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Baron von Helsingard: I see not only through the senses built into my own armor, but those of my every soldier.Atomic Robo: You know what I've always liked about you, Helsie? You keep telling me how to beat you!
—Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne
It's no surprise that villains love to gloat, but this gloating isn't necessarily limited to villains, or even explaining secret plans -- sometimes a character (usually one with special powers) will take a time-out during combat to explain for their opponent's (and the audience's) benefit exactly how their powers work, even if leaving said abilities a mystery would give them a strategic or tactical advantage in the fight.
Sometimes this Exposition Bomb is because the character is confident that their opponent doesn't actually pose a threat, so they can afford to spend time chatting about what they're going to do next. Sometimes it's a way to psych out the enemy, letting then know how utterly screwed they are. Or maybe they don't realize they're being Genre Blind (or they do, but don't care).
In less serious examples, the explanation may extend from merely how their powers work to exactly what can counteract and defeat them.
This is sometimes related to Viewers are Morons, and can also be used as an Exposition for a character the viewer has never seen before. It is very commonly found in Shonen titles, where it is not uncommon for the character to explain their powers repeatedly, even after it's been established how those powers work.
Also a subtrope of Inaction Sequence, with the extra bonus that the character is making a glaring mistake. Additionally, a close cousin to Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me, but the person explaining their powers is doing it to the absolute LAST person they should be.
Anime & Manga
- In Rave Master, this happens quite a bit in the manga, mostly when new moves are introduced to the audience. Possibly deconstructed during the fight with Doryu when Ruby, explaining to our heroes how innate magical alignments work, accidentally reveals the alignments of the heroes to the bad guy. His saving grace was that he changed their alignment to Dark earlier, making the information useless.
- In Berserk, Guts is fighting a regenerating demon whose wounds heal as fast as they're inflicted. The demon taunts him by saying that it can regenerate endlessly as long as its head is intact. Guts chops the demon's head in half and thanks it for telling him.
- Bleach. A manga that models its fights on old-fashioned fighting styles where the verbal warfare in a fight was even more important than the physical aspect absolutely revels in this trope as characters vie for a balance between cowing an opponent with the mere thought of confronting the power they possess and revealing so much the game is up before it's even started. Sometimes, character fail spectacularly to get the balance right. At other times, they make this trope look good.
- First, because most of the series revolves around this, is Aizen. His power is unbreakable, near absolute hypnosis and sense control that can be used against anyone who has seen him release his sword. Everyone in the series has seen his release except for the humans (only Ichigo and Orihime matter anyway). He even did lie about his ability to reach that point, saying its power was to cause enemies to attack each other, by using water and fog, or some crap. All of this could be faked by his actual ability. Before he made his Villain Exit Stage Left, he told his enemies his ability. He had no intention of killing them, and was pretty much just gloating.
- Hirako Shinji, whose powers reverse his opponents' senses and movements (left=right, up=down, and all that), explains exactly how he does so, though he later revealed that he was leaving some vital information out in an attempt to throw his opponent off the track. It doesn't work.
- It's even worse than that. Shinji basically said that not even Aizen could possibly invert his whole visual-spacial perception on the fly. It's borderline hilarious when Aizen does just that with almost no effort.
- Gin tries the same thing -- explain one aspect of the powers, but neglect to mention another aspect so it'll catch the opponent completely by surprise. It fails even more completely, as his opponent almost immediately realizes that Gin was leaving something out, and then almost immediately figures out what that was.
- Although later, it's revealed that he was actually keeping another ability secret... for use against Aizen. Of course, we all know how this is going to go...
- Gin didn't keep an ability secret, he flat out lied about what his Zanpakutou's ability is. In fact, this worked as perfectly as he planned it to, and even Aizen, who was on the receiving end of Gin's savvy, thought the attack was going to kill him. It didn't, because Hogyoku's got more power than either of them thought.
- When Stark wonders how Ukitake seems to fire a cero at him he's told to work it out for himself. Neither Stark or Kyoraku bother - at that stage - to explicitly state what their skills are, only to make observations and assumptions about each other. Naturally, some of this backfires on both parties.
- All Kyoraku tells Starrk is how to play the colour games. May be because he is bound by the 'rules' to let Starrk have his turn, and also perhaps because he was trying to give Starrk a chance without actually giving him too much of an advantage. Afterall, it's very clear he intends to kill the Espada from the word go, he just doesn't necessarily want to.
- Something that's noteworthy is the fact that Ukitake and Kyoraku are two of the oldest captains in the series. The implication seems to be that this trope is something you only do when you're young and stupid.
- Zommari spends all of his fight with Byakuya explaining how his powers work. In very long-winded speeches. This is lampshaded by Byakuya himself: "You should be ashamed. Before my eyes, without wasting any time, you revealed your entire hand to me". What a pity Zommari didn't pay attention - but then again, he was also supposed to represent the curse of intoxication, and he was intoxicated by both Aizen and his own power.
- Every time Izuru Kira fights an enemy, he feels the need to explain Wabisuke's ability to double the weight of his target every time he hits. Every single time. Not that he gets many fights to begin with...
- Kira usually doesn't explain it until he's already affected them. However, the only canon fights he's used this sword on were against Rangiku, who was immune once she released her own sword, and Avirama Redder, who was designed to be susceptible as he was a bird who attacked and defended with his wings.
- Averted with Yumichika as well. Yumichika never even introduces his name to anyone he fights, let alone his real power. He once admitted he had a kido-based secret before unleashing his power but didn't describe the power itself. The second time he used it, he didn't offer any explanation at all until his flowers were already budding and by then, there was only just enough time for him to explain his power before his opponent died.
- Soi Fon always explains that her weapon kills in two strikes. Lampshaded when Ggio Vega dodges her attacks and calls her a fool for warning him. It turned out to be an example of psyching the enemy as she was only testing him to see what an arrancar's power was like. Once she'd seen enough she promptly revealed she'd hidden certain aspects of her shikai, such as the requirement for two hits not being limited to striking the same place outside the body as long the two stabs were able to cross each other inside the body, creating a two-hit strike internally instead of externally.
- Ulquiorra gets a prize for explaining his Regeneration, a basic skill in anime, and none of the other, more important abilites. And he explains regeneration to a monster that possibly doesn't even know what he's saying! This stands out simply because he choses to explain how he can recover eyes and limbs, and yet he never explains how he gained his second form, if his lances are unstable, and how he hid this form for X amount of years.
- In Darker Than Black, Hei encounters a contractor who uses his own blood as a medium to destroy his opponents. Despite this contractor having every reason to suspect that Hei is also a very dangerous contractor, he quickly explains how his powers work before getting into a fight.
- Though this particular character is a Psycho for Hire who loves fighting for fighting's sake, and as such might have explained as a combination Badass Boast and way to make the battle more entertaining. Still seriously Underestimating Badassery, though.
- Inverted with most other Contractors: They don't explain their powers, but they do explain their renumerations. Oddly, Contractors are surprisingly compassionate regarding each other's renumerations, so this is usually a good idea. Telling your captors you need a cigarette nets you a cigarette.
- This is usually a case of Pragmatic Villainy, however, as contractors who don't get their renumeration suffer Power Incontinence and become dangerous to everyone (and The Masquerade) very quickly. Contractors who really have it in for each other have no shame in exploiting the other's renumeration to catch them off-guard.
- Gohan has proven that Cell is no match for him in Dragonball Z. After a bit of a beat down, Cell decides it is best to cut his losses and self-destruct himself and take the planet with him. The process takes about 60 seconds, in which time Cell explains exactly what he is doing and helpfully adds that attacking him will make him explode faster. This gives Goku enough time to figure out what to do with Cell and even say a few goodbyes before teleporting Cell and himself off planet.
- The fourth episode of Katanagatari was basically one long string of this, with four characters involved in the fight.
- Though in Nanami's case, it's justified in that she's basically invulnerable and has absolutely nothing to lose by taunting her opponents with her powers. Also, she's a Death Seeker on top of that, though those opponents aren't even remotely capable of killing her.
- Naruto has some of this as well (such as Sakon and Ukon explaining their powers to Kiba) as well as some subversions (like Kakashi lying to Zabuza about how the Sharingan works).
- Averted during the battle between Rock Lee and Gaara. Naruto, who eventually goes on to fight Gaara, asks Gaara's teammate Kankuro if Gaara's armor has any weaknesses. Kankuro refuses to admit that it does, but thinks to himself that as it takes a considerable amount of chakra and weighs Gaara down, Gaara must be desperate if he has resorted to using it.
- Most of Akatsuki averts this, too, and most of the time it becomes a plot point where the good guys have to figure out what their powers are and how to beat them. It's usually played straight after the good guys have guessed the villains powers right, after which the villain commonly has an exposition including the details they left out, though.
- Pain, in particular, didn't say a goddamn thing about how his powers worked and Konoha had to figure it all out on their own. Tobi, as much as he likes to talk about his plans, has also been pretty mum on how exactly his powers work.
- An intersting variation occured in the Sasuke vs. Danzo battle, where Sasuke, after a few minutes of fighting, had an exposition about the weaknessess of Danzo's technique, the reality warping Izanagi. Danzo replies with "So you figured it out", to which Sasuke, in turn, responds that, yes, now that Danzo has confirmed that Sasuke's guess was correct, he HAS figured it out.
- Kabuto, however, explained the Impure World Resurrection technique in detail to Tobi. Of course, Kabuto's generally pretty Genre Savvy, so his explanation might be wildly inaccurate; at the very least he almost certainly left out a few critical details. Kabuto didn't really volunteer the information, Tobi threatened not to meet his end of the bargain if he refused to tell him how the technique worked.
- Justified when some of the reanimated ninja, their personalities still active, describe their abilities to their enemies, as they want their enemies to win. Unfortunately, due to a combination of being unable to control their actions and being too awesome, it doesn't quite work.
- One Piece characters will either have this, a sideline character, or a handy-dandy side panel to explain new Devil's Fruit abilities.
- Even parodied in-series with Kalifa and Nami. Kalifa brags that she is keeping her Devil Fruit name a secret... only for Nami to guess it right away. Played straight later in the battle (and very necessarily, because that was one weird power): to wash away others' powers, curve, and distinguishing features such as fingers for holding weapons.
- One minor Baroque Works member tries to explain her "Kilo Kilo" weight-altering ability and how she uses it in combat, but no one pays her any attention.
- The 'handy-dandy side panel' sees heavy use in Impel Down, which sees characters that hadn't been seen for a long time return, to provide quick refreshers on their powers.
- When Luffy fights Blueno for the third time, Blueno is all too eager to explain his Devil Fruit powers.
- One Piece is also a less egregious example than most, as Devil Fruit powers provide one-of-a-kind and/or incredibly unusual powers, and it's unlikely than a person will know about any given fruit's powers without either having it themselves or knowing of the person who does already. Basically, it's pretty unlikely that an opponent of one of the characters who pull this trope can figure out in a couple seconds all of the applications of their power that the character spent years working out. The only time this didn't pan out so well was when Sanji, who researched an invisibility-granting fruit extensively in hopes of gaining it's power to use for perverted reasons someday, had to fight Absalom, who got it (for the same reasons) first.
- Luffy and Chopper will sometimes ask the enemy to explain their powers, and the enemy will oblige.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pegasus explains the abilities of his "Millennium Eye" to Yugi, including the ability to read minds. This gives Yugi the chance to come up with a counter stratagem.
- Let's just say this series uses this trope all the time when it comes to card effects and stop there.
- This is actually a reversal from the real card game, in which you must allow your opponent to look at your in-play cards if they ask to do so, and you cannot prevent your opponent from looking in your graveyard either should they ask. Cards in your hand, deck, and face down are exceptions to this, however. A number of the villains' gambits count on the hero not knowing how the cards work.
- This actually turned out to be rather helpful in the dub version, as instead of re-editing each scene involving cards to change the Japanese words into whatever language it's being dubbed in, the editors simply erased everything on the card and have the characters themselves explain what it does. While it does provoke some Fridge Logic, it does make some of the character's surprises more genuine (since they literally do not know what cards outside of their deck do).
- Let's just say this series uses this trope all the time when it comes to card effects and stop there.
- Yu Yu Hakusho. In the anime, Yusuke is forced to fight someone in complete darkness. His opponent has a helmet-type device that allows him to perceive and alter the flow of energy around and inside him, letting him A) see in the dark (which Yusuke has no way of doing) and B) strengthening parts of his body temporarily. He explains all of this during the fight. The viewer is left screaming at the television for the opponent to just beat the shit out of Yusuke, which he can do with impunity thanks to the Night Vision Helmet.
- Subverted in the Chapter Black arc when Yusuke keeps insisting that, had he known of Kido's powers, he could have taken him out easily. Genkai berates him for this, telling him that not all of his enemies will be stupid enough to hand over valuable information like that.
- Jojo's Bizarre Adventure not only averts this, but also gleefully hangs a lampshade on it; figuring out what an enemy Stand does is a big part of winning battles. Figuring out the effects of Dio's Stand was the primary concern of the heroes in Part 3, with Kakyoin performing a Heroic Sacrifice to relay the information to the others.
- During the early fight between Abdul and Polnareff (when he was still brainwashed and working for Dio) they both explained their Stands' capabilities and even showed off a bit (For instance, piercing a number of coins and flames on Silver Chariot's sword). Done mostly to establish Polnareff as an honorable fighter. Abdul is just well-mannered. A similar situation occurs with Part 7's Ringo Roadagain, who wants to ensure that each side knows of as many aspects of the duel as possible for the sake of making the fight fair.
- Part 3's Steely Dan, meanwhile, very quickly lets the heroes know what Lovers does. Reason: It's the perfect deterrent, especially since Jotaro, already disgusted with Dan killing off Enya, his own ally, had managed to give a sneak preview when he punched Dan--and in the process hurt Joseph. He still leaves out Lovers's ability to create decoys out of dead tissue.
- The Law of Ueki loves this, either by Calling Your Attacks or just by plain showoff. But that's only for very powerful or very minor enemies. Figuring everybody else's powers and limitations often becomes a minor plot point. It certainly helps that Ueki is very good at figuring out their opponents' powers, and that equals victory.
- In Hunter X Hunter, people can make techniques with self-imposed restrictions on them; the more harsh the restriction, the more powerful the technique can be. The Mad Bomber (Gethru) in the Greed Island arc of Hunter X Hunter, possibly being Genre Savvy, made his restriction be that he'd have to explain how his ability worked before using it.
- His explanation had to include that he had to tell his opponent the explanation for the technique to work, which he did at the very end of his speech. A brilliant case of Lampshade Hanging, since at first it looked like a major mistake, as the information was even more useful to defend against the technique than usual.
- This series generally averts it: Unless they're just allies sparring (and even in those cases sometimes), characters will try their hardest not to explain their powers, including purposely using them in misleading ways or using only a narrow selection of their moves. Knowledge of someone else's powers is a frequent key to winning battles and can be used as bargaining tools outside of combat.
- In Shaman King the X-Laws go to great lengths, sacrificing many of their number, to figure out what medium Hao is using to channel the Great Spirit of Fire so that they can destroy it. When Hao realises what they're after he says they could have just asked - he's using the oxygen in the air around him (since "a fire needs air to burn"). At which point the Crazy Prepared X-Laws trap him in a barrier and detonate a grenade to use up all the oxygen in the enclosed space, suffocating the Spirit of Fire. It doesn't work, as the Spirit of Fire changes into Water.
- Played with in NEEDLESS villains who do this usually get their asses kicked in a hurry. It actually takes the heroes quite a while to figure out how Saten's power works, even to the point where Blade can't use it after he memorizes it. On the other hand, Uten outright lies about his powers but is still defeated in the span of an episode.
- Powers are generally only explained in Mahou Sensei Negima after they have successfully kicked the opponent's ass, or by spectators. It was also once turned on its head when Negi's opponent Jack Rakan takes time out to explain the exact mechanics of Negi's new lightning form. Negi, of course, already knew all of this; Rakan was just showing off his analysis skills. He also mentions that because he's explained how it works on national TV, plenty of potential opponents also know how to counter it now.
- Rosario + Vampire has just about every big bad of the week explain their own powers. This also applies to most of the protagonists.
- During the Finals in G Gundam, each member of the Shuffle Alliance demonstrates his newly-developed Finishing Move to The Hero Domon before their official match, which lets him figure out how to counter them, including his developing three new attacks expressly intended to counter those moves. In this case, the Alliance is the Five-Man Band and Fire-Forged Friends (and Domon's their leader), so to them giving him a fair chance is the right thing to do even if it means they lose. It also helps that being defeated by Domon doesn't eliminate them from the tournament.
- Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star is quite prone to this, though unlike his successors, he'll usually wait until after he's hit them with whatever technique he's used to explain to them what the technique will do to them, as they are already dead at this point.
- As the page quote indicates, Atomic Robo's nemesis Lord Helsingard has a tendency to do this. In the first issue, Robo meets Baron von Helsingard right after Helsingard uses the Vril Organ to become an Energy Being. After effortlessly regenerating an arm, Helsingard brags while pointing to the organ implanted in his chest. As Robo puts it, he should change his name to "Baron von Blabs About His Only Weakness." (Notably, though, the scene with the page quote wasn't entirely a straight example... Helsingard gave Robo just enough information to goad Robo into a trap.)
- Here's an example that's not about powers, but still fits the trope. In the Dick Tracy story "Crewy Lou", crime boss "The King" hides records of his activities in a watertight compartment under a filled water tank. Tracy susses this out when he finds photographs of the King standing by his tank with the water drained out. Now, why exactly did he take those photos?
- So you have a cosmic gadget that has a singular Weaksauce Weakness. Okay, no big deal, just avoid those situations. Oh crap, something's come up that just happens to match... Okay so since you're going to have to think something up anyway, at least make that you're just improvising, not that - Oh no! My ring is useless against the color yellow! Hal, you idiot... Although it's not like the rest of the Corps are any better, you'd think that as a group of "interstellar super cops" they wouldn't go around telling everyone what color to paint their bullets.
- Justice Society of America member Hourman does this with his very name. His power comes a Super Serum that gives him Super Strength and Speed for a limited amount of time. Guess how long that time limit is?
- Superboy (Kon-El version) was originally very prone to explaining how his tactile telekinesis worked. Unusually for this trope, this didn't cause him many defeats, but it did cause his Young Justice teammates to make fun of him a lot.
- Empowered told Thugboy how her suit works (NOT!) when they met first.
- In X2, Pyro explains how his powers work to Magneto. That's right, tell the guy who controls magnetism that you're useless without your metal lighter. Of course, he does switch sides later on, but it still is pretty stupid to tell anyone how your powers work.
Live Action TV
- Angel series finale:
Hamilton: Let me say this as clearly as I can. You cannot beat me. I am a part of them. The Wolf, Ram, and Hart. Their strength flows through my veins. My blood is filled with their ancient power.
Angel: Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn't have said?
(he vamps out and bites Hamilton, draining his blood)
Angel: Wow. You really are full of it!
Myths & Religion
- The story of Samson and Delilah from The Bible. Samson has Super Strength because of his hair; but Delilah is a really hot Philistine chick. She asks him what his weakness is. He lies to her and she immediately tells her family who try this on him and it doesn't work. Then she pouts and tells him that she's upset he lied, and he lies again. She again tells her family who tries this and it doesn't work. She makes doe-eyes at him a third time and this time he tells her the truth and she tells her family and they weaken him and capture him. Samson wasn't very bright....
- His hair isn't actually the source of his power (as any Bible scholar can explain) but because he'd broken every other rule God gave him. It has more to do with the fact that Samson finally crossed the line by breaking his vows as a Nazarite (seen here) that God revoked his strength.
- When Baldr's mother, Frigg had everything except mistletoe promise not to hurt him. Then, she told Loki (in disguise) about this weakness. After this, Loki had the blind god Hoor throw a mistletoe arrow at Baldr, killing him.
- In the platform game Kao The Kangaroo 2, an octopus boss begins battle by describing the exact method in which to defeat her, step by step, and only at the end realizes "How stupid of me - why am I telling you that?"
- In Portal 2, the Final Boss goes on an extensive rant near the beginning of the fight explaining precisely how he will not repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor, along with his new brilliant plan to defeat you. When you Wronski Feint him into breaking the tube of Conversion Gel, negating one of his advantages, he proceeds to explain how he tricked you into thinking that that was part of his plan, and then Lampshades this trope by noting that he just made a mistake by telling you part of his plan. He proceeds to verbally backpedal several more times, tying himself in knots before finally giving up on the whole explanation business. There is also a subversion of the trope because his Plan has a fifth part that he doesn't tell you.
- The Heroic Spirits from Fate/stay night (except Berserker) are all responsible for doing this in one way or another and posture about their powers or how they know what the enemy's powers are (even Archer is guilty of this), but Gilgamesh really takes the cake. He freely explains his name, origins, his powers and his magic weapons to his enemies, because from his point of view it doesn't matter since they're all boned anyway.
- Axe Cop attempts to kill Evilfatsozon using psydrozon (a sword wielding robot). It fails, and Evilfatsozon explains he built psydrozon. Evilfatsozon begins to explain his weakness , "A uni--", but Axe Cop throws Uni-Man at Evilfatsozon, and defeats him before he can finish.
- In an episode of Tempts Fate, the sub-comic of Goblins, a very ill-advised dwarf does this, explaining in detail the nature of his curse as he's introducing himself. It doesn't take long for Tempts Fate to exploit this weakness.
Dwarf: I have spent my life mastering combat using household items! For if I were to don a single piece of armour or grasp a single weapon, my god's personal avatar would personally descend from the heavens and destroy me! Just as it is stated in my terrible curse!
Tempts Fate: Catch. (throw him a weapon)
- On The Red Panda Adventures, one of the cardinal rules of crime fighting is: Never explain your powers to the bad guys!
- Invoked and lampshaded in the episode Stop the Presses; when the Red Panda and his arch enemy The Mad Monkey, pushed into an Enemy Mine situation, discover that their respective mental powers can be combined for great effect, the hero begins monologing about the normal limits of his abilities. This prompts The Mad Monkey to ask, “Are you explaining your powers to the bad guy?”
- The Ice King from Adventure Time should probably be more careful in fights.
Ice King: FOOL! Your powers are no match for my magical crown!
(Jake knocks off his crown)
Ice King: My powers!
- In "Jake Vs. Me-Mow", Me-Mow boasts that she has injected Jake with enough poison to kill a dog fifty times his size. Which prompts Jake to use his powers to grow his liver fifty one times it's normal size, curing the poison.
- Chaotic Peyton plays it straight by explaining a key tactic mid battle and Eddy immediately uses it against him. He later subverts it, by explaining his own key tactics after the battle.
- Gutierrez, from Freakazoid, tries three items (kryptonite, the color yellow, and water) on the hero hoping each will be Freakazoid's weakness. None of them work, and when Gutierrez gets impatient and asks Freakazoid what his weakness is, prompting a cut to this:
Freakazoid: Dumb, dumb, dumb! Never tell the villain how to trap you in a cage!
Gutierrez: You probably shouldn't have helped us build it, either.
Freakazoid: I know! Dumb!
- For the record, Freakazoid's weakness is graphite bars charged with negative ions.
- And "poo gas". Then again, no one likes "poo gas".
- From time to time, the DCAU would get some of this to bring us up to speed on a character who is introduced without showing their origin. More and more as it went on, culminating in Justice League Unlimited.
- In X-Men, after taking a few hits from Gambit's exploding cards, Bishop explains his mutant ability is to absorb energy from other mutants' attacks and transform it into energy bolts, which he then uses on Gambit.
- Once an Episode in the little-known 1960s cartoon Batfink, he would tell his foes, "Your bullets can't harm me! My wings are like a shield of steel!"
- In the "Menacing Family Affair" episode of the 1981 Shazam! animated series, an alien gives Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana and his kids a jewel that gives them the same powers as Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family. While the heroes are reeling, Dr. Sivana brags about the "magic alien jewel", and from there the Marvels defeat the Sivanas in a few seconds by simply grabbing the jewel and throwing it away.