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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 an injured 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, hitting a tender spot, 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).
  • 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, Long Game, My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever, Super-Persistent Predator, Death of a Thousand Cuts, or Hit-and-Run Tactics.

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

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Deconstructed during the Maximum Tournament in Baki the Grappler. Chiharu Shiba wins both of his matches because he's got an insane willingness to endure pain and is too tough and stubborn to stay down no matter what he gets hit with. In his first fight a martial artist break Shiba's arm and promptly celebrates, as he thinks the injury will force Shiba to withdraw. Instead Shiba breaks his own arm in multiple places just to show how little he cares about or feels the pain. In his second fight Shiba takes a vicious and one-sided beating from a world champion boxer, but the boxer's manager withdraws the boxer after the boxer injures his hands beating Shiba's face in, not wanting the boxer to damage his lucrative boxing career just to win an underground fighting tournament. So Shiba wins both of his fights through sheer endurance and pain tolerance... and winds up too badly injured to compete any longer in the tournament.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, then slowly whittles him down with occasional hits. 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. This is ultimately how Goku's universe wins, as after he uses Ultra Instinct to counter Jiren's Begin with a Finisher tactic and wear him down, he's able to team up with Frieza for a ring-out with Android 17 being the last man standing.
    • 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".
    • Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, as after Vegeta determines that Jiren's secret is his energy conservation in all movements, he tries to apply the principle in his sparring match with Goku and finally beats him, as Goku collapsed first while Broly and Lemo look on with manly tears of joy.
  • 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.
  • Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]: Shirou Emiya was winning handily against Gilgamesh and even cuts off his arm, but he suddenly runs out of Mana, making him collapse. Gilgamesh comments on how anti-climactic that was and prepares to kill him. It took the Holy Grail and Archer interfering to save Shirou.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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).
    • While M'Quve's boast that Zeon "can fight another ten years if necessary" never amounted to anything but hot air in the original MSG, sequels Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack all bore it out: the various Zeon remnants such as Axis Zeon, Neo-Zeon, and Newborn Neo-Zeon each had ready access to all the gold they ever needed to continue fighting (and buy Axis in Char's Counterattack). So while they were never able to achieve actual victory over the Federation through their endurance, they ended up resisting the Feds for well over ten years.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Gecko Moria 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.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, 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 tired. 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 Pokémon Journeys: The Series, 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.
  • The Prince of Tennis
    • The initial bout between Kaoru Kaidou and Ryoma. Kaidou'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.
    • This is also a favorite strategy of Keigo Atobe, who will sometimes drag his matches out into a tie-breaker. In the sequel, he goes so far as to disguise himself as Master of Disguise Niou for a doubles match partnering Fuji, just so the strategist for the Australian team in the World Cup won't expect this strategy from him, which gives Fuji enough time to see through their opponents' abilities and figure out a counter.
  • 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 inadvertent 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 the point of being unable to keep healing him.
  • Record of Ragnarok:
    • Adam is obviously more skilled than Zeus and punches him over and over while avoiding all of Zeus' attacks. However, Adam's body starts to overheat and break down from fighting at the level of a god. Zeus realizes the only way to win is to outlast him. In the end, Zeus collapses from extreme injuries, but Adam succumbed to his breakdown and Died Standing Up, giving Zeus the win.
    • Raiden Tameemon and Shiva's match also goes like this. Raiden's body starts breaking down from the strain of his own strength while Shiva uses a technique to burn up his own life force as fuel, which also makes his body burn and will eventually kill him if used for too long. Not to mention all the damage both of them take. In the end, Raiden's body gives out first, giving Shiva the win.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Yusuke 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!
    • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • This is how Bane defeats Batman in the Knightfall story arc: waiting until Batman has a normally inconvenient bout of the flu, Bane unleashes a mob of super-criminals from Arkham Asylum and waits 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.
    • 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."
  • 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.
  • In the 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...
  • Played with in Marvel Two-in-One annual #7, in which the alien Elder known as the Champion of the Universe defeats all of Earth's heroes in a boxing match, but the Thing manages to keep getting up and coming back for more after getting beaten down round after round. He doesn't win, but he manages to impress the Champion enough that he declares him a worthy adversary and decides to leave the Earth in peace.
  • An annual issue of The Punisher MAX has 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This is how the Green Goblin 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. 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.)
  • Wonder Woman (1942): 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 
  • Johanna Mason: They Will Never See Me Cry: The final battle of the 73rd Hunger Games has the last two Career tributes take down the boy from District 3 with some throwing knives and then battle for twenty minutes before they both die in a Mutual Kill. For a moment, it looks like there is no victor, before it turns out that Byte, the boy from District 3, is still clinging to life despite the knives in his back, and a medical team gets to him in time to treat his injuries and let him be crowned victor.
  • 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.
    • Back when Sunset Shimmer was Celestia's student, Trixie was created as a rival for her. At the time, her design was flawed and she couldn't recharge easily, meaning although she was powerful, Sunset could always outlast her.
    • Masquerade warns Shining Armor that even though he and his friends are stronger and better fighters, they will eventually run out of stamina and lose because she has so many agents to replace the ones who fall. Reinforcements arrive and Masquerade quickly realizes this trope is no longer at play and instantly leaves to activate Project Puppeteer.
  • 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.
  • Kabbalah: The Passive Conqueror: Arturia Alter and Inverse Tohka are roughly equal in strength, but Inverse Tohka runs out of energy first and loses.
  • Realm of Entwined Science and Sorcery — Academy City: Teitoku Kakine is eventually defeated when his reckless use of his powers makes him run out of mana, making him vulnerable.
  • This Bites!: How Captain T-Bone was able to defeat Rob Lucci in a three-day long battle. T-Bone's stamina and endurance are comparable to match up against Monkey D Luffy, and he is able to hold up against Lucci's strongest attacks for two nights and two days without rest, before defeating him in a final blow. Afterwards, Rob Lucci considers T-Bone a Worthy Opponent, and as he promised before his fight, he and the former agents of CP9 will join T-Bone and the New World Masons.
  • In Crimson and Noire, Master Fu and Marianne's original plan against the Butterfly villain Monarch was to invoke this trope. The Butterfly Miraculous was damaged years before the story, so they selected Crimson Beetle and Lady Noire to fight off the Akumas until the Monarch suffered enough damage that she could no longer use it. However, in the six months since her debut, she had sent twice as many Akumas compared to previous users who died after one or two years, and she shows no signs of slowing down. And with their aging bodies, Fu and Marianne have no choice but to prepare to pass the mantle of Guardians to the teen heroes in the hope they will find and defeat Monarch.
  • Fate Genesis: After Dr. Eggman manages to give Shinji Matou the ability to use Magecraft, Shinji revels in his new powers and tries to take Shirou on. But since he has no training and just keeps recklessly throwing out powerful spells, he eventually runs out of energy, allowing Shirou to knock him out.

    Films — Animated 
  • This is partially how Po defeats Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda. As Po's excessive body fat makes him immune to Tai Lung's nerve attack, all Tai Lung can do is hope to defeat him conventionally. However, Po's fatness and life spent as The Klutz building up a resistance to damage cause all of Tai Lung's attacks to keep bouncing off him. By the end of their battle, Tai Lung has tired himself out to such a point that he can't escape from Po's Wuxi Finger Hold before the latter uses it to banish him to the Spirit Realm.
  • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, this is basically how the Cat Creatures are defeated. In order to preserve their immortality, they needed to drain the heroes of their life force while the moon was in a proper position. However, with the aid of the zombies, who were actually the Cat Creatures' previous victims, the gang was able to hold the Cat Creatures off until the moon had passed, resulting in the creatures being reduced to dust.
    Velma: Looks like your nine lives are up!
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: In the final battle, Steven gets his powers back and defeats Spinel without ever actually fighting back. His Barrier Warrior powers let him deflect every single one of her blows, in an attempt to exhaust not just Spinel's physical stamina, but her will to fight. Ultimately, she causes her injector to explode in the middle of her frenzied attempts to kill him.
  • Justice League: Doom: Batman invokes this trope in his plan to defeat Wonder Woman should the need arise. Because she has no exploitable physical or mental weaknesses like the others, Batman's plan was designed to make her hallucinate enemies, playing on her warrior pride and refusal to surrender to exhaust herself fighting imaginary enemies instead of harming living beings. Like the other plans he created, this one was altered by Vandal Savage to be lethal, and in Diana's case, the change to the plan seems to simply be "don't turn off the hallucinations" rather than altering a major component of the plan, like most of the others.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Black Knight (2001): When Jamal defends Knolte from three bullies, he takes one on with boxing skills and uses Muhammad Ali's rope-a-dope tactic, dodging and blocking punches until the bully gets tired.
  • Black Lightning (2009): At the end of Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight, Black Lightning and Kuptsov ram into each other while in the stratosphere. Kuptsov has a few seconds of backup fuel less and gets thrown into space.
  • 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...
  • Godzilla's fights often hinge on this, especially in the Hesei era. His enemies frequently have the advantage in raw power, but Godzilla's sheer durability allows him to continue tanking their attacks until he either wears them down or finds their weak point.
  • 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.
    • Rocky: While our hero doesn't officially win this fight, his endurance and ability to "go the distance" with a professional heavyweight champion gives him the moral victory of the film.
    • Rocky III:
      • Ironically, this is partially why Rocky loses his first match with Clubber Lang. Rocky had become overconfident and neglected his training, leaving him out of shape. Rocky visibly becomes exhausted and desperate after a few punches, allowing Clubber to knock him out in the second round.
      • 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:
    • Franchise-wide: This is one of the major tenets of Obi-Wan's lightsaber style, Form III (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 Form IV (Ataru) form. Obi-Wan is so proficient in this style that in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Mace Windu calls him not a master of the form, but the master, which was why he was sent to defeat General Grievous.
    • The Phantom Menace: This is how Qui-Gon is beaten by Maul. Even without Kenobi to assist him, they seem more or less evenly matched, as Maul and Qui-Gon knock eachother down once each in the final battle, and Qui-Gon does fine (albeit he quickly tires due to having hiked a long way while Maul took a speeder). However, while both use exhaustive and aggressive fighting styles called Ataru and Juyo for Jinn and Maul respectively and were very fit individuals, Maul was 22 years old while Qui-Gon was 48 in Canon and 60 years old in Legends. Thus, after an initially even exchange, Qui-Gon runs out of gas much faster than Maul does.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sir Guyon from The Faerie Queene defeats Pyrochles by dodging his massive blows over and over until Pyrochles is too exhausted to fend off Guyon's attacks.
  • In Fengshen Yanyi, Wen Zhong, the Grand Tutor of Shang, is ultimately killed off after he's defeated in the last major battle and forced not only to run away in the mountains with his surviving soldiers, but also fall in a series of traps and sneak attacks that leaves him little time to rest and gather his strength. By the time he runs into the powerful Yunzhongzi, a powerful Taoisti Immortal he would have defeated in a fair fight, he's so tired and stressed that he easily falls victim of his magic trap.
  • This is the core of the Foundation Series 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the poem 'Saltbush Bill' by Banjo Paterson, the eponymous drover keeps drawing out a fight while his sheep spread out to the point that it will take a full week to get them off the property of his opponent's boss. He then concedes the fight, having accomplished his true objective, and his clueless opponent later boasts about his 'victory' to anyone who will listen.
  • 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 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.
  • All The Skills - A Deckbuilding LitRPG: Arthur can't hope to directly beat someone holding the Master of Combat card, but his strategy is to just hang on and keep taking the hits — leveling up his body enhancement skills in the process — until his opponent is worn out.
  • The Tortoise and the Hare. Slow and steady really did win this race after all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stone Wall combatants in BattleBots, such as Zion, Gruff, and DUCK!, get their wins in this way. They either have weapons that do very little damage or no weapons at all, and instead are encased in extremely tough, sturdy armor. They take hit after hit until their opponents' weapons stop working or, if they're high-impact enough, outright snap right off, leaving those opponents helpless for the rest of the match and allowing these defensive robots to pummel them until time runs out. From the opposite end are those aforementioned robots with high-impact weapons, such as Mauler, Cobalt, and Deep Six, who wind up being Glass Cannon machines — they hit with so much force that they damage themselves in the process each time and will break themselves after enough attacks. Any robot that can survive up to that point automatically wins.
  • 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 by crooks was when he refused to take a dive in a match against Carl "The Crusher" Creel and defeated him. 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, the Moment, 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.
  • In Documentary Now! episode "How They Threw Rocks," the (fictional) sport of craig maes has a move known as "turtling", where one player turns his back to absorb the blows. Allie Lewis-Ifans successfully employs this against a younger opponent who has collected five hundred throwing rocks—by the time his rival has finished throwing, he's too tired to do anything when Allie picks up the spent ammunition and hurls it back.
  • 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.
  • BattleBots' trans-Atlantic counterpart, Robot Wars, is no stranger to this either, with a number of robots winning by simply absorbing blows until their opponent breaks down. Bigger Brother in Series 5 reached the Grand Final by doing this twice in a row: it beat the undefeated two-time champion Chaos 2 by simply exhausting its limited CO<sup>2</sup> supply and then flipping it over, then beat Hypno-Disc by tanking its hits until it began to slow down and then simply pushing it down the Pit of Oblivion. Sadly, its opponent in the Grand Final was Razer, against whom this tactic simply wouldn't work — Bigger Brother still went the distance, but in a painfully one-sided battle that it lost on points.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The Wraith defeated the Ancients in the Pegasus Galaxy 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 Milky Way Galaxy.
  • 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 
  • 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 expected strategy (and a good source of kayfabe drama) 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 was 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 is the entire strategy of "Smashmouth" or "Turtleball" football, often detracted as "Three-Yards-And-A-Cloud-Of-Dust" football. The idea is to have an offense that didn't score quickly, but rather possessed the ball for a long time, and wear the opposing defense out. This was done with a powerful running game that got 3-4 yards a carry, and a conservative game managing Quarterback who could complete the short passes on 3rd down on a short or manageable distance. While the Defense would smother the opposing Offense and get the ball back. The Offense would get more and more momentum that would build and eventually the Defense would break down from exhaustion. Late NFL Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer utilized this strategy for his teams was so successful at it that it was dubbed "Martyball", and his coaching disciple Bill Cowher used it to similar success during his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But it came with a caveat: the strategy consistently failed in the postseason because the offense couldn't make big plays or score enough to overcome the opponent, resulting in lots of close losses.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, this was how the Buffalo Bills pulled off the greatest comeback in NFL history (trailed 35-3, and won 41-38) against the Houston Oilers in the 1992 playoffs. Though one could argue this was more exploiting Houston's Achilles' Heel. Houston's famed Run N Shoot Offense was highly potent and could light up the scoreboard like no one else, but it had a crippling weakness: it was all the Oilers could do effectively. Houston's offense could not slow the pace of the game down or run the football effectively to grind down clock, and in turn leaving their defense on the field for very long stretches leaving them gassed. By the time Buffalo started generating momentum, Houston couldn't get back in gear and they fell apart.
  • This is largely how Rafael Nadal has won fourteen French Open championships, while winning "only" eight 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.
  • 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 him 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...)
    • This has happened in some of the more attritional Formula One races as well, with the most famous examples being the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix (where five different drivers span or retired while leading during the final three laps, with Riccardo Patrese winning because he was the only one to actually get going again), and the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix (where Olivier Panis won for the unfancied Ligier team after almost everyone else either crashed or broke down).

    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. Two examples of the mill deck from the Pokémon Trading Card Game are the Durant Mill, which uses an inexpensive attack that causes the opponent to discard cards from their deck equal to the number of Durant in play; and the Wailord Wall, which uses Wailord's Damage Sponge nature with healing Wailord and suppressing the opponents' attacks to stop them from inflicting any knockouts before their decks run out.
  • 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.
  • In most versions of Dungeons & Dragons, this comes into play when the rules call for a Stern Chase. Over a short distance, the faster character will always win, but if the chase lasts for a while and the target can't get cleanly away, all participants start making Constitution checks. If the pursuer wins more than the person or people they're chasing, they explicitly run them to the ground through sheer endurance.
  • 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 also the main strategy of the "control" playstyle: it's slow to get going and doesn't put up much offense beyond what's needed to stave off the opponent's assaults, but is capable of using tools such as gaining life, counterspells, and removing creatures, artifacts and enchantments from the board to prolong the game until the opponent has run out of steam, at which point you've got enough mana on board to send in something big and nasty to finish them off without fear of meaningful retaliation.
    • This trope is also the key to beating Red-centric decks: Red fires fast and hard with burn spells and small, fast creatures, but it runs out of resources quickly and can't deal with big, scary threats. If you can make the game last more than about six turns, you've probably already won.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Advance Wars:
    • This is Olaf's hat, as he's a Master of None type CO who is strong in the snow and weak in the rain and has a super power that make it snow and inflicts global damage. Every single time he uses his super power Winter Fury, it drains 20% of his opponent's health and hinders their movement with snow, which gives Olaf a power boost. As the mission goes on, you're just losing strength and economy while he just sits there smiling at you, and every time he uses that power is a turn where you're basically unable to move while he charges in and inflicts a ton of damage, so he will just dig in and outlast you to the point that you simply can not win if you don't press through and take him down quickly.
    • If you are (un)fortunate enough to access the Bonus Mission "Rivals" in the first Advance Wars, Eagle has you so savagely outnumbered that, barring an audatious and lucky opening movenote , the only feasable tactic is to dig in deep and try to survive long enough to chew through his forces and weather his constant Lightning Strikes until you can manage to turn the tide. It's not uncommon for this match to push well into day 60 before you finally win.
    • In 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, Arkham/Jester waits until Dante, Vergil and Lady exhausted themselves fighting each other before he could attack them. Jester pulls a Bare-Handed Blade Block on Vergil and comments he would not have been able to do that if Vergil was fresh or in tip-top condition.
  • This is how Cole suggests fighting the Envy demon in the Templar side of the main quest of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The battle in the center of the mind the Herald is trapped in is taxing, yes, but becoming all of the people that they know as memories are explored is even more exhausting for Envy.
  • 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.
  • A number of bosses in the Gradius series can be beaten by simply dodging their attacks for long enough. Eventually they'll just give up and die.
  • 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.
  • Control decks in Hearthstone are about surviving to the late game, removing immediate threats and eventually overwhelm the opponent with bigger minions and long-term value, but Fatigue Warrior takes this to the extreme, going full Stone Wall and focusing on Armor gain and board clearing cards and shuffling in new cards to their deck to avoid Fatigue damage, waiting for their opponent to run out of resources and generally lack the ability to close out the game themselves. There are records of professional mirror matches that end with a tie via turn limit.
  • Happens at least twice in Hi-Fi RUSH:
    • Played for Laughs the first time being against Vandelay's Head of R&D, Zanzo. Chai and crew decide to exploit his reckless tendency to throw precious money and resources in his bid to take out Chai by effectively draining his budget. Down to said budget even having a health bar!
    • The second time is against the third Vandelay Head, and it's played straight here, as Chai can't directly confront Korsica like he did QA-1MIL or Rekka, due to the Resistance needing her cooperation and password. So, Chai basically outlasts Korsica by simply parrying and dodging her attacks and flat-out trolling her, culminating in Korsica wearing herself out by the end both to ensure Chai's escape and to eventually add a new member to the crew.
  • Thanks to the player's inability to actually attack, boss battles in Just Shapes & Beats mostly come down to this.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • StarCraft II: In multiplayer matches, you may find yourself in a position where you've established map control, but the opponent is turtling in his base and can't be easily dislodged. In that case a viable strategy is to just keep up a blockade and prevent him from expanding to new mining bases; eventually he will mine out all of his resources and have no more income left to build units. On rare occasions, a professional match will drag on until both players have completely mined out all of the resources on the map, meaning the winner will usually either be the one who banked up more resources before the map got mined out, or the one who succeeded in making more efficient trades in the preceding battles.
  • In Stellaris, the War Exhaustion system turns any war into a Timed Mission of sorts. It's possible to "win" a war by simply holding off the invading force with an inferior yet maneuverable force, inflicting token damage on the invaders while disengaging quickly and losing fewer ships than the invaders in the long run. The end result is the invaders will reach full Exhaustion sooner than the defenders, resulting in a forced status quo peace.
  • 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.
  • Team Fortress 2: In the story comic Loose Canon, this strategy was attempted by the leaders of both sides of the RED vs. BLU conflict. In 1850, Zepheniah Mann died and left equal parts of the land he owned in North America to his squabbling twin sons, Blutarch and Redmond. Blutarch hired a team of elite mercenaries to take Redmond's share by force, but Redmond had the same idea, and what Blutarch had expected to be a ten-minute land grab turned into an intractable stalemate instead. Blutarch decided that if force wouldn't work, he would simply outlive his brother and claim the land when Redmond died of natural causes. But in 1890, with his brother still alive after forty years and needing a way to prevent his own death, he hired engineer Radigan Conagher to build him a machine that would extend his life indefinitely. However, a mysterious woman approached Radigan and bribed him to secretly build one for Redmond as well, resulting in the stalemate dragging into the 1960s. Finally in 1968, the brothers hire new mercenaries and start the so-called Gravel War which is the initial setting of the game proper.
  • In Total War: Warhammer, while in the later game Vampire Counts rely more on devastating offensive spells and Warrior Undead, a cost-effective tactic to win battles is dumping a large number of mindless fodder into the thickest forest available to reduce the effectiveness of ranged attacks (of which the vampires have none anyway) and weather the enemy assault using their durability and copious healing until they are exhausted, out of ammunition, and may have had to kill a substantial portion of the undead horde multiple times.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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."
  • 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.
    • Ben (again) and Jake prove to be equals when it comes to physical strength, so their fight eventually devolves into which one of them can stay standing the longest. Ben ends up having the slight edge needed to win, thanks to his previous experience of facing an insurmountable opponent.
  • xkcd introduces the concept of the Time Vulture, which locks onto its prey and then slows its own perception of time, allowing years to pass in a subjective eyeblink, until the target stops moving, at which point the time vulture eats it.
    Character 2: But what if the prey doesn't die?
    Character 1: I don't think you quite understand.

    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.
    • This is how Vegeta killed Shadow the Hedgehog. 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.
    • This was presented as a possible way Sailor Galaxia could have beaten Beerus. Though Beerus is a god, he has a finite pool of ki and can get tired, while Galaxia's Sapphire Crystal gives her an infinite supply of power. Fortunately, Beerus was powerful enough to kill her before she could outlast him.
  • This happens when the Game Grumps sat down to play Monopoly in April 2024. Dan manages to own every single property on the board, while Arin has absolutely no properties but a ton of cash. Since Dan doesn't have houses on any of them the payouts are minimal, but since Arin's only source of income is the occasional Community Chest, Chance, or passing Go (and they are playing with the house rule where landing on Go gives double), it's basically a foregone conclusion that Dan will, eventually, win and all he has to do is sit back and twiddle his thumbs. However they keep playing because it's such a hilariously insane circumstance, and Arin "wants to go down swinging".
    Dan: Wooo! Makin' cash! There's gonna be another $400 on the way for you! Which you will slowly siphon to Daddy!
    Arin: (Sobs)
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in the Amphibia episode "All In". King Andrias' strategy for his final duel with Anne is to stall for time until her Super Mode runs out and then finish her off. She's one blow away from victory when this happens, but before Andrias can finish her off, Sprig delivers a letter from his former companion Lief that leaves Andrias so guilt-ridden that he stops fighting back, and Anne has just enough energy left to deal the final blow.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • In “Battle of the Superheroes!”, a Red Kryptonite-infected Superman is being a real Superdi—fferent person, leading Batman and Krypto to confront him. Even with Powered Armor and Krypto by his side, Batman knows he can’t beat him. He just has to last long enough for the 24 hour limit on the Kryptonite to run out. Thankfully, it does before Superman crushes his head.
    • 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.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: In "No Honor Among Bros", Ben does this by accident when he transforms into The Worst, an Atrocian, while up against Malice, an Appoplexian. Malice proceeds to pummel Ben for three hours straight, and only lets up after passing out from exhaustion.
  • 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 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 & 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.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode “Wrath of the Spider Queen”, Billy manages to defeat Arachnotaur through “the power of passive resistance”, a.k.a. letting Arachnotaur beat the crap out of him until he gets bored and leaves.
  • 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.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends:
    • This is how Squirk captured Pluma's grandfather, who defeated him originally. Pluma's kind are Long-Lived, but Squirk is much more so if not altogether ageless, so he just waited until time made his enemy old and weak for him.
    • 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 Patrick Star Show: In "Stuntin'", Patrick only wins the boxing match because he is able to withstand his opponent, a sea bear, beating him up for so long that it gets tired and falls asleep.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • 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.
    • Attempted but subverted in the fifth 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.
  • 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...
  • In South Park, when Stan and his friends rescue some calves in "Fun With Veal" and lock themselves in their room until the cows are guaranteed to be safe, both the boys and their parents realize the only way to win is by attrition. The boys know their parents aren't going to let them just starve in there and that eventually they will cave in to their demands, and the parents know the boys can't stay in there forever and that they'll eventually give up and come out. They both know it will boil down to whichever side has the strongest willpower. After 201 hours it ends in something of a tie: the adults eventually win and con the boys into leaving the house so they can get the calves, but because Cartman got the FDA to change "veal" to "tortured baby calves", nobody wants to eat veal anymore and the calves are saved.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "The Bully", SpongeBob survives Flats The Flounder's pounding by being straight up immune to his punches due to being a malleable sponge. Flats simply keeps punching him all day long until he finally collapses from exhaustion.
  • Superfriends: In "Invasion of the Space Dolls", the Earth is invaded by living alien dolls with lasers and mind control beams, but they run on batteries and need to periodically replace them. The Wonder Twins figure this out, so they go to their supply of batteries and replace them with dead batteries. They then confront the dolls and evade their blasts until they run low on power, defeating them.
  • Tom and Jerry: In the short The Cat Concerto, it's actually Jerry taking the brunt of the punishment. Jerry nonetheless manages to score a victory by tricking Tom into playing the final notes of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 repeatedly until he finally tires himself out.
  • 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.


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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / VictoryByEndurance

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