Created By: Koveras on July 31, 2013 Last Edited By: Koveras on August 1, 2014
Troped

Underequipped Charge

A fearless character charges an overpowering enemy even without an appropriate weapon.

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Trope
When a character is so fearless or determined that, instead of fleeing, he attacks an overpowering enemy with a laughably underpowered weapon, such as charging a tank with a knife. This is often seen from soldiers (since they usually carry knives in addition to firearms), wherein upon facing an enemy way out of their league and possibly running out of ammo, they pull out their trusty melee Emergency Weapon.

Of course, unless The Cavalry enters the fray in that very moment (which it often does), it might very well cue a Dying Moment of Awesome.

Contrast Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight and Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight. May be the mark of a Proud Warrior Race Guy or a Determinator of any kind.

Examples:

Film
  • Carmen pulls a knife at a Brain Bug during the climax of Starship Troopers and actually manages to fend it off until Rico's squad arrives to extract her.
  • In Man of Steel, Colonel Hardy wastes his ammo shooting Faora, then proceeds to pull out a knife and charge her in melee, thus becoming the only human who earns her respect. Of course, Supes saves him just in time to avert his inevitable death at her hands.
  • Sergeant Calhoon in Wreck-It Ralph runs out of bullets in both her guns, covering the Sugar Rush inhabitants' escape, and is fully prepared to fight Cy-Bugs with her knife to prevent them from escaping that world.
  • Predator. The Magical Native American Billy throws down his assault rifle and pulls out a really big knife to fight the title monster in a You Shall Not Pass. It ends badly for him.
  • Near the end of When The Last Sword Is Drawn Yoshimura Kanichiro charges a company of musket-armed troops with only his katana and wakizashi. His last words before charging?
    "My honor compels me to fight!"
  • In the Biopic Lafayette about the US Revolutionary War general of the same name, he rallies his troops (who, due to supply shortages, are only given six bullets per soldier) with the following short speech:
    You only have six cartridges, but I have only my sword! Follow me!
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Captain Jack Sparrow, after being handcuffed to the ship the crew was abandoning by Elizabeth Swan, decided that he wouldn't be killed by the Kraken without a fight and choose to charge the behemoth with nothing but his cutlass. It didn't end well for him, but he returned from the dead in the sequel.
  • A little more than midway through The Last Samurai, Nobutada stays behind and to cover the retreat of his father Katsumoto and after running out of arrows, draws his swords and charges at his rifle-wielding enemies. He's repeatedly shot before he makes it close.

Literature
  • Ciaphas Cain series. The title character once charged a daemon of Khorne with nothing but a rusty bayonet and a vial of holy water (presumably people were watching, forcing him into HERO OF THE IMPERIUM mode, or the alternative was worse). Also invoked, in that his reputation is such that (in his own words) when he asks something of someone, "they'd rather take on a Carnifex with a broken chair leg than feel they'd let me down".
  • The Charge Of The Light Brigade, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, an fictionalized account of an actual battle in which a small cavalry detachment attempted to make a break in a line of heavy artillery, with devastating results.

Live-Action TV
  • In the season finale of Andromeda, Tyr and Harper are trapped in a room with Magog bearing down on them. Tyr fires his final shot at one then throws the gun at them and pulls out a large knife. He gives Harper one too, and together they prepare to face the Magog horde.

Video Games
  • Republic players in Star Wars: The Old Republic can meet Sergeant Jolis on Balmorra: a Sole Survivor of a fighter squadron who is now determined to come back and retrieve his comrade's black boxes from the overwhelming Imperial presence even though he basically needs instructions from his astromech droid on how to operate his blaster rifle properly.

Webcomics

Real Life
  • In May 2004, during the early days of the war in Iraq, a detachment from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders responded to a distress call from 8 British soldiers near Al Amara. But it was an ambush, and the 30 or so men were soon surrounded by more than 150 Iraqi militiamen. After three hours of fighting, their ammunition running low, the commander of the Scottish troops ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge the enemy positions. The Iraqis were completely taken by surprise; 28 were killed and the rest fled with the loss of only 2 Highlanders.

Will go under Bravery Tropes.
Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • July 31, 2013
    Chabal2
    • A game mechanic in Dawn Of War: all (Sword And Gun) infantry units have melee and ranged attacks, and can be switched between both. If a ranged-stance unit is attacked in melee, they will switch to melee unless told otherwise (this becomes a problem with Fire Warriors and early-game Guardsmen, whose melee attacks are laughable).
    • Ciaphas Cain once charged a daemon of Khorne with nothing but a rusty bayonet and a vial of holy water (presumably people were watching, forcing him into HERO OF THE IMPERIUM mode, or the alternative was worse). Also invoked, in that his reputation is such that (in his own words) when he asks something of someone, "they'd rather take on a Carnifex with a broken chair leg than feel they'd let me down".
  • July 31, 2013
    DracMonster
  • August 1, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
  • November 4, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • November 4, 2013
    Chabal2
    Warhammer 40 K: The Black Templars chapter of Space Marines has a rule where if a single man dies, the entire rest of his unit charges the enemy with swords. It causes no end of headaches for other Imperial commanders trying to coordinate multiple units.
  • November 4, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Not an example, as it sounds more like The Berserker than demonstrating courage in the face of overwhelming enemy.

    I also removed the Dawn of War example, since it doesn't involve fighting back fear (unless it has something to do with a Morale Mechanic?).
  • November 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Do you think this needs a better title? I do, but I'm not sure.
  • November 4, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    hmm, does this really warrant its own page? seems more of an Internal Subtrope to Emergency Weapon to me.
  • November 4, 2013
    FGHIK
    I think this needs a broader subject, something about using weaker abilities or weapons to show how fearless, crazy or determined the character is.
  • November 4, 2013
    Koveras
    @ShanghaiSlave: Emergency Weapon is about the weapon. This one is about fearlessness.

    @FGHIK: As I said, it's not really about the weapon, so if there are non-knife examples, sure, I tweak the title and the description to be more general.
  • November 5, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ examples unfortunately don't reflect that. they're all "desperate guy pulls out Emergency Weapon as last resort". also, there's Fearless Fool

    ...

    I was under the impression Emergency Weapon means what the trope name says, apparently it's a videogame only trope. so this is that trope applied to everywhere else. i stand corrected.
  • November 5, 2013
    fulltimeD
    This is a great way to become a Klingon folk hero.
  • November 5, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    In the very first series of Blackadder the King is presumed dead after facing a huge horde of Saracens while armed only with a small fruit knife. Since the King is played by BRIAN BLESSED he turns up fine, but his armour is covered in gore.
  • November 5, 2013
    Ominae
    • Yu Ominae in Spriggan uses an Orihalcon-enhanced combat knife as his backup weapon. He uses it several times when he either runs out of ammo for his assault rifle and pistol or when forced into a corner.
  • November 5, 2013
    Tallens
    Often the mark of a Proud Warrior Race Guy.

    Live Action TV
    • In the season finale of Andromeda Tyr and Harper are trapped in a room with Magog bearing down on them. Tyr fires his final shot at one then throws the gun at them and pulls out a large knife. He gives Harper one too, and together they prepare to face the Magog horde.
  • November 5, 2013
    Kernigh
  • November 5, 2013
    kayliebooks
    I don't know if this is exactly the trope you describe, but in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Elizabeth Swan is captured by Barbossa's crew and forced to dine with him. She hides a knife from the dining table and tries to stab him at a climactic moment.
  • November 6, 2013
    Koveras
    @ShanghaiSlave: No, they are not. In every example above, the character has a chance to flee but they instead decide to fight despite being a painfully underequipped for it. Also, after reading through the Fearless Fool entry, please let me take back the term "fearlessness" I used before: these characters aren't fearless—instead, their dignity prevails over their fear. In other words, I think it's a specific form of Face Death With Dignity and Last Stand.

    I will update the write-up with all this feedback you gave me once I get the wording straight.

    @fulltimeD: Do you have a specific example from Star Trek?

    @CrypticMirror: I don't think it fits, since it the King was obviously stronger than all his enemies combined. I would place it under Conservation Of Ninjutsu instead.

    @Ominae: I don't think it fits, either, since Yu's knife is not an ordinary weapon and he is, as you say, using it as his main weapon. I would place that example under Knife Nut instead.

    @Tallens: Yup, that's definitely a fit. Gonna add it presently.

    @Kernigh: As I said, it's not really about the weapon...

    @kayliebooks: I've had hard time putting a finger on it but I think it doesn't fit because Elizabeth doesn't fight for her life at that moment. While she does charge an overpowering enemy with an underpowered weapon, she does so in a surprise attack to help her allies.
  • November 7, 2013
    Ominae
    Changed it, but I don't know if it still fits.
  • November 7, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ at least the link i made helped a bit in organizing your thoughts, i agree with what you got from it.

    though, i'd generalize it to Underequipped Last Stand. Switches To Knife implies a character's just going suicidal/desperate by switching to an ineffective weapon.

    Underequipped Last Stand makes it so that only overwhelming numbers can make him lose, since while he's underequipped, doesn't mean he's fighting an army with a knife which will now be about as useful as a spork in a fight.

    Video Game
  • November 7, 2013
    Koveras
    Underequipped Last Stand does sound better than my title idea but I still wonder if there is a better term for this...
  • January 27, 2014
    Tallens
    Could underequipped in this case also refer to Good Old Fisticuffs?
  • January 27, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ Depends on what they're facing, I guess.
  • January 27, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Underequipped Charge, given that the person may not necessarily die (Hardy and Calhoun didn't.) The emphasis just seems to be on a person who's determined to fight even if he's not properly armed.

    Could be related to Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
  • January 27, 2014
    StarSword
    Film:
    • Near the end of When The Last Sword Is Drawn Yoshimura Kanichiro charges a company of musket-armed troops with only his katana and wakizashi. His last words before charging?
      "My honor compels me to fight!"
  • January 27, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • In the Biopic Lafayette about the US Revolutionary War general of the same name, he rallies his troops (who, due to supply shortages, are only given six bullets per soldier) with the following short speech:
      You only have six cartridges, but I have only my sword! Follow me!
  • January 27, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Would anything from LOTR count?
  • January 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Context plz.
  • January 27, 2014
    DAN004
    Needs an obligatory mention of "subtrope of Deter Minator".
  • January 29, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    ^^ For instance, Sam vs. Shelob.
  • January 29, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Hmm... it's just Sam doesn't have anything better to strike Shelob with.

    So yeah, one misapplication noted. Change the title plz.
  • February 2, 2014
    JesseMB27
    • Pirates Of The Caribbean Dead Mans Chest: Captain Jack Sparrow, after being handcuffed to the ship the crew was abandoning by Elizabeth Swan, decided that he wouldn't be killed by the Kraken without a fight and choose to charge the behemoth with nothing but his cutlass. It didn't end well for him, but he returned from the dead in the sequel.
  • February 2, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In a series of commercials for Jameson's Irish Whiskey, late 18th century founder John Jamison is seen risking life and limb to save barrels of his wiskey while armed with little (or nothing). Every time, he succeeds.
  • February 3, 2014
    DAN004
  • February 3, 2014
    Green5
    Video Games
    • Team Fortress 2 - An experienced Spy can confront any class with only a knife, even the ferarsome Heavy Weapons Guy, if he knows how to trickstab.
  • March 26, 2014
    JesseMB27
    Would Lord Alfred Tennyson's Poem "The Last Charge of the Light Brigade" possibly count for this trope?
  • March 26, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Minimalist Run for when you invoke this in video games.
  • March 27, 2014
    Astaroth
  • March 27, 2014
    TheWanderer
    • In both Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Goku has to try to distract the his much stronger Evil Brother Raditz while Piccolo takes several minutes to charge an attack that could kill Raditz, whom the two haven't been able to scratch yet. Rather than try some Hit And Run Tactics or the like, Goku charges directly at Raditz, and gets mercilessly Curb Stomped for his trouble. Lampshaded in the Abridged Series.
      Raditz: Aha! Attacking an opponent roughly 4 times your strength in a one-on-one battle! A cunning strategy! (Beat) No, wait, not cunning. What's the opposite of that?
    • A little more than midway through The Last Samurai, Katsumoto is arrested and needs to be rescued by the others. His followers do this, but during a fight with the local police his son Nobutada is badly wounded. Nobutada stays behind and to cover their retreat and after running out of arrows, draws his swords and charges at his rifle wielding enemies. He's repeatedly shot before he makes it close.
  • March 27, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    Backing "The Charge of the Light Brigade" - in fact it may be good for the page quote:

    Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
  • July 31, 2014
    Koveras
    Hmmm, I seem to have forgotten about this one. Gotta add the examples from the comments at some point...
  • July 31, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 31, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Launching soon?
  • July 31, 2014
    DAN004
    Okay, I guess Sam charging at Shelob with just a sword would count...

    I'm thinking: If the underequipped charge actually succeeds, does that still count here?
  • August 1, 2014
    Koveras
    ^^ I do have five hats, so let's pencil in a "yes".

    ^ Yeah, why not.
  • August 1, 2014
    Koveras
    OK, I added the examples that I thought to fit and updated the write-up and the intended index. Unless someone objects in the next few hours, I'm gonna launch it.
  • August 1, 2014
    JonnyB
    Literature
    • The Charge Of The Light Brigade, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, an fictionalized account of an actual battle in which a small cavalry detachment attempted to make a break in a line of heavy artillery, with devastating results.

    Real Life
    • In May 2004, during the early days of the war in Iraq, a detachment from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders responded to a distress call from 8 British soldiers near Al Amara. But it was an ambush, and the 30 or so men were soon surrounded by more than 150 Iraqi militiamen. After three hours of fighting, their ammunition running low, the commander of the Scottish troops ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge the enemy positions. The Iraqis were completely taken by surprise; 28 were killed and the rest fled with the loss of only 2 Highlanders.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=6aoeg4ula7s2o7dlb79wyi0f&trope=UnderequippedCharge