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Super Smash Bros. series This article's title is unofficial.
Mario's helpless animation in Super Smash Bros.

Helpless (also known as free fall and various other names, and called "fallspecial" in game data) is a state in which characters are unable to take any action, with the exception of grabbing a ledge, maneuvering left/right, fastfalling, or climbing a ladder, until they land on the ground. Helplessness is typically associated with just having used one's triple jump, although it also occurs after using certain other special moves (usually ones which help recovery). Many special moves involving controllable projectiles (such as Ness's PK Flash and Zelda's Din's Fire) cause helplessness as well in all games besides Ultimate.

Helplessness most commonly ends upon landing on the ground, although it also ends if characters flinch, allowing them to attack or re-use their triple jump. A helpless character is denoted by both a flickering black overlay and a distinct falling animation.

A state similar to helplessness exists in falling after having one's shield broken and then being stunned.

Curiously, the helpless state gives characters an extra ability in Super Smash Bros.: the ability to fall through soft platforms without landing on them. Starting in Melee, this can be done at any time (not just when a character is helpless).

Moves that invoke helplessness[edit]

Character Move Type Notes
All Air dodge Melee only.
Pichu Agility Up Special
Shulk Air Slash Up Special
Villager Balloon Trip Up Special Can happen sooner if balloons are popped by opponents. Based on defeated animation of Balloon Fighter.
Ice Climbers Belay Up Special
Roy Blazer Up Special
Zero Suit Samus Boost Kick Up Special
Sheik Burst Grenade Side Special Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Cloud Climhazzard Up Special If the follow-up attack is executed, Cloud will fall rapidly; normally, he will plummet until he either hits solid ground, grabs the edge of a stage, or bypasses the lower blast line. However, in exceptionally tall stages (such as a custom stage or Smash Run), Cloud will enter helplessness during this falling attack, after one full second.
Wario Corkscrew Up Special
Ganondorf Dark Dive Up Special If the move's grab connects with an opponent, Ganondorf does not become helpless and can use the move again.
Meta Knight Dimensional Cape Down Special
Zelda Din's Fire Side Special Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Marth, Lucina Dolphin Slash Up Special
Corrin Draconic Ascent Up Special
Meta Knight Drill Rush Side Special
Duck Hunt Duck Jump Up Special
Yoshi Egg Roll Side Special Does not cause helplessness in SSB4.
Olimar End of Day Final Smash Being ejected from the crashing spaceship puts Olimar into a state that is not exactly helplessness (it uses his tumbling animation, lacks the black overlay, and unlike helplessness, prevents his Pikmin from chasing him), but it is essentially the same, as the player can only move to the left and right, and cannot attack or air dodge.
Lucario ExtremeSpeed Up Special If Lucario hits a wall during the move, it will wall cling instead of becoming helpless. However, it cannot use the move again.
Falco Falco Phantasm Side Special Does not cause helplessness in SSB4.
Captain Falcon Falcon Dive Up Special Like Dark Dive, if the move connects with an opponent, Captain Falcon does not become helpless and can use the move again.
Zelda Farore's Wind Up Special
Kirby Final Cutter Up Special Normally, the move does not end until Kirby lands on the ground, grabs the edge of a stage, or bypasses the lower blast line. However, if the platform Kirby has landed on disappears or something causes him to slide off while he is still in the landing animation (such as falling off a conveyor belt), he will become helpless.
Mr. Game & Watch Fire Up Special Only causes helplessness in Melee.
Falco Fire Bird Up Special
Fox Fire Fox Up Special
Wolf Fire Wolf Up Special
Ganondorf Flame Choke Side Special If the move connects with an opponent, Ganondorf does not become helpless, although he (and his victim) will fall until he hits the ground or bypasses the lower blast line.
Charizard Fly Up Special
Fox Fox Illusion Side Special Does not cause helplessness in SSB4.
Ganondorf Gerudo Dragon Side Special Melee only.
Donkey Kong Giant Punch Neutral Special Does not cause helplessness in SSB nor Ultimate.
Meta Knight, Charizard, Pit Gliding If the user has used all their double jumps, they are put into helplessness once the glide ends (either by stalling or by attacking). Brawl only.
Samus Grapple Beam Grab aerial Melee only.
Mii Brawler Headache Maker Side Special
Wii Fit Trainer Header Side Special Only causes helplessness if the user airdodges during the move.
Mii Brawler Helicopter Kick Up Special
Link, Young Link Hookshot Grab aerial Melee only.
Greninja Hydro Pump Up Special
Little Mac Jolt Haymaker Side Special SSB4 only.
Palutena Jump Glide Up Special Attacking while under the move's effect cancels the glide and triggers helplessness.
Rosalina Launch Star Up Special
Villager Lloid Rocket Side Special Villager only enters helplessness if he rides then jumps off of the Lloid Rocket, does not hit an opponent during the ride, or if Lloid is destroyed. Based on defeated animation of Balloon Fighter.
Meta Knight Mach Tornado Neutral Special
Robin Nosferatu Down Special Robin only enters helplessness after Nosferatu finishes dealing damage to an opponent in mid-air or over a temporary platform that is no longer active.
Mii Brawler Onslaught Side Special
Pac-Jump Up Special All jumps trigger helplessness for Pac-Man. When the trampoline is red, both Pac-Man or any other character who lands on it will instantaneously enter helplessness.
Peach Peach Parasol Up Special Peach only enters helplessness if she decides to fastfall (which retracts the parasol) after using the move — she can also end the helplessness and resume parachuting by pressing up (re-opening it), the only character able to do so. However, if Peach was under the effects of items that make her shrink or grow while she fastfalls, she will become helpless, as her parasol disappears once she's back to normal. The Parasol item allows any character to do this in Melee.
Captain Olimar Pikmin Chain Up Special Normally, Pikmin Chain makes Olimar helpless after the move is used in the air. However, if he uses grounded Pikmin Chain and the platform he's standing on disappears (such as falling off a conveyor belt), or he uses ground Pikmin Chain while the stage is rotating, he will become helpless. Brawl only.
Mii Brawler Piston Punch Up Special
Ness PK Flash Neutral Special Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Lucas, Ness PK Freeze Neutral Special Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate. Ness's variant is accessible via SSB4 customs only.
Lucas, Ness PK Thunder Up Special
Pit, Dark Pit Power of Flight Up Special
Pikachu Quick Attack Up Special
Ike Quick Draw Side Special Does not cause helplessness if it hits someone in SSB4.
Captain Falcon Raptor Boost Side Special
Little Mac Rising Uppercut Up Special
Palutena Rocket Jump Up Special
Diddy Kong Rocketbarrel Boost Up Special
Diddy Kong Rocketbarrel Barrage Final Smash Does not cause helplessness in SSB4.
Jigglypuff Rollout Neutral Special Only causes helplessness in Melee, as in the later games, Jigglypuff will keep rolling and won't be able to move if it hits while mid-air (making it literally helpless until it lands or takes knockback).
Samus Screw Attack Up Special
Screw Attack (item) Item When this item is thrown at opponents (Melee only), they will involuntarily execute a Screw Attack and thus become helpless.
Ryu Shin Shoryuken Final Smash Ryu becomes helpless after he executes the final attack, whether it connects or not.Ultinate
Mii Brawler Soaring Axe Kick Up special The move did not cause helplessness in SSB4. In Ultimate, helplessness is only caused if the downward portion is not inputted
Meta Knight Shuttle Loop Up Special In Brawl, while the initial execution of the move does not make Meta Knight helpless, he does become helpless if the glide ends. In SSB4, gliding does not exist and Meta Knight is made helpless after the move concludes.
Ryu Shoryuken Up Special The helpless animation starts after Ryu falls below his starting point. Before that, Shoryuken is unique in that it allows none of the usual maneuvering (making Ryu literally helpless).
Link, Young Link, Toon Link Spin Attack Up Special Normally, Spin Attack makes Link, Young Link, or Toon Link helpless after the move was used if in the air. However, if he stands on a platform while using a grounded Spin Attack and the platform disappears (such as falling off a conveyor belt), or he used grounded Spin Attack while the stage is rotating, he will become helpless.
Donkey Kong Spinning Kong Up Special
Ice Climbers Squall Hammer Side Special
King Dedede Super Dedede Jump Up Special Normally, the move does not end until King Dedede lands on the ground. However, if the platform King Dedede has landed on disappears while he is still in the landing animation (such as falling off a conveyor belt), he hits a ceiling while using the move, or the move is cancelled by the user, he will become helpless.
Wii Fit Trainer Super Hoop Up Special
Mario, Luigi, Dr. Mario Super Jump Punch Up Special Their helpless animations are based on the Mario Bros.' death sprite in games such as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3.
Mewtwo Teleport Up Special
Mii Brawler Ultimate Uppercut Neutral Special
Sheik Vanish Up Special
Ivysaur Vine Whip Up Special
Palutena Warp Up Special
Squirtle Waterfall Up Special
Bowser Whirling Fortress Up Special
Captain Olimar Winged Pikmin Up Special
Pit Wings of Icarus Up Special Pit can also avoid becoming helpless by using an aerial attack when using this move. Brawl only.
Wolf, Fox Wolf Flash Side Special Fox's variant is accessible via SSB4 customs only, and doesn't cause helplessness for him.

Landfallspecial and "superdashtechnique"[edit]

As a unique animation is used for falling while helpless, characters enter a different animation than usual once they land on the ground. This is called "landfallspecial" internally in Melee. Because air dodging enters this state and wavelanding involves air dodging into the ground, when wavedashing is performed Melee's debug menu shows "landfallspecial" as the character state. This originally led some players to believe that the "landfallspecial" designation was specifically designed for wavedashing and that developers intentionally put wavedashing in the game, further fueling the various debates over wavedashing's legitimacy. At one point, the myth morphed to where, instead of just "landfallspecial", there was purportedly another debug mode designation - cited as "superdashtechnique", "superdashattack", or other supposed variants - created solely for the wavedashing animation. All incarnations of this story have been proven false, and should not be themselves taken as evidence that wavedashing was intentionally put or left in Melee.



  • The moves Fire, Robo Burner, Spring Jump, and Cypher do not cause helplessness in Brawl, although they do restrict the user's choice of moves until they land - Mr. Game & Watch and Snake simply cannot use the recovery move again, while Sonic cannot use any special moves and R.O.B. cannot air dodge. Through a programming oversight, this condition prevents them from using their recovery move again if grabbed and released without pummeling before touching the ground (except for R.O.B.).
  • If Kirby copies a move that causes helplessness, he will be affected just as the original character would be. These moves are Giant Punch (Melee through Ultimate), Mach Tornado, PK Flash (until Ultimate), PK Freeze (until Ultimate), and Rollout (only Melee).
  • In Brawl, certain characters are unable to naturally become helpless, as they lack any moves that cause it. These characters are Jigglypuff, Sonic, Mr. Game & Watch, Snake, R.O.B., and Zero Suit Samus.
    • In fact, R.O.B. is not programmed to have a helpless state in Brawl, and attempting to see it via hacking causes the game to crash. All other characters have a helpless state, even if they cannot enter it without hacking. In Smash 4 and Ultimate, Pac-Jump's red trampoline can put any character in a helpless state, and so all characters, including R.O.B., have one in these games.
  • In Brawl, since Jigglypuff's and Mr. Game & Watch's air dodge animations carry over from Melee, pausing just before the animation ends allows the player to see their helpless state.
    • Additionally, whenever Link, Samus, and Toon Link perform a grab aerial, it's possible to see their helpless animations by pausing just before the animations ends.
  • Meta Knight is the only character whose entire set of special moves leaves him helpless.
    • Meta Knight is also the only character with two different helpless animations; one with his wings, and one without.
  • In Smash 4, a number of helpless animations cannot be seen without Pac-Man's red trampoline, including Mega Man, R.O.B, Mr. Game & Watch, Sonic, and Jigglypuff.
  • The unique animation caused by landing while helpless is the cause of the landing lag glitch.
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