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The Hero is fighting against the Giant Mook. You'd expect the two to just try and punch the living daylights out of each other, but usually what tends to happen is a lot of not doing that.

Villains with super strength often just use it to throw heroes across the room instead of caving in their ribcage with a single body blow. Villains trained in martial arts will execute unnecessary jumps and spins that give heroes plenty time to dodge when they could've gone for a simple kick or uppercut.

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Of course, the usual (Doylist) explanation is a combination of Rule of Cool and Rule of Drama. Seeing characters use superpowers to throw people across rooms or do fancy martial arts is much more interesting than a brawl, and if the villain actually does just hit him and it works, well there's the end of your story.

Also note that doesn't mean that in a fight scenario all everyone should ever do is hand and leg combat. The power of grappling and wrestling was widely demonstrated over many striking styles in the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and a good slam, throw or hold can be quite damaging to the victim.

See Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him? for relevant Stock Phrases. Compare Bond Villain Stupidity. Contrast Wrestler in All of Us, particularly its subtropes Meteor Move, Spinning Piledriver and Suplex Finisher, where throws are genuinely dangerous. Contrast Once Is Not Enough when the hero KO's the villain and then chooses to flee instead of finishing him off.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The telekinetic version of this is averted in Elfen Lied, where it would take a miracle to stop Lucy from just snapping your head off from the get-go.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Ryouko decides to kill Kyon with a knife, despite being able to control everything in the area, including the victim's movements. The attack could have been much easier if a more supernatural approach was taken, but that would probably defeat the purpose: Ryouko wanted it to look like a normal killing to see how Haruhi would react to the death of a friend, not to see how Haruhi would react to the suspicious or outright supernatural death of a friend. This is supported by the fact that the fight with Yuki was notably more supernatural, since the intent was simply to win.
  • The psychic version appears on a massive scale in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The Anti-spirals are able to warp across the universe and summon a mecha the size of a galaxy, but decide to eliminate the humans by making the moon crash into the Earth over the course of several days, and even alert the people to this.
    • Somewhat justifiable due to their methodology — the Anti Spirals' routine is to kill through the Hope Spot, and the Colony Drop scenario had some escape hatches (that the anti-spirals had mostly welded shut, Simon notwithstanding.)
  • Naruto:
    • Gaara's fight with Rock Lee during the Chunin exams is rife with this, although it's justifiable by claiming that Gaara wasn't taking Lee very seriously and just toying with him for half the fight. When he finally gets a grip after taking him seriously, his first act is to pulverize Lee's limbs.
    • Similarly completely averted when he's fighting Deidara, as he sends his sand flying right towards him and rips off his arm the second he touches him.
  • A heroic example in Penguin Musume Heart has the title character gigantic and naked, and her opponent slightly bigger than usual and naked (or she just lost her clothes and was no bigger.) Title character proceeds to scream "how cute" and rubs her opponent against her face. Opponent goes on to bite her way out of the title characters' grip and jump away. And then they argue over the Power of Love, which results in said opponent eventually becoming gigantic too. Then again, Penguin's kinda dumb so oh well.
  • The psychic version is frequently averted in Darker Than Black, where most of the Contractors are incredibly direct with offensive use of their power. For example, a Contractor with the ability to switch two objects via teleportation kills someone by switching their heart for a rock, another one can teleport whatever is covered by his blood so he just splatters it on people and rips them apart, and another that can freeze any water he touches will just freeze the water in your body and kill you or impale you with an icicle (he even has a partner that can cover the area in water, letting him do it from a distance).
  • Nico Robin in One Piece completely avoids this: her power is to sprout arms on any surface, and if she ever gets serious, the first thing she tries to do is snap her opponent's spine (most important enemies still find a way to avoid losing this way).
  • In Digimon Frontier, Mercuremon has an attack called Generous Mirror that reflects an attack to the attacker while Mercuremon remains unharmed. He uses this once to defeat a very powerful digimon. He might as well apply for the Big Bad position and repel any opponent with Generous Mirror but he doesn't do it.
    • When he lost his humanoid form, and thus this ability, it was a plan to learn all the heroes' attacks for his beast form but with more power behind them. This would have worked if the heroes had not figured out that using Combination Attacks completely new type of attack and thus he couldn't counter it.
  • The Pokémon anime is probably one of the worst offenders there is. Characters will regularly call for their mon to throw the opponent into the air. Then again, it often works, usually due to the thrown Pokémon ignoring an ability they could have used to ease the impact.
  • Justified and subverted in Holyland. Iwado is a judoka, so it makes sense that he would be better at throwing than striking. At the same time, it's shown that getting hurled into a concrete wall or onto asphalt can be as fight-ending as a good strike combo. Also inverted in the fight against Taka, where at one point Yuu closes on his foe and the narration notes that he could have ended the fight right there had he used a grab or throw rather than trying to strike.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha works, characters can apparently be slammed through multiple floors of a concrete building without significant loss of combat capability, but are somehow threatened by melee strikes.

    Comic Books 
  • Occurs in issue #4 of The Awesome Slapstick. During the Neutron Bum's explosive rampage, The New Warriors, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, the Fantastic Four, and The Avengers were trying to formulate a proper attack plan. Slapstick simply went to a coffee shop, bought a cup of coffee, gave it to the bum, than knocked him out in mid-sip.
  • Averted in the Batman story-arc Knightfall when Bane breaks Batman's back.
  • Also averted in Sin City. Marv, Manute, and other large characters usually just punch or kick. It always looks painful too.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Arachnophobia, the spiders are repeatedly shown to have venom that kills instantly with just a small bite anywhere, and they frequently bite the very moment they land on their target. In the climax, thousands of these spiders are swarming over the hero's house and quite a few land on him, but even the "Queen" and "General" that are guarding their egg sac never bother to bite him.
  • Terminator Salvation has two separate fights involving an unarmed Terminator fighting John Connor, and despite being a killer robot with extensive knowledge of human anatomy, repeatedly throws Connor far away and thus gives him the time to pull out a weapon. One of them has no legs, thus making throwing him doubly stupid.
  • Jaws from the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and the game Everything or Nothing is fond of this tactic.
  • The Russian hitman from The Punisher (2004) was also an offender.
  • The two hitmen sent to kill Jackie Chan in First Strike (aka Police Story 4) decide they want to 'have some fun' with Jackie before they kill him. And how do burly Russian hitmen have fun? Throwing people across the room!
  • "Super Shredder," the mutated form of Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, becomes a victim and casualty of the Just Hit Him phenomenon, going so far as to cause his own undoing because of it. Justified because the Ooze that Shredder uses to become Super Shredder was contaminated; use of it caused the mutated being to become stupid. So Super Shredder literally is not smart enough to realize that punching out the wooden pillars under the docks to get to the Turtles is NOT a good idea.
  • Subverted in the Subway Showdown in The Matrix, in which Smith throws Neo across the room a lot, but also pins Neo to the wall and punches him silly.
  • In Constantine when John confronts the demon Balthazar, he's held up against the wall by his neck and slowly choked, giving John plenty of time to reach into his jacket pocket and pull out his holy-knuckle-dusters. In this case though, Balthazar was taking his time to gloat, and got a fist full of holy for his troubles.
  • Particularly egregious in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where the slave-driving Giant Mook fails to take advantage of Indy's frequent and painful immobilization via knife to Voodoo Doll.
  • In Hot Fuzz both fights involving Giant Mook Michael Armstrong are prominent examples of this. Possibly justified as the "trolley boy" was stated to have the mind of a child — a child who does whatever the Big Bad tells him, but a child none the less
  • The movie The Sidehackers has a baffling good guy example. Upon infiltrating the villain's camp, the big guy, Big Jake stealths his way over to one guard and silently snaps his neck. So far, so good. He then tries to do the same thing to another guard but the guard notices him. Big Jake runs over and instead of killing the mook before he can make too much noise, inexplicably grabs him by the lapels and holds him up against the wall, while he sets off enough of a holler to attract another mook who fills Big Jake with buckshot.
  • Mewtwo from Pokémon: The First Movie is the psychic version of this. Ash running towards him ready to sock him? Just levitate and launch into the nearby stone tower! That doesn't exactly work, however...
  • Lampshaded in The Princess Bride (the movie if not the book). Fezzik doesn't want to kill Westley right away because he hates for people to die embarrassed. He mentions during the fight that he's really much more experienced fighting large groups than just one man, explaining that one uses very different tactics and moves against a dozen men.
  • In the climatic battle with The Dragon in Die Hard with a Vengeance, John McClane does get the shit kicked out of him, a lot in fact, but then The Dragon decides that throwing him around is more fun, and then mocks him. John promptly turns the tables and kicks his ass (with a chain!).
  • I, Robot: in a fight with Spooner, an NS-5 robot just throws him about a bit; even with one arm missing, it could have done better.
  • In Chronicle, Andrew would have succeeded in killing his abusive father had he just did a telekinetic dismemberment or such rather than drop him from height, which allowed Matt to save the man. Justified by Andrew's mental state at that point.
  • In Underworld: Awakening, Selene, the heroine faces against an uber-werewolf twice the size of a car. He swats her around like an unwanted toy, but never thinks to just pin her down and dismember her. It's especially notable as almost every other lycan in the series has literally gone straight for the jugular the first chance they get.
  • Megamind makes use of this trope. When he's grabbed and about to get finished by his super-powered yet dumb nemesis Titan, he taunts him (with a massive dose of Brutal Honesty), and, instead of ripping him apart or melting his face with Eye Beams, an angered Titan tosses him across the square, right next to Megamind's invisible car containing the depowering device. A minute later, Titan grabs and throws Megamind yet again, this time several hundred meters up, expecting that the fall would kill him, but instead it just gives Megamind enough time to save himself and get a surprise attack and for the depowering device to fully charge up.
  • Pacific Rim: Humanity builds giant robots to fight giant monsters hand-to-hand, but they sure do spend a lot of time throwing them around into deep water.
  • Overlord (2018): After the Big Bad Wafner gains Super Strength, he spends a lot of the film simply tossing Americans around rather than breaking their bones with punches.
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    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Star Trek, Captain Kirk once fought an alien lizard that successfully caught him in a snare, pinning him under a rock. With Kirk totally helpless, the alien bizarrely decides to lift the rock and then try stabbing him, giving Kirk the opportunity to escape.
  • Supernatural:
    • The demons are pretty bad about the telekinetic version of this. They have repeatedly slammed Sam and Dean against walls and have demonstrated that they can slice people open telekinetically, but they always seem to cause only superficial wounds while taunting the boys until they lose their advantage. You'd think they'd know better by now.
    • Similarly, super-strong monsters like to throw our heroes against walls instead of breaking a limb to immobilize them, or caving in their ribcage.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Boss monsters in tend to throw Buffy or her friends into walls instead just ripping their heads off. (Adam comes to mind. Also the goddess Glory, and The Judge, and the Turok-Han uber-vampires, and...) No matter what superpowers or magic spells the bad guys have, or if they're technically immune to damage, the final fight boils down to a martial arts duel between them and Buffy. Buffy is occasionally allowed to use a special weapon (like the rocket launcher used to kill the demon called The Judge), provided that weapon is the only way she can hurt the Big Bad.
    • For that matter, Buffy herself spends a lot of time throwing mooks around and punching them to no particular effect, since most of her enemies can only be killed in fairly specific ways. As above, walls and conveniently placed piles of cardboard boxes or dumpsters full of soft, soft trash. Mostly the more human Scoobies landed in the latter, as it is canon that Buffy is very durable.
  • Likewise common in the spinoff series Angel. Television Without Pity mercilessly mocked fourth-season villain The Beast for seemingly not knowing any other offensive moves than throwing people into walls.
  • The superpowered serial killer Sylar from Heroes both plays it straight and subverts the trope: His signature move is to cut open the skulls of his victims, using his telekinesis like an invisible power saw. But at other times (when his opponent is a main character who is supposed to survive), despite the fact that Sylar's telekinesis is strong enough to flip over a driving truck, he uses it simply to hold his opponent up in the air or to fling them into walls instead of breaking their neck, even when he's just trying to kill them and not take their powers.
  • Charmed had a lot of this, even when they had the in-canon power explanation of Leo being able to heal who needed it. -Partly- explained in the typical bad-guy fight involved energy being shot around like gunfire.
  • While no one could describe the throws as "gentle", the sorcerers in Merlin have a habit of using their abilities to throw enemies around which usually only stuns them or knocks them unconscious. While the telekinetic throwing does kill sometimes, it's very inconsistent and such powerful magic users must have a more reliable way to get rid of someone.
  • In the Arrowverse, people with super-strength often just, yep, throw people into walls. Sometimes they'll get one good hit on Flash, which stuns him long enough for them to run away instead of finishing him off.
  • Game of Thrones: In "Hardhome" the White Walker who attacks Jon and Laboda while they're trying to retrieve the Dragonglass kills Laboda in about a second, but then insists on throwing Jon across the room and whacking him with the non-lethal part of his spear instead of stabbing him while his back is turned or while he's defenseless after his weapon is shattered. This gives Jon enough time to retrieve another weapon, one that conveniently can actually kill White Walkers, and win the fight.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for Fall Out Boy's "Centuries," a gigantic gladiator tosses four smaller enemies around like toys with only brief attempts to try anything like a strangulation. While the impact clearly does hurt, it also means that by the time the giant actually picks up an axe to finish his foes, the smaller men have stayed in the game long enough to improvise a sling and bring the big guy down at range.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • According to Yuji Nagata, this is a fundamental step in the Wrestling Psychology of a strong style match. The wrestlers of New Japan Pro-Wrestling would always start off with wrestling to prove they were better conditioned, more technically sound, harder working and more talented than their All Japan counterparts. But inevitably one wrestler would start winning in which the loser would start forearming and kicking him while trying not to lose. It's also downplayed in that a slam, throw, suplex, submission hold or such would often be what finished the match regardless, making it more like "just don't forget you can hit him too".

    Video Games 
  • Both played straight and subverted in Haunting Ground. Debilitas will slap, toss, bearhug, and generally make your life miserable, so long as you aren't all the way into Panic Mode. Then he just hops on top of you and punches you to death.
  • Happens with Big Bob-omb in Super Mario 64, where the boss will only ever try to throw Mario out the arena (a.k.a. off the mountain, although not a massive drop in most cases) and has to be defeated by Mario throwing him to the ground (in the arena). Averted in the DS remake where he actually throws Bob-ombs against Yoshi, although only because Yoshi can't pick up anything in said game.
  • Can be invoked or defied in God Hand depending on what moves you give Gene and both have their uses. When you have God Hand Unleash active you will lay the hurt on much more effectively by using moves that do not knock the target down or away, but when not in Super Mode being able to thin the ranks of the enemies bumrushing you by pushing them away does make a difference.
  • Subverted in Parasite Eve with the Giant Enemy Crab Bonus Boss, who has an attack in which he picks Aya up and slams his claw on her knocking her to one hp. Played straight in Parasite Eve 2 when there is a battle with a slightly more than 2 story tall boss. One of his attacks is to pick Aya up and hold her over his head for a few seconds and then throwing her against a stone wall hard enough to leave a small impact crater. This does a surprisingly small amount of damage compared to how painful it looks.
  • Inverted in Crysis games. Picking someone up and throwing them is always fatal, but even human mooks can survive a couple of punches.
  • Increasingly subverted in Assassin's Creed games.
    • In the first two main titles, throws don't do direct damage unless you toss the guy into a long fall or a fragile scaffold.
    • In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, though, Ezio uses One-Hit Kill throws in certain unarmed assassination animations. By Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio can use a Counter Grab throw in straight combat to One-Hit Kill most enemies.
    • Assassin's Creed III regrettably plays it straight again with two inversion: the Ropebeater and Haytham counter all of Connor's strikes and can only be defeated by luring them near tables, and Connor slams them into those tables to hurt them.
  • Dragons in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim have a grab move that is instantly fatal and will be inflicted automatically on the player if their health drops low enough. Giants, meanwhile, don't bother grabbing you. They just punt you into orbit.
    • Draugr Death Lords are highly fond of hitting you with the Unrelenting Force shout, which just knocks you around instead of doing damage. However, this can be very troublesome to the player, as they have to spend several seconds getting back to their feet (with a very slow animation) during which they are vulnerable to other attacks.
  • Sickle makes this mistake in Batman: Arkham City. Not too many villains can say "I got the drop on the Dark Knight, had my hand around his throat, was choking him to death, and he wasn't able to get free even though he was trying like hell." Almost any villain with a shred of pride would be embarrassed to admit "And then I threw him across the room, allowing him to catch his breath, get back on his feet, and kick my ass."
  • The infamous battle with Silver the Hedgehog in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) inverts this, as he can instantly and unavoidably catch Sonic in his telekinesis and throw him into a nearby wall, possibly catching Sonic in an endless loop of grabbing him the instant he lands on the ring that he loses from hitting the wall. The only time it's safe to attack is when he foregoes throwing in order to pick stuff up to hit you with.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception: during a fight on a plane, a Giant Mook catches Drake, pins him against the wall... and, for no apparent reason, decides to open up the cargo bay in mid-flight and throw Drake out. Drake manages to get free and uses a parachute attached to the cargo to hurl a truck into the mook's face. Which accidentally brings down the whole plane.
  • When the titular Nemesis from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis grabs you, he'll either throw you to the ground (which drains about a quarter of your health), or sprout a tentacle that impales you and kills you instantly if you don't tap buttons fast enough. He's more likely to impale you the lower your health is, and if you're already in danger when he grabs you all the button mashing in the world won't save you. In his second form, he'll attempt to trip you up and pull you close, and if he manages, his next move, which consists of a slam to the ground followed by tossing you on a high arc over his shoulder, hurts more than any of his direct strikes.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online, like most of the Beat 'em Up genre, contains very damaging throwing techniques (against anything which can actually be thrown). And as most grabs (not just player-initiated) include an autoaimed, super-armor-equipped dash to the enemy, they're also rather safe. Long strike-focused combos still usually win out in damage. But there does exist one (telekinetic) throw which true to this trope can toss an opponent fifty feet onto their back and is guaranteed to not hurt at all. And against the spirit of this trope it's an invaluable asset... once you start having to hit targets in order with ugly consequences for even scratching something before its time. (Something which may well be trying to get hit by you.)
  • Scarecrow's super move in Injustice 2 has him grow to a giant size, grab the opponent, and... slam them against the ground a few times. This would normally be lethal, but in this setting, everyone has Super Toughness equal to Superman's thanks to Applied Phlebotinum, meaning that the attack, though pretty painful, is still survivable. Considering his size, it would be pretty easy for him to just bite their head off, or snap them in half. Then again, this unrealistic attack can be justified by the fact that fights against Scarecrow are actually hallucinations caused by his fear gas.

    Web Animation 
  • The Meta is afflicted with this in Red vs. Blue Revelations Episode 20. After Sarge's Unflinching Walk, Meta swats Sarge's shotgun away with his right arm, grab's Sarge's throat, holds him up and... doesn't do anything else while Sarge manages to commune a secret message to Grif and attaches the Warthog's tow cable hook to the Meta's torso. Still, more preferable than Tex's fate in the previous episode.

    Web Original 
  • Justified in Worm, where the Manton Effect prevents most parahumans from using their powers directly on living beings. Also averted in that those who aren't constrained by it can and do use their powers direct to very lethal effect.
    Lisa: "... the Manton effect is why most telekinetics can’t just reach into your chest and crush your heart. Most people who can create forcefields can’t create one through the middle of your body and cut you in two.

    Western Animation 
  • Much like Deadly Dodging on Spidey's part, Just Hit Him was thoroughly exercised by various supervillains and superheroes alike on Spider-Man: The Animated Series due to the fact that the network suits didn't allow anyone to throw punches. Try to imagine the otherwise badass Kingpin or Venom being limited to picking up Spidey, then lightly dropping him again and proceeding to pronounce how invincible and deadly they truly are. To be fair, Kingpin is known for handing out spine-crunching bear hugs to his opponents, and despite this handicap, Venomis still scary as hell.
  • Also comes up in The Spectacular Spiderman; in his first fight with the web-head, Rhino repeatedly grabs him and throws him away. This is after it has already been made abundantly clear to both of them that Spidey is a (relatively) Fragile Speedster while Rhino is a Mighty Glacier, and that the fight would be over immediately if Rhino just kept hold of him and tore him apart. Averted later, when Silvermane has Spidey in a bear hug. Even when blinded, he doesn't let go and opts just to crush Peter.
  • X-Men had this trope pretty hard, too. Despite Wolverine having a trope he's known for, he wasn't allowed to do anything worse than body-check human or mutant opponents. Robots and monsters were still fair game for dismemberment, though. This trope was espcially noticeable given that there wasn't a restriction against bad guys hitting Wolverine, and in once notable instance in the early episodes he was taken out of commission by a brutal on-screen clawing from Sabertooth.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Both played straight and averted in the episode "Kidnapped". Darts D'nar is fighting an unarmed Obi-Wan Kenobi, and throws Obi-Wan across the room a number of times when it probably would've been more effective to just start beating the hell out of him right where they were. But at other times during the fight Darts does beat on him, and choke him, and pick him up only to slam him onto the floor, etc.
  • Thanks to censorship, this applied to most of the bare-handed fights in Superfriends. Skewered by Seanbaby here.
    The cartoon's No Punching Rule was harder on Grundy than it was for the other villains. Most of them still had things they could throw or gadgets they could push buttons on. If you take away Solomon Grundy's ability to punch, he's as useless as a first base coach. The only thing he could do during a fight is something we called the "Grab Attack" as kids. It was a complicated move where he grabbed the other guy until they pulled free or shoved him off. Sometimes they waited until he carried them around a little bit. You might have inadvertently used this same move on your kitten or a bag of groceries. Just remember, every time you're carrying a case of beer to the hooker in your car, you're kicking as much ass as Solomon Grundy, and that's not even counting when you punch the hooker.
  • Common in Danny Phantom. Although Danny has intangibility, it doesn't always prevent him from leaving cracks in all the walls the villains like to throw him into.

    Real Life 
  • In the early days of MMA, wrestlers proved to be very good at controlling the fight by tossing their opponents to the ground and holding them there helpless, but they couldn't do anything to finish the fight because they were so conditioned by their wrestling training to not throw strikes. This led to some very long and frustrating early UFC fights, particularly from Dan Severn. Ultimately Severn started to learn to incorporate strikes into his arsenal, and fellow wrestler Mark Coleman is credited with championing the "ground and pound" style.

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