Follow TV Tropes


Third Act Stupidity

Go To

This is when for most of a work, the hero or the villain has been reasonably smart in their actions. But if that character acts just as smart in the climax, it would be over in a minute. Time for this Sub-Trope of Idiot Ball.

For example, a cop protagonist has done just about everything with their partner, until it comes time to confront the murderer, and then the cop does it all alone.

Or on the villain's side, this bad guy has been one step ahead of the police the whole time, and whenever a cop gets close, that cop dies. But now it's the climax, so the villain does stupid things to drag this out (even if the villain does come out on top).

A Villainous Breakdown, Honor Before Reason, and Revenge Before Reason might be confused for this trope, but are not, as those are logical progressions of events in the story.

Compare Monster Threat Expiration, Pride Before a Fall, Third-Act Misunderstanding, Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and You Can't Thwart Stage One.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note: Light starts out being Crazy-Prepared and doing everything possible to preserve his secret, but as he starts buying into his own hype, he starts viewing himself as invincible and stops being so careful. After the Time Skip, he's gone from erasing his own memory, trusting in the brilliance of his planning to ensure L's death while cementing his own complete innocence... to hiding the Death Note in storage and really hoping no one finds it while he's not looking.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE: Zeheart Galette seemed to get more and more stupid and crazy as the third generation went on, culminating in ordering Fram Nara into a suicide attack that didn't work, and then killing some of his own men. He then took to a Mobile Suit battle in a blind rage and got killed in ten seconds, despite having both a machine and the piloting skills to make him a match for the main characters.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • The Namek Saga is notable for the guerilla-style tactics that the heroes are required to use throughout: Krillin and Gohan are no match for most of Frieza's elite henchmen, Vegeta is slightly higher up the power scale and ascends higher but is still forced to play it smart to outwit the godlike Frieza. By the end of the saga, Vegeta throws all this careful planning aside and stupidly goads Frieza into transforming, arrogantly believing that Frieza wouldn't get that much stronger; it costs him his life. Not that he had much choice at that point, since Frieza had cornered them and was going to kill everyone regardless, but goading Frieza into transforming faster instead of trying to delay him until Goku could get there to help wasn't exactly a smart move.
    • Throughout the Cell Saga, Cell is The Chessmaster and a No-Nonsense Nemesis who runs circles around the Z-Fighters and repeatedly outsmarts them since, as he's created from their DNA, he knows how they operate and think; he even manages to achieve his goal of attaining his Perfect form by exploiting Vegeta's ego and desire for a challenging fight to get Vegeta to help him do so. But after defeating both Vegeta and Trunks in his Perfect form, he lets his ego and pride overcome his common sense, setting up a fighting tournament just to test his skills and giving the Z-Fighters ten days to prepare and grow stronger just so he can have more fun fighting them. However, this is somewhat understandable given the nature of the character. What really cements him as this is when he discovers Gohan's hidden power and does everything he can to piss Gohan off so he can unleash said hidden power and receive a real challenge, just as Goku intended. Keep in mind that this is the exact same trick Cell used on Vegeta to get him to help Cell absorb Android 18, and then mocked him to his face for being so stupid as to go for it. Later, in his frustration, he does the exact same thing he mocked Trunks for earlier: buffing up his muscles to crush his opponent with raw power, at the expense of his speed, meaning he's now completely unable to land any hits on his opponent and gets defeated that much faster as a result. Cell's forced to resort to a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum just to try and force a draw, and he had no idea that he has the power to return From a Single Cell and Came Back Strong when Goku manages to prevent that at the cost of his own life.
  • A Failure Is the Only Option example takes place in just about every Generation in Pokémon with Ash. He will defeat all the Gym Leaders (or befriend them, or both), gain all of the badges, defeat Team Rocket whenever they show up, dismantle the resident criminal organization (unless it's Team Rocket itself, but he will still put a stop to the Team's current plan), save the world and beat a few Olympus Mons. But once he gets to the League, unless it's not canon to the games (like the Orange Island League), he will ALWAYS LOSE! And after that, he will promptly go back home, leave all his Pokémon at Professor Oak's lab except for Pikachu, go to another region and repeat the process from the beginning.
    • The Sun and Moon arc of the anime finally averted this trope after 22 years and seven regions — Ash wins the Alola League! Hilariously, he's actually stunned for a brief moment before it finally catches up with him.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, Megadox of the eighth season is very effective, doing more damage to civilians than most bad guys and hacks the heroes' mainframe and makes sure to erase the files needed to stop him. By all means, he won. However, this victory goes to his head. He not just refuses to finish off the Surfer and the Data Squad, he also betrays the hacker that's his only ally and remaining person who is a threat to him, and doesn't check if the programs that enable the heroes to stop him have backups.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Hercules, Hades has managed to get Hercules to agree to give up his super-strength in exchange for Megara's survival and safety. So, what does Hades then do? While he's taking over Mount Olympus, he sends a giant Cyclops to attack Hercules, who will likely be with Megara, thus making it highly likely that she will be harmed in the crossfire. Granted, he did reveal some awful truths about her which likely broke them up, but it is still a risk not worth taking. And since the deal is immediately nullified if she's harmed, he has effectively ensured that his plan will fail.
    • However, it goes even deeper. If Hades had sent any of the other four titans, who are always shown going for quick kills, then Hercules would likely have died before Phil came back to inspire him. Even if they didn't, a lava monster, for instance, would have been harder to kill through guile.
  • This happens in Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost. The gang go to help a man named Ben Ravencroft clear his ancestor's name because she was accused of being a witch. Once they find her book, he reveals that she was one. As he tells them that he's going to release her from the book, get magic powers, and basically destroy all, they give him the "You won't get away with this" speech and wait for him to summon his powers. Of course, they're not going to tackle him before he reads the book aloud, otherwise the movie would be over.
  • Sakharine of The Adventures of Tintin (2011) is a very smart villain, preparing for many different disasters, keeping enemies alive only when their information is needed, being careful to not commit open robberies of the MacGuffins, and pulling a I Surrender, Suckers on the good guys. Then when threatening to destroy the treasure map, he chooses to monologue at length about how the heroes have failed to beat him, buying enough time for Tintin to sneak around and steal it from him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Birds features a scene where the protagonists are safely boarded inside the house. The birds attack but can't get in. Melanie inexplicably decides to wander upstairs. In doing so she finds a room that the birds have gotten into and attack her. Tippi Hedren even asked the director what her motivation would be to walk up the stairs, and he simply replied "your salary".
  • Near the end of Red Dawn (1984), Jed gets the drop on Colonel Strelnikov by sneaking up behind him. But instead of just shooting him, he first announces his presence with the line "You lose". This gives Strelnikov enough time to open fire on Jed before he dies, inflicting critical injuries.
  • The original ending of A Perfect Murder (the remake of Dial M for Murder) was an aversion of this. The wife shoots her husband for trying to have her killed, and fakes a struggle. Since she had evidence he planned to have her killed, the police shrug it off, and she actually commits the perfect murder. But it was decided that the audience couldn't morally identify with her, and then we had the wife doing this trope.
  • Once Upon a Time in Mexico: The Femme Fatale spots her ex-boyfriend wounded in the street from a distance; the sensible thing to do would be to snipe him, as she was perfectly capable. But instead she goes down to talk to him, so that they could have a dramatic final exchange and so that Sands could shoot her.
  • None of the characters in Hellboy II: The Golden Army make intelligent decisions in the third act, leading to the villain getting the MacGuffin and the Love Interest dying (although critics felt it didn't hurt the overall film).
  • The movie Underworld (2003) when the Big Bad has rendered the hero completely helpless and has him on the floor at his feet... but then walks away to deal with another problem. The hero of course recovers and saves the day.
    • Of course, the Hero is the spitting image of his dead daughter — a daughter he'd already been mortified by having to kill before. It was possible he wasn't able to bring himself to deliver the killing strike this time.
  • In Draft Day, the Cleveland general manager (Kevin Costner) is tricked into an epically bad trade by the Seattle GM. That level of stupidity happens about once every 20 years. The movie is about Costner dealing with the fallout amid team politics, etc. Then, in Act Three he manages to pull off two even more unlikely trades - one against the now-suddenly stupid Seattle GM.
  • Camp Nowhere: After having spent the entire movie managing to keep their fake summer camp from being discovered, and after spending most of Parents' Day fooling the parents, the kids start celebrating their victory before the last group of parents has left. Had the kids paid ANY attention to their security monitors, they would have noticed debt collector Polk at the front gate. Things then go From Bad to Worse when Polk runs into Mud's dad, as it eventually leads to the ruse being uncovered.
  • Vantage Point: Veronica, who has killed or helped kill dozens of people, including children, ruins the terrorists' plan because she can't run over a little girl. At this point the terrorists had succeeded at everything. All they had to do was literally drive away in triumph.
  • Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds is made out to be a smart mind, but in the final chapter he decides to trust his opponents' words and delivers himself to them without a backup plan, thinking that Aldo's Nazi hunter persona is just an act meant to intimidate them instead of him really being that way, which results in his fellow Nazi accompanying him getting killed and him being branded with one of the Basterds' trademark swastikas being carved onto his forehead.
  • Early in Saw, Adam tries to get a tape recorder that's far out of reach, to which Lawrence suggests using his shirt to snag it, with successful results. When the climax begins, Lawrence is trying to reach a phone just inches away so he can contact his wife; he takes off his shirt and uses it as a tourniquet while he saws off his shackled foot to free himself. Apparently, both characters completely forgot Lawrence's earlier suggestion by this point.
  • This ends up getting Played for Drama in Avengers: Infinity War courtesy of Thor. Thanos, having spent the entire movie searching for the Infinity Stones, finally gets his hands on all of them. He's prepared to cull half the universe until Thor drives Stormbreaker right into his chest, driven fully by vengeance over the slaughter of his people... and it's during those few moments that Thanos snaps his fingers.
    Thanos: You should have gone for the head...
  • The Enemy Below. Throughout almost the entire film, the German U-boat captain acts in a professional and competent manner. Just before the end, he makes several blatant mistakes (that no officer of his experience should have made) because the script needs him to do so.
    • The German U-boat captain falls for one of the oldest tricks in the book - the American ship pretending that after being torpedoed, it's helpless and can't move or attack - and decides to surface. Under the laws of war, the American captain would have been completely justified in immediately opening fire on the U-boat with his deck guns and trying to ram it. The American captain even lampshades how stupid the U-boat captain's action is: "I'm half surprised he took the bait. That's the first foolish thing he's done."
    • After warning the American ship that he would fire a second torpedo in ten minutes, the U-boat captain decides to wait on the surface for the entire ten minutes. Unfortunately, the American ship is still capable of movement and manages to ram the U-boat, leading to their mutual sinking. If the U-boat captain had just submerged after giving the American ship the warning and fired the torpedo while underwater, he could have avoided this.
    • The U-boat captain had to know that other American warships were on the way. By sticking around, even for only ten minutes, he took the risk that American ships could arrive, detect him, and continue the attack upon his vessel. If he had to make sure of the American ship's sinking, he should have fired the second torpedo immediately. If he couldn't ethically do that, he could have just slipped away quietly and continued on his way.

  • Double-subverted in Artemis Fowl: Artemis specifically refers to the "third stage of operations" as the time not to get careless, and of course things go wrong anyway.
  • Thrawn in his Star Wars Expanded Universe trilogy. The author has openly admitted that he couldn't think of any way, realistically, for the good guys to win against the relatively intelligent and cautious master strategist, and that he had to take up the Idiot Ball for the last few chapters to give the story its happy ending.
  • The Lies Of Locke Lamora has a case of this when Locke and Jean take on the Falconer, who can use magic to control people whose true name he knows. The Falconer realizes that "Lamora" is a fake name, but it never occurs to him that "Locke" is also assumed, which of course it is. Without any part of Locke's true name, the Falconer's spell fails, allowing Lock to overpower him.
  • In the novel Some Kind Of Hero, the main character spends the entire book telling everyone how dangerous her supervillain ex-boyfriend is and how under no circumstances should they touch him, even for a moment, since his superpower is to manipulate the powers of anyone he's touching, including in ways that are lethal, like removing Required Secondary Powers. At the end of the book, he's finally arrested and being sent to prison for his crimes when he asks if she'll give him a goodbye kiss. She inexplicably obliges, and he steals all her powers.
  • Congo: At the beginning, the reader is told about Karen Ross's psych profile, specifically that when she's on the verge of success she gets overconfident and makes stupid decisions. Sure enough, at the end, she sets off explosive charges to survey the lost city that lead to a volcanic eruption and destroy everything.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In the third-season episode "Maveth", the current head of Hydra is holding Simmons hostage while her partner, Fitz, is off performing a dangerous mission on his behalf. At one point, Simmons overhears the evil scientists making a mistake in their calculations and corrects them, stating explicitly that she helped only to ensure Fitz's safe return. Instead of using this leverage to his advantage, the evil mastermind, who has for decades orchestrated an elaborate plot leading up to this very moment, informs Simmons that he has no intention of letting Fitz return alive, thus eliminating any incentive for her to cooperate with him.
  • Charmed: Zankou, S7's Big Bad, is smart enough to come up with cold-blooded torture that weakens the sisters' confidence enough so he can steal the Book of Shadows. However, in the finale his IQ seems to plummet and the sisters manage to goad him into doing something stupid so they can attack him. It was a shame because he was one of the few worthy opponents they had up to that point.
  • Part of the fun of Columbo was zig-zagging this. He seems like a fool, and even seems to fall into this, but it's all an act. The irony is his act is an attempt to invoke this trope, seeming careless, stupid and oblivious so his enemies will slip up and Columbo can nail them.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Our Darkest Hour", the detective helping the team on the case, Matt Spicer, forgets protocol at the end of the episode, leading him and Morgan into Spicer's house without waiting for backup, allowing the Unsub to trap them, kill Spicer, incapacitate Morgan, and kidnap Spicer's youngest daughter. It's justified in that Spicer was dealing with an issue in his family, which the Unsub had targeted once before and killed everyone except for him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Brain of Morbius", the Doctor defeats and captures Morbius by the middle of the last episode, deciding to remove his brain and return it to the Time Lords. It's fairly logical for him to threaten Solon, the Mad Scientist responsible for giving Morbius his new body, into doing the job for him. It's less logical for him to leave Solon alone to do the job and go and check on Sarah in a room with a lock on the door. To the surprise of no-one but him, Solon locks them in and revives Morbius.
    • "The End of Time": The Big Bad tells the Master in the most insulting terms that the moment his plan (which the Master is an essential part of) succeeds, the Master will be killed. While the Master is standing next to the machine that forms another essential part of the plan. He also passes up numerous opportunities to shoot the Doctor despite having previously shown a willingness to kill people for disagreeing with him; and the Doctor isn't part of his plan. (Admittedly, said villain is the definition of arrogant...)
    • The Monks trilogy of Series 10 technically has Third Episode Stupidity. "Extremis" establishes them as all-seeing, Reality Warper villains planning for every possible contingency in their plan to conquer Earth, which pays off for them in "The Pyramid at the End of the World". They show up at a point where humanity is doomed to be wiped out — unless they give up their freedom to the Monks — and the Doctor is in a vulnerable state due to blindness that he won't admit to others. The Doctor stops the crisis but ends up endangered, and his companion Bill sells out humanity to save him in hopes he can save the day again! With that, "The Lie of the Land" picks up six months later with the Monks having brainwashed most of humanity into believing them to have always been benevolent superiors. But despite their amazing powers they manage to miss the Doctor's faked loyalty to them, his companion-assisted escape, and the resulting plan to undo them, and put up very little of a fight against the good guys, with only a few tertiary characters perishing. Once their hold over humanity is broken, they... leave. The episode works to justify this by having a character who's previously dealt with the Monks explain that they don't think through holding on to their power once they have it, but that still comes after two episodes in which they were nigh-omnipotent and the Doctor legitimately had no hope of outwitting them.
  • Game of Thrones: In "The Long Night", the Night King feels the need to personally assassinate Bran Stark, despite the fact that his death will destroy all other undead and there being no stated reason as to why he specifically needs to kill Bran. It's even acknowledged by the heroes that there's no way they can defeat the army of the dead in a straight-up battle and their only chance is to kill the Night King before they are overrun. Had he just stayed off the field and let his minions deal with Bran, or at least waited until the battle was over to do it himself, he would have won. And it's not like he even needs to worry about Bran escaping, since Bran is paralyzed from the waist down and can barely move, and the Night King had previously put a mark on him that lets him always know where Bran is. But despite all that, for no clearly explained reason, he still insists on showing up in the middle of the battle, giving the heroes their Instant-Win Condition.
  • Harmon Rab and Sarah Mackenzie of JAG are often guilty of this. When it came time for the episode climax, they often confronted the bad guy alone. They are partners yet seem to forget that when it comes to one of the very reasons law enforcement has a partner system. Especially since they are lawyers and not NCIS agents. Mac was a Marine, and a badass one at that, but still.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Empath". Once Kirk, Spock and Gem reach the Vians' lab and McCoy is released from his restraints, Kirk and Spock stand around for quite a while talking about McCoy's imminent death and other things. Either Kirk should have ordered Spock to use the Vians' device to transport all four of them to the Enterprise so McCoy could get emergency medical attention in sickbay, or (since Spock is more intelligent than Kirk), Spock should either have done so on his own or at least suggested to Kirk that they do so. If Spock had tried and failed, that would have been acceptable since he had already suggested it could happen. Of course, if they had tried to do so, either the device would have failed or the Vians would have shown up to stop the attempt, but for them both to not even try to do so was extremely foolish and thoughtless.

    Video Games 
  • This happens every now and then in the Batman: Arkham Series.
    • Hugo Strange in Batman: Arkham City. He spends most of the game and the prequel comics matching wits with Batman, who has a lot of trouble genuinely messing with his plans because Strange has studied him so thoroughly. In the last third of the game, Strange takes a hostage over a video screen, forcing Batman to stay still while he lectures him and his goons fill the room. Instead of forcing Batman to not fight back for the sake of the hostage, Strange just lets him go, allowing Batman to knock out all of his men. And despite how familiar he is with Batman's tactics, when Batman begins climbing the tower to his control room and his thugs can't locate him, Strange just assumes he's fallen off. Arguably, his lackluster security and decision to control the prison with WayneTech equipment and having his headquaters on a tower without emergency exits extend to a larger timespan that the third act, but his actions near the climax are more notable.
      • Not to mention the fact that Strange reveals in the opening cutscene that he knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman, but fails to use this as a way to stop Batman's advance. That he doesn't do it at any time is bad enough, but it's especially egregious in the climax, considering it's one of the few times Batman is taking direct action against Strange's plan, rather than dealing with a peripheral issue.
    • Batman: Arkham Knight ultimately plays this trope straight, but not without some heavy zig-zagging first. By the endgame, Scarecrow has scored a major victory by covering Gotham City in the Cloudburst fear toxin, and plans to do the same to the entire American East Coast. Scarecrow is content to sit back and watch Batman suffer; but his Dragon, the titular Arkham Knight, who knows full well how dangerous Batman can be and specifically joined up with Scarecrow so he can get even with the Bat, is having none of it and decides to go after Batman himself. After the Knight reveals himself to be Jason Todd and is taken out by Batman, Scarecrow continues with his initial To the Pain plan as though nothing happened. Unbeknownst to Scarecrow, however, The Joker, who has been serving as Batman's Enemy Within for much of the game, begins taking over Batman's psyche the more Bruce is exposed to the fear gas. Even though Scarecrow manages to get Batman to unmask himself on national television, he still loses because he's so intent on breaking Batman through fear that he inadvertently allows Batman to win through fear toxin; first by allowing Joker to take over, then by showing him a Bad Future where the Monster Clown Attention Whore dies alone and forgotten, allowing Bruce to regain control.
  • In BlazBlue, Hazama/Yuuki Terumi fell hard on this trope. He spent BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger standing on the sidelines of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, memorizing everyone's patterns, carefully manipulating events, setting up lots and lots of preparations and playing Xanatos Speed Chess with Rachel Alucard, one of the few besides himself with Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory, for the chance of breaking the time loop with a head start, all without letting slip that he's a bad guy. And at the end of the first act/game, the loop is finally broken, all of his plans play out smoothly and everything ends in his advantage... In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift he has a spell come into effect that allows him to observe all timelines of the Continuum Shift, effectively allowing him to choose the exact timeline in which the protagonists hold the Idiot Ball, he successfully forges Kusanagi: Sword of the Godslayer, outmaneuvers Takamagahara, and finally gets to declare himself the winner of the second act/game. Hey, I told you he was Crazy-Prepared... However, come BlazBlue: Chronophantasma he makes several stupid, amateurish mistakes that ultimately end up getting him killed by the heroes midway through the third act/game... In BlazBlue: Central Fiction, the final act/game of the series, it turns out that he barely survived, and while he does wise up, he's ultimately forced to wait in the shadows for a perfect opportunity to rear its face before he can act... once he does, however, he achieves a harrowing Near-Villain Victory and is only narrowly defeated and killed after a long, hard-fought battle.
  • Elohim Eternal: The Babel Code: By the endgame, the party has the Babel code and Ruthia is the only one other than Og and Sihon who can use it. Unfortunately, Joshwa foolishly decides to trust Lamech when the party returns to Jericho, and he gives the pieces of the code to Lamech. This is despite all signs that point to Lamech being the one who planted the infernos for the Kosmokraters. As a result, Anat steals the pieces and forces Ruthia to open Mount Sinai.
  • Knight Eternal: If Dylan inspected the corpse in the southern cell in Zamaste's castle more closely, he would have realized that the corpse isn't Uno and he could have convinced Stray to stand down without a fight. As a result, Stray ends up as one part of the Final Boss duo in order to avenge Uno.
  • Rise of the Third Power: While Rowan himself is an Idiot Hero, the party as a whole makes a fatal mistake after landing in Arkadya. Despite knowing that they're being followed by Sparrow, the party continues toward their destination without coming up with any countermeasures, leading to the entire Resistance HQ being exposed to the Arkadyans and destroyed. As a result, most of their allies are dead or imprisoned, raising the stakes for the rest of the game. Fittingly, this happens just before the final act of the game.
  • Sam and Max Save the World: Situation: Comedy: The final puzzle would be much easier if Sam and Max could just leave their seats to knock Myra unconscious, but the sheer force of personality of "America's Mom" means that when Myra tells them to stay seated, Sam can't bring himself to break the social conventions of a talk show. Meanwhile Max, who normally wouldn't care about that sort of thing, would rather take the chance to talk about himself at length.

    Visual Novels 
  • Yoshiyuki in Da Capo II develops this during the Koko route. While he's never super perceptive about love, in this route he basically goes out of his way to be as incompetent as possible about the matter until the point the stupidity starts to edge into jerkassery. The most likely reason is that there's no real dramatic story set up for Koko; she loves Yoshiyuki, pretty much always has and has nothing seriously wrong with her life.
  • In Fate/stay night, this is the (self-acknowledged) critical weakness of Rin - she gets all the little things right, gets all the middle-sized things right, and then screws it up when it really counts. This helps contrast her with Shirou, who's the opposite.
  • Ace Attorney pretty much relies on this trope- just about every case in the series would end with the real villain getting away, except they'll make one or two major slip ups during a testimony as a witness. If they simply had better thought out lies (and often they do *until that moment*), or just refused testimony in cases of those who have that ability, then they'd never be caught.

    Western Animation 
  • In the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko tells Katara that he can beat Azula alone, which turns out to be true and is about to one-hit Azula the same way he did a few episodes back with his father (and at that time he was unprepared). Then he makes the mistake of taunting her. Katara makes the mistake of standing too close to the action. Result? Azula fires at Katara and Zuko is taken out of commission shielding her from the lightning, leaving Katara to finish what he started.
    • It wasn't the taunt itself that was Zuko's mistake. He taunted Azula for the specific purpose of drawing out her lightning attack. You can even see Zuko preparing to redirect the lightning. Zuko's mistake (aside from just wanting to show off that he had one technique that Azula didn't) was that he underestimated how lucid Azula still was. Even in her Villainous Breakdown, she still thought clearly enough to realize that targeting Katara, not Zuko, was the best move.
    • Luckily he survives, and because there are standard sportsmanship rules in an Agni Kai, Zuko still won the moment she attacked a spectator. However, you've still got a paranoid lunatic shooting lightning everywhere and, Agni Kai or not, she has to be stopped, so on with the show!

    Real Life 
  • The Siege of Syracuse during the Second Punic War. To defend his city, Archimedes had designed defensive weapons such as ship-sinking cranes, ballistae, onagers, and possibly even a heat ray made of focused mirrors. They were so successful that eventually the defenders became overconfident and got drunk on duty, during a festival of Artemis, allowing a group of Romans to breach their defenses and take control of the outer walls.