Follow TV Tropes


Mercy Invincibility

Go To

"But I suddenly scream "Shit!"
Because my guy has just been hit
With my hits points indicator less than full

But it's quite inconsequential
And my wrath will be torrential
For the following one second
I am in-vin-ci-a-ble"
The Gothsicles, "One Second Ghost"

One hallmark of the Platformer is Everything Trying to Kill You, and this killing is usually done by the simple act of touching the player character.

Since this collision is injurious to the player and harmless to the attacker, even if the player is permitted more than one injury before death occurs, he might quickly deplete his entire Life Meter before being able to disentangle himself from the enemy.

As a small mercy, most games that work according to these rules grant the player a small span of invulnerability whenever damage is taken, giving him time to extricate himself before another hit can be taken. This is visually indicated in most games by a Flash of Pain: a partial transparency or flashing of the player sprite. The origin of this effect comes from very early platform games which were released on extremely low-powered systems (such as NES or Atari 2600). Therefore the only visual effect available was to flash the sprite character on and off. Modern systems could do much more, such as surrounding the sprite with a flashing gold halo, but strangely they stick to the same old visuals (which sometimes results in the player unable to see their character). The momentary invulnerability may be substituted for (or coupled with) the player character being physically thrown backward from the point of impact. If the player isn't knocked back and takes different amounts of damage from different attacks, there may be situations where a player can deliberately run into something that deals little damage and use the Mercy Invincibility to run past something more dangerous. This is known as a Damage Boost.

Enemies, particularly bosses, will often have this as a guard against the player Button Mashing and/or rapid fire controllers, which affects the overall length/ease of the fight.

Fighting Games, especially 2D fighters, have a version of Mercy Invincibility where a character receives a couple frames of immunity after they are knocked down. This allows the knocked down player to get up without having to worry about being hit while their character is down. Another, related ability to that is the Recovery Attack, where a character, while not necessarily being invulnerable, may be able to fight back.

A similar function can be found in most games that have Random Encounters. Rather than having a purely random system (which can often lead to encounters at every other step), there will be a built in minimum delay between each encounter. This is to prevent a situation where an encounter at every other step overwhelms the players. More modern games may even give you a coloured indicator that starts flashing as the next random encounter approaches, giving you time to chuck some health potions at your party.

Very common in all kinds of Platformer. Shoot Em Ups also have this, typically after losing a life, giving your new life a chance to position outside of enemy fire. The traditional form of this occurs much less commonly in the First-Person Shooter, though a variant where a player is invulnerable for a brief period after respawning is present in many FPS titles. Many Speed Run strategies exploit these invincibility frames (or "i-frames") for more efficient maneuvering.

Action and Hack and Slash games, on the other hand, have increasingly eschewed this mechanic since the start of The New '10s, to the extent where certain fans of these genres now regard it as a Discredited Trope that encourages button-mashing and sloppy gameplay. Instead, modern games in these genres usually place an emphasis on learning enemy attack patterns and then blocking, countering, or dodging them, with the punishment for failing to learn these patterns being enemies able to rack up multiple hits (and thereby major damage, if not outright slaughtering the player character) in short order.

Compare Invulnerable Attack. Contrast with Cycle of Hurting.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the Mysterious Console DLC, Noni receives a brief instant of invincibility after getting hit by an attack, with nearby enemies unable to deal damage after a few seconds.
  • In Star Control 2: The Ur'quan Masters, an encounter would normally be triggered whenever the player's flagship touched another spaceship on the map screen, but for a short period following an encounter the player was able to pass by any number of ships without another encounter resulting. This prevented an immediate re-encounter with the same ship, but was also useful when the player was being swarmed by dozens of hostile fighters. The encounter-free period was signaled by the non-player ship flickering.
    • However this does not work in the main screen, and is one of the reasons the probe enemies are so dangerous. If the probes are not down by the time you start messing around in Ur-Quan space you can get stuck in a loop very easily of fighting one of the two Ur-Quan, then a probe, then another Ur-Quan.
  • Cave Story - In areas past the Plantation, it is probably the main reason you die at a Nintendo Hard pace instead of a Platform Hell pace.
  • Monster Hunter (PC) grants invincibility for a few seconds by activating the Hunter's medallion, making the Hunter glow and be immune to all monster attacks. He's also invincible after respawning upon death.
  • StarTropics has this, but its sequel does not.
  • Rainbow Islands has an interesting variation: the invincibility granted after you respawn not only makes you invincible, but causes you to kill anything you touch for the duration of your invincibility.
  • Both player characters and enemies alike in Dragon Valor have invincibility after being struck.
  • Goof Troop has invincibility for a second after getting hit, provided that the player has grabbed a fruit before.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Most of the games in the series have this as a mechanic for Link, but not for his enemies. After taking damage, Link cannot take damage again until a specific period of time has elapsed, though this time period is usually quite short.
    • In The Legend of Zelda, both Link and his foes have mercy invincibility, but Link's lasts longer. You can swing your sword as fast as you want, but enemies can't take damage that fast. Thankfully, neither can you, even if standing on top of an enemy who causes Collision Damage.
    • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link has a slight period of invincibility after being hit, but this also comes with being knocked back by the hit. It is rather hard to abuse mercy invincibility to gain distance in this game unless your LIFE stat is absurdly high.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, getting hit causes Link to blink and become invulnerable for a few frames. Useful for saving time and glitching your way past stronger enemies by getting hit by weaker ones. Also invoked when standing on lowered blue/orange blocks if you raise them by hitting a crystal switch... even though this doesn't actually damage you. This was most likely done to prevent the player from being stuck in a solid object. You also get this when you come out of a portal or flute-transport, which is very important since you can easily drop on top of enemies/spikes/whatever.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, some enemies do have mercy invincibility as well, and this depends on how and what items you hit them with. Most enemies can be knocked down with a jump attack, but this also affords them the ability to get back up without being vulnerable to you.
  • In Alundra, mercy invincibility takes three forms. The bosses have the best sort; after being hit, they will flash for up to three seconds during which you can't hurt them again. Alundra himself only gets about a second of invincibility every time he's hit. Regular enemies can be damaged rapidly, but even they have a small time period where successive attacks won't hurt them.
  • In Legacy of the Wizard, you're given a two-second window of invincibility after taking a hit, even after landing on spikes.
  • Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: Most enemies flash and are temporarily immune to damage after being knocked out.

    Art Game 
  • flOw: Some enemies have a state after they get attacked, where they turn blue and can't be harmd, and are slightly faded out.

    Beat Em Up 
  • Double Dragon had this, and allowing yourself to get hit was actually one of the easiest ways to get past certain booby traps.
  • Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure gives you a moment of safety if you get hit a strong attack or multiple small ones in a row, but the bosses also get a form of it. After you hit them enough times in a combo, once you stop juggling them they'll flash blue for a few seconds. While they're flashin0g, your attacks will connect for no damage at all, indicated by a dull "thunk" with each hit. This can be abused by first knocking the enemy into the air with a Launcher Move and comboing them to death before they hit the ground to screw them out of their invincibility, although this can be extremely hard to do outside of a TAS and isn't really possible to do at all in VS battles.

    Driving Game 
  • Many racing games have a "reset" feature that puts your car back in the road after the player runs into an unfortunate accident; most of the times, after the player presses the reset button, the car will flicker for a short time, during which other cars will simply clip through the player's car.
    • Although Need for Speed games feature this ability, Most Wanted, Carbon, and Undercover have actually made it less useful. Considering the fact that there are two situations where resetting would be useful (flipped over car and tires shredded from a police spike strip), the first instance has the car reset automatically, and late in the game, such a situation means you've probably lost the race anyway. The second situation, where the player's tires have been shredded (preventing a getaway as the car simply will not move), seems like it would be useful, but the reset inevitably places the car in the middle of the pursuing police with no velocity, resulting in an arrest before the player can do anything.
    • And Hot Pursuit makes it useful in a completely different way. Destroying opponents or hitting them with a weapon causes the camera to pan over to the crashing vehicle. Meanwhile your own car drives on autopilot and is invulnerable until you regain control. This can lead to interesting strategies in multiplayer: you are down to 10% health and an EMP is locking on to you? Wreck or spike strip a random opponent and the EMP will fail.
  • Almost all the Mario Kart games gave you this after being attacked which effectively prevented a player form being hit multiple times in a row. Mario Kart Wii is the only exception and has been cause for many gamers to call the game the most unfair game in the series.
    • This only applies after you have finished landing in MKDS, so you can red shell someone, then run into them with a mushroom in battle mode and (usually) get an instant kill.
    • Mario Kart's mercy invincibility issues stems all the way to Mario Kart 64. Spinning out doesn't make you immune to further attacks that can make your character tumble against the track (usually caused by shells). However, being hit by a shell or similar items makes you tumble but immune to being hit again by any other item (except the thunderbolt). Mario Kart Wii's issues is magnified due to all the items designed to screw over everyone at once plus 12 racers using items everywhere.
  • In Crash Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart, if the player falls into a pit or getting into some other obstacle, Aku Aku or Uka Uka (depending on the character) will put the kart back onto the track, during which the kart is protected from any attack.

    Fighting Game 
  • Medabots AX: Metabee and Rokusho: After a Medabot takes sufficient damage, they enter a brief period of invulnerability while recovering from the attack. The only attacks that can harm a Medabot in this state is the Medaforce.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In Melee, a character who reappears after being knocked out is invincible for five seconds. This can get very annoying in "super sudden death" matches.
    • In Brawl, however, you have invincibility for about 5 seconds, or until you move, so if Olimar uses his Final Smash, you won't be killed twice. Also, immunity occurs after getting knocked down and when you grab an edge.
    • 3DS / Wii U has "Safe Respawner" and "Risky Respawner" equipment. The first gives you longer invincibility, the second gives you none at all, but has good stats to make up for it.
  • The Gundam Vs Series has a Down Value (DV) associated with each attack; when someone's DV hits 5, they instantly get knocked down and can't be hit again until they stand up. This means the player has to carefully mind what attacks he uses, lest he waste a big attack because he built up the opponent's DV too high before launching it.
  • Cosmic Break uses a similar damage reduction system for consecutive hits over a short period of time, although how much damage reduction will be granted is determined by a bot's toughness (TGH) stat.
  • Like a lot of fighters, Dissidia Final Fantasy uses this to let characters who have been Punched Across the Room or knocked over recover and get back in the fight.
    • In the prequel, Duodecim, you can't whale on your opponent further after you've nailed them to the wall — but your Assist Character can. And if your assist was the one to do the wall-nailing, then you can gladly continue the damage. This is the main way players unleash combos in that game.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy NT only gives Mercy Invincibility to a character who has received HP damage or been Wall Rushed twice consecutively. A well-coordinated bombardment of bravery attacks will spell demise for the poor sap falling victim to it.
  • In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a player that's taken a certain amount of damage in a single combo (which is to say, have given their opponent a certain amount of AP) will fall out of the combo and receive invincibility till they can touch the ground. Since this includes invincibility to Supers, players have to time how they go about launching one during a combo.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In a variation, Crysis has the North Korean foes stop firing on you temporarily when you drop to critically low health.
  • The Battlefield series kind of has this with the critically wounded state, you can't be finished off like in Enemy Territory by normal gunfire but an explosive weapon will turn it to a "kill" where your helmetless body disappears.
  • The Custom-TF Quake mod had a purchasable "Respawn guard," preventing all damage for about 3 seconds after you respawn. It's tied for the least expensive upgrade (at 25 points, out of usually around 10,000), so almost everyone gets it.
  • GoldenEye (1997) for the N64 played this straight, providing about half a second of invulnerability to the player after being damaged to make it easier to survive and escape a fierce gunfight. This somewhat nerfs the impact of automatic weapons, especially in multiplayer.
    • Its spiritual successor, Perfect Dark, did not do this, despite being built from the same game engine as GoldenEye (1997). Closing in on an enemy in PD and letting him shoot at you (not close enough for him to melee attack you instead) could be severely damaging or immediately fatal on the harder difficulties, as the foe's accuracy on you would greatly increase from being that close, and each and every hit would damage you.
  • BioShock 2 added this to the Last Chance Hit Point mechanic already present in the first game.
  • Arms Race mode in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive makes you invulnerable for the first few seconds after respawning (or until you shoot), in case some wiseguy on the enemy team tries to camp your spawn area.
  • Overwatch, appropriate to the trope name, provides a second of invincibility to characters who are resurrected by Mercy.
    • Even more literally, a later buff made it so Mercy herself became invincible while using her Ultimate, though this change was rolled back nearly 7 months later.
  • PAYDAY 2 gives you 0.45 seconds of invulnerability after taking damage. Playing on Mayhem or higher drops this to 0.35s.

    Hack And Slash 
  • Drakengard has this: the protagonist can take three hits in succession before falling over. When he gets up, he has about seven seconds of invincibility to do with what he may.

  • In Phantasy Star Online, players would be knocked down and receive a short mercy invincibility period as they stood up again if they took more than a certain percentage of their max HP in damage in a single blow. This led to an absurd situation in which certain characters with more HP and higher levels were in fact, less survivable than low level characters with less HP, and many players simply minimized their HP and defense stats on purpose to make use of this.
    • And then Ultimate difficulty messes with this by taking away all invincibility if you don't get knocked down. The Mines are perfectly set up to take advantage of this, as now all those double attacks and Macross Missile Massacres hit in full force.
  • In City of Heroes, self-revive powers have a brief period of complete invulnerability for a moment or two after pulling yourself off the floor. Also, a character revived by any means will be protected from XP Debt (the game's penalty for being defeated) for a short period of time, to allow a character to be revived without risk of being penalized twice if they get defeated immediately after rezzing.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, upon being revived, you gain a buff that makes you immune to most forms of damage for a few seconds so that you don't get cheap shotted if you happen to be revived in an AOE or are hit by an unavoidable attack. The buff is instantly removed if you use an action.

    Platform Game 
  • Every incarnation of the Mega Man games has had this ability. Some of them actually had items that would extend the length of time it was active. The invincibility actually made it advantageous to be hit in certain spots. In most Mega Man games, touching spikes meant instant death, but hitting an enemy right before let you walk on them. However, this doesn't apply at all to the first Mega Man. Touch spikes at any time, even after getting hit? BOOM!
    • There are a few times where you can exploit mercy invincibility to get items earlier than you should be able to, especially in the Mega Man X series. For instance, in the second game, the Heart Tank in Wheel Gator's stage is above a wall of spikes. Normally you would have to use the charged Speed Burner to fly over to it, but if you goad the nearby enemy into firing a shot to the left, you can get hit by it, then scramble up the wall while still flashing from the hit.
    • Almost every single boss in the Mega Man series has Mercy Invincibility as well, to prevent them from being killed by simply spamming buster shots endlessly. Minibosses are usually exempt from this, which means anyone with a turbo controller can usually rip through one in seconds.
    • Standard enemies in Mega Man 5 have fairly short periods of it—as in, single-digit frames short. This is most noticeable if you prefer rapid-firing the Buster, which can lead to an enemy randomly taking one shot more than usual. It also makes the Napalm Bomb's over-time explosive surprisingly underwhelming.
    • In Mega Man & Bass, bosses get LONGER mercy invincibility than the player character. The real kicker? Bass's primary weapon is a weak rapid-fire shot. However, only the first hit will count for anything, meaning any boss fought with Bass' default weapon takes much, much, much longer to kill than it should.
    • Spark Mandrill in Maverick Hunter X doesn't get Mercy Invincibility. If you use Shotgun Ice, you can hit him again right after he thaws out, letting you defeat him before he can do anything.
    • In Mega Man, the invincibility expires even when the game is "paused" with the Select button (different from the weapon select screen, and only present in that incarnation of the game); hitting Select immediately after hitting a boss allows a subsequent hit to strike the boss straightaway. This is what enables the Elec Beam/pause rapidly glitch that can kill a boss with one or two shots.
    • In Mega Man 10, the reason the Triple Blade is so powerful at point blank range is that each blade counts for a separate hit, thus letting you hit an enemy for 3 hits before invincibility kicks in.
    • Mega Man Zero has an interesting variant - while both the player character and bosses normally have mercy invincibility after getting hit, Zero's primary weapon will actually ignore a boss's invincibility if you go for the full three-slash combo.
      • And the same combo used by Omega Zero will ignore Zero's mercy invincibility likewise.
    • In Mega Man ZX and Advent the Extender chip can actually increase the duration of your invincibility. Model X's double Charge Shot and Model ZX and OX triple slash will also ignore invincibility. And once again, Omega Zero will ignore said mercy invincibility.
    • The Hard version of Rom Hack Rockman No Constancy actually removes this. Needless to say, this turns the whole game into Platform Hell.
    • For the X games in the PS1 era, bosses have a very short invincibility period after being hit by X's buster, allowing him to deal damage at a much faster pace. As a downside, bosses now have much more health (In X5 even, they have life bars that stretch the entire screen). They still get full invincibility when you hit them with a charged shot or they weakness, however.
    • In Rockman 4 Minus ∞, Mega Man only has a split second of invincibility per hit. The ultimate secret boss of the story mode bypasses even that with any of his moves. On the other hand, one boss does not have Mercy Invincibility: the first form of the Wily Machine. Given that it has 784 energy, 28 times the regular amount, this is most definitely a welcome change.
  • In the case of Super Mario Bros., this can happen to powered-up Mario or Luigi, resulting in the loss of any special ability he had.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2 had this, with the very rare instance of Knock Back in the 2D games.
    • Super Mario World had some castle sections involving reciprocating spiked pillars, which seemed to ignore invincibility; the game treated them as moving walls, meaning they could squish the player against the floor for an instant kill.
    • Particularly difficult Super Mario World ROM hacks and Super Mario Maker levels will sometimes have sections of their levels that are impossible to get through unless you're invincible, so the designer will throw in a powerup just so you can lose it and use the Mercy Invincibility to race through these sections. If you don't make it in time, you die.
    • Super Mario 64: In Lethal Lava Land, if Mario falls in the lava, he takes damage and goes flying but doesn't get the Mercy Invincibility. If you're not careful, you can be killed very quickly.
    • New Super Mario Bros. plays this straight, except in one surprise case: as every Super Mario Bros player knows, if you meet Bowser while powered up, you can just run right into him, take a hit, and use the Mercy Invincibility to continue on to the goal. But in NSMB, deliberately running into the final Bowser hurtles Mario back across to the left of the screen. This is, perhaps, the cleverest part of the whole game.
    • Which doesn't keep you from saving a giant mushroom, grow large, and land a one-hit-KO on him by jumping on his head.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii keeps this safeguard and doesn't have the Mega Mushroom, so Bowser is pretty much foilproof.
  • La-Mulana has a ROM combo that increases the amount of Mercy Invincibility you get. Of course, it's never alluded to.
    • In the remake, the boss fight with the giant eye-monster Viy lacks this — standing on its body will rapidly drain your health, with no Mercy Invincibility.
    • The caltrop weapon is notable in that it can hurt the player for minimal damage. One tactic is to exploit the moment of invincibility this gives to avoid a much more dangerous attack.
  • Vectorman had an interesting form of this. When you get hit, you keep your invincibility longer if you continue getting hit (by an enemy, lava, etc.), and further, if you keep ramming the minor enemies, THEY get destroyed. Sweet.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid: Part of why the game is hard is that Samus' mercy invincibility lasts less than 1 second.
    • A glitch in Super Metroid allowed you to have a permanent Speed Booster effect (which combines Super-Speed and Invincibility Power-Up in one convenient package), but it had the unusual side effect of eliminating invincibility - making spiked floors, normally an inconvenience at best, your worst nightmare.
  • Bypassed by a special kind of damage called "Hazard Damage" in MaelstormM's flash game, Mega Man X Next. With most things that can hurt you, you just lose a bit of health and turn transparent for a moment to indicate how long until you can be hit again. However, there are many things which will consistently deal Hazard Damage even if you're still transparent from another hit. This includes at least one attack from every boss's arsenal, and the damaging hazards in the levels. To make up for this, you don't flinch from any hit no matter how powerful it is, which makes it less of a pain to escape hazards. Another balancing factor is that unlike the official Mega Man games, the bosses don't get ANY invincibility.
  • In Judge Dredd, not only the player has mercy invincibility, but so do all the enemies, including bosses. Moreover, apart from wasting limited ammo, hitting an enemy during this time is recorded as a miss, lowering the accuracy bonus given at the end of a level. This strongly encourages the player to time their shots and fire singles rather than bursts.
  • Kirby Super Star gives most of the bosses this, requiring quick attacks to be done rhythmically rather than simply spammed repeatedly. It also has the unfortunate effect of making Helpers actually detrimental to getting the best Arena time.
  • Freeware Ninja Senki uses mercy invincibility, but as it comes alongside savage knockback, it's not much of an advantage.
  • The first three Rayman games all use mercy invincibility. However, it can be incredibly unhelpful in the first game, since the automatic knockback coupled with it commonly tends to either push you into water or lava, off a ledge, into another enemy, into the edge of the screen in an Auto-Scrolling Level, or onto a floor of spikes that instantly kills you regardless of how much health you have left. Rayman Origins again makes damage knock you back and you're only invulnerable for about half a second, which is a major factor contributing to the game's Nintendo Hard status.
  • Iji gives you a few seconds of this whenever you take health damage. Maxing out your strength stat actually increases it. In fact, exploiting invincibility is the only way to go through the One-Hit Kill Force Fields surrounding the Null Driver. On the other hand, one of the bosses has a very powerful attack that bypasses it, to stop some clever players from cheating their way out. The only way to avoid getting hit is stopping the boss from shooting, which has the side-effect of forfeiting an optional upgrade.
  • Purple makes you invulnerable for a short while when hurt.
  • Shantae:
    • Shantae: Risky's Revenge: Getting hit keeps Shantae invulnerable to further damage for about a second.
    • Running into a wall during a scimitar dash knocks Shantae backwards, but also gives her a generous amount of invincibility frames.
  • In The Smurfs (1994) for the SNES, you had mercy invincibility, but so did the only non-bossnote  enemy that could take several hits: Azrael, who was hard to avoid and naturally, could hurt you while invincible.
  • Present in Bug. Not like it's going to help against swamp water or lava, which will still kill Bug as long as he touches the stuff.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog:
      • Exploiting mercy invincibility was necessary in the Game Gear/Master System version of this game, as the Chaos Emeralds are hidden in the levels as opposed to in Special Stages. Most require exploring and some thinking to get to, but the one in Labyrinth Zone is actually in a small pit of spikes. There are no nearby enemies, so the only way you can do it is to deliberately jump into the spikes and take damage, then while you're invincible jump in again, grab the Chaos Emerald and jump back out before that invincibility wears off and you die.
  • The arcade version of Wonder Boy in Monster Land applied invincibility only to damage. The player still received knockback.
  • Ditto Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, but getting hit while invulnerable would reset the invincibility timer, so being juggled by enemies would not deplete the lifebar within seconds.
  • In The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, Mercy Invincibility also had the annoying property of preventing attacking for its duration.
  • Battletoads gives you a brief moment of invulnerability when you respawn, and then never again. As if it needed to be any harder.
  • Similar to the Mega Man games by the same company, DuckTales offers invincibility both for Scrooge and for the bosses. There is one odd exception: if Scrooge falls in the mouth of a man-eating plant on the NES version of the game, he does not get mercy invincibility, and there's a high chance of taking an immediate second hit, either from being tossed into another enemy, or hitting the plant itself again. If you touch the side of the plant instead of the top, though, Scrooge gets the normal mercy invincibility.
  • A clear mark of a skilled Metal Slug player, is watching them jump in and out of a vehicle repeatedly to abuse the few seconds of invincibility it grants.
  • In Holy Diver, the invincibility period after getting hit is often the most efficient way of getting past the more overpowered enemies.
  • Rockman no Exile: Invoked with Super Invincibility; it outright gives you this without draining either your health or its own energy bar. Used correctly, it can be a Game-Breaker.

  • F-Zero 99: Because of the extremely high player count, colliding with an opponent and taking damage will render you momentarily immune to damage (but not knockback) from other collisions.

  • The Binding of Isaac has a brief period of invulnerability after taking damage. This can be used to exploit demon beggars and blood donation machines, as even while invincible touching them still "donates." The Blind Rage trinket doubles this, and with Mom's Box it gets quadrupled.

    Role Playing Game 
  • SoulBlazer had this, as well as one armor that extended its length.
  • XenoGears: In some areas where hazards have to be avoided like the Grimy Water in Nocturne's sewers, Fei and the party will get damage touching it, but enough invincibility to get out of it.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Inverted, but with the same effect, in Super Mario RPG and the Paper Mario series, where contact with an enemy in the overworld would initiate a battle. If you ran from battle, the enemy would flash for a few moments, enabling you to run away without starting a new battle with the same enemy.
    • In Super Mario RPG, the enemy would function like a solid block for those few moments, allowing you to use them as a stepping stool. This could actually be used at one point in the Kero Sewers to access an otherwise inaccessible shortcut leading to an area near the end of the game, which would allow for some serious Sequence Breaking... except that if you hadn't been on the other side already to knock down a particular barrel off a cliff, it is impossible to scale that cliff from the wrong side... And the game gives you a short message telling you that it's a dead end.
  • In the Mega Man Battle Network series some attacks triggered mercy invincibility, while others didn't (Usually multi-hitting ones). The latter were initially favored over the former for obvious reasons (Or for those fighting bosses with them, hated), but later games in the series added attacks that ignore and remove mercy invincibility, which made the former more practical to use.
  • Getting knocked down by enemies in Phantasy Star Online provides with you invincibility that lasts from when you start falling down to a short moment after you stand up, allowing you enough time to use a recovery item to save yourself. Also present in the sequel, but it's not nearly as helpful as before, as you're now vulnerable the moment you've regained control, meaning you'll just immediately get hit again if an attack is in contact with you when this happens.
  • Monster Hunter makes you invincible while knocked down, and for a very brief period once you get up; otherwise monsters could just easily bash you to death. Some skills, such as the Felyne Riser skill in Monster Hunter 3 (Tri), extend the duration for which you're invincible after you get back up.
  • Occurs if an enemy attack in Odin Sphere knocks you to the ground. The "Painkiller" potion, which blocks knockback, unfortunately prevents this from kicking in.
  • Because of its quirky blend of RPG and Bullet Hell mechanics, Undertale features Mercy Invulnerability after you take a hit when in battle so that you can survive making a mistake during the more chaotic attacks. The more damaging the attack is, the longer your period of invulnerability. This is exploited in the final meaningful battle of a No Mercy run, where Sans's attacks are set up so that they're individually weak and do only 1 HP of damage, too low to trigger the invulnerability. He then proceeds to damage a rate of 30 hits per second if you're caught by one of his attacks. You didn't show anyone else mercy, why should he do so for you?
  • Divinity: Original Sin: On Explorer mode, if one of your party members is close to death, the enemies will usually ignore him or her for a few rounds instead of finishing them off, giving you the chance to heal them.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • In keeping with its Nintendo Hard reputation, Gradius on the NES had a power-up that gave the Vic Viper shields. When the shields took a sufficient amount of damage, they turned red, then another point of damage would make them disappear; however, since the disappearance often came during a flurry of shots and since there was no Mercy Invincibility on the SHIELDS, you could lose the shields with one shot then die the next moment.
  • Touhou games give you few seconds of invulnerability after dying and respawning, at least in the Windows games. Also, after you finish off one section of a boss's health bar, they often get a couple seconds of invulnerability before you can start draining the next section.
  • eXceed 3rd Jade Penetrate gives you a few seconds of Mercy Invincibility to give you enough time to fly around the screen to pick up the Mini-Tiamats you dropped on death.
  • Minimal in The Guardian Legend, providing less than a second of protection, and only against small enemy collisions. Large lasers or enemy attacks do so much damage that sustained contact drains your shield almost instantly.
  • After respawning in Smash TV the player character is briefly granted a red shield, which not only protects him from damage while it's active, but also allows him to kill any enemies he runs into.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Afterburner Climax, your plane would flash and be briefly invincible every time an enemy landed a "shack on the target" (missile hit in non-military lingo), which prevents the already difficult game from becoming even harder given the enemy love for ripple-fire Macross Missile Massacre.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil 5 does this when a character enters dying status (especially in Mercenaries Mode). The enemies instead taunt the player character for several seconds before returning to the attack.
  • In Rule of Rose you are invulnerable for the time it takes you to stand after getting knocked down. Unfortunately the same applies to enemies that you knock down.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Mega Man Legends, Mega Man gets a second or two of mercy invincibility each time he gets knocked down. What makes this game notable in this regard is that there is an item (the trademark Mega Man helmet) that makes him much harder to knock down. The game plays this off as a good thing, but if you can't be knocked down, that means many enemies can just keep you in stunlock (i.e. flinching so many times you can't move at all) with machine gun fire until you are dead. Being knocked down causes you no extra damage, and allows you enough time after you get up to move out of the way.
  • Mass Effect 3 multiplayer has this in the form of the Health and Shield "Gates", when reaching 0% shield or 5% health a short invincibility is activated of a length depending on the difficulty level. To prevent too much abuse it can only be triggered every few seconds.
  • The single-player modes of Splatoon 2 give the player a brief respite from damage whenever they lose a whole layer of armor, whether it's an excess stocked up during the stage or being brought down to their Last Chance Hit Point; only the ink bag strapped to Agent 8 can bypass it.

    Tower Defense 
  • The Battle Cats: Both units and enemies are invulnerable to damage when they're recovering from being knocked back.
  • Plants vs. Zombies:
    • In both the first game and the second, losing a lawnmower (if a zombie walks too far into your side, the lawnmower will be activated and run through all zombies on that lane, killing them all) will make no zombies spawn on that lane for several seconds, giving you time to put defenses again on said lane.
    • In Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, the players' plants don't get any invincibility. However, the zombies do after a strong enough, or one that causes a zombie to change its form. This can lead to situations where an enemy accidentally avoids a One-Hit KO weapon because a Peashooter did enough damage to cause the zombie to move onto its next form.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Not in the main body of Bully, but shows up in the arcade games that are available. Most are needed for 100% Completion, and one ('Consumo') mandatory to unlock a Save Point. That particular game even lets you trigger it without dying; if you're bounced off the playfield, you're reset in the centre with Mercy Invulnerability.
  • Terraria has an accessory called the Cross Necklace that can extend the player's Mercy Invincibility. It can be upgraded to another accessory that still does that and cause stars to rain on enemies when hit.

  • The Trogdor faux-arcade game on the Homestar Runner site does this when you die and respawn, because the enemy archers and knights don't reset.
  • The mobile game Clash of Clans has a "Shield" mechanic, which prevents the player's village from being attacked by other players (and is lost if the player decides to attack another player's village) which can be purchased using real money. At the start of the game, each player gets a free shield for two days while they get their village started, and taking enough damage during another player's raid will grant the village a free shield whose duration is based on total damage taken.
  • Getting hit in Thumper produces a Hit Stop and makes the beetle invulnerable for a second.

    Similar concepts outside videogames 
  • Doctor Who has this for the Time Lords: for fifteen or so hours after a Time Lord regenerates, they can easily heal from any injury they sustain, like growing back lost body parts and laughing off gunshot wounds.
  • A common rule in the children's game of Tag is "no tag-backs", meaning that once a person has been tagged as "It", the person who tagged them must be allowed to get away without being tagged right back.
  • Gengoro from UQ Holder! has a form of immortality that works similar to a video game character. Every time he loses a "life", he spawns a brand new body that is immune to all damage for exactly three seconds (complete with timer).
  • This is an important plot-point in the animated webcomic Kid Radd where the main character is a classic Platformer sprite, complete with Mercy Invincibility, Made of Iron, and no Edge Gravity.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • To demonstrate the importance of this: there was no temporary invincibility in the Genesis game ToeJam & Earl. Any enemy which could move faster than the main characters could walk could hit them over and over without giving them any chance to get away or retaliate. Thus the player could be "juggled" into oblivion by a single wimpy enemy.
    Youch! Youch! Youch! Youch! Youch! Youch!
    • You actually could get mercy invincibility in one case: getting flattened by an giant hamster ball, or the ice cream man. However, this only protected you from getting squished again for a few seconds; normal attacks from enemies would still hurt.
  • In Secret of Mana most enemies in the game, after being hit with a physical attack, would enter a stunned state where further attacks apparently did not affect them. Unfortunately for weaker enemies (and, annoyingly, your characters) attacks that hit while the target was stunned would do damage the moment the stun period ended, immediately leading to another stun period and so on.
  • Absent in Link: Faces of Evil and Zelda: Wand of Gamelon. Results were disastrous.
  • See The Angry Video Game Nerd's video review of Milon's Secret Castle. It is possible for an enemy to bounce you to death.
  • Annoyingly absent in Deadly Towers. All damage you take knocks you backwards and you don't regain control until your Mercy Invincibility wears off (which lasts less than half a second either way), meaning you can't get away from any enemies who may also try to attack you from behind (such as the quick-moving bat enemies).
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has split-second invincibility, making it very possible to be ravaged to death should you fall into a morass of monsters or a large spike trap, usually requiring you turn into mist to escape.
    • The tall enemies that throw boulders in the inverted castle's underground cave have the rock included in their hitbox when they hold it, but no invincibility frames. Play as Maria in the PSP remake, shoot a dove at the rock, and they will take damage for every frame the dove touches the boulder.
  • The Ys series lacks this, except in later games when you get knocked down. XSEED's trailers for Ys: The Oath in Felghana even use this as a selling point!
  • Absent completely in the Pokémon Rumble series, making it rather important to deal with large groups of enemies cautiously.
  • None in SPISPOPD or its sequels. As of Dr. Lunatic, most enemies can only deal contact damage through attack animations, which limits how much damage you can take from an enemy travelling as fast as you. However, fire, a projectile which has no collision and can damage you every frame, can still invoke Death of a Thousand Cuts due to this.

    Action Game 
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening has a notable absence of invincibility for normal hits; instead, you get stunned. So you can start at full health, get hit once, and have a mob of enemies finish you off before you're allowed to react. As a small measure of kindness, though, the game allows the third hit in a row to knock you down and away from the mob (assuming you survive it, damn you Dante Must Die!), and you're given invincibility at least until you get back on your feet.
  • inFAMOUS doesn't give Cole any mercy invincibility when he's hurt, but enemies tend to hold their fire for a second if you get knocked down. With some glaring exceptions. The First Sons Conduits are key examples; if you're attacked by multiple ones, the first will knock you down with a shotgun blast, at which point his allies will shoot you while you're down.
  • While the Sega Genesis version of True Lies has mercy invincibility, the SNES version doesn't (being almost identical otherwise). This makes enemies' burst attacks much more dangerous.
  • Mega Man Legends and it's sequel:
    • Megaman has a variant where there is no mercy invincibility unless an enemy attack throws you to the ground (Megaman is untouchable once sent reeling and until he's back on his feet). This means that if you get cornered or surrounded enemies can Cherry Tap you to death by trapping you in a Cycle of Hurting. Because of this, items that reduce knockdown like certain armors and Megaman's iconic helmet are Power Up Letdowns as they increase the amount of abuse Megaman helplessly has to take before he gets that sweet mercy invincibility.
    • Certain enemies and bosses in the sequel have mercy invincibility as well. Very much a Scrappy Mechanic as it's what makes the much maligned Gorubesshusnote  such annoying to kill Demonic Spiders, and the health bars of some bosses just spontaneously stop draining while they're charging up an attack robs the player of what could be an opportunity to unload on the foe.

    Beat Em Up 
  • In the SNES port of Captain America and the Avengers enemies can pummel you down to nothing in a quick succession of blows, but get mercy invincibility as the player hits them, preventing them the chance to do more than small increments of damage at once while staying wide open and vulnerable. Combine this with the fact that the first level took over a minute to start on a black screen (what the hell? A cartridge game with LOAD TIME?) and you begin to understand why nobody ever talks of this game.
  • The Amiga beat'em'up Franko: The Crazy Revenge seemingly lacks even the slight invincibility after getting up, so whenver you'd get knocked down, it's not uncommon for the enemies to knock you down again right away after getting up, over and over until the game would seemingly let you walk away from danger.


    Platform Game 
  • The oldie Jet Set Willy did not have mercy invincibility either. While the player can reappear far from the enemy, he can also reappear right on it, and lose all his lives in mere seconds.
  • Joe in the game Viewtiful Joe usually has invincibility on taking a hit. However, during the fight with "Another Joe", one of Another Joe's attacks spawns clones that fly around the screen and try to hit you. Joe does not get temporary invincibility if a clone hits him, but he still reacts to the hit, during which time he's frozen — and any other clones may freely hit him. It's quite possible to go from full health to getting killed this way if there are enough active clones.
  • Mega Man Zero:
    • The series gives each attack a "priority" that determines what kind of combo it can do. In essence, an attack will ignore mercy invincibility if its priority is higher than that of the attack that caused the invincibility. All attack chains in the game simply have ascending priority; saber combos from Zero and 3's final boss have highest priority.
    • The final boss of Mega Man Zero 3 has a sword combo that ignores Mercy Invincibility. Keeping out of range is essential in winning the battle. When said boss appears as a Optional Boss in Mega Man ZX he has the same combo. Beating him, retrieving an item afterwards, and then beating the game allows you to play as him, with everything EXCEPT the extended sword combo.
  • Milon's Secret Castle: This is averted as part of the Fake Difficulty. You have no recovery time and can be killed in a few seconds.
  • SNK's (pre-Neo Geo) game Athena, being a very early platformer, did not feature this trope. Combined with the fact that enemy AI consisted of "follow the player", it only took one misstep to completely deplete your life bar from full.
  • In PC platformer Elf the player has a health bar that simply decreases gradually as long as you keep touching an enemy - no mercy at all.
  • The first two Turrican games lack Mercy Invincibility and all enemies from the first mook you see to the final boss deal damage at the same, very fast, rate. Frustration is avoided however as damage does not stun you and so you won't get bounced to death.
  • Present in The Adventures of Lomax, as long as you're wearing a helmet (your Single-Use Shield). It comes with a certain annoyance: if you get hit, a spare helmet that is placed in a slot at the top of the screen starts falling down; if you can't catch it in time, you are left with none and become a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • In Theta vs Pi 7 Theta is a one hit point wonder normally, but if he has a shield it will kill his enemy instead of him. This still leaves him vulnerable (if say he gets hit by a second enemy from the other direction). If Theta has a wizard hat, he will be teleported to safety when hit but would still be vulnerable once he gets there (though he does go to the top of the screen where enemies can't normally reach).

    Rhythm Game 
  • Missing in DanceDanceRevolution's Oni mode. Missing (or getting only Good on) four arrows in a row means losing four lives in a row which means Game Over.
  • In contrast, missing in Rhythm Heaven Megamix's Life Goal mode during a challenge course. Missing something right after losing a life doesn't count as a second miss.

    Role Playing Game 
  • The RPG version is removed in one spot of Final Fantasy, where every single step would result in a fight with a party of giants.
    • Final Fantasy had various designated encounter tiles, often positioned in front of treasure chests containing valuable items.
  • Similar to the above example, some of the Dragon Quest games have an item, the Golden Claw, which guarantees a fight with a monster at every step.
  • Absent in E.V.O.: Search for Eden.
  • The Pokémon games just don't have it at all. Say you are facing north and you want to take a step east. It's entirely possible to get one wild encounter when you turn to face east and another one when you move to the tile east of you.
    • This can be abused in games with the Safari Zone, as you can simply spin in place for encounters and not have to waste any steps at all.
  • The final boss of Undertale's Genocide Run, Sans, has the lowest stats out of everyone. His attacks only deal 1 point of damage, and because the game has a system where, the higher the damage dealt, the longer you're invincible, this is too low to trigger the invincibility. Oh, one small issue, though. That 1 point of damage? That's not per hit, but per frame, meaning you lose 30 HP per second as long as you're touching his bullets. Oh, and his attacks have a poison effect too, effectively doubling this damage output. Good luck.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Painfully absent in the indie shooting game Sapharica. It has some pretty dense bullet hell. You never get invincibility in the game. Not even when bombing.
  • In Bangai-O and Bangai-O Spirits, your Humongous Mecha can easily be stun-locked to oblivion by the enemy's Macross Missile Massacre, unless you counter with your own. Good luck when you don't have the super meter to launch your own missiles, though.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • The total absence of this in the NES version of Metal Gear is one of the many reasons why that version is reviled by Kojima. Both MSX2 games and even the non-canon NES sequel Snake's Revenge gave players temporary invincibility every time Snake gets hit. This is actually a necessity in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, since it makes it very easy to defeat Dr. Pettrovich, who sneaks up behind Snake and tries to strangle him. Because the player constantly receives damage from the choke-hold, Snake is constantly in invincibility, meaning it's possible to kill the boss just by firing remote-controlled missiles at his own back. He also had invincibility in Metal Gear Solid, but it was excised from the sequels and the remake in the name of realism.
    • In the Cyborg Ninja fight in Metal Gear Solid, the Ninja starts flickering after three hits, so that the player can't keep spamming attacks (unless the player uses a chaff grenade to disable him beforehand, in which case he starts blinking after only one, for the same reason). Snake, on the other hand, gets no such mercy, and if you don't get up in time, the Ninja will jump into the air and stomp on Snake, dealing massive damage.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, hostile NPCs don't care if you're trying to get up after being knocked down or thrown from your bike — they'll unload a full clip of bullets into your body before you have any chance to react.

Alternative Title(s): Invincibility Frames