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So we all like punching people in the face, right? But the problem with that is sometimes access to your opponent's face is blocked by the back of their head. The solution: tap your target on the shoulder or otherwise get his attention, causing him to turn around, exposing his precious, punchable face. Ahh, sweet satisfaction!
This is also an exception to the "dishonor" of attacking someone from behind.
It may or may not be a knockout blow as it will just as often lead to a Fight Scene as it will to an instant knock out. It is also evenly split between being taken seriously and played straight for laughs. If the target doesn't go down, it usually leads to Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh.
Anime & Manga
- In Full Metal Panic, Sôsuke does this to the head of the Amateur Karate Club when he is busy flirting with Kaname. Not to be confused with jealousy: they were in the middle of a fight and if he won, the club would vacate the club house so it could be demolished.
- Faye from Cowboy Bebop invokes this trope successfully and captures the Teddybear Bomber as a result.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, this is how Negi introduced himself to Tosaka, upon discovering him hurting his students.
- In Dragonball Z, #16 does that to Cell. Then again with a Rocket Punch.
- Ennis in Baccano pulls a classic shoulder-tap-to-face-punch combo on one of Dallas' buddies.
- In Digimon Adventure Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon pull this on Piedmon before blasting him into the Gate of Destiny.
- Cromartie High School seems to like this trope. Of particular mention is Kamiyama's use of this against Hayashida, especially since Hayashida is probably his best friend at Cromartie, he has only ever hit someone once in his life, and that he achieves the effect with a slap (prompting a somewhat girly shriek from Hayashida).
- In the anime version of X-Men, Wolverine punches the crap out of Cyclops, which is followed by a What the Hell, Hero? rant from Wolvie.
- In Death Note when L is complaining that he's depressed and unmotivated with the Kira case now that it looks like Light isn't Kira. The following Ensues: Light gets L's attention, L turns around, Light punches him hard in the face.
- GaoGaiGar features what may be one of the most epic examples:
Comics -- Books
- Sin City: Marv to Manute, "Hey, you're the one who hurt my pal!". Cue: Curb Stomp Battle.
- Savage Dragon has tapped people on the shoulder before pummeling them more than once.
Films -- Animation
- Aladdin: King of Thieves
- Jasmine first taps the shoulder on one of the forty thieves who attacked the royal palace, and then knocks him out cold, much to the shock of the other gawking thieves.
- Al does it in the same movie to Saluk.
- Megamind pulls this on his nemesis with a Humongous Mecha. Doesn't have much effect, though.
Films -- Live-Action
- In The Dark Knight:
- Also done in 1989's Batman:
Batman: Excuse me. (Joker's eyes glance towards Batman) Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
- It's also done completely straight in Black Knight, a completely unrelated movie.
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Professor Browne gets the tap-on-shoulder version from a pair of gloves during the Substitutiary Locomotion song.
- Indiana Jones does this to SS Colonel Vogel in The Last Crusade.
Indy: Tickets, please. (beats up the SS officer and throws him out of the zeppelin, to the astonished looks of the other passengers) No ticket!
- James Bond
- In the opening scene of Diamonds Are Forever a Cairo gambler tells the dealer, "Hit me." Bond taps him on the shoulder, then obliges.
- Another funny example in Tomorrow Never Dies, where Bond sneaks up behind a Mook, lights up a cigarette for him, then punches him out, saying, "Filthy habit." Possibly a Shout-Out to the fact that Pierce Brosnan was (at the time) the first Bond actor not to smoke on screen (unless you count Die Another Day).
- And again in the same movie, except without a lighter; he merely pantomimes lighting the cigarette.
- Goldeneye: "Beg your pardon. Forgot to knock."
- In The Abyss, Catfish ends the fight between Bud and Coffey with one of these, complete with Overcrank. The fight began with Bud trying this unsuccessfully.
- In Ten Things I Hate About You, previously mellow Bianca does this to Joey, combining it with And This Is For: "That's for making my date bleed, that's for my sister, and that's for me!" Yes, yes this is a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- In My Cousin Vinny, Vinny knocks a guy flat on his back after getting tired of posturing when he sees him again.
- In V for Vendetta Evey does this to a policeman who's pointing a gun at V. Except that she doesn't punch, she uses pepper spray. And then gets knocked out by the policeman's flailing.
- In Peter Jackson's horror/comedy The Frighteners, Frank Bannister distracts the Grim Reaper from choking the life out of his Love Interest with a "Hey. Asshole." In this case, however, he "punches" it -- repeatedly -- with bullets from an ethereal machine gun.
- Mortal Kombat:
Johnny Cage: Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!
- Sirius Black does this to Lucius Malfoy in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- A variation occurs in Race with the Devil. Roger calls out to one of the cultists on the roof of the RV, causing him to stand up and get creamed by the overpass.
- Harry Dresden does this in Ghost Story to a Giant Mook near the climax. Made extra special that Harry was still dead at the time and it was the first thing he did after willing himself back into a physical body.
- Eliot does this on a plane to subdue a security employee who is tailing an accountant that has a hit on her.
- In the episode before that, he uses a similar tactic on a meth-head gangster:
Elliot: What smells like crank and screams like a little girl?
(Elliot kicks the gangster's knee out of joint; gangster Screams Like a Little Girl)
- Doctor Who
- The Brigadier does it in the episode "The Five Doctors", as the Master is holding the Doctors at gunpoint (well, technically TCE-point) but ignoring the humans. The Brig taps him on the shoulder and socks him in the jaw as he turns around, saying "Nice to see you again" as he does so.
- Colonel Mace pulls this with a gun in "The Poison Sky", shouting out to his opponent before shooting him dead:
Mace: You will face me, sir!
- In the TV remake of Flash Gordon, the title character taps a Mook on the shoulder and knocks him out when he turns his head.
- In Scrubs, Dr. Cox does this to Dr. Kelso. It was a long time coming, and Dr. Cox was in a good mood that day.
- Humourous Subversion in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 episode "Family" when Tara thinks she's part demon. Spike walks up behind her and taps her on the shoulder; when she turns around he lightly punches her in the nose, and his chip activates, revealing that Tara's pure human.
- Played with in one episode:
Mal: (in response to an insult against the Browncoats) You want to say that to my face?
Drunk: (turning to face him) I said you're a coward and a piss-pot. Now what're you going to do about it?
Mal: Nothing. I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind you.
(Zoe hits the guy from behind)
Mal: Drunks are so cute.
- Not quite a haymaker, but in 24 Jack Bauer gets a guard's attention from below with a "Hey" before capping him in the face.
- In Married... with Children, this is known as the "Bundy Special".
- Hatter from Alice is very fond of this. His particular "hey you" is a jaunty whistle before he introduces the unlucky subject of his ire to the sledgehammer that is his right hand.
- Similar to the 24 example above, Justified's Boyd Crowder whistles to attract the attention of a guard so he can shoot him in the forehead.
- Get Smart inverts this with Agent 99. By this time, she and Max are near the point of marrying each other, so Max sometimes approaches her from behind to do sweet things. Unfortunately, her spy training means she immediately responds with a turn-around haymaker. Which usually results in Max getting decked and 99 apologizing for it.
- Barney on How I Met Your Mother tries to pull one of these on Marshall's friend Brad when he follows him and Robin to a hockey game and sees them kiss. It doesn't faze Brad much so Barney immediately begins cowering and trying to talk his way out of the anticipated retaliation (which doesn't come, Brad is a chill guy).
- He also lays on on Ted in The Fight (to give him a convincing black eye that would make it look like they had actually been in the fight)
- Either played straight or averted in wrestling. For example, a cowardly heel will easily strike his enemy from behind rather than spin them around and punch them, and if they do spin them around, it'll be to do their finisher. However, faces (good guys) aren't above attacking from behind either, but a lot of faces will spin their opponent around to attack them when they can. For a comedic effect or just to look awesome, a face will wait for the opponent to turn around before destroying them.
- Randy Orton actually has a subversion (aversion?) of this: His European uppercut actually causes he and his opponent to spin away from each other. Also, a few of his RK Os are performed this way (he'll either spin them or tap them lightly. Once they turn around, it's game over.
- The Rock, John Cena, and countless other famous faces will turn their opponent around to land one massive punch on their faces. Although one hilarious example that doesn't involve the usual formula...
- One of the execution scenes with the hatchet in Manhunt.
- This is also one of Adam Jensen's non-lethal takedowns.
- Playa delivers one to Tanya after having her lead him to where Johnny Gat is being held in Saints Row.
Big-Ears: It just occurred to me that I'm not comfortable attacking someone from behind.
Orc: HISSSSSSS (spins around)
Big-Ears: Thank you. (axes it in the face)
Roy: Excuse me. I just wanted to let you you know that this in no way reflects my views on the differently-abled.
Geoff: Hu? What do you--
- Nosirrah in Supernormal Step.
Nosirrah: Excuse me.
Jim T. Black, Beater of Beasts, Manhandler of Monsters: (turns toward voice) Oh what now.
Nosirrah: (punches Jim in the face hard enough to make him spit blood) Now me.
- In the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited, Superman does this to Darkseid, literally tapping him on the shoulder to get him to turn around before clobbering him.
- Done by a disgruntled Frankie on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- In Batman the Brave And The Bold, Batman does this to a mook at the beginning of "The Fate of Equinox!" At the end, Batman does it again, to Equinox, while they're both the size of skyscrapers.
- From the Green Lantern episode of Duck Dodgers, Kilowog does this with a "Ah, 'scuse me, pardon me" to a Mecha-Mooks.
- A supremely pissed-off Kim Possible does this to Drakken in So the Drama, angry that he used Synthodrone 901 to play her.
Drakken: At last I found her weakness; Boys! Boys, boys, boys, who shall I take to the dance, who's the perfect boy?
Kim: You're right, Drakken. Boys, dating, oh, it's hard. But this is easy. (WHAM!)
- Spider-Man: The New Animated Series features our hero giving one to Electro.
- In Storm Hawks, Aerrow and Piper do this simultaneously to a pair of mooks in "Radarr Love".
- Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus to Dr. Doofenshmirtz, during the extended version of the "Gitchi Gitchi Goo" song.
- In Transformers Generation 1, Optimus is fond of doing this to Megatron.
Optimus Prime: "Hello again, Megatron!" *POW*
- "Hi mister magic guy! Meet mister FAIRY FIST!"
- Batman does it to a mook on a rooftop in the short pilot/promo that was made for Batman: The Animated Series.
- Futurama did something like this in "I second that emotion" one of bender's arms tapped a foe on the shoulder, pointed in another direction, then the other arm punched said foe in the face