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No Sell / Live-Action TV

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No-Selling in live-action TV.

  • In The 4400, Isabelle is often immune to other characters' powers. Notably Shawn is unable to kill her when he tries in one episode. However, Jordan is immune to her powers, as well as to Graham's, the Messiah kid in The Wrath of Graham. Jordan can also take away their powers.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Soon after he's introduced, Lash proves completely immune to other Inhumans' powers. Near season's end, this proves crucial, as it means Hive cannot infect him.
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    • On a similar note, Hive's bizarre biology allows it to no sell basically anything, from simple things like bullets to odder things like an Inhuman's petrifying gaze. At one point, Daisy breaks every bone in its body, causing it to crumple to the floor... and then it just stands up anyway.
      Hive: Bones don't hold me up. Every part of me works in unison.
    • Robbie Reyes, AKA Ghost Rider, has this reaction to a lot of things. What little damage he sustains in human form is immediately healed when he shifts to Ghost Rider form. However, fire has absolutely no effect on him. When Hellfire hits him in the face with a grenade, all it does is piss Robbie off enough to let out the Rider. A few minutes later, they fall into a fireworks warehouse, which predictably explodes. Hellfire is nearly killed (despite his own resistance to fire), while Robbie strolls out without a care in the world.
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  • In Alphas, Bill proves completely immune to a Hate Plague. Although not stated outright, the implication is that since his power (super strength) is tied to his fight-or-flight instinct, he simply has much more experience controlling himself in that state than anyone else.
  • Angel is able to resist the misogyny-inducing touch of Billy because as a vampire he had already lost the hatred and anger Billy brought out in other men.
  • In Babylon 5, a Vorlon battleship shrugs off the Shadows' unstoppable beam weapon. Later, when Lyta starts abusing her Vorlon-enhanced Psychic Powers, she claims that no one can stop someone who has been Touched by Vorlons. Cue a Dramatic Gun Cock/*Click* Hello by Sheridan, who reminds her that she's not the only one who fits that category.
  • The finale of Blackadder Goes Forth: Capt. Blackadder is expected to go over the top at dawn, so he pretends to be crazy by putting some knickerbockers on his head and stuffing two pencils on his nostrils. However, General Melchett doesn't buy it changing the tone of the episode, as Edmund and his men must prepare to battle.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • In the shootout between Hank and The Twins, Hank unloads half a clip from a handgun into one of the Twins who is wearing a Bulletproof Vest, and the guy barely budges. This is notable as when the Twins tested the quality of the vests by shooting a guy who was wearing one, the guy they shot lived but immediately went down and started shouting that his ribs were broken.
    • Subverted in the season 4 finale. Gustavo Fring has just had one of his enemies successfully set off a bomb right in his face. The room is destroyed, but Fring walks out calmly, straightens his tie... then falls over dead, the camera revealing that half his face has been blown off.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Adam is immune to reality-altering magic, like the spell Jonathan cast in "Superstar". Buffy herself is near enough immune to most a normal human can throw at her, so when Tucker Wells smashes a vase over her head what do you think happens?
  • On an episode of Burn Notice, Team Westin is trying to protect a man wrongfully accused from a bounty hunter while they work to clear his name. When the rival bounty hunter shows up at Fiona's house, Michael buys her and the client time to escape by fighting the man. Unfortunately, he has about six inches and a ton of muscle on Michael, and he just shrugs off Michael's strikes with an annoyed glare. Cue Michael staring up at him with a worried "Ohhh damn."
  • Doctor Who:
    • The sonic screwdriver that the Doctor carries around everywhere, for a start, does not work against deadlock seals or wood.
    • The ID cards handed out to the members of UNIT in "Aliens of London"/"World War Three" turn out to be assassination devices perfectly capable of killing humans... but the Doctor isn't a human. He's able to resist the electrical current long enough to take the ID card off his jacket and attach it to the nearest alien.
    • "The Christmas Invasion": The Sycorax commander possesses a whip that can disintegrate flesh and clothing, leaving smouldering skeletons out of anyone hit by it. When used on the Doctor, he instead catches it with his hand with no ill effects to himself.
      The Doctor: [takes whip and breaks it] You could have someone's eye out with that!
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": After being hooked up to the Alexandra Palace TV transmitter, the Wire gains the ability to shoot a Disintegrator Ray… but the Doctor is unaffected, which he attributes to his rubber-soled sneakers.
      "Rubber soles! Swear by 'em!"
    • "Army of Ghosts": All Torchwood employees are trained to resist psychic influence, making psychic paper useless against them. In fact, showing them the paper tips them off that the person showing it is up to no good.
    • "The Shakespeare Code": William Shakespeare is too brilliant to be affected by the psychic paper.
    • "The End of Time":
      • Subverted with the Doctor versus the Master's bioelectric blasts from that episode. At first he is able to put on a stoic face and continue his Unflinching Walk. A few seconds later he is definitely feeling it and is brought to the ground.
      • When the Master attempts to hijack the bodies of all the Time Lords, it not only completely fails, but Rassilon proceeds to undo his previous hijack on all the people of Earth with his super techno glove, smirking evilly all the way.
    • Rory Freakin' Williams. Trapped in a hotel where everyone finds a room containing their greatest fear, he just keeps finding exits. Also, the Eyedrive. (Think of those ID cards that fried people in "Aliens of London"; the device that lets you see the Silence is also rigged by them to be able to induce Electric Torture, which can be cranked up to fatal levels. Rory is clearly in agony but endures it because he needs to be able to see the Silence, even though all others were instantly and totally disabled by it. There's a reason he is considered a fifteen on the badass scale of one to ten.)
    • The Cybermen in "Nightmare in Silver" can adapt to whatever could previously harm or kill them.
    • "Resolution":
      • After the Dalek recon scout builds itself some Improvised Armour, it casually shrugs off small-arms fire from dozens of soldiers before equally casually slaughtering the lot of them. There was a tank present as well, but it's not revealed whether or not its fire would have been effective, as the Dalek pulls a Shoot the Bullet and destroys the tank and its crew with a single missile.
      • The TARDIS' forcefield proves impervious to the Dalek's firepower when it tries to pull an Attack Hello the moment the Doctor steps out in the communications hub.
  • Family Matters: In Season 2's "Requiem for an Urkel", the nerd fights school bully Willie Fuffner in a boxing match at the local gym. On Carl's advice, Urkel delivers his patented "Urkel Uppercut" when he sees an opening. It is Urkel's only offense the entire match, delivered with all of his strength and weight ... and Fuffner just stands there and smiles. (Fuffner then pounds Urkel until several other boys in the gym stand up to the bully, forcing him to run.)
  • Farscape:
    • In "I Shrink Therefore I Am", a masked bounty hunter reads the thoughts of the crew for information shortly after capturing them. However, when Scorpius is captured and scanned, he merely rolls his eyes and remarks "That won't work on me." In Scarran.
    • Multiple characters are shown to be able to resist the Scarran heat probe. In "Bringing Home the Beacon", Grayza warns Akhna that all the Peacekeepers present are immune and John repeatedly manages to lie (or half-lie, at least) to various Scarran attempts at truth-seeking.
    • Einstein tends to do this when his guests start getting aggressive; not only is he capable of stopping pulse blasts in midair, he very casually waves away the Scarran heat probe when Staleek tries to use it on him.
      Crichton: Staleek, he can wrap time around his little finger. The hoodoo-voodoo is not gonna work!
    • The Scarrans themselves have a tendency to do this when shot with anything smaller than a bazooka.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the second season finale, Ros attempts to seduce Varys by reaching between his legs, only to find out that, being a eunuch, he lacks the necessary equipment for it to be effective. The look he gives her can be summed up as "Bitch, please."
    • During the third season, Sam tries to defend Gilly and her baby from one of the dreaded White Walkers. Admittedly, Sam isn't much of a warrior, but his first attempt at actually fighting ends with the White Walker grabbing his sword in mid-swing, thermal-shocking the metal blade so much it reverberates and shatters, and then swatting Sam aside (no small feat considering Sam's girth).
    • While watching Arya practice her swordplay, the Hound scoffs at her delicate, graceful maneuvers, asking her what she's doing. When she proclaims that she was taught by a master swordsman, the Hound provokes her until she attempts to stab him in the chest, and then doesn't even flinch when the thin blade of her smallsword bounces off of his armor.
    • Monster Gregor watches a member of the faith militant swing a spiked cudgel into his breastplate with no reaction, then performs a Neck Lift.
    • Jon is the only person (so far) to resist Melisandre's advances, mainly because he's still in love with Ygritte.
    • After four seasons of Tywin cowing his children with a mere Death Glare and "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Cersei and Tyrion finally reject his efforts to dominate and manipulate them in "The Children": Cersei confirms that her children are bastards born of incest and therefore his legitimate bloodline is cut short, and Tyrion straight-up shoots him dead.
    • Daenerys is completely immune to harm from fire or heat, much like her true dragon "offspring".
    • The White Walkers are also completely immune to fire as their bodies are so cold any fire they come in contact with instantly goes out. Much to Daenerys' horror, the Night King effortlessly shrugs off getting a full blast of dragon fire.
  • In the Here Come the Brides episode "The Stand Off," the hired goon Ox agrees to let Jason strike the first blow. Jason punches him in the stomach, but Ox barely reacts. Cue Oh, Crap! from Jason as he realizes what's about to happen.
  • Peter, Sylar, and Arthur Petrelli of Heroes are all at one point or another able to resist being affected by other people's powers. Justifiable since most of them already have those powers, but still jarring in that it shows just how much of the Super Power Lottery they've all won. The example that stands out the most by far is Sylar versus Eden. Sylar is in captivity, and imprisoned in a cell with a large glass window with a small slot through which items can be passed. Eden enters with a gun, and then uses her Compelling Voice to command him to take the gun and kill himself. Sylar just ignores the order completely, and then telekinetically smashes Eden through the window. She then takes the gun and shoots herself, instead, to keep him from taking her power. Absolutely no attempt is made to explain why her ability failed to affect him, given that it had worked just fine not two episodes ago, although it is possible her wording of the command left Sylar with a loophole.
  • Kamen Rider is known to use this, normally to show off the Rider's newest form, though some take it up a notch:
    • When Kamen Rider Wizard assumes Infinity Style, he's prone to doing this, as Infinity Style has Armor of Invincibility as an explicit ability and only Big Bad level villains are able to actually hurt him. The stand out is its debut, where he simply stands there as the Legion Phantom ineffectively hammers away on his armor until his weapon snaps.
    • In Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Kamen Rider Cronus attempts to use his Time Stands Still to stop Ex-Aid's first transformation into Muteki Gamer. The Gashat no sells Cronus's ability and finishes the transformation anyway. Justified, as Hyper Muteki was explicitly designed to negate that power of Cronus's.
  • The Librarians 2014: It's a Running Gag that Ezekiel Jones keeps ending up immune to the various dangerous magic effects running around. Not because he has some magical defense, but they keep trying to do things to him that don't matter. The Apple of Discord turns everyone into the worst version of themselves... but Ezekiel is already the worst he can be, so he can handle it easily. A book turns everyone on the team into fairy tale archetypes... but since Ezekiel is pretty much already the Knave, he doesn't even notice. A haunted mansion kidnaps him... only for it to turn out to be a benevolent wish-granting mansion.
  • The divine beings in Lucifer (2016) — such as Maze, Amenadiel and, provided Chloe isn't close by, Lucifer himself — are able to No-Sell just about any mortal-borne assault. This is most often presented in the show as them being able to shrug off gunshots as though they were a mere annoyance.
    Lucifer: Right, I should warn you... [grunts as he takes a bullet to the gut, then sighs and straightens out his suit] ...this is hardly a fair fight.
  • In the Series 1 finale of Merlin, Nimueh does this when Merlin shoots a magic bolt at her, absorbing it easily and mocking him. Merlin then plays his own No Sell against a fireball straight to the chest. And then he subverts her No Sell by attacking her with lightning, which she can't handle.
  • Once Upon a Time: No one in the series has been able to avoid getting their heart ripped out of their chest when someone wanted to. Until "Queen of Hearts," where Cora tries to pull Emma's heart out and finds that she can't. And when she tries a bit too long, magic literally throws her out of Emma's chest.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Terrorform", The Unspeakable One's response to the crew of the Red Dwarf firing every weapon they have at him is to say, "Is it my turn yet?"
  • In Sherlock, when the titular detective meets a stark naked Irene Adler, he tries to give Adler one of his infamous Sherlock Scans, and all Sherlock can come up with is "??????". He turns to Watson, and gives Watson the scan, just to see if it still works. After it does, he turns back to Adler again, and gives it another shot, to no effect.
  • Stargate:
    • Happens in Stargate SG-1 with the two Goa'uld Ha'taks who reach Earth's orbit. The Pentagon orders the launch of two ICBMs modified for orbital travel and whose nuclear warheads are enhanced with naquadah. The Goa'uld notice the incoming missiles and raise their Deflector Shields. The warheads impact and do not detonate, dealing absolutely no damage to the ships. Anubis pulls several of these by enhancing standard Goa'uld shields with Ancient technology, allowing them to withstand Asgard and Tollan weapons, which could previously One-Hit Kill Ha'taks.
    • Atlantis' shield can do this to virtually any attack as long as there is power remaining.
    • In the Stargate Atlantis finale, the Asgard-designed plasma beam weapons prove entirely useless against a ZPM-enhanced super-Hive, even though they work perfectly well against normal Hives.
    • In fact, almost every major space battle in Stargate fits this trope. Weapons in the series seem to work in a binary blow you up right away/will not work at all fashion, and every major Big Bad will one up the last one by demonstrating how useless the previously unstoppable weapons are. See the Goa'uld vs. Asgard, Asgard vs. Replicators, Asgard vs. Anubis, Anubis vs. Ancient drones, Ori vs. everything, new Asgard beams vs. Ori and so on.
  • A Special Effect Failure version in Star Trek as Kirk is fighting the Gorn in TOS. Kirk hefts a massively heavy Styrofoam boulder and hurls it at the Gorn. His outfit is so bulky that he doesn't even notice he got hit until he heard the noise.
    • In a non-Failure version, in the episode "Assignment Earth", when Gary Seven attempts to overpower the crew and try to teleport down to 1968 Earth, Spock immediately puts on the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, which usually drops people in an instant. It only stuns him momentarily before Gary turns around and decks Spock.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the episode "The Maquis, Part II", Gul Dukat is captured by the Maquis and a Vulcan member tries to use a mind meld to get information out of him. He basically laughs it off—apparently Cardassian mental conditioning blocks it.
    • Vorta are completely immune to poisons, as demonstrated by Weyoun in "Ties Of Blood And Water". He takes a drink from a heavily poisoned bottle of kanar (which he knew was poisoned), and suffers no lasting ill effects.
      Weyoun: (shuddering) Ohh, that is quite toxic...
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II": after one of Trek's first (and most epic) season-finale cliffhangers, the Enterprise-D finally unleashes its modified-deflector superweapon (an improvised Wave Motion Gun that's the most powerful weapon any Federation ship had ever used) against the Borg... to no effect. (Then again, it was Worf at the controls...)
    • The Borg are basically No Sell personified. Any energy weapons used against them work once or twice, and then they adapt and the attack is useless. Plus their assimilation process means they know everything that their drones knew in their former lives, making existing defenses and battle plans obsolete. When they later suffered from Villain Decay, this became an Achilles' Heel; they were so dependent on this technique that they were literally incapable of learning anything any other way, and had no concept of tactics at all when they attacked an assimilation-proof species that could get around their shield adaptations.
    • In the two-part episode "Gambit", a Vulcan weapon called the Resonator amplifies violent emotion to kill a target, but consequently has no power over those who clear their minds of violent thought. The climax of the episode has Picard, Riker, and Worf no-sell the weapon until its user gives up. This was the reason that the Resonator was abandoned by the ancient Vulcans in the first place; when their culture turned to stoic pacifism, it was useless even in the hands of the few remaining Vulcans who'd retained the older, violent ways.
    • While the actual shrugging off part ultimately isn't shown, The Outrageous Okona reveals that the navigational deflectors of the Enterprise-D are quite sufficient to shrug off laser weapons until the enemy energy banks are drained. The Enterprise crew end up being more concerned that the kind of people that would target lasers on them despite almost certainly knowing it would do nothing even if the shields are down would be desperate enough to do other things that might not be quite so easy to just ignore.
  • This happens quite often on Supernatural, usually to show how powerful a character is. To name but a few:
    • Dean gets into an argument with the angel Castiel that ends with Dean punching him in the face. Cas' head moves a little from the impact, and Dean nearly breaks his hand. And he clearly didn't learn his lesson, as he does the same thing in a later episode with a Cupid, with the exact same result. Even Ruby's Knife has no effect on Cas as Dean found out during their first meeting.
    • In "Hammer of the Gods", Lucifer gets immolated completely by the Hindu goddess Kali, but when the flames dissipitate he's still standing in the same spot looking almost bored. This is after he gets shot with the kill-anything Colt and gets up again.
    • Azazel is shown to be completely immune to holy water and doesn't seem to have any problems with salt either. Lilith is also implied to have the same resistances.
    • A particularly amusing example was Sam's nonchalant immunity to Veritas' truth-inducing powers, and the epic fit she throws when she realizes he can lie to her with impunity.
    • A more heartbreaking example happens when one of the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Famine, is unable to affect Dean with his physical/psychological hunger-inducing powers because Dean has spent time being slowly and systematically broken throughout the entire series that in Famine's words, he's already dead inside.
  • This usually happens in Super Sentai/Power Rangers when their Humongous Mecha gets a Mid-Season Upgrade. Cue a shot of the new Mecha walking through a hail of explosions fired by the Monster of the Week, which used to work against the old model. Also happens in reverse during the finale of Power Rangers Turbo, in which the incredibly powerful Goldgoyle casually shrugs off the initial attacks, two finishers and a massive explosion. He's literally indestructible until TJ takes him out from the inside.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Steel", human boxing has been outlawed and replaced with rumbling robots with human-like features. The manager of a broken-down old machine enters the ring in disguise to win the money to fix his broken bot. His punches do not even make the opponent flinch.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: The 1998 episode "Warriors" sees the leader of a supremacist group kidnap a genetic researcher, so he can force her to share her secrets to help him in his ultimate goal ... create an army of genetically superior soldiers that can help him rob banks, murder, rape women and control the drug and black markets. The enforcer of the group is one of their creations, a muscle man whom Walker cannot faze at all, even with his trademark roundhouse kick. When the muscle man beats up Trivette and attempts to slam him into a concrete wall, Walker tries to shoot the man ... but he simply absorbs the bullets, thanks to the DNA that allows him to be instantly healed and not be hurt by gunfire. During the final confrontation, the man mountain has Walker beat ... but the researcher shows up, throws flammable liquid in his face and then a torch, which sets him aflame ... and stuns him long enough for Walker to recover and finally dropkick him to his death (out a plate-glass window and into a storage area conveniently full of gasoline barrels).
  • Wonder Woman: In "Going, Going, Gone", Wonder Woman fights a Bruce Lee Clone. He maneuvers her into what he thinks is a tactical advantage and deals two hard shots right to her gut. Which don't phase her in the slightest.
  • The Wonder Years: In the 1989 episode "Fate", Kevin tries standing up for Winnie's honor upon learning that her (temporary) boyfriend, Billy, the school bully has been bad-mouthing her behind her back. Kevin confronts Billy and tells him to knock it off. Billy does a "says who?" act, after which Kevin slugs him with an uppercut ... that doesn't even faze Billy. Of course, Kevin gets the hell kicked out of him, before Billy calls him pathetic and he and his buddies leave Kevin writhing in pain.


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