Air Gear: Despite being the heir-apparent to the Flame King Spitfire, Kazu has been summarily manhandled by Aeon Clock, Sora, Nike, Nott-Dagr, and several nameless Gravity Children throughout the series.
In Assassination Classroom, Lovro the hitman dealer was a powerful, talented assassin during his younger days. Despite being currently retired, he's still skilled enough to effortlessly subdue Irina. He's no match for the God of Death, a mysterious figure who abruptly kills Lovro within ten seconds of making his presence known to him. Except not quite.
The Asterisk War: Minor recurrer Elliot Forster is ranked 12th at St. Gallardsworth Academynote one of the top two schools at Asterisk in terms of dueling in his first appearance, 6th in his second, and protagonist and Master Swordsman Ayato Amagiri comments to himself that, given a few more years of seasoning, Elliot could become better with the blade than himself. In Elliot's first appearance, he's up against Ayato and is simply outclassed for experience and physical strength (Ayato is a couple years older). In the second, though, he's leading Team Tristan against Rusalka, from Queenvale Girls' Academy.note typically at the bottom of dueling rankings, due to a combination of a small student body and a culture that emphasizes performance arts over duelingMid-battle, the Rusalka girls unexpectedly figure out how to sync better with their Orga Lux, Lyre-Poros, and wipe out Elliot and his entire team.
In Attack on Titan, Reiner Braun serves as a consistent punching bag to demonstrate how strong or dangerous something actually is.
Played for laughs, when Annie's exceptional fighting skills are established through her effortlessly tossing him on his ass.
During the Expedition arc, he is very nearly crushed to death by the Female Titan. This later turns out to be a ruse, allowing him to pass intel on to her without arousing suspicion.
During the battle at Utgard Castle's ruins, the danger of their situation is established when a Titan bites — and breaks — his arm.
Eren's skills as a fighter are demonstrated when he's able to defeat Reiner's Armored Titan in a one-on-one fight. Reiner is forced to resort to calling for Bertolt's assistance to avoid a complete loss.
The power of the Coordinate is demonstrated through sending a Zerg Rush after Reiner and forcing him to retreat.
Eren's new ability to harden portions of his skin is demonstrated through being strong enough to shatter the Armored Titan's armor.
The power of the Thunder Spears is demonstrated by repeatedly and violently blowing Reiner's Titan up, including an attack that blows part of his head off.
During the Battle at Fort Slava, the power of the Middle Eastern Union's naval artillery is demonstrated by blowing the Armored Titan and Reiner to pieces, very nearly killing him. This particular Worfing makes the military realize that We Have Become Complacent and advancements in military technology will be necessary to survive.
Bakugan Battle Brawlers: Gundalian Invaders: Aranaut made a strong first showing in the previous season when a digital clone of him threw around one of the main characters like a rag doll. However, the Aranaut in GI has one of the WORST fight records in the show, quickly going from hot stuff to a bit of a joke, usually only winning with help or other circumstances.
Somewhat unusually for this trope, Tite Kubo has sometimes used villains to establish power levels as well as the more normal use of this trope to use protagonists:
After Luppi's power level was established by fighting Hitsugaya's team, he is one-shotted by Grimmjow as soon as Grimmjow regains his full power to highlight the difference in threat level between the pair to the readers.
Ayon, after effortlessly dominating five different lieutenants, is easily stopped and killed by Yamamoto, reminding readers that of all the characters currently on the battlefield, this is the guy with the strongest chance to take out Aizen.
Szayelaporro and Aaroniero were in a prelude scene to the fourth film to establish the power levels of Hell's denizens.
Ichigo suffered this whenever it needs to be established a new threat is far beyond any threat he has previous faced.
When Byakuya first appeared in the storyline to establish Byakuya's power level.
When Aizen was first revealed as the villain, to estabish Aizen was a greater threat than normal captains were.
Ishida was instantly defeated during Renji's first appearance to establish the difference between Renji's power level and the hollows that had been appearing in the story until then.
Chad has suffered this several times as a set-up for Ichigo's fights.
After defeating several seated officers easily, Chad was easily defeated by Shunsui to establish the difference in power between a captain and a seated officer. This set up Ichigo's fight with Kenpachi.
When the Espada first appear, Chad is one-shotted by Yammy to establish Yammy's power level as a prelude to Ichigo also being defeated by Yammy.
When Grimmjow's group invades the human world, Chad is almost one-shotted by the Grimmjow's weakest follower D-Roy to establish the threat Grimmjow's team poses. This is a lead-in to all the fights Hitsugaya's team face and, in particular, leads in to Ichigo's eventual fight with Grimmjow.
Chad is one-shotted by Nnoitra, despite having just gotten 3 power-ups in a row and handily beating Gantenbainne, to establish Nnoitra's threat level prior to Ichigo fighting him. And to show how big a gap there is between a Privaron Espada and an Espada.
Rukia, after defeating D-Roy, is one-shotted by Grimmjow to emphasise Shawlong's point about the difference in power between fracciones and espada. It sets up Ichigo being defeated by Grimmjow.
Renji had his brand new bankai ruined by Byakuya in the first appearance of Byakuya's bankai to establish exactly what Ichigo would be fighting in the supposedly climactic battle of the Soul Society arc (prior to the real villain being unmasked, that is).
Komamura suffered this to establish that even the other captains couldn't do anything against Aizen.
When Aizen artificially jumped in power level Tite Kubo displayed the new power level by having him one-shot three very powerful shinigami at the same time. Urahara, Yoruichi, Isshin.
Kira was one-shotted to establish both the power level and the ruthless fighting styles of the story's newest enemies, the Stern Ritter.
Bubblegum Crisis: The AD Police. Despite having high-yield firearms, railguns, powered suits and combat helicopters they often cannot stop rogue Boomers. Their K11s did stop a BU-12B Combat boomer (both getting destroyed in the process, sadly, although the second one was pure jinx on the AD Police side) in "Blow Up", though. Leon sniped Largo before he could pulverize the Knight Sabers in an orbital beam of death, too. As the designated Badass of the team, Priss also suffers from this to some extent.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Kerberos finally returns to his awesomely badass-looking true form... and gets hammered every. Single. Time. Often, it's explained by having Kero's creator be the one to send the threat to test our heroes, but not always. It'd be nice to have Kerberos's true form prove non-useless once in a while.
Somewhat lampshaded in the manga, near the end of the first arc, when they acknowledge Kerberos's vicinity makes The Earthy stronger, and Kero comments to himself "My true form isn't helping at all."
Cardfight!! Vanguard: Dragonic Overlord "The END" has appeared in three fights, used by three fighters. It's always touted as incredibly powerful (as players in real life can attest to), but no one has ever won using it. First, lost to Ren using it, to show the power of Phantom Blaster Overlord. Later, Morikawa used it, to show how good Aichi has gotten. And finally, Miwa used it against Kai to show how strong he is when he gets the power of Link Joker.
Happens twice to Accelerator, once to establish Amata Kihara as a certified Crazy-Prepared badass, and once to show just how inconceivably powerful Aiwass is. In both cases Accelerator, who is otherwise one of the most powerful and dangerous characters in the franchise, barely escapes with his life.
Magic Gods are beings of incomprehensible power, capable of destroying and recreating the entire universe (as first shown by Othinus). Then one is killed, and the rest depowered, by Noukan Kihara. And then all but one of the survivors are banished to another world by Kakeru.
The "Invisible Thing'' oscillates between being on the giving and receiving end of this. When it first appears, it terrifies Fiamma, then in a state more powerful than God. Before it can actually do anything, it's forced back into its seal by Touma. In its second appearance, it's immediately crushed by Othinus, to demonstrate how powerful even an incomplete Magic God is. The third time, it overpowers Kakeru, even though the latter can instantly defeat Magic Gods. And in its fourth appearance, Aiwass easily crushes it again.
The Digimon franchise as a whole has Seraphimon. As a Mega-level Digimon, the leader of the Three Great Angels and one of the rulers of the Digital World in the Digimon Frontier continuity, he is incredibly powerful, but you'd only really know this if you're into the Expanded Universe. Whenever Seraphimon shows up in ananime or manga, he is promptly defeated (and outright killed in Frontier), demonstrating just how dangerous the new antagonist is. His debut appearance in the first of the Digimon Adventure 02 movies had him defeated by Cherubimon within thirty seconds of evolving, and that was with another Mega, Magnadramon, assisting him!
One that has really annoyed the fandom is the first five minutes of Digimon Adventure tri. when the four main Chosen Children of Digimon Adventure 02 - Daisuke/Davis, Miyako/Yolei, Iori/Cody and Ken - are taken out by Alphamon, though it's incredibly hard to tell with just a five minute preview if they were just taken out or out-and-out killed.
And back in the first Adventure, we have Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon, previously shown to be powerful Megas for taking out VenomMyotismon, each being taken down with one hit from Piedmon's trump sword attack. This quickly establishes just who they are dealing with and shows just how much of a level in badass they'd be taking when they finally had a rematch.
The third movie of the Adventure series, Diaboromon Strikes Back, does this to Omnimon. Previously shown to be able to kill thousands of Diaboromon clones in seconds, Diaboromon's new form defeats Omnimon soundly. This is done to hype up Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, who defeats this new Digimon in one hit.
Imperialdramon himself was hit with this hard in the 02 series proper. Despite being a Mega level (and even calling himself the most powerful Digimon of all in the dub) he never once has an actual victory of another Digimon his level ( he only beats two Ultimate levels, and the average mega level is over ten times stronger than the average ultimate, so this isn't particularly impressive). He mainly serves to show how powerful whatever villain he's facing is, but this has the side effect of making him look incredibly weak for his level.
Dragon Ballloves using this trope, particularly to set up an opponent that Goku would eventually have to fight.
The most common version of this was introducing a minor villain, saying that he's as strong as an old villain, and having another character easily beat the minor villain to prove how strong this character is, with the minor villain acting as a stand-in. Occasionally Toriyama would just use the villain directly. Examples include:
Raditz confronts Piccolo and identifies him as the second strongest man on the planet; he pulls a No-Sell of Piccolo's attempts to hurt him.
Nappa states the Saibamen to be nearly as strong as Raditz; Piccolo, Tenshinhan, and Krillin beat them with ease, when previously Raditz was a terrifying juggernaut able to kill everyone at the same time.
Cui claims to have a battle power of 18,000 which makes him equal to Saiyan arc Vegeta. The new, powered-up Vegeta is shown to have a significantly higher battle power of 24,000 and defeats Cui in a few panels.
King Cold is explicitly stated by Vegeta and Tenshinhan to be around as strong as Freeza (Daizenshuu 7 states he's "somewhat weaker"), the Big Bad of the previous arc. Trunks goes Super Saiyan and kills him in one hit. In a variation of this cliche, Freeza himself comes to Earth and gets killed by Trunks, but he was killed by surprise before he could power up, showcasing Trunks' Combat Pragmatist nature. Cold, therefore, exists to show that Trunks' victory over him wasn't a fluke, and that Namek Freeza's level of power is not relevant to the high tiers anymore; especially once Trunks states that the new threat (androids) are too much for even him.
After Androids 19 and 20 turn out to be Big Bad Wannabes possibly weaker than Freeza and Cold (Piccolo and Vegeta dismantle them with no trouble), the real androids (17 and 18) establish themselves as threats when 17 takes out Trunks in two hits. Kami later just states this outright by noting that even someone who could easily beat Freeza and Cold was taken out nearly instantly, so these androids must be a big deal.
When Cell transforms into his second form, the first thing he does is confront Android 16, who was said (and shown) to be on par with Cell's first form. Second form Cell blasts his head off immediately after barely flinching to 16 punching him in the face.
At the Cell Games, Cell spawns 7 Cell Juniors who are stated and shown to be far stronger than Cell's second form and strong enough to overwhelm any of the heroes besides Gohan. When Gohan powers up, he makes them explode with one punch each.
At the beginning of the Buu arc, Goku clunkily drops a statement that Babidi's Dragon, Dabura, is as strong as Cell. When Majin Buu (Fat Buu) shows up, the first thing he does is knock out Dabura with one kick. He also takes out Super Saiyan 2 Gohan, who was matching Dabura, with a punch and a blast, which would have killed him if not for Kaioshin's intervention. He then beats down Kaioshin, who is stronger than Piccolo (but not as much as Dabura or Gohan) and in possession of psychic powers powerful enough to incapacitate a Super Saiyan 2, just by smacking him into the ground and crushing him with his body. After, again, pulling a No-Sell when Kaioshin tries to use said psychic powers.
This was Yamcha's main role in the Tournament arcs prior to Z. He was always beaten by an opponent that will eventually fight Goku in the Finals. Jackie Chun (Roshi), and Tienshinhan. The exception is against Shen/Hero (actually Kami), who loses to Piccolo Jr.
General Blue is depicted as the strongest of the Red Ribbon Army, being the only one of them able to fight Goku to a draw with his own abilities; in fact, upon their initial confrontation, Blue nearly killed him. He ends up on the receiving end of this trope during his face off with Mercenary Tao, who No Sells Blue's paralysis technique and kills him with his tongue.
Krillin suffers from this nearly as much as Vegeta below. In Dragon Ball'sTournament Arcs, Krillin would ultimately lose to enemies Goku would go on to fight or to Goku himself (after they knocked out Yamcha, of course). Though Krillin fares a bit better as he would at least get a win in the first round before losing in Semi-Finals. He also suffers this in the twist end to the 22nd Tournament Arc, where he's kill off-screen by a minion of King Piccolo, and in the anime to one hit!
In a rare occurrence, Goku gets this trope when he loses to the elderly King Piccolo in ideal conditions: fully fed, no distractions and plenty of motivation.
Tenshinhan (or Tien) is on the receiving end of this in the final confrontation against King Piccolo, where he's trounced by his servant Drum to demonstrate how strong Goku is when he one-shots him... which then establishes how strong King Piccolo himself now is in his restored youth and gives Goku some serious trouble.
Piccolo has also suffered from this a few times:
In the very first episode of Z when Raditz shows up. Before he finds Goku he runs into the previous Big Bad Piccolo, who attacks him with his most powerful attack from the previous series. Cue Worf Barrage that ends with Raditz laughing at how the attack barely singed him, and Piccolo having a major Oh, Crap! moment. In fact he only survives the encounter because Raditz sensed his true target and left.
After fusing with Nail and fighting Freeza's second form on fairly equal footing, Freeza transforms and utterly trounces him.
Likewise, in the Cell Arc, he rejoins with Kami and becomes a "Super Namekian," proving himself too much for Imperfect Cell and an equal match to Android 17. Then Cell returns after absorbing several cities-worth of people, and effortlessly defeats and nearly kills him.
Nappa is on the giving and receiving end of this. First, he easily engages all living Z Warriors who have been training for a year at the lookout to fight him and Vegeta. Nappa kills all but two of them which establishes just how strong the Saiyans are. Then he fights evenly with Goku (after calming down following a scolding from Vegeta), before being easily beaten by the latter using the Kaio-ken to double his power. This shows off Goku's newfound power after training with King Kai, and also demonstrates his new ability to multiply his strength using the Kaio-ken. The fact that Nappa is even with Goku despite his training shows that Vegeta (who is immensely stronger than Nappa) is really going to give Goku the fight of his life.
The start of the Cell Saga actually inverts this. Imperfect Cell gets annihilated by most of the cast and openly admits he's not as strong as the Z Fighters or the Androids yet. Obviously, once he goes Semi-Perfect, it's played straight from there on out.
Vegeta is relegated to this role for most of Z. After and even before his HeelFace Turn, his place in the plot is mostly getting beaten to set up Goku's fight with the newest antagonist. It's Played for Drama later on as Vegeta gets tired of living in Goku's shadow and sells his soul for the power to finally beat him.
He loses to Zarbon at first to establish the ability to transform to increase one's strength (though he makes up for it the next time they fight).
He's nearly killed by Recoome to establish how much stronger Goku's training in 100x gravity was, who beat Recoome in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
He's killed by Freeza after believing he's become a Super Saiyan, which sets up Goku who eventually becomes a Super Saiyan himself.
His loss to Android 18 wasn't to setup Goku, however, since Vegeta had actually surpassed him when he became a Super Saiyan, but rather it was to establish that it's going to take a level beyond Super Saiyan to deal with the latest threats.
He inflicts this on Cell, who had just absorbed Android 17, to establish how much stronger he had gotten, only to succumb to it once Cell becomes Perfect to establish just how strong the latter is.
Notably he, along with Future Trunks and Piccolo, are the few who can hold their own against the Cell Jrs since Goku had worn himself out fighting Cell, but even they still struggle. This sets up Gohan's transformation to a Super Saiyan 2 and killing every Cell Jr. with one hit.
He loses to Kid Buu to buy time for Goku to charge the Spirit Bomb.
Beerus is a weird example since Vegeta actually does better than Goku against him, but that's before Goku gets a new powerup.
He loses to Hit to establish his time leap ability and to set up how Goku has to deal with it himself.
He lost to Goku Black to establish the strength of his Super Saiyan Rosé form (though he later curb stomps Goku Black in a rematch), and then loses to Merged Zamasu to demonstrate how powerful the fusion between Goku Black and Zamasu is.
He lost to Jiren to establish just how overpowered he is, shrugging off whatever blows Vegeta dealt including a Final Flash and his new transformation before ultimately being knocked away from the arena.
He struggled against Broly even with his Super Saiyan God form to establish just how powerful the Saiyan is, who later easily shrugged off a full power blast from a Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta to establish the Saiyan's insane power.
Fat Buu himself falls victim to this trope when he powers up and expels his evil side, which then becomes a separate being, Evil Buu. While Fat Buu had previously been nigh-unstoppable, taking out most of the cast instantly and matching Super Saiyan 3 Goku blow for blow with no signs of fatigue or damage (while Goku was sweating bullets), Evil Buu quickly demonstrates his power by crushing Fat Buu in the space of a few panels, blowing back the previously unstoppable candy beam, turning Buu into chocolate before eating him, transforming into Super Buu. After coming back, he is nearly beaten to death by Kid Buu.
All the top-tier fighting characters like Vegeta and Fat Buu gets this treatment in Battle of Gods, thanks to Beerus, who is the living embodiment of this trope. Beerus knocks him away effortlessly. How much so? He takes Super Saiyan 3 Goku out with two hits, spanks Gotenks into submission, and knocks Gohan out by slamming him into Buu.
Dragon Ball Super, this ultimately happens to Hit, who is the strongest known member of Universe 6 and gave Blue Kaioken Goku a hard time, against Jiren to hype him up even further where even though the former did managed to put up a good fight even nearly ringing him out, Jiren ended up breaking through Hit's Time Skip through sheer force and ultimately managed to knock Hit out of the arena.
Durarara!!: Discussed. In his first appearance, Kinnosuke talks about how the police tend to get this kind of treatment in supernatural fiction they usually end up laying in their own blood to show how dangerous the enemy is. However, he doesn't really mind this, as it shows that people still believe that cops are strong and powerful.
Eyeshield 21: This applies to some players, most heavily the heavyweight linemen - considering how easily Gaou crushed Banba and the Pyramid Line (previously the standard for strength, tying with the Devil Bats' own center Kurita), Mr. Don (who can smack down Gaou with ease) should be strong enough to split an anvil by coughing at it!
Jellal Fernandes, officially recognized as one of the ten strongest wizards (until they recognize which side he's on, at least) is so powerful that Natsu need to absorb the ultimate magic Etherion in order to beat him. Midnight only needs to land one hit on the poor guy — and he does it off-panel, too. Erza is willing to say Worf Had the Flu, but there are a good many other ways of arguing this one.
This is later reversed, with Jellal single handedly defeating Midnight, along with Angel, Racer and Cobra, ostensibly to remind the audience just how powerful Jellal is supposed to be after having suffered this a few times. What's more he seems to defeat the four with only a middling amount of effort. However, this is once again inflicted on Jellal, along with the rest of Crime Sorcière, by August, the strongest of Alvarez's Spriggan 12.
Natsu is also hit by this relatively often. If he's not fighting the Big Bad, it's likely he'll have a tough time against an opponent. Lucy is also hit with this, to indicate that her opponents are too strong except for Natsu or Erza to defeat.
Makarov, despite being the Big Good and a Wizard Saint like Jellal, has been hit with this a few times to raise the stakes. During the Phantom Lord arc he's incapacitated by the magic-sapping powers of Aria of Phantom Lord to hype up his threat level, though it's acknowledged by several characters it only worked because Aria sneak-attacked him, as proven when Erza defeats him despite her own injuries and when Makarov returns and flattens his ass with ease along with the Phantom Lord guild master/fellow Wizard Saint Jose Porla. He gets hit with it against during the Tenrou Island arc, where he gets utterly wrecked by Grimoire Heart's guild master and former Fairy Tail guild master/his predecessor Precht "Hades" Gaebolg to show just how much stronger he is (and unlike with Aria, there's no Worf Had the Flu involved and he proves to be every bit as dangerous as advertised).
Fullmetal Alchemist: Used against Major Armstrong by his sister Major General Armstrong. Not only does she get him in tears by standing on his foot, she knocks him through a wall during the battle for the Armstrong Estate.
Scar's defeat of Basque Grand is done for similar reasons, in order to demonstrate how badass Scar is. This is justified in the Brotherhood anime, where we see that Grand's defeat has more to do with his not having all the information on Scar's abilities than anything else.
Mustang gets hit with this trope too, although it's less that he gets taken out and more that he fails to take out his opponent, which under most circumstances would mostdefinitelyhappen. When he faces Gluttony with the latter's stomach open, displaying the eye of Truth, his flame attack fails spectacularly as the fire is merely absorbed, prompting Ed to call him useless. Mustang then suggests that he do something about it.
GoLion: Every encounter the titular robot has with a robeast who is a physical threat to Golion is an example of this.
Heartcatch Pretty Cure: The Dark Precure shows this off and gets one. In the very beginning, she's shown wiping the floor with Cure Moonlight, leading to her depowerment. Everytime she shows up to fight the other Cures, it's just the same, with Cure Sunshine's arrival only barely changing the balance. It isn't until Cure Moonlight is repowered that the Dark Precure is finally given this, which leads to a very painful Villainous Breakdown for her.
Kabeyama, Touko, and Tachimukai, whose special skills are almost useless in the long run against most of the opponents' abilities. Also, want to show how bad the bad guy team is? Have them beat a random team or even the heroes to 10-0 or worse within the first half. This however, can be avert easily after The Hero begins his speak of friendship and how fun soccer can be.
GO introduces us to Kurama and Sangoku, both of whose hissatsus (Sidewinder and Burning Catch, respectively) unfortunately fall victim to being used in order to show how strong the opposing team is, despite the fact that in Sidewinder's case, it's actually a pretty good hissatsu. At least Sangoku gets Fence Of Gaia later on, which proves to be decent at saving a few goals here and there.
InuYasha: Just being the title character doesn't earn Inuyasha an exemption from Worf duties. Generally any fight against a major opponent has to open with the same ritual: Inuyasha unsheathes his BFS; headlong running charge into opponent; sword gets blocked (either directly or by some magic force field), and sparks fly for several seconds; then Inuyasha gets thrown back to the practical horizon. (In this case, the big tough character often does prove capable of beating the opponent handily but still has to give them the chance to toss him. Perhaps it's etiquette?)
Jewelpet Sunshine: Garnet and Sapphie, two of the major Jewelpet characters and more powerful magic casters, are soundly defeated by the Dark Queen in the last arc, showing just how dangerous the situation is, and also showing that they're not part of the legendary Wise Ones.
Jewelpet Twinkle: The tournament arc introduces a minor character called Hilde, stated to be the favorite to win the Jewel Star Grand Prix. She promptly loses against the unknown Laiya (Alma in disguise), setting her up as a dangerous opponent for the heroes.
Kakyoin from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders does this a lot. He claims "no one can just deflect the Emerald Splash", yet this move is deflected or dodged by Star Platinum, Tower of Gray, The Sun, and DIO, who deflects it with a single finger! And DIO kills him by using his Time Stands Still powers in one of both the most memetic and tragic scenes in the series.
Kengan Ashura: Variation, in which the character Hassad is introduced as one of the main character's potential rivals but ends up curb stomped a few chapters afterwards to establish the power of Katahara Metsudo's bodyguards. Japanese fans of the manga now use "to Hassad" as a verb to describe the phenomenon where a seemingly-strong character is introduced only to be beaten anticlimactically by an even stronger character.
Kill la Kill: When Nui Harime shows up to Honnoji Academy in the middle of Ryuko and Sanageyama's fight, Satsuki - the most fearless and formidable character shown in the series so far - immediately yells to Sanageyama to get away from her. Sanageyama doesn't listen, however, and charges Nui - only for her to instantly destroy his 3-Star Goku Uniform by removing a single thread, leaving him helpless.
Need a quick way to show off a mage's power? Have them shatter Nanoha's Deflector Shields, which are amongst the strongest in the series and the reason why Nanoha can invoke The Worf Barrage often.
Meanwhile, after her first battle, poor Vita has often found herself on the receiving end of this. May it be a powered-up Nanoha forcing her to the defensive, or Nanoha giving her an Oh, Crap! moment with one attack alone, or Zest smacking her out of her Unison form, it's like she's receiving karmic backlash from her initial beatdown of the main character.
Some chapters later Vita got (rather quickly) trounced again by one of the new villains just to maintain the tradition.
As the series as a whole evolved, the Zentradi and Meltrandi in general have become this. Because the conquering giants are so prolific and genocidal, they've already encountered and fought countless spacefaring species in the galaxy. Several of the post-Super Dimension Fortress Macross series have a human fleet encountering remnants of a massive Zentran or Meltran fleet that's been devastated by an unknown alien race (i.e. the new upcoming antagonist). Seeing these ruins make the heroes (and viewers) understand they're about to encounter something more powerful than the Zentran-Meltran, one fleet of which would have defeated humanity in the original series if not for a last minute HeelFace Turn.
Poor Klan Klein of Macross Frontier is the Proud Warrior Race Girl of the series... and she follows quite closely in Worf's footsteps, getting kicked around fairly consistently despite also having several moments of startling competency.
Magic Knight Rayearth: Whenever one of the trio is set up to fight an adversary on her own, the other two get one-shotted to show how powerful it is and how important it is that she defeat him/her/it.
Any dragon that shows up will inevitably be defeated by someone in an awesome manner. Albireo has a dragon acting as his guard dog, Kaede took out a dragon while blindfolded, Yue defeated a griffin dragon to prove she Took a Level in Badass, and Jack Rakan is said to have [fought the Sacred Guardian Beast of the Empire, the Ancient Dragon Vrixis Nagasha on even footing. It's one of the most powerful beings in existence, and it still worfed. It shows up again in chapter 281, and gets its ass kicked. Stupid reality warpingBig Bad.
Dynamis also has some trouble with this: after his debut, Nodoka steals his Reality Warper staff and uses it teleport away, Chachamaru obliterates his massive shadow summon, and later on he gets his ass kicked by Negi's Demon Form.
And now the whole of Ala Alba is suffering from this at the hands of the new Averrunci.
The go to Worf's in Ala Alba are Kotarou, Kaede, and Setsuna. Kotarou and Kaede were both made the Worf to Albireo in the Tournament. The event in the Chao arc that established her as a contender and Big Bad was that she outmaneuvered Kaede and Setsuna at once. Chachamaru also held this hat during the Magic World arc.
In the Mashin Hero Wataru Series, Shibaraku and Senjinmaru are overwhelmed almost all the time to show off the power of the opponents.
The Mazinger series:
Mazinger Z: In the original manga, the 18m-tall Humongous Mecha Aphrodite-A, clad in super-tough Alloy-Z, was sortied to stop a mysteryous Humongous Mecha from rampaging through the city. That mecha was Mazinger-Z, "controlled" by a Kouji Kabuto who was learning the hard way that Falling into the Cockpit is not a good idea. When Aphrodite's fist failed to even dent the armor of the unknown robot, and with her being easily tossed aside with a simple motion, Prof. Yumi knew that enemy was extremely strong and dangerous.
Venus A was also used like a punching bag by the Mykene Warrior Beasts when it needed showing how terrible they were.
UFO Robo Grendizer: Kouji Kabuto had been The Hero for two Humongous Mecha series, facing dozens of enemies and (often) emerging victorious. In the first episode he got shot down easily by Vegan mini-ufos, forcing Duke to reveal his true identity to rescue him. Kouji got subjected to The Worf Effect throughout the whole series.
Mazinkaiser: Both Mazinger-Z and Great Mazinger suffered this within the first two episodes, with both machines falling to Dr. Hell's Mechanical Beast army.
When Shishime Iihiko shows up, Superpower Lottery winner Anshin'in says she can hold him off for 15 seconds while the others run. And that's about how long she lasts, too. Not that running helps.
Supporting Protagonist Zenkichi Hitoyoshi can handle thugs and crazed kendo experts with ease, but he's occasionally used to show the threat of the next Arc Villain. Oudo easily subdues him with his Compelling Voice, Kumagawa toys with him during their fight, and he's even killed by the Gehyoukai. And the aforementioned Ihiko? Crushes him without a second thought.
Lan and MegaMan are defeated by Chaud and ProtoMan in a relatively short battle to establish ProtoMan's power level.
Later on, ProtoMan himself got worfed to showcase the power levels of ShadowMan and Bass. He was also shown on the losing side of a battle against the Dark Navis right after obtaining his new Muramasa Mode and needs MegaMan's help to turn the tide around.
Finally, all of MegaMan's allies got deleted in one attack in the battle against Nebula Grey.
Ace Pilot and Newtype Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Despite having more experience and low level Newtype gifts, as well as piloting a Super Prototype, he underperforms compared to Kamille, Amuro (who's rusty in comparison, yet still proves he's an Ace Pilot), Emma (after suffering from her own Worf Effect before getting the Gundam MK II as her primary machine, which takes her to a level of badass), Reccoa Londe, Haman Kahn and Paptimus Scirocco. The latter two in particular absolutely destroy Char by tag-teaming him in the final episode, with his Hyaku Shiki being more or less batted around like a rag doll between them.
Naruto: Sasuke Uchiha suffers from this a lot, especially pre time skip. Kakashi, Rock Lee, Itachi, The Sound Four all beat Sasuke fairly quickly and easily with the latter two actually helping lead to his FaceHeel Turn. He still suffers from it post time skip, even getting hit with it 3 times in a row at the Kage Summit, and the fight with Killerbee...
Speaking of Bee, Bee got the worf effect to later ninja who later go on to be opponents Sasuke keeps up and beats.
Sasuke may count as a deconstruction pre-timeskip, since being repeatedly defeated led to him believing he was falling behind which eventually drove him to seek out Orochimaru for power. But it didn't help that no one stopped to explain to Sasuke about Naruto's unbelievable learning curve because Naruto originally couldn't control his chakra at all, and it was only his vast reserves that pulled off his main cloning jutsu. Said cloning jutsu sends all the experience of the clones back to the original.
Even characters who gave Sasuke trouble earlier in the series wound up getting the Worf treatment in some way or another. Rock Lee especially, since after curb stomping Sasuke, he proceeded to get quickly defeated by minor villain Dosu, and then get an arm and leg absolutely destroyed by Gaara after suicidally opening his inner gates for a severe boost in strength.
This also happens quite frequently to Kakashi Hatake, more so post time skip. In Part 1, Itachi Uchiha proceeds to curb stomp him. With ease. In part 2 Kakuzu had every advantage leaving him nearly helpless offensively (Kakashi, however, mentions that he could have won with the Mangekyo Sharingan, but would have ended up in the hospital again). We also see him nearly killed by Deva Path Pain who takes little to no effort to defeat him and set him up to die.
The ANBU black ops, despite being referred to as incredibly powerful, never seem to actually do anything other than lose.
This happens a lot in Naruto. Aside from the examples listed above, Orochimaru got curb-stomped twice by Itachi, once before the series, and again at the end of Sasuke's fight with Itachi. Deidara made his introduction by defeating Gaara, and then lost to Sasuke, who in turn got hammered by Killer Bee and the Five Kages (including Gaara). Probably the best example is when Pain worfed the entire Leaf Village!
Before Pain worfed the entire Leaf Village, he got the good of a double-layer worfing. He was said to have worfed Hanzo the Salamander, whose only real feat at the time was the worfing of Orochimaru, Tsunade, and Jiraiya in their prime.
One interesting case is Naruto's defeat of the Third Raikage. In this case, his victory was used not to show how powerful he had become, as his best attacks still failed to work, but how much he had progressed tactically.
Curiously, it happens to Madara Uchiha after becoming the host to the Ten Tailed Beast. While at first shown to be an Invincible Villain, Guy managed to almost kill him using the Eighth Gate, was clearly losing against Naruto and Sasuke's latest Shonen Upgrade and then he is easily defeated by the real Big Bad.
Happens to Asuka Langley Sohryu quite often in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Throughout the series, her achievements as a human and a pilot are often noted, however, she is never once shown defeating an opponent by herself. By the end of the series, she is Mind Raped by an Angel, and subsequently becomes so bad at piloting she suffers a nervous breakdown. In End of Evangelion, she finally manages to get her act together against the Mass Production EVAs only to get speared through the eye shortly before suffering one of the most Cruel And Unusual Deaths in the entire damned series.
Subverted in Rebuild of Evangelion, where Asuka makes her entrance by one shotting the new attacking Angel, just to throw this out the window and show us why she's considered an Ace Pilot to begin with. She does require help defeating the 8th Angel (Sahaquiel in this one), but teamwork between the three pilots was kind of the point of that fight, even in the original. And she can't be held accountable for being absent during the next two Angel battles. It remains to be seen how she will fare in the coming fights, but this isEvangelion we're talking about here...
Played straight with Mari during the battle against the 10th Angel (Zeruel), where she's soundly defeated in a similar fashion to Asuka in the original series, despite putting up more of a fight and even successfully activating EVA-02's Beast Mode, which only serves to reinforce how powerful the Angel is.
In the manga, Asuka also debuts by defeating an Angel by herself in what is stated to be a record time.
The Big Bad of the arc often does this to several of Luffy's crewmates before Luffy goes to fight him (Buggy did it to Zoro, Arlong did it to Zoro and Sanji, Eneru did it to Sanji, Robin, Zoro and Wiper, and Moria and Oars did it to the entire crew), typically to establish that he's too strong for anyone except Luffy to defeat (or to remove the stronger crew members i.e. Zoro and Sanji from the equation). The villains often do it to minor characters to reveal just how strong they are, sometimes offscreen (for example, Mr. 3 supposedly captured a criminal worth 42 million, and this is revealed back when Luffy's bounty was 30 million). Although, 42 million is in fact a fairly low bounty for the Grand Line; Luffy's bounty shot up to 100 million as soon as he had the chance to prove himself against an opponent stronger than what the East Blue generally offers.
The Straw Hat crew as a whole can be used for a variation of this. During the Whitebeard War following Impel Down, antagonists who had defeated the Straw Hats without question in their first encounters (Aokiji, Kizaru, and Mihawk) have their initial moves blocked almost effortlessly by Whitebeard and his officers Marco and Jozu, which quite clearly displays the weight class we're seeing for these characters. Further, Little Oars Jr. was defeated easily by the combined power of three of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, when his zombified ancestor took all nine Straw Hats and then some (although Oars was bigger and presumably much stronger than his descendant and Oars Jr. didn't have the Rubber Man powers or inability to feel pain that Oars possessed as a zombie).
Luffy's older brother Ace is also hit with this. Though he is quite strong compared to Luffy in both devil fruit and combat abilities, he's also used to show how much stronger certain characters are. In his backstory, Whitebeard easily defeated him more than a hundred times, Jimbei tied with him in a match that nearly killed both of them. Blackbeard also takes him down after a relatively short fight, and Akainu burns and eventually kills Ace.
Luffy's rival Smoker shares the same fate as Ace. While defeating Luffy and proving that he is a Worthy Opponent, he immediately gets worfed by Dragon the Revolutionary. And usually when Luffy is about to be captured by him, a character with few or no feats shows up to save him from Smoker and by this proves his strength. In Loguetown it was Dragon, in Alabasta he tied with Ace, and in Marineford Hancock easily broke his weapon. This is taken to extreme levels during Punk Hazard, where he is beaten by no less than 4 characters: Trafalgar Law, Caesar Clown, Vergo and then Doflamingo (though in Caesar's case, he was handicapped by not being inside his own body), the latter of whom would've killed him had it not been for the intervention of Aokiji.
Smoker's subordinate Tashigi is also pretty bad about this. During Punk Hazard, she is cut in half by Law, then knocked down by Vergo, and against Monet, despite dealing the final blow, she had to be saved by Zoro beforehand.
On the other side of the equation, certain villains are used to establish how strong the Straw Hats have gotten after a training arc or so. The epitome of this would have to be the New Fishman Pirates; their primary purpose may have been to personify the racial tensions between fishmen and humans, but that got overshadowed by their secondary purpose, which was to serve as fodder for the Straw Hats, so they could show off how ridiculously strong they had gotten over the course of the Time Skip. Case in point: Zoro (one of the aforementioned examples of this trope mentioned above) one-shots their captain, resident Big Bad (Wannabe) Hody Jones, underwater (where fishmen have their strength multiplied several times), proving that any one of the Monster Trio could have taken Hody down easily during the Final Battle of the arc. Hody had just taken down another pirate crew while completely restrained by chains to establish how dangerous he was, and his defeat at Zoro's hands was a prelude to how the rest of the battles during the arc would go. The rest of Hody's crew (including one hundred thousand foot soldiers, comprising of fishmen and human slaves alike) fare even worse, as Luffy knocks out half of them with his haki as the opening volley and lets the other Straw Hats have their pick of the rest.
Giants have had a problem with this trope. While the average human would have a problem dealing with them, they often serve as fodder for the stronger characters to show that size isn't that big a deal. The most imposing giant so far was Oars, who had the benefit of being a zombie immune to pain. His descendant Oars Jr. plows through some Mooks only to become a punching bag for the Warlords. Luffy's strength by Dressrosa is displayed with him one-shotting a giant. Big Mom had wanted to gain control of Elbaf's army, reputedly the strongest in the world, yet she utterly devastated them as a five-year-old.
Jack "the Drought", oddly enough, gets worfed in his favor: Soon after being established as one dangerous, unstoppable pirate, he proceeded to get trashed twice in a row, rather catastrophically at that even if he survived both times. Why in his favor? First time was his overconfidence leading him into a fight with multiple Vice-Admirals (including Garp), one Admiral, and the ex-Fleet Admiral all at once, and somehow surviving to have the bad memory, even if he was reported as dead. The second time? He tried to shoot Zunisha (an elephant big enough to carry a huge country on its back) with an entire fleet's worth of cannons, thinking that'd be enough, only for it to one-shot them all in return. Sure, he lost his fleet, but he did somehow survive being slapped with a trunk that could be an island in itself from sheer size. Instead of learning how tough the others are, we learn how stupidly overconfident, if still extremely powerful, Jack truly is.
Luffy himself finally ends up on the receiving end of this trope in the Wano Arc when he decides to face off against Kaido (one of the Four Emperors of the Sea and proclaimed to be the strongest creature in existence). At first it looks like it's going surprisingly well, as Kaido is caught off-guard and Luffy absolutely pummels him in Gear Fourth. Then, Kaido gets up without a scratch, sighs, and knocks Gear Fourth Luffy out cold in a single hit of his club. The form that utterly stomped Doflamingo is treated only as a mild annoyance at best to him.
The aforementioned Jack is shown to cower before his fellow crew member Queen despite his unwavering arrogance shown before, showing how strong Queen must be. Queen however is then taken down by Big Mom in 2 hits!
During his introductory fight against Mosquito Girl, he manages to tear her legs off and incinerate an entire city block before Mosquito Girl powers up and tears him to shreds. Only Saitama's intervention saves his life, and it's this that prompts him to become Saitama's disciple.
Armored Kabuto smashes Genos into a wall and knocks him out with one blow, and this is before he powers up.
Ash is hit by this for Gym Leaders in almost every time they get to have more than one episode to show how dangerous they can be towards him, before he beats them back for their badges. The only subversion is Wattson, who got steamrolled by Ash's Pikachu when the yellow creature was overcharged with electricity.
Dragonite in the Orange League Tournament (granted, Charizard was already weakened earlier by an Electabuzz and was still able to overall hold its own against Dragonite better than the others).
Dusclops in the last Battle Frontier battle against Brandon. (Although for that one, Charizard was winning until Ash ordered use Seismic Toss (a Fighting type move) to end it...but completely forgot that Dusclops is a Ghost-type.)
There's also the episode "Charizard's Burning Ambitions", where it gets slammed twice with a stronger Charizard's tail, then slammed face-first into the ground, then kneed in the stomach...it just goes on and on until the Charizard's caretaker makes it give up. This is arguably the whole point of the episode, as it showed Ash's Charizard it wasn't particularly strong for a Charizard. This episode caused it to undergo constant Training from Hell, turning it into the badass it is today.
Paul is used for this twice too. Wanna prove that Cynthia is untouchably strong? Watch her One Hit KO Paul's Pokémon one by one. Has Brandon been getting stronger? How about a 6-0 victory using only three Pokémon?
Ash's Torterra has fallen victim to this by losing every battle it's been in since it evolved to show just how powerful the other Pokémon is. This is mostly due to being moved aside in favor of Infernape. Bizarrely enough, the exception seems to be any battle against Team Rocket, where it's shown to have no problems.
Ash's (originally Dawn's) Buizel is another offender from that season. In its debut it easily defeats Ash's Pikachu, Dawn's Piplup and Zoey's Glameow one after another but after that it usually loses to whatever opponent it's facing and is often the first pokemon to be beaten when it appears in a gym or rival battle to show how formidable and prepared Ash's opponent is.
Not as bad as the other examples, but Ash's Bulbasaur seemed to get defeated a lot in Season 1 only for another Pokemon such as Charmander or Pikachu to defeat the opponent.
Misty's Starmie is a pretty regular victim of this. Despite being the evolved form of Staryu, Misty's Staryu has been shown winning way more battles than her Starmie. It's shown to be pretty useful when travelling through water or saving people's lives but once a battle starts...
Brock's Vulpix is a similar offender. Its introductory episode has it unleash a very impressive Fire Spin to curb stomp Team Rocket. It does it again a few episodes later, with an even shorter fight. Then it's made an example of by Jessie's new Lickitung, locked in a hopeless fight with its identical clone, used as an ineffectual delaying tactic against an illusory Teddiursa in Pokémon 3, demonstrates Skarmory's superiority over its type disadvantage, before finally getting in one last Curb-Stomp Battle against Team Rocket and subsequently Put on a Bus.
Speaking of the aforementioned Lickitung, in it's debut episode it curbstombs all of Team Rocket, gets captured with difficulty, then goes on to just as easily beat all of Misty's team simply by licking the Pokemon. It only loses because it's lick doesn't work on Psyduck and only caused it to use it hidden powers. Every appearance afterward it gets taken out just as quickly and easily as the rest of Team Rocket's Pokemon.
Iris's new Dragonite is the newest mon to join the Worf train. After proving even a 4x type advantage isn't enough to take it down, it loses to Ash's newly evolved Krookodile, the first to get knocked down when the Kami Trio came back, beaten by Drayden's Druddigon in the middle of its best attack and got laid out by Charizard when he returned to Ash's team.
Even Ash's Pikachu gets this from time to time, though usually an odd variation of it. Despite its ability to effortless defeat Team Rocket single-handedly time and time again, they will often successfully capture or even one-shot it if the plot demands that another character/Pokémon of the day prove themself. If the episode involves a featured Pokémon struggling to learn to fight better, or a trainer trying to prove that they are strong enough, expect Pikachu to get taken out of the picture very quickly. Though it's usually still up and ready to deliver the finishing blow that sends Team Rocket blasting off again.
A human example is Sanpei and his Greninja. Their debut episode had them both at their best (despite Greninja being a Frogadier) and giving pointers to Ash and Froakie. Every episode after that once Sanpei got Greninja, however, the two can't live fighting their enemies which Ash and his Froakie/Frogadier/Greninja/Ash-Greninja beat effortlessly the next second. It gets even sillier when they're the only two people who lost in a ninja war and neither side ended up losing big time.
Unfortunately, Ash and his Greninja were unable to avoid experiencing this trope either when facing Alain's Charizard/Mega Charizard X in the Kalos League Finals. Not only did Greninja's super-charged Water Shuriken inexplicably have barely any effect on the Charizard (who is part Fire-Type, mind you), but Greninja went down with a single Blast Burn attack from the Charizard.
Unless it's against a wild Pokemon or someone generic, Red's Poli tends to get knocked out the moment it pops out of its Pokeball. Especially kind of sad seeing how it's his first Pokemon (which he had for years before getting any other) and logically should be the strongest. No wonder Red uses Saur and Pika more often.
Also happens to Red twice. First defeated by the Elite Four to the point everybody wonders if he died in the process and later when Deoxys defeats his entire team.
Out of the Five-Man Band of the Kalos region, headstrong and physically-capable Y tends to be knocked around the most. Justified as it is stated that she's stronger than Tierno, Trevor, and Shauna while X isn't likely to get into the fray unless he's being directly targeted, meaning that by default she will be the first to jump in.
The Prince of Tennis: Team Fudoumine. The first rival team introduced, they were given an angsty backstory and were supposed to be serious competition. They wound up being this trope instead (first against Rikkaidai, then against Shittenhouji).
Ranma ½: Ranma, Ryouga, and Mousse get hit with this in the Pantyhose Taro and Musk Dynasty arcs.
In the first scenario, the aforementioned villain is looking for a specific visitor to the Jusenkyo cursed springs, and therefore ends up crossing paths with them and defeating them handily. Ryouga even goes as far as calling him a "demon" when warning Ranma about him. Justified, given that Taro turns into a giant, flying minotaur when splashed with water, while that same water turns Ryouga and Mousse into small animals, and Taro has no qualms about exploiting the hell out of this.
In the second one, Mousse is quickly dispatched by a warrior with a penchant for throwing knives, and Ryouga is turned into scenery by another warrior with strength even greater than his. Then Ranma himself is defeated by those warriors' lord, a Gender Benderki master.
Kuyou is on the giving and receiving end of this. In his first appearance, he curb-stomps Inner Moka and nearly kills Tsukune, forcing Moka to give the latter a Superhuman Transfusion to save his life, which also gives Tsukune just enough power to beat Kuyou down. When he returns during the Fairy Tale arc, he's averted Villain Forgot to Level Grind and gotten even stronger... but his only real purpose at this point is to show the readers how many levels in badass Tsukune has taken by kicking his ass.
During Season I, Inner Moka always managed to defeat the Monster of the Week with ease, with a few exceptions; for example, she only managed to beat Gin because the full moon, which was Gin's power source, ended up being covered by clouds, and she was nearly killed by Kuyou. Come Season II, she gets hit by this more and more starting with Kahlua, whom Inner Moka openly admitted she didn't stand a chance against.
The first sign of just how powerful Alucard is? Akua's Jigen-Tou technique barely slows him down.
Sanosuke Sagara was the first enemy to pose any sort of threat to Kenshin. He was superhumanly strong, almost invulnerable physically and wielded a BFS that would have made Cloud pull a muscle. His skills were so impressive he was worthy of becoming a regular cast member. Unfortunately for Sanosuke he had to take second string to the title character. In a short time it became a running theme that before an enemy could be considered a match for the Battousai, they first had to curb stomp Sanosuke. By the end of the series the people Kenshin goes toe to toe with laugh in Sanosuke's face and for shear amusement smack him around in unarmed combat (which is supposed to be Sanosuke's specialty).
Probably the best example of this would be the introduction of Shinomori Aoshi in the anime, who knocked out Sanosuke down with one hit when Kenshin gave Sanosuke a beatdown which included a Ryu Tsui Sen, arguably Kenshin's strongest attack at the time.
This doesn't happen so much in the manga, where the only ones to brush Sanosuke aside are Jin-E, Shishio, and Saito, the last of which inspires him to undergo Training from Hell to catch up. By the end, Kenshin notes that Sanosuke has become so strong that he doesn't have to keep an eye on him in battle.
During one of the final arcs in the manga Sanosuke is getting his ass handed to him while Kenshin does nothing but observe, a character tells Kenshin that he's truly heartless if he can watch his friend getting killed and not help him, to which Yahiko answers that, if it was anyone else (even someone Kenshin didn't knew) he would go help him without second though, but Sanosuke was the only one strong enough to not need Kenshin's help and because of that he was the only one suited to fight side-by-side with Kenshin.
In her early appearances, much is made of Sailor Jupiter's great strength and fighting prowess. Thereafter, naturally, her primary role in the series sometimes seems to be to take a beatdown from anyone the story wants to sell as being powerful and intimidating. The '90s anime adaptation mitigates it somewhat by giving her, like the other major characters, occasional focus episodes and depicting her as one of the very few senshi to more than once take down the Monster of the Week herself without requiring a finishing blow from Sailor Moon, but that doesn't mean she's not frequently knocked around by enemies and allies alike.
All four Guardian Senshi end up falling into this role in later arcs of the manga and especially in Sailor Moon Crystal. In the third season of the latter, their attacks stop having a visible effect even on monsters-of-the-week after the second episode, after which their role in the story is mostly to be outmatched by the enemy and require Sailor Moon or Sailors Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto to save the day.
Taurus Aldebaran devolved into this after his first fight, serving only to establish that the new antagonists could defeat a Gold Saint and were thus worthy of their place on the Algorithm. He ended up being killed offscreen in the last arc of the manga. At least he got a Tear Jerker and a delayed-effect Moment of Awesome out of it.
Even more ignominious: Shiryu's Dragon Shield, one of the strongest ever due to being submerged for millennia at the bottom of the holy Rozan waterfalls, is usually the first thing that cracks, splits, or outright shatters when he faces a new class of enemy.
Saki: The Kazekoshi team, which is the school to go to for Mahjong that boasts a massive lineup and a history of championships that was only broken last year by the Mahjong Demon called Koromo. They started the Finals with a massive lead over the opposition after Mihoko crushed everyone else in the first match without losing her gentle smile... then spent the rest of the finals bleeding away said lead as they proceeded to be every other school's punching bag, to the point where their representative in the last match spent most of her time there watching in horror as she gets stomped into the ground by everyone else. You know things are bad when their biggest moral victory during that period was that they managed to hold their lead against a complete beginner.
Samurai Champloo: Despite (or because of) his badass status, Mugen is hit with this trope. He nearly lost to Oniwakamaru (though he was drugged before hand), lost to the monk Shoryuu once, was defeated and nearly killed by spear specialist Sara and was unable to land a single blow on Big Bad Kariya.
Takumi Aldini. His first appearance showcases himself as Soma's equal in resourcefulness and experience. His loss against Subaru foreshadows the amount of planning Soma would need to overcome him.
Terunori Kuga, eighth seat of the Elite Ten. Backstory-wise, we see how big of a threat Tsukasa (first seat) is by the fact that he defeats Kuga 5-0 in a Shokugeki. Although Souma manages to outsell Kuga on the second-to-last day of the Moon Banquet festival, it was only through the intervention of his friends at the last minute.
Tenchi Muyo!: In the manga, Ryoko's usually hit with this stick, though it's not uncommon to see Tsunami on the sidelines. For Ryoko, she's usually taken out during the first half of a major storyline but comes back weakened enough that she can't solve any of the problems on her own. For Tsunami, it's usually something that would put Sasami in danger.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Viral is said to be the commander of one of the units of the "Human Eradication Forces." In the manga, he was the one who wiped out the Black Siblings' home town. However, he almost always loses against Simon, Kamina, or the pilots of the Gurren that day. Once his HeelFace Turn happens, he gets better.
In the Century Soup arc Toriko had a tough fight with Tommyrod. Even though he managed to cut off his hand and punch several holes through his body, Toriko ended up collapsing from his injuries, cold and exhaustion, unable to fight. However, when Tommyrod was right about to finish him off, Teppei showed up... and defeated him in a minute. Justified, since Tommyrod already was in really bad shape.
The same thing happened with a Blue Nitro - even though, they are insanely powerful, they usually get one-shotted.
Toriko was once worfed by an environment - the first time, when he stepped foot in the Gourmet World, he was nearly killed by pretty much ewerything, even though he already survived several icredibly tough environmebts in the Human World.
Speaking of the environments, several of the harshest environments in the Human World, in which Toriko strived to survive in previous arcs, were completely demolished by the Four Beasts, simply to show just how powerful they are.
In the battle between Toriko and horse king Heracles, the horse king simply snorted at him, creating a giant crater and destroying nearly a third of Toriko's body. Later Toriko (regenerated with the help of cure water) unleashes his secondinner demon, which can withstand Heracles' snorts and deal damage to him. So Heracles inhaled, taking away all the air in the vicinity and instantly defeating Toriko.
The irst encounter with monkey king Bambina turned out even worse - he defeated three of the Four Heavenly Kings, during the time that took the fourth one to blink. And he wasn't attacking them - he just tried to dance, and nearly killed them by accident.
Don Slime was created simply to be worfed - he was insanely powerful, was able to transform into pretty much anything, and claimed to be previous king of the universe. However, all his devastating attacks barely did anything to Neo demon and he end up defeated and eaten alive.
In fact, almost everyone, who face Neo demon suffer from it to some degree.
Ultimate Muscle is another one of those series where every good guy except the main character seems doomed to lose every fight they get in. Dik Dik van Dik and Wally Tusket get a lot of Lampshade Hanging about their repetitive losses, but there's also Jaeger, whose ability is lauded far and wide... and who loses every single match he gets into. (Well, OK, he wins one, but that was where he was fighting on a team.)
Yakitate!! Japan: Kai Suwabara only seems to win Cooking Duels by default. Both times he went up against Azuma, he lost without even having his bread tasted.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Manjoume gets the Worf treatment quite a bit—he's lost to Daichi, Amnael, Saiou, and Amon. All four of them beat Manjoume in their first shown duels, and with the exception of Amon none of them had a particularly hard time doing it. He also tends to duel Judai whenever Judai gets a new deck. His only wins before Season 2 were against Mooks, his brother (who isn't a duelist), and a Monster of the Week. He got more victories in Season 2 after his FaceHeel Turn, including against Daichi and Asuka, and he's the one who dueled and defeated the entire Obelisk Blue dorm. Still, said FaceHeel Turn was caused by, you guessed it, the Big Bad defeating him in a duel. Along with that, Daichi let Manjoume win the duel after Manjoume's FaceHeel Turn so that he could work under Saiou as well. Season 4 finally gives Manjoume a significant victory on his own when he defeats Edo.
Averted in the manga. Out of a dozen shown duels or so, Manjoume only loses two of them, one of which is against Judai and the other of which is against Ryo. The other duels we see him fight, he wins. However, he's still essentially undergoing the Worf effect on Ryo, as we haven't seen Ryo duel yet and he handily crushes Manjoume without taking a single point of damage. This is immediately after Manjoume's victory over Judai to boot.
You could probably say that both Judai himself and Ryo got this from Edo. (Judai did win his first duel against Edo, but even Judai was smart enough to realize that Edo had let him win. It was certainly the case in Edo's duel against Ryo; the only duel Ryo had previously lost was one where his opponent cheated.)
Edo himself suffers from this a lot actually. After beating his step father [DD] and winning Bloo-D, he never gets a significant win for the rest of the show. He loses to Light possessed Saiou to show how dangerous the Saiou's powers under the Light of Ruin are. His only fully shown duel in season 3 is to Amon to show how dangerous Amon's new Exodia deck is. And his only duel in season 4 is against Manjoume who he loses to as well.
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Kaiba fulfills this role, especially when he's in an Enemy Mine situation. He gets worfed by Pegasus in order to demonstrate how powerful his Mind Scan is, he gets worfed by Noah (though Noah cheated) to set up his duel with Yami, he's defeated by Dartz in his 2-on-1 duel with Yami, and in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions he gets defeated by the powered up Aigami on his 2-on-1 duel with Yugi.
Speaking of Kaiba, his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon—established to be one of the most powerful dragons in the game, which even Yugi failed to take down—falls prey to this when Obelisk the Tormentor is introduced.
Also, in any series, when a character manages to pull off an impressive or game-winning combo on their first turn, you can count on them losing in the next turn. A good example is when Haga and Ryuzaki Duel Siegfried. They both Summon their most powerful cards, Insect Queen and Black Tyranno... and then Siegfried defeats both of them by playing Walkuren Ritt. Similarly, one-off character Dr. Collector Summons five powerful Spellcasters and sets up a devastating mix of lock-and-burn that would make him invincible... unless his opponent, DD, played Destiny Hero Bloo-D, which he did.
GX second-season Big Bad Sartorius duels Prince Ojin, a One Turn Kill specialist. Using a few cards activated directly from his hand (they're never even played to the field), Sartorius forces Ojin to OTK himself. Sartorius never even takes his turn; technically, he won in zero turns.
Toward the end of 5D's, The Dragon, Aporia, having made a HeelFace Turn after being inspired by the heroes, challenges his ex-boss, Well-Intentioned Extremist Z-one. Aporia is confident he can win, with the stakes being that Z-one calls off his scheme if he does, as he's seen what he believes to be his master's entire deck. Except Z-one thought he'd try something like this and deliberately avoided showing all his deck to his henchmen. The result? Aporia is fatally wounded and Z-one's Life Points are untouched. The pivotal moment of the fight is when Z-One's Timelord Metaion leaves due to its effect, and Aporia thinks he's won, because that was Z-One's big boss... but then Z-One reveals that he has ten main Timelords, and Metaion wasn't even a particularly strong one. He then summons a second, and promptly undoes Aporia's entire strategy.
Monster cards themselves are not immune to this either: when a duel is intended to show off a particular new card, an older and already established ace card will generally fail to do the job first, or be overpowered by an opponent's card effect. This does not exclude the ace monsters Dark Magician, Elemental Hero Flame Wingman/ Neos, Junk Warrior/Stardust Dragon, Number 39, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, and Decode Talker/Firewall Dragon.
Yu Yu Hakusho does this with Kuwabara, who lost most of his battles in the Tournament Arc to show how terrible the next team was. Averted against Team Masho, where he beat their captain, and Team Toguro, where he beat Elder Toguro.