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Tap on the Head

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"In fantasy, heroes get knocked out, awaken after a while as if from a nap, and plunge right back into action. The truth is, a mild concussion is disabling for periods ranging from hours to days, and as for a severe one, the consequences are not pleasant to watch."

In fiction, anyone caught unaware may be easily, instantaneously and noiselessly incapacitated with a single blow to the head (or alternatively, a karate chop to the neck). A character thus treated will usually be perfectly fine afterwards; oh, they may have a headache, dizziness, slightly blurred vision, or in the very worst cases, Laser-Guided Amnesia, but this is nothing compared to the real danger — the Bad Guys standing around the operating table (or other heavy piece of furniture) to which they find themselves tied down. For heroes, this is the perfect way to dispatch the villains. When you knock them out cold, you don't have to worry about breaking any moral codes or violating the censors on weapons, guns and blood. In other words, when fictional characters take a blow to the head, they'll suffer nothing worse than an unplanned nap. (This is why In the Back does not apply — hitting someone from behind is not really dangerous.)

For obvious reasons, not Truth in Television. Any sort of damage to the brain, even 'minor' trauma, can have devastating results. It's the difference between turning a computer off by shutting it down and by hitting it. The latter is likely to cause serious long-term damage.

Most real-life unconsciousness due to injury lasts only a few seconds, not some indeterminate amount of time lasting hours or days during which our hero can be carted around, dressed/undressed etc. To K.O. someone for an extended amount of time requires a fair bit of force, and such an impact is going to leave visible damage to the head. If you are out longer than a few minutes, some combination of brain damage, coma, cranial bleeding, loss of motor and cognitive functions, and amnesia is going to greet you when you wake up — if you wake up.

The "karate chop to the neck" version may have been removed from modern TV because if you hit the right spot it actually can knock you out, though not without serious risk of death. It utilizes the Carotid Sinus Reflex (the reason you should not take a pulse at the neck) and is very dangerous. There have also been depictions in productions as varied as the lighthearted I Spy and as dark as Callan in which neck-chopping unambiguously is shown to be fatal because it breaks the target's neck, which circles back to unrealistic — breaking a person's neck takes a lot of force.

Despite having very little grounding in reality, the Tap on the Head is still commonly applied in fiction — after all, Tropes Are Tools. Maybe The Hero is a bit too good at their job, or the Big Bad's minions are getting too big for their britches and need an attitude adjustment, or the Tagalong Kid needs to be stopped from suffering (or causing) a fatal case of Cerebus Syndrome. Sometimes a brief bus trip is just something the plot needs to proceed, and rendering the offending character unconscious is a quick and easy excuse to get the ball rolling without actually killing them off. It might be justified if the character who's knocked out has super or magic powers of some kind (such as healing factors or invulnerability), as that would allow them to shake off something that would otherwise cause a concussion.

Other variants of the trope:

  • In Western media, there's the punch to the jaw (AKA a "knockout punch"). Again, in reality this could inflict serious injury to both parties. Without hand protection, the attacker could very easily break his fingers; boxers and MMA fighters wear gloves not to protect their opponents' heads (which they only partially donote ), but to protect their own hands (which they do). Modern-day productions often depict the person throwing the punch injuring their hand in some way, sometimes for humorous effect.
  • Common in anime is the "sharp shot to the solar plexus", often used to subdue a struggling person. It makes it fairly easy to pick up the now-unconscious person and sling them over one's shoulder for easy carrying. Its effects are just as exaggerated as the Western version; in real life, such a blow does not cause unconsciousness but does cause the muscles of the diaphragm to spasm uncontrollably, making any activity requiring air very difficult. It is safer than a blow to the throat or the back of the head, but can occasionally lead to dangerous organ or nerve damage and is thus best avoided.
  • Choke Holds, where an arm around the neck is used to cut off blood to the brain ("blood strangle/choke") or oxygen to the lungs (chokehold, stranglehold). Properly applied, this is a safer and more reliable way of causing someone to become unconscious (still used in judo/jiujitsu competitions to this day), but carries a risk of stroke or other dangerous problems if used on an older victim or one with a weakened circulatory system. It also tends to wear off quickly (as in, after a couple of seconds), or alternatively when it doesn't, cause varying levels of brain damage. Not depicted very often in film or TV as it's difficult to distinguish on screen between a choke hold and someone having their neck broken or being strangled to death, potentially giving the wrong impression if the intent is to show non-lethal takedowns.
  • Another variant is instant knockout caused by shattering either a vase or lamp over someone's head or even just on their back. This is even more of a no-no in real life, as a hand made of flesh is merciful compared to a hard object. Swinging a few pounds of porcelain at the noggin with enough force to shatter said porcelain is a definite leap from "attempted knockout" to "attempted murder".
  • Sometimes the knock-out victim will be hit with a tranquilizer dart instead of being hit. While this is a bit safer and more grounded in reality (as any park ranger can tell you), anasthesia is risky, as too small of a dose doesn't give the target anything worse than a moment of drowsiness, while an overdose could cause cardiac arrest. The exact height, weight, and species of the target must be known before hand or else there's a risk of losing or killing the target (or of your target waking up before you want them to and rampaging through San Diego). Of course, in fiction the dart will always inject the exact amount of tranquilizer no matter who it hits, and the victim will suffer no ill effects upon waking up.
  • If played for laughs, the knock-out may be accompanied by Circling Birdies or a Cranial Eruption.
  • Can induce moments of euphoria.

See also Frying Pan of Doom, Rolling Pin of Doom, Back Stab, Blinded by the Light, Choke Holds, Instant Sedation, Pressure Point, Put Their Heads Together, Flower-Pot Drop. Contrast Death by Falling Over. Often leads to Waking Up Elsewhere. Pistol-Whipping is a Sub-Trope. Non-Lethal K.O. is a related trope in video games. Can be used to initiate an Injury Bookend.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Mei knocks her colleague Mai unconscious with a karate chop when the latter starts pummeling Rentarou's chest with her fists.
  • Chie Shinohara: The Best Collection plays this straight in Farewell To The Eyewitness. Ryoko smacks an iron pipe over Murakami's head when he tries to rape her, immediately killing him. Subverted in the revelation that Murakami was merely unconscious from her blow and came around, just as Saiki found him and began to beat Murakami to death through multiple whacks with the iron pipe.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Characters can shrug off blasts and blows powerful enough to pulverize mountains, planets, and solar systems, but one little tap on the back of the head and they're down for the count. This is explained as the characters can only survive such attacks because their Ki is active, when their body is emptied of Ki (such as when they let their guard down) their body are just as fragile as any normal human.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods shows that this applies to gods as well as mortals, with Whis using the chop-to-the-neck version to knock Beerus out. In Dragon Ball Super his sister Vados does the same to Beerus's brother Champa.
  • Both Tanjiro and Inosuke of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba spend hours of their respective first appearances unconscious after heavy blows to the head, then carry on with immediate running and fighting as though nothing happened — in Inosuke's case, even bashing his skull into several trees as soon as he awakens. For Tanjiro, it's attributed to his impressively thick skull, and for Inosuke, his immense toughness, though such traits at best protect the integrity of the skull itself and do nothing to prevent concussion. For Inosuke, at least, brain damage might not be readily apparent to the naked eye.
  • In Gate episode 10 Kuribayashi refers to and defies this trope while determining what to do with a prisoner, pointing out that unlike on TV if you actually hit someone in the head hard enough to knock them out they might die as a result. She's in favor of just shooting him outright since they can't take him along, but fortunately Lelei puts a sleeping spell on him instead.
  • How to Treat a Lady Knight Right: Parodied in chapter 67 — Houli comes under attack by multiple trolls while Helga is showering in a waterfall. Out of embarrassment of having to defend Houli in just her underwear, she tries to knock him out for the duration of the fight. It doesn't work well, causing her to have to try to knock him out multiple times and leaving him to remark that it was like someone was kicking him while he was down after she actually succeeds in conking him out for a longer time.
  • Used rather absurdly in Hunter × Hunter, although with nods to its dangerousness. Killua uses it to quickly advance through a tournament, but says he has to hold back to avoid killing his opponents. Chrollo uses one faster than the human eye can perceive in order to make it look like a girl fainted next to him. Someone watching a frame by frame video recording of it notes that it's surprising that he didn't chop her head off.
  • Inuyasha:
    • The "sharp shot to the solar plexus" move was once used by Miroku to subdue a peasant girl whom he was trying to move to safety. However, the women of the village had also been possessed by a demon, which Miroku knew. Hitting them in that location was the only way to free them from the demonic possession.
    • Subverted hilariously when Kagome first meets Shippo. He steals the jewel shards from her and then tries to knock her out with a karate chop to the neck. Because he's young and weak though, Kagome just rounds on him and shouts, "Hey, that hurts!"
  • Mazinger Z: Boss used the "low blow to the solar plexus" variant with Kouji to try to avoid he fought against the Mykene Warrior Monsters in the last episode. Maybe it was used in a more realistic way than usual, though, since when Kouji regained consciousness a while after, he seemed being in pain.
  • Panzer World Galient used the "karate chop to the neck" variant in episode 5. Hy struck Lord Protz in the side of the throat, and the blow was strong enough to slam Protz on a nearby railing.
  • Used inconsistently in the Ranma ½ manga and anime. Not counting the comedy Hammerspace hammers, or the ubiquitous Megaton Punch, there are many instances where these martial arts masters are knocked out with serious, deliberate blows to the head. Since these are people who have withstood the equivalent of exploding tank shells, mountains collapsing on top of them, and accumulative damage from prolonged duels, the ease with which they can be incapacitated with an elbow (or kick) to the skull is mind-boggling.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke knocks Sakura out with a blow to the back of the head before leaving Konoha. When she got up, it was exactly like she just fell asleep. While we don't see the actual blow it's implied it was one of these.
    • The Waterfall Village OVA. Sakura is put in charge of guarding the children while Naruto and Sasuke are off doing other things. A little while later, cue karate chop to the back of Sakura's neck and her being knocked out. Her attacker then let's out a scoff, saying he can't believe she's actually a ninja if she got caught off guard that easilly.
  • Fushigi Yuugi plays it straight and parodies it. Tamahome seems to like striking people smack over the head, punching their jaws out, and taking out their guts. However, he gets a taste of this in the middle of the series from fellow Suzaku Seishi Nuriko.
    Nuriko: [taps Tamahome on the back of the head] Tamakinsy-kins!
    Tamahome: [gets his face smacked into his food]
    Nuriko: [smiles innocently] That's funny! I just meant to give you a little tap on the head!
  • Subverted in Le Chevalier d'Eon's scene where Robin tries to Pistol Whip a guard unconscious. He only succeeds in hurting the guard, and has to resort to a more vigorous attack to bring him down.
  • On December 18, year unknown, Kyon and the SOS Brigade finish a meeting and walk down the stairs. Everybody's at the bottom, and Kyon starts coming down. Somebody gives him a Tap On the head. He rolls down the stairs painfully and falls in a coma for 3 days. Turns out in an alternate universe (don't ask), Kyon got stabbed in the abdomen and his friends from the original universe come and save him and to restore time and... You know what, it'll all make sense in Vanishment.
  • Angel Beats!!: When Iwasawa was alive, her father smashed a bottle over her head when she was trying to stop one of his and her mother's fights. She was mostly alright until the next day, when she collapsed at work due to a cerebral contusion caused by the hit. When she woke up in the hospital, she couldn't use her voice, and died soon afterward.
  • In Elfen Lied, Nyu is a result of Lucy getting her helmet shot off by what looks to be an anti-materiel rifle, making that what constitutes as a tap on the head for a Diclonus. It does avert the "no brain damage" part of this trope in that Nyu is quite obviously the result of such a thing, though her fully functional Lucy side is able to take control at times.
  • In Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka uses the "stiff shot to the solar plexus" variant to knock out San and Lady Eboshi, thereby ending the fight between the two women.
  • Bleach:
    • Anime episode 34. Ichigo has just been healed by Hanataro after a fight with Renji Abarai. Ignoring Hanatoro's warning not to move or he'll re-open his wounds, Ichigo is walking away when he's suddenly punched in the face and knocked unconscious by Ganju Shiba so he'll have to rest.
    • Anime episode 43 has two examples. When a Soul Reaper is suspicious of Uryu and Orihime, another Soul Reaper knocks him out with a piece of wood to the back of the head. There's also a fairly ridiculous example where Orihime gets a chop to the neck by a guy that just wanted her to shut up. It's not played as okay on that occasion, as the man realises he hit her too hard and is very worried about what damage he may have done to her (none, as it turned out, meaning this trope was still played straight).
    • Anime episode 362. Orihime and Chad are knocked out by Kisuke Urahara and Ichigo's father by being hit on the back of the head, since they're under the effect of Tsukishima's nasty Mind Rape and further struggle would cause them brain damage.
  • Paired up with Instant Sedation in Valkyria Chronicles as the "solar plexus" variation in a one-two punch of outdated knockout tropes. Almost immediately after Princess Cordelia is put out via chloroform rag, Alicia stumbles across the guilty party making off with her, earning a particularly vicious-looking fist in the gut and a spot next to the former kidnapped party.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Team La Verite episode 2. While Ryuuka and Mariel are in a contest Ryuuka is hit on the head by a falling heavy metal basin and knocked unconscious. It turns out she was supposed to catch it.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, there's a scene where Heero, Duo, and Trowa (the later posing as a member of the enemy forces) are cornered in a room. Heero asks Duo, completely out of left field, to punch him. Duo complies, and his right hook is "rewarded" with a shot to the solar plexus ("W-why?" "One for one; we're even now."). The idea was to knock Duo out so he could affect his own escape later, while Heero pretended to be KO'd and made a break for it when the soldiers were distracted by talking to Trowa, who pretended he captured the pair.
  • Sengoku Basara has Kojuro hit Masamune in the shoulder/neck area with the blunt edge of his sword, knocking him out. It causes no lasting damage but another character calls him out on the risk.
  • Lampshaded in Yuyushiki, where Yuzuko states that she is a big fan of this trope. She attempts to knock Yui out with a chop to the neck a few episodes later, only to receive a stern lecture about how the move doesn't work in real life and instead can lead to serious injuries.
  • Homura does the "karate chop to the neck" trick to Sayaka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This one is especially weird, because Kyouko had recently smashed Sayaka against a wall, intending to cause serious injury, but her powerful healing magic kicked in and she got up immediately. Yet the karate chop causes long-lasting unconsciousness.
  • Played with, justified, and lampshaded in Cyborg 009. Joe/009 is clubbed on the head by a giant monster. When he wakes up, he's very incoherent and in terrible pain as he gets back to his team. He needs a patch-up when he gets there, and Albert/004 notes that the head injury he sustained would probably have killed a regular human.
  • Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise: One night, Shiro gets knocked out by having a vase smashed over his head. The next morning, he's up and about with no problems.
  • Played very, very seriously in Sakura Gari. Masataka's older brother Takafumi is subjected to Police Brutality and one of the cops hits him in the head. The next day, the resulting brain damage kills him.
  • Regularly used in Case Closed. Sometimes it's just a way to knock people out (like it happened to Shinichi before he was forcibly poisoned and ended up shrunk as a result), but many times it straight-up becomes a murder method.
    • Subverted in the anime, where Akemi uses a "chop to the neck" on Conan: he remains conscious and can even talk, but is clearly in pain for a short while and has to sue one of his gadgets to keep track on her.
  • In Nichijou, Mio does this to a police officer when he takes her tote bag to check for counterfeit bills and pulls out the yaoi manga she was working on, sending him flying back several feet and knocking him out cold.
  • Averted in Manga Monster Musume: At one point Lala clubs Kimihito over the head, nearly killing him. Which was her intent: she's a psychopomp and deliberately gave him a near-death experience so that she could have a private conversation with him in the Afterlife Antechamber. Also played straight in that Kimihito doesn't need to worry about any lasting damage given that the beginning of said chapter has the doctors being baffled by the fact that he has zero lasting damages from the various near-death experiences the girls caused him, thus the whack is just par on the course.
  • In Detective School Q, Maya Asabuki is found bleeding out from a wound on her head; she was beaten by the killer of the case to silence her. She survives, but barely... which is an improvement from the original manga case, where she was fatally stabbed instead.
  • Subverted in Tokyo Magnitude. Eight year old Yuuki gets hit on the head with rubble and seems fine at first, but a few episodes later he faints. He ends up dying of a concussion.
  • Played realistically in Holyland: during their fight, Shogo (a Karateka) knocks Tsuchiya (a Wrestler) out with a hammer punch to the base of the neck, a move adapted from the tile-breaking chop exercise, and while he wakes up quickly Tsuchiya has either serious trouble moving for a while or, being a Wrestler, knows he may well have a concussion and doesn't dare moving yet.
  • Borderline with Shota Aizawa in My Hero Academia. He does show up to work covered in bandages after villains invade his students’ training session, but despite having his head repeatedly slammed into the ground by a powerful Nomu to the point of rendering it quite bloody and ultimately knocking him out, he hasn’t shown any lasting mental impairment.

    Audio Plays 
  • In "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger", Nick gets hit on the head by Nancy/Betty Jo. As he slowly fades into unconsciousness, he begins to hear voices, one of which is the announcer saying, "we'll be back to Nick Danger after these commercial messages".
  • People who get knocked over the head with heavy objects in Wolf 359 have a surprising lack of concussion. Most notably Eiffel, who gets knocked out multiple times but wakes up with only a brief moment of wooziness and a headache.

    Comic Books 
  • Happened all the time to Aquaman in the Golden and Silver Ages before his super durability was established, and even afterwards if the attacker had something heavy enough.
  • Asterix, Obélix and company frequently employ this against Roman legionaries, bandits, and other foes. Although "tap" is sort of a mild way of putting it, given their Super-Strength. In Astérix and the Big Fight, Obélix accidentally flattens Getafix the Druid with a menhir (causing the latter to develop temporary Identity Amnesia); he then describes it to others as "just a tap on the head". It has to be noted that all injuries in this series are Amusing Injuries. The menhir example above is the one case where the injury has any long-lasting effect.
  • Black Dynamite: A rather comical example. Black Dynamite is knocked out by being hit in the head with a badminton shuttlecock. That being said, it's shown that Jack Purcell's shuttlecocks can hit with incredible force.
  • Superman:
  • Tintin: The main character falls prey to this so often that one suspects he has a fainting button on his head. In fact, in a joke section of a medical journal dealing with brain injuries it was once speculated that Tintin's perpetually youthful appearance was due to the repeated blows to the head damaging his pituitary gland and stunting his growth.
  • Yoko Tsuno, the main character of Roger Leloup's comic book of the same name, is an Aikido expert who uses the "chop to the neck" movement (which is named yokomen in Aikido) regularly on her rivals. Yoko herself frequently faints after being chopped on the neck, her enemies all seem aware of Yoko's vunerability in this area, almost as if Yoko has something on her neck that says "hit me here to make me faint".
  • Happens frequently in Blake and Mortimer. The worst long-lasting effect this would have was characters having their heads bandaged for some time after waking up.
  • Also happens a lot in Spirou and Fantasio, where knocking out someone has exactly the same effects as a wand of sleep.
  • In Violine, various characters get a tap on the head. Unusually, blood can be seen when the blow is struck, and at least one mook is implied to have died from it.
  • Happens to Green Lantern Hal Jordan almost constantly to the point there's an online archive of all his head injuries. Having a magic ring to help boost your biological systems helps.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Wonder Woman, back in the late Golden Age and early Silver Age, could be stopped by a simple blow to the back of the head, which lasted longer than the "powerless if bracelets are welded together by a man" Weaksauce Weakness. Since Power Creep, Power Seep was making it increasingly hard to Hand Wave her having the same vulnerabilities as a mere mortal, blows to the head were actually Voodoo Sharked at one point by stating that Amazons had a nerve cluster there that remained an Achilles' Heel, no matter how Nigh-Invulnerable they were.
    • Back in the Golden Age this happened to Steve Trevor constantly. He'd take down whatever opponents he was facing and then get snuck up on while sleuthing or tailing the bad guys and knocked out with a hit to the back of the head.
  • The second Batgirl Cassandra Cain did this multiple times to her friend Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) whenever they faced a threat she felt was too great for her. Cassandra was the poster girl for Charles Atlas Superpower and Stephanie complained later that it felt like Cass broke her jaw.
  • In the Comic version of Resident Evil Code Veronica, Claire is knocked out 4 times. the first 3 are similar to the game, the fourth time she manages to escape captivity from Alexia, is almost killed by a hunter, but Alexia saves her, saying it would've been too painless, then knocks Claire out herself before trapping her in the cocoon we see her in.
  • In Kick-Ass, the titular hero gets smacked around so hard he needs a steel plate in his head. After much, much healing the plate somehow provides a limited amount of impact-to-skull protection. Although it's not that the plate provides protection so much as he's already suffered sufficient nerve damage that hitting him there won't do any more.
  • The famous "One punch!" with which Batman knocks out Guy Gardner. The only after-effect is a comedy personality change.
    • To avoid the implication that Batman had given Gardner brain damage, the personality change isn't caused by the punch, but rather by Gardner bonking his head on the underside of a desk, after waking up from the punch.
      • That, and Gardner'd already suffered brain damage before. And was faking it here anyway.
  • Comic books RUN on this trope, especially the "punch to the jaw" version, which virtually every superhero uses as a standard method of dealing with mooks. One wonders if the general insanity of Gotham City criminals might be Batman's own fault, from dishing out so many concussions to formerly-ordinary thugs.
  • Deconstructed in the Secret Invasion tie-in from New Avengers. Shanna the She-Devil tries to knock out a female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in order to steal her uniform, but the karate chop to the neck ends up killing her instead. It turns out that the "agent" was actually a Skrull impostor anyway, so there's no resulting angst.
  • Inverted in the first issue of the Charlton Comics illustrated magazine version of The Six Million Dollar Man where Austin — depicted in the B&W title closer to the cold-blooded killer of the original novels than the TV version — karate chops a scientist in the neck with his bionic arm, obviously killing him, and then impersonates him for the rest of the story (after spending a night with his wife).
  • There's a rare aversion in Don MacGregor's Jungle Action run. W'Kabi is knocked out by a blow to the head, and the injury ends up being so severe that he almost dies. This is even Lampshaded when T'Challa says that it's hard to believe a single head wound could really kill someone.
  • Sunshine KOs Raven with a bottle at the end of the first issue of Princeless - Raven: The Pirate Princess.
  • Murena: Averted when Lucius is knocked out during a fight with a thug. Not only does he stay down, the treatment used to bring him back seriously messes with his memories (he also gets used as a living dildo by the woman who recued him, but even that doesn't wake him up).
  • In Hex Wives #3, Aaron knocks out Isadora by hitting her over the back of the head with a lamp. When she wakes up, she can't remember what happened, and has a bruise that Aaron tells her she got from rolling out of bed.
  • Invoked for laughs in an issue of The Batman Adventures: When The Riddler gets out of prison and declares that he's giving up because he's tired of always being outwitted by Batman, one of his henchmen points out that since Batman gets hit on the head a lot maybe his wits aren't as sharp as they used to be.
  • In Tragg and the Sky Gods #5, Tragg and Lorn—who are established as being much tougher than normal humans—are both knocked out by rocks thrown by the man-apes.
  • Transformers (2019): Subverted when Hook accidentally hits a worker in the head with a broken girder. Said worker is instantly killed by having his head crushed.
  • Sideways: Tragically attempted and averted. Derek's mom is killed when her self absorbed personal assistant tries to knock her out by hitting her in the head.
  • Simon Dark: Justified. When the possessed cultists want to immobilize Tom they hit him in the back of the head with a metal bat hard enough to snap his neck. This does not keep him out long, which is understandable as his reaction to getting shot in the temple at point blank range is to say that it stings a bit, and when the cultists impale his head to keep him still he complains about how annoying it is.
  • Averted in Judge Colt. In #3, Jesse gets hit over the head with a club after being mistaken for Colt. He winds up with a bad concussion that requires several days bed rest, and Colt remarks that he is lucky he wasn't killed.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Flash Gordon, Aura uses this on Flash to let her father escape with Dale, so she can have Flash herself.
  • One New Yorker cartoon by Sam Gross showed The Sandman preparing to knock a guy out with a large mallet.
    "Sorry about this, but I just ran out of sand.”
  • Spider-Man has an almost supernatural ability to get his skull smashed in by bricks. Usually this is done by a bad guy using one as a weapon, but sometimes Peter manages to blunder into a brick wall or some other stationary head-height object on his own. Presumably getting knocked out every week has impacted his ability to navigate rooms safely.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has this from time to time, but those who undergo it usually have enhanced healing abilities, or access to magical/borderline magical medicine to compensate for it. Additionally, in chapter 55 of the sequel, Harry points out to Clark (in the context of how remarkable Clark's control of his powers is) that even an ordinary human strength blow to the head can do severe damage, or even kill someone, if they're not extremely careful. With Clark's kind of strength, the risk is rather ... messier. Cue Clark going rather green.
  • Spider-Ninja: Played somewhat realistically. Stockman is taken down when Leo punches him in the face hard enough to knock him out. Donnie says later that Stockman needed to be brought in for medical treatment before SHIELD could stick him in a cell, as Stockman's nose was broken.
  • In Eleutherophobia: Back to the Future, Tom recalls a time when he watched his dad's Yeerk hit a girl on her head and knock her unconscious when they were both Controllers.
  • Graduate Meeting of Mutual Killing averts this trope. The protagonist Akane Ogata gets hit by a piston, full force, and loses consciousness. While she doesn't die, when she wakes up she's drenched in blood and in great pain. Few moments later, she gets hit in the head again, this time falling into a coma.
  • Six Brides For Two Sisters has Rarity blocking Twilight from teleporting herself and other ponies away from an awkward social situation. When the guards come by, Twilight asks Applejack to do this (Twilight had mentioned earlier that if she were to just plow through the block, she might kill Rarity from the backlash), her waning sanity putting faith in this trope. Applejack disagrees. 'One, what Ah'm trying to say is that if I kick Rarity in the head hard enough to knock her out, Ah'm liable to cave her skull in, or break her neck, or somethin'.'
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction Jericho (MLP) uses this in a very interesting way. It gets amazingly played straight, lampshaded, subverted, and deconstructed—all in one chapter! First Jericho knocks a stallion unconscious with a side-neck chop, has a What the Hell, Hero? moment on himself wherein he lampshades this; then when Jericho himself get a nightstick upside the head, he only gets a nasty, nasty bruise. (The deconstruction is the head injury he gets and how he could have killed that one guy.)
    Jericho: Oh, you mean the side-neck chop? That's just a martial arts move. I mean, yeah, if I'd done it wrong, it would have killed him via cardiac arrest, and so, in hindsight, that was highly irresponsible of me to do but... I'm not helping my case any, am I?
  • Summer Days and Evening Flames: Farrington Guard Captain Iron Bulwark is on the receiving end when Sergeant Sherry escapes his custody. He assures the two guards (actually one) that he's okay, and is sent all the way to the hospital to confirm that he's okay.
  • Narnia fanfiction The Fledgling Year does this consistently. Whenever a character is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, they're typically only out for a moment (the exception being when Aravis falls off a cliff in chapter 54), and usually don't suffer any permanent damage. The common version of this trope, the "knockout punch" to the jaw, is subverted and then lampshaded by Cor:
    Cor: I barely had time to put my hands up when one of them hit me in the jaw—I could tell they were only common thugs, since even I know not to punch the face. He fell back yelping about his knuckles.
  • Despair's Last Resort has this be the cause of death for both victims in Chapter 3, Naomi Williams and Shigeru Kitagawa. The former was whacked in the head with a shovel, though didn't die instantly as she was able to stab Shigeru in the leg and write a dying message. The latter was killed with a bottle of wine, though there's no evidence to say his death was instant.
  • Happens in the Danny Phantom/Beetlejuice crossover, Say It Thrice, but it was definitely not Played for Laughs. Sanduleak hits Lydia hard enough that there is some serious concerns that it might have been fatal (which is what he was aiming for anyway). Even afterwards, the others think they should call an ambulance or take Lydia to a hospital.
  • Averted in the Pacific Rim fanfiction Call Me Over to the Other Side. Kidnapped pilot Chuck Hansen is thrown into a van, hitting his head and eventually passing out. He's unconscious for several hours, and when he finally comes to it's revealed that the injury has caused serious problems, such as a concussion and skull fracture, leading to a slow but long-lasting brain bleed. He nearly died. Even though the injury is very severe and goes untreated for some time, it doesn't seem to impede his cognition.
  • Subverted in the Jem Dark Fic Epitaph. Before kidnapping her, Zipper knocks Kimber out by slamming her head on the bumper of a car. Zipper intended for this trope to work, but when he gets Kimber out of the trunk a few hours later he notices that his kidnapping has turned into a murder.
  • In The Portal, Blizzard does this to Alex shortly after the latter's arrival in the Dragon Realms.
  • In Olive's Last Partner, the blast of orange juice that comes from the torn-open boiler in the Boiler Room sweeps Olive off of her feet and sends her colliding with a wall, which knocks her out cold. She wakes up after only a short amount of time has passed, enough to the point where the orange juice flooding the room is up to her waist, and is groggy for a few moments before she snaps back into being fully conscious and aware of her surroundings. She doesn't suffer any injuries aside from a painful lump on the side of her head and doesn't even receive any medical treatment, whether in this story or in its sequel, Ships Ahoy!.
  • In All Mixed Up!, after anagramming Mariana Mag, Otto slips out of her grip, hits his head on the platform he's standing on, and gets knocked out. He wakes up a couple minutes later to Carlos calling his name, although the agent is unable to speak due to Mariana having used her stun gun on him and paralyzing the right side of his body earlier during their fight.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011) naturally plays this straight to the point of exuberance.
  • Happens twice in Disney's Aladdin.
    • When Jafar has the city guards kidnap Aladdin, one of the guards knocks Aladdin out with a truncheon-like device.
    • During the fight between Aladdin and Snake!Jafar near the end of the movie, Abu hits Iago over the head with what looks like a dish cover, making his head ring like a gong and knocking him out.
  • In his Show Within a Show, the eponymous hero from Disney's Bolt disables a Mook with a karate chop to the neck. When he tries it outside the show, however, he turns out to be so weak that the guy isn't even aware that he's being attacked.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift: Manny is knocked out by a giant ball of ice thrown by the pirates. He gets better.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Yukon Cornelius drops a rock on the Bumble's head and KO's him temporarily.
  • Tangled:
    • Rapunzel's technique. With a frying pan. Repeatedly. Does Flynn no lasting harm.
    • Later, the Stabbington brothers knock out Flynn as well. He comes to a few minutes later.
  • In Turning Red, Mei knocks out her mother by striking her forehead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 1917: The most serious of Schofield's many injuries is when he takes a gunshot directly to his helmet at close range. While his helmet deflects the bullet, the blast throws him down a flight of stairs, knocks his helmet off, and puts him to sleep for 10-odd hours. When he wakes up, all he has to show for it is a nasty gash where his head struck the floor. You'd expect him to have a nasty concussion at best, but he recovers his strength almost immediately.
  • 21st Century Serial Killer: When Aaron and Charles are alone together after Aaron deduces that Charles is a Serial Killer, Charles puts on some black gloves behind Aaron, and then knocks him out with a baseball bat to the back of his head.
  • Mostly averted in 68 Kill. Although Liza is able to knock out Violet with a qick blow from a knife hilt, this is the only example of an unproblematic head blow in the film. Chip attempts Pistol-Whipping Liza only for her to be not knocked out immediately, but pass out several minutes later, and suffer a concussion. Chip's attempt to knock out the motel owner by hitting him the head with a phone only stuns him. And Chip suffers realistic consequences from being hit in the head with a golf club by Amy.
  • 8 Women: Gaby smashes a glass bottle on Mamy's head to stop her from fighting Augustine and goading her into killing her. She's knocked out, gets put in a closet to sleep and wakes up completely fine near the end.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
    • Several Red Lectroids knock out humans with punches to the head near the Black Lectroid thermopod.
    • While John Parker is infiltrating Buckaroo's estate, one of Buckaroo's Blue Blaze Irregulars takes him out by hitting him on the back of the head.
  • Subverted in the Chris Farley comedy Almost Heroes. Chris Farley's character Bartholomew Hunt attempts to hit his companion Leslie Edwards, played by Matthew Perry, with a rock in order to knock him unconscious (for Leslie's own good; It Makes Sense in Context), but only causes considerable pain. He then picks up a comically-large rock that would almost certainly crush Leslie's head in and is about to try again before Leslie stops him.
    • Also subverted earlier in the movie when a dentist, about to remove one of Bartholomew's teeth, hits him over the head with a hammer to knock him out. It doesn't work, and Bartholomew just tells him to get on with it.
  • In Arsenic and Old Lace, Ax-Crazy Jonathan is knocked out in this manner by the police, and the trope itself is lampshaded in the film version by the Genre Savvy protagonist, Mortimer.
    Mortimer: [watching the fight] Oh, don't do that. It never works. [Jonathan collapses] What do you know? it worked!
  • In The Art of the Steal, Nicky knocks out Sunny by rapping him on the head with a lead pipe (having first handed him an apology card reading "Sorry for hitting you on the head with a lead pipe"). Later Sunny knocks out Crunch by hitting him on the head with a lead pipe before he attempts to extract Nicky's location and/or $30,000 from him.
  • Ask a Policeman: When they are trying to arrest the Chief Constable for speeding (It Makes Sense in Context), Harbottle knocks him out by hitting him on the head with the speed limit sign. He does have a terrible headache and a lump on his head when he wakes up, however.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
    • Parodied by the title character's "Judo Chop!".
    • While Austin and Vanessa are infiltrating Virtucon, Random Task comes up behind them and smashes their heads together like coconuts, rendering them unconscious.
    • Vanessa cracks Random Task over the head with a bottle while he's in their suite. That hat certainly wasn't effective.
  • The Avengers (1998):
    • Bailey knocks out Ministry agent Alice with a blow on the back of the head.
    • Mrs. Peel's clone knocks Steed unconscious with one punch.
  • Used as a running gag in Back to the Future. In all three movies, there is a scene where Marty is knocked out by a blow to the head and wakes up perfectly fine.
  • In Beau Is Afraid, Beau runs into a tree branch after fleeing Grace and Roger's house, and wakes up seemingly fine.
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), Gaston punches Maurice out and leaves him for the wolves in the forest. Maurice stays unconscious until the next morning, but is ultimately no worse for wear. In all fairness, though, he wakes up disoriented and groggy, and doesn't fully recover until after hermit-woman Agathe takes him to her dwelling and gives him a healing potion. Since Agathe is really the Enchantress, we can assume that her potion had the power to cure brain damage.
  • Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Two of the German commandos are knocked unconscious by the animated suits of armor: one by a punch and one by a literal "boot to the head" — a swung iron boot, that is.
  • Beverly Hills Cop. One of Maitland's mooks knocks out Axel Foley with a blow to the head before Mikey is killed.
  • Big Trouble in Little China. Wang and Eddie take out some female guards with judo chops and karate kicks to the head, and Wang knocks out multiple Wing Kong guards with punches and kicks to the head. Amusingly, Jack Burton knocks himself out by shooting the ceiling and dropping masonry on his head.
  • Blazing Saddles. After Taggart leaves Bart to die in quicksand, little realizing that the quicksand in this movie, apart from being in the middle of an arid desert, works exactly the way it does in real life (i.e. it doesn't suck him in, among other things), Bart comes up behind him and lays him out with a shovel to the back of the head. Later on Taggart has a bandage on his head and not even a concussion. Although Taggart does scream in pain when Hedley Lamarr touches the bandage, so obviously there was some injury done.
  • In Blood Harvest, Jill's stalker knocks Scott unconscious with a baseball bat before stringing him up by his ankles.
  • Bonnie & Bonnie: Kiki twice breaks things over men's heads, and they're barely affected, only briefly falling before getting up again.
  • In The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, this is subverted and parodied mercilessly. A part of the plan that Murphy and Conner comes up with to get rid of a small time drug ring calls for a friend of theirs to club a fork lift driver in the head to steal a forklift, and you can tell it's doomed to failure right away when they give him a gun that's so small it looks like it couldn't kill a bird. After a Gilligan Cut, we see the forklift driver they tried to KO with a nasty gash in his head, chastising them for the over reliance on tropes in their plans, asking why they just didn't wave a gun in his face and tell him to scram.
  • The 1974 film spin-off of Callan includes a sequence in which the hero kills a man with his bare hands. He first delivers a sharp blow to the solar plexus, then a second blow to the jaw or neck, but the killing blow is a karate chop to the neck, averting the non-lethal aspect of the trope.
  • In Cherry Falls, the killer knocks Sheriff Marken out by hitting him over the head with a trophy in the principal's office. Later, he knocks out Jody when she discovers her father bound and gagged in the trunk. Neither suffers any long term effects from the blow.
  • At the start of Circus of Fear, Manfred knocks out the bridge keeper with a simple blow to the back of the head. Shortly after, the security guard does the same to one of the crooks as he makes is ill-fated escape attempt.
  • In The Climax: Dr. Hohner escapes from Carl by whacking him over the head with a statue and knocking him out.
  • In Conspiracy Theory Mel Gibson's character goes around doing this to a few people, they go out like a light, and they never suffer anything more than a headache afterward. Subverted, when it is shown that Agent Lowry is faking unconsciousness both times he was clobbered
  • Constantine. Constantine knocks the bouncer in Papa Midnite's bar unconscious with one punch.
  • Cowboys & Aliens. Jake is knocked out by getting pistol whipped on the back of the head and wakes up an unspecified amount of time later with no lasting damage.
  • Crime Doctor's Man Hunt: While searching the empty house, Dr. Ordway gets knocked out when one of the hoods slugs him with a flashlight.
  • In The Crime Doctor's Strangest Case, the killer raps Dr. Ordway over the head with a chain, knocking him out and causing him to drop his lantern. This, in turn, sets fire to the nightclub.
  • In Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg (1989), Van Damme's Faux Action Girl sidekick gets knocked out 3 or 4 times in the movie. Van Damme's character gets KO'd once or twice as well. No one seems to have any problems because of it.
  • In Danger: Diabolik, the morgue attendant gets this via an urn wielded by a disguised Diabolik as he scrapes Ralph Valmont's ashes out of the retort. He apparently leaves him lying there alive, because when, as he leaves the morgue with the eleven emeralds, an elderly couple asks if he's seen the doctor, he simply says, "He's in shock."
  • Death Becomes Her: Ernest gets knocked out via a vase to the head, and recovers without much trouble. He does almost fall down a staircase after getting clobbered.
  • In Deewaar, Ravi knocks one of the smugglers at the godown out before going inside and pulling his Backup Bluff. The man wakes up just too late to stop Ravi.
  • In Diamonds on Wheels, Billy knocks Finch out with a karate chop to the neck before stealing the diamonds. Oddly, this is the only time in the movie when someone succumbs to a tap on the head.
  • In Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Gruesome knocks out several characters, including Pat, using a karate chop to the back of the neck.
  • In Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Cueball knocks out Pat Patton with one quick blow on the back of the neck with a sap. However, Pat having a hard head and being unaffected by repeated blows is a Running Gag in the film.
  • Die Hard. At the end of the movie, the terrorist Theo is preparing the ambulance as an escape vehicle for his team. John McClane's chauffeur Argyle rams into it with his limo, then punches Theo in the face, knocking him unconscious.
  • Subverted in Dog Soldiers when Wells (Sean Pertwee) orders Cooper (Kevin McKidd) to knock him out, so Cooper hits him, but Wells just sits up again and shouts, "I said knock me out, you fucking pussy!" Long term damage isn't an issue in this case, since Wells has been bitten by a werewolf...
  • In Draw!, Wally raps Sam Starret once over the head to knock him out so he can take him back to Bell city. He repeats this at least once over the course of the journey.
  • In Howard Hawkes' El Dorado, John Wayne is taken prisoner when the Dragon sneaks up behind Mississippi and "give me a headache."
  • In Ex Machina, when Nathan realizes he has been Out-Gambitted by Caleb and pre-emptively coldcocks him. Caleb wakes up a few minutes later, seemingly none the worse for wear.
  • In Fatal Instinct, Laura Lincolnberry knocks out her ex-husband by hitting him on the head with a Frying Pan of Doom.
  • Flash Gordon. Vultan hits several of Ming's goon squad members over the head with his mace during the "football game", and Hans Zarkov knocks out Flash accidentally by throwing a hollow metal "football" at him.
  • A Running Gag in the Friday series involves at least one character in each film being cold-cocked and informed of what has just happened to them, usually while still unconscious and always with a Precision F-Strike.
    (insert character name here): "YOU GOT KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT!!!
  • In From Dusk Till Dawn, sick of Richie's psychotic behavior when the family whom they've held hostage's van hits a bump, Seth uses this opportunity to punch him out.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: Eileen claims her first victim in the maze by clocking a guy on the back of the head with a mallet.
  • Subverted in Funny Farm. When one of the locals gets a fishing hook stuck on his face, Andy wants to knock him out so he can easily take out the hook. After several blows, the man is not knocked out, just pissed off, and one of his friends wonders if Andy is just beating him up.
  • Subverted in The Gamers; one of the PCs asks to be knocked out. Two characters hit him, to no avail. The third knocks him very much out, so much that he's killed. Obviously, the rules of their game don't allow for non-lethal damage.
  • In both George of the Jungle movies, where George, Ursula and others are just fine after crashing into trees among other head injuries.
  • Happens to at least 11 people in The Great Race.
    • Maggie Dubois to The Great Leslie with a champagne bottle (accidentally).
    • Max to Hezekiah with a window bar (also accidentally — he thought Hezekiah was a guard).
    • Max KO's 3 castle guards (and possibly a monk) with the window bar.
    • The Great Leslie takes out six castle guards:
      • Two with a skull-to-skull smash.
      • One by swinging him headfirst into a wall.
      • Two with punches to the face.
      • One by slamming a door in his face.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Wormtail is apparently Spared by the Adaptation by one of these. However, he does not appear after this scene, so it's possible the blow really did kill him (or Voldemort did in an offscreen You Have Failed Me moment).
  • Hello Mary-Lou: Prom Night II: Craig is knocked out long enough for his dad to drive to the prom after being hit once with a plimsoll-like shoe.
  • Subverted in High Risk (1981) when the heroes encounter a servant while sneaking into the drug lord's mansion. The servant just clutches his head and screams, alerting the guards.
  • Hudson Hawk
    • When Eddie first meets the CIA Candy Bars, Kaplan punches him in the face and knocks him out. Eddie falls backward into a box full of styrofoam peanuts.
    • While Eddie and Tommy are infiltrating Leonardo da Vinci's castle, they lure two guards over to them and knock each of them out with one punch.
  • Sort of in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Peeta gets knocked unconscious and seems no worse off for it than he was already, but the circumstances of administering the blow would have justified lethal force anyway, and nobody pretends that it's a safe or harmless way of incapacitating someone.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.
    • While Cheryl has Leonard up against a wall, Willie come up behind her and knocks her out with the cast on his wrist.
    • When Slade infiltrates Mr. Big's warehouse via the roof, he KO's a guard with a punch to the jaw.
  • Played for Laughs in In Bruges. Ray uses the neck chop variant, while high on cocaine, on a dwarf.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • After he enters Castle Brunwald, Indy knocks the butler unconscious with a punch to the face.
    • Averted when Indy's father tries to knock out Indy by breaking a vase over his head. Indy stays conscious and is annoyed with his dad.
    • During the fight inside the tank:
      • A German soldier is knocked out when a periscope handle hits him on the back of the head.
      • Another soldier is rendered unconscious when Marcus Brody hits him over the head with an object.
  • Played for comedy in Inherent Vice: Doc gets koshed and flails his arms in some attempt at a martial arts stance before collapsing unconscious. He wakes up later none the worse for wear.
  • Both used and averted in the Ip Man films, where a good blow to the head drops many a mook, but named characters prove more resilient.
  • This has happened to James Bond (and others in his movies) repeatedly.
    • In You Only Live Twice, The Man with the Golden Gun, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker he was knocked out but was fine afterward. Oddly enough, each time it was performed by a nameless Mook, not The Dragon or the Big Bad.
    • Goldfinger:
      • Bond is knocked out by a judo chop to the back of the neck administered by Goldfinger's The Dragon Oddjob.
      • Bond takes down a guard by kicking him in the head.
    • In You Only Live Twice Bond and some captured astronauts take out several SPECTRE guards with punches.
    • In Live and Let Die Bond was knocked out by Tee Hee, and Bond knocked out a number of mooks with punches to the jaw.
    • In Moonraker a tram operator was knocked out by being hit on the back of a head with a wrench and two Drax employees were KOed by a punch and a metal container.
    • In GoldenEye James Bond uses the neck chop version to render Xenia Onnatopp unconscious after she brings him to the Statue Park to meet Janus
    • While stealing a fighter jet in Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond knocks out the navigator in the rear seat. Unfortunately he revives shortly afterwards, and tries to garrote Bond just as they've being fired on by a second fighter plane.
  • In the film version of Johnny Mnemonic, Ralfi is being held against the wall by Johnny. Johnny is then promptly cold-cocked in the back of the head by one of Ralfi's bodyguards, and collapses like a sack of potatoes. It is some consolation, however, that Ralfi is worried that it may have caused damage to his head because the Yakuza thugs want Johnny's head intact.
  • Judge Dredd. When Dredd and Ferguson are in the Judges' locker room, Fergie distracts a Judge and Dredd knocks the Judge unconscious with one punch.
  • Averted in The Killer That Stalked New York. A few blows to the head is all it takes for Matt to kill Moss.
  • While sneaking into and out of Nikki's Apartment in Lady on a Train, Danny knocks out Haskell (twice) and Wayne with a simple tap on the head.
  • In Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Dog knocks out a traffic warden with one punch and stashes him in a van. When the main character steal the van, they discover the meter warden and try to knock him out again, but he just makes a pititful, "Owww!" After realizing that they all hate traffic wardens, they gang up and pummel the poor guy into unconsciousness.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: In Mount Doom Gollum knocks out Sam with a rock to the back of Sam's head. Sam comes to not apparently any worse for wear shortly thereafter.
  • In A Man Called Sledge, Sledge knocks out one of the warders with a quick rap from the Lawman Baton he grabbed off him.
  • In The Man from Kangaroo, a mugger whacks Greythorn over the head with a length of lead pipe. This drops him, but he shown as being up and about by the time John returns with his wallet. Realistically, this sort of blow should have left him with at least a concussion.
  • Mars Attacks!. After Jerry Ross allows a strange woman into the White House in order to seduce her, she bites off his finger and knocks him unconscious by hitting him on the back of the head with a statuette. She turns out to be a Martian assassin wearing a human disguise.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Ant-Man, Scott's former cellmate knocks out people with a single punch when he helps Scott break in to steal the Yellowjacket suit and sabotage the experiment. This is foreshadowed at the start of the movie, when he brags that during the prison ritual for being released, which involves fighting a massive inmate named Peaches, he was the only one ever to actually knock Peaches out.
    • Thor: Ragnarok:
      • At the end of the gladiator battle, Hulk jumps about a hundred meters in the air and lands fist first on Thor, knocking him out. He doesn't wake up until after he is brought to Hulk's room.
      • Valkyrie knocks out Loki after he makes her relive the traumatic memory of the fight of the Valkyries against Hela via Touch Telepathy.
    • Avengers: Endgame: On the planet Morag, War Machine knocks out Peter Quill with one blow of his armored fist, so that he doesn't bother them while they steal the Power Stone, and Nebula can take his thieving tool.
  • In Massacre at Central High, David hits Paul on the back of the head, knocking him out just long enough for David to lock him in the back of his van and send it rolling to its destruction.
  • A Running Gag in Men with Brooms, as Cutter ends up repeatedly having to hit the Loan Shark in the head with a curling stone. The loan shark is a giant who is Made of Iron, so he shrugs it off because it's funny.
  • Happens every five minutes in Midnight Run.
  • Averted in Miller's Crossing, in which Tom is kicked in the head and knocked unconscious, but when he wakes up he is informed that he wasn't out for more than a few seconds.
  • In The Monster Maker, Markoff knocks out Lawrence with one blow from a candlestick. Later Bob drops the hulking Steve with a single whack with a floor ashtray.
  • In Murder at the Baskervilles, Price knocks out Watson by rapping him over the back of the head with a pistol. Watson does not stay unconscious long.
  • Jeremy Saulnier loves subverting this trope. In Murder Party, the first death is caused by a girl hitting her head on an anvil; she appears to be fine at first, but then the blood starts shooting out of her head.
  • Henry Fonda's character in The Ox-Bow Incident picks a fight and gets a whiskey bottle over his head which knocks him unconscious.
  • Subverted for comedic effect in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, in a scene in which Blart knocks out a Mook with a Static Stun Gun. The mook wakes up within seconds, forcing Blart to continuously knock him out over and over again while he radios the Big Bad to taunt him. By the end of the scene, the mook is visibly worse for wear and even begs Blart not to tase him again; Blart knocks him out anyway.
  • Averted in The Phenix City Story. Fred Gage gets knocked out by being pistol-whipped, and dies of a fractured skull as a result.
  • This is not done once, but twice to Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — first, humiliatingly by Will Turner's drunken blacksmith and then by Turner himself while spying on his mutinous crew in Isla de Muerta after Will figures out that Jack wishes to use him as "leverage" to get his ship back.
  • In The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Antonio is knocked out by a quick blow from the guard captain's sword hilt at the auto-da-fé.
  • Averted in Pool of London. Vernon saps the watchman with a blackjack, which drops him and leaves him concussed, but does not actually knock him out. Staggering groggily to his feet, he grapples Vernon in an attempt to stop him escaping. Vernon shoves him down the marble staircase and the watchman subsequently dies of his injuries.
  • Prey: Naru gets knocked senseless by a lion, the male hunters and later a musket butt with no ill effect aside from a mild headache.
  • The Princess Bride.
    • The Dread Pirate Roberts knocks out Inigo with his swordhilt.
    • Roberts uses the choke hold variant on Fezzik.
    • Count Rugen knocks out Westley with his sword hilt. Cary Elwes actually asked Christopher Guest to hit him for real, and Guest obliged hard enough to shut down production for a day while Cary went to the hospital.
    • Fezzik knocks out a Shrieking Eel and accidentally knocks out the albino with a clout on the skull.
      • To be fair, it's implied that he in fact killed the albino — later in the movie, Inigo asks where they put the wheelbarrow the albino had and Fezzik replies "Over the albino, I think."
  • In the original version of The Producers, Franz Leibkind knocks out a stagehand while attempting to end the production of "Springtime For Hitler", and then suffers the same fate himself, despite wearing a metal helmet. Leibkind at least reappears in a later scene showing no ill effects.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • Marion Ravenwood
      • She takes out a mook with a burning log to the back of the head during the bar fight in Nepal.
      • In Cairo she's pursued into a building by a mook and knocks him out (off camera) with a frying pan.
      • While Indy is fighting the Nazis around the flying wing, she KO's the pilot with the plane's wheel chocks.
    • Indiana Jones knocks out two Nazi guards with the "punch to the jaw" technique to steal their uniforms so he can perform Dressing as the Enemy. In the second of these, there are two clearly audible blows after Dr. Jones hauls the guard over the pile of boxes, so it's "Taps".
  • A Recipe for Seduction has Lee knock Billy out by hitting him with a broomstick.
  • Red Cliff: Shangxiang displays her excellent knowledge of pressure points by knocking out an uppity official's horse when he snarks about a woman being on the battlefield; later, when being introduced to Liu Bei, she expresses her unhappiness about being presented as a possible marriage prospect by doing the same on him. (Cue looks of Oh, Crap! on Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu's faces as they realize what she's up to, but are too late to do anything...)
  • The Retreat (2021): Renee is apparently knocked out with a rifle butt. She wakes up with no ill effects.
  • Occurs many times in The Rocketeer. Played with here in that the victims often recover faster than their assailants were planning.
  • In Sneakers, Buddy Wallace clocks Bishop several times with a handgun to the face. The later Choke Hold is comparatively merciful in contrast.
  • Star Trek: Generations. While in the Amargosa Observatory, Dr. Soren knocks out Geordi LaForge with a punch to the face.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • Played straight when Kirk whacks Scotty over the head then straps him into a seat for good measure to make sure he can't stop him from climbing into the radioactive warp core chamber.
    • Spock does this to Harrison during their brawl, but it doesn't knock him out.
  • Friar Tuck is knocked out by the flat of a sword being smacked against his pate in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men.
  • Averted in the opening of Tamara, where the title character is killed when she knocks her head on the edge of a table. Played straight, though, when Chloe punches out Kisha and when Allison knocks out Sean; both of them later get back up from it.
  • Tank Girl
    • A Water & Power trooper knocks out Tank Girl after capturing her outside her house.
    • Tank Girl knocks out Sub Girl (AKA "Rain Lady") by tapping her on the top of the head with a plastic fish.
    • A Water & Power guard is knocked out from behind with a bowling pin.
  • In The Terror of the Tongs, Lee saves Sale's life by knocking Tang How out by hitting him over the head with a vase when Tang How is holding Sale at gunpoint.
  • Total Recall (1990). On Earth, Quaid knocks Lori unconscious with a single punch. Later on Mars, she returns the favor by rendering him unconscious with a kick to the face.
  • Undercover Brother
    • The title character does this to two Mooks: once with a bottle and once with a punch. Both Mooks are awake and after him in pursuit seconds later.
    • Sistah Girl and White She Devil knock out a large number of mooks during the fight in the island fortress Communications Room.
  • In Vicki, Jill knocks out Lt. Cornell by hitting him once on the top of the head with a doorstop.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Roger is bopped over the head with a frying pan and dragged out of the way. Later, Jessica reveals that she did it: she didn't want Roger to get hurt. In fairness, it's impossible to permanently injure a toon via this method.
  • Wild Wild West
    • Jim West knocks General "Bloodbath" McGrath unconscious with one punch. McGrath wakes up a few seconds later with no side effects.
    • West knocks out a guard at the Sons of the South dance with a punch.
  • The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy is knocked flat by a fairly light bump on the head from a falling windowpane, and suffers no ill effects (though her family and friends have clearly been worried about her when she wakes up) except a fantasy-filled Technicolor dream sequence.
  • Yellowbeard. While Dan, Lord Lambourn and Dr. Gilpin are in Portsmouth, three members of a press gang knock them on the head with clubs and render them unconscious so they can be kidnapped.


  • A Brother's Price: Inverted with Odelia (her attackers thought she was dead, but she was just unconscious), justified with Keifer Porter hitting his wife, Princess Trini over the head with a blunt instrument — he is known to be stupid, and intended to harm her, but he wouldn't have wanted to kill her, as there would have been dire consequences if he did that. As things were, he pulled a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, claiming that Trini "provoked him" to tie her to his bed and torture her, and got off without any punishment at all. Fortunately, he died in an explosion prior to the main plot. Trini seems to suffer no lasting brain damage.
  • Discworld:
    • In Thief of Time, it is mentioned that some trainees in the Thieves' Guild cause serious injuries with their inability to knock a victim unconscious with a single blow. Likewise in Monstrous Regiment, one character is about to knock a guard unconscious when The Igor points out that blows to the head can be fatal and takes over, as Igors have extensive knowledge of human anatomy. So extensive, in fact, the Igor knows just how hard and where to hit to knock the guy out for exactly 20 minutes.
    • Additionally in Men at Arms someone is accidentally killed by an attempt to knock them unconscious.
    • Not seen, but referenced in Night Watch, when it's mentioned the rebel barricades have a doorway built into them, with all refugees coming through at just the right height for "a gentle Tap On the head if they turned out to be a soldier."
    • Vimes in particular plays this trope quite straight. But, like Igor, he knows exactly where and how to strike — at one point he stops his less-experienced younger self from delivering such a blow and does not teach other coppers how to do it right if they approach him privately. It's implied in that same book that the Agony Aunts (enforcers for the Guild of Seamstresses) are adept at this, and similar to the previously mention Igor, can put you out for a given period, provided you don't fall asleep.
    • In Interesting Times, a briefly deranged Rincewind is used in an impromptu demonstration when a Thief's Guild apprentice tries and fails to knock him out. So the tutor steps out of the nearby alley to show him the right way ("Ow."), then what the trainee did ("Ow! Hahaha!" "So, can anyone spot the difference?"). It isn't until he regains his senses that he succumbs.
    • In Maskerade, someone tries to knock out Nanny Ogg with a bottle. Nanny sees stars, but since she has a bit of dwarfish in her ancestry, she recovers without passing out, and chases the attacker.
    • In The Truth, Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip manage to thump Vetinari just hard enough to keep him unconscious for the whole plot (after being specifically instructed not to kill him), and Drumknott so he can't clearly remember whatever he witnessed.
    • In Soul Music, we're told that The Sandman (who, like in other worlds, carried a sack of sand that he throws into children's eyes to make them fall asleep) doesn't need a large sack, because he doesn't take the sand out of it.
  • Hurog: Lampshaded in Dragon Blood. Ward is worried about an unconscious ally, as "anything that's bad enough to knock someone out has a chance to kill them."
  • Stephen King:
    • In It, staff of the Juniper Hill mental institution use rolls of quarters as improvised saps in order to subdue (and, in some cases, simply abuse) recalcitrant patients. One patient is said to have suffered severe brain damage as a result of such treatment and is barely functional as a result.
    • In The Langoliers, a government assassin states that he knows a many ways to kill a person, but doesn't know a single method to safely render someone temporarily unconscious.
    • In Carrie, tragically averted. During the infamous prom night scene, one of the buckets of pig's blood falls out of the rafters and strikes Tommy in the head. He's dead before Carrie even sets the gym on fire.
  • Mentioned in the Lensman novel First Lensman. A thug of wide experience claims to be "an artist with the black jack". His boast is that he can knock out anyone within ten feet by throwing it, and can precisely time how long they stay unconscious.
  • John C. Wright:
    • Subverted in the Chronicles of Chaos book Fugitives of Chaos. Amelia is able to work out, from the fact that she is not suffering plausibly from a blow to the solar plexus, that magic is at work. Earlier, she tries hitting someone with a rock to escape custody. It doesn't work because: a) she was too squeamish to hit hard, b) a rock is not going to stop a Physical God.
    • In the Count to the Eschaton book Count to a Trillion, Menelaus takes out two guards, but the third gets him with this.
  • In one of Andrew Vachss' Burke stories, Burke gives a bit of a Character Filibuster once about how hitting someone on the head does not always knock them out in real life, and how many would-be criminals have gotten into trouble that way.
  • Subverted in The Atrocity Archive. The protagonist is hit on the back of the head with a sap (a bag full of lead shot) knocking him out. He spends a couple of weeks recovering, and got a hairline skull fracture for his trouble.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • The Currents Of Space: A character attempts to pull this off on a guard and accidentally kills the guard.
    • "Does a Bee Care?": When sneaking aboard the rocket, Kane whacks someone on their head with his wrench, with the knowledge that the person they've just hurt will wake up in five minutes without any injury or even noticing that they were unconscious. It is implied that Psychic Powers are in play to explain the lack of injury.
      Kane straightened and his vague eyes stared at the speaker. He lifted his wrench and brought it down on the speaker's head lightly. The man who was struck (and who had made no effort to ward off the blow) dropped, partly from the effect of the blow.
      Kane let him lie there, without concern. The man would not remain unconscious for long, but long enough to allow Kane to wriggle into the hole. When the man revived he would recall nothing about Kane or about the fact of his own unconsciousness. There would simply be five minutes taken out of his life that he would never find and never miss.
  • In Alistair MacLean's novel Ice Station Zebra, the doctor protagonist goes into detail about how it is impossible to predict the consequences of a head injury, i.e., the patient could wake up soon or never, then later on has someone else inflict a "ten minute tap" on a villain. However, the doctor also explains to that chap that his huge wrench would cause instant death when hitting a skull. The doctor pads the wrench with a thick layer of bandage to make it less lethal.
  • Richard Henry Benson, The Avenger, is capable of doing this — with bullets! In "The Yellow Hoard", he is distracted by smoke sufficiently that he missed his target by a millimeter, and the thug wakes up too early.
  • Jame in Chronicles of the Kencyrath is knocked out by blows to the head all the time, both by accident and malice, and is always fine. It seems to happen at least twice per book. It's justified in that she's not exactly human, and her Healing Factor ensures she repairs; also, realistic effects of concussion appear when the blows were severe.
  • Lampshaded in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Interference: Book 2, with Sarah Jane Smith asking an alien how they can manage to knock people out without long-term effects so easily. (Since the alien in question was not very bright, no answer was actually obtained).
  • This happens to Marlowe a lot in the Philip Marlowe books. Lampshaded by Kim Newman's unnamed Captain Ersatz.
  • The Otherworld: In Broken, Elena needs to sneak away from her assigned babysitter, so she hits him on the back of the head, arranges him comfortably on the bed, and takes off. Justified in that he's a werewolf, and she really doesn't need to worry about long term damage. Subverted in that she didn't actually knock him out at all; once he realized what she was trying to do, he faked unconsciousness and then followed after her.
  • The main character of Dave Duncan's The Seventh Sword tries this on a guard in the first book. However, the person he hit ends up dying. It comes back to haunt him later, when he ends up on trial for various crimes, one of which is this "dishonorable" killing. (After some Divine Intervention makes it clear that the Goddess doesn't want the main character punished, the death is ruled an accident; after all, if he had wanted to kill the guard, he would have used his sword, not his fist.)
  • In the Forgotten Realms novel Ghostwalker a knight knocks out a drunken rogue in a bar fight using a mace. Not a club, a flanged metal mace.
  • Averted in Neuropath. Tom Bible notes that it's not like in the movies, and that the guard he and Mia knocked out will need medical help quickly.
  • The Vulcan Neck Pinch chapter of The Action Hero's Handbook outlines several of the knockout methods mentioned above and makes clear what the risks are.
  • Jiaan in the Farsala Trilogy. It's somewhat subverted in that he mentions he might have a broken collarbone as well.
  • David Eddings:
    • When they need to avoid their usual, lethal methods, the protagonists of The Belgariad employ this trope frequently to render bad guys unconscious. It's usually played completely straight, except where Hard Head is subverted by Rule of Funny or the needs of the plot. On one memorable occasion, after Garion knocks out a Grolim (who has some useful information), Belgarath tells him to "use an axe or a club" the next time: Garion's fist had almost killed the guy.
    • In The Elenium, Ulath gets hit in the head with an axe while holding the wall during a siege. The blow leaves him bed-ridden and severely confused (he doesn't recognize his friends and can't even remember which continent he's on), and it's stated outright that if it hadn't been for his very good helmet, his head would have split like a melon. He does make a full recovery, but it isn't quick and it isn't pretty.
  • Averted in the Sword of Truth series when Kahlan is trying to decide the best way to make her way past a D'Haran guard. There is a long inner monologue about how a rap on the head is notoriously unreliable: the guard may come up screaming, several blows may be necessary to induce unconsciousness, and permanent damage may result. Additionally, this is one of her own guards, so she'd really rather avoid hitting him at all in the first place. Later on in the series, she shows a little girl she is held captive with her preferred way of silent subduing: A knife to the kidney. Where a blow to the head is unreliable and cutting the throat can be too messy and loud, a knife to the kidney puts the victim in so much pain that they can't even scream.
  • Winnetou: This is practically the Signature Move of Karl May's Author Avatar Old Shatterhand/Kara ben Nemsi, ostensibly justified by a combination of nigh superhuman strength and a special trick he's discovered himself. It's rather convenient, too, because as a good (if sometimes, especially in the later works, a bit preachy) Christian the character doesn't actually like to shed human blood when he can at all avoid it.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Lampshaded when one of Harry's internal monologues mentions that someone must have done one of those adamantium upgrades on his skull.
    • Also retroactively justified by the author, after it was pointed out to him that with all the blows Harry takes to the head, the concussions should have added up and left him brain damaged. So to justify this, and the Wizards Live Longer trope also prevalent in the series, he had a doctor give exposition explaining that Harry, and all wizards, have better healing ability than muggles. Any injury Harry takes will heal at a normal rate, but will heal completely, to the point where previously broken bones eventually show no scarring, and a burned hand that a doctor advised he simply amputate is back to fully functioning after a few years. It's even mentioned in Changes that Harry's broken spine might well heal on its own... in a matter of decades.
  • Averted in Martin Caidin's Cyborg novels. Considerably more violent than the TV series they inspired, due to Steve Austin's bionic arm being described as a bludgeon, and strong hits to the head or chops to the neck are instantly fatal to the recipient. In fact he does this so often (sometimes cold-bloodedly to disabled enemies) that fans of the TV series are prone to go into What the Hell, Hero? mode when reading them.
  • In Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes, the detective investigating the aforesaid mystery is knocked out by a blow to the head. One of the suspects, an author of detective novels, says that he'd never have done it, because he knows how dangerous such a blow could be.
  • In the Time Scout book, Wagers of Sin, Skeeter gets knocked out from behind and spends several days recovering, with nausea, dizziness, and continuing headaches.
  • In The Monster Men, Professor Maxon is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head. Its only effect is to cause him to recover from being Mad Scientist — that is, to take up What Measure Is a Non-Human?.
  • Zones of Thought: Completely averted in The Children of the Sky. The blow that knocks out Ravna is treated completely realistically, with various debilitating aftereffects until she gets advanced medical treatment.
  • The Hardy Boys: Frank and Joe Hardy have both been knocked out by getting hit in the head so often that, in real life, the two should be vegetables in permanent coma in the hospital.
  • In the Spiral Arm book The January Dancer, the Fudir uses this on Hugh to evade him. He does think that it's a tricky business, but it's treated as if it were really harmless.
  • During Galaxy of Fear, the shapeshifter Hoole is struck on the head by Karkas in Tash's body. However, it soon turns out that he avoided harm and faked unconsciousness so he could find out what was going on. In a later book, an Expendable Clone of Hoole has a large rock slammed into his head and goes down, but the attacker isn't concerned about whether he's unconscious or dead.
  • In Velveteen vs. the Junior Super Patriots, the Claw strikes down Velveteen with a head blow. Though it does only knock her down, rather than unconscious, so the lack of lasting harm is more plausible.
  • In Catseye (1961), Troy enforces the promise to for a Mercy Lead by using Rerne as a human shield, and puts him out with this when he reaches the vehicle.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Sebastian renders Isabelle unconscious in City of Glass with a hammer after he finishes with Max.
  • World of the Five Gods: Averted in The Curse of Chalion. When Umegat is found unconscious by a blow to the skull everyone remotely familiar with head injuries treat it as a life-threatening emergency and when he awakens days later, he is revealed to have suffered serious brain damage.
  • Averted in one of the Horatio Hornblower stories. Hornblower strikes a man with the rudder because he's having a loud epileptic fit during a stealth expedition. Hornblower is pretty sure that he's killed him by doing this, although the boat is lost, so we never find out for sure. (The TV adaptation uses this scene, but winds up playing it straight.) Other instances of this, such as when he and his men sandbag dockside sentries in Hotspur, likewise imply strongly that they're fatal blows.
  • Played straight in Mr Blank when the hero gets conked on the back of the head after witnessing an alien abduction.
  • Nick Moss is knocked unconscious by the phantom biker Cacophony Jones near the end of City of Devils. This is after Nick has done similar to another member of Cacophony's band, the Disasters, so it's decent payback. Also, Imogen Verity knocks out the other two earlier in the book. It's a bad day for head trauma in the Disasters.
  • Averted with Mattes Tunstall in the Beka Cooper trilogy, who is described by Beka in the third book as having suffered so many taps on the head in the past that if he got one more, he could very well die of it.
  • The Color of Distance: The sequel, Through Alien Eyes, averts this. Kidnappers try to subdue Ukatonen with a blow to the head, and he suffers brain damage to the point where it's a Career-Ending Injury.
  • The Elephant's Tale averts this. One of the staff is knocked unconscious during a burglary, and is incapacitated for the rest of the story while they take him to a doctor.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Devi is knocked out this way in Honor's Knight. It also turns out to be the main weakness of symbiont Super Soldiers: a blow to the right area of their head will reliably knock them unconscious. However, due to their thick armor, it has to be a very strong impact, such as a gunshot. Symbionts have a powerful healing factor, so even with powerful blows there's little risk of permanent damage.
  • Played for laughs in the first book of the Ahriman Trilogy. Simon doesn't believe Zoe can knock him out with a single punch due to her small size. His narration cuts out mid-sentence.
  • The Great Merlini: In The Footprints on the Ceiling, Ross gets thwacked on the head in the second chapter, has a headache for the rest of the chapter and claims in the last chapter to have suffered a concussion from the blow. There is no sign of a concussion anywhere in between those chapters (unless the headache counts). Two police officers later get head blows with not much to show for them. Averted when Colonel Watrous gets clubbed, though — he needs his head bandaged and is still a bit shaky the next morning.
  • Almost no episode of Butler Parker passed without several of these. Delivered by umbrella (the handle being filled with lead), bowler hat (steel-lined), horseshoe (in a lady's pompadour'), flower vase — the opponents often using guns or coshes...
  • In the Parker Pyne Investigates adventure story spoof "The Case of the Discontented Soldier", a fake abduction being staged for the benefit of the title character involves him being genuinely rendered unconscious by an entirely authentic blow to the head. It doesn't seem to have occurred to his helpful abductors that he might end up with an unhelpful subdural haematoma (but fortunately, this being Christie, he doesn't).
  • The McGurk Organization: The book The Vanishing Ventriloquist has both the traditional Choke Hold (which is not being done properly, which means McGurk, the victim, is only stunned and remains conscious throughout, and is used as a means to threaten to snap McGurk's neck if the cops and other detectives don't back down) and a second variant where the titular ventriloquist kicks someone in the head with both feet, which knocks him silly and ultimately causes him to pass out (this is mentioned to be something that she wasn't sure she could do properly).
  • In John Christopher's novel Year of the Comet, the two protagonists twice get dosed with Knockout Gas and carted off to new locations. Upon meeting a band of threatening Mooks late in the novel, one of the two groans (paraphrased) "Not more knockout gas." Nope. Wham. They wake up on another continent without any side effects. In fact, they suffer more from the gassings than getting clubbed.
  • Zig-zagged in Molly Tanzer's Creatures of Will and Temper, a novel riffing on Dorian Grey with added female protagonists and demons. Heroine Evadne is kidnapped by someone she thought was a friend. When escaping, she decides to be merciful and knock him out with her sword's pommel instead of running him through. However, she later discovers to her horror that it wasn't as merciful as she thought.
  • Averted in the Raymond F Jones story The Year When Stardust Fell: the teenaged protagonist gets clubbed unconscious after stumbling across a robbery in progress, and spends weeks recovering.
  • Humorous examples appear regularly in the works of P. G. Wodehouse. In particular, in every Jeeves and Wooster novel in which he appears, would-be dictator Roderick Spode gets clonked in the head with something, a cosh, a painting, produce, a china basin. Sometimes he shrugs it right off, other times he's unconscious or weakened for a period before staging a full recovery.
  • In the Underdogs novel Acceleration, Rubinstein smashes the butt of a rifle into Mark's chin, knocking him out for several minutes.
  • Tales of the Magic Land: In The Fiery God of the Marrans, an invisible Tim O'Kelly whacks the baddie on the back of his head with a magical TV — with the intent to kill, no less — resulting in said baddie having a bandaged lump on his head and a considerably sourer mood next time we see him.
  • 100 Cupboards:
    • This happens regularly to Monmouth — four or five times in two books, never with any long-term effects. Partially justified in that none of the characters doing the tapping particularly care whether they cause serious damage or not, and the first time the blow breaks skin and knocks him over but not unconscious.
    • Henrietta is on the receiving end of this as well, with the hilt of a sword. She's fine. For some reason, however, when Zeke receives the exact same blow, he winds up with a serious concussion.
  • Dragonvarld: Ven and Bellona are both knocked senseless on different occasions, with no ill effect from it afterward.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: The trope is used in the episode "The Skeleton in the Closet". Miss Brooks desperately tries to prevent a blackmailer, "Charlie", from revealing an embarassing incident in her life to Mr. Conklin. Gym teacher Gene Talbot knocks out Charlie using a gym bag holding a barbell. Later, Mr. Waddley, the school publicist, and Mr. Conklin himself get knocked out with a tap on the head.
  • Subverted in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. Harry is repeatedly bashed in the head with a cast iron pan. He never looses consciousness, but each blow causes him to act differently indicating sever brain trauma (though it is Harry, so who can tell). Lampshaded twice by Dick: "If he's broken, it's going right into the report." "Be careful. We could actually hurt Harry."
  • Agatha Raisin: Agatha is felled by a blow to the head while snooping in "Agatha Raisin and The Day the Floods Came".
  • This happens quite a lot to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but one first-season example has Simmons hitting Fitz in the back of the head with a fire extinguisher when she wants to temporarily distract him.
  • Played mostly straight in the Angel episode "Billy", when Gunn has been turned misogynist by a demon. Realizing what's happening to him, he warns Fred to knock him out, but her first attempt fails. He yells at her for this, but it isn't really a subversion like the above example; Fred's not terribly strong. Her second attempt succeeds.
  • Banacek: Banacek gets floored by a tap on the head in "Horse Of A Slightly Different Color".
  • The Barrier: When suspected to be government informer by the members of La Résistance, Álex gets knocked out long enough to get tied to a chair and ends up needing a Water Wake Up to be interrogated.
  • 1960's Batman (1966) series episodes.
    • "King Tut's Coup". While Tut and his henchmen are stealing a sarcophagus, one of the henchmen knocks out a security guard with a single blow on the back of the head with a club.
    • "The Unkindest Tut Of All". While Batgirl is confronting King Tut, his henchwoman Shirley sneaks up behind her and knocks her out by hitting her on the back of the head with a vase.
    • "Deep Freeze". When Mr. Freeze sends his henchman Frosty up to the roof to fix the TV antenna, Batman knocks Frosty out by hitting him on the top of his head.
    • "That Darn Catwoman". The title character's mooks take out Pat Pending and his valet with blackjacks.
  • How Edmund Blackadder and Lord Melchett are kidnapped in the Blackadder II episode "Chains". A German guard hits them over the head with a stick while they are distracted by another German guard.
  • Blake's 7:
    • The Karate Chop of Doom was the standard fighting style, aside from fighting dirty. It can be considered acceptable, as most of the time they're trying to kill each other anyway.
    • Interestingly enough, Avon once tried to subdue a maddened Blake using this technique, which was rather risky. Then again, his relationship with Blake being what it was, it may have been intentional.
    • Averted once in "Headhunter", when a genius robotics expert Avon was hoping to recruit for something had some kind of manic episode and attacked Tarrant and Vila while en route to Xenon. Vila was forced to wallop him with a wrench in self-defence, and then all hell broke loose because it appeared he'd inadvertently killed the guy. Then things got weird...
  • The Book of Boba Fett: In "The Gathering Storm" a Trandoshan tries to stop the Wookie Krrsantan from beating the stuffing out of his fellow Trandoshan by hitting the enraged Wookie over the head with a bottle. It has no effect on the Wookie, who turns around to look at the Trandoshan who is standing there with a horrified look on his face.
  • In the Broad City episode "Working Girls," someone accidentally punches Ilana in the face while dancing. She immediately passes out.
  • In Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Buck could take out a whole swarm of Draconian guards with a single sidekick. They fell like a stack of dominoes.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles getting knocked unconscious occurs so often it's turned into something of a Running Gag. The jaw-punch version occurs in "Prophecy Girl", when Buffy settles the issue of who is going to fight the Master by punching Giles in the jaw, putting him to sleep just long enough for her to be off on the mission. Later Giles is seen nursing a bruise, but it seems no dental attention was required.
    • The trope is subverted in "Dead Things" when Warren's ex-girlfriend Katrina is escaping the Trio's lair and plans to go to the police after their attempt to rape her. Warren clocks her on the head with a bottle, trying to knock her out — and she dies.
  • Mostly averted in Burn Notice, where mooks are heroes alike are usually shown as being stunned and in serious pain rather as a result of hand-to-hand scuffles, and are rarely KO'd by fisticuffs.
    • Michael occasionally taps someone on the forehead with the side of his gun. This generally...stuns them for a minute or two, clearly in great pain.
  • Chucky: Following their poker game, Nica gets panned by Tiffany after failing to make her think she was presently taken by Chucky's soul, and is carried out to the old Ray residence, which Tiffany acquired. When Devon finds Nica there in the next episode...He's in trouble.
  • Cloak & Dagger (2018): Played with. Tandy gets into a minor car crash; Tyrone tells her that she looks like she has a concussion and should go to the hospital, but she ignores him and drives off. She manages to get on a bus before falling unconscious. She ends up having a shared vision with Tyrone, who had gone to a Vodun priestess for unrelated reasons. The priestess gave Tyrone an herbal bath to open his mind to the spiritual, but mentioned that a concussion can do the same thing—she just doesn't use it for obvious reasons. In the end, Tandy is fine, but considering that the pair used their shared vision to magically heal each other, it's implied that her powers are the only reason there are no long-term effects.
  • Colonel March of Scotland Yard: In "The New Invisible Man", March is knocked out when a crook lightly raps him on the base of the skull with a pistol.
  • Averted in Columbo, where a blow to the back of the head is a very common means of murder.
  • CSI: NY: Mac's "333 Stalker" knocks him out with a blow to the back of the head, sedates him, and binds him to a chair in a Laser Hallway lined with guns. He comes to just slightly groggy, but has recovered enough by the time his team arrives to not only participate in his own rescue, but to also grab one of the guns and shoot his stalker in the arm so they can arrest him.
  • Danger 5 spoofed this with Tucker declaring he was going to knock out a sentry for an hour, adjusting an egg timer on his wrist for that amount of time, then judo chopping the sentry.
  • A Running Gag in Dans Une Galaxie Près De Chez Vous involved people doing this to Brad (saying "no Brad!" in an increasingly bored tone) at least once an episode to stop his "evil" plots to ruin the mission. He even does it to himself a couple of times.
  • Similarly tested on Deadliest Warrior with a pistol whip. If not fatal, it would be catastrophic and permanent injury.
  • The Decoy episode "Across the World" contains a weird example, where Casey passes out after being punched in the stomach.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Happens near-constantly to the Doctor. His advanced extraterrestrial brain justifies the lack of ill effects.
    • The Third Doctor used "Venusian Aikido" to immobilise someone, which seemed to involve Jon Pertwee jabbing two fingers into someone's chest and shouting "Hai!"
    • This is a preferred technique of classic Doctor Who baddies; a nondescript karate chop to the shoulder which had a 50/50 chance of knocking people out or killing them outright.
    • In "Full Circle", the Doctor himself gets this treatment — keeping him from calming the alien child.
    • In "The Masque of Mandragora", when the Doctor realizes that Sarah Jane is being kidnapped and tries to intervene, one mook takes him out with a rock to his head.
    • Played with in the Tenth Doctor episode "The Idiot's Lantern". The Doctor is knocked unconscious by a punch to the jaw, but he only remains so for a few seconds and quickly gets back up in pursuit of the people who punched him.
  • In Dollhouse, Topher Brink uses the jaw-punch version to prevent Bennet Halverson from killing Echo.
  • Subverted in Elementary. In season 5 Sherlock gets hit on the head. It initially seems to be this, but come the season premiere of season 6 and he reveals he's been diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. That explains his off behavior in season 5.
  • In the first season of Fargo, Lester Nygard attempts to do this to his wife with a ball peen hammer, but when blood starts gushing out of her head, he panics and proceeds to finish her off.
  • In an early episode of Farscape, Aeryn knocks out John Chrichton with a single punch. He wakes up after the commercial break in the back seat of Aeryn's Prowler, finishing the sentence he was in the middle of when she cold-cocked him. Aeryn replies that it was "a panthak jab. You were more susceptible than most." The commentary for the episode reveals that this was a bit of nonsense invented because the script called for Aeryn to hit John to shut him up, then both of them would take her Prowler on a mission. Ben Browder insisted that John Chrichton would NEVER follow Aeryn anywhere after she hit him, so the panthak jab was invented as some kind of Peacekeeper martial arts technique to invoke this trope.
  • In Firefly
    • the episode "Ariel", Mal delivers one to Jayne with a wrench.
      • He's only out for a couple seconds, though; and "unconscious" wasn't the specific intent, just a bonus.
    • Wash gets one in “Our Mrs Reynolds” because Seduction-Proof Marriage keeps him from kissing Saffron. His head is still hurting after he wakes up so it’s possibly an aversion, though he doesn’t seem to have too many after-effects.
  • In The Following episode "Resurrection", Ryan Hardy does this to a suspect accidentally.
    Hardy: [annoyed] I barely touched you.
  • For Life: After Aaron gets hit over the head with a dumbbell during the prison riot, he suffers from pain, dizziness, and temporary cognitive impairment, but there does not seem to be any lasting injury.
  • A French Village: Twice Marie is knocked out by being pistol-whipped, in close succession. In both cases, she's shown as fine afterward.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Played straight in the first season, when Tyrion is leading men into battle when he accidentally catches a warhammer to the head, and doesn't regain consciousness until well after the battle when he's being hauled around on a cart.
    • However in the third season, it's played realistically, where a man who's clubbed unconscious wakes up after less than a minute. (Only to be clubbed again, courtesy of the Hound and Arya, respectively. This foreshadows Sandor knocking Arya out when she tries to intervene in the battle at the Twins.)
    • Theon receives one at the end of a Rousing Speech. He goes right out.
  • Get Smart, being at its core a Bond parody, did this constantly. While Max was an accomplished martial artist, his preferred method of attack was a karate chop to the back of the neck, either by waiting for somebody to enter the room, distracting them, or sneaking up on them. At one point, he ambushes five KAOS agents in a row as they enter a room. Unfortunately, the sixth person is a CONTROL operative.
  • Heroes uses it so much — for both comic and dramatic effect — that the show's Wiki has a page dedicated to it. Once, Claude saved New York (at least for the moment) with this trope and a good right hook.
  • Subverted and parodied in one episode of Hogan's Heroes, in which Colonel Crittendon claims to know an instantly-lethal form of martial arts known as "Killer Judo". He sneaks up on a guard and delivers a chop to the back of the neck... which has no effect whatsoever.
  • Two examples from Horatio Hornblower's episode "The Even Chance", both of which were Percussive Prevention.
    • Horatio challenged a resident sadistic bully for a duel. Clayton feels shamed that a boy much younger than himself stood up to him, and is afraid that Horatio will be killed because said bully counts as one of the best shots in the Navy. Clayton therefore decides to knock Horatio unconscious and fight the duel in proxy as Horatio's original second.
    • The Indefatigable's crew take part in a night attack on a French ship. Archie Kennedy is having a fit which threatens to disclose their presence. Desperate Horatio taps him on head which solves the situation but leads to sad consequences, as the unconscious Archie is lost during their fight because the aforementioned bully untied the boat he was left in. This is based on a similar scene in the books (as explained in the Literature section, above), but Hornblower isn't sure if the man survived.
  • Averted in the original I Spy television series. In one episode Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby) attacks a guard with several karate chops to the neck and goes out of his way to explain to the person he'd just rescued that the guard was now dead. This is a rare occasion in which a 1960s spy series actually acknowledges that one of the genre's common "non-lethal" tropes, as it could potentially be in real life, is in fact lethal force.
  • Dennis was knocked out on an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia after he gets a staple gun to the face. The trope is deconstructed because he spends the rest of the episode having violent hallucinations and resolves to see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • JAG: In "Scimitar", The Mole refuses to go with them to Kuwait, and intends to stay behind to help fix the problems in Iraq, and insists on this to make it look like the heroes took them prisoner before leaving them behind. Harm balks at this, so Meg does it instead.
  • Jessica Jones (2015) has two examples in the same episode that are somewhat realistic. First, a woman is hit in the head with a vase, and crashes with great force on a table, killing her. Then, the title character gets knocked down, but not instantly — and it was not fatal because she's Super Tough.
  • In Leverage, the trope gets played extremely straight with Elliot and his one-shot knockout punches. Whether it's in the middle of melee or cold-cocking someone, one shot typically knocks them flat on their back and dreaming with no shown side effects afterwards. He's even used it on occasion on people entirely unaffiliated with the crime, simply to get their identification.
  • Subverted on an episode of The Lone Ranger, where the Ranger knocks out Butch Cavendish with a punch to the jaw, but realizes he's faking when he examines him. He uses it as a way to set a trap and doesn't tell the guys with him that Cavendish is faking until later, when they're away from him.
  • Lost has used this a few times, though the preferred method of knocking someone unconscious is Pistol-Whipping.
    • In "Hearts and Minds", Locke hits Boone to knock him out, ties him up, and sends him on a Vision Quest by "treating" the wound with a hallucinogen.
    • More realistic effects of a Tap On the head are shown in "The Other 48 Days", in which Eko kills two Others with a rock.
    • The series is actually quite guilty of this, as characters would be knocked out with a tap every other episode but only when it would fit the plot. All the fighting scenes feature much harder blows then those who render them unconscious. Almost every major character took a beating at some point with a lot of hits on the head but we rarely see one fainting.
  • MacGyver (1985):
    • In "Last Stand", Mac is holding some piece of equipment that he's supposedly going to use to fix up a plane so the bad guys can escape. When asked by his guard what the item is, he replies "Lateral... cranial... impact... enhancer", and smacks the guard across the head with it.
    • This happens all the time in MacGyver, what with his no-guns policy. The likelihood of knocking a bad guy out with a single blow is inversely proportional to his position on the bad guy ladder.
  • The karate chop to the neck variant is one of the three ways people tend to be non-fatally incapacitated in the 60s spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. (The other two are Pistol-Whipping and Instant Sedation via tranquilizer darts or knockout gas.)
  • Happens to the title character more or less Once an Episode in Mannix.
  • Very common in Merlin (2008), usually as a way for Merlin to use magic without Arthur seeing.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Subverted in "Death at the Grand". Inspector Robinson knocks the murderer of the week unconscious in a scuffle. In a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, he's left in a life-threatening coma and only awakens in the season finale, where he turns out to be the Arc Villain.
  • Mission: Impossible episode "Invasion". A hit man is sent to kill the man the IMF is targeting. When he discovers the masquerade he knocks out one of the fake soldiers with a single blow on the back of the head and puts on his uniform for the purpose of Dressing as the Enemy.
    • In fact, this was done to deal with troublesome guards by the team on a semi-regular basis in the early seasons, though poor choreography often made it look like they were knocking people out by slapping them between the shoulder blades. Later seasons switched to using Instant Sedation using a tack coated with an unspecified knockout drug.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • During the Science Fiction sketch (aka "Blancmanges from the Andromeda Galaxy") the scientist knocks out his female assistant with a blow on the head.
    • Also, given away as a prize to Mrs. Scum in a game show sketch, even though she was offered a poke in the eye, a punch in the throat, or a knee to the temple and a dagger up the clitoris as alternatives.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: This trope is how Mad Scientist Dr. Forrester "convinced" temp employee Mike Nelson to join the bots on the Satellite of Love, as shown in the intro. A simple tap of the head with a comically-sized mallet and the Mads have a new test subject.
  • The MythBusters dabbled with this trope when they tested whether an empty beer bottle was more lethal than an full beer bottle. Either way, the least you would get out of a full strength blow would be a nasty concussion, as well as lacerations from the broken glass. In the case of a full beer bottle, if your skull isn't completely caved in, then you're likely to suffer a catastrophic cerebral hemorrhage.
  • NCIS
    • Subverted in one episode when McGee sees a witness to a murder get attacked from across the street. He heads over to her apartment, only to find her door open. While he's seeing if she's alive, the assailant pops out of one of the rooms-which McGee didn't check-and smacks him over the head with a lamp. Despite getting hit hard enough for the lamp to break, McGee is still clear enough to unholster his gun and take a few shots at the fleeing perp, missing by inches.
    • Another painful subversion was when it was determined a man confessing to the murder of his fellow marine had actually Pistol Whipped him so he'd stop screaming after being wounded on a battlefield. The blow had cracked the skull and killed the man, his best friend, and the guilt had eaten at him for years.
  • Played for Laughs and subverted in the "Survivorman" episode of The Office. Dwight hits Michael with a shoe, telling him it's easier to take him to the camping location if Michael is unconscious. It doesn't work.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Charming is ambushed with a crowbar to the face. Once he wakes up, he has a pink mark for one scene and is somewhat annoyed.
  • In The Professionals this is the most common way of incapacitating someone. Doyle seems particularly prone to this, he is knocked out by a blow to the head at least three times.
  • This seems to happen frequently on Raising Hope.
  • Subverted in the Red Dwarf episode "Legion". Kryten has to render the rest of the crew unconscious, but Rimmer is a "hard-light" hologram and thus "unknockoutable" despite Rimmer's assistance and Kryten's most enthusiastic efforts.
  • In Relic Hunter ("Etched in Stone"), Sydney smacks some bad guys in the head with a freakin' rock (an obviously Papier-mâché rock, but still) the size of a turkey. They are fine.
  • On Republic of Doyle Jake gets hit on the head so much every epeisode that he should be dead or suffering massive brain damage. In one episode he got hit in the back of the head by a crowbar and later by a wine bottle.
  • Happens to the hero more or less Once an Episode in The Rockford Files.
  • Subverted on Seal Team when Jason sustains a head wound during a helicopter crash. He is dazed and has trouble focusing but the other survivors are shown to have the same issue due to the shock. Since Jason is a tough-as-nails Navy SEAL, one expects this to be temporary and the real worry seems to be a leg injury he also received. However, after a few minutes it becomes apparent that Jason is acting strange. His situational awareness is severely impaired, he repeats himself and is forgetful. When the team subsequently comes under attack, Jason is made to sit things out since in his condition he would be a liability in combat. At the end of the episode it is revealed that he is also suffering from severe hallucinations.
  • In the Shoestring episode "Nine Tenths of the Law", a girl climbs a tree and drops a flowerpot on Eddie's head, knocking him out long enough for her father to steal his car keys.
  • Exaggerated in Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, where Retired Badass Grandpa]Yoshitaka Igasaki knocks out the Red Ranger, one of his grandchildren... with a paper fan on the noggin after the youngster tries to catch him on a dare.
    • Later played straight with the introduction of the Metal Jutsu. Which drops a washing pan on top of the target's head. Youkai Kappa got comboed by it by Takaharu and Yakumo, leaving the floored Youkai with one cracked helmet.
    • Played for laughs not even one episode later, when Yoshitaka taps Takaharu in a repriming matter with a rolled up scroll.
  • Subversion: In one first-season Sledge Hammer! episode, Sledge jumps a Mook from behind, and hits him over the head with the butt of his gun. The Mook's reaction is to cry "Owww," but not to go down. Sledge tries again, with similar results. After several attempts, he is unable to knock the mook out by hitting him on the head. Alan Spencer, creator of Sledge Hammer!, in his voice-over commentary for the episode, states that this was the entire purpose of the scene — to take the Mickey out of this trope.
  • An episode of Smallville has Clark knock someone out with a literal tap on the head. You get one guess why.
    • In another episode, Martha Kent is Brainwashed and Crazy and pointing a gun at Lana. Chloe knocks her out with a single blow from a rolling pin (by surprise, from the back). Now...given that this kind of blow would be unlikely, in Real Life, to result in an instant knockout, and given that Martha was in a state of mind where she could easily have used the gun on Lana or Chloe (or, indeed, pulled the trigger by accident)...just think how dangerous it would have been if it was done with realism and Chloe's strength was only sufficient to cause some severe pain to Martha's head without incapacitating her.
    • In the earlier seasons, whoever Clark needed to rescue who wasn't aware of his powers would "conveniently" get knocked out just long enough for Clark to come in and do his thing before they woke back up, none the worse for the wear. The most common offenders were Lana and Lex. At the rate they were knocked out, they should have had serious brain damage by the third or fourth time.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • Legendary subversion: in the first season Mr. Spock was scripted to incapacitate a maddened Kirk by rapping him in the back of the head with the butt of a phaser pistol. Leonard Nimoy thought that uncivilized, so he and the director came up with a more "civilized" alternative: the Vulcan nerve pinch (AKA neck pinch). Spock repeatedly used the nerve pinch in subsequent episodes. In one of them ("I, Mudd"), the pinch failed because he was using it on an android.
    • "Obsession". Ensign Garrovick tries to knock out Captain Kirk with a karate chop so he can be the one to lure the vampire cloud to the antimatter bomb.
    • Kirk himself was not adverse to a chop or hammerblow now and again. Even McCoy has been seen doing this occasionally...
    • A truer subversion is seen in "Mirror, Mirror", in which mirror!Spock is knocked out this way and Dr. McCoy declares that he'll die without immediate treatment. It may have averted the trope too far, though, considering the deadly object was a skull so fragile that it completely shattered after hitting Spock. It's difficult to imagine it would even knock him out in the first place, unless the skull was so hard it took a lot of blunt force to break it.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Data has a convenient on/off switch under his shoulderblade.
    • Picard has been known to dole out a few back-of-the-head hits...but he tends to receive them more than he gives them.
  • Happens to Sam and/or Dean frequently on Supernatural. Also, angels can do this by just touching the target.
  • Played straight in Teen Wolf. Poor Stiles. The werewolves seem to consistently forget that whacking a human on the head can cause permanent brain damage.
  • In Thunderbirds, this happens several times, usually when the baddies want to take over from somebody doing their job.
    Victor Gomez: I haven't killed the guy, it was just a little tap. Enough to keep him out of the way for a moment.
  • Averted in season one of True Blood; Lettie Mae hits Tara over the head with an empty Jack Daniels bottle, which hurts a lot, but doesn't knock Tara out.
  • In the UFO (1970) episode "Ordeal", an alien punches Colonel Foster in the chin and he goes out like a light. It turned out to be justified because it occurs during an It Was All A Dream sequence.
  • In Vazelina Hjulkalender, this is done to Santa when Aspic and Ruslebiffen kidnap him.
  • The Wayans Bros.: Marlon accidentally KO's the boxing champ holding the heavy bag he's unleashing his frustrations on in one episode. The champ recovers in enough time to follow Marlon from the gym back to the newspaper stand and publicly challenge him to a three-round charity match to save face.
  • Without a Trace's Martin Fitzgerald gets this courtesy of a baseball bat-wielding suspect in the pilot episode. It's actually averted in that he's seen being carted of in an ambulance at the end, with his supervisor ordering the agent accompanying him to make sure he gets his head checked.

  • In Jaga Jazzist's "Airborne" music video, an attempted murder is foiled when the gunman is knocked unconscious by a flying champagne cork.
  • In "Flying Doctor" by Hawkwind, the doctor attempts an operation without anaesthetic:
    He pulled back his fist and scientifically socked her
    Look out you'd better duck, here comes the Flying Doctor!

  • During the "Hit Cousin It" mode in The Addams Family, each shot to Cousin It is depicted with an animation of him getting hit in the head with a giant pinball.
  • In No Good Gofers, hitting either Bud or Buzz will show them getting clonked with a golf ball on the display.
  • Q*Bert is shown kicking a pinball off Ugg's head on the backglass of Q*Bert's Quest.
  • One of the animations in Transformers shows Mudflap getting hit with a pinball.
  • In Capcom's unreleased Kingpin, the mobster Butch Schotz is killed after being struck from behind.
  • The Match Sequence for Space Jam has the Tasmanian Devil getting knocked out after a basketball is thrown at his head.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The bread and butter of the sport:
    • During standard matches, punches and blows to the head –- e.g., kicks, punches and more complex moves –- ordinarily will not "knock" a wrestler out, unless it is a finishing move, in which the wrestler can be rendered vulnerable for defeat for just seconds (such as the amount of time required to register a three-count pinfall) to longer, depending on the predetermined series of events. A wrestler can be "knocked out" to either sell a powerful move or sell the delivering wrestler's power.
    • "No Holds Barred" matches will similarly see wrestlers being able to absorb the force of blows from chairs and other weapons, possibly knocking out the targeted wrestler for a designated period of time. Usually, this is to allow the offending wrestler to complete an objective (such as doing something to humiliate his opponent) or demonstrate his power.
    • Sometimes, the knockout blows will be delivered during out-of-ring confrontations, such as to set up a feud. For instance, a heel wrestler sneaks up from behind of a face wrestler he's been heckling or targeting and bats him over the head with a club, knocking him unconscious.
  • IWA Mid-South and CZW wrestler Brain Damage set out to avert this trope.
  • Matt Taven was of this opinion, refusing to acknowledge the role Raymond Rowe's concussion played War Machine's loss of ROH World Tag Team Titles to The Addiction at the 2016 War Of The Worlds, insisting his leg injury was worth more attention.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Mr. Conklin is Honored", Mr. Conklin receives several hits on the head with Mrs. Davis' mahogany handled umbrella. It Makes Sense in Context. Mr. Conklin falls to the ground each time, but suffers no effect more severe than the loss of a couple teeth.

  • Shadowhunter Peril has Bezaliel. When the angel first appeared he started spinning out in a psychotic episode and nearly overwhelmed everyone present with his messed-up mind, thanks to his empathy powers. The problem was solved by his confused son Nicholas picking up a large rock and smashing it on the top of his head, knocking him out instantly. This would become the solution for how to deal with Bezaliel for several days after, until they figured out what to do with him. Hilariously, Veronica actually tried to knock him out once, only for Bezaliel to appear offended and slightly ruffled. Then they overheard Umbra and Nicholas having sex.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In several versions of the Hero game rules, attacks made by surprise on an out of combat charater do double stun. If hit locations are used, attacks to the head have the highest stun multiplier, followed by attacks to the (other) vitals.
  • In the great pulp tradition, any combat in Spirit of the Century, whether you're beating people up, stabbing them, or shooting them, can end in a knock out rather than death, and this is actually encouraged (for the GM, so the PCs don't all die before they can get stuffed in a deathtrap, and for the PCs so they can interrogate the Mooks they just clobbered).
  • Some d20-style games feature weapons that are designed to be non-lethal when used this way, such as the ubiquitous blackjack/sap in Dungeons & Dragons. A little questionable when you look at the weapon tables in Spycraft 2.0 and see that a 30lb maul does subdual damage.
  • 1E Dungeons & Dragons
    • The monk (martial artist) could stun an opponent with an "open hand" unarmed blow.
    • The Unearthed Arcana supplement introduced the sap (a.k.a. blackjack), a weapon that had a 5% chance per point of the wielder's Strength of knocking out an opponent struck on the head.
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • Supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "The Asylum". Dr. Freygan could use his knowledge of human anatomy to perform a Star Trek style neck pinch and knock out a victim. Because he was a proto-shoggoth, he could extend his arm out many feet to do so.
    • The "Knockout Attack" rules allow something like this, with blunt attacks optionally allowing a Resistance roll (Damage vs. HP). If successful, the victim is knocked unconscious and takes 1/3 rolled damage. Assuming two average unarmed humans this amounts to a 10% chance...
    • Harder than usual because you can't do stun damage with regular unarmed attacks. People still lose consciousness by spending too long below zero HP, so you can fulfill the trope by doing that much damage, without causing any lasting injury by crippling a hit location. This means punching a guy in the chest several times is the most effective way to put him to sleep, if stunning weapons are unavailable.
    • If you actually try konking someone over the head, you probably will knock them out... because with much extra damage a head-shot does you'll shoot him straight into unconsciousness. And possibly right past a death check too. Presuming the straight hit point damage doesn't do it, he has to make a stunning/knockdown check at -10 if he takes any damage to his brain at all, and any botch (pretty likely at -10) knocks him out anyways. You have to buy a supplement to get the optional detailed injury rules that can leave the victim brain damaged afterwards.
    • A solar plexus shot (attack to the "vitals") does less bonus damage than a hit to the head, but it still does quite a bit extra, and has a stunning/knockdown roll at -5. So it probably will take them out, but they won't be unscathed...
    • However, some supplements and versions of the rules intended to simulate settings where the trope is in effect, including the Discworld Roleplaying Game, have rules to allow a tap on the head safely to induce unconsciousness.
    • Explicitly defied in the solo adventure included in the main rulebook — when you're given the opportunity to knock a napping guard unconscious the adventure explicitly points out that there's no safe and reliable way to knock someone out, and there's indeed a chance you'll end up accidentally killing him instead.
  • Time Lord RPG (based on Doctor Who) main rules, "Curse of the Cyclops" adventure. If the Player Characters are captured they can be rescued by someone sneaking up behind the guards and knocking them out by hitting them on the back of the head.
  • Averted in The World of Darkness, where aiming for the head incurs a penalty to attack, but lets you do Lethal damage with weapons that otherwise do Bashing (stunning) damage. Hitting someone over the head could very well kill them.
    • Demon: The Descent, on the other hand, brings this back with the Knockout Punch Embed. As some Embeds work on "everybody knows..." logic, the game outlines how a blow to the head can be really harmful... then gives demons using this power the ability to not only knock someone out with a head blow, but declare the conditions under which they'll wake up (e.g., "once I'm out of the building").
  • Ars Magica has a rather abstracted combat system and two distinct methods of dealing non-lethal damage (The 'Scuffling' rules Core book, and the 'Bruises' system described in the 'Lords of Men' supplement). Neither method is especially likely to cause unconsciousness with a single blow, however, and both will leave the recipient with a 'residual' Medium Wound which imposes a -3 penalty to all rolls (and chance of worsening injury in response to strenuous activity) for at least the next 5-6 weeks of game time...
  • Bard Games' generic supplement The Compleat Adventurer. The Rogue and Spy Character Classes have the Waylay ability, which allows them to knock out an opponent by hitting them over the head with a blackjack, club or similar blunt instrument. The tactic can only be used with surprise or from behind. It results in double normal damage and the target being rendered unconscious for one minute for each Hit Point of damage done by the attack.
  • This is how Ork Painboyz "anesthetize" their unfortunate patients, generally before they rip the teeth straight out of their jaws as a form of payment for the "surgery" and preferably with a big mallet or other blunt instrument. The Ork patient survives the severe concussion due to their physiology making them ungodly durable, which is bad when the Painboy has a few new toys from the mekboyz to try out or if he wants to see what would happen if he stapled a Gretchen to an Ork's face for example.

  • In The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals, General Macnamara knocks Paul out with the butt of his gun out of caution that Paul was also a singing alien zombie.
  • A cruel subversion of this trope, in Into the Woods, the Steward stops Jack's mother from antagonizing the Giantess by smacking her upside the head with his cane...and then the Baker discovers, to his great horror, that her head is bleeding...
  • In the stage version of Les Misérables, Jean Valjean escapes from Javert at the end of "The Confrontation" by punching him out. Averted in the film version, where instead he escapes by leaping from a ledge into the sea.
  • The protagonist of the 1933 Broadway musical Pardon My English had two Jekyll & Hyde-like personalities which he would switch between whenever he was hit over the head.
  • Used frequently in Mischief Theatre's "Goes Wrong" productions, always for humorous effect. It's a Running Gag that one or more players are 'knocked out' by badly-timed door openings, flying props, falls, and falling pieces of set — forcing another player to step into the role and/or the other actors to continue speaking their dialogue without response or haul their unconscious comrade about like a rag doll.
    • It's especially prominent in The Play That Goes Wrong, where the part of "Florence" is supposed to be prone to hysterical fits, but whenever the script calls for her to have one of those fits the actor playing her accidentally gets knocked out. It first happens when the actor Sandra, playing Florence, gets hit by an opening door and spends the rest of the scene lying unconscious on the floor while the other characters, trying to keep the play going, "respond" to her hysterical bursts. While Sandra recuperates the part of Florence is taken over by Annie the stage hand, who is awkward in the role at first but begins to really get into it... only to then get knocked unconscious when she is hit on the head by the same opening door, and once more the other players have to "respond" to hysterical fits that aren't actually happening because Annie is too busy lying unconscious on the floor. A recovered Sandra (in her underwear because Annie is wearing the costume) steps into the scene to take back the part of Florence, only to get knocked out again, and still by the same door. Trevor briefly steps in to speak Florence's lines before he's knocked out. For the rest of the play, Sandra and Annie fight over who gets to play Florence, each actress trying, with various success, to knock the other one out or push her off-stage.
    • In Peter Pan Goes Wrong something similar is going on with the role of Peter, except in this case whoever's playing Peter at the time tends to suffer a mishap that knocks him unconscious just after he's said Peter's signature line (which unfortunately is treated as a bit of a Catchphrase in this production) "To die would be an awfully big adventure!"
    • In The Goes Wrong Show the actors seem to have built up a tolerance, because while they still suffer from a lot of slapstick injuries, they tend to stay conscious. In the episode "Summer Once Again," Vanessa is hit by an opening door no less than three times during the play, but she always stays conscious. The trope isn't completely averted though, as every so often someone will end up unconscious and requiring the other players to play around them, such as Dennis in "90 Degrees," Trevor in "Harper's Locket" and the entire cast apart from Chris and Jonathan in "The Cornley Drama Festival Part 2" (though in this case it's more a case of Instant Sedation, as most of them accidentally take sleeping pills and Annie is hit by a tranqilizer gun).

    Theme Parks 

  • Hitting the opponent in the head seems to be the most reliable way to knock someone out with no lasting consequences in BIONICLE. Ironically, the concept of Kanohi masks was introduced specifically so that characters wouldn't have to punch each other in the face, as they could weaken or disable the opponent by removing their mask. However, as the series got progressively Darker and Edgier, more "realistic" violence (with unrealistic consequences) was brought in.
    • Early masks were specifically designed so that they could be knocked off with a tap, and the toys were all designed to incorporate various punching or hitting functions. When the designers realized that kids weren't all that crazy for such play features, they made the connections sturdier and abandoned these gimmicks. This was around the time characters stopped targeting the masks in-story.
    • The 2015 toys reintroduce this gimmick — tapping the back of their head causes the power-giving masks to pop off.

    Video Games 
  • Alpha Protocol uses the a variant of the karate chop... To the victim's exposed throat. It's an instant takedown. Other animations for non-lethal Back Stabs involve broken bones, dislocated necks, and chocking them until they fall unconscious. The game repeatedly lampshades how "non-lethal" does not mean "harmless": You can even see how much you cost people in medical expenses from recovering from the takedowns. Hey, it beats "orphans created", which you get for killing them.
    • Subverted if Mike pisses off Madison enough to make her try this on him. When Mike points out that it only works in the movies, Madison calmly throws a shock mine at him.
  • Subverted in America's Army 3, melee attacks that hit the back of the neck are lethal.
  • Knockouts in ARK: Survival Evolved may be conducted by Tranquilizer Dart or by this trope. In early game, your first few KO-tames will be using your fists, a club, or a slingshot. In mid or even late game, kicking things with an Equus is a highly efficient knockout method.
  • Avalon Code ends Chapter 3 with Anwar using the "solar plexus" variant on your character. Heath uses the same variant at the end of Chapter 5 to keep you from getting the book out of a hijacked Valdo's hands.
  • Played straight in the Batman: Arkham Series. Almost averted when Batman uses a blood-choke to silent take-down enemies, which as stated previously does have a low risk of permanent damage — but his opponents stay out for a very long time. His other method of 'knocking out' thugs involves no-holds-barred beat-downs where he snaps bones and most certainly gives severe concussions.
    • Not only that, but in Arkham City Batman himself is knocked out due to extreme blunt force trauma to the head no fewer than four times, two of which occur before he even puts on his mask.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine:
    • Sammy knocks Henry out near the end of Chapter 2, and yet Henry's perfectly capable of running and swinging an axe shortly afterwards. Granted, he was also fearing for his life at that point. Adrenaline can do amazing things. Then it's subverted when Chapter 3 reveals that Henry spent time recovering in the safe house while Boris cared for him and played cards with him.
    • Subverted when Alice Angel crashes the elevator holding Henry and Boris, and the impact knocks out Henry. Boris barely manages to rouse Henry, who can't warn Boris about an approaching Alice Angel. Then Henry lapses back into unconsciousness after seeing Alice take Boris, and Alice assumes he is dead.
  • BioShock Infinite. At one point Elizabeth hits Booker in the head with a wrench and knocks him out cold for a while. When he wakes up he's been captured by Daisy Fitzroy's Vox Populi troops.
  • Black Mesa:
    • The reimagined scene where Gordon is knocked out by the HECU has them do this, as opposed to beating him senseless like in the original Half-Life.
    • Black Mesa: Blue Shift makes a similar change, with Barney getting whacked in the head by a HECU marine and then shoved into Rosenberg's prisoner car instead of being locked inside after walking in on his own accord.
  • In the Commandos games, the main point is to knock out the enemy mooks instead of killing them.
  • In Dark Cloud 2, Action Girl / Black Magician Girl Monica Raybrandt is knocked out by her nemesis, Gaspard, using the "sharp punch to the solar plexus" variety. To be fair, she was distracted at the time, what with her partner Max shooting down the airship she and Gaspard were on...
  • Detroit: Become Human has Markus do the karate chop version to two guards during the Stratford Tower infiltration, should you successfully ruse them.
  • Deus Ex made stunning attacks on unaware targets vastly more effective than those on alert ones. Hitting someone from behind with a baton or riot prod would knock them out quickly and quietly.
    • Trivia: Ionstorm Austin, the makers of Deus Ex, employed some of the Looking Glass Studios staff (who made Thief) when Looking Glass folded.
    • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution a vicious kind of Tap On the head plays an important role as Adam Jensen can use his augmented strength to perform various non-lethal takedowns with punches to the head, chokeholds, or striking an enemy's head against a hard object (or striking the heads of two enemies together). Note 'non-lethal' here does not at all mean 'nobody gets hurt'; in the expansion, one NPC even calls you out, asking if you enjoy putting so many of her men into comas.
  • The stealth-based game Dishonored has the choke hold as a nonlethal option.
    • Dishonored 2 has more nonlethal attacks, most of which involve introducing your opponent's head to the ground. Much like the first game, everybody snores soundly in their sleep, even if they were curb stomped a few seconds ago.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Ardyn does this to Noctis in Final Fantasy XV. Ardyn uses a stitch in time to switch places with Prompto, tricking Noctis and causing him to accidentally push his friend off the moving train. As Noct stands distraught over what he had done, Ardyn pistol-whips him on the the back of the head with Prompto's gun, knocking him unconscious.
    • Delita uses the 'sharp shot to the solar plexus' to subdue Ovelia while the latter was being kidnapped by the former in Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • In Ghost Trick, the Guardian of the Park receives one from a falling football. This is a particularly example, as going by the time said tap occurs, he was left unconscious for five hours.
  • The Halo series goes halfway with this. It rewards you for being covert by having one melee strike to the back be enough to instantly take down even enemies like Elites that would normally take multiple whacks just to get through their shields. However, unlike a straight example, the enemies just outright die from this; you are a super soldier capable of punching through tank doors and flipping the tanks themselves, after all.
  • In Hitman you can hit or throw a blunt object at someone's head and it always counts as a knockout instead of a kill, an unnecessary kill affects your score but a knockout does nothing. You can throw a wrench full force at an old man's head and it will only knock them out, and a diffeent NPC can wake them up easily.
  • The James Bond games used this a few times.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, Dave Norton suspects that a person declared dead by the IAA is in fact still alive, and wants Michael to infiltrate the morgue to investigate. Rather than simply have Michael play dead, Dave hits him on the back of the head. When Michael wakes up, he's still in good enough shape to kill all the IAA agents guarding the morgue.
  • Used by Axel in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days to render Xion unconscious. She got better.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: This is how Link is rendered unconcious, so the Bulblins can take Ilia. It's never explained why they do this though.
  • Metal Gear has this as well. No ill effects on the guards at all, either — as soon as they wake up after being choked out, they'll immediately be aware of what happened and alert the others. It's only downplayed a bit—by stealth game standards, anyway—in that knocked-out guards will wake up on their own relatively quickly, rather than needing a comrade to find and rouse them.
    • Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes has one particular cutscene where Snake is hit in the back of the head with a rifle stock, to which he responds by menacing the guy who hit him for about five seconds before falling over.
    • Metal Gear Solid V allows the player to take out enemies non-lethally by shooting them in the head with rubber bullets. In Real Life, targeting someone's head with rubber bullets can be just as lethal as with normal bullets, since you're still hitting them with supersonic projectiles.
  • In Metro: Last Light (and retroactively added in the Redux version of Metro 2033), a new 'takedown' system was added: sneak up behind an enemy, and upon the sound of a knife being unholstered you can either slit his throat or punch him in the head with the knuckle guard of your knife, which is a guaranteed Non-Lethal K.O. every time. There's no difference in the effectiveness of either method, in both cases the enemy will be down for the countnote .
  • In Monster Hunter, impact-based attacks (all of the Hammer's and Hunting Horn's attacks, the Sword & Shield's Shield Bash, and the Charge Blade's Impact Phials, to name a few examples) on a monster's head will wear its stamina down, tiring it out sooner, as well as stun the monster if you continue to hit them this way. The series has a distinct "ding!" sound to let you know when you're doing this correctly.
  • In OverBlood Raz gets knocked out in a single punch when Milly gets kidnapped.
  • In Persona 4: Arena, Naoto does the karate chop to the neck as her throw. Since this is a Fighting Game, it's not a literal One-Hit KO as that would be unfair, but it causes the opponent to briefly lose consciousness and fall to their knees, allowing for a follow-up attack.
  • Phantom Doctrine: The "Takedown" attack kills enemy mooks outright, puts enemy agents on a five turn bleedout timer, and makes civilians unconscious.
  • During the postgame of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, before the final dungeon of the postgame, the player (after being given a line of dialogue) seemingly wakes up back at Serene Village, with no memories of what happened, their only clues being what they know prior to these events and sudden headaches as they make their way back to Lively Village. It's eventually revealed in the player's final flashback that Nuzleaf (having been told by Ampharos about how to bring the partner back and unbeknownst to the player at the time) had lured Mew away from the player in order to set the plan of bringing the partner back into motion under the guise of trying to make Mew disappear. When the player realized Mew was gone, the screen turns black, and Nuzleaf had struck the player on the head, only indicated by a hitting sound, knocking the player out instantly and causing the headaches to occur.
  • Quest for Glory V introduces the blackjack as a Thieves-only item which lets them perform non-fatal sneak attacks.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Apparently averted in the first Resident Evil game. One ending variation has Barry Burton sneak up behind an unsuspecting Wesker and whack him on the back of the head with his magnum. This would have to kill Wesker for him to be able to transform into his undead, G-Virus self, present in the rest of the series.
    • Claire Redfield is whacked on the head by a rifle stock from an umbrella security guard at the begining of Resident Evil – Code: Veronica and knocked unconscious.
    • Resident Evil Village: Retroactively averted, when it's revealed that all the way back in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Jack's stomp on Ethan's head didn't knock him out — it killed him.
  • In Runescape the "teleport" animations for The Pit event and the Big Book o' Piracy actually involve an NPC distracting your character and knocking them unconcious so that they can manually transport them to the location that you are "teleporting" to.
  • Subverted in The Saboteur with one of Sean's stealth kills. It involves some particularly hard and crunchy blows to the back of the enemy's head, and you can be sure they're as dead as if you neck snapped them instead.
  • The Shadowrun Genesis game uses the "solar plexus blow" variant as a distraction in which your character will stealthily pull it off then claim they had a heart attack to sneak into corporations as flavor text. This always works regardless of the unarmed combat and social capabilities of the main character.
  • Splinter Cell relies almost entirely on this trope being reliable. Any tap to the head is a clean, instant and safe knockout be it from a sharp elbow, a punch, a rap with the grip of a handgun, a dense rubber projectile or even a sticky camera launched from a modified Grenade Launcher. From Chaos Theory onward, Sam commonly uses the sleeper hold, and palm-strikes to the solar plexus.
  • The beginning of Tales from the Borderlands has the protagonist Rhys being knocked out by a hit to the jaw, courtesy of the Stranger's rifle.
  • Yuri from Tales of Vesperia does this with comical ease to multiple armored guards throughout the story, first with some thrown stones (That hit their helmets), then by casually hitting them in the back of the neck.
  • The Thief game series: attacks on unaware targets are more effective than those on alert targets. Hitting an unaware target with the blackjack will knock him/her out quickly and quietly. (If they're aware, they cannot be knocked unconscious but can take damage, although the attack is less effective than if they were unaware.) Though even if you use the blackjack, when a guard finds an unconscious person they will mistake it for a corpse. Justified in that they are never shown to actually check the body. The game itself distinguishes between a corpse and an unconscious body; in fact, if you throw an unconscious person into water, this counts as a murder, and changes the body's status from "unconscious" to "dead".
  • In The Touryst, anything that hits the Tourist on the head will immediately knock him out. Since Death Is Cheap, he just respawns back at the beginning of the room he was in at the time.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: In a moment of Cutscene Incompetence, the player character is knocked unconscious with a baseball bat to the head, even though they're a vampire who's only mildly inconvenienced by being shot through the brain.
  • Used in World of Warcraft as a Rogue ability called Sap which temporarily disables an enemy and does no damage.
    • And leaves them standing so their allies don't notice they're unconscious.note 
    • Rogues get a number of other kinds of stun attacks as well. It's hard to imagine how any of them is supposed to work in real life terms.
    • Except for Gouge. If you got stabbed in the eye, you'd most certainly stop whatever you were doing to just hold your hands over your eye and scream your head off, though arguably for much longer than a few seconds. And being hit again would do hardly anything to make you forget. You know, that you got ''stabbed in the freaking eye''.

    Visual Novels 
  • Zigzagged in the Ace Attorney series. Frequently, the murder victims are killed by a blow to the head, but just as frequently, witnesses are temporarily incapacitated by this trope with no lasting physical effects. (In 3-2, the murderer kills his victim and knocks out a witness the same way.) At one point, Phoenix is belted with a fire extinguisher and only gets a morning's worth of amnesia from it.
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Naegi goes to a hidden room at Kirigiri's advice which holds some plot-important records. Before he can actually read them, someone in a mask bashes him over the head and he wakes up with the entire bookshelf empty, and enough stamina to walk back to his room within the same night. In-story, Kirigiri seemingly believes trope when she hears about what happened in the room and tells him he should be man enough to walk it off.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue had this when someone would need a brief time unconscious.
    Simmons: Ow, the back of my head!
    Simmons: Ow, the front of my face!
  • Strong Bad inflicting a "skillet nap" on the titular Homestar Runner. He even wakes up yawning and smacking his lips later.
  • Played with in a skit from RWBY Chibi. Nora's so bored that she bashes Ren over the head, repeatedly, with her gigantic warhammer. He seems none the worse for the wear, except for this line:
    Ren: I was fine before all the head trauma. Does anyone else hear bells ringing?

  • In My Impossible Soulmate, Chiaki trips and hits her head on the school gate, she wakes up to find herself transported to another world and while she still somewhat feels the pain, she very quickly gets over it. Justified, as the wound is slowly being healed by a "Spirit" stamp applied to her head.
  • Lampshade Hanging in this El Goonish Shive strip. Elliot is completely fine after having been knocked out, but he flips out about silly things like "brain damage" and "concussions."
  • Subverted in Narbonic. Mell clonks Titus Misanthropie with the butt of her gun... and he yells "Ow!" He then proceeds to give her advice:
    Titus: Miss, you want to strike closer to the base of the skull. What is this, your first cold-cocking?
    Mell: Usually I just kill.
    Helen: Sorry, Titus. She's an intern.
  • This becomes a running gag during a Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures arc, nicknamed "head-clunking". Then Aliyka tries it on Dan...
  • Done realistically in this VG Cats strip. Yes kids, that is what you are going for when hitting someone hard on the head.
  • In Girl Genius:
    • Oggie cures Lars' panic attack with a punch to the head. Og is a Jager and they are superhumanly tough, so by his lights this might be an acceptable form of discipline. "Effective," perhaps; "acceptable," no. When Lars wakes up and asks about his rather obvious concussion Oggie claims a brick from the bridge flew wide and hit him. He even holds up the brick in question for proof.
    • Tweedle gets it twice, once from Agatha with the handle of a cleaver and later a blackjack wielded by a highly mysterious and invisible hand. He recovers without ill effects, but it's hinted he's had some sort of mad-science physical improvements made to his body.
  • In The Specialists, how Camille takes out Hartmann
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Robbie gets two from Rocko the Sasquatch: once for breaking into his home, and another for daring Rocko to hit him!! OUCH.
  • Referenced and subverted in minus.. Minus starts acting extra-bizarre, so white-haired girl suggests hitting her on the head with a rock, because "whenever people start acting strange in stories, a bump on the head brings them back to normal." So they try it, and it kills her. But she immediately comes back as a ghost, and appears to have her "normal" personality again, so this may be a very strange Double Subversion.
  • In Dragon Mango, a healer uses this to ensure the Doctor's Orders — as "tough love."
  • In Doc Rat, this is played more realistically, though on the very dangerous side: a blow to the head kills.
  • In Faux Pas, a blow to the head dazes Stu.
  • Played realistically in Unsounded, when Quigley is knocked out by Starfish he's only out for a few seconds. As it happens in the middle of a fight, a few seconds is plenty.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Subverted in "Halfs and Half-Knots": Kiki the ferret needs to stay absolutely still for an operation involving pulling half of her back through a dimensional portal, but she just gets excited at the thought of staying still and starts pouncing ever faster. Torg says "I'll get the hammer." In the next comic, he's holding an MC Hammer poster that's so colourful it causes Kiki to go into ferret shock and thus stay still.
  • Grrl Power: Deconstructed. One of the "bank robbers" early in the story tries this on Sydney, by pistol whipping her. Not only does it fail to deliver the desired effect, but a very pissed off Sydney then proceeds to unintentionally mace him with her breath from the sheer spiciness of her meal, slam him to the ground, and utterly brutalize him while he's down, only being stopped by Maxima literally pulling her off of him, and if Maxima wasn't Nigh-Invulnerable, she likely would have been clobbered too.
  • In Rhapsodies, Fedya "calms" Gage down during a stressful situation by head butting him.
  • Spying with Lana: Subverted in "The Upside Down Case". Lana tries to Pistol Whip a guard to take him out quietly, but one hit isn't enough, and he just starts screaming in pain, alerting the other guards.

    Web Original 
  • In Curveball, Agent Grant is able to take down over a dozen bank robbers by using his super powers to get behind them, then either using a cattle prod as a tazer or hitting them in the head. He later mentions that he wouldn't have brought the cattle prod if he knew that hitting them would be so effective.

    Web Videos 
  • In Suburban Knights, The Cinema Snob and Angry Joe do this to Elisa when they are leaving her house.
  • Averted in Where the Bears Are. Todd is knocked unconscious during a dramatic moment near the end of Season One. In Season Two he mentions that the doctors think he might have short-term memory loss problems because of it.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Ocean of Fear", Jake gets trapped at the bottom of an ocean trench, and Finn dons a wetsuit and whacks himself on the head with a wrench before putting on his helmet. This is all in order to knock himself unconscious and sink to the bottom of the ocean without being overwhelmed by his fear of the sea, and it works too!
  • American Dad!: Subverted in "Stan's Night Out". Several people are hit on the head with bottles; they collapse, but don't lose consciousness, and they need to be taken to a hospital.
  • Averted in Archer, as when Archer punches out Ray to take his place on a mission it's stated being unconscious is very bad for him and he has to visit a neurologist later. In later episodes, this tends to be lampshaded, with Archer saying 'yeah, that is not good for you' after knocking someone out for twenty minutes.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka knocks someone out by hitting him with his boomerang.
    • Similarly, Zuko (while masquerading as the Blue Spirit) gets knocked out for what seems to be several hours when he gets shot in the forehead by an arrow, protected only by his mask.
  • Back at the Barnyard: In "Clan of the Cave Cow", a cave cow (mistaken for Otis) whacks Abby on the head with a club. Baby chicks circle around her head as she says "I'm a pretty ballerina" before collapsing to the floor.
  • Birdman (1967)
    • "The Menace of Dr. Millennium". A caveman knocks out the title hero from behind with a stone club.
    • "The Chameleon". The title villain knocks out Birdman with a blow of his tail while shapechanged into a dinosaur.
  • Family Guy: In "Holy Crap", Peter steals the Popemobile. The guy guarding it tells Peter that "even the slightest tap on the head knocks me out. I always wake up feeling fine afterwards, but it's just so darned inconvenient." The fellow then demonstrates this by lightly touching his head and knocks himself out, allowing Peter to steal the car.
  • The Flintstones: Fred and Barney taking out all those Mooks while escaping from Dr. Sinister's lair. "A judo, a chop chop chop!"
  • Gargoyles: Elisa is thrown by Macbeth into a wall where she hits her head an is unconscious throughout the day until sunset.
  • Gravity Falls: Discussed in "Fight Fighters." Stan's advice to Dipper regarding a bully is to hit him on the top of the head, calling it "nature's snooze button."
  • Jonny Quest TOS episodes:
    • "Mystery of the Lizard Men". The title opponents are knocked out as follows: Race Bannon (1 punch, 1 judo chop), Jonny (1 by air vent grill, 1 by swinging pulley, 2 by oar, 1 by facemask).
    • "Werewolf of the Timberland". White Feather hits Blackie over the head with a club and puts him down.
    • "The Fraudulent Volcano". Hadji takes out a guard with a swung lantern and Race drops a guard using an elbow to the solar plexus.
    • "The Dreadful Doll". Race nails Korbai with a plank and Alverjo brains Harden with a scuba tank.
    • "Monster in the Monastery". Hadji thwacks one yeti with a club and crowns another with a crate, Jonny takes out two yetis with thrown pots and a yeti puts himself to sleep with a thrown rock.
    • "The Devil's Tower". Race knocks out a sleepy caveman with his own club.
  • In "Alive", the second-to-final episode of Justice League Unlimited, Volcana knocks out Taala with a chop to the neck.
  • Looney Tunes: Even Bugs Bunny suffers from this on occasion; in Ballot Box Bunny Yosemite Sam speaks LOUD and uses a large stick, while in Bully for Bugs, Toro the bull bops an overconfident Bugs with a hoof.
  • In an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Rarity ends up falling from Cloudsdale. Her flailing knocks out some would-be rescuers, but the KO blows are jaw shots, not blows over the head.
    • The "no ill effects" part of this trope happens to Rainbow Dash in the episode "Read It and Weep". After she crashes in the Cold Opening, we next see her waking up in a hospital bed with her wing in a cast and a band-aid on her head. To clarify: she was unconscious long enough to be taken to the hospital, ex-rayed, bandaged, dressed in a hospital gown and put to bed. Yet she suffers no brain damage whatsoever, and once she wakes up her broken wing is treated as the main injury, with her head injury completely ignored.
  • This happens quite a bit in The Simpsons, particularly to Homer, despite his characteristic hardheadedness. Also, in "Duffless", Homer repeatedly attempts to knock a defiant and drunk Barney out (to the point of repeatedly slamming his head in the car door) to get his keys and thereby prevent him from driving while intoxicated. He fails, and an annoyed and somewhat hurt Barney hands Homer the keys to get him to stop.
  • Space Ghost.
    • In "The Space Piranhas", Pirhanor takes out Space Ghost with a wrench to the back of the head.
    • "Space Sargasso". Jace knocks out the pirate One Eye with a wrench.
    • "The Time Machine". Tarko the 12th Century Viking hits Jace over the head with a shield and renders him unconscious.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: "The Nasty Patty" featured a health inspector getting knocked out in various ways over the course of the episode.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Cloak of Darkness", Commander Gree gets into a Gun Struggle with The Mole, which he wins by punching him out. Then, two seconds later, the prisoner knocks out Gree (who'd had his helmet knocked off earlier in the fight) from behind with a butt-stroke from a blaster rifle. (A butt-stroke is a hit with the back end of a rifle. Not what you think.)
  • Subverted in Steven Universe: Steven gets knocked unconscious several times without long-term consequences, but this turns out just to be because being a Half-Human Hybrid gives him some amount of Super-Toughness. Regular humans are shown to lack such durability: Lars being slammed against a stone pillar from the force of an explosion, then falling a good height, kills him instantly.
  • Stroker and Hoop has fun with this in one episode: The titular Stroker and Hoop knock out two guys to steal their clothes. One, though in pain, stays conscious and becomes despondent when he believes that Stroker had accidentally killed his friend with the blow to the head. After several moments of arguing ("Dammit, I know how to knock someone out!" "Well, do you check? Like, what if they have a concussion??"), the conscious man pretends to be unconscious just to avoid being hit again.
  • One episode of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron has Razor knocked out by Callie with a vase to the back of the head, even though he's wearing a helmet at the time.
  • Total Drama:
    • In "Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island", Chef heads out on the ATV to get the balloon back from Courtney. As he passes them in the woods, he asks Trent, Gwen, and Leshawna if they've seen a balloon fly by and informs them it matters because Courtney stole it. He continues to expound to Trent and Gwen that with the balloon Courtney is sure to win, which inspires Leshawna to grab a thick branch and knock Chef out from behind so she can take the ATV and even the odds with Courtney's balloon.
    • During breakfast in "Ocean's Eight - Or Nine", Owen and Leshawna are separated from their teams and taken away to be locked up in vaults as part of the day's challenge. Owen is merely tied up during the abduction, but Leshawna is knocked out offscreen and unconsciously dragged away.
    • The fourth victim of Chris's challenge collection drive in "Dial M For Merger" is Harold, who gets knocked out from behind with a baton while in the confessional.
    • After Vito has towed Scott to Mount Chrismore in "Grand Chef Auto", Scott no longer has use for him. He grabs a thick branch and knocks Vito from behind so he can tag the challenge's final landmark.
  • The Transformers: Humans and Transformers alike fall victim to this trope. Particularly Sir Wolfe after being whacked over the head with a stool by Nimue in A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court.
  • The Venture Bros. lampshades this phenomenon as well:
    Dragoon: What is this, an episode of Gilligan's Island? Everybody gets hit once and they are instantly unconscious?
    Red Mantle: Good one. Six bucks says he has amnesia when he wakes up.

    Real Life 
  • King Henry VIII of England's horse fell from under him in the tiltyard in January of 1536. Both the official chronicle and the private letters of the Imperial Ambassador (quite possibly Henry's most implacable enemy at the time) say he was miraculously not injured, yet a rumour arose on the continent that he was struck mute after the accident for two hours.note  This morphed in the 20th century into the supposition that he was struck unconscious for two hours, and has been used to support this very trope. There are even amateur historians who believe this "unconsciousness" was behind his descent into tyranny; the fact that he was a tyrant long before he ever fell from his horse (and long before he ever met Anne Boleyn) is usually waved away as irrelevant.
  • The first First Minister of Scotland, Donald Dewar, slipped on some ice and suffered what was described as a small knock on his head. He got up, seemed fine, but later that afternoon he had a massive cerebral haemorrhage and died the following morning.
  • Astronaut Alan Bean was struck in the head by a camera at the end of Apollo 12 when it was dislodged from stowage during splashdown of their command module, Yankee Clipper. If he lost consciousness, then it was a very brief blackout. But he did suffer a concussion, and required six stitches. The incident was depicted in Episode 7 of From the Earth to the Moon.
  • Natasha Richardson suffered a head injury while skiing; she was acting and talking normally afterwards but died two days later.
  • A rabbit punch is a blow to the back of the head or to the base of the skull that can cause serious injury. It is named for the method used to kill rabbits. This move is banned in combat sports for a reason.
  • The New Zealand company Goodnature makes animal traps that kill pests (rodents and possums) instantly by crushing their skulls with a CO2-powered piston.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Judo Chop, Knockout Punch


Nanao's "Innocent Color"

"Ceremony". Nanao Hibiya attacks a rampaging troll -- accidentally numbing her hands bashing it in the head with her blunted sword -- and the flow of her magic in her body bleaches her hair white. Oliver Horn explains in a voiceover that this is "Innocent Color", a rare trait that indicates a mage whose body has exceptional magical circulation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / PowerDyesYourHair

Media sources: