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Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing

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"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."

Ever heard of the phrase "the best defense is a good offense"? Well, in this case, the best defense is... nothing. Sometimes the best move you can possibly make when you're up against the opposition is to simply do nothing. They'll just defeat themselves anyway through either idiocy or bad luck.

Sound absurd? It is. This is when a character doesn't just win through luck, but literally by not doing a single thing. No attacking, no defending, no moving, no dodging, no input of any kind whatsoever... and they still win.

Not to be confused with Rewarding Inactivity (though it may overlap). Could lead to a Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals! situation. In video games, it may result in Achievement Mockery, and can be caused by Artificial Stupidity or an A.I. Breaker (or in certain cases, by A.I. Roulette).

Compare Zero-Effort Boss, Victory by Endurance, Paranoia Gambit, No-Sell, You Were Trying Too Hard, Powers Do the Fighting, To Win Without Fighting, and Disqualification-Induced Victory. Sheathe Your Sword is a subtrope where one deliberately chooses to refuse to fight to gain victory. Contrast Simple Solution Won't Work in cases where it is pointed out that doing nothing won't solve the problem.

The Trope Namer is a series of YouTube videos called "Luigi Wins By Doing Absolutely Nothing," originating from the Mario Party series. The player, as Luigi, stands around and does... well... absolutely nothing, and the computer opponents, who are often set to the easiest difficulty, proceed to defeat themselves.

See also Badass Pacifist, who wins without doing anything violent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baki the Grappler: The moment Muhammad Ali Jr. sees Yujiro taking the "Ali vs. Igari Position" (lying face up with his back and hands on the ground to avoid Ali's punches and to kick at his legs), Ali points out that since his opponent is now lying on the ground, the fight is over, and all he has to do is leave the room. Yujiro doesn't take it well.
  • Bokurano
  • This trope is a running theme in the story of Gundam character Char Aznable:
    • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Char's mission is to wipe out the Zabi family, who he personally blames for the murder of his father (whether they actually did it — and for that matter whether his father was murdered at all — is left ambiguous). Of the Zabi family's five adult members, he only has to personally kill one, the others all falling through the efforts of The Hero Amuro (Garma's attack carrier is shot down after Char tricks him into exposing himself to the enemy, Dozle's mobile armor is destroyed in battle with Amuro) or due to Enemy Civil War struggling within their own ranks (Degwin is killed by a massive laser cannon fired on Gihren's order before he can negotiate a surrender to the Federation, over which Gihren is then murdered by Kycilia). Really, Char didn't even have to kill Kycilia, she was heading out for a Last Villain Stand and probably would have gotten shot down no matter what happened. Char just wanted the pleasure of killing the last adult Zabi himself.
    • In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Char's rise to power in the heroic AEUG not only happens without him doing anything, it happens in spite of his active resistance. Masquerading as a Federation soldier after MSG, Char uses his false identity to run away from his past and denies being Char long after all the other main characters have figured it out. It takes the assassination of AEUG leader Blex to get Char to step up, and even then he shirks his responsibilities in favor of pretending to be a simple pilot.
    • Finally there's Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, in which Char emerges as the victor of the Neo-Zeon civil war and new Big Bad, not through any grand scheming on his part but simply by having sat out the entirety of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ and letting his Zeonic rivals for power, Haman Kahn and Glemy Toto, eliminate each other.
  • In Hitoribocchi no OO Seikatsu, Aru challenges Nako to a tennis match, but fails to even make a serve, resulting in the score getting to 7-1 (the first to 10 wins) by the time Aru manages to serve, which Nako is unable to return. In the end, Nako concedes to Aru, but it's clear that Aru would have lost if she'd had to serve next.
  • Hunter × Hunter: In the initial Hunter Exam, the candidates are asked a hypothetical question about what they would do if presented with a Sadistic Choice of whether to save their son or their daughter if they could save only one. Leorio is outraged that the question is even being asked and spends so long arguing about it that he never answers the question in time. This actually gets him a pass, as Kurapika, who worked out the trick himself, explains that the correct response to such a question is no response, as such a question is one that could only be answered in the instant it occurs. Gon, meanwhile, realized the answer because they caught a hint of what happened to the guy who went just before them, who tried to give the answer he thought the questioner wanted to hear, but also went on to seriously consider what he might do if that situation were to actually happen.
  • The titular character of Irresponsible Captain Tylor excels at this as entire series is based on the idea of victories by doing absolutely nothing. In one episode, Tylor is given a present by his crew, which he then passes on to the Raalgons as a gesture of goodwill. The Raalgons then target his ship, but it turns out the present was a bomb and they end up destroying themselves instead. This is taken to its logical conclusion when Taylor wins a war by ordering the entire fleet to surrender. note 
  • The "fight" against the Oingo Boingo brothers in Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure goes like this. The group don't even realize there's a Stand user among them trying to kill them, and the duo end up defeating themselves thanks to a Prophecy Twist in Boingo's future-predicting Stand. The rematch with Boingo and Hol Horse goes slightly better in that they actually get Polnareff's attention and the group gets hit by a truck, but they still manage to defeat themselves even with this advantage due to trying to follow Thoth's predictions instead of just shooting them outright.
  • Joe uses this tactic in Megalo Box against Mikio. Mikio's A.I.-controlled Gear is designed to analyze fighting styles and counter using optimal blocks and counter-strikes, but when Joe stops acting the A.I. stops analyzing the boxing match as a boxing match and stops moving. This forces Mikio to manually control his Gear to finish the job, giving Joe an opportunity for a counter of his own.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi ends up getting roped into taking part in a tournament for dragons. She tries to forefit in the first round since she knows that she has absolutely no chance of winning, but her opponent is a Spirited Competitor who wants an actual fight and offers to transform into a rat as a handicap... only to be immediately disqualified because they broke the rule about staying in human form.
  • Major Ulube Ishikawa of Mobile Fighter G Gundam secures his position as the last claimant to the Devil Gundam simply by hiding his true nature from the rest of the cast and waiting for all his competition (Dark Kyoji, Master Asia, Prime Minister Wong) to take each other out. In particular, the Enemy Civil War that sparks between Master Asia and Wong is a massive boon to Ulube and without it, he wouldn't have been able to do much more than sulk from the sidelines as those two used the Devil Gundam's power however they saw fit.
  • In Naruto, this is how the titular character passes the written portion of his chuunin exams. The exams were deliberately made too difficult to pass honestly; the idea is to test the student's covert information gathering skills by cheating on the test without getting caught. However, on Team 7, Sasuke is the only one who actually realizes this. The Smart Guy Sakura just takes the test straight, while Naruto panics and doesn't do anything at all, which exploits a loophole in the rules entirely without meaning to. Naruto didn't answer a single question on the written test, but since he was technically never caught cheating, he passes.
  • In the backstory of No Game No Life, Tet, the god of games, ascended to become the world's sole deity after a war between the gods killed the rest, and he was the only one who didn't participate. In actuality, Tet didn't participate because he didn't quite exist yet.
  • This is how King in One-Punch Man 'wins' most of his fights. Either someone else will show up and defeat the monster in his place, some incredibly unlikely coincidence will lead to his victory, or his mere presence and intimidation factor will cause the monster to surrender or even die of fright.
  • This is the climax of an episode of Patlabor. A fired engineer who blames Captain Gotoh for his dismissal comes to confront him in a homemade Humongous Mecha, but Gotoh simply stands there and watch as the poorly-built mech breaks down.
  • In the Pecola episode "Hide n' Go Sleep", everyone is participating in a hide and seek competition, and they all eventually have trouble looking for Puggalski, who is sick and cannot participate in the competition. Mayor Papazoni declares him the winner of the competition anyway, stating he's a natural at hide and seek even when he's not trying.
  • In a Filler episode of the Ranma ½ anime, a young wanderer is touted by the Tendōs family as the "perfect" example of a dedicated martial artist, mostly to goad Ranma into taking his training more seriously. He's even pushed as a new potential fiancé for Akane, in replacement for Ranma, again to make the latter jealous. Ranma doesn't take the bait, fully aware the newcomer is a clueless idiot and does nothing in return. Indeed, in the end the guy makes a fool of himself by taking perverted Old Master Happōsai as a role model and following his panties-thieving ways, to the family's embarrassment.
  • Sailor Moon: Season 3's Witches 5 met their ends through a variant. While each of them did engage the Senshi directly at least once, each of their deaths came as a result of sabotage from a fellow Witch, stupidity, an Epic Fail and/or accidentally killing themselves. Truly this was a victory for the forces of good.
  • In the second episode of Strike Witches 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off, Mio and Minna leave for an event, leaving Trudy in charge. The slacker trio, Shirley, Francesca, and Erica take the opportunity to do what they do best: slack off, and Trudy's response is to do the worst thing to them that she can think of: absolutely nothing. After slacking off a bit, they get bored and start breaking into the commander's bedrooms, retreating each time after finding something uncomfortable. Not long after, they crack and beg the commanders to take away their rights when they return. Hartman 1, slackers, 0.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!; in the Battle City Arc, Yugi's first team duel with Kaiba as a partner against two Rare Hunters (not named in the original, alluded to be Lumis and Umbra unmasked in the dub) was a rather brief one where Yugi did almost nothing; he simply defended with Kuriboh and set Multiply, not taking any offensive action. Kaiba won this one without help, summoning Obelisk and flattening them, but it still counted as a win for both. (The purpose of this scene was to give Yugi a display of Obelisk's power, likely Kaiba's intent.)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL; Don Thousand seemingly defeated Mizael by doing absolutely nothing. The former passed on his first turn, while a redeemed Mizael, feeling sorry for having indirectly murdered Kaito, decided to OTK himself and Don Thousand at the same time... but it seems Mizael played the wrong card, defeating only himself. We later learn that Don Thousand used the Numeron Network card to manipulate Mizael's play.

    Board Games 
  • This cannot be done in chess, as the turn player is always forced to move — you can't "skip your turn". However, there are many situations when doing so would be advantageous, as any move you could make would end up weakening your position. One strategy involves deliberately attempting to maneuver your opponent into such a position. Such a position is known as Zugzwang (German for "compulsion to move"). Sometimes the board can be set up that both sides would be in Zugzwang if it were their turn. In this case whoever made the move that resulted in the position has the advantage. There's also stalemate — when a player has no legal moves but is not in check, the game is declared a draw. Arranging a position like this is often a good way of saving the game in a losing position.
  • In Mahjong, it is possible for the dealer (who goes first in the current round) to begin with a winning hand, ending the round right then and there. In riichi mahjong, this awards the player a yakuman, or the maximum score possible for a single hand (32,000 points if dealer, 24,000 points otherwise).
  • Mafia/werewolf games can feature this in several circumstances:
    • A player receives a role that suffers from Crippling Overspecialization and is carried by their team.
    • Some feature a True Neutral role whose only goal is to make it to the end of the game without being eliminated. This also counts for “roleless” players in games that don’t expand on the original five roles. If you can be confirmed as such, it is possible to simply sit back and do nothing.

  • Brian Regan has a routine about how you never see point-counterpoint arguments for reading since no one can argue against it without looking like such an idiot that the pro side wouldn't even have to speak.
    Con side: Hey, let me tell you somethin': Reading don't never doed nothin', 'cause if you had— if you has— have had— have haseded— if you did haveded— hasedevesed— a book, and you looks— had looks— have looks— has looks— have lookeded, lookedeveded, have lookededed at it— then you might not even know why you had doed that.
    Pro side: I have nothing to add. I'd like to yield the remainder of my time to my opponent. In the interest of fairness... Please.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • In Asterix and the Roman Agent, a prisoner is presented to Caesar as being able to spread discord and infighting without even trying. The prisoner is brought in (by two arguing guards), and as soon as he arrives the rest of the Senators descend into ratting each other out, mudslinging, and name-calling, with the prisoner pointedly looking smug as he hasn't uttered a single word and already caused a brawl.
    • In Obelix and Co., Asterix does virtually nothing to stop the current Roman plan to destabilize the village, believing the situation will inevitably self-destruct. It does. The most active thing he does in regard to the plot is talk Getafix into providing magic potions to all the would-be menhir salesmen so they can make more menhirs, causing a glut in the already artificial menhir market and accelerating the ultimately inevitable self-destruction.
  • In one of the The Authority: Kev miniseries, Kev got attacked by both the PIRA and the Ulsters simultaneously. Of course, since the two factions hate each other far more than they hate him, he simply points them out to each other and lets them kill each other off.
  • In an early issue of Hellblazer, the demon Nergal kills several Football Hooligans, stitches their corpses together to form a brute who's a Multiple Head Case and Multi-Armed and Dangerous, and reanimates it to kill John Constantine. John notices that one of the arms has a Chelsea tattoo, and another has one for Arsenal, so all he has to do is ask the creature "What d'you do on Saturdays, lads?" and stand back as it tears itself apart.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: A running gag in the album "El ascenso" is that Mort and Phil do all the work to catch criminals that by a series of Contrived Coincidences always end up falling in the hands of rival agent Migájez, who then takes all the credit.
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns holds a competition to improve the power plant, with the winner getting a whole five dollars as a reward. Homer ultimately wins despite having been asleep the whole time because everyone else's ideas end up causing disaster (Lenny's idea of setting up Christmas tree lights gives everyone seizures, Carl's idea of hamsters results in ten-foot hamsters attacking everyone).
  • In Superman story The Super-Duel in Space, Brainiac defeats Superman by standing still with his arms crossed while Superman futilely tries to shatter his force-field. When Superman runs out of planetoid to hurl at him, Brainiac mockingly asks if he is done.
  • Marvel Universe: On the rare occasion The Watcher stuck to his oath of noninterference, no matter how dire the situation he was presented with seemed, it would always resolve itself on its own. In Tales of Suspense #54 a radioactive cloud he could have stopped was hit by a runaway uninhabited planet, destroying both and saving populated worlds, and the Watcher was quick to extol the virtues of doing nothing.

    Fan Works 
  • In The 75, by mintjellyfish, Magdalene Shephard (who was born in Panem's last religious community and firmly believes Thou Shall Not Kill) wins the 26th Hunger Games by sitting in a dark corner and meditating for six days. The career pack kill everyone else, drive themselves crazy futilely searching for her, and eventually kill each other. Magdalene's victory and survival without lifting a finger against another human being is greeted with boos by the bloodthirsty Capitol audience.
  • Cheating Death: Those That Lived:
    • Pliny sleeps through training and most of the Games, and her one kill is a Mercy Kill. When the trumpets sound for her victory, she's utterly shocked and confused. The Capitol audiences loathe her, but there's nothing they can do about it.
    • Paige does kill one other tribute in a panicky fight, but spends the last few days of the game sealed off in a cave while Mutts kills the other remaining tributes.
    • Downplayed with Chassis. He does knife a Career tribute during a fight at the Cornucopia, but he wins by making a Dismissive Kick that accidentally destroys a support beam (the arena is a giant mine) and causes a cave-in that kills everyone but him because he has a metal bucket as a helmet to protect him and create an air bubble to avoid suffocation.
    • Similarly downplayed with Platinum. She unintentionally stabs the boy from District Eleven during the Bloodbath, but her survival is attributed to her being stuck in a pit formed by a falling crystal in the cavern arena, and having got sufficient food and water from the Cornucopia and a fallen tribute whose corpse fell into her pit to outlast everyone else.
    • Bentley Corduroy spends the 55th Hunger Games running from the Career Alliance and playing rap music. He technically gets three kills when his music starts a lethal avalanche in the finale, but it's a freak accident.
    • Arendellian Spinner III spends the 57th Hunger Games hiding, not sure what's going on. Her one kill is either self-defense or an accident, and after that, all she does is avoid freezing to death longer than anyone else.
    • Spud Munroe wins the 66th Hunger Games: simply by avoiding other tributes, save for one who falls through a frozen lake while chasing him. It comes down to Spud and an insane cannibal who defeats Spud in every single possible simulation, so the gamemakers kill the cannibal in an avalanche and reluctantly crown Spud by default. He does throw the boy from Seven over a cliff early on, but this is a complete accident that occurs when he trips as the boy attacks him and accidentally grabs at his jacket, pulling him to the edge of the cliff.
    • Skinner Alceto gets an unusually action-packed version of this in the 69th Hunger Games. He does do a lot of fighting and killing, it's just that absolutely none of it is directed at the other tributes, but he still outlives all of them. He kills thousands of Mutts in the arena, but his only two human kills are a Mercy Kill and a possible accident (a Career steps between him and a Mutt mid-battle). In the climax, he focuses on trying to kill the biggest and toughest Mutt in history while ignoring his last remaining opponent (who is accidentally killed by the Mutt).
    • Cupid, the victor of the Capitol Games, doesn't kill or injure a single other tribute. He wins by dodging when his last opponent lunges at him, and the guy ends up Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, completely by accident.
  • The Trope Namer is referenced in Chapter 7 of Adventures on the Friendship Express:
    Rarity: So we're all taking part in this?
    Sonic: Seems that way. Unless you want to hope you'll win by doing absolutely nothing?
  • CMC+: In the April Fools build of the Super Smash Bros. Crusade mod, one Lethal Joke Character is Luigi (AFK), a reference to the Trope Namer and an overall representative of the trope: he's unable to do anything at all under the control of both the player and AI, thus remaining in place to take whatever attack the opponent throws at them... but if and when he remains idle on the ground, he'll steadily heal his percentage and build up enough energy to spontaneously explode, with the latter and his subsequent collateral collision blasts serving as his main offense. And that's also not mentioning the fact that he also rebounds against the blast-zones, meaning Luigi remains unkillable unless the opponent has a blast-zone defying One-Hit Kill Final Smash.
  • The End of the World: Jack Anderson spends the entirety of the 60th Hunger Games hiding in a cave. He pushes his ally and boyfriend off a cliff in an impulsive fight over the last of their food and goes into a Heroic BSoD afterward. Several days later, the Careers lose count of how many people are left alive, think they're the only ones left, and kill or mortally wound each other in the ensuing fight.
  • The Grimm Prince: For all Salem wanted to finally defeat Ozma and/or destroy humanity, she learns (purely by accident) that she didn't have to do anything. Following Jaune's order, she withdraws the Grimm from the world and does nothing at all for the next couple years. Within two years, the kingdoms are on the brink of war with each other and Ozpin has gone so delusionally paranoid that he throws away the only Silver Eyed Warrior left in hopes of using her as a suicide bomber against Salem. This was after also throwing away his most loyal supporter in Glynda Goodwitch. Salem lampshades that she wishes she'd known centuries ago that all it took to win was sit around and do nothing for a couple years.
  • Hybrid Hive: Eat Shard: Taylor takes first place in the PHO "Least posts needed to get XxVoid_CowboyxX banned" thread. She has never made a single post from her "Mana Minerva" account; its mere existence was enough to get Greg speculating on her identity enough to be banned.
    They even had screenshots to prove it.
  • In Lost in the Woods, from Mal’s perspective, their deal with the Enterprise is basically this; all Serenity has to do is sit around in deep space for a month and let the Enterprise crew study their databanks, and in return, Mal's crew get relatively free reign on the luxurious Enterprise, with a range of exotic food and drink (many of which they’d never normally experience as it comes from other races), and will even get paid a king’s ransom in platinum.
  • The Nutdealer Expanded Universe: The council of nuts in "Nut Leader" don't even have to do anything to take Nathan down, as he gets arrested for public exposure in the middle of their meeting.
  • A Thing of Vikings: After Astrid defeats Snotlout in combat and Hiccup defeats him in the race, Snotlout demands that they go through with the third challenge — the test of wisdom. He is then immediately declared the loser of the third challenge because he just proved he is not wise enough to see that he had been beaten two out of three and that it would have been better if he had admitted defeat.
    Chestnut: Only a fool continues to fight after he's beaten. Only a colossal jotunn of a fool would continue to fight after he's beaten and in his area of weakness. You failed, boy. The wise thing to do would not have been to try. is better to remain silent and be thought a fool... than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. Mind you, Hiccup here didn't manage much better in wisdom by giving in to an opponent's demands when he already had won, but he at least admitted that he didn't see the point. If you were wise, you would have recognized that literally nothing you could have said would have changed the final results to being more to your liking… and all you've done is make yourself the stubborn fool in front of everyone.
  • A Thin Veneer: The Shadows consider their victory over the Vorlons in their philosophical debate to be this, as the Federation, Klingons and Gorn's strength allying with the humans on the other side of the universe isn't considered a perfect match for their own Darwinist ideals, but fits their philosophies far better than the philosophies of rigid controlled order fronted by the Vorlons, and thus feel they have won their argument, leaving the playing field after announcing this to all races.
  • The Victors Project:
    • Seeder wins the 32nd Hunger Games by running away from the Cornucopia and hunkering down in the grass with what little food she has until everyone else kills each other or starves to death, never even seeing another tribute after the first day.
    • Mitt wins the 55th Hunger Games by managing to keep himself just a little warmer than everyone else as the other tributes freeze to death, one by one. The only interaction he has with any other tributes is several days before his victory when the career pack chases him across an ice shelf. The ice breaks, and the careers all fall through or are separated from Mitt by a gaping chasm.
    • Downplayed with Matty Fletcher and Berenice Equita, victors of the 46th and 68th Hunger Games. They do kill other tributes, but their final opponents take fatal falls off a cliff and into a piranha-infested river while searching for them, causing them to win without a final showdown.
  • What the Cat Dragged In: The conflict of the story is SHIELD and the Avengers catching wise about Hawk Moth and trying to figure out how the Miraculous magic works. In the end, Mayor Bourgeois kicks out Nick Fury when he offers assistancenote  and Fury refuses to help because Hawk Moth's power is too much of a security risk (and danger if he possesses someone like, say, the Hulk). He manages to prove Fury's fears right at the climax by Evilizing Tony Stark into "Peacemonger", the most dangerous Akuma the Miraculous heroes had to fight so far even with Black Widow and Hawkeye as support, and with that Tony (the biggest nay-sayer regarding Fury's decision, and the anger of being a nay-sayer is what allowed Hawk Moth to Akumatize him) ends up agreeing. So in the end, Hawk Moth did not end up doing much to keep Earth's Mightiest Heroes away from him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Silent Man in Circle uses this as a strategy in the Deadly Game the cast is stuck in; he never votes for anyone else's death or says a word, and is still alive when it's down to six people. It's only at this point that anyone even acknowledges his existence. Another survivor uses him to break a tie and regain the majority vote so he can kill off the Bearded Man. The Silent Man then dies the next round in turn.
  • When Deadpool and Colossus fight in the former's titular movie, Colossus just stands there tanking every blow on his metallic carapace (including a crotch punch), while Deadpool graphically breaks his own bones with every blow.
    Colossus: This is embarrassing. Please, just stay down.
  • Attempted in Ghostbusters. Whatever the team thinks of will become the form of The Destructor, so all they have to do is not think of anything and they win, right? Alas, Ray had already thought of something.
  • In The Matrix Revolutions, Neo realizes that he could have defeated Smith by doing absolutely nothing. He just has to let Smith replicate in him.
  • At the Oktoberfest scene of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Clouseau wanders aimlessly through the festival while dozens of assassins (who he is not aware are there) end up killing each other while trying to kill him. The easiest incident to describe is when he enters the center stall at a restroom, while two gunmen enter the other two. Clouseau bends over to pick up a dropped roll of toilet paper at the moment the assassins fire, resulting in a Mutual Kill.
  • Indiana Jones has this happen repeatedly.
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark: Indiana Jones has nothing to do with the defeat of the Nazis at the end of the movie. He and Marion just shut their eyes and the Nazis are destroyed by the sight of the power of God when they open the Ark. It is one of the most literal examples of Deus ex Machina since the middle ages. Some argue the only difference would be Marion being killed and that, alone, justifies Indy's involvement.
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The grail can't actually leave the temple it's stored in, so the moment they try to leave with their prize, an earthquake kills the Nazis and drops the grail into a gorge. The main differences between Indy acting and not acting is that he gets to save and reconcile with his father.
    • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: The Soviets bringing the skull back to where it was gets them sucked into a portal to wherever it came from, and their leader gets a terminal case of My Skull Runneth Over. Indy's actions mainly serve to allow him to reconcile with/rescue Marion and meet his son.
    • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: The dial could only find time rifts to a specific point in space-time, rather than the time of the holder's choice, meaning that the Nazi's plan to travel back to 1939 Germany and change the course of WWII was never possible. Indy's actions mainly serve to get his goddaughter out of the mess she'd gotten herself into, and again reconcile with Marion.
  • This is Zeus and the gods's plan in Thor: Love and Thunder. Gorr the God-Butcher is looking for gods to kill, but he's also wielding the Necrosword, which is slowly killing him. As far as Omnipotence City is concerned, the best course of action is to wait until Gorr dies on his own. Thor is vehemently opposed to the idea, because that would take years, maybe decades, and Gorr can still do plenty of damage during that time.
  • Near the beginning of Twins (1988), a motorcycle-riding thief tries to steal Julius Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger)'s suitcase. Julius is so strong that he is able to hold onto the suitcase without even noticing that the man is trying to steal it, and the thief falls off the motorcycle on his back. Even after the attempted theft, Julius doesn't realize what the man had been trying to do and unironically tries to give him medical assistance.
  • Done for dramatic effect in TRON: Legacy during the fight at the End of Line Club. Clu's guards are wrecking the good guys, when Kevin Flynn walks in, and... everything just stops, right before the good guys get a sudden burst of energy and the guards slow down. Just Kevin being in the room is enough to let the heroes win the fight.

  • Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The tour of the factory is actually a Secret Test to determine which of the five Golden Ticket finders will become Mr. Wonka's heir. Charlie passes the test and wins the factory by not touching/doing anything he shouldn't during the tour, unlike the four bratty kids who each take themselves out of the running in the process. Complaints that Charlie is thus a Pinball Protagonist/Useless Protagonist are addressed in adaptations via tweaks to the storyline; both film adaptations add (different) moral crises for Charlie to overcome while the climax of the 2013 stage musical puts his creative drive to the test.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: "The Merchant Princes": Korell, which has been trading with the Foundation for a while, decides to declare war. Hober Mallow, who established that trade route and is now the Foundation's Mayor, has his ships retreat, never presenting a fight. Korell still loses because (a) with the war, the trade route has dried up, and they do not have the technological know-how to fix what the Foundation sold them, which ranged from luxury items to devices that made industry far more efficient and profitable and (b) without being attacked, the only signs of war are the loss of goods, risking a political coup. Plus, by avoiding a fight, the Foundation prevents the still-living Galactic Empire (one of whose Viceroys has been trading with Korell on the side) from learning the danger presented by the Foundation before the stage is set for the Empire's defeat.
    • In "The General", from Foundation and Empire, while Devers and Barr's plan to turn Emperor Cleon II against General Riose fails, it turns out to be unnecessary: the Emperor has Riose executed anyway, stopping his campaign against the Foundation. It is explained that the Foundation would have won no matter what it did: a weak general wouldn't have been successful against it, a strong general under a weak emperor would have gone after the throne, while a strong general under a strong emperor would have been executed as a threat to his power — which was, in the end, exactly what happened.
  • In The King's Avatar, this is how the attractive Zhou Zekai became Glory's most popular and commercialized male player because the other male players weren't as marketable. Ye Xiu is a recluse. Huang Shaotian is a loose cannon. Han Xenqing is scary. Wang Jiexi has mismatched eyes.
  • Evelyn E. Smith's The Man Outside: 11-year-old Martin is told that one of his far-future descendants, Conrad, is coming back through time to kill him. He is told this by the first of a succession of "cousins" (actually his descendants, of which Conrad is another), who are there to protect him. Down the years, as the family wealth is used to protect him, give him a good life, and shelter him, he learns that one of his sons invented interstellar travel, and Conrad is upset that this was abused to rape other planets to Earth's benefit (not that the others put it quite that way); Conrad is seeking to kill Martin so his son is never born and hence never invents the super-drive. So Martin ends his life alone, on a luxury ocean yacht his future family bought for him, and with them surrounding him. As Martin is near death, he sees a descendant whom he hasn't seen before, and who looks the most like he did in his youth, and says "Hello, Conrad, I've been expecting you." He talks to Conrad, who confirms what Martin had figured out years earlier — that Conrad's plan all along was to announce his death threat and thereby panic his brothers and sisters into doing what they did, thereby achieving the same result without violence (or any action at all). The descendants fade away as Martin dies, and the unmanned yacht drifts the ocean for years.
  • Douglas Adams's The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:
    • Marvin stops a gigantic robot tank from crossing a bridge by doing nothing but standing there and explaining to the tank that he wasn't given any weapons to protect himself with, as an example of how callous humans are to robots like them. This sad tale throws the tank into a fit of destructive rage, with which it takes out the floor underneath itself.
    • At the end of the first book, the protagonists are pinned down by gunfire from two cops, who suddenly die without the protagonists even doing anything. It turns out that their life support systems were controlled by their ship's main computer, which committed suicide after Marvin made contact with it and told it his life story.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel "Station Rage" the First Gul and his men fake a reactor leak to get Captain Sisko and the ops crew to evacuate, which would have allowed the First Gul to take total control of the station. Sisko realizes this and orders the ops crew to stand by as scanners should a cloud of lethal radiation approaching ops along with the estimated time until it overtakes ops. The deadline expires without anything happening, allowing DS9's crew to stay in control of the situation.
  • Stephen King's The Stand: A common criticism is that the protagonists don't really do much against The Empire created by Randall Flagg. His people are already losing faith in his infallibility by the time Our Heroes show up to make their titular stand, and desertions have become common. Then one of his tragically crazy henchmen shows up with a nuke in tow, which is detonated by Deus ex Machina. The heroes don't do much besides watch (and die).

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Angel has the protagonist defiantly declare that he's not going to let Wolfram & Hart win. Holland Manners cheerfully responds that Wolfram & Hart has "no intention of doing anything as crass as winning." The world is already largely the way they want it, and there is no reasonable way of changing it, so while the heroes can occasionally inconvenience them they're always going to be the winners in every way that matters.
  • Avataro Sentai Donbrothers: One time Taro got ambushed by a gang of delinquents and he agreed to fight them, however he simply put his hands back in his pockets and said he wouldn't lay a finger on any of them. They proceeded to beat him for 30 minutes straight until they exhausted themselves and Taro was still standing there.
  • Babylon 5: In the episode A Day in the Strife a hostile power sends a probe to B5 and offers to give them all sorts of advanced technologies, provided they answer a lot of questions correctly within a specified time period. If they don't the probe says it will destroy the station. The crew prepares all the answers but Sheridan decides not to send the answers, thinking the probe is seeking out those intelligent enough to prove a threat to its creators. Sheridan's hunch pays off as when the deadline expires without receiving the answers from the station the probe turns around and heads for deep space. Not wanting another innocent party to be threatened by the probe, Sheridan has a maintenance drone close in and transmit the answers to the probe once it's a safe distance from the station, and the probe responds by promptly exploding.
  • In BattleBots:
    • Technical malfunctions can happen that render a robot completely nonfunctional. However, even from the 2015 competition and later, where the bots have to prove they can at least move before a match begins specifically to avoid this trope, this can still occur:
    • Sharkoprion won its first fight, a 3-way battle between Deviled Egg and Kraken, in this way. Deviled Egg ran into Sharkoprion's saw, causing it to flip over and be unable to move. Then, Kraken attacked Sharkoprion and stopped working in the process. As Sharkoprion was still operational, it was given the win by default.
    • In Ultimo Destructo vs. Valkyrie, the weight of Valkyrie's spinning disk caused it to tip over, lifting Valkyrie's wheels off the floor. From there on out, Valkyrie was unable to do anything.note  Ultimo Destructo won the match simply by proving it still worked.
  • The 2001 revival of Card Sharks had two players calling one row of seven cards. One player could sweep the first six and get an incorrect call on the last card, giving their opponent the win.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Tenth Planet", the Doctor ultimately does nothing, and the Cybermen and their planet are destroyed by absorbing too much energy. The invasion would have played out exactly the same way if the Doctor and his companions had not been there.
    • Episode "Warrior's Gate". The Doctor eventually realises the way to defeat Rorvik is simply to give him enough rope to hang himself.
    • "Flesh and Stone": The Weeping Angels drain all the power from the crashed ship they've been chasing the Doctor and his companions through. This causes the ship's Artificial Gravity to fail and the planet's natural gravity to reassert itself, pulling the Angels into a Negative Space Wedgie below. All the Doctor has to do is tell his companions to "Get a grip."
  • The Final Straw is a game show best described as "Supersized Jenga"; two teams of two take turns pulling objects from a giant stack, and the team that causes the stack to fall loses the round and is eliminated. So if they're particularly unlucky, it's possible for the first team to cause the stack to fall on the very first pull, causing the other team to win cash without doing a single thing (and such a thing did happen in the show's sixth episode).
  • Implied in Finders Keepers. Failing to find an item in the room searches means the money goes to the other team. In theory, a pair of contestants can sweep the Hidden Pictures rounds and bomb every room search, giving their opponents the right to advance to the bonus round by doing nothing. This never happened in its run.
  • Very early on in the CBS run of The Joker's Wild, spinning three Jokers won you the game, no questions asked. But then a champion spun three Jokers on his very first spin, leaving the challenger without an opportunity to play. They fixed this the next episode by requiring that if someone spun three Jokers, they'd have to answer one question.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Balon Greyjoy technically wins the War of the Five Kings. Of course, he has nothing to show for it, having sat on his throne and done absolutely nothing while the other four kings — Joffrey, Renly, Stannis, and Robb — killed each other off and his children Theon and Yara acted as House Greyjoy's agents in the war. Of course, that inaction comes back to bite him when his brother Euron returns and throws him off a bridge to his death: because his do-nothing leadership has made him so unpopular among the ironborn, Euron is able to freely confess to the crime and use it to garner support from the people for his claim at the kingsmoot, where any other fratricide in Westeros would have been harshly condemned.
    • Echoing Balon's do-nothing victory by default in the final season is Cersei Lannister, who becomes the seeming Final Boss of the series by default simply by sitting out the battle against the Night King. Of course, with the victory of the Stark/Targaryen alliance against the dead, her 'victory' is fleeting but for a moment she's the last Big Bad standing.
    • The ultimate champion of this is Bran, whose contribution to the defeat of the Night King consists of revealing some important secrets at the right times and then sitting in one place and acting as bait. He is then made King of Westeros in the finale despite (and at least in part because of) having played no role whatsoever in the civil war.
  • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: Of the different villain groups gunning for the MacGuffin of turn, it's Arch Priest Gajah who becomes the Final Boss — and he does it by just sitting back and working his own machinations while his competitors are busy fighting the heroes and each other. Likewise, in it's adaptation, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, his counterpart Flurious becomes the last boss by using the exact same tactic employed by Arch Priest Gajah — playing the waiting game and letting the other bad guys fall to the Rangers or each other.
  • Played with in The Good Place: Michael keeps erasing the four humans' memories and tricking them into torturing each other in his fake version of the Good Place. However, he is forced to restart every time they find out that they're being tortured. Usually Eleanor works out that she's actually in the Bad Place, but sometimes Michael just admits it out of frustration, or ruins his own scheme accidentally.
    Michael: ...That's the shortest one — eight seconds. It was a butt-reboot. I sat on the activator by mistake.
  • Impractical Jokers: One challenge requires the Jokers to ask civilians ridiculous questions on the street, and like many of the other challenges, if they refuse, they lose. Q winds up asking a woman one question and she proceeds to ramble on constantly to no end and leaving him no chance to ask her anything else, to the point where he just calls for a taxi and leaves the woman... who's still talking and hasn't noticed that Q is long gone by now. This wins him the challenge anyways.
    • In another Q-related example, another challenge involves the Jokers having to defend themselves and convince a customer they didn't deserve being splashed by a "disgruntled customer" (read: an actor) for a completely absurd reason. This time, Q wins because the actor splashes the wrong person immediately, henceforth proving he didn't deserve it.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has Charlie defeat Mac in a fight by going limp. Mac then tries to drag Charlie out but proves so talentless at this that he exhausts himself and passes out.
  • In LazyTown, Robbie's plan in "The Laziest Town" hinges on being lazy enough to make LazyTown the official laziest town. While everyone else is moving around at top speed, he stands perfectly still and only moves to stop everyone else from moving. When Sportacus tires out too soon he almost wins until Robbie's victory dance ends up saving the town.
  • The Canadian series Prank Patrol includes a segment giving the viewers ideas for practical jokes to play on friends and family. One idea, which relies on the prankster having been pranked first, is to convince the friend who pranked them that they will get revenge... and then sit back and watch the paranoia get to them.
  • The Price Is Right:
    • The pricing game "Switch?" involves two prizes, each with a price in front of it. The prices may or may not be right for the two prizes, and the contestant may choose to either have them switched or do nothing. Since it's a 50/50 chance either way, doing nothing will win the prize as often as switching.
    • If the first two contestants go over $1 in the Showcase Showdown, the third player automatically advances to the Showcase by default. However, they still get to spin the wheel once to try and earn a bonus spin.
    • On one 2000 episode, a contestant was about to play the tricky pricing game Ten Chances. Normally, the board has cards with the names of its three prizes on them, taken off to reveal a second card with the numbers that the player had to use to form the price, and then one more with the answer. However, the stagehands forgot to insert the aforementioned number cards, meaning that when Bob took the name card off, the answer came up instead! On all three prizes, meaning that the contestant won by default. The aforementioned contestant then proceeded to win the Showcase Showdown by default because the other players went over. He won a shredder, oven, a car, and advanced to the Showcase, by doing almost nothing (except winning a One Bid, of course).
    • In general, if there's ever a breakdown in the physical prop(s) in the pricing games, they'll award the prize (or top prize) to the player.
  • This would sometimes happen on Robot Wars, especially in the early series: one robot would break down right at the start of the fight, and the other would go through without having to lift a flipper.
    • In Series 3, Beast of Bodmin won its entire heat by doing almost nothing: it was losing its first battle until one of its opponent's tracks came off and it stopped moving, it won its second battle when its opponent drove up Beast of Bodmin's wedge and turned itself over, and in the heat final it was again losing until it pushed its opponent into the House Robots, who did all the damage for it (although feeding your opponent to the House Robots has always been considered a perfectly valid strategy).
    • Series 2 Reserve Rumble winner Jim Struts was a practically-unarmed walkerbot that was so painfully slow it couldn't really do anything anyway (but being a walker, was so big that the other competitors didn't know what to do with it). It just slowly plodded across the floor while every other competitor either broke down or was trashed by the House Robots around it, and took the win by default.
    • In Series 10, Track-tion (a repurposed bomb-disposal robot built and driven by a group of 12- and 13-year-olds) was faced with the terrifying prospect of having to fight Apex with its 39kg spinning bar. The Vulture team loaned them an armoured front plow, but everyone was expecting Track-tion to end up scattered all over the arena floor. Instead what happened after "Activate" was called went like this: Track-tion moved forward a little bit, Apex spun up their weapon, Apex delivered a glancing blow to the plow which bounced off, the recoil caused Apex's bar to come unpinned and start hitting the back of the robot, Apex exploded. Track-tion won. In the opening round, they were taken out in a single exchange, not even landing a glancing blow on their opponent, leading to a 'Robot Redemption' battle against Apex, detailed above. This allowed them into the heat semi-finals where they were drawn against the robot that beat them in the first round, again losing in a single exchange, which placed them into the 3rd/4th place fight. The losers of the other semi-final were so badly beaten up during their match that they were unable to get their robot working in time for the fight, causing them to withdraw, giving Track-tion 3rd place a spot at the 10 Robot Rumble during the Grand Final without them having actually done a thing in the entire heat.
  • Scrubs: In one episode, Kelso assigns JD a patient who had been passed between several departments recently, all of whom ran many tests but were unable to diagnose, while the patient's symptoms grew steadily worse. JD winds up being so busy that he doesn't get around to ordering any new tests — and the patient improves. When Kelso asks him what he did, JD admits he did nothing. Kelso praises him, saying that sometimes when a patient gets passed between departments, they end up being prescribed a stream of different antibiotics that can exacerbate or even cause a high fever, and the right thing to do is stop giving them anything and let them rest for a while.
  • Servant of the People: In the three-way debate between Vasiliy, Karasiuk, and Zhanna, Vasiliy just stays silent while the other two tear each other apart for not supporting Vasiliy's own anti-corruption policies when he was president. He ends up overtaking both of them in the polls.
  • On Street Outlaws, jumping the start is an automatic win for your opponent. So, if you notice your opponent jump the start, you can win without actually moving. On Street Outlaws: Memphis, this is enforced with a rule called Chase Is a Race. If your opponent jumps the start, you must not move or you have to beat him.
  • Space: 1999: In most episodes, the Alpha crew don't understand what is happening, never figure anything out, and ultimately do nothing that affects the outcome.
  • Squid Game: In Game 4, the contestants are told to pair off, but one person is left out because there are an uneven number of players, which makes the players think that it will be an automatic execution for the unlucky outcast. Mi-nyeo is excluded for being too clingy and desperate, but this allows her to skip the game entirely because it wouldn't be fair to kill her for not having a partner.
  • A Season 2 episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody involves Mr. Moseby promising a paid vacation to whoever wins Employee Of The Month. All the employees try too hard to impress and end up creating a series of problems. Moseby decides to call off the competition after only a week. When he's pressured to pick a winner anyway, he ends up choosing Carey, who had been taking sick leave, and therefore was the only one not causing problems.
  • Survivor:
    • When Russell Hantz made the Final Tribal Council in back-to-back seasons and was defeated in a landslide, his fan base accused the winners (Natalie and Sandra) of this. All winners avert this trope, however, as building relationships with the jury is not the mark of a contestant who "didn't do anything!". In the case of Sandra and Natalie, it was also the jury punishing stupidity — Russell Hantz may have sat next to one person who the jury detested (Mick, Parvati) but he threw out several other members who had fewer relationships with the jury.
    • In Edge of Extinction, Chris Underwood was accused of this, as he sat on the Edge of Extinction for twenty-eight out of thirty-nine days (meaning he was absent from roughly 72% of the game), forging relationships with the jurors. His only "moves" were winning the second Edge of Extinction challenge, and then challenging Rick Devens to the final four challenge and winning, which made many viewers view the other two runner-ups (Gavin and Julie) as cheated, as they were actually in-game and had no chance to forge as many relationships or organise a voting bloc.
  • The West Wing: While the Santos and Vinick presidential campaigns are duking it out, a nuclear power plant near San Andreo, California starts to melt down. During a previous debate, Vinick had declared that nuclear power was completely safe. This would be bad enough for him, but to make things even worse, the Santos team digs through some old documents and finds out that Vinick lobbied to open that specific plant in the first place. They briefly consider hitting Vinick hard with this in the press, but reason that such a manoeuver would earn them heat for playing politics with a tragedy. Instead... they do nothing. No interviews, no campaigning, no anything. The Santos team just waits for the press to discover the damning evidence themselves. It works: Vinick is drawn into a major scandal without any effort on Santos's part required. His home state of California, once seen as solidly red, suddenly looks like a toss-up, and his approval ratings sag in several other key states as well. Vinick wins California anyway, but this debacle still narrowly costs him the election.
  • Zondag Met Lubach: After the Dutch parliamentary elections of 2017, Lubach dismissed foreign press reports about "populism being stopped" and a "Green Party victory" by noting that several prominent parties rose in power through populist tactics, and even Geert Wilders secured a bigger victory than the Greens while basically running a non-campaign.

  • Automobile magazine once ran an article comparing Lincoln and Cadillac, including a list of products the two companies had similar and which was better. For a model created for the gas crisis, Lincoln was crowned the winner for "nothing". Then again, Cadillac's entry was the Cimarron.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In Greek Mythology, Hades, God of the Underworld, doesn't actually have a lot of myths surrounding him because he doesn't actually do all that much, seeing as he's the God of the place where the dead go, he doesn't actually need to actively punish mortals because he can simply wait since everyone inevitably ends up in his realm. One of the few times he's actually angry and intervenes is when Asclepius revives the dead, when Theseus and Pirithous try to snatch his wife Persephone and when Priapus attempts to rape the goddess Hestia, though this is less of a case of threatening his power and more of a case of Everyone Has Standards.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • As a warm-up dark match for their first show, SHIMMER held the "Come As You Are Rumble," a comedy Royal Rumble-style match. All competitors in the ring were eliminated over the top rope in a pile-up before the last competitor, Jimmy Jacobs, entered, leaving him as the winner.
  • Happened at CHIKARA The Infinite Gauntlet 2019, May 11, 2019. The last four people in the ring were Hallowicked, Solo Darling, The Whisper, and Enzuigiri Evan. Hallowicked kicked the other three out and the momentum took him out as well. Then Ophidian came in at #33 and won because the other 32 participants were already eliminated.
  • On the July 12, 1986, WWF on MSG Network, "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart won a battle royal in a similar fashion. In classic Memphis heel style, he spent the entire match hiding under the ring, occasionally ducking his head out to see what was happening. The last two guys left in the ring were Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and The Junkyard Dog, and they eliminated each other, giving Hart the win.
  • In the 2020 Survivor Series women's elimination match, Lana's teammates had so little respect for her wrestling abilities that they ordered her to stay on the apron and not participate in the match. At the end of the match, the final opponent and Lana's last remaining teammate both eliminated each other via count-out, leaving Lana as the winner and sole survivor without her actually doing anything.

  • Baseball has several ways to advance without technically doing anything athletic.
    • You can get onto first base without batting at all. You just have to hold back and watch as four pitches outside the strike zone are called balls to be rewarded first base. Make this happen when your team has the bases loaded, and done, a free run that may even win you the game if it's the last inning. This doesn't happen often, but a few pitchers have poor command of the ball (especially tall ones) and may screw themselves over because they can't throw pitches in the strike zone consistently. Such an incident actually happened during Major League Baseball's 2011 season. San Francisco Giants reliever Santiago Casilla came to the plate for his first career at-bat in eight seasons. He stood as far from the plate as he could with the bat down, apparently trying to get intentionally called out. This threw off Marlins pitcher Jose Ceda so badly that he failed to throw a single strike, and walked Casilla on four pitches. In other words, a batter who deliberately tried to strike out was awarded first base without doing anything.
      • In fact, in contemporary (US) major-league baseball, you can draw a base on balls without the opposing pitcher throwing any pitches if you're scary enough. If the manager of the team in the field thinks it's better for his pitcher to issue an "intentional base on balls" than to face the batter at the plate, he just tells the umpire, waggles four fingers at the pitcher, and off goes the batter to first base so the pitcher can face someone less dangerous. It's fair to say that this often turns out to be a mistake.
    • Eddie Gaedel was a 3'7" midget signed by the St. Louis Browns in 1951 and ordered not to take his bat off his shoulder for what would be the only at-bat of his career; his strike zone was said to be 1.5 inches high. He watched four pitches go by, was awarded first base, and replaced by a pinch-runner. The next day, the league voided his contract on the grounds that it made a mockery of baseball. Gaedel never took the field again but made thousands of dollars from subsequent public appearances.
    • A balk awards all runners currently on base to advance one base for free, which occurs when a pitcher does something that he's not supposed to do, such as starting his pitching motion and stopping. A few baseball games have even been won this way.
  • Any sport where a ball is served (tennis, volleyball) can have this trope happen when one of the players consistently fails the serve and awards the opposition several free points. Some tennis fans call this "breaking your own serve".
  • Similar to baseball, Cricket has a couple of ways that the batting team can be rewarded for doing nothing, lumped together under "Extras" or "Sundries". Basically is a bowler sends a ball so wide that the batsmen has no way of realistically hitting the ball (called a wide) or the bowler is judged to have screwed up in such a way that the delivery is illegal (usually going past a designated mark on the pitch or occasionally a very unorthodox bowling action and called a no-ball) the batting team gets an extra run and effectively a do-over on that delivery, all without the batsmen having to do a thing. The other two forms of sundries (byes and leg byes) are basically scoring runs off missed shots and actually require batsmen to run but on rare occasions, byes can go to the boundary for four automatic runs without the batsman doing anything and is generally a sign of poor form on the fielding teams part (or a very unpredictable pitch). If such a ball hits the wicketkeeper's helmet, when they opt to take it off, then the batsmen can be awarded runs without running. Either way, games have been won and lost on sundries, and the extra ball is especially important in the shorter forms of the game. The fielding team can be awarded an effective wicket if the batsman is injured or unable to turn up for batting when their turn arrives. Also somewhat relevant, if the batsman dislodges their own stumps. Previously, if the batsman 'handled' the ball by picking it up without permission.
  • In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA Championship Basketball Tournaments for every division conference were cancelled, which led every team that was the number one seed to automatically be declared the winner of every conference.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In one Paranoia mission, the Troubleshooters encounter a ginormous wall-mounted gun and are warned to "MAKE. NO. SUDDEN. MOVES." If they don't take the hint, they get blasted (but survive as a Brick Joke from some earlier shenanigans). If they do take it, then some NPCs show up, make lots of sudden moves, and get vaporized (while the Troubleshooters survive as before).
  • Played with in the Old World of Darkness Week of Nightmares crossover supplement: Kuei-jin Tieh Ju, going to battle with awakened vampire Antediluvian Zapathasura, declares that "as always, we will defeat them through inaction". The main battle is carried out by three Bodhisattvas, while she and her cadre are mostly just supporting a sun-blocking taifun spell. When an anti-magical nuke is dropped, killing the Bodhisattvas, she lures the weakened but still standing Zapathasura into the open basically by standing there. When he is finally in the vicinity, she politely greets him and dives into the ground, releasing the spell — so that an orbital mirror can finally fry the monstrosity to his Final Death with reflected sunlight. So, it's not completely win by doing nothing — it's win by stopping doing anything at the right moment.
    • Vampires have been able to win against various non-Kindred threats by simply waiting for them to die. Werewolves might be physically superior, Mages may be full-blown Reality Warpers, and humans may have the strength of numbers, but with few exceptions, they don't possess a vampire's kind of immortality, meaning it's viable for a vampire to just go into hiding and let old age, or their target's own enemies, take care of them.
  • Can happen in Sentinels of the Multiverse against the villain Wager Master. One of the cards in his deck is 'Losing to the Odds' which grants an instant hero victory if all hero targets have an even amount of HP that's less than their maximum HP at the end of the villain turn. Under the right circumstances, it's entirely possible for Wager Master to take himself out on the opening turn before the heroes can even do anything because of that card. The podcast even acknowledges this scenario as something that has canonically occurred in the world of Sentinel Comics where Wager Master shows up and loses one of his infamous wagers in seconds before disappearing again.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat does this on occasion, usually when dealing with a Recurring Boss who is not meant to be defeated in that instance, meaning the only thing you can do to win is simply not get shot down.
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War does this the first time you deal with the Scinfaxi and its burst missiles: it's firing them from outside the area of operations, so the only thing you can do is fly up high enough to get out of their explosive radius and wait for enough of them to hit to sink an allied fleet before the mission ends.
    • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the first two of three battles against Mihaly are Unwinnable by Design - even if you do hit him, none of them do anything - so all you need to do to finish the respective missions is stay out of Mihaly's line of fire until all the scripted radio chatter has played out and he retreats on his own.
  • Advance Wars 2 features a deployment map (so you start with no units and you have to build them) where Colin has to hold off the enemy (that is, not lose) for fourteen days. There are two ways to lose in AW: being routed, or having your HQ captured. The thing is, the AI in this chapter focuses on building up a force planning to rout you — and you can't be routed if you don't have soldiers in the first place, and the AI is dumb enough to put one of her own vehicles onto your HQ without moving it, preventing her from capturing it. So you can go the whole battle without building a single unit and win. That said, you're in for a nasty surprise if you try this on the Reboot Camp rerelease: that game, owing to improved AI, will gleefully roll an infantry-loaded APC right to your front door and win via capture on turn 10.
  • This can sometimes happen in Among Us wherein an impostor might end up making a wrong move (such as killing someone or coming out of an air vent in plain sight) when a few players haven't had much of a chance to do anything. Or more generically, since most people want to play impostor, they quit when they get assigned crew so all the impostor has to do is wait to be declared the victor by default.
  • Arknights:
  • Barney's Hide and Seek. The entire game can be beaten in less than 10 minutes with the only thing the player needing to do is turn the Sega Genesis on. Barney will move on his own if there's no prompt from the controller after a few seconds, all the way to the end of the game, though it is as a Minimalist Run.
  • Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing is already pitifully easy to win thanks to an AI opponent that doesn't move at all, or one that does move but stops right before the finish line. Sometimes the game will just declare "YOU'RE WINNER !" as soon as the race starts.
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • If you have the Gnawed Leaf (which makes you invincible after a few seconds of no action, which lasts until you move or shoot again) and any autonomous damage-dealing item, from orbitals to familiars and things like Daddy Long Legs, most rooms in the game can be cleared by basically just moving in and leaving your keyboard entirely alone for a few minutes. This extends to bosses as well — while you might need to leave the game running for longer, it's entirely possible to slay endgame bosses like Mega Satan, Hush, and Delirium without lifting a finger.
    • When facing Baby Plum, if you do absolutely no damage to her for about half a minute she'll wave, fly away, and drop (as well as unlock, if it hasn't been already) the unique Plum Flute item that summons her to fight on your behalf. This only works in rooms where Baby Plum is the designated floor boss, however.
  • This was actually Sofia Lamb's strategy for surviving the Rapture Civil War in the backstory to Bioshock 2. Rather than getting involved in the conflict between Andrew Ryan and Atlas or trying to stage her own powerplay, Lamb kept her head down for over a year while the two of them slugged it out. Admittedly, most of this was due to the fact Lamb's base of operations was Persephone, a near-impregnable facility kept hidden from most of Rapture: all she had to do was keep the defenses manned, run a few experiments to pass the time, and wait until the two opponents wiped each other out. Then, once the first game came to an end, she emerged from Persephone and took control of the entire city.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • Early in the game, Crono is jailed and given three days until he'll be put to death, wherein you need to lure a guard into the cell by making noise, beat him up, and escape. You can do nothing and just wait out the sentence though, and Lucca will bust in to knock out the guards and save you. Since they marched you past all the obstacles of the Prison Towers, all you need to do now is run out the door and battle the Dragon Tank to escape, but of course doing this means you miss out on a lot of good items, including a number of Mid Potions and a Silver Sword.
    • After multiple New Game Plus runs, it's possible to beat large parts of the game by equipping every character with an auto-berserk item, which takes care of most battles until the late game (although there is a major stopping block in the form of Jugglers, an enemy in the Fiendlord's Keep that reacts to physical damage by becoming nearly impervious to it and reducing its magic defense (and vice-versa).
  • In Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex the level "Ghost Town" can be beaten by not pressing any buttons on the controller. Go to 4:45 in this video and you'll see that it is possible to beat the level and win the Gem for it by, you guessed it, literally doing nothing.
  • In D4DJ Groovy Mix, the very first Groovy Mix Tour stage is on Audience mode, meaning that the entire chart is on auto-play. It has a score requirement, but it's superfluous; you just need to let the song play to the end to clear the stage.
  • In DanceDanceRevolution, this happens twice, thanks to modifiers that remove certain types of steps:
    • If you play the beginner chart to "CHAOS" with the CUT option set to ON 1note  modifier, no steps will show up due to all of the steps that would otherwise appear officially falling on non-quarter beats and you'll clear the song without having to do anything. Subverted in that you'll get a D grade due to having 0 points.
    • If you play the Challenge Double chart for ようこそジャパリパークへ and you set it to remove jumps, the song will have no arrows, thus clearing the song without doing anything. Like above, you'll get a D grade due to having 0 points.
  • Hilariously, if you decide to just lay the controller down as soon as Frank lands on the mall in Dead Rising, you can wait out the 72 in-game hours (6 hours real-time) and still get the good but not great Ending B. That is, without ever encountering a single survivor in the mall, swinging a weapon, encountering a zombie, or even watching the first cutscene, you "earn" the second-best ending in the game. Mahatma Gandhi would be proud of you!
  • At the end of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a survival gauntlet where you have to hold out against a large number of zombies. In theory. In practice, you can kill the first four to lower the platform, then activate the Zombie Walk (which prevents zombies from noticing you and lasts indefinitely as long as you stand still or move continuously) and all you'll have to do is wait for it to end completely uncontested.
  • The entirety of the Flash game Don't Shoot The Puppy revolves around this. Doing anything in the game, even moving the mouse, will set off the gun and shoot the adorable little doggy, and so you have to not do that to win. The entire game revolves around its increasingly sneaky attempts to trick you into doing something and killing the puppy, with everything from fake error screens, fake pop-up ads, and even a fake "You win! Click here for the next level!" pop-up.
  • A variation in the Doom mod "Hacx": in MAP16, the aim is to find the four switches which together cause the exit to rise from the ground — or, due to how the Doom engine handles switches on walls, you can just turn around at the start of the level and "use" thin air, ending the level as soon as it begins.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In series' lore, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, made a wager with Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares, in which they would both torment an artist who served Vaermina to see who could most influence him. While the artist was accustomed to Vaermina's nightmares and used them for inspiration, she pulled away what protections she was giving him and inflicted horrific night terrors on him. This resulted in him being inspired to create terrifying and grotesque art, which drew fame and acclaim due to its pure nightmarishness. When Sheogorath's turn came to torment the artist, he did nothing at all. Confused and feeling betrayed by Vaermina for the sudden lack of nightmarish inspiration, the artist was driven to rage and began to lose his mind. He started turning that anger into insults to kings and blasphemies against the gods in an attempt to get some response out of Vaermina. Eventually, his insanity grew to full-on madness, and his blasphemies and insults became too much to be ignored, and he was put to death, with his soul traveling to Sheogorath's realm, the Shivering Isles, proving who had won without a doubt. It all happened without Sheogorath doing a thing.
    • Another of the myths surrounding Sheogorath has a wizard come to Sheogorath asking for power. Sheogorath says he can have it, if Sheogorath fails to drive the wizard insane within three days. The fear drives said wizard completely bonkers even though Sheogorath hadn't actually bothered doing anything.
    • In ''The Argonian Account'', Decumus Scotti is hired to overhaul the infrastructure of a trade network in Black Marsh, but his survey of the area shows him that Black Marsh is unsuited to roads, bridges, wagons or anything his Imperial backers expect him to invest in. So he quietly embezzles the stakeholder's investment for himself and leaves the network to collapse, leading to the Argonians returning to their traditional methods of transporting goods which are more efficient and suited to Black Marsh. This also solves the crime rates, as bandits stop robbing caravans as soon as there are no caravans passing through for them to rob; and the region's rampant poverty (and the fact that of all of the Imperial-enstated governers are kleptocrats working their serfs half to death and trading in slaves) are solved when the lack of Imperial support makes the corrupt governers go bankrupt and all of their workers return home to work on family farms which become self-sufficient with the sudden influx of manpower.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The quest to kill three Mythic Dawn spies could actually result this for at least one of the spies' deaths, because the spies need to reveal themselves to attack, but do so at such a distance and within range of the town guards, that the guards kill the spy without the player even seeing the spy.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this is effectively the Thalmor's long-term strategy: use Ulfric Stormcloak as an Unwitting Pawn to start a bloody civil war and drain the Empire's resources so when the second war eventually kicks off, their exhausted human enemies and "allies" will fall easily. The Dragonborn can intervene on either side and bring the civil war to a decisive conclusion, thwarting the Thalmor's plan: if the Imperials put down the rebellion, they consolidate their hold on Skyrim and High Rock and can rebuild for the war they know is coming; if the Stormcloak rebels win the war, it results in a Thalmor-hostile independent Skyrim and an empire that, while battered, can finally stop wasting time with Skyrim and ready for the coming war; and in either case, the winning side will have the aid of a One-Man Army Physical God.
  • The secret ending in Far Cry 4 is done this way. After the opening cutscene, Affably Evil Big Bad Pagan Min tells Player Character Ajay Ghale "Don't move, I'll be right back." as he goes to torture a prisoner. If the player doesn't leave the starting room for fifteen minutes Pagan Min comes back, gives Ajay what he wants with no strings attached, and the game ends.
  • Far Cry 5 has a similar hidden ending where refusing to cuff Joseph Seed for a full five minutes makes the Sheriff agree that trying to arrest Seed would be a very bad idea, and Seed lets the group leave without a fight. note 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V:
      • The "Quickleak" exploit allows you to win any battle this way, after a short setup. First, cast Quick. As your first Quick action, do anything that inflicts the target with Sap. Do not use your second Quick action. Wait a very very very long time as Sap drains their HP, 2 points a tick, unable to respond because you are still in the middle of Quick.
      • You can perform a similar tactic with a party of bards, but only on bosses, by inflicting Sap and then having your whole party hide. Normally having all four party members hide equates to fleeing from battle, but since you can't flee from bosses it'll result in all four of your party members off-screen while the boss throws futile attacks at nothing as its health steadily decreases. Imagine the boss screaming for them to come back as it slowly dies, while the four of them are hiding behind a rock playing poker.
      • This is how you beat Gogo, who mimics whatever you do with the power souped-up. You could brute-force it if you're particularly over-leveled, but by setting the controller down for two minutes (even though you only have seven minutes' worth of air), he will acknowledge your mastery of mimicry (since you mimicked his inaction) and eject himself.
      • Also, the Berserker class attacks without the player's input, as will any character with the class' "Berserk" ability equipped. Rig all four characters with this and the game plays itself. Don't expect this one to work against bosses.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, any fight with solo Umaro or Gau (or both) becomes this, since they attack on their own and you can't control them (though Gau requires a single command from you at the start of battle). For especially difficult fights, you may want to go get a book.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Ashe's paralogue is a defence map where they must protect Rhea. However, the characters are positioned in such a way that enemies can't get through. If a player doesn't care about treasure, or experience, and has their units powerful enough, they can literally win this chapter by never moving anything and simply killing enemies in the enemy phase.
  • You can beat Five Nights at Freddy's by just sitting still at your office and not doing anything. You can even clear 4/20 mode by doing nothing. By manipulating the game's FPS you can delay Foxy's attack to after 6 AM, and the other three animatronics will never attack you if you don't check the cameras.
  • FlatOut 3: Chaos and Destruction has a demolition derby mode which, as demonstrated by Rerez on his Worst Ever series, can be won by doing this. In fact, it is the easiest way to win. Since every enemy car targets the human car over and above all else they'll swarm you like an angry nest of wasps — if you sit still and do nothing, they'll crash into each other and run into each other while trying to damage you, which ends up doing far more damage to them in the process. Also, owing to some dodgy collision-based point calculation, often you will get points for hitting them when they ram into you, which adds up to insane points while barely taking any damage. And that's not even counting the "Idiot Wave", where you manage to get on top of a fleet of vehicles:
    Rerez: If you're lucky, you'll get flipped onto some idiot's car, like this, and you'll get to ride the smashing Idiot Wave to Damageville racking up insane points! You're crushing their car while the cars around you can't do any damage directly!
  • Freelancer:
    • It's rare, but possible, for a mission target to be located inside a sun corona. If this happens, simply coming close enough for the enemy ships to spawn results in an instant victory as they are fried by the heat.
    • Some enemies spawn inside hazardous areas, like minefields or radiation zones. These tend to die, too, but more slowly.
    • Similar things tend to happen in almost every game if random spawns can happen inside hazardous areas and enemies are not immune to environmental effects. Very few A.I.s survive that — one of the reasons why they are usually granted immunity to the environment.
  • Some of the missions in FreeSpace -series can be completed without any effort from the player. You can just set your ship to full speed, head away from the battle, increase time compression, and sit back until you are given permission to return to base. Good example of this is the mission Doomsday in the first game, where you're supposed to defend a destroyer against waves of enemies until the personnel on board have evacuated. This objective is optional, as the mission will be considered completed once the destroyer inevitably goes down. You will get a medal if you manage to hold the line until all the escape pods have launched and departed, though.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, if you encounter a Rebel scout ship with no shields in an asteroid field, and provided your own ship has functioning shields, it's possible to do nothing and watch as the asteroids blow the scout into pieces. If you have enough shields and evasion, it's very possible to win this way without taking any damage.
  • In Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator, the Mediocrity ending counts as this. You achieve the Certificate of Mediocrity by not purchasing anything for the pizzeria, and declining all offers to salvage the old animatronics. It even commends you on your "efficient level of laziness" before firing you.
  • Gang Beasts, which can loosely be described as a battle of inept jelly-baby wrestlers, lends itself readily to this as players — particularly inexperienced ones — fall off edges or succumb to environmental hazards. For example, once, when Outside Xbox played Gang Beasts, Ellen Rose scored a win on a Traintop Battle stage because she headed up to the front and allowed the other three players to fight it out on top of the rear carriages ...which disconnect and get left behind quite early, automatically defeating everyone standing on top of those after a few seconds.
  • In Gauntlet, in case you find yourself on a level where you have insufficient keys to reach an exit or which is too complicated for you to get through if you wait a while all doors unlock themselves. Wait even longer, and all walls turn to exits.
  • Gradius final bosses typically put up laughably weak amounts of offense as you shoot them into oblivion. A few, such as those of Gradius, Gradius II, Gradius IV, Gradius Galaxies, and Gradius V, on the other hand, have as much firepower as a piece of plastic, so you can win simply by idling until they self-destruct.
  • After 19 years of release of Gran Turismo 4, there are cheats that can be literally this. Steps:
    • Step 1: Transfer 100,000 credits from 3: A-Spec save file.
    • Step 2: Buy the Daihatsu Midget Type-II '98, the cheapest affordable car in the game.
    • Step 3: Buy as many wheels until the money counter is very low.note 
    • Step 4: Preview races until they passed 365 in-game days.
    • Step 5: In the license test selection screen, press "Select, Select, R1, R2, L2, L2, Select, L1, R1, Select, R2, L1, Select", enter the license test menu and exit without starting it. And voilá, the license test is cleared in gold without ever driving. Rinse and repeat until every license is cleared in gold and get free cars.
    • Step 6: Press "Select, Left, Right, Right, Down, Up, Up, Left, Down, Up, Right, Left, Down, L1, R1, SELECT" in order to get 10 million credits. The cheat can be activated several times in order to get more millions. Useful to purchase cars in certain events.
    • Step 7: Go to any event and press "Select, L1, Up, Up, Select, R1, Down, Down, Select, L2, Select, R2, Select" and enter the race menu, but do not start the race. Exit the race menu and the race is cleared in gold without driving. Rinse and repeat to get the prize car without even participating in the event. Rinse and repeat with the rest of the events.
    • As a result, every race and license test with the exception of driving missions can be completed without ever reaching a single mile.
  • One of the most anticipated, and hence most derided when it finally arrived, games on the Spectrum was The Great Space Race. The main criticism of it was that it played quite happily without user input.
  • It's unlikely, but possible in Hades to collect just the right combination of boons on a run (mostly those that increase health, improve Death Defiance, and give Revenge effects) to be able to win the final boss battle by going AFK.
  • The community of Happy Wheels is prone to contain "don't move" and "heart donation" levels. They are very similar to the levels in Super Mario Maker, where the player does not perform any input and the many mechanics of the level will bring the player (or the player's heart) to a finish line or victory trigger. However, despite this, it might not work on all devices due to different processing speed.
  • Henry Stickmin Series: Several times throughout the games, you're given a short amount of time to make a decision on your next action. Ninety-nine percent of the time, doing nothing and letting the time run out is a Fail. There are, however, a couple of exceptions:
    • At the end of the "Presumed Dead" path of Fleeing the Complex, the truck you've stolen for your getaway is dangling off the edge of a cliff, and as the complex's warden Dimitri monologues, you get your timer and choices of how to act. Unusually, and hinting at the actual solution, rather than get all your choices at once like normal, they appear one at a time over the course of Dimitri's speech. Wait out the timer, and Dimitri kicks the truck over the cliff, presumes Henry's death (hence the ending's name), and leaves.
    • In the Thief/Dead route of Completing the Mission, Henry is charging through the Toppat Clan's launch site on a scooter when he sees two Toppats blocking the way. All the options for avoiding them end in Fails, and the solution is to wait out the timer and simply run them down.
  • One of the kills in Hitman (2016) involves simply reaching him in your default Agent 47 attire. Your target, a man who is both about to receive a much-needed heart transplant and well aware of who Agent 47 is and what he is capable of, takes one look at 47 and immediately dies of a heart attack.
  • Indiana Jones is a repeat offender here. As with Raiders of the Lost Ark above, if Indy had never become involved in the events of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, the Nazis would have found Atlantis, messed with the God Machine, and killed themselves and destroyed the city — which is exactly what happens anyway.
  • In Jetpac, once one got to the fourth planet it was possible to rack up a ridiculously high score by landing Jetman on the right-hand platform, switching off the TV, and going out for a few hours.
  • Thanks to your final guest party members in Kingdom Hearts III (especially Roxas and Xion) being quite powerful and hard-hitting and the bosses being downgraded from before, it's possible to "beat" several end-game bosses on lower difficulties by doing absolutely nothing.
  • Giliath Osborne in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II wins the entire Civil War while absolutely doing nothing because, at the end of the first game, he was shot before he could declare war against Crossbell by an assassin and isn't present for most of the civil war that happens in the sequel. It's only after he decides to show up in person, fully alive and all, that he declares that he's won the entire conflict because the nobles sabotaged their chances by showing off their worst while everyone else got caught in the crossfire. Helps that the Dragon-in-Chief, Rufus Albarea, is actually a Mole in Charge as he's actually part of Osborne's side.
  • Lemmings: "The Apple Bonus Level". Just crank up the release rate and watch as the lemmings stroll into the exit without your help.
  • The Longing takes this to its logical conclusion. Its entire premise is that you're waiting for 400 days for your king to recover his powers, and this wait plays out in real-time. There's plenty for you to do to pass the time, some of which will speed up the wait slightly or give you an alternate ending, but it's all entirely optional; you can beat the game by simply booting it up once, waiting 400 days, and then booting it back up again.
  • The plot of Luigi's Mansion is kicked off by Luigi winning the titular mansion from a contest he didn't even enter. Granted, there's an insidious plot behind it, but the fact remains that Luigi still effectively won the mansion by doing absolutely nothing.
  • In Mendel Palace, the boss fight in the Sumo house can be won by standing perfectly still as the boss transforms you into a Sumo. Her attempt to attack you will trigger the Sumo's Counter-Attack: a Shockwave Stomp that sends her flying into the wall.
  • The first phase of the Shagohod Battle in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater consists of riding a motorcycle while fleeing and dodging the thing in a massive tank compound. Eva's doing all the driving and none of Snake's weapons can even scratch the thing; there is absolutely nothing you can or need to do until Eva escapes the tank compound. By driving into the enemy base crawling with soldiers. That's when Ocelot and hordes of soldiers, many of whom have motorcycles of their own, enter the battle and it goes from "kicking back and watching Eva do the work" to "frantically gunning down dozens of enemies so Eva can survive long enough to get the two of you out of there."
  • Day 17 of Mom Hid My Game has a bomb with a fuse burning down and a fire extinguisher in the cabinet. Attempting to extinguish it creates a cloud of smoke that Mom appears out of and fails the level, and attempting to grab the fuse burns your hand and fails the level. What you actually have to do is sit back, do nothing, and let the bomb go off since it's actually just a party favor that pops open to reveal your game.
  • Monster Hunter: The Espinas, introduced in Monster Hunter Frontier, is perfectly adapted to hunt without effort. It spends most of its time sleeping, but thanks to its thick protective hide and the lethally venomous spines all over its body, it can literally kill prey in its sleep.
  • In Nickelodeon Party Blast, it is possible to win each level in the Food Fight minigame simply by hiding in a safe spot from the other players and having them throw food at each other. Some of the most notable safe spots are the back room of The Krusty Krab, one of the tables at Bloaty's Pizza Hog, and the top of the refrigerator at Tommy Pickles' house.
  • Overwatch:
    • The game ends its rounds with a "Play of the Game", which shows off the most impressive moment in a given match, such as large multi-kills, lifesavers, and the like. However, Torbjörn's playstyle, which involves maintaining an automated turret gun, makes it common for him to get the Play of the Game from his machine mowing people down while he's off doing nothing of merit, such as mindlessly hammering a wall, being dead, or staring at Widowmaker's butt.
    • A later update gave everyone "resting" emotes to taunt the enemy with; as Torbjörn, you can literally sit on your ass and do absolutely nothing while your turret rips enemies apart.
  • In the Midnight Trivia Miracle Quiz mini-game from Persona 4: Golden, it's possible for you to win by doing nothing while your teammates give themselves negative scores by picking wrong answers.
  • One way to kill the Optional Boss which is the Grim Reaper in Persona 5 is to find him during flu season and wait for the flu to kill him. This gets removed in Persona 5 Royal, but one of the new boss fights in the game consists of Joker going solo against a boss who only has Physical and Bless attacks and lacks defense against either. As long as Joker equips a Persona with Reflect against at least one of those two and Null or Drain against the other, he'll win the fight without even taking damage no matter what he does.
  • When playing Cure Mode of Plague Inc. this is the fastest, easiest, and most effective tactic for curing the bio-weapon. Just declare armageddon and expectation management to get your authority high and then stand by, do nothing, and let people die by the millions. Though it ends up killing between 90%-95% of the human race, it also ends up killing people faster than it's infecting them which allows humanity to survive by the absolute skin of its teeth as the survivors, who are doing everything people should be doing to avoid the disease since your authority is up so high, manage to basically stay uninfected long enough for the bio-weapon to kill everyone infected before it can get to them while you sit there twiddling your thumbs.
  • One ending in Please, Don't Touch Anything involves just sitting around waiting for your friend to get back without pushing the button or anything else that leads to another ending. In other words, it involves actually obeying the title.
  • Pokémon:
    • Across all installments, it can happen that you claim victory over an enemy Pokémon with no effort on your part if the enemy uses Selfdestruct or Explosion and fails to finish your Pokémon off; for better results, have a Rock- or Steel-type out, as they take half damage from Normal-type attacks, and for best results, have a Ghost-type out, as they are immune to Normal-type damage. Less commonly, it is possible for an enemy Pokémon to lose if they repeatedly use Jump Kick or Hi Jump Kick (both of which deal damage to the user if they miss) and there's a high enough disparity between their accuracy and your Pokémon's evasion that they are unable to reliably land a hit.
    • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, one of the new Pokemon, Tandemaus has a special move called Population Bomb that launches a weak physical strike potentially up to 10 times in a row. With good RNG or by having the Pokemon hold Loaded Dice (which cause multi-strike moves to always hit at least 4 times), it can become a very annoying move to tangle with... Unless the opposing Pokemon is wearing a Rocky Helmet, which inflicts Collision Damage when a move makes physical contact. Having an even somewhat bulky Pokemon in a Rocky Helmet tank the move can cause a hilariously catastrophic domino effect for the mice while the targeted Pokemon simply has to sit there taking hits and watch them self destruct.
  • In Rabi-Ribi, if you commit Sequence Breaking to reach Ribbon without collecting any mobility upgrades or the Piko Hammer, you'll fight her despite having zero offensive capabilities...but Ribbon's HP will automatically drain out in a matter of seconds. You might take damage by standing still, but Ribbon will lose HP well before she can wipe out Erina. After using this method to recruit Ribbon, you can beat the game & all of its extra content besides DLC, without unlocking any attacks for Erina. Doing so is required if you want the achievement named "So...Erina, do you expect to win with cuteness?", the picture for which is Erina sleeping.
  • In Salt and Sanctuary, it is possible to kill enemies who perform leaping attacks by simply standing on a ledge. If you position yourself right, usually by being close enough to aggro an enemy but on a lower platform so they leap right over you, you can provoke the enemy to perform a leaping attack that sends them plunging into a pit or poisonous swamp. You can even use this to kill the False Jester since unlike most boss arenas, you can run out of it and lead him after you to an area with a bottomless pit.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, if you have Toki set as your partner and you encounter a single random-encounter demon or a demon horde and she jumps in with a successful Temporal Blade, the battle will end immediately without you having to do anything. This can also happen if you have Gaston as your partner, as he occasionally cuts into your turn to attack, but he'd have to have a significant level advantage over the enemy for it to happen.
  • Silent Hill:
    • In the first Silent Hill, if you enter the final boss battle with no ammo, the boss will keel over dead straight away. The same thing happens to Silent Hill 2's final boss, though replace "straight away" with "after some time has passed".
    • Any time you fight Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2, all you have to do is avoid its attacks and wait until a cutscene triggers the end of the battle. Shooting it makes the battle end faster, but isn't necessary. This includes the fight against the Twin Pyramid Heads.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • One of the pleasures of getting all the Chaos Emeralds; many of Robotnik's vehicles in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles can be defeated in Super Mode by standing in the right place, and letting Robotnik get hit by you until he's out of hit points.
    • In Sonic 3 & Knuckles, getting all the Super Emeralds while playing as Tails turns almost every boss fight into this because Hyper Tails has four Flickies that will automatically attack any enemies on screen. So you can just sit there and let them peck Robotnik to death every time (and yes, this also includes the Giant Eggman Robo). The only bosses this doesn't work on are the Bowling Spin, the Egg Inferno, and the Death Ball, all of which can only die via their own attacks, the Guardian which must be pushed into the nearby quicksand to kill, and the Egg Golem which requires some effort in knocking the outer shell off since the birds won't do this themselves.
    • In Sonic Adventure, if you wait enough time in Sky Chase 2, the Egg Carrier will kill itself, as shown here.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006):
      • In some sections of Shadow's story, he has to fly a hang glider while being attacked. The Mercy Invincibility is so generous and the sections short enough that it's entirely possible to get through without touching the controller, as shown here. Of the three stages the glider appears in, Crisis City is the only one that can't be beaten by doing nothing.
      • There's a Moon Logic Puzzle mission that requires Sonic to determine who the Captain of the Soleanna guard is. This puzzle is most easily solved by just talking to the questgiver over and over again without speaking to any other guards, since he is the Captain.
      • The final boss of Sonic's story can be defeated by using a glitch to jump high enough in the air, which somehow causes the Egg Wyvern to kill itself.
  • In Spyparty, the spy player takes control of the character when they are ready; before that, it is controlled by the same AI that controls the NPC characters. Spy players will occasionally not take control of their character at all, and allow it to be run around by the AI for the entire round. The advantage of this approach is that the spy is very unlikely to be shot, since they'll be completely indistinguishable from the NPC characters. The disadvantage is that they won't accomplish any missions, so victory depends on the sniper not having the discipline to refrain from shooting. The Omegathon Finals at Pax Prime 2013 were won by the spy employing this very tactic.
  • Due to the way Stardew Valley's Fishing Minigame works, it's occasionally possible to reel in a fish (and even get a perfect catch) by not doing anything at all after you've cast the line.
  • Starfield has randomly generated missions, of which the most common is to kill a target in a facility after fighting through their troops. It's possible for the target enemy to be of a different faction to the other enemies in the facility, leading to them fighting the second you enter the building, which the target will generally lose, being outnumbered, letting you leave without a problem.
  • Star Fox Adventures: When traveling to Dinosaur Planet, it is impossible not to beat the Arwing minigame.
  • Sunset Overdrive:
    • Certain missions' enemies can be defeated without the player having to attack at all:
      • Due to all enemy factions warring with each other, "Fizzco: The Dirty Secret"'s second recycling truck's defenders can be defeated by a large enough pack of OD, then the Player can access the truck without needing to kill anything themselves.
      • Most missions that involve fighting in concert with some other group usually also have the other group actually invincible, unless a Health Meter for them is shown, such as the Fargarthians' "The King's Feast", which is just following the Fargarthians around, hitting dialogue trigger points and enemy spawn triggers, but the Fargarthians don't need any help attacking its enemies. They're invincible and some enemies don't even attack them unless the Player engages, but the Fargarthians do attack no matter what. However, the player does have to kill one enemy in at the "Goblins and Brigands" section of the mission. The enemies constantly respawn otherwise.
      • In "A Hero's Duty", the Oxfords' defense can be handled by the Oxfords themselves, so long as the enemy stays within a certain distance, otherwise the Oxfords cannot deal killshots, other than 3 of the Rifle Bots and all of the Bomb Bots and Tank Bot are set to need player-dealt damage to damage and defeat.
      • The first stage of the "Use Boo-Boo to kill Fizzco bots." section of "The Most Epic Quest For EXP" starts with Boo-Boo, who will attack anything within range, standing beside the player, and the enemy are Blade Bots, melee sword robots, who end up walking right into Boo-Boo's attack range when trying to kill the player. The next section has ranged bots, however, so the Player has to signal Boo-Boo on where to go.
      • The endgame mission's first combat section, "Help the survivors defeat the Fizzco forces" just needs the player to kill one Fizzco bot before the survivors can handle the rest of the skirmishes themselves, until the third skirmish, which has endlessly respawning Fizzco Rifle Bots, that need about 6 or more to be taken down by the player until the Tank Bots arrive, which themselves need 1 to be player-killed before the survivors can damage the rest.
    • Raising the Unity Flags for its post-endgame quests have Fizzco Bots try to interfere and pause the 30-second timer, needing the player to unpause it, but sometimes the bots never stop the 30-second countdown, so the player doesn't even have to fight, they can just run away after starting the countdown and never defend the flag-raising.
  • There exist quite a number of Super Mario World hacks for "automatic levels" where Mario is sent through the levels without any user input. Sometimes this is synced to music, and sometimes it's just to show off cool stunts. Many of these levels can be seen on YouTube. These would then resurface for Super Mario Maker wherein they are fairly common, and one of the official sample levels is an automatic level.
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee has an end-of-battle bonus called "Peaceful Warrior" that the player only receives if they never attacked their opponent(s) in any way yet somehow ended up winning the match. There's also "Switzerland" with the same conditions, only the player can't receive any damage either.
  • In Tacoma, it's possible to finish the game by simply waiting around in the starting area for the data download to finish, instead of exploring the station to learn the fate of the crew. Doing so takes a little over 9 hours of real-world time, though, and has no effect on the actual ending.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, you get the Dependent title for Genis if you control him in a battle and win without doing anything. Note that "doing anything" includes moving and getting hit by enemy attacks. This is surprisingly difficult - since enemies like to Gang Up on the Human.
  • The Engineer from Team Fortress 2 has a taunt called the Rancho Relaxo. The Engineer places down a toolbox which promptly unfolds into a lounge chair, complete with umbrella and drinks. This taunt loops indefinitely until either the player cancels it or the player is attacked. It's totally possible (if your teammates are especially good at thwarting Spies) to set up a sentry gun in a really good spot, spend most of the round taking it easy, and still end up with the most points.
  • While not common enough, sometimes in Touhou Project it is possible to come across a boss's spellcard that can be defeated by doing little to nothing.
  • In Town of Salem, there are several conditions in which this can happen:
    • During All Any, it is possible for town to win on Day 2 because the game either picked all town members or the only neutral roles were non-killing (ie, Survivor, Guardian Angel, Executioner, Jester).
    • Much like the SC 2 Mafia mod that spawned it, it's possible to do this as a Survivor. The survivor's win condition is to be alive at the end of the game. If the investigative roles can confirm you and/or if the rest of the players actually believe your claim (It's harder than it sounds.) then it's entirely possible to just sit back and receive a win despite not voting anyone up or lynching anyone.
    • This also sometimes happens with the Jester role. The Jester's win condition is to be lynched — so they try to look suspicious to get voted up. Sure enough, some jesters will actually be completely silent (Especially if they get voted onto the stand) so they look like an evil player who Rage Quit. A few lucky Jesters won't even have use a deliberate strategy to win, since the mafia can frame others and some towns are so trigger-happy you don't even have to do anything to be considered suspicious.
    • Very very rarely, an executioner can win this way. The Executioner's goal is to get a certain player lynched. This player is random, though it's always a townie. So if that player gets framed by other evil players, draws suspicion of their own accord, or is just unlucky in a particularly lynch-happy town, the Executioner will get their win without having to actually convince the town of anything.
    • While uncommon (Depending on the faction they chose), an Amnesiac can be confirmed via Investigator, Consigliere, or Potion Master... then simply pick the role of the winning faction, resulting in them winning without performing their role's functions.
    • And all this isn't even counting the evil roles all killing each other off before the town even has a chance to start lynching...
  • Transistor: Luna upgraded with Help() and Switch() may be able to finish off some groups of Process without Red having to do anothing, if Luna's around at the beginning of the battle, since the Help() upgrade has a high, 90% chance to remove the only reason Red needs to participate, which is cleaning off the Cells that defeated Processes leave behind.
  • In Ultimate Custom Night, it's possible to get a fairly decent score without having to do anything during the night. Just only turn on the Support Party Member animatronics that can't kill you, use the D.D. Repel power-up (D.D. can activate other characters, some of which are lethal), and wait for 6 AM.
  • Three bosses in Undertale will do this to you, stalling their attacks so that you can't do anything.
    • The first (and while "boss" may be a bit strong) is the Training Dummy Toriel pits you against. You can either fight it and be scolded or talk to it and be praised to "win" the fight. However, if you do nothing and just keep checking it instead, the dummy soon gets bored and leaves while Toriel stands agape at what just happened.
    • The second is the Mad Dummy, who, after chasing off their allies and wasting their only projectile attack, decides to just keep their attack window open forever so you can't act since neither of you can damage each other. He runs away after getting hit by Napstablook's tears, which apparently can damage them like acid rain.
    • The third is the final boss of the No Mercy route, Sans the Skeleton. He knows that by now you can kill him in one hit as soon as he messes up a dodge, so after throwing everything he has at you, he decides to pull the same stalling tactic in hopes that you'll Rage Quit out of boredom. Unlike with the Mad Dummy, no one will bail you out of this one, so you have to wait until Sans falls asleep from exhaustion and then slowly nudge the attack window over to the bottom-left so you can reach the Fight button.
  • Wario:
    • In Wario Land II, the secret exit for the first level, "Turn Off the Alarm Clock!", can only be obtained by starting the level and not doing anything after the opening cutscene, simply letting Wario sleep in. Eventually, the level will end automatically and open a unique story route where Wario gets kicked out of his castle and has to break back in. Exactly how long the player has to wait depends on whether or not this is their first time playing the level on that file; a new game requires the player to wait 30 seconds while replaying the level significantly shortens it to just a few seconds.
    • Some microgames in the WarioWare series can be won without any input from the player, while "Fragile!" from WarioWare: Twisted! and an unnamed microgamenote  from WarioWare: Touched! require you not to do anything. In WarioWare Gold, both microgames are reworked to occasionally require active input to prevent cheesing high scores when played as standalone microgames, averting this trope.
  • The Witch's House can be won by having Viola not enter the titular house. Just stand outside and wait for one hour to pass in real time, and the wall of thorny roses blocking the player's path will crumble, letting them leave. This is because the witch's body has died at that point, and her magic ceases to block your way.
  • In World of Warcraft, it is possible to be placed into a dungeon right before the final boss goes down, or a battleground right as it ends. Similarly, some players during the "Trial of style" minigame did not pose or even bother to transmog yet still win as their existing transmog fits the theme.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has an in-game achievement called, "Some Help You Are!". To unlock it, you have to initiate a battle, then literally stand there while your AI-controlled party members do all the work.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel: A player was attempting to perform a first-round win by playing numerous cards that forced his opponent to draw cards, planning to run his opponent out of cards before the game even began. What he did not realize was that his opponent had all of the Exodia cards in his deck. The only things the opponent had to do were discard a couple cards as a result of the player's actions until all five cards were in his hand, and the game was over before the opponent even took his own turn. (The video is in Spanish, but the eventual winner's reactions say it all.)

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, this is essentially how Yasuhiro Hagakure survives the killing game. He refuses to commit murder, and at the same time remains so inoffensive and incompetent that he's not worth targeting. Even when someone does try to frame him for murder, he doesn't really do anything to prove his innocence... except perhaps being so utterly useless that it's unbelievable he actually could do what he's accused of doing.
  • Invoked at the end of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, where Shuichi convinces the rest of the surviving students to thwart the mastermind by staunch refusal to participate in the Class Trial or its minigames any further, creating a conclusion where neither hope nor despair wins so that the audience completely loses interest in the Killing Games.
  • In Melody, when Bethany and Steve start arguing, the protagonist needs to hold his tongue instead of intervening. If he keeps his mouth shut, he’ll be able to diffuse the situation successfully in just a little bit, but if he doesn’t, Steve will smash Melody’s prize guitar, leading to a bad ending.
  • Ever since Gaspen Payne from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies was dismissed from practice as a prosecutor, he moves to K'hurain in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, where he quickly rises to the position of Chief Prosecutor, along with the moniker "The Incredible Payne". However, it's easy to succeed when the Defense Culpability Actnote  renders defense lawyers all but extinct, merely making his victories a matter of seeing the victim's final moments via a channelling, and the judge declaring a guilty verdict.
  • One of Your Turn to Die's official 4-komas has everybody refuse to play the Deadly Game, so they're all just sent home.

    Web Animation 
  • HFIL: Guru spent most of the dodgeball match sleeping, but because of a combo of a) the dodgeball getting caught in his gut counting as a catch and b) Cell smacking him on the backside causing said dodgeball to ricochet and take out both Freeza and Cell, Guru was declared the winner of the dodgeball match.
    Guru: [amused snort] Was there any doubt?
  • In the 2022 hololive Rust battle royale, hosted by Polka, Miko spent most of her time avoiding getting hit while others throw rocks to kill each other, yet she ended up as the winner. One of the reasons for this is that Choco struck the GM (Polka) by accident.
  • In reference to the Trope Namer, the YouTube channel Level UP has made several videos in which Luigi simply stands there in a given level of Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros. while events contrive around him to propel him to the finish.
  • Episode 100 of Red vs. Blue has a rare instance of winning by doing nothing out of pure abject laziness. During the events of the episode, the rogue, homicidal AI Omega jumps from person to person due to its ability to Body Surf through radios but can be forced out of someone either by the AI's choice or by knocking out the host. For the Red Team hosts, they get punched in the head; first Simmons (repeatedly), then Donut, then Sarge. When O'Malley finally infects Grif, he is the only Red to not get beat up by Tex when he notes that he suddenly has an urge to conquer the universe, but that it's out of character for him because that would take actual work. His response is to not do anything at all... whereupon he promptly falls asleep standing up. Omega either can't wake Grif up or is so disgusted by his laziness that he abandons Grif altogether to jump to another host.
  • The SMG4 episode "Stupid Mario Party" does this twice:
    • In one mini-game where Kermit the Frog tries to murder Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Yoshi, Yoshi wins by standing completely still, despite actually wanting to die.
    • Near the end of the game, the group's car lands on a chance space. The resulting Chance Time ends with Mario, Peach, and Yoshi being forced to give Luigi all of their coins and winning him the star as a result, meaning Luigi wins by doing absolutely nothing.
    • Played with in War of the Fat Italians 2021 where Mario and Luigi are challenged to pro gamer Belle Fontaine in a game of their choosing. Mario loses in seconds against her in Minecraft but Luigi challenges her to Rock Simulator, a game where the goal is to do nothing. Luigi wins when Belle quits in disgust at how it could even count as a game.

  • Freefall:
    • Zigzagged; while Blunt is outlining the horrors of robot-driven society to an audience of humans who think it sounds like Utopia, Sawtooth goes to interrupt. Sam quotes the Napoleon line. Sawtooth explains that the robot reaction might be quite different, and he needs to avert that, as:
    Sawtooth: If he convinces even two percent of the robots... we will have a huge problem.
    • While Florence is being held at the South Pole compound, Dr. Bowman starts reconfiguring her security settings for her own good — admittedly, without permission, because he's an Insufferable Genius and a self-aware psychopath. (Also a chimpanzee, but that's not important right now.) The Commander recognizes that, because Dr. Bowman is engaged in an activity in which he knows more than anyone, and has a tendency towards rage episodes, literally anything which might be done to interfere could make things much, much worse.
    Commander "Poopyhead": Oh, the urge to do something during an emergency is very strong. It takes training and discipline to do nothing.

    Web Videos 
  • At the end of each episode of Escape the Night, two guests need to compete in a challenge with the loser getting killed. There are several challenges that invoke this trope by having a Plot Twist and killing off someone who wasn’t even in the challenge or by having someone else fight to save the person voted into the challenge. Another tactic is to simply never be voted into any of the challenges by being helpful and friendly. In the end, each of the winners/survivors has gone into at least one challenge and therefor averted this trope.
  • Mentioned in Freeman's Mind when Freeman encounters a pair of NPCs located near a Door to Before for the second time, and gripes that "those two have accomplished more by standing in one place than I have by running all over this facility leaving a trail of bodies."
  • Aside from Luigi winning by doing absolutely nothing in Mario Party, other uploaders would come to expand upon this in various ways, such as having Luigi win by doing nothing in the Super Smash Bros. series (this time on the hardest difficulty, so that the opponents slip off the stage due to flashiness) or in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which introduced auto acceleration and "smart steering", allowing Luigi to win a 50cc race this way).
  • Party Crashers:
    • In "Don't EVER betray me in Mario Party", Sophist manages to win the whole game thanks to Brent swapping the former's 2 Stars with Nick's 7 via Chance Time near the end of the game. Similarly, in "Mario Party just got a whole lot worse", Vernias manages to win the whole game thanks to Sophist swapping the former's 0 Stars with Brent's 6 via Chance Time on the final turn.
    • In their Gang Beasts video, Vernias manages to win a round by simply standing above the grinder while Brent and Sophist accidently fall into the grinder in an attempt to reach him:
      Sophist: Vern, you did literally nothing this game. You did literally nothing.
    • When the crew gets the Coin Minigame Parasol Plummet "I made a Mario Party Game to torture my friends", Vernias is currently the only one who can play the minigame, as the others rolled too high on their turns. Yet despite being the only one who can move, Vernias still loses to Brent by 1 coin:
      Brent: How’d I do better than Vernias?! How?!
    • In their Stick Fight video, Sophist wins so many matches by simply standing around and letting the others kill each other that the editor needed to put in a counter for how many times it happened.
  • In one episode of The Rap Battle (Parody), Supa Hot Fire faces off against Ashtin Larold, the "White Rapper". Larold delivers several impressive verses, while Supa Hot does nothing but repeat his catchphrase, "I'm not a rapper." At the end, the crowd seems to be on Larold's side, yet Supa Hot is still declared the unanimous winner.
  • Let's Play: Sonic 2006. One mandatory side quest in Sonic 2006 is a very out-of-place Knights and Knaves logic puzzle, where the player gets clues from various guards to find the specific guard who can unlock a particular door. The twist is that the guard in question is the same guard who sends you on the side quest in the first place. Pokecapn and his friends, playing the game for the first time, get the highest possible score on this side quest just by talking to the guard over and over and barely paying attention to what he says.
  • The Skull Reaper of Floor 75 in Sword Art Online Abridged only managed to just kill two of the Floor Clearing Teams' Tank Players before it just exploded without anyone landing a blow on it. Due to the fact that Sword Art Online is an extremely broken game that was published by Bethesda no less, this is chalked up as another one of the games many, many, many problems.
    Kirito: Jeez, leave it to SAO to not only have a Boss that glitches out and dies on its own, but also doesn't even flag THE GODDAMN EXIT TO OPEN!
  • Happens frequently with the Underdogs. The group usually calls these wins a "HopCat Victory". Nicely shown in "Little Z's Last Words", where one match ended with Peter winning because the others managed to kill each other at the same time.
    Zack: (after everyone but Peter dies in a few seconds) What!? What just happened!?
    Peter: A HopCat Victory just happened, is what happened. I don't think I threw out a move.
  • The Yogscast have done this twice in Trouble in Terrorist Town, in the episodes "Funko Pop Deathmatch" and "Tiny Bus of Death Is Back!" Both examples involve a handcuffed innocent (who cannot use any weapons) and two traitors who screw themselves over from carelessness while playing with their food. Hilarity Ensues.
    • The first episode involves Lewis and Duncan forcing Bouphe to get caught by a barnacle. Sijn saves her and gets killed, but also causes Duncan to get killed in the process. While searching for her, Lewis stumbles into another barnacle. Bouphe's only meaningful contribution was being a Damsel in Distress, and she still wins.
      Ben: How has handcuffed Blobby won this?!
    • The second example involves the titular "toy bus" that causes a One-Hit Kill on contact. After the detective (Harry) goes on a murder spree with the bus, Duncan kills him, revives his traitor buddy Pedguin, and the only innocent left with Zylus, who is handcuffed. Duncan decides to finish the job with the bus. However, Zylus escapes into a ladder hatch to hide, and while pursuing him, Duncan gets careless and dies when a door he's opening pushes the bus into him. Then Bouphe, from beyond the grave, nudges the bus right into Pedguin by accident, killing him. Zylus is the only one left standing.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: "The Oracle" centers on Gumball trying to avoid a prophecy showing him naked at a mall. He first tries to just sit in place at home, but he's too hyperactive to stay still, and once he ends up there anyway, he's too paranoid to stay in place.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: When the Fire Nation invaded Omashu, King Bumi immediately surrendered and allowed himself to be captured, breaking out on the Day of Black Sun, when firebenders are powerless. As he explained to Aang, waiting for just the right moment to strike is the fundamental principle of neutral jing, which is the key to earthbending.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: This is how the duo can sometimes defeat people who are antagonistic toward them.
    • In "PTA", all they had to do was be present and annoying enough while physically doing nothing to the point McVicker loses it and gets into a fight with one of the parents while getting Buzzcut in legal trouble simply by casually mentioning how he was abusive to them.
    • They also do the same with Mr. Manners/Candy by just standing there while the salesman physically threatens them. Then they get to happily sit back and watch while Van Driessen or Buzzcut makes the save for them and starts fighting or pummeling the motivational speaker.
    • In the Christmas Episode, they just walk off while refusing Charlie's suggestion for Butt-Head to kill himself and afterwards, Charlie slips and falls into the river while trying to protest Butt-Head's decision.
  • Cro: One episode has this happen in the present-day part. Phil accidentally drops a school of piranha into Dr. C's diving tank while she and Mike are using it. This sets up the story of the prehistoric part. When we get back to the present, Phil is looking through an encyclopedia to find out how to deal with the piranha. It turns out they don't have to do anything; Phil dropped the freshwater piranha into a saltwater tank. When the piranha hear this, they go belly-up.
  • The Dreamstone: Most episodes culminate with the Urpneys failing due to some blunder or contrived bad luck, with the Noops usually winning Despite the Plan.
  • Gargoyles: Played with when Wolf teams up with the ghost of Hakon to get revenge on the gargoyles. The gargoyles have to fight hard to defeat them, but in the background, Vinny (a former Living Prop) is trying to shoot Goliath with a BFG. The entire episode has Vinny's efforts thwarted by the collateral damage caused by the gargoyles fighting Hakon and Wolf, none of whom are even aware that he's there. Subverted in the end when Vinny finally gets a chance to shoot Goliath, and it turns out he just wanted to shoot a pie into his face.
  • Gravity Falls: In "The Stanchurian Candidate", Stan is disqualified from the mayoral elections due to his criminal record, Bud Gleeful for trying to kill the Pines family, and Soos Ramirez for not doing the paperwork. The sole remaining candidate, and thus mayor, is Tyler Cutebiker, who had done little to nothing during the race.
  • The Legend of Zelda (1989): One episode starts with Link reading in his room. Two pairs of Ganon's troops storm in and try to kill him, only to defeat each other. The last two even manage a Mutual Kill. After seeing this, Link goes back to reading and says "Wow, I'm good." When the Moblins rebel against Ganon and try again, the entire army wipes itself out.
  • ¡Mucha Lucha!: One episode has Rikochet enter a tournament to win a prized mask, and shrinks his head to gain an advantage through a lower center of gravity. In the final round though, it is announced the prize is changing to a year's supply of donuts and the mask becomes the new runner-up prize. Since Rikochet wants the mask, he does not put up any fight against Potato Potata Jr., trying to lose now. But due to his shrunken head, he ends up winning anyway without meaning to.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Mean 6", Queen Chrysalis creates clones of the six main characters to use as henchmen. They prove to be very difficult to control, leading to an Enemy Civil War, and the six clones are killed by the Tree of Harmony. Other than having a couple of interactions with a few of the clones, without realizing they're even clones in the first place, the Mane Six are wholly unaware of Chrysalis's plot and "win" the day just by going camping.
    • Subverted in an episode where Twilight tries to do nothing until next Tuesday to prevent a possible disaster from happening upon meeting herself from the future. Spike and Rainbow Dash take the opportunity to troll Twilight until it causes her to accidentally cause Spike to blow fire in her face.
  • Rick and Morty: After Rick manipulates Beth into divorcing him in season 3, Jerry gets his revenge by being...Jerry. Hapless, dumb Jerry. Despite all of Rick's super-genius and borderline Machiavellian attempts to stop it, Jerry finds his way back to Beth by season's end. Even Rick admits his utter averageness is unbeatable.
  • Samurai Jack: "Jack vs. Aku" starts with Aku sending robots after Jack as he always does, and after the first two mess up (as they always do) he sends an army of Mecha-Mooks after him. They mess up even worse with one of them tripping and falling into another, resulting in a chain reaction that destroys the whole army; Jack didn't have to do anything at all.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Homer They Fall" former boxer Moe discovers that Homer has the perfect head for boxing because it turns out he has an extra quarter-inch of shock absorption fluid around his brain, making him impervious to headshots. However, Homer has zero stamina in the ring — he gets winded after throwing one punch. Moe decides that Homer's strategy should be to let his opponent tire himself out punching Homer, then when he's exhausted Homer just kind of shoves his opponent down, "knocking" him out. Which is almost nothing. All this falls apart when he goes up against Drederick Tatum, an Expy of Mike Tyson who punches hard enough to affect him anyway and won't get tired any time soon, and comes close to killing Homer in the ring due to Moe being reluctant to forfeit the match.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • "Big Pink Loser" has Patrick gaining a trophy "for doing absolutely nothing longer than anyone else".
    • "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V": Mermaid Man hires the main cast to pose as superheroes against Face Heel Turned Barnacle Boy's villain group. However, the team's ineptness with their superpowers leads to three of them incapacitating each other, Sandy getting hit by a car when she is invisible, and Mermaid Man collapsing spontaneously, while the villains look on dumbfounded.
    • In "The Bully", Flats, the titular antagonist, finally arrives at Spongebob's house to deliver the promised "butt-kicking" that Spongebob had been dreading for most of the episode. However, it turns out that Spongebob's, well, spongy physiology apparently allows him to absorb Flats' blows without even feeling them. Upon discovering this, Spongebob continues his day, all the while with Flats desperately trying in vain to pummel him, until Flats finally tires himself out and collapses, making Spongebob the de facto "winner" of the fight. Unfortunately, Mrs. Puff shows up at just that moment to only see Flats laying in a heap on the ground and Spongebob standing over him, and assumes Spongebob was the aggressor in the fight, and so, she angrily declares, "I'm going to kick your butt!"
    • In "The Great Snail Race", SpongeBob, Squidward and Patrick enter a snail contest, with Patrick's contestant being a snail-sized rock he found on the ground.note  While SpongeBob's snail Gary crashes and Squidward's snail forfeits the race to be by his side, Patrick's "snail" somehow got to the finish line.
    • Subverted in "Tea at the Treedome", SpongeBob "defeats" the giant clam simply because Sandy was plenty capable of getting out of it herself. And immediately afterward, she has to save him.
    • In "Ditchin'", SpongeBob and Patrick are challenged to a game of badminton by Sandy Cheeks and a friend of hers. Neither of them has any idea how to play, and they spend the whole match discussing the rules amongst themselves while Sandy's shots coincidentally ricochet off their rackets and back over the net. They win without realising that the match had even begun.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): "Rock Around the Block" has the turtles studying an art taught by Splinter called Wu Wei. The art involves allowing your enemy to defeat themselves through their own destructive energies. They end up using it against Shredder and Krang at the end of the episode. It works when Bebop and Rocksteady accidentally fire their new superweapon while fighting over a comic book.
  • The Transformers: This is essentially how the Autobots win in the episode "Triple Takeover". Optimus even stops Ironhide from intervening due to the Decepticons already bringing themselves down via their stupidity and infighting.
  • U.S. Acres: In "Rooster Revenge", Roy plays a practical joke on Orson, and when Wade asks Orson what he intends to do about it, he replies "The worst thing I can think of: absolutely nothing!" He lets Roy drive himself crazy waiting for Orson to get even.
  • One episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? had the culprit behind a Smart House turning into a death trap turn out to be the house's own AI, which had gone crazy. When asked what they are going to do about it, Velma says "Nothing" and the gang does exactly that. The AI gets so enraged by them refusing to pay attention to it that it accidentally self-destructs, as Velma planned.
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner: Aside from occasionally sneaking up from behind and startling him with a loud "Beep beep!", the Roadrunner does nothing to Wile E. He just runs off or stands back and lets Wile E. get Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: One episode opens with the monks engaged in training duels. After getting repeatedly defeated by Omi, Raimundo frustratedly tries to use the Tangleweb Comb artifact on him. However, Omi doesn't even attempt to dodge, he just stands there and watches as the Comb tangles up Raimundo instead, knowing fully well that it requires a clear mind to be used properly and therefore, Raimundo's anger would interfere with it.

    Real Life 

  • This was largely how Theresa May won the UK Conservative Party leadership election and became prime minister in 2016. While initially expected to be a highly competitive race among several MPs, frontrunner Boris Johnson dropped out after his fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove betrayed him and decided to run himself and quickly flamed out, while Andrea Leadsom withdrew after several gaffes. May, who had barely even campaigned for the position, won by default as the last candidate standing.
  • Valve Corporation runs on a variation of this strategem. Instead of pushing for the crunch-heavy, novelty-seeking, return-demanding game design that inevitably causes burnout, stress, and toxic work environments at other game studios and publishers, they tend to keep to themselves and work on their own preferred projects internally while companies such as Electronic Arts or Activision Blizzard set themselves on fire by making poor choices. They do maintain their own highly popular and profitable games, but by not being pressed to push a new title out the door every six months, they avoid the pitfalls that trip up their competition, even if they do tend to become the poster children for Schedule Slip in the meantime.


Video Example(s):


Maple's First Monster Fight

Maple goes on her first quest with her defense maxed out. She encounters a cute monster, but its attacks on her are completely ineffective. Later, when Maple moves a bit, the monster hits her shield and is K.O.'d.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / StoneWall

Media sources: