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The Worf Barrage
aka: Worf Barrage

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"Direct hit! ...No effect."
Worf, every other episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Much like The Worf Effect, The Worf Barrage is that attack that's supposedly all-powerful, ultra-destructive, and super-awesome, but in reality only serves as the "that" in No One Could Survive That!—because they just did.

This is the thing (usually the first attack after a monster crosses the Godzilla Threshold) that proves how resilient the Big Bad or Monster of the Week is. Almost always produces large amounts of smoke or debris, allowing the hero to think the enemy was killed, before his shielded silhouette starts to show through. At least you hope it's shielded...

The trope is essentially the contrapositive of The Worf Effect — that trope shows how powerful a new force is by its defeating the strongest cast member, while this trope shows how powerful a new force is by a cast member failing to defeat it. Might prompt a What the Hell Are You? moment. Compare with It Only Works Once, So Last Season, Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh..., and No-Sell. Contrast Unblockable Attack. If the attack wouldn't do anything to anybody, it's more likely to be a Fake Special Attack (whereas the Worf Barrage actually would be very powerful if not for some impressive ability of the target to resist damage). Often followed by a retaliatory No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Curb-Stomp Battle, Megaton Punch, or a Finger Poke of Doom, depending on the setting. Tanks for Nothing is when military firepower is used to invoke this trope. If the Worf Barrage uses a diverse slate of weapons to demonstrate something or someone is immune to all of them, that is an Indestructibility Montage. If this trope happens with an Immortal Breaker, you have a serious problem.

Now, bring out all the examples! ALL OF THEM!

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Satellite Orbital Weapon in AKIRA, while working pretty well on any non-psychics, becomes this when used on Tetsuo. It destroys his arm on its first hit, but succeeds only at making him angry thereafter. In the manga, keeping it from being fired again and pissing him off further is a bit of a plot point and eventually it does manages to piss him off enough that he goes and knocks it out of the sky before going One-Winged Angel again.
    • Before that, Tetsuo stops a direct hit from a tank shell fired at him. This is all the evidence needed for the rioters to start following him as "Akira."
  • The Big O's title mecha has an ultimate beam cannon mode that was used against Big Fau. After the dust settles, Big Fau is still standing with only a piece of his gut missing. With the cannon's one shot depleted, Big O is in for a world of hurt until Deus ex Machina Big Venus shows up to reboot the universe.
  • Bleach:
    • Uryuu's "Lichtregen" tends to be used to show how powerful an enemy is, so often isn't as effective as a rain of 1200 arrows hitting a single target really should be. Lampshaded in the final arc, when Ichigo tells Quilge his arrows are stronger than Uryuu's. Quilge declares that's impossible. He refuses to explain why, stating he's not allowed to reveal secrets. However, he does comment that he needs to report Ichigo's information Yhwach as soon as possible.
    • Ichigo performed a level of hyperspeed combat against Byakuya that he has never again used. Against Byakuya, the speed and strength of his attacks were so great his own bones were shattering from the stress of trying to handle his own power. He's never had the bone-shattering problem since, but his fighting level doesn't peak like that either.
    • A very rare inversion occurs during the Masked de Luchadore/Renji fight which very deliberately turns the concept of hero and villain on its head. Masked believes he's the hero of the tale so Renji makes a choice to play the villain's part. As a result, when Masked — who had already curbstomped lieutenant level shinigami and two bankai-wielding captains — unleashes his power on Renji, it doesn't even slow Renji down, effectively demonstrating Renji's new level of power.
  • Are you a goalkeeper in Captain Tsubasa? And was your name revealed to the audience? You'll suffer this constantly, honey, you're done. One exception is Wakabayashi Genzo, who inverts the role by catching everything thrown by top players of the previous arc during the test match between Japan Youth Jr. and Hamburger SV.
  • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, after Misaka tries every technique she can to no avail, she launches her signature railgun which at this point has been shown to be able to destroy most anything. It flies harmlessly off Accelerator. Accelerator himself is at first unaware that was her strongest move.
  • Code Geass has a terrorist cell try to shoot down the Avalon with SAMs. At first, this trope appears to have been averted, when the Avalon re-appears on the radar thanks to its Blaze Luminous energy shields.
  • Dead Leaves: After Sarge is killed, the escaped clones fire back at Triple-6 and Triple-7 with everything they have, blowing a giant chunk out of the train car. The twins are completely unharmed and absolutely slaughter everyone save for Retro, Pandy, Chinko and Dr. Yabu.
    Triple-6: I told you you were all gonna die! I wouldn't even use those crappy bullets to scratch my ass!
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Giyu's own creation, the 11th Water Breathing form: Dead Calm is introduced as an ultimate defense to counterattack measure capable of completely negating even a strong demon part of the Lower Rank's strongest attack with much ease, as it was shown against Rui; come the Infinite Castle arc, where Giyu has grown a lot stronger thanks to the Hashira Training and later awakening his Mark, and the best way to show Upper Rank 3 Akaza's ultimate technique: Blue Silver Chaotic Afterglow is extremely strong is to bypass Giyu's Dead Calm.
  • Digimon Frontier: The heroes use a combined attack to try to take out Duskmon. It doesn't even scratch him. Later, they attack Lucemon Satan Mode with several different attacks, but it fails for a different reason.
  • Occurs a couple of times in the Dragon Ball, the original series:
    • The Kamehameha, initially hyped up as one of the most powerful Ki Attacks in the series, gets hit with this over time. Tien Shinhan is able to deflect it with a kiai, Mercenary Tao suffers nothing but Clothing Damage from a direct hit, and King Piccolo doesn't even suffer that much after taking it head-on.
    • Mercenary Tao's Super Dodon Wave, a stronger Wave-Motion Gun version of the Dodon Ray, never once successfully deals damage to anyone. Granted, it was used only once in the manga, but even then was blocked by a simple kiai.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • The Genki Dama, or Spirit Bomb, is a last-ditch attack with such a laundry list of things to watch out for that it's most certainly a Godzilla Threshold to use. However, in the series, it only succeeds in killing the bad guy a grand total of once - Goku lost a lot of the Spirit Bomb's power thanks to Vegeta attacking him while charging, Frieza was still too powerful even after using various sources to charge it up, Goku gets lucky with Kid Buu due to the fact they had a way to give Goku enough energy to finish the job and Jiren effortlessly reflects the bomb back to him. In the Non-Serial Movies, Goku's track record for it is a lot better.
    • Most characters, usually Vegeta, employ a Beam Spam at least once per battle, and it usually doesn't do anything more than create a lot of dust. Interestingly in the Dragon Ball Z movies, the Beam Spam is depicted to at least be effective as they have caused some damage to characters rather than be used as a sign of desperation. The only time a Beam Spam can really be said to have accomplished something important was in the sixth movie, when Vegeta interrupts Metal Cooler's regeneration with one — and that one turned out to be an avatar of the real Cooler, who promptly spawned several hundred more.
    • Several villains face conventional militaries who throw everything they have at them, and then some. And the villain is hardly affected by it and goes on to quickly wipe out the opposite side. The Saiyans and Cell both did this, and Majin Buu did it several times.
    • Vegeta's Final Flash doesn't accomplish very much over the course of the series despite it being ridiculously powerful. The closest it comes is giving Cell a scare — Cell admits that had he not sidestepped it at the last second, it would have been powerful enough to kill him.
    • Krillin's Kienzan/Destructo Disk is pretty damn powerful, and most of its targets actually have an Oh, Crap! reaction before they dodge it. But they always dodge it, probably because Krillin has a tendency to loudly shout its name when he launches it. Even when he's trying to ambush someone. The closest it comes to showing its worth is when it slices Frieza in half — and that wasn't Krillin, but Frieza himself copying Krillin's move and having it backfire on him.
    • The Kaio-ken was introduced as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, but it stopped being effective over time, especially once the top fighters achieved Super Saiyan-hood. That is, until they learned how to combine the upper Super Saiyan levels with the Kaio-kken.
    • The Kamehameha Wave is Goku's Signature Move, and even that doesn't always hit right. For instance, when Cooler ascends to a higher form, he just flies through it. The only reason the move does work as often as it does is that it belongs to the protagonist; every other character's signature move (Final Flash, Destructo-Disk, Hellzone Grenade, Tri-Beam, etc.) just serves to delay the enemy for a bit.
    • Vegeta calls out Trunks for trying to Worf Barrage the androids (and nearly killing the rest of the Z Warriors due to their close proximity to his attack). Trunks even quotes the common response of those launching a Worf Barrage.
      Vegeta: Bad move! Why'd you go and do that for?
      Trunks: What's wrong?
      Vegeta: Well, look, down there.
      Trunks: I don't understand; there's no way anyone could survive that! That was my most intense blast!
      Vegeta: Looks like you spoke too soon. Now that's too bad; by doing that, you just showed them how weak you are!
  • Dragon Ball GT:
    • The Universal Spirit Bomb just did what it supposed to do, blowing up Omega Shenron without much of a struggle. Both instances of the attack actually working were on creatures actually Made of Evil, and since it was supposedly created for destroying evil, it might just be kind of... literal.
    • Vegeta decides to debut his brand new finishing move, the Final Shine Attack. Unfortunately, he tried it against Super 17, who can absorb energy.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The Etherion cannon, which is actually used to help the villain's plans, as it powers the magic used to revive a dark god thanks to the tower it was fired at being designed to absorb magical energy. In fact, the villain's entire plan hedged on the Etherion cannon being fired at him, since it was the fastest way he could collect the necessary magic energy.
    • In the next arc, when Natsu and Gajeel team up and use their biggest attacks (ending with Fire/Iron Dragon Roars from both of them), Laxus shrugs off the attacks, which ended an arc two arcs ago, and uses his own Dragon Roar, which blows them both away.
    • A notable aversion for a Shonen is Natsu's Guren Bakuenjin (Crimson-Lotus Exploding Flame Blade), which he always saves as his Finishing Move for whatever Big Bad he fights and it never fails. The only times it was proven ineffective was against Gildarts, which is justified because it's Gildarts, and against Master Zero, who countered it with his own ultimate Finishing Move. That just prompted Natsu to use another Finishing Move to pull out the win.
    • Justified with Abyss Break, which is implied to be strong enough destroy a whole city or an entire massive tower, but was interrupted twice before it could be activated.
    • Before the Etherion cannon was introduced, there was the Magical Convergent Cannon, or the Jupiter Cannon. Erza Scarlet, although it broke through her strongest armor and blasted her down, BLOCKED the shot completely, despite everyone claiming she was just throwing her life away doing so and it would be powerful enough to destroy at least the guild hall, if not a good chunk of the city.
    • Acnologia pulls this off on the entire main cast when he first shows up. A Combined Energy Attack from most of Fairy Tail's best followed up by a triple Dragon Roar from Natsu, Gajeel and Wendy (an attack that the previous Arc Villain King Faust in his Humongous Mecha decided to outright dodge rather than tank) only knocks him into the ocean. Then Gildarts drops the bombshell that Acnologia isn't even using half the power he unleashed on himself during their brief clash and that he's Just Toying with Them. Almost immediately after that declaration, Acnologia emerges without a scratch, powers up his own Dragon Roar, and blasts the entire island off the map that the heroes only survive thanks to a special defensive magic spell.
    • Both times Sting and Rogue use Divine-Shadow Dragon Light Fang, it's trumped to show just how much stronger their foe is. Against Natsu in the Grand Magic Games, he simply uses Crimson Lotus Exploding Flame Blade to plow through it and finish them off, not even resorting to his Lightning-Flame Dragon Mode. Against Mard Geer, he simply holds out his bare hands and negates it without any injury whatsoever, and like Natsu before him he's only using his base form with resorting to his One-Winged Angel.
    • Acnologia does this again several times in the Final Battle of the series as he (in his human form) faces off against all the Dragon Slayers (Natsu, Wendy, Gajeel, Laxus, Sting, Rogue, and Cobra). They repeatedly throw their strongest attacks at him, including several otherwise devastating Combination Attacks, and he more or less shrugs all of them off. He's only defeated when Wendy empowers Natsu with the rest of the Dragon Slayers' abilities while Acnologia himself is paralyzed thanks to the efforts of Lucy and the rest of the cast, allowing Natsu to successfully deliver a massive Megaton Punch and destroy Acnologia once and for all.
  • Gundam has done this many times.
    • Early episodes where we see weaker mooks like Zakus or Leos attack the brand-spanking new Gundam, only for their machine gun fire to bounce harmlessly off its body.
    • At the end of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, the battleships Eternal and Kusanagi race in to attempt to destroy the superweapon GENESIS. They fire all of their weapons, even the powerful Lohengrin cannon... only to find out it does squat: it has so much power allocated to the Phase Shift armor, it can effectively tank it. Phase Shift armor normally doesn't even work against beam weapons, but when it's thick enough and fed enough power, it does. GENESIS is gigantic even by Gundam superweapon standards, and has a near-limitless power supply.
      • Shinn's favored technique of charging dead on with his anti ship sword, while initially extremely effective against Kira the first time, Athrun the first time and the many Destroy Gundams, fails in Shinn's rematches against both Kira (he blade catches it and disarms him) and Athrun (he counter charges and cuts the sword in half).
    • In Shiro's battle against Norris Packard in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, he at one point opens fire with every single weapon on his Gundam at once... which completely miss Packard, who dodges it all by standing still. Firing that many automatic weapons at once, especially while moving at the speed he was, means accuracy essentially doesn't exist.
      Packard: Well, that looked impressive...
  • Hellsing: For most people who go up against Alucard, nothing they are able to throw at him is enough to put him down because of his absurdly powerful Healing Factor. And when he starts releasing his Control Art Restrictions, even many vampires are unable to survive Alucard's counterattacks.
  • Following Captain Tsubasa, Inazuma Eleven is even moreso at using this trope, especially the third season, where special shots and blocks rarely work past 4-5 times without getting evolved or replaced with another and more destructive skill.
  • Inuyasha:
    • The Wind Scar. It has no trouble defeating lesser demons, but if you want to show how awesome the Monster of the Week is, that's the attack of choice to have it shrug off. It especially fulfilled this trope once it got a stronger counterpart. It really started to look weak when Inuyasha actually got the ability to use it whenever he wanted. Since this would make things too easy, it proves useless against Naraku.
    • Later, he gains an extra strong cutting attack, which works for a while but then Naraku and a flunky of his can block along with this rarely used move called the Backlash Wave (which was stronger then Wind Scar, but didn't get nearly as much use because involved throwing a villain's energy attack back at them).
    • Later he gets the ability fire out diamonds, which proves useless against Moryumaru, along with everybody else' attacks.
    • The only moves he got that never got useless was the dragon-scaled Tessaiga and Meido Zangetsuha, but the last one doesn't count since it was only showcased at the climax of of the series.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Kakyoin's "Emerald Splash" attack takes this role. It is supposedly an extremely powerful attack, but Kakyoin never manages to use it to simply successfully attack an opponent. In his fight against Jotaro, Star Platinum is strong enough to block it with his arms. Tower of Gray is fast enough to dodge it (although Kakyoin does use this to bait his opponent into a trap). And DIO can stop time to dodge the attack before killing Kakyoin. There are only two times where the attack successfully hits its target, and neither of them are an enemy: one is when he fires it at his friend Polnareff to knock him out of the way of an enemy's attack, and the other is when he shoots a clock tower as a Dying Clue which allows his allies to deduce that DIO's power is to stop time.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Inverted when Nanoha effortlessly shrugs off one of her enemies huge attacks at least once per season, with accompanying Smoke Shield or Out of the Inferno effect. Two straight usages can be found in the second season though, where a Mysterious Protector and an Implacable Man each take one of Nanoha's newly introduced Busters and appear out of the Smoke Shield without any visible damage.
    • Dieci's cannon shots are supposedly S-rank in power, but Nanoha blocks one while protecting the helicopter and shoots through another to defeat Dieci. It's also implied that Vivio could survive a hit without any effort at all.* And Nanoha was under a Power Limiter the first time.
  • In Episode 42 of Magic Knight Rayearth, Autozam's battleship NSX attempts to drive off Fahren's Giant Sang-Yung illusion through the use of Macross Missile Massacres, Beam Spam, More Dakka, and the ship's two Laguna cannons. Unfortunately for the NSX, the assault fell squarely into this trope.
  • The super-awesome fleet-destroying gravity-based Wave-Motion Gun in Martian Successor Nadesico pretty much stops working on anything worthwhile around Episode 6, apparently just to increase dramatic tension. They eventually get a new one, but ethical considerations (and an instance of sabotage) prevent them from using it on anything more than swarms of robots. If the enemies send out manned vehicles, it's time to send out the Humongous Mecha.
  • Inverted in My-HiME, when a hero proved amazingly resistant to a villain's power. Mai's Child, Kagutsuchi, took a full blast of orbital bombardment from Artemis and survived, combining this with a subversion of Heroic Sacrifice. The blast was previously seen destroying a bridge, and was supposed to eliminate the entirety of Fuka Academy at once. There is a fan theory, however, that both it and Mai did not survive, and the Powers That Be (both good and evil) were stacking the deck in her favor and resurrected both of them. Given the ending, this is plausible.
  • My-Otome Zwei:
    • Neither Mai's ultra-cool attack capable of destroying hundreds of Slaves at once (prominently shown in the opening credits since episode 16 of the original show) nor Arika's "Bolt from the Blue" work on the very first monster that threatens them — and the other Otome monitoring the event just give up. If even that failed, what chance do the rest of them have? Obviously, the Sorting Algorithm of Evil has come to play, but it's not a So Last Season moment because neither of them receives a power-up — instead, they win by combining their attacks.
    • In the last episode, Arika and Nina have to combine their attacks to take down the main villain within the window in which its Healing Factor is disabled.
  • Naruto:
    • Fire Style, up to and including Amaterasu and its derivates, was the only basic nature that didn't get at least one win across the whole manga. Every time those techniques are used on summons, clones, weapons, etc, they burn them to ash. When they are used against actual people, they always fail, sometimes hilariously. The only time anyone was ever seriously hurt by fire was when the Raikage did it to himself to attack Sasuke and that didn't slow him down that much anyway.
    • Sasuke has consistently failed to kill anyone outright with the Chidori, a move that is said to be a one hit kill assassination technique. Kakashi, the inventor of the technique who taught it to Sasuke, only killed two people with it during the main story and that was because one jumped in front of him and the other was already on the ground, defeated. Against redshirts, however, the Chidori averts this.
  • Setsuna's Artifact in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. To sum things up for those not in the know, Artifacts in Negima are items of great power given to a mage's partner, and seeing one get pulled out is always a cause of alarm for everyone. Now, let's analyze the times Setsuna's artifact, a set of flying knives, was used in battle. She attempted to use it to trap the Mahora Festival Story Arc Big Bad... and failed since the Big Bad could teleport. She used them to block the attacks of a senior Shinmeiryuu Swordswoman... whereupon they shattered. She used them to attack Fate... and failed to do any damage. Negi used them to threaten Jack Rakan... who simply grabbed them with his teeth and spat them away to the side. Hopefully, she'll have better luck with the new artifact she got from her second Pactio Partner, Konoka in Chapter 252.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • When the military uses its "colossally powerful" N2 mines/bombs on the Angels, they (at very, very best) succeed in inflicting 30% to critical damage, giving the resident Humongous Mecha an opportunity to display their capacity for badassness. Also, in the second episode, the Monster of the Week utilises a last-ditch suicide explosion, taking a large chuck of the city and (after the Smoke Shield clears) lightly damaging the armor of the Humongous Mecha.
    • When Shinji opens fire on Shamshel (with an assault rifle in the series and a Gatling gun in Rebuild) and fails to scratch 'er. Or when, in Rebuild, Ramiel takes a direct hit from a gun powered by the entire power grid of Japan, bleeds profusely, then turns around and burns through a mountain to get at Shinji. Or when...
    • Pretty much every time Asuka sorties Unit 02 against an Angel without immediate support (except her debut), especially in "Both of You, Dance Like You Want To Win". Discussed in the manga, where it contributes to her issues with depression.
  • One Piece:
    • Despite being the fandom's favorite attack, Luffy's Gomu Gomu no Gattling seems to mainly be good for dispatching mooks. When used on a main villain, they'll either shrug it off, negate it through Logia abilities, or dodge it and remark how Luffy "didn't grow any extra arms". It's even been blocked by Usopp. Even variants of the technique such as Storm and Jet Gattling start to become degraded.
    • Zoro's Shishi Sonson, a technique supposedly capable of cutting steel that enables him to defeat Mr. 1 in one hit, fails to make any impact on Kuma, presumably because he is a Cyborg made of metal even stronger than steel. This trope is lampshaded in the battle with Mihawk, as Johnny and Yosaku note that Mihawk is the first one to block Zoro's sword techniques, and with a knife at that.
    • One of Eneru's strongest attacks, MAX 200,000,000 Volt Vari, capable of reducing any living being to a smoldering crisp, is used against Luffy. Because of his Gomu Gomu no Mi abilities, he doesn't even feel the attack.
    • Following the Time Skip, both Vergo and Pica of the Don Quixote Pirates coat their entire bodies in Haki so they can crush their opponents. Instead, they both get taken down in one shot.
    • Full powered King Punch supposedly can annihilate entire fortress in one blow, but didn't make even a scratch on Bartolomeo's barrier.
    • Conqueror's Haki is supposed to be the rarest Haki that appears one-in-a-million. Despite supposedly indicating qualities of a king its main purpose to knock out numerous mooks. While still relatively impressive, most major characters have strong enough willpower to shrug it off. Except Big Mom's. Her Haki is so strong that whenever she releases it, her Three Sweet Commandersnote , as well as some of the powerful people in the room, fainted at the full uncontrollable blast. Her Haki also acts as a deflector, successfully blocking Bege's poison darts (and nearly taking out the damn team itself).
    • To remind us both of the receiver's apparent invulnerability and the fact Luffy is still far from being the strongest thing in the Grand Line, we get Luffy's encounter with Kaido. The former unleashes a gigantic barrage of Gear Fourth punches that would've given grief to almost anything and anyone Luffy has fought, straight at the head of his completely sloshed opponent, with every hit striking true. The latter just sobers up, annoyed, without even a scratch. And takes out his headache on Luffy, utterly wrecking him in one swing of his mace.
  • One-Punch Man: Lord Boros shows two of these during his fight with Saitama: His Meteoric Burst and his Collapsing Star Roaring Cannon. The Meteoric Burst is a Self-Empowering Dangerous Forbidden Technique much like Goku's Kaioken, while the Collapsing Star Roaring Cannon is a planet-busting beam fired while in the previous form. Of course, this being Saitama, neither manages to do any harm to him (even when he uses the power of the Meteoric Burst to knock Saitama to the moon), and in fact he splits the CSRC with a "Serious Series" Punch, which Boros claims wasn't even a fraction of his true strength.
    • Saitama was on the other end of this against Boros the first time he hit him, as Boros was the first opponent he'd fought that could keep going after one punch. Downplayed, since each attack still did considerable damage to him, just not enough to finish him off.
    • Earlier in the series Genos (who was most often subjected to The Worf Effect), after launching unsuccessful attack at Carnage Kabuto, tries to blast him with enormous beam of fire. In response, Kabuto just exhales, blowing the fire back.
  • Played for laughs in Outlaw Star. Gene occasionally uses various increasingly powerful weapons, culminating in Gene whipping out a bazooka. Of course, the blast doesn't work, leaving Gene (and sometimes Jim), with their jaws dropped.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Smile Pretty Cure! was actually quite infamous with its use of the Worf Barrage, as the second their old attacks don't work, they immediately get new ones to compensate that.
    • Combining The Worf Effect with the Worf Barrage, we got HeartCatch Pretty Cure!'s first meeting between Cure Blossom and Marine with the Dark Precure. At the time, the two's ultimate attack was the Floral Power Fortissimo, which was a tag team attack. When the Dark Precure showed up and the girls haul it out, not only does she reveal that she can do it, too, she can do it solo, can counter the girls' and during their Beam-O-War, she brings out a new attack to put them on their backsides.
  • In the first of Puella Magi Madoka Magica's Wham Episodes, Mami unloads her Finishing Move, the Tiro Finale, upon Charlotte, the witch she is fighting. The only thing it ends up doing is making Charlotte go One-Winged Angel before eating her alive in one of the anime's most horrifying scenes.
  • In Ranma ½, Ranma goes to great trouble to get Prince Herb angry enough so she can use the "ultimate technique" Hiryu Shoten Ha. She succeeds... but Herb had already seen that technique in the past and descends with a gigantic counterattack of his own, completely unscathed. The look of sheer disbelief and incomprehension on Ranma's face when she sees Herb come down says it all. But Ranma uses a variation of the move to eventually defeat Herb, and in later arcs he still can use it to some success (it helps that the series tends to emphasize the comedy part of action-comedy, so most antagonists don't need to be tougher and scarier than the last guy, just funny).
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: In the early battles, the Sword, Spear and Bow Heroes would often spam the Meteor Skills of their weapons, which are allegedly their strongest attacks. If they all fire it at a single target at once, chances are the enemy will No-Sell it to prove how powerful it is.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Aoshi's Kaiten Kenbu Rokuren. Supposedly the Ougi of his fighting style, and practically unblockable, it only connects with three things in the series: Okina, a bookshelf, and a tree. Kenshin counters it, Shishio counters it, Wu Heishin's Elite Mook, of all people, counters it, and Okina... well, something. Kenshin's own Kuzu Ryu Sen may count as well, since nearly all his opponents are either fast enough to dodge or block it (Both of which are supposed to be nearly impossible) or tough enough to No-Sell it.
    • Sanosuke's Futae no Kiwami is powerful enough to blow apart a jail cell door and is supposed to be an ultimate fight-ending technique that shatters the bones of anyone it is used on. The very first fight in which he uses it, both he and his opponent shrug off dozens of themnote . Every other opponent he attempts it on is either fast enough to dodge it or so crazy resilient that he breaks his hand without inflicting the tiniest bit of damage.
    • Kenshin's penultimate move, the Kuzu Ryu Sen has a tendency to be tanked or blocked by opponents. Shishio endures it with barely a lasting scratch and Enishi blocks it with his own attack. Usually when an opponent needs to demonstrate how good they are, this is the move they take on.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Moon was initially shocked that her Moon Tiara Action didn't work against Jadeite. This was plausible. However, when the Mystical Silver Crystal keeps deciding that it's not going to be all-powerful today for the next four seasons, one would think that she would have another back-up plan ready. Then again, she is The Ditz.
    • In Sailor Stars, Sailor Moon is shocked that her Silver Moon Crystal Power fails to do anything to Galaxia. Later, she utters "Silver Moon Crystal Power!" which seems to affect Galaxia before being broken.
  • In Saint Seiya, the signature moves of the saints usually won't prove effective against the powerful monster of the week. It's justified for Seiya in particular. His Pegasus Ryuusei Ken isn't so much a powerful blow as throwing more punches in an instant, so any enemy tough enough to No-Sell the first has a head start on withstanding them all... and many Saints have enough Super-Speed to dodge or block the whole barrage. The move could almost have been designed for this trope, in case Rule of Drama wasn't enough.
  • The supposedly almighty Dragon Slave spell in Slayers often works like this, often being used only to show that the new villain is just badass enough to withstand it.
    • The novels make it clearer when they explain that while the Dragon Slave is powerful enough to hurt anything short of Ruby-Eye, it is not necessarily powerful enough to kill anything in one shot. Since humans are squishier than Mazoku, Lina and Co are less likely to be able to withstand the return blow of anything that can survive a single Dragon Slave.
    • The Ra Tilt spell seems to fall into this same problem. The Ra Tilt is the most powerful spell in Shamanistic magic and is supposed to be comparable to the Dragon Slave but on a single-target basis. However, especially during Slayers NEXT, any number of powerful monsters and villains shrug off Ra Tilts like they're nothing, to the point where the viewer starts to question if the Ra Tilt is really all that powerful.
      • This suspicion is essentially confirmed in Slayers REVOLUTION where the Ra Tilt seems to have been reduced in difficulty of casting and potency to the level of the many other perpetually ineffective spells the cast tossed around before Lina decides to get serious and then fail anyway.
  • Soul Eater has Maka's Witch Hunter. Despite being known as the legendary technique of the Scythe Meister, she doesn't manage to defeat a single enemy with it.
  • Space Battleship Yamato has the Argo/Yamato run into this problem a couple of times. The Comet Empire citadel is able to stand up to an entire fleet of ships with planet busting super weapons, forcing the Star Force to be more clever. The same Comet Empire citadel, once its invulnerability shield is neutralized, is blasted into fiery destruction by the Argo. Cue celebration by the crew who think they've defeated the enemy at last. Until.. from out of the wreckage it's revealed that the comet was a shell around a supermassive, ultrapowerful ship.
  • The various Beam Spams and Macross Missile Massacres in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. This has more to do with Attenborough's tendency to outright miss than any lack of power, though.
    • Point-blank is his specialty. He actually managed to finish off Adiane that way.
      • Point-blank is still his specialty when "point-blank" is measured in thousands of lightyears. Never mind, though; they eventually resort to using probability manipulation so his missing becomes literally impossible.
    • Happens in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann all the time, almost to the point of making this trope discredited all by itself. Seriously, you guys saw Simon not only survive devastating attacks, but also lay down serious ass-beatings in return, so you'd think that his teammates would show a little more faith in his durability.
    • In the first movie this happens when Guame, Adiane, and Viral combine their mecha to form the Perfect Fortress Do-Ten-Kai-Zan, launching a barrage on the hero team of seemingly nuclear proportions, to no effect.
    • Whenever Viral attacks with a set of katana in his Enki (or in the titular Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), they will be broken within 30 seconds. No exceptions.
    • Giga Drill Breaker, Simon's Finishing Move, only works a handful of the numerous times it's used. After its initial introduction, it's only ever used to either dispatch enemies offscreen or as a means to show that a villain is so powerful that they can withstand it.
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 made a point early on of establishing Cure Rouge and Cure Aqua as being a particularly tough duo. The reason for this seems to have been to allow the writers to easily create Oh, Crap! moments by showing Rouge Fire (or Rouge Burning or Fire Strike), Aqua Stream (or Aqua Tornado or Sapphire Arrow), or the combination thereof failing to do anything to the enemy.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Seto Kaiba's Deck Destruction Virus of Death/Crush Card Virus, an incredibly strong card (for point of reference, the real-life version of the card, despite being severely weakened, is one of the few to be outright errataed specifically to weaken it further). Its effect (when a weak Dark monster is destroyed, your opponent loses all cards from their hand, field, and Deck with more than 1500 ATK and can't Summon them back) should be enough to win him any Duel... but with depressing regularity, that isn't what happens. In almost every appearance, it either gets destroyed before it can activate, gets reversed or nullified by an opponent's card, or sees his opponent play around it well enough to stay in the game far longer than anticipated, if not outright beating him.
    • Jounouchi's Flame Swordsman, which he acknowledges as his favorite card, has an uncanny tendency to get destroyed. Despite using it throughout Duelist Kingdom, there's only two Duels in the series where Flame Swordsman makes it all the way to the last turn, and both of them were in a filler arc. Most of the time, it goes down within a few turns, typically due to opponents exploiting Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. His Time Wizard, similarly, backfires or gets nullified no less than four times, usually to show off how the opponent can effortlessly stop it. Fortunately for Jounouchi, the Red-Eyes Black Dragon has a much better batting average.
    • Yugi has Chimera, the Flying Mythical Beast, which he usually plays early and which seems borderline incapable of getting a hit in or surviving the next turn. Usually, it either makes one attack that does minimal damage and then gets killed, or it gets locked down mid-battle and does nothing for the rest of the duel. It's particularly obvious, given its frightening design and easy summon condition, why this is the case — it's just strong enough to be somewhat impressive, and weak enough that any moderately powerful card can take it out easily.
    • Mirror Force is a powerful Trap Card that wipes out every Attack Position monster the opponent controls when any monster of theirs declares an attack. It's a card that can singlehandedly turn the tide of battle, but after its initial appearance against Weevil, it usually gets destroyed before its user can activate it, negated, or the attacking monster has a protection effect against it, with the only exceptions being Yugi's Duel against Pegasus or the manga version of the Ceremonial Duel. A particularly memorable instance of this is when Kaiba summons his Egyptian God Card, Obelisk the Tormentor, and activates its One-Hit Kill effect. One of the Rare Hunters activates Mirror Force, only for him to smugly declare, "I'm afraid your weak Trap Card won't work." Incidentally, this trope also applies to Mirror Force's real-life usage in the TCG, even before Power Creep. While it could be devastating to newer players, expert players would anticipate it and thus, in most situations, not attack with a bunch of Attack Position monsters on the field without some sort of countermeasure.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the "Ultimate D" (hush) combo, consisting of Destiny HERO Plasma/Bloo-D and D — Force. When fully in place, Plasma negates all opposing monster effects on the field and all targeting Spells and Traps, and can absorb an opposing monster to gain sizeable stats, resulting in a lock noted to be insanely powerful (so much so, that the side effect of losing the Draw Phase isn't considered a big deal). Naturally, this means that every onscreen use of the combo after its initial appearance ends in its user being defeated — either through exploiting the weaknesses of D — Force, or simply bringing out something strong enough to overpower Plasma.
  • Hiei's Dragon of the Darkness Flame in YuYu Hakusho is supposed to incinerate anything caught in its path, but after its first use, it becomes ineffective against anyone stronger than a Mook.
  • A textbook example occurs in the second last episode of Zoids: New Century. The Berserk Fury survives a Worf Barrage from not just one but three charged particle cannons simultaneously with its E-shield, and then proceeds to effortlessly blow away the three Geno Saurers responsibe with a charged particle beam of its own.

    Comic Books 
  • The Inhumans: Blackbolt has two special moves. The first is his voice which is normally treated with a great deal of respect which has allowed him to take down foes like the Hulk and even killed an alternate reality version of Apocalypse. His second is the Master Blow, which consists of all of his energy channeled into a single punch. For some reason, this Master Blow seems about as powerful as his normal punches (he has Super-Strength), which makes it redundant. On top of that, it leaves him drained and weak. This is probably why most writers ignore that particular ability.
  • Preacher: The Saint of Killers shrugs off pretty much everything without even flinching, up to and including a nuclear warhead.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In the classic story Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!, Spidey tries increasingly destructive methods to stagger the unstoppable X-Men foe, culminating with blowing up a tanker truck of gasoline. Juggernaut is unharmed, and now on fire.
    • In Go Down Swinging, a coalition of Spidey's allies team up to battle the Red Goblin — Norman Osborn armed with the Carnage symbiote — when the web-slinger is taken out of action by him. Both the Human Torch and Clash, armed with a symbiote's typical weakness to fire and sound, are unable to faze him and Miles Morales' infamous Venom blasts, infamous for taking down even the toughest opponents (up to and including the demon Blackheart), barely do anything to him. The only one to even harm him is Agent Anti-Venom's touch and he's forced to break off to use that touch to save everyone from dying at Osborn's hands.
    • Speaking of Miles, his venom blast has increasingly been subject to this. In stories past, this would be the young Spider-Man's finishing move to overcome giants and demons. Since Saladin Ahmed took over as Miles' primary writer, more characters have been able to simply shrug it off on account of just happening to wear insulated suits or having the right dose of super serum. Even Ultimate Green Goblin seems to have developed an immunity to it; while Miles has no memory of this, the last time they fought, the Venom Blast was the Kryptonite Factor that brought Osborn down.
  • Superman:
    • The Death of Superman: At one point the entire Justice League hits Doomsday with their combined powers (Superman with his heat vision, Booster Gold with his hand blasts, Fire with her flame, Bloodwynd with his eye-beam, Guy Gardner with his yellow power ring, etc.), and when they're all finally drained and stop and the smoke clears, we see that the total amount of damage Doomsday endured was distributed entirely throughout his restrictive suit, which was now unrestricting him. He hadn't even been knocked down.
    • Darkseid blasted Doomsday with a "full power" Omega Beam, which is capable of outright obliterating all but the most powerful of beings. It knocked him back and caused a mountain to fall on him. Doomsday simply pushed it off of him, stood up, and KO'd Darkseid with a single punch.
    • Two for the Death of One: During the final battle between Syrene and Satanis, the former — who has just gained untold magic powers — blows up one planet and hurls the resulting debris at Satanis. Though, Satanis takes over Superman's invulnerable body and tanks the meteor storm.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ultraman Moedari, in the plain of the combined magniverses, Lunaram kicks Moedari with 'an entire moon, causing a nuclear plasma ball of fire which destroys everything for a gigantic distance at a molecular level. His connection to Jake causes him to get up more powerful.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Jack, immensely powerful in her introduction, lets loose a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on someone attempting to kidnap her students. It doesn't work, turning her attack into this trope.
  • In a rare heroic example, in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World Oricum the wizard hits Nigh-Invulnerable Paul twice in rapid succession with enormous bolts of lightning, scorching the ground and creating a small glassy crater... and, after his eyes adjust from the flash, he discovers that all he succeeded in doing is intoxicating Paul and giving him an orgasm (and, later, triggering in him the ability to see magic and power).
  • Happens to Lancer, of course, in Fate Genesis when he gets so pissed fighting Sonic the Hedgehog that he uses Gae Bolg on him, only for him, Saber and Rin to stare flabbergasted as instead of a hedgehog shish-kebab, Sonic's Power Rings save him and they get scattered like he hit the usually one-hit-kill spikes from his series. Notably, Sonic still feels the pain of being hit, which clues Lancer in that repeated uses will probably do the job, but Sonic yanks Gae Bolg out of his hands to stop the second try, and their later confrontations have Sonic doing everything he can to keep Lancer from trying that strategy out.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Snivy's Attract has a tendency to be negated or otherwise be useless against her opponents. Examples of this include when Ash captures her, using Pidgeotto (who is female), later against Solidad's Slowbro (who has the ability Oblivious), and Paul's Torterra (who uses Stealth Rock to block it). However, it finally succeeds during Ash's final gym battle, managing to pull it off against Giovanni's Rhyperior.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Itsuka lines up the perfect hit during the Heroes vs. Villain's exercise after her opponent leaves himself open as part of his villainous courtesy. Unfortunately, said opponent is Izuku, who doesn't budge an inch.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, a space warship deploys its full arsenal against Satan Girl. Barrages of missiles, giant laser cannons... and they fail to even scratch her.
  • In Here There Be Monsters, the combined firepower of two armies cannot even scratch Shazam!'s enemies Mister Atom and Red Crusher.
    The general used the bullhorn once again. "Commence firing!"
    The Canadians and Americans didn't need a second prompting. Tank turrets unleashed explosive shells at the pair. Bazookamen fired rockets. Cannons blasted away at the twosome, and regular soldiers opened up with what appeared to be a solid wall of bullets. The only thing in their favor was the size of their targets; practically none of them missed.
    The bullets rebounded. The shells exploded without much effect. The rockets' red glare fizzled into ineffectiveness.
    A few of the soldiers had seen the movie, War of the Worlds, a year ago. Those who had flashed on some of the scenes in it, and grew cold, internally.
  • In Chapter 29 of BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant, Cinder, who has the full power of the Fall Maiden at this point, fires almost everything she has on Nu-13 during their fight. While Nu appears physically damaged, she doesn't seem the least bit phased and easily undoes all the damage Cinder inflicted in an instant.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf taunts Littlefinger into attacking him in berserk fury, resulting in Littlefinger exhausting himself with nothing to show for it except Arya laughing at his ineptitude.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Bridge at Remagen opens with the Germans destroying the Rhine River bridge at Oberkassel. Later in the film, explosive charges on the titular bridge, at Remagen, are similarly fired. The bridge is damaged but fails to collapse.
  • Godzilla movies, whenever you see the regular army set up a bunch of tanks, artillery, and lasers, the most they ever do to the giant monster, usually Godzilla, is make it angry. There was one case in Godzilla 2000 where a special armor-piercing missile actually appeared to damage Godzilla, but he just instantly healed from it.
    • It's a plot point in (some) Godzilla movies that he aggressively moves towards whatever is attacking him... thus the human weapons are at least good for leading him around.
    • Godzilla himself provides a few Worf Barrages, most notably in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah when his impending apocalyptic nuclear meltdown causes his default breath weapon to become the Spiral Ray that he has previously used to insta-kill such powerful opponents as Super Mechagodzilla and Spacegodzilla. It is thus an incredible testament to Destoroyah's power that s/he is able to shrug off an entire battle's worth of these attacks as if they were Godzilla's standard atomic rays; had Godzilla not been going through his meltdown at that point, he likely would have had no chance of defeating Destoroyah.
      • In Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla's standard atomic breath is powerful enough to kill any enemy monster with a single direct hit — until he faces off against Monster X (and, later, Kaiser Ghidorah).
    • In contrast to the traditional Godzilla backstory, where nuclear tests are what accidentally woke him up and mutated him, Godzilla (2014) shows that he was woken up in The '50s and then deliberately and directly attacked with nukes. Among said nukes was the Castle Bravo bomb at Bikini Atoll, the biggest bomb ever set off by the United States. Not only did this not take him down, it both mutated him and gave him a grudge against humans.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Ronan is completely unfazed by the Hadron Enforcer (a badass energy missile which can "destroy moons", or at the very least, a spaceship). He completely absorbs the attack despite a direct hit to the chest.
  • Independence Day uses this trope when they decide to deploy a nuclear missile on one of the invading ships. It levels the city in the process and produces a huge amount of smoke, leading to the war room celebrating victory for a short period of time before enough smoke clears to reveal the ship is still there. Also earlier on, the first (and horribly unsuccessful) attack on one of the alien craft; every missile fired by the numerous fighter jets hits the ship's shields, doing absolutely nothing.
    • Also happens in its cinematic ancestor, The War of the Worlds (1953). Late in the movie, the USAF drops an atom bomb on the invaders (from a B-49 Flying Wing!), but they turn out to be protected by a Deflector Shield.
    • In War of the Worlds (2005), when Ray and his two kids are walking along several hundred other refugees, they stumble into a battle raging between the U.S. Military and a couple of tripods. A commander is seen telling his subordinate that despite everything they are doing has no effect, they have to keep firing to give the refugees time to get to safety. Shortly, we see a soldier firing an RPG, and then a squadron of Apache attack helicopter unleash their missiles. When the commander gives the order to march forward, numerous giant fireballs light up the night sky as dozens of Tanks, AFVs and other vehicles are incinerated by the tripods' ray blasters. The scene the pans out to reveal a fighter plane launching another missile, and exploding harmlessly on a tripod's protective shield.
      • Earlier in the movie, when Ray finds a TV reporter rummaging through a crashed airliner, she mentions that she and her production crew were barely able to escape after a National Guard unit tried to flank a tripod, but were instead vaporized.
  • Humorously done in Iron Man 2, where War Machine fires a bunker-buster warhead at Whiplash, which Hammer has previously claimed was his ultimate weapon. The warhead harmlessly bounces off Whiplash's armor, prompting Stark to immediately guess that it was developed by the inept Hammer. It may seem that he conveniently ignores that every other Hammer weapon in War Machine's arsenal works just fine but to be fair, every other weapon that Hammer offered up to modify the Mark II armor into War Machine was a pre-existing design; the "Ex-Wife" bunker buster was the only weapon explicitly stated to be of Hammer Industries origin. In a deleted, alternate ending where Vanko did not become yet another armored up version of one of Tony's villains, the Ex-Wife worked fine serving as a literal Chekhov's Gun to end with a bang.
  • In The Karate Kid Part II Daniel's ultimate attack, The Crane Kick, is quickly and easily reversed about halfway through the film, requiring Daniel to learn an entirely new super unbeatable technique. The third film breaks the trend by not introducing any new super-moves.
  • Mars Attacks! has the desperate US military launching a nuclear missile against the Martian ships. Once the nuke detonates, a probe absorbs the fireball, which is brought back to the Martian leader and inhaled to produce funny helium voices.
  • The Mighty Ducks series:
    • Invoked by Coach Bombay in D1 when it comes time to get Goldberg to stop being afraid of the puck — kind of difficult to be a goalie otherwise. He does this by tying Goldberg's limbs to the goalposts, then having himself and all of the other players shoot hundreds of pucks at him all at once. Goldberg protests to no avail (Karp, at least, was definitely looking forward to it) and when the pucks start firing he starts screaming bloody murder...until he realizes the shots don't really hurt and starts laughing and taunting them to shoot harder.
      Goldberg: My mother would not approve of this, Coach. She'd like me to live to my Bar Mitzvah.
      Bombay: This is your Bar Mitzvah, Goldberg. Today you become a man!
    • Fulton Reed's slapshot is a subversion in D2. Said slap-shot has smashed plexiglass, torn nets and made every goalkeeper in Minnesota cower in fear. In the first match against Iceland, the Icelandic goalkeeper manages to glove-save said slap-shot, which is treated as a super-human feat...but soon after, the goalie tears his glove off his glove to reveal a puck-shaped bruise in the palm of his hand. In a later game, Reed steps up to make a penalty against the same goalie. The goalie is visibly terrified.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation: Johnny Cage's "Shadow Kick" fail to land a hit both times he uses it in the movies. The second failure results in his death.
  • Shaolin Soccer: Team Shaolin have delivered one Curb-Stomp Battle after another to their opposing teams, until the introduction of Team Devil, a rival team empowered by performance-enhancing drugs. So when Team Shaolin starts off the match by unleashing their epic move that cause the soccer ball to morph into a raging dragon across the field, Team Devil retaliates... by having their goalie stop Team Shaolin's epic projectile in one move.
  • At the climax of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren orders the entire army with him to fire everything they have at Luke Skywalker, who is the last thing standing between them and the bunker holding the last of the Resistance. When the smoke clears and he is still standing, reacting to the attack by simply brushing some dirt off his shoulder, Kylo gets out to fight him mano-a-mano, and finds out why his attack didn't work: because Luke wasn't actually there, just projecting himself across the galaxy using the Force. Unfortunately, the effort required of him to do that does actually kill him.
  • Pepper spray is often treated as a Worf Barrage. It is used by otherwise defenseless (usually female) characters, and it invariably fails to make the The Dragon even blink. Such is the case in Twilight and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, in which The Dragon hilariously takes the pepper spray (not mace, as he points out) and uses it as a breath mint.

  • Happens in the first novel of Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series, when a huge Faata starship engages a fleet of 12 Earth cruisers, who proceed to unleash a barrage of nuclear missiles with the combined force of 140 gigaton. The protagonist is currently aboard the mothership and triumphantly prepares to die, knowing that nothing can resist such firepower. He barely feels a bump, as the starship's Deflector Shields easily absorb the blast. Turns out 140 gigaton is nothing when your shields are rated for Antimatter.
  • Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files has often suffered from this, where his spell would blow the living Hell out of the enemy, only to have it shake it off and come back at him.
    • In Fool Moon he blasts the loup-garou through the wall of the police station and the entirety of the neighboring building, only to have it let out a howl of irritation.
    • Some of the older and more powerful faeries from Summer Knight and Proven Guilty are almost entirely immune to magical attacks.
    • A good example is in Dead Beat where Harry flips a car over on top of Cowl, who then gets up with no more effort than John Wayne recovering from a sucker punch that kicks off a bar fight.
    • The Turn Coat has Harry against Shagnasty, an uber-powerful, shapeshifter. He uses not one, but all eight of his kinetic energy storing rings, which are made of 3 bands apiece. Just one band has enough force to knock a man off his feet. Do the math. He fires it at Shagnasty who just raises a hand and deflects it at one of Harry's allies. Yeah. Shagnasty wasn't one to tangle with.
  • Occurs twice in Feet of Clay, once when the king golem tries to kill Dorfl (it does put him out for a little bit), and once when he's hit by a lightning bolt from the gods.
  • In Flinx Transcendent, the Grand Finale of Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, Flinx locates the Tar-Aiym weapons platform that he's been chasing for the last four novels and attempts to use it against the oncoming Great Evil. Despite the fact that its Wave-Motion Gun is capable of destroying entire star systems, it barely scratches the galaxy-devouring horror, forcing Flinx to go look for an even more powerful weapon.
  • In the climax of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, when Elend's 300 Seers burn the Lord Ruler's atium cache, Atium grants Combat Clairvoyance and the enhanced mental skill to perfectly use it, so while they were burning it they were effectively unstoppable, and they had enough atium to last for hours. The catch? While Elend had 300 men, the enemy had 300,000. The 300 burned through the entire atium reserve, and still the enemy had more troops to throw at them. Good thing Elend's backup plan was to get rid of all that atium so that Ruin couldn't get to it.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, we are told that Zeus' Master Bolt makes hydrogen bombs look like firecrackers. However, the only time we see it in action is against Typhon, who just shrugs it off.
  • In The Spirit Thief, Tesset's most powerful attack gets an entire paragraph of build-up and then another paragraph to describe the aftermath. His opponent doesn't even flinch.
  • Inverted in a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, where the Enterprise-D has taken on board some refugees from a society that treats them like slaves because they are androids. The refugees claim asylum and want to start their own society, then a fleet from the parent civilization turns up and wants them back. Naturally, Picard sets up a judicial hearing, but everyone is on a knife-edge. Worf has a plan to calm things down: The Enterprise-D is parked in a region of space that has just experienced a weird space storm. Using this as an excuse that they are still having some system malfunctions, Picard tells the opposing fleet that they need to drain their phaser capacitors by test firing at low power on a nearby asteroid. The asteroid is actually Made of Explodium, and Worf fires the phasers on full power. Result — Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and the fleet commander deciding that it might be best to let Picard's court hearing decide the matter.
  • In the Max Brooks novel World War Z, the American military stages a battle against the massive zombie infestation of Yonkers, New York. With the media watching, the military unleashes an overwhelming barrage of missiles, rockets, and artillery at the approaching zombie horde, only to see the largely unscathed tide of undead slouch through the smoke. The unprepared ground forces are totally overwhelmed, leading to a catastrophic defeat and the western retreat of the U.S government.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: When the Beast makes its appearance in "Apocalypse Nowish", the Fang Gang hit it with everything they have — axes, swords, crossbows, wooden stakes, Guns Akimbo pistols and finally a shotgun. None of it works and the Beast thrashes the lot of them.
  • In The Flash (2014), Barry's supersonic punches were previously able to defeat Girder. They have no effect on Grodd (partly because Grodd is surprisingly fast for his size and partly because he can read Barry's mind, so he knows what's coming). Barry does finally manage to land a successful supersonic punch on him, but only because Grodd is too busy being sucked into a breach to Earth 2. Later, Jay teaches Barry to throw lightning bolts (from the electricity he builds up while running). It works against one metahuman. Then Barry faces off against Zoom... who easily catches the lightning bolt and throws it right back at Barry. It still works against other opponents, though, such as Hawkman and King Shark.
  • Happens to a Monster of the Week in Kamen Rider Kuuga. Me·Geega·Gi could shoot balls of ink that hit 280ºC (536ºF) and explode on contact from his mouth, allowing him to kill any human he picked for his Gegeru in one hit. Kuuga's Mighty Form was heavily damaged the first time they fought. During the rematch, Yusuke showcased his new Titan Form, and was able to advance through a hail of Geega's explosive ink balls, tanking all of that damage easily before finishing the Gurongi off with the Calamity Titan.
  • Being an Affectionate Parody of Star Trek, The Orville rarely has the titular ship's weapons doing much damage. This is given a degree of justification pretty early by the fact that the Orville is explained to be a science ship with relatively low armament, and most of the time it ends up going up against proper warships.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • Happened in an early episode, when two Goa'uld Ha'taks were in Earth's orbit preparing to invade. Major Samuels makes a big deal of the new Naquadah-enhanced ICBMs (modified for space flight) with the yield increased a thousandfold. The missiles harmlessly explode against Goa'uld shields. In fact, they do more damage to Earth than to the Goa'uld with the EMP taking out satellites in the vicinity. Of course, they immediately start developing the means to pierce shields and, according to Sam, succeeded. This is the last we hear of them.
      • The naquadriah-enhanced gatebusting nuke, the most powerful WMD in Earth's arsenal at the time, which didn't do a thing to remove the Ori beachhead. In fact, it did the exact opposite, as the Ori were counting on the Tau'ri to provide them with a powerful energy source, and a humongous nuclear explosion did exactly that. (In a later episode they find out they detonated it on the wrong side of the gate: a gate with an open wormhole needs to be attacked from the back side of the gate, otherwise the wormhole absorbs most of the force.)
    • Happens in the Stargate Atlantis finale. You know a ship is badass when it takes only minimal damage from Asgard plasma beams and withstands a barrage of Ancient drone weapons.
  • Throughout the various Star Trek series, the characters will attempt to use either the ship or personal handheld weapons against the problem of the Week early in the episode, only for the attack to do nothing (either because the target No Sells it or the weapons are preventing from working), showing both the characters and the audience that violence will not resolve this week's issue. The characters will instead have to use diplomacy, clever thinking, speeches, Good Old Fisticuffs, and/or Techno Babble to get out of the mess.
    • Worf's deflector dish weapon from Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Best of Both Worlds" — complete with a huge, dramatic build-up to the famous part-one cliffhanger — is, at the beginning of part two, simply shrugged off by the Borg. Guess who pulled the trigger.
    • One surprisingly good moment in the much-loathed episode "Genesis" has Worf proudly boasting of having increased the photon torpedoes' yield and improved the targeting scanners. During the subsequent weapons test, he fires a torpedo... and it spins wildly out of control, nearly blowing the Enterprise up, while the phasers can't get a lock to shoot it down. Picard's gives him a look that shows that he's clearly fighting the intense urge to start Sarcastic Clapping.
      • There was also a rather good example in the DS9 episode Valiant: the titular ship finds the weak point of the enormous Jem'hadar battleship and fires at the said weak spot. The battleship blows up spectacularly. And then it turns out that it's still there and in perfectly good shape. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • Worf's debut DS9 episode Way of the Warrior is notable for giving Worf two separate aversions. Manning the tactical station aboard Defiant, Worf points out that Sisko's tactics are failing to disable the Klingon ships that they are fighting. Sisko gives Worf permission to target the Klingon ships at his discretion, and within seconds, Worf blows an enemy vessel to pieces. Later, on DS9, Worf unleashes what was the most impressive barrage of weapons fire seen on Star Trek to that point. . .and it devastates the attacking fleet.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • When the Vulcan nerve pinch fails to work on any particularly tough opponent.
    • In "The Doomsday Machine", Cdre. Decker commandeers the Enterprise and launches an attack on the eponymous device. Multiple phaser salvos at full power fail to even scratch it — though Decker was the only one who thought it might.
    • Subverted in the first pilot, The Cage. When a species of masters of illusion kidnap Captain Pike, the Enterprise crew makes several attempts to force their way into the aliens' base. Physically forcing the door fails, and so does blasting it with multiple, increasingly powerful phaser salvos. Finally, they decide to hit it with the Starfleet version of field artillery; all to seemingly no effect. After Pike forces the aliens to drop their illusions, the charred ruins of both the entrance and the surrounding landscape are revealed.
    • In the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the phaser rifle has no effect on the transformed Gary Mitchell.
  • Common in Super Sentai (where Power Rangers gets its footage from). If the team uses the team finisher early on in a fight (or while clearly losing already and only trying it out of desperation), or the Humongous Mecha pulls out its weapon or finishing attack early in a fight, chances are that it will have no effect. Works for the heroes as well, usually with their giant robots getting attacked. They'll ignore physical moves, do the Barehanded Blade Block against melee weapons, and ranged attacks result in explosions around the robot (which, in this series, indicates that the attack didn't work, not A-Team Firing.)
    • In Power Rangers S.P.D., there's one attack that binds the monster (with superstrong crime scene tape.) When Bridge believes that a villain is actually innocent, he has them use that instead of normal attacks, and Syd even says "That never works!" (It works this time, and once more. But it is typically easily broken by the target afterward.)
  • Occasionally in the Ultra Series, a particularly powerful Kaiju of the Week or a Big Bad will get hit by an Ultraman's Finishing Move and survive (or even worse, absorb the attack and maybe fire it back at them, which as the first series shown is potentially fatal). Sometimes, using the Finishing Move a second time works, but other times, it means the humans need to step in and tip the scales, or the Ultras are gonna have to come up with a different way to kill the monster.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's "Spaceman Spiff" daydreams almost always involve finding out the "monster" is invulnerable to his "death ray blaster" or "zorcher" (same thing), primarily because Calvin's weapon in the real world is a suction-cup dart gun or a squirt pistol that wouldn't do a thing to anyone. One particularly memorable sequence had him firing a laundry list of weapons at an attacking fleet, none of which have any effect. The last panel shows him in class giving a bunch of wild guesses to a question he was asked.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Applies to the Superstars, when another superstar puts their "unbeatable" finishing move (which always ended the match on ALL prior occasions), on the top superstar (i.e. The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior, etc.). The audience is led to expect that the top superstar is finished — only for the Undertaker to sit up after the DDT, the Hulkster to fight his way out of the Camel Clutch, or The Ultimate Warrior to come back after Hulk's "unbeatable" leg-drop (all of these were actual scenarios).
    • In the Undertaker/Kane match at Wrestlemania 14, Taker got up from Kane's finisher, then needed three iterations of his own finishing move to get Kane to stay down for the three-count. After the match was officially over, Kane got up again and proceeded to pummel Undertaker, culminating in a headfirst drop on a steel chair. Taker got up as Kane was on his way out.
    • Batista vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania 23, in which Undertaker was able to resist the Batista Bomb. Later that year, when the two fought again at Cyber Sunday, Undertaker resisted the Batista Bomb again, however this time Batista delivered a second bomb right afterward and the match was over. And, during their next match at Survivor Series, Batista was able to resist the Tombstone Piledriver.
  • Inverted with Ric Flair's figure four leg lock. When he was NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a recurring question was how he was champion, the joke being he had no finishing move. By the time Flair worked for the WWF, Jim Ross would talk up Flair's figure four as being much more potent than Buddy Rogers' and it would be treated as the most dangerous submission hold on Monday Night Raw.
  • Many wrestlers outside of WWE slip and let their finisher become The Worf Barrage. Some notable examples include Takeshi Morishima's Backdrop Driver, which is less a finisher than a move he wins with just by doggedly using it over and over; Naruki Doi's Doi 555 to Bakutare Sliding Kick combo, which started as a finisher but was eventually survived so often that some fans joke that he no longer has a finishing move; and Nigel McGuinness's Tower of London, a rather nasty move that went from instant match-ender to a move that he could use three times in the ring and once on the apron without ending the match (at least until he went to TNA and became Desmond Wolfe). The Dragon Gate promotion is particularly notorious for finishers quickly going from Deader than Dead to The Worf Barrage.
  • The probability that Christian will so much as pull off a successful Killswitch during a given match is inversely proportional to the importance and impact of said match.
  • Randy Orton's Five Moves of Doom have hit a streak where they'll usually fail or be interrupted after the third or fourth step. Either the fourth step, a hanging DDT, will get reversed, or the final step, the RKO, will be escaped. That part is subverted, as when Orton wins, it's almost exclusively from an RKO, so the RKO fails that time, but succeeds later.
  • Chris Hero, after losing the Pro Wrestling Guerilla World Championship belt in 2009, started to realize what many people already had: that his elbow strike was basically the Worf Barrage and that he needed to rely more on his actual finishing moves.
  • Started being averted in World Wrestling Entertainment in 2010, with the return to finishing effectiveness of such submission maneuvers as the sleeper hold (Dolph Ziggler) and a cross arm breaker (Alberto Del Rio).
  • The last several minutes of the main event at WrestleMania 29 consisted of The Rock and John Cena hitting each other with Rock Bottoms, People's Elbows, and Attitude Adjustments, and only getting near falls off them.
  • Brock Lesnar has done this to Cena. At SummerSlam 2014, Lesnar took an Attitude Adjustment and proceeded to kick out at two...and then sat up Undertaker-style seconds later, laughing the move off in a way that mocked his Wrestlemania opponent Undertaker, who he had beaten a few months prior. Then a month later, Lesnar took his finisher again and proceeded to kick out at one...then took multiple AAs throughout the match, was put in multiple STFs, took a curb stomp from Seth Rollins post-match and STILL had the strength to get up and F-5 Cena and walk off as if he was only momentarily stunned.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 3.5, a lot of evocation spells like Fireball and Lightning Bolt can be like this. They are flashy, but really only good for taking out Mooks. It is probably better to use a different spell on the Big Bad you are fighting because a lot of the time they simply can not do enough damage. One of the main reasons for this is because the damage they do has been unchanged since AD&D 1st Edition. 10d6 may have been a lot when the dragon only had 66 hit points, but when it has 300+ and the average damage is only in the mid-30s, it can lead to a scene of a player firing off an impressive spell, only for the enemy to be relatively unharmed. This is because you're supposed to hit large single targets with spells that target single foes, like Scorching Ray or Lightning Orb. Spells that target a single foe always have a damage advantage over spells of the same level that hit entire areas.
    • In all editions before fourth and in Pathfinder, spells such as Fireball fell into this trope against powerful enemies. First, the enemies usually had strong saves. Second, many such powerful enemies had magical counters, immunities, and spell or magical resistances. Third, such enemies usually had enough health that Critical Existence Failure did not set in until you ground out a lot of damage. Finally, in prior editions, Useless Useful Spell was definitely not in effect, and HP damage was often a terrible way to disable a single enemy. By fourth, most spells and effects (and martial powers, and so on) fall into this trope. Most powerful enemies can only really be defeated by a long slog of hit point attrition. Fandom is completely divided about that.
  • Exalted:
    • Second edition had a really, really bad problem with this. The game's flavor encouraged doing cool flashy attacks, but this power ended up with a downside of being able to instantly vaporize any opponent. Having seen the problem in beta testing, developers countered with introduction of Perfect Defenses, allowing to completely avoid or block any attack, no ifs or buts... But the too-low price of them fell into the opposite. Any attempt to do a powerful attack would end up countered. After playerbase realized it, people stopped doing powerful attacks at all, only focusing on launching a lot of them with minimal empowerment so as not to be out-costed. Fanmade rules patch known as "version 2.5" tried fixing it by significantly rising the price of the Perfects. Although this helped, too large attacks still were ineffective.
    • Third edition adjusted the status quo further. Everybody still has Perfect Defenses, allowing a stylish block to happen... But they are only usable once per battle unless you reset them by fulfilling a special condition.
  • Warhammer 40,000 averts this to varying degrees depending on exactly who is getting hit with what:
    • Some cases are simply a matter of the target being too heavily armoured. An anti-tank krak missile will reliably paste anything that isn't big enough to logically withstand the hit (giant monsters and such) but throw it at somebody wearing Terminator armour (or equivalent), and they'll walk away unharmed almost 85% of the time.
    • Invulnerable saves (personal forcefields, etc) are even worse since even attacks that plow straight through any and all armour will simply bounce off of them. Anybody with an Iron Halo can take a shot square in the face from weaponry specifically designed to vapourize tanks/city blocks/cities/mountain ranges (yes, 40K has all of those and more...), and have a guaranteed 50/50 chance of survival.
    • But even 40K has to play it straight sometimes. The recently (re-)introduced "Vortex" weapon class is nothing short of a crackling, seething portal STRAIGHT TO HELL. Its rules expressly state that it doesn't care about your equipment, your special rules, or even the building you're hiding behind. If it touches a model, THAT MODEL DIES. HORRIBLY. END OF STORY. Oh, and it destroys any scenery pieces it touches, too — even the battlefield itself isn't safe! Except when you hit a Garguntan Creature or Super Heavy Vehicle with Vortex Weapons; then, if you're lucky, will only cause ONE point of wound/Structure Point loss. Yes, having a tank sized chunk carved out of you is Only a Flesh Wound for, let's say, a Titan.

    Video Games 
  • In the browser-based game Battle Pirates, you might build a fleet of the latest and greatest hulls and weapons, which easily defeats anything in the game. Then a few months later the developers will throw something new in the mix that will No-Sell it, leading to this. For example, the Scourge faction introduced in late 2015 utilizes fast-moving subs with high damage resistance. Up to that point, the Crusader equipped with the Arbalest Cannon had been dominating player versus enemy battles due to its long-range and high damage output, but it's completely useless against subs because ballistic weapons can't hit submerged targets. After that point, the focus shifted to a specific combination of high-speed hulls, long-range retargetable missiles, and sub detection.
  • Bayonetta has the titular character summoning demons to perform incredibly brutal finishing moves on all of the bosses. The Dragon? Kills the demons she summons. All of them.
  • Izayoi's trope-naming Immortal Breaker from BlazBlue is able to kill anything, even immortal beings like Observers. However, it fails on two occasions - Jin willing himself to withstand it with the Power of Order, and Izanami taking it like a champ because you can't kill death itself. Ironically, this means Immortal Breaker is never actually shown killing anything.
  • Every time GDI blows up Kane with an Ion Cannon in the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series he always manages to survive. It's heavily implied that Kane is not human and immortal.
  • An early cutscene in Crisis Beat sees you making to the deck of the Princess, a crusie ship taken over by terrorists. Around a dozen helicopters are in the horizon, having received a distress call about the terrorist situation, but unfortunately the terrorists have surface-to-air missile launchers. Which they then use to blast the helicopters out of the air, and you can only exclaim "This Is Unforgivable!" while swearing to make the villains pay.
  • Late into Crysis, a tactical nuke is fired upon advanced alien technology. It only serves to jump-start the alien technology.
  • Mission 1 of Devil May Cry 4 has Nero delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Dante (who serves as the tutorial boss) via pummeling his face. This being Dante, he's less than fazed and shows no damage from it.
  • Given the extremely high possible levels and cinematic attacks, Disgaea allows Worf Barrages up to the point of a ten Colony Drop combo doing Scratch Damage.
  • In Fallout 2 the minigun serves this purpose against the Enclave. Take a guess what weapon Michael Dorn's character uses...
  • Fate/Grand Order: In the fourth Lostbelt, Chaldea's first encounter with Arjuna Over Gods goes as such: Rama uses Brahmastra, which is specialized in killing immortal Hindu demons, and it just bounces off of Arjuna as if it were a twig. The protagonists then prepare to use Karna's god-killing Vasavi Shakti, only to be told that it will fail to damage Arjuna as well. True enough, Karna uses it on Aśvatthāman shortly afterward, and it doesn't manage to kill him.
  • In Fate/stay night, Servant Lancer has a cursed lance that, when unsealed, will always pierce the opponent's heart, rewriting the laws of causality to do it... Unless the opponent happens to be very lucky. Guess what, on the occasion he gets to use it, the opponent was that lucky. On the second attempt against Archer, Lancer ups the ante and unleashes its more powerful thrown form, only to have the Archer block the attack with a shield said to be proof against all missile weapons. Gae Bolg still manages to destroy it, but lacks enough force to hit Archer's heart afterwards.
    • Archer's Broken Caladbolg from the 'Unlimited Blade Works' route as well. Reduces an entire graveyard to a smoking pile of rubble and forces the protagonists to run for cover, but when the smoke clears it is shown that it couldn't even dent The Berserker. Then again, the fact that Berserker deigned to defend against it at all shows that it was not an attack to be trifled with.
  • Final Fantasy IV:
    • Tellah's use of Meteor (the most powerful spell in the game) against Golbez is used both as a Worf Barrage and a Senseless Sacrifice. If anything, at least it forces Golbez to back off and temporarily breaks his hold on Kain's mind.
    • At the start of the final battle, FuSoYa and Golbez use a combined Meteor attack on Zemus to defeat him. Then Zemus comes back as Zeromus and their Meteor attacks prove useless.
  • The one battle in which you control General Leo against Kefka in Final Fantasy VI also doubles as a Worf Barrage. Similarly, the battle on the floating island witnessed between the Emperor and Kefka, the Emperor's Esper-powered Merton/Meltdown serves as a Worf Barrage by having Kefka shrug off the most damaging spell in the game. Mind you, it's not that he just takes it, but rather that he's standing in a magic null zone.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, GF Odin appears periodically throughout the game if acquired, instantly killing any opponents in the current fight. During a showdown with Seifer towards the middle of the game, Odin shows up and tries the insta-kill attack, only to be himself killed by the latest incarnation of Squall's training rival. To add insult to injury, the technique Seifer uses to bisect Odin is named "Zantetsuken Reverse."
  • In Final Fantasy IX, there's Kuja's fight with Bahamut. Kuja gets a Fantastic Nuke to the face. It barely draws blood.
  • Chapter 23 in Kid Icarus: Uprising has Pit using the Three Sacred Treasures to attack Hades, the true Big Bad of the game. The Three Sacred Treasures were used in the original Kid Icarus and Chapter 9 of Uprising to kill Medusa...and not only do they do absolutely no damage to Hades, he destroys them!
  • Occurs no fewer than three times in Mass Effect 3 with Reaper Destroyers (small than the "true" Sovereign-class capital ships, remember). Their outer shells are Nigh-Invulnerable even to the galaxy's best ground- and air-based weapons (space-based weapons outgun them by a fair amount, which is what the larger grade of Reaper is for). A concentrated barrage by turian fighters fails to dent the Destroyer on Tuchanka, so Shepard resorts to calling in Kalros, the Mother of All Thresher Maws, to crush it to death. Then, on Rannoch, s/he recognizes that extra firepower will be needed to dent another Destroyer, so s/he borrows the entire quarian Migrant Fleet for More Dakka — which bounces straight off the Reaper's hull, and can only damage it by attacking its weak point. Even then it takes a half-dozen shots to make the kill (of course, it's not like they can use the nuke level slugs with Shepard nearby, and the smaller ones probably have trouble getting through the atmosphere). Finally, on Earth, s/he is given Thanix missiles, which s/he is reliably informed: "can do a fuckton of damage". Thanks to a double helping of jamming, though, the first salvo still has no effect on a single Destroyer. Only a second, precision-guided volley does anything, and even then it isn't dead, merely crippled.
    • To sum up: Shepard knows how tough Reapers are and is very sure to bring escalating levels of firepower each time they show up. It still consistently isn't enough.
    • Comically averted both off-screen and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. Throwaway lore from Palaven outright says the Turians managed to put a massive dent in Reaper forces. And during the big galactic battle, you can see Capital ships being destroyed, provided you your Military Readiness is high enough.
  • The trailer for the new MechWarrior game has one of these when the POV character scores a direct hit on an Atlas, sending the massive enemy mech staggering for a moment...
  • Subversion: The X-Buster upgrade from Mega Man X allows X to charge his shots to a higher level, and the attack itself is a triple helix barrage of shots. On bosses, this does no extra damage, although it does allow to hurt the final boss with the buster. Justified since the first part of the blast triggers the Mercy Invincibility of the boss, letting them soak up the rest of the attack. In the remake of the game, this part returns, but the shot is redesigned to just three spiraling shots. In addition, you can put off getting the normal version for Zero's Buster which is mostly the same except the new blast trades the fancy looks for actual strength.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3: White and Blue, Mega Man and Lan obtain a special freeze program called Giga Freeze that is essentially designed to utterly crash any program it touches, include Net Navi's (meaning Mega Man risked being permanently frozen just by trying to obtain it). Serenade specifically points out only special Navi's can hold the program and they're fairly rare, and Mega Man intends to use it to destroy Alpha and save the internet. When Bass tries to stop him, Mega Man throws the program in desperation, only to realize in horror that Bass caught the program one-handed and was totally unaffected.
  • At the start of Paper Mario, during the opening Hopeless Boss Fight Bowser will use the Star Rod to make himself invincible, after which your attacks won't hurt him. Similarly, during the 3rd and final fight with him, when you use the Star Beam which is supposed to disable the Star Rod's power, it won't work. This tradition carried in the next two games, with the final boss initially being invincible.
  • In RefleX, the Final Boss ZODIAC Libra fires a Wave-Motion Gun that destroys the two Kamui units that you've also been fighting, and you can see their shields breaking off one at a time before both of them succumb to the laser. Assuming you have your infinite-use shield up, it's no problem for your ship. When it fires again, not only does it still fail to breach your shield, Libra ends up taking severe damage due to the stress of firing the laser.
  • Eternal Sailor Moon's final attack in Sailor Moon: Another Story has this going for it. The attack animation is a good ten seconds long and involves multiple explosions, a death beam, and a screen white-out complete with a collapsing barrier animation... and usually does about one to two damage against the final boss. Even Sailor Mercury, who has more in common with a concrete pillbox than a tank, will average 5 damage plus 10% target accuracy loss with her basic attack.
  • The Star Trek Online MMO mirrors this trope perfectly when encountering certain opponents. A single top rank player in the best ship and most powerful weapons can utterly unleash an initial barrage on a Dominion dreadnought or a Borg cube and barely scratch the shields. It takes a barrage from a small fleet or sustained barrages over a long period to take such targets down. And those targets hit back a lot harder than the player does.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, Ranger quad-wields bows and launches a "Dodecarrow Storm" against Sarda. Later, Super Evil Black Mage uses "Helldoken". Neither work.
  • In the Bob and George subatomic, Jailhouse Blues, Mega Man fires ''MORE AMMUNITION THAN GOD!" at Prison Toilet Man, and keeps firing into the dust cloud even while PTM is standing right behind him, berating him for his lack of Genre Savviness. The Worf Barrage effect is subverted, however, as it turns out that Mega Man was firing guided missiles that locked onto him, and are now waiting inside the dust cloud to destroy PTM.
  • In Ensign Sue Must Die, 2009!Spock's first attempt to kill the titular Ensign 'Mary Sue" is to set his phaser to "Pocket Death Star". It has no effect, and Ensign Sue explains (quite cheerfully) that she had built up an immunity to phaser blasts.

    Web Original 
  • In DEATH BATTLE!, there are a few examples:
    • Master Chief vs. Doomguy has the BFG being completely stopped by Master Chief's Deflector Shield.
    • Thor's God Blast only supercharged Raiden.
    • Cloud's Omnislash couldn't break the indestructible Hylian Shield.
    • The Goku vs. Superman fight. You'd think that after absorbing the energy of a Spirit Bomb to power his Kamehameha, Goku would defeat Superman quite handily, but Superman just powers through the beam of Ki like it's nothing. It helps that Superman took that time bathing in the sun itself to get his own power-up, however.
      • The rematch has Goku (at Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan, his most powerful form at the time) hit Superman with a massive Kamehameha Wave. Supes strolls through like it were a strong breeze.
    • During the M. Bison vs. Shao Kahn battle, Bison performs the Nightmare Booster, his most powerful attack which the hosts note can kill a normal man with one strike. He engulfs himself in Psycho Power, flies at his opponent, and carries him into the air, before slamming Shao Kahn into the ground. Kahn is quite amused, nonchalantly getting up and quipping:
      Shao Kahn: Is that your best?
    • Charizard's Blast Burn is one of the most powerful attacks in Pokemon, being the fire-element equivalent of a Hyper Beam, but WarGreymon come out of it without so much as a scratch.
    • The Hulk unleashes his signature Thunderclap move nearly point-blank in Doomsday's face, but at best all it does is disorient Doomsday before he grabs Hulk's hands and breaks one of them.
    • Portgas D. Ace unleashes his Great Flame Commandment: Flame Emperor (described by the hosts as a Spirit Bomb of fire) on Natsu while yelling at him to try and eat it. Natsu doesn't even bother, he just charges right through it to attack Ace directly without injury.
    • Tommy Oliver has the Dragonzord Battle Mode unleash its electric drill spear (which Boomstick notes in Power Rangers' canon had never failed to finish off an enemy) on Kiryu clean through its body. While Kiryu does scream in pain, he shrugs it off long enough to pull himself down the spear and grab the Battle Mode so he can fire a point-blank Absolute Zero Cannon to win the fight.
    • Reverse Flash and Goku Black had one where both parties due this to each other. Reverse Flash goes back and time to kill past Goku Black before the fight begins, only for Goku Black to do the same to Reverse Flash. Since both are a Paradox Person, killing their past selves does not erase the other's present/future self. Que a montage of both of them repeatedly killing their past selves to little effect.
      Goku Black and Reverse Flash: "WHY AREN'T YOU DEAD?"
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • As to the Spirit Bomb's ineffectiveness:
      Goku: Better use that thing that always works!
    • It gets lampshaded when Vegeta, Krillin, and Gohan are fighting Freeza when they launch a huge barrage of energy beams at Freeza, which covers him in smoke.
      Krillin: Did we get him?
      Gohan: Krillin, we can sense his energy. Why do you even ask?
      Krillin: I'm an optimist.
    • Cell mocks Vegeta's ki bullet barrage towards the end of their battle, while casually walking through every bullet.
      Vegeta: WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!
      Cell: Prince... has this ever worked?
  • In The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon (video on YouTube), the Ginosaji shrugs off its hapless victim's increasingly outlandish attempts to destroy it, culminating in the detonation of a huge bank of buried TNT.
  • As a tribute to Dragon Ball Z, Super Mario Bros. Z hasn't shied away from this trope. The Bowser battle featured a full-on Kamehame Hadoken-worthy Fireball attack from Mario that didn't even make a scratch on Metal Bowser. And during the early stages of the Mecha Sonic battle on Yoshi's Island, Axem Red decides to try out his "secret weapon," a Proton Cannon that unleashes a Wave-Motion Gun-worthy blast that turns out not to have worked on him, just before the Big Bad lays into him with a Shun Goku Satsu and a Kamehame Hadoken of his own to finish him.
  • Team Service Announcement: Pop It, Don't Drop It. No matter how much firepower one can throw at a medic, if he's Ubered, it won't matter. How to illustrate it? By aiming about three teams' worth of ordnance in the victim's direction, of course.
  • In the superhero story Worm, the three Endbringers have been subjected to attack by all sorts of superweapons (up to, including, and surpassing nuclear warheads) and survived.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: Whenever Kevin Levin is actually lucky enough to even land an attack against an opposing enemy, this is usually the result. Kevin spent a lot of the two sequel series suffering under The Worf Effect, so this was usually what 9 out of 10 battles with him in will end up being, downplaying his power to make the Villain of the episode look strong.
  • Code Lyoko: Ulrich's Triplicate isn't specifically an ultimate attack (most of XANA's monsters can be killed in one shot anyway), and was actually quite weak in Season 1, but in Season 2 it had become incredibly powerful, once allowing him to take down a whole army of monsters on his own. In Season 4, however, he used it only once against William, and William immediately found out which Ulrich was the real one and was able to devirtualize him instantly, ending the move in a few seconds.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In the episode Operation C.H.A.D., Numbah Five unleashes double lasered hell upon small-time villain Mega Mom, who had "stupefied" one of her legs during and earlier conflict. This attack is so aggressive that it completely obscures Mega Mom's side with smoke...which the latter fires straight through after Numbah Five ceases fire, taking out her arm and eventually "stupefying" her entirely.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 2", in a curious example of both sides of a fight using this, neither Twilight nor Tirek (each more powerful than ever before) can do much damage to the other aside from slamming each other around during their huge, epic battle scene. Tirek has to resort to trickery in order to get what he wants.
  • Steven Universe: Given his powerset, Steven has two defensive examples.
    • In its introductory episode, Steven's bubble forcefield is practically indestructible (the plot of the episode was him trying to get rid of it). On its very next appearance, it was destroyed by a single energy blast. Its main purpose for a while was getting punched to bits by the villains... until he starts to grow into his power, in which case it goes back to being Nigh-Invulnerable to the point of being able to tank attacks from Blue Diamond.
    • The same can be said for Steven's shield. At first, outside of cases of Power Incontinence making it difficult for him to maintain, his his shield is nearly indestructible, able to tank laser fire from space ships and shrug off any and all physical attacks with the only means of thwarting it being to somehow get around it and knock it out of Steven's hands. As the series goes on however, we see cases of characters being able to break it with Bismuth being able to shatter it by striking at it while her hand is morphed into an axe, Yellow Diamond stomping on both it and Steven with enough force to destroy it and later on in the movie, Spinel is able to easily slice it in half with the Regenerator. While it does remain an overall effective weapon, it stops being completely infallible once Steven masters it.
  • Transformers: Animated:
    • Lugnut has "The Punch of Kill Everything", which is an effective weapon, but frequently (and often comically) backfires on him.
    • Bumblebee's stingers almost never do any real damage... until Ratchet decides to unlock their military mode in Season 3 (why he didn't do it before is another story) and suddenly Bumblebee's stingers are more powerful then anyone else's weapon, the only weapon of the entire team capable of scratching Omega Supreme!

    Real Life 
  • The Battle of the Somme — the prelude was five days (extended to seven) of the heaviest bombardment the British Army had yet laid on for preparation of an attack: over a million shells fired in a week (although later attacks would put this in the shade). It certainly LOOKED effective, and the troops had good reason to be confident that their efforts would be crowned with success — but at zero hours, those on the left-wing and much of the center walked into an artillery-and-machine-gun-driven mincing machine that spat out twenty thousand dead and twice that number wounded IN ONE DAY for little or no gain.
    • Partially averted on the right-wing of the assault; the troops here actually succeeded in achieving most or all of their goals, albeit at a heavy price.
    • The Normandy Landings on D-Day was also accompanied by bombing and shelling to little effect compared to the amount of bombardment, mostly due to poor weather conditions limiting visibility. The Omaha beach landing was in jeopardy of failing until destroyers steamed dangerously close to shore and fired their guns point-blank into the beach defenses.
    • Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson discuss why this happened at great length, and their book "The Somme" is recommended reading.
  • The Toyota Hilux that, in an episode of Top Gear, was placed on top of a 20-something story building, which was then demolished, is arguably a unique example of this trope. Big clouds of dust and debris spring up, slowly clearing to reveal the truck, which is then lifted from its landing on top of the rubble, refueled, and driven away.
  • The last day of the Battle of Gettysburg was a case of this. Despite general basic knowledge, Lee's plan for the infamous "Pickett's Charge" was to level all Southern artillery on the Union center, blasting apart Union infantry deposits and artillery, in order to essentially destroy the Union center before the infantry even began their assault. It was a Napoleonic tactic known as a feu d'enfer. The cannonade was said to be so thunderous, Lincoln in Washington D.C. could feel the earth shake. The problem: Southern artillery shells were defective, causing them to constantly overshoot their targets. This was unknown to them at the time, so while the Southern artillery wrecked utter hell on the Union supply lines and main base, it all happened behind the Union center. When the charge itself took place, the advancing Confederates found themselves assaulted by artillery and an ambush, and when close enough to the Union line, constant rifle fire, and canister shot. They managed to inflict 1,500 casualties at the cost of over four times their own number (all their senior officers were killed as well), and the fact that they managed to even reach the Union line exceeded at least Longstreet's expectations. To make things worse for the Confederates, the Union commander realized what Lee was trying to do and ordered his guns to gradually stop firing to give the impression that they'd been hit. Then, when the charge started...
  • Bombing operations in The Vietnam War, most notably the infamous Operation Rolling Thunder, dropped more ordinance than had ever been previously exploded in the history of war — and did absolutely nothing to stop the Viet Cong. Their primary supply route — the Ho Chi Minh trail which was nothing more than a dirt road through the jungle — was constantly filled with bomb craters. The Viet Cong just filled in the craters and kept on moving.
  • 20 years earlier, the Americans learned much the same lesson during the Battle of Okinawa. The Air Force and Navy spent several months before and during the campaign showering every single inch of the island with every bomb, rocket, and shell they could muster, enough that the Japanese would later dub the battle Tetsu no ame, the "typhoon of steel". However, due to the fact that Okinawa is made almost entirely of hard coral, which the Japanese used to their advantage when constructing their defenses, all the bombardment succeeded in doing was forcing them to remain underground during the daytime... which was part of their defensive strategy anyway. Ultimately, while almost every single structure on the island was reduced to rubble and ash, the actual Japanese defenses remained intact and the island had to be won through a grueling land campaign that killed more people on both sides than any previous battle in that theatre.
  • Japanese Kamikaze planes fall into this trope when they went against British carriers. Their planes, decommissioned fighters, and bombers packed to the brim with explosives were effective against the wooden-decked American carriers, but British carriers had armored steel decks; while the explosives and fuel would ignite the wood on the American carriers, they rarely, if ever, penetrated the British carrier's deck. There is an old running joke that the announcement following a kamikaze attack on a British Carrier was "Sweepers, man your brooms."
  • You know the 80 cm Schwerer Gustav, the biggest gun ever built? Only one of these guns was built-in position (how else would you describe an artillery crew of 2500 personnel and a purpose-built railway branch?) in time for a military operation — the Second Siege of Sevastopol. It then expended 48 rounds before completely wearing out its barrel. The Soviets failed to notice the tank-sized bunker-busters being lobbed at them. Except for that one time when the Severnaya Bay ammo dump went up. The thing is, it was protected by ten meters of ferro-concrete — and located under 30 meters of water.
  • Inverted with the US test of a thermonuclear bomb known as "Castle Bravo." Meant to be a harmless — insomuch as nuclear weapons testing can be harmless — test of new technology on Bikini Atoll, physicists failed to predict the reactions of some of the lithium isotopes produced by the detonation, resulting in a blast 2.5 to 3 times more powerful than expected. The fallout from the device affected the crews of nearby US Navy vessels, and the populations of several nearby inhabited islands; forcing evacuations, and resulting in various illnesses related to exposure to radioactive fallout. Elevated rates of cancer and birth defects persist to this day in people who were affected by the Castle Bravo test. It should probably go without saying that the last thing you ever want to hear when dealing with nuclear weapons is "Oops."
  • A laundry list of problemsnote  turned far too many American torpedo salvoes into this trope early in World War II. The attempted scuttling of USS Hornet is an illustrative example: nine torpedoes fired at an already crippled carrier completely failed to sink her.

It couldn't have possibly survived that, right?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Worf Barrage


The Mario Penguins

The Penguins attack Bowser with snowballs with the song Battle Without Honor or Humanity playing...but not a single snowball affects Bowser and the only one who DOES get hit is just one Koopa Troopa, yet the Penguin King feels that he has made an impression on Bowser, who darkly chuckles and says he doesn't yield.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheWorfBarrage

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