So we all like punching people in the face, right? But the problem with that is sometimes access to your opponent's face is blocked by the back of their head. The solution: tap your target on the shoulder or otherwise get his attention, causing him to turn around, exposing his precious, punchable face. Ahh, sweet satisfaction!
This is also an exception to the "dishonor" of attacking someone from behind.
It may or may not be a knockout blow as it will just as often lead to a Fight Scene as it will to an instant knock out. It is also evenly split between being taken seriously and played straight for laughs. If the target doesn't go down, it usually leads to Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh....
- The Rollo ad in which a brat kid offers a baby elephant his last Rollo sweet and then eats it himself. Years later he's watching a circus parade when a trunk taps him on the shoulder, then the now fully-grown elephant whacks him across the face. An elephant never forgets...
- In Full Metal Panic!, Sôsuke does this to the head of the Amateur Karate Club when he is busy flirting with Kaname. Not to be confused with jealousy: they were in the middle of a fight and if he won, the club would vacate the club house so it could be demolished.
- Cowboy Bebop
- Jet uses this trope on a pair of thugs in the pilot episode, only instead of his fist, he smashes a beer bottle into the first thug's face, then threatens to jab the now jagged end into the second thug's eye.
- Faye invokes this trope successfully and captures the Teddybear Bomber as a result.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, this is how Negi introduced himself to Tosaka, upon discovering him hurting his students.
- In Dragon Ball, #16 does this to Cell. Then again with a Rocket Punch.
- Ennis in Baccano! pulls a classic shoulder-tap-to-face-punch combo on one of Dallas' buddies.
- In Digimon Adventure Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon pull this on Piedmon before blasting him into the Gate of Destiny.
- Cromartie High School seems to like this trope. Of particular mention is Kamiyama's use of this against Hayashida, especially since Hayashida is probably his best friend at Cromartie, he has only ever hit someone once in his life, and that he achieves the effect with a slap (prompting a somewhat girly shriek from Hayashida).
- In the anime version of X-Men, Wolverine punches the crap out of Cyclops, which is followed by a What the Hell, Hero? rant from Wolvie.
- In Death Note when L is complaining that he's depressed and unmotivated with the Kira case now that it looks like Light isn't Kira. The following Ensues: Light gets L's attention, L turns around, Light punches him hard in the face.
- GaoGaiGar features what may be one of the most epic examples:
- At one point in Attack on Titan, the Female Titan hears a roar and the sound of rapid footsteps. She turns around in confusion just in time to take a punch to the face from the Rogue Titan.
- Sin City: Marv to Manute, "Hey, you're the one who hurt my pal!". Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
- The Savage Dragon has tapped people on the shoulder before pummeling them more than once.
- Asterix: Used throughout Asterix and the Goths at the Gaul/Germany border.
- At one point in Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, Serenity gets boarded by Jubal Early, the Psycho for Hire Bounty Hunter from "Objects in Space" who threatened to rape Kaylee. As before he captures most of the crew, but then:
Early: I'm forgetting someone. There was one more. Crowded ship, hard to keep track. But no. There was one more.
Kaylee: [comes up behind him] The mechanic. [clobbers him with a pipe wrench]
- Aladdin and the King of Thieves:
- Jasmine first taps the shoulder on one of the forty thieves who attacked the royal palace, and then knocks him out cold, much to the shock of the other gawking thieves.
- Aladdin does it in the same movie to Saluk.
- Title character of Megamind pulls this on his nemesis with a Humongous Mecha. Doesn't have much effect, though.
- The Transformers: The Movie gives us this short but dramatic exchange.
Galvatron: [trying to bait Hot Rod into the open] Come out, Autobot! We all must die sometime.
Hot Rod: [appearing from behind] Not today, Galvatron! [sucker-punches Galvatron when he turns around, then drives off]
- In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Black Canary uses a variation, whispering "Wanna hear a secret?" to get one of the Made Men's attention just before hitting him with a point-blank sonic blast.
- A Boom, Headshot! version of this happens in King of New York.
- Towards the climax of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Raph yells "Hey, mac!" to a guard. When said guard turns around, Raph cold-cocks him and tells him to "take the rest of the day off."
- In The Dark Knight:
- Also done in Batman (1989):
Batman: Excuse me. [Joker's eyes glance towards Batman] Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
- It's also done completely straight in Black Knight, a completely unrelated movie.
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Professor Browne gets the tap-on-shoulder version from a pair of gloves during the Substitutiary Locomotion song.
- Indiana Jones does this to SS Colonel Vogel in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Indy: Tickets, please. [beats up the SS officer and throws him out of the zeppelin, to the astonished looks of the other passengers] No ticket!
- James Bond:
- In the opening scene of Diamonds Are Forever a Cairo gambler tells the dealer, "Hit me." Bond taps him on the shoulder, then obliges.
- Tomorrow Never Dies:
- Another funny example, where Bond sneaks up behind a Mook, lights up a cigarette for him, then punches him out, saying, "Filthy habit." Possibly a Shout-Out to the fact that Pierce Brosnan was (at the time) the first Bond actor not to smoke on screen (unless you count Die Another Day).
- And again in the same movie, except without a lighter; he merely pantomimes lighting the cigarette.
- GoldenEye: "Beg your pardon. Forgot to knock."
- In The Abyss, Catfish ends the fight between Bud and Coffey with one of these, complete with Over Crank. The fight began with Bud trying this unsuccessfully.
- In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Kelly does this to a Velociraptor before kicking it out a window to its death.
- In 10 Things I Hate About You, previously mellow Bianca does this to Joey, combining it with And This Is for...: "That's for making my date bleed, that's for my sister, and that's for me!"
- In My Cousin Vinny, Vinny knocks a guy flat on his back after getting tired of posturing when he sees him again.
- In V for Vendetta Evey does this to a policeman who's pointing a gun at V. Except that she doesn't punch, she uses pepper spray...and then gets knocked out by the policeman's flailing.
- In Peter Jackson's horror/comedy The Frighteners, Frank Bannister distracts the Grim Reaper from choking the life out of his Love Interest with a "Hey. Asshole." In this case, however, he "punches" it — repeatedly — with bullets from an ethereal machine gun.
- Mortal Kombat:
Johnny Cage: Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!
- Sirius Black does this to Lucius Malfoy in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- A variation occurs in Race with the Devil. Roger calls out to one of the cultists on the roof of the RV, causing him to stand up and get creamed by the overpass.
- Sean, the protagonist of The Monster Squad, pulls a variation of this. The wolf man is attacking his father, who was planning to blow up Dracula with Dynamite. Lit the fuse and everything. As he's getting his ass kicked, Sean comes up behind him and goes "Hey, asshole!" The wolfman turns to face him and Sean then says "You looked." and hits him in the face with a SHOVEL. At which point his father gets in on the act, shoves the still lit dynamite down the wolf man's trousers and pushes him out the window just in time for the dynamite to go off. The wolf man comes back, though.
- Shane Falco of The Replacements (2000) pulls one on the man he's replacing, Martel, after the replacement players' first (and only) loss. Notable for his spin on the trope: Falco and Martel had been discussing the replacements' fitness as players, particularly the fact that one of their receivers is deaf. One of the replacement defenders shouts, commanding both Martel's and Falco's attention, and Falco uses a Brick Joke to signal to the former SWAT officer that shit's about to hit the fan. Then Falco then says "Hey, Martel" and delivers the first punch of a Bar Brawl.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jessica does it to Eddie while at the site of Acme's murder.
Jessica: Mr. Valiant? [Eddie turns around; Jessica slaps him across the face] I hope you're proud of yourself, and those pictures you took!
- In Animal House, Otter gets revenge on the Omega who was in charge of beating him up earlier, then immediately lampshades the trope.
Otter: Hey Greg, look at my thumb! [he holds up his hand in a thumbs-up gesture, and Greg looks; Otter knocks him out] Geez, you're dumb!
- In The Brady Bunch Movie, when the Jerkass big man on campus Doug calls Marcia a slut for not wanting him and is about to choke her date Charlie out for standing up for her, her (lesbian and half his size) friend Maureen says, "Hey, Doug. How 'bout a nice punch?" and lays him out with a single knock to the face. Unfortunately for her, Marcia assumed Charlie did it, leaving her heartbroken, but things work out for her in the end.
- The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden does this in Ghost Story to a Giant Mook near the climax. Made extra special that Harry was still dead at the time and it was the first thing he did after willing himself back into a physical body.
- In an early BattleTech novel that first introduced the Clans, the stubborn but dedicated heir-apparent Victor Davion refuses to leave his men behind on a planet when he is personally ordered to evacuate his royal self in the face of Clan invasion. The solution to get Victor to comply is for his aide-de-camp to get his attention suddenly, turn him around, and knock him out with a punch to the jaw. This scene was also animated in the BattleTech cartoon.
- In the Drenai saga, Waylander does this when the Dark Brotherhood knight who's been torturing him with mind control gets distracted and briefly looks the other way. Or rather, Waylander being a confirmed Combat Pragmatist, it's more a case of 'Hey You Knife-through-the-eye-socket'.
- Not quite a haymaker, but in 24 Jack Bauer gets a guard's attention from below with a "Hey" before capping him in the face.
- In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Face My Enemy", Coulson does this to a member of security guarding a room he needs to infiltrate.
- Hatter from Alice is very fond of this. His particular "hey you" is a jaunty whistle before he introduces the unlucky subject of his ire to the sledgehammer that is his right hand.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Humourous Subversion in the season 5 episode "Family" when Tara thinks she's part demon. Spike walks up behind her and taps her on the shoulder; when she turns around he lightly punches her in the nose, and his chip activates, revealing that Tara's pure human.
- He plays this trope straight a few episodes before: having failed to find Buffy, Harmony and her minions are returning to their lair. One of the minions says that he's going to hang out for a while and look for some action — cue an off-screen Spike tapping him on the shoulder before punching him in the face.
Spike: Happy to oblige.
- The Coroner: In "Capsized", Judith taps a thug who has just beaten up Davey on the shoulder, and then delivers a Groin Attack as he turns around.
- Doctor Who:
- The Brigadier does it in "The Five Doctors", as the Master is holding the Doctors at gunpoint (well, technically TCE-point) but ignoring the humans. The Brig taps him on the shoulder and socks him in the jaw as he turns around, saying "Nice to see you again!" as he does so.
- Colonel Mace pulls this with a gun in "The Poison Sky", shouting out to his opponent before shooting him dead:
Mace: You will face me, sir!
- This gem from "The Big Bang":
The Doctor: All of creation has just been wiped from the sky. D'you know how many lives have now never happened, all the people who never lived? Your girlfriend isn't more important than the whole universe.
Auton-Rory: [turns the Doctor around and punches him] SHE IS TO ME!
- In "Thin Ice", this is the Twelfth Doctor's response to Lord Sutcliffe racially abusing Bill, complete with shoulder-tap.
- Played with in one episode:
Mal: [in response to an insult against the Browncoats] You want to say that to my face?
Drunk: [turning to face him] I said you're a coward and a piss-pot. Now what're you going to do about it?
Mal: Nothing. I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind you.
[Zoe hits the guy from behind]
Mal: Drunks are so cute.
- Simon finds himself on the receiving end of one in The Pilot. Then he returns the favor in Serenity.
- Played with in one episode:
- In Flash Gordon, the title character taps a Mook on the shoulder and knocks him out when he turns his head.
- Get Smart inverts this with Agent 99. By this time, she and Max are near the point of marrying each other, so Max sometimes approaches her from behind to do sweet things. Unfortunately, her spy training means she immediately responds with a turn-around haymaker. Which usually results in Max getting decked and 99 apologizing for it.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Barney tries to pull one of these on Marshall's friend Brad when he follows him and Robin to a hockey game and sees them kiss. It doesn't faze Brad much so Barney immediately begins cowering and trying to talk his way out of the anticipated retaliation (which doesn't come, Brad is a chill guy).
- He also lays one on Ted in "The Fight" (to give him a convincing black eye that would make it look like they had actually been in the fight)
- Inspector George Gently: Gently delivers one to a rapist and murderer in "Gently With the Women".
- Similar to the 24 example above, Justified's Boyd Crowder whistles to attract the attention of a guard so he can shoot him in the forehead.
- Eliot does this on a plane to subdue a security employee who is tailing an accountant that has a hit on her.
- In the episode before that, he uses a similar tactic on a meth-head gangster:
Elliot: What smells like crank and screams like a little girl?
[Elliot kicks the gangster's knee out of joint; gangster Screams Like a Little Girl]
- He also tries to do this to a guy spying on the team, but the guy turns out to be a better fighter and responds with his own punch, starting a beatdown on Elliot.
- In Married... with Children, this is known as the "Bundy Special".
- The New Avengers: Gambit does this to O'Hara in "The Gladiators" when he finds O'Hara scoping out the bad guys' escape route. He taps him on the shoulder and then slugs him on the jaw as he turns round.
- In Scrubs, Dr. Cox does this to Dr. Kelso. It was a long time coming, and Dr. Kelso was being more of a jerk than usual, even singling out one of the residents to bully.
- In Smallville, episode "Bizarro", like the Justice League example below, Clark tapped Bizarro on the shoulder before Megaton Punching him in the face.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- This is how Worf introduces himself to a Klingon Jerkass causing trouble in Quark's bar in "The Way of the Warrior":
Worf: You are Drex, son of Martok!
Drex: [turns around] That's right!
Worf: I am Worf, son of Mogh. [PUNCH!]
- In the episode "In the Pale Moonlight", Sisko doesn't even bother to say anything before belting Garak across the face.
- This is how Worf introduces himself to a Klingon Jerkass causing trouble in Quark's bar in "The Way of the Warrior":
- Either played straight or averted in wrestling. For example, a cowardly heel will often strike his enemy from behind rather than spin them around and punch them; if they do spin them around, it'll be to do their finisher. Faces (good guys) aren't above attacking from behind either, but a lot of faces will spin their opponent around to attack them when they can. For a comedic effect or just to look awesome, a face will wait for the opponent to turn around before destroying them.
- Randy Orton actually has a subversion (aversion?) of this: His European uppercut actually causes him and his opponent to spin away from each other. Also, a few of his RKOs are performed this way (he'll either spin them or tap them lightly). Once they turn around, it's game over.
- The Rock, John Cena, and countless other famous faces will turn their opponent around to land one massive punch on their faces. Although one hilarious example that doesn't involve the usual formula...
- Captain MacMillan does this to a guard in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare .
- One of the execution scenes with the hatchet in Manhunt.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, one of Adam Jensen's non-lethal takedowns is tapping his victim on the shoulder, then slugging them in the face to knock them out cold. It returns in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
- Stealth takedowns when performed from behind do this in Metro: Last Light.
- The Playa delivers one to Tanya after having her lead him to where Johnny Gat is being held in Saints Row.
- One of the stealth takedowns in Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre.
- A hilarious one happens in Detroit: Become Human. When he sees that FBI Agent Perkins has come to take over the case, Hank doesn't waste anytime attacking him, calling his name and slugging him. Given that what type of person Perkins is, it is totally refreshing to watch him slug Perkins. Also, it serves a story purpose. This allows Connor some time to go down to the evidence room and figure out where Jericho is.
- John in Demonology 101 always wanted to do one.
- In Goblins:
Big-Ears: It just occurred to me that I'm not comfortable attacking someone from behind.
Orc: HISSSSSSS [spins around]
Big-Ears: Thank you. [axes it in the face]
- Roy in The Order of the Stick, strip #771.
Roy: Excuse me. I just wanted to let you you know that this in no way reflects my views on the differently-abled.
Geoff: Hu? What do you—
- Mecha Maid does one to Greta Gravity in Spinnerette.
- Nosirrah in Supernormal Step.
Nosirrah: Excuse me.
Jim T. Black, Beater of Beasts, Manhandler of Monsters: [turns toward voice] Oh what now.
Nosirrah: [punches Jim in the face hard enough to make him spit blood] Now me.
- Suburban Knights: Film Brain and Luke to a Cloak. "EXPECTO MY FIST!"
- Idiotsitter: Billie gets two of these in "Fight Day". First, she wakes up and Gene's standing over her. She says, "Happy Ocho de Octo" before whacking her with a therapy bat and then punching her in the face. Then while Billie's brushing her teeth, Tansy says "Morning" and whacks her in the back. Its averted the third time as Mr. Russel just whacks her in the face (sending her falling hard to the floor) and runs away, shouting "Happy Ocho de Octo!"
- In the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited, Superman does this to Darkseid, literally tapping him on the shoulder to get him to turn around before clobbering him.
Superman: Excuse me. [WHAM!]
- Done by a disgruntled Frankie on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
- Batman does this to a mook at the beginning of "The Fate of Equinox!" At the end, Batman does it again, to Equinox, while they're both the size of skyscrapers.
- Batman also does this to the Creature King in the crossover with Space Ghost.
- Batman tries to do this to Dr. Sivana, but as the Mad Scientist is currently empowered by Shazam's lightning, it fails to do anything.
- From the Green Lantern episode of Duck Dodgers, Kilowog does this with a "Ah, 'scuse me, pardon me" to a Mecha-Mook.
- A supremely pissed-off Kim Possible does this to Drakken in So the Drama, angry that he used Synthodrone 901 to play her.
Drakken: But I discovered Kim Possible's weakness: Boys, boys, boys! "Who should I go to the dance with, who's the perfect boy?"
Kim: You're right, Drakken. Boys, dating, oh, it's hard. But this is easy. [WHAM!]
- Spider-Man: The New Animated Series features our hero giving one to Electro.
- In Storm Hawks, Aerrow and Piper do this simultaneously to a pair of mooks in "Radarr Love".
- Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus to Dr. Doofenshmirtz, during the extended version of the "Gitchi Gitchi Goo" song.
- In Transformers: Generation 1, Optimus is fond of doing this to Megatron.
Optimus Prime: Hello again, Megatron! [POW]
- The Fairly OddParents!: Abracatastrophe: "Hi mister magic guy! Meet mister FAIRY FIST!"
- Batman does it to a mook on a rooftop in the short pilot/promo that was made for Batman: The Animated Series.
- Futurama does something like this in "I Second That Emotion". One of Bender's arms taps a foe on the shoulder, points in another direction, then the other arm punches said foe in the face.
- The Legend of Korra: "Stay away from my dad's ex-girlfriend!" It's about three thousand times more awesome than it sounds.
- In Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Thing gives one to Namor the Sub-Mariner as he was about to attack Johnny.
Thing: I'm the only one allowed to beat him up!
- In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Feeding Time", when Parasite is distracted with Jimmy Olsen, Superman calls, "Hey Rudy!" and smacks him with a hanging hook.
- The Simpsons episode "Brother From The Same Planet" had a vengeful Bart abuse the Bigger Brother program and get a brother named Tom. When he and Homer (who did his son one better by getting a little brother named Pepe) are at an amusement park with their new brothers and run into each other, Tom warns Bart not to talk to strangers, to which he identifies himself. Now angry, he asks if he's the "drunken gambler" that his son told him about and after he blithely replies that he is, Tom strikes the first blow.