Created By: TheEvenPrime on April 27, 2012 Last Edited By: TheEvenPrime on May 9, 2012
Troped

Strong Weapon, Weak Wielder

A weak character or a Mook becomes extremely dangerous by acquiring a very powerful weapon.

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Trope
Some characters aren't really cut out to be dangerous combatants. Maybe they lost the Super Power Lottery, or grew old and weak, or just were never intended to be more than Mooks in the first place.

And then they find a horrendously powerful yet easy-to-use weapon from near the peak of the power curve. Whether it is a wand of hellfire, a BFG or a magical sword, the wielder of the weapon is capable of causing far more severe damage than they were before, making them a force to be reckoned with. After all, who needs skill when one can just pull the trigger and watch the fireworks?

This is different from Amplifier Artifact and Upgrade Artifact in that the weapon doesn't necessarily enhance the wielder - they're still as weak and mortal as before, only wielding an extremely potent weapon. When the powerful weapon is given to a character as a last resort, see Giving the Sword to a Noob.

NOTE: Only list cases where the character's power is clearly attributable to the weapon. If the character is tough regardless of the weapon they use, it's not this trope.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Yukino Agoria from Fairy Tail is a stellar spirit mage, with two Golden Keys and the legendary key of Ophiucus, but without those three keys, she's completely harmless.

Comic Books
  • In a mid-1980s issue of Justice League of America, an alcoholic drifter's mind accidentally takes control of the super-android Amazo and threatens the world.
    • Even earlier, the Silver Age League tended to encounter ordinary hoodlums who had stumbled upon amazing alien machines that enabled them to take on the entire team. They usually didn't reappear after a single story, typically because the alien devices would be destroyed by the heroes to end the menace.
  • The Sandman: a very creepy character is gets the ability to manipulate dreams and people thanks to Dream's jewel. When he destroys it, all Dream's power goes rushing back into him.

Film
  • In RoboCop the criminal gang working for the Big Bad is easily neutralized and arrested by the titular cyborg. When they are later freed from jail, they are given military-grade anti-tank weapons and become a credible threat to the hero.
  • Laserblast. A teenager acquires an alien laser gun. The problem? The medallion he has to wear to use the weapon turns him into an evil alien, and he goes on a rampage.

Literature
  • In The Cleric Quintet there is a character named Ghost who is just a normal human with a VERY powerful soul-shifting mirror.
  • In The Icewind Dale Trilogy, there is a very weak wizard that finds a magical artifact that lets him summon demons and stuff, but eventually kills him for his incompetence, choosing to be buried indefinately than to live with him.
  • In The Two Swords by R.A. Salvatore a mundane orc comes to possess Khazid'hea and goes on a killing spree. Up until he runs into Drizzt.

Tabletop Games
  • A published Pathfinder adventure for levels 1-2 features as its final boss a level 2 cleric wielding a 2 flaming greataxe, which a PC could usually not hope to afford until at least 7th level.
  • Early editions of Dungeons & Dragons. More than one Dungeon Master lost control of his game when he let a low level wizard/mage PC obtain a powerful magic item such as a fully charged Wand of Lightning or Wand of Fire. The wizard/mage usually went on a killing spree, slaughtering all opponents the party met until the charges ran out.

Video Games
  • NetHack fans know this phenomenon as "The Gnome with the Wand of Death". Gnomes are early game pushover monsters, but like other humanoids and the player, they are smart enough to use wands - including the titular One-Hit Kill Wand of Death.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, monsters are sometimes generated with branded weapons that can make them extremely dangerous. A mere kobold with a distortion sword can send the player into the Abyss.
  • The aged Alta´r pulls this off twice in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. First, he assassinates Abbas using his newly-fashioned hidden gun, and later on fends off a Mongol siege using the Apple of Eden.
  • The Max Payne series has only a few types of enemies (mobsters of various ethnicities, MIBs, black ops and this is all) but they differ by the weapon they wield. So even a puny Mafia soldier becomes dangerous if he's equipped with a powerful weapon like a sniper rifle or an M79 grenade launcher.
  • Halo: Grunts. Gas Mask Mooks and eternal Butt Monkey species of the entire series. They turn incredibly deadly when equipped with the Fuel Rod Gun.
  • The mission "Crew Expendable" from Modern Warfare contains one Mook armed with a Desert Eagle. Plus he's in a dark corner of the level and is positioned so that he'll probably come at you from behind.
  • In Super Paper Mario, there's one Koopa Troopa that realizes it can take the invincibility-granting starman powerup for itself. Unfortunately, the powered-up Troopa is still vulnerable to certain attacks, unlike a star-powered Player Character.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Dyntos makes Pit pass through three trials in order to test that he's worthy of wielding the Great Sacred Treasure, because such a powerful weapon in the wrong hands could be devestating. It's powerful enough to kill the god of the Underworld, after all.

Western Animation
  • One Transformers episode had Megatron getting locked in his alternate mode (as a gun) and being used by a random crook.
  • An episode of Batman Beyond had The Jokerz get hold of an experimental fighter aircraft. It was powered by an unstable reactor (which is why the pilots had to ditch it), meaning Terry had to get it back from them before it exploded.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • April 27, 2012
    akazilliadenaro
    In The Cleric Quintet there is a character named ghost who is just a normal human with a VERY powerful soul-shifting mirror.
  • April 28, 2012
    aurora369
    The Max Payne series has only a few types of enemies (mobsters of various ethnicities, MIBs, black ops and this is all) but they differ by the weapon they wield. So even a puny Mafia soldier becomes dangerous if he's equipped with a powerful weapon like a sniper rifle or an M79 grenade launcher.
  • April 29, 2012
    morenohijazo
    The Ogans from Chrono Trigger. When they wield a hammer, they have a big damage resistance. The only way to deal them significant damage is to burn their hammers.
  • April 29, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Halo: Grunts. Gas Mask Mooks and eternal Butt Monkey species of the entire series. Turn incredibly deadly when equipped with the Fuel Rod Gun.
  • April 29, 2012
    Arutema
    Tabletop Game:
    • A published Pathfinder adventure for levels 1-2 features as its final boss a level 2 cleric wielding a +2 flaming greataxe, which a PC could usually not hope to afford until at least 7th level.
  • April 29, 2012
    nman
    The title is a bit narrow, and unclear. "BFG Mook"? Though I suppose that would be narrow too.
  • April 29, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    Really? I think the title is fairly clear: a "Gnome" sounds like a weak little guy and "Wand of Death" sounds like something disproportionately powerful. Then again, I'm very familiar with the phenomenon in NetHack, so it's only natural that this sounds good to me.

    What would need work, though, is the definition. Should it only be limited to cases where the weapon in question is very definitely separate from its wielder (this can be tricky in many games)? When I started this YKTTW I had in mind something very much like the titular gnome - it is a puny little thing, but it has two hands, and that's all that's needed to use the titular Wand of Death.
  • April 30, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Innumerable Granny with a Gun examples (which could be a trope in itself).

  • April 30, 2012
    TBeholder
    for comparison, monkeys with grenades are a more widespread reference. if not quite the same.
  • April 30, 2012
    KTera
    The mission "Crew Expendable" from Modern Warfare contains one Mook armed with a Desert Eagle. Plus he's in a dark corner of the level and is positioned so that he'll probably come at you from behind.
  • April 30, 2012
    TBTabby
    Sounds like a subtrope of Not So Harmless.
  • April 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
  • April 30, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    ^not quite, or maybe a subtrope. A little old lady who would be completely harmless, except that she has a gun.

  • April 30, 2012
    nielas
    In Robo Cop the criminal gang working for the Big Bad is easily neutralized and arrested by the titular cyborg. When they are later freed from jail, they are given military-grade anti-tank weapons and become a credible threat to the hero.
  • April 30, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    @T Beholder; Isn't that when the monkeys have weapons but are dangerous regardless (or even because of) the fact they can't use it?
  • May 1, 2012
    OmarKarindu
    Comic Books
    • In a mid-1980s issue of Justice League of America, an alcoholic drifter's mind accidentally takes control of the super-android Amazo and threatens the world.
      • Even earlier, the Silver Age League tended to encounter ordinary hoodlums who had stumbled upon amazing alien machines that enabled them to take on the entire team. They usually didn't reappear after a single story, typically because the alien devices would be destroyed by the heroes to end the menace.

    Video Games
  • May 2, 2012
    JustaUsername
    Not a fan of the name, doesn't indicate the trope clear enough and we're trying to avoid Trope Namer Syndrome nowadays. How about Weak Mook Strong Weapon ?
  • May 2, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Laserblast. A teenager acquires an alien laser gun. The problem? The medallion he has to wear to use the weapon turns him into an evil alien, and he goes on a rampage.

    Tabletop Games
    • Early editions of Dungeons And Dragons. More than one Dungeon Master lost control of his game when he let a low level wizard/mage PC obtain a powerful magic item such as a fully charged Wand of Lightning or Wand of Fire. The wizard/mage usually went on a killing spree, slaughtering all opponents the party met until the charges ran out.
  • May 2, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    ^^ While I personally like the name (I wouldn't have put it in otherwise) and I don't really think it falls under trope namer syndrome, Weak Mook Strong Weapon would be definitely clearer so yeah, no objections.

    Even better, Strong Weapon Weak Mook. I think ordering the words this way emphasises the point somehow. Or a bit more general version, Strong Weapon Weak Wielder (for not all of these are Mooks). Or maybe Super Weapon Average Joe?

    EDIT: Description rewritten in a longer form. Comments welcome. ALSO: Working title is now Strong Weapon, Weak Wielder
  • May 2, 2012
    Rytex
    To add on to Grunts, if you make them Suicide Grunts in Halo Wars, and send an entire fleet of them flying at the enemy base, congratulations, you are more powerful than a scarab.
  • May 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    The Sandman: a very creepy character is gets the ability to manipulate dreams and people thanks to Dream's jewel. When he destroys it, all Dream's power goes rushing back into him.
  • May 2, 2012
    Bisected8
    • One Transformers episode had Megatron getting locked in his alternate mode (as a gun) and being used by a random crook.
    • An episode of Batman Beyond had The Jokerz get hold of an experimental fighter aircraft. It was powered by an unstable reactor (which is why the pilots had to ditch it), meaning Terry had to get it back from them before it exploded.

    I like Super Weapon Average Joe, by the way.
  • May 2, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    I just realized "Superweapon" doesn't actually have a space in between, is Superweapon Average Joe ok?
  • May 2, 2012
    Dawnwing
    "Superweapon" is a noun, "Super Weapon" is an adjective and a noun. Either one is valid for describing a powerful weapon. The title flows better - and makes far more sense - with it as two words.

    • In Kid Icarus Uprising, Dyntos makes Pit pass through three trials in order to test that he's worthy of wielding the Great Sacred Treasure, because such a powerful weapon in the wrong hands could be devestating. It's powerful enough to kill the god of the Underworld, after all.
  • May 2, 2012
    wanderlustwarrior
  • May 2, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    Giving The Sword To A Noob is different, see its laconic:

    "C-List Fodder ends up fighting the bad guys because the Chosen One isn't around to help."

    So, Super Weapon Average Joe is ok?
  • May 4, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    Bump, any suggestions (and hats) are welcome. Launching it if no one has anything else to suggest, under the title Super Weapon Average Joe.
  • May 4, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In The Two Swords by R.A. Salvatore a mundane orc comes to possess Khazid'hea and goes on a killing spree. Up until he runs into Drizzt.
  • May 4, 2012
    nman
    ^^^The laconic always lies, though. However, the trope seems pretty specific, so I would guess that this YKTTW would just be the missing supertrope to it.
  • May 4, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    I'll add this as a supertrope after launch.
  • May 5, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Manga and Anime

    • Yukino Agoria from Fairy Tail is a stellar spirit mage, with two Golden Keys and the legendary key of Ophiucus, but without those three keys, she's completely harmless.
  • May 5, 2012
    SAMAS
  • May 5, 2012
    blueburner
    Does part of this proposed trope emphasize the way the mook acquired the weapon? How about the movie Chronicle? At least 2 of the high school boys are not mentally or morally strong enough to handle the superpower/weapon. Uhh, is a superpower also a superweapon? Since it is super, it always has the potential of being a weapon.
  • May 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    @SAMAS: Technically most series tend to have him turn out to be a protegy or something.
  • May 5, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    ^^ Superpowers that are inherent properties of the character aren't this trope. As for the definition of "weapon" itself, well, the term is used fairly broadly. A weapon doesn't even have to dish out damage (Horcruxes from Harry Potter as well as The One Ring from Lo TR are referred to as weapons).
  • May 6, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    Bump, going to launch this soon if there are no further suggestions. The title will be "Super Weapon, Average Joe".
  • May 6, 2012
    JustaUsername
    Well, quite a few people in this trope are just weak rather than "Average Joes" so the old title might be better.
  • May 6, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    Being Average Joe equates to being weak in most fiction, though. I'm ok if a better name is still needed.
  • May 9, 2012
    TheEvenPrime
    Bumping one more time - better name suggestions are still accepted, but if Super Weapon Average Joe is okay to you, hats are also welcome.
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