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During a fight, a person can have a lot on their mind. They're trying to defeat their opponent, while avoiding injury themselves. They may be trying to protect Innocent Bystanders, or avoid unnecessary collateral damage. Perhaps they're laboring under self-imposed restrictions or they're just holding back for fun. For whatever reason, they're not giving things their all.
Until the gloves come off.
When a character is pushed hard enough, they can reach the point where defeating the enemy in front of them is their one and only goal. Everything else, even their own survival, becomes secondary. The reason for this varies. Perhaps their enemy has sent them into an Unstoppable Rage. Maybe they've realized that the won't be able to defeat their opponent unless they focus on winning to the exclusion of all else, or they've reached the Godzilla Threshold and now they have nothing to lose by going all out. Whatever the cause, the character will cast off anything holding them back, heedless of what it may cost them later.
This is when the character uses their Cover-Blowing Superpower, removes their Power Limiter, or unleashes their Super-Powered Evil Side. They may cast off beliefs that were holding them back, or resort to underhanded tactics they would have shunned before. You can expect to see the Deadly Upgrade and Dangerous Forbidden Technique make appearances. However they accomplish it, part of the gloves coming off involves the character suddenly becoming much more effective in combat.
However, there will be consequences, regardless of who actually wins the fight. They may make a Heroic Sacrifice to take their enemy with them, undergo a Heroic BSOD when they realize My God, What Have I Done?, or suffer from a Heroic RROD from overstressing their bodies. They may have acted Just Like Their Enemy, or they may become He Who Fights Monsters and be left wondering Was It Really Worth It?. On the other hand, the trauma may be just what they need to Earn Their Happy Ending, so it's not always a bad thing.
May be proceeded by a World of Cardboard Speech. If their enemy can't match their new-found power, it will often result in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. If the enemy can match their strength and determination, the fight will probably continue to the point of Combat Breakdown. When the gloves come off, it's usually during a Wham! Episode. Not to be confused with literally taking one's gloves off -- see The Coats Are Off or Battle Strip for removing clothing before a fight.
Anime and Manga
- Kira and Athrun take the gloves off during the Wham! Episode of Gundam Seed. Until then, they'd been holding back due to being each other's Forgotten Childhood Friend and Kira's Reluctant Warrior tendencies. But when they manage to each kill a friend of the other in self-defense, they throw themselves into genuine battle to the death for the first time.
- Vash the Stampede reaches this point near the end of Trigun, when he kills Legato Bluesummers in order to save Millie and Meyrl. Oddly for this trope, the act itself is rather understated, rather than being an epic fight scene.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team, this happens twice. First, when Norris Packard fights the eponymous 08th Team in order to buy time for a hospital ship to escape, knowing he'll be left behind. Second, when Shiro makes an exception to his Technical Pacifism for Ginias in the Apsalus. With permission from Ginias' sister, no less.
- In Dragonball Z, Vegeta reaches this point during the Buu saga, allowing himself to be controlled by Babidi for the power boost that that entails.
- In Bleach the process by which captain-level shinigami have their Power Limiters removed is the subject of a brief arc. Several more straightforward examples of this trope:
- Ishida, going against a warning from his grandfather, removes a special glove. This has exactly the effect he was told: he becomes powerful enough to one shot a captain's Bankai but loses his quincy powers (until the next arc, anyway).
- Ichigo does this twice.
- First after the Huendo Meundo arc when he unwillingly Turns Red after being "killed" and turns into an extremely powerful hollow until he's snapped out of it.
- In his fight with Aizen, Ichigo convinces his zanpakuto to let him use a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that will permanently remove his powers.
- Kyoraku's fight against Starrk. Awkward and dangerous zanpakuto, won't fight unless he has to and goes to some lengths to avoid a 'serious' fight. When pushed, he's a fairly ruthless combat pragmatist who doesn't let a silly notion like 'honour' get in the way of protecting his subordinates and friends. After Ukitake was hit and Starrk tried to kill Love and Rose, his already underhand tactics got more so. Starrk's original tactics and reaction to the death of Barragan and Harribel also falls under this, perhaps more so because it's backed up by his internal monologue, whereas we only have Kyoraku's rather dubious word for it.
- In Soul Eater, you can tell Mifune is getting serious when he spits out the toothpick he's constantly chewing on.
- In Ultimate Teacher, Ganpachi literally takes his gloves (and shoes and socks) off when he's ready to start fighting while using his non-human abilities.
- A good way to set Luke Skywalker into this mode is to threaten Leia. Vader made that mistake in Return of the Jedi and so did C'Baoth in The Last Command in the EU.
- In The Dresden Files, there are a rare few moments where Harry Dresden just completely cuts loose on his opponents, usually using a spell called pyrofuego . The first time happens in Grave Peril, and the second happens in Small Favor. Then there's the book Changes. And by the book, we mean all of it.
- In Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius reaches this point when unleashing a Super-Powered Evil Side by making a literal Deal with the Devil(s). As expected for this trope, the results are not exactly what anyone hoped for, and leads to some solid Character Development for all involved parties.
- Xykon gives us a villainous example as a result of the above. While he survives the attack with relative ease, in the process he loses his phylactery, which prompts him to stop screwing around and get back to work. Sort of an odd example in that the cost causes the boost in effectiveness, rather than being a result of it.
- In Camelorum Adventures, pushing Candace to want to literally remove her gloves means she no longer cares about the risk of getting a longer sentence. She is willing to use her power full-stop against an enemy, even if it means blowing up buildings and irreversibly turning enemies into citrus fruits. Few, outside of Xiboruty, have ever angered her enough to make her consider this. The caring side that allows her to be triggered this way is usually kept suppressed beneath layers upon layers of the goofball persona she masks herself with.
- ↑ literally "fire-fire," which is pretty indicative of what happens: lots of fire.