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Wowing Cthulhu

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"You have my respect, Stark. When I'm done, half of humanity will still be alive. I hope they remember you."

This trope occurs whenever a character is somehow able to impress, wow, or in any case greatly surprise another one who is far bigger, greater, and/or more powerful. They may not necessarily be a Physical God or Eldritch Abomination, but the gap between them in terms of size or power etc. is so great that the comparison is like a man to a god. And yet somehow, despite being so much less talented than this powerful entity, this character was able to present the greater being with a skill or item that captures the godly being's imagination, maybe even giving them more perspective on an issue. The godly being might very well be perfectly capable of what the lesser being did and/or the skill/item in question isn't that great by the lesser being's standards. And yet, the godly being is impressed by their achievements or character.

How this happens can vary. Perhaps The Hero has done something incredible to prove to the story's Big Good that they are The Chosen One. Or a bunch of lesser characters were able to impress a Cosmic Entity by showing them The Power of Friendship, The Power of Trust, or The Power of Love. This is almost bound to happen if the lesser character was able to vanquish another powerful being. Bonus points if the impressed deity wasn't able to do it.

Alternatively, this pure deity may have felt that Humans Are Flawed or are simply beneath them, and this character was able to prove to the deity that Humans Are Good or Humans Are Special. A lesser character could have also called out some Jerkass Gods and those gods end up becoming impressed at how a puny being had the guts to make them rethink their behavior. Another common scenario is a lesser character managing to reason with or bring up something a greater being hadn't considered and the greater being ends up admiring the lesser one for being able to change their perspective.

This can extend to villainous entities as well. Perhaps the character was able to gain the villain's respect or shock them by standing up to them and showing they are not afraid. Heck, the lesser character doesn't even have to oppose the Evil Overlord in question. Maybe this puny person was some Harmless Villain, Mook, or Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain that the Evil Overlord didn't think much of before, but then the mediocre villain proves to the Big Bad that they aren't a joke after all and the evil entity could be so impressed, they give the small time baddie a Mook Promotion or even makes them their right hand man.

Be careful not to confuse this with Intrigued by Humanity. In that trope, the entity (which may not even be powerful) is simply interested in humanity as a whole. A Wowing Cthulhu moment may cause this and vice versa, but it's not a defined event.

Compare with Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu? where the greater being may not necessarily be impressed, but nevertheless decides to have a fun time with the lesser character.

Compare with Staring Down Cthulhu and Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?. Contrast Admiring the Abomination, Do Not Taunt Cthulhu and Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ed does this to Truth at the end of the series by offering the one thing it views as a fair price for his brother: his ability to perform alchemy. And he doesn't mind one bit as long as he has his friends and family. Truth comes across as not just impressed, but proud of him.
    • The English dub of the moment gives the impression that Truth is not just happy that Ed found the "right answer", but is elated that someone managed to figure out the real solution to Human Transmutation: it’s not about what you can get, but what you already have. For Ed, having alchemy was nothing compared to living his life with his brother and his friends. He was willing to give it up 100%.
  • The Elder Sister-like One: In the first chapter, Yuu repeatedly leaves "Chiyo" (Shub-Niggurath) drop-jaw astonished by his uniquely innocent behavior towards her.
    • When she offers him a wish, he asks her if she's an angel. The tragically neglected orphan never had anyone ask what he wants before.
    • He then wishes that this inhuman monstrosity become his sister, regardless of suspecting that the price is his life.
    • Next, the adolescent tries to protect the insanely powerful God of Evil from an attacking random monster. At this point, she seems to realize that she's dealing with someone incredible.
  • In Dragon Ball, during the climax of Goku's fight with King Piccolo, most of Goku's limbs have been broken, so he uses an energy blast to launch himself at his foe and tears a hole through his chest. King Piccolo, a Sealed Evil in a Can who is the evil counterpart of Kami, the God of Earth, is simply amazed by his defeat. In the manga version he even praises Goku by saying "brilliant".
  • In Dragon Ball Z, whenever one of the weaker characters manages to hurt, survive, or show unusual skill to the seemingly Nigh-Invulnerable villain that's curbstomping them.
    • In the Saiyan Saga, Raditz gets impressed by Goku and Piccolo being able to amplify their power by taking off weighted clothing, as well as their ability to focus their power in a single attack.
    • Frieza gets quite a few in the Frieza Arc. Each time he's (relatively) impressed by a hero, he suggests they join his army. He doesn't actually expect any of them to accept his offer and tries to kill them when they refuse, but he was genuine in his interest in having them as his new Elite Mooks to replace the ones he'd just lost.
      • Frieza gets impressed by Nail showing off a power level of 42,000 (on par with the Ginyu Force), as well as revealing he can regenerate lost limbs.
      • He also is impressed by Piccolo (merged with Nail) being strong enough to keep up with Frieza's second form, something almost no one had ever done before.
      • He is also repeatedly taken aback by Goku's skill and power. Being shocked when he knocks back Frieza's Death Beams, hitting him with a Kaio-ken x20 Kamehameha, and seeing Goku generate a massive Spirit Bomb which he narrowly survives. Of course, all this changes when Goku turns Super Saiyan, effectively stealing Frieza's Cthulhu status.
    • Tien being able to hold Semi-Perfect Cell at bay using the Neo-Tribeam was an extremely commendable feat, considering how far apart their strength levels are. Cell even remarks how he was stopped by Tien of all people.
    • Perfect Cell is willing to do this, as all he really wants is a good fight. He compliments Trunks on his power, and is legitimately impressed when Gohan turns out to be almost as strong as Goku, after initially dismissing Gohan as nothing more than a boy. Of course, once Gohan surpasses him as a Super Saiyan 2, Cell gets less gracious.
    • Anyone who fights Beerus and doesn't get utterly curbstomped will elicit this response from him, and even then he just feels like he got a fun workout.
    • Despite being the most powerful beings in the setting, the Omni-Kings seem to be quite susceptible to this. Throughout the Tournament of Power arc they were constantly in awe of and praising all of the fighters. The only times they ever seemed to get bored of the fighting where when characters were moving at speeds too fast for them to track, even with their GodPads. This is in part because the Zenos are not fighters and have never had any reason to learn martial arts; their power is to simply erase anything (or if they see fit, everything) from existence. Meaning that even the simplest fighting technique is something new and exciting to them.
  • The titular Goblin Slayer is this to the gods Truth and Illusion. In this world he is known as "he who does not let the gods roll the dice". This is because, to Truth and Illusion, the fate of everyone and everything in their world (which they see as a tabletop RPG), is literally decided by their dice rolls. Goblin Slayer is noted as having no special attributes or grand destiny in store for him, and is by all accounts an ordinary NPC. Yet his meticulous Crazy-Prepared nature and unrelenting drive in his one-man genocide of the goblin race basically throws anything related to chance out the window when it comes to him. This ends up fascinating them, as it's basically the equivalent of a game piece challenging the dice themselves.
  • No Game No Life:
    • Sora and Shiro thoroughly impressed Tet, the GOD of Disboard, when they beat him in a game of chess. So he brings them over to a world governed by games.
    • After playing and beating Jibril in a game of materialization shitori, the angel who was previously racist towards humans became so impressed with Sora and Shiro that she deems them Worthy Opponents and happily accepts them as her masters and serves under them.
  • One-Punch Man: Saitama is the most powerful hero alive, and no monster so far in the series has been able to give him a good fight. However, he does occasionally compliment both heroes and villains on their strength or heroism. Notably, he congratulates Mumen Rider on a nice fight after he is brutally beaten by the Sea King, as he stood up to the monster with no chance of winning.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto is able to gain the nine-tailed fox demon Kurama's trust during his fight with Obito by freeing the Four Tails.
    • A sillier example: It turns out that the Harem Jutsu works just as well on Kaguya, Goddess of Chakra as it does on any regular mortal.
    • Even after attaining godlike power as the Ten Tails' jinchuriki, Madara Uchiha is impressed by the skill and power of Might Guy's taijutsu. This from the same person who previously considered all 5 Kage fighting him at once to be unimpressive.
  • One Piece.
    • At the end of the Fishmen Island Arc, the Sea Kings catch the boat before hits the island and are notably impressed by the great effort Luffy put up, even saying they were glad they got there when they did or else he would have completely destroyed it.
    • One of the Four Pirate Emperors, Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin, was already eager to add Brook to her collection of strange creatures, but after he becomes the first person in history to actually put up a fight against her personal Living Weapons, she becomes almost smitten with him she's so impressed.
    • Towards the end of the Onigashima Raid, Kaido announces that he has killed Luffy, causing Nami to yell at him that he's a liar. Although Kaido immediately tries to kill her after that, he notes that he's impressed by her courage.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • During the Herb Arc. Ryoga momentarily gets killed by Lime. He enters the afterlife where he meeting his deceased grandparents, who convince him to return. His spirit then returns to his body where he unleashes the most powerful Ki Manipulations ever shown in the series which crushes Lime. Herb, who borderlines on being a Physical God, watches from a distance and is utterly impressed.
    • During the Saffron Arc, Ranma manages to twice wow Saffron, the immortal leader of the Phoenix people. First by mastering the Kinjakan, which was previously believed only Saffron could successfully wield. A second time after Ranma manages to survive Saffron's Entire Empire Instant Annihilation Shot which no mortal should survive, by freezing himself with the Gekkaja.
  • Hellsing: Integra, at that point a 12-year-old girl, stands up to a Really 700 Years Old Ax-Crazy Blood Knight Humanoid Abomination that is Alucard. He's so impressed that he swears his eternal loyalty to her, and actually views her as the only one worthy of commanding him.
  • In Restaurant to Another World, the master of the titular restaurant is a regular human being and yet almost all of his regular customers are beings with far greater power and magic than him, whether they are experienced warriors, adventurers, demons, magicians or even dragon gods. However his superb culinary skills is enough to earn their respect. In addition, his access to modern technology makes it possible for him to serve foods and cuisine that is impossible to find in the other world such as ice cream. Just the fact that he provides clean ice-cold water with lemon slices for free (refills included) is mind-blowing to denizens of the other world.

    Comic Books 
  • In Ghostbusters (IDW Comics), both the core team and new members face off against Tiamat, Gozer's big sister, in her home dimension. They end up crossing NINE proton streams in an effort to defeat her, and although she tanks it, she's still impressed and calls it "an attack worthy of a goddess".
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Insofar as he can be "wowed", Mephisto says to Doctor Strange during Best Defense that whatever's inside the Hulk right now is even more evil than he is. Consider who Mephisto is to appreciate what that actually means.
    • Fantastic Four issue #288 has Doctor Doom attempt to reconstruct his original body. However, Doom succeeds in bringing forth the godlike Beyonder, who recognizes Doom from the Secret Wars (1984) arc. The Beyonder roars that he will obliterate Doom for his impudence, when Reed Richards intervenes. Reed points out that if Doom is destroyed now, there will be no Doom in the future to pluck for the Secret Wars, creating a temporal paradox. "Could you, Beyonder, survive the absolute destruction of time itself?" The Beyonder pauses, then admits, "I... do not know." Ultimately, the Beyonder casts Doom into the future intact. Reed Richards made a god recant his judgment.
    • In Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7, an alien calling himself the Champion of the Universe challenges every superhuman on Earth to a series of one-on-one boxing matches, with the fate of Earth at stake. He defeats every one (some by disqualification, such as the Hulk tearing his gloves off and starting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the Champion). Finally, it is up to the Thing, who impresses the Champion because he just won't quit. Even after being knocked out, he gets back up for more. Eventually, when the Thing is a battered bloody mess and the Champion isn't even winded, the Champion suddenly throws in the towel saying that the Thing won: while the Champion could beat the Thing he could never defeat him. And thus the Earth is saved.
    • The Mighty Thor: Pretty much any character who can wield Mjölnir besides Thor and Odin tends to get this reaction from the two of them the first time, with Beta Ray Bill and Steve Rogers being the best-known examples.
    • The Silver Surfer's Superhero Origin involves a civilian named Norrin Radd impressing Galactus, a Planet Eater, with his devotion to his home planet, Zenn-La. Galactus spares Radd's planet in exchange for him becoming Galactus's herald.

    Fan Works 
  • In Anderson Quest: Killing Vampires and Werewolves and Leprechauns, not even ancient star-gods understand how Anderson's sleeves work.
  • Boldores and Boomsticks: Tapu Koko is amazed at how Yang pushed him harder than any non-Legendary Pokémon had for a long time.
  • Fate/Starry Night: Seeing Ritsuka's defiance to his plans and outright refusal to follow him, Gilgamesh is so impressed that he gives him a chance to convince him that there is potential in modern humanity. Should Ritsuka succeed, Gilgamesh will abandon his plan to cull humanitor with the mud of the Holy Grail.
  • Great Grand-Uncle Schimmelhorn's Toolbox: Upon seeing what Taylor can do from studying Papa's notes on looking "around the corner" from reality, Lisa's shard gives her the impression of drooling and having found a new favourite toy, and starts becoming much more helpful to her with far less headaches. When Taylor then demonstrates the ability to alter momentum using an energy source that doesn't fit into the Entities' understanding of physics, the shard is so overwhelmed that it crashes, then gets rebooted with more resources to study the situation in more depth.
    A couple of minutes later they were in his car driving away from the house, while she pondered the mysteries of what was going on with her power and why it seemed to be obsessing over what Taylor had told her.
    And giggling to itself.
  • In The Night Unfurls, a couple of characters accomplish this towards the humanoid great one that is Kyril Sutherland.
  • This Bites!: The Bastard Random Omnipotent Being that turned Cross into a One Piece Self-Insert finally admits as much to pull Cross out of his Darkest Hour; the fact that he averted two deaths that up until then had been fixed points to all versions of this world - Going Merry and Ace - proves that he can accomplish the impossible and that he can make a difference. They picked Cross for laughs, expecting him to be one of infinity, and instead, picked someone that turned out to be one out of infinity.
  • In Yet again, with a little extra help, the Tsuchikage Onoki is able to unleash a Dust Release technique that annihilates Ghost Oogakari when the latter is rampaging through Iwagakure, and even though his Resurrective Immortality brings him back shortly afterwards, Ghost is genuinely amazed by the technique Onoki used on him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hercules: After the battle for Olympus, Hercules goes down to Hades to get Meg's soul back. He offers the god of the underworld his soul in exchange for hers, if he can get her back from the river of death. Hades is stunned when Herc emerges from the river not only alive, but as a god.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo, the Big Bad of the movie, is locked in relentless combat with Mew, determined to prove he's the superior one. Ash however sees all the violence between the Pokemon and the legendaries as pointless and horrible and is desperate to stop it. This leads to him performing a Heroic Sacrifice which leads to him being petrified. Fortunately, all the other Pokemon and their clones are brought to tears by this, and the tears revive him. Amazed by this, Mewtwo decides the battle is pointless now, finally seeing value in himself and the clones, and decides to stop his storm which would have destroyed the planet otherwise.
    • Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life: After Arceus destroys a meteor, Arceus ends up crashing into the Earth and loses its Life Plates. Damos is able to bring one to it, allowing Arceus to revive itself and reclaim its other plates. In gratitude, Arceus creates the Jewel of Life and Damos uses it to bring life to Michina Town.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: Eris, the Goddess of Discord, halts the execution of Sinbad because he'd correctly answered her question: "Would you forfeit your life to save your friend?" At first, Eris had called him a liar, declaring Sinbad too selfish to be so noble. However, when he returns to Syracuse empty-handed, Sinbad accepts blame for the theft of the MacGuffin, vindicating his answer. Eris seems poised to squash Sinbad like a bug, but instead accedes the MacGuffin, because she gave her word.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: The terrible monsters of the abyss are struck by SpongeBob and Patrick's confidence after the two repeatedly avoid the monsters' attempt to kill them and perform an extremely cool slap-dance. The ocean terrors can't help but join the tiny little fish in singing and dancing along to "Now That We're Men." Lampshaded by SpongeBob, whose comment offends the monsters and causes them to walk away grumbling.
    "Shell City's dead ahead! We did it, Pat! We made it past everything, even the hideous and disgusting monsters!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Similarly to his comic book counterpart, Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron is really impressed when another character is able to lift Mjolnir. In this film, it's Vision.
    • Doctor Strange (2016): One can make the argument that the confrontation with Dormammu in the climax ends with this trope.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Tony Stark/Iron Man puts up such a phenomenal fight against Thanos, even when completely outgunned, that even the Mad Titan can't help but express his respect for him. And do keep in mind that Iron Man only drew a drop of blood from Thanos in the ensuing battle. This leads to a rather twisted moment where Thanos delivers the page quote...while burying a sword in Tony's gut.
    • Captain Marvel (2019): Carol Danvers being able to single-handedly cause the Kree Accuser fleet to invoke Screw This, I'm Outta Here at the end of the film has undertones of this trope. However, Ronan's wording leaves it up in the air if he's actually talking about Carol or if he means one of the Skrulls (or possibly an Inhuman).
    • Subverted in Avengers: Endgame: When Cap finally manages to wield Mjölnir in the climatic battle against 2014 Thanos's forces, Thor's reaction is "I Knew It!" instead of a jaw drop. Then played straight when Carol Danvers heads towards Earth for the final battle. All of the forces turn towards her coming at them like a meteor and stop fighting the Avengers to shoot at her, making the Avengers think Thanos's team has given up. And whatever got her such a reputation she must have done pre-2014 (because Thanos's army is time-displaced), i.e., before the whole team's post-snap heroics. Most powerful Avenger, indeed.
  • Bruce Almighty: Bruce Nolan, a reporter, suffers a series of unfortunate events. And during the ordeal, he calls God out for not doing his job right, saying several blasphemous lines including his trope naming line, Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter, but eventually God himself does appear and challenges Bruce to do his job better. However, he does admit that the trope-naming line was Actually Pretty Funny.
    God: I'm not one for blaspheming but that one made me laugh.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: En Sabah Nur has accumulated countless mutant abilities over the millennia, and Professor X's sole superpower is Telepathy, yet the former's face is filled with wonder when he first perceives the latter's gift while Charles is mentally communicating with Magneto. It speaks volumes that a near-invincible, practically immortal "god" can be wowed by Xavier's skill.
    Apocalypse: Extraordinary.
    Archangel: What do you see?
    Apocalypse: The answer.
    • Played much more darkly when Apocalypse realizes Jean Grey has the power to kill him. He's amazed and horrified as he dies by her awesome scale of power.
  • Ghostbusters:
    • Downplayed in Ghostbusters (1984). Gozer is more amused than impressed by the Ghostbusters' attempts to stop them, and decides that they're worthy enough to pick the form of something that destroys the world.
    • Shows up again in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Phoebe doesn't so much as flinch staring Gozer in the eye and telling them juvenile jokes. Gozer asks the girl if she's ready to die, to which Phoebe asks "Are you?" Gozer isn't wowed, but certainly respects Phoebe's badassery enough not to fry the kid on the spot.

  • The Ellimist, the Big Good, Cosmic Entity of Animorphs charged with watching over sentient life, routinely uses the heroes as pawns (he and Crayak mutually agree not to interfere directly, as the last time they did a sizeable chunk of the galaxy was wiped out). Though he claims to only appear omniscient, he is impressed by things like Marco snarking in his presence or Jake's idea for neutralizing Crayak's elite shock troopers (a single memory of him and Cassie kissing makes it into the Howlers' collective genetic memory, which will lead them to stop killing things for fun).
  • Early in The Lark and the Wren, Rune the fiddler-girl boasts to some bullies that she'll prove her skill with the fiddle by playing for the Skull Hill Ghost. It's an incredibly stupid thing to say, because the Ghost is immensely powerful, cruel, sadistic, and deadly - it kills anyone it finds on Skull Hill after dark, but it doesn't let them die easily. When it catches Rune on the hill and she tells it why she's there, it offers a bargain: if she can keep it entertained all night with her music, it will spare her life. Rune rises to the challenge, and plays so well that when dawn comes, it not only spares her life, it also rewards her with a heap of silver coins.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Summer Knight has Queen Mab taking an interest in Harry because of how he skillfully bested her personal handmaiden and Harry's fairy godmother in the previous book in a daring and dangerous gambit. The fact that, despite his suffering a Heroic BSoD because of events in the previous book's climax, he is able to see through her disguise of a rich mortal woman only impresses her more.
    • In Dead Beat, Harry Dresden is able to summon the Erlking, one of the most powerful lords of the Fae, to a summoning circle and hold him there, in order to prevent the bad guys being able to use the power of The Wild Hunt to their own ends. Later, the Erlking is so impressed by Harry raising a zombie T-Rex that he promises not to seek revenge upon Harry... this time.
    • In Small Favor:
      • "Tiny" Gruff, second only to Eldest Gruff and one of Summer Queen Titania's top assassins, has greater magical strength than Harry and ages of experience in battle. When he confronts Harry inside a Truce Zone both are obligated to adhere to, he tells Harry once Harry leaves he will be struck down. At this moment, Harry's friend Karin, a mortal police officer who is not bound by the same rules, threatens to shoot Tiny with many many bullets, justifying her defense of Harry as he is a taxpaying citizen to whom she has sworn to protect. Tiny cannot raise a hand to strike Karin without breaking the Truce Zone's rules even if his enemy isn't bound by them. He is impressed enough to leave Harry unaccosted.
      • When Harry faces the Eldest Gruff on an isolated island in the middle of Lake Michigan, he finds the deadliest assassin wearing three purple hoods on his belt, signifying this being has killed three Archmage-tier wizards and Harry is still a kid compared to those magical powerhouses. Harry knows he cannot strike this assassin down with anything he has on him, and instead calls in a marker owed to him by the Summer Court. As Eldest Gruff owes his loyalty to Court then Queen, in that order, killing Harry before the debt is paid will reflect badly on the Court. Harry doesn't ask for time or a pass, but rather a donut, freshly baked from Chicago. The Gruff, impressed by Harry's wit and skills he has shown in the past, acknowledges if Harry is off the island when he returns with the baked good, they will not fight. Harry accepts and is able to escape the island before the Gruff returns. Though, the Gruff does deliver the donut in the end.
      • In the end, there is an implicit wowing from Archangel Uriel when Harry, furious at the fact Lucifer granted his minions use of Super-Hellfire twice in this book, Michael almost died, and all this bullshit about God not directly stopping them and calls God out on these in a hospital chapel. Uriel in disguise as a janitor talks with Harry about how God and the Angels see things from beyond the limited human perspective and might give one person, who doesn't know it at the time, a hand which helps them overcome these trials. Uriel is speaking of Harry himself, in part for turning the Shadow of a Fallen into a being of good who sacrificed her life to save Harry's in the last book, and to balance Lucifer's actions gifts Harry Soulfire, the Fires of Creation, for him to use.
    • In the short story "The Warrior" ends with Harry at St. Mary's church watching a family he helped save and kept a good man from giving into his wrath. The Archangel Uriel appears besides Harry in a form they met previously in Small Favor, and talk again about how Uriel sees things. He wanted Harry to be there these past few days not just to save this particular family, but three other people he encountered he saved them without them knowing itnote . The wowing comes at the end when Harry, while happy to have helped people, hands Uriel a bill. Uriel is shocked that Harry would have the hubris to bill God, to which Harry clarifies he is sending the bill to Uriel, not God. Uriel smiles and leaves without paying.
    • In Skin Game Harry comes face to face with Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, who proves to be a pretty nice guy who is so impressed at Harry's past exploits he just wants to shake his hand.
  • In Explorers of Gor a tribe of Fantasy Counterpart Culture Zulu warriors have a massive multi-day battle against the Kurii, a group of 9 foot tall alien beasts. Before the final battle the Kurii give a salute to their human enemies in respect of their bravery.
  • In one of Aesop's Fables, (specifically, The Honest Woodman) a workman dropped his axe into the river. The god Mercury found out what was wrong, and offered his aid. First Mercury pulled out a silver axe, and asked whether it was the one the workman lost. He told the god that no, it wasn't. Then Mercury pulled out a golden axe, and asked whether it was his. Finally, Mercury pulls out the original axe. The man says yes, this is his. Impressed by his honesty, Mercury gives him the golden and silver one as well.
  • David Brin's short story "Thor Meets Captain America". After the Allied team is captured, they are taken before the Norse Mythology deities who rule the Nazis. One of the Free British volunteers defies them and insults them, and is beaten to death by their Nazi captors. Odin orders that the volunteer's body be given full funeral rights and says "We value courage, even in our foes. I want that brave man with me, when Fimbul-Winter blows."
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, after Red Knight, Morgon and Ariosto manage, alone, to take down an undead dragon, the creature's masters are left with a metaphysical equivalent of a Jaw Drop, which the trio exploits with gusto to take them down.
  • In Four Roads Cross, junior sorceress Tara impresses an immortal Sorcerous Overlord with a history of killing gods by having earned the loyalty of a gargoyle. In this universe, gargoyles are servants of a specific goddess and are normally at odds with the class of magic-using humans Tara belongs to, not least because said overlord, among the strongest of those humans, was personally responsible for maiming that goddess to near-death. That Tara has a gargoyle with her and that she can keep the gargoyle from going for the guy's throat on sight convinces him to grant her a brief audience.
  • In Stephen King's It, Adult!Bill hears the voice of the Other telling him, "Son, you did real good," after he, Bill, has killed the Spider by physically squashing Its heart.
  • In the Spellsinger novel Day of the Dissonance, spellsinger Jon-Tom is challenged, on pain of death, to provide a suitable musical gift to a kangaroo demon. He plays "Are You Experienced?", which impresses the demon even before the magical effect kicks in (which magic causes both of them to get massively stoned).
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, the White Queen, a being of such unearthly perfection that most people lose themselves just looking at her, offers Kyousuke a Deal with the Devil. He says no. And the White Queen laughs, confirming that she expected such strength of him and that she will never, ever, let such an interesting mortal go.
    <No, no, no, no, no! That is not a choice just anyone can make. It’s the same with lasers, and nitroglycerin, and rockets! People tend to be very tolerant of technologies they know are useful!!>
    <You can save so many more if you use me. You can erase tragedies after the fact if you join forces with me. …So give up on that grueling fight. They use that excuse and find themselves weakly sucking up to me before they know it. But – oh, honestly – but you, brother!! You look so thoughtful, but you’re really overflowing with a childish idea of justice! How can I not find that adorable!!!???>
  • In The State of the Art, one of The Culture novels, Special Circumstances agent Diziet Sma regards the civilization of 1970s Earth as primitive and barbaric, until she visits a French Holocaust memorial and is awestruck by its beauty and the artistic meaning behind it.
  • In The Irregular at Magic High School, an enraged and apocalyptically powerful child asks a besieged army if he can fight on their side. The army acquiesce, because they are very outmatched and have already taken casualties (including the child's family), but set the condition he must not kill any enemies who surrender. The child agrees and breaks his word almost immediately, slaughtering people as they beg for a soldier on his side tackles him to the ground and orders him to stop. And the kid does, even though there's nothing stopping him from turning the guy to paste.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Merlin (2008): In "The Poisoned Chalice", Arthur is tricked by Nimueh, an elite High Priestess and one of the most potent magic users alive, into facing a Cockatrice. She watches as he fights and manages to kill it, which impresses her.
  • The Star Trek universe has many godlike beings. Whether it's a Kirk Summation or a Patrick Stewart Speech, the Starfleet crews always come out on top. Many times, the being in question gains a newfound respect for the crew:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • "Arena": During the first encounter with the Gorn, the Enterprise and the Gorn ship are stopped in space by a mysterious and powerful race called the Metrons, who take Kirk and the Gorn captain to a deserted planet to fight to the death. When Kirk finally gains the advantage, he refuses to strike the final blow which surprises the Metrons, who finally manifest before him, and admit they had not expected him to have the advanced trait of mercy.
      • "By Any Other Name": Kirk and company are taken hostage by powerful aliens. They want to take the Enterprise on a 300-year trip home. The aliens have assumed human form, then they try human food, drink and kissing. Soon, the aliens and the Enterprise crew have made peace and they give back the ship.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • The episode "Justice" has Ensign Crusher facing execution for trampling a flower bed, according to Edo law. An alien ship in orbit above Edo, which the natives regard as their god, is monitoring the away team carefully, thwarting all attempts to rescue Wesley. It takes a Patrick Stewart Speech by Captain Picard, arguing that law without mercy is tyranny, to spare Wesley's life. The alien ship simply vanishes into another dimension, allowing the young ensign to beam aboard the Enterprise intact.
      • In the series finale "All Good Things...", humanity is at its final chance to prove to Q, a near omniscient Reality Warper, that they are worthy of the Q Continuum lest they face destruction. To test this, Q challenges Picard to solve the mystery of an anomaly which involves Picard having to balance logic across many timelines. Picard is eventually able to solve the complex puzzle and Q tells Picard that he has his respect and that he was a Worthy Opponent, furthermore proving to the Q Continuum that humanity is still capable of evolving.
    • In Star Trek: Picard: Agnes Jurati succeeds in outplaying the Borg Queen in a mental duel, and is repaid with an ominous compliment.
      Queen: What you have just done here is more difficult... and vastly more dangerous than you realize.
      Agnes: And what is that?
      Queen: You've impressed me.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor has been known to do this from time to time with his enemies, most notably The Master (a.k.a. Missy) and Davros. There are also countless occasions in the series where the villain recognizes the Doctor as the only person intelligent enough to appreciate their diabolical plan (often leading to the bad guy explaining said plan to the Doctor, opening the door to their defeat).
    • The plot of "The Ribos Operation" kicks off when the White Guardian, Big Good of the universe, personally recruits the Doctor for a quest.
  • In the Penn & Teller special "Invisible Thread," aliens come to Earth demanding that humanity demonstrate their uniqueness or be destroyed to make room for another species. After a false start, Penn claims that humanity is unique for having invented "invisible thread," and performs an extremely elementary magic trick. To everyone's utter shock, the aliens accept this proof immediately and depart. The trick didn't fool them. They left because Penn demonstrated that humans tell the most bizarre lies in the universe, making us unique.
  • Stargate SG-1: Despite being relatively primitive and newbies on the galactic stage, humanity — and SG-1 in particular — makes quite an impression on some of the more advanced races. The Asgard are especially fond of SG-1's capacity for creative thinking and ask for their help several times across the series. They even name their new, top-of-the-line flagship after O'Neill.

  • In the Tenacious D song "Tribute", JB and KG face a "shiny demon" in the middle of a road in the desert that demands that they play "the best song in the world" lest he eats their souls. They succeed and he asks if they be "angels?"
    And we said, "Nay. We are but men."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • In the Book of Genesis, God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham is already about to go through with it when an angel tells him to stop, because it was just a test of his obedience to God. Impressed by his faith, God blesses his descendants by giving them right to the Promised Land.
    • God later asks King Solomon what he would most like, such as great power, long life, death to his enemies, etc., with the implication being that God would grant Solomon's request. Solomon asks for wisdom above all else. God was impressed, and blessed Solomon not only with wisdom, but with great power and riches as well.
    • There are numerous occasions in The Four Gospels in which Jesus is impressed by someone's act of faith, such as the time he was preaching to a standing-room-only crowd, and the friends of a paralyzed guy cut a hole in the roof just so they could get him in to be healed. Or the poor widow in the temple who donated what was basically a handful of pennies (which was all the money she had), causing Jesus to remark that she had given more than the rich folks who were making a big show of donating lots of money (which was simply a small fraction of their wealth).
  • In Classical Mythology, Orpheus traveled to the underworld to rescue his wife Eurydice. Cerberus, being Hades' guard dog, attacked Orpheus. He managed to charm the dog with a song. He then reaches Hades and his wife Persephone. The two were so wowed by one of his songs, Hades decided to let Orpheus take Eurydice back to the world of the living as long as he doesn't look back. He did. This is taken to an extreme in The Georgics, where Hades itself, not just its inhabitants, are spell-bound by Orpheus' song.

  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, Tagg manages to convince Yveltal to allow Lucius and Alice's revival by pointing out how their very universe works on narrative causality, and as such their unsatisfying deaths was jarring to near reality-breaking levels by the standards of the work, which impresses the death god after Salvador and Sol's appeals fail.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn". The Great Old One Chaugnar Faugn respects people of courage, even if they're his opponents. In one case the god personally released a captured explorer who suffered through three days of hideous torture without crying out once.
  • This is how most Daemon Princes earn their ascension in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, by performing some act of Villainous Valor pertaining to one of the Chaos God's interests (war, hedonism, disease, and plotting). Less impressive feats are still rewarded with mutations or gifts of Chaos.
    • Overlapping with Eviler than Thou, let's take a gander at Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile of the Emperor's Children note . He gets captured by the Dark Eldar, a race of hyper-advanced, hyper-xenophobic jaded cynic Space Elves who have built an entire civilisation on torturing other sentients. He goes to Commorragh as a captive and ends up impressing the sick bastards so much with his knowledge of flesh manipulation that they decide to tutor him and let him go. Also worth pointing out that Fabius is only nominally aligned with the Emperor's Children; he claims the Chaos Gods themselves have nothing more to offer him.
    • The story of Ork warboss Tuska The Daemon Killa. Tuska and his Boyz loved fighting Daemons. And knowing there was an endless supply of them in the Warp, Tuska gathered his Boyz and barreled headlong into the Eye Of Terror, turning the Imperium defense around it into Swiss cheese on his way through. Tuska's WAAAGH conquered several Daemon worlds in a glorious Orky festival of carnage. Until they arrived on one planet, where Tuska and his crew fell in battle to a Daemon known as The Blood Prince. On the verge of death, Tuska took the Blood Prince with him by stabbing him in his Daemon nether bits with a Power Klaw. Tuska's sheer balls-to-the-wall slaughter of Daemon worlds and final act of violence nabbed the attention of Khorne, Chaos God of War. Who saw fit to resurrect Tuska and his crew, having them fight and die daily against his strongest generals. Yes, Tuska so wowed a blood loving god of death that he and his Boyz landed in an Ork Warrior Heaven.

  • In Jasper in Deadland, Cerberus lets Jasper into Deadland after he gives it an impressive explanation as to what humans do with their lives (as Cerberus only knows what humans do with their afterlives).

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link, being The Chosen One of many stories, does it a lot.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The great Sky Spirit Valoo is most grateful to you after you destroy the monster that was harassing his tail. He repays him with a Big Damn Heroes moment later on in the game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: In Link's childhood, when Ganondorf demands that Link tell him where Impa and Zelda went, Link's response is to draw the Kokiri Sword to defend them. Ganondorf explicitly states that he likes Link's attitude even as he puts him in his place by blasting him with magic, which Link has no counter for yet.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Link is able to gain the respect of Faron, Eldin, and Lanayru, the three dragon deities of the game and get them to teach him their parts of the Song of the Hero. Faron is the most notable example as she's quite a Jerkass God to Link at first and isn't convinced such a lowly human would be The Chosen One. It's to the extent that Link constantly reincarnates into her provenience in games were we see his hometown.
    • Demon King Demise, also from Skyward Sword, is impressed by Link and Groose's courage when they stand up to him. They are nothing like the cowardly mortals who cowered behind Hylia in the past.
  • In the "Leviathan" DLC of Mass Effect 3, the titular Leviathans are a race of Eldritch Abominations that consider themselves to be the apex of evolution in the galaxy. One of them expresses amazement at how the Reapers fear Shepard for defeating Sovereign and the Collectors. This actually motivates other Leviathans to reveal themselves and aid the galaxy in the war against the Reapers.
  • World of Warcraft: At the end of the Ulduar raid Algalon the Observer arrives to assess the situation on Azeroth and initiate "re-origination" if he determines that Azeroth has been irreversibly corrupted. The raid party cannot beat him, but if they finish the encounter he stops and considers how these tiny creatures fight so hard for the chance at life and wonders if the inhabitants on other worlds had also felt this way and determines that his own calculations can no longer be relied upon. He gives heroes the means to signal the Titans that Azeroth is well, sparing it from being wiped out.
  • Persona:
    • At the end of Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, Nyarlathotep is absolutely ecstatic at the party when he reveals his true form saying that they now can die with his highest praise.
    • The True Final Boss of Persona 4, Izanami, reacts to her defeat with the words "Children of man... well done!" She'd set up the entire game as a way to "test" mankind, and technically the player's side had already lost, so by defeating her you win an unwinnable game and earn her genuine admiration.
  • This is almost as common in Zelda Classic quests as it is in the official series:
    • The Optional Boss of To The Top is the Wise Old Man, who turns out to be the guardian deity of the forest and its power. Proving your strength to him is necessary to convince his replacement, Sage, to give you the power to defeat Vespoir without sending everyone trapped in the tower plummeting to their deaths.
    • In Isle of Rebirth, dealing enough damage in the Hopeless Boss Fight against Venser in the Prismatic Gate impresses him enough that he gives Link the most powerful weapon in the quest: his cane. Considering that he not only possesses two pieces of the Triforce but also is the closest thing to a Great Old One that would make sense in the Zelda universe, this is no small feat, even though Link can't outright punch him out until later.
  • Heroes of the Storm has Alarak, a sadistic, battle happy Protoss warlord and Malthael, who is basically The Grim Reaper on steroids, impressed by Murky. A revenge craving Murloc.
  • Issue #10 of The Secret World concludes with a Battle in the Center of the Mind in which the weird and decidedly eldritch Black Signal unexpectedly discovers the memory of your encounter with Lilith back in Issue #7. Once he's recovered from the shock of seeing his worst nightmare again, he actually admits to being impressed and more than a little humbled by the fact that you followed Lilith to Tokyo even after what she did the last time. It's this vision that prompts him to ally with you in your attempts to break into Orochi Tower.
  • Destiny 2: In the distant past, human civilization was demolished by the Darkness, a sentient cosmic force of violence and ruthlessness, and was only spared complete extermination by the sacrifice of its opposite counterpart, the Traveler, an embodiment of altruism and cooperation. When the Darkness returns for round 2, it discovers in its absence that the Traveler’s last act before falling comatose was to lend its power to a subset of humanity, called Guardians, which for complicated reasons is an act of great metaphysical significance: they are the Traveler’s last, greatest, and living argument that Darkness is not the universe’s inevitable fate, and that peace is not a fool’s errand. This fascinates the Darkness so much that it’s decided not to steamroll the solar system immediately, instead hanging back and playing The Corrupter because it would much rather recruit such majestic beings to its side, winning the Traveler’s argument on its own terms, rather than simply destroy them.
  • At the end of DUSK, Dusk Dude has single-handedly killed a good chunk of the cult and its leader, already earning the respect of their deity, Nyarlathotep. After the final battle, even though the player does no actual damage, Nyarlathotep considers Dusk Dude a Worthy Opponent... enough to lead to the game's Downer Ending by turning him into its pawn.

    Web Animation 
  • In Fandeltales: The Cursed Prince (WARNING: NSFW) by Newgrounds +18 artist Derpixon, the villain of the story is a frighteningly powerful shapeshifting succubus by the name of Herzha, monstrous enough to have devoured the lives of an entire village and strong enough to casually best the eponymous prince in combat. The crux of the animation features her attempting to drain Prince Amont's life while bedding him, only for her would-be-victim to turn the tables on her and literally come out on top. Far from being dismayed, Herzha is genuinely impressed that a mortal has the stamina to outmatch her and the bravery to continue in spite of the horror. Amont is more exasperated than flattered by this, as Herzha shows her appreciation by roping him into a shapeshifting screwfest that lasts until dawn the next day.
  • Although RWBY's Ozpin was normal by the standards of the previous civilization, in the present, he's one of the last and greatest magic users on Remnant. Sometime in the distant past, he was so moved by the kindness that four ordinary maidens showed him that they were each gifted a significant fraction of his power for themselves.


    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, when Tommy manages to pull off an MLG water bucket from a high drop onto bamboo, Drista, who is a powerful entity (implied to be a goddess) with access to unobtainable items due to being in Creative mode, is genuinely impressed and stops her antics for the time being.
  • Happens from time to time in SCP Foundation, as even the gods take notice when a bunch of lowly humans manage to keep thousands of reality-destroying entities under lock & key.
    • SCP-738 is a powerful demon capable of accomplishing anything for a price. When the Foundation sends one of its lawyers in to negotiate with it, the result was a 900+ page document detailing the terms of the deal, which didn't even get finished because the lawyer collapsed from exhaustion after spending 41 hours negotiating with the entity. When the lawyer woke up, he found a note in his pocket: "Please come back any time. I haven't had so much fun in years."
    • SCP-3061, a demon named Fendsmul who offers deals often in exchange for the souls of the summoner's children rather than their own. The Foundation recovered their copy of the book detailing the rituals to summon it from a man who was readily willing to sacrifice his own children to pay off his debt, which royally pissed it off. Later on, the Foundation offers it a deal in which they'd get rid of other annoying "clients" in exchange for information on their whereabouts, to which it responds "...Did you just offer me a fucking deal?" before accepting.
    • SCP-5721 is the Greco-Roman goddess Eris, who's impressed when the Foundation manages to force a stalemate with her and No-Sell her Mind Control.
      SCP-5721-1: Bravo, bravo! The Foundation lives up to its reputation. Here you are, a measly human, threatening a personification of chaos for the betterment of mankind. If you weren't here to arrest me, I think I'd kiss you.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • In a similar fashion to the JLU example below that came before it, in "Darkseid Descending", Darkseid has his army of Parademons invade Earth. When he finally arrives, he easily repels the combined attack of other JL members, forcing Batman to challenge him to a fist fight. While Batman's actual attacks work as well as you'd expect, he is able to dodge Darkseid's practically unavoidable Omega Beam. Darkseid is impressed that a mere human like Batman was able to do this.
    • In "Death Race to Oblivion!", Mongul has an assortment of heroes and villains pitted in a car race, where the penalty for losing is the destruction of their hometown. At one point Green Arrow crashes his car, he leaps out of the wreckage and has his bow drawn in a matter of seconds. Mongul is impressed by Green Arrow's feat, but still teleports him into the loser cage for his trouble.
  • Catscratch: Gordon gains the Kraken's respect after he defeats it to save his brothers. He later does again when he impresses the entire Kraken race by defeating the Three Headed Kraken.
  • Genndy Tartakovsky created Dial M For Monkey, and scripted its third episode, "Simeon." Simeon started as a chimp, sent into space on a hopeless mission by NASA, where he became exposed to cosmic radiation, and morphed into the godlike Simeon. Simeon is poised to return to Earth and eradicate humanity, until Monkey offers him a banana. This simple act of kindness convinces Simeon to abandon his hateful wrath and pursue cosmic oneness with the universe instead.
    • In a straight-up homage to the Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 example listed above, the episode "Rasslor" featured an intergalactic wrestling champion (voiced by then-future WWE Hall of Famer Randy Savage) challenging Earth's heroes. Rasslor manages to effortlessly beat every one of them, but Monkey keeps getting back up and trying again. Realizing he can never break Monkey's spirit, Rasslor forfeits and spares the Earth.
  • Justice League Unlimited, Batman manages to evade Darkseid's Omega Beams, something no one else has ever accomplished. Darkseid is legitimately impressed, and prepares to see if Lex Luthor could do the same. Luthor flees in terror. Darkseid commends his stategy, but probably isn't quite wowed that time.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: In the episode "A Stitch in Time", Po's irresponsibleness allows Fenghuang to become a Time Master and erase all his friends from existence. Fortunately he catches her before she can do the same to him, and their struggle eventually brings them to the beginning of time where the Tree of Time has born a new fruit. After a long struggle, Po makes a deal with Fenghuang to spare his friends in exchange for his own life, but before the evil owl is able to take him on his offer, the Tree of Time halts the fight, stating that he's impressed with Po's selflessness. He then banishes Fenghuang to oblivion and pushes the big, temporal Reset Button, returning everything back to normal.
  • The Owl House: The Grand Finale has Luz going to the Afterlife Antechamber and meeting the Titan, whose corpse makes up the Boiling Isles and spawned all life living on it, leading its inhabitants to worship him as a god. He specifically asks her to say hello to Eda, her mentor, and that he's a big fan of hers. (Though that may be because she adopted and raised his son.)
  • Regular Show
    • In the episode "Dead at Eight, Mordecai and Rigby have to babysit Death’s son in order to save Muscle Man’s soul after Muscle Man has a fatal accident. Death’s son however is a superpowered Manchild and proves to be quite a handful for the two. Finally, in order to get him to go to bed, Thomas demands that they read him his favorite bedtime story which is about a monster that eats souls. However, once they finish, the actual worm monster bursts out of the book and Thomas wants to feed Muscle Man’s soul to it. Fortunately Rigby and Mordecai are able to thwart the beast, but an infuriated Thomas then refuses to go to bed to get the two in trouble, but then a chandelier falls on him, knocking him out. When Death and his wife return, they’re amazed and happy to see Thomas asleep. Death commends the two, stating that he was certain they would have died on the job and he spares Muscle Man’s soul.
    • In "Fists of Justice", Mordecai and Rigby find themselves doing all of Skips chores when Skips redeems his Do-Your-Chores coupon, but in the last job, they are unable to get a harpsichord dislodged from the doorway and ask for Skips help, but they accidentally break his hands in the process and right before they find out why Skips redeemed his coupon: The Guardians of Youth have tasked Skips with using the Fists of Justice to defeat Klorgbane the Destroyer every 157 years, but Skips hands are too injured to use them and he easily gets thrashed. Before Klorgbane can kill him, Mordecai and Rigby step in and volunteer to use the Fists. The Guardians comply and after some initial difficulty, they defeat Klorgbane. Impressed and grateful, the Guardians later help them and Skips with moving the harpsichord.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In an early episode, Spongebob comes face to face with the all-mighty King Neptune, who arrives after Spongebob pulls out the Golden Spatula. The one who draws it is destined to be Neptune's great chef but he refuses to believe Spongebob has the mettle for it so he challenges him to burger frying contest. In terms of quantity, Neptune beats Spongebob by a landslide with several thousand patties versus one from Spongebob. His patties prove to be utterly disgusting, however, while Spongebob's one patty proves to be so delicious that Neptune eats it twice and instantly makes Spongebob his new fry cook. Spongebob, not wanting to give up his old life, declines the offer and instead decides to teach him how to cook for himself.
  • Superman/Batman: Apocalypse had Batman threaten to use Darkseid's own superweapons to destroy Apokolips, unless Darkseid backs down. Reluctantly, Darkseid agrees, and admires his refusal to surrender and his willingness to obliterate an entire planet to win.


Video Example(s):


Spongebob impresses Neptune

After King Neptune tries Spongebob's Karbby Patty, he deems him worthy of being an Atlantis-level chef.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / WowingCthulhu

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