Helpless

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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 Games Notes
All Air dodge Super Smash Bros. Melee Melee only.
Pichu Agility Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate
Shulk Air Slash Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Mii Swordfighter Airborne Assault Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate In Ultimate, a half-second window is granted after the move's usage to execute other actions before the helplessness is inflicted.
Mii Gunner Arm Rocket Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Villager, Isabelle Balloon Trip Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Can happen sooner if balloons are popped by opponents. Villager's helpless animation is based on that of the "defeated" animation from Balloon Fight.
Ice Climbers Belay Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate
Roy Blazer Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Zero Suit Samus Boost Kick Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Sheik Burst Grenade Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Mii Gunner Cannon Uppercut (SSB4)/Cannon Jump Kick (SSBU) Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Functionally identical to one another, with only the animations being any different.
Cloud Climhazzard Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Incineroar Cross Chop Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Incineroar will only enter helplessness if it fails to hit solid ground again upon rebounding after using the move.
Daisy Daisy Parasol Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Daisy 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). However, if Daisy is 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.
Ganondorf Dark Dive Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Zelda Din's Fire Side Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Marth, Lucina Dolphin Slash Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Corrin Draconic Ascent Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Meta Knight Drill Rush Side Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Duck Hunt Duck Jump Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Yoshi Egg Roll Side Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. Brawl Does not cause helplessness in SSB4 and Ultimate.
Olimar End of Day Final Smash Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. Brawl Does not cause helplessness in SSB4 or Ultimate.
Captain Falcon Falcon Dive Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Kirby Final Cutter Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. Melee Only causes helplessness in Melee.
Falco Fire Bird Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Fox Fire Fox Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Wolf Fire Wolf Up Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ganondorf Flame Choke Side Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Fox Fox Illusion Side Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. Brawl Does not cause helplessness in SSB4 or Ultimate.
Ganondorf Gerudo Dragon Side Special Super Smash Bros. Melee Melee only.
Donkey Kong Giant Punch Neutral Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in SSB or Ultimate.
Meta Knight, Charizard, Pit Gliding Super Smash Bros. Brawl 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 Super Smash Bros. Melee Melee only.
Mii Brawler Headache Maker Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4
Wii Fit Trainer Header Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Only causes helplessness if the user airdodges during the move.
Mii Brawler Helicopter Kick Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Mii Swordfighter Hero's Spin Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Link, Young Link Hookshot Grab aerial Super Smash Bros. Melee Melee only.
Greninja Hydro Pump Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Little Mac Jolt Haymaker Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Palutena Jump Glide Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4 Attacking while under the move's effect cancels the glide and triggers helplessness.
Rosalina & Luma Launch Star Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Villager Lloid Rocket Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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.
Mii Gunner Lunar Launch Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Meta Knight Mach Tornado Neutral Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Robin Nosferatu Down Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Pac-Man
All
Pac-Jump Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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). However, if Peach is 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.
Olimar Pikmin Chain Up Special Super Smash Bros. Brawl 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.
Piranha Plant Piranhacopter Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Mii Brawler Piston Punch Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4 Only available in SSB4.
Ness PK Flash Neutral Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Lucas, Ness PK Freeze Neutral Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate. Ness's variant is accessible via SSB4 customs only.
Lucas, Ness PK Thunder Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Pit, Dark Pit Power of Flight Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
King K. Rool Propellerpack Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Pikachu Quick Attack Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ike Quick Draw Side Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate In SSB4 and Ultimate, a half-second window is granted after the move's usage to execute Aether. Otherwise, Ike will be sent into a helpless state.
Captain Falcon Raptor Boost Side Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Terry Rising Tackle Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Little Mac Rising Uppercut Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Palutena Rocket Jump Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4
Diddy Kong Rocketbarrel Boost Up Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Diddy Kong Rocketbarrel Barrage Final Smash Super Smash Bros. Brawl Does not cause helplessness in SSB4.
Jigglypuff Rollout Neutral Special Super Smash Bros. Melee 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, Dark Samus Screw Attack Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
All Screw Attack (item) Item Super Smash Bros. Melee 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 Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Ryu becomes helpless after he executes the final attack, whether it connects or not.
Meta Knight Shuttle Loop Up Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 and Ultimate, gliding does not exist and Meta Knight is made helpless after the move concludes.
Ryu, Ken Shoryuken Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The helpless animation starts after Ryu/Ken falls below his starting point. Before that, Shoryuken is unique in that it allows none of the usual maneuvering after executing it (making Ryu/Ken literally helpless).
Mii Swordfighter Skyward Slash Dash Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Mii Brawler Soaring Axe Kick Up special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The move did not cause helplessness in SSB4. In Ultimate, helplessness is only inflicted if the downward attack is not executed.
Link, Young Link, Toon Link Spin Attack Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ice Climbers Squall Hammer Side Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate
Mii Gunner Stealth Burst Side Special Super Smash Bros. 4 Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
King Dedede Super Dedede Jump Up Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 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 Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Inkling Super Jump Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Despite lacking the flashing effect helplessness normally leaves on a character after using a specific action that causes it, Inkling cannot perform any other moves until she lands or grabs a ledge. There is a hitbox upon landing from this animation.
Mario, Luigi, Dr. Mario Super Jump Punch Up Special Super Smash Bros.Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Their helpless animations are based on the Mario Bros.' death sprite in games such as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3.
Mii Brawler Suplex Side special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Only available in Ultimate.
Mewtwo Teleport Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Mii Brawler Thrust Uppercut Up special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Only available in Ultimate. Replaces Piston Punch from SSB4.
Mii Brawler Ultimate Uppercut Neutral Special Super Smash Bros. 4 Only available in SSB4.
Simon, Richter Uppercut Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Sheik Vanish Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ivysaur Vine Whip Up Special Super Smash Bros. Brawl Does not cause helplessness in Ultimate.
Palutena Warp Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Squirtle Waterfall Up Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate
Bowser Whirling Fortress Up Special Super Smash Bros. MeleeSuper Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ridley Wing Blitz Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Olimar Winged Pikmin Up Special Super Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Pit Wings of Icarus Up Special Super Smash Bros. Brawl Pit can also avoid becoming helpless by using an aerial attack when using this move. Brawl only.
Joker Wings of Rebellion Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Can only access this move if Arsene is summoned via Joker's Rebellion Gauge.
Wolf, Fox Wolf Flash Side Special Super Smash Bros. BrawlSuper Smash Bros. 4Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fox's variant is accessible via SSB4 customs only, and doesn't cause helplessness for him.
Hero Woosh / Swoosh / Kaswoosh Up Special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate All three stages of this move cause helplessness.

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.

Gallery[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • 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, namely those of Yoshi, Jigglypuff, Mr. Game & Watch, Sonic, R.O.B, Mega Man, and Bayonetta.
  • The unique animation caused by landing while helpless is the cause of the landing lag glitch.
  • Melee is the only Smash game in which all characters can become helpless through their own moveset.
  • Smash 64 and Brawl are the only games in which a character cannot become helpless as a result of someone else (Melee has the Screw Attack, and Smash 4 and Ultimate have Pac-Man's trampoline).