Created By: Entirity on February 2, 2013 Last Edited By: StarSword on February 5, 2013
Troped

We Will Use Lasers In The Future

Making something sci-fi? Don't forget to make all your weapons RayGuns.

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Trope
The majority of modern sci-fi is obsessed with the concept that in the future, the predominant weapon will be some form a of a Ray Gun (that somehow travels much slower than the speed of light). If kinetic weapons, or some other weapon exists, the laser weapon is generally considered superior. Even if not set in the far future, laser weapons will be invented or introduced by aliens, scientists, or some other Phlebotinum in many kids shows because they are Family-Friendly Firearms, even though in universe they are more generally deadly than kinetic weapons. The most common variety is Frickin' Laser Beams.

Type A: Ray Guns are everywhere. They may not be the only type of weapon, and kinetic weapons might even still exist, but they are hardly used.

Type B: Ray Guns may not be ubiquitous, but they trump every other kind of weapon. Perhaps only the rich can afford them, or only the government has the technology. Whatever the case, all other weapon types are considered inferior.

Contrast Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better.

Examples:

Film
  • In Star Wars, virtually all projectile weapons are some sort of Ray Gun. Lightsabers are also a main focus of the universe. Ancillary materials such as the visual dictionaries explain that this is partly because commonplace body armor works beautifully against kinetic penetrators like bullets (turns out stormtrooper armor isn't completely useless after all).
  • When the T-800 does some weapon shopping in the first Terminator film, he has to settle for a Uzi nine millimeter instead of the "phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range" he would have wanted. In the future where he comes from even all the humans seem to use only energy weapons.

Literature
  • In Dune the predominant ranged weapons are lasguns. But due to personal deflector shields that generate fusion reaction when hit with lasers most soldiers use swords.
  • The aliens in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy generally have ray guns of some type.

Live-Action TV
  • Battlestar Galactica: Played straight in the original, where both Colonials and Cylons used lasers. Averted in the remake, where nukes and traditional firearms that utilize bullets are used instead.
  • Averted in Firefly with characters using traditional firearms, and ship-to-ship combat often involving grappling and boarding. A few laser weapons exist (see Awesome, but Impractical) but are a pain to maintain.
  • Played with in the Stargate Verse. Most advanced offworld cultures use energy weapons of some form or another, in contrast to the firearms preferred by the SGC. While the latter are usually superior as weapons of war, the Tau'ri did develop a fondness for the versatility of the Goa'uld zat'nik'tel, a weapon that reliably stuns on the first shot and kills on the second. By later episodes it largely replaced the Beretta M9 as their sidearm of choice.
  • In Star Trek, both handheld weapons that shoot a beam, and large phasers that fire from the ships are used.

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperial Guard is primarily armed with lasguns. The reasoning being that they are very low maintenance seeing as they have no moving parts and the power packs can be recharged practically anywhere. It should be noted that the Imperial Guard's lasguns are pretty much the weakest weapon in the setting (hence their fanon slogan of "Defending the galaxy with T-shirts and flashlights"). Lascannons on the other hand, are extremely effective anti-vehicle weapons.
    • The Tau Empire also arms their basic infantry with energy weapons, but unlike the Imperial Guard they have arguably the deadliest infantry weapons in the setting. The weakest tau guns fire droplets of superheated plasma that are very accurate at long range and capable of taking out light armored vehicles.
  • Laser weapons in Traveller do greater damage and have more ammunition than slugthrowers, but are considerably more expensive and bulkier. The power packs are usually backpack or at least belt-mounted.
  • Eclipse Phase has "laser pulsers", which have a "stun" mode that acts like a flashbang on the target.

Video Games
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • February 2, 2013
    TropeEater
  • February 2, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Firefly averted this, with characters using traditional firearms, and ship-to-ship combat often involving grappling and boarding.
  • February 3, 2013
    Tallens
    Given the Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better trends in Sci-Fi lately, this might be headed toward becoming a Dead Horse Trope.
  • February 3, 2013
    Arivne
    The laser weapons will probably fire Frickin Laser Beams.
  • February 3, 2013
    aurora369
    However, there were some laser pistols in Firefly (one antique collectable and one working one owned by a rich bastard).
  • February 3, 2013
    nitrokitty
    I think in the Firefly example, laser weapons are treated as Awesome But Impractical. They're powerful, but expensive to manufacture and maintain, and they tend to run out of juice rather quickly. Therefore, most people use cheaper and more widely available chemical propellant firearms.
  • February 3, 2013
    captainpat
    Needs a better title. What's the point of a title called "The Future Always Has Lasers" when you're gonna list a bunch of aversion disproving that point?
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Good point, I didn't think about that. How does Future Therefore Lasers or Future Equals Lasers sound? Also there is Trop Eater's suggestion of We Will Use Lasers In The Future.
  • February 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Needs more straight examples

    Literature
    • In Dune the predominant ranged weapons are lasguns. But due to personal deflector shields that generate a fusion reaction when hit with lasers most soldiers use swords.

    Tabletop Games
    • In Warhammer40000 the Imperial Guard is primarily armed with lasguns. The reasoning being that they are very low maintenance seeing as they have no moving parts and the power packs can be recharged practically anywhere.
    • Laser weapons in Traveller do greater damage and have more ammunition than slugthrowers, but are considerably more expensive and bulkier. The power packs are usually backpack or at least belt-mounted.
    • Eclipse Phase has "laser pulsers", which have a "stun" mode that acts like a flashbang on the target.
  • February 3, 2013
    DracMonster
    This is kind of already covered by Ray Gun, though I guess it could stand separately.
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    I think this trope would make a nice contrast to Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better, especially considering it is more concerned with the predominance of the weapons and not the actual weapons themselves.
  • February 3, 2013
    captainpat
    It's best if you not list aversions.
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Because...?
  • February 3, 2013
    captainpat
    See our page on Aversion

    "Even though There Is No Such Thing As Notability, averting is generally not an example for mentioning on a trope page, except for tropes that are so common that the list of aversions is actually shorter"
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Once there are more straight examples I'll consider removing those, but for now I want people to have an idea of what the trope is.
  • February 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Trick to YKTTW edits I figured out, anyone can edit anyone's comments, so when I'm making these pages I open the edit screens on the comment and copy the code for the examples they post.
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Did I forget to copy the code on one of them?
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Also, anyone have any ideas for a better name, maybe something that implies that in the work the laser weapons are superior.
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Changed description to reflect the intent of this trope to describe either such weapons being ubiquitous or better than others in a work.
  • February 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^^ Try all of them.

    ^ We Will Use Lasers In The Future sounds good.
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Oh, I see. Also what do you think of the updated name (constrasts nicely with Kinetic Weapons are just better)
  • February 3, 2013
    JMQwilleran
    The aliens in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy generally have ray guns of some type.
  • February 3, 2013
    acrobox
    for the description. Even if not set in the far future, laser weapons will be invented or introduced by aliens in many kids shows because they are Family Friendly Firearms. Even though in universe they are more deadly than kinetic weapons.
  • February 4, 2013
    Chabal2
    It should be noted that the Imperial Guard's lasguns are pretty much the weakest weapon in the setting (hence their fanon slogan of "Defending the galaxy with T-shirts and flashlights"), nearly every faction uses solid projectile weaponry such as bolters or railguns, monofilament shard catapults, or plasma weapons. Lascannons, however, are very powerful anti-vehicle weapons.
  • February 4, 2013
    Arivne
  • February 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Expansion of the Star Wars example: Ancillary materials explain that this is partly because commonplace body armor works beautifully against kinetic penetrators like bullets (turns out stormtrooper armor isn't completely useless after all).

    TV:
    • Played with in the Stargate Verse. Most advanced offworld cultures use energy weapons of some form or another, in contrast to the firearms preferred by the SGC. While the latter are usually superior as weapons of war, the Tau'ri did develop a fondness for the versatility of the Goa'uld zat'nik'tel, a weapon that reliably stuns on the first shot and kills on the second. By later episodes it largely replaced the Beretta M9 as their sidearm of choice.

    And fifthing We Will Use Lasers In The Future.
  • February 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Film
    • When the T-800 does some weapon shopping in the first Terminator film, he has to settle for a Uzi nine millimeter instead of the "phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range" he would have wanted. In the future where he comes from even all the humans seem to use only energy weapons.
  • February 4, 2013
    Entirity
    Changed name as per consensus to We Weill Use Lasers In The Future. Possible other names include We Will Use Ray Guns Inthe Future, Ray Gunsare Just Better, and Lasers Are Just Better. (The latter two to constrast with Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better.)
  • February 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I took the liberty of adding the Pot Holes to my Terminator example since the sponsor apparently forgot.
  • February 4, 2013
    Entirity
    Sorry about that. Must've forgotten to copy the markup again. (Bump)
  • February 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Cleanup: formatting, namespaces, and example sorting. Also made an adjustment to the Battlestar Galactica example to take into account that the original played it straight.
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
    Additional 40K example:
    • The Tau Empire also arms their basic infantry with energy weapons, but unlike the Imperial Guard they have arguably the deadliest infantry weapons in the setting. The weakest tau guns fire droplets of superheated plasma that are very accurate at long range and capable of taking out light armored vehicles.
  • February 5, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Video Games
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
    Cleanup again: Example Indentation, sorting, and copypasta'd the markup for the Halo example. (Also made a few minor modifications to it for readability.)
  • February 5, 2013
    Entirity
    Any other possible types for this trope, or is it covered?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=f2azny2ysnrdpn9bsyg1pwqq&trope=WeWillUseLasersInTheFuture