History Main / PlotDrivenBreakdown

26th May '16 9:47:05 PM Blazer
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* This trope seems to happen in every ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' game. Samus' powerups always malfunction or disappear somewhere whenever she needs them. Typically, this happens offscreen between games. However, the first two ''VideoGame/{{Metroid Prime|Trilogy}}'' games [[TasteOfPower start you off with some items]] but have you lose them early on, to a reactor explosion and some thieving Ing, respectively. ''[[VideoGame/MetroidOtherM Other M]]'' instead has you in possession of all your items but unable to use them for plot-related reasons--not a malfunction, strictly speaking, but it serves the same purpose.

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* This trope seems to happen in every ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' game. Samus' powerups always malfunction or disappear somewhere whenever she needs them. Typically, this happens offscreen between games. However, the first two ''VideoGame/{{Metroid Prime|Trilogy}}'' games [[TasteOfPower start you off with some items]] but have you lose them early on, to a reactor explosion and some thieving Ing, respectively. ''[[VideoGame/MetroidOtherM Other M]]'' instead has you in possession of all your items but unable to use them for plot-related reasons--not a malfunction, strictly speaking, but it serves the same purpose. ''VideoGame/MetroidFusion'' explains that you had your abilities, but they were all loaded into your old Power Suit, which had to be surgically removed. [[GrandTheftMe Then, the X Parasite took it over...]]
27th Apr '16 7:35:22 AM Morgenthaler
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[[folder:Film]]

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[[folder:Film]][[folder:Films -- Animated]]



* This happens all the time to any source of light in ''Film/DarknessFalls''.



[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* This happens all the time to any source of light in ''Film/DarknessFalls''.



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7th Dec '15 10:05:12 AM Hossmeister
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* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney: Trials and Tribulations'', Phoenix bravely and perhaps stupidly attempts to cross a burning bridge to save Maya, only to have it collapse when he is half way across. He is sent plunging into an incredibly deadly river only to survive with little more than a head cold. But this accident ultimately leads to a major break in the case.

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* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney: Trials and Tribulations'', ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyTrialsAndTribulations'', Phoenix bravely and perhaps stupidly attempts to cross a burning bridge to save Maya, only to have it collapse when he is half way across. He is sent plunging into an incredibly deadly river only to survive with little more than a head cold. But this accident ultimately leads to a major break in the case.
29th Jul '15 9:47:56 PM ecuvulle6267
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* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'':
** Jean's maneuver gear malfunctions while he's attempting to escape two Titans in Episode 12. He immediately notes [[LampshadeHanging the timing of it.]]
** [[spoiler:Eren is unable to transform in Episode 24 after finding out that Annie is the Female Titan, despite her shifting right in front of him. It takes Mikasa, Armin, and Jean (only Mikasa and Armin in the manga) to help him find his resolve and shift.]]
6th Jul '15 5:48:51 PM Atreides
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* In ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', the Millennium Falcon's HYPER Drive systems refuse to work for nearly the whole film which means they can't easily escape the Imperial Fleet like everyone else, [[ForWantOfANail leading to their eventual capture, which requires Luke to divert from his training early to save them leading to his defeat by Vader and Han's capture by Fett.]] Basically if it had worked there wouldn't be any danger in the film at all past the quarter point.

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* In ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', the Millennium Falcon's HYPER Drive systems refuse to work for nearly the whole film which means they can't easily escape the Imperial Fleet like everyone else, [[ForWantOfANail leading to their eventual capture, which requires Luke to divert from his training early to save them leading to his defeat by Vader and Han's capture by Fett.]] Basically if it had worked there wouldn't be any danger in the film at all past the quarter point. Of course, YMMV on this one. The initial failure is justified by Han's shoestring and glue approach to ship maintenance, plus having to evacuate Hoth in the middle of repairs. After leaving Cloud City, the next failure is due to Imperial sabotage.
1st Jul '15 4:35:59 PM nombretomado
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* In the reimagined ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' episode ''Act of Contrition'', a recon drone kills 13 pilots when its restraints come off seemingly on their own. It's some tragic TruthInTelevision, as this exact same incident had happened in reality with missiles being shuffled to their aircraft on aircraft carriers falling to the deck and going kablooie. A character in the episode even says "I know it's hard to hear, but we were lucky. If that had been a ''missile...''"

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* In the reimagined ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'' episode ''Act "Act of Contrition'', Contrition", a recon drone kills 13 pilots when its restraints come off seemingly on their own. It's some tragic TruthInTelevision, as this exact same incident had happened in reality with missiles being shuffled to their aircraft on aircraft carriers falling to the deck and going kablooie. A character in the episode even says "I know it's hard to hear, but we were lucky. If that had been a ''missile...''"
15th Jun '15 4:42:06 AM MattII
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** Sometimes, ''Franchise/StarTrek'' couldn't think up a reason for the transporter to not be working, or at least for the crew to not come down in a shuttlecraft. So half the time, it wasn't just that the transporters were down; the communicators wouldn't work either, or had been stolen.

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** Sometimes, ''Franchise/StarTrek'' couldn't think up a reason for the transporter to not be working, or at least for the crew to not come down in a shuttlecraft. So half the time, it wasn't just that the transporters were down; the communicators wouldn't work either, or had been stolen. stolen.
** Also happens with the warp drive, or more commonly, the holodecks, the latter being lampshaded by O'Brien in one episode of DS9.
21st Mar '15 10:07:53 PM redandready45
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* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'': In an Orange Islands episode, Ash accidentally breaks Snorlax's Pokeball. It's lampshaded how dumb that is. The good news is that there is a Pokemon Center. Bad news it's on the other side of a mountain, which means that Ash and his friends have to carry the sleeping giant up a mountain to get there. HilarityEnsues.
14th Feb '15 7:52:31 PM Blazer
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* In ''Anime/SailorMoon R'''s FillerArc, Usagi's Moon Tiara Magic craps out during a monster fight, requiring the other Sailor Guardians to save the day. When it happens again, leading to her being BroughtDownToNormal, Usagi and Luna both realize it's because her IJustWantToBeNormal mindset has caused it.
23rd Jan '15 8:53:14 PM merotoker
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->'''The Doctor:''' Yeah, you never [[PrecisionFStrike fucking]] know the answer when it's important.

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->'''The Doctor:''' Yeah, you never [[PrecisionFStrike fucking]] fucking know the answer when it's important.



It seems that even the most prepared of heroes can have their sword shatter, axle break, fuel run out, energy pack go flat or engine overheat, regardless of how well they prepared for the journey or the top-grade equipment they bought. Or a bridge or section of the cave roof will collapse at a convenient time with no apparent reason. When this inexplicable breakdown causes plot development, the item can be said to have suffered a PlotDrivenBreakdown.

Plot Driven Breakdowns occur when a breakdown:

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It seems that even the most prepared of heroes can have their sword shatter, axle break, fuel run out, energy pack go flat or engine overheat, regardless of how well they prepared for the journey or the top-grade equipment they bought. Or a bridge or section of the cave roof will collapse at a convenient time with no apparent reason. When this inexplicable breakdown causes plot development, the item can be said to have suffered a PlotDrivenBreakdown.

Plot Driven
Plot-Driven Breakdown.

Plot-Driven
Breakdowns occur when a breakdown:



* In mecha anime ''GundamWing'', Trowa's BFG arsenal on his Gundam tended to run out of ammunition at some point in a major engagement.

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* In mecha anime ''GundamWing'', ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'', Trowa's BFG arsenal on his Gundam tended to run out of ammunition at some point in a major engagement.



* This is usually the reason that TeenGenius Susumu's experiments fail on ''WandabaStyle''. The very first and the third are for the "no discernible reason" variety, but the others are generally due to outside interference (a fight between his pilots damages the ship, a character falls from ATwinkleInTheSky onto the electric grid, etc.). The last part of the episode is spent trying to find a way to fix the problem and not die in the process.
* In ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', Simon is unable to pilot Gurren Lagann properly in episode 9, dealing with the ''huge'' impact of [[spoiler: His blood brother Kamina's tragic demise]]. His mech is powered by Spiral Energy, which is generated through determination- but Simon is a complete wreck, causing him to get so upset in battle he loses control of Gurren Lagann to the point he ''pukes''. Which generates Spiral Energy out of Lagann's mouth in way similar to puke. This worsens to the point Lagann by itself refuses to listen to him. Until Simon overcomes his grief in a blockbuster manner several episodes later and returns with a vengeance.

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* This is usually the reason that TeenGenius Susumu's experiments fail on ''WandabaStyle''.''Anime/WandabaStyle''. The very first and the third are for the "no discernible reason" variety, but the others are generally due to outside interference (a fight between his pilots damages the ship, a character falls from ATwinkleInTheSky onto the electric grid, etc.). The last part of the episode is spent trying to find a way to fix the problem and not die in the process.
* In ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', Simon is unable to pilot Gurren Lagann properly in episode 9, dealing with the ''huge'' impact of [[spoiler: His blood brother Kamina's tragic demise]]. His mech is powered by Spiral Energy, which is generated through determination- but Simon is a complete wreck, causing him to get so upset in battle he loses control of Gurren Lagann to the point he ''pukes''. Which generates Spiral Energy out of Lagann's mouth in way similar to puke. This worsens to the point Lagann by itself refuses to listen to him. Until Simon overcomes his grief in a blockbuster manner several episodes later and returns with a vengeance.



* Possibly the TropeMaker is {{Spiderman}}'s Web Shooters, which can be guaranteed to run out of fluid whenever it's vitally needed to catch the villain (or run away, depending on the situation), forcing Spidey either improvise or (as was the case with the Green Goblin a lot) let the bad guy get away. Even when he finally wised up and started keeping spare fluid packs in his suit, that didn't stop the fluid from running out (and having to be changed) at the worst possible time. It's {{lampshade}}d. A lot.
** As a side note, the recent movies and the several alternate continuities avert this by having the webbing be organic...except in the second movie, where a crisis of confidence shorts out his powers.

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* Possibly the TropeMaker {{Trope Maker|s}} is {{Spiderman}}'s Franchise/SpiderMan's Web Shooters, which can be guaranteed to run out of fluid whenever it's vitally needed to catch the villain (or run away, depending on the situation), forcing Spidey to either improvise or (as was the case with the Green Goblin a lot) let the bad guy get away. Even when he finally wised up and started keeping spare fluid packs in his suit, that didn't stop the fluid from running out (and having to be changed) at the worst possible time. It's {{lampshade}}d. {{lampshade|Hanging}}d. A lot.
**
lot. As a side note, the recent movies and the several alternate continuities avert this by having the webbing be organic...except in [[Film/SpiderMan2 the second movie, movie]], where a crisis of confidence shorts out his powers.



* In the 2007 ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' film, Leonardo suffers one of these in his rooftop fight with Raphael. Being the Turtle with the most ''technical'' skill, one would think he'd know better than to leave his katana locked in Raphael's sai - a weapon designed to ''trap'' and ''break'' swords. And upon the inevitable break, one would expect him to have a better reaction than to stare numbly at the snapped-off handles until Raph kicks him to the ground. This is probably because the key problem of the film (unity among the Turtles) would have been made ''worse'' if Leonardo had won the fight. Raphael is not the sort to be [[DefeatMeansFriendship humbled]] by defeat and may have estranged himself.

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* In the 2007 ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' film, ''WesternAnimation/{{TMNT}}'', Leonardo suffers one of these in his rooftop fight with Raphael. Being the Turtle with the most ''technical'' skill, one would think he'd know better than to leave his katana locked in Raphael's sai - a weapon designed to ''trap'' and ''break'' swords. And upon the inevitable break, one would expect him to have a better reaction than to stare numbly at the snapped-off handles until Raph kicks him to the ground. This is probably because the key problem of the film (unity among the Turtles) would have been made ''worse'' if Leonardo had won the fight. Raphael is not the sort to be [[DefeatMeansFriendship humbled]] by defeat and may have estranged himself.



* ''Film/TopGun'': During the climactic dogfight, the aircraft carrier's catapult breaks down without warning, preventing the launch of any more planes to assist the heroes, and forcing Maverick to overcome his traumatic fears.
** Made especially bad by fact that they have redundant systems in reality for exactly this reason.
* In ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', the transporter malfunction that kills Science Officer Sonak is not foreshadowed in any way. It was initially though that Leonard Nimoy would [[IAmNotSpock not be reprising his role as Spock]], but when he agreed to return, Sonak had to be removed.
** It's not ''quite'' true that the malfunction wasn't foreshadowed at all; there had been at least two scenes prior to it in which characters had pointed out that the Enterprise had just undergone a major refit and wasn't ready for launch. (Plus, Nimoy had already agreed to return before they even started filming, so there was no need to "remove" a character who hadn't even existed on-screen yet; they could just as easily have killed off a random redshirt, or dropped both Sonak and the transporter scene entirely.)
* Subverted in DoubleIndemnity, when Walter and Phyllis are unable to start their getaway car the first few times they turn the key. But then the engine turns over, they get away, and the temporary malfunction never affects the plot.
* In TheEmpireStrikesBack, the Millennium Falcon's HYPER Drive systems refuse to work for nearly the whole film which means they can't easily escape the Imperial Fleet like everyone else, [[ForWantOfANail leading to their eventual capture, which requires Luke to divert from his training early to save them leading to his defeat by Vader and Han's capture by Fett.]] Basically if it had worked there wouldn't be any danger in the film at all past the quarter point.
* In ''Film/ItHappenedOneNight'', the hero's car breaks down, just as he was to reach his LoveInterest and resolve their ThirdActMisunderstanding.

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* ''Film/TopGun'': During the climactic dogfight, the aircraft carrier's catapult breaks down without warning, preventing the launch of any more planes to assist the heroes, and forcing Maverick to overcome his traumatic fears.
**
fears. Made especially bad by fact that they have redundant systems in reality for exactly this reason.
* In ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', the transporter malfunction that kills Science Officer Sonak is not foreshadowed in any way. Sonak. It was initially though thought that Leonard Nimoy Creator/LeonardNimoy would [[IAmNotSpock not be reprising his role as Spock]], but when he agreed to return, Sonak had to be removed.
** It's not ''quite'' true that the
removed. The malfunction wasn't was only foreshadowed at all; there had been at least two by prior scenes prior to it in which characters had pointed out that the Enterprise had just undergone a major refit and wasn't ready for launch. (Plus, Nimoy had already agreed to return before they even started filming, so there was no need to "remove" a character who hadn't even existed on-screen yet; they could just as easily have killed off a random redshirt, or dropped both Sonak and the transporter scene entirely.)
* Subverted in DoubleIndemnity, ''Film/DoubleIndemnity'', when Walter and Phyllis are unable to start their getaway car the first few times they turn the key. But then the engine turns over, they get away, and the temporary malfunction never affects the plot.
* In TheEmpireStrikesBack, ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', the Millennium Falcon's HYPER Drive systems refuse to work for nearly the whole film which means they can't easily escape the Imperial Fleet like everyone else, [[ForWantOfANail leading to their eventual capture, which requires Luke to divert from his training early to save them leading to his defeat by Vader and Han's capture by Fett.]] Basically if it had worked there wouldn't be any danger in the film at all past the quarter point.
* In ''Film/ItHappenedOneNight'', the hero's car breaks down, just as he was to reach his LoveInterest {{Love Interest|s}} and resolve their ThirdActMisunderstanding.
ThirdActMisunderstanding.



* The [[GrapplingHookPistol Maghook grappling guns]], from MatthewReilly's books. After being reliable in the first couple of books, in ''Scarecrow'', TheBigGuy (so to speak) finally comes across a situation where the Maghook happens to be out of propellant, and thinks "Come on! That never happens with TheHero." And then in the next paragraph, TheHero has ''his'' Maghook run out of propellant.

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* The [[GrapplingHookPistol Maghook grappling guns]], from MatthewReilly's Creator/MatthewReilly's books. After being reliable in the first couple of books, in ''Scarecrow'', TheBigGuy (so to speak) finally comes across a situation where the Maghook happens to be out of propellant, and thinks "Come on! That never happens with TheHero." And then in the next paragraph, TheHero has ''his'' Maghook run out of propellant.



** It seems the network asked Moore to add some joy and happiness to the show. The pilots certainly are happy. Just as they blow up. Then, the network stoped asking for things.

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** It seems the network asked Moore to add some joy and happiness to the show. The pilots certainly are happy. Just as they blow up. Then, the network stoped stopped asking for things.



* In ''{{Smallville}}'', if Clark is being snuck up on and is about to be attacked in such a way as to expose his invulnerability to a regular character that doesn't know his secret, you can count on a coincidental chunk of Kryptonite popping up to make him vulnerable, or he didn't have his powers anyway. This could be more easily averted if the writers understood how Clark's super-hearing actually works and had him playing possum to protect his secret.
* Who can forget the Transporter from ''Franchise/StarTrek''? Whenever they need to make a hasty retreat or get stuff to the surface immediately, there's always "too much atmospheric interference".

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* In ''{{Smallville}}'', ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', if Clark is being snuck up on and is about to be attacked in such a way as to expose his invulnerability to a regular character that doesn't know his secret, you can count on a coincidental chunk of Kryptonite popping up to make him vulnerable, or he didn't have his powers anyway. This could be more easily averted if the writers understood how Clark's super-hearing actually works and had him playing possum to protect his secret.
* Who can forget the The Transporter from ''Franchise/StarTrek''? ''Franchise/StarTrek''. Whenever they need to make a hasty retreat or get stuff to the surface immediately, there's always "too much atmospheric interference".



* This trope occurs in the pilot episode for ''{{Porridge}}'', after Fletcher pees into the petroltank of a prison van.
** Not really an example, as he caused the breakdown deliberately.



* Similary the FATE role-playing system. Almost any sort of breakdown, including guns running out of ammunition, only happens when it's dramatically useful. On the other hand, the [[LuckManipulationMechanic Fate Point]] economy means that the PLAYER may frequently suggest such breakdowns to the GM in order to get HeroPoints to spend elsewhere.
** There's also a specific stunt, [[OneBulletLeft One Shot Left]] that lets the player declare their gun is out of ammo in return for a bonus that guarantees the last shot will be plot-appropriately spectacular.

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* Similary Similarly the FATE role-playing system. Almost any sort of breakdown, including guns running out of ammunition, only happens when it's dramatically useful. On the other hand, the [[LuckManipulationMechanic Fate Point]] economy means that the PLAYER may frequently suggest such breakdowns to the GM in order to get HeroPoints to spend elsewhere.
**
elsewhere. There's also a specific stunt, [[OneBulletLeft One Shot Left]] that lets the player declare their gun is out of ammo in return for a bonus that guarantees the last shot will be plot-appropriately spectacular.



* In ''GearsOfWar'' you can expect to be unable to access the Hammer of Dawn whenever a boss fight breaks out.
** Except when you ''need'' the Hammer of Dawn to hurt it. Then there will be like ''six'' of them scattered around (despite the fact that you can't carry a second one, it never runs out of ammo in Campaign, and you can only play Co-Op with one other person).

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* In ''GearsOfWar'' ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'' you can expect to be unable to access the Hammer of Dawn whenever a boss fight breaks out.
**
out. Except when you ''need'' the Hammer of Dawn to hurt it. Then there will be like ''six'' of them scattered around (despite the fact that you can't carry a second one, it never runs out of ammo in Campaign, and you can only play Co-Op with one other person).



* This trope seems to happen in every ''{{Metroid}}'' game. Samus' powerups always malfunction or disappear somewhere whenever she needs them.
** Typically, this happens offscreen between games. However, the first two ''MetroidPrime'' games [[TasteOfPower start you off with some items]] but have you lose them early on, to a reactor explosion and some thieving Ing, respectively. ''[[MetroidOtherM Other M]]'' instead has you in possession of all your items but unable to use them for plot-related reasons--not a malfunction, strictly speaking, but it serves the same purpose.

to:

* This trope seems to happen in every ''{{Metroid}}'' ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' game. Samus' powerups always malfunction or disappear somewhere whenever she needs them.
**
them. Typically, this happens offscreen between games. However, the first two ''MetroidPrime'' ''VideoGame/{{Metroid Prime|Trilogy}}'' games [[TasteOfPower start you off with some items]] but have you lose them early on, to a reactor explosion and some thieving Ing, respectively. ''[[MetroidOtherM ''[[VideoGame/MetroidOtherM Other M]]'' instead has you in possession of all your items but unable to use them for plot-related reasons--not a malfunction, strictly speaking, but it serves the same purpose.



* ''WesternAnimation/{{Captain N|TheGameMaster}}''. It doesn't matter if he just left the palace and walked through the main gates, or if he's traveled to fourteen different worlds and then fought through 7 stages of deadly, monster-infested secret passages, his zapper/pad WILL run out of power the moment he has to fight Mother Brain.
** Actually that didn't happen that much, but it was an easy out for the writers to force the heroes to retreat and fight another day.
* ''InspectorGadget'' is a walking example of this trope. He might define it better than Spider-Man does. Most of his Gadgets don't work well anyway. Although sometimes using the wrong gadget saves the day.

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* ''WesternAnimation/{{Captain N|TheGameMaster}}''. It doesn't matter if he just left the palace and walked through the main gates, or if he's traveled to fourteen different worlds and then fought through 7 stages of deadly, monster-infested secret passages, his zapper/pad WILL run out of power the moment he has to fight Mother Brain.
** Actually that
Brain. it didn't happen that much, but it was an easy out for the writers to force the heroes to retreat and fight another day.
* ''InspectorGadget'' WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget is a walking example of this trope. He might define it better than Spider-Man does. Most of his Gadgets don't work well anyway. Although sometimes using the wrong gadget saves the day.



* This trope is the reason [[ScoobyDoo Scooby]] and the gang ever got anything done.
** The Mystery Machine is prone to this, it's usually the reason the gang is stuck having to solve a mystery in some out of the way locations.
** In one episode of ''Mystery Inc'', they get stuck because ''someone stole the Mystery Machine's engine while they weren't looking.''
* [[WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}} Ben Tennyson's]] Omnitrix [[WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce never works right]]. [[Ben10UltimateAlien Even when it's upgraded]].
** Although it's implied that the Omnitrix/Ultimatrix is semi-sentient, and gives Ben unexpected transformations as a way of saying "Here, exercise your strategy instead of using the obvious solution". Though all too often it ends up giving him a transformation that ends up putting him in extra danger, instead, like giving him Rath when he's facing an opponent who can mind control cats, or during the Khyber story arc when the Omnitrix refused to transform into anything other than things that Khyber's hound could actively counter.

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* This trope is the reason [[ScoobyDoo Scooby]] Franchise/{{Scooby|Doo}} and the gang ever got anything done.
**
done. The Mystery Machine is prone to this, this; it's usually the reason the gang is stuck having to solve a mystery in some out of the way locations.
**
locations. In one episode of ''Mystery Inc'', they get stuck because ''someone stole the Mystery Machine's engine while they weren't looking.''
* [[WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}} Ben Tennyson's]] Omnitrix [[WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce never works right]]. [[Ben10UltimateAlien [[WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien Even when it's upgraded]].
**
upgraded]]. Although it's implied that the Omnitrix/Ultimatrix is semi-sentient, and gives Ben unexpected transformations as a way of saying "Here, exercise your strategy instead of using the obvious solution". Though all too often it ends up giving him a transformation that ends up putting him in extra danger, instead, like giving him Rath when he's facing an opponent who can mind control cats, or during the Khyber story arc when the Omnitrix refused to transform into anything other than things that Khyber's hound could actively counter.



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