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Some characters are defensive powerhouses, like the Barrier Warrior who raises the use of Deflector Shields into an unassailable art form. One popular tactic for dealing with such a formidable defense is to use an attack that their defenses can't block, an Unblockable Attack. It can be a punch, weapon, or spell that if it connects breaks whatever defenses the target has and leaves them reeling. This attack is so powerful that even a perfectly timed Block / Counter Attack won't work, the only choices the target has are dodging (thus dropping their defense) or preemptively attacking before their assailant finishes their attack.
The Unblockable Attack usually has one or more drawbacks to keep it from being naturally overpowering. It may have a Charged Attack mechanic so the defender can potentially survive either by immediately dodging or jabbing very fast to stop the charge-up. Another limitation is it doesn't usually have a lot of Area of Effect or "splash" damage, giving the target plenty of space to run to in order to avoid getting hit. Similarly it will not be an Always Accurate Attack that can home in on targets wherever they may be and even if they dodge (in fact, an Always Accurate Attack will probably do less damage as a tradeoff). If the unblockable attack lacks these drawbacks it gives the attacker an Instant Death Radius that makes the game Nintendo Hard and the opponent akin to a god.
The Unblockable Attack is similar to how a spell with No Saving Throw will No Sell a target's mystic and mental defenses... provided it hits. The difference is that No Saving Throw attacks can be prevented from hitting by certain defenses, while an Unblockable attack can never be intercepted, only avoided or interrupted.
This works equally well on actual physical defenses like fists, swords and shields, as well as intangible ones like a Beehive Barrier. The Boss Battle is likely to have this, and Mooks probably have attacks like this to make sure the player doesn't spend all the fight just blocking. The Unblockable Attack is usually signaled with a special animation.
In fighting games, grapple/throw maneuvers tend to be unblockable attacks as a rule, to encourage a player to use their defenses wisely; it also creates a Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors where Defend beats Attack, Throw beats Defend, and Attack beats Throw.
- Mahou Sensei Negima (and Love Hina) has Zanmaken: Ni no Tachi, a sword attack designed to ignore all and any magic barriers.
- In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, when the titular hero fights against Ethan Stanley, he wins with a technique that he learned from The Elder himself and for which there is no defense, at least when the opponent is a non-master-class fighter. However, when Kenichi uses the same technique against Tirawit Koukin, Kenichi's Genre Savvy opponent, instead of trying to defend himself, simply launches a counter-attack.
- In To Aru Majutsu no Index, One of Fiamma of the Right's powers via the Holy Right is to annihilate anything it hits without any destructive force, resulting in this. And there's no known drawbacks to using it.
- Fate/stay nights gives us Gae Bolg, which is not only an Unblockable Attack, but also a One-Hit Kill and an Always Accurate Attack. It works as follows: when the name is invoked, the heart of the target is pierced. THEN the lance strike happens, with reality warping itself to make the attack hit. If you have a high enough Luck Stat (in the Reality Warper league), it's possible to escape the heart-pierce and 'only' take an almost-unhealable hit elsewhere on your body.
- Avada Kedavra from Harry Potter cannot be blocked by shielding spells, and moves too fast for most wizards to get something in the way in time. It's also unsurvivable under normal circumstances, meriting it the rank of Unforgivable. The only way to stop it is to dodge it, and it moves FAST.
- In book five Dumbledore demonstrates that it's also possible to intercept it with an inanimate object such as a rock.
- Legend of the Seeker is the TV version of the Sword of Truth books. In the book, the Sword cuts through everything. TV dropped that because sword fights are more exciting.
- Additionally, subtractive magic. Any subtractive magic.
- Dungeons and Dragons, particularly older editions, reveled in all kinds of "no-save" spells, i.e. spells that offered the target no chance to avoid, defend, or even mitigate damage or other effects.
- Exalted has various Charms that make an attack unblockable, undodgeable, or both. Of course, attacks like this will always fail before a perfect defense.
- Art of Fighting's Ryuko Ranbu couldn't be blocked and was so devastating that only Ryo, Robert, and the game's secret boss Mr. Karate had access to it. It was toned down in The King of Fighters, particularly the later installments where it was made blockable and did considerably less damage. At least, until 2002, where Robert gained a HDM version that has short range (as opposed to the usual fullscreen dash animation), but is again unblockable and drains just over half the opponent's energy.
- Worth noting that Art of Fighting was the first fighting game to feature unblockables along with desperation attacks in general.
- Michelangelo pays homage to Ryuko Ranbu with his own rendition of it in the SNES version of TMNT: Tournament Fighters. As is the case in Art of Fighting, Mikey's "rage guage" must be full, resulting in a full screen dash and an unblockable beatdown.
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow gives every monster this mechanic.
- In Distorted Travesty, "death wheels" (late game obstacles/attacks) cannot be dashed through.
- In the Gundam Battle Assault line of games, Beam Saber attacks are unblockable, but slower to strike (and more telegraphed) than normal attacks. Deathscythe Custom's beam scythe, which it uses for its regular attacks, are also unblockable.
- In Iji, Mercy Invincibility won't protect you from being hit by the Velocithor, Nuke or Phantom Hammer.
- Ralf Jones (originally from Ikari Warriors) gains in later installments of The King of Fighters a (S)DM (that's KOF terminology for a super) called Galactica Phantom. It's unblockable and does absurd damage off the bat. Using it as a Counter Attack deals even more damage to opponents (it can even result in an instant KO), and the move can even bite a chunk out of the bosses' lifebar. The tradeoff? It takes quite a few seconds to fully charge, making it something of a Death or Glory Attack. And even if your opponent gives you the time to muster up your strength, a simple jump or roll is all that's needed to dodge it. The only exception to this is EX2: Howling Blood, where the move has a much shorter charge time (at the expense of some power) and is included as one of Ralf's normal specials.
- The Legendary Pokémon Giratina has a hugely powerful Signature Move called Shadow Force. Giratina disappears on the first turn and strikes on the next. The only way to not get hit by Shadow Force is to Dig or Fly, or be a normal type immune to Ghost attacks.
- Similarly (but less impressively), the move Feint can hit through Protect and Detect.
- A lesser example is Brick Break, which hits through Reflect and Light Screen for full damage and dispels them.
- In Mabinogi's Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, the Smash attack can break through the Defend move. No melee attack works against the Counter Attack move, though.
- In Vindictus, smash attacks cannot be Guarded by Fiona's shield, but they can be blocked using Heavy Stander.
- These are a staple of the Soul Series series, with virtually every character having at least one unblockable move. They are typically slow, highly telegraphed, and can be easily ducked or dodged by an alert opponent. Should it land, however, the resulting damage is often quite high.
- The Soul Charge ability also present in the games makes some more common attacks unblockable as well.
- This is also the case for Tekken, another Namco fighting series that preceded Soul Edge and Soulcalibur.
- In Street Fighter IV every character has access to the Focus Attack. When charged to full power, it is unblockable. It also will ignore the first hit you take. Every character also has access to one attack that shutsdown the Focus Attack, though.
- This actually appeared earlier than IV, in the form of the Guard Break from Street Fighter EX. By using up a portion of the super bar, the character in question would wind up and deliver a strike that would nullify the opposing player's guard and cause them to stagger around while dazed for a few seconds. If it connected with an airborne player, they would instead be relaunched into the air for another juggle. Like the Focus Attack, these moves could also be countered.
- There are quite a few of these in Mortal Kombat. Sheeva is practically a specialist in this, with a jump move that crushes the opponent (but can be easily sidestepped), a ground stomp that hits the entire level (but anyone in the air avoids it), and four separate grab moves.
- Fear Is Vigilance has the body-slam attack -- which is slow, but breaks through blocking.
- Almost all Final Smash attacks in Super Smash Bros. Brawl are unblockable, even by characters with special countering attacks.
- Many of the stronger enemies and bosses in Dark Souls have attacks that will hurt you no matter how good your shield is, and many of them ignore parrying.
- Although if you boost your Endurance enough and carry a high stability shield, you can block pretty much anything, even from things five times your size.
- Elemental damage also works this way. If your shield doesn't block magic damage, even the most pathetic Soul Arrow will punch straight through.
- El Shaddai has a Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors weapon system for the player, with a sword, bow and shield. The shield is slow, has a minuscule range, and has no super speed moves, but it not only allows to move while blocking, it can block otherwise unblockable attacks even from bosses! Granted, some of the bosses do have unblockable attacks (or that eventually wear down the weapon's durability and break it mid block) but the shield averts this trope in relation to the other weapons.
- Low blows in Fight Night are unblockable because there is no "Guard Family Jewels" button. While ordinarily this will get you disqualified, it often take 2-3 for the ref to do it, so you can safely knock a guy out once with a cheap shot. Or you can turn Disqualification off entirely and crotch-punch your way to the championship.
- It's not uncommon for bosses in the Tales (series) to have a few unblockable attacks to mix things up a bit, and they're not always slow, either.
- ↑ (Or make a really cheap jab!)