History Main / SelectivelyLethalWeapon

3rd Nov '13 6:42:40 AM morenohijazo
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Sometimes a character has one weapon, that regardless of how it's used, and how improbable it would be, can be either lethal or nonlethal. They throw one, and it cuts through a steel cable, next throw, it knocks someone out without even drawing blood. This is the "selectively lethal weapon", a weapon that should be either always lethal, or always [[NonlethalWarfare nonlethal]], but somehow manages to be a bit of both, usually with no, or an extremely tenuous explanation.
Contrast with StunGuns, which are something a bit different.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Being able to invoke this is actually an important ability for [[MasterSwordsman swordsmen]] in ''OnePiece''. Namely, when a swordsman gains the ability to "hear the breath of all things", they can use it to harm only the things that they want to harm, while leaving what they don't want to destroy untouched(Zoro's sensei managed to slice at a sheet of paper without damaging it, and Zoro himself swipes his sword through a branch full of leaves without harming a thing when he figures it out). This is important because being able to do it is necessary for being able to cut steel.
* In ''LightNovel/{{Durarara}}'', Celty can manifest a massive scythe that can cut through anything she chooses, possibly including souls. However, she's the nicest character on the show, so when she cuts people, they just fall unconscious.
* In ''Anime/KirbyOfTheStars'', Kirby's Crash ability does not harm his friends, only demon beasts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:ComicBooks]]
* [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Batarangs]] qualify, at times sharp enough to cut steel, other times they only knock you out. Occasionally they blow up in your face.
** Batman probably does have more than one type.
*** ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' does give you multiple types of Batarang, one of which will short circuit the electronic collars the goons are wearing.
** A diagram in one book showed that the front "round part" is hard and blunt, perfect for knocking thugs out. The back part with all the spiky bits is razor sharp. Batman can throw it so that whichever end he wants strikes the target.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''[[Film/SpiderManTrilogy Spider-Man 3]]'' has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:{{Literature}}]]
* The titular ''SwordOfTruth'' works this way - the sword can only cut if the wielder believes the target is an enemy [[spoiler:except in its super-mode that he unlocks near the end of the first book]]. The [[AWizardDidIt wizard]] who gave Richard the sword stresses that the user doesn't have to be ''right'' in their beliefs, they merely have to believe. Which is why wizards agonize over who gets the title that the sword goes with.
* Deconstructed in ''Literature/NightWatch''. The "White Blade" is a powerful Light Side spell, that forms a blazing sword that is supposed to only harm evil people. On practice, however, "you'd have to spend a decade meditating and aspiring for inner peace before the blade would spare you". So when the heroes are assaulted by a bunch of Mind controlled human puppets, and one of the younger mages uses the Blade, it mows down the humans, and the mage cannot bear with what he's done and dies.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:LiveActionTelevision]]
* [[Series/XenaWarriorPrincess Xena's]] Chakram: it often went from blunt enough to KO gangs of mooks to being able to slice through armor... occasionally in the same episode. Occasionally in the same ''throw.''
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' phasers justify this with having multiple intensities, including a stun setting. Although some have noticed a tendency, regardless of other circumstances, for the lethality of phasers to be inversely proportional to the importance of the character they're being fired at.
* Used in-universe with the "zat guns" of ''Series/StargateSG1'': one shot stuns, two shots kill, [[CanonDiscontinuity three shots disintegrate]].
* Egregious use in {{PowerRangers}} where in one case a bunch of "monstrous" villains were killed but the few human-looking ones were turned good, by the same same attack blast.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:TabletopGames]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' has merciful weapons that are enchanted to deal an extra 1d6 damage, but have all the damage nonlethal. This ability can be switched on and off as a free action, and KO'd enemies can be killed at your leisure, so there's not even a drawback. Other weapons can be used to deal nonlethal damage, but at a penalty to accuracy. And just to round out the trope, normally nonlethal weapons can take this same accuracy penalty to deal lethal damage.
** In the [[BaseBreaker 4th Edition]] you can declare any attack to be retroactively non-lethal, up to and including a ''disintegrate'' spell.
* In ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'', the Children of Gaia, a tribe of pacifists, have a spell that somehow turns their teeth and claws into nonlethal damage, allowing them to take down enemies with full force but avoid killing them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:VideoGames]]
* The Crusader's Crossbow equippable by the Medic in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' heals allies and damages enemies. Which makes it hilarious to fire into the melee on the 3rd point in Medieval Mode.
* The eponymous [[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Sword of Seals]] is, evidently, only as strong as the resolve of its wielder. When Hartmut, one of the generals of [[GreatOffscreenWar The Scouring]], found that the leader of the dragons had assumed the form of a frail girl, he didn't have the heart to kill her outright, opting instead to knock her out with the sword, and sealing her away.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' has the Ultima Weapon, a sword that has the highest possible attack power (255), but does damage based on its wielder's current HP. It also has the Valiant Knife, which works in reverse - it grows stronger as the difference between the wielder's current HP and max HP gets bigger.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:WesternAnimation]]
* Sokka's boomerang in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' is similar to the above Batman example. While it is used to cut and knock out, Sokka is often shown to be sharpening one edge of it while leaving the other edge dull. It can be assumed he chooses which side to throw it on.
* WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack has a magical sword which will not harm those pure of heart - on the occasion where it was used against him, it merely bounced off, and when stolen and used against others, the best it can do is knock people away.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' did a ''nice'' [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar dodge]] on this trope. Early on, [[TheCaptain Zachary]] would sometimes explicitly order his team to "set blasters for stun." Later in the series, when they were trying to score a toy deal, they had a crook say that Ranger blasters didn't have a kill setting. Now, seeing as the source of the information was a ''very'' [[UnreliableNarrator dumb crook]], the writers could both have the kid-friendly "stun only" mention on camera and a wink to the more likely prospect that there was a kill setting. Likewise, Crown blasters also had stun and kill settings, but it was justified in that the Queen wanted humans (or other compatable species) as fodder for [[FateWorseThanDeath the Psychocrypt]], and you couldn't drain LifeEnergy from dead enemies.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/SpidermanTheAnimatedSeries'', Doctor Octopus crashes a public demonstration of "argon laser", gets the upper hand against Spider-Man's attempt to stop him, and turns the beam on Spidey as he pins the superhero to the wall -- only for Spider-Man to realize how the beam was [[JustifiedTrope specifically programmed]] to not harm organic matter; Spider-Man suffers only a little ClothingDamage as the beam lases across him before turning the tables and using it to slice off two of Doc Ock's four robotic arms.
* Identity Discs in ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising''. However, it's shown that they can thrown without activating the lethal cutting edge, for non-lethal sparring.
[[/folder]]
----

to:

Sometimes a character has one weapon, that regardless of how it's used, and how improbable it would be, can be either lethal or nonlethal. They throw one, and it cuts through a steel cable, next throw, it knocks someone out without even drawing blood. This is the "selectively lethal weapon", a weapon that should be either always lethal, or always [[NonlethalWarfare nonlethal]], but somehow manages to be a bit of both, usually with no, or an extremely tenuous explanation.
Contrast with StunGuns, which are something a bit different.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Being able to invoke this is actually an important ability for [[MasterSwordsman swordsmen]] in ''OnePiece''. Namely, when a swordsman gains the ability to "hear the breath of all things", they can use it to harm only the things that they want to harm, while leaving what they don't want to destroy untouched(Zoro's sensei managed to slice at a sheet of paper without damaging it, and Zoro himself swipes his sword through a branch full of leaves without harming a thing when he figures it out). This is important because being able to do it is necessary for being able to cut steel.
* In ''LightNovel/{{Durarara}}'', Celty can manifest a massive scythe that can cut through anything she chooses, possibly including souls. However, she's the nicest character on the show, so when she cuts people, they just fall unconscious.
* In ''Anime/KirbyOfTheStars'', Kirby's Crash ability does not harm his friends, only demon beasts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:ComicBooks]]
* [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Batarangs]] qualify, at times sharp enough to cut steel, other times they only knock you out. Occasionally they blow up in your face.
** Batman probably does have more than one type.
*** ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' does give you multiple types of Batarang, one of which will short circuit the electronic collars the goons are wearing.
** A diagram in one book showed that the front "round part" is hard and blunt, perfect for knocking thugs out. The back part with all the spiky bits is razor sharp. Batman can throw it so that whichever end he wants strikes the target.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''[[Film/SpiderManTrilogy Spider-Man 3]]'' has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:{{Literature}}]]
* The titular ''SwordOfTruth'' works this way - the sword can only cut if the wielder believes the target is an enemy [[spoiler:except in its super-mode that he unlocks near the end of the first book]]. The [[AWizardDidIt wizard]] who gave Richard the sword stresses that the user doesn't have to be ''right'' in their beliefs, they merely have to believe. Which is why wizards agonize over who gets the title that the sword goes with.
* Deconstructed in ''Literature/NightWatch''. The "White Blade" is a powerful Light Side spell, that forms a blazing sword that is supposed to only harm evil people. On practice, however, "you'd have to spend a decade meditating and aspiring for inner peace before the blade would spare you". So when the heroes are assaulted by a bunch of Mind controlled human puppets, and one of the younger mages uses the Blade, it mows down the humans, and the mage cannot bear with what he's done and dies.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:LiveActionTelevision]]
* [[Series/XenaWarriorPrincess Xena's]] Chakram: it often went from blunt enough to KO gangs of mooks to being able to slice through armor... occasionally in the same episode. Occasionally in the same ''throw.''
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' phasers justify this with having multiple intensities, including a stun setting. Although some have noticed a tendency, regardless of other circumstances, for the lethality of phasers to be inversely proportional to the importance of the character they're being fired at.
* Used in-universe with the "zat guns" of ''Series/StargateSG1'': one shot stuns, two shots kill, [[CanonDiscontinuity three shots disintegrate]].
* Egregious use in {{PowerRangers}} where in one case a bunch of "monstrous" villains were killed but the few human-looking ones were turned good, by the same same attack blast.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:TabletopGames]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' has merciful weapons that are enchanted to deal an extra 1d6 damage, but have all the damage nonlethal. This ability can be switched on and off as a free action, and KO'd enemies can be killed at your leisure, so there's not even a drawback. Other weapons can be used to deal nonlethal damage, but at a penalty to accuracy. And just to round out the trope, normally nonlethal weapons can take this same accuracy penalty to deal lethal damage.
** In the [[BaseBreaker 4th Edition]] you can declare any attack to be retroactively non-lethal, up to and including a ''disintegrate'' spell.
* In ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'', the Children of Gaia, a tribe of pacifists, have a spell that somehow turns their teeth and claws into nonlethal damage, allowing them to take down enemies with full force but avoid killing them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:VideoGames]]
* The Crusader's Crossbow equippable by the Medic in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' heals allies and damages enemies. Which makes it hilarious to fire into the melee on the 3rd point in Medieval Mode.
* The eponymous [[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Sword of Seals]] is, evidently, only as strong as the resolve of its wielder. When Hartmut, one of the generals of [[GreatOffscreenWar The Scouring]], found that the leader of the dragons had assumed the form of a frail girl, he didn't have the heart to kill her outright, opting instead to knock her out with the sword, and sealing her away.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' has the Ultima Weapon, a sword that has the highest possible attack power (255), but does damage based on its wielder's current HP. It also has the Valiant Knife, which works in reverse - it grows stronger as the difference between the wielder's current HP and max HP gets bigger.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:WesternAnimation]]
* Sokka's boomerang in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' is similar to the above Batman example. While it is used to cut and knock out, Sokka is often shown to be sharpening one edge of it while leaving the other edge dull. It can be assumed he chooses which side to throw it on.
* WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack has a magical sword which will not harm those pure of heart - on the occasion where it was used against him, it merely bounced off, and when stolen and used against others, the best it can do is knock people away.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' did a ''nice'' [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar dodge]] on this trope. Early on, [[TheCaptain Zachary]] would sometimes explicitly order his team to "set blasters for stun." Later in the series, when they were trying to score a toy deal, they had a crook say that Ranger blasters didn't have a kill setting. Now, seeing as the source of the information was a ''very'' [[UnreliableNarrator dumb crook]], the writers could both have the kid-friendly "stun only" mention on camera and a wink to the more likely prospect that there was a kill setting. Likewise, Crown blasters also had stun and kill settings, but it was justified in that the Queen wanted humans (or other compatable species) as fodder for [[FateWorseThanDeath the Psychocrypt]], and you couldn't drain LifeEnergy from dead enemies.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/SpidermanTheAnimatedSeries'', Doctor Octopus crashes a public demonstration of "argon laser", gets the upper hand against Spider-Man's attempt to stop him, and turns the beam on Spidey as he pins the superhero to the wall -- only for Spider-Man to realize how the beam was [[JustifiedTrope specifically programmed]] to not harm organic matter; Spider-Man suffers only a little ClothingDamage as the beam lases across him before turning the tables and using it to slice off two of Doc Ock's four robotic arms.
* Identity Discs in ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising''. However, it's shown that they can thrown without activating the lethal cutting edge, for non-lethal sparring.
[[/folder]]
----
[[redirect:AsLethalAsItNeedsToBe]]
29th Aug '13 4:10:58 AM ricjac
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* Used in-universe with the "zat guns" of ''{{Series/StargateSG-1}}'': one shot stuns, two shots kill, [[CanonDiscontinuity three shots disintegrate]].

to:

* Used in-universe with the "zat guns" of ''{{Series/StargateSG-1}}'': ''Series/StargateSG1'': one shot stuns, two shots kill, [[CanonDiscontinuity three shots disintegrate]].
31st May '13 7:11:15 AM russianspy1234
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Added DiffLines:

* Egregious use in {{PowerRangers}} where in one case a bunch of "monstrous" villains were killed but the few human-looking ones were turned good, by the same same attack blast.
26th Apr '13 12:04:37 AM PyroWildcat
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Sometimes a character has one weapon, that regardless of how it used, and how improbable it would be, can be either lethal or nonlethal. They throw one, and it cuts through a steel cable, next throw, it knocks someone out without even drawing blood. This is the "selectively lethal weapon", a weapon that should be either always lethal, or always [[NonlethalWarfare nonlethal]], but somehow manages to be a bit of both, usually with no, or an extremely tenuous explanation.

to:

Sometimes a character has one weapon, that regardless of how it it's used, and how improbable it would be, can be either lethal or nonlethal. They throw one, and it cuts through a steel cable, next throw, it knocks someone out without even drawing blood. This is the "selectively lethal weapon", a weapon that should be either always lethal, or always [[NonlethalWarfare nonlethal]], but somehow manages to be a bit of both, usually with no, or an extremely tenuous explanation.



* In ''OnePiece'', Zoro's sensei is able to not cut paper.

to:

* In ''OnePiece'', Zoro's sensei is Being able to not invoke this is actually an important ability for [[MasterSwordsman swordsmen]] in ''OnePiece''. Namely, when a swordsman gains the ability to "hear the breath of all things", they can use it to harm only the things that they want to harm, while leaving what they don't want to destroy untouched(Zoro's sensei managed to slice at a sheet of paper without damaging it, and Zoro himself swipes his sword through a branch full of leaves without harming a thing when he figures it out). This is important because being able to do it is necessary for being able to cut paper.steel.
23rd Apr '13 11:01:09 PM Malimar
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Added DiffLines:

* Used in-universe with the "zat guns" of ''{{Series/StargateSG-1}}'': one shot stuns, two shots kill, [[CanonDiscontinuity three shots disintegrate]].
19th Apr '13 7:53:50 PM Jacob175
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* In ''KirbyOfTheStars'', Kirby's Crash ability does not harm his friends, only demon beasts.

to:

* In ''KirbyOfTheStars'', ''Anime/KirbyOfTheStars'', Kirby's Crash ability does not harm his friends, only demon beasts.
beasts.



* ''SpiderMan 3'' has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom.

to:

* ''SpiderMan 3'' ''[[Film/SpiderManTrilogy Spider-Man 3]]'' has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom.



* [[XenaWarriorPrincess Xena's]] Chakram: it often went from blunt enough to KO gangs of mooks to being able to slice through armor... occasionally in the same episode. Occasionally in the same ''throw.''

to:

* [[XenaWarriorPrincess [[Series/XenaWarriorPrincess Xena's]] Chakram: it often went from blunt enough to KO gangs of mooks to being able to slice through armor... occasionally in the same episode. Occasionally in the same ''throw.''



* ''DungeonsAndDragons'' has merciful weapons that are enchanted to deal an extra 1d6 damage, but have all the damage nonlethal. This ability can be switched on and off as a free action, and KO'd enemies can be killed at your leisure, so there's not even a drawback. Other weapons can be used to deal nonlethal damage, but at a penalty to accuracy. And just to round out the trope, normally nonlethal weapons can take this same accuracy penalty to deal lethal damage.

to:

* ''DungeonsAndDragons'' ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' has merciful weapons that are enchanted to deal an extra 1d6 damage, but have all the damage nonlethal. This ability can be switched on and off as a free action, and KO'd enemies can be killed at your leisure, so there's not even a drawback. Other weapons can be used to deal nonlethal damage, but at a penalty to accuracy. And just to round out the trope, normally nonlethal weapons can take this same accuracy penalty to deal lethal damage.



* The eponymous [[FireEmblemElibe Sword of Seals]] is, evidently, only as strong as the resolve of its wielder. When Hartmut, one of the generals of [[GreatOffscreenWar The Scouring]], found that the leader of the dragons had assumed the form of a frail girl, he didn't have the heart to kill her outright, opting instead to knock her out with the sword, and sealing her away.
* ''FinalFantasyVI'' has the Ultima Weapon, a sword that has the highest possible attack power (255), but does damage based on its wielder's current HP. It also has the Valiant Knife, which works in reverse - it grows stronger as the difference between the wielder's current HP and max HP gets bigger.

to:

* The eponymous [[FireEmblemElibe [[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Sword of Seals]] is, evidently, only as strong as the resolve of its wielder. When Hartmut, one of the generals of [[GreatOffscreenWar The Scouring]], found that the leader of the dragons had assumed the form of a frail girl, he didn't have the heart to kill her outright, opting instead to knock her out with the sword, and sealing her away.
* ''FinalFantasyVI'' ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' has the Ultima Weapon, a sword that has the highest possible attack power (255), but does damage based on its wielder's current HP. It also has the Valiant Knife, which works in reverse - it grows stronger as the difference between the wielder's current HP and max HP gets bigger.



* SamuraiJack has a magical sword which will not harm those pure of heart - on the occasion where it was used against him, it merely bounced off, and when stolen and used against others, the best it can do is knock people away.

to:

* SamuraiJack WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack has a magical sword which will not harm those pure of heart - on the occasion where it was used against him, it merely bounced off, and when stolen and used against others, the best it can do is knock people away.



* In one episode of ''SpidermanTheAnimatedSeries'', Doctor Octopus crashes a public demonstration of "argon laser", gets the upper hand against Spiderman's attempt to stop him, and turns the beam on Spidey as he pins the superhero to the wall -- only for Spiderman to realize how the beam was [[JustifiedTrope specifically programmed]] to not harm organic matter; Spiderman suffers only a little ClothingDamage as the beam lases across him before turning the tables and using it to slice off two of Doc Ock's four robotic arms.
* Identity Discs in ''[[TronUprising Tron: Uprising]]''. However, it's shown that they can thrown without activating the lethal cutting edge, for non-lethal sparring.

to:

* In one episode of ''SpidermanTheAnimatedSeries'', ''WesternAnimation/SpidermanTheAnimatedSeries'', Doctor Octopus crashes a public demonstration of "argon laser", gets the upper hand against Spiderman's Spider-Man's attempt to stop him, and turns the beam on Spidey as he pins the superhero to the wall -- only for Spiderman Spider-Man to realize how the beam was [[JustifiedTrope specifically programmed]] to not harm organic matter; Spiderman Spider-Man suffers only a little ClothingDamage as the beam lases across him before turning the tables and using it to slice off two of Doc Ock's four robotic arms.
* Identity Discs in ''[[TronUprising Tron: Uprising]]''.''WesternAnimation/TronUprising''. However, it's shown that they can thrown without activating the lethal cutting edge, for non-lethal sparring.
16th Feb '13 10:23:48 AM TVRulezAgain
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* [[{{Batman}} Batarangs]] qualify, at times sharp enough to cut steel, other times they only knock you out. Occasionally they blow up in your face.

to:

* [[{{Batman}} [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Batarangs]] qualify, at times sharp enough to cut steel, other times they only knock you out. Occasionally they blow up in your face.



*** ''BatmanArkhamAsylum'' does give you multiple types of Batarang, one of which will short circuit the electronic collars the goons are wearing.

to:

*** ''BatmanArkhamAsylum'' ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' does give you multiple types of Batarang, one of which will short circuit the electronic collars the goons are wearing.
16th Jan '13 1:18:38 PM KingSonnDeeDoo
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Added DiffLines:

* Identity Discs in ''[[TronUprising Tron: Uprising]]''. However, it's shown that they can thrown without activating the lethal cutting edge, for non-lethal sparring.
15th Jan '13 8:42:00 PM Pseudodino
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to:

* In ''KirbyOfTheStars'', Kirby's Crash ability does not harm his friends, only demon beasts.
7th Dec '12 8:39:05 AM Heffenfeffer
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[[folder::Film]]
* ''SpiderMan3'' has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom.

to:

[[folder::Film]]
[[folder:Film]]
* ''SpiderMan3'' ''SpiderMan 3'' has the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, which alternate between knocking Harry out, giving him amnesia, and vaporizing Venom.
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