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The Monster of the Week is wreaking havoc. The heroes step in and blast it with all they have, but what's this? The creature isn't hurt at all! In fact, it looks STRONGER! How could this be?
Now imbued with more power than ever, it casually swats our heroes aside and departs to cause more chaos and destruction and such. The heroes need a plan.
After confirming that it did, in fact, get stronger from being attacked, the leader's eyes light up. He has a plan. "You're going to cut off its power supply, right?"
"Nope. I'm going to give it MORE energy!"
The idea is often met with challenges and claims that the leader has lost his mind, but inevitably the team works together, dumps a ridiculous amount of juice into the monster at once, and BOOM! The day is saved. And covered in monster guts.
Whenever a case of Feed It with Fire occurs, this trope is usually not far behind. It is simply an intellectual way to overcome a foe when battering doesn't do the job, possibly to show off the heroes' intellect. The absorber may not explode, but there's often some factor that gives its increased power a serious disadvantage, such as a weak floor at its feet.
Anime & Manga
- This happens in Dragonball Z, with one frog-like giant alien monster guarding Babidi's spaceship. It can feed off light, and thus absorbs the aura of the Super-Saiyans as soon as it is created. Son Goku's choice of action? Beef up his aura until the monster absorb too much and finally explodes.
- Yu Yu Hakusho: In his fight with Byakko, Kuwabara follows this trope to the letter. Unfortunately, it's doesn't quite work.
- And, demonstrating a flaw of this trope, Kuwabara is left weakened for some time afterwards.
- In Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo, the Mechasaurus piloted by Advisor Gallery has energy absorption abilities strong enough to soak even the Getter Beam; the heroes end up using the explosions of Shin Getter-3's Missile Storm to overload it.
- Done by Lex Luthor to Superman at the beginning of All-Star Superman. Superman is usually healed and powered by sunlight, but after Luthor arranges for Supes to get closer to the sun than ever before, he takes a lethal dose that temporarily magnifies his abilities but results in his days being numbered.
- In an issue of Fantastic Four, set before they became superheroes, Earth is invaded by an alien that grows when it feeds on energy. Reed, however, notices that only the monster's volume increases, not the mass, and proceeds to zap it with so much energy that in the end it becomes too rarefied to interact with normal matter.
- In the Squadron Supreme mini-series, Doctor Spectrum does this to Lamprey.
- Hulk: This is how Hulk defeats his father. Helped along by the military dropping nukes on them.
- Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker has Breath as the source of power. More Breath means more power. Vasher invokes this trope when he's fighting someone who's clearly a better fighter than him. While giving his opponent some of his Breath isn't lethal to either of them, it does incapacitate the opponent long enough for Vasher to finish the job.
- This trope was very likely inspired by the Wawel Dragon in Krakow, Poland. The residents of Krakow were quite annoyed that a dragon was eating their sheep and asked the prince to save them. Instead of directly preventing it from eating sheep, he fed it more but covered them in a very spicy sauce. The dragon was so thirsty, it drank an entire lake and exploded.
- Older Than Dirt: In Egyptian Mythology, the bloodthirsty, lion-headed warrior goddess Sekhmet (or the goddess Hathor, Depending on the Writer) was let loose upon a sinful or rebellious population. She got out of control and the sun god Re, taking pity on the humans, showed them the way to stop her: he exploited her insatiable thirst for blood by flooding a nearby field with blood-red beer. When the crazed goddess passed by on her way to eat more people, she pounced on the lake of "blood" and drank it all. This resulted in the most severe hangover ever -- Sekhmet passed out and forgot all about genociding humanity.
- Dungeons and Dragons: In the first version of the Manual of the Planes, any living creature wandering into the Positive Material Plane heals 1d20 Hit Points per round. This can even raise the amount above the normal maximum... but if said creature reaches twice its HP total, it immediately bursts into energy and is destroyed.
- This feature was a constant up until 4th Edition's planar rejig, although the amount of HP healed has varied over the versions. Players refer to the energy-burst as Death By Awesome
- In the series 1 finale of Torchwood, the mere shadow of the Godzilla-scaled Abaddon instantly drains the life from anyone unlucky enough to be touched by it. The solution? Jack Harkness, the man who keeps resurrecting due to an "overabundance of life energy", forces Abaddon to gorge until it falls over dead.
- Doctor Who uses this trope as well. In the episode "Tooth and Claw," a werewolf chasing the Doctor, Rose, and Queen Victoria is killed by overloading it with the "Moon Energy" that gives the beast its power. The Doctor compares it to drowning in water, which in smaller quantities is necessary for life.
- In an episode of Tensou Sentai Goseiger, they fight a monster who absorbs electricity to use as a weapon. Moune, through the power of dance, is able to generate enough electricity to overload him.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, this is how The Master is finished off once and for all.
- A variation is used to take down the Asurans in Stargate Atlantis. Instead of trying to separate the individual blocks, McKay has the bright idea to dial up their attraction to each other, drawing them into a dense mass that would then implode. At first everyone thinks he's crazy, but it does work.
- In Bionicle, the Bohrak-Kal had stolen the Nuva Symbols (connected to the Toa Nuva's powers) and were about to use them to free their leaders, the Bahrag. Short on options, the Toa gambled on their connections to the Symbols and fed them their strength, charging the Kal's powers until they spiraled out of control (the lightning-wielding one electrocuted itself, one's magnetism powers got it crushed by mechanical scrap, the one with gravity powers sucked itself into a black hole...).
- Similar to the Fantastic Four example in the "comics" section, the Toa Metru discover a rahi which absorbs elemental blasts and grows larger. However, one of the Toa notices that its footprints do not change size, and therefore it must not be growing any heavier--thus, the Toa defeat it by blasting it until it becomes too vaporous to harm them.
- According to the Apocalyptic Log, this is why the Luminoth first designed the Dark Beam in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Subverted Trope: It did not work. The Luminoth then designed the Light Beam which was much more effective on their enemies the Ing.
- This is how Wesker is ultimately defeated at the end of Resident Evil 5. Overdosing them with their own drug is what causes their superhuman abilities to go haywire.
- A potential way to destroy the "Archimedes II" satellite weapon in Fallout: New Vegas. The player is given the option to redirect extra power to the grid that will cause an overload in the weapon and render it useless.
- In the ArcAttack event of Adventure Quest Worlds' Doomwood saga, The Hero gets the idea of trying to overload Vordred, the so-far-unstoppable undead badass that has run roughshod through everyone so far, using the experiment that Vordred has forced ArcAttack to conduct to make him more powerful. It doesn't work.
- In Starwish, Deuce proposes to defeat Iblis, an entity whose purpose is to make wishes come true that has gone haywire, by overloading it with desire. Neferiti quickly dismisses the idea, pointing out that Iblis answers to all the wishes in the universe, and Deuce's crew wouldn't even make a noticeable difference.
- In Order of the Stick, the party comes across a hydra on the way to the oracle. Belkar starts happily chopping heads off left and right. Varsuvius wants to just blast it with magic, but Roy says to wait, without explaining why. Just as V is about to let loose anyway, the hydra collapses due to it's heart no longer being able to pump enough blood to all of its heads.
- In Girl Genius a nutcase drank a last-resort combat stimulant to be nearly unstoppable. The Smoke Knight from whom it was stolen stuck into her a dart... not with a poison, with more of the same, figuring that that an overdose of already near-lethal stuff would kill her more reliably than anything else.
- Silver Fox from AkumaTH is an energy-absorbing Canon Immigrant who was defeated this way in the fan fic he came from. Subrosian is aware of this, and attempts the same tactic during Last Chance. The energy overload causes Silver Fox to lock down... at which point his systems automatically fire of all of his stored energy in Subrosian's direction. Cue Silver Fox gloating about how he won't fall for that again.
- Appeared in Re Boot, where Bob used the power of a tear to attract Gigabyte. Technically, the second half of the trope was averted, because it was a bait and switch, not the power itself causing the downfall.
- The Halloween Special Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, where the cast of Monsters vs. Aliens battles living jack o'lanterns that feed on candy. When the pumpkins join together to form a giant monster, they bombard it with candy until it explodes.
- Futurama: The Planet Express crew tries this against the Star Trek-loving Energy Being Melllvar. It doesn't work...
Leela: Hmm... If we can re-route engine power through the primary weapons and configure them to Melllvar's frequency, that should overload his electro-quantum structure.
Bender: Like putting too much air in a balloon!
Leela: It's not working! He's gaining strength from our weapons!
Fry: Like a balloon and... something bad happens!
- In the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode, "The Prison Plot" Magneto increases his power through generators. Spider-Man and Iceman use this to their advantage.
Magneto: Fools! You're not decreasing my magnetic attraction. You're increasing it!
Spider-Man: Correct! Give that man a prize!
Magneto: You blunderheads! You've made me all powerful!
Spider-Man: Would you believe too powerful?
- In the opening for a Batman the Brave And The Bold episode, Blue Beetle is able to convince Star Girl to do this towards Mantis, earning her respect in the process. Not that she'd admit it.
- In the Atomic Betty episode "Power Arrangers", the electricity-based villainess, Nuclea, is defeated this way.
- In one episode of The Incredible Hulk, The Leader has attached Hulk to a machine that will transfer Hulk's strength to him. It works, even as Hulk gets angrier and thus stronger, until Hulk gets even angrier.
- In The Real Ghostbusters episode "A Ghost Grows in Brooklyn," Egon killed a geranium that was possessed by a ghost and growing out of control, by overwatering it.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Alone Against AIM" has Tony Stark pursued by Technovore, which hungers for the energy of the arc reactor in his chest. Eventually, Tony destroys Technovore by feeding it energy from the largest reactor in Stark Industries.