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Victory by Endurance

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"Maybe I can't win. Maybe the only thing I can do is take everything he's got. But to beat me he's gonna have to kill me. And to kill me, he's gonna have to have the heart to stand in front of me. And to do that, he's gotta be willing to die himself. And I don’t know if he's ready to do that."
Rocky, Rocky IV

Sometimes, the one who wins a battle is simply the last man standing. Hence, this is a Sub-Trope of Combat Pragmatist.


This trope is different than a Pyrrhic Victory. The gambit revolves around ensuring that stamina/endurance — either over an extremely long period of time or after great expenditure of energy — is the deciding factor in the battle.

This trope takes several different forms:

  • The target is in the midst of a harmful state, inhospitable climate or exhaustive activity. Thus, all the plotter need do is wait for them to run out of gas, collapse, or die altogether. It's possible to speed this up through poison, arbitrary attacks, or sending disposable fodder and mutual enemies to help them burn out quicker. The plotter can bring this about deliberately with an Exploited Immunity.
  • Dragging the fight out long enough that the target gets desperate and reveals their ace in the hole, so that the plotter can deal with it on his own terms (note the corollary below).
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  • Rather than waiting for the opponent to grow weaker, the plotter has an Instant-Win Condition which will take time (such as waiting for the Big Damn Heroes to show up or for the Kill Sat to go online). However, they can't put up anything more than a superficial fight until it happens. Thus, they rely moreso on their own endurance or defense to prevent, avoid, or withstand as much damage as possible before their victory is assured.
  • The longest term variant is simply to avoid the opponent altogether and wait for them to grow too old and weak to be a threat anymore. A move that's really only practical if the practitioner has Complete Immortality or is The Ageless, as we're often talking about waiting decades for the foe to reach such a state.

Some of these can overlap. For example, it's possible to poison an enemy, forcing them to overclock their Healing Factor, and then have a win condition at the ready just in case. Characters that do this are likely to be Crazy-Prepared.


None of these tactics are seen as the most heroic way to fight, as it's considered more virtuous to fight like a gentleman and pit raw talent, skill, and power against an enemy than use cunning to avoid it. Thus you'll see this most often used by Villains or Anti Heroes. This trope is all about making sure that fight is never fair. Rare is such a victory that doesn't end with a curb-stomping.

Often seen in a Mook Horror Show situation. Expect either a Stone Wall or Weak, but Skilled character to use this tactic. When you're playing a video game and you're required to do this, it's Hold the Line. However, it's not a good idea to try this on an Increasingly Lethal Enemy, as by the time the enemy gets worn out, or reveals their ace in the hole on your gambit, whatever measures they have in place will likely take effect to render it worthless and thus overwhelm you.

Compare and contrast Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing, My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever, Super-Persistent Predator, Death of a Thousand Cuts, Gradual Grinder, or Hit-and-Run Tactics.

See: The Problem with Fighting Death, or Tell Me How You Fight.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Nnoitra uses this against Ichigo. After Ichigo defeats Grimmjow and apparently rescued Orihime, Nnoitra announces his presence by one-shotting the exhausted Grimmjow before thrashing the equally exhausted Ichigo. He viewed Grimmjow, Ichigo and Orihime as equally fair game, but waited for them to work themselves to exhaustion and drop their guard before taking them on.
    • Yhwach tricked Yamamoto into taking on a Yhwach double. After Yamamoto wore himself down killing the double, Yhwach himself stepped in and killed him.
    • The FemRitters deliberately waited until Kenpachi had exhausted and injured himself from defeating Gremmy Thoumeaux before attacking him, commenting that this was the smart thing to do. As a result, they beat him up so badly he can't move.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Vicious makes use of this tactic both times he battles Spike. He sends a wave of Mooks out first, and by the time he's gone through them all Spike has taken at least one gunshot wound.
  • The Prince of Tennis bout between Karou vs Ryoma. Karou's tennis style is to force his opponent to run from one side of the court to the other, making them too tired to return his volleys. Ryoma turns this around on him by forcing him to keep his knees bent during the whole game, using up twice as much endurance, instead.
  • Naruto:
    • The eponymous character uses this tactic sometimes, given that he has more physical and chakra endurance than almost anyone. However, this trope is often subverted for Naruto, as he often needs that extreme stamina just to keep up with the numerous challenges presented to him.
    • A particularly notable example is when Naruto defeats Pain. Ironically, said opponent was using the same tactic at the same time because both of them are members of the Uzumaki bloodline, and thus have insane amounts of chakra reserves. Naruto was not only able to avoid becoming exhausted (thanks to replenishment through outside sources) but also able to force Pain to let his guard down when he finally did exhaust Naruto's last trump card, thus leading straight to his defeat.
    • However, Naruto usually expends that extra energy to do more rather than win his own fight. For example, in the Fourth Shinobi War Arc, Naruto's new Super Mode is quite powerful and can be used for extended periods of time. Instead of conserving his energy for his upcoming fight, he creates a dozen clones to personally turn the tide at every front of the war. This has notable consequences later, but his decision definitely did have its merits.
    • Another example occurs during the Juubi's Revival sub-arc, where Naruto and Kurama, the Kyuubi share chakra with everyone, giving every ally insane amounts of power while still having more than enough for their own use.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Pegasus turns his duel with Yugi into a Shadow Game where both players are steadily drained of stamina to summon their monsters. Yugi eventually faints, forcing the Pharaoh to play alone.
    • Yami Bakura easily defeated Pegasus in a mental Beam-O-War by attacking him after he just faced Yugi.
      Yami Bakura (in the dub): Really, Pegasus, is that all you can muster? Ah, you've been fatigued by your duel with Yugi. Your mind is weary while mine is fresh!
    • Yami Marik turns his duel with Joey into a Shadow Game where both players take any damage their monsters take. Marik plays not to win, but to inflict as much damage as possible to Joey. Eventually, Joey is about to win, but passes out and goes into a coma before he can declare his final attack.
    • In the Orichalcos Arc, Joey had two duels back to back against Valon and Mai, where the Seal of Orichalcos makes the damage real. He beats Valon, but against Mai, he collapses from exhaustion and surrenders.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yugi had to do three duels back to back, against Aigami, then Kaiba, then Aigami and Kaiba in a triangle duel. In both the duels against Aigami, Aigami makes the duel inflict real damage and the players have to spend their stamina to summon monsters. In the final duel, Yugi eventually reaches his limit and faints right before he can draw his last card. Fortunately, the Pharaoh returns and completes his move for him to defeat Aigami.
  • Fairy Tail
    • This is how Elfman defeats Bacchus in the Grand Magic Games. Bacchus' magic martial arts make him too fast for Elfman to dodge, so he simply transforms into a Lizardman with incredibly tough and spiky scales. The entire match from that point on consists of Bacchus landing countless powerful blows on Elfman while seriously damaging his own hands in the process, with announcers noting that it ultimately comes down to whether or not Bacchus' hands and stamina can endure long enough to brute-force past Elfman's defense. In the end, while Elfman comes dangerously close to breaking, Bacchus falls down exhausted first and concedes defeat to his "manly" opponent.
    • Played with at the very end of the final day of the Games. The final confrontation comes down to the five members of Fairy Tail's team facing down Sting, the only remaining member of Saber Tooth's team. While Sting ordinarily wouldn't stand a chance, all five Fairy Tail wizards are exhausted and badly wounded, while Sting is largely unscathed. In the end, however, Sting decides to surrender for personal reasons, and Fairy Tail wins the Grand Magic Games.
  • Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie: After all the brooding and dramatic build up, Guile finally gets his shot at revenge against Bison near the end of the film. Except Bison makes Guile look like a complete joke, by teleporting around him faster than he could keep up with, essentially letting Guile wear himself out trying to hit him. Even Guile's Sonic Boom fails to connect. Bison one-shots him immediately afterwards and decides he isn't worth further attention.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Sanosuke notes this trope in his first fight with Kenshin, stating that it's not the better swordsman who wins, but the one who is left standing (which Kenshin throws back in his face). This tactic is also used by during the fight with Shishio, which ends with Shishio combusting.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam M'Quve proclaims that Zeon can do this with the resources they got from Odessa, however that proved to be nothing more than hot air. Moreover, this is how the Federation wins: Zeon had destroyed the Federation Space Force fleet early but almost exhausted their resources, and the Federation used its superior resource base to replenish those losses over a year of war and attrition while Zeon invaded Earth in the attempt to either conquer the entire planet or, as a fallback option, recover enough resources to win by endurance (what M'Quve was referring to, horribly underestimating how fast the Federation had rebuilt).
  • In Gundam Build Fighters, the Renato Brothers' BuCUE Tank defeats the Star Build Gundam in the Preliminary Race by draining the suit of its Plavsky Particle reserves before taking up a new, faster form and speeding ahead to victory.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters Try, the battle between Team Celestial Sphere and the X-1 Full Cloth ends with this, as its 3-1 with only two minutes left. However, Wilfred refuses to let it end like this and challenges Lucas to a final showdown. The two give it all that they got and it seems that Lucas overcame Wilfred before the X-1 Full Cloth collapses.
  • In Dragon Ball:
    • Although Goku is already stronger than Frieza after becoming a Super Saiyan, he mostly beats Frieza because his power began to rapidly drop after he uses his full strength. As Goku surmises, Frieza can't control his full power since he never had to fight seriously before, which is why he burns himself out in such a short amount of time.
    • Androids 17 and 18 have an inexhaustible energy source built into them, so unless you're already strong enough to break them, you'll just exhaust yourself pounding away at them until they can win.
      • Although 18 was already stronger than Vegeta when they fought, she toys with him by making him chase her and then repeatedly swing and miss at her until he is exhausted. Piccolo notices her tactic, but Vegeta is so angry that he doesn't notice until it is too late.
      • 17 specifically brings this up when Piccolo fights him after fusing with Kami, noting that while they're evenly matched, he can keep it up forever while Piccolo will tire out. Piccolo retorts that 17 will make a mistake and lose before that can happen (dub line only). They turn out to both be wrong, because Cell notices their battle and shows up to absorb 17, and he's far stronger than either of them.
      • 17 and 18 use their infinite energy to their advantage in The Tournament of Power saga in Super, both managing to be some of the longest lasting fighters in a battle royal setting simply by the virtue of never running out of stamina.
    • Future Trunks tries the Ultra Super Saiyan form against Perfect Cell. While it allows his physical strength to surpass Cell, the form is Awesome, but Impractical because it reduces speed and it consumes energy too fast. Once Cell figures out what Trunks did, he stops trying to fight him head on and simply dodges all his attacks while taunting him. With Trunks too slow to hit him, he gets too tired to continue and surrenders.
    • Spopovich is so Unskilled, but Strong that Videl runs circles around him and knocks him down over and over again. However, due to the empowerment Babidi gave him, he quickly recovers from any damage he takes, even a broken neck. Eventually, Videl gets so tired that Spopovich is able to catch up to her and give her a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • The fights against Buu also had an element of this, particularly Kid Buu, who combines ridiculous regeneration abilities and near-bottomless stamina. Super Saiyan 3 Goku could fight him evenly at first, but quickly started feeling the strain of that form while Buu kept coming back for more.
    Goku: (in the dub) I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Doesn't matter how much energy I put out, I still don't get anywhere.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Frieza runs into this problem again. His new Golden Form can fight on par with Goku and then some, but he never bothered to get used to fighting in it. Instead he just ran off to get his revenge on Goku as soon as he achieved the form. All Goku has to do is stall for a few minutes and Frieza burns himself out to the point his attacks no longer hurt. In Super, after being revived again in order to take Buu's place in the upcoming Tournament of Power, Frieza reveals he spent his time in Hell meditating and managed to fully master his golden form's stamina issues, meaning that the above problem won't work anymore.
    • In Dragon Ball Super instead of forcing Goku to give up like in the movie, Beerus wins by letting Goku use up his energy reserves since he has far more energy than him and Goku is still new to godhood and doesn't know how to conserve his energy.
    • In the Tournament of Power, one condition of victory is to have the most fighters remaining by the end of the tournament.
    • A number of fighters, notably Kakunsa and Viara, in the Tournament of Power state their intent to win this way: Kakunsa is confident in her stamina and uses constant relentless attacks to wear down her opponents, while Viara has incredibly durable armor and lets people waste their strength trying to break it before hitting them when they're exhausted. Unfortunately, both of them wind up fighting Universe 7's Androids 17 and 18, who, as mentioned above, have infinite stamina and never get tired. Android 17 quips to Viara in particular that "just standing there and letting us attack you was a pretty stupid plan".
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, this was Chrono's plan when Fate faced six typhoons, caused by the six remaining Jewel Seeds that she needs. The TSAB would either arrest an exhausted Fate or she would die. Since Nanoha didn't like the second option, she decided to disobey the TSAB and save Fate (and Fate eventually escaped due to other interference). The irony is that Chrono's mother, who agreed to the strategy, would adopt Fate in the next season.
  • One Piece
    • Invoked in the Thriller Bark arc; the Straw Hats are fighting the giant zombie Oars, and since zombies Feel No Pain, their only strategy is to keep pounding away at it until Oars' body collapses from damage. Of course, given that Oars is the zombie of a giant that makes normal giants look small, this is no easy feat, and the zombie is only defeated when Luffy manages to shatter Oars' spine.
    • Gekko Moriah invokes this himself once Oars goes down, unleashing his Shadow Asgard despite the strain of absorbing and controlling 1000 shadows with his current injuries all to buy the last few minutes for the sun to rise, which, for anyone who has their shadow stolen by him, is a death sentence by disintegration and most of the Straw Hats (Luffy, Zoro, Sanji and Robin) had lost theirs to him. The final "battle" comes down to whether or not they can take him down and release the shadows before they all die, which they do by the skin of their teeth, as in they were already burning away in the sunlight by the time it happened.
    • Doflamingo vs Luffy, after Luffy unleashes Gear Fourth on him. Even though Doflamingo was severely beaten through the nation by Luffy, his stamina ran out within 10 minutes, leaving him weakened. Doflamingo, Made of Iron as he is, recovered first and prepared to kill Luffy, and would have succeeded if Gatz and his other allies didn't manage to severely distract him from laying the killing blow.
    • Luffy's fight with Katakuri during the Whole Cake Island arc winds up coming down to this. The fight ends up lasting 10 hours due to to the fact Luffy tries to enhance his Observation Haki during it, meaning he had to practically either dodge or tank Katakuri's hits while occasionally trying to hit back (which is next to impossible due to Katakuri's Haki that allows him to see ahead in time). The two become so worn out, they figure to go all out with their attacks with the last of the strength and end up knocking each other out with a Cross Counter. After being out for several minutes, they both awaken and Katakuri looks to be ready to continue...and then ultimately collapses into unconsciousness not a moment later after exchanging some last words with Luffy. Giving Luffy the win.
  • In Initial D from Fourth Stage onwards, races are no longer decided on one run alone. The winner is decided when the chaser passes the chasee or the chasee loses the chaser. While some battles ended in one run anyway, few notable battles tend to take up numerous runs. One notable battle was Takumi vs Joshima, which ended after 8 runs!
  • Pokémon: Ash tries this tactic during his rematch with Brawly and fails. When Brawly's Hariyama uses Arm Thrust (a series of consecutive palm strikes), Ash tells his Corphish to endure the strikes until Hariyama gets tried. After about a minute, Ash and his friends are shocked to find Hariyama isn't even slowing down. Brawly explains he gave Hariyama training to build up his endurance. Ash is forced to change tactics.
    • In Journeys, Ash's Riolu outlasted a battle against a tough Galarian Farfetch'd by determination alone. The Farfetch'd was impressed enough by this victory that it offered to join Ash's team.
  • Often tried by the youma in Codename: Sailor V: having quickly realized that Sailor V is far more powerful than them, they try to wear her down with Mooks (often brainwashed humans) before engaging her themselves, or, in Chuu Chuu's case, shamelessly take advantage of a heat wave and the fact he had tricked her into letting her take almost a liter of blood before they identified each other by retreating on top of the nearby hospital and call upon millions of demonic mosquitoes. Much to their horror, Sailor V always out-endures them, as she's a skilled athlete and even when not transformed that can easily win a half-marathon against older teenagers and she still has that stamina when transformed.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie: This comes into play during Sonic and Metal Sonic's climactic battle. Due to their Psychic Link, they're able to anticipate one another's actions, making the fight exactly even. However, Sonic eventually begins to wear down, allowing Metal to get the upper hand and nearly kill him.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, the tournament to determine the ruler of the Demon plane comes down to this. After the Yusuke vs. Yomi fight, which involves two of the strongest contenders for the thrones, the victor ends up losing the next battle, and the title goes to one of Raizen's old friends, who notes that he was fortunate enough to have good matches throughout the tournament.
    • Yusuke also tries this against Jin the wind master, whose flight and mobility prevented any meaningful attacks from connecting. So Yusuke decides that the best course of action is to wait for him to get close and then cause an explosion at point blank range.
    Yusuke: Let's see who can take a bigger ass-kicking!
  • Rave Master:
    • Sieghart and Haja's magic duel nearly ends like this. While Sieg had gained a massive power boost beforehand, Haja is rightfully known as "Haja the Infinite" due to his Dark Bring granting him infinite magic power. After a solid week of fighting, Sieg is nearly drained while Haja has power to spare. Sieghart only wins via outside help and Chekhov's Boomerang.
    • An inadvertant example of the good guys doing this comes from the fight against Hardner. Let gets to him first and inflicts a great deal of damage, but Harder's Dark Bring allows him to heal even from One-Hit Kill attacks. Hardner manages to defeat Let, but the fight drains his Dark Bring of power so much that Haru is able to wear it down to point of being unable to keep healing him.
  • A zigzagged, non-fighting (of sorts) example happens in Food Wars!. Trying to get the support of Tosuke Megishima for the Regiment de Cuisine, Soma keeps challenging him, and despite losing, Soma says they'll go on until he gives up. Soma's determination impresses Megishima so much that after a while, he declares Soma the winner despite winning every single bout, since Soma said they'd go on until he gave up, but never did so.
  • In Holyland Yuu nearly falls victim to this during his spar with Yamazaki, and it's one of the factors that make him lose in the first fight with Yoshito: while legitimately strong, fast and skilled, Yuu is almost entirely self-trained while Yamazaki is a boxer and Yoshito a kickboxer whose training regimes also include exercises that greatly increase their stamina. By the time of the rematch with Yoshito, however, Yuu got Yamazaki to train him in boxing skills, and he now has the stamina to match the rest of his abilities.

    Comic Books 
  • Defied in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). Mogul hates Sonic with a passion, but has an ace up his sleeve: Mogul has Complete Immortality, and Sonic does not. Mogul chooses to show Pragmatic Villainy and just bide his time until Sonic dies, then try to Take Over the World. Too bad for Mogul that Sonic and the rest of the Freedom Fighters still don't make things easy for Mogul, and continuously thwart his schemes, whether they'll live to see them stopped or not.
  • This was how Bane defeated Batman in the Knightfall story arc: waiting until Batman had a normally inconvenient bout of the flu, Bane unleashed a mob of super-criminals from Arkham Asylum and waited for Batman to tire himself out trying to put them all back behind bars in the space of a few days with no sleep. Having already deduced Batman's Secret Identity, Bane shows up at Wayne Manor after Bruce Wayne has practically collapsed in exhaustion and then breaks his spine.
  • This is how Norman Osborn kills Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man. After battling several other threats alongside The Ultimates (including taking a bullet for Captain America), Peter tries to hobble home and receive medical attention. But when he gets there, his loved ones are being harassed by the Green Goblin and several others from Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery. Peter (and his family/allies) fight back valiantly, but Peter eventually succumbs to his injuries. (He came back later.)
  • An annual issue of The Punisher MAX had a story in which a mook barely escapes from Frank, and his mental condition gradually worsens as he seeks help everywhere. Frank barely appears at all except at the end, allowing the mook to tire himself out all by himself.
  • In Superman: Ending Battle, Manchester Black sends waves and waves of villains after the hero. After they are defeated, Bizarro, Mongul, Master Jailer, and Silver Banshee try to finish Superman off now that he's exhausted. In the ensuing fight, Superman also uses this against Mongul, dodging and blocking his attacks and refueling on sunlight until Mongul gets tired.
  • During the Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul, Batman fights the Sensei, who has centuries of fighting experience and martial arts training. At the start of the fight, the Sensei dominates the battle and horribly injures Batman while commenting, "I am very old, it's true. I am an evil old man, and my stamina is not what it was. I can only keep this up for less than two minutes. Fortunately, I need only one to break you." As they fight, Batman just keeps attacking despite not even touching the Sensei. However as the fight progresses, the Sensei is visibly beginning to sweat and fatigue. Batman realizes that despite his centuries of life, the Sensei is physically still an old man and as long as he can protect himself from anything lethal, he can outlast the Sensei. At the end of the fight, the Sensei, breathing heavily and clearly exhausted, can only defend himself from a horribly beaten and injured Batman. With a desperate scream he yells to Batman, "What are you doing?" Batman's response? "Lasting longer than a minute."
  • In Italian Disney Ducks Comic Universe this is the key to defeat Magica without having a witch on your side previously trapped the place with counter-witch traps: while she has enough firepower to bulldoze through counter-mecha defenses or engage a Badass Santa in direct combat on Christmas Eve (thus when he's at his strongest) and win easily she is relatively poor in her magical reserves, thus if one pressures her long enough she'll tire and become vulnerable. Problem is she's really powerful, and the only one among the heroes who can actually fight her that long is Paperinik...
  • Near the end of Bone, Smiley Bone tries to cheat at the military siege version of this trope: there are two Rat Creatures held prisoner in the castle prison, and he's giving them plenty of good food to eat. When he's questioned why he's doing this by the royal advisor, Smiley lays out his plan: to feed the prisoners extremely well, then release them to the enemy. Said prisoners will tell the enemy how well they were fed, and the enemy will think they have enough supplies to outlast them in the siege. While it never gets paid off, it's worth pointing out this is a tactic that has been used successfully in real life.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In the Silver Age Wonder Woman actually loses a fight to a robotic duplicate when she starts seeing double due to her lack of food and sleep while the robot is still going strong.

    Fan Works 
  • Marionettes: Gear Shift can match Rainbow Dash's speed and has superior fighting skills, but after about a minute of fighting, he's already breathing hard. Rainbow notices this and realizes he's like a sprinter, conditioned for explosive speed and power but not endurance. All she and Lightning Dust have to do is stall for a few minutes and Gear Shift is so tired that his punches barely hurt.
  • Fate/Long Night: Nymeria Martell's Bloodline Relic, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken", gives her a Home Field Advantage by making the battlefield experience the heat of Dorne. As she's used to the heat, she can fight just fine, while her opponents will become thirsty and exhausted the longer the fight goes. When Arturia fights her, she has even less stamina to work with because of her poor Prana supply from Shirou, so she almost falls to Nymeria before Brandon Stark interferes.
  • In Equestria: Across the Multiverse, the Tales 7 get Rainbow Power forms as a result of an accidental Super Empowering by the Mane Six (similar to the Humane Six) and Melody's Element is Endurance. The power this grants her is unlimited endurance, and as such in fights she often focuses on evasion until her opponent tires or makes a mistake. This is often paired with Starlight, who got the Element of Diligence and Super Toughness, and Sweetheart, who got the Element of Love and Healing Hands, in a more strategic version of this trope. Melody and Starlight draw fire and dodge or tank with Sweetheart healing any damage they do get until the enemy tires enough to be taken out by the team.
  • In Reaching for a Dream, Naruto beats Lee in their match because his defensive technique allows him to (barely) outlast Lee's Chakra Gates. After his onslaught, Lee collapses unable to move while Naruto is still standing, albeit puking up blood.
  • Naruto wins a spar against Rock Lee in One Eye Full Of Wisdom by enduring long enough to land a single blow on the other genin once he exhausts himself.
  • Twilight Sparkle beats Starlight Glimmer in We Can Do This Forever because their constant time loops don't reset their ages, causing them to age a bit more each loop. While Twlight is The Ageless as an Alicorn, Starlight is merely a powerful unicorn and will eventually grow old and die.
  • White Sheep (RWBY):
    • While Jaune's horrible sword skills mean he can rarely land a hit, his ridiculous endurance and deep Aura reserves mean that he can keep fighting forever. He "wins" his first training bout against Weiss when she runs out of Dust and shortly after collapses in exhaustion. That being said, it's pointed out that this tactic won't work very well in the Vytal Festival tournament, where their opponents can just throw Jaune out of the ring.
    • More seriously, if the Grimm full on siege Atlas, Atlas is guaranteed to lose when they eventually run out of supplies and soldiers, while the Grimm will never run out.
  • Professor Arc II: Salem, upon believing Jaune to be a threat to her plans, decides to simply kick back and build up her resources until he croaks and give it another shot. Her subordinates convince her to speed up the timetable when they realize they'll all be long dead before Jaune and lose their shot at ruling the world with Salem.
  • The Red Dragon's Saber: The Fallen Angels almost manage to achieve this against Artoria because no matter how hard she kicks their asses, they can't be knocked out and they don't get tired. Fortunately, Artoria manages to disable them by cutting off their wings.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Jason Voorhees, believe it or not, uses this in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, where Jason faces against a teen boxer in Good Old Fisticuffs. Jason never even throws a punch and soaks up punishment upon punishment until the boxer gets tired. Then Jason decapitates him with one punch.
    • Of course, Jason could have done this at the very start of the fight too. But where's the fun in that? It's much more nightmarish for the opponent to watch his best hits result in a No-Sell, a barrage of blows result only in a Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh..., let Invulnerable Knuckles be averted as the fighter reduces his own fingers to bloody stumps trying to find a face behind the hockey mask...
  • Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2 uses this strategy against Tony and Rhodes. By the time he engages the two in battle, they've already burned a lot of energy and ammunition on the army of drones Vanko sent against them. Furthermore, Tony has used up his One-Hit Kill ace-in-the-hole. Vanko still loses, however, because of a Forbidden Chekhov's Gun.
  • This is SPECTRE's long-term strategy in world domination in the James Bond films. It is even lampshaded in Blofeld in his Siamese fighting fish speech in From Russia with Love.
    "Siamese fighting fish — fascinating creatures. Brave, but on the whole, stupid. Yes, they're stupid. Except for the occasional one, such as we have here, who lets the other two fight. While he waits. Waits until the survivor is so exhausted that he cannot defend himself, and then like SPECTRE... he strikes!"
  • Played for Laughs in Monty Python's Life of Brian; a skirmisher-type gladiator matched against a Mighty Glacier in heavy armour takes one look at him, drops his weapons and runs away. His opponent chases him for several circuits of the arena, and then drops dead of a Hollywood Heart Attack.
  • In Real Steel, Charlie details how he, back when humans did the actual boxing, fought an opponent he wasn't expected to be able to contend with to a near-victory simply because his opponent couldn't knock him down. Atom's near-victory happens in much the same way, since he's built to take hits and the other robot doesn't have enough juice to last five rounds.
  • Rocky: In a sense, this is pretty much how Rocky always fights - he just will not go down and almost always outlasts his opponent.
    • In Rocky III this is how Rocky beats Clubber Lang in the climactic rematch, inviting Clubber to take his best shot at him over and over again until he's worn himself out and Rocky can wipe him out.
    • Creed II: In their rematch, it is revealed that because Viktor Drago is used to knocking out opponents by Round 4, he neglected to work on his stamina. Adonis Creed lasts until Round 10, and by this time, Viktor is completely exhausted, though he refuses to quit and his father is forced to throw in the towel for him.
  • Ethan Edwards in The Searchers lives this trope:
    "Injun will chase a thing till he thinks he's chased it enough. Then he quits. Same way when he runs. Seems like he never learns there's such a thing as a critter that'll just keep comin' on. So we'll find 'em in the end, I promise you. We'll find 'em. Just as sure as the turnin' of the earth."
  • Star Wars: In Revenge of the Sith, this is how Obi-Wan defeats Anakin/Darth Vader (and leaves him so badly wounded he's left as the Dark Lord on Life Support we know from the original trilogy). The two of them duel for nearly ten minutes throughout the mining facility on Mustafar, with Obi-Wan constantly retreating and blocking until Anakin makes a serious lapse in judgement and tries an ill-planned leap over Obi-Wan, which results in An Arm and a Leg and Man on Fire.
    • This is, in fact, one of the major tenets of Obi-Wan's lightsaber style, Soresu. The tight defensive moves are meant to force more aggressive opponents to exhaust themselves, allowing the Soresu user to take them out more easily. Obi-Wan dedicated himself to becoming a master of Soresu specifically because his own mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn, was killed by Darth Maul after exhausting himself fighting an extended battle with the highly acrobatic Ataru form. Obi-Wan is so proficient in this style that the other Jedi see him as not just a master of the form, but the master, which was why he was sent to defeat General Grievous.
  • Troy: Mentioned, but not used. When Paris prepares to face Menelaus in a duel, Hector suggests to Paris, "Make him swing and miss. He'll tire." This is sound advice considering Menelaus is middle-aged and Paris is a young man. However, Paris doesn't take the advice and instead tries to take Menelaus head on. Menelaus may be older, but he's bigger, stronger, and more skilled and experienced in fighting, so Paris is swiftly overpowered.

  • Valentinian in the Belisarius Series, but defied in the most spectacular example:
    For hours, Valentinian had avoided matching strength with Sanga. He had countered the king's astonishing power with speed, instead. Speed, cunning, and experience. He could have—should have—ended the battle so. Circling the Rajput, probing, slashing, bleeding him further, staying away from that incredible strength, until his opponent was so weak that the quick death thrust could be driven home. Killing a king, like a wolf brings down a crippled bull. Like a weasel kills.
  • The Brightest Shadow: One of the methods by which the mansthein conquer. If the enemy destroys one army, they can just send another.
  • Used several times in the Earth's Children series. In one instance a group of hunters tire out a woolly rhinoceros by each one jumping into its field of vision, making it chase them, and then another person jumps in, etc. At the end the rhino is practically dead from exhaustion, and they finish it off with spears.
  • Bronn does this against Ser Vardis in A Song of Ice and Fire (and in Game of Thrones) during Tyrion's Trial by Combat: Bronn wears only light armour and no shield, and uses Hit-and-Run Tactics to let the fully mailed and shielded Vardis tire himself out under the weight of his equipment before closing in and killing him. The witnesses angrily call Bronn a dishonorable coward for not taking his opponent head-on, but Bronn dismissively says that he cares about victory, not honor.
  • The Gentleman Bastard. Used twice in The Lies of Locke Lamora where Locke, our protagonist and noted Combat Pragmatist, has to buy time for Jean to help him out. As a youth, he bear hugs the leader of a rival gang until Jean arrives, then as an adult he does the same to take down The Grey King, although this time it's not enough as Jean doesn't show up until Locke has won the fight using another method.
  • In Theodor Fontane's novel Der Stechlin, which is set in the 1890s, old Dubslav says this regarding his old regiment and the Wars of Liberation of 1813 and 1814 in chapter four:
    Our Nikolaus Cuirassiers, God keep them as they are! I would say in that regiment the old Holy Alliance lives on, the brotherhood in arms of the year 1813, and that year 1813, which we endured together with the Russians, always side by side, in the bivouacs, in fortune and misfortune, that was our greatest time. Greater than the one that is great now. A great time always is only when things almost fail, when you have to fear at any moment: "Now it is all over." That's where it shows. Courage is good, but endurance is better. Endurance is the crucial thing. Nothing in the belly, nothing on the body, terrible cold, rain and snow, so you lie in the wet puddle and at most you have a schnapps (a brandy, ha!, you barely got at the time) and so through the night, there you could learn to recognize Jesus Christ.
  • The Hunger Games is this combined with Deadly Game. There are references to two Games where the Victor was the last survivor: Annie Cresta won because she was the best swimmer when the Arena was flooded, and an unknown one where most players died of hypothermia because it was too cold and there were few trees around.
  • The Stormlight Archive: When the Parshendi assassinated the Alethi king, they retreated to the Shattered Plains, where they knew that they would have a massive tactical advantage due to the countless chasms, which they could jump but the Alethi would need to bridge. They assumed that the Alethi would soon give up and go home, since the Plains are so far from the heart of their kingdom. Unfortunately, the chasmfiends that use the Plains to pupate have massive gemhearts that the Alethi can use to power their soulcasters, which can be used to create food from rocks and basically completely eliminate logistical issues. This, combined with the fact that the Alethi can get reinforcements from home, means the war is just one long, slow slide into oblivion for the Parshendi.
  • This is the core of the Foundation strategy in the Foundation-Korell war. It is implied the Foundation probably could curb-stomp the Korell forces if they really wanted to, but that would have the undesirable side-effects of making it easier for Korell's leadership to inspire anti-Foundation hatred in Korell's populace, and more importantly, risk drawing the attention of the Galactic Empire back to the Rimnote , so the Foundation simply adopts a defensively-oriented strategy, denying Korell any major victories or population-unifying enemy orbital bombardments, and waits for Korell's economy to collapse without Foundation trade (Korell had become dependent on Foundation-provided nucleics, while nothing Korell provided to the Foundation couldn't be acquired from other trading partners). Three years later the war ended as "one of the least fought in galactic history".

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Daredevil, this was how "Battlin'" Jack Murdock earned his relatively few victories in his boxing career: by letting the other guy beat the crap out of him until they were too tired to beat the crap out of him anymore, at which point Jack would start beating the crap out of the other guy and win with minimal effort. What got him killed was when he refused to take a dive in a match against Carl "The Crusher" Creel. It's important to note that Creel had a reputation for cheating by turning his fists into steel underneath his gloves. Now that takes endurance.
  • Doctor Who: Pretty much how the Time War played out. The Time Lords had absolute technological superiority over the Daleks. But the Daleks had greater numbers, persistence and a driving compulsion to exterminate all non-Dalek life. Notably, the Time Lords were too scared to break out their most powerful weapon because it was designed to pass judgment on anyone who dared to use it. The Daleks simply kept fighting their way through everything the Time Lords threw at them until they were able to besiege Gallifrey itself. Then subverted when the Doctor tricked them into blowing themselves up by moving the planet into a Pocket Dimension just as the Dalek fleet encircling it unleashed their full firepower.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Even with a 100% loss record in battle, Tywin Lannister is winning the war against Robb Stark, whose own army is falling apart with squabbling and poor long-term strategic decisions.
      Robb: Tywin Lannister knows what he needs to do to make us unravel... nothing. Only wait.
    • Theon Greyjoy pulls a more personal version of this, beating a much larger Ironborn opponent in a fistfight through sheer determination, getting up after every blow until he was too tired to defend himself.
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: In "Hexuba's Graveyard", Hexuba brings several different monsters Back from the Dead in an attempt to Zerg Rush the Rangers into submission. It almost works - most of the monsters dissolve after just a few hits, but by the time the Rangers fight the tenth one they're on their last legs.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The Wraith defeated the Ancients by utilizing this method of warfare. At first, the Ancients' highly advanced technology made sure that they won every single battle. With each win, they pressed further into Wraith territory, eventually losing three ships to the Wraith. The Wraith captured the Zero-Point Modules used to power the ships and re-purposed them for their own use, increasing their numbers one-hundred-fold. At that point, it didn't matter how many times the Ancients won; each of their victories cost them more resources than the Wraith for each of their losses. Towards the end of the war, the Wraith pushed back the Ancients to where they only controlled Atlantis. When the Wraith managed to approach even that, the remaining Ancients sank their city and fled back to Earth.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Peak Performance", Data loses a strategy game to master strategist Kolrami. Near the end of the episode, Data challenges Kolrami to a rematch only this time he deliberately plays to draw instead of win until Kolrami pulls a Rage Quit.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf has been captured by the Dominion and is forced to spar with increasingly-difficult Jem'Hadar opponents. By the time he gets to the top guy he's already worn out by the previous fights, and is quickly beaten down. But he gets up, gets beaten down again, and so on for a while until the Jem'Hadar guy concedes, admitting that he can't defeat the Klingon even if he kills him, and he's not interested in doing that. A psychological victory rather than a physical one, but a victory nonetheless.
  • Survivor: In Survivor: Samoa, this was the key to Natalie White's victory. By acting as Russell's Number Two / Girl Friday / Lady Macbeth, she avoided You Have Outlived Your Usefulness right through to the jury. It doesn't quite qualify as a Curb-Stomp Battle, though (as it did for Mick); two jurors voted for him.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is a strategy (and a good source of kayfabe drama) behind several gimmick matches. A few notable types are the Iron Man match (match goes to a set time limit, each pin/submission/count-out/DQ earns one point, most points when time runs out wins), Last Man Standing match (can't stand after a ref's ten-count), and a Steel Cage match (escape the cage first). A common tactic by a heel is to just wait until the face is so tired they can't fight back before making a move.
  • A few wrestlers have attempted such a strategy in WWE's Royal Rumble Match, usually by hiding in a corner or just refusing to get into the ring until everyone else is too tired. Invariably, this never works, as someone else is bound to throw them in the ring or yank them out of the corner to force the issue.
  • During Dustin Rhodes' 1990-1991 run in the WWF, he became involved in his father's feud with Ted DiBiase, to the point where DiBiase demanded a match against the younger Rhodes, so he could beat him to a pulp. Dustin agreed to the match, but added a stipulation: That DiBiase had to pin in him the ring within 10 minutes, or he'd lose. Sure enough, Dustin won the match — although this was largely DiBiase's fault... repeatedly, through his arrogance, "The Million Dollar Man" broke up his own two-counts on multiple occasions when he could have easily pinned Dustin, but wanted to beat on him some more in an effort to gain a psychological advantage over the elder Rhodes.
  • Several professional wrestling journalists, primarily those who wrote for magazines associated with Bill Apter, criticized the WWF's rule allowing its champions to retain the title via countout or disqualification, noting that a champion must win the match by pinfall or submission to be considered legitimate and to keep his title. The one exception: If he is in a submission hold but had not yet submitted when the time limit expired... fitting this trope to a "T."

  • "Rope-a-dope" is this strategy as applied to the sport of Boxing. The technique was first used and named by boxer Muhammad Ali for his 1974 fight against George Foreman (the "Rumble in the Jungle" match in Kinshasa). Foreman was stronger and closer to his peak than Ali, who was out of practice after an involuntary three-year hiatus in his career. Knowing that he couldn't match Foreman punch for punch, Ali focused on protecting himself and hanging on the ropes, reducing the effectiveness of Foreman's damaging punches, for round after round after round. By the seventh round, Foreman was exhausted because he'd literally been doing nothing but attacking for seven rounds, while Ali, who'd been doing little but defending, was relatively fresh (he was injured - you can't get punched and avoid all consequences, even with a good defense, but he was in much better shape than Foreman). Ali came out in the eighth swinging hard, and Foreman couldn't defend himself, much less fight back. The match was over soon after. Since then, various fighters have used this technique from time to time, particularly against Hot-Blooded opponents who can't see that it's an act.
  • In mixed martial arts endurance is often a deciding factor. Some fighters are so fast and strong that the fight seems like a foregone conclusion after the first thirty seconds. However, if the opponent is able to dodge or absorb attacks for a round or so then their muscular opponent will likely be so exhausted that they will leave themselves vulnerable. Still, it is a risky tactic as all fights have time limits and if they go to a decision then the judges (and fans!) are more likely to favor the more aggressive combatant.
  • While its place as a "sport" is up for contention despite now being referred to as Sports Entertainment, Professional Wrestling is well known for this sort of victory. Aside from the usual bouts of Determinator and Nigh-Invulnerable wrestlers, many matches are based on this concept, like: the "Iron Man" hour-long marathon to see who has the most pinfalls/submissions; "Last Man Standing" matches where you have to keep the opponent down for a 10 count; cage matches where you have to get your opponent so worn down they can't stop you from exiting the cage; and any number of other gimmick matches where the expectation is "beat the guy down so much he can't fight back, and you can put him into/out of the victory condition, or he can't prevent you from doing so." Or, at least, they are HYPED as this, until one or the other figures out an alternate means of grabbing victory.
  • One of the most famous victories in sports was the 2002 Winter Olympic Games 1000 m short track speed skating event. Australian Steven Bradbury won Australia's first ever Winter Olympics gold medal after every other competitor crashed on the final turn of the final lap. Bradbury, who hopelessly behind at that point, simply glided to victory past the other fallen skaters scrambling to get back on their feet. Since then, "doing a Bradbury" has become Australian slang for "a fortuitous event".
  • This was the (unintentional) strategy that won Super Bowl LI for the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons after the Falcons had run up a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter. The Patriots held the ball for a little over 40 minutes of game time, and literally ran twice as many offensive plays as the Falcons did. This imbalance was in place even before the comeback started, despite the lopsided score, as the Falcons were either scoring quickly or punting quickly, while the Patriots kept grinding out yards despite almost nothing to show for it, forcing the Falcons defense to keep running all over the field. By the fourth quarter, the Falcons defense was totally gassed, and were steamrollered for the rest of the game.
  • This is largely how Rafael Nadal has won ten French Open championships, while winning "only" six other Major championships combined. The clay courts of the French Open take more speed of the ball when it bounces on them, compared to the grass courts of Wimbledon or the hard courts in the US and Australian opens. This makes it relatively harder to blast a winner by your opponent. Nadal, who is in great shape even compared to other top level pro tennis players, can thus run down balls for hours on end, and his opponents struggle to keep up. With a full five set match potentially pushing five hours in time, Nadal can win by attrition.
  • An extremely common strategy in the grueling, five-day matches of cricket. Remaining on the field for hours on end while also bowling/chasing after the ball is extremely tiring. Many teams have tried to capitalize on this by using defensive, technically-sound batsmen who simply play as long as they can while taking no risks, grinding down the opposition bowlers. Once they are suitably gassed out, the batsman (or his other team-mates) can then take advantage to build up huge scores.

    Tabletop Games 
  • As a general example, this is the premise behind a mill deck in collectible card games. Rather than directly defeating the opponent, a mill deck causes the opponent to run out of resources, usually by depleting the opponent's deck, which is an Instant Loss Condition for many card games.
  • Shadowrun. The barghest uses its fear-causing howl to drive its prey for long distances until they are exhausted and it can close in for the kill.
  • For Ars Magica, the Houses of Hermes supplement introduced a more visceral alternative to the Certámen ritual combat, preferred by the House Flambeau - the Test of Flames, aka Inirelte's Certámen. It conjures up a circle of fire, and the winner is whoever can stay inside longest.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has both strategic and gameplay examples:
    • The Tau use this during conflicts with much larger and more established galactic powers like the Imperium of Man, as best seen during the Damocles Gulf Crusade and the Taros campaign. The Tau see little point in desperate battles to hold ground, and will fall back from a strong enemy offensive, offering only what resistance is needed to cover their retreat, before regrouping at rally points. As their enemy advances, the Tau use their superior mobility to harry their foe's flanks, compromising their strategy or forcing them to spread themselves thin. Eventually the Tau's opponents end up under-strength and unable to press their numerical advantage.
      • In tabletop, this is demonstrated by one of the two Tau strategies, dubbed Kauyon or "Patient Hunter" in fluff. A maneuverable mechanized Tau force or Tau "British Gunline" can force a slow game, prevent itself from being pinned into decisive encounters, cap or contest objectives, and only get into exchanges when they are favorable trades for the Tau while concentrating firepower on critical enemy units. This kind of plan, when successful, results in a (for Warhammer) relatively low-casualty game which the Tau control the pace of while grinding out a win. What makes this unusual is the Tau are relatively squishy; they achieve a Victory by Endurance through maneuver and board control.
    • On the tabletop, this is how units devoted to Nurgle work. Unlike other Chaos Gods, Nurgle's daemons or mortal champions can't quickly crush their enemies in close combat or blow them apart with magic, but are instead inhumanly tough. So if a unit of Plague Marines can't achieve a decisive victory in the first round of combat, between their Powered Armor, inability to feel pain, and diseased bulk, the enemy is going to struggle to inflict casualties, while the Plague Marines steadily chip away at them. Worse, the blessing of Nurgle means that simply being in close combat with the likes of Plaguebearers is eventually lethal, regardless of whether they land any blows.
    • Tarpit units are meant to charge into powerful enemies not to kill them, but to take them out of the fight. Very few Warhammer units have the ability to jump out of close combat, and once in combat you can't do anything else. Hence one of the easiest ways to remove a problematic unit that you have no idea how to deal with is to simply throw cheap cannon fodder at it; the game usually lasts 6 turns and if the unit is big enough it can conceivably tie up the enemy unit for the duration of the game, effectively "wasting" that unit for your opponent. This is specifically a counter for Deathstar Units, as if you managed to tie up a unit that the entire enemy strategy is hinged around, you pretty much have won the game.
  • This is the core strategy of the Dromoka brood in Magic: The Gathering. Strength, speed, cunning, and ruthlessness are all meaningless if you simply can't be beaten.
  • This is one of the strategies behind Monopoly. The player with the most money wins...but even if one player has $1 and everyone else has nothing, that one dollar is still the most money!

    Video Games 
  • Pretty much how Pokémon Battles are played out. Generally, the player will have a full party of six Pokemon, whereas NPC Trainers will almost always have fewer than six. Most notably are the Gym Leaders whom the player can beat by simply outlasting their team, even if their party is under-leveled and or doesn't have any Pokemon with a type advantage against the Gym Leader. Players will start facing full teams once they get to the endgame sections with the Elite Four in particular. This is different in the anime, where a set of match rules are agreed upon between trainers before the fight starts, such as both parties agreeing to only use X number of Pokemon. This is seen most often against Gym Leaders and Pokemon tournaments.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the Stall tactic in the competitive scene. Entry hazards, status conditions like poison, and healing moves like Recover and Wish mean that certain very tanky pokemon can simply outlast whatever the opponent can throw at them. Stall players tend to abuse Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors to force the opponent to constantly switch to their counter to whatever the Stall user has out, letting them switch to something else or heal up in the meantime, all while the opponent's health is cut into by the above damage sources.
    • Similarly, in Pokémon GO, gyms have a set number of Pokémon, while the player can crash their team against it as long as they like. As you defeat Pokémon and degrade the Motivation of a gym Pokémon, they get weaker. So long as your potion supply isn't an issue and you can reliably beat at least one each time, victory is more or less certain barring outside interferences. On the flip side, gym battles are timed events, and timing out is an automatic loss for the player. With a sufficiently bulky defending Pokémon (Blissey is infamous for this), the defender doesn't need to be able to beat you, only outlast you.
  • According to the Codex in Mass Effect, this is humanity's main method of fighting. Humanity attacks the enemy's supplies and resources foremost, leaving their forces to "wither on the vine" until their fleets can curb stomp them.
  • In Super Mario RPG, Culex, unlike every other boss in the game, has a finite FP pool for spellcasting. If you can tank his attacks for long enough, he effectively takes himself out of the fight. This does not, however, solve the problem of his four elemental crystals which aid him in battle, and which do have limitless FP.
  • In Civilization V, if an AI civ with a high "boldness" rating and far more units than you declares war, and your city is well defended with ranged units, they will dash most of their units against your city, often opening themselves up to counter-attack if you play your own units wisely.
  • Advanced V.G. II:
    • First seen when Chiho avoids a fight with her cousin, Kyoko, by tricking Tamao into fighting Kyoko for her. As soon as Tamao defeats her, Chiho takes advantage by taking Kyoko out with a shuriken, while she's exhausted.
    • Miranda employed a similar tactic, by having the Material Twins attack Yuka and Tamao. Then immediately capitalized on Yuka's weakened state, in order to defeat her.
    • Except Yuka was still able to put up enough of a fight to weaken Miranda, which enabled Tamao to return the favor by finish her off.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Hades sends minion after minion against Hercules, playing on his pride to fight them on his own instead of accepting help. Hercules is left so exhausted that he's almost killed by Auron before Sora, Donald, and Goofy save him.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Organization XIII lures Sora into their realm where the darkness itself slowly erodes his Heart and then Xemnas attacks him. Sora narrowly manages to defeat him, but is so exhausted that he can put up no resistance when Young Xehanort shows up, who even comments that Sora made it too easy.
  • In the Backyard Sports game Backyard Soccer, if you gain a significant lead in points, one of the commentators, Earl Grey, brings up this point.
    Earl Grey: If they didn't love the game so much, I'd think they'd try and let the clock run out.
  • Sparing boss monsters in Undertale generally works this way. You have to keep stalling or use some other means to increase your chances of survival and then swoop in to give the boss monster mercy, ending the fight without killing them.
  • In Devil May Cry 3, Jester waits until Dante, Vergil, and Lady exhausted themselves fighting each other to attack them. Jester pulls a Bare-Handed Blade Block on Vergil and comments he would not have been able to do that if Vergil were fresh.
  • The battle against the Masked Man in Mother 3 is like this. Lucas must simply keep himself alive until he removes his helmet and throws lightning, which is immediately reflected back, killing him.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has two optional side missions where the trope name is taken literally. One requires Michael to walk the equivalent of 5 in-game miles through a desert region, which takes a number of very boring minutes to complete. The other is an in-game triathlon that covers a large portion of the game map and involves the player button-mashing for close to 20 minutes as the player character swims the length of an inland sea (a task that by itself it takes nearly 10 minutes to complete), then cycles for several miles, and then engages in a foot race. Numerous players have reported that by the end of the mission, you feel like you've run a marathon yourself.
  • The Witcher 3: One piece of combat advice given in-game when it comes to armored enemy such as soldiers with shields, is to wear down their stamina, which makes it easier to attack them.
  • In the Ensemble Stars! main story, fine is unstoppable: each of its idols are incredibly talented and hard-working, and they have a huge number of fans, who are ultimately the ones who decide the outcome of lives. However, they have one weakness: their charismatic leader Eichi suffers from an illness that means he must take care not to exert himself. So Trickstar and its allies attack him in the DD by forcing him to face against the strongest opponents possible before the final, with units like Ryuuseitai willingly sacrificing themselves in the first round so that Eichi cannot take any breaks. Ultimately, Eichi is barely able to cling on through to the finals, but the votes are too close to call and the units are ordered to go into sudden death. Already barely able to stand, Eichi concedes defeat, granting Trickstar the victory. Interestingly, nobody really comments that taking advantage of an opponent's chronic illness would typically be considered unsportsmanlike, but the ultimate result is pretty universally considered good.
  • Attempted but defied in Sonic and the Secret Rings. Despite being knocked out of his final boss form by Sonic, Erazor gloats that he's an immortal genie and can simply get back up and keep going until he beats Sonic. But he didn't count on Shahra having left Erazor's lamp for Sonic. Sonic defeats Erazor by sealing him within the lamp.
  • Thanks to the player's inability to actually attack, boss battles in Just Shapes & Beats mostly come down to this.
  • In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, this is Kindle's strategy in Healing Touch. She starts with an entire army of units with only 10% health, but she has five Black Crystals each which recharge 20% health to any of her units within a few spaces at the start of each turn.
    Kindle: Aha ha ha ha! All we have to do is repair our units! We'll win eventually!
  • This is a viable tactic against a number of robot masters in the Mega Man series. A good example is when facing Hard Man in Mega Man 3, who you only need to show up with full health and dodge his headbutt attack: you can get hit with every single one of his projectiles and, as long as you keep shooting, he will go down before you do.
  • In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, this is your best tactic in beating the otherwise nightmarish Boxing Minigame. The enemy is coded to deliberately try to punch around your blocks when you're on the defensive, but when you're throwing punches he'll just pick attacks at random to use. If you just keep holding forward and mashing O to throw quick jabs as quickly as possible, he'll take hits 66% of the time on average because two of his possible attacks are slower than your jabs. You'll take a lot of hits, and you won't always win, but you'll get lucky and win on your first or second try which is long before you would if you tried to win this odious fight the "proper" way.

  • El Goonish Shive: This is how Nanase and Ellen manage to defeat Not-Tengu. Even in their Guardian Forms, they know that they don't stand a very good chance against him in a direct fight as long as he's in his demonform. But they also know that Not-Tengu's only as powerful as he is because he's been drawing on the massive levels of ambient magic around Moperville, so they simply dodge and evade him until the three of them burn through all the ambient energy in the immediate vicinity. Not-Tengu had burnt through most of his own reserve by this point as well, so he loses his flight spell and demonform. Nanase and Ellen, on the other hand, had been careful to only use ambient magic to fuel their Guardian Forms and still had most of their own magic left, enough to hold Guardian Form for a while.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • When the Order went up against an enemy adventuring party, Vaarsuvius overruled Roy's strategy to hold and fight, instead running for as long as possible. The Order's mount was faster, so the enemy's psion had to repeatedly open dimensional gates in an attempt to cut them off, burning through her psionic points. Later when they had a proper battle, V dueled the psion and spammed mid-level spells instead of going for a kill. The increasingly irritated psion pointed out that she could counter any spell V cast, but V informed her that the wizard had twenty-five spells left. The psion promptly teleported away after realizing V could outlast her. V was able to determine in advance exactly what it would take to win this battle of endurance because a demon with her own grudge against those enemy adventurers had given V detailed information about the psion's level (and thus how many psionic points she had) as well as her tendency to rapidly burn through those points early in a battle.
    • A pair of dwarven clerics managed to annoy a monster into retreat by virtue of Cure [x] Wounds spells immediately after every attack they suffered.
  • Alison Green of Strong Female Protagonist is a Flying Brick former superhero with a fighting style built around tanking damage, while waiting for the right opening when she could end the fight with a single punch. She later realises that she was taking the same approach to fighting social injustice, always looking for the perfect solution, while disagreeing with her former allies and teammates who had found smaller, imperfect ways to try and make the world a better place.
    "Looking for the perfect answer to the world's problems is like looking for the perfect punch. It's only a good idea if you were never in danger to begin with."
  • In Weak Hero, Ben's victory against Jimmy Bae is won by outpacing him, enduring his hits until Jimmy's muscles are so exhausted that his punches do nothing.

    Web Original 
  • Hayate adopts this tactic in Dead Fantasy V, by having his ninja assault Tifa after she's been beaten and severely weakened by Hitomi. Hayate doesn't attack until she's on the brink of exhaustion; having expended her remaining energy dispatching all but two of his squad.
  • In the chapter Scarab 25.3 of Worm, The Chicago Wards pull this off against the supervillains Topsy, Watch, and Mockshow, by cutting off their communications, disabling their transportation, and driving them out into the street in the middle of December. They then wall off all the escape routes, having diverted civilian traffic, and wait until the villains surrender.
  • This is how Vegeta killed Shadow the Hedgehog in their Death Battle. Shadow, in his Super Mode, was Nigh-Invulnerable, but this form has a time limit. Vegeta has repeatedly shown that he can take a severe beating and still continue to fight, so once Shadow dropped back to his normal form, one blast was all it took.
  • Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Abridged: In Episode 7, Saber attempts this and fails. When Caster attacks her group, Saber intends to stall and endure Caster's attacks until she runs out of Mana. Caster comments on her error and mocks Shirou and Rin for forgetting to tell Saber that Caster has unlimited Mana inside her territory.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In the "Four Star Spectacular!" short "Flash in Double Jeopardy", Mirror Master traps Flash in a Hall of Mirrors and attacks him with a neverending army of duplicates, saying they won't stop until Flash is tired and they kill him. Flash takes down duplicate after duplicate and does start to get tired. Fortunately, he figures out which is the real Mirror Master and knocks him out, making the duplicates disappear.
  • Big City Greens: In "Winner Winner", Tilly unwittingly enters a boxing match and, not wanting to hurt anyone, keeps dodging until her opponent becomes too tired to keep fighting.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch had Rodney Dangerfield win a match against Don Rickles this way: by goading Don to throw out insult after insult at him while Rodney's Self-Deprecation hinted "I could insult myself better than you can insult me!" he got Don to burn out his material too soon. Rodney went, "Okay, Cueball, now it's time to teach YOU some Respect!" and began to lay a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with each blow spelled out with a letter from the word "Respect." Johnny Gomez commented Rodney used the "rope-a-dope" strategy on Don.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: In A Knight for a Day, the ersatz knight Cedric manages to beat Sir Cumfrence this way, hiding in his armor until his opponent wears himself out trying to bust it open.
  • Done by Courage the Cowardly Dog, who still kept going despite being bashed, mashed, and ripped to a pulp by a hypercompetent Do-Anything Robot dog to regain Muriel's love, to the point that he only wins by being beaten long enough for the robot to short circuit and explode.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: The episode "There's no Fuel Like a Re-Fool" starts in the middle of an endurance hunt with the Vulture Squadron waiting until the Yankee Doodle Pigeon is too tired to properly escape. By the time the pigeon is about to be captured however, the planes run out of fuel, making it a narrow victory for Yankee Doodle Pigeon. The rest of the episode is centered about the squadron's attempts to make sure fuel won't be a problem anymore.
  • Family Guy: One episode shows actress Carol Channing (b. 1921) in a boxing match against Mike Tyson. Despite a flurry of brutal offense from Tyson, Channing keeps getting up as if all that punishment doesn't bother her ("That all you got you son of a bitch? You're going down, young man!"). Eventually, Tyson passes out from exhaustion, thus losing the match.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • In "A Leaf in the Wind", pro-bending team the Fire Ferrets pull this off twice. In the first instance, Mako is the only one left standing, so he just dodges until his opponents get tired, which allows him to take all three out. In the second, Mako and Bolin are pinned while Korra is nearly forced off the edge. Korra has an epiphany about airbending movements, which allows her to dodge perfectly, achieving the same result as Mako.
    • In the Book 3 finale, the villain attempts this with Korra. Zaheer knows there’s no way he can beat her in the Avatar state, but since she's already been a victim of mercury poisoning, his plan once she escapes her bonds is just to outrun her until the poison overwhelms her. The only reason it doesn't work is because Jinora comes up with a plan help to Korra at the last second.
  • Looney Tunes
    • In "Gorilla My Dreams", Bugs Bunny is being chased by a gorilla. Just when things seem hopeless for Bugs, he finds that by the time the gorilla has caught him he was too tired to beat him up and falls over exhausted.
    • Pepé Le Pew. He has a flamboyant hop which allows him to keep pace with a fleeing mate without tiring himself. The faster she runs, the more helpless she'll be when he catches her. Ironically, there was at least one cartoon where that very tactic was used against him.
  • Attempted but subverted in Samurai Jack's 5th season. Aku destroyed all of the time portals, thus preventing Jack from returning to the past and "Undo the future that is Aku!" He figured he could just wait a few decades and Jack would die naturally. Problem is, the spell Aku used to send Jack into the future has also made the Samurai The Ageless. In short, Aku's attempt at pragmatism has only ensured that Jack will be a thorn in his side forever.
    • Played straight in the fight against the Guardian. Jack tries every attack he can against him, using his sword, using other weapons, going hand to hand, and even using the Guardian's own weapons against him, but nothing seems to work. In fact by the time he tries the last option, Jack's utterly worn out... and it doesn't do anything to the Guardian except destroy his suit and make him angry. An utter No-Holds-Barred Beatdown ensued and the Guardian would've outright killed Jack if the portal hadn't stopped him and had Jack sent away.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: The villain Arabus suffers from powers Cast from Stamina — he's very powerful, too powerful to beat in a direct fight, but his power stores are finite and drained bit by bit every time they're used. Consequently, the flutter ponies deal with him by using their superior speed and agility to keep him fighting without a chance to recharge his powers, forcing him to exhaust himself before hitting with the Utter Flutter to defeat him.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Homer They Fall", Homer learns he has Homer Simpson Syndrome ("ohh, why me!?") where his brain is surrounded by 1/8 inch more cushioning fluid than usual, making him the perfect boxer. He just waits for the other guy to tire himself out punching him, at which point Homer can just push the other guy down — with force insufficient to kill a fly — for a KO. This unfortunately proved insufficient when Homer went up against a Mike Tyson expy...
  • The Transformers: Blitzwing uses this in "Triple Takeover". He stays in a football stadium and lets the Autobots come to him, having to get through a maze guarded by the Constructicons. By the time they reach him, they're injured and exhausted, and he casually tramples them and makes a throne from their bodies.

    Real Life 
  • The "endurance hunt", thought by anthropologists to be the hunting method that put humanity at the top of the food chain. It is a method of hunting by tracking and chasing a single target for as long as it takes for it to get tired. While most animals can easily outpace humanity in short bursts, no other species has our potential for endurance (basically, you follow your prey at a brisk walk until it drops from heat exhaustion). As long as the human is persistent enough, eventually the animal will be too tired to run or fight and collapse. Then it's pretty much over. However, human endurance hunting is limited to warm or hot climates—humans' relative stamina relies on ability to sweat with access to water while their hunted prey will overheat, so that method doesn't work in temperate or cold climates.
    • Even in temperate and cold climates, One Hit Kills with arrow or spear weren't guaranteed even for skilled hunters, so wounded prey often had to be tracked overland. Bloodloss and panic would wear the prey's endurance down while the hunter followed.
  • Another real life example is wolves, which are as adapted to cold weather endurance as humans are to warm. When the two species started working together (with wolves becoming dogs), everything made of meat was basically screwed.
  • Komodo dragons. The Komodo has a very nasty venomous bite that causes, among other things, inhibition of blood clotting, lowered blood pressure, hypothermia (as a result of the previous two), and paralysis. It will chase and bite its prey again and again relentlessly, using its superior stamina compared to other lizards as a weapon, until the prey falls dead from shock.
  • Anglosphere popular culture would consider this "the Russia Gambit", as this is how people in English-speaking countries believe Russia won the The Napoleonic Wars and World War II, supposedly by Russia constantly retreating into colder and colder territory while using their near-limitless numbers to slowly wear the invaders down. The reality is that while weather and climate are significant factors in warfare within Russia, they are only problematic when you fail to respect them. Moreover while it is true that powerful combatants like France and Russia have fielded, destroyed, and lost forces on a vastly larger scale to countries like the USA and Britain, the actual resources of such countries are hardly infinite.
    • The Napoleonic Wars were actually a subversion in many ways, as the Russian Army in 1812 was heavily outnumbered by the French and their allies, and the Grande Armée sustained the majority of its losses (through exhaustion, dysentery and typhoid fever) in the summer and early autumn, on the way to Moscow. But the war still lasted well over a year after the French re-crossed the Russian border, and in the spring of 1813, despite one major ally (Austria) declaring itself neutral and another (Prussia) joining the Russian side with a much-expanded army, Napoleon succeeded in assembling an army in Germany well superior in numbers to the Russo-Prussian forces. It was only after Austria joined the anti-Napoleonic alliance that Napoleon's forces became numerically inferior.
    • The Eastern Theatre of World War II was won by endurance, but this had nothing to do with "weather" or "limitless numbers". Soviet resources were perilously finite, and carefully husbanding what was left after the first Winter Counter-Offensive was the key to victory.
  • The Vietnam War also counts, with North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh famously declaring "if the Americans want to make war for twenty years then we shall make war for twenty years. If they want to make peace, we shall make peace and invite them to afternoon tea." In the end, the Americans underestimated the North's will to fight for years against a technologically superior foe while also taking horrendous losses. In other words, the U.S. military could go home after the war whether they won or lost, while the North Vietnamese's only option was to win the fight because they had nowhere else to go.
    • In fact, this is one of the two most often employed strategies by the Vietnamese (the other being guerrilla warfare). The longest war in their history lasted for 1000 years (Nghìn năm Bắc Thuộc or 1000 Years of Northern Oppression). Entirely justified since their opponents almost always have superior resources.
  • China. Jiang Jieshi gambled on the Japanese suing for peace rather than prosecuting a protracted war, which he believed that his Chinese government could well withstand - if not quite win, as such - and figured that when faced with the prospect of a full-out war the Imperials would accept a face-saving settlement note  Unfortunately, the Japanese expected that the prospect of protracted warfare would cause Jiang to fold and come to the negotiating table first, also failing to understand that the ''Nationalist'' Party couldn't be seen to cave in to Foreign Imperialism in an unequal settlement of the kind that the Japanese wanted from the conflict, because doing so would be tantamount to political suicide. So both sides escalated the war. They were still dogging it out when the USA used Japan's occupation of Indochina as a pretext for embargoing Japan in an attempt to get them to negotiate an end to the war. Because the ruling clique back home couldn't be seen to back down to 'American Imperialism', Japan entered the wider war with an all-out naval-based invasion and occupation of south-east Asia. Allocated secondary importance in the Pacific War — the USA decided that it would use its own forces to 'island hop' its way over to Japan, instead of deploying US forces in China and/or equipping Jiang's forces such that they could go on the offensive themselves, both of which would require ridiclously complex supply lines — the Guomindang was basically made to sit out the rest of the war and given just enough lend-lease material not to become a liability to the Allied cause. In the end, the Guomindang survived the war -0 but once the supply of American money was cut off at the war's end, their regime imploded. They'd been on the edge of doing so in 1942, and American money had staved it off for a while, but they hadn't been given enough to actually fix their problems - just enough to put them off for another day. In 1946, that day came hard.
    • In fact this was quite basically the entire Allies' modus operandi for the entire war: with 60% of the world's industry and 80% of its manpower, the Allies never really had to worry about losing once it became clear that the Soviet Union wasn't going to sue for peace in 1941-42 - not that Hitler would've accepted their proposals, of course. Nor could even Stalin have survived consigning 40 million of his people to death and another 120 million to slavery by a foreign dictator - if the Soviet leadership hadn't lynched him for trying it, the proletariat would've done it themselves.
    • The RAF, US Army Air Force, and US Navy Air Force firebombing and anti-barge campaign against Germany, Occupied Europe, and Japan eventually began to have a noticeable effect upon Axis military production by early 1945. Until then, it had cost the lives of fifty thousand airmen and hundreds of thousands of civilians to get to that point, and still wasn't anywhere near worthwhile from a pure cost/benefit perspective.
    • Japan's initial strategy in WWII was a fast war, defeating the US Navy in a decisive sea battle and suing for an advantageous peace before the American industrial capacities put that goal out of reachnote . Later, when they were losing, that changed to giving the US losses so horrendous that the latter would sue for a peace where they at least could have a somewhat upper hand.
  • In a Real Life knife fight between two skilled opponents, if you can't get an easy kill, the idea is to nick the other guy and let him "bleed out". Which doesn't mean he bleeds to death, it means the blood loss tires him out and leaves him vulnerable to a killing stab.
    • It's also worth noting that this tactic not only can easily be applied to combat of just about any form, but often is the deciding factor. The more a fighter exerts themselves during an offensive, the quicker they will tire. Violence is one of the most physically draining activities that human beings can engage in, and if a victory isn't achieved within the first minute, it's extremely likely that the fight will end in favour of whoever has greater endurance.
  • In one Grand Prix race in the 1930s, William Grover Williams, racing for French automaker Bugatti, was up against a German team whose cars were more powerful. Williams realized that he couldn't catch the German leader in a flat-out race, but that the German's more powerful engine would drink fuel faster than the lighter Bugatti, so he eased off and waited for the German to put in for more fuel. During the time it took for the German to refuel, Williams overtook his pole position and secured his spot at the head of the pack, winning the race.
    • This is still a viable way to win a race, much to the dismay of some NASCAR fans. (Although 'who runs out of fuel first?' drama is something in and of itself when you have multiple teams trying it at once... )
  • Roman formations were used to capitalize on this.
    • That, and the front ranks could be easily allowed to retreat to the rear for a break while fresher troops stepped up (also, the knowledge that if they can survive the first 2 minutes of a battle, they would be rotated out to safety, goes a long way to encourage the front rankers to fight harder).
    • Speaking of the Romans, their victory in the First and Second Punic War fits the description, as they soaked up tremendous losses (in the First Punic War, Rome lost two entire fleets crewed by about 100,000 men each to storms) and crushing defeats (e.g. against Hannibal in the Second Punic War) but kept on fighting for years until they eventually won. Moreover, Rome could replace their losses at a quick pace and had a steady flow of resources, whilst Hannibal had a finite amount of troops and no means of replacing any of his losses.
      • This is either the or one of the first times this tactic was used as a military doctrine: They later named it the Fabian strategy after the guy who came up with it, Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus. Despite essentially keeping the Roman military from being destroyed, he still faced massive popularity losses since he refused to directly engage Hannibal while his troops pillaged Italy.
      • The Romans were also willing to work together and gear everything towards the war effort, whilst Hannibal was often undermined by in-fighting at home.
  • In a number of cases a war of attrition has been the way to prevail against an alliance, in effect by continuing to fight until the differences among the powers fighting you become so great that the alliance fractures, or you even succeed in wooing one of the allied powers away from the others.
    • In The Hundred Years War, Henry V of England was allied to the Burgundians, which put him into a seemingly unassailable position to rule France, yet the Dauphin (later Charles VII) fought on and in the end succeeded in coming to an accomodation with Burgundy, which enabled his forces to drive out the now outnumbered English during the reign of Henry VI.
    • France came out of the War of Spanish Succession in much better shape than expected because the war continued until the Habsburg claimant to the Spanish throne died, leaving the German emperor as next in line and thus creating the possibility of one Habsburg ruler of both the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. This led to the British concluding a separate peace and the French winning the final battle of Dinant against the Austrians and Dutch.
    • The Seven Years' War from the Prussian side became a war of attrition after the Prussians began to suffer serious defeats starting in 1757 at Kolin. Frederick the Great continued the fight until some of the powers fighting him dropped out of the alliance (first Russia, then Sweden) and Maria Theresia's other allies lost their determination to reduce Prussia to a marquisat of Brandenburg. But it was a close-run thing, and Frederick would have failed without British subsidies.
    • Similarly, the first French Republic profited from Prussia and Spain leaving the anti-Revolutionary alliance in early 1795 and concluding separate peace treaties in Basel.
    • This was the Austrian strategy in the 1848 campaign of the First War of Italian Independence, against an alliance of all the Italian states except San Marino and the Duchy of Lucca (the two smallest ones): while normally Austria could have crushed all the Italian states at once, the Revolutions of 1848 had deprived them of their forward base in Milan and the naval base in Venice and caused assorted troubles that kept most of their forces outside Italy and even threatened the very existence of Austria, so feldmarshall Joseph Radetzky opted for a fighting retreat toward the Quadrilateral Fortresses (a system of four fortified cities that operated as rearguard bases and fortified line), knowing that while the Kingdom of Sardinia and many volunteers believed in the cause, everyone else was in only for the Revolutions of 1848 and didn't trust the king of Sardinia, Carlo Alberto, at all. As expected, the alliance collapsed when the Pope ordered the retreat of his troops, precipitating the retreat of the other large states, and while the Sardinians and the volunteers were able to breach the Quadrilateral with the conquest of Peschiera, it exhausted their forces, allowing Radetzky (who in the meantime had received some reinforcements) to defeat the Sardinians and launch a counteroffensive.
    • In World War II, this was the ultimate motivation for Hitler launching the Battle of the Bulge; he hoped that he could either inflict such disproportionate losses on the American side that they'd quit on Great Britain, accusing the later of using them for Cannon Fodder, or failing that, delay the Western Allies advance long enough for tensions between them and Stalin's USSR (which he saw as a fundamental unnatural alliance) to boil over and allow him to make a separate peace. Unfortunately, everyone involved hated the Nazis so much that they were willing to see the war through to the end, after which the alliance did collapse into the Cold War.
    • This had also been the Nazi strategy against Britain prior to American entry into the war. Britain was not self-sufficient, and as an island nation, the only way to import the necessary supplies was by sea. Thus, Germany sent out hundreds of U-boats (eventually over a thousand of the submarines) and a handful of surface ships to act as commerce raiders, with the goal of sinking as many British merchant ships as possible. The thinking was that if British merchant ships could be sunk faster than replacements could be built, eventually Britain would run out of ships entirely and be forced to surrender, while Germany (which could bring in fuel and raw materials by land rather than by sea) could outlast them.
  • This was Italy's initial strategy in World War I: the Italian commander-in-chief Luigi Cadorna knew his troops couldn't match Austria-Hungary in terms of equipment (even if they did ultimately manage to almost bridge the gap, with Italy actually achieving a superiority in artillery), so he gambled on the enemy having to fight on two fronts (with the other being Russia) to achieve local superiority. It ended up failing, but barely: Austria-Hungary ended up breaking through the Italian lines and giving Italy a hell of a Curb-Stomp Battle at Caporetto (to this day, over a hundred years after the battle, Italians still use the name "Caporetto" to indicate "crushing defeat"), but the Austro-Hungarians were on the verge of collapsing and in an untenable position (that's why they attacked in the first place), and the only reason they managed to pull it off was a combination of idiocy from Italian officers (who could have spoiled the attack had they been smart enough to act on the intelligence they had), the unexpected Russian collapse allowing the Austro-Hungarians to bring most of their forces to the Italian front, and Italian politicians declaring war on Germany too, thus giving them the excuse they needed to send in some elite forces to soften up the Italian lines.
    • Then done successfully by Cadorna's successor Armando Diaz: the Italians were on the defensive and forced to mobilize their last reserves, but their main weapon factories (a major target of the Austro-Hungarian offensive) were intact and free (thanks to a mountain Cadorna had filled with artillery specifically for this case), Germany had recalled their troops, Allied support had finally bridged the equipment gap, and Austria-Hungary had mobilized their last reserves before Caporetto, thus they couldn't replace the losses from their attempts at breaking the new Italian defensive line.
  • Roadrunners prefer to hunt rattlesnakes around dawn so that the snake doesn't have a chance to warm up in the sun, as cold makes them slow and lethargic. They will also make the snake strike and miss until the snake is tired.
  • During the American Civil War, both sides wanted to use this after the initial battles of the war showed that neither side would end the fight quickly. The Confederate States of America hoped to fight a defensive war until economic pressure gave them foreign allies who would force the United States of America to stop fighting. The Union's Anaconda Plan intended to squeeze the fight out of the South by taking the Mississippi River and cutting the Confederacy into pieces while blockading it to keep it from using its control of cotton to stay solvent and gain allies. The South's strategy died after the battle of Antietam gave Lincoln an opening to use the Emancipation Proclamation and focus foreign attention on slavery rather than purely economic terms.note  When the South tried to alter their strategy, Gettysburg forced them back on the defensive. Over the course of the war, the North realized that since the South had so much less manpower than the North (the North could field about twice as many soldiers as the South) that it actually benefited the South more than the North for the North to continue prisoner exchanges. The resulting end of the exchanges led to the South being ground down on the defensive, facing larger manpower shortages than ever before, with no hope of foreign allies coming to their aid, debts mounting, and Sherman's March to the Sea bringing the war to Southern civilians, providing a good incentive for slaves deep in the South to run away and hurt the economy even more.
    General Sherman: I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring till the South begs for mercy.
  • This was the key to Mexico's victory against France and their Puppet King Maximillian Hapsburg during the French intervention in Mexico. A critical Hold the Line victory at Puebla on Cinco de Mayo delayed the French long enough for La Résistance to be organized, and also gave the Union the opportunity to turn the tables against the Confederacy. The Mexican republicans then held out long enough for a re-united U.S. to start using diplomatic and military pressure to "persuade" the French to leave Mexico. The French public was also getting increasingly irate at the huge amounts of money the French government was sinking into the Mexican adventure, despite their inability to defeat the Mexicans, and wanting military resources focused more on the rising threat of Prussia.
  • A lot of historical sieges would end up this way, especially in eras prior to organized supply trains when armies fed off the surrounding land as a rule - Storming the Castle was relatively rare due to the difficulty of attacking well-fortified positions. Many sieges were endurance contests of which side could keep their army together and fed longer before the other side gave up.
  • Business competing with each other have been known to do this. For instance, business A lowers prices to undercut business B, until both businesses are operating at very low profit margin - sometimes even at a loss. The business who can keep on tanking the low margins longer will eventually win.
  • This is the unscrupulous point behind SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuits: forcing the target to put up a legal defense until the costs or stress get to a point where they just give up.
    • For that matter, many, many legal cases in the United States, both civil and criminal, never see the light of a court room as many are settled out of court before they ever face a trial. For Civil cases, this is often done by the Defense to avoid the Discovery Phase or to avoid turning a potentially unfavorable ruling that could create case law that greatly harms them. In criminal law, it can depend on how likely the prosecution is to get a conviction on the charges as well as the defense's unwillingness to risk going to jail.


Video Example(s):


Winner Winner

Tilly manages to win a trophy from Community Sue by dodging her opponent's attacks until she collapses from exhaustion.

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Example of:

Main / VictoryByEndurance

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Main / VictoryByEndurance