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You Get Knocked Down, You Get Back Up Again

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"I get knocked down, but I get up again!
You're never gonna keep me down!"
Chumbawamba, "Tubthumping", where they sing this line about twenty times.

You're playing a video game and some enemy runs up and knocks you down. Normally, if this happened in Real Life, you'd expect to be more vulnerable to future attacks. But, for some reason, these cold, ruthless mooks appear to have the proper manners to wait for you to get back on your feet before they take another swing at you, making the time when the player is on their back a form of Mercy Invincibility. Just as annoying is when the player is forced into making the same concession.

This tends to be one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality—because, when it's averted, it can be really annoying. See Mercy Invincibility.

Trope name paraphrased from the Chumbawamba song "Tubthumping," for those of you who weren't paying attention to popular music in the late '90s. The line goes "I get knocked down, but I get up again" and the song is primarily about getting drunk.

Subtrope of Mook Chivalry. Contrast Kick Them While They Are Down and Finishing Move.


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    Action Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Getting knocked down after a quick succession of attacks leaves Ann briefly susceptible to additional opponent strikes. Some of the more heavy-hitters are those whose assaults have an ample knock-down affliction. Conversely, Ann can also use attacks following a combat roll to deliver a counter-strike upon getting back up.
  • Unless they're doing some sort of grappling attack on Isaac, the necromorphs in Dead Space are nice enough to just sit there waiting for him to get up before resuming their attacks.
  • No More Heroes: Averted. While Travis does have such power when knocked down, he doesn't have it when he has just got back up.
  • Some Dynasty Warriors installments allow you to lie there on the ground, your opponent flailing impotently above you, while your Musou gauge slowly refills.
    • Sengoku Basara is similar to some extent. If you're stunned badly enough that you can't jump right back up, mooks will mill around waiting for you to recover and go back to destroying them. The same can't be said for bosses though, who will quite happily perform diving attacks while you're down.
    • Surprisingly, Samurai Warriors inverts this completely. While soldiers will still wait around, every general has a jump charge specifically for hitting you if you're (or they're) knocked down, so lying on the ground near death is not always a good idea.
  • Averted in the new series of Tomb Raider. You have to press a button to get up quicker or you'll be vulnerable taking your time to get up.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Inverted in The Wind Waker. Link can't (or won't) harm enemies while they're prone, even if he's perfectly willing to conduct a sneak attack on them beforehand.
    • Mooks in Twilight Princess can usually be killed by the Finishing Blow skill when down, but if you don't get them in time, they're invincible until they're all the way up again. If you're in wolf form, though, you don't have that ability, so they're immune from when they get knocked down until they get back up again.
  • Averted in Onimusha - stand over a downed enemy and attack, and you'll run them through. For most mooks, this is instant death.
  • In Rune, the (mostly harmless, but very annoying) zombie enemies can only be killed by beheading or burning them, but can't be attacked while they're Playing Possum, so unless you hit them just right with a conventional weapon, they'll keel over and force you to wait until they get back up again for another chance to try and land a perfect slash at their neck.
  • The titular colossi in Shadow of the Colossus will not attack Wander while he is lying prone on the ground, unless the player leaves him down for too long or if the game's difficulty setting is on Hard. However, some Colossi (namely Cenobia and Celosia) will simply attack Wander as soon as he gets to his feet, which can result in a frustrating cycle of getting up and getting knocked over again, often until Wander dies or is pushed into a place where the Colossi can't reach him.
  • Averted in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, where enemies can and will knock you down, and then mob you and kick the crap out of you while you're down. Fortunately, you're able to block while you're knocked down. Of course, you have to do the same to them with the Dagger of Time to finish them off. Once you lose the Dagger, though, you lose the ability to attack enemies when they're down.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has this, it along with a variety of Recovery Attacks almost makes getting knocked down worth it.

    Fighting Games 
  • This trope generally applies to Fighting games, though there are certain moves that ignore this, with the general fighting game community term of "Off The Ground" moves (usually abbreviated). For those, see Kick Them While They Are Down.
  • In Super Smash Bros. all players are invincible while getting back up. Of course, this doesn't happen until you start the animation for getting back up, so players lying on their backs are fair game if they don't try. While in the first two games getting hit by anything would instantly reset targets to their standing state, in Brawl weak attacks will cause characters to flop on the ground. Consecutive weak attacks can then keep them trapped on the ground indefinitely, leading to cheap tactics such as "laser locks".
  • Beat Em Ups such as Golden Axe and pretty much all games in that genre have no attacks that hit people lying on the ground.
    • The Combatribes averts this by allowing players to strike at downed enemies and even bosses low on health.
    • Quite a few Konami-made Beat 'em Up (X-Men, Vendetta, Violent Storm and Metamorphic Force) let you attack knocked-down enemies.
    • So does Fighting Force.
    • Final Fight averts this, however, in one specific case. Most enemies will politely wait for you to stand up again if you're knocked down on the ground. Andore, however, will leap right onto you, doing extra damage, necessitating the player to actively and quickly stand up, instead of waiting to do so automatically.
  • Most early Street Fighter games also have no way of hitting people on the ground, although later games have the occasional exception. In fact, throughout the SFII series, standing too close to someone who's been knocked down can allow them to get in a free throw or Dragon Punch on you. To contrast, while you still can't Kick Them While They Are Down, many SNK Boss types were especially vulnerable during a particular frame while standing back up, to the point that repeatedly sweeping was the only reliable method of dealing with them. Depending on the game, sometimes it's physically impossible to get out of a trip lock, while other games allow you to stay on the ground longer to throw off their timing by making them sweep while you're still invulnerable on the ground.
  • Enemies in God Hand can't hit Gene when he's grounded. Gene, on the other hand, can, and you'll need the extra bit of damage.
  • Mostly the case in Power Instinct, but one character uses it to odd effect. If Prince is knocked down while in his default Gonk state, he morphs into a Bishōnen just before standing back up. Knocking him down again doesn't change him back, but the effect is still only temporary.

    Massively Multiplayer Online 
  • Averted in TERA where a knockdown will leave you frustratingly vulnerable for slow but powerful attacks. In an MMO where player skill is the major factor.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Units knocked down in Dawn of War cannot be targeted (sort of- ranged units ordered to attack them will try to melee them, but will shoot them as normal if in attack range) and are immune to directly-targeted further damage until they get back up again, although AOE attacks like artillery can keep hitting them.

  • Averted in Dwarf Fortress: not only do knocked over units take full damage while being greatly slowed down, another unit can stand over them to keep them from getting up until they move to a square where no unit is standing. Once aimed attacks were implemented, being unconscious (though not just on the ground) left you incapable of dodging or blocking a potential Coup de GrĂ¢ce, with your only defense being armor.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In most of the Tales Series, if either you or an opponent are knocked down that character is generally invincible or at least highly resistant to damage until they get back up. Notably averted in one case though with Senel from Tales of Legendia, who learns a series of throws that can be performed on downed opponents (although otherwise the trope still applies). Averted in other titles, however, where allies and enemies alike only have a window of invulnerability during the actual getting up phase. Once someone's on the ground, hitting them to continue a combo is a great way to dish out damage without fear of retaliation. In fact, many attacks in Tales of Vesperia, such as Azure Blast and Wailing Blast, are invaluable for this specific purpose.
  • The Witcher franchise:
    • Averted in The Witcher - Geralt can kill any knocked-down enemy with a coup de grace... and any enemy can do the same to a knocked-down Geralt.
    • Played straight in the sequel prior to being patched a bit to be more forgiving.
  • Averted in the Persona series where they use the "Press system" AKA "One more turn", characters who are knocked down take extra damage and can also be stunned. There are even attacks designed to do extra damage to downed opponents.
    • In Persona 3, enemies who get hit by a critical or an attack that weakens the enemy, they get downed until it's their turn. This also counts for you and your party members.
    • And of course there's the All-Out Attack, which requires all enemies to be knocked down, at which point everyone in the party jumps them in a Big Ball of Violence for massive damage.
  • Averted in Fallout and Fallout 2. Whenever a player was knocked down, they could be attacked repeatedly until they either died or got back up with a penalty to AP for that round. Fortunately, this also happened to enemies.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Averted in Dragon Age: Origins, where knocking people down is a major tactic for both player-controlled characters and enemies. One of the nastiest attacks in the game is Overwhelm, a skill of warhounds, wolves, and shrieks that both knocks down and grapples an opponent, holding them helpless while dealing massive damage (usually until they're unconscious or dead).
    • Dragon Age II has a whole mage specialization focused on knocking people down and/or throwing them across the room. Leaving them perfectly vulnerable to stabbings and fireballs in the face.
  • Averted throughout The Elder Scrolls series. Getting knocked down leaves you extremely vulnerable to further enemy attacks. Enemies with attacks that have a high knock-down rate are some of the most dangerous as well as some of the most widely despised. On the flip side, you can do this to enemies with your attacks or abilities as well. A knocked down foe is much easier to kill.
  • While Dark Souls averts this for being knocked down by regular attacks, it plays it straight with Critical Hits, which knock the opponent over but make them invincible until just before they're finished getting back up.
  • Averted in the Mario & Luigi series, where being knocked down is a status that Mario or Luigi can be hit by and the enemies can and will take advantage of it to hit them while they're defenseless. Especially in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, where being knocked over seems to put a giant bullseye on the bros head for every enemy/boss in the battle to open fire at.
  • Phantasy Star:
    • Phantasy Star Online provides with you invincibility when you're knocked down, and it actually lasts for a brief moment after you're able to act, for the sake of preventing a Cycle of Hurting.
    • Phantasy Star Online 2, on the other hand, only grants the invincibility during the getting up phase, but provides all classes with the Just Reversal ability, which allows them to swiftly flip back onto their feet if it's used with the right timing. Despite this, it's still possible to get caught in the Cycle of Hurting due to you becoming vulnerable the moment you're able to move again.
  • Monster Hunter prevents you from taking damage while you're knocked down and getting back up, unless the enemy monster is using its pinning ttack. There are even skills to extend the invincibility period as you get up, and in Monster Hunter 4 onwards you can control when you get up to take advantage of this.

  • Bouncers in the BioShock series can knock you down, but do not attack until you get back up. Given that they're genetically engineered Dumb Muscle, it's possible they can't tell the difference between prone and dead.
  • Annoyingly turned upside-down in every possible way in Left 4 Dead. You can shoot zombies that are knocked down, and zombies can get you when YOU'RE knocked down (either from an effect, or just incapacitated.) But God help you if you try to help someone up while they're still in the middle of the "slowly falling and flailing" animation...

    Stealth Based Game 

    Survival Horror 
  • In Rule of Rose, no enemy can harm you when you're down or getting up (though you're fair game immediately after getting back up), but the same applies to you, as you can't harm enemies that you've knocked down, either. There's a stomping attack, but due to a bug or poor hit detection that plagues the rest of the game it's almost 100% useless; if you stomp every enemy you manage to get on the ground during the entire game, you may hit maybe one or two of them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer Quest, the various fake death techniques allowed a warrior to avoid damage until everyone else was dead or gone, at which point the monsters would start poking or eating. It never occurs to them to poke or eat if the fighting is at the complete opposite side of the room, of course.