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Sheathe Your Sword

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When the best offense is a good defense.

Jason: He's the most lethal video game creature ever! He towers above you with fists like anvils! Skulls litter the ground at his feet! And you're not supposed to even try to take this guy on in a fight??... Wow, talk about counter-intuitive.
Paige: Refresh my memory, you spend how many nanoseconds in the real world each day?

Any type of confrontation where the hero's only way to win is ... to stop trying to defeat their opponent; eventually the enemy will tire himself out (become bored, etc.) and the hero will achieve a victory for their pacifism.

The reasons behind this vary— sometimes the opponent is literally fueled by the hero's aggressive energy (or is a literal figment of the hero's imagination) so putting a stop to their hostility the enemy will literally weaken (and/or cease to exist). Maybe the opponent has an overdeveloped sense of honor and refuses to strike down someone who won't keep their weapon in hand. Or perhaps the confrontation was just a big misunderstanding (Poor Communication Kills, you know), and standing down will buy time for both sides to figure out that they shouldn't even be fighting each other in the first place. (Some Crossover stories are prone to this, with the heroes from each series somehow finding themselves in the others' crosshairs.) Overlaps with Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand, where Luka confronts an aggressive Alice with nonaggression and hopes to win by getting her to stand down too.

Whatever the case, until the hero actually figures this out, they will feel presented with an opponent more formidable than any other; they may as well be fighting a mirror.

When this is applied to Video Games, it tends to mix elements of a Hopeless Boss Fight (because, more often than not, the opponent is made literally invincible to all attacks), a Waiting Puzzle and/or Hold the Line objective (because if the party dies, it's still Game Over). Hopefully the player will be given some hint that this is the goal (perhaps via advice from a Spirit Advisor) so that they don't have to expend their entire stock of healing magic/items trying to beat an impossible enemy. Also note that depending on whether the game proceeds in real-time or in turns, sometimes simply waiting is not enough, and the player needs to take some kind of non-hostile action (e.g. the Defend Command) to make time pass. (In fact, for some games this is the only time the Defend Command is of any practical use.)

Compare Puzzle Boss (where you're not necessarily fighting the boss, but still need to take action to defeat it, perhaps indirectly), Boss-Altering Consequence (where non-violence isn't the only answer, but may be an option to beating the boss), Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay, Victory by Endurance and Why Isn't It Attacking?. Contrast Violence is the Only Option. See also Failure Gambit, where this path is the only way to prevent the gambit's success. Not to be confused with sheathing your weapon for tactical purposes. It may be a Secret Test of Character. Might result from a Powering Villain Realization.

Sub-Trope of No-Harm Requirement as well as being its Logical Extreme. With this trope, the matter of having to avoid violence and causing harm isn't just an issue of desire or mandate— the characters have to avoid violence to have any hope of success at all.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne, dragons are empathic and respond to human (or possibly just Draconian) emotions. Come at them all aggressive-like and they'll tear you a new one (unless you're just badass enough to take them on). Throw down your sword and make with the peacefulness, and they'll get bored and wander off.
  • Used in the Brave Story movie during the climactic battle against their respective doppelgangers. The hero Wataru ends up winning the fight by accepting that his shadow is a part of himself, all the parts of himself that he was afraid to acknowledge. The anti-hero Mitsuru wins the fight by stabbing his shadow through the chest... and dies of a self-inflicted stab wound.
  • Naruto: The titular character did the same thing against his inner darkness, and even acknowledges that it actually helped him in some points of his life.
  • Fairy Tail has this during the S Class trial arc. Natsu has to fight Gildarts in order to advance. After putting up a good fight, Gildarts says that Natsu is just missing one critical element to pass... and then he stops holding back his power. Natsu is so scared that he falls to his knees and admits defeat, which is exactly what Gildarts was hoping for.
  • Mysterious Girlfriend X: Best option to use against panty scissors, unless you have your own special attack.
  • In Bleach Ichigo enters some last-minute training with Zangetsu before his final battle with Aizen. Zangetsu explains that he won't simply tell Ichigo the ultimate technique of his power and proceeds to fight him. After a bit of swordplay that doesn't seem to go anywhere, Ichigo figures out he won't learn the secret by pure force by fighting, but rather by letting Zangetsu stab him. This is exactly what the spirit wanted and gives Ichigo his power for the final confrontation. To be noted is how Zangetsu's second purpose was to get Ichigo to accept his Superpowered Evil Side as part of him.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin has to fight one of Shishio's Elite Mooks in front of his archenemy. Not wanting to reveal any of his techniques, he wins the battle... by running away from him until the guy breaks his leg from chasing after him. But it's then subverted when Kenshin is forced to reveal one of his techniques to save the mook himself from Shishio.
  • In Umi Monogatari, the Big Bad, Sedna, is a force of darkness that has corrupted the island and will consume both land and sea. Marin and Kanon are told throughout the series that they must seal her away with the Spear of Light, and not hesitate to defeat Sedna even if it means attacking their friends. However, when they find out that Sedna is really the islanders' combined sorrow, they accept the darkness within their hearts and deal with it rather than throwing it away.
  • In Kill la Kill, Ryuko attempts this against Gamagoori, who gets stronger when struck, but it fails because he simply whips himself to get the strength he needs, and she's forced to find another way to beat him.
    • Another example in a previous episode when Mako's family is given better living conditions when Ryuko and her try to play by the Academy's rules by starting their own club. However, the richer lifestyle changes the family for the worst which Ryuko notices and quits the club. Satsuki gives Mako a two-star Goku uniform and has her fight Ryuko if she wants to keep her lifestyle. After a bit of fighting, Ryuko purposely de-powers, refusing to fight further and just lets Mako wail on her. This goes on till sunset till it looks like Mako is going to finish her. Mako stops short of the final blow and realizes her greed, calling out her own family for not trying to stop her. This of course was Ryuko's plan all along to get her to come to her senses.
  • Done in the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds manga when Yusei takes a test to gain the Stardust Spark Dragon. He starts out by riding at it full force to attack it head-on. But then remembers some earlier advice Akiza had told him and quickly snaps out of it. He then notices that the Stardust Spark Dragon is crying and sees through its memories of previous duelers who attempted to acquire it, making the mistake he nearly did. Yusei then drops his speed and lets the Stardust Spark Dragon attack him. Which allows him to be seen as worthy of wielding it and gain its card.
  • Played with in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL in Yuma and Nash's face-off: the Barian activated a card to decide the duel's outcome in a one-on-one battle between their ace monsters. Both duelists went on the offensive, only for Yuma to stop halfway and cancel his attack. Nash thought his former friend had a combo in mind, but Yuma merely didn't want to lose his friend. Unknowingly to him, had he resumed his attack, he'd have lost the duel, and his noble gesture won him the game due to a loophole.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Touma does this to Mikoto to stop her from going to her death fighting Accelerator to stop the Level 6 Shift experiment involving her clones. Unlike all the previous "battles" they had, he refuses to use his Imagine Breaker to cancel her electric attacks and instead takes them dead-on, refusing to fight back even as Mikoto screams at him to or get out of her way. This ends up shattering Mikoto's will to go through with her plan and she collapses in a crying heap, and after comforting her it gives him a chance to settle things with Accelerator that ensures no one else has to die.
  • In Megalo Box, one of the opponents Joe faces is Mikio, whose Gear uses Artificial Intelligence to analyze his opponent's behavior and counter them. After several brutally difficult rounds, Joe realizes this Gear's weakness: if he doesn't do anything, the A.I. won't have any data to react to, and Mikio is not a very good boxer without his Gear guiding his moves, meaning that standing still for several rounds completely neuters his only real strength.

    Card Games 
  • Many card games, including Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!, list running out of cards to draw as a lose condition. This has led to the "Deck out" style of play (also known as "milling"), where you remove cards from their deck, sometimes by making them draw, and do nothing else but defend against attacks. The downside to this is, of course, giving your opponent immense resources and possibly allowing him to pull off a powerful combo. A notable example from Yu-Gi-Oh! is Kaiba using Crush Card and others to dump most of Ishizu's Deck in her Graveyard— which she then turns back on him with a card that switches the Deck with the Graveyard.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In Superman and Spider-Man, Kal-El defeated the Hulk by allowing him to whale on his indestructible body until the Hulk wore himself out and reverted back to Banner. Doubly so, he also spotted and destroyed a microscopic irritant that was keeping the Hulk enraged.
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: Once he realized that he likely would have killed Spidey if he had hit him, he just let Spidey punch him until Spidey realized it was pointless and gave up. (Then they finally realized they were on the same side, and joined forces against Lex Luthor and Doc Ock.)
    • In Superman Family #194, Supergirl fights a villain equipped with a device that absorbs hate and transforms it into strength. In order to beat him, Supergirl uses self-hypnosis to remain relaxed and motionless. Without hate to power his engine up, the villain loses his strength and is defeated.
    • In The Jungle Line, Superman has been infected with Bloodmorel spores, which cause, among other nasty effects, hallucinations and high fever. Superman fights his hallucinations furiously, unaware that the strain is increasing his fever and thus killing him until Swamp Thing convinces him that the only way to beat the Bloodmorel's illness is to not fight it. Superman starts calming down and relaxing, and his fever comes quickly down.
    • "Brainiac Rebirth": When Brainiac activates a tractor beam to drag Superman into his ship, the latter initially but futilely tries to resist its pull; however, Superman realizes that tractor beam is so powerful because Brainiac has diverted his ship's full power in it, at the cost of lowering his force-shields. Superman then stops resisting the tractor beam's pull, turns around and speeds down to try to break through the hull's ship. Brainiac hurriedly turns his tractor beam off and raises his shields back again.
    • DC Retroactive Superman: In "The '70s" issue, Superman is being besieged by phantom enemies, created by his subconscious after Mxyztlk messed up with his powers. When Superman figures out that the apparitions are subconsciously triggered by his stress, he does meditation exercises to calm down and starts ignoring his visions, which causes them to vanish entirely.
    • In All-Star Superman, one of the great labors that Superman completed before his death is confronting the Ultra-Sphinx and answering his riddle in order to save Lois's life. Not even the legendary Hercules or Samson could answer the riddle or defeat the Ultra-Sphinx, so they had to trick it into coming back in time and facing Superman, in the hopes that he could defeat it. The riddle is "What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?"
      Superman: (kneeling) They surrender.
  • Scott Pilgrim: The way the protagonist deals with The Negascott.
  • Justice League of America:
    • One incarnation of Justice League of America villain Amazo could adjust to duplicate the powers and abilities of any incarnation of the Justice League, so the more reserves they call in the more powerful he becomes. The Atom realized that this Amazo was a "one-man-Justice-League" on a conceptual level, and therefore the JLA chairman, Superman, had the one power that could defeat him; the power to disband the JLA. The android was promptly Brought Down to Normal.
    • Another fight with Amazo's "son" (this was well after the above flaw was the subject of an Obvious Rule Patch) realized that this Amazo could tap into their minds and use the tactics one leaguer would use to counter the other. Realizing this, Batman instead started hurling insults at Superman, which snowballed into the league bickering with each other. Of course, since this Amazo had the personality of all the league and could get in tune with them, it resulted in him fighting himself until he self-destructed. It worked, but it was implied that it did more damage to the League in other ways.
  • As one of his trials to become Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange had to meet Death in combat. After doing everything he could to fight or escape Death, he resigned himself to defeat and surrendered entirely to it — becoming immortal.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy (the classic series), Starhawk once fought an enemy called Tachyon, who could anticipate and counter all Starhawk's attacks. Realizing that all Tachyon's moves were reactive, Starhawk simply stopped fighting and stood floating. Tachyon did the same.
  • One Fantastic Four story had Maximus the Mad attacking the Inhumans with a robot that fed off of the aggression between the Inhumans and the Alpha Primitives. By stopping the fight, the robot shut down.
  • This has been used both by and against Midnighter, whose ability to analyze a person's fighting abilities borders on Combat Clairvoyance.
    • In one miniseries, he challenged a normal human being to a fight, despite the guy's protestations that he'd be absolutely destroyed. However, his opponent refused to make the first move, frustrating Midnighter's combat analysis and resulting in a draw, of sorts. Might be a partial example, as the guy was secretly an android sent to disrupt the team from the inside, so Midnighter might not have been able to analyze him properly.
    • In one of his solo books, Midnighter faced Epimetheus, a supervillain with actual Combat Clairvoyance, who proceeded to wipe the floor with him. No matter what Midnighter's enhancements told him to do, Epimetheus would simply see and counter using his ability to see the future. Midnighter beat him in their second battle by allowing the guy to wail on him until Epimetheus was exhausted, then revealing that he'd beefed up his armor and simply allowed Epimetheus to hit him until he couldn't throw a punch any more. Then Midnighter kicked the crap out of him.
  • Swordquest: In Earthworld, the protagonists learn that battles aren't always won by violence.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In the Sonic In Your Face Special, the first story has Sonic and the Freedom Fighters being attacked by a giant robot cyclops. When he learns that the robot is designed to attack anything that moves, Sonic decides to stand perfectly still and has the others do likewise. Sure enough, the robot shuts down after a few minutes.
    • In Sonic the Comic, at one point, Sonic faces Predicto, a Badnik programmed with all the information Robotnik had on Sonic, Knuckles, and the Freedom Fighters, allowing him to predict their every move. When brute force doesn't work, Sonic declares he can't win and gives up; as Robotnik had designed it under the knowledge that Sonic would never surrender, Predicto suffers a Logic Bomb... which is exactly what Sonic expected to happen.
  • The Shadow Hero has a variation on this trope: The Big Bad Ten Grand is empowered by an ancient Chinese god who has promised him that all his fights will end with his victory. So The Hero Hank Chu surrenders. Since the fight is technically over, Ten Grand can no longer harm Hank.
  • In one of the rororotfuchs book backcover comics, the fox "battles" (a slightly out-of-character) Superman who boasts he will win against anyone. He lists up all his superpowers but the fox repeats "Not against me". Finally, Superman desperately asks "How?". The fox refers to this trope and just walks away with his buddies, leaving a dumbfounded Superman.
  • In a What If? story of Paperinik New Adventures Paperinik and the US Army were confronted by the newest breed of Evronian Super Soldiers, who were strong enough to tear tanks apart, tough enough that nothing less than heavy ordnance could kill them, fast enough to dodge that, and had an accelerated version of the Evronian Emotion Eater metabolism that allowed them to feed on the hate and fear of those who opposed them. Due the first one to appear having bragged about them having been based on Angus Fangus (a journalist with an uncanny talent for spotting the worst in people), Paperinik was able to realize the last part and got the soldiers to simply stand down, resulting in the Evronian super soldiers instantly starving and dying.

    Comic Strips 
  • Referenced in a FoxTrot strip. Jason, frustrated that he'd tried everything he could think of to beat a boss, leaves the room for a minute. When he returns, he finds out that his sister Paige "beat" the boss... by simply walking past it. Their mother tells Jason that the message is obviously "Discretion is the better part of valor", but he's too upset to care.

    Fan Works 
  • In This Bites!, Cross explains to Nami exactly how Luffy and Zoro won by letting Bellamy beat them up: a bunch of nobodies were doing all they could to rile Luffy up and get him to react, to etch themselves into his memory for all eternity... and failed miserably.
  • Offscreen in Baby Boom, the White Rabbit learns that in a prior timeline, after establishing that Hawkmoth had learned all their identities, the Miraculous holders gave all of their Miraculous back to the Guardian, who took them away from Paris, and then they publicly confronted Hawkmoth to let him know that the Ladybug and Black Cat were gone. It worked; he sent a few minor akumas to probe their defences, but getting no reaction, he didn't take it any further. Unfortunately, it turned out that there were bigger threats to come than Hawkmoth, and without the Miraculous, humanity was vulnerable to them.
  • This is pretty much how Paul wins... er, ends battles in The Keys Stand Alone. Since he's both an Actual Pacifist and invulnerable, he just stands there or walks along and lets people pound on him until they give up, get distracted, or get captured by one of the others.
  • Utilized in the final battle of Angel of the Bat: Times of Heresy. In order to defuse the tyke bomb that is the Odmience after the two were matched blow to blow, Cassandra disarms him of his sword and refuses to defend herself against the fist-fight that follows. Brutalizing an opponent who has shown him mercy proves to be too much for the Odmience and destroys his resolve to finish her off.
  • The Slayer in another world (Doomslayer gets isekai'd): Doomslayer gets challenged to a duel by the female knight Luna Ford Dustiness. He accepts, but since he refuses to harm humans, he just stands there and blocks her sword swings as she gets more and more frustrated and swings harder and faster. His armor and wristblade are made of tougher stuff than her sword, so her sword eventually breaks in half just as she passes out from exhaustion.
  • In one Vow of Nudity story, Haara finds herself being attacked by an increasingly large posse of local wildlife all inexplicably working together to kill her. It isn't until she realizes they're being commanded by a selkie and drops her spear that they pause, to give her a chance to explain herself for recently killing a boar.

    Films — Animated 
  • Moana: Maui attempts to hold off the lava demon Te Ka so Moana can get the Heart of Te Fiti to where it needs to be, but Te Ka's fire destroys his magical fish hook, leaving him powerless. When Moana sees the spiral on Te Ka's chest, she realizes Te Ka is Te Fiti. Te Ka only stops raging when she sees Moana hold up her heart, and allows the girl to approach her and give back what is rightfully hers.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: The only way to safely pass through the Pocket full of Posies is to simply sniff the flowers whenever they get too close. They will attack only if they are attacked first. Perrito quickly figures this out and instructs Puss and Kitty to sniff the flowers with him, allowing them to pass through without trouble. When Jack Horner and the Baker's Dozen try to get through by brute force, many of Jack's henchmen are killed by the flowers and Jack is only able to get through by burning the flowers. The flowers still hold them off long enough for the trio to get through two-thirds of the journey.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in the movie version of Prince Caspian, when Caspian, after seeing an entire squadron of Telmarine assassins downed by something underfoot, is himself tripped and set upon by the unseen assailant... Reepicheep the Mouse. Reepicheep orders Caspian to retrieve his sword and face him in honorable combat, as he refuses to kill an unarmed man. Caspian's reply: "Then I'll live longer if I don't." Reepicheep doesn't have infinite patience, though, so this tactic doesn't last Caspian forever.
  • In Labyrinth Sarah and company are confronted by Sir Didymus, who declares that no one may cross his bridge without his permission. While one of them manages to cross during the ensuing kerfuffle, Sarah deduces the proper way to deal with Sir Didymus before permanent harm comes to anyone: ask his permission.
  • Joshua's lesson in WarGames. To elaborate: Joshua/WOPR is a Supercomputer in charge of NATO's nuclear arsenal. He was hacked and tricked into playing Global Thermonuclear War by the teenage hero David, with David playing the role of the USSR. So Joshua ends up going all out and as the movie progresses, he works at starting this war and winning. In the end, David, with the help of Joshua's creator, gets Joshua to play Tic-Tac-Toe against himself. Since Joshua plays to win, every move is the optimal move, resulting in a tie game. Joshua goes through every permutation of the game and then correlates this to Global Thermonuclear War, realizing if everyone everywhere launches all the nukes, there will be no survivors and thus no winners. This leads to Joshua's conclusion, "the only winning move is not to play."
  • At the end of The Matrix Trilogy, Neo defeats Smith by allowing himself to be assimilated, thus providing the Source with a direct line into its rebellious ex-servant.
  • In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, LJ is confronted by Nemesis. LJ drops his weapons and puts his hands up. Nemesis' HUD designates him a non-combatant and leaves.
  • When Duncan has The Guardian at his mercy in Highlander: The Source, he insists that Duncan behead him and take his place. Duncan refuses and goes to claim the prize. This makes The Guardian explode.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Empire Strikes Back: The Dark Side Cave on Dagobah. Luke was not supposed to meet the apparition of Darth Vader with a lightsaber. He did anyway, failed the test, and saw his own face in Vader's helmet as a warning.
    • At the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, after nearly killing Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker realizes that his aggression is turning him to the dark side, and throws his lightsaber away.
  • Hulk Hogan's movie Suburban Commando had a situation like this. Early in the story, an old veteran tells the protagonist about a soldier he knew who did something like this to save his buddies during a war, saying, "Sometimes you have to lose in order to win." At the climax of the movie, where the villain is holding his friends hostage and demanding he show himself, he decides that it's sound advice, and does the same thing. (Fortunately, one of them decides to return the favor.)
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America's final battle with the titular antagonist ends this way. The fight starts out brutal, but after Steve completes his objective of stopping the three Helicarriers, he drops his iconic shield into the Potomac below and repeats something his best friend Bucky told him years ago. It's fitting too because the Winter Soldier is Bucky. In any case, the Soldier beats the Captain but eventually empathizes enough to stop and rescue the captain from the collapsing airship.

  • Played straight more often than not in the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Even if you're armed, trying to take most threats head-on tends to end pretty badly for you. Justified in that "you" are usually a pre-teen kid in the stories, while the things that want to kill you, well, aren't.
  • In the Gamebook series World of Lone Wolf book 4, Beyond the Nightmare Gate, the Chaos Master sends against the hero Grey Star his evil doppelganger; both seek the Moonstone, and he attacks you when you finally find it. If you win the fight, you die, but if you don't fight, or if you lose the fight, he dies and you win.
  • In Gary Gygax's Sagard the Barbarian series, there's two instances in Sagard's life where a pretty woman will try to goad him into fighting another man. While you do get a little experience if you beat him, the woman will quickly take the loser's side. If you ignore the woman, you get more experience as Sagard realizes that any woman who tries to get a man to fight for her amusement is scum.
  • In Games Workshop's Herald of Oblivion, your Terminator will have an encounter with a Chaos Dreadnought. You can fight him and kill him at surprisingly good odds..and this will doom you as you'll eventually take on a large battle force of Dark Eldar who'll overwhelm you and take you back for slavery and an eventual agonizing death. But if you instead flee the Chaos Dreadnought, when the Dark Eldar attack you - the frenzied Dreadnought will finally catch up to you and ends up stuck in a pitched battle with the Dark Eldar, allowing the Terminator to escape with his life.

  • In the RPG-inspired book, manga, and movie Brave Story, the hero, Wataru, gets thrown into a Mirror Boss with a shadowy version of himself. He and it proceed to beat each other up, with neither side truly winning, until Wataru realizes that he can't fight it. It's made up of all his fear, anger, hatred, and sorrow — his negative emotions. And no matter what he does, all his negative emotions will always be part of him. Instead, he accepts it, and he comfortably takes it back into himself. Mitsuru isn't so lucky...
  • In the game-within-a-story of Ender's Game, Ender consistently reaches a tower in the game, crushes a snake that tries to kill him, and gets himself killed trying to proceed. Fed up, he eventually picks the snake up and tries to get it to bite him—but he screws up the control input and accidentally kisses it. It turns into his sister because the Rule of Symbolism is weird like that.
  • In John Scalzi's The Android's Dream, two Virtual Ghosts argue over the proper way to deal with a situation, and the more experienced one proposes to make her point with a simulation of the battle in which the less experienced one originally died. She'll take control of the enemy forces, he'll control the forces he fought in, and his job is to keep it from becoming a bloodbath like it did in real life. His forces are too badly outgunned to ever win, so in the final iteration, he surrenders at the first sight of the enemy, preserving the lives of all his troops.
  • In Witches Brew, one of the champions sent by Lord Rydall, the fake Big Bad of the book, is a knight resembling the Paladin, the champion of Landover. The Paladin fights the knight but finds his opponent can perfectly match him blow for blow. The knight is only defeated when the Paladin sheathes his weapon and disappears, causing his doppelganger to do the same.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle series by Weiss and Hickman, the evil dragons feed on violence and hatred: Haplo and Alfred can't win against them by fighting. They still win, though, by renouncing to fight and letting the place they're in at the moment (which has been cursed to ban any violence) use the dragon's own violence against him.
  • Drizzt does this in The Dark Elf Trilogy when fighting his father's raised corpse. First, he fights him in a manner that brings out his personality, then he sheathes the swords. His father manages to regain control long enough to exchange a few words, and then jump into the conveniently close acid lake.
  • In .hack//AI Buster, a strategy that Orca and Balmung discover to defeat the boss of The One Sin was to stop attacking. The boss, in turn, would stop fighting and simply watch them, giving the two time to formulate a strategy.
  • In the novel 1636: The Saxon Uprising, this is how the USE remains intact when Axel Oxenstierna tries to stage an uprising to seize power. The USE members stay strictly within the bounds of the law, despite enormous temptation to fight, thus preserving the USE.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory, the only way to get out of the spring traps (which are literally coiled springs) was to stop struggling at which point they just break apart.
  • In Space Demons, this turned out to be the way to win the eponymous video game.
  • In Pact, when Alister Behaim, the new head of the Behaim Circle, is facing down Blake Thorburn, who killed his predecessor and has spent the evening killing at least ten other practitioners of various types, he opts for this trope by handing Blake the key to the Bequeathed Power his family has been accumulating for the past several centuries and offering to let Blake destroy it. This stops Blake in his tracks for long enough that Alister is able to convince him that they both have bigger problems to deal with.
  • Maybe (the author merely suggests it) the military is literarily fighting against itself (the enemy is sort of a time mirror?) in the SF story "Traveller's Rest" by David I. Masson. In that case, the trope would apply.
  • In the Star Wars Jedi Academy Trilogy, this trope punctuates Kyp Durron's Heel–Face Turn in a Secret Test of Character: he is confronted in the Jedi Temple by a hooded Force ghost whom he identifies as the Sith who had manipulated him into joining the Dark Side; when he refuses to attack, it reveals itself as the spirit of his brother, whom he had killed by accident, and departs in peace.
  • The Fall of the House of Cabal: Johannes wins the Fountain of Youth from the end of the Five Ways by refusing to shoot the Big Bad, claiming that he might be her nemesis, but she is not his. No such luck for all the soldiers of hers that he killed to reach her.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea uses this at the climax. After Ged, the titular wizard (well, one of them), has summoned up a shade that represents all the darkness in himself, he's forced to chase it across the world in order to destroy it. Ultimately, he does so not by attacking it, but by accepting it as a part of himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who story "Warriors' Gate," the time-sensitive Biroc tells the Doctor to "do nothing" in the face of impending doom. "Of course," the Doctor muses, "if it's the right sort of nothing." Meanwhile, the insane Captain Rorvik's attempts to "get something done" result in that same impending doom.
    • The final episode of the classic series, "Survival" is about The Doctor and Ace refusing to do violence to keep themselves from being transformed into violent cat aliens.
    The Doctor: If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!
  • The plot of Future Man is kicked off by Josh managing to beat the final level of an incredibly difficult game by unequipping all of his gear and simply running all the way to the end goal.
  • Highlander:
    • There's a much-maligned three-episode arc where protagonist Duncan MacLeod is the Chosen One to fight against the evil demon Ahriman. Violence won't work in this battle, and the only way to defeat Ahriman is for Duncan to achieve inner peace.
    • Garrick, an immortal bent on getting revenge on Duncan, tormented Duncan somehow with visions and illusions, then told him he had to lay down his sword to stop it. It was all a ploy to make Duncan an easy kill. Fortunately Duncan wised up just in time to save his neck.
  • The Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "The Vanishing Dead" had Ares defeated this way. At this point in the series, Ares was being portrayed as more of a formless God of Evil who primarily acted through possessing the bodies of the dead and being something of a psychic vampire, feeding off the violence and aggression of others. When Hercules finally fully uncovers Ares' plan to start a war between two kingdoms and confronts him in the body he's possessing, Ares starts slinging magical lightning at Hercules, and no matter how Hercules fights he can't get the better of Ares. When Hercules remembers that Ares draws his power from violence and aggression, however, he stops trying to fight back and gets the soldiers of the two kingdoms to lay down their weapons and refuse to fight. Ares quickly becomes weaker, and finally is no longer even able to continue possessing the body he had been using.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Justice", the crew are aboard a penal space station with a section where it's impossible to commit a crime and anyone who attempts it becomes the victim (for example, the punishment for arson is being set on fire). This works in their favor when an almost-unbeatable droid tries to murder them.
  • Happens sometimes in Star Trek.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "Day of the Dove", an Energy Being induces a Hate Plague between the Federation and Klingon factions on the Enterprise. It's defeated when both sides realize it's there and make peace.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In "Hero Worship", a Negative Space Wedgie that destroyed a science vessel is battering the Enterprise repeatedly. Captain Picard orders more and more power to the shields, but the attacks continue to get worse. When the other ship's only survivor says their captain did the same thing, Data discovers that the anomaly is just reflecting all the energy back at them. The solution is instead to drop the shields, giving it nothing to reflect.
      • In "Peak Performance", Data is pitted in a friendly game with a visiting alien who is a master at this game. He is soundly defeated by the smug alien, unable to match his offense or defense. In a rematch at the end of the episode, Data wins by playing for a tie instead of a victory, rather than trying to gain advantage or take the lead when chances occur, he chooses moves that favor neither player in the long run and promote stalemate. The alien is unable to defeat the android with his limitless patience and storms off in a huff over the maddening strategy.
      • "Gambit" gives us an ancient Vulcan artifact that works like a psychic weapon, amplifying the telepathic abilities of the wielder to instantly kill anyone who even thinks aggressive thoughts. Naturally, it lost its power to destroy the Vulcan people once they found their inner peace through logic and the abandonment of emotion.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In "The House of Quark", the title Ferengi is challenged to a duel to the death by a Klingon named D'Ghor. Fighting would almost certainly get him killed, but refusing would dishonor the Klingon woman he's been trying to help. His solution is to show up, throw his weapon aside, kneel down, and dare the Klingon to murder him in cold blood, without any honor or glory. D'Ghor goes right ahead and tries it, but Chancellor Gowron stops him and, disgusted at such a dishonorable act, discommendates him on the spot. A Moment of Awesome for Quark for sure.
      • In "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places", Quark once again meets his Klingon ex-wife (she divorced him at the end of "The House of Quark" at his request) and is now enamored with her. However, one of her servants is disgusted by a Ferengi putting the moves on his mistress and challenges him to a duel. When asked by Worf what he plans to do, Quark suggests doing the same thing as before. Worf replies that, last time, he was only saved by Gowron. This time, he would get his head cut off. Instead, they have Worf remotely control Quark. After "Quark" wins, he makes as if to finish off the Klingon... only for Worf to force him to step away. Nobody said this particular duel had to be to the death. The female Klingon declares his honor satisfied and fires him.
    • Star Trek: Picard: In season 3, Data and Lore are the two primary personalities inside an android discovered deep within a top-secret facility. The two sides are safely partitioned from each other, but this leads to a dangerous Jekyll & Hyde situation; therefore, the crew takes the risk of lowering the partition in hopes that Data would win. Lore initiates a Battle in the Center of the Mind, but rather than fighting back, Data hands his memories over to Lore one by one like treasured keepsakes, knowing Lore's pride would result in him keeping them as trophies... and that this would result in his evil brother largely becoming him.
  • In the "Absolute Power" episode of Stargate SG-1, Shifu (the Harcesis) and Oma Desala view utilizing the Goa'uld genetic memory this way. In this case, though, it's less "not fighting the bad guy" and more "sealing off the Goa'uld memories in the subconscious since no one can control the evil that comes with using the knowledge."
    Shifu: Oma teaches the evil in my subconscious is too strong to resist and the only way to win is to deny it battle.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), Sam realizes that the only way to frustrate the Yellow-Eyed Demon's plan is to get the Special Children to stop fighting each other and work together. Sam even convinces Jake to put down his weapon after Sam puts down his knife. But this was a Subverted Trope as Jake was not convinced and didn't really need a weapon with his Super-Strength.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Hindu mythology, one of the godly weapons known as the Narayanastra, when invoked, creates a rain of flaming arrows and discs that continuously pelt an enemy until they are destroyed. The more resistance the enemy puts up, the more force the weapon counters it with. The only way to survive it is to surrender to it.
  • Taoism teaches the principle of 無爲 wu wei: doing by not doing.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Upon entering the void during the void expedition in the first game, the players ran into dark versions of themselves that would deal heavy damage when attacked and had huge amounts of health. How to kill them? If they went two turns (not necessarily consecutively) they died. However, two players ended up dying while their allies told them not to attack.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Planescape quest titled The Deva Spark features a battle with a demon who only grows stronger if the players attack it. The only way to win the encounter is to avoid fighting the fiend.
  • A short story in the Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game supplement Tales of the Jedi Companion gives the story of the fall of Freedon Nadd, an extremely powerful and promising Jedi apprentice (and later one of the strongest Sith Lords ever to live). He is passed over for promotion to Jedi Knight when the time comes, despite being the most powerful apprentice of his era. He angrily confronts his master, demanding an explanation. She tells him that if he is truly a Jedi Knight, to prove it, as she ignites her lightsaber. Nadd takes that as a challenge to a duel, and engages her in a massive duel, which she loses, and plunges her former apprentice thoroughly to the dark side, as he failed to realize that the way to prove he was a Jedi was to refuse to respond to the issue with violence.
  • Canonically, this was the way that Morgan Kell truly won his duel with Yorinaga Kurita in BattleTech's history. Because both men were untouchable by conventional means due to pseudomystical abilities they shared, they were in turn the only two who could fight let alone defeat one another, but Morgan had no desire to kill Yorinaga as he understood that killing him would only perpetuate a Cycle of Revenge... so he sat there and tanked Yorinaga's attacks until Yorinaga overheated his 'Mech completely and shut down. Only then did Yorinaga recognize that Morgan had, in fact, defeated him without fighting.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura:
  • Corruption of Laetitia: To pass the first trial in the Forgotten Tower, Celeste must fight a light version of herself in a Duel Boss fight. The only way to win is to guard and heal until Light!Celeste states that the real Celeste passes. Attacking will eventually result in Light!Celeste using a One-Hit Kill skill.
  • Metro 2033: More along the lines of "Hold your fire", in the levels Library, Depository, and Archives, the player is pitted against the Librarians, horrifically ugly ape-like mutants that even on the easiest difficulty have no problem killing the player in just a few hits. Before the player actually comes face-to-face with these beasts, however, an oft-ignored or unheard bit of dialogue from one of Artyom's NPC comrades tells the player "Never let them out of your sight, show them your back, you'll die. If a beast gets nervous, move away, but slowly." These words ring true, if the player is confronted by a Librarian they can stand their ground without firing a shot, and so long as they slowly back away if the Librarian slinks in closer and do not turn to flee, the Librarian is most likely to turn away and disappear into another section of the Library. It is actually possible to get through the entirety of all three levels with this method, and in the higher difficulties (Ranger and Ranger Hardcore) it is almost essential to try this the majority of the time, as Librarians can soak up bullets like they're made of steel, and ammunition is painfully scarce in either of these difficulties.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: The final confrontation requires you to refuse to play the mastermind's game by letting the time limit run out several times and abstaining from voting.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV had Cecil go through this to cast off his dark past and become a Paladin. Considering the message that you got if you attacked ("A true paladin... will sheathe his sword."), this is probably the Trope Namer. The literal reason behind this working becomes a Guide Dang It! moment in the US port of the SNES version. You win because you're fighting yourself, but still as a Dark Knight who keeps using its "Darkness" ability, which damages every unit at the cost of its own HP until it kills itself. However, in the US version you didn't have this when Cecil was still a Dark Knight, so you'd have no idea that he was losing health. Of course, with sufficient Level Grinding, you could get bigger healing potions that could restore all of your health at once, leaving you free to attack. With enough of these, you could whittle down the Dark Knight quite easily. Yes, you can defeat your inner darkness by beating the crap out of it!
    • In the sequel Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, you can try this with Kain, but his dark side is a bit too powerful for it to work, kicking off the main plot thread of the Prologue.
    • The Bonus Dungeon in the GBA remake also features a similar situation for Kain. After a few turns of defending, Dark!Kain turns into Lunar Bahamut, and then you can whale on him.
    • The EU version of the PS1 remake, Final Fantasy Anthology, which holds both FF4 and FF5, has a hint appearing during Cecil's fight, outright saying "A TRUE PALADIN... WOULD SHEATHE HIS SWORD." And Cecil has the Dark-ability in that version too, but since it's highly flawed, most players don't realize that's the way to beat him.
    • Final Fantasy V:
      • The game makes your party "fight" the Mimic by mimicking the Mimic mimicking you — i.e. doing absolutely nothing. He would congratulate you, and yield if you did so for awhile. Of course, there's that Oxygen Meter in the corner to keep an eye on...
      • Gogo can be beaten with proper tactics, but if you waste too much time reaching the boss and escaping, you'll drown — unless you simply use Teleport to escape once you've beaten Gogo. It's still not advised, because 1) Gogo counters all attacks against him, and 2) once you hit him enough, he mocks you for not playing along and becomes one of the most powerful bosses in the game.
      • Like the Whelk and the Guard Scorpion right below, the first boss of Final Fantasy V is the Wing Raptor, which will shield itself every couple of turns, bolstering its defense and countering with the "Claw" attack if it's hit in that state. Good time to make use of those potions or just defend — it's not like there's much else one can do at that point.
    • The first boss you encounter in "Final Fantasy VI" is a snail with a shell that absorbs attacks and counters with a massive jolt that could wipe your party at its low level at that point in the game, so your NPC allies hint for you to hold off attacking while it withdraws into its shell. You CAN actually destroy the shell if you keep yourself healed long enough for it to run out of mana, however, which will reward you with your first ether if you kill it with a looooooot of patience for all the health points you need to whittle down.
    • The Guard Scorpion from Final Fantasy VII has a phase where it raises its tail. Attack during this phase, and it'll immediately counter with a powerful laser that hits the whole party. The only way to avoid it is to just stop attacking and wait for it to return to normal.
    • Final Fantasy IX also has Ozma, a bonus boss that can be defeated this way, by letting your characters counterattack, since inputting actions causes it to have an immediate turn.
    • Final Fantasy Record Keeper, being what it is, also features the Dark Knight with an updated sprite in certain events. Unlike the original fight, he is far more easily beaten with brute force, and Darkness doesn't use his HP to cast, but this is still an option. Cecil will kill himself after twenty turns, and on the Elite difficulty version of the fight, this is the easiest way to beat him.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII Snow's Eidolon, the Shiva sisters, cannot be defeated by attacks. The only way to win being to hold back and tank enough damage to impress them before time runs out and it kills Snow. And this is just the first of the Eidolon fights.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has some boss fights where you have a magicked bomb placed on you and it will explode if you attack or even move. To avoid getting blown up, you sheathe your weapon and stand still until the debuff vanishes.
  • Journey On: In the full corruption route without the Holy Sword, Selena cannot defeat the Avatar of Darkness by herself, since the latter's barrier negates physical damage. However, if she guards enough times, Shirley will break free from the boss, making the boss beatable now that Shirley can break the Avatar's barrier with magic.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, getting the best ending requires that you do nothing, and let Lloyd and Marta defeat you at the end before being able to proceed.
  • In The Darkness, you are required to combat a dark version of yourself, whom you defeat by putting your weapons away.
  • The final boss in the Flash game Inquisitive Dave becomes aware of his "role" as a final boss and becomes stronger for it. Your refusal to fight him robs him of his purpose, and he eventually fades.
  • The final duel in Suikoden II... providing that you have fulfilled a number of other requirements, the Best Ending requires you to never attack, but just block for a number of rounds. If you attack even once, you get a Bittersweet Ending. You also get one if you Sheathe Your Sword, but haven't met the other requirements.
  • The Empathic Manifestation under Athkathla in Baldur's Gate II has to be defeated by not fighting him... Although in this particular case, you have to actually HEAL him. Would be a case of Revive Kills Zombie if it weren't for the fact that it explicitly states feeding on hostility and hostile emotions (and so the implication goes that it was your kindness that beat him, not the healing per se).
    • A secondary example from the same game are the "Shadow" enemies inside the Big Circus Tent. They roll to hit like any other enemy, but do no damage unless you've attacked them first (thus showing you believe they actually exist); they vanish in a puff of smoke when killed and grant no Experience Points or item drops whatsoever. The area also contains "Shadow Fiends" that look the same, but are able to damage you regardless; it's these that you must actually attack. The hint that you're given to distinguish between the two is for your character to "Close your eyes and only strike back if it hurts you". High-level characters (or those with Jan or Keldorn in their party) can also bypass the shadows entirely with True Sight spell or the Detect Illusions ability.
  • In Lester the Unlikely, the exit of one level is guarded by a Giant Spider Boss that tries to drop on you from the ceiling. Attacking the spider just causes it to move faster and faster until it's impossible to avoid. The solution is to NOT try to fight the spider, instead simply avoid it and attack the webbing covering the exit door until it's cleared away, then just leave.
  • The dancing zombies in the fifth level of Monster Party for the NES. When you enter the room, they say "Watch us dance!" Attacking them just makes them start over; do nothing but wait a moment, and you win.
  • Prince of Persia:
    • In Prince of Persia, the Prince's mirror reflection would kill you if you tried to fight it since hitting it draws from your health, too, but if you sheathed your sword and walked into it, it would absorb into you. This is especially tricky since the Prince automatically draws his sword upon facing an enemy and puts it away after killing it, so the player is never hinted they even can do that.
    • Something similar happens in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. When finally facing off against The Dark Prince, hitting him causes him to duplicate. The only way to win is to walk away from the fight.
  • In the Mecha fight at the end of Escape from Monkey Island, both Guybrush's robot and LeChuck regenerate health too quickly to be able to defeat each other, so the only way to win is by tying in the Monkey Kombat three times, so LeChuck gets tired and Elaine is able to escape.
  • In the Knights of the Nine quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you are given a test of character in which you are told you must show respect to nature. A huge bear appears and attacks you. To pass, you must not fight back.
    • Which meant for many players who played the expansion after already having finished the main storyline, that they had to carefully select gear that does not reflect damage (as many of the better shields and armor items had this property) without sacrificing all defence to get maimed too quickly by the levelled bear.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, the only way to defeat Kyle after his fall to The Dark Side is to deactivate your lightsaber and basically dare him to kill you. There's a helpful hint in the form of a wall carving of a female Jedi with her saber deactivated in front of her, something you wouldn't expect to find in a Sith temple.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the "Dread Palace" operation, the boss fight against Dread Master Tyrans requires all but one Player Character to enter a portal marked with their combat role to take a related challenge. DPS toons have to kill the creature chained on the other side, but tank and healer toons merely have to survive its attacks until it disappears.
  • In Beyond the Beyond, you can do this when you face off against the Black Knight close to the end of the game. The Black Knight in question is really Annie's brother Percy, who was earlier presumed dead after fighting off a group of Imperial guards. If you decide not to attack him for several rounds, he'll run from the battle and join your party. Should you decide to fight him anyway, his mask will crack, revealing his true face to the party before he dies.
  • In the Mother series, every single Final Boss cannot be defeated just by attacking them. You can attack them, but no amount of damage will take them out:
    • EarthBound Beginnings: You have to sing all the parts of the song that you'd been gathering throughout the game to remind Giegue of the people who raised him and to get him to surrender of his own will.
    • EarthBound (1994): This is the one that involves the most straightforward combat, as the first two phases, against Porky and Giygas in the Devil's Machine, and the first proper phase against Giygas, are finished upon dealing enough damage. From that on, however, Paula has to use the up-to-then practically useless Pray command in order to allow the prayers of every other character in the game, plus the player themself, to overpower Giygas.
    • Mother 3 has a very, very tragic variation of this. The last battle with The Dragon comes only moments after the reveal that said dragon is your long-lost twin brother, who was kidnapped, forcibly turned into a robotic chimera, and brainwashed. During the battle, the knowledge of this leaves you unable to attack (later on you can try, but those attempts are pretty much you closing your eyes and half-heartedly swinging), so all you can do is defend and heal as you, your father, and the spirit of your dead mother try to reach him. In the end, he regains his senses, but then turns his own attack on himself and dies in your arms.. This is the one that involves the least combat, as you are simply expected to Defend and heal as much as you can and, in fact, Lucas will refuse to hit save for a small portion in the battle.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, the fight against the corpse of Lavitz in disc four. Defend enough and your party will talk him into turning his back, allowing you to take out the demon possessing him.
    • Before that, there is the encounter with Shirley, who can only be "beaten" by answering her questions correctly. A common fan belief is her "fight" is to recover from the rather brutal encounter with Drake seconds earlier. She was originally supposed to have been a proper boss fight like the other original Dragoons, but her healing powers and unlimited MP would have made it unwinnable.
  • Rise of the Triad has the first form of El Oscuro. Attacking him causes him to eat your missiles and regain energy. You're supposed to run away and let him wear himself out and revert to his snake form, which you chase down and kill. Except that every other challenge in this game essentially boiled down to shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everyone's dead, try to ask a question or two, which made this a bit counterintuitive.
  • Alone in the Dark 3 has Edward Carnby, soon after coming Back from the Dead, fight a version of himself dressed like a cowboy. He'll match you blow for blow and shot for shot, and the solution is to drop your weapons. He'll merge with you after that.
  • Ikaruga has an optional variation on this. Your ship can absorb light or dark bullets (and flip freely between being able to absorb either.) The reason to do this is to build up power for your Beam Spam, but it's possible to make it through a whole level without firing a shot. In fact, if you can do precisely that and then survive each level boss's barrage of light and dark bullets without shooting back for 100 seconds, then the boss will just fly away and you'll be awarded the rank of 'Dot Eater!' Not to mention that you must survive against the final boss this way.
  • In Persona 4, Shadows are the coalesced negative emotions and true feelings that people hide in their innermost hearts. When a Shadow manifests itself, it is typical for its creator to deny it, resulting in it absorbing power and turning into a monstrous abomination —cue the boss fight. But even after you and your teammates defeat it, the Shadow will just stand back up again and again until the character willfully stops fighting and accepts it as part of him/herself. Or apparently reject it so hard it disappears on its own, in Mitsuo's case.
    • A literal case as the best way to survive the tail end of two boss fights. Shadow Rise will cast a spell when she hits half health, and Izanami will simply ignore every attack and skills you use when she runs out of health. This lasts for three turns each, and both will still attack while you can't touch them. The easiest way to stay alive is block with all characters, heal if necessary, and wait for the script to roll out Teddie obliterating the Shadow/Izanami-no-Okami.
  • Lost Odyssey features a scene where the Big Bad mind-controls one of your party members to attack you. Killing him will end the game, so you have to hold out until the Big Bad decides to blast you himself and leave.
  • Metal Gear Solid has a variation in the fight with the Ninja; you're supposed to keep your weapons stowed and fight with your fists. After a few hits, the Ninja will toss aside his sword and say, "Good. Now we can fight as warriors — hand to hand. It is the basis of all combat. Only a fool trusts his life to a weapon." Try to use your weapons, and it will not go well for you. Because he's a cyborg, you can make him vulnerable with chaff grenades (they mess with his sensors), but at this point, you can't carry enough chaff grenades to defeat him this way alone.
    • In Snake Eater, the player cannot damage The Sorrow — He's already dead! The only option is to wait for him to kill you, then use the Revival Pill. Getting as far as possible before being instant killed will net you some special camo, though.
  • In Lunar: Dragon Song, the second stage of the Black Dragon fight features a dark doppelganger of the main character Jian, who will copy whatever the party does, only with cripplingly powerful spells. The easiest way to beat him is to use the Namia monster card (poisons foe, and a move the fake can't copy), and just try and escape every turn (you can't run from story battles, but it spends a turn). Dark Jian will try to run, fail, and take poison damage. Rinse and repeat for a couple of dozen turns, and what would have been the second-hardest boss in the game suddenly becomes one of the easiest.
  • Record of Agarest War: This is the only way to help progress the True Ending path when facing Vashtor in the Fifth Generation for the first time in Dandalugan Fortress by not KO'ing him for seven turns in battle, one title in the adventurer's guild even provides a small hint before said event occurs in fact, thus having Vashtor gain a chance to redeem himself, much to Murmina's chagrin.
    Slay not the fallen one, but take his hand.
  • In The Force Unleashed Jedi Temple Downloadable Content, when you face the Sith Warrior, at certain points he will transform into a duplicate of Starkiller. When he does this, you must block and/or avoid him until he changes back. If you attack him in this form, his health will be replenished and Starkiller will take the damage instead.
  • The first time you fight Darkrai in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, this is the strategy you should use to conserve resources and activate the Vatonage Styler.
  • In Live A Live, choosing to fight the final boss's final form results in a Zero-Effort Boss fight, and the "bad" ending (where nothing happens except the credits roll). You have to choose to walk away from the fight for the real ending to occur.
  • In BIT.TRIP FLUX, this message is to the player, from the player character in the ending. His journey is over, but yours isn't. Put down the controller and live your life.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In the original, the best way to defeat Pikachu is to jump to the tower at the player's right and avoid all attacks, jumping if necessary. Sooner or later, regardless of difficulty, Pikachu will use agility and be rendered unable to jump, falling to his demise.
    • In the sequel, it's possible to beat a level 9 Ness in a single 2-player stock match on Jungle Japes by... standing there. It works every single time.
    • One of the easier ways to win the 15-minute version of the Multi-Mook Melee (in which the goal is simply to survive 15 minutes) is to just run away from all of your opponents. The AI of the mooks is dependent on the number that have fallen, so running away from them as much as you can results in trying to survive against absurdly weak foes. The only thing keeping this from being a Zero-Effort Challenge is that the AI always has an element of Too Dumb to Live - eventually, those early mooks will end up jumping off the level and bringing in more competent opponents to replace them.
  • In Xenogears, during the Inevitable Tournament, you can get Alice's wedding dress from Dan during Fei's boss fight with him by constantly defending and healing instead of attacking. You can attack him too, but then you won't get the item.
  • In Mortal Kombat 9, this is how Raiden defeats Shao Kahn. By letting Kahn merge Earth and Outworld without winning Mortal Kombat, Raiden is able to finally spur the Elder Gods into action, and use their power to destroy Kahn. "He must win!"
  • The XBLA indie shooter Shoot 1UP features shields that form and expand around your ships when you refrain from shooting. Firing while an enemy is inside a shield unleashes a "shield attack," which earns you much higher bonuses than shooting around blindly. It's essential in order to rack up huge scores.
  • In Pokémon Platinum, Cyrus warns you that Giratina's power will destroy the universe whether you defeat it or capture it to end its rage. Should you do either of these, it will be revealed that Cyrus was lying to demotivate you. However, it is possible to run away from the scripted battle with Giratina. Not only does this calm down Giratina just as well, but it upsets Cyrus, who hadn't considered walking away an option.
  • The final battle of the second part of the ero-game Monster Girl Quest gives the player the option to do this after the last of the damage is inflicted to the target. Alice, who the player learns much earlier on is the Monster Lord, intended to commit Suicide by Cop in order to carry out her mother's wish of ending the conflict between monsters and humans. Once her HP is reduced to 0 in the fight against her, the player can choose to slay her with one final attack, which triggers a Non-Standard Game Over in which peace is achieved, in a sense. However, it's clear that Luka really doesn't want to kill her, and believes that her death in such a manner would be pointless anyway, given that her mother tried the exact same method before her. So, by not attacking for a few rounds once she's at 0 HP, Luka spares her life, and events come into play that set up the upcoming third and final part.
  • Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising has this as a valid tactic for completing the normal campaign version of Two-Week Test. You simply do nothing except end your turn. Doing this showcases the AI's ability to screw itself over, but your rank will suck. The Hard Campaign averts this by giving you pre-deployed units, though you can still actually pull that off by using the "Delete" function on your units, which doesn't count as you being routed. The Enhanced Remake gives the AI enough smarts not to screw itself over.
  • This is done in some Sonic The Hedgehog games. Well, to an extent.
    • The Flying Battery Zone Act 1 miniboss, Gapsule, in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, involves you just making him hit himself. Technically speaking, you did NOT attack him!
    • The Act 2 miniboss, Barrier Eggman, is this as well. You defeat it by just avoiding its attacks until it apparently overheats and destroys itself.
    • The Sandopolis Zone Act 1 boss, Egg Golem, can be attacked, but the only way to actually destroy it is by making it fall into quicksand at the edge of the area. You can either repeatedly attack it to knock it back into the quicksand, or just stand in the quicksand yourself (repeatedly jumping so you don't sink) at the very edge of the screen and let it just jump into the quicksand by itself.
    • As well as this, Lava Reef Zone Act 2 boss, Hot Mobile. You just avoid falling into the lava or touching the bombs and eventually he will bomb himself to defeat.
    • The Quartz Quadrant boss in Sonic the Hedgehog CD involves you just avoiding his attacks, running toward him, and letting the treadmill scrape off the floor of his machine. For someone with an IQ of 300, Eggman isn't very smart...
    • Averted in Sonic Advance 3. Egg Jack-in-the-Box, boss of Toy Kingdom Zone, slowly crawls toward one of the pits, and the way you defeat is by making them fall in the pit. But, if you let him approach the pit he is facing he'll simply slide back and forth in the arena for a while, and chances are that you will get hurt and killed in a blink. Or thrown into a pit.
  • In Dawn of War: Winter Assault, the Imperial Guard Escort Mission requires that you follow a convoy very close to two enemy bases. While the convoy will last longer than most examples, being composed of a high-end Awesome Personnel Carrier and Space Marines, they will soon die to the relentless waves targeting it. One solution is to instantly switch over to the Eldar base: this greatly reduces the number of attacking units (and as the Eldar have teleporting builders and jump tanks, you can easily send support to the convoy with little risk), then switch back once the convoy is safe.
  • Attacking Bibi Love in Dead Rising 2 will cause her to kill herself and the trapped survivors in her crowd with a bomb wired to the stage. The only way to settle this is to fulfill her demands.
  • To get the good ending in Pom Gets Wi Fi, you must spare the Clipped-Wing Angel Shibe. This is only possible if you make all the moral decisions prior to it, otherwise your character will attack for you.
  • In Chapter 4's second half in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Doopliss will periodically stop you and force you into a battle where neither of you can hurt each other. Since no progress can be made at all on either side for this reason (unless the audience starts beaning you with rocks), the only option is to run away each time.
  • The Stanley Parable: According to the second narrator in the "Museum" ending, the only true way to free Stanley from The Narrator and whatever else is controlling him is to stop playing the game.
  • In Bust-A-Move 2 of the Bubble Bobble series, Packy can be easily defeated by putting down the controller and allowing her to fill up her side of the screen with bubbles.
  • In Undertale, almost all encounters can be resolved through either fighting or granting mercy. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, the nonviolent option tends to require more effort than just not attacking, with some sort of action required to get the monster to stand down. Some encounters do result in a similar experience to the usual uses of this trope, though, such as the battle against Toriel, which is solved by repeatedly choosing the "Spare" option even though it initially doesn't seem to be doing anything, and trying to talk didn't help. There's also an inversion: in the Genocide route, the final boss eventually recognizes that you're winning, and plays with this trope to turn the tides. He takes a turn in which he doesn't attack, meaning his turn never ends and yours never starts, so you can't attack him... in theory, anyway. The main game itself has a different type of inversion: Asgore, at the start of the fight, will destroy the Mercy option, and you're forced to whittle his health until the game puts him at one HP, at which point you have the option of killing or sparing him.
    • A Perspective Flip of this trope occurs early on in the Genocide route. Instead of trying to stop you through force of arms like Undyne and Sans, Papyrus refuses to fight and offers you mercy and friendship. Whether this works, well... that will depend on how deep your own determination to butcher absolutely everyone runs, and despite being a Zero-Effort Boss, from an emotional perspective, it can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do in the entire game.
  • In Star Control II, you encounter a lone Shofixti pilot named Tanaka who is hellbent on trying to destroy your vessel in revenge for the loss of his entire species, as he believes you to be an Ur-Quan starship. The proper course of action is to converse with him, use the various insults the game offers, and then warp out of the fight to repeat the cycle until it dawns on him that Ur-Quan don't insult opponents that way, so you're actually trustworthy. If you screw up and kill him in the fight (which is even possible on accident, as his ship is badly damaged and could careen into a planet if things go south), his brother Katana appears to let you try again. Kill Katana and the Shofixti's race can't be recruited anymore.
  • In the Plague of Shadows campaign of Shovel Knight, if you stand perfectly still and do nothing, the attacks used by the Plague of Shadows won't hurt you, and you'll eventually be allowed to move on without fighting. It's still possible to win by fighting normally though.
  • This is the easiest way to beat Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2: the battle ends automatically after a certain amount of time, and Pyramid Head cannot be killed, so the best option is to just run around dodging attacks and wait for the cutscene (or run like hell in one case). Shooting Pyramid Head will speed up the battle and slow him down, making it easier to escape from a tight spot where it's hard to escape from a Great Knife to the head.
  • In Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll, the key to exposing Koku-un-Sai, the final opponent in the second tournament, is to avoid attacking and defending until a One-Hit Kill red star marker appears on him.
  • Near the end of NieR: Automata, A2 fights N2, an AI network that keep replicating their avatars. Eventually, she's told to let them keep replicating even as they attack her, turning the fight into Bullet Hell sequence. At the end N2 replicates and grows to the point they start gaining conflicting opinions, whereupon they attack and destroy each other.
  • In Glory of Heracles III, after the Protagonist is turned into a monster and thrown into a Stable Time Loop, this is the only way to win the battle against your past self and his party.
  • A variation in Indivisible: in the final fight with Kala, the boss is entirely invincible, but burning through their health bars to attack. The player still has to defend, with excellent timing, to not be wiped out by the onslaught.
  • POPGOES Arcade 2020's secret ending has the player face off against the spirit of Bonnie Glade. Your opponent is just barely holding back, and attacking results in a Non-Standard Game Over when Blackrabbit loses control and breaks out of the in-universe arcade cabinet to presumably kill the in-universe player. You need to let your opponent calm down by beating the crap out of Popgoes for a while so she can free herself from the cabinet and pass on peacefully.
  • To maximise your score at Flaming Zombooka 2: Level Pack level 3, you have to wait for the wheels to do their work and not shoot the zombies (though you still have to shoot the brain).
  • In Shepherd's Crossing, the "hunts" against sheep, yak, and alpaca are like this. Instead of trying to defeat game and retrieve your kills, you're trying to round up the animals so they can be safely escorted back to their owners. This often means driving them off or using special shepherding skills instead of your usual attack skills. If you do manage to kill a cow or sheep, you get no reward for it and there's no way to collect your kill.
  • In Gaia Seed: Project Trap, in order to get the best ending, you must not attack the Final Boss and the True Final Boss at all.
  • In Superman 64, Brainiac will only attack you if you fire heat vision at him; you can just walk past him with no consequences.
  • Granblue Fantasy has a variation where only one person in the party needs to sheathe their sword. In the "Home Sweet Moon" event, if Lyria activates any skills while fighting Grace, she will realize that friendship with the party is not possible and unleashes a Total Party Kill.
  • Played with in Arknights, as in order to get a secret cutscene in chapter 8, the player must allow Mephisto's mutated form to pass into the player's box and spare the enemy's life. But because this character is still counted as an enemy, this means the player will still get penalized for letting someone through their defenses and will need to play the level again for a perfect clear if it's their first playthrough.
  • In the grand finale of the main route of OMORI, the main protagonist has to face Omori, his alter ego created as a repression mechanism to help him escape his guilt over accidentally killing his sister, Mari, in a Battle in the Center of the Mind. At this point, Omori has decided that since mental repression has failed, the best way for Sunny to escape his guilt is to take the easy way out. No matter how many times Sunny strikes Omori down, he constantly comes back, stronger than ever, eventually defeating Sunny. The only way to get a good ending is for Sunny to persist through that, then use his violin to play the duet he was supposed to play with Mari at a recital on the day everything went wrong. This symbolic action, denoting that Sunny is willing to face the reality and the consequences of his actions and perhaps forgive himself, causes Omori to fade away in Sunny's arms.
  • Used in a pivotal moment in Brutal Orchestra. In order to get past the Disc-One Final Boss and unlock the rest of the game, they need to disobey Bosch and let This Pitiful Corpse survive for two turns. Killing them will lead to an alternate Nonstandard Game Over ending.

    Web Animation 
  • How It Should Have Ended highlights that using this trope would have made things much, much simpler for the protagonists in Predator.
    Dutch: [Referring to a dropped gun] No! Leave it! It didn't kill you because you were unarmed No sport in it...
    Billy: Wait, if that thing's killing us because we're all armed, what the heck are we carrying all these guns for?!
    Dutch: That is... an excellent question. Quick, everybody throw down your weapons!

  • In 8-Bit Theater, Red Mage is forced to face the embodiment of his Pride. After trying everything, he gives up, saying he cannot win, which causes Pride to disappear, since he showed humility. Red Mage concludes that his mind must be so brilliant it found a way to defeat its opponent subconsciously.
  • A Yonkoma in Flipside has Maytag applying this trope to Bernadette, since Bernadette's "Split Rose" fighting style is a Counter-Attack-based style with no offensive moves, so if Maytag just stands there and does nothing, Bernadette can't hurt her. Bernadette gets around this by throwing a brick at her.
  • In-universe example in Girl Genius, where Gil is fighting a "training clank" that counters every attack and learns from previous battles. Agatha shuts it down — by walking right up to it, figuring that it won't defend itself against someone who isn't attacking it.
  • The supervillain Vehemence of Grrl Power gains energy (and new superpowers) from any violence in the vicinity. Many members of the team argue against attacking him at all. Unfortunately, this doesn't work— Vehemence can feedback his powers with his own aggression, or Emotion Bomb others to goad them into attacking.
    • There's also For Whom The Death Tolls, whom Sydney decides has the Nemesis power: he can perfectly counter any attack against him but is completely impotent if no one attacks him at all.
  • Mob Psycho 100: This is how the fight between Mob and God Dimple ends. Upon reaching 100% Trust, Mob realizes his powers are in the way of solving his conflict with Dimple, and they just need to talk it out like friends.
  • The Order of the Stick: In "A Battle of Attrition", a couple of dwarven clerics attacked by a giant lizard monster would rather heal themselves of its attacks until it gets fed up and leaves.

    Web Videos 
  • At one point in LARPs: The Series, the party has to get past a golem. They can't defeat it in combat, but when Noctus approaches it unarmed, it steps aside for him.
  • Near the end of "The Sleepwalker" arc of Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara tries to attack the Entity with a proton pack and pokeballs, before realising that the Entity is only still around because it needs Linkara to try and stop it in order to give its life meaning. When Linkara cedes the game and stops attacking, it sends the Entity into an existential crisis, before it finally fades from existence.
  • In the epic climax of Session 14 of Belkinus Necrohunt, despite the overwhelming power presented by Kara Miharian, the majority of the party are willing to endure the pain without fighting back in order to try and convince them that they're genuinely seeking a peaceful resolution. The party succeeds.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Sage of Darkness, Dark Link proves to be much too powerful for Link to defeat, and only disappears when Link lets go of his hatred and surrenders.
  • Arin Hanson of Game Grumps ended up having a bit of a Jason Fox moment in Bloodborne. When he approached Erin the Crow, a fellow hunter, he told Dan that she was "probably gonna kick my ass" based on his prior experience playing the game on his own. Dan asked, innocently, if there wasn't a way to approach her peacefully, and to demonstrate that there wasn't, Arin walked up to her slowly... only to be greeted by a "Talk" prompt. Turns out she's a non-hostile NPC, and will even give you a free item if you talk to her twice. She just happens to also be programmed to fight back if you attack her instead and indeed will kick your ass handily.
  • This is Internet Historian's advice in his The Tumblr-4Chan Wars, for what to do if 4Chan raids your site. After listing off all of Tumblr's feeble attempts to fight against the raid, and how 4Chan immediately countered these attempts by using them as ammo for more trolling, he points out that Tumblr had "kicked the hornet's nest" by attempting to raid them first and now the only thing they really could do was sit back and let it blow over:
    Historian: Lay down and surrender. The only thing you can do, really, is log off and wait for it to be over. Trouble is, it took Tumblr two days to figure this out! In the meantime, casualties were enormous: 40+ hours of wasted time, 500 hurt feelings, and literally thousands of triggerings.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Amphibia episode "The First Temple", the temple's final challenge is a life-sized game of flip-wart,note  with Hop Pop, Sprig, and Polly as pieces on Marcy's side, and Anne as a piece on the opposing side. Marcy is on the brink of victory when the temple starts flat-out cheating, and after trying and failing to find a way to win without anyone getting hurt, she ultimately forfeits the match — which turns out to be the correct solution.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Bumi chooses to surrender to the Fire Nation and allow himself to be imprisoned, using Neutral Jing (doing nothing, as opposed to Positive Jing [fighting] or Negative Jing [running away]) because he knows that he can't defeat the Fire Nation at that point. When an eclipse De-powers the Fire Nation, though, all bets are off.
  • When facing an Evil Twin made up purely of his aggression and negative emotions, Samurai Jack realized he could only win by not fighting and returning to true peace inside himself.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The normally unrestrained OMAC eventually manages to defeat the supervillain Shrapnel by using a force field to protect against Shrapnel's blows while refusing to counterattack — which meant that Shrapnel had no source of power to replenish himself with.
  • Justice League Unlimited: In "Hawk and Dove", Wonder Woman, Hawk, and Dove face an unstoppable magical robot that feeds on aggression. Dove beats it by... not fighting, or rather by getting analogues of North and South Korea to stop fighting. The next time the machine starts up, they remember and use it, but unfortunately, there has been a very Obvious Rule Patch.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Tree Trunks", Finn, Jake, and Tree Trunks find the Crystal Gem Apple but are confronted by a Crystal Guardian, who copies everything they do — and since it's a great deal harder than either Finn or Jake, they only manage to hurt themselves when they try to attack it. Tree Trunks, in the meantime, starts playing with some mildly disturbing skull-faced butterflies, and when the Crystal Guardian starts copying her as well, Finn and Jake realize that the Crystal Guardian will only attack them if they attack first.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
    • In the episode "The Ancient One", Leo is set to fight a losing battle against a group of demon ghosts, who can't be touched or harmed, but who can touch and kill him. Although Leo is initially reluctant to follow the titular Ancient One's advice and just give up, he eventually does so, which saves him, as the demons immediately cease their attack.
    • In one episode of "Fast Forward", Darius Dunn and Cody Jones are battling each other in mechs and Cody is unable to take him head-on due to Dunn's robot being much more powerful, so he shields himself and lets Darius attack him repeatedly until his power runs out, enabling Cody to counterattack and defeat him.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
    • The Turtles decide to fight a reactivated Technodrome by sitting down and doing nothing. The Technodrome ends up crashing itself.
    • In another episode, when Splinter becomes a Brainwashed and Crazy pawn of the Rat King, the Turtles find themselves on the losing side of a Curb-Stomp Battle. Leonardo eventually decides to simply throw down his weapons and refuse to fight his sensei, hoping it will help him snap out of it. This was admittedly a risky gamble, but it worked.
  • In Spongebob Squarepants, when Flats tries to beat up Spongebob, all of his blows are absorbed by Spongebob's body. Spongebob survives without a scratch, and Flats collapses from fatigue several hours later.
  • The Boxing Episode of The Simpsons shows that Homer had an extra layer of fluid around his brain, allowing him to take more hits without being injured. Homer becomes a boxing champion who just waits until his opponents tire themselves out before KOing them. Unfortunately, when Homer tries fighting the heavyweight champion, his stamina is too much for Homer to deal with.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Cutie Remark", Princess Twilight is forced to do this with Starlight Glimmer as every time she fights, the timeline change gets worse and worse. Instead, she forces her opponent to confront the consequences of time travel by dragging her into the final future, an empty wasteland with no explanation. Starlight has a Villainous Breakdown over it that eventually leads to her revealing her Freudian Excuse and eventually having a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Though all of Ponyville's residents put up a valiant fight against the Tantabus in Do Princess Dream of Magic Sheep, they're clearly not able to actually harm it. They can stagger it, slow it down, and cut it apart, but it just reforms and keeps advancing on its rift to the waking world. It's not until the ponies stop fighting instead rally around Princess Luna to forgive herself that the Tantabus can actually be defeated: Luna lets go of her guilt and it is reabsorbed back into her.
  • The first comic issue of Invader Zim, and later the movie Enter the Florpus, begins with Zim doing this as part of a Paranoia Gambit against Dib; by doing absolutely nothing for a while, he tricks Dib into neglecting his physical fitness while searching for Zim, resulting in Dib being incapable of actually stopping him when he does start to do things. The comic and movie diverge when Zim forgets what he was actually supposed to do with the opportunity he created.
  • One of the ancient Mandarin's tests in Iron Man: Armored Adventures calls for this. Forcing anyone seeking the ring to be overrun by an endless horde of statues unless they do the wise thing and surrender.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Troll", Wander and Sylvia are roped into helping the Baa-hallans defend their food supply from a troll. The creature starts out small but grows larger and stronger as he riles up the Baa-hallans with his insults until soon he's an unstoppable giant. But Wander just ignores him, causing the troll to shrink, revealing his weakness, and when everyone else follows suit he shrinks back to his original harmless size.
  • Kulipari: An Army of Frogs: The heroic frogs are forced to surrender and accept exile from their homeland. After taking down the Veil that hid them on the orders of the Rainbow Serpent. This works out very well for them, as Darrel leads them to a new homeland where they can live in peace, while the Scorpion army destroys itself in a vain attempt to control all the water.
  • In the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode High-Tech House of Horrors, Velma discovers that S.H.A.R.I., the eponymous house's AI and Monster of the Week, thrived on getting attention from people by attacking and terrorizing them, and deduced that the way to defeat it is not to proactively find a way to deactivate it but to simply refuse to give it what it wants. As such, Velma directs everyone to sit on the floor and do nothing, prompting the AI to scream at them to pay attention to it until it overloaded and fried its circuitry.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: In "Tribe", while leading Gungi back to his home on Kashyyyk, the Bad Batch encounter a nest of giant bug-like creatures called kinrath. They look threatening, but Gungi assures the Batch that they'll only attack if they think you're a threat, so they just have to keep their weapons sheathed and they'll get through unharmed. Gungi exploits this during the climax to defeat the commander of a group of Trandoshans that have been attacking the area - he lures him into the nest, waits for the kinrath to appear, and immediately deactivates his lightsaber. The kinrath walk straight past him and attack the commander.
  • Static Shock: In "Tantrum", Static repeatedly fights a HULK MASH!-Up called Tantrum. Static learns the hard way that Tantrum is invulnerable and attacking him just makes him angrier and stronger. In the end, Static lures Tantrum to an empty construction site where no one can get hurt, then stalls for time and lets him smash things until he gets worn out and reverts to human form.
  • The Boondocks: Parodied in "Freedom Ride or Die", where it's pointed out how the concept of non-violent resistance is completely ridiculous, even during the Civil Rights era, and that it mostly relied on having a bunch of naive and/or suicidal narcissists around to martyr themselves since the entire civil rights movement mostly relied on showing racists as the violent monsters they really were for PR purposes.
  • Legend of the Three Caballeros:
    • In the episode "Stonehenge Your Bets", the goblin warmachine is powered by discord and simply absorbs any weapons used against it. It's defeated by the Caballeros dramatically forgiving each other and inspiring the goblins to do likewise.
    • In the episode "Shangri-La-Di-Da", Donald faces his own reflection in a pool, transformed into the manifestation of his anger issues. Once he abandons his anger, he can literally let it all wash over him.
  • Storm Hawks: In "Forbidden City", as the stone guardians advance on the Storm Hawks. Finn fires on one, only for it to reform itself. Aerrow orders the team to stand down, putting his own weapons away and holding up his hands in a gesture of peaceful surrender. Once the guardians walk up to them and deem them not a threat, they crumble to pieces.
  • The New Adventures of He-Man: In "The New Wizard in Town", the evil wizard Ramlin can drain magic from others, but only when he is attacked. If you refuse to attack him, he'll eventually run out of magic and be rendered powerless.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: One episode had Omi time-traveling to meet the legendary Grandmaster Dashi, needing him to recreate a certain McGuffin. Dashi agrees to do it, but only if Omi can grab a pebble he's holding. The grandmaster proceeds to fend off Omi's attacks with ease but eventually points out that there's one thing that the young monk hasn't tried. After a moment, Omi politely asks for the pebble, and Dashi hands it over; he was trying to teach Omi that some problems can't be solved by brute force. Also because it was funny.
  • My Adventures with Superman: In "Let's Go to Ivo Tower, You Say", Dr. Anthony Ivo puts on the Parasite armor and attacks Superman. When Superman learns the armor can drain his energy, he stops fighting and avoids him. Combined with Lois and Jimmy disabling the armor's external power source, the armor then starts draining Ivo's energy to sustain itself, allowing Superman to pull it apart and defeat Ivo.
  • Steven Universe: In "Ocean Gem," after being freed from the mirror, Lapis Lazuli steals all of the Earth's oceans and turns the water into a giant tower. Fighting her proves to be impossible because she can produce infinite numbers of water Mooks which simply reform if defeated. Steven goes up her water tower to talk to her, and finds out that she is using the tower to try and escape Earth. He uses his powers to heal her cracked gem which allows her to regain full control of her powers. She thanks Stephen, sprouts some water wings, and flies away, returning the oceans to normal as she no longer needs them since she can get around on her own.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Three Girls and a Monster", the girls can't defeat a monster despite their best efforts, and Blossom and Buttercup argue over how to fight it. Bubbles politely asks it to leave, and it does. Afterwards, she yells at her sisters, "That's how you get rid of a monster, you big, fat, doo-doo-headed ninnies!''
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Dragonshy," a dragon has fallen asleep in a nearby cave, and the smoke from his nostrils will soon cover all of Equestria. Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Rarity all try convincing him to leave the cave and fail, while Rainbow Dash's attempt to fight him also fails because she is a little pony and he is a massive dragon. Fluttershy finally manages to cow the dragon by yelling at him in defense of her friends, and then politely asking him to go somewhere else.
    • In "Boast Busters," Trixie boasts that she once saved the town of Hoofington by defeating an Ursa Major, a gigantic bear made of stars. Snips and Snails go into the forest to wake up what they think is an Ursa Major (actually an Ursa Minor) so they can see Trixie fight it, but she's not magically strong enough to, and confesses that her previous boast was a lie to make herself look more impressive. Twilight saves the town by playing a lullaby to lull the Ursa Minor to sleep, giving it a huge container of milk, and floating it back into its cave.

    Real Life 
  • This is basically the premise behind the martial art of Aikido, both philosophically (if you fight, you will lose against someone, it's only a matter of time) and pragmatically (the techniques emphasize that you should not fight the opponent i.e. oppose his intention/movement or try to struggle with him).
  • A lot of martial arts that are applicable towards self-defense seem to recommend the Screw This, I'm Outta Here school of self-defense: when confronted by (for instance) a mugger, you turn the hell around and run your ass off, or just give him what he wants. The "martial" part of the martial arts regimen only comes into play when avoiding physical harm befalling you or the mugger is no longer an option.
  • According to legend, the Chinese philosopher Laozi was never one to fight or argue, so when the border guard Yinxi demanded he record his wisdom for the good of the country before he would be permitted to pass, he simply said, "Eh, okay". He wrote for a month straight, eventually turning out the first draft of his masterpiece, the Tao Te Ching. (Or so the story goes.)
  • Gandhi's resistance to the British empire. If the citizens had actively fought back against the empire (instead of resisting passively), they would have been violently suppressed by Britain's superior military, and the rest of the world would have thought it justified since the soldiers were only defending themselves. This only worked because of the British not really registering how brutal their regime was until they had to enforce it on people who refused even token resistance. Gandhi himself admitted it wouldn't have worked on someone like the Nazis, who just didn't care.
  • Most historic peaceful protests and marches, such as those practiced during the American Black Civil Rights movement of the '60s, are all about this trope. Fighting back or committing acts of violence in the name of their cause would have given their enemies political ammunition to censor them, but by advocating their position in a nonviolent manner, they put said enemies in a position where attacking or attempting to otherwise subvert or stop the activities of the protestors makes them look like the bad guy.
  • There is a Zen parable where a samurai asks a master if there is an afterlife and what it is like. The master challenged him, saying what sort of question was that for a samurai, and what worthless samurai would ask it? The furious samurai grabbed his sword and began to draw it, to which the master shouted, "Here open the gates of hell!" The shamed samurai, realizing his error, sheathed his weapon and asked for forgiveness, to which the master whispered, "And here open the gates of heaven."
  • Nuclear war can be said to be this: The minute one nuclear weapon launches, it triggers a retaliatory strike by everybody with nuclear weapons.
  • Chief Joseph's famous "I will fight no more forever" speech. This is also an example of Know When to Fold 'Em since they had already lost the battle and half their people, and continuing the fight could very well lead to his own people's utter annihilation.


Video Example(s):


Mariner Stops the Fighting

When all the aliens are gathered together and ready to kill each other, rather than join in on the fighting, Mariner reveals herself and calls for a time out from everyone so they can talk things out. Ma'ah and Tendi help her by stating anyone who doesn't want to listen to her will deal with them instead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SheatheYourSword

Media sources: