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Are These Wires Important?
"This looks important!" (rip)
Tony Stark, Iron Man 1

There are many ways to stop a rampaging robot, a spider-tank, or even a huge mecha. Missiles, More Dakka, or perhaps even another rampaging robot, spider-tank, or mecha! But the method that is most enjoyable, from a heroic perspective, is tearing a hole in the machine's armor, reaching an arm in, and simply yanking wires and components out until it stops moving.

The destructive opposite of Percussive Maintenance. For one wire in particular, see Cut the Juice. For wires that need to be dealt with in a particular order, see Wire Dilemma.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey lands on the Vulture's back mid-flight and begins ripping things out of the Vulture's wing-pack. The flight ends pretty quickly.
  • In the Astro City story "Old Times", Supersonic is no longer able to think of clever schemes to defeat a rampaging robot due to his age. Instead, he resorts of simply pounding it repeatedly until he can reach and tear out some vital components.
  • Atomic Robo (see trope image) is fond of this tried-and-true technique.
  • Lampshaded in Sonic the Comic when Sonic does this to take down the giant robot Mekanik, after breaking a hole in his armour with help from Shortfuse the Cybernik. "Typical shoddy work by Robotnik! Impressive on the outside, but rubbish inside!"
  • In one Ultimate X-Men, Kitty Pryde phases inside of a rampaging physical manifestation of the Danger Room and attempts to stop it this way. Becomes a bit of a Mexican Standoff, as she needs to turn solid to damage it, and it threatens to kill her as soon as she does.
  • Superboy pulled this stunt during the Reign of the Supermen event, tearing into a robot that tried to kill Superman (again) and ripping out a few random parts.
  • This is probably Squirrel Girl's favorite trick. She's used her ability to Talk To Squirrels to defeat both MODOK and Doctor Doom.
  • Parodied in a Rat-Man issue where, to stop a conspiracy of evil geologists (don't ask), the hero infiltrates their base, finds a control room and smashes every piece of machinery he can put his hands on. This has the effect of shorting out the conspiracy's vending machine.
  • Inverted in The Shooting Star: Captain Haddock is wondering why the radio isn't working, when the scientist next to him holds up two wires and asks if they're supposed to be plugged into something. The captain had accidentally yanked them out due to his Large Ham tendencies.
  • In a late '70s issue of The Avengers, the team is trying to stop a giant robot called Red Ronin — designed, incidentally, to fight Godzilla — from reaching New York and presumably destroying it. Thor's not around, and the rest of the team — Iron Man, Wonder Man, Vision, Captain America, and a few others — are fighting Ronin from outside, along with the Shield Helicarrier. But not Beast. He makes his way inside the mecha, finds the control room, sits down, and susses out how it's controlled, then yanks the one plug that will cause the thing to shut down. It's a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • In an issue of Wolverine, a rampaging Red Ronin returns and while Japanese superhero Sunfire attacks from the outside, Wolverine gets inside and begins destroying components until Red Ronin returns to rest. It helped that the susceptible components were labeled with the Japanese word for "heart," which clued Wolverine to their importance.

    Film 
  • Iron Man 1: During the final fight with Iron Monger, Tony Stark quips "This looks important!" and rips the targeting sensor out of his armor.
  • In RoboCop 2, Robocop puts a stop to the rampaging Robocop Mk. II by yanking out the jar Cain's brain is housed in and smashing it on the ground.
  • Judge Dredd: Fergee (Dredd's Comic Relief Sidekick) disables Rico's robot by yanking out some of the wires behind its head.
  • In the first Spider-Man 1 film, Spidey's first encounter with the Green Goblin ends when he reaches up and rips some wires out of the Goblin's glider, leading to it careening away.
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible pulls the CPU out twice from Syndrome's battle droids. Both times, he gets the battle droid to do it to itself.
  • The Avengers (1998). Steed rips the guts out of one of Sir August's robot insects after it crashes into Mrs. Peel's car.
  • In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Lara pulls out a few wires from her practice robot to try and stop it; oddly, it then responds to a stop command.
  • In Twice Upon a Time, Flora Fauna ends up doing this to Botch's TV-headed Giant Mook Ibor.

    Literature 
  • The second two books of the Protector of the Small quartet have a truncated variant with the killing devices, which are Powered by a Forsaken Child. Kel and her squad figure out that the way to stop them is to punch a hole in the machine's iron "head," which lets the spirit escape.
  • A similar mystical variation on the trope is used in the Mistborn series. Steel Inquisitors are named for the large spikes piercing their bodies, some of which are in positions that should kill them. Places like through the heart, or in through the eye sockets and out the back of the skull. One property of the spikes is that they don't interfere with the Steel Inquisitors' brains or hearts (and they compensate for the loss of their eyes), but the holes left behind by removed spikes have no such properties, they can survive having some of the spikes removed, but removing the "linchpin" spike in their back, or both eye spikes will kill them.

    Live Action TV 
  • That's the way the cyborg Adam is defeated in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy managed to put her hand inside him and tear out his power source. She even did the "Kung-Fu Badass" thing where she showed it to him before he died.
  • D'argo does this to disconnect Moya's "control collar" in the first episode of Farscape.
  • In the Twilight Zone episode, "Terror At 20,000 Feet", a gremlin is doing this to an airplane until stopped by an acrophobic William Shatner. Before his intervention, the thing was yanking wires and pieces out of the airplane's engines.
  • In the Battlestar Galactica (Reimaged) episode "You Can't Go Home again," Starbuck is trying to get a dead Cylon Raider to fly. As she is examining the interior, she looks at what appears to be a large mass of tissue and says "This must be your brain. You won't need it," and yanks it out. "Lucky I brought one of my own."

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy X, using the "Steal" command against a mechanical mook results in an instant kill (and the player gaining a grenade). Presumably, this represents your thief reaching into the machine and pulling out some vital (but explosive) component.
  • Just one of the many parts of Rand's best attack after the Gunleon's Sphere is activated.
  • In Rise of Legends, Giacomo rips some wires out of the Doge's laser cannon, causing it to blow up in his face.
  • At several points in Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard must assign one squad member to activate or disable some sort of electronic system while Shepard and the other squad member fend off the enemy. There's almost always a tech specialist in the party during these moments, but there's nothing stopping the player from giving the job to The Big Guy James Vega instead... to which James replies that it's not really his specialty, but he'll "pull a few wires, see what comes out." He walks up to the panel, stares at it in bewilderment...and then starts kicking it. And it works.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, Batman destroys Penguin's radio jammers by punching through the screens and ripping pieces out. Particularly egregious as he usually has Explosive Gel for situations like that.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim you can pickpocket the Briar Heart out of a Briarheart Warrior, causing him to fall over dead.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Ben has used this technique a couple of times in Ben10.
  • Badass Normal Robin did this to a squid-shaped robot in an early episode of Teen Titans. As Teen Titans The Abridged Series points out, he was somehow able to punch through the robot's armor despite Starfire's laser blasts having absolutely no effect.
    • Perhaps it had a form of Deflector Shield that blocks energy damage, but is less effective against kinetic damage?
    • A more realistic example had Beast Boy turn into a mouse, crawl into the giant robot, and start biting all the wires he could see, although one must wonder how he avoided being shocked to death.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance", the Flash does this to the giant, rocket-powered boomerang Captain Boomerang catches Flash with. Flash likes this. He earlier did something similar to Grodd's mind control helmet, at super speed, while making it look like he was just slapping his head repeatedly.
  • In the 1960s Justice League of America episode "Target Earth", the Atom shrinks down to get inside the villains' "Magno-Ray". Once inside, he goes on a mini-rampage (pardon the pun...), yanking out wires, smashing vacuum tubes (!) and generally busting up the innards of the thing. Eventually, it blows up, or at least explosively wilts.
  • In Transformers Prime, Bumblebee does this to Skyquake while clinging to the exterior of his jet mode in midair; once he yanks enough stuff out, the Seeker goes into a nosedive and fatally crashes into the ground.
  • In one episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars, Mace Windu punches a hole in a droid fighter, yanks at some wires... and starts using them as reins. Implausible as all get out, but it looks cool.
  • In one Kim Possible episode, Dr. Drakken launches a "Hypertronic Devastator Drone" while Shego keeps Kim too busy to interfere. Then Ron shows him the gizmo that broke off while he was climbing up the side of the drone and asks "Is this important?" It turns out to be a gyroscopic control unit, without which the drone will fly straight up and then fall straight down.
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry does this to his own brain.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Open a computer case and pull a wire out at random. Any wire. Chances are something will go horribly wrong to prevent it from working when you try to turn it back on. Don't Try This at Home.
    • Though subverted once in a popular computing urban legend, where a company adds unnecessary components to their hardware to make it run slower, so that when it comes time for the "upgrade", they need only to remove a wire. Usually the punchline is a disgruntled programmer sending out a memo to customers warning them not to remove the blue wire or else the result will be their computer running 1.07 times faster. In this case only one specific wire removed would achieve this result. Any other would invoke the trope in full force.
    • Task Manager, anyone? Or worse, the computer registry.
      • I call your task manager and registry, and raise you one file allocation table. Your entire hard drive content is now gone.
  • In general, if there's a wire, it's there for a reason. If you disconnect, cut, or otherwise remove the wire from the equation, chances are you just stopped something from working. This could be as simple as unplugging a lamp, or as complex as disabling the safety system for a huge piece of technology (though in the latter case, that's what backups and redundant safety systems are for).
  • "Muntzing" (named after mid-20th century car salesman and self-taught electrical engineer Earl "Madman" Muntz) is the practice-cum-technique of reducing the number of components inside an electrical appliance to a minimum. In order to come up with the basis for an inexpensive TV, Muntz took contemporary models and removed one component of a time until they stopped working. After he put that "last wire" back, the resulting designs worked as well as their more complex predecessors in areas with good reception, were cheaper, and (since fewer components meant less heat) were often more reliable too.


AntimatterApplied PhlebotinumArtifact of Doom
Atomic RoboImageSource/Comic BooksAvatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise

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