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Immunity Attrition

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Some characters can shrug off whatever their opponent throws at them. Except that doesn't stop their opponent from continuing to try. And wouldn't you know? The more the opponent keeps lashing out, the less effective the character's defense against it becomes, until eventually they go down as easily as anyone else. Looks like their immunity only lasted in the short run, but prolonged exposure still rendered them vulnerable.

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Supertrope to Dented Iron, where the damage a Made of Iron character takes starts to take its toll over the years. Compare and contrast Scissors Cuts Rock.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Pokémon: Episode Fire and Ice, during the battle between Ash's Kingler and Pete's Cloyster, Cloyster closes his shell, rendering Kingler's punches ineffective. Ash however orders Kingler to keep hitting Cloyster, and sure enough, after enough hits, it becomes too much for Cloyster and his shell cracks open.
  • My Hero Academia: When the League of Villains storms the school, they unleash Nomu, a creature designed to counter All Might by being heavily attack-absorbent. However, All Might deduces that Nomu being absorbent doesn't mean completely nullifying, and hammers blow after blow into him faster and more than Nomu can contain.
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  • Played for laughs in One Piece with regards to Magellan: His Devil Fruit makes him mostly immune to poison, and eating it is how he produces the poison he himself releases. Unfortunately, he has to (or chooses to) eat so damn much that it gives him chronic diarrhea.
  • Sonic X: In episode 73, Shadow storms through the heroes' spaceship to pursue Cosmo, handily disposing of any of their attempts to stop him. After a tense fight with Knuckles however, he stands the winner....only to faint in turn, finally succumbing to exhaustion. It's revealed he even had to take off his energy rings to finish Knuckles before he gets back up and continues unfettered. Interestingly the English edit omits this scene entirely, making Shadow seem genuinely unstoppable.
  • In Saint Seiya: Poseidon Saga, the first Mariner Seiya has to fight is Hippocampus Baian, a Barrier Warrior that can deflect Seiya's attacks wwith wind barriers. Very confident in his powers, he can't believe that his barriers are finally broken by Seiya after many attempts, being soon defeated just as Seiya did in the past against Silver Saint Misty, who had a similar fighting style.
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  • Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?: Medhimama uses a spell to make Medhi's classmates fall asleep. Masato isn't affected and explains his armor protects him from status effects. Medhimama simply turns up the power on her spell until it overrides his armor's protection.

Comics

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine: During the events of the Angel & Faith series, Angel calls Spike in to help him deal with Eyghon the Sleepwalker, reasoning that while Eyghon can possess the unconscious or dead, their status as vampires with souls would make them immune, since Angel did defeat Eyghon way back in "The Dark Age" in that manner. However, they're proven wrong; Eyghon has regained his true form and power, and successfully possesses Spike.
  • DC Comics:
    • Kryptonite is highly lethal to Kryptonians, but has no immediate effect on humans. Thus, they can easily handle it without consequences. However, prolonged exposure to Kryptonite will eventually cause aggressive forms of cancer in humans. Lex Luthor discovered this the hard way after years of wearing a kryptonite ring as a protection against Superman.
    • Final Crisis: In The Flash tie-in "Rogues Revenge", after declining Libra's offer to join his army, he created his own version of the Rogues, who eventually battle the original ones without success. The most notable case in which this trope applies is Heat Wave against Burn, Libra's counterpart, which is also a pyromaniac, just like him. When the two fire their weapons at each other, Heat Wave barely sweats and notices to Burn his weapon isn't powerful enough and his suit also of poor quality. It ends with Burn burning to the death.
    • Batman Vampire: Vampires that abstain from human blood become immune to crosses and holy water, which the Joker finds out the hard way when he lures the vampirized Batman into a church filled with crosses as part of a Death Trap. However, Batman soon succumbs to his bloodlust and sucks the Joker dry, losing the immunity within minutes.

Fan Works

  • RWBY: Epic Of Remnant: One unnamed White Fang member has armadillo-like armor, and his Semblance can make his skin turn to rock so it can withstand blades. One of the Oprichniki kills him by hammering away at him with an axe until he breaks.

Films

Literature

  • The Tommyknockers: due to a metal plate in his skull, Jim Gardener is initially unaffected by the alien spaceship, while everyone else around him slowly starts to "become" (mutate into aliens). It also prevents his mind from being read when everyone else gains telepathic powers. But after several weeks of working day in, day out to dig up the ship, and thus being extremely close to the source, Gardener too starts to display the symptoms of "becoming" (like losing his teeth) and realizes it's getting more and more difficult for him to keep the telepaths out of his mind.
  • Played for horror on the Stephen King short story "Night Surf": the teenager pack that is the protagonist of the story survived the rampage of a super-virus called "Captain Trips" and, in the face of the fact that the super-flu has a 100% infection and casualty rate, they only assume that they did so because they were immune. The final couple of paragraphs of the story has them discovering that "Captain Trips" has evolved and their immunity, if they ever really had one, is completely useless.
  • Old Virginia by Laird Barron. Government scientists are studying the titular old crone who is a servant of an Eldritch Abomination, including having her Mind Control Tested on Humans (with often fatal results) until the scientists develop a mental shield that can protect them. Turns out the closer they get to the Eldritch Abomination the more her powers increase, so their technology is useless.

Live-Action TV

  • Jessica Jones (2015) Plays with this trope. Since Jessica grew immune to his mind control powers, Kilgrave eventually tries to invoke this trope by giving himself a power boost in hopes that this will cancel out Jessica's immunity. Unfortunately for him, it fails. Jessica is still immune.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In the episode "Bliss" a telepathic nebula tries to lure the ship into itself so it can eat it. Seven of Nine believes herself to be immune to it because she is a former Borg drone with many cybernetic implants. However, she was only immune to the initial attack because she didn't have the desire to return to Earth that the rest of the crew shared. Once the nebula tried to fool her into thinking something had happened that she did want, i.e. that she had succeeded in escaping it, it turns out that she was as vulnerable as anyone else.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Nate Heywood/Steel is a Chrome Champion who is Immune to Bullets, but even he has limits. In the episode "Freakshow", he is tied up and repeatedly shot at, which appears to strain him and by the end he's begging for it to be over.

Video Games

  • Batman: Arkham Knight: The Scarecrow has developed a partial immunity to his own fear toxin. Keyword "partial" as he can take one dose with no effects, a much larger dosage will cause him to hallucinate his worst fear (a demonic version of Batman) just like everyone else.
  • Star Trek Online: Borg drones will adapt to incoming energy weapons fire after a few hits, but this only reduces incoming damage from that energy type. Even if you don't refrequence your weapons with a cheaply replicateable item, you can still kill the drone with Cherry Tapping.

Web Original

  • Codified by StarDestroyer.net. It is always regarded as possible to simply wear down an enemy with sustained fire; to say otherwise is called the "no limits fallacy".

Western Animation

  • Justice League:
    • In "Wild Cards", Joker has enough of an Insanity Immunity to Ace's mind-destroying stare that she doesn't affect him accidentally like most people. Once Ace finds out Joker was prepared to betray her, she focuses her power deliberately and entirely on him, rendering him seemingly brain-dead (though he does eventually recover).
    • J'onn cannot read Thanagarians' minds—until the situation is critical enough for him to try harder. Though it proves unpleasant for J'onn himself, it turns out much worse for the other guy.
  • Static Shock:
    • Static confronts the Rubberband Man, who is immune to his electrokinetic abilities, and the latter gloats about him apparently being unaware of rubber being an insulator to electrical charges. Static counters that with enough of a charge, even insulators can be overwhelmed. And he proves it...for all of three seconds. He promptly gets stomped on afterwards.
    Static: Let me tell you a little something about electricity. A big enough charge can overload any insulator. (hits Rubberband Man with a huge blast that makes him scream in pain and go flying, but he comes back pissed off) And that one... wasn't big enough.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Cad Bane is intelligent and strong-willed enough to be totally immune to a Jedi Mind Trick during an interrogation. So a second Jedi is brought in; Bane resists, but realizes what they’re trying to do and obviously feels pain from doing so. Then a third Jedi joins and Bane starts really feeling it. He still manages to resist, but doing so nearly tears his mind apart, forcing the Jedi to stop to avoid killing him.
  • Young Justice: Cheshire attacks Aqualad with jellyfish toxin-coated weapons. He says he's "largely immune" to it, but he is slowly weakened with each cut.

Toys

  • BIONICLE: The Pit Mutagen is powerful substance that can mutate any being exposed to it, however organic creatures are affected by it so slowly that the effects are unnoticeable, while Brutaka's species have a slight resistance to the point of changing physical appearances slowly.
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