Do We Have This One?
? It also needs a better title, as there's a similarly named trope, Nonlethal Deadly Weapon
that refers to something else. This trope refers to weapons that should be lethal, but aren't, rather than nonlethal weapons people treat as lethal.
Basically, it's the opposite of Nerf Arm
Needs more examples.
When a weapon that all logic would dictate should inflict serious and/or lethal injuries only ever inflicts nonlethal ones, whether through conscious choice by the user or a totally unexplained/handwaved reason.
Frequently used in kid-friendly shows that still want to have sword-wielding, gun-toting badasses
Weapons wielded by Martial Pacifists
or Pacifists of the Thou Shalt Not Kill
school do not qualify for this trope, since the person is bound by oath/personal morality not to kill the person. This trope only applies when there's not really any reason the person would intentionally avoid killing someone, yet they do it anyways.
Contrast Absurdly Sharp Blade
Sometimes justified in that the problem is not the weapon, but the absurdly durable armor/skin of its target.
Anime and Manga
- In some of the X-Men cartoons, Wolverine seems to use his claws for the exclusive purpose of backhanding people, rather than actually stabbing or slicing with them. This is probably the best example, since Wolverine's character definitely makes his staunch desire to never seriously injure any of the bad guys rather implausible.
- While not absolutely lethal, Robin's collapsible baton in Teen Titans never seems to knock people's teeth out, break people's jaws, crush skulls, or inflict any other injury it would realistically inflict when he swung it at full force.