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HP to 1
aka: HP To One

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You're going to feel it tomorrow... but it makes sure you'll be there to feel it. This trope is for any of those attacks that appear to do a ridiculous amount of damage, but on closer inspection actually have the rather strange effect of reducing one (or more) party members down to their very last Hit Point instead of inflicting normal (possibly lethal) damage.

A lesser form of this trope is normal-damage attacks that specifically leave the target at one Hit Point when the attack would be fatal.

So what happens if you already have only one Hit Point when struck by this attack? In most cases, that amazing psychedelic rainbow shockwave (or whatever) attack will have no effect whatsoever, or may be labelled an automatic "Miss". However, sometimes even this attack is obligated to inflict a minimum of Scratch Damage and will actually kill the character unless they heal themselves (even slightly) in the meantime.

Should you fall victim to these kinds of attacks, your safest action is simply to Heal Thyself the first chance you get ... or you can also use this chance to unleash a Desperation Attack of maximum power. But be very wary: Even Scratch Damage leads directly to a Critical Existence Failure.

Related to Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke. Poison status effects often have this limitation.

Suffering this can leave you open to Cherry Tapping. Indeed, some enemies with this ability have an attack which deals a single hit point of damage as their only other attack. Alternatively, a clever user might pair this trope with a Damage Over Time status affliction beforehand, resulting in the affliction doing the finishing blow at the end of the turn after the subject has been reduced to 1 health, preventing them from being able to respond to it on the next turn.

Compare and contrast Last Chance Hit Point (where the ability to survive an attack with 1 HP is associated with the defender, not the attack itself).

See also One-Hit-Point Wonder (where having one HP is the standard) and One-Hit Kill (where the attack doesn't even spare a single hit point).

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Video Game Examples

    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Both the Nasty Soup and the Purple Chu have random properties, ranging from this trope to an unexpected full health recovery. Very risky indeed.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The One-Hit Obliterator is a weapon that lowers your HP to one quarter of a heart and keeps it there for the duration of the Great Plateau portion of "The Champions' Ballad" DLC. As a trade-off, it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin, with an attack power of ; if you can get into melee range, nothing survives a blow.
  • Because Mercenaries 2 is ridiculously easy, all exploding vehicles, airstrikes and other 'deadly' things will always jam your HP at 3, and give you about ten seconds of invulnerability. Sometimes the game totally jams at that point, meaning your Magic Regenerative Health doesn't take it back up, and gunshots can't take it back down. Useful, if you don't mind the screen being completely red.

    Action Game 
  • Bayonetta:
    • In the first game, Superboss Father Rodin has a move that does this where he charges forth and pulverises you, doubling as a Shout-Out to Akuma's infamous Shun Goku Satsu from the Street Fighter games. Better hope he doesn't pull this one out too early, since you can't heal in this fight.
    • The Superboss of Bayonetta 2 keeps the tradition when he Turns Red, Shun Goku Satsu reference and all, except now he's seen lying down in the aftermath with you stripped naked in the background. If you have any remaining health, he'll bring you down to the game's last-chance hit point. If he uses it at the last chance hitpoint, it will kill outright.
  • Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams has Oni Mode, unlocked by beating game at Hard difficulty, in which all attacks that don't flat out kill you will have this effect, meaning that you die in two hits at most unless you heal yourself in between.

    Card Battle Game 
  • Hearthstone has a multitude such abilities:
    • Equality on paladins reduces the hit points of all minions to 1, making enemy minions easier to kill with area-of-effect damage.
    • Hunters have Hunter's Mark to reduce the hit points of a single minion to 1.
    • Veranus, a Legendary Hunter minion that changes the Health of ALL enemy minions to 1.
    • Paladins have Libram of Justice, which sets to health of all enemy minions to 1 and equip a 1/4 weapon to finish one off. It's also eligible for permanent mana discounts from Libram synergy cards.
    • The villain Lady Deathwhisper from the Knights of the Frozen Throne solo adventure also has this ability: Every turn, she damages all your minions until they only have 1 HP left. Luckily, she forgets to include AoE spells to finish off your weakened minions, something that the Lich King chides her about.
    • Also from the solo adventure is the Lich King himself if you face him with a Mage deck. The Lich King will always spend his first turn casting a "cheat" spell tailored to the class you're playing, and in the case of a Mage he will cast "The True Lich", reducing you to 1 HP.
    • From the "Mercenaries" game mode, there's the Balinda Stonehearth boss. Her main gimmick is that she will use an ability called "Crestfallen Rebuke" on every even-numbered turn, which reduces all of your characters to 1 HP. Surviving the fight involves taking advantage of Crestfallen Rebuke's +5 to Heal Power to heal up before her summoned elementals can kill your characters.
  • Shadowverse:
    • Woodkin Curse and Pegasus Elf apply this to enemy followers, leaving them vulnerable to even a mere 1/1 Fairy.
    • Astaroth's Reckoning, obtained from Prince of Darkness or Tainted Grail, does this to the enemy leader.
    • Zooey, Arbiter of the Skies does this to yourself. Fortunately, you don't take any damage until your next turn so it won't matter if you can finish the job next turn.

    Fighting Game 
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, hitting an enemy against the wall does bonus damage via "Wall Rush", but if the damage from the 'bonus' attack would KO the opponent (e.g., opponent has 1236 HP, damage dealt is 930 (actual attack) + 421 (Wall Rush) it brings them down to 1 instead.
  • Of all games, Tekken has this move for Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Unknown has this move where she casts a vortex, and if you're caught in that vortex, a large hand rises up and slams you into the vortex, leaving you with 1 HP note  and automatically tagging in your partner. If you're really unlucky to be caught in this attack and your partner has low health, good luck trying to survive.
  • In Dragon Ball FighterZ, Android 16's self-destruct attack will instantly KO his opponent if successfully executed while reducing his own health to one pixel. The health he loses in the attack, however, can be recovered if he is tagged out or activates Sparking Blast.
  • In Killer Instinct (2013), Omen's Demonic Despair converts all of the opponent's HP to recoverable damage, effectively winning the match the next time he uses a combo ender. Of course, it takes 3 bars of shadow gauge and has no guarantee of actually killing the opponent.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Dan has a "reverse Shun Goku Satsu" attack (it's even performed by doing the normal inputs backwards), that is THE most damaging attack in the game, however it leaves poor Dan at, you guessed it, 1HP.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In the Half-Life series, Poison Headcrabs can never kill the player, but only reduce their HP to 1 (which slowly regenerates to a few below the initial value thanks to the HEV Suit). Because they tend to be located in chaotic scenes with lots of enemies that can kill the player, people would drop everything else and unload entire clips of ammo just to kill the tiny, scuttling, black thing somewhere in the room. Even the sound effect by itself, outside of the game setting, can make most former players jump a mile.
  • ULTRAKILL: The Corpse of King Minos, the Flesh Prison, and the Flesh Panopticon can fire a homing orb that reduces your current and maximum HP to 1 for a short time if it hits you.

  • In City of Heroes:
    • Falling cannot kill you. No matter from what height you fall, you will always have at least one hit point left. That said: you will survive the impact itself, but depending on your hit points left whatever is around you will off you pretty quick.
    • This used to be used as a offensive PVP and PVE trick by Blasters who used to have an effect that their damage went up the less HP they had. They'd drop onto a team of Villians and pop off their strongest Area attack, often one-shotting a whole villain team. Defiance no longer works this way.
    • Then there's The Magistrium trial, where the Big Bad hits your raid league with a nuke, bringing everyone's HP to 1. This is his opening attack, he only uses it once, and it's funny because most of his attacks can one-hit-kill most characters anyway. So in essence, a point-blank hit by a nuclear bomb is the least lethal thing that you have to worry about at this point. Yikes! (For clarification, by this point your character is an "Incarnate" who's half-way up the power ladder. You're fighting someone who's made it to the top of said ladder already)
  • Several examples in Final Fantasy XI:
    • The game has special event enemies that can bring down the players' HP to 1. It's not as horrible as you'd think, considering everyone gets capped to level one for the event.
    • Tonberries have an attack called "Throat Stab" that brings you down to 5% HP. Luckily, it has a very short range, so you can avoid it by walking away when he tries to use it. And if you do get hit with it, it resets your accumulated enmity, so unless you're alone the tonberry will attack someone else (most likely the mages healing you to full).
    • Certain Diremites also have Tarsal Slam, which is HP to 1, but like Throat Stab also comes with a hate reset.
  • Final Fantasy XIV'
    • Fall damage cannot kill you outside of battle; if the damage it would deal is higher than your HP, you get dropped to 1. However, if you are in battle, fall damage can be lethal - regardless of whether you have enmity from something on top of the cliff, or you fell into view of a hostile enemy at the bottom.
    • The Sigmascape v4.0 (Savage) raid has Kefka using an attack called Heartless Angel, which (much like in its original appearance in FFVI) does this to the entire party. Even worse, later phases change this attack to Heartless Archangel, which reduces the party's HP to one and prevents healing on them for several seconds. Thankfully, with some careful manuevering you can avoid a full raid wipe until the debuff expires and healers can resume healing.
    • The first boss of Sastasha (Hard), Karlabos, will target a random player with Tail Screw, which will reduce their HP to 1. Normally, the healer can easily fix this, but the boss will also use a poison based debuff before using Tail Screw. If the healer didn't cure the debuff beforehand, then the chip damage will kill the player after the Tail Screw attack. As of patch 4.5 introducing the Blue Mage job, players can learn the attack from this boss, where it will do the same thing to any enemies that are not specifically immune to instant-death attacks.
    • Forgall, the second boss of The Weeping City of Mhach, would use an attack called Hell Wind which would have this effect then immediately follow it up with Punishing Ray, an attack which players must stand in marked areas to weaken the main blast. Said areas cause an unremovable bleeding debuff as long as the players stand in them forcing the healers to undo the damage of Hell Wind as quickly as possible.
    • Both the Thunder God (the third boss of the Orbonne Monastery raid) and the Warrior of Light (the boss of the Seat of Sacrifice trial) have an attack which reduces all players to 1 HP and inflicts a version of Doom which can only be removed by restoring an afflicted player to full health before it goes off.
    • The Gunbreaker's "become unkillable" skill, Superbolide, makes them invulnerable for a few seconds but sets their HP to 1, forcibly invoking a Last Chance Hit Point scenario.
    • In Abyssos: The Eighth Circle (Savage), the party will have their HP dropped to one after resolving the second "High Concept" mechanic correctly. If someone isn't healed up to full before being dropped to 1, they are killed instead.
  • Lineage 2 had a downplayed version of this called Seal of Limit, an area-of-effect spell that hard caps affected target's HP at 30%. It is ridiculously spammable and being a hard counter to Balance Life, the single best healing spell in the game.
  • In Mabinogi Fantasy Life, the Poison and Mirage Missile effects reduce HP to one, then do only enough damage to counteract Healing Factors. Mirage Missile is very useful if you can follow up with an Area of Effect attack, since with its infectious nature it can turn a whole roomful of monsters into One Hitpoint Wonders. Attacks that do more than a player's whole health bar sends them automatically into Deadly mode, one hit away from getting killed.
  • MapleStory has Zakum, the original Big Bad of the game (who devolved into the-boss-everyone-wants-to-fight-because-of-the-Infinity-Plus-One-Hat-you-get-from-him thanks to further additions adding even bigger bads, the most notable and recent example being Pink Bean/Pink Been/Pink Being in Time Temple) — who, in his final form (he looks more battle-damaged with each form, the last one being terribly close to rubble) regularly ABUSES an attack that drops both HP and SP to 1.
  • In Runescape, Nomad from the quest Nomad's Requiem gets a unique version of this attack. The attack always hits your maximum Life Points minus 10. In a subversion, however, the attack hits this amount regardless of your current HP - so unless your health is at (or above, through the use of potions) max, it will kill you. Some shields and armor can reduce the damage of the attack, but at the time of release this equipment was prohibitively expensive.
  • Eblis, a boss in The Secret World, has an attack like this, targeting a random player and stunning them for a few seconds.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Raid Boss Prince Malchezaar has Enfeeble that works this way, but it's only temporary damage. The trick is to avoid any further damage until the effect wears off. Of course, he casts an area-effect spell soon after, so the targets need to run away from him (and avoid the Infernals area damage). The effect also prevents any form of healing, so there is no easy way out. Mercifully, he won't use it on whoever is on top of his threat list. This would keep it from being a completely Luck-Based Mission, but the above-mentioned infernals do a fine job of making it one on their own.
    • Baron Ashbury in the revamped Shadowfang Keep has an ability called Asphyxiate, which stuns all players and reduces their HP to 1. Immediately after casting Asphyxiate he will cast Stay of Execution, an interruptable ability that heals both the players and himself for 10% of their maximum life every time second it ticks. Defeating him without letting him heal at all awards the Pardon Denied achievement.
    • Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent has an interesting take on this. There's a friendly NPC that prevents any hit from killing anyone if their health is above 10,000, instead causing them to live with 1 health. This means that healers just have to keep everyone above 10,000 health for most of the fight, but this effect gets disabled periodically, and so massive healing is required to keep everyone alive through his caustic slimes.
    • Some of the pets in the pet-battle minigame have an attack that explicitly has a version of this effect (that is, the attack does normal damage, but it will not reduce the opponent below one hit point). This has its uses, since you capture pets by reducing them to low health without killing them (then following up with a "cage" attack). If your pet has the HP to one attack, you can use him even if he's much higher level than the opponent, and not worry about an ill-timed critical hit killing the other guy.

  • Defense of the Ancients has Venomancer's Poison Nova, which deals an absurd amount of damage over time but can't drop an enemy's health below 1. Unfortunately for them, the rest of his kit deals damage over time which can kill the victim.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • Alarak can do with to himself with a level 20 talent. More specifically, the talent lets him teleport a sizable distance and clear any status effects, but sets him to 1 HP if he doesn't hit enemy heroes enough times with his abilities. He can use it to escape from basically any situation, but smart opponents can figure out where he might have blinked to and instantly pop him.
    • On the Cursed Hollow map, completing the secondary objective causes the Raven Lord to curse the enemy team. While cursed, the team's towers won't fire and the HP of their minions is reduced to 1.

    Party Game 
  • Mario Party 10: In Bowser Party, one potential result of Team Mario landing on a Bowser Jr. Space is having the current Captain lose all but one of their Hearts, leaving them vulnerable to getting quickly eliminated in the next minigame.

    Platform Game 
  • Banjo-Tooie has the Stomponadon and the crushers in Grunty Industries; being crushed twice in a row results in death. Banjo's Snooze Pack move allows him to recover health in between repeatedly getting flattened to one honeycomb. One of Weldar's attacks, the Ground Pound, has the same effect as well; and like all bosses it must be fought with Banjo and Kazooie together, so the recovery move cannot be done during battle.
  • Iconoclasts: Agent Black has an Always Accurate Attack that drops Robin's health to not quite 1, but close enough to make one more hit lethal. Fortunately, the boss takes some time to taunt at Robin while a few Controllers that are near-guaranteed to drop health pickups enter the arena, allowing Robin to get back up to around 75% health.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid:
      • The titular metroid reduces Samus' energy to exactly 1 point, regardless of any health tanks she has. This is more of a plot point than any serious danger; while there's nothing you can do to stop the energy drain (apart from not getting grabbed in the first place), at the last possible second the metroid recognizes Samus as the one it imprinted on when it hatched and it lets her go. Luckily, there's no other enemies between Samus and an energy-restoring station.
      • The Final Boss (Mother Brain) resorts to her Laser Brain Attack when dealt enough damage, draining three Energy Tanks (or six, if the player is not wearing the Varia Suit), about sixty-five Missiles, and Samus's entire supply of Super Missiles and Power Bombs. What qualifies it for this trope (given that the player can have up to nineteen Energy Tanks' worth of health by the end of the game) is that not only is it impossible to dodge the attack, but she'll keep doing it until the player's health becomes low enough that one more Laser Brain Attack would be lethal. Furthermore, if the player has more than one Energy Tank remaining, she'll rub in her imminent victory by launching weaker attacks at Samus (who at this point is too exhausted to move) until this is no longer the case. Finally, she'll attempt to finish Samus off with one final Laser Brain Attack - at which point the infant "Super Metroid" will rush in and save Samus's life. If Samus can't survive the first of the Laser Brain attacks, however, she will die.
    • Metroid Fusion: The Final Boss (an Omega Metroid) is immune to Samus's entire arsenal and knocks her down to 1 energy with a single swipe, leaving her helpless. An SA-X comes into the scene and saves Samus by allowing her to absorb it, giving her the Ice Beam that can harm the Omega Metroid.
  • Noita:
    • Toxic Sludge stains cause damage over time unless removed, eventually lowering the victim's HP to 5. A single attack is usually enough to kill at that point.
    • Polymorphine transforms the victim into a defenseless sheep which will die to any attack. Chaotic Polymorphine can transform the victim into sheep, deer, and several other creatures with similarly low health.
  • In Scurge: Hive, the Final Boss uses a variation during its Battle in the Center of the Mind — if it can make three copies of Jenosa at once, it will spend some time charging, then use an unavoidable attack that drains heavy amounts of HP, but cannot reduce Jenosa below 1 HP. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to take some contact damage and die in between getting drained, which means you have to start the fight from the beginning.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Dawn of War:
    • The Mad Dok's Fightin' Juice makes the orks under its effect immune to death for a while - so they're basically running around at 1 HP each. However, it doesn't prevent knockback, so the affected squad isn't literally unstoppable.
    • The Space Marine Librarian's Word of the Emperor ability has the same effect, with two exceptions. First, it affects all nearby infantry instead of being targeted at a specific squad. Second, the Librarian himself is not affected and killing him stops the effect immediately.
  • In Starcraft, the Defiler's Plague attack is a powerful area attack but will never kill an enemy, only reduce their hit points to a minimum of 1.
  • Warcraft III: some damage-over-time effects like Disease Cloud and Envenomed Weapons never kill the target, keeping them at one or two HP as long as the effect lasts.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In Bloodborne, the Moon Presence, the Eldritch Abomination behind the Hunter's Dream has a gaze attack which can deplete the Hunter's health to 1, the attack has a cone-shaped Area of Effect instead of the traditional, self-centered sphere AoE. It can, however, result in a One-Hit Kill if the Hunter has less than 30% of their total health while being a co-operator. The attack itself is not as bad as it sounds as it actually converts all of your HP into "red health," which can be regained by attacking an enemy immediately after the attack has landed (and as an added bonus, use of it has a long recovery time which leaves the Moon Presence vulnerable to just such a recovery).
  • The Disembowel skill from Breath of Fire 3 and 4. The enemies that use it tend to follow up with Target, an attack skill that never misses. Naturally, it's a Useless Useful Spell once you acquire it yourself (doubly so when you notice it's also Cast from Hit Points and reduces your max HP temporarily when used).
  • In Bug Fables, the Burn and Poison status have the damage scale with the character's HP, but will not reduce their HP below 1. Also the Big Mistake item will reduce the user's HP to 1 and poison them.
  • Chrono Trigger features the Life Shaver technique used by some enemies, which reduces one character's HP to 1; Queen Zeal has a stronger version, Halation, which reduces all characters' HP to 1.
    • The Nus fought in various locations have precisely two attacks: reduce you to 1, or reduce you by 1. They are nice enough to attack in turn, hitting (at worst) all three characters to reduce them to one, giving you time to heal, and then hitting you with the 1 HP damage.
    • Krawlie, a boss that appears in the Abandoned Sewers in 2300 AD, may reduce a single character's HP to 1 with his Mash attack.
    • On the bright side, such techniques offer a perfect opportunity to use Dino Tail and Frog Squash!
  • Coromon has the "Tactical Strike" attack. It's not very powerful, but it will reduce the target to 1 HP instead of knocking it out (unless the target was already at 1 HP, in which case it will finish the target off).
  • In Cris Tales, The Time Empress's Time Compression move will bring everyone in the party down to 1 HP regardless of how much they had before. The one solace is that she uses it only every now and then, giving you a chance to heal back. This is not the case with Ardo, who, once provoked far enough, will alternate between Time Compression and a standard attack that hits everyone.
  • In Cute Bite, the first time that the player encounters a Vampire Hunter, there is a special code protection so that if the Hunter would do a One-Hit Kill in the first attack before her statbars have been revealed, it will instead reduce HP to 1, giving the player one chance to recognise just how dangerous this enemy is and run away. If you keep fighting past the first turn, well, you had your warning...
  • In Darkest Dungeon, heart attacks, which happens when the character's stress bar gets doubly full, drop the character to Death's Door. If he or she is already in Death's Door before that, it just kills them outright (like it used to do in pre-release builds).
  • In the PSP adaptation of Digimon Adventure, several enemy Digimon have attacks with this effect (listed as "Unconscious" in-game). Most examples have rather shaky accuracy.
    • The first one is Bakemon, a Bedsheet Ghost Digimon. They have "Death Charm", which targets all party Digimon, but tends to miss.
    • Phantomon first appear in the Eighth Child arc and have "Death Sentence". It only hits a single target, but is more accurate than most attacks with the same effect. They're quite dangerous enemies, as they are Perfect/Ultimate level and resist most attacks except those with holy properties (like Garudamon's "Shadow Wing" or Angemon's "Heaven's Knuckle").
    • Vamdemon/Myotismon has "Dead Scream", which also has chance to cause Shock and Break. Fortunately, he rarely uses it.
    • Garbamon first appear during the Pinocchimon/Puppetmon arc and have "Dark Hole", which hits the entire party. Notably, you must fight three of them at one point.
    • Jureimon/Cherrymon has "Cherry Bomb" that has a chance to reduce HP to 1. Hope you have a HP recovery item/skill, since you must fight him with only MetalGarurumon.
    • Apocalymon, the last boss for the Adventure part, has his signature attack "Darkness Zone". Beside inflicting HP to 1, it also may cause Sticky, Skill Seal, and Poison status all at once. That being said, it only hits a single target and has low accuracy (and sometimes fails to cause HP to 1 even if it does hit).
  • A Sequential Boss from Digimon World 3 goes into his second form just to use an attack like this, then immediately turns into his third form. In the original game, attacks outside of battle can't get a Digimon's HP below 1.
  • Dragon Quest Monsters had the spell Kamikaze, which cut the user's and target's HP to 1 if successful.
  • In the Endless Frontier spinoff to the Super Robot Wars described below, Mercy is instead turned into a negative status effect that can only be gotten via one of the two Spirit commands that cast a random SC on either themselves or a random party member: the reason it's a negative status effect despite doing the exact same thing is because the whole point of the game is overkilling every enemy in overly elaborate ways and the only HP you ever need to worry about hitting 0 is your own.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 5: Anna's Bow Whack skill is unable to drop a foe's HP below 1. In combination with its increased chance to cause foes to Surrender, this makes it highly useful for capturing them.
  • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan: Getting caught by one of the Elemental Dragons or an Imperial airship while exploring the overworld will lead to the party's Global Airship being completely shot down, and the party's characters will reappear in Tharsis with only one HP each left (also, all they food they might have gathered will be lost).
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money, when played on hardcore mode, features an outdoor area with toxic gas that constantly drains your health down to 1HP. Given a dearth of healing items, this basically turns you into a One HP Wonder for the entire first half of the add-on.
  • The Final Fantasy series loves this trope.
    • Beatrix has this as her Finishing Move in Final Fantasy IX. When she executes it, the battle is over; from a story standpoint, the party is defeated as if it's a KO. She considers this her ultimate move and taunts/threatens the party with death after she uses it, which is very strange considering you can regen out of the critical status while the game fades to black, reducing the "impact" of the scene.
    • The final boss, Necron, boasts his "Blue Shockwave" attack, which cuts the victim down to 1 HP.
    • The final monster Zidane has to fight during the "You're Not Alone!" sequence has an attack that does this, which triggers Garnet/Dagger's entrance by casting Curaga on you (even if she hasn't learnt it yet).
    • The Blue magic Death Claw allows Blue Mages to reduce monsters (and a few midbosses!) to single-digit hp with a successful casting. It stuns them too, leaving them unable to heal in preparation for the follow up.
    • Final Fantasy IV's "Tornado" spell (and its upgraded counterpart, "Maelstrom", usable only by certain enemies) reduces its target(s)' HP to single digits, providing a much the same effect.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years loves to do this during boss fights. Adamantoise in Yang's Story is one. It also happens at the end of The Lunarian's Story too, after the fight between Golbez/Fusoya and Zeromus's Malice. This also happens to Palom when he sees the performance in Troia's Pub. After the dancers reveal themselves as old women, Palom is whisked away... after the cutscene, Palom's HP is left at one.
    • Final Fantasy VI: The spell "Fallen One" ("Heartless Angel" in the GBA translation) makes all of your warriors' HP fall to 1. When you meet Kefka at the very end of the game, this is his opening move. Other enemies besides Kefka can use it, but it usually involves using Relm's "Sketch"/"Control" command or one of Gau's rages.
    • Holy Dragon 2 in the GBA edition of Final Fantasy VI can randomly Counter-Attack with Heartless Angel, so if your timing is off, he could counter with it and immediately follow up with his normal turn consisting of a spell that hits the entire field.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroth can use "Heartless Angel" in his One-Winged Angel form at the end of the game. He even kept it for his Superboss fights in Kingdom Hearts (it actually reduced your HP/MP to zero if you didn't interrupt it - fortunately, you have Second Chance by then) and his playable appearance in Dissidia Final Fantasy (which mercifully only takes your Brave Points down to 1), so in a way, it's almost become his trademark attack. It's also used by him in Crisis Core during the Nibelheim event.
    • Final Fantasy VIII:
      • Ultimecia's penultimate "Hell's Judgement" attack causes the entire party's health to drop to one.
      • During the second Laguna dream sequence, the last Esthar Soldier (Terminator) has a final attack called "Soul Crush" that will put Kiros and Ward down to 1 HP. Kiros and Ward are severely wounded in the following cutscene after the battle.
      • Mobile Type 8, a boss in Lunatic Pandora, has another party-wide example in its Corona attack.
      • Superboss Ultima Weapon (and its even more powerful palette swap Omega) use an attack that inflicts exactly 9998 points of damage, meaning that it will only reduce your HP to 1 as long as it's maxed out. Otherwise it's instant death.
    • Inverted in Final Fantasy X with the giant bird monsters, who are always reduced to at least 1 HP before being killable (they start off in the air, then land once sufficiently damaged, but even a 99999 hit won't outright kill them from the start).
    • Final Fantasy X-2 has Yojimbo and the Magus Sisters, the former being much more annoying as it also knocks the party's MP to one; you're screwed without an Alchemist.
    • Final Fantasy XII has Sight Unseeing, which reduces the target's HP to single digits with a chance of said digit being 0 and causing a One-Hit Kill. It only works if the caster is afflicted with the Blind status, though.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has Orphan who uses an attack called Merciless Judgement to bring your party's HP to 100 (relatively speaking, a critical amount). Easily fixed by using a paradigm with healers, but an instant kill if anyone is poisoned when he uses it.
    • The final boss of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII also uses the the Heartless Angel, but it's made much more manageable by the fact that you can see it coming in advance and guard it to prevent it from working.
    • Several Final Fantasy games had Cactuars with two attacks: One would do 1 HP of damage, the other would do <Player's current HP - 1> damage.
  • Final Fantasy spin-offs Bravely Default and Bravely Second have some interesting variations on this.
  • Some monsters (and bosses) have this as an attack in Golden Sun. Notably, all of the Golem-type enemies have a chance of this effect occurring from "Truncheon Fist". It's still pretty nasty otherwise.
  • Kingdom Hearts has a few in addition to Sephiroth mentioned above.
    • Kingdom Hearts II: During the first battle with Xemnas, if you fail to use a reaction command while climbing the Memory Skyscraper, Xemnas will knock Sora down to just 1HP. If you're in MP recharge or don't have Elixirs, you're out of luck defeating him.
    • Birth By Sleep Final Mix has Superboss No Heart, who has an attack that is basically a worse DHA. It doesn't just drain your HP to one, it completely drains your focus gauge and even your command board. Thankfully, he doesn't use it often, and the attack itself is much easier to dodge than Sephiroth's.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] does it again with the (this time required) boss Anti Black Coat Nightmare. He extends a line of darkness towards you, and if it catches you, it drains your HP to one. Luckily, it's easy to dodge and if you do get caught, the health it drains from you is converted into HP orbs which are scattered all over the arena. You also have plenty of time to select a cure command while you're draining (though sometimes he just waits below you and finishes you off before you can use it...). However, the boss can also pick up the HP orbs, which restore a lot of his HP.
  • Last Scenario has several bosses who can do this: Thanatos, who does this to the entire party unless you have damage-reducing Status Buffs active, Durile, who targets a single character, and the Black King, whose attack hits the entire party, too.
  • The final boss of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, Loa Luciferia, has a move that can do this to everyone in the active battle party.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga does this with the Final Bosses Bowletta and Cackletta's Soul. After defeating Bowletta, Mario and Luigi are beaten and reduced to 1 HP in an unavoidable attack from a timed Bob-Omb, which leaves them weak enough to be vacuum-eaten by Bowletta. When they wake up inside Bowletta's body, they are immediately attacked by Cackletta's Soul, complete with multiple body parts (with new attacks you haven't seen before unless you've already died here) which predictably will kill you outright if you don't dodge them. This will happen before you even get a chance to heal unless you have done enough Level Grinding to get at least one Bro's Speed to be greater than hers, or you use equipment with the First Strike effect. You can also survive by correctly timing Action Commands to dodge the attacks, but it requires good skill because her attack animations are long and can easily throw off your timing. Luckily, the 3DS version lets you move first, allowing you to heal straight away.
  • Master of the Monster Lair: The "Devastation" magic spell.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3:
    • When you first fight Bass, his aura is impenetrable, and his attacks are impossible to avoid fully. He 'deletes' you, but you go back the out-of-battle screen unconscious and with 1 HP.
    • Invoked with the Undershirt chip and program (or wave ability in Mega Man Star Force), which lets you retain 1 HP on an otherwise fatal hit.
    • Not an attack, but in Mega Man Battle Network 6, using Beast Out twice in a single battle causes Mega Man's HP to drop rapidly until he has only 1 HP left.
  • Epsilon in Mega Man X: Command Mission gains the ability to knock one of your characters down to one hit point after he powers up mid-fight. He also uses this ability to open the fight.
  • In Miitopia, the Darker Lord and the Dark Sun both have an unavoidable attack that will reduce the HP of the entire party to 1. Worse, they do it twice during their fight.
  • EarthBound Beginnings: PK Freeze Alpha and Beta do increasing quantities of damage, but Freeze Gamma is apparently so strong that it always drops the enemy's HP to a "critical status". If the beast isn't immune to that spell.
  • Mother 3 has the New Year's Eve Bomb, although it can only be used on one boss. Said boss has so much HP that you need it anyway.
  • In My World, My Way, the "Weaken" spell does this, though you can't use the spell against bosses.
  • Neverwinter Nights used the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons version of Harm. As a cleric spell it wasn't resisted by the high spell resistance that most powerful enemies had, making it one of the most useful spells in the game.
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • In all games, the Hunter has a skill called "Mercy Strike" that leaves the enemy with at least 1 HP. This is mainly used for the Hunter character to capture an enemy.
    • In Octopath Traveler II, the Forbidden Elixir item drops the user's HP to 1, in exchange for fully recovering their SP and BP. Also, one of the final bosses has attacks that reduce either a party member, or all party members' HP to 1.
  • Paper Mario:
    • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door the Item Trial Stew puts you down to only one heart point and zero flower points, but recovers all star power. Trial Stew also appears in Super Paper Mario, where it gives you 100 times the HP lost in experience points.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash has an attack that does this to its user, but adds insane damage and life drain to compensate for the price. You better hope Huey has enough strength to block this one...
  • In Parasite Eve these attacks: the crab's attack that involves grabbing and pinching you, Eve's red tentacle in Day 5, Ultimate Being's yellow shockwave, and Maya's Energy Shot, all put you down to 1 HP.
  • Pok√©mon:
    • The move "False Swipe" (and its event-exclusive counterpart "Hold Back") is an ordinary attack (similar to "Scratch"), but has the added effect of never reducing the opponent to zero HP. It is useful primarily for weakening wild Pokémon so they can be more easily caught, but can't save them from themselves (recoil damage, etc), which is why you should always have status effect moves in case the mon does have self-damaging moves.
    • Prior to Generation V, poisoned Pokémon in the player's party would lose health for every few steps taken outside of battle. In Generation IV, a Pokémon brought down to 1 HP by poison outside of battle would be cured of poison; previous generations had the Pokémon faint instead.
    • The move "Endeavor" (deals damage to make the target's HP equal to the user's) inflicted by a weak Pokémon with the item Focus Sash or the ability Sturdy can be this against the strongest of Pokémon. This strategy is generally named F.E.A.R.note 
  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, some moves that would normally cause the user to faint in the main games like Healing Wish and Memento instead lower the user's HP to 1.
  • Re:Kuroi: The party members can learn an equippable passive skill, Mercy, that makes it so a finishing blow knocks the enemy down to 1 HP.
  • Fox Face from Shadow Hearts has his "!!!" attack. The final boss also has "Nine Springs" attack, that is essentially the same ability under a different name.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has a version of this fitting with the spirit of the game: Alciel will do this to your entire party with Sol Niger, then immediately follow it up with a regular attack before you get a turn. Just hope he doesn't target the main character with it. Fortunately, it's telegraphed - the boss uses Mana Drain on the turn before he uses Sol Niger, giving you an opening to use an Attack Mirror.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV has an attack called Death's Door, which causes the opponent's HP to go to one if they have the Sick status effect. Also in the boss fight against the White masquerading as Issachar, he will give you multiple Breaking Speeches throughout the fight and one of the consequences of falling into one of them is that Flynn's HP goes down to one and his SP to zero.
    • In Persona 2, there is a number of spells with this effect, but for your party.
      • The High-End Crusher fusion spell picks the enemy with the highest level and reduces their HP to one.
      • The All For One fusion spell reduces the HP of all combatants to one.
      • Katsuya's Signature Move "Justice Shot" has 42% chance to reduce an enemy's HP to one. That percentage can change depending on weaknesses or resistances, AGI and LUCK stats.
    • Persona 4 has Galgalim Eyes, which reduce the victim's HP to 1 and inflict them with the Enervation status. The Final Boss often follows up on this with Summons To Yomi, which kills anyone with a status ailment.
  • The Long-Dead King from RPG Maker game Standstill Girl has a skill that does this. However, strangely enough, you can guard against it, halving the damage you take.
  • Super Mario RPG has some enemy attacks that are One Hit Kills. However, if you defend against these attacks with the Action Command, they become this trope. The remake has 3D Culex's Meteor, which does damage equal to characters' max HP-1, meaning that it's this trope on characters at full health and a One-Hit Kill on anyone below that.
  • Tales Series:
  • In Undertale:
    • The very first attack in the game is one of these. Later, a very similar attack is used just before the final battle of the True Pacifist route.
    • The boss of Snowdin will never hit you with a fatal attack. If the attack would normally be fatal, it instead reduces your health to 1 HP and you get captured and thrown in a Cardboard Prison.
    • Getting hit by any of the penultimate boss' attacks will never leave you with less than 1 HP unless it's already there. It's a subtle hint that he's holding back and doesn't really want to fight you.
    • The True Final Boss' last attack is a point-blank, unavoidable beam that reduces your HP to a very small fraction of a percent.
    • The Final Boss of the Genocide ending has several:
      • The boss's attacks can inflict a poison-like status that marks a portion of your HP as purple, which slowly drains away. But, the last point of HP can't be marked, hence the "poison" alone can't kill you.
      • Later, the boss attacks the menu while you are navigating the menu. This can't drop your HP to below one.
      • The penultimate attack involves using Gravity Screw to slam you to the Bullet Board's borders, but it can't drop your HP to below 1.
  • The Greater Demon's Death Wish attack in Valkyrie Profile.
  • Winged Warrior (an old PC game) has you battling the dreaded Nova Knight, who is a Hopeless Boss Fight in the first encounter... until you learn he's actually a Brainwashed and Crazy hero under the spell of an evil warlock. You then learn a Reverse Curse Spell, level up, fight him at the end... and no matter how powerful your attacks are in the rematch, your final blow will reduce the Nova Knight's health to a single point (even by using powerful attacking spells when his HP is at single digits) so that you can cast the Reverse Curse on him.
  • Mabadi, a level 6 Priest Spell in Wizardry: Proving Grounds of The Mad Overlord. The spell was very nice in helping kill those Murphy's Ghosts.
  • World of Mana:
    • In Secret of Mana, some chests would contain a "Death Trap". If you had full health, it would reduce your HP to one. If you didn't, instant death ensued. You very quickly learned to heal up before opening chests.
    • This can happen outside of battle in Trials of Mana. If you try to challenge the beastmen who've taken over Jadd once you arrive there after the opening cutscene, all they need to do is smack you once and you'll wake up at the inn with only 1 HP left, even if you're fully rested.
  • The World Is Your Weapon: Withered trees are weak weapons, but can never reduce a target to below 1 HP. This effect can be used to make enemies easier to capture.

    Sandbox Game 
  • Minecraft: Poison will cease damaging you at 1/2 heart of health. If the difficulty is on Normal, so will starvation.note  However, other tick-down effects, like wither or fire, will kill you.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • A variation is used in Advance Wars: CO Powers and missiles reduce units by a set amount, but won't inflict the killing blow.
  • In later Disgaea games, Adell can gain an Evility that makes all his attacks leave one hit point. Useful because the character who deals the killing blow gets all the XP, so you can use Adell to weaken enemies, have a weaker character finish them off, and make Level Grinding quick and easy.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The Hel dark magic from Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776 along with Eclipse in The Binding Blade and Medusa in Gaiden/Shadows of Valentia reduce the target's HP to one, or kills if the target is already at one HP, but to prevent them from being total Game Breakers they all have very low accuracy and high weight which slows the user down, and Eclipse in The Blazing Blade was nerfed to only halve the target's HP, but got an accuracy boost to compensate. But in a touch of Artificial Brilliance in Thracia 776, enemy dark mages often couple with another dark magic Yotsmungand that poisons if it hits, if a poisoned target is hit with Hel, it becomes One-Hit Kill instead.
    • In Radiant Dawn:
      • Whispers gain the mastery skill Bane, which instantly reduces enemy HP to one. Of course, considering that the chances of you getting any Whispers other than Sothe, combined with the chances of Sothe turning out to be any good, this is rather worthless. It can also proc on the second attack, when even a basic hit would've killed the target.
      • Also your other characters will often have a mastery skill that is basically "ton of damage. If he manages to survive somehow, halve his speed for 5 turns." In fact, this is the case with most mastery skills. Most of these added effects tend to be completely irrelevant since most of the skills are overpowered and will seldom not kill everything. Of course, no generic enemies nor non-plot relevant bosses will ever have these skills (or any non-mastery skills, unless they're bosses) because they never make it to the third tier, for obvious reasons.
      • Bane is just Lethality and Mercy in one skill. The former (only belonging to Volke) kills things instantly (unless they're counted as a boss character) and the latter (belonging to Elincia) makes it so that it's impossible to kill anyone since your character will stop doing damage after an enemy's hit one HP. Mercy has its uses, but the game puts it on Elincia after a certain point in the game, but doesn't tell you, which can cause players to accidentally head out into battle with her being unable to kill things.
    • In Awakening's final mission, during the opening cutscene, Grima uses his power to weaken everyone in your army and it displays their health bars being reduced to a tiny sliver. However, Naga, who has taken up residence in Chrom's sword, shortly afterward uses her own powers to heal everyone back up to full health before the battle actually starts, and they begin the mission with full health as usual.
    • Grima pulls the same trick in the Future Past 3 DLC mission, only this time it's not aimed at your party, but rather the Alternate Universe versions of Lucina, Severa, Laurent, and Gerome, making an already-precarious Escort Mission even more desperate, since all four need to survive to get the Golden Ending.
  • In Gothic, NPCs who are not inherently hostile but whom you've managed to annoy will generally knock you out instead of killing you. This reduces you to one hit point.
  • Stella Glow: Many of Dorothy's attacks inflict high damage onto her enemies, while also causing her to either take damage in turn or receive some sort of debuff. But the Limit Break skill Kill 'Em All is notable for being so extremely powerful and demanding that it leaves Dorothy with only 1 HP. So unless the enemy or boss who receives it ends up dying and there are no more enemies close to her (or there are enemies but an ally comes to heal her), it's ill-advised to use this move except as a last resort.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • Cutscene attacks do either 150%, 110%, 95%, 90%, 50% or (in one event in Alpha 3) 500% of the target's maximum HP. When it's the second or third on an enemy, it generally means that the boss is either going to make a dying speech or Motive Rant before blowing up anyway, or it's going to regenerate all its health so you can fight it for real. That one time where it was 500%? It involved a Goldion Crusher on Palparepa.
    • And then there's the "Mercy" spirit command, which, if it works, makes any attack deal just enough damage to reduce the target's HP to 10 without killing them. It's useful for keeping high-level enemies alive so weaker characters can kill them for EXP. It's also used as a minor plot point in Super Robot Wars Z, where Kira Yamato in his Thou Shalt Not Kill phase always has the Mercy effect.
    • Heero Yuy's "I'll Kill You" command in the SD G Generation games for the Nintendo DS increases his attack power at the cost of, ironically, not being able to kill.
  • Poison effectively works this way in Battle for Wesnoth. It will all but inexorably sap an afflicted unit's hit points each turn until cured, but never below that last point — actually killing the poisoned unit will thus take at least one more attack.

    Other Games 
  • In Bloons Tower Defense series, the Bloon Master Alchemist in the sixth game can throw a special potion that transforms any Bloon into a mere Red Bloon, the weakest type of Bloon which only takes one hit from anything to be fully popped. Only the BAD is immune to this attack.
  • Cute Knight: Players not wearing any equipment, when enchanted by Satyrs into an Involuntary Dance, are exhausted to 10 Hit Points.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, the very rare item called the Divine Rod reduces the enemy's health to 1, ignoring all shields and armor. It requires four 6s to use, however.
  • Discworld MUD: Happens to any PC who decides to try stealing without a license in Ankh-Morpork, regardless whether or not the offender actually is a thief.
  • In Rockman 4 Minus Infinity Mega Man can get a Shock Guard upgrade which turns the series' trademark Spikes of Doom into these if he has more than 1 HP.

Non Video Game Examples:

  • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, someone can donate all but one of their life points to the attack of the Winged Dragon of Ra.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, this is literally the effect of Earthbound Immortal Wiraqocha Rasca; by skipping the battle phase, your opponent's Life Points become 1. This effect was removed from the real card, because an effect like that would be ridiculously broken in the real card game. A Later card, Chaos Number 6: Chaos Atlandis, also has this effect. Unlike Wiraqocha Rasca however, it was NOT removed from its real life version, balanced by a few activation and summoning conditions

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has several examples;
    • Ali from Cairo and Worship turn otherwise-fatal attacks into this.
    • If you want to inflict this on all players, the card Worldfire reduces all players to one life. (In addition to exiling their hand, graveyard and everything they have in play).
    • The card Master of Cruelties is a straight example of this: If it attacks and the opponent doesn't (Or can't) block, they will immediately be reduced to 1 life.
    • And now there's Vraska's card from the Ixalan set, which can inflict this on a player as its final ability.
  • Super Munchkin has the Plot Device card. It sets the effective level of the munchkin currently in combat exactly 1 above or below that of the monster (depending on who uses it).
  • In the Pokémon Trading Card Game, Raticate's Super Fang has this property. The move is Energy-intensive, however, and Raticate has very low HP (even compared to before any Sequel Escalation happened).

  • Dungeon Crawler Carl encounters crossbow bolts that inflict the Suffering Bleed spell onto their victims, draining them until they reach 10% health, then a second bolt will drain them to 1%. The item description suggests that their purpose is to let you cause another Crawler's death without getting a skull-mark against your name (by dramatically weakening them and then letting wildlife finish the job).

    Tabletop RPGs 
  • Dungeons & Dragons.
    • Older editions of (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons had the Harm spell (reverse of Heal), which would strip the victim of all but 1d4 or so hit points, no save. It did the same thing in 3rd edition where, due to the revised casting, melee attack and HP system between 2nd and 3rd edition, it turned into a massive Game-Breaker. The version in 3.5 inflicts damage based on caster level, but it still cannot reduce the victim's hp below 1.
    • In 5th edition, Harm cannot kill you, as normal, but does not immediately drop you down to one, either. It drops you down by 14d6 damage, making it the second strongest single-target magical attack in the game, behind only Disintegrate, which does 10d6 + 40. The thing to really be scared about is if you fail the constitution saving throw when the spell is used; your max HP gets reduced by the damage you took from the spell proper for one hour, meaning your HP can literally go down to 1 if you have less max HP than what the attack dealt!
    • An article in Dragon magazine #36 gave AD&D stats for Conan. He could not be killed by poison: instead, he would be reduced to one Hit Point and fall unconscious.
    • In 3.5 edition drowning set your health to zero (not "down to" zero; if your health was below zero at the time, it would actually go up to zero). This was the basis for one of the most broken characters of all time which used this, an infinite damage loop, a spell that prevented death (at least from hit point damage) for a specific period of time, combined with a whole host of spells that added benefits per x amount of damage you took. It was named the Omniscificer. What this ignored was that by the same technicality, getting out of the water doesn't stop you from drowning.

  • Lampshaded (like everything else) in Adventurers! in the showdown with Eternion, where the "Grief Impulse" reduces Ardam's HP to 1 and and — visibly staggered — he calls him on how that wouldn't have worked on anyone he couldn't reduce to a crater with "a mere glance. Why would you ever need it?!".
  • The Eater of Dreams in Captain SNES: The Game Masta has the Living Nightmare attack, which reduces everyone's HP to one and heals himself for the damage dealt. He cruelly uses it to foist a no-win situation on Lucca.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The vampire cleric Malack has Harm, and it works just like it does in the source material. He uses it on Nale at one point and very nearly does the classic "kill with Scratch Damage" follow-up with a quickened attack, with Nale only surviving because the latter dodged the second attack and used his next turn to beat a hasty retreat.
    • This is also how Nale dies, with Malack once again bringing his HP to 1 with Harm, followed up by Nale's father Tarquin stabbing him with a dagger for 1d4 points of damage.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): HP To One


Time Compression

The Time Empress's Time Compression move brings the entire team's HP to 1.

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Main / HPTo1

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