The Monster of the Week is wreaking havoc. The heroes step in and blast it with all they have, but what's this? The creature isn't hurt at all! In fact, it looks STRONGER! How could this be?
Now imbued with more power than ever, it casually swats our heroes aside and departs to cause more chaos and destruction and such. The heroes need a plan.
After confirming that it did, in fact, get stronger from being attacked, the leader's eyes light up. He has a plan. "You're going to cut off its power supply, right?"
"Nope. I'm going to give it MORE energy!"
The idea is often met with challenges and claims that the leader has lost his mind, but inevitably the team works together, dumps a ridiculous amount of juice into the monster at once, and BOOM! The day is saved. And covered in monster guts.
Whenever a case of Feed It with Fire occurs, this trope is usually not far behind. It is simply an intellectual way to overcome a foe when battering doesn't do the job, possibly to show off the heroes' intellect. The absorber may not explode, but there's often some factor that gives its increased power a serious disadvantage, such as a weak floor at its feet.
See also Tim Taylor Technology when this is applied to machines and My Skull Runneth Over when the target is overloaded mentally rather than physically. Compare Overclocking Attack, Phlebotinum Overdose, Deadly Upgrade and Explosive Overclocking. For when one perishes from eating too much actual food, see Death by Gluttony. For giving someone more energy in order to help them, see Energy Donation.
- In one Daimos episode shows ups a Robeast capable to disintegrate matter -such like tanks, missiles and jet fighters-, turn it into energy and absorbing it. Kazuya was at a loss on how defeating it, until he decided testing how much matter it could absorb by feeding it with a forty-five-meters-tall Humongous Mecha.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Yakon, one of Babidi's minions, can feed off light, and thus absorbs the aura of the Super Saiyans as soon as it is created. Goku's plan to defeat Yakon? Beef up his aura until the monster absorbs too much and finally explodes.
- Also happens in "Return of Cooler"; when Meta Cooler has Goku and Vegeta in captivity, he remarks on how much power he's taken and how he's reached his capacity, beginning to disconnect the wires. Goku and Vegeta grab them before they get away and power up, blowing up both Cooler and the Big Gete Star.
- The trope makes a return in Dragon Ball Super with Bergamo the Crusher, the strongest fighter from Universe 9. He can absorb damage from an opponent and, whilst it does indeed hurt him, he then grows in size and strength proportional to the damage he has taken. Goku uses this opportunity to see how strong he can make his opponent, gradually powering up through his forms in order to feed Bergamo more energy rather than ending the fight quickly. We've yet to see if Bergamo's strength increase has any huge downsides (although it does seem to be dependent on him being able to physically tank the attack; he still takes pain and damage).
- YuYu Hakusho:
- In his fight with Byakko, Kuwabara follows this trope to the letter. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work. And, demonstrating a flaw of this trope, Kuwabara is left weakened for some time afterwards.
- Played with in one of the movies. Kuwabara uses this to defeat not a power absorber, but a power copier. He uses all of his spirit energy on one attack, which his opponent copies exactly. With both now out of energy, Kuwabara then uses his far superior physical strength to oneshot his foe.
- Getter Robo:
- In Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo, the Mechasaurus piloted by Advisor Gallery has energy absorption abilities strong enough to soak even the Getter Beam; the heroes end up using the explosions of Shin Getter-3's Missile Storm to overload it.
- Ryoma Nagare is fond of this strategy, too, and has used it once or twice.
- Taken to ridiculous levels in Rebuild of Evangelion; to take down Ramiel, NERV decides to reroute all the power in Japan to power the experimental cannon used to shoot it.
- In Fairy Tail, Natsu does this to both the artificial dragon and the Earthland Sugar Boy to destroy them from the inside.
- On Pokémon, Team Rocket's plans to capture Pikachu often involve gadgets designed to absorb electricity. On occasion, these are foiled by blasting them with more electricity than they can absorb (especially if there are more Electric-type Pokémon around to help).
- Done by Lex Luthor at the beginning of All-Star Superman. Superman is usually healed and powered by sunlight, but after Luthor arranges for Supes to get closer to the sun than ever before, he takes a lethal dose that temporarily magnifies his abilities but results in his days being numbered. Ultimately, Superman's cells convert to pure energy, and he spends centuries inside Earth's Sun, fixing the damage caused by Solaris.
- Likewise, in the Justice League "Tower of Babel" storyline, Batman's contingency plan for dealing with Superman (should he go rogue) is to use a piece of synthetic Red Kryptonite that will turn his skin transparent, causing him to take in so much solar energy that he would be incapacitated.
- In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Xviar scrambles Superman's energy-processing abilities so his body absorbs more energy than it can safely store and release until finally triggering a superpower meltdown.
- In an issue of Fantastic Four, set before they became superheroes, Earth is invaded by an alien that grows when it feeds on energy. Reed, however, notices that only the monster's volume increases, not the mass, and proceeds to zap it with so much energy that in the end it becomes too rarefied to interact with normal matter.
- In the Squadron Supreme mini-series, Doctor Spectrum does this to Lamprey.
- Galactus is defeated this way at the end of his Heroes Reborn saga. But wait a minute: Galactus consumes the energy of planets. And just a small team of super heroes generate even more energy than that, so much more as to overload Galactus?
- The quote at the top of the page comes from The Flash (well, technically from the Rogues' Gallery issue of Secret Origins) comes when one of Pied Piper's many musical weapons has gone haywire and Trickster is helping him get it under control.
- In the Thunderbolts storyline of Secret Invasion, Radioactive Man decides to try this on the Skrull Captain Marvel. Unfortunately, the impostor is an excellent copy of the real Mar-Vell... whose powers were way beyond anything Radioactive Man is capable of. Chen gets fried for his trouble.
- Lyra, the Savage She-Hulk from Earth-8009, is vulnerable to this trick: she's a living conduit for gamma radiation, but too much of it overwhelms her, sapping her strength. Moonstone (in her Dark Avengers guise of Ms. Marvel) figures this out in record time.
- Starfire (2015):
- Starfire defeats the Chida monster who can absorb her Starbolts and get bigger by throwing him into the ocean and giving him so much energy that he sinks into the bottom of the ocean.
- Starfire faces even more Chida monsters at the Strata, but due to her being overloaded with solar energy from their power source, she manages to overload them with her powers, which kills all of them.
- When Wonder Woman faced a clone of Doomsday that was still linked to the computer system that created it, her allies helped her defeat the clone by supercharging the power being sent to Doomsday from the system, which caused the clone's bone shards to spread over its body to the point where it was essentially immobilized by the interlocking bones, allowing Wonder Woman to shatter it.
- In the X-Men Civil War storyline: While Mind Controlled, Cyclops hits Bishop with more energy than he can actually absorb. Bishop is able to vent it in time, with enough interest to blow the limb off a Sentinel. They later (when Cyclops is no longer mind controlled) use the combination intentionally to break down a bunker door before it explodes.
- In Kung Fu Panda 3, Po finishes off Kai by giving him his chi like he wanted. However, it's too much power for Kai to handle and is obliterated.
- Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker has Breath as the source of power. More Breath means more power. Vasher invokes this trope when he's fighting someone who's clearly a better fighter than him. While giving his opponent some of his Breath isn't lethal to either of them, it does incapacitate the opponent long enough for Vasher to finish the job.
- In both Mahou Sentai Magiranger and Power Rangers Mystic Force, this is how magical eater N Ma/Octomus is finished off once and for all.
Octomus: "I...have...devoured...all..I CAN!" (Cue explosion)
- A variation is used to take down the Asurans in Stargate Atlantis. Instead of trying to separate the individual blocks, McKay has the bright idea to dial up their attraction to each other, drawing them into a dense mass that would then implode. At first everyone thinks he's crazy, but it does work.
- In an episode of Tensou Sentai Goseiger, they fight a monster who absorbs electricity to use as a weapon. Moune, through the power of dance, is able to generate enough electricity to overload him.
- Doctor Who uses this trope as well.
- In the First Doctor's final story, The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen planet Mondas is destroyed when it drains too much energy from Earth - somehow. The Doctor's strategy is to allow this to happen, or prevent the aversion of Mondas's fate.
- In the episode "Tooth and Claw," a werewolf chasing the Doctor, Rose, and Queen Victoria is killed by overloading it with the "Moon Energy" that gives the beast its power. The Doctor compares it to drowning in water, which in smaller quantities is necessary for life.
- In "The Rings of Akhaten", a gas giant-sized Old God awakens to eat the souls/stories of anyone in the system. If there aren't enough, it will move on to others. The Doctor offers the Old God his 1000-years' worth of stories, trying to invoke this trope. However, while it initially seems to be the case, the Old God manages to eat it all (the Doctor survives, though) and is still hungry for more. So the Doctor's new companion Clara offers the Old God a dried leaf from her book, the same leaf that resulted in her parents first meeting and, in their words, is "the most important leaf in the Universe". Given the fact that it's still unclear what exactly Clara is and her explanation that the leaf contains more than just memories of things that happened but also memories of things that could have happened, this does prove too much for the Old God.
- In the series 1 finale of Torchwood, the mere shadow of the Godzilla-scaled Abaddon instantly drains the life from anyone unlucky enough to be touched by it. The solution? Jack Harkness, the man who keeps resurrecting due to an "overabundance of life energy", forces Abaddon to gorge until it falls over dead.
- Doctor Who uses this trope as well.
- This trope was very likely inspired by the Wawel Dragon in Krakow, Poland. The residents of Krakow were quite annoyed that a dragon was eating their sheep and asked the prince to save them. Instead of directly preventing it from eating sheep, he fed it more but covered them in a very spicy sauce. The dragon was so thirsty, it drank an entire lake and exploded.
- Older Than Dirt: In Egyptian Mythology, the bloodthirsty, lion-headed warrior goddess Sekhmet (or the goddess Hathor, Depending on the Writer) was let loose upon a sinful or rebellious population. She got out of control and the sun god Re, taking pity on the humans, showed them the way to stop her: he exploited her insatiable thirst for blood by flooding a nearby field with blood-red beer. When the crazed goddess passed by on her way to eat more people, she pounced on the lake of "blood" and drank it all. This resulted in the most severe hangover ever — Sekhmet passed out and forgot all about genociding humanity.
- Dungeons & Dragons: In the first version of the Manual of the Planes, any living creature wandering into the Positive Material Plane heals 1d20 Hit Points per round. This can even raise the amount above the normal maximum... but if said creature reaches twice its HP total, it immediately bursts into energy and is destroyed.
- This feature was a constant up until 4th Edition's planar rejig, although the amount of HP healed has varied over the versions.
- In BIONICLE, the Bohrak-Kal had stolen the Nuva Symbols (connected to the Toa Nuva's powers) and were about to use them to free their leaders, the Bahrag. Short on options, the Toa gambled on their connections to the Symbols and fed them their strength, charging the Kal's powers until they spiraled out of control (the lightning-wielding one electrocuted itself, one's magnetism powers got it crushed by mechanical scrap, the one with gravity powers sucked itself into a black hole, the plasma-wielding one started melting even as it melted through the floor presumably to the planet's core, one's vacuum powers got it fired through a mountain and into outer space, and the one with sonic powers bombarded itself with sonic frequencies until it hit the one that made it completely disassemble itself).
- Similar to the Fantastic Four example in the "comics" section, the Toa Metru discover a rahi which absorbs elemental blasts and grows larger. However, one of the Toa notices that its footprints do not change size, and therefore it must not be growing any heavier—thus, the Toa defeat it by blasting it until it becomes too vaporous to harm them.
- According to the Apocalyptic Log, this is why the Luminoth first designed the Dark Beam in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Subverted: It did not work. The Luminoth then designed the Light Beam which was much more effective on their enemies the Ing.
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption gives Samus the Grapple Voltage unit, which allows her to dump energy from her suit into an enemy in order to kill them. Of course, it can function as Life Drain as well. This unit only allows you to expel energy in Hypermode, however. Using this on the Phaz-Ing is highly recommended.
- This is how Wesker is ultimately defeated at the end of Resident Evil 5. Overdosing them with their own drug is what causes their superhuman abilities to go haywire.
- A potential way to destroy the "Archimedes II" satellite weapon in Fallout: New Vegas. The player is given the option to redirect extra power to the grid that will cause an overload in the weapon and render it useless.
- In the ArcAttack event of AdventureQuest Worlds' Doomwood saga, The Hero gets the idea of trying to overload Vordred, the so-far-unstoppable undead badass that has run roughshod through everyone so far, using the experiment that Vordred has forced ArcAttack to conduct to make him more powerful. It doesn't work.
- In RPG Shooter: Starwish, Deuce proposes to defeat Iblis, an entity whose purpose is to make wishes come true that has gone haywire, by overloading it with desire. Neferiti quickly dismisses the idea, pointing out that Iblis answers to all the wishes in the universe, and Deuce's crew wouldn't even make a noticeable difference.
- There is an enemy in Soul Hackers that absorbs all magical attacks and receives negligible damage from physical assaults. Solution? Overfeed him 'til he explodes. That being said, trying this in other games of the franchise, or other enemies in the same game, even, is only going to result in the enemy getting free heals as he goes back to snacking on your guts.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the Oho Gees turn from docile to hostile if they're set on fire if they're red or given an electric shock if they're blue. In battle, hitting them with their respective element again will heal them and cause them to swell (while the other does critical damage). If they are healed too much, they rocket away, ending the battle just as lowering their HP to zero would.
Oho Jee: Ah! I am m-me! This is the first time.❤
- The Order of the Stick:
- When the party comes across a hydra on the way to the oracle, Belkar starts happily chopping heads off left and right. Varsuvius wants to just blast it with magic, but Roy says to wait, without explaining why. Just as V is about to let loose anyway, the hydra collapses due to it's heart no longer being able to pump enough blood to all of its heads.
- A unique variation occurs later on. The vampire spirit that inhabits Durkon mentions that the process of a vampire spirit absorbing its host's memories usually takes a few months, but is okay with Durkon deciding to speed it up by giving more memories than it asks. As it turns out, vampire spirits need that time to develop in order to understand the memories, which Durkon found out when the vampire spirit was unable to comprehend two similar memories. As such, when Durkon showed it the memory of how his mother sacrificed a fortune, a chance to regain her lost arm, and an opportunity to bring Durkon's father back to save five strangers that would become her best friends, the vampire was unable to deal with the feelings it presented, allowing Durkon to bombard it with all the rest of his memories, and as such, is able to override the evil spirit with his own consciousness.
- In Girl Genius a nutcase drank a last-resort combat stimulant to be nearly unstoppable. The Smoke Knight from whom it was stolen stuck into her a dart... not with a poison, with more of the same, figuring that that an overdose of already near-lethal stuff would kill her more reliably than anything else. As it turned out, the trick didn't work, but the trope was attempted.
- Silver Fox from AkumaTH is an energy-absorbing Canon Immigrant who was defeated this way in the fan fic he came from. Subrosian is aware of this, and attempts the same tactic during Last Chance. The energy overload causes Silver Fox to lock down... at which point his systems automatically fire of all of his stored energy in Subrosian's direction. Cue Silver Fox gloating about how he won't fall for that again.
- In Max Steel (2013), Max used this to defeat Miles Dread in the three part opening. Since Miles feeds off the TURBO energy Max generates, Max has Steel remove the limiters keeping him from going critical, causing a massive blast! Of course, Dread survives (though he was blasted into ORBIT.
- In an episode of The New Adventures of Superman involving Parasite (appearing without his usual costume), Superman is facing an ordinary man called I. C. Harris with the extraordinary power to slowly steal powers the longer he holds people. Superman grabs Parasite, forcing him to take as much as of Superman's power as he possibly can, leading to the man freaking out, and exploding! Superman then explains he knew doing so would lead to Harris's death as no human body can hold the power of a Kryptonian. Many feel that deliberately arranging for a petty criminal's death was out of character for Superman who tends to avoid killing.
- Appeared in ReBoot, where Bob used the power of a tear to attract Gigabyte. Technically, the second half of the trope was averted, because it was a bait and switch, not the power itself causing the downfall.
- The Halloween Special Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, where the cast of Monsters vs. Aliens battles living jack o'lanterns that feed on candy. When the pumpkins join together to form a giant monster, they bombard it with candy until it explodes.
- Futurama: The Planet Express crew tries this against the Star Trek-loving Energy Being Melllvar. It doesn't work...
Leela: Hmm... If we can re-route engine power through the primary weapons and configure them to Melllvar's frequency, that should overload his electro-quantum structure....Leela: It's not working! He's gaining strength from our weapons!
- In the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode, "The Prison Plot" Magneto increases his power through generators. Spider-Man and Iceman use this to their advantage.
Magneto: Fools! You're not decreasing my magnetic attraction. You're increasing it!
Spider-Man: Correct! Give that man a prize!
Magneto: You blunderheads! You've made me all powerful!
Spider-Man: Would you believe too powerful?
- In the opening for a Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode, Blue Beetle is able to convince Stargirl to do this towards Mantis, earning her respect in the process. Not that she'd admit it.
- In the Atomic Betty episode "Power Arrangers", the electricity-based villainess, Nuclea, is defeated this way.
- In one episode of The Incredible Hulk (1996), the Leader has attached Hulk to a machine that will transfer Hulk's strength to him. It works, even as Hulk gets angrier and thus stronger, until Hulk gets even angrier.
- In The Real Ghostbusters episode "A Ghost Grows in Brooklyn," Egon killed a geranium that was possessed by a ghost and growing out of control, by overwatering it.
- In Extreme Ghostbusters, Slimer defeats a ghost that turns people into Big Eaters so it can feed on them by force-feeding it everything he had eaten.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! episode "Alone Against AIM" has Tony Stark pursued by Technovore, which hungers for the energy of the arc reactor in his chest. Eventually, Tony destroys Technovore by feeding it energy from the largest reactor in Stark Industries.
- In one episode of The Godzilla Power Hour, the Monster of the Week is a turtle-like beast with magnetic powers. By traveling to the North Pole, it feeds on the pole's magnetic field and grows in size and power to the point that even Godzilla himself looks like a tiny ant compared to the monster. The crew decides to overload the monster with magnetic energy, so they have Godzilla lure the creature to the spot where the pole's magnetic energy field is greatest. The monster grows so massive that its head and limbs start to get swallowed by its massive body before it promptly explodes.
- In one episode of Centurions, the crew encounters an alien that absorbs electrical energy to power itself up. It is even capable of taking control of electrical devices to a limited degree. This of course presents an issue since all their weapons run on electricity, as does their space station. And to make matters worse, most beam weapons are useless since they only power up the thing on top of being incredibly resilient to all other weapons. Worse still, the alien is planning to get to Earth in order to get a near infinite source of power. They only manage to win when Max realizes that there is a limit to how much energy it can down in a single sitting, and thus he set it on-course for a solar-panel's energy transfer module causing the alien to overload itself from all the energy it was getting.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Used in the season 6 finale "To Where and Back Again". When Queen Chrysalis starts sucking the love out of reformed changeling Thorax, Starlight Glimmer convinces Thorax to release all his love at once, which overwhelms Chrysalis. Then all the other changelings, who have been having second thoughts about following Chrysalis, start doing it at once, which destroys Chrysalis' Power Limiter throne and causes all the changelings except her to undergo a HeelRace Turn.
- One episode of Care Bears (1980s) has a cloud monster eating all of the clouds in Care-a-Lot. Bright Heart creates a cloud-generating machine to overfeed it clouds in order to defeat it.
- In the first season of Wakfu, Sadlygrove won his duel against the freed Rubilax this way. Rubilax is a Sizeshifter who grows bigger and stronger every time he is hit. Sadlygrove decides to use his head metaphorically and literally by repeatedly headbutting Rubilax. Since they are fighting in a desert this causes Rubilax to sink into the sand as he gets too big and heavy. Rubilax surrenders rather than choke on the sands.
- Invoked and subverted in an episode of Earthworm Jim; after Psy-Crow gains Super Speed and vibration powers by consuming Klatchian Coffee and transforming into Hyper-Psy-Crow, Jim comes up with a plan to beat Psy-Crow by forcefeeding him gallons more coffee, in hope that he'll overload and blow up, as per this trope. Instead, the extra surge of concentrated caffeine gives Psy-Crow a power boost, turning him into Hyper-Hyper-Psy-Crow.