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Stand back.

Loki: How desperate are you, that you call on such lost creatures to defend you?
Nick Fury: How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk about peace and you kill 'cause it's fun. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did.

There is wisdom in facing a threat with a proportionate response. Sure, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, but it'll likely cause a lot of avoidable collateral damage, and it'll guarantee that tomorrow the next threat is stronger. But every so often, the time comes when the threat is so great, the situation has gone so horribly wrong, that there is no proportionate response. When circumstances are so dire as to justify the use of any and every thing that might solve it, no matter how reckless, nonsensical, or horrific, regardless of cost. When even the summoning of Godzilla, king of the monsters and patron saint of collateral damage, could not possibly make the crisis any worse. Every so often, the situation crosses the Godzilla Threshold.

Once the Threshold is crossed, any plan, with even the smallest possibility of success, no matter how ludicrous, dangerous, or abhorrent, suddenly becomes a valid option. This serves both narrative and authorial purposes. Suppose the heroes have an awesome weapon that nonetheless causes a lot of property damage, like a Kill Sat. Or a captured or dormant monster. Or one knows a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that will put their life at risk. Or the only ones left who are in a position to try and save the day are the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who've been bumbling their way in the background the whole time. The powers that be have to use it, but it can't be done lightly without portraying them as either careless or cruel. So the author contrives to make the situation call for its use in such clear terms the audience understands this was done as a last resort ó and, if it's handled properly, the audience doesn't even notice.

Sometimes, the threshold is engineered or handled poorly. This is can be the case when the heroes' actions or failures to act cause the situation to cross the threshold. General Ripper is also a likely candidate. For situations like this, there's an Idiot Ball (or Idiot Plot) or Poor Communication Kills to thank for the dire mess of things. Some plots center around avoiding the Godzilla Threshold and keeping the trigger-happy person in charge of the "failsafe" from pushing the button. Sometimes, they even succeed.

Note that, as the Real Life section below attempts to show, using such options tends to create more problems; if the solution ultimately causes more/worse problems than you had before, you may have a case of Pyrrhic Victory. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! and Won the War, Lost the Peace can be related in larger-scale stories. Of course, these only apply when the consequences are shown ó if they pull it off without problems, you may have an Informed Flaw.

Named for the Godzilla films of the late 1980s and 1990s, where Godzilla was again largely a force of nature personified, if not outright evil (in contrast to his heroic characterizations during the '60s and '70s), but people were still happy to see him because he was usually fighting something far worse and he was the only thing that stood a hope in hell of defeating it.

Situations of this nature include the Willfully Weak character giving the "World of Cardboard" Speech and turning the Power Limiter off, using the Forbidden Chekhov's Gun, using lethal powers, turning to the Nuclear Option, or casting Summon Bigger Fish. When begged, the All-Powerful Bystander may even be willing to lend a hand. In video games, this is the time to use items that are Too Awesome to Use.

Compare Lesser of Two Evils (which Godzilla Threshold could be a subtrope of), and Enemy Mine, for situations where it may be useful to team up with a lesser foe to combat a far greater mutual threat. Also compare The Tyson Zone, Disproportionate Retribution, and Evil Versus Oblivion (where the "Godzilla" of the situation is likely to be the "Evil"). Contrast The Unfettered, who lives and acts as though the situation is always past the Threshold, even when there's no good reason to do so. On the other axis is Once Is Not Enough, where a character clings to their limits even when they should be beating down the villain with everything they have, and usually pays for it. Batman Grabs a Gun is a subtrope for cases where the threat convinces a character to set aside an otherwise rigorously obeyed personal rule.


Examples

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    Fan Works 
  • The Nurglite incursion in Age of Strife, which included no less than three Great Unclean Ones, almost drove Mirande to daemon summoning herself in her attempt to stop it.
  • Daemon from the Tamers Forever Series is considered to be such an unbeatable opponent that the Tamersí only hope is for Takato to die before Daemon can absorb the power of a god.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, the Scooby Gang is facing a Kryptonian vampire. Since it's mightier than Supergirl ó and we're talking about the Pre-Crisis version who was known to kick moons out of and back in orbit here ó the Girl of Steel gets tools capable of killing or banishing a Kryptonian and tells the Gang to use them if things go South, no matter what. Note that she's usually against killing, but she's willing to make an exception for Zol-Am.
    Buffy: And this is...what?
    Giles: I do believe I know. Iím not quite sure Iím comfortable with it. At all.
    Supergirl: (nodding) These are our two last lines of defense. This is a Phantom Zone ray. Just worry about the white button. If you touch that, whatever you point this at will be instantly banished to the Zone. This one Iíve set to burn out its power element just two minutes after activation. That should prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. If all else fails, use this on Zol-Am. I donít want him back in the Zone. I donít know if he can infect other inmates there with vampirism, and I donít want to find out. If I donít have to.
    Buffy: Yeah. One vamp with powers to change the course of mighty graveyards is all we need for now. And whatís in this little box?
    Supergirl: (grasping her wrist) Donít.
    Giles: I know what is in there. Kryptonite.
    Buffy: Kryptonite? Youíre serious?
    Supergirl: What do you think? If even the Zone projector fails, you have to use this against Zol-Am. It must be in close proximity to him for several minutes to kill him. If it gets knocked too far away, or he manages to fly off, or lead gets between it and him... he can recover. Also, donít expect him to be too pleased.
    Buffy: We canít use that against him while youíre around.
    Supergirl: Buffy. Youíll only use this as a last resort. But if that happens, you will use it whatever the circumstances.
    Buffy: But...
    Supergirl: Whatever the circumstances. Am I clear?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum has two instances of this ó first is when Princess Celestia decides to consult Discord about The Bag of Tirek, which has corrupted the Mirror Universe Equestria into carrying out a genocidal campaign against earth and humanity, which he agrees to because even he is disgusted with what Queen Celestia is doing to the humans; second is that humanity has rigged the Yellowstone Supervolcano with several nukes to detonate and likely destroy the world as part of a Taking You with Me plan, if only to avoid living as brainwashed slaves to a xenocidal tyrant.
    • I Am Going To Save And/Or Destroy Equestria: In this alternate universe, Princess Celestia and Nightmare Moon fought each other to a Mutual Kill. Without them, the sun and moon get out of wack and Equestria is overrun by the fiends of Tartarus and other villains. A group of pony survivors decide their only option is to resurrect King Sombra and hope he'll hate the villains for taking over "his" kingdom more than he'll hate them (the resurrection spell requires the subject's remains, so it couldn't be used on Celestia or Luna). Fortunately, the spell brings back Sombra's body with a human named Ambrose's soul in control, and he's willing to help them after getting over the initial shock and confusion.
    • In A Dream of Dawn, Nightmare Moon's reign over Equestria is so disruptive that summoning Discord actually makes life better.
    • The Immortal Game: The Mane Six become so desperate to defeat Titan that Twilight comes up with one final contingency in case the Elements of Harmony fail, or they die before being able to use them. That contingency? Releasing Discord to fight him.
    • Pony POV Series:
      • Celestia comments that The Elders would only directly intervene (rather than through Their children or Avatars) in something happening in mortal reality if it was a threat to all of existence, because that is the only situation where the damage would be greater than that caused by Them entering reality. To put this in perspective, Nightmare Paradox's "Groundhog Day" Loop plan completely screwed up the Dark World timeline and cost countless trillions of lives, and even that wasn't enough for Them to intervene. Such a threshold is finally crossed in the Finale Arc, when Discord's endgame proves terrible enough that Havoc and Entropy, at least, step in to lend aid.
      • It turns out that the Equestrian military has specific protocols in place for situations like this, including Kaiju attacks, that require direct interference from the Princesses. Fittingly, it's called Article 1954.
      • During the Wedding Arc, things get so desperate that Twilight and Cadence seriously consider the possibility of releasing Discord to fight Chrysalis, but only as an absolute last resort. Of course, they don't realize that he's already free...
      • As the heroes prepare for one final battle with Discord, Celestia persuades Mother Deer/Harmony to upgrade the Elements of Harmony to their full potential. She comments that normally, she would not have done this for several years, until the Mane Six had fully mastered them, but considering they're about to face Discord, they need all the help they can get.
    • The Powers of Harmony: The use of forbidden Lifeforce magic is considered to be an absolute last resort, due to the fact that it leaves the user an addict who grows more uncontrollable over time. During the War of the Sun and Moon, Libra had to use it to immobilize Nightmare Moon's undying army; his Echo Blair is still carrying that burden a thousand years later.
    • In The Stars Ascendant, Celestia notes that had she realized just how powerful Tirek had become, she would have ordered Twilight to rip the Elements of Harmony out of the Tree of Harmony. Given that the tree had been withering without the Elements of Harmony, it might kill the tree, but Celestia felt it would have been justified in order to defeat Tirek. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary.
    • The Stars Will Aid Their Escape: The last time Nyarlathotep emerged in Equestria, Celestia was only able to stop him by calling down the power of the sun and incinerating everything for miles, sacrificing the lives of every pony in the affected area (most of whom were rendered hopelessly insane by Nyarlathotep anyway) in order to stop him from spreading. And all that succeeded in doing was temporarily banishing Nyarlathotep back where he came from ó he describes it as having been inconvenient.
    • Literally crossed in Persona EG. Flash Sentry and several of his friends are backed into a corner when Sunset Shimmer uses shadow versions of every persona Flash has ever used. Exhausted and about to be killed, Flash summons the only persona in his collection that he has not used yet, Gojira. Complete with Giant Foot of Stomping entrance and a giant Atomic Breath attack that nearly roasts Sunset alive.
    • During her battle with Discord in Knights of the Realm, Twilight Sparkle resorts to removing all her restraints. Considering the last time that had happened (during training) and that in this fic she's a master of Chaos magic, it's obvious why, even facing Discord, it took her a while to resort to that.
    • The Audience: In chapter 41, Art mentions this trope by name in reference to the Mane Six and the use of the Elements. He must then give a brief, summarized description to Fluttershy.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis is what happens when crossing the Threshold is exactly the wrong thing to do, as the different characters implementing their own contingency plans just escalates the situation, going from "bad, but manageable" to almost Cosmic Horror Story levels. Fittingly, Cirno gets to perform the stupidest one, reckoning that her friend Rumia is in such desperate peril that getting Yuuka involved is a reasonable idea.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, the Reaper invasion causes the normally-benign-if-ineffective Citadel Council to be replaced by the United Defense Command, a huge believer in Straw Civilian among other things, which are all shown to be negative In-Universe. Nobody really argues because the Reaper threat is just that big, even though afterward people realize what a mess it made.
  • In A Midsummer Night's Dream chapter 8, with Midsummer Night rendered inoperable after the fight with Rasputin, the previously reluctant brothers decide that they should share Jaeger schematics with the Equestrians.
  • In Ashes of the Past, Blast Burn is treated like this, as its nature as a Fire Type equivalent of Hyper Beam means the only thing more destructive is the local equivalent of a nuclear strike. Exactly because of its power, any Pokémon that learns it has an artificial mental block created to prevent it from using it on their own volition, and must be ordered to do that.
    • Early on, Charizard mentions Victini using V-Generate was the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, putting it on par with an actual nuclear strike.
  • Worldwar: War of Equals: The threat of pending invasion by the Race is enough for Switzerland to abandon its long-standing neutrality and join the European Coalition, and for Israel to join forces with its Arab neighbors (primarily Egypt). After the war begins and grows desperate for some, we see more examples ó when Ukraine is nearly completely overrun, its military starts using nerve gas, while President Viktor Yanukovych asks for Russian aid; Syria breaks out its chemical weapons program in light of neighboring Iraq being overrun; and China, desperately trying to Hold the Line against the Race, is the first nation to use nukes against the invading forces.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index fic Twist Of Fate, Moses uses his Time Master powers to defeat Teitoku Kakine by making him suffer Rapid Aging. Moses explains that he would normally not do something this horrible, but the situation they were trying to stop is extremely desperate, Kakine wouldn't get out of their way, and he was strong enough to shrug off Moses' attempts to freeze him.
  • In the first story of the Facing the Future Series, Dark Danny's return results in Clockwork bringing in Danny and Sam's future selves and Sam getting ghost powers of her own in order to stop him.
  • In Eugenesis, Prowl and Perceptor are perfectly willing to meddle with Time Travel, knowing what time travel can unleash (in Prowl's case, from first-hand experience), simply because they feel the current situation is that bad. This earns them a serious What the Hell, Hero? from Nightbeat, although he still ends up agreeing with them. Later on, a revived Optimus Prime agrees to take part in the fight against the Quintessons, knowingly risking his life, not to mention using time-travel himself, for the same reasons.
  • MLP Next Generation: Know Fear!: The war against the griffons is going badly enough (even with the aid of Starburst's new powers) that Celestia decides to have one of Equestria's godly rulers (herself, the other alicorns and Discord) unlock their full power and join the battlefield as a show of force. Everyone else is horrified by the potential consequences of this, but they go through with it anyway, with Twilight being the one whose power is unlocked, and she proceeds to take on an entire griffon army by herself ó only for it to turn out that the griffons already had plans prepared to neutralize her.
  • In White Devil of the Moon, when a combination attack of Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate's strongest attacks don't work on Queen Metalla, Nanoha is forced to load up the Silver Crystal into Rising Heart, despite the fact that Nanoha could die going all-out.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index/Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover Walpurgisnaught, when Touma learns of the abominable system the Incubators do with Magical Girls and Witches, he breaks his no-killing code with sentient beings and obliterates Kyubey.
  • In The Bridge, 200-something Gyaos flying straight towards Canterlot with nothing else to stop them? Time to revert the ponified Godzilla back into his true form. Princess Luna was not happy about it. Thankfully, it's a heroic version of the character.
  • Shadows Awakening: During the penultimate battle in the Forge of Shadows, Daolon Wong is empowered to the point of nearly defeating the J-Team singlehandedly. This forces Jade to remove the Tiger Talisman, which has been keeping her growing corruption by the Queen in check ó this allows her greater control of her powers, enough to fight Wong evenly, but risks her being fully corrupted by the Queen. In fact, the Queen grows strong enough to separate from Jade entirely, thus becoming the new Big Bad.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos crosses the threshold a few times.
    • Episode 63 has a villainous example. Sonic, Shadow, and Eric turn into their Super forms and are on the verge of defeating Tsali once and for all. So what does Tsali do? He summons Lord Maledict himself for backup. Cue Maledict showing up, rescuing Tsali, and utterly curbstomping Sonic and friends.
    • When Dark Tails nearly annihilates the fleets of both sides, both the Demons and Angels separately devote all their attention to taking him down, to the point where the Demons reactivate a galaxy-destroying superweapon just in case. And then Dark Tails achieves godhood in Episode 75 and nearly decimates the entire galaxy, they both decide to take it on together ó the threshold is taken to the the point where Jesus Christ and Satan pull an Enemy Mine and decide to (temporarily) help each other.
  • In Symbiosis, the act of calling the Elite Four from the Pokémon League is a sign that everything has gone to hell. Team Rocket successfully mind rapes and mind controls Sabrina and forces her to kill everyone in her gym and destroy Saffron City. It gets so bad that Agatha and her massive Ghost Pokémon entourage have to be called in.
  • Life After Hayate mentions the Time-Space Administrative Bureau's General Order #27: "The capture of or possession of dimensional flexure equipment by any non-Bureau person or group is unacceptable. Any normal rules of engagement may be suspended at the discretion of the guard force as necessary to prevent it falling into the hands of others." Leti Lowran stresses to the Wolkenritter that this is the one circumstance where they can do anything if they think they have to.
    • Later on the story mentions the Carneades Protocol, which amends the normal rules of engagement to include the statement "any level of collateral damage necessary to complete the mission is acceptable." It is essentially the Godzilla Threshold given form: no matter how much damage you might be able to do if you put your mind to it, your failure is considered worse.
  • In the DC Comics fanfic The Apokolips Agenda, virtually every pre-Crisis hero is battling on Apokolips in a desperate struggle to prevent Darkseid from learning the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid, who has been summoning more and more powerful villains to slow the heroes, finally reaches the threshold and resurrects Trigon, who turns all of the heroes to stone. In response, Kid Eternity, whose power allows him to resurrect a deceased person briefly by saying their name, speaks a name before he turns to stone: Jim Corrigan. Cue the Spectre materializing and killing Trigon with a single blow. Now that's Summon Bigger Fish.
  • In A New World, when faced with the imminent Lunarian invasion and everyone who could stop them burying their heads in the sand, Kanako arranges for Suwako to release the Mishaguji.
  • The Infinite Loops
    • One example where viruses got into the Equestrian Loop, creating a loop so horrifying that Sleipnir, the admin for the Equestrian Loop, personally entered the loop, rescued Twilight, fought their way into the lower levels of Hell, locked Hell from the inside, and then crashed the loop by causing the apocalypse. How horrifying is something when creating further multiversal instability is better than letting it continue to exist? Also note the Sleipnir is portrayed as one of the most responsible and levelheaded of the admins.
    • There was also an example of Twilight and Pinkie Pie ending up in a 1984esque version of Equestria, Twilight's response?
      Twilight Sparkle: Pinkamena Diane Pie?
      Pinkie Pie: Yes Twilight?
      Twilight Sparkle: You know all those things I normally ask you not to do? Do them.
  • Thousand Shinji: When the race of killer robots known as Necrons were taking over the galaxy and killing literally everything, the Emperor of Mankind was desperate enough to agree to a truce with the Ruinous Powers and let Earth fall to Chaos. Usually he'd never, ever, consider such a scenario.
  • With This Ring: When Earth is falling to an alien invasion with the Justice League and several members of Young Justice dead. Orange Lantern gets desperate, so desperate that he wanted power more than he wanted to remain himself, which he gets by summoning the Ophidian the Embodiment of Avarice.
    • OL tells Martian Manhunter, it could have been worse: he has the Grimorium Verum, a guide book for extremely powerful demons, which he would have used to summon an actual demon if the Ophidian had fell through.
  • In Touhou Ibunshu, the events of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and Imperishable Night are construed at this: both times, it merely served as a delaying tactic that ultimately only helped make enough time for the heroines to step in as unexpected reinforcements. In the first, Flandre had begun to gather enormous amounts of energy in an effort to cast a massive spell to annihilate Gensokyo; Remilia delayed her by taking the energy and dispersing it as the scarlet mist. In the second, Mokou attempted to use the moon as a catalyst to energize a vast undead fairy army, and Eirin used a powerful spell to hide the moon and stop time in a desperate gambit to block her.
  • In This Bites!, Vivi fiddles with the Sirocco-charm container that her father gave her whenever she is faced with a particularly terrifying enemy, as if contemplating crossing a threshold there is no going back from. It contains the seed of an active Logia Devil Fruit.
  • In Mater Familias Bulma, trapped in the Capsule Corporation by a hacked Android 16 with Imperfect Cell and Gero coming there, decides to do something she admits was insane or truly desperate: add cell samples from Android 17 and 18 to the still coccoonized Present Cell, hoping that, having been recovered before Gero's machine could properly brainwash him, he'll help. It works, partly because he's actually grateful for that and partly because Cell manages to disgust him.
  • Queen of All Oni: After the Near-Villain Victory of Operation Steel Lighting, Captain Black organizes an emergency Plan B to be used in case Jade is ever on the verge of utterly defeating the heroes again. When this happens during Operation Endgame, the plan is triggered, revealed to be reanimating the statue of Lo Pei and unleashing him. Tellingly, one of the codes needed to put this plan into action actually is "Godzilla".
  • A Mark Of Betrayal: The Princesses' worst-case contingency scenario: In the event they are both infected with red-tinge, and it manifests in a way that will cause them to destroy themselves or the world, they plan to deliberately release Discord and plunge the world back into chaos... because even chaos is better than total death.

    Films — Animated 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens plays this for laughs: the giant alien machine is unstoppable, so they release their monsters - a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits.
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Salvatore Valestra tries to hire the Joker to take out Batman, under the belief that Batman is knocking off people connected to Beaumont (it's someone else), and hopes that since Joker is one of these people he will take the job. He laments having been pushed to the point where it's necessary, and Joker kills him to bait the real killer.
  • Same thing happens in Batman: Under the Red Hood when Black Mask breaks Joker out of Arkham in order to deal with the Red Hood. What he didn't know was that this was exactly what Red Hood wanted.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Most 1950's monster flicks often had nuclear weapons as a last resort, from The War Of The Worlds to Beginning of the End. So did Ang Lee's Hulk for that matter; they bombed a lake, though, and so there were no collateral casualties, but it was certainly the last available option once Hulk and Banner Dad had unleashed all their rage.
  • The teenagers in Freddy vs. Jason wanted Jason, the guy that killed 20 of their friends, to win the fight against Freddy— if only because Jason would go back home, since he has no other reason to be in Elm Street. These kids also save Jason from drowning in a dream. He kills the black girl later.
  • In Sadako Vs Kayako, the two main characters are cursed by their respective ghosts. Yuri is cursed by Sadako and Suzuka is cursed by Kayako. Keizo, a psychic they know, decides the best way to permanently get rid of both curses is to pit them against each other by double cursing both with the other's curse.
  • Godzilla, the Trope Namer:
    • Perhaps the best example comes from the original Gojira itself, where the Japanese government decides to deploy Dr. Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer in Tokyo Bay to kill the monster. The Oxygen Destroyer also kills all other marine life in the bay, but the government considers this an acceptable loss in exchange for killing a monster that's just devastated the city. Serizawa himself is reluctant to even let anyone know about the Oxygen Destroyer's existence, even while Godzilla's rampaging, because he's afraid of how horrible a weapon it might be. He crosses his own threshold after a montage of the destruction the monster caused shows him what's at stake — and even then he takes steps to ensure his creation can't be misused. The 1956 English dub has a memorable summary of his dilemma:
      Dr. Serizawa: And what will become of us if a weapon such as that I now have, falls into the wrong hands?
      Ogata: Then you have a responsibility no man has ever faced. You have your fear, which might become reality, and then you have Godzilla, which is reality.
    • 1966's Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster provides a rare Showa example for the trope namer. The main characters, stuck on an island with their exit barred by a secret terrorist cell, opt to awaken a sleeping Godzilla when their escape attempts fail. Predictably, with the big guy awake and angry, the terrorists don't last much longer.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars reaches the literal Godzilla Threshold about halfway through. Civilization is in ruins and the alien monsters are running rampant, so how could one more make things worse? Godzilla turns out to be fiercely territorial when near other monsters...
    • In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, King Ghidorah causes Japan to reach this Threshold. They bring back Godzilla (or so they thought) and juice him with radiation. Of course, after King G is defeated, he starts rampaging too, but if you think about it, the situation didn't really get any worse. At which point they bring King Ghidorah back to fight Godzilla, which Oddly enough actually works.
    • Godzilla (2014):
      • Invoked. Serizawa suggests that the only thing that can stop the MUTOs is the legendary Godzilla, and that the US military should just get out of his way.
      • Admiral Stenz believes that utilizing nuclear weapons is the least costly way of dealing with the MUTO. He's aware that they feed off of radiation, but believes the sheer strength of the explosion will be enough to kill them, noting that, while the H-Bomb didn't kill Godzilla in 1954, it's a firecracker in comparison to what is at their disposal six decades later. (Weirdly the Castle Bravo bomb dropped on Godzilla was actually 15 megatons. This is stronger than any bomb in our aresenal today and is the most powerful explosion America ever produced. The "this is megatons, not kilotons" line is just wrong.)
    • In Shin Godzilla, the UN decides to try and drop a thermonuclear bomb on Godzilla to try and kill him after he decimates several cities and kills most of Japan's higher government (including the Prime Minister), and attempts to eliminate him through conventional means have just made the situation worse, despite the fact he is currently standing in the heart of Tokyo.
  • In the first Transformers film, when the Deceptions are closing in on the Allspark, the preferred military solution is to hide the Allspark in the middle of a city - where the Decepticons will have trouble getting to it until large-scale military assistance could be attained and keep them busy while the Allspark was moved to another location.
  • Independence Day:
    • The revelation that the aliens' only interest is the complete and total destruction of earth serves as the Godzilla Threshold moment that convinces the president to authorize use of nuclear weapons against the invaders. Naturally, it doesn't work on the intended target, though it completely destroys the already-doomed city of Houston below.
    • Played for laughs when Jeff Goldblum drunkenly decides to trash the lab saying if we screw up this planet enough they won't want it anymore as they are there for its resources.
  • Early on in Ghostbusters (1984), Egon goes into some detail as to how important it is to never cross the streams fired by their weapons. There is apparently a very good chance of "total protonic reversal," which would result in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Once Gozer manifests (as a 100 foot marshmallow man) and tramples downtown New York as a warm-up to The End of the World as We Know It, the team decides to do it anyway. The protonic reversal goes off, alright... but inside Gozer's little pocket of its universe.
    • Crossing the streams is used a few more times in the video game and comic book continuities, although each time it was used successfully, there were usually extenuating circumstances involved, such as being inside of (or at least firing into) another dimension where the laws of physics work differently. In the IDW comic book series, NINE streams were crossed when fighting Tiamat in her home dimension. Later on however, the idea was rejected when fighting the Megaspook, since they were still in New York City and this time they didn't have an extradimensional portal to skew the odds.
  • Cloverfield: The Hammerdown protocol. Though not explained in the movie, it appears to involve either nuking Manhattan or "merely" dropping multiple superheavy conventional bombs on it. To quote the radio operator, "If you can hear the [air raid] sirens, you're inside the blast zone."
  • The climax of Galaxy Quest—The Big Bad has killed or fatally wounded everyone on the ship and the ship is hurtling towards Earth and will probably cause a mass extinction on impactnote . Jason gives the order to activate the secret superweapon, the Omega 13. The problem is, nobody knows what the Omega 13 actually does, since the Galaxy Quest TV show was cancelled before it properly appeared. The two common Epileptic Trees are that it either destroyed all matter in the universe in 13 seconds, or created a 13 second time-warp to the past. Fortunately for everyone involved, it's the latter.
  • In The Core, the heroes reach the outer core of the Earth and discover that the nuclear weapons they've brought along won't be enough to restart it. In response, the general decides to fire up Project DESTINI to restart the core — which was the very thing that had stopped the core in the first place. The predicted devastation to the Earth's surface would be almost as bad as the lack of a geomagnetic field they were trying to fix.
  • Aliens has the space marines, with Ellen Ripley in tow, arrive at the colony they are supposed to investigate only to find that said colony has been overrun and the colonists are all monster chow. In the process of evaluating the situation, most of the marines also become monster chow. With the mission screwed and the colony beyond help, Ripley suggests that they "Take off and nuke the entire site from orbit." Corporal Hicks (now the ranking soldier) agrees with her.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick:
    • Lampshaded by Riddick in Pitch Black when the survivers of the crashed spaceship managed to capture him, but then releases him due to the alien fauna.
    Riddick: Finally found something worse than me, huh?
  • The Dark Knight Saga:
    • The Dark Knight has several scenes musing about how much power is appropriate to stop a threat, citing things like Ancient Rome's ability to grant emergency powers to one man. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear that Batman himself has become the threshold for Gotham's criminal underworld. Their response is The Joker.
      Bruce Wayne: I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.
      Alfred Pennyworth: You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand.
    • Towards the end of the film, Batman hacks every cell phone in Gotham into a listening device/sonar array. Lucius Fox is horrified at how unethical it is, and Batman seemingly agrees, as he puts the self-destruct option in Lucius's hands instead of his own, to be used as soon as they thwart the Joker.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: Towards the end of the film, Batman uses the Bat's weapons with lethal intent, in order to stop a nuke from going off. To a lesser extent, he appears in broad daylight for the first time in the series.
  • The science facility in The Andromeda Strain is set up to nuke itself if anything gets past the containment seals. The scientists later learn that the energy would only fuel the strain's reproduction, wiping out life on Earth in short order.
  • Tremors 2: Aftershocks: Earl is completely surrounded by Shriekers and is standing in the back of Burt's truck. His response: Set a timed explosive to go off and toss it down in the truck. That's 2.5 tons of Burt Gummer approved high explosives, parked in an oil refinery.
    Burt: (panics) That's two and half tons of high explosives Earl!
    Earl: (worried) Are you saying that's not enough?! God, Burt! Don't tell me that's not enough!
    Burt: Not enough?! It's... Never mind! Just run... FASTER!!!
  • Tremors 3: Back to Perfection has this when Burt blows up his entire bunker to kill a single Ass Blaster, only to learn that they go into a coma when they eat too much.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    Banner: So, this all seems... horrible.
    Natasha: I've seen worse. [referring to Bruce's last Hulk Out]
    Banner: Sorry.
    Natasha: No, we could... use a little worse.
    • Judging by JARVIS' tone (the Deadpan Snarker AI), the "House Party protocol" in Iron Man 3 is too dangerous to use. Tony uses it at the climax to summon thirty suits to imprecisely fire on the villains.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, the Threshold is the Dark Elves threatening the entire universe, and Godzilla is Loki himself. He is fully aware of the irony.
    • Echoing the first film, Avengers: Age of Ultron has the Hulk being brought out in battle a general crossing of the threshold; referred to as "Code Green." Ultron is then able to exploit this by forcing his hand in the battles of South Africa and the final battle in Sokovia. The former even has Iron Man's own threshold, the Hulkbuster armor - which Banner himself helped develop.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man, knowing that the power could kill him.
    • Discussed in Doctor Strange (2016), time magic is forbidden for being too destructive. Strange ends up resorting to time magic when he fails to stop Dormammu from being let into their universe and forces Dormammu to leave Earth with time magic. As the dust settles, Mordo quits over these actions, believing that the sorcerers are doing the wrong thing.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Asgard is prophesied to be destroyed by Surtur the fire giant, when his crown unites with the Eternal Flame and initiates Ragnarok. The opening scene of the movie has Thor making sure this won't happen by defeating Surtur and storing away his crown in Asgard's vaults. When Hela the Goddess of Death conquers Asgard, and intends to use it to conquer all the rest of the galaxy, Thor and company's efforts to defeat her conventionally fail because she draws her power from Asgard itself. The only solution? Summoning Surtur to bring about Ragnarok and so destroy Asgard and Hela with it.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Averted. While the Avengers know that Thanos is a great enough threat that they all have to band together to have a chance at even stopping him, the Government (especially Ross) don't care. As soon as the fugitive Avengers show up to help, Ross immediately orders their arrest.Played straight when it turns out Fury has another threshold. There's some kind of global threat even the Avengers can't stop which causes random people to vanish into thin air? Time to page Captain Marvel.
  • In Dirty War, DS Drummer, an otherwise good man who genuinely desires to understand the people he is investigating, tortures a suspect after a dirty bomb is detonated in London. The movie also underlines the uselessness of this strategy as it is documents found in the house, not torture, which leads to the clues that prevent further attacks.
  • Star Trek films:
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The Enterprise crew finds out through Lt. Valeris that there's a conspiracy between members of the Federation and the Klingon Empire to disrupt peace talks between their leaders. When Valeris refuses to share the names of all the co-conspirators, Spock forcibly mind-melds to get them. It's clear from Spock's reaction that he didn't want to do this.
    • Future Spock from Star Trek (2009) reveals information about the future to Kirk and a transwarp formula from a century later because he considered stopping Nero's genocidal campaign to be more important than keeping the time-space continuum stable (and Nero's actions had already irreparably damaged the timeline anyway).
    • Star Trek Into Darkness:
      • Spock Prime has a vow to never reveal anything of his timeline. He considers Khan enough of a threat to break his vow in order to warn the Enterprise.
      • The Vengeance so outclasses the Enterprise that unleashing the superhuman ex-Evil Overlord on it is actually the best option Kirk and co. can come up with.
  • In the DC Extended Universe,
    • Man of Steel: After being defeated, General Zod confesses he has nothing more to live for and vows to make the people of Earth suffer. There is nothing they can do to stop him or restrain him. Superman comes to the hard decision that the only way to stop him is to kill him.
    • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman justifies stealing Lex Luthor's Kryptonite by pointng out Superman "has the power to wipe out the entire human race," making his existence to great a risk.
    • In Suicide Squad, El Diablo absolutely refuses to ever use his fire powers to harm anyone or anything ever again. When the Squad are pinned down and facing certain death, El Diablo unleashes his power, saving them. Later on, in order to fight a giant monster, he goes even further, transforming into a giant flaming skeleton.
    • In Wonder Woman, Diana had tried everything to minimize the fallout from using her powers in battle except as a last resort; but she decides to cross the threshold in the "No Man's Land" sequence as well as the final battle against her adoptive brother Ares, realizing how dangerous his desire to keep the conflict going and how he must be stopped.
    • Justice League (2017) reveals that an alliance between the Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, the Olympian Gods, and aliens was forged to stop Steppenwolf from taking over the planet millennia ago. When Steppenwolf proves to be more powerful than the League combined, it's also why Batman decided to use the Genesis Chamber and a Mother Box to resurrect Superman.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • Most of the Jaeger battles take place in the water, well away from the city that is currently being targeted by a Kaiju. The 10 miles out line is referred to as the "miracle mile" and mostly they try to intercept the kaiju before it crosses the line. Fighting in the city is usually only a last resort because of the massive collateral damage, but considering the alternative it's unlikely that people will complain.
    • If you pay attention during Mutavore's attack on Sydney and happen to have a map handy, you'll notice that a big chunk of the city would be on the Kaiju side of the wall. The tie-in comics reveal that that's because they had to nuke the heck out of that area to fend off the first Kaiju attack on Sydney. Not all of the civilians were able to evacuate beforehand.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, the military decides to deal with the aliens by evacuating the civilians then bombing the coastal cities being invaded. The aliens thwart this.
  • Defied in Men in Black. The bug impersonating Edgar is getting close to stealing the Arquillian galaxy, so when Agent J sees him, he tries to shoot in broad view of dozens of New Yorkers with his fancy ray gun, earning K's fury.
    Agent J: Hey, we ain't got time for this cover-up bullshit! Maybe you've forgotten, but there's an Arquillian battle cruiser-
    Agent K: There's always an Arquillian battle cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that's about to wipe out life on this miserable little planet. The only way these people get on with their happy lives is they do. Not. Know about it!
    • The real threshold is with the Arquillians, who think a Bug in control of a Galaxy is enough of a threat to destroy the planet both are on, even if most of the inhabitants of said planet have no clue they're about to die.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the main characters' plan is to erase themselves and everyone else from existence, because in the new future they would be different people with different experiences and no memory of the originals. Everybody understands it, yet they go through with it without question anyway.
  • In Evolution, the military plans to destroy the alien lifeforms with "tons and tons of napalm". One of the general's subordinates hints that a nuke may be a better option. It's specifically mentioned that, if the alien lifeforms aren't stopped, they will take over the planet in a matter of months, driving Terrestrial lifeforms to extinction. Of course, as the heroes find out by accident, fire speeds up the Hollywood Evolution process.
  • In Dracula Untold, all the people of Transylvania are about to get annihilated by the Turks. Vlad can only prevent this by turning into a vampire. Vlad becomes nearly unbeatable, but faces the drawbacks of being a vampire. It is still better than your entire population being wiped out.
  • In The Cabin in the Woods, after Marty and Dana find the research facility, they get cornered by the armed security in a control room. The only answer they find is to open the cages and release all the monsters in them, which quickly start slaughtering every person on sight. The entire movie is clear about being built around this trope, almost from the beginning. As an exploration of how horror/slasher tropes make sense, the BIGGER threat is the Cthulhoid apocalypse that the trope invocations are attempting to avert. Even if that means utilizing the placeholder-villains of the genre to do so.
  • In Jurassic World, the I. rex has shrugged off everything that the heroes have thrown at it — tranquilizers, bullets, rockets, Velociraptors, it's all failed. Claire orders Paddock Nine opened, releasing the Tyrannosaurus from the original film.
  • In The Stranger, Mr. Wilson decides to free imprisoned Nazi war criminal Konrad Meinike so that the latter can be tailed by secret agents. Wilson's colleagues in the Allied War Crimes Commission are appalled at the idea of letting a war criminal free; he retorts that it's a necessary evil he must commit so that Meinike can lead them to an even more important target: Franz Kindler, one of the chief architects of The Holocaust.
  • In Deadpool 2, Russell gets angry enough about being trapped in the Icebox Extranormal Prison that he unleashes The Juggernaut, which immediately prompts Cable to join forces with Deadpool in an Enemy Mine team-up.

    Multiple Media 
  • BIONICLE:
    • The Toa's Nova blasts. It's been attempted two times in the known story for such purposes — when Toa Jaller and the Toa Mahri faced all six of the Barraki and their army of sea beasts and tried to stop them from reaching Matoro (who was at the time busy resurrecting the entire fricken' universe); and when Toa Helryx tried to create a flood inside the resurrected but Makuta-possessed Great Spirit's brain, thereby causing the robot and the universe inside it to shut off, effectively killing every being in it — both attempts were hindered, thankfully.
    • When the Bohrok-Kal were about to free their masters the Bahrag and re-unleash the Bohrok swarms upon Mata Nui, Tahu broke out his secret weapon that he was never supposed to use: The Kanohi Vahi, AKA the Mask of Time. Using it buys the Toa a few more critical seconds but also nearly destroys the universe.
    • In the prequel novel "Time Trap", Vakama has the Mask of Time, but is stuck in a fight between the Big Bad and the leader of a league of assassins. What does he do? He threatens to destroy the Mask, and with it all of reality.
    • When Botar teleported the Tahtorak onto the industrious island of Xia out of fun, it started wrecking the place, so they released the similarly giant Kanohi Dragon to fight it, which in turn lead to even more destruction.

    Religion 
  • In Judaism, the principle of pikuach nefesh states that almost any religious consideration or law may be broken in order to save a specific human life from an immediate danger. For example, although it is forbidden to do work on the shabbat, including driving a car, you can use a car to drive someone to the hospital if they need immediate treatment. Similarly, if a pregnant woman has a craving for a non-kosher food, she is allowed to eat it, as it is assumed that not eating it will have negative consequences for the fetus. There are only a very small number of laws that cannot be broken, including killing another human being, and even that is permitted in cases of self-defense (or the defense of others).

    Sports 
  • In ice hockey, a team that is down a goal or two near the end of the game or so may elect to pull their goalie to put another attacker on the ice. It gives the possibility of tying the game, at the risk of the leading team having a much easier chance of scoring again. On average, the leading team scores an empty net goal about 1/3 of the time while the trailing team scores a goal about 1/9 of the time — in the long run this strategy is detrimental to the team that pulled its goalie. However, in most cases, what matters is that you've lost the game and not what the margin of defeat was. In addition, recent developments in professional-level play have indicated that it may actually be more beneficial to pull the goalie earlier than was considered normal. In an example of this turned Up to Eleven, in a 2015 NCAA playoff game, the Miami RedHawks played 12 minutes and 48 seconds with an empty net down 4 goals. The RedHawks managed not to give up a single goal with the empty net and managed 3 goals, losing 6-5.
    • The Montreal Canadiens crossed this threshold while down 5-2 in Chicago with over nine minutes remaining in the final game of the 1969-70 NHL season, because the New York Rangers had scored 9 goals against a tired Detroit Red Wings team earlier in the day, and Montreal needed three more goals to claim the tiebreaker for the final playoff spot.note  It didn't work, as the Black Hawks scored five empty-net goals and didn't allow another tally, downing the Canadiens 10-2 and ending their 21-year playoff streak.
  • In Association Football (soccer), a team that's a goal down in the dying minutes of a game may choose to send their goalkeeper up front for a set play, such as a corner kick. The downside to this is that if the other team manages to gain possession of the ball, the goalkeeper probably won't be able to sprint back to his own goal in time to prevent the opposition from scoring easily. Therefore, this tactic is only used in times of urgent desperation. In the indoor version futsal, the alternative is a combination of this and hockey: the goalkeeper is removed, and a line player that can play goal becomes a "line keeper", guarding the net but more focused on attack.
  • In American football, the Hail Mary (having every receiver run to the endzone and throwing the ball up for grabs with a long forward pass) is an incredibly risky play that's just as likely to give the opposing team the ball as it is to succeed. As a result, it is rarely called. However, on occasion, when a team is losing with little to no time left on the clock, it becomes their only real chance of winning the game — and sometimes it works.
    • If passing isn't an option, the offense can try to continuously lateral the ball to keep the play alive. This is often referred to as the "Stanford band play" after a 1982 football game in which California University completed five laterals on a kickoff return to win the game, but the Stanford marching band had run onto the field believing that the game had ended. Due to the insane risk of this play (as failed attempts often end with the defense recovering the ball), this is reserved for the absolute last moment of the game. On the rare occasion it works, it can be magnificent: a Division III college football game ended with one team making 15 laterals on the final play to win the game.
      • Slightly averted in a 2003 NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars. Down 7 with a few seconds remaining, the Saints completed a lateral play to score a touchdown as time expired. The Saints just needed an extra point to tie the game and send it to overtime (which, prior to 2015, was extremely easy and had about a 99.5% success rate), but kicker John Carney missed and the Jaguars won the game by a single point.
      • Ironically, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell expected a lateral play from the Green Bay Packers on the final, untimed play (due to a Lions facemask penalty that some deem controversial) of a Thursday night game in 2015. Unfortunately for him, pretty much the rest of the world expected a Hail Mary, which is exactly what Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers delivered to tight end Richard Rodgers (no relation). The pass set the record for longest Hail Mary and longest air travel for a touchdown pass in NFL history, and for the Packers coming back from a 20-0 third-quarter deficit to win 27-23, the game was dubbed the Miracle in Motown.
  • In Basketball, fouling an opponent in the act of shooting (or in certain other situations) gives the opponent free throws, which are generally much more efficient than regular offense (most players make around 75% of free throws, meaning two free throws will yield 1.5 points on average, while regular offense yields about one point per possession). However, doing this also stops the clock and (most likely) gives the ball back to the other team. In late game situations, the team that is behind will intentionally foul the opponent and hope that they will miss their free throws in order to stop the clock and get the ball back. This rarely works, but it's the last option for a team that is losing to try and prolong the game to tie or even win.
    • A similar strategy is the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy, wherein a team continually fouls a player who's really bad at making free throws (the strategy is named after Shaquille O'Neal, who was infamously bad at free throws) in the hopes that their opponents score less from the stripe than in regular play. There have been calls to change the rule that allows this strategy, however.
  • In Handball the goalie can be pulled just like he can be in Ice Hockey. However, due to a 2010s change of the rules, he can also be replaced in a "flying exchange", making teams much more likely to pull the goalie outside of "down a lot, seconds left on the clock" type situations. It even happens that both teams pull the goalie.
  • This is what the "Death Penalty" is in the NCAA, especially toward Football, in the Southern Methodist University football scandal. SMU was one of the top football schools in the NCAA, but rampant violations of NCAA rules (most especially a "Slush Fund" used to pay players to come to SMU), resulted in the school being banned from competition for a year. Most players immediately left for other schools, and SMU's program was left in ruins, only having one winning season for the next 20 years, and still hasn't truly recovered to this day. NCAA officials compared the Death Penalty to dropping a nuclear bomb, that the consequences of doing so were so catastrophic, that they have done everything they can to not do it again, even when a school committed a comparatively serious offense (such as the Penn State scandal, though smaller schools/programs have suffered the penalty).

    Web Comics 
  • Tower of God: None of the others taking the tests on the 20th floor with Jyu Viole Grace wanted to deal with him. To them, he was a villain, the most dangerous enemy. But when Lurker brutally murders Wangnan's friend Nia, Wangnan goes and practically begs Viole on his hands and knees to stop Lurker.
  • In Bob and George during the fifth Mega Man game the Bass and Mega Man alternates deem Bob to be such a great threat to The Multiverse that they decide to sacrifice the Earth (of one dimension) in order to stop him. And it doesn't work.
  • Homestuck:
    • By Act 5, all the kids' plans to deal with how screwed up their Sburb session are potentially suicidal. By the end of the Act, the plan they go with is all of them.
    • Much later, some characters feel that sending dozens, perhaps hundreds of other ghosts to certain doom is an acceptable price to pay for access to a means to kill the universe destroying Lord English.
  • Floyd had this exchange when our heroes were scheduled to stew for giants:
    Carmen: Now... Floyd, it's time for you to learn a spell that may get you out of this mess.
    Floyd: Um, Carmen? You said that me casting spells was a bad idea!
    Carmen: It is, but you two being eaten is marginally worse.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the Gates are all that hold back the Snarl supposedly. If all of them are destroyed, the Snarl would be unleashed. It's still better than letting someone evil gain control of one, since it would theoretically give them the power to threaten and blackmail the gods themselves.
    • The repeated destruction of the Gates to prevent Evil from controlling them ends up giving rise to a new threshold. The gods are having a serious discussion on whether or not destroying and remaking the entire universe with one Gate still intact would be a better alternative than waiting for the final gate to be destroyed and risk not being able to reset the world before the Snarl permanently kills a significant portion of the world's inhabitants or even the gods themselves. By destroying the universe themselves, they can at least preserve the souls of its inhabitants and place them in the new world.
  • Schlock Mercenary in book 7 gave Petey the ability to overwhelm Teleport Interdiction with brute force, and then in book 11 established him being at war with the Pa'anuri, thus preventing him from using that power to intervene in the minor problems of Tagon's Toughs lest entire worlds die for lack of his intervention. In book 18, faced with an unknown enemy using long guns on random targets and an ally armed with long guns going mad with grief and starting to use them as well - a crisis that threatens to destroy galactic civilization through paranoia of the new superweapon - he's started using rip-through teraports again.
  • Played for dark humor in Super Stupor: the superhero Mind's Eye has a little-known power that will force anyone to tell the truth, despite moral alignment or brainwashing...as long as his penis is currently inside of them. And he notes that, yes, using this against an unwilling supervillain constitutes rape (though you'd be unpleasantly surprised by who will consent), which is why he'll never use it except in the most extreme emergencies. (Naturally, he is eventually forced to in one of the physical comics. And with a zombie, too.)
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: In "The End: Part 1", when King Radical is minutes away from accomplishing his goal of wiping out most of the Earth's population in order to save the Radical Lands from destruction, Dr. McNinja crosses two thresholds in quick succession. First, he summons Sparklelord, a powerful unicorn who's so twisted and evil that McNinja previously decided to trap him in a time vortex rather than teaming up with him against Radical. Then, in order to secure Sparklelord's help, he tells him his first name (which he's kept secret for decades), releasing an evil ghost wizard who proceeds to lay a curse on him. This does work, but at the cost of making Dr. McNinja Public Enemy #1 and convincing some of his greatest enemies to unite against him.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, the alien Nemesites' Godzilla Threshhold is any threat big enough to warrant creating a "Butterfly of Iron," a sort of artificial Energy Being that they can just barely control, with the power to destroy entire star systems. Galatea goes ahead and creates one as soon as she hears about it, thinking it will jumpstart The Singularity. It doesn't.

    Web Original 
  • What the SCP Foundation are prepared to do to contain some items. Then again, an awful lot of the things they deal with really are that dangerous. Most foundation sites must have a several megaton strong nuke armed at all times for exactly this kind of situation. Meanwhile, their opposite-number the Global Occult Coalition has Emergency Procedure "Pizzicato" for massive emergence of Threat Entities (and also covers the Foundation itself massively losing control of its own contained objects, and the literal end of the world). Force authorisation states that "All restrictions re: NBC weaponry, Memetic Cascade Sequences, and Nanotech Grey Goo items withdrawn" and "Acceptable Collateral Damage: 90% of worldwide human population".
    • "SCP" semi-officially, by way of motto, stands for "Secure, Contain, Protect". The former two words refer to securing and containing anomalous entities, and "protect" refers to protecting the general populace. Since securing and containing SCP-682, a powerful and hard-to-destroy reptile hellbent on destroying everything and everyone it sees, has proven to be a total crapshoot, the Foundation wants to destroy it instead of keeping it in containtment, as its existence is a mortal threat to anyone it sees.
    • One of their plans involves the release of all prisoners regardless of why they were imprisoned in the first place (so the worst of the worst: serial killers, sociopaths, etc.), the idea being that it's better to have what remains of mankind be Always Chaotic Evil than having no mankind at all.
  • In Touch, we are presented with a monster so far left nameless, which was so powerful that it convinced every global government to work together with one another in order to try and kill it. they still fail.
  • This is how Kickassia regards convincing Spoony to become Dr. Insano.
  • The Director of Red vs. Blue creates Godzillas just so he can be ready for this:
    Director: When faced with extinction, every alternative is preferable!
  • Every plan to deal with Tennyo in the Whateley Universe. One we saw in a holographic simulation destroyed the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and plunged the planet into nuclear winter, which was still considered a reasonable alternative to an uncontrolled Star Stalker possibly destroying the planet. Tennyo's best friends have Plans A-Z, and Tennyo approves.
  • The Yogscast encountered one (by the standards of a group of Let's Players that play games like Minecraft most of the time) when Duncan Jones forgot to prepare for a trip back from the moon to the Overworld. Lewis Brindley rushes to Duncan's office in real life to help him, since they didn't want to have someone trapped on the moon all over again.

    Western Animation 
  • Young Justice:
    • With most of the team imprisoned by the powerful Black Beetle, Roy Harper releases the Galactic Conqueror Mongul from his cell first, allowing Roy to free the rest of the team while Mongul and Black Beetle fight.
    • Anyone who puts on the helmet of Dr. Fate gains incredible magic power, but runs the risk of having their body stolen permanently by the Lord of Order, Nabu, who is tired of being stuck helplessly in the helmet while the forces of chaos have their way with the world. Wearing the helmet is considered an absolute last resort, but even so it's worn by three different members of the team, each time because it was clearly the only viable option.
  • The DuckTales episode "The Uncrashable Hindentanic" revolves around Uncle Scrooge and his new airship. His sidekick and perennial crasher of aircraft Launchpad desperately wants to fly it but is told that Scrooge actually wants to keep the airship in one piece. When the events of the episode conspire against this Scrooge eventually relents and tells Launchpad to take the wheel. They crash, but Launchpad accidentally takes out the opposition while saving the passengers.
    "If we are going to crash anyway, we may as well crash with style."
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "The Ultimate Enemy" Clockwork actually alters time—consider that he is in charge of maintaining the proper flow of time—to stop Dark Danny from coming into existence.
  • Ben 10:
    • In the last few minutes of the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Forge of Creation", Aggregor defeats the heroes and is moments away from acquiring Reality Warper abilities that will grant him eternal power over the universe. Kevin then absorbs energy from the Ultimatrix to go One-Winged Angel to stop him, knowing that this will make him evil again. Thankfully, Ben's younger self is able to guilt-trip Kevin out of trying to steal the Reality Warper powers for himself.
    • In the Ben 10: Omniverse episode "Mystery, Incorporeal", the odd battles around campus repeatedly cause Ben's Omnitrix to glitch and only offer Ghostfreak - the form whose DNA sample comes from an evil mastermind named Zs'Skayr who can regenerate From a Single Cell, including the Omnitrix's sample of him. If Ben uses Ghostfreak, it may control him and not the other way around. When Darkstar's plans to gain ultimate power begin to come to fruition, Ben gives in and actually uses him. He has no problems since Zs'Skayr has already regenerated elsewhere.
  • Generator Rex:
    • "The Swarm" deconstructs this trope. A colony of Nigh Invulnerable, metal-eating EVO locusts were headed towards major Chinese cities while making short work of anything Providence threw at them. White Knight decided to Nuke 'em despite Doctor Holiday's warnings. She turned out right when not only the nuke failed to kill the insects, but it increased their numbers & made the new colony more resilient than before. Doubles as Genocide Backfire.
    • The Nanite Event itself, the cause of all EVO-related problems, was this. Caesar thought it was either that or humanity becoming slaves to corrupt, power-hungry gods.
  • Megas XLR:
    • Earth is being invaded by the almost unkillable metal-devouring robot R.E.G.I.S. Mk 5, which had been scheduled to be thrown into a black hole until Coop accidentally rammed the ship transporting it. Coop discovered that the R.E.G.I.S. Mk 5 was solar powered and would forever stay active so long as there was light to power it. Coop's solution was to block out all sunlight so it couldn't operate. He does this by creating a nuclear winter scenario by belching enough smog out of his engine to block out the whole damn sky.
    • In the second S-Force episode, Targon believes that enlisting Coop's help qualifies as the trope.
  • In Hot Wheels Battle Force 5, Sage was forced to freeze the entire Red Sentient race to stop her Evil Twin brother Krytus from leading them on a multiversal conquest. When Krytus and her have their final confrontation, she tells him she did it because he was a threat to not only her entire race but the multiverse and she had to. Krytus' response? "You were right!" It says a lot when the guy she used it on is well aware that she was justifed for doing so and doesn't care.
  • In the Grand Finale of Jackie Chan Adventures, Drago has devastated San Francisco and is preparing to release the demon world unto Earth. To stop him, the heroes have to free his father Shendu from his imprisonment to fight him. Fortunately for them, Shendu is more angry at his son for trying to take over "his" world than at the heroes for his previous defeats at their hands, and he keeps Drago busy long enough for them to figure out how to banish both of them.
  • In Beast Wars Megatron tries to destroy Optimus Prime. He muses that he was hesitant to make such a drastic change to the timeline but realizes that he now had no choice but to make the ultimate gamble.
  • The "TransWarped" episode of Transformers Animated sees the Autobots' human friend upgrade herself into a more powerful form, but the upgrade goes wrong, nearly destroying her best friend and the city. Her powers are eventually bypassed, but when Megatron shows up in control of the Autobots' tide-turning, war-winning weapon, Optimus Prime is forced to consider the option of removing the bypass and unleashing the girl, in an uncontrollable state.
  • In the second season of ReBoot, a web creature evades capture and deletion to open a massive invasion portal from the web. This jolts the entire Mainframe system into survival at all costs protocols, Phong uniting with both Megabyte and Hexadecimal to build a portal closing supercannon and building a massive common army to hold the invaders at bay long enough to use it.
  • South Park, "It's a Jersey Thing": When over half of America is taken over by New Jersey, the nation eventually turns to Al Qaeda for help.
  • Johnny Test: In the episode "JX5: The Final Ending" Johnny, while in an Enemy Mine situation with five of his archenemies who have gained his powers, suggest that they form one huge Power Poot to destroy Dark Vegan's flagship after he rips out the self-destruct button. It works, destroying the entire fleet.
  • In the final episode of W.I.T.C.H., the Guardians are forced to use the Zenith forms, basically becoming their trademark elements, to battle a massively powered up Cedric. It nearly goes sour as the girls lose themselves in this form.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode "Revenge of Murray the Mantis", a giant supernatural praying mantis goes on a rampage through New York, and to stop it the boys release The Big Guy. Who is "the big guy"? Everyone's favorite 100-ft. Marshmallow man, Mr. Stay-Puft himself! Don't worry, "he's all better now", and the fight between him and the mantis is one of the series highlights.
  • In season 1 of Wakfu, Sadlygrove has to be careful not to let the Shushu Rubilax imprisoned inside his sword from possessing him. Otherwise, he becomes a hulking gray monster that attacks everyone around him. After some further training with his master in the desert and defeating Rubilax in a duel, Sadlygrove can only be possessed if he lets Rubilax possess him. In episode 25, Nox unleashes his most powerful creation, a clockwork monster called Razortime. Razortime proves to be so dangerous that Sadlygrove willingly lets Rubilax possess him when the Shushu practically begs Sadlygrove to let him help. Unfortunately, Razortime is too much even for Sadlygrove's demon form.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 1", since Lord Tirek has the power to drain ponies of their magic (and in effect take away their cutie marks), local Mad God Discord is tasked with catching him. Discord's ability to sense magical disruptions makes him the only one capable of finding Tirek before his power grows too great, in addition to being so powerful that Tirek does not yet have the strength to drain him as he does ponies.
    • Releasing Discord in the first place to try and "reform" him could be seen as one of these; although Princess Celestia did not know of any immediate threats to Equestria, the possibility of one so great that they would need Discord's help was her reasoning for freeing such a dangerous being. Basically they released "Godzilla" early so they'd have time to convince him to help them before the threshold-level threat actually showed up.
    • From the same arc, the other princesses giving Twilight all of their powers so that Tirek couldn't steal it could be this as well.
  • On two occasions in the 90s Fantastic Four cartoon, once when Doctor Doom manages to steal the powers of the Silver Surfer and again when Earth was menaced by Ego the Living Planet, the Four are forced to lure out the Planet Eater Galactus to set things right.
  • In an episode of Justice League, Superman makes an alliance with Lex Luthor to defeat the Justice lords.
  • In the final episode of Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz informs Vanessa and Perry that his machine has a fifty percent chance of tearing the entire universe apart, but if they didn't try using it that was going to happen anyway.
  • Deploying the universe portal from Gravity Falls risks tearing the universe apart, but Grunkle Stan risks it anyway so he can be reunited with his long-lost brother.
  • In the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "The Edge of Yesterday", it is revealed Dr. Benton Quest developed a method of time travel in hopes of going back in time and stopping the death of his wife Rachel. Before he could go through with it, he decided changing history was too dangerous and using it for his own gain unethical, so he sealed the unused program to await a more justifiable use. When Ezekiel Rage sets a huge nuclear bomb to go off deep in the Earth's crust, likely to wipe out humanity and the world, Benton realizes that time had come so sends Jonny, Jessie, and Hadji a message to unlock the program so that they can go back and stop Rage before he plants the bomb. They are unable to stop the bomb going off, but they use the system to send Rage and the bomb back to the age of dinosaurs before it does. That far back, and on the surface, the explosion doesn't have enough of an effect on history to alter the present.
  • Discussed in Xiaolin Showdown. The Sapphire Dragon is the most dangerous of all Shen Gong Wu because it cannot be controlled; after use, it will transform the user's enemies into a sapphire statue... and then turn the user's friends into statues, and then the user, and will keep going until it has done the same to everyone on Earth. Dojo says that it "is only to be used as an absolute last resort."


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