when she jumps in the ocean to get away from her mother, then later by descending into the Undersea.
    • Hark spends much of the book in denial over the fact that Jelt is no longer the friend he grew up with. Hark eventually admits to Selphin (and himself) that Jelt was killing people long before the accident that mutated him, and risks his life to stop him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Xander punch an evil knife-wielding clown right in its evil knife-wielding clown face during the season 1 episode "Nightmares". In fact, all the characters had to face their fears (even the master vampire who laid his hand on a cross to make a point) but Xander was the only one who literally knocked his out.
  • Forever Knight
    • In "For I Have Sinned", the Villain of the Week is a religious maniac and Vampire Detective Nick Knight has to confront his fear of religious icons to hunt him, culminating in Nick leaping over a fire (also fatal to vampires) to save a woman strapped to a cross.
    • In "The Fire Inside", the Villain of the Week torched homeless people with a flamethrower, so that episode also has Nick dealing with his fear of fire.
  • Friends:
    • Joey advocated facing your fears:
      "The way I see it, you face your fears same as anything else, you've got a fear of heights, you go to the top of the building. You've got a fear of bugs... get a bug. In your case you've got a fear of commitment so you go in there and be the most committed guy there was."
      • Chandler takes his advice too far, suggesting big gestures like going on a trip or even moving in together, even though Janice is still in the middle of a divorce and isn't ready for that kind of thing. Despite Chandler's fears that he may have ruined things, once they both calm down they're able to get their relationship back on track.
    • In a later season episode, it's revealed that Rachel suffers from a swing phobia and is afraid of letting her daughter Emma swing. Ross thinks it's ridiculous, but Rachel reminds him of his irrational fear of spiders. They both try to face their fear for Emma's sake at the end of the episode, but they are both extremely uneasy.
  • Game of Thrones: The pyrophobic Sandor Clegane when he fights against Beric Dondarrion's Flaming Sword in "Kissed By Fire" and manages to win.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • "Coming of Age" reveals this to be part of the Starfleet Academy entrance exam, forcing prospective cadets to face their greatest fears. When Wesley Crusher takes the test, he is confronted by a (staged) accident and must choose which of two victims to rescue, his greatest fear being that he would be paralyzed by indecision.
      • In "Realm of Fear", Enterprise engineer Lt. Reg Barclay admits to a severe phobia of transporters, which initially renders him unable to join the away team. However, after a brief session with Troi and armed with a few tricks, he's able to confront his fear and brave the transporter only a few hours later. Unfortunately, this backfires because something unexpected does happen to him, and he comes to believe that he's contracted an incurable condition known as "transporter psychosis" (it turns out to be something else entirely). By the end of the episode, it appears he's on his way to overcoming the fear for real.
      • Chief O'Brien shares his own story of fear with Barclay when he recounts how he faced his arachnophobia by crawling into a Jeffries Tube filled with hook spiders to conduct necessary repairs. He now has a pet tarantula.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "By Inferno's Light", the only way to escape a Dominion internment camp is for Garak to rewire an old computer system hidden inside a narrow gap inside the walls. Eventually, he experiences a full catatonic breakdown because he suffers from acute claustrophobia (which he'd been trying to keep secret). But after recovering from his breakdown, he tells them he will be returning to the computer system to finish the job he started. For this, he earns the respect of the Klingons, who admire the courage it takes to face one's deepest fears.
    • Malcolm Reed of Star Trek: Enterprise mentions that he had a great-uncle who faced his fear of water by joining the British submarine service. When his boat was damaged by a mine, he performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save the crew.
  • Happens a couple of times in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, with Zack's fear of spiders, Trini's fear of heights, and Billy's fear of fish. The "Island of Illusion" two-parter was largely built around this.
  • An episode of Boy Meets World had Rachel forced to confront her fear of garbage disposals (caused by the childhood trauma of putting her beloved stuffed bunny down the "rabbit hole" in the sink and then flipping the wrong switch when she tried to turn the light on so he could see the carrots inside) when Eric made climbing over one the only way out of the homage to The Truman Show he had trapped her and Jack in. Rachel succeeded, both "for Bunny Baby," and so she could get to Eric and beat him up.
  • Hornblower: It's established that sailor Hornblower is afraid of heights. In the last episode of series 1 "The Frogs and the Lobsters", he climbs atop the mast for no particular reason other than enjoy the sail, and he smiles and looks fairly happy. In series 2 episode "Retribution", he volunteers himself to descend from a high cliff. However, when his friend mischievously reminds him of his former anxiety, he says that nothing has changed and that he's still frightened.
  • Boston Legal - Brad urges Alan to do this during a case involving a professional clown. Alan, who's spent most of the case terrified of wetting himself, manages to deliver his closing, shake the clown's hand and tweak his fake nose.
    Brad: At some point, every man, even the half-evolved kind, needs to confront his fears. You need to stand up and deliver this closing.
    Alan: Will the clown be there?
  • Parodied in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song "Face Your Fears", in which Paula urges Rebecca to do this but in terms of incredibly bad advice, like "Run with scissors!" and "Swim right after eating!"
    If you're in a burning building
    And smoke is everywhere,
    Calm down, take a deep breath,
    And stay right there!
  • Space: Above and Beyond forces its main characters to do this when they are exposed to an alien weapon affecting the amygdala, the brain's fear center.
  • An episode of The Orville deals with Alara's previously-unknown fear of fire (due to a traumatic event when she was too young to remember). While she deals with that, strange things start happening on the ship, with common fears (e.g. heights, isolation, alligators, spiders, clowns) manifesting aboard. It turns out the whole thing is a holo-simulation, created by Isaac at Alara's request, who then had Dr. Finn wipe her short-term memory so that she doesn't know it isn't real. The final test for her is to fly through a wall of fire, as the ship is being destroyed by a Negative Space Wedgie.
  • In Chicago Med, Dr. Reese suffers a mental trauma and, eventually, performs this sort of therapy that helps her get ahold of herself. Later on, though, a patient comes in demanding to be committed, as he keeps vividly imagining killing his wife. Reese is determined to prove that the same therapy can work on the guy, while her superior Dr. Charles thinks it's too dangerous and wants to follow the man's wishes. Reese ignores him, locks herself in with the guy, and gives him a knife to act out his fantasy. The guy is unable to go through with killing her, supposedly proving her right. Dr. Charles's reaction? To lay into her for disobeying his orders and putting herself and the patient at risk just to prove her theory.
  • Raven invokes this with Leap of Faith, High Walk, and other challenges in high places since a few of the contestants have a fear of heights.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • According to "The Far Side", a professor Gallagher has developed an apparently controversial technique of simultaneously confronting acrophobia, ophidiophobia, and achluophobia by locking the sufferer in a small box filled with snakes and darkness, and then suspend said box from a great height.

    Video Games 
  • In A Way Out, co-protagonist Leo Caruso is scared of heights, which is integrated into gameplay as a shaking screen if the player climbs high structures as him. Yet when he needs to run over to the top of an at least 30-stories-tall crane to catch a man connected to Harvey during the construction site chase and save his friend Vincent, Leo overcomes his fear.
  • Rikku has a major Fear of Thunder in Final Fantasy X. We're told in Final Fantasy X2 that she camped out for a week in the Thunder Plains and got over it, sure enough in X-2 she's walking around the Thunder Plains merrily.
  • Not necessarily fears, but most of Persona 4 has to do with the main characters facing the manifestations of their insecurities. Although this is after they've rejected them, and then the rest of the party has to beat the crap out of the shadow to keep it from killing the original.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening invokes this trope, among others, with the Shadow boss battle. The Shadow, as is often the case in classic heroic tales (and Jungian Psychology) is meant to invoke Dante's doubts and fears (giving the boss fight distinct shades of Battle in the Center of the Mind), but when confronted by it, Dante simply responds with:
    Dante: I know why you're here. You're here to ask me some questions, aren't you? Well too bad. I already answered them myself. I don't need you anymore.
    * The Shadow draws its sword.*
    Dante: Tch. Get lost. You poser.
  • Red from Solatorobo has to face the idea of losing control and killing everyone he loves during a Virtual Training Simulation Journey to the Center of the Mind. As a warm-up, he faced Elh's greatest fear, which is bugs.
  • Haunting Ground: Fiona is forced into a position where she has to face her pursuer and fight at the end of every chapter. Arguably, the best time she is seen doing this is the A Ending, where she realises Debilitas is behind her, turns, looks him square in the eye, and leaves without a word.
  • The entire plotline of Nightmare Ned. The story of the videogame reminds one of a Stephen King story and while there is a TV series this belongs in the videogame section as only here does Ned get the chance to genuinely overcome his anxieties and become a happier person with his newfound confidence.
  • The plot of Evil Dead: Hail to the King is kicked off by the main character Ash, with his girlfriend Jenny, returning to the cabin which is the source of his fears and nightmares, in order to get rid of them. Unfortunately, his evil-possessed hand is still present there, and it lets loose the deadites which forces him to fight them once more.
  • The Evil Within 2: The events of the first game traumatized Sebastian so badly he lost his job as a detective and ended up The Alcoholic. Father Theodore is all too eager to turn this failing against him when he summons phantoms from the first game against him: the Sadist, the Keeper and Laura. Unfortunately for Theodore, by this point, Sebastian has decided that hell or high water, he WILL save his daughter, and tears all three of them new ones. It's best shown when he manages to incapacitate the Sadist and sees a waiting elevator he could use to escape as he did before: instead of taking it, he picks up the Sadist's chainsaw and finishes the bastard off.
    Sebastian: Enough of this shit!
  • Genshin Impact: The game has a small fable story about this. In the past, the first of birds couldn't fly despite having wings. The birds asked the Wind God to help them, and the god told them to find a place with blowing winds. The birds first tried to fly from a breezy hill, but they failed. Then they chose to go to a tall gorge with very strong winds. Despite their fears, they tried anyway, and they eventually succeed. They then go to meet the Wind God that they finally managed to do it because of the strong winds. But the god said that it's not the winds that helped them fly, it's their courage.
  • OMORI: Omori has three major phobias: heights, spiders, and drowning. In Headspace, a giant ladder, spider webs, and ocean serve as Broken Bridges: before Omori can access these areas, Sunny (Omori's real-world counterpart) must confront a Mental Monster representing these fears: one makes him hallucinate that his staircase is much taller and longer than it is, one causes his home to appear overrun with spiders, and one tries to pull him under when he saves Basil from drowning. In the end, however, Sunny also has to confront his very worst fear, an Awful Truth that Headspace was designed to obscure.

    Web Animation 

  • Ingress Adventuring Company: In Chapter 3, Toivo is forced to open the closet to finally face the literal ghosts of those relationships that he unconsciously conjured up as a means of not dealing with the pain of rejection.
  • In Weak Hero, Gray has a debilitating fear of rooftops after his best friend was bullied off of once and ended up comatose. He's forced to confront his fear when Wolf drags him up to a rooftop for their showdown- though initially Gray is too scared to fight back, he flies into a tranquil rage when Wolf threatens to throw him over the side. After the fight is over, and Gray has recovered from his injuries, he makes his way to the school rooftop and realises that he's not so afraid of them anymore.

    Web Original 
  • This is attempted twice intentionally on the Dream SMP, but both times are subverted as the fears in question stem from traumatic triggers (both times, yeah, the DSMP is that sort of world) and There Are No Therapists to oversee the "exposure therapy".
    • In Season 1, Quackity tries to get over his fear of Technoblade by proving he's just a person and is therefore killable. After pointing out that Techno did something at Quackity's behest (read: placing a block), thus making him less scary, Technoblade begins to chase him down, talking slowly about how early humans hunted by outlasting their prey and using his trident to get ahead. Quackity is once again reduced to a terrified screaming heap as he is cut down.
    • In Season 3, Tommy also attempts this with help from Tubbo and Ranboo, while deliberately and directly calling the technique "exposure therapy". In preparation for trying to kill Dream in Pandora's Vault, he revisits several places that have caused him traumaSpoiler alert!  to try to overcome it. Considering that exposure therapy only works in a very carefully controlled environment and with the help of a professional, and all three of the characters involved were clearly unqualified and traumatized teenagers, it's no wonder that it doesn't help much in the end, and might have even worsened the trauma.

    Western Animation 
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Garbage Ballet", the housekeeping staff at Bitsy's hotel are too afraid to clean on the seventh floor because they think it's haunted, specifically Room 723, so Bitsy forces her staff to face their fears by trapping them on the seventh floor until they clean all the rooms. The staff is able to clean every room but refuses to clean Room 723 unless Bitsy sleeps in the room for one night to prove it's not haunted, which she agrees to do.
  • Parodied in Chowder episode "The Meach Harvest", where Mung Daal refuses to harvest the queen meach due to his fear of the meaches guarding her whilst Chowder keeps trying to encourage him to face his fears. This would be considered playing the trope straight, except for the fact that meaches are vicious bloodthirsty living fruits with More Teeth than the Osmond Family that maul anything that gets within 100 yards of them en masse. He has good reason to be afraid of them. Lampshaded at the end of the episode.
    Mung: Thank you Chowder for giving me the courage to foolishly face my entirely rational fear!
  • One of the most defining examples is Courage the Cowardly Dog, whose entire role revolves around overcoming his cowardice in every episode in order to fight some truly horrifying villains and save his family. He shows that real courage comes from the inner fighting of the fears first.
  • Doug featured this trope in several episodes.
    • In "Doug Tips the Scales," Doug spends time at his grandmother's house and indulges in her cooking, eventually gaining weight. He becomes too afraid to attend Beebee's upcoming pool party because he'll have to be shirtless, and so undergoes an intense diet and exercise program. But even after going back to his original size, he still thinks he looks chubby, so he initially plans to swim with his shirt on...until he gets to the party and realizes that everyone is terrified of being seen in a bathing suit. He breaks the ice by being the first to jump in the water, and his friends all happily join in, getting over their fears and having fun with each other.
    • In another episode, Patti invites Doug to her birthday dinner and tells him that they'll be having liver and onions, his most-hated food. He spends the whole episode worried about what to do, and eventually forces himself to eat some in preparation...only to learn that Patti was joking. Talk about bad communication.
    • In yet another episode, all of the kids see "The Abnormal," a horror movie, but Doug is terrified and closes his eyes when the monster appears onscreen. Since Nothing Is Scarier, he begins to have horrific nightmares about what the creature could look like. Mr. Dink tells him that the only way to get over his fear is to face it head-on, so Doug returns to the theater and forces himself to watch. It turns out that the monster is a guy in a cheap rubber suit, and Doug learns that the fears we imagine are often far worse than the real thing.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In order to claim possession of Horror's Hand (which makes people see their worst fears come to life). Billy, Mandy, Irwin, and Grim must face their fears to overcome them. Billy is afraid of Spiders, Clowns, and the mailman, so he has to encounter a Spider-Clown-Mailman. Irwin is afraid of bears and stand-up comedy. Cue him doing stand-up comedy in front of a pack of bears, then promptly getting mauled by them. Mandy must overcome her fears of the possibility of growing up to become a nice person and marrying Irwin. Once she gets away from that, she also gets mauled by the bears. Grim's biggest fear, not just playing second-fiddle to another power but being used as a slave and tormented by those two brats forever, was realized throughout the series via his "friendship" with Billy and Mandy, so the Hand was ineffectual against him.
    • Later, Boogie is forced to face his worst fear: realizing he is not scary at all. But it turns out that Grim turned off Horror's Hand before he got it.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable has to confront his fear of monkeys when he faces off against Monkey Fist alone, by absorbing the Mystic Monkey Power that Monkey Fist coveted for himself. Ron's fear of monkeys is still present in later episodes, but lessened over time; in "A Sitch In Time", when ten-year-old Ron panics at the sight of a giant stone monkey, teenage Ron brushes it off while saying, "Dude, personal space."
  • The Legend of Korra: Korra is terrified of Amon and spends an entire episode in fear of potentially facing him. Once she starts to gain her confidence back, she decides to face him. Unlike most instances of this trope, this actually makes it WORSE! Amon and his Equalists easily subdue her and Amon proceeds to psychologically rip her to pieces leading to a Heroic BSoD right afterwards.
    • Tried again with Zaheer in season 3. Once again it fails. She does however work with him for their mutual benefit, and he helps her heal some from her trauma.
  • Let's Go Luna!:
    • In "Day of the Dead", Carmen overcomes her fear of skeletons by putting her grandmother's picture on the altar, which is filled with skulls.
    • In "Not Home on the Range", Leo manages to get over his fear of horses once he starts to ride one.
  • The Lion Guard: Kion and the guard help a cowardly leopard find the courage to stand up to a mean leopard who took over his territory.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Dream a Lily Dream" from The Loud House, baby Lily has been having nightmares of her sister/roommate Lisa's experiments, including Lisa's studies of Flip, forcing Lisa and a few of their siblings to enter her dreams to take them on. They vanquish two of her nightmares, but it's not until the Flip nightmare has Lisa in his clutches that Lily finally stands up to her fears and fights him herself, even telling Lisa immediately after his defeat that she's not afraid anymore.
    Lily: Bad Flip! Leave Lisa alone!
    • In "Skatey-Cat" from the spinoff The Casagrandes, Ronnie Anne ends up terrified of getting back on the skateboard after a major fall. On Lincoln's advice, she attempts to face her fears by going back to where it happened and even regresses to pursuing other hobbies as a bargain, but ultimately conquers her fears in order to save her friends.
  • Moondreamers: A memorable episode featured a young boy who was afraid of horses and had to deal with a star-horse that transformed into a gruesome dragon-monster, in order to save his new friends. In short, it was his darkest night-mare in flesh. He overcame his fear by seeing that the monster was as afraid as he was of the terrifying plane they were stranded in and managed to bond with it and become friends.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie's "Giggle at the Ghostly" song:
      When I was a little filly and the sun was going down,
      the darkness, and the shadows, they would always make me frown.
      I'd hide under my pillow from what I thought I saw,
      but Granny Pie said that wasn't the way to deal with fears at all!
      She said, Pinkie you gotta stand up tall, learn to face your fears,
      you'll see that they can't hurt you, just laugh to make them disappear!
    • Scootaloo is taught this by Princess Luna in "Sleepless in Ponyville" when Rainbow Dash's scary stories give her nightmares.
      • Although that episode played with the trope a bit, as initially it doesn't work. Why? Because Scootaloo actually had a bigger fear than the monsters in Rainbow Dash's stories: the fear that telling Rainbow Dash about the "monster fears" would cause Rainbow Dash to reject her. The nightmares don't stop by confronting the monsters, they stop when Scootaloo finally tells Rainbow Dash that there's a problem in the first place.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: In the aptly-named episode "Face Your Fears", K.O. must rescue his friends Rad and Enid and his boss Mr. Gar from a virtual-reality fear-testing machine. In a variant, K.O. first travels through spaces that represent the fears of the others; Enid fears parts of herself that she hides from others (from her awkward teenage years to her secret "spooky" heritage as a witch), Rad fears letting others see the genuine emotions behind his cool and egotistical facade, and Mr. Gar fears confronting his past mistakes (especially the "Sandwich Incident" that led to him and Carol leaving the Super Team P.O.I.N.T.). K.O. ends up unleashing an embodiment of his own fears, a dark and violent version of himself, to defeat Mr. Gar's fear.
  • The Owl House: In the episode "Enchanting Grom Fright", it's shown that every year, a student at Hexside has to fight a shapeshifting monster known as Grometheus the Fear Bringer, a monster that takes the form of its opponent's worst fears. Amity is chosen as the annual Grom Queen and she doesn't want to fight Grom because she says her fear is really embarrassing. Luz offers to take her place, because she's not afraid to face her fears. Of course it turns out her deepest fear was something she didn't anticipate, her mother finding out she was never at summer camp, catching her off guard. Amity comes to rescue Luz, forcing Amity to face the fear she had been trying to avoid, being rejected by her crush, Luz herself. Notably, while they manage to defeat Grom, neither of them actually conquers their fear in the process (though they both show signs of making progress). In a one-off gag at the end, Grom also turns into an insect for Willow and a clown for Gus.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998)
    • In "Boogie Frights", the Professor tells Bubbles that being brave means facing whatever scares her (in this case, the dark). She applies this lesson at the end of the episode when she alone has to take out the giant disco ball the Boogie Man is using to create The Night That Never Ends.
    • "Power-Noia" has Him manifesting the girls' greatest fears into nightmares. Bubbles' is her stuffed toys attacking her, Buttercup's is spiders, and Blossom's is not doing well in school. Once Blossom discovers that HIM is behind things, she puts her game face on and starts making things right again.
  • Recess: When TJ develops a fear of "The Box" (which is basically solitary confinement), Gretchen suggests framing him for a crime so he'll have to face his demons. However, she does lampshade the fact that this would either cure him or just make things worse.
  • A lot of the early Rugrats episodes had Chuckie being the recipient of this trope, a few notable ones dealing with slides, getting a haircut, and exploring his father's greenhouse (kid had problems).
  • Scooby-Doo has some moments when the titular character would realize he was the only thing standing between his friends and the villain, and promptly curbstomps them in an incredible display of courage. One example is the second live-action movie, Monsters Unleashed, where, backed into a corner he pretty much saves the day.
  • Sonic from Sonic Boom is terrified of water, and as a result never learned how to swim. In the episode "I Can Sea Sonic's Fear From Here", Eggman exploits this fear by building a destructive robot underwater, forcing Sonic into the ocean to stop him. And while Sonic does beat Eggman, his near-death experience caused by Eggman cutting his air hose causes his fear of water to get even worse. The episode ends with him declaring he never wants to see water again.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "I Had An Accident," SpongeBob becomes terrified of going outside after the eponymous accident. Patrick and Sandy resort to faking a gorilla attack to convince SpongeBob to come out and rescue them. Then a real gorilla (played by a live actor in a gorilla costume) shows up and starts beating the tar out of them. SpongeBob then musters up the courage to go outside again. After a few seconds outside, SpongeBob wonders why he was ever worried in the first place, forgetting about the rampaging gorilla until it grabs him and tears him in half. He apologizes to Sandy and Patrick for the trouble he caused and assures them that he's not afraid of going outside anymore, though he's terrified of gorillas now.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In the episode "Path of the Jedi" the Jedi Temple on Lothal forces Ezra to face his fears in the form of very convincing illusions of his newfound Family of Choice being slaughtered before giving him a kyber crystal when he overcomes those fears. Kanan has to face his own fears of inadequacy as a teacher, especially as those illusions were capable of killing Ezra before he saw through them and the Lothal temple is a harsh unforgiving place as shown by the Jedi Masters entombed within it.
  • The Wander over Yonder episode "The Heebie Jeebies" has Wander and Sylvia enter a spooky forest to try and find an ancient power that can defeat Lord Dominator. They end up finding something even more terrifying: Phantom Mimes, perpetually smiling ghost mimes that feed on your fear and anxiety. When the two learn to stick up for each other and be brave, the mimes disappear, and it is that moment they realized they had the power mentioned all along — facing their fears, which is more powerful than anything.

    Real Life 
  • Sometimes this approach is Truth in Television, using anxiety exposure for the goal of response reduction. Although normally, it is done carefully by psychologists as therapy in very slow steps like drawing schematically the object of your fears and facing it in small dosages and gradually.
  • What ISN'T Truth in Television is when well-meaning friends attempt to force another friend to "get over their fear" by throwing them smack dab in the middle of the thing that scares them. This usually does not work and can make the problem worse due to the person now having anxiety attacks or may trigger a condition they already have, such as asthma, and makes them fear the thing that scares them even more. It's also considered incredibly mean and insensitive.
  • Some methods of taming animals involve acclimating the animal to the condition that frightens it, by repeatedly and gradually exposing it to the frightening thing. If successful, this can lead to the animal ignoring the former source of fear; done wrong, it can cause unnecessary stress or panic, so it's seldom the first choice if other options are available to soothe its frightened state.
  • In moments of crisis, people are known to (especially when their family or children are in danger) abandon all fear, even if facing their phobias, to get the others to safety.
    • This can apply to animals, too. In 1972, Mimi, the beloved pet poodle of the Emerito family, woke up Mr. Emerito to alert him that the house was on fire. Working with him, Mimi helped get all eight family members (two parents, six children) to safety, not leaving the house until she knew everyone else had escaped. In order to get to the family, she had to run up and down the stairs of the two-story house several times...something she was notably terrified of doing in the past and had never done until that night.

Alternative Title(s): Facing Your Fears


"Gather your courage"

To save Sora, Tai has to overcome his fear of the electric wall he let stop him last time.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / FaceYourFears

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