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Too Powerful to Live

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A villain who is just too powerful to exist for more than an episode or two. If they aren't killed now, their presence will dominate the entire story forever.

If the writers try re-using them, the result is almost always Villain Decay.

One noted tendency of these characters is establishing their power by laying the smack down on the incumbent main villain, emphasizing just how dire a threat they are. Less commonly, rather than a new villain come to town it can be the main villain who gets a power boost, which if not explicitly temporary is then quickly destroyed or discarded before they can truly exploit it.


A villainous version of Deus Exit Machina. The heroic version of this trope is Too Cool to Live. See also How to Stop the Deus ex Machina. Compare Too Happy to Live and Too Cool to Live.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Zagred from Black Clover. Up to his introduction he's easily the most powerful being introduced thus far, with his Word Soul Magic able to do anything he says and summon monsters from the underworld. Had he succeeded in escaping to the living world, he would have spread rampant chaos. Thus, shortly after he appears he's killed thanks to the combined efforts of numerous characters.
  • Dragon Ball: All the main villains from Dragon Ball Z to Dragon Ball Super, except Vegeta, and Frieza during the end of Super, fall into this:
    • Frieza was so powerful that it took a legendary Super Saiyan to bring him down. Even scarier, he was that powerful naturally. When he finally buckled down and trained he got close to Beerus' level. Now revived, he plans to re-establish his Empire and buckle up and train for years before his final battle.
    • Cell was the Ultimate Life Form, capable of destroying a solar system, regenerating From a Single Cell and becoming stronger from it. Had Gohan not annihilated every one of his cells in their final Beam-O-War, Cell would have just revived too powerful to be killed off by anyone on Earth.
    • Broly. Despite his tendency to avoid death with little explanation, he is too powerful and insane to be allowed to live. His power rapidly rises and he is prone reckless rampages. The only way to put a stop to him is to put him down. And it takes the surface of the sun to kill him. His Canon Immigrant counterpart was also about to be killed off, as he was growing exponentially powerful every second of the battle, but fortunately he was a good guy and his friends timely saved him from being annihilated. Even Goku says he's the potential to be far more powerful than Beerus.
    • Majin Buu would have literally destroyed the universe if he wasn't killed. He also got more powerful by absorbing people and had regeneration powers that put Cell to shame. He was technically never completely killed either, with the Good Buu surviving on while Kid Buu was reincarnated into a good, human version of himself named Uub. Thus it is impossible for the pure evil Kid/Super Buu to ever exist again.
    • Zamasu of Dragon Ball Super. Even by Dragon Ball standards, where villains getting killed is the typical outcome, for Zamasu, even if it were possible, simply sending him to the afterlife would not have been enough. He had to be erased from existence entirely to ensure his threat was neutralized.
    • Vegito is a heroic example. If this guy had stayed around, the Buu Saga would have basically ended in five minutes. And you would've written off the main character and his main foil at the same time. The same principle applies in Super, where he basically had Fused Zamasu on the ropes and if he had lasted the hour, would have killed him, though the jury's out if he would have been able to handle the Eldritch Abomination Fused Zamasu's spirit turned into after his physical body was destroyed. Super reveals why: A Fusion Dance lasts 30 minutes unless the fused are knocked out or use too much power which drains their time. Potara lasts a full hour to non-Kais with the same restriction of power conservation; it is only permanent to the Supreme Kais.
    • Yamoshi, the ancient and original Super Saiyan hero from the legends. Vegeta speaks of the original Super Saiyan as having power so great that he destroyed himself, power so volatile he couldn't control it any more. As powerful as Goku or Vegeta become it never gets to the point they can't control it, meaning this is just part of the legend itself and not an actual fact.
  • Naomi Misora from Death Note died quickly because the Oba realized had they lived, Light wouldn't have been such a threat; she would have discovered him too quickly. They'd made the character too smart and put them in too good a position to figure out Light's secret had they lived just a little longer.
  • Shakugan no Shana: Sabrac zigzags this trope. He shows up for a single epic battle in the second season before disappearing again. He has no interest in the final battle after accomplishing his task. In Season 3 he fully participates in the final war, but by that time almost everyone is aware of how exactly to defeat him, thanks to Yuji Sakai. Then he chooses a battleground that prevents the protagonists from using their previous method of defeating him. Additionally, Sabrac serves Yuji in Season 3, who had become a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Ultimately, Sabrac holds his own against three of the most skilled and powerful Flame Haze in the series, only being defeated due to a moment of distraction. Even then, he could have saved himself had he not chosen to die.
  • Max Kaien from The Five Star Stories, while not actually a villain, is definitely too overpowered to let him roam freely. So after being allowed a run as a Game-Breaker in his home world, he was rather quickly Put on a Bus and shipped into the Alternate Universe, where he came out as somewhat more balanced.
  • Mariko in Elfen Lied is by far the strongest character in the story when she's introduced; that's why she has bombs implanted everywhere in her body, that will detonate if a code is not transmitted every thirty minutes. And that's why she dies when facing Lucy after a Heel–Face Turn. She'd have simply won, and that would have ended the story.
    • Lucy herself in the manga's finale, when her vectors become large enough to cover entire continents. Naturally, using so much power essentially rots her body and kills her within a few minutes.
  • Nanami Yasuri from Katanagatari is literally this. She dies in episode 7 during her battle with Shichika when her frail body can no longer withstand her full power.
  • Reinforce/The Darkness of the Book of Darkness from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, an Eldritch Abomination Omnicidal Maniac capable of destroying worlds and in the form of Reinforce, easily the most powerful mage that ever appeared in the franchise. Naturally, once it appeared, it quickly became the only main villain in the series who is made Deader Than Dead with no chance of survival, which sadly includes poor Reinforce, despite her Heel–Face Turn. In universe, this is because the Defense Program of the Book of Darkness couldn't be stopped permanently unless she died, but from a meta perspective it's because she had massive Story-Breaker Power and she would have curb stomped all the other villains, had she ever started being on the good side.
  • Sara from Samurai Champloo. She's easily the second strongest character in the series, giving both Mugen and Jin a run for their money. Letting Mugen kill her in their second fight was the first time he regretted killing someone.
  • The Chimera Ant King Meruem from Hunter × Hunter, along with his Royal Guard. They were easily the most powerful beings in the world, in the human-inhabited part anyway, and none of the human Hunters sent against them could beat them in a fair fight. So they don't fight fair. Gon kills Neferpitou with a Deus ex Machina Deadly Upgrade (and still loses an arm to her), and Netero kills the rest with a suicidal (and poisonous!) bomb. Had Meruem lived, he would've either dominated the world or (had the Heel–Face Turn he was teetering on the edge of happened) rendered all of the main characters redundant.
  • Kars from the second arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure obtains Complete Immortality and Adaptive Ability combined with Voluntary Shapeshifting cranked Up to Eleven at the climax, thus achieving the status of Ultimate Lifeform. He also obtained the hero's power of The Ripple, only hundreds of times more powerful, making him both immune to it and capable of using it on a much greater scale. He's only defeated when [[spoiler: Joseph uses the mother of all Indy Ploys to blast him into space shortly afterwards, as well as making it look like he planned the whole thing (He didn't but he would say anything to troll Kars.). Kars tries to return to earth using air jets, but this only makes the situation worse as his body freezes over. Unable to change his course, he now floats inert through the cosmos. Begging for death but unable to die, his higher brain functions shut down.
  • There are characters in One Piece that fall into this trope very well.
    • Of course, Gold D. Roger the previous pirate king himself was so powerful, there were only a few people in the world that could challenge him. And seemingly none who could actually defeat him. Despite having no Devil Fruit powers whatsoever, this man conquered the Grand Line in record time but eventually allowed himself to be killed due to an illness that would eventually take his life anyway.
    • Edward Newgate aka Whitebeard himself is definitely this. This man was the owner of one of the most powerful Devil Fruits ever and is one of the few people to have challenge Gold Roger himself on equal terms. His Devil Fruit, again, so powerful that it has the ability to shake the entire world! Whitebeard definitely has earned the title World's Strongest Man despite being way past his glory days.
  • Any major villain from One-Punch Man is strong enough to pose a major threat to the world at large. While the Sea King certainly would have been defeated by one of the stronger S-rank heroes (as they've shown themselves capable of killing Demon-level threats like him daily), Boros is strong enough to destroy the entire planet (and by extension, almost every hero who isn't Zombieman), and Garou outright defeats almost every single hero and monster he goes up against. The only reason any of them are beaten is because they had the misfortune to go up against Saitama, who can take nearly anyone down with a single punch, and the latter two were able to force him to fight "semi-seriously", which is essentially the ultimate proof of how utterly powerful they are.
  • My Hero Academia: Twice, as pointed out several times. Because his quirk can create infinite doubles of anyone or anything (including a High-End Nomu that took the combined efforts of Japan's top two heroes to defeat), the only thing keeping him from being an absolute Game-Breaker and overwhelmning all of Japan with a limitless army, is his own trauma, caused by an Ambiguous Clone Ending, that leaves him afraid to use his quirk to its fullest potential - a trauma he largely heals from during the Meta Liberation Army Arc. Hawks, the heroes' inside man in the League, recognized this and made a priority of taking him down first when the heroes attack the villains' base. However, when it becomes clear that Twice is too loyal be talked down, Hawks is left with little other choice than to kill him on the spot, before he can singlehandedly turn the tide of the fighting.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Shirogane was possibly the most powerful being on Earth, but before the first chapter ends has most of his power sealed away in a scroll, after which his goal is trying to retrieve it. He ends up doing so after his Heel–Face Turn, but quickly has it taken away permanently by Sosuke's Vampiric Draining. Before he can really take advantage of it, Matsuri exploits the weakness of Sosuke's absorption power to kill him.

    Comic Books 
  • Doomsday's entire purpose was to kill Superman, so the writers could spend several plot arcs dealing with a post-Superman world. Naturally Doomsday had to die in the process, or else the focus would've needed to be the rest of the heroes finding some way to stop him, instead of the intended story about how the world deals with the loss of its greatest hero. Of course, he managed to reappear a couple of times subsequently, with a bit of Villain Decay.
  • The Authority encounters this type of villain fairly frequently. Their usual response is to kill said villain after a huge epic battle, since if they were allowed to live they'd endanger millions. As said villains never get around to killing any of the Authority, this has the side-effect of making the heroes look considerably more bloodthirsty than the villains.
  • Composite Superman/Batman had the combined powers of the Legion of Superheroes, over 20 powers in addition to those similar to Superman, including invisibility, telepathy, matter transmutation, and others. If not for his powers losing their charge, he would be ruling the universe.
  • This is why the Big Bads of most comic Crisis Crossovers die by the end of the story. If they do reappear as dead characters are wont to do in comics, they usually show up years later and rarely at that. The villains of DCU "Crisis" crossovers are especially notorious examples and suffer pretty spectacular deaths:
    • The Anti Monitor, the Big Bad of Crisis on Infinite Earths. A cosmic superbeing who used his powers over antimatter to destroy the Multiverse. In the end he was blasted with positive matter, Darkseid's Omega Beams, and was punched into a sun by Superman. He didn't return until decades later in real time, when the Multiverse was reconstructed. And at the end of that crossover, an entire planet blew up in his face and he got punched by Superboy Prime halfway across the galaxy.
    • Alexander Luthor Jr., the Big Bad of Infinite Crisis. He was essentially a superpowered Lex Luthor (okay he was technically the son of an alternate universe Lex Luthor). After a year of flawlessly manipulating the heroes and villains of the DCU, he nearly destroyed the current universe to create his own "perfect" Earth. In the end he was completely defeated and was brutally murdered in a filthy alley by the Joker.
    • After years of sitting on his throne and slowly decaying, Darkseid finally crossed this threshold in Final Crisis. The Anti-Life Equation granted Darkseid absolute control over all. And his very existence destabilized the fabric of space/time; essentially dragging all reality with him to his inevitable death. In the end he got shot with a radion bullet (the Kryptonite to the New Gods) and by Batman no less, one of the staunchest defenders of the One Rule), had his soul taken away by the New Gods' psychopomp, the Black Racer, and had his consciousness shattered by Superman's singing.
      • The other big villain of Final Crisis, Mandrakk the Dark Monitor, didn't survive the end of the story either.
      • Yuga Khan, Darkseid's father, is even more evil and powerful than his son. He has tried to breach the secrets of the Source Wall, got merged with it, then managed to break free, returned to take his planet back - very easily... and right after, attempted to access the Source Wall again.
    • The Sun-Eater in Final Night. It's not a villain so much as a force of nature.
  • Phoenix from X-Men, especially once they decided it was not a separate entity from Jean Grey. This instance was essentially editorially-mandated, as the original plan in The Dark Phoenix Saga was to depower her. Jim Shooter essentially said that Jean was Too Powerful to Live... as a hero, so either she become a villain, be imprisoned or killed.
  • Vulcan aka Gabriel Summers, the Big Bad of Deadly Genesis and War of Kings. He's an Omega-level energy manipulator, which basically means he's a Physical God - and that he'd be a borderline Reality Warper if he actually had two braincells to rub together.
  • One-shot villains in Doctor Strange stories tend to be beings so absurdly powerful that Strange can't even fight them, let alone defeat them. The best he can do is bluff them into leaving this world alone, convince them Earth isn't worth the bother, strike some sort of bargain, or distract them somehow. Try not to think about how frighteningly impermanent that solution is, nor what would happen if two or three of them decided to try again... Not to mention the fact that these are villains so powerful that Doctor Strange is unable to put up even the slightest semblance of a fight against them.

    Films — Animated 
  • Unicron from Transformers: The Movie. He appears without any explanation, shakes up the status quo with a great deal of damage and destruction, and is finally polite enough to go boom at the end of the movie. One of the film's highlights comes when he asserts his authority over an already-dying Megatron:
    Megatron: Nobody summons Megatron...
    Unicron: Then it pleases me to be the first.
    • However, his floating head was apparently still alive as a new moon for Cybertron, and it tried to get Starscream's ghost to resurrect its body.
  • Jafar in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar as an evil genie. After Genie explains that the only way to get rid of a genie for good is to destroy their lamp, Aladdin decides that they have to destroy Jafar once and for all. Jasmine even mentions beforehand that "He's so powerful!".
  • Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3, who becomes so absurdly powerful by the end of the movie that Po not only kills him, but renders him Deader Than Dead to ensure that he's not coming back.
  • The Storm King in My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), who enslaves Canterlot, steals the magic of all four princesses, and would have taken over the rest of the show if he wasn't killed.
  • Lord Business and his real world counterpart, The Man Upstairs, in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is put to the side because he could potentially moderate or even end the conflict before it got out of hand. So, he spends the movie golfing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Possibly the reason why most of the villains of the 1989-1997 Batman film franchise like the Joker and Penguin were killed off; having them live might have undermined Batman's effectiveness in defeating them.
  • In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gandalf invokes this when asked to explain his support of the dwarven expedition. While Smaug is content to sleep on a mountain of gold, Gandalf is worried that Sauron may be returning, and an alliance between the two is too big a threat for him to ignore.
  • Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand disintegrates an entire army before Wolverine kills her.
    • The Future Sentinels from X-Men: Days of Future Past also qualify. Changing the past to prevent their creation was the only way to get rid of them.
  • This happens sometimes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • Both Guardians of the Galaxy films had villains (a warlord with an Infinity Stone and a literal celestial God) that were too powerful to let live by the time they were killed. Yondu Udonta also counts since even with downgraded equipment, he's shown to exceed the entire rest of the Guardians combined in physical combat ability and can easily kill an entire ship-full of hardened Ravagers without damaging a single piece of infrastructure.
    • The second Avengers movie had the titular Ultron, who had to go because he could make copies of himself and could realistically destroy the whole planet.
    • And again with Hela, from Thor: Ragnarok, who was so powerful that even Thor and Loki together could barely deal any lasting damage. Word of God is that, at least while she's on Asgard, not even Thanos could've beaten Hela.
    • Infinity War spends the vast majority of its runtime demonstrating what happens if a villain like Thanos isn't killed off: he wins. Half the universe dies. Conversely, Endgame kills off that version of Thanos in the first 20 minutes, though it was clear Thanos was depowered due to using the Stones multiple times and on the verge of dying anyways, and the version of him that fights the heroes in the Final Battle is a younger, less experienced, non-Infinity Stone-powered Thanos from an alternate timeline. And even then he had to be killed off, otherwise he would have wiped out the entire universe.

  • Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes is a good example of this. It's implied that Holmes has been fighting him for years, but he and Holmes kill each other at the end of the story that introduces him. Were it not for the fan outcry that would have been the last Sherlock Holmes story. Moriarty is only referred to in two later stories.
  • Sourcery: Coin the sourcerer goes through a Heel–Face Turn, and realizes he is literally too powerful to exist in the universe without breaking it. So he makes his own, and goes to live there. It's implied that this is the eventual fate of every sourcerer.
  • An in-universe example of this is why the Jaghut race is almost entirely extinct in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Every one of them was an obscenely powerful ice mage, and while most were peaceful, laid-back hermits, there was very rarely one who wasn't. The 'Jaghut Tyrants', as they were called, would cause untold death and misery, reshape the geography of entire continents, and often require literal divine intervention to bring them down, and so eventually, a civilisation of superhumans (well, super-Neanderthals) called the Tlan Imass decided to turn themselves into The Undead so they could take as many millennia as they needed to wipe the Jaghut from the face of the planet, to remove the slightest possibility that any one of them could become or sire another Tyrant. The morality of this is heavily debated in-universe, but the rare few who've seen Jaghut ice magic in person tend to be of the opinion that the T'Lan Imass (as they're now called) had a point.
  • In an unusual heroic example, Lash following her Heel–Face Turn in White Night. She had millennia of knowledge, immense magical power, a Photographic Memory, and can communicate with Harry at the speed of thought. Had she not committed a Heroic Sacrifice, she could have been a total game breaker for the good guys.
    • A straight villainous example appears in the Peace Talks/Battle Ground two-parter. Ethniu, the Last Titan, is not only so overwhelmingly powerful she can swat aside Queen Mab (winter personified, a living force of nature with global reach) without effort, and not only does she wield the Eye of Balor, a magical Wave-Motion Gun, she’s armored in Titanic Bronze, a metal that makes her Nigh-Invulnerable to all but pure Heavenly or Hellish power. Also, she’s bent on tearing down the Masquerade. Given that she could destroy the series in about a week, she ends Battle Grounds as a Sealed Evil in a Can minus the Eye of Balor, after being worn down by all the Scratch Damage she took while demolishing the alliance of supernatural heavyweights (including figures like Mab) assembled to stop her. Notably, she isn’t the only character with that kind of power, but all the rest are metaphysically restricted on how they can use it and so can’t upset the setting like she can.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Chairman from Walker, Texas Ranger may qualify. He is the head villain - played by Michael Ironside, no less - for a full four-episode Story Arc, puts Walker and his loved ones through the ordeal of their lives, then dies.
  • Species 8472 does this in Star Trek: Voyager, starting things off with a spectacular use of The Worf Effect on the Borg (see below) and forcing the Collective into an Enemy Mine with the heroes.
  • The Borg in their original appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, up to the end of "The Best of Both Worlds." After that, the inevitable Villain Decay got them.
  • Plenty of examples appear over the course of Doctor Who's extremely long run; the list of virtually unstoppable Physical Gods the Doctor has defeated and then never mentioned again including Sutekh, Fenric and The Beast.
  • Arthur Petrelli on Heroes. After gaining godlike powers, he's killed by Sylar, but not before convincing Nathan to go along with his plan
    • Surprisingly averted by Sylar himself, despite his status as the most powerful living superhuman, as the writers have wisely avoided giving him any outright Game-Breaker powers like Matt's mind-control or Hiro's space-time manipulation. He mostly relies on telekinesis, regeneration, lightning blasts, and shapeshifting (with flight later thrown in) which makes him tough, but not quite a walking automatic I Win button. Indeed while he's proven to be a very skilled fighter many of his powers are geared more towards Superdickery rather than straight up combat, in keeping with his Wild Card status.
    • There is also a character in one episode who could produce black holes, and while he wasn't ridiculously overpowered, it's made clear that he could kill Sylar in an instant. Bennett tries to get him to do this, but he just sucks himself into a hole instead.
    • Averted with Peter Petrelli. By the third season, Peter (who could mimic and retain powers just by being near others) was the most powerful cast member, with a bunch of Game-Breaker powers even Sylar didn't have. Then Arthur Petrelli showed up and took all those powers away, leaving Peter depowered for the remainder of Volume 3 and most of Volume 4. At the end of Volume 4, he took some of the Super Serum, and gained a much weaker version of his old ability - he could copy any one power through contact, but only one at a time.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the one-off Made-for-TV Movie Thirdspace, the Thirdspace Aliens. Much of their shtick involved influencing the minds of anyone who spent too much time near their Artifact of Doom. Destroying it reversed the effects.
    • And invoked in-universe by Sheridan during the season itself, concerning the war with the Shadows and the Vorlons; he knew even if they won (by picking a side, which is what both elder races wanted), it'd start up all over again a thousand years later unless they found a way to get rid of both Precursors permanently this time around.
  • The Judge in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An unkillable demon who could fry alive anyone with a trace of humanity in them? Yep, by the end of the episode he's been dismembered by rocket launcher.
  • In the season 6 finale of Supernatural, Castiel rose a few power levels too many by absorbing all the souls in Purgatory. He quickly declares himself a god in his supermode, and blows up an Archangel with a finger snap. He loses his powers barely an episode later to be replaced by another set of less powerful baddies, and the Winchesters actually have to involve the cosmic Grim Reaper to offer any meaningful opposition to the villain.
  • Kilgrave of Jessica Jones (2015). He starts out with a Story-Breaker Power, because even though he is only one man, an entire assembly of both Badass Normal and "Gifted" people have trouble stopping him and his Compelling Voice abilities. And this only gets worse by the end, where his powers are greatly upgraded and their range expanded. If Kilgrave had lived beyond the first season, even if he were Put on a Bus, it would cast a huge shadow of doubt across the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, as anyone could be a Kilgrave agent. While the greater franchise as a whole likely has characters immune or resistant to his powers (Thor and Hulk alone, for example, have immunity to viruses like the one that powers Kilgrave), there's still way too much room for doubt.
  • Hades of Once Upon a Time is hands-down the series' most powerful villain, but didn't appear until season 5's latter half. He soon forges a weapon known as the Olympian Crystal, likely the strongest weapon in the series, bar none, meaning he'd be able to kill literally anyone and banish their soul. If Zelena hadn't used it on him and sent his soul to an unknown fate, he would have soon taken over Storybrooke, and likely the whole planet afterwards.
  • Gabriel Ashlocke from Mutant X. He is the first New Mutant, a total psychopath with numerous powers from multiple categories. He is introduced as the new Big Bad at the end of the first season... then the second season starts with him attempting to prevent his own Superpower Meltdown. Five episodes in, he fails.
  • In Kamen Rider Wizard, every time the villain Phoenix dies and comes back he is noticeably stronger. He doesn't just adapt—he becomes stronger in all areas. Best shown when it took three finishing moves in a row in Water Dragon Style to take him down a second time. Seriously, when you think about it he would have eventually become a god far stronger than even the White Wizard if he was allowed to last the whole series. Before the halfway mark, he's kicked into the Sun itself, where he'll never escape the gravity.

  • A less lethal example: in Association Football, and especially the World Cup, a common method of dealing with any player considered "the world's best" is to kick the crap out of them and hope something breaks. The most infamous example was the treatment of Pelé during the 1962 and 1966 World Cups. In '62 he was injured in the group stages, but Brazil went on to defend their title anyway; in '66 the same thing happened, but this time Brazil crashed out in the group stages and Pelé was so upset about being constantly roughed up that he refused to play in a World Cup ever again (he later reversed his decision and won a record third title with Brazil in 1970).
    • In 2014, Neymar was considered The Ace of the host Brazilian team, and one of the world's best players. In the quarter-final against Colombia, he endured several tough tackles before finally succumbing to injury and having to be stretchered off. Not only that, captain and defensive leader Thiago Silva picked up a ban for the semi-final, leaving David Luiz to lead the defensive line. Luiz has been critisized for lacking discipline in the defense. In the semi-final, without their star player as well as their captain, Brazil promptly suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in World Cup history.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • This is the reason those Primarchs who survived the Horus Heresy are all gone missing. The universe isn't quite so crapsacky if there are several fifteen-feet-tall Nigh-Invulnerable gods of war running around destroying entire armies by themselves. Chaos has a similar issue: Of their surviving Primarchs, only one averts Orcus on His Throne, and he serves a god who rewards losing your own troops as much as killing the enemy's (and other Chaos troops are fair game), so Status Quo Is God remains firmly in place.
    • The God-Emperor of Mankind, as his name indicates, is the most powerful human psyker in humanity's existence. Even reduced to a corpse, his spirit continues to act as a psychic lighthouse that allows FTL travel, bind psykers so that their heads don't always explode when they use their powers, and generally keep the human race from completely falling apart. When he was alive and well, humanity was the dominating force in the galaxy.
    • In later editions, one of the Primarchs was actually brought back... and to compensate for the fact that he's horrified at the current state of the Imperium and taking steps to correct it, the galaxy is now in fact worse off: A series of colossal Warp storms has cut the galaxy in half, preventing a great deal of the Imperium from communicating with Terra.

  • Elizabeth at the end of BioShock Infinite. She unlocks the ability to travel the multiverse, at any point, and any time possible, even perceiving time as it is. She is technically the most powerful being in the entire franchise, capable to undo any event possible. So, to counter this, every single Elizabeth 'drowns' Booker, erasing her memory eventually, then she is killed by Atlas just as her memory comes back to her.
  • The Statesman Task Force in City of Heroes is about his nemesis Lord Recluse doing this to himself. When you finally get to confront him, he uses a machine that taps into most of the superheroes in the world (except for your team, conveniently) and becomes way, way stronger than normal. The tricky part is surviving his assault while taking out the machines so he can be brought back down to normal and defeated.
  • Android 21 from Dragon Ball Fighterz. An android more powerful than Cell, with all of Majin Buu's abilities, and the ability to gain massive leaps in power just by eating someone? No wonder she dies in every arc.
  • Lancer in Fate/stay night. Gae Bolg gives him a low-cost, instant-kill, guaranteed-hit ultimate attack, and also inflicts wounds that don't heal as long as his lance still exists. He's also extremely fast, extremely skilled, and Irish. You don't mess with the Irish, especially when they're wearing blue spandex. After he shows up, he's immediately put on a bus until 90% of the first two routes, and then Heaven's Feel drops a bridge on him. The two times he did get to use the attack, his targets pulled out hax of their own to just narrowly avoid a fatality anyway. He was under explicit orders to not fight any battles to the death, and it's generally held that, if he had his original master, they would have easily won the war.
    • There are many examples in Fate, but rather than use Too Powerful to Live, the author prefers "Too Powerful To Ever Use Their Full Potential (Until It's Too Late)." Word of God states that Gilgamesh is easily the strongest Servant, but he never pulls out his full strength until it's too late. If he fought seriously from the start, even Lancer and Bazett would have been helpless before him.
    • In the spinoff Light Novel Fate/Apocrypha there's Saber of Black, Siegfried. He's got ridiculous defense with only one weak point, a leaf-shaped mark on his back. On top of that, he's got amazing strength, speed, swordsmanship, and a powerful Sword Beam. He willingly sacrifices himself not even a fourth of the way through the story, and if he hadn't he would have likely defeat all the other Servants not named Vlad III, Achilles, or Karna in a straight fight.
  • A heroic example occurs with Metroplex in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Being a robot that transforms into a city, it's natural that incredibly few things could ever hope to bring him down in a straight fight. However, his very presence strains both sides, as the Autobots are forced to use a lot of energon to keep him running. He eventually gives his own energy up to help fuel the Ark so that the Autobots could fly off-planet and hopefully lure Megatron with them to give Cybertron time to recover.
  • Azrael (aka The Genocider, The Mad Dog, and The King of Atrocity) from BlazBlue Chronophantasma is easily one of the strongest members of the cast, if not the single strongest. By his own admission, he's barely using an eighth of his true power; even then, he easily either decimates strong characters like Valkenhayn or forces incredibly powerful characters like Hakumen to flee. Were it not for the fact he doesn't even care about the main villains, just wanting a good fight, and Kokonoe trapping him into the space between dimensions, there wouldn't be much of a plot to salvage after he's had his "fill". And it's revealed in BlazBlue: Central Fiction that he broke out of said prison with his bare hands, and the only thing keeping him from going on an utter rampage is the possibility that he might finally get someone decent to fight.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3's The Boss was feared by the CIA for having overwhelming charisma and powerful connections across all superpowers to go with their unknown agenda, so they spent billions of dollars and concocted a scheme that killed thousands of America and Russia's elite just to assassinate The Boss and make it look like an international mess-up. The official story is that The Boss defected and had to be killed by the one person who could take The Boss down clean and efficiently: Snake. The real story is that she was supposed to recover Volgin's super-inheritance, a 100 billion dollar cache of untraceable, non-controllable funds that could easily resurrect the Philosophers from the grave, but Volgin went insane and nuked a science facility, which instantly pointed fingers at The Boss, who had just recently defected to Volgin, making her necessary to take out to clean the nuclear incident. The actual truth is that The Boss was planning on forcing the United States and Russia to form a permanent alliance and create one world order, and he CIA and KGB worked together to manipulate Volgin into nuking the facility, just to ensure The Boss was defamed and assassinated in the most degrading way they could imagine. Learning all of this is what caused Big Boss to snap.
  • Tabuu from The Subspace Emissary. He wipes out the entire roster in one second before Sonic The Hedgehog destroys his wings to weaken him.
  • If you happen to be a Resident Evil villain and contract Lovecraftian Superpowers by whatever virus or parasite you injected into yourself, your chances of death are guaranteed to rise drastically. The sole exception was Albert Wesker, a generic Mole ascended into Overarching Villain via staging his death, and survived multiple times throughout the franchise. The T-Virus he injected into himself acts as a Story-Breaker Power for him rather than infecting him. But eventually, his fame overshadowing everyone else, and his excessive use of the Uroboros virus, finally got him to be Killed Off for Real in Resident Evil 5. But it still doesn't stop Wesker and his offsprings from reappearing in Mercenaries mode throughout the franchise.
  • The villain of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon can mind control Pokémon, and bestow its unwilling minions with its own power to turn Pokémon into stone, making them enemies that none of the numerous Legendary Pokémon can stand up to, or even run away from. By the climax, Dark Matter gained enough power to turn everyone in the world sans the two protagonists into stone while at a hair's-length away from throwing the world into the sun only to be Killed Off for Real by the story's end, one of the few times this happens to the franchise's antagonists.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has Leonhardt "The Blade Lord", also known as Loewe to his close associates and his adopted younger brother Joshua. He is one of the most powerful members of the society of Ouroboros and one of their best swordsman thanks to his skill and his sword, Kernvitter. He then nearly has a Heel–Face Turn moment after Joshua finally answers his life questions all this time until he was caught off-guard by the Big Bad and heavily wounded. Then Loewe retaliates against Weissman and while he does break the barrier, Weissman swats him down like a fly and ends up mortally wounded. In his dying moments, he then asks Estelle to take care of his younger brother for him.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV has Giliath Osborne, who is known as the Evil Chancellor of the empire according to the nobles who kept on weakening their hold of the empire. He made Erebonia so big by annexing countries left and right with minimal bloodshed, nearly brought down the entire world to its knees thanks to his military technology advantage, is a Divine Knight Awakener, and is a One-Man Army on foot when he's finally fought in the series. Take note all of that and add the fact that he's been trying to lose on purpose to resolve Erebonia's biggest problem, which is the curse of Erebonia festering on the country for nearly a thousand years. He was so powerful, so intelligent, and so charismatic, that he was already overtaking the overall villains of the saga, Ouroboros, as one of the greatest villains of the series. Naturally, he had to go at the end of the Cold Steel saga and he still went out like one of the biggest badasses and one of the biggest winners of the series. Sure it cost him his life but the fact that he set out what he wanted to do and gained everything that he wanted makes him the biggest Trails Series villain winners. Imagine if he started actually exerting more effort than what he is doing.

    Web Original 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series of course parodied this trope in "The Abridged Movie":
    Seto Kaiba: These new cards I won from Pegasus are incredible. In fact, they're so incredible that I will never use them again!

    Western Animation 
  • In the Fake Crossover between Steven Universe and Uncle Grandpa, the Crystal Gems decide that UG is too dangerous to exist with his Reality Warping powers and outright try to kill him.
  • Murko fills this role on Birdman, invoking The Worf Effect on Pentagon security, F.E.A.R., and finally Falcon Seven before facing Birdman in battle. Suffice to say, he lives up to the hype, coming as close as the series ever got to Nightmare Fuel.
  • The various The Virus plus Reality Warper combos from Codename: Kids Next Door, like Madam Margaret and Grandfather.
  • Mumm-Ra in ThunderCats once discovered an Artifact of Doom that quadrupled his powers. He was laying the smackdown on the Thundercats with it, but when he needed to return to his pyramid to rest the Ancient Spirits Of Evil denied him entrance. They were jealous and fearful that with the orb, Mumm-Ra would forsake them, so they forced him to ditch it. And they still complain that he loses to Lion-O.
  • Ben 10's Arch-Enemy Vilgax was the Big Bad of the show's first season, and an Implacable Man who could mop the floor with most of Ben's aliens, not to mention he had an entire fleet of droids and ships capable of destroying planets at his beck and call. To stop him from dominating the remaining three seasons, he was conveniently Sent To Another Dimension at the end of each of his subsequent appearances (usually 1 per season) so the characters won't have to worry about him. In the two sequels where he was brought back and allowed to stick around as a regular antagonist, Villain Decay was very fast to kick in.
  • Pariah Dark does this in the first Danny Phantom movie, "Reign Storm," stomping Vlad Plasmius and darn near conquering Earth before he is put back in his box. The same applies to Evil Counterpart Dark Danny.
  • The Nameless One (no, not that one), Dungeons & Dragons- apparently The Man Behind the Man to Venger, but this does not stop him giving everyone's favorite one-horned force of evil a good working-over. Unusually, he does not die at the end after his episode of terror. Instead, he winds up leaving the characters (and the audience) in suspense over his probable return, and proceeds to never appear again.
  • Gigabyte in ReBoot was only around for one episode. He was a fusion of Megabyte and Hexadecimal (or the original form if you count the Retcon). He had Megabyte's strength, would have had Hexadecimal's powers if she hadn't been drained of energy at the time of fusion, and could Absorb Energy, which gradually unlocked Hexadecimal's powers. The only way to stop him for good was to re-separate him back into Megabyte and Hexadecimal, which is why he never appeared again outside of flashbacks.
  • Trigon the Terrible on Teen Titans invades earth and turns it into a literal hell before he's banished (and possibly killed) and his magic undone by his daughter, Raven. The series would have concluded with his defeat — but they got extended for another season.
  • Tigerhawk of Beast Wars. His first appearance had him destroy the Predacon base and blow away the Preds themselves effortlessly. The next episode he was killed taking on a powerful warship buying time for the Maximals.
  • Unicron's little brother, Tornedron in The Transformers cartoon is also a good example. He drains both Cybertron and the Earth of their energy, plows through a small army of powerful Decepticons and Autobots with little effort, and finally rebels against his creator before Grimlock randomly presses a button, ending the threat and the episode.
  • Amazo in Justice League. His initial motivation is killed when he acquires telepathy from Martian Manhunter and realizes he's being manipulated by Lex Luthor. He realizes all this is beneath him and goes out into the universe in search of meaning. He returns in the Unlimited series showing himself to be even more this trope plowing through battalions of superheroes but leaves again searching for meaning. It turns out that there's only so much you can do with a character who's evolved to the point of omnipotence.
    • Less thought is Dr. Destiny. He attacks people in their dreams, during which they can't wake, and the nightmares he puts them through will cause their heart-rate to accelerate until it works too hard gives out. He can do this from anywhere. So at the end of his first appearance, his fight with Batman leaves him catatonic, because if he's still around he do the same trick all over again from prison.
  • My Little Pony: The franchise's history of using extremely evil villains while focusing on otherwise light-hearted settings means that, by necessity, these villains can't stick around very long.
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends:
      • Tirek is an extremely powerful demon who can corrupted transform people into monstrous servants with the Rainbow of Darkness, and sought to plunge the world in The Night That Never Ends; Lavan transformed into a powerful crystal form that unbalanced Pony Land. They are the only two villains of G1 to die in the end of their episodes, making My Little Pony one of the few TV cartoons in the 1980s to kill characters off.
      • Grogar, a ram sorcerer who rules the dark city of Tambelon, sought to take over Pony Land after he returned from the Realm of Darkness where he and the city had been banished. He's extremely powerful, and managed to easily defeat and overwhelm the heroes who went against him, in addition to kidnapping the unicorns of Pony Land. At the end of his special, he's sealed back in the Realm of Darkness and banished from the world.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic usually has the main characters face a very powerful, very evil villain in the big climactic double episodes at the beginnings and endings of seasons. These are invariably defeated by weaponized friendship or love and eliminated at the end of the two-parter they appear in. If they come back, it tends to either be in a way that lowers or eliminates their threat, as brief flashbacks or cameos, or in roles that see them briefly return and be eliminated again by the end of the episode.
  • One episode of Mega Man has Vile and Spark Mandrill from Mega Man X1 join forces with Wily. Luckily X himself shows up to even the odds but they are still outnumbered. They and X himself are from the future and are immune to everything Mega Man can throw at them. Eventually X pushes Vile and Spark Mandrill back into the future, establishing status quo and hinting at a Mega Man X series in the works.
  • In Ōban Star-Racers, Canaletto saw one of the racers, Sul, too powerful and equal as him. Canaletto offers him to join his will, but Sul refuses. Instead of killing him, he sent Sul to an another world.
  • Apocalypse in the 90's X-Men animated series. A fearsome adversary in the comics, he was even more formidable in this series. He, in one timeline killed the entire X-Men team in one shot - defeating him usually "just" meant foiling his plans and hoping he wasn't too pissed to repeat that incident. He appeared once per season, and at one point he got kicked off-planet swearing he'll return (he did), and even his body destroyed, but his last appearance had him return just before the series was cancelled.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) featured Snake Face among the Snake Men who served as the primary villains of the final season. Snake Face can turn people to stone by looking at them. The writers noted in the DVD commentary that there was no way to keep Snake Face without his threat overshadowing that of Big Bad King Hiss, so he was killed off in his second appearance.
  • Makeshift from Transformers: Prime. His power to transform into any Cybertronian was deemed too powerful, so they got rid of him in his debut episode. The writers openly admitted that introducing someone with Makeshift's powers so early was a mistake, and he would have limited the variety of stories that could be told if he'd survived.
    • Much like his G1 counterpart, Unicron would have killed off the cast and ended the show by simply waking up if Optimus had not used the Matrix to kill/subdue him after just three episodes.
      • As it turns out, only his physical body was defeated. His dark essence remained and possessed Megatron's corpse for the series finale. He comes within inches of destroying Cybertron before being defeated once again.
    • Implied to be the reason Predaking is currently frozen somewhere in the Arctic. Then he broke free.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, the one time Wuya is at full power she takes over reality within minutes. Every appearance after that has her brought down dramatically.
  • Very few Darkwing Duck villains were ever killed off during the run of the show, but after Major Synapse pumped himself so full of psychic energy that he became a being of pure thought, there was no way left to defeat him except to pump even more energy into him and trick him into thinking about inane questions, causing him to quite literally explode from the mental strain.
  • Shendu and his siblings, the Demon Sorcerers, from Jackie Chan Adventures. They were several orders of magnitude more powerful than most villains Jackie and his family usually face, so whenever they escape imprisonment, it never lasts more than two episodes before Uncle seals them again.
  • A non villainous version is explored in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Legacy: Part 2." After Superman (who was being held in a red sun lamp lit prison cell) states that his attempted take over of Earth was a result of being brainwashed by Darkseid is dismissed as lies by Gen. Hardcastle, he tries rescuing a critically injured Supergirl and escape, but is quickly recaptured. Luthor and Hardcastle go into Superman's cell, telling him that it's been decided that since even keeping him locked up is too much of a safety risk for Earth, he'll be given a lethal injection, a syringe filled with liquid kryptonite. Once Superman and Supergirl have been executed, Luthor gloats that Lexcorp will make a fortune from bisecting their bodies. Luckily, Lois Lane sneaks into the base and helps Superman escape.


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