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Powers Do the Fighting

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When your Ass-Kicking Pose is an armfold, you know you're a badass.

This is when a character goes to almost no physical effort during combat, instead letting his magic or powers fight for him, usually resulting in several low-grade henchmen exploding, melting, disintegrating, being erased from existence, or any of the above without him so much as lifting a finger. No Magical Gesture, Blasting Time, Pstandard Psychic Pstance, or any of that silly "Look, he's doing a magic thing!" crap are involved here; the character's powers speak for themselves. Any actual gesture, movement, or other indicators that he is employing them at the moment will be very subtle at most.

Often, this is used to show how powerful the character is via The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort. Your bullets stop cold and drop to the floor while he engages in Casual Danger Dialogue. Your Kamehame Hadoken bounces off his Beehive Barrier, which then turns into a swarm of actual bees. Followed by him putting you into a Psychic Strangle.

However, it can also be a case of Squishy Wizard or Disability Superpower, where the character is simply incapable of physically fighting, and Psychic Powers are all he's got. Getting this character to dodge or otherwise physically defend himself generally triggers either Villain Respect for his Worthy Opponent, or "I'll Kill You!!" and an Unstoppable Rage. (Although this is usually the point where the character turns out to be more stoppable than previously indicated.) And woe betide them if they lost access to their powers, whether temporarily or permanently; if they don't have any kind of backup (such as martial arts skills or weapons, or people who could help them), they're basically screwed.

A character can appear to do this when using Super Speed to physically run up and punch you or pluck thrown items out of the air in the blink of an eye, or using Time Stands Still through being a Time Master. Figuring out the difference will be key to defeating them.

Compare Long-Range Fighter who may or may not still have to move a lot and focus on the target, and "Instant Death" Radius when this is taken to the extreme. Sometimes overlaps with Thought-Controlled Power, but not all examples here are thought-controlled. Fighting Spirit is a Sub-Trope where the powers manifest themselves in a physical form, but still fight in place of the user.

Contrast Full-Contact Magic where gestures are more than needed. Also contrast Fights Like a Normal, where someone with powers fights as though they do not; one could say it is the inverse of this trope.

See also: Antagonist Abilities. This trope is the highest tier of The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort. For characters that possess great amounts of raw power but lack any actual normal fighting skills, see Unskilled, but Strong.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • AKIRA: Tetsuo first evidences true power when breaking out of his cell at the unnamed facility, after being terrorized by the three other test subjects in the dead of night (the monster-sized stuffed toys and pool of milk scene.) The scene of how he deals with the guards as seen in a distant shot in the hallway is particularly horrifying in the small quietness of it, squashing them to pulp against the walls and ceiling while crushing the walls, floor and ceiling around him into spherical depressions, seemingly while in a half-dazed rage and not even looking while he does it. His hike through the city and the ease with which he fends off attack and destroys nearly everything that gets in his way, gives the impression that it is not the boy Tetsuo who is doing all this but some great invisible power that surrounds him, that may be some thing of its own.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • Garaku relies heavily on his drawings to handle his opponents, dedicating what physical abilities he possesses to drawing faster (enough so to draw on his opponents).
    • Une has mirror-traveling and illusion powers, but has virtually no physically abilities because she's a near-limbless floating mirror. Her more powerful humanoid form has arms and legs, but stays mostly stationary while creating other floating mirrors to Beam Spam with.
  • Bleach:
    • Sufficiently strong characters, like Yamamoto or Aizen can win fights with weaker foes simply by unleashing their Spiritual Pressure in a suffocating wave of pure badassery. In this case it's not their powers doing the fighting, but their power: they are so insurmountably beyond their foes that they can simply "power up" them into submission, if not kill them outright in the case of Coyote Starrk.
    • Byakuya does this throughout the Soul Society arc, since his main power is to break his sword into a cloud of tiny fragments that he can control remotely and he's good enough at Flash Step that he can teleport while appearing to stand still. In his fight with Ichigo he's pushed hard enough that he has to start using gestures to direct them faster, and generally has a Not So Stoic moment.
    • Zommari Rureaux, in his Resurreccion form, can stay in one spot and simply use his People Puppets and Mind Manipulation powers to make other objects, people, or even your own body attack you for him.
    • Szyael Aporro Granz has a number of abilities that require no physical effort on his part. He has a liquid that can clone others, wings that can create a voodoo doll, and a parasitic resurrection ability that causes him to regenerate inside someone else's body while rotting them from the inside out.
    • Barragan Luisenbarn is a Walking Wasteland that causes anything near him to age. Even outside of his Super Mode, it's impossible to attack him without this occurring. In Resurreccion, however, he creates a Battle Aura that surrounds him and can be fired off as a destructive cloud. Being even lightly grazed by it will cause it to spread over your entire body within seconds. The most effort we see him go through is occasionally swinging or throwing his axe — which, by the way, has the same powers he does.
    • Coyote Starrk can do this, but he chooses not to, because it carries significant risk. Most of his powers do not follow this trope, but his ultimate attack, "The Wolf Pack", summons wolf-shaped wraiths that explode on impact. The rub is that, Starrk is actually two people, and his wolves are controlled by his "other half", Lilynette Gingerback...and therein lies the risk. Each wolf that explodes (or is destroyed by other means) has the potential of permanently killing Lilynette. Which, in the anime, is exactly what happens.
    • Yukio Hans Vorarlberna, when facing against Toshiro Hitsugaya inside his video game world generally fights like this whilst creating monsters and other creations to fight for him.
    • As Nodt's primary fighting style works in a similar manner to Byakuya's Zanpakuto; floating spikes that he controls remotely. Later in Vollstandig he has an ability that creates walls of eyes that once they make eye contact with his opponent instills deep fear in them.
    • Gremmy Thoumeaux prefers to not lift a finger while his Imagination-Based Superpower does the work, in a similar vein to Yukio. Kenpachi manages an attack that forces him to use his hand to block it. Which, as it turns out, still doesn't subvert the trope; Gremmy is a literal Brain in a Jar, so even his "physical" body still turned out to be his powers doing the work for him.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Accelerator can unconsciously maintain a reflective barrier, causing enemies to defeat themselves even when Accelerator is wholly unaware that he is being attacked. It's actually his biggest weakness, however, since his over-reliance on his powers means that on the rare occasion someone finds a way around them, he doesn't really know any other way to fight.
    • Fiamma of the Right's Holy Right ability manifests as a bird talon-like third arm that emerges from his shoulder. It can emerge to defend him from attacks he's unaware of, like Kill Sat strikes, then destroy the attacker.
    • Any and all Magic Gods can do fun stuffs such as creating projectiles larger than the planet Earth and launch them instantly with a thought. When they are serious, they can even create and delete entire universes at will. Really, this series loves this trope.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Nakime is the most extreme example in the series. Her fighting prowess is entirely dependent on her Blood Demon Art to warp space within the Infinity Castle, unlike other demons who can still fall back on melee when cornered. Luckily, Nakime is virtually untouchable within the Infinity Castle, at least by direct attack.
  • An unusual variant occurs in Dragon Ball Super with Ultra Instinct, as the power being used still involves your body fighting. According to Whis, Ultra Instinct is a technique (or transformation in Goku's case) where your entire body becomes autonomous. The motivation behind it is that no matter how fast a person can get (which in this universe can exceed light), the brain and nervous system are always limited by the speed of electrical impulses that make up thought. With Ultra Instinct, however, your body can move, dodge, and attack all without the user having to think about it or, in some cases, even be aware of any danger whatsoever.
  • Elfen Lied: Higher-end Diclonius like Lucy and Mariko let their invisible, razor-sharp vectors shred everything and everyone around them while they stand (or sit) in place with a blank, detached look on their faces.
  • In Fist of the North Star, Raoh doesn't have to lay a finger on his enemies, he can just let his "Touki" do it for him. Anyone who even approaches him without his permission feels like they've been hit with Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs by a peerless martial artist, and since Raoh is a master of Hokuto Shinken, each of them will be precisely aimed at a specific Pressure Point on the victim's body, with the usual devastating effect. The protagonist Kenshiro eventually learns to do this as well, bringing a whole new tactical element to his battles against similarly powerful enemies. When people in this series say that a battle between martial arts masters begins long before the first one swings a fist, it's absolutely Not Hyperbole.
  • Pride from Fullmetal Alchemist gets thrown around like a ragdoll during certain battles, but he attacks by launching shadowy tendrils from just about anywhere on his body or in his vicinity.
    • Anyone using a Philosopher's Stone, which prevents the need to use circles, or even movement, to perform alchemy, tends to fight like this. The most prominent user of this tactic is Father, who generally doesn't move a muscle, instead using alchemy to disassemble attacks and erect barriers. Towards the end of the final battle, the moment where he finally moves to stop one of Edward's attacks, instead of deconstructing it with his barrier, is the sign that his supply of souls has finally begun to run dry, leaving him very vulnerable.
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), this is essentially the way Sloth fights, hence the name. She just kind of stands there waving watery tentacle arms around.
  • A minor staple in any Gundam series: If a mobile suit has Attack Drones, expect them to do this once in a while.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: While the first two parts of the series focus mostly on direct physical fighting, the series evolves into this when Stands (psychic powers given anthropomorphic appearances) are introduced. In most battles, combatants don't lay an actual finger on their opponents, allowing their Stands (And the crazy abilities they have) to do the fighting. Aside from most Stands just beating the crap out of the foe or hitting them with long-range attacks, some Stands are based on remote-controlled use, and some even work without the user being aware of it. It's not 100% clear how much direct control stand users have over their stands, however.
  • In The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, Miran Frouade and Lir Orla use their rings to conjure magical beasts to fight for them or erect barriers to defend themselves. Miran occasionally supplements this with other magical attacks, while Lir (at least in the anime) relies entirely on his ring.
  • Megalo Box: Mikio has implanted an AI called ACE inside his Gear that can analyse and predict opponents' moves and attack and block without user input. As such, it can be said ACE is the one actually boxing, with Mikio mostly providing the footwork. Joe highlights the flaw in this fighting style by refusing to act — ACE hasn't been programmed to attack people who aren't boxing.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Tokoyami has a Quirk called Dark Shadow, which lets him summon his shadow as a bird-like entity. Having a mind of its own, Dark Shadow makes Tokoyami a very powerful long-ranged fighter, and he doesn't have to focus on it much. This is slightly deconstructed, as it's acknowledged that, while this makes him an amazing opponent at long range, this also means that if a villain gets close to him, he will be back at disadvantage, meaning he needs to train his body. He eventually comes up with Dark Ankh, where he has Dark Shadow enshroud him like an exoskeleton, mitigating his physical weaknesses.
    • Stain identifies Todoroki as someone who relies on his Quirk too much. Todoroki has an extremely powerful combination of fire and ice, but he's so used to just bowling over his opponents with his Quirk that if he faces someone he can't do that to, he falters. Stain specifically points out that Todoroki makes the mistake (multiple times, even after being warned) of blocking his own vision of an opponent who is faster than him. He is predictably blindsided several times in the fight.
  • Naruto
    • Gaara (picture above) is protected by his sand, so for most of his fights early on in the series, he stands by while the sand deflects projectiles and destroys his enemies for him. He sometimes use his hands to control the sand when finishing off opponents.
    • Naruto's chakra shroud has a mind of its own, and can launch its own attacks separate from his own.
    • The Aburame clan rely on the chakra-eating insects that live in their body in a symbiosis with their hosts for most of their fighter, usually by releasing them in clouds or such. It may not always be effective, but it can be quite surprisingly ruthless.
    • Susanoo, the strongest ability granted to Mangekyo Sharingan users, is a nigh-impenetrable, absurdly powerful guardian entity that tears through the opposition while the user just sits in the middle (or floats in its head if it's in a form with legs).
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Haruna Saotome gains a magical artifact that brings anything she draws to life, so she generally draws things capable of combat. Haruna herself has no physical or magical prowess whatsoever.
  • One Piece:
    • Nico Robin is a bit of an odd example of this though. Her powers, from the Flower-Flower Fruit, lets her sprout copies of any of her body parts anywhere, from herself, the ground, walls of building, to people's bodies. She uses them mainly to strangle people or break their necks from afar. Granted, they are still her limbs that rely on her strength and she still feels pain if they're hit. Becomes more of a proper example as after the time-skip, she can make full-out duplicates.
    • Trafalgar Law, with his Op-Op Fruit, can manipulate position of things within a radius, or "room", as if everyone around him are patients Strapped to an Operating Table. He rarely moves much from his position (aside from using hand gestures) while doing so. Downplayed, though, in that he's also a competent close-range fighter when the situation calls for it.
    • The Haki of the "Supreme King" can be used this way, arguably. However, given that those on the receiving end instantly faint, it more skips the battle entirely. Rayleigh, Shanks, Luffy and Chinjao have all done this, and once again all of them are incredibly competent fighting normally.
    • Discussed once — it's mentioned by Pekoms of the Big Mom Pirates that Logia Fruit powers who practice this trope fully have short lifespans in the New World, because many fighters there employs Haki which, among other things, can bypass Logia's immunity to direct attacks.
    • Bartolomeo fights in this way due to him being a Barrier Warrior and a bit of a troll. However, he does move around a lot and stays alert if he's up against opponents comparable to him or stronger.
    • Gecko Moria is this, with his Shadow-Shadow Fruit, allowing him to control his shadow and let his Living Shadow fight Luffy. Luffy finally manages to get past the shadow by slinging himself over the railing and kicking through the floor where Moria is sitting.
    • This is Moria's whole philosophy, a result of losing his old crew to Kaido, causing him to completely snap and created his zombie army with his powers as not to feel that loss. Tellingly, when he does finally step up to fight with his own body, he's a Clipped-Wing Angel who goes down within the same episode. It's implied he used to be an aversion before getting wrecked by Kaido.
    • Big Mom's Soul-Soul Fruit allows her take the lifeforce from others and use it to create living inanimate objects that fight on her behalf. These include chess soldiers, her bicorne hat, a storm cloud and a miniature sun. On the other hand, Big Mom is frightening powerful and durable without her powers, having been an unstoppable juggernaut since she was six-years-old. Her powers just give her a more esoteric means to wreck havoc.
    • Her son Charlotte Daifuku is a bit more literal than most when it comes to this trope, as his power is to literally have a genie (summoned by rubbing himself like a lamp) fight in his behalf. While he can probably take care of himself, his genie is strong enough to carry a ship-sized halberd and use it to slash entire armadas apart, and has a long enough range that he can simply stand back with crossed arms and watch from a few hundred feet away as it massacres his foes. It does work against him, however, in that the genie's not as controllable as he'd like, so when ordered to kill a particularly evasive opponent leaping around between his ships it ended up sinking half his fleet as collateral damage.
    • Movie villain Baccarat relies entirely on her Devil Fruit to fight by stealing her opponent's good luck so that they injure themselves in accidents. When Usopp tricks her into using up the last of her good luck on a slot machine, she goes down in one hit from him.
    • Caesar Clown is a Mad Scientist without any particular skill as a fighter, so all he's got going for him in combat are his Logia powers. But since the Gas-Gas Fruit is incredibly versatile even by Logia standards, he's a very dangerous foe anyway. He's quick to berate people who mistake "gas" for being limited to just poison gas; he can control all gases, including oxygen.
  • Ryuuho from S Cry Ed hangs back and allows his Altar, Zetsuei, to do most of the fighting for him. Ryuuho is one of the most powerful Altars in HOLY, and Zetsuei is more than capable of defending Ryuuho from attack while dominating other Altars simultaneously.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: King uses Flying and Morph Weapon Chastiefol to do most of his fighting since he is a Squishy Wizard who is physically weaker than an old man with a bad back.
  • Jig, the protagonist of Stealth Symphony, has a device fused to his back that can detect hostility directed at him, defends Jig from any harm that comes from this hostility, and redirect it back in the same direction. Jig is otherwise an ordinary human teenager with no combat skills whatsoever, but as this device is a Morph Weapon with seemingly no upper limit to what it can take and functions totally independently of Jig's actions, the device effectively renders Jig invulnerable. It is discovered pretty early on that it does not protect Jig from harm with no malicious intent, however, such as accidents.
  • Symphogear: While most armed gears provide some sort of hand-held weapon, Shul Shagana gives Shirabe a pair of mechanical pigtails that wield its gigantic buzzsaws for her. Combined with a pair of motorized wheels in her boots, she can let her gear handle most of the fighting.
  • In Tiger & Bunny the villain Jake Martinez has an extremely versatile power of creating barriers, which allows him to be unfazed by even the most powerful attacks, and can be used just as powerfully offensively. He also has a second power, telepathy, which allows him predict attacks. Because of these abilities, he never has to put any effort into fighting, which means that he can't handle it when he receives even the slightest injury.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America: MODOK doesn't do much except press buttons on his chair or use Psychic Powers. That's good for him, because he's a huge head in a chair with stubby limbs.
  • New Gods: Darkseid is often shown simply walking along, firing off his Eye Beams. He doesn't even have to glance at his enemy, the beams can change direction.
  • The Darkness can frequently use his powers to produce shadowy masses of tentacles, in order to drag, mutilate, or capture his foes.
  • Green Lantern: This is a common use of Kyle Rayner's ring. Notably all the Green Lanterns can do this, but since Kyle is the only one of the Earth Lanterns not from a background that involves combat training (he's an artist, not an Air Force member, Marine, or cop), he tends to be the most "hands off". He prefers to just sit back and let his constructs beat up bad guys for him.
  • Spawn can do this, but his demonic powers are Cast from Lifespan, and once it's gone, he's headed back to Hell to lead their army, which he isn't really keen on, so he usually either Fights Like a Normal or uses guns.
  • Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus often fights by standing stock still and letting his mechanical arms flail about against his opponent(s).
  • Supergirl has Nigh-Invulnerability. Much like her male counterpart, she has won fights simply by standing still while human mooks hit her and hurt themselves.
  • Superman:
    • Superman can often leave ordinary mooks in the hospital by doing absolutely nothing when they try to sock him in the jaw.
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: When it is clear that whatever was boosting Spider-Man's strength has stopped, Superman stands still as Spidey punches him and hurts himself.
    • In War World, The Spectre defeats Superman by not doing anything. He stands still while Superman punches him uselessly, and when Superman tries to outrun him, the Spectre teleports in front of him.
    • During Kryptonite Nevermore, a corrupt tycoon and his thugs accost Superman and hurt themselves when they hit him. Meanwhile Superman doesn't even appear to be aware of their presence.
    • "Those Emerald Eyes Are Shining": When a spaceship tries to ram into Brainiac 5, Brainy makes no attempt to dodge it. He merely switches on his force field and stands still as the ship explodes upon impact.
  • X-Men: Magneto almost never does anything physical (aside from frequently moving his hands to direct his powers, which isn't strictly necessary but gives the readers a better idea of what he's doing with his powers), preferring to just stand or hover in place with an amused expression while destroying those around him with random bits of metal.

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores and Boomsticks:
    • Professor Oak doesn't move a muscle while ordering Dragonite to attack Tyrian, not even blinking when the latter goes for his eye before being blocked.
    • When Team RWBY strolls into Po Town they never break stride to deal with Team Skull, merely making the occasional gesture while using their moves and Semblances.
  • Holo-Chronicles: Sora Tokino barely fights herself. Instead, she prefers to sit in one place while her knight spirits do all the physical brawling for her. The only time she ever exerts physical effort is to raise her hand and use her Purity Trait to delete opponents' attacks... or to suddenly Flash Step over to her opponent, pat them on the shoulder, and tell them to stop. Suisei can attest to that latter one quite well.
  • True for Paul in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, since he pretty much just stands his Nigh-Invulnerable self there and lets people break their weapons/tire themselves out trying to hurt him. Given that he's an Actual Pacifist and has Power Incontinence with his Super Strength, he's not going to do anything aggressive, so if his opposition persists, one of the others has to step in to take care of the person. Though he did take the “Senator” down by absorbing the entire energy construct around the man's body, but he basically just stood there and sucked it all in.
    • True for Ringo as well, especially since his telekinesis is fully invisible, his range is measured in miles, and he usually uses his mindsight to see what he wants to grab, so stuff happens and no one has any idea he had anything to do with it.
    • Once in a while John pulls this off, like when he twiddles his fingers and makes everyone around him have to pee. Usually his magic's a lot more obvious and involved, though.
  • Reaching for a Dream: Xanna rarely fights but any time she does, she simply stands in one spot and uses her Reality Warper powers to take care of things for her. Contrast her husband Naruto who, even after ascending to godhood with her, mostly uses his powers to augment his physical abilities.
  • Deku? I think he's some pro...:
    • The overall leader of the Doraggo cartel has an elasticity Quirk that's so ingrained into her fighting style that she keeps instinctively jumping into the air to start bouncing around even after Aizawa erases it.
    • Monoma's fighting strategy is basically this after he copies his opponent's Quirk. When he tries doing this with Tokoyami and Izuku during an inter-class battle session, it fails him both times; the former case is because his Quirk is sentient and the latter case is because in this universe, he has no Quirk to begin with.
    • A large part of Aizawa's teaching is to defy this among his students. When some of the Class 1-A students voice concern over the Quirk assessment test because they feel like it's giving Izuku an unfair disadvantage since he doesn't have a Quirk, Aizawa silences their concerns by pointing out that some of them don't have Quirks that would be helpful for most of the tests involved (such as Hagakure's Invisibility and Mineta's Sticky Balls). He then lectures that while Quirks are helpful and influence one's potential, there are going to be situations where you aren't able to use them and that a major part of being a Pro-Hero is learning how to deal with those situations and get creative in order to get the job done.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Alex does learn some martial arts, but never uses them in combat; they're more of a general fitness benefit and emergency backup. With two hundred pounds of telekinesis that needs no gesture, can be split over multiple targets including herself, and has enough fine control to safely pinch a carotid artery shut, she just doesn't need her fists — except when she's using telekinetically enhanced punches to pretend that she has Super Strength. She does need to point her fingers to fire lightning blasts, though.
  • With This Ring: Paul considers Black Canary's unarmed combat lessons to be outright harmful for a Lantern, since they train the wrong instincts (he participates for the sake of team unity, and even learns enough basics to hold his own against a civilian, but doesn't like it). One of the first things he teaches himself to do is project his constructs from anywhere, not just from the ring, so as to avoid unintentionally limiting himself with gestures, and he struggles to respect any experienced Green Lantern who hasn't done the same.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: One of Thanos's Children, Ebony Maw, possesses such advanced telekinetic powers that he rarely needs to exert himself. In most of his fight scenes he's standing completely relaxed while fighting more physical opponents with his mind. To boot, he's a Soft-Spoken Sadist.
  • Used to terrifying effect in the movie version of Firestarter. In the climax cute little girl Charlie systematically incinerates the evil government agents and scientists that had been experimenting on her after her father is is killed. In playing the scene Drew Barrymore mostly just stands, hands at her sides, as she uses her pyrokinesis to melt bullets in mid-air as she is shot at, causes flames to burn across the ground at fleeing people and sends fireballs hurtling into the Shop's building.
  • In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Movie has a duel between the good and evil wizards. Both of them stand with their arms behind their backs while flying swords fly into one another repeatedly. It's much less interesting to watch than you might think.
  • The Raven (1963) includes one of the finest Wizard Duels ever put on film. Neither magician even gets up from his chair.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren's freezing blaster bolt in the air is a typical example. While he makes some effort to stop the bolt, he then interrogates Poe and continues giving orders to stormtroopers while the bolt is still hanging in the air with him paying no attention to the bolt whatsoever. The bolt hangs there until he leaves the stage.
    • The Last Jedi: Supreme Leader Snoke's combat style seems to consist entirely of telekinesis and the occasional bit of Force Lightning. He doesn't need much else, however: when Rey comes face-to-face with him, he telekinetically throws her around the room without leaving his chair or even making any sort of Magical Gesture.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand has a scene where Jean Grey/Phoenix strolls across the battlefield, and anyone that gets near her is instantly obliterated. As in separated molecule by molecule.
  • In Venom (2018), Eddie's fight against the mook squad that broke into his house to retrieve Venom is mostly Venom doing the fighting while Eddie gets dragged around with absolutely no idea what's going on.

  • The Belgariad: When training Garion, Belgarath insists that gestures aren't necessary to using sorcery, just "focus the will and speak the word", and generally that's true. In high stress occasions, Belgarath still succumbs to a gesture or two, presumably as a concentration aid.
  • Cradle Series: The sacred arts are Supernatural Martial Arts, so usually they require plenty of body movements. However, higher-level sacred artists can cow lesser ones simply by unveiling their cores and letting their raw power suppress everyone.
  • Dresden Files: Any sufficiently powerful practitioner can do this. Also the basic premise of a willpower duel, in which two beings engage in a telekinetic struggle to move a lump of mordite, which kills anything it touches. Another major example would be when Ivy duels six Denarians at once despite being a teenage girl. She loses, but only after they pump the room full of knockout gas
  • The Heroes of Olympus: Percy does this after he snaps and delves deep to access even more power while torturing a minor goddess. It serves to highlight the fact that something has gone terribly wrong, contrasting his usual Full-Contact Magic tactics.
  • Night Huntress: Mencheres, with his staggeringly powerful telekinetic ability, and Marie Laveau, with her power to summon deadly Remnants.
  • The Wheel of Time: Taken to its Logical Extreme with one high-powered Wizard Duel where Nynaeve realizes that, because she and her opponent are countering each other's spells before they can manifest, a Muggle observer would only see them Death Glaring each other from across the room. Defied by Rand, who keeps in peak fighting condition on top of his phenomenal supernatural power.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Space Wolves' High Rune Priest, Njal Stormcaller, is also known as the Tempest that Walks, because while all Rune Priests have storm-related powers, Njal has a permanent storm centered on himself, its effects random but getting worse every turn, starting with lowering enemy aim and culminating in causing lightning to hit every enemy in range. And that's in addition to his mastery of psychic powers.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Slann mage-priests, in the lore, are almost completely immobile due to being half-asleep and 'fight' purely through the use of their prodigious magic. While their models technically have the ability to attack on tabletop, in most editions this is explained away either as the Slann's bodyguards or a skink attendant on their palanquins taking a pot-shot at the enemy.

  • BIONICLE: Even though they're physically capable of using their weapons, most of the Toa are depicted fighting this way because of their Thou Shalt Not Kill mentality. Making this more odd is that guns firing Abnormal Ammo is seemingly okay, though.

    Video Games 
  • This is how the boss Mildred Avalon in in the original Arcana Heart fight and the sequel's enhanced remake, Parace L'Sia, both fight. Neither makes physical contact of any kind with their attacks. Mildred relies entirely on a collection of special attacks from Arcanas, Parace does the same but also uses a set of magical orbs. Ironically Mildred does use physical attacks when she's acting as support for another boss, her sister Angelia.
  • In Metroid Vania-style Castlevania games, the player almost always eventually receives some sort of ability that gives them Touch of Death. For example, the Wolf/Bat transformations in Symphony or the Black Panther in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. With these equipped at high levels, the player can just run through most enemies and kill them on contact.
  • Urizen, of Devil May Cry 5, spends his boss fights literally lounging in his throne, doing no more than raising a single hand to direct his magical onslaughts while a floating spiky crystal defends him from all attacks. Well, at least until Nero manages to break through the shield and land a scratch, at which point he stands up, heals the scratch, restores the shield, and proceeds to absolutely wipe the floor with the hapless player. He actively fights in all boss fights from this point on.
  • Disgaea has the Optional Boss Baal. All of his attacks consist of creating giant swords and dropping them on the the player, or summoning them out of the ground. At best he makes a slight gesture when doing it.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is the forte of a Conjuration expert. Summon a few monsters, sit back, and let them kill your foes.
  • You can also summon various creatures to fight for you in Fate. The periods during which they can stay are limited and the opposition can often zilch them, so you may have to keep re-casting the spell. When you get to a certain level on your Charm magic abilities, you can put a spell on members of the opposition to join your side. Cue huge melee fight while you just sit there and watch them beat the crap out of each other.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy has several magic using characters whose attacks largely consist of ranged magic, but the two that fight this trope best are The Cloud of Darkness, Exdeath and Kuja. The Cloud of Darkness doesn't have a weapon for physical attacks, she uses her Combat Tentacles for her physical attacks. Exdeath does carry a sword, but doesn't actually using it in his hands for the few times he uses it, instead controlling it telekentically. Kuja doesn't even use a physical attack of any kind. All of his attacks, even during chase sequences where other magic characters will use a weapon or personally strike their enemy, he uses the magic spheres that he preforms the rest of his attacks with.
  • In Jump Force this is the case with the fighting styles of the representatives from the Yu-Gi-Oh! and Jojos Bizarre Adventure franchises: Yugi and Kaiba "fight" by summoning monsters and spells from their duel decks, while Jotaro, DIO and Giorno use their Stands.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Lorewise, this is true in the first game, as Captain Hook explains during an Omniscient Council of Vagueness interlude. The Keyblade is doing most of the work and Sora is just driving it, which is part of the reason Riku was able to steal the Keyblade in Hollow Bastion. This plot point isn't revisited in future games, presumably because Sora has grown stronger and it's not true anymore.
    • Sora's Final Form in Kingdom Hearts II is a gameplay example. While he can jump and glide all over the place (Final Form is actually the most mobile form) he never touches the Keyblades as they float around butchering everything within his now vastly inflated striking range. In fact, the Keyblades automatically initiate attacks while doing things like using an item, healing, or doing anything other than standing perfectly still, so you could feasibly kill hordes of enemies without ever touching the attack button. It even gets A Taste of Power during Roxas's boss fight in the Updated Re-release. At some points, Sora can gain control of Roxas's Keyblades and have them float around him in a glowy spectral state. The Oathkeeper and Oblivion attack independently to enhance Sora's combos with some of Final Form's attacks and even do a Criss-Cross Attack when Sora lands a combo finisher.
    • The original game's Big Bad, Ansem Seeker of Darkness/Xehanort's Heartless, primarily fights this way — his Guardian Entity does all the attacking while he hovers with his arms folded. The only time he does much attacking himself is in the final phase fight with him where he uses a double-bladed Soul Eater to fight. He continues to do this in later appearances and when he doesn't have the Guardian with him, he still prefers to unleash his dark magic and let it blast away on its own while he hangs back.
  • While Goenitz isn't above attacking physically, he has plenty of attacks that involve him simply moving his arms or snapping his fingers to use his wind powers, including a few of his melee attacks.
  • The Spark, Needle, and Freeze abilities in Kirby. They surround the titular protagonist with a defensive barrier blocking all attacks as well as doing damage.
  • The final boss of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords doesn't fight you directly at first — because she Force-levitates three lightsabers to attack you simultaneously from all sides. It's only after you destroy them that she goes after your personally. Of course, simply sidestepping them and attacking her directly makes the fight hilariously easy.
  • Syndra in League of Legends can cast spells while moving (hovering) and attacking. You can fling all sorts of spells (and their own minions) at your opponent's face without allowing the fight to distract you from merrily farming minions.
  • The Unbreakable Darkness from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, whose entire fighting style revolves around her ethereal Soul Wings doing the fighting for her, which is a bit of a problem since she couldn't control them and it doesn't differentiate between friend or foe, leading to them slashing, stabbing, crushing, and blasting anyone and anything within the vicinity. She still fights in this manner after Lord Dearche successfully puts a Power Limiter on her by the end of the game, except she could direct her powers now.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
    • Dormammu doesn't really "attack" so much as he casts a variety of spells. Some of them border on Full-Contact Magic due to the way he slashes or moves his hands, but for the most part, he merely gestures or points to make things happen. This is especially the case for his Stalking Flare super — once it's been summoned, it follows the opponent wherever they go and Dormammu doesn't have to do a thing.
    • Phoenix Wright is a weird example, as he doesn't "attack" at all. Phoenix's damage-dealing moves are all normal actions, clumsy slip-ups, or normal everyday objects that he tosses away. His partner, Maya, even comes out to help by using her Psychic Powers to protect or fight off the opponent. Phoenix himself, however, doesn't really do anything.
    • As stated in the comics entry above, MODOK doesn't do anything except sit in his chair and press buttons or use psychic abilities.
  • Mass Effect: in the later stages of the second and third games, on lower difficulties, it's quite possible for Adept, Engineer or Sentinel Shepard to wipe out entire rooms' worth of enemies by hiding behind something and hurling Overload, Warp, Shockwave and/or Incinerate at them, without actually needing to fire a shot or lob a grenade.
    • In fact, the development team specifically said this is Engineer Shepard's forte, demonstrated with the ability to summon combat drones, and hack hostile A.I.s to force them to fight on his/her side. When either of these powers are fully maxxed, Shepard can sit behind cover while his or her enemies get obliterated.
    • Geth Juggernauts and Primes also have access to combat drones and turrets. Cerberus Combat Engineers can lay down sentry turrets, and the Collectors have Seeker Swarms and Seeker Plagues which hunt down the enemy and shut down their powers while dealing moderate damage.
  • The Leaf Shield power-up from Mega Man 2. The downside is, if you move, the shield goes away.
  • Reflecting the Naruto example above, Gaara in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and onwards battles in this way too: His attack strings show him just standing in one place, arms crossed, watching as his sand whacks his opponents further and further away. Sometimes, he will lift an arm for one of the stronger moves in the combo. Sometimes, he won't.
  • The final boss of Skullgirls never attacks the player with her own hands, instead floating above the battlefield and sending forth her undead minions with gestures and commands.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
    • Having the Fire Shield allows Sonic to enter his "waiting" animation, while also withstanding any form of lava or fire, contact which would normally result in instant death. You can even, hilariously, stand on lava.
      • A more direct example involving the Fire Shield comes from the very first boss fight, against Fire Breath. Having the Fire Shield equipped, standing underneath where the boss will come down and continually charging a Spin Dash will result in the boss essentially destroying itself.
    • As Super Sonic, Badniks automatically pop when they make contact.
    • Super Tails has four Super Flickies circling his head, which will automatically attack enemies and bosses. Boss fights with Super Tails can essentially be won by just standing there and letting the Flickies do all the work.
  • Terraria:
    • Kind of the entire point of Summoning weapons.
    • The Star Cloak causes stars to fall out of the sky and injure anything that harms you. If used against weak enough enemies, the Cloak can easily take them out with no involvement from the player.
    • The Turtle Armor will reflect any melee damage done to the player back to the source using the target's defense instead of the player's (which is usually much higher). Relying on this to kill things can take a while, though, and if you're getting hit by anything strong enough, you'll still take hefty damage in the process.
  • Hilda from Under Night In-Birth only has one physical attack in her moveset — a short shin kicks. All the rest of her abilities are hand gestures and poses that conjure blades of darkness out of thin air at people. And these can be massive, and appear from any side of the screen. Even her crouching animation has her recline of a sphere of darkness.
  • War Frame: If the Warframe called Ember ever goes up against Infected, all it has to do is activate one of its many fire powers. The Infection use nothing but melee and turn into a crisp before they can get close enough to do anything.
    • The Warframe Protea can effectively fight entirely with her powers.. Her Grenade Fan either fans grenades across the battlefield or heavily boosts her shields. Her Blaze Artillery turret will melt anything in an 130 degree arc in front of it. And her Dispensary throws out many health and energy orbs to keep her and squadmates alive and juiced up. For anything below Steel Path levels, actually using an equipped weapon is mostly optional for Protea.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • The God of High School's Taek Jaegal is a downplayed example. While he seems to prefer starting the fight using solely his Borrowed Power (and this is often more than enough to end the fight), he is both willing and capable of going full Kung-Fu Wizard when it's tactically sound to do so.
  • Nebula: After their arrival, Ceres simply stands around calmly in the middle of the crowd without moving. The planets are incapacitated by so much pain from whatever it is Ceres/Black Hole's powers are doing to them that Ceres is in no danger from anyone but Sun.
  • In Plume, Black Magic-animated Azeel has so much raw power, he stands motionless during his entire fight with the heroes and yet curbstomps them without much effort.
  • unOrdinary: While most "abilities" work as augmentations that require or can help a character in a physical fight some of the strongest characters mostly fight by gesturing a bit without bothering to move, while curbstomping the competition. Arlo's barriers are an example, and even if someone gets a hit in when he's not expecting it he doesn't need to do anything to defend as his passive ability gives his skin a protective barrier.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation has SCP-4335, a Minecraft anomaly hell-bent on destroying creation. It has a number of shadowy tendrils sprouting from it that automatically attack and destroy any blocks or items within a 5-block distance, consuming it and causing SCP-4335 to grow bigger and stronger after doing so. This trope actually becomes its weakness as it's immobilized and cannot grow when busy consuming an item, and the SCP Foundation keeps it contained by continuously feeding it items from a mob farm to ensure its tentacles' auto-attacking behaviour keeps it in a constant state of immobile consumption.

    Western Animation 
  • Partially inverted in a very interesting fashion by one of the basic premises of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra: To bend the four elements, one typically executes martial arts techniques (based on various real world arts) which produces the movements.
    • However, the series has at various times given contextual but non-explicit indications that the movements merely help to channel the intention and connection to the elements, but they are not necesarily essential. The evidence zig zags ever so slightly, but in a fashion that ultimately ends up pretty internally consistent:
      • For starters, many benders of a given element, but from slightly different subcultures of a given nation, use slightly different movements to produce similar effects.
      • However, Katara and Aang's rapid sudden progression from the scroll containing waterbending forms that they procure in Book One demonstrates that some forms do certainly seem to help create certain effects.
      • But on the opposite end of the spectrum is Ming-Hua, who, despite the lack of arms, is capable of executing some of the most subtle and powerful use of the element seen in either series. The combustion benders merely tense up/flex powerfully before projecting explosions out along a trajectory emanating from a Third Eye tattoo on their forehead. Dozens of other shorter examples (Toph stomping her foot and creating and intricate scale city out of sand in an instant; Katara merely breathing out to liquefy the ice around her that she just used to freeze herself and Azula in place; Iroh's deep, meditative breath during Sozin's Comet creating a flaring ring around the White Lotus) make it clear that whatever strength certain forms may give for certain effects, the rules are not absolute.
      • There are also numerous examples of character being able to bend an element and able to master the forms who nevertheless, because of inherent personal temperament or as yet unmet Character Development and personal growth, cannot produce a particular effect with their element, even though they have mastered the moves, because they are just not capable of reaching the right mental state.
    • However, this trope is played somewhat straight on a couple of occasions when someone unwisely pushes an Avatar to their Rage-Breaking Point; in the avatar state, Aang was capable of hovering largely motionless and command the elements in intricate patterns and in massive amounts with very minimalist movements. However, Korra remains a very "active" fighter with her movements even while in the avatar state, another nod to how each bender, even an avatar summoning the power and guidance of all their past lives, is different in how they connect to the elements.
    • When Korra meets and faces off against Toph Beifong, the latter demonstrates just how much stronger she's gotten by keeping her arms in the Old Master-style reverse Badass Arm-Fold for most of the fight (including during every Nonchalant Dodge). The whole thing lasts less than a minute, including admonitions, a great Badass Boast, and instructions to try again.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): As Frank bluntly lampshades, Ivy uses her plants to do almost everything for her, including fighting her battles. Eventually averted, as she's shown to be able to fight (dirty), and use a handgun like a pro.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Discord's first appearance had him using his reality warping magic to mess with the Mane Six, with it never really coming to blows. The closest he ever comes to an "attack" is a Badass Finger Snap, which he doesn't even need to do.
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Canaletto may have been chained up beneath the temple of Oban for the last thousand years, but it doesn't mean he's powerless. Over the show's course he conjures lightning storms, mind-wipes Rick Thunderbolt, travels via Astral Projection, banishes the god-like Sul to another dimension, summons giant golems to attack the heroes, and unleashes an energy wave that almost destroys the entire planet Oban. He's miles away from the characters most of the time and mainly just stands around looking creepy.
  • Magic in The Owl House is stated to normally require tracing out a spell circle to work, and while there are other ways to do it (like glyphs, palisman staffs or musical instruments) they all require at least some level of physical imput from the caster. Emperor Belos on the other hand demonstrates the ability to cast high level magic without need for any of that, to the point that the only actual movement he makes during his "fight" with Luz in the season 1 finale is flicking his finger to telekinetically send her flying.
  • Samurai Jack: Demongo The Soul Collector has the power to absorb the essence of great warriors, trapping them within himself and allowing him to control and summon them out at any time. However, since he has this ability, he does very little actual fighting himself, preferring to simply summon his enslaved warriors out again if they are defeated. This ends up biting him pretty hard when Jack figures out a way to free the imprisoned warriors, leaving Demongo completely helpless, having no real fighting skills of his own.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Lapis Lazuli, unlike virtually any other Gem in the series who tends to fight directly, barely moves a muscle while moving and controlling huge amounts of water. And the gestures she does use simply seem to indicate how little effort it actually takes from her. In "Ocean Gem" she even challenges all three of the senior Crystal Gems plus Steven, Connie, Lion, and Greg without being there personally — simply standing on top of a massive water tower while creating clones to fight the Crystal Gems.
    • Blue and Yellow Diamond are so powerful compared to most Gems that using their powers while standing in place is all they need to do in a fight. When they come to Earth to check on the Cluster, Blue just stands in place using her Emotion Bomb and Beam Spam powers, with even the combined skills of Steven, Lapis, Peridot, Bismuth, and the main Crystal Gems only being able to bring her to her knee briefly. Yellow Diamond begins the fight by stomping a (shielded) Steven into the ground, but otherwise uses her One-Hit Kill lightning. Both of them are also enormous, and Yellow is much Faster Than They Look, so it's not like a physical brawl would put the odds against them.


Video Example(s):


Ebony Maw

Unlike the rest of his "siblings", Ebony Maw forgoes weapons and direct combat in favor of using his psychic powers to fight for him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / PowersDoTheFighting

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