Originally posted 8 September 2017 on Nerds4Life
The moment has come at last: your opponent is staggered, and unable to defend themselves. It’s time to finally put them out of their misery with the coup de grâce, unleashing a technique so devastating, it sends them away for good.
It’s the infamous trope of the ‘finishing move’, and it’s the latest topic for our top 10 lists. Me personally, I always have a gripe with the concept: surely if you have a trick up your sleeve that’s an assured victory, you’d whip it out at the beginning of the fight, foregoing all of the nonsense that precedes it?
For context: my finishing move is to kick you in the nads, and yes — I’m probably going to do it as early as possible.
Logistics aside, it’s time to declare what finishing move is a cut above the rest…!
10. Hyper Beam (Pokemon)
Back in the bare bones arsenal of generation 1, you had only a scant few finishing options at your disposal. Though some may opt for the destructive impact of Explosion or the satisfying risk of Hydro Pump, for me, it was all about the big old Hyper Beam.
With a hefty base damage of 150, this move could only be learned by fully evolved Pokemon, offloading a beam of pure ouch upon its target. Unleashing it exerts such effort, its user is forced to recharge in the next turn… unless we’re talking about the broken mechanics of RBY, in which case KOing enemies with this move (ie. the best case scenario) would inexplicably result in foregoing this recharging turn.
Though it has since been brought back to earth in subsequent games, and its newly assigned characteristic of being a special move instead of a physical one has altered its usage, it was briefly, wonderfully, an unstoppable force of nature that would bring the metagame to its knees.
9. Destructo Disk (Dragon Ball)
I’ve professed my affinity for this technique in the past, and I’m continuing to be the leader, the prophet and the sole occupant of this bandwagon today. Krillin’s trademark attack comes in the form of a razor sharp disc of energy that he flings at his enemies with potentially devastating results.
The reason it doesn’t rank higher is because of that caveat; potential. Alas, this ‘finisher’ rarely seems to actually ‘finish’ anything, because our humble bald hero has the accuracy of Mark Sanchez in a snowstorm. Krillin has missed with this thing so often, it is actually more shocking to see it make contact. It’s practically an event unto itself: small communities in the Himalayas celebrate en masse, I’m led to believe.
The rational person in me succumbs to the idea that the Spirit Bomb or Kamehameha would be far better suited to this list, but I’m a sucker for theatrics, you know. I will live and die with the Destructo Disk in the same way that Krillin literally lives and dies in every episode.
8. Dirty Bull (Street Fighter)
Street Fighter may not be as lauded for its finishing techniques as its more violent cousin Mortal Kombat (foreshadowing?), but it has more than its fair share of powerful ultra abilities to its name.
Though most of the ultras are simply souped up variations of the fighters’ trademark techniques, Balrog’s second ability in Street Fighter 4 stands alone for a few reasons. Primarily, I love it because it is absolutely useless. In short, Balrog headbutts his opponent, stomps on their toe, and then elbows them in the face. In long, Balrog headbutts his opponent, stomps on their toe, and then elbows them in the face. Really, that’s all there is to it.
It has absolutely abysmal range, lacks the setup nature of his primary ultra, and just looks ludicrous, to boot. Balrog even gives off a shrug of indifference after connecting, as if to suggest that he himself is nonplussed by the ability he just showcased.
7. Smoke blows up the planet (Mortal Kombat)
For effectiveness, you can’t really fault this move.
The cyborg ninja Smoke drops a batch of bombs on the ground, causing an explosion so massive, it destroys all of Earth. Somehow, Smoke is declared the ‘winner’ afterwards, and moves onto the next round of the tournament completely oblivious to the fact that he just blew everything up moments ago.
In a franchise known for its gruesome fatalities, this one ranks somewhere close to ‘Jax grows fifty feet tall and stomps his enemy into the ground’ on the viability scale. It’s stupid fun, and since I don’t get quite the sadistic kick out of the more brutal endings like some other people do, I prefer it to the limb-tearing, organ-crushing nature of its contemporaries.
For the record, Liu Kang’s flippy kick from the first title is easily the worst fatality in the series. I don’t care what you say, there is no way I will be swayed from this opinion.
6. Present for you (Dragon Ball)
It may not surprise people that Dragon Ball features twice on this list, but if you thought the prior entry was a poor choice, this one here is just to die for.
Hercule Satan, notorious for being DBZ’s resident foolish punching bag, clearly has no chance when facing up against the mightiest warriors in the series like Goku, Cell, or Krillin (work with me here). As such, he often resorts to using explosive gifts as a means of turning the tables. It never seems to work, but Majin Buu has a good old laugh, at the very least.
My favourite example of this strategy was first found in the Budokai games a few console generations ago. Hercule would unleash a completely ineffective punch into the face of his enemy, who is about to retaliate with a mighty whoopin’. Panicking, Hercule offers them a strange device, declaring that ‘he has a present’ for them.
While they amusedly take in this lovely gesture, Hercule dashes off a safe distance and triggers the explosive device. The fact that you can see legendary sourpusses like Vegeta or Piccolo look delighted by a goddamn present makes this the absolute best finishing move in the franchise.
5. Ace Attorney (Marvel vs. Capcom)
In a wacky game like Marvel vs. Capcom, it’s not uncommon to see fighters and abilities that defy belief. But when this wily lawyer made his way into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, you knew you were in for a weird old ride.
If his moveset of searching for evidence or siccing his assistants upon his enemies wasn’t wild enough, his hyper combo — the aptly named ‘Ace Attorney’ — certainly takes the cake. After Wright has collected three pieces of evidence, he will transport his foe to the courtroom, where he will accuse them of criminal activity. Unable to counter and filled with guilt, the opponent receives massive damage for reasons that are never made apparent.
In much the same way that seeing the fiercest Z Warriors fondle a gift is delightful, there is something just so inexplicably wonderful about seeing Dr. Doom get interrogated in a court of law. It’s about time somebody did it.
4. The Stunner (WWF)
There have been thousands upon thousands of finishing manoeuvres applied in the wacky world of pro wrestling. Some of them look spectacular while not making much practical sense in a real-world context, such as the Canadian Destroyer, wherein the instigator of the move flips with such force, it also flips his opponent in the process. Others aren’t so visually appealing, but their impact cannot be ignored: chiefly, I’m referring to Earthquake John Tenta, who opted simply to sit his 200kg frame on his hapless foe.
One of the most famous was the Stone Cold Stunner. Effectively a seated jawbreaker, the move was effective for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it was incredibly versatile in its usage: it could come out of nowhere for a shocking moment, or be set up dramatically beforehand to let the crowd soak it in. Additionally, depending on who was receiving it, you could get a completely different sell every time. Highlights include The Rock flopping around like a fish, or Scott Hall launching himself into orbit.
But most importantly, the Stunner was downright broken in WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It, allowing me to collect the high score in the game’s survival mode. For that, it will always remain dear to my heart.
3. Cook (Kirby)
It’s well-documented that one of Kirby’s main characteristics is his ability to gobble up foes, either spitting them back out or absorbing their abilities afterwards. But there is something far more sinister about the Cook ability that makes it just that much better.
Kirby dons a chef’s hat and an apron, unveils an enormous pot from nowhere, and boils his adversaries alive. It’s that simple. It’s that horrifying. It’s that delicious.
This was particularly grim when it was featured as Kirby’s Final Smash in Smash Bros Brawl, as it meant that the course of the day was all of your most beloved Nintendo heroes. Even the brief image featured in the first Smash trailer had our boy Mario writhing in agony as he was rendered into a yummy snack.
Surely the only one who could resist this horrible fate would be Bugs Bunny, because that sick son of a gun downright enjoys it. Read into that what you will.
2. Kamikaze Banzai (Street Fighter)
It should stand to reason that Street Fighter’s greatest character should possess Street Fighter’s greatest attack.
You may not recognise the name Captain Sawada at first glance, but that’s okay, because this juggernaut neither needs nor seeks your validation, plus I’m pretty sure he can’t understand a single word you say anyway. A random character who was only written into the Street Fighter movie so that the actor could have a role, Sawada’s true brilliance was not revealed until the excellently named Street Fighter the Movie the Game, where this shirtless dynamo laid into his enemies without mercy.
And what kind of ultra would he unveil, I hear you ask? Why, it’s the Kamikaze Banzai — the most crippling, threatening and fearsome move in all of Street Fighter lore. In it, Sawada lifts his arms and charges recklessly towards his opponent. If it connects, it’s a five hit combo and a serious damage dealer. If it misses, well jeez, he’s already proven his point, hasn’t he?
Either way, Sawada is the obvious winner in this exchange.
1. The ‘one-liner’ (various action movies)
This is the mack daddy of them all, boys and girls.
Action heroes have dispatched of their foes in a variety of ways over the years, most typically with a bullet/explosion/disregard for the concept of ‘diplomatic immunity’. And while these are all brilliant in their own right, the thing that tips them over the edge is the addition of some kind of pithy remark to really hit home the concept that ‘I’m killing you now, and you’re most likely not going to enjoy it’.
I often wonder whether the protagonist feels pleased with themselves afterwards, and tells their friends and family about what they said? I know I would, particularly given the amount of pressure they must have been feeling at the time, what with all of the murdering going on and all.
If I were to narrow it down to just one, I’m going to anoint an unlikely champion in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Gordon Brewer from Collateral Damage. When the villain, Claudio, seemingly has the upper hand and snootily remarks, ‘so when were you going to kill me?’, Brewer’s response, ‘NOW!’, while flinging an axe into Claudio’s chest, is one of the hallmarks of cinema.