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Stone Wall

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Turtling has never been more literal.
"Prince Kuzovlev rode out inside a monolithic block of black groznium, which Vronsky knew to be well-armored but utterly useless in offensive capability. Vronsky and his comrades knew Kuzovlev and his peculiarity of 'weak nerves' and terrible vanity; they knew he was afraid of everything and therefore had entered the field in this upright coffin of an Exterior, prepared to survive a Cull but never to win one."
Android Karenina

If the Glass Cannon believes that the best defense is a good offense, the reverse is true of this guy. The Stone Wall's offense is nothing to write home about, if it even technically exists. But he's tough. Really, really tough. And if anything can put him down, odds are he's quick enough on the recovery to get right back up for round two.

A Stone Wall's strategy is often known as "turtling". In warfare, the strategy is a battle of attrition to see who tires out or makes a mistake first. In sports, their favored tactic is a waiting game where they get an early lead and then just wait until time runs out. If his defense is something he physically constructs and builds, he can win a fight by slowly expanding outward until he leaves the enemy without a foot to stand on. Often has defensive buffs and minor healing magic, in which case you're dealing with a "Paladin Tank." In rare cases, he may also have access to Fixed-Damage Attacks, which by their very nature ignore stats, giving them at least a little access to actual offensive power. However, more offensively oriented characters will still always have a higher damage output with regular attacks. Although in very rare cases, typically at a high level, he'll gain access to an attack that scales off his Defense rather than his Attack, allowing him to finally deal some serious damage at last.

Alternatively, Stone Walls can try the opposite tactic, berserking: throwing themselves at the enemy without a thought for defense. Relying on their inherent toughness to keep them alive, Stone Walls can use suicidal tactics to make up for their dismal attack power. This strategy is especially common for Stone Walls whose toughness is completely automatic, rather than something they need to work at.

In team settings, a Stone Wall often takes care of "tanking" duties, interposing himself between the enemy and an ally, typically a Glass Cannon that can take care of dealing damage while the Stone Wall takes care of defense. By keeping the enemy occupied, he allows allies with greater attack strength but poorer defense to kill the enemy without getting killed. Characters who do this are called "Meat Shields" or "Party Tanks." They often have moves designed to force attention to themselves. Sometimes called "Control Tanks". In television shows, the Stone Wall is rarely the protagonist, because viewers want a main character who can kick ass themselves.

This build has a number of flaws that can be exploited. Fixed and percent damage attacks, along with armor piercing attacks, ignore their thick defenses. Defense-reduction debuffs may be somewhat effective in exposing them to peril, but Damage Over Time debuffs are invariably fatal unless cured. And if the break meter is directly tied to your defensive ability, expect anything with the ability to damage it to do so with extreme prejudice. An Instakill Mook will also be able to one-shot it as if its defenses aren't even there.

The Stone Wall is very much a Blue Oni method. Since it relies upon patience and endurance, over relentless assault, it is not unheard of for a Stone Wall to simply outlast their opposition. When time is especially crucial, the Stone Wall can be a nightmare to defeat, since they would most likely win by a time-out if their opponent fails to land a significant blow.

This trope partly takes its name from a real-life example: Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson won the Battle of Bull Run due to his strategy to not retreat from his line, no matter how bad things went for him. And for a while, things went pretty bad. General Jackson himself is not an example of this trope despite the nickname, as outside of that particular battle, he was most noted for his offensive campaigns.

Contrast Glass Cannon, which is the inverse with strong offense and weak defense, and Lightning Bruiser, which is tough and fast without sacrificing strength. Also contrast Mighty Glacier, who is strong but lacks speed; and Fragile Speedster, who has poor defence, but is fast. Not an unusual trait of the Weak, but Skilled, Gentle Giant, Cowardly Lion, or Iron Butt Monkey. Padded Sumo Gameplay is what happens when everyone in a game is a Stone Wall.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This is the character trait of Green characters in Accel World. The Green King is known as The Invulnerable, is so durable he can only lose battles by time out, and regularly goes monster hunting alone (unfortunately, later in the story this makes him a frequent victim of The Worf Effect). Even lesser greens have similar durability, however, with the level one Lime Bell failing to even take Scratch Damage from people several levels higher than herself.
    • Interestingly some of the most powerful Reds have this trait as well, with Scarlet Rain, the red king, possessing her Immovable Fortress which withstood dozens of players attacking her at once, and Crimson Kingbolt having the ability to create a Giant Mecha out of scrap metal powerful enough to withstand a legendary monster
  • Yuuno Scrya from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a second or third tier combatant at most, not just because he's the only mage in the cast without a magic-boosting Device, but also because he doesn't have much talent at conventional offensive magic.note  However, his defenses are actually stronger than those of the Device-using mages (at least stronger than Nanoha's, by her own admission in the Sound Stages), which allows him to play the "Meat Shield" role and free them up to concentrate on offensive tactics. Once, though, he had to fight somewhat like a Berserker, throwing himself at Vita to keep her occupied. Even a wall is daunting when it's flying right at you. He didn't manage to hurt her, but she also failed to hurt him.
  • Vandread: Jura, a crab-like mech with astronomically powerful Deflector Shields. It can shield an entire planet against a far bigger and more powerful warship. Alternatively, it can encase itself and its allies in a shield and simply bash its way through an enemy formation. However, its short-range claws and many flying barriers are the only armament it has, so while an effective, defensive Barrier Warrior the Jura can't really destroy much of anything by itself, only knock it around and block it.
  • Yakumo of 3×3 Eyes is a berserker type meat shield (emphasis on the 'meat'), as all he has is the amazing power to not die; his job is to stand in front of attacks and be dismembered. He later learns how to fight effectively.
  • Zushi in Hunter × Hunter is able to form barriers to soften truck-force attacks to where he's unharmed by them (he can still be knocked down, though he can also soften the impact upon landing), but he can barely fight otherwise. The barrier is invisible to an untrained eye, so from the point of view of a Muggle, it looks like the boy is impervious to damage.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Kuwabara clearly takes this role in the main team, with Yusuke being the damage dealer, Hiei as the speedster and Kurama having the sharp mind. Kuwabara doesn't have highly damaging moves like the Spirit Gun or Dragon of the Darkness flame. However, you know you have good durability if you managed to still get up after being in a tug-o-war with Byakko's tigers, repeatedly thrown down to the stone stadium floor by Rinku and stabbed in over 10 different areas by the Elder Toguro.
    • Sensui recalls thus during his fight, mentioning playing an RPG where he maxed out his character before facing the final boss: he's so over-equipped that the boss can barely scratch him, but his attacks have long since hit the Damage Cap and he's facing a Damage-Sponge Boss, meaning even his 9999-damage attacks take many, many turns to bring the boss down. This related to the heroes facing him, because none of them could really hurt him either, but their Heroic Willpower was keeping Sensui from taking them down.
    • Yuu Kaito takes this trope to the next level with his "Taboo" ability: Within the territory activated by his power, no one can attack anyone else through violence, and the only way to "defeat" opponents is by wordplay, as speaking the word that is forbidden when Kaito himself sets up his ability causes one who says the forbidden word to lose his/her own soul, making him a literal Badass Pacifist.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: In comparison to some of the higher tiers of the series, Sanosuke can come off as this; his attacks aren't always the strongest (at least in comparison to Saitou or Kenshin), but his endurance is one of his most outstanding traits.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters, the Player Killer of Darkness (Panik in the dub) is noted to be one of these. Being a Dirty Coward, his main card is Castle of Dark Illusions, which has high defense, minimal attacking power, and makes his monsters impossible to attack. He also favors the use of Chaos Shield, which raises the defense of his monsters even further, but it locks his cards in place and keeps them from moving or attacking. This becomes his downfall, as it makes his strategy very inflexible.
    • Mukuro in the manga version of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds favors a Vehicle Deck. All his cards have 0 ATK, but due to the format he plays in (where the Duel is more of a race and attacking, even with a card with no ATK, slows the opponent down a little), he can win Duels by simply attacking once, then stalling until he wins the race.
    • The Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds anime had Team Taiyou, whose decks consisted primarily of low-level Normal Monsters, giving them no offense whatsoever outside of Speed World 2. Their strategy was to play Holding-Hands Majinn, a card that ups its DEF by that of all your monsters via The Power of Friendship and makes itself the target of all attacks, and Scrum Force, which keeps DEF-position monsters from being destroyed by card effects. This left them with an essentially unbreakable defense, letting them use the aforementioned Speed World 2 to chip away at the opponent and fulfill the requirements to summon Sleeping Giant Zushin.
  • The Bando Spiders in Eyeshield 21, especially before Akaba was allowed to play again. They mostly score on field goals and don't rack up big yardage, but their defense is smothering.
  • Assassination Classroom: Koro-sensei normally isn't a Stone Wall, but his last-ditch Ultimate Defense Technique takes the trope to an extreme: With an explosion, he condenses most of his body into a ball-shaped crystal barrier around him, which makes him totally invulnerable. The drawback is that for the next 24 hours, he's reduced to a talking head and can't move an inch on his own, let alone attack.
  • Darkness of KonoSuba is a Crusader, prioritizing defense over offense. She takes this to the extreme however; being so heavily invested in defense that it's almost impossible for her to actually hit anything with her sword because she doesn't put any of her skill points into offense or accuracy. That said, she's also a masochist, to the point that she ends up freaking out whomever she's fighting by going in great detail what she wants to have happen to her.
  • Murasakibara in Kuroko's Basketball, due to being over 2 metersnote  tall and really wide. It doesn't take him long to run from one end of the court to the other (when he actually bothers). Most of Yousen's regulars are over average height and are known for their strong defence, so much so that they're nicknamed the "Shield of Aegis", and have won several games by refusing to let their opponents score at all.
  • A Certain Magical Index plays with this: Kamijou Touma is a fairly skilled brawler with above-average strength, but his power Imagine Breaker, together with a limited form of precognition, not to mention him being insanely hard to kill, makes him the perfect shield against any type of magic or esper power. However, he can be harmed by conventional means (eg., anything that isn't supernatural like guns, knives, etc).
  • A rare main character example is Jilnote  from the The Tower of Druaga anime. His official job title is "Guardian", and he's got the toughness to live up to the name. He's capable of blocking just about anything with his shield, even catapult boulders,.note . However, near-indestructible as he may be even without his armor, his actual attacks start out lackluster and unable to get him too far into the tower, and he needs a lot of painful lessons to get out of this trope.
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Botamo can redirect energy that comes in contact with him to another dimension, allowing him to take attacks unharmed. There is no known upper limit to how much he can take, so for all intents and purposes, Botamo is invulnerable. However, he has only rudimentary skill in fighting, is very slow, and cannot fly. He also only fights in tournaments where he can be ringed out, which is exactly what his opponents do to him.
  • Another main character example is Naofumi Iwatani, the titular character of The Rising of the Shield Hero. As the titular Shield Hero, his legendary weapon is a shield, which, while leaving him near useless as far as offensive potential goes, gives him top-notch defense. He usually leaves offense to his party members- notably Raphtalia and Filo. Thoroughly averted when he unleashes the power of his Curse Series shield, which gives him enough firepower to shred bosses that the other heroes can barely inflict Scratch Damage on, though it comes with a risk of losing himself to his rage.
  • Taiju from Dr. STONE has superhuman endurance and strength and could potentially be a damn good fighter if it weren't for the fact that he's an Actual Pacifist who refuses to hurt anyone. He's more than willing to use his insane durability to shield and protect others, however.
  • From BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense we have another main character example: the main heroine Maple has every skill point she wins invested in VIT (Defense), resulting in a build that makes her almost invulnerable to most attacks. That is, she depends on pragmatism and creative use of her other skills to defeat even mook enemies.
  • Tia from Zatch Bell! starts the story with two defensive spells, a round shield and a bubble shield, plus a single attack spell so weak that a mamodo can block it with an arm. She later gains a sword that heals whatever it hits and an upgraded version of her bubble shield spell that surrounds the opponent instead and can reflect weaker attacks back at them. Until she finally gains a strong attack spell much later in the story, she has to rely on allies for attack power and act as their support to defeat any enemies, and even after gaining her strong attack she remains primarily a defender because it can only be used when she is extremely angry.
  • Buso Renkin: Captain Bravo's Silver Skin is said to have the greatest defensive abilities of any buso renkin but lacks any form of destructive offensive ability. While he does try to compensate for this weakness with impressive barehanded-combat skills, he is still unable to cause the level of destruction more offensive buso renkin are capable of.

    Card Games 
  • Quarriors: Defender of the Pale's attack will only sometimes barely defeat the basic Assistant dice, but have high Defense.
  • Little Alchemist: There are cards that have zero base Attack but high enough Defense to negate all but the most powerful attacks, including a literal Great Wall. It's still possible to (eventually) defeat an enemy who uses a lot of these cards, though, by setting your class to Elementalist and gradually whittling down their health with minor but unblockable combo damage dealt every turn.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Walls and other creatures with Defender are essentially this. By the very definition of the ability they can't attack and many deal little or no damage to enemy attacking creatures that they block. On the other hand, they can be very tough for a relatively low cost; the actual Wall of Stone card is a good example.
    • Among creatures that can actually attack, this is the defining trait of treefolk. Indomitable Ancients is the most extreme example: It can dish out 2 damage but can take up to 10 and has no other abilities. The card Doran, the Siege Tower is specifically designed to invert this and turn such creatures into powerhouses by making all creatures deal combat damage equal to their toughness instead of their power, a windfall for most treefolk.
    • Throughout Magic's history, there have been entire decks dedicated to turtling, creating an impenetrable defense that allows them to win through Scratch Damage or by forcing an opponent to run out the clock by running out of cards to draw. Snow White and Project X both seek to gain absurd amounts of life through combos, ensuring your opponent will never take you down to 0. The classic blue-white control deck has hardly any win conditions, but tons of removal and permission spells to keep them alive. And then there's...
    • Turbofog, everyone's least favorite Lorwyn-era tourney deck! It had very few creatures, defensive or otherwise, but stuffs itself with damage prevention, counterspells, control, life-gain, and just a few cards to recycle itself and increase its runtime. Its only win condition is to last so damn long that the opponent's deck runs out of cards (an instant lose), or more likely that the opponent simply loses patience and accepts their (eventual) defeat.
    • While all control decks are this trope to some degree, Blue-White control leans in the hardest. The traditional Blue-White control deck wants to run zero cards in the main deck whose only function is winning the game. Winning is instead handled by incidental effects, such as a land that can create token creatures or the ultimate of a Planeswalker that can win the game once the game is well under control. Some of these don't even require the deal damage to the opponent, winning by milling the opponent's library or explicit, "you win the game," text.
    • Multiplayer formats like Commander have given rise to the "pillowfort" strategy, which consists of building a nigh-impenetrable barrier of effects like Ghostly Prison that make actually attacking you so needlessly expensive in resources that your opponents will prioritise each other unless you are clearly just about to win. After all, if you've got 6 mana out, you want to use that mana to forward your strategy, not waste it on the multiple layered mana costs the pillowfort player forces you to pay just for looking at them funny.
  • Pokémon:
    • Shedinja makes a Stone Wall not out of itself, but the player: Shedinja does not count towards the 6 Pokémon to knock out to win a game, so someone packing a deck full of Shedinja would force the opponent into a war of attrition. Infamously during its time, a mirror match between Shedinja decks in the Long Beach Regionals went into overtime and remained in overtime for 90 minutes due to neither player being able to inflict a knockout that counted.
    • The Durant Mill deck can also be viewed as a case of this: It's not meant to attack, but to last long enough to completely deplete the opponent's deck, relying on a rule in which a player loses if his or her deck is empty at the beginning of his or her turn.
    • Before that was the Mewtwo Mulligan deck. Mewtwo had a move where you discard 1 Psychic Energy attached to it, and Mewtwo could not be affected by any of the opponent's attacks. As a result, a viable competitive deck popped up containing 1 Mewtwo and the rest Psychic Energy, to attach onto Mewtwo and be discarded each turn until the opponent's deck runs out. In addition, a Mulligan, hence the deck's name, is a rule in which if you don't have any usable Pokémon in your initial hand, your opponent draws a card. This rule made it very likely your opponent will have fewer cards in his or her deck than you, guaranteeing you a win later on. This strategy got so out of hand, as there were no real counters to it at the time, that the Mulligan rule was changed to make drawing the card optional to defang this deck.
    • Wailord EX decks that ran no energy at all became popular at one point and are still seen in the expanded format. The idea is to use various item cards to heal your Wailord and render your opponent unable to attach energy and damage it, until your opponent runs out of cards in their deck.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Rock-type is mainly geared toward Turtling play, as Rock-types tend to have low ATK and high DEF, as well as quite a few of them having the ability to flip into face-down Defensive Position. There was even a Rock-type Structure Deck at one point built entirely on building an uber-strong defense. Formerly shown above was Labyrinth Wall, which does nothing to most other monster cards on its own, but has 3000 DEF, meaning it can shrug off even an attack from Blue-Eyes White Dragon. This later evolved into the somewhat more aggressive Rock Stun; its offensive strategy was pretty much the "swing with Level 4 1900 beaters" tactic that'd gone out of fashion long ago, but it could shut down most anything the opponent did to stop those beaters from slowly hacking through their defenses and LP.
    • There are also cards like Spirit Reaper and Marshmallon, who simply can't be killed in battle, but have some of the worst stats in the game (though they often have some damaging effects, such as Spirit Reaper's attack-and-your-opponent-discards effect, and Marshmallon doing 1000 damage when attacked face-down).
    • Decks that focus on alternate win conditions look like this. Final Countdown Decks typically feature a crapload of defensive cards and not much else, and Burn or Mill Decks often completely ignore attacking the opponent in favor of stalling while they whittle down their resources. No presence, no offensive power... so they make it as hard as possible to get a hit in while they try to complete their own strategy.
    • Ghostricks have almost no attacking power whatsoever, and their fluff depicts them as a bunch of Creepy Cute benign spirits who play pranks on people, then run and hide — to that end, many of them are based around flipping themselves to face-down DEF. However, they also have a truly absurd number of cards based around blocking attacks, redirecting hits, or reducing damage, making getting a hit in on them fairly difficult. A game with a Ghostrick player can stretch out for quite a while. The archetype also has multiple ways of winning without making significant attacks, including Skeleton's milling, Warwolf's burn damage, and Angel of Mischief's instant win condition.
    • Herald of Perfection (and its upgraded form, Herald of Ultimateness) have subpar ATK for a Ritual of their level, but impressive DEF and the ability to negate any effect simply by discarding a Fairy. They can block pretty much anything the opponent tries, but they can't do much by themselves and eat up too much of your resources to support other strategies easily. Herald decks tend to be based on sitting on the guy while trying to assemble their own win condition.
    • Yubel has a rather nasty Attack Reflector ability, is indestructible by battle, and upgrades itself when destroyed by other means, but it has no stats at all and (in the real game) cannot use its effect while attacking, meaning you need to lure the opponent into hitting it.
    • Stardust Dragon's offensive stats are poor at best for a Level 8 Synchro, but its ability to block destruction-based effects by tributing and reviving itself gives it (and your other cards) much more survivability than others of its kind.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: Resistor is a free-floating emotional memetic field that — at times of strife — turns bystanders into energy beings who cast protective shields to protect others. This is Resistor's only power; they have no offensive capabilities whatsoever.
  • Brit: The eponymous character is an average-sized man of about 60 who is completely invulnerable to harm, thanks to a serum created by his father. Unlike many other invulnerable characters in the Image Comics universe, he has no other abilities, having the strength of a 60-ish-year-old man who works out.note 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • Turtle is incredibly durable, almost completely invulnerable to harm. However, his total lack of extraordinary offensive capabilities hardly wowed the Legion when he tried out, landing him and his Glass Cannon pal Sizzle in the Legion Auxiliary with the hope that they'll develop moves to compensate for their weaknesses.
    • Third-string member Laurel Kent is a distant descendant of Superman. Five hundred years down the line, those Superpowerful Genetics have been diluted to the point that her only remaining power is Kryptonian-level invulnerability. Defensively, she can walk off a nuke; offensively, she's a girl in her late teens with some martial arts training.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Diamond Lil, associated with Alpha Flight (as both hero and villain), is pretty much invulnerable, but not super-strong. She is a fair fighter and not at all slow, but wouldn't be much of a problem for true heavyweights because she just can't hit that hard.
    • Butterball/Boulder from Avengers: The Initiative is a fat young man whose power of being completely invulnerable to harm also makes his body immutable; he can't lose weight (except with a near-starvation diet), can't build muscle, doesn't get tired, and will never be able to develop any actual combat capabilities. He washed out of Camp Hammond and landed in the Shadow Initiative with minor league villains.
    • Captain America tends to fill this role in more high-powered stories. He's no slouch in terms of fighting skill, but his lack of Super-Strength means he needs to put in a lot of work to fight characters with any kind of enhanced durability. However, his signature shield can block pretty much anything, letting Cap survive for quite a while against characters way outside of his weight class.
    • Wolverine tends to occupy much the same territory in superpowered brawls as Cap, only replace 'can block anything' with 'can get up from anything'. Absurdly Sharp Claws and mid-tier Super-Strength are nice, but it's his Healing Factor and invulnerable skeleton that let him keep slicing away at the walking apocalypse of the week (who may or may not actually be named Apocalypse).
    • This is the main hook of C.F. in Deadpool. Supposedly standing for "Cannon Fodder" (although a strong argument can also be made for "Cluster Fuck"), he's... well, he's... incredibly malleable, with skin that's impossible to penetrate so much as stretch. He's hurt just as easily as anybody else, but no real lasting damage is done; he once proudly showed off a scar he received when he took an RPG to the stomach. He also has very little fighting skill and is pretty dumb.
    • Deadpool himself is another example. He'd be a Weak, but Skilled Badass Normal if it wasn't for his Healing Factor, which gives him the edge he needs against foes that are otherwise unbeatable by Puny Earthlings with an arsenal of bargain-brand weaponry.
    • Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy has had a couple different powersets through the years, but this has always been one of them. Because he never had the ability to overpower Thanos and ended up relying on this, his current incarnation has given up his original Flying Brick powers and just doubled down on his ridiculous durability, making him into an example of the berserking variant of this trope.
    • Night Raven is Nigh-Invulnerable and immortal, which allows him to survive his start from the 1930s and continue his crime-fighting into contemporary times. He's got no offensive powers, though, so he needs his revolvers and some good brawling skills to take out his targets.
    • In her diamond form, Emma Frost is more invulnerable than Colossus, the guy who's the usual tank for the X-Men. Unfortunately, by superhuman standards, she's a flyweight who can lift at most 2 tons in diamond mode and she loses her top tier mental powers when she's transformed. So in fights where she turns into diamond she'll go up against enemy heavy weights mostly to tank their hits and then turn her attentions to the enemies she can actually hurt.
  • In the Metal Men, this is the primary function of Lead: he flattens himself out to be a impenetrable barrier against any directed attack. He's explicitly noted to not be as strong as Iron is, and generally takes a defensive role; since lead as a metal is heavy but easy to deform, it only makes sense that he'd be good at taking it but too soft to dish it out.

    Comic Strips 
  • Hägar the Horrible: In this strip, Hagar faces an enemy knight whose thick armor makes him invulnerable to arrows, spears, and swords. However, since the knight has no sword or apparent means of attack, Hagar just walks right up to him and pushes him into a moat.

    Fan Works 
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: During the Second Battle of Axum, the Republic Navy deploys a trio of Mandator II-class star dreadnaughts from Kuat Drive Yards. At eight kilometers long, the Mandators are one of the few warships the Republic Navy has which can match the Imperium's gigantic capital ships in size and power. However, the Mandators are severely undergunned due to heavy armament restrictions placed on the ship's designers by the Ruusan Reformations. The ship designers compensated for this by focusing on drastically improving the energy output of the Mandator's shield generators. As a result, the Mandator has extremely powerful Deflector Shields capable of withstanding a prolonged barrage from Imperial warships (every other Republic ship normally goes down after taking a single hit from their Imperial counterparts). At one point during the Space Battle, the Imperial flagship rams the lead Mandator at full speed and fails to break through its shields.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): When making full use of his Grimm powers, Jaune is a Lightning Bruiser and one of the most dangerous individuals in the world. Unfortunately, he has to hide his powers at Beacon, leaving him with only his sword (which he is terrible with) and his ridiculously overpowered Aura. While he has no offensive power whatsoever and can't even dodge properly, he can just stand there taking hits for an hour until his opponent drops from exhaustion. During the Vytal Festival tournament, his team's main plan is to have Pyrrha (a championship tournament fighter) just handle everything, but their backup if they face a genuinely dangerous opponent is for Pyrrha to hide behind Jaune while he tanks the hits.
  • Promotion to Queen: Naofumi has no offensive ability as the Shield Hero, but his defenses are such that he uses an acid strong enough to melt bone to clean some monster blood off his hands.
  • Vow of Nudity: Whenever Haara decides to sacrifice dealing damage for survivability, she can become far more tanky than monks are usually able to by casting sanctuary, taking the Dodge action every turn, and healing herself for any attacks that still manage to break through. (It helps that her build also maximizes AC.)

    Films — Animated 
  • Violet of The Incredibles: near-impregnable defense thanks to her Barrier Warrior abilities, but she's hard-pressed to actually do anything to her aggressors. Somewhat averted in Incredibles 2, where she learns to use her force fields offensively, such as when she used them to hit a hypnotized Voyd so that she could prevent being hypnotized herself.
  • Po from Kung Fu Panda is a large Panda. He is slower than most of his allies and his opponents, and his own punches rarely hit hard, but Po's fat allows him to literally rebound many attacks and ignore otherwise debilitating hits. Even as his speed increases in the films, he still takes out most of his foes by hitting the enemy back with their own attacks.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied with the Black Knight of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Despite having all four of his limbs cut off, he still boasts that he's invincible... even though the protagonists only want to pass him. While he's (extremely) vulnerable to Arthur's sword, he still keeps trying to fight even after taking damage that a Looney Tunes character would deem excessive.
  • In Kick-Ass, the titular character is a Badass Adorable Action Survivor with no training for actual combat, but has metal plates in his bones as well as fucked up nerve endings that give him a very high tolerance for pain.
  • In Wagons East!, Harlow and Larchmont are both much better at taking damage than giving it. When they have a fistfight, the fight takes hours before Larchmont is defeated.
  • In The Fighter, boxer Micky Ward pulls a surprise win against a far more experienced boxer by spending the entire fight on the defense, soaking up punches from the other fighter, prompting the fight commentators to write him off as intimidated and hopelessly outmatched. In the last minute, with his opponent exhausted from constantly attacking and his guard down, Mickey hits him a devastating one-two punch that ends the fight.

  • The Pharaoh from Soon I Will Be Invincible. Though pathetic by most measures, he is something of a nuisance because his power (activated by his hammer) is complete immunity to injury. Even taking an artillery round head-on does nothing more than push him into the ground a few feet.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The lightsaber style of Soresu is essentially the Turtling variant of this trope, created to defend both against multiple blaster-wielding foes and single opponents. However, it requires both the endurance and the concentration to last until the opponent (finally) shows a weakness in their defense, or else it will merely delay the inevitable. Obi-Wan Kenobi is acknowledged in canon as the ultimate master of this technique ("not a master, the master"), and is said to be able to protect himself from up to twenty strikes per second in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith.
    • The Sun Crusher, from the Jedi Academy Trilogy, is a Lightning Bruiser against a planetary target, packing torpedoes with the ability to cause a sun to go supernova. Against other ships it is this trope; its hull is invulnerable, but since its ship-to-ship weapons protrude from the hull, they tend to get taken out early in any given fight leaving it with no method of dealing damage save ramming.
  • In The Reckoners Trilogy, Jonathan Phaedrus is this, with one ability that's good for protecting from harm (a forcefield), one ability good for recovering from harm (a Healing Factor), and one ability that's good for escaping and disabling an enemy's weapons ( the ability to disintegrate non-organic matter). But when it comes to offense he's reduced to guns and making an Improvised Weapon by carefully disintegrating steel to create a sword or knife. During the final battle of the first book, he acts as a tank, battling Steelheart, who he's incapable of damaging, while the others try to find his Achilles' Heel. This changes in the second and third books, as he demonstrates that he's capable of much greater versatility with his forcefields, using them to enclose and crush people and to create spears of hard light. He always had these abilities, but chose not to use them until his sanity was overcome by the effects of his powers.
  • In the Ken MacLeod novel Newton's Wake, the Search Engines used by the Carlyle's "combat archaeologists" are large tracked vehicles with an almost impregnable hull and top-of-the-line firewall software to prevent posthuman Brown Note attacks from affecting the crew. However, search engines have no offensive armaments whatsoever. Lucinda Carlyle gets a rude surprise when a supposedly backwater Lost Colony has a platoon-level support weapon that can punch straight through a search engine.
  • In The Malazan Book of the Fallen, the marine Lt. Tarr strikes at the same speed he talks — which is very slow. And that's if he decides to fight, he dislikes combat and had a reputation of going hours in a battle without doing a single attack. However he's a genius with a shield and wears a lot of armor, making him almost impossible to tag even by elite warriors. His drill sergeant once attacked him for over an hour and couldn't land a single hit.
  • Harry Potter: Severus Snape is distinctive from most Death Eaters in that while most of them are more aggressive, Snape primarily uses defensive spells, only going on the offensive when his opponent is tired and started making mistakes or if he was facing an incompetent duelist. To give an example, most his duel with Harry Potter in the sixth book is Harry throwing curse after curse at Snape and Snape parrying them all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cobra Kai has four noteworthy examples:
    • Aisha, from the namesake dojo, favors the turtle-and-soak strategy, which involves a lot of defense. As soon as her opponent loses steam from attacking or otherwise falters, she issues one or two blows to end the match.
    • Chris is one to let the opponent launch first, then respond, in line with his sensitive and peaceful nature. In most other respects, he is the Spear Counterpart of Aisha, right down to their build.
    • Demetri and Sam, with their thinner builds, turn Weak, but Skilled into an art form. Though they usually fall prey to the first attack in a confrontation and do not do well on offense, they are so patient and tenacious that they can often surprise more powerful opposition (Hawk and Tory in the school brawl).
  • Unit19G is nearly impossible to make flinch (to the point where he can withstand 5000 degrees centigrade), but he isn't too great on the offense.
  • In the UK robot fighting tournament Robot Wars, Bigger Brother was this trope. The robot's pneumatic flipper had some punch but was nothing special in a tournament where most robots had mechanisms to help them flip back over, but it was armoured with steel which was successively thickened and reinforced over the years and even boasted a thick rear shield made of cobalt-titanium; even Razer and Hypnodisc, both known as The Dreaded for their highly destructive weapons, did absolutely nothing against it. The robot was also intentionally designed to have a decent gap between the plating and the internals so anything that did penetrate would be unlikely to hit anything vulnerable. In a famous match against the former, Hypnodisc ripped off Bigger Brother's flipper and shredded its armour, and Bigger Brother still beat it.
    • In the reboot series, there was also Cherub - a lifter designed originally to do handstands, it never effectively used its one weapon. However, it took ludicrous amounts of damage, including being trapped under the arena flipper, and still ran. It got through to that episode's final, mostly thanks to excellent driving.
  • BattleBots has its fair share too:
    • The aptly-named Turtle has no weapons but is a wedge on all sides (meaning opponents and their weapons are more likely to slide over it) and has some rather tough armor, tough enough to be the first bot to have ever broken the spinning blades of 3-time champion Hazard (which demolished most of its other opponents in that and following years).
    • Zion is a simple rectangular wedge (though it later had an arm that slowly moved upward) but was one of the few middleweight bots to have never been knocked out—every match Zion participated in had it remaining in working order to the end, even the rumbles in which many bots face each other (and it was picked on in its first one)—in other words, there was absolutely nothing in its weight class capable of taking it down, including two fights against Hazard. Pretty impressive for a bot created out of a church's youth group program.
    • DUCK! only has a small, ineffective flipper as its primary weapon, but because it is so ridiculously durable, it simply outlasts enemy bots that break themselves when attacking it. It has advanced to the late stages of tournaments in spite of always being the underdog due to its lack of offense.
    • Gruff takes DUCK!'s place when DUCK! isn't around. It has a metal rack that can move up and down but is relatively weak for this sort of weapon, and while it has the hottest flamethrowers in the competition, they damage slowly over time and no sane opponent will allow their bots to remain in Gruff's flames for long. Instead, Gruff carries durability almost as high as that of DUCK! and has earned a reputation for breaking hard-hitting weapons on bots it goes up against, most notably Bloodsport, which was considered a nearly unstoppable whirlwind of destruction up to when they faced each other in the 2019 competition. Like DUCK!, Gruff has also had a stellar record in robot combat events, both BattleBots and otherwise, having most recently reached the Consolation Finals in RoboGames 2018.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data challenges a grand master to the fictional game Strategema and loses quite badly. In their rematch, Data rethinks his strategy, no longer playing to win but only seeking to prolong the game as long as possible until his organic opponent's finite patience gives out and he quits the game in disgust.

    Play By Post Games 
  • Achilles from Fate/Nuovo Guerra is Nigh-Invulnerable (save the Achilles' Heel), has a mystical shield, and possesses high speed. Her spear, on the other hand, is nothing special outside a curse that creates unhealing wounds, and though her strength is superior, it's nothing special compared to other heroic spirits like Mordred and Uther.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During his run in the WWF to create interest in the 1989 movie No Holds Barred, Tiny Lister reprised his role as that movie's Zeus – an unbeatable man-monster who could withstand all offense from the world's best wrestlers without so much as flinching. He wasn't necessarily the largest or even strongest wrestler the WWF had, but the combination of his No-Sell and Bear Hug could theoretically outlast anyone. In in-ring confrontations prior to SummerSlam 1989, the trope was fully enforced, but once he got in actual matches, it was averted; eventually, by taking enough punishment following an eye poke, Zeus would be worn down and set up for defeat.
  • Road Block in WCW. Slow, clumsy, not a particularly devastating striker or technician, but so fat that almost no strike could hurt him and few wrestlers were strong enough to move him.

  • Cricket:
    • The traditional role of the opening batsmen is to play defensively and hang around and blunt the initial barrage of the opposition's fast bowlers in order to set up the team's innings, often scoring quite slowly. (In)famous "Stonewallers" include Bill Lawry for Australia and Geoffrey Boycott for England. However, in recent years, ODI and Twenty20 cricket especially have featured more aggressive openers, as the strategy has been to exploit the fielding restrictions that are in place early in the innings. Making something of a comeback in Test matches: England in particular have capitalized on the "dropping attention span" of some of their opponents: witness the efforts of their current top order, Andrew Strauss, Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott. Though granted, all three of them score faster than Boycott did.
    • Bowlers can also be Stone Walls, looking more to dry up runs and pressure batsmen into making mistakes than take wickets through attacking bowling. In an inverse of the situation in batting, this type of bowler is more popular in T20 and ODI than in Tests.
    • And finally, fielders - many cricket fans have seen shots that looked like they were certain to go for four stopped by spectacular saves from a fielder. South Africa's Jonty Rhodes was particularly well known for this.
  • "Turtle-balling" is a common tactic in American Football, in which the offense does just enough to gain a lead of more than one score, then uses a combination of stifling defense and a relentless running game as a player being tackled in the field of play keeps the game clock running. Thus prevented the opponent from catching up. Bill Cowher, the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach in the 1990s and early 2000s, perfected the technique. When Cowher's team built a lead of 11 or more points at any time in the game, victory was practically guaranteed. Cowher's teams found themselves in this situation 104 times during his tenure; they won 102 of those times.
  • William Felton Russell. He didn't score much and his shooting percentages were mediocre, but he is an 11-time NBA champion, 5-time MVP and widely considered the greatest defender in NBA history.
  • Baseball:
    • Pitchers in the National League. The pitcher generally has a very low batting average (though some have one that rivals other position players), and often a low speed, too, but they are the standard bearer for the defense to the point of being analogous to a goalkeeper. The position is so specialized that the American League has a rule that you are permitted to have one designated hitter to hit in place of one defensive player without taking him out of the game — virtually everybody chooses to bat for the pitcher. The one major exception since the introduction of the DH in the 1980's is San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgardner, and he is considered extremely remarkable because of how unusual it is for a pitcher to hit as well as he has.
    • Catchers are generally either this or a Mighty Glacier; squatting so much tends to ruin your knees, making them rather slow on the bases so their offensive capabilities tend to be limited to raw power. Defensively, the catcher is The Lancer to the pitcher, because the catcher must catch (or at least secure) strike three in order to complete a strikeout, pitches that are not fouled off by the batter are live (and so runners can attempt to advance before, during or after a pitch) and because the catcher's job is to guard home plate. Pitchers get credited for wins like goalkeepers, but catchers look the part because of the protective gear.
  • Boxing:
    • The rope-a-dope strategy, as best seen in the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Wait against the ropes, guard the face, taunt during clinches, throw occasional jab to opponent. Repeat until opponent is tired, then start delivering a smackdown. Ali did this in the aforementioned Rumble by getting Foreman to tire himself out in the first few rounds, then laying into Foreman with powerful punches until Foreman hit the canvas.
      • This strategy is called the 'outboxer' style: keep your guard up, wait for your opponent to make a mistake, then let them have it. Despite his well-earned reputation for his punching power in Badass Boasts, Ali was a master of this style, leading him to winning multiple World Heavyweight Championship belts in boxing.
    • In the 1980 heavyweight fight between Randall 'Tex' Cobb (who had one of the most durable chins in the history of boxing) and Earnie Shavers (widely regarded as the hardest puncher in heavyweight history) Cobb, who was not known for great offense, won the fight by simply walking through Shavers' punches until Shavers tired and Cobb was able to knock him out.
    • Boxing has also seen a number of fighters over the years who specialize in defense to the point of being all but untouchable, and only need to use a minor amount of offense because their opponent simply can't land anything on them. A few such fighters include Willie Pep, Niccolino Locche, Wilfredo Benitez, Pernell Whitaker, and Floyd Mayweather. Muhammad Ali was this at times, mostly in his youth, and even Mike Tyson, who was most famous for his power, showed some of this ability as well.
    • Canadian boxer George Chuvalo, was famous for his ability to take a beating from anybody. He stayed in the ring with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman, and was never knocked down. After his first match against Ali, which he lost on points, Chuvalo joked that "Sure, I lost the match. But afterwards, Ali went to the hospital with bleeding kidneys, and I went out dancing with my wife."
    • Joe Grim could barely box like a true professional, but could take a beating from nearly any boxer. In fact, he won his matches by letting his opponents wail away at him until they get too exhausted to fight any longer and punching them out with all his might. Research also showed that his skull was twice as thick around the brain as an average human skull.
  • Seanbaby describes Mixed Martial Arts fighter Kazuyuki Fujita as one of these, noting that his sole fighting assets were "a clumsy takedown and a forcefield where his brain's reflexes should be." He was a fairly inept physical combatant despite his natural strength, but he was also infamous for being virtually impossible to knock down. He tangoed with some of the best MMA fighters of his day, rarely getting in any hits, but also surviving blows that would have sent lesser men sprawling. Similar to Joe Grim, he often took home wins because the opponent was too exhausted to keep going - in his match against Ken Shamrock, he won when Shamrock started having heart palpitations.
    "I am not so great a puncher, not so great a kicker. I don't really have anything all that great, but in today's vale tudo, the strongest is the one that can take a beating."
  • The tactic of "flooding" in Australian Rules Football is a version of this, having so many players around the ball and likely opposition targets that the opposition can't get a clean possession. The Sydney Swans are noted exponents of this, while in the 2013 Preliminary Final, Fremantle did it well enough to beat Sydney at their own game.
  • In judo, even if "excessively defensive posture" is one of the violations to warrant a penalty, there are cases where one fighter employs this, bordering on not attacking at all, to win by forcing the other contestant to go down on accumulated penalties - including, ironically, "lack of combativity".
  • Association Football:
    • When he was still active as a football manager, this was what defined Tony Pulis' template for the teams he organised. It was often billed as an ultra-pragmatic style of football, utilising two DEFENSIVE banks of four, with the second striker often falling back into midfield to create a defensive overload across the length of the pitch - meaning that at any point that his team wasn't in possession, the opponent would have NINE players with their backs to their own goal at all times. Further reading on 'Pulisball' here.
    • "Parking the Bus" is a term used to describe teams that after gaining a lead, drop almost all of their players back behind midfield for defense. Chelsea (during the Mourinho era) made this their primary strategy in the English Premier League. Ironically enough, "Parking the Bus" is a phrase that is attributed to Jose Mourinho himself, in criticism of teams which played against his squad using this strategy.
    • Some teams or managers put defense above all things, a tactic known in Italian as Catenaccio (literally "door bolt"), which was most famously used by Helenio Herrera's Inter Milan of the Sixties and Marcello Lippi's World Cup-winning Italy side in 2006, albeit in a vastly updated form. Another common term, coined by former Chelsea coach José Mourinho, is "parking the bus" for the occasions where everyone is put in front of the goal. Prevalent national teams that follow(ed) this are Switzerland — the "Catenaccio" was even first known as "Swiss Bolt"; in The World Cup in 2006, they were eliminated without conceding a single goal in four games — and Ireland — in three World Cups, tied 8 out of 13 games, scored and conceded 10 goals, only once scored more than one goal, and highest amount against was 2.
    • The goalie is the only player allowed to touch the ball with their hands, allowing them to defend the goal in ways literally no one else can do. However, they also never are far from the goal itself, cannot provide any offensive pressure, and are never in a position to score a goal themselves. They also still need to be fast enough to react and move in a position to stop score attempts.
  • American Football:
    • There is a common saying: "Offense wins hearts, Defense wins championships". Needless to say, many teams have made and won the Super Bowl with a crummy or average offense (and a no-name Quarterback) but a good Defense. There have been names coined to collectively describe those defensive units in American football lore; to name a few, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the "Steel Curtain", the New York Giants had the "Big Blue Wrecking Crew", the Minnesota Vikings had the "Purple People Eaters", and the Seattle Seahawks had the "Legion of Boom". Other codifiers include the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
    • On offense, guards' and tackles' main job is to protect the quarterback while he attempts to throw a pass and to provide some holes for the running back to go through and gain some critical yardage. Their opponents are typically defensive linemen and linebackers who will most likely try to disrupt the QB by either sacking him or force a turnover by having him fumble the ball and also try to prevent RBs from gaining yardage for either a fresh set of downs or a touchdown. On rare occasions, guards and tackles might also have to watch out for defensive backs like safeties and cornerbacks as they can sometimes be used to surprise the offensive linemen to get to the QB.
  • The Neutral Zone Trap in ice hockey could become an effective version of this in a usually fast-paced sport. When a team used the trap, often to protect a lead, their five mobile players would all move into the neutral zone and force the other team to try and muscle their way through, which rarely worked, or just dump the puck into the defensive team's end and hope they could get to it first. An Obvious Rule Patch was later implemented in several leagues to make it harder to successfully use the trap to slow down the game; one of the reasons the trap worked was because a rule prevented a pass from being made from behind a team's blue line past the center (red) line, preventing long passes that could circumvent the trap. That rule was removed, allowing teams to break out more easily.

    Tabletop Games 

Board Games

  • Backgammon: One of the most common strategies in the game is to build a string of points occupied by two or more of your stones, with the hope of trapping an opponent's stone behind them. A string of six such points is an impenetrable barrier so long as you can make it last. This is a particularly crushing tactic if you have an opponent's blot on the bar, and the Stone Wall is located exactly on the opponent's entry points. It is basically necessary to do this in order to get a Gammon or Backgammon.
  • Chess:
    • Depending on how they're deployed, pawns can become this. Although they're slow and not dynamic in attack, their numbers and ability to support each other in adjacent rows can be used to create defensive formations that are impossible to penetrate with more dangerous attacking pieces at anything less than self-defeatingly high costs.
    • A prophylactic move is one that, rather than playing to improve your attacking chances, limits the opponent's opportunities. The former world champion Tigran Petrosian is a notable example; while he had fewer wins than other world champions, he had almost no losses, even going through 1962 without losing a single tournament game.
  • Diplomacy: This is the usual strategy for Italy since it's surrounded on three sides by water and land-based attack routes from the north are hampered by impassable Switzerland. These geographic features make both attacking Italy and Italy attacking anyone difficult — in tournament play it is statistically both the least likely country to win and the least likely country to be eliminated outright.
  • Risk: A common strategy is to conquer Australia, which has only a few, easily controlled entry points, and then sit there and build up troops while everyone else weakens each other. Since Australia only has one path in and out, massing all the troops on one territory makes it almost impossible to conquer without using every last one of your available armies. You have to take out Australia within the first few rounds or you're screwed. (No wonder Lex Luthor wanted it.) However, it also only shares a border with Asia, which very few players go for, meaning that it is logistically difficult for an Australia player to put their troops in a position to accomplish much on offense.
  • Small World: When priestesses go into decline, they consolidate all their remaining troops into a literal tower of tokens on a single space, with the full defensive and point bonuses of its component pieces.
  • Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization: One of the Age 3 leaders is Mahatma Gandhi. A player who has Gandhi in play is not allowed to play Aggressions or Wars himself, but anyone trying to attack him has to spend twice as many military actions to do so.

Role-Playing Games

  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy:
    • It's perfectly possible to invest points on just defense and/or the wear armor ability and/or hit points, with the Weaponmaster archetype being the one that has easier to become thisnote .
    • As far as the magic paths go, this is the combat modus operandi of the Creation path. Heals, regeneration, resistance boosts (both status and elemental), extra maximum health, powerful shielding, cannon fodder minion spawning that also tends to be most competent defensively, and more besides; on the flip side, Creation has no damage spells and very few aggressive spells at all (and most of those can also double as buffs).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Anyone making use of a one-handed weapon and a held shield in D&D is a lesser example of this trope regardless of their class, suffering a substantial loss of offensive power compared to a two-handed weapon. (D&D is also subject to the Armor Is Useless trope in many editions, thereby negating the point of such an approach. In 4th edition, however, it was a viable strategy; some characters equipped with shields could render themselves virtually impossible to hit in two defenses.)
    • The "Lockdown" build, which wields a long-reach weapon, focuses on making attacks of opportunity in response to as many types of action as possible, then uses them to deliver nondamaging attacks which halt movement. While it will take a Lockdown user longer to defeat his enemies than one that counterattacks normally, it means he can keep Close Range Combatants from getting close enough to attack him, and prevent Long Range Fighters from getting far enough away to do the same.
    • The Knight class from the 3.5 Player's Handbook II is a meatshield type- their offensive skills are not much compared to a Fighter, but have the Knight's Challenge mechanic, allowing them such tricks as forcing all moderately-powerful enemies to attack the Knight in preference to any other party member or cause all less-than-moderately-powerful enemies to cower in fear. Exaggerated with their capstone ability, the appropriately-named "Loyal Beyond Death". If a knight takes enough damage to kill them (without running afoul of the Chunky Salsa Rule), they can spend a challenge use to simply refuse to die, and act normally for one more round. This can go on until they finally run out of challenge uses and suffer Critical Existence Failure.
    • The Spring Attack feat line allows a character to attack in the middle of their move, and it requires both decent Dexterity and two feats that boost Armor Class. Because of this, it makes the character tricky to attack and hard to hit when they do get attacked. However, it also heavily drops damage, since you only get one attack per turn while on the move, and it takes up feats that could be used to boost your strength. It's mostly not favored, since while kiting the opponent to death sounds appealing, it takes so much longer than the alternative that the enemy can simply ignore the Spring Attacker and eat the rest of the party in the meantime.
    • Monks in 3.x are often seen as this. Though their hitpoints are average, pushing everything to their defensive stats can make them impressively survivable, their saves are great, they're very fast, they receive Spell Resistance and Evasion, and they're among the few characters that can consistently dodge Touch-based attacks. However, their damage (especially while using their superior mobility) is decidedly below average, and pushing those points into Dexterity and Wisdom leaves little room for Strength, which makes things even worse. A common joke about monks is that they're the best class in the game for surviving, and not much else.
    • The Survivor Prestige Class has a number of handy defensive abilities and good save bonuses, but it's the only class in the game to have no Base Attack Bonus at all.
    • Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting: The Path of the Juggernaut is a Barbarian subclass whose features mainly involve making the Barbarian immune to status conditions, imposing status conditions on enemies, and destroying environmental hazards rather than increasing the Barbarian's damage output in combat.
    • Nentir Vale: The Defender role's job is to be the first in the line of battle and draw enemies into concentrating on attacking them and not the squishier members of the party. Unlike most Stone Walls, however, Defenders aren't too shabby about dishing out pain themselves. And they have to be! A defender consists of basically two parts: his defenses (armor, defenses, hit points, regeneration abilities and so on) and his "stickyness". The stickyness considers how likely enemies are to actually focus on the defender, so he has to be able to dish out the pain so that the enemy is punished for ignoring him. In an ideal situation this is the equivalent of a lose-lose situation for the attacker — either they have to try and hit the high AC of the defender instead of the squishier rogue or they can try a swing at the rogue and risk allowing the defender a free hit.
  • Exalted: It's very simple to build an Exalt like this, since defensive and offensive skills and abilities are bought separately — there is nothing stopping you from investing your entire divine power into defense, becoming all but completely untouchable, while still remaining completely rubbish at attacking. note 
  • Legend of the Five Rings: Most things pertaining to the element of Earth result in this, ranging from the Earth Ring governing one's maximum health to the Earth Ring's component stats having to do with physical and mental resilience to a ton of magical effects related to Earth providing fairly large chunks of damage reduction in an otherwise rather lethal setting. The more pacifistic among the Earth Shugenja are prone to exploiting this, simply responding to violence by armoring themselves up and waiting for the aggressor to give up once it becomes obvious they're not accomplishing anything.
  • Mutants & Masterminds: It's relatively easy to build a character with the Immunity power cranked up to the point that you're immune to all damage, or the Immortality power cranked up to the point that you come back from the dead the turn after dying. However, this eats up so many points that the character is unlikely to be able to do much else. It largely isn't considered broken, since there are many methods to deal with an invulnerable character (for instance, teleporting them a hundred miles away, mindcontrolling them, or trapping them in a forcefield).
  • Pathfinder:
    • Bastion archons are a fairly literal take, being literally composed of living rock. Their primary purpose is to protect specific sites and prevent those who would harm them from getting past them, and they are very good at it. They are literally impossible to move once their plant themselves down, they have high health and automatic healing and they can cast spells such as blade barrier and wall of stone to place physical barriers in their foes' way. They are also highly sedentary beings, and the most difficult part of dealing with one is to convince it to budge from where it is now — most bastion archons spend their eternal lives guarding the very location where they were created.
    • Sacred Shields, a paladin archetype, replace their ability to smite evil with an ability that makes it so their allies suffer less damage from a designated enemy, their energy channel is changed with sharing his shield with all nearby allies and they bond with their shield instead of a weapon or mount.
  • Warhammer RPGs:
    • Deathwatch: Dark Angels characters tend towards this, with abilities that trade movement ability for heightened defenses, temporary health and improved firing capabilities. Additionally, their Librarians get a psychic power that grants them massive amounts of armor as long as they don't move.
    • Mordheim: Dwarf warbands are incredibly durable: they're tougher than humans, elves or skaven, get cheap Gromril armour in the early game, and are half as likely to be taken out by a single hit (normally it's 5+; dwarves need a 6). However, while they don't suffer the move penalty due to heavy armour, that's because their base movement score is low and basically everyone is faster than they are.
    • Only War: The Severan Dominate know that they have no way to compete against the Imperium's vastly superior resources and manpower, so their ultimate strategy is to hunker down and make the Imperial Guard bleed for every inch they take. If they manage to hold out for long enough, the Imperium will likely be attacked elsewhere by some other threat like Chaos, da Orks or the Dark Eldar/Drukhari and the higher-ups will "give up" on retaking the Dominate to prioritise the new threat. In gameplay this means usually that Dominate forces will have the Home Field Advantage against The Squad.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Princess: The Hopeful: The Courts of Clubs and Tears have access to a number of Charms that boost their defense or penalize their enemy's offense, but relatively few Charms to boost their own damage. This is also a matter of philosophy: Clubs prioritizes harmony and doesn't like hurting others unless it's absolutely necessary, while Tears is all about prioritizing your survival and that of your chosen allies above all else.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Certain Gifts allow for this; there is in fact a specific Steel Fur Gift for Glass Walkers that triples the size of the wolf using it and makes them into a giant defensive wall for their pack, complete with pointy, sharp fur. Usually this is more of a deterrent and leaves the wolf with no attacking ability, but a pack with enough sufficiently strong wolves can then push their large, prickly packmate down inclines and towards unhappy targets.
  • The Yellow King: Due to weak musculature and skeletons composed mostly of cartilage, harbor masters attack poorly but are freakishly hard to hurt or kill. Their bodies absorb the force of most blows, including the killing impact of bullets.

War Games

  • BattleTech: Humongous Mecha that go the route of a stone wall are often called "zombies"; mounting as much heavy armor as possible, using damage-resistant equipment like the Compacy Fusion Engine and small cockpits, and eschewing high-damage weapons that run the risk of damaging the operator such as Gauss Rifles with their infamous Made of Explodium nature. The Word of Blake's advanced Celestial series mechs are zombies, mounting surprisingly weak weapons for their tonnage but making up for it in durability.
  • Blood Bowl: Nurgle. Every player worth his salt has high AV, ignores one in six blocks and regenerates from injuries, the team can throw cheap rotters at opponents in hu- errr, rotter wave attacks, their Big Guy starts with one of the greatest "roadblock" skills, and half the team has skills that makes the idea of passing around them a sad joke, making them very good at defending against opposing drives. On offence, they're a slower and less agile Chaos team with dead weight players that are useless for anything but marking, no ball handling skills, and an unreliable and slow Big Guy.
  • Iron Kingdoms:
    • Men-O-War Drakhuns' opponents will struggle to put this man and his horse into the graveyard before he's able to wreak havoc on the field. Despite this, the Drakhun is an expensive model that brings only one reliable attack to the field. This means he's a model of attrition at his core, but, if you want a model that can take a wallop and dish it out against a few specific models, it doesn't get much more elite than the Man-O-War Drakhun.
    • Paladins of the Order of the Wall can forfeit their movement or action to enter the aptly named Stone-and-Mortar stance, which bumps their armor into the high end of heavy warjack numbers.
    • High Paladin Dartan Vilmon takes it to a whole new level with his Impervious Wall stance; for the same cost, he becomes immune to knockdowns and non-magical attacks. Combine the two and he can neither move nor attack, but he will hold his position against a small army. When Vilmon has Impervious Wall and Stone-And-Mortar Stance active he has armor higher than all but the most powerful of Warjack's and is immune to almost every weapon capable of getting through it.
  • Kings of War: Dwarfs tend to have low Speed stats but good Defence — even their most fragile combat units tend to have a Defence equal to a mainline elven unit, and 5+ and 6+ Defence scores are not uncommon. They also get Headstrong across the board, making them resistant to wavering. They're not as slow as the Warhammer Dwarfs they're inspired by, at least, since they have a higher base Move value and access to cavalry.
  • Leviathans: The Great War: This is the hat of Germany. Their leviathans are the slowest of any nation's and can't match the guns of Britian or France, but their armor and structural integrety is fantastic. A German formation can fly through considerable fire in order to get into the range of its guns and turn the tables on its much more fragile opponent.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Due to their Heavy Worlder origins, their preference for heavy, customized armor, and their dedication to the Promethean Cult that teaches patience and stoicism, Salamander forces are often less mobile than those of other Space Marines but are much harder to displace when they are committed, and many editions give them special rules and abilities perfect for defensive actions. On the other hand, the Salamanders' plethora of powerful, short-ranged weapons such as flamers and meltas, coupled with their skill at defences, mean that they also excel at certain long-game tactics, particularly when assaulting through close terrain.
    • The Necron character Nemesor Zahndrekh is mediocre on the offense, but between his excellent saves and special rules he can tank hits until the metaphorical cows come home. Additionally, any enemy he's pinned down in melee is at risk of having Zahndrekh's bodyguard Obyron teleport in and cut them in half.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Dwarfs have solid line infantry with high toughness, high armour and good leadership, making them tough to shift. However, they're very slow and have no cavalry or magic outside of magic items. The typical dwarf strategy is to bunker down and use their infantry lines to protect their powerful artillery, making up for their low mobility with their cannons' range.
  • X-Wing Miniatures: Y-Wings have a mediocre two-die main attack, only Agility 1, and a remarkably bad move dial, but 8 total hull and shield. Getting Y-Wings to actually hurt people reliably generally requires buying either a turret or a couple of racks of torpedoes, and getting them to move at speed reliably basically requires you to be playing Scum and Villainy.

    Visual Novels 
  • Valeria Trifa, the acting commander of the Longinus Dreizehn Orden from Dies Irae is in possession of the Divine Vessel, the physical body of their leader Reinhard. This grants him defenses unrivaled by anyone else but the man himself. His attacks by contrast are rather slow and not very powerful, resulting in him most of the time just letting his opponents hit and bounce off him while sneaking in a counter attack every now and again. Should he unleash his Creation Figment though, then his defenses will flip, turning him into a Glass Cannon instead.

  • Grrl Power: Achilles' only superpower is that he's invincible. He can shrug off attacks that would destroy matter on the subatomic level' kind of invincible. He is functionally super strong as well (his invincibility allows him to use his muscles with more strength than a normal human could without injury) but it's nothing impressive compared to people with real super strength.
  • Kid Radd: Sheena is an NPC who only appeared in cutscenes in her original game, and thus is completely invincible since she was never coded to take damage. She's also completely incapable of attacking anyone, because she was never coded to do that either. It's not until she inadvertently fuses with herself from her game's sequel in which she's Promoted to Playable that she has the ability to switch to that form and finally have offensive options (at the cost of losing her invincibility.)
  • The Order of the Stick: O-Chul has spent his entire career taking every survivability feat possible. This pays off when he get captured and tortured to the brink of death for months on end, gaining valuable intelligence on the enemy's capabilities in the process. As a paladin he sees himself as a protector first and an attacker second. Of course, this isn't to say that he's especially weak on the offense side, and he has on occasion lamented the fact that the act of using these durability feats naturally means having to put himself through pain.
    O-Chul:A lot of people are going to get hurt tomorrow. All we can do is stand in the way of that and say, "Not them. Me. If you need to hurt someone, hurt me.
  • Yosh!: Phil has an amazing ability to recover from injuries and Anti-Magic, but doesn't actually know how to fight.

    Web Original 
  • TierZoo treats real life animals and how well they survive as Character Tiers in an MMO "game", and there are naturally some builds (species) that have high defensive but lower offensive stats:
    • Geese have abysmal offensive capability but surprisingly good health and mobility which makes them annoying to take down. They pair this with an intimidation build to troll their opponents. This however makes them rather poor in a city meta, where they are only D-tier because their only threat is in their intimidation, and most builds who can resist it will easily beat them.
    • Porcupines. Their build has an abysmally low attack stat, low HP, poor stealth and slow mobility. However, their defense stat is sky-high thanks to their Quills ability that hurts melee attackers and causes damage over time.
    • Surprisingly, the video on turtles shows them zig-zagging this. While there are a few turtles that play into the stereotype of being tough but slow, such as the tortoise, several of the turtles shown either have great aquatic mobility or can deliver sizeable damage with their bite.
    • Baleen whales have the highest HP stat in the game thanks to their massive size, but their main weapon in their baleen is only good at killing krill and is ineffective against anything larger. That said, they do have a decent attack stat, since a Tail Slap from a whale is still very painful.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "The Homer They Fall", Homer is revealed to be a Stone Wall, with Dr. Hibbert noting that his brain has a fluid cushion around it that acts like a football helmet. He can withstand constant blows from his boxing opponents, but is a very weak fighter. He wins fights only by waiting for his opponents to become exhausted, and then pushing them over. However, upon confronting Drederick Tatum this tactic fails, as the Tyson Expy is heavyweight champion and easily capable of hitting hard enough to knock out Homer.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The title character has the power to create shields both of the weapon and bubble variety that, combined, can withstand even the strongest Gem weaponry. Unfortunately, he does not have any meaningful offensive abilities, so his teammates must end fights for him. This changes in the third season, when he begins to develop a few offensive abilities, including a spike version of the his shield and greater physical strength.
    • Peridots, at least modern ones, are very durable but possess no other exceptional physical abilities without the aid of technology. Given they're a Servant Race of technicians, this durability was probably protection against mechanical accidents. The Peridot the cast are familiar with discovered ferrokinesis strong enough to impale another gem with an iron bar, so she's not exactly toothless anymore.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "Courage vs. Mecha-Courage", he was put in a battle at the coliseum against the aforementioned Mecha-Courage. Needless to say, Courage has no skills as a fighter and is predictably beaten to a pulp. However, Mecha-Courage was the one who fell down at the final round since Courage is so determined to take a beating that it wore the robotic mutt out of its batteries.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, waterbending is a primarily defensive art. Waterbenders do not have the more typically aggressive offensive moves, instead focusing on redirecting their opponents' moves away from themselves, and most of their offense comes from their defense by turning their opponents' energy against them. In the context of the Hundred Years War, the Northern Water Tribe demonstrates this strategy as a whole. As Zhao pointed out, they were able to survive a hundred years of war as the landscape itself was an icy fortress. However, they lacked the ability or resources to mount any offensive campaigns against the Fire Nation. Notably, Iroh's defensive tactic to redirect lightning is inspired by waterbending tactics.
    • Bonus points, Waterbending was inspired by T'ai chi ch'üan (aka Tai Chi) a well-known Martial Art, that teaches defensive techniques over brute force.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Atrocians like Ben's transformation The Worst have bodies that are practically indestructible, able to tank anything from physical and energy attacks, lava, and acid, though they still feel pain. They lack physical strength and have no attacks.

    Real Life 
  • Although Stonewall Jackson himself doesn't really fit this trope, another American Civil War officer, George Henry Thomas, certainly does. Fighting for the Union, Thomas became known quickly as a great defensive general. The Battle of Chickamauga, where, after his superiors bungled their battle strategy and caused a disaster that lost the army (which was already outnumbered by 10,000 men) a full third of its strength, Thomas rallied the remaining troops into a stiff defensive position and fought off wave after wave of Confederate attacks. This gave Thomas his famous monicker "The Rock of Chickamauga". Later, his methodical mindset became an irritant with his superiors. General Grant once complained, "There is no better man to repel an attack than Thomas, but I fear he is too cautious to take the initiative.” He wasn't so much cautious as methodical — you could maneuver around him fairly well, but you attacked him at your great peril.
  • Chiselers in table tennis are players who solely play defense, whittling down their opponent's bodies or psyches. A famous match between two world-famous chiselers (Alex Ehrlich and Paneth Farcas) lasted two hours and twelve minutes before the very first point was scored, and that was because Farcas's arm had locked up. The referee had to be replaced part way through, as his neck began to lock up. The match led to table tennis receiving a time limit of twenty minutes.
  • Israel's Masada is a literal example of this, being a fortress built atop a towering mesa. No projectiles could come close to reaching the top, and it took a 30-foot high rampnote  for the Romans' battering ram to reach it. Unfortunately, the occupants of the fortress lacked the manpower and weaponry to fend off the Roman forces when they finally reached the top.
  • The M4A3E2 "Jumbo" of World War II was a significantly up-armored variant of the normal Sherman that was used to deal with bunkers and fortified positions, supporting infantry as they pushed inland out of the beachheads during the initial stages of the Normandy invasion. It was slower than the regular Sherman, and had offroad treads. The Jumbo was factory produced with the new high-velocity 76 mm gun which had improved performance against armor. However, many were refitted in the field to use the older, medium-velocity 75 mm gun because it had a better high explosive round for its breakthrough role, while still performing acceptably against any German tank that wasn’t a Tiger or Panther. A 75 mm jumbo was well-protected against most anti-tank guns, but would have struggled against the frontal armor of an enemy heavy tank. It was considered prudent to keep at least one 76 mm jumbo in each platoon just in case.
  • British tank doctrine during World War II had two main types of tank: "Cruiser" tanks, which operated as mechanized cavalry and often fell into Fragile Speedster, borderline Lightning Bruiser territory, and "Infantry" tanks which, as the name suggests, were designed to provide support for infantry and were more centered around this dynamic. The Churchill tank had even more armor than the famous Tiger I and all but the biggest German guns had trouble disabling it, but its own main gun was rather underpowered and inadequate to deal with other armored threats, and it may have been slow, but due to its design being made it was slow everywhere, able to traverse mud, trenches, hills, and other nasty terrain that would've stumped most other tanks.
  • Switzerland has traditionally adopted this as its military style. They remain famously neutral, never going on offense — but to this day, it remains one of the most strongly fortified countries on earth. Their military capabilities are almost entirely focused on defending against invasion, so while they could never have invaded their neighbors, they've also remained uninvaded themselves — a claim their more powerful neighbors cannot make.
  • The famous Il-2 Sturmovik, was nicknamed the Flying Tank because it had steel armour protecting the cockpit, engine, fuel tanks and other vital parts from enemy AA-guns and a rear gunner to keep away enemy fighters. The payoff was that it had a much lower speed than lighter armoured single seat ground attack planes like the P-47 Thunderbolt and Hawker Typhoon as well as a much smaller payload in bombs and rockets. Most attack planes since have been Fragile Speedsters with few exceptions like the A-10 Warthog and the Su 25 Frogfoot.
  • The real life military tactic of the Shield Wall was essentially this. Soldiers would form a line where their large shields either touching or overlapped, extend their spears, and wait. Trying to go on the offense with an intact shield wall was slow and difficult, because everyone would have to move at the same pace, which could be tripped up by differing terrain, or someone getting tired and not being able to hold up the heavy and cumbersome shield for defense. Trying to attack a shield wall was a daunting task without overwhelming numbers, however, because while simply standing with a raised spear or making a short stab with a sword isn't very impressive offense, it's very good at keeping the men in the shield wall protected while the attackers either die or wear themselves out trying to breach it. As such it was the backbone of the Greek phalanx, the Roman legions, and continued in use all the way to the late Middle Ages.
  • There is also the power of literal stone walls. Fortifications made out of stone by themselves have no means of attack and are completely immobile but the wall created a tall barrier that the enemy either has to find some way over, under or through to get into the city/keep that lays behind the wall. Since attacking a fortification before the invention of cannons was such a daunting prospect, one common tactic when faced with a stone fortification was to surround it and wait till the defenders starve to death.
  • The crupellarius gladiator type was distinguished by a primitive plate armor stronger than even the standard battle dress of the era. In one slave rebellion, Roman soldiers confronted by crupellarii found their swords so ineffective that they had to break out pickaxes and hatchets to do any damage. However, the armor was heavy and ungainly, and the gladiators in question were fighting in the hot Italian sun, meaning that crupellarii had to be very cautious and conservative when moving and attacking or risk heat stroke.
  • In World War I, the "female" variants of the British Mark tanks fits this bill. The female variants had just as much armor and were as slow as the male variants. The male variants had large cannons, the female variants were only equipped with machine guns. This made them great against infantry but left them with no offensive capability against even lightly armored positions. In the first tank battle of the war (as well as the first one in world history), a pair of female Mark 1s were unable to do anything against a German tank.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): All Block No Bite, All Defense No Offense


Maple's First Monster Fight

Maple goes on her first quest with her defense maxed out. She encounters a cute monster, but its attacks on her are completely ineffective. Later, when Maple moves a bit, the monster hits her shield and is K.O.'d.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / StoneWall

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