From Tool To Weapon YKTTW Discussion

From Tool To Weapon
Something that is created to be a tool is then used more famously as a weapon
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(permanent link) added: 2012-03-21 15:50:15 sponsor: Koncur edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2015-03-08 21:04:45)

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It is a weapon of great power! It cuts the demons in half, it blows the robots to bits, and it burns the aliens where they stand. Can you believe you bought it at the hardware store?

This is about items that are thought of in-universe as simple tools, that end up being used as effective weapons. Basically, if it can break something, then it can also kill something.

In the writing process, this trope will often come up when one has an idea for a novel weapon, that doesn't quite make sense as something that would be fielded by an army. It is then given a backstory of having been a tool for some purpose, allowing it's existence to make sense.

Note that smashing a bottle over someone's head or grabbing the nearest blunt object in a fight is just an Improvised Weapon.

Compare Misapplied Phlebotinum, which is about magics or technologies being used in places where they are going to waste. The difference here is that the tools weren't necessarily going to waste, as they may have previously been well-used for their intended purpose, before being used as a weapon. Compare also Improbable Weapon User when a character uses a non-weapon as their Weapon of Choice.

Contrast Mundane Utility and Improbable Use of a Weapon (weapons being used as tools). Compare and contrast Utility Weapon when weapons are actively used as both a tool and a weapon.

NOTE: As the real life station notes, pretty much every kind of weapon in the planet had been a tool before, and fiction also likes to weaponize every tools that can destroy (and even some that cannot), so this trope will be limited to listing tools that are entirely fictional.


Anime And Manga
  • Speed Racer: The Mach 5 has a pair of buzzsaws mounted to the front intended to clear brush as they drive through the forest or some such, but all anyone who tries to steal it can see are weapons to destroy other cars with.

  • The Cargo Loader in Aliens was meant to be a walking forklift. Ripley ends up using it like powered armor to battle the Alien Queen hand-to-hand in the famous climatic battle.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Wayne enterprises created a nuclear reactor to solve an energy crisis. It was stolen by Bane and turned into a nuclear bomb in the final act.

  • In the Discworld novel Night Watch, a populist uprising takes advantage of the fact that plenty of people have access to tools that can be used as lethal weapons:
    "men who, every day, peacefully and legally, handled things with blades and spikes that made a mere sword look like a girl's hatpin"
  • On Gor the "peasant staff" is a largely looked-down-upon weapon because peasants use it. The reason they use it is because they aren't generally allowed weapons but can have a walking stick.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space novels, the kzinti caught the full impact of this trope square in the face when they invaded human space. Even as kzin telepaths kept reassuring their superiors that the humans had no weapons, human vessels were pummeling them with the lethal energies of their ships' communication lasers and starship drives, neither of which had been designed as weapons.

Mythology and religion
  • The Old Testament mentions that at the end of times, wars will stop entirely, and this trope will be inverted.

Tabletop Games
  • In Warhammer 40K, the Imperium of Man's Chimera APC (which most of their tanks are based on) was originally a tractor. Bonus points for the fact they also tend to have bulldozer scoops mounted on the front.

Video Games
  • Half-Life 2
    • The Zero-Point Energy Manipulator was meant to be used for heavy lifting for construction purposes. In Gordon Freemanís hands, it finds more use as The Gravity Gun, punting heavy objects into the faces of Combine soldiers.
    • This series has practically redefined the average player's concept of the purpose of the crowbar.
  • The Freezethrower in Duke Nukem Forever is meant for construction purposes, but Duke uses it to freeze enemies solid so that he can smash them to pieces.
  • In Penny Arcade Adventures, the player character starts with a rake, which is used to defeat rampaging robots. As the game goes on, the rake is upgraded into some kind of battle-rake capable of harming a Cosmic Horror.
  • In Ocarina of Time, the Biggoronís Sword was just a giantís butterknife.
  • The Tools of Kagrenac from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Designed to manipulate the heart of a dead god, they also make decent magical weapons; the Keening, for example, is one of the best magical daggers.
  • In one of the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots trailers, a bulldozer which has been converted into a tank is used as a Bait and Switch for the introduction of The Beauty & The Beast Corps (civilians who became Powered Armoured soldiers to cope with PTSD).
  • In Enter the Matrix, Ghost finds a fire-fighting tool that propels bombs filled with concentrated water-vapour into the heart of a blaze. Sparks notes that if it was used as a grenade-launcher, the bombs would fill someone's lungs with water and effectively drown them, which is what Ghost ends up using it for.
  • The original Megaman's signature "Variable Weapon System" ability was originally designed to allow the copying of normal household tools due to the titular character originally being a household robot. It was adapted into its current form when Dr. Light adjusted Megaman's body for combat use in order for Megaman to take on Dr. Wily.
    • Only some of the Robot Masters Megaman faces are designed specifically for combat use. The others were designed to work in specific fields before Dr. Wily reprogrammed them to be evil (ie, Cut Man was designed for timber felling, Guts Man for land reclamation and construction, etc.).
  • Virtually all the "weapons" used in Dead Space were originally tools, modified to fight necromorphs, the most obvious example being Isaac's trusty plasma cutter. Upgrading your weapons in-game actually involves removing safety features and power limiters — some of them become visibly less stable (but more powerful) after being upgraded.

Web Comics
  • Erfworld has the "arkentools", powerful holy artifacts left behind by the Titans when they created the world, which must be "attuned" to their wielders in order to function at their full power. Some of them, such as the arkenhammer and the arkenpliers, also function as melee weapons in addition to their more mystical functions. (The arkenhammer can shoot lightning as well as Non-Lethal K.O. any dwagon with a single blow, while the arkenpliers instantly dusts any uncroaked it touches.)

Real Life
  • Lots of real life weapons were tools. From knives, to bows and arrows, to hammers, and even explosives. General rule of thumb: If a tool can break/destroy something, expect it to turn into a weapon sooner or later.
    • Sometimes these tools are rarely (if ever) weaponized in Real Life, but are turned into weapons in fiction. A few examples are scythes, chainsaws and nailguns.
  • Inverted by nuclear energy: Invented as a weapon of mass destruction, but then re-applied as a way to meet increasing demands on the power grid.

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