[[quoteright:250:[[Manga/{{MAR}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/snowatthevolcanofield.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:[-Yes, her element is ice. Yes, that's a volcano behind her.-] ]]

Let's say you, the average fire mage get into a bit of a scuffle and find yourself in a duel to the death. Don't worry, it's not your fault really, but you don't really have a choice here. Now you, being a fire mage, know that you happen to be very well versed in the art of using fire, you may even say it's your lifeblood, your ''modus operandi'' so to speak. You know the intricacies of fire in and out. Your opposing duelist allows you to select between several locations to have the duel. You can choose the [[LethalLavaLand fiery volcano]], the [[ShiftingSandLand dry, arid, hot desert]], or the [[UnderTheSea bottom of the ocean]]. Which do you pick? The ocean, of course!

Wait... what? This trope is when, for whatever reason, the characters insist on using the most illogical matchup possible, like using the fire hose on the water mage, or the ice princess in the volcano field. Now, sometimes this may be [[JustifiedTrope justified]] if, say, the person, despite having a disadvantage, has some other good reason to fight them. This may include wanting revenge, having an intimate knowledge of the opponent, despite being weak to his element (say, two water mages fighting each other, despite them being resistant to each other's attacks), felt like some [[CherryTapping Cherry Tapping]], or just because [[ScissorsCutsRock even though they're at a type disadvantage, they outclass the opponent in sheer strength and experience]].

For it to be this trope, there should also be some better alternative; if the mage decides to use water spells on the ice elemental, despite having fire spells at his disposal, it's this trope. On the other hand, if the mage who only has water spells is forced into fighting the ice elemental, and has no other options or items that would be better to use, it's a poor matchup; however, since they were forced, it didn't require any ignorance or poor planning (except maybe bad life planning for finding himself in a situation with an ice elemental) and is therefore not this trope.

This also may provide an excuse for writers to allow the character to overcome adverse conditions and show growth when they win a very difficult battle from their sheer disadvantage, but often comes off as a cheapened experience, since more often than not the audience is left saying, "well, that's great! But why didn't they just pick the other guy?" Especially when their hard counter (or the fool they accidentally sent in) is someone with a definite theme any blind idiot could divine like PoorPredictableRock. If a team does this and during combat they realize their mistake, this may lead to an OpponentSwitch.

Note that for VideoGames, only list examples in the story, characters discussing or otherwise noting the trope, or notable exceptions, such as games where choosing to fight with the worst counter is secretly the best option. Otherwise every game with ElementalRockPaperScissors will be on here, since with any game with type matchups, the player can deliberately make bad choices.

See also ShootingSuperman, MutualDisadvantage.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* As pictured above, in ''Manga/{{MAR}}'', the characters have a habit of making fairly poor matchups in general. For instance, having the plant user fight the plant user in the final round of the [[TournamentArc War Games]] (the others had their own grudge matches, and it worked out for revenge anyway). However, possibly the most blatant was [[WinterRoyalLady Princess Snow]] fighting the 2nd and 3rd rounds in the ''desert'' and ''volcano'' fields respectively, and she loses the 3rd round partially because of the heat interfering with her powers. Later, Snow ''wanted'' to participate in the 4th round [[HomeFieldAdvantage Ice Field]] but Alan wouldn't let her, which, given the boost she'd get from the Ice Field would more than compensate for any lingering fatigue from the previous matches, was a huge missed opportunity for them.
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}''
** Ash has a habit of doing this, occasionally drifting into the need of a DeusExMachina or plot powers to resolve the situation, despite the fact that, say, Pikachu is clearly not the Pokémon for a given situation. The first gym battle in ''Black and White'' even mentions this, saying that Pokémon isn't only about type matchups, but friendship and strategy and whatnot.
** The early episode "School of Hard Knocks" has Misty subvert this trope, by defeating a schoolboy's Weepinbell (a Grass-type) with her Starmie (a Water-type) simply because her Pokémon is of a higher level, nullifying the type matchup. Giselle continues this lesson by choosing Graveler (a Rock/Ground-type which should be [[QuadDamage doubly weak]] to Water-type attacks) to beat Starmie.
** When Ash first goes up against Brock, he's using Pikachu (Electric-type) vs. Geodude (Rock/Ground-type). This wouldn't count, since none of his other Pokémon at that point could bypass Geodude's Rock-type reduction, but he insists on Pikachu using Electric-type attacks (which deal no damage against Ground-types) instead of Normal-type attacks, which will at least do half damage.
* Inverted in ''Manga/{{Bastard}}'', where the protagonist fights a fire elemental with fire spells, who comments on the stupidity of it, and how he should try ice spells... and then he turns the fire spells UpToEleven and out-heats the elemental, forcing it to swear loyalty to him.
* Subverted in the ''Manga/SaintSeiya'' Asgard saga: The local ice user actually trained in the volcano so he could "beat" it. [[spoiler:And he's also a fire user as a result.]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/TheBeastmaster 2'', the villain Arklon fights his opponent ''TheBeastmaster'' in a ''zoo'', and even creates an earthquake that lets out all the animals. Dar fights him one-on-one so none of the animals get hurt, which doesn't make his choice of location any less stupid.
* Infamously, the live-action film of ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' has the Fire Nation capture a bunch of Earthbenders and imprison them in a quarry.

* The main character's older brother does this in ''A Hero Born'', when the three brothers are competing in matches of their own choosing, by choosing the main character's strongest subject to challenge him in. [[spoiler:It later turns out he was intentionally throwing the competition.]]
* A significant part of the Literature/ApprenticeAdept series by Creator/PiersAnthony revolves around "The Game", in which players compete in many different types of events that can include everything from wrestling to Go to harmonica playing to [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_sexing chick sexing]]. The protagonist of the first trilogy, Stile, is a very short man - under five feet tall - and has had many problems because of it. (His primary occupation is racehorse jockey, one of the few sports in which a smaller size tends to be an advantage.) At one point, he has to challenge "Hulk", who, of course, is on the opposite end of the physical spectrum: he's freakishly tall and very muscular instead of short and wiry. Feeling as though he has something to prove, during the part of The Game in which the two players mutually determine the choice of event, Stile, to the astonishment of the spectators, maneuvers the event selection into the category of unassisted physical prowess, a category in which he should be at a great disadvantage. However, Hulk, whose size has given him his own set of insecurities, also puts pride over practicality, and the two of them end up with an event where neither has an obvious advantage: running a marathon.[[note]]Stile's shorter legs are an obvious disadvantage in a footrace, but Hulk's heavily muscled arms and torso mean that he has a lot more dead weight to carry than Stile does.[[/note]]


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In one episode of ''Series/SesameStreet,'' Oscar the Grouch attempts to ruin everybody's day by spreading dirt around everywhere he goes. Where does he go first? ''A garden.''

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia''
** Characters in a battle will remark if you're using an element poorly suited to the situation, like if you're hitting a Water-elemental monster with the Aqua Edge spell. Of course, despite repeatedly saying a particular attack is ineffective, a computer-controlled character [[ArtificialStupidity will still keep using it]] unless you manually deactivate it from the menu. Star student Genis will even get a title if he does this enough times in a single battle.
** In a non-combat variation of this, after forming the pact with Gnome, the Tethe'allan Summon Spirit of Earth, Lloyd thinks that said spirit's Sylvaranti counterpart is Efreet... the spirit of Fire. Raine has to explain that it's Sylph, the spirit of Wind.
* The first time you meet Edge in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', he's gleefully using his fire magic... on a fire demon made of fire. And he's surprised when it doesn't work well.
* In ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' games, you get to choose a grass, water, or fire starter. In the original series, a fire type would be at a disadvantage against early gym leaders, in particular Brock and Misty. A lot of first time players would pick the cool fire starter, only to learn about elemental advantages the hard way.
** On the other hand, Fire Types had an advantage early on against the Bug and Grass types that appeared before the first gym, which in turn had a decent advantage over the first leader. So, Fire tended to be a bit more of a long term investment since Fire-types as a whole were pretty rare in the game while Grass and Water were fairly common.
** In ''VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire'', the battle between [[OlympusMons the land Pokemon Groudon and the sea Pokemon Kyogre]] takes place in the middle of the sea. Lampshaded by [[http://protocol00.deviantart.com/art/Groudon-vs-Kyogre-453278709 this comic]]. For that matter, despite these two Pokemon supposedly being equal opposites, Kyogre has a tremendous type advantage over Groudon. This is mitigated in ''Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire'' by their respective Abilities cancelling out each other's best attacks.
** Inverted in ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' thanks to ArtificialStupidity. One of Lance's Pokemon would use a Psychic-type move against enemies weak to it (such as Poison)... except its only Psychic move is Agility, which only increases its own speed without doing damage (despite having other, highly damaging moves). This allowed one of ''WebOriginal/TwitchPlaysPokemon'''s greatest SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome: a Venomoth earning the title "Dragonslayer".
* In ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'', each Lighthouse represents an element. They empower people who use that element and those who elements are related; they also greatly weaken those whose element is the opposite. Earth and Fire compliment and Wind and Water compliment. During the fight against Saturos at the Mercury Lighthouse (water), he doesn't realize this and gets weakened enough to be barely beaten by the party.
* The most famous instance in ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' had to have been the demons summoned by the higher level Circle of Thorns. They were large, somewhere between "well muscled" and "absolute brutes", had hair made of fire, and had a combination of fire abilities for both range and melee along with just straight strength attacks. What didn't they have? Any sort of RESISTANCE to fire, which was without serious MinMaxing the highest DPS power sets in the game, and often came with fire resists buffs of their own. Meaning the easiest way to cut through the LegionsOfHell (which was a very FireAndBrimstoneHell) was with torrents of flame...
* A non-elemental example: in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword]]'', Sain initially insists on using a lance against an axe-wielding opponent, despite axes being strong against lances. This is mostly to demonstrate the [[RockPaperScissors weapon triangle]], and afterwards, you can get him a sword.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', originally this was in effect with monsters having innate resistances and some being completely immune, this in particular hurt fire mages and destruction warlocks since the entry level raids were in the fire-based Molten Core. Eventually Blizzard wised up to the fact that making entire specializations useless [[TierInducedScrappy was a terrible idea]] and chose to enforce CompetitiveBalance by making elemental or elemental-aligned monsters take just as much damage as they do from any other element.


[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', one of the [[{{Expy}} not]]!ComicBook/WonderTwins tries to drown ComicBook/{{Aquaman}} due to not thinking straight at the moment. This works [[ShootingSuperman about as well as you'd expect]], allowing Arthur a great DeadpanSnarker line after he completely {{No Sell}}s the attack.
--> King of the ''Seas'', remember?
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/CaptainPlanetAndThePlaneteers'', the heroes are trapped behind ice, but never think to use fire, despite elemental typing pretty much being their only means of problem-solving as it is.
* In the 90s ''WesternAnimation/XMen'' animated series, when Storm confronts Magneto for the first time in the series, she decides to use intense lightning bolts on him. Magneto points out that being the master of magnetism, lightning was the least effective of her many weapons to use against him. Partially justified since Magneto's powers are written such that if he isn't a SuperpowerLottery winner, he's definitely a runner up, to the point where no energy attacks and few physical attacks would really have been effective.