Follow TV Tropes


Game-Breaking Injury

Go To

"Think of all the knees, twisted, bent and broken
Think of all the words about knee injuries that are spoken
You may want to play football 'till your dying day,
But if your knee has had the gong, there is no running away!"
Greg Champion, "Knee Reconstruction" (to the tune of "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire)

The Hero is about to get into a fight with the Big Bad, The Dragon, or one of the Big Bad's lackeys. The fight is biased in The Hero's favor and the viewer sees one of the most one-sided fights the series has to offer. Pretty soon the villain is already down on one knee and The Hero is ready to use their finishing strike. The Hero prepares the attack and it looks like victory is ensured.

But wait, what's this? Instead of performing their signature finishing blow, The Hero has doubled-over in pain, clutching their side! What gives?

Unfortunately, it looks like The Hero is suffering from a Game-Breaking Injury.

A Game-Breaking Injury like this develops from damage a character had taken on in an earlier encounter, whether it be from an everyday accident or received while fighting off a few Elite Mooks. The opponent will probably notice the character's weakened state and use this opportunity to turn the tide of battle. If they really want to ensure victory, then the opponent will take every chance to aggravate the injury even more by relentlessly attacking it.

Unlike the Achilles' Heel, a Game-Breaking Injury is not an intrinsic weakness as it is acquired by accident or through the opponent's doing. Sometimes the enemy in question can recognize the difference in physical ability between themselves and The Hero and will first cripple them before using their normal battle strategies. Game-Breaking Injuries do not signify the impending victory or defeat of a character; however, their presence can significantly alter the fight's outcome.

Game-Breaking Injuries can be used either as a plot device or as a means of character development. With enough Heroic Resolve, The Hero might be able to push through the pain and continue fighting. If a member of The Team is involved in this trope and he or she is of greater skill than The Big Bad, they might suffer a Game-Breaking Injury to level the playing field. Sometimes this ally is a Retired Badass who has an old war injury. If this character is The Mentor, then you can bet for sure that this injury will be the cause of his undoing. Often a way to make it so You Can Barely Stand.

Truth in Television, of course, especially in the sports world, where severe injuries can bench players during critical moments, not to mention end their careers and leave them crippled for life.

A type of Drama-Preserving Handicap. A specific non-lethal type of Mortal Wound Reveal that only relates to the hero. If we didn't know about the injury until after the fight, that is Worf Had the Flu. This can become a Career-Ending Injury if the character never recovers. If a video game features Subsystem Damage in its gameplay, the player may be able to employ this tactic to make the Boss Battle easier.

Not to be confused with a Game-Breaking Bug, which refers to broken game code, or a Game-Breaker, which usually has the opposite effect on those who possess one. Also not to be confused with Injured Player Character Stage, which can be seen as a gameplay version of this trope that's usually only temporary.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Tomorrow's Joe features several examples of this, but the most notable example is the punch-drunk syndrome that Joe develops in the final act of the series; despite suffering from visible loss of motor control and deteriorating senses, however, Joe tries to persevere through it during the championship fight with José Mendoza. It fails tragically.
  • One Piece has several examples of this trope.
    • In the Buggy the Clown Arc, Zoro was stabbed in his side by one of Buggy's floating hands right before his fight with Cabaji. The wound quickly grew in size on account of Cabaji kicking it multiple times.
    • Zoro had another Game-Breaking Injury when he fought Hatchan. After being slashed in the chest by Hawk-Eeyes Mihawk, Zoro had a gaping gash on his chest as well as an incredibly high fever. Once again he was able to win in the end.
    • In the Don Krieg Arc, Sanji was unable to win in his fight against Gin on account of taking so many hits from Pearl beforehand (due to being unable to retaliate or dodge Pearl's attacks due to Gin taking Zeff hostage). Sanji's injuries were so extensive that his body could not even withstand the impact of his own attacks.
    • Another moment where Sanji suffered a Game-Breaking Injury was during the Drum Island Arc. After being buried by an avalanche he later helps defend the doctor who saved his life. He's unable to fight due because the old bitch hit him in the back to temporarily paralyze him and keep him from aggravating the wound.
    • After using up all his strength defeating Rob Lucci, Luffy was so injured and exhausted that he could do nothing to protect himself from incoming cannon-fire, requiring his crew to intervene on his behalf to save him.
    • Zoro suffered a major Game-Breaking Injury from Bartholomew Kuma that slowed him down considerably in the fights following that before recovering during the two-year time skip.
  • In Baki the Grappler, the title character fights Koushou Shinogi, a martial arts master who can cut nerve endings, causing certain limbs to become unresponsive. During the fight, Shinogi had managed to render Baki's entire right side useless.
  • In Hajime no Ippo, the main character has a match against Takuma Saeki, who is better known as The Speed Star. During the match, Seaki resorted to using jabs to swell up Ippo's eye so that he would be unable to see out of it then using this new blindspot as a way to help him deliver surprise attacks.
    • Hajime no Ippo would subvert this trope as well shortly after. Ippo injures his right fist in a training accident right before his fight with Sendo. He resorts to injecting morphine directly into the injured hand and was able to fight as normal.
    • In a rare case where the Hero cripples the villain, Ippo resorts to breaking opponent Ryu Mashiba's arm during a match. Mashiba has had a history of using dirty tactics such as stepping on other boxers' toes and using his elbow to block. The later move he was employing in spades; Ippo decides instead of just avoiding Mashiba's elbow he's going to simply punch through it at the expense of injuring his own fist.
    • There is also the fight of Takamura vs. David Eagle, in which Takamura gets blinded by blood flowing into his eyes. Notably, David Eagle does not abuse this because he is that honorable. Takamura however, is made out of different wood and soon gives David the same injury, making them both almost blind.
    • In Date's rematch with Ricardo Martinez, Date's special Megaton Punch, the Heartbreak Shot, gets thrown twice- the first time Ricardo blocks it by sheer luck with his elbow, shattering Date's right hand. The second time he throws it, his timing and the setup are absolutely perfect and it's a straight shot to the knock-out, except the damage sustained from the first shot robs him of the power he needs to clinch it.
    • Self inflicted with Genji Kamogawa, although that wasn't necessarily his intent. Genji, after weathering the storm with Sergeant Ralph Anderson, proceeds to throw two devastating body blows that Ralph is sent flying upwards while also being turned horizontally after Genji's right body uppercut. The sheer amount of force needed to do so, even with knuckles that punched a log into a hill, shatters both of Genji's hands. And that's not counting the absolute demolition on Ralph's ribs.
    • Many of the examples given so far are actually Truth in Television. It is very common for fighters to specifically attack a cut created earlier or to keep attacking a swollen eye. Legends like Roberto Duran were notoriously dirty in their fights but were experts at hiding it from the referee. Arturo Gatti once broke his hand in the middle of a fight and kept using it. Matter of fact, much of what's ever happened in boxing is sometimes too crazy to think it might have actually happened.
      • You can add Sonny Liston blinding opponents with vaseline on his gloves, boxers thumbing the eyes with their punches (less common today), and headbutting and rubbing your head in a cut.
  • Dragon Ball: Goku's suffered more than one:
    • King Piccolo damages his legs and left arm during their fight. He only lost because Goku could still use his right arm.
    • Piccolo Jr. blasts a big hole clean through his right shoulder during their fight at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. This slows Goku down quite a bit, and Piccolo naturally makes sure to aggravate the wound by stomping on it and ramming his elbow into it. This is before he breaks both of Goku's legs and takes out his remaining arm.
    • Vegeta takes it even farther than both Piccolos by breaking just about every bone in Goku's body, leaving him unable to move at all.
    • In Dragon Ball Super's Tournament of Power arc, Goku's constant use of Ultra Instinct constantly drains his stamina to the point where his body nearly gives out before he can fully ring out Jiren.
  • In the final volume of Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka is targeted by a group of baseball bat-wielding motorcycle riders who hit him in the head multiple times. What really makes this fight dramatic is that Onizuka is suffering from a brain condition in which if he suffers one more major blow to the head, he will die. The biker gang is well aware of this information.
  • During the fight with Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin, the entire cast feels this. Kenshin's been weakened to the point that he has to string multiple special moves together to even get Shishio to flinch, Saito's legs have been injured, making his signature attack useless, Sanosuke can't properly perform his special attack, and Aoshi can barely fight. Ultimately, Shishio's own Game-Breaking Injury is what does him in as he can't regulate his body temperature following the government's attempt to burn him to death, and after exerting himself for too long, he spontaneously combusts.
    • Also averted earlier, when Saito was trying to prove to Sanosuke that he's not strong enough to help Kenshin: Saito beats him up effortlessly, bare-handed, and specifically avoids aiming for Sano's injured shoulder.
    • Averted in Kenshin's backstory as well. Prior to an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, his opponent had Mooks set off traps (a concussion bomb and a flash-bang) that left Kenshin deaf and nearly blind. Kenshin still managed to win the duel thanks to the Heroic Sacrifice of his wife, who stepped in to block a hit that would have killed him.
    • This also ultimately ends Kenshin's career as a swordsman at the end of the series. As Kenshin's fragile build can't fully withstand the pressures of his sword style which Megumi notes over time he won't be able to do anything major like he did in the past. Though Kenshin's fine with this as he wishes to settle down with Karou anyway.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • In "Ballad of Fallen Angels", Spike effortlessly takes out most of the mooks in the church on his way to fight Vicious. The last mook, however, nails Spike with a gut shot, which forces his back to the wall, gasping in pain... for five seconds, and then he runs to fight Vicious.
    • The same happens in the series finale "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)", as when Spike is Storming the Castle, he is shot in the arm, which puts it out of action. Barely slows him down, though.
    • Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door early on has Spike fighting the Big Bad Vincent in a train. Spike is an impeccably flawless fighter but gets beaten quite badly by Vincent's equally skilled but much stronger style. Spike takes several brutal blows but continues fighting until Vincent hits him with a particularly bloody blow, at which point the fight is over: it continues for another minute or so, but it's a Curb-Stomp Battle. The climax has Spike taking a gunshot wound to the stomach right before his second fight with Vincent. For the most part, he doesn't feel it until his opponent grabs at it, which immediately cripples Spike, and makes the fight very one-sided, especially once Spike starts getting affected by the nanovirus, with the implication that he's dying.
  • The Prince of Tennis has a few of these moments, which are literally Gamebreaking Injuries
    • Kunimitsu Tezuka has an old injury in his left elbow due to the immense amount of strain his techniques put it through and a rather cruel bullying-related incident. In his match against Atobe Tezuka was first to lose, on account of his shoulder being blown out because of his subtle tendencies in favoring his elbow, Something Atobe was very aware of.
    • Kirihara of Rikkaidai has been known to abuse his opponents by hitting them with high-speed tennis shots during his matches. Often he likes to hit their kneecaps.
    • Played straight, subverted, Double Subverted, and Triple Subverted by Oishi, who helped save a pregnant woman but injures himself in the process. Unable to play, he instead asks Momoshiro (who had just been kicked out of the regulars) to take his place. This injury shows up again during the Nationals when Oishi challenges Ryoma for the final regular spot. He gets better by the time of the National Finals.
  • Captain Tsubasa also has several characters falling prey to them: Wakabayashi, Misaki (twice), Tsubasa (also twice), Wakashimazu, Dieter Mueller, Tomeya Akai, the Tachibana twins, Ishizaki, etc. And like in the Tenipuri case, there are players experts into causing those wounds: Hyuga (though he stops doing so soon), Soda, Stefan Levin...
  • Terry Bogard injures his ankle right before being asked to fight Kim Kaphwan in Fatal Fury and was unable to use any sort of kicking attacks. He managed to come out on top. However, his fight against Krauser did not go as well and his injured legs played a major factor in this loss.
  • Guts' first encounters the Holy Iron Chain Knights in Berserk after getting the hell smacked out of him by Rosine. He still manages to kill several of them before getting knocked out.
    • The Knights were really lucky to get away with so few casualties considering A). The Knights consist mostly of undertrained nobles (whose parents wanted them to serve in the military without actually, you know, getting HURT!) and B). Guts is also known as "The Hundred Man Slayer"... this isn't his career total - it's from one fight.
    • Unfortunately for the Knights this was not the case the next time they met; Guts had spent several days recovering in a sacred spring and was packing new/reforged equipment, including the newly-reforged Dragonslayer. At least they were smart enough to run after he cleaved a few of their mounted units in half.
  • During a supposedly easy mission, Nanoha Takamachi was gravely injured in this manner. This caused her to change the cadets' training curriculum, so while they will still be going through hell, they won't be weakened too much to become seriously injured. Then there's what Shamal did to her...
    • Jill Stola from ViVid Strike! used to be a skilled martial artist, but she was forced to stop competing after she received an unspecified injury while during training.
  • In Eyeshield 21, Hiruma was forced to play the second half of the Deimon-Hakushuu game with a broken right arm after a fateful run-in with Hakushuu lineman Rikiya Gaou. Hiruma is right-handed and the quarterback of his team but because he's HIRUMA, he still manages to pull the Devil Bats through for the win.
    • Sena's legs were already pushed past their limits (to the point his legs were burning up so much that stream was literally coming out of his legs) at keeping up with Agon and he continued on to play throughout the entire again despite the pain.
  • Utterly hilarious variation from CLANNAD. Yukine's gang prepares for a showdown with a rival group, and Nagisa suggests having a snack- her mother's bread with a certain infamous jam. The gang is instantly KO'ed, leaving Tomoya to fight solo.
  • In Ranma ½, Akane injures her hand while punching down a wall in exasperation. Dr. Tofu fixes it but warns her not to punch ANYTHING for a while. As she walks back home, she punches the air... and out of nowhere comes the Dojo Destroyer, stepping into the path of her fist, causing her to injure it again. Worse, she was just getting ready to defend the Tendo Dojo from that same guy later in the day. To add insult to injury, the Dojo Destroyer fights exclusively by wielding signs from conquered dojos as weapons, something that an uninjured Akane would have had very little trouble with.
  • GaoGaiGar has an odd example, in that the Game-Breaking Injury was the hero's Finishing Move. Every use of Hell and Heaven strains Shishioh Guy's cyborg body, eventually sending him to the emergency room several times and then warning him not to use it again lest he die. He was, naturally, nearly forced to use it on the next Zonder, but the Goldion Hammer was completed Just in Time.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward fights against #66, an executed convict with his soul bound to a suit of armour, with the binding rune in his helmet. Edward seemed to have won by knocking it off but was stabbed in the side when it turns out two souls were in the armour (one controlling the head, one controlling the body). Not only was Edward exhausted, but now he was heavily losing blood, and only barely managed to win.
    • Only a few pages later, Edward was confronted with the homonculus Envy. He tried to attack, but the combination of a missing bolt and the wear-and-tear of the previous battle caused his automail arm to fail. Luckily Envy only punched him in the gut and let him live.
    • Anytime Ed's Automail arm breaks or gets destroyed counts as this, as it prevents him from using Alchemy. Mind you, he's still pretty tough, and more than capable of kicking ass with only one arm, but... well, in this series, you need every advantage you can get in a fight.
  • Monster, in the battle between Inspector Lunge and Roberto, where Lunge forces his thumb into a bullet wound his opponent has taken in order to subdue him. Very rare in that Lunge was a Face at the time, and it was one of the more cringe-worthy versions of it, especially in the anime.
  • In the Tales of Symphonia manga, Lloyd claims that he didn't truly win in his last duel with Kratos because he was weakened from the injury he received defending him.
  • Naruto: According to Jugo, Sasuke had trouble facing Killer Bee because the wounds he sustained fighting Itachi hadn't properly healed. Later revealed by Bee's various transformations, Sasuke had no chance either way since Killer Bee was just on too high a level for him. Earlier on, the curse mark serves as a Game-Breaking Injury, popping up whenever Sasuke uses too much chakra and causing him to double over in pain.
    • Also, Gaara delivered a major one to Rock Lee, not only shattering his left arm and leg but pieces of the bones were embedded in his spinal column. If not for Tsunade, he would have lost his ninja career, his life's dream, and probably his spirit.
    • Lee came close to having it happen again in his fight with Gensho. The latter nearly crushed his leg bone with a cross-block.
    • Obito suffers one from Kakashi during their battle in the Kamui realm. Obito gets stabbed through the chest by a Raikiri charged kunai, leaving him vulnerable to Madara's body control jutsu through the chakra rods embedded in his body. Ultimately subverted though that Obito not only lives but gets stronger since he becomes the Ten-Tails Jinchuriki. However, Kakashi suffered two stabs and hasn't been able to exit the Kamui Realm, thus he may have received a Game-Breaking Injury from Obito.
    • Might Guy suffers one after showing what happens when you open all eight gates. Naruto's healing abilities save him from disintegrating alive like the normal consequence for that action entails, but in the epilogue, it's shown that even ten-fifteen years in the future he's still wheelchair-bound... and it hasn't slowed him down a bit.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has the eye injury sustained by Lockon Stratos in an earlier battle become a significant factor in his death at the hands of Ali Al-Saachez, who takes advantage of the blind spot it creates to deal a crushing blow to his mech, forcing Lockon to abandon it and shoot Ali manually, exposing himself to return fire in the process.
  • Basilisk:
    • Gennosuke has the best ability of them all — with his gaze, he can command his enemies to kill themselves or each other. He gets to demonstrate it early on against some mooks but soon after has his eyes blinded and sealed shut for 7 days, making him unable to use it and rendering him mostly useless for the rest of the series. Liberal use of his ability would have made it too easy for his clan to win the battle.
    • Gennosuke's girlfriend Oboro has her own Magical Eye which nullifies the abilities of any ninja. This too would have given her clan a clear edge in the battle, but she too becomes blinded (though for her it was deliberate so she would neither have to fight Gennosuke nor be tempted to use her powers against her own clansmen) for 7 days.
  • In Holyland, a villain gunning to take down Yuu and Masaki sends two hard-hitting gangsters to ambush Masaki on his way to their final showdown. Although Masaki trashes the pair, his leg gets injured and the villain's main enforcer is able to beat him as a result. This allows Yuu to be Big Damn Heroes when he shows up and subsequently defeats the enforcer.
    • Another example, Osada and Yoshito kicked Yuu's legs until he could not use them to support his weight. Yuu later learns to use it himself.
  • In The iDOLM@STER, Azusa gets the mumps a few days before a show.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Red decides to turn down the position of Viridian Gym Leader because of the painful frostbite he sustained from the previous year's battle against the Elite Four. He does get better, but not before giving the position to Blue.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Chrono, arguably the most powerful character in the series, suffered this in the backstory. Aion tore off Chrono's horns during a Single-Stroke Battle. Chrono nearly perished afterwards since demons need their horns to absorb astral power. Chrono only survived by making a contract with Mary Magdelene and later Rosette, which has the consequence of draining the life of the contractor. In the present, Chrono stays in Sleep-Mode Size most of the time to prolong Rosette's life, though she is still doomed to die at an early age. Merely transforming into his more powerful true form is taxing on Rosette, and tapping into his full power could kill her in minutes.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, this is how Jonathan Joestar met his end. Dio managed to pierce Jonathan's throat, mortally wounding him and preventing him from using his Ripple, which relies on breath control. Jonathan is still able to pull off one last Ripple. It was so weak that it couldn't even fully destroy a single zombie, but it was enough.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, after being mauled by Flower Wolves, nearly suffocated in ice, and losing his Summoned Skull, Yugi's grandpa is in rough shape by episode 5 and has to be healed before the group continues on.
  • A Certain Magical Index has an extremely bizarre relationship with this trope through the main character Touma. It seems if an ally deals a crushing blow to him, he'll be unable to continue fighting and will fall, but if an enemy is fighting him, he can lose a whole arm and be bleeding out and still move and talk like absolutely nothing is wrong. The animation indicates he's suffering from his injuries, but he never shows any fatigue or damage from blows that would naturally kill a person until after he wins.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • All Might suffered from an absolutely brutal one of these five years before the start of the series, which ruined most of his internal organs and scrambled his power usage. Multiple surgeries later, he can only use his powers for a few hours a day and needs to stay off the public eye the rest of the time, as his depowered aspect is... disheartening, to say the least.
    • The one who did that to him, All For One, also suffered this in turn at All Might's hands. His face above his mouth is nothing but scar tissue, meaning he's blind. He also requires life support just to stay alive. While he's still extremely powerful, he's no longer what he was when he first fought All Might.
    • Shota Aizawa, Eraserhead, lost an eye during the Paranormal Liberation War and can no longer effectively use his vision-based Erasure quirk.
  • Megalo Box: Aragaki is missing both his legs and wears prosthetics. Boxing competitively has put too much stress on where the prosthetics meet the stumps, giving him only a few matches left, and he's forced to throw in the towel after four rounds against Joe. When seen after the match, the rims of the prosthetics are covered in blood.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman once had his back broken by Bane putting him out of action for quite a while. In fact, the Game-Breaking Injury was Bane's entire plan to get Batman to the point where he could give him that broken back. He deliberately got all the other villains in Gotham causing chaos in a very short period of time, thereby ensuring that Batman wasn't running at anything close to 100%.
  • In The Walking Dead, this happened to young teenager Carl Grimes after he is shot in the eye unintentionally by Douglas Monroe, the leader of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. In a desperate attempt to save Rick Grimes and his son, Carl, he begins wildly shooting into the crowd of zombies surrounding them, shooting Carl in the eye before being devoured by zombies. After a long while in a deep coma, Carl awakens to find that he has lost all of his recent memories and that he is incredibly crippled: blinded on his right side due to the loss of his eye. For a long time, he is ordered to stay in his house and keep the weight off of his feet, but, being Carl, that never happened. The injury begins to show permanent effects on his mental state as well, as he becomes much more hostile and bitter towards others, especially Rick, and prefers to keep it covered up. Fast forward to multiple years later, and it has been shown to still deeply affect him. He tells Rick that the faces that others give him when they see his eye hurts him emotionally, and he lectured Rick on the fact that he knew that Rick was ashamed of him for it, justifying his wanting to rescue his girlfriend, Lydia, because she is the only one that Carl has come across that did not wince each time she looked at his wound. In fact, she told Carl that it was "sexy".
  • All-New Ultimates: Jessica suffers one during the battle with the Serpent Skulls as one person had Poisoned Weapons.
  • In the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) graphic novel Soul of the Dragon, it's revealed that, sometime in the future, Tommy was given a back injury that causes him pain from time to time. It's also damaged his Master Morpher, thus he can't morph too much longer as well as not fighting at 100%.

    Fan Works 
  • Digimon: Children of Time: As revealed in the first chapter of Children of the Present, during his third year of high school, Tai suffered a leg injury during a soccer game that ruined his chances of going pro. By the time of the fic, his leg is still damaged, to the extent that the simple act of running is somewhat painful for him.
  • In Earth's Alien History, Samus ends up having her back lacerated by a Kryptohusk's eye beams, which cause enough nerve damage that it permanently paralyzes her.
  • Event Horizon (RWBY): Ozpin and Ciel come up with the idea for Penny to throw her fight, taking a bad but non-lethal injury instead of being torn apart. Unfortunately, this leaves her unable to fight for the rest of the battle, which is a problem because she's one of their best combatants. Once they bring Phyrra in, the two of them instead go for an injury to Penny's arm. She's able to easily replace it, and is combat-ready for the rest of the battle.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Ash's Pidgeotto takes a hit from a Rattata in her wing joint that dislodges it, forcing her to sit out of the battle at the Pewter Gym. It's also mentioned that in the old timeline, Charizard had to sit out of the Sinnoh League conference due to a broken tooth.
  • In the The Railway Series/Thomas & Friends fanfic The Rails To Redemption, Graham knocks one of Elsie's wheels, which ended up causing her to be put out of commission for the time being while Toby and Henrietta are allowed to continue operations. This sadly means that Sir Topham Hatt saw only these two and called for them, causing Elsie to be left behind, even though she's repaired later on.
  • In the Total Drama reimagining, The Legend of Total Drama Island, Noah is attacked by hornets and suffers enough stings to be dangerous even without his allergies. Although he survives, he is eliminated from the game because he is not expected to recover before the teams merge and his teammates aren't willing to risk trying to carry a nonperformer. Noah is not happy about this, but understands and accepts the team's reasoning.
  • A Tactician's Testimony: Early on, Katri suffers an injury to her right leg, which constantly reopens until Serra heals it. Nonetheless, Katri suffers from a limp from that point on. In "False Friends," the issue is partially resolved when she receives a leg brace.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Transformers: The Movie, during Optimus Prime and Megatron's final battle, Megatron is aware he is losing the fight and starts tossing rocks at Optimus. He then throws a shard of metal from a ship at him, cutting his side open, taking advantage of the injury, and making it worse by slicing open the wound with an energon sword. Later on, while holding Hot Rod hostage, he shoots him in the same wound and also in the chest and face fatally wounding him, but just before he passes out he manages to knock Megatron off a cliff, severely wounding him. The damage inflicted on Megatron in the battle is so severe that he cannot defend himself from Starscream's treachery the way he usually does when Starscream tosses him into space on the way back to Cybertron.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in Battle Royale after Shinji causes a bomb to explode Kiriyama ends up blinded from the blast (but otherwise fine). He walks out looking like a zombie and apparently doesn't sense Shogo's groups near him. The minute Shogo cocks his gun though, he spins around and sprays bullets with more accuracy than you'd think he would. The injuries didn't seem to do a thing to him.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: During the climax of The Dark Knight, Batman/Bruce Wayne injures his leg in the same fall that kills Harvey Dent. By the time of The Dark Knight Rises eight years later, the cartilage in his knee has deteriorated to the extent that he requires either a cane or bionic leg brace to walk. He gets the ability to walk unassisted back after reconditioning himself in the Pit.
  • Hans Gruber arranges for one in Die Hard. After noticing that John McClane is walking around with no shoes on (long story), he orders his men to "Shoot the glass" in a firefight, forcing John to flee across broken glass on bare feet. He spends the rest of the film limping.
  • Emperor Commodus in Gladiator stabs Maximus right before their final duel to give himself an unfair advantage. Maximus is too much of a Determinator to let that stop him from kicking the Emperor's ass. Though he still dies from the stabbing.
  • Anguirus, Godzilla's close ally, is as ferocious in battle as Godzilla himself. Doesn't mean he's impervious to getting his jaw broken, though...
  • James Bond:
    • In The World Is Not Enough, James Bond suffers an injury to his shoulder after falling from a hot air balloon. The Big Bad (well, The Dragon) later uses the injury to incapacitate him (which gives him a clue to who The Mole is).
    • Similarly, in Skyfall Bond sustains two shots to his chest and shoulder. He loses his iconic aim with the Walther PPK due to these injuries, and he never recovers them by the end of the movie. Also, M is hit with the thug's gunfire in a non-lethal area but due to her age, she dies from the injury due to bleeding out.
  • Near the end of the tournament in The Karate Kid (1984), the evil karate instructor orders one of his students to break Daniel's leg, which he does, disqualifying himself. Mr. Miyagi sets the injury and he fights the last bout with his bullying nemesis trying to SWEEP THE LEG... until Daniel does the kicking equivalent of a FALCON PUNCH!
  • Kong: Skull Island: Near the climax, King Kong gets severely burned by Samuel L. Jackson's character attempting to kill him a la Captain Ahab. Though the attempt on the King of Primates' life fails, his unhealed burns ends up weakening and impairing him significantly during the subsequent fight against the Alpha Skullcrawler, and Kong almost dies in the fight save for the humans' intervention.
  • Van Damme's character in Lionheart sustained an injury to his side during a fight. In the final tournament, his opponent uses this to his advantage.
  • In Ong Bak 2, the protagonist gets into a massive battle royal against a large group of mooks. He eventually gets wounded by a sword slash to his gut, which he proceeds to bandage quickly to get back into the fight. Later, an assassin who took note of this proceeds to target the wounded area with clawing attacks.
  • Used as a Chekhov's Gun twice in Point Break (1991) when Keanu Reeves's Informed Disability (a literal Game-Breaking Injury from his character's football career) prevents him from capturing Patrick Swayze's Big Bad.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones hijacks a Nazi truck, runs the rest of the convoy off the road, and knocks almost everyone else off the sides of the truck. But one Nazi manages to shoot him in the arm, and the last Nazi manages to throw him out after punching him in his arm wound several times.
  • In Rumble in the Bronx, Jackie broke his ankle jumping onto the hovercraft and continued filming with the broken ankle.
  • Inverted in Serenity. Hero Mal Reynolds was able to withstand a pressure point strike made by The Operative as he lacked the necessary patch of nerves in the vital area to be paralyzed by the attack.
  • Sherlock Holmes has suffered several injuries, mainly one to his shoulder in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows which Moriarty takes advantage of in their theorized fight but Sherlock subverts it by taking a third option.

  • Westley has a game-breaking condition in The Princess Bride, but uses To the Pain to win regardless.
  • Arthurian Legend: Sir Gawain had an old head wound that was nearly fatally reopened in a fight with Sir Lancelot. Lancelot refused to fight him while he was wounded and sent him to his tent to recover. Ironically, he was nearly healed when news that Mordred had taken over Camelot came. He insisted on going to war with his king but had his head wound reopened AGAIN in a small skirmish with a bunch of untrained peasants on his way to a ship. He died minutes after the fight was over.
  • In Memories of Ice, the third book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the only reason Whiskeyjack dies is because he had not had his hurt leg healed after the events of Gardens of the Moon. In Toll the Hounds, book eight, it is revealed that Hood, the god of death himself, personally manipulated events as revenge for a particular slight.
  • In Changes, there seems to be one when Harry breaks his back, but then he gets Power at a Price from Queen Mab and is healed, among other things. We see later in Ghost Story that the choice wasn't exactly fair since a fallen angel interfered.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister's sword hand is chopped off. While this is a serious blow to him since his swordsmanship was a huge part of his identity, this event also serves as the catalyst for some serious Character Development. He's still trying to get over this by training to fight left-handed, but it's not going very well.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Rana is badly injured at the start and then overuse of her electric powers sends her into a coma. Because of that, she is missing from many battles and the narration often notes that she is not at full strength. This was necessary because a substantial degree of the previous book's plot was Daniar recruiting her because of her tremendous power.
  • At the end of The Gunslinger, Roland loses two fingers, and with it his iconic gunslinger quick-loading skill. He also fumbles several critical shots because of his injury. The end of the seventh book suggests Roland can set things right somehow, eventually.

    Live-Action Television 
  • This has directly caused a few teams to lose on The Amazing Race, for example: brothers Marshall & Lance from Season 5, father & son Dave & Connor from 22, and friends Becca & Floyd from 29. It also indirectly causes a lot more teams to lose. Injuries run the gamut from concussions to heat strokes to broken bones to detached tendons.
  • Angel: In the season 2 episode "The Thin Dead Line," Wesley is shot in the gut by a zombie cop and spends the next few episodes in a wheelchair. Though he's out of the chair by "Disharmony," any strenuous activity still causes him visible pain.
  • This plays heavily into the final confrontation with Broadsky in Bones. Hodgins realizes that Broadsky's right hand is broken. As such, when he obeys his sniper instincts and goes for the high ground, he can't point his gun down. Booth takes advantage of this by staying on the ground, leaving Broadsky unable to target him until he's managed to round Broadsky and get the drop on him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the season 2 episode "What's My Line, Part Two," Spike is crushed by a collapsing pipe organ during a fight with Buffy, rendering him bound to a wheelchair for several episodes afterward. By the time of "I Only Have Eyes for You," he's healed, but keeps up the charade to deflect suspicion while he plots against Angelus.
  • Burn Notice: Michael Westen is a ridiculously badass spy. Doesn't stop him from nearly getting his ass kicked by a wannabe-badass street drug dealer in the pilot when the guy punches him in his broken ribs.
  • It's implied that PC Penhale from Doc Martin used to be a city cop (and/or a better cop) before being kicked in the head by a horse on a call. It messed him up quite badly, resulting in narcolepsy, agoraphobia, and mood swings that ruined his marriage.
  • In an episode of NCIS, Gibbs calls upon his mentor Mike Franks to help with a case. While at Gibbs' house, Mike hears a noise, goes to investigate, and ends up confronting the Port-to-Port Killer. Mike manages to shoot him in the leg but dies in the street after being stabbed with a scalpel. Gibbs later discovers that Franks was dying of lung cancer, and had only weeks to live. This is actually a double Game-Breaking Injury since Franks lost his trigger finger in a gunfight not long before this, which is why the Port-to-Port Killer survived bringing a knife to a gunfight.
  • 24: Jack Bauer has had this happen to him on occasion, despite usually being able to take said all kinds of injuries.
    • Late in Day 2, Jack was tortured to death and only just barely resuscitated in time. The strain of it severely weakens his heart, essentially making it a ticking time bomb as it could start giving out on him any second. Sure enough, during the final showdown with the Big Bad after taking out all of his mooks Jack collapses in pain as his heart starts fading, and allowing the Big Bad to nearly kill him until a Big Damn Heroes moment from the calvary saves his life.
    • Jack suffers some nasty injuries in the final few hours of Day 8, including a nasty stab wound in the gut that has to get weakly stitched back together and a gunshot wound in the shoulder. In the finale, he gets taken hostage by some of Charles Logan's men and is about to be executed. Jack tries fighting them off, but by this point, all his injuries catch up to him and he's helpless to do anything. Again, a Big Damn Heroes moment from his friends is the only thing that saves him from a bullet to the brain.

  • In Bowling King, this happened to main character Shautieh Ley literally every time he played for most of the series; In his game with Edgar, he had contracted a fever and was running on several days without sleep. In his match with Jen Ni, his elbow was broken by some of Jen's thugs before the game. In the qualifying game for the God's Hand Cup, he accidentally drank some milk before the game and, being lactose intolerant, well... In the semifinals, he had twisted his ankle falling down some stairs. With the exception of the first one, he won every time.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Submission artists employ this tactic all the time. They will use a variety of locks and holds that target a specific part of the human body until it becomes too painful to use. The Undertaker is very good at selling this trope, often to the point of setting up his finisher only to stop because his knee or foot collapses in pain.
  • A variation of this is when a wrestler (almost always a face) is injured days (or even weeks) before the match begins and is clearly not 100%. The heel will then target that particular body part in the hopes of permanently damaging that foe to the point that they can't continue. This happened A LOT with the Rock for some reason. In 1999, he fought several matches with a supposedly broken arm after Triple H attacked him. In late 2000, during his feud with Rikishi, The Rock had been hit by Rikishi with a sledgehammer in the chest. In 2002, during his feud with Hulk Hogan, the Rock's ribs were injured and taped up.
  • Some matches have a high tendency to cause this, especially the scaffold match. Just competing in one of these matches contributed to Mick Foley's semi-retirement at age 34.
  • CZW wrestler Sick Nick Mondo competed in insane, often disgusting hardcore matches incredibly frequently. He had to hang up the tights for good at age 24.
  • Bret Hart suffered multiple concussions over his career, but the last one was so severe that any blow to the head gave him another one. His health is so fragile that he cannot lift weights or fly in airplanes, let alone compete in the ring.
  • One of the more horrific injuries was Sid Vicious' compound fractures. For the squeamish, it was a small jump off the 2nd turnbuckle to deliver a one-footed kick to Scott Steiner, but his left foot landed wrong, resulting in his tibia and fibula breaking bad enough that his boot was hanging at an obtuse angle. Which is made even worse when you read that he was talked into doing an aerial move by the management, which felt he needed to broaden his arsenal, completely unaware of the fact that he had done very well for himself rarely ever leaving his feet.
  • Three wrestlers had spinal issues that were originally thought to be a Career-Ending Injury, but were able to return to the ring after a few years off:
    • Shawn Michaels injured his back after landing spine first on a casket during a match with The Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble. After dropping the WWF title to Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV he wouldn't return to the ring until SummerSlam 2002 against Triple H. That match was intended to be a one-off, but it went so well that Michaels returned full time, and would remain active until losing his "Streak vs. Career" match against Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Unlike the two following examples Michaels never announced his retirement, and some (notably Jim Cornette) dispute exactly how game breaking Shawn's injury actually was.note 
    • The cumulative effect of many less serious back and neck injures eventually led to a diagnosis of spinal stenosis for Edge, who was forced to retire after his match with Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania XXVII (where he inexplicably retained the World Heavyweight Championship), and would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the following year. After years of R&R Edge made his shocking return at the 2020 Royal Rumble (and won it in 2021) and as of this writing is still an active full time wrester, leaving WWE to wrestle in AEW under his real name of Adam Copeland in October 2023.
    • Sting's neck was injured by a bucklebomb delivered by Seth Rollinsnote , he retired a few months later. However, the injury wasn't as serious as first thought, and he elected to try and rehab it rather than get would would definitely be a career ending surgery (the retirement was believed to be more over issues with WWE's creative than the injury). It worked and Sting would return to wrestling with AEW in 2021, though given that Sting is 64 years old his actual wrestling appearances are pretty limited and he's mainly the manager of Darby Allin. Sting has said he will retire for real at the AEW Revolution PPV, to be held sometime in the spring of 2024.
  • Candice Michelle was forced to retire from complications from a broken clavicle.
  • Both Droz and Hayabusa were paralysed in the ring due to botched moves. Hayabusa eventually regained the use of his lower body (albeit needing a cane to walk), but Droz only regained the use of his upper body and arms. Hayabusa passed away in 2016, Droz passed away in 2023.
  • Big E. Langston accidentally got dropped on his head from a botched suplex in the lead-up to WrestleMania in 2022, breaking his neck. He mercifully survived, didn't require neck surgery, and received a prognosis of a "full" recovery, but was warned by doctors that another similar injury could be catastrophic, leaving the answer to whether or not he can wrestle again up in the air.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed III:
    • Connor suffers a Game-Breaking Injury with the final battle with Charles Lee. He chases him into a burning ship that was under construction and gets a piece of wood impaled through his stomach. Said injury disables him from even running for the rest of the game and even in the after game, his animation shows he's still injured.
    • Our hidden-blade-equipped player characters from the period get into a fight. One receives a stab wound through his wrist and ends up being forced into fighting with just a sword. He's still formidable, but when both combatants are stunned by a nearby cannon blast and end up grappling with each other, he is forced to use both hands to try and strangle his opponent and is thus vulnerable to a throat stab. And that's how Connor killed his father Haytham.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood does it with Ezio being shot at the beginning of the game, removing any chance of free-running forcing him into following the tutorial's linear path. He quickly gets patched up but doesn't regain his full climbing ability until late in the game and only after buying climbing equipment indicating he never fully recovered.
  • The popular Fighting Game Def Jam: Fight for New York managed to integrate this strategy into their gameplay mechanics. Characters who specialized in the submission fighting style were able to target their opponents' limbs, and their overall durability was represented by a separate life meter. If the opposing player used a weakened limb to punch or kick, then the damage would greatly be reduced. These mechanics are likewise carried over into the Kurohyō spin-offs of the Yakuza series, developed by the same company responsible for Def Jam. When Crow stabs you in the back after you storm his joint, you start the battle off with half health.
  • Resident Evil 2 began having their heroes' body language reflect their overall health. If they took too much damage then they would start limping and not move as fast as they normally do. If you were low in health and had to run away from a group of zombies or a huge boss then you were in for a rough night.
  • One of the trailers for Warhammer: Age of Reckoning features a rather one-sided battle between a Chaos warrior and a Sigmarite Warrior-Priest. The latter is on his knees, having taken a nasty blow to the side, when suddenly his eyes and weapon come alive with a holy fire. The Chaos warrior just cocks his head and knees him in the injured side.
  • In Rainbow Six, getting wounded slows you down and decreases your aim accuracy. In Rogue Spear and later games, the characters are actually shown limping.
  • Similarly in Operation Flashpoint, taking a wound in the arm would make it more difficult to aim. A wound in the legs could just slow you down, or make it outright impossible to stand at all.
  • In The Godfather: The Game you can shoot someone in the knee to drop him to a kneel. A second shot there is almost always a kill.
  • Done in-plot in Yggdra Union. Once the Royal Army has finally dispatched the corrupt priests blocking the way for Yggdra to get crowned, Gulcasa and the Imperial Army suddenly show up and attack you. Although the Royal Army tries to stall for time while the coronation is performed, Gulcasa proceeds to hand you your ass until his body very suddenly starts to give out on him due to side effects of the ritual where he assumed Brongaa's power. Fending him off becomes much more manageable, but being his stubborn self, Gulcasa keeps fighting until his overtaxed body hits the breaker switch on him and he collapses.
  • Jubei suffers one of these off-screen in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift thanks to Phantom. Presumably this is a way to justify balancing him, the "strongest creature in the world" against the other characters in the inevitable sequel if he is playable.
  • In Deus Ex, damage to body parts cripples you a certain way, e.g. if your legs are shot out, you are reduced to crawling.
  • After the Final Boss of Crisis Core, Zack must fight his way through the entire Shin-ra Army. You start the fight out kicking ass left and right with no problem. But then the screen fades out. It cuts back in with several hours having gone by and far fewer enemies on the screen, but now Zack is reduced to limping and all of his attacks have a huge and interruptible windup. Three guesses how the fight ends.
  • Dead or Alive: Hayate suffered one prior to the first game after losing a Beam-O-War to Raidou; the resulting energy shockwave flung him into a tree and broke his spine, paralyzing him and rendering him unable to take over as leader of the Mugen Tenshin Clan. However, after he is captured by Victor Donovan and subjected to Project Epsilon, his mobility is restored.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, a character can be crippled by wounds to different parts of the body. For example, broken arms can leave someone unable to wield weapons or shields, a severed motor nerve in the leg can leave someone unable to stand, eye injuries cause blindness, etc. Fortunately, multiple weapons and shields can be equipped to the same hand, and crutches can be used to regain standing ability, albeit at the cost of a speed penalty. That is if they can survive not only the blood loss from the injury but also whatever caused it in the first place.
  • BloodStorm averts this awesomely. The enemy can cut off all your limbs and leave you a quivering heap on the floor, sliding around on your intestines, but you can still win the fight, using only headbutts.
  • In the Medal of Honor series, allies and enemies limp or crawl when severely injured, however the player doesn't suffer from this.
  • In Demon's Souls, the Game-Breaking Injury is death. When you get revived in the Nexus, it brings you back as a ghost that has only half the maximum health your physical self has. This is unavoidable in the tutorial since this is how you get bound to the Nexus in the first place.
  • In Dark Souls, the Great Grey Wolf Sif slowly limps in pain when he is near death. In the special edition, Sif's friend the Wolf knight Artorias' Abyssal corruption forces him to fight with only one arm. He still manages to put up one hell of a fight.
    • Fans have theorized that Artorias' injury is the only thing that makes him feasibly beatable by players. Fighting him with a functional shield arm and his darkness-nullifying shield would probably be even more one-sided.
    • The cover art implies that Artorias is left-handed. Since his left arm is broken, he actually fights the player with only his offhand.
  • In God of War II, Kratos is crushed by the outstretched arm of the Colossus after he defeated it using the Blade of Olympus. Kratos had just turned himself into a mortal again by feeding all of his godly power into the Blade. Then Zeus appears to reclaim the Blade and slay Kratos since the entire struggle in Rhodes was a scheme to preemptively remove any threat Kratos might pose to Olympus. Kratos tries to fight back — but since he was nearly crushed to death by a huge statue seconds ago, he's in pretty bad shape. He's limping, unable to jump or run, and he can barely swing his blades.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): Within the opening minutes of the game, Lara is impaled in the gut by a piece of rebar. The wound getting irritated or worse slows her down more than once throughout the game until she can find a way to patch herself up.
  • In Fallout, the player's body parts can be crippled. Crippled legs slow you down, crippled arms hinder your aim, a crippled torso reduces Endurance, and a crippled head causes reduced Perception, periodic vision blur, and ear-ringing.
  • In Fate/stay night Archer takes a blow from Saber in the Fate route, significantly weakening him for the rest of the story. This prevents him from carrying out his original plan but isn't enough to stop him from taking several of Berserker's lives during his last stand.
    • In the Heaven's Feel route Shirou and Kotomine both suffer one. Shirou loses an arm and has it replaced with Archer's, leaving him unable to use magecraft without drastically shortening his life. Kotomine has his heart destroyed, which leaves him a dead man walking. The two end up fighting each other in the climax and the deciding factor is not which is the better fighter, but who dies from their injury first.
  • Towards the end of Outlast: Whistleblower, Waylon breaks his leg, leaving him unable to run and slowing his pace down significantly. This turns his encounter with Gluskin into a game of cat and mouse when normally it would be trivial for Waylon to just run away.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, this was how a Badass Normal infantry grunt like Cloud was able to kill a Super-Soldier like Sephiroth in Nibelheim. Sephiroth was distracted meeting his "mother" Jenova, giving Cloud the opportunity to impale him and Jenova from behind with the Buster Sword. Sephiroth still had the strength to impale Cloud in turn, but his injury left him too weak to resist when Cloud used his own sword as leverage to hurl Sephiroth into the chamber's wall. The exploding machinery in the wall did the rest of the job, and the dying Sephiroth fell into the Lifestream. It took Sephiroth years to recover from what Cloud did to him, and he had to create a new body using Jenova cells to do it — his own original body was beyond saving.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Teba acts as The Bait for Vah Medoh's cannons so Link can destroy them with Bomb Arrows and give the two of them the opportunity to board the Divine Beast. But Teba gets burned on one of his legs by a laser blast, forcing him to fall back to the Flight Range to recover.
  • Another World Does this to you in various forms throughout the game. You end up trapped in a cage early in the game, your gun runs out of power shortly after you find it and during the final moments of the game, you've been injured so badly you can only crawl on the floor.
  • In Big Fish Games' point-and-click adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, original protagonist Hercule Poirot sprains his ankle early on. Therefore, it falls upon you, Antoinette Marceau, to uncover the big twist. And the other big twist.
  • Uncharted loves using this trope:
    • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nate wakes up at the start of the game In Medias Res with a bad gunshot wound that causes him to significantly struggle with climbing and, once you return to this point in the story and clear a fight, unable to do much more than walk after Nate's adrenaline wears off. Punching in the next Chapter will cause him to recoil in pain, he can't run and climbing is out of the question. Nate's back to normal by the time he starts the next level, though. As for how he got it, he was shot in the flank by Harry Flynn shortly before Nate crashes the train he started the game in.
    • Downplayed in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, as Nate gradually succumbs to dehydration and exhaustion in the Rub Al' Khali desert Chapter rather than an outright injury. He starts chipper, but quickly his gait becomes clumsy and he leans on his knees when stopped. At a certain point, he's reduced to crawling, and stopping will have him collapse onto the ground.
    • In Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Nate's arrival onto Libertalia is by way of shipwreck in the middle of a storm, and a lack of energy means he's slow and clumsy, resulting in an eventual slip off a climbing hold and passing out in a cave.
  • The v1.13 Game Mod for Jagged Alliance 2 added mechanics for simulating this. A hit to an arm or leg causes a merc or enemy to suffer a penalty to their Dexterity and movement speed respectively, and if they take a hit to the head that's not a One-Hit Kill (more common than you might think because even the absolute bottom-tier helmets you start off with offer enough damage reduction that a non-Critical Hit from an equally bottom-tier firearm isn't a guaranteed kill) will lose Wisdom points. These stat losses are permanent unless you have a very skilled medic and expend a lot of medical supplies.
  • In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, it's explained Necrozma's current form and obsessive search for light to absorb were caused by the ancient people of Ultra Megalopolis greedily absorbing took much of its power. Necrozma can only retake its true form after assimilating the light of Solgaleo or Lunala and the light of Ultranecrozium-Z, and even then only as a temporary Super Mode.

  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Sigrun gets a troll bite on her arm in Chapter 9, which doesn't really get to heal properly between getting dragged into fights and her own neglect of it when she is not in a fight. In Chapter 12, she decides to stop wearing her sling and use the arm normally despite it still disturbing her. During the massive attack in Chapter 13, a troll going for the tank containing the group's two non-immune members escapes her because her arm acts up enough to make her lose her grip on her knife, which in turn distracts her long enough to get swatted by the tail of another troll.
  • Unsounded: Duane's leg gets injured carrying Sette which becomes a liability in his fight with Quigley and gives out on him. Toma's timely arrival prevents Quigley from dismembering him as planned.

    Western Animation 
  • The opening scene of Batman Beyond has this happen to Bruce Wayne when his bad heart (and his deteriorating physical state in general, from all the injuries he'd sustained over his years as Batman) finally catches up to him during a fight with some kidnappers and he is forced to use a gun to make the last attacker step down.note 
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars has General Grievous being ridiculously impressive and highly adept at combat... and in the last episode, Mace Windu uses the Force to crush his chest, nearly killing him. Cue Revenge of the Sith, where he's coughing and wheezing painfully and jobs to everyone.
  • In Transformers: Animated Megatron spends the entire first season in traction after Starscream planted a bomb on him in the first episode and he burned up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. Megatron's efforts to fix his Game-Breaking Injury make up a good chunk of the first season's plot, and they do pay off in the end. In the series finale Starscream posthumously screws over Megatron again with bombs he planted in the Omega Supreme clones. Megatron survives, but he is in such poor condition that Optimus curbstomps him.
    • Big Good Ultra Magnus is torn apart by Shockwave, leaving Sentinel Prime in charge of the Elite Guard. Word of God confirms that Ultra Magnus died from his wounds.
  • After prolonged exposure to a toxic form of Energon, severe injuries during battle, and a laser to the back, Bulkhead of Transformers: Prime is left comatose, but alive. It took a long time for him to recover.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Zaheer poisons Korra with a near-lethal dose of elemental mercury (or 'poison' as the show calls it). She survives the poison and most of it is metalbent out of her, but her convalescence takes three years even with Katara regularly healing her, and even then she's unable to go into the Avatar State or the Spirit World, or fight at her full capability, because of a combination of lingering metal inside her and psychic trauma from fighting Zaheer under the poison. It takes no less than Toph herself to get the metal out, and Zaheer leading her back into the Spirit World before she's able to deal with the trauma.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants: Plankton once competed in the Fry Cook games, winning the (onion) ring gymnastics routine despite a broken antenna.
  • Devin and Carrie of Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race have to drop after the race after Devin is accidentally pushed over a cliff and is put in a full-body cast.
  • A rare villain example in Reboot. During their final duel at the end of season three, Enzo rakes Megabyte across the stomach with a trident. Megabyte manages to fight through the pain... until Enzo starts actively attacking the wound, punching it repeatedly until Megabyte looks like he's on the verge of fainting. He then caps it off by using the same trident to smash Megabyte's Wolverine Claws (which are a part of his body) to pieces while he's off-balance, at which point the pain finally becomes too overwhelming and Megabyte collapses to the ground in agony.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has some meaningful background events that imply this was the case with Derpy Hooves, showing that she was once a faster flyer than Spitfire, Lightning Dust, and even Rainbow Dash. Then her eyes begin to go bad and she consistently places worse and worse in competitions, and while another episode shows she attempted to have this fixed in her teens, she ultimately becomes a mail carrier instead. Not that any of this stops her from being the only non-Wonderbolt to attack Tirek, however.

    Real Life 
  • Y.A. Tittle had just taken a brutal tackle by John Baker of the Pittsburgh Steelers which gave him a concussion and a cracked sternum during his final season of play. Tittle went on to play the rest of the season but admitted years later the injury was enough to tell him there were no comebacks in the future.
  • Kirk Gibson was hurt in the NLCS in the 1988 season, and as a result, didn't start game one of the World Series. The Dodgers held him up out of the starting lineup, but in a surprising move, they called him to pinch-hit against Dennis Eckersley with the game on the line. Gibson worked the count to 3-2 before getting the backdoor slider from Eckersley. Gibson's swing was visibly hampered, as he was mainly using his upper body to avoid straining his legs. But he managed to hit a walk-off home run in his lone plate appearance that won the Dodgers Game 1 and set the tone for the rest of the series.
  • The Super Bowl:
    • Jack Youngblood of the Los Angeles Rams actually played every single play on defense during Super Bowl XIV against the all-powerful Pittsburgh Steelers with a taped-up broken leg. Considering that it was the Rams' first title game appearance in years, it was probably justifiable, as there is was no way he was going to miss the most important game of his life. Not only that, he played in the Pro Bowl that year too.
    • Subverted by the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV. Not only did they come into the game missing 8 of their 22 regular starters, but two of their top players on offense (Donald Driver) and defense (Charles Woodson) left the game in the second quarter leading to both men reportedly giving fiery speeches about overcoming adversity at halftime... it worked.
  • During the 1970 NBA finals, Willis Reed played in game 7 with a torn hamstring, an injury that would plague him for years and lead to an early end to his career.
  • Right before the 1994 Olympics, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the kneecap by Shane Stant, a man hired by Tonya Harding's ex-husband. Kerrigan would win the silver medal a month later. The gold medalist that year, Oksana Baiul, was also competing injured thanks to an accident at a warm-up event. This was actually intended to be Game-Breaking for the US Championships, which also served as a trial for the Olympic team, in order to keep Kerrigan off the team altogether, giving Harding a better chance at getting one of the two available spots. The injury actually did keep her out of the trials, but the committee ended up deciding, based on her past performance, to give her a spot anyway.
  • In professional hockey, teams worry that opposing players will deliberately target an injured player's weak spots and so they give injury information in the vaguest possible terms. An "Upper Body Injury" can be anything from a broken arm to a sinus infection to a concussion. During the 2020 playoffs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even those descriptions were done away with in favor of describing all players who cannot play at the moment only as "unfit to participate", inadvertently invoking the Nothing Is Scarier trope. Subverted in the case of Bobby Baun of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, Baun, who broke his ankle earlier in the game, skated on for the overtime and scored the game-winning goal. This would propel the Leafs into a game 7 Stanley Cup victory over their opponents (Baun also played in that game as well).
  • The Minnesota Vikings' Ron Yary was notorious for playing in spite of injuries, particularly the occasion in the 1981 season where he played with a broken foot. Not that this managed to affect his performance at all...
  • Brett Favre, whose noted "Ironman Streak" of Most Consecutive Starts at any non-special teams NFL position (297 regular season; 321 including postseason) involved both injured and broken throwing-hand bones and ankles.
  • The Dallas Cowboys' Rayfield Wright came into the 1975 season with a weak knee and managed to shake the most powerful defensive ends in the league regardless.
  • Bill Buckner was actually off the field for much of the sixth game of the 1986 world series, because of his severely injured knees. Manager John McNamara reportedly sent him out because he thought Buckner deserved to be on the field for the Sox series win... Whoops.
  • Audrey Hepburn actually wanted to be a ballet dancer, not an actor. She trained as a child but had to give it up as she entered her teens because she, well, lived in Nazi-occupied Holland. She and her family went through extended periods of starvation during the occupation which stunted her metabolism and weakened her bones. When the war ended, she tried to pick it back up again but she just physically couldn’t do it. She struggled with the toll her formative years took on her body for the rest of her life and contributed to her relatively early death at 63.
  • Normally, a torn ACL and a fractured tibia would be two of these. Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open on a leg with both. No small feat in professional golf, where you're required to walk four miles a day for four days (and he had to stretch it to a fifth because the U.S. Open requires a full 18-hole round as a tie-breaker).
  • Robert DiPierdomenico and Dermott Brereton both suffered these during the early stages of the 1989 AFL Grand Final. Brereton was shortly after the match began but was able to kick three goals while concussed and broken ribs.
    • DiPierdomenico broke several ribs and punctured a lung. He played out the game without even knowing how badly hurt he was and collapsed shortly after the match finished.
  • During the 2004 Olympics, Russian judoka Dmitri Nossov lost the semifinal, cutting his eyebrow muscle and seriously injuring his left arm. He still won a bronze medal using just the remaining arm.
  • Football player Franz Beckenbauer played The "Game of the Century" against Italy in the 1970 World Cup semi-finals with his arm in a sling, because Germany had already used their two-player substitutions.
    • However, some other players weren't so lucky. Pelé only played two games in 1962 after injuring his groin on a play, and in 1966 got chased by violent defenders of both Bulgaria (who made him miss the following game) and Portugal (who left him limping on the field as substitutions only came in 1970). And in 2014, Neymar had a broken vertebra after getting kneeled in the back by an adversary.
    • In the 2018 Champions League final, between Liverpool and Real Madrid, Liverpool - who were already suffering from an injury crisis - got the short end of the stick twice. First, their star forward, Mohammed Salah, wound up with a shoulder ligament injury so bad that it was believed to be dislocated, courtesy of Madrid captain Sergio Ramos pulling what seemed to be a banned Judo move on Salah. Salah went off in tears. Until that point, halfway through the first half, Liverpool had been dominating the match. Second, early in the second half, when it was still fairly even, Ramos (again) clashed with Liverpool's German goalkeeper, Loris Karius, leaving him with what was later diagnosed as a concussion. Karius, one of the most solid keepers in the competition that season, promptly made two horrible errors that gave Real a 3-1 victory. Ramos lifted the Champions League title for the third time in the row, while Karius was seen in floods of tears, begging the forgiveness of the travelling Liverpool fans (who, to be fair, gave it to him with a rousing rendition of club anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone').
    • Ronaldo Nazário started to suffer with his knees after the 1998 World Cup where he had a convulsion the day of the final. The worst happened in the Italy Cup final in 2000, where he had returned after five months away following an operation, only for the same knee to downright collapse in a play, leading to more surgery and 15 months of recovery. Many were in disbelief when he was called for the 2002 Cup, feeling he'd be rusty after so much time mostly in the medical department. Ronaldo instead led Brazil to a championship, scoring eight goals along the way.
  • Kurt Angle famously won a gold medal with a broken freakin' neck.
  • Good tactics in pretty much any type of equally-matched one-on-one REAL fight to the death involving blades. As opposed to working for that tidy one-shot to the chest, neck, or head. Once your opponent is bleeding out, his form is bound to suffer. That's assuming your foe's limbs are all still attached. And this can be done without closing in enough for him to land a Mutual Kill! Hollywood, however, disagrees. Doubly so in knife fights, since one-shot kills with knives are a bit harder to come by. Word to the wise: The loser of a knife fight dies in the street. The winner spends six months recovering and has to use a cane for the rest of their life.
  • Some NASCAR examples:
    • Hall of Famer Richard Petty once drove a then-Winston Cup race with a broken back.
    • Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip once got in trouble when he drove two laps in a race with a shattered left femur.
    • Davey Allison's 1992 season as a whole counts as this, as at various points in the season, he had rib injuries, concussions, bruised lungs, contusions, broken arm, broken wrist, broken collar bone, etc., and nearly won the title that season.
    • In 2015, Kyle Busch missed several races after suffering a broken leg in the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona. NASCAR ruled that even if he won a race when he returned, he'd have to compete in a certain number of races and accumulate a certain number of points before qualifying for the Chasenote . Busch came back and won several races to qualify with ease despite the restrictions. He then managed to survive all the way to Homestead on points alone (no small feat) and ended up winning the Championship by 3 seconds over defending champion Kevin Harvick.
  • In Super Bowl XXXIX, Donovan McNabb completed a pass to Terrell Owens, giving him an open-field run to the endzone. However, Owens hadn't fully recovered from a leg injury from earlier in the season, so instead of scoring a touchdown like he would have on a healthy leg, a Patriot defender was able to catch up and tackle him from behind. The Eagles proceeded to fumble on the next play and went on to lose the game by 3.
  • The 2012 NBA season, coming right out of a lockout, is now notorious for various injuries ultimately benching players from any team. More often than not, they were forced to sit out on the rest of a playoff series or missed the playoffs entirely.
    • Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls tore an ACL in his left knee; he was supposed to be back by at least February of 2013... but wound up not playing at all for the rest of that season.
    • Joakim Noah, also of the Bulls, sprained his ankle about a game after Rose went down. He missed out on the final two games of the series, where Philly beat Chicago.
    • Avery Bradley, of the Celtics, needed surgery on his shoulder, and he missed out on the Eastern Conference Finals with Miami.
    • The Oklahoma City Thunder had Eric Maynor, a backup point guard, tear his own ACL prior to the playoffs.
    • Miami Heat had Chris Bosh straining his abdominal, but he returned just in time for the end of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Boston.
    • New York Knicks had rookie Iman Shumpert also tearing his own ACL during Game 1 against Miami.
    • Knicks veteran Baron Davis also screwed his own ACL and dislocated his patella.
    • Ricky Rubio, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, tore his ACL and LCL after colliding with Kobe Bryant.
    • Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic harmed his back prior to the playoffs.
  • For tennis players, the physical demands of nearly a full year of constant play all too often leads to injury and them having to either withdraw from tournaments or do their best to play on bum knees or pulled hamstrings. In extreme cases, it can sideline a player's career for years, like with Juan Martín del Potro's wrist problems severely hindering his play for at least two years. In the worst cases, it can derail a player's career outright like with Maureen Connolly (although her injury was non-tennis-related) and Mary Pierce.
  • Serena Williams has been stuck at number #2 in total Grand Slams (only one behind Margaret Court) since she beat her sister, Venus, for the Australian Open in January 2017. She was unknowingly about two months pregnant at the time. She had a very rough pregnancy and almost died when she had to have an emergency c-section that September. She has struggled with blood clots in her legs ever since.
  • At least twice in tennis, with Bethany Mattek-Sands and Luisa Stefani, the knee ligaments tore on court, leading to surgery and a long recovery.
  • Figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was forced to withdraw only minutes before performing short program at the 2014 Winter Olympics because he aggravated his chronic spinal injury, in which the steel bolts implanted in his spine from the recent surgery snapped because of a botched-up jump in the warmup.
  • In 2013, IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti was in a massive accident-his third one in ten years at high speed. The crash left him with spinal and ankle fractures and a concussion. He retired from motorsport altogether when he was told that if the next crash didn't kill him, it'd severely disable him physically and/or mentally.
  • In 2016 Indy car driver Josef Newgarden went literally headfirst into the wall at Texas Motor Speedway, breaking his right hand and shoulder, and there was talk about whether he would be back for the end of the season. As it turns out, he was back for the very next race at Road America, where he finished eighth in spite of having thirteen screws in his shoulder and his hand was still healing. Two weeks after that, at the G-load heavy Iowa Motor Speedway, he started on pole and utterly dominated, even while still healing from his injuries at Texas only a month before.
  • Perhaps one of the most infamous of these in the NFL is the injury that Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann had during a game in 1985 when New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor accidentally broke Theismann's leg during a tackle. After realizing what happened, Taylor immediately called for help. Afterwards, Theisman was forced to retire. Since then, both offensive tackle positionsnote  were redefined to cover the quarterback's blind sidenote  (as the movie's Opening Narration explains) Additionally, while Theismann never blamed Taylor for the injury, Taylor still feels terrible about it to this day.
    • Exactly 33 years later, in 2018, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffered a similar injury as they played the Houston Texans. Fortunately for Smith, after missing the 2019 season, he would come back in the 2020 season. However, the seriousness of his injury meant that he had to retire afterwards.
  • In the 2018 Indycar series season, Robert Wickens was launched into the catchfence in a two-car crash, causing him to break his arm, both ankles, and a vertebra in his back, and taking him out of the rest of the season. Later updates revealed that he is currently paraplegic, due to a bruise on his spinal cord, but he hopes to be walking again within two years, and his team has said that the car is his if he recovers sufficiently, making it an open question of whether it's this or a Career-Ending Injury.
  • The 2017 Gymnastics World Championships was plagued with such injuries, so much so that people started wondering whether there was something wrong with the venue and/or the organization of the event.
    • Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, expected to possibly challenge for medals on vault and floor, tore her ACL (again) in training. It would be another four years (and yet another ACL tear) before Andrade finally saw major success at the World or Olympic level, when she won silver in the all-around and gold on vault in the Tokyo Olympics and then just a few months later became the world champion on vault as well in Kitakyushu.
    • Also in training, reigning Men's All-Around World and Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura tore multiple ligaments in his ankle and had to withdraw from competition, ending an eight-year streak of consecutive all-around victories.
    • Romanian star Larisa Iordache tore her Achilles tendon while warming up on floor exercise before the qualification round. Iordache would not return to competition until 2020.
    • American Ragan Smith qualified second into the Women's All-Around despite a fall and was largely considered the favorite to win the title. While warming up for the All-Around competition, she seriously injured her ankle and could not compete, exiting the arena on crutches.
    • During the Women's Floor Exercise final, Italian gymnast and 2006 all-around champion Vanessa Ferrari tore her Achilles tendon (similar to Iordache's injury a few days earlier) and had to be carried off the podium.
  • Also in gymnastics, at the 1996 Olympics, American gymnast Kerri Strug famously sprained her ankle on her first vault attempt in the team final. The reason the incident became famous is that she nonetheless returned to the podium to make a second attempt in order to clinch the gold medal for the team. She successfully landed the vault, but would never compete in gymnastics again.
  • In week 16 of the 2022-23 NFL season, the game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals had Bills safety Damar Hamlin suddenly suffer a cardiac arrest after making a tackle. He was given CPR on the field and was immediately hospitalized, forcing the NFL to declare the game a "no-contest". Hamlin recovered and returned to regular season action on October 1, 2023.
  • Ahead of the 2023 NFL season, the New York Jets were extremely excited about adding veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a trade from the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers would end up tearing his Achilles after playing just four snaps, ending his season almost before it began.


Video Example(s):


Hot Air Balloon Destruction

Zig-Zagged with the Cigar Girl, who flees to a hot air balloon, but blows it up instead of using it to escape.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ClimbingClimax

Media sources: