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aka: Nigh Invulnerable

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The Tick: Urgh! Got to... pull myself to... gether! Must... defy... laws of... physics!
Arthur: Fight it, Tick! Fight that black hole!

Someone cannot be harmed. Merely fighting them won't make them go away; if at all possible their defeat requires one to figure out how, which is a legendary quest in and of itself. Usually the ability of the Big Bad in sci-fi and fantasy settings, few heroes get this one. (Except in Super Hero series, with Superman being the flagship example.)

Either one has to find their Achilles' Heel, or else summon up a nuclear-bomb's worth of power in the last episode, either through The Power of Love or Ki Manipulation or really heavy armaments (e.g. When All You Have Is a Hammer…) and hope for Villain Decay.

Sometimes a vaguely defined nigh-invulnerability is a way to make a hero only as tough as he needs to be to advance the plot.

There's a number of ways one can have Nigh Invulnerability.

  • Made of Diamond: The power of the Implacable Man and The Juggernaut, nothing does anything to this being. Not a boot to the head, or a bullet to the eye, or a sledgehammer to the groin. Sufficiently strong characters might be able to knock them through a wall or mountain, but just one hit like that won't have any lasting effect. This is generally what people first think of when referring to this trope.
    • Ironically, the title is a bit of a misnomer. While in real life diamonds have extreme hardness, they lack toughness and are brittle enough to be shattered by a hammer.
  • Made of Air: Going the opposite direction, there doesn't seem to be something to fight... but that "something" can fight you. Either they have the power of Super Smoke or Intangibility completely at will so that you can't attack them, or they may exist in some form that makes direct confrontation just not possible (an Astral Projection, for example, or just a plain old ghost).
  • Made of Liquid, AKA The Blob: a common variant of this, when the character is made of some sort of fluid stuff that makes him tangible, but completely impervious to damage with bludgeoning or piercing weapons.
  • Made of Rubber: Somewhere in between the last two, where most attacks just seem to bounce off with little to no effect to the victim.
  • Kevlard: Similar to made of rubber, but with protective blubber instead. This is the form that X-Men's Blob benefits from. Unlike the former, usually they have some sort of weak spot.
  • Regeneration/Regrowth: They have the truly nasty tendency to recover from anything. Cut off their head, and it grows back. Cut them to pieces, and they just reassemble themselves. Burn them to ashes, and mail them to Mexico, Norway, and Hong Kong, and they'll rebuild themselves From a Single Cell. Whether the character can survive being utterly atomised varies from fiction to fiction.
  • External Repair/Spare Body Parts: Like regeneration/regrowth, but external. Most common with machines and cyborgs, but occasionally works for the undead or supernatural, and sometimes even a skilled Mad Doctor can pull this off with normal organisms. Chop off an arm? Meh, if it's too damaged to reattach, no big deal: it's replaceable. Blown into tiny chunks? That might take a little longer, but can sometimes still be fixed.
    • Body Backup Drive is the most extreme form of this, with a character being able to transfer their consciousness into a complete replacement body. This new body may be modified as necessary, and possibly have some form of invulnerabilities themselves.
  • The Proxy: When a person makes use of other bodies or identities in order to conceal themselves and avoid direct contact, therefore reducing risk of injury/death. The proxy could take the form of a remote-control robot, a cloned flesh puppet, or a body double. If the proxy is encountered often enough, it can give the semblance of invulnerability.
    • Alternatively, the person can be hit, but the proxy somehow takes all the damage instead.
  • Multiple Bodies: Similar to the above, this classic power of the Hive Mind will render the death of one body irrelevant. At worst, to kill enemies with this ability will require killing every single part of him, since even one survivor may be able to recreate a whole new army of selves. However, if they have a Hive Queen, killing it may destroy the whole being.
  • Body Surf: Similar to Multiple Bodies and Body Backup Drive above, but instead they possess another living person to use for themselves, possibly transforming the body of the possessed into something related to the new owner. This may be even nastier than any of the above, especially when it has no limitations on whom they can possess, although usually destroying the body when the consciousness is still inside will kill both the possessed and the possessing entity permanently. Usually.
  • Resurrection: You technically can kill them, but the problem is that they don't stay dead. Just pray that they don't have the ability to adapt to whatever that managed to kill them before such that It Only Works Once, and/or unlimited amount of extra life.
    • Rebirth: Related to above, except when killed, they'll be reborn as an infant. Only applies if the character retains their memories/personality from their prior life, and probably will want you dead for killing them the first time around.
  • No Pain: While you can technically damage them, their lack of pain receptors means that they will just keep coming. Very much Depending on the Writer, while a punch to the face will usually be ignored, chopping off a limb will presumably limit anyone's mobility regardless, though some authors raise this ability to superhuman levels.
    • No Pain for the Undead: Lack of pain is justified because the character is a member of the living dead. This usually means that even severe organ damage can just be ignored, though even such characters tend to have limits in how far this can be pushed.
  • Extreme Luck: You don't need to be invincible when you never get hit.
  • Reality-Warping: They don't want to be hurt, so you can't hurt them. Simple as that.
    • God: Face it. Sometimes you CAN'T kill a god. It's physically and theologically impossible. However other gods can sometimes kill gods, so they do technically fit the "nigh" part.
    • Divine Protection: The character itself is not a god, but can survive anything due to intervention of a favorable god/guardian angel/spirit of parent that has been 'struck down and become more powerful than you can possibly imagine'.
    • Can Only Kill Part of Him: Fighting a Shadow. Basically the whatsit that you were fighting was just its... "representation" in the same world. Killing its body in this dimensional plane is a mild setback... if at all, as it can grow that back very quickly or replace it. Technically not that different from Resurrection from the mortals' point of view, but distinct in that the actual entity never died- only their current physical manifestation. Usually applies to gods, demons, and perhaps Cosmic Horror.

A combination of limited super-toughness, super-pain tolerance and regeneration is a popular power set to render a character effectively nigh-invulnerable while still being shown to suffer temporary pain and injury in a way that gives recognisable stakes to physical threats, even if we know they won't be fatal.

The Physical God, Implacable Man, The Juggernaut, Blob Monster, Iron Butt Monkey, The Chew Toy, and anything Made of Indestructium all probably have some form of Nigh Invulnerability.

Compare of course Immortality, for the ways in which characters cannot die. Contrast Made of Iron, where no explanation is given for an individual's incredible resilience. See also Immortal Life Is Cheap, which applies to such cases as Multiple Bodies or Regeneration; and Trainstopping which tends to have this as a requirement. When someone is invulnerable to literally everything, then it becomes Complete Immortality.

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Other Examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • Koshchei in The Frog Princess cannot be harmed, except by a magical needle.
  • Frozen (2013): Olaf receives a lot of Amusing Injuries throughout the film such as being separated from body parts, but that only acts as an inconvenience since he's a snowman. The only thing that can kill him is heat, and even that won't work since Elsa creates a personal snow cloud for him in the end.
  • Another Pixar film, The Incredibles, deconstructs this a bit.
    • Mr. Incredible can be hurt, as evidenced by a small scratch he receives going up against an omnicidal robot, but that's the only injury he receives and he has super strength to go along with it. That said, he doesn't have super anchoring abilities (he gets smacked around a lot), and when he stops a train he does so by bracing himself first and visibly winces just before impact.
    • The Omnidroids, which can only be damaged by themselves, according to Mr. Incredible. Special mention goes to the tenth model, who proved immune to the government's weapons.
  • The title character in the The Iron Giant combines being "Made of Diamond" (survives heavy weaponry from tanks), as well as a mixture of "Regeneration" and "External Repair" (even after being blown apart, the Iron Giant is capable of self-repair while its pieces crawl back together from various places to rebuild itself).
  • WALL•E: WALL•E's cockroach, who survives being squashed by WALL•E (twice!) and nuked by EVE. He just pops right back up after each accident. However, he's otherwise powerless beyond his survival skills; he's just there to be a cute pet.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Addams Family. It's not really clear what nature their invulnerability is, of how it works since it's entirely played for laughs. Lurch takes a 20-pound bowling ball to the head from a dozen stories up and barely notices, so it may be they're all Made of Diamond, but it also extends to poisons, electrocution, and anything else they can get a gag out of. When Debbie aims a gun at him (after blowing up the house with Uncle Fester inside, which he walks away from without harm), Fester thinks she's flirting with him. They apparently use cyanide as a condiment. Even electrocuting Uncle Fester just lets him power a lightbulb with his mouth. Nothing stops them.
  • The Adventures of Captain Marvel film serial of the 1940's is one of the earliest examples, and interestingly enough, a mild subversion. While Captain Marvel is completely immune to bullets and blades and most forms of harm, there exists technology that can hurt him enough to stun him for a while, and phenomena like molten lava is considered lethal even to him.
  • The titular menace in Big Ass Spider!; it is only destroyed when a bazooka blast detonates the mass of highly-flammable webbing-to-be in its spinnerette.
  • The Blob, in all three of its film appearances, is an astoundingly tough, featureless Mighty Glacier of a Blob Monster that simply shrugs off anything it can’t assimilate. It barely seems to notice when a high-voltage power line is dropped on it, poisons and acid only discolor it for a moment, fire does absolutely nothing, and blowing it up will just make it into an Asteroids Monster that is now spread out all over. Kinetic weapons like bullets can knock it back a bit when it’s still small, but with no lasting damage. The only way to stop it is to freeze it solid, and even then, it just becomes a Monster in the Ice subjected to Harmless Freezing, and it’ll get right back to work if it thaws. It’s telling that all three movies end with a Sequel Hook, as the creature has only been frozen and there’s simply no known way to put it down for good.
  • Aereon from The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) shows off two advantages to the Made of Air version. When she's on a plane another character threatens her while she's standing by an open trap door (which would make her fall out of the plane), and goes to take a swipe at Aereon with a sword, asking if Aereon (as an Air Elemental) can fly. Aereon goes insubstantial to avoid the sword, then drifts across trap door before becoming solid on the other side, where she replies: "No, we can't fly, but we do glide very well." Made all the more awesome by the fact that Aereon is being played by Judi Dench, complete with a little smirk as she says her reply.
  • Any of the male witches in The Covenant. In one scene, Caleb is racing down a road, while talking on the phone. He turns and is surprised to see a "Darkling", a scary spirit meant to warn him of something. He turns back to the road, only to realize he's drifted onto the opposite lane and is moments away from a head-on collision with a truck. The car is shattered into tiny pieces... which reassemble behind the truck, and Caleb continues driving and talking on the phone, albeit looking a lot more tired. The only ones who can really hurt them are other male witches.
  • In The Crow (1994), when he comes back from the dead, Eric is completely invulnerable to being shot or hurt, until a mystic determines killing the man's crow companion leaves him vulnerable.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel:
      Lara: He'll be an outcast. They'll kill him.
      Jor-El: How?
      • This film is also notable for deconstructing it. Early in the film, Clark held up a portion of the oil derrick, and while he was strong enough to lift it and durable enough to not get crushed by its weight, the floor beneath his feet gave way. Also, during the battle between Clark, Nam-ek and Faora-el, the military comes into play to intervene. So, high-speed jets come in firing heavy gatling guns. Normal handguns aren't able to even faze the Kryptonians, but gatling guns are probably the most powerful machine guns ever created, and while they're durable enough to withstand the bullet impacts without damage, they follow the laws of motion and conservation of energy, and send the Kryptonians flying a short distance away. Later, Faora gets hit with a high-speed homing missile dead-center in her face, which was enough to send her flying a considerable distance, and knocked her out, showing that they have their limits.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: It is revealed that even if a Kryptonian is dead, their bodies are still almost indestructible. The scientists studying General Zod's corpse explain that they couldn't cut him open until they discovered kryptonite.
  • The aliens in Ghosts of Mars are possessing spirits, putting them at Type 4. Moreover, while their hosts can be destroyed (qualifying them for the "nigh" part of this trope) they themselves can't, making them Invincible Villains.
  • Apparently the Cobra aircraft from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra can withstand Gatling gun fire from systems that the U.S. military uses to destroy tanks without even getting a scratch.
  • Basically, any of the daikaiju in Toho's Godzilla series — any degree of firepower short of Applied Phlebotinum (and some of that, too) or other monsters can at best annoy or distract them. Gamera (from competitor studio Daiei) is comparably tough inside his turtle shell, but more recent films have suggested his exposed limbs can be vulnerable to explosives or concentrated fire.
    • Godzilla himself can also regenerate from almost anything short of being completely skeletonized or reduced to a radioactive puddle — the two things that actually have killed him in the series. Presumably, this also applies to Biollante and SpaceGodzilla, however this is uncertain, as they never return to show that they actually survived the injuries sustained in their respective movies after dissolving into particles of light and fleeing to space.
    • Godzilla (2014) takes this to new levels, at least with what is confirmed onscreen. In at least some films, most notably The Return of Godzilla, using nuclear weapons on Godzilla has been suggested but never carried out. In Godzilla (2014), this is part of Godzilla's origin: the military tried nuclear as soon as they knew of Godzilla's existence, covering up their attempts as tests known as Operation Castle (Castle Bravo being the best known, and largest, of these tests). Not only did these obviously not kill Godzilla, they appear to have inadvertently caused his mutation and given him his powers, like atomic breath. This new Godzilla might be even harder to kill than previous versions.
      • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) has Godzilla blasted point-blank with a nuclear explosion, which only rejuvenates him after he (barely) survives getting hit with the Oxygen Destroyer, a weapon that had successfully killed the original Gojira and use of which basically killed all sea life around the point of detonation for several miles.
    • The franchise also has King Ghidorah, who is considered Godzilla's most iconic foe and archnemesis. In the movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) has him be a combination of Made of Diamond and Regenerator, with him able to shrug off pretty much anything thrown at him (barring Godzilla), and what damage Godzilla does manage to inflict Ghidorah can easily regenerate from, including regrowing one of his heads after it is torn off. It takes Mothra helping Godzilla by activating a Super Mode that allows Godzilla to release powerful pulses of nuclear energy to basically atomize Ghidorah on a large scale faster than he can regenerate to finally put down Ghidorah for good.
  • The eponymous hero of Hancock is immune to bullets and trains. An apartment fire hurt him but even then, he survived. The only thing that can kill him is being near his wife.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army:
    • The Golden Army, due to their Healing Factor.
    • Downplayed with Johann Kraus. He is virtually invulnerable whenever he assumes his intangible form, but must return to his suit within a relatively short period of time.
  • All the immortals from the Highlander franchise have the Healing Factor/Resurrection version of this, vulnerable only to getting made a little shorter.
  • The Creeper in Jeepers Creepers is a regenerator with a twist: he cannibalizes his victims for parts. Literally.
  • From the Gag Dubbed And Edited movie, Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, Master Pain, also known as Betty. His invulnerability goes so far as including having a show of power by being beaten by several men with pole weapons. This did not go over nearly so well when the 'chosen one' tries to replicate it...After Training from Hell, Chosen One is able to harm him in one on one combat, but he's still extremely hard to hurt. It turns out that the triangular caps on his chest are the source of his power, and ripping them out not only removes it but kills him.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    • Dorian Gray in The Movie is of the Regeneration/Regrowth type. It could also be a form of Divine Protection, as the damage and aging he sustains is magically transferred to his picture, rather than healed.
    • Mina Harker also has a high Healing Factor, as she's a vampire.
      Dorian (when fighting Mina): This could go on all day.
  • The main villain, Kamawas, of The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines is immortal and invulnerable thanks to a magical voodoo amulet he wears, which makes him Feel No Pain and heals whatever injuries he receives within seconds. He's eventually vulnerable in the finale when the Princess, he kidnapped, being a Damsel out of Distress, pickpockets his amulet and flung it into the sea.
  • Various kinds show up in The Matrix movies:
    • In addition to diamond-powers, the Agents in The Matrix also manifest Body Surf and Fighting a Shadow tactics, taking over anyone still directly connected to the Matrix. Truly "killing" an Agent wasn't possible; the best one could do is kill the Agent where there are no bodies nearby for them to immediately retaliate. Neo showed enough brawn to knock unconscious three upgraded Agents at the start of The Matrix Reloaded, but these three returned to fight again later.
    • While it seemed that Neo utterly destroyed Agent Smith in the first film, Neo created a new Smith who, in the latter two films, could infect any plugged-in human or program and rewrite them into a copy of himself.
    • Neo is also effectively Made of Diamond (while inside the Matrix), specifically in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. He's able to block a sword cut with his hand, only drawing a tiny bit of blood. An on-looker lampshades this act but directs his mooks to continue to attack anyway, ignoring that Neo just proved himself to be ungodly tough even by Matrix standards. The character's NOT as invulnerable in the original movie until he learns to dis-believe the reality of the artificial world at the film's conclusion (and therefore seize the means to manipulate it). When Neo meets the multiple Smiths for the first time in Reloaded ("The Burly Brawl"), it's a case of Diamond vs. Diamond as neither can defeat the other no matter how hard they struck. Smith does draws the stalemate close to a win since there was only one Neo, who escapes from a dog-pile of nearly 100 Smiths atop him.
    • The Twins from The Matrix sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, combine Made of Air with Regeneration. Not only can they turn intangible at will, but while intangible they almost instantly heal any injuries they have sustained while in corporeal form. On the other hand, the Twins couldn't hurt anyone when intangible either, which the heroes used to their advantage.
  • The Mighty One: This is the powers granted by whomever who learned all five creeds of the Tong Zi sect, coveted by the main villain, who ends up being insanely invulnerable in his final battle. Lets just say getting a sword through his brain doesn't even slow him down...
  • The titular creature in the horror parody Monster in the Closet: it emerges unscathed from an artillery bombardment, being electrocuted and shot with a prototype laser. (It turns out it can only be destroyed when all closets in the world are destroyed.)
  • The nameless monster from the film No Such Thing is completely invulnerable except possibly to the invention of an arcane genius, and as he wants very much to die (he is billions of years old, or at least believes himself to be based on his memories), is seeking the hard-to-find scientist.
  • Inspector — sorry, Chief Inspector — Jacques Clouseau would seem to be an example of the "Extremely Lucky" variant of this trope.
  • This trope applies to most of the horror movie Psycho Killers — at least the ones who got sequels.
    • Michael Myers from Halloween, the original slasher movie bad villain was inspired by Yul Brenner's character in Westworld.
    • Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th progresses into it in Jason X, being given regenerative powers, explaining why he can't be killed. When he morphs into Über Jason, he becomes more Made of Diamond than he already was. In Freddy vs. Jason, it's outright stated that he's immortal (since not even Freddy Krueger could kill him). Jason has the partial justification of being dead to begin with (he drowned as a kid).
    • Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street is a combination of Fighting a Shadow and in some movies The Proxy. He can be pulled out of the dream world, and then either made to disappear, or with opening an old-fashioned can of whoopass. Freddy's Dead states that every time he is killed, he will be resurrected by the dream demons who gave him his powers in the first place.
    • This characteristic led to some fan skepticism when Freddy vs. Jason was announced. By their series' respective finales both Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees had morphed into for all intents and purposes immortal beings, so what's the point in a fight when neither side can win? One of them does win by the end (or technically, the humans do while the other killer is still standing), but even that was muddled by the Sequel Hook. When they do fight directly, it's pretty much Made of Diamond versus Fighting a Shadow. When dragged into the real world Freddy is significantly weaker, although he's still pretty good competition to Jason.
    • Oh, you just burned Chucky, followed by decapitating him & tearing half of his limbs off? News flash, he can still kill you! Infact, even if you do manage to kill him, he can just possess another doll...
  • John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness:
    Spock: Scan for lifesigns.
    Sulu: No-one could have survived that.
    Spock: He could.
  • Terminator. The first Terminator "merely" has Super-Toughness, but other examples do fit this trope:
  • In The Thing (1982) we have...well, the Thing. Part of what makes the film so terrifying and such Paranoia Fuel is that it only takes ONE cell for the creature to survive. The fact that it's basically a virus that spreads its cells to others makes it that much worse and nearly impossible to kill.
  • Clu in TRON: Legacy is the "Divine Protection" variety, in a manner. He was created by Kevin Flynn to be his assistant and stand-in while Kevin isn't in the Grid. To ensure that Clu was still there if he left, he programmed Clu to be impervious to physical harm. Unfortunately, that came back to bite Kevin in the ass... When Clu executes his Coup, Tron single-handedly dices up all the other black guards accompanying Clu, but when Tron starts attacking Clu, a cutting stroke with a data disc is merely shrugged off.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Toons are, for all intents and purposes, invulnerable to the point where they'll suffer temporary Amusing Injuries at most. However, Judge Doom found a way to permanently kill Toons - namely, The Dip, which is explained to be a blend of turpentine, acetone, and benzene.
  • From Wishmaster, trying to wish for the Djinn to go kill himself is beyond pointless. The Djinn instantly regenerates after he is ordered to blow his own head off by the heroine. "That which is eternal cannot die". The Djinn does admit it hurt immensely, so he's not absolutely invulnerable.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • The Darklords are explicitly described as impossible to kill with mundane or even most magical means. They can be banished to another world (one possible way to deal with Darklord Haakon), but otherwise you need a divinely powered weapon such as the Sommerswerd. Although it is later revealed that Darklord-forged weapons (like Helshezag, the Dagger of Vashna or a Zejar-Dulaga arrow) can also kill a Darklord — no doubt on purpose, since other Darklords are the most likely enemies they can have to confront.
    • Major demonic beings, such as the Chaos-Master and Naar's Demonlords, are also impossible to fight with mundane or even ordinary magic weapons. Attacking Tagazin with a non-magical blade just destroy the weapon — and this is with a mere projection of the Demonlord on Magnamund, much weaker than his true form. You need to find their specific weaknesses or use their true names against them. On the other hand, the Sommerswerd once again always proves adequate for the task, although you must be ready for very tough fights.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Hindu Mythology:
    • The Asura Hiranyakashipu underwent ascesis for several millennia to earn a boon from the Creator, Brahma. According to the boon, he was not to be slain by any creation of Brahma. Neither day or night, neither inside nor outside an abode, neither in the sky nor on earth, he was to meet death. He was not to be slain by a living or lifeless being, either armed or unarmed. Eventually, he was killed by Lord Vishnu in the form of Narasimha (man lion hybrid) who transcended life. At twilight, Narasimha sat on a threshold, held Hiranyakashipu on his lap and eviscerated him with his claws.
    • Lot of Asuras and Rakshasas request the boon invulnerability with respect to different races.
    • The Sage Durvasa tells Krishna to cover his body with rice gruel. However Krishna did not cover his soles with the gruel, so Durvasa told him that death would assail him from the sole. Years later, a stray arrow pierces the sole of Krishna, slowly killing him.
  • In the Shahnameh, Esfandiyar receives a boon that no weapon would pierce his body. Rostam kills Esfandiyar by shooting a double headed arrow into his eyes, because that was the only part that wasn't invulnerable (Esfandiyar had closed his eyes when bathing in the pool that granted him invulnerability).
  • Greek Mythology:
    • Achilles. His skin was impenetrable because his mother, a nymph named Thetis, dipped him in the waters of the Styx. His only weak spot was his heel, which didn't touch the water because it was where Thetis was holding him. Of course, this legend leads to a bit of Fridge Logic, even referenced in the movie Troy, as to why Achilles would bother wearing all that armor if that were the case. Even as a status symbol, it wouldn't need to be as protective as a mortal's. Achilles is actually depicted as fighting naked in a lot of Greek art... but so are most Greek heroes.
    • The Nemean Lion also had impenetrable skin, according to Pindar and Bacchylides (both c. 480 BCE). The only way Hercules managed to kill it was either choking it or shooting it in the mouth with arrows (depending on the version).
    • Antaeus, the giant wrestler. According to Roman writer Ovid, he could not be defeated as long as he was touching the ground, as he was the son of Gaia, the Earth. Hercules quickly caught on, and finally killed him by holding him above the ground and crushing him to death in his arms.
    • The Lernaean Hydra's first eleven heads would grow two more heads for each one cut off. Hercules either used fire or the hydra's own poison to cauterize the necks. But the 12th was completely immortal, so Hercules just buried it under a rock. (A very large rock)
  • In Celtic Mythology, the warrior Ferdiad has invulnerable skin. He and Cú Chulainn fought for three days until Cú Chulainn drove his magic spear through Ferdiad's anus, unleashing the barbs in the spear throughout his body.
  • The hero Siegfried from Nibelungenlied and German folk legend became nearly invulnerable by bathing in the blood of a dragon, which made his skin impenetrable (except for a spot on his shoulder).
  • Arthurian Legend:
    • In certain stories, Sir Gawain had a sword (Galantine) that made him invincible for as long as the sun shone on him. He and Sir Lancelot once fought a duel starting at sunrise. Lancelot won by blocking every strike until sundown; 12 hours later.
    • Sir Gawain himself fought the Green Knight; who challenged him to a "head-cutting off contest" with the offer that Gawain could go first. The Green Knight just put his head back on and said it was his turn. (There's more to the story, but that part has the trope.)
    • The scabbard of King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, would protect against any blow struck at Arthur. The beginning of the end of Camelot was when someone stole the scabbard.
  • Baldur/Balder/Baldr, god of everything good in Norse Mythology was made invulnerable by his mother, Frigg, who worried that he'd die. The only thing on earth that could harm him was mistletoe, for reasons that vary based on telling (either Frigg simply didn't think it could harm him anyway, or she couldn't because the mistletoe never touches the ground, and Frigg is an earth deity). To test this out, the other gods decided to play a game where they threw their strongest weapons at Balder, watching them bounce of harmlessly. Loki, however, being the trickster that he is, made a spear from mistletoe, and gave it to Balder's blind brother Hodr, who uses it to accidentally kill his brother.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The purpose of a monster heel is often to create a wrestler who appears to be invulnerable. That is, the hapless opponent (almost always a jobber or a low- to mid-carder) will try out damaging moves, but the monster heel will brush them off and not even so much as be fazed. Of course, then the monster heel then brutally beats his opponent into submission. The end result, as always, is to eventually create a matchup with the organization's lead face or champion, wherein the Nigh Invulnerability trope begins to fade.
  • The Undertaker: During his early years, because of Mark Calaway's uncanny ability to No-Sell even his opponent's most damaging moves.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Signature power of the Mysteron Agents and the eponymous Phlebotinum Rebel in both incarnations of Captain Scarlet, although the method varies: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons has them as classic Made of Diamond Implacable Men, while in the remake Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet they're more vulnerable but will still get up again right after being put down. Both versions also mix in shades of the Fighting a Shadow version since the Agents are merely cloned puppets and the Mysterons themselves remain aloof and untouchable no matter how many plots Spectrum foils.
  • Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: Yin Shih-jen can "liquidize his body", which allows him to travel through the earth and gives him nigh invulnerability to every attack. Before the season starts, Chin Chia-hsien discovered his weakness and forced him to be his lackey or die. From there, a genuine friendship grew.

  • BIONICLE featured Vezon and Fenrakk. When cursed by the Mask of Life, they gained the power to absorb any energy tossed at them and get stronger. Even throwing them in lava did not help, they just came out bigger. They were stopped by freezing time and removing the mask, but even after that, Vezon still has a knack for not dying.

  • In accordance with The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples Marcellus in Hamlet describes the apparition of old Hamlet thus after throwing his spear fails to have any effect: "It is as the air, invulnerable."

    Visual Novels 
  • Monokuma from Danganronpa isn't particularly invulnerable (though trying to kill him will cause him to explode in your face instead,) but there are so many replacement Monokumas that there's no point in trying to take him on with physical force. In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, he claims that the number of replacement Monokumas available are many, many times greater than there are people on the face of the Earth. Though it turns out that, in this game, Monokuma is a self-replicating virus in a virtual simulation, so he doesn't even need pre-built replacements.
  • From Dies Irae:
    • The priest Valeria Trifa is nearly completely invulnerable to damage. The amount of stuff he shrugs off is nothing short of astounding. In fact, his main way of fighting is to simply let his opponent tire themselves out, fruitlessly striking against his defenses while he sneaks in the occasional counterattack. The way he himself describes, if the souls in everyone else is like regular carbon, the those that are within him are so condensed that they are more comparable to diamond. His armor does have one kink in it though. In order to use his Beri'ah he has to open up a metaphorical hole in his defenses, leaving him just as squishy as a regular human while gaining devastating offensive capabilities. Ultimately, the reason he is even able to have such absurd defenses comes from the fact that he is the retainer of Reinhard's physical body who, needless to say, is just as difficult to injure. And unfortunately, he does not need to open his defenses to use his full power.
    • While Kei Sakurai's Beri'ah is active she is of the Made of Air variety. Her whole body turns to flame causing whatever attacks made against her to just phase right through her causing no damage. As an added bonus, she is also able to phase through whatever guard or defense an opponent might set up, allowing her to strike them with impunity. Despite this though, some individuals know how to get past this defense.
    • Shirou Yusa have what can best be described as having Plot Armor as an actual super power. The plot demands that he survives and thus, he will, no matter how improbable or how powerful an opponent he is up against. All this due to him being a Cosmic Paything and having a really important role to play out in the script Mercurius has prepared for everyone.
    • Upon achieving Emanation and invoking his law, Ren Fujii is able to set his own history and time to zero, preventing any change from occurring on him. He has to constantly maintain this however since if he stops, his time will start to move again and thus allow for change to occur. But while it is active, the only thing that can hurt him is if someone else has also Emanated and the strength of their law is either equal or superior to his.
  • Fantasy beings in Dra+Koi are... well, Fantasy and as such aren't considered to really exist, thus they can only be harmed by other Fantasy.
  • Many characters in Nasuverse have Nigh-Invulnerability, though one of the main themes is "death is inescapable".
    • Most True Ancestors can locally reverse time to regenerate their bodies, even if they're completely blown apart. Arcueid was even able to revive after being killed Deader than Dead by Shiki's Mystic Eyes of Death Perception at the beginning of the story, albeit by rebuilding her body from scratch at the cost of most of her available power.
    • Ciel is unkillable for the duration of Tsukihime. As explained, because Ciel is the previous host of Roa, and Roa is still alive (knowing Reincarnation and all), the world itself will not let her die to prevent a paradox from occurring. Ciel herself possesses extreme regeneration abilities.
    • One of the antagonists, Nero, has a body composed of pure "chaos", and contained within are 666 beasts. If they are killed outside of his body, the chaos will return to his body and regenerate; he only dies when all 666 lives inside are destroyed at once, making him practically indestructible. Even if you hit him with a force that can destroy continents, he'll still probably have 100 lives or so left.
    • In the sister universe The Garden of Sinners, Aozaki Toko has a replacement body, which is completely identical to her original in every way. It's even flesh and blood, apparently, and only activates when the original body is killed. Don't bother trying to figure out which is the real one. It's a bit confusing.
    • It is extremely unclear whether or not the Ultimate Ones, can truly be destroyed. It is said that they are so alien that death is simply something that does not happen to them, and the few who have been "killed" have continued to exist in some form or another.
    • While all the Servants of Fate/stay night can probably fall under this category to some degree, special mention must be made for Berserker, aka Heracles who, thanks to his Noble Phantasm, God Hand, not only can't be affected by any non-fatal attack (an attack has to be at least A-rank, in terms of power, to hurt him), but regenerates until you kill him 12 times. Yes, you read that correctly, he has to be killed 12 times in order for him to truly "die" as a Servant. And it makes him resistant to any attack that manages to kill him, so he has to be killed in twelve different ways in order to finish him off, although some really powerful attacks can take multiple 'lives' at once.
    • Keeping in mind that other servants include the aforementioned Berserker, Fate/stay night's Lancer (Cú Chulainn) is canonically the hardest servant to kill. In his legend, he fought off an entire army through a series of duels. Moreover, when he finally started to die, he tied himself to a post so that he could stand up. In the middle of a war. He continued fighting and killing until his last breath. He also cut off the hand of his killer, post-mortem. In fact because he was so impossible to kill, his enemies didn't even believe he was dead until a bird landed on him. This doesn't really show in two of the three routes since he gets hit with more or less instant-kill attacks that he can only stay alive from for a little bit longer that being his heart being pierced by his own cursed spear or being destroyed by a powerful curse before his body gets eaten by an Eldritch Abomination while he's in shock, but in the one route he does he fought Gilgamesh for twelve hours, the same enemy who Berserker didn't even last as many minutes against.
    • One of Saber's Noble Phantasms is Avalon, The Everdistant Utopia which grants her passive regeneration and prevents aging, and when activated it shifts her into another plane of existence, which will No-Sell almost all, if not every single attack in existence. Unfortunately, it was stolen from her while she was alive, so she doesn't get to use it in a Grail War. To demonstrate how much it can protect you, in the prequel, Shirou's father, Emiya Kiritsugu, used it and it regenerates his destroyed heart instantly. And then 10 years later it is implanted to Shirou, and allows him to survive many, many shits he puts himself through. And this is the weapon used passively. When she got it back in the Fate route, she even survived a direct hit from Gilgamesh's Infinity +1 Sword Ea.
    • Many, many other Servants in Nasuverse has this. Siegfried, Achilles, and Karna from Fate/Apocrypha could respectively put Heracles to shame in this trope. The first can tank A-rank attacks (that will tear into Heracles easily) like mosquito bites anywhere on his body that doesn't hit the leaf-shaped mark on his back, and will even reduce damage from Noble Phantasms. The second can't even be hurt by anything that lacks Divinity and takes reduced damage from those with a lower Divinity rank than him, which is C-rank, unless they strike him in the heel, which disables said protection, but he's got the survival ability to rival Cú Chulainn even without it. The last, however, is in his own league. Not only does he lack an Achilles' Heel like the other two, his divine armor reduces any damage, physical, magical or even conceptual into 1/10 of its original value. Before taking into account its own and Karna's own natural defense. And Karna himself is only mildly inconvenienced by injuries as severe as having stakes skewering him from the inside out. Note that this isn't what his armor should do in the real myth, where it should give him Complete Immortality.
  • Saya, in Saya no Uta. She (and Yoh) are clearly hurt by bullets, but have a special biology that allows them to heal. Liquid nitrogen is Saya's only known weakness.

    Web Animation 
  • Lapoleon in the Best Fiends shorts is impossible to kill, being a cockroach. In the game that the web shorts are based on, his bio describes him as being able to withstand atomic blasts, but the shorts expand this to be everything, leading him to be able to withstand thing such as fire, poisoned food, and a bomb (though the latter he finds to be a terribly cliche way of offing him).
  • The Nightmare animatronics from Five Nights at Freddy's: The Stories are impossible to kill which explains how they were able to take over most of the world and almost kill all of humanity.
  • The Frollo Show: Ronald McDonald may as well be considered immortal for all we care. Not only is he shown to cope perfectly fine with having his body decapitated (later shown recovering as if it never occurred to begin with), but even the destruction of a multiverse itself, with him contained inside would be absolute benign to him.
  • Splendid the flying squirrel version of Superman from Happy Tree Friends is practically immune to anything that can kill a regular character. This is most prominent in "Breaking Wind" where he survives an explosion that temporarily destroys the entire planet! In fact, his only official death was caused by Kryptonite Factor.
  • Helluva Boss: High-ranking demons such as Stolas and Charlie cannot be killed by ordinary means. The only known method of killing them is to use angelic weapons.
  • The souls of the "morally compromised malefactors" that inhabit HFIL are indestructible as far as they have discerned. This is not a good thing for them as (A) they've been fitted with ki-suppressing anklets that track their every move, ensuring that they cannot escape, nor can they remove the anklet by any means, including through self-amputation, and (B) they can feel every bit of pain subjected upon them, as Raditz had the misfortune of discovering when Freeza had the Ginyu Force pull him apart by the limbs.
  • From Madness Combat: Tricky after his Reality Compromised powerup, and his demon form and The Auditor, who is Made of... Dark Stuff, though as of Abrogation, it's averted as Hank finds that he's vulnerable to electricity attacks.
  • Mario's Castle Calamity...the castle. Everything that's thrown at it either goes back to the thrower, gets sidetracked or doesn't do anything once it connects. In the rare cases where it is destroyed, it usually gets put back together, often by someone throwing a 1-up mushroom at its remains.
  • Elain from The Pink City crashes through the window of an office building and fall several stories, splattering on the pavement. She recovers immediately afterwards, and takes more punishment as the series ges on.
  • Red vs. Blue has the Meta, who has survived the following: a missile pod missile, sustained Gatling gun fire, Tex, several point-blank shotgun rounds, a knife in both shoulders and getting stabbed in the torso with the energy sword. Earlier in the timeline, before he was anything other than a human in special armor, in the space of 5 minutes, he took a sniper round to the chest, 9 pistol rounds to the throat, a collision at high speeds with big-rig truck and finally falling off a bridge. All it cost him was his voice.
  • Tonin: Vilano-san tricked a spirit into making him indestructible so nobody can harm him while he's casting spells. Fortunately, that invulnerability comes with a Weaksauce Weakness.

    Real Life 
  • Kazuyuki Fujita's skull.
    • Ken Shamrock once threw in the towel against him after starting to have heart palpitations after whaling on him to little effect for the entire fight. You know you're nigh invulnerable if letting an expert martial artist uselessly beat on your adamantium skull until his heart gives out is a viable combat tactic!
  • Tardigrades are microscopic animals that are among the most resilient organisms on Earth. They can survive extreme heat and near Absolute Zero temperatures, being exposed to lethal doses of environmental toxins and radiation, and can withstand six times the pressure of the deepest part of the ocean. They can also live without water for a decade, and can even thrive in the vacuum of space.
  • Many extremophilic bacteria, especially those that can survive in extreme heat or cold, toxic, and/or saline environments, which would otherwise kill off animals. Microbes are also the life forms that are most likely to survive extinction events during Earth's history, and will likely still survive even long after humans finally become extinct, perhaps being the only life forms that will be able to survive up to a billion years, and speaking of which, the only thing that would result in the complete extinction of even microbial life would be an ever bigger, hotter, and brighter Sun as it gradually ages by then.
  • Zeppelins during early World War I fell under the "made of air" category, much to the dismay of the British defenders, who tried almost everything to shoot them down, to no avail. They tried More Dakka. Passed right through, didn't even slow them down. They tried rockets and artillery. They couldn't explode on impact with fabric. They even tried using an exploding Flechette Storm. By 1916, not a single one had been shot down. But then, they finally turned the tables with incendiary ammunition, which could ignite the Zeppelins' hydrogen. And even that was only because the US had cut off Germany's supply of helium pre-war. Had Germany had an alternate source, their Zeppelins really would be unstoppable, since helium doesn't ignite.
    • It helps that, unlike blimps, the lifting gas of the big rigid airships isn't really pressurized, because it doesn't have to be. So even though the zeppelins got shot full of holes, and they did lose a bit of lifting gas, it wasn't forceful (like a deflating balloon), and they usually had enough time to make it home.
  • Michael Malloy, a target of gangster/bootlegger duo Tony Marino and Joe Murphy in the early 1930s. He survived being given enough alcohol to be fatal, being given whisky spiked with antifreeze, being given several drinks spiked with antifreeze, turpentine, horse liniment, and rat poisoning, being fed a sandwich made with spoiled sardines, metal shavings, and tacks, being fed a sandwich made with oysters soaked in wood alcohol (which could cause blindness, and that didn't work either), being buried in snow in below-zero temperatures, and being hit by a taxi. They finally managed to kill him by knocking him out and gassing him, but it's still unknown how he survived all the attempts on his life.
  • Alan Magee, who survived 28 shrapnel wounds, severe oxygen deprivation and a 22,000 foot freefall in one sitting. He lived to the ripe old age of 84.
  • Badass of the Week cites Corporal Alvin York of the U.S. Army's 82d Infantry Division.
    York: I jes couldn't miss a German's head or body at that distance. And I didn't. Besides, it weren't no time to miss nohow.
    • The Germans, slowly realizing that York was somehow not dying from the hurricane of lead they were firing at him, sent a six-man squad to rush him. Since he had no bullets left in his rifle, York drew his M1911 pistol and shot them all down, back to front, so the ones in front wouldn't notice the others dying until too late. He then turned around to find that a German major had attempted to shoot him with his Luger, but missed York every time. Shortly after, York accepted an offer of surrender from the German major and marched all 130 or so remaining soldiers back to his base as prisoners (surviving several false surrender gambits including brushing off a hand grenade attack from one such, as well as heavy artillery fire all the while he was escorting the captured soldiers), after having had tens or hundreds of thousands of bullets from scores of heavy machine guns and rifles fired at him without leaving a mark on his body. Not enough gun, it seems. Incidentally, York himself believed that God protected and guided him during the battle...if he was right, this may be more of a literal example than it appears. He was also a pacifist, and went back to pray for the souls of the dead Americans and the dead Germans. He does have a pretty good case for that, doesn't he?
  • Grigori Rasputin was supposedly poisoned, shot, beaten, and stabbed in an assassination attempt before being bundled into a carpet and thrown into a freezing river, where it was long believed he finally died by drowning. However, according to his Wikipedia entry, new evidence claims there might not have been any poison in his body and the bullet wound to his head should have killed him instantly.
  • The American M1 Abrams main battle tank is a nigh unstoppable war machine. Many reports from tankers and troops alike will attest to seeing the tank survive very nasty scraps and being outnumbered at least 4 to 1 and still functioning. One report claimed that during a battle a tank was hit with nearly a dozen RPG's and shrugged off every one of them. Another with the aforementioned 4 to 1 tanks saw one Abrams squared off against 4 T-72's, all it needed was new tracks and it was put back into circulation. Even having its ammo cook off inside it doesn't take it out for good.
  • Black Holes are, for all intents and purposes, physically and utterly invulnerable. Throw anything into the event horizon - hyper-giants, neutron stars, the kitchen sink, even another black hole, etc. - and you'd simply end up with a larger, more powerful black hole. The fact of the matter is, nothing can escape its gravitational force, and the only method we know of to destroy a black hole would be Hawking Radiation. For your typical supermassive black hole, that means it will take upwards of around 10^70 years, so it would be best to stay away from them. Good Luck!
    • White dwarfs and neutron stars, the other type of stellar corpses, are much less tough than black holes (which easily destroy either one with their tidal forces, and same for a neutron star against s white dwarf), but by human (and non-degenerate matter) standards are still unimaginably tough— especially neutron stars, being able to destroy a star, and even live within one. Barring collisions between them, or sucking too much matter from a companion star that would cause them to collapse, the only ways to self-destroy them are proton decay (if that's possible at all), imploding into black holes (which would finally evaporate away in Hawking radiation), or the most massive white dwarfs (or rather black dwarfs, having long cooled down) self-destructing as supernovae (which would take far longer than a black hole fading away).
  • Sharks. They've survived since the Silurian period of Earth's history (which was 443.4–419.2 million years ago) and are still kicking today. For reference, they have so far survived four mass extinction events, one of which wiped out 90% of life on the planet at the time and the other took down the dinosaurs. Scientists believe that, provided we don't end up wiping them out (which is sadly plausible), sharks will likely keep going even long after we're gone. On an individual basis, however, their durability has greatly been exaggerated. It is false that they are immune to cancer as claimed by some people, but they are more resistant to it than most organisms.
  • Late-model Subaru automobiles have developed a reputation as cars that just will not bend or break in the event of a crash, leaving their occupants with only minor injuries (if any) even in nasty accidents that would kill the occupants of any other car. Their durability is such that fire and rescue teams have actually had problems cutting through their B-pillars to remove trapped occupants, and have needed new tools and tactics to deal with Subarus.
  • Chrysler's Imperial luxury marque had a similar reputation for durability in The '60s, such that they were banned from many demolition derbies because the winner would inevitably be the person who brought an Imperial to demolish the competition.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Made Of Air, Made Of Diamond, Nigh Invulnerable, Made Of Titanium


Luke Cage

After being put through an experiment, Luke Cage was given super strength and indestructible skin.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / NighInvulnerability

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