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If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This," and kill the advisor.—Number 46 on the Evil Overlord List.
In fiction Conservation of Ninjutsu is powerful beyond compare. One ninja, or frankly any humanoid, will have no problem taking out an entire army. Unfortunately for the army's leader, they're not Genre Savvy. Of course the only thing they can think, and thus shout, when seeing the carnage laid out is, "It's just one man!" or, "What can one man do?"
All in all this tends to be a Stock Phrase used whenever a One-Man Army appears, or when the battle becomes One Riot, One Ranger. However this applies to any time a character asks what one person can do, whether it be against his army of Mooks or just his own superior strength. See also We Do the Impossible. Or perhaps Tempting Fate.
- Very common in One Piece, especially during Enies Lobby.
- Near the end of the Invasion of Konoha arc in the Naruto anime, around 20 Sand Ninjas surround Hiashi Hyuga and remark that he's just one man. Hiashi then defeats them all with a very large Rotation jutsu.
- In Code Geass, the Lancelot knightmare frame and its pilot Suzaku goes under this trope multiple times.
Protex: Batman! Batman! He's only a man!
(Close up of the captive Superman. Smiling. You can just imagine the thought balloon above Clark's head going, "I'm going to enjoy watching Bruce screw with you far, far more than I really should." )
Protex: Tronix! Fluxus! What's happening there? Zenturian! He's only one man!
Superman:The most ... uh ... dangerous man on Earth.
- The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Captain Harrison Love: After all, it's only one man...
Don Rafael: It isn't just one man, damn it. It's Zorro!
- The Six Million Dollar Man had this as almost a stock phrase on many episodes. In one episode the same bad guy had a sequence of schemes ruined by Steve Austin, to the point that at the end, he gets a call from some mooks: "What? ONE MAN?... This has a depressingly familiar ring to it."
- A subversion took place in the lead up to WW-I, when pretty much everyone knew that war was just a matter of time. The commander of the British Staff College, Brigadier General Henry Wilson, was talking to his counterpart in the French Ecole Supérieure de Guerre, General Ferdinand Foch:
Wilson: "What is the smallest British military force that would be of any practical use to you?"
Foch: "A single British soldier--and we will see to it that he is killed."
The Joker: Come on boys! He's just one man! One man dressed like a lunatic and armed to the teeth.
- Breen says this about Gordon Freeman in Half Life 2:
Breen: The man you have consistently failed to slow, let alone capture, is by all standards simply that--an ordinary man. How can you have failed to apprehend him?
- When Desmond claims this about himself in Assassin's Creed II, Lucy replies with: "Sometimes that's all you need."
- Nicole Horne describes Max Payne this way: "What do you mean, 'he's unstoppable'? You are superior to him in every way that counts. You are better trained, better equipped, and you outnumber him at least twenty-to-one. Do. Your. Job."
- Commander Lockhart says this about Alcatraz in Crysis 2.
- Becomes Arc Words in Modern Warfare 3. Price and Makarov repeat endlessly it against each other.
- You can pick this as a dialogue option early on in The Godfather 2 about the Cuban rebels. Predictably enough, shortly afterwards El Presidente announces his abdication.
- Number 46 on the Evil Overlord List
If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This," and kill the advisor.
- Samurai Jack episode "Jack and the Three Blind Archers"
General: There are only three archers, yet they decimated my whole army. You are just one man. Do the math.
- Filmation's 1960's Justice League of America, episode "Target Earth". While Green Lantern is smashing an invading space fleet, the fleet's commander says "Fools! He is just one man! Destroy him!"