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No Saving Throw

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This unit is going to die.
This effect cannot be dispelled.
What is going to be your last move?
— "Death Sentence" effect description, Sonny 2

Hey, that guy is going to Mind Control you! It's all an illusion! Maybe, if you focus and struggle against his power, you can shell up some Heroic Resolve and resist the—!

Nope. Sorry. That's not how this works; there's No Saving Throw for this one.

In fiction, powers and abilities normally have some chance of failure. Whether it be through lack of skill, Heroic Willpower on the part of the would-be victim, or some other factor that makes the power less than 100% effective, there's always a chance that something won't work. But some powers are such that they work automatically if they hit, regardless of any special defenses, resistances, or countermeasures the person on the receiving end may have. You can't see through the illusion, you can't cure the poison, you can't resist the mind control, people hit by the Disintegrator Ray die instantly 100% of the time no matter how important they are. Even the Stone Wall cannot survive being hit by the Instakill Mook.

That said, just because it works every single time it lands doesn't make it infallible. A Guile Hero would make sure to find a workaround to mitigate its effects, even if they couldn't avoid them. Furthermore, the power or ability itself could be just as dangerous to the user as the target, especially considering the guaranteed consequences that come from mishandling it. It might require a significant amount of buildup or cooldown to use, leaving the user vulnerable while trying to use it. It might only be applicable in specific situations, or come with a high resource cost, and thus couldn't be used in normal circumstances. Finally, it could simply be Powerful, but Inaccurate, guaranteed to work if it lands.

The Trope Namer here is Dungeons & Dragons. In the earliest editions of the game, harmful effects (such as mind-controlling magic, dragon breath, illusions, or other supernatural nastiness) normally allow the character affected to make a saving throw of the dice to negate (or at least reduce) the effect. Unfortunately, though, some effects (such as the Level Drain ability of a wraith) do NOT allow a saving throw. If the move hits at all, you're level-drained and that's that. In later editions of D&D, where the designers tended to be more wary of rules that could frustrate players, these effects almost always have a chance to miss and/or be reversed later.

Contrast Always Accurate Attack; attacks with No Saving Throw are often Powerful, but Inaccurate to compensate. Complete opposite of No-Sell. May overlap with Evil Is Not a Toy. Sometimes involves Gameplay and Story Segregation. See also Unblockable Attack. As some of the examples above show, mind-affecting powers (especially Compelling Voice) are especially common examples of this if Heroic Willpower isn't a common defense. In serial works, it is not uncommon for something that was originally impossible to resist or dodge to eventually get resisted anyway, sometimes to the point of reducing the attack to The Worf Barrage.

Do not confuse with Author's Saving Throw.


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    Anime & Manga  
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • If you see the Star of Death, you're going to die. Period. Rei actually transfers this from Mamiya to himself, but the fact remained that his death was unavoidable.
    • Also, Rei's battle with Raoh is one huge example of this. Rei tries using a technique which should surely be unstoppable against Raoh, at the cost of his own life... but Raoh predicted what would happen and countered it immediately by throwing his cape over Rei and delivering him a Finger Poke of Doom! Normally, the technique Raoh used causes excruciating pain for three days followed by a gory death. But Rei's a super-badass secondary character. Surely he has Plot Armor? Nope. Raoh uses Hokuto Shinken just like his brother Kenshiro, and once you're hit with a technique from that style, mook, villain or even hero, You Are Already Dead. In fact, the only thing that delayed it further was one of Toki's techniques from the same style, which allowed him to live just a little longer at the cost of a more excruciating death.
  • Code Geass: Geasses in general can't be defended against unless it's related to the method of delivery (i.e. Lelouch's Magical Eye needs to make some form of direct eye contact, so he can't use it through a TV image or through a thick enough visor, but reflecting it off multiple mirror reflections can). The only thing that even has a chance of countering one is another Geass, but that's more of a case of bypassing some aspect of their Geass. It would be like a telepath not being able to read something that the target doesn't know. A Code Bearer seems to have some ability, but it's not elaborated on. Cyber-Jeremiah also has his Geass Canceller which also has no saving throw, but that's like how a healing spell doesn't have a saving throw; it's something you'd want to happen.
    • In the first season, a character manages to resist for just a moment because the command Lelouch accidentally gave was just so completely against every facet of their character. Lelouch accidentally orders Euphemia to kill every Japanese citizen in a stadium, and a horrified Euphemia manages to resist for a moment, begging to not go through with it. Doesn't stop the Geass from working, though.
    • In the second season, one character also manages to break out of a Geass, but it took years of work. Nunnally got over her father's artificially-induced blindness from a couple factors; his ability was not blindness but inducing Fake Memories, with going blind being a side-effect, and Nunnally never being said to recover from the actual affliction. Specifically, she was traumatized by a false memory and one of the side effects is that she never opened her eyes afterward. Finally overcoming the trauma and opening her eyes doesn't mean that the false memory (the actual direct effect of her father's Geass) went away. Besides, Lelouch just Geasses her to hand over what she's holding right after she opens her eyes, and though Nunnally again briefly resists, she still goes through with it.
    • The one and only time in the series that someone managed to prevent Lelouch's Geass from working was when he gave his target a command that was physically impossible. As Shirley is bleeding out, Lelouch desperately says "I order you not to die!" as a last-ditch effort to keep Shirley alive. Despite using his Geass on Shirley twice, it doesn't work, and Shirley still dies.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Happens in Dragon Ball GT during the Super 17 arc. Regular 17 is being mind controlled by Hell Fighter 17, and attacks 18, his sister. Krillin tries to bring him out, and he nearly goes back to normal before the other 17 enters his mind again and makes him shake off the good influence, at which point he kills Krillin instead.
    • If a God of Destruction in Dragon Ball Super feels angered enough, they'll extend their palm to their target and utter "Hakai". Anyone or anything aimed at by that God of Destruction will be instantly erased, soul included if the target was a living creature. As Whis points out: "There is nothing in this universe that Lord Beerus cannot destroy". The only way to block Hakai is to match the God of Destruction's power, but seeing as how no one's managed to match Beerus yet, it's as good as a One-Hit Kill. Turns out this also applies to other divine beings. Shame you can't ask Zamasu how he felt when Beerus erased him.
  • Bleach:
    • This is the reason Aizen's Zanpakutō, Kyōka Suigetsu, is considered overpowered. If you've seen his sword, he's hypnotized you and can control all your senses as he pleases. It's essentially permanent, undetectable, and it's not even the final form of his sword. Unless one is touching the blade itself before he activates its shikai. Not even Yhwach, who with The Almighty was effectively The Omniscient, could see through his illusions (effectively seeing "fake" futures) and it proved a key factor in his defeat.
    • Tsukishima from the Full Bring Arc has a similarly broken power, he inserts himself into the past of anything he cuts. For a person, this could mean anything from, "Tsukishima is my best friend forever and I don't want to fight him," to "Tsukishima has known me for a long time, therefore he knows all my powers and weaknesses." All it takes is a nick, and it's in effect.
      • It still fails against Byakuya because the latter considers his honour-debt to Ichigo more important than anything else. He therefore kills Tsukishima while acknowledging that he was the most important person in his life. His actual method for killing him was something he invented during the battle, after Tsukishima used his ability to learn all of Byakuya's existing techniques.
    • There's also Barragan's deathly aura. As Sui Feng found out the hard way, anything it touches will decay unto dust, and like the Amaterasu example below, the only way to stop it is to cut off the afflicted body part. Indeed, his skill was so far into this trope that it allowed him to be Hoist by His Own Petard when the attack was turned against him.
    • As Nodt has the power to inflict irrational fear of death. It can technically be opposed by willpower, but only in the sense that it takes longer to reach full effect. Once it does, though, the fear keeps building until either you die or the Reishi that he injected into you is purged. Rukia's bankai produces an exception to this: since her body temperature drops to absolute zero, she's biologically dead while using it, and only living beings can feel fear.
  • The Mangekyo Sharingan's Amaterasu attack in Naruto works like this. Everything in its range, which is essentially everything and anything in the caster's line of sight, catches fire, and there's no way, unless the caster wills it, for the fire to be put out. Apparently, the black fire burns straight for seven days and seven nights. If it gets on you, the only way to stop it is to sever that limb. It's also possible to use a sealing jutsu to remove the flames, but they're still burning inside whatever they get sealed into, and should the seal be released or broken the fire would spread again. It's still however fully possible to dodge it if you're fast enough to keep ahead of the caster's eyesight (as the Raikage did during his fight with Sasuke, and only got hit with it when he deliberately attacked the Amaterasu-enshrouded Susanoo in order to punch through it and strike Sasuke) or to block it if you can get a cover up in time (as Gaara did with his Sand Shield reacting to the fire's generation in the same battle or Naruto using the Nine-Tails chakra cloak to protect him during their final battle).
  • Once your full name is written in the Death Note, you're going to die. The only reason a Death Note would fail to kill someone whose full name has been written is if that person's name had already been written down in another Death Note: no matter what, the victim's death by magical killer notebook is assured. While there are a couple of exceptions in the Death Note's rules, the situations they occur in are so unlikely as to be practically impossiblenote  and never come up in the story.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: Enigma, the Stand of villain Terunosuke Miyamoto, can turn things into paper. He can attack people only if they act on the "tell" they display after a scare, and only if Terunosuke is already 100% sure that's the correct "tell" (for ex. he might have to scare you, discover the "tell", then scare you again to activate the ability). However, if the condition is fulfilled, Enigma's attack cannot be evaded, blocked, or affected by Stand powers.
  • Having a lot of Life Energy in Ayakashi Triangle can give you incredible resistance to most forms of attacks. Sosuke's Vampiric Draining directly targets the energy itself, completely negating any protection it provides the owner. Shirogane was too durable for Matsuri to hurt even with a direct strike from his sword, but Sosuke still incapacitated him with one hit, then took away almost all the rest of his energy in seconds.

    Comic Books 
  • Darkseid's Omega Beams can't be dodged or blocked, and unless their target has Kryptonian-like invulnerability, they're not survivable. A case in point, Brainiac 5's force fields have been proven to withstand Superman's most powerful blows; and still, in The Great Darkness Saga, Darkseid destroys Brainiac 5's shield with a single optic blast.
  • Superman's weakness to magic is sometimes this: Rather than outright weakening or hurting him like kryptonite, magic is able to completely bypass Superman's invulnerability and it affects him just as it would any other being.

    Fan Works 
  • Hellsister Trilogy:
    • Antimatter can destroy anything made of positive matter, which is because Satan Girl, a nigh indestructible Kryptonian doppelganger gets finally killed when she gets dumped into an anti-matter star.
    • Nothing and nobody can dodge or resist Darkseid's Omega Beams. In "The Apokolips Agenda" he's facing several heroes who can survive an exploding nova and outrace light, and his eye beams take all of them out instantly.

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship, the effects of the Memory Stone cause Laser-Guided Amnesia in anybody its user wants, stealing or erasing specific memories. This effect can't be countered or blocked, no matter how powerful the target is or how precious the memories are. The heroes end up having to work around the effects instead of countering them, mostly by using messages and video recordings. The climax shows the Memory Stone can also erase years of memories when Wallflower Blush uses it to erase all of Sunset's memories of being human and of high school, reverting Sunset's behavior to that of when she first entered the human world.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Princess Cadence finds out the hard way that Obsidian Orbs are unblockable when she tries to stop one with her magic, but it breaks through and turns her into a crystal statue.
  • In Incredibles 2, Screenslaver's Mind Control can be negated by not looking at the hypnotic screen... but the goggles, which plant those screens right up against your eyeballs, are much harder to avoid, and nobody who ends up in a set escapes through their own efforts. When Bob tries to use The Power of Love to get through to a goggled Helen, Evelyn has her fake it working, then slap a set of goggles on Bob as well. None of the hypnotised supers, not even Frozone, not even their parents, defy the order to attack the Parr children, even though none of them are fully grown and Jack-Jack is a literal baby. Everyone who's been goggled is freed by another character, starting with Jack-Jack removing the set that are on Helen.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the first book of The Dresden Files, nothing can protect you from the Big Bad's lightning-powered heart-ripping spell. Except, of course, striking first.
    • The RPG rulebook clarifies that this is the result of the absurd amount of powernote  in the spell, measured in shifts of power. A typical "attack" spell used in combat can have between 3-10, which can kill, but the target has the chance to mitigate it or negate it via his defensive roll and taking consequences instead. The heart-exploding spell generated over 35 shifts, which is enough to simply overwhelm each and every way a character can mitigate damage.
    • The rules for a lethal Entropy Curse are similar, in that to avoid it, you'd have to roll somewhere in the mid 20s to dodge the "attack," with a skill that likely maxes out at 5, and dice that on their best roll will only add a +4.
    • All that said, the RPG book is explicit and insistent in averting this trope inasmuch as you always get a defense roll. Some tactics might effectively reduce or augment the defense roll, and in situations such as the Entropy curse a defense roll might, in fact, be meaningless, but you always get the chance to defend.
  • Most spells in the Harry Potter series seem to allow for no chance to resist if they are properly cast and hit the target. However, there are counterspells. The one spell that there is "no" counterspell for is the Killing Curse. It's a major plot point that Harry Potter himself is the only one to have survived it, and that turns out to be due to circumstances that gave him uniquely strong protection. That said, it is possible to get around this by putting a physical obstacle in the path of the spell's energy. There's also a very evil form of ritual magic that can be used to survive the Killing Curse, but part of you would still die and what's left would be something less than fully human even when (or rather if) you recover your physical form.
  • In The Wheel of Time, anything touched by balefire - whether that be a physical object, a person, a city- will be instantly and irrevocably erased from existence. The only way to survive is to dodge it or kill the person making it before they let loose. However, in the last book, someone discovers an antithesis, turning a one-sided onslaught into a Beam-O-War.
    • It can't destroy Cuendillar, though. And it's possible to divert it with Callandor. And in the World of Dreams, where reality is shaped by thought, it's possible to negate Balefire with a sufficient application of will. It's implied that the character who does so was able to simply because he didn't know it was supposed to be unblockable.
    • Balefire goes so far as to retroactively erase those struck by it as well. This can potentially cause the target's recent actions to be nullified. Theoretically, one could "save" against the spell by having another channeler use balefire on the person who used balefire to erase you, removing the effects of the original balefire spell from history.
  • In Xanth, this trope is the reason the Magician Trent is considered so dangerous before his Heel–Face Turn. His Forced Transformation powers work on everyone, period. When he tries to use them against Bink, who has permanent Anti-Magic, the only possible counters the antimagic can create are for Trent to miss or to hit something else, and it has to cause increasingly implausible events in order to block Trent's attacks. The transformation magic is that powerful, there's no defense against actually getting hit. Notably, this is the first time Bink's antimagic is ever forced to reveal its own existence in order to protect him from magical harm; for his entire life up to that point it had operated subtly enough that nobody even suspected Bink had a magical ability.
  • Worm has several:
    • As a part of the setting's take on mental powers (no 'classic' psychics/telepaths), Mind Control powers don't have saving throws because they have a physical basis. The main character telepathically controls all bugs within range automatically with no mental effort. Regent's People Puppets power works by hijacking the victim's nervous system- once he has control, it can't be fought because how do you fight your own nervous system? Cherish's power modifies the chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain to let her manipulate emotions, even to the extent of Psychic-Assisted Suicide. The counters we see to Master effects all involve not getting hit in the first place- Valefor's Hypnotic Eyes are countered by blinding him, Regent can't affect non-human nervous systems, Canary's Compelling Voice doesn't work on someone who can't hear her, etc.
    • This is also the basis of Flechette's "sting" power; when she empowers an attack with it, it goes through every defense. It's possible to dodge, but nothing can tank it.
    • The Siberian works more-or-less the same way; where she is, nothing else can be, and everything that she doesn't extend her effect to gets violently pushed out of the way. The only thing that works on her are similarly "inviolable" effects, such as Fletchette's (above) or Clockblocker's powers. Two inviolable powers will cancel each other out on contact; Clockblocked objects will fall back into normal time, Fletchette's weapons lose their Sting effect, and Siberian vanishes until her controller re-summons her.
  • In Labyrinths of Echo, Magister Honna's headband was enchanted to protect even against this kind of artifact weapons. However, it could only do so once, burning up afterward.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Every so often in Power Rangers, like once per team or less, there's a Monster of the Week whose effect on a morphed Ranger is exactly the same as on a hapless civilian. The last Ranger standing had better think fast when dealing with a monster where one hit equals game over!
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Picard in "The Best of Both Worlds" told the Borg hive he would fight them with all his strength. The Borg replied "Strength is irrelevant." In the follow-up episode after the two-parter, Picard tearfully confessed that he was completely helpless.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Tsukihime and the Garden of sinners, if someone bearing the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception hits you in your body's point of death, it's a One-Hit Kill with no chance of resurrection. This has been shown to work on creatures who can reincarnate, a gestalt entity of 666 different beasts that ordinarily have to all be killed at the same moment, someone who can reverse time to repair damage, a creature that the world itself was actively working to sustain, and even something that wasn't technically alive to begin with. One target managed to hold on for a few seconds, but that's about as much as any creature could hope for. Once you're struck in your point of death, You Are Already Dead. Period. The only way this can fail is if the target's concept of "death" is too alien for the person with the Mystic Eyes to comprehend, such as the Eldritch Abomination ORT. In such a case, the result is a No-Sell. Arcueid survivied the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, but she wasn't directly killed; her body fell apart via cutting lines. Since this isn't fatal for Arcueid's species, she pulled herself back together, but was left with wounds that would not heal.
  • In Long Live the Queen, if you choose to sacrifice Charlotte to the Kraken in Week 37, then in Week 38 Lucille will murder you without any opportunity to prevent it with a skill check, if you haven't had her executed yet.

    Web Comics 
  • Knights of Buena Vista does a variation. Walter the Game Master is so annoyed with Adriana's Min-Maxing that he doesn't allow her to make a saving throw against a Hypnosis spell (although he does come up with a reasonable justification).
  • In this strip of anti-HEROES, Aldran defeats a druid who's been constantly dodging his spells by tricking him into swallowing a Delayed Blast Fireball spell that was mixed in with some berries.
    Aldran: And sadly, I don't think you get a reflex save in this kind of situation. So I guess what I'm trying to say here is... Dodge that one, nature-boy.
  • The Order of the Stick: The ultimate duel between Redcloack and the high mage of Azure City, which thanks to the comic already having had an epic battle sequence using up the "effects budget" just consists of them calling attacks and saying "made my saving throw", until Redcloack calls an attack the mage can't beat. A while later, we see him in the afterlife realizing he had made his saving throw after all.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-2935 leads to a parallel universe where all life has been killed at the same time by a mysterious force. The page goes in length as to how nothing even remotely living or sapient observed in that universe has survived. Microbes are not immune. Artificial intelligences are not immune. A Living Statue that was questionably "living" to begin with is not immune. Not even an eldritch reptillian beast whose most noteworthy trait is recovering from any and all attempts to kill it is immune. The closest thing that "survived" the effect is a completely automated, not-sentient emergency message system, which is how the Foundation discovered SCP-2935 in the first place.

    Web Videos 
  • Tales From My D&D Campaign: If a mind hunter tries to dominate you, it succeeds with no save. If you're under the effects of Mind Blank (a high-level spell that normally grants total immunity to mind-affecting magic), and a mind hunter tries to control you, it still succeeds with no save. If you're protected by at least two separate souces of Mind Blank, then you get a saving throw against the mind control.

    Western Animation 
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Cat Noir's Cataclysm destroys whatever it touches. Nothing has been demonstrated to be capable of resisting this effect.
    • Hawk Moth's akumatization is a zigzagged example. It's been consistently shown that if the negative emotions attracting the akuma fade away before the butterfly physically touches the victim, Hawk Moth can no longer corrupt them. However, once the akuma reaches someone, they're sunk. Only Ms. Bustier has ever managed to resist his pull, but only briefly, as even she buckled after thirty seconds. It's finally subverted in "Miraculer" when Chloe actually manages to throw him off outright.
  • In The Owl House, it's said that petrification magic is the one spell that can't be blocked, defended, or reversed. If someone gets turned to stone on the Boiling Isles, they're stuck that way, so it's used as a means of execution. Big Bad Emperor Belos intends to do this to Eda to Make an Example of Them so that no one will dare oppose him. When Lilith finds this out, it prompts a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal, since Belos had previously promised to remove Eda's owl beast curse, only to reveal that he was lying.

    Real Life 
  • The most definite example of this trope in Real Life are Black Holes: anything that crosses their event horizon will be pulled into the singularity, with no chance of escaping. Nothing in the known universe is able to escape a black hole's gravitational force, not even light itself.

Actual games and references to games

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has many weapons that bypass Armor Saves and a few ones that bypass Invulnerable Saves. The wording on one of these attacks simply states that the affected model is "removed from play with no saves of any kind allowed".
    • Vortex weapons, normally only playable in Apocalypse. Any model (infantry, monster, vehicle, or otherwise) that so much is touched by the vortex template is immediately removed from play. No saves of any kind allowed, no equipment tomfoolery, no special rolls — just straight-up dead. The only exceptions are Gargantuan Creatures and Super-Heavy Vehicles (I.E. things that are building-sized or larger) — they take d6 wounds or d3 structure points of damage with absolutely no way to prevent them.
  • Warhammer tends not to have outright remove-from-play spells, instead using spells that require rolls against characteristics not typically used for resisting damage (often Initiative); of these the much-maligned Purple Sun of Xereus (stays on the table and moves randomly, everything in its path must save on Initiative or die) is probably the most famous.
    • The Tomb Kings as of Eighth Edition have a unit that can hit a target's Initiative instead of their regular stats. The attack is at Strength 1, but it ignores saves - and if it hits, you turn to sand. No coming back from that. In the Battle Report that introduced them, they took out an entire unit (squad with 20+ members) this way.
    • One of the RPGs had an interestingly-worded spell to create impromptu torches out of anything that disappeared after an hour. As written, it as perfectly normal to get rid of a greater daemon by casting the spell on it and waiting an hour for it to stop glowing and disappear.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • If you are level 4 or below in Rules Cyclopedia Dungeons & Dragons, if someone casts a Sleep spell upon you, you're as good as sleeping, as it doesn't give you a saving throw against it. If you don't have any friends to protect you or wake you up when you're under the spell's influence, you're at the mercy of whoever cast the spell on you, as anyone can use a bladed weapon to kill you instantly no matter how many HP you have. Even in later editions which changed how Sleep spells work, the effect is dependent on a pool of HP that's genereated when the spell is cast. If the target has a low-enough HP threshold, they're going to sleep. The only way to block Sleep from working is to be an elf or a half-elf, since magic can't put them to sleep.
    • As mentioned above, the Level Drain attacks of many undead do not allow a saving throw, except for special circumstances.
    • Do not look at a Catoblepas straight in the eyes unless you want to die.
    • Do not touch a Sphere of Annihilation unless you want to be blasted out of existence. Notably, an upgraded and sentient version (the Blackball) released to fight characters of level 38+ (out of a possible 20note ) was still less scary, since it allowed an (admittedly, very difficult) save.
    • In the 1st edition, a Nightcrawler's sting attack has a 1 in 8 chance of killing a character outright, without a saving throw.
    • The only defense against holy word and its sister spells (dictum, word of chaos, and blasphemy) are being a high enough level, spell resistance (which is not quite the same as a saving throw), and having the right alignment. Being deaf also works.
    • The success of the power word spells depends on how much HP the target has left. If the target is above the HP threshold, nothing happens; if they're at or below the threshold, the spell instantly works and allows no saving throw.
    • In the 3rd edition of Deities and Demigods, there are a handful of divine abilities which simply cause the death of mortal creatures. The end. Justified given the power level of the beings who can use it.
    • 3rd edition contains the spell cloudkill, which summons a cloud of gas which, on contact, kills everything level 3 or lower, no save allowed.
    • Forcecage traps a creature inside it with no saving throw or spell resistance, keeping them trapped unless they have magical means of escape.
    • Magic Missile automatically hits, bypasses armor class and damage reduction, allows no saving throw against it, and hits even incorporeal creatures. The trade-off is that it doesn't do very much damage, and there are a few spells that can block it (but that's usually all those spells can do). However, if you're up against enemies that are specialized to the point of being resistant to everything else in your arsenal, Magic Missile is at least an option to fall back on.
    • Otto's Irresistible Dance is, as its name implies, irresistible. If the spellcaster lands the spell, the target is effectively unable to fight for 2-5 turns, in which they're stuck dancing.
    • According to 4th edition rulebooks, you die instantly if you touch lava — but the actual adventures avert this, and lava instead deals small or negligible amounts of fire damage each turn.
    • In 5th Edition, the spell Heat Metal does 2d8 fire damage per turn, and after the first round of damage, the victim has the option to drop the affected object... if it can. Cast it on handcuffs, or a prosthetic limb, or plate armour that takes five minutes to remove, and you can slowly cook your foe to death with them able to do nothing about it. More damningly, it also forces Disadvantage on the affected target's attack and ability rolls, markedly reducing their offensive output.
    • In the Planescape campaign setting, if the enigmatic ruler of Sigil, The Lady of Pain, is displeased with someone, a glance will find them covered in shallow cuts and hemorrhaging from existing orifices for good measure. More irritating individuals are sent to The Maze.note  In the rare cases where she truly becomes annoyed with someone, she'll cast her shadow across them. The target is instantly killed as their body is flayed apart as if by dozens of knives. Not only is there no saving throw against any of these, no other form of defense works, either. In canon, she's killed a god and more than a few Godhood Seekers this way, while mechanically, clever players are horrified to learn that the entirety of her stats are numberless descriptions of these abilities and their absolute effectiveness.
    • 5th edition's version of the Marut has a special attack, Blazing Edict, which blasts a large area with searing light. While it does allow a saving throw, this just determines whether or not you get stunned; it doesn't reduce the damage Blazing Edict inflicts, which is always 45.
    • Healing spells and buffs don't have a saving throw, but that's because you want them to work. There's also a few detection spells that allow a target to intentionally fail the saving throw if they want to be detected, such as the vision abilities of the Scrying spell.
    • The Annulus is an artifact whose greatest power is to destroy creatures with psionic abilities — the effect takes a hefty ten rounds to charge, but reduces the target or targets to dust, even Physical Gods, ignoring all protective abilities.
  • Mutants & Masterminds second edition has No Saving Throw as a extra you can apply to one of your powers. When the power resolves, the target is treated as though they failed their saving throw by one point. For damage effectsnote  this results only in Scratch Damage. But for Save-Or-Lose effects like Mind Control, Transform, or Power Control, this ability becomes a Game-Breaker. It's typically reserved for NPC Villains.
    • The Perception range commonly seen on mental powers can be merciless. While not a literal example (as the target is still allowed a saving throw), it automatically hits any target the user can perceive. A Perception Range power with the No Saving Throw modifier is unavoidable and irresistible unless you can find some way to avoid being seen.
  • In GURPS 4e the radiation rules are a parody of this. A very large dose of rads still lets you roll to resist but all the results, including a critical success, are death. Success only means you die more slowly.
  • This is how spells work in the Second Edition of Mage: The Awakening. Generally effects that would alter or negatively affect a person directly need to have a potency to overcome an appropriate resistance stat, but if it does then the power takes effect with no further complication (and it's often not difficult for mages to power their spells up like that). Direct injury is simply applied directly with no defence at all; the number of the target's health levels are considered the only resistance they get (which can make it a matter of "does the mage put in the effort to kill instantly or just keep hammering away until dead). The only recourse is if the mage didn't put in the effort to cast the spell just be looking at somebody, in which case it needs either physical contact or to have a visible bolt hurled at them (either of which do get saves).

  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, two PC's encounter a death demon, and his compelling fear aura is so powerful they can't roll high enough to resist so the DM assumed that they were compelled. However, the Rules Lawyer says that on a 20 any action is an automatic success, and insists on rolling... a 1. He becomes completely compelled.
  • The most basic magical attacks from the wizard's staves in Dragon Age: Origins can't be run away from, regardless of the target's defences. On the downside, their damage is not that high, and it's impossible to land a Critical Hit with a staff.
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • Spells with Split Second prevent almost all possible responses from even being attempted, so anything you could normally do to save the target doesn't work.
    • Since countering a spell is sometimes the only way of stopping it, any card with "this spell can't be countered" has very, very few ways to prevent it from happening.
    • Early editions of Magic distinguished between "destroy" effects (which a creature could survive by regenerating) and "bury" effects (which cannot be regenerated). Later editions drop the "bury" terminology and replace it with "Destroy target creature. That creature cannot regenerate this turn," for the same effect. Later still, it adds the concept of "Exile," which also prevents it from being targeted by spells that return creatures from the graveyard. Then there are spells that can bring cards back from even exile, and even a joke card that puts a creature into totally, completely, we-really-mean-it, this-creature-cannot-be-brought-back-under-any-circumstances exile.
  • In World of Warcraft, certain loss-of-control spells are categorized as "charm" effects, where you lose control of your character in a way that it's as if someone else has taken control of it. These differ from "mind control" effects in that it's impossible to resist them, and impossible to break out of them once they happennote ; the only thing a player can do is wait until the effect finishes or the player is killed. These effects are thankfully rare, and are generally used as a mechanic in a boss fight, either as a periodic nuisance or as a condition resulting from poor play.
  • Master of Magic has Doom Bolt which deals massive damage, and unlike every other spell and ability in the entire game, it offers no form of saving throw or resistance roll.
  • E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy's "Gate" psychic powers will bypass any defense. If you can line up your crosshair on an organic enemy and cast the power, it will always work, though it may destroy your sanity in the process.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 have "special infected", zombies with different abilities than the normal ones. Most of these zombies, such as the Hunter, Charger, Smoker, and Jockey will immobilize the player if they can perform their primary attack on them. Until the player is saved by their teammates, the special infected can hit them again and again.
  • Town of Salem:
    • This is the Arsonist's ability. Whoever he set on fire is dead - not even No-Sell abilities like Night Immunity, Bulletproof Vest or Doctor healing can save the victim. Ironically, the only way to avoid this is... to get jailed by the Jailor that night.
    • The Jester takes it even further. If he is lynched, he will haunt a person and cause them to commit suicide that night, and none of the above immunities, not even being sent to jail, will save his target. It is possible for his target to survive if they're transported by the Transporter, in which case the person they're switched with dies instead.
    • It's also flat-out impossible to survive the Jailor's execution. Night Immunity doesn't work, the Doctor and Bodyguard can't save you, and you can't be transported out of it. Even the Jailor dying that night doesn't save you because the execution will go through regardless. The only ways to avoid death are to either persuade the Jailor not to kill you, or for someone else to prevent the execution from occurring. For instance, should the Jailor be roleblocked or made to target someone other than you by a Witch, you're safe. But if the execute goes through, nothing can save you.
    • The Werewolf ignores Night Immunity, meaning that the roles that can normally No-Sell night attacks are not safe. It's possible for an outside force to save the Werewolf's target - such as the Jailor, Doctor or Bodyguard - but that causes the death of the saviour. The Werewolf also kills all visitors to the victim, even if those visitors are Night Immune. This makes the Werewolf the most terrifying role in the game, because if they visit someone, someone is going to die.
    • A fully powered up Juggernaut kicks this up a notch. In addition to having basic night immunity, a level four Juggernaut will attack all visitors to his target, just like the Werewolf, and ignores all forms of defense, meaning not even a Guardian Angel's protection will save you. This is on top of being able to attack every night, unlike the Werewolf.
    • Pestilence (added in the expansion), however, is completely immune to all of the above. If a Jailor gets him, the Jailor dies and any execution fails. He also can't suicide from a Jester or get burned by an Arsonist, and an encounter with even a maxed Juggernaut will end in the Juggernaut dead and Pestilence unharmed. That said, there is one kill in the game that can affect him and any other role without fail — getting lynched.
  • Darkest Dungeon: The final form of the Final Boss has an attack that's not only a One-Hit Kill, it cannot be avoided, blocked, and Death's Door cannot protect from it. When it hits, that character's dead. The only saving grace is that he uses it exactly twice in the fight (once at 2/3 hp, and again at 1/3 hp), and you get to choose which character dies to it. The only possible counters are to only bring two characters to the fight in the first place, or inflict enough damage in a single attack to get the boss from "above the threshold" to "dead". Both have been done, but even then the latter relied on the RNG with only a 1/4 chance of success, in order to deliver a giant Critical Hit that would have utterly destroyed almost every boss in the game outright, and the former isn't exactly easy either.
    • Heart Attacks (reaching 200 stress) will reduce a stable hero's HP to 0, and outright kill a hero on death's door.
    • A hero on death's door gets dodge saving throws, but their deathblow resistance is negated if the enemy lands a critical hit. In the sequel, this also applies to enemies with deathblow resistance.
  • Spoony complains about this in his review of Mazes and Monsters, where Jay-Jay makes his character jump into a spike pit and the Game Master just declares him dead on the spot without making any type of roll, be it a Saving Throw, damage dice, or whatever. Of course, this is just one of many things the film gets wrong about tabletop games...
  • Dota 2: Axe's ultimate ability Culling Blade will unconditionally kill any target whose HP is below a certain amount, ignoring any and all buffs on the target. This includes Dazzle's Shallow Grave, a spell whose only purpose is to prevent the target from dying while it is active.
  • In I Wanna Be The Love Trap, one boss will spend much of the battle facing away from The Kid, turning around each time the timer reaches completion. If the boss sees The Kid moving or facing him, he will freeze The Kid in place and drop a slow-moving Delicious Fruit onto him. The boss can only be defeated by never allowing him a chance to use this attack.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: The "Plague" Force power inflicts -1 attributes on its target every six seconds, and has a Difficulty Class (DC) of 100 making it impossible to avoid unless the target has an active poison immunity.
  • The Ballad of Edgardo: This is a fundamental part of why Raw Spirit attacks could become broken under the right circumstances. While the damage of the move is pitiful, Raw Spirit can't be blocked, countered, or resisted once it makes impact. And it can be directly fueled with more spirit, with no cap on how much it can channel. The other part was an ability that could be earned at Level 1 which left only Raw Spirit damage available, barring the player from more efficient elemental strikes in return for removing the Spirit cap. All of this meant Edgardo, who took the skill, could use all the spirit he had to fuel his punches, surprising more than one cocky player who thought they were immune to conventional strikes. And once Edgardo got infinite power from a massive oversight in the rules, there was nothing stopping Edgardo from killing anything he wanted with a single punch.
  • XCOM 2: The Dodge stat reduces the chance that a hit will deal full damage, and only graze for reduced damage instead. The Assassin's Katana and the Bolt Caster negate Dodge entirely, however, it's a "solid hit or miss" affair (and the Katana can't miss, period).
    • XCOM: Chimera Squad: Your melee attacks (especially Subdue, which all player characters have), grenades, and gremlin shock modules are guaranteed to hit. Praetorians have the Duel skill, which allows them to mark anyone and guarantee all future shots from that Praetorian always hit their marked target - the caveat is that the marked target also has 100% accuracy against the Praetorian.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Assassin class orcs can have the "No Chance" perk, which negates the player's ability to recover from a finishing blow once (twice with a certain skill) with a Quick Time Event. On the plus side, it doesn't prevent you from being rescued by a follower.
  • Persona 5: A new Mementos target added in Royal is Hikaru Arikawa, a womanizer who uses his looks to manipulate women, and has even made them fight amongst each other for his own amusement. His Shadow in Mementos, a Tam Lin, has the "Womanizing" skill that will brainwash any ladies in your party; even having a "Null Brainwash" skill or accessory item cannot block it! Thankfully, you can cure it with skills or items. You can also attack him with a party of all men, at which point his skill fails him.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has tempering by a Primal, which affects the target with Mind Control where they slavishly devote themselves to the Primal that tempered them. There is no way to prevent, dodge, or block being affected by a primal's tempering unless you have the Echo, and only a small handful of people do. Also, there is no known way to reverse the process. Tempered victims are routinely killed off by the good guys as a result of this. It's treated by the heroes as a Mercy Kill, because they view serving a Primal as their mind-controlled slave as a Fate Worse than Death. Plus, leaving the Primal's thralls alive only serves to potentially strengthen the Primal that has them under control. The in-universe creation of a cure for tempering in patch 5.4 by Alisaie Leveilleur is seen as an outright miracle, as curing tempering was thought to be impossible. However, a cure isn't the same as prevention; there's still no in-universe way to prevent a Primal's tempering besides the Echo, and it's explicitly noted by Alisaie that a person can still be too far gone for the cure to save. So people still have to be careful, even after this cure is found.
  • Reducing a mobile suit to 0 HP in Gundam Evolution usually leaves them disabled but temporarily possible to revive if they don't take enough additional damage. However, if they were brought to 0 by Barbatos' Long Sword ability or G-Maneuver, they are destroyed instantly and have to respawn. The former is specifically so Barbatos can use Hit-and-Run Tactics effectively without its work being undone.
  • In Pokémon, the Master Ball is a unique Poké Ball that cannot be resisted (except for a handful of unique, uncatchable Pokémon). Any Pokémon that can be caught will be caught. It's especially notable in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! if you use it on Mewtwo; Mewtwo swats the ball away, only for it to recover and retaliate by catching it anyway.