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Summon Bigger Fish

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If you can't stop the apocalypse, might as well use it.
"Sometimes the best way to deal with a mad man is to send in another madman..."

There is Always a Bigger Fish, but sometimes they aren't willing to pop up out of nowhere and get you out of the current mess. That's where this trope comes in. Summon Bigger Fish is when you get another monster/god/whatever to fight the current one, and hope that once the smoke is cleared the one you called will leave you alone or at least be weakened enough by the fight to be taken out with less insane tactics. Sadly, the odds of this making things worse is 50/50 — Evil Is Not a Toy, after all — but then again, once you've crossed the Godzilla Threshold, anything is a viable option.

Remember, this has to be a conscious use of getting another monster. If it appears by accident, or by the monster's own choice, put that example in Always a Bigger Fish instead.

Named for a Running Gag in Darths & Droids.


Compare Mons, Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?, Give Chase with Angry Natives, Let's You and Him Fight, Enemy Mine. See also the Godzilla Threshold for examples of when Summoning Bigger Fish is pretty much the only option left.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • It doesn't seem that way in Neon Genesis Evangelion until it turns out that the Evas are clones of the First Angel and "mother" of them all, Adam.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry the heroes eventually need to call the Banken, a military group, for assistance against the weaker Yamainu.
  • In Slayers, Lina calls on power from Shabranigdo, the God of Evil, to defeat lesser monsters. Twice Lina calls on power from the Lord Of Nightmares, the creator of the Slayers multiverse. This is the Giga Slave spell, which, if miscast or if control is lost, could unmake the world. She's just that badass.
    • A variation also occurs. Hellmaster Phibrizzo wants to destroy the entire world and plunge everything into oblivion, and plans to do this by forcing Lina to cast the Giga Slave, which can (as stated above) obliterate the world if the caster loses control. The Giga Slave works by summoning the Lord of Nightmares directly into the caster's body. However, when Lina loses control of the spell, the Lord of Nightmares possesses her and decides to give Phibrizzo the oblivion he desires by erasing him from existence, much to his brief agony.
  • A definite example in Naruto is Manda, the giant snake. Orochimaru and Kabuto summon him to fight Jiraiya and Tsunade, but these summons have a tendency to be rather unreliable, and Manda is by far the worst; once demanding 100 human sacrifices to pay for his service. Considering Orochimaru lost his arms and was incapable of using jutsu, they were desperately hoping he didn't betray them. Ultimately, Sasuke summons Manda and mind-controls him to act as a shield against Deidara's ultimate jutsu. Manda is killed by the resulting explosion, effectively preventing any betrayal.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Vegeta's still powerful enough to kill Goku, Krillin, Gohan and Yajirobe even after all the unGodly punishment he took in the climactic battle of the Saiyan saga. In a desperate gambit, Goku tells Gohan to look at the Power Ball in the sky, which transforms him into a raging, uncontrollable giant were-ape (oozaru). Initially, having lost all reason, Oozaru Gohan presents just as much of a threat to the heroes as Vegeta does, but Goku is able to telepathically communicate with him, and sics him on Vegeta.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Fusion Zamasu becomes an Eldritch Abomination and starts merging with the fabric of the universe, leaving Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks powerless to stop him. Goku resorts to using the button he was given to summon the Omni-King, who proceeds to delete the entire universe (and possibly all 12 of that timeline) to kill him for good.
  • In an early episode of Pokémon ("The Ghost of Maiden's Peak"), when Ash attempts to fight a Gastly using his Squirtle and Bulbasaur. The Gastly summons an illusion of Blastoise and Venusaur, and then goes so far as to combine them into Venustoise, turning his already bigger fishes into one sort of... biggerer fish. It's explained that the pre-evolved forms fear their fully evolved forms to an extent due to some kind of instinct. So making them bigger and more badass is going to cause them to panic.
  • Digimon Adventure had Tai force Greymon to evolve to defeat an opponent Greymon, resulting in SkullGreymon. Said SkullGreymon proceeds to kill the Greymon and run wild, blowing stuff up and curbstomping the other partner Digimon's attempts to restrain it.
    • In Digimon Tamers, Takato orders Guilmon, both enraged by the murder of Leomon, to digivolve to the Mega form in order to revenge-kill Beelzemon. The result is Megidramon, whose very existence threatens to cause the Digital World to collapse... and Beelzemon thrashes him anyway. Then Guilmon gets a second wind, slide digivolves into Gallantmon, and wins.
    • The fight between Marcus and Thomas in Digimon Savers, when Thomas betrays DATS, has their partners ShineGreymon and MirageGaogamon roughly equal in strength, and so an attempt by Marcus to invoke the more powerful Burst Mode is influenced by his rage at Thomas' betrayal; this results in ShineGreymon Ruin Mode, who runs wild before reverting to a DigiEgg; Thomas and MirageGaogamon are forced to retreat.
    • Digimon Xros Wars Taiki has access to DigiMemories which allow him to summon powerful digimon to use their special abilities, like Leviamon and DarkDramon.
  • In Hellsing we have the enslaved vampire Alucard who works for the Hellsing organisation by hunting vampires. Vampires are overwhelmingly bloodthirsty, superpowered monsters that laugh off human efforts to fight back. Alucard is no exception - if anything, he's worse, and he'd say so himself. In OVA III, he gleefully shreds a small army of innocent police officers because they were ordered by their corrupt bosses to attack him. The only thing that differentiates him from what Hellsing fights is that he's bound to serve Integra, his master, and he's perfectly happy to kill other vampires. Integra says herself in the OVA dub that the best weapon against a vampire is a second, more powerful vampire, and there are none on earth greater than Alucard. There is practically nothing that can stop him, with very few exceptions.
  • The World Government in One Piece get it in their heads that the only way to compete with the power held by the big wig pirates in the new world is to enlist the Seven Warlords of the Sea, who are essentially government sanctioned pirates, to fight for their side. So essentially, they're privateers. If you'll recall many of the most famous pirates started out as privateers and then were retconned into pirates by the governments withdrawing support. In One Piece, that happened backwards.
  • Quent in Wolf's Rain fights wolves with Blue... Who's a wolf. Well, half-wolf half-dog, but she looks exactly like one. To be fair, he also uses a shotgun.
  • Used in Attack on Titan by Armin during the Battle of Trost, after the discovery of a Rogue Titan attacking other Titans. They lure it towards the horde of Titans laying siege to the armory, and hope it'll take care of the problem for them. Once the Rogue Titan is revealed to actually be Eren, his Lovecraftian Superpower becomes a significant tactic when all else fails.

    Card Games 
  • The Jurassic Park card game allows you to summon a Tyrannosaurus to scare off the smaller predators, the venom-spitting Dilophosaurus and pack-hunting Velociraptor. Or even another Tyrannosaurus. But then you have to fight off the T. rex as well, after it scares the others off.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • This is the backstory for the Planeswalker Kiora. Her homeland, Zendikar, was torn apart by the Eldrazi. Her plan? Travel around the Multiverse to learn how to summon some eldritch abominations of her own to defeat them! She ultimately assembled a team of the most powerful living Planeswalkers who proceeded to do just that, which amounts to pretty much the same thing.
    • Reef Worm is an almost literal example. When it dies, it summons a bigger monster, which summons an even bigger monster when it dies, which in turns summons a downright enormous monster when it dies.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the Hidden Arsenal storyline, as the situation with the Evilswarm gets increasingly worse, some summoners try to call on the goddess Sophia... they succeed, but it turns out Sophia is a Jerkass God who has deliberately made the world crapsack, and thinks it'd be a good idea to just murder everyone else and start over.

    Comic Books 
  • When he's not being used as a villain, this is the major role played by Marvel Comics character Galactus — the Fantastic Four have summoned him to defeat cosmic villains like the Sphinx, his rogue herald Terrax, Ego the Living Planet, Hyperstorm, and Abraxas, and various space-based franchises have used the character for this as well.
  • Similarly, DC Comics often shows lesser superheroes calling on The Spectre when mystical evils get way out of hand. In most modern versions of the Justice Society of America, this is essentially the Spectre's role on the team.
  • Used in the Legion of Super-Heroes V3 comics. The Time Trapper is, among other things, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the theory that the universe only goes 'round once. There's another villain, the Infinite Man, who is the embodiment of the theory that the universe runs on an infinite loop. Brainiac 5 brought in the latter to defeat the former.
  • Green Lantern:
    • In Blackest Night, when faced with a Black Lantern version of The Spectre, the heroes come up with the really desperate plan to sic Parallax on him (using Hal Jordan as his host once again).
    • Earlier, the Green Lanterns on Oa are overwhelmed by a Black Lantern swarm, so Guy Gardner decides to release a Red Lantern from the Oan prison and throw it at them. This works for about three panels before the Alpha Lanterns kill the Red Lantern for "escaping". And then the red ring goes after Guy.
    • At the climax of Wrath of the First Lantern, the only way the heroes manage to defeat Valthoom is by Hal Jordan becoming a Black Lantern and summoning Nekron.
  • In Hellblazer's All His Engines, John Constantine is charged with killing several demons. He succeeds by feeding them to an Aztec god.
    • Similarly, an early arc has a cult succeed in summoning a truly ancient dragon-god by creating a lesser fear-deity. In this case, the dragon-god summons itself to eat the lesser god.
    • John really likes this strategy. In the Dangerous Habits story arc, he's already pissed off the First of the Fallen, who's waiting for him to die of cancer, so John summons two other Lords of Hell and sells his soul to BOTH of them without the other knowing. Which leads to an early CMOA for Johnny, as he gets to flip off all three of them and walk away smiling.
    • In fact, this trope goes all the way back to his 'origin' at Newcastle. To exorcise one demon from the girl Astra, he and his friends summoned another, who ended up claiming Astra and bringing her to hell.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy and her slayers are depowered and must fight against the US Army. When all hope seems lost, Buffy summons the goddesses they had previously given their power to in an (ultimately vain) attempt to hide. The goal is two-fold: to have the ginormous goddesses attack the army, and to get their powers back. The plan backfires, however, as not only do the slayers not get their power back, but the goddesses attack both groups indiscriminately. Buffy is finally able to defeat the goddesses after gaining Superman-like powers.
  • In one episode of De Rode Ridder ("The Red Knight"), fairy of light Galaxa does away with prince of darkness Bahaal by summoning what is hinted to be Satan himself. (Yes, De Rode Ridder is that much of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink.)
  • During DC's Our Worlds at War storyline, in order help defeat the forces of Imperiex, Doomsday is released from the can Superman had sealed him in.
  • Umar is the sister of Dormammu, the Lord of the Dark Dimension. When she confronted Doctor Strange, he, on advice of the Ancient One (his mentor) freed the demon Zom to oppose her. Now, Umar is... pretty bad-ass. She and her brother are the only survivors of the race of energy beings, the Faltine, mainly because they destroyed all the others. She rules the bad half of the Dark Dimension, which is why she is pretty ornery most of the time. She once bedded the Incredible Hulk and... exhausted him to the point where he turned back to Bruce Banner and couldn't Hulk out again. She cracked the world in half rather than traveling around it to get to the Ancient One, the Sorceror Supreme and therefore the most powerful magician in the world, and defeated him soundly. That's how bad-ass she is. When she clapped eyes on the unleashed Zom - who automatically homes in on the most powerful magic-user in the vicinity - she fled like a startled deer, declaring she wouldn't leave the Dark Dimension ever again. Of course, Zom was in turn just as scared of the Living Tribunal, but the latter wasn't summoned, so he doesn't count.
  • In Nick Fury's files regarding Marvel's Secret War, he plans for a worst case scenario of open attack on Latveria that includes using Jessica Drew to control The Sentry and dropping the Hulk and The Punisher on either side of Latveria and seeing who reached the middle first.
  • In The Umbrella Academy, The Rumor's solution to a giant berserker Abraham Lincoln statue: A giant John Wilkes Booth statue, complete with a stone derringer. Afterwards, the Booth statue is seen escaping, with the police chasing after him.
  • Pinkie Pie takes care of the giant spiders in issue #2 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) by bringing in Jim the troll.
  • Boxer decides the only course of action in the Godzilla ongoing IDW comic when Hedorah, Monster X, Space Godzilla, and Gigan attack Earth is to release the trapped Kaiju from Monster Island and free Godzilla from an experimental cage (though he frees himself first).
  • In Godzilla: Rage Across Time, when the Mongols invade Japan supported by Gigan and Megalon, a samurai and a ninja are sent to retrieve an artifact from a temple that will let them summon the giant monster, Orochi. Who promptly gets completely annihilated by Godzilla. So the humans go ahead and lure Godzilla over to the Mongols.
  • To destroy the Avatar that lives under the Pentagon when Flex Mentallo's Reality Warper powers proved to be insufficient, Doom Patrol member Dorothy Spinner summoned the Candlemaker, a far worse Eldritch Abomination to destroy it.
  • During Final Crisis, with the vast majority of the human and metahuman population under Darkseid's control, the remnants of Checkmate made a deal with the sentient A.I.s that it had captured over the years - the A.I. would be allowed to roam free in exchange for delivering the "Go" code that would activate over 11 million latent OMACs around the world. Michael Holt then allowed all the O.M.A.C.s to go about their business of neutralizing or killing every metahuman they encountered.
  • In the wake of Civil War, in which they were targeted by a bunch of unusually sadistic "cape killers", the Runaways tried to make an alliance with The Kingpin in hopes of keeping the various superhero factions off their backs. It didn't last very long.
  • In an issue of Rat Man our hero was confronted by a robot made specifically to kill superheroes. What did Rat-Man do? He opened a book, an act that summoned Chuck Norris. The robot was promptly destroyed.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, when Roxy and Mr. Chau both want to kill Scott, he lures Mr. Chau to Roxy and tricks them into fighting each other. The ploy ultimately fails and Scott is forced to defeat Roxy. Fortunately, Mr. Chau drops his grudge against Scott afterwards.
  • Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things: What do you do when a Corrupt Politician has killed everyone who stood in between him and power? Courtney summons Tommy Rawhide back from the dead to give him a taste of his own medicine.
  • The final issue of Aliens: Life and Death has the luckless human characters targeted by a very angry, heavily armed Engineer who their weapons can't hurt, so what do they do? Well, as one of their number is now host to a fetal Queen alien, they entice the full-grown Alien Queen into protecting its offspring by ripping said Engineer apart...
  • Space Punisher ends with Frank facing the people ultimately responsible for his family's death: the Watchers. How does he deal with them? Via a pursuing pissed-off Hulk (an earlier villain was using a supersonic device to drive the Hulk furious and homing in on the source of the sound to make it stop).
  • Secret Wars (2015): During Secret Wars 2099, the grandson of Baron Mordo uses Alchemax's virtual unreality device to summon The Dweller in Darkness, which manages to subdue the Hulk and the Silver Surfer, by zapping them with their fears. So the Sub-Mariner just rushes off to get Giganto, the Thing Without Fear. It beats the Dweller up long enough for the Avengers and Defenders to break Alchemax's portal.
  • Doctor Who (Titan): The crossover between the Thirteenth Doctor and Tenth Doctor features two separate, but concurrent, alien attacks. While the Weeping Angels chase down the Tenth Doctor, the Autons are working on their own scheme to take over the Earth. So the Doctors find the head of the Auton hivemind, the Nestene Consciousness, distract it, and wait for the Angel chasing them down to show up and teleport it away. It works.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Footrot Flats, a mean local boy keeps threatening and goading Rangi into having his like-minded dog fight the protagonist Dog. He backs down when Rangi suggests his dog fight the local stray cat Horse instead.
  • In FoxTrot, Paige is writing a fairy tale where she is a self-insert. Her character comes across a trapped troll that suspiciously looks like Jason, and is faced with the choice of freeing it or hoping a boar would come along and eat it. The last panel is Paige asking if they make "boar whistles" that work, presumably, like dog whistles.
  • In The Wizard of Id, the wizard uses this to deal with a bandit literally with a summoned big fish.

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Godzilla crossover, The Bridge:
    • This pops up in chapter 5. Garble and his gang undergo greed-growth, rapidly forming into full-sized dragons busy leveling a campground and trying to devour its occupants. Cue Rainbow Dash accidentally causing the currently pony-transformed Anguirus to revert to his true form... which is taller, bulkier, and far stronger than the drake pack.
    • This is later done intentionally with both Mothra and Godzilla, respectfully, in two consecutive fights with flocks of gyaos, giving them power surges in order to transform them back into their true giant forms in order to fight off the gyaos.
    • Later on, when Commander Tempest invades Canterlot while most of the heroes are away, Princess Celestia's answer to her fleet is to let Xenilla give a "strong retort".
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans fic A Shadow of the Titans:
    • When Jade is sent to break Machete out of prison, only for it to turn into a fight with Raven and Starfire, Jade lets Cinderblock out of his cell in order to keep the Titan girls busy.
    • Jade ends up on the receiving end a few chapters later. After aging herself into an adult and gaining a massive power boost as a result, Jade becomes too tough for the Titans to handle. So, they call in Green Lantern John Stewart to deal with her, Needless to say, she reverses her condition the first chance she gets.
  • Godzilla vs Cthulhu is a clear example.
  • Nobody Dies gives us Cthulhu vs ADAM. ADAM wins, but Cthulhu put up one hell of a fight.
  • The Unity Saga contains an example, when Thrawn advises the Alliance (or, at that point, New Republic) forces to engage a third (& very hostile) party. He then orders them all to withdraw, at which point a Borg fleet, at his behest, decimates the third party.
  • Luminosity has Bella do this to establish her as a Guile Heroine. James is going to kill her, but has enough flair for the dramatic to leave her alive long enough to talk. She convinces him to take her to the Volturi, who rule vampires and don't like being disturbed.
  • The Pony POV Series has this pop up in the Dark World timeline. How does Apple Bloom's spirit manage to break Discord's control over Applejack? By getting one of the only four beings in existence stronger than Discord to help. While the Father of Alicorns doesn't simply overpower Discord's control, he's still wise enough to help Apple Bloom convince Applejack to change.
  • In the finale of Tealove's Steamy Adventure, the heroes are menaced by a giant, mobile pear tree. They can't take it in a fight, so they ask Fluttershy to summon a flock of fruit bats, who eat the pears. Which somehow kills the tree.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum:
  • All Guardsmen Party: At one point, the Guardsmen end up luring a Chaos-possessed servitor-Titan into combat with a hungry and pissed off Knarloc. It...doesn't quite work as planned.
  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Barty Crouch Jr. invokes Fiendfyre — a sentient, indestructible, nigh-incontrollable Fire Elemental — in trying to destroy the nigh-invulnerable Dementors of Azkaban.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy's second arc, virtually all heroes of five different universes are battling Darkseid's forces on Apokolips. Darkseid, who has been summoning more and more powerful villains to slow the heroes down, resurrects Trigon. In response, Kid Eternity brings Jim Corrigan back to life. Cue The Spectre materializing and killing Trigon with a single blow.
  • Lodestar: How is Scion finished off in the end? By a device Magneto made that summoned Galactus to consume what was left of Magneto's own world, with him trapped on it.
  • The World is Filled with Monsters: This is Lord Greymoor's plan for defeating the Nightmare — he summons a powerful windigo to attempt to fight it off. It fails.
  • The MLP Loops: Possibly accidental version; it's hard to tell, since all the main characters are bored trolls. In one loop, Twilight convinces Ma Hoofield to swear a Pinkie Promise not to attack the McColts. She breaks it without a second thought... and then Pinkie Pie, Chaos Goddess of Parties, appears.
    Twilight gulped. "You broke a Pinkie Promise."
    "I did what now—Oh! That!" Ma grinned. "Sure did!"
    The surrounding areas got very quiet, as if in anticipation of a storm. Twilight reflected for a moment on if she did the right thing, setting Pinkie on them like that, quickly reached the conclusion that nope, she did not, and hid under the nearest tree trunk.
    And then Pinkie popped out of the cake. "Did somepony break a Pinkie Promise? NOPONY breaks a Pinkie Promise!"
    Yep, thought Twilight. Definitely not doing that again.

    Films — Animation 
  • Essentially the plot of Monsters vs. Aliens. When an alien robot starts rampaging through the United States, General W.R. Monger convinces the president to enlist a band of monsters Monger's collected over the years (including our heroine, 49-foot 11-inch woman Susan Murphy) to fight the alien menace.
  • At the end of A Bug's Life, Flik actually summons the very bird that attacked him earlier in the film to kill Hopper.
  • At the end of Watership Down, the protagonist rabbits release a dog and lure it into the Efrafan army (all of whom run away, except for Woundwort, whose body is never found).
  • In The Black Cauldron, the Horned King (Big Bad of the movie) attempts to use the power of the evil spirit trapped in the eponymous Cauldron to rise an Army of the Undead. Despite his gigantic magical powers, the Horned King is apparently unable to do that by himself and needs the Cauldron for it. This eventually backfires against the King: the spirit at first seems content with the Horned King's payment for the service — throwing a corpse in the cauldron —, but when a Heroic Sacrifice causes the spirit in the Black Cauldron to lose his powers forever, the spirit blames the Horned King for it and destroys him as his last move before becoming forever inert.
  • Cinderella: During the climax, when Lucifer the cat battles the mice as they try to free Cinderella, she gets her bird friends to fetch Bruno the dog to chase Lucifer away.
  • The Joker's scheme in The LEGO Batman Movie. He would trick Batman into sending him to the Phantom Zone, so he could recruit several villains to take over Gotham. Said villains include the Wicked Witch of the West, Agent Smith, Lord Voldemort, the Eye of Sauron, King Kong, the Daleks, and several others.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Clash of the Titans has Perseus using Medusa's head to defeat the kraken.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
  • When the heroes teleport the giant rock monster onto the enemy starship in Galaxy Quest.
  • The tactic is employed in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, when the sea goddess Calypso is freed from her prison in hopes that she'll take out the East India Trading Company and Davy Jones.
  • Quite a few of the Godzilla films had plots based on this trope.
    • Ebirah, Horror of the Deep had the humans wake Godzilla from his nap and lead him to Ebirah and Red Bamboo.
    • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah did it twice: the humans release Godzilla to deal with King Ghidorah, then Mecha-King Ghidorah to deal with Godzilla.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars uses this trope as its basic plot. Long story short-humans release Godzilla from imprisonment so he can fight the other giant monsters so that the humans can stop the evil Xilliens from destroying the world. To be more specific, Godzilla didn't care about fighting the aliens, he was just chasing after the Gotengo, a flying submarine/battleship that he fought before getting buried in a glacier; the humans knew he would follow it so they just lured him into where the other monsters were, since that would cause him to break off his pursuit of the ship long enough to thrash them.
    • Godzilla (2014): Dr. Serizawa knows that humanity needs Godzilla to stop the MUTOs. Sort of coincidental but the male Muto, who is significantly smaller than Godzilla, calls to the female for the purpose of mating, who happens to be almost as large as Godzilla.
  • Serenity: Mal and his crew provoke a horde of Reavers to take on the Alliance. Then it turns around and bites them in the ass when Wash is killed by the same Reavers, and the entire crew is badly wounded in the subsequent battle, only saved by River declaring You Shall Not Pass!. Though in the end the Alliance win, making this more of a "Summon smaller fish" or "Summon distraction". And given that the Alliance created the Reavers to begin with Mal makes the case that the Alliance has to clean up its own mess.
    The Operative: There's a lot of innocent people dying up there.
    Mal: You have no idea how true that it is.
  • Constantine: The title character summons Lucifer to defeat Mammon and Gabriel. This doubles as a form of The Only One Allowed to Defeat You; Lucifer ultimately intervenes because he's going to be the one to destroy the world, not his son.
  • Demolition Man:
    • The future San Angeles view the release of John Spartan like this. To them he's just as much a criminal as Simon Phoenix and his worldview and behavior is just as alien.
      "Send a maniac to catch a maniac."
    • Simon Phoenix, in turn, was summoned by Dr. Cocteau to kill Edgar Friendly.
  • Boa vs. Python: Send a giant snake to kill a giant snake. For some reason.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: The Necromongers, a strange cult of Omnicidal Maniacs, is threatening the Galaxy. What do the good guys do in response? Track down convicted killer Richard B. Riddick in the hopes that he'll take care of them. It works because of a prophecy that foretold the Grand Marshall would be killed by a Furyan, and Riddick is the last one there is.
    Aereon: In normal times, evil would be fought by good. But in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil.
  • Stargate SG-1: Backfires horribly in The Ark of Truth. Merrick, on the orders of the IOA, plans to unleash replicators on the Ori ships, wait for the replicators to destroy the Ori, and then deactivate the replicators. Sam and Cam think this is a terrible idea; they're right.
  • Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell: The protagonist tries this by wishing for the aid of the Archangel Michael. It only partly works. Michael has a sword that can kill the Djinn, but only the summoner can actually kill the Djinn and can only use the sword once they become worthy. Michael spends most of the film with her running. Still, his healing powers are useful and Michael is actually able to fight the Djinn head on.
  • In Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon sees a fellow student being bullied and tells him "Pedro (who is running for class president) offers you his protection." The guy thinks Napoleon's just trying to nab his vote, but sure enough, when the bully returns to steal his bike, Pedro's "cholo" cousins come to save him.
  • Prometheus: The surviving Engineer is defeated by a giant proto-facehugger set loose on it by the last survivor (Elizabeth Shaw).
  • In Men in Black II, J is chased by the Big Bad into the subway tunnels - and leads her straight to Jeffrey, the giant space slug that had been terrorizing a subway train at the beginning of the film. Jeffrey promptly swallows her whole. Temporarily.
  • In Transformers: Age of Extinction, with Lockdown coming after them, along with the human villains and an army of drones controlled by Galvatron, and their numbers reduced to just five, Optimus declares the Autobots "need a new army". He gets the Dinobots.
  • In The Mummy (1999), the Scorpion King awakens and plan to use the army of Anubis to destroy the world. A cult resurrect Imhotep because as Rick puts it, "Imhotep's the only guy tough enough to take him down". The army also works on a You Kill It, You Bought It mentality. Imhotep would use the army to conquer the world, presumably with them as his aides. Ultimately fails when Anubis depowers Imhotep just before the showdown with the Scorpion King.
  • In Jurassic World, once the Velociraptors aren't enough to take the Indominus rex down, Claire sics the Tyrannosaurus rex at her. However, she isn't enough either, and has to work with the lead raptor to actually get the better of the I. rex. And they conclude the battle by literally summoning a bigger fish, dragging the I. rex close enough to the Mosasaurus pond.
  • In X-Men: Apocalypse, the titular Big Bad spends his time on-screen curbstomping whomever is not on his side. Then Jean Grey unleashes the Phoenix and obliterates him, prompting him to admire her as she rips him to pieces.
  • John Wick is described as this by his former his son, who has now drawn Wick's ire.
    Viggo: John wasn't exactly The Boogeyman. He was the one you send to kill the fuckin' Boogeyman.
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, Surtur and the eponymous prophesy of Ragnarok turn out to be this, actively summoned by the heroes to destroy the Big Bad once all the civilians have been evacuated.

  • Watership Down: At the end, the protagonist rabbits release a dog and lure it into the Efrafan army (all of whom run away, except for Woundwort, whose body is never found).
  • Jim Butcher:
    • The Dresden Files:
      • Dead Beat: At the end, Harry is facing down a bunch of necromancers and an army of zombies. His solution? Animate himself a tyrannosaurus zombie and stomp the bad guys flat of course! Bonus points because, even though there are strict rules forbidding the spirit of his solution, they only apply when such spells are cast on humans.
      • Small Favor: Done subtly. While doing a favor for Queen Mab, Summer Fae act accordingly and are trying to stop Harry, even if it means killing him. Harry realizes they are tracking him by a gift he was given from Titania. After confounding them by using the tracking against them, Harry brings it with him when he and his allies go face the Big Bad of the book and the reason for Mab's favor. Being so far out of the way, and then using fire magic, which was once touched by Summer so it works as a summon on its own, the Summer Fae know his location. This ends up drawing the attention of Titania's strongest assassin, who has killed three mages even stronger than Harry at some point in his life, to this tiny island in the middle of Lake Michigan. By some contrived coincidence when Harry is hiding from one of the island's foes, the assassin arrives looking for Harry. The assassin then kills the enemy for attacking him, and then the assassin turns to where Harry is hiding.
      • In Cold Days, Harry is in an even worse bind as Queen Ladies Lily and Maeve are trying to unleash several Eldritch Abominations from their prison. To finally stop them, he summons Queen Mab who stops them with one sentence by using the giant magic circle they are all stuck in. Even better when you think about the fact that he was forced to call Maeve's Mom to come deal with her.
      • Sometimes a swarm of smaller fish is just as effective. In the short story "Heorot", Harry, Gard, and Mouse use illusion magic and a Perception Filter to pass by a pack of malks (vicious feline faeries) on their way to a grendelkin's lair. When the grendelkin proves too much for the three to handle, Harry sends Mouse back to lure the malks to the lair, then uses another illusion to convince the little beasts to attack the grendelkin. While the monsters are tearing each other apart, our heroes rescue the fair maiden and make their escape, then send the cavern crashing down on the whole lot.
    • Codex Alera: In the final book, Tavi has to find a way to deal with the insanely dangerous Vord Queen, while at the same time she's putting a lot of effort into dealing with him. He just plain old can't face her head-on. So he flies up to the summit of Garados and deliberately irritates the Great Fury, and this in turn pisses off Garados' "wife" and equal, the eternal storm Fury Thana. Chaos ensues. But hey, it did work in the end.
  • Discworld:
    • In Guards! Guards!, after Wonse loses control of the dragon he summoned, Vimes encounters him planning to summon another one to fight it. (He's about 90% insane by then.)
    • Going Postal: Vetinari uses Moist von Lipwig to work against Reacher Gilt, setting a swindler to beat another swindler. In this case, his insurance is that Good Feels Good and by the time it's over Moist will have reformed sufficiently to no longer be a problem. Vetinari being Vetinari, of course, he hedged his bets a bit by setting a golem to watch over Moist to ensure that he's neither threatened by assassins (who don't really have anything in their arsenal capable of inconveniencing a golem) nor tempted to run (since Mr. Pump can magically track him across a continent and eventually run him down to drag him back).
    • Making Money: Referred to when Moist explains that the mongooses were bred in the postboxes, to keep down the snakes; who were introduced to reduce the number of toads; which were put there to keep down the snails. The snails had gotten in on their own accord to eat the glue on the stamps. He admits that they "were a bit too creative in our thinking".
    • And Nanny Ogg uses this to good effect in Lords and Ladies when she invokes Oberon, the Spear Counterpart to the Queen of Elves.
  • Shiver: Near the end, the protagonists determine that lycanthropy may be curable through elevating the victim's internal body heat to extreme levels, comparable to a massive fever. They attempt to do this by injecting two victims with bacterial meningitis. Results? Mixed. One character is cured, the other dies from the meningitis.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: In one story, the protagonists are investigating a series of unusual events, the cause of which turns out to be an avatar of Nyarlathotep. They find some notes left by a professor with experience in the mythos that came to the place before them and was killed. The notes contain instructions on how to perform a ritual to summon the Great Old One Cthugha, so that the two beings (who apparently don't like each other) will fight, resulting in both being banished. The notes also suggest that as soon as the ritual is complete, everybody should get at least several miles away from the site.
  • David Eddings:
    • This happens several times throughout The Elenium and Tamuli series. In the latter in particular, almost every part of the plot involves someone summoning something bigger to counter the latest threat. The bad guys' plan involves summoning various feared warriors and monsters from the past, the good guys respond by summoning trolls out of frozen time to eat them. Everything really goes wrong when the power of Bhelliom causes one of the bad guys to panic and summon Klael, who unfortunately for them not only can't be controlled, but turns out to only have been Summon Equally-sized Fish. Of course, every time Sparhawk and friends are sent anywhere, it's generally because they're intended to be the bigger fish.
    • The Belgariad has an excellent example. In it there are a tribe of people called the Morindim who worship demons. Their wizards settle disputes between each other by summoning demons and making them fight each other. The demons are constantly trying to escape their control in order to eat the wizard who has summoned them. So if your demon loses then you get eaten by the opposing demon and even if your demon wins, you then need to banish it quickly before it turns on you and eats you as well. This is all seen by the main characters of the book who are sorcerors as being fairly bonkers. Unfortunately things escalate in the sequel series "The Malloreon" with the evil Grolim sorcerors trying to one-up each other by summoning demons to supplement their own powers of sorcery. When faced with a demon your main options are: to summon a bigger demon that you hope you can control in order to fight the first one; or to summon a God in order to banish the demon. The latter option requires one to be on pretty good terms with a God, as the only God who tended to intervene directly in mortal affairs was evil and was killed at the climax of the first series. Things continue to escalate further, with the different factions of evil sorcerors summoning Demon Lords who are more evil, powerful and cunning than the basic demons and who ultimately plan to take advantage of being summoned by plunging the entirety of reality into hell. Remember kids: this is your archetypal fantasy world; this is your archetypal fantasy world on demons.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione Granger does this by bringing Dolores Umbridge into part of the Forbidden Forest where the centaurs live. She hopes to trigger Umbridge's hatred of "half-breeds", which will enrage the centaurs and get them to take care of Umbridge for her. It sort of works. When the centaurs are about to turn on Harry and Hermione, Grawp appears, looking for Hagrid, and gets into a fight with the centaurs, allowing Harry and Hermione to escape.
  • In Stanisław Lem's The Tale of the Computer That Fought a Dragon, a robot king accidentally makes a robot dragon; he gets his battle computer to get rid of it—which, of course, it does by making larger and larger robot dragons. Eventually the computer tries to turn itself into an electrosaur and rule the planet, but the king hits it with his slippers and it accidentally turns itself into electrosauce. So Yeah.
  • Welkin Weasels': In Welkin Weasels: Gaslight Geezers'', Maudlin accidentally acquires a magical ocarina which summons a demon if played and can't be thrown away or destroyed, but can only be passed on to another owner. Naturally, he decides to simply not play it. However, he and Scruff are later attacked by the dreaded manless horsehead (the ghostly head of a riderless horse) and use the ocarina to summon the demon to fight it while they run. Later, when they're captured and enslaved at an ironworks, Scruff manages to trick the overseer into taking and playing the ocarina, summoning the demon, which eats the guards (who are mink, and therefore larger and better prey than the weasel slaves, who escape).
  • Used twice in The Heritage of Shannara.
    • Druid: Being hunted by a gigantic cyborg spider? Drop it down a pit. Right on top of the even bigger and grumpier Eldritch Abomination.
    • Talismans: Being attacked by several smaller, but still huge and tough, magical cyborg spiders? Lure them into the Mist Marsh, where they can piss off the huger and tougher tentacled horrors within.
  • In the Wizard of Rondo, after the protagonists have learned that Eldritch Abomination the Strix is really the Blue Queen, Tye summons the real Strix. It is not amused.
  • The main premise of Forgotten Gods. The characters ask The Fair Folk for help, and it goes horribly right.
  • One of the Silver John stories has a warlock trying to control John by using Sympathetic Magic on a picture of him. John tries to distract him with a silver quarter, but it lands in the center of the spell. The end result is that the spell summons the embodiment of the heroic myth of George Washington (it locked onto the face on the coin), which instantly figures out the warlock's a bastard and beats him into the dirt before leaving.
  • In Star Trek: Immortal Coil, the Enterprise and a space station owned by the immortal Flint come under attack by rogue androids after a sophisticated prototype android (long story...). Luckily for Picard and company, Flint has spent the last century or so collecting other artificial life-forms and A.I.s, including Richard Daystrom's M-5 computer. Data plugs the M-5 into the station's weapons array, and turns it loose to engage in its primary objective - survival. It mops the floor with the android fleet.
    Data: Under the circumstances, it seemed like our best chance to stop the androids.
    McAdams: Yeah, not to mention our best chance to get killed in the process. You know that M-5 is crazy, don't you?
    Data: Crazy is an imprecise term. It is... single-minded.
  • A fantasy novel set in modern times had one of its plotlines deal with the efforts to stop the demoness Lamashtu (as noted under Mythology below) after she was summoned to Earth by a self-deluded worshiper by summoning up her nemesis Pazuzu, in hopes his hatred of her would see them both leaving earth as the one chased after the other (it succeeds, naturally).
  • Midnight Never Come has the protagonists deal with the dark faerie version of Queen Elizabeth by summoning the Wild Hunt, actually the faerie kings of England that Invidiana had displaced. It's something of a distraction for the Plan A, but it's a big enough threat that she has to go meet it.
  • In one of the Stranger In Black stories, a clay golem has gone berserk and a magician summons three other-plane beings (who appear as a young man, a middle-aged man and an elderly man) to take it away. Averted because for some unexplained reason, they silently refuse (although with an air of "sorry we can't do that") and instead drag the magician (screaming hysterically) who summoned them away into the portal he created and back to their own plane.
  • In F. Paul Wilson's short story "Tenants", the old man in the cabin claims that there are crickets, toads, snakes and snapping turtles living under his floor. The crickets' chirping had been keeping him awake, so he let some toads loose to eat them. Then the toads croaked all night, etc.
  • Invoking this can be a property of the Cursed Blade in The Death Gate Cycle. Normally it's a Morph Weapon that will turn itself into any weapon (or creature) that can defeat the enemy its wielder faces. Sometimes, however, the enemy is more powerful than the Blade, in which case it will summon something capable of defeating it rather than become it. This rarely ends well for any involved parties.
  • In Alien in a Small Town, Nuada has Paul and Indira cornered, and Paul desperately prays for help. It's left ambiguous whether or not it's literally an answered prayer, but that's when the Great Striped Hoon shows up and proceeds to eat Nuada, and gets killed by Indira before it can eat her and Paul.
  • In the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, when hiding in the caverns of Utapau from a pair of seeker droids, Obi-Wan uses the Force to suggest to a nearby Huge Slimy Cave-Monster that the droids are actually delicious snacks. It obligingly eats one and chases the other away.
  • A variant happened in The Spiderwick Chronicles. The strategy wasn't to summon a bigger fish but to get the Big Bad to turn into a smaller fish so it could be eaten by the regular fish.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, Kyousuke is up against the White Queen. He summons the Black Maw, the only entity that can rival the Queen in power (because it's another facet of her). The Black Maw normally devours its own summoner when summoned, but in this case it fights the White Queen due to a mutual example of Clingy Jealous Girl. Because of the way summoning works in this setting, the Black Maw is slightly stronger due to being summoned second, and it manages to win (but is severely injured in the process). Kyousuke then manages to dismiss it before it can eat him.
  • Below: When the party is beset by a large force of goblins, Gareth hopes using a polymorphosis wand on them will bring about this result. His first shot forces the goblins to deal with a huge beetle among their ranks. But a subsequent shot at a poorly-chosen target puts a much more dangerous creature between the party and the goblins.
  • The Elric Saga: Elric of Melnibonë makes occasional use of this in his various adventures when he finds himself in over his own head and has the time and opportunity to enact the relevant summonings. Since most of the entities he calls upon are simply honoring their relevant pacts with him and/or the royal line of Melnibonë of their own free will (or what passes for it in some of the more alien cases), this help can be extremely useful with usually little risk of backfiring.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Thousand Sons: In Ahriman: Unchanged, Ctesias is attacked by Czetherrtihor, a Chaos Titan possessed and empowered by nine greater daemons of Tzeentch. He responds by summoning Doombreed, the mightiest Daemon Prince of Khorne, who makes short work of the Titan.
    • Eisenhorn: A running theme is how the need to do this is what ultimately corrupts so many inquisitors. They start out idealistic puritans, but the more they fight Chaos, the more situations they encounter where using its own weapons against it appears necessary. In Eisenhorn's case, the final crossing of the line comes when he summons a powerful daemonhost to destroy a Chaos titan.
  • A Memoir By Lady Trent: Towards the end of A Natural History of Dragons, Isabella goads Khirzoff's men into shooting at her as a way to exploit the dragons' hostile reaction to gunfire. She had just seen a dragon flying by in the near distance, and the sound of the firearms discharging was enough to provoke it into attacking and give her a chance to escape.
  • Esther Diamond: Attempted in the climax of the first book. The evil magician whose been kidnapping magicians assistants has summoned a demon, and one of the assistants tries to sicc the tiger that was kidnapped with her on the demon. It's a game effort that fails because 1) Alice the Tiger isn’t actually the bigger fish in this scenario and 2) Alice seems to realize this and refuses to attack.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Primeval has what has to be one of the most epic uses of this trope: Lester is chased by a future predator. He can't defeat it, so he manages to make his way back to the main room of the ARC and tells Leek, who's commanding it, that since he won't beg for his life, Leek may as well just kill him now. Unknown to Leek, Lester opened the door to the cage holding a giant freaking mammoth. Said mammoth does not like the future predator. Said mammoth kills the future predator with extreme prejudice.
  • Played by the villain Crustaceans in the final episodes of Beetleborgs. In response to the Beetleborgs finally acquiring the giant Roboborg, the Crustaceans respond by creating the equally giant Boron.
  • Babylon 5: When the Vorlons aim to destroy a planet with a population of six billion, Captain Sheridan, who knows too well that his fleet cannot take them on and win due to severe firepower and technological disadvantages, summons a fleet of ships belonging to the other "First Ones", who then proceed to destroy the Vorlon planet killer.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the Season 7 premiere, the Winchesters and Bobby summon Death to deal with God!Castiel. Cas merely snaps Death free of their binding spell, defusing the situation. The potential danger of doing this is beautifully lampshaded by Crowley:
      You really believe you can handle that kind of horsepower? You're delusional! They'll both mash us like peas.
    • And that itself was preceded by Castiel spending Season 6 trying to become the bigger fish to the Archangel Raphael by absorbing the souls of all the monsters in Purgatory, effectively making him God. In the Season 6 finale, he succeeds and kills Raphael with the snap of his fingers.
    • Earlier still, the episode "The Devil You Know". A Hellhound has corned Dean, Sam, and Crowley. Crowley teleports out, and comes back with a bigger hellhound and sets it on the one opposing them.
    • In Season 11, Lucifer offers to be the bigger fish to The Darkness a.k.a Amara, who he defeated before God created the universe, if Sam will allow Lucifer to use him as his vessel once again. After Sam refuses, Castiel takes him up on the offer and allows Lucifer to possess him. Then it's averted when it turns out that Lucifer was lying about having taken on Amara by himself in the past. Defeating her the first time took God and the four archangels working together to pull off. So while Lucifer is a pretty damn big fish, he's not nearly big enough to handle Amara on his own.
  • In one Saturday Night Live sketch Ben Stiller and Tim Meadows play small-town politicians in a series of dueling campaign ads on the topic of "the bat problem" (bat attacks on the citizenry.) The competing candidates advocate such solutions as soldier monkeys, erupting a volcano under the bat cave, and getting larger and more aggressive bats to eat the bats.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Second Doctor finds himself forced to summon the Time Lords at the end of "The War Games", since he's incapable of solving everything on his own. They appear, sort everything out without much fuss... and then mind-wipe his companions and execute him for being a renegade with a stolen TARDIS.
    • In "Ghost Light", the Seventh Doctor tries this and gets in really bad trouble. The enemy at this point is a rather stupid Human Alien with a few hypnotised human minions. The Doctor unleashes a Sufficiently Advanced Omnicidal Maniac.
    • The Twelfth Doctor threatens to do this to Ashildr in "Face the Raven" in order to scare her into sparing Clara.
      The Doctor: I'll show you and all your funny little friends to the whole laughing world. I'll bring UNIT, I'll bring the Zygons. Give me a minute, I'll bring the Daleks and the Cybermen.
    • When being stalked by super-intelligent space oil that can venture through time and space, the Doctor resolves to use "the deadliest fire in the universe" and travels in the middle of the Dalek-Movellan war. Unfortunately, even this isn't enough.
  • An inversion occurs in Star Trek: Voyager when the Borg ask for Janeway's help in eliminating Species 8472 but it's complicated. The Borg were just going to assimilate Voyager and its crew until Janeway convinced them to ally instead in return for safe passage through their space. She felt that Species 8472 gave them leverage. Because 8472 was kicking Borg ass bigtime, it may have been Summon Smaller Fish.
  • On Justified Harlan crime lord Boyd Crowder is threatened by a group of local corrupt businessmen who want him to work for them. If he refuses, they will use their political connections to have him arrested and thrown in jail. Boyd instead calls Detroit mob boss Theo Tonin and asks his help in neutralizing the threat. Tonin obliges him and the businessmen soon find that all their political contacts refuse to talk to them. However, Boyd now owes Tonin a bid favour and if he does not deliver, Tonin will have him killed. Boyd considers calling in someone bigger to deal with Tonin but the only group with more power is the US government.
  • Arrow: In Season 2, Moira finds herself once again being threatened by Malcolm Merlyn. What does she do? Well, after researching a verbal slip-up on his part, she gets help from the one person who scares everyone who knows of his existence — Ra's Al-Ghul, who, for bonus points, happens to want Malcolm's head for his actions in the previous season.
  • Constantine shows what happens when the fish is too bigger. Drunk on his own ego, John decided to exorcise a little girl by summoning a bigger demon to kill the one possessing her. Said demon was Nergal. In the end, the girl was dead, damned to hell, and the event haunts everyone who was involved.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "The Dark Age", Jenny is possessed by a body-hopping demon called Eyghon, who can't be forcibly exorcised without killing her. To get around this, the Scoobies trick Eyghon into jumping into Angel, a vampire. In the Buffyverse, vampires are effectively corpses possessed by demons; the demon already inhabiting Angel's body makes short work of Eyghon.
    • This is the whole idea of creating the Slayer. Fight super-strong vampires and demons by creating a good guy who is even stronger.
  • The Flash (2014): How do the heroes deal with Gorilla Grodd when he invades Central City with a gorilla army in Season 3? Recruiting Grodd's rival Solovar, who challenges Grodd to a one on one fight for Gorilla City's leadership, which ends with Grodd defeated and handed over to human custody.

  • The children's song "The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly", wherein the woman in question keeps swallowing bigger and bigger animals to catch the one she swallowed before. Ultimately, she swallows a horse. She dies, of course.
  • The song "Better Metal Snake" by Fake Band Dethklok tells the story of a fantasy themed kingdom that was conquered by an invading kingdom using a giant mechanical snake in battle. The overthrown king then declares his intent to build a better metal snake in order to defeat the first one and take his kingdom back.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Assyrian and Babylonian mythology Pazuzu was an evil wind demon who brought drought and storms. However, pregnant mothers often invoked him with amulets to ward off his enemy and, in some versions, wife, Lamashtu, who killed children in childbirth and kidnapped newborns.
  • In Egyptian Mythology, Set - God of Chaos, usurper of his brother Osiris' throne, Arch-Enemy of his nephew Horus and all-around bad guy - was nevertheless the one charged with protecting Ra's sun-barge from the serpent Apophis. Some argue that this is The Artifact of Set previously being a positive chaotic figure embodying destruction and renewal like that of a desert storm.
  • One Indian folktale was about a king whose palace was constantly infested by mice. The king then orders his servants to send in cats to get rid of the mice, but then the king gets fed up with the cats, and first tries to get rid of the cats with dogs, then tigers, and finally an elephant. When the king becomes annoyed with the elephant, the servants get rid of it with yes, a mouse. Made into a Looney Tunes short.

  • Zig Zagged in the Red Panda Adventures episode "The Callaghan Mob". Amateur gangsters hassling Kit Baxter's neighborhood are getting away with it because they're too disorganized for the police to deal with in more than dribs and drabs. Further, the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel can't watch the neighborhood all the time and will likely get pulled away by their own bigger fish. The Panda's solution is to gather his agents and, with the help of the police and his ownership of the newspaper, fake a gang taking over that area; one that has no problem defending its territory and making the risk not worth the reward for the amateurs and run them off, creating the result of the trope without ever actually using it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Summon Magic is all about throwing things like dragons, dinosaurs, elemental spirits, and angels onto the battlefield. At its pinnacle is the Gate spell, which can call up creatures much more powerful than the caster, some of which can cast Gate themselves.
      • An interesting case is summoning a Bebilith. It's a demon who is best summarized as "a demon who hunts and kills smaller demons". There is even one specific spell which summons an uncontrolled Bebilith that will attack whatever is next to him, but will go for other demons first at all times.
    • In First Edition AD&D Pit Fiends are powerful Devils whose abilities include unlimited use of the Gate spell, which can summon up more Pit Fiends.
      • This became a plot point in the Forgotten Realms setting, where the mythic Elven city of Cormanthor/Myth Drannor was destroyed and became a demon-infested ruin due to the accidental release of three powerful demons who proceeded to summon whole armies of their kin.
    • The players can do this in the 5th Edition adventure Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. By the machinations of the archdevil Zariel, the holy city of Elturel has been chained in Avernus. In order to free the city, the players must break the chains that are drawing the city into the River Styx. One way of doing this is to petition for the aid of Tiamat. Being a dragon goddess, she can break the chains easily, and is so overpowered both in universe and meta wise, that the Big Bad Zariel focuses on the player characters, because she knows she has no way of winning against Tiamat.
  • A similar version of this could happen in older versions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, as the old Realms of Chaos books (Slaves to Darkness and Lost and the Damned) included rules for releasing daemons bound into weapons. The daemon released would be a bog-standard example of the type, with the standard equipment. It was possible to get a daemon weapon containing a Bloodthirster of Khorne, whose standard equipment at the time included... an axe containing a Bloodthirster of Khorne. In terms of balanced points battles, it was a game-breaker, with the number of Greater Daemons you fielded (in addition to your army) limited only by the number of turns you were playing, and the number of Bloodthirster models you owned...
    • This currently possible again in the Storm of Magic expansion with scrolls of binding that allow you call in any monster from the earlier rulebooks, including greater daemons, as well some monsters created for the expansion. These monsters are "biggest fish" available, including stronger version of the greater daemons, a supersized giant, a giant mammoth, and super versions of the dragons, some of which can be made lord level wizards. This is more balanced than old means of bringing out bound daemons since the controlling player has to pay for the monsters in point cost like they do everything else.
    • A variation of this trope occurs in the Warhammer 40,000 background: with Hive Fleet Leviathan rapidly closing in, the higher-ups of the Imperium decided to divert the swarm into an Ork-held star system as a last-ditch delaying effort. As of the current lore, they're still going at it (Tyranids replenish their forces by eating corpses, while Orks reproduce asexually and the fighting is drawing in more Orks like a magnet), but Imperial generals (rightly) fear that whoever wins will have become much stronger, and will be coming after them next...
    • The recently introduced Khorne Daemonkin army lets players collect tokens by wiping out enemy units (or having your own wiped out, it doesn't matter which). The player can then spend these tokens to summon more units, up to and including the mighty Bloodthirster of Khorne.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror From The Stars. The "Field Manual of the Theron Marks Society" says that when facing extremely powerful monsters, "The only hope in this situation is to summon another deity or monster with a natural hatred for whatever it is that is attacking."
  • Changeling: The Lost features a Goblin Contract known as "Call the Hunt." Unless you're a Loyalist (or truly, truly desperate), use of this Contract is considered a very bad idea.
  • Mutants & Masterminds has a summoning power. A drawback you can take for it makes everything you summon hostile toward you. You might summon a bigger fish to deal with your foes, only to have to summon another when the first turns on you.
  • In the storyline of the Deadlands CCG Doomtown, the Big Bad was eventually defeated by waking up the manitou who brought Abraham Lincoln back as one of the Harrowed. Lincoln's willpower had long since beaten it down, but shooting him with an enchanted gun firing the same bullet that killed him before finally pissed it off enough to rise again.
  • Happened in the BattleTech Expanded Universe. The mercenary Northwind Highlanders are contracted to raid a world held by Clan Smoke Jaguar, perhaps the most brutal and bloodthirsty of the Clans. Instead of the inferior second-line opponents they were told they'd be facing, their DropShips are shot down by an entire front-line force of Jaguars. The Guile Hero protagonist's plan is to masquerade as Jaguars and go besmirch the honor of the Nova Cats, a clan of mystical but no less impressive warriors, to attack and destroy the Jaguars on the planet and free the trapped Highlanders. It works stunningly, as the Highlanders escape and all the Jaguars are destroyed.
  • Pathfinder: The Chaotic Evil umbral dragons, which prey on ghosts and specters, are sometimes used to contain and limit plagues of spectral undead. The priests of the death goddess Pharasma bribed one into moving into the ghost-haunted Spellscar for this purpose, while the players in the Hell's Rebels adventure path meet a Chaotic Neutral umbral dragon who, if befriended, can later aid them when their home city becomes subjected to a citywide mass haunting by flying over it and feeding on the specters and apparitions.
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse, the characters the Naturalist and Akash'thriya both have cards in which they release the Kraken in the card art. If they're in a jam and have the right card combination, the players can literally do this by purposely drawing the Kraken from its home deck.
    • During the OblivAeon event, Unity constructs a giant T-Rex bot to help fight OblivAeon. It gets destroyed but it's still pretty awesome.

  • Kongu did this in BIONICLE, during the Pit story. He used his Mask of Summoning to summon a giant Eldritch Abomination-style Rahi to kill a 300-foot Matoran-eating Eel. It was an interesting battle. This is Kongu's mask power, to summon monsters ... the only problem is he doesn't get to control the monster ... nor can he choose what monster arrives. This ends up biting him and the other Toa in the ass later on, as the Rahi and the Eel team up with each other and the mutated Gadunka during the Mêlée à Trois at the end of that arc.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology:
    • One of the Egyptian campaigns involves the Heroes trying to awaken "The Guardian" before the Big Bad's army can get there.
    • The Titans expansion pack has three campaign levels where the main characters have to survive against a Titan long enough to summon the Guardian (who is stronger than a Titan), the Nidhogg (who the Titan cannot attack), or Gaia (a Titan with a powerful special attack against Kronos).
  • In Alien: Isolation, surviving humans aboard the Sevastopol station are usually hostile, armed, and travel in groups, making it a poor choice to attack them head on. Throwing a scratch-build noisemaker device in the middle of their ranks will summon the titular Xenomorph, who can tear through them like so much tissue paper. However, this leaves you in the room with a relentless hungry super-predator who can adapt to your behavior, is faster than you, and is immune to all of your low-powered weapons. If you can't sneak past them, sometimes taking on an armed mob is the smart option.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, a powerful wizard can summon various massive demons like Cacofiends and Pit Fiends to face whatever the enemy is. But unless you cast Protection from Evil on your party, it will then go after you. The expansion pack takes it Up to Eleven. First, there's the Summon Elemental spell that high level druids get. It normally summons a powerful elemental, but occasionally it will instead summon an Elemental Prince who's not only more powerful than the previously mentioned Pit Fiend, it's also not hostile so you don't have to worry about it turning on you. Then there's the wizard spell Summon Solar. A Solar is the highest rank of angel who again isn't hostile to you and combines awesome physical might with powerful spellcasting ability. It doesn't matter who or what you're fighting, the Solar is going to put the hurt on them.
  • Bayonetta slays all bosses (and many of the larger, normal mooks) by summoning greater and greater demons. This includes the final boss, Jubileus. Always a bigger fish, indeed. And she does it with her hair. Also in the battle against Father Balder she summons several demons of growing strength in a sort of summoning style Worf Effect.
  • BioShock 2 has Summon Eleanor Lamb (in a big sister suit) as a plasmid.
    • During the climax of Bioshock Infinite, Elizabeth has received a cryptic code from an older version of herself from an alternate timeline, and she eventually deciphers it to mean the musical notes to play to summon Songbird. A huge battle breaks out between you and scores of Vox Populi airships, and you can command Songbird to attack enemies at will.
  • Peketo's ending in The Black Heart involves this. Final tries to destroy Peketo with his Eye Lasers, but he reappears, stating that all the deals with the dead he has made render him unkillable. Unable to kill him, Final insteads summons Peketo's father, whom Peketo had killed at the beginning of his story and, in the same vein as his son, has turned into a ghostly monster. Both immediately launch against each other and engage in combat, with Final noting that, since neither of them can die, he doesn't know how long will they remain fighting.
  • The Augar of Ebrietas and A Call Beyond of Bloodborne allow you to (partially) summon Ebrietas, a Great One to borrow her powers.
  • In Dead Space 2, Isaac has to get past a government security force with orders to shoot him on sight. How does he do it? By powering down the lights and door locks, leading to a massive army of necromorphs slaughtering their way through the government forces.
  • Doom:
    • In the original Doom, there was a secret level with this premise. In the room you start with there are half a dozen Barons of Hell. In the next room are a dozen Cacodemons. The best survival strategy involves running from room to room, allowing the monsters to mix and get caught in each other's crossfire, which will make them turn on each other as long as you aren't fool enough to draw their attention.
    • Doom II has a special level just for this purpose. In it, you are presented with both a Cyberdemon and a Spider Mastermind, the two most powerful monsters in the entire game, at the same time. The only way you will survive this is if you provoke one into firing on the other, then take out the survivor.
    • There's also an earlier non-secret level in Doom II which features a room with at least twenty Barons of Hell and a single Cyberdemon. Due to the way they are positioned, the Cyberdemon will immediately shoot at you as soon as you open the door, but since the Hell Knights are standing in the way, they'll get hit and turn on the Cyberdemon. It's very likely the Cyberdemon will win this fight, but by the time he does, he's so weakened that it won't take much to kill him.
    • In DOOM (2016), the player character is effectively the bigger fish for Samuel Hayden. Hayden was concerned about the possibility of a demon invasion, so when one actually happens, he releases the Doom Slayer, despite knowing nothing about him other than the demons are all completely terrified of him. He notably cannot control the Doom Slayer, and is very angry over the fact that the Slayer keeps destroying his very expensive equipment to harvest demonic energy.
  • In Dragon Age II, it's implied that one of the reasons Knight-Commander Meredith lets Mage!Hawke roam free is because she recognises that someone who single-handedly managed to curb-stomp the Arishok is not to be trifled with and would be better used as a weapon to turn against Kirkwall's enemies. Unfortunately for her, she becomes Kirkwall's enemy in the end either by attempting to arrest Hawke for defending the Kirkwall mages or attempting to betray Hawke after successfully annulling the Circle.
  • In Dragon Quest VI, about halfway through the game a kingdom summons a legendary demon in the hopes that it will kill their world's Crystal Dragon Satan for them. Normally, what happens is the demon is too powerful to control and ends up destroying the kingdom for their arrogance. However, if you have an insanely overpowered party (we're talking months of grinding or the use of a gameshark here), you can beat the demon in combat and gain its respect, resulting in a funny bonus ending in which the demon flies over to the final boss and curbstomps him for you.
    • Said demon, Nokturnus, can be created for your party in one Dragon Quest Monsters to invoke this trope once again. DQM: Battle Road Victory lets you sic various Final Boss monsters and more for similar results.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Summon Magic (under the Conjuration school of magic), Necromancy (also under Conjuration), and Command/Rally creatures or humanoids all exist as spells, powers, and/or racial abilities throughout the series which allow you to perform invoke this trope. You can use these powers to, for example, summon a lesser Daedra or an Atronach to even the odds in a fight. Or use a spell to bring a dead enemy back to life on your side, or command that nearby bear to fight on your side.
    • In the Grand Finale of (the main questline of) Oblivion, Martin Septim summons the Freaking Dragon God of Time, Akatosh, to banish Big Bad Mehrunes Dagon, who enters the Imperial City in the flesh.
    • Skyrim:
      • Shortly after the Dragonborn defeats their first Dragon and their powers manifests, the Greybeards unleash a shout that shakes all of Skyrim, calling them to High Hrothgar for training. This is because the Dragonborn is the bigger fish to the Dragons, being the only mortal capable of permanently killing them by absorbing their souls.
      • In addition to the aforementioned options for summoning bigger fish, a particular Dragon Shout gained late in the main quest allows you to summon an ally dragon of your own, Odahving. Another gained during the Dawnguard DLC main quest allows you to summon an undead dragon from the Soul Cairn, with an entirely different set of powers.
      • One quest in Skyrim has you discovering an abandoned Dwemer city that has been taken over by the Falmer, and awakening the Steam Centurions (Steampunk Mecha-Mooks built by the Dwemer as weapons of war) to drive the Falmer out.
  • Eternal Darkness:
    • This trope constitutes much of the gameplay in the final level of. Naturally this leaves one of the Eldritch Abominations wandering around unopposed, so the ghost of Alex's grandfather has to subsequently bind the Bigger Fish. Then in the Real Ending we learn that essentially all three fish have swallowed themselves, because Mantorok has been invoking this trope over a span of thousands of years, simultaneously, in three different timelines.
    • A viable strategy once you get the summoning spells. Horde of Chattur'gha zombies in your way? Conjure an Ulyoth horror and let it eat them. Then kill the weakened horror.
  • An attempt at invoking this fails in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario of Fate/stay night, after Archer betrays Rin and sides with Caster. Rin and Shirou attempt to recruit Berserker to send him at them, but when they arrive at Illya's castle, they find him in the heat of battle with Gilgamesh. In the end, they have no choice but to simply sit and watch as Gilgamesh claims all of Berserker's lives.
  • Final Fantasy X: In Final Fantasy games, Summoning Bigger Fish has always been the bread and butter of the very aptly named Summoner class, except in this one Summoning is Powered by a Forsaken Child and the true purpose of a Summoner going on their Quest to Create The Ultimate Bigger Fish is to create a new Sin and restart the cycle of Senseless Sacrifices.
  • Fossil Fighters: When an ancient elemental dinosaur of power is called up, you not only Summon Bigger Olympus Mons, you summon the one with an Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors advantage!
  • In Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich you summon your greatest enemy, the Time Master, an insane supervillain with complete control over time and space to fight Entropy, an insane supervillain who grows more powerful as things become more chaotic while she's in the process of ripping the universe apart.
  • In Gems of War, it turns out that Sparkgrinder's plan to stop Carnex (his rogue mechanical construct) is to build "Mega-Carnex", an even more dangerous version. He insists it'll work as planned, this time.
  • God of War (PS4): During the climactic Final Boss battle against Baldur, Freya raises the corpse of Thamur to keep Kratos and Atreus from hurting her son. After the two of them are pinned down by Thamur's ice breath, Atreus decides to fight a Giant with another Giant and calls out for help in an ancient language. Moments later, Jörmungandr comes streaking in way faster than a monster his size initially appears capable of and takes down the undead Giant.
  • Done twice in the Golden Sun series.
    • An antagonistic, but not evil, example occurs for the final battle of The Lost Age, wherein the heroes are the "Big Fish". So, what Bigger Fish does the Wise One summon to stop them? Why, a three-headed dragon made from their parents, of course! The heroes win, obviously, but the intention was still there.
    • Part of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn revolves around you hunting down and activating the biggest BFG in Weyard's history so it can be used to destroy the Grave Eclipse; which has blanketed half the world in darkness, from which Demonic Spiders are appearing to kill everything.
  • GrimGrimoire has this as well in the battle. After Lillet steals the Lemegeton and releases Calvaros, she gets right to work summoning Grimlet to erase him — as you learn, the two had a deal, but Grimlet was sealed away before he could collect his "fee". After holding off the worst from Calvaros for thirty minutes, Grimlet appears, takes Calvaros' soul... and then gets owned by Lillet herself shortly thereafter. What a bitch...
  • In Guild Wars Prophecies, after fighting your way through the fortress of the Mursaat, who were conquering the entire continent at that time, you (unknowingly) release the Titans which come under the control of the Lich Lord, who has been manipulating the Players for some time by then. You have to kill the Titans too of course.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, Lana's Summoning Gate weapon allows her to summon scaled down versions of the game's larger boss enemies such as King Dodongo and Argorok, with her Special Attack summoning a giant Cucco. Played for laughs in the weapon style's victory animation, where Lana summons a large flock Cuccos who immediately starts chasing after her.
  • Early in Iji the plan with dealing with the Tasen is to alert their much more powerful enemies about their presence. They're worse.
  • The Immortal. So, you end up in a flooded dungeon. You row left, you get sucked and drowned by a whirlpool. You row right, you get chased and drowned by tentacled monster. Solution? Lure tentacled monster into a whirlpool. You get better.
  • The 'Summon Baatezu' ability given to Hellfire Warlocks in Neverwinter Nights 2 works like this. A powerful Devil will fight by your side for a number of rounds, but if you keep it around too long, it might turn on you...
  • Played with in inFAMOUS, the reason the ray sphere was made was because Kessler needed to make Cole strong enough to be able to stop the Beast, which Kessler himself had already failed to beat, therefore he went back in time to power his former self up until he became a "bigger fish". Zig-Zagging Trope indeed.
    • That's not even the end of it. In inFAMOUS 2, it's revealed that during the events of the first game, one of the helpful NPCs was accidentally turned into the fish that Cole was supposed to be bigger than, before he had a chance to become bigger than it!
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: The end of the game sees the rebel forces in their Darkest Hour: their plans have only served to drive Kal-el further into madness, and now the Man of Steel is going on an indiscriminate rampage of slaughter that none of the rebels have a prayer of stopping. So they bring in probably the only one capable of matching Superman head-to-head: the Superman from the other world, who proceeds to end the Regime in about twenty minutes.
  • Jagged Alliance Almost literal if playing JA 2 in Sci Fi mode during the side quest to kill the Crepitus. While exploring the mines, the character of M.D. will comment that he wished that he had some giant krill eating fish to deal with the party's giant bug problem.
  • League of Legends has a champion named Fizz, whose ultimate attack, "Chum the Waters", has him throw a small fish at an enemy, which brings a much bigger fish to chow down on anyone unfortunate enough to be near where the fish lands.
  • In the first Legacy of Kain game, Kain goes on a quest to find Vorador because Kain wasn't able to defeat Malek when they first fought. After describing how he fought and defeated Malek centuries ago, Vorador gives Kain a Ring of Power that can summon him. The next Malek shows up, Kain uses the ring and a rematch ensues.
  • In Mass Effect 3, at one point, all the heavy artillery is destroyed before a Reaper can get blasted with it, and the heroes appear out of options for dealing with said Reaper. They use the Maw Hammers at the Krogan proving grounds to summon Kalros, the "mother of all Thresher Maws", who is very angry that a Reaper is intruding on its territory...
    • Note that they were doing this just to distract the Reaper. They didn't count on the Thresher Maw to actually kill it!
    • Throughout the whole series, rule of thumb seems to be that if there's a problem, send Shepard to deal with it.
    • This trope is in used full-force with the Leviathan DLC, which reveals that the Leviathan entity is what killed the Leviathan of Dis Reaper. And you see a Leviathan kill a Sovereign-class Reaper firsthand!
    • Human colonies typically consist of only a small token military force on hand and rely on summoning the Alliance for protection. It helps that the Alliance keeps their fleet strategically positioned at key junctions in the Relay network so they're never more than a jump or two away.
  • Metroid:
    • The titular species have this as their entire purpose. When the X Parasites were discovered to be insanely destructive and dangerous, the Chozo genetically engineered the perfect predator to get rid of them. Decades later, when Samus kills all the Metroid species, the X parasites' population explodes.
    • Across the whole series, Samus herself is the bigger fish. The Galactic Federation calls Samus after the standard galactic troopers, orbital bombardment, and even other near superhuman/alien bounty hunters have failed.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War: See the rogue warrior sitting on top of a twenty-foot troll? Talion's has the ability to summon one beast unit and one captain no matter where he is, with a cooldown of about one minute. You can summon a graug (see page image), or a drake, or maybe you can just hire an olog.
  • In any given Mons game, everyone catches and collects various creatures in hoping that their Fish (literal or metaphorical) is the Biggest. You can take this trope to its extreme by adding Olympus Mons to your collection.
  • In Monster Hunter Tri, A relatively low-level monster known as the Qurupeco has the ability to mimic the calls of other monsters and summon them to its aid. In higher-level hunts, this usually involves monsters much nastier than it is.
    • If they have hunters of lower ranks, sometimes a group will intentionally try and make the Qurupeco summon said bigger fish.
    • Similarly, the otherwise harmless Noios in Monster Hunter World will scream if attacked. The scream mimics the call of Diablos, the apex monster of the area. They are also solitary and extremely territorial, so hearing what they think is another of their kind means a Diablos will quickly show up and brutally attack anything nearby.
  • Persona 5: The protagonist defeats the Big Bad, a fifty foot tall Eldritch Abomination god covered in gold and crystal armor, by summoning an even bigger Guardian Entity demon king, which then proceeds to take out the Big Bad by shooting it in the head with a skyscraper sized ornate rifle.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has a randomly-encountered mini-boss named Nyau, a small and cute cat-like creature wielding a sword. Nyau is very easily defeated, but after he is beaten, he always summons another boss, from the Mini-Mecha Knight Gear to the enormous Train Ghidoran.
  • A popular way to train weak Pokémon is to let them face more powerful mons and then switch to an even more powerful creature who can defeat the enemy, whereupon the weaker Pokémon gets a huge Exp. boost.
    • An in-universe version of this is the story of Yungoos. Alolans specifically imported them to deal with non-native invasive Rattata. It's played with because the Rattata, in response, developed nocturnal sleeping habits that led to the part-Dark-type Alolan regional variants. Since Yungoos are diurnal, the end result was that Alola is left with two non-native invasive species.
    • Happens earlier on in the series in Emerald. Both Groudon and Kyogre were unleashed and their clashing intense weather could end up destroying the world, the player is tasked with finding and capturing Rayquaza in order to nullify Groudon and Kyogre's abilities and stop the intense weather.
    • Happens again in Ruby and Sapphire remake's Delta Episode where the player is tasked with finding Rayquaza again, this time to use its Mega Evolution in order to stop an incoming meteor.
  • The titular rifts of, well, Rift can sometimes be triggered by specific actions. Since all six of the elemental planes hate each other, this can be a quick way to get out of a hairy situation.
  • In Scribblenauts this is the easiest way to solve combat-related puzzles. Need to get rid of an enemy soldier? Summon a warrior to fight him. Or a T-Rex. Or God. Or Cthulhu. You can also summon an Arapaima if you literally just want a bigger fish.
  • In Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, the threat of this trope can be used on the Big Bad if you know how the Fortune Engine works. True to form, you can point out you've crossed the Godzilla Threshold in the process: If you don't do it, the Big Bad kills you and turns Kowloon into her own private hellscape. If you do, every single Yama King kill you and the Big Bad and turn Kowloon into a series of public hellscapes. Functionally there's no difference to you since you'll die horribly either way and Kowloon is hardly going to get much worse from having several Demonic Invaders fighting each other over territory than a single one owning the whole pot.
  • In the ending of the normal path in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, the heroes face the finalboss, three Physical Gods merged into a single monster. After initially beating it, said villain devours the souls of a bunch of its followers and creates two clones of itself. With no other options, the main character Revya gives Gig, a Physical God who was also living inside him/her, full control the body, while Gig assuring that they'd both still be alive after he gave up control to convince Danatte to agree. Gig easily kills all three monsters, but dies since not taking control of Revya left him without a body, but Heaphness revives him in the ending anyways.
  • Star Bound allows you to literally summon bigger fish using the admin command /spawnmonster largefish.
  • StarCraft: Arcturus Mengsk used the Confederacy's own psi technology to lure the Zerg into attacking the Confederacy forces on Antiga Prime. This was seen as extreme, but forgivable as it was a military target; and the Zerg were already on Antiga Prime, and as such would have taken the planet eventually anyway. He later does it again against the Confederate capitol of Tarsonis. This time his own allies are horrified, as he's targeting an entire planet (Wings of Liberty confirms billions of people died as a result), and this planet hadn't been invaded by the Zerg yet.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, at one point during the Sith Inquisitor storyline on Corellia, they have the option to unleash a horde of zoo animals into Darth Thanaton's complex to wipe out his guards, while they hide behind a column and enjoy the show.
  • This is what Upper Crusters in Streets of Rogue attempt to do, although the effectiveness depends on the target. The Super Cops they summon probably won't pose a significant threat to anyone with a high firearms skill and a nice gun but if you're playing a character weak at direct combat or if target of the summon is another NPC then it can easily turn out to be a Curb-Stomp Battle due to their high stats and powerful weaponry.
    • Arguably describes the plot of the game as well. The Mayor has become corrupt and nobody can stop them so a rebel force recruits the player character to take them out. Turns out that when you get there you will pretty much always be a significantly bigger fish regardless of character class, to the extent that it's quite easy to clear the entire final floor (including the final "showdown" with the Mayor) in under a minute when you know what you're doing. However, upon doing so you then become the next Mayor who is in turn destined to become corrupt and have another fresh recruit hired to take them out. In a sense this means that the entire narrative of the game is essentially an infinite loop of summoning increasing bigger fish.
  • Whenever Super Robot Wars include Neon Genesis Evangelion, a strategy that can be useful against powerful enemies is to let EVA01 be destroyed. Instead of getting removed from the tactical map, it will go berserk, gain massive stat boosts, and will destroy most enemies with ease. However, it's uncontrollable and might attack your units instead (and you still need to pay its 40000 repair cost.)
  • Subverted, and then paired with Nice Job Breaking It Villain, in Tales of Phantasia. Dhaos needs a Mana Seed to revive his dying homeworld but the only way he can get it is from the World Tree; which humans are bleeding dry through their use of Magitek. So he sends (what he thinks) is an even stronger army of monsters out to smash their weaponry, resulting in the biggest conflict in the world's history. However, not only do his efforts completely fail (because the humans have the Five-Man Band on their side), but it's implied that the war he kickstarted led to the version of the present where Mana is all but gone; making it impossible for him to fulfill his goal anyway.
  • You can do this with the Halloween bosses in Team Fortress 2. Is there a player on the enemy team giving you a hard time while you try to fight the boss? Play as a Scout or Spy and bait one of the various goofy abominations over to him and make them his problem, since no one player has the power to tackle a Halloween threat on their own...just be sure to run away before the monsters decide to come after you next.
  • The story mode of Terrordrome the Game: Rise of the Boogeymen has two instances of this:
    • Knowing that they can't beat the Cenobites by themselves, Ash Williams and Herbert West summon Pumpkinhead to fight them.
    • At the end of The Tall Man's story mode, Cenobites are unable to beat him since an another version of him will simply appear whenever he is defeated, forcing them turn to their master Leviathan for help. When confronted by Leviathan's power, The Tall Man decides to retreat from their dimension.
  • The walkers in The Walking Dead are occasionally used by the protagonists to deal with whatever human villain is currently threatening them. For example, in the second season of the video game the heroes are all trapped inside a large shopping mall under the rule of a cruel and tyrannical leader by the name of Carver. When they notice that a large horde of walkers is passing through, they use the building's exterior speakers to attract them, deciding that it's better they take their chances escaping through a mob of unthinking neutral evil than having to suffer under a single, intelligent one.
  • Sometimes happens in World of Tanks with platoons. Players who select light tanks will sometimes run out, spot enemy tanks, and then try to run back towards friendly tanks hoping the enemy tanks will be stupid enough to follow. Given the random nature of the match making system, it can either lead to an idiot that died for nothing, and caused his whole team to fail, or, half the enemy team, including some of their best tanks being baited into an ambush.

  • Darths & Droids is the Trope Namer. Ironically, this never happens with the character who is convinced he can do that. (Except in two non-canon bonus strips). In this later strip Han says he did it on purpose with the giant space wyrm, but he could be lying or delusional like Qui-Gon. Should be noted, they're played by the same person. In a short filler arc between Episodes 2 and 3, based on a Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode which was likely itself a reference to the comic, Jar-Jar does it for real.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Garland has the innate power to summon any kind of monster. Problem is, he's not very smart.
  • Nukees: Gav, when in the after life and faced with a giant snake, decides to summon the god of alcohol, who has sworn to kill Gav.
  • After Bun-Bun first shows up in Sluggy Freelance Torg and Riff try to get rid of him by hiring a grizzly bear to be the new Team Pet, on the condition that he gets rid of Bun-Bun first. Turns out grizzly bear < mini lop.
    • In later arcs, the heroes often try to dispose of the latest threat by maneuvering the bad guy onto a collision course with Bun-Bun. Sometimes it works, sometimes Bun-Bun gets hit with The Worf Effect and other means are needed to save the day.
  • Lightning Made of Owls has Summon Bigger Cthulhu. As if one wasn't enough.
  • When Mike of College Roomies from Hell!!! gets attacked by a large octopus, he realizes the small knife he has won't be enough to win the battle so he cuts himself, attracting a shark with the smell of his blood to attack the octopus for him.
  • This happens in It's Walky! when SEMME is attacked by the Britjas (British ninjas; don't ask). After getting fought to a stalemate, they use the Power Booster Rod (a tree branch containing absurd amounts of extradimensional energy; again, don't ask) to summon The Wanderer, a being with god-like power who is very interested in keeping dimensional travelers out of his dimension. The Britjas are travelers from another dimension. Guess what happens.
  • Done as Parody in Nodwick, the heroes are going to make a barbeque for the locals so they go out hunting. The first thing they catch is a rabbit, which they use as bait to start climbing the food chain until they catch a tarrasque, one of the biggest and most fearsome (and also most foul smelling) animals in the world.
  • Done in Grim Tales from Down Below. Twice. The first time wasn't so effective and the second time got copied and lost the effectiveness of his best attack. Then the monster got serious only to be beaten by The Power of Love.
  • Dominic Deegan pulls this off here
  • Done to some interesting effect an early Apple Valley. In an attempt to counter a giant rampaging Apple of Chaos (evil cousin to The Apple of Discord), Doctor Hubris uses a magic wish to summon Gayzilla from a sister comic by the same author. A careful read-through of the archives shows that Gayzilla did *not* exist as part of the Apple Valley continuity beforehand, but has ever since.
  • What do you say to an angry god to keep from getting killed? If you're a character in User Friendly, the answer is "Hastur Hastur Hastur."
  • In The 10 Doctors, the Ninth Doctor utterly defeats the Black and White Guardian... by warping into the same time/place location with so many selves that it summons the Reapers.
  • Slight variation in Exterminatus Now: The bigger fish (a greater daemon) had been summoned previously. When the Big Bad becomes an ascended daemon prince, the heroes trick him into going into the room with the bigger fish.
    Morth: I see you mortals! Ha, "mortals"! I love it! You fools, that's a dead end! You have nowhere left to run. [Harry and Rogue, who were hiding behind the door, shut it behind him.] Where are you Harry? Ho ho! The fox has gone to the ground.
  • Tower of God: To dispose of Lurker, Ja Wangnan calls upon the help of the only guy who can help: an admitted religious fanatic and terrorist who proclaimed before that he'd fail everyone in the current batch of Regulars. The subversion kicks in the moment you remember that said terrorist is former main character Twenty-Fifth Bam, probably one of the nicest guys around.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the final chapter, Lalli's idea to get rid of the dusklings is to drop a couple of explosives in a giant's hideout, then arranging for the giant to find the dusklings first when it crawls out.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In Kickassia, the resistance invoke this trope onto Spoony, convincing him to give into the Dr. Insano inside him to combat the Nostalgia Critic. Note that Linkara thought it was a stupid plan and asked if Angry Joe was high when he planned it. Also, it didn't work and indirectly caused Santa Christ's death.

    Western Animation 
  • In the "Super Best Friends" episode of South Park David Blaine has brought the giant stone statue of Abraham Lincoln to life and it is terrorizing Washington, D.C.. The SBFs solution: build a giant stone statue of John Wilkes Booth, which sneaks up behind the Lincoln statue and shoots it in the back of the head.
  • In the first segment of Futurama: "Anthology of Interest I", a 500-foot Bender is attacking New New York City. According to Prof. Farnsworth, the only thing that could stop him would be "an even more equally big monster", and so he uses his growth ray on Zoidberg to battle him.
  • In the Grand Finale of Jackie Chan Adventures, Shendu is freed to combat his son Drago, who had absorbed the powers of all of Shendu's siblings. While they are battling, Uncle sends them both into another dimension.
  • There were a few occasions where The Real Ghostbusters had to let the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man out of the containment unit to fight another huge ghost hand-to-hand while they figured out how to put it down for good.
  • The Venture Bros.' Brock Samson engineered a situation like this when he and the Ventures were simultaneously hounded by the OSI and the Monarch, pitting the two against each other as a double use of the trope.
  • Jerry from Tom and Jerry sometimes sought protection from Tom in Spike the bulldog. Odd, since in Real Life dogs also kill mice and rats, sometimes just for fun.
  • One of the great moments in Robot Chicken: The Peanuts gang have almost all been killed off by The Great Pumpkin, and Charlie Brown, fleeing for his life, cowers at the base of the tree. The Great Pumpkin notices all the half-eaten kites and has time for an Oh, Crap!:
    Charlie Brown: Meet the kite-eating tree, you ugly son of a bitch!
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, the Quests enlist the aid of an Animal Wrongs Group they had a run in a few episodes earlier, to stop Surd who happens to be brainwashing whales.
  • In the episode "The Shrieking Madness" of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Scooby and the gang face Char Gar Gothakon, The Terror that Hath No Name, a creation of H.P. Hatecraft. In the course of defeating the Cthulhu stand-in, they get assistance from Harlan Ellison. Seriously. (This was easily the weirdest Scooby-Doo episode ever.)
  • Ben 10:
    • In the original series, during "Secret of the Omnitrix", Vilgax and his giant robots are set to annihilate Ben and his friends. Azmuth unlocks Ben's strongest alien form, a giant named Way Big who throws Vilgax into space like a softball.
    • From an episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, after getting it handed to her pretty well by her crazy, full anodite cousin Sunny, Gwen admits she can't beat her... and promptly calls her other full anodite relative, her Grandma Verdona, who easily puts Sunny in her place.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Bart the Mother" did this 4 times in a row. Bart accidentally kills a bird and nurses her eggs out of guilt. When the eggs hatch, they turn out to be of a voracious species of lizard that eats birds and leaves eggs in their nests. Bart releases them and Skinner tells him he has no idea what he has unleashed ...and later is commended for it because the lizards wiped out the pigeon population, which the town considered a plague.
      Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
      Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
      Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
      Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
      Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
      Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
      Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
    • In "D'oh-in' in the Wind", Springfielders suffer hallucinations from juice shipments which were loaded with peyote. Barney Gumble hallucinates a demonic monster, and stops it by drinking a Duff beer, summoning a pink elephant to kill it.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror XXVII" story "BFF R.I.P.", Lisa's former Imaginary Friend Rachel turns out to be real and murdering Lisa's friends so that she can be her only friend. Homer tries to stop Rachel by summoning his childhood imaginary friend, Sergeant Sausage. Unfortunately, Rachel defeats Sergeant Sausage easily.
  • An episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog has Eustace turn into the Monster of the Week; a kangaroo monster, which was known for jumping onto things to death (and is extinct as the dinosaurs). As he's jumping all over the world with Muriel hostage, Courage's computer tells him that "the only thing that can stop a kangaroo monster, is ANOTHER kangaroo monster". Reluctantly, Courage undergoes the same transformation Eustace did (kangaroo monster bone transplant) and proceeds to fight him in Paris, France.
  • The American Dad! episode "Bully for Steve" has Stan act as Steve's bully in an attempt to toughen him up. Steve, after getting fed up with his dad, contacts Stan's former bully, Stelio Kantos, who proceeds to beat his dad up.
  • Of the "immediately bites you in the ass" variety in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 1". Discord gets sent to deal with Tirek, but it backfires when Tirek talks him into switching sides.
  • The Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 1 episode "Bombad Jedi" culminates in Jar Jar Binks (who else!) befriending a gigantic alien fish on Rodia and summoning it to take on Nute Gunray and his droid soldiers that have Padmé captive. Looks like someone on the writing team was a fan of Darths & Droids.
  • Discussed in the Wander over Yonder episode "The Brainstorm" when Lord Hater asks what Peepers' plan is should Wander impede their attempt to conquer a planet with a picnic:
    Lord Hater: What if Wander throws a picnic, and invites the Watchdogs, and because his pie is so good they all go?
    Peepers: We'll bring giant ants.
    Lord Hater: What if he knows a giant anteater?
    Peepers: We'll bring a giant anteater eater.
    Lord Hater: What if he brings a—
    Peepers: And so on!
  • At one point in Young Justice, several low tier heroes are pinned down by Black Beetle, easily a Superman level threat. Arsenal responds to this by releasing Mongul. You know a guy who tried to exterminate all sentient life on Earth a week ago and was barely stopped. However, it's subverted due to Black Beetle being decidedly more powerful than Mongol, though Mongol puts up enough of a fight that the heroes are able to escape.
  • The Flamin' Thongs: After accidentally summoning the alien Kevins - who plan To Serve Man - to earth, the Thongs solve the problem by summoning another alien race who eat Kevins.
  • In one Samurai Jack, Jack is being chased down by the Minions of Set, Nigh Invulnerable demons who completely outclass Jack. He wins by summoning Ra, who obliterates the Minions of Set with ease.
  • Gravity Falls; in the episode "Fight Fighters", Dipper pisses Robbie off and the two agree to have a fight. Knowing he'll lose against the teen, Dipper ends up summoning a character from the titular Fighting Game to proxy for him. Things go wrong when the character takes the job seriously and tries to kill Robbie, forcing Dipper to fight.
  • In Dan Vs. "Canada", Chris saves Dan from a yeti by transforming into a bear.
  • Hey Arnold!: One episode features Arnold and the other fourth graders having to play football against Wolfgang and the fifth graders. To combat the fact the fifth graders are much larger than them, they ask Torvald (who is a fourth grader, but has been held back three times) to play. He effortlessly plows through the fifth graders and seems pretty unstoppable...until he trips and sprains his ankle.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Non-Compete Clause", the main characters are menaced by a school of biteacudas, carnivorous fish with bat wings. The students deal with them by employing this trope in a rather literal sense, namely by having Ocellus, a shapeshifting changeling, transform into a much bigger biteacuda and chase them away.
  • Subverted in Superman: The Animated Series. In "The Main Man", Superman is captured by the Preserver who captures beings who are the last of their kind. He escapes but is still weak from being kept under a Krypton-red sunlamp, and is captured just as he breaks open another cell. The villains naturally assume this trope, and decide to throw Superman to whatever bloodthirsty creature is in there. Turns out it's a dodo, being kept under Earth-like light that restores Superman's full powers.
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • A dueling version happens toward the end of an episode of U.S. Acres where Orson's attempt to read Rumpelstiltskin to Booker and Sheldon goes Off the Rails between the latter two, Wade, and Roy changing things. In-story, Wade and Roy portrayed the miller's son (who gave up his VCR instead of his firstborn) and Rumpelstiltskin, respectively. This exchange occurs just before the son can say Rumpelstiltskin's name:
      Roy: But before the duck son could say the name, a hurricane came up!
      Orson: A, a hurricane?
      Roy: Yes, a hurricane that blew the duck away so he couldn't take his VCR back.
      Wade: Uno momento!
      Orson: Guys...
      Wade: Then, a spaceship came by, and it rescued the handsome duck, and flew him back to reclaim his VCR!
      Orson: Guys, stop this.
      Roy: But the rooster was determined to get it back with the aid of his, uh, trained dinosaurs!
      Orson: Trained dinosaurs? Where did the trained dinosaurs come from?
      Roy: Same place all those ninjas came from.
      Wade: But then the Third Marine Division landed, with their Anti-Trained-Dinosaur Squadron!
      Roy: But the Mole People were too smart for the Marines!
      Orson: Guys!
      (a few minutes later)
      Wade: —Then eighty-three monsters take the VCR back!
      Roy: Then eighty-four monsters and a giant moth grab it back from the duck!
    • Done humorously in "Cinderella Cat". Garfield encounters a Fairy Godfather and is offered three wishes, but the Godfather just magically steals the things being wished for rather than creating them with his powers. Garfield finally deals with him via this trope - he wishes for the Fairy Godfather's wife to appear, and she drags the Fairy Godfather home so he won't cause any more trouble.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: After the main characters are surrounded by the Newton Wolves, the Scooter Skunks, the Mod Frogs, and the Hummerbombers, Jamack slaps Mega Bunny fur on each of them, then rescues the heroes when the Mega Bunny Mother comes. This is especially impressive given that he'd previously been shown to reduced to gibbering in terror at the mere sight of a Mega Bunny.

    Real Life 
  • Contrary to what some tropers seem to think, this does NOT include ordinary human cooperation, military alliances, or division of labor. This only applies when summoning an entity that would normally be your enemy, hoping that it will take over your fight for you.
  • Has happened a few times with invasive species. An example is in Australia, where rabbits had become a serious problem, so foxes were imported to try to kill the rabbits. As often with this trope, the foxes became a problem in themselves, while having little effect on the rabbits.
    • While we're on the subject of rabbits, it's theorized that the reason they scream bloody murder when seized by a predator is because it just might invoke this trope, causing a rival predator to intervene and giving the rabbit a slim chance to get away or at very least make predators too scared to hunt the rabbits.
    • Also, dinoflagellates light up when they are being eaten, in order to literally summon a bigger fish (that presumably does not eat dinoflagellates) to consume their current attacker.
    • When eaten by a turtle, the Portuguese man-of-war releases a shark-attracting chemical.
  • Some deep-sea jellyfish light up when being eaten by fish as so they will attract bigger fish or squid to eat the other fish.
  • An example of this Gone Horribly Wrong happened in mid-18th century Texas. In 1749, several Apache bands rode into San Antonio and announced to the Spanish colonial authorities there that they wanted to make peace, convert to Christianity, and become loyal subjects of Spanish crown; they would do this if the Spanish would come and establish a mission and a fort in their territory. This smelled fishy from the start and many Spaniards doubted the Apaches' sincerity, but eventually the padres and the optimists in the government won out and by 1757 the fort and the mission were established on the bank of the San Saba river. The Apaches had been losing their war with the Comanches, and in fact they had tricked the Spanish into building their settlement in the territory of the Comanches—who they knew would consider this an act of war—in the hope that the Spanish would deal with the Comanches. In March 1758 a huge force of Comanches came and massacred the padres on the mission while the soldiers and civilians cowered inside the fort, and in October 1759 the Spaniards' punitive expedition of 600 men encountered such a large force of Comanches that they scattered and ran almost immediately, resulting in the most humiliating defeat the Spanish had suffered in the New World.
  • Large amounts of Dark Ages history in Europe can be summarised as 'Local King Hires Mercenaries', 'Local King Fails to Pay Mercenaries', 'Unpaid Mercenaries Take Over Kingdom'.
  • Some insects such as caterpillars obtain protection from ants against their predators by secreting sugar to the ants.
  • Some plant species can, when attacked by insect pests, send out chemical calls to summon wasps, which eat the other bugs.
  • Ravens have been reported to mimic the howling of wolves when they find a deer or other large prey animal trapped in snow or underbrush. The howling attracts the attention of real wolves, who come to check out the possible intruder; instead, they find and kill the deer, and the ravens get to scavenge the carcass's remnants.
  • An old treatment for late-stage syphilis back before antibiotics (which won the discoverer a Nobel Prize) was to introduce malaria-causing pathogen into a syphilitic patient. The high fever induced by malaria would kill the bacteria that caused syphilis, and the malaria could be more easily treated with quinine. While there was roughly a 15% chance the fever would also kill the patient, it was better than near-certain death from syphilis.
  • This story features a corporate example: A site was using bots to register when someone commented on pictures saying "I want this on a shirt" so that they could then illegally sell merch without the permission of the artist. Since the site was nearly impossible to bring down, people started using their bots against them by commenting "I want this on a shirt" on copyrighted Disney artwork! The site was taken down soon after.
    The devil works hard, but Disney works harder.
  • This video of a battle between a crab and an octopus but mostly by accident. The crab was losing until a seal came by and snatched up the octopus. The reason the seal was there in the first place was because it learned that there's food wherever the film crew was shooting (thanks to their lighting equipment). The crab was saved because the film crew thought it was interesting.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Did Godzilla Just Punch Out Cthulhu


Give into the madness, Spoony

The rest of the Kickassians decide to summon Dr. Insano to take care of their Critic problem.

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Example of:

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