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Crippling Overspecialization
Good at combat. Very bad at feeding himself.

"It's simple: Overspecialize, and you breed in weakness. It's slow death."
Major Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell

Competitive Balance exists so that there is some symmetry between specific advantages and the Necessary Drawback. If someone can hit hard but not take any damage themselves, they are a Glass Cannon. If they are unstoppable but slow moving they are a Mighty Glacier. A crippling overspecialization occurs when one, obscenely powerful advantage makes a trade-off that limits how effective it is.

In some Real-Time Strategy games, unit types are often specialized beyond all reason. They often have only one weapon, effective against just one particular kind of enemy, and usually cannot defend themselves at all if their particular weapon is ineffective. The most prominent examples can be seen in this genre: explosives will deal low damage to infantry, while Anti-Aircraft cannons can't defend against ground units. This is usually a result of game balance. After all, if tanks are effective enough against other tanks and infantry, then why build anything else? Additionally, until recently, most units in games were depicted with only one weapon. A few might've had a second gun used for attacking enemy fliers, but that was about it.

Can result from a Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors design scheme, or from intensive Min-Maxing in a character build. People who do this for Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors are suffering from Poor, Predictable Rock.

See also Anti-Air and Strong Flesh, Weak Steel. Compare to An Adventurer Is You, where this is used to force players to work together. See also Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training for a characterization equivalent. Severely Specialized Store is a comedic variation.

Don't confuse "having a weakness" or "not being the best at everything" or even "not being quite good enough" as being this trope. Don't be tempted to list something because it failed in some way unless you can point a finger at its crippling specialty!

The opposites of this trope are the Red Mage and the Jack of All Stats. At the other extreme that loops right back is Master of None, where the character has no great specialisation... but sucks at everything anyway.


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Video Games

    Adventure Game 
  • In the first and fourth Gobliiins games, the player controls three goblins whose specializations border on the ridiculous. One can only pick up and place objects (only one at a time), another can only punch things, and the third can only cast spells. Apparently, the other two goblins haven't grasped the concept of, well, grasping.
  • In Solatorobo, this is what Merveille says is wrong with Nero and Blanck, as though they live for The Order and can perfectly perform their one duty of controlling Lares and Lemures, once that duty is fulfilled, they have no reason to exist. Those who are imperfect, like their brother Red, are free to grow and develop in any way they choose, not bound to any one destiny.

    Fighting Game 
  • A number of characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 suffer from this. Top tier characters are typically Jacks of All Stats and often Flying Bricks. Other potent characters, such as Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, and Mike Haggar, often find themselves in low tiers simply because their overspecialization, well, cripples them.
    • Iron Fist is Lightning Bruiser. He practices an almost literal Confusion Fu, as he can transition seamlessly between kung-fu moves to mixup opponents. He can even cast Status Buffs to adapt to his enemy. His weakness? MvC 3 features Super Jumps, Double Jumps, Teleport Spam and Flight. It's remarkably easy for any enemy to wage High-Altitude Battle. But because Iron Fist has no Anti-Air attacks, he is unable to effectively reach anyone airborne. And because two of his most important moves — his Launcher and his Dragon's Touch — are only effective on standing enemies, he can't effectively damage airborne fighters even after he catches them.
    • Ghost Rider is a Long-Range Fighter, through use of his chain whip and hellfire. In theory, he should be able to prevent his enemies from ever approaching him. It turns out, however, that Ghost Rider's one-dimensional strategy is rather predictable, which renders him easily approachable. And once that's done, he's nearly completely unable to cope with enemies in close proximity to him, especially just above and behind him. It doesn't help that many teleports put characters in exactly this location.
    • Mike Haggar is a Mighty Glacier to the letter, boasting incredibly high powered attacks from all angles, a projectile-proof Spin Attack, potent Anti-Air, and vicious combo-starting throws to break enemy defences. He's not someone you'd like to approach. His weakness, of course, is that you don't have to approach him. Haggar may be able to break an incoming projectile, but only while standing in place. He can't quite shrug off the Bullet Hell many characters can produce. With no strong mobility options and no means to pull enemies towards himself, Haggar is left unable to cope with any Long-Range Fighter.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy
    • Poor, poor Firion. On the ground, Firion is a monster: a Mighty Glacier with deadly mid to close range moves that chain into HP hits—three of them—a projectile, one of the hardest HP attacks in the game to dodge (that doesn't belong to a Boss character), a defense and counter move that is a practically guaranteed HP hit, and the ability to ground dash, which handily helps remedy the speed problem. ...Once he leaves the ground, though, he has none of that. Once he is in the air, he is a bad way. This overspecialization happens to be crippling because in his game, most everyone else is at least competent in the air (with at least three explicit specialists in air fighting), and many of the stages are fragmented enough that staying on the ground exclusively is not possible and the game flow tends to naturally take fighting to the air. Poor Firion.
      • They went so far in the sequel as to design stages that punish people for jumping into the air to give Firion a chance, as well as minor overhauls of the game making ground-fighting more viable and interesting for more characters, adding new characters with an eye to making them more balanced for ground vs airplay, and removing the 'infinite air jumps' oversight of the first game with the result that now staying in the air is much harder. Interestingly, they decided the answer to Firion's overspecialization was to overspecialize even more in his niche, adding a highly powerful and dangerous new attack to his ground arsenal, which, combined with better functionality on his air game (he can chain his weak air attacks together more easily, and aerial swordslash will now floor-crash the opponent back into Firion's turf) makes him a monstrously tough opponent except on stages where ground combat is just hopeless period.
    • Terra has a slightly crippling specialization-only a few of her Bravery attacks chain directly into HP Attacks, and the ones that do are so laughably easy to dodge that even the dumbest computer opponents can do it. The remedy to this is that her actual HP Attacks are very difficult to dodge, especially in EX Mode where she can cast them twice in rapid succession. Still causes her issues with the extremely reactive AI opponents-most of Inward Chaos comes to mind.
  • In Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost, the Gundam Epyon is generally considered such a weak mobile suit that it actually has its own level in the game's Character Tiers, despite being ranked at 3000 points (the highest possible in the game, which gives it high HP and attack power). The reason for this is that Epyon wields only melee weapons (a large Laser Blade and a Whip Sword), meaning it has no way of attacking beyond short range and must weather its opponent's guns and missiles in order to do any damage. When Epyon appeared in the earlier game Gundam vs. Gundam Next, it had the advantage of an Assist Character that provided a Deflector Shield, but the Full Boost version lacks this, which puts it at an incredible disadvantage even before you factor in the fact that Full Boost is biased towards ranged combat.
  • Super Smash Bros. has Little Mac. A Boxing Battler, with powerful ground game, moves with super armor, very fast moving speed and a one-hit KO punch. However, since boxing doesn't ever get off the ground, Mac's air game is extremely poor both in strength and in ability to get back to the battlefield.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 you have a choice of 4 specializations. It is possible to be crippled by the Medic's lack of explosives, or by the Recon's lack of ammo. Just as much as it is to be crippled by the Assault's lack of specialization.
  • All the classes in Team Fortress 2 are very specialized, which is part of the game balance. No class is effective against all other classes, but each is devastating against one or two classes. They do have an item or two to make them a bit more versatile, but the only real exception is the Jack of All Stats Soldier, designed to be at least moderately effective in most potential situations.
    • The Demoman holds onto this trope with a deathgrip. Both his primary and secondary weapons are explosive (which can cause self-damage if he's near the projectiles when they detonate), inaccurate over long ranges and don't directly hit enemies (unless aimed and timed specifically). However this leads to his overspecialization at mid-range, which no other class (other than a Sniper with a Huntsman) is any good at.
      • During the WAR! update, the Demoman was given the Chargin' Targe, a shield that replaces his stickybomb launcher with a charging rush that turns his melee attacks into guaranteed criticals. This has given rise to a new way to play the class; the "Demoknight". It involves using the Targe (or the other shield, the Splendid Screen) alongside one of the many sword and axe-like melee weapons he's received since then, giving him the ability to overspecialize in melee (especially if you equip the boots that increase health by replacing the grenade launcher).
    • The Pyro's flamethrower is, as one might imagine, a short ranged weapon. Their long range alternative is a shotgun, or a flare gun which has significant travel time, a firing arc, and can only load one shot at a time. This makes Pyros absurdly good at ambushing, but not that useful at other forms of combat unless you have the skill for it.
    • Contrary to how some players may act, the Heavy is also over-specialized for damage at short range. Few of his weapons are accurate at long range or do enough damage to justify 'suppressing fire' if opponents are a distance away, since the primary weapon reduces the Heavy's already slow speed to an absolute crawl and the secondary shotguns spread a great deal.
    • Pretty much no matter how you load your Spy, you're almost entirely limited to stabbing people in the back. In a fair fight, between equally skilled players, the spy will pretty much always lose. Fortunately, the spy's cloak allows him to avoid fair fights as much as possible.
    • As might be expected, Snipers are generally not strong in a close-range situation. The main weapon unlock that helps them at that range, the Huntsman, lacks the ability to zoom in or to hold a charged shot for very long, inverting their threat ranges somewhat, but not making up for their squishiness at close range.
    • Scouts put the 'agile' into Fragile Speedster, possessing a powerful Sawn Off Shotgun but lacking sufficient power and health to hold an area for long. They are also handicapped by enclosed areas that don't allow them to take advantage of their superior speed and maneuverability.
    • Medics heal people, and that's pretty much it. He can build up an Ubercharge which is devastating when used correctly, but that's charged by, you guessed it, healing people. Going Combat Medic will get you killed (and then kicked from the server for not doing your job correctly), as his weapons are only useful as Emergency Weapons.
    • Engineers build buildings, upgrade buildings, and maintain buildings. They can defend buildings from a Spy, but without their buildings they're pretty much useless.
    • Many weapons provide a bonus so situational as to become useless, such as the scout's Wrap Assassin (which launches a ball that makes targets bleed but does barely any damage and is difficult to hit with), the Engineer's Short Circuit (which destroys projectiles but makes you run out of metal, your primary resource as Engineer, very quickly), or the Pyro's Neon Annihilator (which deals crit damage to players who are, or have recently been, underwater, although most maps don't feature water). The king of this is the Sun-On-A-Stick, a melee weapon for the Scout that only has a benefit when hitting someone on fire. This pretty much requires you to be buddies with a Pyro for the duration of using it. Otherwise, it's only real change from the stock bat is a 25% damage reduction.

    Mecha Game 
  • The Heavy Gear video games occasionally do this, with one of the worst offenders being the Mammoth strider, an enormous, heavily armored machine with the ability to carry frankly absurd amounts of firepower... which was slow as dirt and steered like a cow. It had no ability to dodge enemy shots, and relied solely on thick armor to survive extended fights.
  • Common in the MechWarrior franchise due to it spawning from the BattleTech game. Several 'Mechs are dedicated long or short range specialists, or focus on one tactic in particular, and suffer significantly when not fighting in their preferred range bracket. The lack of foot speed or defensive armor on these models tends to compound their difficulties. Notable examples include the Hollander sniper 'Mech and the Hunchback close-combat 'Mech, both of which are powerful at their respective range brackets, but quickly and readily countered by one another's ranges. Overspecialization can be exacerbated by the MechLab, such as a player stripping all their long range weapons in favor of more shotguns. MechWarrior Living Legends showed the pitfalls of overspecilization with the introduction of alternate asset types such as battlearmor and aerospace fighters; a weapon good at killing mechs at range will be pretty awful at killing a battlearmor pounding through your cockpit canopy.
  • SD Gundam Capsule Fighter
    • Many units are designed to be this way and usually suffer for it, thanks to its Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors gameplay: Rock-type units excel in fighting in close range and are able to get in close quickly, but suffer by not having the quickness to shoot back in long range, if they have guns at all. Scissor-type units is more of a Jack-of-All-Trades and tend to be easily pounced on by Rock-types. Paper-types excel in long range attacks, even going so far as to be able to shoot from across a stage. However, their swing is incredibly lacking, if they have blades at all.
    • The S-Rank Gundams from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz really suffer from overspecialization: Wing Zero Custom excels in shooting at long range, but crumples at close range; Altron specializes in melee attacks, but doesn't have consistent range attacks aside from a grappling attack; Sandrock Custom specializes in stunning attacks but can easily lose that with a Vaccine item; Heavyarms Custom specializes in Tanking, but loses out in mobility and firepower; and Deathscythe Hell specializes in stealth attacks and Back Stab, but crumples because of the lack of defense.
  • In Armored Core 4 and For Answer, some standard schematics that fall into this. Good examples include the AALIYAH and GAN-01-SS frames. You can also throw any of BFF's designs into this. And we haven't even touched on some of the individual pilots yet. *cough* SHINKAI *cough*

    Puzzle Game 
  • Puzzle Quest and its sequel Galactrix: Pumping all your skill points into one or two types of mana/energy gives you near Game Breaker power with some of your spells/attacksnote  but at the cost of under-powering the rest of your arsenal. And that's assuming you don't run into an enemy who has high-resistance to or can counter that particular mana/energy type (and you will) leaving you to muddle through with weak attacks while it pounds you at full strength.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Age of Empires III
    • Mortars are incredibly powerful against buildings and ships but can't be used at all against any other unit.
    • Pikemen are good against all cavalry, but useless against infantry and artillery.
  • Battle Realms both uses and avoids this trope. All ranged units can also attack in melee (but most of them are horrible at it), while most tier 1 melee units have only a melee attack and nothing else. The tier 2 and 3 melee units of the Dragon and Serpent clans have a secondary ranged weapon, however, which is useful in a pinch. There are also 7 damage types (slashing, piercing, blunt, crushing, fire, explosion and magic) and all units have different resistances to each type — any commander who tries to overspecialize by fielding an army of one unit type will quickly find that this is not a good idea since they can be quickly countered by a smaller number of units whose attacks screw them over.
  • Combat in the second The Battle for Middle-Earth game tends to consist of a desperate attempt to get the right type of unit fighting the right enemy, because if they're fighting the wrong type they get slaughtered. Well, unless they're fully upgraded elven archers, who can usually mow down an entire cavalry unit while they're charging. Or fully upgraded Rohirrim, which can trample right over pikes. Incidentally, these two units are the ones capable of both melee and ranged combat. The first game even allowed you to merge two infantry units into one. If one unit was melee fighters, while the other one was archers, then the archers would take the back rows and first while the infantry holds off the enemy. In the case of two joined elven archers battalions, the ones in the back would use their bows, while the front lines would switch to swords.
  • Dawn of War, much like it's source material. Anti-vehicle weapons are useless against infantry, regular weapons can only do Scratch Damage against vehicles, melee specialists must get in melee range to do anything, and most ranged infantry crumble in the face of melee combat. However, in the Soulstorm expansion all ranged-units could attack air units, and in the sequel anti-vehicle weapons turn infantry into Ludicrous Gibs; their real weakness is their low rate of fire.
  • In the Command & Conquer games, units usually have only one weapon, and are on their own extremely vulnerable to units impervious to their single weapon. A rifleman never has rockets or other explosives to use against vehicles, a grenadier has only grenades and no firearm for self-defense, a rocket soldier only carries rockets effective against vehicles and aircraft, tanks never have machine guns for close defense against infantry, and so on. This is sometimes in spite of the fact that the unit's sprite/model, or promotional images, will show it with additional anti-personnel weapons. The series also harbors one near constant aversion, however - the Mammoth Tank and its successors have almost always had a big pair of cannons for taking out buildings and vehicles, and ground-to-air missiles for dealing with airborne enemies. They can also run infantry over.
    • Lampshaded as of Red Alert 3 with the background information on the Allied Hydrofoil unit, which has a weapon jammer device. The background states that Allied tank crewmen and fighter pilots asked why their units could not also be equipped with jammers, but engineers the world over have encountered unspecified technical difficulties designing vehicles with multiple weapons. Red Alert 3 actually changed the whole model on this one, given that all units in that game have a special ability of some type, and for about half those units that ability is a second weapon. The hydrofoil's primary is an anti-aircraft gun.
      • Those in the modding community for early games can attest that technical limitations make it impossible to mount more than two weapons on any given object and even then, the two are mutually exclusive when it comes to target selection. (Specifically, the primary weapon can force-fire at the ground, onto terrain objects and is normally used against enemies; the secondary can only attack stuff the primary either can't or where the primary would do less damage, PERIOD.)
    • One of the worst units in the series is the Tank Destroyer in Red Alert 2, the unit itself can only do maximum damage to enemy vehicles, but it can barely hit infantry (though can still run over them) and can only do minor damage to buildings which can be easily repaired while it's still firing.
    • Snipers in all games can one hit kill most infantry, but useless against anything else. However, in C&C 3, they get a passive ability to spot for Juggernauts.
    • Commandos in Tiberium Wars. They are devastatingly effective against buildings and infantry, and exactly ONE type of vehicles: Walkers. There are, prior to the expansion, exactly 3 units of this classification, and at least one was considered Awesome, but Impractical and another was an artillery unit. In the expansion they were made a bit more useful, with a few new variants of the walkers appearing and being genuine threats, while an entire faction focused on infantry.
    • In Red Alert 3, the Apocalypse Tank (a Mammoth Tank Expy) has lost its anti-aircraft missiles in favor of a big magnet that pulls enemy vehicles towards its circular saw. Basically, the tank has been redesigned to be more effective against vehicles, something it was already good at, while leaving it vulnerable against airstrikes.
    • Hammer Tank played with it, since its special ability is an absorption beam which in addition of draining the HP of the enemy while repairing itself, but is also able to steal the weapon of enemy vehicles destroyed while it is targeting them, effectively giving the Hammer Tank a second primary weapon, and possibly an ability to engage air targets.
    • Two units introduced in Kane's Wrath are dedicated anti air, however the AI doesn't seem to know this and often sends them in place of normal tanks, where they get torn apart due to their lack of ground weaponry.
    • In all three Red Alert games, Attack Dogs (and later bears) could only harm infantry as they're only using their paws and teeth (and thus, could not harm vehicles or buildings at all), and could sniff out Spies and Thieves, none of which were particularly useful compared to the time-honored tactic of tank rush (at least not until RA3). Squids and dolphins had a similar problem as while both are invisible to the enemy until he bumped into them, they could only attack aquatic units. Squids have it even worse, as they can't move after they've started attacking a ship. However, all of them are devastatingly good at what they do; dogs and bears insta-kill anything they touch, squids disable ships when attacking them and does this instantaneously, and dolphins' sonic attack not only pierces multiple targets, but also deal respectable damage with a fast firing rate.
  • In Frontline Attack: War over Europe, the only armoured vehicles that have any effectiveness against infantry are the light armoured cars. You can send 20 Pershing tanks to attack an enemy base, but if there's just one team of anti-tank infantry, or grenadiers, or a flamethrower squad, not one of those Pershings will survive. Escort them with M8 Greyhounds, and watch them all die as the light anti-tank emplacements blow up the M8s, then the flamethrower squads do their work on the Pershings. And don't take your own infantry either, because enemy buildings have machine guns, and most infantry is actually crap at anti-infantry work.
  • In Cossacks: European Wars, several kinds of units armed with firearms are completely incapable of defending themselves in close combat, and will simply retreat in face of such an attack. This is particularly ridiculous in the case of the Russian unit called a strelets, which carries a large poleaxe (as is historical, and these poleaxes were of course used in close combat) which is solely used to rest their arquebuses on!
  • Ground Control
    • Anti-air Terradynes cannot target anything on the ground and rocket Terradynes cannot target infantry.
    • In Ground Control 2, helicopter-type units will just own armoured vehicles, such as tanks, with impunity because the tanks have no defense from aircraft. Most units armed with guided missiles can't attack infantry; the in-universe explanation is that individual soldiers are too small for missile tracking to work.
  • Most units in Homeworld are this. The attack bomber is a fighter extremely lethal against warships but useless against fighters and corvettes; most anti-fighter units are fighters or corvettes. The defender is a small fighter with a powerful and fast-firing weapon that will wreak havoc among enemy fighters but is too slow to avoid fire from enemy warships. The defense fighter and defense field frigate block enemy mass driver rounds but does nothing against beam, plasma and missile weapons and is otherwise useless. The mine-layer lays mines to make an area impassable from warships but is useless against fighters. The ion frigate's ion cannon has a powerful punch against warships, but can fire only in front of it and is slow turning, and a squadron of bombers will disintegrate it in a single passage. The drone frigate is a frigate that houses a group of point-defense drones that will annihilate enemy fighters but does nothing against enemy ships. And all the non-combat units only do their main function: the salvage corvette salvages ships and data, the collectors collect resources, etc. All other units are overspecialized for one job, but the different load out of weapons allows them to do something else too (the Mothership and carriers serves mainly to build other ships and carry and repair fighters and corvettes but can also work as anti-fighter units, the assault frigate is good at fighting other frigates and fend off corvettes, etc.)
  • Little Kings Story gives us the Chef. He can kill a Cock-a-Doodle in one hit. He's useless in almost any other task (well, about as useless as carefree adults), and he's expensive as hell. The only reason you'd buy more than one is if your first one got killed.
  • Metal Fatigue
    • Combots that dual-wield ranged weapons do twice as much damage in the same amount of time but absolutely suck at melee combat. Not only they do very little damage by bashing the opponent with the guns, such a build has much less HP and armor than a melee build which in turn is a real powerhouse that can close up into melee range and wreck the ranged combot before it can inflict any real damage. On the other hand, melee combots have two banes: hit-and-run attacks by missile cars and Nemesis trucksnote  supported by bombersnote . Both of these threats are cannon fodder to ranged combots who can easily One-Hit Kill the offenders without having to chase after them.
    • Flying combots are excellent Lightning Bruisers... as long as they have time to land since while flying, they have zero armor which means AA towers can really tear them up. Plus the part that makes the combot fly has absolutely laughable HP. If we take these two into count, a flying combot is actually a Fragile Speedster Glass Cannon: it has firepower AND mobility but it sucks in defensive capabilities so it's only good if the target isn't surrounded by AA.
  • Occurs to some degree in Sins of a Solar Empire. Light carrier-type cruisers have no onboard weapons, just their two fighter or bomber squadrons. Siege frigates and support cruisers have ship-to-ship weapons, but they're rather wimpy. Siege frigates are extremely weak against other ships/buildings, but are the only non-capital ships that can bombard a planet. Torpedo boats in the expansion packs make mincemeat out of buildings and starbases, but are unable to attack other ships/bombard planets.
  • StarCraft
    • The Brood War expansion introduced new units to all three factions (Terran Valkyrie, Protoss Corsair, Zerg Devourer) which have no function other than to attack air units, particularly masses of air units. If your opponent uses a strategy other than mass Mutalisks they were pretty much useless... but given how fond some players were of mass Mutalisks, one could see the reason for doing so.
    • The original game's "Guardian Aspect" Mutalisk was this trope. A very powerful ground attack with incredible range (enough to take out stationary attackers before getting into their range), but slow as molasses and possessing no air attack whatsoever. If you failed to back them up with anti-air units, they'd get wiped out.
    • StarCraft II puts a few more units into perspective with all three races:
      • Like the predecessor, Terran Siege Tanks, the ground based bombardment unit of the race, are ground only and their siege mode lays waste to enemy infantry units and have decent success with ranged armored ground units. They can't attack air units at all and weak melee units that are able to reach the minimum range of siege mode leaves the tank helpless to the zerglings. However, after an update the siege tank got hit with a nerf that weakened its bombardment attack. It is still dangerous in groups, but now it's less absurd in dealing damage with only a single tank.
      • Zerglings of the Zerg race are the same as siege tanks, only in the opposite way. Fast, weak and small, they do well in large masses and rushes at the target(s) to get their dangerously sharp claws tearing up their prey. Of course, they can only attack ground units and have no defense against air units. It's the basis of the Zerg Rush of course.
      • The Corruptors of Zerg are essentially the Devourers in Brood War without splash damage and added a special ability. Their mutation to Brood Lords is technically the same as the previous mutation to Guardians (from mutalisks, only this is from corruptors) other than the unit shooting broodlings instead of acid balls.
      • Zealots are in the same niche as zerglings, except they are slower, a lot more powerful (and expensive) and they still can't hit air units. The thing that helps them attack ranged units is an upgrade available in the game.
  • The Galactic Armory mod for Star Ruler has weapons excellent at killing shields but don't hurt armour or the physical ship.
  • Supreme Commander
    • Most anti-air units are only able to fire at air units, but the Cybran T1 and Cruiser both have a switch to change their weapons from homing missiles to dumb-fire rockets for fighting surface targets. Spread means that it's more effective from the latter, which is fighting large ships, but in groups the former becomes remarkably dangerous.
    • The UEF Anti-Tactical-Missile Defense, which is basically a Phalanx CIWS. It can only shoot down tactical missiles.
    • While most naval units for the UEF and Cybrans have some AA guns mounted on them, the Aeon ships lack any AA, instead mounting them on small, cheap attack boats which are incapable of engaging anything OTHER than air. However their Frigate at least gets torpedo defenses in return and the Cruiser ships are better for AA overall.
  • Total Annihilation did this about as naturally as possible. Every weapon in the game can fire at just about any target (and will try to if necessary), but only the anti-air units have the turning speed, range, or homing ability to actually catch air units 95 out of 100 times. While this meant that generally only anti-air units could take out aircraft, ever so often, you'd see a fighter or bomber shot down by an artillery cannon.
  • Warcraft III's human faction has a unit called the Steam Tank, which does fantastic damage to buildings... but can't attack any units. Its sole use is to damage enemy structures. The Frozen Throne expansion pack remedied this a bit by giving the player the option of buying an improvement that added a rapid-fire, multitarget (though weak) attack that can only be used against flying units.
  • The "Forces of Corruption" Expansion Pack to Star Wars: Empire at War has the most powerful Zann Consortium warship, the Aggressor-class Star Destroyer, being a good example of this. While its firepower is comparable to that of an Imperial Star Destroyer, the ship has a total of 4 weapons. Two of these are Fixed Forward Firing Weapons linked to fire one immediately after another (an ion blast followed by a plasma blast), designed to cripple enemy capital ships. The two Wave Motion Guns fire very slowly but can taken on an ISD. However, should the enemy destroy the two big guns, all the Aggressor has left are two turbolasers that aren't much of a threat against a determined enemy.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Gaius from Tales of Xillia 2. The guy is a Lightning Bruiser, easily dealing more damage than any other party member, and he's extremely fast as well. But, he can only deal Fire, Light and Slashing-type damage, excluding linked artes and affinities. In a game where exploiting the enemy's weaknesses could mean the difference between victory and defeat, Gaius doesn't have many enemies that he's overtly powerful against.
  • City of Heroes has this to a degree, but you have to try for it. You can make a Blaster with all the primary set attacks, as many tertiary/epic attacks as possible, and maybe a travel power, and dump a bajillion damage (and maybe some accuracy) enhancements in, that overall gives enough attacks to be able to blow nearly anything in the game away; unfortunately you'll have no defense, and draw so much aggro that the best tanks and healers in the game will look on helplessly as you get stepped on. Speaking of tanks and healers, you can dump so much into the stay alive/keep them alive sets that you're utterly useless soloing unless you like spending 30+ minutes per random mission. Controversially Cryptic/NCsoft implemented features like diminishing returns and power set restructuring that made these types of setups not only difficult to accomplish, but redundant and more-or-less pointless.
  • Diablo
    • In Diablo II this is often done intentionally: your character may be completely unable to kill cold immune enemies, but that's okay if there are no cold immunes in your favourite hunting grounds and you got rushed to said top level area without killing more than a handful of enemies on your way. There was a time when javazons were popular: they were only viable in one level but that just happened to be the farming hotspot.
    • In the first Diablo, the sorceror's spells are devastating against non-resistant enemies, and are even competent against resistant enemies, but there are certain enemies that are immune to all damage-based magic near the end of the hardest difficulty. Hope you brought Stone Curse and a good melee weapon (or a high-level Golem).
  • Qunari in the Dragon Age franchise are divided into a Fantastic Caste System where each qunari is expected to fulfill their assigned task and no other. When the Arishok's military force was stranded in Kirkwall in Dragon Age II, they had no priests or diplomats and therefore nobody capable or even willing to explain why they were there, allowing radical elements of the Chantry to provoke them to go to war with the moderate Viscount.
  • In DragonForce on the Saturn, archers fit this trope. Their only strength is against harpy troops, but they're either weak against, or average against everything else.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online has the Sorcerer class that can use far fewer spells than ordinary Wizards, they cannot swap between spells on the fly either, but they have much greater magical reserves to draw upon, making them able to hit harder with the same spells and cast them for much longer. However, having few spells to choose from can quickly make a Sorcerer useless - specializing in only fire based spells will not help a player against opponents with fire immunity.
  • Golden Sun
  • The Hammer of Ironfist in Neverwinter Nights 2. You'd think it'd be an Infinity+1 Sword from its stats, but only dwarves can wield it and you get it at about the same time that your dwarf party member completes his Character Development arc which ends with him becoming a Bare-Fisted Monk. Thus, the only way to actually use it is to have a dwarf Player Character (or a high Use Magic Device skill, which doesn't generally go hand-in-hand with Martial Weapons Proficiency).
  • Mint from Tales of Phantasia is the only purely supportive character in the Tales Series, all of the healers falling into the Combat Medic archetype. While it's not an issue in her game of origin, it makes her rather obsolete in the crossover titles like Tales of VS and the Radiant Mythology series.
  • Many, many Pokémon:
    • Rampardos is a Glass Cannon with ridiculous Attack and decent HP, but its defenses and Speed are so low it falls in a couple of hits, and its pure Rock-typing does it no favors. Ninjask is ludicrously fast (one of the fastest in the game, and its ability makes it only go faster), but is not only easily walled with poor attacks and an average Attack stat, its bad defensive Bug/Flying typing and really low defenses make it really only useful for Baton Passing, as it learns a few good set-up moves. Too fragile to do much else though.
    • Shedinja, which can only be hit by super effective attacks and passive damage but only has 1HP at any level. Not to mention five weaknesses. And there's a lot of passive damage attacks.
    • This can apply to many Mons concerning their movesets and whatnot. Many of them can only learn a small type pool, effectively making them one trick ponies. Take the Dugtrio family, for example. Their attacks mostly consist of shaking the ground, shaking the ground harder, randomly shaking the ground at varying strength levels, and burrowing underground and then shaking the ground as they come up. But because of their high speed and ability that prevents opponents running away from them, they are great for picking off opponents weak to those moves.
    • Deoxys can take several different forms. The Attack and Normal forms have the highest attacks and special attacks in the series and a fantastic speed, but their defenses and Hit Points are so weak that they go down in one hit from about anything. Its defense form has superior defenses, but can't really dish anything out. Speed form however, is more of something between a Lightning Bruiser and a Jack of All Stats.
    • A Skitty with the ability Normalize will use all moves as if they were Normal-type. While this means constant STAB bonuses and being able to use moves against types that normally resist them, it also means anything the Skitty does will be resisted by Rock and Steel types, and it is completely useless against Ghosts. This is especially problematic in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon if you get a Skitty as your character; be thankful the game allows Normal moves to do slight damage against Ghosts.
    • Shuckle. It's got ludicrously high Defense stats, but all of its other stats are practically non-existent. There are a few tricks to turn Shuckle into a powerhouse, but this usually leaves it very vulnerable.
    • Absol has an absurdly large movepool and great Attack, but a good chunk of it is wasted due to its average at best Special Attack. Especially so in Generation III, where the Dark-type is considered Special.
      • This was somewhat rectified in Gen. VI with Mega Absol, who in addition to a small increase in Attack, gets massive increases to Special Attack and Speed. However, Mega Absol's paper-thin defenses makes it a Glass Cannon.
    • The Blissey family is specialized as an ultra-high health tank against special attacks, but it is so vulnerable to physical attacks that it ultimately only serves as a Metal Slime during the metagame. Game Freak is surely aware of this, since they littered the Bonus Dungeon of Pokémon Black and White with trainers who only use the Blissey family.
    • Gen. V Pokemon have significantly less type range overall in their movesets compared to previous generations. Generally, they get moves in their own type(s) and a few Normal moves, along with some Status-type moves. Moves outside their typing are rather difficult to come by. Grass-types in general tend to have this kind of typing trouble.
    • Gyms, their Trainers, and their Gym Leaders all follow a type specialisation that can be exploited by the player with counter-strategies using their obvious weaknesses. It's slightly rectified in later versions, as their Pokémon know moves to compensate. Several later Gym Leaders and Elite Four members do avert this sort of, but usually in some strange ways. Candice in Generation IV specialized in Ice-types, but had a Medicham, which is a Psychic/Fighting type. The weirdest would be Volkner and Flint in Diamond and Pearl, who specialized in Electric-types and Fire-types respectively, however Volkner's four-mon team consists of only two Electric-types, and Flint only has two Fire-types on his team of five. (This was because in Diamond and Pearl, there only were two evolved Fire-type Pokemon, Rapidash and the starter Infernape, and Magmortar in Dual-Slot Mode. Platinum expanded the Pokedex, in part to give them teams that are closer to their specialized types.)
    • Either your crime group comes from Orre or you assign very specific Pokemon species to your grunts. Teams Rocket and Galactic are reasonably safe from monotyping (even though their lineups are reasonably weak), but Aqua fears Grass/Electric and Magma loathes Water. Also on that note, Team Plasma does not take Fighting well (the grunts use Watchog and Dark types, N's only protection is Archeops and a Dragon, and even Ghetsis can lose half his team to Fighting attacks).
      • Ghetsis is also a storyline example: a little careful analysis of his team reveals that it is perfectly designed to counter N's, such as leading with Cofagrigus to bait for disguised Zoroark, and the moveset on his Hydreigon. He did not anticipate the player character's interference, did not expect them to defeat (and befriend) N, and is not prepared to deal with them himself, leading to his defeat and Villainous Breakdown.
      • This trope works against Ghetsis in other ways. Due to the weakness structuring and move layout of his entire team, a good Water type can tank one or two members of his team before going down (the exception being Hydreigon). The most probable? Samurott.
    • For the most part, Gen. V champion Alder. While he has extremely powerful pokemon, all but one can be easily taken out by Emboar (though one of these requires using a TM). And the one that can't? Druddigon, a Dragon-type so slow that a powerful Dragon or Ice move will take it out before it does any damage.
      • Similarly, in the sequels Iris also has very powerful mons, but all of them are weak to either Fighting or Ice (the very first mon she sends out is weak to both types). The best choices for taking them out? Basically any strong Water-type other than Magikarp or the Seismitoad evolutionary line that can also learn good Fighting-type moves. The most probable candidate among those? Samurott.
    • While Team Flare has a wider variety with some good defensive and offensive coverage, they still do not escape the "limited species" clause above. Theoretically, a Pokemon that learns both Fairy- and Ground-type attacks can wipe waves of grunts at a time.
      • Even worse is Lysandre, whose lineup makes one question how he planned to contain the Legendary powering the ultimate weapon should it ever go rogue or wind up under the player trainer's command. Mienshao and Honchkrow are both gimped against Yveltal (Mienshao in particular gets wiped by Oblivion Wing) and they, plus Mega Gyarados, are fodder for Xerneas. The only justification for any of this is that Lysandre is completely nutbar, but Ghetsis and Cyrus were stark raving mad, too.
    • The player can deliberately invoke this using the "Choice" items. Choice Band, Specs, and Scarf increase the Attack, Special Attack, or Speed, respectively, of the Pokemon holding them, allowing them to either throw around absolutely devastating attacks or outspeed just about anything that doesn't boast a similar advantage. However, a Pokemon holding any of these items can only use one move until they switch out or lose the item. Particularly savvy players sometimes use this drawback to their advantage by forcing a Choice item onto an opponent's Support Party Member, generally rendering it useless for the rest of the match.
    • And of course, every game has that one Fisherman with a full team of six Magikarp.
  • A problem in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that it is quite possible to use your Praxis Points for a Jensen that specialized in sneaking around and computer hacking (and in fact the game actually encourages you to do that because of how easy it is to die in firefights) instead of combat, and might not even have a lethal weapon on you because of space limitations. Until the game suddenly throws an inescapable boss battle with Barrett at you and you have to figure out how to kill him without any augs or weapons while he's throwing grenades at younote .
  • Alpha Protocol predates Human Revolution in allowing you to build Mike Thorton completely to stealth/technical specifications and then kicking your arse with unskippable boss fights. At least unlike Jensen it's impossible to go completely unarmed and a heavy combat approach is quite viable.
  • Mass Effect: Jack in Mass Effect 2 is specialised with two directed-force biotic attacks that don't penetrate shields and Warp Ammo, which is applied to her less-than-impressive firearms. Basically, this means that she is incredibly good at killing Husks, and incredibly bad at killing anything else.
    • As a race, asari also fall victim to this with their ground forces having a focus on elite biotic commandos rather than a larger combined arms military, relying on their fellow Council Race turians for full scale warfare. This turns out to be less than ideal when the Reapers attack Thessia while the turians are also bogged down fighting Reapers on their home front. Thessia falls swiftly once the Reapers win in space.
  • Phantasy Star II gives us Hugh Thompson, a biologist who comes armed with the ability to learn techniques which are especially effective against biological enemies. The problem is that few biologics have high defense that would require techniques to bypass, plus other characters will likely have techniques which are just as effective, if not more, than anything Hugh can throw out, save for his instant death spells which tend to miss often, anyway.
  • World of Warcraft essentially forces most classes into doing this for either of the three roles in raiding and dungeons, especially hybrids like druids who could theoretically do everything at once, but poorly. Tanks give up most of their damage-output for durability, Healers do the same for healing power and mana regeneration, and damage dealers give up most of their survival chances (and probably won't use what they have left to focus even more on dishing out as much as they can).

    Simulation Games 
  • Chihaya Kisaragi from The iDOLM@STER has an obscenely high vocal stat from the beginning. She will excel at anything vocal related but extra effort is going to have to be made to get her to do good at visual and dance. In the sequel, teammates can help.
  • X-Universe
    • Missile frigates in X3: Terran Conflict are normally just glass cannons, weak on defense but able to level entire sectors from extreme range. However the Boron Kraken eschews any form of point-defense in favor of more missile launchers. This essentially means they have no way to protect themselves from incoming missiles, save for spamming their own missiles at enemy missiles and hoping they hit.
      • The OTAS Sirokos missile frigate is designed specifically for launching boarding pods at enemy craft, and can carry ten more marines than any other missile frigate (30 instead of 20) ... at the cost of having no method of attack other than ramming. It works fine for boarding TLsnote , but it can't really do anything else.
    • Terran and AGI Task Force ships are incapable of mounting Commonwealth weaponry used by every other faction (besides the Kha'ak), forcing them to use the more limited Terran arsenal, which lacks in fast projectile weapons to kill M5s and M4s, and they are completely lacking a frigate-size weapon, making their otherwise awesome Yokohama and Aegir frigates pathetically weak at fighting ships of their size or larger (unless they're equipped with the Wraith missile).

    Tower Defense 
  • Happens to the enemies in the Tower Defense game Tower Madness. The towers you build (save the fully upgraded Missile Launcher) do either energy, explosive, or electrical damage. Powered Armor aliens come in three varieties- Light, Heavy and Bionic, each of which is resistant to one type of damage, but weak against the other two (light resists energy, heavy resists explosives, and bionic resists electricity). If you place two turrets of different damage types, they're pretty much sunk.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Nintendo Wars
    • Units in the Advance Wars series can usually only (effectively) attack a few types of other units. For example, infantry can attack vehicles, copters and other infantry to varying degrees of effectiveness with their firearms, but cannot even engage ships or planes. Some units have a primary and secondary weapon however, which they use against different opponents. The most notorious example is the Missile unit, a devastating anti-air unit that is incapable of firing on anything that doesn't fly. It's also rather weak in the armor department. Woe to the player that accidentally deploys this one on a map without air units.
    • Days of Ruin, features a new unit called the seaplane which totally averts this trope and can attack every single unit with its main weapon. The downside? It has practically no fuel or ammo and so has to be restocked constantly by units with little or no attack capabilities. And it can only be produced by the expensive Carrier unit, which has little purpose beyond that and the ability to supply and repair up to two aircraft units at once.
      • It also features the Anti-Tank, an expensive form of artillery with the ability to counterattack. Unlike other ranged units, it cannot attack sea units and is less effective than the basic artillery against anything but tanks, especially considering the price. It also has the Flare unit, which shoots Flares to light areas in Fog of War and doesn't suffer from as many stiff penalties the recon does in forest terrain.
    • Some COs. Max, for instance, has powerful melee units but incredibly weak ranged units. His opposite Grit is generally considered to be a Game Breaker. Other COs suffer from specialisation in units or circumstances not present on all maps at the cost of unit types that are present on nearly every map (for example, Sonja has attack penalties on all units but increased range in Fog of War, which isn't present on every map).
  • In most Fire Emblem games archers are helpless in melee, and entire classes (cleric, troubadour, etc.) have no combat skills whatsoever, leaving them doomed if the enemy catches them off-guard. In some games, Archers only promote to Snipers which still only use Bows (but have higher stats so it's not as much of a problem if they're caught off guard) while other classes that only use melee may be able to gain access to bows. This might make them useless if it weren't for their high damage output with bows and how longbows are sometimes only usable by snipers. In Sacred Stones it was possible to promote a cleric/priest into a Bishop or a Sage, while mages can be promoted into a Sage or Mage Knight. Sages had higher magic and access to anima, light and staves, while Bishops can only use Light and Staves and Mage Knights may only use Anima and Staves. Mage Knights rode a horse so had higher movement, which didn't count for much as physic and rescue staves already work at long range and you already have good horseback units, while Bishops are only good for killing undead, which you do fight a lot of in the game, but they're only REALLY useful in a post game that gives you nothing but bragging rights rewards. Sage is definitely the better class for option for both.
  • Happens a lot in Galactic Civilizations 2. Typically, when computer-controlled, a race focuses on one type of weapons and armour. Terrans, for example, tend to use armour (good vs. mass drivers - basically huge space guns) and lasers (which are blocked by shields), while Drengin tend to focus on mass driver cannons and armour plating. The player, on the other hand, has the option of focusing on areas the closest races are weak against. This then leads to a second example of this trope where your fleet of Terran-killing shielded missile cruisers runs into a squadron from another race with missile defences and heavy-duty mass driver guns who proceed to eat them alive. So you have to go research armour and mass drivers to exploit their weaknesses and hope that you don't run into a third race who like armour and missiles. It's also ludicrously easy to capitalize on a potential enemy's specialization. In some cases, a race will develop a particular weapon (say, mass drivers), and also the defense against that weapon (armor). You can then trade money for their own defense research, and send your now-fully protected ships against his helpless vessels. On higher difficulty levels, you can do this exactly once, and then the AI will counter-research and murder you.
  • In the Space Empires games the enemy tends to focus on just one type of weapon.
  • In Sword of the Stars there are ways to counter, weaken and negate pretty much every weapon type. Being overreliant on one weapon type often leads to this as the enemy researches and equips the appropriate counters.
    • Drone carriers can fall into this. While dreadnought versions usually have enough mounted weaponry to act as The Battlestar, those below the wall of battle have the majority of their firepower on their drones and become much less useful once PD works its way through said parasite craft.
    • Interceptor missiles are even better than phasers against big PD targets like guided torpedoes and drones, but are completely unable to maneuver against other missiles. This was eventually subverted in the sequel, though their low rate of fire still makes them less than optimal.
    • Shield Breakers are excellent are killing shields but don't do anything against the ship proper.
    • Polarized plasma weapons are an evolution of other plasma weapons you can research, whereby plasma bolts are shaped into thin discs for firing. They slice right through thick armor, but they're terribly weak against shielded targets, making more conventional weaponry the better option.
    • Dreadnoughts fitted with Impactors (enormous railguns) can obliterate other capital ships, often more quickly than with equivalent energy weapons. However good luck hitting smaller ships, since Impactors often miss anything smaller and faster than a similar sized ship as your own.
    • Likewise, the mighty siege driver can be fitted to a dreadnought and fires literal asteroids for planetary bombardment. The unfortunate side effect is that it tends to miss anything smaller than a planet. Also, it's usually unnecessary to bring one to a planetary bombardment when a fleet of well-rounded ships can do the job equally well.
  • Super Robot Wars
    • Getter 3 and Getter Poseidon are pretty much built for underwater battles because they don't suffer from movement limitation. The main problem is the fact that most of the battles takes place in Air, Ground or Space which the other forms excells in. Add to the fact that most of its attacks cant hit Airborne units (including the Daisetsuzan Oroshi and it become fairly apparent why its the least useful. To compensate for this, Musashi or Benkei posess some of the more useful Seishin amongst their teammates to use in their own Getter form.
    • This frequently happened to the Getter Liger and Getter Two as well, for its ussual inability to attack flying units. In fact, a sizable amount of players said that Getter-1 is the form that you will use 99 % of the time, and you should give it adapter anyway.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
    • Almost all air units can't capture bases. You've got to use ground units (for bases on the ground) or sea units (for bases in the sea) for that.
    • The Believers have only one way to win the game without a huge difference in player skill. Expand as quickly as possible and attack anyone nearby. The only way for them to win is to gain a huge advantage early game through expansion, so they can field enough of their undoubtedly weaker, poorly equipped forces to overwhelm the other factions. With a player skill difference, it is possible for the Believers to win in other ways, but they will not perform as well as other factions with any other strategy. This strategy is problematic because several factions can very easily stop the Believers in their tracks by exploiting their weaknesses. In the expansion, assuming equal player skill, it is effectively impossible for the Believers to go toe to toe with the Nautilus Pirates due to the fact Pirates will have centuries to build up their naval forces before the Believers could even hope to mount an attack capable of taking an unguarded sea base.
  • Battle for Wesnoth gives us the Dark Adept, a low-level "black" magic-user with a couple of accurate and fairly powerful magical ranged attacks that has no melee capability whatsoever and is thus a helpless target for anything that attacks it with melee weapons, which basically means "any enemy unit that's not a Dark Adept itself". (If it manages to live to become a Dark Sorcerer, though, it gains a moderately effective staff attack.) On the other end of the spectrum, you can find the Dwarvish Ulfserker (a melee-only unit that when engaged in close combat always fights until either it or its opponent is dead) and the Horseman (also melee-only with its only attack being a charge for double damage both inflicted and received), as well as their level 2 Dwarvish Berserker and Lancer counterparts that do exactly the same, only with more powerful attacks and extra hit points.
  • It's up to you if you want to do this in Endless Space, since you get to design all your ships. However, while every pirate ship you encounter starts with just kinetic weaponry, if you overspecialized to deal with that, your ships will be cut apart when the pirates start mounting armor defenses, lasers and missiles.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hunter × Hunter, this happens during a tournament arc when Hisoka fights an opponent who had a grudge against him, Kastro. Kastro had basically dedicated himself to mastering a nen technique that was so absurdly complex that it left him completely unable to use any other nen techniques, and even limited his ability to learn other non-nen based techniques, so that the opponent only had one (admittedly pretty strong) martial arts move. Worse, once this ability Doppleganger was dispelled, Kastro is completely powerless. Meanwhile, Hisoka himself is a subversion, given that while he has only one real combat based nen ability, he was other nen abilities as well, in addition to a variety of hand to hand and weapon based skills.
  • Mazinger Z: Several Mechanical Beasts had a fighting style entirely based on the weapon or device they were equipped with, and when they lost it, the battle was finished shortly after (even though they usually tried to put up a good fight). Jinray S1 (episode 24) best weapon was its amazing flight speed (Match 5!) that it used to dive at its enemy, striking it with lightning bolts and missiles and fleeing away. Since it could hit him and and run away before he could even spot it, Kouji got a very hard time... until he blew up one of its rockets. Unable to perform its hit-and-run tactics, Jinray was helpless. Holzon V3 (Episode 17) was armed with huge drills to burrow underground and set off earthquakes, making it deadly... unless you forced it to return to surface, where it was a crappy fighter. Kajimofu T7 (episode 48) combined both its palm blasts and its missile launcher to hit its adversary. It was a very efective, destructive tactic... but when Sayaka and Boss ripped its arms off, the battle was over because its missile launcher was not strong enough on its own.
  • Naruto
    • Members of most clans seem to suffer from this, as they tend to only use the clan's signature techniques even when they could learn others. Plus their specialization can be found out just by knowing their last name. Teamwork is greatly stressed and teams typically consist of 4 people from different clans or backgrounds, so the "crippling" part is usually guarded against, though they tend to have a specialised theme (eg. Team Gai are all Taijustu types, but different types of Taijutsu; Team Kurenai / 8 specialize in tracking, but different types of tracking, etc.). It is also not uncommon for different teams to work together, or for members to join other teams temporarily.
    • Subverted by the Uchiha clan. Though played straight at beginning levels, where the abilities their Sharingan gives them (move copying, enhanced perception) can only go so far, once they reach a certain point and unlock its evolution, the Mangekyo Sharingan, they've basically won the Superpower Lottery. And in the unlikely event that the Mangekyo doesn't get the job done there's a whole other level, the Rinnegan, which puts the user above basically everything else in the universe, up to and including various Eldritch Abominations.
    • Possibly also subverted by the Aburame clan—while they indeed only have a handful of jutsu, the main jutsu is basically the ability to control a swarm of chakra-eating bugs, which is actually extremely versatile and effective, so a lot less crippling overall. Too bad Shino doesn't get more screentime.
    • The Raikage is this in spades. He uses taijutsu and focuses on melee combat using his high speed and strength to overwhelm the enemy. We see that when he tosses Sasuke around like a ragdoll. However, he tries to do the same against the much stronger Madara Uchiha... and it doesn't work too well. He has no long ranged jutsus at all, or even summoning, bunshins displayed, or anything to make up for his style's weaknesses. Thus, he's the only Kage to under perform in the War. Especially against Madara, since he needs Onoki's help to even breach Madara's Susano'o.
    • Hidan of the Akatsuki is immortal, which should make him powerful, but it doesn't. He only has one real power, which requires him to ingest someone's blood after cutting them, then create a ritual circle, stand in it, and he becomes a living voodoo doll for that person. He uses it to kill Asuma. Once this technique is analyzed, there are a few weaknesses. If Hidan is removed from the circle, the effect ends. Furthermore, while immortal, he can be chopped up to remove the threat he poses. Finally, he has to attack someone with melee in order for the technique to work. A user of long ranged combat who is powerful enough to disable him will have no problem doing so. Made even worse by how Hidan's speed is at best average (he notes that he's the slowest member of Akatsuki).
    • Tayuya's powers themselves were fairly versatile: creating illusions and controlling summoned demons with music. But she still suffered from this as she didn't carry a single tool (not even a kunai) besides her flute, which she needs to craft her illusions. So of course the moment her flute is lost or damaged she's pretty much screwed.
    • Doto and his snow ninjas, the villains of the first movie. They have special chakra-armor, small devices that deflect or negate chakra based attacks. This renders many of the team's attacks useless but in the finale Kakashi points out the big hole in the logic of the chakra-armor: it protects against chakra attacks but does to nothing to protect from normal physical attacks. He then exploits this to defeat The Dragon by piledriving the guy off a small cliff headfirst. If his armor was better it might have protected him from the impact but because his armor was so specialized against chakra, he gets killed by the fall.
    • Might Guy and Rock Lee are the series most prominent examples, choosing to focus exclusively on Taijutsu to devastating effect. Might Guy is a bit of an interesting case since he has shown proficiency in varying types of Jutsus, he chooses to rely mainly on Taijutsu.
  • Kinnikuman: Hawaii champion Jessie Mavia had this problem. He was absolutely unrivaled in his ability to counter and reverse attacks, but as a result had no original techniques of his own. Kinnikuman achieved victory in his fight by realizing this, goading Jessie into attacking him, and hoisting him by his own petard.
  • Saint Seiya: Seiya's master, Marin, taught her disciple this "If you meet someone stronger than you, attacks his best weapon. If he punches hard, aim for his arms. If he kicks strong, aim for his legs. After you destroy it, you will be able to win with no trouble." Early on the series, Seiya met Bear Geki, a warrior had focused his training in reinforcing his arms to the point of he could easily throtle grizzly bears. As soon as Seiya managed breaking his arms, Geki was defenseless and the battle was over.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: According to the backstory, when Zeon was developing a machine to match the Gundam, their choices were the Gelgoog and the Gyan. The Gyan was melee-focused, armed with a beam sword and a shield full of mini-missiles and short-range bombs, and intended to work in concert with the Rick Dom (which was, surprise surprise, manufactured by the same company). This extreme focus caused it to lose out to the more self-sufficient Gelgoog, meaning only three Gyans were ever made, and one shows up as a Monster of the Week while Gelgoogs appear as Mooks from that point on.
    • In Gundam SEED the Buster Gundam was a purely ranged suit with no close-range options. Interestingly, the Strike Gundam manages to be both this and Jack of All Stats since it can change its loadout. In Sword Strike mode the closest thing it has to a ranged weapon are beam boomerangs and rocket propelled anchors which can draw a target into closer range. In Launcher strike mode it has the same problem as the Buster, its only close-range weapons are a small pair of barely used daggers. Most other suits, despite having clear specialty, manage to avert this, and the five Gundams were meant to operate as a team.
    • Crossbone Gundam has the Jupiter Empire try to counter the eponymous Gundams with a trio of mobile suits that excel in one area exactly: the Quavarze is a Glass Cannon, the Abijo a Fragile Speedster, and the Tortuga a Stone Wall. This comes back to bite them when Tobia manages to circumvent their advantages and exploit their weaknesses (grabbing the Abijo so it can't dodge his attacks, attacking the Tortuga in the joints where its thick armor and beam shield can't protect it). Earlier on, Kincaid Nau bests the trio in a similar manner (not dodging the weak attacks of the Abijo, closing range on the Quavarze, and flanking the Tortuga before it can deploy its shield). With a Gundam whose arms had already been sliced off.
    • In Gundam00 the Sadalsuud's unwieldy nature made it useless for anything other than long range combat and even then only as a sensor. The Abul Hool literally HAD NO ARMS and had to make do with its quasi-jet mode.
      • The units used by the Innovades also have a habit of being like this. The Gadessa has no real ranged weapon other than the Mega-launcher. When it gets blown up, suddenly your opponent is a LOT harder to hit. The Garazzo is of no different in that it replaces the Mega launcher with beam claws, leaving it without any effective ranged weapon ever.
    • Gundam Age's Age-1 Titus. It overspecializes in strong melee attacks, but it is dropped off just a few episode after its debut because its heavy armor and lack of range weapons makes it unable to hit any faster unit in space combat.
    • Gundam Sentinel has the FAZZ units, a trio of Mobile Suits designed to test out the Full Armor pack for the ZZ Gundam. Had plenty of ammo, but lacked any means to defend itself in melee range, which gets all three suits destroyed when they go up against the Gundam Mk. V.
    • After War Gundam X meanwhile has the Correl. It's designed to be so fast that it can inflict Death of a Thousand Cuts on most enemy mobile suits it fights with a beam knife. On the other hand, it can't use any weapons other than said beam knife due to the speeds involved. Not to mention stripping off so much armor to achieve that maneuverability renders it very vulnerable to Vulcans.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin Himura is a master swordsman, but is hopeless at unarmed combat and often gets confused by enemy swordsmen that throw in punches or kicks between sword strikes. Less so in the anime. Averted by Saito Haijime, who fights entirely with varying types of stabbing, but is such an excellent swordsman that he doesn't need anything else. Saito is also an expert boxer and is willing to use other weapons like his belt. In one of the last chapters of the manga Kenshin tells a member of the latest Quirky Miniboss Squad — one who specialized in countering stabbing techniques but was defeated by Saito anyway — that if defeating Saito's Gattotsu was enough to defeat Saito himself, Kenshin would have killed him years ago.
  • Most Ranma ˝ characters, but especially one shot practitioners of Martial Arts and Crafts. There's really not THAT much call for the use of Martial Arts Chess, is there? Hilariously, Ranma often make a point of adhering to their rules and restrictions just so he can learn their style properly, and then incorporate their strengths into his "Anything-Goes" school (based off averting this trope entirely), as well as the satisfaction of beating them at their own game. He only occasionally bend or break the rules after he learns what he's supposed to do.
  • Early on in Mahou Sensei Negima!, the explanation for Negi's need to kiss girls in his class is to give them artifacts. Because a traditional mage is useless in unarmed combat and it takes time to cast and activate offensive magics. So they need a partner to defend them and distract the opposing forces. After a few fights where this was a problem for Negi, he learned kenpo. Evangeline explains that eventually any magic practitioner will reach a point where it no longer matters.
  • Bleach
    • Wonderwiess was made for the purpose of using this trope. Giving up speech, intelligence, memory and reasoning so as to have the ability to seal Ryujinjakka's flames.
    • Several of his opponents thought this about Aizen, believing that if he didn't use his sword's powers, he'd be easier to take down. He quickly proves them wrong.
  • Eyeshield 21: Monta, the Deimon wide receiver, is only good at catching. This makes him bad at his original favorite sport, baseball, but good at American football. Sena is dazzlingly fast, but had no strength to push another in power games. Takami, thanks to his build and training, is a quarterback with precise and high- altitude pass, but thanks to injury in his legs, can't move quick enough to avoid sacking. Kurita is obscenely strong and unmovable, but also can't run to save his live. And Yukimitsu, all that he had is ability to deduce possible pass route on the fly and sheer determination, and that's all. Fortunately, the team is directed by a psychotic genius who knows exactly how to make all the specializations form a coherent, powerful whole.
  • The Fang Regalia in Air Gear, a set of A-T wheels can be seen this way as it deprives the user the ability to jump. Instead, it allows the user to release Razor Wind from their A-Ts.
  • All the characters in Fairy Tail have one type of magic that they use, and frequently run into opponents with powers custom tailored to trump that one specific magic, most notably one of the Vanish Brothers, whose power was to nullify fire magic, and he just happened to have been fighting the fire mage. Or Yuta, who can nullify magic, but only one type at a time. Only a few mages show spells outside the speciality, such as Ultear who possesses two schools of magic or the Thunder God tribe who possess eye magic aside from their main magics, though several mages do make up for lack of magic variety with hand to hand skill or weapons like Lucy's whip. Erza is a subversion, since while she uses one type of magic, her magic involves changing her armor and weapons to suit the situation.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
    • Nanoha's training of the forwards doubly subverts this. First Nanoha aims the training to sharpen each member on their own unique abilities to the edge, but avoided the "crippling" part by also reinforcing their teamwork tactics in order to cover each other's weaknesses. Then, she reveals that the "overspecialization" part of the training only covers phase 1-2, and once they dominated their main abilities Nanoha proceeds to balance them by giving them experience and alt-modes for their devices that allow them to face battle conditions outside of their main area of expertise by themselves.
    • Hayate, meanwhile, plays this trope straight. She's the resident nuke-girl of the TSAB, evidenced by the fact that they send out evacuation warnings whenever she takes to the battlefield. The only problem with this is that she cannot use any spell other than nuke level ones and she needs assistance to aim said spells. She even admits that Caro would beat her in singles combat even without said girl's dragons because she was trained by Nanoha.
  • Clare starts out as this in Claymore. She's ranked as the weakest warrior in the Organization because she neglected the standard youma fighting skills to specialize in fighting Awakened Beings. Initially, Awakened Beings are rare enough that the other Claymores consider her to be The Load. By the time the Time Skip rolls around, Awakened Beings are coming out of the woodwork, and regular youma are little more than mooks.
  • Happened to Ash in Pokémon. Even though Grotle still won at times, it became absolutely pitiful when it was Torterra, having never won a single battle. Ash's team in the Sinnoh sage was mainly based on small, fast Pokémon who can deliver hard hits, as well as take some too. But a damn near immobile tank like Torterra was just not his style, and never really adapted to it.
  • Infinite Stratos
    • Ichika's IS is a close-ranged fighter, so in a ranged fight he has to dodge or absorb shots thrown at him until he can get close enough. Unless another IS user allows him to use their ranged weapons. Averted with Rin, who has a weapon that has some medium range capabilities.
    • Laura's A.I.C. (Active Inertial Canceler) seems to nullify any attack thrown at her, but she has to stay focused on the attacker for it to work. So if someone else shoots her from behind...
    • Cecilia's IS is designed solely for long ranged combat, so if an attacker can close the distance before she can take them out, she usually seems screwed. Chifuyu also comments in one episode that she's also designed to take on multiple opponents, but in the anime at least, she only ever fights against one opponent at a time.
  • Katsumi Morikawa, the resident Butt Monkey of Cardfight!! Vanguard. He is a genuinely good player, but he is so obsessed with powerful Grade 3 monsters that his deck balance is ridiculously top-heavy.
  • In The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, several of the Beast Knights are somewhat overspecialized for their own good, usually on the scale and speed of the opponents they can fight. Yuki and Subaru need critical time to charge up and aim their Combined Energy Attack, and risk any enemy escaping or tearing into them before they can fire. Yuuhi's fighting style is highly mobile anti-personnel, limiting his ability to directly harm the golems but making him perfect for taking down the other Knights. Hanako's ice attacks rely on having a supply of water to hand, often only as much as she can carry. Fortunately, the other Knights cover for their limits and provide them the opportunities they need to bring their power into play.
  • Sylphiel of Slayers is an extremely skilled White Magician Girl, but has absolutely no talent for offensive magic. Her attempt to cast Flare Arrow produced a weak and Painfully Slow Projectile that was shaped like a carrot. Later subverted when she learns to cast Dragon Slave of all things.
  • This is the premise of Yuusha Ni Narenakatta Ore Wa Shibushibu Shuushoku O Ketsui Shimashita. Raul was training to be a heroic knight to fight the demon lord. Which doesn't translate well in the world of business once that path is cut short.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, angel weapons can only kill ghosts, demons, and angels. Against humans and zombies, they are about as effective as BB Guns or Nerf swords. They can kill humans and zombies if used indirectly, like when Panty shot a propane tank next to some zombies to make it explode.
  • Silver Spoon: Most of the students of Yezo High agricultural school have severely specialized knowledge relating to the jobs they wish to take as adults or the work their family does, on par with college students in their field. Just don't expect much with other subjects. Hachiken, as an academic Jack-of-All-Trades, often ends up having to tutor his friends but can also organize their disparate skill sets into a cohesive team. (When it comes to pizza, anyway.)

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The battle suit used by Eggman in issues 175-177 was designed specifically to outmatch Sonic, which it proceeded to do marvelously. However, this meant that when the other Freedom Fighters took it on, it went down in a matter of panels.
    • The various Metal Sonics used to be designed with extremely specific functions, but unfortunately they weren't competent outside of that function. This resulted in some very embarrassing defeats for Eggman, such as a Metal Sonic that was specifically designed to be good at fighting Sonic... only for Amy to come along and flatten it like a empty drink can with her hammer. Robotnik eventually learned his lesson from this; when he made a sentient, unique Metal Sonic, he focused on combining the best traits from all the previous models. He also gave Metal the data collected by previous models, allowing Metal Sonic to react properly whenever the heroes try an old trick. Thus where previous models were ineffectual after the first try, this one is a terrifying Implacable Man who can take on four people at once in a fight and still be strong enough for a race afterwards.
  • The page image depicts villain Razorfist from the Marvel Universe. He had both hands removed and replaced with blades to maximize his combat ability. He now needs servants to feed him and attend to his basic personal hygiene. Plus, every time he's arrested, the blades are replaced with prosthetic hands to which he's unable to adjust, as shown in an issue of Toxin.
  • As part of his Training from Hell, recurring Captain Britain villain Slaymaster repeatedly punched boulders with his left hand until his entire hand was covered in a thick callous, which he ground to a deadly point. He described the ordeal as a "ninja trick" and admitted that it had made his hand useful only as a weapon.
  • The Archie Mega Man comic features Crash Man and Needle Man, who have drills and needle-shooting guns in place of actual hands. This makes them dangerous in combat, but incapable of performing practical tasks like lifting things. It also means that if they're weapons are damaged, than they're helpless. A running gag involves Crash Man resenting his creator for not giving him hands.

    Fan Fic 
  • It starts out looking like this will be the case for one of the Angels in Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, as it tries and fails to use Eva-focused attacks like venomous spikes on Magnos Tancred (which is basically a tank with feet, and has none of the squishy biological components that were being targeted). Then it disgorges an army of relatively tiny monsters, which kill two-thirds of Magnos Tancred's crew and begin slaughtering their way through Tokyo-3.
  • In Atlas Strongest Tournament, Ran Biao trained her flame breath to be strong enough to melt Rarity's metal acupuncture needles; however, her reliance on this leaves her vulnerable to Rarity's diamond backup needles.
  • Multiple Naruto fanfics, most notable ''Scorpion's Disciple, have pointed out Sasori's reliance on poisoned weapons as this by having him fight someone completely immune to poisons (generally Orochimaru or Naruto). Whether he lives to learn from such a weakness however varies from story to story.
  • In Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Sonada's fight against Ohsugi had her use her ponytail (which acted like a poisonous scorpion stinger) to attack. However, Ohsugi's weapons—a finned glove and slippers glued to craft foam) was upgraded by Nadeshiko and SOLU and once he uses them to remove the ponytail, it was all too easy for Ohsugi to punch her lights out.
  • Contract Labor: During their honor duel in chapter 21, Keitaro gets the better of Motoko by mixing in gut-punches with swordplay, exploiting the fact that Motoko has only been seriously trained in swordsmanship.
  • You know how Hayate's mentioned about in Anime and Manga? This comes back to bite her in the ass in White Devil of the Moon: since she's no good in close quarters single combat, Queen Beryl easily curb stomps her and steals the Jewel Seeds Hayate was holding.
  • Kyoshun Keiji from Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja has "unbalanced" eyes that give him vision like an eagle at long range. Combined with his almost supernatural abilities with shuriken, he's arguably among the best shuriken users in the entire world, despite being only a genin. However, the drawback of this is that he can't focus his eyes on moving objects that are too close to him- on his first encounter with his new teammates, he went to shake hands with Naruto and missed. Predictably, this makes him completely pants at taijutsu and nearly completely incapable of defending himself at close range. Also, he's only good with shuriken, being average to poor with other thrown weapons such as kunai.
  • In Opening Dangerous Gates, a demon trio tailors their abilities to serve as a Man of Kryptonite against Laxus. They then discover that they aren't really good at fighting anybody else.
  • In Tealove's Steamy Adventure, Snowcatcher has the special talent of catching snowflakes. When Tealove asks her to come along on her adventure (to find a magic tea plant in a distant mountain range), Snowcatcher is the first to point out that she wouldn't be remotely helpful on the trip. Naturally, she comes along anyway.

  • In The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising, Joanna creates a fighter character for Dungeons & Dragons with feats for winning initiative, making high-damage critical hits, and getting extra attacks every time she fells an enemy. As a result, her character is excellent at cleaning out hordes of minor enemies before anyone else can move. However, she has low armor class and hit points, so tough enemies who can weather a critical hit or two, like bosses, can take her out easily.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Combined with Blessed with Suck, the fact that Felix's hammer can fix anything. The problem is, fixing is all it can do. When he tries to use it on loose prison bars, he simply makes them stronger. With his hammer as his only weapon, Felix is at more than a bit of a disadvantage by the climax of the movie, where he's outside of his game (i.e. is perfectly capable of dying) and being attacked by mindless killing machines. Luckily he never has to find out a way to protect himself as he's with Calhoun, who has a gun, and not long after she runs out of ammo, Ralph saves the day.
    • To show that context is important for Overspecialization, the reason Felix is crippled by fixing things is that outside of his own game he's not put in any positions where fixing things will help him. Ralph has the opposite problem; he can only wreck things, which in his own game makes him dangerous to be around and unpopular with the Nicelanders. Once thrust into the plot of the movie though, wrecking comes in very useful.

  • A man was working in an office overlooking a park. Over the course of a day he saw two city park workers - one would dig a hole, and then the other would fill it in. This went on all morning, so the man wandered down on his lunch break to ask about it. "Well," said one of the workers "I dig the holes, Charlie puts the tree in, and then Bob here fills them in. Thing is, Charlie's sick today."
    • Funnily enough, this is a bit Truth in Television at times: sometimes union rules make it so that the guy who drives the truck isn't allowed to take the box off the truck and must wait for the one who can to arrive - useful to keep people from being pressed into doing a ton of work that is outside what was agreed to, for little or no further compensation, but sometimes in certain situations it can get crazy nitpicky.

  • In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty is an expert on words and definitions, so much that he claims to be able to assign definitions to words and make them mean anything he pleases (literally). However, he seems to be very bad at math; when Alice tells him that 365 minus one equals 364, he asks her to do that out on paper so he can be sure.
  • Used in Philip K. Dick's short story "The Variable Man": the eponymous man is a jack-of-all-trades tinker picked up from the past by scientists in a highly specialized future. They need him to fix something that no one has the specialization for.
  • The Book of Swords has three primary examples. The first being the sword of heroes, which if not used against dragons just acts like a very well crafted sword. The second is the sword of siege, which if not used against earth or stone, acts likewise. This is from a series of books where comparatively speaking, the most powerful of these swords had the power to kill deities. Since every sword has a Necessary Drawback, Overspecializing also seem like not to big a deal after a while... until the wielder of Swordbreaker needs to fight unarmed opponents.
  • In Lensman the overspecialised ships are frequently either laden down with defence shield generators ("I can't hurt you but you can't hurt me") or all weapon (frequently one big Wave Motion Gun style weapon) and tend to accompany each other in large groups. The fleet flagship, Directrix, is all combat-management and defence shields but never goes out and about without an englobing escort of Maulers.
  • Happens to some Insequent in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. They gain their powers through knowledge, so an Insequent who studies only one or two specific things may be powerless in situations not involving them. For example, the Harrow has made a study of the Demondim and related creatures, meaning he can tear through them like wet tissue paper all day - but he goes down like a chump against a Kastenessen-powered Roger Covenant.
  • In the sci-fi book Matched this is one of the main tenets of the Society. Nobody learns anything but what they have to know, including of the past. The Society chose 100 of the best of everything from the past for everyone to know about. They also even extended this to choice, in that nobody should have to choose anything that they don't know about.
  • My Dark And Fearsome Queen: Thalia is a goddess of unimaginable power. The only catch is, to use her power she has to chant an incantation, and the more precision required, the longer the chant becomes. In a rapidly changing battlefield situation, she's practically useless unless you want to crush everything in a mile radius.
  • The cruiser Honor Harrington commanded in the first book of her series had been refitted as a testbed around a nigh-unstoppable weapon, however the reduction in normal weapons load and extreme short range of the prototype weapon meant the only way the ship was effective in combat against an equal or larger opponent was to either somehow to sneak in close enough to fire the weapon, or pray the ship could hold together long enough on an near-inevitable suicide run to get close enough to fire the weapon.
  • Discussed in Jean Auel's Earth's Children series. Woolly mammoths, by becoming so specialized and adapted to such a narrow climate range, ensured they'd survive and exploit a unique niche on the dry, cold ice age tundra, but such specialization also meant that warmer, wetter climates would be utterly devastating. Furthermore, the Neanderthal Clan was in danger of becoming extinct because the men could not learn how to gather and cook food and the women could not learn how to make weapons and hunt, which was why they had to live together in groups. A lone Neanderthal was a dead Neanderthal.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love contains the opinion that specialization is sub-human:
    Lazarus Long: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
  • World War Z this appears to be one of the reasons the initial outbreak wipes out human armies, shown with the US Army specifically. Modern military thinking is no good against an enemy that can be neither shocked nor awed, and their standard tactics like targeting center of mass, dropping bombs, and setting targets on fire betray them. However, more detailed analyses by readers with actual military knowledge reveals that the zombies happen to be coated in Plot Armor, and Brooks nerfs standard weapons against them. Also, he has the military hold off on weapons that can effectively turn most squishy targets to paste from miles away until the Zacks are in visual range. Not to mention the military suddenly forgetting everything it knew about the Zacks from the black ops they mentioned, and not learning about their resistance to explosives from the Israelis either. In reality, the military would've rolled right over the Zacks.
  • The Lancer-class frigate from the Star Wars Expanded Universe was specifically designed as a counter to the starfighter-heavy Rebel Alliance/New Republic fleet. It's a 250-meter ship bristling with laser cannons, intended as a flak boat to protect other capital ships. Unfortunately, in addition to being too expensive and manpower-intensive, it had no heavy weaponry for fending off capital ships, so most admirals eschewed it in favor of expendable TIE screens.
  • In The Wheel of Time this is Aginor/Osan'gar's main obstacle towards being an effective villain. As a channeler he's overwhelmingly powerful (among the Forsaken he's behind only Ishamael and maybe Lanfear), but he's really only good at doing one thing- using magitek to make monsters. Problem is that while this made him essential to the Shadow in the Age of Legends, in the modern world the necessary magitek no longer exists, and every time he's in a straight fight he tends to attack a lot ineffectively before getting curbstomped. He ends up dying having been one of the least effective Forsaken.
  • In Philip Jose Farmer's The Lovers, the main character is a professional Jack of all Trades (JOAT). His whole job is to make sure that medical research specialists know about advances in other fields that can be applied to their specialty.
  • In Proven Guilty, Daniel escapes from Hammerhands by climbing into the treehouse, figuring his handless pursuer can't follow him up a ladder.
  • In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi criticizes at great length schools who teach only one weapon, or whose style relies on the use of a specific weapon. This overemphasis leaves the fighter unable to use the most advantageous weapon(s) available for the circumstances. He even discouraged over-reliance on the nitouken form, which he had forumlated.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, the eponymous character goes up against an opponent with ridiculously overdeveloped fire magic. After that opponent fell into a river during the fight and literally dissolved due to an extreme weakness to water, Pleasant explains to the protagonist that becoming strong in one area of magic necessitates a corresponding weakness to its opposite. Could also count as a case of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
  • The Tanith First-And-Only of Gaunt's Ghosts are scarily effective in their specialties of stealth, scouting and infiltration, with the events of Traitor General being the most comprehensive example of their skill. Unfortunately the Imperial Guard mostly just throws people in the meat grinder and hope they come out with fewer casualties than the enemy, with the Ghosts frequently getting slaughtered. This is most apparent in the trench warfare in Straight Silver, and the siege battle in Only In Death.
  • Three examples from The Elenium and The Tamuli by David Eddings:
    • When the Zemochs first encountered The Church Knights and their heavy armor in combat, they didn't understand that the purpose of it was protection; they simply knew it made the enemy look fearsome, so they made their own armors with serrated blades and other imposing-looking additions. This caused two problems: it still didn't provide any protection, and all the protrusions served to help guide weapons to vulnerable spots.
    • In the last book of The Elenium when the hero's party are approaching the villain's stronghold, they come across a rank of warriors in armor in formation. Upon engaging them, they figure out that they're actually animated suits of armor and are scarily effective at combat, but never break formation, leading them to figure out that they've been enchanted to guard the flagstone they're standing on. One careful trip through and one errant shove to send the armors into each other and the way was clear.
    • In The Tamuli, the Cyrgai were a proud warrior race that pretty much stomped everyone they came across until they ran into the Styrics, who soundly defeated them and then cursed their land so that any Cyrgai who left their borders would die. The Cyrgai had access to half-breeds that got around this limitation, and the leaders ordered their soldiers to focus on producing more of them, which they the exclusion of producing more of their own. Their women were too old to bear children by the time this was figured out, leading to them having bred themselves out of existence if not for divine intervention.

    Live Action TV 
  • The fact that the Lexx has no other weapons or defenses apart from its planet-shattering Wave Motion Gun have caused plenty of trouble to the protagonists over the course of the series. Could be justified, if His Divine Shadow wanted it easily re-taken if it ever fell into the wrong hands. (Which, in fact, it did.) Presumably it would've had escort ships along to defend it if it'd ever been used as intended.
  • On Good Eats, Alton Brown refers to items with this issue as "unitaskers", stating that the only one he'll have in his kitchen is a fire extinguisher. And during the 10th Anniversary Special he makes a smoothie using a fire extinguisher.
  • Unlike previous Super Sentai, the team in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger have no inherent special powers, instead relying on the powers of their predecessors via the Ranger Keys. This came to bite them in the ass when, in the first movie, the Keys were stolen from and used against them, leaving the Gokaigers to fend for themselves. It was only fortunate that their direct predecessor team, Tensou Sentai Goseiger, were able to help get their powers back. (for the uninitiated, the Gokaigers' basic arsenal only consisted of a Gokai Saber and Gokai Gun each at the time.) Later averted in the series itself when the keys were stolen again, but the team got them back themselves, even beating copies of their suited forms in the process.
  • In Thunderbirds, Thunderbird 3 is the only one that can go into space and Thunderbird 4 is the only one that can go underwater, but that's all they can do, and while underwater rescues happen far more often than they really should space rescues only happen two or three times in the entire series. In most rescues this leaves Scott and Virgil in Thunderbirds 1 and 2 to do almost all of the work while Alan and Gordon mostly just assist them.
  • On The Sing-Off, after the least technically proficient groups have been weeded out, the groups that are very skilled in one particular style of music and have a hard time adapting that style to incorporate other influences are usually the next eliminated, as versatility is something the judges value very highly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • All Chess pieces are overspecialized, to some extent or another. The Queen's enormous power and value comes from being the least specialized, being able to move like any other piece except the Knight. Ironically, the queen's mobility leads to it being the least useful piece for controlling territory. Opposing rooks, bishops, and knights can stand on the many squares threatened by a queen just so long as they're defended, since taking a knight only to lose your queen is generally bad. By contrast the two squares attacked by a pawn are effectively off-limits to any opposing piece besides another pawn.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Eldar have this as their Hat. Each Eldar going down the Path of the Warrior dedicates themself to one Aspect of war at a time; Dark Reapers deal long-ranged death to enemy heavy infantry, Striking Scorpions can unleash enough close combat attacks to cut through hordes of light infantry, and so on. But while each type of Aspect Warrior may excel in its battlefield role, they're usually screwed if put up against a different type of threat, so those Dark Reapers won't last long in close combat, while hostile heavy infantry can shrug off the Striking Scorpions' flurry of attacks. The saying goes that if you pit five Space Marines against five Eldar, four of the Eldar will die while the survivor single-handedly cuts down the Space Marines, because that's what she was trained for.
    • The Tau have some of the best guns in the game, and its military focuses on getting the most out of them, but the race is just pathetic in close combat. The Tau have recognized this at least and can bring in allied alien auxiliaries that are better-suited for melee, but even so, those close combat "specialists" would be considered mediocre at best in any other army and are better at counter-charging than leading an assault.
    • The Tyranids ran into this when the Dark Eldar finally got a new codex. One of the Tyranids' trademarks is an array of multiple-Wound, high-Toughness, monstrous creatures that turned out to be highly susceptible to Dark Eldar weaponry causing Instant Death or dealing Poisoned attacks that neutralize a high Toughness value.
    • Chaos Daemons take this to ludicrous extremes. Typically only Tzeentchian units have any sort of ranged attack, putting the rest of the army at a one-turn handicap as it's left standing still while the enemy shoots first. Furthermore the army is the only one that must deploy using Deep Strike, which is either Gamebreaking (cap an objective on turne one) or horribly underpowered in other scenarios (like Annihilation, where you have to kill everyone else).
    • This is also encouraged in tournament play. Consider a Space Marine Tactical Squad equipped with a Flamer and a Lascannon. The former is a short-ranged weapon that can be used while moving against a swarm of light infantry, while the latter is a long-ranged anti-tank weapon that can't be fired after moving. If either weapon is fired, the other is probably not in a situation to contribute anything, whereas a dedicated anti-tank or anti-infantry squad would be fighting with better efficiency against its viable targets.
    • Deliberately invoked by the Imperial Guard, at company level. Any Imperial Guard regiment would be trained and equipped for a single role, be it foot infantry, mounted infantry, mechanized infantry, artillery, armour, whatever. The intention being that a single company has to rely on others for combined arms warfare, and hence won't survive long going rogue.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In 4th Edition, one has the option of using a significant number of their starting stat points to boost a single score to 18 (potentially a 20 if the character gets a bonus to that score from race). However, this costs such a prohibitive number of points that all the rest of that character's stats will be Below Par, at the very best. Since defenses and secondary abilities of powers are often based on scores not directly related to a class' primary attack stat, this usually leaves a character open to attack. And since many feats have ability score prerequisites, the choicest of these will often be out of reach of a character who has overspecialized a single stat. Note that this can be entirely nullified by having a well-balanced group (ie. a bard with maxed Charisma and terrible defenses in a group with many tanks/strikers will never get attacked if the group remembers to keep her in the back/center).
    • D&D in general, really. For every single ability in 3.5, there's at least one way to reduce or negate the damage. Fighters who specialise in the longsword will find themselves disadvantaged against an opponent who negates all damage that isn't piercing. A sorcerer that only chooses fire spells will not have a fun time against the monster with fire immunity. Rogues dread encounters against enemies that are immune to sneak attacks (which are many). At higher levels it's not uncommon for fighters to carry multiple weapons made of many different materials, just so they can be prepared for any situation. This is one reason why Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards is in full effect: spellcasters who prepare their spells from a list can avoid this trap by changing their spells in accordance with the situation.
      • D&D's unofficial Tier System reinforces this fact. The Top Tier classes can either learn every spell of their paradigm they come across, have access to their entire spell lists by default, or can replicate any spell in the game. (The Cleric and Druid can also function as melee on top of all that, hence the CoDzilla term in the metagame). The Tier Two classes are equal to the tier ones in raw power, but lack the versatility of their counterparts. As the tier thread puts it: "If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways."
    • In 4e, the selection of attack powers available at each level - and this applies to several fighting and magic using classes - can differ between direct attacks that affect one opponent (the sin qua non of the "striker") and area of affect attacks (bursts and blasts) that can damage many targets. The latter tend to do less damage and may not have as good a hit chance as the former. Without a mix, a character can be vulnerable to either solo monsters or minions.
    • Many powergamers in all TTRPGS, but especially D&D, who have their pet "broken" builds run into a serious problem when faced with GMs who throw unexpected challenges at them; by relying on shattering the game in one particular place, they are vulnerable when challenged out of their depth by the GM.
  • In the classic Metagaming Concepts game Rivets, the premise is simple: all the people are dead, and the remaining Boppers (Battlefield Orientated Pre-Programmed Eradicator Robots) are fighting it out over the resources they need. The trouble is, these Boppers are pretty stupid, 'average IQ only slightly higher than that of most kitchen appliances'. Each player has to choose what type of unit each type of unit attacks. That's right. You don't program an individual unit, you program a type of unit to go after another type of unit. If you're attacked by a unit you're not programmed to attack, you're screwed. You can, however, reprogram them, but that means bringing every one of that unit type back to your base/factory.
  • BattleTech
    • The BattleMechs are prone to this, as well as subverting this. You can either have a general jack-of-all-trades or a specialized 'Mech that's doomed once someone skips out of its range bracket. Also, under the latest rules, most (not all) 'Mech-scale weapons do only a small fraction of their regular damage to conventional infantry, which can become a problem at those distances where the infantry can actually shoot back. Justified in that 'Mechs are meant to used in concert (IE, fire-support standing behind the close-assault mechs, scouts staying in cover and acting as spotters for long-distance artillery, high-speed mechs flanking while the main assault force holds the enemies' attentions, etc.). Individual 'Mechs are specialists; the military units they make up are intended to be balanced. Then the Clans showed up with their versatile OmniMech designs and the Inner Sphere soon caught up and started reverse-engineering captured Clan BattleMechs in order to compete with their advanced technology. Though OmniMechs themselves also do have their limitations as well, one being that they are not fully modular, which can hamper potential configurable designs for a would-be creative pilot.
    • One of the earliest Subversions of this is the Stalker-class Assault Battlemech, which carries both large and medium lasers, as well as both Long and Short range missiles, giving it the ability to fight at every range. Ironically, it's the most well-rounded mech of it's time despite having no ballistic weapons and relying enitrely on energy and missile ones.
  • Exalted
    • The Primordials, the transcendently powerful beings that created the setting, each have their own themes, and are absolutely all-powerful, invincible, and unassailable within those themes; Authochthon is the Craftsman, Malfeas is the King, She Who Lives In Her Name is the Organizer, the Ebon Dragon is the Corrupter, etc. The thing is, each Primordial is not only absolutely helpless outside of those themes, but absolutely incapable of even thinking outside of them. For example, Malfeas is incapable of any kind of subtlety, compromise, or anything else that requires him to act from a position of anything less than absolute power and authority, and She Who Lives In Her Name cannot be unpredictable or spontaneous in any way.
    • Applying this and its relative Min-Maxing in the Shards of the Exalted Dream spinoff Burn Legend will get you curbstomped on a regular basis. The guy with Strength 5 and lots of Grapples - say, a Mugen who invests heavily in Wrestling and the linked Mugen techniques - will get his ass handed to him by a simple Whistling Stone Atemi. Burn Legend is based very heavily on Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, meaning that showing up as Captain Scissors is begging for everyone else to pull out their cheap, low-ranked Rock technique and smash you into a pulp.
  • In Magic: The Gathering there's a branch of decks known as Combo decks that fall into this. They aim to do one specific thing using a certain combination of cards. When this thing happens they usually win instantly. If they can't get the cards in or one of them gets destroyed, they're usually left with a sub-par deck. Combo decks tend to be very good against 'raw power'/'aggro' decks because comboed cards will dismantle an equal number of individual cards without synergy (even though said cards tend to be stronger individually), and are vulnerable to control decks that systematically block or remove the components of a combo. These are popular among some casual players, who don't care nearly as much about a reliable win/lose percentage as about the fact that it's absolutely hilarious to use a finishing attack featuring an unblockable attacker whose power and toughness grow by a factor of 32 every turn.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! you will see some decks that would be Overpowered...only if played against a specific deck. For instance, The Allies of Justice mean certain death to Light Decks, but are powerless against anything that isn't Light. In newer Generation, The Heraldic and Heraldry ace monsters (used by Tron in the anime) are the embodiment of Xyz monsters' nightmares, being able to drain their Attack, Effects, and even names. Unfortunately, many players still use Synchros and don't rely on Xyz, making these cards laughably useless against them. (Though the One-Winged Angel form of Number 69 might still be able to put a dent in anything the opponent might summon).
  • Shadowrun's character creation mechanics have always favoured focused characters by rewarding specialisation. It's generally held that a good shadowrunning team consists entirely of specialists who throw nine or more die at a non-overlapping set of very specific skills instead of made entirely of what usually becomes Master Of Nones.

    Web Comics 
  • All the Villain Protagonists of 8-Bit Theater have this to some degree or another, but especially Black Mage and Fighter. Black Mage is one of the most powerful and destructive casters in the setting, but is incapable of dealing with situations in any way other than simply blasting it (and often misses), and Fighter is a swordmaster who is sufficiently skilled to break the laws of reality, but has no idea how to function in all other aspects of life.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has Bulletproof Man, who is only invulnerable to bullets, and these boxers, who try to solve all problems by punching it. Subverted by this witch who surprises an opponent relying on Anti-Magic.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Zz'dtri has fine-tuned his build around countering Vaarsuvius' "blaster-caster" approach to combat. When Vaarsuvius figures out that this leaves him with a weakness to more mundane tactics, and starts fighting smart, the tables quickly turn.
    • Vaarsuvius also suffers from this, especially in the earlier comics (later comics show more flexibility on V's part). V's a spellcaster, but seems to focus on the 'blow-things-up' part of magic. V also tends to dump other stats, meaning V has poor physical ability and charisma. As such, when faced with something that can resist direct magical assaults, V's stymied. Which happens quite a bit.
    "Thrice-cursed Spell Resistance! It's almost like the universe is trying to deliberately force some form of arbitrary equality between those of us who can reshape matter with our thoughts and those who cannot."
    • Roy encounters a half-ogre who has specialised in a very specific style of spiked chain fighting. Aside from being based on incorrect rules interpretations, he is also restricted to a very specific movement pattern, which Roy uses to maneuver him off a cliff to his death.
  • The Vespiary squad in Girl Genius are trained to efficiently destroy some of the most dangerous creatures in the series. Against anything else they can be considered noncombatants.
  • Darths & Droids features Pete, a Munchkin who maxed all the skills he thought that would be useful in a space RPG campaign. As a result, he generated R2-D2, "a short, squat robot with no arms", and in Alternate Universes he generated a bunch of other, equally useless characters.

    Web Original 
  • Chef Excellence: excellent at bags, useless at everything else. Just the bags. Keep bags. Keep bags in mind. Bags, Excellence, bags. And everything will be alright.
  • Dr. Carlos Chronos of The Time... Guys is a brilliant inventor, but can apparently only make time... items.
  • Often a deciding factor in Death Battle, where often the two fighters are more or less evenly matched from a technical standpoint, but one has more variety to their abilities, particularly when the specialization of the overspecialized one happens to be something the generalist knows how to counter (such as in Link vs. Cloud) or the specialization is in something not particularly applicable to combat (such as in Zelda vs. Peach). Special mention to Raiden versus Thor, where Raiden was overly specialized in electric attacks in a fight where both parties were more or less immune to electricity.
  • In Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons Let's Play, Minerelle is a character who relies on her massive Arcana roll to accomplish as much as possible. As a result of this, she isn't particularly useful in situations where she can't just throw Arcana at it till something happens. She suffers a bit from overspecializing in combat as well, since most of her attacks target the enemy's Will defense (and the one that doesn't was a fairly recent addition). As a result, whenever the party goes up against anything with an above average Will, she pretty much has no way to contribute to the battle
  • In To Boldly Flee, each of Terl's crew is responsible for exactly one aspect of flying his ship, and there is only one crewmember assigned to each task. Therefore, Angry Joe is able to cripple Terl and Zod's offensive capabilit by shooting the one weapons officer.
  • Exaggerated for laughs in the Team Service Announcement Class Balance, where the entire BLU team of Team Fortress 2 is Snipers, all of them oblivious to the fact that they're losing the King of the Hill match.
    • In Demoknights and Battle-Medics, the Demoknight is useless against the Sentry nest, but not against performing a double kill to save the Soldier's life. Battle-Medic, however, is completely useless, and the Soldier rejects him.
  • When the Game Grumps play Gundam: Battle Assault 2, Danny spends the whole game playing as Big Zam, a titanic mobile suit who Arin admits right from the start is overpowered ("Guess what your main attack is. Walking.") He spends the whole video literally walking all over Arin when he's not also playing an overpowered boss-level mobile suit, until he finally gets behind Big Zam and makes short work of him while Danny's still trying to figure out how to turn around.

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros.: Jefferson Twilight, Blacula Hunter. He's also got plenty of other, support skills, but You Didn't Ask.
    And they haven't been taken by Blaculas. Though I'm not prepared to rule out Caucasian vampires.
    • O.S.I. agent Headshot is a good sniper...and that's it. A rather miniscule skill-set for a secret agent.
  • Combustion Man of Avatar: The Last Airbender has the unique Firebending ability to focus his energy through an eye tattoo on his forehead, and release it as explosive blasts. While incredibly powerful, it lacks any kind of versatility, and he is apparently incapable of any other techniques. It also makes him quite vulnerable, as any form of disruption to his chi (such as by a blow to the head) can disable his ability to do it. Or cause him to explode. He is also apparently unaware of it being disrupted.
  • The Legend of Korra
    • Pro-benders often suffer from this. While characters like Bolin and Tahno are among the top competitors in their chosen field, their sport's long-range fighting style is laughable when used in real combat. Pro-benders tend to fight as if they're still on the game field, and will sling fixed amounts of rock or water at an enemy. Get up close and a pro-bender's defense falls apart. In comparison, someone with Avatar Korra's comprehensive education in the traditional bending styles will move between long- and short-range fighting as necessary, and will use the whole environment against an enemy. Basically, pro-bending is competition fencing and traditional bending is back-alley brawling. (Please ignore the fact that many fencers had absolutely no problem being a Combat Pragmatist in a real fight).
    • The reverse was true when Korra first joined the Fire Ferrets. She was literally a last-minute replacement when their previous waterbender no-showed, and started out by thrashing the opposing players with highly effective attacks...that were against the rules, resulting in fouls against Korra. Just like what's good in a pro-bending isn't necessarily good in a fight, what's good in a fight isn't necessarily good in pro-bending.
    • The Metalbending Police of Republic City are shown to be this. The Equalists' tactics and gear were designed to counter the Metalbender's tactics and the police got routed in every open clash between the two and there weren't enough combat oriented benders of other nations to counter them (at least until the United Military shows up). Apparently, they've learned from this and season 2 will show a more diverse police force (including firebender Mako).
  • The Simpsons:
    • The town of Ogdenville makes nothing but barley, even their history is centered about barley. When the barley got tainted, this cause their entire business to go bust, and sent their town into a depression!
    • When Milhouse tries to get the role of a boy who points in a play, he fails because the direction he's asked to point isn't the same he trained for.
  • In an episode of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, Harry drops his car off at the service garage, then comes back later to find they're not finished. Perplexed that a mechanic is standing by his car doing nothing, Harry asks why the man isn't working on it. "I only do headlights," the mechanic explains. "Left headlights."
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends had an episode where the home was overrun with Scribbles (imaginary friends conjured up from infants), which as their name implied, were basically floating black line scribbles. Initially thought annoying and bothersome, they were shown as being very adept at doing chores, yet each Scribble could only do one task (such as washing the dishes, but not putting them away) or they "overload" and start shrieking until calmed down.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Unicorn ponies find their magical abilities quite limited outside their special talent, as illustrated by their Cutie Mark, such as Rarity mostly being good at magic related to tailoring and illusions. Twilight Sparkle on the other hand, by virtue of having her talent be magic in general, knows a vast variety of spells, to the point where she can levitate the top of a water tower, float it through a barn full of cows (milking the cows in the process) and make the water tower into a makeshift baby bottle, while also causing the wind to play a lullaby.
    • Twilight is cripplingly overspecialized in other ways, however. In "Winter Wrap-up" she tries to help clean up winter without her magic (because that's the traditional way), but because she's so used to using magic for everything, she screws up anything she tries to do physically (starting with putting on her saddle). She eventually leans to non-magically contribute with her TRUE strength, that of an uber-delegating Schedule Fanatic.
  • In Futurama, Bender is a bending unit, meaning he's very good at bending things, but isn't very good at anything else. In one episode, when the Robot Mafia drops an unbendable girder on Flexo, the only solution that Bender can think of is to try to bend it off of him anyway. ("Well, I don't know anything about lifting, so we only have the one option!") Miraculously, he succeeds, but falls apart in the process. On the other hand, Bender manages to pull When All You Have Is a Hammer moments from time to time, performing non-bending tasks by seeing them as being (in his words) "primitive, degenerate forms of bending".
    • In one of the Tales of Interest shorts, Fry says that he's good at video games and bad at everything else. This is actually good because of the premise of the Tale of Interest, being that real life was (quite literally) like a game.
  • In Adventure Time, Bella Noche is a being of Anti-Magic capable of neutralizing the magic of all of the wizards in Wizard City. However, when Betty managed to get to her, Bella Noche was taken down with little more than a punch.

    Real Life 
  • Animals that are very well adapted to their natural environment are much more sensitive to environmental changes. This is most noticeable in apex predators, the ones that have few natural predators and are at the top of the food chain. Adaptable, preferably omnivorous animals are much more likely to survive any kind of extinction event or environmental change.
    • The saber-tooths, whose massive choppers were designed for hunting large megafauna such as mastodons, woolly rhinos, and giant bison. But when the megafauna died out at the end of the ice age, the sabers were unable to adapt to a diet of smaller game, and so followed their massive prey to oblivion.
    • Cheetahs, specializing in ultimate sprinting, have a very light build and not much strength compared to other large African predators. Against lions, hyenas, leopards and hunting dogs, all a cheetah can do is run. When it comes to prey, anything larger than a Thompson's gazelle is off-limits to most cheetahs (some males can become large and robust enough to take down yearling wildebeests). However, it may be subverted, as some cheetahs have learned to bring down larger prey by hunting in groups.
    • The giant panda, which evolved in a time when there were massive forests of bamboo and becoming one of the few large animals that could the eat the stuff seems like a good idea at the time... before the bamboo forests started shrinking and breaking up into smaller areas, with the panda's diet effectively holding them prisoner on rapidly sinking islands. It also doesn't help that the panda eats a vegetarian diet with what is essentially a carnivore's digestive tract. The panda in many ways represents a cascade failure of the evolutionary process, a series of "good enough" kludges that let it just barely hang on in its environment. They do however have one very important evolutionary adaptation that will pretty much ensure their survival; being adorable. First priority endangered animal!
    • It's speculated that crippling overspecialization is what killed off the Neanderthals. They were strong and could use tools, and their bulky bodies ensured that they could easily withstand the cold European climates they had to face. However, they required a lot of daily calories, and were primarily meat-eaters (their diets probably consisted of about 80% meat. Scientific evidence shows that Neanderthals had digestive tracts specifically evolved to digest meat). When the larger animals they relied on died off, Neanderthals couldn't adapt quickly enough and thus died off themselves.
    • Many sea animals descended from land fauna such as seals, sea snakes, and the prehistoric ocean reptiles have special adaptations that enable them to be fast and agile in the water but at the cost of being near-helpless on land (since streamlining often calls for reduced limbs). Seals have lost their hind legs and so on land must flop about like a giant worm, while sea snakes have no belly scutes (and so cannot slither on land as well like other snakes.)
    • The same thing occurs with any domesticated animal. In the wild, an animal may develop a specialized trait, like say, running to avoid predators, but there are a number of other factors that will determine its survival, like diseases. Under human care, it lives in a controlled environment and are usually bred for a single specific purpose, say, racing. They may develop genetic disorders or be susceptible to diseases and such.
    • The majority of parasites, thanks to intense competition, are absurdly specialised, most only capable of infesting one, maybe two species. Some even require passing between multiple species in order to complete its life cycle.
    • The prehistoric pterosaur Nyctosaurus was a definite example, making this trope Older Than Dirt. It was so adapted to flight that it even lost those nifty little wing claws that would have assisted with ground locomotion. Since Nyctosaurus would have to land one way or another, the way it might have walked is a subject of debate. The current theory is that Nyctosaurus used its wings like walking sticks, using them to stablize itself as it shuffles around on its hindlegs.
    • It's theorized that this trope contributed to the extinction of the broad-billed parrot of Mauritius. Its surviving mainland relatives feed on hard palm seeds that have passed through the digestive tracts of larger animals, then been scavenged from dung by the parrots. On Mauritius, the chief herbivores that would have pre-digested such seeds were the dodo and the native giant tortoises, both of which were hunted to extinction in the 17th century. Together with deforestation, this doomed the parrots that depended on such animals' leavings for food.
    • This is particularly prevalent in insect reproduction, where in some species, the male insects only function is to mate with the female and die afterwards to feed the female or the offspring. Some don't even have mouths or digestive tracts, making their only lot in life what is described above. This has been found notably also on the deep sea Anglerfish, where the male anglerfish - which is many times smaller than the female - literally melts in to the female and becomes a pair of testicles. And a single female can have several of them.
  • The Germans made the ultimate in crippling overspecialization during WW1 with the Paris Gun - a mammoth gun that shot shells so high they had to compensate for the fact they left atmosphere. While the range of was impressive, it burned through barrels so quickly they needed to load progressively larger shells for each shot, could only shoot around 20 shots a day, and the accuracy was so poor it only stood a chance of hitting a large city.
  • During the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and the Imperial Japanese Navy both demanded that their fighter aircraft should be the most manoeuvrable aircraft in the sky, with every other attribute - speed, firepower, armour protection - a distant second. This was a sound strategy at the time, but proved to be very short-sighted. By 1943, Army Ki-43 and Navy A6 fighters found themselves unable to engage faster Allied designs that could breeze past them at high speed, and were hacked out of the sky in droves. Additionally, during this time, radar had already been installed on USN ships and aircraft (as well as their USAAF counterparts), enhancing the contrast of advantages between the two major powers of the Pacific Campaign. The A6 was furthermore hobbled by the requirement that it should have long range on internal fuel. As a consequence its wings were essentially unarmoured fuel tanks, without heavy self-sealing fuel bladders, and there was no armour for the pilot or engine. Despite being superbly manoeuvrable, a single stray bullet could turn the A6 into a fireball or kill the pilot outright. By the end of the war the Japanese had been reduced to launching hopeless kamikaze attacks against US fleets that were protected by a blizzard of radar-guided flak, with disastrous results.
    • In the same period, the Royal Italian Navy was crippled by two simple government decisions: the Royal Italian Air Force would get complete control on any and all aircrafts that weren't recon seaplanes (with no direct link between the fleet and the aircraft squadrons), and warship design would concentrate on speed to the expense of armour or range. This resulted in a fleet with no carriers and air support and ships that were either embarassingly more fragile than most of their counterparts (destroyers, light cruisers and heavy cruisers) or short ranged (the Littorio-class battleships, that were fast, well-armoured, better armed than even the Bismarck, and extremely short ranged). While this would have made sense had they fought the carrier-less French Navy as expected (in fact the Italian ships were designed specifically to take on the French ships, with battleships taking on the enemy heavy cruisers and battleships, heavy cruisers taking on the equally fast but outgunned French light cruisers, light cruisers chasing down and destroying the enemy large destroyers, and destroyers acting as commerce raiders and using their extreme speed for torpedo runs on enemy battleships), especially in light of Italy's position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea theorically allowing the Italian Royal Air Force to send their planes wherever was necessary, against the more aggressive, equilibrate and carrier-supported Royal Navy it was a major disaster, resulting in many avoidable defeats (the most crushing being the Battle of Cape Matapan, in which torpedo bombers put the battleship Vittorio Veneto out of commission for months and indirectly caused the loss of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers) and, ultimately, the loss of almost all of Italy's merchant fleet and defeat in the North African campaign.
  • With the invention of guided missiles in the early years of the Cold War, the US thought machine guns on aircraft were obsolete, and so they lost many jet fighters in the Vietnam War. The F4 Phantom was armed with the then state-of-the-art AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, which were capable of locking on to a target far outside of visual range. However, the Rules of Engagement mandated that the pilots make visual contact before firing their missiles. The problem with this was that the missiles would not lock on at that range (not to mention that they required the pilot to keep the radar focused on the target, which is easy when it hasn't seen you yet, but becomes impossible to do when it's dodging and weaving all over the place), and the pilots got slaughtered by the MiG-21. Seeing this mistake, all jet fighters today are equipped with autocannons and all pilots receive training for dogfights.
  • The Space Shuttle. It was intended to become the United States' sole space launch vehicle during the 1980s, to an extent that other launch systems - such as the Titan and Atlas rocket families - were wound down. In its favour it could carry very large payloads and it was reusable. Unfortunately the technical demands of creating a reusable vehicle meant that the Shuttle couldn't achieve anything close to geostationary orbit, which was highly desirable for communications satellites. The liquid-fuelled Centaur booster rocket that was supposed to solve this problem was abandoned, as it was felt that loading the Shuttle's cargo bay with a hydrogen-oxygen rocket was an accident waiting to happen. Ultimately the Shuttle failed to meet its ambitious launch targets, and even without the Challenger disaster the US found itself in the mid-1980s facing a dearth of launch vehicles, until production of the Atlas could be resumed.
  • Agricultural experts (at a couple of Australian universities, at least) have gone on record stating that almost all staple food crops — corn, wheat, sugar are this. Since most large scale growers buy the cheapest seeds they can, the vast majority of growers end up using the same crops, leaving a serious risk of not only a virulent strain coming along and devastating crops, but also, should the Global Warming situation go as badly as people fear, the environmental conditions for growing these common strains becoming too precarious to support wide-scale growing. We could face a global-scale famine before a more resilient strain of seed is found, grown en-masse (after all, seeds don't just come out of thin air!note ) and distributed.
    • Bananas. Before the 1950s, the single largest banana cultivar by far was the Gros Michel, which was favoured since it could survive in temperate climates and was easily shipped without any special care. Because bananas were bred at the time of their original domestication to remove the seeds from their fruit, they can only reproduce parthogenically, meaning that they are extremely slow to develop a resistance via natural mutation. This meant that the entire Gros Michel cultivar was vulnerable to, and ultimately nearly wiped out by, a single disease. The modern banana cultivar of choice is the Cavendish, which has precisely the same level of market penetration, and precisely the same potential for global collapse if the same disease mutates (as it already has) and goes global, or if a new pathogen emerges.
    • This trope is part of two different hypotheses explaining colony collapse disorder, i.e. the sudden die-off of honeybee colonies. According to the first hypothesis, centuries of selecting bees for useful traits (producing more honey, pollinating certain plants more efficiently) has reduced genetic diversity within commercial bee populations, leaving them vulnerable to pathogens. In the second one, feeding bees a diet of pollen from just one species of plant (i.e. one of the commercial food crops) leaves them with a less healthy immune system than feeding them pollen from several different plant species.
  • Some martial arts, but especially jodo. It is useful on defeating an unarmoured katana-wielding opponent. If the opponent has anything else - even a tachi or a Western longsword, which is slightly longer than the jo stick, or has any armour, such as street hockey gloves - jodo is useless.
  • Mostly averted in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, where it's pretty much universal that you have to have some proficiency at wherever the fight goes, even if it's purely defensive. The thing is, the "keep the fight where you want it" bit pretty much requires learning the opposite of the techniques useful in the situation you're trying to keep in. You're going to end up on the ground very quickly if you don't know much grappling (as most techniques to get a man to the ground where grappling is more useful are in themselves grappling based), and if you're no good at striking, chances are you'll be beaten to a bloody pulp before you can get anywhere near the ground where striking is less useful.
    • UFC fighter Cody Mc Kenzie has an absolutely lethal guillotine choke, one which has felled the vast majority of his opponents. When that fails, however, he's highly vulnerable on the ground, succumbing to rear-naked chokes against Yves Edwards and Vagner Rocha. Conversely, Bellator's Giva Santana, "The Arm Collector," specializes in armbars but has an impressive grappling game in addition.
    • Rousimar Palhares fell victim to this trope when his trademark leglocks didn't work on Alan Belcher, as he had no way to stop his opponent's ground and pound, and lost by TKO. Ironically, leglocks would also prove Palhares' downfall in a fight that he won... when he not only didn't let go of a fighter's leg when the fighter tapped but even seemed to resist the referee's own attempt to separate them, he was not only denied a Submission of the Night monetary bonus but dismissed.
  • While it's usually averted in the sport of roller derby (most blockers can also jam in a pinch, and most jammers can throw a good hit,) happens from time to time. Some jammers are fast and agile enough to get through the pack without any help at all, but if they get so much as a love tap, they go down hard.
  • Many sole proprietorships and independent businesses - particularly those in retail.
  • Anyone who become highly skilled in niche software, either the coding or the running, and then been forced to try and change careers.
  • The South during The American Civil War. Not only were they so focused on cotton that they had exactly one factory that could produce cannon, they didn't have enough land left over to grow enough food. Even with the Confederate government taking food from private farms for the war effort, the Confederate army was often severely underfed and it wasn't uncommon for soldiers to be malnourished. The problems of supply facing the Confederate army were so acute that some historians have suggested that the Battle of Gettysburg was precipitated by a Confederate brigade's attempt to raid a shoe warehouse.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Roman Legionaries were trained to fight as a cohesive unit, not as individuals. While this strategy worked for them quite well most of the time, it hit a massive snag during the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. The thick woods and rough terrain of the region forced the Romans to split into smaller groups, which enabled the Germanic tribesmen, who were better fighters individually, to overwhelm and defeat them. The defeat proved to be psychologically devastating for Rome, bringing an abrupt halt to its then-relentless expansion.
  • Ancient Sparta had this problem on two fronts:
    • Spartan soldiers had a reputation for being the most well-trained in Ancient Greece. However, they only trained one kind of troop - the heavy-infantry hoplite - and in fact trained their troops so hard that their army was relatively small. They had no cavalry, navy, or light infantry. The tactics they were able to execute were severely limited, and their army was too small to maintain extended conflicts.
    • With every adult Spartan male devoted to military training and every adult Spartan female devoted to child-rearing, every other job was done by slaves. Sparta's economy and infrastructure was almost exclusively maintained by an enormous slave population. Whenever there was a revolt (which was often), the entire city-state ground to a halt and had to perform a brutal purge, and then go off and enslave some hapless nearby village as replacements.
  • Some 1960s show rods went this way. The Surfite was designed to carry the driver and a surfboard. No room for a passenger or groceries (or a wetsuit, for that matter); Mini-powered, no explanation as to why a theoretical owner wouldn't just buy a Mini wagon was ever offered.
  • In 1906 the Royal Navy started building battlecruisers, very big 'super scouts' whose special task would be to destroy enemy armoured cruisers, whom they should be able to both run down and then outgun. Essentially they carried a dreadnought's artillery and were able to reach speeds normally associated with destroyers, but they were much more lightly armoured than a battleship. This worked well enough in the battle of the Falklands in 1914, where the two British battlecruisers were, as designed, in a situation to chase down and destroy enemy armoured cruisers (although in that battle the German forces were so outclassed that even if the Royal Navy had used armoured cruisers instead of battlecruisers the result would have been the same). However, seeing the new battlecruisers essentially made armoured cruisers obsolete, the German Navy started building battlecruisers of its own in 1907. These were more heavily armoured but carried slightly lighter guns and proved to be able to more than hold their own against the British ones during World War I. It is worth noting that while the British regarded their designs as cruisers with lots of big guns, the German designs were more 'faster battleships' and never actually refered to their own ships as battlecruisers. In the battle of Jutland it emerged that the British battlecruisers were especially vulnerable to plunging fire, so that two of them simply blew up after a couple of hits. The Royal Navy's problem was that their intended role had gone. With improvements to aircraft they were no longer needed to scout for the fleet, which left them solely with a combat role. However Battlecruisers simply were too big and carried too big guns for them to be used just against smaller fry but were essentially too vulnerable to be used against German battleships and battlecruisers.
    • A few years after the introduction of battlecruisers Admiral Fisher introduced another new type called light battlecruisers. These were even more lightly armoured and carried fewer but even bigger guns. Lord Fisher intended to use them for operations against the Baltic coast of Germany, but during World War I it soon became clear that mines and submarines made the Baltic a no-go area for British capital ships. It also emerged that some of "Fisher's Follies" were so lightly built that they suffered structural damage from firing their own guns. In the end all three ships (HMS Glorious, Courageous and Furious) were converted to aircraft carriers.
    • The Battlecruiser as originally designed rapidly became an evolutionary dead end. With improvements to engines navies discovered they could build what became know as 'Fast Battleships' and invested in these types of ships instead. Existing ships were mostly happily scrapped at the end of WW1 and ones in development (the USS Lexington for example) converted into aircraft carriers.
  • During the early 40s US tank doctrine was that the role of tanks was to support infantry, while the role of actually fighting enemy tanks was to be taken by dedicated "tank destroyers". Hence entire classes of Tanks but No Tanks were developed parallel to the actual tanks with the difference that tank destroyers were given complete priority on gun development. This may not have been so bad if the tanks were allowed to have the same more powerful guns as the tank destroyers, but since the experts knew best, US tanks (which in this case was the M4 Sherman) were given next to zero prioty in being upgunned. As a result US tank forces spent the rest of WW2 playing catch up in terms of firepower, and suffered as a result. The actual tank destroyers, which in most cases had less armour and were open topped, were also often forced into acting like 'tanks', a mission they had not been designed for, and suffered as a result.
  • For many years would reject any video that lacked "entertainment value". What constituted "entertainment value" (never explained anywhere on the site) was up to...well, one person, occasionally two. This despite the fact that the purpose of the site was to showcase the fastest possible time to complete a game, and that certain genres were inherently "unentertaining" to speedrun. HUNDREDS of videos were rejected because of this nebulous standard. Eventually the site relented and created three tiers, of which the Vault now contains those previously scorned games. The most "entertaining" runs are in the Stars tier, while Moons is in the middle.
  • Pretty much as soon as guided missiles (and later smart bombs) were developed, entire classes of combat aircraft became overspecialized and went extinct. A large air force in World War 2 might have heavy bombers, medium bombers, light bombers, fighter-bombers, dive-bombers, torpedo-bombers, ground attack aircraft, and fighters, and even the fighters would often be specialized into night fighters, high altitude escorts, high-speed interceptors, and so on. As soon as technology allowed an aircraft to carry out multiple roles merely by changing the weapons loadout, allowing the same aircraft to fight other aircraft in all weather, precisely drop munitions, or fire missiles at targets on the ground, floating on the ocean, or in the air, such overspecialization became pointless.
  • Steam locomotives. Since a steam engine works on constant force (instead of constant power, like electric motors and internal combustion engines), gearing a steam engine is extremely difficult, hence the gigantic flywheels. Since different railroad tasks require different performance (a freight train must have a lot of torque while a passenger train must be fast and a local train must have good acceleration), it was impossible to build an all-purpose steam engine, but the various tasks required highly sophisticated special engines. Freight train engines have usually multiple small traction wheels and idlers, while passenger train engine has few traction wheels and they are large, and shunt engines have no idlers but are all-traction. This overspecizalization was both crippling and extremely expensive for the railroad companies. The diesel and electric engines superceded the steam engines almost overnight in the 1950s in many countries. The same diesel or electric engine can be used to pull both freight, passenger and local trains, being true all-purpose engines.

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Clingy CostumeImageSource/Comic BooksDishing Out Dirt
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alternative title(s): Crippling Overspecialisation; Cripplingly Overspecialized
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