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Outside-the-Box Tactic

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"Okay, but I'm still not hearing enough ideas. She's a god, let's think outside the box."
Anya, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Gift"

Sometimes, The Heroes are faced with a seemingly insurmountable enemy. Be it a Stone Wall that laughs at attempts to harm it or a Fragile Speedster that dodges attacks with lithe grace, some enemies are hard to defeat with standard tactics. They can generally be defeated through brute force, but it's very difficult. The smarter and much easier way to defeat such a foe is to employ clever strategy and some often unintuitive insight.

An Outside-the-Box Tactic is a simple or otherwise overlooked tactic that is particularly effective against a certain monster or type of monster. It is closely related to an Achilles' Heel; the difference being that this weakness is not the only reliable way to defeat such a foe. A foe susceptible to an Outside-the-Box Tactic is still vulnerable to other tactics, but is very weak to this particular strategy. It is primarily a Role-Playing Game trope, but may be found in other types of games as well.

The most famous and common example involves the use of healing magic or other restorative items to harm the undead, examples of which should be listed under Revive Kills Zombie. If this particular application of a technique is the only place where it is effective, it may be Not Completely Useless. If the method was unintended by the game developers, it may be the result of a Good Bad Bug. If the method of attack actually involves not attacking the opponent at all, it becomes Sheathe Your Sword. If it's not hinted at in any way, yet is the only way to defeat the foe, it may also be a Guide Dang It!. If it's not the only way to defeat a foe, but it requires Forced Level-Grinding to defeat it otherwise, it may be commonly thought of as That One Boss or a Beef Gate. Outside-The-Box Tactics are often necessary to defeat a Puzzle Boss or the Final-Exam Boss.

Compare Easy Level Trick, where knowing the secrets about a level makes it easier, which may involve outside-the-box thinking. Contrast Logical Weakness, when it's immediately apparent what needs to be done, Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay, where the tactic shouldn't be outside-the-box, but is thanks to defying game logic, and Combinatorial Explosion, which defines the game's limitations of finding different ways to achieve a goal, which outside-the-box tactics defy.

Warning: May Contain Spoilers


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Accelerator is pretty much invincible while his powers are active. However, one of the Sisters found a tactic that he couldn't simply reflect: continuously zap the air around him. This doesn't hurt him, but it does ionize the air and lower the oxygen content by turning it into ozone, which is poisonous. For all his power, Accelerator still needs to breathe. Unfortunately for her, Accelerator figures out what she's up to and resolves to kill her before she can ionize the air to that extent, though he does congratulate her on being one of the few who has ever come up with a strategy that could possibly harm him.
  • A large draw of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is their sheer frequency. Rather than Once a Chapter every now and then, they happen constantly. The manga owes its title in part to the strange powers both the antagonists and the protagonists have, so Hirohiko Araki spends a lot of time and energy making them into viable, practical powers.
    • For example, Josuke Higashikata, The Hero of Diamond is Unbreakable, has the power to repair objects, but instead of playing the role of The Medic, he is instead a frontline fighter, using those healing skills to nonlethally incapacitate his enemies. For example, he takes down someone with total control over electricity by taking a rubber tire from heavy machinery that had burst earlier in the battle, then "healing" the tire around the adversary to trap him within it, leaving him at Josuke's mercy. When his opponent's stand breaks out of the tire, the air rushes out and sends him flying into the ocean.
  • One Piece:
    • This can occasionally come up in along with unexpected strengths, when a Devil Fruit power sometimes provides an unforeseen advantage against another power. Since the powers themselves don't change as time goes on, their users have to figure out more creative ways to use the powers they already have (such as how Luffy exploited his rubber body to develop the Gear techniques). Being able to do this is also stated as one of the marks of a strong fruit user. As one prominent example, low-tier villain Mr. 3, who can create objects out of wax, ends up temporarily providing the single best countermeasure against Implacable Poisonous Person Magellan.
    • The Sky Island arc sees both the hero and the villain do this with their powers. Luffy's rubber body provided a Logical Weakness to Eneru, who used lightning, so Luffy both couldn't be affected by Eneru's lightning and actually deal damage. Eneru also had the power to sense what someone was going to do, so Luffy still couldn't hit him. Luffy got around Eneru's prediction power by reflecting Eneru's attacks off of his ship, so Luffy wasn't consciously controlling where his punches would land, thus making them unable to be predicted. As for Eneru, he figured out that lightning generates heat, and used it to burn Luffy rather than shock him.
    • Usopp becomes a master of this sort of strategy, employing bizarre gadgets and illusions to trick his opponents into submission. He defeated the Cute Ghost Girl Perona by hitting her with... a balloon. A balloon shaped like a ten-ton hammer, and she passed out from fear. Despite being one of the weakest crew members, he still gets a reputation as being a physical god thanks to his bluffing strategies.
  • One of the main traits of Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the Pokémon anime. Many times, Ash does things perceived as impossible to other trainers (in and out universe) that generally win him a lot of battles, even before the opponent can even process what he actually did.
  • Space Battleship Yamato: Due to often being on its own without support, the crew of the Yamato have learned to resort to tactics and strategies that many more by-the-book commanders would balk at. This is even more apparent in the remakes Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and Space Battleship Yamato 2202 where the Yamato's unpredictability becomes a major asset in every encounter it gets into.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers:
    • The heroes once fought a robot similar to Amazo (see JLA example above). They beat it by exposing it to Captain America, and it absorbed his fundamental goodness. Then it declared that the Avengers were good guys and it didn't want to fight anymore, regardless of the wishes of its creator.
    • Then there was the time the Avengers were fighting the Super-Adaptoid (a power mimic). Captain Marvel (cosmic awareness, Flying Brick, blaster, and power wristbands that when clanked together would make him switch places with Rick Jones, who had been trapped in the Negative Zone for some time) let the Super-Adaptoid gain his powers: while the mimic was stunned from getting cosmic awareness, Mar-Vell clapped the Super-Adaptoid's newly-formed wrist bracelets together, banishing it to the Negative Zone and freeing Rick.
  • In Invincible the main character faces a villain with powers similar to the X-Men character mentioned above; the main character wins by punching the bad guy until he's been overloaded with so much energy it travels through the floor, vaporizing his family and emotionally crippling him. This is entirely unintentional, and Invincible spends a significant amount of time and effort trying to explain this.
  • In an issue of JLA, the League fight an Amazo who has the powers of the whole League...on a conceptual level. Every time they bring in more reinforcements, Amazo gets more powerful. The Atom works out how to beat him; he tells Superman to officially disband the League. Since the League now no longer "exists", Amazo loses all his powers and shuts down.
  • In Batman storyline Knightfall, Shondra Kinsolving had the ability to heal using Healing Hands, but when combined with her stepbrother, she and he could kill anyone from afar by healing them too much, and the victim's heart goes into a fatal overdrive.
  • On three occasions in Paperinik New Adventures the heroes had to face an Evronian Super Soldier who doesn't need external equipment to drain and feed off his opponent's emotions, and get defeated in novel ways:
    • The first time is when Paperinik faces Trauma, who, aside from having Super Strength and taking a rocket to the chest without much damage, can cause paralyzing fear in his opponents and feed off it, transforming his victims into coolflames. Paperinik defeats him by conquering his own fear, with the accidental side effect of scaring the crap out of Trauma and depowering him.
    • The second time is when Xadhoom faces Clangor, an Evronian cyborg who can absorb energy attacks and his enemies' emotions. Upon hearing this, Xadhoom lets go just a little of her enormous emotional control-And that small portion of her rage and hatred for herself for letting the Evronian destroy her homeworld overwhelmed his emotional absorption abilities and broke it. Clangor implies it's not the first time he's a victim of this trope: he once mutinied, and the Evronians neutralized him with his remote off switch.
    • The third happens in a What If? story, where Paperinik and American troops have to fight super strong Evronians with accelerated metabolism that feed off negative emotions. When their prototype blabs out too much, Paperinik realizes all they have to do is to stop fighting and start thinking about nice and happy things, resulting in the Evronians literally starving to death.
  • Superman:
    • In Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Superman beats Lex Luthor by being unpredictable: they were fighting inside a submarine, Superman was blinded and Lex kept blasting him and weakening him. So Superman's heat vision burned down a wall, flooding the submarine and forcing Lex to surrender.
    • In A Mind-Switch in Time, Superman is trapped into a one-day-long time-loop and cannot break it by going to the future. So, what does he do? He remembers Einstein's theory that time is a gigantic, continued loop, and goes back, back, back in time until he has circled back and emerged in the next day.
    • The Unknown Supergirl: Kara must stop the Infinite Monster, but it is so big and heavy that she cannot hurt it, push it or lift it. Neither her immense strength nor any of her powers have any effect on the Monster whatsoever. So Kara borrows a size-changing ray and shrinks the Monster down until it is so small she can simply pick it and put it in a bottle-cage.
  • In the Wonder Woman Vol 1 storyline Judgment In Infinity, Diana and her fellow heroines have been abducted by the Adjudicator and encased in individual pods which not even the team's strongest members can break out of. However, Wonder Woman wonders whether their cages are also protected against someone trying to break into them. Wonder Woman spins her Lasso super-fast until turning it intangible, phases one end of the rope out of the bubble, and then she draws it back. The partially solid end of the rope hits the pod's outer surface and shatters her cage.
  • X-Men:

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "Nine Bags Of Gold", protagonist Marie needs nine bags filled with gold. After curing the prince's sickness, Marie is rewarded with one bag full of gold, but she cannot figure out how she can find eight more bags. Her elven friends come up with a very simple solution: splitting the loot into nine parts and filling nine bags.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: Harry tends to think creatively.
    • In the finale of the first book, he takes a leaf out of the below mentioned 'Judge' episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when dealing with a god-like necromancer with borderline From a Single Cell healing abilities — he telekinetically lops off each limb, and Carol uses Green Lantern Ring to blast the rest halfway across the city. It is widely admitted to be a very bad plan, but it's more or less Crazy Enough to Work.
    • In the sequel, he faces off against Maddie, an Evil Twin (well, Punch-Clock Villain and Living Weapon) of Jean Grey, a fellow psychic who has him outmatched for power, skill, and experience. Oh, and he's trapped in Another Dimension. How does he beat her? By refusing to engage in a direct contest of power, avoiding every conventional attack with maddeningly strange tactics, while flicking memories of her mirror image, Jean, at her as a distraction. And all the while, he's counting on the vast psychic noise of the battle to get the Avengers' attention and give them something to home in on. It works like a charm... right up until he ends up screwing up his own plan by following Maddie back to the Red Room's base because of his Always Save the Girl tendencies.
  • The final battle in Civilization V Peace Walker sets Snake's Militaires Sans Frontiers faction, a military civilization that must work closely with fellow city-states to be effective, against an even mightier opponent who outguns and outnumbers them, with no allies to call upon for aid. So instead of playing to his strengths, Snake stays on the defensive and carefully chooses civics that allow him to win a Cultural Victory, which his warmongering opponent wasn't doing anything to defend against in his haste to crush Snake.
  • In Chapter 152 of Odd Ideas, through a series of events, Sirius ends up becoming Azkaban's warden. Knowing that Voldemort will eventually return, and that he will attempt to bust the imprisoned Death Eaters out of Azkaban when he does, Sirius gets rid of the Dementors and sets out to make said Death Eaters useless... by turning them into TV-addicted Big Eater Lazy Bums. By the time Voldemort attacks the prison, Bellatrix Lestrange is a morbidly obese woman who can't keep her eyes off the TV even as she tries to explain to Voldemort that she's the prisoner in the most fit of the lot.

    Films — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6: "Look for a new angle" is a recurring Arc Words for the film. During the final battle, the heroes manage to escape from a bad situation by applying their suit's powers in innovative new ways. Then in order to defeat Yokai and his massive swarm of microbots, instead of going after after the mask that controls the microbots like they originally planned, they have Hiro and Baymax distract Yokai while the others attack his microbot swarm, sending them into the wormhole Yokai opened. Yokai only has a finite swarm, and he eventually runs out before he can finish off Hiro and Baymax.
  • When fighting the prototype Omnidroid in The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible has to deal with a nigh invulnurable foe, which is faster, stronger and adapts to whatever he tries to throw at it. He eventually burrows inside of it and tricks it into ripping out its own power core. Then at the end of the film every member of the team has to take turns distracting the production model so Mr. and Mrs. Incredible can launch one of its rocket-powered claws through its torso.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet: when Ralph and Vanellope are holed up in Knowsmore's booth in a bid to escape the army of viral Ralphs the real Ralph inadvertently created, which share Ralph's reluctance to let Vanellope move away from him jacked up to dangerous levels, Knowsmore snarks that there are two options: organise a group therapy session really quickly, or lure the Ralphs into a firewall, killing them all. The Ralphs grab Vanellope before they can be killed by forming a giant monster. However, the real Ralph finally talks through his issues to them, telling them they need to let her go so she can follow her dreams and be happy...and it works.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the original version of Game of Death Bruce Lee relies heavily on this:
    • With all of his enemies, he uses an unpredictable fighting style that can adapt to anything (Jeet Kune Do) and gains significant advantage.
    • In his fight with Pascal (Dan Inosanto), he uses a flexible bamboo stick that breaks Pascal's rhythm.
    • On the final floor, he simply asks Jabbar why he just won't let him pass to the highest floor. When Jabbar refuses, Bruce kills him off mercilessly.
  • Finding himself physically outmatched by the titular antagonist, Dutch in Predator tries to goad it into a spiked trap he'd earlier set up. When the alien hunter proves to be too smart to fall for the ruse, a quick-thinking Dutch instead cuts the rope holding up the trap's heavy counterweight, dropping it on his adversary's head.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Admiral Kirk reveals how he became the first (and thus far only) cadet to beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario: he reprogrammed the simulator to make it beatable. It earned him a commendation for original thinking.
  • AT-ATs in the Star Wars series have thick armor impervious to the blasters on rebel fighters. However, due to their being very top-heavy, a simple harpoon and tow cable can bring them down with ease. (Relative ease, that is — in the original movie it's difficult enough to pull off that only one AT-AT is successfully brought down this way. The tow cable's status as an easy, reliable anti-AT-AT weapon is mostly Flanderization from the video games.) They're also much less heavily armored, and therefore more vulnerable, in the ventral aspect, though a competent commander will deploy them in such fashion as to obviate any potential risk thus caused; they're not particularly quick, so a long advance to contact provides more than enough time for their heavy forward-mounted guns to flatten anything which might shoot up at them from below. (Shot-down stray Jedi, of course, notwithstanding — but it'd take a whole lot of them, even at a rate of one Jedi and one thermal detonator per AT-AT, to make a real difference in any kind of serious battle.)

  • In the first Artemis Fowl book, we're told how in one of her training exams, Captain Holly Short had defeated an "insurmountable" wave of holographic enemies by shooting the projector. Since she had technically defeated all the enemies, the examiners had to give her a passing grade.
  • Ender's Game features a virtual adventure game for the local Child Soldier to play, in which a giant provides a rat a choice whichever of the two provided grails does not contain poison. When Ender has tried both grails and gotten game overs, he controls the rat to jump directly at the giant and kill it. This amazes the commanders because nobody else has ever tried doing the same. The Giant's Drink was deliberately Unwinnable by Design, to show how potential soldiers and commanders dealt with losing. Both drinks were always different, but always poison. Ender went Off the Rails with a third option and broke the game. Although it dealt with this not by glitching and crashing, but somehow creating an entire new world for him to explore.
    • Ender does this sort of thing a lot. In Battle School, the most common training situation is to have two armies of cadets in a zero-g environment, trying to incapacitate every member of the other army. Once you've done this, you make your victory official by going to the enemy's "gate" (which is deep in their territory) so the computer will register your victory. At one point, Ender goes straight for the gate even though the enemy army hasn't been defeated yet. The computer counts this as win, to everyone's surprise. The instructors mention that they'll reprogram the computer to make sure this doesn't happen again.
    • In a third example, Ender is commanding a fleet of ships for a "simulation" (actually it's real) and he's given a weapon called the M.D. device. If you zap something with this device, it will explode, and anything nearby will also explode in the same way, potentially setting off a chain reaction. The idea is to get a bunch of enemy ships in one spot, then hit one of them with the M.D. device so you can destroy a bunch of ships in one shot. At the end of his campaign, Ender's forces reach the enemy homeworld. Instead of attacking enemy fighters, Ender shoots the planet with his M.D. device, destroying the entire thing.
  • In "Jonathan Cabal and the Blustery Day", the titular (anti-)hero faces a Chinese sorcerer who has become a eunuch and used this sacrifice to gain magic powers that protect him from all harm. Jonathan Cabal heals him, which negates his magic and leaves him vulnerable to a succubine devil who knows how to handle men.
  • Mike Brezinski excels at this in the Stuart Gibbs Spy School series. Shortly after being recruited, Mike received both ire and admiration for running around the Death Course rather than charging through it. At the end, Mike argues that he'd be expected to go for something safer and easier in the field rather than just blindly charging at an obvious booby trap. Even the Drill Sergeant Nasty gym coach is unable to argue with this logic, despite clearly being mad at Mike for not braving the course.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe New Jedi Order series, the Yuuzhan Vong villains' Organic Technology ships use pinpoint black holes instead of Deflector Shields to "absorb" enemy fire, as well as for propulsion. This prompts a long chain of back-and-forth tactical innovations among the New Republic defenders, ranging from the trivial (unlike shields, voids can't be everywhere at once, so firing at a target from multiple angles will destroy it), to the inspired (an Ace Pilot can use the singularity to perform a gravity slingshot), to the outright bizarre (a Jedi can telekinetically seize the singularity and redirect it onto the ship, although it requires a lot of energy — when Luke did it, he passed out from exhaustion, and while Kyp managed to stay conscious after his own successful attempt, he was left bone-tired).
  • In the Whateley Universe story "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy", Phase sees Bladedancer losing to a power mimic in the school holographic simulator. Phase deals with the power mimic by deliberately letting the mimic get his Intangible Man power and then taking the guy into the concrete floor before he learns to use Phase's peculiar flight ability.
  • Worm: The final enemy (Scion) is so powerful that only the most powerful capes on the planet can even hurt him at all, and even then his regenerative power instantly heals any wound they do manage to inflict. And the well of energy he's drawing from to fuel his regeneration is far too large for the heroes to possibly deplete no matter what they do to him. He's finally defeated by repeatedly showing him images of his deceased partner. Since he's not good at dealing with human emotions and has never felt grief before, constantly bombarding him with this imagery drives him to a mental breakdown and he commits suicide.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This thinking is what Buffy the Vampire Slayer is known for, from creating a Slayer army to defeat the Final Boss to the time she found out whether a demon who claimed to be invincible wasn't rocket proof. This appears to be the point of the Cruciamentum, a test undergone by Slayers who make it to 18 which strips them of their usual strength until they are at about the same as an ordinary human, thus forcing them to rely on other skills to defeat a particularly dangerous vampire.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Day of the Dove": an alien entity ensnares the crews of Enterprise and a Klingon Bird of Prey, influencing them to fight each other so it can feed off the anger they express. When Kirk figures it out, he convinces everyone to lay down their weapons and laugh in order to drive it off.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation two-part episode "Gambit": a band of pirates are raiding archaeological sites for what turn out to be fragments of an ancient Vulcan weapon that turns its targets' anger against them. Picard figures out the key to overcoming its effect ("Peace can defeat War and Death") and disarms the Romulan spy that had been searching for it by centering himself, giving the weapon nothing to use.

  • The Unbelievable Truth is a Panel Game where four comedians each give a lecture on a particular subject that is a tissue of lies, apart from five true pieces of information which they have to try to smuggle past their opponents. In one episode, Henning Wehn goes first, manages to get a large number of truths through undetected, and realises a great way to ensure victory is to simply not say anything else for the rest of the episode.
    David: And in first place with an unassailable 4 points, it's the winner of the last ever episode of The Unbelievable Truth, Henning Wehn!

  • In team sports such as American football, on occasion someone will develop a new tactic that other teams simply aren't prepared to defend against when it's first used. If there isn't a rule change to prohibit it, other teams will often copy it or develop defenses to stop it.
  • When Association Football teams have to defend a free kick, they will form a wall of multiple players in the ball's path, and then jump as the ball is kicked, making it hard for the free kick taker to strike the ball over them without also striking it well over the crossbar. Ronaldinho popularized the unconventional tactic of striking the ball along the ground; when the wall reflexively jumps, the ball passes under them.
  • This can also happen to individual players, in team or individual sports. Bobby Orr wracked up high scoring numbers when he entered the National Hockey League by driving directly to the net, a tactic he was able to do because teams weren't used to defensemen being such aggressive scorers and so instead of going after him, they tried to block the pass to a forward that a defenseman would normally make.
  • NASCAR driver Smokey Yunick did this so often "Yunicking the rules" became a phrase. As an example, when rules limited the size of the gas tank, he made the fuel lines themselves drastically larger to hold more, adding several more gallons that technically were not part of the fuel tank.

    Tabletop Games 
  • in d20 Modern Urban Arcana, you have access to the Resist Energy spell, allowing you take up to 120 damage from energy sources without getting injured. Sounds fairly innocent, right? Well, one energy type is Sonic/Concussion, which is the type of damage inflicted by explosive damage. Resist Energy + a few blocks of C4 + a Demolition check to set them up for maximum damage = a suicide bomber who survives unharmed after blowing himself up.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • An Eye of Gruumsh is an orcish fanatic who has emulated his deity by gouging out an eye, granting him various magical powers as a sign of divine favor. Casting regenerate on him restores that eye and negates those powers.
    • If you know you'll be encountering an enemy wearing Dragon Scale armor, coming up with a work-around to the 10 minute cast-time and touch range on resurrection or true resurrection can leave an unarmored enemy to deal with the angry dragon while you slip past.
    • Transmutation school wizards are the king of this trope. Flesh to stone, stone to mud, purify water is a combination of three low-level spells that turn an enemy into drinking water.
    • Trolls and other creatures that regenerate can usually be killed by the appropriate Anti-Regeneration methods, like fire or acid. The problem is that they're well aware of their weakness, and even the stupidest troll can see the advantage of a magic ring that protects them from fire damage, so sometimes adventurers have to get creative. For example, since regeneration doesn't restore damage dealt by air loss or starvation, drowning or asphyxiating a troll is one option, while sticking it somewhere until it starves is a more time-consuming method. Poisons are another option, though you'll need something potent to take down a troll, and there's the risk that instead of killing the monster, it will instead mutate into a Venom Troll and become even more dangerous. Spellcasters, of course, have more options, like snuffing out their lifeforce with death magic, or the ever-reliable disintegrate.
    • Barbarians have as their primary class power the ability to enter an Unstoppable Rage, which greatly increases their offensive capabilities while weakening their defense. The thing is, they take the "rage" part of that name literally - their power comes from their anger (it's why they can't take most actions that require concentrating, like casting spells, during a rage). So a calm emotions spell will instantly end their rage, and for the most part barbarians can only go into a rage once per encounter, disabling their strongest ability.
  • Exalted has a Charm (Order-Affirming Blow) that undoes Shaping effects. Guess what? The Fair Folk use shaping effects to create their bodies. One-Hit Kill.
  • In Pathfinder, Sikari Macaque swarms are vulnerable to remove disease because most of the species is infected with a kind of monkey rabies, and that's why they're attacking — when healed, monkeys equal to half the swarm's current HP will calm down and wander off.
  • One that very much depended on wording interpretation and the GM being the kind and understanding type: In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, a basic spell made impromptu torches by saying the targeted object glowed brightly for an hour and then vanished. Cue players trying to get rid of enemies and bosses with a delay of one hour.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Assault cannons are humongous one-handed gatling guns that require Terminator armor to hold and operate. They're supposed to be used against infantry, but Astartes targeting doctrines were modified after it turned out they worked quite well against some vehicles.
    • The Necron character Imotekh the Stormlord is a strategic genius, able to counter even chessmasters like the Eldar. However, against the famously illogical orks this doesn't help him at all.
  • Subverted in Genius: The Madness Chronicles (an unoffical 2nd Edition of Genius: The Transgression). You can try to use a Wonder for something outside of it's proper axioms (such as using a Metatropi ray to turn someone’s clothing into acid, or using a Prostasia tower shield as a sled), but doing so triggers a Havoc Check, which can lead to things going horribly wrong.

    Video Games 
  • Since the player can do anything in AI Dungeon 2, the only limit of what they can do in combat is how creative they are and how effective the AI deems their ploy.
  • In Moria and some versions of Angband, the spell "Turn Stone to Mud", normally used for digging new passages, can also be used to devastating effect against stone-based monsters such as golems.
  • In Baten Kaitos, the Post-Final Boss has a mountain of HP and therefore will take a long time to defeat normally, but can be instantly defeated by a Spirit Attack, a special type of Finishing Move which can only be triggered as the final attack of a maximum-length combo by the main character, and therefore normal tactics for combo construction like trying to use damage-boosting runs/X-of-a-kinds get thrown out the window in favor of just trying to string together as many cards as possible, and any Magnus that can be used in an offensive combo and isn't a Finishing Move is fair game — even healing magnus.
  • One of the late-game bosses in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is Valefar, a The Gambler themed boss who absorbs all of your money to heal and strengthen itself in the second part of the battle, with its remaining HP at that point determined by how much cash you had on you that it absorbed. As you might expect from this, the easy way to beat it is to go blow all your money at the store and come back with an empty purse. This tactic is made considerably less convenient in the bonus character modes, as said characters are able to collect money but have no way to spend it, meaning its only function in those runs will be to strengthen Valefar, and so it is in their best interest to make a conscious effort to collect as little money as possible throughout the game.
  • Civilization VI: Scythia is a terrifying war machine and becomes strong only a few eras in, not giving a lot of time to prepare when you'll be trying to settle your own cities. If you can get a chance meeting early enough, though, being diplomatically nice to their leader gives you the chance to declare an official friendship between your civilization and Scythia before they attack you. Friends can't attack friends anyway, but this is especially effective on Scythia because their leader is coded to especially value civs that have declared themselves as her official friend. In other words, once she's your diplomatic ally she'll never change her mind about it — and for the cost of a few diplomatic tributes, her terrifying power spike will completely pass you by.
  • Crysis: In the third game, there is a segment in the second mission where a jammer is interfering with your nanosuit, and the way to the jammer is a field with tall grass and many Ceph Stalkers, making the journey a desperate run to destroy it while being slashed on all sides. The thing is, the jammer is just barely visible from the platform that you start that part on. A single shot from the bow with a fragmentation arrowhead means good-bye jammer and straight on to the next objective.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The Ceaseless Discharge is probably the largest enemy fought in the game, with enormous amounts of health and overwhelming attack power that will give even high level players a bit of trouble if they get hit. And since he's standing in a pool of lava with you fighting him on a cliff edge, the usual strategy of getting inside his attack range where he can't hit you is impossible. The way you're supposed to beat him is to wait for him to attack, dodge, and then strike the arm/tentacle he used to attack you, killing him via a Death of a Thousand Cuts... or, if you've been paying attention to the level architecture, make him chase you along the cliff and trick him into falling off a cliff of his own, instantly killing him.
    • Manus, Father of Abyss is a formidable foe, with a very aggressive attack power and control over Dark Sorcery. Normally, he can prove to be a huge challenge even for veteran players. However, you can kill him effortlessly outside his arena by sniping him with bow and arrows above, from a far distance where he can't even fight back.
    • Darkeater Midir is an Archdragon notorious for being a Damage-Sponge Boss. It's hard hitting, humongous, and its breath of fire can turn into a laser beam that can sweep through half of his lair. You can spend hours pelting its legs with a sword, shooting its head with a Greatbow, OR you can the Pestilent Mercury sorcery to cast a dense mist that can No-Sell the dragon's hard shell and smoke it to death effortlessly with percentage-based damage. Due to Midir's huge size, so long as it doesn't actually start flying, part of his body is practically guranteed to be within the spell's area of effect. Of all the things available, the best and easiest dragonslaying tool is not a huge sword, not a huge bow, but a puny mist, no less.
  • In Deus Ex, you have the option of simply running past bosses without being required to fight or kill them. Some can be killed by lobbing a LAM into the room they're in before they even realise what's going on.
  • In Dragon Quest games, Holy Water is supposed to be used to help avoid Random Encounters. It can also sometimes be used in battle, but its only effect is to deal a pathetic amount of damage. However, it works just as effectively against Metal Slimes as any other enemy, and their low HP makes using Holy Water against them a good strategy.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The "Raise Zombie" spell reanimates an intact dead body and makes it your minion for the next sixty seconds (longer with certain perks) until it turns into a pile of ash note . The zombie, by itself, is fairly weak, since it fights only with the armor and weapons it had when it died (that is, if you haven't already looted them). However, since you looted their items, it's only logical that you can put items back. Raise a zombie, put some good armor and a strong weapon on it, and send it in from a safe distance to rip apart foes (for extra Video Game Cruelty Potential, said foes might have been its former allies!) Once the spell runs out or your zombie re-dies, you can collect its equipment from the ash pile it leaves behind. Said zombie can also function as a handy pack-mule: give your heaviest items to the zombie until you get under the Critical Encumbrance Failure limit (300 lbs. with no perks or Stamina boosts). Fast-travel to the nearest town, and your zombie will follow! However, it will crumble to dust the moment you arrive, but that's fine, you can just pick your stuff up and drag it to the nearest store; you'd rather walk 200 feet with a over-heavy load than the three miles it probably would have been without the zombie.
    • In a similar vein, the Dremora Merchant is more often than not used as a garbage dump rather than an actual Shop Keep as he was intended; not only can you summon him anywhere in the world, you can also just wait for his gold to replenish in a day or two. On top of that, he takes just about everything you can sell him, unlike most other traders who only take specific types of items. It gets to the point that various guides have to remind you that he actually has higher spawn-rates for high-level gear that other shop keeps don't!
  • In Epic Battle Fantasy 5, you start off controlling just Matt, and the other party members join after you defeat them in battle. Each of those battles, however, have special conditions which cause them to surrender, which are hinted at in the medal descriptions.
    • NoLegs can be defeated by hitting him with a water-elemental attack. (This one is simple enough that you'll probably blunder into it in normal gameplay.)
    • Natalie can be defeated by giving NoLegs and Matt the Lovable Status Buff, charming Natalie enough that she forgets why you were even fighting.
    • Anna can be defeated by inflicting up to four different status effects on her (the number necessary dropping as her health falls).
    • Lance can be defeated by bringing him and Neon Valkyrie below 29% health, then casting 7th Heaven.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the original NES version of Final Fantasy, Tiamat can be killed with the instant death spell BANE due to a programming oversight (the chances are very small, however). Also, not even the Final Boss is 100% immune to FEAR.
    • In Final Fantasy II, a similar exploit of low-power spell interactions occurs when you cast Wall on the Final Boss followed by Toad. The Wall blocks the Toad, but in a way that has the spell animation still go off — end result: Emperor Mateus, Lord of Hell, is subject to a wholly unintended Forced Transformation and hops off the screen to Firion's victory.
    • Final Fantasy IV
      • The Reflect (Wall) spell is integral to defeating Asura, who heals herself twice at the end of every round in addition to attacking your party. The catch? You have to cast Reflect on her. That way, when she attempts to heal herself, Reflect bounces the spell off and heals your party instead. Asura inflicts insane amounts of damage and recovers 2,500-3,300 HP per recovery spell, making her borderline impossible to defeat without this trick.
      • The DS remake presents Dr. Lugae (robot form), who comes with a new tactic: the Reverse Gas. It turns damaging into healing and vice-versa. A player with straight power strategy will easily find him That One Boss with a need to time hitting and healing. If one uses this trope, however, the player can intentionally heal Lugae the moments Reverse Gas is in effect. In such case, he'll go down in a few Elixirs or blasts of Cura.
    • Final Fantasy V:
      • Gogo the mimic. He'll attack with whatever you attack him with. The key to victory: Do nothing.
      • The endgame boss Azulmagia can learn any Blue Magic spell you cast on it and then cast it back at you. Self-Destruct is a Blue Magic spell that kills that caster and does their current HP in damage: just cast it on the boss and watch it gleefully use its new toy to kill itself.
      • Stone enemies can be killed with a Gold Needle (or Soft, in the SNES fan and PS1 translations).
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • The spell "Vanish". It temporarily causes all physical attacks to miss, but guarantees the next magical attack to hit. Death and X-Zone, normally Useless Useful Spells, suddenly become much more appealing. This combo will fail only on enemies immune to Vanish — since Vanish is supposed to be a positive effect, there are very few of these. It's also supposed to fail on enemies immune to instant death, but "Vanish = magic succeeds" is checked before "immune to death = death spells fail"; this was fixed in all subsequent remakes.
      • Final Fantasy VI also has the spells Rasp and Osmose, which deplete an enemy's magic points (the latter also restores yours by the same amount). Some enemies are noted (though only at one spot in the entire game) to be inherently magical, and unable to maintain their forms if their MP is depleted. You thus have the option of either depleting their hit points or magic points to defeat them; in the case of several that have last-ditch attacks when out of hit points (including That One Boss), removing their magic is the wiser (or sometimes faster) option.
      • From the same game, we have the boss fight against Wrexsoul, which is a hard battle if you want to beat the boss "properly" (i.e. with experience and loot). If you don't care about the loot and just want to finish the encounter, you can instead cast Banish on the two Soul Savers while Wrexsoul is MIA. This doesn't even need the Vanish bug (above) to work, as the Soul Savers are actually not immune to the spell. This was kept in the Game Boy Advance version of the game (with X-Zone now called Banish).
    • Final Fantasy VIII, in addition to the conventionally unconventional use of Phoenix Downs to kill several undead bosses, also gives us a Dual Boss battle against two Guardian Forces that draw their power from the earth beneath them, which translates to regenerating their health after every attack. One can power through it with the judicious application of overwhelming force... or one can simply cast Float — a spell usually used on party members to temporarily protect them from Earth-elemental damage — to lift them off the ground, cutting them off from their power and negating their regeneration.
    • As in FFV, a stone monster in Final Fantasy IX can be killed instantly by using a Soft (normally used to heal petrified allies) on it.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The final boss can be easily killed by using Zombie and a Phoenix Down.
      • You can do the same with one previous boss (Evrae Altana), who is undead to begin with (though it takes two due to damage caps).
      • Oblitzerator, an early boss, has very high HP for that point in the game; fortunately, you can take 15/16ths of it off by casting Thunder on a conveniently placed crane three times and having the main character use a trigger command. That done, it goes down very quickly.
    • Final Fantasy XII:
      • It takes a lot of Mark takedowns to increase your Clan Rank enough to see the Nihopalaoa accessory available for purchase, and its description reads "Reverses effects of restorative items such as potions." Why would anyone ever want to equip that? Well, when you consider that it works on items such as Remedy, items have a 100% Hit Chance, and the number of effects that Remedy "cures" get increased with Remedy Lore Licenses... Let's just say that this accessory turns a single Remedy on a character with all three Remedy Lore Licenses into "Inflict every Status Effect in the game that the target is not immune to, with 100% accuracy".
      • Elementals and Entites are powerful enemies when first encountered, with damaging spells and high HP. If you cast any magic, they'll respond with Silence/Silencega. This can be exploited by equipping your party (or at least the members who use magic) with Rose Corsages to make them immune to Silence, then having one or more characters use magic constantly. The Elemental/Entite will waste many of its turns futilely trying to Silence you.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, bosses are immune to Death... except the final boss, when it's staggered.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the Ranger class gains the "Mirror Item" skill, which changes it from Revive Kills Zombie to Revive Kills Everything Except Zombie, as well as the more obvious inversions such as making Potions deal damage. And Remedies (normally a cure-all) now inflict everything.
    • A common small-scale version of this is using negative statuses and other detrimental states to nullify certain bosses' attacks, usually through damage reduction that comes with it. Mostly evident against the superboss. Examples include:
      • Final Fantasy VII: Ruby Weapon normally begins the fight by using Whirlsand to remove two of your three party members from the battle permanently, then he buries his tentacles in the ground and begins using his other moves. Obviously, fighting with a single party member is less than ideal for you. Solution: go into the fight with two party members KO'd. He'll immediately bury his tentacles, at which point you can revive the other two with impunity and fight him with a full party. The countering of his attacks with Mime counts too, he'll eventually seal his own doom if set up correctly. Sort of works with Emerald, but look out for the time limit.
      • Final Fantasy VIII: Using Zombie on yourself against Omega Weapon; grants immunity to its opening Lvl 5 Death spell (so you can go in at Lvl 100), and reduces physical damage you take. You can get around Revive Kills Zombie with elemental absorptions.
      • Final Fantasy IX: Inflict Blind on Ozma. It only uses magic, so it should not impede its performance, but it wastes time curing it anyway. Such time wasting strategies are often the best to beat it. Also, Vivi and Amarant using Return Magic to send its Doomsday back at the source; a true Tactical Suicide Boss, although this only works if you've completed the Friendly Monster sidequest to remove its ability to heal from Shadow-elemental damage and failure to do so before trying the above strategy will just naturally result in restoring a huge chunk of its HP instead.
      • Final Fantasy X: Once you reach its second form, as long as you keep its arms out of action and your team free of statuses, Penance will eventually destroy itself if your team all has weapons with Counter Attack or similar.
      • Allowing Yunalesca to inflict Zombie on you (or doing it yourself preemptively) also will protect you from a certain mass instant-death attack that appears in their third form, and is necessary to survive if you haven't picked up Deathproof, Auto-Life, or more conventional methods. However, turnabout is fair play, and this also makes you vulnerable to said boss's curative magic, which they will use offensively at the drop of a hat.
      • Final Fantasy X-2: Black Elemental. The first playthrough you face it, go in with a Dark Knight and just use Charon. It has high defenses but not much health, so if your DK has high enough HP, you'll kill it in one hit. As it's a standalone fight, you don't have to worry about losing your DK either. For Trema, get rid of his MP; he'll be a lot less dangerous for it.
      • Final Fantasy XII: Both Hell Wyrm and Yiazmat have Stone Breath. As the victim gets more petrified, the physical damage they take (and dish out) decreases, so stave off the Softs and Stonas (which cure Petrify) as long as you dare; it'll save on them and healing in the long run.
      • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has a final boss who is infamously weak to the hero's Cure spell. The fight is ordinary a very long one with multiple forms and over 40,000 HP to deplete, but with Cure he's dead in about four turns.
  • In the ending chapter of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the Black Knight can be easily beaten by forgoing use of the Infinity +1 Sword in favor of using a common Hammer. Ike's poor resistance can also be exploited by a Sleep staff on 3-13.
  • Like most bosses in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the Ancient Devil is immune to status effects. However, its main gimmick is its power to enchant your player characters into assisting it, and they can be hobbled by status effects. Since the Devil will just enchant someone else if its current ally drops, this is a better way to minimize losses.
  • In Halo, the Bubble Shield is a Beehive Barrier that repulses all forms of ranged damage for several seconds, including plasma bursts and explosives. It is, however, not immune to having a Warthog plow through it and take out its user. That's not this trope. What is this trope, however, is a player rushing into an enemy Bubble Shield and detonating a grenade or rocket inside it — since the Bubble Shield prevents damage from passing through either side of its barrier, this ends up focusing all that destructive potential in an enclosed space, usually resulting in the death of everyone inside the Bubble Shield.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Is your character not much for a straight-up brawl with the Final Boss? No biggie — the fight doesn't actually start until you walk into the center of the room, giving you room to plant a collection of mines on the walkway linking the entrance to him. Granted, you still need to work around the boss's healing gimmick, but a whole collection of mines is a great way to empty his life bar.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: The final boss spawns three floating lightsabers to chase after you, and follows you around the arena. Well, you could try to fend off the lightsabers with your own. But if you're feeling like fighting dirty and you saved up some mines, you can lay a bunch of those around the arena and watch said boss blunder into them, taking out most of their hit points.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV's True Final Boss fight requires that players need to split among 3 parties, 8 members per party, with Rean being on Team A aka the main body. Normally the player needs to go to the other two forms before the main party can even take on Ishmelga Loge as the other two forms keep chucking Craft and Art Reflect buffs that lasts for two attacks before players can finally attack the main body and it will chuck those two spells instantly while it's still the player's turn when they're casting a Brave Order. However, by casting the Mirage Art "Albion Wolf", it allows players to bypass the craft and art reflect buffs plus debuff the boss from their permanent defense and art defense and easily kill the main body, skipping the other two forms. Coupled with a setup that allows Rean to instantly cast arts provided the player grabs Rean's exclusive accessory equipment from Emma and Elliot's final bonding events at Mishelam and Rean could easily solo the boss on his own.
  • The Berserker in Legend of Legaia can be instantly killed via the Nighto spell. It is the only boss vulnerable to this tactic, and is That One Boss otherwise. It is Fridge Brilliance when one considers that Nighto inflicts the Confuse status.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Carock is impossible to beat without the Reflect Spell, which can throw players for a loop since they're used to the whole swordfighting requirement of the game. Thunderbird is also impossible to beat without the Thunder Spell, since it will be invincible to sword strikes unless it is somehow weakened.
    • Get the hit just right, and it's possible to One-Hit Kill the final form of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening's final boss with the boomerang.
    • The second boss of Wind Waker can also be killed by pouring Forest Water on its nucleus.
  • In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, getting the seventh Dragon Egg requires you to avoid taking damage during the boss "fight" against Erim. You can expertly dodge the boss's attacks until the invisible timer ends...or you can have a character with an Ignore Falling Damage ability repeatedly leap off of the arena, which gives them long enough Mercy Invincibility to immediately jump off before taking damage.
  • Jormungandr, the second boss of Magicka, is a giant snake of the burrowing flavor. Normally his head is the only weakpoint, which he holds above the ground when not attacking. While it's not too difficult to hit his head during the attack frames, it's far easier to use a shield spell before he comes up or burrows again because he takes collision damage. Not only does this do more damage than your average beam spell, it also stuns him briefly and then forces him back under ground before he can attack.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga features the Trunkle boss, which dies to one or two hits of the Chopper Bros. attack to the forehead. This is a bit of a Guide Dang It!, since it's never mentioned that that particular move is super-effective on Trunkle, and not using this tactic to end the battle quickly will lead to a long, hard, Damage-Sponge Boss. Chopper Bros doesn't do much more damage per hit, but it does about ten times the hits of any of your other attacks.
  • You're encouraged to work as a team when playing 1 vs. 3 or 2 vs. 2 minigames in Mario Party. But sometimes you can deliberately try to lose in order to screw over your teammates who are just shy of having enough coins to buy a star.
  • Mega Man 2:
    • Sniper Armors are very vulnerable to the Air Shooter and the first few Wily Castle bosses are vulnerable to Quick Boomerangs.
    • During the Boss Rush portion of the same game, Metal Man dies to two (or even one) hits of his own weapon.
  • The Mega Man X series continues the trend of its predecessor series. While many bosses have Logical Weaknesses, Launch Octopus and Flame Mammoth both have one of these — the Boomerang Cutter can cut off Octopus' tentacles and prevent him from using his homing and tornado attacks, as well as being able to cut off Mammoth's trunk so he can't throw around globs of oil he can ignite into pillars of fire. You can also stunlock Spark Mandrill and Sting Chameleon.
    • There's also Web Spider from X4. The Twin Slasher does more damage than normal to him, but in order to hurt him really hard, you should fire it at the web he's hanging from, cutting it. He'll drop and go splat on the ground for massive damage, although this tends to be more difficult than it was intended since the weapon fires at an angle that usually hits Spider as well when you aim it at the web, and when he's under the effects of Mercy Invincibility, so is his web.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Two of the final boss' tricky-to-avoid attacks can be easily avoided by morphing into Chronoforce (who is otherwise useless for this battle), due to his hard shell blocking the damage from both attacks.
    • Your character's default form in both ZX games can duck, which almost none of your Megamerged forms can without dashing. Bringing up the selection wheel to change forms pauses the game. This is handy against shots and attacks aimed at your head; just unmorph, duck the shot, then morph back.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater gives you a ton of creative ways to defeat the various bosses.
    • Ocelot: You can shoot the beehives over his head, and then take a shot at him when he jumps out of cover in a panic. If you shoot his hat off he'll drop his guard as he goes over to recover it.
    • The Fear: When his stamina drops, you can throw some poisonous or rotten food on the floor and he will run over to eat it, not only causing a health/stamina drop but also giving you a chance to shoot him.
    • The End: If you picked up the thermal googles you can track his footprints in the mud. If you capture and release his pet parrot, the bird will fly over to his location and you can hear him through the directional microphone loudly admonishing his parrot. You can also use the directional microphone to listen for his heartbeat. Or if you're feeling really unfair, just save and leave the game alone for a week; remember that the game counts time between plays as in-universe downtime, and The End is a one hundred year old man expending the last of his energy to fight Snake. He will die of old age when you come back!
    • Volgin: CQC is surprisingly viable against him, though you do need to time it right or risk damage. Wearing the Raikov mask will cause him to pause for a few seconds and let you get some shots, but warning that he will become more aggressive afterwards as you are taunting him with his dead lover. A really bizarre tactic involves throwing out Russian Glowcap mushrooms to deflect his attacks (one mushroom will only absorb one attack however).
    • A non-boss battle variant involves escaping from the prison cell after being captured. If you caught the Easter Egg during the torture scene and kept note of the radio frequency The Sorrow showed you, using it will instantly unlock the cell door. You can also try befriending the guard by throwing your food back to him, which not only causes him to return Snake's Cig Spray, but makes him share a photo of his family, on the back of which the radio frequency is also written. Another Easter Egg method involves going into the Viewer and spinning Snake around until he vomits when the game is unpaused; the guard will stupidly come in to investigate and then you can whack him.
  • Metroid series:
    • The Final Boss of Metroid II: Return of Samus can be taken down by shooting a bunch of missiles at it... or you can take it down faster (and with less missile ammo) by shooting a missile into its open mouth to stun it, jumping into that mouth in ball form, letting it swallow you, then crawling into its stomach and laying a trio of bombs. Rinse and repeat 5 times. You do take drain damage from being inside the boss's digestive tract, but it's a relatively slow drain, and in the end you take about the same damage that you would take trying to face-tank her lunges the normal way.
    • Super Metroid has Draygon, who can be killed with a lot of missiles...or you can shoot out the cannons on the sides (exposing the power cables underneath), let the boss grab you, then use the Grapple Beam to grab one of the exposed power cables, electrocuting the boss to death rapidly. Again, you take damage from grabbing the power cable, but the boss takes far more.
    • Several enemies in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption can be killed in a single strike of the Nova Blaster augmented by the X-Ray Visor, due to the limitations of their Phazite armor.
    • Metroid Dread has Experiment Z-57's second phase, which has a lot of health to wear down. However, one attack in its second phase uses fans to blow Samus towards a hazardous goop-covered wall and forces her to use the Speed Booster to run from it. If Samus uses this opportunity to charge a Shinespark and hit Experiment Z-57's weakpoint with it after the attack ends, it will instantly end the fight.
  • Some monsters in Monster Hunter have particularly clever ways to take them down. Is Big Eater Nibelsnarf giving you trouble with its charge attacks? Feed It a Bomb, then fish it out to make it vulnerable. Is the Zinogre, which uses Mega Thunderbugs to attack you, on the verge of going into its third Rage Mode? Make it trip and catch them with a bugnet.
  • Mother
    • None of the games' final bosses are defeated with traditional methods. In the case of the first two games, they're defeated not by you attacking them, but by singing a song or by prayer. The third is mostly surviving long enough for a cutscene to take place.
    • All enemies, including potentially troublesome bosses, in Earthbound, are either susceptible to PSI/PK Paralysis, which will completely shut them down and render them incapable of acting for the rest of the fight, or crying, which will at least make them much less likely to hit you. This due to the two weaknesses sharing the same stat, but one being inverted.
    • Some bosses lack Contractual Boss Immunity against PK Flash, a random attack that can instantly kill anything. When it doesn't just make people cry. Or doesn't do much of anything.
    • Some otherwise difficult bosses in Mother 3 have some vulnerabilities to certain techniques.
      • The Fierce Pork Trooper. Sure, he's kinda weak against fire, and it is possible to defeat him with standard melee and PSI attacks, but he becomes much easier to defeat by employing his weakness: DCMC merchandise. Show him some stuff featuring his favourite rock band, and he becomes unable to attack for several turns, turning this into a much easier battle.
      • The Barrier Trio is a normally difficult boss who throws high-level PSI at your entire party every single round, when all methods of healing at this point will only affect one party member. However, if you constantly lower their defense with the Tickle Stick and Defense Down, they might attempt to bring their Defense back up, slowing down their barrage of attacks.
      • On a general note, very few bosses are immune to crying, and their difficulty can be potentially be reduced greatly if you manage to afflict them with it.
  • NetHack, a distant cousin, has "stone to flesh", which makes stone golems much easier to kill — and also, when used on rocks or boulders, produces prodigious amounts of perfectly edible meat, which non-vegetarian characters can use to stave off starvation.
  • In Odin Sphere, Onyx can be glued to the spot with a normally useless "Ooze" potion to stop That One Attack. Since he's so damn big and an Ooze is so small and moves back and forth slowly, Onyx won't be able to do a damn thing except watch his HP go down as you start whaling on him.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star:
    • The first three bosses can be defeated without the proper Things with carefully timed use of defensive stickers like the Tail, Spike Helmet, Frog Suit and Super Boot, which can No-Sell their otherwise dangerous attacks and sometimes damage them for even trying. Another option is to overload on every possible offensive buff, inflict the Crumpled status on the boss for double damage, and then unload your most powerful stickers and Things, often reaching overkill levels and defeating them before they even get a turn.
    • The giant Cheep Cheep that's fought at Surfshine Harbor can either be handled like a Timed Boss Battle, or you can simply opt to pop it with a Spike Helmet, circumventing the need to use up your powerful stickers and/or spend coins on the battle roulette to defeat it before it self-destructs on you.
    • The Big Boo normally turns on the lights a few turns into the battle, turning itself invisible and forcing you to use the Fan, Vaccum, or Water-based Things to turn the lights back off. Or you can just use one of the Infinijump stickers the boss's level gave you, which will defeat it on the first turn since it has exactly 100 HP.
    • When you find yourself facing a Big Chain Chomp, the solution to the entire problem isn't trying to deplete the monster's HP with your attacks. Instead, you simply pound down the stake keeping it where it is (before you even go into battle with it), and then face it and just wait for it to wake up. It does the rest on its own.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 has the 6th full moon boss: Strength and Fortune. The gimmick of the fight is that every turn Fortune will use the "Wheel of Fortune" attack, which has a variety of effects such as inflicting damage, or Status Infliction Attack on either your party or on themselves. Fear is one of those status effects. At this point, if you're versed enough in fusions, it's possible to have a Persona with the Ghastly Wail ability, which instantly kills all enemies with Fear. Strength and Fortune are not immune to this. Provided you know how to manipulate the wheel, the fight can easily become a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • In Persona 4, some Humongous Mecha Shadows have extremely high defense that most of your attacks dealt one digit damage. To offset this, they have low amount of HP. So, one use of any high level attack items such as Hell Magatama will kill them in one hit.
    • Persona 5 has a non-combat version. One dungeon has a maze-like section that is almost completely pitch black and thus impossible to safely navigate. It's a "game" designed to trap the people who enter it and leave them to be killed by Shadows. The Phantom Thieves beat the game by using Joker's Third Eye power, which highlights important details when used, and also tweaks the graphics in a way that lets the player see the walls of the maze.
  • Rabi-Ribi has Miriam, a Ditto Fighter boss who gains a new attack pattern for every item Erina has in her inventory, and who copies the majority of the effects of all badges she has equipped. How do you defeat a boss who has item you have? By getting to her with as few items as possible. Failing that (since no one would ever do that on their first run,) there's deequipping all your badges to prevent her from getting the buffs, and figuring out which ones she can't copy (or better yet, equipping ones like Atk Trade and Health Wager that decrease your defense and health in exchange for increasing your attack and mana, since she also copies the negative effects.) There's the one thing she can't copy: temporary buffs from townsfolk. Go to Miru and shell out 25k EN to get every buff in the game and go full aggro on her.
  • Done in-universe in the 2002 Resident Evil remake with Chris's flash grenade self-defense weapon. Being something he clearly brought to use on human aggressors and realizing the flash won't do anything to the zombies, he uses it by shoving it in their mouth so the blast blows their head clean off instead. On the player's side, it may not be immediately obvious, but Crimson Head zombies are just as susceptible to this tactic... including the very powerful and deadly one entombed under the cemetery that serves as a mini-boss.
  • The lava chamber in Resident Evil 4 has three fire-breathing dragon statues you need to disable. The shields placed along the walkways hint that you're expected to fake out the enemies operating each statue and quickly snipe them before they can turn the statue toward you and hide behind it. You can do that, or you can stand a safe distance away, take a look at the chains each statue hangs from, and shoot the D-ring couplers keeping them together.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: Demon Lord Namris is immune to all attacks from humans, and the game expects the player to recruit the dragon girl, Enda, to damage him. However, if that isn't an option or if the player wants to get his bonus drop, he can be killed through summoned beasts, angels, and strategies involving ailment-inflicting items.
  • In several Shin Megami Tensei games, buffs/debuffs are best used against bosses not for their intended effect, but to goad the boss into losing turns (or Press Turns where applicable) dispelling them instead of attacking.
  • Asura of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has Asura Roga, which inflicts Rage on the party. Rage-afflicted targets get an attack boost, but also uncontrollably attack random targets, including their teammates or each other, but not themselves. So if you challenge Asura alone, his Hate Plague will be used almost exclusively on him, letting your berserk main character slice Asura to ribbons without the worries of a team tearing themselves apart.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Inferno, the final boss of Soul Calibur 2, is normally That One Boss... unless you exploit his weakness. Surprisingly for a flaming creature, he has no ability to avoid throws, and they take off much more damage than any other attacks.
  • In Super Mario RPG, due to the unique mechanics of his fight, Exor is not actually classified as a boss by the ingame battle system. As a result, he lacks Contractual Boss Immunity and can be easily dispatched with Geno's One-Hit Kill attack.
  • There are a few examples in the Super Smash Bros. series.
    • One of the simpler ones involves the 15-Minute Melee, where the player has to survive against waves of drones for 15 minutes. The drones start off with very poor AI, but each replacement drone for one that was defeated has better AI than the ones before. Solution? Don't attack — it's trivially easy to defend against the poor (and seldom-attacking) AI of the early drones, and if they're never defeated, you never have to deal with the ones that might be a challenge.
    • One that crosses over into Violation of Common Sense and A.I. Breaker involves the Cruel Smash, where the enemy drones have extremely ramped up offense, defense, and aggression on their AI. However, it's possible to abuse that aggression by simply jumping off the stage — the player has ways to recover from that, but the AI doesn't (they only have a double jump, and lack an up special and the ability to grab ledges), so its aggression just goads the drones into committing suicide. Flying characters and characters who are momentarily still before using a move to return them to the stage are particularly good at this, as they can remain tempting off-stage targets for longer.
    • The Miis in the fourth game's Cruel Smash have wised up to the above tactic, but another one was introduced: spamming Counters. Because the Cruel Miis have insane damage and knockback, and Counters get as powerful as the countered attack, landing a few counters is often enough to earn the requisite KOs for the achievements, especially if you prepare a custom Mii Swordfighter with Counter and buffed defense.
    • The Assist Trophy version of Isaac from Golden Sun does this. Powerful, flashy Psynergy or summons? Nope. He just casts Move, his noncombat utility power... and harmlessly pushes your enemies off the stage for an instant ring-out.
  • It's a running gag that the final boss, Dhaos, of Tales of Phantasia is susceptible to the Indignation spell. In cameo appearances in later games, he dies to one use of the spell.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Spies with the Dead Ringer can fake their own deaths while implementing Interface Screw to fake out the attacker's killfeed. Weapons with unique/altered killfeed messages like the Holy Mackerel won't show their unique message, tipping off the attacker to the Spy's trickery.
    • On the flipside, a Spy is typically unable to face a Soldier or Demoman in direct combat, which is perfectly within the realm of Competitive Balance. However, these two classes use weapons that do splash damage to everyone around them, including themselves, and the aforementioned Dead Ringer reduces the damage taken by the Spy. If the enemy is below half health (something the Spy can innately see), a Spy with the Dead Ringer primed can run up into their face and cause him to blow himself up with a point blank explosion, then skitter away while invisible after faking their explosive demise. A Scout can also do this by using the Bonk Atomic Punch to effectively become invulnerable for eight seconds, like a mini-Ubercharge.
    • Is a Demoman giving you trouble with his Sticky Bomb traps? It's possible to destroy them, or push them out of the way with the Pyro's air blast, but he might just detonate them. A crafty opposing Soldier or Demoman, however, can fire an explosive just short of the sticky bomb carpet, flinging the explosives back at the Demoman who laid them. It's entirely possible to trick a Demoman into killing himself in an embarrassing explosion this way.
    • A Scout under the influence of the Bonk Atomic Punch or an undisguised Spy can creatively position himself to trick the auto aiming Sentry Gun into shooting at the Scout or Spy, but hitting the Engineer instead.
    • Bonk Atomic Punch-drinking Scouts can get on your nerves as an Engineer, since you can't kill him and he'll probably run away before his drink wears off. Instead, equip the Wrangler, and pin the pest in place with a torrent of firepower until his invulnerability gives out, or use that same firepower to launch him off the edge of the map if it's an open-sided one such as Upward, since he can't be injured but is still affected by Knock Back.
  • Gespent, a sub-boss in Wild ARMs 3, can be killed with a single use of the Requiem spell.
  • The World Ends with You: Two major flaws of the Time Bomb psych is that it takes a while to actually explode and when it does, any enemy hit flies into the air. Well, the elephants, including the superboss one, and both forms of the Final Boss are slow/immobile and cannot fly in the air. The Time Bomb psych will utterly destroy them.
  • In Xenonauts, Earth scientists are presented with the challenge of stopping an invincible armada sent by an alien empire the size of a galactic arm to conquer this Insignificant Little Blue Planet. Their solution? Research Faster Than Light travel to create not a drive for a ship, but instead to create a huge elaborate device which scrambles all alien drives within a one thousand light year radius. Any other alien race looking to try and invade Earth again will need to send the fleet at sublight speed, which could take hundreds or even thousands of years of highly energy intensive travel. Nothing on Earth could possibly be worth it.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is a very common strategy in the Ace Attorney series. When Unconventional Courtroom Tactics and Indy Ploys aren't enough, the Player Character usually resorts to solving the case by thinking of another method of wrapping up the case or by switching the crime's premise and structure into an entirely new set of facts.
    • A talking parrot is the only one who can prove a witness's connection to a past caseExplanation ? Cross-examine the parrot. In another case, Phoenix does the same thing to a whale, which can't talk.
    • In one case, Phoenix knows that the killer on the stand is guilty, but needs to think of a way to prove it. He resorts to tricking the witness into confessing through use of I Never Said It Was Poison. Phoenix intentionally gets the color of a bottle containing poison incorrect, causing Furio Tigre to give a gloating correction. Trouble was, this had never been brought up before while Tigre was in court. The only way he could have known that was if he'd used the poison to kill the victim.
    • In Apollo Justice, the titular lawyer has proven that a witness is a killer with pure logic, but without evidence, they can't be convicted. Apollo's solution is to convince the partner in crime to talk- confessing to a crime that carries the death penalty in his home country so he will receive a lighter sentence in Japanifornia- which the killer can't possibly stop from happening. The killer promptly has a Villainous Breakdown and begs his accomplice not to talk, incriminating himself.
    • In Spirit of Justice, the final opponent is so politically powerful that they can just rewrite the law on the spot when things aren't going their way. The only way that the defense attorneys manage to get around that is to prove that the queen cannot channel spirits and thus has no claim to the throne, thus invalidating every law she ever made.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, there are two cases where Ryunosuke can't prove the witness's guilt. What he can do however is undermine their goals, making whatever criminal acts they commited all for naught. In Adventures, Ryunosuke plays a pair of music box discs that had government communications encoded into them, going against Inspector Gregson's objectives of keeping them secret. Thus Gregson is forced to admit that he made a deal with the real killer in exchange for the discs. Then in Resolve, Ryunosuke determined that William Shamspeare's motive for murdering a fellow tenant and attempting to murder another person was to uncover a hidden treasure in his targets' room, so he suggests that the court locates the treasure themselves, meaning Shamspeare will never get his hands on it.

    Web Comics 
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: While increased durability helps Dicers to resist most types of blunt attacks, abilities and fistfighting, it's pointless against an actual knife, which Jieun uses regularly.
  • Erfworld:
    • The nature of the world means Parson usually has to rely on these to win fights. In fact, that's the whole reason Parson was summoned, to think of tactics no-one else would. And he's very good at it.
    • At one point, Parson describes a tabletop gaming campaign he was creating for his friends which was designed to be unwinnable in a straightforward manner, just to see what kind of outside-the-box tactics they would use against him.
    • In the second book, epic magic is used to put Gobwin Knob in a physically impossible trap. While everyone is panicking, Jack manages to come up with a clever strategy to get their most important unit to safety by sacrificing the rest of them. He is congratulating himself on his plan when Parson calls with a way to win this impossible battle (without any magic to counter what was used against them). Jack is flabbergasted, but delighted. Notably, the ambush is so perfect that when Gobwin Knob puts Parson's plan into motion, their enemy thinks it's nothing but posturing. A few minutes later, it's their turn to panic.
  • Nearly everything that happens in Homestuck: Inserting two punched cards together in the appropriate slot to combine the objects they are supposed to make; killing your party so they survive in the afterlife that is connected to all other worlds; replacing your dead self by one of your dream selves (who is supposed to stay where he is until a certain point of the game); using a teleportation power on everything that endangers you to delete it rather than on you to flee; etc...

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series had Batman vs. a Robot Me that was trying to replace him. Batman let the Robot version believe it had killed him (by throwing him into a bottomless pit); the robot was such an exact copy it suffered a mental breakdown and then destroyed itself for violating Batman's One Rule.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Terry's on the ropes. The Joker is delighted at the prospect of another Batman to defeat, and has a lot more experience in the Bat-family's tactics. Bruce advises his usual strategy — "Joker's vain and likes to talk... just power through." But that gives Terry an idea — Terry likes to talk, too. Cue the younger Batman turning the tables on Joker and taunting Joker into a first-rate Villainous Breakdown, finishing him off with his own joy buzzer.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • In the episode "Hawk and Dove", the Annihilator defeats much of the League by feeding off aggression and hostility. When Dove faces the machine and neither attacks it nor fights back in self-defense, the machine shuts down.
    • In the same vein, the android AMAZO mimics both the principal characters' superpowers and weaknesses. After he obtains Superman's strength, he also obtains his weakness to kryptonite. He quickly evolves past this weakness though. Then the trope is invoked a second time as the Martian Manhunter deliberately lets AMAZO copy his powers... which include telepathy, which it uses to read Lex Luthor's mind and discover how he tricked it into fighting the League in the first place.
  • Using these is Ladybug's primary means of victory. It's enabled by her Lucky Charm that gives her exactly what she needs to be successful each time... once she figures out what it's used for.
  • When Trixie shows up for revenge and curb-stomps Twilight Sparkle in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Magic Duel", Twilight's only chance to fight back is some Training from Hell to become as powerful as Trixie. However, being well-aware that she can't match her power, Twilight instead uses trickery and stage magic, which is Trixie's usual specialty, to defeat her.
  • The Samurai Jack episode "Jack vs. Mad Jack" has Jack fighting a clone spawned from his irrational anger. At the conclusion, he catches on, steps back and meditates. With his anger calmed, the clone's power cuts off and it dissipates.

    Real Life 
  • To some extent, the evolution of strategy and tactics is one series of these after another. Tactics constantly evolve to adjust to social, political, and technological factors, and in turn affect those factors. One needs to look only at World War I: the deadlock of the trenches led to the development of quickfire artillery barrages, squad and platoon assault tactics, and armored advances, all of which would have been unimaginable to all but the most prescient officers in 1914. The success of the tank led to entire strategies built around it that would dominate World War II and the Cold War. What seemed new and outside-the-box in the last war could quickly turn into standard operating procedure in the next.
  • In ancient Greece, armies used the phalanx formation where soldiers would have several lines of soldiers of equal lengths with the front line interlocking shields. Because the shield was held in the left hand, the soldiers on the right of the formation would not benefit from the interlocking shields; to compensate, the toughest soldiers would be placed on the right side. At the Battle of Leuctra between Sparta — the dominant power of the time and with a reputation of having a strong army — and Thebes, the Theban general Epaminondas ordered his outnumbered troops to make unorthodox and uneven phalanxes, putting his elite troops on the left instead of the right and even more forces behind them. The result was the Spartans being overpowered, the Thebans gaining victory and ousting the Spartans as the dominant Greek power, and inspiring Kings Phillip II and Alexander III of Macedonia to adopt new approaches in battle tactics, changing the course of history.
    • In the Roman conquest of Macedonia and Greece, this was how the Romans defeated the phalanx: the legions refused combat from the front and exploited their greater speed and flexibility by swinging round to hit the Greeks on their unshielded side, knowing a phalanx could not quarter-turn anything like as swiftly as a Roman cohort to counter a flank attack. The Romans rolled up the chorts by flank- attacking the unshielded right side.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Non Obvious Weakness


Gain Ground: Tank VS Tornado

When Gain Ground was remade for the Sega Genesis, a new world was added that wasn't in the arcade version. The new world's final boss was a tank, which drove around the screen and fired wide spreads of bullets. However, a well-timed tornado can bounce around the inside of the tank's hitbox, eliminating in milliseconds what is usually a massive challenge to defeat without casualties. This trick actually works on all of the bosses- the tank is just the easiest and most useful case for players to abuse.
Video Source:

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Example of:

Main / OutsideTheBoxTactic

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